• Published 6th Feb 2014
  • 909 Views, 21 Comments

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. 16: Take Back Your Wings

Take Back Your Wings

"The time comes when we cannot remove [the masks] without removing some of our own skin." ~Andre Berthiaume

---

"Let me get this straight," I say while tapping my hoof against the table for emphasis. "You took on the name 'Queen' without having any idea who she truly was in the first place?"

Her Royal Headdress hums a bit. "Have you ever heard that a primrose still tastes pleasant regardless if you call it something else?" She lifts her hoof up slightly. "The 'Queen' is more than just a word. It's an identity in and of itself. It's expressed through the way she talks, the way she acts, the songs she sings."

While she talks with that gentle smile, I pull out the bottle of water from Freya Jewel. I have no idea why I'm parched right now. Maybe I'm not, and I'm actually just trying to distract my face from looking at Queen funny while she keeps yapping.

"We used to listen to some records with her voice on it, but they kind of wore out." She sighs fondly. "I would have played a bit for you if they weren't. She felt like the kind of girl that didn't give a feather what other ponies said, yet also gave everypony the time of day."

I set the bottle back on the table so I don't have to use up too much magic today. It's bad enough that I took out some bodyguards and a group of back alley thugs. I feel really ashamed about trying to pour so much magic into opening the Old Kyn's Fort gate before actually asking FRED-E if he could do anything. I think this smaller form I'm wearing is feeling a bit cramped.

"What about the 'Shores' School of Impersonation'?" I ask, "Where did that come from?"

"Oh, that was up before we found the place," she says with a shrug. "But it stuck with us fast, those that wanted to take on the Queen's message of striding to the top, preserving the pop, and couldn't be stopped." She sighs. "Do you believe the taboo of queens, the idea that anypony who proclaims themselves with that title is doomed to be evil?"

I don't remember back far enough for these sayings she comes up with, I think before shaking my head. "Not particularly, no."

She chuckles. "Some of the elderly think so. I hope one day, I can slowly change their minds about such trivial white noise."

It'd sure save some trouble earning respect, think-comments Monarch.

I nod. "I wish you good luck."

Queen smiles. "Thanks, Hon. That means a lot, especially after you've helped us out so much."

I hear flapping followed by a muffled thud. I turn to see my ever so stealthy pegasus companion.

"I'm back, britches!" Stratus announces.

I nod in acknowledgement before standing up. "Well, I guess we're heading out. I'll come back when I think of that favor I want."

"It's been a pleasure, Hon," says Queen.

---

"So, did you get the 'things'?" I ask.

"Sure did," answers Stratus proudly. She hoofs over what looks like a metal plate. "Here's yours."

I hum as I examine this so-called 'passport'.

"Something wrong?" pondered Stratus.

"Nah, it's probably nothing," I shake my head as I start trotting. "Some part of me was expecting a booklet or something with a unique picture for identification."

She tilts her head as she flutters beside me. "How the hell would a leather-bound stack of papers be effective as a passport?"

"Yeah, you're right," I conceded. "Just forget I said anything."

The trot toward the inner gate is made in relative silence. Maybe I'm just used to my hooves clicking, Stratus's wings flapping, and FRED-E's hovering. Heck, I barely even hear that crier for the Platinum Rush spouting his ads. I take a breath before strolling up to the greeter securitron.

"Present your passport, or a sufficient credit check," states the robot on wheels, "Trespassers will be shot."

"Here you go, sir," I say while levitating out the metal plate. Stratus holds up the second one in front of her.

A few beeps are heard from the securitron's speakers. "Passports recognized. Welcome to the New Pegasus Strip. Please enjoy your time."

Well, I'm glad that's settled, I think as the gate opens up. I wonder what's so great about this place.
---
Note: Mr. Mansion actually holds large stakes in three of the casinos. He accomplished this through wealthy family ties. His primary one, the Heat 33, is only occupied by securitrons. Watch your step if you plan on going in there.
---

Huh, there are certainly more bright lights than what I'm used to seeing, I think as I pan around.

Stratus holds back a spit. "This is a fine example of the overhyped system of capitalism. Flaunting how much you can waste without worrying about your next caviar dinner."

