• Published 24th Jul 2012
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Fallout Equestria: Bloodline - Asymptote



Waking up from a 200-year sleep with all her memories lost, what dark secrets about her life would this special pegasus rediscover?

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Chapter 2 - Acquaintance

Chapter 2: Acquaintance

"Well, howdy-doo, Miss Twilight, a pleasure makin' your acquaintance. I'm Applejack. We here at Sweet Apple Acres sure do like making new friends!"


~~~ooO-Ooo~~~

Clouds.

A huge, flat patch of cumulus.

I could eye a stand at one corner of the field. A field where six to seven pegasi were flying around.

"So class, today we have a very special guest in our flying lesson. She is a very famous pony, and I bet everypony here knows her. But before I introduce her to you, I want you to promise me not to be too excited okay? Now, can anypony guess who she is?" An orange stallion with a coach outfit spoke towards a group of fillies and colt.

"Oh oh! Me! Uh, is she Princess Celestia?" one orange colt asked.

"Good guess, but Princess Celestia would be too busy dealing with government matters to pay visit wouldn't she? Any other ideas?"

"Me? Um, would she be… Princess Luna?" a gold filly softly suggested.

"Heh no Golden Fog, Princess Luna has to guard our nation every night. She needs to rest in daytime."

"Oh oh! Is she Sapphire Shores?" the same colt squealed.

"No silly, she is an earth pony, she wouldn't come to Cloudstale so casually would she?"

"Any more guesses? No? Well let's not keep our guest waiting then. Class let's give our biggest hoof to the captain of the Wonderbolts, Miss Spitfire!"

Zooming from the stand, an orange streak of contrail zipped through the air and landed next to the coach.

"Hello kids–"

"Spitfire! Spitfire!" everypony jumped and flocked towards the orange mare.

"Oh okay… calm down guys…"

"Miss Spitfire can I have an autograph with you?"

"Uh sure but–"

"Miss Spitfire can I have an autograph too?"

"Okay but can it wait–"

"Alright Kids! That's enough. Let's give our guest some room. Miss Spitfire will sign any autographs after the lesson okay? Sorry Miss Spitfire."

"It's okay, heh, comes with the job."

"Class, Miss Spitfire is on her visit around her old school, and she's agreed to give you fillies and colts a flying lesson or two during the time."

"I'm just here to see how the youngsters are doing these days, and take a break from all the Wonderbolts stuffs… Oh do you know? Your coach and I were classmates here."

"Heh, we have a completely different walk of life haven't we?"

"Sure, but every walk has its awful moments sometimes."

"At least a lot of ponies love you."

"Many fans like me."

"I have always been your number one fan, Spitfire."

"Sure you have."

*** *** ***

"So, why don't we do this way? You show me what you've got first, then I'll tell you how to improve?"

I could see a dozen of classmates bouncing up and down, eager to be picked by their idol.

"Heh okay! There's enough of me for all of you. Why don't you queue up in a single file so we can do this one by one?"

The group reshuffled itself into a single file, but still fighting to squeeze themselves to the front.

"Heh I have my charm even for newer generations haven't I? It's okay! We have plenty of time– Coach how long do we have?"

"Around an hour and a half."

"Alright, fair enough. So… Hello kiddo. What's your name?"

"I'm… Golden Fog."

"Alright Golden Fog, don't be afraid, I'm not going to eat you. Heh. So, there're a lot of clouds and spaces around, why don't you give it a go? Fly around, show me what special tricks you have?"

"Um… okay."

The filly gave a quiet whimper, then flapped her wings and flew along the track at a casual speed. She did a jittery back flip and quickly flew back to her original position.

"That's… very nice! More practice, and you'll be soaring the highest sky in no time!"

The filly said nothing, and then sprinted away quickly.

"Uh ok… So here, what's your name?"

"Hello Miss Spitfire. I'm Snowbridge, I'm your biggest fan Miss Spitfire!"

"Heh thank you, Snowbridge. Alright, show us what you've got!"

"Sure ma'am!"

The snow white colt darted towards the race track, flapping his wings as he gained speed along the trenches of the loop. Faster and faster he moved, and more of the clouds trembled from the draft behind his wings and tail. As he banked along the curve, the cloud track was pushed away solely by the propulsion. Although the speed was average, the amount of thrust was more than just mishaps.

After several laps on the track, he pulled up and sprinted towards the Wonderbolt. Only in the last second did he use his powerful flaps and pushed himself backwards, jutting up the air and ruffling the captain's mane. He came to a halt midair just in front of the fiery colored captain.

"That's some nice wingpowers! I'm impressed. Though you can practice more and turn them into speed. You can do a lot more with those power of yours. But that's a good show! Great job Snowbridge."

"I… thanks Miss… Spitfire!" The colt panted while he spoke. He landed back onto the puffy white cloud, then trotted to the back of the waiting line.

"So here. Who do we have?"

She was looking at me.

"Um… I'm Contrail Blue. Good afternoon Miss Spitfire."

"Hi there Contrail. C'mon, show us what you've got!"

"But I… I can't fly Ma'am…"

"Why is it? You have an injury or something?"

"No I just… can't fly well. I fly slowly and I'll be exhausted very quickly. I'm basically the worst flyer in all pegasi history…"

"C'mon lil' filly, give yourself a little faith! Every pegasus knows how to fly. It's in our blood. Just give it a go."

"Um… ok Ma'am."

I flapped my wings as hard as I could. While I was slowly hovering along the track, with effort I was eventually accelerating. But as I thought it was over, I have only done half of the circuit, yet my wings has already started to sore. I ignored the pain and pushed forwards, but the more I forced myself, the more my my lungs burned and my body ached. Just a little more I thought, but my body was just cried for me to stop. I was hyperventilating and my wings has gone fatigue. With a faint and dizzy head, I fell onto the cloud as I lost my hovering energy.

I could hear the muddled laughters echoing from the other fillies. I stared at the ground and started to cry. I have screwed up in front of everypony and the captain of the Wonderbolt. A pegasus who can't fly, a shame to all pegasi and myself.

Then somepony patted my shoulder.

"Hey, hey don't cry."

Blinking away the tears a few times, I could see Spitfire kneeling in front of me, eyes filled with concern and sympathy.

"Hey Contrail, don't cry. It's alright. Every pegasus needs a different time. You're young, it's okay if you can't fly now, it's a difficult thing to master. Don't eat yourself up because of that."

"But… but why everyone else can… when I can't… fly?"

"From what I see, they are at least a year older than you. Of course they should be able to fly earlier. Don't worry dear, look at these wings of yours… the folds, the shape, the alignment… These are some nice wings, do you do practices?"

"Yes!… No…"

"Well practice makes perfect dear, use those lovely wings and train them up. You have it in you, but you need training to juice out your potential."

"But I have failed… I've failed…"

"Hey listen. You haven't failed. You haven't failed unless you stop trying. If you can't do it today doesn't mean you can't do it tomorrow. And I have faith in you Contrail, okay?"

"But what if it never works? What if I can never fly?"

"Look, you haven't tried yet. If you still can't fly after couple of years, then you start asking whatifs. But now, there is no trouble having sore wings a little earlier."

"But there… there will be trouble for me…"

"What trouble?"

"My… mother…"

