• Published 1st Mar 2013
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Fallout: Equestria Rise from the Ashes - Nightrein



A name. The most integral thing to anypony; even when the Wasteland leaves nothing left of you, you always have your name. After a brutal attack, one stallion awakes to find even that is lost to him. Can he survive on the one lead he has to his past?

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Chapter 1 - The World on Fire

Chapter 1 - The World on Fire
“Burning hoof… oh, that means Littlepip is watching me.”

Burning.

It’s the earliest I can remember. I was burning. I could see flames everywhere, shrouding my body, consuming me. I felt the pain of flesh being incinerated and turned to ash. Smoke filled my lungs, causing me to feel as though as was also burning from within. Outside the ring of fire was pure darkness, a stark black emptiness that threatened to swallow my soul if I left my tormenting ring of flames.

It was an odd sensation. The fire charred my body, and I was in more pain than I’d ever felt before. At least, I’d hoped so. I couldn’t remember anything. But for as much as it hurt, I also felt… good. When I noticed, I stopped screaming; I hadn’t realized I was screaming until then. It felt so surreal when I began to think about it, trying to stave off the agony with the new sensation. It was as if, for every ounce of pain I felt, for every tendon of muscle and flesh that was cremated, the flames also burned away at my distress. It felt like the fire was taking away my old pain and replacing it anew, as if it were burning away at my sins and wrongs so I could start again. This fire was cleansing me. Of what, I couldn’t be sure, as that was when I woke up.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

“Easy now, easy!” A voice cooed as I sat up screaming again. Where the hell was I? Who just said that? Why was I layered in blankets when I was on fire? Oh… I wasn’t on fire, was I? “Easy, you’re okay. You’re just fine.”

“What’s… huh?” I managed to spit out. “Who… where… what happened to me…” I kept asking, almost incoherent in my speech.

“Well, as for what happened to you, ya got lucky,” the voice spoke. I slowly turned my head to see who it was. Huge mistake on my part. My head hurt, and it hurt something awful; like someone had driven a sizeable chunk of metal right into my skull. “Not many ponies survive so much lead.” Well, I was pretty close, wasn’t I?

“I survived… what?” Boy, I was certainly a master of conversation. But I couldn’t think of anything better to ask, what with just having a bullet or two tearing through my brain. I had an excuse.

“Yep, four bullets got stuck in yer noggin,” the stallion tapped a hoof to his head as he said it, “and several dozen all over the rest of ya. Now, I got all of ‘em out, but there’s something that concerns me about how I found ‘em.”

You mean there was something worse than finding lead in my skull? “What was wrong?” I asked, pleased to finally manage a solid question.

“There was a lot of blood in that there head o’ yours, let alone the rest of ya. You looked like a target dummy when you was brought in. I’d think anypony would’a died from blood loss alone, let alone loss of brain tissue and bone fragmentation. I ain’t sayin’ it’s a bad thing, but… how did you possibly live through it?”

“Maybe you’re just that good of a doctor,” I offered, grinning a bit. Hey, the bullets didn’t take away my sense of humor! Sweet!

“Yea,” the stallion said grimly, then turned away, “but I don’t think I’m this good.” As he got up, I got a good look at him. He was rather average in size, if not a little on the thin and elderly side. His orange hide bore a pair of crutches on each flank, and his yellow mane and tail each were starting to turn gray. The doctor turned back towards me with what appeared to be an x-ray image of a pony skull. It was bathed in a yellow glow from his magic, and his deep amber eyes looked into mine. “Care to explain?”

“Explain what?” I asked. “It’s a pony’s skull, right?”

“Not just anypony’s skull, yours,” the buck replied. “This was taken about an hour ago. Notice anything?” Not really. It was just what I said it was, an average pony… skull…

“It’s not all shot up,” I answered, slightly bewildered. But… didn’t he say I’d just gotten my head perforated? Along with the rest of me?

“Exactly. I’m completely stumped on just how you managed to heal so quickly, from mortal wounds no less. Do you have an explanation for it?” Explanation? I didn’t remember my own name, let alone why I had crazy healing powers! “Granted you’re willing to share, of course. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

I sighed. “Sorry, doc,” I told him, “I have no clue. About anything, honestly…”

“Come again?” He tilted his head curiously.

“I don’t remember anything… I mean, I knew what that X-ray was. I know what most of the stuff in this room is, in fact. But… I can’t remember who I am, doctor. Name, past, anything at all. It’s all gone...”

The scrawny buck hissed in what I could only read as contempt as he looked over at the glass jar on the rolling table next to the bed I was on. Inside were what appeared to be the bullets that got stuck in my brain. Ooh, even had a little blood left on them, how nice. “Just like I thought…” he muttered got up off his haunches.

“Do you know what’s wrong?” Oh, please know how to fix me!

“Yea, I know,” he muttered. Well, that was a good sign. “And you’re pretty much fucked,” he added on. Of course, of course I was. “Pardon my language.”

“So… I’m stuck without memories? Like, for life?”

“Well… I don’t know. But what I guess happened was – and this is only a guess – when your brain patched itself up, the parts of tissue that died took the memories with ‘em. And I don’t rightly know what to do ‘bout that,” he said solemnly. “I’m sorry.”

“Hey,” I tried to cheer him up, which was curious seeing as I was the one who just got his memories wiped via bullets, “you saved my life. You’ve done a hundred times more for me than I probably deserved.”

“Oh? And what makes you say that?” Hum. I didn’t really know what to say to that. I had to sit there a moment and think. Damn, I didn’t like getting outsmarted by my doctor. Well, no room to complain I suppose. If he was dumber than me, why would I want him screwing with my brain?

“Well, somepony wanted me dead. Or for this to happen, take your pick. I must’ve gotten them pissed somehow, and I doubt it was from being a nice pony.” I finally responded.

“Oh, you’d be surprised to know how often that’s the reason. The sun may be shinin’, but the people are just as dark as the cloud layer was. Especially them Enclavers, they ain’t none too happy ‘bout losin’ their homes and havin’ to cooperate with us surface folk.” Cloud layer? Enclavers? I faintly remembered a wasteland, one I lived in. But the image was the most I could conjure out of my busted mind. This really sucked…

“Wait… why did you help me?” I asked, finally coming to the realization that I could easily be a captive to this pony. My brain felt like it was running on sludge, but as I started thinking, my situation got less and less desirable.

