• Published 4th Jan 2012
  • 6,545 Views, 590 Comments

Fallout Equestria: The Daily Unlife - Nyerguds

"Live a little, they say. Easier said than done." Lemon Frisk, a 220-year-old Canterlot ghoul, leaves Stable One looking for the Meaning of Unlife.

  • ...

Day Three - What’s the Point of Living If You Can’t Feel Alive?

What’s the Point of Living If You Can’t Feel Alive?
envying the dead?

Lemon Frisk took a quick look at Misty's pipbuck clock, careful not to wake her up. 4:30. He sighed inwardly.

He didn't sleep. He doubted Misty had really noticed it the first night, and he hadn't bothered mentioning it, but ghouls didn't need sleep. The reason a lot of ponies were freaked out about having ghouls in their town wasn't even because of some threat of them 'turning feral'... in fact, that rarely ever happened, from what Lemon Frisk remembered. In Stable One, there were inhabitants with several degrees of being rusted in their habits, and some of them were indeed better left undisturbed... but he couldn't remember anyone actually degrading. Mentally, anyway.

No, the real reason was that they wandered around at night. Feral or not, ghouls did that. Because they didn't sleep.

Lemon Frisk had stayed inside the inn, keeping still for the past six hours, but he was getting restless. Very quietly, he snuck outside, and breathed in the cool night air. Breathing was one of these other things he didn't need to bother with, but he just liked doing it. It felt good, and it made it possible to perform sighing, groaning, laughing, and other vital somewhat-verbal communication. Oh, and talking.

Looking around the deserted town square, he saw a ghoul standing in the middle of it, leaning against one of the three poles that made up the town's central identifying structure. He saw that there was some sort of bunker underneath it, something he hadn't noticed in the crowd of the day.

"Morning," he said, walking towards the other ghoul.

"Not quite yet," the other one wheezed, in a slow, hoarse voice. "But yeah, I guess. The name's Spring Singer. What's yours?"

"Lemon Frisk. And here I thought this town didn't have any pretty mares."

The other ghoul, who looked considerably more decayed than Lemon himself, let out a slow wheezing laugh. "You been talking to Slugger?"

"Someone called him that, yes. He was guarding the gate when we came in."

"Ahh. Well it's a bit of an insiders' joke," Spring Singer said. Her lips were almost completely gone, but she had a way of showing her smile with her eyebrows. Lemon Frisk wasn't sure whether to be jealous or not. "See," the mare continued, "I'm pretty much the town's mascot."

"I take it you never left this place, then?"

"More or less. The real visionary behind this was my husband, Celestia guide his soul." She pointed up to the huge structure she was leaning against. "This here... when it was still fully filled with hay... could keep a family alive for half a century in these wastes."

Lemon Frisk took a better look at the three poles. "Are those wood? How did that survive two hundred years in the open?"

"My husband didn't take any half measures, ever. The wood's been treated to the point it can probably last another two centuries."

She sighed, once again confirming ghouls' true goal for breathing. "His name was Brown Leaf. Everyone called him Farmer Brown. He was a smart stallion, that's why I married him. Some good old farmer's brains in there. So when the war started, and people were told about the threat of the megaspells... he didn't wait for Stable-Tec to save us. He did a bunch of calculations about the distance from the cities and the prevailing winds, and found himself the safest spot in case everything was blown to the moon." She gave a knock on the wooden pole. "And sure enough, this was the safest place. It's just bad luck that we were out selling our produce in one of the cities when the world died."

She looked at Lemon Frisk again, and cocked her head. "I heard that in Canterlot, the pink cloud thing was pretty quick. Lucky bastards."

"Coughing your lungs out for hours isn't what I'd call 'quick'," Lemon Frisk said, shuddering at the memory of his 'death'.

The old mare let out a wheezing laugh. "It doesn't compare to a few months of slow rad poisoning."

Lemon Frisk's eyes widened. Being a Canterlot ghoul, he never really thought about how other ghouls died. He just assumed it'd be about the same. "I- I'm sorry! I never realised—"

"Yeah..." she said, slowly. "I suppose you wouldn't. That's all right though. It's two hundred years ago."

