• Published 14th Apr 2017
  • 2,752 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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V: Blackened

The door remained open in my wake, the spring meant to pull it shut hanging from what remained of its bolts. A wedge of light cascaded into the interior of the building, painting motes in the air and splashing across the layer of dust that coated the concrete. I was on a small, raised platform, with a few steps leading down- a few things flickered and flashed in the dark, reflecting the meager sunlight. I blinked into the dark, then slipped my phone out of my pocket and flicked up the menu, turning on the flashlight. The little flash shot a round spot of light into the oppressive black, banishing it from a wide circle, the shadows shifting and flowing around the light as I shifted it back and forth, examining the interior of the garage.

A variety of machines lay scattered throughout the dust and detritus of years. This had obviously been a maintenance bay, judging by the lifters and pits where the vehicles were supposed to go. What looks to be a jeep with a heavy machine gun mounted on the top is at the far end, but the closer bay is empty, tools scattered hither and tither as if whomever had left here had fixed a vehicle and left in a hurry, stopping only to seal the main doors behind them.

I walked down the few, shallow steps to the concrete floor, noting that they're flatter and wider than normal human steps. A railing is off to one side, but it's lower than normal- about halfway up my calves instead of at my waist. I keep my hand away from the grime that's coating the steel. At the back of the garage, a window flickers in the light. An observation area, pointed outwards into the motor pool, another security door to its side. I flick my light across the jeep, noting with surprise that it has no real damage or wear to it- it's not even rusted. The crest that was present on the other vehicle, the sun and moon, is present on this vehicle's door. Strangest of all, however, is how the vehicle has some sort of plug instead of an inlet for a gas tank.

After a moment of puzzling over this, I shake my head and turn back to the observation area door. As I approach it, I note a small, red light to the right of it- shining my phone's light there reveals a card reader. I reach across and pull out the ID card I'd picked up, considered them both for a moment, then swiped the magnetic strip through it. After a moment, the red light flicked off and a green one came on, and several metallic clicks came from the door. A slight push, and it swung open, revealing the next room to my light.

A desk, circular with a hole in the center and slightly elevated, was situated in front of the grime-caked window. A computer, like the one that had been in the gatehouse, was here on the desk itself. This one had two monitors, not just one, and these were intact. A small white light at their bottom right corners slowly brightened and faded in a repeating pattern. Three doors led out of the room besides the one that I had come in through, each locked with another card reader, and what looked to be a large, heavy blast door blocked the main hallway reaching to the back. A few lockers lay against the walls, bits of rust coating them, their mesh fronts coated with a fine layer of grey dust, as everything else. A rack of pistols, assault rifles and a single, longer rifle leaned against one of the walls. Looking closer, I realized that two of the rifles actually looked to be shotguns. Underneath the rack, small cubbyholes filled with ammo boxes ran to the floor.

Using the card to get through the card readers, I discovered that two of the rooms appeared to be barracks, and the third was a more fleshed-out equipment room. Armour, designed for a variety of species, lay scattered on shelves with a number of other supplies of varying descriptions. The barracks were a number of bunk beds, of varying types, stacked on top of each-other. Lockers sat inbetween each set of beds, labels so coated with dirt that it was impossible to make out what they said.

At last, I was left only with the blast doors. Thick, solid steel, hydraulic and- judging from the signage- electromagnetic seals. Someone built this thing to last. A terminal is set into the wall to one side, gently glowing, and I swipe my fingers against the screen. It seems to flick up a passcode menu for a moment before a lock appears. Nothing else seems to happen, no matter how I flick and tap, so I take a step back.

Doors locked, and this one sealed. Most likely, a security lockdown was triggered in this facility when it was abandoned, and was never taken down. Obviously, this door protected something big and important, which meant that there had to be some way in. Some way past the lockdown and into whatever was behind this door- hopefully, answers.

