• Published 15th Mar 2013
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Fallout Equestria: Shades of Grey - Gig

Some of us aren't heroes. Does it make us the villains?

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Chapter Four: Break on Through

Read it on Google Docs (updated version).

“It has never been about the money, hasn’t it?”

Chapter Four: Break on Through

I groaned, as my biological clock woke me up from my slumber.

“Mmh, mama, just one more hour,” I mumbled, hugging a dirty broom.

I wasn’t really a morning pony.

I sniffed, and scowled as the stench of the mop attacked my nostrils. At long last, I opened my eyes, and my tired brain wondered for a moment where in hell I had landed.

Then, the events of the previous day slowly came back to my mind, and let out another groan, this time of despair.

Today’s program? Breaking into the bloody stronghold of a plasma-loving paranoid freak.

“It’s going to be a piece of cake,” I sighed with irony. “I bet he even left me a map to help me find wherever the key is!”

The previous evening, I had fallen asleep in some kind of forsaken maintenance storage. It hadn’t been the most comfortable place I had slept in, but at least it was safe and clean. I didn’t have nearly enough bits with me to afford a room – besides the fact I had little faith in Tenponites citizens in general.

Now, Van Graff was probably on his way to open the Silver Rush. I still had half an hour to prepare and recapitulate before moving on with my plan.

The first step involved two cans of food from my saddlebags. Using my telekinesis to remove the cap, I soon retrieved a couple 9mm magazines, my pressure wrench and a couple locksmith pins from inside. As I had expected, the guards back in security hadn’t screened my belongings – after all, the spell in itself probably took a lot to cast all day long on the ponies already, so why bother scanning sealed food boxes?

But the content of the second tin can was undoubtedly even more important in my eyes. Soon enough, after a short struggle, the cap was removed, and I gained access to the precious contents.

Namely, food. Hypoglycemia already doesn’t do any favor usually, and breaking in an unknown and potentially dangerous place in a middle of a hostile territory with nothing in my stomach didn’t strike me as a bright idea.

I soon come to regret not taking an extra step and bringing two food cans for the morning, because my whole digestive system revolted as I try to engulf the canned carrots. They probably weren’t supposed to taste great before the Apocalypse, and two hundred years of radiations didn’t do any good to the vile flavor.

I dumped it on the floor. Screw hypoglycemia, I didn’t want to die of food poisoning!

I stood up, stretched, and walked out of my closet.


(** **)

I don’t know who had advised Van Graff in term of locks, but the guy sure wasn’t the sharpest knife in his drawer.

As I pushed the last mushroom pin into its chamber, I indulged myself with a little smile. Two mediums locks sure weren’t equal to a good lock, and in the end opening the door of Van Graff’s proved to be easier than breaking into the police station back in Hollow Shades. Who would have guessed?

I carefully pushed the side open, and, after a last look in the empty corridor around me, I sneaked inside.

Van Graff’s flat hall was standard. There was a portmanteau in a corner, and a small cabinet with a box full of junk on the other. On the other side of the small corridor was a closed wooden door.

The only oddity was the terminal beside me. I wiped the dust on the screen, and pressed the power button.

The old computer woke up from its slumber. On the screen, I could read ‘StableTech Terminals – Turret Control Mk. II’. Underneath, I was asked for a password.

I cringed. I hadn’t seen any turret in the house yet, but it was unlikely the terminal was here for show. Besides, the mission report in Fiery’s office had mentioned something about security systems they had to disable to break in. I could easily picture Van Graff typing an overly complex password on the keyboard, glancing around for potential prying eyes.

Truth to be told, I wasn’t a very good hacker. The only thing I could do was to always use the same attack pattern, which somepony had taught me years earlier.

Ironically enough, this somepony had his life abruptly ended by a booby-trapped monitor.

The procedure itself was so simple even a foal could do it. The first step opened an administrator session on the terminal. It wouldn’t decipher the users’ data, for sure, but at least I could gain an access to the storage matrix.

Biting my lips, I simultaneously pressed Ctrl-Maj-C on the keyboard, and I switched to admin mode. I was prompted yet another password, but with any luck Van Graff hadn’t thought to change the factory settings.

“Cru-sa-ders”, I typed while mumbling between my teeth. I was in luck: the password worked. Still, I couldn’t disable the turrets from there: I needed to find Van Graff’s access codes, and the administrator mode only made my task slightly easier.

Soon enough I was browsing the file which contained Van Graff’s password; from memory I typed a few additional commands – I didn’t even know what they did! – and the text on the screen improved a bit. Squinting my eyes, I tried to make out the password, but with little success.

The only information I could extract from the big mess of data in front of me was the password’s length (ten characters – wonderful), that it started with a ‘C’, that it ended with a ‘cy’, and that there was only one repeated letter, which I deduced to be the ‘c’. Still, I was missing seven letters, and I didn’t have a dictionary or a freakin’ Pipbuck to help me hack this damned terminal.

Of all ponies in this Goddesses-forsaken tower, why did I have to rob the most paranoid?

I sighted, and exited the administrator mode. The screen went back to the little prompt asking me this bloody password.

“Corpulency, maybe?”

No such luck.


The terminal warned me I only had one attempt left. I restarted it, and soon enough I was back to three tries.

“Come on, there can’t be many words that’d fit the bill… Maybe incontinency?” I mumbled. “No, wait, it got twelve letters. Continency? No, it got two n. I’m not even sure the word exists anyway.”

I let out a groan of despair. Even the bloody dictionary was against me now!

“Let’s try conspiracy…”, I tried without much hope left.

It was the password. I barely managed to muffle a cry of triumph.

Take that, Thesaurus!

The terminal told me there were no less than six turrets in the whole flat. I disabled them all, and changed the password to ‘fatchancez’ for good measure.

Then, I proceeded to the living room.

(** **)

Away from the dim light provided by the terminal screen, I had to turn the lights on to see. The power grid seemed to struggle to keep up – I reckoned it had something to do with the five energy turrets plugged on it. Whoever designed the network in the first place probably didn’t take into account the current owner’s paranoia. Otherwise, there was no window, and I realized the whole flat was, if not underground, at least away from the tower outer walls.

As my eyes acclimated to the harsh white light coming from the ceiling lamps, I took a good look around me, and somehow found myself disappointed.

Maybe I had expected the home of a paranoid gun maniac to be filled with weapons, or have each door barricaded with sandbags. At least, I would have expected a very martial atmosphere, with no useless decorations whatsoever.

But I sure hadn’t expected to find myself in a very comfy apartment.

It was exactly like an Old World pamphlet would describe the perfect living room. There was a nice, confortable sofa on a soft carpet in the middle, completed by a glass coffee table and a television on the wall. Bookshelves covered a whole side of the place, and a potted plant was silently growing in a corner. Two white wooden doors led to the kitchen and to the bedroom, but I couldn’t make out the bathroom from where I was standing. Only the metallic trapdoor in the ceiling hinted to the existence of security turrets.

There was no visible gun in this room whatsoever.

It took me a few dozen seconds to shake off my torpor. Sure, it was unexpected, but at least it was a nice surprise to realize my target wasn’t completely nuts after all. It wouldn’t be the first time I had broken into somepony’s home, just to realize the whole place was booby trapped.

I shrugged, and proceeded to the rightmost door. Van Graff probably thought the locks and the turrets were enough protection. Besides, I doubted he needed more firepower than his battlesaddle already provided.

The kitchen contrasted sharply with the previous room. For sure, nothing from the ‘perfect guide to your perfect household, for dummies’ was missing. A refrigerator purred in a corner, a stove waited for apple pies on another, sharps knives hanged from the walls above a chopping block, a sink undoubtedly provided fresh water in abundance, and everywhere drawers and cupboards hosted without a doubt legions of plates, glasses and other dishes.

No, what really stand out were all the things that weren’t supposed to be in a kitchen.