She looked around the town square. "So yes, this is my husband's life work... the Hay Den. A bunker with a water talisman, under a huge unpoisoned food reserve, in a relatively clean area of the wastelands. Such a pity he didn't survive the way back here... he would've loved to see this. It made the wastelands a little bit better!"

"They still shot at you when they first found this place, didn't they?" Lemon Frisk said dryly.

Spring Singer once again produced a wheezing laugh. "They sure did. But there's this odd saying... that the closest friends in the Wastelands are people who meet by shooting at each other."

"Misty threw a bottle at my head," Lemon Frisk mused. "I wonder if that counts..."

* * *

Misty Cloud woke up from the warm sunlight falling on her coat. She got up, and walked towards the window, determined to take in as much of the spectacle as she could before the sun would rise above the pegasus cloud cover.

The sun was special to her; more so than to the ponies out here. Before she left the stable, she had never seen the sun, and she was fascinated by it. Of course she'd read the books, and knew about the general dynamics of the Sun and the Moon, but to actually see it was quite a different thing. It seemed so huge, yet so small; a tiny speck in the sky with the force to warm an entire world.

She kept looking at the sun until it became too bright, and began to fade behind the clouds. Finally looking away, she gazed over the empty town square, and noticed Lemon Frisk, talking to...

A corpse.

She looked a bit longer, and saw the corpse move, and heard it talk back in a slow, wheezing voice.

She frowned. That was what other ghouls looked like? Looked like she owed Lemon Frisk an apology.

"Hey, Spray Paint, you awake?" she asked.

The turquoise pony raised his head and yawned. "I am now."

He looked at her staring out the window. "You were looking at the sunrise again, weren't you?"

Misty just nodded.

"Hey, are you all right?" Spray Paint asked. "I mean, really all right? I know how close you and Big Ap—"

"Don't!" she cut him off, without looking away from the window. "Please."

Spray Paint shook his head. "Misty, I know you. You just bottle it all up. Please don't do that; you know it won't end well. You, of all ponies, should know better than that."

"Physician, heal thyself?" she said, sounding bitter. "I'm all too aware of the psychological impact this has on me. Doesn't mean I can fix it."

She looked at the undead stallion down on the town square, which was slowly getting more populated. "But I think he can. He makes me feel... safe."

"The ghoul?" Spray Paint said, incredulously. "You're replacing Big Apple with a ghoul?"

"I'm not replacing anyone!" she yelled. "Apple's dead, dammit, and nothing can change that. I thought I lost you too, and Lemon Frisk offered to help, asking nothing in return! Are you judging me for trying to survive out here?"

"...I'm sorry," Spray Paint said. "I'm... out of line here. It's just—"

"—you've always been jealous of Big Apple, and now you see my attention going to somepony else again."

Spray Paint's head drooped. "I'm really that transparent?"

Misty smiled sadly, and slowly shook her head. "It is my special talent, you know."

* * *

Misty sighed. "I have to admit, you were right. You were right about the bottle caps, and you were right about not looking bad for a ghoul."

"I told you!" Lemon Frisk grinned.

"And you were right about Spring Singer," Misty said. "She really is a nice lady."

It was around noon, and with their shopping trip complete, all three Stable ponies were now wearing some fairly good barding, and had full weapon holsters attached to their saddlebags.

"So, uh... any plans on where to go, then?" Spray Paint asked.

"Yeah," the ghoul replied. "We're going to New Appleoosa."

The turquoise pony nodded. "Fine by me. What's there?"

"The Wasteland Survival Guide!" Lemon Frisk said, smiling. "You guys will need it if you want to live out here."

Spray Paint frowned. "Exactly how far away is this ‘New Appleoosa'?"

"I dunno. A few weeks travel, I guess," Lemon Frisk said.

Spray Paint blinked. "Well, in that case, to survive those few weeks, we might want to pick up this neat thing they sell over at the general store. It's called the Wasteland Survival Guide. Might be helpful?"