FRED-E beeps a concerned question.

"No, I am not jealous!" retorts Stratus.

"Uh, that's not what he said," I point out, "He asked if you were okay."

"Oh." She coughed. "Right, I knew that. Yeah, of course I'm okay." She scratched the back of her neck. "So, any idea what to do now that we're in here?"

I look over and see an N.C.R. soldier hanging around a chain-link fence. Giant metal boxes that look like the bare bones of old houses are lined up within that area.

I point in that direction with my hoof. "We should probably meet up with Baane. I have a feeling his old buddies found something for him to do."

"What, no sightseeing, gambling, or drinking?" asks Stratus with a teasing jab.

"Maybe later." I shrug her off. "Right now, we should work on regrouping. I've already told Tilaso to do the same."

"Fine." She shakes her head slowly with her eyes close. "Whatever you say, Sargeant Spades."

"Psst."

Before I can correct her, I feel something tapping me on the back leg. I turn around and see someone in a dirtied outfit. It seems a bit odd for a part of the city where dressed-up ponies are wandering the streets. It's a little difficult to tell the gender as they hold their hat in a way that covers their whole face.

"Miss Spades," they say in a low tone, "I have a message to deliver. The sender wishes for you to meet him in the Heat 33 casino. Come alone." They turn around and gallop without another word.

"What was that all about?" Stratus asks the question on my mind.

"I don't know," I admit, "but it sounds like I've got something that needs attending." I look at her directly. "Head on into the N.C.R. protection camp and find Baane. Tell him I'll be in later."

"Wait, you're not seriously thinking of going into that place alone, are you?" Stratus looks at me skeptically. "What if it's a trap?"

"I won't be completely alone," I say. I point a hoof at FRED-E. "For whatever reason, the robots around here don't seem bothered by this little guy's presence. Worst-case scenario: he incinerates anything that tries to kill me."

He gives a few clicks of confirmation.

"Well, all right," says Stratus reluctantly. "You'd better not come out of there as the Cyborginator or something equally stupid."

"Unlikely, since I've never heard of that either," I say.

"Your past must have been no fun," says Stratus as she flies toward the camp.

"You may be right," I mutter as I trot in the opposite direction.

FRED-E floats by and beeps in worry.

"I'll be honest with you, Frederick. I'm scared too."

---

This interior seems like an abandoned facility. There are a few roulette tables and slot machines. But aside from the few robots idly standing around, there is no one here. One of the bots rolls over with its screen facing toward me.

"If you have business with Mr. Mansion, I suggest you take the elevator straight to his office floor. For your own safety, please do not arm yourself within these walls."

I find it highly unlikely that he'd waste so many resources to keep me alive just to waste more energy to kill me himself. With this line of reasoning, I nod and trot toward the elevator at the back of the open room. I hear some of the joints of some of the securitrons rotating their heads as I pass them by. FRED-E hovers close and follows me in.

...

You'd think he'd have the courtesy to put in some elevator music, thinks Nuisance.

What, so that he can give us a headache? No thanks, responds Monarch.

After what is probably no more than a minute, the elevator doors open to a different floor. There are a few more securitrons that seem to form a line leading to a small, downward staircase. I make a guess that that's where I'm supposed to go. The floor makes some metallic echoes as I trot along. As the staircase ends, I find myself looking at a rather large monitor. The portrait of a stallion with a thin moustache flickers a bit.

A male's voice says, "It's about time we met each other."

"You're Mansion, I presume," I state.

"That is correct. I've been keeping tabs on you ever since that incident at Fondsprings."

Wait, something's not right, I think with a frown. 'Spades' was never in Fondsprings. How would this guy know that I was there?

A slight jolt hits me from behind. When I manage to turn my head, I catch sight of an oversized pen sticking out of a hidden slot. A flash of green fire crosses my vision. I gasp as I realize the feeling in my horn has been exchanged with the feeling in my wings. I look down and see my faded blue hide before looking back up at the screen.

"I had a suspicion that you'd have the idea to disguise yourself," says Mr. Mansion, "but I never expected you'd actually go through with the changeling implant that my men had hidden in Milton. Of course, I'd never let them do that without taking measures to force the default settings myself."

