• Published 27th Feb 2013
  • 7,282 Views, 765 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - The Hooves of Fate - Sprocket Doggingsworth



A young filly in present day Ponyville is cursed with nightmares of post-apocalyptic Equestria. She finds herself influencing the course of future history in ways that she cannot understand.

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What Scares Me Most

CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE - WHAT SCARES ME MOST
"The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit." - Douglas Adams



"Oh, no!" Said Pinkie Pie. "That's terrible! I never meant for my ear flappy, eye rolly, tail-straighty gift to remind you of something like that." She hung her head as her mane deflated. But before any of us could say a word, she shrieked. Leapt up in the air. "Oh my gosh! I hope Blueberry Milkshake is okay."

"We all do," I said.

"But there's hope now." Cliff exclaimed. "Think, Pinkie! Are you sure you don't remember a filly named Blueberry Milkshake?"

"I'm sure," She replied broken-heartedly. "I know everypony in town."

"Maybe the information is hidden." Cliff added with just a hint of optimism. "Think about any dreams you might have had."

"Weelll," Pinkie Pie scratched her head. "There was this one dream. It was billions, and billions, and billions of moons in the future, and tapioca pudding ruled Equestria. But the Butterscotch Princess didn't like the Tapioca Queen. And a war seemed imminent. So I ate it all. And the problem was solved. And it was goooood." Pinkie Pie licked her lips and stared off into space

"Well, that's...a start," said Roseluck.

"Outta the way, let me try." Cranky said as he barged up to Pinkie Pie. "Hey kid, what's Blueberry Milkshake's birthday?"

"Um..."

"Her favorite ice cream topping?"

"Um..."

"What types of cupcake does she like?"

"Um..."

"She doesn't remember." Cranky said definitively.

"I'm so sorry," Pinkie replied. "I wish I could do more to help. If this is some kind of magic problem, you're better off talking to Twilight." Pinkie Pie slouched. Just for a moment before gasping yet again - leaping four feet in the air, and lunging at me with a smile. "Hey!" She said. "You'd be better off talking to Twilight! If anypony can answer a magic question it's her."

"I'm not sure it's that kind of magi--;" I replied.

But it was too late. Pinkie Pie had already slammed my coat on me, picked me up, dropped me into my boots, and dragged me out the door.

"Thank Matilda for the cake!" I cried out from halfway down the road.

Cliff wrestled with his coat, and hat, and scarf and boots, even as he attempted to run after us.

"Wait!" My sister called after me.

But there was no stopping Pinkie. She pogo-bounced down the road faster than I had ever run before. Faster even than a carriage, or the Friendship Express.

I had no choice. I'd have to touch base with Roseluck later. "I'll be back by dark!" I shouted. And hoped that she wouldn't be too mad at me.

But looking up at the sky, I remembered that the day was halfway over, and back by dark was a tough promise to fulfill. Because fucking school had eaten half the day. And I still had to talk to Twilight Sparkle, and Bananas Foster. And Zecora! And…

"Princess Luna!" Cliff Diver shouted.

"Where?!" Pinkie Pie skidded to a halt.

Bam! I ran right into her, and we both went tumbling down.

"No," Cliff said, finally catching up to us - finally tugging loose the scarf that had gotten caught in his sleeve when he'd suited up in a hurry. "She's not here. But maybe we can send for her!"

"I'm pretty sure you can't just summon a Princess and expect her to come running." Pinkie Pie rose to her hooves, suddenly the voice of reason.

"Well, obviously," Cliff babbled. "I mean, like, but Princess Luna would wanna know about this. And Spike can - I dunno - maybe send a letter or something."

"I'm preeeetty sure it doesn't work that way." Pinkie said. "But you can ask Spike yourself. The library is right there."

A lock of Pinkie's hair plunged itself into the rest of her cotton candy mane, and produced the to-go cup with the milkshake in it. "Here," she said. "Drink it before it melts."

"Um...thanks?" I took a shy little slip of the shake while Pinkie Pie's mane produced a whole other banana split sundae which she shoved into her mouth. Whole.

"Helloo?" Knock knock knock, knock-knock. Cliff Diver ran ahead and pounded eagerly on the door of the Golden Oak Library. Knock knock knock, knock-knock! "Anypony there?"

"No, no, no-no no." Pinkie Pie said. "You can't just run up to Twilight's library, and bang on it like that."

Cliff shrunk back, coyed.

