• Published 27th Feb 2013
  • 9,805 Views, 954 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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The Hard Yellow Line


“If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?" -Pink Floyd

We had our moment in the Sun. We sang. We smiled. We held hooves as closely as our cages would allow. But it wasn’t long before that all ground to a halt. You see, this young, slender fancy pants cloak-o waltzed in, and started barking orders. All of a sudden, just like that, the goons got their groove back. They quit screaming impotently at us and snapped to attention - even saluted and everything.

It was all the fault of that stupid mare. Just when it was starting to liven up a little bit down there, she had to come along and spoil the fun.

This lady wasn’t like the others. For starters, her cloak was totally clean. Then there was this funky bracelet thingy with a screen and a bunch of dials and stuff, all clamped down good and tight just above her right front hoof. Atop her head, just outside her hood was a silver circlet. It looked almost like a laurel, but with crazy glittery gems and whatnots all over it. You know, just in case we couldn’t already tell that she was some kind of super special snowflake.

After a few murmurs, shrugs, and hoof signals, the cloak-o’s apparently had some sort of a plan. They lined up at attention – stiff and stupid - and awaited the opportunity to spring into action. By the looks on their faces, most of them were itching for the chance.

Our voices wobbled a little bit at the somewhat unsettling turn of events, but we kept it up just the same.

Eventually, after an entire verse of noisy, nervous children vs. eerily silent guards, one of the thugs leaned over and whispered something sheepishly into Captain Super Special Snowflake’s ear.

He leapt back like a startled cat when she snapped at him, then lowered his dopey old head when she growled at him. He stopped and pointed a quivering hoof in my direction.

No, it wasn’t just my direction. It was me. He was pointing at me.

Alright, Rose Petal. It’s okay. It’s okay. Just keep singing. Just keep singing.

“Won’t you help to sing,” My voice cracked. “These songs of freedom.”

Then came the wild gestures from the underling cloak-o. He was clearly explaining something in animated detail. Special Snowflake made a point of not looking in my direction.

Stop it! I chided myself. Quit looking at them! Are you crazy, Rose? Quit looking at them! For the love of Luna what are you doing?! Quit looking at them! They won’t suspect you if you just ignore them and blend in.

Captain Super Special Snowflake clapped her hooves together, and ordered her troops into action. She may have been all busy pretending I was beneath her notice, but she had time to sneak a glance at me out of the corner of her eye. Somehow, it exuded pure contempt.

I gulped. It felt like a giant kickball in my throat. I kept my eyes on the cloak-o’s, figuring my doom would be coming from that direction at any moment. They were all humiliated grumble-grumbles and shrugs when they were talking to each other; and all ferocious Yes, Ma’am! No, Ma’am! when dealing with Super Special Snowflake over there.

Slowly but surely, though, all eyes drifted to me, and one by one, all their hooves pointed in my direction. For me they had nothing but hard eyes and gritted teeth. Those dumb-dumbs had decided I was some kind of ringleader.

My heart pounded so hard each beat felt like a sonic rainboom in my chest. I was in serious trouble. Not gee I’m sorry I broke the vase trouble either. Every bone in my body urged me to rattle the door to my cage - to cry and moan and thrash and panic and flail. I wanted to scream, “It wasn’t my idea! It was the quiet girl in the corner! The Girl I’m Meant to Save. She started it! It was all her idea! It wasn’t me, I swear, I swear, I swear! Blame her!”

Had to bite my lip just to keep from saying it out loud. I mean really bite it. ‘Till it bled. Finally, I couldn’t hold my tongue anymore, so I just threw my whole weight into the song again, to keep my fool mouth from giving away The One I’m Meant to Save.

I sang loudly. Badly. It was all I could do to keep from screaming.

“How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look?”

Not so inspiring when the “prophet” is you.

* * *

The cloak-o’s took their sweet time in regrouping, but when it was time for the round up, they came for me first. That’s right. First. Singular. They took us out of our cages one at a time. Because nothing in the world scares a dozen armed goons more than a pair of shivering kindergarteners - or worse yet, a trio.

I don’t consider myself a brave pony. But the cloak-o’s cowardice – their fear of herding us out more than one at a time - really added insult to injury.

