• 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.

  • ...
25
 765
 7,282

Alone in the Dark

CHAPTER EIGHT – ALONE IN THE DARK

“Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.” – Albert Camus



I don’t know what it’s like to be a grown-up, but I do know that it’s probably stupid. As far as I can tell, half of them spend their entire lives chasing their childhoods. The other half spend it running away. The Priestess was the living embodiment of the worst of both worlds.

But all that talk about innocence had gotten me thinking that maybe that was what I’d been sent into the Wasteland to protect. The innocence of children.

But you can’t fight to protect innocence. Once you know what innocence really is, and understand that it’s something you may have lost, it’s too late. It’s gone. You’re not innocent anymore. But those mine-o slave kids and me – we may have been miles from innocence, but there was still something magic – something child-like left in us.

I guess you’d call it purity, if you had to pick a word for it. One that neither the Wasteland, nor the Priestess had corrupted. We weren’t fighting for virtues. Nopony really does. We were ready to fight for each other, though. And sometimes that’s virtue enough.

Those kids who’d been living deep within the mine for Luna only knows how long? They had something more. They were ready to kill. They had slave’s anger – a rage more pure and righteous than any other anger on earth. And just hearing it over the console had scared me. Way more than some two-bit cloak-o goon ever could.




* * *




Time to split.

Strawberry Lemonade was busy yammering at me from the other end of the machine, but time was sorta of the essence so I don’t think she held it against me when I just plain took off.

“Okay, now what you want to do is open up the roll call directory and the shift log.” She told the pony on the other end of a conversation I wasn’t a part of. “That’s it…Got it okay? Hold on.”

Even as I made for the automatic carriagey-thing, I could hear her fiddling with buttons and talking to ponies on the other end.

“Mine N. So glad to have you with us.” She laughed nervously. “No, I don’t know…Show me…I can’t see if the camera function is activated on your end, can you…yes.”

Strawberry Lemonade’s elation at having helped out with all that freedom and stuff dissolved almost immediately when she realized the sorts of colts she would be dealing with on the other end.

“Yes,” She grumbled.

A long pause.

“Yes,” She said again. “With the on button.”

The last thing I heard before I hopped on to the drivers’ seat of that big old convey-a-majig was Strawberry cursing my name, swearing to kill me herself if ever we made it out of Trottica alive.

“See you later, Jerkmine!” I hollered from the driver’s seat, and was off.

At least that’s how I imagined it would go.

The problem was, the damn auto-carriage wouldn’t move.

“So long, suckers!” I cried out again.

Nothing.

I galloped back to the console.

“Um, Strawberry?” I

“What?” She snapped.

“How do you drive this thing?”

“Ugh!”

Thud, thud, thud, thud, thud.




* * *




A little while later, I was on my way, weaving and swerving down the long dark path to the next console. According to Misty’s directions, it would be about ten minutes away.

Perched on a crate, the Priestess’ old cloak was wrapped around me as I drove. I was hoping that maybe I could pass for a grown-up if the cloak-o’s saw me from far off, or out of the corners of their eyes, or I dunno, in the middle of a drunken stupor or something. In the meantime, I hooked one hoof into the horseshoe-shaped steering thingy and focused on not swerving.

All the hallways and burrowing spots I passed by were abandoned. At least at first. As I got deeper, I started to see more signs of what had once been life. Shovels discarded in a hurry. Drag marks where kids had been pulled away in a hurry before they even had the chance to fight. I wasn’t a detective, but anypony who’d ever pitched a fit in a sandbox could tell you what those marks in the dirt were.

I’d failed them.

Those poor miner kids had been dragged off to some dungeon somewhere. Even Strawberry Lemonade wouldn’t be able to find them.

They’d listened to me, trusted me. They tried to escape because I lied to them and said that we knew how to set them free.

Now they were gone. Off somewhere suffering even worse than ever before. I almost crashed when I realized the seriousness of the sort of war I’d started.

The real kind. The kind with casualties.




The next few tunnels were all cloak-o skirmishes. Their big cloaky bodies strewn around like toys in a foal’s bedroom. I got to wondering if there were any survivors at all, or if they had just blasted one another to smithereens like a bunch of morons.

It was sort of heartening. Even as I fretted over those poor kids who’d been dragged away, I thought about the cloak-o population. By now, it’s got to have taken a big hit. All that in-fighting over stupid Priestess drama. That idiotic scramble for power that started the very second she was gone. I closed my eyes and hoped that the cloak-o rumbles, and the distractions had helped get some kid to safety. Any kid.

Then I opened my eyes again, cause, you know, I was driving. I drove on and on and on as fast as I could, carrying the platform o’ drugged-up kids with me in the back. Clinging to that one thought. Somewhere up there, there had to be some kid who got out cause of me. A kid who didn’t get dragged off and tortured.

Strawberry Lemonade had pulled up the sound of some pretty angry kids. A lot of them, actually. But had they succeeded? I mean, all those furious screams and howls, surely somepony made it out alive, right?




The next area was labeled Sub-Mine F. I glanced down the hallway that lead to the tunnels, like I had all the other sectors, but I was not prepared for what I saw. Dead kids. Everywhere. A whole pile of them. The aftermath of a failed revolt. I swear they couldn’t have been older than Kindergarteners.

I froze in place, and stared. My heart plunged into my stomach like a bowling ball. I swear, I didn’t even have the breath to scream.

What have I done?

I scanned all the dark tunnels as I drove by them, desperate to see any motion – any signs of life at all. But they were dead. All of them. Dead.

Finally, I passed that section of mine altogether. There were no words for the hatred I felt. For the cloak-o’s. For myself. For every pat on the back I’d accepted from my peers since the whole thing started. Rose Petal the fucking hero.

I gritted my teeth, and turned to face forward. I had to get those sleeping kids to safety! I couldn’t afford to cry or mourn or wail like my bowling-ball heart was screaming at me to do. I couldn’t even blink, cause every time I shut my eyes, those poor kids were all I saw.

I pried my eyes open. I gripped the steering levers and throttle so hard it hurt my hooves. And I pushed forward. It’s not that I had a great big old strong will, or that I let logic and pragmatism be my lifeline. No. Steering that stupid thing – saving the sleepy ones in the back – it was all I had left.

