• Published 3rd Dec 2019
  • 624 Views, 52 Comments

Fallout Equestria: Our Will (rewrite) - AngryPenguin



Raised above the cloud curtain, Lietenant Sienna has been dropped in the wasteland thanks to a failed rescue mission. Now, she's in unfamiliar territory and being threatened by a mysterious villain. Can she help her new friends before it's too late?

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Chapter 18: Just a Memory

"I've tried and failed many times, before I finally got the recipe right."

"Ugh." I groaned.

"Tired?"

"My wing is hurting."

Dad and I had talked a little bit after we left the remains of the tavern. We kept going west, despite Nico's pleas to return to Zangth. He was probably right. We had been walking for a while and still came up empty-hoofed. I faced forward, seeing Pepper and Nico walking side by side in front of us. He'd sneak glances back at me when she wasn't looking, but I would just avoid his glances. I'd hate to be the target of her anger more than I already was. I forced myself to be happy for them. She was just... off. I wasn't even sure if her affection for Nico was real. It seemed genuine until you got to watching her mannerisms. She'd frown and glare at him when he turned his attention elsewhere, or avoid touching him when she thought I wasn't paying attention.

I rubbed my head.

You're just jealous. You envy their relationship and you want to find every flaw you can.

I flattened my ears. Stupid voice.

"So," Dad paused. "When should we be heading back to the hospital?"

I stopped walking and looked out into the wasteland. Same thing as always: dirt and sadness.

I sighed. "Probably, now. I don't see anything this way, not even a hoofprint. We need to meet back with the others and rethink our plan." I sat down, breathing heavily. I missed flying, again.

"We need to rest for the night. The others can wait." Nico added.

I nodded in defeat. I'd let him have his way. This time.

I reached up and rubbed my chest, brushing against the necklace. It was still spotless. No scratches, no scorch marks. Nothing. It was just as pristine as the day Fleece gave it to me. I realized I missed her. The fun we had at the Wild Formal would forever be one of my best memories. Memories...

The memory orb!

"Nico, can you check my bag for the memory orb?" I asked.

He dug around, pulling it out, carefully with his hoof. "It's here, still. Why?"

"I'm going to try to watch it. Maybe, there's something there that can help us." I limped over to him and took the orb in my hooves.

Pepper scoffed. "How are you supposed to watch it? You're not a unicorn."

"My necklace." I said, a little embarrassed at how crazy it must have sounded to her and Dad. She rolled her eyes.

"Are you sure? Sia, we don't know what can happen..." Nico rubbed his neck.

"I have to try." I said.

The beautiful sphere still swirled with magic. The emerald had started pulsating, too. I swallowed. "Here we go." Slowly, I raised the strange, magical device to the green gem. As soon as it made contact, the burst of light from the jewel almost blinded me. I peeked over my foreleg to see the orb floating from my hoof and up to my forehead. The jewel levitated between my head and the orb. I stepped back, on instinct, only to have the two objects follow my movement. My peripheral vision started to blacken. My companions evaporated before my very eyes. I felt my knees bend as I lost mobility.

Then, the void came.

oooooooooooooOOOOOooooooooooooo

Everything was still dark until my eyes began to focus, finally. I was staring at a floor. I could see and feel my hooves moving, but I wasn't in control. The clacking of horseshoes next to me were only slightly louder than the whispers around me. I had all my senses (I think). The only problem was that I couldn't control them. The smell of a clean building, the taste of a cloud-grown apple on still on my tongue, even the sensation of cool air on my face made me feel like I was physically there.

My fascination with what memory orbs were capable of almost made me forget I was in another pony's body. A mare. Judging by the feeling of wings, she was definitely a pegasus. From the corner of my (her?) eye, I noticed a strand of mahogany and yellow mane. Looking at her hooves, I noticed her coat was dandelion yellow. Something about the mare was anxious. I felt the all-too-familiar panic growing in her chest. Of course, it could have been me, but what do I know?

"State your case." A booming mare's voice echoed through the chamber.

The mare, whose body I was in, looked up. The large room was clean and organized. White and gray walls connected to a very high ceiling. Around me, pegasi stood at attention in recognizable power armor. I recalled the setting. This was the Grand Pegasus Enclave council! The row of chairs at the lengthy desk sat the elder mares and stallions of the cabinet. They didn't look too happy, either. I felt the pegasus swallow, but she kept her cool.