I move into a defensive stance. "So is that it, then? Was your plan to lure me in here, deactivate my implant, and then let your robot dogs have their way with my destruction?"

"Ms. Pianissimo, please calm yourself." His image flickers again. "I've already sent an instant message to all of my men. They'll let you have free reign anywhere that they are stationed. You have nothing to worry about, so long as you cooperate."

I straighten out and try to breathe slowly. It's a bit difficult, though, because my armor once again feels tight against my large body.

"What do you want?" I ask while staring angrily at this computer.

"I'd like you to retrieve a piece of property that was stolen from me," he says, "It resembles a regular 100 cap poker chip, but it is actually composed of pure cobalt. It is currently in possession of Penny, the current owner of the Jacks Casino. A few weeks ago, I tried to send a delivery pony in for the retrieval. Curiously, he was found dead on that casino's floor. Penny claims no responsibility, but I know him better than he realizes. The only ponies allowed to carry visible weapons in any of the Strip's casinos are the security guards. It was under his orders that the courier was shot."

"How exactly does this involve me?" I ask while motioning with my hoof. "If they're willing to waste a bullet or two on a random courier, what would stop them from shooting up an alicorn that just waltzes in there?"

"You'd better be good at figuring that out," he responds, "or else I may randomly choose to retract the message to my men."

So it's die to him or die to you, Monarch says while curling my lip in a snarl. Someday, I'll find the real you, and I will kill you.

"Oh, and by the way," Mr. Mansion continues.

"What is it now?" I grumble.

"I've come to the conclusion that alicorns that are ex-members of the Unity tend to develop various degrees of split personalities."

!!!! Monarch and Nuisance seem to flinch in the back of my mind.

"Would you mind letting me speak with one or more of the ones you have?"

"What's wrong with this one?" I ask with an eyebrow raised.

"Yes, I suppose you're right." That almost sounds like Stratus's let-down tone. "After all, they must be much weaker than you."

My neck suddenly makes a clicking noise. I feel... pulled back somehow. My vision clouds ever so slightly. Then, she grins wickedly and chuckles.

"Weaker? Oh, Mansion, you are so funny. Actually... no." Monarch frowns. "What's the opposite of that? How would you like it if I broke your screens right now?" She stomps the floor once and I actually feel the room shake. "Mezzo Fortissimo is no weakling! You would be wise to avoid making such a ludicrous presumption again." She huffs. "Be grateful that I am not in the mood to demonstrate what I am fully capable of."

...

I think I peed a little, whimpers Nuisance.

You can't do that. You're in my head, I think in response. But Amore Plucking Cadenza, I had no idea she actually had a preferred name.

"How very interesting," comments Mr. Mansion. "I wonder if the day will come when you can prove the iron behind your words."

Mona- er, Mezzo blows a strand of mane out of her eye. "Screw this. I'm done here."

My neck clicks again, and I feel launched forward. My front legs bend into a slight bow before I regain my quadruped stance. I hold a hoof against my head, recovering my sense of self.

"That was not the first time she's had that much control, is it?" asks Mr. Mansion.

I sigh. "I plead the fifth."

"Very well," he says, almost in satisfaction. "I'll give you until the end of the week to complete the task I have assigned to you. Until we meet again." The stallion's picture vanishes, leaving the words 'Connection lost' on the screen.

I slowly trot back up the stairs. "Well, this ought to be a story for the gang."

FRED-E chitters frantically.

"If you have any better ideas, FRED-E, I'm all ears," I say with a humorless chuckle.
---
Note: Gambling at the Jacks Casino is restricted to a maximum number of wins. The guards will graciously toss you outside on your flank if you try to play any more than this maximum.
---
-You have gained 'Accepted' status by the New Pegasus strip securitrons. Regardless of which form you assume, they will no longer attack you on sight. Please note that aggravating them is still not recommended if you wish to avoid being vaporized.
-New Quest: Obtain the Cobalt Chip.

-Optional: Sneak into the Jacks Casino as 'Spades'.

-Optional: Kill Penny.

Author's Note:

This may seem a bit shorter than usual, but I felt that this was a good stopping point for the time being.

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