• 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?

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Ch. 3: Helping Pot Call the Kettle

Helping Pot Call the Kettle

“No good deed goes unpunished.” ~Nauthilax

---

I flap my wings a couple of times. It gives me enough airspace to glide uphill. I don’t know why I’m so interested in visiting this “Pot” pony. I just know that a voice is bothering me, telling me that I have nothing better to do. This is true, but that doesn't mean I like what I’m doing.

This is the place Rupee Carbuncle described. Out of courtesy, I knock on the door that has one board attached to the front. I then slowly push it in. It takes some effort for me to squeeze through the narrow door way especially since the door is pushing to close itself. Finally, I manage to get all the way in before the door shuts. A click of a rifle’s safety catches my ear in the barely lit room.

“Come any closer and you’ll be missing a few body parts,” warns a stallion’s voice, “Who are you and what do you want with me?”

I take a quick look over the pony holding the gun in a magical hold. He’s wearing a plaid shirt under some overalls’ straps. His mane and coat are a simple brown and tan respectively.

“What I ‘want’ is for you to calm down and point that gun elsewhere,” I answer as calmly as I can, “I just want to talk to you about something.”

“Nothing personal, ma’am,” he replies as the safety clicks a second time, “You just caught me off guard. Seems we’re off to a rough start. Why don’t we start over?”

I nod in agreement. “You’re the one known as Pot, correct? My name is Forte Pianissimo.”

“Really?” Pot smirks. “So is your specialty being very quiet?”

The joke is lost on me, but I chuckle anyway. “If only I actually knew.”

“I have to say, you’re one of the tallest pegasi I’ve ever seen out here,” he idly comments.

I swear that a cross-breeze is passing through the walls of this building. It is during this awkward silence that Pot takes a closer look at me. Specifically, he looks at the jagged, little stump on my head. I can tell that I’m not the only one in here feeling their muscles tense up.

“You’re an alicorn?” he asks the million-cap question.

“Y-yes,” I stammer before inhaling sharply.

The gun that he was floating up before radiates in his magic aura again.

“Wait! Wait!” I yell while holding my hooves up in front of me, “I want to help get Kettle off your back!”

The aura dissipates as the gun is pointed away.

“Why should I believe you?” Pot asks carefully, “What would the alicorns gain from helping one stallion fight off some Powder Gangers?”

I take a slow breath before answering.

“I’m not helping for the sake of the alicorns. Stars above, I don’t even remember what their goals are. I think losing my horn had something to do with that.”

I'm impressed that his voice is still even when he asks, “Then what made you decide that you’d help me?”

“Honestly?" Though my head is turned to my left, my eye still looks partially in the stallion's direction. "It’s because I had nothing better to do. Plus, Kettle’s breath stinks.”

Another breeze meets my ears. Silence absorbs any other sound. A snicker escapes Pot’s lips. This is followed by another. A chuckle is added. Finally, he just lets out a full round of laughter. He raises his head while closing his eyes. Still, he laughs. I just look at him and blink every so often.

What does he find so funny? I ask myself. For once, the other voices in my head have no answer.

“Oh, man,” he manages to calm down enough to say, “Here I thought you were going to try and bulls*** me with some line of ‘justice’ or ‘the greater good’. An honest, non-moral answer like that is… refreshing.”

I don’t get it.

---

It won’t take long for Kettle to round up his buddies and come back. At least, that is the impression that Pot has. He tells me that we are going to need help fighting them off. Two ponies versus a gang isn’t exactly a favorable situation. He suggests talking to the townsfolk to see if they’ll offer a hoof. Idly, he mentions that Daisy Doe is friendlier with him than most.

Knowing that Daisy Doe is probably still at Doctor Prickard’s, I half-gallop, half-fly toward his humble abode. The door is unlocked and I enter. Daisy Doe looks to be in fairly good condition in spite of her recent injuries. She’s already stretching her legs.

“Speak of the diablo,” chuckles Doctor Prickard, “We were just talking about you. Let me guess, bloatsprite stingers this time.”

