• Published 6th Feb 2014
  • 907 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. 5: Gentlecolts, I Give You

Gentlecolts, I Give You

"Corn on the cob."

~Municipal Band

---

The sweet, river of life flows across my tongue. Gas is exchanged with this liquid to exit in a loud exclamation of the soul.

"I've never seen any pony drink so many Sparkle Colas," says Deputy.

I turn to look at him slowly. My eyes move to look at my other side. Six empty glass bottles stand on the counter. The half-empty bottle sitting in front of me is my seventh. I look back at Deputy again.

"It's not that many," I comment.

"Miss Pianissimo," he interjects, "if I let you have any more on my tab, I'm going to be dug into a half-buried hole in the ground."

"That's a better grave marker than a random convict's base," I fire back.

Silence crosses his mouth as I finish my late night drink.

---

For the last time, there's no such thing as curses! Real magic comes from within.

You believe that you can destroy me, but your hatred... only makes me stronger.

Silence, you cur!

We cannot be surpassed by the mortals. They can never understand our perfection.

Can peace properly be established between feral beasts and sentient creatures? I can only hope.

It's taken years of practice, but I think I've finally gotten a hang of these verbal projections.

No, this isn't right. This was never meant to be a weapon!

---

"Shouting only makes it worse!" I exclaim against the images. "Wait... huh?"

I reach my hoof out and flail it around. It bangs a couple times against some wall. The surface sounds about as hollow and fragile as wood, but it isn't breaking. Finally, I manage to slap a light switch. I attempt to slow my heavy breathing in this unfamiliar room.

There appears to be a standing counter in front of some old system of mail slots. Cobwebs make up the bulk of those cubby holes' contents. There also seems to be a space to the right of the wall that can be walked around. Is this Proper's delivery service building?

How did I get here? I wonder. I push against the floor until I'm in a standing position. Let me think. I vanquished several convicts, continued to clear a whole building complex of their presence, rescued an ungrateful whelp that somehow acts as this town's deputy, drank a few colas, and... went for an evening stroll.

I give the place another quick once-over. Huh, it's strange that I'd choose this place to crash. I even closed the door behind me. Well, it beats wasting caps on a night at Cloud Inn 3... wait. What's that?

There appears to be a collection of metal, wires, and microchips on the left end of the counter. Off to the side, I see a dusty copy of a manual. My curiosity gets the better of me as I flip through the small book's pages.

---

With the parts that I can see, I follow the assembly instructions inside the manual to the letter. I'm not sure why I'm putting this machine together. I must be really bored. Anyway, my efforts result in what appears to be a slightly rusted sprite-bot. I can't immediately identify the model number, but I can make out some letters engraved into its side.

F... R... E... D... hyphen... cursive E, I think as I read. FRED-E? That sounds like some comedian's idea for a monster that uses its claws to rip up monsters named Jay-Sun. I shake my head. What happens if I hit this green button?

After I poke it, the button lights up a little and the entire robot lifts into the air. I still can't fathom how an object can float without a unicorn using a levitation spell nearby. Nevertheless, seeing FRED-E function makes me smile ever so slightly. Is that a tear running down my cheek? I quickly wipe it with my wingtip before the robot can see it.

FRED-E releases a few beeps and whirring noises. There are some other indescribable noises originating from its center as well. Is this what's known as 'updating'?

"FRED-E?" I ask.

The sprite-bot responds with three mechanical chirps and turns its speaker in my direction. I suppose this means it can hear me. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Well, it's too late to go back now.

"Um... follow me, please," I say as I turn around.

I start trotting around aimlessly in this small building. As I'm observing, FRED-E floats around a few inches above and behind my tail. Basic voice commands seem to work on this thing.

"Okay, good," I say, "I need to do a quick inventory check."

---

"Right then," I say, more to myself than to the sprite-bot. "My firearms are reloaded. My knife has been wiped about as clean as I can get it. I've probably got enough healing supplies from Dr. Prickard to last for a little longer." I look at Mr. Hash's place across the street and sigh. "I guess my next plan should involve helping Proper Town look for a good sheriff."

"Wahhhhhhhhhhh!"

I jerk my head to look at the orange overcast outside the window. But the noise is already over.

"The hell was that?" I wonder.

FRED-E makes some noises that almost make it sound excited or enthusiastic.

"Really?" I ask, "You think so?"

It chirps twice as if affirming its earlier noises.

"But that defies basic physics of a sound spreading out until it can no longer be heard."

The sprite-bot makes a bunch of wild beeps.

"Okay, sorry!" I back up. "But I can't believe absolutely everything you say. I just met you."

FRED-E makes three syllables of neutral chirping.

I have no idea what it's saying. What the Tartarus am I even doing?

I sigh. "I'm going to go have a word with the N.C.R. ponies to the east of here. Maybe they can spare some justice enforcement in this town."

---

"You're certainly one of the tallest pegasi I've ever seen," comments the commanding officer.

"Yeah, I get that a lot." I scratch my neck just above my neckerchief. "So anyway, some of the ponies at Proper are wondering when they can expect some protection."

She holds an unreadable face. "As much as I'd love to march right in and offer our support, we are currently short on horsepower and ill-equipped to provide a proper means of defense."

That gains a raised reaction from my eyebrow. Why bother setting up a base of operations here if you can't even do anything with it?

"But, I just took out a whole building full of escaped convicts and rescued the town's deputy," I admit, "Technically, I was ill-equipped and short in number."

"While that's certainly impressive, that only establishes invasive power." She readjusts her cap ever so slightly. "To properly patrol the streets, we'll need a lot more willing bodies that can defend themselves from the low lives that try to rebel against our authority."

"What's wrong with these troops?" I ask while pointing to various uniformed ponies that wander the base.

"Like I said before, they're ill-equipped." Her poker face remains impressive yet irritating.

Flipping Tartarus, I think with a frustrated sigh. "Is there any way that the N.C.R. can properly arm itself?"

"Well, there is that correctional facility to the northwest of here," says the commander, "but that's suicide. It's filled from the ground up with convicts that know how to use their dynamite. Are you prepared to face that much brute force?"

"I'm pretty sure the Powder Gangers are already pissed at me," I say, "What are a few explosions on top of the usual greeting of gunfire?"

She mulls it over for a few seconds. "Normally, I wouldn't even consider this, but you did save us some trouble by getting rid of the convicts in that other building." She nods. "All right. I'll radio ahead to Lt. Roofs. He'll be waiting for you on the hilltops outside of the correctional facility."

Why do they have troops ready to take back a correctional facility, but not enough to take a town?

"Come along, FRED-E," I call my sprite-bot, "We've got janitorial engineering to do at the prison."

FRED-E beeps excitedly.

---

It lets out some strained beeps. Is it imitating a pony short of breath?

"Oh, come on," I say while turning my head back to look. "If I can fly this far without losing my breath, you should be able to float even farther without... uh, losing power." I land with a gallop leading into a stop. "Wait, what do you run on anyway?"

The sprite-bot chirps hesitantly.

"You don't know either, huh?"

I swear I hear shame in its beeps.

"Well, if worst comes to worst, I can use that manual and toss spare metal and batteries at you until you start working again."

FRED-E lets out some quick, stunted noises.

"I was kidding! ... mostly." I shake my head as I trot along. "Where is that Lt Roofs?"

An armored stallion quickly marches over a hillside toward me.

"Commander radioed ahead and said that somepony from Fondsprings offered to come with us," he says. "You sure look-"

"-like the tallest pegasus pony you've ever seen?" I finish for him.

"Er... no." He blinks in surprise. "Like one of the luckiest unicorns I've ever met." He examines my stump more thoroughly. "Crap, that's practically gone. Most ponies with that severe a handicap can't even stand firm, let alone walk around."

I shrug. "Necessity has a way of teaching new tricks." I pull out my dagger and twirl it around my hoof before resheathing it. "I've got to hold all my weapons somehow."

He nods. "Fair enough. We could definitely use some resourcefulness today." He briefly points a hoof behind himself. "The other boys are itching to take back the facility. Hope you're ready."

"The Powder Gangers and I have a bit of recent history," I admit. "The ones that aren't dead probably saw my handiwork against their claim in Fondsprings."

"We're moving out." He turns and starts trotting lively. "Stay sharp!"

"Fan-tipping-flastic!" I yell before pulling out K.R.

---

I don't think the recovery operation takes any longer than two minutes. 'Commander' has no idea what she's talking about. These troops are sufficiently equipped. Sure, the Powder Gangers have dynamite and some kind of plasma shooters, but they lack the armor and coordination of group tactics. I only remember firing five shots throughout the entire military invasion.

I can't help but lick two of the corpses' necks before salvaging their plasma pistols. One of the soldiers shivers when he sees me doing that, but I merely shrug at his disgust. My concern is currently at my leather armor or lack thereof. The number of holes in it is immeasurable and the stitching is about to come loose.

It falls to the ground like the oversized rag that it is. I sigh.

"You helped a lot today," says Lt Roofs.

"If you say so," I reply with less certainty.

He shuffled around his duffle a bit before presenting some folded material. "Here. This'll replace whatever it was that you were wearing just now. Consider it a 'thank you' gift."

It appears to be a private's set of N.C.R. armor. I'm surprised that they'd give up even the sweat-stained pieces for a small effort like this. But I digress. I accept the gift with open legs.

"It'll take a while, but we'll be sure to have this place up and running again soon," the lieutenant mentions.

"Mm-hm." My mouth is too occupied as I dress myself.

"Sir!" One of the soldiers gallops up to us.

"What is it?" asks Lt Roofs.

"We've captured a live one. He wasn't armed and he didn't even resist."

I lift my head in interest. FRED-E beeps questioningly.

"May I speak to this colt?"

Everypony - and robot - looks at me in surprise. Even I can't believe those words came out of my mouth.

"Well, I don't know," says the soldier hesitantly. "Civilians aren't exactly allowed to interfere with N.C.R. interrogation."

"I see," I mutter as I trot away.

"Let her talk to him."

I turn around.

"Sir?" asks the private colt.

"Protocol's been a bit sketchy over the years," says Lt Roofs, "That rule discourages civilian interference. It doesn't strictly forbid it. Besides, she's clearly involved with this operation now. It's the least we can do in return."

The other colt sighs. "All right, follow me... What was your name again?"

"Call me Forte," I respond.

"Right," he says, "This way."

I am impressed with the walls that are still standing. Surely four or five explosions from dynamite would take out any support. But no, the worst damage that I can see are some termite holes and yellow mold buildups. Although, I do sidestep to avoid stepping in a small mound of green goop that I can't identify. One of the troops' helmets is on top of it. Truly, things are becoming surreal to my mind.

"He's in here," says my escort, "If it seems like there's a tussle, I'm going to have to shoot somepony. Nothing personal."

"I understand," I reply with a nod. The gate closes behind me as I turn to face the willing prisoner. He seems well-kept, all things considered. He wears a black stetson and he's even got a blue button-down shirt. I always figured that orange was the color of inmates, but that might just be the amnesia talking.

"So, what are you in for?" I ask.

"I took justice into my own hooves one too many times," answers the colt.

"Oh?" I prompt.

"Yeah." He nods. "I used to be a sheriff of another town. Having books to work with is good and all, but I needed to give crime swifter punishment at times. It turned out that the higher-ups didn't appreciate that kind of speedy practice."

His even tone makes me curious. It isn't so much wrong. It feels weird more than anything.

"You don't seem too bummed about being in jail," I comment.

He shrugs. "I broke a law. I'm willing to do hard time. Frankly, I'm just happy to see that the N.C.R. finally got off their lazy flanks and did something around here. Those Powder Gangers had no idea how to run this place. Though, that doesn't say much about their lucky pot shots. How did they manage get your horn like that?"

"Eh-heh." I smile nervously as I scratch my neck. "I'm still working on figuring that out myself."

FRED-E chirps up.

"That... well, maybe," I mutter before turning back to the colt. "Say, I don't think we were properly introduced. I'm Forte Pianissimo."

"Sayer Star," he says.

"This may seem like a weird question, but would you be interested in taking up sheriff duties again?"

Sayer blinks in surprise. "I might. What did you have in mind?"

"Proper Town's sheriff was recently killed and they need a new one as soon as possible," I explain, "and their current Deputy is a bit of a tail-pisser. Plus, I don't think the N.C.R. are going to do much about protecting a town right next to their camp if it takes a stray alicorn's word just to recover their own correctional facility. What do you say?"

"Hmm, you make a strong argument," he admits, "however, I can only take the job after a few conditions are met."

My sprite-bot beeps questioningly.

"What would those be?" I ask.

"I need to know that I'm not going to be thrown back into jail as soon as I start working," Sayer explains, "If you can convince the N.C.R. to officially pardon me, I'll gladly step up as Proper's sheriff."

"That's... reasonable enough, I guess." I tap my chin lightly before turning back toward the cell gate. "I guess I'll come back and tell you when I've gotten that pardon."

"It's been a pleasure, Forte," he says.

The gate opens up as I step out. It gets shut behind me automatically.

"Do you know where I can apply for a prisoner's pardon?" I ask the private.

"Well, the closest place I can think of for something like that would be the Outpost south of here. It's marked by a giant statue. You can't miss it."

"Another road trip, huh?" I ask more to myself than anything else. "Pack your cyber-bags, FRED-E. We're going for a long flight."

FRED-E beeps sporadically and what sounds like an electronic temper.

"Flipping Tartarus, why didn't they invent you with a humor module or something?"

---

Author's Note:

I'm slowly pulling this fic toward its destination.

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