I breathed out and turned, dust swirling in the air currents from the motion. Nothing else was in this room, except... the desk, sitting there with a computer monitor on it. Given the position of the desk and the window, I would wager good money that it was a security desk, which meant there was a very good chance that not only could it initiate security lockdowns, it could also lift them. As this was as good a plan as any I had, I approached the desk, walking up a few more unusually wide steps to get to it.

There was not an office chair behind it, more of a cushion with a low backing on a swivel, no arm rests- obviously. It creaked and groaned in protest as I dusted it off and sat down, looking at the surface of the desk. Four input devices lay before the two screens themselves, a keyboard and a mouse, then a strange-looking panel with two large buttons on it and a pad with a small crystal-laden stylus in a groove at the bottom. The latter were obviously meant for ponies, and the former for species with digits, though I wondered at having both.

I hit a button on the bottom of a monitor, and the screen came on with a gentle glow. After a moment of warming up, it came up with a screen, the icon of an ID card. I blinked at the image, then searched around the small desk space and found one thing I'd missed: another card reader, this one with a wire leading towards a hole in the desk and down to the computer tower. The symbol was clear, and as I looked closer, I realized that there was no pixelation- this was not an LED screen. I wasn't sure what to do with this information, so I filed it for later review, when I could discover more.

I dug out Gilded Feather's ID card and swiped it through the reader. There was a faint beep, and a momentary screen that read "PROCESSING..." under a spinning loading sign before it changed to:

ACCESS GRANTED: WELCOME, GILDED FEATHER. LAST ACCESS: 280560 HOUR(S)

I blinked at the number, then shook my head and ignored it. Another thing to file for later review when I had access to more information. Another piece of the puzzle. What came up next was a password screen, a line and a blinking cursor. Thinking back to the lone decoration on the ID card, and the only thing that it could refer to, I typed in 'celestia'. Rejected. I thought for a moment, then tried again, capitalizing the first letter. Nothing. I chewed a fingernail, then tried again: 'Celest1a', then grinned as the words 'ACCESS GRANTED' flashed on the screen. Thank deities for quick, lazy passwords.

This time, the screen was obviously the desktop of an OS. A start menu button was in the lower right hand corner, with a date and time next to it- 22/09/1046. One thousand forty-six... would that be after Discord? A number of application boxes were scattered across the desktop- security cameras, perimeter security, infrared detection... ah, lockdown. I moved the mouse to the icon and clicked it, bringing up another screen with a simple map of the entire facility. A number of locations, including ones called 'ARMOURY' and 'VEHICLE STORAGE' were showing up red, as well as a large red block behind 'VEHICLE MAINTENANCE' that was labelled as 'FACILITY ENTRANCE'. A number of buttons with a variety of actions were scattered around the screen, and I searched through them for a moment before finding the 'LIFT LOCKDOWN' one and clicking on it. A window flashed up, with two passwords and a line of text.

DISENGAGING LOCKDOWN REQUIRES CONFIRMATION OF PASSWORD AND ID BY PRESENT USER AND SITE ADMINISTRATOR

I sighed and leaned back, rubbing my eyes. Alright, so I needed a second password and ID card, from the 'site administrator'. Hopping back to the map and searching it for a moment, I found where the office was located. Thankfully, it was not a section that was in lockdown, and was just across the compound from here. Flipping my phone's light back on, I got up from the chair and made my way back through the darkened vehicle bay and out into the courtyard. I shaded my eyes with a hand for a moment, blinking and grimacing as my eyes got used to the sudden light.

The compound was much the same as I'd left it, thankfully, though I now noted the rusted remainder of what looked like another jeep against one of the walls. As I approached it, I realized that the concrete around the front of the vehicle was cracked, and the front and engine was crumpled. Black stains were splashed across the concrete, and appeared to have slightly corroded the metal where it had splashed- though it was difficult to tell through the rust and corrosion that had occurred. I shivered and gave the wreckage a wide berth as I made my way towards the administrative offices.

