• Published 14th Apr 2017
  • 2,780 Views, 135 Comments

To Outlast - Camolot the Creator

Matt has always wished to visit the world of Equestria. He finally makes it, only to find an empty world barren of life. What happened? Where is everypony?

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XIX: Retrieval

“Thirteen.” Luna sat up, telekinesis punching a number of buttons and eyes flicking across the various lights that came up. “Computer systems are good. Engines are good. Error codes… none, really… praise Faust for cool, dry, long-term storage.”

I sat up, licking my lips nervously. I drew back the bolt of my rifle, checking the chamber, patting the magazines I’d stuffed in my pockets. I thought about the tarwolf we’d killed in the entryway, how much it’d taken to put the thing down, and I wondered if a machine gun and an assault rifle were enough. There had to be more of those things out there, lurking, waiting… and they’d pounce the moment we were in the open. I didn’t doubt that.

“We do not have to do this.” I twitched my head to the side to find Luna watching me. “These things, a few documents… we can find them elsewhere. Our answers may lie in some place, but we have no indication whether that place is here.”

I hesitated, gripping the rifle closely. Then, I shook my head.

“We don’t know that they’re here. We don’t know that they’re not. We… we have to take the risk. At least, we have to try.” Luna’s face turned grave, and she nodded slowly.

She clambered off of the bench she’d been lying on, moving towards the mounted weapon and checking it over one last time. I hopped down from my seat, grabbing a box of rifle magazines and tossing it into the back, followed by a number of assault rifles- backups, in case the big gun failed, or she was unable to reload. As I picked up each rifle, I loaded a magazine into it, chambering the first round and engaging the safety, before setting it gently into a rack of sorts designed specifically for them.

“Four ought to be enough, methinks.” Luna mused, tilting the machine gun and sighting along its barrel.

“Yeah… if four aren’t enough…” I trailed off, my fists clenching nervously.

“Let us not dwell on it. If it is not enough, then we seal the doors and try again another time, with heavier weaponry.”

Carefully, her magic extracted the charging cable from its port, tossing it to the side of the garage. The lights on the dashboard stayed lit, and after a few long seconds of staring, Luna nodded to herself.

“Core is holding its charge and not burning out. Most likely, it will at least hold for what we want to do with it.”

“I’m… not exactly familiar, here, so I guess I’ll have to take your word for it.” I offered a nervous smile to Luna, which, after a moment, she returned. “So… are we ready?”

She looked over what preparations we could make, a small grimace twisting her mouth as she did. The bare rollcage of the vehicle, the weapon mount, the exposed seats, the weapons stacked in the back… I could see what the expression was about. Not just that, I agreed with the sentiment, but-

“I do not think we can be more prepared than this.”

I nodded. The rifle’s butt pressed against my shoulder, my shoes tapping against the concrete door as I walked towards the smaller door to one side of the garage. Making a break for it across the open area of the courtyard was out of the question, not without the cover of the heavy guns the vehicle had on its back, but I could at least have a look around. Check, to make sure that none of the tarwolves were right on top of us. I shared a look with Luna as I approached the door, and she lifted the barrel of the gun, not quite pointing it at the door, before nodding for me to proceed. I took a deep breath, pointed the rifle’s muzzle, then gently opened the door and swung it wide.

One foot was all that made it to the other side of the frame- I didn’t want to be any farther out in the open, in case I’d miscalculated. Slowly, I turned my head from left to right, my eyes lingering on the crashed vehicle for just a moment before moving on.

The courtyard itself was just as empty as it had been before, a complete lack of the tarwolves in evidence. Maybe our altercation with the other one hadn’t drawn any more of them? One could hope, anyway… a hope that was rapidly dashed as I looked farther afield, beyond the fence that ringed the aboveground compound. Out there, among the hills between us and the Everfree, I saw something that made my heart rise into my throat.

Above the grass, casting it in darkness, masses of shadow with legs moved, wandering aimlessly. Every one of them moved at the same rate, though they differed in size, and every single one seemed to be simply wandering in a single direction. My presence on the outside hadn’t alerted them, nor had the sound of the door opening. However, a single thought of the heavy garage door and the rust that no doubt caked some of its mechanisms, made me swallow dryly.

Was it really such a great idea to bring the vehicle along? Was I sure of that? Me, moving alone… I could probably make it across the courtyard to the building opposite quickly and quietly. No attention, no fuss, no tarwolves. However, the moment we pressed the open button on the garage door, I knew that every singe one of those things were going to come streaking in our direction, and I wasn’t precisely faithful in the ability of the perimeter fence to keep them out.