Every other thought I turned to for strength: of friends; of Ponyville; even of Roseluck – it all felt like it was miles away. So I bit my lip, and I focused, and I kept on driving.

I stopped at the second console, got my reports from Strawberry Lemonade, and said as little as possible. That suited her just fine. Then on I went.

I zig-zagged all over the mine. Left, right, up, down. Strawberry kept on changing my course again and again and again to avoid the cloak-o’s. Always helpful. Always cranky. Always grumbling.




When I reached the console by Sub-Mine K, it was a different story. Strawberry was literally cheering, and not actually answering my calls.

“Yeah, they’re all huggy and stuff right now.” Said Twinkle Eyes on the other end.

I had never heard so many ponies in one place at one time. Even through that crackly tin can effect, it sounded massive. More than the chants of those angry rioters I’d heard when the whole revolt thing first started an hour before.

“Who are they?” I said.

“The ponies we saved, dumbass.”

“All of them?” I couldn’t believe that so many kids had fit in that one mine.

Twinkle misunderstood me completely.

“Didn’t lose a soul.” She said. “You’re a fucking hero.”

“Shut up!” I said.

This is crazy. I thought. Didn’t lose a soul? Was she joking? Hadn’t anypony heard about Sub-Mine F?

Twinkle laughed on the other end. Apparently not. Twink still believed that we could make it through this - all of us in tact. It was a side of her I’d never seen. Twink the Optimist.

I couldn’t bear to tell her.

“Um…I need to keep moving.” I said. “Which way next?”

I forced myself to sound as normal as possible. To fight the quiver in my throat. My friends were up there worrying to pieces about me cause I’d gotten the bright idea to run on ahead. They were in danger of a cloak-o attack just like I was. They needed as much hope as they could get.

I shook with frustration. With self-hatred. Choking back the truth actually felt like a jagged lump of coal living right up in my throat. But it didn’t matter. I made up my mind then and there not to tell anypony about the massacre, no matter what. No matter how much it hurt.




I drove on, blinded by tears till my eyes were bone dry. Then, after that, still blinded just from the strain of having cried so much. My throat hurt from having to choke back the sounds of my sobs for so long. I was afraid they’d give me away.

Needless to say, I wasn’t at my best. By the time I saw them, it was too late – a huge cluster of cloaks up ahead. This wasn’t just some straggler, or harried cloak-o patrol pony. I was fast approaching a whole squad of cloak-o’s standing sturdy and patient-like. With purpose. That’s a whole other ball game.

There was no way to turn around without looking suspicious. It was too late! So I flung the cloak over as much of my face as I could (without blocking my view), and I hoped for the best.

That’s it, Rose. Be cool. I said to myself as I drew nearer.

You’re bringing the drugged up kids straight to them! The Panicked Little Pony In My Head retorted. Why are you bringing the kids straight to them?!

“Shut up, pony!” I whispered at the paranoid voice inside my head.

For the first time since any of the craziness had started, I wished that the other voice in my head would come back. The one that always seemed to want to force some kind of urgent mission on me. The One I’m Meant to Save. The One I’m Not Meant to Save. The Way It’s Supposed to Happen. The Way It’s Not Supposed to Happen.

But there was nothing up there. No guidance. No direction. Just the same-old warnings about Strawberry Lemonade.

I cursed my stubborn friends. If they had just split like they were supposed to, I’d be awake by now, and none of this would still be happening!

The squad of cloak-o’s was getting closer. They were gonna see me. I could feel it!

I pushed the throttle all the way down, hoping I could zoom by the cloak-o’s fast enough that they wouldn’t notice I was a kid. The tray full of children bounced around in the back. I cringed when we hit our first bump. What if somepony fell off?!

Slamming on the breaks would only make matters worse, so I buckled down, gripped tight, and tried desperately to keep from swerving. So far, so good.

“I’m just another cloak-o.” I whispered to myself. “Just another cloak-o.”

Maybe if I actually believed it, then they would too. As I got close enough to actually see them, though, I knew that something had to be wrong. They watched me without watching me. Corners of their eyes. Shadows under their cloaks.

They know! I thought. They know and they’re getting ready to make their move!

I looked around. I didn’t even have anything to defend myself with. Not so much as a stick I could use to whack at them. Maybe my “cargo” is valuable to them. I laughed nervously to myself. That at least might slow them down a little, right?

Finally one of them shouted, and then suddenly, just like that, they all leapt on to the carriage with me - blades and whips in their teeth. There was fresh blood all over them.

Before I could so much as scream, one of the bastards had knocked me from the driver's seat, and another was already on top of me, murder in his orange eyes.

“Eeeeek!” I eeked.

I was powerless. Taken completely off guard, even though I’d seen it coming a mile away. This is the end. I thought.

But then I lucked out. He blinked. Hesitated.

So I headbutted him right in the schnoz.

Duuujjj!

“Ow!” He fell backward on to the hood of the automatic carriage I was driving.

Both our cloaks fell away from our faces. He was a colt! Just a little colt! Why was this kid a cloak-o?

“Hay!” I said, waving my hoof, pointing at him in shock.

He pointed at me right back.

The filly who’d taken over the driver’s seat had one of those L-Shaped death thingies pointed in my face, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the road.

“What? What? What? Do I shoot him?” She asked the colt with the orange eyes, who was still rubbing his sore face where I’d nailed him.

She turned to face me just long enough to catch a gander. I was not, in fact, a bad-guy. Check. She sighed in relief and lowered her weapon.

“You scared me, you jerk!” She said.

As though it were my fault.

She turned to her partner. “You alright?”

“Yeah, yeah.” He said back to her.

Then all the attention was back on me. They tried asking me a bunch of questions, but I couldn’t focus on them. Instead I just locked up and got all thinky inside. There were so many kids around me. I couldn’t help but ask myself, Where did all those cloaks come from?

I scratched my chin and caught a glimpse of my own hoof. It was covered in blood. So was his cloak. I pointed and stuttered.

“Ah, don’t worry.” He said with a warm smile. “The blood ain’t mine.”




“Guys, guys, guys!” Came another voice. “It’s the girl who killed the Priestess!”

Oh, boy, here it comes. I thought.

The leader shoved a hoof in my face and pointed. I cringed. A whole mass of kids in cloaks waved as we passed by. I threw on a frail little grin.

“They think I’m a hero,” I said to myself through my smiley teeth. “Of course they bucking do.”