~~~ooO-Ooo~~~

Lights. Bright lights.

White, bright and fuzzy. I couldn't see.

I heard noises, tone sounded like mumble in water.

My head felt like being stabbed with an icepick. My limbs felt like being drawn and quartered. My chest felt like being pinned down by a giant rock.

Slowly the bright white vision focused, and the contours were coming into view. Contours of wooden planks – molded, cracked wooden planks. A rotten, wood-paneled ceiling.

Where was I?

I was lying on a mattress in a bed. My stuffs were stripped off, and a blood pressure cuff was strapped around my left forehoof. Confused and frightened, I tried to jolt up, but I didn't have the strength. I slumped back onto the bed in frustration.

"Good you're awake." a voice sounded from my right.

I panicked and turned my head towards the direction. Only now did I notice a cream-colored pony with a black fedora sitting on a rotten rosewood chair, hind hooves crossed, wings spread nonchalantly, and reading a clipboard in her arms.

"You must have a fetish for snowstorms, haven't you?" she said with an unamused tone, still reading her clipboard. "Tell me, what's so tempting about flying through a heavy blizzard? Do you know how dangerous it is? It could've killed you."

I didn't speak. Partly because I was very terrified, partly because I was very confused. What was this place? What happened? Who was she?

Then she started to look agitated. "Look missy, I took a lot of risk to fly your sorry flank all the way from those mountains to here. At least I have to know who you are and what you were planning in those mountains. I'd be stupid doing an three hour surgery fixing bones for an enemy."

Finally, I flailed and bursted. "Who are you? Where am I? What's going on? Why are you keeping me here? Let me go! Let me—"

Drip, drip. My nose bled again.

"Woah! Hey, calm down missy. You don't want to die after all my surgery efforts." She leaned forward to take a better look at me. "You're a pegasus, but you're not a Dashite. What are you doing under the Curtain? Are you a spy?"

"Spy? What spy?" I held my nose with a napkin she gave me. "What're you talking about? What's a Dashite? Why are you keeping me here? What's going on?"

"You've never heard of a Dashite? What about Enclave? The Cloud Curtain?"

I shook my head gently.

"You've got to be kidding me. I thought your amnesia would just affect your personal memories, I didn't know it'd ruin your common sense – unless, you never have common sense in the first place. Do you even know your name?"

"I… I don't actually remember my name…" I paused for a bit. "Um, I'm called Contrail, I guess. Where am I? What have you done to me? What's going on? Let me go!"