A workbench. A welding post. Disassembled rifles. Wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers. A chemistry set with bubbling phosphorescent brews, a whole wall covered with overly complex schematics, dozens of crates bursting with components I didn’t even knew the name of. On the table, where an average housestallion of the pre-war era would have chopped carrots and celery, laid weapons and plasma explosives in pieces. Had I not known Van Graff owned an armory, I would have believed this kitchen belonged to a psychopath.

But this information was available to my astonished brain, and therefore I simply wondered where he did his normal cooking, because there wasn’t a single square centimeter of space not occupied by tools, components or junk.

I took a step back, and glanced into the living room. I stared at the kitchen again, and I realized it wasn’t messy per se – Van Graff had simply packed a whole workshop into a tiny, unsuited kitchen.

Still, my stomach reminded me of the unpleasant meal I failed to ingest, so I decided to raid the refrigerator to see if Van Graff had better tastes than past-me.

“Let’s see what you’ve got,” I mumbled, opening the thick, leaded door. “Broccolis, alfalfa, spinach, plasma grenade, carrots, alfalfa again…”

I froze.

A plasma grenade? In the fridge?

Okay, so maybe I had been too hasty in giving Van Graff a clean mental health bill. Nopony in his right mind would store one – correction, two – grenades in a place supposed to contain food. I mean, what if a kid came here in search of a snack and ended up toying with the pins? It was irresponsible!

I blinked, and took a good look to the highly unsafe environment around me.

Well, okay, the kid would have to dodge an absolute minefield just to get to touch the fridge in the first place, but still. Somehow, it disturbed me deeply, but I couldn’t put my hoof on the reason.

I grabbed the carrots, and after a slight hesitation I grabbed the two explosives. I wasn’t very fond of grenades, but I could probably resell them for a good price. How much were the blue-banded explosives thingies worth back at the Silver Rush already?

A silly grin appeared on my face as I put them in my saddlebags. The two of them probably scored in the four-digit price category. Then, I closed the refrigerator, and carefully left the kitchen.

(** **)

The bedroom was as standard as the living room had been. A queen-sized bed with green sheets occupied most of the space, and a big wooden wardrobe with a mirror rested against a wall in front of me. I noticed a couple of ‘Future weapons’ magazines on a bedside table, and I reckoned they were about energy warfare or something along those lines.

Opposite the wardrobe, a door opened on the bathroom. It featured a tub, a sink and a mirror cabinet – nothing sparked my interest.

Munching a stolen carrot, I scanned my surrounding, trying to figure out where Van Graff had his valuables hidden. Unlike Cloud Vote’s home, there were no painting on the wall, and the floor was devoid of carpet. A quick glance under the bed taught me it had nothing to hide but dust.

Of course, Van Graff slept with a laser pistol under his pillow. Truth to be told, I didn’t really blame him, though I doubted anypony who had the guts to get past the six sentries probably wouldn’t be very unfazed by a ridiculous handgun.

Turning around, I opened the wardrobe, and I found the safe waiting for me. I couldn’t help but whistle in wonder.

Truth to be told, to call it a safe would have been some kind of an understatement, but it was a bit too small to be called a vault. I could have probably fit inside, though the prospect of being trapped inside a stainless steel coffin did little to appeal me.

The point is, I had in front of me a big-ass safe, with a big-ass lock.

Without losing a second, I grabbed my lockpicking tools, and, biting my lips, I inserted the pin into the barrel. The mission report had asked for a professional tumbler – dumb lock, here I come!

(** **)

Cold sweat was running down my brow, and I had to utilize all my concentration to stop my tools from shaking. All my being was focused on the tiny pin I was slowly pushing upward, but as I yet again failed to stick it into its chamber, the insidious truth slowly started to sip into my desperate mind:

The lock required a level of skill far above my own.

I simply couldn’t pick it. The barrel had ten minuscule mushroom pins on both sides, and I felt something moving deep down the barrel I couldn’t even recognize. I didn’t know where Van Graff had found this safe, but it had probably cost him a fortune!