“’Cause you were hurt,” he answered. Catching my ‘You-know-what-I-meant’ look, he sighed. “Really, though. When Skydive brought you in, you were bleedin’ something terrible and had a few holes in your head, not to mention everywhere else. And I’m not the type to leave a body where it lies if it can still be saved.”

“Really?” I asked with a skeptical tone.

“Really.”

“Well, thanks for being nice. I’d sure rather be mentally blurred than dead out… where, exactly?”

“This here’s New Trottingham,” The doctor said, checking my temperature with some bizarre apparatus. “You got all shot up a little ways outside.”

“And... do you know who shot me?”

“No clue. Never seen them around here before. They ran off before Sky went and brought you in.” He put a stethoscope to my chest, and pulled it away after he was satisfied. Wait… how did I know what a stethoscope was? “Well, no sense in keeping you in bed forever. Think you’re ready to stand?”

“As I’ll ever be…” I turned over in the bed and set my hooves on the floor. Ooooh, that was my head… but my legs stood strong under me.

“Good. Take it easy, but that’s good.” The doctor encouraged me.

“Uh, Doc,” I muttered, gritting my teeth at the monster headache bucking me in the face, “you’ve been on your hooves the whole time.”

“Yea, but I can safely say I’ve never had bullets put through my legs before tryin’,” he grinned casually at me. “Anything painful specifically?”

“Ugh… are you sure they shot me? It feels like they took turns winding up and bucking me in the face… there were about a hundred of them, right? Feels about a hundred…” I responded, lifting my left foreleg to cover my head.

“Having a headache after getting shot in the skull? Never would’a thought,” the doctor said sarcastically, grabbing a vial of… something. “Drink this if you can,” he levitated it to me.

“Headache medicine,” I said, drinking the whole jar down and immediately feeling the relief. “Glorious.” The doctor chuckled and glanced at the door.

“See if you can take a step to the door. Slowly now, ain’t a race.”

“Challenge accepted,” I said with a laugh as I trotted toward the door. Walking felt much easier after dulling that drilling migraine I had. I stopped when the door was in front of me and turned back to face him.

“Good, good. Tell me if you feel any pain anywhere,” the doctor said. I didn’t, save the dull throbbing still in my head; I felt great! I took a few brisk steps forward and took a leap toward the bed I’d been on.

“Not a thing, Doc,” I grinned at him.

“Well, that’s good. I’d expected as much, them shots never hit any of your bones, save your skull.” Ouch, killjoy much?

“Um…” a small voice came from the door. The doctor and I turned to look at her unanimously. “I’ll check back later,” she said quickly and turned to close the door.

“Oh, no, Ice Pack, what’s on your mind? Something you need?” Doc called back to her. The small navy blue filly turned back around, looking a bit worried.

“Oh, nothing, it’s just, um…” she muttered and scratched at the wood floor, not lifting her gaze from it. “I thought you might, y’know… the people in town, and…”

“The people in town? What… oh, Celestia save me, I forgot!” The doctor began to rush towards the door before stopping to address me, “Oh, some important business has come up; I’ll be back in a short while. You’re free to roam around as you wish. No sense in keeping you penned in here. Get to know Ice Pack and Skydive while you’re at it!”

With that, the doctor was gone. I heard him half-gallop down a hallway and out another door. “Well… pretty busy guy, huh?” I said to nopony in particular. Then I noticed the small filly still in the doorway. “Uh, hi there,” I said, startling her into turning around. She bumped into the doorframe as she did, and I couldn’t stifle a laugh. She looked up at me for a moment, after which her gaze dropped instantly to the floor yet again.

“I, uh… hi,” she practically whispered.

“Ice Pack, right?”

“Um… yea…”

“So… anything interesting to do?” She muttered something now entirely unintelligible as a response. I just sighed and shook my head.

“S-sorry, I m-mutter when I’m s-scared,” the navy filly looked back up at me, teal eyes looking me over my body, but never into my own eyes. Apparently the rest of me looked good enough though. Much as I trust the silent judgment of a random filly that can’t make eye contact, not to mention whom I woke up in a random house without memory to, I decided I’d really like to see a mirror. Specifically, myself in it.

The one in the far corner of the room looked fitting enough. Full-body sized. As I stepped in front of it, I took stock of my features. A bit tall, maybe four and a half feet; charcoal coat and slightly darker mane, save for a single red stripe curving to follow the curve my mane. Similar red stripes could be found around each of my hooves, but these in a wavy pattern. My eyes were a deep navy blue, a darker shade of the filly that now walked up beside me.

“S-sorry if I s-seem a bit of a s-scardeypony,” she stammered.

“Sorry if I’m all that scary,” I gave her a small smile. “So, is there anything really to do around here while I wait for the doctor to come back?”

“Y-you could talk to Sky. She’s always real n-nice to me. She should be up in her room upstairs,” Ice Pack replied.

“Well, let’s go say hi then.” Ice Pack just nodded and led me out the door. The house was entirely hardwood flooring; the stairs were no different. If somepony dropped a lantern in this house, it’d be done for. Wood here, wood there, and a bunch of wood everywhere. The second floor was a practical mirror of the first, but where the kitchen and whatever room I was in would’ve been were bedrooms instead. The one over the kitchen was Ice Pack’s, since she led me into the one over the room I woke up in. She knocked twice.

“Yea,” a mare’s voice came from inside. Skydive sounded a lot older than the filly I was with.

“’S’me,” Ice Pack responded. The door slowly opened, revealing the sky-blue pegasus who owned the previous voice.

“Heya, Icy, what’s-” she cut herself off when she saw me.

“Uh, hi,” I said and waved a hoof. The pegasus looked down at the filly, then back up at me. Her stare was hard, like she was trying to drill me through with it. Her eyes returned to Ice Pack, but her look softened.

“Hey, now what’d I say about bringing everypony the doctor heals up to my room?” Her voice was incredibly soft. The small filly still looked down, too shy to hold anypony’s gaze.

“S-sorry, Sky, I-I didn’t mean… I forgot, and…” Skydive just brushed her mane with a wing.

“It’s okay, it’s okay. How about you take the, “she looked up at me for a moment with the hard glare before finishing, “…nice… stallion back downstairs. I’m sure he needs some rest.”

“Actually, I’d asked her to bring me. Thought I’d say hello, y’know, and thanks for saving my life?” I told Skydive. She drove her hard stare into my eyes. Hers were a deep violet color, and her mane was a brilliant cobalt color. It lay out behind her in a smooth wave.