"They sell it here?!" Misty asked.

"Of course they do," Spray Paint said, dryly. "I imagine they sell it everywhere. After all, what good is a survival guide if you have to survive for weeks on your own before you can get to it? I'd imagine you could write your own by the time you get to New Appleoosa."

Lemon Frisk stared at the turquoise colt, dumbfounded. "I... honestly never thought of that."

Misty facehoofed. "All right, so, back to the store, then."

* * *

At the store, the preparations for the Sparkle Cola expedition were going rather smoothly. The shopkeeper had hired some trustworthy ponies, got a big cart out of the back of his house, and was getting it loaded with crates to load the bottles in.

He looked at the familiar trio that was approaching him, and noticed their new equipment. "Howdy, ponies. Y'all seem to have squandered yer riches?"

"Got to keep the economy running," Lemon Frisk said with a smile. "Talking about that... you apparently sell copies of the Wasteland Guide?"

"The Guide? ‘course I do. Wouldn't be much of a merchant if I didn't. No one should be out there without a guide."

"Great! I'd like a couple for the fresh Stable ponies." Lemon Frisk smiled. "On second thought, make it three, I lost my own copy."

The big unicorn nodded, and walked into his shop. "By all means, C'mon inside."

"By the way," he said, as he walked to the back of the shop, "yesterday was a heck of a day, but in the end, we didn't trade names. Mine's Capsworth. Might I have the pleasure of gettin' yours?"

"Lemon Frisk," the ghoul answered with a smile. "And the pretty mare is Misty Cloud."

The shopkeeper glanced at Misty. "Looks more like a rusty cloud ta me." Misty just rolled her eyes.

Capsworth walked back to the counter, three copies of the guide floating with him. "That'll be eighteen caps. Though... I wouldn't mind giving them for free, if you accompanied us on this trip. What is yer business in New Appleoosa anyway?"

Lemon Frisk groaned, his head slumping down. "It's become... irrelevant." Behind him, he heard Misty snicker.

Capsworth frowned, looking from the mare, to the ghoul, to the guides now lying on the counter. Misty burst out laughing as she saw the realization dawn on the merchant's face.

"It's not funny, okay?" Lemon Frisk groaned. "I just didn't realise they'd be sold here!"

"Haw!" the big unicorn laughed. "Tell ya what," he said, "I give you folks these for free, you travel with me. That way, I'm sure this all ain't some silly joke, and you c'n get some more o'the haul if ya want. If the route's as safe as you claim, this should be a breeze, and you Canterlot ghouls are supposed to be tough as nails."

Lemon Frisk looked at the two ponies walking with him.

Misty Cloud nodded. "Fine by me. I'm basically just following you, anyway."

Spray Paint shrugged. "Us stable ponies have to stick together, I guess." He didn't sound very convinced.

* * *

"Here we are then. Scorch Mark," Capsworth said. "Let's hope it's as safe as you claim."

Lemon Frisk looked around, clearly not feeling comfortable being back in the burnt village. "It is, but..."

Capsworth's eyes narrowed. "Have you been hidin' anything?"

"No. But I don't want to just go through here again," Lemon Frisk said. He knew Capsworth wasn't going to like what he wanted to ask, but he felt he owed the dead village.

"Consider this..." he finally said. "As long as there are scorched statues standing in these houses, no one will dare to come here. The rumours about ghouls will persist, and this won't be marked as safe land. However..."

He looked the unicorn in the eyes. "If we comb it out, go through all the standing houses in the village rim, take down all the bodies, and put a bullet between their eyes... you will be sure there are no feral ghouls left, and I'll be sure there are no tortured souls that will be standing here until the end of time."

"That's madness! If even one of them can still move, we could all die!"

"Don't worry about that. I'll investigate myself. There's only two dozen houses left here; we can do them in about an hour. I just need your guys to pull the trigger on them."

The unicorn looked at him suspiciously. "Why's that?"

Lemon Frisk looked sad. "That's... personal."