They’d sent a regular old unicorn to fetch me. No clubs. No shouting. Just a slow trot clapping against the concrete, as he came my way. He knelt down and sneered at me with a mouth full of rotten teeth. When the cage door opened up, I cringed.

“It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me.” I muttered.

Curled up into a ball, I anticipated the beating of a lifetime. But nothing happened. He just levitated me right off the ground like I was a sack of flour. No beatings necessary. As suddenly as it had started, I found myself cowering on the ground again. It made me feel like a total foal, but I guess that was the point.

I looked down. I was right in front of a yellow line. The concrete all around us was cracked and broken, but the paint job on that line was unusually pristine. I looked up. A great big old goon warned me not to cross it.

The singing had stopped. All eyes were on me. The ringleader. The rebel.

I could feel the smugness of the grown-ups around me. They had a song of their own in their hearts and it wasn’t about freedom.

Kids, the guard beside me, Captain Super Special Snowflake. It didn’t matter. Every last one of them held their breath, waiting to see what I would do next. Even the long row of saluting cloak-o’s broke formation just enough to lean forward and get a better look. Would I cross the line? Would I hang around behind the line, waiting my turn to die like an obedient chump?

I dug my hooves into the concrete. Felt the grit crunch beneath them. The big guy next to me licked his lips. He wanted me to step over that line so bad he was salivating. The moment of truth had come and every grain of dirt beneath me seemed to echo throughout the entire room.

I didn’t cross the line.

Sure, we had hearts full of fire and heads full of lightning when we were singing, but when push came to shove, we’d all keep our hooves where we were told to keep ‘em. I was certain of it. Even then, when I was still so idealistic.

The jailer jingled his keys in front of the next cage. I just stood there, head hung humble and low till the cloak-o to my right escorted me around the corner, and far out of sight of the rest of the kids. It was a relief. My friends wouldn’t have to witness my shame.

The cloak-o grumbled that he wouldn’t get to try out his shiny new whomping stick (which he had probably named Big Carl or something like that), and went back to his post. Guardian of the Yellow Line. It was probably some kinda high honor in the Ancient Order of the Sacred Wackadoo or whatever these jerk faces called themselves, but at the end of the day, he was nothing but a hall monitor with a license to kill.

I looked up and studied my surroundings. I could actually do that with the Guardian of the Yellow Line gone. The second room was even bigger than the first, and lined wall to wall with cages.

How many kids do they have? I thought. How many kids did they need?!

They were opening up of cages quicker in there, and processing them two or three at a time. This batch hadn’t rebelled or sung, so they apparently weren’t scary enough to warrant the one-at-a-time treatment.

There was not much to do but quiver and wait, so I just kept scanning the crowd, desperately looking for signs of that one kid. The one the Universe didn’t care about. I don’t even know why I bothered. It’s not like I could save him. Maybe I just wanted to tell him I was sorry, for whatever good it would do. Either way, I still had to know what had happened to him. I had to know if he was there.

The problem was that there were children absolutely everywhere: some standing behind various painted lines far, far apart from one another on opposite ends of the room; some huddled in cages; some being herded out of sight - whisked away behind a secret curtain. A lot of us just took it. Hung our heads low – docile, depressed, accepting of whatever horrors awaited us. Others shivered and kissed themselves like crazy nervous little dogs. A few bunched their shoulders up like squirrels and darted their eyes back and forth. They were waiting for the right moment – any moment – to spring into action – any action.

They jittered – hyper-alert. But no moment came. No action came, and worst of all, no sign of the mystery colt.

A stallion marched slowly up and down the room, stiffly lecturing us. We all snapped still as boards. I’m not gonna lie. I did too. The guy was loud.

“The outside world is shrouded with dangerous radiation.” He barked as he passed pamphlets around.

“For this reason,” He continued. “Our nurse will issue you one spoon full of medicine to protect you on your homeward journey. Refusal to comply will result in the cancellation of your homeward journey, and a return to your cage! Are there any questions?”

I don’t think any of us had faith in their staff nurse’s altruistic intentions, but none of us were stupid enough to raise our hooves about it. Truth is: we all had questions, and none of us knew a darn thing. But it did seem increasingly unlikely that what they were gonna do to us would involve a catapult. That of all things made me mad.

