• Published 6th Feb 2014
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Merry Stewed: An Equestrian Fallout - TundraStanza

Tells the tale of an alicorn rendered effectively powerless after losing her horn in the wastelands of Equestria. She'll pick up a gun, a blade, and a few companions. But really, what is the point of telling the tale of a Mary Sue?

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Ch. 15: Pop, Pop, Watching Idols Drop

Pop, Pop, Watching Idols Drop

"I don't have any idols... any heroes... nothing... no." ~Rafael Nadal


"I asked you to bring Pure Wrenchy back, not... that to him!"

Misty Fly's body looks like it can't decide between sputtering, releasing a hiss of rage, or just shaking her head in disbelief at us. The combination of which leaves her making a noise between a huff and a groan. Meanwhile, I lower my head in shame. Stratus flutters in place while looking like she doesn't know what is going on. She is the one that punched the alcoholic addict in the first place.

"How's Antibiotic doing?" I try to interrupt the stressful freakout by bringing up the first patient, the drug addict.

Misty sighs and rubs her temple with an index feather. "He's getting his addiction purged right now. I guess I should thank you for getting back our anti-venom expert. So... here." She shuffles through a pocket and procures a couple of tiny boxes. "Some Fixer for the road. Don't spend it all in one place."

I accept the emergency anti-addiction drugs and hoof them into my saddlebags.

"But I can't exactly say 'thank you' for the state that you've put Pure Wrenchy in." Her frown is accentuated by her crossing her wings in front of her. I'm not sure that's possible given their size, yet she's doing it right in front of me. "Do you know how hard it is to find appropriate materials for stitching and blood transfusion?"

"Next to impossible?" Stratus hazards a guess.

"It may as well be." Misty sighs again.

"Hey, tell you what," says Stratus with a slight grin, "The first raw medical materials that we find, we'll bring 'em right here so you can get that magic engineer back up in no time. How's that sound?"

Misty's wings uncross and she opens her eyes in surprise. "You'd do that?"

"Absolutely!" Stratus insists.

"Okay," says Misty with a nod. She shuffles something else out. She passes a piece of paper to the new volunteer. "This is what we need at the very least to patch Pure up."

Stratus holds the paper up, and her eyes skim back and forth. Meanwhile, I adjust my neckerchief and cough.

"So, before I spoke with you before, I was actually trying to find out what happened to those injured locals in that other tent." I wave my hoof around for emphasis. "You wouldn't happen to know about any lieutenants in the area, would you?"

"Hmm," Misty hums. "Most of the New Canterlot soldiers around Freewall are following Freya Jewel. You probably want to start with her. If she doesn't want to talk, tell her Misty Fly sent you. She'll be more likely to open up."

"Freya Jewel, huh?" I nod. "Okay, I'll remember that."

"Like you remember your earlier life?" asks Stratus while nudging my shoulder.

"Oh, shut up," I mutter.

"Yeah, yeah," she waves a hoof dismissively while stowing the paper away. "I'm going to go check that 'general goods' place and see if they have any of this stuff."

"All right, meet me back at the Shores' place when you're done," I request.

"Sure thing, Spades," she says, already flying off to do her thing.

Note: Some ponies will forever keep their darkest secrets to themselves regardless of how high your speech skill is.

FRED-E chirps a question at me as I trot along.

"Well, I haven't checked this side of Freewall yet," I explain, "It would make sense for them to be around here." I look up and see a couple of stallions. "And that set of armor looks familiar. It's a bit more heavy on the dark blue, but it still has the N.C.R. aesthetics to it." I practically beeline for the door that they're guarding.

"Hold it right there," insists the stallion on my left. "This area's restricted. What's the password?"

"No time, Private," I respond with a straight face. "I have urgent matters to discuss with Major Jewel directly."

"Oh, well that's different." He straightens back up and nods. "If you have business with the Major, you should head on through."

It's that easy to bypass your security? I think as I trot by him. If anypony else were to use that line, they might very well have intended to demonstrate the Major's imminent death.

I catch a harsh glare from the stallion on my right. So, I ask him, "What are you looking at?" I don't give him time to answer as I open the door.


It's a bit dark in here.

I take note of the windowless room. There seems to be a line of ponies that barely spread themselves apart. Most of them have rags over their bodies. A couple of them even wear thin masks over their muzzles. This is a less than flourishing part of town. That much I can ascertain. I nudge through the small space toward the one mare in here wearing N.C.R. armor and a leather jacket.

"I don't suppose you're the one in charge," I comment sarcastically.

She looks up as if just noticing my presence. "Welcome. There's food and water here for any citizen of the N.C.R. Please, have some."

While she is saying this, she levitates a small box and a clear water bottle in front of me. I'm not sure, but a faint memory of somepony else's parents is telling me not to turn down a free meal. I nod and accept it via Spades' own magic. Even if I don't eat it myself, I'm sure one of my allies will appreciate this.

As I tuck the rations away, I ask, "So you're Freya Jewel, huh?"

"Yes," she affirms, "I'm a Major in the Supply Corps., which is where all of this food comes from."