"Your honors, I'm here to inform you of what I have witnessed. I'll get right to it." I knew that voice. It was so different, though. "I have seen the surface." Whispering. "I-I don't know if you're aware, but there are ponies down there who really need our help."

An elder pegasus in the middle desk wore a name tag that read "Commander Stratus". He frowned. "Explain how you discovered this." He nodded towards a mare at the end who took out a pen and notepad.

"I s-stumbled upon an opening in the clouds while flying. I went to investigate the reason for the gap, but when I looked through, I could make out the ponies below. They were gathering in the sunlight. Most looked extremely ill. There were families. Foals and seniors called up to me for help, but I didn't want to just abandon my post." She cleared her throat. "The land is not as radiated as we originally thought. If we could get a relief supply down there with, we could save lives." She spoke loud and clear. If it were me, I wouldn't have been as confident.

A long, deafening silence filled the court as the elders shared glances.

"Is there anything important you need to report, Gale?" An elder mare asked. Her name was Colonel Wind Chime.

The pony, I now knew as Gale, stared, flabbergasted. "I-I thought this would have been important. We'd be saving children, ma'am."

Wind Chime sighed. "Gale, I'm sorry, but we cannot waste precious resources on a lost cause. It is much too dangerous to risk the type of operation you're proposing. It would take unnecessary time and effort to do so. We will, however, require the error in the curtain to be corrected, immediately." The councilmare declared, nodding to the pony with the notepad.

"B-but, your honor-"

"Is there anything else, Gale?"

"What if we gain allies? They could be important. We would have earth ponies to help grow food, or unicorns to help develop new medicines for incurable diseases. We can't just let that go to waste!" Gale stomped.

"They are not to be trusted! Answer this: What if they kill our teams and take the supplies without cooperation?" Commander Stratus waited for a response.

Gale searched for an answer. "I-I..."

Wind Chime spoke. "As expected. You cannot just go looking for justice when there may not even be injustice. We have rules for a reason. Common sense. I do not want to hear or speak of this, again." The wrinkles on her face intensified as she glared sternly at Gale.

"We have to help them! You didn't see what I did! There are ponies! Just like us!" Gale continued.

"I'm warning you, Gale." The eldermare stood. "We will not concern ourselves with this and that is final."

"That isn't fair! How can you be so... so cruel? I thought the Enclave was supposed to stand for something! We are supposed to protect!" We took a step closer.

"Leave this court, at once! We have had too many of our own betray us-"

"No! I'm going to tell everypony what terrible, heartless beings you all are! How... how vile you are!" We pointed at them with a wingtip. "I thought you could change, but you won't. Those ponies deserve a second chance at life and you don't even want to provide the smallest of comforts to those poor souls. You lie to your own kind and tell them there is nothing left to save, but you're wrong. You're knowingly wrong!"

"We only have our kind's best interest in mind! The safety of Thunderhead will not be risked-"

"Safety of Thunderhead? Everypony down there knows we are here! If they could bring us any harm, they probably would have, already! If we helped them, they'd see us differently than what they probably think we are, and that is a bunch of cowards! I will expose this horrid place!" Her wings flapped and she began to race towards the exit.

"Guards!"

Several Enclave officers grabbed at her before she could get away. I felt the cuffs around her hooves and wings. "Let me go!" She screamed, struggling to get through the restraints.

Another eldermare sighed. "I am truly sorry to do this to one of our finest captains, but you leave us no choice. Gale Winds, we hereby order you to be branded and exiled from Thunderhead and any territory associated with the Grand Pegasus Enclave. You are found guilty of the following crimes: Treason, slander, and false accusations. Your ruling has already been set for exile." The middle-aged pegasus paused. "You are not allowed to return or have any contact with Enclave personnel, citizens, or property. If you fail to comply, you will be considered a threat and eliminated. You may not contact your family or associates. Your immediate family will be informed of this unfortunate event. The Dashite brand will be issued to differentiate you from the loyal pegasi. Again, I am sorry, Gale. I wished it could have been different. This meeting is adjourned." A gavel slammed on the desk. "Get her out of here." She adjusted her glasses and waved the guards off.

"Stop! You can't do this! Wait!" Gale punched and kicked the guards, but was overthrown. They drug her out of the large room and into the hall.