When the pamphlet finally made its way to me, I glanced down. It was a thin piece of stamped metal. No trees, no paper. Etched on it were smiling, happy fillies and colts, and in bright bold letters were printed the words “OBEDIENCE AND YOU.”

They had to be joking.

The two kids in front of me were called. Before any of us had any clue what was going on, they disappeared behind that big blue curtain. The last thing they did before they passed out of my sight was throw me desperate pleading looks.

Do something! Is what they would have said if they could.

I wanted to, but do what?! The cloak-o’s had won. We all wanted to do something, (especially those shifty-eyed squirrel kids who were literally waiting for a chance), but so long as there was confusion in the air, and questions racing through our minds, none of us would know when to act or how.

We were supposed to be lost in the chaos, clinging to our stupid yellow lines, and our nurse appointments - desperate for something that kinda, sorta looked a little bit familiar maybe. If there’s order and direction, you do what you’re told, right to the bitter end, even when it means almost certain death. Because there’s that almost part. And no matter how much you want to scream, to shout, to put your hoof over that stupid line just to prove that you can, you don’t. 'Cause while certain death may be impossible to ignore, almost certain death makes a coward out of just about anypony.

* * *

I’m not gonna lie and say I got some genius idea, or some great big amazingly awesome super funky cool burst of fiery courage. No. I just looked too hard, and saw something I wasn’t supposed to see.

I’d been keeping my panicky mind occupied by scanning every inch of the joint looking for that darn colt from my dream - going over every nook and cranny with my eyes. Looking, looking, looking.

Well, just as one of the cloak-o’s clapped a hoof on my shoulder, I saw past the bars, past the cloaks, past the crowd. A door all the way on the other end of the room swung half open – just for a second. On the other end was a wheelbarrow full of bodies.

There were four children in there. Broken. Twisted. Beaten.


Nopony had even bothered to shut their eyes.

I know what the dead are supposed to look like. I’d seen it on the one pony in the world I loved the most - the one that I could barely remember. But it was nothing like the sight of those kids. Nothing. This wasn’t peaceful. It wasn't right. There was agony written all over their gaunt little faces. One of them seemed to be looking right at me.

So I stared into the lifeless eyes of a poor anonymous filly. It could have easily been me. Or Twinkle. Or Roseluck back home. Any one of us. Destroyed for no reason at all. I stared at her, and I did what any calm, rational pony would do: I shrieked. I shrieked loud and shrill the way only a little girl can. I did a jittery little dance and shrieked so loud the cloak-o next to me jumped backwards in shock. I was loose!

Next thing I knew I was running. Galloping even. As fast as I possibly could. It was not the graceful act of an elusive escape artist. It wasn’t even an escape. It was just a mad dash of purest crazy.

I dodged the cloak-o’s.

They leapt on me with their full weight, but still, I came up flailing and bucking till I found myself tumbling all over the floor, my hooves entangled all up in something or other. Based on the kicks to the ribs and the sounds that followed, it seemed that they were tripping all over me, and whatever the hay I’d been dragging behind me. The cloak-o’s fell like pins under a bowling ball.

Then my somersaultish thing was all out of momentum, and my face was on the floor. I blinked. Just underneath my chin was that stupid yellow line. In front of me was the long cold room I’d come from – the one that held all the ponies I’d grown to know and love like Twinkle Eyes and Misty and The One I’m Meant to Save.

Right above me was the captain of the cloak-o’s, Super Special Snowflake.

Her cold composure was gone. There was panic there, and confusion. Most of all, blind fury.

From where I lay, Super Special Snowflake looked like a giant. She snorted, stood up tall, raised her front hooves as if to stomp my head. Out came a battle whinny of purest rage.

This is it, I thought.

In a brief moment of lucidity (I have no idea where it came from), I had the presence of mind to reach up and yank her cloak. A jeweled circlet over your hood looks super flashy and super cool, but it also pins your hood to your head. So if you’re a great big scary cloak-o, and you happen to stand up tall on your hind hooves to stomp somepony’s brains out, and then some little kid happens to come along and yank on your cloak, it’s gonna jerk your head in whatever direction the little kid wants it to.