"As great as that sounds, you can't possibly have enough to give to just anypony who walks in," I speculate.

"No, I'm afraid we don't." Her mood deflates a little. "Don't you have a friend you'd like to bring in?"

I guess it wouldn't be a good idea to point out that I'm not a registered citizen, I think before shaking my head. "What exactly makes somepony eligible or ineligible for this kind of service?"

Jewel's brow furrows. "That's not a really pleasant topic of conversation. Let's just say we have our reasons."

I shrug nonchalantly. "I'm no stranger to unpleasant subjects. After all, I got an earful of one from Misty Fly."

Her eyes widen. "You know Misty?" She briefly rubs her chin. "Not everyone in the N.C.R. sees eye-to-eye with the Followers. She's one of the few that are okay in my book." She lowers her hoof and sighs. "If you really want to know, we sent an envoy to the Queen, offering to coordinate this relief effort." Her brow furrows again as she closes her eyes and reminisces. "The envoy came back covered in bruises and had a twisted hoof. He was barely able to stand." She opens her eyes and stares at me fiercely. "My superiors ordered the entire effort to be scrapped. I managed to convince them to let me carry out the mission anyway, but with extremely reduced support." She sighs. "Now, there's not enough supplies to go around even if I wanted to support the rest of Freewall, which I don't."

Well, aren't you high and mighty, Empress Grudge? mocks Monarch.

You're one to talk, I retort sarcastically.

"I should get back to work," says Jewel. "Say hi to Misty for me."

"Sure thing," I reply with a nod before turning around. But first, I've got a little tidbit to pick with the Queen.
Note: Fixer can remove addiction, but continued abuse of previous substances will render its effects useless. A doctor can provide a more permanent removal of the addiction, but at a much higher cost. Don't do drugs, children.

Upon entering the Shores' building, I find a certain mare tapping her hoof and looking at me like she's pissed off.

"What do you want, Quartz?" I ask bluntly.

"I caught wind that you were talking to that Freya mare," Quartz answers. "She probably told you that she sent a messenger of peace." The way she positions her lips, it almost looks like she's trying really hard to not spit. "That's bull****. What the N.C.R. was sending was a spy to mess around with Shores' business. We've got it handled, and it's nothing you need to concern the Queen about."

I hum slightly. "Is that so? How much is my silence worth to you?"

She huffs with pride. "You're the kind of bastard I could kiss if I actually swung that way. Here, this should be more than enough."

She tosses me a small pouch of caps. It sounds full and all, possibly a good hundred fifty. I half-smirk at her.

"Well, I was about to suggest a minimum price bar," I state, "and guess what? This right here is about two hundred too short."

Her eyebrows lower slightly. I think that I'm striking a nerve.

"Fine, here," she says begrudgingly while fishing out a slightly smaller pouch. "But you'd better not say anything that the Queen doesn't need to hear. You're lucky I'm in a hurry."

"Yes, yes, goodbye," I wave dismissively as she gallops out the door.

Does she really think I won't tell the Queen everything? I shake my head and chuckle. Forget losing her touch. I'm starting to doubt that she ever had a touch to begin with.

I hear the door opening again. I turn around to see a more welcome face.

"Hey, Spades," greets Stratus cheerfully.

"You find all the supplies already?" I ask her.

"Huh?" She looks confused before something dawns on her. "Oh, no. I got told that the Sparking Buckler would be a better bet, but..." She motions for me to lean in closer. She whispers, "Tosh is offering to forge some passports that'll get us past the Strip's greeter."

My ear springs up at those words.

She flutters back a little and says, "I just need about a couple hundred more caps to meet his offer."

"Consider yourself lucky, then," I say as I levitate the second part of Quartz's bribe out. "You can use these."

"Sweet," she says as she takes the money bag. "I'll be right back."

I turn around to this building's large classroom. "Now to have a little chat with the Queen."

The headdress is still in the same spot, as is its wearer. I trot on up to her.

"Your Majesty," I address.

"Find something, honey, or did you just want to make small talk?" she asks.

"How often have I come in here just to make light conversation?" I ask rhetorically. "Anyway, the N.C.R. in the area are working on supplying their less fortunate with food and supplies-"

"Just plain old support?" wonders Queen. "That's nothing to get worked up about. Did you have more?"

I deadpan. "Yeah, thanks for interrupting me, by the way." I blink a couple of times to loosen the tension in my eyes. "That mission of relief is only going to registered Republic citizens. Anypony else in Freewall gets turned away."

Queen hums. "Picking and choosing who gets anything, huh? I can't take lightly to such discrimination."

I clear my throat while tugging lightly on my neckerchief. "Well, I hate to say it, but it's kind of your fault. The Major said that the envoy she sent to you was practically torn apart and-"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait!" Her chair lets out a groan as she turns ninety degrees to look at me completely. "She said what?"

Can I just get the whole story out without an interruption? I sigh. "And she and her superiors are a little pissed off at such poor treatment."

Queen takes a loud breath. "I see. That would explain the hostility. It seems we've let tempers rise over a big misunderstand- What the hell?"

