Wandering Moon

by ed2481

First published

Luna and Nightmare Moon are transported to the Capital Wasteland during the final battle against her sister. Join them in their attempt to return home and reclaim her birthright with the help of a girl named Sarah, fresh out of Vault 101.

What if during the final battle against Celestia, Nightmare Moon was not sent to the moon, but instead to the Capital Wasteland?

Now stranded in a hostile and violent world quite unlike their own Luna and Nightmare Moon must work together to make their way home and reclaim the throne that is rightfully theirs.

However the alicorn and her nightmare aren't the only ones searching for something. Joining them on their quest is Sarah Summers. A young woman recently kicked out of Vault 101 who holds a destiny greater then any other in the Wasteland.

Together, a Princess, a Nightmare, and a Wanderer must traverse a violent and unstable Wasteland while dark shadows seek to blot out the wandering moon.

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Wandering Moon Chapter 1: Arrival

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A pair of dark, malevolent eyes glared sharply at the tall, angelic mare across from her, a mouthful of sharp fangs bared at her. Her coat was almost entirely black, save for the section around her rear legs and lower back, where her crescent moon cutie mark was emblazoned in a glowing white light, a trace of blue barely visible. A tall horn, black as the darkest night erupted from her forehead, and a long, gleaming silver blade was held aloft by her magical aura. The Ex-Princess, now Queen Nightmare Moon was hovering only a few meters off of the ground, which was littered with the still forms of her former army. Arrival.

Hovering across from her, her body and golden armor enveloped in an almost blindingly white aura, was her sister, Queen Celestia. The elder alicorn gazed steadily at her, her eyes full of pain and remorse, which was met by only anger and loathing.

“You think you have won, dear sister?” Nightmare Moon asked with a hiss. “Just because our army lies defeated and our ritual spell thwarted, it does not mean that we are done! On the contrary, we are just beginning!”

“Luna, please, stop this madness!” The elder sister begged, her voice near to its breaking point with grief. “You’re accomplishing nothing by these actions! The ponies of Equestria fear and despise you now far more than they ever did before, please sister, there is still time for you to turn back!”

Nightmare Moon laughed, but this was no laugh of joy, nor happiness, nor even of joviality. No, instead this laugh was full of nothing but bitterness and hate. Celestia flinched at the awful sound.

“And whose fault is that, dearest sister?” the dark alicorn growled. “Who is the most beautiful of all ponies? Who is the one that all of our subjects would rather see? Who is the one that is not feared for her attempts to help them sleep easier at night?”

“Luna... that’s not fair and you know it!” Celestia exclaimed. “They fear you because you’re attempting to bring about eternal night!”

WRONG!” Nightmare roared as she charged her horn for another assault. “THEY FEAR US BECAUSE OF YOU!” She released the terrifyingly powerful blast of energy at her sister, intending to kill her once and for all.

Celestia’s horn glowed a bright white, and suddenly, she was enveloped by a shield of harmonious energy that blocked the dark mare’s attack. The white alicorn then charged through the air towards Nightmare, her horn glowing brightly as it reflected off of the flowing rainbow of her mane. Nightmare charged forward as well, her own horn seemingly sucking her sister's light from the air as she readied it for another blast.

They met in the center of the clearing and both alicorns unleashed the ferocious energy that they carried. In a tremendous explosion of white and blue light, Nightmare was thrown backwards through the air, corkscrewing into the ground. Her sword landed beside her, embedding itself in the ground before magically returning to its place in the scabbard at her side.

Celestia strode forwards slowly and powerfully, a set of six gems hovering in the air around her head. “Luna, I know that you’re in there somewhere,” she said softly. “Hopefully the Elements can release you from this parasite’s dark hold.”

Nightmare blearily looked up at Celestia, hatred and anger seething in her eyes. “We are Luna,” she replied at a low growl. “You are just too blind to see us, blind like all the others!”

The white alicorn’s face softened for half a second, but then hardened, and without further hesitation she unleashed the powers of the Elements of Harmony on the struggling form of her sister.

The swirling rainbow of harmonic energy streaked through the air and struck Nightmare in the chest, flowing around her like a swarm of bizarrely colored bees. What followed could only be described as the single most painful experience in Nightmare’s existence, as the Forces of Harmony seemed to eat at her very being. When the pain finally subdued, Nightmare stood stock still, her coat still black.

Celestia stared in shock. Not only was the Nightmare still in control of her sister, which should have been inconceivable at this point, but the fact that she was still standing was nothing short of... of impossible!

“Sister?” Celestia asked slowly. “Are you in there, Lulu?”

The mare across from her focused her attention on Celestia once more, and her to the elder mare’s horror, the eyes were still full of hate.

“You tried to stop us with the Elements sister? US? The ones who have always had the strongest connection to them?!” Nightmare shouted. “We who first discovered them in that temple so long ago, we who first dubbed that they were our tools with which to fight the foul Draconequus Discord?!” She continued, walking forward, her rage allowing her to ignore the immense pain coursing through her entire body.

Celestia began to backpedal away from her sister. The Elements had been her trump card, and now that they had failed...

“For this- this insult- I will kill you, sister!” Nightmare Moon shouted, her voice equal parts anger and outrage, even as the black of her coat began to flicker. “I-I will bathe in your blueblood and erase your name from history! I shall-”

She was cut off in mid-sentence by a powerful blast of glowing purple energy that smashed into her ribs, knocking her to the side. The mare recovered and turned to see the defiant form of Clover the Clever standing there, her purple and pink mane swirling with magic.

“Not one more word out of you, monster!” The mare shouted as her horn began to glow even brighter. “I banish you from this realm! I cast you out from this plane! I sentence you to wander!”

As the last word left the mare’s mouth, her horn discharged its energy and a ball of power slammed into Nightmare Moon who suddenly found reality slipping away from her as a great force pushed against her. She struggled against the flow, scrapping with her hooves and flapping with her wings, but it was to no avail. Before she had realized it, Nightmare Moon was falling... seemingly into oblivion itself.

Clover the Clever turned to Celestia who was staring at her in abject shock.

“It had to be done,” the mare said coldly. “We discussed it ahead of time, should the Elements fail then we would banish her.”

Celestia shivered but nodded her head stiffly. “Yes...” without waiting for a response from her dear friend, the alicorn leapt into the air, not wanting Clover to see the tears that ran down from her eyes. Little known to Celestia, Clover’s face was similarly stained.

“I’m...I’m so sorry Luna... so... so... sorry,” the young unicorn said softly before turning away from the spot where the mare had vanished. She and her liege had work to do.

Sarah Summers walked along the unfamiliar cracked concrete, once again going over the events that had gotten her kicked out of her home what seemed like years ago... but was really only a day and a half. The young woman winced at that.

A day and a half since her father had left her to fend for herself in the Vault as the Overseer’s men had come to kill her. A day and a half since she’d been forced to kill said Overseer in order to protect her best friend. A day and A half since her best friend had slapped her across the face and ordered her out of her home.

The woman shuddered slightly at the ghost of pain that flitted across her cheek at the memory of Amata’s outrage. Sarah was still... conflicted about what she had done.

At the time, with Amata tied to a chair and her father standing over her with Officer Mack fingering his police baton with a leery grin on his face, Sarah had reacted with the instincts long ago instilled in her by Officer Gomez, and pulled the trigger launching a salvo of 10mm bullets into both of them.

Sarah shook her head and her black hair wafted across her vision. The woman sighed and took another look at her surroundings, not wanting to get so lost in thought that she would be an easy target for another of the many roving bands of raiders that she’d first heard so much about from Moira.

Damn, that woman can talk for hours... Sarah thought to herself as she remembered her conversation with the perky shopkeeper. Oh well, she was nice enough to give me this armored vault suit for free, she continued to think as she gently put a hand on the armored suit that had already saved her life a few times in her short time in the Wasteland.

The smoothed wooden stock of her hunting rifle lay between her fingers and as she walked along, scanning the surrounding area for any threats. Though the woman had already encountered one or two small groups of the raiders who she’d managed to avoid for the most part, she had the oddest feeling that her trip to the Super Duper Mart was going to be a bit more hazardous.

Of course the first task that she’d completed for Moira hadn’t exactly been fun either. She still wasn’t sure why she’d thought it was a good idea to get irradiated by drinking from the water around the bomb... something about it being the quickest way possible. Her stomach had informed her of how bad an idea that had been when she’d spent the next two hours puking her irradiated guts out into Moira’s toilet as the woman gently massaged her back.

She shook her head again to bring herself back to reality as she checked her Pip-Boy’s map screen. Sarah smiled as she saw that she was closing in on the remains of the Super Duper Mart. She was making better time than she’d thought she would, and barring any problems, she’d be back in Megaton just as the light of the sun began to die.

With that happy thought in mind the woman crested the hill that she’d been walking steadily up and got her first site of the Super Duper Mart. The dilapidated building was in better shape than she’d expected, though she noticed a large hole in the roof near the back. As the woman began to walk down the slope she heard the distinctive sound of gunfire coming from the parking lot.

Sarah’s eyes narrowed and she fell into a crouch, her fingers tightening around her rifle even further. She crept forwards around the side of the building, her eyes scanning back and forth as she approached the parking lot. Once she’d reached the corner of the building she leaned against it, and peeked out around it. To her surprise, she saw two raiders taking potshots at one of the odd floating robots that traveled the Wastes spreading their crappy music with them as they went.

Even more surprising, the robot seemed to be holding its own despite the raiders’ superior firepower. Sarah watched the conflict curiously, the raiders were hiding behind one of the many destroyed cars as the tiny robot assaulted their position with its tiny red laser. The woman let out a single steadying breath and brought her rifle up to her face, then she carefully positioned it so that it was pointing at one of the raider’s heads. Once more drawing on what Gomez had taught her, she made sure that her grip on the rifle was right, that her breathing was even, and that (most importantly) the safety was off.

The bullet exploded out of the barrel and roared straight into the back of the raider’s skull in an explosion of blood. The other raider, who had just finished destroying the eyebot turned to see his dead friend, and spotted Sarah as she ducked back behind the corner.

“I’m going to kill you, bitch!” he shouted at her before bringing his 10mm pistol to bear on the corner and firing several shots. Chips of concrete and mortar fell around Sarah’s head and she hoped desperately that none of the bullets would make it through.

“I really am going to need to ask Moira to pay me more for this type of thing,” Sarah muttered to herself, an unsteady tinge of fear underlying her voice. Even though she had been trained for this type of thing... there was a far cry from shooting at static targets on a shooting range, and shooting at targets who were actually shooting back.

She peeked her head out of cover, and a 10mm round whizzed by, literally inches away from her face.

“Shit!” she yelped as she pulled her head back to safety. She held the hunting rifle to her chest and once again peaked out once it seemed like the raider was reloading, she sighted down the barrel and took a shot. The raider let out a laugh as the round flew wide and Sarah barely had time to pull back into cover before a round slammed into the stone.

“Why did no one think to put iron sights on a fucking hunting rifle?” she asked herself angrily, her voice growing even more frayed thanks to the failure.

“Aww what’s the matter bitch, are you afraid of me?” The raider taunted. “Well that’s good, you should be!”

Sarah growled frustratedly and peaked around the corner again, this time a bullet bounced off her shoulder guard, but she ignored it and focused on her shot. Time seemed to slow as she lined up her rifle’s barrel with his head. Seconds ticked by like hours and she called up VATS to double check her aim, 85%, good enough. She pulled down the trigger, and her shot leapt towards the raider, hitting him in the throat and exiting out the back of his neck.

The woman let out a sigh of relief as the body dropped to the ground and slowly started to regain control of her elevated breathing. Sarah took a last look around the parking lot to make sure that there weren’t any raiders that she’d missed, or who were hiding nearby, and then moved cautiously towards the fallen bodies.

As she reached the first one, the raider who had been shooting at her, her stomach threatened to heave her lunch of snack cakes all over the dead man’s body. Killing... and the body that it left behind was still new to her and the fact that she was responsible for the death of someone caused her to be almost physically ill.

However, she understood that there were some people who deserved to die, and there was no point in not taking what she needed from their bodies. So, while fighting back her revulsion she began to dig through the pockets of the raider’s ratty armor. That done, and a new 10mm pistol in the bag around her left shoulder along with a few more bullets for her belt pouch, she continued onto the next one who had more of the same.

Then Sarah turned to stare at the Super Duper Mart’s entrance.

“Okay... so if there were any raiders in there then they would’ve come out to see what all the shouting was about ... right?” she asked herself, hoping that she was right and that there wasn’t an army of them inside of the store waiting to pounce on her. Sarah let out a slightly nervous chuckle as she approached the door at a crouch and carefully pushed it open.

As she entered the dark space she immediately noted how wrong her assumption had been. There were at least ten raiders patrolling the room, none of whom looked particularly calm.

“Dammit man, what the hell did that?” one of them who was close enough for Sarah to hear asked another.

“I don’t know man, but whatever it was it crashed through the fucking roof!” the other raider exclaimed. “I wonder if its some sort of alien weapon or something, I mean shit doesn’t just fall from the sky!”

“Yeah, that would be fucking awesome, what if it sets things on fire!” the first replied excitedly. “It’s too bad we lost the key to the room, we’ll have to break down the door to get to it!”

“We’d already have the thing if you dipshits hadn’t forgotten the password to that terminal!” A third raider yelled at them. “And shut up about it, Benny and the others will be back soon and they’ve got the extra key!”

Sarah frowned, it seemed that whatever had made that hole in the building was behind a locked door... whatever it was, Sarah decided that she wanted it. But first, there were the raiders to take care of.

She quietly made her way to the nearest checkout aisle and got into cover behind the counter. Then, she brought up her rifle, focused on the nearest raider’s head, and pulled the trigger.

BANG! Luna frowned in her unconsciousness. BANG!

She turned over and attempted to blot out the noise.


Wake up, you fool! a familiar voice shouted within her mind. Luna’s eyes flickered open in surprise at the anger in the voice and what she saw caught her completely off guard.

The first thought that struck her was that she was no longer in the forest clearing, instead she was in a confining metal walled room... in fact, she could see no greenery anywhere in the enclosure. She jumped to her hooves, and then fell flat on her face as her legs buckled beneath her in pain.

Slowly, we’ve just taken a rather painful trip and our body isn’t quite ready for anything fast. Nightmare’s voice spoke within her mind, losing a bit of its earlier bite.

I-what? Where are we? Luna inquired in confusion as she looked around the strange room, taking in the fallen metal shelves, odds and ends scattered around the floor, and the odd... tube that seemed to entrap a bipedal metal construct.

I-I do not know, Nightmare answered, obviously troubled by the fact. However, it seems likely that Clover has cast us out of Equestria… though we are not lost in the infinite void between planes it would seem.

She did what? How? But Clover would never... she is our friend! Luna shouted, her mental voice colored with shock, confusion, rage... and most of all a sense of overwhelming betrayal.

And yet here we are, Nightmare replied pointedly. And the Elements managed to drain us of enough of our magic to render us incapable of holding our true form together.

Luna looked down at herself and saw that instead of the stately black fur that she had become accustomed to of late, she instead saw her childish blue fur. The mare’s eyes widened and she let out a low growl.

“This is Tia’s fault... she turned Clover against us... she’s going to pay for this!”

Keep your voice down, Nightmare hissed. We still don’t know what is making that banging sound and I would rather that whatever creature it is doesn’t find us sprawled on the floor like a day old foal!


The statement was punctuated by another round of loud bangs and Luna nodded her head slowly, seeing the wisdom in her other half’s advice. Carefully and tenderly the mare began to get to her hooves, pain wracking her body with every movement despite the care that she put into each of them.

After several moments of silent, painful struggling she eventually made her way to the door and pushed against it with her hoof. To her annoyance this resulted in nothing.

I believe it is locked, Nightmare commented dryly.

I noticed, Luna replied frustratedly as she attempted to draw enough power into her horn to force the door off of its hinges. Unfortunately, as she did so the nerves in her horn spasmed in protest and Luna let out a quiet shriek of pain.

Be careful! We’re still healing and we do not have much magic left! Nightmare snapped at her, pain filling her voice to a sharp edge.

Luna ground her teeth together at the pain, and released her hold on the door. Instead, a more subtle approach was needed. She turned to the scabbard at her side which had managed to survive the fall through both dimensions and the ceiling unscathed.

With a smile, the first one to grace her face all day, she pulled Day Breaker from its sheath and held the silver blade aloft in the air in front of her. She winced at the pain coming from her protesting horn but ignored it. With a swift stab, the blade stabbed through the center of the door.


Wandering Moon Chapter 2: First Impressions

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Sarah stumbled back from the door falling on her butt, her eyes wide with shock and surprise. The blade had emerged merely two inches above her head, stabbing through the metal lined door as if it were made of butter. Hastily she got to her feet and vaulted over the low counter, training her hunting rifle’s barrel on the door. The sword blade was withdrawn and there was a puzzled silence from the other side before noises that almost sounded like words came from behind it.

Hello? Is there anypony out there? I apologize for startling you, but I seem to have been locked within this room of yours,” the feminine voice spoke in what was obviously an apologetic tone, and even though Sarah couldn’t make out anything that the speaker was actually saying she got the general gist. Beneath the apologetic tone the woman also picked up on a great deal of pain and confusion.

The sword stabbed through the door again, this time at the top and it traveled down the length of the door to the floor, cleanly slicing it in two. Sarah watched in open mouthed amazement as the two halves of the door was forced apart and a large blue furred creature walked through the bisected remains. The creature had a lighter blue mane as well as a tail and a tall blue horn emerged from its forehead and a pair of graceful wings were tucked in tightly to its side. The creature was also covered with scratches, most of which were freely bleeding red blood.

Apparently caught off guard by its new surroundings the creature paused in the doorway and peered around the interior of the Super Duper Mart. As far as Sarah could tell the creature befuddled by the decrepit shopping center. Then its eyes locked on the corpse of one of the raiders that the woman had just finished fighting and it stared at the body for a moment or two before the horn or its head lit up with a gentle blue glow and the raider’s eyelids were suddenly surrounded by the same aura before slowly sliding shut.

“What the hell?” Sarah muttered as she watched. At the sound of her voice the creature turned in her direction and its eyes narrowed.

Did you do this?” the creature’s voice sounded angry and its eyes glared into Sarah’s.

“Oh shit...” Sarah murmured as she brought the rifle to bear on the creature’s forehead. “I don’t understand what you’re saying,” she added in what she hoped was a non hostile tone.

The creature frowned at her for a moment before the horn started to glow again and Sarah tensed, ready for anything. To her surprise the gentle blue light enveloped her head and for a fraction of a second she felt a slight pain in her head as if someone had slid a needle into her brain. The pain, and the blue light vanished a second later and the creature cleared its throat.

“I asked, did you do this?” it asked her with narrowed eyes.

Sarah’s mouth fell open in complete surprise.

“I asked you a question!” the creature snapped, holding the silver sword aloft in a dangerous manner. “Did you, or did you not kill this being?”

Sarah shook her head swiftly to clear it. “Yes, yes I did,” she began, the creature’s eyes narrowed into slits and it began to walk towards where Sarah was crouched. “But only because if I hadn’t he would’ve killed, raped, and then mutilated my corpse.” she finished hurriedly though the truth in her voice was plain to hear.

That made the creature pause. “Truthfully? It would have done something so foul?”

Still having an unbelievable amount of trouble believing the unusual circumstances of her current situation, Sarah simply nodded her head slowly, seeing nothing better to do.

The creature frowned at her for a moment, as if deciding whether or not she was telling the truth, then with a small frown she sheathed the sword in the sheath at her her side and winced in pain.

“My apologies... stranger... I didn’t know,” she, it was definitely a she, said with a weary voice. “I am... new here.”

“It’s... okay I guess... I’m new here too,” Sarah said slowly as she lowered her hunting rifle away from the creature’s head. “So... who... and what are you?”

“I... could ask you the same question,” the creature replied warily.

Sarah frowned at her but shrugged. “My name is Sarah Summers, I’m a... human I guess,” she said, unfamiliar with actually referring to herself as a ‘human’.

“I see... My name is Princess Luna, of Equestria and I am an alicorn,” the creature told her.

“Princess? As in the fairytale type of princess or something out of Grognak?” Sarah asked skeptically. “And what’s an alicorn?”

“You doubt my word?” Luna asked her with narrowed eyes.

“Look, ‘Princess’ I don’t know where you come from, and I’ve only been living in the Wasteland for a day and a half and if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in that someone’s word is only worth how far you can throw them,” the woman said as she looked back at Luna. “And right now from where I’m standing, I know that I can’t throw you very far.”

Luna snorted at the analogy. “Well then know that I am indeed a Princess, and I do not appreciate those that fail to recognize me as such.”

Sarah let out a slightly frustrated breath. “You said that you’re from some place called Equestraia right?”

“E-ques-tri-a,” Luna corrected, sounding out each syllable.

“Yeah, that,” Sarah agreed.

“What is your point?” Luna asked.

“My point is that we’re not in Equestria so therefore you’re not a princess,” the woman explained. “This is the Wasteland.”

“The Wasteland? Where the Changeling hives reside?” Luna asked.

“Um... no,” Sarah muttered. “Look... I’ll explain this stuff latter... but you’re bleeding pretty badly and you probably need some sort of medical attention. My father was a doctor and I learned a little from him, though not as much as he wanted me too...” she trailed off and a look of regret mixed with sadness crossed her face. “But I should be able to patch you up once we get back to Megaton.”

Luna looked down at herself and for seemingly the first time noticed the fresh and drying blood that coated her fur. “Oh... dear... I had not noticed that.”

“Really?” Sarah asked with a raised eyebrow.

Luna scowled at her. “It has been a long day. It is not often that somepony ends up somewhere completely unfamiliar to them like this.”

Before their conversation could carry on any further a loud and gravelly voice reverberated from the front Super Duper Mart.

“Hey we’re back, and we got the good stuff!”

With a muffled curse Sarah vaulted over the counter and took cover behind it, training her rifle in the direction of the voice. Noticing the woman’s sudden actions Luna mirrored her and crouched beside the woman, though it was far less effective at hiding her bulk.

“What is the matter?” Luna asked in a whisper.

“They’re friends of that guy,” Sarah whispered back with a small nod in the direction of the corpse on the ground.

“Wait, where the fuck is everyone?!” The voice from before shouted.

“I take it that they will not be happy if they discover us?” Luna said with a frown.

“Okay, whoever did this, you’re all fucking dead!” The voice from the front roared.

“That answer your question, Luna?” Sarah asked at a whisper.

“It most certainly does and if they wish to harm us then they will have a great deal of difficulty,” Luna replied as she drew her sword out of its scabbard only to wince in pain as her face contorted in agony.

Sarah noticed the face. “Are you okay?” she inquired quietly.

“Yes-I am fine-but my magic reserves are very low at the moment,” Luna answered softly, wincing with every word.

“Magic? Wait, nevermind, we’ve got more important things to worry about right now,” Sarah said, shaking her head and turning back to the front of the shop where at least ten raiders were fanning out and searching the store.

“You are the expert in this place, what is our best course of action?” Luna whispered, still wincing in pain with every word.

“Umm... against these types of numbers I would try running,” Sarah replied. “I was only able to get to the room you were in because there were like five of them spread out across the store and I was able to kill two of them before the others realized what was happening.”

Luna eyed her for a moment and then nodded simply. “Unfortunately... it appears that they have left two of their number at what I assume to be the exits... so I doubt that in our current state we will be able to sneak by them.” she closed her large blue eyes for a moment as if listening to some unseen voice. “And if we challenge them in a straight fight then we will be killed, correct?”

“Most likely,” Sarah replied flatly.

“Then we should find a strongpoint where their numbers will mean nothing,” Luna stated her voice sounding a bit different as she gave a small nod towards the room that she cut her way out of. “I believe that my previous cell would make a decent one.”

“Better than just crouching here against this wall waiting to die,” Sarah agreed and moved towards the room at a crouch. Once inside her eyes lit up at what she saw. “Oh yes... this... this will help!”

Luna walked in with her, the mare’s hooves impacting loudly off of the tiled floor. “What will help?”

Sarah nodded towards the Protectron. “That’s a Protectron, and that’s the Employee ID on that terminal up there,” she explained.

“So?” Luna asked, still thoroughly confused by where the woman was going with this.

“Sooo we can activate it safely,” Sarah answered with a grin, as if that explained everything.

“I hope you know what you are speaking of, because I have no idea,” she said skeptically.

Luna watched with a mix of astonishment and slight fear as the robotic construction surged into motion with an oddly emotionless voice. To be honest, it reminded her of a rather rudimentary golem, but much less gracefull.

“Employee and Guest ID verified, hostile intruders detected,” the thing ground out. “Activating termination protocols.”

The mare watched as it slowly and jerkily walked out of the room.

That 'robot' is ... most odd, Luna mentally murmured to Nightmare.

Indeed it is... Nightmare agreed. However, if it is as useful as this ‘Sarah’ claims it will be then we had best watch it carefully.

Luna nodded, drawing a sideways from Sarah. “You alright? You’re not nodding off on me are you, Luna?”

“No, not at all, I am fine,” Luna assured her.

“Good, because with the amount of blood that you’ve lost falling asleep isn’t really a good idea,” Sarah commented.

“Thank you for your concern,” Luna said, giving her a small smile.

“Eh, don’t mention it,” Sarah replied shortly. “Come on, let’s go see this robot in action.” She then walked out of the room and crouched behind the nearby counter, pointing the odd wooden contraption with the metal tube sticking out of it in the direction of the ones that she had dubbed ‘raiders’.

Luna nodded and followed her, taking up position beside her. The mare peeked over the edge of the counter to observe the confrontation.

The lumbering ‘Protectron’ approached the raiders who looked at it in confusion.

“Hey Benny, isn’t that the old robot that was in the back of the building?” Luna heard one of them ask.

The names of this... Wasteland... are very odd, Luna observed with the mental equivalent of a frown.

Yes, now be quiet and watch, Nightmare told her sternly.

“Yeah, hey buddy, what are yo-” the raider that she assumed was Benny began but the robot interrupted him.

“Intruder detected! Opening fire!”

To Luna’s absolute astonishment twin beams of red energy lanced out of the robot’s metal talons the first seared a hole through the raider stallion’s head and the second raced out and into the raider nearest him. Even more surprising, the other raiders yelped in surprise at the sudden death of their two compatriots and turned their metal tubes to point at it.

With a series of bright flashes of light and loud BANGS the tubes exploded and Luna heard the sound of metal on metal as sparks erupted from the robot’s body. A loud BANG from beside her made the alicorn jump in surprise, and one of the raiders fell to the ground, a newly made hole in the side of his head.

She turned to see Sarah adjust her own tube and it flashed again. This time, now that Luna was paying attention, she saw something streak out of the end of the tube and impact in one of the raider’s shoulders. Unfortunately for the raiders, they were far too distracted with trying to kill the robot to notice the incoming rifle fire.

She stared at the scene before, transfixed by the bursts of light and the sounds of combat. She was rudely snapped out of it as Sarah knocked her to the ground just in time to avoid something that whistled over her head. Luna looked at her in confusion but the woman simply ducked behind cover and pointed to a portion of the wall behind her which now possessed a deep crater in it.

“Careful Luna,” the human cautioned her.

Indeed, listen to her, she has good advice, Nightmare added. What were you thinking? Staring blankly at something deadly is the best way to be killed by it!

Luna shook her head and decided to keep herself low from that point onwards, having no desire to have a large hole in her head.

Meanwhile, Sarah was lining up another shot just as the raiders finished off the protectron which promptly exploded causing Luna to flinch beside her. The woman put the impossible creature’s movements out of her mind as she aimed down the barrel, once again cursing the lack of iron sights on the gun. She took a shot at a raider holding an assault rifle, but her shot went wide and a score of bullets shot towards her.

Sarah wasn’t able to duck down fast enough to avoid all of them, and two of them slammed into her shoulder making the woman let out a pained shriek. Thankfully, the armor of her vault suit managed to stop most of the damage, but she felt the trickle of blood flowing beneath the fabric. The sudden pain in her shoulder made it hard to concentrate on what she was doing but the woman ground her teeth and focused back on the raiders, the remaining of whom were letting out obnoxious noises at her shriek.

From beside her Luna looked at the woman worriedly.

If she dies then we will be friendless in this place Nightmare commented coldly. We can not allow that to happen!

Agreed, though I would not want her life to end either way. She has been exceptionally accepting of us... even when we gave her no reason to be, Luna stated slowly. Nightmare let out a mental snort, but didn’t deny it.

“Are you okay Sarah?” Luna asked.

“No, I was just shot,” Sarah replied tersely through clenched teeth. “Please be quiet so I can aim.”

Another shot barely missed the woman’s head and she had to drop back behind cover as another trio of assault rifle bullets skittered off of the thankfully solid counter. Sarah let out a string of muffled curses as her injured shoulder smacked against the wall. To Luna’s ears, it sounded as if she was cursing someone named ‘Moira’.

There must be something that we can do, Luna mentally muttered to Nightmare.

Hmm... perhaps there is, Nightmare replied thoughtfully as she noticed the door on the other side of the room. Even in our current injured state we should be capable of providing Sarah with a decent flanker.

“Sarah, we’re going to flank them,” Luna informed the woman.

“Okay... try not to get shot, okay?” Sarah said, though she gave the mare an odd look at the use of the word ‘we’re’.

“I shall endeavor not to,” Luna replied with a small nod before she snuck over to the door and began to stealthily move around the back of the building.

However her progress was stalled by the first sight she saw. Lying there, chained to a blood soaked mattress was a completely skinned human torso. Sightless, empty eye sockets stared at her from a head that was several feet away, partially covered by a fallen book. The torso ended in the middle, and the heavy scent of filth drifted out at her from the distended intestines and it was all that Luna could to keep from vomiting there and then.

What... what kind of... what?! she mentally exclaimed.

We need to keep moving, we don’t have to dawdle, Nightmare insisted, glossing over the bloated corpse as if it were nothing of importance.

But... that... that kind of... Luna rambled, utterly stunned by what she was seeing.

MOVE! Nightmare ordered loudly within their mind. Sarah will most likely die if you do not MOVE right NOW!

The outburst spurred Luna into movement and she hurried past the corpse and reached the far wall of the building. The sound of the tubes discharging still reached her ears, so Sarah was managing to hold out despite the raiders’ superior numbers, but Luna knew, as Nightmare had said she would not be able to survive long under the onslaught without assistance.

Luna slowly made her way along the wall, counting on the gunfire to keep the raiders from hearing her hoof falls on the tile floor. When she reached the last shelf that hid herself from the raider’s view, Luna let out a tired pant. She was pushing her already drained body even further and she wasn’t sure how much longer she had until it decided to stop listening to her orders, no matter how severe the consequences would be.

Focus, Nightmare instructed as Luna peaked out from behind the shelf to see that there were three raiders left, all of whom were were periodically ducking behind one of the checkout counters. Unfortunately for Luna, they were behind the counter farthest away and there was very little in the way of cover.

This is going to be... difficult, Luna murmured to Nightmare.

Yes it is, Nightmare agreed. With our current magic levels we will not be able to direct Daybreaker at them from a distance, we will have to close with them.

Luna nodded. all the while wishing that her sister’s surprise attack hadn’t caught her without her armor on. She drew Daybreaker from its sheath, wincing in pain as she did so, and charged out of cover at the raiders, using her sore wings to propel her forwards at them. One of the raiders noticed her and turned to point the tube at the mare, but he was too late.

Daybreaker swept out and decapitated him with a single swipe. The man’s head soared free from his neck with a spray of blood droplets and went rolling away into a nearby corner as the body dropped lifelessly to the ground.

The others jumped out of cover in surprise at the sudden and violent death of their friend and turning to gape at their unexpected new foe with undisguised bewilderment.

One of them began to react, bringing his 10mm submachine gun up to focus on Luna, but a .32 bullet slammed into the side of his head. The raider dropped to the ground with a meaty lifeless thump.

The last raider froze in fear as Luna’s chest slammed into him and threw him to the ground. He let out a scream of fear which caused Luna to hesitate for half of a second. Then, remembering the sight that she had seen in her journey to the man she brought her front hooves down on the human’s skull. It shattered in a miniaturized explosion of blood and grey matter that stained the blue fur of her chest and forelegs a bright crimson.

The alicorn let out an exhausted sigh and Daybreaker fell to the floor before near instantly returning to its sheath. Luna took a wobbly step out of the remains, her hoof coming free from the destroyed skull with a squelching sound. The second followed a moment later with an equally disturbing sound and the mare once more fought down the urge to spill her stomach.

It's done. Breaths. Easy breaths, Nightmare told Luna soothingly. Think of the meadow on the mountains.

Luna took another few steps away from the corpses and began to draw in slow, deep breaths, as her mind drifted off to her favorite spot in Equestria. Sarah came up beside her and hesitantly put a paw on her shoulder.

“Hey, Luna, are you alright?” the woman asked as she eyed the mare. “Am I going to have to start digging bullets out of you?”

Luna flinched at the sudden unfamiliar touch and voice and Sarah took a hasty step backwards out of kicking range. The alicorn shook her head to clear it and turned to Sarah, an almost hurt look in her eyes.

“Yes, I am fine... and no, I do not believe that I was hit by any of those ‘bullets’,” she said slowly. Then she winced in pain. “Ow... I think I need to find somewhere to sleep.” The alicorn stumbled forwards and Sarah just barely managed to reach her in time to steady her.

“Hey, stay with me here Princess,” Sarah instructed, her voice becoming calmer and more controlled. “I know where some relatively clean beds are, you just need to follow me. You can go to sleep there.”

The alicorn nodded wearily and Sarah gave her a thin smile before turning, while keeping one of her hands on Luna’s neck, and led her towards the bathroom. Luna’s nose wrinkled in disgust once she caught the first whiff of the bathroom’s foul scent, but she was hardly in a position to complain. Sarah walked in first and pulled two of the decaying mattresses together and presented it to Luna.

“It looks... lovely?” Luna said tiredly, suppressing a yawn.

“No, but it should do for a night,” Sarah replied with a shrug. “I’ll keep watch, you go ahead and sleep, okay?”

Luna didn’t have to be told twice, without a second’s hesitation she’d lain down on the mattresses and stretched out lengthways. Before Sarah had even had time to sit down in the conveniently placed chair, the mare was snoring soundly.

“You know... I’ve always wanted a unicorn...” Sarah said quietly to herself.

Wandering Moon Chapter 3: Dreams

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Luna’s sleep was tumultuous and troubled.

“Luna, you know that this is a bad idea and you shouldn’t even consider it,” Clover the Clever told her softly from her position at the desk in Luna’s room. She was looking over a set of plans, Luna’s plans for the future.

“But Clover... you know that my subjects dislike me and my work with the sky... perhaps if they had more time to appreciate it they could grow to like it just as much as they do the sun,” Luna argued.

“They might... or they could simply grow to hate you for imposing your night on them,” Clover pointed out, her voice quiet.

“Or they could grow to love it!” Luna retorted, her voice dropping into a near deadly tone. “They certainly seem to love Tia’s day. Why won’t they love my night?”

A sad look touched the purple unicorn’s face. “Because they are afraid of what hides in the shadows, Luna...”

“I have brought order to those creatures, they no longer prey upon our beloved subjects in the night unless they leave the safety of their settlements!” Luna replied fiercely. “But they don’t celebrate as they should, instead they remain locked away at night, hiding from my beautiful stars!”

“Luna,” the other mare said softly, getting up from the desk and going to stand beside her princess, gently laying a hoof on her side.

Luna moved away from the her. “It doesn’t make any sense! My night is perfect! The stars and constellations are perfectly arrayed to create images to bedazzle and bewitch their eyes! The moonlight is soft enough to feal gently caress them as they walk beneath it, and the quiet blackness casts the perfect blanket for their moments of love!” she ranted angrily. “It just doesn’t make sense!”

Clover sighed and looked down. “Princess, Luna... I’m afraid that I can’t help you in this. As much as I would truly love to... the natural order must be maintained. We cannot simply readjust the schedules of every farmer and pony in Equestria who rely on the sun to do their work,” she said slowly in a compassionate voice. “Please, drop this subject by the wayside, forget it and attempt to win over the populace through other means.”

The Princess of the night stared at Clover, her face stricken. “Bu-but Clover... please, you must see the reasons behind this, please!” she pleaded.

The other mare just shook her head. “Luna, please, this is your closest friend talking, not the Archmage. You must think of the average pony here, they’re easily frightened by what they don’t understand... and the night represents that in and of itself,” Clover told her softly.

“I-I know this... but Clover why can they not learn to accept my night?” Luna asked. “They accept Tia’s day easily enough, our little ponies are nothing if not adaptable... they proved this during Discord’s years in rule.”

Clover frowned. “Luna, the normal rise and set of the sun and the moon are two of the things that have helped to establish normality and routine in ponies’ lives. If you change that they might react... badly.”

Luna shook her head. “But-but if there is no change things stagnate and-and-and...” she trailed off as she realized that she was grasping for straws. “It’s-it’s not fair Clover!” she wailed, tears beginning to form in her eyes. Clover closed the distance between them and pulled the taller mare into a hug.

“There there, I’m here for you Luna,” Clover said softly as she patted Luna’s neck. “I’m here for as long as you need, and nothing you do will ever change that.” Luna poured her grief into her friend's soft fur, tear after tear running down her blue cheek.

Liar Nightmare whispered as she observed the pair in the dream. Just another liar among a sea of them.

Shu-shut up! Luna replied. I-I’m sure that-I’m sure that Tia manipulated her... that’s why she cast me out!

Tell yourself what you want, it doesn’t change the fact that she betrayed us, Nightmare replied coldly.

Luna let out a quiet whine, and rushed to another dream.

Sarah looked down at Luna who was squirming, struggling, and kicking outward with her legs worriedly. She’d already checked the ‘alicorn’ for bullets, or any other obvious form of injury, but had found nothing besides a few dozen shallow cuts and moderate bruises.

The woman shook her head and turned away, thinking about everything that had happened over the course of just about an hour. She still didn’t understand at least half of what Luna had told her, nor did she understand how she managed to hold a sword in the air without touching it... and that wasn’t even going into how she’d managed to seemingly absorb the information from her brain.

Sarah shivered at the thought... that was so creepy that the woman could barely think about it.

And then there had been hints at other things... Luna had referred to herself as ‘we’ at one point... did that mean that the mare was crazy? Or was it a simple slip of the tongue? Sarah didn’t know and she wasn’t really sure if she wanted to find out... especially if it was the first option.

Then of course, there was the obvious question; where was she from?

She’d said ‘Equestria’ but Sarah had never heard of the place, even in Mister Brotch’s class... when she’d bothered to pay attention to the prewar geography part. So... that once again left two options. Either Luna was from a part of the Earth that had been so irradiated that the humans had all turned into unicorns with wings... or Luna was an alien!

Sarah looked down to see that she’d been unintentionally fingering her hunting rifle. She removed her fingers from the comforting wooden stock and put the rifle on the tiled floor, letting the barrel lean against the chair as she herself leaned back against the plastic.

She put thoughts of Luna out of her head for the moment and focused on the most important one; finding her father. Sarah frowned deeply at that. it... it wouldn’t matter if he’d just told her that he was leaving, but no, he’d simply left, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. Now she was going to find him... and get some answers!

Now that she had a quiet minute to look back on things... Sarah had to say that the most surprising thing about that... day was the fact that Butch of all people had stood by her. The woman shivered a little as a cold draft blew over her and she reached into her travel bag to pull out Butch’s jacket and wrapped it around herself, taking comfort in the warm leather.

Butch may not have been her type, but she’d almost considered asking him to come along with her out into the Wasteland... of course then she’d remembered all of the shit that she’d had to put up with because of him over the years, along with the fact that he was just a barber and would probably gotten killed in a few minutes after she’d left the Vault. Then again, she had too... running towards the closest people in sight, who had all been heavily armed raiders, was not her brightest idea.

She shivered again, and this time it had nothing to do with the cold. That sniper’s bullet had nailed her in the chest and she’d been lucky that it had miraculously missed anything vital. That, and the fact that she’d been able to staunch the bleeding with a stimpak fast enough was the only reason that she hadn’t been ‘raider rape chow’ as some put it.

Luna gave a particularly violent twitch and Sarah looked at her with a pitying glance, she must have been having awful nightmares. With a small sigh Sarah got up from the chair and sat down beside Luna and began gently running her hand across the mare’s back in an attempt to sooth her. The mare stiffened at her touch, but relaxed after several seconds and began to sleep a bit sounder.

“Tia...” the mare mumbled in her sleep.

As she continued to stroke, Sarah was hit by the absolute absurdity of her current situation. Here she was, sitting next to a mix and match mystical creature right out of Grognak the Barbarian, inside of an awful smelling, rundown superstore on a mission to find food and water in a radioactive wasteland full of murderers and rapists. The woman sighed and shook her head as she continued to stroke the mare; it was one odd world.

“Sister, have you heard of my discussion with Clover the Clever?” Luna inquired of Celestia as they sat together at the breakfast table. Before the mare sat a plate of expertly scrambled eggs. Celestia who come to taking only two pieces of toast for breakfast, was embroiled in large stack of paperwork which she looked up from and set aside her quill.

“Ah yes, she did mention your plan,” Celestia replied cordially.

“And?” Luna asked hopefully.

“And I’m inclined to agree with her Luna,” her sister told her.

“But Tia, that’s-”

“I know it isn’t fair Luna,” Celestia said, interrupting her. “But our little ponies are just beginning to get used to having a set schedule as opposed to the constantly shifting chaos that existed under Discord’s reign.”

“It would only be two extra hours of night sister, it is not as though I want to cast the world into never ending night!” Luna exclaimed. “I simply want ponies to enjoy my night!”

Celestia sighed and took a delicate bite of her toast before answering. “I understand that Luna, I really do, but as I said, I’m afraid that it just isn’t feasible,” her sister said tiredly. “Now please; drop this subject.”

Luna glared at her sister. “It’s always about you isn’t it?” she asked acidically. “You got to be queen because you were older, you have the love and admiration of our subjects because you’re more beautiful than I, and it is your sun who hovers in the sky all day soaking up our ponies’ love!”

The elder mare looked away. “I’m sorry Luna, but this isn’t about you or I. It is about what is best for our little ponies,” she said softly.

Luna snorted. “Or what is best for your ego!”

“The sun and the moon fill the sky for the exact same amount of time each and every day, it is not my fault that our ponies prefer the warm sunlight as opposed to the soft moonlight,” Celestia told her. “Why must you act like such a child?”

Me acting like a child?” Luna asked, clearly enraged by the suggestion. “It is you who will not share!”

“Why would I have to? Our realms share an equal amount of time Luna, there is no need for me to share any more than I already do!” Celestia exclaimed.

“But your time is far more loved!” Luna shouted. “And you sit there in front of all of your adoring ponies while they do nothing but ignore and shun me!”

“My adoring ponies? Luna I spend most of my day arguing and corralling the nobles!” Celestia replied angrily. “It is not as if I spend my day listening to the sonnets that some waste their time creating in honor of my ‘beauty’.”

“And that is exactly my point! You have sonnets written about your grace and beauty, while I have only ghost stories!” Luna roared, startling several of the guards outside of the room into looking in worriedly.

Celestia waved them off with a wing and looked at her sister, her expression rather peeved. “Luna, as much as I would love to indulge you, I am afraid that the night and day cycle will not be adjusted,” she said sternly before rising from her seat, magically grabbing her paperwork and carrying it aloft with her. “Now I have work to do, you should get some sleep so that you will be ready for Night Court.”

Luna glared at her sister’s retreating flank, angry and indignant.

She had been rejected by her only real friend.

She had been slighted and ignored by her sister.

She was hated by the populace!

Without a word, the Lunar Princess vanished from the room and reappeared in her bedchambers. The mare threw herself to her her bed and began to weep softly into her pillow, no one understood, not even her sister... only herself.

Hello... a dark, mature voice whispered in her mind for the first time.

Luna eyelids fluttered open to find that Sarah had apparently fallen asleep atop her, the woman’s soft hand paused halfway down her back. The mare looked at the woman and carefully examined her for the first time since their initial meeting.

Now that the human was so close to her Luna caught sight of the thin layer dust and grime that coated both her tan skin and her black hair. As the mare looked over her gaze drifted to the woman’s shoulder, and she noticed the rip in the fabric as well as the ring of dried blood around the outside. She peered at the skin beneath the hole in the shirt and noticed that the pink skin looked much... fresher than that of anywhere else on the woman’s body.

As she continued her body wide inspection Luna took note of the two bumps that poked out of Sarah’s chest, concluding that they were most likely mammaries while internally wondering how a species could’ve developed such an uncomfortable place from which to feed their young. The mare shook her head slightly and continued her evaluation.

The armor that she was wearing was a cobbled together mix of a blue fabric, pieces of leather, and small plates of what appeared to be steel. The numbers 101 were emblazoned on it in a fading yellow color. Luna frowned; it was not what she would qualify as ‘armor’ and she was surprised that the woman was still alive at all. Her gaze turned to the wooden and metal tube that was leaning against the chair that the woman had been occupying when she’d gone to sleep.

It is a potent weapon of death, Nightmare observed quietly. We should learn how to use it, surely it would increase our ability.

Indeed... it reminds me of a crossbow of some type... though vastly different... and much more deadly, Luna agreed.

Perhaps we could ask our new ‘friend’ here to teach us its use under the pretense of it allowing us to bond? Nightmare observed.

We could always just use it as an actual way to bond, Luna pointed out.

Nightmare scoffed within their head. And you believe that would work? Has Clover’s betrayal taught us nothing? her voice asked scornfully. Friendship is for the weak and the frail. Those too pitiful to defend themselves, that is something that we will never be.

And yet here we are in another world, our magic drained, and our body gripped by pain with every movement. If that is not frail and weak then what is? Luna asked, her mental voice wavering a bit.

Nightmare remained silent for several seconds before answering. One chance, one chance is all she gets. If she betrays our trust, then we shall end her as surely as we will Clover upon our return to Equestria.

I don’t want to kill Clover... surely she has been manipulated by our sister...what else could explain her actions towards us? Luna asked hesitantly.

Perhaps she has been against us all along! Secretly plotting and scheming away behind our back! Would it be out of character for our ‘dear’ sister to attempt something like that? Nightmare snarled. She deserves a traitor’s death in any case.

Luna let out a small sigh, this one not mental. I am still tired, we can hold this conversation later... let us rest.

She was about to close her eyes again, but noticed that Sarah was shivering and shuddering in her sleep. Whether it was from cold, or fear, Luna couldn’t just leave her there. The Princess of the Night reached out with a wing and carefully unfurled it over the woman, hoping that her presence would ease the woman’s sleep much liker her own had done for her.

Sarah was back in the Vault, the indestructible steel ceiling staring back at her like the pupil a single giant grey eye as she lay back on her bed. Then, the ceiling changed, and it morphed into the Overseer’s bloody face as she’d put a bullet through his forehead.

“Why? I trusted you, I gave you a place here in the Vault, I allowed you to enter our security forces,” The Overseer spoke as the blood ran down his forehead. “And what did you do? You killed me.”

“It was an accident... I-I didn’t mean to!” Sarah shouted back, shutting her eyes, but that only made it worse as the Overseer’s face appeared in her eyelids.

“You shot me in the forehead,” the Overseer stated plainly. Then, the blood that had been running down his forehead washed over his mouth and he too changed.

Now it was Amata’s tearstained face that glared at her. “You killed him! You... you killed him! God damn you!”

“Amata I-”

“SHUT UP SARAH!” Amata shouted at her. “Do you think I can ever possibly forgive you for what you’ve done to me?”

“But... I’m your best friend!” Sarah shouted back, knowing it was pointless.

“My best friend? You killed my father, is that the type of thing that a best friend normally does?” Amata snarled nastily at her.

To that, Sarah had no answer, and simply began to weep softly.

The face shifted one final time, and she was staring at her father’s face.

“You know, you have no one to blame for all this but yourself,” he pointed out coldly.

“No, it’s your fault! All your fault!” Sarah shouted back.

“Is it? Is it really? Whose decision was it to kill the Overseer? Or better yet; what about the rest of the officers? Weren’t they your friends and comrades?” her father asked dispassionately.

“They-they were going to kill me... what choice did I have?” Sarah sobbed as she remembered the corpses of the security officers who she’d killed in her escape. “It-it-it was me or them!”

“And I guess we both know who you’d choose then don’t we?” James asked her with a sardonically raised eyebrow.

Sarah stared at the man’s face for a moment before trying to turn away, only to find that her head had been secured in place... as had the rest of her body.

Looming over her was a blood covered raider who smiled down at her with a broken toothed grin.

“Well, aren't you a pretty thing,” he asked, bending down to run a finger across her face. “But you know, I always prefer mine with a few good... cuts.” the raider drew a combat knife out of the side of his armor. “I’m going to make you bleed bitch. Then I’m going to fuck you raw.” As he said so he began to lower the knife towards her forehead.

Sarah stared at him, unable to move, unable to even scream as the knife made its way towards her. Images of the corpse in the Super Duper Mart passed through her mind and she began to shudder as revolting thoughts came unbidden to her mind.

A sudden explosion of darkness suddenly caught the raider in the ribs and he was thrown to the side, crumpled and mangled. Sarah looked around, anxiously awaiting what new terror awaited her.

Instead the world simply faded into black.

Wandering Moon Chapter 4: Breakfast

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Sarah awoke feeling strangely... refreshed for the first time since she’d left the vault two and a half days ago. She attempted to stretch her arms up, but found that they were covered by one of Luna’s soft feathery wings as was the rest of her chest. Sarah glanced over at the slumbering alicorn’s head, and noticed that the mare’s mane was slightly more... shinier than it had been yesterday... she was unsure of what to make of that.

The woman was content to simply lie there for a moment, Luna’s wing along with her fur and body heat were extremely comfortable to lie among, but after several moments the woman felt the urgent need to attend to her body’s urges. Slowly and carefully, doing her best not to disturb the slumbering alicorn, the woman slid out from beneath Luna’s wing and headed across the hall towards the other bathroom.

That done, she returned to the other bathroom where Luna was still slumbering.

“What am I going to do with you?” Sarah asked rhetorically in a quiet whisper. “I don’t think Simms will mind you staying in my house... but I still know nothing about you... or how you suddenly gained the ability to speak English.”

The woman shook her head, and walked over to where her hunting rifle was still leaning, grabbing it and beginning to clean the gun. Polishing the wood with a small can of polish that she’d snagged off one of raider along with a surprisingly clean rag she’d found in the back of the store.

As she polished, her injured shoulder began to ache dully and Sarah grimaced at the pain. She’d been lucky that the bullet had gone cleanly through, missing the bone and making it a much less difficult healing job done simply with a stimpack. However, even it it was well on its way to being healed, the wound would trouble her for a day or so; there was only so much that ‘modern’ medicine could do. She could’ve always taken a Med-X... but there were obvious problems with that, and Sarah didn’t want to become dependent on the chem.

She finished with the rifle, and drew her trusty 10mm pistol from her belt pouch and began to repeat the process with the weapon that she’d owned for most of her adult life... it had been a gift from the Overseer actually... on the day that she’d completed from the Vault’s security officer’s training course. Sarah felt another shiver of regret, but pushed it down and away. She had more important things to think about then her past... like her future.

Aimlessly, she pulled out the small pair of headphones built into her Pip-Boy and inserted one into her ear before turning on the radio and tuning it to Galaxy News Radio. The signal was a little scratchy but she was still able to make out the sound of Three Dog’s voice. Sarah had been rather skeptical of the man at first, but the more she listened to his voice the more sure she was that, while he may not have been the most...subtle person in D.C. he at least had his heart in the right place.

Hey everybody, this is Three Dog, your friendly neighborhood disc jockey. What's a disc? Hell if I know, but I'm gonna keep talking anyway.” he began with his usual joke. “So, not too long ago I told you kiddies that someone got out of that hole in the ground north of Megaton right? Well, it turns out that that someone just so happened to pay old Three Dog a visit!

Sarah’s eyes widened in surprise and she jammed the other earphone in her ear.

His name is James, and he’s a pretty cool guy,” Three Dog continued, oblivious to Sarah’s reaction. “But poor old James had been in that hole for a long time, kids, and didn’t know what was what, that’s where I came in. I told James all about the Good Fight and about all the different factions out there in this wild wasteland of ours before sending him on his merry way.

The woman knew that Three Dog continued talking, but she didn’t hear anything that he’d said. Instead she was sitting in the plastic chair, a blank look on her face as she processed what she’d just heard. Then, she pulled the headphones out of her ears, quickly retracting them back into the Pip-Boy and stood up, the rifle jumping to her hands.

She had a goal now, she knew where her father, James, had gone, and she was going to go after him. And if she was going to do that, then she needed to make sure that her bag was packed.

Luna awoke to find Sarah kneeling on the floor of the bathroom, her bag opened on the ground and a dozen items were scattered about as the woman’s hands moved with expert speed among them. However, the mare’s main attention was given over to the fact that she felt... extremely dirty. She looked down at her forelegs, and saw that they were still stained with the blood and gore of the raider that she’d stomped to death the day before.

Bile began to rise in her stomach, but she fought it down and stood up from the matresses. Sarah was so engrossed with her sorting that she didn’t notice the alicorn, something that painfully reminded Luna of Clover’s sometimes obsessive need to make sure that things were ‘just right’. Not wanting to disturb her new... friend... Luna began to sneak past the clearly distracted human and made it to the bathroom’s exit. She made it successfully, and quickly crossed the hall to where she had seen another bathroom the evening before.

Once inside, the alicorn took care of pressing bodily matters, after several minutes of trying to figure out how to use the strange upright toilet that was very different from those of Equestria. After which she went over to the sink, turning on the tap and putting down the stopper to allow it to fill with water. Much to her disgust, the water was far from fresh, instead coming out as a dirty brown color, more akin to waste then actual water intended for cleaning. Still... water was water and she had to wash the blood off of herself now.

When did we become so squeamish? Nightmare inquired disdainfully.

When we are not together things such as this are most... unpleasant and I am unable to ignore them, Luna said as she lifted a hoof up into the uncomfortably high sink and sank her hoof into the freezing cold dirty water before she began to scrub at it with her other hoof. It was a long, cold process. The dried blood seemed extremely persistent to stay on her fur, but eventually after several minutes of being soaked in the dirty water Luna withdrew both of her forelegs from the sink.

She wasn’t exactly what you would call satisfied with the results, but she and... Tia had put up with far worse things during their fight with Discord.

Her sister’s face flashed through the alicorn’s mind and she felt a wave of bitter anger course through her veins... accompanied by a great sense of sadness and... regret. Were it not for her sister, then Luna would not be in her current situation, if not for Tia then she would have been the one receiving sonnets and the like from their subjects.

For her entire life, she’d been second fiddle to her elder sister. She’d never known either their father or mother, but she was certain that Tia must have been their favorite child. After all, how could she fail to have been? With her perfect white coat and flowing rainbow mane, Celestia was far more beautiful than the likes of she. Luna glared into her reflection in the dirty, cracked mirror.

Her pale blue coat and blue eyes did nothing but glare back at her. She snorted, and looked away again. Turning to find Sarah leaning against the doorframe of the bathroom.

“Good morning,” Luna said, feeling a bit awkward.

“And the same to you,” Sarah replied, equally uncomfortable as they both suddenly realized how little they knew about each other. “So... you hungry?”

“Famished actually,” Luna replied, and her stomach all but roared in agreement. Her face flushed a little and she redirected her gaze to the floor.

Sarah raised an eyebrow slightly and a small smile crossed her face. “Well... I don’t know if you’ll like it, but I’ve got some spare food on me. I mean, it’s only some 200 year old chips and a few snack cakes but it’s better than nothing right?”

The mare raised her head in surprise and stared at the woman, clearly shocked “That sounds... “ she started to say and then shook her head. “Thank you, Sarah. Thank you very much.”

Sarah chuckled slightly. “Hey, I know that they’re not the best thing in the world but-” she paused in mid sentence and a little of the laughter in her tone died. “-they’re not the best thing in the world,” she finished lamely and Luna could tell that she was obviously thinking of something different.

“Do not worry... even if these ‘chips’ and ‘snack cakes’ are 200 years old then they cannot be worse than some of the field rations I have made do with over the years,” Luna replied. “Though... must we eat them in the privy?”

Sarah’s face broke into a small smile as a bit of her laughter returned and she let out a small giggle. “No, heh, we don’t.”

Sarah watched Luna’s face as she nibbled experimentally on the edge of a fancy lady snack cake. The woman was in the process of eating her own morning meal, a fairly bland can of 200 year old cram, with a metal fork. They were sitting at a table that the woman had dragged from the back room along with a pair of chairs. Luna had opted to ignore the chair as it wasn’t the right size for her and had simply sat down beside the table.

After several more miniutes of silent nibbling the alicorn finally bit fully into the cake, and her eyebrows rose in surprise.

“This is... very good,” Luna said after several moments of chewing.

“Yeah, they’re one of my favorites,” Sarah agreed with a small grin

“And what is it that you’re eating?” the alicorn inquired curiously. Sarah looked down at the processed meat and wished she hadn’t, it was easier to forget what it was if you weren’t looking at it.

“Cram... it’s a kind of meat-thing that they made from before the war... it’s lasted 200 years,” she said uncomfortably.

Luna frowned at her. “War? What war?”

“You’re not frightened of the fact that I eat meat?” Sarah asked in return with a raised eyebrow.

“Hardly,” Luna replied with a shake of her head. “We’ve fought beside many a griffin in our time so we are not so easily scared by it like many of our little ponies.”

“Okay...” Sarah said with a tiny nod, filing away the information for later while also noting that the mare had once again referred to herself using we.

“What of our question though?” Luna inquired. “What is this war that you speak of?”

Sarah frowned. How to explain the war...

“Well, you see... 200 years ago there were two countries at war,” she began slowly as Luna continued to nibble on the cake. “The United States of America, which is where we are, and China, which is across the ocean. Now... I don’t remember the background reasons that the two countries wanted to go to war... but it all boils down to the fact that the Chinese were communists and and the Americans were capitalist... which meant that it was something about the way the two governments ran the countries.”

“I see,” Luna said with a small nod. “Go on.”

“Well... one day the Chinese invaded Alaska, which was a part of the United States and the United States didn’t like that so they sent their own troops to kill the Chinese invaders... from my understanding it was a really long fight,” Sarah paused for a second to take a bite of cram. “Eventually it got to the point where the two countries couldn’t wait to end the battle and the war the old fashioned way so they launched nukes at each other... and here we are 200 years later still picking up the pieces.”

Luna stared at her incomprehensibly.

“You... you mean to tell me that it has been 200 years since these ‘nukes’ as you called them were launched and your country has still not rebuilt itself?” Luna asked, nearly speechless.

“Pretty much,” Sarah grunted.

“But... how? How is such a thing possible? Surely these ‘nukes’ could not have caused nearly that much damage!” Luna exclaimed.

“You haven’t been outside yet have you?” Sarah asked her humorlessly.

“No... I have not,” Luna said slowly.

“Well... I’m not going to bother explaining it to you... it explains itself,” Sarah said, then she sighed. “Luna... do you want to travel with me?”

Caught off guard by the sudden change in topic Luna took a few seconds before she opened her mouth to answer.

“Do you not want me? I know of nowhere else to go... I am a stranger here in this.... Wasteland as you put it,” Luna said slowly, and Sarah caught a hint of both anger and fear in her eyes.

“No, no it’s not that at all,” Sarah hastily corrected her. “I’m asking that because where I’m going is... bound to be dangerous and I don’t want you to get hurt.”

Luna stared at her in the eyes for a moment and Sarah had the oddest feeling that the mare was gazing into her mind. Then the mare’s gaze relented and she smiled slightly, as if pleased with either the answer or what she’d seen in the woman’s eyes.

“While your worry is noted and very much appreciated, it is unwarranted,” Luna assured her. “I am very much capable of taking care of myself. We will gladly accompany you despite whatever dangers may stand before us.”

Sarah nodded slightly. “Alright... so... now that that’s settled... I suppose you have other questions right?”

Luna smiled, and nodded in return. “Yes... yes I do. For starters, what is that... tube that you have on your back, and how is it operated?”

“Wait, you’re an alien, and you’ve never heard of guns before?” Sarah asked in confusion. “I mean, I thought you’d have some laser things at the very least.”

Luna wrinkled her muzzle. “No, I haven’t the faintest idea of what you are talking about... the closest our home has to these ‘guns’ are the repeating crossbows of the griffins.”

The woman across from her raised an eyebrow slightly at that, but put down her now empty can of cram and took her hunting rifle off of her back. “This is a hunting rifle, you put the bullet-” she drew a piece of spherical metal out of one of her many pockets. “-which is a small piece of lead lined with copper-” she inserted the bullet into the gun’s port. “-and then when you want to fire it you pull down on the trigger down here,” she held the rifle’s trigger up for Luna to see.

As Luna examined it, Sarah could see the cogs in the mare’s heads turning. “But... then how does it produce the explosion?”

Sarah smiled, having expected the question. “Well you see, at the end of the bullet is a bit of gunpowder which is ignited when I pull the trigger and the tip of the bullet is shot out while the casing is expended, you should cover your ears,” she added. Luna quickly did so and Sarah stood up and sighted at a can on one of the shelves and pulled the trigger.


The gun’s report echoed throughout the empty store and Luna’s eyes widened. Sarah shouldered the rifle again and picked up a conical piece of metal from the floor and tossed it to Luna who caught it in her strange glowing aura.

“And that’s all there is too it?” Luna asked as she examined the warm piece of inert metal.

“Basically,” Sarah replied. “Now; it’s time for you to answer some questions of mine,” she stated.

Luna looked away for a moment. “Ask your questions,” she said slowly.

Sarah raised an eyebrow at her reaction but proceeded. “Okay... so how did you learn English? The language that we’re speaking right now; because you definitely weren’t when I first met you.”

Luna looked back at her and a scarlet blush crossed the mare’s face. “Ah... yes. About that... I may have invaded your mind for the sole purpose of discovering your language.”

Sarah frowned at her. “Would you run that by me again, please?” she asked the mare with slightly narrowed eyes.

The alicorn gulped uncomfortably for a moment before replying. “Well... I used my magic to probe the language center of your brain... I know that it was horribly invasive of me... and ordinarily we wouldn’t have done it but... I was angry with you.... because you had killed that... man,” Luna explained haltingly. “We... are very sorry.”

Sarah gave her a raised eyebrow. “That’s... fine I guess... no harm done.... I think,” she said slowly.” So when you say magic... you mean like actual wizards and witches kind of thing right?” she asked. “Shooting fireballs out of your hand and calling down lightning... right?”

Luna nodded an affirmative. “Indeed, all magic energy is directed through the horn and sent out of it via the point,” she brought her head closer to Sarah so that she could inspect it. The woman ran a curious finger on the horn, and Luna withstood the urge to twitch as she touched the sensitive magical instrument. Sarah noticed the look of concentration on her face and withdrew her hand.

“Okay...and you use your ‘magic’ to control your sword too?” she inquired.

“Indeed, her name is Daybreaker,” Luna replied as she drew the sword and levitated it over for Sarah to examine, wincing slightly in pain. it seemed that she was still not up to 100% as far as her magic went.

The woman gently ran her fingers over the, blade, it was cold to the touch and even a small touch to one of its edges pierced her skin and she began to bleed slightly from a thin cut. Sarah put the finger in her mouth and sucked at it gently, discovering that the cold sensation of the blade had traveled to her finger. Even though she’d withdrawn her hand her eyes still gazed over the silver sword, taking in the faint moon symbol engraved into the crossguard as well as the the small sapphire embedded in the hilt of the 48 inch blade.

“She is a fine blade, and we wield her well,” Luna continued though she looked a bit concerned about the cut. “Do not worry, the coldness and bleeding will depart soon. She is heavily enchanted but anypony who creates a blade intended to kill no matter how small the injury dealt is an idiot. And we are not an idiot.”

That made Sarah nod slightly, though she eyed Luna with a slightly raised eyebrow. She then began to get up and grabbed her bag and threw it over her shoulder, gesturing towards the door. Luna nodded and followed her.

“Okay... so last question; why do you keep referring to yourself as we?” Sarah asked

Luna’s eyes narrowed for a moment as she thought about the answer. “Let’s just say that...”

She was cut off by the sudden sight of a gun pressing against Sarah’s forehead as she opened the door. Sarah’s eyes widened as she found herself face to face with the barrel of a shotgun while an imposing black man in black combat armor leered at her. His brown eyes glared into hers and Sarah’s skin began to crawl as she felt him mentally undress her. He was flanked by two others, all of whom were similarly armed though she noticed that one had a laser rifle.

“Sarah Summers?” the first man asked in a rough gravelly voice.

“Yes, what is this about?” Sarah asked as she nervously as the cold metal pressed against her forehead, fully aware that they were awful last words.

Mr. Burke sends his regards,” the man replied with a dastardly smirk.

Wandering Moon Chapter 5: Postbellum

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A certain purple unicorn couldn’t sleep. She’d been tossing and turning within her bed for hours, and yet sleep continued to elude her. Finally, with a single explosive sigh the mare threw the sheets off of herself with a simple application of magic.

Clover the Clever got up from her bed with a sigh. It had been a month since she had been responsible for banishing Luna from their realm, and the stress of the act had kept her from sleeping soundly since. What she needed, she decided, was a nice walk through the Castle of Everfree.

Celestia had ordered the creation of a new capital city, one more defensible than the current one. Clover wanted to spend as much of her remaining time in the old place as possible, dreading the day that she would have to move away from it.

In many ways, the castle was more of her home than anywhere else, even her original home... which had been lost to Discord’s destructive decade long rampage against the laws of all things right and harmonious. At the thought of the draconequus Clover shivered, she had been kept close to him during his reign, as had most upper echelon unicorns and there were things that he’d done which she would never forget.

One of which was the act of creating the thestrals, the bat-ponies who had made up the majority of Luna’s army. The original transformation had been horrifying to view, he’d taken several hundred captive ponies and begun to work his chaotic magic on them, slowly, and painfully, morphing their bodies into twisted mockeries of the pegasi that they’d once been. As the ponies lay screaming, their bodies mutating and twisting the twisted monster had simply laughed and offered Clover a glass of chocolate milk... which she was ashamed to say she’d accepted out of necessity.

Clover frowned and shook the thoughts from her mind as she began to walk down the aged stone of the castle floors, a dozen memories springing up with every hoofstep. There she was, arguing playfully with Luna about some magical theory, and there, enjoying simply sitting beside her friend as they looked down at the young trees of Everfree from the heights of the second story of the castle.

The mare paused at one of the windows and looked at her reflection in its shiny, reflective surface. The eyes that looked back at her were tired and old beyond her humble thirty years. With a slightly irritated frown the mare blew a lock of her purple mane out of her eye, noting how the pink stripe stubbornly refused to hide amongst its darker sisters, as usual.

She sighed and continued on her way, doing her best to ignore the ghosts scampering about through her mind like gleeful foals. Much to her annoyance, she’d picked up an escort supplied by one of the palace guards who should have known better. She turned to give the blonde stallion an icy glare, but he ignored it and continued to follow her. Clover knew that he was simply there doing his job, but did he have to be so... so... so damn obvious about it?

At least the mares knew to stay out of sight, but the stallions all seemed to think that she was in need of a strapping source of ‘moral support’ who would be easily visible should she break down into tears. Clover rolled her eyes. She knew that that wasn’t the only reason, there was also something about protecting her in case of an attack, or in case she fell asleep somewhere along her walk and was in need of somepony to return her to her room unharmed.

Oh well, at least he’s not talking, Clover thought to herself grouchily. Most of them can’t carry any conversation worth a damn.

Yes, she acknowledged that she was being unfair to him and the others like him, but at the moment she found herself simply not caring a great deal. After several more minutes of walking through the ghost filled hallway with the annoying imbecile following sedately behind her, the mare entered into the Castle Garden.

Clover sighed again, this is the place that she would miss the most... the sprawling garden was well maintained by an army of gardeners and planters who kept everything in shape while also allowing it to spread naturally. The end result was that the garden resembled the forest outside in many ways, except for much more orderly and with the occasional cluster of flowers growing along the edge of the path.

Soft moonlight washed over the mare through breaks in the canopy and Clover simply let her hooves carry her where they would as her mind continued to think of her lost friend. Luna had been... the one pony outside of Celestia and her mentor Starswirl the Bearded who she could really talk to. Now, one was banished, one was far too busy with reassembling the kingdom as well as creating her new city, and the last was... unfit to speak too. She sighed and lowered her head as she walked.

Luna wouldn’t want me to be thinking like this, A quiet part of her mind observed softly. The mare snorted derisively; of course Luna wouldn’t want her to think like this. However, that didn’t really help her, now did it?

She continued walking for several minutes, her mind simply wandering, much like her hooves. Eventually, she looked up to see that she was standing in front of an ancient white oak tree, it had been there before the garden, and it would most likely be there long after it. Coincidentally enough, it had been Luna’s favorite spot in the garden. Clover sat down on her haunches and closed her eyes, her head bent towards the tree.

Even my hooves lead me to her... the mare thought to herself. Why couldn’t there have been another way? Why did she have to be lost to that parasite...? she had asked herself these questions hundreds, if not thousands of times, and yet she was no closer to a real answer then she had been a month ago. She sat there in silence with her eyes closed for almost fifteen minutes before a noise from behind her caught her attention.


Ordinarily it would have been undetectable, but with the current lack of noise the sound of the twig behind her breaking was unmistakable. The mare whirled with angry eyes to find that the stallion guard had been in the process of walking towards her.

“Can I not get ten minutes of silence without you overbearing eunuchs breathing down my neck!” she shouted at him. The guard froze where he was, eyes wide in surprise at her sudden outburst.

“I-I’m sorry Archmage, you seemed to be asleep,” he stuttered.

“Well I obviously wasn’t,” she snarled at him. “And now my good mood is gone.”

“With respect ma’am, it hasn’t existed in over a month,” the guard replied.

Clover simply glared at him and shook her head before turning her back on him and continuing to walk through the garden. However this time she was unable to simply wander, the garden, like the castle before it had lost its sense of peace and had been instead overrun with ghosts.

Everywhere she looked she saw Luna or her face. Sometimes smiling, sometimes frowning thoughtfully, sometimes simply angry. Clover growled under her breath as the ghosts silently watched her on her way through the greenery. The ever annoying guard easily kept pace with her even as she strived to move beyond him to the point that she was sprinting down the path.

No matter how fast she galloped, the guard stayed tirelessly behind her until Clover was forced to collapse exhausted against the ancient oak tree. They’d somehow managed to go in a complete circle. A great, tired sob broke from within the mare’s frame, and she began to weep. It was too much, all just... too much. She’d lost Luna, her rescuer, her friend, her... secret love. And now here she was, the great Archmage Clover the Clever, reduced to crying against a tree like a school filly.

As she sobbed she distantly sensed the guard take off his helmet and gently grab onto her, allowing her to cry into his shoulder. She stayed like that for what seemed like an hour, her nose running and her the fur around her eyes moist and stained with fresh tears. When she finally stopped she pushed the guard away and glared at him.

“I hate you,” she said in a low voice. The guard simply shrugged and retrieved his helmet from where it had been lying on the ground.

“That’s your choice, ma’am,” he replied.

Clover snorted and shook her head to clear it began the long walk back to her chambers. The guard, as always, followed behind her.

High from her balcony, Celestia watched what had happened and sighed sadly. Clover had always been... attached to Luna... and during the months of the war the poor mare had begun to splinter under the pressure of having to fight against the mare that she....loved. Celestia had observed Clover’s attachment to her sister long before, not long after they’d rescued her from Discord. Unfortunately for Clover, Luna had either never noticed, or never returned her feelings.

Celestia had never been sure which, but she knew that it had always eaten away at her archmage. And then... to be the one who banished her... it must have destroyed her inside, despite the coldness with which she’d committed the act. For close to a month now, Clover had been holding her feelings inside of herself, refusing to shed even a tear. That, along with the worry that the poor mare might commit suicide coupled with the ever present possibility of an assassin, had been why Celestia had ordered for there to be a guard watching over her at all times.

The solar alicorn let out another sigh and turned back to the stack of magically weighed down paperwork on the glass table that adorned the balcony. A nearly invisible white light hovered above the work, allowing only someone with the vision of an alicorn or a thestral to even hope to read it. Celestia looked at the first paper and frowned.

It was yet another noble screaming for blood over the actions that the thestrals, along with several of the other nobles had taken by supporting her sister in the war. The mare did the logical thing, she levitated it into the air, and then burned it to ash before letting it scatter to the wind. Celestia would not allow her ponies to suffer any further for her mistakes.

It had been her fault that Luna had turned into that monster, through a combination of negligence and obliviousness she had allowed the... parasite to grab hold of her sister’s mind and body, twisting them into the despicable image that had been raised an army Tartarus bent on conquering Celestia and bringing about ‘eternal night’.

There had been times over the last month that Celestia had been so angry with herself that she’d found herself contemplating the very fate that she was having Clover watched for... but in the end she’d found she couldn’t. There was simply too much riding on Celestia for the mare to really do it.

Without her, Equestria would fall into chaos and ruin, maybe even enough to release Discord once again. That was not something that Celestia would ever allow to happen again, in fact, she would sooner die than see that monster loosed on the world once more.

Turning her mind from unhappy subjects, the alicorn returned her gaze down to the paperwork before her. Next up, a request by the nobles to increase the taxes on the farmers. Celestia’s teeth ground together and this paper met the same fate as the last one, though this one she tore apart first. Even though the ones asking for her permission to wreak vengeance on Luna’s ex-followers made her more angry, she received far more of these requests.


She mentally sighed, sitting before her was a missive from one of the border posts, the Dominion was acting up again, pressing at her borders in their ever present search for gems. Carefully dipping her quil, one of her own white feathers in fact, in the appropriate ink pot she quickly scrawled a reply.

Only respond if suitably provoked, but if push comes to shove, shove harder

-Queen Celestia,

She wrote swiftly before pushing it away to dry and then moving onto the next one.

It seemed that the griffins had sensed Equestria’s weakness as well, and there were ‘bandits’ making probing runs at the outer holds. Luckily, thanks to the war, an expression that Celestia never would’ve thought she’d use, the holds and townships were all well defended and more than capable of holding off the ‘bandits’ until help arrived.

“Why is my reward for winning a war nothing but war?” Celestia murmured to herself softly.

Because sister, that is what you get, Luna’s voice seemed to whisper back at her from the shadows of the night. The mare did her best to ignore the imagined words and turned back to the paperwork. She’d been at it since her supper, and it was now well past two in the morning so the solar diarch was feeling understandably exhausted.

She was however, not exhausted enough not to notice the sound of somepony landing behind her. With an irritated growl Celestia turned, preparing to find yet another messenger there.

What she saw however almost drew an instinctive blast of magic from her. Crouched right in front of her was a thestral holding a knife. It took Celestia all of a few seconds to react but just as she was about to bring her magic to bear on him, the stallion inclined his head, and dropped his knife to the floor, kicking it over to her.

“My Queen,” he said softly and demurely. “I have come to surrender myself unto you for judgment.”

The thestral was obviously young, no more then a teanager by Celestia’s reckoning. A pair of leathery batwings sprung from his dirty grey furred sides. A messy dark blue mane adorned his head along with a pair of sharp pointed bat ears. Dark golden eyes gazed at her fiercely, but the mare noticed that despite the ferocity of the gaze, he appeared to be exhausted. Celestia stared at him for several seconds before she stood up from her seat and walked over to him.

“What is your name young one?” Celestia asked quietly.

“Moonshadow, My Queen,” he murmured.

“And why have you come here, armed as such?” She asked, picking up the dagger in her magical aura.

“To seek your judgment,” he replied softly.

“For what crime?” Celestia asked him.

“For the crime of my parents, My Queen,” the thestral told her.

“And what crime did your parents commit?” the solar alicorn asked as she bent down closer to him.

“They turned against you, your majesty. They broke their promises of fealty and died fighting for your sister. I am all that is left of my family, and I offer you my life in reparations for the crimes they committed,” he said all of this calmly, and Celestia had the darkest feeling that he’d practiced it ahead of time.

It broke Celestia’s heart. Without a word, and much to his surprise Celestia lunged forward and pulled him into a tight hug, drawing her wings around the ‘child’. Moonshadow stiffened at the unexpected touch, but once he realized that there was no harmful intent in the mare’s actions he acquitted and allowed himself to be subjected to the mare’s embrace. After around a minute, Celestia released him.

“There, that is your judgment,” Celestia told him.

“But- but my parents- we-they-I-” he sputtered, clearly having expected her to kill him.

“Oh my poor little pony,” Celestia murmured softly as she bent down to nuzzle him softly across the cheek. “You are so confused.”

“I-I don’t understand, I-I expected that you-that you would kill me!” Moonshadow stuttered.

“Whyever would I do that?” Celestia asked rhetorically. “While the actions of your sire and dame were most certainly unfortunate, there is no reason for you to suffer anything more for their mistakes. It appears that you have suffered quite a lot already,” she observed gesturing to his obviously tired, tear streaked eyes along with the disarrayed mane and dirty coat.

Moonshadow looked down at the floor. “Then... what will I do? I had planned... to not be here any longer... I have no home left, no family.”

Celestia gazed over the piteous colt sadly. “Well then, perhaps you should find yourself a new family,” she said with a small smile.

“But-but who would take me in? Most of my kind are having enough trouble feeding the children that they already have and I doubt that anypony would want me!” Moonshadow exclaimed, an edge of panic sinking into his voice.

Celestia bent down and nuzzled him gently again. “You miss my meaning young one,” she observed with a small smile. “I meant to ask; how would you like to become my ward?”

The blank look of surprise on his face was almost enough to make Celestia giggle, however she doubted that would be a productive thing to do. Instead she simply smiled at him and patted the chair beside her own.

“Sit here young one, watch me work, and when I am done we will find you some good food and a warm bed,” Celestia told him.

Moonshadow was about to reply, but his stomach beat him to the punch and let out an almost shockingly loud roar. Celestia was unable to withhold a giggle this time and Moonshadow’s face blushed scarlet and he looked at the ground.

“Or perhaps you would prefer if we simply went to get you some food immediately?” Celestia asked with a small smile as she looked at him with amusement.

“I-yes, yes I would,” the colt said with a small nod.

Celestia smiled and walked over to him, wrapping a wing around his body. “Well then, let’s go see if the kitchen can prepare you a midnight snack of some kind.”

Clover the Clever was emotionally and physically spent, she lay silently on her bed, her pillow wet with her own tears and her blanket thrown disorderly around her. The mare’s horn flickered gently in the darkness, acting to both create light, and to ward off the darkness within her mind.

Luna was gone.

That one thought whirled through her head over and over again in a seemingly endless loop.

Luna was gone.

The more she tried to ignore it, or smother down the thought the stronger it came back to her.

Luna was gone.

The thought hammered into her again and the mare gasped again and another sob surfaced from within her and she buried herself in the pillow yet again.

Luna. Is Gone.

Wandering Moon Chapter 6: Hunted

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With a satisfied sneer at his one liner the mercenary, Buck, pulled down the trigger and sent a blast of buckshot into the woman’s head, or he would’ve anyways if not for the fact that he wasn’t able to pull down the trigger. He tried for several more fruitless seconds, but that was all the time that Sarah needed. Before Buck realized what was happening he was lying on the ground, gasping in pain as a very sharp ache from his groin pulsed through his body. Levi and Tug tried to pull down the triggers to their own weapons, but they found themselves similarly incapable of doing so.

Luna’s face was set in a harsh expression, a cross between determination and pain as she sent Daybreaker flying towards one of the two mercs. The longsword passed easily through the man’s throat as a stream of hot blood poured from the gash. Sarah meanwhile had drawn her 10mm pistol, and fired two shots at the last standing merc’s head. The first shot grazed the tip of his helmet with minimal damage, and the second shot went wide.

Having by this point figured out that his gun would no longer prove useful, the last merc dropped it and drew his combat knife, charging at Sarah. The woman’s eyes widened and she lurched backwards, just barely avoiding a slash intended to tear open her stomach. Even so, the blade caught the edge of her vault suit and tore easily through the fabric. Sarah fell to her knees and rolled to the side, coming up in a crouch-like she’d been trained to, and fired a three round burst at the merc.

The first one missed, flying right past his ear, but the second and the third punched him in the chest. If he felt any discomfort the merc didn’t outwardly show it except for an annoyed grunt. He sneered contemptuously at the woman as he prepared to finish her off, but he suddenly froze in place, a long piece of impossibly cold steel jutting from his chest. He had time to look down at it, and let out a horrified gurgle before Luna pulled Daybreaker from within him and let the man fall to the ground.

Sarah panted, but gave the alicorn a smile which she returned. Then, the woman turned to the downed merc who was still clutching at his crotch.

“I am surprised that they do not have armor down there,” Luna observed as she began to clean the blood from Daybreaker’s blade by rubbing it against the dead merc’s hair. “Most soldiers in Equestria know the importance of genital protection.”

“Yeah, you’d think so wouldn’t you,” Sarah agreed as she crouched beside the man and put her 10mm against his ear. “Alright, I’m going to ask you some questions, and you’re going to give me some answers,” she told him in a steely voice.

“Or?” the man asked, his voice coming out in a soprano.

“Or I shoot you in the head, I thought that was obvious,” Sarah deadpanned.

“You don’t have the guts,” the merc growled. Sarah looked at the man with a puzzled expression on her face for a moment and then she adjusted her pistol slightly, and pulled the trigger. The bullet ripped through the man’s ear and he screamed loudly as a crimson river of blood laced out of his newly holed ear.

“Now then,” she began, her voice strangely businesslike. “You’re going to answer my questions.”

The merc grunted painfully but moved his head in an assenting sort of way.

“Good,” Sarah replied. “Now, you said that Mister Burke sent you; why is he after me?”

“You... you beat the shit out of him; what did you expect him to do?” the merc asked, his voice pained.

“I expected him to get the message, and leave me alone!” Sarah snarled angrily.

The mercenary began to cackle despite the pain. “You actually thought that? What are you, stupid?”

Sarah growled. “Okay, so are you the only team after me?”

“Fuck no, we’re Talon Company, you bitch. That means that we’re going to be hunting you across the Wasteland until we bring Burke your head,” he told her. The woman’s eyes narrowed and she bit her lip, an edge of nervousness crossing her face.

“Is there any other way for me to get out of this?” she asked.

“No, we’re Talon Company, no refunds, no bribes, no one rescinds their order; you’re a marked woman Sarah Summers and we’ll hunt you down no matter how many of us you kill,” the man growled.

“Well in that case,” Sarah muttered, bringing the 10mm back to the side of the man’s head. “I guess you’ll be the first.”


Sarah let out a sigh and got up from where she was crouched and reloaded her pistol. Luna looked over at her with a worried look on her face.

“So... you are to be hunted?” Luna asked quietly.

“Yeah... looks like it...god dammit,” Sarah growled. “This is bad Luna, this is really, really bad!” her voice had become an almost panicked shriek.

Luna walked over to her and put her head on the woman’s shoulder. “Calm yourself Sarah, we dealt with these... ‘Talon Company’ men, we can deal with the rest as they come.”

“We, we got lucky this time!” Sarah exclaimed. “What if they get us while we’re sleeping, or when we’re not expecting it, we only survived this time because that idiot stopped to chat first!” The woman’s growing panic was making her voice become shrill and painful to listen too.

The alicorn sighed. “We will find a way out of this, do not worry Sarah,” she stated, doing her best to keep her voice level and calm.

“There is no way out!” Sarah exclaimed. “Don’t you get it? They’re hunting me!”

The woman was all but screaming now. Luna paused for a moment to consider her conversation options before settling on one. Before Sarah had time to react, Luna’s hoof shot out and delivered a ringing, painful slap across the face. The mare had been careful not to put too much strength into the blow, well aware that if she wasn’t careful that she could break Sarah’s jaw and or teeth, but the slap did its job and Sarah quieted.

“Better?” Luna inquired as Sarah gently massaged her face.

“Umm... better,” Sarah agreed slowly. “Oww, that hurt, Luna.”

“It was intended to,” Luna replied simply without a trace of a smile. “I hope that I caused no lasting harm?”

“No... not really,” Sarah muttered, still massaging her cheek. “Though I think it might leave a bruise.”

Luna nodded. “We apologize, but you seemed... otherwise unreachable,” she said slowly.

The woman nodded faintly and then sat down tiredly on the ground beside the fresh corpse as her adrenaline rush wore off. “It’s... no big deal. You did the right thing,” she replied.

“So, what now?” Luna inquired.

“We... strip these guys and take their armor, weapons, and ammo... and then we head for GNR,” Sarah answered. Moira can wait, I’m sure she’ll understand, she probably won’t even notice how long it took, she thought to herself.

Luna looked at the bodies of the dead, slightly disturbed by the prospect of stealing from them, but then she remembered who they had been, and her doubts vanished like the morning dew. The two ‘women’ worked quickly, gathering up both combat shotguns, several dozen shotgun shells, three knives, an odd boxy rifle which had never been fired, and last but not least the three suits of combat armor.

Luna watched curiously as Sarah removed her vault suit, revealing pale white skin beneath as well as two strips of cloth that covered her her chest as well as her waist. Then she placed the torn vault suit on the ground beside her.

The mare continued to watch as Sarah cut several of the armored plates off of the Talon armor with the knife, and placed them over several vital spots on the vault suit. Then she clucked her tongue and took an odd oblong object out of her bag and began to spread a clear substance from within the object over the plates before turning them over and firmly pressing them onto the spots of the suit that she’d selected. When she was done she stood up and stretched her back.

“There, that should work for a while,” Sarah declared happily as she tugged one of her arms behind her back.

“Would it not have been simpler to just wear their armor?” Luna inquired, a faintly amused smile on her face at the woman’s actions.

“Yeah, it would’ve been, but... this suit reminds me of home,” Sarah replied with a small sigh. “We just have to wait a few minutes for the Wonderglue to dry and then we can get going.”

“Alright...” Luna said slowly as her eyes looked over the woman’s pale mostly naked body. “Why are you so pale underneath your armor? Surely you do not wear it at all hours do you?”

“Not really... it’s because I was raised in a Vault underground,” Sarah explained before looking down with a dark frown on her face.

“Oh...” Luna said, not really sure what to say to that. Instead, she decided to look around and really take in the landscape and was utterly shocked by what she saw.

The unnatural, cracked brown stone that they were standing on was littered with dilapidated metal objects that almost looked like carriages. A large one to her left was large, red, and very imposing. The ‘carriages’ however were the least of her concern. As she continued to gaze, she caught sight of what must have once been a great city... only to see that it had fallen so far into disrepair that it was crumbling into dust. Directly in front of her was what once must have been a truly great causeway, but large holes dotted it, and there were even entire sections which had collapsed.

The mare shuddered at the sight of the sheer destruction on display before her, including several blackened and decayed plants which were growing in large pots along with a number of severely twisted, long dead trees. Luna reached out for some of the natural magic from the land and came to a shocking discovery. The land was dead, both magically and physically.

She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t sensed it before she had stopped to look around...but there wasn’t a single spark of magic anywhere within a hundred miles. Luna paused for a moment as the implications of what she was discovering hit her. Magic flowed through the land of Equestria, it was not only what powered the spells that mages of every species, but also what kept the world around them moving. Indeed, not many Equestrian species would be able to survive without magic.

If not for our alicornhood... Luna mentally murmured to Nightmare.

We would be unable to access any magic here whatsoever, Nightmare finished with a mental scowl. Thankfully, we will not have that issue... though our reserves will refill much slower than they normally would so we will have to be careful not to use it all in one place.

Luna nodded at seemingly nothing which Sarah noticed out of the corner of her eye but thought better of answering. Then the mare let out a long breath before she turned to Sarah.

“Your world is... very...” she trailed off, not wanting to anger the woman.

“Ugly?” Sarah supplied with a sigh. “Yeah, I know...”

Luna gave her a sideways look before remembering something that the woman had said yesterday. “Wait, you told us that you were ‘new here’ as well; what did you mean by that?”

Sarah looked over to her and snorted slightly in irritation. “That’s because I am from a Vault, Luna,” she said levelly though Luna sensed a wave of grief and inward turned anger. “I only… moved out... a day and a half ago.”

The mare eyed her uncertainly for a moment, she sensed a story behind the words, but was wiser than to press the issue.

I believe we know some of it, and will share it with you tonight, Nightmare silently promised her.

Good, Luna replied.

“I see,” Luna said aloud after a slightly uncomfortable moment of silence. “I’m sorry?”

“It’s... fine,” Sarah grunted as she bent down and picked up the newly modified armor and pulled it on, wiggling and moving around a little to get comfortable. Then she patted the armored plates one by one with small satisfied nods as each one stayed in place. “Perfect, this should hold up well.”

Luna nodded. “It does indeed look much more... sturdy than before,” she said diplomatically.

“Yes, yes it does,” Sarah said with a nod of her own along with a small smile. “So, are you ready?”

“Indeed I am,” Luna replied. “Where are we going?”

Sarah paused for a moment as she thought about how to answer. “We’re heading downtown, to the GNR building... it’s time for me to get some answers,” she stated with enough intensity to make Luna’s eyebrows rise in surprise. Then the woman began heading off to the north east, Luna walked beside her, taking in the destroyed scenery with a rising sense of... homesickness.

They had only been walking for twenty miniutes, when they came to the bank of a stone lined river. Much to Luna’s disgust, the water was a sickly greenish color.

“Well... I hope you know how to swim,” Sarah declared as she looked at the expanse of water.

“Yes, but I will not ‘swim’ in that putrid muck,” Luna replied, shaking her head at the thought as she spread her wings. “No, I will fly over it.”

Sarah gave her a jealous glance. “Lucky,” she muttered.

Luna glanced at her with an apologetic look. “I’m sorry that I cannot offer to carry you... I am not nearly strong enough yet to do so...and even under normal circumstances you are too large.”

Sarah sighed and shook her head. “Don’t worry about it... I can handle a little dirty water.” She then took a hesitant step into the water, and the cold liquid seeped into her boot.

“Are you sure it is wise to wear that armor while you swim? It looks most... heavy,” Luna asked her carefully. “I do not wish to see my only friend in this place drown.”

The woman shook her head. “I’ll be fine... cold and uncomfortable, but fine.”

“We could always look for a way around,” Luna suggested.

“No! That will take too long!” Sarah snapped, a hint of annoyance entering her voice and making Luna draw her head back in surprise at the anger behind her words.

“Very well then, we were simply seeking to save you from hardship,” Luna told her with a frown before she ascended with several awkward and obviously painful wing flaps.

If Sarah took note of the mare’s annoyance she didn’t mention it and continued out into the river, the water rushing in around her. Luckily, everything she was wearing was water resistant so it didn’t become overly waterlogged and even kept her warm for the most part. As she swam she heard the distinct sound of her Pip-Boy ticking away, warning her of the slight amount of radiation she was absorbing just by swimming.

The alicorn flew along above her, keeping a careful eye set on the woman in case she was in need of assistance... though Luna was struggling to stay aloft as it was and the woman’s added weight would most likely result in both of them drowning.

If she drowns because of this, we will not help her, Nightmare growled within her mind. She is being stubborn and pigheaded.

Luna sighed internally, her better half had a point.

It took them five minutes to reach the opposite side where Sarah struggled to pull herself up onto the concrete embankment. Luna offered her a hoof, and the wet woman gratefully accepted it. The mare was almost pulled forward into the water by the unexpectedly heavy weight that Sarah represented but she managed to adjust her stance in time and helped hoist the woman up onto the cracked ground.

“Thanks,” the woman said shortly with a small smile as the water streamed off of her. She shook her black hair out and Luna jumped back in annoyance as the icky water sloshed across her fur.

“You’re welcome,” Luna answered with a frown as her horn began to glow. She winced a bit, and suddenly both the water on her fur along with the excess water on the woman disappeared leaving them both dry.

“Wow... thanks a lot,” Sarah said, a small smile spreading across her face.

“Do not mention it,” Luna replied, wincing again at the pain in her horn.

That was when the raiders sprang out of hiding.

“Die bitch!” the lead one shouted as he appeared above them, firing down at them with an assault rifle. Sarah felt a string of bullets fly over her, only two of which hit and thankfully bounced pointlessly off of her armor plating.

Another sprang from the up from behind a group of tires which he’d been hiding behind and opened up on Luna with a hunting rifle. The round shot out of the gun’s barrel and slammed into Luna’s rightmost shoulder causing the mare to stumble and let out a shriek of pain as the .32 round buried itself in her flesh. The raider let out an enthusiastic shout and started to fire again.

Sarah’s response to her attacker was to draw her newest weapon, one of the combat shotguns aquisitioned from the Talons, off of her back and bring the weapon to bear on raider whose eyes went wide with surprise.

As the raider targeting Luna tried to fire off another shot he found that the trigger was stuck and that the gun wouldn’t fire. Luna charged, Daybreaker held aloft and as she pumped her legs and used her wings to launch her forwards even faster. She closed the distance, and the cold blade sliced through the raider’s stomach in an explosion of blood and intestines as she eviscerated him.

Sarah pulled down on the trigger of her shotgun, and a blast of buckshot rang out and crashed into the raider’s face. The pellets slashed into the raider’s face, tearing open his cheeks and mulching his eyes. The raider fell to the ground dead and Sarah let out a relieved sigh.

Sarah turned to Luna who was looking down at the raider whose ropey intestines were decorating the concrete with a look of faint disgust as she she sheathed her sword. The woman quickly walked up the short set of stairs located nearby and walked over to the dead raider who she’d killed. She made quick work collecting of his equipment, easily grabbing the assault rifle and ammo that came with it.

Meanwhile Luna had taken a wing assisted leap over the dead raider and had found a group of green metal boxes, one of which was white and emblazoned with a large red cross that the alicorn recognized as the traditional sign of medicine.

“Sarah, over here,” Luna called to the woman. Sarah jogged over from her place above the alicorn and jumped down beside her, rocking on her feet as she fought to steady herself in the unwieldy weight of the still drying armor. Luna pointed a hoof at the boxes and Sarah’s mouth turned up into a smile.

