• 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. 9: With Electricity and Turrets for All

With Electricity and Turrets for All

"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected."

~Milligan

---

"Okay, that should be everything," I say after reloading K.R. and spinning its chamber.

I manage to wash some of the blood off my face via the sink. I take about a minute to put on my N.C.R. armor. After that, I shuffle together the remainder of my stuff from the motel room. I wish I had a Sparkle Cola right about now. Oh well. Escaping from a town before they figure out who killed the innkeeper takes precedence over pleasure. All set to go, I open the door.

"Thanks for waiting," I say sincerely.

"Yeah," says Baane with a nod.

I turn to the sprite-bot. "Where exactly is this place you suggested?"

FRED-E turns around and beeps an affirmative before floating along at a leisurely pace.

---

"So Baane," I say as I trot alongside the unicorn. "What did you do before settling in Vacuum?"

"I was in First Recon of the N.C.R.," he replies flatly. "Fanny and I took turns spotting as each other's marksman."

"Fanny?" The name catches me off guard. "Who's that?"

"What, didn't any pony tell you?" he asks. "The daytime sniper in Vacuum was my partner."

My pace slows tremendously. "This is the first time I'm hearing that information."

"Well, you know now," he says.

Up ahead, FRED-E beeps a rapid pattern.

"Y-Yeah! I'm coming!" I holler at him as I quicken my steps.

Baane turns his head toward me. "You actually understand that electronic gibberish?"

"Bits and pieces," I admit, "Though, he might be using a lot more curses than I can mentally translate."

He turns back to the front. "So, what's your story?"

"My horn got shot clean off," I tell him. "According the doctor that patched me up, a securitron actually dragged me into town to save me."

"Hrm." Baane frowns. "Mr. Mansion doesn't usually show interest in fallen alicorns."

"I thought that was weird too," I say in agreement. "So after that, I got some training taking out the feral wildlife, took part in a town defense to help out a caravaneer, rescued Proper Town's Deputy, helped the N.C.R. take back a correctional facility, got them to pardon Proper's new sheriff, witnessed the worst imitation of an olden time torture chamber, and... yeah. That's about it. Oh, and then I fought a blue monster that the local nutcase called a chipper-cobweb or something."

I turn to see Baane slowing down this time. "What was that about a torture chamber?"

"The Empire nailed a bunch of townsfolk and convicts to five-pointed crosses." I spit to the other side. "So yeah, that was 'fun'."

"D**n it," he says as he resumes trotting. "They're even bolder than when I left."

"Yeah, that's the impression the sniper Host had too," I comment.

The only sound that fills the air is hoof steps for the next few seconds.

"Pianissimo?"

"Baane?"

It's difficult to read his expression. The sun hasn't even begun to rise, yet he still wears those sunglasses. They fit his respectable appearance, but they do little to help an outsider see his eyes, a key part to figuring out a pony's emotion.

"After we're done with whatever that metal ball wants you to do, would you mind doing me a favor?"

I examine Baane carefully, but all I can read is an air of seriousness. "That would depend on the favor in question."

"I know of a few Imperial camps that I never got the time or orders to tackle," he mentions. "I'm not a soldier anymore, so my free time is actually available. I'd appreciate cooperation with tearing them down a few ranks."

My left ear suddenly stings a bit.
---

That spear passed by my ear so quickly. I didn't even see the guy pulling it out. A faint trickle of blood runs down the side of my face.

"I'd appreciate it if you'd spread the word about what we've done here."

I nearly bite my tongue keeping Monarch from blurting out something I'll regret. These guys may have primitive weaponry, but their reflexes are ludicrously fast. One false move could lead to my death twenty seconds before I feel any pain.
---

"I'll... think about it," I answer noncommittally. I quickly tap my left ear to make sure it's still there.

"I see," Baane says flatly. He's probably disappointed, but I'm not that eager to tango with bonfire dancers. In any case, I see my little sprite-bot is hovering in place. I consider that fairly strange since he seemed so eager to surge ahead. When I catch up to him, I see the sight. This is certainly a notable landmark in the middle of the wasteland. The front of the building is quite large.

