• Published 28th Jan 2018
  • 5,648 Views, 362 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - War Does Change - tom117z

It has been nearly two hundred years since the megaspells rained fire down on the world, reducing it to a tainted wasteland. And ever since that day, the changelings have never been sighted in the wasteland...

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2 - Introductory

Chapter Two: Introductory

“Each journey begins with a single step.”


I don’t really know why it still bothers me so much. The sky had been nothing but the same dreary brown clouds ever since the day I was born, the pegasi upstairs not overly keen on sharing the Goddess’ sun. It was no different on that admittedly dull morning in New Appleoosa, with very little sunlight breaking through to brighten up the small town made up largely of various train pieces.

If only someone could create a large, colourful mural to brighten the sky up. Or just kick out the stick-up-their-own-asses Enclave and clear things up a little.

But wish as I might, I didn’t see that happening anytime soon.

With those depressing thoughts over, I lit up my horn and let my pale white aura bring over a checklist from the wagon I was hauling behind me. I was in this shithole of a town for one very specific purpose, and those were caps. There was a mare, a ghoul of all things, who was always interested in buying whatever random pieces of junk a scavenger like me might bring in.

I let go of my magic and held the checklist in my brown coated hoof.

Just my fucking luck I got a coat as brown as the sky and a mane a slight shade darker. At least my green eyes gave some variety, not like anypony gave a damn. I was just another scavenger coming to see Ditzy Doo, the wagon and cutie mark depicting a pile of scrap was a ‘small’ giveaway.

My parents, who were long since raider bait, even had the decency to give their little colt a name like Scrap Heap. I really was cursed from birth, wasn’t I?

Ignoring that, I looked at the name of the shop I was heading towards. Absolutely Everything was its name, suitable since that’s pretty much exactly what the owner sold. You wanted something in New Appleoosa, you went to Ditzy Doo.

I had met Ditzy a few times previously since she was always the one to buy my wares whenever I frequented the town. The ghoul was pleasant enough, and always eager to part with her caps for whatever piece of junk you may present her. Saying that, though, she had her… eccentricities.

Seriously, how can anypony in the wasteland be that damned bubbly?

You’d think living two hundred years in a decaying world would turn you feral, like most other ghouls. But not Ditzy. Somehow that mare just keeps on trucking along, come what may. I suppose I have to respect that, despite her clumsiness, it has to take a serious force of will to stay sane for so long.

Or maybe she’s just that oblivious, but what do I know about these things?

I trotted slowly past the various ponies of the town, each one shooting me the odd wary glance. I suppose they had a right to their wariness, trust isn’t a common or necessarily wise thing in the wastes of Equestria. And some scavengers can be as mean as any raider given half the chance, especially if you encroach upon ‘their salvage’.

Fuck that shit. Who would shoot a pony for a piece of scrap metal?

Nevertheless, they all moved on after sneaking their looks. They all had somewhere to be, whether that be helping keep the town afloat or simply heading towards the bottle and a future headache. Whatever those ponies wished to do, I just pulled up outside Absolutely Everything and brought the wagon to a stop. I wrapped my magic around the harness and unhitched myself from the wagon, casting them aside and turning to take inventory. I had a good idea from previous experience how much Ditzy would pay for each separate piece and certain ways to haggle the price up. Too bad I was out of muffins. Not that I’d ever had one in the first place, but if I ever did I knew exactly where I’d take them.

Content with my haul, and the caps soon to line my pockets, I turned from the wagon and walked briskly into the building behind me. Like everything else, it was cobbled together. But having accommodation at all was a gift nowadays.

Wish I had a house. Maybe someday…

The inside of the shop was a disaster area. Pieces of, well… absolutely everything was scattered all over the place. Pieces of old robots, random scrap, and even some guns and armour. Anything you could imagine, sans suits of T-45 power armour. The last thing the town needed was for the Steel Rangers to come knocking down the door.