In this case, that direction was straight. Down.

Her neck twisted and contorted in ways that a neck had never been meant to twist or contort. Super Special Snowflake cried out in distress, and then, just like that, there she was - down on the floor, her giant head groaning beside me, looking up at me through a blurry haze of What the buck just happened?

I kicked her face. Then I kicked her again.

I’d never struck another pony before. Ever. But her face was there right in front of me, and to be honest, it scared the pants off of me, (or would have, had I been wearing pants). So I kicked it.

I wasn’t no ninja, but at the sight of me free and kicking cloak-o’s, the rest of the kids burst into cheers, and shouting and jubilation. I supposed it looked like I might have been doing all of that on purpose. They were in for disappointment, though, because all I was really doing was going totally bonkers and freaking out all over the place.

The tide of cloak-o’s was rising against me. The next thing I know, I’m running back down the room I came from. There were the cages, of course, and a hallway at the end of it. I saw Twinkle’s hopeful eyes sparkle as I passed her, and awe on the face of The One I’m Meant to Save. Even Misty sprung to his hooves in a sudden surge of hope.

And then, just like that, I was myself again. Not some panic stricken little girl stampeding her way into chaos and victory. Rose Petal. Me.

I looked back over my shoulder at the guards as I ran, and before I could so much as say “Uh-oh,” a gap in the concrete hooked my hoof, and I went tumbling down. I fell and I fell hard. Pebbles and hunks of concrete scattered from the hole in the ground. I grabbed one to defend myself and spun around.

Way back by the yellow line was Skull Stomper. He was bearing toward me, horn aglow, club raised, levitating effortlessly in the air. Behind him was every single cloak-o I’d ever seen - all in a cluster, creeping toward me like a tight wall.

There was no escaping that way.

Behind me was a hallway that lead Celestia-Only-Knows where. Maybe freedom. Maybe a pit full of eels and fire breathing tree snails. All I had was maybe a few seconds head start. Tops. And not a clue where to go.

Misty pressed his face to the front of the cage. Everything about him screamed If only I were out there. Next to him was Twinkle Eyes. Everything about her said Run!

But I couldn’t run. Not without her. And I definitely couldn’t stay either. That would be just plain bone stupid.

I sprang to my feet. There was one shot to get us all out of there:

The braggart. Everypony hated him, cause he’d escaped four times and never lifted a hoof to help anypony but his girlfriend. But there was more to him than that - I just knew it. He was a better pony than he thought he was.

The cloak-o’s were closing in fast. I threw Misty the firmest of firm looks. Don’t you run off on us. He nodded with the utmost seriousness. Good enough for me.

I had a few seconds left. Skull Stomper was charging at the front of the brigade – his horn still glowing the same color as the force field around Misty’s cage.

The plan was simple: get Skull Stomper to drop the field; trust Misty Mountain to come through. I gripped the hunk of concrete firmly in my hoof and hoped that the Romaneian was as good as he seemed to think he was.

I took aim. One rock. One moving target. One second to make my maneuver. And me – the clumsiest filly in all of Ponyville.

I started at that horn and thought about all the times I’d been picked dead last at sports – the wild pitches I’d thrown. Every absent minded trip. Every stumble. Every time a total stranger gave me a bit too much space when they passed me on the road, (because the whole town knew that Rose Petal the Klutz was a danger to herself and others).

A gazillion-million memories all rushed into my brain at once like floodwater. I tried to focus on that one goon’s glowing horn, but all I could think of was my own foibles. Accidents, injuries, disapproving glares, even supportive but condescending Don’t-you-worry-about-it-dear’s. All of it. Everything. Everything. Everything.

Like drowning in failure.

And then I thought of my friends, and for just one teeny tiny instant there was this silence. All those adorable failures. All the excuses I had ever made for myself – that others had made for me - all my doubt. It all shrunk down into one tiny spot – Skull Stomper’s horn, and it was literally all I could see.

I whispered to myself three simple words. “Not this time.”

And let it fly…

What happened next was so fast, it’s hard to even describe. The hunk of concrete struck true. Green lightning scattered everywhere. The force field went down, and so did Skully - his horn shattered like chalk. He cried and wailed like a little foal, except that it sounded like he had a throat full of hot gravel.