"Excuse me!" hollers a new voice. I return my gaze to eye level to see a mare in N.C.R. armor. Actually, that's not all. A few others in the same outfit are standing around as well. But this one stands forward a step. "This area's not authorized for civ-" Her eyes widen after just a couple steps. "S***. It's an alicorn!" She levitates out a rifle in front of herself. The rest shakily hold up weapons in their hooves and/or mouths.

Oh, great. My frown deepens. It looks like Host's word hasn't gotten this far east yet. I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn to see Mr. Sunglasses.

"Play along and let me do the talking," Baane murmurs before stepping in front of me.

This seems to pique the interest of the mare in charge. "Identify yourself!"

"I'm Commander Fanny-Mae," he states, "I'm here for a routine inspection that will now be taking place once every few months. I was told that the lieutenant in charge would brief me on the facility's situation."

Huh? I raise an eyebrow at the same time that FRED-E lets out a questioning bleep.

"Sir, I'm Lt. Fogarty," says the mare as she stows her weapon. The rest of her allies willingly follow suit. "Before I tell you, mind if I ask what you're doing in the company of one of the Unity?"

That's the word that the old mare at Outpost said. I blink in recognition. Though, I scrunch my mouth in thought. What exactly is 'Unity'?

"I've managed to break this one," says Baane, "She'll listen to what I have to say. Won't you, Pianissimo?"

Excuse me, mortal? Monarch boils inside. You will not put me into some box for your slaves.

I mentally, but not physically, slap her. Shut up, he's saving our flank.

"Of course, Master," I gently say with a bow of my head for good display.

Fogarty hums uncertainly, but finally concedes. "Fine. We've managed to procure this facility from the Steel Rangers in hopes of getting some extra power on the grid. If you want to check the progress on that, talk to the idiot with the glasses in the back room."

Baane nods. "Will do. As you were then."

"Sir." Fogarty salutes before trotting to the side.

"Come along, Pianissimo," Baane says as he trots for the door. I give him a nod and follow after him. No pony seems to mind the sprite-bot that happens to be floating in our company.
---
Note: Fast-traveling may provoke a high-level, random encounter. ... Oh, wait. This is a literary version of New Pegasus. Please disregard that last tip.
---

The door rises back up and the oversized mechanical knobs spin back into place. There's a little more breathing room without potential friendly fire. I let out a breath I wasn't even aware I was holding.

"You didn't have to call me that," says Baane.

I lift my head up. "What do you mean? I was just following your act to the best of my ability."

"Well, next time... don't lay it on so thick," he says after a pause. "I'm not comfortable hearing that word... especially since Charcola..."

"Didn't quite catch that," I tell him.

"Doesn't your robot have something it wants to find?" Baane asks.

"Oh, right!" I turn to FRED-E. "Which way do we need to go, little guy?"

He beeps a few tones before leaning forward toward a hallway that curves to the right of the entrance. The trotting of eight hooves echoes through the hall that we traverse. Some sandbags appear to be scattered against less than strategic corners of the walls. A couple staircases are crumbled, forcing us to take first-floor paths.

Eventually, we happen across an area that has more room than the corridors. Some rusty shelves line one wall. A couple of old beds are propped against the wall to the left. A few unidentifiable and rusted pieces of furniture are placed haphazardly in here. I take notice of a colt in a lab coat. He is twitching wildly while fiddling with a couple knobs on a machine of sorts at the back end near an empty doorway.

"Stand back, boys," I tell my allies. "I'll handle this." I take a few steps forward and clear my throat. "Excuse me. I'm looking for a guy with 'glasses in the back'. Have you seen him anywhere?"

"Wait, what?!" The colt turns on a dime and looks at me. His front hooves spread out and lay against his console. "They can't do this. Are you here to take my job?"

Briefly, I glance back at Baane and it looks like his beret slides slightly of its own free will. I look back at the colt in white and blink twice. "Uh, maybe? I guess that would depend on what your job is."

"Aw, f***ing s***," he says with spit. "I need this gig. I'm addicted to so many chems and I can't get them with any other occupation."