Once out of site, one of the guards punched her in the stomach. I felt the blow, too. It wasn't gentle. "You filthy traitor! How could you possibly think we would help those savages?"

Gale looked up at him, breathing heavily and in pain. It didn't stop her from spitting in his face. He growled and raised a hoof to punch her, again.

"Stop at once! If you continue this behavior, you will be no better than those wastelanders." The other guard interrupted.

The more violent of the two, glared at Gale. His piercing glare seemed to stare straight in my soul. He snorted, then began dragging her to the next room over. The large metal door was locked and shut tight. A few keys were entered into the terminal next to it. With a loud scrape, the hinges squealed open. Fluorescent bulbs hummed to life, one by one, allowing me to see what was happening.

We were greeted by the bland, white of a seldom-used room. A hot breeze flowed from the space once the door was open. Yet, it felt cold; unwelcoming. The only thing there was a table with straps. Oh yeah, and a giant furnace decorated with multiple tools that were obviously supposed to be used by blacksmiths. I couldn't forget the anvil next to it, either. A mare wearing protective gear walked in, after us.

"Get the rod ready." A guard told the iron smith.

She nodded as the guards, forcefully, strapped Gale onto the table. The metal slab was cool. despite the heated environment. Pained grunts escaped her mouth when the straps pulled tight on her hooves. I felt it, too. It was painful to be a part of, but I could do nothing about it. I wanted to close my eyes and cry, but I just wasn't in control. Gale tried, though. She struggled to get free. The straps were already beginning to cut off the circulation to her hooves, making them go numb.

The only thing that seemed to only take seconds was the amount of time it took for the lightening bolt-shaped rod to start glowing.

"Raise the table." The guard that stopped her from being punched barked orders.

"Please, don't do this!" Gale begged. "You know we can help the surface! It doesn't have to be this way!"

The angry guard growled. "You are exactly like that traitor, Rainbow Dash. You belong with those savages."

The rod was pulled from the fire by the blacksmith, wearing her protective mask and gear. I couldn't tell if she was smiling or not behind her creepy mask. She did hesitate, but I wasn't sure if it was from guilt, confusion, or just to build the tension, a little. Surely, she wasn't that cruel.

"Ready, Lieutenant." She nodded.

He was a lieutenant, like me. I've never had to be a part of something like this, though.

The calmer guard returned the gesture. "Proceed."

I felt Gale's muscles tense as the blazing iron closed in on her cutie mark. She looked at the mark, one last time before its indefinite end. A heart shaped cloud sat atop her flank. I wasn't sure what it meant. Probably something about love. Sweat and tears poured down her face. I felt the warm perspiration as it beaded. The heat from the rod burned even before it touched hide. She closed her eyes, so I didn't actually see what happened.

But I felt it, for sure.

The sweltering pain stung her leg as she cried out, screaming for the torture to stop. Her eyes squeezed so tight, it caused a headache to form. I wanted to scream, too, but of course I couldn't. I was trapped in her head. That smell, though. I would never forget the smell of burning flesh and fur that wafted around the room. They weren't finished. Before the brand could finish, another was jabbed into the other side. Her howls were almost enough to tear my heart out. The burning ousted the soreness in her throat, though. I mentally begged for some sort of pain relief. Med-X, pain killers, anything. Gales continued to shriek as the blisters under the tool appeared and burst under the pressure of the iron. That pain was worse than the burns I had gotten back at the tavern. They were scarring her hide so that the cutie mark would never be seen, again.

It felt like hours instead of seconds. The never-ending torture continued. The only sounds were the crackling fire in the furnace, the hissing of burning hide, and the screams and wails of the mare who only wanted to help others. Through the mental strife, I wondered only one thing: Would that happen to me if I were seen around Thunderhead, again? I knew the answer, but I wanted to pretend I didn't. It was all I could do to take my attention off the spine-chilling cries of this innocent pony.

Finally, the iron rods cooled enough to dim the glow. Just as I thought the pain would be over, the bars were slowly pulled away, tearing away the flesh with them. She breathed, quickly, still sobbing. The cruel act was beginning to wear her down. I think they were intending for it to be slow, like the long, slow pull of an adhesive bandage.