I must admit, I was tempted to spend some of my earnings on the selection of weapons and armour she had. I had a simple set of leather barding strapped to my hide, protective but limited against anything substantial. And then there was the 9mm pistol strapped into its holster, a pea shooter by many standards. Though both were well maintained, my ability to keep things in peak condition is something I do pride myself on.

And there, at the counter rising out of the junk, was the chirpy ghoul I was looking for. Ditzy was busy at work on a terminal, mismatched eyes narrowed as she tapped away with rotted hooves. Her skeletal wings seemed to twitch in irritation, and the pegasus had yet to notice me.

I coughed loudly into a hoof, the mare giving a small and rather cute sound of surprise. She stood bolt upright, blinking a few times as she looked towards me. And then she gave me that bright goofy smile.

Picking up a chalkboard beside her, she wrote: “Scrapper! Got stuff for me?”

Scrapper. That was a name very few called me, an alternative to Scrap Heap I was ultimately indifferent to. I was scrap, one way or the other. Though if she got to use nicknames, so did I.

“Full wagon load, Derpy,” I stated to the ghoul, shooting her my best smirk. “Bunch of parts from old skywagons, a few busted weaponry and other stuff only you’d find useful.”

Ditzy rubbed out the writing on the board, replacing it with: “Anything can be helpful. Show?”

I gave her a nod, walking back out as she removed herself from behind the counter and fell into step behind me. As we exited Absolutely Everything, I motioned towards the wagon as she gave a happy squeal at the haul. She batted her wings as she floated around the wagon, peering inside and giving every single piece a good looking over. Finally, she landed back on her hooves and trotted back over with her chalkboard held in her mouth.

The text stated: “Lots of stuff! I’ll get caps.”

“I would hope so,” I replied with a small chuckle. “I’ll get my money and be right back to it. Still plenty of scrap to dig up.”

She nodded, beginning to trot back towards the shop.

And then she paused, looking back at me with a small tilt to her head. I stopped too, wondering what had caught the mare’s attention. But even as I looked, there was nothing of particular note that might have caught her interest. It was only as my confusion began to grow that I realised she was looking specifically at me, rather than something around my general area.

“Uh… something the matter?” I asked, suddenly having an unexplained feeling of nervousness.

She stared a little more, before writing: “Will get caps. But have other thing.”

‘Other thing’? Just what was she talking about? She’d never gotten this… weird in my previous visits to her business. Seriously, having those undead milky eyes stare directly into yours is some creepy shit. And yet, with nothing but my general paranoia to ward me off, I followed her back inside as she went behind the counter to fetch the caps. All the while, I just watched the ghoul nervously as I wracked my brain to figure out the sudden change in attitude.

Maybe it was whatever she was working on before I came in?

“So… what were you doing on that terminal?” I asked as casually as possible. “Something interesting? Dangerous? What’s the story?”

She looked up at me, considering me for a moment before answering on her board: “Going Ponyville way tomorrow. Stuff I need to do.”

“Oh. And… what is this ‘stuff’?”

She didn’t answer right away, instead counting up the last of my caps and depositing them in a bag. She took hold of a rope and tied the bag shut before throwing it towards me. I caught it with my magic, putting my payment into my saddlebags.

When I looked back, Ditzy had written: “Not related. I need you for a thing.”

“Alright. A job then?” I asked, getting a nod in return. “I assume there’s scavenging involved?”

The tilted head I got conveyed the answer as being a maybe. Still, having an actual paying job was always better than scrounging around and hoping to break big with the next load. Seriously, what kind of trouble could this little ghoul get me in?

“Alright. I’m listening.”

She gave me a happy smile, one that I couldn’t help but get infected by the sheer cheeriness of it. Seriously, is there any way you could possibly not get a warm feeling in your stomach every time she gave you that bright smile? Impossible, I say. Impossible!

As I smiled to myself like an idiot, she began to dig through the piles of junk around the shop as if searching for something very specific. She gave a few garbled hums as she went through it all, picking up pieces and discarding them to one side when they turned out not to be what she was looking for. This went on for a while and, eventually, I just sat to one corner while waiting as patiently as I could for her to find whatever this ‘thing’ was.

