• 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 3: Fallen Stars

Chapter 3: Fallen Stars

See that one there? Make a wish. Count to three.

What does it mean to be a pegasus? That is not something easily told. We have wings, obviously, we fly, maintain the weather, and do many other things. But we are more than that. All of that is merely integral to what we are, to what we do. The most important part of a pegasus is our mindset. We are traditionally a loyal flock. We follow our friends, our family, our leaders, to the Gates of Tartarus and back if required, but we are also leaders, commanders, heroes. Unicorns have their magic, earth ponies have their strength, but we are fast and quick, both of body and mind. Of course, I am speaking in generalities, as there are as many types of us as there are cupcakes. Of course... she was the best of us. The one that we all admired... worshiped. I do not know what happened to her when the world ended. I do not know why they closed the clouds. All I know is this. I miss the sky.
~From the Journal of Nevermore

I watch my charges as they sleep, their peaceful demeanor at odds with this blasted room. The years had not been kind to it, run down, dilapidated, a shadow of its former pre-war glory. Scratching with my pen, I continue to write, my flowing script covering the pages with my thoughts on the day, and other topics that interest me at the time. Questions I ask myself, questions other ask me... and of course, ‘that’. Regardless of the environment, we are relatively safe here, for there are no pegasi that I am aware of, and I have nothing of value for other flying raiders to want. For all I know, I am the last of my kind on the surface. That is a lonely thought. I have heard of the Enclave in my travels, but have never met them, though I suppose it is a cold comfort that there are others who can show the ideals of the pegasi better than a rotting corpse. Ones who have survived everything this cruel world had to throw at them. I do not blame them for their actions, for withdrawing from the war. The loss of Cloudsdale was hard, very hard. Though I suppose I was unlucky, visiting Canterlot’s War Memorial, else I would have died in Cloudsdale like so many others, my bones scattered across the Wasteland with my sins. Instead I died in Canterlot, and continue this cursed existence.

My eyes are drawn to the far corner of the small room. There’s a spot on the wall devoid of bookcases, devoted instead to a poster of each Ministry Mare that I had saved from the city. I had actually met them... well, from a distance, and I doubt any of them would have known me, but it was a link to my past that I didn’t want to give up. Collecting them all had been a chore, as I desired ones not marred by graffiti or other things, but the prized one was still that of Rainbow Dash, her cocky face and demeanor telling us to ‘Be Awesome’. Sighing, I return to my journal, filling its pages with my words, thoughts morbidly remembering the old times. The better times.

Like all good things, my quiet time to write, free from fear of raiders, slavers and other ponies, comes to an end. Normally, its because of the constraints of time or necessity. This time, it is gunfire and explosions. A common occurrence in this town, surrounded as it is with trouble and death, it’s not enough to get my attention until I realize... the fighting is in the air. A group of figures are fighting several Griffons, the agile combatants striking with gleaming beams of energy. Valiant, heroic, but like all else, ultimately doomed. There were simply too many griffons for so few to fight. The armored warriors realize this too, as they take for the sky, though one dives for the city to draw the rest of the griffons off, paired weapons blazing death at their pursuers. Their plan works, but also dooms them in the process. The low flying one is bathed in explosions and shells as I watch from the window, falling towards the ground, trailing smoke. I scream at my companions, waking them from their slumber as I rush out of my home. “Stay here!” In my panic, I fail to remember that they have to stay here, as there’s no way down other than flying, and they can’t fly. Well, there is one way down without flying, but gravity is not kind.

I take to the sky as soon as I clear the room, heading to where the armored figure fell. My heart beats in my chest. Powerful emotions breaking through my apathy, my self loathing. I recognized their forms despite the armor. Pegasi. I have not wanted something... needed something... as badly as I needed to save that pegasus right now. The raiders were familiar to me. Whirlybirds. Fearsome combatants with enough skill and weaponry to turn me into paste. Fighting them was suicide for me. Capture would be even an even worse fate. I avoided them. I hid from them. I didn’t let them know I was around. I dove on their target with all the power I could muster.

The armored pegasus is lying still in the street, and I see several rents in their armor, though the steady rhythm of their chest tells me that they’re at least alive. There was no way that I could fight off the Whirlybirds, especially by myself. With strength born of desperation, I grab their armored tail and start hoofing them to a nearby store, the long barrels of their magical energy weapons dragging on the floor. While I’m not particularly strong, I manage to eke them into the shop, straining heavily... a bookstore. Looking about for a hiding spot, I don’t see anything that could hold both of us, at least not with the time I have available to me. Shoving the pegasus under the shop counter, I flop to the floor and play dead. Fortunately, as a result of my condition, I will myself to stop breathing, to stop moving, and I am able to do so. Advantage of being a moving corpse is that it’s much easier to act like a corpse.

Watching with unblinking eyes, I see several Whirlybirds land in the street, looking for their quarry. “That bitch hit hard, there’s no way she’d go far. Spread out and look for her, and when you, rape that sky stealing bitch with your talon.”

“Boss? What if it’s a male pony?” One of the griffons seems to be a bit slower than the rest of them, tilting his head at the rather impressive one that he called ‘Boss’. I take careful note of their weaponry, a mix of shotguns and pistols, easily used for aerial combat. The ‘boss’ has a pair of heavily modified assault rifles. I do not want to be anywhere near when those go off.

“Then use your talons and rip his wings off, you stupid piece of trash, now get to looking!” His group starts to spread out, searching the street. Fortunately, there’s a lot of city to explore, and only so much time before... “Alright, you two stay here and keep looking. The rest of you? With me. We’ll teach those flying pieces of shit who’s sky this is.” With hoots and screams, they take off after the fleeing pegasi. I hope they’ll make it.

The griffon makes his way through the street, looking about. I frantically try to come up with a way to get us out of this, but come up blank. I can’t outfight him, I can’t outrun him. Most likely, I only bought us a few minutes of life. The griffon makes his way to my bookstore, starting to look around. He notices me on the floor and walks over. Bracing myself mentally, I wait for the inevitable as he looms over my prone form. “Huh... the one we shot was armored... I don’t think you’re the one... and you look dead anyways... guess I should make sure though...” He puts a talon on my outstretched leg, and starts to push. Hard. Slow-witted he may be, but he is still powerful, and my foreleg starts to creak, then something pops painfully. The pain is immense. Though I’m dead, I can still feel, though it is thankfully somewhat deadened. I twitch as the agony races through me, forcing myself as still as I can with sheer will. I am going to kill him, and I am going to make it hurt. A lot.

He apparently didn’t see my agony, or figured the reaction is something that even a corpse would do with a dislocated limb. Rooting around the store, he leaves another corpse behind, one of many, as other bodies still litter the streets. He starts heading towards the counter, which forces my hoof. Slipping my uninjured hoof into my cloak, I slip my blade on. If I was quick enough, and lucky enough, maybe I could take him down then get us out. Moving silently, I take up to the air, not wanting to try this on only three hooves. Either he heard me, felt me, or some sixth sense warned him, but he turned right as I lunged, my blade scraping off his beak and flinging off to the side. With a cry of anger, he shoves me back into a bookcase by the throat. I feel his talons digging into my neck, even as his claw starts to squeeze. “Stupid pony...” I pull at his claw, I kick, I struggle, but to no avail. The griffon is simply too strong. This was it. He was about to take my head, my journey was to end in this bookstore. I had failed. My vision starts to waver, a dull grinding noise coming from my neck as he starts to crush it with his claw. I’m sorry... Captain... my journey ends...

There’s a flash of brilliant light, a wave of heat, and then I’m hit with a faceful of ash. The pegasus drops to her knees, the barrels of her magical energy lances smoking. “Gotcha...” She looks at me, her voice feminine. In turn, I nervously avoid looking directly at her, staring off to the side. Truth was, I did not like what I was, and the idea that another pegasus would see me like this was... painful. Her weapons fire again, a pair of brilliant beams arcing over me, the griffon behind me blowing away into the wind like his companion. “Don’t stand there gawking, we need to move!” She limps out from behind the counter, the rents in her armor starting to repair slowly. That was some fancy technology.

I nod to her, not entirely sure how to respond. “I um... have a place nearby... let us go there... it should be safe...” By Luna’s frigid moon, I sound like an awkward filly. But the searing pain in my leg had me not want to stick around for too long. While it probably wouldn’t kill me, gak it hurt something fierce.

We slip back towards ‘my’ tower, and I spot Zone Control and Frisky Fritter waiting for us in the open hallway. Of course they were still there, since they couldn’t get down, though Fritter looked pretty cross at me for leaving them. “What woulda happened if ya didn’t come back! Ya would’ve left us up here ta die, ya blasted zombie! I have half a mind to... oh...” They both notice the pegasus that had landed with me, her armored tail twitching back and forth menacingly at the same time they notice that I’m hobbling with a wounded leg.

“Friends of yours, I presume?” The pegasus sniffs slightly, as in disgust even as her energy weapons train on them. “I suppose they are better than those... griffons, however.”

Fritter’s ears perk up as soon as he hears her voice, modulated though it was. “Why hello thar, I’m Frisky Fritter, and I’m gonna be yur new best friend, missy...” This stallion... was hitting on a mare that he only just met and never seen... just by her voice? He’s going to die from that some day. The wrong mare at the wrong time...

Zone Control’s eyes go wide, and Fritter doesn’t see the hoof until it hits him in the back of the head. “Fritter! What do you think you’re doing! I can’t believe you! I know you’re... you, but this is... unbelieveable!” Zone comes over and awkwardly tries to wrap my leg with a bandage as I sit down to avoid having to stand on three legs. It’s like she learned the basics years ago, but never actually knew what she was doing with it.

“What do ya mean Zone? Ah’m just tryin’ ta be friendly...” His grin is... disconcerting at best. The pegasus mare seems to stare at him for a few seconds, her armored tail twitching back and forth menacingly.

“Do not take this wrong, dirt pounder... but there is no way under the sky that I would ever consider copulating with one such as yourself, so do us both a favor and never attempt to be friendly with me.” She snorts again. Shutting him down and using big words? I like her already.

I look at her, nodding slightly. “I am surprised that you have not tried to shoot me yet... most ponies down here would, just based on what I am, and I presume you have not seen one like myself in the clouds.” Zone finishes working on my leg... I think, it’s hard to tell if she did anything other than wrap it.

The pegasus mare shrugs. “While your appearance is disconcerting, you are a pegasus, and you saved my life. Regardless of what happened to you, that is enough for me.” Her helmeted head turns to face me. “Unless you are a Dashite, that is...” Her voice leaves no illusion that I don’t want to be a Dashite... whatever that was. She eyes my long dress for some reason, as if trying to see past it.

“No... I am not a... ‘Dashite’.” I cough slightly, though the term ‘Dashite’ seems like it may be related to Rainbow Dash... but why would it be a negative term then? Regardless, I don’t want to find out if I’m right or not. “I am Nevermore, and these are my companions, Zone Control and Frisky Fritter.” Nodding politely, I gesture to the rest of my place. “And this is my home, ‘The Loft’. I must confess, I had almost given up on seeing another pegasus. It had been so long.”

She reaches up to pull off her helmet, revealing a smiling, pleasant face with a white coat and dark green mane. “Lieutenant Star Racer of the Enclave’s Forward Ground Recon Force. I have to thank you for rescuing me there.” She shudders slightly. “I would hate to see what they would have done if you had not.” Offering me an armored hoof she shakes it, though her gaze... is she looking at Zone Control? Is it because she’s a unicorn, or... blinking slightly, I turn away as I realize she’s checking out her flank appreciatively. Is everypony crazy?!

With a slight huff, I turn away from them. “The Whirlybirds have not found this place yet, because I doubt they have looked. Thus, there is no reason for them to suspect we are here. That said, I do not want them to figure out that we are here, so we should lie low for a bit.” I look at Star. “Especially since they know you are a pegasus, they will probably check the skies.”

She looks at me oddly, tilting her head to the side. “Your accent is strange... where are you from, Miss Nevermore? I have never heard a pony that speaks quite like you.”

Snorting, I catch Fritter trying to woo the pegasus with his eyes... or maybe he had gas. It was hard to tell sometimes, with his ugly mug. “Trottingham... a long time ago. Most do not know, nor do they care particularly about where a pony was before...” I chuckle slightly, a dry rasping sound. “Though I suppose it is curiosity on your part... I have my own question though... perhaps you can tell me... is the sky still... I mean why...” My head falls down as my wings flutter slightly. Losing the sky was one of the hardest things for me... while I could still fly, I couldn’t see the stars, the sun, the moon. I could catch glimpses through a break in the clouds, but it was not the same... and it probably would never be the same.

Star Racer looks down. “It is... complicated, and I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to tell you any more than that...” She shuffles her hoof uncomfortably, but I wasn’t going to press the issue. I understood secrecy, and hiding things from those around me.

A clinking sound brings me back to the present, away from saddening daydreams of the open sky, as Zone Control is hovering over a broken Maneframe tinkering with it. “That is broken, Zone. Or at least it has not worked since I took up residence here.” Of course, I could barely work one of those before decades of decay took their toll on it, so my opinion on the matter wasn't very helpful. Technology and I did not get along well, even before the world ended. As we’ve established already, the world hates me. As such, as soon I finish speaking, the blasted thing crackled to life.

“Ah, Miss Nevermore. I’ve been trying to get ahold of you for a whi-... Oh, my apologies, ma’am... can you put Nevermore on?” A stallion’s voice calls out from the Maneframe. His voice crackles a bit, but is clear enough, considering I didn’t think the blasted thing worked anyways.

“Who the hay are you, and why are you trying to get ahold of me?” My voice is a bit sharper than normal, though I feel that can be excused due to a damaged leg and my general depression brought about by remembering better days. I need to get a healing potion, or some Med-X, as it’s hurting pretty bad. Thankfully, I was still able to fly here. Definitely advantages to having wings, though the strength of an earth pony or the magic of a unicorn would also come in handy sometimes. That said, I wouldn’t give up my wings for anything.

“Miss Nevermore, caustic as always, I see.” He coughs slightly, or it sounds like he does at least. “I’ll dispense the pleasantries, as I know how much you despise them. You may have heard of me, I’m Head Case, and I have a job for you, if you-”

“Not interested.” I cut him off rudely. Many ponies hadn’t heard of me, which is fine by me. The ones that had, those are the ones that worried me. I had tried to sever my past as cleanly as I could, too many bodies there, too much suffering, but somehow ponies always managed to drag it back up. Managed to remind me of what I’ve done before.

“Now, no need to be like that Miss Nevermore, I’m offering plenty of caps-”

“I am a ghoul, ‘Head Case’. Take your caps and shove them-”

“-you’ll be doing all of Equestria a favor-”

“-what do I care for all these others, who-”

“You may be able to save your Captain.” That final statement left me speechless, numb.

“My Captain... what do... how did...” My mind is racing. Save my Captain? Perhaps this was my act of atonement, if I did this, maybe I could finally rest, and... before the thought fully formed, my mind ruthlessly clamped down on it. “He is dead, and there is nothing you can do about that. I watched him die after I killed him. If you know about me, you should know that already, Head Case.” The others are staring at me by this point, but I don’t care. Why should I care if they know my deepest shame? It’s not like it could become any worse. Taking a deep breath, I prepare to launch into another tirade, when he cuts me off again.

“Nevermore, mare up. I know you’ve suffered a lot of neurological distress over the years, but this is most unbecoming of one such as yourself. I strongly suggest you seek some sort of assistance, so that you don’t fall apart instantly as soon as anypony mentions him at all!” I can hear the sadness in his voice, and that snaps me back. Anger? Rage? I can handle those. What I will not accept is pity. “If you need counseling, I can try to help you, but you have to try to help yourself first!”

“Very well, Head Case. Let me hear this... job. Though I have a few conditions. First, even if I fail, you provide at least some of the payment to my companions. They are fresh out of the stable, and will need some caps. Second, only I am agreeing to this. I will not have these others accompany me if it is too dangerous. Finally, if what you say about him is false, if you use me... I will hunt you down, and you will not like the results.” My voice drips with venom at the end. The only thing that gets me more irate than slavers is rapists, and insulting the memory of my Captain is a close second.

“Very well, Miss Nevermore. I accept your terms. The mission is to take place near Tomb Town... there are a few other things that you need to know, but this line isn’t secure. I’ll find a way to contact you again, now that I know I have your help. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed, Nevermore. I’ll be keeping in touch, now that I know for certain that you are still operational.” A dull click sounds from the line as I’m stunned speechless from what he just said.

I start to snarl a response when I recover. Tomb Town? Nopony went there if they could avoid it. That place was a death trap at best. At worst? Well, it would make dying seem a pleasant alternative. Zone interrupts me, however, as she noticed something I didn’t. “Um... Nevermore? He cut the line... he can’t hear you.” That mare had interrupted the middle of a very good tirade... pity that. She looks at me, then at Fritter, then back at me. “Did you... mean that, Nevermore? What you said?”

My mind starts racing. Gak... did I insult them again or something? I usually don’t care if I do or not, but this time I didn’t want to have to deal with their whining and hurt feelings. “Mean what?” I grumble at her, not sure where this is going, but deciding this was the best way to get it out of the way.

“That... you don’t want us to go with you if its too dangerous?” Does this mare want to come with me on a probably suicidal mission? Then again, if it meant getting away from Fritter, I’d consider it too.

“Yes... you would probably die if you came with me to Tomb Town, and that would defeat the purpose of securing the caps for you.” The look in her eye told me that this was going to be a fight, one that I didn’t want to deal with right now. I look at the others. “Even if you want to come with me, Zone, what about Fritter? Star? What about them? Surely you would not want to have them come to a death trap as well.”

Fritter looks at me. “Ey, Ah’m gonna stick with Zone here, even if she goes with a deader like ya... gotta protect her, right?” He puffs up slightly... surely the pegasus would have more sense than these two...

She shakes her head at me. “You saved my life, Miss Nevermore. That means I owe you now. I will not turn and run on an ally, just because it get dangerous. So I shall remain with you, Miss Nevermore, until I repay my debt.” She shrugs, the plates of her armor clinking slightly. “Besides, you could use my firepower.” Blast. I knew all about debts and the stubborness of pegasi. Convincing her to leave would be as easy as convincing me to stop seeking atonement. That is to say, it’s not likely to happen.

“Very well... you are all foalish and crazy but...” I want to thank them for providing companionship, for accepting me despite who I am, for spitting at the danger in the name of friendship and camraderie. “... perhaps you will not all die immediately and be useful for once.” I can’t say what I want to... I can’t leave myself vulnerable to others again. Perhaps I just haven’t talked to others in so long, but I find it hard to be honest with them. I find it hard to be honest with myself. How long, Nevermore, until you betray these ponies? How long until their bones litter your past? I look out the window as the dawn breaks over the broken city.

Why comes the hope, at the break of day?

Why comes the hope, never here to stay?

We shall fall, in dark despair.

We shall fall, not knowing where.

Though we fight, and struggle true,

Know we die soon, this we do.

Struggle on, fight and claw,

Hope for now, then we fall.

My words hang in the air as the others look at me in surprise, as my rasping voice etches out my dark verse in a sing song tone. “What... what is the problem now?” Between the pain in my leg and the conversation with Head Case, I’m feeling irritated, snapping at them when I’d usually ignore it.

Zone Control responds to me slowly and cautiously. “I... didn’t know that you did poetry Nevermore... though that was a bit... dark...”

I shrug and lay down, closing my eyes to rest. “There are many things you do not know about me. Many things you should hope to never find out. Regardless, we should rest while we have the chance. Fritter, you take the first watch.” I ignore his protests as I settle in, thinking about myself, though I am loathe to do so. My Cutie Mark stays hidden under my dress, the raven against a full moon, telling me what my special something is, my destiny, my purpose in life. Foals whine and complain about wanting their cutie mark, they desperately want something to show them what they should be in their life. Sometimes, like me, they get one, and its not a very good one. I suppose it could have been worse, but optimism and the ‘bright side’ of things isn’t how I look at the world. There was a time, once, when I wasn’t like this, but that was a long time ago, beyond most memory. Even my own memory of it is faded. But I never forget to write. Of course I compose depressing poetry. After all, depressing poetry is my special talent.

~~~~~~~~~~

Welcome to level 3!

New Companion: Star Racer
This armored pegasus is as strong and a subtle as a tank. However, she is well versed in aerial tactics, and has a working EFS. While hard nosed and stubborn as a mule, she’s also fiercely loyal and proud. While she’s in the party, your other companions gain a bonus to their DT due to her knowledge. You follow your own way though, so gain no benefit from her advice.

But who is this Head Case, how does he know about you, and what does he know of the Captain?

Author's Note:

Oh dear, a new companion, and now a quest! Kinda. Thanks again to everyone who helps make this possible. Thus begins the main (mane?) story hook... though they can't just rush off into Tomb Town now, can they?

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