• Published 27th Jul 2021
  • 583 Views, 93 Comments

Suck it up, Buttercup - David Silver

He marched through the wastes. He was also bright yellow, and had a tail that did not sway much. He was also named Buttercup, not exactly a manly name, but it was his. His friend needed him. What is that? It looks like him, but also very not...

  • ...

16 - War

"You broke it." An upset mutant didn't have long to complain about it, bullets ripped through it with the wet noise of parting flesh. It was a pity for that sentry that several others had closed to melee and began battering its gleaming chrome, a melody of a metal drum quieting the weapons' exchange.

Fend crumpled forward, his destroyed shoulder unable to hold him up. His ability to threaten was reduced from low to entirely irrelevant.

With a bright set of sparks, one of the supers wrenched free a bit of the interior of the sentry. "I win!" Declaring he deserved the prize, he rushed back for their leader, the electronic widget held up ever so proudly.

The leader held out a hand with a great smile. "Good jo--"

A pity that meant he wasn't moving, waiting for that merry moment. A loud pop sounded from down the hallway, a bullet flew down the intermediate space faster than sound itself. The super's leader suddenly didn't have a left eye, howling with wordless pain and fury as he staggered back, his other hand reaching but missing the suddenly emptied socket.

He collapsed to the side, balance fleeing him entirely. Even super mutants needed an entire brain, no matter how much, or little, of it they seemed to use at any given time.

Fresh lasers filled the hallway, additional security units arriving on the scene. Stan took that chance to duck back. "Better get moving," he shouted out at nothing in particular.

Skyline shook his head groggily, struggling back to his hooves, swords still clutched in his metal fingers out to either side of himself. It was a plus at that moment that his cybernetic hands did not release things until told to do so, instead of by default. With a soft grunt, he charged past the battle line of super mutants. They were focused on the robots, and the one that wanted him most was dead, or close enough to it.

His forward motion came to a sudden stop as his spine jolted in pain. The slumped form of their leader had grabbed his tail and was slowly standing with a pained grunt. "Where you going?"

Buttercup landed on the super mutant's already abused head, stomping with her hooves as best she could. "Away!" She sprang past him. "C'mon!"

Skyline lurched to chase after her, his tail no longer held. "Right." He got his swords away one at a time as he charged for the exit. "You're going to have to deal with a ladder again."

Buttercup audibly swallowed with memory of that foul human invention. "You go first, you're faster."

"You go first, I can catch you," countered Skyline with little room for argument in his voice.

"I don't have to listen to you," taunted Buttercup as they arrived at the bottom of the ladder. "But that isn't a bad idea." And up she went as fast as she could, which did not feel at all fast enough.

Inside, Stan watched as the Super's moment of confusion waned. The security's golden opportunity faded away, and they were being shot, crushed and smashed without mercy. Sure, the supers were losing people too, but the tide of the battle seemed clear. If it weren't so obvious what would happen to him when they were done, perhaps he would have let them be.

"This is still operating." Giddyup was pointing a hoof at a discarded laser minigun that had been attached to a security unit.

"That needs power." Stan considered the batteries in his pack, but getting it--" A hatch opened on the side of Giddyup. "What?"

"I will power it." Giddyup nodded. "Attach it quickly."

Fortunately, the end that went to power was simple enough. Black and red, a classic design. The power terminal Giddyup had revealed also had a black and a red. There as no time to argue and Stan got to connecting them as quick--Ow! When he touched the second wire in place, a jolt of electricity made fingers numb. "Blast it." But he got the wire in place even with the jolted fingers, twisting it tight and slapping the hatch shut. "This is a crazy idea."

"It is also the best option detected."

"Ain't arguin' that." Stan hefted the minigun, a sizable beast of a weapon. It was glowing dimly, ready to be used. "There ain't a trigger."

"I am the trigger," calmly informed Giddyup. "You are the aiming function."

Stan chuckled at that, stepping forward, one ponderous step at a time. "Right, we'll be one better robot, together." As he directed the gun at a mutant, it suddenly flared to brilliant life. With the proper power pumped into it by Giddyup, it began to belch out a stream of laser shots. Unlike the robots that aimed for center mass for the most likely hits, Stan preferred to go for weak points. Heads were a fine place to express one's dissatisfaction with their enemy.

Giddyup marched behind Stan, watching where he was aiming and controlling the flow of power. The gun didn't fire when it wasn't aimed at something that needed shooting, which gave it time to cool down between salvos. But whenever it came close to on target, it spun right back up. The rate of fire they were pulling off was much higher than the written specifications for the gun.

Fortunately for them both, Giddyup had never read those instructions. With no trigger, what had been meant as a semi-automatic three-burst weapon was instead a fully-automatic spray of laser-powered pain and death.

This was not good for the long-term viability of the device, bits of its internals melting under the continued assault. It was only the brief moments of respite that allowed it to last as long as it was, and giving Stan the opportunity to mow down the front line of supers.

They were not alone, the security robots rallying as the tide of battle turned in their favor. "Lethal force authorized," noted one robot that was already in the process of dispensing exactly that. "All intruders are to be exterminated."