Finally, however, she gave a squeal of victory as she lifted something up in her hoof. Something that, when she presented it before me, I was forced to do a small double take.

It was a small device held together with a simple latch, one large enough to be attached to a pony’s hoof and adjusted for comfort. It had a few little dials to the right of a green screen that dominated most of the device. It had a few dark, dead looking lights dotted around and a detachable utility cable plugged into the back.

She allowed me to lift it up in my magic and, for the first time in my life, I held a PipBuck.

“Where in Equestria did you get this?” I asked, dumbfounded. “These are worth a fortune in caps! Does… does it even work?”

Ditzy nodded, writing: “Yeah! Powered, just off.”

I whistled, giving the PipBuck a look over. “Wow. So, uh… what do you want me to do with it?”

She considered for a moment, before erasing her previous comment and getting to work writing a new one. It took a few moments, and when she turned the board around I had to squint to see all the small writing. She had written a lot in such a small space.

“Put it on, silly! It’s a model 3000 Mark IV, you don’t need special tools to get it on and off. Picked it up from a trader who thought it busted, I got it working. And it’s got something pretty interesting on it! It has a stable!”

I blinked. “The PipBuck… has a stable?”

She nodded happily, once again erasing what was on the board and replacing it with: “Yes! Stable 84 location, far north. Hidden. Untouched. Great scavenge, if abandoned.”

“Unless it’s got dwellers in it,” I noted, getting another nod in return.

I sighed. A stable, an un-scavenged one, could be the biggest haul I’d ever make in my life! The caps could set me up in Tenpony Tower if I so wished! But there could be ponies still living in it, which would make it a complete waste of time. It was very much a matter of dwelling on the risks and rewards, but then there was that sweet PipBuck to consider too! Not every day you get the chance to wear one of these little computers, now is it?

Finally, I made up my mind. “Alright, sounds like something worth checking out.”

Ditzy clopped her hooves together in excitement and, at her beckoning, I undid the latch and the PipBuck and placed it onto my right hoof. The latch reattached as easily as it came undone, and I adjusted it so that it sat snugly against my hide without slipping off. Once it was firmly in place I sat back on my haunches and brought my right hoof up so that I could see the screen. With a bit of searching, I found the button that seemed to turn on the power. Sure enough, the moment I pressed it the whole screen lit up and began to display rolling green text as the OS booted up. This went on for a moment or two before the text vanished and a small colt in a stable jumpsuit flashed on the screen, giving me a cheeky little wink.

Finally, the Stable Colt vanished. Once it was gone, the screen flashed to a representation of a pony with various bars attached to each limb. There were several other tabs to explore including a map, inventory and radio. I felt things shift around in my saddlebags and, on examination, I realised that some kind of sorting spell from the device had arranged my bags in an orderly fashion.

“Huh, neat,” I commented, shifting back to the status screen. When I did, I took note that an unfamiliar name was written out below the image of a pony.

Before I could ask, Ditzy answered: “You can change the name, it’s probably the original owner.”

“Ah, thanks,” I replied, quickly going into the settings and doing just that.

I gave a huff of satisfaction as my name replaced the original on the main screen before I then tried moving to one of the tabs I had yet to visit. That being the objectives tab, curious as to what was logged inside the device.

Locate Stable 84.

I jumped back in surprise as an arrow appeared in my vision, pointing out of the store and into the Magical Land of Equestria beyond. It was then I also noticed other elements in my vision, namely a compass with a single green bar pointing towards where Ditzy Doo was standing.

And then, when I had jumped back in surprise, somehow I had made time stop!

I was frozen in place, eyes wide as Ditzy seemed to glow a bright green. Percentage chances seemed to point towards all of her limbs.

What was this!? I didn’t want crazy percentages or weird targeting spells! Get out! Out!

Time restarted as I dropped to the floor, Ditzy just stared oddly at me as I dropped. And then she started to laugh, or at least a mutilated attempt at laughter that came with being without a tongue.