Whoa! Where did that green-haired pony come from? I open my eyes wide at a Shore that appears out of nowhere. I didn't even hear her hoofsteps. Was she standing there this whole time? Maybe I should ask her for some tips about sneaking.

"Queen, we've got a problem," she says.

"What's the four-one-one, Emerald?" asks Queen as her chair turns and groans again.

"There's a shoot-out going on near the train station," informs the aptly named Emerald. "It's Quartz and some strangers. It might be the N.C.R."

"What is that loose-minded mare doing?" Queen asks to herself more than to anyone else in the room. She sighs and turns to look back to me. "Honey, head down to the train station and defuse the situation. Tell them I'm willing to cooperate."

"Great," I say sarcastically as I gallop for the door. "I should have cut off her spinal nerve before she could leave. Why am I getting involved with so many N.C.R.-related problems? I can't even blame Baane for dragging me along this time. It was my own curiosity and my potential need for three grand. Plucking Cadenza."
Note: You can please some of the factions some of the time, but you can't please every faction every time.

"You want something dead?"

"Don't bother me with your sales pitch!" I holler as I gallop past the advertising stallion.

I chance a glance over my shoulder to see FRED-E barely keeping up with me. He isn't huffing and puffing in exhaustion. Actually, scratch that. He doesn't do that kind of thing anyway. I focus my attention in front of me as I round a few corners and aim for the place just beyond that support room. I hear rapid shots being fired as I get closer.

"I wonder who's winning this little scuffle," I mutter as I hang around a large concrete wall.

FRED-E chirps a question to me.

"No, hold your fire for now," I command. "There's no benefit to shoot up our would-be allies, at least not presently."

FRED-E beeps an affirmative.

I gallop between broken walls, a burning trash can, and an old bus stop cover. The rifle shots are getting louder. I chance a glance over my cover and see them aiming toward the next wall. I see a familiar mare in the Shores' outfit. Several others are lying down around her unmoving. The distant trooper pauses and I chance a gallop over to the wall.

"What the hell are you doing here?" asks Quartz forcefully. "I've got this under control."

"Yeah, I can see that," I reply sardonically, "just like all of these dead Shores can see that."

Quartz snorts as she continues hugging the wall. The shooter from before lets another round go into the structure in question.

Hope they can recognize my armor from this distance, I think as I take a deep breath. Hey, hold on.

I shuffle around my saddlebags for a bit. One of the Fixer tins collapses on the ground, but that's not what I'm looking for. I finally grab hold of something and smile at the successful find. I pull out my two-way radio and switch the dial from "long-distance" to "local". I hold the larger button down.

"This is Private Spades. I request a ceasefire as I approach your position. Over." I let go of the button.

After a few seconds, I hear a swift beep on the radio. "Copy that, Private. We will hold fire for five seconds. Over."

The radio clicks to silence. I stuff it away before I gallop toward the tower housing at least six N.C.R. ponies. As I come around, I notice Freya Jewel holding at the bottom of the ramp. As soon as I arrive, the stallion up top starts shooting at that wall again.

"This really isn't a good time," remarks Jewel.

"Actually, now would be the perfect time to have a chat," I retort, "I had a word with the Queen and she's willing to go along with your support effort, one hundred percent."

"Like she helped our envoy?" she asks while chuckling humorlessly. "No thanks."

"Oh, don't you start getting sarcastic," I say with groan, "I get enough of that from Stratus. Besides, you might want to learn that the Queen had no idea that you had even sent a messenger until I brought it up."

Jewel points a hoof in accusation. "Then she should watch her back. We know for a fact that our guy made it to the Shores' headquarters." She lowers her hoof and sighs. "Still, if she says she's willing to negotiate, maybe we should be the bigger mares and at least try to hear her out."

"Yeah, how about you start by not killing that last Shore over there?" I ask. "Otherwise, discussion might be a bit difficult."

"Fine." She turns her head to look up. "Put your guns away, boys. We're done for today."

The shots stop. I notice a few confused looks on the troopers being passed around. But I think my work here is done. I gallop back toward that rusty bus stop. Quartz is slowly moseying away from the scene.

"And just where do you think you're going, Missy?" I ask loudly.

"The Queen just sent a messenger over saying that these guys are off limits," she says, "Looks like you get to play the hero for another day. Enjoy it while you can."

Against Quartz, Monarch growls in the back of my mind. If I didn't need you alive as a witness for the Queen's negotiations, I'd already have my teeth down your throat and drinking you dry.

You're finally speaking my language. I briefly smile before my mouth neutrals out. I mean... kind of.

See? We're all such good friends, comments Nuisance mockingly.

Oh, shut up! Monarch and I metaphorically glare at the third voice.
-You have gained fame among the Shores. The Queen is offering to give you one unconditional favor, provided it is within her morals and capabilities.
-While 'your' (Forte Pianissimo) status among members of the New Canterlot Republic remains unchanged, 'you' (Spades) have gained "Accepted" status.

Author's Note:

Next time: Some questions may be answered, but more will arise.

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