• Published 28th Jan 2018
  • 5,656 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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4 - Dangers of the Road

Chapter Four: Dangers of the Road

“The Wasteland proved a cruel, inhospitable place…”


I could see them. All of the raping and murdering bastards of Ponyville, I could see them scurry about as they did… whatever raiders did at first light.

Probably the raping and murdering part.

When I had arrived in the Ponyville area the day was already in its waning hours, and I really didn’t want it to go dark while I was strolling ever so casually right through their territory. It was better to wait until the morning, so I found a little far away corner next to the forest and yet with a decent enough view of the old pre-war town. I hadn’t dared build a fire, lest they saw it and decided to finish what their buddies back at the Red Rocket could not.

It was a seriously miserable night. Cold, though thankfully not wet, and all too long. I had barely slept a wink, and every time I did I would instinctively wake to every small sound in case it was a raider looking for some easy prey.

They never found me. I don’t think any of them ever strayed particularly far from the dilapidated town. And when the morning came, I was able to drag my weary body up from the mud and continue on my way.

I’d gone instinctively to hitch myself to my wagon, before remembering that it’d gone up in a whole lot of flames.

Maybe it was for the best, even if I was still pissed about it. Empty, it was just dead weight. At least now I could creep along the very edges of the Everfree Forest while keeping low enough to avoid detection by anypony watching.

Goddesses, I could just feel some unseen sniper zeroing in on me every second I was near the town.

But still, no shouts had arisen, nor had any bullets bit into my skull. The only eyes I ever had look towards me were those from within the forest. Most were benign enough, birds and the occasional other forest critter that didn’t even realise the world had ended.

But I would occasionally see dual green glows from within, trailing me as I crept on past with my magic gently gripping by 9mm pistol.

Whatever those… creepy eyes were, they never bothered me.

Small favours, right?

My little sneak took me past an old battered cottage, probably a nice little home back in its day. Something to spend your days living in peace, something I could see myself spending my elderly years in if it were a little newer.

Well, almost. Nowadays I’d make it two days tops before some horror trampled it down.

Dear Luna, I really need to stop thinking about things I’ll never get. Most scavengers scrounge whatever they can trying to strike it rich before finally meeting their end through a whole variety of circumstances, old age being the rarest of them.

It’s not like I stopped hating my existence during the night, I’d so happily accept a house in New Appleoosa or, Luna forbid, Tenpony.

Maybe if Stable 84 was everything I’d hoped…

In truth, I think that’s the only reason I took this job. My PipBuck showed me that the stable was further north than I had ever travelled, way out of my comfort zone.

But a fully stocked stable…

I’d always wanted a house. To stop the necessity of tearing up every little shred of scrap metal in the Wasteland. Something that I never thought I’d actually get, and really the dream was just a depressing reminder of that.

But now…

Should I dare to get my hopes up?

Oh look, I was inside the cottage now.

I’m really not sure when that happened. Really, daydreaming in the middle of raider territory was the stupidest thing I could have done. But… I guess this little place just brought my dreams to the surface.

Still, stupid.

And the inside was a nightmare. Bags of bloody giblets decorated the once peaceful home, profanity was scribbled in not red paint across many of the walls. Raiders definitely used this place as much as the rest of Ponyville, not somewhere I wanted to stay for long.

My hoof crunched something on the ground.

Moving to the side, I glanced at the face down rotten wooden frame that sat on the floor. I really couldn’t tell whether it’d fallen off amidst the end of the old world, or some raider knocked it off the cabinet out of spite.

Either was quite likely.

Really, it was junk. Nothing of note.

And yet I still found myself picking it up with my magic and turning it over. It was worthless, but still… This little place had once belonged to somepony luckier than I. It really didn’t matter, but I had to wonder who that pony was…

Oh.

The picture was heavily faded and stained, but the image was still barely visible on the old piece of paper. A buttery yellow mare with a pink mane and a shy little smile on her face, a rather evil looking bunny struggling in her grasp as if unwilling to partake in the photograph.

And to my surprise, it was a mare I had seen all over the place. Old posters on many old ruins, all marketing some aspect of the Ministry of Peace.

Ministry Mare Fluttershy.

I… never knew she’d lived in such a small town in an even smaller home. I guess I always imaged the Ministry Mares to have lived in huge lavish mansions in Canterlot, or perhaps Hoofington as the war reached its final days.

