• Published 8th Dec 2012
  • 4,820 Views, 167 Comments

The Zone - Rostok



This is a story of what happens when inhabitants of Equestria are shown a wasteland of decay, depravity, sadness and death. A S.T.A.L.K.E.R crossover. An experienced stalker and wanderer is teleported far, far away into a land of happiness and joy.

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1: Q&A

When Hiker woke, he was bound to a chair in a circular hall, surrounded by some kind of purple force-field. Standing in front of him were at least 20 of the equine mutants, looking angry, to say the least. Their faces ranged from the fear of the yellow one with pink hair, the confusion of the white one with shining purple locks, to pure the anger and hatred the two walking towards him.

The first of them, purple all over, powering the purple shield with her magic, approached him first, the look in her eyes emanating power and anger, yet also disappointment, coming as close as it's magical shield would allow.

Drawing in breath, it raged:

“Who are you, you animal, to kill and wound innocent ponies on a whim? Of all the creatures of the Everfree Forest, you are one of the most despicable. I know you can understand me, Nurse Redheart told me you spoke Equestrian. Do you like killing ponies, since you obviously don't eat us? Applejack, the one you fired your firework-weapon at, is wounded in hospital, and the family of the janitor you killed are distraught! Explain yourself!”

Spitting blood from the split lip where the book had hit him, he around, dazed, trying to take in what this 'pony' had said. It was obvious now though, thinking back over what he had seen, that this was an advanced, sentient civilization, not just beasts like those in the Zone. The similarities were scary to think about. How were they speaking English, or at all for that matter? How come their houses, their hospital, their (occasional) clothes, and even their appearance resembled things back on Earth, as this couldn’t be anywhere on Earth. Looking back up at the fuming unicorn, he replied:

“I'm not from this 'Everfree Forest'. I'm not even from you're world, or whatever this is. I'm a human, not some animal. What are you, anyway? I didn't want to come here.”

“Then why did you kill an innocent pony? That makes you an animal in my book!”

“I... I did it because... “

He realised the truth, that he had no real reason, other than it suited his needs. It wasn't even really necessary. He could have just stayed in his hospital bed, and come to terms with this place quietly and peacefully. What he did was no different to killing an innocent person in cold blood. He mulled it over, silently trying to justify what he did, and failing.

“You understand?”

The purple pony was looking down at him, aware of his inner turmoil.

Hiker nodded.

“That's a start, but I'm going to make sure you talk to the Princess about this. You don't seem at all stable, considering your suicide attempt. However, I want to find a few things out first.

If you say you're not 'from this world', then where are you from? It's too much of a coincidence that you speak Equestrian, and have a fairly normal body shape.”

Her horn lit up further, and a magical cloud floated around his body, probing and passing through him. He shuddered dully at the strange sensation. He truly felt like shit. His whole life was collapsing around him. He barely paid attention to the unicorn, which was going from being angry to puzzled at their impossible similarity.

“Your biology resembles ours almost entirely! Most organs are almost identical, just different sizes, even your brain. How is this even possible? Hmm, your digestive system indicates you eat both meat and plants, is this true?”

“Yeah”

“Would you eat a pony?” She said warily, afraid for his response.

“I wouldn't, no”

She looked visibly happier at that, at least.

“So, this place you come from, tell me about it.”

This would be a tall order. How do you sum up humanity in anything less than an encyclopaedia?

“I am a human, a species evolved from monkeys. Unlike you, in our world, magic is pure fantasy; all of our progress as a species has been through technology. Humans generally live for around 70 years, though we peak between 20 and 30.”

“Interesting, but what about civilization? Do you act like you did here back at home too?” She still looked seriously angry.

“Well, throughout the entire history of world, we are moderately peaceful, civilized creatures, our lives dictated by order and stability, when times are good. Problems come however when different civilizations start to bicker and fight, or crazy, radical people get power, and from there, well, things get nasty...”

He gave a quick summary of the 20th century, stopping the purple pony from interrupting whenever he brought up a more sensitive topic, especially the world wars. As he went on, the sheer amount of bloodshed and technological advance astounded the pony, putting her into almost disbelief at the invention of the computer, and the long, dark time of the USSR. Eventually, he ran out of vague history knowledge to remember from his troubled times in school.

The pony sat there, mouth agape, stunned at human history.

