• Published 14th Aug 2020
  • 7,390 Views, 508 Comments

Queen Of The Wasteland - Jest

Twilight awakens to find that she is no longer an alicorn, nor a pony for that matter. Rather she has become the fearsome queen of the wasteland.

  • ...

Back In The Saddle

“Are you sure you’re alright? Because this is the last of my food and if you’re just going to throw it up then I’ll keep it for myself,” Janey exclaimed, a red box gripped in her right hand.

Twilight nodded slowly. “I’m sorry about that. Trust me, it won't happen again,” she tapped out on a nearby rock.

“Alright, but I expect you to pay me back. This is one of my favorites,” Janey remarked, offering the deathclaw the Salisbury steak box.

Twilight placed her sack of looted electronic components on the ground next to her and eyed the box carefully. The first thing she noticed was just how old the box was, as the letters were faded, and the exterior looked like it had been bumped more than a few times. The words Salisbury Steak were written across the top, right next to a blue star with the letter A in it which itself was next to a plus sign. It also helpfully advertised that it now came with gravy, though Twilight didn't know how that would work given its age.

Putting it down, Twilight grabbed her clipboard. “How do I eat this? Do you need to microwave it first?”

“No, and thank goodness for that because those things are really rare,” Janey replied. “All you gotta do is open it and remove the plastic cover. I like to put it in a pot and heat it up over a fire with some chopped vegetables and a little added water but obviously we can't do that right this instant.”

Twilight frowned, and looked down at the two hundred year old box, contemplating if she should even eat something so ancient. Clearly it was fine for consumption as Twilight doubted Janey would speak so animatedly about eating poison. In the end the deathclaw’s curiosity, and hunger, won out and the former pony deftly sliced through the top of the box with a claw.

Carefully removing the small black bowl, Twilight inspected its brownish contents closely. Several round steaks could be seen through the aged plastic cover, and they were indeed covered in what looked like gravy. Which happened to be a deeper shade of brown the same consistency of the sludge like coffee that princess Luna frequently enjoyed.

After peeling back the plastic, Twilight sniffed the strange round blobs of meat only for her eyes to immediately double in size. Despite the overabundance of preservatives, the actual steak itself smelt amazing, and the gravy really did smell like gravy. It even reminded Twilight a bit of the consommé she had one time when a gryphon ambassador had invited her out to dinner.

Though the clear soup was made from meat, it had been good, despite Twilight’s initial misgivings. She just hoped that would end up being true of the antique food that would soon become her first true meal. Cupping the bowl in a massive, clawed hand, Twilight brought it up to her lips, and carefully tipped it back, letting the pieces of meat fall into her open mouth.

The second the gravy laden meal hit her tongue, Twilight immediately fell in love with the strange foriegn food. Tossing back the rest of the steaks, Twilight eagerly chewed on the meat pucks, ignoring the oppressive chemical aftertaste. After swallowing it all, the deathclaw eagerly lapped up the rest of the gravy and gulped that down as well.

“I guess I’m going to have some competition from here on out,” Janey remarked with a chuckle.

“Do you have any more?” Twilight demanded, the deathclaw tapping out her response so quickly and so insistantly that her claw nearly went right through the small clipboard.

“That's all remember? Oh and don't worry about the whole paying me back thing, I’ll just deduct it from your half of the loot,” exclaimed the human, who gestured to the pile of stuff sitting nearby.

“Oh, right,” Twilight replied, wrapping up the mountain of components and slinging it back over her shoulder once more.

“Ready?” Janey asked.

The deathclaw nodded.

Turning once more towards the winding path before them, the dou set off again.

“Alright so animals, that's where you wanted to start,” Janey began, humming thoughtfully to herself. “I’ll give ya the brief rundown on what I know and later I’ll let you borrow my wasteland survival guide to read.”

Twilight’s eyes lit up, the former unicorn only now realizing that she had an entire world’s worth of new books to pursue at her leisure. Already her mind was swimming with thoughts of all the knowledge that could be out there, just waiting for her. It was clear that despite their moral character being less than excellent, these humans were quite advanced, and they had to have written about it.

“Are you listening to me?” Janey questioned, glancing curiously back at the deathclaw.

Twilight nodded, and grabbed the clipboard awkwardly in her hauling hand in order to tap out her response. “I just realized how many new books there are to read.”

Janey chuckled. “Well I was just mentionin that I thought we should camp out in the school so you can hide somewhere nearby. There should be at least a few books still intact there, though I don't remember what grades were taught there.”