I wondered how they’d all feel if they’d seen the massacre at Sub Mine F.

“Peach Cobbler!” Said the orange colt.

He extended his hoof cheerily.

“Rose Petal.” I bumped it.

“Morning Flower.” Said the driver, all snippity-like.

“Um…Howdy.” I replied.

Cobbler clapped his hooves together and burst into a smile so bright, it could blind you.

“So!” He said. “What do we do next?”





* * *




“Shit!” Said Strawberry Lemonade.

Peach Cobbler and I exchanged glances. Not exactly what you want to hear from your one and only lifeline.

“Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck fuck!” Strawberry elaborated on her initial point.

On her end of the tin can, I could hear bangs and pops all over the place – the kinda sounds those death weapons made.

“Is everypony okay?” I shouted.

“Yeah, we’re holding ‘em back!” Her voice warbled. We could barely make it out over the kapows in the background.

“Fuck you too, buddy!” Shouted Twinkle.

Ratatatatatatata-tat.

Whereever the buck they all were, Twink was having the time of her life.

“We raided the Priestess’ stash.” Shouted Strawberry Lemonade. “We may be out numbered but they are sure as Hell outgunned.”

“Can you still get us out?”

Silence on the other end.

“Strawberry?”

The mine kids and I held our breaths as we awaited her answer. I swear, you could have heard a single blade of hay hit the ground if somepony had dropped one.

“I-I think so.” Said Strawberry Lemonade at long last.

“You think so?” Said Morning Flower and I in unison.

“You think so?” Echoed one of the drugged up kids as he staggered by and fell. “Ha!”

One by one, they were starting to come awake and stumble off the carriage thingy. Meanwhile, the rest of us just cringed.

Morning Flower gave me the nastiest of looks. Like the kink in our plan was somehow my fault.

“Ok, I got it. The refuge chute in Sector B. Just gimme a sec.”

Suddenly, ratatatat-tats and screams again. Only they weren’t coming from the console this time. The cloak-o’s were right here in the mine, and they were firing at us.

A pair of kids in stolen cloaks came galloping up from around the corner. They were carrying their kid brother on their backs. His leg was gushing blood and he was crying up a storm.

“They’re coming.” The big sister said just before skidding to a halt.

We were at a crossroads of several different hallways and tunnels. She looked frantically left, and right, and pretzeled her neck all over the place trying to make sense of where the buck we were.

“Which way’s out?!” She said

“Put pressure on it, put pressure on it.” She told her kid brother.

“Gimme a minute.” Shouted Strawberry Lemonade from the other side of the console.

Meanwhile, the war sounds were growing louder and closer by the second.

“We don’t have a minute!” I shouted. “Which fucking way?”

A herd of kids stormed toward us, panicked and afraid. They were fleeing the carnage. Meanwhile, two members of Cobbler’s gang bravely rushed into the action, waving a birthday candle of all things.

Soldiers of Cake. I thought.

“Which fucking way?” I repeated.

“Go straight, make a left, then a right. Then you’re gonna wanna get into one of the wormhole side-tunnel…things.” She said.

“Side-tunnel?! Are you nuts?” Squeaked Peach Cobbler.

So far, the hallways we’d chosen could fit all of us easily. Heading single file into a dark little unknown would not only take forever, but leave us totally vulnerable if we couldn’t get out in time or if we hit a dead end.

“You’re lucky I found it at all, the way I was gonna send you is swarming with cloaks.” Said Strawberry.

“I am not going back in one of those.” Stomped Morning Flower.

“Hurry. It’s the se--;” But Strawberry didn’t get to finish her sentence

Or if she did, we sure as buck couldn’t hear it. You see, those Cake Soldier kids came rushing back to us in an awful hurry, minus a birthday candle.

Then suddenly fire. A terrible thunder rumbled from behind them, and a gust of pebbles and hot air hit us like a hurricane. Rocks tumbled down from the ceiling and spilled out over the hallway, blocking the cloak-os’ path. Everywhere, everything was smoke and burning dust.

The two kids who’d lead the charge picked one another up and laughed. Even as they wiped their eyes and coughed their lungs out like the rest of us, shared a hoof bump of victory.

“You fucking idiots!” Said Cobbler, covering his head. “You’re gonna get us all killed.”

“Hay!” One of them protested.

“I know what I’m doing.” Whined the other.

Doom! A giant bolder fell from the ceiling right next to him.

Cobbler ran over and snatched up one of their saddlebags.

“What was that?!” Said Twinkle, or at least that’s what a crackly, distorted version of her said. “What the fuck was--;”

“We’re fine, we’re fine, we’re fine!” I coughed into the console.

Only we weren’t fine.

I could hear the voices of cloak-o’s echoing through the crazy confusing hallways. The explosion had only bought us time, and probably not very much of it.

Ka-pow!

That one was close. I ducked instinctively (for whatever good it might have done).

Six or seven of them came stumbling up to us all disoriented-like. They were covered in rubble, and firing wildly like a pack of morons. Apparently, the cave-in hadn’t sealed us off in time to stop the entire horde-o-cloak. We still had a hoofful of stragglers to deal with.

“Which….tunnel?….Strawberry?” I hacked and wheezed and rubbed the explosion dust from my eyes. “Go straight and make a left and then a right…and then what?”

The voice on the other end of the tin can had always been crackly, but now it was worse than ever.

“Se--…-unnel on the right.” It said.

“Was that second or seventh?” I shouted

The cloak-o morons were getting so loud I could barely hear Strawberry.

“Strawberry!” I kicked the console when she didn’t respond. “Second or seventh?”

Gripping the wall for support, I threw the Priestess’ cloak over my face like I was some kinda daisy print vampire. I sucked in careful breaths through the cloth. It didn’t help. The dust was fucking everywhere.

“Strawberry.” I called out in a hoarse whisper.

When she didn’t respond I turned around and bucked the console.

“Second or seventh?!!!”

“Take the se-“ The console said.

Then it exploded. Glass. Metal. Everywhere. Dead console.

I stumbled backward and fell on my flank.

“Go, go, go, go, go!” Said Peach Cobbler, but all I could do was stare at the busted machine.

We were lost. Cut off completely from the outside. From my friends. From hope. From the only filly in all of Trottica who could throw us a lifeline.