“That safe cost me a fortune, you know,” nagged Van Graff.

I froze. The world stopped, time stood still. In a deafening silence, I heard the pins reset as I lost control over my pressure wrench. My tools dropped on the floor in a slow motion, and hit the cold floor with a ringing.

Slowly, I rose and turned toward the living room.

Sure enough, Van Graff was there, standing in the doorway, a smug look on his face. A menacing green emanated from his frightening guns, pointed on me just a couple meters away.

I gulped.

(** **)

“So,” Van Graff continued, his rifles still aimed at my chest, “mind telling me what you are doing in my home, trying to open my safe?”

I was on the verge of a panic attack. There was no way I could outrun him, since he was in the doorway, and if he decided to kill me it was unlikely he could miss at such a close range. I couldn’t escape through the windows, for there was none; at best I could jump toward the bathroom to get some cover, but it wouldn’t do much good. I had little doubt he’d fried me alive if I even thought about drawing my pistol. Besides, his armor covered all but his head, and it was unlikely I could kill him before he pressed the trigger. Unlike Crowneigh, Van Graff already had his guns at the ready.

“Not very talkative, hm?” noted Van Graff as I stayed silent. He let out a deep sight, and I realized I was running out of time.

“I was… robbing you?” I proposed timidly. It wasn’t the answer he was expecting, but technically it was the truth.

He let out an unamused chuckle.

“So I noticed” – he nodded toward the safe – “but I find it a bit odd that you chose to burglarize my house in particular.”

Gears grinded in my head as I tried to predict the outcome of the conversation.

“The two locks on the front door had stirred up my curiosity,” I lied. “I figured out you had a lot of valuables in here.”

“Really?” he gritted his teeth. “So it has nothing to do with you following me home yesterday?”

“Oh.” I missed a heartbeat. “You saw me.”

“I did.” His tone was ice cold, but warmed up a bit. “Yet I started having suspicions when you showed up at the Silver Rush. You are a terrible liar, really. So this morning, when I heard the estate’s alarm ring at the shop, I closed down and I sat back to watch you through my cameras force my door and hack my terminal. I was impressed, and I will even admit I started fearing you might crack my safe open.”

“So you rushed here to take me out,” I completed.

He nodded. A hint of sadness sparkled in his eyes, but seriousness soon replaced it.

“I have one question, though,” he continued. “Who sent you?”

“That’s… a tricky question,” I answered truthfully. Even if I told him I came here on my own, he probably wouldn’t believe me.

He sighted, and grabbed his trigger.

“Wait, wait!” I pleaded. I had to find something, anything!

He motioned me to go ahead, not even bothering to drop the mouthpiece.

“I was sent by… by…”

My mouth went dry, and my throat felt like parched paper. My brain was desperately trying to find something to say.

“I was sent by the Twilight Society!” I cried, Fiery’s files coming back to my mind.

A mix of surprise, anger and pride showed up on Van Graff’s face, as he spat the trigger and reared in triumph, hooves toward the sky.

“I KNEW IT!” he roared, his eyes ceasing fixing me for a split second.

There was my chance!

I drew my pistol, and shot him as fast as I could press the trigger. He backed in pain as the bullets hit the body armor without doing any serious damage, and he grabbed his mouthpiece.

I shrieked, and dove for cover in the bathroom. Two plasma bolts burned the end of my tail, and hit the wall behind me in a shower of sparks and hot goo.

Immediately, the power went off in the flat. I may or may not have thanked the Goddesses for the unstable power grid.

“Damn it, girl!” Van Graff bellowed in the dark. “You can’t get away from me!”

Two other shots briefly lighted the room, but missed me altogether. The stallion couldn’t see me, but I could: the glowing barrels at his sides were a dead giveaway. I emptied my pistol in his direction and was awarded by a groan of pain. He wasted no time to retaliate though, and it was my turn to scream as a small blob of burning plasma burned me in the back.

“I have underestimated you for the last time,” I heard Van Graff stumble back into the living room, probably in search of a source of light.