"Well 'Contrail', what's going on is that I just risked my life and save you. That you had broken thirteen bones and got several electric burns. That your identity is still in the dark and I'm trying my best not to shoot you for self defense. So, my first question stands. What were you doing at the mountains?"

"Well I…" scenery of the previous encounter flashed across my mind. "I was escaping, from a mountain cave facility."

"Really?" she raised her eye brow. "Last I knew, there is no facilities in that area, Enclave or pre-war. What kind of facilities were you in? What were you doing in it?"

"I… it was a Min— Ministry of Awesome facility. I was trapped in one of the stasis pods, and the computer said I was in it for the last 200 years."

"Huh, you looked pretty young for a 200-year-old granny." But then she looked into my eyes and scorned, "Do you think it's funny? I can undo your wings as easily as I fix them, so stop acting like a clown and answer me. Who sent you to those mountains?"

"N-No one! I am really telling the truth! I really don't understand what is this Enclave you're talking about. I…"

She suddenly pummeled my neck with her hoof and held me against the bed.

My eyes went wide and I was frozen in shock. I could only gasp at her frightfully. Her dark silver eyes stared into mine with a deadly gaze, burning with hatred and anger, and vengeance.

But then, she suddenly loosen. She sat back on her chair with a bit fear and surprise. She took the fedora off her head and hoofed with the yellow tipped feather on it. She sighed and whispered to herself.

"Save them all, or there'd be none left to save."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you." she muttered. "I'm not asking you to be friends – I still don't trust you anyway – but I'll give you a benefit of doubt."

As dangerous as this mare was, she was the only pony I have met till now – and had me captive. If she's a doctor like she said and helped me in some form, she might get me to authorities and even restore my memories. I was quite traumatized by her action, but alas, I needed her help.

"Is there anyway to restore my memories?" I asked, while still being alerted.

"Well, revisiting places, seeing objects with particular sentiments, or being reminded about your past do contribute to your recovery. But, it's not guaranteed. If I were you, I'd rather try starting a new life around the wasteland than risking for an expedition. Chances are you'd get killed before you can remember anything."

"Why would I be killed?"

"Well, any ponies in the wasteland, even enclave citizens, tries to go back to the clouds will be shoot on sight." As I tried to retort she interrupted. "And even if you're 'really' from the past, what do you expect it'd happen after 200 years?"

"Horsefeathers… I don't want to give history lessons." She straightened herself and said, "I don't know when of the pre-war times you came from, but put simply, there was a war between zebras and ponies 200 years ago. One day the zebras used Balefire Bombs to wipe everything off the map. End of the world happened. 200 years later, ponies live in this destroyed world we call the Wasteland."

What? Was this a joke? Was it true? It's too unbelievable isn't it? No. I don't believe it.

"I don't have reason to play with you do I? Doesn't anything about the war ring any bell to you? The Ministries? Luna's regime? Thunderheads? Shadowbolts?"

There came a pang at my head."Shadowbolts? Do you mean Wonderbolts?"

"Well it's said Shadowbolts was the continuation of Wonderbolts, but…"

"Was there a team member call… Spit… Spitfire?"

"Yes. Whiles that's a good start to cure amnesia, still I wouldn't…"

My head went frantic and a sharp pain stunned me again. Ministries? Luna? Balefire Bombs?

Something… some flickering vision… red and violent… in front of my eyes… there were ponies screaming…

I remembered. A war. A war with zebra for 20 years.

Then I was here.

"You nosebleed a lot don't you?" She woke me up from my revelation. "Something to do with your brain. I've stabilized most of your damages, but yours' a nasty case, I don't have the setup to deal with it thoroughly."

I held my bleeding nose with my hoof again. How many things have I missed? What has happened all these years? And how was I suppose to get myself together? My mind clogged itself up as I ponder on this situation.

"You know what? You should come to the village. Other ponies may be able to fill you up."

"We… we're in a village?"

"Well, not exactly. This is Maresville, a sort-of resort villa left by you pre-war ponies. It's now a two-block compound with a fancy courtyard, and home to a dozen of ponies."

She adjusted herself and handed me the Pipbuck. "Here. I took it off to perform the surgery. Your stuffs' in the box in my ward. But I don't think you'll need them in the village."

I put on the Pipbuck. With a beeping sound, the screen flashed once, and the interface returned again.

"Um, thank you for saving me. Although, why would you do that when you hate me so much?"

Her espession sank as she adjusted her hat, and shifted her crossed hindhoofs. She added.

"Well, I'm a Dashite, cast-off of the Enclave. I know not all Dashites have the mark, but unbranded pegasi rarely leads to anything good. That's why I don't trust you. I still don't."

"What brand are you talking about?"

She looked me in the eyes and stared for a while. She sighed, then shifted and show me her flank. Her action was reluctant, but she continued on and revealed to me the brown cloud and bolt cutie mark on her cream-colored flank. A cloud and a bolt, I kept seeing it these days…

"See? Here. Feast your eyes on my pitiful flank."