I ducked back behind the doorframe, holding out a hand to gently ease the door closed as I thought. Certainly, me moving on my own was going to be easier to slip by unnoticed, but that was assuming that every single one of them was beyond the fence. No backup plan, outside of a rifle that would alert them all as surely as opening the door, and the first time I fired it, they’d be all over me. So, instead of having them all over me from the start and being under the cover of a heavy machinegun the entire time, I would probably make it all the way across to the building before I engaged one at point blank and either died horribly, or killed exactly one before I attracted the attention of every one in the area.

I rubbed my hand over my face. If the garage door had been quiet, maybe we could’ve primed the pump there, kept the car and its heavy weapons in reserve in case things went south without attracting the attention of every single creature within several kilometers radius. Maybe, if we had a few weeks and an industrial ton of grease, we could lubricate the entire garage door and prevent it from making a godawful racket.

I sighed. I could think of all the wishes and maybies that I wanted to, but it wouldn’t change our current situation, nor would it change what I thought was the best plan we had: roll the hell out, plug anything that moves, grab the documents and scoot. I approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, my shoe squeaking against the footrest as I climbed in.

“You ready?”

“Ready as I feel I shall ever be.”

I settled into the driver’s seat, casting a glance over the control panel for the vehicle. Behind a wheel that was closer to a steering yolk, probably to make it easier to operate with hooves, was a flat screen panel, on which there was merely a small battery symbol- red, with 13% sitting solidly on top of it. I licked my lips, tightening my hands around the wheel, and looked right. There, on the dash between the front benches, was a large, flat screen that was entirely off. There were a number of physical controls connected to the steering column, but the one that drew my attention was the large red button between then console screen and the wheel.

“Is that the, er… on button?” Luna leaned over my shoulder, looking where I was pointing, then nodded. “Ah. Good, just… checking.”

I pressed it.

Instantly, the displays lit up, displaying a logo and words, saying SISTER ARMS. After a moment, the displays settled on an actual informational display, gauges behind the steering wheel and what I thought was navigational information on the console display.

“So, uh, there was this truck out there- it had physical gauges?”

“This vehicle is a newer model, less rudimentary.” Luna replied, absently. From the clicks, I guessed she was fiddling with the mounted gun.

A quick glance at the console screen revealed a series of options, one of which was labelled ‘connected doors’. A single tap brought up another menu: a list of entrances, most of which read ‘offline’, and one that glowed green. I hovered my finger over it, hesitating for a long moment, thinking about how dangerous what I was about to do, then grit my teeth and pressed the screen. Instantly, a horrible shrieking noise filled the garage as the door began to come up; I gripped the wheel, hands so tight they squeaked against the material, watching it rise with all the speed of a geriatric snail, and remembering exactly how many tarwolves I’d seen out there and how every single one of them would be alerted by this.

“A few moments more!” Luna yelled over the noise, swiveling the gun to the side slightly.

Wait, wait… now! I pressed down one of the odd pedals on either side of the driver’s couch, and the vehicle jumped forwards with a hum, rolling out of the garage and into the open space. I turned my head to the left, and felt my muscles tense as I saw the tarwolves, huge black bundles of gooey tentacles, charging across the grass towards the perimeter fence. I locked eyes with one, staring into those glittering, blank black orbs, then watched it practically explode as Luna opened up with the heavy machine gun.

I slammed on the brakes just in front of the building, Luna swiveling the gun to keep pouring fire into the approaching monsters, the huge rounds making the gun bark like a running explosion and tearing holes through the black goop with each hit. She was screaming something at them, a challenge or a taunt, but the screaming gunfire drowned her out.

I leapt from the vehicle, stumbling slightly on the concrete as I tried to keep ahold of my rifle, fumbling it into position as I ran towards the door. I ran straight through the opening, then skidded to a halt and turned to the right, sprinting towards the administrator’s office. If there was anything that would inform us of what was happening, it would be there. I could hear Luna shouting insults at the tarwolves, taunting them between loud bursts of noise from the machine gun. I’d have to hurry.

I burst through the door to the admin office, rapidly trying to organize my priorities as I did so. The paper in the filing cabinets hadn’t been in best condition, but there were ones that were more sealed than others, and there was something else: the computer tower underneath the desk. I had to move quickly, though.

I shunted the rolling chair behind the desk so hard that it clattered against the floor, but that didn’t matter to me. I yanked the cables leading from the desktop, removing the entire tower, slinging my rifle over my shoulder and lifting it in my arms. I ran back to the door as fast as I could, and stepped out into the open.

Luna tracked another tarwolf with the turret, which chattered deafeningly as the rounds tore it apart, causing black oil to splash itself across the fence it had been trying to climb and over the concrete on this side. More and more of them were stacking themselves against the chain link, pressing it inwards, trying to get over it, and I could see the parts that sagged more from holes blown in the wire from stray rounds.