I threw my empty clip away, and searched my saddlebag for the spare magazine.

In the darkness however, all I could find was two metallic apples with a glowing blue band.

I grinned like a maniac as I recognized the plasma grenades from the fridge. Without losing a second, I pulled the pins off, and rolled them in the living room. Resisting the temptation to throw a cheesy one liner, I jumped in the bathtub and, legs around my head, I waited.

The double explosion was deafening.

(** **)

Come to think of it, my life was pretty tame before getting this job from Crowneigh.

Back then, me getting shot was an oddity. In fact, I almost never found myself involved in gunfights: I always had the surprise and the upper ground on my side, and fights were dramatically one-sided.

Yet, somehow, by simply picking those keys, the tables had been turned. Now I was the one everypony wanted to shoot, and I had lost my upper hoof somewhere.

Cloud Vote’s daughter, Crowneigh, Van Graff… There was something clearly wrong in the way I solved my personal problems.

Lying battered in the tub, I let out a sharp cough. An orange, shimmering glow softly lighted the bathroom, and smoke was slowly but surely filling the space under the ceiling.

I tried to stand up, but my legs refused to carry me. I stumbled over the tub edge, and fell face first on the dust-covered ground.

A sharp scream escaped my mouth, as I was sent in a world of pain. Instinctively, I curled up in a tight ball, hoping the searing feeling in my back would simply go away and leave me alone. But it soon become obvious I wasn’t going to have such luck.

Shaking, I lifted a hoof at eye level, and gently probed my back. Everything exploded in different shades of suffering when I touched the butchered flesh.

I quickly withdrew my hoof. It was soaked in blood.

The world was spinning around me. An acrid smell was filling my lungs.

I closed my eyes for what felt like a second.

When I opened them back, the orange shimmer had grown in intensity.

With a shiver, I realized the flat was burning.

As adrenaline flowed through my veins, I found the strength to stand up. After a hesitant step, I leaned against the wall.

I spat a blood-covered glob, and it landed on my leg.

It was hopeless. I wasn’t going to make it.

Then, I noticed the first-aid kid in the broken cabinet above the sink. It was almost within my reach, but I needed to cross the small room, and I feared it was above my strength.

“Bandages, Med-X and potions can only do so much,” a little voice whispered in my hear.

But my body screamed for painkillers.

Still half-blind from the pain, I stumbled, and grabbed the ceramic basin with my front hooves. A black screen veiled my vision, but I held on.

The kit was right in front of me now.

I pulled it with my teeth, and it fell on the sink.

With my magic I tore the red pouch open, and its content landed in front of me.

Band-Aids. Purified water. Med-X. A healing potion. Pills I couldn’t identify. Adrenaline. Buck. Mint-Als. Antivenom. Dash.

“Drug cocktails. The raiders are very fond of them,” the voice continued softly, “but how will you react?”

The boxes in front of me went dark, and I almost lost my grip on the basin. My teeth gritted as a metallic aftertaste filled my mouth.

It was the only solution.

I grabbed a Med-X syringe, and stabbed it into my chest.

I opened the Buck box, and downed the remaining pills with the healing potion.

I took a Dash inhalator, and emptied it in my lungs.

The effects weren’t long to kick out. First was the Dash, slowing the world around me. Then was the Med-X, as my pain subdued to a numbing ache. Finally, as my strengths somehow came back, I knew the Buck was having the intended effects.

My mind somewhat clearer under the drugs, I grabbed my torn saddlebags, and stuffed what remained of the first aid kit inside. I warped the band-aids around my torso, over my ruined jumpsuit, hoping it would slow down the bleeding.

Then, still stumbling but more focused, I left the bathroom.

I needed to get the hell out of here.

(** **)

Van Graff’s flat was a battlefield.

From the doorway the light from the fire poured into the bedroom. In a haze, I noticed the large blackened holes left by Van Graff’s energy weapons; I shivered when I realized how close I had been to getting vaporized. My hoof tripped over my discarded pistol. Subconsciously, years of shooting made me grab my last clip, and engage a bullet in the chamber.