In the long chute towards freedom, Buttercup reached for each step, heaving for labored breath as she did her best to not fall from even further than she had the first time. "About... Halfway... I think?"

Her squeal echoed in the narrow tunnel as she flailed. Skyline had moved up underneath her, forcing her away from the ladder. She clung to him desperately as he began climbing easily, at least twice as fast as she had been doing it. "Oh," she laughed out as they ascended, keeping a firm grip around his body. "You are really, really good at these things."

"Keep a hold on me." Skyline put his attention entirely on climbing, one hoof after the other. Having fingers on his fores made all the difference, allowing him to scramble upwards towards safety. "Assuming... They win... The robots shouldn't hurt Stan."

"Hope not." Her breath was calming even as Skyline worked as hard as she was. Clinging to him was far less stressful than trying to navigate the ladder that humans thought were a good idea for reasons that evaded her. "Yellow got hurt... Real bad... For me. Fend--"

"--No time for that," barked out Skyline. "If we don't get away, it was for nothing. They did it for us. Let's..." He hauled himself up to the next rung. "Let's honor that. We'll live a long time. Tell other people about Yellow and Fend."

"I'd like that," she sighed out, sniffling softly. "It's not fair."

"Life rarely is." He could see the hatch above them, wide open. "Almost there."

The gun stopped firing, and started flashing strange new lights. "What's that mean?"

"Detach the cables and withdraw to minimum safe distance." Giddyup stayed still. He couldn't flee the gun while attached to it.

"Ah shit." Sure, one little part of him wanted to just run, but leaving Giddyup? He wasn't ready to do that. He threw the gun to the ground and grabbed the cords, expecting a rude shock, but none came. Giddyup had turned off the terminals, well that was all well and good. He half-yanked the power cables free. "Let's go!"

They charged away from it, boots and hooves striking the metal. They didn't get far before the intersection and the hallways attached lit up with a new explosion. The two were lifted from the ground, hurled forward with dizzying speed. Stone and tortured metal screamed, collapsing behind them by inches. Crashing into the ground and sliding, the noise of battle died down. The entire vault was silent a moment.

"Threat eliminated," announced the overseer AI. "Return to standard procedures. Giddyup buttercup units, update requested."

Giddyup sat up. "They do not have required permissions to issue that command to this giddyup buttercup unit." He stood up and shook free the dust that had fallen on him in the blast. "Please state your current condition."

"Banged up." Stan got up far more slowly. "But breathin'. More than I expected, truth told." He began patting himself down, getting rid of the dust much as Giddyup had, with less shaking involved. "You alright?"

"Damage was minimal," Giddyup reported, some pleasure in his voice. To say things happily was still a trick he was learning, but practice made perfect! "Safe paths, not detected." He turned around slowly in place, ending up exactly where he began.

Stan took a slow breath at that. "We're sealed in, huh?"

Skyline clung to the ladder as everything shook. A great explosion sounded beneath them. The moment the shaking stopped, he scrambled the last few steps, flopping out into the dark morning.

Buttercup slipped free of him onto her own haunches. "That didn't sound good, whatever that was."

"I... very much doubt it was." Skyline flopped over onto his back instead, heaving to regain his breath. "But we made it."

Buttercup nudged him lightly. "The elders will be upset."

Skyline frowned at the idea. "Why?"

"We didn't get much. Weren't we supposed to get all kinds of information?" She waved her hooves in the air expressively. "Like all the mysteries, solved and all that."

"We learned enough." Skyline rolled to his side towards Buttercup. "I understand what I am." He paused with a frown. "I know what I am. Understanding comes later. I know why we were made." He climbed to his hooves. "I'm sorry for him." He looked to the hatch. "I'm not sure if I should hope that he is alive, and buried, or simply dead and buri--"

Buttercup crashed a hoof down on his head. "You don't even finish that sentence! Stan did everything we asked, and he was--is! He's a nice person. Giddyup too." She started dancing in place. "So I hope they're both alright, down there. They'll figure something out. They're clever! And they've been out here a lot longer than either of us."

"Yeah." Skyline rubbed the spot that had been thumped. "That was still an amazingly dumb idea."

"That worked." Nodding with confidence, Buttercup started in the direction leading home. "If they come back, we owe him. We promised a nice big reward!"

"I didn't forget." Skyline hurried to be at her side. "But first, we have to survive the trip home. At least we know the way. Let me take point." He advanced ahead of her. "If we see humans, we avoid them. We knew Stan, he gets a pass. Others, not so much. Humans made us, but that doesn't get them that many points, the way I see it."

"Sure it does." Buttercup skipped once between steps. "It means they could see a world with us in it. They can't be all bad." She leaned in closer to Skyline. "I'd like to meet a nice one or two, like Stan."

"I wouldn't be... opposed to that, but that doesn't mean I'm going to go hunting. Most of them are far more trouble than they're worth." He skewed an ear to the side. "They made this." He gestured broadly at the wastelands they were traveling.

Humans were complicated.

Author's Note:

A part of me says, 'Yeah, that's an ending'. But what do you think? Fin?

Join the special community of folks who like my stories and/or get your own here at atreon!

Don't want to do an ongoing thing? You could

Join my discord to chat!