“But, how do you even discover all these things when you're too busy annihilating each other in ever more brutal ways? And some of the things, like those psychopaths Hitler and Stalin, are beyond belief. How is possible for them to kill millions of humans in just a few years? If you told the truth, both have killed more than the total population of Equestria. How do you consider yourself peaceful after things like that? You don't seem like good evidence to the contrary.”

“War is what drives technology. It works as a catalyst, considering many of our advances in medicine came from wars. Anyway, I come from a lawless and deadly place called the Zone, an irradiated area around an old nuclear power station that went through meltdown, spewing its radiation into the area around it. It's full of scientific wonders, horrifically mutated creatures, all sorts of strange phenomena caused by the radiation, and the scum of the human race. No government or army can control what goes in its wastes. It is a place of anarchy and daily death and pain, and all must kill to survive there; no matter how moral you are when you enter, the Zone changes you, it makes you tougher, yet also slowly removes all humanity and sanity from those that reside there. I don't regret killing all the people who have tried to kill me.”

The pony looked disgusted with him, finding the idea of the violence of the Zone abhorrent.

“All I want is to go home. I hate me being here more than you do. I suppose you can do something with your fancy magic about it?"

“No, I can't. Magic can't do everything, only the Princess would be able to send you back, I expect. I'll try to contact her to sort this out, and talk some morality into you, but you're here until she arrives.”

The purple one walked out, accompanied by most of the crowd, all of whom were muttering in hushed whispers, gossiping about the crazy alien in their hall. The only one remaining one was the blue one, with rainbow-coloured hair, trying to look menacing as she guarded him.

“So, pony, are you planning on holding me here indefinitely?”

“Shut up.”

He sighed, this was rapidly turning into worse than captivity by bandits. At least they left you in a cell, not tied down and under constant guard. He sat there dejectedly. What else could he do, except await fate?

______________________________________________________________________________

After what he guessed was a few hours, a tall white pony, with both wings and horn, its fur shining and gleaming, with semi-transparent, multi-coloured floating hair walked in. The air around it radiated light, burning his eyes with its intensity. It was like the sun incarnate. On its head sat a crown. This must be the Princess. She was flanked by both the purple, stern pony and the cowboy-esque one he had shot, now seemingly healed. Both had packs on their backs. This whole situation gnawed at his mind, trying to tell him something.

The Princess spoke, in a voice that filled the room, cementing his attention on the majestic pony ahead of him.

“These two of my ponies are Twilight Sparkle, to whom you spoke earlier, and Applejack, the one you so unkindly shot yesterday. Rather than suffer for your crimes here, I hope you can learn to open your heart to these two. Having only being alerted to this 'dimension-hop' you made, yesterday, I have only now worked out how to send you back.”

He exhaled a sigh of relief. Somehow, the Zone looked inviting from this perspective. The beginnings of a smile broke upon his face.

“However, since you are the first sentient thing to cross into Equestria in this way, Twilight and I agree we cannot pass up on this opportunity to study a culture totally alien to our own. Both Twilight and Applejack will accompany you back to your world, to study it, and teach you the magic of friendship, I hope.”

Hiker looked at her, grinning, partly in shock at her words.

“You can't be serious. That would be a death sentence.”

“I assure you I am, these ponies mean you no harm, and I expect you to help them adjust to being in your world.”

“But...”

Her gaze was entrancing, both pleading and threatening at the same time, mentally forcing submission upon him. He broke under the pressure.

“Okay, I'll try.”

“Thank you, this expedition means lots to me, Twilight and all of Equestria itself. The technology we could acquire and lessons we could learn from your race will be invaluable. Twilight knows how to perform a spell to return both of them to Equestria, and both are fully equipped, and able to defend themselves, I'm sure. My spell will return you to the place where you left your world, so you will at least arrive somewhere safe. They see no reason not to go now, as you apparently wish, so I wish all three of you the best of luck.”

As her horn lit up, he knew instantly that two ponies, wearing only camping gear, and completely unarmed, would live around half an hour in the Zone. Should he really try to look out for them? Even with his protection, both would probably die. He felt cheated, having to care for these naïve ponies. Just something about the Princess' words, and the ponies' very nature made him feel seeped with guilt at the thought of leaving them to die. As the spell engulfed him, the sensation of falling asleep came over him.

Author's Note:

Sorry if this feels like a bit of a linking chapter, since I had to find a way for Hiker + ponies to go back to the good ol' zone to advance the story. Anyway, the next chapter should be much longer, with plenty of scenic shots of one of the more iconic parts of the series...