I stumbled over to the living room, and paused in the doorway to catch my breath. My vision was starting to improve, but there wasn’t much to see.

The living room was gone.

Of the cozy place I had crossed on my way in, nothing remained. The sofa had been burned and thrown against the television by the blast; most of the bookshelves had been vaporized and what little remained was now burning.

Circling around the fires as best as I could, I headed for the kitchen.

There, among the mess, I found Van Graff.

Somehow, he was still alive, but given the look of his burns, and the utter lack of right foreleg, I had little doubt he didn’t have much time left. Half his face had been melted by the plasma and his breath was ragged. He was going to kick the bucket any minute now.

I staggered toward him, and pulled his keys from his carbonized outfit. An unrecognizable goo stuck under my hooves, but I was way past beyond caring. Then, I turned back, and I dragged my hooves back in the bedroom.

It was then the fire-fighting system started raining on me.

I yelped, as a bolt of pain pierced my brain regardless of the Med-X. The light from the fires started dimming out, and I grabbed the flashlight in my bag. I mentally realized I couldn’t remember it was waterproof, but I didn’t even feel like chuckling at the silly idea.

Now both burned and drenched, I laid my head against the safe door, and inserted the key in the lock.

Sliding my haunches to the floor, I pulled the heavy door, and aimed my light inside the safe.

Of course, there were many wonderful guns, but this wasn’t what I came for, and in my state I wouldn’t be able to carry them anyway.

There were many caps, but I didn’t come so far for the money.

There were many papers, but they bore no interest to me.

Of keys, however?

There were none.

(** **)

I may have lost my cool back then, and cursed the Goddesses with all my might.

But it felt like it was justified.

In retrospect, I had no one to blame but myself: it was I who took Crowneigh’s intelligence for granted. For all I knew, Van Graff had never seen the yellow key in his life.

But I wasn’t going to let him die before telling me so.

Sitting on the kitchen floor among the ruins, I stabbed yet another Med-X syringe in his crisped body. The stench of cooked flesh and spilled chemicals was abominable, but I was way past carrying. Then, I forced him inhale one of the two remaining Dash.

Van Graff woke up.

“Where’s the key!?” I yelled, shaking him. “Where is the motherfucking key, Van Graff?”

“W-what?” he whimpered, blinking the only good eye he had left. His voice was barely more than a whisper.

I grabbed the whole bloody box of Mint-Als, and made him chew it. He tried to fight it, but he simply didn’t have the strength anymore.

“The yellow key!” I stammered. “The complex one with DERTA written on it! WHERE IS IT, VAN GRAFF?”

A flow of understanding shimmered in his eye, as the memory-enhancing drugs kicked in.

“Y- You mean that piece of junk?” he asked in a whisper.

I could feel him dying in my hooves, taking his secret to the grave. I stuck the adrenaline syringe in his body, along with the last of the Med-X.

“Where is it, Van Graff?” I asked one last time, despair replacing anger in my voice. It just wasn’t fair!

“I… I th…”, he was agonizing.

Then, as if spitting in my face on last time was something worth dying for, he suddenly regained a second wind.

“I threw it away, bitch!” he hissed with his last breath.

Van Graff died, and I let out a long wail of despair.

(** **)

Sobbing from pain and from grief, I stood up, and walked away from the disaster area. As much as my body wanted to drop dead on the spot, the survivalist part of my brain pressed me to carry on. The key was nowhere to be found, and what?

Unlike the others, I was still alive.

It did little to comfort me though. I hadn’t realized how much I had invested in this little errand. Maybe I had heard the legendary call of the sirens from the El Dorado?

“You’re no better than Crowneigh,” the voice whispered. “Murderer.”

It didn’t really mattered, I thought bitterly as I exited the living room. The key was gone.

Something crunched under my hoof, and I almost lost my balance. The terminal was the only thing that kept me from falling, and muttering an unholy curse I aimed my flashlight toward the ground.