Shows how much I know.

I placed the frame carefully back on the old cabinet where it had once sat, releasing my hold on Fluttershy and letting her kind gaze brighten up the raider den as much as it could.

It’d be gone again soon. But I would be lying if it didn’t cheer me up that little bit. Though just a little.

I exited the cottage in a hurry, I really had hung around for too long.


After leaving Fluttershy’s old home, I had continued to stick to the edges of the forest until I was clear of Ponyville entirely. With the town and its compliment of raiders left behind, I was able to breathe a momentary sigh of relief.

No traveller was ever truly safe from raiders, but at least now I wasn’t on their exact doorstep. And with them left behind, I just had to reorientate myself and locate the nearest pre-war road heading in the direction of Manehatten. This was considerably easier than it normally was with the PipBuck’s map function. I brought up the device, clicking over to the map and scrolling up past the map markers of New Appleoosa, Red Rocket, Ponyville and the Everfree Forest until I was centred on my own blip. From there, I could see the diagram of a road.

According to the map, the road split a little ways up in a few directions. One headed off in the direction of the Hoof, another towards the glowing pink city of Canterlot sitting atop the distant mountain, and the third seemed to head back in Manehatten’s general direction.

With my PipBuck’s help, it didn’t take long for my hooves to meet asphalt and for me to trot along the highway towards the intersection I’d spotted. On the way there was another Red Rocket, though this one was a burnt-out husk, and a few other buildings dotting the route here and there. It also split off into a few smaller roads every now and then, but I ignored them all in favour of getting to where I needed to go. By the time I reached the intersection, the afternoon was coming around as the world began to slowly get that little bit darker again.

I still had several hours before I would even consider making camp, however, so I pressed onwards.

I split off down the correct branch in the road, which suddenly seemed to be matching the arrow on my E.F.S. quite nicely. It wasn’t a smooth trip, I don’t think things like that exist in the Equestrian Wasteland, but the occasional radroach, bloatsprite or radhog was hardly much of a challenge.

Although, the increasing lack of bullets was… distressing. I really needed to stock up while at Tenpony, and hope that no big monster soaked up the rest of it in the meantime.

Things cleared out a bit when the road took me up onto a relatively intact overpass. I did have to watch my step to make sure I didn’t fall through the multitude of holes to death via gravity below, akin to one half-rotted pony I spotted beneath one such gap.

Several vehicles lined the overpass, one wagon dangling precariously over the edge where the overpass had collapsed cleanly in two. Fortunately, somepony had set out a sturdy looking wooden bridge to allow themselves and others to cross.

After some more walking and with zero things coming to try and kill me, I came to an area where the overpass made a small dip as a second overpass passed overhead.

“Better wiped than striped!”

Yup, that bar was red.

I ducked behind one hulking and twisted pile of metal that was once a wagon and pulled up my pistol with the safety turned off. I took a few deep breaths as I prepared myself for a fight, taking the moment to better examine the situation.

The red bar was joined by four green ones. Gunfire was easily audible from just behind my cover, a robotic voice continuing to shoot insults and patriotic nonsense every available moment.

“What a glorious day in the Equestrian army!”

I peaked around my cover in time to see several flashes of green spellfire and a group of four scraggly looking ponies dive for cover. A mare was cowering behind another wagon while cradling a small little filly, while a stallion and another who seemed barely older than a colt traded fire with what my E.F.S. identified as a ‘Mr Gutsy’.

All four of the robot's would-be victims were earth ponies, the elder stallion wielding a hunting rifle while the younger blasted at the robot with a damaged combat shotgun. The robot itself was a freakish thing, a hovering ball with three lamp-like things for eyes and three tentacle-like appendages sporting a claw, flamethrower and green magical energy weapon respectively.

I’d seen similar robots, all scrapped, during my scavenging career. But I’d never seen a Mr Handy functioning before, and this one was definitely no robotic butler…

“Die zebra scum!” the Mr Gutsy shouted as a shotgun shell skimmed off its armour, turning its energy weapon towards the younger stallion and firing a volley of three green bolts at him.

Two went wide, but the third struck him where his heart would be, bypassing the scraps of leather far more degraded than my own he’d been using for armour. The young pony gave a grunt as he dropped, his shotgun clattering to the ground as his bar on my E.F.S. blinked out.