I shake my head. “I’m not here on behalf of my own needs this time Doctor.” I turn to the room’s other occupant. “You know Pot, right? Well, he’s kind of looking for help in his disagreement with Kettle and he suggested you.”

“Say no more,” Daisy Doe perks up, “I’m in.”

“Wait, really?” I nearly trip at her initiative. “Just like that?”

“Just like that,” she echoes, “I have a feeling I’m going to have to deal with Kettle one way or the other. He claims that he’ll leave Fondsprings alone once he gets Pot, but I know his type. There will be a reason he comes back and forces a fight onto us. I say that the sooner we take care of Kettle, the better.”

Such determination, comments one of my mind’s voices, I am glad she is an ally.

“However between you, me, and Pot, we’re not exactly a force to be reckoned with,” Daisy points out, “If we could get some other folks in town to help out, that would at least give us extra numbers to work with. Talk to Rupee. She’s pretty good at swaying ponies’ opinions toward a town-worthy cause. Meanwhile, I’ll scout around south to see if Kettle’s posse starts heading this way.”

With that, she’s trotting out the door without another word. There is still one thing that bothers me, though. With all of the potential allies, there are just as many potential casualties. I look back at the remaining occupant of the doctor’s office.

“Fondsprings may need their doctor more than ever today,” I comment.

Doctor Prickard sighs, “Well, I don’t have a lot of medical supplies left, but I’ll lend you what I can.”

“Much appreciated,” I bow my head. He offers a few stimpaks and healing potions that I carefully place in the saddlebag opposite to the one that holds my ammunition. With that said and done, I head on out toward the saloon.

---

I want to avoid getting on Rupee Carbuncle’s bad side. It isn’t a matter of whether I could kick her flank in a fight if I needed to. What is the matter is that I need some persuasion to convince her to help me. If the Doctor’s vigor tester is anything to go by, then my silver tongue is mediocre at best. That’s not exactly the right kind to recruit town ponies into a battle. A friendly chat is different from asking for a large favor.

I walk in through the swinging doors. I try to hold as neutral an expression as possible. However, my hooves decide to take very mechanical steps instead of walking normally over to the counter. Rupee is busy tapping the radio that sounds busted. I make a noise similar to clearing my throat.

“What can I do you for?” she asks after she looks up.

“I had a little chat with Pot,” I begin.

“Quite a mess he’s in, huh?” she chuckles without amusement, “To be honest, I was hoping we’d be able to stay out of their little squabble.”

We’re going to have a problem then, aren’t we? I ask in thought, not looking forward to what I must say next.

“The thing is I came here to ask you to help us deal with Kettle,” I tell her, “You could convince some of Fondsprings’ locals to stand up and defend their home.”

“Look, Piani.” She crosses her hooves while leaning against the counter. “I like you and all, but unless you’ve got a solid game plan for dealing with a bunch of convicts, I am not going to drag any pony out to their quick death.”

Maybe they won’t have to die, I say while placing the wrist of my hoof under my chin.

“Hypothetically, could the townsfolk get enough lucky hits on Kettle if he and his posse were distracted by a much larger target?”

Rupee perks her head up. Apparently, that isn’t the question she is expecting.

“Well, I suppose that’s possible. But where are you going to find a target like that?”

That is my cue to aim my head up with my eyes closed. I open my wings wide and flap once for emphasis. I only wish there was a sunbeam and a chorus of angels to complete the image.

“You don’t mean you, do you?” With the way her hoof is positioned over her chest, it almost gives the impression of some pony having a heart attack.

“I can take quite a beating,” I state confidently, “Besides, in the worst-case scenario, what would you rather sacrifice? The life of a strange alicorn that you’ll probably never meet again now? Or the lives of your neighbors when Kettle decides to do a full sweep of the town later?”

We stand there looking at each other in silence. Finally, Rupee lets out a sigh.

“Alright,” She nods once. “We’ll give this mane-crazed plan of yours a try. I’ll round up a few of the locals and you’ll have our support when the time comes.”

I smile a little at her agreement.

“Still, we could probably be better equipped.” She scratches her head before slapping one hoof on top of the other. “Merchant got a new shipment of leather armor in just yesterday. He’d be at the general store just down the road.”

“Merchant,” I echo, “Something about that name doesn’t exactly say ‘charity’ to me.”

Rupee nods to my doubt and says, “No matter what the situation, he’ll always make you barter for his supplies. Good luck with him.”

I sigh as I fold my wings. As I prepare to head out of the saloon, I turn back to Rupee.

“Piani?” I wonder.

“Your name is Pianissimo, right?” she points out, “I think shortening it to Piani makes it sound cuter.”

“Um, thanks?” I slowly and awkwardly trot out the door.

---

The earth pony called Merchant is aptly named. Even though Fondsprings is practically preparing for a war against Powder Gangers, he is still trying to force barter. He claims that lending his shipment of leather armor to the towns’ ponies is a 1000 cap investment. This is rather disheartening. Just because I’m a pony of a more powerful race does not automatically mean that I am a millionaire.

Fortunately, my mind has a side that can properly handle the ‘difficult’ negotiations. I make sure that my slit irises stare straight at him without blinking. I need him to know that what I say now is important.

“Have you taken a good look around lately? I mean a really good look around you. What part of this store of yours is actually worth one thousand bottle caps? Do you really think the Powder Gangers will care which side you took? When a bunch of escaped convicts come in here and blow this place to Kingdom Come…”

I stomp my hoof once for emphasis. The result is a satisfyingly loud echo.

“… then and only then can you tell me that you’re worth that much of any pony’s personal wealth.”

I see no sense of a softened heart, but I do see that Merchant is shaken up. He sighs.

“All right, you’ve made your point, lady,” he relents, “I’ll make sure the folks get what they need. The only condition is that I’ll be defending from inside my store. My stock is my first priority. You understand, right?”

“Good, I’m glad we understand each other,” I say as I turn around and walk out the door. Only after it closes does my façade sizzle and my eyes resume their gentle blinking pattern.

By Celestia’s mane, I mentally swear, I scared myself with that performance.

He should know better than to demand charity from us.

Stop that! I demand to the monarchial voice. Thankfully, it obliges.

---

Unlike my previous two associates, Merchant does not point me to any pony else from whom I can get help. I fly on over to Pot’s hideout. The place doesn’t look any worse for wear. A glare from the roof flashes light into my eyes for a second. I adjust my wings to a pace in which I can hover just above the obtrusive thing.

When I can get a closer look without blinding myself, I see what looks like a potion bottle. However, the side of the bottle has a strange marking on it: a thorn-covered heart with an arrow pointing down.

What in the world is this? I wonder. How did it get up here?

I tap the bottle with a hoof. There is no response aside from the small ting noise of glass. Well, as long as it doesn’t explode, I decide to add it to my bag dedicated to holding medicine. It’s a little difficult to angle myself to where I can budge the mystery bottle. But once I manage that, it slides into the opened bag with ease.

Aren’t you forgetting something? one of my thinking voices asks.

With a light gasp, I quickly head back to the ground. The landing is a little louder than I would have liked, but I’m still on all fours. I shove the door open and head inside.

“You’re back,” Pot noted, “Did Daisy Doe agree to help?”

“Agree?” I echo, “She did more than agree. In fact the instant I mentioned Kettle, she was all over it. She essentially laid the foundation for our entire plan for us.”

“I knew we could count on her. You don’t need to bother with the details. I’ll fight Kettle even when it’s the last thing you do.”

If it’s the last thing you do.”

“Right. If. I forgot that my death isn’t imminent when there’s help.”

The door bangs open and interrupts our discussion.

“Look alive, sugar cubes!” Daisy Doe orders, “Kettle and his goons are heading in fast!”

“Already?” I can’t help opening my eyes in surprise.

“Well, let’s not keep him waiting,” Pot sighs. He already has his gun out and floating.