“MAKE HASTE! THE BARRIER WILL NOT HOLD!” She yelled from her position.

I didn’t stop to reply, just dumped the tower in the vehicle and went back for more.

There were few files that remained intact when I touched them, but after some desperate searching, I located a drawer full of file folders and what appeared to be data storage drives of some kind, made of crystal and metal. I filled my pockets, did load after load, and every time I passed through the courtyard, noted in worry that the fence sagged more and more even as Luna killed them by the dozens.

I dropped the box of files I’d found in an adjacent office, and just as I was about to turn and run back for more, I heard a horrific shrieking noise. My head jerked towards the entrance to the base, where… something stood.

It stood head and shoulders above the tarwolves. Black tentacles radiated from its back, feeling the air about it. I couldn’t tell immediately by its shape what animal it was supposed to be, it was so malformed, and I could barely make out the four legs, tail and head. As I watched, it opened its muzzle and shrieked again- just in time for Luna to swivel, yell back at it, and fill its open muzzle with antimaterial rounds.

It stumbled, every round punching a hole through which black fluid leaked, then lept out of the line of fire. Luna tracked it, or tried to, but for something so big, it was fast.

“‘Tis time to go! We are unsure how long we can hold it off!”

I jerked, shaken out of my gaping, and scrambled around the side of the vehicle to the driver’s door. I jumped onto the bench, then pressed down the pedal, speeding us back into the garage while Luna sprayed rounds from the steadily heating gun. The moment we were inside, I hit the brakes, stopping us just sort of the raised concrete with a cry of squealing tires, then jumped out and ran for the ‘close’ button. Luna put a final brace of rounds into the thing, causing it to stumble away, and then I reached it and slammed my fist into the button.

The garage door closed swiftly, but immediately bowed inwards as the creature slammed into it. I had extreme doubt it would hold for very long- given the heavy blow, it was shocking it’d held at all. I grabbed a box of files, Luna wrapping her telekinesis around as much as she could grab, the two of us moving as quickly as we could to the bunker entrance and dumping it just inside the caution lines, before going back for more. By the third trip, we were scraping up stray papers and a couple of storage drives… and then the garage door split down the middle.

I turned in a moment, but it hadn’t failed entirely. Through the split in the metal, I could see the swarming tarwolves, the huge creature that had come for us backing up for another charge, this one the finishing blow. At my side, I heard the sound of telekinesis and the racking of charging handles, and, grimly, I unslung my rifle and pointed it, disengaging the safety.

And then the garage was filled with the sound of gunfire.

Five assault rifles and one machine gun blazed, sending bullets through the gap in the door and tearing into the hordes outside. Tarwolves were torn apart by the sudden storm, only to be replaced by further ranks surging forwards, only for them to dissolve under the fire as well. I could barely aim, emptying my magazine like this, but I didn’t have to- they were so tight and so close that every single round hit something. My rifle clicked dry, and I dumped the magazine, fumbling a new one as I tried to insert it- and then, one forced its way through

My eyes widened, and time slowed. The magazine clicked home, but there was no round chambered, and I didn’t have enough time- its legs coiled like springs underneath it, and it leaped… right past me, and at Luna, who had plenty of ammo. Guns blazed, and the sheer force of rounds knocked it right out of the air, smearing it across the concrete. I swallowed, hands shaking…

“Matt! We must go!”

I jerked, chambered the first round in the fresh magazine and turned. Luna had popped the gun from its mount and was holding it in her magic, hustling towards the bunker entrance, and I followed rapidly. Behind me, I could hear the steel giving out, and my feet pounded against the concrete- and then I was over the line, in the bunker, and Luna drove her hoof into the button. The thick bunker door slammed down behind us, between us and the horde outside.

Safe. For the moment.

Author's Note:

Welcome to the longest gap of no-update that you've probably ever seen! Still, though, it's something.

Comments ( 11 )

Well it’s good that your back. Keep up the good work.

welcome back, interesting that the tar wolf ignored him to go for luna, Magic hunters or are they like golems and are basically having an ' Error, file not found' when it comes to him so they ignore him.

Glory to the Equestrian Empire, it lives! Good to see this worked on again, I await further chapters and developments.

Here, lemme just put down an upvote for this criminally underrated story... Ah, done.

Oh, and added to my watch list. :)

Damn, what a intense chapter.
And welcome back!!!
No worries about the gap. I think the longest I've seen was 5 years, so you're golden!:rainbowlaugh:

Yeah, this is a pretty great story.

I'm happy. I'm always happy when a good story continues.

gasp an update??

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