“Lucky!” the mare called out the fallen stallion’s name in immense distress, sobbing hysterically has her grip around the filly tightened.

“Apparently not…” I muttered to myself, staying hidden behind my cover as I watched these events unfold.

The stallion was falling back to the two who were hiding, the Mr Gutsy following him and staying focused on his opponent entirely. My eyes drifted to the space behind the Mr Gutsy, and the wreckage down the road that could be used for further cover.

I could make it.

The robot was distracted by the three remaining ponies it fought, all I had to do was rush on past while the robot was distracted, and I would be in the clear. Whoever won their little duel wouldn’t matter; I’d be long gone and continuing towards Manehatten.

Alright, good plan.

I moved a little out of cover, steadying myself on my four hooves as I prepared for a quick sprint behind the robot and to safety. I was fortunate that these ponies had come across this robot first, it saved me from a fight. I needed to save ammo after all, and I didn’t like the look of that thing’s combat capabilities.

“On three…” I muttered, confident and ready to go.

The remaining stallion gave a shout of pain as a swash of flames was blown in his direction, the guy diving to the side even as his hide began to smoke from the sheer heat of the attack. The small little filly gave a cry of fear as the robot proclaimed its victory over the ‘zebras’ and began to hover up over the cover that all three now crouched behind.

They weren’t going to make it.

Shit.

I entered S.A.T.S., targeted something that looked important on the robot’s back and lined up three shots.

This was stupid! This wasn’t my fight, it would be far easier just to go with my original plan and bypass the conflict altogether. I didn’t know these ponies, what did I care what happened to them?

Calamity hadn’t known a thing about me. And he’d come to my aid when everything seemed at its worst.

Dammit, Calamity.

The spell went to work, my gun shooting upwards and firing three precise shots all into the important thing on the robot’s behind. There was a small explosion as the Mr Gutsy reeled back with static erupting from its speaking. All its appendage began to twist and turn towards me, the old war robot sparking from the damage.

“Warning: combat inhibitor offline,” the Mr Gutsy announced. “Die you stripes!”

Uh oh.

I jumped back behind my cover as several bolts of green energy whipped right on past. But the Mr Gutsy seemed to be in a frenzy, and it wasted no time in rushing recklessly around the corner towards me!

I brought up my gun and unloaded several bullets into the robot’s chassis, but the nine-millimetre rounds did little against its armour. The robot’s claw shot out and grabbed me roughly by the horn, and oh Celestia did it hurt as those cold metal pincers began to squeeze and twist…

My magic shorted out, the gun clattering to the floor as the Mr Gutsy dragged me forwards and out of cover.

“Let me go you fucking tin can!” I raged as this my hooves struggled for purchase. It really felt like my horn was about to be torn form my skull! I hadn’t expected this thing to be that strong, oh why had I decided to play hero!?

I bashed against its arm with my hooves as it dragged me into the clearing, though it only slammed me into the floor in response.

Oh look, little wagons flying around my head…

Oh, and yet another thing! A… green thing was being lifted into my vision. It was kinda hard to make out… but as I began to regain focus the pieces came together.

NO! Nononononononononono!

I twisted my body, despite the increased pressure it gave my battered horn, and desperately kicked out with a hindleg in the general direction of the energy weapon. I think I managed to knock it a little, but the claw was quick to subdue me again as the green entered my vision once more.

Oh, sweet relief as that blasted robot dropped me to the ground! But there was no time for that, why had the Gutsy dropped me?

A second gunshot, I think I’d missed the first one, answered that question. The stallion from before had emerged from his cover and fired at the robot with his hunting rifle. The second bullet hit the Mr Gutsy directly in one of its eyes, tearing the lamp clean off of its head.

The robot growled. “Zebra ambush! Diabolical!”

It returned fire towards the stallion, who ducked back down again to avoid the fate of Lucky. But more importantly, it was ignoring me again!

My hoof touched the base of my horn, and when I pulled away I saw blood covering it. My breaths became shaky as I couldn’t help but shiver where I lay. I was becoming aware of the almighty headache I was feeling, and my PipBuck was complaining about me getting hurt again. I couldn’t even levitate out a healing potion, and I didn’t fancy digging through my bags manually while a crazy old robot was wanting to rip me in two!

My eyes scanned the ground, and I was so trying to ignore the blood now dripping into my vision from my battered horn. Lucky’s corpse lay but a few metres away… as did his shotgun.