“Great find, Luna,” the woman said, grinning as she walked over to the boxes and pried them open, pulling out several dozen types of ammunition along with a group of odd syringes and a few bandages.

Before they could ‘celebrate’ there was a loud roar from the other side of the riverbank. They turned to see two towering yellow-green figures clad in broken steel armor. Both of the figures were lugging incredibly large weapons which were unfortunately pointed directly at them.

“What are those,” Luna asked worriedly. Sarah blinked twice, and then started running.

“RUN!” Sarah shouted over her shoulder. Luna took off after her, using her wings to supplement her limp. As they reached the stairs, the first bullets began to crash into the concrete behind them, eating it up and pulverizing the stone.

The two ‘women’ sprinted up the steps, a hail of bullets chasing at their ankles. As they bounded free of the steps Sarah tripped and fell to her knees, stopping only for a second to get back to her feet, her eyes locked on the entrance to the subway station.

Luna followed the woman, but as she galloped she felt several dozen shards of pain fly into her flank and the searing pain almost made her fall and she let out a pained whiny. However, the alicorn persisted despite it and continued following the woman even as blood began to paint the street behind her crimson.

Dozens of bullets flew by Sarah’s head as she dashed forward and she felt several bounce off the armor of her shoulder, making her stumble forwards and she shrieked in pain as one of the rounds succeeded in penetrating her armor. She pushed onwards despite the pain in her back and managed to reach the entrance to the metro.

Luna had arrived at the same time as her, blood leaking from both her flanks which had been scoured by bullets.The woman didn’t have time to waste worrying about her companion however, and gripped the chainlink fence of the metro door and pried it open as bullets chewed away at the metal awning above them.

The mare and the woman tumbled through the gate and ended sprawled next to each other on the cracked hexagonal tiled floor, panting and bloody. Their immediate surroundings were illuminated by several miraculously working lights

“What-were-those things?” Luna panted in a pained voice as she tried, and subsequently failed to rise back to her hooves, letting out another pained whiny as her bloody haunches touched the floor once more.

Sarah tried as well, and was more successful. She managed to use the mare as a makeshift ladder to get to her feet, making Luna let out another whiny. The woman ignored that and offered the mare her hand. Luna grimaced and accepted the help, allowing the woman to pull her to her hooves. Leaning against each other they made their way to a blue painted metal door and hauled each other inside.

Wandering Moon Chapter 7: Radiation

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Luna remained surprisingly quiet as Sarah went to work on her bullet wounds with a pair of tweezers, a mostly clean cloth soaked in fresh water, and a tiny pair of scissors. She did let out the occasional pained whine as the woman struggled to remove some of the lead from her flanks and was forced to cut away some of the flesh with the scissors. The woman was surprisingly good at the job and despite the unfamiliar anatomy she got the job done in less time than Luna would have expected.

“Okay... I’ve gotten a lot of it, and none of what’s left should cause you too much trouble Luna,” Sarah said slowly as she cracked her neck and reached into her bag to pull out a syringe.

“What is that?” Luna asked as she eyed the syringe.

“A stimpack, near instantaneous injury repair,” Sarah replied.

“If it is near instantaneous, then why did you not use it first instead of cutting us open?” Luna inquired, her eyes narrowed with suspicion.

“Because then the bullets would still be inside of you and that would be bad,” Sarah replied as she got up from where she’d been sitting next to the alicorn’s flank and stretched her back.

Luna nodded at the logic of this before she asked. “Were you not injured as well as I was? Need I repeat the same process with your shoulder?”

Sarah shook her head. “No, the bullet went clean through me, luckily it missed the bone along with anything else important... I just used a stimpack,” she told her with a small shrug.

“I see,” Luna murmured with a small nod. Then she turned to Sarah her eyes looking over the woman with a strange sense of depth to them. “It seems that we are in dire need of armor if we are to survive in this ‘Wasteland’ as you called it.”

“Yeah, otherwise I’ll have to do this after every fire fight,” Sarah agreed as she began to clean the tweezers and scissors of the alicorn’s blood.

“If we survive it that is,” Luna muttered.

“Well, we’ve still got two suits of armor from those Talon mercs, you could use those to cover a bit, although... I don’t think it’ll be enough, you’re kind of... large,” Sarah said haltingly as she tried to avoid insulting Luna.

“Are you calling me fat?” Luna asked, her eyes narrowing slightly.

“Oh no.... not at all actually,” Sarah said, putting both of her hands up in surrender.

“Good, the Royal Flank is in perfectly acceptable condition,” Luna said, chuckling a small amount as she looked at her rear end where the skin had already begun to grow back from where Sarah had cut it away. “Or soon will be once more,” she added, a tinge of worry entering into her voice.

“I wouldn’t worry about it, stimpacks do their work quickly,” Sarah replied with a small shrug as she grabbed the two perfectly folded suits of Talon armor out of her bag and unfolding them completely while taking out the combat knife she’d used before. Luna scooted closer and watched with interest as Sarah began to cut apart the armor into sections.

Once the woman was finished cutting it apart Luna stood up and wrapped one of the pieces in her magical aura and brought it up to cover her flank. It did manage to cover up most of her rear and sides along with her cutiemark. Unfortunately it was nowhere near streamlined or properly fitting. Her horn’s glow intensified and the fabric and the plates of armor seemed to stretch and mold themselves to her, easily flowing with the contours of her body.

Sarah watched with a shocked expression and it took her several moments to pick her jaw up off of the floor. Luna let out a long breath, and then began to pant tiredly.

“It has been... a most long time since I have had to do that,” she said haltingly in between pants.

“How... is that possible?” Sarah asked her in confusion.

“Magic,” Luna replied. “It is a variation of a spell taught to us long ago by our... sister when we had to find a dress that fit us,” the mare continued with a strange frown as she regained her breath. “It is not a very tiring spell ordinarily, but given the current circumstances it is much more difficult.”

Sarah nodded slowly and watched with fascination as the mare’s horn began to glow again and brought the the other suit’s ‘chest piece’ up to her chest and began to mold it into the proper shape. This took slightly longer as she also made it stretch out so that it met up with the armor covering her rear as well until the place where the two suits had been separated was completely indistinguishable.

Luna was now covered in black armor from chest to flank, though to Sarah’s eyes she noticed that there were several places that there was no armor at all and was simply fabric. That was particularly noticeable around the center of the mare’s back and around the wings.

The mare nodded approvingly, and then let out an even more tired pant. “I would like to add shinguards and the like, but I fear that I’d be unable to continue onwards for the day if I did that,” she said with a sigh.

“Well, at least you’ve got armor now,” Sarah declared with a small shrug. “So... do you need time to recover or can we get moving again?”

The mare shook out her mane. “I think that we are ready, it takes little effort to wield Daybreaker,” she said with a nod to the sword. “At least compared to the spell that I just cast.”

“Right... well then let’s get going,” Sarah replied as she inserted a new canister into the shotgun.

Luna gave her a speculative look. “You are in quite a hurry to get to this ‘GNR studios’ place,” she said with a calmly raised eyebrow. “Why?”

Sarah shook her head. “I’m looking for my father, last I heard he was heading there. I don’t want the trail to get any colder,” the woman said with a frown.

“I see,” Luna nodded slowly. “Might I ask why you’re chasing your father?”

The woman turned to glower at her slightly. “Let’s just say that he owes me some answers and end it at that okay?” she asked in a hard voice.

“I suppose I can respect that,” Luna replied.

“Good,” Sarah declared with a nod before she gestured towards a doorway a few feet away from them.

Luna nodded and followed the woman as she walked through the door and down a set of metal stairs. The mare frowned for a moment as near blackness enveloped them, she of course had little trouble seeing, but Sarah was at an obvious disadvantage. Her worries were eliminated however when the woman’s wrist suddenly began to glow with a bright white light.

They proceeded down several sets of steps, Luna’s hooves clopping out an almost beatlike rhythm as she walked down the metal stairs until they came to another blue door. Sarah eased the door open to see what looked to be a powerstation of some kind with several large pipes running into and out of several large tubular lengths of metal. Directly ahead of them was a set of metal steps that rose up to a walkway above them. Sarah made her way up them first, and froze at what she saw. Separated from her by a simple chainlink fence were a group of three ghouls.

The woman fought down her initial panic at the sight of the rotting undead monstrosities. Their flesh was in various states of decay, and all looked about with vacant eyed expressions of what Sarah thought might have been hunger. As they spotted her, all three let out the characteristic bloodcurdling shrill that were so well known to their kind.

Sarah stared at them for a moment in frightened shock and the ghouls seemed to pause as they eyed her. Then as one, the ghouls charged the fence and began to pound upon it with their rotting fists.

Luna, who had been a few ‘steps’ behind Sarah as she was having difficulty maneuvering on the stairs, locked her gaze on the ghouls as she leveled with them. With a low, angry snarl she unsheathed Daybreaker and sent the blade rushing towards the chain door. With startling ease, the blade traveled straight through the fencing, and decapitated the nearest two ghouls in a shower of blood.

“VILE UNDEAD ABOMINATIONS! DIE!” Luna shouted, her eyes blazing with anger as the sword swung towards the two ghouls. “DEFILERS OF THE NATURAL ORDER, BE CLEANSED IN THE NAME OF THE MOON!”

The third ghoul let out another bloodcurdling wail of challenge and charged through the new hole in the center of the fence. Much to Sarah’s surprise, Luna leapt over her and landed in front of the woman bringing her sword down in a viscous downstroke as she came.

The silver blade sliced down through the ghoul splitting it in half from head to crotch. The two halves slid apart with a wet noise, and a spray of blood. Some of which flicked out and stained Luna’s muzzle.

Sarah turned to stare blankly at the mare.

“I have a severe dislike of any type of undead creature,” Luna said pointedly, wiping at the blood on her muzzle with a forehoof. Sarah let out a low whistle and nodded.

“Yeah... I can tell,” she said as she eyed the decimated corpses.

“It was my job to destroy such abominations... though I do not know where these have sprung up from... there is no animating magic within them,” Luna added with a frown as she examined the corpses. “It is a most peculiar breed of zombie.”

Sarah nodded slowly, these weren’t the first ghouls she’d met. Gob had seemed friendly enough... though the fact that she’d almost shot him out of surprise wasn’t exactly her proudest moment. Still... there was something inherently terrifying about the ghouls that Luna had just dispatched. The way that their dead eyes glared at her for starters.

“They’re called ghouls here,” Sarah informed her as she regained her cool. “And they’re only still alive because of the radiation given off by the nukes.”

“Radiation?” Luna asked, unfamiliar with the term.

“Yeah, radiation,” Sarah said. “It’s this ‘energy’ thing that the nukes let off when they exploded... I never really paid that much attention in class whenever Brotch started talking about it... I didn’t think it was important at the time,” she finished lamely.

“I see,” the mare said while giving her a searching look. “I don’t suppose you know anything else about this ‘radiation’ do you?”

“Well... it’s extremely dangerous, preserves our food so that we can eat it, causes cancers, powered all of the cars and trains of the old world, and something that I found out after I left the Vault, causes ghoulification.”

Luna blanched at the idea that this ‘radiation’ was what was keeping the food she’d eaten earlier fresh and her stomach began to rumble nervously. “Why would you feed us food laced with this energy!” she exclaimed angrily

Sarah held up a quieting hand. “Whoa, whoa, whoa there Luna. It’s only small doses of radiation, so it won’t do anything harmful to you. Beside when you get too much you can just drink a radaway to get rid of the effects okay?”

The alicorn narrowed her eyes, but the woman’s words calmed her. “Very well, so long as I will not end up as one of... them,” she turned her gaze towards the ghouls.

“No, you shouldn’t as long as we keep track of your rads,” Sarah replied. “So, want to keep moving?”

Luna nodded. “Why not, we were making excellent time.”

Then the woman nodded and continued onwards with Luna following along behind her as the mare’s rage cooled to an icy simmer. Before too long, they reached another door and entered into a dark, dimly lit tunnel. A misty haze flitted through the tunnels and Sarah suppressed a nervous shiver.

She looked down at her Pip-Boy and consulted the mapping function, it instructed her to take the tunnel to their left. Unfortunately, the woman noted that the tunnel was partially blocked by a derelict metro train.

Luna eyed the metal structure with confusion, it seemed to have been intended to move humans from place to place like a minecart, but she had no idea how it was supposed to move itself. It was a similar problem that she’d noticed with the ‘chariots’ in front of the store where she’d met Sarah along with on the road. This however was far larger and she doubted that anything beyond an incredibly large magical battery could power it.

This place must have been marvelous when it was new, Luna murmured within her mind.

Yes... and the amount of power at their command appears to have been... tremendous... we could benefit from that power, Nightmare replied. Surely Celestia will not be able to fight us if we return armed with this ‘radiation’.

We can strike her down where she sits upon her throne of selfishness and wipe that self entitled smirk off of her face, Luna agreed, liking the sound of that idea.

And then the ponies will love us and truly come to appreciate our beloved night, Nightmare continued.

I know that we already discussed this... but what of Clover? Luna questioned quietly.

We settled this before, she dies, Nightmare snarled. It can be fast if you would prefer, but she will die nonetheless as we agreed.

The alicorn shook her head, dismissing the thoughts, for the moment at any rate. Sarah had begun to move again, and much to Luna’s displeasure she had decided to walk up the tunnel that the train was partially blocking.

Luna followed her, having to squeeze through the opening, barely making it. The alicorn’s brow furrowed as she had to continuously squeeze her way down the tunnel, forcing her to follow behind Sarah by a good two meters.

Sarah glanced back to see Luna struggling and a small smile ghosted over her face before she slowed her pace a little so that she wasn’t drawing so far ahead.

It was nice for her to see that the as of so far nearly ‘invincible’ alicorn was having so much difficulty at something so simple.

“Thank you,” Luna muttered as she drew up with the woman. “I did not anticipate having such a problem.”

“It’s fine,” Sarah replied without looking back, she was still smirking to herself.

After almost half an hour of silently walking down the tunnel and encountering no signs of life, the path abruptly widened into a large open area. Much to the pairs’ displeasure, there was one of the large greenish yellow figures standing in the middle of the open space, a hunting rifle clutched in his beefy mits.

“That’s... not good,” Sarah muttered quietly as she surveyed the scene. “He’s got a clear shot at us anywhere we go.”

“Indeed, but there is only one of them,” Luna replied, “And he is armed minimally.”

Sarah nodded and switched to her hunting rifle, bringing it to bear on figure’s head. She let out a breath, checked VATS and then pulled down the trigger. The bullet spiraled out of the barrel and drilled into the creature’s forehead before exploding backwards out the other side in a trail of crimson blood. The creature fell with a fleshy splat.

“Well, that was rather anticlimactic,” Sarah commented dryly.

“I would rather have it be that, than the alternative,” Luna replied with a small shrug as she ventured out of the shadows of the tunnel and into the foyer of the room. The sudden crack of a hunting rifle and Luna’s shocked exclamation as a .32 rifle round bounced off of her shoulder plate and sent the mare jumping back into the shadows.

“I think there are more of them,” Sarah deadpanned.

“Really?” Luna asked. “We had not noticed!”

The woman shook her head and ducked out of the tunnel to scan the area and easily picked out the hulking shapes of another two creatures who had both taken up positions above them using the concrete sidewalls as cover. She leaned out with her rifle, nearly invisible in the shadows, and fired. Her bullet found its mark, and one of the figures dropped to the floor, a bullet lodged in its windpipe.

“One down,” Sarah reported before she leaned out again to sight the other figure. It was doing the same to her. She barely had time to pull her head back before it fired and the bullet blasted into the concrete by her head sent cascade of grey dust raining down on her.

Luna was crouched beside her, unable to do much in the way of helping when their opponent controlled such a large killzone.

We really must have Sarah teach us how to use these ‘guns’ of hers, Nightmare murmured in her mind. I do not like feeling so... useless.

Tonight if not tomorrow, Luna agreed. Their use for dealing death is most impressive.

Sarah, unaware of the mental conversation going on beside her, leaned out and fired again. Her bullet missed its mark, just barely, and hit the figure in the shoulder causing it to let out a roar of anger. The beast’s hasty return fire impacted off the concrete to her left, and Sarah had enough time to draw a bead on its head and fire again. Her aim was true, and the figure's head exploded in a cloud of gore.

“Want to play bait again Luna, or should I?” Sarah asked Luna.

“I think I shall let you do it this time,” Luna replied. “Perhaps we can trade off.”

Sarah snickered at that and slunk forward towards the dull light of the metro plaza.

The woman continued onwards, her entire body tensed for action.

She wasn’t shot.

With a wave to Luna the woman got out of her crouch and moved up to the first dead creature’s body. It was at least eight feet tall and the yellow green skin had pieces of scrap metal seemingly welded to its flesh; though where and how it managed to get a functioning welder Sarah couldn’t imagine.

Luna walked up beside her and examined the creature.

“That... is one ugly creature,” the alicorn muttered. “And I have faced Discord.”

“Discord?” Sarah asked, turning away from the dead creature.

The mare scowled. “A horrible creature of chaos and disorder who ruled over Equestria before my... sister and I banished him,” Luna replied, her voice seeming to catch on the word sister for some reason.

Sarah glanced at her new friend’s face and saw a look that was halfway between a scowl and a look of regret flicker across her face before it was buried again beneath her calm blue face.

“We should get moving,” Sarah said, deciding to avoid the subject entirely for the moment before she began to walk towards the broken down escalator, ignoring the nailboard that the mutant had been using as a weapon.

Luna nodded her head and followed the woman, her eyes faraway.

Wandering Moon Chapter 8: Lasers

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The view that Sarah and Luna were met by as they walked out of the dilapidated metro was... not what they were expecting in the least. There were a little over a dozen of the tall creatures from before, all wearing the armor of metal plates firing assault rifles at seven or so figures wearing large grey armor who were returning fire with boxy rifles that spat red death.

The two froze for a moment, caught completely off guard. Luna was the first to recover.

“The armored ones are firing at those creatures, that is all the evidence we need,” Luna said, drawing Daybreaker from its scabbard and charging towards one of the creatures, impaling it through its turned back, armor and all. Luna threw the corpse to the side, but her actions had ruined any chance of surprise she had, and several of the creatures turned to fire on the mare.

Luna felt a dozen bullets ping off of her armor before two found their way between the metal plates and she let out a hiss of pain as she was forced to retreat behind a piece of cover. Coincidentally, this piece of cover was also being used by one of the armored figures, though she was much less heavily armored than the others.

Sarah, on the other hand, switched to her hunting rifle, and began to bring the gun to bear on the mutants. She spotted one who was in the process of suppressing a woman with blonde hair with its assault rifle, each shot coming closer and closer to taking her out. Sarah let out a breath, and fired. It flew true, and the bullet drilled into the creature’s right eye in a trail of blood and brain.

The blonde woman looked around in surprise before spotting Sarah-who was crouched in the shadow of the subway station-and giving her an unreadable look. She then brought her boxy gun up to bear on another of the creatures and unleashing a rapid three shot burst of lasers that sliced through another of the mutant’s arms leaving it with nothing but a bloody stump.

Sarah switched her sights to another of the creatures, an ugly brute who was aiming at where Luna was crouching behind a derelict car with an extremely confused looking teenager wearing some kind of thin armor. The brute sent a trio of assault rifle rounds at the pair, two of which pinged harmlessly off the car’s exterior but Sarah saw a thin spray of blood trail from one of Luna’s shoulders.

The woman pulled down the trigger, sending a bullet speeding towards the brute. Unfortunately the metal helmet that covered its head deflected the bullet, and the creature turned to glare balefully at Sarah. She barely had enough time to duck back behind the cover of the low wall in time to avoid a hail of assault rifle rounds.

Luna found herself distinctly uncomfortable. She was bleeding from a wound to her shoulder which was extremely painful. Luna looked up over the cover of the car to see the creature who was targeting her shift targets to point its gun at where Sarah was hiding.

Despite the pain in her shoulder the mare vaulted over the cover and closed the short distance with the creature, lobbing its head off in a scarlet trail of blood. Unfortunately, that made her a target for several of the creatures once more, and the bullets began impacting off of her armor with a loud clattering sound.

Thankfully, only one or two made it through before the armored figures chose to rise up out of their cover and fire crimson beams of death at the yellow green creatures. To Luna’s absolute surprise, several of the figures were reduced to piles of white ash.

We need one of those! Nightmare thought in an almost lustful tone.

Indeed, if only so that you will not make us drool, Luna agreed although she was also extremely interested in obtaining one of the weapons. She could imagine no better way to make her entrance in her sister’s court then by reducing several of the sniveling nobles to piles of ash.

Meanwhile, events had continued to move forward.

Sarah moved out of hiding and approached the group of armored figures, her hands innocently outstretched and in plain view of the figures. The blonde woman moved forwards towards her, an eyebrow raised skeptically, and boxy gun pointed at her.

“What the hell are you doing here local; don’t you know that D.C. is a warzone?” the woman asked Sarah rhetorically. “And what in hell is that?” she added, pointing towards Luna who was already making her way over to Sarah.

“I’m going to the GNR building,” Sarah answered swiftly. “And that, the hell, is my friend Luna.”

“Is it some kind of mutant?” the woman inquired but Sarah shook her head. “And why are you going to the GNR building?”

“Honestly; I still don’t really know, all I know is that you shouldn’t shoot her,” Sarah confessed. “And I don’t care if this place is a warzone, I have got to get to the GNR building,” she said, her mouth hardening.

The blonde woman looked over her for a moment before shaking her head. “Fine, you and your pet can tag along, local, just try not to get in our way alright?”

“Okay...” Sarah said, frowning at the woman for calling Luna her ‘pet’ “We should be able to manage that much at least.”

“Good,” the other woman said. “I’m Paladin Sarah Lyons of the Brotherhood of Steel by the way.”

“Sarah Summers, nice to meet you,” Sarah said, offering the woman her hand. Lyons stared at it for a moment before letting off a chuckle.

“Are you fresh out of a Vault?” Lyons asked, shaking her head, clearly amused.

“Yes, actually,” Sarah replied shortly.

A small ‘oh’ expression of understanding ran over Lyons’s face. “Ah, sorry, come on we need to get going,” she said brusquely, ignoring the woman’s hand and going back to the rest of the squad.

“Well she seemed rude,” Luna observed, she’d arrived just before the other woman had left, and had been completely ignored.

“Yeah, well at least she didn’t shoot at us,” Sarah replied. “That’s more than can be said about most of the people that I’ve met in the last two days, yourself included.”

“To be fair, that was the door I was stabbing, not you,” Luna pointed out before gesturing towards the armored figures. “Shall we?”

“Sure, let’s,” Sarah agreed, walking over towards where the group of armored figures was standing around, reloading their weapons and looking impatient.

As Sarah and Luna reached the group, several of the soldiers turned to face Luna, and she felt their gazes staring at her from beneath their helmets. Instead of turning away, or showing any of the fear and anxiety that was working away at the back of her mind about how easy it would be for the figures to attack and kill either herself or Sarah before they could react, Luna met their gazes head on and held them.

The one who was looking at her with the most intensity was Lyons. The woman’s blue eyes bored into her own. They continued the silent contest of wills for several moments until Luna spoke.

“My name is Luna, and I am no pet,” the mare said firmly, her eyes shimmering for a fraction of a second to the slit eyes of a cat before shimmering back to their normal type.

Lyons recoiled in surprise, both at the fact that the horse was talking, and that its eyes had just taken on an almost... nightmarish appearance. The rest of the soldiers had a similar reaction, though it was only because of the speaking part, none had seen her eyes change.

“I see...” Lyons replied slowly once she’d recovered. “As I told your friend there-” she gestured towards Sarah. “-my name is Sarah Lyons, we’re the Brotherhood of Steel. If you want to get to the GNR building alive then you’ll both follow my instructions; understood?”

Luna nodded. “Indeed, we understand you.”

“Yeah, so do I,” Sarah agreed. “But first would someone mind telling me just what the fuck those things were?” she asked frantically, gesturing towards the dead creatures.

That brought a collective group stare from the Brotherhood soldiers excepting Lyons, though unlike the one that Luna had been on the receiving end of it wasn’t hostile. Instead it was more the look that Mr. Brotch gave her when she asked a stupid question.

“Those are super mutants,” the woman in the lighter armor informed her. “They’re the things that the Brotherhood are fighting to keep you locals safe.”

“Super mutants?” Sarah said uncomprehendingly.

“Yes, super mutants,” Lyons repeated for the other woman, obviously growing tired of waiting. “They’re a bunch of green skinned freaks who have been trying to take over D.C. Now come on, we need to go, immediately!”

With that the blonde woman turned on her heel and began marching away, the rest of her squad following along with her. Luna gave Sarah a questioning look to which the woman could only shrug before she started after Lyons. Luna frowned, but followed.

The bullets in her shoulder were making it slightly more difficult to keep up, but not overly so. She’d experienced far worse pain during the war against Discord. Adding to her discomfort were all of the bruises that she’d gotten during her fall through the Super Duper Mart’s ceiling as well as the distant ache in her horn from her depleted magic supply and the earlier strain from the clothing altering spell.

Despite that, she kept up as the group began to move across a group of wooden planks and into a series of crumbling grey buildings. As they passed the dead body of one of the Brotherhood troops, Luna noticed that one of the boxy rifles was lying beside his corpse, and that except for a silent fist to their chest the Brotherhood ignored the body. Thinking quickly, Luna lifted the boxy rifle from beside the dead man. It had a strap on it, and the mare quickly threw it around her neck and allowed it to hang there.

Lyons looked back and gave her a harsh glare. “That’s Brotherhood property,” she said in a low tone.

“I do not see a name engraved in it,” Luna replied with a slightly raised eyebrow. “In any case, it shall do us more good if we use it then if we leave it here.”

The blonde woman’s jaw set, and she appeared to be about to start an argument when there was a sudden BING as a .32 round bounced off of her right pauldron. The woman looked up and ahead of them to see a mutant preparing to fire again. Instead, it was hit by four simultaneous blasts of searing heat and energy, dropping it to the ground.

There was no more time for conversation.

“Move, move, move!” Lyons shouted, leading the charge towards the building which the mutant had just from.

“Why are we running towards them?” Luna asked Sarah inbetween strides.

“So that we’re not out in the open,” Sarah replied, focusing more on pumping her legs then on talking.

“But then we will be serving ourselves to them!” Luna shot back.

Sarah simply ignored her, and continued walking while she switched from her hunting rifle to her combat shotgun. The group reached the opening of the building and charged through, the brotherhood soldiers in the lead. They were met by a hail of lead as mutants fired on them from both above and from in front of them.

Luna let out a battle shout, and charged the ones in front of them with Daybreaker at the ready. She felt several bullets smash into her chest, but the armor was thickest there and she was able to ignore the bullets. She closed the distance with the nearest mutant.

Diagonal slash, Nightmare’s voice instructed her. Then turn 45 degrees and buck.

Luna did as she was instructed, her blade sweeping out to slash through one of the mutant’s chests, rending it in two before pivoting and lashing out with her hooves. The diamond hard material smashed into another mutant’s face, shearing through its skull in a shower of blood and gore which rained down upon the mare who ignored the warm wet sensation as it settled upon her armor.

Meanwhile, Sarah was busy attempting to kill the mutants above them. There were five of them, all armed with assault rifles and they were all obscenely angry with the group. Bullets ricocheted off of the Brotherhood troopers’ armor and the woman found herself ducking down to avoid random bullets more than she was returning fire but she pressed on regardless and drew a bead on one of the mutants. Her shotgun went off, and the mutant fell to the ground, missing the majority of his chest.

Thankfully, that was when the Brotherhood troopers finally, although it was only several seconds, began to fire back. Beams of crimson death lahed out from their rifles and the mutants began to fall beneath the high tech firepower. Sarah added to their fire, shooting another mutant in the chest as their group charged forward into the ruins. Luna was in the lead by quite a bit by this point, and doing a fine job of it if the trail of dead mutants was anything to go by.

Luna rounded a corner, and was suddenly caught unexpectedly in the chest by an incredibly painful blow from a sledgehammer head. The mare was sent stumbling backwards landing awkwardly on her rear end as the mutant attempted to bring the hammer down on her skull.

Dodge! Nightmare’s voice shouted in her head, snapping Luna out of her haze to almost drunkenly dodge the sledgehammer’s downstroke. Luckily, it was enough to make the hammerblow miss her, just barely, and Lyons who had just rounded the corner saved her by sending a lance of energy into the mutant’s face, melting it off.

“Don’t run off ahead,” Lyons informed her coldly as she popped a new microfusion cell into her rifle.

Luna nodded slowly and got back to her hooves. Sarah came up beside her.

“Are you alright?” she asked her.

“Yes, I am fine, alicorn bones are very hardy,” Luna replied with a small frown. There was still a distinct pain in her chest from the hammer’s blow, but she had no time to concern herself with the pain.

Sarah shook her head, a worried expression on her face. “Alright as long as you’re sure, I’ll give you a look over once we’re done here. Make sure that you really didn’t hurt anything,” the woman told her.

“That would be much appreciated,” Luna said with a thankful smile.

“Come on ladies, we need to keep moving!” Lyons shouted to them from where she was standing impatiently near the closest exit with the rest of the squad. Sarah and Luna nodded and made their way over to her.

“How far away are we?” Sarah inquired.

Lyons frowned. “Not too far, we’ve got one more group of ruins to run through, and then we’ll be in the studio plaza.”

“Alright then, let’s get going,” Sarah said with a nod, reloading her shotgun.

Lyons nodded, and the squad began to move. The second that they left the cover of the building a flurry of gunfire slammed into them from the building in front of them. The group sprinted forwards, bullets churning the air and bouncing off of the Brotherhood soldiers’ armor. Sarah just did her best to stay behind them and hope that she wasn’t hit, while Luna lagged behind her, the mare’s steps coming slower than before.

Thankfully, neither was hit as they ran into the cover of the ruin. Time flew by for Sarah in an almost nightmarish rush. Yellow green bodies fell apart beneath a flurry of bullets and lances of lasers, flashes from the mutants’ rifles. One of the Brotherhood soldiers fell beneath the incoming fire. They carried on through the ruins, the mutant presence steadily rising. Luna was covered in blood that ran in rivulets down her armor and fur as she delivered blow after blow to the mutants before her. Nightmare’s calm voice directing her actions and moves.

After what seemed like forever they cleared the ruins, low on ammo, tired from their exertions, and Sarah knew that several bullets had found their way through her armor and she was bleeding beneath it. Luna was similarly injured, and was now beginning to feel the effects of too many days of straight combat without the aid of her magical armor.

Unfortunately they were confronted by a disheartening sight. Spread out around the plaza were several dozen mutants who were firing upon several Brotherhood troops who were, for the most part, pinned down behind stacks of sandbags.

“Shit... you’ve got to be kidding me,” Sarah gasped.

“It’s worse than I thought it would be,” Lyons growled under her breath before turning back to her squad. “There’s no helping it, come on let’s go lend a hand.”

“Are you insane? Do you see how many of them there are out there?” Sarah asked her belatedly.

Lyons frowned at her. “You either help us, or you’re not getting into GNR to see Three Dog.”

Sarah let out a tired sigh. “Right... sorry... I’m just tired,” the woman said with a shake of her head.

Lyons shook her head. “It’s fine, we don’t expect locals to act like soldiers. Now quit your bellyaching and let’s go kill these fuckers.”

The blonde woman then led her squad out into the plaza, their red lasers lancing out into the nearest mutants. Sarah switched to her hunting rifle and turned to Luna.

“Are you ready for this?” she asked.

Luna panted. “Not in the least, but what choice do we have?”

Sarah nodded, and leaned around cover to take a potshot at a mutant. The .32 round missed its target and the mutant turned to fire on her, causing the mutant to turn towards her and draw a sledgehammer off of its back. With a roar it charged towards her only to be met a foot away by Daybreaker’s shaft stabbing into its chest with a spray of blood. Luna pulled the magic blade out of the mutant’s chest, trailing more blood, and shook her head.

“This is not going to be fun,” the mare said before she left the cover of the ruins, heading towards a clump of mutants who were standing in the center of the courtyard firing at the Brotherhood in front of the door.

She closed with them.

Parallel slash, Nightmare instructed as Luna reached the first mutant. Her blade slashed parallelly out across the mutant’s throat and tore it open. Duck! Luna followed her instructions and a score of bullets lanced over her head, fire from a mutant to her left. Now buck to the left, Nightmare said calmly as Luna carried out her orders, her hooves careening into a mutant’s chest, shattering its ribs.

However, even with Nightmare’s help Luna wasn’t perfect. A sledgehammer slammed into her side and sent the mare stumbling and another blow knocked her off of her feet. The alicorn looked up dazedly to see the mutant closing for a final blow to her head. To her surprise, Sarah was suddenly in front of her, shotgun at the ready. The woman pulled down the trigger and the blast of buckshot roared out and slammed into the mutant’s face, shredding its eyes and blowing out its brain.

Sarah gave her a concerned look, but didn’t have time to do anything else before another mutant charged them, this one holding a board of wood embedded with nails high above its head. The woman fell into a crouch, and pulled the trigger several times. The blasts of buckshot crashed into the mutant’s stomach, but it shrugged them off as it closed with her. Sarah froze in place as a wave of irrational horror raced through her brain.

She was going to die here. A thought flashed through her mind as she stared at the wooden board, that it wouldn't have made any difference if she had stayed in the Vault.

Luckily, Luna had recovered and her magic yanked Sarah out of the way as she brought Daybreaker up to impale the mutant. Sarah shivered where she lay on the ground, her mind blank from the terror that had just been rushing through her head.

The exhausted alicorn got back to her hooves and pulled her blade out of the mutant’s chest before looking at Sarah with concern.

“Sarah? Are you okay? Did it harm you?” Luna asked her softly.

Sarah snapped out of her frozen, shivering motion and nodded her head shakily. “Ye-yes... sorry-I thought- that I was about to die,” she said in between rapid breathes.

Luna nodded and offered Sarah a helping hoof. The woman grasped onto it and pulled herself back to her feet.

“Do not worry Sarah, that is a common enough feeling upon the battlefield,” Luna assured her. “Especially for one so new to it as yourself.”

My... she looks so frail, Nightmare observed silently.

Indeed... she does at that, Luna agreed. I believe she is younger than we had originally thought.

Good, it will make her more exploitable Nightmare said coldly.

Luna mentally snorted at the thought, there were times when her other half disappointed her. Sarah has been most kind to us, there is no reason for us to exploit her in any way.

Even if it means that we cannot get home? Nightmare responded. Luna mentally frowned at that thought... if the choice was between Sarah’s life... and returning to Equestria... what would she choose?

The mental conversation had passed by quickly and she was done with it in time to hear Sarah say.

“Yeah, I know, still I shouldn’t have froze like that, it’ll get us killed,” Sarah said with a shake of her head.

“Do not worry, as I said it happens to everyone,” Luna replied.

That was when they both became aware that the gunfire had stopped. It seemed that Lyon’s squad had made short work of the rest of the mutants while the two had been fighting in the center and the courtyard was oddly silent.

“Are you two okay?” Lyons asked as she came up to the exhausted pair.

“No... not really,” Sarah muttered. “But we’ll live.”

Lyons looked at her for a second, an unreadable expression on her face, then she leaned over and placed an armored hand on Sarah’s shoulder.

“That’s the way things are out here, Sarah,” the other woman said quietly. “But you both did very well, I’ll spread the word around that you helped us out today. If you ever need a place to rest, the Brotherhood will give you a hand,” Lyons told her with a smile.

Sarah was caught off guard by the woman’s sudden change in demeanor, but smiled back.

“Thank you... Lyons,” she said with a weak smile of her own.

“It’s Sarah, Sarah,” the blonde woman replied with a small shake of her head before she turned away and began to walk over towards where her squad was milling around the mutants, gathering up ammo and assault rifles.

“Well... that was unexpectedly kind of her,” Luna said as she cleaned her blade on one of the dead mutant’s bodies. “Now come, we should get inside.”

“Yeah, don’t want to be outside if anything else happens,” Sarah agreed as she began to walk towards the doors of the studio.


Sarah froze in mid step and turned towards a large pile of busses that were piled up on the other side of the plaza.


The woman in the thin armor ran up to investigate, even as Sarah shouted at her to get away. The world seemed to slow and Sarah suddenly knew what was going to happen but was unable to avert her eyes.


The air was torn asunder as a massive explosion detonated from the wall of busses sending pieces of shrapnel flying outwards. The shockwave threw Sarah and Luna off of their feet along with almost everyone else in the plaza.

As the woman groaned and rose to her knees she saw the shape of a towering mutant charging towards them. It was larger than any living thing that she’d ever seen before and grasped firmly in its hand was what appeared to be a flail of some kind made out of a cluster of car engines. Though how the mutants had managed to find a strong enough chain to bind them together and to the handle which was made out of a telephone pole, Sarah had no idea.

“BEHEMOTH!” Lyons shouted as she ran for the cover of the station’s entrance. “Get some heavy weapons fire on that son of a bitch!”

The Brotherhood opened up on the towering mutant, their lasers and assault rifle shots slashing into its side. Unfortunately... it didn’t seem to be doing very much. If anything it just made the mutant more angry. It slammed its head of the flail down into one of the Brotherhood soldiers who hadn’t been lucky enough to find adequate cover. The flail smashed into him, forcing the sounds of crumpling metal and breaking bones into the air. What was left after the blow wasn't pretty, especially when the soldier began to scream in agony.

Sarah scrambled to her feet and dashed towards the cover of the entrance, catching the eye of the giant mutant. It moved with unseeming speed and grace towards her, bringing its great flail arcing down at her skull. Sarah didn’t freeze, instead throwing herself to the side. The flail slammed into the ground where she had just been, throwing up a cloud of dust and gravel.

Luna took one look at the towering beast threatening her friend and, without a second thought, charged it.

What are we doing? Nightmare questioned angrily.

She will surely die without our intervention, we will not allow that to happen! Luna replied hotly as she charged at the mutant.

Saving her won’t mean anything if we sacrifice ourselves in the process! Nightmare protested.

Regardless, we will save her, Luna shot back. I will not lose another friend!

Ignoring the protests of the voice in her head, she sent Daybreaker streaking towards the mutant’s chest in a blast of magic. The blade slammed into the mutant, but much to Luna’s surprise the beast ignored the blade other than letting out an angered roar. Luna stared at the creature which had turned to glare angrily at her.

Before the tired alicorn could react, the mutant swung its flail at her and the hunk of metal rammed into her side, sending the mare flying into the sandbags in front of the GNR building. She whimpered loudly as pain consumed her body. Luna felt the familiar feeling of fractured ribs as her breathing became labored.

Thankfully she was out of the mutant’s reach for the moment.

Sarah, on the other hand, wasn’t so fortunate. The mutant turned back to gaze at her where she’d taken cover behind a bench. Blood was pouring down its chest from the large sword embedded in the direct center of it and it let out a roar as it brought the flail down at her.

However this time the woman was ready, rolling out of the way of the incoming flail. It slammed pointlessly into the ground, the giant roaring in frustration when it refused to budge. Sarah ran for the station’s door as the mutant struggled to pull his flail out of the plaza’s cracked floor.

Sarah reached the sandbag wall and climbed over it, taking cover behind the comforting wall of sand and cloth. Lyons was also huddled there, having just used the last of her microfusion cells.

“What is that thing?” Sarah panted.

“Behemoth... they’re rare but hard to take down without heavy weapons,” Lyons replied with a shake of her head.

“Well... don’t you have any of those here?” Sarah asked her.

“Yeah...” Lyons answered slowly. “... but it’s out there,” she pointed towards a dead Brotherhood soldier. Lying beside him was what looked like the demented love child of a catapult and a missile launcher. Standing between them and it was the behemoth who had finally managed to pull his flail out of the ground and was roaring a challenge at them.

“You have got to be kidding me!” Sarah exclaimed tiredly.

“Tell me about it,” Lyons growled as she reached into an ammo box resting beside them and grabbed another few microfusion cells and slotted them into her rifle.

Sarah shook her head and turned to see Luna’s battered form not far away. One of the Brotherhood was crouching over her, a stimpack in his hand. The woman looked away again, certain that Luna at least would be okay beneath the cover.

She turned back to the behemoth and more importantly at the catapult behind it.

“Sarah... I’m going to get it,” the ex-vault dweller said firmly.

“Are you insane?” Lyons replied.

“No... just desperate,” Sarah told her, a tired wry smile playing across her face. “Wish me luck.”

Lyons stared at her for a moment and then nodded. The blonde woman raised her rifle in salute and Sarah found herself returning the gesture with her shotgun before she holstered it. This would be about speed and agility, no time or point in holding a weapon that she’d have to put away in order to use the new one.

Then she took a steadying breath, and launched herself over the sandbags straight for the behemoth. The giant roared again and brought his flail streaking down towards her. Sarah rolled forward, the flail coming crashing down behind her with a large boom. As the woman came out of her roll on her feet, she heard the now distinctive TZT of a laser rifle going off behind her.

Lyons was providing covering fire, attempting to distract the mutant or take out its eyes in order to buy Sarah a bit more time. Sarah gave the woman a silent thank you and continued to sprint as the mutant roared in pain and anger as the lasers scoured its face and chest.

Sarah ran between the behemoth’s legs, barely dodging another swing of the flail, and ended up behind the giant. With an elated feeling, the woman sprinted towards the dead Brotherhood soldier. She scooped up the odd device, and found that it was surprisingly simple to use, or at least it appeared to be.

Beside the man were also a collection of green things that looked vaguely like footballs. She quickly slotted one into the weapon, the football like projectile slid easily into the obvious ‘chamber’ and the woman shouldered the catapult like contraption. The mutant had returned its gaze to glare at her and it brought up its flail, preparing to end the annoying gnat.

Sarah gazed definitely back at it. “DIE!’ the woman shouted as she pulled down the trigger, silently praying to God that it would work. The catapult launched the green projectile at the beast and it hit it in the stomach.

The blast knocked Sarah back, causing her to fall over. From her position on the ground, though, she could make out the mushroom-shaped cloud, accompanied by a shower of gore. Ignoring her Pip-Boy's ticking, she stood up. Daybreaker clattered down beside Luna, displaced from its place in the mutant’s chest by the explosion.

There was a moment of silence in the courtyard, and then the few remaining Brotherhood soldiers began to cheer. Sarah collapsed to the ground on her knees, feeling utterly spent as the catapult fell to the ground beside her.

She looked up to see Lyons standing over her, offering her a hand. Sarah reached up weakly and grasped it. The blonde woman smiled and hauled her back to her feet.

“Come on, let’s get you to Three Dog, God knows you deserve it,” the woman said with a smile.

Sarah smiled back, though she was completely exhausted. “Do you think I could take a nap first?”

Lyons chuckled. “Yeah, go right ahead.”

Sarah collapsed on her, leaving a thoroughly amused Lyons to haul her into the studio.

Wandering Moon Chapter 9: The Good Fight

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Luna groaned as she unsteadily rose to her hooves. She’d been led inside by one of the Brotherhood soldiers who had let her down on a mattress and then injected her with a stimpack, along with another syringe of something called Med-X. That had made the pain retreat enough for her to get to her hooves.

“Ma’am, you really shouldn’t be up and about yet,” the Brotherhood soldier cautioned.

Luna shook her head. “I must rise, my ribs feel whole and the pain is gone,” she replied.

“The stimpack did heal your broken ribs, but the Med-X only dulled the pain. It’ll come back in an hour or so,” the soldier told her.

“Then I will deal with it in an hour,” Luna replied. “Where is Sarah?”

As she spoke, Lyons walked into the room, Sarah draped across her shoulder. Luna’s eyes widened and she rushed over to her friend.

“Is she alright? Was she hurt?” Luna asked worriedly.

“She’s fine,” Lyons answered, waving away the mare’s anxiety. “She’s just exhausted, that was one hell of a stunt that she pulled off out there.” The woman then lay Sarah down on one of the other mattresses in the room.

“Yeah, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone charge a behemoth and live,” the other Brotherhood soldier commented. Luna meanwhile had laid back down beside Sarah.

“Would you be so kind as to obtain some food for us?” she asked Lyons.

“Sure, it’s the least we could do,” Lyons replied, nodding to the other Brotherhood soldier who walked out of the room. Then the woman turned back to face Luna. “So, who and what are you?”

Luna frowned at her tone. “As I said my name is Luna, I am what is known in my home as an alicorn,” the mare answered.

“So... you’re not some sort of mutant, or a lab experiment are you?” Lyons asked her with a slightly raised eyebrow.

“No, I am none of those things of which you speak,” Luna replied with a disdainful shake of her head.

“Good... sorry about how I acted earlier,” Lyons told her sincerely. “Up to this point I’ve only heard of things like you in old comic books or fantasy novels,” she continued with a small shrug.

“It is... quite alright,” Luna said. “Yours was hardly the worst insult that I have suffered... you were also correct, running off ahead did me no good.” She placed a hoof on her chest where the sledgehammer had struck her. “It was an amateur's mistake... and brought upon because of my own overconfidence in my armor.”

Lyons looked down at the mare’s retrofitted Talon armor and raised an eyebrow. “You thought that would keep you safe?”

Luna chuckled ruefully. “No... I had forgotten that I was not wearing my prefered suit. If I was then the head of that hammer would’ve shattered.”

Lyons regarded her with a raised eyebrow. “Really? That must be some... sturdy armor.”

The mare grinned at her. “Very,” she said before letting out a tired yawn. “It seems that we’re just as exhausted as Sarah is.”

“I believe it,” Lyons said with a nod though she raised an eyebrow slightly at the ‘we’re’ part. “Getting knocked around by a giant flail can have that effect on people.”

Luckily it was then that the Brotherhood soldier from before returned bearing a box of snack cakes and a nuka cola. “Here you go,” he said as he set them down beside Luna before he left the room with a nod to Lyons.

Luna eyed the drink warily for a moment before removing the cap and taking a sip. “This is quite good,” she told Lyons.

“Yes, not as good as Quantum, but still pretty good,” Lyons agreed. “Well, I’ll leave you to your food and your nap. My squad and I will probably be gone by the time you two wake up, but I look forward to seeing you both again out in the Wastes.”

“Hopefully under less... undesirable circumstances,” Luna agreed with a swift nod. “Goodbye Miss Lyons.”

“I’ll see you later Luna,” Lyons said with a small nod before she walked out of the room.

She seemed... surprisingly kind, Nightmare intoned. And perfectly competent besides.

Yes she did, Luna agreed as she tore open the snack cakes box with her telekinesis and bit into one, enjoying the gooey center before washing it down with a sip of the Nuka Cola.

We should be careful what we eat, strange foods can have unpleasant side effects, Nightmare said cautiously.

I doubt they would feed us anything overtly dangerous, after all Sarah told us earlier that the ‘radiation’ could be easily eliminated, Luna replied. Besides, these are delicious! What could be bad about them?

Nightmare didn’t answer, instead choosing only to ‘roll her eyes’ at her other half.

Once here meal was finished, Luna shut her eyes and lay down beside Sarah, she was very tired.

Luna shivered as she felt a pair of hands run through her fur, caressing the back of her neck. As she moaned in pleasure, a set of lips met hers, creating even more pleasure. Her ecstasy reached new heights when her partner forced their tongue into her mouth, an act she mimicked eagerly.

Luna broke the kiss and stared breathlessly into her lover’s eyes. Her lover looked back, reaching over and gently pushing a lock of Luna’s shimmering mane out of her eyes. Luna smiled as the black haired woman leaned back in to continue the kiss.

The mare gasped as she felt fingers trace down her neck, lightly caressing her barrel. She felt like she was going to melt as the fingers explored her body, rubbing and massaging her as they did. Her moans only intensified when the kiss was broken and the hands began to reach her hind legs.

Luna suddenly heard a peal of laughter to her right, shocking her out of her state. She turned to find herself looking into Nightmare’s eyes.

“Wha-what is the meaning of this?!” Luna demanded.

“We’re dreaming. Well, you are to be specific,” Nightmare replied with another gale of laughter.

Luna whirled around to see that her lover, who she now recognized as Sarah, had vanished and that she was standing in her own dreamscape.

“But... what was that? Where did it come from? I do not desire a relationship with Sarah of that sort!” Luna retorted angrily. “I barely even know her!”

"Well maybe it’s your unconscious thoughts,” Nightmare suggested with a smirk.

“No!” Luna protested, still quite defiant, her face angry.

Nightmare let out a tiny giggle. “Fine, I do know why it happened,” her other half told her.

“And why is that?” the mare asked with a glare.

“Because of the food,” Nightmare told her with a roll of her eyes. “We both know what happens when you eat strange food just before sleeping, especially ones as sweet the ones that we consumed.”

The realization struck Luna like a slap to the face.

"Oh... I had not thought of that,” she said, a little bashfully.

Then another thought struck her.

“But you could have stopped it from happening!” Luna said angrily.

“Well perhaps we just enjoyed watching it,” Nightmare said with a succulent smile. “We found it adorable.”

Luna gave her a flat look before shaking her head.

“No matter... back to dreaming,” she said slowly before the world around her dissolved.

Sarah sat in a familiar place. Across from her father who sat in his clinic desk.

“Now Sarah, Mister Brotch says that you gave Butch a black eye today,” James said while giving the woman a raised eyebrow.

Sarah sighed.

“Yes... Yes I did,” she said sourly. “But there was a good reason! He being really nasty to Amata!”

James shook his head. “Sarah, what have I told you about this type of thing? You’re not supposed to get into fights!” his firm voice told her, easily expressing just how much he disapproved of her actions.

“I know that I’m not, but Butch is such a... such a... such a dick!” Sarah exclaimed after a few seconds of searching for the right word.

To her surprise, that brought a small smile to her father’s face. “Yes, yes he is,” James agreed with her but then his smile vanished. “But that’s no excuse Sarah. You’re a perceptive girl, you know that there are better ways to solve your problems then by punching Butch in the face.”

Sarah looked away and shook her head. “Sorry dad... it won’t happen again...”

“Until the next time?” James asked her plainly.

The woman grumbled something explanative under her breath.

“Now, none of that,” her father told her strictly.

“Sorry,” the girl said again, this time obviously not really caring. James sighed.

“Anyways, there’s some good news to go along with the bad,” he told her causing Sarah to look up in surprise.

“What? Really?” she asked with a curious look.

“Yes, your G.O.A.T. results came back, you’re going to be in the Vault Security Unit,” James replied with a smile.

Sarah’s face transformed from that of a despondent youth into a wide grin. “Awesome! That’s exactly what I wanted!”

James chuckled at her enthusiasm. “Yes, I know,” he told her. “I’m so very proud of you Sarah,” he added tenderly as he reached across the desk to put a hand on her shoulder.

“Thanks dad,” Sarah said with a smile.

“Of course, you know, I’m not as proud of you for killing all of them,” James said, his voice suddenly becoming cold as ice.

Sarah gapped at him. “Wha-what are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” James said coldly. “You murdered each and every one of your friends with the exception of Gomez.”

The woman stared at him as she suddenly realized that she was in a yet another nightmare.

“It-it wasn’t my fault!” Sarah shouted at him. “If I hadn’t then I’d be dead!”

“Sarah, Sarah, Sarah,” James tutted at her with a shake of his head. “You know as well as I do that those officers wouldn’t have hurt you. It’s against their training.”

“They were shooting at other people! They killed Mitch and Sheala!” Sarah protested.

“And does that fact make you any better than them? You killed them right back!” her father replied with a dark frown.

“What-what else could I do? They were going to kill me!” Sarah shouted.

“You could’ve snuck by them,” James said adamantly. “Or better yet, you could’ve just stayed in your room and surrendered.”

Sarah shook her head. “No, no I couldn’t have! They’d have seen me, and killed me!” she protested.

James glared coldly at her. “You’re trash Sarah, I can’t believe that I used to be so proud of you.”

“Shut up!” Sarah shot back angrily. “You-you don’t know anything about me!”

“I’m your father, I know everything about you,” James replied coldly before he got up from the desk and walked out of the room leaving Sarah behind in the chair.

“What an awful subconscious you have,” a female voice spoke to her left. Sarah whirled to find herself face to face with a pair of catlike eyes looking out from a regal alicorn’s face.

“Wha-who-Luna?” Sarah stuttered in shocked surprise.

The alicorn remained silent for a moment before answering. “Yes, we are Luna, Sarah.”

“I... wish my subconscious would just make sense for once... now I’m dreaming about Luna,” Sarah muttered.

“Oh, you are not dreaming about us,” the mare said with a small shake of her head. “No, we have simply decided to enter into your dreams.”

“Wait... what?” Sarah asked, utterly confused.

The mare sighed and shook her head.

“It is complicated for us to explain, simply accept that we have the ability to enter into the dreams of those we are close to,” she explained.

“Okay...” Sarah trailed off. “Umm... you’re using we a lot right now.”

“Are we? We hadn’t noticed,” the mare said with a small shrug.

“So... um can I just go back to dreaming now?” Sarah asked.

“Of course,” the mare said before she disappeared with a flap of black wings leaving a very confused Sarah to slip away once more into her dreams. They were much happier than those that she’d been having.

Luna awoke to find that at some point in their rest that Sarah had begun to use her back as a pillow of sorts. Luna frowned at that, remembering her strange dream, but then shook her head. She had no time for that sort of thing, and surly the woman would not be interested in her.

Indeed, she is too busy tearing herself apart, Nightmare intoned.

Oh? What do you mean? Luna inquired curiously. Nightmare transferred all that she’d learned of Sarah’s past into Luna’s consciousness. The mare remained silent for a moment before letting out slow sigh.

The poor mare, she finally said. To be put through so much hardship in exchange for so little.

Indeed, Nightmare agreed. Of course, you know that this means that we cannot trust her; correct?

What? Why not? Luna asked in confusion.

If she was willing to kill so many of her friends in pursuit of her goal, what is to stop her from doing the same with us? Nightmare answered.

Well... she only did what she did because the alternative was death! Luna protested. I’m sure that she would not even think of killing us!

Just like Clover would never join Tia against us? Nightmare countered. Or how about how Tia would never turn her back on us?

Those were different! Luna mentally cried defiantly. Sarah has been nothing but a good friend to us, and saved our lives several times! There is no reason why she would endeavor to hurt us!

Celestia who raised us did, Nightmare said coldly.Clover who was ever faithful to us did, she continued. What is to stop this woman from doing the same?

Luna remained silent for a moment as she looked down at the woman lying against her and then closed her eyes.

She just won’t.

Naive as always, Nightmare said coldly. Do not lead us to our death following this woman.

I won’t, Luna assured her. Because Sarah will not lead us to our death.

We can only hope you are correct, Nightmare stated icely.

Luna nodded, and Sarah began to stir. The woman’s eyes opened and saw Luna’s looking down at her.

“Oh, good morning...” Sarah said a little awkwardly. Not sure whether or not what she saw in her dreams had really happened.

“And the same to you,” Luna replied, giving her a smile, hiding her own awkwardness behind a royal mask.

“Umm... Luna... can you look at my dreams?” Sarah asked slowly as she sat up and turned to face the mare. “Or was I just dreaming of odd things?”

Luna frowned. “Yes... I can.”

“Oh... that’s... cool?” Sarah said, clearly struggling with the idea.

"Yes, I suppose it is rather cool isn’t it?” Luna asked as she got to her hooves began to stretch.

Sarah just nodded, not wanting to even think about the oddness that seemed to flow off of her friend. “So... we’re inside of the GNR building, right?”

“I believe that to be correct,” Luna agreed.

Sarah sprang to her feet. “Good, now it’s time to get some answers!”

Luna was surprised by the sudden burst of energy from her friend, but followed the woman nonetheless as she walked out of the door to the room that they’d been sharing. They emerged into a lobby where a defensive position had been set up. Several of the heavily armored heads of Brotherhood soldiers turned in their direction, one armed with a large contraption that had a small flickering flame at the end walked up to them.

“Three Dog’s right through that door up there,” he told Sarah before she had a chance to open her mouth. “If you need something before you go, let us know and we’ll see if we can find it for you.”

“Um... thanks,” Sarah said, giving the man a surprised smile.

“Don’t mention it Ma’am, you saved our asses yesterday,” the Brotherhood soldier replied before he walked back to his post.

“They seem very indebted to you,” Luna murmured as they began to walk up the stairs.

“Yeah... it feels weird,” Sarah confessed. “I mean, when I was a security officer in the Vault, people were mostly just polite about things... up here they actually thank you for it.”

Luna simply nodded as the woman led the way through the door and to another set of stairs. Standing at the top of these stairs was a dark skinned human wearing a bandana and a pair of glasses along with a leather jacket.

“The look on your face says it all,” the man began while looking at Sarah. “You’re wondering who the heck this guy is and why you should care. Well, prepare to be enlightened.” he paused for a moment before continuing. “I am Three Dog; jocky of discs and teller of truths. Lord and Master over the finest radio station to grace the Wastes; Galaxy News Radio. And you, well... I know who you are. Heard about you leavin’ that Vault, travlin the unknown. Just like dear old Dad hmm? Met him already.”

Sarah raised an eyebrow at him. “That’s quite the introduction,” she said.

The man shrugged and turned to Luna.

“Damn, I thought the Brotherhood was pulling my leg, an honest to god alicorn right out of freaking Grognak,” Three Dog said with a shake of his head.

“I do not know of this Grognak of which you speak,” Luna said with a shake of her head. “However, I am not the one who wished to speak with you. Sarah is.”

“Well alright then, let me guess, you’re looking for your dad,” Three Dog said, turning back to Sarah.

“Yes. That’s right,” Sarah stated.

“You’re in luck then; I know where he went,” Three Dog told her and Sarah’s eyes widened in both surprise, and excitement. She hadn’t expected it to be that easy.

“You do? Where is he!?” Sarah questioned frantically.

“Sorry, I can’t tell you,” Three Dog said with a small frown.

“Why the hell not?” Sarah asked with narrowed eyes, she’d known there’d be a catch, but the man was baiting her.

“Well I’m a soldier in what I like to call the ‘Good Fight’ and I need you two to do a job for me,” Three Dog explained.

“What type of job?” Luna asked, narrowing her eyes as her horn began to glow subtly.

“Not too long ago, I could beam my voice all across the Wastes, spreading the word about the Good Fight,” Three Dog explained. “Unfortunately some mutie took a potshot at my broadcasting dish on the Washington Monument and now I’m coming out as static. So, I need you two to retrieve a new disk for me and attach it to the top of the monument.”

Sarah nodded slowly but Luna beat her to the words as Daybreaker slid free of her sheath and began to approach Three Dog in mid air.

“We have a counter offer,” Luna stated. “You will tell us the direction of Sarah’s father’s travel. Or we will beat it out of you with the flat of our sword!”

Three Dog’s eyes widened at the sight of the sword making its way slowly towards him but other than that he stayed calm.

“I’m afraid that I can’t do that,” he said with a shake of his head. “You see, if I don’t get my disk back up then the people of the Wasteland will never get to hear my news and a lot of them will die. I’m the only thing keeping them safe out there.” Daybreaker had reached him and the man could feel the cold emanating off of the blade as it hovered menacingly in the air in front of him.

“Luna, enough,” Sarah said, putting a hand on the mare’s shoulder. Luna looked at Sarah for a moment and then frowned, withdrawing the sword. “Sorry about her, she’s... new here.”

Three Dog shrugged. “Na, don’t worry about it, something about her tells me that she’s a warrior of the Good Fight,” the man said with a small chuckle.

“What is this ‘Good Fight’ that you keep bringing up?” Luna asked him through narrowed eyes.

A smile split the man’s face. “Imagine a picture, okay? A picture of the Capital Wasteland. All that brick and rock. A whole lot of nothing, right?” he began with a small frown. “There’s people out there trying to just barely make it by from day to day. Fighting to stay alive and make something of what they’ve got,” he continued, his frown deepening. Then his face hardened. “But you’ve got all kinds of shit... Slavers, Supermutants, Raiders... they all want a slice of the pie too and aim to take it by force.”

“So the people of this wasteland should fight back,” Luna replied plainly.

“They can’t, not against those kinds of enemies,” Three Dog corrected her. “They just run away and hide or they stay and they die. It just ain’t right. So that’s where I enter the picture. I fight the Good Fight with GNR as my gun!” he exclaimed. “The sound of truth goes out across the Capital Wasteland. Hell, someone’s got to counter that bullshit on the Enclave station!”

Luna frowned at him. “That is a surprisingly noble goal for someone as seemingly arrogant as yourself,” she said, thought she had no idea what this ‘enclave’ he was talking about was.

Most likely a band of idiots who have managed to run one of these ‘radio’ stations, Nightmare said with a mental shrug.

Three Dog shrugged slightly. “What can I say; I’m a D.J. I like to talk.”

“I’m sorry,” Sarah began, interrupting the byplay. “I understand your fight but none of this is helping me find my father.”

“Sorry, I’m so used to talking to an audience that can’t answer I just assume that you just want to hear my voice all the time,” he said, a slightly abashed look on his face.

“That’s fine,” Sarah replied, with a small shrug. “Now I think you were explaining what I needed to do for you to tell me where my father went.”

Three Dog nodded. “Right, now, as I was explaining...”

Wandering Moon Chapter 10: Two Years

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Two years

Two years. It had been two years since her sister had been banished.

Celestia stared out over the plains below her newly finished citadel, now dubbed Canterlot, and sighed. The view from the balcony may have been beautiful, but Celestia was already growing tired of it; she missed her view of the guardians in the old castle in the heart of Everfree. She shook her head, and returned her thoughts to the events of the past two years.

The great white alicorn had led her little ponies through the time of recovery, which was by no means close to being finished, with a kind of detached grief which only reared its head around those she truly trusted and even then only for a few brief seconds before it was retracted once more. She had to be the rock that others leaned on now, not the other way around.

The nobles had finally given up their attempts to skewer each other over what land they should and shouldn’t gain from those who had supported her sister in her bid for power, and Celestia had stopped burning the legislation that they sent her. She still didn’t trust them not to attempt to maul each other politically, but at least they would stick to words and convoluted plans instead of swords and armies.

The peasants and layponies were, as expected, doing poorly as much of their crop had been destroyed or ‘charitably given’ to the clashing armies. However, Celestia knew that given a few more good growing seasons they would recover as well. In the meantime, they would just have to be grateful for the food Celestia had ordained for them to receive every week. Despite the granaries being worried, the alicorn knew that there was enough food to go around for a year or two more.

The thestrals presented a... bigger problem. They were by no means despised by the entire population, most of whom had been surprisingly accepting of their batlike brothers and sisters, but there were still pockets of hatred scattered across the land. Each day Celestia heard horror stories of lynchings and ‘bat hunts’ which were carried out during the dead of night by lone groups of ponies and as of yet, her police forces had been unable to find the sources behind the attacks. With every story she heard Celestia’s heart bled as the knife of hatred and loathing stabbed even deeper into it, twisting and cutting at the alicorn’s conscience.

The nearly silent sound of hoof steps behind her alerted her to the approach of Moonshadow. The young thestral, who as it turned out had only been fourteen when he arrived, made her proud each and every day, quickly grasping the complex games that the nobles played and giving as good as he got, and on some occasions even better.

With Celestia’s help and tutelage the stallion had become adept at problem solving, critical thinking, and even at reading legislation... thought Celestia doubted that he would be ready to truly write anything for quite some time.

“Good afternoon Moonshadow,” Celestia said turning her head to face the blue maned thestral.

“Good afternoon, My Queen,” Moonshadow replied, formal as always upon introduction, giving her a short bow before walking over to stand beside her.

Celestia glanced down at him and a smile of joy crossed her face. Two years ago she would never have suspected that the bedraggled, travel weary, and emotionally distraught thestral would have become so handsome and confident.

Now his blue mane was now well combed and washed and was the same color as the sky as dusk became night. His slate grey coat was now spotlessly clean and the stallion’s powerful leathery wings were folded neatly against his sides. The thestral looked up at her with his dark golden eyes which were just as intense as they had been on that first night, his chiseled jaw set in a small smile.

According to the servants’ gossip, which Celestia had long ago learned to listen too, he was the castle heartthrob and there were many of the castle staff and even several noble mares who giggled whenever he passed. Celestia knew that he hardly gave them any notice, but that didn’t stop them from trying to capture and ensnare his attention through all manner of tricks.

All in all, Celestia was very proud of how far her ‘son’ had come in the two years following their first meeting.

“Have you come with more reports from General Blueblood?” Celestia asked him as she took a seat on her haunches. “Unless of course you are simply after my company, in which case all you need to do is say so and you will have it.”

Moonshadow smiled and sat down beside her.

“In truth, it was both,” he said before he drew a letter out of a satchel bag around his neck with his sharp teeth and passed it up to her. Celestia gently plucked it from within his teeth with her magic and opened up the letter, quickly glancing over its contents.


The Dominion army decided to test our mettle on the field of battle two days ago. Fear not, we beat back the damned dogs with few casualties of our own, less than a hundred, and inflicted somewhere in the realm of two thousand, against them. I may be preemptive in saying this Ma’am but I believe that the campaign season is over for the year.

-Warmest regards and pleasant days: General Blueblood.

Celestia read over the concise message twice and nodded in satisfaction before passing it back to Moonshadow to read over. “Good, hopefully this victory will keep remind the Dominion why the Equestrian Army is the second best in the world.”

“We can hope so,” Moonshadow agreed. “The General seems confident enough of it by the look of this letter.”

“Yes he does,” Celestia nodded before she reached out and pulled the young thestral closer to herself with a billowy white wing. Moonshadow allowed himself to be nudged closer to the mare until his grey fur was touching her own white coat. “So my young ward, what of the other reason are you here?”

Moonshadow sighed and looked down at the balcony floor for a moment before finding the right words.

“I just... wanted to ask you a question,” he said slowly, an obviously nervous look crossing his face.

“Then you must simply ask it,” Celestia stated warmly. “I will not judge you harshly for your question, whatever it may be.”

Moonshadow nodded his head and then rallied another breath. “When are you going to bring your sister back?”

Celestia’s breath caught in her chest and she froze for a moment before she answered causing Moonshadow to look up at her with concern.

“I... honestly do not know. I have been so busy as of late returning our country to the way it was before her rebellion that I had not thought to ask Clover the Clever how to undo her banishment spell,” the alicorn answered uncertainly, then she sighed deeply. “Unfortunatly... even if I had asked, the answer would most likely be the same... not for some decades until I have succeeded in correcting the damage that she did the country.”

“I see...” Moonshadow trailed off with a sigh of his own. “I’m sorry for bringing it up My Queen. I know the subject troubles you deeply... it’s just I know that my people would prefer to have our ruler back.”

Celestia leaned over to gently nuzzle the colt with her proud white muzzle. “Do not fret Moonshadow; I know the ails of your people... and I know that were my sister here she would surely be able to correct some of the issues that I myself may not.”

Moonshadow accepted the nuzzle freely and smiled slightly at the feeling. “Thank you... mother.”

They sat together like that for some time, one wrapped in the other’s embrace until Celestia sighed and unwrapped Moonshadow, getting to her hooves. “I’m afraid my son, that I must depart... your question has reminded me that I have an appointment with Clover that I must get to.”

The thestral nodded. “I will see you at dinner then, mother?”

“Of course,” Celestia said with a small smile. “Now run along, you have fillies to make giggle,” she added with a sly motherly look

Moonshadow blushed scarlet and Celestia left him alone on the balcony, heading for Clover’s chambers.

The Archmage’s mood had been... improving since they’d moved to Canterlot, though she was still far from perfect. She was still sour and for the most part rather cut off from the average pony; in fact the cleaning crew was still in the process of cleaning up the mess left behind when she had offended a noble who had challenged her to a duel. To say that it hadn’t been pretty would have been an understatement and Celestia heard that the stallion was still having night terrors two weeks later.

Worst of all, she had erected a seemingly insurmountable wall between herself and Celestia, and whenever they talked the mare had addressed her formally instead of by name. It saddened Celestia’s heart... but she did not blame the mare, nor begrudge her of her feelings. After all... how could she when it was herself to blame for the mare’s feelings?

The alicorn reached a set of stairs and started to walk downwards into the heart of the mountain where Clover had chosen to make her home and laboratory. Though Celestia had begged her to remain above ground in the light, the mare had chosen instead to move underground citing the safety the spells that she would be performing... and her wish to not be disturbed by the ‘common rabble of idiots’.

Celestia reached the door to Clover’s chambers, a thick solid metal door engraved with a thousand runes, and placed her hoof on the proper one to activate the ‘doorbell’ spell. Celestia winced at the memory of activating the wrong rune, and setting of an intruder countermeasure spell strong enough to suspend even her from the ceiling for several minutes till Clover had depowered it. The answer came swiftly, and the door swung open to show a familiar purple unicorn looking at her with a neutral expression on her face.

“My Queen,” Clover said plainly, not bothering to bow.

The mare’s face was impassive, but the large bags that ran under her eyes and across her face showed just how tired and exhausted she really was. Beneath the outer layer of exhaustion there was still a raging fire of intelligence in her eyes, and below that a pit of grief.

“Clover,” Celestia replied cordially as she stepped through the door and into the intricately carved room.

Unlike all other rooms in the castle which had been made to withstand siege via strengthening spells which had allowed the builders to focus purely on aesthetics; Clover’s room was much different. Instead of being made out of separate pieces of stone and bricks, the room had instead been carved out of a solid block of granite by Clover’s own magic which had then been coated in a layer of iridium and then heavily enchanted to prevent any and all magic from leaving or entering the room. It had then been painted over in a light blue color... the same as Luna’s coat before her turn.

Set along the walls were massive, ancient bookshelves loaded to the brim with hundreds of books, each containing more detail than most libraries. Magically entrenched into the solid stone of the floor was a large circle of silver and gold. A ring of runes running along the outside of it forming a complex pattern that would baffle the average eye and confound anyone but the most intimately knowledgeable about the upper level areas of magic.

Sitting off to the side of the room in a wooden chair, calmly reading one of the many books was Adamant Armor, the golden maned stallion who had become Clover’s constant companion since the night she’d broken down in the garden. Celestia wasn’t sure whether or not Clover enjoyed his company, or if she just trusted and respected him marginally more than the average guard. Whichever the case, the fact remained that he’d put up with her moodiness, and Celestia wasn’t about to throw off a good thing.

“So, what is on the schedule for today?” Clover asked as she led the way to table off to the side of the room. Celestia sat down across from her in an extra large chair that could hold her considerably larger than average sized rear end and smiled.

“Not much I’m happy to say. General Blueblood seems to think that we’ve finally whipped the Dominion enough times to make a real impression on them,” Celestia answered causing Clover to nod.

“Good, with the mutts taken care of we will have fewer... scavengers nipping at our heels,” Clover said with a distasteful frown at the mention of the diamond dogs.

“Indeed, it will be good to have General Blueblood home once more, along with the rest of the troops,” Celestia agreed with a warm note in her voice.

“True enough,” Clover agreed. “Now... what else is on your mind My Queen?”

Celestia frowned for a moment before saying. “Well, I had a question about the banishment of my sister... how long until the spell blocking her return is lifted?”

Clover’s mood darkened and she looked away. “She is to be banished for a thousand years our time, after that the walls will be lifted.”

Celestia frowned. “Why would you choose such a long stretch of time? Truly; I will have things repaired enough for her to return in a matter of decades...”

“Because, not only do you have to repair the country, but also her image,” Clover said, her eyes locking on Celestia’s. “Luna fell to the parasite in the first place because she believed that ponies hated and feared her, instead loving only you and your day. If you do not change that then the exact same thing will happen again once she is home and cured.”

“I see... I had not thought of that,” Celestia said slowly as she frowned.

“I can see that,” Clover replied coldly. “You never have.”

Celestia winced, but nodded slowly, accepting the blame.

“I - yes, you’re right,” Celestia sighed softly. “I... just didn’t think she was so upset at the time... I thought it was just...”

“Just what Celestia? Teenaged angst?” Clover inquired with a critically raised eyebrow.

Celestia bowed her head in shame, tears appearing in her large violet eyes and slowly leaking down her face, they poured like a river for a few long moments as Clover watched her with icy eyes. Then, the tears dried and Celestia’s gaze was boring into Clover’s.

“What do I have to do to get my sister back Clover?” she asked in a low tone, her voice crackling with intensity.

Clover almost flinched under the intensity of the alicorn’s eyes and she was suddenly reminded that Celestia controlled the sun with her magic. A feat that even she couldn’t replicate. It was more than that though, alicorns felt emotions far more intensely than the average pony did... a fact that she knew very well from her friendship with Luna... and the emotions raging behind Celestia’s normally gentle eyes were... to be quite frank; terrifying.

“Well... you must wait nine hundred and ninety eight years-”

“-you said a thousand but a second ago!” Celestia protested, a fiery edge of anger in her voice.

Clover sighed. “A thousand sounds more ominous than nine hundred and ninety eight years, eleven months, five days, and twelve hours...” she trailed off, looking to the side. “Yes... I counted.”

Celestia gave her a flat look and the other mare fidgeted slightly beneath the sheer... presence of the alicorn.

“Continue,” Celestia finally said neutrally after several seconds of eying Clover.

“Well-” Clover cleared her throat for a second before continuing. “You must wait nine hundred and ninety eight years, then you return to the place where Luna had the deepest connection... in other words the old castle, and have a direct female blood descendent to me cast the return spell.”

“I see...” Celestia mused and then looked at Clover carefully. “In that case...” she trailed off and looked at Clover.

“Before you say anything,” Clover said, holding up a hoof stopping Celestia from saying anything more. “I have already accepted that, and I know who it will be.” She looked behind her to the stallion sitting in the chair reading a book. Celestia also cast a look to Adamant Armor who looked up and blushed and his white coat turned red under the duel looks.

“Ah... you are certainly well... prepared then...” the alicorn said, a little awkwardly.

Clover nodded swiftly. “I have failed Luna once already... I will not fail her a second time.” Then she locked gazes again with Celestia, steely conviction coloring her voice. “And neither will you.”

“You are right; I will not,” Celestia promised her. “I want nothing more than to correct my mistakes... I will do so even if it costs me my life.”

“Good... or else I will be forced to haunt your immortal rear end,” Clover stated, and Celestia was uncertain if she was joking.

“I will keep that in mind... I would not want you haunting me Clover... I fear that I would never get enough sleep with your constant lecturing on magical theory,” Celestia said, a small smile on her face.

Clover stared at her for a long moment... then, ever so slowly, the Archmage's cheeks lifted up into a small smile of her own. Slowly, as if breaking through a two year thick sheet of ice, the two began to chuckle softly, then to giggle a little louder, and then finally to laugh.

Wandering Moon Chapter 11:Talk of the Past

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The duo left the GNR building together after getting a bit more information from Three Dog and backtracked back to a new metro tunnel very close to the one that they had entered the area through. Their destination was a place simply known as ‘the mall’, within which was a building called a museum where they would find a ‘disk’ of some kind that Three Dog would use to launch his ‘signal’ across the Wastes.

Luna had unconsciously taken the lead through the tunnels of the metro with Sarah walking along beside her. Strapped across the woman’s back was the large catapult that she had used to kill the behemoth. Luna regretted being too busy moaning in pain to have seen the true destructive power, but Nightmare hadn’t been and she’d most certainly been impressed.

Given further thought, the mare could almost say that her other half was in love with the ‘Fatman’ as it had been deemed. The drool that entered Luna’s mouth when she thought of it was a good indicator of how Nightmare felt about it.

We are not ‘in love’ with it, simply attracted to the possibilities that it represents, Nightmare replied archly, picking up on Luna’s thoughts. Luna just let out a mental chuckle and let the subject drop for a time.

As they walked along the ancient corridors of the dead machines, Luna fiddled with the laser rifle that she had gotten from the dead Brotherhood soldier. She was doing her best to learn how it functioned and becoming more comfortable with it so that she could provide a decent ranged attack and pick up a little slack in order to give Sarah less to worry about.

It is an ingenious little device, Luna murmured to Nightmare as they walked along the path that had once been used to move hundreds of people. So potent and yet so small.

Indeed, not only that, but it is capable of incredibly accuracy given the right time and training as shown by those Brotherhood soldiers... interesting, Nightmare replied with a thoughtful ‘frown’.

What are you thinking? Luna asked curiously.

We are thinking that if we gave a battalion of our thestrals these tools we would wipe Celestia’s forces out before she had realized that there was even a danger, Nightmare said, a slight chuckle in her voice.

Luna frowned and shook her head, causing Sarah to look over at her with a raised eyebrow. “Something up Luna?” the woman asked.

“No, we were just thinking,” Luna replied, giving a small shrug.

“About what?” Sarah persisted.

“About our own buisness,” Luna retorted with a snort of annoyance at the questions.

Sarah stopped in her tracks and gave Luna an annoyed look of her own. “Look Luna, I’ve put up with not knowing anything about you for this long because I didn’t think it would do any harm... but you can somehow travel into my dreams and you’re carrying around a sword that can cut someone in half without a second’s thought... that means that you’re freaking dangerous and I want to know more about you!” Sarah said, anger rising to the surface. “Otherwise I’m not sure I can really trust you!”

We told you she would turn on us! Nightmare exclaimed. Quickly, decapitate her!

She deserves to know about us... at least partially, Luna replied slowly.

Nightmare ‘stared’ at her aghast. Have you lost hold of your senses? she asked. What could that possibly do?

It would help her to trust us instead of distrust us, Luna replied pointedly.

... fine, Nightmare stated, seeing no point in arguing further. But if she attacks us, then we will purge her with extreme prejudice!

Luna rolled her eyes and found that Sarah was still staring at her with a questioning expression, her frown having gotten deeper at the mare’s silence. The mare looked around the tunnel for a moment before spotting a conveniently placed sleeping mat set into the side. She nodded towards it and Sarah led the way over, sitting down on it while Luna lay down in front of her.

“Talk,” Sarah demanded.

“As you wish,” Luna replied, closing her eyes and gathering her thoughts. “What would you like to know about me?”

Sarah was quiet for a moment before she spoke. “I want to know who you really are.”

“Very well,” Luna said softly before continuing. “My name is Luna Dusk Shine, as I told you upon our first meeting I am a Princess of the kingdom of Equestria,” she explained. Sarah nodded slowly, and gestured for her to continue. “I have an elder... sister named Celestia-” the mare’s tone turned dark. “-who rules over our kingdom.”

Sarah frowned at that. “You don’t sound very happy about that,” she said, her eyes looking over Luna curiously.

“How could we be? She is a worthless tyrant who never lets a chance to snub us go by!” Luna replied, her eyes taking on an odd yellowish glow.

“So... she’s a Queen, and you’re a princess... and you’re saying that she’s a tyrant?” Sarah asked slowly.

“Indeed, that is what we are saying,” Luna agreed with an angry nod.

“Okay...” Sarah trailed off before frowning. “What’s so bad about her?”

“She is prideful and self obsessed with her own beauty as is the rest of the kingdom who take pleasure during her wretched daytime!” Luna snarled. “While during our glorious night they lay fearfully asleep in their beds, ignoring our work and its beauty!”

“What are you talking about?” Sarah asked her, clearly confused. “No one controls the day or the night Luna, I may have slept through a lot of Mr. Brotch’s tests and lectures, but even I know that,” the woman added.

Luna shook her head. “That may be the way of things here, but in Equestria, Celestia and I have hold over the sun and the moon and-”

“Wait, you’re telling me that you can move the sun and the moon?” Sarah asked her, the woman’s skepticism rising with the mare’s every word. “You know Luna, you’re a large horse with a pair of wings and a horn on your head, you can levitate things, and you can apparently enter my dreams... but I draw the line when with you saying that you can control the sun.”

“Well then it is good that we control the moon,” Luna replied with a snort.

“How?” Sarah asked. “Last time I checked, the moon was a giant hunk of rock orbiting the earth... or Equestria in your case I guess... how could you possibly control something that big?”

“Magic,” Luna answered, causing Sarah to narrow her eyes.

“Oh come on, you can’t use that as an explanation for everything!” Sarah cried, clearly annoyed.

“Fine, if you must insist upon a longer explanation then I shall give you one,” Luna replied with a frown. “My sister and I were born with a much stronger connection to the two heavenly objects then the average pony, upon our Tia’s fifteenth and my twelfth birthday we both received our cutie marks when”

“Cutie mark? What’s that?” Sarah asked, trying not to giggle at the oddly named thing.

Luna gave her a flat look and nodded towards the shadowed moon on her flank. “Yes, a cutie mark, it is a magical representation of a pony’s special talent. It appears on their flank when a pony finds out what they are best at,” Luna explained, as if talking to a child.

“Oh... that makes sense... I guess...” Sarah said with a frown. “It explains how you got a tattoo to show up on your fur... I’d been wondering about that actually.”

“Yes, may I continue?” Luna asked, rolling her eyes slightly in exasperation.

“Um yeah sure, go ahead,” Sarah replied, still trying to make sense of it.

“As I was saying, Tia and I recieved our cutie marks one day when we were in the middle of an argument about whether or not I had to eat spinach...” Luna trailed off, making a disgusted face. “In the heat of our argument our horns lit up and the sun and the moon listened to our cries, coming to the aid of either side...”

Luna was silent for a moment as she continued to gather her thoughts, then she continued.

“During those days, such a thing was unheard of, the Council of Unicorns controlled the movements of the sun and the moon and when they were suddenly stolen from them by two unassuming orphan fillies living out in the woods... they reacted violently,” she frowned to herself. “I’m still not sure how they found us, but find us they did, and they tried to kill us for our so called offenses...” she trailed off, a far off look in her eyes.

“You will not harm my sister!” a young white alicorn shouted at the group of robed unicorns who surrounded them. Luna stared at her elder sister, whose horn was glowing dimly in the light of the setting sun. “I would sooner die than allow that!”

“You are both going to die anyways,” an arrogant voice said, though Luna was unsure from which of the cloaked figures it came from. “I don’t know how you two fillies managed to do what only we can, but I know for certain that you won’t survive the night!”

“Tia, I’m scared,” Luna cried softly from behind her sister’s protective presence.

“I know you are Lulu, but don’t worry, they won’t hurt you as long as I’m here” the elder alicorn whispered back before turning back to the assembled unicorns. “My name is Celestia Dawn Shine and you will not lay a single hoof upon my sister! If you do then I will kill all of you!”

This pronouncement was met by several guaffing laughs.

“You?” One of the unicorns asked. “You’re nothing but a stupid little filly who somehow stole the sun from us, you’re nothing to be afraid of.”

“Ha, I’d like to see you try,” another of them laughed.

Luna shivered with fear at the voices, they sounded quite sure of themselves and that frightened her.

Celestia grit her teeth. “I swear it!”

A sudden blast of magic caught Celestia in the chest and the white alicorn was thrown painfully into a nearby tree with a sickening snapping sound. She fell to the ground and didn’t move again. Luna let out a shriek of fear but before she could do any more one of the unicorns grabbed her in a telekinetic grip and brought her to float in front of him, she struggled feebly in his grip but was unable to break free.

“You know,” he said almost conversationally. “This one is rather cute, perhaps we should keep her.” Luna froze, there was something disgusting about the stallion’s tone.

“I don’t know,” another said, her voice a bit detached from the issue, obviously not really caring. “She seems a bit young for you.”

“She has her cutie mark,” the stallion pointed out with a leering gaze towards Luna’s flank... and beyond it. “That means that she is more than old enough, does it not?”

Luna struggled frantically in his grip, which only seemed to make him smile wider at her.

Another of the unicorns snorted. “We’re here to kill them, not satisfy your lust. Go fuck a concubine if you want, but these two are dying."

“But none of them are as... innocent as her,” the first stallion protested. “It isn’t as if I’d keep her all to myself, you could have a turn with her as we-”

He was interrupted as a large branch, wrapped in a golden magical aura, suddenly stabbed down through the back of his neck and out through the front of his throat, a streak of blood washed over Luna’s face as he gagged painfully and tried to pull the branch out. Luna fell to the ground with a painful thump.

The other unicorns looked around in shocked confusion and suddenly another of their number was impaled, this time the branch slamming through his right eye, gouging deeply into his brain.

The mare who had spoken earlier sent out a rolling wave of fire from her horn, but accomplished nothing besides setting fire to a few trees and shrubs. She was rewarded for her efforts by a large stick punching into her stomach with enough force to throw her to the side with a spray of blood.

The other unicorn’s looked around wildly for a moment before apparently coming to the same conclusion and vanishing in several bursts of light.

Luna lay there on the ground, shivering in fear, tears falling from her eyes and down her cheeks as she faced the ground. A soft nuzzle made her look up to find her sister standing over her. The older alicorn lay down beside Luna and the filly wrapped herself around the elder’s neck, weeping into the soft white fur.

“I told you that they wouldn’t hurt you,” Celestia whispered softly, if a bit sorely, as she closed her wings around Luna and the filly wept.

After she finished that section of her tale Luna remained silent and Sarah continued to gently stroke her friend. “You don’t need to continue any further for now,” Sarah told her.

“Thank you,” the mare said softly, shivering slightly as the old memory washed over her, just as intense as when it had first happened. A nagging guilt ran through her mind at thoughts of her sister... Celestia had always watched over her... always protected her when she was in danger... always-

And despite all that she ignored us when we most needed it! She let us be pushed aside and neglected by our subjects in exchange for their love and affection! Nightmare hissed venomously in her mind, halting her thoughts. She stole Clover’s friendship from us turned what few other friends we had away from us, and that is the least of her offenses!

“We should get going,” Sarah said, breaking the silence between them and getting to her feet. “Thank you for telling me a bit about you Luna.”

“It was... my pleasure Sarah...” Luna said haltingly with a sigh. “Talking of the past is a good way to remember things.”

Sarah let out a single laugh. “Yeah, yeah it is,” she said. Luna nodded, and rose to her hooves... suddenly feeling very tired.

They continued walking in near silence for several hours, making their way from one tunnel to the next until they finally got to where they were going.

“Okay... this is it,” Sarah said as they approached a metal gate. “The Natural History museum is going to be right on the other side of this.”

“And from there it will be a simple job of walking across this ‘mall’ and retrieving the disk from the other museum,” Luna said with a small nod.

Sarah grinned. “Yep, and I’ll finally be able to find out where my dad is.”

“Then let us not tarry here,” Luna said as she opened the metal gate and slowly led the way up the stairs. Her vision swept across the destroyed remnants of what had obviously been a large battlefield. Off to her right a giant soaring tower rose high into the sky and to her left an incredibly large building with a half destroyed dome dominated the scenery. As she tried to take in what she was saying a raspy voice spoke out from behind them.

“Oh joy, another fucking tourist, and this one brought a pet.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 12: To the Mall and Beyond

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Luna whirled around to see rotting fleshed ghoul wearing a dark leather outfit and carrying a laser rifle on its back walking towards them. The mare acted without thinking and brought Daybreaker swinging sideways at the zombie. To her considerable surprise, the zombie dodged, rolling to the side and coming up with its rifle pointing it at Luna’s head.

“Get control of your pet before I roast it’s fucking brain, tourist,” the zombie growled to Sarah. In response, Sarah slapped the side of Luna’s neck with her palm. Luna’s eyes widened and she turned to Sarah in surprise.

She has turned on us in favor of one of the undead! Nightmare’s voice filled her mind. We warned you this would happen!

“Sarah, what is the meaning of this?” Luna growled. “How can you be siding with this undead abomination over us?”

“Because,” Sarah began, looking straight into Luna’s vivid eyes. “Not all ghouls are like the ones we saw down in the tunnels,” she continued and then nodded to the ghoul. “That one is intelligent.”

Luna scoffed. “The undead are not creatures who have real intelligence, especially not the common zombie. Whatever intelligence they once possessed quickly burns away after they turn!” she exclaimed. “We should end its miserable life now, its spirit would be thankful!”

“Excuse me,” the ghoul said from off to the side, her face a mask of annoyance.

“Speak not in our tongue, zombie!” Luna shouted, turning back to the ghoul, raising Daybreaker again, preparing for another slash.

“I’m not a zombie you smooth-skinned blue furred idiot!” the ghoul shouted at her. “If I was going to go feral any time soon then I would have done it already! Now put down your sword before I melt your face!”

A low growl rumbled out of Luna’s throat and she was about to bring Daybreaker down at the ghoul when Sarah slapped her neck again. The mare turned back to face Sarah, anger in her eyes.

“Stop interfering Sarah, this zombie is lying to us in an attempt to escape its demise!” Luna snarled.

“No it’s not!” Sarah retorted angrily. “It’s not a zombie, it’s a ghoul, I told you this earlier!”

“You told us that they are creatures being animated by the ‘radiation’ and like to eat hapless travelers, nothing more!” Luna replied, her eyes narrowing dangerously at Sarah.

“Yes, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all flesh-hungry cannibals!” Sarah exclaimed.

“How can they not be? They’re zombies!” Luna growled. “Their one purpose is to kill the living and do the bidding of their infernal masters!”

Ghoul, not zombie,” Sarah told her, grinding her teeth together. “They have just as much of a right to live as we do dammit!”

“HOW CAN YOU BE SO BLIND?” Luna roared.

“LOOK IN A FUCKING MIRROR!” Sarah roared back.

The two glared at each other angrily, neither looking away. Sarah found herself looking into a pair of eyes that were far more catlike and predatory then she was expecting... they were the same eyes as the Luna who had entered her dream had possessed. Regardless, she held the stare.

Luna’s heart was beating rapidly, her face beginning to flush with heat as she stared into Sarah’s intense blue eyes. The alicorn was suddenly reminded of her dream, and she was forced to look away else her mind would take her further to that dream.

Focus on the now, Nightmare’s voice suddenly snapped. There is an undead creature standing a scant few feet from us and it most likely using this time to plan on how to separate and eat u-

“Are you two done yet?” the ghoul’s voice suddenly asked, interrupting Nightmare’s warning. Luna turned to regard the ghoul, her eyes narrowing. “Because I have more important things to do then listen to two smooth skins argue.”

“Sarah...” Luna said softly, looking back at the woman.

“Trust me, Luna,” Sarah replied with a sigh before she turned to the ghoul. “Yes, we’re done. Sorry, my friend is a bit... jumpy when it comes to ghouls.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” the ghoul replied, giving Luna a glare. “What the hell is she anyways? She reminds me of a horse, but those all died when the bombs fell.”

“She’s an alicorn,” Sarah replied. “And please, don’t ask how I met her, it’s a long story.”

The ghoul shrugged. “Alicorn huh? Like out of Grognak?”

There is that name again, Nightmare pointed out. It needs investigation when we have the time.

“Yeah, like that,” Sarah agreed with a nod.

“My name is Luna,” the mare added, speaking up. “I... apologize for my... rudeness.”

To her considerable surprise, the ghoul shrugged. “Meh, you’re not the first tourist to stumble across me and try and kill me... though you are the first one to use a levitating sword.” She shrugged again. “The name’s Willow by the way.”

“Sarah,” Sarah replied as she let out a long breath, it looked like she wasn’t going to need to worry about Luna attacking the ghoul any longer. “So, what are you doing out here Willow?”

“I’m the sentry for Underworld, city of ghouls,” Willow replied.

“Did you say City of Ghouls?” Luna inquired with a raised eyebrow.

“Sure did. Underworld. It’s right inside the Museum of History, through the skull,” she answered with a slight shrug. ”We’re not all crazy about smooth skins like you two walking around, but we’ll feed, trade, and repair stuff for ya if you’ve got the caps. So long as you’re not a ghoul hater,” she finished, sending a glare at Luna.

Luna suddenly felt... ashamed of herself. “I really am sorry... where I come from there is no such thing as a good zombie...”

“Yeah, and I’m a ghoul so stop calling me a zombie,” Willow replied before shaking her head and turning back to Sarah. “So what are you two tourists looking for anyways?”

“Well, we’re not tourists.” Sarah said

“Come on, here you are in the Mall of our nation’s fine capital, taking in the sights, Visiting the monuments,” Willow said with a slight roll of her eyes. “Face it. You’re a tourist.”

“Alright... so we’re a couple of tourists,” Sarah chuckled a little.

“Yeah, and tourists don’t come to the Mall for no reason, so what are you here looking for?” Willow asked.

“The Museum of Technology, we’re on a mission from Three Dog to repair his dish,” Sarah answered. Willow let out a whistle through her decaying lips.

“Wow, good luck, that place is crawling with the muties,” she said. “And to get there you’ve got to cross the trenches,” she added, pointing out at the warzone where Sarah could dimly see the large figures of the super mutants walking around in the light provided by the setting sun.

“Well... that’s... great,” Sarah groaned.

“Do not despair Sarah,” Luna said with a small frown as she looked out over the trenches. “Night is falling.”


“And the night belongs to me,” Luna replied, giving the woman a strange smile.

“You... ever wonder why we’re here?” a supermutant armed with a minigun asked, looking at his companion with a frown as they stood alone atop their section of the trenches.

“Umm... to eat humans and turn them into us?” the second similarly armed mutant replied, confusion splitting his brow.

The first super mutant’s frown thickened. “Well duh... I meant beyond that.”

“What’s beyond that?” the second asked.

“Well... there must be more to life than just eating, fighting, and turning,” the first mutant replied. “I mean... entire Wasteland wide open for us.”

His companion gave him a confused look. “What that mean?”

“I... I don’t know... just a weird thought,” the first mutant replied with a sigh. “I... me... just thought that there more to life.”

The second mutant looked at his companion and frowned. “Have you been trying to read those STUPID book thingies again?”

The first mutant shook his head. “NO books STUPID! I was just thinking.”

“Don’t! Thinking is dangerous!” the second mutant replied.

“Yeah, you probably rig-” the first mutant was interrupted in mid sentence as a large silver blade stabbed through his back in a spray of blood.

The second mutant was about to let out an enraged roar when there was a painful CRACK as something slammed into his back. He tumbled forward and Sarah brought the butt of her rifle down on his head. The mutant struggled on so she bashed its head again and again until the skull split and the mutant lay dead.

“Well done,” Luna commented from where she was standing over the first mutant, grabbing up its ammunition while Sarah did the same. The woman flashed her a fierce smile.

“Feels good to be doing this to them instead of the other way around,” Sarah replied. Then she looked over the two miniguns. “Hey Luna... these are probably worth a lot... I hate to just leave them out here for the next batch of muties.”

Luna frowned and looked down at the miniguns. “True...”

Oh no, we are not a beast of burden! Nightmare exclaimed angrily in her head.

I am not suggesting that we become one... but Sarah does make a valid point, Luna pointed out.

“I mean, I don’t want to use you like a pack mule or anything... but I’m not sure if I can carry another thirty pounds... especially if they’re that bulky,” Sarah added with a frown. Then she smiled. “I’ve got it,” she said as she reached out for the miniguns and before Luna had truly grasped what she was doing, both miniguns were reduced to several much smaller piles of metal which Sarah then scooped into her ever expanding duffle bag.

Luna smiled. “That is a good solution my friend,” she said.

“Thanks,” Sarah replied, slinging the bag over her shoulder and standing back up. Unfortunately the weight was too much and she would have toppled over if not for Luna moving to catch her across her back. “Whoops...” Sarah said with a blush. “Guess it’s still too heavy for me.”

Luna was blushing a little as well, for a slightly different reason. “Don’t worry about it Sarah,” she said as her magic reached out and grabbed onto the duffle bag, removing it from the woman’s shoulder and attaching it to one of the hooks she’d added to the armor on her back. The bag rested heavily on her back, but Luna had long grown used to the weight of armor, so another few pounds was not entirely noticeable.

Sarah let out a relieved breath as she straightened up. “You didn’t have to do that Luna,” she said, though she was clearly happy that she had.

“Nonsense,” Luna replied. “You were obviously straining yourself and there was no need for you to.”

“Well... thanks,” Sarah said with a smile. “Now we should keep moving before the next round of idiots gets here,” she added.

Luna noded in agreement and the two set off at a crouch. As they moved Sarah looked over at Luna who was stealthing her way forward with surprising smoothness. The last time she’d seen the mare try and sneak it had been in the Super Duper Mart... and it had been for the most part unsuccessful thanks to her hooves. Out in the open like this, Luna was truly a master of stealth.

Her pale blue coat had taken on a darker appearance and made her hard to distinguish from the air in front of her and she moved in smooth graceful strides that ate up ground at an incredible rate. Sarah found herself unconsciously tracking the mare’s steps, doing her best to put her feet down where the mare had.

They made quick progress and arrived at the entrance to the Museum of Technology. Luna eyed the building for a moment. The large stone faces stared down at them uncaringly and despite the wear and tear of it, the building still looked very sturdy.

Well I must say, these humans are good at making buildings stand for centuries of disuse, Nightmare commented. It is rare to see an Equestrian ruin in such good conditions after two hundred years.

Though that could be blamed upon Discord, Luna commented. He did enjoy breaking things when he threw a ‘tantrum’.

True enough, Nightmare replied.

“So, are we here to stand around staring at this place all day?” Sarah asked from beside her, making Luna look over at her, a small embarrassed smile on her face.

“Sorry... I was just thinking,” Luna said.

“Oh, alright,” Sarah said while giving the mare a slightly raised eyebrow. “Let’s get going okay? I want to get this done quick.”

Luna nodded and pushed the doors open.

“THIS IS SO YOUR FAULT!” Sarah shouted to Luna as they crouched behind the pillar.

“My fault? You were the one who blew our cover!” Luna retorted angrily from where she was crouched behind the opposite pillar. Bullets flew at them in a continuous stream from the upper balcony in front of them and from behind the desk.

“I just wanted to get a layout of the room!” Sarah shot back. “How was I supposed to know that there would be ten of them out there?”

“You should have let the one of us with stealth experience do it!” Luna replied, looking out from behind the pillar and firing a blast of crimson laser at one of the mutants. It missed completely and the alicorn withdrew back to cover with a muffled curse.

Aim better! Nightmare scolded her.

I would like to see you try! Luna growled back.

“You would have done just as badly Ms. Noisy McCloppyhooves!” Sarah shouted back dismissively as the bullets drilled into the pillar. The woman leaned out and locked her sniper rifle on one of the mutant’s heads, firing. The bullet streaked out of the gun and... missed. “Shit,” the woman grunted.

Apparently, one of the mutants got bored shooting at the pillar, and charged towards Sarah. As he reached her he made a punch for her head. Sarah ducked away and responded by giving him a solid punch to the chest, resulting in bruised knuckles. Luckily, he punch was enough to make the mutant stagger backwards and gave Sarah time to draw her 10mm and fire three shots into its face; dropping the bastard and partially destroying its head in the process.

Sarah rubbed her bruised knuckles with a painful wince as the ache spread through her hand. Note to self... find some brass knuckles, she mentally muttered to herself as she went back to hugging the pillar.

Meanwhile Luna took the time to look out of cover again, and sent two blasts of crimson laser at one of the mutants taking cover behind the desk. Much to her elation, the mare’s lasers flew true and the mutant fell to the floor with a scream, two holes in its chest.

Better! Nightmare encouraged her. Now just do that a few more times!

Thank you for those wise words Luna snarked.

We do not know how to properly advise you in the process of using this device, take our praise and be grateful for it, Nightmare replied dryly. Now be careful, the one on the right is getting clever.

Luna frowned and saw the super mutant farthest to the right was trying to get into a better position to shoot her. In response the mare pointed her laser rifle at him and magically pulled the trigger down as many times as she could, expecting a matching number of beams to shoot out. She turned out to be mistaken. Instead of beams of hot death, the rifle did nothing. Luna frowned.

“Work you piece of metal!” she exclaimed.

“Reload! You’ve got to reload Luna!” Sarah shouted over to her above the ongoing roar before she leaned out of cover and fired a round at one of the mutants in the balcony, the bullet slamming through his forehead, dropping him to the floor in a pile of limbs.

Luna frowned, and ejected the spent microfusion cell, throwing it away, and replaced it with a new one. She brought it up to fire on the mutant just in time to stop him from pulling down the trigger, and the fiery beam of death lanced out, glossing over his face. The mutant fell back screaming in pain as his facial features melted.

“Thank you,” she shouted to Sarah. See, she is once more keeping us safe, Luna mentally added to Nightmare.

I still say she will betray us given the proper chance, Nightmare replied.

Meanwhile Sarah crouched down and took another look out of cover, the mutant’s numbers were beginning to thin. There were only four or so left alive, all of whom were on the balcony above them. The woman pulled her head back behind cover in time to avoid a cluster of bullets and frowned.

“Luna,” she shouted.

“Yes?” Luna shouted back.

“We’re going to rush for that door behind the desk!” Sarah shouted.

“Understood!” Luna replied as she eyed the open doorway.

“In 3. 2. 1. now!” Sarah yelled, rolling out from behind the pillar and coming up in at a run as she sprinted for the doorway. Luna mirrored her without the roll and the two burst for the doorway, gunfire clattering off of the floor behind them with a loud ratatatatatat.

They reached the doorless doorway at a sprint and stumbled as they reached their destination. Sarah leaned against the doorframe, her breath coming out in swift intakes and outakes, her heart racing.

Once she calmed herself she turned to Luna and began, “Okay we’re safe from here I don’t think they can get to us from in her-”

The door to her left burst open and a super mutant with an assault rifle charged out, roaring.

“PUNY HUMANS!” he shouted at the top of his lungs, pulling down the trigger. The weapon jerked in his hand, but no bullet shot out. The mutant looked down at the gun in his hands, a confused and almost childlike expression on his face, as if to say ‘why gun no shoot?’. Sarah responded by calmly shooting him in the face with her 10mm.

“Okay, now they can’t get us,” Sarah said with a small pant.

Luna let out a small chuckle. “Well that’s good...” she looked around, there were only three doorways that branched off from the one they’d taken, two of which led to bathroom. “So... I take it we’re taking that one?” she asked, nodding towards the last door.

“Yep,” Sarah replied, nodding and leading the way towards it.

Sarah opened the door, expecting another mutant to charge at her from behind it, luckily, none did. Instead, she was rewarded by a set of stairs. “Between the sprinting, crouching, and climbing, I’m certainly getting my cardio for the day,” she muttered as she began to lead Luna up the stairs.

“What?” Luna asked her.

“Nothing,” Sarah said, shaking her head and running an arm over her forehead, brushing her black hair out of the way. Once they reached the first landing, the pair was confronted by a truly noxious smell. Sarah gagged, as did Luna, as the smell of blood and internal organs washed over their senses. On the ground before them was a... bag full of gore... there was no other way to describe it.

Is that what they do to those they capture? Nightmare asked, clearly disgusted by the atrocity.

Well... that one earlier did mention eating their enemies... I guess that is the form they prefer their meat in, Luna replied slowly, fighting down her breakfast. It wasn’t that she’d never smelt burnt or dead bodies before, especially after they’d been left out in the sun too long and began to split open... but there was something inherently wrong with turning your enemy into a literal bag of organs.

Sarah meanwhile was also having trouble keeping her lunch down, and her vision kept on getting drawn back to the bag of gore along with the pool of blood slowly spreading out from it. This is fresh! she thought to herself. It can’t be more than half an hour old... The woman shook her head, she didn’t have time for this.

“Come on, let’s see what’s at the top of these stairs,” she grunted, tapping Luna on the side of the neck.

Luna blinked twice and shook her head. “Right, lead the way.”

The woman did so and they soon arrived at a metal door which Sarah slowly eased open, luckily, the room was empty, unluckily it was also a dead end. In front of them was a windowed room looking out at the balcony along with a pair of terminals. Even worse, the mutants on the other side of the balcony could see them and responded to their presence by shooting at the glass. Sarah dove to the ground, expecting bullets and broken glass to be showering down on her within the next few seconds, but much to the mutant’s obvious disappointment, the glass held.

“COWARDLY HUMAN!” one them roared before it began beating on the glass.

Luna looked over at Sarah. “I do hope that you have a reason for bringing us here,” she said with a frown. “Because as much as I enjoy four on one fights... in these quarters it will not be fun.”

“Shush,” Sarah replied as she walked up to one of the terminals and pulled down the keyboard. Luna continued to watch the mutants pound on the glass, getting ready to unleash Daybreaker on them if they managed to get through. After a minute Sarah pulled away from the terminal and there was a sudden commotion from the other side of the glass. The sound of bullets impacting off of the supermutants filled the air and blood stained the glass.

Luna jumped in surprise at the sudden racket but calmed down once she realized that they were safe within the booth.

“I wonder who chose for the password to be ‘travelers’,” Sarah mused.

“Sarah... how did you do that?” Luna asked, gesturing towards the dead supermutants.

“Oh, well, I was a security officer back in the vault,” Sarah answered. “You’ve got to know how to hack in case some kid decides to pull a prank and gets himself or someone else locked somewhere.”

“That... doesn’t answer my question,” Luna said slowly.

“It’s... complicated and I’ll explain later, okay?” Sarah asked as she went back to the terminal and her fingers danced over it for a few seconds before she pressed a red button on the side. “Let’s keep moving.”

Luna nodded, and followed her out of the room heading deeper into the museum and closer to their prize.

Wandering Moon Chapter 13: Tour of the Past

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There were few times in Luna’s life when she had ever truly been immersed in her surroundings like she was as she walked back into the main lobby of the Museum of Technology. Now that there were no super mutants shooting at her, she felt her gaze being drawn to the downed mechanical craft. She walked over and began to investigate it, puzzled by its overall design. It did not appear to be any form of train... nor a carriage of some kind. Her mystery was solved when she found a metal plaque and began to read over it.

The plaque gave interesting details into the craft’s purpose... as she read the scant paragraph of description she found herself enthralled by the idea. To be capable of providing flight to those besides pegasi and thestrals was... truly staggering, the sheer number of innovations and benefits alone would make it a worthwhile dream to pursue.

Not to mention that they would be a great asset in our future war against our sister, Nightmare added smugly.

Luna frowned. Must you always bring that up?

Why are you not thinking about it constantly? Nightmare replied with a mental scoff. We want it, and when we get back... war is what we shall reap until Celestia lies dead and bloody beneath our hooves and our subjects love us.

I... look forward to it... Luna replied slowly. It is just...these last few days have just been difficult...

Do not overly concern yourself. We are aware that this is difficult for us, but once this difficulty has been overcome we will return to Equestria and take up our proper place as Queen of the Night, Nightmare said.

Luna nodded slowly. Indeed... it shall be glorious.

Meanwhile Sarah was busy looting the dead muties for their rifles and ammo, which she was collecting between her arms and pockets until she could transfer it into her bag which Luna was carrying. The woman frowned to herself, she felt strangely light without the weight of her bag over her shoulder... it was an odd feeling. As she walked around the room, scanning for anything and everything that could possibly be useful she noticed that one of the wall mounted computer terminals was blinking faintly.

Sarah’s eyebrows furrowed, if it was blinking, then that meant it had an unread message. The woman walked up to the terminal and began to sift through the options until she came to the end where there was an odd entry, three zeros in a row. With a shrug the woman clicked on it, certain that this small of a distraction couldn’t take more than a minute to investigate. The message read as follows.

Hey there Jiggs,

I finally found a good place to ditch your share of the loot. It was hell getting here, but I made it. I left the usual bread crumbs all over some of info terminals in this place: their computer security was a joke. Complete the sequence and you’re home free, but make any mistakes and the system will lock you out. We’ll meet up in the usual spot later.

Good luck,


Sarah raised an eyebrow at that, she couldn’t tell when the message had been placed there, but it never hurt to investigate this type of thing. As Moira had once told her while she’d been puking up her internal organs ‘the past is always a good place to look for things’. With a shrug Sarah clicked the enter key and found that a new entry had been added at the bottom. Sarah maneuvered her selector down to it and pressed the enter button again.

A list of numbers sprouted up.

> #009

> #019

> #030

> #049

Sarah let out a soft groan. It would have to be math based wouldn’t it? She ran a hand down her face before looking at the numbers for a few moments. As she stared at them she noticed a pattern, the numbers could all be divided by something... all except 19 which was only divisible by 1 and itself. What had Mister Brotch called those numbers?

“Come on brain...” Sarah grumbled to herself. She stared at the numbers for a little longer before a little light went off in her head. Prime, they’re called prime numbers! And the guy who was supposed to do this is named Prime so...

With a quick keystroke she maneuvered the selector down one and pressed the enter key. The screen returned to the main display, and Sarah saw that where the previous entry had once been was now taken up by a confirmation. She grinned quietly at her victory, she may not have been very good at history, or math, or science.... or medicine much to her father’s eternal shame, but she was damn good at finding patterns!

Sarah turned to find herself face to muzzle with Luna who had been about to speak. The mare stepped back a step, a small blush on her face.

“Sorry, I was just going to ask you if you were ready to move on,” Luna stated.

“Yeah, I’m ready. Just give me a second to stow these,” Sarah agreed with a nod. She scooped up the armfuls of assault rifles and placed them in the bag on Luna’s back.

Then the two set off up the stairs, Sarah noticed two more information terminals, but neither of them were flashing so she ignored them. She tried to go left, but found her paths blocked by fallen debris, on the bright side, she also spotted two ‘stealth boys’ and pocketed them. Luna followed dutifully beside the woman, her magic gently wrapped around the hilt of Daybreaker.

When they reached the end of the landing, an automated voice spoke out of nothingness, causing Luna to jump in place in surprise and swing her eyes around, looking for a threat. Sarah placed a steadying hand on her shoulder and Luna let out a small breath, calming herself.

I will never get used to this place, she mentally grumbled to the Nightmare. If something is not trying to maim, eat, or kill you, it seems to delight in making you jump in surprise, added sourly.

At least this is not one of the first options, Nightmare pointed out. Now stop being such a filly about things, mare up. It is only a voice.

Sarah meanwhile, heard the words that the voice as actually saying. They were talking about Vaults... The woman stepped forwards into the mockup vault and her mouth went dry as she looked around it. The ‘Vault’ was in horrible condition, trash and detritus was strewn about haphazardly, and overhead the automated voice continued its speel about how wonderful life had been in the Vault.

Luna frowned as her hooves impacted off of the hard metal. “Sarah, didn’t you say that you were from a Vault?”

“Yes... Yes I did,” Sarah replied with a small nod.

Luna looked around. “It is not the most beautiful place I can imagine growing up,” she mused.

“That’s because it wasn’t,” Sarah said. “But it was... home. I hate to see a Vault look like this... it’s so... broken.”

Luna nodded faintly and the two stepped forwards once more. As they continued with the ‘tour’ Sarah’s frown deepened at the sight of the blood stains and broken bones that littered the ‘Vault’ floors. Vault’s aren’t meant to look like this, she thought to herself. They’re supposed to be... clean, friendly, and... safe.

Finally they finished the tour and emerged above the main lobby. Sarah let out a breath of relief and walked up to the next door, pushing it open.

She was immediately greeted by a nail covered piece of wood flying towards her head. Sarah barely ducked in time to avoid being impaled but she let her instincts take over and tackled the mutant swinging the board. The mutant, not expecting the sudden assault, was knocked onto its back and Sarah reached for her sidearm. Sarah emptied five of her ten shots into the mutant’s face which exploded in a cloud of gore which spattered against both her armor and face.

Luna stormed into the room and a mutant who had been trying to get a fix on Sarah turned his attention to the mare, letting loose a flurry of bullets at her. Luckily, most of these went wide, and the few that did hit their mark were deflected by her armor.

Diagonal slash, Nightmare instructed and Luna did just that, bringing Daybreaker down in a diagonal slash across the mutant’s chest, chopping through the beast. Sarah rolled off of the mutant, 10mm pistol at the ready, and emptied the last of her five shots at a third mutant who was making its way up the stairs towards them. Three of them hit the mutant in the chest while the other two went wide. The mutant laughed at that.

“HAHAHA PUNY HUMAN!” it shouted as it leveled its assault rifle with Sarah’s face. Luckily for the woman, that was all the opening Luna needed to send a lance of laser into its eyes, burning through them and dropping the mutant to the ground. Sarah sent her a thankful grin and got back to her feet.

This time, Luna helped her gather up the three weapons from the fallen mutants, two assault rifles were selected, leaving the nailboard behind. That was when Sarah noticed that another of the terminals embedded in the walls was flashing. She frowned and turned to Luna.

“Cover me for a minute Luna,” she instructed before walking over to the terminal.

“Sure,” Luna replied. I wonder whatever she could be doing, the mare said to Nightmare with a frown as she watched Sarah mess with the terminal.

We assure you that we have no idea, Nightmare replied with a small mental shrug. It did not take Sarah long to finish with the terminal and she came back, a slim smile on her face.

“What were you doing Sarah?” Luna asked her with a raised eyebrow.

“There’s some kind of encrypted message on some of the terminals, I’m looking for all the encryption keys,” Sarah answered, shrugging a little.

“Ah...” Luna responded, not really knowing what she was talking about. “So long as you do not accidentally cause some of those ‘turret’ things to come down from the ceiling and shoot at us I suppose that is alright.”

Sarah grinned. “Trust me Luna, I won’t do that.”

“Good,” Luna replied with a smile. “Shall we proceed?”

Sarah nodded, and led Luna down a set of stairs and into a large amphitheater. This time when a mysterious voice began to speak Luna actually listened to the words.

For as long as history has been recorded man has had an insatiable hunger for knowledge regarding the universe. To understand why man is so interested in this unknown expanse of space of space around our little world, we must take a journey, please sit back, relax, and free yourself from the bonds of our planet as we take off for the stars, stars planet of the stars statsts...

Luna turned to Sarah with a hopeful look. “Sarah... did your people once enjoy looking up at the stars?”

“Yes, apparently we even got to the moon once, according to Mister Brotch anyways... I actually stayed awake during that lecture because it was interesting,” she replied.

“Your people traveled to the moon itself?” Luna asked her, a shocked tone of reverence entering into her voice.

“Yeah, I mean, that’s one of the reasons we’re here in the first place,” Sarah replied. “We’re getting the disk we need off of the Lunar Lander,” she added.

“Oh,” Luna said, a look of wonderment on her face. “Your people are so... wonderful Sarah.”

Sarah scoffed. “If us humans were wonderful I doubt we’d have destroyed ourselves.”

Luna remained outwardly silent and they continued onto the next room, however inside her head was a different story.

They’ve been to the MOON! she exclaimed to Nightmare.

Yes, we believe that’s been established, Nightmare replied dryly. Please try and contain yourself, we don’t need you making a mess. We doubt Sarah would appreciate it very much.

Luna let out an indignant scoff at the thought, and continued up a set of stairs, following Sarah. They arrived in a room quite similar to that which they had encountered in the main lobby.

Sarah frowned and moved up to the far wall and began to hack one of two computers. She looked through the list of words, clicking them one after another, and then logging out to start the process all over again. She did it several times until she correctly guessed the password, IMPORTANT. A smile slid over the woman’s face and she turned to Luna who was in the process of slowly stabbing Daybreaker into the center of a wall safe.

“Hey Luna, I’m going to turn on some more turrets, hopefully give the muties in the next room a bit of a wake up call,” she called to the mare. Luna looked up from her task, which was proceeding nicely, and nodded.

“Good, hopefully we will not have to do much when we get there,” she said before jamming Daybreaker’s blade all the way through the front of the safe and slicing towards, parting the black metal and revealing dozens of bottlecaps, several 10mm pistols, and strangely a bottle of glowing blue soda. Luna pondered over it all before telekinetically lifting it into the duffel bag on her back.

There was the sudden sound of gunfire from the next room, and Luna looked out the window to see several mutants under fire from two ceiling mounted turrets. It took the mutants several minutes to destroy the two turrets, and not before three of their five had been lost. Sarah glanced over to Luna, a small smile on her face.

“That’s three less for us to worry about,” she stated.

“Indeed, now let us hit them before they can recover!” Luna agreed with a smile of her own.

The two rushed down the stairs and into the next room, which was taken up for the most part by a large metal construction and were met by a pair of bleeding super mutants. The mutants opened fire on Sarah, forcing her into cover with two bullets bouncing into her armored shoulder.

On the bright side this left Luna open to attack with impurity, the mare’s laser rifle went off three times in her magical grip. One shot missed, harmlessly burning into a support pillar, while the other two struck true causing the mutant to scream out in pain and anger.

While the mutants switched their fire to Luna, Sarah hopped out of cover, her combat shotgun at the ready. The woman ran forward and her shotgun blasted a hole through the bottom of one of the mutant’s jaws, sending pieces of greenish orange flesh flying everywhere.

The last mutant tried to smack Sarah in the jaw with the butt of his rifle but Sarah dodged under it and shot again. The buckshot trailed into his already injured chest, tearing it apart in a small fountain of gore.

Luna and Sarah panted as the last two mutants fell and then Sarah holstered her shotgun and walked up to the large metal construction which took up most of the room. Once there she beckoned Luna over to her side and reached into the bag, drawing out a wrench while she pulled a small screwdriver out of her back pocket.

“Luna, cover me while I get this thing down,” she said with a nod towards a circular disk sticking out of the metal construction. Luna nodded and began to eye the doors... though she couldn’t help but notice that Sarah was having a bit of trouble with some of the higher screws.

“Do you require my assistance?” Luna asked her. Sarah looked back from her task and shook her head.

“No, I’ve had to stand on my tiptoes before,” the woman answered casually as another screw came out and fell to the ground. Luna nodded and returned to her watch, thankfully nothing new entered the room. Suddenly there was a screech, followed by what sounded like a squeak and a thump.

Luna looked back to see Sarah lying prostrate on her back, the metal disk covering her. The mare rushed to the woman’s side.

“Are you alright Sarah?” she asked as she began to slowly (for it was fairly heavy) lift the metal disk from atop Sahar with her magic.

“I’m fine,” Sarah said with a hint of a blush on her face. “The damn thing was just heavier than I expected so I wasn’t braced right,” she added, shooting the disk a glare.

Luna couldn’t help but chuckle lightly at the glare she was giving the disk as she finished lifting it off of Sarah and stuffed the thing in her pack.

Truly, we have become her pack mule, Nightmare grunted sourly.

Tis better that we who are strong carry it then make her do it and injure herself, Luna replied with a mental shrug. Truly, we have worn armor heavier than all that we carry now without difficulty.

Nightmare scoffed. It is the principle of it. We are a Queen, not a pack mule! she exclaimed angrily.

Luna shook her head. Friends carry eachothers burdens, she stated simply. And Sarah is my... friend... she trailed off as she thought about that. The thought had come to her naturally and it felt... good. Sarah was her friend.

As the two made their way out of the room through the upper door Sarah’s thoughts were moving rapidly forward. All she had to do was attach the disk to the monument, and then Three Dog would be able to direct her to her father... and then she would face him.

Their trip out of the museum of Technology had gone smoothly from that point onwards, a few super mutants had risen up to stop them and between the two of them, Sarah and Luna had been able to deal with them easily enough. The woman had also managed to find the last terminal she needed to and had gotten a new map marker added to her Pip-Boy map.

Now, the two stood side by side in the cramped elevator car.

“And you are sure we will not fall?” Luna asked her worriedly.

“Relax Luna, if the cable was going to fall, it would have already,” Sarah answered pragmatically. “Besides, if we fall, then we won’t have long to worry about it, will we?”

Luna shot her an un-amused glance and snorted. “Thank you for your comforting words Sarah.”

Sarah just chuckled slightly and laid a hand on Luna’s neck. “I’m sure this will work, the Brotherhood guys promised.”

“I know... but I do not trust this cage of metal,” Luna replied, gesturing around the cramped interior of the car with a hoof. She was currently smushed against Sarah’s side, though if the woman found it uncomfortable she didn’t mention it.

“Relax, the ride will be over before you know it,” Sarah assured her as she pressed a button.

The elevator began its rattling ascent. What passed were three of the most stressful moments of her life, and when the elevator door finally opened she found that she’d somehow managed to unconsciously wrap herself around Sarah’s body. The mare blushed as she pulled away from the woman.

“Sorry,” Luna said with another blush.

Sarah shrugged and let out a small chuckle. “Don’t worry about it, it’s nice to see that there are some things that scare you.”

Luna chuckled as well. “I suppose you’re right... though I am far from fearless.”

Sarah shrugged again and pulled the bag with the disk in it off of Luna’s back and began to attach it to the tower. Luna meanwhile looked out over the Mall as the sun slowly set on the horizon.

You know... there is an odd beauty to be found here, she observed quietly as the sun's dying light illuminated the large domed building.

Indeed...it is... actually it is rather beautiful...in a tragic way, Nightmare agreed. They reached so high... and yet here they are now... scavenging for food and killing each other like common animals.

All because of a war, Luna mused quietly.

Nightmare remained quiet for a few moments before finally saying. Yes, because of a war.

Luna nodded slowly, and watched the sunrise, her thoughts turning to home.

Wandering Moon Chapter 14: Stars

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Sarah had decided that they’d done enough for the day, and that since they were on top of the very well defended monument, they may as well just stay up and enjoy it. Currently, the woman was lying against Luna’s side, looking up at the heavens through one of the windows. Her right hand was absentmindedly stroking down Luna’s back and the mare had no interest in telling her to stop. The woman continued to gaze up at the twinkling stars above her and let out a long sigh, it was half blissful, half sad.

“You know Luna... I’ve never seen anything so beautiful before,” Sarah told the mare. Luna’s eyebrows rose in surprise and a rosy blush crossed her face.

“What do you mean?” she asked, not completely sure of who or what the woman was referring too.

“The night sky,” Sarah answered, causing Luna to let out a small breath and to readjust her gaze towards the sky above them. “I mean... just look at it... it’s so huge and mysterious... anything could be hiding out there, waiting for us to discover it,” Sarah continued, her voice wistful.

Luna looked down at Sarah, a new look of appreciation on her face which warred with surprised shock until it won out.

“Truly? You are fascinated by the night?” Luna asked her.

“Of course, who wouldn’t be?” Sarah asked the mare with a raised eyebrow which caused Luna to frown for a moment. “I mean... it’s all so grand and expansive, I can’t help but get lost just looking at it,” she continued, gesturing out at the stars.

“I see,” Luna said, her voice filled with a strange tone. “You are... one of the only ones I have heard aside from my sister who feels that way,” she added, her tone still strange.

Sarah simply chuckled softly.

“Then they don’t know what they’re missing,” she said with a small smile as she leaned back against Luna’s warm fur and let out a sigh. “I mean, I was raised in an underground Vault my whole life and only saw the night sky for the first time around four days ago... it is so beautiful.”

“Yes, yes it is,” Luna agreed, fixing her gaze on the heavens once more.

The view from the monument was so high and so pure that she could see every star and constellation. It was the first time that Luna had ever seen the night sky of the Wasteland and although the sight of it was alien to her, she was unable to find any of the Equestrian constellations, she still felt a wave of comfort roll over her from the sight. The quarter moon rose up in the sky, seemingly touching the destroyed dome.

It truly is beautiful... Nightmare commented quietly. Why... can’t everypony see it this way?

“Why can’t everypony see it this way?” Luna echoed aloud, her voice wistful.

“I don’t know Luna,” Sarah replied with a shrug. “I guess they just don’t appreciate it the way we do.”

“That... must be it, yes,” Luna replied quietly, her tone thoughtful. “Though... in truth I think they may just be frightened of what the night holds for them... not the night itself.”

Sarah nodded and continued to slowly stroke Luna though she remained quiet. When she finally spoke, it was a different subject.

“Luna... would you mind telling me more about your life?” she asked. “Last time you stopped before we had time to get very far.”

Luna frowned to herself as she felt the woman’s gentle fingers travel down her spine. She closed her eyes and let out a small sigh of pleasure, and then brought her head down so that it was resting lightly against Sarah’s shoulder.

“If you would like... I suppose I could continue the tale,” she said slowly.

Sarah was a bit surprised by the closeness of Luna’s face, but smiled and brought a hand up to scratch the mare’s ears.

“I’d like that a lot I think,” she said, giving the mare a smile.

Luna’s eyes closed again as a sensation of pleasure rolled down from her ears, truly fingers were amazing. The mare’s face blossomed into a smile and she let out another pleasured sigh, much to Sarah’s surprise.

“Sorry,” Luna apologized with a deep blush when she opened her eyes and saw the perplexed look on Sarah’s face. “Your fingers are... incredible.”

Stop being so pathetic! Nightmare scolded. We are not this woman’s pet!

I am not being pathetic... it just feels rather nice, Luna shot back. You are enjoying the sensation just as much as I am. Nightmare let out a silent scoff, but couldn’t deny it.

“Heh, sorry, I’ll stop,” Sarah said, withdrawing her fingers from behind Luna’s head.

“Oh no, you can continue,” Luna quickly countered. “... it will make this easier for me to continue my tale,” she added a little more quietly.

“Alright then, I can do that,” Sarah replied, returning her fingers to the task.

Luna closed her eyes for a moment and then began to speak.

“The last I told you was of when my sister and I were attacked by the Council, was it not?” she asked

“Yeah... those guys seemed like assholes,” Sarah agreed.

“Unbelievably so yes...” Luna replied slowly. “After their initial defeat... they tracked us down again... and this time they were prepared.”

“Tia, I can’t keep running!” Luna panted, her blue fur was streaked with mud, burrs, and blood from scratches and thorns. Her blue mane was plastered to her forehead and her breaths were coming out in pants. The moon above shown down on them and cast a silvery white light upon her coat, making it sparkle slightly despite the wear and tear.

Her sister ran along beside her, her white coat was similarly stained and dirty, and a streak of blood was slowly leaking down from the base of her horn and across her face.

“Yes you can Lulu, yes you can,” Celestia said, her voice desperate. “Come on sister, this is just like our games of tag. We just have to keep running and we’ll win!” Her voice was exhausted but there was a hard edge of determination to it.

Luna knew she was lying, but continued to push herself forwards over fallen trees and through thorny bushes. Behind them, the sound of their pursuers grew closer, great blasts of magic tore trees up by their roots and torrents of fire carved their way through that which withstood the first blasts. Whenever Luna looked over her shoulder, she would catch a fleeting glimpse of the unicorns chasing them. They were dressed in elaborate ornate armor which radiated power and fear, their eyes were hard and full of rage.

The chase had been going on for close to half an hour since they’d found the sisters curled up sleeping beside a fire. It was only thanks to Celestia’s good hearing that they’d escaped the unicorns in the first place and they were both starting to run out of energy after such a long pursuit while their pursuers showed no signs of such. At last, after ten more minutes of running, the two were forced to stop. Yawning before them was a large cave mouth.

“Tia... we can’t go in there,” Luna whimpered. “It’s dark in there!”

“Lulu, I need you to be brave for me, okay?” Celestia asked her little sister. “We don’t have much time bef-”

Celestia was interrupted in mid sentence as a bright red telekinetic noose fastened around her muzzle. The mare jerked and struggled against it, but the magical line held fast. Holding onto the line was a red unicorn dressed in red armor. Luna let out a filly scream of fear at the sight and then an even louder one as another line lassoed out and wrapped around Celestia’s throat, beginning to slowly strangle her.

“This is for what you did to Emerald and Ruby,” the red unicorn growled at Celestia who was still struggling, though her struggles were getting progressively weaker.

“Leave her alone!” Luna screamed shrilly. “We didn’t want anything to do with you! We just want to be left alone!”

“Well that’s too bad little filly,” a unicorn mare in light yellow armor said with a sneer. “You should have thought of that before you stole our sun and moon.”

“We-we didn’t mean to!” Luna cried, tears running down her face as Celestia’s breath began to come out in gasps. “Please, please just let us go!”

“No can do,” the yellow unicorn scoffed.

Celestia fell to her knees, her face blue and her eyes bulging.

Luna wanted more then anything to run up to her, but she was paralyzed by fear. The injustice of it all suddenly struck the filly. She and her sister would die here before the mouth of this cave and this group of unicorns would stay in power until they died and transferred the power to a group of unicorns who were just as corrupt as the last.

Her sister’s spasms began to subside, the air leaving her body and Luna knew that she didn’t have much time. Then she felt a similar noose fix itself around her own muzzle, covering her nostrils and cutting off her lungs. She tried to scream and squirm free, but the magic was as unforgiving and uncaring as the unicorn it was connected to it.

As Luna struggled, her vision began to get blurry and her short life began to pass before her eyes... one gentle white face appearing more than the others. Then, the air left her body.

“Wait...you died?” Sarah asked Luna, interrupting the tale. Luna gave her a flat look.

“No I didn’t die,” she answered.

“Sorry... go on,” the woman said with a small blush.

As Luna lay on the ground, her life bleeding out of her she heard a distant sound that resembled thunder.

It must be a storm... her mind thought sluggishly. Hahahahah they’re going to get wet! Serves them right!

The thunder sounded again and this time, it was accompanied by a loud roar. The magical noose around her throat disappeared, and Luna drew in a rapid breath as the air rushed back in. As she lay on the ground, too weak to move, the thunder sounded again and a large purple shape filled her vision.

YOU DARE!?” a voice like an earthquake broke the air. Luna’s ears flattened beneath the verbal assault. “You dare commit the murder of two children before my cave?!” the voice roared again, this time at a slightly more manageable volume, sounding more like shattering boulders as opposed to heaving continents.

Luna blinked several times, and her vision cleared to reveal an immense purple dragon looming over them. It’s scales were a deep purple and its spines were an emerald green. Claws the size of greatswords emerged from his front paws while large teeth, partially shrouded in smoke poked out of his mouth. A pair of giant wings reared out of his back and they were currently fully extended.

The filly let out a squeal of pure terror at the sight, but no one paid her any attention.

“They are fugitives!” the yellow mare shouted up at purple dragon. “They have committed heinous crimes, we are simply delivering unto them the justice that they deserve!”

“And what ‘crimes’ could two fillies possibly commit that require the ‘unicorn council’ to directly doll out their punishment?” The dragon asked them, blinking his large green eyes incredulously at the ten or so unicorns.

“The white one killed three of our member!” the red one who had been killing Celestia exclaimed.

The dragon looked down at Celestia’s slumped form, a frown on his face and then he looked back at the unicorns.

“Then good for her, I see no crime in that,” the dragon replied.

“Listen here you great lummox, you will move out of our way and we will take these fugitives or we will be forced to kill you!” the yellow unicorn who had been strangling Luna shouted at him.

The dragon was eerily silent for a moment before in a low and menacing voice he said.

“You forget yourself mage,” the dragon growled.

Then with a sudden exhale he sent a column of green fire down on the yellow armored unicorn. Flames rained down on her, melting her armor as if it were made of gold. The unicorn’s screams were cut off as her helmet’s remains poured down her throat, and within seconds she was reduced to a pile of crispy flesh trapped inside a suit of molten armor. The fire still burned on and Luna knew that despite the mare’s actions... the image would haunt her nightmares. The other unicorns gapped at the dragon and the acidic smell of urine reached Luna’s nostrils.

“Now, leave, and never return,” the dragon spoke, his voice deadly serious. “Or you will join your companion in her prison.”

The unicorns stared for another moment, and then seemingly as one they turned tail and fled back the way they’d come. The dragon bent down until he was on eye level with Luna.

“Sorry about that, would you and your sister like to come inside? I think I have a tea kettle in my hoard somewhere,” the dragon asked her, his voice becoming much softer.

Luna stared at him in shock.

“Oh... dear... I’ve frightened you haven’t I?” he asked. Luna could only nod. “Well... I did just save your lives, you could always give me a chance, my name is Jonathan.”

Luna stopped talking and looked down to see that Sarah had fallen asleep and was leaning her head against the back of Luna’s neck. Luna smiled and pulled a wing over the woman before quietly setting her head down on the mattress and shutting her eyes.

Wandering Moon Chapter 15: Xanthos

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Queen Celestia sat in her study, gazing down at a document put before her by one of her aids. She frowned down at it, her royal visage clearly troubled by the information on the page.

I must find this centaur... if these rumors are true... the mare’s thoughts turned over the report in her mind and like many times over the last hundred years her mind ached for her sister’s thoughts on the matter. Of course... in this case those thoughts may not have been what Celestia wished them to be.

According to the scouts’ reports; Xanthos, a dark colored centaur was traveling through the lands of the north, trying to raise resistance to Celestia’s rule. At the moment he didn’t appear to be doing more than simply talking... but Celestia knew that talking would eventually turn into something worse.

There was a slow knock on her door.

“Come in, Clover,” Celestia called.

The door opened smoothly and a mare with fading purple fur walked into the room. Her once lustrous purple mane was edged with grey and the pink stripe had long ago faded into a flat white. Despite all that, the unicorn’s eyes still glowed with the same fierce ferocity that Celestia had come to expect from her over the years, showing no signs of mental deterioration nor cataracts.

“The bastard still at it?” Clover asked, her voice reminding Celestia more of a whip cracking than that of an exceptionally old mare.

“Unfortunately yes,” Celestia answered, turning to Clover with a frown on her face. “He’s moving rapidly up and down the northern half of Equestria, trying to gather support and sow discontent... luckily he appears to be failing.”

“Good,” Clover replied with a shake of her head as she walked up beside Celestia and took a seat next to the great alicorn. A glass of ice water appeared in the air before her, and the mare took a long drag before looking over at Celestia once more. “If you don’t watch this one carefully, then he’ll be the doom of the kingdom.”

“I’m aware,” Celestia stated firmly. “I’ve already warned our northern outposts and the nobles who I am confident in,” she added with a small shrug. “I doubt he will find much, if any, support there.”

“Agreed.” Clover nodded. “If I were you, what I would be most concerned about is the thestrals... he is speaking of the injustice of banishing Luna... and even after these last hundred years there are still those among our leathery cousins who would support such a stallion,” the old mare cautioned her.

Celestia sighed slowly. “I am... aware of that Clover, but I have taken certain steps to keep that from happening,” she replied.

“Steps such as?”

“As speaking with the leaders of the thestrals and making certain that they will not be supporting a rebellion,” Celestia answered. “To be honest, their population is still far too low to even contemplate such a thing.”

“And you think that would stop them?” Clover asked her, raising an eyebrow at Celestia.

“Clover, I have grown extremely good at reading ponies over the years; thestrals in particular,” Celestia answered with a nod to the portrait of herself, Moonshadow, and his wife Eclipse which graced the wall to her left. A feeling of sadness entered Celestia’s mind at the thought of her son, now ten years dead.

“No offense, Celestia, but you have not always proved to be the best judge of character in situations like this,” Clover pointed out, somehow managing to keep her voice neutral.

Celestia shot the old mare a hard eyed frown, which Clover returned without flinching or looking away. The two continued the silent staring match for around a minute until they both simultaneously turned back to the documents on the desk.

“You have a point,” Celestia conceded slowly. “But believe me... I have learned my lesson well.”

Clover smiled. “Good,” she said with a small nod. “Just make sure that you’re watching everyone... we’ve just started getting this country back on its hooves... the last thing we need is another civil war.”

“Indeed,” Celestia said with a small sigh. “I do not think that we will truly have to worry... this ‘Xanthos’ does not seem to have the strength or charisma required to bind my little ponies to his will... unlike Luna.”

“True enough,” Clover replied with a frown. “Perhaps you should investigate him in person though... just to be on the safe side.”

“How?” Celestia asked. “My last scout report has him leaving Northport a week ago,” the alicorn said with a frown.

“Well then, your scouts are off by quite a bit Celestia, he’s in Van Hoover at the moment, giving a speech,” Clover told her with a small smirk. Celestia stared at her.

“How do you do that?” the alicorn asked her, eyes wide.

“A Grand Mage never reveals her secrets,” Clover replied with a chuckle which turned into a bit of a hacking cough.

Celestia looked over at Clover, concern in her eyes. “Are you okay Clover? Need I fetch you a nurse?”

Clover scowled and regained control of herself. “I’m fine Celestia... just old and there’s not a single thing that a ‘nurse’ can help me with,” the old mare grumbled crotchily. “Now, I’d suggest you change yourself and go view that centaur's speech. If nothing else it should give us some information on him.”

Celestia nodded, her horn glowing for several seconds before she began to shrink down to the size of a normal pony. Within seconds, Celestia the alicorn was gone. In her place was a snow white unicorn with a curly pink mane.

“How do I look?” Celestia asked Clover, her voice at a much lighter pitch than normal.

“Good, very good,” Clover replied with a wry smile.

“Good,” Celestia said with a nod before she pursed her lips into a serious expression. “It has been a while since I used this guise...”

“Right... wasn’t the last time when you and old Blueblood decided to have that trist?” Clover inquired with a raised eyebrow.

Celestia blushed a little. “How did you even know of that? We were very careful!”

Clover gave her a grin. “I’m the Grand Mage Celestia, I know everything.”

Celestia rolled her eyes. “It’s Sunny Days, now I should be on my way,” the mare said before she vanished in a small puff of light.

Clover just chuckled to herself. “Best game of poker I ever played,” she said with a smile before she got back to her hooves and stretched out her back, cracking several bones back into place in the process. “Gah... I’m old,” she muttered as she left the study.

Celestia appeared in an empty alley and was immediately reminded of where she was when a freezing blast of cold arctic wind swept over her, making her ears flap backwards and causing her to shiver.

“Should have expected that,” she grumbled to herself. “It’s been far too long since I actually traveled anywhere... and I’m getting rusty.” The air around her shimmered and a grey fleece-lined cloak flew out of it, quickly attaching itself to her neck. The mare let out a sigh of relief as the enchanted fabric exuded warmth that traveled over through her. “That’s better,” she murmured, quickly looking around to make sure that nopony had seen her do it; nopony had.

She nodded, and headed out of the alley, heading for the main square where she could already hear the throng of a gathered crowd. As she walked, Celestia let her mind wander. She saw dozens of ponies, some colts and fillies were playing happily in a snow drift off to her right. To her left a pair of buisness ponies sat across from each other, drinking coffee and looking over the local newspaper.

A soft smile touched the mare’s face as she surveyed them all, a fierce sense of accomplishment rising up in her chest as she viewed the fruits of her last hundred years’ labor. Her smile shifted into a look of surprise as a snowball lanced out from one of the colts and pegged her in the face. Celestia slowly turned to look at the offending colt, a young red unicorn, who blushed.

“I-um- sorry miss...” he said slowly, looking down. Celestia frowned for a moment, and then with a small golden light grabbed a puff full of snow and gathered it into a snowball of her own which she chucked at the colt’s face. The icy ball of snow struck him right between the eyes and he blinked several times.

“It’s fine young one,” Celestia told him. “In the future just be more careful about who you hurl your snow at, you never know when someone can throw harder,” she teased him with a smile before she headed off leaving a surprised colt in her tracks. Celestia continued on her way, dodging the occasional snowball. She arrived in the town’s main square, which was packed with ponies and griffins, just in time to see an imposing centaur walk onto the stage which had been set up there..

Xanthos was a tall stallion, easily her height as an alicorn, and his bipedal torso extended even higher. Black fur, the color of night, covered his lower body and a thick mat of black hair covered his upper portions chest. He had a goatee, and long black hair that hung down to the small of his back. Strapped to his back was a large bow and a quiver full of arrows and at his hip was a large broadsword. He only wore minimal armor, bracers around his wrists and steel horseshoes.

Celestia quietly evaluated him from her position in the back of the crowd and frowned at what she saw. He was obviously a warrior of some sort... though she had never heard of him before. Of course, centaurs generally didn’t leave their own lands to the west... so that was no surprise.

As she observed him, she also noticed the shaggy coated sight of several diamond dogs hiding in the wings of the stage, she frowned. Equestria had finally put down the dog’s offensive not ten years before, and it appeared that there were still some elements resentful enough that they’d be willing to side with the centaur.

Xanthos held up a hand, calling for silence, it didn’t come immediately, the crowd continued talking amongst themselves and Celestia felt a small smirk spread across her face. It seemed that Xanthos didn’t quite possess an overabundant amount of raw charisma after all.

“Ahem,” Xanthos cleared his throat loudly, and Celestia’s eyebrows furrowed as she felt a small wave of volume boosting magic wash over her, similar to what Celestia herself used on occasion. “If I might have your attention,” the centaur said, his voice was deep and bassy, easily propelling itself from his chest.

The crowd fell silent, most of them looking at him with a quizzical eye.

“As you may know, my name is Xanthos of Starclan,” the centaur stated. “I have come to Equestria to spread the word of the Night’s Majesty, and of the Golden Tyrant who has abused her,” he said, gesturing outwards with both of his hands as if he were reaching out to touch the crowd.

The crowd around her murmured quietly to themselves and Celestia’s brows furrowed further.

“For the last century the Tyrant has held her court from the lofty mountain of her citadel, towering over you like some sort of Goddess,” Xanthos continued, his voice dropping into an almost menacing tone at the last word.

A feeling of indignation coursed through Celestia at the centaur’s statement. Her a goddess? The idea was laughable, she made just as many mistakes as any other pony and there was hardly anything Divine about her. The crowd echoed her thoughts, one particularly loud stallion brazenly declared.

“You can’t talk about Celestia that way!” he shouted at the centaur. “It’s thanks to her that our country is where it is today!”

“Yeah, get off the stage you hack!” A mare agreed, a sentiment which was soon taken up by several dozen others.

Celestia felt a sense of warmth flow through her and she smiled at her subjects’ loyalty.

“Ponies, ponies please, allow me to continue!” Xanthos exclaimed over the protests. “I beseech thee, allow me to continue!” It took several minutes, but the crowd eventually fell silent. “Thank you,” the centaur said. “Now I know that many of you do not share in my belief that the Tyrant is indeed a tyrant. However I ask you; what has the Tyrant done other than oppressing you?”

The crowd remained unimpressed.

“Think about it, who makes you pay taxes? Who stands in the way of your trade with foreign powers? Whose guards haul you away in chains when you are forced to steal a piece of bread who-” the centaur was interrupted as a snowball flew out from the crowd and nailed him in the face. The crowd turned, as did Celestia, to see that it was the red unicorn colt from before.

“Stop talking badly about our Queen!” he shouted up at the centaur. “Celestia is a great Queen; she’s the nicest, most loving, and the most beautiful pony in Equestria, no the whole world! You don’t have the right!”

“Wrong on all counts!” the centaur stated coldly. “Princess Luna is the holder of all those titles, and she is the one true Queen of this land, not the Sun Tyrant!” Xanthos added, his goatee shivering up and down as his face thrummed with rage. “Your so called ‘queen’ banished her away from our dear land, depriving us of her loving nightly embrace!” He roared with such intensity that the colt took an uncertain step back. “It is because of the Tyrant that this country is falling into disrepair, the roads are derelict, the nobles are worthless. All that was once good has died and is decaying!”

Celestia frowned, the centaur’s words clearly carried no weight behind them... it was all bluster... but there was something odd as well. Though the anger in his voice was clearly real... it felt... off. In fact... Celestia would call the entire thing an act. Of course; that posed the question, who was Xanthos acting for? Nopony acted without an audience of some sort.

So... who was Xanthos trying to fool; her? No... Celestia thought to herself. It’s impossible for him to know that I’m here... so perhaps... she scanned the crowd and noticed several guards ponies watching the centaur.

With a practiced eye, Celestia scanned each of them, all appeared to be standard guards with no extraordinary features. No extraordinary features... except for the fact that none of them were wearing the proper enchanted armor. Instead, they wore suits with enchantments matching Celestia’s soldiers during the war. The mare frowned at that... most... interesting.

“The Sun Tyrant is nothing if not tenacious in her efforts to infect your hearts and minds so please listen to me, she is leading you down the path to evil! In fact, she is actively attempting to free Discord from his stony prison and plunge our world into another ten thousand years of darkness!” Xanthos’s shout roused Celestia from her introspection and made her snort with anger; she would never allow that foul creature out of his cage!

“It is Queen Celestia who is the Tyrant, not dear, sweet, Luna!” The centaur continued at a yell. “The solar alicorn is not fit to rule this, or any kingdom she-”

“Alright, I think that’s about enough!” one of the guards Celestia had noticed before shouted, marching up towards the stage angrily. “You take it all back or so help me I’ll turn you into a ball of ash!”

“Do you see? The Tyrant sends her soldiers at me in an attempt to squash the truth before it fills your ears she-” Xanthos was cut off mid shout as another guard approached him from the side and sent a burst of flame at Xanthos. The flames trickled over the centaur who stood bold in the center of the inferno, clearly unphased. “Now do you see? They attempt to kill me on her orders!” the centaur roared at the crowd.

The crowd reacted badly, rearing up in surprise at the sudden flames and beginning to whisper worriedly to one another.

So that’s his game, Celestia mused. Well then, I think it’s time to end this little charade.

There was a flash of light on the stage, and suddenly Celestia was there in all her glory. Celestia’s white fur shimmered in the dying after-effects of the flame spell, her prismatic mane flowed in an astral gust and her violet eyes flared with hidden fire. The reaction everypony present was near immediate. The talking stopped, each transfixed by the site. The reaction of the ‘guards’ however was worse. They stared at her, eyes wide and fear creeping across their faces while Xanthos’s expression went blank.

“What are you doing my honorable little ponies?” Celestia asked the guards. “This centaur has done no wrong other then speak his mind and just because he is wrong does most certainly not mean that you may assault him,” she continued, her voice kind and motherly though possessing a harsh edge to it.

“My... my queen we were simply-” one of the guards began at a stutter.

“Simply what?” Celestia inquired with a raised eyebrow. “Simply assaulting him because you did not enjoy the way that he was speaking of me?”

“Yeah, that,” one of the other guards, there were four of them now, said with a mutter.

Celestia frowned at them all. “Well, I believe that you must all take another look in your Guard Manuals then, for that is not how my guards react to harsh words,” the alicorn continued, glaring at the ‘guards’ and flaring her wings. “In fact, I would go so far as to say that you are not even my guards at all,” she stated, an edge of anger slipping into her voice. She then turned to the crowd.

“My little ponies, these stallions are not members of my guard forces. In fact; if I were to guess, I would say that they were hired for the sole purpose of assaulting this misguided centaur,” Celestia told the ponies watching in the square who frowned and began shooting both the guards and Xanthos glares.

The alicorn then turned to the centaur whose face was shockingly calm, however, Celestia could see beneath the mask and she could easily observe the anger roaring through him. The mare returned in kind, though her anger was more palpable. Xanthos stared into her violet eyes, however he did not speak.

“I believe that you should go before there is another attempt on your life,” Celestia suggested, her eyes not leaving his. “It would be best.”

Xanthos returned her gaze for a moment longer before bowing his head slightly, and then backing off the stage, leaving Celestia with a crowd of now bowing ponies and several terrified ‘guards’.

“Please my little ponies, there is no reason to bow at the moment,” Celestia called to them. “If I were permitted to make a suggestion, then I would suggest returning to your families for the day... I doubt there will be any more ‘speeches’ today.”

The ponies began to disperse, quietly talking with one another. Celestia turned back to her ‘guards’ and frowned at them. “You all do realize what the penalty for impersonating a Guardsman is; correct?” she asked them, her voice like a slow burning fire.

“Umm... no,” one of them spoke up after a moment of silence.

“Well, I suppose you’ll find out soon enough,” Celestia stated as her horn flashed and the impersonators fell to their sides, or in some cases on their faces, fast asleep.

A quiet voice spoke from the square below her. “Wow,” the red colt from before said in an awed voice. Celestia turned and smiled at him benevolently.

“Hello there little one,” she said, her tone motherly. “I am in your debt for your brave words earlier,” Celestia told him, her smile widening.

“Oh... it was nothing, My Queen,” the colt said, blushing a darker red as he bowed to her.

“Please rise,” Celestia said with a small frown. “It is not befitting of one so pure to bow to me.”

The colt raised his head, confusion in his eyes. “What do you mean?” he asked her.

Celestia stepped down from the raised stage and bent her head down to give the colt a gentle nuzzle, causing him to stiffen in surprise. “I mean that I have done a great many bad things in my life little one, but you... the worst you have done is hit me with a snowball,” she explained, a glimmer in her eyes.

The colt looked up at her, and instead of the alicorn’s face so that of the unicorn he had pegged earlier, a dark red blush spread across his face. “My-my-my queen I-” Celestia cut him off with a hoof to the lips.

“Hush,” she said, a gentle smile in place. “What is your name young one?” she asked, removing her hoof.

“Cr-Crimson La-Lance, my Queen,” the colt said with a stammer.

“Well then Crimson Lance, if you are looking for a job when you are an adult, come to Canterlot and I will find some way to reward you for your deed today,” Celestia told him with a smile. “Who knows, you may even become one of my personal guards.”

The colts eyes widened with surprise. “Truly?” he asked in a truly awed voice.

“Truly,” Celestia answered with a smile. “Now you should get home; I must take these criminals to the local barracks,” she said, turning back to the ‘guards’. “Goodbye Crimson Lance.”

“Goodbye my Queen,” the colt chirped, his voice still a bit awed, before trotting off.

Queen Celestia turned to survey the four stallions as her mind went over what the next few months held in store for them and a small smile appeared on her face at the thoughts. They wanted to be members of the guard so much did they? Well, they would certainly get their wish. Then, her mind darkened as a new thought occurred to her.

I doubt that this is the last I will hear of this ‘Xanthos’ character... and I have no doubt that his schemes will get more complex from this point onwards... As Uncle Jonathan once said; You may have won this battle... but the war has just begun Celestia'.

Wandering Moon Chapter 16: Welcome to Underworld

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Sarah awoke to the now familiar feeling of having Luna’s billowing wing draped over her as her head leaned into the mare’s neck. It was, the woman reflected, an odd feeling. In fact, it was far closer of an embrace than she’d ever shared with anyone else and strangely, it didn’t make her feel uncomfortable. The mare’s soft fur was the perfect pillow and as her starry blue mane wafted gently over Sarah’s face in an invisible wind the woman felt a feeling of... peace settle over her.

The woman stayed like that, wrapped up against the mare, for the next ten minutes, simply enjoying the feeling of warmth that seemed to flow off of the alicorn before she let out a sigh and slowly removed the wing from overtop of her careful not to wake Luna. Sarah stretched out her back as she walked over to the window and looked out over the destroyed Mall. The trenches stood out pointedly and she saw several super mutants going about their morning routine of yelling at each other.

Her gaze drifted farther out to the dilapidated form of the Capitol Dome, explosions rocked the steps of the building and the woman distantly made out the forms of several black armored figures trying to fight their way up them. It was impossible to really tell from this distance, but Sarah was positive that they were more of the Talon mercenaries like the one that had tried to kill her outside of the Super Duper Mart.

Sarah shook her head and turned back to the still sleeping form of Luna, there was an unmistakable grace about the mare... something aestral and almost beyond her comprehension. Sarah pursed her lips for a moment and then shrugged, going over to her heavy duffle bag and quickly locating her favorite hunting rifle, beginning to clean it.

As she did so, the woman’s thoughts turned to her father. I’m closing in on you dad... once I talk with Three Dog... I’ll be able to find you... and then you can finally explain things to me, she mused to herself. After that... I guess I’ll just do my best to help Luna get home... I owe her that much, she continued, turning to give the sleeping alicorn a small smile.

The alicorn’s eyes suddenly snapped open, as if aware that she was being looked at and met Sarah’s head on, a small smile playing across her lips. “Good morning Sarah,” Luna said with a slight yawn, breaking the moment.

“Morning Luna,” Sarah replied as she finished with the hunting rifle. “Sleep well?”

“Very, and yourself?”

“Excellent,” Sarah replied, recalling her dreamless sleep.

“That’s great to hear,” Luna replied as she got to her feet and began to stretch out her back. “So, what are we doing today?”

“Well, first we’re going to check out that Underworld place and offload some of the supplies that we picked up while we were raiding that museum,” Sarah answered.

“Ah yes, I hope that includes those bulkier weapons as well. They are very heavy,” Luna said with a nod.

“Of course,” Sarah replied with a small shrug. “I imagine that those two miniguns will fetch quite the price... not to mention all twenty or so of those assault rifles we picked up,” she added with a speculative look at the extremely bulky bag.

Luna also looked into the bag. “Speaking of which... what currency do you use?” she inquired. “I doubt that you use the ‘bit’” she paused for a moment and then rolled her eyes. “Or the Celestial Bit as it is otherwise known,” her tone took on an edge before she shook her head.

“Your sister had the money named after her?” Sarah asked her incredulously.

Luna scowled. “No... the commoners started doing that...” she muttered. “Even though it was I who formulated the tax codes, created the banks, and designed them,” her voice dropped into a growl and Sarah shot her a worried look and put a hand on her neck.

“Easy there Luna,” the woman told her calmingly. “Anyways, as ridiculous as it sounds, the Capital Wasteland uses-” she reached into one of her armored pockets and drew out a small pouch which she then opened revealing two or three dozen odd metallic objects. “-these bottle caps as currency.”

Luna cocked her head and levitated one of the caps out of the pouch and held it up before her eyes for a moment. “This is... a strange way to seal a bottle... In Equestria we use corks,” she mused. “And we are to use these to actually buy things? How? There is no gold backing them up, nor is there a system of credit which can be relied upon to make sure that purchases are backed up. In other words, this is only worth the metal from which it was ‘minted’.”

Sarah shrugged. “I honestly don’t know why they started using them. Remember; I’ve only been out here around five days or so,” she added. “My best guess is that they use them because they’re everywhere.”

“I see...” Luna dropped the metal object back into the pouch with a chink. “And we will be able to sell these ‘assault rifles’ and ‘miniguns’ for more of these bottle caps?”

“Yep,” Sarah said with a nod.

Luna snorted. “It is unconventional... but I suppose ‘when all you have is a hammer’,” she said with a shrug. “So long as people accept them as currency then I will not question it too greatly.”

“Right, well, we should get going,” Sarah said, zipping up the bag and looking to Luna. “Are you sure you want to keep carrying that bag?”

Luna shrugged and levitated the bag into its place on her back. “As I said, it is not too strenuous,” the mare replied as she began to walk towards the elevator, Sarah at her side.

They entered the elevator, and after rickety ride down it, during which Sarah noticed that Luna had once again decided to squish herself as closely against her side as possible. The woman felt a slight blush travel over her face at the contact, but ignored it and the elevator soon arrived at its destination. The pair quickly exited, nodding to the pair of Brotherhood soldiers who’d been keeping watch over the monument. The soldiers nodded back, and as the pair exited the open doorway, it swished shut behind them.

“So... how long will we be in this den of the undead?” Luna inquired as they began to walk the ‘fairly’ short distance to the Museum of Natural History. Luckily there did not seem to be any mutants about to shoot at them.

Sarah gave Luna a look. “They’re ghouls... not zombies Luna. It’s actually very offensive to call them that,” she rebuked the mare. “How would you like me to call you ‘horse’ all the time?”

We would decapitate you for the slight to our race, Nightmare replied silently causing Luna to mentally roll her eyes.

“I understand that... I suppose,” Luna admitted. “It is just... they are zombies, Sarah. Unnatural abominations of life who are there only to serve the foul purposes of whichever necromancy raised them...” The mare trailed off and sighed. “We spent a great many years fighting their ilk... so pardon us if we do not immediately take to them.”

Sarah raised an eyebrow at the last sentence, but shrugged. “Look Luna, from what Gob told me when I asked him about it... they’re the way they are because of the radiation and the bombs. A lot of them have spent the last two hundred years looking like death warmed over with the growing possibility of going insane the longer they live...” the woman stopped talking and shook her head, a sad frown on her face. “I can’t imagine anything more horrible.”

Going insane? And these fools trust them? Nightmare asked incredulously.

“Then would it not be more merciful to simply end their suffering?” Luna inquired with a raised eyebrow. “Afterall, if they are truly in such a state, then why do they continue living?”

“I guess they don’t want to die,” Sarah answered plainly. “That, or they’re too religious to. Suicide gets you into Purgatory I think... it’s been a long time since my dad talked with me about it.”

Luna frowned at that, but shrugged. She had encountered many different religions in her life and both she and her sister had learned long ago that there was no point in questioning their beliefs.

“I see,” Luna replied. “I suppose I could always ask one of them... though strangely I do not believe that is a good idea.”

You think? Nightmare asked her dryly.

“You think?” Sarah asked, unknowingly echoing the Nightmare.

Luna gave her a flat look but shrugged as they approached the entrance of the museum. Willow was on guard again.

“Well if it isn’t the Tourist and her pet sword pony,” the ghoul greeted them sarcastically. “Going to be swinging that big poker at me again?” she asked, directing the question at Luna.

“No, I suppose that I would rather have someone as unpleasant as you spend the rest of their life in a rotting cell,” Luna replied tartly. “Where I come from, you could make a very good act in a carnival menagerie.”

Very nice, Nightmare commented in her head.

Willow glared at her for a moment, then made an odd gesture involving her middle most finger and turned away. Luna grinned to herself, happy in her victory over the ghoul. Sarah meanwhile gave the mare a slightly annoyed look.

“Please be more diplomatic once we get inside,” the woman said as she walked up to the doors and pushed them open revealing a destroyed lobby.

“Please, I am a Princess,” Luna replied with a frown as she followed the woman into the lobby.. “I can be very diplomatic if I so choose.”

“Really?” Sarah asked. “Because I haven’t seen it so far.”

“There has been no need to as of yet,” Luna answered with a shrug. “Should the need arise I am fully capable of negotiating.”

Sarah let the subject drop, and walked into the main room of the museum. The woman’s lungs stuck in her throat as she looked at the sight before her. On her right was a massive structure of giant bones, half of which was lying near her. On her left was a large... quadrupedal... thing... with thick tusks. Right in front of her was ornate looking doorway, topped with a large skull.

Luna stared around the room, taking it all in, her expression going through the rapid change from shock, to amazement, to finally weariness.

“That dragon is very deformed,” she observed with a frown. “And that mammoth is missing a pair of tusks...”

Sarah frowned at her and then shook her head. “Don’t ask me,” she said before signaling forwards. “Willow told us that ‘Underworld’ is through the big skull doorway... so let’s go see what we can find.”

Luna frowned once more at the bones, but shrugged and nodded, following behind Sarah as she led the way. Sarah pushed open the doors to reveal a long room with two floors created by a set of balconies. Directly in front of them was a large and rather disturbing sculpture of people climbing up a monument of some sort. There were many ghouls walking around within the room. Sarah felt Luna stiffen beside her, but the mare’s behavior ended there. Before she had time to take a more intense look around the room, a male ghoul in a faded blue RobCo jumpsuit walked up to them.

“Oh, well would you look at that?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. “Looks like we got a smoothskin and her pet visiting us here in Underworld,” he added with a smile. “It’s been a while since we’ve had any of your type,” he said with a nod to Sarah. “And we’ve never had your type,” he finished with a small chuckle in Luna’s direction.

“I am not a pet,” Luna growled.

Why do all of these people assume that we are a mindless beast of burden!?! Nightmare raged angrily in the back of her mind.

“So, Willow wasn’t lying; you can talk!” the ghoul said in a surprised tone of voice.

“Yes, very well in fact,” Luna replied with narrowed eyes. “Now my name is Luna, please call me by it.”

The ghoul stared at her for a moment before turning to Sarah. “And what’s your name smoothskin?”

“Sarah,” Sarah answered. “And this is Underworld, right?”

“Yes, that’s right,” the ghoul answered. “My name is Winthrope and this is Underworld; the only safe place for ghouls in the Capital Wasteland. We’re here out of sight and out of mind. The mutants leave us alone and the slavers usually don’t come into the city, so it’s not so bad,” he explained. “Honestly, the only thing we really have to worry about is the Brotherhood of Steel but they don’t come in here so...” he trailed off with a shrug.

“You do not like the Brotherhood?” Luna asked with a suspicious gaze at Winthrop. “Whyever not? They seem like brave honorable knights.”

The ghoul snorted. “They shoot at us whenever they see us, though they ‘miss’ most of the time,” he answered with a roll of his eyes, which was a rather disturbing action. “The bastards can’t seem to tell the difference between us and the ferals.”

Then yet another reason to approve of the Brotherhood, Nightmare whispered viciously within Luna’s mind. They know evil when they see it.

“I’m surprised by that,” Sarah said with a frown, then she shook her head. “Anyways, is it alright if I trade a few things?”

“That’s fine. As long as you don’t bother us, we won’t bother you. Feel free to come and go, trade, sleep, whatever,” Winthrope replied.

“Thanks,” Sarah said with a small nod. “Can you point us in the direction of the general trader or weapon shop? We’ve got a lot of stuff to sell,” she added.

“Yeah it’s Underworld Outfitters; first door up ahead on your left,” the ghoul replied with a nod in the direction of one of the doorways set into the wall.

“Thanks,” Sarah said, giving the ghoul a small smile. “Come on Luna.”

Luna gave Winthrope a last critical look but then shrugged and followed after Sarah. The pair entered Tulip’s and walked up to the counter to find a female ghoul wearing a mostly destroyed jacket.

“Oh my! You really are a unicorn!” the ghoul exclaimed as Sarah and Luna drew nearer. “I never thought I’d see one of you!”

“Alicorn, actually,” Luna said with a small frown as she lifted her wings.

“Alicorn?” the ghoul asked with a frown before shrugging. “And you can talk? I guess Willow wasn’t full of shit after all.”

“Indeed...” Luna said with a slight roll of her eyes.

“Right, now, we have some things to sell,” Sarah declared, grabbing the heavy bag off of its place on Luna’s back and lugging it over to the counter.

“Oh good, it’s been forever since I had a customer,” the ghoul said. “My name is Tulip by the way and welcome to Underworld Outfitters.”

“Sarah, and my furry friend is Luna,” Sarah replied as she unzipped the bag and began to pull out the assault rifles, Tulip’s eyebrows continued to rise as the number increased exponentially. “Alright... there are twenty here.”

Tulip eyed the assault rifles for a moment before she picked one up and stripped it with an extreme amount of competence. Of course, Sarah thought to herself. She’s probably been doing it for around two hundred years, so that’s to be expected I guess. Tulip examined the rifle and nodded.

“Alright, I can give you 50 caps for it, I’ll charge the same rate for the rest,” the ghoul told her. “That sound about right to you?”

“Umm... how much is that?” Sarah asked with a blush. “I’m not a math person.”

“One thousand,” Luna and Tulip answered simultaneously. The mare and the ghoul exchanged a look, and the ghoul chuckled.

“Don’t worry about it Miss Sarah, I’m only good at it because I’ve been doing it for so long,” the ghoul assured the blushing woman.

“Right... so we’re a thousand caps richer... great!” she said with a smile. The ghoul nodded and reached under the counter, pulling out ten small pouches.

“There are a hundred caps in each of these,” she explained and passed them over to Sarah who nodded and stuffed the pouches into her armored pockets.

“Thanks Tulip,” the woman said.

“Anytime, like I said, I’m just happy to have customers again,” Tulip replied as she moved the stack of assault rifles onto the floor beside her. “Now, is there anything else you’d like to trade? I’ve still got a few hundred caps available.”

“Actually yes,” Luna spoke up. “We managed to acquire a pair of ‘miniguns’ from some mutants and they are very heavy so we would like to be rid of them as well.”

Tulip raised an eyebrow. “Well let’s see them then,” she said.

Sarah nodded and reached into her pack, drawing out the assorted minigun parts and rapidly assembling them both with the aid of a screwdriver. When she’d finished there were two miniguns resting on the counter. Tulip pursed her lip, an odd sight from a ghoul, and began to examine them closely. After a several minutes she sighed.

“Well, these two are in shit condition,” she grumbled. “Stupid muties don’t take care of their weapons the way the rest of us do.”

Sarah’s expression sagged. “Does that mean that we carried these all the way here for nothing?”

I will be very annoyed if that is the case, Nightmare muttered darkly.

“No, I can give you about a hundred and fifty caps for the pair,” Tulip said with a frown. “I mean, they’re repairable and you’ve got all the important parts... it’s just going to take me a bit to get them into working order,” the ghoul explained.

“Okay... that’s reasonable enough I guess,” Sarah replied with a small nod.

“As the one who carried them, I would say that is hardly fair,” Luna spoke up. “Given the amount of firepower these two beasts can put out, they are clearly worth far more than a scant one hundred and fifty caps.”

Tulip looked at her with a raised eyebrow. Then she smacked one of the guns and the six barrels clattered to the counter with several pings. She then gave Luna a skeptical look.

Excellent...now we look like a fool, Nightmare groaned within Luna’s skull.

“I withdraw my argument,” Luna said, a faint flush of embarrassment coloring her cheeks.

“Excellent,” Tulip declared, drawing a pair of pouches out from under the counter, one was noticeably smaller than the other. Sarah took them both and put them in her pockets. “Anything else I can get you? Ammo, stims, armor?”

“Actually yes,” Sarah said, drawing her combat shotgun off of her back. “Do you have any ammo for this?”

“Yeah, about forty, they go for two caps each,” Tulip answered.

“So... sixty?” Sarah asked, thinking hard.

My word, that’s impressively bad, Nightmare chuckled within Luna’s mind.

She is clearly not a math pony, Luna agreed with a chuckel of her own.

“Eighty,” Luna answered with a slightly amused grin on her face. “However have you managed up till now Sarah?”

Sarah rolled her eyes and drew one of the pouches that Tulip had given her out. “Here you go... can you do the counting?”

Tulip chuckled. “Sure,” she quickly counted out eighty caps and then walked over to the shelves behind her, grabbing a crate full of shotgun shells. She brought them over to Sarah who examined them and then nodded, shoving them into her bag. “Alright, that all?”

“Yeah, we’re good on stimpacks, and our armor is holding up well enough, and I got more then enough hunting rifle ammo thanks to the muties,” Sarah replied with a smile. “Thanks for trading with us Tulip.”

“It was no trouble,” Tulip replied. “Do you plan to stay in town?”

Sarah was silent for a moment and then shook her head. “No... Luna and I have a father to find.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 17: Bullies, whores, and claws

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“It was rather nice of Three Dog to include the key to that weapons cache,” Luna observed as she and Sarah cleared the entrance to the Farragut West Metro Station, the place where not many days before they had been shot at by super mutants wielding miniguns.

“I can be convincing when I want to be,” Sarah replied with a small nod.

“So long as it is not a math problem, hmm?” Luna asked her. Sarah rolled her eyes and slapped Luna’s neck playfully.

“Hey, I had to deal enough of that from Butch and the Snakes,” she said with a roll of her eyes. “Don’t start it up alright?”

Luna looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “Who are Butch and Snakes?” she inquired.

“Butch is an idiot... a good hearted guy deep down, but still an idiot,” Sarah said with another roll of her eyes. “And there’s no one named ‘Snakes’ but he created a gang called the Tunnel Snakes.”

“Ah...” Luna said, a bit mystified by the concept. “Gang in this sense means a group of people who will fight for you and cause mischief on your behalf; correct?”

“Pretty much,” Sarah replied as the two walked along the cracked concrete, once more beside the brown river. “I mean... they weren’t that bad, I guess,” she continued, waving a hand in a random direction. “They weren’t anything even close to ‘raiders’ or slavers. But... they were just a bunch of idiots.”

“Most stallions are when they are younger,” Luna answered dryly. “Many continue with it long into their old age.”

“Heh, true,” Sarah agreed before a thought struck her. “Though Butch always was a bit of a momma’s boy... which is something that’s always convinced me that no matter how big of an ass he could be, there was always a bit of good in him,” she said.

“Why?” Luna asked her with a raised eyebrow.

“Because anyone who cares for their mom can’t be all bad,” Sarah replied with a shrug.

“Ah, I cannot relate,” Luna said with a slight frown. “I never met her, and she died giving birth to me... I suppose two oversized oddly formed fillies was more then her body could take...” she trailed off and looked down at the cracked asphalt, a newly despondent look on her face.

“If it makes you feel any better, we’re in the same boat,” Sarah said, patting Luna’s neck lightly. “I killed my mother too.”

Luna looked up at the woman in surprise. “Truly? I have not seen it in your dreams.”

Sarah shivered slightly at the mention of that, but wisely chose not to question it. She likely wouldn’t have understood what Luna tried to tell her anyways.

“Well, I never knew her... there’s not really much to dream about is there?” the woman asked Luna. “I don’t even have a ‘one memory’ or anything. No voice calling out to me from the beyond, no ghost touch on my cheek, none of those old cliches.”

Luna pondered that for a moment and then nodded. “I understand, truthfully... all memories of that sort are of my sister,” she said slowly before she shook her head angrily. “The arrogant nag...”

You know Luna... everything you’ve told me about her seems to paint her as a saint... And yet you say you hate her. The thought drifted through Sarah’s mind briefly and she grasped onto it for a moment. I guess... there’s more to her story... but now doesn’t seem like the time to talk about it, she thought. Might want to save it for an ‘evening’ talk.

“Anyways back to the topic of the Tunnel Snakes,” Sarah said, getting them away from what could have been a dangerous topic.

“Yes? What about them?” Luna inquired.

“I learned to fight thanks to them,” Sarah said with a smirk. “See, this one time they were making fun of my friend Amata and I couldn’t take it any more... so I kneed Butch right in the balls on the day of the G.O.A.T.”

Luna looked over at the woman with a raised eyebrow. “Really?”

“Yep, he was hobbling around the Vault for the next three days, even with an icepack... worth every stitch and lecture,” Sarah replied, chuckling at the thought. “I’m not sure if my dad was actually all that disappointed in me... see, he kept on grinning in-between telling me that ‘violence wasn’t the answer’.”

Luna snickered. “I too have found that a solid blow to the groin solves many of life’s problems,” she said with a smirk. Sarah looked over at Luna, a smirk of her own on her face.

“HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!” Sarah shouted as she looked over her shoulder at the veritable army of freaks that were chasing them.

“I HAVE NO IDEA!” Luna shouted back as she galloped beside the woman. “WHAT ARE THEY?!”

“MIRELURKS!” Sarah yelled back, a bullet biting into the ground an inch behind her foot. “I THINK!”

“YOU THINK? I THOUGHT YOU KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING OUT HERE!” Luna shouted above the roar of the minigun.

“DON’T BLAME ME FOR THIS!” Sarah yelled at the top of her lungs as a dozen bullets skittered over her head.

Due to the Goddess of Fate, finicky bitch that she is, their day had taken a sudden turn for the worse. They’d been walking along, and then somehow stumbled into a battle between a group of super mutants and some strange creatures that resembled crabs. One accidental kicked can later, they had an army of mutants and mutant crab creatures chasing them down the street. Apparently having put aside their differences in pursuit of their common hatred(?) of the two and deciding that it would be in everyone’s best interest to try and kill them.

Luckily, hope was on the horizon in the form of a tall building with a pair of large flagpoles set up at either side of the entrance.

“Okay! We get in there, we hole up, block the door, and hope that they go away!” Sarah shouted, pointing at the building.

“Seems appropriate!” Luna agreed as she glanced over her shoulder to see that a particularly determined mirelurk was closing with her.

Kill it! Nightmare exclaimed. It wants to carve out our hindquarters!

I’m too busy running! Luna retorted, clearly annoyed. Do it yourself!

The Nightmare had no response to that, and Luna and Sarah simply continued to run until they all but flew through the door to the tall building and slammed the door shut behind them, leaning their bodies against it.

“That was close,” Sarah gasped as she tried to catch her breath.

“Indeed it wa-” Luna was cut off as she caught sight of their surroundings, her brain temporarily dying.

“Luna, hello, Earth to Luna,” Sarah said, looking at her friend’s stunned face in confusion. Then she looked at the room as well, her mouth dropping open.

Suspended from the ceiling was jukebox, half a to let, and most shocking of all... what appeared to be two giant glowing people women making sweet, sweet love. A large heart shaped bed sat in the middle of the room beneath the ‘couple’ and beer bottles littered the floor. Two nearly naked women wearing barely enough to cover themselves lounged around in the background. One with dark skin was drinking from a bottle of beer, the other was relaxing on the couch doing nothing much in particular.

Most mystifying of all was the man striding towards them. He wore a red suit which could only be described as... scandalously fashionable. The man grinned as he looked at them, and then spoke in a suave if slightly rough accented voice.

“Oh babies! Let me get you something special! How about a Dukov Surprise; ha hah?” He asked with a lewd smile as he puffed on a cigarette. Sarah and Luna stared at him, completely stunned. “Nevermind!” he said quickly, waving his hand as if wiping away the precious sentence. “Cherry! We need some fucking booze over here!”

Sarah gathered her wits first and attempted to ask a sensible question.

“Who are you...?” she asked slowly.

“Who me? I’m Dukov and this is my place!” the man said with a grin.

Luna asked the next question.

“And what... pray tell are you doing here?”

“Eating, drinking, farting and screwing!’ Dukov answered, laughing as he did so. Luna and Sarah both stared at him, looks of varying disgust on their faces. “Out here nobody bothers me. I can do whatever I like to whenever I want!”

Sarah closed her eyes, hoping to gather some of her sanity. When she opened them, she looked back at the girls in the background, her eyes gliding over them before her cheeks reddened.

“So... umm who are the girls over there?” she asked slowly. “And... where are their clothes?”

“An excellent question,” Luna added quickly, turning away from the nearly naked women, a scarlet blush on her face.

Heheheheh, Nightmare snickered in Luna’s mind. It seems that we may have a chance with her after all, the Nightmare observed, catching sight of Sarah’s looks.

"Ha ha! They’re my party girls!” Dukov laughed loudly. “I’m too much man for just one woman, so I need two! Hahahah,” he exclaimed with another bout of laughter. “I wear them out every night! Why should they bother getting dressed when I’m just going to take it off?” the man asked with a chuckle.

Sarah stared at him, her right hand balling up into a fist. “So these girls... they’re your sex slaves?”

“No, no, no, no,” Dukov tutted, a clearly offended by the question. “They can leave whenever they want to,” he added.

“So they’re your whores then?” Luna inquired, Daybreaker beginning to inch its way out of its sheath.

“Hey! Watch your language, clown hooves!” Dukov exclaimed. “I don’t pay them. They take care of me, so I take care of them. We rub each other wrong all night long! Ha, ha!”

Then the man walked past them at the door they were currently pressed up against.

“So what brings you two beautiful ladies to Dukov’s home in the first place?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Army of mutants,” Sarah answered.

“And crabs, evil, evil looking crabs,” Luna added.

“OH! You made the muties mad?” Dukov asked them with a raised eyebrow. “And the ‘lurks?”

“Yes,” Sarah said flatly. “Is there some way to barricade this door?”

“Oh, they’ll go away eventually,” Dukov said with a laugh as he shook his head. “They always do. In the meantime, you may as well enjoy my hospitality!” he exclaimed with a grin. “Cherry, where is that damn booze!?” he turned to shout at the white woman who dragged herself to her feet and walked over to them, passing out a drink to both Sarah and Luna along with Dukov himself.

“Here,” she said with a flat tone of voice.

“That’s my girl Cherry!” Dukov exclaimed with a grin before he slapped her ass, making the woman jump a little.

“Hey, can we save it for when my clothes are actually off?” the woman asked him with a slight indignant noise.

“Sure baby, we have guests, I suppose I should know better eh?” Dukov asked, chuckling again.

Sarah glanced down at the drink in her hand and then back at the man. “If it weren’t for the army of mutants out there I’d leave right now,” she told him, clearly annoyed and disgusted by him.

“Hey! Dukov doesn’t question how you live your life! Don’t question him on how he leads his!” Dukov exclaimed before shrugging and walking over to a couch and throwing himself down beside the black woman and reaching beneath her ‘clothing’ and beginning to fondle her causing the woman to giggle like a school girl.

Sarah looked away, disgusted, though there was a crimson blush on her face, one that Luna was matching.

“Ignore it,” Cherry advised. “You’ll get used to it, even if you’re only here for a little while.”

“Umm... you don’t actually stay here because you ‘love’ him so much do you?” Sarah asked the other woman uncomfortably as she tried to tune out the increasingly frisky sounding noises from the background.

Cherry scoffed. “Fuck no, I’m only here for the caps,” she said with a shake of her head. “Who the hell would love that old fart?” she asked with a disdainful glance over her shoulder at the ‘aspiring couple’ who were rounding first base rapidly.

“She seems to be enjoying it,” Luna observed before turning away with a mixture of disgust and annoyance.

“Yeah, well Fantasia’s not exactly the sharpest knife on the belt is she?” Cherry asked in a clearly sarcastic tone.

“I guess not,” Sarah said, averting her eyes, and wishing that she had some way to block out the sounds. “Is there some place... else we can stay?”

“Yeah, follow me,” Cherry said with a sigh as she lead the two past the ‘busy’ couple, up the stairs, and into a large kitchen/bedroom. “Before you ask, we’ve fucked on every piece of furniture in here, including the carpet, so everyplace is just about as disgusting as the next.”

Luna and Sarah exchanged a pair of looks and then simultaneously decided on the couch, figuring that while it had most likely seen the most ‘use’ it would be easier for the two to gain some form of comfort from being next to each other.

“Cherry, get down here! We need a third basegirl!” Dukov shouted up, the woman sighed and turned to Sarah and Luna.

“Take whatever you want from the fridge... I’ll be busy for the next twenty minutes till he passes out,” she said with another sigh before she left Sarah and Luna alone on the couch.

“Sarah; is it bad that I want to kill him?” Luna inquired.

“I know I want to,” Sarah replied flatly. “The only reason that I’m not is that he’s paying them and they’re here voluntarily.”

“That, and he seems to have offered us asylum when he had no real reason too,” Luna mused. “You don’t think that he has somehow paid those mutants to run women into him, do you?”

“Na, I don’t think he’s that smart,” Sarah answered as she unconsciously leaned into Luna’s side, probably the only soft surface that wasn’t covered in questionable stains.

“Drat, I was hoping to kill him,” Luna said venomously.

We like him, Nightmare spoke up from within Luna’s mind.

What? How?! Luna almost shouted.

He is very... virile, Nightmare answered simply, causing Luna to groan aloud.

Sarah looked over at her friend in concern.

“Something wrong Luna?” Sarah asked her, tuning out an especially high pitched scream of ecstasy from below.

“No... my mind is just very strange sometimes,” Luna answered with a shake of her head.

“Oh,” Sarah said with a nod. “How so?”

“I’d... rather not speak of it,” Luna replied with a sigh. “So... did what Three Dog speak to you about help you much? We never had the chance to talk about it.”

Sarhan nodded. “Yeah, it di-” she was interrupted by a very loud exclamation from Dukov. “-it did,” she finished with a roll of her eyes. “I know where he went, Rivet City... I remember some of the people in Megaton talking about it, apparently it’s a giant metal ship from before the war that people have turned into a city.”

Hence the name, Nightmare stated with a roll of her metaphorical eyes. I doubt they would name a house a city

“Hence the name,” Luna said, chuckling slightly.

“Yeah,” Sarah agreed with a nod. “So... got any more stories about your past you want to tell?”

Luna frowned. “I suppose I could continue my tale if you’d like to hear it,” she mused. “Or we could check and see whether or not there’s a back exit to this wretched place,” the mare suggested with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh thank God, I thought you’d never suggest it,” Sarah said with a sigh of relief as she got off of the icky couch. Luna joined her momentarily and together the two walked out of the room, averting their eyes to the sights and sounds below. It didn’t take them very long to find a back stairway and from there, an exit to the building.

The pair exited and found that the the mutants and mirelurks were still clustered around the front of the building, not playing the least bit of attention to the rear of it. With near matching sighs of relief, the pair began to stalk away from the building. Luckily, there was a small bridge that ran across the river and they decided to take it in order to avoid any more problems from the mutants. What side of the river they were on wouldn’t really matter in the long run and the way Sarah saw it, having a river in between themselves and the mutants would be nice.

“So... that was a particularly disturbing place,” Luna stated as they walked across the crumbling concrete.

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Sarah said with a frown.

“It reminded me of the brothels that the guards frequented on their nights off,” Luna continued, cracking her neck to get a kink out of it. “Though for some reason, I imagined that the whores would be more... dignified.”

“You do know what a whore is right?” Sarah asked her, raising an eyebrow at the mare.

“Well... yes, but from the way my stallions always talked about them I assumed there was an element of class to them,” Luna replied with a small frown. “I suppose that was just to keep me from inquiring too closely about their condition and whether or not I should be allowing them to see to their ‘needs’.”

“I guess,” Sarah agreed with a slight shrug. They reached the end of the bridge and continued downstream for another ten minutes or so.


“FUCK!” Sarah exclaimed, clutching her left shoulder where a rather large hole had appeared in her armor, scarlet blood leaked out of the wound and Sarah’s face was beared in pain as she fell to her knees.


“SARAH!” Luna shouted.

Another shot rang out and Sarah let out another cry of pain as a second bullet slammed into her shoulder, missing her hand by inches. The woman slumped to the ground, bleeding heavily. Luna’s eyes widened and she scanned for the shooter, finding no one.


A bullet slammed into Luna’s chest and sent her stumbling backwards as she felt the bullet cut into her abdomen and a lance of hot pain ran through her. She scanned wildly for the shooter, but couldn’t see one anywhere.

Get to cover, bring Sarah with you, Nightmare cut in, her icy voice cutting through Luna’s growing sense of panic. The shots came from the west and therefore cannot hit us if we place a layer of cover between ourselves and the shooter. Now move!

Luna needed no more instruction-


-as a bullet narrowly missed decapitating the mare, spurring her forward faster. She grabbed Sarah’s limp form in her magic and struggled behind a low concrete divider. The mare bent over Sarah who was somehow still conscious.

Sarah’s mind was alight with pain, and her brain was running on pure adrenaline, giving her a heightened sense of what was happening.

Two .308 rounds are embedded in my left shoulder. I won’t be using it. I’m behind cover. Luna doesn’t know how to treat bullet wounds. Worse. The sniper is still hidden. That means that we’re stuck here. I’m bleeding to death.

These thoughts and more flashed rapidly through the woman’s mind and she feebly used her right arm to reach down near her armored pocket in an attempt to pull out a stimpack. This attempt was made rather futile by the wave of intense pain coming from her shoulder which traveled up her entire side. Sarah’s mind realed as she glanced over at the two terrifyingly large holes in her shoulder and fought down a wave of nausea and panic, her training taking over, doing her best to fight off the effects of shock.

Luna saw the motion and Nightmare quickly chimed in.

There must be stimpacks in that pocket! Quickly! Retrieve them at once! She exclaimed.

Luna nodded and despite the pain arcing through her body managed to use her magic to pull out a pair of stimpacks. They wavered as they hovered in mid air and the mare shut her eyes to gain her focus on her magic. The pain growing in her chest was increasing rapidly with every second and tears began to leak down Luna’s face as she jabbed the stimpack into both her own chest and directly into one of the holes in Sarah’s shoulder pushing down the plunger and then withdrawing the spent syringe.


Another bullet slammed into the concrete lane divider, causing a puff of concrete to shower down on them. Sarah gritted her teeth and drew in a shallow breath.

“Good job. They’ll have to come over here to get us,” Sarah grunted. “Get me my bag,” she added with a shallow nod towards the bag on Luna’s back. Sarah’s her face was pale and despite the stimpack, her shoulder continued to bleed, though the flow of had begun to slow.

“What are you looking for?” Luna asked through gritted teeth as the bag wobbled off of her back.

“Med-X and bandages,” Sarah answered through gritted teeth she then began to rummage through the dufflebag until she came upon a small metal box. She pulled it out and then worked it open to reveal several small syringes. “Luna, get them out... and then use them like stimpacks,” the woman instructed as blood seeped down her shoulder.

“What will it do?” Luna inquired as she picked them up.

“Kill the pain for a bit,” Sarah grunted before Luna jabbed the chem into her shoulder before pressing down the plunger. Icy cold washed over her and the pain faded into the background. Meanwhile, Sarah continued to rummage through the bag until she came back up with a few pieces of gauze and some medical tape, doing as best as she could to bandage up the crippled shoulder and was only able to do so thanks to the Med-x.

Oh... this is a strange feeling... Nightmare said, sounding a bit light headed. It reminds us of opium.

Then we should be wary of it... Luna replied before shaking her head. The last thing I require is to be addicted to a substance of this nature.

“What now?” Luna asked Sarah, the woman frowned and pulled her pistol out of its holster on her side and got to her knees.

“Now? Now we wait for the bastards,” she said through gritted teeth as she maneuvered herself so that she was leaning against the right side of the divider. “Get your rifle ready and lean against the side. That way they can’t flank us.”

Luna did so, placing her shoulder against the divider.

“I may be new to this type of warfare, but wouldn’t it be easier for them to simply wait us out?” Luna inquired. “They have all the time in the world, while if we do not receive proper treatment we will surely perish from our wounds.”

“That’s true,” Sarah stated with a pant as her left arm hung limply at her side. “But I’m willing to bet that whoever it is isn’t very patient, or that good of a shot. Otherwise I’d be dead. Now be quiet.”

Luna nodded, seeing the sense in the command. They waited there in silence for a almost a minute and even with the Med-x and the stimpack, Luna felt as if she was slowly dying.

Mare up, we did not complain nearly this much when we were clawed by that Ursa Major, Nightmare scolded her. Even here where our magic is weakened and our natural resistance is lower, this piece of metal in our chest should not present this much difficulty.

Luna didn’t bother responding because it was at that moment she heard the sound of boot steps approaching their position.

“You think you got them?” a male voice asked.

“I know I killed the target, shot her twice with my fucking rifle. Don’t know about that malformed brahmin thing,” another answered.

“That thing was fucking weird looking,” the first voice stated with a scoff. “I still can’t believe they took out our other hit squad.”

“You’re telling me,” the second voice said with a snarl. “How in the hell did some punk bitch fresh out of the vault kill Buck?”

“Fuck if I know, I’m just glad she’s dead, we’ll get to split the thousand caps between us,” the first voice grunted as they came closer, they were almost on top of Sarah and Luna’s position.

Move in three seconds, two shots to the chest and a third to the head, Nightmare instructed. Luna nodded and prepared to move.

Duck out of cover, take four shots, get back in cover, Sarah went over in her mind as her pistol shook in her right hand, barely able to hold it up even with the aid of the Med-x.

Three. The pair unknowingly chanted simultaneously in their heads. Two. The voices were almost close enough to see over the divider. ONE!

Sarah leaned around cover, her gun leading the way. Time seemed to slow around her as she did so, her brain full of adrenaline. She distantly saw a pair of men clad in black talon company armour, one with a sniper rifle in his hands, the other with a combat shotgun.

Sarah only observed this in the back of her mind, the front of her mind was too busy lining up her shots. She fired once, twice, three times, four times. The first bullet flew wide, the second however slammed into the merc with the rifle’s neck while the third and fourth smashed into his jaw, destroying it in a cloud of blood and bone fragments.

At the same time, Luna leaned out of cover, allowing Nightmare to do most of the aiming before she unleashed her three shots. The first hit smack dab in the center of the merc with the sniper’s chest causing him to flinch backwards, clutching at the melted flesh beneath the armor. The next beam went wide, completely missing the merc and flying off in the distance. The third and final shot nailed the merc in the eye. To Luna’s surprised eyes, the merc disintegrated into a pile of ashes.

I had forgotten that it could do that, Nightmare observed with a mental chuckle.

Sarah let out a pant of exhaustion as she struggled to her feet, her upper left side completely dead. As she did so the woman’s vision blurred and she looked over to see that blood had begun to leak through the gauze and medical tape.

“What... now?” Luna asked slowly, her breath too coming out in pants.

“We... need to go back to Megaton... if you don’t get that bullet out of your chest, it’ll be there forever,” Sarah said through gritted teeth. “I’d take it out myself... but I only have one arm... and we’d need to get back anyways... stimpacks alone aren't going to fix this,” she gestured towards her left arm.

“Well then... we need to go there...” Luna stated, she was beginning to have trouble breathing properly. “One question... where is Megaton?”

Wandering Moon Chapter 18: The horse she rode in on

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“Stay with me Luna,” Sarah groaned as the blue alicorn leaned heavily into her uninjured side. “It’s not that much further.”

“You... said... that... an... hour... ago,” Luna gasped in between breaths of air. Her entire body screamed out in pain at her every word.

Quit talking, you are straining us, Nightmare commanded, not for the first time. Simply ignore her or nod if we must but there should be no more talking. That piece of metal is already far enough in us without us making it worse!

Were... were we in Equestria... I would simply heal myself... Luna mentally groaned, even her mental voice becoming strained.

Well we are not and there is not enough ambient magic for us to use to do such a thing, Nightmare replied strictly. Now quit thinking and march! We have not come this far to die because of a simple piece of metal!

Luna silently agreed with her better half and continued to walk, though it hurt her horribly however hard her hooves hit the ground.

The pair had been walking for the last hour, and the only thing keeping them going was Sarah’s supply of Med-X which she was fearful to dip too deeply into, for obvious reasons. The woman’s entire left side down to her hips ached horribly even with the Med-X and Sarah was rather surprised that she hadn’t gone into shock yet. Or maybe she’d already died and this was just her afterlife, walking forever towards a goal that never seemed to get closer with her only real friend in the Wasteland leaning against her-

“Stop it,” Sarah grunted, wishing she could slap herself. Luna looked over at her, the mare’s eyes clouded.

Sarah just shook her head and wished she could access her Pip-Boy, however, any attempt to do that would just mach her arm feel worse. Luckily she knew the way back to Megaton... even though she’d only left it two or three times... it seemed like the route was burned into her memory.

Finally, after what seemed like three hours of walking; though in reality it was really no more then an hour and ten minutes, they arrived at the gates of Megaton.

“Sarah?!” A man armed with a sniper rifle and a suit of combat armour called down to her. “Is that you and your... horse thing that Three Dog was talking about?”

We are not a horse! Nightmare mentally shouted at him. We are an alicorn of great magical power and-!

SHUT UP! Luna roared at her. You are giving me a mental migraine and I am already having enough trouble as it is!

Nightmare quietened, though Luna could still hear her ‘muttering’ in the back of her mind.

“It’s me Stockholm, now open the damn door before Luna and I bleed to death in front of it!” Sarah shouted up to the man, though it came out more as a hoarse call instead of the angry shout she’d been aiming for.

“On it,” the man stated, seeing the obvious limpness of her arm and the blood stains on both of their armour.

The gate rumbled open and Luna got her first glance at Sarah’s home. It was to her slight surprise, both far more and far less ramshackle then she’d been expecting. It was an odd combination of rusty black metal that had been welded into place and there were a variety of obvious structural hazards... however it was obviously well maintained and the mare doubted that any of it would give out beneath her weight. Of course, Luna wasn’t exactly paying much attention, she was too busy trying to stay conscious. Meanwhile, Sarah saw the already familiar form of Lucas Simms striding towards them.

“Sarah good to see you and your... horse,” Simms said with a slightly raised eyebrow.

Not a hor- Nightmare got halfway through her mental shout before quieting herself.

Sarah gave him a strained smile. “Thanks... my entire left side is numb, I have two .308 bullet holes in my shoulder, and I’ve been holding Luna here up for the last hour and a half... would you mind helping me here?” she asked him slowly between clenched teeth.

“Of course,” Simms replied, walking up to Luna’s other side. “Lean into me,” he gruffly instructed the alicorn who did so promptly.

Who is this man, why are we trusting him? Nightmare questioned incredulously.

Because Sarah trusts him, Luna answered flatly. Not to mention that Sarah is currently in an excruciating amount of pain and I do not wish to inflict more of it with my current state of uselessness.

“So, mind telling me the story on ‘Luna’ here?” Simms asked as the he helped lead Luna’s limp form down towards the clinic. “All Three Dog says is that she’s your friend.”

“Found her in the Super Duper Mart,” Sarah replied. “Talk more later after Doc Church fixes my arm.”

It didn’t take them long to get to Doctor Church’s clinic. The old black man looked up from his terminal, a shocked expression flashed across his face at the sight of the barely conscious Luna, but he quickly narrowed his eyes as he scanned both the alicorn and Sarah.

“Huh, so that’s what a real live horse looks like,” he said with a slight shrug. “Well, what do you want me to do? They both look perfectly fine to me,” he added.

Lucas Simms gave him a flat look and Sarah made what could almost be called an indignant noise, well except for the obvious undercurrent of pain. The doctor rolled his eyes and threw up his hands in defeat.

“Alright, alright, I’ll fix em,” Church grumbled as he walked over to Luna and bent down on one knee to examine the wound. Then with business-like familiarity he grabbed her by the neck and rear end and before flipping her onto the medical stretcher in a single motion.

What just happened? Were we just... marehandled? Nightmare asked, her voice filled with surprise and a touch of anger.

I neither know, nor care, Luna replied tiredly as she lay her head down on the soft material and closed her eyes.

“When was the last Med-X injection?” Church asked, glancing at Sarah.

“About half an hour ago, for both of us,” Sarah answered, her eyes slightly widened at the doctor’s feet of strength.

“And how many doses did you give yourselves getting back here from wherever you came from?” the doctor asked.

“Three each,” Sarah said. “I didn’t want to use more than that...”

The Doctor just nodded. “Good, that’s still enough to keep it from feeling this.”

He turned away from Sarah who watched silently as Doc Church began to cut open Luna’s chest around where she’d been shot, cutting away some of the tissue so that he could get to the rather large bullet that had been embedded in her chest. As he did so the doctor would occasionally mutter something to the nature of ‘that’s strange’ or ‘huh,’ but other then that he worked in silence while Sarah leaned heavily into Simms’s side.

The Sheriff for his part just helped the woman stay stable, after all, the entire town owed the girl, who was he to push her away?

When at last Doc Church pushed himself away from Luna, his hands bloody and stained, he jabbed a stimpack into her chest and then covered the wound with a clean white bandage.

“There, that should do it,” he said as he walked over to the sink and washed off the blood before turning to Sarah. “Come over here girl, I still say you’re not that bad off, but I may as well take a look at you,” he instructed.

Sarah did so and the Doctor quickly examined her left shoulder, his hands surprisingly gentle despite their firmness. Sarah barely winced as they ran over the wounds. Then the doctor led her over to an extra chair in the clinic and sat her down.

“Alright, this won’t hurt a bit,” he said with a slight shrug before he injected Sarah with about a dozen stimpacks and then bandaged up the wound.

It did actually hurt, Church was not the most delicate doctor in the Wasteland and when he wrapped the bandages around the wound he was far from gentle as he pulled them taught. When he’d finished the doctor washed his hands again and then dried them on his shirtfront.

“There, it should be better in a day or so,” he told Sarah. “Now, that’ll be two hundred caps,” he said, holding out his hand. Sarah was too exhausted by the day’s events to argue and fished out the required caps, handing them to Church who simply accepted the pouch and then nodded to Luna. “The horse thing’ll be fine... though it might have a little trouble breathing for a bit.”

She, her name is Luna,” Sarah corrected him.

“Yeah, well ‘Luna’ will be fine,” Church said as he walked over to Luna and once again somehow flipped her over perfectly so that she landed on her hooves, even though she was still completely asleep.

Sarah stared blankly at him for a moment before the word ‘how’ escaped her mouth.

“Girl, I’ve been operating on brahmin for years, I’ve learned some tricks,” Church replied nonchalantly. “Now is there anything else, or are you two done wasting my time?”

Sarah frowned and walked over to Luna who was still snoozing and patted her on the neck. The alicorn’s eyes popped open and for a moment they were appeared to be slitted before returning to their normal blue color.

“Oh... hello Sarah,” Luna said slowly.

“It talks!” both Simms and Church exclaimed, though Church sounded more... intrigued then surprised.

Luna turned to them, her eyes changing again. “Yes, we talk. We are also perfectly capable of hearing each and every word you say now you will stop gawking at us as if we are a ‘thing’ or else we are going to-” the mare cut herself off and shook her head, her eyes losing their slit. “-sorry.”

Simms and the doctor exchanged rather mystified glances before Simms looked at Sarah, he had his ‘you’re going to explain what’s going on or I’m kicking you out of town’ face on. Even though Sarah had only been in town for a day or so... she’d already gotten very familiar with it.

“I’ll explain later,” the woman promised while she grabbed Luna’s neck with her right hand. “But right now I should probably get Luna here up to my house... alright?”

“You going to be okay by yourself with... ‘Luna’ here?” Simms asked her, raising an eyebrow slightly.

“Of course she will be!” Luna replied indignantly. “Who do you think has been keeping Sarah alive on her adventures so far?”

“Right,” Simms said, giving the sword and laser rifle bearing alicorn a speculative glance before shrugging. “See that you do.” The sheriff then walked out of the building.

Luna shot the man a dirty look. “The nerve,” she said at a low growl. Doc Church looked at Sarah with a raised eyebrow but shrugged and got back to work on the terminal.

“Right... we should get going,” Sarah muttered, turning Luna’s head towards the door. The alicorn allowed herself to be led out of the building. As they exited the alicorn noticed that there were at least a dozen people openly staring at her.

This is... uneasily familiar, Luna muttered quietly to Nightmare.

Indeed... it is as if we have just wandered into Old Unicornia again… At least we doubt that any of these humans wish to vivisect us, Nightmare agreed, her voice darkening at the bad memory.

Sarah noticed Luna’s darkening expression, and patted her neck reassuringly. “Come on Luna, we’ll be at my house in no time,” she said. “Then we can get some more rest, I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.”

“Yes... we are as well,” Luna agreed, a small smile gracing her face.

The black haired woman was true to her word and they arrived at Sarah’s house. Luna regarded the apparently ramshackle structure of the house and turned to Sarah.

“Are you sure it is safe to live within it?” the alicorn inquired.

Sarah chuckled softly. “That was my first question too actually,” the woman said, patting the side of the house and getting a solid ‘clang’ in response. “I’ve only spent two nights in it but... it seems to be fine so far. It doesn’t sway in the wind and the roof keeps the rain out.”

“Well alright, if you say so,” Luna said as she followed Sarah up to the door and stepped inside. She quickly scanned the room, two lockers, an odd stand of some kind, a refrigerator, and a set of stairs. However, what caught her immediate attention was the robot hovering towards her.

“Lady Sarah, need I remind you about the rules involving bringing livestock into Megaton houses?” the robot said in an almost offended sounding trotish accent.

WE ARE NOT LIVESTOCK!” Luna shouted at it angrily, her eyes blazing as Daybreaker flew from her scabbard and slashed through the air at the robot.

To her surprise, the robot disengaged his thrusters and the blade passed harmlessly over its ‘head’ and slammed into the wall. It then rose back up and rotated its flamethrower head over to point at the alicorn.

“Cease your hostile actions plow horse or you will see precisely why I am a master chef!” the robot exclaimed.

WE ARE NOT A HORSE!” Luna thundered.

“You most certainly are!” the robot replied pompously.

Sarah facepalmed and quickly walked between the pair of bickerers before Luna could kill her butler.

"Luna, this is Wadsworth, my robot butler,” she said, gesturing behind her at the floating robot. She then turned to face Wadsworth. “Wadsworth, this is my friend Luna. She’s actually an alicorn not a horse, oh, and she talks.”

“Obviously,” Wadsworth said, and was it Sarah’s imagination or was the robot snarking at her?

Sarah looked back at Luna who was glaring at the robot. “So... would you both please stop trying to kill each other?”

“So long as she does not leave her droppings around the house I suppose I am capable of allowing that,” Wadsworth stated cooly.

“We would never do such a thing!” Luna exclaimed, clearly outraged by the insinuation.

“Well you seem to be having trouble with your personal pronouns, so how am I to know what you will or will not do? the robot inquired.

“We-I-argh!” Luna glared daggers at the robot and Daybreaker shot from its place on the wall and landed back in its sheath. The alicorn glared at the robot angrily and Sarah let out a long sigh.

Why did I have to get the one robot with a sense of humor? the woman thought to herself tiredly.

“Let it go Luna,” Sarah said with a sigh. “Let’s just go and get some sleep.”

Luna sent a last glare at the robot and then followed Sarah who had begun to ascend the stairs.

If that piece of metal insinuates that we are a farm animal one more time then we will destroy it! Nightmare raged within her head.

Would you please stop shouting about everything? Luna asked, her previous tiredness catching up to her as she reached Sarah’s bedroom. It was then that Sarah noticed her logistical error when considering bringing Luna home with her... there was only one bed, and it was a small one at that.

“Um... looks like we’ll have to sleep together,” Sarah said.

“Have we not been practically every night?” Luna asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Well yeah, good point,” Sarah replied as she looked at the narrow bed. “It’s going to be pretty tight though.”

“I won’t mind,” Luna said without thinking. Sarah raised an eyebrow in her direction and Luna scrambled to correct herself.. “I mean- it will be worth the tight fit if we are to sleep on a soft mattress.” she said hurriedly.

And with such a soft woman draped around you, Nightmare added with a mental snicker.

“Oh, alright then,” Sarah said as she began to pull off her armoured suit, letting out a small sigh at finally being able to strip off the restrictive armour.

Luna did likewise, using her magic to unbuckle the modified talon plates from her body and letting them fall to the ground. She turned back to see that Sarah was now in her underwear. The alicorn’s mouth suddenly went slightly dry, though she wasn’t sure why... when she had last seen Sarah wearing so little it had not affected her in such a way... nor should it have. Nudity was the norm in Equestria after all and it was stranger to see somepony outside of the noble class wearing clothes...

It is because of those curves, just look at them, Nightmare whispered lustfully in her mind and Luna did indeed find her gaze lingering on the woman’s ‘curves’ before quickly glancing away. Sarah was apparently oblivious to the extra attention and was instead looking at the bed trying to figure out the best way to fit both of them onto it.

“Hmm...” the woman frowned. “I think you need to get in first... and then I’ll straddle your side... sound good?”

“Yes,” Luna answered immediately before a small blush washed over her cheeks. Sarah was still facing the bed, so she missed it.

“Great,” Sarah nodded and then gestured towards the bed.

Luna nodded and clambered onto it and set her head down, it was indeed a tight fit already. The pillow and sheets that she was lying on were surprisingly clean, unlike most that she had grown accustomed too out in the wasteland. Sarah got in next, scooting her chest up against the mare and wrapping her arms around her while burying her head into Luna’s neck fur as well as the pillow. Luna unconsciously moved a wing down to drape over Sarah and the woman giggled slightly as the feathers stroked across her naked skin.

“I must say... this bed is most comfy despite the tightness of the situation,” Luna commented. “It is very... clean.”

Sarah pulled her head slightly out of the fur to reply. “Yep, it was the first thing I asked Moira for when I got the house... she charged me fifty caps for them... and said it was at discount.”

“This place is truly strange,” Luna mused as she looked down at Sarah’s face, her muzzle not far from the woman’s. “It reminds me of what Equestria looked like when Discord ruled over it.”

“Discord... I can’t remember if you’ve mentioned that before,” Sarah mused, looking back at Luna.

“Nor can I-” Luna was cut off by a yawn. “Perhaps we can discuss this at some other time?”

“Yeah, I think we can manage that,” Sarah agreed before settling her head back down against the pillow and Luna’s neck. “Night Luna, sweet dreams.”

“And you as well,” Luna said softly as she settled her head back down beside Sarah and closed her eyes. “Trust me Sarah... yours will always be,” she added drowsily before trailing off to sleep.

Sarah and Luna were both awakened with a start the next morning by a high-pitched squealing. Sarah awakened with a start, and fell out of the bed, her arms flailing around in confusion.

“OH MY GOSH YOU’RE SO ADORABLE!” A high-pitched woman’s voice exclaimed. Luna, who was also awake at this point looked up to see a spunky light brown-almost reddish haired woman wearing a blue robco jumpsuit. She was hopping up and down in place, a wide smile on her face and stars in her eyes.

“Wha-who are yo-” Luna was stopped in mid sentence as the woman ran at her and pulled her into an almost bonecrushing hug.

“Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh!” the woman gushed as she hugged Luna. “You’re the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen and you can talk and-”

The woman was interrupted by Sarah using her leg as a ladder as she climbed to her feet.

"Moira it is-” she looked down at her Pip-Boy, “Six in the morning on the one day that I’m in a place that I don’t have to worry about being attacked or raped in my sleep-”

Though we’d never let that second one happen, Nightmare mentally stated.

Nor the first, Luna chimed in.

“-so would you please explain to me in very clear words what you’re doing in my house, in my bedroom?” Sarah finished, unaware of the twos’ comments.

Moira had the decency to blush lightly. “Well... I heard that you had an alicorn here and I’ve loved them ever since my daddy showed me them in the comics when I was little and... then I couldn’t hold off any longer so I came in and the robot said that you were up... so I came up here and you two were so cute looking and I...” she trailed off, her blush of embarrassment deepening “I should have waited shouldn’t I?”

“Yes. Yes you should have,” Sarah stated dully while she internally shouted WADSWORTH!

“I need air!” Luna gasped around Moira’s crushing grip.

The woman let go of Luna immediately, and took a few steps back.

“I um... sorry,” the woman said cautiously. “It’s just that you’re so... cute and beautiful.”

Luna looked at her in slight confusion. “You find me beautiful?”

Moira smiled widely. “Very! Even with your bed head your mane is simply amazing... though how did you get those stars in it?”

“What? Are they back?” Luna asked, her eyes a bit wide. She looked up to discover that her mane had indeed returned to its normal blue coloration... now though it had begun to become more translucent and small lights shone within it. A smile spread across the mare’s face as she looked at the stars.

Sarah also gazed into her mane and her eyes got lost in the stars for a moment before Moira jolted her out of it.

“So... did you ever get around to checking out the Super Duper Mart for me?” the woman asked her.

“What?” Sarah asked as her mind tried to remember what it was that Moira was talking about. Then comprehension dawned on her. “Oh, yeah I did,” she said as she remembered.

Moira whipped a pencil and a pen out from her back pocket. “Oh! Can you tell me about what you found out?!”

Sarah looked at the woman for a moment before deciding that she was too tired for Moira’s normal routine. “Moira... I promise you I will come and tell you everything once I’ve had time to wake up... go away.”

Moira’s expression died on her face, but she nodded. “Alright... I’ll see you later Sarah?”

“Yes, I need to pick up a few things from your shop anyways,” Sarah nodded.

“Great! See you both there then!” Moira said, her face brightening. “Bye Sarah, bye Alicorn!”

She then rushed out of the room, down the stairs, paused long enough to say goodbye to Wadsworth, and then rushed out of the house, a proverbial ball of energy. Luna looked over to Sarah with a raised eyebrow.

“Friend of yours?” Luna inquired.

“You could say that...” Sarah admitted.

“Ah. She seems... odd,” Luna stated.

“You could say that,” Sarah repeated herself as she began to pull on her armour, much to Luna’s internal disappointment.

We’re sure she’d be more than willing to take it off again if we asked her to, Nightmare whispered softly in her mind.

Shush... you’ll make me blush, Luna shot back, redness already beginning to color her cheeks.

“So... breakfast?” Sarah asked, looking up from her task to find the alicorn’s eyes fixated on nothing in particular.

“That sounds exceptional,” Luna replied with a nod. Sarah smiled and led the way.

Wandering Moon Chapter 19: Breakfast and Stories

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Wadsworth was waiting for them in the kitchen as they descended the stairs one of his arms circled around to deliver a plate of mirelurk meat into her hands. Sarah nodded her thanks and walked past the robot to the fridge to find something for Luna.

“You know madam, the town gossip mill will be in an uproar when they found out you have slept with a horse,” the robot observed.

Luna snorted in irritation at the machine, but pointedly ignored him.

Just you wait robot... one of these days we will serve you your rewards for these insults, Nightmare silently vowed. Instead of giving Luna a chance to actually say anything, Sarah spoke first as she grabbed a couple of mutfruit out of the fridge and held them up for Luna to see.

“Here, I’ve got a few of these mutfruit here, have you had one yet?” Sarah asked her. Luna frowned for a moment, trying to think if she had, then shook her head.

“No, no I have not,” she answered with a frown as she easily levitated all three of the strange almost purplish fruits over to hang before her face. The alicorn sniffed one of them for a moment, smelling something that smelled... almost but not quite like an apple.

I am not sure whether or not we should eat this, Nightmare quietly muttered. What even is a ‘mutfruit’?

Perhaps it is a fruit that has been bred with other fruit who are less pure? A ‘mutt’ if you will? Luna suggested speculatively.

Then with a mental shrug, she took a bite of the strange fruit. She chewed it speculatively for a moment and then swallowed it down with a gulp. Luna then, much to Sarah’s astonishment, chomped the fruit down whole, core and all along with the other two. Luna’s long tounge then darted out of her mouth and licked bits of mutfruit from her lips, along with juice, and gave Sarah a grin.

“Those are very tasty!” the alicorn exclaimed, still grinning.

“I take it you like them then,” Sarah deadpanned, though she gave the mare a happy smile, glad to have made her friend’s day.

“Indeed, they are delectable,” Luna replied. “Do you happen to have any more?” she added eagerly, eying the fridge with wide hopeful eyes, more resembling those of an over-eager puppy then of an alicorn princess.

Sarah took one look at Luna’s face, and began to laugh, holding her hand over her mouth to keep herself from braying with it. Luna frowned, not sure what was funny about her request.

“What is it?” Luna asked, her tone equal parts confused... and hurt. Luna had never enjoyed people laughing at her, especially if she had no idea why.

“I-I’m sorry, but your face,” Sarah stuttered out as she regained control of herself. “It was just so... cute.”

Luna froze for a moment, then her eyes widened a little and a slight blush colored her cheeks.

“Oh, I did not realize that it was,” she said, a bit of embarrassment in her voice. “I’m sorry.”

“No need to apologize Luna,” Sarah replied with a last chuckle. “And to answer your question, yes, yes I do have more,” she proclaimed as she reached into the fridge and to pull out another of them. Luna eyes lit up, and she snatched it from Sarah’s grasp with her magic and happily chomped her way through it.

When did we become so ravenous? Nightmare inquired.

Since we have not had a taste of fruit for several days, and before that on the campaign trail when we were only able to find the occasional blackberry bush to eat them from, Luna replied pointedly as she licked her lips once more.

“Thank you Sarah,” Luna said aloud with a smile as the woman began to walk up the stairs, a fork and her plate of white crab meat in her grasp.

“You’re welcome, Luna” Sarah replied with a slight chuckle. “It was worth the lost fruit to see that look on your face.”

Luna smiled at that and the two reentered Sarah’s room and the woman took a seat in her desk chair. Luna chose to sit on the bed, once more taking up almost its entirety with her bulk. Sarah began to eat her crab meat and she looked over the alicorn who sat on the bed across from her, or more specifically she looked at the star filled mane and tail.

“So... should I be worried about that?” Sarah asked, gesturing towards the stars in Luna’s mane.

“Hmm?” Luna inquired. “Oh no, not at all. It simply means that I have recovered fully from my exposure to the Elements of Harmony,” she assured the woman. “It also means that my body has better adjusted to this world’s magic field.”

“Alright...” Sarah said, slightly baffled by that explanation. Luna noticed and chuckled slightly.

“In simpler terms Sarah, it means that I can cast a bit more magic than I could before,” the mare explained.

“Oh,” the woman said, blushing slightly at how simple she sounded. “That makes sense... so do all of the ponies where you come from have that kind of hair?”

Luna shook her head. “No, no they do not. Only I and... my sister have it due to our alicorn nature,” she said.

“Alright... what does it mean?” Sarah asked.

“It has to do with our connection to the sun and the moon,” Luna answered with a small shrug. “Tia’s flows with a beautiful never ending astral breeze, and mine is merely dotted with the stars of the night.” Luna’s face took on a troubled expression. “Nopony ever complimented it... not once.”

“Really?” Sarah asked, clearly surprised. “Why not? It’s beautiful, I’ve never seen anything like it before,” she added with a smile.

Luna’s face lit up with a brilliant light. “Truly? You find it beautiful, not frightening or scary?”

“I’m surprised Luna. It’s magnificent, like looking into the night sky,” Sarah replied. “I can’t imagine why anyone would be afraid of it.”

The mare smiled softly, a small blush on her face. “Thank you Sarah...” Luna said in a quiet voice. “Would you like to hear more of my tale?”

Sarah frowned for a moment and then nodded. “Sure, you were with that dragon Jonathan right?”

“Indeed I was... he had just offered me tea...”

Luna stared up at the massive purple dragon, Jonathan, and then her eyes darted over to Celestia’s fallen form which was barely breathing. Jonathan caught her movement and nodded.

“Ah, allow me,” he said, quickly moving a talon to gently pick up Celestia and place her in one of his massive palms. Luna squeaked in fear for her sister, terrified that they’d become the dragon’s next victim.

“Pu-put her down!” Luna shouted up at the dragon. Jonathan tilted his head at her, a puzzled expression on his massive face.

“If I put her down here little one then she might die,” the dragon said, clearly perplexed. “Whyever would I want that?”

"But you’re a dragon!” Luna shouted. “All you do is eat and kill ponies!”

“Whoever told you that?” Jonathan asked her with a raised eyeridge. “Please child, come into my cave and I give you my dragon’s promise that no harm will occur to either yourself or your sister.”

“What if you try and eat us?” Luna asked in a scared voice.

Jonathan dipped his head down a bit closer to hers and two great plumes of smoke rolled out from the sides of his mouth and drifted up into the sky.

“Well then little one, I highly doubt you’d be able to escape me, regardless where you started,” he told her plainly, keeping his voice neutral.

“I-I-I just want my sister to be alright,” Luna said softly, large tears welling up in her eyes. “She-she-she’s been the only one looking after me since papa died and-and-and-” Luna broke down weeping before him and the dragon’s face suddenly blanched and he crouched down even lower until he was on eye-level with the little alicorn filly.

“Hush little one,” he cooed, his massive voice somehow coming out in a low whisper as he moved one of his greatsword sized claws to touch her head. Luna flinched away and Jonathan let out a troubled sigh as he retracted his hand away. “Young one I promise you, I mean yourself and your sister absolutely no harm, in fact I simply seek to shelter you and heal your wounds.”

Luna looked up at Jonathan’s large green eyes and shivered slightly, there was something purely instinctual to the respons... here she was, a miniscule filly staring up at the apex of predators... he could end her life with a single motion, one exhale of fire, one clash of his teeth, one chomp of his jaws.

“I-I-I don’t know,” Luna said softly.

Jonathan looked back at Celestia who was still held gently in his other hand and frowned down at Luna.

“Very well, when you make up your mind then come inside. I promise you, I will not harm nor hold either of you against your will, but your sister must be treated very soon or else she will die and that is something that I cannot abide,” he told her patiently before he turned and lumbered back inside of the cave.

Luna blinked away her tears in time to look up and see the dragon’s bulk retreat into the cave though she had no idea how so large of a creature could move so swiftly. The filly shivered again, it was growing awfully cold outside despite her fur and with night falling Luna had no wish to stay outside in the forest alone... she took a deep breath and got back to her hooves, slowly approaching the dark and foreboding entrance.

She toppled on the edge of indecision, should she go in or stay outside?

A trio of wolf howls split the air behind her, making up the filly’s in a matter of seconds, whereas the dragon at would at least speak with her before he killed her (most likely) the wolves would have no qualms about ripping her appart. With a squeal of fear, Luna ran into the cave.

It was a truly massive construction that appeared to have been carved out of the side of the earth by a pair of tremendous claws (most likely belonging to Jonathan) and the stone beneath her hooves had been polished smooth by the movement of scales. To her surprise, there were indents in the walls every fifty feet or so filled with glowing white magic light emitting from large gemstones.

Luna walked up to one, captivated by the light source, Tia had only told her stories about such things which were fabled to be found in the Unicornia Capital in the halls of the wise city elders... after her experiences lately, Luna had begun to think that the light crystals like the ‘wise’ elders were a myth as well. She stared up at the beautiful lightsource for another minute before shaking her head rapidly, her sister could be being eaten and here she was staring at a light!

The filly started running down the corridor, or she would have if she wasn’t still exhausted from her flight through the forest earlier. Instead she simply trudged along the incredibly long corridor. There were occasional branching pathways, but Luna didn’t check them, instead she simply followed the sound of Jonathan’s footsteps.

After ten minutes of walking, the young alicorn found herself in a relatively small room. The ceiling was made of clear crystal and there was a large pool of water in the center of the floor. Jonathan stood beside the pool, which from Luna’s point of view was more like a small pond. Celestia’s still form lay in the water on her back in front of the dragon who was staring down at the mare with a look of deep concentration on his face.

“What are you doing to her?!” Luna shouted in fear. “Are you trying to dro-”

Instead of reply, Jonathan simply raised a single claw at her and Luna’s mouth clamped shut. It wasn’t magic, it was simply the strength that the gesture had behind it. Then the dragon took in a large inhale before letting out a small stream of blue fire directly down on top of Celestia. Luna let out a loud piercing shriek at the sight of her sister being cooked alive by the dragon’s fire.

She stared at the sight, her throat roaring with agony, unable to look away from the terrifying image in front of her. However, as Jonathan shut his jaws and the fire receded the light blue alicorn saw that her sister was... unharmed, in fact, she looked better than she had before.

Luna ran forwards, this time her adrenaline giving her the strength for a full sprint. She entered the water-

And promptly let out a cry of surprise at the freezing temperature of it. It was like she’d fallen into a frozen lake. Meanwhile, Jonathan had scooped Celestia’s damp body out of the water and deposited her gently on the shore beside him.

“I would get out of that water,” the dragon called to the filly. “It’s quite chilly.”

Luna took his advice, hauling herself out of the freezing water as Jonathan blew a small yellow jet of fire into a large pit not far from the side of the pool and a warm sensation seeped into the room, banishing back the cold. That didn’t help Luna however, she was too far away from the fire and her fur was soaking wet. She lay on the cold stone floor shivering in exhausted defeat.

Then, before she realized it she was being picked up and carried in Jonathan’s enormous claws.The filly let out a squeal of abject fear as the scaly claws closed around her and carried her aloft. Thankfully, the sensation was very short lived and she found herself beside the drying fur of her elder sister in a matter of seconds. Luna reacted immediately and began to nuzzle her sister’s side worriedly.

“She will be fine little one,” Jonathan stated, turning his large green eyes on her. “I have bathed her in healing fire and my spring here kept her from being harmed by the inherent heat. Nestle by the fire while I retrieve my teapot and see if I can’t find something for the two of you too eat that isn’t hard as a rock or full of blood.”

Luna let out a little whimper, still not entirely comfortable with the large dragon’s nearness. Jonathan let out a quiet sigh and trudged off while Luna nuzzled her sister.

“Tia, Tia can you hear me?” she whispered quietly in the white alicorn’s ear. “Please Tia, wake up!”

Celestia’s eyes flickered open and she caught sight of her clearly distressed sister. “Luna? Are... are we dead?” she asked quietly, her voice hoarse and scratchy.

“N-no,” Luna said, shaking her head.

“Oh... good... otherwise Elysium would look a lot less impressive then I’d thought it would be,” Celestia replied, a dry chuckle emerging from her mouth.

Luna stared at her sister for a moment before she threw her forelegs around Celestia’s chest and hugged her tightly.

“I-I-I thought you were dead!” Luna exclaimed, tears welling up in her eyes again. “And then the dragon breathed fire on you and-I-I-”

Luna was cut off as she buried her face in her sister’s soft, still slightly damp chest. Celestia pulled her sister closer to her and began to sing softly.

“There little bird, in the orange sky...” Celestia sang until the lullaby was done and Luna had finished weeping, her voice worn beyond belief but the sight of her sister beginning to nod off beside her was well worth the pain in her throat.

It was only then that Celestia noticed the large dragon staring at her with gentle, appreciative eyes.

“That’s quite the singing voice you have for yourself young one,” the dragon told her with a smile which he somehow managed to make unthreatening.

“Thank you,” Celestia replied, her voice cracking in the process. She knew there was no point in being afraid of the dragon... if he’d wanted to he could have killed her in seconds and the fact that he hadn’t yet clearly stated his intent.

“Oh, don’t speak,” the dragon said, waving away her thanks. “Or rather, don’t speak until you have regained your voice. Singing after what you have been through must have been a great deal hard enough, no reason to strain yourself further for my benefit.”

Celestia nodded mutely as the dragon came closer and set down a large tea kettle, at least large enough for him to grasp without it being wholly awkward, in front of her. The sound of water sloshing back and forth within it reached Celestia’s ears and Jonathan unexpectedly blew a small stream of fire down on it, causing Celestia to wince away in fear. Thankfully, the wince was unneeded as the fire simply bathed the tea kettle for a moment before it let out a piercing whistle.

Luna stirred slightly in her sleep, letting out a soft sigh, but otherwise remained asleep as the dragon took up the kettle in his claws and poured it into a bowl sized cup which he’d produced while Celestia had been preoccupied worrying about the fire. He added a pair of teabags to it and made some final adjustments before he pushed it over to her.

“There little one, it should help with your throat,” he instructed kindly.

Celestia nodded slightly and took a long sip, finding it to be a delicious chamomile blend. The white alicorn looked up at the dragon and gave him a nod of thanks to which he responded with a simple draconic smile. Celestia drained the bowl, surprising even herself with her thirst, and then looked up at the dragon once more.

“Thank you sir,” she said politely.

“You’re very welcome, my name is Jonathan by the way,” Jonathan replied, giving her another smile. “You are very lucky that you ended up outside of my cave and not one of the other dragons’ you know. They would most likely have eaten you or left yourself and your sister there in the hooves of those dastardly unicorns,” he added.

“I... thank you then,” Celestia said, not quite sure of how to respond to that.

“Think nothing of it, I am simply cautioning you for the future,” the dragon said with a slight shrug. “Now, that brings us to the more pressing subject, that of your future.”

Celestia frowned, but nodded slowly. “What do you mean sir?”

“Please call me Jonathan, though I do appreciate the politeness,” Jonathan corrected her. “As for what I mean... you have both clearly done something to earn the ire of the entire unicorn council and they will most likely seek you out wherever you go and as mere fillies I doubt you will be able to fight them yourselves, no?”

“I... I suppose that is correct,” Celestia stated slowly. “But what are we to do about it?

“Well, you could always stay here and live with me until you’re older,” Jonathan suggested idly. Sure enough, Celestia’s jaw dropped.

“But-but- but you’re a dragon! Why would you allow two fillies to stay with you?” she asked him, astounded by the idea.

“I’m lonely and bored,” he replied with a slight shrug. “My mate, is still in hibernation and appears to be happy that way for the next two centuries, and I have had no company to speak with of for the last one. Do you know how boring it is to have nothing besides your hoarde to enteritain you?” Jonathan’s voice took on a tone of utter boredom and Celestia had the queerest image of him sitting alone on a stack of gold endlessly counting it.

“I... suppose I can see how that would have its downside,” Celestia said slowly.

“Indeed... anyways, I have a room or two already set up for this type of thing, in case I’m ever forced to host some whiny young drake, so that should be no trouble,” the dragon explained. “And this way you can both stay protected from the blasted councilors.”

“Is there anything that we would be forced to do in return?” the white alicorn asked.

“Keep me company,” Jonathan replied with a quiet chuckle.

“I think we’ll be able to manage that,” Celestia said, nodding her head.

“Oh excellent!” Jonathan exclaimed with a grin. “I was worried that you’d say no! I’ll go and make up your guest rooms immediately!” With that, the large dragon all but skipped out of the room before Celestia had a moment to react.

“Well... it beats the forest,” Celestia murmured before she bent down to nuzzle the sleeping form of her sister.

“Wait, if you were asleep how do you...” Sarah trailed off, her empty plate of crab meat resting on the desk beside her.

“Tia told me,” Luna said with a small shake of her head. “I... wish I could go back to that time...”

Sarah nodded and got up, giving Luna a pat on the neck. “Yeah, I understand,” the woman said with a nostalgic smile of her own. “But we should probably get moving, I’m sure that Moira’s store is open by now and we’ll need to stop there before we get under way again.”

“Alright,” Luna said, rising to her hooves and following the woman. “This promises to be an interesting day.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 20: Ursa

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Four years after the events of the last Celestia chapter

Clover the Clever, old though she was, was far from the type of mare to sit idly by while something threatened her friends. Her bones may have been brittle, her mane may have lost any pretense of being purple and her eyes may not have been what they used to be, but that didn’t stop her from being a damn good Archmage. It probably made her better in all honesty; there were very few ponies who had the testicular fortitude to argue with a crotchety old mare who could rearrange their body and mind like a pretzel with only a flash of her horn.

At the moment, she was currently freezing her well aged flank off as she walked down the streets of Manehatten. Around her neck was a fluffy grey scarf and across her back was a grey cloak. Both of which were heavily enchanted to guarantee that the wearer remained toasty despite wind, rain, or even snow. Unfortunately, no matter how many heating enchantments she’d put into her current clothing choices it didn’t seem to matter. Her bones ached and every ten minutes or so she’d find herself having to suppress a cough.

Watching from beside her with concerned eyes was her apprentice and next choice for the position of Archmage, coincidentally enough, it also happened to be her daughter. Shimmer Star was a tall mare with a powerful build she’d picked up from her father and the purple coloration from her mother. Her mane was also purple, but the characteristic off colored stripe was blonde instead of pink.

“Honestly mother, what in Equestria could be so important that you have to risk dying of hypothermia?” Shimmer asked Clover with a concerned look as they waited for the cart traffic to slow so that they could cross the dirt strewn road.

“Bah, the Grey Mare’s not upon me yet daughter,” Clover replied with a shake of her head. “The mule can wait until this is done, at the very least.”

Shimmer rolled her eyes. “Does Queen Celestia even know that you’re gone?”

“No, I didn’t bother telling her,” the old mare said. “She would’ve forced me not to come because I’m too ‘old’. Bah she’s over a thousand and I don’t see anyone telling her that she can’t do whatever she likes,” Clover said with a snort before she began to walk across the street, her daughter following close beside her. Shimmer let out a sigh.

“Mother, she’s an alicorn, you’re not,” she stated.

“As if I need a reminder,” Clover grumbled.

“Then you really should go back to Canterlot, I’ll even give you a teleportation jump starter so you don’t have to tire yourself out too much,” Shimmer insisted. “It’s a better option then you catching your death of cold.”

“Not on your life,” the old unicorn said with a shake of her head. “This is too important to trust to anyone else, even you.”

Shimmer let out an exasperated sigh. “Then at the very least you could tell me what it is we’re doing so that I can begin getting my spells ready,” she said.

“Fine,” Clover replied. “We’re here to deal with a cult of Xanthos’s followers who have decided to try and summon help from the Star Beasts.”

WHAT?!” Shimmer shouted, startling several nearby ponies who turned to stare at them. Clover rolled her eyes and cast a quieting spell on them and Shimmer had the decency to blush.

“Want to try again daughter?” Clover asked, raising her an eyebrow at her.

“Sorry... but the Star Beasts? Are they really that imbecilic?” Shimmer asked, shaking her head. “The Star Beasts are impossibly powerful, there’s a reason why Luna didn’t use them in the war! If they got out they could wreck the country... and these idiots are summoning them in the center of Manehatten?”

“Precisely why we’re taking them down,” Clover stated simply.

“Numbers?” Shimmer inquired.




“Of course, it’s one of ‘your’ missions,” Shimmer said with a small groan. “So, it’s going to be you and me against an army of cultists and possibly a Star Beast who they’ve coerced into working for them?”

“That’s about the long and short of it, yes,” Clover replied.

Mother,” Shimmer groaned. “Do you always have to set this sort of thing up for us?”

“I’m just preparing you for the day when you have to take my place,” Clover replied. “Besides, we don’t have much time to get where we need to go so there’s no point in calling the guard.”

“I understand mother... but do we have to rush me into my post while rushing you into the grave?” Shimmer asked her, casting a worried glance at her mother.

Clover let out a slight sigh and shook her old head. “I’m one hundred and forty five now Shimmy, I think that I’m about as close to the grave as a pony can get right now... in all honesty dear, I’d like to do the most I possibly can before I meet the old grey mare and take that final walk,” the old mare sagged a bit as she said that, her body losing a bit of its strength.

Shimmer was silent for a moment before she leaned over and gave her mother a reassuring nuzzle

“Come on, let’s go take down these Xanthos-loving freaks,” Shimmer said, her voice full of feigned enthusiasm.

Clover gave her daughter a grateful smile and nodded, straightening again. “Well then, let’s get going already!” the old mare said, increasing her pace so that even Shimmer was having a bit of trouble keeping up with her.

“Where are we going anyways?” Shimmer asked as she adjusted to Clover’s pace.

“I’m not entirely sure,” Clover replied.

“What?” Shimmer asked, aghast at the answer... though to be honest not entirely surprised.

Clover looked at Shimmer with a flat expression. “Honestly daughter, attune your horn! Can you not feel the pulsing of great magics in your mind?” the elder unicorn asked. “If you really wish to follow in my hoofsteps then you must master these things; you are close to sixty now, you should know better!”

Shimmer frowned and focused on her horn as her mother led her through a hapdash group of back alleys. Then she felt it and once more felt like a foal before her mother’s wisdom and power. It was faint... but with focus Shimmer could definitely feel the telltale signs of ‘greater magics’ rushing through the air. It was as if someone was pushing more and more water inside of a waterskin which was full to bursting.

“Oh my,” she said softly. “I’d almost thought you were joking when you mentioned the Star Beasts, mother... but this? This is very bad. It feels like they’ve built up enough power to summon the Ursa Major!”

“That’s because they have, dear,” Summer said as she came to a stop in front of what looked like an abandon warehouse.

“Why do these kinds of things always have to happen in warehouses?” Clover complained, her eyes growing a bit purple as she carefully scanned the doorway for traps or alarm wards.

She found several, and defused the amature works the second she did. Shimmer assisted her and in no time they’d disabled every magical trap and put each alarm on a repetitive loop.

Their work done, the Archmage and her Apprentice entered into the warehouse.

The interior of the warehouse was dimly lit with only a few torches scattered across the walls. The floor had been completely cleared away and in the center was a swirling mass of magic barely contained by a large silver circle which had been engraved in the solid stone floor. The Archmage and her Apprentice were only able to see it because of their magic sight... without that, the view was obscured by dozens of thestrals, griffins, and even a minotaur or two.

The Archmage narrowed her eyes as an enormous wave of magical energy washed over her, it was the ambient magic of several dozen unicorns... though none of them were actively performing any kind of spellwork. Instead... the magic was just floating freely through the air... uncontrolled... yet focused.

Oh dear, I believe we are too late to stop the summoning, the Archmage telepathically stated within the Apprentice’s head.

I fear you are right, the Apprentice replied.

Well then... let us announce ourselves, the Archmage stated.

BY ORDER OF THE QUEEN YOU ARE TO STAND DOWN AND SURRENDER YOURSELVES TO THE FORCES OF JUSTICE!” the Archmage roared in a voice that would have impressed even Luna. The Archmage’s horn then flared to life and the entire room was suddenly filled with blinding light.

The Archmage and her Apprentice were thankfully immune to the spell’s blinding effects and used the moment to fully take in the room now that there was proper light. There was indeed a large silver circle in the middle of the room and there was a swirling mass of magic taking up the center of that circle, however what had been previously hidden was the most shocking thing about the operation. Around the circle was another circle, this one made up of the bodies of unconscious.... or dead, unicorns.

The Apprentice sucked in a surprised breath, her eyes widening in shock. Even the Archmage was momentarily stunned. However, the rest of the room had by that point recovered from their blindness.

“So, the Tyrant sends the Archmage herself against us?! Ha! A glorious sacrifice of magic to prove to our new allies of the righteousness of our cause!” a voice called out through the warehouse. The Archmage’s eyebrows narrowed at the sound and she cast her eyes in the direction of the familiar voice. Within seconds, she found the speaker, the tall, dark form of Xanthos stood out easily in the lighting spell.

“You will have no sacrifice out of me Xanthos!” the Archmage shouted back.

“I shall have whatever my lady of the night wishes, and now, she seeks your magic!” Xanthos answered her shout with one of his own. “But first to capture you. Warriors of the Night, capture them!” he shouted before he turned his back on the Archmage and began to chant in a deep voice.

Every set of eyes in the room focused on the Archmage and the Apprentice and for a moment there was absolute silence.

I really hate you somtimes, the Apprentice stated.

Time and a place, the Archmage replied pointedly.

Then the horde charged.

And were immediately repulsed.

Bodies hurtled through the air as the Apprentice sent out a powerful sweeping wave of magic at the charging forces. Then the Archmage struck. A line of purple fire swathed out from her horn, immolating all whom it struck. As the victims of the first set of spells died or rubbed bruises, the second wave attacked.

A thestral darted out of the sky at the Apprentice, but was batted down into the floor of the warehouse with a blast of force and the shrieking grind of broken bones. Another of the leathery ponies flew in from behind the Archmage and attempted to slash her with a set of wingblades. Unfortunately for him, the Archmage ducked beneath him and he flew over her, right into a spear of fire.

They may have died, but they did not die in vain. The thestrals’ sacrifice had distracted the two unicorns long enough to allow the others to close with them. The Archmage barely managed to get a barrier up in time to block a swing from a large minotaur wielding a giant hammer who had broken ahead of his colleagues.

The mare’s eyes flashed angrily, and the minotaur suddenly found that he was floating towards the ceiling at a breakneck pace, as were ten or so of his fellow attackers. They slammed into the ceiling which shuddered with the impacts before being sent mercilessly back down, their skulls cracking on the stone floor or worse, on the skulls of the other horde members.

Meanwhile, the Apprentice stood within a ring of opponents, a blue barrier surrounding herself and cutting them off. Then it unexpectedly broke, and an ear-shattering explosion filled the air as those closest to the edge were blasted back and into their fellows. A pair of thestrals divebombed her, crossbows in their mouths. Without looking, the Apprentice grabbed the bolts out of the air, and sent them flying back at their casters. There were two streaks of blood, and the pair of thestrals dropped to the floor, bolts sticking out of their necks.

Go, get Xanthos, I’ll hold them, the Apprentice told her master as the elder mare scythed through another group of minions with her fire.

Good, thank you, the Archmage replied before she blinked past those running at her.

She arrived just behind Xanthos who was still chanting darkly in an ominous tone.

“It’s over Xanthos!” the Archmage shouted at him as she launched a cone of fire at the back of his head.

Xanthos didn’t turn, nor did he stop speaking. The fire washed over him, as if he was a rock instead of a centaur. Then he finished his chanting and there was a massive CLAP of explosive force.

The Archmage was thrown backwards by the explosion, just barely managing to raise a barrier in time to keep herself from being broken against the bloody stone floor. That however, did not stop her from hitting the floor with enough force to smack the breath out of her old body. In the background, the Apprentice was too busy fighting her remaining opponents to spare her any mind.

As the Archmage struggled back to her hooves she found herself facing down a truly massive creature. It towered high overhead, it’s head touching the ceiling and it glared down at the Archmage with baleful red eyes full of hate. Its body was made up of a trillion billion stars held together by a glowing blue outline and the outline of fur stuck up here and there in angry formations. In the back of her mind, the Archmage noted that she must have missed the building stretching enchantment when she and the Apprentice had been sweeping through the defences.

The Ursa Major roared and the Archmage whinnied as the the vibrations cracked her eardrums and she felt blood beginning to leak down the side of her head.

Xanthos stood in front of the creature, pointed at the Archmage, and then calmly trotted off towards the rear exit though he did take the time to shoot a smug look in the Archmage’s direction. The Ursa Major leered down at her and opened its mouth to reveal large fangs, its breath washed over the Archmage and she felt the deathly chill of space run over her body. The Ursa Major licked its lips as it eyed her, like a cat watching a mouse.

The Archmage’s eyebrows creased, and her horn flared, a healing spell to repair and protect her ear drums from shattering. That done, she sat her jaw in determination.

“You think I’m afraid of you?” the Archmage asked it simply. “You think I’m afraid of a giant blow up teddy bear who can glow in the dark?”

The Ursa Major took offense to that.

It bellowed with anger yet again, and reared upwards on its hind legs, the building somehow managing to stretch with it. Then it brought itself down upon her, its sheer momentum and weight causing it to strike with the force of a pile of TNT. However, it did not receive the result it was expecting for instead of crushing the pony who had insulted it, the Ura Major’s paws were being held up by a purple barrier several feet above the old mare.

“You think I’m afraid of you?” the Archmage asked again. “I have faced down Discord himself!” The Ursa Major suddenly found that it was being pushed back, it’s paws slowly being shoved back into the air.

“I have done battle with Nightmare Moon!” The Ursa struggled to force its way back down, but found it could not, it was like trying to push back the tides of the ocean.

“I am the Archmage of Equestria!” she roared, her eyes blazing with incandescent purple light. With that, the Ursa Major was shoved roughly backwards, landing on its back with a loud BOOM!

The Archmage, now fully covered in her purple magical aura, sent a column of fire worthy of making the sun blush in embarrassment straight at the Ursa Major’s crotch. The Ursa Major howled in horrific pain and the Archmage’s flames retreated for a time only to be replaced by a hundred lightning bolts which rained down on the bear, pelting it with the power of the heavens themselves.

The Ursa Major however was far from out of the fight. With a roar of anger it rolled to the side and then regained its footing. It ignored the lightning that the Archmage threw at it, and instead brought a paw slashing out at her. The claw connected and sent the old pony spiraling away to the ground several dozen feet away where she slammed into the wall with a crash.

The Archmage groaned as her vision swam. Glaring at her was an eye large enough for her to swim in, full of baleful anger and horrible rage. The Archmage launched a string of bloody spittle into that eye.

The Ursa Major reared away from her and brought its paw down at her blindly. The Archmage blinked out of the way and reappeared in front of the colossal space bear, eyes blazing with magic.

ENOUGH OF THIS!” the Archmage screamed with enough force to send the Ursa Major stumbling backwards. “I AM CLOVER THE CLEVER AND YOU WILL KNOW MY NAME!

The Ursa Major was picked up entirely in the mare’s powerful grip and it was as if it had been entombed in solid steel as it was lowered down to eye level with the unicorn. The Archmage held him there for a full half minute before she finally spoke, her voice surprisingly soft.

“You are going to go back to your brothers and sisters in the sky and you are going to tell them exactly what happened here,” the Archmage stated in a whisper. “And then, you are all going to stay the hell out of my country and its affairs or so help me I swear that I will tear your stars out of your hide and devour them myself.”

The Ursa Major dissolved into separate stars and then vanished, leaving the mare with nothing in her grip. Clover smiled, and then sank to her knees.

“MOTHER!” Shimmer shouted as she rushed up to the old mare.

Clover stiffly turned her head in her daughter’s direction, then in a slow and deliberate voice she said. “Tell Luna... that I’m sorry... and tell Celestia that she owes me.”

Life left the old mare’s body and she slumped limply into the horrified hooves of her daughter.

Wandering Moon Chapter 21: Travel Time

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“That was most strange,” Luna stated as they put more distance between themselves and the city of Megaton.

“That’s Moira for you,” Sarah said with a shake of her head. “I haven’t known her long, but she seems to only have three moods. Hyper, crazy, and hyper crazy.”

Luna nodded slowly as she thought back to the way the brown haired woman had gone on for nigh on an hour about her beauty and perfection, all the while simultaneously speaking with Sarah about something called the ‘Wasteland Survival Guide’.

After an hour though, Luna’s patience had begun to grow thin. She didn’t know why, and she couldn’t explain it, but even though the woman was complimenting her... Luna felt uncomfortable. Was it the fact that she’d felt like she was more of a... toy to the woman? No... toy wasn’t quite the right word. Stuffed animal perhaps? No. Oddity. Yes, that was the word, to Moira she was a beautiful oddity.

Or maybe we are simply so smitten with Sarah that her words sounded hollow in our ears, Nightmare commented, only causing Luna to snort.

Have you truly become so one-note that that is all that you speak of? Luna asked her with the mental equivalent of a raised eyebrow.

We are not ‘one-note’, Nightmare replied angrily. There is simply not much for us to speak about. Perhaps you would enjoy hearing once more about how we wish we could conquer our sister? Or maybe about the glories of Eternal Night? she let out an exasperated ‘breath’. We have nothing better to do until we have returned to our full power so that we may merge ourselves once more.

Luna thought about that for a moment before she frowned. I... suppose I had not thought of that. Is there anything that you’d like to talk about?

At the moment; no... we are at a loss, Nightmare replied sourly. We have been making do mocking your attempts to woo Sarah and I suppose we shall continue until something more interesting appears.

Luna remained silent as she walked beside Sarah who was giving her a sideways look.The perceptive woman had seen her facial expressions as she spoke with Nightmare and had concluded that she was once again speaking to herself.

“So... the other you... the one that can go into my dreams... what’s up with that?” Sarah asked slowly.

“Hmm?” Luna asked. “Oh... you meant Nightmare.”

“You call the other you ‘Nightmare’?” Sarah asked her, a look of surprise on her face as they passed a riverboat wharf where an old woman was sitting on a rocking chair.

“No... I do not,” Luna said, shaking her head. “That is Tia’s name for her... and it stuck.”

“Okay...” Sarah said, frowning. “I guess that kind of makes sense... but not really.”

Luna looked over at the woman. “It is not something that one can understand simply; perhaps I could answer the question about dreams first?”

“Alright,” Sarah replied as her eyes began to scan the buildings around them, on the look out for Talon Company mercs, raiders or worse. “What’s up with that?”

"Tis one of the branches of magic that I developed during my younger years,” Luna answered. “Anyone with enough knowledge may practice it, though much to my disappointment few ever chose to.”

“Really? Why not; who wouldn’t want the ability to travel into other people’s dreams?” Sarah asked her with a raised eyebrow.

“Those who do not trust me or those who would rather distance themselves from the glory of the Night,” Luna stated. “I was laughed out of the last magic conference when I attempted to explain it... though that may have simply been because the unicorns did not like the idea of there being a type of magic executable by anypony and they did not wish the idea to spread.”

“That’s bullshit,” Sarah said with a scowl.

“Yes, yes it is,” Luna agreed with a fierce smile. “I did not once help any of them as they suffered from their nightly terrors.”

“Serves them right,” the woman said with a nod of her head. “So... how does it work?”

Luna’s face brightened at the question. “Well, firstly you must have the proper frame of mind. The realm of dreams is not one for the faint of heart and you must be ready to face the worst things that ponies could be thinking...” she trailed off, a look of great pain clouding her face before she shook her head. “Anyways, then you must concentrate and eventually you will find yourself ‘floating’ in the dream realm where anything is possible. Once there, find the closest Dream Nexus and use it to travel to whichever dream you desire.”

Luna paused to look over at Sarah who was looking at her blankly. “What?” she asked, utterly baffled by the words coming out of the alicorn’s mouth.

Imbecile, Nightmare grouched. Give her the idiot’s version. Luna let out an internal snort of anger at the Nightmare, but did as she suggested.

“Once you’re asleep if you concentrate hard enough a group of roads will appear,” Luna explained. “Those roads lead to dreams and from there you may enter them.”

“Oh, that... still doesn’t make much sense,” Sarah said slowly. “I mean... what do you mean concentrate hard enough? Who can concentrate when they’re asleep?”

Why are we wasting our precious breath explaining something this simple? Nightmare questioned Luna who ignored her once more.

“It is a skill,” Luna answered Sarah. “I have heard it called lucid dreaming; though that is a gross simplification of the actual process and the term does not exactly match up.”

“Lucid dreaming?” Sarah inquired prompting Luna to frown at her.

“Yes, lucid dreaming, when one has complete control over their dreams,” she stated. “Sarah... I wonder about you sometimes.”

Sarah shrugged. “It’s not like I ever needed to learn about this stuff,” she said with a frown as her hunting rifle moved back and forth in her hands. “I’m not stupid Luna... I just never really cared a lot about the things Mister Brotch tried to to teach me,” she told the mare. “I mean, once I’d gotten through the G.O.A.T. all I really had to worry about was the stuff that had to do with being a security officer so I ignored the rest.”

“I... did not mean to imply that you were stupid, Sarah,” Luna said carefully.

Although she is, Nightmare added snidely.

Quiet! Luna shot back.

“Really? Because first it was about my not knowing math well, and now it’s about me not knowing what a ‘lucid dream’ is,” Sarah replied, giving Luna an annoyed glance.

I told you she would hate us, and betray us, Nightmare muttered quietly in the back of Luna’s mind.

“I never said you were stupid!” Luna protested.

“Yes you did!” Sarah insisted. “I mean, you may not have actually said it, but I know you were thinking it!”

Luna hung her head. “I... you are right,” she muttered.

“Knew it,” Sarah said, shaking her head. “Thanks a lot Luna, at least you’re honest,” she added sarcastically.

And now she mocks us! Nightmare exclaimed, outraged.

“Forgive me?” Luna asked her hesitantly. Sarah frowned at her, but then shook her head.

“Yeah, sure,” the woman said, brushing her black hair out of her eyes. “Just... please don’t call me stupid.”

What? Nightmare asked in surprise. It was that easy to turn her loyalty back to us?

“I promise I will not call you stupid,” Luna told her, leaning over to give Sarah a slight nuzzle on the cheek.

The woman raised an eyebrow at that but nodded. “Thanks,” she said. “I’ve been called stupid a lot before and it always gets on my nerves...”

“I’m sure...” Luna trailed off for a moment. “Is there any way that I may make it up to you?””

“Keep being a good pillow,” Sarah answered with a small chuckle. “You're the softest thing I’ve ever slept on, even in the Vault.”

Luna let out a barking laugh. “Ha! That is the first time I’ve ever heard that,” she said with a smile. “Surely though, there must be something more I can do.”


“This is degrading,” Luna muttered angrily.

WE ARE GOING TO @#@#@#@ her and @#$@#@#$#! Nightmare shouted at the top of her ‘lungs’, her rage rendering almost all her words unintelligible.

“You did ask how you could make it up to me,” Sarah replied from her place on Luna’s back. “Now giddy-up!” she shouted, tapping Luna lightly in the sides with her feet.

Luna turned back to look at the smiling woman with her large blue eyes. “Do not push it,” she stated flatly before a thought occurred to her.

Have my wings recovered enough for this? she asked the Nightmare.

AND THEN WE WILL-what? Nightmare asked, startled out of her rant by Luna’s questioning thought.

Are my wings recovered? Luna asked her again.

We... believe so, Nightmare stated slowly. A slow, evil smile spread across Luna’s face as she looked at Sarah whose eyes widened.

“Luna... why do I not like the way you’re looking at me?” the woman asked carefully.

“You did say that you wanted to ride upon me, did you not?” Luna asked her with a raised eyebrow, evil smirk still in place.

“Umm... yes,” Sarah said, patting Luna’s side uncertainly.

“Well, I suppose it’s time for the ride to start!” Luna exclaimed. “Hold on tightly, I would prefer you not fall.”

“Wha-” Sarah began but was cut off as Luna began to sprint forward, forcing her to grab onto the mare’s neck or risk being thrown off.

Luna’s great blue wings expanded like twin sails of feathers and began to beat powerfully. With each beat, they began to rise a bit off of the ground and Sarah’s eyes widened as Luna fully left the ground. It took the midnight blue alicorn several more large flaps, before she was fully airborne, but once she was she rose rapidly above the buildings and cracked concrete.

Sarah, who had pressed her face into Luna’s neck in fear, slowly pulled herself away as she took the opportunity to look around. She immediately regretted said decision... the world beneath her spun and she let out a shriek of fear before burying her head once more in Luna’s soft fur.

She is truly a foal, Nightmare stated with a scoff.

In her defense, I do not believe that she has ever flown before, Luna replied before taking a look back at Sarah.

“Sarah, you are perfectly safe, I will not allow you to fall,” Luna told her as her powerful wings continued to pump. “I promise.”

“I-we-we’re flying,” Sarah gasped out.

“Yes, I do believe we are,” Luna agreed nonchalantly. “Or more specifically, I am flying and you are merely here for the ride,” she said, chuckling a little.

Sarah took a deep breath and once more pulled herself out of Luna’s starry mane which had begun to flow over her face in the wind. She took another deep breath and looked down at the city below them, what she saw took her breath away.

From the air, the destroyed city had a strangely... beautiful look. It was like looking at a tragic, living painting. The crumbling buildings and cracked, blood-stained concrete, even the raiders who she saw poking around in the ruins like ants over a corpse, added to the imagery. To their left the lightly glowing river ran under a bridge, and on the horizon Sarah saw a massive pentagonal building.

“This... this is amazing,” Sarah breathed.

“Indeed it is,” Luna said with a soft chuckle. “Welcome to the world of the air.”

Sarah glanced down at her Pip-boy and to her surprise found that they were indeed heading in the right direction. After a few moments of looking around, she leaned her face into Luna’s soft neck once more.

“Thank you Luna,” she whispered, though how Luna managed to hear her over the wind, the woman knew not.

“You’re welcome Sarah,” Luna said with a small smile on her face. “I do believe that we should travel like this all the time. Less chance of being ambushed, no?”

“Yeah...” Sarah murmured.

Meanwhile, Sarah Lyons was standing atop the walls of the Citadel leaning on the rail with a small frown on her face. She’d heard on the radio that Sarah and Luna had helped him with his broadcasting array and had since then returned to Megaton. The blonde woman shook her head, she could still hardly believe the pair, or more particularly, she could hardly believe that Luna existed. Yet she did and they’d both helped immensely against the mutants.

“Next time I see them... I’ll have to see about giving them a real reward,” Lyons mused to herself as her eyes scanned the horizon.

Then, her jaw dropped.

Flying on the horizon was a familiar blue alicorn with a black haired woman riding on her back.

Knight Captain Dusk walked up beside her.

“Sarah, you know we’ve got a patrol soon,” the asian woman informed her.

Sarah continued to stare at the horizon and numbly pointed a finger. Dusk’s eyes followed the finger and then her eyes widened too.

“Well... that’s something you don’t see every day.”

The flight continued for close to half an hour, by the end of which Luna looked thoroughly winded while Sarah was shivering violently. Luna daintily set them down on the road close to the enourmous metal form of Rivet City before Sarah all but collapsed off of her back. The woman let out a groan as she rubbed her inner thighs, her face a mask of pain.

“Owww,” she moaned. “I didn’t think it would hurt this much.”

Her inner thighs felt like they were on fire as a deep aching burn welled up from within them, her rubbing barely helped.

“Are you okay?” Luna asked her in concern.

“No... not really,” Sarah said slowly. “I... think I’ll need a minute to recover.”

She needs a moment to recover? We were the ones who carried her for half an hour! Nightmare exclaimed angrily.

Hush, it was not that bad, Luna replied, shaking out her mane and using her magic to pull a small comb she’d picked up at Moira’s out of her bags and running it through her mane and down her fur. We have traveled far longer with far greater weight.

Bah, we still cannot believe that you made us suffer the indignity of allowing her to ride us, Nightmare snorted. Nor that you are suggesting that it will become our normal way of travel...

Would you rather we be shot by every roving ruffian in the Wasteland? Luna asked her.

We... no.

Luna craned her neck down to look at Sarah. “Have you recovered enough to walk Sarah?” she asked her.

"Yeah... I think,” Sarah said as she struggled to her feet and then fell into Luna’s black armoured side. “Oww,” she muttered, pushing herself off of Luna again and beginning to walk bowlegged up towards the City.

Luna followed along beside her, an amused smile on her face as Sarah hobbled along.

“So, was the flight worth the pain?” Luna asked her curiously.

Sarah was silent for a moment before answering. “Yeah, yeah it was,” she said softly. “Thanks Luna.”

“You’re very welcome, it was my pleasure,” Luna replied, giving the woman a friendly nuzzle which almost knocked her off of her feet. “Sorry.”

Sarah shook her head. “No problem,” she said as her eyes looked over the colossal form of Rivet City. “My God... it’s bloody huge!”

“It was once a sailing ship... correct?” Luna asked her, the mare had had plenty of time to observe the City from the air and was truly impressed with its scale.

It’s bigger then most small towns! Nightmare chimed in. Can you imagine what we could do with a fleet of these?

Create rather large waves? Luna asked her, an edge of sarcasm in her voice.

“Yeah, it launched airplanes which attacked other ships!” Sarah said enthusiastically. “That’s why it’s called an aircraft carrier.”

“You know of them?” Luna asked.

“Yep, they were one of the more interesting things that we studied,” Sarah said, smiling as the pain in her thighs was temporarily forgotten. “They were made to go years without coming back to port thanks to their nuclear power plants and they had crews of hundreds if not thousands of people!”

My word... that is impressive, Nightmare said slowly.

“Wow,” Luna said aloud. “It must have been truly formidable to stand up to two hundred years floating in the water.”

“They built her to last, that’s for sure,” Sarah agreed as they neared the large metal access way. “Now... let’s go find Doctor Li.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 22: Doctor Li

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“I’m sorry Ma’am, it’s not even a matter of the fact that you’re a... talking horse,” the security chief, Harkness, said while he looked Luna over.

Alicorn, not horse!” Luna protested.

“Yes, I’ll keep that in mind, Ma’am,” Harkness stated, a bit of flatness in his voice. “Anyways, you can’t enter the city because quite frankly, you won’t fit.”

“Are you calling me fat?!” Luna asked, outraged by the accusation.

“What? No,” Harkness replied, his limited amount of humor already beginning to leave him. “I am saying that you are simply too large to fit through the doors because you are a horse.”

“Alicorn!” Luna shouted at him. “We are an alicorn. Why is that concept so hard for you apes to understand?!” she continued, stepping closer to the man, her eyes blazing.

“Ma’am, I could be made of metal and you’d still be a horse to me,” Harkness told her, reaching for the plasma rifle riding on his back and pointing it at her. “But if you do not want a facefull of plasma then I’d suggest you step away from me.”

“We will take you on, you impudent little wh-”

“I think that’s enough of that,” Sarah said, grabbing Luna’s attention with a swat on the neck. Luna turned to stare at her.

“Sarah? What is the meaning of this?!” Luna asked her angrily.

“Luna, we’re not here to start a fight,” Sarah said in a level voice. “We are here to find information about my father. If the man says that you’re not allowed in, then you’re not allowed in.”

I told you this would happen, Nightmare hissed. She has abandoned you!

“Even you Sarah?” Luna asked her. “You’re going to abandon me?”

Sarah frowned at her. “No? I’m just going to go into the city and see if I can find some info about my dad. Alright?”

“But... you’ll come back for me, won’t you?” Luna asked the woman slowly. “You will not abandon me?”

“Of course not,” Sarah replied, shaking her head. “Why would I ditch my ride?” she added, a joking smile on her face.

“I... fine,” Luna said, stepping away from Harkness. “I... will be here when you return.”

“Thanks Luna,” Sarah said with a smile, then she shot Harkness an apologetic look. “Sorry about this Sir, I promise, it won’t happen again.”

“Yeah, see that it doesn’t,” Harkness grumbled as he stepped back and leaned against the steel wall.

“Right... I don’t suppose you could point me to Doctor Li’s lab could you?” Sarah asked carefully, hoping not to further ruffle the man’s feathers.

“Take that door,” he said, boredness entering into his tone. “And you’ll end up in a stairwell. Take the door on the left, the one labeled ‘Capital Preservation Society’. Once through that go down the corridor until you get to an intersection, take the right, then it’s the first passageway on your left,” he recited without looking away from Luna who had decided to sit and stare definitely not far from him.

“Um, thanks,” Sarah said before she moved over to the door.

“Hey,” Harkness called after her, Sarah stopped and raised an eyebrow at him.


“If she does something stupid, I’m shooting her,” Harkness said, jerking a thumb at Luna.

“Then I guess I’ll have to shoot you right back,” Sarah replied coldly before walking through the door and closing it behind her.

“Hrmph,” Harkness said before shaking his head and looking back at Luna who was glaring at him.

“You would not survive the process of shooting me,” she promised him.

“I wouldn’t bet on that horse,” Harkness replied. “I’ve got the best reflexes that humanity has to offer.”

“Color me unimpressed,” Luna said with a snort.

Harkness snorted and rolled his eyes as he leaned against the wall, crossing his arms. Meanwhile, the ‘ali-corn’ was still glaring at him.

This was going to be a ‘fun’ day, Harkness could already tell.

Why the hell do they have lane dividers of all things just laying around in here? Sarah asked herself as she walked down the metal hallway. Also, why has no one cleaned in here? Honestly, it wouldn’t take that much effort... she mentally added, disgusted by the amount of trash on the floor.

She continued walking for around four minutes, not speaking to any of the people she passed, they didn’t seem the overly friendly type until she came to the intersection.

“Is that... a motorcycle?” the woman asked aloud.

“No, it’s a piece of ‘modern’ art,” a passing security guard said sarcastically as he walked by. Sarah glared at his retreating form. As an ex-member of Vault Security she was beginning to get offended by attitude of the Rivet City security staff.

Shaking her head, she took a right, and after a few more moments of walking came to a corridor on her left. Of course, Sarah thought as she looked at the couch jutting out the side of the wall, I guess it never occurred to them to move the couch... that’s upside down. Must be more ‘modern art’.

The woman let out a sigh, and started down the corridor, quickly arriving at a door with a sign saying ‘science lab’ above it. She walked through the door, and the first thing that caught her attention was the elaborate pipework that ran through the room, terminating in a large circular metal plate. Sarah walked down a set of stairs, and came to a stop, there were several people working at various stations, and she didn’t want to disturb them from what was obviously important work.

Damn it, any number of these people could be ‘Doctor Li’ she thought to herself as she surveyed them with a frown. Then one of the scientists, a woman with brown hair wearing a labcoat, walked up to her, frowning.

“Look Miss, this is a restricted area. I’m tired of telling you people...” she began but then stopped suddenly, her eyes widening. “I... it’s you. My heavens, you look so much like him... You’re James’s daughter, aren’t you? What... are you doing here?”

Sarah’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “You can tell that I’m his daughter that easily?” she asked.

“Why yes,” the woman replied. “I’m Doctor Madison Li, I worked with your father many years ago. Your mother as well, in fact... of course I can recognize you.”

“I... okay,” Sarah said slowly. “Can you... explain a little bit more? Dad... never really mentioned you... or any of this...”

Doctor Li sighed and ran a hand down her face. “He didn’t? Typical James...” she trailed off shaking her head. Then she looked back up at Sarah and her gaze softened. “You’ll have to forgive me. This has all been very stressful, what with your father showing up after being gone for so long. You have to understand... I, we put all that behind us. Project Purity, our work, all of it. We’ve moved on, even if your father hasn’t.”

"Ummm... what? What are you talking about? What’s Project Purity? What do you mean you worked with my mother and father?” Sarah asked, irritation beginning to build. It was plain to see that her father had left her even more in the dark than she’d thought.

“He... really told you nothing, didn’t he?” Doctor Li asked her. “You’re not just... pretending...”

“Why would I be pretending about any of this?!” Sarah half shouted. “For the past week I’ve spent my time walking around this radioactive hell-hole, shot by a sniper rifle twice, been nearly raped four times by raiders, almost had a talking horse stab me with a, I shit you not, magic sword, and to top it all off, had a giant fucking supermutant nearly club me to death with a fire hydrant, all because I wanted to find my father and you have the nerve to say that I’m pretending?!” She ranted at the older woman who took a step back. “What in the hell possessed you to think that I was ‘pretending’ anything? All I want are some god damn answers!”

Everyone in the science lab was staring at her, the woman’s hands were clenched and her nails dug painfully into her palms as her eyes glared at Doctor Li.

“Doctor Li... do you want me to remove her?” a man in security armour who had been leaning against the wall behind Sarah asked.

Sarah turned on the man, anger in her eyes, hand an inch away from her side-arm. “I’d like to see you tr-”

“There’s no need for that Horace,” Doctor Li’s clear authoritative voice cut her off. “Miss Sarah and I were just about to go back to my office and have a chat.” Sarah’s head pivoted back to look at Doctor Li who gave her a soft smile. “I’m sure you have... many questions and... I may as well answer them.”

“I... thank you,” Sarah said, a bit of her tension draining away.

“Well then, right this way,” Doctor Li said, turning on her heel. “I’m sure I can answer all, or at least most, of your questions.”

Luna continued to glare at Harkness, who had begun to tune her out as his brain shut off like it did normally during boring moments.

This is... unbelievable, simply unbelievable, Nightmare raged within her mind. This... man has barred our progress and insulted us! He must pay for it!

I agree, Luna muttered darkly. He called me fat!

There was a moment of silence before Nightmare said. We were referring to how he implicated that we were just a beast of burden... we know that we are not fat. Our flank is perfect.

Luna frowned. Right, that too.

Sometimes, we wonder how it is we are the same pony, Nightmare grumbled.

Well, we are, Luna replied. Simply different aspects.

We know that, yet at times it still leads us to wonder, Nightmare replied.

Luna let out a small mental snort at that. Does it matter?

Not... particularly, Nightmare replied. T’was just a thought.

Well keep them to yourself, Luna told her.

We both know that can’t happen, Nightmare said

I suppose, Luna replied before she lowered her gaze away from Harkness and lay against the cold steel of the hull. There are times I wonder if you really exist at all... or if it is just my mind creating some sort of trick.

Well... you know that when we are truly one our power is amplified twofold, so you could take that as proof, Nightmare suggested.

Luna remained silent for a moment and shook her head. I wish it were that easy... or that you were simply something like what Clover and Tia thought of you...

You would prefer us to be a demon or a monster? Nightmare asked, her tone perturbed.

No! Of course not, Luna quickly corrected her. Were that the case then I would despise you... you are me... just... a darker part.

A stronger part! Nightmare stated. The part of us which despises those who mistreat us! The part which was created by the thousand nightmares featuring our face! The part which we turned to when we were at our lowest, when neither Clover nor Tia would lend us the time of day or a helping hoof!

Indeed... a stronger part, Luna agreed softly. I... I am weak. You... we are strong together.

Yes, yes we are, Nightmare agreed, her voice low. All of those who hurt us, all of those who spurned our beautiful night... we are the part of us that wishes them to suffer the embarrassment of being wrong, to find the beauty that only the night can reveal.

“You okay, horse?” Harkness asked unexpectedly, breaking her out of her internal discussion.

“I-huawa?” Luna asked, shaking her head.

“You were beginning to cry a little,” Harkness informed her dryly as his fingers tapped on the bulkhead. Luna’s eyes widened in surprise and she reached a hoof up to wipe at her face, it came away wet.

“I... hadn’t realized,” Luna said softly. “I um... thank you.”

“Don’t mention it,” Harkness said, returning to staring blankly off into the distance like a robot.

Luna frowned and shuffled her wings a little before letting out a sigh and returning her eyes to the muddy horizon.

“So you can understand my surprise when he storms in here four days ago raving about starting up the Project again,” Doctor Li finished with a shake of her head. “I hadn’t seen him that animated about anything since your mother died.”

“I... see,” Sarah said slowly, shaking her head. “Dad... didn’t really get ‘animated’ about much of anything unless it involved science,” she added before frowning. “Or when I did something special... he always got excited then.”

Doctor Li nodded, and then let out a slight sigh. “Yes, that seems like James, he doesn’t always seem to care much about what’s going on... but he knows when to make you feel so... special.”

“Yeah,” Sarah said, shaking her head. In the last half-hour she’d learned more about her father then she had in her entire life. “So... sorry that I side-tracked us so much... but can you tell me where he went?”

The woman across from her looked startled for a moment before pinching the bridge of her nose. “I got so caught up in giving you a history lesson that I completely forgot to tell you what you actually wanted to know, didn’t I?”

“It’s... not your fault, it’s mine,” Sarah replied, rubbing the back of her head. “Sorry Doctor Li... I just wanted to know more about my father.”

“There’s nothing to apologize for dear,” Doctor Li replied, chuckling softly. “After all, I’m the one who rambled about her ‘glory days’. Oh, and call me Madison.”

“Right,” Sarah said, cracking a smile. “So Madison, do you know where my father went?”

"Indeed he went to his lab, it’s in the Jefferson Memorial building northwest of here,” she answered before shaking her head. “My, we spent quite some time here. I’m sorry to tell you this but I really must get back to my work.”

“It’s fine,” Sarah replied, getting up from the surprisingly comfortable wooden chair. “Thank you for your help... Madison.”

"You’re welcome,” Doctor Li replied as she led the way out of her office and back to the main lab. Sarah followed and noticed something.

“Hey um... Madison... are those fruit fresh?” she asked, pointing at a table of apples.

“Yes, it’s what we’re focusing on here, hydroponics,” Doctor Li stated.

“Okay... umm... would you mind if I take two for a friend of mine?” Sarah inquired.

Doctor Li looked at the table for a moment and then shrugged. “Go right ahead, we have plenty.”

“Thank you, I bet Luna is going to love these,” Sarah replied as she walked up to the table and grabbed two of the apples.

“Well, I certainly hope so,” Doctor Li said without thinking before turning to a machine and beginning to press several buttons.

Sarah smiled and headed out of the lab and back the way she’d come. It didn’t take too long until she walked out of the door and found Luna staring morosely into the horizon.

“Hey Luna,” Sarah said with a smile.

“Oh, hello there Sarah,” Luna said, looking back at her, a small smile appearing on her face. “I see you have returned for me.”

“You know it,” Sarah replied, shaking her head. “Oh, and I got you a treat.”

“A treat?” Luna asked, raising an eyebrow at her. “What type of treat?”

“The fresh kind,” Sarah answered, pulling the apples out of her side pockets. Luna’s eyes went wide, and immediately her mouth began to noticeably water.

“Are... are those apples?” Luna asked, her voice both eager and unbelieving.

“Damn right they’re apples,” Sarah answered with a grin as she tossed one to Luna. The alicorn caught it in mid air with telekinesis and then chomped through it in two clean bites as juice ran down her cheeks.

“Mmmmmm,” she moaned out. “Tis most delicious,” she said before using her long and dexterous tongue to mop up the excess juice.

“I thought you’d say that,” Sarah replied before taking a bite out of the other apple. “Wow, they are really good.”

“Yeah, they are,” Harkness said from behind them. “Now, are you two going to spend all day out here or are you done with your moment?”

Sarah frowned at him, but shrugged. “We’re done,” she said, shaking her head. “Let’s get going Luna.”

“Right,” Luna agreed, rising to her hooves. “Let’s.”

They began to walk back across the long bridge one beside of the other. Unbeknownst to either of them, a storm was approaching.

Wandering Moon Chapter 23: Arguments and Pillow Talk

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As the pair trode down the cracked roadway, Luna looked over at Sarah and examined the woman’s face carefully. Her eyes were focused on something off in the distance, her mind clearly lost in thought.

I wonder what she learned, Luna mentally mused.

Well, it must be something rather important, Nightmare replied. Look at the way she is standing, her mind is clearly elsewhere. Only revelations of a grand scale can elicit such a response, her other half stated with an internal frown.

Indeed, Luna agreed, though her frown was clearly visible on her face. I do hope that she shares what she learned soon.

Yes, secrets lead to plots, which lead to betrayals, which as you know lead to abandon-

ENOUGH! Luna unexpectedly roared, the mental ‘vibrations’ echoing through her head. SARAH IS OUR FRIEND, SHE WILL NOT BETRAY US! SHE WILL NOT PLOT AGAINST US! SHE WILL NOT ABANDON US!

Nightmare was cowed for a moment by the sheer volume of Luna’s protests, but recovered not long after. So you say now! You said something similar about both our sister as well as Clover! Both of whom loved us! And did that stop them from betraying us? Did that stop them from abandoning us in our of need?! Did that stop them from waging a war against us? A war which has seen us banished to this dead world where the magic is so weak that we are reduced to a fraction of what we are capable of? Nightmare raged back at her, her voice dark and venomous.


What? What could you possibly say to make it alright? Nightmare demanded, cutting Luna off. Our friends hate and despise us! Then they betray us and lock us away where no one may find us as if we are embarassing foal’s toys!

But Sarah-

FACE IT, WE ARE THE ONLY ONES WE CAN TRUST! SARAH IS NOT OUR FRIEND! SHE IS SIMPLY ANOTHER PERSON OUT TO HURT US! Nightmare shouted, her voice turning to that of hysterical filly. THAT’S ALL OTHERS DO TO US! THEY HURT US! THEY HATE US! THEY-THEY DESPISE US! WE-WE ARE NOTHING! IT IS ALL WE HAVE EVER BEEN! she wailed, her voice becoming full of sobs. We-we-we try and help-and-and-all we ever get is hatred... we.... we are worthless... we don’t matter... otherwise we would have frie-


Luna was shocked out of her... argument and looked up to see Sarah staring down at her, her hand tensed.

“Can you hear me now?” Sarah asked, her voice hoarse and raspy.

“I...you... hit me...” Luna said, struggling for words, she had somehow ended up on her knees, and she had no idea how.

“It was the only way to get through to you apparently,” Sarah rasped. “You just... stopped walking and fell to your knees, weeping uncontrollably,” she said, her voice becoming full of concern as Luna noticed her soaking wet facial fur. “I tried shouting and yelling at you but you just kept weeping and it was getting worse so... I tried something different.”

Luna stared at her for a moment before she slowly got into a sitting position and pulled Sarah into a tight hug, wrapping her forehooves and wings around the woman as she pressed her face into Sarah’s unarmoured neck and began to weep.

Sarah stood there, frozen in surprise, hardly expecting the gesture. Then slowly, she eased into the embrace and began to gently pat the back of the mare’s soft neck and instinctively made a quieting gesture. Luna’s silken feather’s tickled her exposed skin and her astral mane swirled in a stunning pattern as it flowed before her eyes as she pressed her cheek into the soft fur.

Unfortunately, their embrace was rudely interrupted.


Luna let out a strangled shriek as the super mutant brought his nail covered board into her back. Luckily, her armour caught the nails before they could do any damage but the impact still slammed into her with inhuman strength.

“TIME TO DIE!” the mutant shouted as he prepared for another swing and brought it slamming into Luna’s side, sending her crashing to the ground.


Sarah’s combat shotgun went off with an explosion of noise and the supermutant caught the full pellet burst of buckshot directly to the face. The pellets tore into the mutant’s eyes, pulping them near instantly and blowing out the back of his skull.


A .32 round slashed into the concrete to Sarah’s right, her eyes darted up to see a mutant with a hunting rifle eyeballing her for another shot. The woman darted to the left, the shot whizzing by her ear hot enough to leave a burning pain. Sarah ignored the pain, adrenaline taking over.

She blitzed at the mutant and was about to bring her shotgun up to fire at it when a trio of 5mm slammed into her side and carried her off her feet. Sarah looked up to see a much bigger mutant armed with a minigun looming over her.

Roll! she snapped to herself, shoving her body to the side just in time to avoid an avalanche of 5mm rounds which ate into the concrete with the ferocity of a starving hobo. Sarah’s roll was stopped by the hunting rifle armed mutant whose large armoured foot slammed into her stomach. The breath blew out of her as she gasped in pain and the woman’s eyes watered in pain.

“I’M EATING TONIGHT!” the mutant exclaimed excitedly as it pointed its hunting rifle’s barrel at Sarah’s head. It twisted its foot and Sarah let out another gasp as she tried to reach for her sidearm.

NO YOU ARE NOT!” a familiar voice roared back in response. The mutant looked up in time to see Daybreaker slam through his forehead, the silver blade stabbing through it and out the back of his head.

The blade pulled free and the mutant dropped to the ground. Unfortunately, that also meant he fell on top of Sarah who let out another gasp as four hundred and fifty pounds of flesh and metal fell on her with a thud.

Luna, her eyes blazing with anger charged towards the last mutant. He roared at her as he revved up his minigun for another storm of lead, but a stream of laser fire splashed against him. He shrieked in agony, or maybe it was excitement before suddenly disintegrating into a pile of ash.

“Sarah! Sarah are you alright?!” Luna shouted as she galloped up to her friend and with a mighty ‘oomph’ shoved the dead mutant off of Sarah.

Sarah let out a relieved breath, and then took a quick inhale of air as she got to her feet. “I-I’m fine Luna,” she said with a shake of her head. “Just got winded, that’s all,” she added.

“Were you not shot by the minigun?” Luna asked her, looking at the hole in the armour of her chest. Sarah followed her gaze and reached into the hole with her finger. She flinched, pain tickling out from it, but when she drew her finger back it was dry. Sarah frowned and dug around for another second before she pulled out the crumpled bullet.

“Looks like my armour stopped it,” she told Luna, shaking her head. “Lucky.”

“Yes... very lucky,” Luna agreed as she sheathed Daybreaker. “I was worried that I had lost you...”

“I’ve still got some fight in me, don’t worry,” Sarah assured her, gently patting Luna’s neck. “So... are you alright now?”

“In all honesty Sarah... no... I do not believe I am,” Luna replied with a sigh. “But I will carry on regardless.”

“Well... that’s good I guess,” Sarah said with a small frown. “Word to the wise though... try not to have emotional breakdowns in the middle of the street. As you saw... it seems to go badly.”

Luna gave her a shaky nod. “Right... I feel rather foolish now. I would never have allowed myself to commit an act like that were I on the battlefield,” she replied, clearly angry with herself.

“It’s fine, but we should keep moving,” Sarah told her, still patting the mare’s neck. “Save the tears for when we’re safe, okay?”

“Right, yes I shall,” Luna replied, nodding her head rapidly.

“Good, now let’s get going before more uglies shows up,” Sarah said as she quickly bent down to pick up the fallen hunting rifle along with the loose ammo.

The two started out again in silence and walked until they reached their destination, a large building which had been seemingly gutted by hundreds of pipes. There were a pair of super mutants wielding nail boards in front of it, but other then that the entryway seemed clean.

“How should we do this?” Sarah asked Luna as they crouched around a hundred meters away from the mutants..

“I can take the fools in a matter of seconds,” Luna stated as she half-drew her sword.

“True... but maybe we should just snipe them,” Sarah suggested, taking out her hunting rifle. “Your laser rifle seems to have excellent accuracy and it’s better then charging across a hundred meters of flat, coverless ground.”

“I don’t know... I’ve never tried to ‘snipe’ with this rifle,” Luna replied with a small frown.

Then we shall handle it, Nightmare stated, speaking for the first time since her... breakdown earlier.

Are you capable of it? Luna asked her, a note of concern in her mental voice.

Moreso than you, Nightmare snapped as she used Luna’s magic to grip the laser rifle. “We shall take the one on the right,” Luna told Sarah who raised an eyebrow slightly but nodded as she brought the hunting rifle up to her shoulder.

“Alright,” Sarah said, targeting the mutant on the left. “On three. One. Two. Three.”


The two rifles went off , the mutant on the right simultaneously disintegrating into a pile of fine ash while the one on the left fell, its skull torn open.

“We love that sight,” Luna told Sarah with a wicked grin. “To reduce our enemies to a pile of ash, such a fitting fate for fools.”

“Yeah,” Sarah said as she cast a worried glance at Luna. “You ready to move up?”

“Yes,” Luna answered with a simple nod as she holstered her rifle and drew her sword. “Let the beasts come at us.”

“I’m hoping that we already killed them all,” Sarah deadpanned as she began to walk forwards. As she did so, she glanced skywards. “Wow, looks like we got here just in the nick of time, it’s going to be a hell of a storm.”

“Get down!” Luna shouted as a mutant rose out of cover cradling an assault rifle. Sarah reacted instinctively and dropped to the floor in time to avoid a crescendo of 5.56mm rounds which pelted the wall behind her.

“Take him down!” Sarah shouted at the mutant as she rose to her knees cradling her combat shotgun.

Luna did so, and the mutant’s arm went flying as a laser slashed through it causing him to let out a scream of pain. Sarah sent a blast from her shotgun into its chest for good measure and the hulking brute tumbled to the ground.

Sarah let out a sigh and shook her head as she surveyed the wreckage surrounding the main console of the... purifyer. There were a good ten super mutants strewn around it, all of them torn apart by either shotgun pellets, lasers, or Luna’s sword.

“Wow, there were a lot of these guys in here,” Sarah said with a tired sigh as she wiped sweat from her forehead.

“Yes, yes there were,” Luna agreed with a small sigh of relief as she eased both Daybreaker and her laser rifle back into their respective resting places on her back. “I wonder why, I don’t see anything of value here. At least... not to them.”

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Sarah replied with a shrug as she walked up the stairs and up to the main console. She frowned as she noticed several holodisks strewn across it. “Huh, these look recent,” she noted with a frown. “Want to hear what my dad had to say?”

“Sure,” Luna said with a nod as she strode over to Sarah. “Though, may we do it somewhere there are not corpses strewn about please?”

Sarah sniffed, and then nearly gagged as the overwhelming smell of dead super mutants assaulted her senses.

“Yeah, sure, let’s check out the basement and see if we can’t find a place to stay the night. I’m not stepping a foot outside while it’s raining radioactive water,” Sarah suggested as she began to walk back they way they’d come.

“I see the wisdom in that,” Luna agreed, nodding and following the woman. “I would not want to fall ill here.”

“Tell me about it,” Sarah said. “Speaking of which, I’m surprised that the entire Wasteland hasn’t died of dysentery by now.”

Luna shuttered. “Do not make such jokes Sarah. If the disease is the same here as the one I am thinking of, then it is truly a fate worse than death to become afflicted with,” the alicorn cautioned her.

“Dad actually said the same thing once actually,” Sarah replied. “Though now that I think about it, he may not have just been talking about old stories.”

“I would like to drop this subject,” Luna interjected rather hurriedly. Sarah gave the mare a sideways look as she pushed open the basement door, but shrugged and let it drop.

The basement was dank and rather cold, but as the two made their way down the stairs they were confronted by a very confused mutant.

“Huh?” he said with an almost comical look on his face. “Are you the food?

“No, we’re the entertainment,” Sarah answered simply before she brought her shotgun up and blew his skull off.

“That was well executed,” Luna observed with a small chuckle as they continued forwards.

“What, the shot?” Sarah asked her.

“No, the one liner. I can never think of good ones,” Luna replied.

That is because we have better things to do then be witty while killing people, Nightmare stated causing Luna to roll her eyes.

“You okay?” Sarah asked her, catching the movement.

“For the moment,” Luna replied as they continued down the corridor and entered into a room full of beds.

“Well, it looks like we found where we’re going to be sleeping,” Sarah stated with a smile, some of the beds even had sheets that didn’t look completely destroyed.

“Yes, now to see if there are any more of these damnable mutants around,” Luna said before taking a deep breath and thundering. “YOUR DESTRUCTION IS HERE YOU PILES OF POX RIDDLED CROW FOOD! COME AND FACE YOUR DEATHS!

Sarah was literally forced to take a step back from the sheer... force behind the voice and she stared at Luna.

“Why did you do that?” she all but shouted.

“So that we would not have to waste our time looking for them,” Luna replied with a small smile. “It is my understanding that the filths are drawn to noise... so I gave them some noise.”

“I guess,” Sarah said. “But do you think you could have given me some warning first?” she added, rubbing the inside of her right ear with her pinky finger.

Luna blushed. “Sorry, I will remember to do that in the future,” she stated before drawing her sword in her magic. “Now, let us meet those who come!”

Sarah nodded and moved up to the side of the doorway. Within a matter of seconds, a mutant came running through, an assault rifle clasped in its grasp. Sarah fired twice, and it fell to the floor.

Another charged through, but Daybreaker swooped down and decapitated it.

The two repeated the process several times until they were sure that there were no more mutants left. After that the pair quickly dragged the bodies out of the main room and threw them down the stairs into the lower bowels of the basement. Then Sarah set up several frag mines she’d bought from Moira earlier at the doorway.

“Alright, that should do it,” she stated with a quick nod.

“They are set to explode if anyone but us comes near them, correct?” Luna asked.

“Yeah, they’ll act as a good wake-up call if we missed any of the mutants,” Sarah replied as she walked back to the beds. On the way, she noticed a coffee table with several more holotapes on it. With a frown, she picked one up. “Hmm... Better Days?”

“What?” Luna asked from where she was preparing a pair of mattresses for herself.

“It’s the name of this tape... want to hear it?” she asked. “I don’t know about you, but I need a bit of cheering up after earlier.”

Luna looked down for a moment and then smiled as she waved a wing invitingly for Sarah to join her. “Of course,” she said, nodding.

Sarah walked over and joined the alicorn on the beds, having long since realized that she was the best pillow ever. “Okay, let’s see here...” she slotted the holodisk into her Pip-boy and a woman’s voice began to speak.

“That batch of tests was inconclusive, but Madison and I are convinced it's a problem with the secondary filtration system. We're going to recalibrate the equipment and try again tomorrow so that...” the voice was soft and kind, Sarah could hear a gentle tenderness in it even as she described the problem.

“James, please, I'm trying to work. Now's not the time!”

Sarah’s eyebrows rose in surprise at that, what... did it mean? Was this... was this her mother speaking?

“So that's the next step. Assuming we get the results we need, we'll move on to.. James!” The voice of the woman she assumed to be her mother suddenly yelped and Luna craned her head to look at Sarah, raising an eyebrow while Sarah gave her a hapless expression as her mother laughed.

“Stop, I need to finish these notes!” there was another laugh, more coy then before. “We'll move on to diagnosing the issues with the radiation dampeners, that should... Owww! James!” Even more laughing followed that and Sarah could only imagine what had triggered the ‘owww’, not that she wanted to. “Now? We really shouldn't!”

The tape ended, and Sarah and Luna looked at each other for a moment before Sarah blushed.

“I um... I’m glad the tape ended there,” she stuttered.

“Yes... it would have been most awkward otherwise,” Luna agreed with a swift nod. “So... sleeping time?”

“Sleeping time,” Sarah agreed with an awkward nod as she leaned against Luna’s back, enjoying the sensation of the silky feathers falling across her body.

She seems quite fond of sleeping with us, Nightmare observed quietly, still rather subdued.

I shall not complain, Luna replied with a mental shrug as she lay her head down on her own pillow.

Overhead, the sound of rain could still be heard as the two drifted off to sleep.

Wandering Moon Chapter 24: Battle's Eve

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Celestia sat on her large bed, tears slowly dripping down her face. Nestled in her soft chest fur was Shimmer Star, who had also spent the hour crying out her grief. The alicorn had held her close throughout it all, wrapping her soft white wings around the young Archmage. When the storm of grief passed, Shimmer pushed herself away from Celestia who gave her a comforting nuzzle.

“I know that anything I say will only make your pain worse,” Celestia said softly. “So I will only offer you my chest to lean on.”

Shimmer nodded her head slowly and began to pull herself together. It was a slow process. Her mother had only been cremated an hour ago after all, but she blew the blonde stripe of her mane out of her eyes and let out a long breath. Her purple fur began to shimmer slightly as she used a wave of magic to erase the more telling signs of her grief from herself. After all, she was the Archmage now and as such had no use for displays of that nature.

Celestia watched quietly as she also saw to her own tear stained fur, as Queen she couldn’t afford to be seen as weak. Not now at any rate.

“I just... I’m going to miss her,” Shimmer said quietly, breaking the silence that had spread between the two. “First dad goes down in a blaze of glory against that dragon and now mom is... dead.”

“I know,” Celestia said quietly as she placed a wing over the mare. “But we must press on despite the loss.”

“Yes... I know,” Shimmer replied softly.

*Knock* *Knock*

Celestia and Shimmer turned towards the doorway, Celestia frowned but rose from her position on the bed while slipping a minor illusion over herself to cover what remained of her visible grief. Then she opened the door.

Awaiting her on the other side was the newest member of her personal guard, Crimson Lance. While still rather young at the age of sixteen, the red unicorn had proven himself several times during training and Celestia had promised him a position when he was older. He met her with a orderly salute.

“My Queen,” he said stiffly, the picture of discipline.

“Crimson Lance, at ease,” Celestia said with a nod as the stallion dropped his hoof to the ground. “What has brought you here?”

“News, your majesty,” he replied as he telekinetically brought a scroll up to float before her. “Xanthos’s lair has been located.”

Celestia’s eyes widened in surprise, but other than a nod, that was all the reaction she allowed herself to show. She brought the scroll up to her eyes and quickly read over it.

To Queen Celestia From General Blueblood the Second

My Queen; firstly I am deeply sorry for the loss of Clover the Clever and I will mourn her in my private moments for many years to come, please pass on my regards to Shimmy. Secondly, and more importantly if you will forgive me for saying so your majesty, we have located Xanthos’s base of operations.

It is a heavily fortified mountain that he has apparently been hollowing out in secret right under our noses a bit north of Manehatten, I apologize for my own incompetence for not having seen it before now on behalf of both myself and my spymasters.

Unfortunately the only reason we were able to decipher its location in the first place was because no more then an hour ago a pulse of twisted magic rolled off of it and sent over two dozen magically sensitive unicorns into a full blown seizure. They’ve since recovered, mostly.

Worse, he has an army Ma’am. Early scouting reports put their numbers in the hundreds (how the bastards remained hidden from us for so long with that many troops is still being investigated and heads will roll when I find out) as well as sightings of flocks of griffin and diamond dog mercenaries.

However, the worst of it is apparently yet to come. We do not know the exact nature of whatever tainted magic the centaur is attempting but if the feeling in my gut is correct it will be magic most foul. I am requesting the immediate assistance of both the Canterlot Army as well as that of the Archmage.

Your trusted General, Blueblood the Second

Celestia re-read the letter twice to make sure that she could recite it from memory before she concentrated on it for a moment and it burst into flames. She then turned back to Crimson Lance who was waiting expectantly for her orders.

“Alert General Ironhide, we march at once for Manehatten,” Celestia stated calmly.

“Aye your majesty,” Crimson replied before snapping a salute and rushing away.

“My Queen?” Shimmer asked from behind her. “What is going on?”

“Find your robes, Archmage,” the Queen stated as she turned to face the younger mare, her mane beginning to blaze as her eyes glowed with firelight. “For we march to battle.”

Sarah let out a yawn and burrowed a little deeper into Luna’s heavenly soft fur. It was almost unbelievable how comforting it felt.

You know... I think I could get used to this, Sarah thought to herself a she absentmindedly ran a finger across Luna’s side. Then she glanced at the alicorn’s face and frowned worriedly. Though... if what I saw yesterday is anything to go by... Luna isn’t all there. I mean... I knew that already, not going to deny it. But that... was the kind of thing that’ll get the both of us killed out here.

Luna mumbled something under her breath in her sleep. “Tia...” it was her sister’s name and if Sarah wasn’t mistaken, her voice sounded sad. The woman frowned and ran a comforting hand down the back of her friend’s neck. Luna shifted slight in her sleep, bringing her wing down across Sarah’s face, turning her world into a wall of light blue feathers.

The woman sighed and lay back once more, hey, she’d tried right?

Then, her mind turned to the other subject eating away at her. Her father. She’d known that he was a scientist... or at least a doctor with a leaning towards science... but Sarah had never imagined that he’d worked on something the size of Project Purity. Even now that she’d had a night to think about it, it didn’t seem real.

Her father was working for the one thing that could possibly save the Wasteland.

Even put into such a simple sentence her mind reeled away from the possibility. Her father was a patient, slightly distant, and thoughtful man... not... a genius with dreams of curing the entire Wasteland. Not... that there was a problem with that or anything... it was just... a large bridge to cross in her mind.

The revelation also presented another problem. Mainly that of what she was going to say to her father when she finally got to him. Until now she’d been planning on demanding to know why he’d abandoned her in the Vault... but now that she knew, it was... difficult to keep any sort of anger burning within her. Of course, she still wanted to know why he hadn’t told her that he was leaving... but in the face of all this she just couldn’t be angry with him for it.

Truth be told, if she were in his position she’d probably have left earlier. After all, the Overseer wouldn’t have gone to the drastic measures he had if Sarah had been, say, ten. Sarah winced internally at that thought as the memories of the old man bleeding out filled her mind, along with the friends she’d killed to escape.

Sarah’s breath caught in her throat and she clenched her teeth. No, I’m not going to think about it, she thought. She didn’t have time... or maybe the will to. Beneath her, she felt Luna begin to stir. The alicorn’s wing moved away from Sarah’s face and she turned her head so that her blue eyes could look into Sarah’s.

“Well don’t you look comfortable?” Luna asked her with a sly smile.

“You’re comfy,” Sarah replied with a small shrug, though she let a smile slip across her face. “So, you ready to get moving?

“Why yes of course, but first I believe we must pick a destination,” Luna stated.

“Right,” Sarah agreed with a nod and a small blush as she lurched off of Luna and the bods, landing easily on her feet. “That and breakfast,” she added, leaning over and beginning to ruffle through her duffle bag. “You up for snack cakes?”

Luna nodded. “That sounds fine to me,” she replied.

Sarah tossed her a container to Luna who tore it open with her magic and began to eat the cakes while the woman started on a can of spam.

“Sarah,” Luna said, gaining the woman’s attention.

“Yeah?” Sarah asked, glancing up from her meal.

“I fear I may have done something rather foolish yesterday,” Luna stated.

“Don’t worry about it,” Sarah replied, shrugging. “I could tell you needed the hug.”

Luna frowned and shook her head. “That was foolish as well, but not what I was talking about,” she stated.

“Oh, sorry,” Sarah said, frowning. “Then what were you talking about?”

“My flying,” Luna answered. “It was... rather stupid.”

“I for one enjoyed it,” Sarah said. “Once I got used to it anyways. To be honest Luna, it was probably the most amazing moment of my entire life.”

A touched smile spread across Luna face. “Why... thank you Sarah,” the alicorn said, a mixture of softness and care in her words. “But still, it was incredibly stupid of me.”

“How do you mean?” Sarah asked, still not understanding what Luna was beating herself up for.

“Well, one of the first lessons Jonathan taught Tia and I of flight when we were very young, me in particular, was to never fly in the day if we were being hunted. Or in his words ‘don’t stick your head out of the cave unless you want it to be separated hastily from your neck’. This rule is doubly so when the ones hunting you have access to ranged weaponry. Something that happens to be abundant here,” Luna finished with a deadpan expression.

“Oh,” Sarah said simply before facepalming. “Okay, yeah, I see what you did wrong.”

“The fact that we weren’t shot amazes me,” Luna said with a shake of her head before she frowned. “That’s... an odd feeling.”

“What is? The snack cakes making you sick?” Sarah asked.

“No, no, it’s as if... I’m being pulled,” Luna said, looking quite confused.

Magically pulled if I’m not mistaken, Nightmare stated. And I am not mistaken.

“That’s weird,” Sarah said, frowning. “Are you alright?”

“I believe so...” Luna said, getting to her hooves and quickly pulling taking a few clopping steps around the room.

“Okay, if you’re sure,” Sarah replied, shooting the mare a slightly anxious frown.

“It’s fine... it’s just as if there is a string tied taught around my hoof and it is trying to pull me somewhere,” Luna said, shaking her hoof in an attempt to dislodge said string.

“Hmm... anything I could do to snip it?” Sarah asked as she got up from her seat on the bed and walked over to Luna, putting a hand on the side of her neck.

“Not unless you know advanced magic, something we doubt you do,” Luna replied, her eyes slightly cat-like. “Do not trouble yourself strumpet, this is a matter of magic.”

“Strumpet?” Sarah asked Luna, narrowing her eyes slightly.

“Ignore her,” Luna said with a shake of her head. “She is rather irritable at the moment.”

“Of course we’re irritable,” she said again, her voice noticeably deeper and different. “There is currently a string of magic pulling on our soul and we are unable to do anything at all about it! It is as if we are a mere fish caught on a line!”

“Still, that is no reason to take out your frustrations on Sarah!” Luna retorted. “She has done nothing to deserve being called a strumpet!”

“Ha,” the Nightmare replied. “It isn’t as if she-”

“Be silent!” Luna snapped, cutting herself off. “This argument does nothing for us!”

“We are not arguing, we are are simply saying that-”

“Enough!” Luna growled before looking at Sarah, who was staring at her with wide eyes. “Sorry... that happens sometimes when we’re at an impasse.”

“It’s... fine,” Sarah said, shaking her head and once more deciding that she didn’t really want to know. “But... this string thing; what’s up with that?”

“I honestly don’t know...” Luna murmured. “The signature of the magic feels like a dear friend of mine, or she used to be a dear friend at any rate, but I digress,” Luna stated with a shake of her head. “One thing is for certain... it is not her.”

“Okay... so what does that mean for you?” the woman asked.

“Well, that depends on what the string of magic is meant to do,” Luna said as her brow furrowed in thought.


“Well, it could kill me,” Luna stated. “Or it could be meant to track me, or perhaps even to... retrieve me,” the alicorn continued, her frown deepening.

“So... none of the options are good?” Sarah asked.

“Depends on how we look on it,” Luna said carefully. “A tracking spell is to be expected we suppose, and as much as we ‘enjoy’ helping you we would prefer to return home as for a kill-”

Luna’s words cut off and her eyes rolled back in her head before she suddenly collapsed.

Celestia and Shimmer stepped off of their chariot as one. The former was clad in thick golden armour which burned the eyes of those who stared for too long, a golden sword the length of most ponies sheathed at her side. The latter wore a full length robe of blue, emblazoned freely with silver stars, for she did not need a blade or ‘true’ armor.

Off in the distance was a single mountain of dark stone, a sickly green beam of energy shooting from the top as a large mass of dark figures moved about in its shadow. As they’d flown by the pair had felt an unsettlingly familiar magic signature surging from within it that had made both of their fur stand on end.

The camp that they had arrived in was a huge, yet orderly, encampment and Celestia smiled internally at the level of organization and discipline Blueblood the Second was keeping it. The pair quickly and silently walked across the encampment, ignoring the bows and nods of respect from the ponies around them until they shortly arrived at a simply appointed golden tent. There were a pair of guards waiting directly outside of it and one stepped forwards.

“Identification,” he stated neutrally, holding up a halberd to impede their progress with his white magic aura.

“Queen Celestia and Archmage Shimmer Star,” Celestia answered, not in the least bit phased by the halberd.

“You’re free to enter, your highness,” the stallion said, stepping back into position.

“You had the balls to do that?” she heard the other guard whisper to the other as she and Shimmer walked through the tent flap to find General Blueblood the Second standing over a campaign table. In Celestia’s opinion, he was just as handsome as his late father had been, of course, he wasn’t hers to pursue.

The white coated stallion looked up at them and nodded, waving them over with a hoof. “My Queen, Shimmy,” he said, nodding to each of them.

“Shimmer or Archmage at the moment please,” Shimmer stated flatly.

“Of course,” the general said, wiping the small smile off of his face.

“What is the situation?” Celestia asked patiently as she walked up to the table and looked over it.

“Xanthos’s army is staged around the western approach to the mountain. Impassable canyons filled with thresher-thorns surround the others along with several flights of griffins patrolling the sky passages so anything gained by surprise would be lost by the sheer number of troops we would lose,” Blueblood explained, gesturing to the map.

“I see,” Celestia mused as she looked over the map. “So, I assume that our only point of attack is from the front.”

“Indeed,” Blueblood stated with a nod. “And judging by the entrenchments and sheer number of troops at his command I doubt we can break his lines with only our army. How long until the Canterlot Guard gets here?”

“Too long,” Shimmer answered for Celestia with a frown. “And judging by the waves of power raging off of that mountain, we have less and less time with every moment,” she said, an undertone of fury boiling in her voice.

“It’s your mother’s magic,” Blueblood said, his tone a mixture of anger and sorrow.

“Yes. Yes. It. Is,” Shimmer stated flatly as her mane began to swirl slightly with ambient magic.

“Save your power, Archmage,” the Queen said, placing a hoof on the Archmage’s shoulder. “We will need it for what is to come.”

“My Queen?” the General asked her.

“General, ready your troops,” the Queen stated simply. “We charge in an hour.”

“An hour, your Majesty? the General asked, looking at the Queen with a frown.

“Indeed,” the Queen answered, her mane catching fire. “I shall lead the charge, personally.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 25: A Reunion of Sorts

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The Queen strode through the battlefield, uncaring to the arrows being shot at her or the enemy thestrals swooping in at her from above. The thestrals, like arrows, burst into flame and fell out of the sky long before reaching her screaming in torment. She distantly heard the horns of her war band, scratch that, army, charging behind her but the mare hardly cared.

A dark unicorn leapt out of the shadows, his horn flashing with lightning. The Queen smote him with a single counter spell, resulting in his horn forcibly electrocuting him with his own magic until his body turned to so much grey ash. A ballista bolt raced towards her out of the gloom but the Queen caught it with little effort, shattered it in midair, metal head and all, before sending it raining down upon the foes before her.

The blood coating her gleaming golden armour was boiling hot as it sluiced off of the mare’s side and fell upon several of Xanthos’s army who were still clinging to life. They died screaming as their own blood ate through their faces. Her long golden blade, Daybreak, darted around her, decapitating those who got too close to her with such little effort that their heads were supported by cornstalks instead of skin and bone.

And still she strode on over corpses and through walls of shields, her anger as fiery and righteous as the sun. The look in her eyes had the same effect on those who met her gaze as looking straight at the burning ball of gasses she had controlled for so long, blinding. Her sheer fury was so intense that even her own army had been warned to stay ten minutes behind her, else she may have turned it upon them.

It had always been said that of the two sisters, the Queen was the benevolent peacemaker while the Princess was the bombastic warrior... and that was true. To a point.

With the death of the Archmage, that point had been reached.

Now, the Queen was a roaring inferno of anger and her powers dwarfed Luna’s as was to be expected as the mistress of the sun. For no matter how bright the moon, the sun shall always reign supreme in the sky.

More ponies were approaching her now, accompanied by heavily armoured diamond dogs wielding massive, spell enhanced shields. The Queen focused on them and a beam of pure white fire leapt from her horn, melting through the shields as if they were butter while their bearers bones liquefied and snapped as the fire tore through them. The ponies behind them fared worse, their armour melting down their bodies, turning them into molten statues of pain.

The Queen’s hoofsteps scorched the ground as she walked forward, a trail of burned earth following behind her as surely as the line of dead bodies.

Overhead, a company of griffins swooped towards her, large crossbows and blades at the ready to end the Queen’s life. She glanced at them and a net of roaring flames appeared in the air before them, entrapping the cat-birds who screamed out in terror as the holy flames ate through their light armour and feasted upon their feathered flesh beneath.

From far off she heard the distinctive cracks of several dozen trebuchets launching their rocky missiles. The Queen walked on she observed them raining down towards her. Until, that is, they froze in their flight. A single nod of her head was all that was required to send the great slabs of granite, each one weighing close to a ton, slamming into the still advancing ranks of the enemy army.

If the Queen was capable of it, she would have admired the zeal and determination of Xanthos’s followers, yet at the moment she found herself utterly void of anything. In fact, if anything, it simply made her that much more angry. Had these ponies fought as hard for her sister as they were for Xanthos, then perhaps, just perhaps she would have still been in Equestria.

But no. They had not. And now they would die.

The Queen sensed a new presence on the battlefield, the new Archmage had arrived.

The night turned black as the stars vanished.

And then it began to rain white lightning.

Luna was floating in blackness. All around her there was not even the most remote source of light. She knew not how long she had been floating there incorporeal, but it was long enough for her to begin to tire of it.

As exciting as this is... we wish something would happen, Nightmare complained. Our body, last we saw of it, was in relatively safe hands so we have no need to worry for it. Now we would prefer to do something other than float here idly.

Indeed, Luna agreed as she attempted to ‘move’ in a direction but due to the lack of anything it was hard to tell whether or not she’d succeeded. This is... vexing to say the least. Do you have any idea where we are?

None whatsoever, Nightmare replied with a mental snort of irritation. It is as if we are stuck in some great black sea with no way to navigate or even attempt to swim.

“That’s a good way to put it,” a strangely feminine voice suddenly spoke from... somewhere around them. “Though, I must say, I wasn’t expecting to be seeing you again so soon... or at all to be honest.”

“Who are you? And more importantly; where are you!” Luna shouted, trying to sway this way and that but unable to truly do much of anything in the fathomless blackness.

“Who am I? Who am I?” the voice asked her rhetorically. “Who I am isn’t important. As for where I am? Well, I’m not in Equestria if that does anything for you.”

“Enough with these riddles! Answer our questions!” Nightmare shouted.

“Oh, I won’t answer anything you ask me,” the voice replied. “You’re the reason why she is here in the first place; so shut it.”

“You dare-”

“Yes I do dare; now shut your mouth,” the voice stated harshly, cutting Nightmare off. Nightmare was about to respond angrily when Luna once more took control of their body.

“Ma’am... I do not know where I am, or who you are; however what I do know is that you must surely know more about the situation then I do. So, I would like to humbly ask you to impart some of your knowledge unto us,” the alicorn said respectfully.

“Hrmph,” the voice replied. “Follow the light, and no, it’s not that light. I’m not that grey yet.”

“Light... what li-”

Luna cut herself off as a large beacon appeared in the distance.

“We’ll talk later, maybe,” the voice said before it, and any sense of it, vanished.

What now? Nightmare asked.

When in doubt, follow the invisible voices, Luna stated. Tis a strategy that has worked well up till now, no?

True enough, Nightmare replied with an amused chuckle. Though, up till now, it has only been us you have been listening too.

True, Luna agreed before setting off towards the light, it was surprisingly easy now that she had a direction. The alicorn ‘galloped’ towards the light and within a matter of seconds she reached it and burst onto a mountain top, overlooking hell.

The field below her was an obvious warzone, bodies covered it and the skies above were busy belching streaks of white lightning on those down below. Her eyes widened as she noticed who was in the lead of one of the two sides. It was her sister!

Celestia, fully powered and obviously enraged was marching determinedly towards the mountain and where she walked, all who challenged her died. Luna stared at the sight. Her sister had not given this much effort to a battle since... well, since Discord had entrapped her in his lair so long ago.

Even against Luna herself, Celestia had been more reserved, and as Luna watched her tear through a line of stoutly armoured diamond dogs as if they were made of paper the younger alicorn was suddenly reminded just how much stronger than her Celestia was.

What... what could possibly have made her this angry? Luna asked Nightmare as she stared in awe of her sister and her rage.

We believe he is the cause, the centaur to our right, Nightmare pointed out, forcing Luna to tear her gaze away from the carnage below. She found herself looking at a dark furred centaur who was stroking his goatee.

At the moment, he was standing on the edge of what was obviously a massive summoning circle. To Luna’s experienced eyes she could tell that he was overflowing with magic... none of it his own.

“I don’t understand it, she should be here by now,” the centaur was saying to himself, he looked both frustrated and incredibly confused. “I performed the retrieval spell just like the book said, using the magic of the one who banished her! Why isn’t it working?! Where is Princess Luna?”

Luna frowned. “Here I am!” she called. However, the centaur didn’t seem to hear her. Luna looked down and saw that she was completely invisible. Damn! One of my loyal subjects finds a way to bring me home and I am not even able to thank him! she growled in irritation.

Indeed, I suspect Clover’s hooves in this, Nightmare agreed darkly. The conniving wench.

“Oh... that’s not good,” the centaur muttered as he looked over the edge of the mountain top. Luna followed his gaze and saw Celestia drawing nearer to the mountain, her familiar sword pointing at Xanthos as she let out a shout of rage which sent the ponies before her scurrying away in abject terror while bolts of lightning struck down those who withstood the effects.

XANTHOS!” Her sister’s voice reached Luna, even this far away.

“This isn’t the way that it was supposed to be,” the centaur continued to himself as he stepped up to the edge of the summoning circle, raising his hands above his head and unleashing a wave of magic into it. “Princess Luna, Rightful Sovereign of Equestria I release you from your banishment! Come and do my bidding!” he roared.

Do his bidding? Nightmare asked incredulously. The fool was attempting to bind us!

“Come to me Luna, I am your master, obey me so that we may reclaim this pitiful land and rule it with me at the head!” the centaur shouted as he pumped more of the stolen magic into the circle.

Luna grit her teeth as she watched, with every bit of magic the centaur injected into the summoning circle the tighter the string around her leg became, yet she felt no compulsion. The centaur let out an annoyed growl and tried to pump even more of the magic into it.

This is most odd, Nightmare stated as she watched. He has indeed performed his spell to perfection, there is not a flaw to be found within it.

Luna frowned. What do you mean?

What we mean is fairly obvious, Nightmare replied simply. We mean that we should be bound to his will without any knowledge of it. We should have emerged from within that portal fully ready to believe anything that he had to tell us and we would have followed any command which he gave us.

And yet... we are not, Luna said slowly. That... really is rather strange. I wonder why that is.

We know not for certain... but we believe it is a reasonable assumption that it was some part of Clover’s spell, Nightmare said, her voice surprisingly... tender. She did not wish us to be brought back beneath the command of another.

Before their conversation could continue any longer; there was an explosion from below them, they both looked to the edge of the mountain top and saw that Celestia had just... exploded.

Fire swirled around her form as lava flowed freely from the crack in the earth she had just opened. Ponies in armour screamed and died gagging on their own tongues as they tried to outrun the flow and its vengeful mistress.

The Queen would not normally have done such a thing, but the waves of magic flowing off of the mountaintop were becoming extremely worrying so she had decided that drastic measures were needed.

In the back of her mind the Queen noted that her own forces were moving backwards, away from her eruption and forming into what could best be described as a net of steel. Good. Xanthos’s followers would find no quarter there and She would no longer have to worry about injuring them in her anger.

The mare’s horn glowed even brighter, now more closely resembling a sword of pure light then a simple appendage. Even more lava spurted up from the earth, swallowing up those few members of Xanthos’s army who were still alive.

She raised her bright eyes to survey her surroundings and found that there were an acceptably small number of enemies left alive on the ground and the rain of white lightning provided from the Archmage was rapidly thinning their numbers.

So, with a flap of her wings, the alicorn launched herself skyward, slashing through an unfortunate griffin who happened to be in her way with Daybreak. Up she rose through the sky, a fiery ball of light, much like that from which she drew her power.

As she rose, more power surged off of the mountain top, all of it stolen from Clover, this simply infuriated the Queen even more. She continued upwards until the white lightning suddenly stopped, the Queen froze and hovered for a moment in midair.

Archmage; are you alright? she mentally called.

Fine... just drained, the Archmage replied. Blue hit me to make me stop before I killed myself.

Good, commend him for me. Unfortunately I still have work to do, the Queen told her before severing the link. Good... I will not have to worry about two Archmages in the same number of days, she thought to herself as she continued to wing skywards.

I’m coming for you Xanthos, and when I catch you I am going to incinerate you, the Queen silently promised the centaur.

Xanthos, Luna had assumed that was his name, was now visibly terrified as he watched Celestia rise towards him, a great burning comet. He reached to his back to pull out his long bow and fitted an arrow to it, pulling back on the great string and releasing it. The arrow streaked through the air with deadly accuracy, heading straight for her sister’s face.

“TIA!” Luna shouted, forgetting for the moment her hatred of her sister.

To Luna’s surprise, Celestia caught the arrow in midair without looking with her magic. She then splintered it into a dozen pieces and sent the small sharpened stakes flying at Xanthos. The centaur let out a curse and ducked, but not before four of them found their way into his chest. Luckily for him, they were fairly small. Unfortunately for him, that only heralded the beginning of his suffering.

Celestia let out a cry of pure fury and shot towards him, her wings flapping so fast that they became nothing but a blur. Xanthos let out a shout of fear as Celestia’s golden clad hooves slammed into the ground where he’d been standing seconds ago. The stone became molten and Celestia barely noticed as she pulled her hoof from it.

“Xanthos; we meet again at last,” she stated, her voice echoing like a thousand firestorms.

“The Tyrant; what a pleasure,” Xanthos replied, doing his best to keep his voice under control. “I see that you’ve found me.”

Celestia simply raised an eyebrow and an intense heat wave encompassed Xanthos, superheating the air molecules. The centaur however was unaffected by it, instead using the coils of stolen magic to protect himself.

“You think you can defeat me Tyrant?” Xanthos asked her with a sneer as he gathered magic to his hands. “I am Xanthos; most beloved of Princess Luna!”

Right, ‘most beloved’, Luna thought to Nightmare.

If we had hooves we would strangle the arrogant gnat where he stands, Nightmare agreed darkly.

“I stole the magic of Clover the Clever, and with it I shall cast you down from your pedestal and-” Xanthos continued until Celestia began to laugh. It was not a pleasant laugh, it was a sound that made Luna’s fur crawl.

“Bwahahahah,” Celestia laughed, shaking her head. “Xanthos... to be honest, I am rather disappointed with you,” she said once she’d finished laughing. “All these years of plotting and this is your master plan? To die on a mountaintop, surrounded by your dead army?”

“No, this is but a part of it!” Xanthos shouted at her, his eyes narrowing in anger, he did not enjoy being mocked.

“Well then, enlighten me,” Celestia said with a small raised eyebrow.

Xanthos should have known then to run, Luna knew that expression. It meant that Celestia was giving him time to monologue so that she could prepare a spell. It was the same expression that she had given the Council of Unicorns before she had smote them and it was the same expression she’d given Discord before they’d imprisoned him. Xanthos, being Xanthos, misunderstood.

“I am using using Clover’s magic to summon and bind your sister Luna to my will,” he said, his voice crackling with menace. “With her beneath me we shall strike you down and I will drain you of your magic. Then, when the kingdom is mine I make her my queen and drain her of her magic; from that point onwards it shall be I Xanthos who rules over Equestria!” he exclaimed throwing his arms aside as he unleashed another wave of magic on the summoning circle.

He planned to do what to me?! Luna screamed in outrage.

Make us his strumpet by all appearances, Nightmare seethed.

Celestia for her part, stared at Xanthos, her raised eyebrow had fallen back to its normal place and her eyes blazed with anger.

“You were going to do WHAT?!” she roared.

“She would be my perfect little queen; beautiful, affectionate and stupid,” Xanthos replied, apparently too stupid to be phased by Celestia’s rage. “Your little ponies will flock to her as they’ve flocked to you. I shall run this kingdom of yours from behind the shadows of her beautiful flank.”

Yes, definitely his strumpet, Nightmare growled. Oh we are going to kill him.

“And best of all, there is nothing you can do to stop me, Celestia,” Xanthos continued, his voice oily. “After all; I have already completed the summoning spell. Your sister will arrive here within the minute and then together we shall strike you down!”

“Nothing I can do to stop you?” Celestia repeated, her voice deadly. “Nothing I can do to stop you?”

“Yes, NOT-”

“Shut. Up.” Celestia’s voice, calm and controlled though it was, managed to cut off Xanthos in mid shout. “I have spent the last century boiling tea when I could have been boiling oceans. Signing treaties and laws when I could have been signing other leader’s names with their own blood as I wrote their obituaries. Breaking seals of wax when I could have been breaking continents,” the mare said, her voice deadly calm while her horn began to glow. “I have done all of this so that when my sister returns she will be met by a peaceful, loving world ready to accept her, so that I will not fail her as I did before,” Celestia continued, her voice becoming whisper silent. Xanthos stared at her, unable to move as Celestia’s magic slowly wound around him.

“And then you appear; Xanthos. And you do your best to destroy all that I have spent the last century preparing; all for what?” she asked him rhetorically. “In some hair brained scheme to harness her and bind her to your will? You would take the magic of my dearest friend Clover the Clever in order to turn the mare that she and I loved the most; and turn her into a puppet! I say NO!” Celestia lifted her head and Xanthos began to rise into the air, his arms flailing to either side as he tried to unleash Clover’s stolen magic but failed.

“For your crimes against the ponies of Equestria, for your crimes against both myself, and for your crimes against my sister, I sentence you to death!” Celestia roared; Xanthos screamed in defiance, or maybe it was pain, before Celestia’s horn glowed even brighter and his fur caught fire.

Xanthos stayed floating there in midair as the flesh melted from his bones like a waxen statue. When he was dead, Celestia let his bones fall into the boiling pile of flesh, and then with a single flash of her horn, dispossessed of it.

She stood there for a moment, letting long breaths flow through her chest and out into the air in front of her as Luna stared on in shocked silence.

Then Celestia let out a sigh as tears began to wash down her face.

“Lulu... if you can hear me, if any part of you is here... or even if I’m just talking to the empty air, I’m sorry. I failed you. I who should have protected you and loved you, spurned you and ignored your pain,” the mare let out another sigh. “It was my fault that you fell so far from grace and for that I am so impossibly sorry that my words are pitiful and lacking. I love you my little sister... and when in several century’s time you return to our world I promise you it will be a different world then then when you left it.”

She then strode forward and shattered Xanthos’s summoning circle.

“Sister I-” Luna was cut off as she felt herself being sucked away back into the darkness from whence she’d come. However, in the last second that she was able to see Equestria, she saw Celestia’s eyes snap wide open.

Then, Luna was gone, back into the darkness.

Wandering Moon Chapter 26: On The Same Bed

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Warning; contains sex, but it is well marked

“Mmhmmm,” the man in a brown overcoat said, as he examined Luna’s slumbering form. He prodded her gently with his fingers, checked beneath her tail, and even held her eye open for a moment to shine a blue light in her eye which he emitted from a strange blue flashlight.

“Is... there something wrong with her?” Sarah asked, biting her bottom lip nervously.

“Well...” the doctor began in his odd accent, (it reminded Sarah faintly of Moriarty's but it was far smoother and more refined ) as he leaned up from Luna’s sleeping form, “She’s fine, physically. Picture of health, really.”

“But... she’s unconscious! How can she be fine?” Sarah protested, she wasn’t on the edge of hysterics... she was just extremely worried about her friend, honest.

“I can’t tell you,” the doctor replied before he looked over to her, “All I can tell you is that your strange horse friend there is going to be alright,” he told her, running a hand through his messy brown hair, “Anyways, that’ll be fifty caps.”

“But you didn’t do anything!” Sarah growled.

“No, I gave her a physical exam,” the doctor told her with a small shrug, “As I said, she’s fine, just deeply asleep. So, fifty caps.” he held out his hand in a friendly manner.

Sarah glared at him as she fished in her pocket for her caps pouch. With a frown she dug out a fifty caps mini-bag and tossed it to the man who caught it easily. “You’re lucky I don’t shoot you,” the raven haired woman told him.

“Eh, you’re lucky I was wandering by,” the doctor told her, “Besides, aren’t you happy to know that she’s fine?”

The intensity of Sarah’s glare increased, “Get. Out.”

“Fine, fine,” the doctor said, sticking his hands in his pockets and walking out of the room.

Sarah let out a wordless snarl and walked back to Luna’s bed, sitting down beside her friend and gently running a hand down the back of Luna’s neck. She’d been like this for an hour, Sarah had given in and sought out help fifteen minutes ago and came back with the nameless doctor who’d been no help at all. Now, Sarah had nothing to do but look down at Luna and hope that she was okay.

It surprised the woman how much she’d come to care about the mare in the relatively short time that they’d been traveling together... of course, she couldn’t exactly remember how many days it had been. Was it a week? More? Less? Sarah didn’t care. What she cared about was that her best friend was currently unconscious and there was seemingly nothing she could do about it.

“Damnit, you’d better be okay Luna,” Sarah muttered fiercely as she stared down at Luna. “If you’re not... then I’m going to be all alone and I don’t know if I can do it.”

Luna, as expected, didn’t respond.

Sarah let out a sigh and maneuvered herself so that Luna’s head was resting across her lap so that she could pet her easier. She spent twenty minutes like that, Luna’s head cradled in her lap until she leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes for a moment.

“Luna, if you can hear me... and even if you can’t... I want you to know that you’re my best friend,” Sarah said quietly, her hand gently moving among Luna’s starry mane, “And that no matter what happens... I won’t abandon you. Not ever,” she continued more intensely, “I swear to God.”

The woman looked down in surprise as she felt a wetness begin to spread from her lap, Luna’s eyes were open, and tears were streaming down her face.

“Luna!” Sarah shouted with a relieved smile as she leaned forwards and pulled the mare’s head into her chest, “You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay,” she repeated several dozen times as Luna wept into her shirt.

“Sarah...” Luna murmured, looking up at Sarah’s face with a sad look in her eyes as her muzzle rested between something soft.

“Shhh,” Sarah said softly as she stroked the back of Luna’s neck, “You’re okay, you’re okay you’re OKAY!”

“As much as I appreciate this moment... I’m having trouble breathing,” Luna muttered, from her place on Sarah’s chest.

Sarah’s eyes widened in surprise, and she released the alicorn’s head. Luna took in a deep breath before she turned to Sarah. Sarah noticed that there were still tears in her eyes. “I... thank you,” the alicorn told her before she rose up on the bed a little and then threw herself on Sarah, curling her forelegs around the woman’s back and wrapping her wings around them. Then the real grief began.

Luna buried her muzzle into Sarah’s neck and began to weep, her tears falling like a torrential downpour. Sarah bore it for several minutes, making comforting noises and gently patting the side of Luna’s neck before she was finally forced to push Luna off of her chest. Luna resisted for a moment before conceding as she realized she was in danger of squishing her friend beneath her bulk.

“I... I’m sorry, Sarah,” Luna said between frantic inhales as she stared down at Sarah, “I... just couldn’t control myself.”

“It’s... alright,” Sarah replied, as she regained her breath. She reached up to gently reach up and ran slowly her hand down the back of Luna’s neck, “In the future... just try and give me a little warning before you do that.”

“I will,” Luna said as she bit her bottom lip, “Thank you for being so understanding of me... I do not deserve it.”

“Of course you do,” Sarah said with a small smile, “You’re my best friend, I’d do anything for you. One hug’s not going to kill me.”

“I... thank you, Sarah,” Luna said in a soft voice before she shuddered a little, “You’re... my best friend too.”

Sarah smiled, “So... do you think you can you know... stop leaning over me like this?” the woman asked her a little awkwardly. Luna blushed as she realized that she was, for all intents and purposes, stradling Sarah’s waist.

“Right... sorry Sarah,” Luna said, shaking her head as she carefully removed herself and curled up beside the woman.

“So... what happened?” Sarah asked her quietly.

“I... I was back in Equestria,” Luna said quietly. “And there was fighting...”

“Okay...” Sarah said as she moved a hand over to gently stroke Luna’s mane, “Go on.”

“It... it was my sister,” Luna explained, “She... she was so very angry... I... I haven’t seen her so infuriated in a long time.” She paused and shuddered as memories flew through her mind. “And then... I saw who she was fighting... and why.”

“What do you mean?” Sarah asked, still stroking.

“She was fighting an evil depraved creature named Xanthos,” the mare continued, shuddering as she said the name. “He... he wanted to use me... in every sense of the word... to take over Equestria.”

“And your sister was fighting for the country?” Sarah inquired.

“At first she was...” Luna trailed off and turned away from Sarah. “But then she discovered what his spell was intended to do... she flew into a rage that made her previous anger look like a candle’s flame compared to the sun itself.”

“That’s good though, right?” the woman stated.

“I... yes,” Luna said with a sigh.

“Then why do you sound so... down about it?” Sarah asked her.

“Because I do not deserve it,” Luna stated.

“Not deserve it,” Sarah said with a puzzled expression as she looked down sharply at Luna. “She’s your sister, of course you deserve it.”

“But I do not,” Luna replied softly, “I see now that I have put her through so much pain, so much torment, so much struggle... all so that I could feel more ‘loved’.”

Sarah frowned at her. “Luna, stop it,” she said.

“No, really Sarah,” Luna said, still looking away, “I do not deserve my sister’s love after what I did. I lost that right.”

“Luna, I said stop it!” Sarah exclaimed, her voice becoming more heated.

“I split our country asunder all for my own selfish desires,” Luna continued, not seeming to hear Sarah. “Due to my actions my only friend Clover was forced to banish me and I lead hundreds if not thousands to their deaths,” Luna was crying again, “I do not deserve loyalty, I do not deserve friends, I do not deserve love!” the alicorn wailed.

“Dammit!” Sarah suddenly exploded, finally attracting Luna’s attention, “I said STOP IT!”

Luna looked at her with wide eyes, “But I am a wretche–”

“NO!” Sarah exclaimed angrily, “No more!”

“It is true!” Luna shouted at her, “Because of my actions, thousands have died and maybe thousands more who I did not know about!”

“I don’t care!” Sarah shouted back.

“I have caused my sister pain beyond imagining and suffering too great to for anypony to bear!” Luna roared at her

“AND I DON’T CARE!” Sarah roared back, “I’d be dead by now without you, Luna! You’re my only real friend out here, and I’m not going to let you beat yourself up over something you did in the past!”

“It was not the past!” Luna yelled. “It is happening right now as we speak!”

“And I still don’t care!” Sarah growled, “Like I said, you’re my friend. Without you here protecting me, I’d probably have been raped by raiders by now!”

“But Sarah I-”

“So it doesn’t matter,” Sarah said firmly as she stared into Luna’s deep blue eyes, “All that matters is that my amazing, beautiful, intelligent, best friend is still here with me,” the woman told her forcefully, “And I’ll kill anyone who says that she’s not any of those things.”

“Sarah... you do not mean that,” Luna muttered.

“Yes, I do,” Sarah replied, her voice dripping with conviction, “If you weren’t here with me, I’d never have made it this far. Do you think I’d have been able to kill that Behemoth by myself?” A mirthless chuckle left Sarah’s lips, “Hell, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get through the Super Duper Mart if I hadn’t bumped into you!”

Luna stared at her. She’s lying, Nightmare whispered, She has to be lying! She’s just trying to make us feel better!

“You’re lying... trying to make me feel better,” Luna said dourly, turning away from Sarah.


Mule?!” Luna started at the word, the insult finally cracking her shell of self loathing, She turned to glare at Sarah. “I AM AN ALICORN!”


“BUT I AM!” Luna protested.

“NO YOU’RE FUCKING NOT!” The woman shouted before lowering her voice slightly, though she was still yelling, “Listen to me Luna, you’re acting like I did when I was an angsty little teenager! It’s fucking pathetic!”

Luna stared at her, unable to gather a response.

“Waaah me, waaah my sister, waaah I’m an awful pony! Just listen to me for five fucking minutes and see yourself for something other than just a failure!” Sarah shouted, “I mean... just please, please stop it,” the woman said, her voice lowering as she began to sniffle, “It hurts me seeing you like this.”

Luna continued to stare at her.

“So... please... just listen to me and stop saying that you’re a failure... alright?” Sarah asked her. Tears were beginning to form in her eyes, both because seeing Luna that way hurt, and because her throat felt like it had been rubbed raw with sandpaper because of all the yelling.

Luna stared for a second more before she locked eyes with Sarah. “I... will...” she trailed off for a moment and then lifted her head, “I... thank you Sarah,” she said before she leaned up a bit farther and before Sarah realized what was going on, the alicorn was kissing her.

The woman’s eyes shot open in surprise as the alicorn’s smooth lips met hers, but she didn’t fight it. The pair stayed locked like that for a moment, neither of them were very graceful. In the end, it was Luna who pulled away and looked worriedly down at the woman below her.

“I... I’m sorry,” she said, a scarlet blush tinting her face, “I... just... I’m sorry.”

“Um,” Sarah said blankly, her voice still raspy, “Did you just kiss me?” she asked, rather stunned.

“I... yes,” Luna admitted, looking away, “I... I’m so-”

Luna was interrupted as Sarah’s hand reached up and brought her head back to face her before she planted a kiss of her own on Luna’s lips. She held it for a long moment, her lips hot and insistent, before she finally released Luna.

“Don’t be,” Sarah told her with a soft smile.


“Sarah...” Luna trailed off.

“Yes?” the woman asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I... I didn’t know you felt that way,” Luna said slowly. “I... didn’t think you would want to, especially after what your robot said.”

“Well... strictly speaking... neither did I,” Sarah replied with a small blush. “Or... I didn’t think of it I guess... it’s not a bad thought though.”

“It isn’t?” Luna asked softly.

“I did just kiss you, didn’t I?” Sarah asked her, a small grin on her face.

“I... suppose you did,” Luna replied as her lips began to turn up into a smile, “Would you... care to do so again?”

“Hmm...” Sarah said as she looked down at her Pip-Boy for a moment before looking back at Luna, “I think so, yeah.”

Sarah planted her lips on Luna’s, the softness of each colliding with each other as they began to kiss. Both parties began to blush heavily as heat rose to both of their faces. Sarah pulled Luna closer and pressed their bodies together, the warmth of Luna comforting to her within the cold bedroom.

Sarah eventually pulled away from the kiss, her face red with nervousness and excitement. “Uhm... I’m going to be honest, Luna... I’ve never really done something like this before...”

Luna breathed heavily, “Then we are in the same boat... This is a very new experience for me, as well.”

“Well, heh... That’s reassuring,” Sarah smiled and kissed Luna again. However, Luna took a bit more control and began sliding her large tongue into Sarah’s mouth.

Surprised and confused, Sarah decided to welcome the invading tongue into her mouth. Her small tongue collided against Luna’s velvety one, which eventually ensnared her own and held control over her mouth. Not wanting to give up control, Luna pushed Sarah further back into the bed and pulled out of the kiss, smiling softly.

“I think it would be best if you are comfortable, would you not agree?” Luna asked.

“Heh... U-uhm... S-sure,” Sarah chuckled nervously as she adjusted her position on the bed, looking up at Luna.

Luna’s mane seemed to shimmer more than usual. The small galaxies that flowed within flashed wildly as her flowing mane swam in the sea of non-existent wind. Sarah was taken aback by Luna’s hypnotic beauty. It made her want Luna with a burning hunger. Even her body was responding to this her loins tingling as a rush of adrenaline and ecstasy pumped itself into her brain.

“I know we’re, uh... Both new to this, so... Just stop if I say so, okay?” Sarah asked quietly.

“The same is for me, then,” Luna’s horn flared its blue aura as it surrounded the small zipper on Sarah’s jumpsuit.

The zipper was gently pulled downwards, slowly unveiling Sarah’s pale skin. It started with her chest, partially revealing her average sized breasts just enough for her nipples to be perfectly concealed. As the zipper went downwards, Luna saw Sarah’s toned stomach. It was smooth and looked soft to the touch, yet filled with the muscle of a warrior. The zipper stopped just above Sarah’s groin.

“You look...” Luna stopped for a moment, trying to think of the right words.

“I know, I’m not that appealing, heh...” Sarah said humbly.

“No, far from that,” Luna corrected, “You look beautiful, is what I should say.”

Sarah blushed, “Thanks, Luna. You look beautiful yourself.”

Luna leaned down into Sarah again, placing her hooves at each side of her, and began kissing her again. Sarah wrapped her arms around Luna’s neck and brought her in close as they continued. Her jumpsuit slowly began slipping off of her shoulders and slid down her arms before leaving her torso uncovered.

Luna pulled away from Sarah’s lips and hungrily dug herself into Sarah’s neck. Sarah softly yelped at the sudden change but began letting out soft sighs as the smooth lips slid across her tender neck.

“L-Luna...” Sarah softly moaned, her loins on fire with excitement.

You are doing well... Nightmare spoke softly in the back of Luna’s mind. I do not know where these feelings of yours came from, but if you wish to please her properly then make sure to follow what I have to say. I have more knowledge of this than you do, and I want to please and be pleased properly!

... As you wish. Luna said, trying to focus on easing her way down Sarah’s chest, kissing her warm breasts smoothly before moving to her stomach.

Her tongue gently poked out of her mouth and onto the surface of Sarah’s stomach. Her tongue circled around Sarah’s belly button before gently prodding it, causing Sarah to giggle in response.

“L-Luna! That tickles, you know!” Sarah laughed softly.

Luna smiled and pulled away from her belly button, moving downward to rest on her haunches with her face hovering over Sara’s crotch.

Remove the rest of her clothing. Obviously her marehood is there. Nightmare spoke softly.

Luna obliged the request, her horn flaring up and gently surrounding the sides of Sarah’s jumpsuit, pulling it down the woman’s legs and revealing her vagina. She looked up at Sarah, who was smiling nervously, before looking at it.

“I... I will try my best to please you, Sarah. This... Looks different to mine and like I have said... I have never been sexually pleasured before,” Luna explained.

“I-it’s fine, Luna... Pretty sure I’ll be the same. Just sort of... Don’t know... Use your tongue?” Sarah suggested.

Yes, that is what you should do. Get a feel for it at least. Nightmare added.

Luna nodded, to both Sarah and Nightmare, and pushed her muzzle forward and into Sarah’s crotch. Her tongue gently slid out of her mouth and began prodding against Sarah’s outer walls. Sarah squeaked as her tongue softly lined the slit, but, not much more of a response was given.

Spread her legs. Nightmare commanded.

Luna did as she was told and pushed Sarah’s legs outward. Sarah’s slit gently opened for Luna’s tongue and she began licking it again. Her velvety tongue drifted over Sarah’s folds, slowly and softly tracing them up and down in a vague attempt to please her.

Sarah began letting out soft moans, her hands gently squeezing the thin bedsheets, “Jesus Christ... Th-this is different.”

Good. That is what we wanted. Push in deeper.

Luna’s large tongue dug deep into Sarah’s crevice, rubbing against the smooth and wet surfaces inside. Her nose was pressed firmly into Sarah’s crotch, the smell of sweat and ecstasy rushing to her nostrils as she tried to get the woman off.

Sarah was letting off more moans, placing a hand on the back of Luna’s head and nearly suffocating the mare with her crotch. Sarah’s heart raced rapidly as adrenaline flowed through her body. Her entire lower body was succumbing to an entirely new feeling her legs going numb and her stomach churning with delight.

We are not pleasing her enough. Use your magic.

Luna stopped for a moment. What?

Use your magic, you imbecile. Try and please her with it.

“Nrnn.. Luna, why’d you stop?” Sarah questioned from above.

Yes, but how? It is not exactly easy to figure this thing out. Luna idly continued eating Sarah out as she conversed with Nightmare.

Uhg. You see the little pink nub there? Nightmare asked, forcefully moving Luna’s eyes to a small flesh like button.

I see it. Luna said.

Yes. Use your telekinesis to cause vibrations. Nightmare ordered.

Luna’s horn lit up, as her aura surrounded the small pink nub hidden slightly by Sarah’s folds. As she surrounded it, her aura vibrated softly, causing Sarah to moan loudly in response.

“Oh sweet Jesus, Luna!” Sarah wrapped her legs around Luna’s neck, arching her back in pure bliss.

Luna was happy with her progress as she continued to eat out Sarah. However, her own marehood began to scream for attention. She could feel her stomach churn with excitement and her loins heat up with ecstasy.

W-what is this feeling? Luna asked Nightmare.

It is your body telling you you need to be pleased. Use your hoof on yourself, or your magic. Nightmare explained.

Luna adjusted her rear as she slid a hoof to her marehood and began to rub away. Her pleading loins shot a bolt of pure pleasure through her body as they were finally greeted with attention. She softly moaned into Sarah’s pussy, only forcing out more moans from Sarah herself.

Sarah felt her entire lower shake, as her brain went wild with excitement. A tingling feeling was bouncing around inside her as if she had to use the bathroom and she became unable to hold it back.

“L-Lunaaa!” Sarah screamed as she let off one last moan her back arching to the point of cracking and collapsed on the bed.

Stop now. she has been pleased, Nightmare said, It is now her turn to please us!

Luna pulled away from Sarah’s crotch and allowed her magic to fade. Her muzzle was covered in saliva and whatever had come out of Sarah’s vagina. Luna’s eyes looked up at Sarah and smiled.

“I assume it was most enjoyable?” Luna asked.

“Ye... Ye-yeah...” Sarah softly sighed. “I-I guess I owe you now, huh?”

“It would only be fair if you returned the favour,” Luna smiled and stood up, towering over Sarah once more.

“Heh... Well, uhm...” Sarah blushed heavily as she sat up on the bed. “Show me it, I guess?”

“Well, I

Go on. Show her. Nightmare interrupted.

Luna’s face turned scarlet as she turned around for Sarah, her shimmering tail covering her rear from prying eyes. Slowly, Luna’s tail moved out of the way to reveal Luna’s dark marehood. It was glazed over by a clear liquid, and a large pink nub was sliding in and out of the inner folds.

“Well, definitely different from mine.” Sarah joked, moving closer to Luna’s rear.

“Yes... It i

Sarah quickly slapped both her hands on Luna’s flanks, causing her to yelp loudly. Sarah giggled as she smoothly glided her hands against Luna’s cutie marks.

Be delicate! Our body is not a toy, you

Be quiet... I rather enjoyed it. Luna smirked internally.

Sarah’s hands massaged Luna’s flanks thoroughly, softly squeezing them as her eyes stared forward and focused on the foreign marehood. She moved her hands closer to Luna’s rear and continued her massage.

“Uhm... So... I just lick it, I guess?” Sarah asked.

Ask her to use her fingers... Would be more enjoyable if she did both, too.

“Yes, it would seem so. But, Sarah... May you, perhaps, use your fingers?” Luna asked politely, her face still scarlet red.

“Yeah, I guess...” Sarah placed her face right up to Luna’s crotch.

Much like Luna, Sarah could smell the pleasing scents of sweat and excitement coming out of the mare’s privates. She found it alluring, and she moved closer to plant soft kisses on the outer walls of Luna’s vagina. She softly kissed up and down the long slit, before sticking her tongue out and licking instead. Bringing one of her hands to Luna’s marehood, she gently spread it open and prodded her fingers inside, wiggling them around the moist innards and pushing them in as far as possible. Luna let off moans as Sarah pushed further inside until her fingers stopped.

“A-ah~... S-Sarah...” Luna moaned softly.

Sarah smiled and began thrusting her fingers in and out of Luna’s vagina. Soft squelching emanated from the marehood each time she pushed in and, for some reason, this satisfied Sarah. As her fingers did their job, she began to lick Luna’s outer walls, gliding it up and down the length of the slit before settling on the pink nub. Her tongue smoothly slid across the fleshy surface, causing Luna to scream with delight.

“O-oohh, Sarah!~” Luna’s front half collapsed onto the soft bed, which pushed her rear further into Sarah’s face.

Sarah’s nose was now covered in Luna’s juices. The smell and taste of sweat was clogging her senses. It drove her wild. She continued to lap away at the love button, her fingers moving in and out of Luna’s wet hole faster and faster, as she pleasured the mare. Her free hand moved to the nub, however, and she used her thumb to help her tiring tongue.

Nyah!~ Nightmare was losing her senses, overcome by the rush of sexual pleasure, Th-this... Why don’t our subjectsss... Mmm... Treat us this way?!

Luna wanted to agree, but was losing herself in the constant tingling from her vagina. Her wings were clenched against the side of her body in arousal and her horn began to go wild, sparks flinging out its tip like a sparkler. Her mind was racing to deal with this rush of new feelings, but her body wanted release. She couldn’t hold back any longer, and let out one last primal scream before pulling herself away from Sarah and collapsing on the floor.


Sarah and Luna lay beside each other on the bed, equally exhausted.

“That was...” Sarah began slowly as she leaned into Luna’s soft fur.

“Amazing?” Luna asked, looking down at Sarah with a small smile.

“I was going to say incredible actually,” Sarah said as she threaded a hand through Luna’s fur. “But amazing works too I guess.”

It was satisfactory, Nightmare agreed quietly, Though my expectations for next time are set significantly higher.

Luna chose to ignore that one, not wishing to ruin the moment.

“So... what does this make us?” Luna asked, her eyes taking a moment to once again examine Sarah’s alien, though highly attractive to her eyes, form.

“Hmm?” Sarah asked, looking up at her with a frown.

“I mean... are we still friends if we’re lovers or are we a couple or...?” Luna trailed off and shook her head, shuffling her wings a little. “Forget I asked, it is a stupid question.”

“No... not really,” Sarah replied, “I was kind of wondering too.”

Luna made a ‘hmming’ sound before she frowned, “What would you like us to be Sarah?”

Sarah frowned for a moment before she leaned up to give Luna a soft kiss. “Friends first and then lovers.”

Luna smiled and chuckled softly, “Aye, that works for me as well.”

Sarah lay there for a moment, her hands resting gently against Luna’s side as she leaned into the alicorn’s side. “You know... I just realized something,” she said before she began to chuckle.

“Oh? And what is it that you find so amusing?” Luna asked her with a raised eyebrow as she turned her head around to watch the naked woman laugh, it did interesting things to her body.

“Well, it’s just, and don’t take this the wrong way Luna, but you’re not exactly human,” Sarah said, still chuckling.

“Obviously,” Luna sated, raising an eyebrow slightly, not sure where the woman was going with it.

“Well, you see,” Sarah began, finally slowing down her chuckles. “My dad’s known that I’m a lesbian for a while now... I just can’t help but think of how he’ll take the news that I’m also the first real human xenophile.”

Luna frowned as she thought about it, “I don’t know, I do not know the man.”

Sarah chuckled, “Knowing my dad... I think it’ll be a deadpan ‘well, I wasn’t expecting grandchildren anyways’ kind of thing,” she said.

“You do not believe he will be hostile to us?” Luna, or maybe Nightmare, asked.

“No, I don’t think so... Dad’s supportive of me... Least, about this kind of thing,” Sarah sighed.

She’d lost most of the resentment towards her father while she listened to his holotape recordings in order to keep herself from having a hysteric breakdown when Luna had been... otherwise occupied. After all, she’d been hunting her father for answers.... and now that she had them (or most of them at any rate)... she found that she couldn’t be angry with him. Well... that wasn’t strictly true, he should’ve asked her to come with him, she was a freaking security officer after all... but she respected his choice all the same.

“Hmmm... well... I do hope so,” Luna said, “I... would not enjoy fighting your father over this.”

“I wouldn’t either,” Sarah agreed, “Still, I doubt it will be an issue,” she said before she gave Luna another kiss and then got out of the bed and began to put on her armour, “Anyways, as much as I would love spending the rest of the night lying in bed with you... we need to get going.”

“Indeed,” Luna agreed, rising from the bed and using her magic to pick up her armour, “Where are we going?”

“My dad was heading for a Vault so that he could look into the research of some prewar scientist,” Sarah explained while checking her combat shotgun to make sure that it was still working perfectly, “And luckily, he’s only about two days ahead of us according to his recordings so we might actually catch up to him this time.”

“Well, that makes good hearings,” Luna said with a small smile, “And then?”

Sarah frowned for a moment, “I... really don’t know to be honest. I guess we’ll just have to find something to do,” the woman stated with a shrug, “If nothing else we can always stick around and help my dad. Though I’m not sure how much use either of us are going to be here... I’m not a science girl.”

Luna nodded and then a small smile appeared on her face, “True, but at least you like to experiment.”

Sarah looked at her for a moment and then chuckled softly, “True enough,” she agreed, a grin on her face, “So, you ready to fly?”

“With you riding me?” Luna asked her mischievously.

“Who else?” the woman replied with a grin.

Wandering Moon Chapter 27: Wings of Insanity

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Edited by Narlepoax III

Sarah strung the water out of her hair with her fingers and let out a small sigh, technically, taking the shower beneath the faucet of Project Purity was a waste of time. In realty... she’d taken about ten steps down the hallway and decided that it was the number one priority. Luna, who was using the stall beside her, had agreed emphatically.

“What a bother,” Luna said from behind the slim divider, “I never realized how... dirty the act of making love makes you.”

“Me neither,” Sarah agreed, suppressing a shiver as the freezing cold water rained down on her.

“Still... I would consider it worth it, wouldn’t you?” Luna continued.

“Oh, definitely. It was... amazing,” Sarah said with a grin on her face which was quickly joined by a blush at the recent memories, “You almost done over there?”

“Indeed, we feel clean once more,” Luna replied as she stepped out from behind the shower divider and took the opportunity to look at Sarah, a smile appearing on her face.

“Like what you see?” Sarah asked her with a small chuckle as she reached for a towel that she’d had stored in her bag for God alone knows how long.

“I do,” Luna told her, the mare’s grin widening as she took a step forward and gave Sarah a light kiss.

Sarah met it for a moment before pulling away, not wanting to get too caught up and waste more of the valuable darkness. Luna pouted slightly, but backed up enough for Sarah to leave the stall all the same.

“So the plan is that you shall ride me until we come to the coordinates that have been inserted into your Pip-Boy, correct?” Luna inquired while she watched Sarah towel off.

“Yep, and with it being a little before midnight we should have plenty of time,” Sarah confirmed with a nod, “You’re up for that; right? I don’t want to push you too hard after... what happened to you.”

Luna shuffled her wings and they spread halfway and gave a flap, “Oh, do not worry about me,” she replied, “I am up for a bit of flying... if nothing else, it will help us clear our mind.”

“Great,” Sarah said with a grin as she walked by the mare and began to walk towards the room they’d stored their things in, “I wasn’t sure if you would be able to or not.”

“You shouldn’t worry,” Luna told her, “I am more than capable of flight... though I believe you should look into making some way to secure yourself to my back...” she added, giving Sarah a sidelong look as the two dressed.

“You think I’ll fall off?” the woman asked.

“More like I do not wish to be distracted by the need to avoid sending you careening towards the ground if we come under fire and I am forced to evade,” Luna answered calmly, pulling on her armour via magic, “Nor do I wish to rush headlong towards the ground in a hapless attempt to catch you if you happen to fall asleep while we’re flying,” she finished with a joking chuckle.

Truly, that is the type of thing which we have always disapproved of, Nightmare mentally commented, sounding uncharacteristically invested, We have seen the dreams of far too many pegasi parents who have feared for the lives of their children being brought low by such a fate.

Was that a note of affection I sensed? Luna asked her with a ‘raised eyebrow’.

No, not at all. We simply do not wish to experience it with someone we consider presciou-

Ah-ha! I knew I heard something! You like Sarah, admit it! Luna crowd.

We appreciate the way she makes us feel, nothing more, Nightmare replied snootily. Luna simply sent a feeling of smugness at her in response.

Sarah, who had been too busy pulling her armor on as well digging a few leather belts out of her bag to notice the lapse in conversation looked up to find Luna looking at her with a soft smile.

“So, are we ready?” the woman asked.

“Indeed,” Luna confirmed as she led the way up the stairs and they headed for the building’s exit, “I take it that the belts are to help you latch on?”

“Yes, I think I can do something with them,” Sarah replied while they stood before the exit door to the building, “Would you mind bending down so I can see if this will work?”

“But of course,” Luna agreed with a slight smirk as she bent down slightly.

Sarah frowned as she looked over Luna’s scavenged armour, the mare had not shaped it with the intents of it being used as a saddle, but she could make do. In a few short minutes she had prepared a harness of sorts and felt reasonably comfortable that it would hold er weight.

“And that should do it,” the woman said with a smile as she gently slapped Luna’s side and mounted her, “And just to make sure, you’re fine with night flights right?”

Luna let out a snort, “Sarah, we are the Princess of the Night.”

“Point taken,” Sarah said with a small blush.

She pulled the newly attached harness around her waist tight and fastened it. In the end she’d ended up creating a rudimentary harness that should keep her from falling or being thrown off of Luna’s back... of course, whether or not it would work was yet to be seen.

The blue alicorn took a running jump, causing Sarah to hold on tightly to her harness, and sprang into the air with a great flurry of flapping wings. Sarah let out a shriek, though whether it was out of surprise or excitement was unknowable. Luna quickly rose high into the sky, before leveling out.

“Sarah, I am in need of a direction,” she said over her shoulder as she flew in a slow circle.

“Oh, right. Sorry Luna,” Sarah said as she looked down at her wrist mounted computer, “Okay... head north-north-west and keep at it for I’d say about three hours.”

Luna nodded and turned to the north-north-west while Sarah leaned into the back of her neck, resting against the soft fur. They stayed silent like that for a time, Luna concentrating on flying and keeping their course straight as Sarah took the time to look down at the Wasteland below them. It was not slumbering.

She could make out the flashes of gun and occasionally laser fire crisscrossing the streets below them as raiders fought mutants who both fought the Brotherhood. Sarah frowned down at them... the Wasteland was more of a war zone then it’s name implied. The word Wasteland described a place without life, but that wasn’t what played out below here. There was life down there... the problem was that it was all focused on killing itself. What did that really say about it?

Sarah sighed and turned away, she wasn’t a philosopher and probably shouldn’t try her hand at thoughts like that. They hurt her head. It was then that she realized just how tired she was. Sure, she hadn’t really done much for most of the day other than flying on Luna’s back and worrying about the mare... but somehow the time she’d spent doing that had exhausted her.

“Hey, Luna,” Sarah said, tapping the mare’s neck slightly.

“Yes Sarah?” Luna asked, turning her head slightly so that she could look the woman in the eyes.

“I’m going to try and get some sleep,” the woman announced, “Do you mind?”

“No, go right ahead. I shall wake you after three hours and we shall consult your map to see how much further we have to go,” Luna told her kindly, “Just make sure that harness is tight; alright?”

Sarah gave it a quick tug and then said, “It’s good,” She then leaned her face into the back of Luna’s neck, her starry mane playing softly across her cheek like a blanket. The woman’s eyes drooped despite the uncomfortableness of the position she was too tired and Luna’s fur was too soft for her to resist sleep’s call.

Luna continued flying for several minutes before Nightmare suddenly said.

We... are happy, she announced.

Do you mean you are... or we are? Luna inquired puzzledly.

We mean that for possibly the first time in our existence... we are happy, Nightmare replied. It... is hard to understand, yet ever since we were birthed from our mind we have never truly felt happy. Even as we rained death on our enemies, we only felt satisfaction... not happiness.

Well... one of our main goals was to be loved, was it not? Luna replied as her perfect night vision observed a group of raiders eating someone.... she turned away quickly, And despite the circumstances of this land... we have found that here, in Sarah.

True... Nightmare agreed quietly, She has become very important to us. Despite our best efforts.

Indeed she has, Luna said, unable to keep a small smile off of her face, Now then... we have some time to ourselves... shall we discuss Equestria?

We suppose... what we saw and witnessed does need some form of addressing outside of you weeping and screaming about it, Nightmare replied, her voice losing its momentary affection and becoming once more a bit harsh.

Luna sent a mental snort at her but Nightmare ignored it and pressed onwards.

When we return what are we to do? Nightmare asked. Are we to lay down our dreams of being Queen and once more become subservient to our sister?

No, Luna stated firmly, We will ask for her respect and her love. We will both be queens.

That sounds workable, Nightmare agreed, Considering the great deal of emotion and pain she was obviously feeling and the withstraint she showed in order to create a peaceful world for us... well... it was commendable. She remained silent for a moment before adding, But what if it doesn’t work? What if she truly refuses to give us our proper title and our little ponies continue to hate us?

Then... we will leave.


We will leave and find a new place. Build a new kingdom, Luna stated, We will not cause our sister to suffer so again. We will gather those who support us and we shall leave to settle anew.

Just... leave? Give up? Nightmare asked, still caught so off guard by the suggestion that she could not even muster up any anger at it.


We... but where would we go? Nightmare pondered. Most of the world has been claimed in some form of another.

I seem to recall a group of islands that Discord raised from the sea which were still unoccupied when we were sent here... perhaps when we return they will still be available? Luna replied with a small mental frown. Regardless... I will not hurt Tia again. Ever. The resolve in her voice was strong enough to make Nightmare flinch slightly.

Very well then... perhaps it will not even come to that, Nightmare suggested, rallying herself, If the pain our sister suffered was truly that immense then she might simply give us the title of Queen.

That is my hope, Luna agreed before she let out a mental sigh, Nightmare... I have a question for you.

Hmm? What’s that? Nightmare replied with a frown.

You are a part of my mind, are you not? Luna asked.

You know this to be true, we do not see why you feel the need to ask, Nightmare replied.

Well... I was just wondering... you are your own mare in a sense... would you mind greatly if I gave you a nickname of some sort? Luna inquired, I mean no disrespect to your current title... but... Nightmare is far too sinister for my tastes.

Nightmare was silent for a long moment before she slowly replied.

Nightmare was never a name for us... it was a title. We were formed out of your need for a companion who understood you and the things you longed for. We took Nightmare as a ‘name’ so that we could spite those who hated us, she said slowly, What... would you prefer to call us?

Would you object to Nightie? Luna inquired.

Far too playful, we refuse to be addressed as such, Nightmare replied flatly.

Hmm... what about Dream?

Too whimsical, Nightmare replied flatly. If we were but a dream then we would not exist.

Luna chose not to point out that a nightmare was by and large considered a type of dream...

Drat, this is far harder than I thought it would be, Luna said with an internal growl of irritation.

If we might volunteer a suggestion? Nightmare spoke up.

Hmm? Go ahead, Luna replied.

Perhaps something simple and short, Nightmare said, One syllable.

Hmm... Night?

Far too obvious.


No, fool, Nightmare said, truly scolding her for such a stupid thought. You wished to give us a name yet you cannot even come up with a good one!

At least I am trying, Luna replied irritably before a thought struck her. Why not Nim? It combines both parts of your ‘title’ and is easy to say.

Nightmare remained silent for a time before she cautiously said, I... like it. I shall be called Nim from this point onwards!

Huzzah! Luna cheered before a thought struck her, Hey Nim... I’m having a conversation with a portion of my personality which now has a true name... does that mean that I am insane?

You’re asking us? Night-Nim asked in return, Personally we would rather not think too hard on it. There could be negative repercussions.

That’s... a very good point Nigh– Nim, Luna said with a small nod as she flew a bit to the right to avoid the shine of a spotlight which was somehow still functioning.

All of our points are good ones, Nim replied pointedly.

Luna frowned slightly, but put the thoughts out of her head. The last thing she needed now was to go through a mental breakdown. She flew on for a bit longer in silence as Sarah’s hot and steady breath played across the back of her neck, it was a surprisingly comforting feeling, one the mare had never truly appreciated before.

After around three hours, even she couldn’t be exactly sure with the sky as cloudy as it was at the moment she turned her head back and gently nuzzled Sarah awake.

“I-hwa?” Sarah asked, shaking her head in surprise at the intrusive muzzle’s sudden touch. Then her eyes widened as she remembered where she was, “Oh... hi Luna.”

“Hello Sarah,” Luna replied with a quiet laugh. “It has been approximately three hours since you went to sleep.”

Sarah let out a loud yawn and looked around for a moment, trying to clear her head. “Man... I’m going to need a longer sleep after this,” the woman said.

“I’m sure you will have plenty of time for that later,” Luna said, “Once we find your father things should proceed smoothly.”

“Yeah, I... can’t wait to see him again,” Sarah said slowly, “If nothing else... we can just talk.”

“Indeed,” Luna agreed with a slim smile, “I look forward to meeting him. And if he is the way he is in your nightmares, scolding him. Painfully.”

“He... isn’t,” Sarah replied, shaking her head, “My brain just does stupid things sometimes.”

“Like any time it has numbers put before it?” Luna snarked with a smirk.

“Oh screw you,” Sarah snorted.

“Don’t tempt me,” the alicorn stated, her smirk widening. Sarah’s face flushed and Luna just chuckled.

“Maybe later,” Sarah said softly, still not completely used to the idea. Then she looked down at her Pip-Boy, “Alright, we’re here. Take us down Luna,” she commanded.

“What are you, Captain of the HMS Luna?” Luna asked her snarkily.

Sarah just shook her head as Luna began to slowly descend from the sky. They came to a stop in front of a garage of some kind.

“Well... he said it was hidden in his log,” Sarah said as she looked at the garage.

Luna simply shrugged and gestured towards the door. Sarah unbuckled herself and dismounted Luna. She walked towards the door and tried to open it. However it was apparently locked.

“Hmm...” Sarah mused as she looked at it, “I wonder who locked it?”

“Your father perhaps?” Luna inquired with a small shrug, “Whatever the case, shall I open it or shall you?”

“You can take i-” Sarah was cut off in mid sentence by a surprised shout.

“Holy fuck! It’s them!” A male voice suddenly shouted.

The pair turned to see four Talon Company Mercenaries approaching them, weapons drawn.

“I can’t believe you were right!” one of them shouted to the other.

“Fuck yes, I’m always right!” another replied as he raised a laser rifle up to aim at the pair, “You two lovely ladies are dying today.”

Luna looked over at Sarah, a completely confused look on her face.

This was why we flew! Nim shouted within Luna’s head.

“How... how in the hell did you find us?” Sarah asked, temporarily too stunned to do anything but gawk.

“I guessed,” the one with the laser rifle answered with a smirk.

“You threw a dart at a board!” the first exclaimed.

“It worked, didn’t it?” the second replied.

"Would you two stop arguing and just kill them?” one, the sole woman in the group asked with an irritated grunt. It was hard to be a woman in Talon Company... most of the men were either idiots or intolerable. And they were all sexist pigs.

“Fine,” the second one said with a shake of his head. He raised his laser rifle to aim at Sarah. “Well, I hope you like ash bitch, cause you’re about to be–”

“Enemies sighted,” a robotic voice announced loudly.

“The fu–” the dart throwing mercenary was obscured by an explosion, sending a plume of dirt and blood flying.

“We killed that thing already!” the woman shouted as she and her squad turned to face down a black armoured robot.

Sarah and Luna, who had stood dumbstruck for a moment turned to each other and shrugged, turning back to the door.

“So... shall we?” Sarah asked.

"Of course,” Luna agreed before she turned on her front hooves and bucked the door with her rear hooves. The metal dented and the door slid open on creaky hinges. Sarah raised an eyebrow and looked at Luna’s hips with new appreciation.

“I thought you’d cut through it with the sword...” Sarah said with a small whistle.

“It’s unkillable–”

“I had thought of doing that as well,” Luna agreed before walking forwards and through the door, “Then I decided otherwise.”

Sarah shrugged and followed the mare through, hoping that she’d finally find her father within. Meanwhile, the Talon Mercs died screaming.

Wandering Moon Chapter 28: The Automated Tomb

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Edited by Narlepoax III

As the pair walked inside and shut the door (as far as it would) behind them the sounds of battle faded from their hearing. Sarah frowned... that was odd, there were missiles being shot out there... the apparently thin walls shouldn’t have obscured the noise that much.

“These walls must be soundproofed,” Sarah said as she looked around the boring garage.

“I suppose that makes sense,” Luna agreed with a small shrug as she took the initiative and walked forwards, quickly scanning the entryway, finding not much besides a soda machine and a row of cabinets piled high with junk.

“Now... if I was a prewar scientist where would I hide a Vault...” Sarah asked as she looked around the room for a moment, quickly discovering nothing of any interest.

“Perhaps through here?” Luna inquired, nodding towards the doorway.

“Ah, right,” Sarah agreed, walking towards it.

Just as she was about to cross the threshold the woman was thrown on her back, a giant, naked, pink, molerat bearing down at her. It’s large pointy teeth mere inches away from her throat. Sarah had been caught so completely by surprise that she stared at it in stunned terror (or just shock) as it prepared to bite down on her neck.

“DIE!” Luna’s roar filled the room and the molerat was suddenly lifted off of Sarah and thrown bodily against the far wall.

It slouched for a moment before regaining its feet and charging at the still grounded woman. However as it was in mid leap, Daybreaker’s silver shaft slashed through its neck. The head went one way and the body in another, blood splashing down on Sarah.

“Sarah! Are you okay?!” Luna asked as she galloped over to the woman who was shaking her head.

“I... I’m fine Luna,” she said, pushing the worried muzzle away from her face slightly, “The bastard just caught me by surprise.”

“You must be more careful in the future!” Luna exclaimed, still worried about the woman, “What if it had been something bigger?”

“I’m fine, like I said,” Sarah told her, “I’m still a bit tired... that’s all.”

“Perhaps we should take a rest now then,” Luna pressed.

“No,” Sarah said sternly as she got to her feet, “We’re going to find my father here. That’s the priority. I can sleep once we’ve found him.”

Luna looked at her with a frown.

Why does she insist on this? Luna asked Nim anxiously.

She is driven, obviously, Nim replied with a small mental shrug, We have worked through worse with less sleep.

But we are an alicorn, we can afford such a thing! Luna replied indignantly.

“Luna, you in there?” Sarah’s voice suddenly intruded.

Luna blinked twice and focused her gaze on Sarah, “Yes, I’m here,” she said with a small nod.

“Good... I thought you were about to break down again,” Sarah said, fixing her with a worried frown.

“No, no,” Luna replied, shaking her head, “Nim and I were just having a conversation.”

“Nim... the other ‘you’ in your head?” Sarah asked as the pair began to move forwards into the garage’s other room.

“Indeed,” Luna answered, “She was called Nightmare before, but we have decided that Nim is a much more fitting name.”

“Well, it’s less threatening at the very least,” Sarah informed her with a small chuckle. “Kind of cute too.”

“We are not cute!” Luna exclaimed, sounding outraged.

Sarah turned to look at her and found that Luna’s eyes looked a bit more... catlike than usual.

“Really?” Sarah asked as she took a small step back, a slight smirk on her face, “‘Cause you look pretty cute to me, Nim.”

Luna/Nim stared at her for a moment before a scarlet blush rolled across her cheeks, “Curse you Sarah... we are not cute. We are fearsome!”

“Hmm... na,” Sarah replied with a small smile as she stepped forwards again and placed a soft kiss on Luna’s lips, “I’m thinking... cute.”

“We... had things we were supposed to be doing, did we not?” Luna asked, shuffling backwards a step.

“Yes, we did,” Sarah agreed before letting out a yawn as she began to survey the garage. She quickly spotted what looked like a pair of grate doors pulled over the ground, “Hmm... I think we have a winner. Think you can stab through those?”

Luna looked at the grates, her eyes appearing normal once more and nodded, “I can stab through it... but they are solid metal and it would not be overly conductive. Most likely I would just punch holes in it.”

“Alright then... we just have to find the right switch then,” Sarah said with a small shrug as she began to look around the garage once more. Luckily, it took her only a moment to find the large electric switch situated just above the trapdoor. She then flipped it up, causing the grates to rise up and then receded into the sides of the floor revealing a set of stairs.

“We shall go first,” Luna said as she began to walk down the stairs, sword drawn and at the ready.

Sarah followed a step behind her, shotgun barrel scanning back and forth. When a molerat tried to jump out of the shadows at them it was first bisected by the silver blade before a dozen pellets tore the remnants to bloody chunks.They continued down the stairs and down a metallic walkway before finally coming to a large and familiar door. Sarah frowned and walked up to it, quickly finding the door controls (which were strangely unlocked) and pushing them up.

With a great mechanical groaning the door began to open slowly and the woman stepped back beside Luna, her gun up, ready for anything. Nothing happened and the only sight that greeted them was an empty room.

“Hmm... I guess no one’s left alive in here,” Sarah murmured as she lowered her shotgun, “Let’s see if we can find my dad.”

“Right,” Luna said, the two began to move down the deserted metal corridors for several minutes before the mare added, “I feel as though I’m walking through a tomb of some kind.”

“Yeah... I’m having the same feeling...” Sarah agreed, having grown up in a Vault the feeling was disturbing.

After a little longer, they opened a door and to their combined surprise were confronted by the strangest robot either had ever seen.

It was... a cylindrical robot with a pair of floppy, tentacle-like arms that rode on tracks... however that wasn’t the strangest part.

Slotted into its head was... a brain.

Is that what I think it is? Luna asked, her stomach turning a bit queasy.

What foul trickery is this?! Nim demanded as they continued to eye the machine.

“Welcome to Vault 112 Resident and Pet! According to sensors you have arrived 202.3 years behind schedule,” it said in an incredibly bizarre voice. With every word its brain lit up. It then extended its arm to Sarah, “Please re-dress in your Vault-Tech issued Vault suit before proceeding.”

Sarah numbly accepted the suit while Luna bristled at being called a ‘pet’.

“We are not a pet!” Luna exclaimed angrily.

“We are sorry, pets cannot communicate,” the robot said simply before continuing onwards. “Once dressed, proceed down the stairs to the main floor so that you may enter your assigned Tranquility Lounger.”

It then turned on its treads and drove away.

“Was that... a robot with a brain?” Sarah asked incredulously.

“Yes... yes it was,” Luna nodded, her face still looking sickly.

“Well... I feel the need to barf now,” the woman said before shaking her head, “Come on Luna, let’s find my dad and get out of here.” She added as she began to walk down the corridor once more, the jumpsuit thrown casually over her shoulder.

Luna followed and they walked down a flight of stairs to find something even stranger on display. It was a window overlooking a room full of... pods. And within each pod Sarah and Luna could make out the shapes of a person.

“What in Equestria...” Luna said, mystified before she flinched. “They’re... they’re all dreaming.”

It was true, within each of the pods she could feel each and every one of the people dreaming. Though it was a very peculiar kind of dream. They were all... connected to one another and Luna was unable to access it. Then Luna’s face drained of color as she picked up on the feeling embodying the dream itself... it was.... horror. Pain. Terror.

“What?” Sarah asked.

“Those people... they’re all caught in a horrible nightmare,” Luna answered as her eyes narrowed, “Sarah, we must rescue them!”

Sarah frowned for a moment before she nodded. “Alright, let’s get down there then.”

She turned towards a set of stairs and the two ran down them, Luna being forced to duck her head or else risk hitting it against the ceiling.

They emerged among the pods and Sarah walked up to the nearest one. Her eyes widened upon seeing who sat within it. It was her father. James sat in a comfy looking seat, staring blankly at a screen, there were several dozen needles embedded in the sides of his neck and an obvious I.V. ran from its place on his arm.

“Dad!” Sarah shouted at him, her fist slamming against the side of the pod. Unfortunately her only reward was a shock of pain as it rebounded futilely off of it. “Dad...” Sarah repeated in a whisper, her goal of so long so close yet so far.

“Sarah... step away from there,” Luna said quietly as she gently put a wing on the woman’s shoulder and pulled her back slightly, “He can’t hear you.”

“But... he’s stuck in that pod and I can’t do anything!” Sarah exclaimed, suddenly irrationally angry.

“Be calm,” Luna commanded, “We will find a way to solve this Sarah. He is not dead.”

“I...alright,” the woman said with a small nod.

“Now, what did that damnable robot say again?” Luna inquired.

“Um... put on the jumpsuit and then enter a Lounger,” the woman said slowly as she scanned the room, her eyes quickly picked out the sole open lounger, “It looks like I’m doing this alone...” she added as she walked over to it and began to strip.

“We think not,” Luna said pointedly. “We will not allow you to risk your life in such a manner. We will accompany you,” she added as she watched Sarah uncover her curves.

“How?” Sarah asked, pulling her armour all the way off and quickly beginning to pull on the new jumpsuit.

A good question, Luna stated with a small frown as she continued to watch the woman dress.

It is at that, Nim agreed though her mind was slightly distracted by the sight before them.

Hmm... we could always simply travel inside the dream within her mind, Luna pointed out.

Would that work? Nim inquired, We do not think she is capable of bearing both of us at once. We are rather... strenuous a load for a single mind to encapsulate.

Together maybe... Luna replied slowly as an idea came to her, Nim... how would you say to escorting Sarah?

We... we do not know, Nim said with a small mental frown. The idea sounds rather appealing, yet we are unsure of how Sarah would feel about it.

Meanwhile Sarah had finished dressing and was looking at Luna with a small frown, unsure if she should intervene again. Thankfully, Luna spoke.

“Sarah, Nim and I have come to a solution,” she said in a measured voice, “However, we will only proceed with your consent.”

“Alright.... what did you have in mind?” Sarah asked, frowning a little.

“Nim has volunteered to travel within your mind and safe-guard it from whatever dangers you are about to encounter,” Luna explained, “In essence, you will be sharing your head with her.”

Sarah bit her bottom lip for a moment before nodding. “Okay... I can do that,” she said before smiling a little, “After all, she’s part of you isn’t she? I’d let you in my head Luna.”

Luna smiled and for just a moment, Sarah forgot where she was and all that mattered was the brilliant mare before her. Then the moment passed and Luna’s horn began to glow a bright blue.

“Now this may feel very strange but I want you to know that everything is perfectly fine,” the mare said as she stepped forwards, “I do not believe that you will feel any pain but if you do just hold on and bear it for however long it hurts.”

Sarah nodded. “I can take it,” she said with a smile, “Now hit me.”

Luna raised an eyebrow at her, but smiled as she gently touched her glowing horn to Sarah’s forehead. The woman’s eyes widened impulsively as a...strange feeling rippled through her mind. It was like... an icy river was flowing into it... filling pockets of ‘air’ that she hadn’t known existed before. Sarah’s veins filled with frost and she stood there frozen in place as Luna withdrew her horn.

“Sarah... are you alright?” Luna asked her softly.

Sarah’s head twitched in her direction and she held up a finger ‘wait’ it said.

Hello... a dark and mature voice spoke through her mind, Sarah? Are you capable of hearing us?

I... yes... this is... new, Sarah replied, her brows furrowed as she focused on ‘projecting’ the words through her mind.

Ah, good. And not like that. We are not deaf. You must simply think of the words and we will hear them, Nim told her informatively.

Like this? Sarah inquired.

Indeed, that is perfect, Nim agreed with a small mental nod (which Sarah found incredibly odd because she suddenly knew what it was like to have someone ‘nod’ within her own mind).

Good... I think, Sarah said with a small actual nod, So... how is this going to work?

We, as in both of us, are going to enter the pod and whatever it is that happens to you will also happen to us and we will be there to assist you in this endeavor while Luna remains out here to make sure that no harm comes to us, Nim explained.

Alright, Sarah said, her eyes trailing back to Luna, “I’m fine, Luna... it just took a moment to get used to having Nim in my head... it feels like my head is suddenly much heavier.”

“Ah, yes, I know the feeling,” Luna agreed, “I feel rather ‘light’ myself.”

“I’ll bet,” Sarah said before she turned back to the pod, “Well... I should probably get on with it... my dad’s not going to save himself.”

“Indeed,” Luna said. Sarah wavered for a moment before she stepped up to Luna, cupped her head in both hands, and brought her up for a long kiss.

Oooh... this feels interesting from in here, Nim commented as she felt the new sensations rolling over her.

Sarah ignored her and kept the kiss going for a few more seconds before she pulled away, a small line of spittle running down her chin. She wiped it away and blushed slightly.

“Um... just in case,” the woman told the alicorn.

“I know,” Luna replied with a soft smile as she looked at the woman, “Stay safe, Sarah. Keep her safe, Nim.”

“I will,” Sarah replied, smiling at her.

We will as well, Nim replied, Luna (who had the ability to hear her despite the fact that she was no longer in her head) nodded.

“Good,” Luna told them both, “I will see you both shortly I’m sure.”

Sarah gave her a small (shaky) nod, before she clambered into the open pod and sat down. Okay... how is this going to happen? she asked Nim, while the pod cover began to shut.

We believe that the needles will enter and then you will become like the others, Nim replied calmly and Sarah shivered out of reflex at the idea, Stay strong, Sarah.

I’m fine, the woman replied, her voice sounding anything but.

We swear, we will keep you safe, Nim assured her, Afterall, we do love you as much as Luna does... it would be unfortunate if anything were to happen to you.

Sarah’s eyebrows rose a little but she smiled, You do?

Yes... Nim answered slowly, as if what she had said had just occurred to her, We do.

Sarah was about to reply when she suddenly felt something peirce into the back of her neck and her head swam as she dimly felt a fluid being pumped into her. Then the screen in front of her flashed, the words ‘Tranquility Lane’ flashed before her eyes. She felt herself slipping away and just before she lost consciousness, she saw an old man’s face staring at her.

Wandering Moon Chapter 29: A Mad 'God'

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Edited by Narlepoax III

Sarah’s first conscious thought upon waking was:

Am I... high?

The world around her was... greyscale. There was no real color. The sky was grey, the roads were grey... everything was grey, black, or white. Spread out before her was... a picturesque neighborhood.

This was quickly followed by:

And where is that music coming from?

Inside her head there was a continuous music track playing. It was jaunty and upbeat... yet maddeningly repetitive.

Her last was:

Why do I feel so much smaller?

She felt as if she were a child again and her legs swayed gently as she sat on the wooden bench. Not only that, but there was a distinct lack of weight to her chest.

Before she could get the answers to any of those questions (and before Nim who was just recovering could answer) a man in a... sweatervest walked up to her.

“Hey there sweetie! Beautiful day, isn’t it?” he asked with a wide and jolly smile, “Say, you should go talk to Betty! She’s waiting for you over on the playground! Have fun sweetie!”

Sarah simply gaped at him.

“What... what is going on?” she asked him with wide eyes, “Is... this the nightmare?”

The man just chuckled. “Sounds like you’ve been spending too much time in those darn comic books of yours sweetie,” he told her with a jovial smile, “Now, really, you should go talk to Betty.”

Sarah, do not question it, Nim suddenly spoke from within her mind, This man has not the faintest idea what is really going on here. She too had noticed that her current ‘vessel’ was different than normal. For one, she was a child (an especially adorable one in Nim’s opinion). For another she was wearing a dress... that didn’t sit right with Nim, Sarah was not the type for dresses.

I... okay... was Sarah’s confused reply.

“You okay there, sweetie?” the man asked her with a smile.

“I-yes, I’m fine,” Sarah said, pinching the bridge of her nose. She hated things she didn’t understand. They always gave her migraines. It was one of the reasons why she’d never been very good at math.

“Well that’s good to hear,” the man said, “I’m George Neusbaun, by the way.”

“Sarah... Sarah Summers,” the wom-girl replied slowly.

“Well it was nice to meet you Sarah,” the man said with a chuckle before he walked away, leaving Sarah and Nim alone.

I... this is so weird! Sarah exclaimed.

Indeed, it is strange. But you need to remember: None of it is real, Nim told her authority, You are not a little girl. You are here to find your father and end the suffering of these people.

Right... you’re right, Sarah replied then frowned, They don’t really look like they’re suffering though...

That is because you cannot see in the right spectrum, Nim replied, We can though and each resident of this place is in pain.

Sarah nodded slowly before turning her head towards the playground. There she saw a girl watering some flowers. That must be ‘Betty’, she observed, I guess we should go talk to her.

For want of a better option, we agree, Nim said with a small growl of irritation. Unfortunately... we appear to be shackled here... our powers are not working as they should.

Sarah bit her bottom lip. That’s not good...

No, it really is not, Nim agreed sourly, How are we supposed to protect you if we cannot impact the world?

Moral support and advice? Sarah suggested as she got to her small feet and began to walk towards the playground, It’s like what you do for Luna.

We suppose... but Luna is much hardier than you, Nim said with a small mental frown, We worry that you may become injured.

A small smile touched Sarah’s face. Thanks Nim, but I think I’ll be fine... this place doesn’t really look very dangerous, she replied as she neared the girl with the watering can.

On the way, she was suddenly stopped as a large dog walked up to her, the girl raised an eyebrow slightly but held out a hand for it to snif. The dog sniffed her hand for a moment before letting out a happy bark and licking her hand a few times before looking up at her with hopeful eyes.

“You’re a good dog,” Sarah said with a small smile. She may never have owned a dog before, but she had read enough books with them to know what to say and do.

The dog barked again before sitting down and wagging his tail. Sarah patted him on the head and then walked past, the dog emitted a low whine, but Sarah was too busy studying the girl ahead of her to notice.

She looked like a normal girl with blonde/grey hair and a bow in her hair. She also wore a dress like Sarah’s and was currently whistling softly to herself. Swallowing a small lump in her throat as a feeling of unease settled across her, Sarah walked up.

“Hello, I’m Sarah,” she said.

“Oh, what luck! Someone new to play with!” the girl exclaimed, “What good luck I’ve had lately! I was just starting to get bored. Oh we’re going to have so much fun!”

Sarah stared at her for a moment before thinking ‘the hell with this’ and bluntly asking.

“My father. Where is he?”

“Gee, I don’t know, what’s he like?” the girl asked innocently.

Sarah’s eyebrows narrowed, she didn’t like this girl at all.

I sense great evil from this one, Nim mentally added.

“Look, I know he’s in here,” Sarah told the girl with a small growl entering into her voice, “This is all just some weird computer simulation.”

“You mean the man who came here is your daddy?” Betty asked, her eyes widening for a moment, “And you’re only here because you’re looking for him?” Then a wide smile spread across her face, “Oh this is just too much fun! We’re going to have SUCH a good time! Let’s play right now!”

Sarah’s teeth ground together. “No. Games. You’re going to tell me where my father is right now or I will kill you,” she told Betty flatly.

Sarah... I would advise caution, Nim silently told her.

The girl’s smile turned into a pout. “Oh don’t be mean, that’s no way to start,” Then her voice turned harsher, “I said, we’re going to play a game so that’s what we’re going to do!”

“Tell me where my father is!” Sarah growled at her, glaring at the girl.

“No,” the girl replied, “Not unless you play a game.”

As much as it pains me to say it Sarah... you must ‘play’ along, Nim intoned, I do not believe she will be helpful otherwise.

Sarah wanted to punch Betty which was odd, she was not an overly violent person, as far as she knew, but at the moment the feeling was so overwhelming that she almost subcomed to it. Then, with great effort she reeled back her emotions.

“Fine, you wanted to play a game?” she asked Betty.

“I knew you would,” the other girl said with a wide smile, “It’s a really simple game. All you have to do is make Timmy Neusbaum cry.”

Sarah stared at her blankly for a moment. “What kind of sick game is that?”

“It’ll be funny. Come on, you’ll see,” Betty told her with a small smirk, “Make him cry, and then come back here, and we’ll talk some more.”

The bile began to rise in Sarah’s throat but she held it back and stalked away.

I think we found our ‘nightmare’, she stated flatly, Though I don’t see what’s so ‘evil’ about making some kid cry. Petty though it may be.

Nim was silent for a moment. This is a test, she said after a length, She wants to see if we are willing to be her pawn before she or it does anything truly vile.

You think so? Sarah asked with a frown as she scanned the street.

Indeed. It is the only thing that makes sense, Nim replied quietly, I do not like this Sarah. Not at all.

It didn’t take her long to find Timmy, he was sitting happily behind a ‘lemonade stand’ whatever that was. The boy was smiling happily and had the type of cheeks that were just begging to be pinched by elder female relatives.

“Hi! Want to play?” he asked her in a chipper voice.

Oh my God... he’s the most adorable human on earth, Sarah thought to Nim with slightly widened eyes.

I... cannot fault you for that statement, Nim agreed, Even now I feel the urge to cuddle him... and I do not have a body.

“I... I’m supposed to make you cry,” Sarah told him after a moment, “Betty told me to do it.”

“What? No she didn’t... did she?” the little boy asked in confusion, “I don’t like her. She’s creepy, and she laughs at stuff that isn’t funny.”

“Kid, I like you,” Sarah told him before letting out a sigh, “But... I’ve still got to make you cry somehow.”

Hmm... well, you could always punch him, Nim pointed out, It has been our experience that when someone is this adorable they do not have a high pain tolerance... do not ask us how we know.

I’m not going to punch him! It would be like kicking a puppy! Sarah replied, There’s got to be another way.

Very well, Nim replied, Repeat after me.

Sarahs jaw hardened and she turned to the boy. “Timmy, you are the most pathetic piece of garbage that I have ever seen. You’re scrawny, stupid, and your shirt looks horrible,” she told him with a glare, “Worse, your parents hate you so much that they’re going to get a divorce simply because of how much of a failure you are!” she exclaimed, “Do you hear that Timmy? You make your parents hate each other just by existing!”

Timmy stared at her for a moment in shocked silence before he asked in a small choked voice. “What? Did-did I do something bad?”

NO! I’m not telling him that! Sarah exclaimed within her head.

We do not like it any more than you do Sarah, Nim stated flatly, But there is no alternative; unless you’d like to resort to physical violence.

The girl let out a mental growl of irritation before she answered Timmy’s question. “Don’t you get it Timmy? Your parents never loved you! In fact, they both hate you and wish you were a rotting corpse in the back yard so that they could get on with their lives!”

Timmy’s reaction was predictable. “No, no! Not my mommy and daddy! Noo!” he wailed before he ran off, crying his eyes out.

Sarah stood there for a moment. That was... evil, she said quietly.

Yes... it was, Nim agreed softly, Yet it was not you who ordained it. That guilt lies squarely on the shoulders of Betty.

Sarah growled and clenched her hand, rage filling her once again. I’m going to kill her... she said before trailing off and striding angrily towards Betty who looked up from her ‘watering’ and smiled evilly at her.

“Yay! I knew you could do it!” the girl said, still grinning. Then, without warning, her voice... changed. It was suddenly deeper, distinctly male, and laden with a strange accent. The whole thing was so sudden and casual that Sarah’s mind was sent reeling.

“Perhaps not the most ‘inventive’ approach, but the persuasion can be quite powerful. Well done.” Sarah stared at the ‘girl’, too shocked to speak. “And for winning the game, you get a prize. You get to ask one question and receive an honest answer.”

“I...” Sarah tailed off, still staring.

“Come now, I don’t bite,” the girl said, still using a man’s voice.

This is... wrong on so many levels, Sarah told Nim as she continued to stare.

Indeed... was all Nim had to offer.

Sarah took a deep breath before finally asking .”Where is my father?”

“Ah, yes. A predictable question, I suppose,” the ‘girl’ replied with a small amused chuckle. “Your father is here, in Tranquility Lane. He is quite safe, for now. Though, he can no longer... hound me with his incessant questioning,” she continued before switching back to the voice of a girl, “Perhaps you will see more of him in time.”

Sarah’s jaw clenched again. “I want to see him. Now!” she growled.

The ‘girl’ put a hand on her chin. “Hmm... No, no I don’t think so,” she told Sarah mockingly before switching back to a man’s, “We haven’t yet plumbed the depths of your ability to amuse me. I think you’ll do a few more things for me first,” ‘Betty’ finished with a smirk.

Nim, I’m going to punch her in the FACE! Sarah exclaimed angrily, her fists clenching tighter so that her fingernails dug into her palms.

Sarah. Calm. Yourself, Nim stated flatly, What has gotten into you?

I... don’t know, Sarah said, shaking her head slightly, This ‘man’ just fills me with... rage. Pure rage.

“Have you made up your mind yet?” the ‘girl’ asked her in a slightly impatient tone.

Oh my... I should have thought about that, Nim said quietly before she ‘faded’ for a moment. Strangely, Sarah’s anger dimmed from that of a roaring inferno to that of mere annoyance as well as self-righteous indignation. Sorry about that... I was leaking my own feelings towards this being, Nim apologized.

I... it’s fine, Sarah replied before finally answering Betty’s question, “Alright, ‘Betty’. What do you want me to do?”

“Pay a visit to the Rockwells. They’re very happily married, and I’d like you to change that. Put an end to their marriage, and we’ll talk,” ‘Betty’ said simply.

“You’re incredibly petty,” Sarah told her coldly, “Do you honestly have nothing better to do?”

“No, not really,” Betty answered with a small chuckle, “Now, do as your told.”

Sarah gave her a cold glare. “How do you even expect me to do something like that when, I have no idea who these people are?” she asked, “I mean... am I going to find some damning evidence that neither has seen before or something?”

“I care not what you do or how you do it,” Betty answered in her ‘I’m an angel’ voice, “Just that you do it.”

“Fine, but you’re answering my questions when I get back,” Sarah told her with a deep frown, “Which house do these people live in?”

Betty pointed it out and Sarah trudged off, her eyes narrowed.

Nim, what did you mean that you were ‘leaking’ your feelings? Sarah asked her, Are feelings like water or something?

In a way, Nim answered before pausing for a moment, thinking of the right way to phrase her explanation.

Sarah was not stupid... but Nim highly doubted she would grasp higher level arcane knowledge and concepts simply. Most couldn’t, to be honest.

You see... our minds are like two great rivers that are running beside each other with a narrow strip of land separating them. Nim began. Occasionally, one of the rivers’ waters rises too high and it floods over the land and into the other. For example, at the moment we are currently frothing at the bit to destroy that ‘Betty’ and our ‘emotion’ flooded the bank.

Oh... alright, Sarah said slowly, nodding to herself as she approached the house ‘Betty’ had directed her at, That makes sense I guess.

Good, Nim said, We apologize for allowing it to happen in the first place. When we are with Luna, we are a part of her; so we need not worry about this sort of problem.

But what about when you take over? Sarah inquired with a frown, Does that not count?

No, that is a different type of thing all together, Nightmare replied without really answering the question, At any rate, shall we attempt to ‘break up’ this marriage?

I suppose so... it seems really petty to me though, Sarah replied before she pushed the door open and found both of the Rockwells sitting in the living room.

“Hi sweetie, what’s up?” the man asked.

Sarah let out a small sigh and walked up to the man as the woman left for the kitchen. “So, sir. I’m new in town, and I was wondering if everyone here in Tranquility Lane was happily married?” Sarah asked, giving him a fake smile.

His smile dimmed into a frown. “Now see here. That’s not anything for you to be asking about. Our marriage is our business. It’s private,” he scolded her, “Why can’t people understand that and just leave us alone?”

“I’m sorry, didn’t mean to pry,” Sarah said demurely before she took a step back and headed for the kitchen.

“It’s fine, take care now!” the man replied, his voice light and merry once more.

The people here are scaring me, Sarah told Nim, They’re all too damn nice when they shouldn’t be.

You’ve just grown used to people wanting to kill you, haven't you? Nim asked.

That could be it, Sarah replied wryly with a small shake of her head. Anyways... let’s just get through this, okay?

Indeed, Nim replied as Sarah walked into the other room to find the ‘lady of the house’ baking a pie, This should be easy enough, most mares of this age are easily susceptible to lies. Especially if my suspiscions about the wording of her husband is correct, she told Sarah.

Sarah frowned for a moment and then tapped the woman’s leg. The woman turned down to look at her. “Well hi there, little girl.”

Sarah let out a small sigh and a pout crossed her face. “I’m really sorry to break this to you Ma’am... but I saw your husband kissing another woman over by the fense. She was really pretty and I heard him talking about how much prettier than you she was,” Sarah said, her voice flushed with false sincerity.

The woman’s face grew angry. “It’s that Martha Simpson isn’t it?! I knew it! That’s it! I’ve had enough of Roger’s lies and bullshit!” she shouted. Without warning, she ran over to her husband who was sitting in the chair, and kicked him in the crotch before running out of the house.

Sarah stared, That was... way to easy, she muttered, Their marriage must not have been all that perfect... she trailed off and shook her head, And now I feel like an absolute piece of shit.

It is not real, Nim told her gently, And if we do not do this, you will never find your father.

I know... it’s just... Sarah closed her eyes and let out a deep breath, I’m okay... I’m fine... I’m in control of myself.

Yes, yes you are, Nim agreed in an encouraging tone, This will all be over soon.

Yeah, right... Sarah reluctantly replied, before she turned and walked towards Betty.

The ‘girl smiled at her. “So, you have achieved your goal. I was hoping for something a bit more dramatic, but... persuasion appears to be your strong suit,” ‘she’ said in the male voice, “And at least you are cooperative, unlike your father. I was most disappointed when he refused to participate, yet still expected something from me.”

Sarah bristled at the mention of her father, “I did what you asked me to do,” she said in a cold and level tone as she fought down both her own and Nim’s anger, “Now you are going to explain some things to me.”

“You have amused me thus far, but I still don’t think you’re quite in a position to be demanding anything,” ‘Betty’ said, still male, “Still, I suppose you’ve earned the right to further answers. Vhat would you ask of me?”

The girl closed her eyes for a moment. What should I ask? she asked Nim.

Where your father is now, Nim replied. Anything further can be gleaned from your father when we retrieve him.

Right, Sarah replied with a small mental nod.

“Where’s my father now?” Sarah asked.

“He’s here and he is unharmed. He has merely been rendered unable to bother me,” she answered.

“How do I know that you’re not lying?” Sarah asked Betty with narrowed eyes, “You could have already killed him.”

Betty pouted. “Oh, dear. You don’t even believe me? How disappointing,” she said in her faux girl voice, “I assure you, James and I talked at length before you arrived. Now, let’s continue, before I grow bored with you.”

“Great... more petty quests for me?” Sarah asked her, arching an eyebrow, “What now? Knock over that lemonade stand? Steal a pie? Kick a puppy?”

“Your sarcasm is unappreciated. This could be so much fun if you’d allow yourself to see it,” the male voice whined, though there was a mad gleam in ‘her’ eyes.

Never, Sarah mentally told him flatly.

Indeed. Never, Nim agreed... this creature... it was a grim reminder of what someone with too much power could be... and to be honest... it was an unsettling reminder. To be perfectly honest, it reminded her quite a bit of Discord in his hay day. Furthermore, she could tell that, given the opportunity, ‘Betty’ would twist who and whatever ‘she’ was given into something vile.

Meanwhile, Betty was talking once more.

“Now, Marebel Henderson needs to die,” the male voice told them, “Not just any death mind you, but an entertaining, well thought-out death. You’ll see to that,” the male continued as Sarah’s eyes hardened, “Very simple, plenty of opportunity to show me what you’re capable of.”

I... Nim... what do I do? Sarah asked the other mind frantically. If I turn her down, I’ll never find dad. I might even be trapped in here forever. But if I do it, then...

Then she will have made a murderer out of you, Nim finished flatly, Oh how I wish I was capable of using my powers upon this wretch... she would be begging for death as loudly as all those trapped here combined, she seethed violently.

I... I have to, don’t I? Sarah asked. Nim only sent a silent confirmation.

“I hate you, I hate this, but if it means that I can rescue my father... then I’ll go along with this. You evil bastard,” Sarah told Betty with a harsh glare.

“Of course you will,” the girl voice replied, “And you never know... you might enjoy it.”

Sarah’s answering glare could have made grass wither, if there was any living grass in the Wasteland that is. As it was, some of it would probably have crumbled in sheer fear. Betty however simple smirked, her eyes mad.

We will destroy you, foul creature, Nim silently promised her.

Sarah turned her back on Betty after asking for directions and entered into the house. It was... normal. The only thing out of the ordinary that Sarah observed was the robot.

I really wish we didn’t have to do this, Sarah growled, I fucking hate being that thing’s toy like this.

We feel it as well, Nim agreed as the pair began to explore the house, Do not worry Sarah... we will have our revenge. One way or another.

I hope so... Sarah murmured as she entered the kitchen. There she found what she’d been hoping/dreading she’d find. The robot control panel. With a soft sigh she quickly began to type into the keyboard, first disabling the ‘security screening’ ability of the robot. She then initiated the ‘security program’.

The robot let out a sigh of its own as it began to hover towards the woman of the house. “Why must you humans always resort to violence?”

The woman let out a scream as the robot neared her and in a single grizzly slash of its saw-arm decapitated her, the blood flowing all around.

“And who has to clean up all this blood do you think?” the robot demanded the woman’s skull.

A wordless cry of anger left Sarah’s throat and she threw herself at the floating robot. Before it could respond in kind Sarah’s nimble little fingers had found a control panel and she tore out the spark battery. She stood there panting for a moment, standing before the broken robot and the headless body before a wail escaped from between her lips.

“God damnit!” she shouted at the empty air.

Think of your father, Nim quietly urged her, He is your goal. Focus on him and only him.

He... he’d be so disappointed in me, Sarah said as a sob emerged from between her lips.

No, he would be proud that you were strong enough to do this and still feel this way, Nim replied slowly, He would be proud of how much you care about him. He... would not betray you like that.

Sarah sniffled, being in a child’s body was starting to affect her, Do... do you really think so?

Yes, yes we do, Nim replied softly, If your father is anything like you seem to think he is... then he will understand.

Sarah gave a shaky nod and then wiped her runny nose on her sleeve, I... thank you Nim.

You’re very welcome though we feel the thanks is un-needed, Nim said, After all, you are our Sarah are you not?

The touch of a smile appeared on Sarah’s face and she nodded before slowly making her way out of the house.

Sarah approached Betty who spoke before Sarah had the chance too. “Poor Mabel, killed by her own robot. I suspect she never saw that coming,” the girl voice praised Sarah making the girl quake inside, “You are most resourceful and you certainly do get results. You have exceeded my expectations!” His voice was so full of cheer that Sarah was forced to fight down the urge to throttle ‘her’. “And now, we come to the last task that I have for you. Succeed and you shall be granted whatever you wish,” he finished with a grand smile.

Sarah’s teeth were clenched too tightly for her to speak, so close was she to killing Betty.

So instead... Nim spoke for her, Sarah’s control of her jaw going slack, “How do I know that you’re being honest with me?” she asked.

“I think you’ll find that I’ve been quite honest with you thus far. You have no discernable reason to mistrust me,” the man’s voice answered easily. “In the dog house out behind the abandoned home are a mask and knife. Don the mask and become the Pint Sized Slasher! Use the knife to eliminate all the residents of Tranquility Lane.”

Even Nim was too shocked by that to speak for a moment and it was Sarah who finally answered.

Fuck you.”

With that, the girl stepped away.

“Don’t you want your answers?” Betty called to her. In response, Sarah held up her middle finger and continued walking.

Sarah... are you sure of this? Nim asked quietly. Not that I am endorsing this... it is an evil, vile thing... but it is the only way, is it not?

We’ve been thinking about this whole thing wrong, Sarah replied calmly, her thoughts chilled as ice. This is a computer simulation, not a dream. That means that it is connected to a system of some kind. Every Vault system has a fail-safe or override of some kind, it’s how the Overseer keeps order in the event of a rebellion or other security situation, she explained, calling upon her old job, That means we just have to find it.

Okay... that makes a degree of sense, I suppose, Nim replied, puzzledly, So... where would we find this ‘override’?

Well... it would be somewhere that no one goes, Sarah replied. Somewhere that ‘Betty’ wouldn’t have to watch carefully.

So... somewhere abandoned? Nim inquired.

Yes... that sounds right; why? Sarah asked her, surprised at how fast she had come up with the answer.

Because during our ‘escapades’ here, we spotted an abandoned house, Nim answered while mentally smirking at Sarah.

Sarah stopped in her stride for a moment before stating. Nim... I love you.

We... thank you Sarah, Nim replied quietly, We are sorry that we have not been able to be of more help in this endeavor... we have been worthless as always.

Hey, you helped me with the first two tasks, Sarah retorted, If you hadn’t been here with me, I’d probably have ended up punching the kid and wasting a ton of time on the couple.

Nim preened beneath the praise. Thank you, Sarah. Thank you very much, she said.

Sarah smiled softly as she headed for the abandoned house. You’re welcome Nim... it really is a cute name, you know, she told her tenderly.

We... had not anticipated it being one... but we are glad you find it so, Nim said (a mental blush on her ‘cheeks’ if such a thing can exist). However, we should focus on finding this failsafe at the moment.

Right you are, Sarah agreed, her smile turning into a grim grin of anticipatory violence.

Her thoughts full of vengeance the girl entered the abandoned house. Unfortunately, as she looked around she didn’t see any form of computer terminal. All she saw was a smattering of garbage.

Well... shit, Sarah thought bitterly. I guess... there isn’t one.

I suppose it was too much to hope for, Nim agreed with a small sigh, I’m sorry Sarah.

Don’t be... it’s not your fault, Sarah replied as she walked up to one of the knocked over chairs and righted it. Then she sat down and looked at the radio. I wonder if that thing still works...

She reached over to touch it and to her surprise, a musical note sounded from it. Sarah’s hand froze in surprise.

Or... maybe there’s a override after all... she said slowly, It’s just hidden.

The girl quickly got to her feet and began to touch various objects around the house some made noises followed by an abrupt and harsh dual beep, which she came to associate with the ‘wrong’ choice. Soon, she had a fairly solid idea of what she was doing. The radio came first, it was the only one which did not have the ‘wrong’ noise sound following its activation.

It took her only on ten minutes of puzzling to solve the puzzle, but only because of Nim.

In the middle of one of her attempts Nim suddenly interrupted her. No Sarah, that will not work. We are on the fourth note. Tap the block, the mare instructed.

Sarah did so, and to her delighted surprise the block emitted the right noise.

Excelent, now the gnome, Nim said, Sarah did so and she was once more rewarded with the proper sound. Good. Finally, activate the bottle, Sarah did so, and the silence of the room was interrupted by a fizzling hiss. The backmost wall had vanished, to be replaced by a large computer system. The large monitor was separated from the rest of the house by… there was no other word for it, static.

I... how did you do that? Sarah asked Nim, bewildered, It would have taken me hours to think of that!

Equestria is a land of music, Sarah, Nim replied, And those objects made up the notes that create the ‘theme song’ of this place, she explained.

I... fucking love you! Sarah exclaimed.

Good, Nim replied with a small bit of smugness, We deserve all of your praise and more.

Sarah smiled softly. Well, next time Luna and I ‘experiment’ I want you to be the one in control, she replied, a tender note in her voice.

If Nim had ears, they would have perked up, Truly?

Truly, Sarah answered with a radiant smile.

That is... we will enjoy that a great deal, Nim replied, anticipation filling her voice. I do hope you don’t mind a bit of biting.

Sarah suddenly blushed. I um... I’ve never tried it, she said before she walked up to the terminal and began to type. We should probably finish this first.

Agreed, Nim said, though she chuckled wickedly at the other thoughts currently filling her head.

Sarah stared up at the computer, scanning through everything. It took her only five minutes to decide on a course... though it was not exactly a ‘good’ one.

Okay... our only way out is to activate this fail-safe, Sarah announced, her voice low.

Alright, why do you sound sad? Nim inquired.

By activating the fail-safe we kill everyone native to the Vault, Sarah explained. Only my father, Betty (whose name is Braun, apparently), and I will survive.... but there’s a bright side.

There is? Nim asked in surprise. What is it?

Apparently, Braun has been torturing these people for the past two centuries... and reviving them whenever he killed them, Sarah replied, her voice becoming dark and angry, If we do this... then he’ll never be able to get at them again. They’ll be dead. Forever.

And he will be stuck in here forever, alone. Trapped in his own mind, Nim said with a small ‘nod’. It seems fitting... reminds us of what Tia and I did to Discord.

You trapped him in a computer simulation? Sarah inquired with surprise as she pressed the activation switch.

No, we turned the bastard to solid stone and put him out where the birds could shit on him, Nim replied vehemently, He deserved nothing less.

Right... I’ll have to ask Luna about that later, Sarah said as she walked through the door.

As the pair proceeded out the door, they saw a brutal sight taking place. A dozen men in odd jackets with odd assault rifles were in the middle of firing down the residents of Tranquility Lane. Blood flew everywhere and limbs were torn off by the high caliber rounds. Sarah ignored it and instead walked up to Bruan.

“Enjoying the lightshow asshole?” the girl asked him with a smirk of satisfaction.

“Do you realize what you have done? You’ve triggered the Fail Safe! Ruined EVERYTHING!” he shouted at her.

“‘Everything’ was ruined long before I got here,” Sarah replied harshly before she stepped up and did something that she’d wanted to do the entire time she’d been there. Her fist lashed out and slammed into ‘Betty’s’ nose. The other girl fell to the ground, blood pouring from her nose, “Enjoy eternity alone, bitch.”

Sarah casually walked through the shimmering wooden door, which had appeared in empty air.

The top to Sarah’s pod rose up and she stepped out to find Luna waiting impatiently for her (as she had been for the last two hours). The moment that she hit the ground, Sarah was engulfed by a sea of feathers and found found herself being hugged fiercely.

“Are you alright Sarah?” Luna asked worriedly, “I was not able to hear much through my link with Nim but what I heard was not pleasant,” she added, still hugging the woman close.

“I... I’m not exactly fine... but I’m not as bad as I could be,” Sarah replied as she hugged the alicorn back, “It was... rough.”

Indeed, very rough, Nim agreed quietly. It was like there was a less powerful version of Discord ordering us around and we could do nothing... again.

Luna’s embrace around Sarah tightened and the woman found it hard to breathe. “Lu-Luna, I still need air,” she gasped.

Luna blushed and released her. “I’m sorry, Sarah...”

“It’s alright,” Sarah said, giving her a quick peck, “I know you only meant well.”

“Well, either Braun is still messing with me, or my daughter just kissed a winged unicorn,” her father’s voice echoed in Sarah’s ears. Sarah’s head whipped away from Luna’s and she saw her father, looking none the worse for wear, walking towards them.

“Oh... Dad... forgot you were there...” the woman said with a small blush. Then she sprinted away from Luna and tackled her father into a hug, “Thank God you’re alive!”

“And thank God you came for me... otherwise I’d still be on four legs,” James replied as he wrapped his arms around his daughter’s back. Then he turned his head to look at Luna, “And it looks like you’ve made a ‘friend’ out here, eh?”

Sarah’s blush deepened. “I... dad... this is Luna... she’s... my friend... and a little more...” she said quietly.

James looked over Luna (who was frozen in the process of stepping forward, not sure whether or not to come any closer) and then he smiled and kissed Sarah gently on the forehead.

“Well, I always knew that I wasn’t getting grandchildren,” he told her affectionately, “Though... I have to say, all those years of reading Grognak, I thought you were eyeing the half naked princesses. Not the horses.”

“Actually...” Luna spoke for the first time, causing Sarah to giggle slightly, then she began to laugh, before she finally began to cry into her father’s neck.

Wandering Moon Chapter 30: Luna's Day

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It was noon, and the sun was still nowhere to be seen in the sky. However, that did nothing to discourage the ponies of Canterlot, or other regions of Equestria for that matter, from reveling in the festivities, unconcerned about the uncharacteristic darkness. In place of the sun, street lamps and magelights, which had been provided by the large unicorn population of the Capital, lit up the night so that the ponies of the city could dance merrily in the darkened roads.

Why was the land shadowed? Well, because it was Luna’s Day, of course.

Queen Celestia looked down at the ponies enjoying their holiday and smiled softly. This was certainly one of her greatest ideas. It had struck her one night that one of the things that her sister had truly wanted was for her little ponies to be less fearful of the night. That was when the idea came to her.

Why not create a holiday specifically for her sister? That it was coincidentally on the same day every year as Luna had been banished and was destined to return was just a bonus. By utilizing her link to the sun, the alicorn had made it possible for the great magical ball of gasses to fill the sky, yet not touch Equestria with its light; all while still allowing it to shine down upon the rest of the world.

The eldest alicorn continued to watch the ponies dance and play in the darkness for a little while longer before she turned from the balcony, her heart simultaneously gladdened and aching with pain.

It had been... three hundred years now since Luna had been sent away, and Celestia’s mind had begun to finally heal from the great loss. She no longer woke up with tears in her eyes or a wetness on her pillow. For the most part.... she had put Luna to the back of her mind and gotten back to the duty of ruling the country.

Of course, today was one of the days that she allowed herself time off. If nothing else, the thought of doing something involved with governing on a day like today would dilute the point of celebrating her sister.

The mare continued down the hallway, her tail and mane flowing gently in the ethereal breeze that seemed ever-present around her, until she came to a setting that she was most familiar with. It was the castle gardens. She walked out among the greenery, her thoughts turning once more to her sister, and the steps she had taken to ensure that her return would be a joyful one.

Firstly, and Celestia had hated to do it, she had re-written the history books. Luna was not the leader of a hated rebellion. Instead, she had been the leader of an army of ponies who had set out to bring to justice all the wickedness that lay in the night and preyed on ponies. The mare let out a small sigh. Luna would have approved of that course. Celestia thought as much, at any rate.

As for the reason why Luna was absent... she had thrown herself through a portal to the land of the dark, in order to better combat those that lived within. She was, of course, prophesied to return one day, and it was because of that Luna’s Day had been created, as a celebration of her triumph and return.

It was... meant to be a clean slate for her sister, a chance to reinvent herself, when she did finally return. Celestia hoped that she would understand that, and not be too angry with her for diluting the truth. She didn’t think Luna would... but she had been wrong before, in matters such as that.

Hopefully, any ruffled feathers could be fixed simply by the existence of Luna’s Day, even Celestia had no holidays directly named after her. The mare let out a small dry chuckle at that. To be honest, after three hundred years of ruling Equestria by herself, she didn’t want a ‘holiday’ named after her. She didn’t deserve one. During her time on the throne, she’d failed her sister, killed hundreds, and been forced to put down not one, but two rebellions. It was hardly a good record. Not in the least deserving of a holiday.

She continued walking through the gardens. Taking time to admire the Lunar Lilies, a type of beautiful iridescent white flower which only bloomed once a year, and simply enjoying the night, as she walked beneath the stars.

It was... peaceful and quiet here. Peace.... that was something that Celestia adored. She’d been working towards it for the last hundred years. All the while, she had also been pushing social changes that she liked to think were progressive.

When the Xanthos Uprising had been put down, Celestia was surprised, though not entirely shocked, to find that several higher level nobles had been traitors. In Celestia’s mind, this was the final straw. All of her life, a noble of some kind or another had been a thorn in her side. She’d decided to put a stop to it. Permanently.

The Queen had gone about tearing down, and then re-building, the system upon which the noble houses functioned and existed in general. The biggest example of this rebuilding effort was the way in which nobles gained and kept power. Celestia had done away with the classical inheritance system, and replaced it with a meritocracy.

Instead of simply inheriting their power and prestige when they came of age, young nobles had to earn it. Instead they were forced to either prove their selflessness and intelligence fighting on the borders of Equestria or through academic achievements and great acts of charity towards real causses. If they failed to do that by the time they were eighteen, then the wealth, power, and land of the House was stripped away and those undeserving were cast out to the streets. Of course, as a result, many of the older houses had collapsed within the span of five years, as their unsuccessful heirs failed.

In their place had risen a slew of ‘commoners’ who had proved time and again to be better, and in Celestia’s private opinion, smarter than the old aristocracy. That’s not to say of course that every noble house had been gutted. The Bluebloods, for example, had merged with Clover’s direct line, and remained highly influential. They had produced a large number of scholars, ambassadors, politicians and military officers, as well as the current Archmage.

Celestia smiled softly at the thought, she’d always known that old Blueblood was a good soldier and general, but when his family had merged with Clover’s, she’d recognized that they’d go far. It did her good to know that she hadn’t been a total failure in the long run. Her eyes glanced up towards the pregnant moon in the sky and she let out a long sigh. Why she did so didn’t need to be said.

She was just about done in the gardens, ready to return to her chambers to look over the latest legislation from the still relatively young Parliament, when she heard an odd sound. It was the sound of an immense weight landing nearby.

Oh no. What now? she thought to herself worriedly as she began to gallop in the direction of the sound, her armour and sword appearing on her as her horn lit up. This wouldn’t be the first time that a monster of some sort had decided that the ‘pretty house’ would make a fine place to live and she’d had to displace several. In retrospect... including a courtyard big enough for a large dragon to land in when the castle was built had been an awful idea.

Thankfully, it didn’t take her long to arrive at said courtyard and she was greeted by a surprisingly welcome sight. Sitting patiently, surrounded by several dozen armed guards who looked to be on the urge of panicking was a great purple scaled dragon.

He was taller than the castle itself at this point, dragons growing with every year they live, and his wings would have blotted out the sun if they’d been opened. His claws were now the size of pikes and his green eyes looked down at the assembled guards with what Celestia knew was amusement.

“Did you know that I once destroyed five of the most powerful unicorn mages of the time at once?” he asked the nearest guard conversationally, his voice calm and pleasant, “The blighters were trying to kidnap my dear adopted daughters, and you know I just couldn’t be having that. So, I broiled them alive.”

The guard’s face had paled and all he managed was a small nod and an ‘eep’ noise. That was when the dragon noticed Celestia who had already banished her armor and sword.

“Tia!” he said with a wide grin as he bent his frankly huge head down to gently nuzzle her.

The experience of being nuzzled by fully grown dragon is said to be like that of facing down a charging fire breathing rhino, which also happens to be part dragon. Celestia, of course, just nuzzled right back. The smooth scales of his jaw rubbed across her soft fur, and she smiled, as a hundred years of memories sprang back into the forefront her head.

“Father, it’s so good to see you,” Celestia replied once he’d pulled away. Then she turned to her guards who were staring slack jawed at her, “That will be all, everypony. Thank you for keeping my adopted father company.”

“Yo-your Majesty ar-are you sure?” one of the guards asked, obviously terrified at the prospect of staying any longer, but also equally loyal to his ruler. Celestia smiled gracefully at him.

“Yes, Sergeant Pepper, I’m very sure,” she replied with a nod, “I’ll call if I need anything.”

“A-aye Ma’am,” the stallion said before he backed away slowly followed by the other guards. It didn’t take them long to disperse, and soon, Celestia was alone with her favorite dragon.

“Well done, Tia. You’ve created a group of guards who will willingly face down a dragon for you,” Jonathan said with a smile, displaying his great sword-sized teeth, “I’m impressed.”

“Thank you father,” Celestia replied with a wide smile, “I do my best.”

“So I’ve heard,” the dragon said, patting the ground beside him softly and offering her a seat. Celestia walked over and sat down, leaning against his warm smooth scales, “Ah, Tia, it’s good to see you again,” Jonathan told her in an affectionate tone.

“And the same to you, father,” Celestia said, as she enjoyed the natural warmth of the dragon’s side, “How long has it been now?”

“Roughly three hundred years, if my reckoning is correct,” he replied, while glancing down at her with a small concerned look, “Since you expelled Luna.”

“Ah... right,” she said, looking down, “I came to you weeping, if I remember correctly.”

“Indeed. You drank all of my tea, too,” he added with a small nod, “Not that I blame you, of course my dear. Still, it was very impressive.”

Celestia chuckled softly.

“How much was it, again?” she asked him.

“Enough to drown a dragon, or twenty,” Jonathan answered with a chuckle of his own, “It took me years to restock.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to,” Celestia replied.

“Think nothing of it,” he said dismissively, “I understand completely, never did blame you.”

“Thank you, father,” she said, letting out a small sigh, and leaning her head against his side.

“You’re very welcome,” he replied as he carefully brought a single claw down to gently stroke down her back, “Now, I heard some rumors lately about you putting down a rebellion of some sort?”

“That was a hundred years ago, father,” Celestia told him with a small sigh, “It was not exactly a ‘fun’ time.”

“Being a leader never is,” Jonathan stated, “Like I said long ago; if you ever grow tired of all these prattling fools, my cave is always open.”

Celestia smiled and gave his scales a soft kiss, “I know, father, and I thank you for that...” she trailed off and sighed, “But I cannot leave my little ponies to their own devices. What if Discord breaks free once again, and there is nopony around capable of fighting him?”

“I suppose that they’d all suffer horribly,” the dragon replied, shaking his great head, “And we couldn’t have that now could we?”

“No indeed,” the mare agreed, “So... as much as I’d like to think you came here simply to spend time with me, I can’t help but imagine that there’s a reason behind this visit?”

His eye ridges rose a bit in slight amusement.

“Can’t a dragon just take the time to spend with his only daughter still in Equestria?” he asked her.

“Of course he can,” she answered, “But we both know that getting here is hard for you and you wouldn’t have done it unless you were either very lonely or had something very important to tell me.”

Jonathan let out a small sigh and a plume of smoke washed over her, neither settling on her coat nor making her eyes water, before it was blown away by the night’s breeze. “I sometimes wish you weren’t quite so perceptive, Tia,” the old dragon said, “It makes it very difficult to surprise you.”

“Surprise me?” she asked with a frown, “With what?”

The dragon grinned at her as he reached up to his neck where a small bag had been fastened on a golden chain. With gentle claws he plucked it from around his scaly neck and brought it down to rest in front of Celestia. She frowned, the bag was made of black leather, a large emerald clasp keeping it shut.

“It is... something that I need you to safeguard for me,” Jonathan told her.

“What is it?” Celestia inquired with a small frown as she continued to eye the bag.

“Open it, and find out,” he replied. Celestia’s horn began to glow and her golden aura opened the emerald clasp and drew the bag into the air before turning it upside down. From within the bag, caught in her magic before it could hit the ground, was an object which caused Celestia to stare.

It was a large egg. It’s smooth surface was a light purple interspaced with the occasional darker purple spots. Warmth exuded from within it, even through her magic field, Celestia could sense the life within it. She stared at it for a moment before looking up at Jonathan with a wide grin on her face.

“Yours?” she asked.

“No, Tia. I stole it,” he snarked at her with a small grin, “Of course it’s mine. Barb finally managed it.”

“Well... give her my congratulations,” Celestia replied. Barb was her ‘foster mother’ of sorts.

They’d never particularly liked each other, mostly due to the fact that Barb had been apparently infertile, and felt like Jonathan was trying to force her into adopting ponies, in place of an actual hatchling. As for Celestia, she’d just never enjoyed the large green dragon’s company, she was seemingly always grouchy.

“I will,” Jonathan replied, smiling a bit. Celestia smiled back and then looked back at the egg.

“So... why did you bring this here to me?” she asked him, with a confused tone, “I thought Barb would have wanted to keep it very close to her.”

Jonathan sighed. “Unfortunately, the process of carrying and delivering has left her very tired. Enough to force her into hibernation...” he trailed off and shook his head, “You know how we dragons become, when we grow too old.”

“Ah,” Celestia replied, nodding.

The older a dragon was, the harder it was for them to retain the energy to do much strenuous activity without a constant supply of food. Even with that, if something hard on the body happened, they were almost guaranteed to fall into a deep sleep, known as hibernation. Sometimes, they only slept for days... and sometimes, for centuries.

“Exactly,” he told her, “And unfortunately, I am not far behind her. I have only enough energy in me to get home once more and then I’ll be out like a light for who knows how long.”

“So, you want me to look after your egg, and make sure that the hatchling is raised right?” Celestia asked.

“Yes,” Jonathan replied with a nod, “The normal term is around six to seven hundred years, without a proper female to watch it. Keep it warm, and pump as much magic into it as you can. When it hatches, the wyrmling will require a meal of ground diamonds and rubies, along with some form of meat, and about a gallon of blood. From that point on, it will require a steady diet of gems and meat until the age of ten, where it will switch to a purely gem based diet for the next hundred years, when it begins to hunger for flesh again.”

Celestia nodded, as she caused a pen and a piece of parchment to appeared before her, quickly writing it all down.

“Remember to give them a hoard of some kind, but not a very large one. No one wants to deal with a greedy prepubescent dragon,” Jonathan continued before frowning, “Oh right, and do remember to make sure that he or she is kept somewhere fireproof.”

“I think I can manage that,” Celestia said with a small chuckle, “I take it you’re expecting to be asleep for a great deal of this drake’s childhood?”

“Sadly, given my age I’m likely to be asleep for the next seven hundred and fifty years,” Jonathan agreed with a small nod, “Oh what I would not give to be young again.”

“You and me both,” Celestia replied, earning a rumbling chuckle from Jonathan.

“Tia, my dear... Compared to me, you are a filly,” the dragon told her before he bent down to nuzzle her again, “Of course, you’re my filly so I don’t particularly mind.”

The mare smiled at him and nuzzled back. They stayed like that for a long moment, his great purple head lightly touching against her own white one before he withdrew it. “Well, my dear, I must be off, I sense myself growing tire, and I do not want to plummet out of the sky. Your ponies would find it quite annoying to have someone as large as I sleeping in the middle of their fields.”

Celestia nodded. “Yes, I can see how that would cause a great deal of issues, most of which would probably require my hoof to clear up,” she told him.

“And we would hate that,” he agreed before moving his muzzle slightly so that he could give her a final nuzzle. Celestia kissed his cheek and he smiled, “I will see you in several centuries Celestia; I look forward to seeing my dear Luna again.”

“I... Yes, father,” Celestia replied with a soft smile of her own, “Good night, and sweet dreams.”

“And the same to you,” the dragon replied lightly before he took a lumbering step back away from her and flapped his massive wings. Celestia was almost knocked over by the gust of wind that he kicked up, however she and the egg in her grasp remained grounded firmly. She watched as he rose up into the night sky and hovered there for a moment before, with a rapid flap of his wings, his purple bulk vanished.

Celestia stood there in the cool air for a moment or two, suddenly feeling very alone. Then her gaze drifted to the egg, and she smiled.

“Well, little one, why don’t we see if I can’t fix you up a nice place to stay hmm?” Celestia asked it in an almost cooing voice. The egg didn’t answer, but Celestia felt a small portion of warmth glow within it in her direction. She smiled and carried her precious cargo out of the night and into the castle.

Wandering Moon Chapter 31: Fast Hands

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Luna lay in the garage upon a pair of mattresses, Sarah’s sleeping form dozed comfortingly on her side and one of the mare’s wings was folded gently over the woman’s chest, warming her. Across from the pair, warming his hands on a small fire that they’d created out of pieces of wood and a few old newspapers was James. The man had been mostly silent as they’d set about the tasks needed for making camp within the garage, other than to make soothing noises to his daughter or answer small questions that had been directed at him.

Now with Sarah asleep and gently nuzzling her side Luna began to feel a bit sleepy herself. Up until now she had been fine, but there was something so soothing about having her lover draped across her. Luna let out a small yawn and began to prepare herself for sleep when James suddenly spoke up.

“So, Luna... how did you come to know my daughter?” the man asked from his seat.

Luna frowned for a moment before answering. “To be perfectly honest… it was when I almost stabbed through her head with my sword,” she answered awkwardly.

“Really?” James inquired, raising an eyebrow slightly at that. “I suppose it is the Wasteland so that type of meeting isn’t exactly unexpected... but normally people don’t always become friends... or more in this case, after that.”

“True,” Luna agreed before sparing Sarah a tender glance. “But I suppose there was just something about Sarah that drew me to her.”

In her sleep Sarah turned her head and began to gently breath on Luna’s side, her hot breath playing warmly against her fur.

“I see that the feeling is mutual,” James commented though he frowned. “How long have you two been... together?”

Luna blushed hotly. “A single day now?” she hazarded. “To be honest... time runs together here... I’m simply glad that I have her.”

James smiled softly as a tender look crossed his own face as he looked at his daughter. “I’m glad for that too... she’s just like her mother.”

Luna’s ears perked up. “Really?”

“Yes, she has the same no-nonsense take on the world and when she’s doing something that she’s good at it’s impossible to stop her,” James answered with a smile.

“I see,” Luna said before she bent her head down to softly kiss Sarah’s forehead, making the woman mutter something quietly in her sleep as she tightened her hold on Luna. “I can’t say that I disagree with that.”

James just chuckled quietly. “Indeed...” he agreed before trailing off for a moment. “You know... when I first heard on the radio that my daughter was traveling around with a talking, flying, horse I thought Three Dog had been hitting the Jet... and now here you are.”

“Here I am,” Luna echoed with a wan smile. “And to be honest... there’s no place that I’d rather be than in her arms.” Then she frowned. “My goodness... I sound like a character out of one of Tia’s sappy romance novels.”

“Well, that’s love for you,” James replied, a small smile on his face once more. “Also, who is Tia? If you don’t mind me asking of course.”

“Tia is my sister,” Luna replied with a small sigh. “I miss her greatly now.”

“And you didn’t before?” the man asked her with a slightly raised eyebrow.

“I... we... we fought often,” Luna admitted quietly. “We both had our own way of doing things... and our subjects always liked hers more.”

“Ah,” James said with a small nod. “Classic sibling rivalry, except with your subjects taking the role of parental approval?”

Luna frowned for a moment before answering. “I suppose so, now that I think about it. She was always older and prettier than I. Always had a legion of ponies following along behind her, either looking for a favor or for a glimpse beneath her tail...” the alicorn shook her head. “At any rate, we argued, and then fought, and then fought a war... and that is how I ended up here.”

“A war?” James asked, raising an eyebrow. “That escalated rather quickly.”

“Yes... well I was very foolish,” Luna stated before letting out a sigh. “And I got banished here for my foolishness.”

“I see,” James replied with a small nod.

They sat in silence for a moment longer before Luna asked a final question. “Sir... what is your plan?”

James smiled. “Well Luna, my plan is very simple. I’m going to save the Capital Wasteland.”

Luna smiled faintly. “Now that’s a goal that I can get behind.”

James just grinned before he glanced down at his Pip-Boy. “Well, it’s time for this old man to get to bed, I’ll see you in the morning,” he told her before he got up and then lay down on the spare mattress.

“Goodnight,” Luna replied as she lay her head down on the mattress and swiftly fell asleep with Sarah’s head resting against her neck.

Sarah stirred from her sleep and found herself face to neck with Luna. She breathed in the alicorn’s familiar scent and gave the fur in front of her a soft kiss. Morning Nim, she mentally added as she lay there, simply enjoying the sensation of lying beside her lover.

Good morning Sarah, Nim replied casually. How are you feeling?

I feel... amazing, Sarah answered as she gave Luna’s neck another soft kiss.

That makes good hearing, Nim stated happily. We were very worried about you after the trauma of yesterday.

Yeah... well as long as I never have to hear anyone with that accent again I’ll be okay, Sarah replied, still leaning into Luna’s warm furry body.

We cannot promise that, but we shall do our best to make it so, Nim told her comfortingly.

Aww, thanks Nim, Sarah replied. I love you.

Thank you... we love you as well, Nim replied, sounding just the smallest amount uneasy with the topic. Shall we rouse the sleepy princess?

I suppose, though really I’d like to just spend all day like this, Sarah replied, running a hand down Luna’s wing, feeling the feathers’ soft fluffy exteriors.

Do be careful with those, Nim told Sarah causing the woman to withdraw her hand slightly.

Did I do something wrong? Sarah asked Nim.

No... but you must always be careful with feathers, Nim replied. If you were to pull one out by accident, especially one of the primaries then you could cripple Luna’s flying abilities. Or even if you just pulled out one of the non essential ones but did it in the improper manner then it could end with an infection.

Sarah stared mutely at the wings, suddenly unsure if she should even be touching them.

Don’t worry though, Nim told her calmingly. It is not likely to happen because of idle touching, in fact, if you give us time we can teach you how to preen her... in ways that she has never experienced before.

You’ll have to, Sarah agreed with a small smile as she moved her fingers back to Luna’s neck and gently stroked the fur.

Indeed... so if you do not mind us asking... what will we be doing now? Nim inquired.

What do you mean? Sarah asked, frowning a little.

Well, we have located and rescued your father, have we not? Nim asked her rhetorically. And that was your overall goal wasn’t it? So, my question is; what shall we spend the rest of our time doing?

I... hadn’t thought of that, Sarah replied. I mean, first and foremost we’ll get my father back to Project Purity... and probably stick around to help him out.

Hmm, we hope it is not a long process, Nim replied. We have grown accustomed to traveling and staying in one place for too long may bore us.

Then I’ll just have to find something interesting to occupy your attention, Sarah said in a devilish voice before she blushed. Anyways, as much as I’d love to spend the rest of the day cuddling with Luna, I should probably get up.

Probably, Nim agreed as Sarah gently pushed Luna’s wing off of her and gave the alicorn a kiss on the cheek. Luna’s eyes blinked open and she smiled.

“Good morning Sarah, Nim,” Luna told her, yawning slightly. “Did you sleep well?”

“Very,” Sarah answered before she glanced at her father who was still sleeping soundly. She walked over and patted him gently on the shoulder. “Dad, it’s time to wake up.”

“Never thought I’d hear you say that to me,” James replied before yawning and rolling on his side so that he was sitting upright. It was only then that Sarah caught sight of the 10mm he’d been holding in his other hand. The woman raised an eyebrow slightly at that but decided that it made sense, if she didn’t have Luna and Nim around she’d probably be doing the same thing... she still might.

Her father holstered the pistol at his side in an easy and familiar way that spoke of years of practice and then the three of them set about making breakfast over a new fire. It was surprising, James had somehow managed to gain a large number of cooking supplies and food which he stored in an old leather backpack. He also happened to be a glorious cook.

“Wow... this is the best meal I’ve had in... years I think,” Sarah complimented her father as she dug into her bowl of stew. “What is it?”

“Molerat stew,” James answered with a chuckle, Sarah’s eyebrows furrowed and she looked down at the bowl in her hands before back up at her father.

“Really?” she asked, not buying it for a second.

“Yes,” James answered, smiling at her. “It’s an old recipe I learned how to make when I was younger. Of course, we don’t have nearly as many of the ingredients here in the Capital Wasteland as we did out west... but I make do.”

“You came from out west?” Sarah asked him in confusion.

“Yes, all the way from Vault 21,” James replied before looking over to Luna who was in the midst of eating what looked like a wasteland salad of some sort. “And how is your breakfast treating you?”

“It is exceptional,” Luna replied, looking up from her meal, a piece of vegetation sticking to her bottom lip. It was quickly swiped up by her long velvety tongue. “Better than what we have had for quite some time.”

“Excellent,” James said, smiling. “I wasn’t sure if your tastes would match up well with ours.”

“Well they do,” Luna told him before her horn glowed blue and Daybreaker came free from its sheath on her side and she brought it up to float before her, inspecting the blade.

James watched the process curiously, he’d seen her use her magic before, not asking questions, simply observing. Luna frowned a little as she eyed the blade and she brought a small cloth out of her satchel as well, quickly rubbing the blade down.

“I must be more careful with her,” the alicorn said, still working at her task. “We are far from anyone who could repair her should she be damaged. Not that that is likely to happen, but still.”

“It can be damaged?” Sarah asked, raising an eyebrow. “I thought you said it was unbreakable.”

“Well, she is and she isn’t,” Luna answered. “She is in the sense that next to no physical strain will cause her to warp or shatter, but she isn’t because should I push her too far too fast her magic will run out.”

Daybreaker is enchanted but without an overabundance of natural magic that enchantment has little power to draw from, Nim added within Sarah’s mind. Normally this would not be an issue, Equestria is nothing if not full of magic, but here there is the distinct possibility that she will run out.

“Ah, I see, I think,” Sarah said, frowning as she worked the concept over in her mind. “So... the sword is kind of like a laser rifle? Run out of microfusion cells and it stops working right?”

“Indeed,” Luna replied. “She would simply become a large unbreakable stick.”

“So what you’re using to levitate things is actually called ‘magic’?” James asked Luna, speaking for the first time during the discussion.

“Yes,” Luna answered simply.

“And the fact that you’re violating several laws of physics is normal?” he inquired, raising an eyebrow slightly.

“I suppose so,” Luna replied. “Is that a problem?”

“No, no, just... strange,” the man replied before shaking his head. “Of course, so is the fact that you exist at all, so...”

“Just do what I do dad,” Sarah interjected. “Don’t question these things, it makes life easier.”

James cast a disparaging look at her. “Sarah, that is an absolutely awful attitude,” he told her before shaking his head and chuckling softly. “And yet, it doesn’t surprise me in the least.”

Sarah just grinned at him and then finished her meal. “Alright; let’s get going.”

“Alright, just give me a moment to get everything put away,” James replied as he packed up his gear. Sarah and Luna did the same though they didn’t take quite as long. Finally, they were ready to go and James took the lead through the door.

Unfortunately, he didn’t make it very far.

“Freeze,” a very angry and very tired female voice growled as a disturbingly large pistol pointed right between James’s eyes. Sarah was too far behind her father to get a clear shot, and neither could Luna. The woman with the pistol was wearing torn Talon Company armor and had an extremely angry expression on her face.

“Well hello there,” James replied, freezing in place.

“Shut up,” the woman growled. “I’ve fucking had it with you people, first I’m going to kill you, and then I’m going to kill the woman and the horse, and then I’m going to retire,” she growled.

“Ah, I see,” James said before his hands blurred.

His right palm came up and slapped the woman’s pistol wrist, catching her by surprise and sending the pistol falling to the ground. Before she had a chance to react to that the man had delivered a series of strikes to her chest, causing her to stumble back.

She managed to get her guard up in time to block another of the palm strikes and replied with a punch of her own. James saw it coming and slapped it away before his right arm darted out and slammed into her throat.

The woman’s mouth opened reflexively as she gasped in pain and James used that time to charge forwards and grab her head by both sides. The woman tried to fight him but the man’s grip was too strong, and with a simple motion James snapped her neck.

James let the body fall to the ground before turning back to see Sarah and Luna staring at him in shocked silence. Then purposefully he bent down and picked up the pistol and examined it before putting the safety on and tossing it to Sarah who caught it numbly.

“Well, that’s that then,” James stated with a small shrug as he cracked his neck. “Come on Sarah, let’s get back to Project Purity, I’ve got twenty years to make up for.”

Sarah just stared at his back as he began to walk away before Luna nudged her. “Yes, let’s get going,” the alicorn added.

Sarah nodded and then slowly began to walk.

That was... incredible, Nim stated, marveling at James’s display.

I... yes... I didn’t know he could do that, Sarah agreed slowly. I guess there are a lot of things about my father I didn’t know...

Wandering Moon Chapter 32: Sidequests and Noise Violations

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Hey Nim, I have a question, and I’d like you to not let Luna know about it, Sarah whispered quietly within her mind as their small group walked down the broken highway.

Hmm? What question is that? Nim inquired curiously.

Well... Luna and I are together, right? Sarah asked.

I would think so, Nim replied blandly. Unless human relationships place far less significance on sex then ponies.

Sarah blushed a little and unconsciously placed a hand on Luna’s back as the alicorn walked beside her. Luna looked at her curiously, but upon Sarah’s headshake went back to scanning for danger.

So, was that your question? Nim asked her.

No... it was just the beginning one, Sarah replied with a slight frown. Look... I’ve never done this whole ‘relationship’ thing before. I’ve only read about it in books two centuries old and to be honest... none of them really talked about this sort of thing.

Sarah, just what are you trying to ask me? Nim asked, growing tired of the woman’s beating around the bush.

Alright, sorry... I’m just wondering what to do, Sarah stated.

What to do about what? Nim asked.

What to do about me and Luna being together! Sarah exclaimed. I just don’t know what to do.

Wait, do you not want to be with her? Nim asked her, her voice dropping a little and becoming more... hostile.

No, it’s not that, I want to be with her, the woman said, letting out a small growl of frustration. I just... don’t know what to do with it!

You mean... you don’t know what to ‘do’ with the relationship? Nim inquired.

Yes-no-I don’t know, Sarah replied, rubbing her forehead a little. I just don’t have any experience with this. I know that we agreed to stay friends first through this but I don’t know how to act now... do I kiss her all the time or only when we make love?

Well, speaking from experience, we don’t believe Luna cares a great deal if you kiss her when you’re not about to make love, Nim replied. In fact, we would think that the more you kiss her the more she will appreciate it.

But in that case how do I act all the other times? Sarah asked, her eyebrows furrowing together. I... this is just so confusing.

Act like before, only make sure that she knows you love her, she replied. Honestly Sarah, it is not that complicated.

I guess... I’m just new to this, alright? Sarah asked with a sigh. The last thing I expected when I went out searching for dad was to end up together with a talking magical alicorn.

To be fair, neither of us expected to be banished and sent to a Wasteland where we’d eventually come to love a fairly hairless ape, Nim stated, though there was a hint of amusement in her voice. Still, we suppose that it is a good thing you have come forwards with your question. We would not want you to have done something foolish.

Yeah... tell me about it, Sarah replied with a small shake of her head.

“Sarah, is there something wrong?” Luna asked her quietly, making the woman jump slightly at the sudden verbal interruption.

“OH- no, not really,” she stated. “Just talking to Nim about things.”

“Ah, I see,” Luna said, nodding slightly. “Just remember... she does not always give the best advice.”

We resent that statement, Nim stated, clearly irked. Our advice is undoubtedly the best available. In fact, we would go so far as to wager that our advice is possibly without any sort of flaw.

“Luna, is it possible that someone without a body can have a big head?” Sarah asked Luna with a small smirk.

Luna let out a small snicker at that. “I do not know, but Nim certainly seems to have developed one.”

When did you become ‘clever’? Nim asked Sarah irritably. Last we checked you still had trouble with basic multiplication.

Sarah blushed and glared at nothing. “My math skills aren’t important,” she stated.

Oh? We suppose that we are doomed if you are required to save us all by doing calculus, Nim replied.

“Why would she ever be require to save us by doing calculus?” Luna asked with a puzzled expression. “The least you could do is make a convincing argument, Nim.”

“Besides, wouldn’t you be able to do it for me?” Sarah added.

Hmph, Nim stated, and if she’d had a nose, she would have given them an annoyed sniff. Well in the future you can both solve your own problems if you do not appreciate our obvious genius.

Sarah and Luna exchanged a look before they both began to snicker again. Meanwhile, James looked at them over his shoulder and frowned slightly before shaking his head. Either his daughter was crazy, or there was something he was missing. Knowing Sarah, it was the latter.

“So... Luna... is Nim staying in my head permanently?” Sarah asked Luna as the pair sat on the same bed in Project Purity that they’d ‘broken in’ not long before.

The trip back had been fairly non-eventful with nothing much happening, well, nothing eventful other than gaining an even greater respect for her father’s hands. Sarah almost felt bad for the poor raider who’d tried jumping him.

“It strikes me as the best solution,” Luna replied, shrugging her blue shoulders once. “After all; I can hear her words no matter where she is, to a certain extent anyways. So this arrangement works well, does it not?”

We certainly approve of it, Nim stated. This way we may watch out for Sarah and offer much needed advice to both of you.

“Oh yes, you and your ‘perfect’ advice. We do not need that much of it, Nim,” Luna replied with a small huff.

Right, Nim said, Sarah could somehow feel her rolling her eyes. To be honest the feeling was unsettling. Remind us again who needed to be told what an orgasm was?

“Fair point,” Luna muttered with another huff before glancing at Sarah who was eying her with a raised eyebrow, before blushing. “It is nothing to be concerned about Sarah...”

“Okay...” Sarah replied, shaking her head slightly. “So, now we need to decide what we’re going to be doing for the next two weeks.”

“Indeed, your father seemed quite adamant that it would take at least that long to get this facility up and running again before we could be of any real help,” Luna agreed.

“Yeah, and as much as I love my father... and how long I spent looking for him and everything... now that I know he’s safe I’m... just kind of bored,” Sarah said, shaking her head.

That’s often the way of things, Nim stated in her head. The quest is more engaging than the reward itself.

“Right, well, what will we be doing?” Luna asked Sarah with a frown. “Shall we simply explore this Wasteland or should we ask around and see if there’s anything that needs doing in Rivet City?”

“Hmm...” Sarah frowned in thought. “You know, I think I remember there being a guy in Doctor Li’s lab who looked like he needed something done. Tomorrow we can head over there and see if we can’t find something to do.”

“Does that mean I will have to wait outside again with Harkness?” Luna asked, not sounding overly thrilled with the prospect.

“Or one of the other security guards,” Sarah stated. “I doubt that he’s always on duty.”

Yes, that would be highly unlikely, Nim agreed. He would have to never sleep.

Sarah simply nodded and then smiled softly. “So... Dad’s hard at work upstairs and no one is going to be down here for a few hours,” she stated as she looked over at Luna. “And I do have a promise to keep to Nim...”

“What sort of promise?” Luna inquired with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh... just a thing,” Sarah said, her voice suddenly becoming much deeper and more seductive as she let Nim take more control. “She promised us control for a night and even if the situation is a bit different then we thought it would be... we don’t think you’ll complain a great deal.”

Luna took one look at the expression on Sarah’s face and gulped, this promised to be... interesting.

“So in the future, please try and be quieter,” James finished as he sat across from Luna and Sarah over the breakfast table the morning after. “It’s very hard, and uncomfortable, to work with that much shouting.”

“I-um-okay,” Sarah said, blushing deeply.

There was not that much shouting, Nim stated within her head. And we have nothing to be embarrassed about, Luna was the one shouting.

Luna shot Nim an annoyed glance, but diminished it when she remembered that she was technically just glaring at Sarah.

“Yes, well we shall keep that in mind in the future,” Luna added to Sarah’s statement.

“Good,” James said, giving them both a smile. “So, I take it that you’re heading out today?” he asked.

“You knew?” Sarah asked in surprise.

“Well, I wish you weren’t, but I know how much you hate to sit around doing virtually nothing,” James replied with a small shrug.

“Yeah... I’m sorry dad,” Sarah stated, looking down. “It’s just... two weeks is too long for me to wait around.”

“That’s quite alright, to be honest with you I wish I could have you two press a few buttons and flip a switch to get this old girl started too, but it doesn’t work that way,” James agreed, shaking his head mournfully. “Years of neglect don’t just vanish that way.”

“I guess that would be pretty unrealistic,” Sarah agreed, shaking her head slightly.

“I suppose it would,” James said with a small smile. “It’s not like I could send you around doing grunt work either. We’ll have people for that.”

“I wouldn’t really mind all that much to be honest,” Sarah replied before shrugging. “But anyways, yeah, we’re heading out after breakfast.”

“We should see if Rivet City has a market of some kind,” Luna said, entering the discussion once again. “I would not want us to run out of microfusion cells or bullets.”

“Good idea,” Sarah said with a smile as she put a hand on Luna’s neck. “Does Rivet City have a market dad?”

“Only the best and biggest in the Wasteland,” James answered dryly with a small chuckle.

“Oh,” Sarah said, a blush crossing her cheeks. “I didn’t know,” she added, flicking one of her black hairs away from her eyes.

“I wouldn’t expect you too,” her father replied. “You’re still adjusting to life out here.”

“Indeed she is,” Luna agreed, giving Sarah’s cheek a nuzzle. “Yet she has kept us both alive despite my stubbornness.”

“You aren’t that stubborn,” Sarah replied, though she did lean slightly into the nuzzle.

Lies, Nim murmured quietly within their heads though it was good natured.

James just looked at the pair and a smile formed on his lips. “You have no idea how happy I am that you did,” he told them. “Not only that, but you’ve found someone who cares about you... out here in the Wastes, that’s no easy feat.”

“Thanks dad,” Sarah said, a faint blush on her cheeks once more.

“You’re welcome,” James replied. “Now you both just have to work on your volume.”

Sarah’s eyes widened at the unexpected ‘jab’ but then began to chuckle. “Yeah, I guess we do,” she agreed.

Luna smiled and glanced at Sarah. “Indeed, perhaps next time it will be Sarah who needs to practice.”

James just raised an eyebrow slightly and shook his head, to be honest, he was just happy that Sarah had finally found someone who made her happy.

“Let’s see, got my shotgun repaired, got more ammo for it, got more .32 for my hunting rifle, along with some microfusion cells, got a new knife...” Sarah murmured to herself as she walked through the market, she’d already been to see Zimmer and gotten the information on the ‘android’. He’d seemed like a creep to Sarah and Nim had agreed emphatically, but Sarah had still agreed to ‘help’ him. If nothing else she wanted to meet the android.

“Got some new pieces to reinforce my armour, five more stimpacks...”

Thanks to us you weren’t ripped off, Nim added helpfully.

Right, thanks again, Sarah stated as she continued going over her mental list. “Sold all of my Jet because it’s pointless, did the same with the Mentats... offloaded all the random silverware that I somehow managed to pick up... why did I even pick them up?”

We are not sure, Nim replied. Perhaps you were just attracted by the shininess?

Sarah just rolled her eyes. “Hmm... did I forget anything...”

We cannot think of anything, Nim stated. Mayhaps we can return to our fair Luna before she does something foolish?

You should give her a little more credit, Sarah replied.

We give her plenty of credit, Nim said. Otherwise we would not have agreed to remain here in your mind. We simply know her because we are part of her. We know implicitly how occasionally foalish she can be.

I guess you would, Sarah said as she pushed her way through the crowd of people and started on her way up the metal staircase. She pulled the door to the Wasteland open to find Luna and Harkness staring at each other silently.

Sarah froze where she was, but she sensed no animosity between the two. So, puzzled, she stepped out of the doorway and slightly to the side in order to watch them. The pair stayed staring at each other for another two minutes, unblinking until Luna let out a snort and turned away.

“How do you do that?!” she demanded of him with a glare. “We have out-stared dragons!”

“I don’t know,” Harkness replied, shrugging.

“Am I... interrupting something here?” Sarah asked, looking between the two with a slightly raised eyebrow.

Luna started as Sarah’s voice intruded and turned to face her with a small embarrassed blush.

“No, not particularly,” Luna said, shaking her head. “Harkness and I were just having a staring contest.”

You have become a foal once more without us within your head apparently, Nim stated, her voice rather dry.

Luna ignored her as Sarah walked over and put a hand on her neck. “Well, at least you two aren’t threatening to shoot each other any more,” she said, giving Harkness a smile.

“Mhm,” the man replied uninterestedly. “She’s not worth the effort.”

Luna snorted. “You simply know that you could not hope to match my majesty.”

“Mhm,” Harkness said before he stretched his neck. “Anyways, my shift’s over.”

“So, where are we going Sarah?” Luna asked as they watched Harkness walk through one of the doors.

“Well, I’m not sure to be honest,” Sarah answered with a small shrug. “All I know is that we’re looking for an android.”

“Which is?” Luna inquired with a puzzled look.

It is like a human but made of metals like a robot but made to appear human, Nim explained helpfully. We must say that we do not like the idea. Apparently they are ‘made’ strictly for use as slaves.

“Slaves... I have no love of slavers,” Luna stated coldly. “They are one step below necromancers and those who practice black magic.”

“Yeah, I’m mostly following this lead because I’m curious about where it’s going,” Sarah agreed, shrugging as she began to lead Luna down the long walkway. “I’m definitely not going to turn whoever this guy is into that creep Zimmer.”

Assuredly not, Nim agreed.

“Oh yeah, I got you a present,” Sarah added, looking over at Luna with a smile.

“Really?” Luna asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Yep,” Sarah said as she reached into her bag and pulled out the package of microfusion cells and handed it to Luna who accepted it in her magic.

“OH! The ability to rain death upon our enemies!” Luna exclaimed with a wide grin before she leaned over and kissed Sarah. “How did you know my favorite gift?”

“Practice I guess,” Sarah said, a small smile on her face. “Now... where should we go?”

“I... don’t know, what did this ‘Zimmer’ fellow suggest?” the alicorn asked as she stuffed the microfusion cells in her saddle pockets.

“Well, he recommended asking around the Wasteland’s doctors or tinkerers,” Sarah answered. “Said that if anyone would know where an android would hide it would be them. I already asked the doctor in Rivet City but came up with bupkis.”

“So... where is the next closest doctor?” Luna asked with a frown.

“Underworld, apparently all we have to do is cut through the metro over there,” Sarah replied, pointing off to the right. “And we’ll get there in around half an hour.”

“Must we go there?” Luna and Nim asked simultaneously before the mare looked over at Sarah’s head and frowned.

“Apparently even apart we think the same,” she mused.

“Seems like it,” Sarah agreed. “And yes, yes we have to go to Underworld. Sorry Luna.”

“I suppose there are worse places we can go,” Luna said with a small sigh as she removed Daybreaker from her sheath. “And we have insurance if something unpleasant happens.”

“Yeah, just try to keep it in your sheath okay?” the woman asked as she patted Luna’s neck.

“We are not some jumpy stallion trying to stick his blade into everyone he sees,” Luna stated with a roll of her eyes.

Well, we for one shall be watching for any deceit, Nim stated. Now, shall we get this show on the road?

Wandering Moon Chapter 33: Guns, Ghouls, and Glory

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A rotted brown limb flew in past Sarah’s face.


A spray of two hundred year old blood whizzed through the air.


A shrunken brown head rolled across the floor in front of her.


A pair of bisected torsos were thrown to the ground.


Sarah winced slightly as a pair of ancient kneecaps were snapped.

“FOUL CREATURES OF DEATH, COME TO ME AND DIE AGAIN!” Luna shouted as Daybreaker swirled and slashed around her.

She’s... really enthusiastic, Sarah noted to Nim as she stood several feet back from the alicorn who was making her way through the feral ghouls with an almost scary level of ease.

Well, she, like us, does have a hatred of necromancy, and even if these creatures are not strictly necromantic in origin it is always good to rid the world of ‘zombies’, Nim replied. Oh, and one is approaching on the right... oh that’s new.

Sarah turned to see a ghoul charging at her, its skin was glowing a strange sickly radioactive green. The woman’s eyes widened and she brought her combat shotgun up to bear on it. She pulled the trigger and the dozens pellets shot out and slammed into the glowing one’s face. Sarah saw its jaw snap and its nose broke but it continued to charge her. Worse, the damage she’d done healed as she watched.

The glowing one closed with Sarah and faster than she could react, swung one of its claw-like hands at her. Sarah felt herself being lifted off of her feet as the glowing zombie sent her flying through the air. She landed with a thud against the wall and let out a groan as she rolled to the side, barely avoiding a downswing from the glowing one.

Go for the legs, Nim advised. Sarah reacted instinctively, sending one of her legs out in a hard kick to the glowing one’s right leg. Her steel toed boot slammed through the bone, snapping it in half and sending the ghoul tumbling to the ground. Sarah returned to her feet and her shotgun roared four times as she pulped the ghoul’s head into a pile of glowing jelly.

“Let’s see you heal from that,” Sarah grunted.

Well done, Nim said helpfully. Now then, let’s see where our dearest Luna has gotten off too.

Sarah frowned and then looked around the museum room to find that at some point during her encounter with the glowing one, Luna had indeed departed. On the bright side, there was a definite trail to follow, one of dismembered limbs and blood.

As she walked through the museum hallway, Sarah had to shake her head.

How did she get this far ahead of me? she asked Nim. We only spent thirty seconds killing that glowing one.

She simply moves faster when she is enjoying herself, Nim replied.

I guess so, Sarah said as she started up a set of stairs. In the distance they heard automatic fire accompanied by Luna’s voice and what sounded like insults. Sarah picked up the pace, bludgeoning a ghoul in the head with the butt of her shotgun and cracking its skull as she ran down the corridor.

Sarah, brace! Nim suddenly shouted in her head and Sarah froze in mid stride before bracing herself. Thanks to that, the ghoul who tackled her a literal second later ran into a solid wall of womanly muscle and armour.

The ghoul let out a hiss of fury and brought its claws down at the woman but Sarah dropped her combat shotgun to the ground and whipped out her new combat knife from its sheath on her hip and stabbed it directly up into the ghoul’s lower jaw. The sharp serrated knife cut deep and the blade lodged itself where she’d shoved it but the ghoul still flailed against her.

Sarah lowered her center of gravity, as she’d been taught, and used the ghoul’s momentum to send it over her back. Then the woman pivoted, smashing her foot down through the ghoul’s neck. It snapped with a satisfying crack and the woman bent down to retrieve both her knife and her shotgun.

Thanks Nim, if not for you that one would have taken me by surprise, Sarah told Nim as she cleaned off her knife and then sheathed it.

It was no trouble, Nim stated simply. Tis the least we can do. Besides our rather expansive feelings for you in general, we are also residing within this body and do not wish to see it injured.

Sarah smiled a little and simply continued down the hallway, taking her time now. The sound of gunfire had ceased as had Luna’s shouting, and the woman could only hope that was because Luna had destroyed or killed whatever or whoever was shooting at her. She vaulted her way over a desk in her way and came to a wrought iron door, or to be more correct, she came to the remains of a wrought iron door which had been destroyed by Daybreaker.

The woman walked through it slowly, her shotgun raised and found herself standing in the remains of what appeared to be... a library? The walls were lined with shelves full of burned or ruined books and a couple of cracked tables filled the center of the room. Two pile of hissing scrap metal lay on the floor along with a pile of dead ghouls who had been dismembered in a large variety of ways.

Luna was nowhere to be found.

Sarah frowned and prepared to call out to her, but before she could, Luna emerged from a room on the upper story, a smile on her face. She took a half running trot and opened her wings, allowing her to glide gently down to where Sarah was standing, grin on her face the whole way.

“Well, you look happy,” Sarah observed with a small chuckle as she banished her worry.

“Indeed we are!” Luna said, her grin widening as her horn flared and a long rifle floated off of a strap on her back and came to float in front of Sarah. “I have found you a gift!”

Sarah raised an eyebrow as she took the weapon out of Luna’s telekinetic grip and began to examine it. It was a very well maintained lever action rifle which looked to be in mint condition. Engraved in gold on the side was the number six. The woman found the ammunition slot and frowned as she saw the requirement.

“Hmm...” she mused before she reached into her ammo pouch and dug out a few .44 magnum bullets which she quickly fed into it, then like an expert she finished loading it and cocked the rifle.

“Do you like it?” Luna asked her, the alicorn’s eyes looking at her eagerly.

“Yes, yes I do,” Sarah replied with a smile. “I’m just kind of surprised it works, this brand was originally designed to take a different type of .44 round. Guess someone modified it. Where did you find this?”

“In a display case on the upper level,” Luna answered with a small shrug. “Oh I’m so glad that you like it,” the alicorn added, leaning forwards to nuzzle Sarah lightly. The woman smiled and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“I think I’d like anything you gave me,” Sarah told her as she rubbed behind Luna’s right ear. “But I really like guns so this was the perfect gift.”

Perhaps we could save any intimate moments for when we aren’t surrounded by corpses? Nim asked dryly from within Sarah’s mind. Something about the dead bodies is preventing us from enjoying this.

Sarah blushed and noticed that Nim was right, Luna apparently did as well for she moved her head back.

“You’re right Nim,” Luna replied as she stepped past Sarah and towards the destroyed doorway. “Perhaps we should hurry back so that we can be paid?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Sarah agreed as she slung the lever action rifle over her shoulder on its strap. “And with the caps we make, I can actually afford the ammo for this baby.”

“I see, is it expensive?” Luna asked her.

“Fairly but not too outrageous,” the woman replied as she stepped over a dead body. “Even if it is a bit pricy, it’s still a really good gun Luna.”

“I’m simply happy that you like it,” Luna stated happily. “It seems that we're constantly unable to show you how much we truly care for you.”

“I haven’t noticed,” Sarah replied casually as she placed a hand on Luna’s neck. “You’ve certainly been everything I could have asked for in a... lover.”

“That is not what we mean,” Luna said, letting out a sigh. “Sarah, before we met you... the world was full of darkness and pain. I had no friends other than my sister and Clover, and I betrayed both of them. I lead an army of supporters to their doom... and I didn’t even realize it until it was too late.” She paused to take a breath and Sarah was about to speak up but Luna silenced her with a wing to her lips.

“Then I appeared here and found you, the odd looking ape-like woman who I immediately tried to kill without even bothering to get to know,” Luna said, looking down at the hallway floor beneath them. “If I had not met you... I would be long dead and I would have died without even a single friend to call my own, not counting Nim... but she doesn’t really in this case.”

I resent that, Nim murmured softly but Luna didn’t seem to hear her.

“So Sarah... in short; you are the one who saved me from both myself and the world, and for that I am eternally grateful,” Luna said softly. “And I feel that I will never be able to wash away the debt that I owe you.”

Sarah remained silent for a moment as they continued walking and then she paused where she was and turned to stare into Luna’s eyes.

“You don’t owe me anything Luna,” she said in a fierce whisper. “I don’t want ‘us’ to be about one of us trying to make something up to the other or holding something over the other... I just want it to be about us.”

Luna remained silent for a moment before she nodded faintly and then leaned her head forwards to gently kiss the woman. They stayed locked like that for a long moment until Nim once more interrupted.

We’re surrounded by corpses and we are unsure if we have killed all of the ghouls. Perhaps we can do this later? she asked.

Sarah broke away from Luna, rubbing a strand of stray spittle from her lips and blushed. “We need to stop doing that...” she murmured.

“Agreed,” Luna said with a blush. “Note to self... have romantic moments in places where we know we cannot be ambushed.”

Thank you, Nim stated. As much as we enjoy the sensations that come from all of this, there are better times.

The pair made their way out of the deserted section of the museum and walked into Underworld where they were greeted by Winthrop who smiled a rotted toothed smile at them.

“So, how did it go?” he asked them.

“We killed somewhere around fifty of them I think,” Sarah answered. “We also knocked out some turrets in the farthest section so you guys can check and see if there’s anything worthwhile in there.”

“Excellent,” Winthrop replied as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a large cap bag. “A thousand caps for a job well done,” he said before he reached into his pocket for another bag. “And another two hundred for taking care of those turrets.”

Sarah accepted the caps and slid them into her pocket with a small nod. “Thanks Winthrope, by the way, do you know if anyone here has any info on a runaway android?” she asked him.

The jumpsuit wearing ghoul scratched his chin for a moment and frowned in thought. “Hmm... Yeah, I picked up a holotape about that,” he said, reaching into his pocket to pull out a holotape and handing it to Sarah. “There’s not much to it really, just that the android is looking for someone to help him disappear. I think Doctor Barrows might know more, he’s back in the Chop Shop,” he answered, jerking his thumb towards the end of the hallway.

“Thanks,” Sarah replied with a smile as she pocketed the holotape.

“Indeed, thank you,” Luna added as the two began to walk away from him. “So, shall we go to this ‘chop shop’ first?”

“No, going to do a bit of shopping,” Sarah replied as she headed towards Underworld Outfitters. She pushed her way through the door and found Tulip sitting behind the counter reading a rather large book. At the sound of the bell above the door going off, the ghoul looked up and smiled when she saw who it was.

“Well look who it is,” she said as she got out of her chair. “It’s my favorite smooth skin and her alicorn.”

“Yes it is,” Sarah replied with a small chuckle as she walked up to the counter.

“So what can I do for you?” Tulip asked with a raised eyebrow. “Got any more half dead miniguns to sell?”

“No, not at the moment, if I find any I’ll be sure to bring them to you though,” Sarah answered as she set her bag down on the ground and began to pull out a variety of hunting rifles, assault rifles and a set of Talon Company armour that she hadn’t been able to get rid of yet. “How much can you give me for the lot of this?”

That is hardly the way you start trading negotiations, Nim commented within her mind.

Oh well, I trust her to give me the best deal she can, Sarah replied. She did take those crappy miniguns after all.

“Hmm...” Tulip mused as she looked at each of the different rifles, checking the different components for wear and tear. “Alright,” she said after around three minutes. “I can give you four hundred caps for the guns and fifty for the armour.”

Fifty? It is worth at least twice that! Nim exclaimed within her mind.

“Are you sure you couldn’t go higher on that second number?” Sarah asked her. “I mean, it’s good quality armour isn’t it?”

“Technically yes,” Tulip answered. “But, and this is a large but, those Talon idiots die in droves out here in the Mall. I’ve got somewhere around twenty suits of their armour hanging up in the back taking up space. So the price I’m willing to offer is fifty caps. Take it or leave it,” the ghoul stated resolutely.

Conniving undead wench, Nim stated within Sarah’s head. She is using logical economic arguments against us. We call foul!

“Alright, I guess that’s fine,” Sarah said, ignoring Nim’s comment; though she did wonder if the other consciousness was being sarcastic or serious.

Tulip nodded and quickly set about sorting and packing away the gear Sarah had sold her before taking out the appropriate bag of caps. “So, going to be doing any buying today?” the ghoul asked. “Or are you just here to drain my caps?”

“Actually, I was wondering if you had anything this could fire,” Sarah said as she reached back for the strap of her lever action rifle and brought it up for Tulip to see.

To her surprise, Tulip actually let out a whistle, how she managed to whistle as a ghoul was beyond Sarah.

“Wow, I didn’t think there were any of these left back there,” Tulip stated with a thoughtful smile as she reached for the rifle and took it from Sarah’s hands, quickly going over it with nimble fingers. “This is one of Lincoln’s repeaters,” she informed Sarah before handing it back to the woman. “It’s a real workhorse as far as lever action rifles go. And yeah, I actually just got a shipment of .44 rounds yesterday. Around a hundred of them going for four hundred caps all together,” she added.

“That seems a bit steep,” Luna stated as she looked at the ghoul. “That means that each is worth four caps. Yet if Sarah is to be buying them in bulk like this then she deserves a discount.”

“There is a discount,” Tulip said rather flatly. “Normally they’re six caps each. I’m lowering it by two because I like you, that and I wouldn’t want that beauty to go hungry,” she added, motioning at the gun Sarah had placed once more on her back.

“Alright, it’s fine,” Sarah replied as she pulled out the appropriate number of caps and handed them over to Tulip who pulled out a box of ammo and passed it over to her.

“There you go, anything else?” Tulip asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Hmm...” Sarah frowned and then figured ‘the hell with it’.

“You wouldn’t happen to know anything about a ‘runaway android’ would you?” she asked. Something remarkable happened to Tulip's face, it went from mostly friendly to guarded in a matter of seconds.

That would be a yes, Nim stated unnecessarily within Sarah’s head.

“Why do you want to know?” Tulip asked her, frowning at Sarah.

“I just want to help him get away from Zimmer,” Sarah answered honestly.

“Indeed, the man did not seem very ‘friendly’ when Sarah met with him,” Luna added. “So we seek him so that we can help him get farther away.”

Tulip raised an eyebrow slightly and glanced between the two of them before letting out a slight sigh.

“Look, I trust you two which is the only reason I’m about to tell you any of this. If I find out that you’re actually hunters I’ll track you down and kill you both. Alright?” she stated with narrowed eyebrows. Both Sarah and Luna nodded. “Okay then. I’m a member of the ‘Railroad’ and it’s our job to help these androids get away,” Tulip said at last. “Though last I heard I don’t think there’s much that you can help with.”

“Oh?” Luna inquired.

“Not unless you know how to use a Circuit Neuralizer or a Lipoplasticator and Micro Dermal Graftilizer,” she replied with a slight shrug.

“I... have no idea what any of those words mean other than circuit and micro,” Sarah stated, feeling suddenly very lost.

“Yeah, that’s what I figured, what with your inability to do multiplication,” Tulip commented. “Anyways, that’s as much as I know, I think Barrows might have a little bit more information for you but I’m not positive.”

“Okay, thanks Tulip,” Sarah replied.

“You’re welcome, just make sure that this doesn’t come to bite me in the ass, alright?” Tulip asked with a shake of her head.

“Will do,” Sarah stated as she walked towards the door. “See you around Tulip.”

“Goodbye,” Luna added before they exited the shop. “That went well,” Luna stated with a smile as she turned to Sarah.

“Yes it did,” Sarah replied. “I didn’t think it would be so easy to find all this information out.”

“Perhaps we were simply lucky,” Luna said with a small shrug. “Anyways, shall we head for the ‘Chop Shop’ now?”

“Sounds fine to me,” Sarah agreed before she leaned over to give Luna a soft kiss on the cheek. “And thanks for the help in there... sometimes I just don’t know what to say.”

“I was more than happy to help,” Luna replied, a light blush coloring her cheeks despite herself. “Though you are welcome.”

“I know you were,” Sarah said with a smile. “Now let’s get going and see if Doctor Barrows has the information we need eh?”

“Yes, lets,” Luna agreed, giving Sarah a short nuzzle before she started in the direction of the Chop Shop. Meanwhile, Winthrope frowned at them from where he was leaning against the wall.

“That is the strangest couple I’ve ever seen,” he mused to himself before shaking his head.

Wandering Moon Chapter 34: Clinics and Rangers

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Sarah and Luna walked into the Chop Shop to find what appeared to be your average clinic; a few beds with medical equipment beside them were in neat orderly rows. The odd things that were immediately noticeable however was the dead feral ghoul lying on one of the gunneries along with the unconscious human woman who looked exceedingly pale lying on another. The final odd thing was the row of windows which overlooked an enclosure full of glowing ghouls like the one that Sarah had fought earlier.

Without meaning too, Sarah walked over to the unconscious woman and examined her with Luna standing a little ways behind, scanning the room.

“Hmm... she’s obviously in a coma,” Sarah murmured as she looked her over with a frown.

“I’m afraid she’s going to be out for a while. She’s not well at all,” a raspy voice said from behind her making Sarah have to resist the urge to jump. She turned to see a ghoul in a pair of doctor’s scrubs standing behind her. “Don’t worry though, I’m sure the rest of Reilly's Rangers will show up soon and take her home.”

“Who?” Sarah asked him with a small frown, unfamiliar with the name.

“Oh, you must be new around here,” the ghoul replied with a small chuckle. “They’re a mercenary company that bases itself out of the D.C. Ruins. I’m assuming she’s their leader Reilly. What was left of her armour had her name stenciled on it. She was in a pretty bad way when we found her outside Underworld.”

A mercenary company, like those damnable Talon Company mercenaries who have been making our lives hell? Nim asked within Sarah’s head. Interesting... mayhaps if we can help her she can convince her fellow mercenaries to ensure that we remove those fools from our tails.

“I see...” Sarah said as she glanced at Luna who nodded a confirmation. “So... Doctor Barrows I presume?”

“Yes, that’s me,” the ghoul replied with a nod.

“Right... so, can you tell me what’s wrong with Miss Reilly?” Sarah asked as she spared a glance at the wounded ranger.

“She had multiple lacerations, contusions, a broken leg, some internal bleeding, and blunt force trauma,” the ghoul explained easily as if he had it memorized. “She hasn’t been conscious since they brought her in here a few days ago. I’d say she tangled with some Super Mutants and lost. It’s a miracle she isn’t dead.”

The information flashed through Sarah’s mind and she recounted all of her father’s medical lessons that he’d given her in the hopes that she’d become a Doctor like himself. Not all of them had stuck but she had a grasp on some of it. Maybe all she needed was this doctor’s opinion to fill in the blanks.

“Do you think there’s any way to revive her?” Sarah asked after a moment.

“Well... I wouldn’t recommend it,” Barrows stated. “She’s in some sort of coma. It’s dangerous to force someone out of it. There’s no telling when she’ll come out of it I’m afraid.”

Yet she’s been in one for several days now so... it is either now or never we believe, Nim stated. Do you know how to perform this operation Sarah?

Maybe... Sarah replied before asking Barrows one final question. “Do you mind if I try to revive her?”

“Unless you’re an expert at medicine, I wouldn’t recommend it. You may end up doing more harm than good,” he told her with a frown. “However... I’m all for helping my patients. So if you think you have the ability, be my guest.”

Sarah nodded. “I won’t let you down Doctor,” she stated as she turned away from Barrows and walked over to Reilly, grabbing several tools and going to work.

Meanwhile, Luna watched her with interested eyes. Sarah became so focused on her task that she forgot about everything else and as Luna studied her, she found that somehow made her even more beautiful than before.

She is so focused, so driven, so... intense, Luna whispered to Nim over their private link.

Indeed she is, Nim replied affectionately. Her mind is so focused on her task that I doubt even an explosion would distract her from it.

Luna smiled as she resisted the urge to go up behind Sarah and kiss her on the cheek as she worked. You know Nim... you sound so very happy.

We do... don’t we? Nim replied slowly, as if it surprised even herself.

Yes, you really do, Luna stated, allowing a bit of affection to slip into her mental voice. Far more then you ever were within my head.

Yes well... we still wish we could return to you... but we like it here as well, Nim told her. It is so much more... free here. We do not feel the constant urge to nettle and despair like we did within your mind.

Luna frowned at that. Strange... I was unaware that you felt had that problem... I thought you only did that because it was your nature as part of my mind.

As did we, but here in Sarah’s mind, the feeling is absent, Nim replied. Make of that what you will.

“And there,” Sarah said as she inserted a needle into Reilly's neck and pushed down the plunger before pulling it slowly out.

The effect was immediate. The unconscious woman’s eyes blinked open and she turned to look at Sarah with wide eyes from where she lay. “What... what happened... where am I... how long have I been out?”

“You were found seriously wounded outside of Underworld about two days ago,” Sarah answered as she placed a steadying hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Just lie there for a moment alright?”

The other woman nodded a little and closed her eyes before taking a deep breath. “Right... can’t remember what I was doing...” she trailed off and then her eyes widened. “Wait! Oh shit!” she shouted. “My men... my team! What happened to them?” she demanded as she tried to rise. Sarah pushed her back down, gently of course.

“Like I said, you’re not in any condition to be up and about,” Sarah informed her. “Just stay down for a bit longer alright? I’ll answer any questions that I can.”

“That’s not the way I do things!” Reilly said as she pushed Sarah’s hand from her shoulder and tried to get up. “Do you have any idea what it would do to my reputation if word got around that Reilly of Reilly’s Rangers was laid up in a hospital bed?”

“Not really,” Sarah stated firmly, once more pushing the woman down.

“Stop that!” the weakened woman said.

“Fine, Luna, please keep her down,” Sarah said, looking over her shoulder at Luna. Reilly followed her gaze and finally spotted the alicorn.

“The fuck?” she asked before Luna’s light blue aura flowed over her and she found herself unable to sit up as an invisible force pushed lightly against her.

“Reilly, meet Luna, Luna, meet Reilly,” Sarah said by way of introduction, still rather surprised at how easy being casual about Luna had become.

“Hello,” Luna said pleasantly as she walked a bit closer, Reilly stared at her dumbfounded for a moment before she shook her head.

“I’m not hallucinating the blue horse with the mane made of stars, am I?” the woman asked before she took a deep breath and let it out. “Alright... okay... so I’m not crazy... good.” Then she turned back to Sarah. “Okay... so you’re that woman I heard about on the radio... right?”

“That’s what people keep telling me,” Sarah replied with a small blush. “Honestly though, I don’t listen to it very much.”

“Ah, alright... well, Three Dog has been spouting some kind of nonsense about a woman who flies around on a magical blue horse that can talk,” Reilly said with a small sardonic smile. “Though I guess it wasn’t nonsense, was it?”

“No, it was not,” Luna stated emphatically. “Though we cannot blame you for thinking such. To be honest; the fact I’m here at all still comes as a constant surprise to me as well.”

“Right...” Reilly said as she digested that bit of info. “Err, anyways, I’m probably too hurt to help my boys, but you two might just be able too.”

“Okay, what do you need us to do?” Sarah asked, figuring that she’d woken the woman so she might as well humor her. “Though do you mind skipping most of the story and just telling us what we need to know?”

“My team is trapped on the roof of the Statesman Hotel in Vernon Square and completely surrounded by Super Mutants. Their ammo is probably almost gone and I have no idea much longer they have to live,” the woman explained quickly.

Well now... this is interesting, Nim stated as Sarah mulled over her options. It seems that we have been presented with the opportunity to be big damn heroes.

Big damn heroes? Sarah asked, caught a bit off guard by the phrase.

Indeed, we shall show up in the nick of time to liberate these men from the jaws of death, Nim said with a mental smile. The term was coined by one of our top lieutenants, he was fond of wearing a brown coat over top of his armour and saved us on several occasions.

Right... Sarah trailed off and then glanced at Luna, raising an eyebrow slightly. “What do you think Luna? A chance to be ‘big damn heroes’ sound good to you?”

“Indeed it does,” Luna replied with a nod.

“Alright, we’ll do it,” Sarah told Reilly who let out a slightly relived breath.

“Whew, I was holding my breath on that one I think,” she said as she gently scratched the back of her neck. “I wasn’t sure what you were going to say.”

“Well, I like helping people I guess,” Sarah replied.

“Right; all I ask is that you hurry, I don’t know how much longer they will be able to survive up there,” Reilly replied while giving Sarah an intense look. “Also, I’d recommend that you try to find Theo, he was our ammo guy, here’s the code for his box,” she added as she quickly reached into her pocket and handed a small info stick to Sarah who quickly inserted it into her Pip-Boy.

Sarah just smiled and nodded. “Thank you Reilly, I promise, we’ll get your boys home safe,” she swore.

“Thank you,” the woman said before looking at Luna. “Think you could let me go now? I’m not going anywhere for a while so long as I know that you two are on the case.” Luna nodded and released her hold on Reilly, allowing the woman to sit up a little in the bed.

“We should get going,” Sarah said as she patted Luna on the neck softly. “See you again soon Reilly, and when we do your team will be safe and sound.”

“They damn well better be,” Reilly said angrily, though she didn’t sound like she was mad at Sarah.

Sarah and Luna nodded and shuffled out of the Chop Shop. “Wasn’t there something else we were supposed to get while we were in there?” Luna asked Sarah with a frown.

“Yeah... but we can get it later,” Sarah replied as she began to march out of Underworld. “We have people to save Luna, let’s get our asses in gear and do it.”

Luna looked at her love, a look of pure determination was plastered across her face and the mare had the sudden urge to kiss her deeply, so she did.

When they parted, Sarah looked at her with a small frown.

“What was that for?” she asked, a bit befuddled by the suddenness of the kiss.

“For being so incredible,” Luna replied before she stepped in front of Sarah and began to walk forwards. “Come on, we have an appointment on a rooftop.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 35: A New Face

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Celestia admired the purple egg sitting comfortably within the bed of flames and ashes. She knew it was getting close to its hatching time, seven hundred or so years having passed already. The mare shook her head, marvelling at how time seemed to fly. It seemed like only yesterday her father had dropped it off with her on that faithful Luna’s Day, and now she was looking forward to what kind of dragonette would hatch. Would it be a boy or a girl? Kind or mean? Smart or stupid?

Of course, given that it was her father’s egg she suspected that he or she would be kind. Added to that was that dragons learned ‘through the shell’ so the mare had taken the time every day for the last seven hundred years to read to him/her in the hopes that he would be intelligent. Still, regardless of anything else, Celestia would love her little brother or sister and do her best to raise him or her.

“Your majesty I hate to interrupt your morning ritual, but there’s a situation developing that we believe you should be aware of,” a familiar voice spoke out from behind her.

Celestia turned away from the egg and her eyes took in the handsome sight of one of her personal guards; Tornado Kicker. Tornado was a black furred pegasus stallion from the Kicker Military Clan, a long time component of her guard.

“It’s fine Tornado,” Celestia said with a small shrug. “My brother or sister has probably grown tired of my voice as it is.”

“I’m not sure if that’s possible your Majesty,” Tornado replied with a small wink. Celestia smiled, she’d always enjoyed having him in her ranks. It was refreshing to have somepony who was enough of a stallion to flirt with her. The blue eyed stallion grinned a little and then became a bit more sober. “Anyways, we’ve discovered the existence of another alicorn.”

What?!” Celestia exclaimed, her voice unexpectedly tense. But it’s far too early for Luna’s return! she thought to herself frantically, her mind racing a mile a minute. Aloud she added. “Is it my sister?”

Tornado shook his head as he began to lead her towards... one of the hangers. “No Ma’am. It’s just a filly,” he replied.

“A filly? How young is she?” Celestia asked.

“Ten years old your Majesty,” Tornado answered. “And no, we have no idea how we were unaware of her existence until now.”

Celestia closed her eyes for a moment and let out a long sigh. “How did we find out about her?”

“Her father passed away recently and she was put up for adoption,” Tornado told her as they neared the hanger. “Apparently the adoption service decided that her ‘condition’ was important enough to call the guard and following Procedure 1029 we have brought her here.”

“Ah... yes,” Celestia said with a small nod.

Procedure 1029 had been designed to make sure that any foal or filly with an extraordinary ability was brought to her, mostly to ensure that they didn’t cause any damage with said ability.

Over the years she had trained seven Alpha+ unicorn mages found in the outskirts of Equestria thereby saving them and everypony around them from dangerous surges. She’d also managed to find ten pegasi who had gone onto become either Wonderbolts or Royal Guards, of which Tornado was one who had been aptly named as it turned out. Finally, and most surprisingly she’d uncovered an earth pony who had somehow discovered the secrets of Chaos Magic.

Still, in all her years she had never dreamed that there would be another alicorn uncovered... this promised to be interesting.

“What condition is the poor dear in?” Celestia asked, her mind turning maternal.

“Well, her father died two days ago and she was just ‘abducted’ by four armoured guard ponies and whisked away to a strange and unfamiliar city far away from anypony she knows and is about to meet a ‘goddess’. You tell me,” Tornado replied snarkily.

Celestia looked at him dryly. “Thank you Tornado,” she said flatly.

“You’re welcome your Majesty,” he replied with a small chuckle. “Honestly though, she seems better then you’d expect.”

“How so?” Celestia asked.

“She’s dry eyed for the most part, I guess her father had cancer of some kind so his death wasn’t exactly unexpected,” Tornado answered. “According to the adoption service she explained to them that she’d come to terms with it.”

Celestia frowned. “I highly doubt that a ten year old is beyond the grief of losing her father,” she said.

“Oh I’m sure,” Tornado agreed with a small nod. “But she’s good at hiding it apparently, though she has been heard crying at night so...”

“I see,” Celestia said with a small nod as they entered into the hanger. “And when is she expected to get here?”

“Within the next few minutes,” the guard answered. “They sent a dispatch flyer to make sure that you were prepared.”

Celestia smiled internally, good, her guard were very considerate of her.

“Hmm...” Celestia hummed. “What is this filly’s name?”

“Mi Amore Cadenza,” Tornado answered. “Apparently her family is distantly related to some form of nobility.”

“Thank you Tornado,” Celestia said, her mind already spinning into action. “I’ll have to reward you for your splendid job handling this.”

“Just spending time near you is reward enough for me,” he replied without a trace of irony, though he smiled a little slyly.

“Even so I feel there must be something I can do,” Celestia mused as she shot him a raised eyebrow. “I’ll think on it.”

Any further conversation was interrupted by the sight of a sky carriage descending towards the metal hanger. It was a sleek steel design, it’s underside a light blue interspaced with spots of white. Pulling it were three armoured pegasi, though the Queen barely paid them any mind. Instead her gaze was ensnared by the young pink filly riding in the seat behind them.

Her mane was multi colored, most of them different hues of pink while a pair of bright, intelligent eyes took in everything in front of them. As the carriage neared Celestia could make out the horn as well as the slight wings that sprouted from her back.

Beneath the curiosity Celestia’s old age saw something else. She looked... afraid. And why shouldn’t she be? For all she knew she was about to be sentenced to death or some such... though Celestia frankly had no idea why foals and fillies would think such things.

The carriage came to a smooth halt on the metal floor and one of the guards unstrapped himself from the harness and walked around to the side and opened the door to the carriage.

“Come along little one, it’s time to meet the Queen,” the guard said in a gentle tone. The little filly stayed frozen there in the carriage, her eyes staring at Celestia fearfully. Celestia sighed internally, that was the problem with being viewed as a Goddess... ponies feared you.

“It’s quite alright little one,” Celestia said as she stepped forwards. “I am Queen Celestia and I’m overjoyed to meet you.”

The filly continued to stare at her with fear.

“Come now, you aren’t just going to sit in that seat all day are you?” Celestia asked as she took another step forwards. Tornado, when was the last time she ate? she suddenly sent a probe into the stallion’s mind.

Five hours ago your Majesty, the team flew through the night, he answered, long used to such a communication.

Meanwhile, young Cadenza continued to look apprehensive, unsure of what to say or do. She was from a border town where Celestia was practically worshiped and as such was overwhelmed with a bad case of ‘the nerves’.

Celestia gave Tornado a mental rebuff. They flew through the night without stopping for her to eat breakfast?

I would have forbade it personally, Tornado told her. But as it stands, yes, yes they did.

A small sigh worked its way out of Celestia as her horn began to glow faintly, causing Cadenza’s eyes to widen in fear... and then suddenly widen in surprise as a large cinnamon roll, dripping with white cream cheese icing appeared on a plate floating in front of the Queen.

“If you come out of the carriage I promise you can have this cinnamon roll,” Celestia told her sweetly.

Cadenza stared at the cinnamon roll for a moment, her mouth beginning to water before her eyes turned up towards Celestia. “Really?” she asked in a small tone.

“Really,” Celestia answered with a smile and a nod.

Slowly, as if her every movement was being judged, Cadenza got out of the carriage and began to walk towards her. Celestia continued to smile encouragingly as the filly cautiously approached. As she drew within a foot of Celestia the elder alicorn’s smile grew even bigger.

“There now, that wasn’t so bad; was it little one?” she asked, an unexpected note of tenderness leaking into her voice.

“I... no,” Cadenza said softly, to Celestia’s ears even in its nervous tone, young Cadenza had a beautiful voice.

“It was still brave of you though,” Celestia added, her smile somehow becoming even warmer. “And do you know what bravery deserves?”

“A... reward?” Cadenza asked, her eyes hopeful.

“Of course,” Celestia answered with a wide smile. “Now are you capable of lifting this plate and pulling off chunks or shall I do it for you?”

“I umm... I can do it,” Cadenza replied as her horn began to glow faintly and her magic touched against Celestia’s.

The elder alicorn’s eyes widened imperceptibly at the touch. There was great strength hidden there, enough for Cadenza to be an Alpha+ level magic user. She wasn’t as strong as Celestia of course, nor Luna... but even if she wasn’t an alicorn Celestia would have seen her eventually, one way or another.

As the thoughts drifted through Celestia’s head she relinquished control of the plate and it floated down to hover next to Cadenza who quickly used her magic to tear off a chunk of the roll and plop it in her mouth. Celestia wished she had a camera to capture the look of rapture that followed the moment the pastry came into contact with Cadenza’s tonge. The surprise and pleasure were so intense that she dropped the plate and the cinnamon roll. Luckily Celestia’s magic caught it before it could hit the ground.

Cadenza blushed furiously, white icing coating her lips.

“I-I’m sorry my-my Queen,” she stuttered. “It’s just-that-that’s the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted and-and-”

“Shush little one,” Celestia told her as she bent down to wrap her wings around the poor little filly and pulled her into a hug. Cadenza froze and stayed frozen in her grasp. “Little one, you may hug me back,” Celestia whispered. “I won’t judge you and I know what it’s like to lose those you love.”

The filly was stiff in her grasp for another second before she buried herself in the majestic white fur and began to weep softly. Celestia held onto her, making comforting sounds while she mentally commanded Tornado.

Get the guest room put together for her, the unused one in my suite, she told him. Then tell Iron Talon to get to work on the best breakfast he’s ever made. Finally, cancel my appointments for the day.

Aye Ma’am, the pegasus said, snapping her a salute, not bothering to tell her that it wasn’t his job to do any of that. He’d see that it was done.

Meanwhile, the young filly was still crying and Celestia scooped her up in her magic, which she hardly noticed, and held her close to her chest as she began to walk towards her suite. Cadenza didn’t stop crying until Celestia lay down on her large bed and the filly felt the unfamiliar feeling of soft clean sheets on her fur. She looked up from Celestia’s chest, snot and tears running down her face.

“Is-is this real life?” she asked in a broken tone.

“Why yes, I do believe it was last time I checked,” Celestia answered her with a smile as she used a magic propelled handkerchief to wipe away the accumulated filth from her face.

Cadenza sniffled once more but a small smile appeared on her face as well. “It’s just... this shouldn’t be happening.”

“Whyever not?” Celestia inquired with a raised eyebrow as her kerchief continued its work.

“Well... you’re the Queen aren’t you?” Cadenza asked. “Doesn’t that mean that you should hate me?”

“I am indeed the Queen,” Celestia answered. “Though I do not see a reason to hate you anywhere.”

“But... I’m an- ali-alico-alicorn,” Cadenza stuttered out. “That... that means that you’ll hate me and try to kill me because I-I- I’m a threat to your power.”

Celestia stared at her for a moment before her voice lowered. “Little one, I need you to tell me exactly who told you that,” she said softly though there was a small hint of anger in the very back of her throat.

“My... my father,” Cadenza answered softly. “He... he told me all my life that I had to keep my wings hidden or else ponies would think I was a freak... and then they’d chase me out into the woods. Or if you saw me that you’d want to k-ki-kill me.”

“Oh you poor little filly,” Celestia said, reaching out and dragging Cadenza to her chest once more. “I would never hurt any of my little ponies, you most especially,” she added in a soft voice.

“Re-really?” Cadenza asked her uncertainly.

“Really,” Celestia answered, leaning down and bestowing a light kiss on her forehead.

Cadenza froze again, but this time it was in complete surprise... the almost unconditional love that was flowing off of Celestia was...almost overpowering for the young filly... yet she basked in it like a flower in the sun

Celestia nuzzled the young filly for a bit longer before she withdrew her muzzle. As she did so, she noticed that a light pink glow was emitting from the filly’s coat.

“Are you alright dear?” she asked her. “You’re... glowing pink.”

Cadenza looked down and saw that she was indeed glowing. “Oh... that just happens when I sense lots of love.”

“You can sense love?” Celestia asked, her interest peaked.

“I... um yes,” Cadenza answered with a swift yet uncertain nod. “It’s... my... thing.”

“I see,” Celestia said, nodding a tiny bit.

“It’s not... weird is it?” Cadenza asked worriedly.

“Not at all, I personally find it rather adorable,” Celestia replied with a gentle smile as she bent down to give the filly another kiss. “Now then, I feel like it’s time you tell me your name. We skipped that part.”

“Oh dear,” Cadenza replied as a hot blush rolled across her face. “I... I hadn’t realized. That was quite rude of me.”

“Think nothing of it,” Celestia told her kindly. “Now go on.”

“I’m... my name is... Mi Amore Cadenza... but... my friends call me Cadence,” she said quietly. “I... you are my friend right?”

“Of course,” Celestia replied, nodding her stately head. “So long as you wish me to be.”

Cadence smiled, she sensed truth in the words. There was a sudden knock on the door and the elder alicorn looked away from the younger one for a moment.

“Yes?” she called.

“Your ‘best breakfast ever made’ is here,” Tornado’s slightly muffled voice came from the other side of it.

“Oh, bring it in then Tornado,” Celestia replied.

Cadence looked up at her in confusion as the door opened and Tornado entered the room empty hooved. Thankfully following behind the pegasus, who had removed his golden helmet, was a white unicorn carrying a large golden platter piled high with the most delectable things she’d ever seen draped lavishly across it. There were pancakes and waffles, eggs and omelettes, tarts and sweet rolls.

The filly stared dumbstruck at the platter, her mouth moving up and down though no words were coming out.

“It would seem Iron Talon has outdone himself again,” Celestia observed as she used her magic to take the platter as well as the stand out of the unicorn’s ‘hooves’. “Thank you, Bell Hop, you can go.”

The unicorn gave her a small bow before departing leaving Tornado standing there with a small smile on his face.

“And for me your Majesty?” he asked her.

“I believe you know how to guard the door,” Celestia answered with a small smile.

“Aye Ma’am,” he replied before giving Cadence a smile and walking out the door again.

“He... loves you,” Cadence said with a small frown.

“I know,” Celestia stated with a small sigh. “And I love him as well.”

Cadence frowned as she looked at Celestia, her head tilted slightly to the side.

“You do... but it’s... different,” she replied, her brows furrowing in confusion. “With him it’s like... you’re his entire world. With you it’s like... it’s like.... like you love him but not... argg.... this is hard.”

Celestia looked down at the filly with a small frown. “As are most things,” she told Cadence. “As for my love... as an immortal there are certain levels of it that I can afford to give things.”

“I... don’t understand,” Cadence said, her brows furrowing yet again. “Love is love and if you love someone then they should love you right back... right?”

Celestia just sighed. “I will explain it to you later little one, for now, our breakfast is getting cold,” she said with a small chuckle.

Cadence’s eyes widened as she realized that and Celestia was then treated to the sight of a filly eating her own body weight in breakfast. Then as Celestia finished a honey bun the little filly let out a yawn and her eyes closed as she lay down beside the alicorn. Celestia looked down at Cadence with an odd expression on her face. It was a mixture of a motherly concern and ... nostalgia.

Wandering Moon Chapter 36: Going in Hot

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“I have grown to detest these tunnels,” Luna spoke after half an hour of mostly silent walking. “They are boring, filthy, and the air smells of death and decay,” she continued, wrinkling her nostrils.

“Yeah, I can’t say that I enjoy them either,” Sarah agreed with a frown as she took an exaggerated step over a particularly jagged piece of metal that was sticking out of the floor. Luna did likewise, being very careful where she put her hooves. “They depress me,” the woman added. “So many people died down here when they thought they were safe.”

Safety is an illusion for the most part, Nim commented within her head. The only time we are truly safe is when we are the ones in control of the situation.

“Then I suppose you’re never safe are you?” Luna asked Nim jokingly.

"I wouldn’t say that...” Sarah said, glancing over at Luna. “I seem to remember her being in control pretty well.”

Luna blushed slightly and looked away. “That does not count, and you both know it.”

Nim simply directed a mental snicker at her before the party fell silent again, though before they continued, Sarah paused for a moment. She lingered long enough to gently place a hand on Luna’s cheek and smile at her.

“She may have been in control, but I was just as much a part of it,” the woman told the alicorn softly before giving her a light kiss and continuing onwards. Luna’s heart swelled and she smiled lightly as she continued to follow Sarah, her mind wandering a bit.

What will Tia think of you, Sarah? the alicorn asked herself. Will she embrace you with open forelegs, or will she spurn you as some sort of monster?

The thought floated heavily in her mind.

If she were to dislike you... what would I do? she questioned herself. Her answer came more readily then she’d anticipated. I would strike you across the face and force you to accept her because she is wonderful.

The alicorn let out a nearly silent snicker at the imagined look of shock that would cross her sister’s face in such a situation. That had always been Luna’s favorite way of seeing Celestia, shocked. For just a moment all the composure would leave her ‘royal’ face and she would be the same filly Luna remembered from when Jonathan had taught them how to fly... by dropping them unexpectedly from his back mid-flight.

My how Luna had savoured that memory, though she was sure her own face had been a mirrored image of her sister’s at the time.

Unfortunately, that memory also brought a stab of pain, longing, and grief into her mind. She... missed her sister. Celestia had always been there for her in the past and despite her... drive to kill her... Luna had never really thought it would come to that. In her mind’s eye... she saw Celestia standing aside and allowing Luna to take her place at the head, and for Night to last forever with the two frockling with the ponies they served in its majesty.

Nim I have a question. Sarah’s mental voice transferred into Luna’s mind via Nim’s link as it had with almost every other conversation the pair had shared.

Yes Sarah? Nim inquired as she transmitted the thoughts.

Why... does Luna act so... young? the woman asked, causing one of Luna’s eyebrows to rise slightly from where she was behind the woman.

Young? Nim inquired, playing the fool.

Yeah, young, Sarah replied. She’s what... somewhere over a thousand years old, right?

To be honest, neither we nor Luna know our true age, Nim answered loftily. We know that we were several decades old when we first challenged the Unicorn Council and that we experienced several more decades of peace before Discord appeared and cast us out. Due to the nature of his rule, the passage of time is rather difficult to discern. So... we are somewhere between one and two thousand years old, and yes we know the fight we waged against him did last somewhere along that length of time.

How? Sarah asked as she skirted around a downed piece of debris.

Because our pony friends died regularly of old age, Nim stated flatly, sending another unintentional jab of pain into Luna’s mind. It was true... she had lost many a good friend to old age during Discord’s foul reign.

I... I see, Sarah said, uncertain of how to proceed.

Did these queries have a point to them? Nim asked.

Yes... I just wanted to know why Luna acts so young and occasionally stupid, Sarah answered. Luna almost snorted in outrage at the suggestion of herself acting stupid, but then realized that would only lend further credence to the thought.

Well... Nim trailed off before answering the woman. Luna is still young. We do not know how old she is going to live to be, but it is certain that she may yet live as long as the oldest of dragons.

Sarah remained quiet for a long moment, her eyes taking a moment to scan the tunnel around them in case during her conversation she’d missed something dangerous. Thankfully she hadn’t and when she finally spoke again her voice was softer... and surprising Luna, worried.

Then... why is she bothering with me? Sarah asked. If she’s going to be alive for so long then... why would she want someone like me who’s only going to be alive somewhere around fifty years maximum? All I’m going to do is cause her pain in the long run.

Luna shut her eyes at that thought, Sarah did not deserve to be tormented by such a thing. Is it worth alleviating her worries to lose these glimpses into her thoughts? she asked herself. As with before, the answer came easily.

“Because Sarah, you are the most precious thing to me in this entire world,” Luna told the black haired woman as she moved up behind the woman and draped her head over the armoured shoulder so that her soft blue eyes were staring into Sarah’s. “And I will endure any long-term pain if it means that I am able to experience the true joy that comes from being with you.”

Sarah froze, not anticipating either the words or the gesture.

“Luna... how long have you been listening to me?” the woman asked slowly, a light blush coloring her cheeks.

“Long enough,” Luna replied before she gave the woman a sad little smile. “As for the answer that my sister would have given you to your question ‘tis better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.”

Sarah frowned for a moment as the cogs within her brain worked. “That was... Shakespeare right?”

I do not believe so, Nim answered.

“Whatever the case; whichever answer you choose Sarah, I am simply happy to have the time with you that I do,” Luna told her, leaning forwards slightly to bestow a kiss on the woman’s lips. Sarah met her and they stayed locked like that for a long moment until...

“Yeah baby!” a loud and excited voice exclaimed from in front of them. Sarah and Luna broke apart to find a raider staring at them, a noticeable bulge in his pants. “This is better then that time Betty let a brahmin fu-”

His sentence was interrupted as a .44 round crashed through the back of his skull, shattering his teeth in the process. Sarah glared at the corpse from over the barrel of her repeater and let out a small sigh.

“And that’s a mental image that I did not need,” she deadpanned. “Also, we need to not have ‘moments’ in random places...”

“Indeed...” Luna agreed slowly as she unsheathed Daybreaker and prepared to meet whatever number of raiders was to come.

Yes, it always seems to be at inopportune moments, Nim commented as Sarah fed another round into the repeater which she’d discovered felt as natural as breathing to her.

The woman simply grunted and glanced down at her Pip-Boy. It showed that they were nearing the end of their time in the tunnels.

Before either of them could say anything else, a female raider ran out from around the corner, a 10mm submachine gun in her hand. She didn’t stop to gawk at the pair before she pulled down on the trigger and sent twenty rounds down-range at the pair. The bullets smacked into Luna’s barding as she put herself in between Sarah and the incoming pieces of lead. The alicorn grunted as the bullets buried themselves in her armour and several whizzed by her throat, sending streaks blood flying as they grazed her.

“Don’t you dare talk about Lucky that way!” the raider woman screeched, though Sarah had no idea just who she was talking too. “He was a beautiful brahm-” Sarah decided in that moment that she really didn’t need the imagery and crouched beneath Luna’s neck to fire another shot from her repeater.

Thankfully, her bullet slammed into the woman’s skull and it exploded in a cloud of gore.

A third approaching from the right! Nim exclaimed and Sarah pivoted to find a raider sprinting out of a doorway on the right. Her world slowed as her adrenaline raged and she brought the repeater up to focus on his chest. She pulled the trigger.

The bullet leapt out, but the raider stumbled at the last moment and his near fall allowed him to avoid it entirely. What it did not let him avoid was Daybreaker’s silver blade which leapt out and pinned him to the ground through the chest.

Sarah glanced up at Luna, her eyes widening as she saw the blood. “Are you alright?” she demanded frantically.

“I am fine,” Luna answered shortly as she looked down at her leaking neck. “Tis but a series of flesh wounds.”

Sarah frowned and pulled her bag off of her back before quickly coming back up with a clean cloth and a stimpack. With a confident hand, Sarah reached up and dabbed at the wounds for a moment to clear up the worst of the blood before she injected the stimpack into the mare’s neck.

“There,” the woman said as she withdrew the stimpack from Luna’s neck. “Now we know you’re fine.”

“Was that really necessary?” Luna inquired quizzically.

“Probably not, but it made me feel better,” Sarah answered with a small smile. “After all, you never know when a small wound like that might get infected...”

Indeed, infections are truly horrible things, Nim stated. They can fell even the mightiest of warriors on the very eve of their victory.

“I suppose it is better safe then sorry,” Luna agreed, shrugging her wings slightly. “Though we cannot waste our medical supplies on every cut we receive.”

“We have plenty,” Sarah replied, shrugging as she began to walk once more. “Come on Luna, we’re almost there.”

Sarah and Luna surveyed the plaza, night was falling and it shrouded the crumbling building in dark shadows. Off to one side was what was clearly a hospital while directly before them was a tall hotel. Gunfire rang out from the hotel’s rooftop and the pair heard the sound of shouting coming from it along with explosions.

“It seems that they are still alive and fighting,” Luna observed.

“Yeah,” Sarah agreed from where she was crouched against the concrete wall. “Though I’m not sure how we can get up there,” she continued, her eyes looking at the large chunks of rubble outside of the entrance of the hotel. Her eyes spotted a large radio tower which had fallen between the hotel and the hospital. “We could use that,” she said while pointing at it.

“Or we could use my wings,” Luna put in dryly as she flapped them.

“Are you sure it’s dark enough?” Sarah inquired. “I don’t want you getting shot out of the air.”

Luna is more than capable of avoiding a few scant bullets, Nim pointed out. We shall catch them by surprise at any rate.

“I don’t know...” Sarah glanced at Luna. “Are you sure?”

“I’ll be fine,” Luna stated calmly. “Though your concern is touching.”

“Of course I’m concerned,” Sarah said before shaking her head. “But if you want to, then I won’t stop you.”

“Then mount me,” Luna said as she bent down a little in order to offer Sarah an easier time getting into her saddle. Much to both of their surprise, Sarah managed to swing herself into the saddle as if she’d been doing it for years.

“Hmm, I’m getting good at mounting you,” Sarah stated as she reached onto her back and pulled out her repeater.

Oh my...oh my... oh my... Nim gasped within Sarah’s mind as she ‘heaved’ with laughter. Sarah.... you... you make me laugh.

“What?” Sarah asked in confusion, Luna for her part had been ignoring the innuendo, but couldn’t resist a gentle smile and a blush. “Seriously, what’s funny?” Sarah asked

“I would explain it now, but with every second we waste those Rangers could die, so for the moment simply know that Nim is very immature,” Luna replied as she flapped her wings in preparation. “Are you are you securely positioned?”

“Yeah, I’m good,” Sarah replied, patting Luna’s neck before she braced her repeater against her shoulder. “Let’s go Luna.”

Luna nodded and took a galloping flap forwards and surged skywards. Sarah’s repeater jittered against her shoulder as she struggled to steady it. This was after all her first attempt to shoot on ‘horseback’ and it was quite different to what she was used to. Thankfully, as they rose upwards she managed to steady it slightly.

The hotel’s rooftop neared them rapidly, but Luna didn’t pause and instead they passed it and flew much higher before they stopped.

She flew higher so that we could survey it from above, hopefully without any of the Super Mutants seeing us, Nim answered Sarah’s unasked question.

“Right,” Sarah whispered as she looked down at the battling forces below.

On a raised portion of the roof were three men who were all dressed in heavy combat armour and holding various guns. Charging at them was a horde of Super Mutants who were armed with the usual array of assault rifles, hunting rifles, and the occasional nail board. Every so often, one of the Mutants would step on a landmine and be sent flying, however, as the pair watched, that happened less and less.

“We need to get down there now,” Sarah urged Luna as she watched the fray.

“Indeed we do, prepare yourself Sarah, to quote one of my other lieutenant; we are going in hot” Luna agreed before she folded her wings shut and they plummeted.

“AHHH!” A scream of surprise left Sarah’s mouth as they unexpectedly dropped and she all but lost hold on her repeater. The gun fumbled in her hands but she managed to grasp it again just before they came out of their dead drop, Luna’s front hooves slamming into a mutant’s skull as Daybreaker slashed out to the right, bisecting a Mutant.

Sarah felt blood in her mouth, having bitten her tongue thanks to the sudden stop, but she ignored it and brought her rifle up to focus on a very surprised mutant.


The .44 round slammed into its chest and sent the Mutant spinning away and then they were gone again.

Luna’s wings pumped furiously as she carried them once more away from the hotel roof and a bullet whizzed by her head. Blast, this is more difficult than I anticipated! she thought to herself as she veered hard to the right so that Sarah faced the mutants once more. The woman spat blood from her mouth and then focused again, firing off a shot at one of the Mutants. She wasn’t sure if she hit or not because Luna kept on flying faster than she could focus on one of the mutants.

Here, allow me to help, Nim stated within her mind as she reached out and took hold of Sarah’s hands.

Sarah’s hands steadied themselves and brought the rifle up to her eyes. The woman picked a target, a rather large Mutant who was making a charge towards the humans on the roof, and Nim directed the rifle into the right place. She pulled the trigger and the repeater jumped slightly in her hands as the magnum round left its barrel and drilled into the Mutant’s skull.

Sarah smiled at the result and prepared to fire again. However as she did so, Luna swerved down and the woman’s breath caught in her throat. Bullets whizzed by her head and Sarah ducked down against Luna’s neck.

“Fuck, this is crazy,” Sarah grunted before she leaned up and tried to get another shot off.

“Indeed, we are going in for another run. No offense but this is not the best position for us!” Luna replied loudly over the sound of the wind. Sarah nodded and prepared herself for another run. Luna’s wings blurred and they streaked onto the roof once again, her hooves and blade lashing out as she did so.

The sound of gunfire filled their ears and the world blurred for a moment as the pair swept through leaving a small swath of destruction behind them.

LUNA DIVE! Nim shouted at her suddenly. Luna’s eyes widened in surprise but did as expected and dived as a large cylindrical tube streaked over them, slamming into a nearby building and exploding.

Sarah meanwhile held on for dear life... until she heard a loud


And she suddenly found herself falling.

Wandering Moon Chapter 37: Fall Damage

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Her hair swirled around her face as the woman fell through the air. Above her she saw Luna look back at her now empty saddle in surprise and then look about frantically to find her.

SARAH! SPREAD YOUR LIMBS! Nim shouted within her mind, wind whipping by her ears, Sarah complied and did as Nim instructed. Now, give me control, we must be limp before we hit anything!

Limp? Sarah asked as she surrendered control of her body to Nim and felt herself go limp.

That was all the time she had before her fall was interrupted rather painfully. Sarah’s breath was forced from her body as she slammed through first a weak board and then onto what was obviously a very hard piece of metal. Her world jerked erratically as she bounced and then rolled across the metal, its odd angles and twisted spikes jabbing into her. Thankfully, her armour protected her from that particular aspect of the fall.

Unfortunately, she was still in a world of pain as her rolling came to a stop. Her vision swam and she turned to the side to puke until she discovered that she was now on the very edge of the downed radio tower that jutted out from between the hospital and the hotel. Sarah tried to move her arm but found that it stubbornly refused to move.

Be careful Sarah. We avoided the majority of damage thanks to our quick thinking, but we were not 100% successful so lie still, Nim instructed within her mind. Sarah let out a long breath, and decided that for the moment, she should just focus on breathing. Sarah, it appears that we will have to wait for Luna... it looks as if our area is too ‘hot’ for her to retrieve us at the moment.

Fuck, Sarah groaned.

Luna stared at Sarah’s body as it lay there on the edge of the radio tower, gunfire traced around her but she hardly noticed. She spun to the side and attempted to swoop down to retrieve Sarah, but apparently their attack had ‘kicked the hornets’ nest and a dozen bullets sprang up at her from down below forcing her away.

The alicorn grit her teeth in anger. How dare these parasites prevent her from reaching the one she loved! A cry of rage leapt from her throat and she tucked her wings, dropping towards the nearest group of mutants.

Just before she landed, her wings shot out and stopped her dead drop as he hooves slammed into the top of the mutant’s skull. Grey matter sprayed everywhere and Daybreaker leapt out at the mutant on her right, slashing through its chest as the alicorn landed and ducked beneath a nail board.

Four rapid beams of cherry red energy launched out from her laser rifle and pockmarked the mutant’s body, reducing it to ash while Luna sliced through another nail board with Daybreaker. The Mutant with the destroyed board tried to charge her, but Luna’s body twisted and her hooves lanced out at him in a furious buck. Her hooves crashed through the pathetic metal chest armour which crumpled around them before she brought Daybreaker sweeping through its neck.

The mare let out an angry breath as she searched for more targets, she found none. Then her gaze returned to where Sarah was lying still upon the radio antenna. She could not very well fly up to her, too dangerous, it would attract far too much attention that Sarah was in no state to handle. So, that meant Luna would have to find her way to the spot.

The mare set off at a sprint for the doors of the hospital, quickly discerning it to be the only viable way to get to Sarah. She blasted the doors open and came into a room that was... disturbing. Hanging from the ceiling were dozens of net lined bags full of... gore. The constant sound of dripping blood all but roared in her ears, and the floors appeared to have been bathed in the stuff.

Luna paused for a moment in the doorway, unsure of whether or not she should proceed or perhaps find another way to Sarah. Then she thought of her love lying still on that beam of metal with no help in sight as a mutant leered down at her and her resolve hardened. A bullet roared out from the balcony above, quickly followed by several more. They found their marks, and riddled her chest plate with holes. Luna gasped in pain but she ignored the pricks of metal and charged forward towards the balcony, dismissing the incoming fire as trivial.

Sarah was her number one priority.

Meanwhile, up on the roof.

“So... think she’s alive?” Brick asked Butcher as she scanned for more targets, her prized minigun Eugene held between her fingers.

“Maybe, depends on how hard and on what she landed,” Butcher replied with a frown. “I hope she’s alright, that was a pretty ballsy.”

“Yeah, pretty stupid too,” Donovan observed from where he was fruitlessly trying to rewire the elevator. “Swooping down like that may have surprised them, but it left them wide open to incoming fire.”

“It’s the thought that counts in my opinion,” Brick stated with a small shrug. “Let’s just hope that the magic horse can get to her in time.”

“You just want to pet the pretty magic horse,” Donovan said mockingly, looking up from his work to see the woman glaring at him hostially.

“And what if I do? Is there a problem with that?” Brick asked him in a threatening voice.

“I... um no,” Donovan replied. “Nothing at all.”

“Good,” Brick stated with a grunt.

Butcher just shook his head, he just wanted to get off of the damned rooftop.

Sarah lay on the metal, she’d managed to move herself away from the edge but it had cost her quite a bit of energy.

This... is the worst pain I’ve felt in a long time, the woman groaned to Nim.

I know, but be at peace, Luna is on her way, Nim replied soothingly.

Sarah just let out another groan and slowly reached into her pocket to retrieve another stimpack. She’d already used three and knew that they wouldn’t fix what she was sure was a fractured rib, but figured that at least they’d keep her from dying as she waited for Luna.

Suddenly, the antenna shook slightly. Sarah sucked in a breath and looked up to see a large mutant walking towards her, an evil leer on its face.

“Puny human make good meal,” it said with a grin of square teeth.

Of course, Sarah muttered to Nim, reaching for her sidearm. The mutant neared her and with each step the antenna shook sending another stab of pain through Sarah’s chest. Nim, help me concentrate, Sarah instructed her as she focused on the task at hand.

Instantly, the pain in her chest vanished from her awareness as her fingers gripped the 10mm. The mutant had reached her at this point and it reached down with a giant hand to pull her up into the air by the front of her armour. Sarah got a glimpse of pair of goggles over its eyes and a heavily armoured chestplate.

“Stupid weak human,” it told her, grinning. “I’m going to eat you.”

“May I suggest... an alternative?” Sarah grunted back as she pulled down on the trigger three times.

The 10mm. grasped in her right hand rocked back thrice and a trio of bullets slammed into the mutant’s face causing him to stagger backwards and drop Sarah back onto the antenna. Pain came flooding back into Sarah’s mind and she let out a scream of anguish as her face leaned against the cold metal. The 10mm. pistol fell from her grasp and through the metal bars of the antenna to land on the one beneath it.

Aggghhh! Nim joined in the scream with one of her own as Sarah’s pain, which she had been suppressing overwhelmed her.

Before either of them could react, the Super Mutant who had recovered from the three bullets to the face, reached down and grabbed Sarah again. The woman let out another scream as its fingers closed around her gun wrist and she heard a disturbing ‘popping’ noise as a new jolt of pain roared through her body.

“Stupid human,” the mutant grunted through its blood covered lips before it punched the woman in its grip in the stomach. Sarah’s stomach churned, and she vomited on the mutant’s chest. “Now you made me messy!” it roared at her before it tossed Sarah to the ground and brought its foot up to crash down on her.

Sarah, who was struggling for breath and barely finding any to fill her lungs. Her vision was swimming in a mix of incoherent colors and her mind was sluggish.

Roll to the right! Nim screamed in her head, apparently recovered from the bout of pain she’d suffered. Sarah groaned but managed to roll just in time for the mutant’s foot to slam into the antenna, her hand grasping out at the bar beneath her as she did so.

“STAY STILL!” the mutant shouted at her angrily as it prepared for another stomp.

We have a knife, use it, Nim instructed Sarah who numbly reached for the combat knife on her hip.

As the mutant brought its boot down again, Sarah turned on her side and stabbed up at it with the serrated knife. The blade bounced off of the hard metal boot and the foot still had enough energy to crash into Sarah’s ribs. This time, Sarah’s scream of pain was deafening as she felt another rib crack but she kept her injured hand clamped around the object she’d reached for.

“Looks like you die now,” the mutant commented as it grinned down at her evilly. Sarah hyperventilated as she tried to suck more oxygen into her lungs, each breath sending an ache of pain through her body.

“I-don’t-think-so,” she gasped out as her injured hand rose up unsteadily to reveal the 10mm. pistol. The mutant didn’t have time to even frown in surprise before Sarah had emptied the entire clip into it’s neck. The mutant dropped with a *clang* to the metal antenna and Sarah let out a long drawn out sigh of relief.

Well done Sarah, Nim commented within her mind. We were not quite sure if we would make it through that.

Stupid... thing talked too much, Sarah replied. Now... if you’ll... excuse me... I have to pass out... now...

Luna bucked the final door open with her blood coated hooves and found herself standing on the antenna looking at Sarah’s fallen form. It was covered in blood and looked to be in horrible condition. Nearby, a headless super mutant was hanging by its foot from the antenna and it took Luna all of three seconds to deduce what had happened. Without pause she rushed up to Sarah, who was clearly unconscious, and scooped her up in her magic. The alicorn held Sarah close to her chest for a moment before moving her back to lay across her back.

FINALLY! Nim shouted within her head. WE ALMOST DIED BECAUSE OF YOUR TARDINESS! How dare you take that long!

I was not in any way going slowly! Luna retorted angrily. You are the one who is supposed to protect her when I can not! The responsibility falls squarely upon your shoulders!

The alicorn then took flight, confident that she had killed enough of the mutants below not to be overly worried about those few remaining below. She also made sure that her magical aura was wrapped comfortingly around Sarah to prevent her from falling off.

WE-We--we know, Nim replied in a small voice. But... we could not help her. Not like we can you. She is... limited. We... have failed.

I am painfully aware of that, Luna stated as she neared the roof. Let us pray that these ‘Rangers’ have a doctor among their number.

Wandering Moon Chapter 38: Bars without Drinks

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Luna alighted before the three humans and gently lay Sarah on the ground, her eyes full of worry lined with anger.

“Which of you is a doctor?” she asked pointedly, glancing between the two men and the woman with an interrogative look.

“I... that would be me,” Butcher said, stepping forward. “Though I’m actually a medic, not a doctor.”

“Whatever the case, you will help my Sarah,” Luna stated firmly with a nod towards the downed woman. “I am uncertain quite what is wrong with her, but I suspect at least broken ribs if not something more insidious.”

“Well yeah, after a fall like that she’d be lucky to only have broken a few ribs,” Butcher replied as he bent down and began to examine Sarah, though he gave Luna a long look first, not sure he liked being ordered around by a horse. Whatever the case, he decided to do his job, he was a medic after all. He didn’t just stand around and watch people who’d tried to save his ass die, he helped them.

As the man tended to that, Donovan stepped forwards. “So... you’re the crazy flying horse we’ve heard so much about on the radio huh?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I am the crazy flying alicorn that you have heard so much about on the radio,” Luna corrected while shaking her head. “Why must I continue to make that distinction?”

“‘Cause we’ve never heard of it before,” Donovan stated with a small roll of his eyes as he adjusted his helmet. Then he glanced back at the last member of their party. Brick was staring at Luna with wide eyes, Luna followed his gaze and noticed Brick’s staring.

“Yes? May I help you?” she asked, bracing herself for some form of insult or angry comment.

“May I... pet you?” Brick asked slowly. Luna’s eyes widened in surprise, not having expected the question from the rather butch woman, but shrugged.

“You may,” Luna answered as she turned back to look down at Sarah. How is she? the alicorn inquired of Nim.

She is unconscious but should be fine if this Medic actually knows what he’s doing, Nim replied with a small mental shrug. I rather doubt that he is like some medics who believe their job is to ‘make you more comfortable while you bleed to death’.

Luna let out a mental snort at that and looked back at Butcher himself as Brick stepped forward and gave her neck a singular pet. “Is she alright?” Luna asked him, ignoring Brick’s punching of Donovan as he sniggered quietly.

“She has three broken ribs, a minor concussion, and a broken wrist,” Butcher replied with a frown as he reached into a pocket and pulled out some medical tape, beginning to create a splint for Sarah’s wrist. “Firing a gun with said wrist didn’t help her much, but when all’s said and done, she’ll be fine.”

The medic then reached forwards and began to unzip Sarah’s jumpsuit only to find Luna’s hoof on his hand.

“What are you doing?” the alicorn demanded, eying him with narrowed eyes.

“Getting at her ribs,” Butcher replied pointedly. “I have to tape them before I get any more stims in them or else they’ll bond wrong,” he added as he tapped aside Luna’s hoof and pulled the zipper all the way down. He revealed Sarah’s moderate breasts along with some very bruised ribs.

Luna winced at the sight of her lover injured so, she watched closely as the medic bandaged up Sarah’s midsection, her eyes watching for any form of groping. Luckily for Butcher, he was far too focused on his job to care about Sarah’s nakedness. When he had finished with his bandages, Butcher injected several stimpacks into her before zipping her jumpsuit back up and stepping back. “There that should do it,” Butcher declared with a small nod to Luna.

“Great, now that that’s taken care of, we have more important things to worry about,” Donovan stated from where he’d taken up watch on the edge of the elevated section. “Namely, getting off of this damn rooftop.”

Luna bent down to gently kiss Sarah’s forehead before she walked over to the man. “And how would we go about doing that?” she inquired. “There are far too many mutants down there for me to risk flying you down individually, even with night upon us as it is.”

“Well, before you showed up I was trying to repair that elevator over there,” the man said, jerking his thumb in the direction of an elevator. “Unfortunately, without a fission battery even I can’t get it running.”

Luna frowned deeply. “I see...”

“If I remember correctly, there’s a protectron downstairs in the restaurant,” Brick put in as she lumbered over, minigun in hand. “That might have one.”

“Protecton... that is the little robot that shoots lasers from its fists, correct?” Luna asked with a frown. There were still many things that she had trouble remembering the name of out in the Wasteland.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Donovan replied. “And Brick is right, that might have one... the problem is getting to it. There are way too many mutants in the way.”

“I shall be the judge of that,” Luna stated as she drew Daybreaker and readied her laser rifle.

“You want to take on every mutant down there by yourself?” Brick asked her, the merc’s eyes widening a little. “I respect the idea... but are you sure you can do it?”

“I can,” Luna replied before she glanced back at Sarah. “If I do not, then Sarah and I will remain trapped upon this rooftop, and that is not something either of us wish.”

“Alright...” Donovan stated, then he shrugged. “Brick, where was the protectron?”

“In the closet of the restaurant down stairs,” Brick answered. “It should be pretty easy for you to spot,” she added.

“I thank you for the information,” Luna replied before letting out a deep breath. “I will return to you soon.”

Sarah was sitting in a chair, her best friend Amata was beside her.

“So... what do you want to do today?” Amata asked, her legs swinging back and forth wrestlessly.

“I don’t know,” Sarah replied with a frown on her young face. “I mean... we could go and shoot at my targeting range.”

“Na... that’s boring,” Amata said, shaking her head. “Don’t you ever get tired of that thing?”

Sarah rolled her eyes. No it wasn’t boring, and no she never got tired of it. “Don’t you ever get tired of learning your dad’s job?”

“No, of course not,” Amata replied, giving her a weird look. “My future job is very important to me! Why would I ever get tired of it?”

“And shooting targets with my bb gun is important to me so I don’t get bored with it,” Sarah stated with a small shrug.

Amata let out a slight snort and rolled her eyes. “Fine... then what do you want to do?”

“I don’t know... maybe find Butch and see if he wants to do anything?” Sarah replied.

“Butch? Why would we want to do anything with him?” Amata inquired with a frown. “He and those ‘Tunnel Snakes’ are just bullies.”

“I think they’re funny,” Sarah stated. “They think they’re ‘so tough’ but we all know that I could beat Butch up if I wanted too so it just makes it funny when he gets mad at me.”

Amata gave her a long look. “You confuse me Sarah,” the other girl stated with a small shrug. “Anyways... we really need something to do.”

“Yeah...” Sarah let out a sigh as she reached into her pocket and pulled out her Grognak the Barbarian comic. “I think I know what I’m doing,” she added as she flipped it open to her favorite part.

“You’ve read that like a hundred times!” Amata exclaimed.

“And?” Sarah asked, looking up from her comic for a moment.

“And I want to do something else!” Amata whined.

“Then go do it,” Sarah replied before she got back to reading, this was the part where Grognak’s sexy alicorn princess friend Diana decapitated the giant ogre and saved the beautiful princess.

“Fine, I will,” Amata said with a frown before she got up and walked away. Sarah smiled as she continued to read... maybe one day she’d meet an alicorn.

Luna stalked through the empty hallway as she neared her ultimate goal, the restaurant. She had remained undetected so far, Daybreaker’s silver blade silencing the only mutant she’d encountered.

Her hooves sank softly into the carpeted floor as she neared the restaurant's door. She took another step and used her magic to ease it-


Luna was thrown backwards as an explosion rocked the door, shredding it to splinters and sending a thousand needles of pain skittering into her revealed skin. Her eyes had thankfully closed reflexively, but she felt the distinct feeling of a large splinter of wood stabbing into the side of her neck. The world spun and her ears rang with a thunderous ringing like all the bells of Unicornia.

When she finally recovered she found herself on her knees with a small puddle of blood forming below her. Luna struggled to her hooves and looked around herself. The door she’d been attempting to open had not only been blown off of its hinges but shattered into a million splinters, half of which had found a place in either Luna’s fur, flesh, or armour.

The next thing that she became aware of was the rather large mutant charging her, a strange hammer held high above its head. Luna’s breath caught in her throat and it was only years of studious combat training that allowed her to bring her blade up in time to defend against the strike.

Sparks flared as the massive hammer crashed against Daybreaker’s shaft and Luna winced beneath the effort required to withstand it. The mutant disengaged with surprising quickness and brought the hammer around for another swing at the alicorn. Luna was prepared this time however and caught the head of the hammer against the blade of the sword, turning it away from her and driving it down into the ground.

The mutant roared something at her but Luna didn’t hear it, she was too busy lashing out with her front hooves, catching the mutant in the chest. It stumbled back at the unexpected force and Luna capitalized on the opportunity by bringing Daybreaker down in a strong diagonal slash through its midsection. Blood flew everywhere, crystallizing beneath the power of Daybreaker’s frost enchantment, and Luna ducked away from the doorframe in time to avoid a second missile.

The tube of explosive metal instead hit the wall several feet behind her and the mare ignored the rippling heat that ate at her flank. Luna took a moment to catch her breath, the second shockwave still echoing in her eardrums as she peered around what was left of the doorframe.

The door frame was attached to a balcony which overlooked a small restaurant. A square bar took up the center of the room while the balcony continued all the way around the edges. Filling the room were a variety of Super Mutants armed with a large number of weapons... all of which were pointed at Luna.

“Shit,” the mare murmured, borrowing the phrase from Sarah as she ducked back behind the wall as a stream of gunfire splashed across it. “I may have... over estimated my abilities a bit here.”

Luna took off at a gallop, there was no way that she would be able to fight from the balcony. So instead she had to find another... less expected way. With a smile she raised Daybreaker above her head and slashed it across the floor, the blade cutting through the carpet and the wood beneath. She made another two quick slashes and the floor beneath her crumbled away, her wings flaring slightly to stop her from going through the hole at a straight drop.

She alighted on the floor beneath her and looked around, there were no Super Mutants in sight. That was a fact for which she was grateful, and she found herself in a hallway that was almost identical to the one she’d just left. Further on down the musty hallway she spotted a doorway which she was sure must lead back into the restaurant.

I have around ten seconds before the morons figure out what I’ve done, Luna thought to herself as she crept forwards towards the door. I can’t afford to waste them.

The mare thought back to the brief view she’d gotten of the room. The mutants on the ground appeared to be the ones with the heavier weapons, including the one which spat missiles. So, obviously, that was who she would kill first. However, before she charged, she remembered that there was a mutant standing on the other side of the door she was behind.

Luna smiled and pivoted on her front hooves, with one motion she bucked the door. The weak wooden door was annihilated by her alicorn strength and she heard a shout of pained surprise from the mutant in front of it. Before the mutants in the room could react, Luna had turned to face forwards again and crashed through the remains of the doorway, leaping over the downed mutant in the process.

The mutants milled about in confusion, not expecting her to be among their number so quickly or from the bottom floor and it cost them dearly. Luna’s laser rifle flashed multiple times as she darted forwards, every other blast hitting its target, sending them away, clutching scorched wounds.

The mutant with the missile launcher saw her coming at it and fired at her, the missile streaking towards her. However, this time Luna was ready and angry. She reached out with her magic, grabbing onto the airborne missile and sending it flying into another group of mutants. She released the missile and carried on forwards towards the Mutant, it roared at her but the alicorn ignored that, sending Daybreaker out at it. The silver blade stabbed into its chest and she pulled it out with a smooth motion.

Luna let out a breath as she slid into cover behind the counter just in time to avoid a deluge of bullets. It was amazing how quickly she had adapted to the fighting style required by the Wasteland, despite the radical increase in speed of it compared to that of Equestria... it still felt natural to her. Cover was key, as was speed.

The mare glanced over the bar to see that a small group of mutants were approaching her position, two armed with sledgehammers and one with an assault rifle. Luna popped her laser rifle out from behind cover using her magic and sent a blast of searing laser at the one with the assault rifle. The mutant screamed in rage and pain before it charged at her position, throwing caution and tactics to the wind along with its brethren.

Luna’s eyes widened and she snapped a few shots at them before they could reach her, doing scratch damage. They reached the bar and vaulted over it. She met the one carrying the assault rifle with a swing of Daybreaker, disemboweling him where he stood. The other two however approached from opposite sides and although Luna brought Daybreaker back up in time to deflect one of the blows, the other slammed into her side and sent her stumbling sideways with a cry of pain.

Luna’s vision blurred for a moment and she barely brought Daybreaker up in time to block another blow. It was a sloppy block however and the momentum of the blow knocked Daybreaker from her grasp, sending the enchanted sword rolling across the floor. Luna grit her teeth and jumped clumsily away from the second mutant’s swing.

This wasn’t good, there were two better armed opponents who were capable of breaking her bones if they got lucky attacking her with melee weapons. The alicorn tried to focus some form of magic through her horn, but aside from telekinesis it appeared that she was still unable to draw on the Wasteland’s small supply of magic.

Luna grit her teeth again as she managed to sway away from the two sledge hammers only for a trio of bullets to slam into her armoured chest, one of which penetrated and sank into her skin. Luna’s head darted upwards for a second to see the last mutant in the room, other then the two she was fighting, looking at her down the barrel of an assault rifle.

That look cost her and she felt one of the sledgehammers pound into her chest, sending her stumbling back once more as she thanked her maker that her bones were strong. That didn’t stop the pain however, and at the moment she was in quite a lot of it.

Another hammer blow struck her while she was recovering and this time Luna was thrown sideways into the wall where she landed with a *thump*.

“Now you DIE AND MAKE GOOD MEAL!” one of the mutants, Luna was unsure which one at this point, shouted loudly as it charged. It was either one of the six on the right, or one of the three on the left.

Out of the corner of her eye Luna noticed something... lying beside her was the strange metal hammer that had been used against her in the very beginning of the fight. With a flare of magic she grabbed the super sledge and swung it in an arc at the incoming mutants. She felt two solid impacts land along with a pair of accompanying *cracks*.

As her vision cleared, she found that the two mutants were dead at her hooves, their heads taken cleanly from their necks from the hammer blows. Luna stared at the now bloody hammer in her magic’s grasp, deeply impressed by its capability. A scathing blast of bullets washed over her and Luna felt several more penetrate her armour.

She turned her gaze to that mutant and a small smile crossed her face despite the pain. Her horn flared once and the hammer launched itself from her and crashed into the mutant. To Luna’s surprise... the mutant’s entire body exploded in a bloody mess. The hammer landed on the ground in front of Luna, apparently having bounced off of the mutant.

I think I like this hammer, Luna thought to herself as she unsteadily gathered up her laser rifle and Daybreaker while she slotted the super sledge into another of her weapon spots.

Wandering Moon Chapter 39: Wrapping up the Rangers

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“So... she kissed her when she left... right?” a male distant voice asked.

“Yeah,” a female one replied. “And?”

“That’s pretty weird right?” the first voice asked.

“Well yeah, but hell, it’s the Capital Wasteland,” the female one replied. “It’s not like it’s the weirdest thing we’ve ever seen out here.”

“I guess,” the male voice replied as a cold wind blew across her face.

“I mean, do you remember that traveling trader girl with the trained yao guai?” the woman asked. “Fifty caps said that she’d trained it to-”

“Please don’t, I’d rather not have that image in my head,” the male replied.

“Would you two shut up please?” a third, new male voice asked and she felt a small pinch of pain as if someone’s grip had increased. “I’m trying to concentrate over here and you two talking about that type of thing is distracting me.”

Sarah’s eyes flickered open and she found herself looking up at a well tanned man with light brown hair who was sitting beside her. He was wearing dark greenish brown combat armour and with the words ‘Reilly's Rangers’ on the front of it alongside a four leafed clover. The man was currently in the middle of cleaning a rather ugly cut she hadn’t even known she’d had on her right shoulder, and it was at that moment that she realized that she was half naked.

The woman felt a sudden blush run down her body and she jolted upwards, away from the man’s hands. Unfortunately, all that did was send an agonizing drill of pain spiraling through her midsection and she fell back to the tiled floor with a strangled scream of agony.

“Hey, easy there Sarah,” the man in front of her said as he gently, yet firmly, pushed her back down with one hand. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

Indeed he is not, Nim suddenly stated within her mind. And thank goodness you awoke Sarah. We were growing tired of only having access to your ears and nose. Both of which we find distinctly lacking in function.

I’d say something clever... but I hurt too much, Sarah replied, her mental voice equal parts irritated and pained.

We are sorry. We do not mean to sound so irate, Nim said comfortingly. We realize that you are in a great deal of pain and are at the moment doing our best to lessen it for you. Now we suggest that you speak with your mouth, less ‘Butcher’ here comes to believe you are injured even worse then he believed.

“Right...” Sarah said aloud, her head turning slightly to look at ‘Butcher’. “You’re one of Reilly’s Rangers... right?”

The man raised an eyebrow and then tapped his chest plate. “That’s what it says on my chest,” he told her.

“I see that...” the woman said then looked down at her own, rather bare, chest. Sarah suppressed a shiver. The night air was rather cold on her skin and though she was sure Luna would find the effect interesting, she was less concerned about that at the moment as she was about wanting to be clothed again. The only part of her upper body that was remotely covered was her ribcage which was obscured by a layer of bandages.

“Can you finish up?” Sarah asked Butcher, a slightly irked expression crossing her lips. “As much fun as being half naked with you leaning over me is...” she let the line hang as Butcher removed his hands from where they’d been pressing her into the floor and nodded.

“Almost done with you, so just bare with me for a few more minutes,” he replied as he reached into his pack and pulled out a large roll of bandages, which he began to apply to Sarah’s shoulder wound. It didn’t take him long to finish and when he did he leaned over Sarah and zipped her jumpsuit back up. “There. I’d recommend slow movements for a while, but otherwise you should be fine.”

“Thanks...” Sarah said, feeling rather uncomfortable about having had him zip her back up.

“Don’t mention it,” Butcher stated with a slight shrug. “I’m Butcher by the way.”

And thank goodness that is not a true description of his skills, Nim added within Sarah’s head causing the woman to let out a belt of laughter.

Butcher just stared at her uncomprehendingly.

“Sorry... sorry...” Sarah said between winces of pain. “The voice in my head said something funny.”

Butcher was silent for a moment longer before finally saying. “Guess you hit your head harder than I thought,” before he got to his feet and walked away.

“Yeah...” Sarah muttered as she slowly and tenderly got to her feet. She found herself on the rooftop of the hotel with Bucher another man, and a woman. All of them were similarly dressed in Ranger battle gear and all appeared to be very much alive. “Oh thank God! You’re all alive!”

“Wait... you actually knew who we were?” the woman asked with a raised eyebrow. “I figured you just heard the shooting and decided to check it out.”

“That’s a good question actually,” the other man said with a frown. “How did you know?”

“Reilly sent us,” Sarah answered them both. “We met her in Underworld after I fixed her up.”

“Wait... she’s alive?!” Butcher asked, sounding both surprised and incredibly relieved. “We weren’t sure if she got out alright!”

The other two Rangers voiced their own sentiments, though neither was quite as vocal as Butcher. Sarah then explained what had happened, watching as the other Rangers’ faces went from happy, to concerned, to finally settle on relived.

“Thank God,” Butcher said when Sarah was done with her story.

Good, now that that’s dealt with, we must simply wait for Luna to return from her little excursion, Nim stated happily within Sarah’s head. Though we do not know what could possibly be taking her so very long.

Wait, where is Luna? Sarah asked in surprise... she had somehow just noticed that Luna was nowhere in sight.

Off retrieving a ‘fission battery’ from the floor below, Nim answered casually. We are sure she is fine. It has only been half an hour or so since she departed.

She went down there alone? Sarah demanded in surprise.

Indeed she did, Nim answered before pausing for a moment. Oh. Here she comes.

Sarah turned her head towards the stairs to find Luna walking up them, a full protectron unit hovering beside her. She looked exhausted, not to mention bloody, and the robot bounced gently against the ground, barely supported by the magic. As she looked over the alicorn, Sarah also noticed that she had a new, and impressibly big, edition to her arsenal.

The woman barely had time to notice that however. Instead, the moment that Luna saw that she was standing upright and conscious, she tossed the robot to the ground and ran towards Sarah. The woman had only a moment to brace herself before she was submerged in a feathery hug as Luna’s furry neck leaned into hers and the blue wings wrapped around her.

“You are okay!” Luna exclaimed as she pulled Sarah closer, though as she did so she took remarkable care not to squeeze the woman’s ribcage.

“Yes... yes I am,” Sarah whispered in her ear as she leaned against Luna’s neck. “Though... I think the ‘wing hug’ is a bit much...” she added as a feather brushed against her face.

“I do not believe so,” Luna said as she pulled Sarah closer still using her shoulder as a grip. “I believe it is exactly what you need.”

Sarah let out a small sigh of resignation and simply leaned into Luna as well, savoring the feeling of her soft fur against her cheeks.

They were interrupted by a cough from beside them. “Sorry to interrupt, but we kind of need to get out of here,” Butcher said. Sarah felt Luna’s wings retract back to their normal position and revealed that Donovan had finished fixing the elevator with the entire robot disassembled beside him.

“Wait... how long were we hugging?” Sarah asked in confusion. Luna looked equally confused.

Ten minutes, Nim stated. We believe that both of you are so tired from the day’s activities that you didn’t register the passage of time.

“Ten minutes,” Butcher stated with a small frown. “You really did hit your head harder than I thought you did didn’t you?”

“I... I guess I did,” Sarah said as she took a moment to gather her breath and then looked at Luna. “Are you up to flying? Because I’m just about beat.”

Luna nodded. “Indeed I am... I am not that tired,” she said, flapping her wings once.

“No way in hell are either of you up to that,” Butcher stated flatly causing both Luna and Sarah to turn to him. “You’re both dead on your feet and if you,” he pointed at Sarah. “fall again then you’re going to die. No ‘maybe’ about it.”

We are in agreeance with the medic, Nim stated within their minds. You are both far too injured to fly. Especially with your safety precautions so badly damaged.

Luna looked like she was about to argue. After all, she was a Queen, a warrior who had fought King Sombra and his necromancer army to a standstill not to mention standing up to Discord in all his terrible wrath. Who were these two to tell her what she could and could not do?

Do you want to lose Sarah because you were too prideful to take advice? Nim suddenly demanded within her mind. Her words were sharp and cut deep into Luna’s frankly exhausted mind. If so, then you are still a foal at heart, not a Queen!

Luna wilted beneath the assault.

“I... suppose you speak the truth,” the alicorn said slowly, addressing both Butcher and Nim.

Sarah, who for her part hadn’t been about to protest, simply nodded. “Right,” she said slowly before her head lulled slightly to the side. “Sorry... I don’t think either of us are thinking all that clearly right now.”

“It’s fine,” Butcher stated, shrugging slightly. “I know the look. You two can tag along with us as we get back to the Base. We know some shortcuts that should be clear.”

“Really? I thought every street in this city was infested with some form of asshole out to kill you,” Sarah said with a deep frown as the three walked towards the elevator.

“Well, usually they are, but we keep these ones nice and clean,” Brick stated from where she’d been waiting, casually leaning against the wall with her minigun at the ready. “And if anyone has been stupid enough to try and take’em back, then Eugene and I will take care of them,” she added, patting the minigun affectionately.

“I see... that is good to hear we suppose,” Luna said. “As it is... we do not think we are up to more than simply walking behind you. Please do not take offense to that.”

“Eh, it’s fine,” Donovan said as he pushed the ‘open’ button on the elevator and the door slowly rolled open. “Thanks to you two, we can get off of this God damned roof so I don’t think any of us are going to complain too much.”

“Good,” Sarah said as the group entered the elevator. “You know... I’m glad this is a big elevator.”

They finally arrived at the Ranger Compound after what seemed like five hours, though Nim assured both Luna and Sarah that it had in fact only been somewhere around half an hour. To their surprise, they were met at the door by Reilly herself. The woman looked to be in much better shape then she had been when Sarah and Luna had last seen her.

“You all made it!” the woman exclaimed, a surprising note of absolute glee overtaking her face as she ran from where she was standing in the hallway, the rifle that she’d been carrying dropping to the floor.

She reached Butcher first, and drew the man into a kiss causing both Donovan and Brick to look away awkwardly. Neither Sarah nor Luna bothered, far too tired to care as they leaned against each other for support. Reilly ended the kiss quickly and turned to her other two squadmates, her smile just as big. Before either Brick or Donovan could react, their squad leader reached out and pulled them into a fierce group hug.

Sarah and Luna watched all of this, small smiles forming on their faces.

We did a good thing, Nim stated within their minds. It feels... good. Very good.

"Yeah... it does,” Sarah stated softly, not bothering to answer mentally.

At the sound of her voice, Reilly broke the group hug, allowing Brick and Donovan to quickly step away from each other. Then the woman walked up to Sarah and smiled.

“Looks like you didn’t die after all,” Reilly said with a grin. “And more importantly, you got my family back in one piece.”

“We did our best,” Sarah replied, smiling back, or attempting too. At the moment it was hard to keep from simply falling to her knees in exhaustion. Only Luna’s presence prevented it in fact. “I... um don’t mean to be rude... but do you have an extra double bed anywhere? Luna and I are about to fall asleep... I’m kind of surprised that we made it here actually.”

Reilly’s eyes widened and she nodded quickly. “Actually yeah, there’s one in the far end of the bunk section. Don’t do anything too extreme though. We’ve all got to sleep there,” she stated.

“To be completely honest Reilly, I’m too tired to be ‘horny’ right now,” Sarah stated wryly.

“As am I,” Luna added with an emphatic nod of her head. “In fact... the sooner we can get into a bed the better.”

“Then follow me,” Reilly said with a small chuckle.

The woman quickly led the two to a long room with several dozen beds, at the end was a large double one which Sarah and Luna flopped exhaustedly into. Without really thinking about it, Sarah moved closer to Luna and leaned her head against the mare’s soft chest while she felt Luna drape a wing as well as moving her head so that it was next to Sarah’s.

“I love you,” Sarah whispered as her eyes closed.

“And I you,” Luna whispered back.

And I love you both, Nim added before all three fell asleep.

“Damn, that is adorable,” Donovan stated from where he was leaning against the doorway of the room.

“Yeah. Do you still think it’s weird?” Brick asked from beside him.

“Yes, yes in fact I do,” the man replied with a shrug. “But hell, it’s adorable all the same.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 40: New Friends

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“I made a new friend, I made a new friend, I made a new friend!” Cadence chanted as she skipped into Celestia’s office, a wide smile plastered across her youthful pink face. Celestia looked up from her work, reviewing the latest law proposed by the Parliament, and smiled at her. It really was amazing how quickly the previously nervous and worried filly had turned into a ball of sunshine.

“Really? That’s very good news,” the elder alicorn said. “Who is it?”

“He’s a colt named Shining Armor!” Cadence replied, grinning. “He’s kind of a nerd but he’s really nice!”

“Shining Armor, Twilight Velvet's son. He’s a nice colt,” Celestia said, a smile on her face. He also happened to be one of Clover’s descendants, his mother was her current choice to be the one to bring her sister back from wherever she’d been sent.

“Yes, yes he is,” Cadence agreed, nodding her head and happy smile.

“Well it’s nice to know that you have such good taste in colts, dear,” Celestia told her, getting up from her seat before she walked over to the ecstatic filly and gave her a friendly nuzzle.

Cadence’s smile grew bigger at the touch, it was one of the thing she’d begun to love over the past few days since she came to live in the palace. The older alicorn just had so much love in her that any form of physical contact was enough to make her glow a little. Celestia withdrew her head and walked over to sit down on one of the large couches that littered the room upon which she quickly lay down. Cadence joined her, snuggling into her soft white fur.

“So, how did you come to meet young Shining?” Celestia asked her as she magicked a pair of glasses from the kitchen, one filled with water, and the other full of fruit juice. Cadence accepted the proffered glass and took a big sip of the sweet fruity liquid, her smile widening.

“Well you know how some of those mean fillies were making fun of my wings?” she asked Celestia, looking up at the Queen who nodded.

“Why yes, if it had continued much longer I believe I might have had a word with their parents,” Celestia said as her thoughts turned to the younger alicorn’s tales of being picked on by the class bullies. The elder alicorn had decided against intervening for the most part, after all, Cadence would have to suffer far worse than petty insults in her immortal life and would have to learn how to deal with it eventually.

“You won’t need too now,” Cadence replied confidently.

“Oh? Do tell,” Celestia insisted.

“Okay, so I was on the playground...”

“Well look who it is,” a snide voice said.

Cadence looked down from where she’d been sitting on the playground bench, quietly looking off into the distance, lost in thought. Standing in front of her was a trio of haughty unicorns. One was gold with a silver mane while the other two were a matching shade of bright blue with darker blue manes.

“Oh, hello again Burnished, Gleaming, Bronze,” Cadence said in a friendly voice, maybe today they’d decide to do something other then throw petty insults at her.

“Don’t talk unless we tell you too, skyfreak,” the leader, Gleaming, replied with a sneer. Cadence sighed internally, that hope had died rather quickly.

“Why not?” Cadence replied neutrally. “It’s not as if you can impress or intimidate me with your show of ‘force’.”

“Oh is that what you think?” Burnished asked before she looked over her shoulder at her friends. “Do you two think we can intimidate her?”

Yeeaaahh,” the pair of sisters replied simultaneously in extremely annoying voices. If it wasn’t for the fact that Cadence had been picked on by much more intimidating bullies back in her home town then she might have been a little scared now.

“I still don’t think you can,” Cadence replied simply. “Please leave me alone.”

“We’re not going to leave you alone,” Burnished stated. “You’re a winged freak trying to make the rest of us unicorns look bad!”

“I am?” the pink alicorn asked, cocking her head to the side. “I thought I was just sitting here.”

Burnished ground her teeth together and her horn began to glow, as did those of her followers.

“Don’t play stupid with us skyrat,” she growled. “We know you think you’re the next Queen but you’re not!”

“Why would I be the next queen?” Cadence inquired, raising an eyebrow slightly. “That would mean that Celestia would be dead and I never want that to happen.”

This logical answer seemed to only make the other fillies more angry.

“You think you’re so superior!” Burnished shouted at her. “When in reality you’re just a stupid skyfreak who can’t even fly and-”

She was cut off as a purple aura suddenly clamped her jaws together. “Hey, leave her alone!” a surprisingly hard edged male voice shouted.

Cadence looked up to see a white colt with a dark royal blue mane which was stripped with neon blue highlights walking towards them, his horn glowing brightly as a rope of magic energy wrapped tightly around Burnished’s mouth.

Strangely, he wasn’t very large, still a bit on the small side of things to be honest, Cadence was pretty sure that she was taller than him. Still, his eyes were narrowed angrily at the three fillies bullying Cadence and the filly could tell that he was really angry. She frowned for a second before she remembered his name, Shining Armor.

“Muflemuflfemmule!” Burnished attempted to shout at him as she struggled within the magic leash. Meanwhile, Gleaming and Bronze backed sideways away from their captured ‘leader’.

“Sorry, I don’t speak muffle,” Shining told her before turning to Cadence. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Cadence replied, smiling. “Thank you Shining Armor.”

“You know my name already?” Shining asked her as a surprised expression crossed his face.

“Well we’re in the same classes silly, I just listened to the role,” Cadence answered with a small chuckle. Meanwhile Burnished was still attempting to shake Shining’s belt off of her jaw.

“Oh... I hadn’t thought of that,” Shining replied, a slight blush touching his white furred cheeks, then his eyes turned serious again and he glared at the three fillies. “You all ought to be ashamed of yourselves! Get out of here before I get a teacher and report you!”

His magic lash dissipated and Burnished stared at him for a moment before she and her two lackies ran off in the other direction. Shining allowed a small smile of triumph to flash adorably across his face before he looked back up at Cadence who’d dismounted the bench.

“My hero,” she said with a giggle.

“I was just doing what anypony with a brain would,” Shining replied, blushing further at the compliment. “Those three are idiots. Twenty bits says that they’re de-nobled by the time they’re sixteen”

“I’ll take that bet,” Cadence said, smiling. “So... want to play?”

“I... sure,” Shining said with a wide grin. Cadence didn’t know why, but there was something she found intrinsically adorable about him

“Well that’s wonderful,” Celestia said, bending down to give the filly a motherly nuzzle. Cadence preened under the praise and the nuzzle before she replied.

“Yes, I’m so happy I met him,” she replied. “Turns out that he’s really into this ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ game and he’s going to introduce me to his ‘Gaming Group’,” Cadence continued with a grin.

“That sounds like a treat,” Celestia told her, smiling down at the filly who had already taken on a... daughterly role in her heart.

“Oh I bet it will be!” Cadence agreed enthusiastically. “Though he says that he probably won’t be able to let me play as an alicorn. Apparently the race is ‘broken’ or something,” she added, a frown forming on her face.

“Oh well, I’m sure there are some very good alternatives,” Celestia encouraged her. “And once you become more comfortable with them all you can invite them to the castle to game.”

“Really?!” Cadence asked, her eyes widening.

“But of course,” Celestia replied with a grin as a light chuckle escaped from her lips. “To be honest, I have heard several of my guards talk about this ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ game before and I am eager to learn of it. Mayhaps I could watch a game?”

“I don’t know,” Cadence answered with a small shrug. “Like I said, I haven’t had a chance to do anything yet.”

“Fair enough,” the eldest alicorn replied. “Just keep in mind that the option is always open alright?”

“Alright Mo-” Cadence cut herself off and looked up at Celestia who was looking at her with a look that was a cross between shock and surprise on her face. “I... sorry,” Cadence said, looking down at the couch. “I just...”

“Shhhh,” Celestia said as she brought one of her great white wings down to ensconce the filly in her embrace and pulled her closer to her side.

“I...” Cadence couldn’t speak clearly and the words poured out like water as a engorged river overtook a dam. “I-just-never-knew-my-mom-and-my-dad-never-talked-about-her-and-and-and-I-killed-her-and-you’re-just-so-”

She was cut off as Celestia bent her great white head down and gave the little filly a comforting nuzzle. “I don’t mind little one,” she said in a soft tone. “I don’t mind at all.”

“Re-really?” Cadence asked with widened eyes.

“Of course I don’t,” Celestia replied. “In fact, I’d be honored if you called me mother.”

Cadence stared at her for another moment before she wrapped her forelegs around Celestia’s side and hugged her. Celestia embraced the filly as well... it felt good to have someone small to hug once again.

“So... this is your house?” Cadence asked the slightly nervous colt who walked beside her.

“Yes, that’s right,” Shining answered with a small anxious smile as he looked up at the tall and lavishly decorated townhouse.

“It’s really pretty,” Cadence said, giving him an encouraging smile. “So, who else is going to be here?”

“Oh just a few guys from the class who you might know and Lyra,” Shining answered. “Now let’s go in, I think the others might have gotten here first.”

“Really?” she asked.

“Yeah, we went the slow way,” he replied.

“Oh?” Cadence asked with a raised eyebrow. “Why did we do that?”

“Because... um... it’s a nice day?” Shining replied uneasily with another nervous smile. Cadence looked up at the cloudless blue sky, the sun shining down brightly, and then looked back at Shining who was squirming slightly.

“You’re right, it is,” Cadence replied with a smile. Shining let out a relieved breath and then forged on ahead like a trooper.

“Right, well, let’s get inside alright?” he asked, gesturing at the doorway with a hoof.

“Alright,” Cadence said, stepping forward and walking up the steps beside him. The colt got in front of her and opened the door, allowing her to pass before he closed it.

“Mom, I’m home!” he shouted as Cadence took the time to look around the posh main hallway. It was decorated with all manner of interesting artifacts and pictures. Cadence frowned, they all looked very old.

“Your friends beat you here dear,” a feminine voice shouted down from the top of the staircase on the right. “They’re down in the basement and your snacks are already out.”

“Thanks mom,” Shining shouted back before gesturing for Cadence to follow him. She did and he lead her through the entrance hallway and into a kitchen. “Want anything before we go down?”

“Hmm, not really,” Cadence replied as she looked around the well appointed kitchen. “So, where did your family get all of that stuff hanging up in the front?” she added as the colt used his magic to open up the door in the side of the kitchen.

“Mom found them while she was out doing her job,” Shining answered. “She’s an adventure archaeologist.”

“Oooh, that sounds exciting!” Cadence said enthusiastically as they began to descend the stairs, her ears picking up the sound of happy banter and talking below them.

“It is,” Shining said proudly. “She’s writing a book series about it actually. Daring Do.”

Your mother is the author of Daring Do?” Cadence asked incredulously, her eyes widening. “That’s my favorite series!”

“Really?” Shining asked her, sounding genuinely surprised.

“Yes! She’s amazing!” Cadence replied. “Do you think she’d mind signing my books?”

“I’m sure she’d be happy too,” Shining answered, smiling as he led her down the final step and into a large basement.

The hardwood floors had been covered in plush rugs and in the middle of the room was a large circular table with several wooden chairs set up around it. Sitting in the chairs were three ponies, a white unicorn colt with blue mane, a amber coated unicorn colt with an orange mane, and lastly a mint green maned aquamarine mare who was in the middle of talking.

“-and that’s why my bard should be the party leader,” she finished proudly.

“Na, sorry Lyra, but bards can’t be the party leader,” the amber coated colt replied.

“Indeed my dear, they are far too flighty,” the white stallion said. “To be the party leader you need class and distinction, bravery and honor.”

“And bards can’t be brave and honorable?” Lyra asked with a frown.

“In a word, no,” the amber coated colt replied with a small chuckle. Lyra hit him lightly and he looked like he was about to respond in kind when Shining cleared his throat.

“Ehhm,” he grunted. The three looked up from their banter and two out of three sets of eyes widened in surprise.

“Oh my gosh! He actually brought a filly!” the amber coated colt exclaimed with surprise.

“Hey!” Lyra protested. “I’m a mare too!”

“Yeah, but I mean she’s like an actual mare!” the amber colt replied.

Lyra glared at him, but Cadence spoke before anything else could happen.

“Hello, my name is Cadence,” she said with a smile. “Thank you for all for letting me join you.”

“Think nothing of it,” the white coated colt said with a small wave of his hoof. “I am Fancy Pants and this is Lyra and Joe,” he added gesturing at his companions.

“Hi there,” Lyra said with a smile of her own. “You’re in my music class I think.”

“Oh yes, I remember you now, you play the lyre right?” Cadence asked as she stepped forward and took one of the two remaining free seats which just so happened to be next to Lyra.

“Yep, that’s right,” Lyra answered with a smile.

“Hello,” Joe added with nod as he used his magic to pull out a complicated looking sheet of paper. “I hope you don’t mind, but the party needs a white mage so we made a sheet for you ahead of time.”

“Oh? Alright,” Cadence replied as she accepted the paper and began to inspect it. “Sorry if I don’t know what I’m doing at first... I’ve never really done this before.”

“It’s fine,” Shining said as he took the seat beside her. “We were all beginners once.”

“Now... where were we?” Fancy Pants asked as he used his magic to pull a large paper map out from under the table and unfurled it. “Ah yes that’s right. Shining had just charged that dragon and was about to get roasted,” the distinguished colt continued as he brought a group of miniatures out of a box.

“You charged a dragon?” Cadence asked him with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s not my fault I’m the only melee based character in the party,” Shining replied with a roll of his eyes.

“I’m a Ranger and Lyra’s a Bard,” Joe informed her as he looked down at his sheet. “So we have to stay out of melee range for the most part or else we’ll get killed really quick. Shining on the other hand is a Lawful Good Paladin so he’s the Tank of the Party.”

“Oh, I see,” Cadence said as she looked down at the sheet she’d been given. “And do I have to do that too?”

“Well, you’re a Cleric so... it depends on how you want to play,” Lyra replied. “They’re really powerful spell casters in certain situations but they’re mostly a healing class so staying out of melee combat is probably the best idea.”

“Alright,” the alicorn said as she continued to read her sheet, getting down to her spell list. “Okay... I think I can work with this.”

“Great! Let’s get started,” Shining said as he eagerly grabbed his minifigure.

“Wow, that was really fun,” Cadence said with a grin as she led Shining through the growing darkness of the city towards her ‘house’.

“Yeah, you caught on really fast,” Shining enthused, smiling as well. “That undead dragon didn’t know what hit him when you used your Major Heal spell on him, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Fancy lose his composure that badly.”

“Yes...” Cadence said as she remembered the look of pure shock and outrage on Fancy Pants’s face as his towering undead dragon was taken down by Cadence’ heal spell. “I must say, it was a beautiful image, one that I will have in my head for the rest of my life.”

“You and me both,” Shining agreed, chuckling lightly.

It was by that point that the colt noticed that Cadence had rubbed up beside him as they walked down the well cobbled street in a very friendly manner. He blushed but made no comment as they continued along. Suddenly, Shining realized what district they were walking through.

“Cadence... where exactly do you live?” he asked her slowly as they neared the fortress like gate of the Canterlot Castle.

“Oh you know, the Castle,” she answered with a mischievous grin.

“I-you-really?” he asked as they drew closer.

“Yep,” Cadence replied before she waved at the guard on duty. “Hi Flare Blitz! Would you mind opening the gate for me?”

“Sure thing kid,” came the reply a moment later. And just like that, the gates opened and Shining watched with an open mouth as Cadence simply walked through them, then he shook his head and followed her.

It didn’t take Cadence long to lead him to the main doors, two large barriers made of enchanted wood and layered with solid steel which was further covered with wards and enchantments.

“Well, this is where you let me go,” Cadence said with a small smirk. “Thank you for a wonderful night, Shining.”

“I um... you’re welcome,” Shining said, his former nervousness evaporating.

“See you tomorrow in school then,” the filly told him as the great siege doors opened and she walked through it. Shining stood there for a moment and then facehoofed.

“I forgot to tell her goodnight,” he muttered to himself.

“So, how did it go?” Celestia asked Cadence as the alicorn filly prepared for bed.

“Oh, it was great,” Cadence answered with a smile. “We had a lot of fun and I got to kill a dragon with my magic healing powers!”

“Is that so?” Celestia inquired with a raised eyebrow. “I was under the impression that healing spells were for healing, not killing.”

“Well normally they are but because it was an undead dragon my healing spell made it gain life which ended up hurting it because by making something undead gain life you’re making it feel it’s antitheses which in turn hurts it,” Cadence replied and then frowned. “Huh, I didn’t even know I knew that last word.”

“I’m just glad you had fun,” Celestia told her, coming over and giving the filly a nuzzle. “So, when are you going to ask Shining out on a date?”

Cadence blushed. “Moooom,” she whined. “We’re ten, you’re not allowed to date until we’re thirteen!”

“Oh, sorry little one,” Celestia replied. “I honestly don’t pay a great deal of attention to that sort of thing... I haven’t had the need to since Moonshadow was young...” she trailed off and a faraway look appeared on her face.

Cadence looked up at her with a confused look, though it faded as the ancient pony blinked and looked back down at her.

“I’m sorry little one,” she said with a small sigh. “I was just... remembering.”

“That’s fine,” Cadence replied, choosing to keep the questions bubbling in her mind to herself. “Goodnight mom.”

“Goodnight little one,” Celestia said, bending down and giving Cadence a kiss on the forehead.

The filly sighed and settled into her bed.

“How was it? How was it? How was it?” an insistent female voice asked from beside Shining as he finished packing away everything in his room. The voice was coming from his adorable little sister who was currently bouncing up and down beside him, voicing her question on every hop.

“It was good, brat,” the colt replied with a small smile as he looked down at her. She was a purple furred filly with a darker purple mane which had an inexplicable pink stripe running down the center. “I walked her home and said goodbye, it was easy.”

“Really? And she lives in the Castle? With the Queen? That’s what mom says anyways,” Twilight asked rapidly.

“Um yes she lives in the Castle,” Shining answered and then frowned. “And as for living with the Queen... I guess that would explain her being an alicorn and all. Wait, how did Mom know?”

“She learned it yesterday when she was visiting with the Queen in one of those meetings they have every once and a while,” Twilight answered. “OH! Speaking of that, do you remember what tomorrow is BBBFF?”

“Hmmm... your eighth birthday?” Shining asked with a small grin as he glanced down at her. “No, don’t tell me, it’s the day mom and dad take you to the circus right?”

“Shining!” Twilight whined. “You know that I’m eight already and I don’t want to go to the circus! It’s boring and dirty there!”

“And you’re scared of the clowns,” her older brother added on with a chuckle.

“I’m not scared of them, they’re just ponies with creepy white makeup and giant teeth that want to eat little fillies and-” Twilight was shivering slightly as Shining bent down and put a hoof on her mouth.

“It was just a book,” he told her with a comforting smile. “Remember Twi, it was just a book.”

“I... right, I knew that,” Twilight replied with a rapid nod. “Anyways... do you really now know what tomorrow is?”

Shining chuckled. “Of course I know sis, it’s your assessment test.”

“Yep! It is! I’m soooo excited!” Twilight exclaimed. “I bet I can impress all of the judges so much that they’ll make me Queen Celestia’s student!”

“Squirt... you still have problems with your basic levitation spells... if I were you I wouldn’t expect to be made the Queen’s student,” he cautioned her. “I mean, there’s like a thousand and one chance of that happening.”

Twilight frowned. “I don’t care!” she replied. “I’m going to be her student! She’s so big and wise and pretty and cool and powerful! I just know that I can prove that I deserve to be her student!”

The look of conviction on his sister’s small face was enough to make Shining smile despite himself. He bent down and kissed her forehead. “I’m sure you can sis... now it’s your bed time.”

“Buuut Shiiinninnnnggg I don’t wannnt tooooo!” Twilight whined.

“Mooom, Twilight won’t go to bed!” Shining shouted out the door of the room.

“Twilight!” their mother’s voice came from across the hallway where she was hard at work in her office.

“You fight dirty BBBFF,” Twilight said, giving him a low glare.

“It’s the only way to fight,” Shining shot back with a playful grin.

Twilight wrinkled her face up at him but rolled her eyes, leaned up and kissed him on the cheek before darting off towards her own room. Shining let out a small sigh as he walked over to his bed and thought about his day.

“All in all... I think things are changing...” he mused to himself as he glanced at the moon through the window. “Changing... for the better.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 41: A New Team, a New Family

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Sarah’s eyes slowly opened and she found herself leaning into Luna’s surprisingly soft chest fur. It shouldn’t have been soft now that Sarah thought about it. After two or so weeks in the Wasteland with minimal showers Luna’s fur should have been ratty or stiff and uncomfortable. Yet here she was, wishing that she’d simply used Luna as a bed because one of the bed springs beneath her were pressing painfully into her side. Doing her best to avoid waking Luna, Sarah moved slightly to the left, pressing herself closer against Luna.

The blue alicorn weight shifted slightly to accommodate her and the feathery wing clutched at her even tighter, as if afraid that if it let go it’d never get her back.

It was odd for Sarah to think about.

Here she was out in the Wasteland, more happy then she’d ever been in the Vault wrapped in the embrace of someone who was alien in every way from anyone else in the Wasteland. If Amata could see her now Sarah wasn’t sure if she’d be disbelieving or maybe disgusted.

Amata... that was a name that held quite a few feelings for Sarah... and even she didn’t fully understand them.

Amata had always been Sarah’s friend, no that wasn’t right, she’d always been Sarah’s best friend. They’d done practically everything together. From just hanging out to coming up with ways to get back at Butch and his Tunnel Snakes... they’d been inseparable. Hell, if it weren’t for her Sarah would have probably been murdered in her bed by the Overseer’s thug- her friends and colleagues.

It was at that moment Sarah realized something deeply disturbing. Yes, they’d tried to kill her... but they were still her friends... weren’t they? Didn’t they deserve better than to be thought of as mere ‘thugs’ and bully boys for the Overseer? She’d spent years of her life training beside and getting to know them after all... they’d eaten, practiced, and slept alongside one another long enough for her to know each and every one of their quirks.

John Kendall for example had loved his job. To him, the Overseer’s words were the words of God himself and Kendall was his Angel. He was the Law of the Vault and everything it represented. However, that had never made him unlikable. In fact it had only made it harder for Sarah to pull the trigger on him after helping him kill a group of radroaches. He’d just been following orders after all.

Sarah buried her head further in Luna’s fur as she attempted to banish further images of that day, but now that she’d unearthed them...

Officer Gomez, the ever likable and quintessential good cop had been the only friendly face to Sarah as she’d run near blindly away from Kendall’s cold corpse and if it wasn’t for him she’d probably have run straight into O’Brian and Richards’ bullets out of sheer shock.

Speaking of O’Brian and Richards. They had been the ones guarding the main exit of the Vault from Sarah’s initial approach route. Sarah had tried talking to them from around the corner, but all she’d gotten in return were bullets flying past her head. The woman had gunned them down, they’d both been standing in the middle of the corridor after all, they were hardly difficult targets... and then once they’d fallen she’d discovered that the way she’d been planning on using was blocked and their deaths were pointless.

The woman’s eyes began to burn as she thought of what had come next.

She’d burst into her friend’s room, intent on saving her from her father and Stevie Mack. It had all happened too fast... The Overseer had yelled at her... and then he’d hit Amata... and Sarah had fired. His blood had stained the floor and before Stevie had time to fire, his blood stained it as well.

Then Amata had screamed at her and Sarah had run.

Sarah was weeping quietly into Luna’s chest now and she felt the alicorn mold herself around her, obscuring Sarah from the world with her wings and her bulk. The woman looked up to see Luna looking down at her with concern filled blue eyes. Luna didn’t say anything. Instead she just bent down to nuzzle Sarah gently with the side of her snout, lending as much comfort to the woman as she could.

The woman gripped Luna’s fur with her fingers and simply poured her grief into her companion. Luna took it all without comment, continuing to nuzzle Sarah and murmur meaningless calming noises.

When Sarah’s sadness finally left her she felt drained and looked up at Luna.

“Thank you,” she muttered before looking away, not wanting to look at those beautiful eyes. What right did she have to them?

Every, Nim stated quietly in her head.

“Sarah, look at me,” Luna commanded softly.

Sarah continued to look away.

“Sarah, look at me,” Luna said again.

Sarah refused to look, feeling utterly worthless.

“Sarah. Look. At. Me.”

The words were said in such a commanding tone that Sarah almost did it out of reflex but it was Luna’s faint magical touch that finally brought the woman’s eyes up to stare at Luna. Luna looked at her, shockingly old eyes full of equal parts anger and grief.

“Sarah... there is nothing that you could ever do which would weigh more than my own sins,” Luna told her, the mare’s voice coming out in a quiet yet passionate tone which brooked no argument. “I tell you that so you know that while what you have done is most certainly bad ... it was not without reason and more than that, you have no reason to feel guilt for it.” She paused for a moment before she bent down slightly and kissed Sarah on the forehead. “And even if you did, it would not change how I feel about you.”

Sarah stared at her for a moment longer before hiding her eyes in Luna’s fur as the alicorn hugged her tighter.

Thank goodness we woke up later then the Rangers, Nim muttered to herself within Sarah’s head, very happy that their moment of weakness hadn’t been observed by any of their new allies.

Sarah hugged Luna for a bit longer before slowly relaxing her grip on the mare and giving her a tentative smile. “Thank you Luna...”

“You’re very welcome,” Luna replied with a small chuckle. “Now if you don’t mind... I’m rather famished and I think it would be time that we ‘woke up’ don’t you?”

Sarah let out a dry chuckle and pushed the ragged blanket off of them before she rolled over to the edge of the bed so that she could begin to pull on her armoured jumpsuit. It was in the process of getting dressed that Sarah and Luna had realized that the Rangers had a shower room built into the side of the barracks and after shouting for and receiving permission to, the pair had eagerly thrown themselves beneath the waters.

It was... lukewarm! Gloriously so and both Sarah and Luna stayed within the welcoming water for several moments longer then they should have before exiting and toweling off with towels from Sarah’s duffle bag.

Once that process was done, Sarah noticed something that she hadn’t noticed before. Both herself and Luna had smelled awful before their shower. And their clothing was in equally bad condition as far as scent went.

“You know... I’ve never been the type to complain about how ‘fresh’ my clothing is... but this is terrible,” Sarah stated as she eyed practically every article of clothing she owned. The only thing that didn’t smell rancid was her pajamas... which she didn’t think she’d even packed.

“You believe you have it bad?” Luna asked, glancing at Sarah as she levitated her armour up into the air. “I have been wearing this barding for so long that I begin to feel that I smell like it and not the other way around.”

Nim snickered. Perhaps you have always smelled that way and simply not realized it, she put in.

Luna snorted at the rude comment and shook her mane. “I highly doubt that,” she stated before looking to Sarah. “Is there perhaps a laundry here as well as a shower?”

“We’ll have to ask,” Sarah replied as she walked towards the door. She pushed it open and found herself in a narrowish hallway that she dimly remembered from her sleep addled mind. Luna followed along directly behind her, not wanting to take up too much of the hallway which was barely large enough for someone to walk beside her.

The pair continued down the hallway until they arrived in a medium sized room. Against one wall was a working refrigerator along with several clearly hand made cabinets/cutting boards. In the middle of the room was a largish wooden table along with several chairs. Sitting at said table was Reilly herself who glanced up at the pair, one of her eyebrows rising at Sarah’s current attire.

“I guess you really made yourself at home hmm?” she asked with a wry grin.

“I... didn’t have anything that didn’t smell like I’d bled in it,” Sarah replied, suddenly getting a sense of just how surreal her life had become.

“I know how that feels,” Reilly replied as she nodded towards the fridge. “You two can get yourselves some breakfast and then I’ll show you how to use our laundry.”

“... just like that?” Sarah asked, caught a bit off guard and suddenly feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sentiment. “I mean... we’ve already wasted your water and taken one of your beds. You don’t really have to give u-”

“Sarah, shut up and just get yourself something to eat,” Reilly said, cutting her off in a tone that was that of someone used to being obeyed.

It can’t be that simple, Nim stated within Sarah’s mind, not buying the other woman’s words.

Sarah paused for a moment, considering Nim’s words before giving into her instincts and walking over to the fridge. She opened it and began to look through it while Luna walked over to the table and sat down beside it.

“You are being exceedingly kind,” the mare said as she looked at Reilly. “Why?”

“Because you saved my family,” Reilly replied with a shrug before her tone turned deadly serious. “Without you I’d be the only Ranger left alive... and that’s not something I want to think about.”

Luna considered that for a moment and then nodded. “I understand.”

Reilly glanced at her and looked into Luna’s eyes before a small frown appeared on her face. “Yeah, I guess you do.”

The two sat in silence for a few seconds before Sarah returned from the fridge and passed Luna a plate with a trio of muttfruits and a snack cake on it. She herself had a piece of brahmin meat on her plate and mutfruit of her own.

Sarah looked at Reilly and opened her mouth but Reilly just waved her off. “Just eat Sarah, we can talk afterwards.”

Sarah nodded gratefully and dove into her meal headfirst as Luna did the same. They cleared their plates in a matter of minutes, surprising both of them.

“It seems that we were hungrier than we thought...” Luna said as she glanced at her now bare plate.

“Getting shot at and almost dying will do that to you,” Reilly agreed smiling. “Speaking of which, you two probably need to go see Carl after we get your normal clothes cleaned up.”

“Carl?” Sarah asked with a confused expression.

“Carl, he goes by Butcher in the field,” Reilly answered, hiding a smile behind a hand. “He thinks it makes him sound more manly.”

“Oh yes, the competent medic,” Luna said with a nod. “He is quite good at his task if the way he treated Sarah’s injuries were any indication,” she added before she leaned over to nuzzle Sarah lightly. “I was most worried about her after the fall but he managed to patch her up quite handily.”

“Yeah he did,” Sarah agreed with a quick nod as she tenderly touched her fully healed ribs. “I was feeling like death warmed over for a while there.”

A fond smile touched Reilly’s lips. “Yes, he’s the best around,” she said before pushing her chair away from the table. “Right then, want to do laundry?”

“Do you remember to look at your rad meter often?” Butcher asked Sarah as he scrolled across her Pip-Boy screen with several fast clicks.

“... not as often as I should I guess,” Sarah said, her eyes widening at the level of rads she’d racked up in her travels. They weren’t life threatening but...

We shall take to reminding you, Nim told her within her head. The last thing we need is you falling over in mid-step because you have neglected something like this.

“You need to remember to do it,” Butcher stated flatly before he looked at Luna. “I’m going to assume that you’re going to need a bigger dose of Radaway.”

“I suppose that makes sense,” Luna said before saying. “I wanted to thank you by the way.”

“For?” Butcher asked as he turned his back on the pair and began to rummage around through a medical box and came out with four containers of Radaway.

“For helping Sarah without comment or naming a price,” Luna said as she cast a sidelong glance at Sarah who nodded. “You are one of the first we have encountered here in the Wasteland who has done so.”

Butcher just shrugged slightly as he passed them the Radaway. “I’m a medic and you two had come to save our sorry asses. It wasn’t like I had much of a choice about getting you back on your feet did I?” he asked rhetorically while looking at Sarah. “Besides, I don’t like watching hurt people bleed to death.” A small smile had appeared on his face. “Anyways, take these and it should wash away your rads.”

“Thank you very much,” Sarah said with a nod. “By the way, do you think you can get those bullets she picked up out of Luna?”

Butcher frowned and glanced at Luna whose fur was marred by several notable places where bullets had penetrated her armour and dug into her flesh beneath. He looked up at Luna.

“I can get them out, but we don’t have anything to knock you out, only dull the pain,” he told her.

“This will hardly be the first occasion where I have had something dug out of me,” Luna stated with a small shrug. “Do it as quickly as you can and I will be happy enough.”

Butcher nodded and reached back to grab a syringe of Med-X and inserted it into Luna’s neck before turning his back on her again and grabbing a pair of medical tweezers and a scalpel. Sarah watched as he went to work.

He is lucky that we trust him so, Nim stated within her head. Else we would be worried that he had some nefarious intent.

Yeah... Sarah agreed as she watched Butcher cut open Luna. Then she stepped around the man and grabbed a clean, or as clean as you can get in the Wasteland, cloth and began to clean around the wounds Butcher had opened up. The man simply kept up his work and ignored Sarah, apparently trusting her not to either get in his way or do something stupid.

It took twenty minutes of off and on cutting to retrieve all of the bullets from Luna’s chest and cover the wounds before injecting her with a pair of stimpaks. When they’d finished Butcher had a metal plate full of metal fragments next to him on the hospital bed. He rubbed his hands together in a ‘finished’ gesture and glanced up at Luna who had stood through the entire ‘operation’ without comment.

“You’re good,” he told her. “Anything that I left in there is non-life threatening and unimportant.”

“Thank you,” Luna said with a smile as she shook herself for the first time in the last twenty minutes. “We feel as if you have removed several pounds worth of metal.”

“Not even one,” the man told her before glancing at Sarah. “And good job with the cloth. You managed not to get in the way.”

“I do my best,” Sarah replied before walking closer to Luna and giving her a kiss on the cheek. “Besides we couldn’t have you getting blood on your infirmary room floor eh?”

“Guess not,” he agreed before glancing at the door. “Anyways, I’ve kept you both here for too long, Reilly has something she wanted to talk to you about.”

“Really?” Sarah asked with a frown. “What is it?”

“Ask her yourself,” Butcher replied, though he couldn’t hide a small smile from his face. It was strange, he’d only known the pair for all of twelve hours but he strangely liked them.

Why is he smiling? Nim asked with a mental frown. There must be some plot against us! That is a plotting smile!

I rather doubt it, Sarah replied as she shrugged at Butcher. “Thanks for patching us up Carl, we’ll see you around.”

Butcher just raised an eyebrow at her for using his actual name before shrugging and getting back to the task of cleaning up his infirmary.

Luna led the way from the infirmary as they retraced their steps. “What do you think Reilly wished to discuss with us?” she asked Sarah who was wearing one of her newly cleaned jumpsuits.

"Maybe a reward for saving the Rangers?” Sarah asked.

“I believe we have already been rewarded in full for that task,” Luna replied with a small frown.

Never complain about how much people are willing to reward you, Nim commented. You know what they say about gift swords. Luna frowned for a second before nodding.

“I suppose you are right,” she stated.

“Gift swords?” Sarah asked with a small frown.

“Indeed, tis an old tradition of Equestria,” Luna replied. “Leaders of nations will give each other fine swords when meeting. It is considered bad form to question the strength of the blade.”

“Ah...” Sarah said, nodding and deciding to keep the saying about ‘gift horses’ to herself. “We have something similar.”

Now that is an unusual saying, Nim commented as she scanned the thought.

“Interesting,” Luna replied before they entered the main room which was located between the infirmary and the kitchen. To her surprise, Reilly, Donovan, and Brick were already there.

“About time you two got here,” Brick said as she looked between them. “If you took any longer then I was going to have to go make sure Butcher hadn’t lived up to his name,” she added with a joking smile.

“That would be tragic,” Donovan agreed, chuckling. “Anyways, now that you’re finally here, Reilly has something to say.”

“I’d like you both to be official members of Reilly’s Rangers,” Reilly said without further ado as she stepped up to the pair.

“What?” Sarah asked in befuddlement.

“I want you both to be members of our group,” Reilly repeated.

“But... why?” Luna asked, just as caught off guard as Sarah was.

“Because you’ve proved yourselves worthy of it,” Reilly said with a smile.

“That and being able to boast that you’ve got members who fly into battle out of the setting sun with a lever action rifle and a giant fucking sword is bad ass as all hell,” Brick added. “All you need is a pair of sunglasses.”

Hmm... they would go nicely with our attire... Nim agreed, the only one unphased by the turn of events.

“I um... I have no idea what to say,” Sarah said still recovering from the shock.

“Then say yes,” Reilly replied plainly, a wry smile appearing on her face. “You two earned it.”

“But... we hadn’t planned on staying here,” Luna said with a frown. “I do not want to sound ungrateful for this opportunity Reilly... but Sarah and I have our own business to attend to. Such as tracking down that andriod.”

“Yeah... that is a problem,” Sarah agreed. “We shouldn’t be members of the Rangers if we’re never with the Rangers.”

Reilly frowned for a moment and then shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. You’ll both be official Rangers regardless of whether you’re around or not,” she stated. “All you need is the armour.”

Sarah watched as Donovan stepped forwards with a bundle of drab green armour and the woman wordlessly accepted it.

“Now don’t you dare cut this one apart and attach it to jumpsuit,” the man told her with narrowed eyes. “You might be able to do it with that Talon shit, but I’ll be very annoyed if I ever see that done to my armour design.”

Sarah nodded hurriedly. “I’ll keep that in mind,” she stated with a slight smile before looking at Reilly. “May I... spray paint the letters 101 on the back?” she asked.

Reilly raised an eyebrow. “Sure. So does that mean you said yes?”

“I... yes, yes I have!” Sarah replied with a wide smile.

“Then welcome to the family,” Reilly told her, grinning.

“Do I get a suit of armour as well?” Luna asked with a curious expression though she didn’t want to sound needy.

Donovan look at her for a moment and shook his head. “Sorry, but we don’t have enough spares to cobble together something big enough to wear,” he told her, causing Luna’s expression to sink into a frown of unhappiness.

You didn’t want a suit of their functionless armour anyways, Nim said in Luna’s mind, comforting the mare as best she could.

But” Donovan continued breaking through any of Luna’s sadness. “I did manage to shore up the gaps in that armour of yours and reinforce it with our own stuff.”

Luna’s frown turned into a smile. “Thank you very much!”

“You’re welcome,” the man replied with a chuckle at her expression.

Sarah smiled as well, happy to see Luna look so overjoyed at being included. Then Reilly spoke again and her own sense of elation skyrocketed.

“By the way, one of the perks of being a recognized Ranger is that those Talon Company asshats will finally leave you alone,” the other woman said.

“Really?!” Sarah asked, her smile widening.

“Yep, they’re not as stupid enough to try anything knowing that we’ll have your back,” Reilly said with a grin.

“And if they do, we’ll take care of them for you,” Brick added with a grin of her own, though it was sinister in appearance.

Sarah didn’t know what to do, she hadn’t been this relieved about something for a long time, so instead of doing anything she just stood there smiling like an idiot.

We really need to work on your reactions... Nim commented. You make us look so very foolish.

Wandering Moon Chapter 42: Reveal

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Luna’s body heaved beneath Sarah and the woman’s breath caught in her throat as the strap around her waist slapped against her hips.