"You've got to run up to Twilight's library, and bang on it like this!" Pinkie hurled herself at the door. Flailing and pounding. "Twilight!" She hollered. "Twilight! You've gotta let me in!" Pound! Thud! Thud!

The door swung open, and Pinkie Pie fell forward. Out stepped Spike, who leaned over her as she lay prostrate on the ground. "What is it, Pinkie?" He said. "What's wrong?"

"Oh, hi, Spike." Pinkie laughed. "How are you doing?"

"Um...Okay, I guess. What's...going on?"

"My friends here have a super incredibly important question to ask Twilight." Pinkie sprung up to her hooves. "Is she around?"

"Yeah," Spike answered. "But she's kind of busy ri--;"

"Great!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed. She turned to Cliff and me. "Come on."

Mortified by the scene she'd just made, I flashed Spike a little smile. I barely knew the guy (or the town librarian he lived with), but he seemed unfazed by Pinkie Pie. If anything, it was Cliff Diver who got the little dragon's scales all in a bunch.

'Cause as Spike stepped aside to usher us into the library, he looked Cliff directly in the eyeballs. "Before you ask," Spike sighed. "No, the princesses aren't space aliens, and no, I'm not sending Celestia your fan mail."

"What about Luna?" Cliff chuckled anxiously.

Spike grunted in reply.

We made our way through this weird, winding hallway of a foyer which emptied out into the main library. There were books everywhere - and I don't mean on the shelves. Twilight Sparkle was sitting in the middle of the room - literally surrounded on all sides by piles and piles and piles of books. The ones that weren't sitting in heaping mounds on the ground were floating here and there, and left and right - around, and around, and around, and around, and around.

Seeing the chaos. The books all over the place. The empty shelves. The piles of disheveled papers. My brain's inner eye flashed suddenly alive. I remembered the horrors I saw the last time I'd tried to enter the library. The scorch marks on the walls. The battle damage. The blood.

And the one solitary tome that had remained on the podium. A green book. Open. Unscathed. Those pages had called to me. In one of my first visions ever.

It'd happened the day I had met Cliff. And there I was, a million, billion trillion adventures later, and I still had yet to find that stupid book. Or even gotten a second clue as to what it might mean.

"Oh, hi, Pinkie." Twilight Sparkle said.

I shrieked. Stumbled. Startled back to reality by the librarian's voice

"...And...um...friends." Twilight continued, looking confusedly at Cliff Diver and I. "As you can see, I'm very busy. I've got all of these books to organize."

"...Again." Spike added, a touch of bitterness in his voice.

"Yeah, that's great, Twilight." Pinkie Pie said hurriedly. "Listen. These kids have a super incredibly important question. Like reeeeeeeeeeally important."

"Oh, well, I'm always glad to help inquisitive young minds. What is it?"

Pinkie Pie leaned in to whisper. "Where is Blueberry Milkshake?"

"Um...Isn't that one right there?" Twilight pointed at the to-go cup I was slurping from. And my obviously blue-stained lip.

"No. Not the delectable ice cream drink." Pinkie explained. "The pony."

"Blueberry's my friend." I said.

"Well, I don't know anypony by that name." Twilight replied.

"Of course you don't," said Cliff. "She's been erased from your memory, and Rose Petal's greeting card too! Which is why we need your help!"

"Come again?" All of Twilight's levitating books suddenly knocked into one another and came crashing to the ground.

"It's true!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed. "Rose Petal has been journeying through lots and lots and lots of duckies, and when she got back, there was that awful blizzard, remember? When I first saw it, I said 'Ahh!'...'Cause it wasn't supposed to happen!

"Anyway, now Rose Petal's friend Blueberry Milkshake is gone, but nopony remembers that she exists except for Rose Petal - not even Miss Cheerilee. Only really powerful magic could make that happen, so I brought them here. 'Cause nopony knows more about really powerful magic than you!"

I buried my face in my hooves.

"A missing child is very serious," Twilight said. "Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure." Pinkie Pie squeaked. "Would I be here if I wasn't?"

"Ehhh…."

"Listen," I butted in. "I know it sounds crazy, but Blueberry Milkshake has been my friend for years. She went to my school. She signed my get well card when I was in the hospital. And now nopony remembers her at all. Miss Cheerilee doesn't know her. Pinkie Pie has no idea what her favorite cupcake flavor is. And my get well card is...well...blank where her message used to be. Is there any magic you know of that can do that?"