When the metal was finally free of her skin, she opened her swollen eyes to look back at her destroyed flank. There, where the very symbol of her being once was, was the mock cutie mark of the element of loyalty. I found it ironic that they used that exact symbol for the brand. It wasn't clear right then, being covered in solidified blood. Blisters came back over the previous ones that had burst. The cause of the continued agony, I guessed.

Gale's eyes widened at the sight. I could feel her heart pounding.

"Do you have any last words before you are removed from civilization?" The guard asked, dismissing the blacksmith with a nod. He was clearly unmoved by the emotional ordeal. There was no telling how many times he had seen this happen.

Gale laid her head on the cold, hard table. Her brow furrowed as she looked back at the guards. I had no idea what was going on in her mind. I couldn't think what she was thinking, but a part of me believed it was rage just by the tensity of her body. I believed it was an unimaginable fury.

After a moment, her voice returned. It was hoarse and dangerously cold, like the Hope I knew. "You will pay. All of you." She coughed. "I will see my family, again. You're foolish not to just kill me, right here." She bared her teeth. "I hope you're happy with taking away a pony's very livelihood. Remember this face, Feather Flow. You'll see it again, too."

"Watch it, Gale." He narrowed his eyes.

She let the silence drop to eerie levels before she chuckled under her breath. "Gale is dead." Yep. She had snapped. "If I'm going to be banished to a new world, I might as well start a new life. a new... Hope."

oooooOOOOOooooo

The world quickly faded out, but back again. This time, I was back in my burnt body. My eyeballs almost popped out of their sockets, they flew open so fast. The first thing I noticed was that I was shaking and covered in sweat. That memory would be set in stone in my head for the rest of my life. It wasn't even my memory! I couldn't believe how quickly her personality changed. I could hardly process it.

Her reasoning for wanting the pearls was clear, but still extremely immoral. Sure, the Enclave had a few bad apples, but there are some good ones, too. She would be murdering her own family!

I felt so horribly, for her, though. My father, too. Losing your cutie mark is like losing yourself. Not to mention, the extreme torture one must go through for that to happen. I cringed, looking back at my own cutie mark. The deep purple thread flowed through the eye of the needle, perfectly. It was so simple, yet it was clear: I had a talent for sewing. If it meant anything else, I wouldn't know. I was aware of the fact that some cutie marks extend their simplicity into more complex traits.

I'm pretty sure mine just means exactly what everyone thinks it means.

I remember the day I had found it on my flank. As a foal, I was bullied by some of the colts (Redd included, sometimes) for being scared of the taller playground equipment. Violet had my back, of course, but I was still laughed at. Anyway, the day I'm referring to was show and tell. I made a quilt that I was sure to impress my classmates. I worked so hard on it, and I was proud of my work. It wasn't perfect, but to me, it was everything. Especially since our teacher had told us a member of the council would be visiting the class and watching us present our little trinkets.

On my way to school with said quilt in my bag, I noticed a pair of fillies arguing over a scarf. They were the twins (a rare exception to the Enclave's rule) who lived down the street. One of them snatched the scarf and stuck her nose up. Being a naive foal, I rushed over to ask what was happening.

"My sister stole my scarf and won't give it back." The other had said.

The previous one rolled her eyes. "It's actually mine."

They started yelling, again. I didn't like it when ponies fought, so I wanted to help resolve it. "But, you're sisters. You're supposed to be the best of friends!"

They stopped to look at me.

"Please, don't fight." I put on my biggest smile. "What if, one day, you lose each other? Maybe, you should talk it out. When I'm mad at my best friend, Violet, we usually talk it over and solve it. I usually ask myself, 'Sienna, how would you feel if that was the last thing you ever said to her?' I wouldn't like that, very much. A silly fight over a scarf shouldn't make you hate each other."

After a moment, the twin with the scarf smiled. "You're right." She proceeded to give the piece of clothing back to her sister. "Here, Cookie. You need it more than I do." I giggled with joy as they apologized and hugged it out. I ended up giving my quilt to the first sister, since it was a chilly day and she was shivering. I was disappointed, at first. I wouldn't have anything for show and tell, but the filly was grateful. I didn't notice the brand new cutie mark until I had got to school and Violet pointed it out. I still don't know the exact time it appeared, only that I knew I then had something for show and tell. I added my encounter with the fillies for a little bit of drama.