Just as Capsworth was about to object, Misty stepped forward, looking extremely serious. "Very personal," she said. "Please don't press him on that, unless you want to risk deteriorating the sanity of a Canterlot ghoul. We've all been through some crappy things in life, but they don't beat personally witnessing the end of the world."

The unicorn shook his head. "Crazy old ghoul. What if I refuse?"

Lemon Frisk looked up. "Then you'll be travelling on without us, until we finish it and catch up." He glanced at Misty, who nodded with firm conviction. "Last time we came here we were lost and without supplies," he continued, "but now we're fully stocked, we can take our time."

"Well, from my point of view, this just smells like a trap. You could have boys holed up in these buildings to kill us."

"For what purpose?" Lemon Frisk asked. "Taking an empty cart and whatever ammunition would be left after the fire fight? That seems like a lot of risk for a pretty meager reward. The only stuff worth taking here are the caps we're carrying."

Capsworth finally gave in. "All right. You may be crazy, but you have a point about declaring this place safe; it'd cut quite a piece off our trade routes." He looked at the four ponies he hired for the hauling job. "Guys, follow the ghoul. Today, we're hunting statues."

* * *

It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it. And with images of his own son haunting his mind, it wasn't going to be Lemon Frisk.

Most of the melted ponies were simply dead, the bullet through the head resulting in nothing but a cloud of black dust. Some ghouls could produce no more than a barely audible whine, while others were indistinguishable from their dead comrades save for the goo splattering out when they put them to rest. All of them, without a single exception, were immobile, even those not melted to the floor.

Lemon Frisk averted his eyes every time they shot one, but as with the first one, he didn't mind helping to carry them outside.

After little more than an hour, the job was done, and the bodies were piled up at the side of the village. The job had put Capsworth in an oddly solemn mood, though, and he decided to spend half an hour longer to dig them a grave. When Misty asked him about it, he said he merely wanted to remove the grisly sight to prevent more rumours about ghouls, since the mummified bodies wouldn't decompose for years, but Misty could see the big stallion was rather shaken by the whole ordeal.

When they finally left the village, their moods started to brighten a little. So far, the trip had been blissfully uneventful, and in their own way, they had made the Wasteland a little bit better. If nothing else, they at least knew Spring Singer would be proud.

* * *

As they walked on, Spray Paint somehow got talking with Capsworth. Since the other four ponies tended to stay away from the ghoul, this left Lemon Frisk and Misty Cloud relatively alone. Not feeling like getting poked again, Lemon Frisk decided to ask about her Stable.

"Sixty-nine?" Lemon Frisk asked. "Are you serious?"

Misty Cloud sighed. "Yes, sixty-nine. See here, the button at the front of the suit? Says ‘69'."

Lemon Frisk laughed. "Oh wow. I suppose now you're going to tell me the old joke about that Stable is true."

Misty Cloud groaned. "I have a fairly good idea what you're going to say, but, please indulge me. What do the wastelands say about Stable 69, besides the obvious sex position joke?"

"Well, see..." Lemon Frisk said, grinning. "When some stables started opening, it turned out that each of them had some sort of social experiment in it. A way to diversify living and thinking styles, to, I dunno, see what went wrong and caused the war, or some manure like that. From what I heard, most of them ended in utter disasters. Anyway, I got no idea if somepony actually got a legitimate list of these experiments, or if it's just a silly joke..." He looked at the button, and sniggered. "...but they say that in Stable 69, they locked up one stallion with a thousand mares."

Misty didn't reply. She just sighed and looked away from him, causing Lemon to burst out laughing. He quickly recomposed himself, and shook his head. "And now you're going to actually confirm that, aren't you? See what I meant about not having to make up crazy stories?"

"Well, it was actually ten stallions," she said. "We call them the Forefathers."

She shook her head in disbelief. "If that was a social experiment, it was a really silly one; after the first generation, the ratios were evened out again anyway. When the initial craziness passed, they started working on a breeding program to make sure we'd survive without eventually having half the population reduced to village idiots."

"Breeding plans, huh?" Lemon cocked poor Lefty again. "How'd that work out?"