"That's a brand? But then… where's your cutie mark?"

"Well, that's what you get from challenging the authorities. Even when you're standing for justice. Enclave is the pegasi. And pegasi these days dislike the ground and those who aren't their kind. Word of advice: don't let them get you."

She sighed, "No one but Dashites could understand the pain… watching your own cutie mark frizzle away by a hot iron bar."

I quickly turned and looked at my own cutie mark. It was a pair of wings, with a pair of contrail curled up in a double helix shape running along the middle. What did it mean? I couldn't remember. But still, as alien as it was, it was my own cutie mark, my special talent, my identity. No one should take it away from me, or any cutie marks from other ponies.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry to bring this up."

She said nothing, only to get up from her chair and extended a hoof to me. I took her hoof and tried to get off the bed.

I gave a quiet whimper and slowly limped behind the doctor, as my body felt sore. She rolled her eyes before leading me to a pair of wooden double door, and we walked into the village.

*** *** ***

By village, it was more like a hotel. Both sides of the hall outside were intervaled with similar scortched doors, and the rosewood floor was also covered by a thin layer of dust and debris. Even if she was lying about the apocalypse, this building looked unkept for at least decades.

She took a left turn and we walked along the hallway, eventually arriving at a balcony overlooking the atrium beneath. She ignored my findings and continued onwards, towards a grand staircase leading to the first floor in the middle of the space.

There were a few ponies patrolling the space with rifles on their back. While they mostly ignored the doctor's presence, as I walked past them, they stared at me with forbidding eyes, as if I was some striped zebra trotting among ponies. The unwelcoming mood was unplesent enough, so I trotted closer to the doctor, hoping not to give reason for the ponies to use their rifles. Unknowing of my concern however, the doctor just continued walking, and led me through a set of double doors behind the staircase.

Greeting me was an open courtyard, covered with snow. There were two blocks of building on the sides of the courtyard, but the one on the left has most of its entirety collapsed. Surrounding the resort were mountains, and far beyond I could see a range of tall white peaks. We were at a plateau by the mountainside by the looks of it.

The courtyard would have been much of a pleasant scene if the statues and ornaments didn't look scorched and ruined. The doctor didn't seem to be concerned with the deterioration and continued to lead me through the deserted courtyard towards a small building next to the collapsed area.

The building was a barn or some sort, most likely a storage and gathering area at current times. There were six to seven ponies at the barn, some of them were bundling cargos and goods, while others were loading them into an open roof wagon. There was a senior stallion snoring on a chair at a corner, and a couple preparing a hookah on a bench.

The doctor went off and talked to a moody green colt that was next to the wagon, leaving me alone in the barn. Talk to others for information, she suggested. I'd be cautious and ask others about where I should go, and see what information I could find for myself.

But unfortunately, all the ponies there only looked at me with the same forbidding, if not fearful gaze, and if I walked ever too closely they'd turn and ran away. So much for interrogation and finding my place.

At last, I found a small patch of hay at a corner and sat on it, looking at the mare who brought me here shuffling bundles of goods onto the caravan. I tried to reassess my situation. What did I do to get myself in this situation? Why did the world end? And why was I miraculously saved from the blazing fire of Armageddon?

What was I doing here?

"Lookie what we got 'ere."

"She must be the newbie Dancing brought in."

"T' outsider."

"Who knows what have that Dashite brought home? They like helping all kinds of troubles."

"Hey, hey filly, what's yer' name?"

It's been awhile of self-reassessment before I heard these words. I turned my head towards the sofa-chair on my left, looking at the couple bubbling the boiled drug into their muzzle. A brown unicorn stallion and a lime green earth pony mare, both having wrinkled faces and silvered mane, sloughing at their ruined seat, gazing at me with their hazy, drowsy eyes.

"I… uh, sir, ma'am, I…"

"She ain't answerin' our question."

"While she sit around places like she owns it."

"Darn filly got ain't no respect."

"She owe us an apology."

"Darn right she does. Ya hear Miss Being-rude?"

They stared at me and gave me serious faces. As if there could be a more serious face than those from these drug abusers.

But I knew better. I needed directions.

"I… I'm sorry."

"Darn right ya should be."

"But you still haven't introduce yourself. We might've let that Dashite stay but that doesn't mean we trust you."

"I…" what could I say? "I'm called Contrail."

"Right, and what in the hay are you doing here? You don't belong here."

"I don't think we can allow more outsiders."

"Especially a pegasus. Yer without a brand; why don't ya Enclave go back to yer comfy lil' cloud?"

"But to your credit, if the Dashite was willing to save you, then you're not so much of an Enclave after all. She'd have wanted to gut you more than we do."

"Those bastard one of a kind racist."

"Wasteland doesn't like pegasi. Unless they're branded. But those branded Dashites are kind of weird anyway."

Fine. These drug abusers were not welcoming folks. I didn't need much of a welcoming anyway. But the question was, where should I go?