The councilmare was more impressed with my act of kindness than my cutie mark, though. She rewarded the entire class with sweets because of it. After that, I was bullied a lot less. I guess the other foals thought I persuaded the councilmare to reward everypony. I wasn't sure if my cutie mark appeared because of the quilt or some other sentimental crap. Even if it was the latter, I'm sure that stuff doesn't mean squat in the wasteland, anyway.

I met with reality, again, as I realized I was in a huge building. The others must have carried me here while I was inside the memory orb. I looked around the place. It was dark outside, so I must have been out for a while. The glow of a fire was enough to light up the nearest area. It was a factory of some sort. A very big factory. Geez, the industrial era must have boomed before the megaspells dropped. All of these empty factories and barely any civilization. Machinery lay in shambles. Shards of glass scattered all over the dirty floor. The cans. There were empty, aluminum cans everywhere. Before they were even filled with food, it seemed, because they were missing their labels. It didn't look like anypony had been there for decades. I could see a set of stairs standing above the ruins, leading to a short cat walk. That lead to a room in the corner. It must have been a control room.

I looked around at my companions. Nico and Pepper curled up on the other side of the fire. Pepper faced away from me so I couldn't see her face. Nico stretched out next to her. They weren't too close, but I knew she was close enough to smell him, probably.

Lucky. I thought.

Dad was situated in front of me. I guess he had fallen asleep watching over me. I smiled, gently putting my hoof on his, much bigger one. I barely knew him, but it was still such a relief to have at least one of my parents alive and safe. I just needed to know my mother and grandparents were okay. Then, I would be happy. I missed my grandparents, terribly. I missed my grandmother's awesome cooking. I missed my grandfather's strange life lessons. I missed my mother, too. I didn't remember her well, just the song she sang to me.

She doesn't want to see you.

I exhaled. That is not true.

Trying to ignore the voice, my eyes wandered back to the stairs leading to the room. Perfect distraction. Hopefully, there would be supplies in there, too. I made sure everyone was asleep before I stood, shakily. My legs were weak and sore. The back ones, especially. My burned side had become irritated. I took a deep breath and carried on, though. They weren't nearly as painful compared to the ones in the memory orb. I cringed, again. No wonder Hope had lost it.

The steps were rusted and falling apart. I squinted my eyes at the room. There was a faint, blinking light reflecting through the dusty windows. I wanted to get up there and see what it was. Maybe if I stepped lightly, the stairs would hold. It's not like I could fly. I sighed, holding out my wing. Featherless. Bare. Ugly. I hoped my feathers would grow back.

I also hoped the stairs wouldn't fall apart. It wasn't like I was heavy or anything. My time in the wasteland proved to be a perfect diet and exercise regimen. My lack of muscles helped, too.

It's just stairs, Sia. Come on. After everything you've already been through?

I gulped, lightly putting the tip of my hoof on the first step. I slowly put pressure on the step to see if it would bend. It didn't, so I put my upper body weight on it.

Still strong.

I managed to relax a little as I did this with each step. The creaking groans were unnerving, but the building was old. I hoped I it wouldn't wake my friends. I really hoped it wouldn't wake any dangerous wildlife. I kept my eyes on the top. Looking down would just make me more nervous. I know I said I wasn't afraid of heights, but when you can't fly, it's a different story.

A triumphant smile crept across my muzzle as I approached the top. I sighed in relief. That is, until I saw the lock on the door. My grin melted. My flank fell to the metal cat walk as I groaned. "Why is my luck so awful?" I mumbled. This could have been a good time for me to catch just a teeny tiny break. It both worried and annoyed me that I would have to make the painstaking trip back down to the ground floor. I rubbed the un-burned side of my face.

Luna, why? It's just one lock. Just one.

I don't even know why I was upset over it. My wit was about to expire, probably.

As I spun around to return to my sleeping spot, I came face to face with two large, crazed eyes with freakishly small pupils. Gasping and tripping over my back legs, I felt my back hit the rusty door with a bang. Ouch.

"Whatcha doin'?" Pepper stood over me, wearing a grin similar to a psychopath's. When my heart finally started beating, again, I picked myself up. "I-I was just going to investigate this room." I flattened my ears. "Too bad there's a lock. So, I was just heading back to try and sleep."

She kept the smile, but looked over at the door. "So? What's the problem?"

I stared. "The... lock. I can't get in to look around."

