• Published 23rd Jun 2013
  • 4,399 Views, 203 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - Project HIVE - Cascadejackal



Ponies weren't the only ones to build shelters during the war. These are the lives of those who survived, only to watch the world fall apart.

  • ...
17
 203
 4,399

Quiet


PROJECT HIVE

QUIET

A new day arrived in the Stable, the same as it had for twenty long years before. Lights rose in brightness, from the dim twilight of the resting hours to something warmer, closer to the sun that shone on the world above.

Many of the inhabitants woke with a sense of peace, left over from the joyous celebrations of the night before, and an undercurrent of expectation for what the next few days would bring. For the Regent and Overmare, however, morning brought with it the sharp aroma of coffee and a stack of requests from the varied departments of the Stable.


The Overmare tapped at her terminal, slowly sipping the dark, life-giving liquid filling her mug as letters flickered into being on the screen. She glanced at her counterpart, who was mirroring her actions on her own terminal, with a raised eyebrow. "Tagalong and Ginger Snap are certainly eager to return to the surface. Three messages about it. Each."

"Indeed." The Regent replied quietly, taking a sip of her own coffee to clear the early-morning haze from her mind. "They aren't the only ones. Maintanence wants to start inspecting the town and drawing up plans to rebuild and Science is eager to get samples from the surrounding area."

"What does Security say about the situation? They're the only ones who have been up there, but their reports last night were somewhat short, and not particuarly clear on the town's viability." The Overmare watched her companion over the edge of her mug, and recieved a blink as the changeling touched the hivemind, reaching out to her kin.

"Most of the surface team are still resting; it seems yesterday was quite tiring for them." The Regent paused for a moment. "Sandy. The changelings who are awake say the town is... sandy."

"Sandy?" The Overmare gave her counterpart a flat look, not quite sure what to make of the report.

"Sandy." The Regent nodded, before turning her attention back to her terminal. "I'll have Damsel and Ironside give us their reports personally. Between them, perhaps we can do a little better than... sandy."


Deep within a warm, cozy nest of Stable-issue blankets, Holly groaned as the needs of her body forced her awake. One wing struggled free of the confining blankets, wiggling in the air to see if the outside of her nest was a bearable temperature, and it was slowly followed by a questing hoof.

Her hoof met the ground much quicker than she'd expected and, after a moment of probing the foreign surface, not quite as cold or hard as the usual Stable floors, she shoved the blankets enough to the side to let her see, after much blinking, just where she'd woken up.


The walls weren't quite flat, arching a little as they rose to meet the roof, giving the impression of a vaulted ceiling to the not-quite-square room. The floor was smooth, not feeling like tiles or concrete, but not slick either. The floor, walls and ceiling were covered in, or made from, a smooth, dark, mottled green substance. A couple of openings could be seen, large enough for a pony to walk through, with curtains obscuring whatever was beyond.

Here and there, evidence that she was still in the Stable stuck out. The Stable-issue bedding, for one, or the bits of furniture. A desk with a terminal, the screen dark and blank, sat against one wall. Against another, a generic dresser, plain blue-grey and boring, with no clue to its contents. A single light was set into the ceiling, but was turned mercifully low, casting a wan glow over everything.

It took a moment, as her bleary brain put the events of the previous night together with the room she was in, but realisation dawned. She was in Lorikeet's quarters. More importantly, she was in Lorikeet's bed, and in dire need of relief.


Holly yawned and shoved the rest of the blankets off before slipping from the low bed and into the surprisingly comfortable open air. Stretching brought a sharp gasp as the flesh around her still-healing injury moved, but she did her best to ignore the pain and stagger, still not fully awake, to the curtained doorway she hoped led to the bathroom.

A few minutes later, she emerged with relief evident on her face. The bathroom, at least, had been familiar, constructed the same way as her own and most of the other ones in the Stable. Unlike the bedroom she found herself back in.

Yawning again, the young pegasus mare gave the room a closer look, walking slowly around it. It struck her that she'd never actually been in Lorikeet's quarters before, and she found herself overcome with curiosity, wondering what secrets she could dig up about her long-time friend and occasional confidant. But first...

"Lory, you here? Hello?" A slight pause, as she waited for an answer. When none came, she grinned, looking for all the world like a cat who'd found an unattended bowl of cream.


The first thing to fall victim to her curiosity was the dresser, the drawers opened one-by-one and shoved closed with a snort as they revealed nothing but neatly pressed Stable jumpsuits. "Boring!" Grumbling, Holly glanced at the bed, but discarded the idea. Most colts and fillies hid things under their beds, but Lorikeet's was a low platform, barely two hooves thick, made out of... whatever changelings made stuff out of. Dirt and resin, she supposed. At any rate, it wasn't just flush to the ground, it was attached to it, leaving no room for hiding contraband.

