• 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 2: Tattered Covers

Chapter 2: Tattered Covers

Read, for a better Equestria.

Of everypony I saw in Canterlot the day the bombs fell, I was probably the only one... relieved. My penance was done, I could finally rest. Even as that horrible pink cloud caused my organs to fail, my life to end, I was finally satisfied. Yet, I welcomed the cold embrace of death, even as the world seemed to end around me. Then I stood up again. I am now willing to admit that perhaps I was not the most pleasant mare to be around... but this was... cruel, even for a heartless world.
~ From the Journal of Nevermore

The fire crackled merrily in its pit, a complete opposite of the mood of the other two. They looked around, at each other, looking at anything but the pegasus that had brutally killed the slaver. Me? I was content enough, I suppose. I killed a slaver, a murderer, and a rapist, making it not a bad day. Of course, getting killed earlier did put a damper on the whole thing. Even if I regenerate, it still hurt, and picking shot out of oneself was never a good time. “Hold still... you are squirming too much.” Zone Control didn’t seem that happy as I wound her leg with bandages. Just the normal cloth strips, her injuries not requiring magically enhanced bandages. Besides, I was low on medical supplies, and a few scars would not kill her.

Slipping the roll back into my pack, I’m stopped as she looks up to me. “N-Nevermore? Um... are you going to leave us?” Her voice is fearful and lost, shaken by recent events.

I’m surprised. I thought they’d want nothing to do with me after they knew what I was. Very few ponies tolerated a ghoul, let alone a Canterlot one. Sighing, I turn to look her in they eyes. “Yes, I will.” Her ears wilt... apparently facing this without me was worse than being in my company. “Unless you agree to my conditions.” That caught their interest for sure. “First, always listen to me. I will not argue with you. You listen to me, you may live another day. You do not, and it’s on your head. Second, be careful. I cannot always watch out for you, so assume whatever you are looking at will try to kill you. There is nothing safe out here, even things that seem innocuous or friendly. Especially things that seem friendly. Watch your foes, but more importantly, watch your friends.” I leave that in the air for a little bit, a sober thought from a sober mare. “Finally, know how to kill me properly. Decapitation or disintegration should do it.”

Zone Control stares at me for a few awkward seconds. “Kill you? Why but... I...” Her eyes betray her confusion. Was I not the one who was going to be looking after them? Why would they need to kill me if I’m their helper?

Frisky Fritter looks over, rubbing his fetlocks where he was chained up earlier. “Yeah, you’re a creepy ghoulie, but you’re supposed ta be watching out for us, not dyin’ on us or somethin’ stupid like that.” I really want to kill that stallion sometimes... no respect at all in that one.

Sighing, I debate telling them the entire truth... and decide to start by hedging. “You need to know how to kill things... ghouls included.” I snort at the depressed look on their faces. “If you will not kill, then there is no point in me trying to help you. They will simply eat your face, and I will not care one whit. You must kill to survive out here, it is the only law.” I move closer to the fire, more out of habit than necessity, until I’m just shy of igniting my mane. Even this close, I can barely feel the warmth. My entire body feels numb and cold, but it is something I am used to.

“So there are other ghouls... ones not like you?” Zone’s voice is soft, as if worried I’ll get upset at her, or stab her or something. I wasn’t that mean... most of the time right? “Ones that aren’t um... the helpful sort?”

Sighing, I try to answer her, deciding that they deserve to know the truth about me, and others like me. “There are, generally, two types of ghouls. Those like me, who are quite like most others, just... not, due to differing levels of decay, and the fact that we are mostly dead. Then there are the ones that will try to eat you, called feral ghouls.” I stare at them hard, even as they cower slightly. “All ghouls eventually succumb to that, so when it happens to me, you need to know how to finish me off. I will not have my first experience as a feral ghoul be that of eating my charges...” I growl at them, low and menacing. “Got that?” They quickly murmur assent. “And do not worry... there are not that many that are quite like me... they are easier to kill, and do not... exhale Pink Cloud.” Their faces fall at the mention of the necromantic death cloud that had consumed the slaver. Good job, Nevermore. I watch the fire for a few minutes, the fuel starting to die off. “You two sleep. I will wake you when it is your turn to watch.”