It was just me, Cobbler’s rebels, and the drugged up kids from the ceremony. All alone in the dark.

Twinkle must be freaking out.

Cobbler grabbed me and we ran. We made for the tunnel like Lemonade had said. Some kids were already galloping way ahead of us. The rest leapt on to the carriage thing.




"Ow! Get off!" Said one of the drowsy lumps still not quite with-it enough to leap up and run around.

Others just scooted over.

Morning Flower pushed the lever down as far as it would go, and we zoomed our way up the hall, finally putting some distance between us and the cloaks.

As I sat in the back, bouncing along, I played back the sound of Strawberry Lemonade's voice again and again and again in my head. There had to be a way to figure out which tunnel she'd been talking about. There just had to!

"Second, seventh, second, seventh, second, seventh." I whispered.

But every time I cycled through it in my head, it got less and less like the actual sound of her voice, and more and more imaginationy.

“Second, seventh. Seventh, second. Second, seventh. Seventh, second.”

The hornets in my head were starting to really have a field day too. It was open season. Worst part is, they didn't even smack me with pictures or voices or answers or anything. They just buzzed around and stung at my brain indiscriminate-like.

"Second. Seventh." I panted and wheezed, lungs full of mine dust.

We are gonna die. The little pony in my head told me. We. Are going. To die.

"Shut up, pony!" I finally shouted, clutching my head.

Suddenly, everypony on the back of the carriage-a-majig was looking at me.

"Hehehe." I said. "Um..."

But I could think of no smart explanations. Not even a dumb excuse. Instead, I just sort of sighed. I didn't even have time to worry about what they all thought. They probably didn't have time to pay much attention to me either.

They were busy dreaming about life on the outside, and I was busy thinking how the hell I was gonna break it to them that I actually had no clue where we were going, and we were even fucked-er than ever.

“You okay?” Asked Cobbler at last, hoof on my shoulder.

Morning Flower looked back at me and glowered at Cobbler’s gesture of affection.

What the Hell did I do? I wanted to yell, but I ignored her and turned to Peach Cobbler instead.

“I’m fine,” I said. I put my hoof on his to reassure him.

We screeched to a halt. TWONG! I thwacked my head into cobbler's head, who in turn, thwacked his head into a metal bar.

"Owww!" We said in unison.

“We’re he-ere!” Morning snapped, cranky as all get-out.

Then the reality of the situation punched me right in the gut again. It was almost time for the big coin toss.

Second. Seventh.



The kids all leapt off. I rose to follow, but a hoof up-and-grabbed me by the tail.

"Help," Moaned the colt next to me. He was in a serious drug haze.

"Sweet Luna," I whispered to myself. "Gimme your hoof."

He slung his foreleg over my shoulder.

A lot of the kids bolted for the tunnels, leaving only a hoof full of us behind to help the stumblers.

“Hold up, hold up, hold up!” I coughed.

The air was still dense with explosion dust.

The children all skidded to halts. I’d like to say it was cause they cares do very much about their fellow pony, and about what I had to say, but truth be told, they all just sort of trickled in one-by-one when they realized that they had no idea where they were going.

“Everypony grab a druggo!” I said.

There came a hesitant silence. Cobbler stepped up.

“Druggos!” He commanded.

He threw me a sideways glance. “Druggos? Really?”

I need to start coming up with better names for things.

"If you are sick or injured, or a um...druggo." Cobbler coughed. "And you need help, raise a hoof."

A few trembling hooves raised themselves into the air. Other druggos stumbled off the carriage altogether.

"If you think you can make it, stay close to somepony who can catch you. Just in case!"

The healthy ponies leant helping hooves, but they looked jittery. Anxious to get going. It was nerve wracking for all of us - the tiny delays under the shadow of a doom so impend-y you could taste it. But some kids - the ones who had bolted off blindly just a few moments before - looked more nervous than others.

"I know the way." I said.

The lie that always seemed to do the truck.

Morale was on the upswing again.




We made our way down the final hallway as fast as our druggos would allow. Then, tunnel time.

"Second or seventh?" Said Peach as we dragged ourselves down the hallway.

Clop clop cloppity clop clop clop. I struggled not to stumble over under the weight of my druggo.

"Seventh!" I said, panting out mine dust.

Luck had been on my side so far, so why not?

"You sure?" Hollered Peach Cobbler.

"Positive!" I said.

Then, more trotting in silence.

"You are a terrible liar!" Said Cobbler at last.

"I know." I panted back.




Smoke from the explosion was still hanging all stagnant-like, even all the way down by the tunnels. I looked down the one I’d chosen. Number Seven. Dark. Cramped. It seemed to stare right back at me in defiance – to dare me to come inside.

I took a deep breath full of dust and stepped in. Right or wrong, all we could do is commit to a course, charge our way through, and hope for the best. It wasn’t long before my druggo and I were in the tunnel past the point where we could see. Stuffed all together with a bunch of other kids.

My lucky streak had gotten us pretty far. The entire escape had been one great big bumbling slapstick cascade toward freedom. So my guess would probably be the best shot we had, right?

At least that’s what I told myself, but honesty, I wasn’t sure anymore. Something didn’t feel quite right, but what could I do? We were heading in there blind. Literally.

“What’s your name?” I said to my druggo, trying to keep him focused.

“Flughjjn.” He mumbled.

“What?” I said.

“Flubhjdf.”

“I didn’t quite catch that.”

“Flutterstrings,” He said at last.

That would explain the guitar cutie mark.

He and I pushed on down tunnel seven. Idle conversation kept him alert and me distracted. Still, inside my own head, I just kept chanting “right tunnel, right tunnel, right tunnel,” as if thinking it would make it so.

“Out, out! Everypony out!” Came a voice from behind.

We all stumbled over ourselves trying to stop.

“Get out, get out, get out. Hurry.”

“What’s wrong?” I called back.

“Wrong tunnel.” He somehow managed to shout and whisper at the same time.

Burrowing through a path of hooves and tails undulating around, my druggo and I burst out.

“How do you know?”

“Look.” He pointed to the smoke from the explosion.

It was wafting all over the place. The dust. The soot. But there was a small current in it. All that air was trying just as hard as we were to get the buck out of the mountain. It seemed to just hang there, but if you stopped and really looked carefully, the dust was drifting down tunnel number two. Slowly but surely.

I’d picked the wrong one.