The mattress looked to be Stable standard, though, and not attached to the bed itself, but checking under it would've meant dealing with the tangle of blankets she'd abandoned, and the thought of tidying up made her muzzle scrunch. Instead, she turned her attention to the last remaining bit of furniture in the room: the desk and terminal.

One hoof booped the terminal's 'On' switch before moving to the neatly stacked books beside it, the screen flickering to life and starting up as the mare rummaged. "Huh." Holly lifted one of the books up to see it better, then snorted. "Stable Regulations. Lory, you are seriously the most boring flutterpony I know."

Unimpressed, she let the dog-eared book slip from her hoof and glanced at the one it had been sitting on. "Flitter, by..." She took the book up and turned it over a couple of times; it looked less worn and dog-eared than the first book, and had the stamp of the Stable library on the spine, right above the author's name. "By somepony whose name I can't pronounce. Wierd. Wonder what it's about."


Holly flipped it open to a random page and started to read, but a beep from the terminal caught her attention and the book was unceremoniously dumped back onto the desk. "Ooh, a message! I really shouldn't, but..." she drummed her hooves on the desk for the entire second it took to make up her mind. "but I really should." A quick tap of the keys, and she found herself looking at the waiting message with an eager grin... which slowly faded as she read.

"Holly,

Sorry I didn't wake you before going on-duty; I let Medical know where you were and they suggested I let you rest.

Good news: you'll be officially discharged today, and able to return to duty soon."

"Bleagh." Holly's muzzle scrunched up. It wasn't that she didn't like her job, it's just that she didn't have the same level of dedication her friend did.

"If you're reading this, you must be searching my quarters. I know what you're like. Please don't break anything."

Indignant, Holly puffed herself up, fluttering her wings. How could he say that? She hadn't broken anything in months!

"There is food in the icebox, in case you don't feel up to going to the cafeteria. Medical is expecting you for your final check-up before discharge; please clean up any mess you make before leaving and make the bed."


With a snort, Holly switched off the terminal and looked at the tangled mess she'd left on the bed. "Yeah... no."

Sticking her nose in the air, she trotted out of the room and into the living area. It was similar to the bedroom; big enough for one or two ponies (or changelings) to move around without getting in each other's way too much, and the walls, roof and floor were all made from resin as well. The biggest difference was that the room looked like it was meant to be lived in, instead of just slept and worked in.

Another low platform took up most of the space at one end, this one more of a curved bench than anything else, meant to seat two or three ponies or changelings in relative comfort. A pillow and some neatly folded blankets showed that Lorikeet had spent the night there. In front of it was a fairly standard coffee table, the sort found in almost all Stable quarters. Off to one side was a low counter, also made from Stable-standard materials, with a softly humming metal box beside it.


Holly made a beeline straight for the box, lifting the lid with a flick of her wing and shivering as the cold air inside washed over her face. "Brr." Quickly, she grabbed an apple in her teeth and batted the lid closed before jumping onto the bench and making herself at home. The pillow and blankets were quickly turned into a miniature nest for the pegasus, who rolled onto her back and scratched at her bandage covered side while munching her apple and letting her eyes roam around the room.

In her opinion, even though it was Lorikeet's living area, it was still pretty boring.

A couple of tin plates and glasses sat on the counter, leftover from the fruit salad Lory had put together for their meal the previous night. The coffee table had one of the old romance books that was passed around by the younger changeling mares and stallions sitting on it. For a moment, Holly thought about trying it herself, try to see what fascinated changelings so much they'd pass it around like... well, like a really popular book. She thought better of it, though, when she noticed a small indent in the wall, beside the bedroom door.

Throwing the core of her apple onto the counter for Lory to clean up later, she rolled back onto her hooves with only a small grunt of discomfort and moved to investigate the oddity. It turned out to be a sort of shelf, cast into the resin of the wall, but the contents baffled her. There was a small chunk of resin, smooth and oval shaped, glowing with a soft green light that made the larger object on the shelf seem more than a little creepy.

Behind the glowing piece of resin, a small statue stood. At first she thought it was a pony, but a closer look revealed it was a statue of a changeling. A very tall and slender changeling, but not rendered well enough to be identifiable, more a very vague and general representation. There were no real details, no eyes or mouth. The insect-like wings and holed limbs were a dead giveaway, though, as was the crooked horn.