The hours pass uneventfully, the moon slowly crossing the cloud filled sky. Watching can be boring, but there is nothing else to do at this time. I watch the Wasteland, I observe the decaying city in the distance... Detrot, a terrible place. I feel tired, but I wish to give the two some more sleep, keeping myself awake through force of will. Eventually, I need to sleep, so I walk over and give Zone a swift kick to her side. “Your watch now. Get your friend up when it is his turn.” She grumbles something as she pulls herself to her hooves, trying to blink the sleep out of her eyes. Disinterested in what she’s complaining about, I close my eyes to rest... and sleep. After all this time, I know that my sleep is not the sleep of the just. I await the nightmares, just as they await me.

~~~~~~~~~~

I stand in a field of bones. They’re all dry, dusty, bleached. Mares, Stallions, Foals, Griffons... skeletons of all shape and sizes surround me. I walk amidst them, stopping by each one in turn. I watch them... and I know that they are each watching me. “Hello again... Golden Dawn...” Another skull. “Hello again... Steel Flank.” And another. “Hello again... Shining Soul.” I walk through the field of bones, calling names out, one by one. I cannot forget them. I will not forget them. It takes hours... day... months... years. My past is littered with bodies, those I left, those I watched, those that fell. They are all unified in death. Betrayers, betrayed, friends, foes. It doesn’t matter now. Nothing matters now. Bodies are bodies, and I do not discriminate now in death. With a pained sigh, I finish my task in front of the final corpse in my journey... and also the first one. “Hello again... Nevermore.”

"Aren't you ever the morbid one?" I hear the dry, broken voice, the rattle of dusty bones. The call of my personal court jester, the one that played the fool most of my life. I remembered him as I knew him, oh so long ago. Times change, ponies change, but memories, those last forever. "It's not like it's the end of the world." That saying, he had used it against me plenty of times, he always said it and I would mock him for his optimism. Yet, his words did help, once. I look around the blasted landscape... a recreation of the Wasteland out there. If only he was actually here he'd know the irony of that statement. His was the one body I avoided on my journey. I knew where it was, I always know where it is. My heart breaks in my chest, a broken heart for a broken mare.

"Just leave me alone." I rasped, my voice dry and cracking under the merciless sun. I still cannot look at him, still cannot face him. I cannot bear the thought of seeing him reduced to nothing, like the bodies around me. Between him and the other bodies, nothing else was here, other than lingering pain and regret. He was the only source of noise in this barren void, save the howling winds whipping over the stale, cracked bones of this graveyard. "You are the only one that speaks. I would prefer if you did not, Captain." He only smiled, I could feel his smile, a wide, catty grin that had brightened many rooms in his lifetime.

"Do you really think your hooves will ever be clean?" He asked. I shuddered, a sickness welling up in my throat. "That you'll ever be able to escape?" I felt the shadows drawing in, creeping along the ground like weeds. My hooves will never be clean. The blood on them would never come out. "You're just talking to yourself, Nevermore. I'm not really here. I talk because you want me to." That catty grin, that jester’s smile. “I’m not here, Nevermore, because you killed me.”

"I want to be left alone." I muttered, lying again. I always lied to him. Even when he was alive I lied. To be fair though... I believe I lied to myself most of all. I found solace in my deceptions, shielding myself from the pain I had caused. There was no time for that here though, my aching soul confronted with a punishment of my own devising.

"Then why are you here, Nevermore? Why are you dreaming?" His voice came from everywhere. Every body littering the ground shifted, pointing at me accusingly. "Traitor. Traitor. Traitor." Their dry bones rattled and splintered as they had that smile only present in death. Each locked forever in a mocking grin.

"Stop..." My voice is low, shaking, and weak. "Stop..." I began to frantically scream that one word over and over. I look up, eyes wide. "Stop..." I fall to the ground and curl up as best I can, my voice a bare whisper. “Please... stop this...”

"Never... stop... moving." I knew this was my penance... I must keep going, denied the grave. Perhaps, when my time finally came, they would forgive me. Perhaps at that time, I would forgive myself.