It takes me a couple seconds while I shove some of the loose ammunition around in my saddlebag. When I finally grab hold, I have Daisy’s spare varmint rifle in my grasp, ready for shooting gangers.

Let’s go make some noise, I think as the three of us gallop out the door.

---

My theory is correct. As the largest target in the street, the six Powder Gangers focus their gunfire in my direction. My return fire from an aerial position is mostly for distraction as some wild shots of the local ponies manage to neutralize two of the enemies. The good news is my plan is working. The bad news is that it’s working.

In retrospect, going into a gunfight without some kind of protection is a really bad idea, my thoughts criticize me.

None of the bullets hit to the point where they can sink into my skin. Hay, I’m surprised that my neckerchief doesn’t take a single rip. However, there are enough close scrapes that I can see trails of blood coming out of vessels that I’m not even sure exist. I try my utmost to ignore the burning pain in the various places. I think I see a few feathers float away too. Circling around, I see that there is only one enemy in uniform left.

Kettle.

I let go of my rifle which has been out of ammunition for at least two seconds. I can’t easily reload from my saddlebags right now. Quickly, I reach to my side and grab the handle of my dagger in my teeth. I then perform one of the stupidest stunts a flying pony can do. I dive.

Unlike his posse, Kettle’s too busy firing at Pot to notice the large, blue blur coming in to say hello. He doesn’t even realize after my dagger is buried into his windpipe that he’s lost. His eyes roll back as I tumble head over hoof along the ground.

In all the pain, I can’t even bring myself to properly sheathe my knife. It falls to the ground right next to me. I reach into my medicine-filled saddlebag. I snap the top off a potion bottle and desperately drink the liquid contents. Feeling slightly better, I set the empty bottle down as I let the healing water do its work.

It takes a few seconds of staring for me to realize that I’m looking at the bottle with the strange heart-and-arrow symbol. It only takes a second more for me to start worrying. My breathing quickens as I hear the acceleration of my heartbeat. Threads of light start flooding my vision.

Wait, threads? I think.

Indeed, there are threads made of light racing around me. At this moment, I wonder why I am not panicking so much. My open mouth spreads across my face in a smile. Confidence quickly replaces my anxiety. The lights slowly fade out of my view and I take a long deep breath.

Deeper voices than the ones I am used to speak to my mind. I can identify three of them half-growling, half-speaking. Yet for the life of me, I cannot understand their meaning. It is like trying to listen through a harsh sandstorm and the growling speech is muffled.

I take a look at one of the bullet scrapes that I had. I can’t help but compare the healing potion’s effects to flesh burning but in reverse. Within a few seconds, the bleeding is stopped and the skin is without blemish. All that remains are some small spots of scar tissue.

I look around and find my dagger. Oddly enough, the blood that once blemished its surface is no longer there. I pick the dagger up and sheathe it. After that, I spit out the layer of dust on my tongue.

A sound of hooves trotting gets closer.

“Well, I’ll be darned,” says Rupee Carbuncle shaking her head, “You actually did it.”

“I think we all did it,” I redirect credit where credit is due.

“Sure, but you managed to finish off one of the biggest jerks this side of Equestria,” she insists, “Fondsprings owes you a favor. How about a discount on anything you’d like from the saloon?”

I almost motion to object. But then a smarter voice in my head questions why I would turn down an offer like that. I just saved a town from a good pounding. Reduced prices against me are the least they can do.

“I would like that very much, Rupee.”

---

Thankfully, there is only one casualty that didn’t have an immediately fatal wound. I didn’t get her name, but I decide to help her walk over to the medical hut so that Doctor Prickard can have a look at her. I ask if any pony else saw those threads of light that poured into me. However, no one seems to know what I’m talking about. The topic is dropped immediately.

As the evening sky gives way to a slightly darker night, Pot offers to allow me to spend the night in his current residence. This somehow leads to the subject of standard Poker. Before I know it, we are hoof deep in the game’s rounds.

“So, he was mad at you simply for defending your caravan?” I paraphrase in question.

“Yeah, well, there are ponies like that,” comments Pot nonchalantly, “If you think I have it bad, you should see the number of ponies that want the New Canterlot soldiers dead just for being on duty.”

“Sheesh,” I mutter before telling him, “I call.”

“All right, lay ‘em down.” He flips his cards over and I do the same.

Why they call these groups of cards ‘hands’, I’ll never know. In any case, Pot’s is pretty impressive. He holds three aces and two fives. My ‘hand’ contains the fourth ace, a king, a queen, a jack, and a ten. All of my cards are spades.

“Royal Flush.” Pot whistles. “Are you sure you’ve never played this game before?”

“Not to my knowledge.” I shake my head as I rake in the pot (the caps, not the stallion).

“Well, that was the last of my caps,” he reports, “I guess that’s game over.”

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize you were out.”

“Nah, I’ve still got a few days’ worth of rations. If I get really desperate, I could probably find a few raiders just outside town that I could loot. Sure it’s dangerous out there, but what isn’t dangerous these days?”

His point is fair and I drop the subject.

---
Tip: In hardcore mode, sleeping in a bed does not heal you unless it is owned by you.
---

I don’t know if having five Sparkle Colas is a good breakfast choice, but they sure help me feel better this morning. I can’t really explain why. There’s just a really faint sense of empowerment I get whenever I finish one. In any case, Rupee Carbuncle is more than happy to accept my business.

“So, any idea what you’ll do next, Piani?” she inquires.

I set down my fifth bottle and let out a slow, quiet belch.

“What will I do next?” I echo.

“Yeah,” Rupee nods, “Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy your company. But even I’ll admit that Fondsprings doesn’t have much to offer in the way of things to do.”

“That tussle with Kettle’s herd seemed pretty exciting,” I point out.

“Sure, but we’re not going to trade bullets with him anytime soon, considering his sudden case of death.” She chuckles.

Well, there is one other thing that comes to mind.

“I suppose I would like to eventually find out who shot my horn off,” I admit.

“Ah.” Rupee nods in acknowledgement. "A quest for vengeance then?"

“That,” I consider, “or maybe I’ll try to get in his good graces and get some pointers on how to depower an enemy with that precisely aimed headshot.”

Rupee stands there and blinks. I seem to have developed a habit of saying things that catch her off guard.

“Well, good luck with that,” she finally responds.

I suppose her dismissal does have a point. A lot of ponies have a policy of shooting first and asking questions never. If the mystery pony was any different, then I wouldn’t have a crooked stump somewhere between my mane and my forehead.

“Any ideas where he or she would have gone?” I ask.

“If they’re anything like the other travelers in this part of the country, I’d wager a guess that they went to New Pegasus to blow whatever caps they had left in their saddlebags.”

“New Pegasus?” I query, “What happened to the Old Pegasus?”

Rupee shrugs. “No pony knows. Some say it got blasted by balefire or megaspells, but those weren’t used except on the other side of Equestria all those ages ago.”

New Pegasus, huh? I think, I suppose I could try making my way there at some point.

“In any case,” continues Rupee, “I wouldn’t recommend such a long trot so soon. The closest town to here would be Proper, though there’s nothing really proper about it right now. You’d have to ask the locals there for more details.”

“I see,” I respond even though I don’t completely see.

---

Not every local is happy about the recent victory against Kettle. Merchant takes at least a couple minutes to gripe about how his loan of leather armor is returned with holes in some of the sets. I offer to purchase a set at full price regardless of its condition. Begrudgingly, he agrees. In buying more ammunition for my rifle and Kettle’s revolver, I use up at least seventy-five percent of my winnings from my games with Pot.

Merchant is no longer complaining. Instead, he acts uninterested in any small talk. After I adjust the beat-up leather armor into a tight fit against my upper body, I leave the store without another word.

---

*Pow* *Pow* *Splat*

What is wrong with me today? I charge in galloping while firing Kettle’s Revolver. Since when is a headstrong approach to insects a good idea without a giant flyswatter somewhere nearby? Even though I manage to shoot down a couple bloatsprites, another insect that I can’t identify hits me with a projectile stinger. My vision blurs slightly as I reach for my knife.

I flap my wings to take the high air. The land and sky spin around me as I deliver the killing strike. I manage to land standing up, but my breaths are too heavy to be a good sign. The dead insects’ appendages stop moving. I’m still having trouble seeing, but I manage to feel around my saddlebags for a potion. I pop the top off and drink the contents.

The healing effect helps, but I still don’t feel completely well. I’m still seeing a bit of a blur at the corners of my eyes. It’s difficult to keep my head up, but I think I know what is happening. That insect stinger that hit me has venom in it. No amount of healing potions will get rid of that.

Dang it, I think while I’m still shaking a little, I don’t know if I can just wait this off. I’m also probably too far away from town to get help from Doctor Prickard.

My only hope is that Proper is that much closer than Fondsprings at this point in time. As I trot along, however, I quickly find that my eyes aren’t the only parts of my body not at one hundred percent. There’s this unusual feeling of crawling through mud with giant weights tied behind me. I even look around to make sure nothing is holding me down. There is nothing there.

A burst of dirt and little red pieces pops to my right. I stand corrected about nothing being there. Two ponies in outfits similar to Kettle charge in and start firing pistols.

Powder Gangers, I think, Are they trying to avenge Kettle or are they just shooting for kicks and giggles?

In my haste to grab a weapon, I hear some of my ammo spill out of the bags. The loose bullets jingle on the ground. Still hearing pistol rounds, I take aim with my rifle. But with my vision blurring every so often, my effort amounts to firing blind.

*Bang* *Bang*

I can vaguely make out the one pony rotating his chamber to reload.

*Bang*

His pistol falls to the ground and he lets out a yell in what I can only assume is pain.

“Don’t kill me, please!” he hollers.

I find his request to be out of place considering he was just fine with shooting me a second ago.

*Pow*

My left wing gets hit. Why am I letting the other pony take advantage of my confusion? I fly right in front of him. My rifle is practically gagged into his muzzle.

*Bang*

One point-blank shot later and I’m watching a beautiful, red geyser. I turn to the injured stallion. He’s reaching a hoof for his pistol. His look of terror only worsens as I stomp that gun into pieces. This guy is a shaking mess. I can’t make sense of his complete one-eighty in personality. My monarchial thought voice finds it pathetic.

“Get lost,” I command.

The whimpering mess of a pony turns around and limps away from me. One of my mind’s voices comments that sparing this one life will come back to bite me later. The voice is left ignored as I trot over to the headless corpse nearby. I lean my head down. The taste of iron enters my mouth. I also shuffle through and find some caps and ammunition.

Oddly, the weighty effects of the venom from earlier vanish. I can see clearly and I can move my limbs without hesitation. But the pain in my left wing is still there. As I turn to look, it appears that some red liquid is dripping from the edge of the feathers. I carefully shuffle through my saddlebags before chugging down a health potion. I’m probably going to need to find more of those soon.

In this moment’s reprieve, I reload both of my ranged weapons. I also gather as much of the dropped ammo as I can manage. Briefly, I consider reloading the pistol I got from the dead Powder Ganger, but it’s not exactly a good replacement for Kettle’s Revolver. I guess I’ll just have to find a buyer for it.

I stretch my wings and continue following the road to Proper.

---

-You have gained fame among the ponies of Fondsprings. You are welcome and liked in the town. Rupee Carbuncle now offers you a discount on her food and beverages.

-You have gained infamy among the Powder Gangers. This means that random members of this faction will be more likely to attack you on sight. Persuasion attempts used on these "gentlecolts" will be met with much smaller success rates.

-You can hear three new voices in your head, but you can’t identify the language in which they speak. Maybe drinking random potions that you find on rooftops isn't a good idea, despite the fact that they heal you like normal.

-Fun Fact: Alicorns regenerate health faster when exposed to radiation. Additionally, you are much more resistant to radiation poisoning than other ponies. This effect, however, offers no special resistance against venom.

Author's Note:

And now I've incurred the wrath of every reader possible.

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