I'm having trouble processing what I'm hearing from this colt. Is he trying to give ponies free blackmail material to use against him? Huh, I guess that's part of the reason why the lieutenant out front called this guy an idiot.

"Here, take these and you forget all about replacing me," he says while practically shoving a bottle cap pouch into my mouth. "Comprende?"

Uh, okay, I'll take your money, I think as I put the caps away for counting later. "So, what exactly is your job around here?"

His attitude suddenly changes. One minute, he's shaking like a cornered pack of bunnies. The next, he has his chest puffed up and he is smirking like a lion about to eat. Where is this bravado coming from?

"Are you kidding?" he asks, "I'm where the magic happens. I don't need a stinkin' horn to do it. It's all in the t***s that the N.C.R. is sucking while I stand here and enjoy every last second of it."

"You sick bastard," says Baane.

I turn briefly to Baane and wave my hoof near my neck. This isn't the time for a showdown.

"They need power from this place," says the lab-coat colt. "I'm the Charlie horse to get it to them and they know it. The name's Dr. Magnificent because I'm just magnificent enough to cure the AIDS of the blackouts here at Helium Two."

"Fascinating," I say in what I can only assume is obviously fake interest. "How exactly did you get this position?"

"One of them came by my door last month," says Magnificent, "They were looking for someone with a degree in theoretical physics. I told them I had a theoretical degree in physics. They asked how much I knew about electrical power. I said, 'As much as anypony else does'. Now here I am, large and in charge."

None of what he's saying makes any logical sense. Though, Baane was able to trick the soldiers with a fake name. Why wouldn't somepony else be able to pull the wool over with a fake Ph.D.? But I digress.

"Oh, so you're in charge?" I echo. "Then I guess it's safe to say that it's your fault that the power hasn't been working here recently."

The confident smile turns into an annoyed frown. "Hey, don't go putting words in my mouth. You know who's really at fault here? The N.C.R. was stupid enough to trip the alarm on an old security system in the high tower. Now we can't get to the big computer to properly channel power to the New Pegasus Strip and Freewall. I can't make an omelet if the N.C.R. go and lose their eggs."

Baane audibly growls, though I hear FRED-E trying to calm him down with his usual beeping tactic he uses when I'm upset. As of right now, though, I'm only slightly miffed at the idea of Magnificent getting paid to do absolutely nothing productive.

"If we're over easy puns, can you provide any information about getting to the top?" I ask.

Magnificent blinks in surprise. "You're actually thinking about going up there?"

"I suppose I'll have to if no pony else is willing to do it," I say deliberately and loudly. I look around. As I suspect, no one volunteers.

"Well, you're going to have to get the two smaller computers outside to talk to the main computer in the high tower before you throw any switches." Magnificent grabs a slip of paper from his coat pocket. "Here's a password to one of them. I found it written on the bathroom stall. Can you believe that?" He laughs crazily.

"Sadly, yes," I say with a simple nod. "I guess I'll go do that now." I turn for another empty doorway.

"When you turn the power on, be sure to send it to the Strip!" hollers Magnificent, "It's the place it needs to go if I can get the most money for the kilowatt-hours!"

I purposefully don't respond to that. Instead, I motion for Baane and FRED-E to follow me.

"I couldn't help overhearing your little chat in there."

Woah, I think as I involuntarily back up. Where did this stallion in a lab coat come from? I didn't even see him before I came through the doorway.

"Who are you?" he asks.

"I thought it was common courtesy to introduce yourself before asking for a stranger's name," I comment.

"Ah, of course," he nods, "Forgive my discourtesy. I am River Ignitus, a stallion of science. Now it's your turn."

"Forte Pianissimo," I say, "I don't really have devotion for any particular field of study."

"Not just anyone is allowed back here," comments Ignitus. "Are you a soldier or a scientist?"

"I just said I'm not big in any field."

"I only meant leaning interest, not necessarily where you are most experienced."

"Oh." I mull over the thought for a bit. "I guess I could throw my interest at science."

"I'm glad we have at least something in common." Ignitus gently smiles. "I ask because I'm part of the Followers of the Apocalypse. We seek peace and the spread of knowledge that the world needs to maintain."

"Interesting," comments Baane.