“Is it going to be dangerous?” Twilight replied.

The human shrugged. “I don't think so. They mentioned that it was recently infested with mantis’ but I left so quickly that I never actually checked.”

“Like, praying mantis’?” Twilight questioned.

“You have them back in your dimension?” Questioned Janey.

Twilight nodded. “And before you ask there are many constants between realities, and the other human world I visited had many of the same plants and animals as back home.”

The human glanced curiously at her traveling companion. “You know I remember you saying that this wasn't the first time this happened, but it's still weird to hear that you aparently hop dimensions on the regular. Not sure if I believe you to be honest.”

“I don't expect you to if we are both be honest with one another,” Twilight replied. “I’m assuming that your mantis is different though.”

“That depends. Are they about the size of a small dog and could chop your toes off if your not paying attention?” Janey asked.

Twilight shook her head. “They are about the size of a quarter back home, and on the other human world.”

“Well just remember that they are surprisingly tough little critters, and are definitely non sentient so don't feel too bad about squishing em,” Janey remarked.

Twilight hummed thoughtfully to herself, the deathclaw a little irritated at her friend’s calous dismissal. Even then, Twilight couldn't help but realize that violent urge likely came from a good place, as hesitation would likely end in death out here. The deathclaw silently hoped that she never became so numb to killing and violence in general that she could end someone without a second thought.

“Alright, well that covers Giant Mantis’. Guess we may as well go over the other bugs of the wasteland,” Janey remarked. “Let's start with scorpions, as they are the bugs you’re most likely to run into. The bluish green ones are called rad scorpions and they are anywhere from the size of a cat to as big as a small car.”

Twilight shuddered as she imagined such a thing, the former pony bracing herself for even more horrible news.

“Their tails are really strong and not only could a sting break your arm, but the poison they deliver is no laughing matter either,” Janey continued, her voice falling into the same monotone that she seemed to use whenever she was explaining something. “Though tame compared to most other stinging insects, you still shouldn't take them lightly.”

Twilight nodded.

“The other kind of scorpion you need to watch out for is a bark scorpion,” Janey remarked. “They tend to be a lot smaller, pack a lot more venom in their stings and are generally a little smarter, preferring to ambush their targets or at least flank them before striking.”

Well that is better, sort of. Twilight thought to herself.

“Next are bloatflies, which are generally pretty harmless giant flies, but that doesn't mean you should ignore them, plus they are creepy as heck,” Janey shuddered. “They shoot a stinger that delivers a neurotoxin capable of incapacitating small prey, and is attached to a semi mature larva.”

Twilight stuck out her tongue in disgust.

“But like I said, mostly harmless. Especially for you considering they couldn't even peirce that thick hide of yours,” Janey exclaimed.

“Cazadors on the other hand are incredibly dangerous, the size of a person and somehow capable of flight. These nasty things carry an incredibly powerful venom capable of bringing down even adult deathclaws,” Janey remarked, the human shuddering at the mere memory. “You’ll know one when you see it because of its orange wings and red eyes while on the whole I’ve been told they look like giant wasps.”

I already don't like where this is going. Twilight thought to herself.

Giant ants, giant wasps, giant spiders, giant mutant humans, giant bears, giant geckos, giant humanoid snapping turtles, giant rats, giant moles rats, giant sheep. What isn't giant out here? Twilight thought to herself, the deathclaw trodding quietly behind Janey as they weaved their way through the rocky terrain south of goodsprings. I sure hope we never have to fight any ghouls, or raiders though. Killing an animal is one thing but I don't think I could ever bring myself to fight a thinking, feeling creature.

Twilight released a low sigh. Though I suppose those legion people aren't much better than animals if even half of what Janey has mentioned is true.

The unicorn turned deathclaw’s train of thought was derailed when her campanoin suddenly crouched down, stopping in the middle of a narrow gap between two cliffs. Following her example, Twilight did her best to hide, staying close to the rock wall and trying to search for whatever had spooked the woman.

“Gun wielding person up on the hill,” Janey whispered, pointing towards a distant rise where someone indeed stood, a rifle in her grip, though she was little more then a silhoute due to how dark it was. “It's a bit hard to see, though I think it might be one of the towns people.”

Twilight grunted, trying to get the human to voice what she intended to do, her own superior vision revealing little more then it was a person. Twilight made a quick mental note that her darkvision didn't go for more then about sixty or so feet.