"What are you?" Holly muttered as she peered at the thing. "I know this, they taught us about it in school. You're... you're... you're staring at me." She fluffed herself up, suddenly feeling like the eyeless idol was looking straight at her. "Stop it. I know exactly what you are, you're... a Queen! Hah, that's it! You're a Changeling Queen!" She raised to her hoof to point at the statue accusingly, having worked out what it represented. "And that means this-" she pointed at the glowing resin "-is a love crystal! So ,this whole thing is Lory's shrine to the Queen!.. I think. No, that's gotta be it." She raised her hoof into the air, striking a victorious pose, then realised what she'd been messing with. "Ooh..." Her ears drooped as she gave the statue a sheepish look. It seemed to be staring at her, passing judgement, gazing into her very soul with its blank, featureless face. "Um, sorry, I guess? I know changelings are kinda serious about this sort of thing, so, um, please don't get offended? If you're really listening, I mean." She bowed her head. "Please keep looking after Lory, and aunt Damsel, and all the other changelings. That's... I mean... um... thanks. And sorry! For, y'know, staring like that. Okay, um... gottagobye!"


Utterly creeped out, Holly dashed from the living area, almost getting tangled in the curtain as she fled from Lorikeet's quarters. Once out, though, she slumped against the wall and caught her breath. It took a few minutes, and she had to wave off a couple of changelings who stopped to check on her as they passed, but she calmed down enough to take in her surroundings.

She was in a straight hall, the walls, floor and ceiling all made from resin, just like Lory's quarters. Stable lights were set into the ceiling, while here and there were pipes or panels made from Stable parts. A number of curtain-covered openings led from the hall, a few with mats in front of them for hoof-wiping. She sighed, realising that she was in the changeling-built dorms, and that meant a whole extra staircase to get back to Medical.

With a glance at her Pipbuck to check the time, Holly set off. Partway down the hall, though, her skin started crawling and she sped up, desperately wishing she hadn't annoyed her friend's shrine. The whole thing gave her the heebies.


Ironside yawned, the internal rhythm his body had adopted after so long in Security forcing him to wake up at his usual time... despite not needing to be on duty for several more hours. He resolved to make the best of it and rest, since every part of his body still ached from the previous day.

Particuarly his jaw, for some reason. Whatever his head was laying on, it wasn't his pillow... and it was... chirping?

He cracked one bleary eye open and tilted his head to see what he'd fallen asleep on. It was black. That was all he could see until he blinked to clear his eyes, then he frowned as his situation became clear.


Damsel's back was pressed against his side, her head under his, still sound asleep. Each breath was accompanied by trilling or chirping, like she was snoring, or talking in her sleep. Her wings twitched from time to time, trapped between their bodies, and her injured foreleg was tucked tight against her chest in its resin cast.

There was also a warm weight on his back, and if he moved his head just a little... he could see Merry May, sprawled out over both him and Damsel, and staring at him intently. He blinked. "Morning."

Merry smiled and dipped her head, sharing a kiss with her husband, her expression softening. "Morning, honey. Comfy?"

Ironside nodded. "Yeah. What are you doing, though?"

Merry adopted an innocent look. "Oh, nothing. Just keeping my big, strong, tired stallion warm."

Ironside's eyebrow rose. "And Damsel?" The mare looked away without answering, causing Ironside to sigh. "Merry, please tell me this isn't what I think it is. Merry?" She didn't answer. Ironside frowned. "Merry, we talked about this. Damsel is my friend. I know she's hurt, and I know you don't like having an empty nest, but-"

Bristling, Merry whapped her husband with her wing. "It's not just that. I know she's your friend; she's my friend too! That's why I want this! Changeling or pony, she goes home to empty quarters every night. I want her in our herd, Ironside. I don't want her to be alone."

"Merry-" Ironside began, but he was cut off with another wing whap. Irritated, he tried again. "Merry, would you-" Another feathered slap. This time, he grabbed the offending wing in his magic. Merry tried to pull free, scowling. "Look, I'll... I'll talk to her about it. Okay?"

Merry fluffed herself up as he released her wing. "Fine. But if you don't, I will."

"When she's healed, though," Ironside warned. Merry just grunted and moved so she was covering both unicorn and changeling as much as she could, draping her wings over Damsel like a mother bird protecting her chick.

Ironside sighed and rested his head on his sleeping friend's neck, listening to her chirp and trill softly. He wasn't looking forward to the conversation. It was, in his opinion, wholly unnecesary and bound to be extremely awkward.

Damn it, Merry, he thought. You haven't been this bad since Holly moved out.

He decided he'd put it off for as long as he could... or as long as his mothering, nesting pegasus wife would let him.

Author's Note:

Would've had this done on monday, but that was my birthday... and I woke up with the flu. :fluttercry:
I hate getting the flu. It stops me from doing anything, and slowed work on this chapter right down. Tried something new with the header, though, and I think it looks pretty good.

Okay, so, relationship and character growth this chapter! :twilightsmile: What did you think?

Authors and comments are like changelings and love. Feed me! :rainbowlaugh: