• 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.

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Chapter 4: Getting to Know You

Chapter 4: Getting to Know You

Hard to forget something not known.

How do you get to know a pony? I suppose the best way is to simply talk to them. All too often, ponies make it too complicated. They send signals, they dance about, they moan and fawn and do anything they can to get to know a pony without actually talking to them. I had a few ponies who tried to get to know me better, who tried to court me. Some said they loved me for my personality. Those ones I knew were lying, which made it a lot easier for me to throw them out. After all, I was the caustic Nevermore, the dark mare that hated everything good in the world. Of course, most ponies never understood this, never tried to talk to me. Of the companions I had, most rarely spoke to me. Fewer still I would consider a friend. There were some that I tolerated, but they were few and far in between. Getting to know a pony means you understand them, realize what they want, what they do. You bring them into your life, into your heart. Which means that when you lose them, a piece is ripped out. My heart cannot take any more losses. It is too painful still, even now. Time does not heal, it only accentuates the wounds, leaving them to fester and rot. And my heart has already been torn to ribbons.
~From the Journal of Nevermore

My dreams are unpleasant as always. But this time, there is a new element to them. Its something I’m not used to, something that I had nearly forgotten. Hope. Things seemed different. The bodies of the fallen mocked me from their macabre poses, their haunting voices tearing at my mind... but this time, others were with me. Zone Control, Star Racer... and even Frisky Fritter. I had companions again, friends perhaps... and they were helping to ward off the cries of the fallen. There was another presence behind me in my dream... one that I knew would be there but still could not face. My captain watched my back again, as he did so long ago... not judging me this time, but patiently waiting for my redemption. It was... nice, for a change.

Opening my eyes, night reigned now... apparently I had slept far longer than I intended. Star Racer is sleeping on the lone mattress, her armor carefully stacked up next to her. Zone Control was curled up with one of my magazines, dozing in the corner. The mare was apparently an avid reader. I would need to keep her away from my journals. It wasn’t that I desired to hide my past from her, but rather that my journals were a journey through my history, my past. It was very personal to me and very precious. I had kept a journal since I was a young filly, and I mostly kept it up even as I grew older. Memories of the war, of fighting, with me taking the time to carefully write in my precious journal flooded back to me. The journals weren’t just a record of a mare named Nevermore... they were also a eulogy. Fritter... Fritter was... cooking? He was frying something in my small kitchen, apparently scrounging enough stuff together to make something to eat.

Rousing myself, I gingerly step on my injured hoof. Pain shoots through the limb... but it’ll support my weight. It seems to be doing better, and I notice that somepony had rewrapped it with some magical bandages. Based on the level of competence, it was not Zone. The mare had a kind heart, but not the heart of a medic. Stepping into my kitchen, I see Fritter working with a pan of hot oil and... are those donuts? “Fritter... what are you doing to my kitchen...?” I’m trying to make conversation, but it sounds like the voice of death trying to steal his soul. Based on his reaction, that of dropping the pan and splashing oil up, he had a similar thought.

“By Luna, ya gave me a heart attack ya stinkin’ corpse! Don’t ya know not ta sneak up on somepony?” I diplomatically don’t point out that my best knife work comes from sneaking up on ponies. As I don’t think it’d help the situation now, I keep my peace. “And Ah’m makin’ some donuts fer us ta eat... dun know if ya eat nothin’, but Ah made enough fer all of us.” Indeed, there is a decent pile of fried donuts sitting on a chipped plate I had found a while back. They were crude and poorly formed, but based on the very poor materials he had to work with... I will admit I am surprised.

“Where did you find all the things?” I had a meagerly stocked kitchen, but I doubted he could have made all this with my poor supplies. Dried apple chips and other rations were what I usually subsisted on when I decided to eat.

He gestures to his saddlebags against the wall. “Ya didn’t have much ‘ere, so Ah had ta use some of tha’ stuff Ah brought or we ‘found’ earlier.” He seems quite proud of himself, and considering how hard it was to cook properly in the Wastelands, his pride was well justified. Partially fresh food was extremely rare, from what I’ve seen on my travels.

“There are probably ponies who would pay good caps for ‘fresh’ food, Fritter.” It was my attempt to make conversation... I hadn’t done so since... well, since the last group that I failed. “You seem more of a baker than a fighter, considering your accuracy with your gun.”

He does bristle at that one. Oops, I guess he’s sensitive about his aim. “Ey, Zone’s tha one with tha fancy trainin’ an’ stuff... Ah’m just tha one who cooks and... well...” He coughs slightly. “Let’s just say Ah like lookin’ at some of them marefolk...” Looking at me, he coughs awkwardly again. “Well, ‘least tha livin’ ones...”

Thanks Fritter. Way to make a mare feel special. “Oh. Well, at least you appear to cook fine. At least you have that going for you, if little else.” Ha. Take that, Fritter. “So you were a cook at your Stable?”

Sighing, he turns back to his confections, sprinkling some crumbled Sugar Bombs on them as topping. “Well... cook seems ta be a bit strong fer what I did... Ah loved makin’ mah donuts, but there were machines and stuff that would help with tha makin’ of tha food.” He shudders. “Tasteless things... they sure had nothin’ on a fresh donut.” He scratches behind an ear as he pushes a fresh donut towards me. He sighs and looks around the small, dingy kitched. "But believe me, deader, down there was some of tha best time of mah life... it was a lot safer down there... and didn't have all ya strange ones that ya got up here, like you." Ouch. "But here, try one of mah donuts... sure even a corpse like ya would like it."

I stare at him blankly for a second, but nod politely from behind my mask. “Thank you, Fritter, but I believe that I shall partake later.” While I can stop breathing, and therefore avoid gassing the stallion to death, I don’t really want to take the risk of forgetting. Breathe for your entire natural life, and it seems to become second nature. A ring of metal and cursing draws my attention, and from the blush on Fritter’s face, he had a very clear idea of what our other pegasus was referring to as she unleashed her vitriol.

Star Racer seems to be working on her armor, and based on the amount of cursing she’s not having much luck. “... with the left fetlock!” Though the armor had repaired itself somewhat, it wasn’t perfect due to the damage it had taken. The whining metallic screech as she tried to pry a panel off was accompanied by another stream of curses. “By Luna’s Moon-kissed Mane... work you piece of junk!” She doesn’t notice me approaching and jumps as I suddenly speak up, dropping her screwdriver that plinked off the side.

“No luck fixing it? What is wrong with it?” Her armor is a technological marvel, and its clean lines and intricate work showed clear skill in its design and manufacturer. Though such a thing would hinder me more than its worth, I can’t help but feel a twinge of envy. Not being pelted by small arms would be nice.

After she calms down slightly, she gives her armor a swift kick. “She took too much damage earlier, and the self-repair mechanism is not operational right now.” The armor creaks as it tilts over, crashing to the ground, eliciting another stream of verbal abuse directed at the malfunctioning armor. Star Racer looks over at me with a dejected scowl. “Something I can do for you Nevermore?”

I shrug slightly. “No, was just seeing how you all were doing...” Maybe she could hear something in my voice, or in my demeanor, but she gives me a knowing look.

“Well, I cannot really talk too much about it, but I guess I can talk a bit about myself. I’m Star Racer, Lieutenant of the Enclave’s Forward Ground Recon Force. My father was part of an Expeditionary force, but he never came back one day. I was just a little filly then and mom took it pretty hard.” She shakes her head slightly, the mare looking saddened. I feel for her, but any discussion about what the remaining pegasi were doing were of keen interest to me. “Of course, since she was a councilpony, she had to keep a brave face on. At home, however, was a different story. She was strong and proud, but the loss of her mate drove her to drink and wallow in misery. She shut herself away from me and my brother, eventually just... wasting away. By that point, however, I had already enlisted in the Enclave’s forces.” She kicks at the ground slightly. “I don’t really see my brother much, but I suppose he’ll think he’s the last one left now.” She gives a mirthless chuckle. “Since this is the torn and terrible Wasteland.” She looks me in the eye. “We are not going to survive this, are we Nevermore?”

She was more battle tested than the other two, she could gauge how dangerous things were down here. She could read my hesitation and my desire to go alone. “Well... maybe... actually, probably not. I will do my best to see you all safe, but... this is a dangerous place...”

Star Racer looks at me, nodding her head slightly. “Thank you, Nevermore for being honest. Don’t worry, you know that we pegasi are a tough bunch, and I won’t let those kids down while I still stand.” She chuckles. “But enough about me... you look like you have a story attached to you as well, one more interesting than endless drills and lonely homes.”

My voice rasps out, low and harsh as I look around the room at the journals filling the shelves. “It is a long story.” I cut her off as I see her about to protest. “I will tell you some of it some day, but... not today. Not right now.”

“I can respect that, Miss Nevermore, but I will also hold you to that.” She looks at me, no compromise in her eyes.

“Very well, Miss Star Racer... I will be certain to remember that.” I look at her armor as it gives off a pathetic whine. “I could fetch Zone Control for you... she appears to have a bit of a knack with technology.”

The mare grumbles as she’s reminded of her broken armor, spitting another stream of curses. “Well, I doubt she can break it any further.” She picks up her screwdriver with her mouth and starts working on it again, growling around the tool.

I didn’t ask where Zone Control was, though it wasn’t too hard to figure out. She had apparently woken up and wandered off, but with how torn up the building was, there was only a couple rooms she could be in without either growing wings or having an unfortunate encounter with gravity. I find the unicorn in one of the mostly empty rooms, an intricate series of lines drawn in the dust. Staying in the doorway, I just watch her for a bit as she doesn’t seem to realize that I’m there yet. She earns her name, that much is definitely true. She raises and lowers magical barriers in quick succession and in intricate patterns. I can see why she’s named Zone Control, as trying to cross an area she’s blocking would be a nightmare of shifting walls. The mare is sweating, the rapid-fire barriers obviously taking a toll on her, but she’s focused on her work, keeping her skills sharp. The last barrier dissipates into nothingness, and she addresses me without turning around. Obviously the mare was pretty aware of her surroundings.

“Can I help you, Nevermore?”

“That was pretty impressive, Zone. Where did you learn to do things like that?” It’s not flattery if it’s true, and the mare was definitely skilled when it came to her magic.

“Stable 22, boredom, and a lot of practice, Nevermore. Lots of practice.” She shakes her head, flinging small droplets of sweat off onto the floor. “I was part of security at the Stable, and while I’m decent at different magic, my talent lies with shield and barrier spells.” Pointing up to her horn, she gives me a small smile. “Can run a bit hot, but when I’m in the zone nothing can get past me.” I tactfully ignore her boast, as I’ve seen some creatures that would tear through her spell like paper, and I’ve met a few monsters who would definitely show her what a real barrier was. That dark green figure staring at her attackers, even as explosions and bullets washed over the shimmering field with no effect... Despite being dead, I shiver slightly at the memory.

“I talked to Fritter and he spoke rather fondly of the Stable. I’ve never really been to one before.” My mind flashes with thoughts of halls empty of all but danger and death. “Well, an operational one, at least.”

“It’s louder, and not as... well, big.” She sighs and looks at me. “You know, when I look up at the sky, I feel like I’m just going to... fall through into the emptiness, into the nothingness.” She shudders slightly. “It’s all so big out here... so different from the confines of the Stable.” The light on the ceiling flickers, and she looks at me. “I hated the constant thrum of the generators, the constant whine of the lights, the constant hoofsteps on the floor, but now... now it’s too quiet.”

I enjoy the silence, looking at the empty walls, but I can see how she would be used to it. “I suppose that is where you got your knack with technology, in the Stab-...” I facehoof, my hoof glancing off my mask. “Right, Star Racer needs help with her armor, and I was hoping that you would be able to help her.”

“Oh, sure Nevermore, I’ll go see what she needs.” The mare leaves the room, leaving me to my silence.

Nopony these days know me, save for myself and the ghosts of my past. My name is Nevermore... I am a pirate, a patriot, a hero and a villain. Friend and traitor, the blood on my hooves will never be washed off. The earlier thoughts of the day, the thought of redemption and friendship, die within me, withering into dust and crumbling away. I am leading these ponies to their death, I am leading them to their doom. I am Nevermore. I am a murderer.

~~~~~~~~~~

Come now, Nevermore. Surely you don’t expect any experience for this. And you? Friends? Be serious. You are alone, and you will die alone. Actually, I guess you already did. Well, good luck with that then. Well, I guess we’ll see how this goes for you then. Good luck!

Author's Note:

Sorry for the short one this time, but this is more of a filler episode. Thanks for reading!

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