“I’ll talk to her, you stay here,” Janey whispered.

The deathclaw didn't like the idea, but had to admit that it sounded like the best course of action.

Holstering her revolver, Janey stood up before raising her hands and stepping forward. “Hello! You wouldn't happen to be from goodsprings by chance, would you?” Janey shouted.

The stranger jerked upwards, her free hand gripping her rifle but not raising it. “That I am, and you are?” Asked the person.

“Janey Booth,” shouted the ex courier.

Immediately the gun lowered, and the other person stepped forward, allowing Twilight to make out more details of the individual. Like how she had dark auburn hair which was tied into a ponytail, and how she wore an odd pathwork of what appeared to be leather armor of some kind. She was also quite young, though she had a look about her that made Twilight think that she was more experienced then she appeared to be.

“Ahh you’re the courier Doc Mitchell patched up,” remarked the other human.

A strange smell wafted past Twilight’s nose and the deathclaw glanced over to where a large dog was sniffing around nearby. Though a good thirty feet away, and upwind of the apex predator, Twilight didn't like how close the creature was. The former pony quickly ruled out walking away as her heavy footsteps would probably alert the beast, leaving her with no other option than to sit there awkwardly and hope.

Janey nodded, coming to a stop at the bottom of the hill. “Sorry about leavin town so quickly. I just really wanted to hit the road before the trail went cold.”

The other girl shouldered her weapon. “Well it's a good thing you came back. Otherwise Trudy woulda given me an earful for not findin ya and pointing you her way.”

“She owns the bar right? The doc mentioned her briefly when I was there,” Janey explained.

“That she does, I assume you’ll be heading over there soon huh?” Remarked the person.

Janey nodded. “Just as soon as I offload some salvage I found up the way as well as drop by the school.”

The dog’s white nose lifted into the air, the black fur on its back rising as a deep growl emanated from it. Twilight had to stop herself from telling the thing to shoo as that would probably not help, especially considering she couldn't actually talk. The dog continued to close in despite Twilight’s desperate hoping that it would simply turn and walk away.

“Well I’d hurry if I were you. Chet doesn't like to stay open late. Oh and the name’s Sunny, Sunny Smiles. The mutt sniffing about your heels is Cheyane, and don't worry, she won't bite unless I tell her to.” exclaimed the woman who extended a hand.

Janey scampered up the hill and shook the offered limb. “A pleasure. I’ll make sure to split a bottle with ya later.”

Sunny Smiles grinned. “That's what I like to hear. Best of luck with those mantis critters, there were only a few of them but they damn near ripped off Easy Pete’s foot the last time he tried to crack the safe in there.”

“I’ll remember that, thanks,” Janey replied, stepping back.

And with that, the gun toting woman turned and began to walk away just as her dog began to close in on Twilight’s hiding spot. “Cheyenne come!” called the human, who glanced over her shoulder.

The hound seems to hesitate a moment, giving one last glance in Twilight’s direction before scampering off after its owner. The second it was gone Twilight breathed a sigh of relief, watching closely as both dog and owner began to walk away. With the return of Janey, the deathclaw slowly rose from the small nook that had served as her hiding spot for the last few minutes.

“Well that was lucky. If I had come out empty handed to some raider or ganger my brains would be all over the ground right now,” Janey remarked.

“That was close too. I think her dog almost saw me,” Twilight tapped out on a nearby rock.

After a short pause, Janey grimaced. “It's a good thing that didn't happen, cus people tend to shoot first ask questions later when it comes to deathclaws.”

Twilight sighed.

“Well we better get moving, its getting late and unlike you I can't see in the dark,” Janey exclaimed, turning and walking westward along the top of the short cliff. “We’ll circle around town to make sure no one sees us. Make sure to stay a good distance away from me so I can make sure the coast is clear.”

The deathclaw did as she was told, following behind the human as they made their way around the small town. Twilight’s gaze was inevitably drawn to the cluster of builds that became visible after cresting the final rise. Despite the fact that the sun had set a few minutes ago, Twilight remained able to see the majority of the structures. Though the finer details were much harder to make out and most things were little more then sillhoutes.

Allowing her to gaze down on the first human settlement she had seen in this dimension. To say that it was a sorry sight would be an understatement, as the good majority of the buildings were either dilapidated or were clearly very old. Though some were patched in a few places, most structures were obviously built over two hundred years ago.