"Pretty well. We still had some, um, accidents, mind you, but overall, the gene pool's been kept pretty clean." She smiled. "No two-headed ponies!"

"Worked better than out here, then," Lemon Frisk said. "You should see what cows look like these days."


"Yeah... brahmin they call 'em nowadays, Goddesses know why. So, that breeding program's still going then?"

"The stable opened about a week ago. See, it was supposed to have sensors at the outside, to measure the radiation and toxin levels, but they didn't survive. About fifty years ago, the Stable Council decided to launch a big research effort, to see if any signals could be received from outside. They succeeded about a year ago."

"A year, and then opening only a week ago?" Lemon said. "Prudent folks, then."

Misty nodded. "The Wasteland Research Department filtered out every scrap they got, put a think tank behind it, and eventually informed the Stable about the political situation out there. Listening to Red Eye's propaganda and DJ Pon3's reports for several months allowed them to get a fairly good idea of what the Wastelands were like. I can only imagine what it must be like for a Stable dweller to come out here without knowing anything about it. Eventually we all got access to the outside radio, but there's still some references we didn't get at all... like the caps stuff. DJ doesn't talk about money matters much. I heard him talk about Red Eye putting a bounty on someone's head a few times, but since he always takes the side of the free people of the Wasteland, he never mentioned how much such bounties were, or which currency was used for them."

She looked at her ghoul companion. "Even if I had gotten the caps reference, I'd never have believed it to be anything but wasteland slang for money. I mean, really... bottlecaps. Our stable probably has a component that makes those."

"You're more informed than I realised," Lemon Frisk said. "Still, you vastly underestimated the danger of this place."

Misty nodded. "We knew the politics, but not the wildlife. The Council and the WRD were probably more aware of it though; there was a lot of official planning going on. But Big Apple, Spray Paint and I, we didn't wait for that. Stupid, of course."

She lowered her head and sighed. "Big Apple and I, we, well... couldn't be together. Because of the Program. It ‘could cause risk in future generations'. We thought it was a load of manure, if the next generations were going out into the big world anyway. So we snuck out. Spray caught on and insisted he wanted to come along, so we let him."

She stared in front of her, and slowly shook her head. "We didn't even bring a gun..."

Lemon Frisk frowned. "You lost your lover out there? Ah crap... there I am, two nights ago, gushing to you about stuff that happened two hundred years ago, while you're dealing with that? I'm so sorry."

She shook her head resolutely. "Don't be. Talking about things like this helps us get over them, and put them in perspective."

She glanced at Spray Paint, and lowered her head. "Believe me, I should know."

As they walked on, the sun once again peeked out under the cloud cover. Capsworth trotted over to Lemon Frisk to ask him about their situation.

"Do you think it's safe to camp here?" the unicorn asked.

"Well, when Misty and I came through this place, nothing tried to eat us."

Capsworth smiled. "No offense, but even if I were a cannibalistic raider, I probably wouldn't try to eat a ghoul."

"I don't think that would stop a radigator though," Lemon Frisk mused, having seemingly no problem overthinking the subject of getting consumed. "But radroaches tend to stay away from me. Probably the necromantic aura. Heck, it even affects most ponies."

He threw a look at the mare standing beside him. "Not all of them, unfortunately." Misty just grinned in response.

Capsworth nodded. "Looks like we'll just camp in the field then, and hope there aren't any critters around. I'll let the guys guard the outer perimeter. I suppose you have no problem helping them a hoof?"

"Not at all," Lemon Frisk replied. "I don't sleep anyway."

Misty turned towards him "You don't? But you checked into the inn with us."

"I don't like leaving my friends unprotected in an unknown inn in a strange town either, though."

Misty gave him a grateful look. "Thanks."

* * *

After setting up the tents, the group was chatting around their camp fire. The fire kept the radroaches away, and would make it easier for the guards to see any bigger threats coming. They just hoped it wouldn't attract raiders.

Spray Paint sat down next to Misty, facing the camp fire. "Hey, gang," he said.