Calming herself, she picked the board back up and conveyed to me: “E.F.S. and S.A.T.S. I think. Red bad, green good.”

Flushing with embarrassment, I tried to ignore the demeaning incident of landing on my backside and instead searched the PipBuck for a better explanation. Apparently, the Eyes Forward Sparkle would detect hostile intent around me as a cautionary measure. The Stable-Tec Arcane Targeting Spell was something that pretty much just stopped time and gave the user time to think. Freaky.

Stable-Tec had certainly come up with some advanced stuff. Probably right up there with the old ministries themselves. I’d certainly heard a few horror stories from around the wasteland, things from both before and after the world went boom. Believe me, I’d never go anywhere near that stuff for as long as I lived.

Collecting myself, I arose back to my hooves and tore my eyes away from my Pipbuck.

“Well, it’s been great, Derpy,” I stated, beginning to make my way towards the door. “If there’s stuff to be had, I’ll drag it all back here for a heap of caps!”

But my bravado was stopped by a squishy hoof on my shoulder and, with a small huff of irritation, I turned to once again face the ghoul and bear whatever catch she was about to lay on me.

Her board read: “Stable needs code. PipBuck’s code data is corrupted.”

I groaned, pinching the bridge of my muzzle with my hooves. “Of course it is. Alright, how do I get the code?”

She grabbed my foreleg, bringing the PipBuck up and shifting to the map screen despite my protests about personal space. She scrolled the map from the blip of New Appleoosa (how did a two-hundred-year-old PipBuck even know the town?) and settled the cursor on an apparently ‘undiscovered’ blip of Manehatten.

I looked towards her curiously. “Manehatten? I have to go to the city? Why?”

And so the chalk was scraping along the board again: “Nosed around. Guy in Tenpony contacted. Claims to have code. Check it out. Look for Cobalt.”

Right. So now I was on a quest to find a lost mythical stable and, in the meantime, I had to go elsewhere to find a guy who may or may not have the code to said stable.

Seemed legit.

“Okie dokie lokie…” I muttered freeing my foreleg and returning the PipBuck to its main screen. “So head to Manehatten first. I can do that.”

A new objective appeared in my vision. It displayed the words ‘Find Cobalt in Tenpony Tower’ quite clearly.

“I think I have everything I need then,” I said, quite ready to get underway and find either my salvation or doom in this pre-war shelter of Ditzy’s. “Unless there’s something else?”

Ditzy shook her head, signalling me that I was free to go. But before I could leave I was stopped once again, only this time by a really squishy hug of thanks from the overly enthusiastic pegasus. And with me feeling thoroughly uncomfortable by the exchange, she made sure to write one last thing to me on the chalkboard.

“Return with stable stuff, and I got caps and muffins for you!”

“Caps will do fine, Derpy,” I replied, finally making it out of the door. “See you when I see you!”

I gave a long sigh as I exited Absolutely Everything, glancing at the PipBuck on my leg. The E.F.S. was picking up the movement of everypony in the town, something that would certainly come in handy in raider territory. Particularly since I would have to pass through the area around Ponyville on the way, I would rather avoid such bloodthirsty psychopaths if I could help it.

After ensuring my delivered scrap was offloaded and added to the piles within, I hitched myself back up to the cart and pulled away from the shop towards the town’s entrance. I had a long trip to Manehatten, and Stable 84 itself seemed to be located north of Canterlot in the expanse between the ruined capital and the Frozen North. I just hoped the stable was ripe for the picking.

But as I made that first step out of New Appleoosa, I made the mistake of thinking. Namely, I couldn’t help but think about the Pipbuck and where it had come from. Who was that person? And how does this ‘Cobalt’ have the code for an old stable? It made my head hurt just thinking about it, I never was a fan of mysteries.

And yet, think about it I did.

Who was this ‘Chrysalis’ that owned the PipBuck before me?

Footnote: Level 1, Scavenger

Author's Note: