• 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. 18: Courtesy of the Pike

"Compassion comes first. Mercy is the second part." ~Pa Grape

---

"You know what this joint could use?" asks a guy in a vest. "More hookers."

"You go right ahead and tell yourself that, buddy," I say, trotting away from that stallion as quickly as possible.

Believe it or not, I have my fill of uncomfortably suggestive content covered already. It's all thanks to Nuisance- I mean Anew Sense. How did I not know that she was that vulgar before today? It's a mystery. I can't even get feedback from Mezzo's thoughts due to how disturbed she is, and that mare can intimidate an emotionless robot.

I retrieve what little I handed over at the front desk and open the door out. Some pony in a lab coat turns her head before strolling right up to me. "Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice that Mr. Mansion actually let you in the Heat 33. You might be just the kind of pony we could use."

'Spades' raises an eyebrow. "Should I know you?"

"Right, right, sorry." She slightly adjusts her glasses. "You can call me Dins Fiyah. I'm one of the Follower's doctors."

"Oh, them." I nod and motion with a hoof. "How's Misty Fly doing?"

"Last I checked, she was in good health." She grabs one side of her glasses again. "Though, she's still miffed about some idiot that punched up our best bet for a water talisman maintenance pony."

"I... see." I guess Stratus's apologies and supply efforts aren't enough to wash away that first impression. "So, what did you mean when you said you could use me?"

"Well, records show that Mr. Mansion has been in charge of his casino and the main investor in the other big family-owned casinos for over three hundred years. Yet if the static image is to be believed, he's no alicorn princess. Something else is in place, keeping him alive."

"You think he's hiding a curse or a personal fountain of youth?" I ask, half-joking.

"Maybe, but we won't know without getting a little bit closer." She pulls out something from her pocket that looks like a dusty, refrigerator magnet. "But you've already gotten close to him and walked out without incident. If you could find a suitable terminal inside the Heat 33, you could attach this tracer bug, and soon we'll be encrypting all the data we need."

"What exactly do you need it for?" I cross my front hooves while raising a brow.

Dins' eyes seem to grow in excitement. "What if we found the key to extended life through a strand of DNA... Mansion's DNA? If that kind of perk could be isolated, replicated, and distributed to those that are on Death's doorstep... it could create such a huge change in the world."

I shrug as I take hold of the 'tracer bug'. "Meh, I didn't have anything better to do, not to mention a lack of loyalty to Mansion beyond mutual interest in what we can get out of each other."

"Great!" Her smile looks a bit less professional and more genuine. "Come talk to me as soon as you're done." With that, she trots away while making some scribbles against a clipboard.

I look to the left. "Got the goods?"

Tilaso procures the cobalt chip. "Yes, Your Majesty."

I look to the right. "Are you up for scanning for probable terminals?"

FRED-E emits his typical pattern of chirps.

"Alright, colts. Let's move."

They both seem to understand as they follow me. Along the road, I hear some random bits of rumor and information. One of which involves a blind mare somehow infiltrating the White Sock Society and freeing a cowboy's son from the storage closet using nothing more than an old sword. I'm half-inclined to believe that since it sounds impossible to make up. But I've got things of my own to worry about, like cracking computer codes with my robotic expert.

---

"What do you mean you don't know how to hack an old terminal?" I look at the sprite-bot like he's crazy.

He chitters a bit before producing what sounds like a sparking outburst.

"So you know how to scan an immediate thought process from a securitron, but can't do the same for a stationary computer?"

FRED-E beeps a short affirmative.

I sigh. "Whoever designed you in the first place must have been really, really bored to pick such precise programs."

I shake my head as I log out, turn it back on, and attempt to hack the correct password three more times. Eventually, it shows a small menu of topics on screen. At this point, I shake my head and slip on the tracer bug against the underside. Hopefully, this is sufficient for Fiyah's needs.

"Alright, I'm heading up to the big stallion's office." I glance back at Tilaso. "Don't drink all the apple juice on tap while I'm gone."

On the elevator, I feel some prideful indignation bubbling to the surface. Against my better judgement, I allow Mezzo to use the body and transform back into my default size and colors. She needs a way to blow off steam. I'm sure getting mad at the guy that doesn't give a crud will be productive for all of us. I'm also getting progressively worse at stating sarcastic remarks in a properly sardonic fashion.

As the doors open, she marches along the path that leads down the stairs and to the giant screen. She plucks out the ridiculously over-hyped chip and holds it up.

"Here! Happy now, you fossil?"

"Temper, temper, Ms. Fortissimo," the voice box calmly responds. "That's how I can tell it's you. Might I speak with the one who is actually in charge? It's a bit more of a... delicate matter."

"She can hear you just fine no matter which of us is dominant," Mezzo points out, still foul. "You might as well say it now, because I'm about to walk out of here without so much as a goodbye."

"Very well." The image flickers ever so slightly. "For starters, place the chip onto this particular scanner." A small, slot-like sleeve is released from one spot on his 'desk'. Mezzo grunts, but complies with the request. The chip slides in as a few noises are emitted from the system.

"Now then," Mansion continues talking, "I'm under the impression that regardless of species, all ponies seem to understand financial incentive for accomplishing menial tasks. Therefore, this should keep you mildly happy: A generous donation worth five times the amount of money that was spent in my original order for the chip."