Then I looked up and saw the stampede of cloak-o’s coming straight toward me.

Misty’s horn lit up.

The cart with the movie box suddenly glowed the same color as his horn and flung itself across the floor, but it didn’t trip a single cloak-o. Just shattered like a cheap toy when it hit the ground.

Thanks a lot, Misty. Great work!

I stumbled backwards as the tidal wave of cloaks rushed toward me.

I cringed and waited for it to crash down on me, but then I heard this great big clang. Every water dish from every cage in the room took aim and flung itself against the bars, splashing the cloak-o’s. A giant puddle swept under their hooves. Right into the shattered movie box. Then, just like that, a pile of dead cloak-o’s laying lifeless in a pool full of lightning.

Misty clapped my shoulder. He was already out of his cage.

“You killed them.” I said.

“You are sharp as razor, my friend.” He disappeared behind me.

A glowing key ring flew a-jinglin' at all the cages. The doors swung open almost as fast as the lightning that licked its way across the puddle.
Misty keeps his promises.

A keyring hit me in the head.

“Grab a key,” He said smugly.

“They’re…dead.” I said.

“Am I goot or what?” He called out over his shoulder and laughed. “Come on, let’s open dees and get the fuck out of here, eh?”

I didn’t respond. I had other things on my mind.

* * *

Once the marauding wall of cloaky death was out of the way, I started to feel this tide sweeping me away from the center of the action, down toward the important filly at the end of the hall. The One I’m Meant to Save. The second I saw that Twinkle Eyes was alright and out of her cage, I darted back and answered the call.

Keys out, I galloped straight for the last cage in the joint – the one with a hole and a view. But the cage was already wide open. Misty had a hoof on her shoulder.

She’s your girlfriend?” I said, genuinely shocked.

They both protested at once.

“She’s not my girlfriend!” The foreigner whined, his more childish nature shining through for just a moment.

“I don’t even know this colt!” Growled The One I’m Meant to Save.

“You’re very welcome, now come on!” He charged into the eel hallway, Girl I’m Meant to Save in tow. She looked back at me, utterly confused.

“Go on.” I gestured, and pointed her towards what seemed at the time to be best escape route available.

“Dees a way!” Misty shouted.

I wanted to charge up the eel hallway with them, deal with the girl from my drawing, get the job done, and haul flank out of there. But there were still kids in those cages. Maybe even the one I’d left behind.

As if to prove the urgency of my point, those kids burst into a sudden wave of screams.

I rushed back. The puddle of lightning was drifting slowly toward the row of prison cells - kids still trapped inside. Keys in my mouth, I dove for the nearest locked cage. It was Butterscotch’s.

“Don’t let me die. Don’t let me die. Don’t let me die.” He said.

“I won’t! I won’t! I won’t!” I flipped through keys, fumbling with my teeth. None of the stupid things fit.

“Come on!” He shouted.

The water was starting to spread and inch up between my legs. One drop of that stuff and I was dead. I stood on the tips of my hooves and screamed.

“MMMMM!” I said, mouth full of keys.

In a few seconds, I would be surrounded by lightning water, and no longer able to escape. Butterscotch slammed his hooves against the cage as I tried to turn the key.

“Don’t let me die! Don’t let me die!” He was sobbing.

“Mmmmm! Mmmm!” I shouted back at him.

I won’t! I won’t!

Or at least I thought I wouldn’t. At the very last second, as I saw the water closing in on me, I leapt out of the way, and landed safely out of the puddle’s range. I watched in horror as it swept right up to the metal cages. That look of blind panic on Butterscotch’s face. The betrayal he felt – the desperation. But what could I have done? I’d stayed until the very last second. I’d done everything I could!

The water swept under them all, and they screamed like yowling cats. The crying was so loud that Misty actually came back, and stood in horror as he realized his error. But it was too late. The water swept under the cages.

I squeezed my eyes shut.

I should have stayed. I thought. Maybe one second longer, and I could have gotten at least one cage open. I should have stayed!

After about a minute of solid shrieking, we all opened our eyes, and one by one realized that nothing at all had happened.

The kids in the cages weren’t dead. Just wet.

I turned to Misty Mountain, who looked as rattled and confused as I was.