Before I could ask, the stallion interrupted me.

"Hey birdbrain, the Dashite and Push Cart are preparing to go downhill for groceries. You can go to anywhere from the outpost down there, so I bet you might like to follow them."

I took a glance at the cream-coated pegasus, and the wooden caravan she was loading bean bags into.

"But, sir, could you tell me where I can go from there?"

"Who knows? Why don't ya go back to ya puffy lil' cloud city n' get tha' Celestia-damned out ta 'ere?"

"Common Daisy, she is lost."

"Not ma business, as long as she's not around my lawn."

"Tell you what birdbrain, why don't you pick up some errands while you're down there? You know, if you're to stay in the wasteland, you've got to earn caps to feed yourself."

"Errands?"

"Stay? The wasteland ain't got no place for pegasi, Spray Paint, after all they've tried so hard to get rid of us."

"Common Daisy, what happened to the Carnival Spirit we've had?"

"We've left the Carnival a long time ago Spray."

"I know, I know... still, I've something that I need to give to Crupper. Given how hard-working our egghead over there is, I bet she'd like a helping hoof, from one of her kind."

Without notice, the stallion stood up from his armchair and trotted towards the entrance. I wonder though, how could he keep his sanity and balance himself so well under the drugs. But seeing one of them were out, I tried to take my chance with the more, I should say, annoyed stranger.

"What were you smoking, might I ask?"

"Is that yer business? I ain't got nothing to do with you."

She ignored me for a while, but then, she answered.

"It's a special recipe we found in tha' wasteland. Betcha haven't smoked anything like this up there. Not even the zebras can brew this powerful stuff — powerful enough to makes ya forget how ya wasted yer life wandering the doomed world for nothing. In the end, we all have to find a hole to wither and die."

"Ma'am, I'm sure there's a better look at things?"

"What do ya know? What do ya know about life in tha' wasteland? We kill ta' survive. There're all kinds of monsters out there ta' eat us. Foals are ta' learn how ta' slaughter ponies ta' survive. Our everyday lives were ta' kill other ponies; otherwise, we die. What sunshine am Ah looking fer' in our lives? Especially when ya' Sons of Nightmares blocked out tha' entire sky!" she shouted at me. But before things got escalated, she stopped and whispered sadly.

"There were so much Ah wished ta' do. I've had enough livin' like an animal. Why must we live like barbarians while ya' Enclave folks enjoy civilization n' clean food? Does a pair of wings matter that much? Does being born 200 years late means hell n' suffer?"

She looked at me, and sighed. "Why must we endure this fate, n' take tha' punishment fer' those who fought the war in tha' first place?"

I said nothing. I didn't know what to. But luckily, the stallion has returned.

Hovering at his side by magic was a sealed white envelope. He coarsely shuffled it between the bandages on my folded wings without permission and sat back down at his armchair.

"Ouch…"

"Here. Take care of my parcel will you? When you are down there, ask around and look for Crupper. He should be the manager of the outpost or some sort. If you're lucky, you might even be able to ask him for rewards."

"What… what's this?"

"Just give it to Crupper. He'll understand."

I shouldn't have promised somepony to do his chores without knowing what it was about, but it didn't seem I could refuse.

Reluctantly, I answered. "I'll see what I can do, sir, but I can't promise you anything."

"That's good enough." He shifted his seating position so he could see us at the same time. "So what did you two ponies talked about when I was gone?"

"Spray wha' makes ya' think I'd be talkin' to this pegasus?"

"Well I heard you two talking about the Carnival," he then asked me, "Were you?"

"I… uh, actually what is this Carnival?" I asked, after looking towards the mare.

"To put it simply, they are a group of traders. In fact, they are the biggest trading group in the Belt. But I ask, who would set up trade in the Belt except those crazy ponies?"

"Tha' Carnival Caravans. Who else but 'em put funky symbols on their wagons? Clowns, skulls, centaurs, n' things ya can find in a circus. Spray some blood on it n' we'll be some Celestia-forsaken raiders."

"Pushing Daisy and I had a caravan before, but it was wrecked when we were trying to leave the group. We had fun being part of the Carnival, but something went wrong, that's why we left the gang."

"Um," before they went on about their war stories, I interrupted. "What's the Belt?"

They both gave a mocking guffaw at my question. The stallion then shouted towards the doctor, "Hey Dancing, you didn't tell birdbrain where we are?"

I turned around and looked at the doctor. She put down the things she was holding in her mouth and answered calmly.

"Spray Paint, you're good at talking, why don't you tell her?"

"Heh," the stallion gave a dry snicker, and explained to me.

"We're near the Equestria-Zebra border, which we collectively call the Belt these days. Because of how much it looked like a no-touch zone: a long, barren land with nothing between two countries."

"Yet still even beyond the borders into zebra territory, ya Enclave would still cover it with clouds n' call it yer land." Ms. Daisy added.