A mechanical claw sets down a bag that looks ready to burst. It makes a collective clinking noise, making me wonder how Mezzo manages to put it all away without displacing everything else in my saddlebags.

"I guess it's a start," grumbles the monarch personality.

"The next thing that will have to take place is a few additional updates. However, the other terminal which will grant me that kind of power control is currently resting under lands besieged by the savages that are a mockery of an empire. You'll need to find a way to get to that terminal and survive long enough to access its controls. I'll give you the chip once more so that the process can be completed."

"It's kind of sad that you need our help to infiltrate the Imperials' base of operations." Mezzo idly pats my mane.

"I can't be everywhere at once yet," says Mansion nonchalantly. "But, I will be able to soon enough."

"You go right ahead and tell yourself that, cyber-dick." Mezzo rolls her eyes before taking the cobalt chip back.

---

It doesn't take 'Spades' any time at all to find the lab coat after exiting Mansion's nearly empty casino.

"I put the thing on the thing," I tell Fiyah. "Did you get anything?"

"Only about thirty seconds' worth of data before the bug got fried," she answers. "What we've gathered and reverse-encrypted isn't exactly what we were looking for. It's mostly raw mind to data translations, nothing about youthful DNA." She sighs as she taps a few buttons on some device on her upper limb area. "So much for helping anypony reach extended life. None of this technology that's in the description can be duplicated easily." She pulls out a few things from her pockets, despite there being no feasible way for so many potion bottles to fit in there. "Still, you did what I asked. Here, take these medical supplies for the contribution. Disappointments are sometimes better than wasting time, wondering what could have been. Know what I mean?"

"I... guess?" I shrug my shoulder, not sure what I'm supposed to make of that question.

She walks away, headed for the big gate. I presume that she's heading back to the Followers' main fort in Freewall. Meanwhile, a rich stallion in a top hot is doing a terrible job pretending to sneak up in front of me.

"It seems you've been garnering a bit of a reputation here in the Strip." His voice sounds simultaneously amused and bored. "It might be in your best interest to learn that such attention has also caught the eye of Emperor Taller-Than-Us. To you and your associates, he offers one acquittal from all past sins committed specifically in the Imperials' wake. As well, he offers the invitation to meet with him personally. Very few ponies are so privileged, and fewer still are of such fragile-appearing demureness."

I, however, am not so amused. "Somebody's being a high horse today... not to mention stupid for allowing somepony who has killed so many Imperials to even receive an illusion of being free from blame."

"I am but a humble messenger of the Empire," he insists nonchalantly. "What you make of his offer matters very little. Just don't keep him waiting too long." He then turns around, not interested in a response.

...

"He should've just worn a sign around him that said, 'This is a trap,' " says Tilaso. "It would have been less conspicuous."

I finish a bottle of dirt-flavored water in about three gulps. "Considering they sent an entire squad on the open road the last time we met, I don't think 'subtlety' is part of their regime."

It sounds like FRED-E electronically chuckles at that.

"Well, I'm bored of throwing caps into the garbage." I flip the edge of my mane. "I'm going to go make sure they didn't scuff up my armor at the N.C.R. ranger station."

"But, Spades," perks up Tilaso, "we've hardly spent any caps except for some rations ever since we set hoof beyond the gate."

I look down at him. "Is that so? Hmm... If you could have anything in the whole world right now, what would it be?"

"Uh... are there any weapons' masters that sell plasma grenades?"

I blink a couple times. "Wow, that's... oddly specific. Considering most of these places are about the food and vacuum cleaners, I mean 'card tables', the best starting point for something like that is probably going to be the Platinum Rush."

I trot a couple of feet away and toss my empty bottle into a burning waste bucket. Two ponies that are standing near it for heat glance at me. The first one turns back to the flames unperturbed. The other, however, turns a tint paler and gallops away in fright. Seriously, who is this pony whose visage I've taken, and how come the few that recognize her all cower in fear?

I'll figure it out later. Maybe by then, Baane and Stratus will come back.

---
Meanwhile...

"And this is the ultimate war machine depicted in our future," says the Blaster colt. "Once we make it rise out of the lake, we'll be able to wipe out all of the mindless savages by dropping explosives from the sky."

"Oh, wow..." Stratus mumbles with no amount of enthusiasm whatsoever. "I've never seen anything like that before."

The colt smiles. "I'm glad I was able to impress this story upon you. Maybe now, our greatness can be properly displayed to the outside world."

Baane leans over slightly toward Stratus. "Evidently, this kid doesn't get sarcasm."

"I noticed," Stratus whispers back. She barely holds back an exasperated sigh.

The littlest pony in the room keeps going like he doesn't have a clue. "So, I'm sure you have a lot of questions about our tribe after that. Whatever you want to know, go ahead and ask."

Baane adjusts his sunglasses. "So, if that's your future, then what do you need from us to get there?"

"I hear that Nickel's been having problems with the power supply," mentions the colt. "Oh, and Dime's been working on plans for how to make that war machine rise, but could use a few extra parts. You should talk to them if you want details."

---
-Your infamy among the Empire's Imperials has been removed this one time. Their tolerance will not extend so far again.
-Your companions have gained a small bit of fame from the Blasters. They will no longer be attacked on sight... at least not by this particular village.

Author's Note:

Sorry if nothing really happened in this chapter, but I felt like now was as good a time as any to go through some pudding before getting to the proof.

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