"Word of advice," Ignitus continues as if he didn't hear. "Take care with what you do around here. Some things are best left forgotten with the old world."

I raise my eyebrow. "I thought this was a power plant."

"It is in part, but there is evidence of slightly more sinister plans underneath the surface of this facility. Specifically, some of the files that I've uncovered contain plans for weapons that could rival the balefire bombs, to the point of surpassing the destructive power of the Pink Cloud incident."

"You've got to be kidding me," says Baane.

"Most troubling is the name 'Anthemius' that has repeated mentions," says Ignitus, "Whatever it is, I don't wish to see that kind of destructive force fall into the wrong hooves."

"Does anypony else know about this thing?" I ask in concern.

"At the moment, no, they don't." Ignitus shakes his head slowly. "Miraculously, they've hired a complete idiot that will essentially hinder their progress into looking further into the archives. He insisted that the largest machine must be the most important. What he doesn't know is that all his fiddling on that console only affects the intercom. As long as the N.C.R. is preoccupied with getting power, they won't get the time to look for Anthemius."

I hate getting myself involved further in this complicated situation, but tinkering with machinery suddenly sounds like a lot of fun, I think before asking, "Is there any way I can help?"

"You're going up into the tower to adjust the panels for power output, correct?" He grabs a slip of paper from his pocket. "This is one of the passwords you'll need to log on to the two external computers before activating the main computer."

I wince as I hold the paper against my hoof. "Please tell me you didn't find this on the bathroom stall."

He strategically ignores the comment and says, "I'd advise sending the power evenly throughout the local areas. If you only give it to the thriving areas such as the Strip, it won't go where it is really needed and will further separate the classes. I realize that I can't control where you ultimately decide to send the power, but I implore you not to send the power to the weapon Anthemius."

"I'll keep that in mind," I say as I turn around. "Goodbye!"

"Farewell, Pianissimo." Ignitus goes back and observes some items that look disinteresting to me.

"By the way, Baane," I say, "You used to be tight with the N.C.R. You're not going to blab about me not doing exactly what they wanted Magnificent to do, right?"

Baane looks at me flatly. "What do you mean? They just want more power for the Strip. They didn't specify how much more they wanted."

I chuckle. "Smart*ss."

"Yeah." A slight grin appears and vanishes within the same second.

---

There are more soldiers out this way. Just as a precaution, Baane takes the lead again. I almost hear Monarch screaming on the inside against such a humiliating position. Regardless of her discomfort, Baane, FRED-E and I make our way over to one of the gated-off terminals. I hear some dogs barking up a storm.

"Eat this!" Baane shouts as he takes a couple of potshots. I pull out my varmint rifle, but FRED-E's laser sets the third dog on fire before I can get a shot in otherwise.

"Are you sure we won't get in trouble for killing N.C.R. guard dogs?" I ask.

"No," answers Baane.

I sigh. "Figures. Let's see if this password works."

I trot over to the computer, stepping around the dogs' corpses. I run into a most awkward problem with the computer. Each time I try to tap a single key, three or four stars appear in the password box on the screen. The only thing I can successfully tap on its own is "Backspace".

I smile sheepishly and turn to my companions. "A little help, guys?"

Baane sighs, shakes his head, and trots over next to me. As I state each letter and number, his horn glows and his aura pushes the corresponding key. Eventually, the system's menu shows up. The command reads, "Interact With Panel Mainframe". I ask Baane to go ahead and press "Enter". The bottom of the screen now reads, "Awaiting secondary interface..."

"Time for the other one," I say.

"This isn't my field of expertise," comments Baane, "I'm a sniper, not a d**n secretary."

"After this, I'll help you find and shoot as many Empire Imperials as your heart is content with," I offer, "It'll be that favor you wanted."

"Hmph," Baane grunts. "Fine."

We head across the way from some beds out in the open. The second monitor is guarded not by gates and dogs, but by what appear to be bear traps and a land mine. I wonder if I should be worried that all of these bizarre circumstances seem normal to me. Right now, it all seems uncomfortably surreal. I get a little air via wing flaps and bypass the less than subtle traps.

Oh, good. This is one of those two-button pads, I think, Let's see... entering the password in Morse should look like... this. After several short taps on the right and long taps on the left, the monitor shows a fairly similar menu to the first terminal. The interaction option is already highlighted, so I tap the button on the right. The screen reads, "External interface confirmed. Awaiting primary command..."

"All right, to the tower!" I exclaim.

FRED-E beeps excitedly as we make our way to the backside of the facility.
---
Note: As a pony, you cannot breathe fire with your dragon powers. Don't be ridiculous, Forte.
---

"What's around corner number one?" I ask rhetorically as I take a peek. The answer comes in a strange whirring noise before several bullets whizz past my head. I pull back against the first wall. "Who the hay was firing? I didn't see anyone."

FRED-E answers with a string of beeps.

I blink. "What's an automatic turret?"

"Basically a machine gun that can fire itself," says Baane, "Have you seriously never dealt with one?"

"I can safely say I haven't until today," I reply. "Any ideas on how to deal with them, 'Commander Fanny-Mae'?"

"You're never going to drop that, are you?" He sighs and hums a bit. "Take 'em out as quickly as possible. Then, take a bunch of healing potions."

This time, I sigh. Is there really no way to go about this without getting hurt? I pull out K.R. and lean tightly against the wall. I hop out of cover and fire in the direction from where that turret's bullets originated. The continuous bullet swarm rhythm is interrupted several times by this revolver's kickback. I see an explosion while I keel over at the pain in my back legs. I think the little firefight clipped some feathers off my left side too.

"Agah... ah..." I moan as I try to breathe and pull out my little red bottles. Three get drained quickly of their contents before getting tossed to the side. "Flipping Tartarus."

"You sure you didn't want to pull out some of those bullets from your legs first?" asks Baane.

"You're the only one here with magical force powers, Baane," I say in disgruntlement. "Instead of telling me, try acting upon your instincts."

His head snaps toward the open hall ahead. He levitates out a knife and gallops forth. "You're mine!"

"Wait, no!" I holler as I stand up. The potions close the immediate damage in my legs. "I didn't mean charge ahead alone!"

"I need a bigger caliber," he remarks as he backs away from a rolling metal thing.

"That's because you're using a knife!" I shout the obvious. Suddenly, reddish plumes fill the stairwell. "Oh snap!" I yank out a random weapon, accidentally displacing some sniper rounds that I forgot about. "FRED-E, a little help would be nice!"

The sprite-bot thankfully fires three laser shots at the approaching flamethrower. I pull the trigger on my own weapon. A sudden re-run of Catnip plays in my mind as I watch a couple green shots launch at the enemy. The inferno stops as a few sparks fly from the red-zone robot. It falls over in an unmoving heap. I stow the plasma pistol away.

With the fire and bullets halted for the time being, I pull out K.R. again and reload its chamber. "What kind of sniper charges in blindly at the enemy without an appropriate cover for retreating?"

"I'm not a soldier anymore," says Baane as he puts his knife away.

"Yeah, but you still have eyes and a brain, don't you?" I sigh. "Never mind. We should keep moving."

The advance is silent save for the clanging of steps against the metal catwalk.

---

This trio finds itself on an elevator going up. I look around the dust and metal that surround us.

"Have you found what you're looking for yet?" I ask FRED-E.

The sprite-bot beeps a negative.

"Darn it, what in the world does a self-powered robot want that could be in a power plant?"

He beeps a long passage of short and long noises.

"Can you believe this guy?" I turn and ask Baane. He seems lost in his own world. I wave a hoof in front of his face. "Hello? You in there?"

"Huh? Yeah, huh... I guess not," he mutters.

"What is going on with you?" I look at him incredulously. "As soon as we came into this tower, you've been asking the impossible..."
---

"Throw a grenade!" Baane shouts.

"I don't have one of those!" I shout as three robots close on our position.
---

"... doing your impression of a suicide bomber..."
---

"Laas... Yah Nir." Through the walls, I can see two more robots ahead.

Baane hops around the corner and gallops. "Oh my!"