A loud creak sounded from the hinges of the steel door to the offices as I used Gilded's keys to open it. I stepped inside, glancing around a little, then jumping when a loud, resounding BANG came from behind me. I spun, eyes wide and searching, then relaxed as I realized that it was just the door smacking into the concrete wall after I swung it open. I sighed in indignation, then turned back to the interior.

A number of desks and cubicles were arranged in rows behind a reception desk, each with another screen on it. The walls were just tall enough to separate the cubicles from each other, but not tall enough to hide what was in them, and I could clearly see the various random knick knacks that any office desk acquired with time, all grey with dust and time. All was visible thanks to a number of windows placed regularly in the outer wall, grime and dust slightly dimming the light that came through them but still allowing enough through for the room to be relatively well lit. I shifted through the dust, pushing open a gate in a short separating wall and stepping through, letting it creak gently shut behind me as I made my way towards the door in the back labelled in faded gold letters as the site admin's office. As I passed cubicle after cubicle, I glanced left and right, catching glances of the shreds of personality left in each of them.

A coffee mug, with the words #1 Dad. A bucket of floater pens, the water long gone from them, ink dried out. A pile of moldering sticky notes that had obviously wilted from the computer screen like leaves from a tree in Fall as the adhesive had failed over the years. One had something still taped to it, the adhesive holding it lopsided as one side had failed. I hesitated in the opening, then stepped inward, feeling almost as if it was a violation of privacy, taking the object and tearing what was left of the strip of tape that had held it, cleaning off the layer of dust and looking at it.

It was a photograph. A unicorn stallion, goofy grin on his face, forelegs over the backs of two other ponies- a Pegasus and another unicorn, one a teenager and one younger. The Pegasus, the teen, was obviously trying to grimace, poorly hiding how her lips curved up at the ends and her eyes sparkled as she looked at her father. The little unicorn foal was mid-laugh, mouth open, mirth written across his face and a "I <3 Manehatten" hat on his head that was obviously far too big for him. Their mother, a pegasus like her older daughter, was nuzzling her son and smiling so wide it looked as if her lower jaw was going to come off, the barest evidence of moisture in her eyes. I touched the image of the happy family with a finger, then turned the photograph over. There, in blue spidery writing, was a date and a few words.

03/01/1010, Iron's first trip to Manehatten!

I traced the words with a finger, mouthing them to myself. What had happened to this family? To this solitary moment of happiness, frozen in time for so long? Almost reverently, I cleared a patch of dust from the desk and set the photo down on the clear spot with a gentleness that surprised me. The rest of the walk to the door, I did not glance left nor right.

The door opened easily, with no need for persuasion from the ring of keys clipped to my belt. Inside was a large central desk, with a name tag that was labelled with 'site admin Dotted Line'. What was left of a bunch of papers covered the wooden desk surface, some piled in rusted wire baskets whose labels had long faded to white. The chair here had collapsed, and lay in pieces in the dust, and the desk itself leaned slightly to the right, the computer monitor on the floor and badly cracked. The drawers were held shut, but some yanking got them open.

The first two drawers were filing, and contained the detritus of papers reduced to nothing but bits and pieces, a remainder of what it was. Nothing particularly useful, though I yanked out the rails, which made it much easier to lever open the next set of drawers. The first was office supplies, a stapler, some paperclips, rubber bands that had dried up and fallen to bits, some pens and some random bits and bobs. The second, however, held a number of plastic cards- and, hidden among them, was an ID card with an eight-digit number written on it with marker. I grinned and took the thing out, leaving the drawers open as I swept back around the desk and made my way back through the office. I paused for a moment as I came level with the cubicle that had contained the photograph. I hesitated, then touched the low dividing wall and moved on.

The door had swung closed after I had left it behind, rebounding from where it had smacked into the concrete wall. My mouth twitched in slight annoyance, shifting the rifle back a little as I reach out and pressed a hand to the cool surface, pushing it open. And then I froze, eyes wide.

There, in the center of the courtyard, was a wolf made of black, dripping pitch.