Her smile faded and she looked at me like I was ignorant. I probably was. "Really? You can't pick a lock? I thought everypony knew how to do that."

I narrowed my eyes. "Apparently not."

She glared. "Keep that tone up and you won't know how to do a lot of things, anymore."

Realizing my smart mouth was about to get me seriously injured, I gulped and looked at my hooves. There was no way I could get into a brawl with her in my condition. "S-Sorry. I didn't mean that in a bad way. I-I just meant that I haven't been here long."

The crazy mare didn't blink for a few seconds. I thought she was going to attack me, until she finally burst into laughter. "You are such a wuss! How anyone could be around you much less bang you is beyond me! And recently, too!" She snickered as she walked towards the door, whipping the tip of my nose with her matted tail. It stung, bringing tears to my eyes.

I rubbed it. "I am not a wuss! I just have severe an- WHAT?!" I almost broke my back turning around.

How the hell did she know that?!

"'What' what?" She fished in her mane, pulling out a bobby pin. A few strands fell in her face.

I swallowed. "H-how did you know that?"

"The author told me."

What the f-

"No, I'm kidding. You just told me, dumb ass. So, you and Nico finally-"

I cleared my throat, turning red. "Not that it is any of your business, but it wasn't Nico."

"I bet you wished it was, though, right?" She said, sticking the pin in the lock with her ear to the door. "I almost feel sorry for you. You're jealous of me, now. It's okay. We can still be friends." She made a mock pouty face.

I knew my face had turned even redder. "I am not jealous! I-I had feelings for him at first, but you don't have to worry about that, anymore! Another stallion has my heart! The one I... had relations with." I sunk. It was partially true. I did have feelings for Redd. The only problem was this blasted triangle. I had hoped Pepper would change that. I couldn't let her know that, though. To her, Redd and I were together. Maybe. If he would have me with these burns.

My heart is stupid.

Her eyes rolled as the door clicked. She pushed it open with her rump. It squealed open. "You're welcome. Oh, and congrats on the stallion. We will have to gossip about how he is in bed, one day. Ya know, 'girl talk'." She said, sarcastically, as she disappeared into the room. I grit my teeth, unwillingly following her.

I stopped as soon as I stepped in. The room smelled of dust and mold, making me cover my nose. It wasn't a huge space, but it wasn't small, either. I could see the entire factory from the windows. Control panels covered the space under the windows. They were clearly not operational. Across from those, sat shelves and boxes. A large chest was next to that with a medical box on the wall behind it.

I caught a glimpse of a dusty pile of clothes behind the shelves. A step closer revealed they weren't just clothes, but a skeleton of a pony. Further behind that, another skeleton lay. I rubbed my chest, in angst. I didn't even know why I was surprised. "I-I wonder what happened to them."

Pepper was already rummaging through the chest, pulling out ammo and countless junk. "Who knows? Maybe they killed each other." She replied, unfazed by the sight. She examined a dusty light bulb.

I sighed, not wanting to say anything to her. If it didn't bother her, I couldn't and wouldn't change her mind.

Silently, I prayed for the remains, asking Luna to guide their souls to eternal happiness. Truthfully, I was beginning to question my faith, more. Is there really anything after death? If the goddesses were real, would they have let this happen? The questions stood out against all others.

A few steps away, I noticed a terminal that wasn't broken. The screen flickered, but it was, otherwise, functional. It was the source of light I had seen earlier. A small object lay next to it. A tape. "Terminal Password" was written on the front. I slowly inserted the tape into the slot. Text immediately appeared on the screen. I pressed "Enter" to log in. More text. It read:

Door Controls

Conveyor Status

Machine Controls

Machine Maintenance Logs

Onion Ring's Personal Logs

I selected the last command, uninterested in the machinery. A soft buzz emanated from the terminal as it loaded the files. I still couldn't believe there were working electronics. Stable-Tec made sure to build technology that lasted. Another screen finally came on.

First day on the job

My coworker is nuts

He was right

This is it

I rubbed my chest, again, as I read through the list, but selected the first one, anyway.

