• Published 24th Mar 2013
  • 3,286 Views, 117 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.

  • ...

Chapter 5: Green is Unfortunately Your Color

Chapter 5: Green is Unfortunately Your Color

Illusions are no replacement for reality.

The goddesses? Well, it’s hard to pretend that they didn’t exist, since they walked amongst us. Some questioned their divinity though, figuring they were merely ponies. Powerful ponies, granted, but still just like any other pony. They were fools. There was a certain aura about them, a divine majesty. I have seen many powerful creatures in my life. I have helped kill several of them. Power alone does not create divinity. No, there is more to them, a certain way that they just are. They are divine, just as an apple is a fruit. Take that away, and you strip them of nothing, they simply just... are not any more. The Princesses were this way. You could tell that they were divine just by their very presence, the way they filled a room with their demeanor. These new ones? These impostors? Monsters, yes. Powerful, yes. Goddesses? No. Just another danger in a dangerous world. Nothing more.
~ From the Journal of Nevermore

“Why do ya always wear that buckin’ ugly hat?” Fritter is complaining again. Hardly unexpected, as he’s done nothing but complain since we headed out early that morning. “Not that Ah mind, with that veil at least kinda hidin’ yer ugly mug and all.” Ugly? Coming from him, that didn’t have much sting to it at all. I continue on, flat out ignoring him and his complaints. “Though it seems like ya even sleep with that silly thin’ on... ya marry it or somethin’?”

Zone Control decides to step in, as it were, physically getting between us as we travel through the city, our hooves clipping off the road. We’re not far from my tower, forced to move carefully. We had killed a pair of Whirlybirds, then escaped their vengeance. They would be hunting for us. “What he means to ask, Miss Nevermore, is why do you always wear that hat? It looks... well, it looks somber.” She quickly tries to take the edge off, though I don’t know why she bothers. “Though it is an interesting hat.”

Sighing behind my mask, I’m glad I’m in front so they can’t see me roll my eyes. Every group always asked about the hat. It’s a nice hat, but its not exactly something that is good for everyday use. “I cannot remove it.” I keep trotting along, waiting for the inevitable.

“W-what? What do you mean you can’t remove it?” A babble of voices, both Fritter and Zone call out in confusion. Star Racer shoots them a harsh glance, then looks up at the sky, her magical weapons following her gaze. Her armor appears to be mostly functional, though there are still several rents that the armor hasn’t repaired. Her gaze darts warily from building to building, watching for an ambush, her E.F.S. scanning for threats nearby. Based on her calm demeanor, I figure its not showing red. I had nearly forgotten what it was like to travel with a pony that didn’t need me to foalsit them.

“Silence. We’re in enemy territory. Do not betray our position with your constant yammering.” Star Racer gets them in line, the authoritative mare quickly getting them to settle down, though Fritter keeps griping anyways. Her voice is modulated by her helmet, an electronic rasp that makes my ear twitch slightly.

I have to answer their question sooner or later, so... why not now I guess. “I cannot take the hat off. The Pink Cloud has the ability to fuse things together. The hat is now a part of me, and I cannot remove it, just as you cannot remove your brain.” I shoot a hard glare at Fritter. “At least, those of you that have one.” I can almost hear their minds churning over that information, so I head off their questions by continuing to talk. My throat feels dry already, causing my already raspy tone to be somehow worse. “As for the design, I was attending a memorial service that day.” I scoff, the bitter series of unfortunate events making the memory of that day even more painful. “A tribute to those who had fallen in the war... including...” My mouth clamps shut. Even now, I can’t talk about my Captain. My dear Captain. This of course causes them to ask more questions, but I won’t be roused to explain myself to them this time. The memories hurt too much, even after all this time.

Star Racer suddenly comes to a stop, holding a hoof up. “Quiet... something approaches... get into cover, now!” As the ponies scatter according to her directions, I look around desperately wishing that I had the advantage of magical assistance! It was so unfair that I had to look around to spot anything while Star Racer would know automatically what’s around, how many, and if they’re hostile. But, I’ve survived this long without it, and griping about spilled oats does nothing to help anyways. Tense moments stretch into seconds, into minutes. Star Racer had planned out an ambush, so obviously whatever was coming was showing red for her. I wonder if Star Racer’s E.F.S. had malfunctioned, falsely telling her something was nearby when suddenly a shadow crosses the ground. Looking up from my hiding place under a fallen sign, I see what appears to be a pair of griffons above us. The fearsome fliers don’t look like they’ve seen us, or at least they give no indication that they have, yet... my heart sinks as they start to land, even more so as more shadows are appearing, signaling yet more foes...

Eight griffons are now visible in the street, chattering to each other as they land in quick succession. I can only catch snippets of their conversation, but it appears that they’re discussing... us. Well, at least Star Racer, and the terrible things they plan to do once they catch her. Apparently, they still don’t know I’m around. We’re not here... just keep going, just keep going... I mentally will them to leave, which of course does nothing. Their clawed feet get closer to Zone’s hiding spot behind a sky chariot. The mare seems to be rather calm, considering the circumstances, and I can spot the faint glow of her horn as she starts to raise her shotgun up. Star Racer prepares to lean out from a broken store window, the wicked barrels of her magical energy weapons starting to gleam. I draw a knife, knowing that if it came to a fight, this would not be a good one for us. They’re well armed and fierce in combat, and they outnumber us. We have the advantage of surprise, but I doubt we’d win, even with luck. I glance over at Fritter under a pile of rubble, his pistol in his mouth, aimed at the griffons heading towards Zone’s hiding place. No... he wasn’t planning to...

“Over here ya ugly dirty harpies!” His pistol rings out as it throws a net of small caliber bullets out towards the surprised griffons. He was trying to draw them away from Zone. A noble idea, one I could almost admire, if it wasn’t so stupid. Star Racer curses fluently, she was supposed to start the ambush with her energy weapons, the powerful beams hopefully causing confusion. And on a practical note, she was the only one encased in hardy power armor, so getting shot would hurt a lot less for her. Fritter lives up to his reputation, majority of his shots missing, kicking up little clouds of dust where they hit the street and walls. One griffon is struck by a pair of brilliant beams, sending him crashing to the ground, smoking. Zone’s shotgun roars out, the weapon slamming buckshot into the closest griffon, crashing him into a wall. A good opening volley, but not nearly enough.

A veritable storm of bullets chase us back into hiding. Even Star Racer is forced back. Her armor is sturdy, but the griffons had proven that they could breach her protection through sheer quantity, finding weak points in her armor. A hiss of pain from the mare reinforces that fact. Zone Control is still the closest pony to them, her armored barding thankfully not put to the test yet, as she hadn’t been shot since leaving the Stable. While she appears to be calm, it’s clear that she’s hard pressed, unable to stick her head out lest it get shot off. Bullets are ricocheting off her cover, sparking and pinging. Something catches the corner of my eye, a griffon circling around her cover, opening up a clean shot on the mare. Before I can react or call out a warning, he’s wrapped in swirling green magic then tossed through the brick wall with bone crushing force.

Wait... Zone’s magic was blue, and the rest of us weren’t unicorns. That thought barely crosses my mind when I finally realize what I’m seeing. Dropping from the sky amidst the attacking griffons is a monstrously large pony, or it looks like a pony. She lands in the middle of them, her hooves kicking up a storm of dust from the impart. Her wings are held out regally, even as her horn glows with a brilliant green sheathe of magic. My brain kicks in again... wings... horn... by Celestia... an alicorn. The Unity alicorn’s barrier proves to be inviolate against the small arms, not even flickering as they ricochet off. Her horn glows brighter, and a brilliant lance of magical energy impales the closest griffon, burning a hole clean through him. I feel something I hadn’t felt for years... decades. I feel afraid. The remaining griffons start to flee, the alicorn too much for their small arms. She turns her head silently, staring directly at my hiding place, directly at me. Wordlessly, she turns and chases after the fleeing griffons, her business with them not yet done. We use the opportunity to make ourselves scarce, fleeing the scene as fast as we can.

We lose ourselves in the city, finding an abandoned warehouse to hide in closing the door behind us, light streaming in through the broken roof. The thoughts of that dark green creature chasing us filling our minds. Alicorns... perversions of ponykind. I had lost friends to them before, both through combat and despair. I don’t know what was worse, watching my companions get torn to shreds by the overwhelmingly powerful creatures, or watching them get carried away to join them. They preyed upon the despairing, offering them release from their suffering. Well, as long as you fit into their ideal, anyways. Suddenly, I realize why my companions seem to be so shaken, but not nearly as frightened as I am. They had never seen an alicorn before. The only ones they knew of were the stories passed down of the Alicorn sisters. She must seem like a goddess to them, in her terrifying power.

She was intimidating indeed, and I can see how some would mistake her for a goddess. But I knew the truth, I had seen both of the Princesses while they were yet living, and this... thing was but a cheap imitation of what they were. “They are not what you may think they are. They are not divinity. They are evil monsters, vile abominations.” I snap their attention back to myself. “They will say otherwise, but do not listen to them. They have nothing to do with the true goddesses.” The thought of Canterlot on that fateful day fills my mind. The Princesses were powerful indeed, but could anything survive that hell that was Canterlot? I don’t know, nor do I have any way of knowing. That was one place that I would not go back to willingly. That and... my thoughts drift back to home, to Trottingham.

Admittedly, I hadn’t been back there in a long time, even before I died. I never seemed to have the time before the war, and afterward, I could never bring myself to go back. I suppose that somewhere in my dark and scarred soul, I didn’t want to know what happened there. What happened to my home. It would live in my mind, a rich and vibrant place, untouched by the horrors of war.

A quick tap on the shoulder brings me back to reality, amidst the shattered ruins of civilization. “Nevermore, there are more enemies around. We should lay low again, lest they find us.” Star shivers a bit. “I’m no coward, but I don’t want to go back out there right now... especially with...” Her voice trails off, but I have no trouble imagining what she means. Her. The abomination.

“We shall stay here for now. Make the area secure, in case we are unlucky and they find us.” A broken warehouse in a ruined city. Not too likely that we’d be found, but it never hurts to be careful. We carefully check out the ruins, searching for good firing positions and defensive places. Star Racers is a gift from the Princesses for this, the mare easily pointing out the best places and how to fortify them to be even better. The work is tiring, but it’s welcome, a chance to do something without thinking too much.

More time passes, and we rest. Well, Star Racer and I do at least. Zone and Fritter seem to be nervous, pacing endlessly, fiddling with their weapons. “Settle down... you should conserve your energy while you can.” My voice rasps at them, causing them to look at me. “There is no reason to be wasting your effort for now... just settle down.” Zone nods, then sits down while Fritter ignores me, going around looking at different things. Zone tries to stay where she is, but apparently she’s just too antsy as well, eventually standing up and going over to where Fritter was. I look over, and see the mare is fiddling with something. Curious, and more than a little worried, I head over. That blasted mare is working on another Maneframe.

“Do you not know that you should not be fiddling with things you do not know about? It could be a trap, or explode, or-”

I’m cut off mid rant by another crackle of static. “Is that actual caring coming from you Miss Nevermore? I’m surprised.” The stallion’s voice bursts from the machine, but I have no problem recognizing it.

“Head Case. I would say it was a pleasure, but we both know that would be a falsehood.”

“Well, let’s get straight to business, Nevermore. This line is far more secure than the other one. I have sought you out for a single purpose, Nevermore, a sole purpose, one of utmost importance. As I am certain you are aware of, the Warlords are draining Detrot of ponies, resources, and hope. Pandora’s box has been opened, as it were. There is still hope, but that hope died with him, with Penance. We need to bring him back, to prepare him for what he needs to do. You will pave the way for him, Nevermore. You are the reason he died, so it is only fitting that you will be the reason that he lives again.”

I scoff at the Maneframe, my rasping voice giving a short bark of laughter. “Penance? You and your petty codenames. Your words are meaningless and empty... there is no hope here. As you said, hope died that day. Look around this place. It is a tomb, a grave. Any hope here is beaten then crushed.” My voice growls out. “Though I am still not sure how you would know my tale... not many these days do.”

He completely ignores my question, much to my growing irritation. “Hope only dies when good ponies stand by idly and wait. We cannot afford to dwell on matters any longer. The eclipse will arrive in a few short years, Nevermore. The warlords must die and he must be ready! You know I cannot promise your safety, your final death may very well be assured if you do this. In fact, it is almost guaranteed. This city, however, needs a hero. The wasteland demands sacrifices, Nevermore. Are you willing to do what needs to be done? Regardless of the cost?”

Turning my head away, I give a dry chuckle. “You forget, ‘Head Case’, that I am not a good pony.” I look at the Maneframe hard, my gaze cold and unforgiving. “I have paid for my sins since my death, what is a little more cost? I am not so easily dissuaded from my path, Head Case. You should know this about me already. I told you I would assist in this endeavor, and I do that which I promise.”

“If you fall, Nevermore, Equestria falls with you. You will be remembered for your actions.” He’s trying to show how important this is, he’s trying to honor me. All he's doing is getting me upset.

“I am no hero, I am no beacon of virtue. I am a traitor, a coward, a murderer. I betrayed the one that mattered to me the most, I left the ones that needed me in their pain. I killed them all through my actions and inactions. Neigh, it would be far better if I were forgotten, my body left to rot and decay, the final embrace of my final death.”

“You do have a flair for the dramatic.” He coughs slightly. “Tell me... were you so theatrical when you betrayed your Captain? When you betrayed all of Equestria?” His voice continues to rumble through the speaker. “This is the price of freedom, of hope. For others to be free, some must be shackled to destiny. That is our lot in life. The first thing I need you to do is collect your story. Remember it as vividly as possible. The more you remember, the better the chance of getting this to work. Then, take your time and head to the old Shadowbolt Memorial. There you will find the belongings that he’ll need. Hold those for him, and tell those that live there that he is coming, that they should expect their captain... do try to be careful though.”

I glare at the speaker, trying to murder the hidden stallion with my eyes alone. How dare he speak to me like this? Yet... sacrifices have to be made. The Equestria that I knew is gone. All that’s left is this terrible Wasteland. Perhaps we few poor lost souls can make a difference. And if we would not try, what right do we have to ask others to do so? “Very well. I understand. We will be heading to the memorial when we get the chance.” I remember the memorial, or at least where it was. It was quite the trek from the Loft, but with skill and some luck, we should be able to make it. Thankfully, the first part of his demand was easy. The weight of my journal in my saddlebag comforting.

“Very well, Nevermore. I shall contact you when you get there. Good luck.” With a click, he cuts the line again, leaving me to brood on my thoughts. I see Zone coming over to say something, but apparently the look on my face backs her off. Fritter, on the other hoof, either is oblivious to my mood, or he doesn’t care.

“He kept callin’ ya a traitor, and ya keep callin’ yerself one too... what did ya do?” He sounds slightly confrontational, but he usually does. I swear that stallion has the social grace of a moldy potato.

I ponder telling him to be quiet, I ponder ignoring him. My actual course of action surprises me probably as much as it surprises him. I answer him. “It was a long time ago... far before your parents were even a twinkle in the eyes of your grandparents... as you should know, there was a war in Equestria at the time... I will not bore you with the details, but it was both long and bitter. I am omitting some details, for I do not wish to go too far into this, but there was a stallion, one strong and noble. A fool, a hero, a martyr. The war was destroying him.” I will save you, Captain. Even from yourself. “I sought to free him from the conflict in any way possible. To save him, I betrayed him.” Nevermore! How could you! The memories of that day were burned into my mind. The dusty plateau, hard and beaten that no life lingered upon it. The sheer cliffs, jagged rocks awaiting a careless step. The wind lashing against us, the sky crying. Two comrades, facing across from each other. Anger, fear, remorse. “I should have died that day. I wish I died that day.” Our gazes lock on each other, that day forever haunting my memories.

And save yourself from all your torment? But you deserve no less, Nevermore. Villainess. Murderer. Traitor. Betrayer. This time, the voice in my head is not my own, and from the looks on my companions faces, they could hear it as well.

Star Racer looks around frantically, her armor whining slightly as she casts her gaze about. “I don’t see anyone. If they’re here, then they’re either blocking my E.F.S., or they’re not hostile...” I hear the grim tone in her voice. “Yet.”

Come now, Nevermore... we would not hurt you. We are disappointed... after all we have been through, you do not recognize us? That voice... that way of speaking... I grimace, grabbing a knife from my dress though I recognize the futility of the action.

“Stop these games, monster. Show yourself.” Am I being a bit rude to her? A bit angry? Possibly, but I have reason to despise these creatures.

Very well, Nevermore... very well. There she is, suddenly right in the middle of us. How I hated teleporters. The dark green alicorn towers over us, even over the tall Star Racer in her armor. Armor which is giving off warning ticks for radiation. Star Races slowly, carefully, backs away, while the others look at her, then slowly start backing away as well. I don’t notice the radiation, but I don’t particularly care. Actually, it can tend to make me feel a bit better at times. We have shown ourselves... do you still not recognize us?

I look her over, looking up at her. Honestly, one alicorn looks pretty much like every other except for the coloration. “No... I do not recognize you. You appear to be just like every other monster that I have faced. Every monster that has torn ponies away from others.” I hiss at her from behind my mask. “And you still look just like a monster to me.”

We are disappointed, Nevermore... for you are the one that made us so. My ear’s drop suddenly. No, it couldn’t be. You showed us the Wasteland... you showed us despair. The mare looms over me, her voice echoing in my head, a touch of anger in her voice. But we found solace. We found Unity. We found the goddess. I start to back away, my horrified expression thankfully hidden from my new comrades.

“We could not get to you... we would not have left you if we had any choice... I am... sorry...” My mind is racing with memories of a small, kind, medical mare. The pale rose unicorn who refused to fight, but did everything she could to help any pony she could. I remember watching her fall as the roof behind us collapsed while we fled. I recall her closest friend desperately holding his hoof out for her, refusing to keep running even though it was too late. I see him get torn to pieces by overwhelming magic as a trio of monsters descend from the sky. A sad end, for a pair of kind ponies.

Save your apologies... we do not need them. We have Unity now. We have not come for you. Her gaze turns and locks on to Zone Control. We come for another.

“No... you cannot have her. I will not let you take her!” I prepare to fling myself at her, a hopeless and futile gesture. A crushing force drives me to the ground, my bones creaking as the monster’s telekinesis pins me to the floor. “Just... leave her... alone...”

We will not be taking her at this time. She is not ready. We do not wish her voice to join ours at this time. She turns and looks down at be, the force increasing ever so slightly, nearly bringing my body to the breaking point. But we will be back, and she will be ours, once you break her, as you destroy everything good, Nevermore. The pressure suddenly disappears, and I can start breathing again, though I feel like I was run over by a radscorpion. Though you should prepare... you have company coming. Looking up, I don’t see anything, though her voice echoes through our minds one last time. We will be watching you. Watch you suffer. Watch you fail. A mocking laugh echoes through our heads, then silence.

I stagger to my feet, shaking my head, trying to recover from the physical and emotional trauma. One of my old companions, come back to haunt me from the grave. An odd experience for the dead. Coughing, my body screams in pain, even as Star Racer looks around nervously. “Get ready... we have multiple hostiles coming in. Get to your positions!” The rest of them scatter to where Star Racer told them to be while I stay in the middle. I don’t really feel like moving, my body protesting, and I already told the others to not worry about me in a fight. “They’re either above us or below... lots of them! This could get messy.” My companion lost, becoming a nightmare of the wastes... now she’s coming for another. Chaos erupts around me as decaying flesh breaks out of the sewers beneath the building, a pack of ghouls descending on the group.

Zone Control looks at me, then at the ghouls. Perhaps she’s wondering if they’re like me, if they can be talked to, reasoned with. Star Racer is under no such delusion, her magical energy beams lashing out, cutting a swathe through their ranks. This snaps Zone out of her confusion, her shotgun barking hot lead at her attackers. Several fall, but do not get back up. Thankfully, they are not like me at all. For starters, I am much better dressed. The pack rushes past me, towards the living ponies. What interest do they have in the dead? I’m a living corpse, just like them. They’re more interested in my companions. Zone screams as she’s bowled over, frantically trying to keep gnashing teeth away from her face. The scream snaps me out of my stupor. Enough time for recrimination later. My companions need my help now. The ghoul doesn’t get a mouthful of mare, but rather gets a dagger down his throat. A fine throw, if I do say so myself, as he falls to the ground, choking and writhing in pain. Leaping up into the air, I drop on another ghoul from behind, the knife on my forehoof biting deep into its neck. A vicious twist takes its head off dropping the body to the ground. Perhaps one day, I would be so lucky myself.

No time for thanks, no time for thought. Fritter’s pistol blazes out a stream of bullets, tearing into several ghouls. At this range, with these numbers, even he can hit them. Star Racer barrels into them like a tank, bowling them over with her armored body. Lashing out with hooves and barbed tail, she brings down several, crushing one beneath her hooves viciously. Apparently, she was no slouch in hoof-to-hoof combat and would rather save her ammunition for another threat, pummeling the feral ghouls that get too close to the rampaging mare. Zone fires several blasts, the shot blasting into the group, dropping several of them easily before she’s forced to reload. I’m in the middle of them, slashing, lashing out. I feel several of them hit me, bite me, slam into me. The pain is nothing. The fighting lets me forget. Lets me forget everything that has happened until now. My betrayal. My death. The loss of so many in my past. The gentle smile of a kind mare. The silent gaze of an affectionate ghoul for her. Panting heavily, I stand amidst a pile of bodies, dripping blood and gore, some of which my own. The blood clears from my eyes, the rush of battle fading. These poor lost souls were frail, half-starved things. Yet... most of us had cuts, bites, and other bruises. Star Racer seems fine, though that armor could probably hold off anything they could do to her. Would explain why she stopped firing and just started hitting them instead.

“Are you alright? Where will you go from here, Miss Nevermore? We can go back if you want... we don’t have to do this.” Zone trots over to me, one of her eyes blackening where she took a nasty hoof to the face. Yet she’s more concerned for me. I would hope that the Wasteland will not break her, but it will. Everypony ends up either a villain or a corpse.

“Onward. Ever onward.” I shake my head, flinging off some of the gore that covered me, ignoring the weeping wounds on my body. My armored dress had done its job, preventing some of the worst of it, but it wasn’t enough to stop everything. “Let us recover, bind our wounds. Use a healing potion if you need it.” I shoot a hard glare at my companion. “Only if you need it. We have a long road ahead, and we will need to conserve supplies as best we can. We will scavenge when we can, but there are no promises to what we may find.” We can’t stay here too long. We still have a long ways to go, and this firefight might have drawn attention. My soul is weary. I am not certain how much more of this I can take. My nightmares have returned, and this time, they’re present when I’m awake, haunting my steps. Staining my soul. Darkening my mind. How long must I continue until I can finally rest.

Binding wounds... if only there were a way to mend a soul.


Welcome to Level 4!

New Trait: Unlucky - You just can’t seem to catch a break! If its not one thing, it seems to be another. Of course, your entire existence right now seems to be a string of rather bad luck. No obvious effect for now... but watch out for ladders and black cats.

New Perk: Educated - You have one of those fancy diplomas hidden away somewhere! Every time you level, you gain an additional 2 skill points. Spend them wisely.

Well well, you just seem to draw all of the wrong attention there Nevermore. It seems you are getting more and more questions, and answers are in short supply. Hope that brain in your skull can keep up.