Only a small ramshackle home near the edge of town seemed new, though the rusty metal it was made out of certainly wasn't. Many of the other houses were also little more than rubble, or appeared to be boarded up completely, and the roads which ran through the town were also almost completely destroyed. Dirt paths replaced the concrete ones that had once been there, and it was clear that this settlement wasn't exactly the richest around.

Darting in behind a rock, Twilight emerged next to a large schoolhouse, her attention shifting to the red building which was surrounded by a short, mostly broken fence. Ahead of her stood Janey who was looking around, clearly searching for anyone who may linger near the edges of town at such a late hour. After a few seconds she nodded, and jogged over to the schoolhouse door, which she opened after briefly checking if it was locked.

Twilight waited as patiently as she could, but after a few seconds of silence, the deathclaw looked around and then booked it towards the entrance. Emerging into the schoolhouse, Twilight expected to find her friend injured or at least busy fighting the mantises but that didn't turn out to be the case. The insects were dead, and Janey was simply busy cleaning the greenish blood from the grip of her revolver.

“Worried about me?” Asked the human without looking up.

Twilight nodded, slowly closing the door and placing the pile of electronics nearby. “Sorry, I probably should have trusted you,” tapped the deathclaw.

Janey shrugged. “It's no big deal and hey, I got you a snack.”

Looking down at the half destroyed insects didn't exactly make Twilight hungry, though there was a small part of her that wanted nothing more than to chow down. “Can't we at least cook them first?” Twilight replied.

The human chuckled. “I’ll grill them up in a bit, right now I gotta get this stuff over to Chet’s before he closes.”

Twilight hummed thoughtfully as she looked out over the destroyed interior of the school house. “Would you mind leaving that book you mentioned with me?” Twilight inquired.

Janey nodded, and quickly did just that, depositing the tome on the lone desk that had not been destroyed or toppled. “Sure thing, and feel free to clean up in here as it's where we’ll be staying the night.”

Twilight sighed as she looked over the cracked and broken interior of the small school house. The windows had been boarded over at some point, the floor was covered with a thin layer of dirt, and random bits of paper. Worse yet the roof was sagging in one place, and there were a few worrying floor boards which had somehow come loose.

“At least it's free,” Twilight tapped out.

Janey chuckled. “It's not like this place is big enough to have a motel or anything,” remarked the human, who hefted the bag of loot over her shoulder only to almost fall over when the weight settled.

“Do you need help?” Twilight asked.

The human grunted. “No it's fine, just get the door.”

The deathclaw did just that, pushing open the wooden portal and watching as her companion struggled to walk through it. For a moment it seemed like Janey was going to try to say something, only for her legs to begin to shake. Refocusing on her task, the human began to stumble her way towards where Twilight assumed this Chet person had his store.

Wary of anyone potentially seeing her, Twilight closed the door and ducked quickly back inside. The second she was alone the deathclaw decided to check out the other entrances and finding that one was boarded over while the other was unlocked, chose to fix that. Picking up a heavy set of lockers, Twilight placed it in front of the other opening that had yet to be used.

After that she wedged a chair under the door handle of the first door, completing her primitive defences and freeing her up to look around the rest of the place without worrying. She started in the small back room near where a long bench rested, a terminal sitting atop and a safe sat beside. This second room was cramped, and several racks had fallen over at one point, making a mess of the place.

Remedying that took only a few seconds, after which Twilight carefully gathered everything that seemed to be of value. Though that happened to only be a couple of old magazines, some two hundred year old food and a bottle of grimy looking water. The former pony was glad she wasn't thirsty, as it certainly didn't look appetizing, though something told her that it was about as good as things were going to get out in the wasteland.

Rummaging through the desks and lockers netted her a handful of cherry bombs, a rather unpleasant, expletive filled letter and a few burned, useless books. As well as a bunch of caps, though she threw them in the garbage, along with the books, her heart aching all the while. With all that done, she then turned to the safe, as well as the terminal, silently contemplating what to do with them.

Though she was fairly certain she could simply tear open the safe with her bare claws, Twilight didn't want to potentially ruin anything inside. That and she knew nothing of the machines in this world, which ruled out the terminal entirely, leaving only the guide, and the mantises. Turning to the dead insects, Twilight piled them along with the egg sacks near the door, only to be surprised when two smaller ones emerged from the sac.

Startled by their sudden appearance, Twilight backed away, raising her hands defensively in response. The two insects looked around before locking onto Twilight at the exact same time and throwing themselves at the deathclaw. More than a little confused as to what the nymphs thought they were going to acomplish against an apex predator, Twilight watched as they swung their tiny limbs at her legs.