"Baane, what are you doing? Get back here!"
---

"... and zoning out when I ask simple questions."
---

"Huh," I marvel at one of the downed bots. "Have you ever seen a literal brain in a jar before?" I don't get a response. "Baane?"

"Oh, right. That's nasty," he says randomly.
---

I crane my neck down so that I can look up at the guy. "What's the matter, Ragic?"

He sighs. "Every minute we waste in here leaves another minute for the Empire to lay siege on the ponies of New Canterlot. The sooner we can get back to dealing with Imperials, the sooner we can come to an understanding."

I lean back and lift my head back up. "O...kay, I suppose that's one way to have post-traumatic stress disorder."

The elevator door chooses this moment to open up. This room is large and has a staircase bending a few ways up. Further ahead appears to be a large, flashing box with another computer monitor sticking out of it. To the right of this box, there's a long wire coil that leads to a generator of sorts. There is smoke coming out of the coil.

"I'm no computer scientist, but I'm pretty sure a burned wire isn't good," I say. I trot over and try pressing the monitor's power button. Nothing happens. "Crap, it doesn't have an internal battery. I don't suppose either of you have a spare power cord, do you?"

"No," Baane answers immediately.

FRED-E chirps a suggestion.

"A repair bot upstairs?" I echo. I look up. "I guess it's worth a shot." I spread my wings and fly up to the top floor. "Let's see..." I look around and see a bunch of busted robotics equipment. There's also a cracked mug next to a ruined desk. In one corner, a certain robot hangs by its center core. I'm surprised that this one doesn't have any rust on it. "Now, how am I going to get this working?" I look around the flexible limbs, but I don't see any buttons that can be pressed. So, I politely and firmly tap the thing. "Wake up!"

The service bot jumps upon touch and starts floating about half and inch off the floor. I hear a slight whirring noise as it quickly glides around me and follows the staircase. I thought these things were supposed to be clunky and slow, but this one is as fast as a galloping pony.

"Hey, wait up!" I call as I flutter down the open space.

As I land on the floor, I see the awoken bot wiggling its appendages around the smoky wire and the generator. This barely covers two seconds worth of time before it promptly curls up into its sleeping sphere position. There isn't any smoke coming from the wire anymore. When I trot closer to see why, I notice a lot of gray adhesive.

"Duct tape?" I observe out loud.

Baane shrugs one shoulder. I quickly shake my head before trying the monitor again. This time, it powers on and reveals a keyboard. The monitor has a few options on its menu. One of them reads, "Output Configuration". Unconventionally, I pull out my dagger and gently tap the small keys. I kind of want to avoid bothering Mr. PTSD currently standing to the side. I select the "Full Region" option. Doing so brings up a warning that reads, "Warning: Brownouts likely." I shrug as I step back from the monitor. FRED-E suddenly floats very close to the computer.

"Oh, you find something?" I ask.

He chirps a few times.

"Fine, just don't mess with the configured settings," I request before turning to the quiet unicorn. "Let's head on up, Baane."

"All right," he agrees, trotting up the stairwell as I opt to fly up again.
---
Note: You can trade items with your companions, but pack mules will come to resent you.
---

The sun is on its way into the sky. I whistle. "I didn't realize we had been in there so long."

After trotting along the single railed catwalk along the very outside of Helium Two, I find myself in front of a small lever console. I push the lever before stepping back. I vaguely remember hearing that solar panels can get very bright during the readjustment. So, I briefly slide my neckerchief over my eyes. I hear a deep ringing noise and the red cloth brightens up considerably over my eyes. It takes about a minute before the shining light dims and the buzzing noise lowers to a bearable tone. By that point, I lower my neckerchief to see the solar panels down on the ground are at different angles than where they started.

"Ever think that a red cloth acts like a big target for enemies to aim?" asks Baane.

"Funny," I say as I trot back toward the door. "I was going to ask the same thing about your bright blue hat."

To that, Baane simply grunts.
---
-It appears that your companion Ragic Baane has issues that will interrupt his cognitive thought processes when fighting non-Imperials or non-animals.
-No new perks are granted at this time.

Author's Note:

To think there was a time where I had no interest in pursuing this...
Bursts of inspiration are fascinating.

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