“Oh. Hello then,” she said, her voice indistinguishable between contempt and respect. Whatever the case, she certainly seemed dead set against me, and I had no idea why. Then again, I had no idea of anything. Life just kinda sucks that way. “Well, the state you were in when I brought you here, I suggest you get some rest while the doctor is out. Can you take him back downstairs, Icy?”

“Uh… yea…” Ice Pack tugged on my leg and walked back towards the stairs. Skydive motioned me to follow her. I sighed and turned away.

“Just lookin’ for something to do while the doc is out. Told me ‘feel free to roam’ anyway, but sorry to bother you,” I told Skydive. She didn’t respond. I turned back to face her again and asked, “Was I really that bad?”

“Yea,” she said, curiously in the same soft tone she spoke to Ice Pack with. She closed the door before I could ask more. It seems like I judge people by the tone of their voice, I don’t know why, but with all the different ways I just heard Skydive talk to me, I had no idea what to assume about her. She sounded like she hated me, respected me, and was afraid of me all at once.

“Yea… should’a seen what you did to the other guy, though…” Ice Pack said, interrupting my thought. It was the first thing I’d heard her say out loud, not just an under-her-breath mutter. Apparently, Sky noticed it too.

“Ice Pack!” Sky said, whipping open her door again. I knew that voice, don’t ask me how, as shock. The full spectrum of emotions, this pegasus was.

“Oh, I thought out loud again, didn’t I… I-I’m sorry, Sky, I didn’t mean-”

“Why… what would make you say that, Icy?” Skydive wasn’t using the same soft tone as usual, and Ice Pack looked scared.

“I-I was just thinking, and… you know how that happens… I’m so sorry,” she looked on the verge of tears. I stepped forward to break up whatever was going on, I wasn’t going to have a little filly crying because I asked her to show me this crazy Skydive mare, but then she extended a hoof and pulled Ice Pack into a hug.

“It’s okay, Icy, I know, I’m sorry I yelled,” she said, hushing the filly. I relaxed a little as the scene calmed down. Though, I did feel kind of bad now, as said scene was mostly my fault.

“If you don’t mind me askin’, what exactly did I do to the ‘other guy’?” If it was bad, this would explain why Skydive seemed so… off… around me. I must’ve knocked him for a loop before he cheated and pulled a gun on me. Yea, that’s probably what happened.

“Who knows, the body was pr-” Skydive shut Ice Pack’s mouth with a wing before she could finish. But, wait… body? I killed somepony? Well, that’d explain why I got shot in my face for sure.

“Ice Pack!” Skydive yelled, making the filly shrink back away from her. Sky opened her mouth to say more, but just sighed and closed it before turning to face me. “You wanted something to do? Roam around? Fine. Follow me. We’re going for a walk.”

* * *

Stepping out into the sun for the first (in my memory’s) time was a rather unpleasant experience. First, I was blinded by the sheer brightness of its light pouring directly into my eyes. A moment later, while rubbing my shuttered and wounded eyes with a hoof, the heat of it struck me like a hammer. The air cooling talisman in the doctor’s house sure had its work cut out for it. Air cooling talisman… why… oh, Celestia damn my stupid memory and its stupid selectiveness!

After I regained the use of my eyes, if only by squinting, I started to follow Skydive. The town we were in was rather modern looking. Should be, if the doc had an X-ray machine. But it wasn’t so much the buildings of the town that caught my attention, but the citizens. Not one of them moved, not one of them blinked, not one of them spoke. They all stood or sat where they were, having evidently dropped what they were doing, and stared.

At me.

I kept following Skydive, and looked around at everypony as we trotted out. If we ever got too close to somepony, they shrank back; in the case of one young colt, took off in a full-fledged gallop. Ice Pack had mentioned a body I left behind, and Skydive had hushed her like it was some secret, a skeleton in the closet. Big secret, every single pony in this town knew.

Every single pony in this town hated me. And I was denied the memory why. Only the doctor seemed to bother about trying to look like he cared about me, and that could easily be some clever ruse. I was forty-five minutes into my life, and I hated it already.

This was going to be fun.

* * *

The sun kept shining its fierce, harsh light down on us. I really hated that damned thing. I focused all of my loathing at it, hoping that some of the heat would get sent back. Futile, but a nice way to keep myself occupied. A distraction from the only other two things to think about; walking, and how hot it was.

“What’s going on?” Skydive asked for the umpteenth time. I swore to Luna, if she asked one more time…

“Same as the last time you asked,” I mustered a voice that sounded only moderately annoyed, “now will ya quit?”

“Sun must’ve really gotten to you,” she said with a snicker, “glare at it any longer and you’ll go blind for real this time.” I simply sighed and looked forward. How far out had she come to get me, anyway? Looking back, I could barely see New Trottingham from here!

“Are we almost there?” I asked.

“Almost.” Skydive flew ahead of me a bit. She looked neither tired nor affected by the heat. “Yea I can see it. About… oh, a hundred yards maybe.” I secretly hoped her wings hurt as bad as my hooves. Lucky pegasus…

We walked the last ‘hundred yards’ incredibly slowly. It felt more like a hundred miles. Honestly, how could it be this hot? One look at the ‘body’ Ice Pack mentioned, though, left me with no complaints.

“Sweet Celestia…” I muttered. The land around it was charred and the body nothing but blackened bones and ashes. A small revolver laid near the pony’s skull. Oh, for Pete’s sake, why did I know what a revolver was? Stupid defective brain…

“Yea. My thought’s exactly,” Skydive spoke, yet another tone of voice added to her list. She was furious, and scared. “So, tell me: what the fuck did you do?” Well, fury was certainly overriding anger now.

“Wha… I did this? This?” I reiterated with a wave of my hoof. It looked like Celestia herself pissed liquid fire on this poor corpse, and Skydive thought it was me? Wait… no… not just her… all of New Trottingham. The whole town; all of them heard about it. That’s why everypony avoided me like I had Cutie Pox! (Again, brain? Seriously? I don’t even know what that disease is!) Well, obviously it was the sun that baked this poor guy after I… offed him, somehow. I’d just explain…

Unless there’s a gun to my head. “Wha ih yoo oo?” Skydive repeated through the pistol in her mouth. Her tongue was practically pulling the trigger already. Something was off about this whole scene… well, aside from the emotionally confused pegasus trying to kill the memory-less earth pony. If I had to guess, she wasn’t actually going to shoot me. If she did, she’d just have the doctor patch me up again. Her eyes didn’t read ‘killer’ at the moment. Oh, great, I was reading eyes now too.