"I'm sorry," Twilight said. "That's simply impossible. To pull something like that off, you'd need some kind of...destiny spell. I think your imagination's running away with you, and taking Pinkie Pie's with it."

"No," I protested.

"Even Starswirl the Bearded couldn't do what you're talking about."

"But what if he could?" Cliff chimed in.

"I think I'd know about it." Twilight boasted. "I happen to have read every--;"

"What if he'd made the spell, and never cast it, and Blueberry Milkshake only disappeared now because, like, somecreature else got a hold of his beard magic?...Like nightmare demons! Who conquered the old wizard's secret...um, you know...beard castle!"

"Enough!" Twilight shouted. The sound of her voice echoed off the wooden walls until the air was still. "A missing child is a serious thing. You two shouldn't go around stirring up panic over it." Twilight turned to Pinkie Pie. "And you should know better than to get sucked into this nonsense. This is crazy, even for you."

"Heeey!" Pinkie Pie protested.

As they started to argue, I turned my tail and walked away.

"Where are you going?" Cliff Diver said.

"We don't have time for this. I've gotta talk to Bananas Foster - find out if she ever heard of this kinda pony erasure. And Zecora! She might know something too."

I stomped my way to the door. Feeling totally justified in storming out. After all, a librarian is supposed to be the ultimate pony you can turn to for finding out, like, book stuff, and knowledgosity. Just like a teacher is supposed to be that ultimate pony you can turn to if something is bothering you. 'Cause teachers are, like, the biggest, most important adult authority outside your family.

And even though I knew that what I was saying was crazy. Even though I had never expected to be believed at all, being rejected by both my teacher, and the town librarian in the span of just a few hours was actually kinda terrifying. It made me feel vulnerable. Exposed. Even more desperate than before. But most of all, it pissed me off.

So I flung the door open, ready to rage my way out of the library in Equestria's biggest huff. But I couldn't bring myself to set hoof on the other side.

"Pinkie Pie?" I hollered.

"Yeah?" Her neck stretched like a rubber band toward me, even as her body remained poised in full-argument-position facing Twilight.

"Thanks for your help," I said, slurping the milkshake she'd gotten me. Somehow, it made me feel like I was honoring Blueberry Milkshake. The pony. "I really do appreciate it."

"It was worth a try," she said with a sigh. "Sorry I wasn't able to help you more. I'll see you later, okay?"

"Okay."

Pinkie flashed us kids a smile before whipping back around, retracting her outstretched neck, and going back to shrieking at Twilight. "What do you mean, irrational?"

Cliff cringed so hard that he hugged up against me. Meanwhile, my stomach turned itself upside down in fear, and my Rose Voices formed a chorus and started chanting, What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?! Louder, and louder, and louder, and louder, and louder.

"Try not to take it personally," Spike appeared in the doorway suddenly, and said, "This kind of thing happens every now and again."

"Are you sure those two are gonna be okay?" Cliff Diver asked.

"...It's not scientifically possible!" Twilight Sparkle shouted at Pinkie Pie.

"Trust me," Spike used his best bragging voice in an attempt to sound reassuring. "In about twenty minutes or so, this will all be over and those two will be hugging up a storm."

"If you say so." I replied.

"Hey," he put a claw on my shoulder. Gently. "Whatever's happening, I'm sorry for what you're going through. And sorry we couldn't be more help to you."

"Thanks." It occured to me then how strange it was. To be given affection by a claw. It wasn't like a hoof, or even a griffon's talon. Dragons were deadly creatures - monstrous threats to all ponykind. But there he was. The most reasonable creature in the room.

"Does that mean you actually believe us?" Cliff asked, hope in his voice.

"Well, not exactly." Spike looked away awkwardly, and ran a claw over his head-scales as though they were a mane. "If Twilight says something's magically impossible, it probably is. But for what it's worth, I hope your friend turns up soon."

"Thanks." I hung my head and replied.

"In the meantime, you should take this!" Spike held up a sparkley blue book with diagrams of the stars all over it.

I lowered the milkshake, and took the beat up old tome in my teeth. "Starswirl the Bearded: His Life and Writings." I squinted and read the title out loud.

"It's an authoritative edition." Spike did his best Twilight Sparkle impression.

It was so spot on that Cliff snorted with laughter.

"Thank you." I said, lowering the book into Cliff's saddle bag. (Pinkie had left mine at home). "That's really kind of you."

Spike blushed. "It's nothing. We've got three copies. And Twilight would love to know that young minds are taking an interest."

"But you're the one lending it to us." Cliff said.