"The Enclave border doesn't follow the one from Old World." Ms. Dancing added, as she walked towards us. "But like the Old World. It's a battlefield up there. The griffins are eyeing territories as well."

"The griffins?" I questioned.

"Since zebras don't fly, they just zoomed in and claimed the air space."

"The Belt's a dangerous place." the stallion added, "It is scattered with towns and war tribes who are all capable of some good fights. They are very willing to kill you if you're on the wrong side of the table, and that's what usually happens among the tribes – turf wars and such."

"Which is why tha' Carnivals 're crazy bunch. They trade between these towns n' tribes. Anything from food ta' metals ta' medicines ta' weapons. Never pick sides, never ask what they are trading, never take part in politics."

"And since it's the only group willing to walk these areas, they've monopolized the trading system. That's why Carnival's growing bigger and bigger."

"So," I commented, "It's a huge dangerous itinerant gang that I should beware of?"

"They're not really dangerous unless you steal from them," the doctor said as she finished her chores and stood beside me. "Oddly, the Carnivels are loved by many. I don't agree to what they trade as some of them are actually slaves, but they're ironicly the most philanthropic group around, most of the ponies in it don't mind helping a few dying poor or refugees."

"Of course they're loved by many," added the green mare, "Many ponies would like to join them if they can. Joining a nomadic tribe means you're less likely to be attacked by sieges. Of course, that means you can never quite settled."

"But that's the life of being in a caravan business. Even though we come from all sorts of places, or even from warring tribes, ponies in Carnival are like families. We look after each other, travel with each other. As much as I don't like the gang, I have to tip my hat to that." said the stallion.

"I don't like it, but it's sure a crazy and happy place."

Alright. So one thing that I should look out of. I would note that down.

"But sir, ma'am, why did you left then?"

"We're old that's why." scorned the mare. But the subtle sadness in her eyes told a different story.

"I…" before I could say anything, I saw the green colt from the caravan stood next to me, staring at me with an emotionless gaze.

I was quite disconcerted. I stared at him warily, and quite awkwardly.

"Um, sir?"

I kept waiting for his response, but he only stared at his hoof, scraping the floor to cope with the awkwardness.

Luckily, the doctor has spoken.

"What is it, Push Cart?"

The colt gave an raucous, unearthly shriek before trotting towards me. I was startled and panicking; what was happening? He was inches from me before at the last moment I could unfreeze and jumped to the side.

He darted pass me. I wasn't hit, but the buckle on his saddle scratched my hide.

Once the danger was gone, I looked back to find the colt hiding behind the doctor, shivering, completely oblivious of my existence.

But once again, before I could mutter any words, the stallion interrupted me.

"Blue filly? Come here, I'll take you around. "

"I…" the stallion has already risen from his seat and came towards me. He wrapped his magic around my shoulder and leashed me towards the door of the barn.

*** *** ***

Once again I saw the open courtyard that was covered with snow. The world was painted a warm crimson gold, suggesting the time. There were a few ponies walking along the edge of the field, minding their own business. Looking at the main building, I could see it had five floors, and from counting the twelve windows per floor I guessed it was about a hundred hooves wide. Like the courtyard, it was charred and decayed, unkept for hundreds of years.

But that wasn't what I concerned most. Who… what was that green colt? But right when I tried to speak, he interrupted me.

"Don't… just don't ask."

We walked for several yards before he spoke again.

"I'd suggest you not to stay here, if you were planning so. Dancing and… Push Cart are leaving tomorrow morning for their routine chores. You should follow them and head away from here. To be honest, there aren't many pretty places left in the wasteland that you can head to, but the border is definitely not a place you want to stay. Find Crupper in the trading outpost Dancing's heading. He can give you some survival tips and useful intel."

We were back at the resort building, in front of the double doors.

"Mr. Paint," I confessed, "I've been really confused. I woke up nearly drowned and got chased in a snowstorm, stunned and woke up again in here. I… I have completely no idea what's going on, and I really need help from you, or from anypony."

"I understand kiddo, but you'll just have to tough up, or you won't survive in this wasteland. It's a harsh harsh world out there, you'll have to overcome it, or it'll overcome you."

He looked at his hooves and said. "There's really little I can do. It's law of the jungle out there, and ponies are all busy trying to save their own lives. They barely have enough to survive, I'm not sure they can spare a few generosity for you." He sighed. "So are we. I'm sorry."

I offered him a gentle nod, then I tucked at my wings for a bit. "I will try to deliver this parcel for you."

He gave me a sincere smile, before he proceeded to push open the door.

Inside was the same batch of armed ponies staring at me with forbidding eyes. They gave no attention to Mr. Paint either, just at me, the odd one. We took a right turn on the first floor and entered the first room in the corridor.

It was a medical ward. There were several metal-framed beds on the side, some hospital equipment and some curtain petitions. The same type of charred rosewood paneled the room, only that the walls were uncovered, leaving the bricks bare to the eyes. At the back there was a larger curtain covering a section of the room, and glancing over it, I could see silhouettes of a bed and a desk.