Twinkle appeared next to me, horn aglow. She levitated the plug from the movie box, which was no longer connected to the wall, and waved it in Misty Mountain’s face.

“Fucking asshole.” She said and dropped it on the ground.

For once, Misty didn’t have a smart answer.

“Come on,” Said Twinkle, magicking the keys into each of the cages one at a time. I grabbed a ring in my tooth and started playing turnkey too.

“Dees is enough! What are you doink? Dey are comink! We must go!” Said Misty. “Now!”

Everypony ignored him. He was the guy who’d left them all to fry. I made for Butterscotch. I didn’t have the nerve to look him in the eye. Not after I’d dodged the puddle and left him for dead. Finally, when I got the door open, he passed me by. He couldn’t look me in the eye either.

“Thanks,” he muttered under his breath, acid on his tongue.

As guilty as I’d felt, that tone made me mad. I wanted to scream at his ungrateful little flank. I could have rushed down the eel hallway by myself; I could have been safe on my way home and halfway out the compound by then, but no! I’d risked everything to get him and everypony else free, and dammit, I’d done everything for him I could! He had to understand that. I couldn’t get the door open in time. That’s all. I just couldn’t do it! It wasn’t my fault.

I couldn’t scream at Butterscotch, so I kicked Skull Stomper’s corpse instead, (because it happened to be near me). Ditching a friend. Stomping on the dead. Yeah, Rose Petal, you’re one of the good ones. Said the little pony in my head.

Misty, recognizing a lost cause when he saw one, levitated a ring of keys, and in a rapid whir of purple glow, opened cage after cage after cage.
Show off unicorns.

He turned to me, slapped my shoulder and said. “Ees done. We save dem. Congratulations. Whole world know Rose Petal is good pony. Now let’s get dee fuck out of here.”

“There’s more in the other room.” I grabbed him. “Come on!”

“Bah!” He snapped, shaking me off. “Go ahead. Take down entire compound one room at a time. Everything be fine! What do I know? I’m just silly colt with experience escaping from all of dee things!"

He threw his front hooves up in the air. "Dees is enough!" He pleaded. "We have to go!”

He whipped around in anger, clearly intending to storm off down that old eel hallway, but his companion, The One I’m Meant to Save, was already gone – slipped away while the two of us had been fighting. I looked around. She wasn’t near me, or Misty, or Twinkle, or the cluster of fillies and colts that were slowly congregating together. I didn’t know where she was.

Dear Luna, she’d probably run off in a panic all by herself! She was probably crying up and down the hallway, being attacked my eels and fire breathing tree snails. She was probably leading the cloak-o's straight to us! Misty and I both exchanged glances of terror.

“I’m over here.” She said dryly.

We found her all the way on the other side of the room, passed the dreaded yellow line. She was hovering over the guard’s console, banging keys and buttons and levers and stuff. She didn’t even deign to look at us.

“What are you doing? Come on!”

She plunged her hoof against my lips without taking her eyes off the screen, effectively hushing me. Misty came forward, but he didn’t even get to say a word before she kicked him in the shins. That girl wouldn’t peel her eyes off that console even for a moment.

With a final dramatic keystroke, she turned to us and said. “There are twelve guards. We took them all down except a nurse.”

“Yay team.” Said Misty sarcastically in his thick accent, and gestured toward the eel hallway.

“No.” Said The One I’m Meant to Save. “There’s only one way out that way, and it’s got tons of cloaks patrolling nearby.”

She pointed at some sort of map on the console screen. TOWNSHIP OF TROTTICA. MANE HALL. BASEMENT LEVEL 2. It read.

I had never seen anything like it before. Misty also scratched his head in sheepish confusion.

The One continued. “There’s also a single roaming patrol pony who could be here any minute now according to the work log…or twenty minutes from now. No telling.”

“How do you--;” I tried to ask, but Twinkle jumped in between us. Or should I say jumped up and down (she wasn’t tall enough to see the screen? “Rosie, do me a favor and--;”

Before I knew it she was climbing up me, and I was kneeling. The weight of her knobby knees and blunt hooves dug straight into my poor back.

“You in?” She asked The One I’m Meant to Save.