"I just hope you find what you're looking for." Spike answered somberly.

* * *

We wasted no time in getting to Bananas Foster's. It was the same walk we'd made every single day, but this time, Cliff and I were spurred by a silent urgency. The shadows cast by the trees were already leaning Eastward, and Cliff and I were sooo incredibly on the same page, that neither of us had anything in particular to say.

Bushes and cottages whizzed by. Then the Town Square. We dodged passers by, idle trotters, cart tuggers, and those who simply stood around socializing, enjoying the mild weather. We even had to weave between our own classmates.

"Oh, look," hollered Diamond Tiara. "It's Rose Petal - the filly who got her cutie mark in falling apart!" She erupted into laughter at the expense of the scattered petals that made up my cutie mark. And Silver Spoon joined in too.

But I didn't care.

Cliff Diver looked in my direction. Eager for a cue to see if he should care. But I just kept galloping. So he nodded at me as though it were a verbal instruction to ignore them, and then did the same.

But the mean girls kept calling out to us. "...No wonder she's still hanging out with a blank flank!" Silver Spoon jeered, pointing at Cliff Diver's bare rump sticking out the back of his winter coat.

And I looked to him. To see if he cared. To see if I should care. But he just kept on galloping. Like me. So I ignored Silver Spoon, and ran like my tail was on fire. We both had more important things to worry about.

* * *

It wasn't long before we made it to the South Road, and headed for Ponyville General Hospital. In no time at all, Cliff Diver and I were inside. Past the receptionist. Past the nurses' kiosk. Through the hallway into Foster's wing, and boom! Tumble! Crash!

Right there in Bananas Foster's room.

"Blueberry Milkshake is missing!" The two of us exclaimed in unison.

"WaAaAhHh!" Foster tumbled out of her bed and thwack! Hit the floor.

"Sorry." Cliff winced.

Bananas scrambled to her hooves. Looked the two of us over. "Um...I think it's leaking out of your pocket." She gestured at me with her nose.

And lo and behold. My milkshake had gotten blue all the fuck over my pink winter coat. "Oh, no." I said. Rushed to the hoof sanitizer pump by the door. Frantically flooded my pocket with goo. "Roseluck is gonna kill me."

"One second," I turned in Foster's direction and held up a hoof.

Then I disappeared out the door. Ran down the hallway straight for the nurse's kiosk.

"Do you have any paper towels?" I begged. Scrubbing my jacket against itself.

Nurse Redheart looked up from the desk. Herself again. Not zombified. For a moment, I considered asking her about Blueberry Milkshake. But Blue had never actually come to visit me in the hospital. So why would Redheart know her?

It hurt a little. Realizing that. 'Cause Blueberry and I had been best friends before this Wasteland shadowmajig stuff started happening. And the second that the going got weird, Blueberry Milkshake faded away like spilled salt on a rainy day. Even way back when I stood up to Diamond Tiara for picking on Cliff, Blueberry had hidden in the crowd, and come out to encourage me only after everypony else had.

There's no way she won against the shadows. I thought, as anger mixed strangely with sympathy in my heart. There's just no way.




"Right here." Nurse Redheart said, seemingly out of nowhere.

"Who? What?" I said. Spinning 'round and around in confusion.

Redheart slid a bundle of neatly folded paper towels over the kiosk desk.

"Oh." I laughed. "Right."

I got to scrubbing the milkshake stains.

"What happened?" The nurse asked.

"I got blue on me." I answered idly as I scrubbed my jacket with all of my might.

"Well, I'm glad you were able to make it here." She said. "Bananas Foster has been looking forward to seeing you all day. And I know how hectic it can be - readjusting to school after Hearth's Warming break."

"Thanks," I said, finally looking Redheart in the eye.

There was compassion in it. Warmth. But my brain bucked randomly at the inside of my skull just then. A reminder.

"Ooh!" I said. "Bananas Foster's waiting for me!"

"Go on, then." Redheart replied. "Run along."

* * *

I sprang into Bananas Foster's room.

"This shouldn't be possible." She said immediately.

Judging by the somber look in her eyes, Bananas had been filled in on all the details.

"I know," I said. "But it happened. And this isn't the first time either."

"Yeah," Foster's voice quivered. "I heard about Candy Shine too."

A hush fell over the room. A moment of silence for the lost.

For me, it was personal. 'Cause Blueberry Milkshake was my friend. And the shadows had come to Ponyville specifically because of me. Had hunted those I cared about to try to get to me.