* * *




We dragged ourselves through the right tunnel for what seemed like an eternity. Ahead there was nothing but darkness. Behind us, more of the same.

Those of us lucky enough to have horns made them glow and lit our paths, but we were mostly an earth pony crowd. Unless you were standing right next to a unicorn, all you could see were eerie rows of glowing flanks and dance-itty shadows.

Flutterstrings was gasping for air most of the time we were in there. He was pushing himself hard. We had nothing to breathe but dust, and after we’d all sucked out the freshest of the tunnel air, there wasn’t anything left to breathe but each others’ stale breath. I was the newbie. The healthiest of the lot. When even I had trouble breathing, I started to really worry about Flutterstrings.

“How much further?” I whispered to the flank in front of me.

No answer.

“Pssst.” I said. “How much further.”

After all the times her tail had whipped me in the face, I felt that, at the very least, she owed me a response.

“I don’t fucking know.”

“Well Flutterstrings,” I coughed. “Can’t breathe.”

“Neither can I.” Hacked the pony in front of me.

“I’m fine.” Said Flutterstrings in a coarse whisper.

“Shhhh!” Said voices both from behind and from the front.

Nopony likes the “are we there yet” kid.

I did my best not to complain. These ponies had it so much worse than I did. To be honest, I was afraid to so much as grunt.

But Flutterstrings was doing real bad. And he got weaker and weaker, he also got heavier and heavier. I really wasn’t up to carrying anypony’s weight all by myself, even if he was skin and bones like the rest of them.

I dragged his stumbly drugged-up self ‘till I was good and stumbly myself. We were packed in so tight that, even as I faltered, the other kids’ steady push forward actually kept me from falling behind. It wasn’t even that they leant a helping hoof and caught my druggo and me. We were more like a slow oozing river. We followed the path and swept each other along.




* * *




I thought about the seventh tunnel. How much worse it would have been if we had gone through all of this, gotten to the end and found nothing but stone. These burrows didn't even have enough room to turn ourselves around.

In my head I saw the cloak-o's storming the hallway, reaching tunnel seven and pulling us out one-by-one, whooping us back into slavery, or worse, just plain sealing us in - leaving us to suffocate in that dark and crowded place.

I looked at what little I could see of the ponies around me - flanks and heads. Peach Cobbler was in here with us, and I couldn’t help but like him. (I mean, we had met because we each mistook the other for enemy slavers - how serendipity-ish is that?) Flutterstrings too. He wasn’t just some druggo. He was my druggo! If I dropped him he’d lie there. If I left him, he’d die. In a short, short time, I had developed a real sense of responsibility for that kid. Like being a big sister almost. I looked all around (as best as I could in the dark). Ponies I knew, ponies I didn't. And I saw sub mine F all over again.




I closed my eyes and trotted on.

What was I thinking?! How could I presume to lead anyone here? How’d I get so full of myself?

I’d forgotten something so basic – so important. 99% of the time what the world really needs is a good background pony.

Like Roseluck had said.

I gasped in a mouth full of mountain gunk. Roseluck!

What would she do if I just went and died in my sleep?!




The thought of ever having to make a dumb luck guess ever again scared the pants off me, (or would have had I been wearing pants). I bit back screams of rage – turned them into grunts as I dragged Flutterstrings.

Damn brain hornets. I thought. That stupid stingy sensation in my head had no problem attacking me with everything it had when Strawberry Lemonade's life was at stake. Mine? A hundred or so Trottica mine kids? Roseluck - the most amazing sister any filly could ever ask for - left all alone in the world? Not a peep.

Fuck you, hornets. Fuck you.

I closed my eyes and kept going, Flutterstrings leaning practically limp all over me. I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to make it, but then the air started to thin out just a little. The subtle current pushing the dust out of the tunnel actually felt kinda cool for a change. I thanked my lucky stars. We were not only nearing the end of the tunnel, but from the taste of the air, slightly closer to the outside of the whole mountain.

Suddenly there was hope.

A minute later, Flutterstrings took a deep breath - started lifting his own hooves rather than dragging them over the ground. The drugs were wearing off, and a little bit of semi-fresh air went a long way.

But just as things were looking up, out of nowhere, the herd just randomly erupted Panic. Shoving from behind.

"Hey watch it!"

"They're coming they're coming! They're coming!"

Like the rumors had washed over the crowd earlier, panic spread across the tunnel from back to front. It started with a push. Then a shove. Then somepony hurled themselves at me, and I, in turn, rammed full speed into the pony in front of me. It’s not even that I wanted to. I did it just to keep myself from falling.

So it all just sort of degenerated into this horrible little panicked shove match. Within seconds, it was total anarchy.

Fear.

Even when our only hope for survival rested on our unity - our friendship – fear still made idiots out of all of us.

So we stampeded.

Some of us clung to our druggos. Others dropped them like bags of turnips.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. In such a short time, so many so-called good ponies turned into total jerk faces. We were supposed to be the good guys here! It’s not like an evil deed somehow gets less evil if nopony can see you do it. Just cause you won’t get called out on it later.

Fucking fear.

As I stopped to grab an extra druggo, I cursed the bastard who'd dropped her. I hated him more than I hated the cloak-o's. I hoped he galloped out of the tunnel straight over the edge of a cliff. I hoped the bottom of the cliff was full of lava. I hoped the lava was full of lava-proof alligators that chomped on him extra-slow-like.

"Run run run run run!" Came a panicked voice behind me.

But there was noplace to run to. Just a bunch of flanks and stomping hooves. After struggling for a while, I finally got hit with one shove too many.

I went down. Flutter went with me. By some miracle, one colt scooped up my second druggo just before getting swept away herself. Off into the flailing madness. Everyone else just sorta kept on going, stumbling ahead, tripping over Flutterstrings and me.




A lot of the hooves that crushed us belonged to kids who just plain couldn't see, and couldn't fight the stampede in time to help. They weren't even being jerks. They just wanted not to be stomped. And yet, the result was still exactly the same. I never thought I'd be kicked in the face twenty times over the course of a single minute, and get fifteen Sorry's for it just as quickly.

My eyes watered. My nose ran like a waterfall. I threw my body over Flutterstrings, and my hooves over my head. We huddled into a nook in the jaggedy stonewall to deflect the worst it, but it really didn’t do any good. The hooves still fell like anvils. It still hurt like fuck.