They bumped hooves, and said a whole bunch of stuff I couldn’t understand. Then they summed up the plan.

“We need to get all 27 kids in the other room, and the 16 of us here down through those doors, past some kind of backstage area, and then sneak out the service area here.”

I heard the sound of one of their hooves tapping at the screen.

“We don’t have time for 27 keeds!” Squeaked Misty in protest.

The One I’m Meant to Save snorted, and hit a single button. The cages in the second room unlocked. All of them at once.

“You are genius!” He said.

I could barely hear a word over the sound of her smirking, (that’s how smug it was), but I coughed out with a raspy voice the only question left on my mind. “What about the others? Who took the medicine?”

“It says they’re being processed.”

“Processed?” I heaved. “What does that mean?”

Both the techies frantically poured over the screen.

“Doesn’t say, but there’s another 40 of them.” Our resident hacker said at long last.

Twinkle finally hopped down. I collapsed on the floor.

Above me I could faintly hear Misty and The One I’m Meant to Save arguing away about what to do. To my left, Twinkle’s hooves clopped against the gritty old pavement and drifted off to Celestia-only-knows where. I was about to investigate where she might have been headed when I heard something that terrified me far more. The One I’m Meant to Save asserted, “We have to go deeper down.”

Down to the lower levels. According to what she was reading, that Town Hall was built over some kinda massive pit, and we were gonna go down into it with 40 some odd kids, navigate their labyrinth, and come back with 80. Most of them wouldn’t even be able to carry themselves.

I looked up at the girl. She was bold and resolute. Admirable. A leader.

At that instant I was seized by a sharp pain. It surged across my entire body. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Whatever she was planning, it was wrong. All wrong

I could see, clear as the ponies before me, The Girl I’m Meant to Save lying dead in the dark on a pile of rocks. Blood all up in her mane. A coin-sized circular wound going way deep into her chest. Her eyes stared up into nothing, covered with pebbles and dust.

It was too much. Too real. The pony in my head screamed “Stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it!”

It was like being in the middle of a nightmare, only you know you’re awake. Horrible pictures you can’t shut your eyes to, and this all-encompassing fight-or-flight panic running amuck up and down your bloodstream. I fought for consciousness through this long dark hole - this spasm of righteous terror, and clawed my way to the surface.

I had to warn them! I couldn’t let this happen. Not on my watch. I fought and fought and fought to no avail, and then, totally out of the blue, the pictures disappeared on their own.

“No!” Misty and I yelled at the same time.

It startled The One I'm Meant to Save so bad that she jumped backwards. I instinctively scrambled to my hooves and threw myself toward her. When I got there, I found Misty, flanking her from the other side. He was pale - terrified. Covered in sweat. For the first time since we’d met, Misty was genuinely, truly, honest-and-for-real terrified. He looked as though he had seen a ghost.

Or a vision.

Author's Note:

SUPPORT: 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.

If you can't, no pressure. For those of you who already are pledging, seriously, and for real, thank you. Your support makes a difference, and it means a great deal to me. /]*[\

NOTE: To all the folks who've been reading all this time,

First of all, thanks for your encouragement. My apologies that I haven't added a chapter in quite a while. My new job kept me busy, along with my duties organizing the charity album Seeds of Kindness 3: A Beautiful Heart.

Secondly, you should all know that I've decided that Rose's observations so far have been a tad too adult for a filly her age. I'll be revising little things in the first four chapters. Small phrasings. Her narrative and her "voice," her kiddish use of language, and that which makes her (I hope) lovable will stay exactly the same, but it just plain makes more sense if she's an adolescent using that language because she's reminiscing - looking back at an earlier point in her childhood.

If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up in the comments. Nothing's really changing, except of course, for the framework and context of the narration. Hope you understand. -Sprocket

Sprocket Doggingsworth (the author-type person):

Column: My Derpy Hooves News column about Love, Tolerance, and Friendship, “Help! My Heart is Full of Pony!” is now archived at http://heartfullofpony.tumblr.com

Music: Check out my pony music (rock, jazz, hip-hop, blues, classical, and experimental). http://www.youtube.com/sdoggingsworth

Cover Art: http://shadesofeverfree.deviantart.com/art/The-Rose-Queen-334850063

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