But I could tell that it was just as hard on Foster, who had survived the shadows. And Cliff too! What he saw on our journeys haunted him.

It didn't matter that Blueberry Milkshake was a filly only I could remember. Or that none of us had ever even met Candy Shine. It still felt like we were losing sisters. We held a sort of reverence for them. Like the soldiers in the trenches of No Mare's Land had for their fallen comrades.

This shadow business - it was our war. And our hearts were scarred by every casualty of it.




Cliff Diver, Foster, and I meditated on that for a while. Which for me, meant working up the nerve to ask difficult questions. The kinda stuff nopony should ever have to talk about. But we couldn't afford to ignore.

"Bananas," I spoke up at long last.

"Yeah?" She croaked like her mouth was full of sand.

"I, um...know this is hard, but did you, ever...um...y'know, see anything...anywhere...that could begin to explain this? In the desert? In the, um, well...like the…" I trailed off in shame for even having to ask. 'Cause I knew what it was like to have bad memories set off a chain reaction of uncontrollable pictures and feelings inside your mindskull.

"When I was a prisoner in the castle?" Foster finished my thought for me.

"Yeah." I whispered grimly.

"No." She answered.

"What about beard magic?" Cliff added.

Foster turned, and looked at him like he was crazy.

"There was a powerful wizard who used to run that castle with Princess Luna a long long time ago. Before it was evil." I clarified. "Twilight Sparkle seemed to think that even he wouldn't be able to pull something like this off. But maybe the shadows found something. Maybe they, I dunno...modified it or whatever."

"Ooookay…" Bananas Foster crunched up her eyebrows trying to make sense of what I was saying.

"I'm an earth pony." I continued. "I don't know how beard magic works either. But maybe this wizard guy left some kinda relic, or notes or...What did Twilight call it?" I turned to Cliff and asked.

"Destiny spell." He replied.

"Yeah, one of those." I added.

"You wanna know if I saw any destiny spells lying around. While I was being tortured."

"Gee," Cliff said. "When you put it like that, it sounds kinda stupid."

"Yeah," Foster said. "It does."

"Okay," I sighed. "So what do we do?"

Again, that same grim hush fell over the room. And every passing moment of it drove home how clueless we all really were.

...

"I say we friendship them to death." Foster answered, out-of-the-blue-ishly.

It was the same plan she had pushed for back when she first found out that I had managed to defeat the shadow-majigs.

Hell, it was the whole damn reason she'd revealed her changelingness to me in the first place.

Bananas Foster hadn't busted out of the castle on her own. She'd been released - sent out into Equestria on a mission to find The Inquisitor - some centuries-old torturer who had escaped the shadow castle and gone rogue.

Bananas' changeling brain, with its weird buggish hive-mind powers, had shut itself off from the rest of her - making her impossible for the shadows to find.

But escape wasn't enough. No. Foster had vowed to fuck up the mission altogether, and kill The Inquisitor rather than deliver them to the shadows. Though she had no idea how she was gonna do it.

Then I came along. My stories had given her hope. Inspiration. She'd gotten totally stoked by the notion that, if we all banded together, we could...you know, friendship The Inquisitor to death.

And that was still her plan now.




Mulling it over - tossing it here and there, and letting it all rattle around inside my mind - I realized something. "Hey!" I spoke suddenly aloud. "What about The Inquisitor?"

"What?" Foster recoiled, taken aback by the mere mention of the title.

"The Inquisitor!" I exclaimed. "What if they're the one who did this? What if it's not beard magic at all? What if it's all just this one evil jerk? And ooh!" I jumped up in the air as more, and more, and more ideas flooded my brain. "Or maybe it's both, and like, The Inquisitor is the one who stole the beard magic in the first place, and started erasing ponies?"

"No one's that powerful on their own." Cliff replied. "That's one thing I believe Twilight Sparkle about."

"But inquisitors aren't normal ponies." Foster interjected, eyes wide with terror. "They're centuries old. - and they've been manipulating the nightmares of foals - mastering that primal magic - wielding it against them - for longer than any unicorn wizard could possibly spend studying spellbooks.

"The inside of a foal's mind is a wild and powerful place. I'm honestly not sure what the limits of um...beard magic are, but if inquisitors - (or shadows of any kind, really) - somehow managed to get a hold of an ancient relic or spell, who knows what they could do with it if they combined its power with their own?!"

"Fuck," I said aloud.

And the room fell silent.

