• Published 24th Mar 2013
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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.

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Chapter 21: River of Sorrows

Chapter 21: River of Sorrows

Be careful what you wish for. You just may find it.

There are no more left. It is just me. The feeling there is, when you realize that you are the last one that is standing, the only one that remembers. The only one left alive. How do you even begin to describe it, how do you even begin to feel it. The pain, the sorrow, the loss. They’re dead, all of them. And once again, I am alone. So very alone. Why? Why am I so ill fated. Why am I so cursed. But I have run out of tears. I have run out of sorrow. I am dead, even while I am very much alive. A living corpse. Just one... just me. None shall remember my passing. None shall remember my fall. And even if they do, they will not remember my kindly. Murderer. Betrayer. Nevermore.
~From the Journal of Nevermore

Blood runs down my hooves in a steady stream, staining my dark coat yet again. It won’t wash out, it never will. Never does. The others aren’t here to see me now, not here to see the result. I’m alone again. Always and forever. Even when I was young, when I had a family, I was alone. It is my shield, and my shroud. It protects me and damns me at the same time. I rail at the fates, at the cruel world, but I do so in the safety of my own mind. “Why... why...” The only words to escape my mouth as I look at the devastation that surrounds me. “Why...” My hoof slides back down to the ground, stepping into a pool of blood, the faint sounds of machinery surrounding me, the darkness shrouding me. “Why.” I grab another of the long knives, shoving it through the flesh in front of me, my rage fueling my grief, adding it to the others. Why.

~~~~~~~~~~

Earlier...

The hospital is quiet, silent. Oddly so. The signs of fighting and bloodshed surround us, but nothing disturbs this sepulchure. This graveyard for the lost. Our hooves clip along the tiles, now lacking the heavy thump of armored legs. Star Racer. I feel myself drowning in sorrow, my tears threatening to overwhelm me. But I must be strong. I must continue. There will be time for recriminations later. Enough time indeed. Do I not know regrets and sorrows? I step past a body, the bones scattered in the corridors. Who was that? What was their story? Who would know it now? My hoof comes down onto a femur, crushing the old bones into dust. Nopony. That’s the answer. That is always the answer now. Faded into the dust of time.

Still, I was promised answers here. Redemption. Hope. The promise is almost in reach, but how true is it? Were we seeking an empty dream? A broken dream? Probably. Most likely. And if so, for what did we fight, bleed, and die for? Each step makes these words harder on me to think on. Each step brings back the fear that everything is for naught. But what is hope, anyways, but the foalish delusions of the optimist. My throat feels dry as we walk down broken corridors. The ponies behind me are whispering, muttering. Let them. It will make this easier, once we are done.

Yes... it would be far easier, if they grew to hate me further.

~~~~~~~~~~

I watch our leader, worried. Not just for us, but for her too. She seems driven, focused. As if she were heading towards the end. Seeking it. It’s hard to pin down, but I can see the signs. In her tone, in her stance. She doesn’t expect to survive this. She doesn’t want to survive this. I watch her again carefully. Worried.

~~~~~~~~~~

Slowly, carefully, we move through the shattered remains of the hospital. Bodies lay where they fell, all that time ago. Hospital beds are overturned, ancient blood splattering the floor and the walls. Despite the carnage the smell of decay has left, faded with time. A hospital, forgotten and abandoned. I know where we need to go, but I do not wish to go there yet. Now, on the brink of the truth, my hooves seem to have turned to lead, my heart stopping in my chest. What will I find? The surroundings call out to me, worn and decrepit. Faded dreams of what once was. How many ponies used to come here in better times? How many died here, at the end of the world. I’m about to stop and look at my companions, when I hear... something. A faint click, just enough to catch my attention. Where had I... My hoof flashes up, slamming the blade into the wall, my eyes just barely catching the distortion of a cloaked foe. Again, I manage to push the blade past my head again, wishing I had time to draw a knife.

While I can fight unarmed, it reminded me too much of desperate battles against the zebras. How many had I seen fall to their hooves? How many have I seen die. Hissing my disgust, it’s all I can do to keep up, let alone go on the offensive. I know I can’t rely on the others to help me, the sounds of combat letting me know that they’re engaged as well. “Run.” I feel the blade slip into my chest, cutting into, and through, the armored dress, as I buy us an opening to run. The wound burns, the pain flaring past my numbness. With a vicious strike, I slam my hoof into my assailant, but the creature seems to not be affected much, though it’s invisibility flickers for a bit, giving me a glimpse of my foe. It’s another one of those bladed creatures, a mix of ghoul and machinery and blades. Why is it here? Growling my irritation, I keep it in place as my companions run past, Zone’s shotgun barking to keep them off our backs. I nod with grim satisfaction that at this range the shotgun is proving to be quite effective, buying us some time. Additionally, she’s kind enough to shoot the mare off of me, though the blade wrenches rather uncomfortably in the wound.

There’s a cry of pain as I disentangle myself from my foe, but not from me. Fritter’s gone down, and I see Zone turning back to try to get to him... but will she make it in time? I move to block for him, buying precious seconds at the cost of my own blood. But what does it matter... a knife lances through my shoulder, though I manage to pull my knife up to block another strike, steel ringing on steel. I hate these things. They’re tough, fast, and far too stabby for my liking. Kicking off the nearest foe, I launch myself backwards, grabbing Fritter as my wings propel me down the hall. Picking up the stallion... but leaving his leg on the ground.

With the door shut and barricaded, they seem to have lost interest in us, at least for now. Vusi stands over the howling Fritter, trying to bandage his leg. “Gonna go out on a limb here, pal, but you’re lucky that’s all you lost...” Ignoring Fritter’s returning complaints, I look at my companions, my eyes locking onto Zone Control. Her eyes greet mine, and I can see her understanding in them, my eyes flicking to Star Racer’s gear on her back. The mare would know what to do with those.

“You know what I am going to say...” She nods slightly. “Then I will make this easy.” I look towards the rest of them as well, including the rest in my speech. “The rest of this journey is not for you. Go... leave. Do whatever you wish. Live however you will. I have nothing else for you. Nothing else to tell you.” My voice is cold and harsh, intending to drive them away. “There is nothing for you here.” With that I turn and stalk off, hoping they’ll leave without me.

To my surprise and irritation, I notice I’m not alone. I turn my head to snap at whoever’s following me, my eyes settling on Zone’s familiar face. I bite back my retort as she starts to speak. “I won’t follow all the way. I know you don’t want that. But I want to at least see it through this far... I want to see the end of this at least.”

Grudgingly, I admit that it’s true. She’s earned the right to this. “Do not slow me down.” Those are my last words to her as I look towards the room, the chamber. Everything prepared for me, or it should be, if Head Case was leading me true... Swallowing hard, I press my hoof against the door, and open it.

It’s dark inside, a single light flickering on and off. We move into the room, and my fears are confirmed. This is what Head Case wanted. He wasn’t giving me what I wanted, he was taking what he thought he needed. And even to my disgust... I would still see it happen. I gently pull the memory orb out of my packs. The stories of me... and my history with him. The Captain. The machine accepts it readily, sorting out the parts he would need, saving the ones that relate to him. The rest of my past irrelevant to the grand design. I motion for Zone to leave, though I do not watch her. A mechanical voice sounds in my ears as I draw closer. “Resuscitation beginning. One thousand and ninety five days until recovery... stand by.”

I let the door close behind me as I enter the inner room, my eyes on the stallion before me. His red mane and tattered white coat are familiar, but it is not him. I can feel it. It is just not him. I take the Captain’s horn out of my bag, looking at it. Remembering when it was lost. Savagely, I lock it into place, tightening the bolt that seems designed to receive the gift from the past. This... thing was supposed to replace him. This thing was supposed to grant me absolution. What a laugh. Furiously, I lash out with one of the surgical knives on the table, jamming it deeply into dead flesh. Another, then another. “Why... why... why?!” How could I have been such a foal. I knew it was hopeless. I knew it... yet I persisted in this folly. And now she was dead because of me. And now the others were injured because of me. Save us? Please. This sad creature wouldn’t even wake for three years yet. I shove more tools into it’s chest, my frustration and hatred being vented on the dead flesh. “Why...” Blood runs down the wounds, red and black, so like my own. It covers my hooves, pooling on the floor. “Why...” I sink to the ground in despair. “Why.”

As I stare at the bloody corpse, words erupt from the speakers. “What is your name?” The message repeats in a dull and monotonous tone. “What is your name?” Indeed... what was its name, if it even had one.

~~~~~~~~~~

I look to where she’s gone, supporting Frisky Fritter as best I can, the bandages on his leg turning a deep red again as they’re stained darkly. I look back as I have, countless times now. Would we know if she made it? Would we know if she failed? She didn’t seem the same, when she came back from the room, the one that was supposed to hold her Captain. Like her spark had faded, a terrible truth revealed to her. It is impossible for me to know... to hope. She taught me that. A lesson I can never learn, but I can never forget. Her bitterness is a reminder and a warning, the words of her farewell sticking with me. But I remember my words to her, before I left. “Think what you will, Nevermore. But we’re here if you need us. You can come back, and we’ll welcome you. Take care.” She didn’t say anything after that, her demeanor cold and lifeless. She just turned off to head deeper into the Dead Zone, even as we started to head back to the Blok. I didn’t mention to her the orb in my bags. I don’t think she saw me take it. But her tale will not die so easily, not while there are those of us who can remember it.

Briefly, and only for a moment, a light erupts on the heart of the Dead Zone, in the heart of the realm of the Ghoul King. The massive explosion fills the night sky, banishing the shadows in that moment. A beautiful false dawn.

~~~~~~~~~~

Over a hundred years have passed...

There is nothing left to remember. There is nothing left to hope. There is nothing left to dream. Dust and ashes, dust and ashes. All that is left is dust and ashes. The color is gone, the life is gone, the future is gone. All is naught but despair and death. Here lies Nevermore, a broken remnant of the past best left forgotten.
~ Final Entry from the Journal of Nevermore

War. War never changes. An old adage that had echoed through the years. Yet even as that thought echoes in my mind, I can look back, my journals chronicling my travels. I had finished my journeys, the pain and injuries healing with time. I had left my friends to wither and die, succumbing to the sands of time and the cruel hoof of fate. I have watched empires rise and fall. I have seen death for centuries, and yet I continue on. Yes, things do change. Things have changed. The Savior of the Wastes, breaking Equestria free of its destructive cycle. An end, but also a beginning. New hope began to filter through the wastes, ponies turning now to help each other, protect each other from the dangers, finally creating a society again. The bonds of friendship and loyalty that I had believed forever sundered reborn now. The sound of laughter echoing off the landscape.

Yes, Equestria was being reborn, forging a new future for itself on the corpses of the fallen. Yet where does this leave us then? Raider nests were slowly being cleaned out, some too far gone to embrace a new future. Some still clung to their past, fighting for what scraps of power they had left. But Equestria moves on. The gears of progress were churning on, forging ahead to a new future full of new beliefs.

Once again, I stand over the ruins of Detrot, my travels having taken me far away from this desolate city yet back again. Bodies of friends and enemies dotting the landscape... alone yet again. Always alone. A curse of my existence, a past I cannot escape from. I slowly unhook my mask, letting the device to the floor gently to get some fresh air. Exhaling softly, thin wisps of pink curl past my muzzle as I breathe in the air. It was spring now, and I could smell the grass. Life was fighting to survive, fighting to thrive. A new hope, a new beginning. Another deep breathe, my mind lost in the past. Not the distant past, I had finally laid that to rest after decades of pain and strife... no. After over two centuries... I still could not fully let go it seems. I close my eyes and remember... remember the looks the townsfolk gave me. Not just here, but in every gathering I crossed. Not just then, but also now. I remember their fear, I remember their hate. Even as the world is reborn, some parts stay the same.

What was there for me here? An old warhorse, embittered and cursed. A blight, a killer, a remnant of a memory best left forgotten. I exhale again, feeling the sun again after many long decades of closed skies. I spread my wings after long years of forbidden heights. Yet I stay where I am, alone. Forgotten. Why did I come back here? Why did I return? A simple answer to a simple question. I came back here to die. Raising my head, I unleash a wordless scream, tearing across the forsaken city, a cry of anguish, of rage, of despair. The echoing remnant of a life now forsaken, broken tears running down my cheeks as I howl into the empty skies above.

My voice falls off, my face turning back to the ground. My mind focuses back on the present, on my plans. On my future. I remove my saddlebags, setting it next to my mask. My cloak follows, neatly folded on top of the pile. I wouldn’t need them any more. But I have one more gesture to complete, a final vanity on my part, a silent monument against the darkness. I set my journal down on the pile, my most complete, most finished copy remaining, chronicling my life. The last page now chronicling my end. ‘Here lies Nevermore, a remnant of a better time.’ With that, I curl up next to it, closing my eyes. It would have been nice to have seen everypony again, but even now, I cannot name all the corpses in my dreams before running out of time, a veritable mountain of bodies.

For countless years, it had seemed that things would never change, that we would always be locked in a cycle of hate and death. But things have changed. A mare had risen up and shaken the very heavens, a catalyst for change and death. Savior of the Wastes indeed. Still, sacrifices must be made to create a better future. And if anypony should accept the suffering, it should be me. A relic of the past, a blight on the others that is better forgotten. A slayer of countless lives. Perhaps I can finally let my bones bleach under the sun.

I had taken the worst that the Wasteland could throw at me for over two centuries, but I could not take this any more. She had finally done it. The Savior had done what over two hundred years in the Wasteland could not. She had broken me. Not through cruelty or death. No, she broke me by creating kindness, by creating hope. She broke me by creating a world that I had dreamed of, that I had longed for, but have no place being in. An Equestria that would be better off without me. Without my memories, without my pain. Without any of us who remembered what was, both before and during the darkest hours. Those of us who know war as nopony alive can, who truly understands the darkness lingering in the soul. A bitter pill to swallow, my despair finally unleashed, warring with the rage in my heart. I no longer try to contain either of them. I do not care any more. I cannot care. I feel the last strands of my sanity start to snap, the spectre that had haunted me for centuries finally rears its head. Finally, after my long service, I can receive my just reward.

~~~~~~~~~~

A sword hangs above me... my release, my doom. My gaze drops down to the apparition in front of me, my own reflection staring back from the gloom, the mare looking more decayed, more savage though. Dark streams of blood run down her jaws, staining the floor below her. An endless darkness surrounds me. Surrounds us. Stretching out into eternity. “This is it, I suppose. You have always been here, have you not? A part of me that I never wanted to accept.” Of course. Her voice echoes in my mind, her musical tones at odds with my rasping voice. I have always been here, waiting for you. Waiting for this moment. I bow my head slightly. “Waiting for the loss of hope, waiting for the final despair.” She looks up, and my gaze follows hers to the gently swaying sword. You know what that is, right? “Feraldom... the despair that drives a ghoul to lose themselves. Hanging but by a thread, always ready to strike.” I can feel her smile, knowing it doesn’t match mine.

Then why come back here, if you know? “Because I needed to see it again. I needed to see it again with my own eyes...” Is that why you return to Detrot as well, a memory you can never forget? I exhale slowly, shaking my head. “I need one of them to kill me finally. I will not wander the Wastes, preying on the lost and forsaken. No, I will be here, where they stand a chance to finish me at last.” She chuckles, a sinister note in it. So you endanger one of the places you called home for your own ego? Kill those who you once saved? “No... I leave my demise to those who can take me down. And if some fall... I cannot care any more. I just need an end. I am so tired now.” Then rest, Nevermore. There’s a smile on her face, coupled with a maniacal grin of one who has finally received what they have waited for.. Rest now, forever. Looking straight at it, I see the thread finally break, as the sword plummets down. It is finished...

~~~~~~~~~~

Hope blossoms across the Wastes, lives move and struggle as best they can, scraping out a new existence in their lives. A dawning of hope and dreams, a bright future. But, it is a false dawn, doomed even as it begins. A body lies on the ground, slowly staggering back up, a dry hiss escaping its mouth, hunger behind its eyes even as the sky turns dark and heavy with stormclouds. War. War never changes.

~~~~~~~~~~

Achievement Unlocked: No Goddesses, No Monsters - You’ve reached the end of your journey it seems. Nothing to look up to, nothing to look back on. Nothing left, but regrets.

The sun rises and falls, darkness looms on the horizon, even as a spark of light struggles to survive. Yet, there is hope, even amidst the gloom. But for now, for Nevermore, this is...

The End...

or is it?

Author's Note:

And here we have it... the end of False Dawn. Thank you, everyone who has read my story, I hope you enjoyed it. It has been a long run, but thank you for sticking with me!

If you like this ending, stop here, otherwise... the Epilogue may be for you.

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