• Published 6th Feb 2014
  • 905 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?

  • ...
8
 21
 905

Ch. 2: Faults

Faults

“Guilty until proven innocent. An ancient concept for this modern age.” ~Yami

---

At first, I’m shooting lizards as easily as the bottles on the fence. However, my gun runs out of ammunition as three rush my position. I hear hissing and see soulless eyes that stare at their prey. My hoof wraps around the dagger on my saddle bag. Before I know it, I’m spinning around in place and slicing the geckos open. I feel a few claws scratch my sides before the hissing stops. Daisy Doe uses the pause in the action to reload her weapon. I can’t blink.

“Holy spit!” I manage to gasp after breathing so heavily, “I forgot how big those geckos can grow.”

“You should see the radioactive ones out to the far east,” chuckles Daisy.

Even though I’m breathing hard, I still manage to give her an “are you serious” look. She retorts with a nod. So, I guess she isn’t kidding. How is any pony supposed to fight off a monster lizard and radiation poisoning simultaneously?

“Anyway…” She reaches a hoof off to the side. (Since when did leather barding have room for pockets?) “As promised, here’s a modest sum of caps to get you off the ground.”

The pouch she presents looks big enough to hold about thirty of those things. The clinking noise inside sounds like that amount as well. I reach over and put the pouch in my other bag, figuring that I’ll count it later. I place my dagger back in its sleeve. Out of the corner of my eye, a mid-aged colt comes galloping toward us.

“Please! You’ve got to help me!” he jogs in place frantically.

“What happened?” Daisy asks.

“What’s wrong?” I inquire at the same time.

“My girlfriend went up to that cliff behind the rusted radio tower,” he explains, “I’m ill-prepared to fight off so many of those geckos. I need someone else to help.”

Something is… off about his insistence. I can’t really pinpoint it, but the sound of his voice is fluctuating between panicking and insincerity. I don’t understand why it sounds like that or how I can even hear emotional adjectives. The voices in my head start to quietly argue while one of them decides that she wants to control my mouth.

“If she’s your companion, then why don’t you at least try to save her yourself?”

He stops jogging in place abruptly and leans back a little. I don’t think either of us was expecting my sudden question. I’m not even sure that it really is my question.

“Because I need help,” he repeats.

“Now that I think about it,” says Daisy out loud, “isn’t that a 9mm at your side? Even a first-time shooter can get in some decent kills before having to retreat and call for backup.”

“And I haven’t heard any shots out here recently besides our own,” I add.

He’s quiet.

Too quiet.

“Well I’ll be darned,” he smirks, “You’re not as dumb as you look.”

The next three seconds happen so quickly. A glow of magic lifts his gun from its holster. A shot connects and I see a trail of blood following a disarmed Daisy. A dagger handle is fit into my mouth as I gallop forward. I spin around and see another trail of blood as the colt’s head rolls away from his falling body.

The minute that follows all of that drags on like a dream. My hooves start rummaging around his corpse. I gather his gun, the respective ammunition, a lead pipe, and twelve bottle caps. My eyes are half-lidded as I lean down to look at the headless neck. My tongue tastes the wet iron briefly. I slowly turn back around after hearing a pained breathing noise.

When I see my shooting instructor, the dream-like state ends and I gasp in horror.

“Daisy Doe!” I exclaim.

---

“This might sting a little,” warns Doctor Prickard.

I just don’t understand it. I barely felt those gecko claw scratches earlier. Why does a little, wet cotton ball cause me to tear up? A couple of the voices in my head urge the rest of me to keep the liquid pride within eyelid distance. One voice decides that it hates rubbing alcohol more than scratches. All of the voices ignore my insistence to shut up.

“How is she doing?” I squeak in reference to Daisy Doe.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry too much,” the doctor answers, “Daisy’s a trooper. I’ve seen her take at least five other serious hits over the years. After each time, she’s managed to get back out in the field, thinning the gecko population. Hay, I bet she could take out the whole mess of Powder Gangers if she had the right motivation.”

“Doc, I told you,” calls Daisy from the mattress on the other side of the room, “I don’t like to brag.”

“Of course.” He smiles. “That’s what the rest of the folks in Fondsprings are for.”

She doesn’t argue and settles on letting out a tired sigh.

So Daisy Doe has a bit of a reputation around this town, I think. I cannot tell if my own thought voice is admiring or teasing the idea. My own thoughts sound so foreign to me.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” Daisy pipes up, “In all the excitement, I didn’t get to tell you. Next time you’re in the saloon, you should introduce yourself to Rupee Carbuncle, the owner. She likes to get to know every pony new in town.”

“All right, then.” I nod as I get up to leave. “See you soon, Doctor Prickard.”

“Hopefully not too soon,” he chuckles.

---

The doors swing back and forth behind me. I get a few stares, though not nearly as long and scared as this morning. I trot on over to the counter. A pegasus is using her feather to wipe a glass in boredom more so than out of a need for a clean cup. Then in just as much boredom, she sets the glass aside before turning her attention to me.

“Well if it isn’t the one who gave Kettle a much-needed bit-slap,” she comments, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Rupee.”

“Forte,” I say while nodding once, “The pleasure is mine.”

“You seem a little different from the alicorns I’ve heard stories about,” Rupee notes, “What’s your story, Forte?”

“Apparently, I got shot right in the horn,” I start while pointing a hoof to the stump on my forehead, “But before waking up in Doctor Prickard’s office, I hardly remember anything aside from some basic terms and general historical tidbits.”