I cried. I moaned. It was worse than a shot at the doctor. Worse than a crack on the skull from a cloak-o. It hurt more than anything I'd ever felt before. And it just kept on happening.

Pow! Thwack! Oof!

Agony.

It got to the point where I almost hoped that the cloak-o's would come and catch us already just so I could be spared the hooves of my comrades.

I screamed and wailed for it to stop. I actually wanted to die.

Then I suddenly felt cold. Right down to my stomach. At first I thought I was just getting numb from the pain, but then I recognized the feeling from before. That shivering that seemed to go down deeper than my bones. The shadow thing.

I looked up.

No shape. No color. Just vague movement in the inky blackness. Like the spooky stuff you sometimes see in the corner of your eyes. Except that it didn't go away when I blinked. It looked at me head on. Living darkness, as stupid as that may sound.

The shadow thing stood over me. Calm. Unaffected. I knew right away that it wasn't like being back in the basement of the Town Hall – an hour’s worth of paralyzing terror in a single flicker of bad lighting. No. It had all the time in the world, and I was stuck there, cringing under the hammers of a hundred stampeding hooves.

There was no way to fight the cold, no flash of light to scare it off, no friends to pull me away. It was just me and this thing, alone together in the deep, dark black.

It grabbed me by the hoof. I couldn't see it at all anymore, but my whole leg still burned with cold and frost. Then, even as I squeezed my eyes shut, I was smacked in the face with a thousand images.

Children. Screaming. Hiding. Shivering. Great turbines turning. Smoke rising from a chimney - cold smoke. Black as the shadow I'd gotten stuck in.

I could see vials and tubes getting all bubbly like in science class. There was a great big castle perched on a dirty old cloud. Around it everything was as dark and endless as the night sky, but without the stars. The kind of night that would make Luna sad.

Instead there were just shards of ice that seemed to rain down and up and left and right and forward.

From that castle came a sound so piercing – so shrill – that even I could hear it, far away as I was. Screams. Coming from the inside. Worse even than the ones that had scratched at my brain when I first saw the bomb. It was like some kind of pained choir making a sound so terrible that it could curdle milk.

I shut my eyes, but I could still see it, plain as day. I covered my ears, but it did nothing. The sound just made me shiver instead as it trickled up my spine.




* * *




And suddenly, Ponyville. Just like that. Not Jerkland

Ponyville either. The real deal.

Home.

I trembled and looked around. I was back in my old bedroom. I sat there, on the floor, gripping the shaggy red rug, wading through sensations. Impulses. Fears I’d had when I was small.

Greeblies in my closet. Monsters under my bed. They were there. I was sure of it.

Roseluck had always chased those fears away. Or my Mother. She'd kiss me goodnight and banish them all out into the cold. Back into the shadows where they belonged.

But Mom was gone now, and the darkness, whatever it was, could see right through me. It was everywhere I turned. It saw everything I did. It knew how badly I missed my Mom, even though I could barely remember her. It knew how lost I felt. How helpless I was.

The cold ran up my hoof from its totally nasty touch, and it coursed through my leg. Like my veins were full of ice. I could feel its thoughts. It was sniffing around, savoring everything - grabbing a hold of the scent. It was touching my memories. Tasting my feelings.

In a single pang of fear, this shadow thing knew me. It fucking knew me. And now that it had poked around my head a bit, it knew Ponyville too. My Ponyville. The only place in the world I had ever really loved, (even though it could be a little fucked up sometimes).

This entity – this thing - it knew where I lived. And it could follow.

"Stay the fuck away!" I yelled.

But I only got colder. Its lips twisted upward into a smile. It felt like razorblades grinding over a chalkboard.

"You hear me?" I started to cry again. “I said stay the fuck away!”

But I was still on that red shaggedy rug I used to have when I was small – sitting there, screaming at an empty bedroom, wincing at the pain in my hoof. I couldn’t even see the tunnel anymore, or taste the dust that surely had to still be in the air. It was just me and my old bedroom, and the big red door with the rose on it.

“Fuck off!” I sobbed.

There was only silence.




I crept up to the door.

“Roseluck?” I sniffed. My voice felt so squeaky and small.

No answer.

“Hello?”

I couldn’t quite figure out why I expected to see Roseluck there, but when I darted out the door, and suddenly, I was a little kid again, I started to get the idea.

“Rose?” I said, wandering a dark and empty house.

I felt so helpless. So bare.

That was when I remembered. Roseluck had been out in the garden while I was napping, but I was barely older than a foal. I didn't know jack. I thought she had left me forever! Like Dad.

So I paced the house in circles, sniffling and afraid. For what must have been over an hour. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

And this shadowy asshole was chomping on primordial popcorn, watching it happen to me all over again.

“Stop.” I whimpered.

Chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp.

"Stay away!" I screamed, tears running down my cheeks. “Stay the fuck away!”

But its freezing cold claw just dug deeper into me.

I sobbed. The cold was rising up passed my hoof, but I couldn’t pull away. My whole leg burned with it. Soon it was all I could think of. It washed over me. I was so desperate and so afraid.

“Mom, help!” I called out, not even thinking. I just wanted it to stop.




Then, totally out of the blue, the pain was distant again, and I wasn’t alone in the house anymore. It was dark. I could hear machinery, rhythmically bleep’ing away. I knew that sound. The Intensive Care Unit.

"No." I whispered. "Leave her out of this."

But I opened my eyes, and there she was. Mom. Bald. Maneless. Tailless. There was a scratch on her face from falling out of bed the night before. Holding me as a tiny foal, she cried softly.

"I'm so sorry," she said again and again as she clung to me. "I'm so sorry."

I remembered this. The last time I ever saw her alive. Normally I tried not to think about it. And now this shadowy fuck was not only watching, but relishing it.

“I said leave her out of this!” I shouted, but my lips wouldn’t even move.

Instead, I just focused on Mom. I saw her weeping, trying to hide the tears from me. Always worrying. Just like Roseluck. And Cliff Diver. Even Twinkle Eyes had lit into me earlier that day.

"Fuck you, Rose Petal. Don’t you do this to me." I could still hear her little voice tearing me a new one from the other side of the console.




"I'm so sorry." Said my Mother as she stroked my mane and kissed my head. "I'm so sorry."