Presumably this was where Ms. Light lived.

Mr. Paint fetched both of us some scorched wooden stools.

"Um, sir, this is Ms. Light's ward, right?"

"Yeah, there's not much to see around the resort. Most of the rooms were private living quarters." he went around the ward's cabinets while I shuffled myself onto the chair, relaxing my wounded body. But the cut on my rump made it difficult as I couldn't sit without making hurting it.

"Here, sit up." hovering next to him was a roll of gauze, some medical tape and some disinfectant. "For the scratch. Or unless you want to do it yourself?"

"I…" I shifted myself so he could help me out. "Thanks."

"No sweat. Just don't tell my wife though, heh." He carefully tended the red line on my hide and patched me up, while I tried my best to act tough and not squirm as the disinfectant burned my wound.

"There. All done. You don't need to be a Dashite to patch ponies up."

"You're quite hospitable."

"Well, if you die then I'd have to beg the Dashite to deliver my parcel, wouldn't I?"

"I…" to steer the conversation somewhere else, I probed. "What's your view on, you know, pre… pre-war ponies?"

"Dead." He snickered. "What am I suppose to say?"

"N…nothing. Nevermind then."

We paused for a while. Then he added. "Do you have dreams, Ms. Contrail?"

"Huh?"

"Do you have dreams? Like, aspirations."

I didn't answer.

"I once wanted to be a painter." he continued, "I really love to doodle with my hooves and… try to capture some of the few beautiful things left in this cruel, ugly wasteland. I've got quite some talent too, but before I could get a cutie mark on that, it seems spraying other's blood all over a wall with grenades is more of my thing. So, I got this spray of read graffiti on my ass."

He continued, "Do I love to murder ponies? No. It's fun, but the more you do it, the more numb and hollow you feel. As days gone by, you feel hollow inside. You slowly realize you're missing out on something. Dreams, hopes, love; you realize you've been lacking a lot of self-actualization."

"I bet the pre-war ponies could have enjoyed all these." he sighed.

He sat on his stool with a bitter smile, as I looked at him.

Did I have dreams? What did I love before my memory loss? What did my special talent even mean? Perhaps one day I could remember — and I have great intent to. But until then I could only wonder about my identity.

"It's just not fair, don't you think?" He said after a while. "They get to enjoy all the luxury of life and harmony, while we need to live in slums and under constant fights. They live in a perfect world and hated it. We however got to live in this toxic, radioactive, ruined land they left behind."

"Do they know how much lives they've destroyed? Do they know how harsh the world they've left us is? Do they know the feelings of watching their new born daughter being sold as sex slave? Do they even know how it feels to have your son mutated by bioweapons created by no one but them? Would you like your son to be a freak? Ms. Contrail?"

"No. No I don't." I really didn't know.

"Do you hate them then?" I quietly asked.

"Hate? Nah, they're all dead 200 years ago already, there's no reason to chase down dead ponies. Besides, what's been done has been done anyway, there's no reason to hold onto the past. It can't keep you alive."

He added, "You should try too. Learn to let go. Life's too short to mingle on things in the past." He sadden. "There're too much things we've done that we don't want to remember."

*** *** ***

The room shifted its illuminance from crimson red to a dark indigo. Time prolapsed as we sat there, both lost in our own thoughts. Another day has passed for Equestria. It's been some crazy and confusing hours since the stasis for me, but how crazy would it be for ponies in these 200 years? What would life be like after an apocalypse? What did they, and I, have to do to survive?

But more importantly, how should I fit in? How could I cope with these new circumstances? How was I supposed to protect myself? Even if I gave up on my crusade of finding out my past, how was I suppose to protect myself from all the crazy ponies and deadly factions?

Thinking back, there were some unsolved mysteries as well. Why did Ms. Light save me from that mountain? Why didn't I got killed at zeroth hour but was instead put in stasis? Why couldn't I remember who I was?

Where should I go? What should I do next?

I was stranded in this post-apocalyptic world for the rest of my life.

The sudden relaxation hit me bluntly and sank my heart. There would always be answers to all the questions I just raised, but I could never go back in time. I would never see the world I was from, the ponies I've met, and live the life I've had. Even though I remembered none of it, I had this nagging feeling of nostalgia, and that this world wasn't where I belong.

We continued to sit there, until we heard clatters on the door.

"You're bleeding again." said the doctor who just walked in. She looked exhausted.

"How… how was he?" Mr. Paint asked as he left his seat and walks towards the doctor.

"He is fine. He's just frightened among strangers. Your wife's taking care of him."

"That's… that's good to know." He stretched himself and forced a smile. "I'll go then. She's all yours Dashite. See you tomorrow."

Then he was gone through the door.

The doctor went behind the curtains at the back and I heard swishing of water. I tried to hold my nostrils to keep the blood from dripping onto myself, which in return soaked my hoof in red.