I'd never uttered a futurism before - there in Ponyville. I'd thought it, sure. Catalogued it in my brain list of things that would eventually become this very book. But never spoken aloud.

Cliff and Foster had no way of knowing the word. What it meant, or where it come from.

But it had the energy of one of those collapsing stars I read about in one of Cliff Diver's books. Mysterious and powerful. Something that wasn't supposed to exist - like its very utterance violated the laws of physics.

"Okay." Cliff said at loooooonnnnnggg last. Choosing to ignore my futurism. Oddly becoming the voice of reason. "But we don't know anything yet. Not for sure."

"We know that shadow magic has changed." Foster whispered. Almost like she was afraid of being heard. Even though we had the whole damn room to ourselves. "We know that in that desert limbo, their chasm of shadow power - or whatever you wanna call it - has physically expanded...after centuries of staying the same. We know that one of their oldest inquisitors has escaped. And that the shadows are actually afraid of what this pony might do if left unchecked in the outside world.

"And we know that something has gained the power to erase a creature - to warp the fabric of our world until it's as though that creature had never existed at all!

"If there's even a chance that that magic is being wielded by The Inquisitor outside of the castle - then. We. Have. No. Choice. But. To. Kill. The. Monster - even if only to keep the shadows from getting their claws on that power."

"Yeah" Cliff retorted. "But like you said, the whole chasm in the desert is expanding. All of the shadows are gaining power. The Inquisitor doesn't matter if they've discovered beard magic on their own."

"Guys, we don't know what any of this means," I interrupted.

"Tell that to him," Bananas snapped at the same exact time that Cliff Diver pointed a hoof at Foster and exclaimed, "Tell that to her!"

They looked at one another. Bashfully. Realizing the absurdity of picking any side at all without more information. Then they both turned to me. In unison. As if I could somehow conjure that information out of thin fucking air. "So what do we do?" They asked me.

And I didn't know. 'Cause maybe Bananas Foster was right. Maybe it didn't matter how the shadows were doing what they were doing. Maybe Foster and me were meant to come together and stop them. Just Like I was meant to save Strawberry Lemonade.

There were no voices this time. Or brain hornets. But maybe all it took was the three of us finding The Inquisitor, and friendshipping the fucking shadows to death.

Or maybe it was more complicated than that. 'Cause what if Cliff Diver was right? About some weird mojo or relic that the shadows had unlocked after inhabiting the castle for a thousand years.

We couldn't do a thing to stop them until we had some idea of what that relic was, where to find it, and how to undo it.

Who the fuck knew what the shadows could actually do?

The only thing that I could decipher for certain was the plain and simple fact that Blueberry Milkshake was missing, and that it had happened because of me.

I didn't have any answers. At all! But Cliff and Foster both looked to me for direction. Both needed me to come up with some sorta fucking plan.

While all I really wanted was for somepony to come along and tell me what to do. A grown up. A Rose Voice. Messages from beyond. Anything. Anyone.

I could look for Princess Luna like Cliff had suggested. But I knew of no way to find her. Or summon her. Besides, she'd straight up told me before that her intercession was a one time thing.

Zecora was my next stop, and my last hope too.

Foster and Cliff stared at me with hopeful eyeballs. Terrified eyeballs. Looking for truth. For reason. For direction.

And unlike all my other adventures, where voices, and hornets, and visions, and stuff laid it all out for me, I was on my own this time. And I didn't know what to do.

That scared me even more than the shadowmajigs did.

Author's Note:

CHARITY
All Patreon proceeds for this chapter will be donated to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

PATREON
Hooves of Fate is a labor of love. However, I also have mouths to feed. If this story, or my Heart Full of Pony essays have touched you in any way, and you can manage to spare a few bits, I'd very much appreciate your support on Patreon. It adds up, and makes a difference.
:pinkiehappy:

For those of you who already are pledging, seriously, and for real, thank you. Your support means a great deal to me. /]*[\

SPECIAL THANKS: As always, I would like to thank Seraphem for his tireless assistance providing feedback during the editing process, and Kkat for writing the original Fallout: Equestria story that inspired me to write Hooves of Fate in the first place.

THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS: It seems I have completed another chapter in less than a month's time. The story is accelerating, and that excites me. I'm pleased and honored to share it with you, and eagerly await your feedback.

This chapter is dedicated to Joan of Arc, who was executed 590 years ago today. She, like Rose Petal, heard voices, and experienced visions, and led her people into battles they ought not to have been able to win.

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