"You've been talking with Capsworth a lot today," Misty remarked.

Spray Paint smiled. "Yeah. He asked me to reconsider going with you guys after this trip."

Misty's eyes widened. "What?! You're not really considering doing that, are you?!"

"And why not?" he asked. "He really does need the help. I know, I worked in his shop for a day."

He looked at Misty. "Besides... I'd be nothing more than a lovesick fool if I kept following you, at this point. Surely you must realise that."

A sad frown appeared on Misty's face. "But... you're the only friend..."

Realising what she was saying, she looked at Lemon Frisk, and sighed. "You're right, Spray Paint. I'm sorry. I really wish I could be more than a friend to you, but life just doesn't work that way."

"Don't worry, Rusty. I'll manage," Spray Paint said with a grin.

"Don't call me that, Paint Fumes!" she exclaimed in mock-complaint.

"Is that right, Couch Potato?" Spray Paint shot back. Lemon Frisk could see that these sparring matches between them were probably a common occurrence in the Stable.

"Ooh, that was a cheap shot!" Misty replied, before bursting into giggles. It didn't take long before the turquoise pony was laughing too, especially after she started poking him.

"No fair!" Spray Paint said, gasping. "You use that hoof to poke the ghoul!"

"Good! Maybe you'll get squishier then!"

"I don't wanna!"

By this time, he was tickling her back, and the sparring match devolved into two ponies rolling on the ground laughing. After they stopped, they were just lying there, on their backs.

"Thanks," Misty said. "I needed that."

Spray Paint had a bittersweet expression on his face, "I know, Misty. I know." He rolled back onto his belly, and stared into the camp fire. "And that's why I have to go my own way."

Misty nodded. "I understand. I should never have let you come with us."

"True," Spray Paint said. "But if it means you would've gotten killed by that radigator instead, I still think it's worth it."

Misty rolled onto her belly, and rested her head on her forehooves. "Thanks."

Lemon Frisk looked at the two ponies, finally understanding the dynamics between them. "Ahh, to be young, and, um, alive!"

"What was it like, living in Stable One?" Spray Paint asked him. "I'd imagine it getting really boring, after two hundred years."

"It does get boring. There are always ways to fight boredom though. I've heard one of them is pretty much the same in all stables, and even across the wastelands."

"And that is?" Misty asked, knowing the old ghoul wouldn't go on before anyone asked anyway.

"Music," he said. "I don't think any pre-war singer's portfolio can compete with the amount of songs written by Buoyant Waves."

"I don't think DJ P0n3 ever played that," Spray Paint said.

Lemon Frisk smiled. "Not surprising. He never recorded any of it. He just stays alive to sing it. I'm not sure if the good DJ would consider it anyway; it's usually pretty depressing stuff. We got a lot of wartime horrors to work through, and that's just the way he does it."

"Do you know any of them?" Misty asked.

"That depends. Do you want me to sing it?" Lemon Frisk said.


"Then I'm afraid I'll have to disap—"

Lemon Frisk stopped mid-sentence when he saw her face. She wasn't teasing or annoying him; she really just wanted to hear the ghoul's song. He sighed.

"Very well," he said. "I hardly have a good singing voice, but I'll try."

(melody: Rufford Park Poachers)
(Listen to Misty's pipbuck recording of the song)

The colts and fillies all forgot
the games we used to play
All the brave stallions and the mares
died in the olden day

And as we look upon the land
that we once knew to thrive
Equestria, we ask the ground
Oh, are you still alive?

When we first felt the scorching winds
and saw the fires green
and the pink clouds consumed us all
and everything we'd seen

We looked again, and in the end
result of all the strife
We could not help but ask ourselves
Oh, are we still alive?

And as we roam the wasted lands
now covered in the dust
We try to find old values there
of harmony and trust

But as we walk into the towns
that we knew did survive
We see the blood spilled on the ground
Oh, are they still alive?

Footnote: Level Up!
New Perk: Laying Them To Rest: Your karma increases when you properly bury dead bodies, no matter if they are recently deceased, ghouls, or original war victims.