Well, I finally got the job. It shouldn't be too hard. Foalsit machinery and pretend to bang on things with a hammer: Got it. My boss said I could use this terminal for personal reasons, if I wanted, since I'd spend most of my time up here. As long as I moved it to a holotape, of course. Couldn't leave it here for the next poor saps to see. I guess it's not a bad idea if I ever need to vent. I mean, it's not like I have family, anymore. They kicked me out after I refused to be a farmer. I didn't know being their personal slave mare was 'work'. Oh, well. I can't complain. This is a perfectly good career and I don't plan to leave anytime, soon. Making packaged food is better than growing it. Not much else to say. Goodbye, I guess?

I smiled. I was glad she was able to make something of herself. At least, she found some happiness. I went to the next log.

I've been here for two months and my coworker, Match Stick, has really begun to bug me. I know he's old and close to retiring, but seriously? Is he senile, too? All I hear is the end of the world. I know there's a war going on, but I doubt it's that serious. We've been fighting since the beginning of time. Besides, nopony else seems to be bothered by it. Gotta go find my cigarettes.

I went back and selected He was right. The uneasiness began to creep up on me.

Ol' Match was right. That bastard was right. He predicted the battle of Shattered Hoof. He predicted the Littlehorn massacre. He predicted the fucking megaspells. Sirens are going off right now. Everypony who had access to a Stable is running to them. Of course, I thought it was a waste of time. Lucky bastards. No matter. I'll just have to wait for my demise. I just bought a whole carton of cigarettes, last night. I'm not afraid of death. Bring your worst.

I chewed my hooftips, both dreading and wanting to read This is it. Before I selected it, I looked back to check on Pepper; only to see her creepily reading over my shoulder. I quickly looked back at the screen, ignoring the breath down my neck. Boy, was she creepy. I selected the file.

It's been almost a month since the megaspells hit. I haven't been able to leave the control room. I told the last mare that left to lock me in here, that way I wouldn't leave and evaporate from the radiation. Match stayed with me, despite my objections. That crazy bastard refused to leave, saying it was close to his time anyway and that he wanted to keep me company. I appreciated it. He died a week ago. I put his body behind the bookshelf. It was the most peaceful place I could find in this room. Before he died, we talked a lot about the outside and whether or not anypony was still alive. We decided there isn't. Anyway, I ran out of food and water days ago. I'm so hungry, I can barely type this. Weird, since this is a food packaging factory. Too bad the food is outside these damn walls. Fuck, why couldn't I get more supplies before we got locked in? I managed to make my cigarettes last longer than the food. Amazing. I'm sure this will be my last log. I'm just so tired and hungry. Thirsty, too. My head hurts. I've been seeing things. Terrible things. Every time I try to sleep, I see the dead walking around. I'm sure it's these cigarettes. I've been inhaling them like oxygen since the night before last. Why am I even typing this? It's not like it matters, anymore. We'll be forgotten after we die. The world is now just shit. I heard screeches outside. Whatever's out there, it isn't a pony. I'll lie down behind the stinking corpse of Match Stick. That way, if I die in my sleep, my body won't be in the middle of the floor like some drama queen. If by some miracle somepony finds this, just know I died with a little bit of integrity. I don't know if you future creatures will be ponies, but hopefully you'll know what happened to our world. It was our fault. Sorry, on behalf of us ignorant Equestrians. Good night.

The atmosphere suddenly felt chilly. Onion Ring had to die alone and miserable. I looked down at the floor, saddened by the last log. She couldn't even say goodbye to her friends and family.

Pepper scoffed. "She should have went into a Stable like a normal pony would have. It was her fault she died."

I didn't even have time to think of something reasonable to say to her. So, I said the first thing that came to my mind. Onion Ring didn't deserve that. "You know, it's ponies like you who make the wasteland such a terrible place. You have no compassion, whatsoever!" I faced her. "Nico spoke so highly of you, before. He said you were so kind and caring. Obviously, he was nuts, too." I growled. "You're nothing but a bitch to me, and you're probably just using Nico. You don't care about anything but yourself!"

Without so much as a flinch, she turned her head. "Ponies like me, huh? Well, let me tell ya something bitch: You, pegasi, made me this way. You are right about one thing, I don't care about anything, anymore. It's how it's supposed to be here. It's your fault this stupid place hasn't changed. I saw what was in that memory orb. You would betray and exile one of your own for just trying to help these poor bastards. That, my friend, is fucked up. I suppose I should thank you, though. You stupid chumps helped me open my eyes and see the world for what it really is." She casually went back to digging in the medical box. "As for Nico, I'm not using him. We 'belong together'. One fucked up head with another. He let that pegasus take me. He thinks I don't know that. I'm careless, he's careless. Perfect match. I hate him as much as I love him."