“You seriously think it was me? I just turned this pony into a skeletal pile of ashes on my own? You… how could you even see to here from the town? I certainly can’t see the town from here, and unless you’ve got a high-end telescope or binoculars just layin’ around…” I trailed off as she spat the pistol onto her wing, letting the wingtip curve around the trigger. Could she even fire it like that? …Did I really want to find out?

“How did we see you?” Sky repeated angrily. “Probably because you were lit up like a fucking candle! Suddenly there’s a massive ball of fire on the outskirts of town, and a hell of a lot of gunfire in the same direction? I flew out here as fast as I could to see what the hell was going on, only to find you bleeding out your skull and this poor son of a bitch’s bones still burning! When him and his buddies were at the bar no one had a Flamer on them, and nopony would bother to just carry yours away with them, so what the flying fuck did you do!?”

Did I mention she sounded incredibly adorable when she yelled? It was like listening to an angry butterfly. So fragile, so angry… but what she’d said hit me like a train. “They… you said they were in town?” The question set Skydive aback, realizing she let something slip she apparently wasn’t supposed to. “In town? What happened to ‘never seen ‘em before’? You all weren’t just hiding this shit from me, you were lying to me!?”

“No shit! How do you expect-”

“Enough!” A thunderous voice cut off whatever Sky was about to say. It nearly made me jump ten feet in the air, too! “Enough Skydive. The boy just got shot, there’s no need to pester him this way. And, don’t point a gun at him with the safety on,” the doctor added. So, now I knew why the whole scene felt off. Wait… did he just tell her to make sure she can actually shoot me? Great, thanks.

Skydive flushed and extended her wing out to give the stallion the gun. “Curiously enough, when did you notice us, Doctor?” How did she not suffer from emotional whiplash with the way her voice changed? Now she was on respect again. A sweeter voice, but not quite as adorable.

“When my patient went missing,” he responded, levitating the gun into a holster on his right foreleg. “What have I said about taking my things?”

“Say please?” She fluttered her eyelashes and gave him a wide smile. His stern expression remained unchanging. Sky let out a long sigh before amending, “Always remember to ask and tell, for thieving ponies shall burn in Hell.” Damn, that was a depressing way to think.

Now the doctor’s expression softened a bit. “Hmm…” he looked over at me, then at the ash covered skeleton. “I think some good may come of this little trek out here after all. Does the name Dune Thrash mean anything to you?” Dune Thrash? I didn’t know my name, let alone… unless…

“That’s my name, isn’t it?” The doc casually lifted one eyebrow at the question. “So, what else are you hiding from me,” my voice was rising as I spoke, “and what the hell’d you do to me? Huh?”

“I pulled a bunch of lead out of your skull after young Skydive here brought your half-dead body into my office. Poor Ice Pack’s still tryin’ to get the blood outta the rug,” the doctor responded, calm and collected. “Now, I’ve had some words with much of the town to stop treatin’ you like a wild hellhound, but it seems I must’ve forgotten somepony,” he gave a glare to Skydive, who looked like a hurt puppy. “Well?”

“Wha… you know that he-”

“Sky…” Damn, the doc had her wrapped around his horn like a ring. She didn’t even raise her voice when she tried to argue. I silently wondered how he was able to command that level of respect from her; silently only because I was still a bit pissed for such a casual question.

“I’m sorry,” she muttered nearly unintelligibly. Despite my anger, it was simply so damn amazing to watch Skydive change. One second ago, she was a crazy, screaming, vulgar, murderous psycho that was about to shoot me in the head. Well, she was bluffing about that, but no less. Now she was humble and, if only mildly, polite in front of the doctor. It made me want to laugh. But I didn’t, not now.

“You knew,” I spat angrily, “you knew them, and you knew me, but you decided to lie about it.” All I wanted was a name. Well, several names and a place to find them, but that’d be asking a bit much I assume. “Why?”

“Sorry to say I don’t know ya, stranger,” Doc said. Celestia damn him, I could see the sincerity in his eyes. “And I still believe I don’t. As per that gang what was in town, the only name our bartender caught was Dune Thrash’s. Unfortunately, he seems to be,” he waved a hoof at the bones, “unavailable.”

“Wait,” my mind still felt like sluggish, like it was working on sludge power, “if that’s Dune Thrash, then who…”

“Like he said,” Sky cut me off, “we don’t know you. All we know is that you-” the doc cut her off with another glare. I needed to know that trick.

“Now, I’m about sick of baking out here,” Doc wiped his brow with a hoof, “what say we head back before we all die of heat stroke.” A bit more calm now, I couldn’t agree more.

* * *

Nopony flinched at me when we came back into town. A young filly even went so far as to offer me a bottle of water, earning her a disappointed glance from her mother. I took it and gave her my thanks before guzzling half the bottle in one go. This got me a smile from the doctor and an eye roll from Sky.

I quickly learned that the townsfolk still didn’t like me. They would tolerate me, but they wouldn’t particularly enjoy my presence in town. Well, one step at a time, I suppose. As we entered the doctor’s office, the cool rush of an air cooling talisman washed over me. Praise the Goddesses, technology was wonderful!

“Now, for as much as I’ve said to them,” the doc – whose name I finally learned to be Crutches, like his cutie mark implied – began to explain as we all sat down, “the majority of the town still wants you gone I’m afraid.” Meh, I suppose I couldn’t blame them. Or maybe I could, and the heat was messing with my already busted brain. Or there might’ve been something in that water… “I can keep you here for tonight, but after that you’ll have to leave. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Skydive and I spoke in unison. She gave me a curious glance, and I a rather put out one to her. Crutches just sighed and shook his head.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Ohshitohshitohshit! I was on fire again! And it really didn’t feel good this time! The flames singed my mane and tail, and ate away at my hide. It was all I could do to run away. I had to get away from this fire! I was screaming again as I galloped, and I spotted the charred remains of Dune Thrash lying in front of me.

What the fuck did you do!?

The flames erupted in a wall in front of me; Then again behind me, and twice more on either side. I was boxed in, nowhere to run anymore. I could only sit there. Sit and burn.