~~~~~~~~~~

Dawn... my eyes crack open as the pale light fights to break through the clouds. It was the same dream again... or a variation of it at least. And that is why I hate sleeping. Looking about, I spot Zone curled up by the fire, her blanket draped over her against the cold. Fritter was... Sighing, I look at his sleeping body leaned up against a tree. So much for a reliable watch. Well, we were not murdered, enslaved, or otherwise inconvenienced, so I would let it slide for now, though we would have having words later. Reflecting on the past day, I pull out my most prized possession. Trash to most ponies these days, but without measure to myself.

With careful motions and thought, I open my journal and begin to write with my neat and flowing script. This book was almost done, I would have to go get another one soon to replace it. I record the names of my new companions in my book, placing them into my memories now. Even if they were to fall, I would remember them, at least as long as I stood. The dull scratch of my quill against the paper doesn’t disturb either of them. They were deep in sleep, apparently. The sleep of the just, or at least those not neck deep in blood.

A slight click of hooves against the ground draws my attention. At least one of my companions was up. “Sleep well?” I look up at Zone Control as she addresses me. She looked terrible. I suppose a soft Stable pony like her sleeping out in the Wasteland was not conducive to a good night.

My sleep was terrible, and I still felt exhausted, though that was common enough these days. “Well enough.” Lying smoothly, I close my journal. Old habit, perhaps foolish now, but others did not read my journal unless I let them. Dry bones on a dusty plain... Shaking the thought off, I slip the book into my saddlebags. “Get him up. We are leaving.” Zone wakes the other pony up, not nearly as harshly as I would have. Much less kicking, for starters. Regardless, they’re both up, and mostly ready to go.

Fritter gives me a glare and a snort as he comes closer, blinking the sleep from his eyes. “So what’s the plan then, ya rotter?” Ah yes, still the paragon of tact and politeness, aren’t you, Fritter?

I smile at him, a cold smile that probably scares him more than if I actually yelled at him. Yelling is not really my style, and with my voice the way it is, I can’t get a proper scream up anyways. My voice rasps out, low and harsh through years of dust and insufficient use. “The plan is for you to keep your watch, next time, so that nopony gets murdered in their sleep.” He bristles slightly at my tone, but shrinks away from my hard gaze. “Then we go and secure more supplies. We are going to need a lot more supplies. Water, food, ammunition. I do not eat or drink much, and only carry enough for myself normally” I eye Fritter’s pistol warily, that stallion was far too trigger happy. “Definitely a lot more ammunition as well.”

Zone and Fritter look at each other nervously. “Secure more... supplies?” Zone Control tilts her head curiously. “We don’t have many bits...” They start nosing into their bags, looking for the pre-war money they used.

“Bits?” I snort. “Bits have not been used in over a hundred years, cupcake.” I pull out a shiny bottle cap from my bag. “These are the currency now. Caps.” They’re looking at it, apparently confused that trash is now money. To be fair, I still found the idea to be odd, but if that’s what others took, that’s what I used. “And when I say secure, I do not mean go and buy it.” Looking off to the side, I point with a hoof. “There is a raider camp only a few hours in that direction. We will liberate their supplies.” More important than the supplies was this lesson. You had to be willing to do almost anything to survive out here.

“You mean... ya want us to go off and kill somepony ta take their stuff? Not thinkin’ this is tha sort of thing we should be doin’ now...” Frisky Fritter seems aghast that I would even suggest such a thing. Hardly unexpected, but still a touch disappointing. It seems that the lessons of yesterday had not quite sunk in.

“No, I want us to go remove another Wasteland threat, and collect our just reward afterward for doing so.” Shaking my head at their naivete, I start heading off. Did they already forget what raiders just tried to do to them? Regardless, they fall in behind me, starting to grumble to each other about the sky, the Wasteland, me. “And stop whining. That is an order.” They shut up quickly at least... much better than the last group.

“So um... Nevermore?” I turn to look at Zone Control as she speaks up. “I saw you had a book earlier... do you um... mind telling me about it? We had a library at the stable, but the books there weren’t very interesting, so I was wondering if you had any good stories...” Her ears fall as she catches a look in my eye, apparently. “S-sorry...”

Sighing, I turn from her and keep walking, feeling their eyes burning into the back of my head. Fine... not like it was some horrible secret. “It is my journal. I do not wish to forget anything.” A few more steps, the click of hooves on the hard floor. “Ghouls that turn feral, lose all sense of themselves. Who they are. What they know. What they believe. It is my hope that by keeping my memories, by never letting myself forget anything, no matter how painful it may be, I can always remind myself who I am... though some times I would prefer to forget.” I nod my head slightly. “Perhaps, one day, I will permit you to read it.” My secret hope, my plan to keep that sort from dropping as my mind snaps, making me a flesh hungry feral ghoul. To be such a creature would to suffer a fate truly worse than even this undeath.

Frisky Fritter snorts his derision at my offer. “Oh, yippee... some dusty old book from some dusty old mare.” Yep... I’m going to kill Fritter some day... and I won’t feel bad about it. Not at all.

“That journal, you foalish idiot, is more knowledge on more things than you could possibly fit into your sad excuse for a brain. Now, be quiet. We are getting close to the encampment.” Blissful silence, even if only for a few minutes. I look over my charges. They look nervous, but at least they know which end of the gun goes boom and which end does not. I do hope their aim is decent, as I hate getting shot by my friends even more than getting shot by my foes. While it’s unlikely to kill me, it still really hurts.

Motioning them to get down, I creep forward slowly, a dark shadow, swift and silent. Using a scope from my pack, I look over my target. There appear to be four raiders at this camp, several rusty crates, and other miscellaneous things lying about. As expected, their gear was poorly maintained... did no other pony bother to maintain their equipment? I slip my hoof into my cloak, feeling the familiar knife grip that fits over my hoof. The wicked blade sticks out at an angle, so as to be used as a weapon without impairing my run. Now I’m ready. Gesturing to my companions, I slip in towards the first raider.

The stallion isn’t looking for me, isn’t looking at me. Lunging forwards, I bury my blade into the side of his neck with a vicious swipe, eliciting a gasp of pain and a wheezing death cry. A savage twist before ripping the blade out ensures that he won’t make the mistake of not paying closer attention again. Now the game is ahoof. The other three turn to face me, guns coming up despite their surprise. Grasping another knife handle from under my cloak with my mouth, I whip my head around, hurling the blade at another raider. She screams as the blade bites into her shoulder, though her glowing gun tells me that I’m about to pay for that little trick.

The shotgun roars as it blasts into my side, throwing me to the side. My armored dress absorbs most of the shot, but it still hurts, the pellets stinging badly from the thunderous impact. Staggered, I lose track of her as the other barrel of her shotgun unloads into me again, bringing me to the ground. “That hurts, you bloody raider scum...” I hear the exchange of gunfire as my companions engage the other raiders. Looking up, I see that she’s telekinetically shoving shells into her gun again. Barreling onto her, I shove her shotgun to the side as it discharges, thankfully avoiding another blast. She brings her hooves up to hit me, and while I do not enjoy hoof-to-hoof fighting, I’ve seen it many times before, and by fighters far more skilled than her. Slipping under her jab, I ram my blade up and under her leg, feeling the thunk as the blade glances off a rib. She falls to the ground screaming in pain, her magic forgotten for now.

Taking a glance, I see that my companions had taken care of the others, though based on the injuries, it seems they were removed by a shotgun and not a pistol. Zone Control was apparently the better shot. The raider at my hooves whimpers pathetically, trying to clutch the weeping wound in her chest. Nodding slightly, I raise my hoof to deliver the final blow. She was a raider, and severely wounded. “Wait! Nevermore!” Zone Control interrupts me, and I know what she’s about to say... they always say that... “She stopped, Nevermore, you don’t have to kill her!”

I keep my gaze on the raider, even as I address Zone Control. Taking my eyes off the raider is not something I was inclined to do, even one bleeding from a hole in her chest. “No... I do not have to.” I look down at the raider, my gaze cold and merciless. “But neither did she, when she chose this life.” My mind was awash with memories. Friends and comrades fallen to the raiders, or succumbing to their madness, forcing me to put them down with my own hooves.

“Please... I have a foal, and...” She starts blubbering at me, my hoof still held up for a killing blow. True? Possible. Though how many begged her for the same mercy she asks from me now?

I prepare to end it, a single blow to the throat and this is over. She deserves nothing from me. I’ve ended plenty of ponies in my time, young, old... “Nevermore... if you do that, you are just like they are.” That voice was... no... it couldn’t be. “Fine... you live for now, raider. Do better. If I ever hear of you attacking another pony, you will wish I ended your life here.” I slip my knife back into my cloak after wiping the blood off on the raider’s coat. Her eyes are wide as I leave a swath of blood on her. Her blood, and those of her companion. Reaching into my bag, I pull out a weak healing potion. It would be enough to at least save her life for now. After she drank it and her wound started to seal up, I pull her up to her hooves, looking her straight in the eyes. “Now leave my sight, before I change my mind.” I ignore her as she scrambles off, shedding her poorly maintained barding as she fled. She did remember her shotgun though.

Zone Control looks confused that I let her keep a weapon, but sending a pony unarmed into the Wasteland was the same as killing them myself, just making their death more prolonged and painful. Same for sending them out badly wounded. If I was going to spare a pony, I was not going to only do a halfway job on it.

The two are still watching her flee as I get to work on the locked boxes, slipping a bobby pin into their locks to pop them open. “Damn, that was some fine flank though...” Great, Frisky Fritter was looking at the raider like that. If he tried anything like that with me, so help me I would knife him. Well, maybe. Fine, probably not. But I would be definitely disgruntled and wishing I could knife him.

With a slight twist of my bobby pin, I manage to open the locks, though they weren’t of very good quality. My efforts reward me with a small pile of caps, various shells, and miscellaneous bullets. A magazine or two as well... Bash ‘n Stab Catalogue... that should be an interesting read... A few bottles of dirty water and some old canned food complete my spoils. I leave the jerky where it was. There was no way that I would eat meat. Not back then, and definitely not now, given my condition. Slipping the items into my saddlebags, I turn my attention to the other raiders.

Fritter seems to be alright looting the bodies, though... he seems to be spending a lot of time looting that mare. With a sigh, I turn to the raider I knifed earlier, even as Zone tries to go through another raider’s stuff while keeping herself as far away from the body as she can. Somehow, her delicate sensibilities bring a smile to my otherwise grim demeanor. Our efforts of looting net us a few grenades, caps, and enough parts to make half a working pistol. The barding they have is worse than what we’re wearing, smells terrible, and might get us mistaken as raiders.

Zone Control is still fussing over the body, so I snap at her. “Get used to it. This is the Wasteland, not some pampered Stable.” I snort derisively, wiping the blood on my hooves off with the help of the raider’s barding. Not that you can ever remove the blood from your hooves, Nevermore. How many died because of you? I mentally tell myself to shut up, turning to my companions. “Once you are done there is a place nearby that I will show you. We can rest there for the night.” They mutter to each other, but I do not care what they are probably saying about me. Actually, perhaps I do care, just a little. It had been so long since I had any company.

Plodding along in silence, we enter the decaying city, falling apart at its seams. The stench of rot and decay hangs over it like a cloud, or maybe I just imagine it. Regardless, it was where I called home. Detrot. A city of the dead, ripped into territories by ferocious warlords. They’re more trouble than they’re worth, and I do my best to stay out of their way. No reason to antagonize a hornet’s nest. Only a hero or a fool would do that, and most often those end up being the same. We stand in front of a tall building, most of the lower floors blown away, what’s left remains as a death trap for any foolish enough to enter the maze of metal, stone, and jagged edges. Oh, and the mines as well. A dilapidated sign hangs off the front, proclaiming that this building used to be called the “Stableton”. I still don’t know who came up with that name, nor do I care. Looking at Frisky Fritter, I growl at him slightly. “Wait here.” Grabbing Zone Control, she gives a frightened squeak as I take off into the air, bypassing the ruins below us. Dropping her off in an open room high up on the building, I return for Fritter, even as he’s still yelling at me.

“Where are ya taking her, ya damn dirty harpy?!” He continues a stream of venom, directed at me, my lineage, and my nature.

“Be quiet...” I grab him as well and pull him up as well, depositing him next to a shivering Zone Control. Right... Stable ponies. Probably not used to being twenty stories in the air. I give them what I hope is a reassuring smile, but based on the fact that Zone looks like she’s about to throw up, and Fritter is still muttering angrily, I doubt it worked. “Welcome to ‘The Loft’.” It was a nickname I’d stuck to the place myself, and the name was still written on the wall in my flowing script. They follow me, probably more to get away from the edge than any desire to be near me right now.

Our hooves disturb the dust on the ground, it had been a while since I had been here last. With a grin, I push the doors open for my... home. A sad mattress on the floor, a couple bottles that I hadn’t bothered throwing off the edge, but more importantly... the room was surrounded by bookshelves that I had either built or salvaged over the years. Each one had books in them, books of different shapes, sizes, colors, but the books were all the same. Or at least substantially so. Upon each of their spines was written in my script, “The Journal of Nevermore”. They all had their volume number on them, and many repeated, but this was how I kept my memories in order, how I tried to maintain myself without losing my mind. Endless copies of my memories, written and rewritten to keep me sane. Until the sword drops, and you betray everypony around you again, Traitor... Shaking the morbid thought, I return my journal to its place on the shelf, then pull one of my remaining blank journals out and place it in my bags. If I was to go adventuring again, I would need a fresh journal.

Frisky Fritter seems more interested in my bed than anything else, though Zone Control is looking at my journals. “How... old are you, Nevermore?” She seems to be in awe at all of journals. I am personally proud of my collection.

“I was there when the megaspells destroyed Equestria, Zone Control... I died when the bombs fell upon Canterlot.” They’re too new, too fresh. They do not know the horrors of that place now, and I hoped that they never would. “Yet, as you can see, I did not have the fortune of staying dead.”

Fritter snorts. “Bah, how could ya have been there, that was-”

“Over a hundred years ago. I know.” I sigh slightly, looking at all of my stored memories. “Years of pain, death, and suffering.” Shaking my head, I pull out a book, looking at the worn and tattered cover. “So much death...” I can feel myself drowning in bones, drowning in the memories of the fallen. As I looked at my new companions, I already added them to the growing pile of the dead that haunted me. It was inevitable that they would join their ranks. Hello again... Zone Control. Hello again... Frisky Fritter.

~~~~~~~~~~

Welcome to Level 2!

New Trait: Veteran of the Long War - You’ve fought Zebras and their nasty Hoof-to-Hoof styles before. Others just don’t seem to give you that much problem any more. Your DT is raised by 2 against unarmed attacks, and your attackers are 50% less likely to score a critical hit on you.

New Perk: Black Widow - You know how to get close to a stallion with a smile, then how to make them pay for letting you close. You deal 10% more damage to those of the opposite sex, along with having some unique dialogue opportunities.

Skill Points: You’re quite the smart one, aren’t you? Here’s a pile of skill points for you to use.

Author's Note:

Much thanks to Tinker at http://www.fimfiction.net/story/86057/fallout-equestria-second-wind for both a great story, and helping me with mine. Keep ponying on!

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