Mom was afraid of leaving me alone in the world. A fear so powerful I could smell it on her even then. It terrified me so bad I cried. Moms weren’t supposed to be afraid.

But when I sobbed, she sucked it up and used what strength she had to wipe my face clean, even while tears flowed freely from her own sunken eyes. From that moment on, she didn’t make a sound.

She was terrified. The last feeling that my mother ever knew in the whole wide world was fear. Sadness. Anxiety. And it was all cause of me.

"Don't cry." I tried to scream. "I'm the one who's sorry, Mom! I'm the one who's sorry!"

But I couldn't say shit. It was a memory.

And that icy bastard was watching it. Nom'ing on fucking soul popcorn. This was my mother here. My. Mother.

As I lied there on top of her, even in that terrible moment, I would have done anything in the world just to feel her chest rise one more time. But this son of bitch was watching. Getting his jollies tugging on my guilt. Tasting her fear.

My teeth ground together as I growled “No,” raising a trembling hoof.

I shut my eyes and stomped. And then there was only black.

"Fuck off!" I yelled.

The thing stared me down - that stupid abyss - and the whole world felt cold. I could barely hold my eyes open without them burning, but I still wouldn’t look away. This was about Mom.

“You hear me?” I shrieked, teeth chattering, limbs shaking. “Fuck. Off!”

Then I turned back to my mother.




But she was gone. Even with nothing there in front of me, (no medicine smell; no face to try and touch) all I could do was call out for her and hope that somehow, somewhere, she was still out there and could hear me.

“Mommy!" I sobbed. "Don't cry! Please don't cry."

Finally I got kicked in the face one last time by a stampeding pony, and fell back pretty hard.

“I’m sorry.” I whimpered at my memory, still fresh in my mind, but when I opened my eyes, I just saw that Flutterstrings underneath me - moaning and babbling.

I threw myself over him before I could even figure out which way was up and which way was down. I'd failed everypony else. Everypony I tried to help. Everypony who’d ever tried to love me. Even as I heard the rummaging sounds and saw the pale light of distant cloak-o unicorn horns at the tunnel’s entrance, I shielded Flutterstrings. Hunched right over him. It was literally all I could do. Even if it only bought him a couple of seconds.

"Leave him alone!" I shouted.




Then a gentle hoof hooked under my waist and picked me up.

“Whoa, you’re cold.”

I recognized that voice.

“Morning Flower?”

“Rose Petal?”

I smiled at her faintly.

“Come on, come on, come on! We gotta go.”

She hoisted me up and tried to drag me forward, but I winced and dug my hooves into the ground.

“Flutterstrings first.” I groaned.

“I’m fine!” The druggo babbled and rose to his feet.

“He says he’s fine.” Morning Flower looked at me and shrugged.

“And I’m not Flutterstrings, by the way.” The druggo added. “My name is Mushrooooooom.”

He sucked in a ragged breath and coughed it out again.

“I got him.” She rolled her eyes and slung a foreleg around Flutterstrings’ shoulder. “You good?”

She turned to me, and honestly, I wasn’t sure. I looked back down that tunnel. It was gone. It’d carried a piece of me with it. My fears. My memories. My town. It knew me. And one day, it would follow. But it had bailed Tunnel #2.

“Come on!” Said Morning Flower.

And we were off.




I didn’t think I had the strength to walk, let alone run, but I didn’t really have a choice. The cloak-o light from behind us was already closing in. All they had to do was spot us, and they could nab us with their stupid unicorn levitation. When I saw that light, I bolted. Not out of fear.

It was anger.

I’d survived the Priestess, the coup, Stompy’s monstrous lover, a stage performance for the whole town, surrounded by the elite-est of the elite cloak-o guards. I’d looked into the soul of the shadows themselves and found a terror waiting for me there I couldn’t have imagined, and damnit, I survived that jerk too.

I threw my weight on my hooves, busted one and all, cause I refused to get captured there of all places. So near to the end. By some greasy thug who probably smelt like moldy potatoes. (They all do).

No. Just no.

I limped and Morning Flower grabbed Flutterstrings/Mushroooooom, who was already stumbling sturdier than before. The cloak-o’s behind us was gaining, but ahead, I could only make out a tiny pinhole of light – like a star all alone in the sky.

I thought we might even make it to the light, but that hope shattered when we ran into another fallen colt.

Morning Flower and I looked at one another and nodded. It was understood. Better to get caught than to leave somepony on the floor to die. We struggled, we grunted, we lifted him up and draped his weight over our backs.

Morning took the bulk of it, but I could barely stand, so every little pound of weight on my busted hoof made a difference.

They were marching behind us. Stomping in unison like big kettle drums.

DOOM! DOOM! DOOM! DOOM!

It was a sound that went straight into your stomach.

I looked ahead. The light was bigger than a pinhole now - more than a star. I could hear the clamoring sound of ponies on the other end. I closed my eyes and hoped it was our friends, and not a whole other troupe of stupid cloak-o’s waiting for us.

“Run!” I tried to call out to the kids I hoped were on the other side, but my throat felt like it was full of ashes.

I tried not to focus on it. I just pushed myself toward the end.

“There they are!” Came a voice from the outside.

It was so echoy that I could hardly make it out.

“Go, go, go, go, go!” Shouted Morning.

She was yelling more at the opening than at me. If there were kids on the other end, and we hadn’t gotten captured, they needed to get the buck out of there! The cloak-o’s were on our tail.

I threw myself into a proper trot. Broken hoof be damned. Sharp daggers of pain shot up my leg, and I screamed like a baby. It felt like an icicle was stabbing me with every step. I cried, and cried, and cried, and cried, and cried. But I didn’t dare to stop. I was surging with raw energy.

“There they are!” Came a gravelly voice from behind.

“Ow, fuck! Ow, fuck! Ow, fuck! Ow, fuck! Ow, fuck!” The battle cry of the wounded.

We hit the end of the tunnel and just sort of stumbled and flopped forward on to the ground. It was so bright I couldn’t see a thing.




I felt a violent tugging at my tail. Levitation magic. They’d spotted me. I started to get dragged back.

“No, no, no!” I dug my hooves into the dirt.

Before I could even make sense of what was happening, though, somepony else threw themselves on top of me, crammed my head onto a jaggedy rock on the ground, and pinned me to the ground.

Even with my eyes shut and thrust into the dirt, I could tell that that bright room chose that exact moment to get even brighter. Above me, came a hundred thousand loud noises all at once.

I threw my hooves over my head and sobbed. “Leave us alone!”

But it just kept going, and going, and going. I screamed the whole time. I couldn’t take it anymore.




Finally after a long and terrifying while, it was silent. The air stank of smoke. Sulfur. And I was huddled there, pinned to the ground. A hoof grabbed me firmly by the shoulder.

I squirmed, and cringed, and shielded my face with clumsy hooves. It was all I had the energy to do.

“Happy to see you too, you fucking mook.”

“Twinkle?”

I flopped over to my side, and tried to look up at her and make sense of what had happened, but she already had me in a crippling death hug.

She laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and somewhere in all that, broke into heaving sobs.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? You worried the fuck outta me, you cockgoblin!”

She hit me lightly and started laughing again.

I couldn’t look her in the eye though. I was so ashamed.

“I wasn’t trying to worry you.” I said.

Great, now I’m crying again too.

Above us, out of nowhere, I heard some more of those rapid banging noises.

Ratatatatatatatatatat!

“Yipe!” I said.

“Do you fucking mind?” Said Twinkle, sitting up. “Fucking friendship going on over here.”

Misty Mountain stood over us, draped head to hoof in the priestess’ jewels, and rigged with a giant metal ratatatatat-a-majig. It was some kinda battle saddle, (yeah, I know, I really gotta work on coming up with better nicknames for things). It was way too big for Misty, but he levitated it over himself pretty steady. I don’t know how he could stand it, though. The damn thing was burning hot just to be near.

Twinkle looked up at him.

“You got shells in my mane, you kielbasa-eating douchebag.”

She reached into her magenta hair and hucked a hoof full of metal at him.

“Geef to me pony!” Misty laughed.

I could feel myself suddenly yanked off the ground by an odd tingly floating sensation. Twinkle too. Then crunch. Giant bear hug.

I yelped loud enough for the whole mountain to hear me. My poor ribs.

“Are you okay? Are you okay?” Said Misty.
He put me down easy, but the whole standing thing just wasn’t working out for me. My legs weren’t ready for it.

Twinkle caught me as I fell.

“I’m fine! I’m fine!” I said, brushing myself off, forcing myself up on shake-itty knees.

I was sobbing though, and therefore, not doing a very good job of convincing anypony that I was, in fact, fine. I didn’t exactly want to be sobbing, but what could I do? It fucking hurt.

“Yuh-huh.” Said Flutterstrings/Mushroom sarcastically as he stumbled passed us, wandering aimlessly around.

Twinkle looked me up and down. I was in pretty bad shape. I clutched my chest and moaned. I wasn’t sure which hurt more. My ribs or the hoof I rubbed them with. It throbbed like a bad tooth.

Twink shook with anger at the sight of me. She was so mad she actually found herself at a loss for curse words and colorful metaphors. “Those mother….mother…mother”

“Actually. It wasn’t the cloak-o’s.” I coughed. “These--;”
I meant to point at the crowd, but ended up just gawking at the herd of kids around us. I had to stop and blink just to make sure I saw what I thought I saw.

“What the?”

Children everywhere. Not just Cobbler and his gang, not just my friends from the cage room, not just a carriage’s worth of stumbling druggos. Hundreds of us. Everywhere! Fillies and colts who’d escaped from nooks and crannies of that mountain that we didn’t even know were there. All of them crowded with us in this great big old cavern.

There were too many. It was impossible. There were just too many!

I finally managed to raise my busted hoof and point slack-jawed at the crowd. When they saw it though, my friends fell silent.

“How deed dat happen?” Misty said.

The color ran from his face.

“How did wha-?” I got a good look at my hoof and shrieked.

It wasn’t broken. It was black. I held the throbbing thing up to my face. The entire tip was dark as night, but little inky ashy tendril-y bits were reaching upward. Like the discoloration had been trying to work its way up my leg, but got stuck where it was.

Twinkle reached out to touch my hoof.

“It’s freezing!” She said.

Misty’s eyes slowly widened.

He grabbed me by the shoulder, his stare drilling holes into my eyeballs. “Where you get dees?”

I shrugged. I wanted to tell him. This, after all, was the pony who’d been dream-pocalypse traveling presumably longer than I had. The pony who didn’t want to talk about it. The guy who made lame excuses every time I tried to get an answer out of him. Now he was pressing me for information. It was unnerving. What did the black hoof mean? What did he know? I had a thousand questions, but couldn’t think of a thing to say.

“My hoof is black.” I muttered at last.

“What happened?” Said Misty.

“What the fuck?” Added Twinkle.

I thought back to the encounter with the shadow thing. Even if I had wanted to tell them everything – even if I thought that it wouldn’t freak them out – that this was the sort of thing that happened all the time - even if they’d had a magical antidote for blackhoof that they could have given me - thinking back on my meeting with that bucking thing, I couldn’t come up with any words to describe what had happened. I just remembered how awful it had felt to be so afraid - to feel so helpless in the face of my mother’s suffering. To feel so guilty.

I couldn’t say it out loud. Just thinking about it - even a little bit - made me feel all that shame and fear all over again.

“I-I-stepped in some ink.” I said.

“You fucking liar.” Said Twinkle. She turned to Misty. “What’s going on? You know something, you asshole.”

She hit him.

“Cold is bad.” Was all he said.

“I’m fine!” I shouted, but it didn’t matter.

The two of them started bickering like a married couple. As I watched them, I smiled. We may not have been safe. We may have been stuck in that stupid mountain. We may have had terrible ponies waiting ahead of us, or tracking us from behind. But when I saw Misty and Twinkle Eyes come together to argue, I cried with a smile on my cheeks twenty miles wide.

I wasn’t alone anymore.

Author's Note:

NOTE: It's been almost one year since I first published Chapter 1, and here we are, almost done with Rose's first adventure. While there is an ambitious, broader story arc that will span several "Books," I'm really gonna try to get the end of "Book One" out to you guys by the one year anniversary. Wish me luck! Thanks for reading!

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.
https://www.patreon.com/sprocketwriting

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. /]*[\

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

Book: Apple Cider for the Brony Soul book project. http://www.bronyapplecider.com

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

Special Thanks to Longbottle for your tireless patience and keen editing advice.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!