“They want you dead,” I heard a horribly raspy voice say. I opened my mouth, but I couldn’t make any words come out. Of course I couldn’t…

“It’s all they want. You. Dead. Gone,” the voice repeated. If that was true, why did they save me? “Save you?” Okay, crazy psycho voice heard my thoughts. Grand, just grand.

“Of course I hear them, I’m you after all.” What? Wait, actually though, what the hell? “Hell… does this feel like it to you? Does it hurt?” Well no shit, I’m on fire! The scratchy voice sighed and spoke with a disappointed tone, “My how you’ve fallen… but you will remember yourself, in time. Will you survive that long?” Before I could say… think, whatever… anything else, the fire vanished. Now I was falling through empty darkness, just me and Dune Thrash’s bones. Skydive’s angry butterfly voice echoed again: What the fuck did you do!?

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Cold! Very, very fucking cold! Sweet Celestia, I was just on fire! Why am I now a pony-shaped chunk of ice!? My body was going to explode from temperature shock at this rate!

“Doctor!” Skydive’s voice rang out. She was standing over me, holding me in the tub of ice water I just woke up in. I stopped flailing a minute as she tried to calm me down. Doc Crutches trotted in and grabbed something off the countertop.

“Hold still now, easy” he cooed as he held some kind of device to my forehead. After a moment it gave a soft beep and he levitated it close to him. “Oh, Sky, get him out of there. I think he’s starting to freeze.” Ya think!?

“Sorry,” Skydive said as she quit pinning me. I slowly rose out of the tub, soaking wet and clueless. The doctor floated me a towel to dry off with.

“What happened,” I asked as I dried out my mane. Friction helped me to warm back up again. After I dried off my face, I noticed they were both looking at me. Both confused, both just staring… at my mane? “Uh… do I look that good?”

“You see it too, doctor?” Skydive broke from her stare to ask.

“Yep… question is… what’re we lookin’ at?”

* * *

Going back to sleep was out of the question. If what had happened was sleep related, that was a no-go. According to the doc, in my sleep I’d started to get feverish. Over a while, my body temperature kept climbing. I’d reached 115 degrees before they put me in that tub of ice.

And I’d woken up in a tub of water. Sky said my mane had changed color during that time; that the red stripe became a glowing orange, and the marks around my hooves had done the same. When I’d woken up, the glow had slowly faded back to its natural deep red. They had been watching the change as I’d dried myself off and warmed up.

Speaking of which, I was still warming up. And I wasn’t cold anymore. I could feel myself continuously heating up, and it wasn’t stopping. Every moment, it got worse. I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d spontaneously combust and leave a me-shaped pile of ashes where it happened.

But that was my problem now. Everypony wanted me out. Gone. So I was leaving, and I was leaving now. Ice Pack gave a soft smile as I walked to the door. I swear I could hear her mutter “I’m sorry” as I went.

“Hold up!” I heard Doc Crutches shout as I pushed the door open with my hoof. He came at a half-gallop down the hall to meet me, a pair of saddlebags in his telekinesis. That, and… something I didn’t recognize. Hallelujah, my brain didn’t know something that wasn’t just my name! Take that, broken brain!

“This was yours… I assume…” he said between gasps. Age had seriously caught up with the old stallion. As he moved the saddlebags over to me, I noticed that they were emblemized with my cutie mark: a wisp of fire over a stylized X. He levitated the other mystery object over to me. “And I think you should have this.”

“What is it?” I asked as I set the saddlebags on my back.

“It’s called a Pipbuck,” he said as he levitated my left foreleg up a ways. He proceeded to clamp it around the leg, and I felt the ice-cold metal machine provide a little relief to my internal heating issue. “I grew up in a stable, see? We all had one of these. It’s a wonder of a convenience, but it’s honestly just collectin’ dust in here. Since you’re gonna be out there on your own, and all, I figure you need it more.”

My vision flooded with a plethora of images and data. A compass showed up in the lower left corner of my vision as well as a small bar above it, reading “Health”, and another to the right reading “AP”.

“Ah, it’s just settin’ up. If you’ll notice, it shows ya how injured you are, and what direction you’re facing. It has a million uses, but I’m afraid I can’t explain ‘em all. Not enough time...” he sounded angry as he spoke.

“I put a user’s manual in your saddlebags,” Skydive jumped in the conversation as she stepped down the hall. “A copy of Ditzy’s guide as well, and a few potions for the road.”

“Uh, thanks,” I managed to sound like I’d paid attention; I couldn’t just ignore all the notices and such things flashing in my vision. So I simply demonstrated my mastery over language again.

“I might suggest ya start readin’ right away,” Crutches murmured as he too walked back down the hall. Ice Pack must’ve slipped away beforehand. The flashy setup thingy stopped after a moment. There was nothing left to say or do, so I finished opening the door. After all, I needed to start reading like the doc said.

And from the way the entire town stared at me as I walked out, I needed to start walking too.

* * *

I’d settled with north as a direction. There was a small patch of clouds that way, and clouds meant shade. I desperately needed shade. The heat of the outside combined with whatever was warming me up inside was horrendously draining.

The Pipbuck that Crutches gave me certainly was great. It told me what was in my bags, I’d noticed, as well as how much it weighed me down and how much more I could carry. It even organized everything in the bag for me! So far, I’d only bothered a cursory glance at it, waiting until I found a place to rest before looking over it fully.

I used the inventory sorter to bring out a bottle of water. It was slightly warm, but still helped. Damn, the sun was kicking my ass…

I interrupted my thoughts when I noticed something in the distance. It looked like… a building! Well, like the ruins of a building, but close enough! I broke into a gallop towards it, praying it was abandoned. As luck would have it, it was. It was also completely destroyed, but the walls that still stood provided a barrier between me and the sun.

As I finished the water bottle and sat down, I dug through my bags to find the user’s manual Skydive had mentioned. My inventory display only showed two bottles of water, a Sunrise Sarsaparilla, and five healing potions; and I knew that wasn’t all that was there. The bags weighed more than that. After a moment or so, I found a small booklet labeled Pipbuck Basics near the bottom of my bags. Pulling it out carefully, I held it in my fetlock and opened it with my muzzle.

A beginner’s guide to Stable-Tec’s Pipbuck technology, it read. The first few pages were dedicated to the startup process that I’d already been through. Then it got into the Status menu, where I could check on how my limbs were and if I was injured anywhere. I could also check on my radiation levels, called RADS, and even see what effects were plaguing me. All that it said there was “Overheating, unknown source”. Helpful.