Though it was clear that they were striking her with killing intent, the deathclaw herself felt only the slightest of impact from it. In fact it looked kind of cute how they had split up and were attacking a leg each, swinging their tiny forelimbs viciously. Twilight chuckled, merely watching as they swung over and over until finally they stopped, and seemed to contemplate their predicament.

“Maybe you should just give up and go back to your nest,” Twilight offered.

The mantises seemed to take exception to this, and decided to attack the towering deathclaw with renewed vigor. This lasted about as long as the first time, and a minute later one of the mantises stopped, began to sway and then fell over. His friend lasted only a few seconds longer before succumbing to fatigue as well and joining him on the floor, too tired to move.

“Daww your kinda cute when you aren't trying to chop my legs off,” Twilight mused. “I better get you two out of here though, otherwise Janey is going to hurt you.”

Picking up the two insects, Twilight placed them in her open palm and then trotted to the small backroom. Prying off the boards was surprisingly easy, even with only using a single claw, her long black nail making short work of the pieces of wood. After pulling open the door, Twilight deposited the two mantises on the ground outside the school house.

“There you are. Maybe now you’ll have learned a thing or two about attacking something dozens of times bigger than you,” Twilight whispered before slipping back inside and wedging one of the racks between the door and the wall, securing it about as well as she could manage.

With all that done and out of the way, Twilight walked back over to the manual that had been left behind for her. The deathclaw paused just as she was about to open it, reminding herself of just how sharp her new claws were. After finding a pencil to open the book and turn the pages as well as a paperweight to keep it open, Twilight began to read.

Chapter one. Radiation and you. Twilight read. Hmm, well this should be interesting, lets start there.

A sudden twisting of a handle jerked Twilight out of the reading induced haze she had fallen into. When the chair held firm, a knock came a second later, followed by a familiar voice.

“Open up, it's just me!” Whispered Janey as loud as she dared.

Walking over to the door, Twilight removed the wedge she had made, and took a step back. Allowing the human to swiftly duck inside, her bag of electronics now gone, and her backpack no longer bulging with scavenged loot.

Twilight opened her palm face up, asking in the universal sign language, so, how did it go?

“Not bad. I managed to get a really good deal one some of those components. Turns out there was some really good stuff in there which is why it took so long,” Janey began.

Twilight blinked, and glanced over to the windows which showed a pitch black town. “Oh, I didn't notice,” Twilight remarked, tapping out her response on the floor.

“You werent kidding when you said you loved books,” Janey waved a hand in the air. “Either way I have some more news to mention. Namely that I acquired a cloak for you so you don't have to do quite as much sneaking around.”

Twilight breathed a sigh of relief. “Good, because I wasn't much for stealth before I gained a few hundred extra pounds.”

The human raised a finger, a small smile on her face. “That's not all. I also managed to find a line on an auto translator. Apparently some lucky scav managed to find it in one of the old vaults. The only problem is that he was promptly murdered by the brotherhood of steel, who stole it.”

“Murdered?” Twilight hastily asked, her mouth hanging open in shock.

Janey nodded grimly. “I didn't have time to go over the brotherhood of steel before, but if you got some good tech on you, and they know about this fact then they will take it from you through force if necessary. Apparently they aren't all bad, though evidently the group hiding out in the mojave are not nice people.”

“You can say that again,” Twilight added.

“Anyway. We just need to either find the brotherhood guys who stole it, or figure out what vault the scav dug it out of and there is a chance we can get it back or find another one,” Janey continued.

“I vote for the second option,” Twilight hastily tapped out.

“I thought you might say that,” replied Janey with a grin. “Either way in the meantime the town is having some troubles we can help with but we’ll talk about that later. Right now all you need to know is that Chet is talking to a buddy who will sew you up that cloak I mentioned and that we need to grill ourselves up some mantis and celebrate a good haul.”

The human produced a large bag from one of her pockets, opening it to reveal what looked like a few hundred caps which she displayed proudly.

“Why are you showing me bottle caps?” Twilight asked, cocking her head.

Janey nearly fell over she facepalmed so hard. “Of course you wouldn't know that's our currency. God dammit Janey, why didn't you start with that?”

“Thats stupid, why use bottle caps? Anyone can make them.” Twilight questioned.

The human sighed. “So in the early days we used the old world money but then-”

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