My mouth was open and my eyes were wide. "Y-You're lying! He would never do that! How can you say something like that, you... you... hussy!" I stomped. "He took care of you! He protected you!" I bowed a little. "Like he did for me."

She paused, but stayed silent.

"Pepper, this has to be a misunderstanding. I'm sorry for whatever the Enclave has done. Some things they do are... messed up, but as a whole, they do try to stand for something. Not every pegasus is bad. I had friends who would never do that to anyone. You know what happened to them? I lost them. The wasteland took them. Maybe it's what I get for not seeing some things, but I'm waking up, now. My best friend left the safety of Thunderhead to help the wasteland. She knew the consequences. You saw the orb, right? Hope wanted to help, too. It's not all of us. Now, I'm trying my hardest to stop her from destroying everything. Her reasoning is understandable, but still wrong." I told her.

"How do you know it wasn't one of your 'friends' who did this to me? You think you can save the world, but look at you. Barely able to save your friends from the wasteland. So, what if Hope blows up the world? Maybe it needs to be destroyed, once and for all." She started walking out the door, carrying a bag of junk.

"None of my friends would do anything like that. I grew up with them. They couldn't do that to any living being. There are still good ponies out there, Pepper. Nico, Fleece... You."

She stopped and hid her face.

"I know there's some good in you, still. You say you don't care, Pepper, but you do. I don't want to be your enemy." I walked until I was directly behind her. "At first, I guess I was a little jealous of you and Nico, but now I realize something: Everypony deserves a chance at happiness. It wouldn't kill me to move on. I shouldn't be upset with something that wasn't meant to be, to begin with. You're one of us, Pepper. You want the wasteland to be a better place, just like the rest of us."

She shook her head. "I'm not one of you. I trusted Nico and he turned his back on me." She sighed. "I don't think you're evil like the rest, though. For that, I am sorry about what you've been through. But, I still wouldn't trust you or any other pegasus with a sack of horse shit. The old me is dead, Sienna. There's no hope for me, so stop trying to be a hero. You're just one pony."

I stared. "Nico didn't let them take you. He... he said you left to be with a pegasus."

She rounded on me. "I did not fall in love with that asshole! He foalnapped me!" Her eyes fell. "Nico was asleep while I went to investigate a noise. I was barely out the door when this... jackass... He grabbed me and knocked me out. They experimented on me. Gave me drugs. I lived on that fucking ship for weeks! Constantly in and out of some induced high from those injections. When they thought I was dead, they dumped me out somewhere north. I came to, living with some crazy witch. Where was Nico? Last I heard, he was fucking around with a new mare. Trying to help her 'save the world'. He didn't even try to find me." A tear fell from her eye.

I looked down. "H-He couldn't have known-"

"He forgot about me! He wasn't looking for me! I was kidnapped and he wasn't there!" Digging in her mane, she pulled out a holotape and threw it straight at me. "Listen to that log! I snatched it when they weren't looking as proof. Listen to it!" She cried.

I watched the tape land in front of me.

"Just play it in your Pipbuck." She wiped her eyes. "You'll see."

Long seconds passed as I stared at the tape. I dreaded to listen to it, but I would do it for Pepper. She deserved that much. I slowly picked up the tape and inserted it into the slot. First, there was mumbling and static. A few jumbled words later, I heard a familiar voice. One of my best friends. He was like my brother. My heart broke into a million pieces for the millionth time. Those five words were all it took for me to give away any care I had left for the safety of the world.

"This is Captain Bolt Chaser..."


*ERROR*: UNKNOWN USER!
CANNOT REGISTER VITALS

SYSTEM RESTART
ONE MOMENT...
......
......
*ERROR**ERROR*
CANNOT REGISTER NEW USER


Level Up!
S- 3
P- 3
E- 4
C- 4
I- 5
A- 4
L- 4 (+1)

New Perk!
Almost a Clinic - You now find 1.5x as many medical supplies in containers.

Author's Note:

Thanks to Kkat for this amazing world!

Thank you for reading and as always, constructive criticism/error spotting is always welcome!
Stay safe!

-AP