After a few tutorials on how to use the Items interface and check my map, I was told how to access radio stations. Well, may as well give it a go while I was in the shade still. I tapped the only available radio station, and the Pipbuck’s speakers crackled to life.

“Heya Equestria, I’m back again,” a stallion’s deep voice called out over the speakers, “your DJ in the wastes. And, as I’m sure you all guessed, that means it’s time for the news.” There was a wasteland news broadcaster? How interesting. I decided to turn it off and keep reading. As much as I hated the sun right now, traveling at night when I couldn’t see was all the less appealing.

Last but not least, as the manual read, was the use of S.A.T.S., which was an… auto targeting system? Okay, that was way too good to be true. According to the guide, I didn’t even need to access an interface for this. It was as if the device would know when I wanted to use it. Effectively, the spell would slow down time and allow me to select aiming zones that would vary per target. However, the spell only had a certain amount of charge (the AP bar) and would again vary, dependant on your weapon.

And with that, the manual was done. Now that I knew how to, I used the Items interface to file the book away under Misc. The data could also be found under Notes. Cool.

Now I cycled through the rest of my inventory. Under Weapons, I noticed it showed a .357 revolver. I pulled it out, and my Pipbuck registered it as equipped. It displayed that the condition of the gun was relatively alright, and that it had twenty-four bullets available, six of which were loaded. There was a note attached. “Found this near Dune Thrash’s body. Here’s hoping you don’t have to use it too soon. ~Crutches”

“Thanks, Doc,” I whispered to myself and smiled. At least he didn’t hate me. Maybe Ice Pack too, but she barely said anything. And she barely said it when she did! I put the revolver away and the information on it vanished from sight. Next, I checked Apparel. Nothing was on that list. Aid had remained unchanged, and Misc held three items: The Pipbuck manual, Ditzy’s Wasteland Survival Guide, and fifty bottle caps. Why did I have bottle caps? I also noticed that the top of the screen showed a bar reading “Caps: 50” displayed next to my theoretical damage threshold, which read 0. I figured they had to be of some kind of importance, so I kept them there and pulled out Ditzy’s guide. It was thick and slightly difficult to keep balanced in my fetlock.

Opening the pony skull cover, I flipped through the pages to find the index. Dangerous creatures, places to go, places to avoid, groups, tribes, and factions to know, and more. Dangerous creatures? That sounded like something I really ought to learn about. But first, I needed somewhere to go. It only just occurred to me that I was now walking an incredibly hostile wasteland, alone, and with no direction. If “places to go” wouldn’t work, I’d just have to go somewhere to avoid. Anywhere was better than nowhere.

Rummaging about the second section, I spotted New Trottingham on one of the first few pages. “A friendly town to stop and rest at. Must try Rusty’s Mutfruit Cocktail! Anypony in need of medical attention can find it at the Qwik-Kare run by Doctor Crutches. Not to be confused with Old Trottingham, which is Steel Ranger territory. (see page 134) Though a pleasant rest stop, New Trottingham is not a town to resupply at, as their store has only limited selections.

‘Also not entirely friendly to memory-less and injured ponies’, I felt Ditzy should’ve mentioned. I continued through the pages, looking for somewhere to go. Preferably somewhere within a day’s travel; if I could only go an hour and a half without guzzling a water bottle, more than a day was out of the question.

There was New Appleoosa, apparently the town Ditzy lived in herself. It sounded perfect, but when my Pipbuck chimed its location… that was a lot of ground to cover. Way more than a day, for sure. Wasn’t this a local copy of the book? Why would it show a town so very far away… unless Ditzy just wanted everypony to know of her home. If I ever went there, I’d have to ask.

Next on the list was a small town by the name of Prim. It wasn’t very large, but it had a place to rest and eat. My Pipbuck chimed once again, letting me know the town was…

South.

South, as in past the town that seemed ready to shoot me on sight. But it was also south as in about five or six hours south, and I’d be damned if I was going to pass up on the closest place possible to get out of this blistering heat!

Now that I thought about it, I no longer felt the internal buildup I had before. I checked my Pipbuck, but it still showed the overheating message. I was still somehow heating up, but now I didn’t notice it as much. If it wasn’t lethal – please sweet Luna don’t let it be lethal – it was certainly very curious.

Internal warmth issues aside, I had a direction now and could start heading out. But… what if I ran into something along the way? I’d want to know what it was, for sure, and whether or not I would have to fight it or run from it. It’d really suck if I kicked the bucket because I was in too much of a rush to read the guide Sky gave me… and on top of it all, I was still in the shade. Stepping out meant… the sun…

I opened the book without another thought and used my muzzle to flip through the pages. “Dangerous Creatures” the section read. Tell me, O wondrous guide, what shall eat me out yonder?

And the book answered: Large, mutant geckos that would gang up on me and bite at me until either I was dead or they were. Quaint. I could kill them and sell their hides, as well as cook their meat, granted I was willing to eat it. Well, why pass up a meal?

Bloatsprites were on the next page, along with radroaches. Both were considered nearly harmless, but radroaches would always scurry up to take a bite of you. Radigators were next. These were more dangerous than roaches or sprites, but because of their tendency to be aggressive only when approached, they were less worrisome than the geckos.

Now it got ugly. Ghouls, basically zombie ponies, would attack on sight, alone or in packs. According to Ditzy, not all ghouls were “feral”; several were rather pleasantly nice ponies to be around. “Try saying hello first!” Sounded like she had personal experience in that regard. Personally, if I saw a walking dead pony, I’d be trying to kill it again that instant. Especially if they rated a five on “Ditzy’s Danger Scale”.

A slew of baddies to avoid later, and I came to the last one on the list: Hellhounds. A ten on the scale, she labeled Hellhounds as the single most dangerous thing in the wasteland. They had the whole shebang: Wicked claws that tore through even Power armor – whatever that was – tunneling tendencies, proficient in use of both explosives and guns, and a knack for using magic energy weapons. On top of all that, they were very intelligent and always hunted – yes, they would hunt ponies – in packs. “To be avoided at all costs.” Well, I was officially screwed if I ever ran into those.

Now armed with knowledge of (I hoped) just about anything I could encounter between here and Prim, I closed the book and set it back in my saddlebags. After setting them on my back, I got up off my haunches and stepped out of the ruined building.