The box from earlier had been blown away by the explosion, and its contents had been scattered everywhere on the floor.

I snorted in disdain. It was junk.

I froze as I realized a key was among said junk.

And another. And another.

Laughing maniacally, I dropped to the ground and frenetically searched the items on the floor.

Soon enough, I found the little yellow key of my dreams.

(** **)

Afterward, I think I spend a good minute cackling like a madmare. I was hysterical.

I don’t know what hit me the strongest: that I found my grail right after losing all hope of ever finding it, or that it had been in a fucking box in the fucking hallway!

Of course he’d put it there. If I had just stopped for a fucking second, I would have realized he had no idea what the hell the key was supposed to be. And what do you do with keys without a lock?

You put it in the motherfucking box near the motherfucking door!

Then, as somepony knocked against the heavy metal frame next to me and called Van Graff out, I realized I still needed to get the hell out of Tenpony.

Alive, if I could.

I used the terminal to get back on my hooves, and realized the Dash was wearing off. I still had another inhalator in my bags, but I didn’t want to take any additional risks. My heartbeat slammed irregularly in my ears, and my head wouldn’t stop spinning.

I opened the door, pistol at the ready.

Behind, I was greeted by a lone beige mare.

“Oh, Mr. Van Graff! Are you-”, she began, as her eyes fell on my grim-covered face, my raised pistol and my bloody everything.

And then she fainted.

I strode over her body, and headed toward the exit, dripping blood and soot everywhere.

(** **)

From Van Graff’s, I was only a couple hundred meters away from the lobby. I could barely stand on my hooves now that the Dash was worn off. At least, I already knew the way to the exit.

Remember when I talked earlier about the necessity of scouting a town before doing anything harsh?

Yeah, well that’s why it was so freakin’ important.

I probably made quite a sensation at the security, because everypony shut up when I dragged my bloody hooves into the waiting room.

I probably had a few minutes before anypony thought of stopping me to drag me to the Hospital.

Maybe less, if the mare from earlier had woken up and told everypony I had murdered Van Graff.

Time seemed to drag on as I reeled through the long room. My vision tunneled around a single point: the huge steel blast doors delimitating the exit. If I only I could reach them, I would have make it out of Tenpony alive.

I put another hoof in front of me, and another. It was getting harder and harder to focus.

“And then what?” the silly voice asked. “If you do not stop here, Spring, where will you?”

I didn’t… want to stop. I had to carry on. Just… a bit longer. A bit farther.

A hoof. Another.

“Where will you stop, Spring?”

Between the steel door, a large shadow appeared. It was saying something, but I couldn’t understand the words. I didn’t care.

He was on the way.

I needed more speed. I needed… awesomeness.

“You are not awesome,” the voice railed. “You are a murderer. You are… a raider, now.”

I grabbed the last Dash, and put it to my mouth. There was a commotion around me, but I didn’t care.

I breathed, hard.

I started galloping.

The shadow shifted, and started yelling.

He was in my way.

He was in my way.

I drew my pistol.

Around me, dozens of panicked shrieks rose and filled the air, but I didn’t care.

I shot. Once. Twice.

The third time, my magic failed me, and my faithful gun dropped. But I didn’t care.

I didn’t stop.

In slow motion, the shadow in front of me dropped, and tendrils of dark smoke flowed from his features as I drew closer.

It was the guard that had been so nice to me on the way in.

“His name was Liberty Shield,” the voice nagged. “He liked you. He was a good pony. And you killed him. For free. For nothing. Raider.”

I jumped over him.

I didn’t care. I couldn’t care. I needed to get out!

I kept running and, as I disappeared in Manehattan, I could swear I heard a voice calling my name.

(** **)

Level up!

New perk:
Bloody Mess: Killing ain’t a clean business. You deal additional critical damages when you use dismemberment-able weapons.

“Bloody hilarious!”

Author's Note:

As always, special thanks to my proofreader, Lepking13.

Google Docs version:
Shades of Grey, Chapter Four: Break on Through