Several minutes later, the doctor came back from her place, hooves covered in a thin glitter of water.

She looked at me and rolled her eyes.

After a short moment of cleaning and first aid, she sat me down on one of the beds and went back through her curtain. She came back with a dish balanced on her wings, then sat it down on one of the over bed tables next to where I was.

"Eat up. You need nutrients to survive." She referred to the dish of grass in front of me.

"Thanks. How… long was this left around?" I looked at the soggy, unappetizing greenery.

"Less than two days. Why? Can't eat expired food? Tell you what, we ponies have to eat can food foods left by you fellas 200 years ago. And we can't grow food anymore thanks to all the radiation. Most of us have never eaten fresh food the entire life."

"Then, where did you find… fresh grass?"

"I nabbed it from an Enclave ration storage. In fact, finding medical supplies was why I flew into the mountains in the first place. Ironically, the cowards get to have the technology to grow crops on clouds, while those who really need the food has to purchase from them with high price. Not that Enclave citizens have a better ration, but it's just not fair."

I looked at the food in front of me. It was quite unsavory, not to mention cold and moist. To be frank I was very hungry after all these events, but I wasn't sure I can eat something somepony just took out from somewhere.

But I just had to eat it hadn't I? From another perspective, she wouldn't have poisoned me after all these hospitality, would she?

I gave a cautious nip at the grass.

The grass was quite fresh much to my surprise. It wasn't cooked, and it still had a soggy taste, but she has taken the liberty of slightly salting it. It wasn't very delicious, but it's quite doable in taste.

So I started to eat up. Once she saw me eating, she stood up and went back through her curtains. The dim light behind it projected a silhouette of her sitting in front of the table on the curtain. I looked away and minded my business, continuing my meal.

A bit while later, I finished the meal and set the plate aside, as there wasn't much food in the first place. I started to reconsolidate what my next step was. I would take Mr. Paint's letter to Crupper tomorrow, ask the pony where I could head next, and possibly gather some supplies. And with luck, I could find my memories, or at lest could get the doctor to help me.

Time slowly passed as I sat on the bed, while Ms. Light stayed behind the curtain. I tried to recall anything from my past, but nothing came back. Looking at my Pipbuck, I still couldn't make out most of it. Even if I tried to follow the on-screen instructions, there wasn't much useful information there anyway. On the "Notes" tab, there wasn't any entry; on the "Maps" tab, it was just a pop-up box saying "Corrupted. Requires resynchronization."; and on the "Stats" tab, nothing really made sense to me. I rested my hoof and sighed.

What would happen to me? What would happen tomorrow? Maybe this was just a nightmare, and when I woke up everything would be fine. Or maybe this was some well-planned prank. But what if I woke up and everything remained the same? Or became worse? Celestia damned me being stranded in here. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I cursed, nothing would really change.

I reexamined my bandages, then tended my wings like a pegasus would cautiously. I looked once again at the doctor who was working behind the curtain, feeling not really much secure. With a soft sigh, I tucked myself into the bed, and hoped for the best.

~~~ooO-Ooo~~~

"Look out!"

The building to the right zoomed towards the ground with a thundering sound. The road paving couldn't withstand the force and sank into the earth, and the entire paving crumbled.

I leaped across the pealed up concrete road in front of me, sprinting along the bombarded street, dodging all the falling buildings and dead bodies.

A lady let out a haunting scream around the corner, but as I look towards that direction, a giant concrete has fallen onto her.

I just kept on running. Rubbles zipped across everywhere in deadly speed. Crashed caravans were set on fire. Foals were crying for their lost parents. But nothing mattered. Every movement was a matter of life and death. I could barely save myself.

"What's that?"

"Oh Celestia!–"

One of the missiles fell 60 hooves in front of me. I was launched 10 floors high and then crashed onto the ground. My entire body was scorched and burned by the impact and the gushing heat.

I whined as I lied on the floor, ears buzzing from the explosion. I was injured and couldn't move. I was pinned on the floor, and all I could see was ponies running for their lives, explosives raining from the sky, and debris sent flying across the streets. Many dead bodies lied around me, their faces eternally trapped in a mortified expression. I was too shocked to react and feel anything. Everypony just died.

Another explosion knocked me out of my daze. I painfully pushed my hooves to stand, but they were too weak. I could only crawl towards my escape.

But somepony stood in my way.

It was me. It was that pony in the previous dream.

She had a detrimental smile on her face, making her as deadly as she has been. She was smiling at my injuries and agony. She meant no good.

And so she mimed with her mouth.

"Boom."

She disappeared. But behind her beyond the buildings, there was a bright blinding flash and a giant mushroom cloud.

No…

Then the gushing wave vaporized me.

~~~ooO-Ooo~~~


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Comments ( 2 )

Oh yay an update :rainbowkiss:. Well at least she survived the fall and hopefully she starts gaining her memories back :yay:

3127642 Thanks! :twilightsmile: what do you mean about that part?

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