Reading, as it turns out, can swallow up multiple hours of your time and you’d never be the wiser. The sun was setting, and I had a five-ish hour walk from here to Prim. Well… better late than never! I started a quick trot south. I just had to hope I could catch whatever wanted to eat me before it did so, and now I wouldn’t be able to see.

* * *

I took a slightly longer route in order to give New Trottingham a wide berth. I didn’t want Skydive pointing guns at me anymore, especially with the safety off!

Though, ever since I passed the town by, I noticed a yellow bar moving around me steadily. Yellow bars were friendly; at least that’s what the Pipbuck manual said. However, even if I looked directly at the little line, I couldn’t see the entity it indicated. Was the dark impairing my vision that much? I didn’t let it bother me too much; if it was friendly I had nothing to worry about. I only needed to care if it turned red.

Like that bar over there. And the two flanking it. Well, fuck. I crouched down in hopes that, whatever they were, they couldn’t see me yet. Three more red bars showed up to their left. I turned to see if my friendly chaperone was still there. And the yellow tic was still there; next to five red ones. I was surrounded and horribly outnumbered.

I pulled the revolver out of my saddlebags and gripped it in my mouth, the way I’d seen Skydive do it. Then I heard rattling. Quiet at first, but it grew in volume quickly. Why did that strike me as a really bad sign?

Probably because I could see them now, too. Almost a dozen white wolf-like creatures with rattlesnake tails. I knew them from Ditzy’s guide: Night stalkers. A five-and-a-half on her scale, these always fought in large groups and had very good coordination.

“The rock,” a disembodied voice rasped, “get to the rock behind you.” I remembered that voice… it was that asshole from my nightmare!

“And you’re the bastard I’m trying to save, now move!” Well, higher ground seemed like a good idea anyway. Only… they stopped. All of the night stalkers just stood there, motionlessly staring at me. Occasionally one flicked its tail, but none of them stepped any closer.

“What, having a staring contest with them? Get to the higher ground already!” Alright, damn! I took a step toward the slanted stone. They all flicked their tails in unison the moment I lifted my leg. Then a few of them started to growl. “You may want to run,” the scratchy voice cautioned as a few of the stalkers took a step toward me.

I broke into a full gallop at the rock now. The pack didn’t miss a beat and charged after me. One that was already close to me bit down on my tail and yanked off several hairs. Thankfully, that was all it got as I made my way up the steep stone face. The rock was only wide enough for one of the night stalkers to climb it at a time.

The first one made its way up toward me with alarming speed, clawing and growling and rattling its tail. I turned my head and pulled the revolvers trigger with my tongue. A bright flash temporarily cost me the use of my eyes, the resounding crack of the shot doing the same to my ears. And the kick! It felt like somepony just tried to buck my teeth out!

After I stopped seeing spots, I looked down at the coyote-snake-wolf-thing I’d fired at. There was a rather large hole… in the stone in front of its feet. Oh, for fuck’s sake…

“Use S.A.T.S.,” ordered the invisible rasp. It sounded like the voice in my head could use a cough drop. “Do you even remember what that is?” Duh, it’s a… you know what? Screw your shit. I entered S.A.T.S. without even hitting a button.

Stable-Tec did some impressive work on this bad boy. I didn’t actually expect it to slow time! I could see and highlight parts of the creature’s body, and it even showed my chance to hit! This was a sexy program right here.

I lined up three shots at the lunging night stalker’s head, each shot calculating a fifty percent chance to hit. Crack! Crack! Crack! Time stayed slow as the first two shots missed completely, but the third hit home. Bone and flesh were jetted in all directions as the stalker’s head exploded.

Time returned to normal, the gore of the now dead night stalker splashed across me sporadically. The rest of the pack took notice of their fallen comrade. Another one of them began to clamber up the stone face after me, but the last two bullets in the gun scared it off. That gave me a moment to reload the chamber. Too bad I’d need several; this damn revolver had to be loaded one bullet at a time! Who makes a weapon like that, seriously!?

I put the bullets in the chamber one at a time, the gun fumbling a bit in my hooves. But for all the time I’d given them, none of the night stalkers dared to climb up after me. They couldn’t climb up after me. So long as I was up here, I was at least relatively safe.

Little did I know just how tenacious these little bastards were. Shortly after I finished loading my revolver, the pack came to a decision: If they couldn’t climb the rock, they’d jump it. First, one took a mighty leap toward me. It came up only an inch or two short. Had it not almost literally scared the shit out of me, I’d’ have taken the opportunity to blow it’s face off.

Now several more took jumps of their own. Two came up short, and one overshot. Okay psycho voice, what do? …The rasp in my head was silent. Of course it was! The little asshole put me in this mess and ditched me! Another stalker leapt, and this time it landed on the rock right in front of me. “Shit!” I screamed and jumped into S.A.T.S. again. I lined up the three shots that the spell had charge for and fired. Miss, miss, and… miss! Of course!

“To hell with this!” I screamed after throwing the gun off to the side. As the night stalker lunged at me, I raised my left foreleg and let it bite down on it. The razor teeth in the beast’s mouth shredded through my flesh and ripped the leg muscles something fierce. Holy hell did it hurt, but clearly not as much as sinking your teeth into a boiling pony! I’d completely forgotten that I was still heating up the entire walk.

“The stalker immediately let go of the leg, whimpering as it's mouth was burned horribly. Turns out, strange medical conditions are effective in combat! I took the opportunity I had while the night stalker was stunned. Rearing back on my hind legs, I brought all my weight down on it. I was rewarded with a bone-shattering crunch and the sight of a night stalker split in two under my hooves. The image was disturbing, and putting so much force into my wrecked leg hurt indescribably.

Through it all, I hadn’t noticed the other stalkers in the pack about to lunge at me. One landed behind me and bit down on my hind leg. Sweet Celestia, I could feel its teeth against my bone! Even the heat in my body didn’t make it let go. Another landed on top of me and dug into my back with its claws. I couldn’t tell its growl at feeling my burning flesh apart from my own scream.

“Heh,” I muttered weakly as my scream subsided, making a futile attempt to kick the one off my leg, “hope you… fuckers en… enjoy a hot meal…”

“Get down!!!” A scream pierced the growling and rattling of the night stalkers. It was punctuated by several gunshots, and ended with the two snake-wolf-things falling off of me. Another attempted to take their place, but an extra shot left it with its maw left open forever.

