• Published 24th Mar 2013
  • 2,745 Views, 120 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - False Dawn - Requiem Mori



Equestria has fallen, and the pieces are still being recovered. A mare wanders alone, cold and embittered. Perhaps she'll find friendship, even in these dark times... if such a thing is even possible.

  • ...
14
 120
 2,745

Chapter 19: Requiem for the Lost

Chapter 19: Requiem for the Lost

Look now, how the bell tolls. Look now, how the proud shall fall.

Raise your head and sing... a song of sorrow, a song of lamentations. Gone and lost, gone and lost... everypony close to me fades to dust and ash, withered by the ravages of time or the cruelty of others. How do you describe a loss? How do you define pain? You cannot, really. You can describe it intellectually, but there are no words for the soul crushing pain that slams down on you like a black tide. You can only scream your defiance, a wordless cry against the sorrows of the world. Time must wait for grief. The world must wait for sorrow. There is nothing left now, but to move on. I will not forget you... any of you. But I must continue on. My final tribute to the fallen will be the completion of our task... this I swear, upon your shallow graves. I will never forget. But more importantly, for you my fallen, more importantly, I shall never forgive. I am become wrath. I am become fury. They have sown the seeds of death, now let them reap the harvest.
~ From the Journal of Nevermore

Going back through the Wall is much easier than the first time. Their defense are set against those trying to get in... they barely spare a thought for an old ghoul trying to leave. There’s no technology on me that the Steel Rangers would want, nothing about me that they would care for. I was just another old ghoul to them, a walking corpse that they had no interest in. All it took was a few caps for the toll, and I was back on my way to the Blok... back on my way to my companions. I exhale deeply, my deadly breath caught and contained by the water sloshing in my mask. The hissing wheeze draws the attention of a passing merchant, but he quickly hurries past. I toy with the thought of just heading into the Dead Zone myself, leaving my companions at the rendezvous, waiting for me. They’d give up eventually, if I never showed. But, they earned the right to see this through. It was just up to them whether they wanted to see it through. That thought had occurred to me as well... perhaps none of them would show up. Part of me hoped for that, so I could continue on with no regrets. I shake my head slightly. If only I would be so fortunate. No, this was the endgame... perhaps the end of my story as well. I open my wings and take to the skies, thoughts of where I came from driving me to where I was going.

~~~~~~~~~~

“No, I will not accept it.” My voice lashes out, hard and bitter, the fury and rage clearly audible behind my words. I slam a dagger into the soft soil, burying it to the hilt. “You cannot just let this stand.” Minor G. Symphony, the ship’s musician, takes a step towards me, but my molten gaze cuts him off, his support unwelcome and unneeded. My long mane was cut shorter, a gentle bob that made it easier to fight. I had resisted for a while, but the needs of the war must. I did so detest cutting my long mane shorter. What the new manestyle doesn’t do, however, is hide the anger and pain in my eyes. Eyes flaring with fury and hatred.

“It’s the right choice, Nevermore... we’d only lose more if we went back.” Nessy tries to calm me, but I scorn her comforting presence, my eyes locked on the white unicorn in front of me.

“Captain. They have her body. I will not let those... those Zebras defile her any further.” My hooves slam the ground, though the soft soil robs it of the impact. I snarl my wordless rage. “If you will not get her body, then I will.” I interrupt my captain as he tries to speak, my words hammering into him like a feral storm, a fury that he has to endure. “I do not care what you may think of this, I do not care what the cost may be. I am going back, and Tartarus take me if I leave her for them.”

We stare at each other for a few seconds, before he breaks his gaze finally. “The Flickerjack will wait here for no more than two hours, Nevermore.” He turns back to the ship, organizing the crew to prepare her for takeoff. “Try to make it back on time.” Most of the crew looks torn, before turning back to help the ship. I know that most feel as I do, but they also know the risk... and the cost, for naught but a corpse. Most will not meet my eyes, knowing what I was going to ask from them. I knew the cost too, but in my pride and my anger, I ignored it.

I ignored it, and we paid dearly. I barely made it out myself. Some of my comrades didn’t. Their blood was on my hooves, not for some great gain, but rather for a point of pride. Pride, the killer of legions. I refused to accept defeat, refused to accept my own mortality. And those close to me paid for it with their lives. I don’t know when the dreams started, not any more, but even now, they haunt my dreams, reminding me of my failures and their deaths. The dreams never fade, they just continue to add to each other, drowning me in blood.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Dead Zone. It had been nearly a month since I left my companions in the Blok. I would barely make it in the time restriction that I had imposed on myself. My heart begins to race as I get closer. How many would be waiting for me? How many intended to join me on this mission? Part of me prayed that none of them would, saving them from my fate. The rest of me hoped that they would not forsake me. The road can be long, when it is walked alone, but a dangerous road is prone to leave nothing but bodies behind, those of friends, companions, or those we know.

I exhale deeply, my mask hanging on my throat, the heavy device swaying gently as my cursed breath fills the air around me. I pause, for just a few moments, closing my eyes. A moment of silence in a broken wasteland. No, I need to steel my will, focus my mind. Until now, we have merely endured, merely survived. Now we strike. The time for doubts is long gone, blown into the wind. It was time to show our fortitude, to endure the hardships, to fight for survival. Not just for us now, no, but for a potential future. One I used to believe in. Hope. Such an odd memory now. Darkness clouds my eyes, hope but a distant feeling. Something I have abandoned on the long, hard road. Even if we succeeded... would it matter? Would anything change? Perhaps, perhaps not. I have a hard time imagining change, of imagining hope. The few times that I have felt hope have swiftly led to disaster. There is nothing left for me now in this world but sadness and regret, misery given form. I am Nevermore, the forsaken, the traitor. I think of my new companions, steeling myself against the truth. I don’t deserve them, I never did. Yet they will fade to dust, long before my own end. I was so tired of seeing ponies die... I am so tired.

Yet I must continue on, always continue on. It’s not enough to lay down and die. No, I am still driven, still fueled. Hate burns deep in my soul, smouldering fury that forces me forwards, ever forwards. Silently, I pull my mask back up to my face, smelling the stench of sweat and rubber. The buckles snap into place, locking it on for now, my breath hot and heavy in its smothering embrace. Yet one more thing for me to rail against. There’s the faintest click of a hoof against a stone, stirring the rubble almost imperceptibly. It would be fast, it would be easy. A sudden turn, a hurled knife. Leave another corpse in the Wastes. Yet I hold my hoof, feign ignorance. They haven’t attacked me yet, and I am not inclined to strike first when uncertain of the situation. Perhaps I have grown soft.

“Hooves up. Don’t make any funny movements, or I’ll take your head off.” I’m surprised by the voice, it’s young. Surprisingly so. But more interestingly, there’s the faintest trace of an accent in it, one I had heard before, one I was intimately familiar with.

“Do not do anything you will regret, young one... there are things that are not worth it in this world.” I feel my own accent thicken, one that I had taken pains to reduce but never managed to eliminate, the old timbre from Trottingham filling the air again despite my rasping rattle. I slowly turn to face her, my eyes focusing down on the filly. The pistol she has is held poorly, letting me know that there is no fear for my life, or unlife. The pale grey filly moves her wings nervously, a dirty hoof scratching at the ground. “What is your name, little one?”

“Lamentations.” She looks up at me. “B-but give me your caps, or I’ll shoot! I really will!” She puffs up slightly. “I’m the L-lady of the Loft so you should be afraid!”

Lady of the... I narrow my eyes slightly. No, it couldn’t be. I look her over, seeing traces, but only traces. “If you are the Lady of the Loft, then you should watch your speech, little one. Do not use contractions, speak formally, speak proper. Not doing this is the sign of a lazy mind, and a lady does not let others think ill of her.” I think I finally recognize the traces of somepony I used to know Long ago, so very long ago. “Do you know of a Sonnet, perhaps? She would have been a Lady of the Loft, many years ago... does this name seem familiar to you?”

Her ears press down slightly. “H-how’d... how did you know that name?” She seems to bristle slightly. “Who told you that?”

I shake my head slightly, my heart lodged in my throat. I should just leave now. I don’t have the time to get involved, but I feel that I must. “Written Verse... she knew Sonnet.” Memories of my younger sister flood my mind. Little Sonnet, so happy, so cheerful. So full of life. I hope she died well, though it seems she did have foals, stretching through the generations, until now.

“Written Verse? She was a hero, you know.” My gaze snaps back to the little filly. What did she say? “It’s in the big book, I want to be like her when I get bigger.” She puffs up again, even as I tip my head back. Laughter echoes across the broken wastes as my bitter mirth rises to the heavens. “What? What you laughing about?” She aims her pistol at me again. “Better not be laughin’ at my hero!”

“Hero? Do not be foalish... Written Verse was nothing of the sort. She was a villain, if anything. Betrayer and betrayed... lost to those who once knew her. Besides, she died, many years ago.”

The filly’s smug look catches me wrong-hooved. What is she thinking about? What makes her smile like that? “Dead? That’s just what the common story is! We know what really happened.” She puts the small pistol back down. “I’ll show you the book, since you know about her, but you’re going to have ta swear to never say anything about it ta anyone, got it?”

How curious, the young... even those hardened by life in the wastes still possess an element of curiosity and innocence. “The word of a lady is sufficient, Lady Lamentations... so I shall follow you, and no word of this shall escape my lips.

I follow her through the Wastes, through the ruins of civilization, bobbing and weaving through the wrecks dotting the land. This young pegasus intrigues me. It seems she was a descendant of Sonnet, and retained some knowledge of her, but how was this possible? And how did she know of me? These thoughts tumble through my mind until we finally reach a broken house, the windows barred over with wood and barbed wire. She leads me carefully through the maze of tripwires and landmines, before rapping on the door in a swift pattern, somepony inside opening the door in response.

There’s a commotion as she enters the door, but it falls to complete, dead silence as I enter the room. “Who is that, Lament?” The mare rises to her hooves, her wings opening as she points the saddle-mounted rifle at me, her eyes boring into me.

The filly looks at me, suddenly remembering she never asked my name before. Her mouth opens, then closes, then opens again as she tries to think about what to say. I save her from the discomfort as I politely nod to the mare. “I am Nevermore, a wanderer. The young lady Lamentations was gracious enough to show kindness to an old ghoul. If it is a problem, then I shall leave.”

The mare looks at me, her eyes narrowing. “Lamentations was shooting her mouth off again, huh? I don’t know why you’re claiming that name, but it won’t do you any good here.” She scoffs slightly as she shakes her head. “She doesn’t realize that heroes only die...” She looks over towards the filly.

“She knows about Sonnet, ma...” The filly’s voice squeaks from behind her mother as she peers past the mare’s leg.

“Is there trouble, Allegory?” A deep male voice sounds out as he comes from a back room.

The mare looks back at him. “No, our guest was just...” She shoots a glance down at the filly. “What did you say?”

“I said she knows about Sonnet... and I only told her about Written...” Lamentations looks at me again. “She sure looks like the picture...”

Allegory looks back at me, more carefully, seeming to scrutinize me with her eyes. “You don’t think that...” She clears her throat, seemingly hesitant. “Miss... Nevermore, was it? You know of Written Verse? Forgive me for asking, but can you describe her cutie mark?”

I scoff slightly, an abrupt sound erupting from my throat. “Her cutie mark? It was nothing worth mentioning.” I feel the filly’s eyes on me. Part of me just wants to not answer, to plead ignorance, but a greater part of me needs to find out. “A raven, perched on a branch. Set against a full moon... her talent was writing depressing poetry.” I cut off the sudden commotion as I keep talking. “Sonnet had a feather quill, set against three pieces of paper stacked on each other. Her talent was rhyming.”

“How do you know this... who told you?” Allegory stands up. “There’s no way you should know these things. You can’t know these things.” Slowly, carefully, I lift the back of my armored dress up. While part of it is fused to my spine, not allowing me to remove it any more, the lower parts are still flexible, letting me lift it up, revealing my cutie mark, still recognizable over the rot and decay that wracks my body. With a heavy sound, the dress falls back to its normal position, as I let it go. “... you don’t just know Written Verse, you are her, aren’t you?”

I shake my head. “No, Written Verse died years ago, I am just Nevermore.”

“Who served on the Flickerjack, a pirate turned hero when the war broke out... the media was not kind to you.” She nods to Lamentations who scampers off, coming back with a large tome, full of clippings and papers.

My heart stops as the filly opens it, revealing an old wanted poster, my youthful face giving a mischievous smile, daring anypony to try and claim my bounty. I still remember getting that bounty, and the series of events that had turned me into an outlaw. Old memories don’t die, they just seem to fade at times. I recognize the writing beneath it, the clean, strong, annotations detailing the articles. My father’s writing. I page through the journal, articles about my life, pictures taken, news written. The interview from the Pegasus Free Press, the warning notice in the Manehatten Times. Each of these are yellowed and weathered from age. Each of them has comments, speaking of a father’s pride, prayers for my safety, regrets of what happened. But I understood, I always did, even if I didn’t appreciate it. Everything for the family, after all. The writing changes halfway through, smaller, more elegant, feminine. Clearly, somepony else had taken over the writing as the war got underway in full. Sonnet’s, I assume. The articles abruptly end halfway through, even as I feel tears moistening my eyes. I look at the clipping, the last entry in the book... it was from when I disappeared, all those years ago, when I started hunting those who were killing my former crewmates. I had foalishly believed that nobody remembered me, that none would have known the name Nevermore from my old life.

My heart seems to die in my chest. I would never meet any of them again. I never had a chance to say goodbye. Still, here’s a fragment of my past, remnants of what I used to have, what I had lost. Their written words are knives, stabbing into my heart. I tilt my head back, and just begin to laugh. The cruelty of the world does not escape me. All these years, all this pain, all this sorrow. Fear for my family, sorrow for Trottingham. The world had ended, and I had believed my world had ended with it.

“Not kind indeed.” I look at the articles again, bits of my past. The hatred from the press for me and my kind was vitriolic. Pirates, raiders... murderers. What did they know, those who had never been in a fight? Who were they to judge us who shed blood for them? I could not stand them. Leeches and parasites, the whole lot of them. Gorging themselves on the blood of those of us who fought while decrying our actions that led to that point. Judging us for actions they forced us to do, even as they sat in their ivory towers. At least I had the solace that most of them were probably dead by now. Still, I had stayed too long. There was nothing here for me. What place would I have in a family long forgotten? What respite would I gain as one of the dead amidst the living? No, I had lingered too long already. I have a deadline, and I must keep it.

I don’t say goodbye. Why should I? No, empty words, well wishes, and long goodbyes are meaningless for me. Just a simple nod, a turn. A quiet ‘thank you’. And that’s it. I do not intend to come back. There is no point to that. While we may share the same blood, decades have passed. Generations have gone by. The link between us is faint, thin. Only old memories and older regrets tie us. I force the severance of these bonds. I refuse to be bound by yet more of my past. Lamentations watches me, not wanting me to go. I do not care. Her name befits her cries, yet I harden my heart. Allegory just nods her head though. She understands more than the young. She knows the dangers of having one like me around. Just like that, I turn my back on my past again, my step solid, even as hot tears run down my mask.

The light is fading, the world fading to dusk. A calm before the building storm. I can feel the pressure building in my bones, feeling the weight of the task ahead. Revive the Captain. That is the first step. Then we need to survive.