I began to crawl, going as fast as I could as I reached out with my hooves towards the weapon. I managed to grip it, dragging it towards me just as I felt a claw latch onto my right hindleg. I was suddenly dragged backwards, flipped onto my back and subjected to the gaze of the Mr Gutsy’s two remaining eye-lamp-things.

“Where are you going, you villainous zebra!?”

I put my mouth onto the shotgun’s grip and pulled the trigger.

At such a close range, the shotgun was far more effective than my pistol. The robot’s armour peeled away and exposed its circuits beneath, and even those were torn by the shotgun round and shrapnel from its own damaged parts.

The military machine shuddered from the blow, and again as another hunting rifle round bit into it. That shot hit something, and the arm containing the flamethrower went dead. The Mr Gutsy turned to fire a few bolts of magic at the stallion before turned back to me and shooting its claw arm at my neck.

This time it only met my PipBuck, and I thrust it to the side as I entered S.A.T.S. once more. I lined up a single shot to its exposed inner workings and watched as the spell guided blast tore into its power core and blew the whole thing apart.

And just as well, because I was feeling a bit faint.

I rolled onto my stomach, dropping the shotgun and quickly reaching into my bags. I brought out one of my few remaining healing potions, something else to replenish, and downed the whole thing in one gulp. The headache subsided as the dots in my vision began to blink out, and I was able to steady my breathing as I wiped away the blood covering my forehead.

Once I was in the clear, I glanced back at the destroyed Mr Gutsy. It was a charred wreck, though its scrap would still be worth something at Tenpony.

But aside from the smouldering wreckage, it was hard to ignore the intense sobbing.

I turned my head towards the pony family, the mare and filly crying over Lucky’s body while the stallion looked at me suspiciously.

I really hoped he didn’t try anything stupid…

“Who are you?” he asked.

I huffed, getting up to my hooves. “You first, given that I just saved your life. You’re welcome.”

His glare only hardened.

I resisted the urge to groan. “Scrap Heap. My name is Scrap Heap.”

His glared persisted for a moment or two longer, but then he finally saw fit to talk to me.

“I’m Stone Mane,” he introduced himself, I did then notice that the otherwise brown stallion’s mane did have a stone-like colouration to it. “You caught us at a bad time.”

“Obviously,” I replied, looking over towards the others. “Your family?”

He nodded, pointing at the cream coloured mare with the golden mane as well as the filly with the slightly paler version of her mother’s colours. “My wife, Daisy Dream. My little filly, Charm.”

“And the boy?”

He stallion looked away, trying to contain his grief. “…My son, Lucky. Named that way because he should have died at birth. Dammit, the world just couldn’t stand being cheated…”

I nodded, relaxing my own posture as I looked upon the grieving family. “I’m sorry.”

“Why did you help us?” Daisy blubbered, looking up at me with tears streaming down her cheeks. “We’re not friends, so why…?"

I looked at her in pity, mulling over my answer. Could I tell her that I had actually planned on abandoning them to their fates? Looking at them now, especially the filly, my gut couldn’t help but twist in contempt for myself for ever even considering it.

But why had I helped? I had a job to do, one that could set me up more than any other. Any previous time I would have bypassed the incident without hesitation, every instinct honed by a life in this place had screamed at me to do just that.

And my quest for an answer led me right back to that southern accented pegasus. I’d be a raider’s trophy if not for him. He hadn’t known me, had no reason to intervene. But he did, as was his self-professed ‘policy’.

“I guess I just wanted to do better,” I replied to the mare, conflict still raging inside me. “As somepony recently did for me.”

“Where are you heading?” Stone asked me.

“Tenpony.”

“Scav?”

“Yup. You?”

“Same thing,” he confirmed. “We were heading to Friendship City to do some trading. And… we could use an extra gun until we reach Manehatten.”

An invitation? Well, having somepony to back me up did sound appealing… At least for a while.

“Alright,” I said as I recovered my discarded pistol as well as the shotgun, receiving a wince but no protest from the family. “Alright, I’m in. Until Manehatten.”

“Then it’s a deal,” Stone Mane agreed, before turning towards his deceased son solemnly. “But first… Please, help us bury him...”

Well, I guess it was the least I could do.


Footnote: Level 3

New Perk: Swift Learner - +10% XP whenever XP is earned.