“Another amnesia case?” she asks while raising an eyebrow in disbelief. She shakes her head before continuing, “Is it really that time of the year again?”

“Huh?” I wonder. What does she mean by ‘another’?

“Meh.” She shrugs with her wing. “It’s not that important. I’m kind of more interested in your cutie mark.”

I glance back at the sixteenth note symbol before turning back to Rupee Carbuncle.

“I never heard of an alicorn with a cutie mark before,” she says, “I figured that they were all supposed to be blank flanks that all served some large, divine something or other. What’s your special talent?”

“I, uh… don’t know,” I admit.

“For real?” She chuckles. “That’s the most selective case of amnesia I’ve ever heard.”

“I suppose it is,” I smile awkwardly while rubbing my neck sheepishly. This is quickly returned to a neutral standing position as a certain mental voice tells me to take pride. “So, Rupee, what’s been going on around here?”

“Well, until you showed up, not much,” she answers, “Aside from the Powder Gangers and their threats to storm the town.”

Two simultaneous feelings try to take over at once. A slightly neutral feeling tells me that this is an everyday occurrence out here in the wasteland. The dominant feeling that makes me open my eyes, however, is shocked at how nonchalant Rupee sounds. The feeling overtakes my mouth and its next words.

“Storm the town?” I echo, “Shouldn’t you take threats like that seriously?”

“Nah,” she dismisses, “That ‘gang’ is more broken up than ever these days. Kettle’s boys hardly make up a fraction of the crooks over at the correctional facility north of here.”

Her answer just leaves even more questions running through my thoughts.

“What exactly are Kettle’s boys after?” I inquire.

“About a week ago, a guy named Pot from a caravan trader said he needed a place to lay low for a while. We thought he was just shaken up a bit, so we let him borrow a place. Two days later, Kettle came by demanding that the towns’ ponies hoof him over. Still, he never came with more than a pistol to back up his threats. Now that you have it, I don’t think we really have to worry about him anymore.”

I wouldn’t be too sure of that, I think as I look to the side, Ponies that are insistent on getting their way usually don’t give up after just one mishap.

I don’t want to say that out loud, so I press for more information that I can.

“You said something about a correctional facility,” I remind Rupee.

“The New Canterlot Republic had set up a prison in which the convicts broke their backs working on the railroads. A lot of rocks out there were too tough to break with a pickaxe or shovel. So, dynamite was sent over to make the work more efficient. It turned out that it wasn’t such a good idea to put explosive sticks into the hooves of stallions that wanted nothing more than to kill the warden and the rest of the guards.”

That explains the term ‘Powder’ Gangers, I suppose. But now there’s another name that I find myself unfamiliar with.

“What is the New Canterlot Republic?”

“Wow, you really do have amnesia,” she mutters before explaining, “The N.C.R. is a group of military ponies trying to restore a peace similar to the original Canterlot of way back before the war. They’re mostly decent folks, but even I can tell that they’re spread way too thin trying to cover so much land. It leaves them vulnerable to savage killers like the Empire.”

I’m about to ask another question when Rupee plows on like she is expecting that topic.

“The Empire is full of a bunch of ancient world imitators. Ponies in that group are called Imperials. They seek to bring Equestria into a state of anarchy and rip apart any freedoms from the ponies that have a different opinion. They tend to avoid technology like the plague and only a few of them carry guns. The rest tend to stick to swords and spears.”

“That doesn’t sound very practical in this day and age,” I comment.

“You and every pony else would agree.” Rupee nods. “But what the Empire lacks in innovation, it makes up for in sheer numbers. I guess some ancestral urge finally caught up with them to fight against cloaks of a storm.”

“Wait, fight against what?” I raise an eyebrow.

“That’s just a joke that’s been passed by some of the travelers that have seen Imperials before,” she says, “I don’t really get it either.”

I finally sit down on one of the round chairs. Powder Gangers, N.C.R. troops, and Imperial soldiers are basically at odds with each other and every pony else is caught in the middle. Add to that my little understanding of why Mr. Mansion would send a securitron to save me and I have a mind full of chattering voices trying to make sense of it all.

“This is a lot to take in.” I exhale.

“Tell you what, Forte,” Rupee offers, “Since you gave Kettle the kick in the guts that I’ve been meaning to give him for a while, why don’t I give you the first Sparkle Cola free of charge?”

I hear the sound of a cap popping off and a bottle of some fizzling liquid gets pushed to the counter space in front of me. It takes a couple of seconds for my thoughts to gather coherently.

“Oh, um, thank you,” I tell her.

“Don’t mention it,” she smiles before leaning in close and whispering, “Seriously, don’t. The last thing I need is a group of fancy checker-suited ponies coming in here expecting a round on the house.”

“Uh, got it,” I whisper back.

She leans back and resumes her small smile.

She’s smaller than me, my mind points out, So why do I feel afraid of her?

---

“Scavenge-lick”: You have this strange urge to loot and take one lick of ponies that you decapitate. What the hell is wrong with you? This “perk” doesn’t apply to bodies that you didn’t personally kill, nor does it apply to enemies of any species other than ponies. In fact for most deceased enemies, unless the items are separated from them, you can’t bring yourself to loot. You have a rather strange morality. That or maybe you’re partially insane. Who knows?

Author's Note:

This ended up being a shorter chapter than I wanted it to be.
Oh well.

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