So, my mystery follower decided to save the day after all. Good… I wasn’t able to fight anymore. I noticed a small “LMB” appeared over my proximity-to-death bar. Damn that bar was small… and flashy… and dancing. Oh, that was my eyes dancing.

I could faintly hear a few more gunshots and the sound of the remaining night stalkers fleeing. All of it was followed by the whooshing of air as I fell of the boulder I’d stood on. Weeeee… thud. Mercifully, I barely felt myself hit the ground before I blacked out.

* * *

“Come on, snap out of it!” Skydive screamed at me as she poured what I assumed was one of my water bottles on my face. I coughed as it started to choke me.

“I’m up! I’m up!” I yelled back, spluttering water everywhere as I did. At least it felt somewhat refreshing, after having my legs torn apart. …Speaking of which, why didn’t I feel any pain? I looked at my left foreleg, nothing showing of the fight but a few places my coat was gone from. I lifted my gaze to look at Skydive. “How long was I out?”

“All night, obviously,” she pointed her wing at the sky. It was a brilliant red color, the sun only barely visible on the horizon. “You’re out of healing potions, by the way. Oh, and I had to use half this bottle to wake you up.” She tossed the water bottle at me.

“You woke me up by yelling at me, the water was just overkill. Couldn’t you have just poked me or something?” Skydive frowned turned her forelegs a bit. “What?”

“N-nothing, I, uh… yea, should’ve just given you a tap or something,” she stammered in response. Ooh, the liar voice didn’t sound good on her. What was she hiding?

“Thanks for saving me… again,” I looked into her eyes as I spoke, trying to tell what she was thinking, “I thought I was dinner.”

“Don’t mention it,” Sky laughed, “the doctor will kill me if he finds out I stole his gun again.” I looked around for something to talk about, to keep the conversation going until I could find out what she was hiding. I’d be damned if I was going to let her lie to me again, especially if it was about me. I spotted an empty bottle that didn’t look like a healing potion bottle lying on the ground beside her.

“What’s that?” I pointed at the bottle with my now healed foreleg.

“Huh? Oh, it’s antivenom. The night stalkers’ blood is great for general antitoxins. Figured I’d come out and get some; then I ran into you and, well…”

“Just ran into me by chance, then?” Skydive looked slightly worried at the question. I did my best not to smile; after yet another near-death experience, I needed a good laugh. I wanted to see just how much deeper she’d dig her grave.

“Uh, yep,” she replied, fiddling with the empty bottle. I took a long, obvious look around so that she’d notice.

“Strange, though, you’re the only yellow bar around.”

“The what?” Sky looked – and sounded – horribly confused. I raised my Pipbuck bearing leg. Dear Luna, I could have sworn she changed her coat color from blue to red when she figured it out.

“Did you miss me that much?” I laughed.

“Wha… I… I just… I bumped into you is all!”

“So who was following me last night? I saw… wait… that’s why I couldn’t see you, you were flying! Cheater!”

“I was not following you!” Skydive got off her haunches and stood over me, wings spread threateningly.

“What were ya up to, then?” I gave her my best one-eyebrow-raised questioning look, just like Doc Crutches did. If I was lucky, I’d discover how he made her so humble whenever he spoke!

“Well, I was…” Sky trailed off, “I just, y’know, needed to… I…”

I jumped up – discovering my back leg did still hurt a lot in the process – and gave her a big hug. “Aww, I missed you too!” I laughed.

“Fucking Celestia, AH! Get off me! Dammit!” Skydive screamed and shoved me away. I just chuckled again.

“Sheesh, sensitive mu-” I looked at where my forelegs had been as she cursed some more. Exactly where I’d hugged her, her back was bright red; the fur and skin all burned and peeling. “What… I… I didn’t do it! What… I don’t, I don’t know what just happened!” I started to panic and apologize, but Sky just brushed me off as she went through her saddlebags and produced another healing potion.

“Wanted to save this for the road…” I heard her mutter a bit louder than I expected she meant to. I took a look at the back of her forelegs, and sure enough, they were burnt as well. No wonder she didn’t just poke me…

“I-I’m so sorry, I don’t know what happened. I’ve been heating up more and more and I just…”

“Yea, I know,” Sky said as she tossed the empty potion bottle aside. The burns healed, but the area still looked a little pink under her coat. “I think I’m starting to understand what Dune Thrash must’ve gone through…” Wow… I hadn’t thought of that. If I had some kind of burning touch, is that why Dune Thrash’s body was in its state? What… what if I did the same thing to Skydive by accident? Oh, I did not want to see that happen, especially after she saved my life twice.

“Look, I-I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m apparently burning whatever I touch, and I just pounded a night stalker into paste with one stomp. Please, just… just stay away from me. I really don’t want another Dune Thrash.” I was getting really scared. What the fuck was I?

“Oh,” she looked at me strangely, “you’re just gonna walk off then?” Okay, now she sounded cocky. Cocky didn’t sound good on her.

“Well… yea. Not like I don’t know where I’m goin’” I pointed out.

“And that is?”

“Prim.”

“That’s a bit of a walk from here,” Sky said slyly. Oh, that’s where she was going with this.

“I can handle it,” I started walking towards the city “See? I’m f-fuck!” I went down on my face. Sweet Celestia-on-Luna action, I could not walk on this leg!

“You’re Fuck?” Skydive teased, “I’m Skydive. And, Fuck, my friend, you look like you’ll need some help getting to Prim. I don’t recall putting Med-X in your saddlebags.”

“Ooh, you want to follow me openly now, eh?” I smirked. She slapped my injured leg with her tail. “Ow!”

“I’m doing it to make sure you don’t set anypony else on fire!” She yelled in her butterfly voice yet again. “And don’t forget it.” Dammit, I really needed her help to get to Prim, but I knew I’d end up hurting her again. The throbbing in my leg reminded me I really didn’t have a choice.

“Just… just don’t touch me, alright?” I pleaded. She just gave me an amused grin.

“Not a problem.”




Footnote: Level up!
Perk added: Hunter: You deal 75% bonus critical damage to wild animals.
Follower perk added: Heal with one hoof…: While Skydive is a follower healing potions restore limb condition better. Additionally, you deal more limb damage.
Quest Perk added: Burning touch: Unarmed strikes deal additional damage to targets not on fire. Unarmed attackers not on fire receive a small amount of damage.


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