~~~~~~~~~~

Silence. Darkness. Oppressing eternity, stretching out forever. The weight of the world, the weight of my sins pressing down around me. Images flash, just a bare moment, a slight impression, then darkness again. History, memories, pain. So much pain. It gnaws at me, an ever present feeling fighting through the haze enshrouding my mind. “Killed us... killed us... killed us...” The ghastly words scratch through the air, clawing at the edges of my sanity, tearing at my mind with their revenant’s call. I can feel myself being pulled apart, torn to pieces by spectral claws. Oblivion calls, I can feel the lure of the darkness, pulling me in. Finally, rest.

Now, just as then, I feel the pull of magic, the draw of the curse I endure. Please no. Please not again. The magic infuses my body, drawing me back from the edge, pulling me from the end that I have desired for so long. Desperately I try to fight it again, mocking laughter filling my ears even as I struggle. I feel the dark energy pouring into my body again, suffusing me with its mockery of life. A wave of magic seems to fall upon me, smothering me in its cursed embrace. Fighting, struggling, drowning. With a gasp, I feel myself choke... and then I open my eyes.

~~~~~~~~~~

I awaken on my perch, the ruins of a building that lay broken and shattered, exposed to the elements. A sad reminder to the fate of Equestria, but a convenient shelter away from most trouble. Rain washes off my cloak, the grey sky weeping a shroud across the land I used to love. Even now, I feel the chill in my bones as I slowly pull myselves to my hooves. Almost there. And just in time. I would make my deadline, but only just. Opening my wings, I take to the sky, heading towards my destination. The question still remains if there would be anypony waiting for me. The Dead Zone lies in front of me, an ominous sight, a tribute to death and the curse that accompanies this new world we live in. With a gentle thump, my hooves clip onto the pavement, my wings folding back in as I land. My breath hisses behind my mask, a rasping sound muffled by the heavy device. I hear the faintest sound of something moving, my knife on my hoof even as I whirl. The familiar sight of power armor reassures me, even more with the cannons strapped to its sides, and the face of a companion. “Star Racer.”

She nods to me slightly, even as her rifles start to power back down. “Nevermore.” She smiles slightly. “Almost thought you weren’t going to make it. The others are growing impatient, but I knew you would.”

My heart catches in my chest. “Others?” Star Racer was one that I thought would be sure to stay, even though she now had things to live for. The others? Part of me wished they didn’t come. They still had so much to live for, so much that I could not offer them. No, they’re going to start walking this road with me, and I do not believe that we will make it back out.

“Yes, we all came. All of us.” A familiar blue unicorn catches my attention, her barding freshly repaired, her shotgun gleaming with deadly intent as she feeds shells into it. “Even Fritter, though he wouldn’t stop complaining.” She smiles kindly, Zone Control leaning up against a shack as she keeps working on her shotgun. The others start to gather, Frisky Fritter, the ugly stallion shifting impatiently on his hooves. Tik, juggling some grenades in her magic. Vusi, watching Tik before giving me a slight nod of acknowledgment. They were all here.

Gradually, they slow down and look at me quietly. Waiting for me to say something. I clear my throat slightly. I hate speeches. “This is it... the end. If you wish to leave, I will not look poorly on you. This is not your fight. I will not say this is a fight for Detrot. I will not say this is a grand and glorious task. No. It is just an old mare with an old wound. You have much to live for... much to lose here. I...” My voice cuts out as my heart wants them to leave, but also wants them to stay. I did not wish them to leave me, but I did not wish to lose them either.

Zone Control places her hoof on my shoulder. “It’s alright, Nevermore. We’ll see this through. Until the end.” We nod solemnly, knowing the task before us. Knowing our chances.

“Yes, until the end.” My voice is rasping and gravelly, worn through misuse and time, hiding the sorrow at those words, hiding the knowledge of how slim our chances are. “Until the end.”

~~~~~~~~~~

I follow behind Nevermore, my heavy armor clinking as I think about where we are. Where I am. Star Racer, Enclave Lieutenant. Now risking my life down here for a pony that saved mine. Drawn to a mare that just a few months ago I would have ignored or killed. Unconsciously, I reach up, feeling my throat where I had my tags on for so many years. Missing now. Left behind with her. What will I do? My heart is torn inside my chest. I yearn to return above the clouds, to feel the wind in my wings. To soar in the night air. Yet my heart is also bound to the ground now. A dilemma, to be certain, one that I have mulled in my mind during these long weeks. She had wanted to come along. Not for Nevermore or her quest. I’m not sure she even likes the dour pegasus. No, but she would have come for me.

We fought, before I left. Her tough exterior cracking ever so slightly as I prepared to leave her. Prepared to face a future filled with death, knowing that she might never find out what happened. I gave her my dogtags then, with an empty promise that I would return. Empty words that were meant to comfort, meaningless even as I said them, knowing she expected to hear it. “It’s alright, Gangrene... I’ll be back before you know it. Then we can discuss things... since... yeah.” The feisty raider just looked at me for a moment, before turning away, her greasy tail leaving a splotch on my coat, even as she starts to walk back. She’s right though. I better. If we are able, that is.

I can only excuse my terrible lack of focus on myself. I know better, or at least I should. Not for the first time do I curse the damage to my E.F.S. Not for the first time do I scream at my companions to take cover. Something flashes by, just a faint blur of movement, nearly invisible to the naked eye. I try to swing my rifles in line, but it’s fast, too fast. I can hear a click of blades as it closes like the wind, a faint distortion that is among us before I finish my warning. Tik screams as something slashes her chest, the mare not inured from the pain, despite how much Med-X she takes. Vusi rushes to her side, even as I try to direct us, barking orders. The mare I left behind rudely shoved to the back of my head as battle is upon us. At least Tik is still screaming, it means she’s alive. My rifles spit out a stitching web of energy, lancing out to try to catch our invisible assailant. A sixth sense warns me as I whirl, bringing a steel shod hoof up to cover my throat, a blade biting into the plating. A hot flare of pain wells up as the blade bites flesh, blood welling from the wound. Though the plate was breached, I whispered a prayer of thanks to Luna that I didn’t lose the leg.

Something close to me roars, my invisible assailant blown to the ground by a storm of fire and metal, the bucking shotgun held in Zone’s magical field. It’s invisibility compromised, we finally see our attacker. The mare was a crudely stitched monstrosity, her legs replaced by wicked blades, the cause of the noise from earlier. But that isn’t all. Dead flesh is stitched together crudely, an undead abomination. Blades are crudely attached to the creature, replacing its legs, its tail, a blade sticking out of its head. Blind eyes try to track us as the cybernetic ghoul twists unnaturally, scrabbling to rise up to fight us again. Zone’s shotgun roars again, tearing the figure to the ground, chunks of flesh falling to the ground as it tries to regain its legs. With a click, her shotgun snaps empty, the unicorn frantically trying to reload, the monster rising back up.

There’s a flash of a blade, and a scream of pain. Nevermore is swarming the creature, her wings batting at it as she slices at it fiercely, blades whirling as she presses her assault. For all her dour attitude and careful movement, she’s an absolute terror, a storm of wrath and fury. Blades parry blades as she matches the terror strike for strike. A wicked looking dagger slips through the creature’s guard, the weapon burying itself to its hilt. Like a puppet with its strings cut, the creature drops, hitting the ground with a sharp thud.

There’s a sneer of derision on her face as she looks down at the body, a savage slice taking it’s head off. The old ghoul was bleeding from a dozen wounds, though none of them seem to bother her. Viscous blood slowly leaks to the ground, the dark fluid rotting away as it stains the concrete and asphalt beneath her hooves. Her face is set in grim determination. No longer the apathetic acceptance of the world in her eyes. No longer the quiet resentment. No, the mare is driven now. Focused. I see her now as she was, not how she is now. Nevermore, Skyrate, pirate, killer.

~~~~~~~~~~

Congratulations, Nevermore! More useless info from your past. I’m sure knowing you have relatives is a great salve to your soul. Oh wait, you abandoned them. Just like you abandoned everypony else.

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