Then they landed and Luna let out an exhausted sigh. “I hate to say this Sarah but our new armours makes us much heavier then we were before,” the mare said in between gasps. “I don’t believe I will be doing any more long flights of that nature.”

“That’s fine Luna,” Sarah said as she dismounted, her movements surprisingly graceful now that she actually knew what she was doing.

The woman walked around to Luna’s front and reached into her pack to pull out a bottle of purified water which she then offered the mare who took it in her telekinesis and drained it with surprising quickness. Sarah raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment on it. Instead she just gave Luna a kiss on the cheek before saying.

“You really have nothing to be sorry for.”

“Not true,” Luna replied, shaking her head. “I should be able to carry you, my armour, and that twice over before becoming unable to fly,” she said before she gazed down malevolently at the metal walkway before them. “This Wasteland’s lack of natural magic is... vexing.”

Sarah nodded and patted Luna’s neck comfortingly. “Hey, even if you can’t fly as long you used to, you can still fly. That’s more than anyone else I know,” she told the mare.

That is a trait common to roughly one third of Equestria, Sarah, Nim stated in her head. Being able to fly is not exactly a term of endearment in Equestria.

Not helping in any way, Sarah stated flatly.

“While it is nice for you to say such a thing Sarah, it does not change the facts that I am unable to be as useful as I should,” Luna said, shaking her head. “I still lack the ability to perform even basic teleportation.”

“You can... teleport?” Sarah asked with a small frown as she reached into her bag and pulled out a pair of snack cake boxes, one of which she tossed to Luna.

“Yes it is a moderately advanced spell enabling the user to travel from one place to another instantaneously so long as they can see or are familiar with it,” Luna replied before quickly tearing open the box with her telekinesis and devouring the sugar and preservative filled treat. “I belive that were I to attempt it now it would near kill me.”

Which is why you should not attempt it under any circumstances, Nim pointed out for Sarah whose mouth was too full of snack cake to speak.

“I hadn’t planned on it,” Luna said archly before glancing at Sarah. “Though if it meant the difference between your life and death then I may be forced to.”

“Hey... let’s not even think about that kind of thing; okay?” Sarah asked, a small frown on her face.

“Fair enough, I’d rather not think of it,” Luna agreed before she looked at the decrepit hull of the ship section. “I cannot believe this ‘Pinkerton’ man would live in such a place. Surly Donovan was wrong when he told us of this.”

“I don’t think Donovan was wrong,” Sarah said with a shrug. “He seemed pretty confident about it,” the woman added before frowning. “Do you want to come too or wait out here?”

Luna frowned for a moment before nodding. “I shall join you this time. There is no Harkness with his iron hard rules to tell me what is and isn’t allowed,” she said with a slightly haughty tone in her voice.

Sarah smiled, she liked it when Luna was haughty... it was strangely attractive. She shook her head and set off down the rickety, even by Wasteland standards, bridge until she reached the bulkhead door. Sarah gave it a tug and discovered that it was locked.

“Shall I cut our way in?” Luna asked from over her shoulder.

“No... this is where Pinkerton lives. I don’t think he’d want us leaving his door ‘open’ like that,” Sarah replied with a wry grin. “Just give me a second and I bet I can force this lock,” she added as she bent down slightly to gain access to the small keyhole. She quickly reached into her bag and pulled out a screwdriver and a bobby pin which she then stuck into the hole. Luna watched curiously as Sarah maneuvered both objects within the lock. It took her ten minutes and five bobby pins, but eventually the woman managed to force the door to open.

The interior of the room was full of junk, but something that immediately stuck out to Sarah was the scoped .44 magnum sitting on the table to her right. The very next thing she noticed was the armed fragmentation mine sitting on the box of ammo beside it.

Hmm... that will present some difficulty, Sarah mused to herself.

Not at all actually, Nim stated in a slightly condescending tone. Please remember the company you keep Sarah. Sarah frowned for a moment before understanding what Nim meant.

“Hey Luna... I need you to do something for me,” Sarah said, looking over her shoulder at the mare who was still outside of the room.

“Yes?” Luna asked with a raised eyebrow. “What is it you need Sarah?”

“I need you to deactivate the mine over there,” Sarah stated, pointing at the landmine and stepping slightly out of Luna’s field of vision so that the mare could see the red disk. “Remember that you’ve got to press down on the red button on top to turn it off.”

“Right, I can do that telekinetically,” Luna replied as her magic wrapped around the object, pressing down the red button. Sarah grinned and walked over to the table, quickly grabbing the .44 and the small pile of ammo beside it.

“Good job Luna,” Sarah said with a grin as she put the magnum in her bag.

“It was hardly a challenge,” the mare said with a shuffler of her wings. “Thank you though.”

Sarah just smiled though it turned into a frown. “Hmm... why do I have the feeling that Pinkerton isn’t exactly in the mood for guests?” she asked.

“Perhaps he simply has a mirelurk infestation to worry about,” Luna observed.

“What makes you say that?” Sarah asked with a frown. By way of answering Luna just pointed towards the next room where a mirelurk seemed to be poking about within it. “Ah...”

Without further warning the mirelurk spotted them and let out a hiss and charged the pair.

Luna reacted first, Daybreaker launching itself from her sheath and impaling the mirelurk through the chest. To both her own and Sarah’s surprise the beast continued running towards them, unheeding of the rather large blade emerging from its back.

“Fuck!” Sarah shouted as she dived away from the beast’s swinging claws.

She hit the metal ground with thump and rolled to her feet, her shotgun in her hands. Sarah pulled the trigger rapidly and emptied a pair of shells into the crab mutant’s face. The mirelurk stumbled backwards and Luna yanked Daybreaker out of its chest releasing a stream of blood. Thankfully, that seemed to be enough to take the beast down because it’s body fell to the ground with a clang.

“Well... that was harder than I expected,” Sarah said as she got her breath back. It was harder to roll in the Ranger’s armour than she’d grown used too and took more of her energy.

“Yes...” Luna said as she brought Daybreaker up to float before her eyes. She looked at the blade critically for a few moments before shaking her head. “I suppose we should carry on?”

“Yeah, let’s,” Sarah agreed as she quickly reloaded the shotgun.

The pair started forwards, Sarah crouched in front with Luna weaving Daybreaker above her head at the ready. They made it around three feet down the hall after the next room before Sarah held up her hand to hault.

Set up in the middle of the hallway was a tripwire that had yet to be tripped which was attached to what appeared to be attached to nothing. Of course, that only made it more likely to set something off. Sarah frowned for a moment, not entirely sure how to deactivate it.

There, on the metal stake, Nim instructed after examining the device for a moment. Remove the wire from there and the trap will cease to work.

Sarah nodded and quickly went about doing so. When she had finished and felt confident that she hadn’t screwed up, mostly by the lack of explosions, she started forwards again. It was stop and go like that for the next several minutes as Sarah and Nim worked to disarm traps with liberal use of Luna’s telekinesis until they finally reached the door they’d been looking for.

Sarah stepped through first and found herself facing down the barrel of a combat shotgun in the hands of a very gruff looking old man.

“Who the hell are you?” he asked with narrowed eyes. “And more importantly, what the hell do you want from me?”

“Sarah, Sarah Summers,” Sarah said quickly, doing her best not to stutter. “I’m here to talk to you about the android!”

“Android? What android?” Pinkerton asked with a raised eyebrow.

“The one you have helped escape,” Luna said as she walked into view behind Sarah, her horn glowing as she wrapped her magic around the shotgun and wrenched it out of the old man’s hands. “And we will thank you not to point guns in our direction,” she added with a glare.

Pinkerton stared first at his floating gun and then at Luna his face taking on something between wonder and absolute infuriation.

“That shouldn’t be possible!” he exclaimed. “How in the hell are you doing that?!”

“Magic,” Luna said dryly. “Now then we were-”

“And what are you? How can you talk?” Pinkerton demanded, forgetting about the floating gun for a moment. “You look like the love child of a bird and a unicorn!”

Luna grit her teeth together. “I am an alicorn. I am not part bird, I am part pegasus... though at least you did not call me a horse...” she said before trailing off. “Regardless, this line of questioning is wasting time!”

Pinkerton continued to stare at her for a moment before shaking his head. “Fuck it... I’m too old for this kind of thing,” he grumbled before turning back to Sarah who was doing her best to look serious. “What do you want?”

“We’re here about the android who you mind wiped,” Sarah said. “And before you ask, we’re not working for the asshole looking for him.”

“Then why bother with it?” Pinkerton asked with a frown before angrily adding. “And give me my shotgun back you impudent horse!”

Alicorn,” Luna corrected and moved the shotgun farther away from him.

“I don’t care if you call yourself a God damned pegacorn, just give me my bloody shotgun!” Pinkerton replied angrily.

“No,” Luna replied evenly and was about to move it even farther out of his grip when Sarah patted the side of her neck.

“Luna, give the man his gun back,” Sarah said with a sigh. “Though if he goes pointing it at us again feel free to take it again.”

“Very well...” Luna grumbled as she dropped the shotgun into Pinkerton’s rather annoyed hands. “Happy?”

“Very,” Pinkerton said with a roll of his eyes. “Now then, you want to know about the android and you’re not working for that asshole who’s after him... so why in the hell do you want to find him?”

“Well... mostly because we’re worried about him,” Sarah answered. “I mean, if we can find him then I’m sure one of the groups with more people and experience can too.”

“So let me get this straight... you want to find the runaway android because you’re worried that someone else is going to find him because you could find him,” Pinkerton said flatly.

“Err... yes,” Sarah said slowly.

When he puts it like that... it sounds rather convoluted, Nim commented with a frown.

“Bah, whatever,” Pinkerton said with a shake of his head. “Look, all I really cared about was the fact that I got to experiment on the android. You can find him pretty easily if you go over to that terminal and go through the records. I kept everything documented.”

“Okay...” Sarah said as she eyed the man. “You’re not going to try and stop us?”

“If you want to ruin that man’s life then that’s your decision not mine,” Pinkerton said resolutely. “Just don’t come running to me if it comes back to bite you in the ass.”

Sarah frowned and went over to the computer, quickly pulling open the files labeled ‘android’. She rapidly tapped through them, speed reading through paragraph after paragraph, word after word. Then her eyes widened and she turned to look at Luna who had been reading along with her.

“I don’t believe it...” Sarah said in a startled voice.

“It’s... Harkness,” Luna said, her eyes wide with shock. “Oh... dear.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 43: Changes

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“How are we going to tell him that he’s not a real person?” Sarah asked Luna with a deep frown as they exited the broken bow.

“I know not,” Luna said with a shake of her head.

To our way of thinking, he still is a real person, Nim stated within their minds. After all, we have encountered him several times and he has acted like any other person would.

“But he is like a golem if my understanding of this situation is correct,” Luna stated. “Thus he cannot technically be considered living.”

“Golem?” Sarah asked her, glancing over her shoulder at Luna as the made their way over the rickety metal bridge.

A creature made of clay that has had lifeforce breathed into it via magic, Nim answered. They are not truly alive and are used by many highly powerful mages as servants and the like. Mostly because they can always be rebuilt if something were to go wrong with whatever spell is being tested.

“Ah...” Sarah said, grasping the edge of the concept if not the mechanics of it. “So you’re saying that Harkness is a golem, Luna?”

“It seems quite similar,” Luna stated with a deep frown. “Were we in Equestria I would feel pity for him but be obligated by the law to return him to his owner... here though I am not restricted by such a stipulation.”

Sarah glanced at her and found that Luna’s eyes had hardened. “Well, we never planned to do that in the first place,” Sarah said resolutely.

Luna glanced down at her and smiled. “That is one of the reasons why I love you Sarah, you have a good heart,” she said, giving the back of the woman’s neck a quick nuzzle.

“Heh, thanks,” Sarah said with a small smile, though it didn’t quite reach her eyes. The pair continued on the road towards the ship’s main section for several minutes until Sarah heard an odd sound overhead. It sounded like something was... reverberating.

What... is that? Nim asked in confusion. It is like nothing I have ever heard!

“There, in the sky!” Luna said, pointing upwards with her hoof.

Sarah followed the hoof and saw four black objects streak through the daylit sky. They were insectoid in appearance, with bulbous front ends ending in narrow abdomen. Two wings extended from either side of the thorax and Sarah saw two large propellers extending emerging from them.

“Is that... a vertibird?” Sarah asked, her confusion waging a war with excitement. According to the war books in the Vault, vertibirds had been prototypes during the great war... but what were they doing here?

“A what?” Luna asked in confusion.

“A vertibird, they act as mobile troop transports and attack gunships,” Sarah replied quickly. “Or at least they should have been. They were never finished if I remember correctly... they shouldn’t be here.”

Strange... Nim said with a mental frown. And is it our imagination... or are they heading towards where your father is?

Sarah’s eyes widened in shock, yes, yes they were!

“Oh no... that can’t be good!” Sarah stated in a low voice. “Come on Luna, we’ve got to get over there!”

“Agreed!” Luna stated. “Shall we fly?”

“I don’t think so...” Sarah replied as she began to run in the direction of the Project. “It would make you an easy target, and anyone with that kind firepower would shoot us out of the sky.”

Luna simply nodded, easily keeping pace with the woman. The two sprinted down the cracked asphalt of the road as in the distance the vertibirds touched down on the large metal walkway outside of the Project. Sarah’s lungs burned as her feet pounded against the asphalt. She didn’t know why... but a feeling of absolute dread had settled into the pit of her stomach.

As they drew closer Sarah saw black armoured figures walking the outside of the Project. They wore armour that dimly reminded Sarah of the soldiers of the Brotherhood of Steel but... darker. It, like their forms of transportation, appeared insectoid in nature; thick black carapaces of steel. In their hands rested tube-like guns with glowing green cores which Sarah suspected were energy weapons. There were not many of the figures, Sarah assumed that most had already gone inside, but those that she did see were clearly on guard.

“Sarah, stop,” Luna instructed suddenly, her magic grabbing Sarah as they reached the small island that the Project rested on. Sarah fought for a moment and then stilled as she looked at Luna with confusion.

“Why?” Sarah demanded as Luna directed her over the edge of the ‘island’ and onto the small bit of ground before the water.

“Because... charging them head on will do nothing except make us targets,” Luna replied simply.

She’s right, Nim affirmed.

“Okay... so what do we do?” Sarah asked.

“We tackle this with some form of forethought,” Luna replied with a small smile. “We have moved onto fighting what I believe is an actual force... so we must use actual tactics.”

“You know, I thought this place would be more... run down,” Frank said as he leaned against the doorway.

“Yeah, I know,” his brother DuFresne replied as he glanced around. “It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Sure there are mutants and the people are disgusting, but give us this purifier and a couple of years and we’ll make this whole city shine again.”

“Yeah, it’s like President Eden says, we’ll save America,” Frank agreed with a chuckle. “So, how are things going in there do you think?”

“The last radio report said things were going alright, they had some security people from that floating tugboat but it was nothing we couldn’t handle,” DuFrense replied as he leaned against the door beside his brother. “Apparently the head scientist put up a fight too, managed to send Tanner back to the vertibird for medivac with an arc welder.”

“Damn,” Frank replied before shaking his head. “Stupid fucking wasters.”

“Yeah, stupid fucking wasters,” DuFrense replied before frowning within his helmet. “Hey, what happened to Sam?

Frank frowned too and looked around the area for their other squad mate. “That’s weird... I don’t see him,” the said as he readied his plasma rifle. “I hope he didn’t wander off too far, he’s got our extra microfusion cells.”

“Knowing him he’s off sleeping somewhere,” DuFrense agreed with a shake of his head. “Lazy ass. Now we have to go look for him.”

“Yeah,” Frank agreed as he stepped away from the door. The two set off and walked over to where Sam had been patrolling.

“Sam, you lazy asshole, where are you?” DuFrense shouted as he looked around the edge of the island.

“I don’t like this,” Frank muttered as he scanned the apparently empty Wasteland. He gripped his plasma rifle tighter between his gauntlets as he suddenly realized that none of his other squad mates were where they should have been, a fact that he quickly shared with his brother.

“What the hell is going on?” DuFrense demanded as he looked around in confusion. He turned back to his brother to see that there was now a rather sizeable silver blade protruding from his chest, armour cut cleanly through.

He didn’t have long to think about that because something slammed into his legs and sent him tumbling to the ground, power armour and all. He landed with a thud and tried to get off of his stomach when he suddenly felt something touch the base of his neck.

Sarah pulled the knife out and got back to her feet.

“That went... way too well,” the woman stated as she cleaned the knife and re-sheathed it.

“Do not count on it happening often,” Luna stated as she collected the plasma rifles. “There were very few of them and thus they were easy to ambush. I imagine that once they realize that their men out here are dead that they will send someone to investigate.”

“Well then, let’s get in there while the getting’s good,” Sarah replied as she took off towards the door at a quick sprint.

Careful Sarah, we must still be cautious, Nim said within her mind.

I know, I know, I’m just worried about my father, Sarah replied stiffly as she reached the door to the Project.

Then rid yourself of that worry! Nim told her harshly. We will not have you die because you burst through a doorway that should have been taken cautiously!

Sarah frowned in irritation but headed Nim’s advice and slowly eased the door open. She looked inside and saw that there was no one there, apparently whoever the troopers were with hadn’t expected anyone to make it that far from the outside.

We are clear, Nim announced for Luna’s benefit.

Sarah crept through the door, Luna following as silently as she could manage on her hooves behind her. The pair inched their way down the corridor, Sarah with her repeater hugging her shoulder and Luna with Daybreaker at the ready. They came to the room containing the gift shop and came to a stop.

Five of the black armoured troops were waiting within it all of them armed similarly to those from before.

“God dammit,” one of them stated. “We’ve lost contact with Blue Team.”

“How?” another asked. “There’s no way in hell that those ‘security’ guards could have gotten out and even less chance of them managing to kill all of Blue Team.”

“I don’t know, but you two need to check on it,” the first one speaker said, pointing at two of the other troopers.

“Aye sir,” they said at once, snapping the man salutes.

Sarah and Luna exchanged a glance.

What should we do? Luna mentally asked the woman.

I don’t know... you’re the strategist here, Sarah replied. I’d say that our best bet is to try and take out the two who are coming this way as they leave and then launch an attack on the other three.

A fair plan, we shall guide your hands, Nim stated within Sarah’s head.

Sarah nodded and let out a deep breath before as the pair of troopers walked towards the doorway. She brought up her repeater to focus on his head, hoping that the bullet would penetrate the armour. Meanwhile, Luna readied Daybreaker for a single decapitating slice.

The two troopers walked through the doorway and Luna’s blade fell. Her trooper’s head rolled one way as his body fell the other

“What the hel-”


The .44 round slammed into the man’s helmet and the other man went down. That however wasn’t enough to kill him, nor did it stop the other soldiers from seeing the very obvious deaths.

Before Sarah knew what was happening the corridor was full of laser fire and bolts of green plasma. The woman screamed out in pain and slammed her back against the wall clutching at her arm where a ball of plasma had ‘grazed’ her. The pain was incredible as the superheated ‘liquid’ burned through her Ranger’s armour and ate at the edges of her skin.

Luna looked over in concern, but found herself unable to do anything thanks to the almost literal wall of energy being sent at them. She wasn’t even able to get a shot off as the troops seemed to be taking turns firing, the other team starting the moment that the first ran out of shots.

Sarah grit her teeth against the pain from her arm as Nim spoke within her mind. We shall do what we can to blot out the pain but we aren’t capable of dismissing all of it.

The woman nodded as a bit of the pain receded and she peaked around the doorframe to see that the troopers had stopped firing. Instead, two of them had green spherical objects in their hands.

Grenades, Sarah thought to herself. Nim, I need you!

We are here, Nim replied.

Sarah brought up her repeater and focused on the grenades. The world seemed to slow to a crawl as the adrenaline rushed through her brain and she felt her hands moving on their own accord.


One shot missed and the troopers turned their guns on Sarah again.


Another shot missed.



The room was obscured in a blast of green and Sarah’s eyes burned as the grenade detonated.

Luna tugged Sarah back behind the wall in case any of the troopers were left alive, though after an explosion like that she doubted there were. Sarah blinked rapidly as her eyes attempted to recover from the abuse and it took her several seconds to do so. The first thing she saw was Luna’s concerned face.

“Are you alright?” the alicorn asked worriedly.

“I... yeah, sorry,” Sarah replied as she blinked ghosts from her eyes. “Let’s keep moving,” she said as she glanced around the corner and saw that the room was empty save for three puddles of glowing green goo.

We want those grenades, we want many of those grenades! Nim exclaimed in Sarah’s head. With them there will be no one who would dare stand befo-

Nim, shut up, Sarah stated flatly, in no mood for that. Nim fell silent, cowed by the woman’s harsh tone.

The pair made their way through the now empty room and Sarah frowned. Where should we look for my father?

I believe that it would be best if we checked the main room, Luna replied with a frown. It would make the most logical place to herd everyone were we in control of this operation.

Sarah nodded and they quickly dashed across through the empty rooms and towards the doors to the rotunda. Unfortunately, before they got there, they ran into another two man squad of troopers.

“Get the freaks!” one of them shouted, bringing up a plasma rifle to focus on Luna.

The mare felt a painful arrow of heat hit her chest but she ignored it and sent Daybreaker lancing at the trooper. The silver blade impaled him through the chest and Luna pulled it out with a clean motion before bringing it around to slash at the trooper beside him. Said trooper dodged to the side and prepared to fire at her.

Sarah’s .44 round tore through the air and whizzed by his head, distracting him and making him turn to the woman. Sarah’s next round nailed him between the eyes but his armour took the hit with ease and he fired.

Sarah rolled to the side beneath a bolt of plasma and felt it skid across her back causing her to let out a scream of pain but she pulled out of her roll in time to fire again. This time the bullet slammed through the man’s throat padding and he dropped like a stone.

The woman panted in place and glanced at Luna. The mare’s chest was visible through her now thoroughly holed armour and Sarah could see several places where the plasma had scorched their way into her flesh. Luna caught her glance and shook her head.

“I will be fine... they are not nearly the worst burns I have received,” the alicorn stated, dismissing the woman’s fears. “Now come, we must move.”

Sarah nodded and pushed open the door to the rotunda. Inside she found Doctor Li and several others staring at the interior of the glass enclosed control room. The woman turned to stare at the pair, her eyes widening.

“Sarah, thank God!” she said, rushing up to give the woman a hug.

Sarah didn’t so much accept the hug as simply stand there and allow herself to be hugged. “Where’s my father?” she demanded once Li had released her.

“In there with their commander,” Doctor Li replied, pointing at the control room.

Sarah rushed up to the edge to see her father, his face bruised and bloody, standing in front of a blond man wearing a large military coat. Two of the armoured troopers were also there, both of whom were pointing their plasma rifles at her father menacingly.

“Dad!” Sarah shouted, rushing up to the glass and banging on it. Her father turned away from the military man and saw her, he gave her a comforting smile as if to say ‘everything will be alright’ and turned back to the man. Said man was staring at Luna, his eyes narrowed.

He asked James something and James replied, Sarah couldn’t hear a word thanks to the glass.

“We’ve got to get in there!” Sarah exclaimed, her eyes not leaving her father.

“I could cut us a way through,” Luna stated, hefting Daybreaker.

“No, you can’t do that!” another of the scientists exclaimed.

“And whyever not?” Luna asked, turning to regard the woman with narrowed eyes.

“Because if you do that then in the event of a radiation surge then this entire building will be impossible to use,” the woman explained. “That room acts as a containment center in case of overloads and surges.”

Luna stared at her before letting out an irritated huff and turning back to Sarah who had been too concerned watching her father to have pay attention to the background chatter.

The military man said something else and James just nodded and replied. The military man frowned and then smiled arrogantly, walking up the the inner control panel. Without warning, faster then the guards could react, James rushed forwards and Sarah saw his fist raised to clock the military man.

However, just before James’s fist could touch him, the military man’s arm shot up and deflected Jame’s fist to the side. James responded by bringing his other fist around for another punch but the military man was faster and his fist slammed into James’s jaw, sending the bloodied man tumbling to the ground.

Sarah let out a shout of dismay at her father’s fall and slammed her hands against the unyielding glass. Her scream only got louder as the two troopers shot her father with a pair of plasma bolts.

“DAD!” she shouted hysterically as she beat against the glass, feeling utterly helpless.

Then there was a flash of light within the room and there was Luna, standing over her father’s fallen form. Before the troopers could react Luna disappeared in another flash of light and reappeared beside Sarah though she dropped to her knees in exhaustion. For once Sarah’s eyes weren’t focused on her, more important was the form of her father who had miraculously appeared beside her.

James was lying on his back looking at the ceiling, there were two large burn marks in his chest, evidence of the plasma bolts.

“Dad! Dad are you okay?!” Sarah asked desperately, falling to her knees beside him, what little of her calmness remained falling away..

James moved his head to the side and smiled. “I’m... fine Sarah... but we need to get everyone out of here,” he said slowly as blood ran down his face. Sarah stared at him for a moment before she reached into her pocket and pulled out a stimpack, quickly injecting it into his chest right above the deep scorch marks.

“We can’t move you now!” Sarah exclaimed as she stared at him incredulously. It was only then that she noticed two things. One, Doctor Li was crouching on James’s other side, two, Nim was currently shouting in her head.


Shut up! Sarah replied angrily as her eyes turned back to her father who was being helped very slowly to his feet.


The sheer volume of the mental words was enough to force Sarah’s eyes to look at Luna who was still on her knees, gasping for air, perspiration covering her body. A thin line of white foam puffed around the very edge of her lips and her eyes looked slightly wild.

“Luna!” Sarah shouted as she darted towards her companion.

“I... am... fine...” Luna said, her breaths coming out raspily. “There... just... was not as much magic... as I had hoped.”

Sarah was conflicted, being pulled between the overwhelming sense of concern she had for the two people she cared about the most.

Luckily, it did not fall upon Sarah’s shoulders to choose. The room shook as a pulse of some sort of energy rocked the control room and it tore Sarah’s eyes from Luna. The military man was slumped over the control panel and his two men were similarly down.

Behind her, her father let out a ragged laugh. “Hah... stupid bastard.”

“What did you do?” Doctor Li asked as she steadied James between herself and another of the scientists.

“I told him the emergency radiation flood activation code,” James replied through gritted teeth. “Now... everyone come on... we have to get out of here.”

Sarah turned to look at her father, her eyes shining with tears at seeing that he was alright before turning to Luna who had struggled to her hooves and moved to support the mare.

“Are you alright?” Sarah asked the mare worriedly.

“No... but I will live... this time,” Luna replied, her face haggard.

“I... thank you Luna, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Sarah murmured as the pair began to limp after the others. “You... you saved him Luna.”

“I would do it again,” Luna said quietly, her voice still raspy. “Even if it killed me.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 44: Life

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It had been a very tight fit but after several minutes of struggling and straining Sarah had been able to get Luna through the porthole and down into the sewers below. They’d been last, Luna insisting that she did not want anyone to be killed by their pursuers because they were stuck behind her rear end.

Now, the group of ten people and one alicorn were walking, or in two cases, limping down the absurdly spacious sewers. Sarah’s gaze was split between her father who was still being supported by Doctor Li along with an intern and Luna who was leaning heavily against her side.

Luna looked... haggard. Her normally youthful and expressive face was drawn and weary. The mare’s stary mane had returned to it’s non-ethereal blue color and it looked... drier and more likely to snap. Not only that... but there was a distressingly large swath of grey hairs among those crackly blue ones.

Worse, her strides were slow and measured, as if she was focusing solely on walking and not in the least on the world around them. Every few minutes Sarah would tap her gently on the neck and Luna would glance her way, smile, and then go back to staring at the ground in front of them.

Nim... is she going to be alright? Sarah asked Nim worriedly.

Now; no. In the future... yes, Nim replied, her voice containing just as much concern as Sarah’s. There... was not enough magic around her for her to be able to perform the teleportation spell when she cast it once, let alone twice... so she drew that power from another source.

Luna let out a grunt and cast an annoyed glance at Sarah, though the woman suspected it was not directed at her.

Wait... I think I know what you’re getting at, Sarah said, her brow furrowing as Luna leaned more heavily against her. You’re saying that...

“I drew the energy from my own body,” Luna whispered, her voice raspy. “It was... very stupid of me.”

“Is that why your mane is greying?” Sarah asked, steadying Luna as they started down the ramp.

“Aye,” Luna stated. “I suspect what I did would have cost a normal unicorn her life’s energy. Being who and what I am... I simply aged myself several dozen years. It will most likely be reversed over time... but at the moment I am rather frail for which I apologize.”

“I... don’t,” Sarah replied. “You have nothing to apologize for!”

“That is hardly true,” Luna said with a wry chuckle, causing several of the group to look back at her before looking back to the walk at hand. “I am always the burden, Sarah. My sister has almost died countless times for my mistakes. It was I who was captured by Discord, I who heedlessly charged the Council, I stupidly believed I was capable of subduing Sombra by myself...” The alicorn trailed off and shook her head. “I am a sham Sarah, a sham of a Princess, undeserving of the title Queen.”

Sarah didn’t know who any of those names were, but there was one thing she did know; she didn’t care.

"God dammit Luna, shut up!” the woman whispered intensely. “I am so incredibly sick of this. Stop shitting on yourself. You’ve saved me more times than I can count and more importantly, you saved my father’s life. You are not entitled to all this pathetic whining!”

Luna stared at her for a long moment and for a second Sarah thought she’d overstepped herself in some way, then the alicorn leaned her head against Sarah’s neck and let out a long sigh.

“Forgive me... being in this weakened state must be making my lips flap more than usual,” she apologized quietly.

No. The words were just less interesting, Nim stated.

Meanwhile as James leaned against her, Doctor Li looked at the man’s greying face with concern. Intern Laura had fallen back to stand beside her boyfriend leaving the two ‘alone’ so to speak.

“How are you doing?” she asked him quietly.

“You already know,” James replied with a shake of his head. “Those plasma balls burned through me... I’m having trouble breathing because they hit my lungs... I’m having trouble walking because my heart is having trouble pumping the blood... I’m having trouble speaking because I’m in so much pain.”

“I’m sure once we get you to the Brotherhood Lyons will be able to fix you,” Madison replied with a troubled frown. She knew just how little chance there was of that.

“I’ll be dead within the day,” James replied before he was interrupted by a hacking cough that wracked his entire body. He brought up a hand to cover his mouth and when he pulled it away it was wet and red.

“You don’t know that,” Madison whispered firmly. “Dammit James, I didn’t get dragged into all of this again just for you to die on me!”

James gave her a pained smile. “Oh Madison... I never did do right by you. Catherine and I knew... we always knew that you had feelings for me... but... I loved her more... I’m sorry,” he said before he coughed again, hacking up more blood, some of it getting on Madison’s white lab coat. “I’m so very sorry you spent your life pining for someone like me.”

Madison looked away for a long moment before a snarl of irritation left her lips.

“You know, I spent so many years wishing for you to come back out of that Vault,” she began in a harsh growl. “I always thought that when you did, you’d come to me and apologize for how you treated me, how you took Sarah and abandoned me even though I was perfectly willing to help you raise her as if she was mine...” she glared at him for a long moment before continuing. “But now that you’re here... I almost wish you’d never come.”

James winced, for the first time not out of physical pain and looked down.

“I know... I’ve ruined your life Madison, in more than one way now,” he told her quietly.

“Yes, yes you have,” she replied tiredly, the spite leaving her voice and being replaced by weariness. “Which is why you have to live... otherwise you’ll never be able to make it up to me.”

James leaned against her a bit harder and gave her fingers a squeeze. “I’ll certainly try Madison... I’ll certainly try,” he said before another round of coughs wracked his body.

The group continued much like that for the next ten minutes. The scientists and interns clustered in the center of the group along with the one surviving security guard from Rivet City, James and Madison in the front, and Sarah with Luna taking up the back. They didn’t stop until they came to a thick metal door with a computer terminal mounted in the wall beside it.

“I’ll have to unlock it,” Madison said as she pulled James along with her to the terminal and got to work.

It was then that Sarah heard the noise of metal boots crashing down on concrete from the room beside them. Sarah let go of Luna, who saged visibly but managed to maintain her footing, and walked over to crouch beside the doorway of the room.

She peered around the side of it and saw that there were several of troopers, she’d been told they were part of something called the Enclave, up on a balcony above her. They hadn’t seen her yet, nor did they seem to be aware that her group were outside.

They have not noticed us yet, Nim commented within her mind. It would be foolish to alert them of our presence.

Yeah... what about when they come down here though? Sarah asked as she glanced at a doorway in the far wall. I’m sure they’ll find their way down here eventually.

Very true, we would not like to be flanked, Nim agreed with a mental frown. Then she grew excited. Sarah, do you still have that ‘grenade bouquet’ which we picked up from Pinkerton’s traps?

Sarah frowned but nodded.

Excelllent! We also have several of those plasma grenades, do we not? Nim asked, growing more excited.

Sarah’s eyes widened and she grinned as she stepped away from the doorway and motioned for the other people in the group to keep their mouths shut. Then, with Nim’s help and guidance she reassembled the grenade bouquet, though instead of using fragmentation grenades she chose to arm it with plasma.

Then she rigged it to the door and smiled wickedly; the first person to cross that doorway was going to be nothing but a green blob on the floor.

She finished just in time apparently as Doctor Li had finished hacking the computer and the large metal door opened allowing the group to continue onwards. Sarah had taken up a position at the head of the group, trusting Luna to manage to keep up with them and coming to the startling realization that she was the only real fighter left in the group other then the solitary security officer.

Is Luna fine back there? she asked Nim worriedly as she crept forwards, repeated at the ready.

Yes, she is managing, Nim replied. Though she does not like being left alone back there.

I’d hang back if I could but- Sarah cut herself off as she spotted a feral ghoul up ahead. She calmly brought her repeater up to aim at it and pulled the trigger. The ghoul’s head exploded and Sarah calmly readied another round.

Another ghoul came running out of the murkiness of the tunnel, swinging its arm at her viciously. Sarah ducked beneath it and jabbed the stock of the repeater into its chest. The ghoul stumbled backwards and Sarah, with Nim’s assistance, plugged a bullet into its neck.

Several more ghouls came rushing at her, all meeting a similar end and Sarah was beginning to fall into a good rhythm when she realized that there were no more ghouls running towards her. The woman looked around and discovered that they had moved to a completely different spot then when she’d been started shooting.

I don’t remember getting here, Sarah thought to herself, mystified.

Your mind is rather strained at the moment, Nim informed her. We took over halfway through.

I... you what? Sarah asked, shaking her head to glance over her shoulder at the group, it was not far behind her, James and Doctor Li still in the lead with the Rivet City Security guard just before them. Nim had... taken control of her several times before, but never without her realizing it.

You were incapable of combat, we believed it would be preferable for us to take over than for you to die, Nim stated. We believe it worked rather well.

I... please don’t do that again without asking, Sarah said, barely suppressing a shiver.

Very well... we had not thought you would react in this manner, Nim said before falling silent as they arrived at another door.

Before Sarah could fully process everything that Nim had just said, Doctor Li walked up to her, her father still leaning against her. The woman’s face was pale and worried but she still managed to maintain a surprising level of calm. Sarah was horrified to see that her father was even worse looking than he had been before.

"We need to rest here for a moment,” Doctor Li stated. “Garza has a heart condition and even though your father is in need of more urgent care I’d prefer not to lose anyone.”

“Do you have any stimpacks or buffout Sarah?” her father asked, looking at Sarah with pain filled eyes. “Around five would be able to keep Garza on his feet.”

“I... yeah, I have that many,” Sarah said as she fumbled in her stimpack pouch. She pulled out five and handed them to Doctor Li who took them and rushed off. Sarah took the woman’s place supporting her father. “Dad... are you okay?” she asked.

James seemed to hesitate for a moment before answering. “Yes, yes I’m fine Sarah. There’s nothing to worry about. I’m just a tired old man,” he told her, attempting to smile through the overwhelming pain that wracked his body.

“I mean... I could always give you one or two stimpacks if that would help,” Sarah said, biting her bottom lip. “I don’t want you too... you too die.”

James shook his head. “I’m fine Sarah, honest.” He was about to say something else when a horrible cough wracked his body. James brought his hand up to cover his mouth, but that didn’t stop Sarah from seeing the red stains of blood on his fingers. Sarah stared at the blood stained fingers for a second before looking up to meet her father’s eyes.

“You’re not fine,” she said softly.

“No... no I’m not,” James said. “And there’s no amount of stimpacks that will make me be.”

Sarah shook slightly as she stood there clutching her dying father. “No... no... there has to be something we can do,” she insisted. “If we can get you to the Brotherhood in time-”

“It’ll be too late... I’m afraid,” he replied. He looked like he was about to say something else when a massive explosion shook the tunnel behind them. “Sounds like they found your bouquet.”

Sarah looked at the man, tears running down her face as a small smile stretched across her face. “Yeah. Guess they did.”

It was then that Sarah noticed Luna slowly approaching, her strides looking a small bit more confident than they had before.

“We need to continue moving,” the alicorn reported. “It sounds as if they are getting close.”

“Yeah,” Sarah agreed simply with a small nod as she looked to Doctor Li who had returned and taken up position on James’s other side. She let go of her father and closed with the mare, giving her a pat on the neck. “Lets get out of here Luna.”

The door in front of them opened unexpectedly and revealed a power armoured figure. Sarah’s hands went for her repeater before she realized just who was standing in front of her.

Sarah Lyons smiled at her. “Hey Sarah... long time no see.”

Sarah had to admit, seeing the Citadel from the ground was much more impressive than from the air. It was a massive structure that had withstood bombings, planes, and even armies and come through mostly unscathed. A pair of power armoured Brotherhood soldiers stood in front of the frankly massive steel door alongside a pair of sentry bots all of whom looked at the exhausted group with skeptical expressions.

“You sure they’re clear?” one of the troopers asked, he wasn’t wearing a helmet and his face was set in a hard expression.

“Yes Bael I’m sure,” Sarah Lyons stated flatly. “Get the door open, now!”

‘Bael’ grumbled something but turned around and spoke into a small com system. “Open her up. Paladin Lyons’ orders.”

Sarah smiled... for once today things were going their way. Then she felt Luna shudder with exhaustion beside her and winced.

“Just a little farther,” she promised the alicorn whose only response was to nod tiredly.

The door rumbled open and Lyons led them through it and up a set of cracked stairs. From there they walked through a door and into the largest open air courtyard Sarah had ever seen. Of course, she’d only seen one, but even so, it was impressively large.

Off to the right and the left were squads of Brotherhood troopers and initiates practicing their shooting or alternatively doing pushups. Walking hurriedly towards them was an old man in a blue robe and a pair of people in scrubs. He was bald but had an amazing bushy beard to make up for it.

“Madison, James,” the blue robbed man said with a smile as he approached. Then the smile fell from his face when he saw James. “Oh my...”

“Hello Owyn... it’s been a long time,” James replied with a small smile that was as brittle as it was genuine. “As you can see... I may need some medical help.”

“Quite right, quite right,” ‘Owyn’ said before nodding at the scrub wearing women. “Get him to the Medbay as fast as you can.”

Sarah tried to step forwards and follow her but Lyons stopped her with a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“Sarah, you and Luna look like death warmed over,” the Paladin told her. “You need to rest.”

“But my dad!” Sarah protested.

“He’ll be fine,” Lyons told her, making sure that the black haired woman was looking into her blue eyes. “We’ll get you if anything happens; okay?”

“I... I guess,” Sarah said, wanting to struggle out of the woman’s grip and run after her father.

“Good, follow me and I’ll see if I can’t find you two beds,” Lyons said looking between the two.

“Just one if you can find it...” Luna said tiredly.

Lyons looked at Sarah for a moment before shrugging slightly. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Sarah just nodded and stared after her father’s retreating form. “I love you dad...”

Wandering Moon Chapter 45: Surges and Rainbows

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The room was a maelstrom of magic and a singular purple filly floated in the middle of the chaos. Twilight Sparkle’s eyes were aglow and her horn’s light filled the room like a magical inferno. Celestia’s eyes were still locked on her baby brother, just hatched, who was currently several dozen feet taller than he was supposed to be along with the testing proctors and the filly’s parents who’d been turned into potted plants.

She simply couldn’t believe what was happening. A simple magical test had turned into the most powerful surge of magic she’d seen out of a normal unicorn since Clover the Clever had freed herself from Discord’s control. Twilight Sparkle was obviously an Alpha+ level magic wielder, maybe even an Alpha++.

Celestia however had no time left to worry about that, if she did not act soon then the poor filly’s life would be consumed by the magic she wielded. So, with a flash of her horn she appeared beside the filly, uncaring of the beams of bright, unfocused magic that flashed off of her snow white fur. Her own horn flared and she reached down to gently tap Twilight’s horn and cut off the surge.

The effect was immediate; the power in the filly’s eyes disappeared and she fell to the ground in a boneless heap as her little brother shrank back to a more manageable size and several potted plants suddenly remembered that they were ponies. Celestia let out a sigh of relief, this was the worst surge she’d seen in a long time but on the bright side the effects looked fairly easy to fix.

The alicorn’s mind was actually more preoccupied with figuring out what the cause of the surge itself was. All she knew was that there had been an incredibly loud explosion coupled with a surge of magic strong enough to set off Twilight’s inherent powers as well as those of several other unicorns around Canterlot. Celestia frowned as she picked up the baby dragon in her magic, who looked up at her with confused yet wise eyes as he cocked his head to the side.

“I’m sorry, little brother,” Celestia apologized to him as she began to pick up rubble and cast repair spells. “This isn’t quite the way I pictured you coming into this world.”

The dragon frowned at her and seemed to shrug slightly before his eyes closed and he fell asleep. Celestia moved him onto her back, where he immediately grasped on with his claws, and continued walking around the room. After she was sure that the room wouldn’t be collapsing on them all any time soon Celestia returned to Twilight’s slumbering body. Her white furred mother was standing over her with a worried expression on her face and upon Celestia’s approach she looked up at her with a slightly raised eyebrow.

“So... I take it that you’re going to be teaching her yourself?” the unicorn asked.

“It appears that way, yes,” Celestia answered. “An Alpha++ unicorn simply can’t be taught in a normal classroom environment.”

“Good,” Twilight Velvet replied with a small nod as she looked tenderly at the filly and picked her up in her magic. “It appears that you won’t be needing me to carry out your plans after all.”

Celestia frowned. “Only if you permit it Velvet,” she replied. “I won’t ‘use’ her unless you’d rather opt out.”

“I’d honestly prefer that I be the one to do it... but that’s still how many years off?” Velvet asked as she placed Twilight on her back.

“Around twenty,” Celestia answered for her as they began to leave the room, heading for the infirmary.

“Well... we’ll see in twenty years,” Velvet said before casting a worried motherly look back at the snoozing filly. “For now, teaching her to control her magic is all I want.”

“Agreed,” Celestia said with a small nod of her head. Within her own mind however, plans were already being hatched... she’d have her sister back and whether or not it was Twilight Sparkle who cast the spell, she’d be prepared for anything.

“My Queen, as honored as I am that you’ve requested me here, I simply don’t understand why,” the rainbow maned pegasus stallion stated as he sat across from Queen Celestia, a mahogany desk between them.

“That is actually fairly easy to answer, Mr. Prism,” Celestia answered with a small smile. “You see, two days ago your daughter did something that has been impossible for the last... one thousand years.”

“I know... is she in trouble for it?” Prism asked with slightly narrowed eyebrows.

“What? No, not at all,” Celestia said with a wave of her hoof through the air between them. “Quite the opposite in fact.”

“Oh?” Prism inquired. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that your daughter is very special and deserves to be treated as such,” Celestia answered, smiling kindly at him. “Which is why I have made arrangements for the both of you to be moved here to Canterlot.”

“What?” Prism asked, caught completely off guard.

“Like I said, you’re going to be moving here to Canterlot,” Celestia repeated as her horn glowed and a slip of paper and read. “Under Procedure 1029 of the Equestrian Crown’s Royal Decrees, Rainbow Daring Dash and her family are to be brought before Queen Celestia so that she may be educated in a manner that serves all of Equestria,” she read off in a neutral voice before internally wincing at what she knew was coming.

“WHAT?!” Prism shouted, surprise and outrage coupling in his voice in a way that impressed even Celestia. “You can’t do that! We have a life in Cloudsdale! You can’t just force us to move without any warning!”

“Actually, I can,” she replied calmly. “You have the most powerful pegasus in a thousand years as a daughter. I’m sorry but I simply cannot allow her to live outside of my reach.”

“This-this is an outrage!” Prism roared at her. “How are we supposed to live here! I don’t have a job in Canterlot!”

“On the contrary, you do,” Celestia replied as her horn began to glow and another piece of paper floated off of the desk and up to hover in front of his face. “I’m offering you the job as a manager of the Canterlot Weather Team.”

“I... but...” Prism trailed off as he read over the paper. “This... this is more bits than I’ve earned in the last ten years,” he gasped, shocked.

“Indeed it is,” Celestia nodded. “I have looked over your career and found that you’re certainly up to performing the duties required of you to fill this position.”

“But... what about my little Rainbow?” Prism asked, clearly conflicted. “She has friends in Cloudsdale.”

“She will just have to make new friends,” Celestia said, though a smile appeared on her face. “I believe I know a certain unicorn filly who would be overjoyed to have a new friend to play with.”

“I... alright... I don’t like it... but if you order it my Queen then I suppose I have to,” Prism said with a sigh, looking down at his lap.

“Don’t worry Prism, I know that this may seem cruel, but it is for the best,” Celestia comforted him. “Your daughter is unique and I will make sure that she receives the absolute best schooling that a pegasus could wish for. I’m already prepared to pay her way through whichever college or academy she chooses to attend and if you wish I can make the package even sweeter if you have something specific in mind.”

“I... did you say academy?” Prism asked slowly. “As in... military academy?”

“Why yes,” Celestia answered with a smile. “After all, somepony with her skills could go far in the guard corps or the army if she wished too.”

Prism’s eyes narrowed. “You just want to use her don’t you?” he asked her harshly.

“No,” Celestia answered calmly. “I want to make sure that she doesn’t go to waste.”

“That’s the same thing,” he growled.

“I think you’ll find that it isn’t,” Celestia replied. “Your daughter is a valuable asset and if you’re not careful she could end up in serious trouble later in life if she doesn’t have the proper training she needs.”

“She’s still just a Wonderbolt-obsessed filly who wants nothing more than to join the team,” Prism shot back angrily.

“And aren’t the Wonderbolts a part of the Equestrian Air Force?” Celestia countered with an invisible smile.

“I-but-grrr,” the stallion let out a small growl as he saw her logic. “Fine... I still don’t like it.”

“I understand that my little pony,” Celestia told him comfortingly. “However, I promise you that Rainbow Dash will receive the best of everything in life.”

“I... very well my Queen,” Prism relented at last. “I guess... I should get home... tell Rainbow the news.”

“Very well,” Celestia said with a small smile. “Oh, and Prism?”

“Yes?” Prism asked her as he got up from his seat.

“You’ll be living in the Castle itself,” Celestia informed him.

“So that you can keep a better eye on Rainbow?” he asked her with a scowl.

“No, so that you no longer have to pay taxes or worry about finding housing,” Celestia replied easily with a small chuckle. “Honestly Prism, I only want the best for you both.”

The pegasus rolled his eyes slightly. “Yeah, I bet you do,” he said before shaking his head and trotting out of the room, tail twitching angrily.

Celestia let out a sigh, she hated doing this type of thing... and yet it was necessary. Young Rainbow Dash could be a potent weapon against her if any lurking group tried to gain possession of her. Not to mention that if she turned to a life of crime it would be nearly impossible to stop her. A bank robber who can go from zero to supersonic in five seconds was not easily caught.

On the bright side, Celestia knew a lonely unicorn filly who would surely benefit from having another foal around to play with.

“Do... do you have to go?” the yellow pegasus asked softly.

“I guess,” the rainbow maned one replied with a shake of her head. “That’s what dad says anyways... I’m sorry Flutters.”

“I...I... I just don’t know what I’ll do with you gone,” she Fluttershy replied softly, her voice breaking. “You... you’re the only one who sticks up for me!” Tears began to well up in Fluttershy’s eyes and Rainbow Dash put aside whatever dislike she had for ‘mushy stuff’ and stepped forwards to hug her.

“Hey, hey, come on Flutters, you’ll do fine without me,” Rainbow told her comfortingly.

“No I won’t!” Fluttershy replied, tears running down her face as she leaned into Rainbow Dash’s neck. “Without you the bullies will get worse!”

A sigh worked its way through Rainbow’s body. “I know... but I think I have a plan for that,” she said.

“You... you do?” Fluttershy asked her.

“Yeah... I do,” Rainbow replied with a small grin. “Fluttershy, a friend I met at summer camp is moving to Cloudsdale soon and I sent her a letter yesterday... she’ll keep you safe.”

“She will?” Fluttershy asked with confusion, her tears beginning to dry a little.

“Yeah, though to be honest I’m not sure if you’ll like her all that much,” Dash replied, stepping out of Fluttershy’s embrace and rubbing the back of her neck. “Her name’s Gilda and she’s a griffin.”

“A-a griffin?” Fluttershy asked, her eyes growing wide. “You mean the ones that our teacher said used to ea-eat ponies?”

“Um... yeah... them,” Rainbow Dash said awkwardly. “But they don’t do that anymore!” she added quickly. “‘Sides, Gilda’s cool. You’ll see.”

“I-I don’t know Rainbow...” Fluttershy said worriedly. “What if she’s mean to me?”

“Then I’ll fly here and kick her furry flank!” Rainbow replied boisterously. Fluttershy couldn’t help but smile at that.

“I... I guess if she’s your friend then she can’t be bad, right?” the yellow pegasus asked.

“Exactly,” Rainbow Dash answered with a wide grin. “She’s really cool and once you get to know her, I bet you’ll be really good friends.”

“I... I hope so,” Fluttershy said nervously, looking back down at the clouds beneath them. “So... you really have to leave.”

“Yeah,” Dash replied, shaking her head. “Wish I didn’t.”

“Me too,” Fluttershy said softly before a small smile appeared on her downcast face. “Dash... will you write to me?”

“Of course!” Rainbow replied, smiling back. “We’ll be pen pals alright? That way it’ll be like I’m here with you all the time!”

“I... you’re right,” Fluttershy agreed with a nod of her head. “And Dash... one last thing.”

“Yes?” Dash asked.

“Will you spend the rest of today until you have to leave with me?” Fluttershy asked.

"Of course!” Dash exclaimed. “What do you want to do Flutters?”

“Well... I don’t know... I just want to spend some time with you I guess,” Fluttershy replied with a frown.

“Cool, want to get some ice cream?” Rainbow asked her, grinning slightly. “Our last time at the Cloudsdale Creamery.”

“That... that sounds wonderful,” Fluttershy said with a smile before the pair began to walk off towards their frozen delight.

Celestia smiled as she walked towards the nursery and heard a newly familiar voice speaking.

“Where is my sister?” it asked. It was a male voice and while very obviously that of a child it was surprisingly mature.

“She was in a meeting,” another voice replied, this one feminine. “I’m sure she’ll be here very soon though.”

“I hope so, there are still so many things I want to talk with her about,” the male voice said, sounding rather discouraged.

“Well little one, you could always ask me,” the feminine voice replied helpfully.

“I would... but you don’t know as much as she does,” the male replied as Celestia opened the door and found her little brother sitting on a cushion in front of a smiling white unicorn.

The small dragon gave the mare an apologetic smile. “No offense Mrs. Snowheart.”

The two-day old dragon was covered in purple scales and his crest of horns was the same green as his father. It was still a bit of a shock to Celestia that young Spike had such a strong grasp on language. She’d known that dragons learned them through the egg... yet she hadn’t expected it to be that well developed.

Apparently he’d heard almost every word she’d ever said to the egg, including when she’d been speaking Prench to herself as she rehearsed a speech she’d be giving the Prench ambassador.

That being said, while he’d absorbed a great deal of information and knowledge from Celestia there were still giant holes in what he did and didn’t know.

“Oh none taken, Spike,” Snowheart replied with a small chuckle. “I couldn’t hope to ever know as much as Queen Celestia.”

“Only because I have so many more years than you,” Celestia said pleasantly as she walked closer to Spike and gave the little dragon a nuzzle which he leaned into. “You’re free to go Snowheart, I’ll call you when you should return.”

“Thank you, my Queen,” Snowheart replied before she gave them both a bow and retreated from the room.

“So, how has your day been so far?” Celestia asked the little dragon as she sat down beside the cushion.

“It was okay I guess,” Spike replied, looking down. “I’m bored though... there’s nothing to do in this room and you say that I’m not allowed outside of it for another three weeks.”

“Well, you know why that is,” Celestia said.

“Because I don’t know how-how-how-to-” he was cut off as a great burst of emerald green flames sneezed forth from between his lips and flared into the floor. Thankfully the floor didn’t seem to mind a great deal and the flames died a moment later. “To control my flames,” the hatchling finished lamely.

“That is the problem unfortunately,” Celestia agreed, nodding her head. “Anyways, what was it you wanted to talk with me about?”

His young face brightened. “I wanted to know more about that filly who made me all big and stuff! She was trying really hard and pumping a lot of magic into me but nothing worked for her and then there was that explosion and I got really big and it was scary and then you did something and I shrank and fell unconscious.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow slightly at his stream of consciousness but smiled. “That filly was Twilight Sparkle, Spike. She’s going to be my new personal student.”

“She is?” Spike asked.

“She is,” Celestia confirmed.

“So I’ll get to see her again, right?” the dragon asked insistently.

“Yes I’m sure you will,” Celestia answered confidently. “In fact I’d planned on re-introducing you two the day after tomorrow once I had a lesson plan set up.”

“Yay!” Spike cheered. “I’ve been wanting to really meet her since it happened!”

“Why if you don’t mind me asking?” Celestia asked him with a frown.

“Because, she seemed nice,” Spike answered with a grin. “I can’t wait to be her friend.”

"Well, that’s good to hear,” Celestia replied, smiling down at him and giving the dragon another nuzzle. “So, was there anything else you wanted to talk with me about little brother?”

“Yes... am I a Prince?” he asked slowly.

Celestia smiled, she’d been anticipating that question for a while now.

“Technically yes, yes you are,” she answered. “You are officially Prince Spike Firetooth. Your title doesn’t have much power behind it at the moment because you’ve neither proved yourself nor come of age yet but it’s still a title.”

“I see...” Spike trailed off and then smiled. “Cool!”

“Yes, yes it is, Celestia agreed with a chuckle at his enthusiasm. “Just remember not to let it go to your head alright?”

“Right,” he agreed before frowning as his stomach growled loudly.

“Hmm, sounds like somedrake is hungry, hmm?” Celestia asked him with a smile.

Spike nodded his head. “Yeah... guess I am.”

“I’ll go get you some lunch then,” Celestia replied with a smile before she got up. “Be back in a few minutes, little brother.”

“Bye,” Spike replied.

Celestia smiled as she left the room... it was so very nice to have a family again... she did hope that Cadence and Spike would get along well. She also hopped that Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash would get along well together as well... otherwise she didn’t think the Castle would last a year.

Wandering Moon Chapter 46: Parting Words

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Luna gazed at the woman who was hugging her side tightly in a death grip as she tossed and turned in the bed. Her troubled slumber had kept Luna from fully falling asleep and despite her and Nim’s best efforts a darkness had overtaken Sarah’s dreams that even they could not penetrate.

Perhaps it was simply her current drained state that prevented Luna from interfering with Sarah’s sleep or it could have simply been that the nightmares were too strong for her within this Wasteland. Luna didn’t know which nor did she particularly care, all she cared about was that she was unable to comfort Sarah. Worse yet, with her father’s death looming on the horizon Luna had no doubts that the dreams would grow darker before they got better.

What is she seeing Nim? Luna asked.

As we told you before, we do not know, it is mostly formless black, Nim replied in an extremely irritated tone. If you ask us this foolish question one more time then we shall simply ignore you.

Luna let out a long sigh and slumped her head down beside Sarah’s. Her entire body ached as if it had been given a beating by an angry dragon and then thoroughly flogged, the later of which she’d actually experienced once before.

It is not as bad as all that, Nim stated within her head. You are not covered in blood and there are no shards of glass embedded in your back.

Luna winced at the memory of the Council ponies standing over her, laughing as the whip slashed at the flesh on her back. Even now the memory haunted her slumber occasionally. She shot Nim an annoyed expression.

Why would you bring that up? she asked indignantly.

Because you are making entirely too much of a fuss about almost dying, Nim stated. This is hardly the first time and I doubt it will be the last.

Luna’s breath coursed through her chest and she had to restrain herself from letting out a growl escape her lips. Beside her, Sarah squirmed and her hands squeezed bunches of Luna’s fur together.

See that? Nim demanded. She is suffering and if our guesses of her father’s eventual fate then she will be suffering far worse soon. You must be her rock Luna. Her thing to which she clings despite all odds against the sea of sorrow and grief.

Luna frowned for a long moment before sighing. You’re right Nim... and when did you become so poetic? she inquired.

There was little else to do at nights when you were asleep then go through the extensive amount of poetry you’ve read, Nim replied. That and plot vengeance... which will all go to waste now it seems.

I suppose, Luna said with a small shrug as she brought a wing down over Sarah. Though I’m sure we will find something to do with them. Our plans may have been directed at Tia, but I’m certain we could realign them at anyone we so choose.

That is a good point, Nim conceded. Also, as soon as we are able we must learn how to properly use those ‘plasma rifles’ we picked up! The idea of firing scorching hot projectiles is very appealing to us!

Luna smiled and then smirked. Becareful Nim, Sarah is still asleep but I feel she would notice if you got too ‘excited’.

Ha. Ha. Ha. Your grasp of humor astounds me, Nim said flatly. At any rate, we still must have instruction of some form.

Luna snorted but agreed. True, she stated. She would have continued speaking but Sarah’s eyes snapped open, a look of terror within them. Beads of sweat ran down her face and there was a pain filled look upon her face.

She panted for a moment and then noticed Luna’s bulk beside her. Without a word the woman lunged forwards and wrapped her arms around Luna’s neck and pressed her face into the mare’s coat. No tears fell, the woman simply gripped her as her body shuddered. Luna felt her lungs beginning to strain to draw breath, but she ignored them, refusing to push Sarah away.

At last the woman released her and Luna subtly drew in a breath while looking down at her lover.

“I would ask if you were alright...” Luna said.

“I’m not,” Sarah stated flatly. “I... had a nightmare.”

Tell us of it, Nim said insistently. If any can help you through it, then it is us.

Sarah shivered once and then slowly nodded her head and moved closer to Luna again, careful to keep her voice down, not wanting to disturb any of the other occupants of the long room.

“We were back in the Rotunda... and you weren’t there...” Sarah said slowly, her breath unsteady. “And my dad was in the glass with that man... and I was banging on the glass... unable to do anything... and then he shot him over and over again... and my dad would keep getting back up and trying to fight back... but he kept getting shot. And then... and then when he was so full of holes that he could barely move he turned to look at me and... somehow I heard him through the glass... he called me a failure... he told me he hated me... told me I’d cost him everything... And then the other man shot him...” Sarah recounted. “And then... it began again.”

Luna sighed and wrapped her wings around the young woman, covering her in her warm embrace. “Sarah, your father would never tell you that, not if he is the man he seems to be,” she told her. “Your mind is playing tricks on you, twisting your worst fears against you, it is the way of a dreaming brain.”

“I... I know... but it was so real,” Sarah murmured before hiding her face in Luna’s chest once more.

“I know, I know,” Luna said comfortingly, a humming sound emerging from her throat similar to what her father had used to comfort her when in a similar position. “Be well my love, dawn’s rays are on the horizon and they will drive away the darkness.”

Sarah clutched at her for a while longer before she released Luna and looked up at her. “Thank you Luna... just thank you.”

Luna smiled and bent down to kiss the woman’s forehead. “You are most welcome Sarah. Now come, let us see if we can’t see your father; hmm?”

“Yeah... let’s.”

As it turned out, it was only late afternoon when they emerged from the room they’d been assigned. Time must have played tricks on Luna for she swore that it had been much later when they’d arrived, but that could have simply been because her state of mind after the efforts she’d given yesterday. It also explained why Sarah’s eyes looked so baggy, she couldn’t have gotten more than four hours of bad sleep.

Together, with the help of a passing initiate, who had taken time to gawk at Luna before responding to Sarah’s questions, the two located the infirmary.

It was very small in Luna’s opinion, barely enough room to fit three raised medical beds and several sets of surgery equipment. Lying on one bed, his head propped up by a pillow, his chest covered by a white sheet was James.

The man’s face was the color of death and his breathing was unsteady and wavering yet the light in his eyes was still very much alive as he turned in Sarah’s direction at the sound of her approach and smiled.

“Sarah,” he said.

“H-hi dad,” Sarah said uncertainly as she walked forwards and sat down in the seat beside her father’s head.

For a moment neither said anything and Sarah reached out to grasp his hand firmly in her own. He gripped her back weakly and the fledging of a smile spread across Sarah’s face as old memories washed over her. They stayed like that for a long moment until James broke the silence.

“Sarah... look at me,” James instructed softly. Sarah turned her eyes away from their clasped hands and up at the father she loved. “I know that we didn’t have much time to talk before now... but I want you to know that now you can ask me anything and I’ll answer it as well as I possibly can,” he told her, his voice dropping. “I’ve spent too long lying to you.”

Sarah bit her bottom lip. “I... I don’t know what to say,” she said uncertainly. “What... what could I ask you that’s more important than just... being here for you?”

James’s smile strengthened for a moment and Sarah dimly thought about how it lit up his face.

“That’s just like you Sarah,” he told her. “You’ve always been such a good girl, or woman in this case I suppose,” the man leaned to the side and coughed into his blanket, staining it red. “Your mother would be so very proud of you.”

“I...” Sarah had no words, she had no questions... she just wanted her father to live.

James reached up with his free hand and brushed her dark hair out of her eyes before his arm fell back to the bed with a leaden ‘thump’. “Oh your mother... what a woman,” he said softly and Sarah wasn’t quite sure if he was talking to her or himself. “She just had this... way about her. Whatever she wanted done she got it done by herself and to Hell with the consequences!”

The exclamation brought a fire to his eyes but it was extinguished as another wave of coughing overtook him and his entire body contorted as his chest heaved. Sarah could do nothing for him but continue to clutch his hand as tightly as she could as his fingers clenched around hers. When the fit was finally done he lay back and gave Sarah an apologetic look.

“Sorry dear... I brought that on myself,” he said through ragged breaths. Sarah’s bottom lip quivered again and she wanted to lean down and hug the man but didn’t know if his body could take it. Instead she just clutched his hand.

“Do-don’t apologize daddy,” Sarah replied, her voice breaking.

James looked up at her and let out a sigh. “I don’t know how much longer I have Sarah... so I want you to know something right now,” he said, his voice weaker than it had been when he started speaking. “No matter what anyone says... no matter if Project Purity is a success or not... no matter... what happens; you will always be my greatest addition to this world!” he told her, a quiet intensity filling his voice that surprised Sarah with its raw emotion.

The woman stared at him, her eyes brimming with tears as she looked down at the man who had influenced so much of her life.

“You... are my daughter Sarah... I love you so much more than you could ever know,” he continued, his breath beginning to catch in his throat as he spoke, the words becoming harder and harder to say. Sarah wanted to reach down and put her finger over his mouth, stop him from using his energy that way, but she was unable to. “You’ll go on to eclipse this old man and everything he’s done... you’ll be a better person than I ever managed... do more than I’ll ever dream of!” He broke into another fit of coughing, each one a stab into Sarah’s heart.

“I... I’ll try daddy,” Sarah said, on the edge of breaking down.

“I... I know you will,” James replied before tilting his head to look at Luna. “And you... Luna... keep her safe will you? I don’t want to see her for at least sixty years.”

Luna, who had been staying at a respectful distance away simply nodded. “I will,” she promised.

“Good...” James said, his gaze going back to Sarah. “You know... I don’t really know if your mother would approve of your choice of a girlfriend,” he informed her before chuckling weakly. “But I know that she’d want you to be happy above all else...” he closed his eyes and a mighty shiver wracked his body. “At any rate... I love you Sarah.”

“I... I love you too daddy,” Sarah stated, tightening her grip around his fingers even more... she was losing him, she could feel him slipping away like sand between her fingertips. “Is... is there anything else?”

“Just... that you should always remember your mother’s favorite verse,” James said, a bittersweet smile on his face. “It... will help you when you need it most... say it with me?”

Sarah nodded and together they spoke.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. Revelation 21:6,” they said together, the father speaking in time with the daughter.

James smiled and leaned back in the pillow. “What a fool I’ve been... all those years striving for the Project... and it seems that I’m at my own end before it even begins.” He closed his eyes before four last words left his lips. “Sarah... I love you.”

The man’s hand went slack in her grip and Sarah watched her father’s face as the peace of death overtook it. A moment later her eyes were too blinded by tears to see anything but the comforting feathers of Luna’s wings as they closed around her.

Wandering Moon Chapter 47: Fairy Tale

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Sarah sat morosely on the edge of the building overlooking the Wasteland spread out before her, her legs gently striking against the concrete walls of the Citadel. Every so often one of the Brotherhood Paladins on patrol would walk by and mentally look over her, making sure that the woman hadn’t moved any closer to the edge. She hadn’t.

Nim was stuck within Sarah’s head unable to speak to the woman who had somehow managed to block her out entirely. Were it not for the amount of frustration this caused her, Nim would have been impressed. As it was however, the woman’s efforts to suffer alone infuriated her.

The woman let out another sigh and turned her gaze towards the sky above. Night was falling and the sun was starting on its way down the horizon, she could vaguely make out the sight of stars up there in the sky between the hazy dying rays of the sun.

He’s gone.

The thought had been reverberating around her skull for quite some time. In fact, it was just about the only thing that was rolling through her head. Sarah had spent the first hour or so after her father’s death crying into Luna’s chest or alternatively in Doctor Li’s arms, the good doctor had also been crying and Sarah had sought out some form of shared pain with her. Unfortunatly... after that hour the woman had felt the sudden need to be alone, completely alone.

Luna... had understood this, surprisingly enough, and given the woman her space. Down below Sarah could distantly hear her lover’s shouts of either frustration of joy as she worked out how to utilize her new weapons. Unfortunately, even that couldn’t bring more then the ghost of a smile to Sarah’s face as she desperately attempted to come to terms with what she’d lost.

Sarah was not the type to throw over dramatic fits, nor was she the type to spend hours philosophizing her loss into little pieces and then throwing them away. No... Sarah was not doing that. The woman let out a sigh, not sure what to do. She... had never lost someone like this.

Idly the thought of ‘revenge’ crossed her mind but she threw it aside. Revenge was stupid, it meant throwing your grief to the side and simply chasing after those who had hurt you instead of focusing on your loss. Grognak had taught her that.

That thought brought a smile to her face. Grognak had been a surprisingly deep comic and taught her a wide variety of lessons. For example, when an angry alicorn slashes her way through a doorway don’t punch (or in this case shoot) her in the face no matter how tempting it may be.

Thinking on it further, Sarah supposed that was going to be one of the things she missed most about her father. He’d always been so very wise, answering her questions about the world honestly and skillfully guiding Sarah through the world. It had been even better when she’d been younger and the two would spend hours reading comics or fantasy books together.

They’d been her bedtime stories, her ‘fairy tales’ if you will, and now that she really thought about it... she’d always been happiest when there had been someone there to spin a tale of far off places in her ears.

Nim, Sarah said within her mind, lowering her barriers.

-D IF YOU DO NOT THEN WE WILL TAKE YOUR BRAIN AND A BEAR AND- Yes Sarah? Nim’s long stream of mental shouting, which Sarah had been dimly aware of, cut off unexpectedly.

Could you ask Luna to come up here with me? Sarah asked her.

Of course, Nim said, relieved that the woman had come out of her isolation.

Thanks, Sarah replied. She’d barely managed that before Luna’s forelegs wrapped around her sides and she felt the mare’s soft furred neck rub against her own.

“Hi Luna,” Sarah said in a small voice.

“Hello Sarah,” Luna said, releasing the woman and lying down behind her so that Sarah could lean back against her which the woman promptly did. “Why did you ask for me?” she inquired, moving her head so that she could look down at Sarah’s face.

“I was wondering if you could tell me a story,” Sarah replied.

“A story?” Luna inquired with a frown. “Do you mean my story or some other one?”

“I... want it to be a fairy tale or something if you know any,” Sarah replied with a sigh. “My... dad always told me them when I had a nightmare to help me get to sleep and... and I think it might help me now.”

Luna was silent for a moment before she said. “A fairy tale you say? I believe I know one of them,” she stated, a small smile on her face. “I shall tell you the same tale that my father told me when I was nestled against his great scales. The tale of the Wolves of Spice and Iron”

Sarah smiled slightly, liking the sound of the tale already. Luna took a moment to organize her thoughts before she began to speak.

Long ago there were two magic wolf siblings. Siff was the brother of the pair, his long grey fur would have been the talk of the forest if there had been any with whom he could speak other than his sister, Holo. Holo, the self titled Wise Wolf was said to be the smarter of the pair who had both lived for millenniums within the deep forest.

They often fought, like any siblings are like to do, and whether it was with words or with fangs their battles could reshape the forest around them. However, like all good siblings their fighting never lasted long and when it was done they would lick each others wounds or heal the other’s pride.

It continued like that for many years, an untold thousand if one must be truly honest and for that long they were content. They hunted as a pair, Holo’s brains and Siff’s brawn allowing them to take down even the great Uras of the forest and it is believed that part of the reason why so few still live in Equestria these days is because these wolves hunted them to near extinction.

Of course, like all things, their time together came to an end. On the eve of a blood moon when the sky was dark as the blackest obsidian ‘cept for the great swollen eye of the moon, a great storm swept through the forest. Trees were thrown this way and that, enormous boulders were sent skywards and it seemed like the Grey One herself was determined to see the forest destroyed.

To this very day we do not know what particular event it was that caused the siblings to become separated within the storm but we do know that by the end of it the siblings were cast adrift from each other and not even Holo’s wisdom or Siff’s great nose could find the other.

When they awoke the morning after the storm they searched for their missing siblings for days on end, finding no traces of the other. So great was their grief that at the end of the final day that they reared their heads back and let out a deafening howl strong enough to pierce the heavens with their grief. It was not until they finished their howls that they discovered that they had both been watched.

Siff turned his great grey head to stare at the armor clad mare who was staring at him, tears running down her face. She had been on her way to kill him, the nearby village having grown fearful when they sighted the great grey wolf on their borders yet now that she had heard his cries of grief the Knight Artoria found she could not lift a blade against him.

“Who are you?” Siff asked his gruff voice filled with a note of puzzlement. He had of course heard of ponies, even isolated within the Wolf’s Wood word of them had reached he and his sister. “And why are you armoured so for battle?”

“I am Sir Artoria of New Noreng,” the mare said, bowing her head low. “And I am armoured for battle so that I may slay you.”

Siff’s golden green eyes narrowed as he looked at her and his lips pulled back to reveal canines the size of greatswords. “I hardly think that you alone are capable of such a thing,” he replied, not yet snarling. “And I also fail to see how a female can be a ‘sir’ in the manner which you speak.”

“You would be surprised on both counts Great Wolf,” Artoria replied as she raised her head to stare into his great golden eyes. “Yet upon finding myself here, I cannot help but wonder what has brought a great beast like you so low with grief.”

Siff bowed his head, his grief and pain returning to the forefront of his mind. Despite himself, he found himself weeping openly in front of the knight, bowing his massive head to the ground between his paws. To both of their surprise, Artoria stepped forwards and comforted him, running a hoof through his silken grey coat and offering him meaningless noises of peace.

When at last the storm of emotion had passed Siff raised his head to look at Artoria and smiled.

“I believe I now know why you have been given the title of Sir,” he told her before licking her with his great pink tongue. He then flinched as the taste of her steel plate armour irritated his tastebuds.

Artoria took one look at the massive wolf who was even now attempting to scrape the taste of her steel off of his tongue with his paws and began to laugh.

On the other side of the forest, a similar yet strikingly different scene was playing out.

Holo broke off the howl and let out a bone deep sigh.

“Oh brother, where art thou?” she asked the empty air. Being the wise wolf that she was, Holo had already changed her form into that of a pony with a long wolfish tail and a pair of wolf like ears. It was one of several abilities that came naturally to a creatures as magical as the Great Wolves and Holo had practiced it for a long time in case it was ever needed of her. So it was far from strange for her to be approached by the stallion.

“Miss, are you alright?” he asked her, unheading of the wolf tail. It was an age where that type of thing happened on occasion.

Holo turned to look at the stallion, finding him to be a tan furred equine with a silvery mane. He wore a trader’s jacket and a pair of caravanners’ saddlebags upon his back. It was then that she realized just how close she was to the dirt road where the trader had left his cart.

“I... I am fine,” Holo replied, shaking her head.

“You didn’t sound it,” the stallion replied with a raised eyebrow.

“I am Holo, the Wise Wolf, I know when I am fine,” she said haughtily. “And I am very much fine.”

At this response, the stallion raised an eyebrow slightly. “If you say so Miss ‘Wise Wolf’.”

“You doubt my words?” Holo questioned, glaring at him with her red eyes.

“I’m a trader Ma’am, I doubt everyone’s words,” the stallion said with a small chuckle. “Now then, if you’d prefer you could come along with me to the next town or you can stay out here in the middle of the woods.”

He turned and began to walk back towards the wagon. Holo frowned at his retreating backside and bit her bottom lip. She gazed back at the forest that had been her home for millennium, or at least what was left of it, before making up her mind and following the stallion over to the wagon.

“You are most kind to offer me a place with you,” Holo said as she leapt up onto the wagon’s bench.

“I couldn’t just leave you out there,” the stallion said easily, the words coming naturally to him. “Besides, having you here means that I don’t have to spend the entire time pulling this old cart.”

“You expect me to pull your cart like a beast of burden?” Holo asked, incredulous at the idea.

“Well I do it,” the stallion replied. “And if you want to travel with me then so you will Miss Wise Wolf.”

Holo frowned for a moment and then rolled her eyes. “Very well, and my name is Holo. Wise Wolf is a title.”

“And I’m Craft, Craft the Trader,” The stallion said before he began to pull the cart.

The two pairs spent many years traveling together. Holo and Craft proved to be experts in the art of trading and their combined wit enabled them to accumulate vast amounts of wealth. Siff and Artoria traveled the world slaying monsters, demons, and even dragons. It is said that they even managed to close the gates of Tartarus when they were rudely thrown open though that is a tale for another time.

Now after their years together all four felt deep feelings for their companions and despite the difficulties involved on all sides, fell in love.

Their marriages and bouts of lovemaking were the stuff of legends though I fear that I am unable to speak much of them, mortal ears are not ready for it. It was several years after the marriages that both Holo and the Knight Artoria became pregnant and though the labors were rough, the products were worth it. Two litters of foals graced them and it is from these foals that all lycanthropic ponies are descended.

However as with the siblings’ time in the forest, the time with their loves had to come to an end. Upon the same day their mortal lovers lives came to an end, leaving the great wolves with only their well grown children to care for.

It was on the day of the funerals that the that the two wolves finally met. Equally overjoyed and tearful the pair embraced and began to speak of their lives, falling together and recounting the long years of separation. When they were finally done with words the two found themselves at a loss. What could they do? Their children were already well in control of their own lives and the time that they could appear as mortals was nearing its end.

Holo was the one who made the fateful decision.

“We shall protect them,” she said, looking at her brother.

“From what?” he asked before shaking his head. “Holo, the world is too wide and the dangers too great for the two of us to protect them all.”

Holo smiled. “Indeed that is what you would think Siff, but I am Holo, the Wise Wolf and I know much more than you ever could.”

“Is that right?” Siff replied, raising an eyebrow.

“Indeed,” Holo said. “We shall not protect ‘all of them’.”

“But you said-”

“You simply did not listen,” Holo said with a wolfish grin. “All those who travel will be under our protection brother.”

“That is still a rather large number,” Siff replied.

“True,” Holo relented. “However we are two Great Wolves, surely we can do something as paltry as this.”

Siff huffed and hawed for a moment before shrugging. “Very well sister, oh ‘Wise Wolf’ that you are. I shall agree with this. I know that Artoria would approve.”

“As would my Craft,” Holo agreed.

And so it was that they set out to free the roads of danger. Should you be a traveling merchant lost in the woods at night and surrounded by darkness on all sides, know not to fear the howl of the wolf.

Luna finished her tale and looked down at the sleeping form of Sarah and smiled. “That did it,” she said.

We never did like that ending... if a traveler hears a wolf’s howl on the road it is most likely because the wolves have come to disembowel them, Nim said dryly.

You just have no sense of wonder, Luna stated archly as she carefully lifted Sarah onto her back and began to walk back towards their room, the woman sleeping soundly across her back.

Wandering Moon Chapter 48: A New Mission

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It was not until the next day at around noon that Sarah roused herself from her slumber, her mind and body feeling much refreshed. Sleeping beside her was Luna and the woman took a moment to pull herself closer to the alicorn and press her face into her soft fur which had begun to regain a bit of its youthful appearance.

Unbidden thoughts of her father rushed to the forefront of her mind but Sarah pushed them down. She’d spent an entire day moping, that was more than the average Wastelander got by several hours. The woman bit her lower lip and closed her eyes again, focusing on Luna’s warm softness to block out the waves of emotion.

We could help with that, Nim spoke quietly within her head. Blocking off the emotions for a time that is. Though that does raise the problem of when the ‘dam’ breaks.

Sarah thought about for a moment and then shook her head. No... I’d rather face them now then out in the Wasteland where God knows what could be happening.

A smart decision, Nim stated happily. We seem to be rubbing off on you.

Oh? Sarah inquired.

Indeed, when we first met you, you wouldn’t have been smart enough to do that, Nim teased jokingly.

Sarah rolled her eyes and then looked up to see that Luna was still asleep, seemingly still exhausted from the day before. The woman leaned up to give her a soft kiss on the cheek before she carefully extradited herself from her lover’s embrace. She then quickly pulled on one of her recently cleaned jumpsuits and walked out the now empty dormitory.

Standing there in the hallway, Sarah noticed that she had absolutely no idea what to do. In fact, she probably would have stayed there for an hour if not for her stomach’s noisy complaint. After asking a passing child for instructions, Sarah made her way to the cafeteria where she found several Brotherhood soldiers eating what appeared to be lunch together. Sarah paused there for a moment, unsure of what to do.

She’d never been ‘nervous’ around or afraid of new people before but looking at all those soldiers in their power armour apparently eating and enjoying themselves together suddenly made her feel very very out of place.

Screw that, go get some food and force them to speak with you, Nim stated within her head. Honestly, you are not some strange creature, I doubt they will even notice.

Sarah did as directed and walked over to grab a plate and then make her way through a small ‘buffet’ style line that consisted of several different kinds of meat and several surprisingly fresh vegetables. When did you start saying ‘screw that’ Nim? she asked.

Your mind is full of profanity, I believe that as my intelligence rubs off on you, your profane tongue is rubbing off on me, Nim replied. And not nearly in the way Luna likes.

Sarah felt a hot blush creep across her face, but did her best to banish it as she turned back to look for a spot to eat. She found herself looking at the curious, and not at all hostile, faces of the Brotherhood Paladins. The woman swallowed down here fear as she spotted Sarah Lyons sitting at a far table by herself.

Glad to see a familiar face Sarah hurried over and sat down across from her. Lyons glanced up from her meal and smiled.

“Huh, look who’s finally up and kicking,” the blond woman said with a grin. “I was getting worried about you, sleeping the entire day away in there.”

Sarah flushed and nodded. “Yeah... sorry about that. I guess... it all just wore me out,” she said before looking down at her plate and cutting herself a small slice of what she assumed was brahmin meat.

“I understand,” Lyons replied, her powerful voice surprisingly soft. “No one here is going to judge you harshly because you were wracked with grief about your father.”

“I... thanks,” Sarah said, looking up at the other woman with a smile before she stuck the meat in her mouth and began to chew.

“You’re welcome,” Lyons replied as a curious grin spread across her face. “So... you and Luna are sleeping together now?”

Sarah stopped in mid-chew, then finished and swallowed before answering. “Yes...”

“How’d that happen?” Lyons inquired. “I mean, feel free to keep me in the dark, I’m just curious.”

“It... just kind of happened,” Sarah replied slowly. “We were just spending so much time together, fighting, eating, sleeping... and then something happened and...” the woman trailed off, blushing hotly. “I guess we just kind of fell in love by accident?”

Sarah suddenly came to realize just how stupid that sounded and winced internally.

Sarah looked up to see Lyons smiling at her. “Well, I’m glad you found someone out there in the Wastes to love you, that’s rare out there,” she said before adding. “Though kind of a weird choice, no offense.”

We are not weird, Nim stated within the woman’s head though Sarah ignored her.

“None taken,” Sarah said with a self deprecating chuckle. “To be completely honest, that’s the meanest thing anyone has said about it... which is surprising.”

Lyons shrugged. “I guess out here in the Wasteland people have more important things to worry about then who’s sleeping with who,” she said before shaking her head. “So... do you have any idea what you’re going to do next?”

“I... honestly no,” Sarah replied, shaking her head. “I mean... I still need to talk to Harkness about something... but other than that I have no real plans for the future other then ‘stay alive’.”

Well firstly we must take care of your damaged psyche and help you get over what happened, Nim stated helpfully within her mind. And then we simply must find a way to get you a suit of that wondrous power armour that they’re wearing and...

Sarah ignored her though made a mental note to remember the thing about power armour.

“Hmm,” Lyons murmured before she took a bite of her meal and frowned. “Well, I’d imagine you’d want to help finish your dad’s work right?”

The woman frowned for a moment and nodded. “Yeah, I guess I do now that I think about it... I wouldn’t want all his effort to go to waste,” she agreed.

“Well alright then, sounds like we have a starting point,” Lyons said with a smile. “I’m sure my father can help you out with that. We can go see him after you’re done eating if you’re up to it.”

Sarah smiled. “Thanks Sarah... I’m still kind of... lost.”

“You’re welcome Sarah,” Lyons replied with a small chuckle. “I still owe you for saving the Prides’ ass from that behemoth. Speaking of which, I never really did get to tell you thanks for that.”

“You don’t really have too,” Sarah said with a short shake of her head. “I did what anyone would have.”

Lyons raised an eyebrow at her. “Sarah, you charged a behemoth wearing a suit of Talon Company armour and killed the son of a bitch. Trust me, you did more than ‘anyone’ would have. Hell, most wasters would have just run screaming into the ruins,” the woman told her firmly.

“I guess,” Sarah replied before sighing and leaning her head against her elbow. “Sorry... my dad’s talk kind of... killed my personal enthusiasm. I couldn’t do anything to stop it and I had to just... sit there.”

“It’s fine,” Lyons replied, a kind smile flashing across her face. “If it makes you feel any better there’s no way in hell the little girl I met four weeks ago could have said that without breaking into tears.”

Sarah looked up at her with surprise. “Hmm?”

“I’m saying that while you’ve been out here in the Wasteland you’ve matured, Sarah,” Lyons stated with a chuckle.

“Thanks, Sarah... and it’s been four weeks?” Sarah asked with a frown. “Time has been... a bit of a blur to me.”

The number surprises us as well, we had thought it was longer... Nim agreed thoughtfully.

Lyons let out another chuckle and reached over to pat Sarah on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. I only know because the Brotherhood keeps track of the date better than most people do,” she told the other woman.

“Right,” Sarah agreed before beginning to eat again. The two women passed the rest of lunch together, eating and talking about nothing in particular.

“I’m sure you are sick to death of hearing this, but I must express how deeply sorry I am for the passing of your father,” the elder Lyons said as he sat across from Sarah in his private corridors.

“I... thanks,” Sarah said. “So anyways, I just wanted to talk to you about what I can do to continue my father’s work.”

“Ah, I had thought that would be your goal,” Lyons stated with a smile. “I’d imagine that as his daughter you’d be just as invested in what James was doing as he was.”

“... not exactly,” Sarah said with a blush. “He didn’t actually tell me anything about what he was doing until a few days ago.”

“Ah... I see,” Lyons said and a moment of awkwardness passed between the pair. “Well at any rate I’d be happy to have your help with this endeavor.”

“Thanks,” Sarah replied. “So... do you know what we need to finish the Project?”

“Yes, we do,” Lyons said with a smile. “You see, while you were otherwise occupied the day before, Madison threw herself into research which is not surprising knowing her. What she uncovered is that we’re looking a device called a G.E.C.K. or Garden of Eden Creation Kit.”

“Okay...” Sarah said, not really following but determined not to feel stupid in front of the old man.

Best of luck with that, Nim said within her head, though her voice was obviously joking. For once I am just as baffled as you are.

“You have no idea what that is, do you?” Lyons asked with a kind smile.

“Not in the faintest,” Sarah replied, her cheeks flushing a little. On the bright side, the old man wasn’t talking down to her like Jonas used to do sometimes, that had always annoyed Sarah... even if he’d always been right.

“Well to put it simply, the G.E.C.K. is the last thing we need to make your father’s Water Purifier work as intended,” Lyons explained. “It’s a machine that was created with the intent to ‘rebuild the world’ after the bombs fell.”

“Okay, that makes sense,” Sarah replied. “Garden of Eden and all.”

“Exactly,” Lyons said, his wrinkled face lifting up into a smile that Sarah found incredibly likable.

Now we have something to strive for, excellent, Nim stated within the woman’s head.

Sarah silently agreed as she said. “So, where is this ‘G.E.C.K.’ being stored?”

“According to Madison, it’s being kept in Vault 87 which is... troublesome,” the elder Lyons said with a sigh. “You see, we know where it is, but the route from the surface has been blocked off by what is frankly an insane amount of radiation.”

Sarah’s spirits dimmed but her resolve hardened.

“I won’t let that stop me,” she stated flatly.

“I didn’t suspect you would,” Lyons said with a nod. “We have word of a series of tunnels in the area which could potentially allow you to access Vault 87.”

Sarah nodded and smiled, she could do this, she could definitely do this.

“Sounds good to me,” Sarah said as she offered him her Pip-Boy to insert the coordinates. The elder did so quickly and smiled.

“I’ve always loved Pip-Boys, particularly the 3000 model, they’re so very useful,” he said as his surprisingly nimble fingers played across the Pip-Boy’s buttons and then he released Sarah’s wrist and nodded. “There we are, you now have the coordinates.”

“Great,” Sarah replied and then frowned. “Wait... are Luna and I going to be the only ones going?”

A pained look crossed the elder Lyons’s face. “I’m afraid so my dear. The Brotherhood simply can’t spare the personnel for this, as regrettable as that is,” he told her, shaking his head. “If we did then it would be one less patrol in the fight against the mutants and we barely have enough of those as it is.”

Fair enough, he may have an army but we doubt their numbers are boundless, Nim stated in agreement.

“Alright,” Sarah said with a small nod. “Do you have any idea what I’m going to be facing once I get to Vault 87?”

“Most likely super mutants,” the old man replied. “We know that their numbers are heavy there and I doubt that the radiation has deterred them from entering the Vault.”

“Great... mutants,” Sarah said with a small groan. “Why can’t it be raiders?”

Lyons let out a chuckle. “You know, I have heard those exact words uttered by my Paladins on more than one occasion,” he told her. “And I must say, I quite agree.”

Sarah smiled, she liked this old man. “Yeah... so do you think I could learn how to use Power Armour while I’m here?” she asked him. “After all, I might need it if Vault 87 is as dangerous as it sounds.”

Excellent suggestion! Nim exclaimed within her head.

Lyons frowned for a moment and stroked his luscious beard for a moment before nodding. “Yes, I believe that can be arranged,” he told her as he took out a piece of paper and quickly scrawled something on it with a pencil which he then gave back to her. “Give this to Paladin Gunny who you should be able to find out in the Courtyard. He should be able to give you some instructions and I’ll even see if I can’t find you a suit of T-45d for you to wear, though I can’t promise you it will be in ‘mint’ condition.”

“That’s fine,” Sarah replied, smiling. “It’s more then I was expecting.”

“It’s the least I could do,” Lyons told her honestly. “After all, you’re James’s daughter and I do believe you might even eclipse him with your accomplishments.”

Sarah let out a sigh. “At least one of us is I guess,” she said dourly.

“Child, trust me when I say that I know the look of greatness when I see it,” Lyons said as he rose to his feet. “Anyways, you have power armour to master and then a Vault to raid.”

Sarah nodded and rose to her feet as well. “Thank you...” she suddenly realized that she had no idea what to call him. She doubted she could call him ‘dad’ like Sarah had.

“Elder will do fine,” he told her with a wry chuckle. “I certainly look the part.”

“Thank you, Elder,” Sarah replied.

Throw in a bow, Nim instructed. The elders of most orders of this type appreciate that.

Sarah frowned internally but threw in a bow to appease Nim.

“There’s no need for that,” Lyons said. “Though I appreciate the sentiment. Now then, off with you.”

Luna felt a cold metal fingertip tap her on the neck. She blinked blearily and let out a yawn.

“Father... did you have to wake me?” she asked tiredly. “I was having the most wonderful dream.”

“Umm... Luna?” Sarah’s voice asked, shaking Luna out of her drowsiness.

“Oh, hello there Sarah,” Luna replied, shaking her head slightly as she looked up at the now power armour clad woman. “My apologies, I was somewhere else.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Sarah replied as she sat down beside Luna, making the bed sag slightly. “Are you feeling better?”

“For the most part,” Luna replied, shaking out her man once more. “Though I am in need of a shower of some form and a bit of food. Also, that armour looks wonderful on you.”

“Thanks,” Sarah said before she leaned over and gave Luna a fiery kiss on the lips. When they parted Luna blinked twice.

“Not that I am going to complain... but what did I do to deserve that?” she asked.

“You already know,” Sarah replied as she got up. “We’re leaving in a few hours, heading to Megaton and then to a place called Vault 87 so get ready.”

Luna frowned for a moment, Sarah seemed much more driven at the moment. Luna liked it. “Very well, though I do hope you don’t intend for me to carry you... you look quite heavy.”

Sarah paused for a moment and then chuckled. “You know, I hadn’t thought of that...”

Luna chuckled as well. “Then I suppose we will just have to walk,” she stated as she got up off of the bed and gave Sarah’s cheek a nuzzle. “I am overjoyed to see you in such good spirits.”

“... thanks,” Sarah replied, leaning her neck against Luna’s. They stayed like that for several seconds before Luna’s stomach roared.

“Well, I believe I am in need of some breakfast,” Luna said as she stepped away from Sarah. “Join me?”

“Of course.”

Wandering Moon Chapter 49: Of Home

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They’d been walking in relative silence for the past hour, none of the three really having much to say to the other and instead simply enjoying each other’s company in the surprisingly peaceful walk back to Megaton. Finally, Luna broke the silence.

“Sarah, do you remember how quite a while ago I was telling you of my childhood?” she asked the woman.

“Mhm,” Sarah replied with a small nod. “You got adopted by a dragon named Jonathan right?”

“Yes,” Luna replied with a nod.

“Why do you bring it up?” Sarah inquired curiously.

“Oh, I just thought that while we were traveling I could continue the tale,” Luna said with a small chuckle. “There are most likely very few raiders who would dare to challenge someone dressed in that armor so I believe it to be safe enough.”

“Sounds good to me,” Sarah said, nodding. “Whenever you’re ready Luna.

“Very well... we shall skip a bit of time to when we were more fully grown... we had just decided that we would visit the nearest city...”

“If you really must do this my daughters then I want to make sure that your ‘visit’ goes undetected,” Jonathan said as he looked down at his two adopted children.

“Come now father, Lulu and I are not fools,” Celestia, looking young, regal, and beautiful as the sun itself said with a small chuckle.

“Indeed, when was the last time either of us did something foolish?” Luna, looking younger, impish, and very happy.

“How about last week when you stole Smaug's goblet?” Jonathan replied dryly.

“Oh come on father, we needed some way to test our invisibility spell,” Celestia said while looking up at her father with pleading eyes. “Besides, we gave it right back.”

“Twas a worthless goblet at any rate,” Luna added with a shake of her head. “Who could drink from something so covered in gemstones?”

Jonathan let out a weary sigh, he loved his daughters but sometimes...

“Very well, very well,” Jonathan said, shaking his head.

He then clenched one of his great fists into a ball and drew Equestria’s natural magic to it. Then he focused said magic into a contained ball, shaped it into what he wanted, and then pointed it at his daughters. In place of the two brilliant alicorns were a pair of rather bland grey and black unicorns.

“There,” Jonathan said with a smile as he bent down to inspect his work.

“Do we have to be grey and black?” Celestia asked with a frown as she looked at her now drab appearance with disappointment. “I was hoping for something more...”

“Eye catching?” her father asked with a stern look.

“Err... yes,” Celestia said, looking away from his eyes.

“I personally like it,” Luna said with a smile as she looked at herself. Then she flapped her invisible wings and rose a foot or so off the ground. “I am Luna, the unicorn who can levitate without magic! Fear my great and terrible power!”

Celestia took one look at her sister and began to giggle, which set off Luna who then fell to the cave floor and Celestia dogpiled her. The two rolled around for several minutes giggling and laughing with one another as Jonathan watched over them, slowly shaking his head. When the sisters had tired of their game they separated from one another and looked up at their father with grins.

“Thanks dad!” they said as one before rushing up to his leg and giving it a mighty hug. Jonathan smiled and gently reached one of his scaly arms down to stroke them both with a single talon.

“You’re very welcome darlings,” he told them. “Now then, remember, do not get into trouble. I will be very angry if I have to ‘attack’ the place to rescue you.”

“We will dad, don’t worry,” Celestia, the more mature one, said with a smile.

“I always worry,” Jonathan said with a sigh. “But it is time you both got out of my cave for something other than the migration.”

Celestia and Luna smiled at their father before they each grabbed a pack from where they’d left them by the entrance of the cave and set off.

“So... how is Trinna doing?” Luna asked her sister as the two began the last bit of the climb towards the city.

“Hmm?” Celestia asked, her mind clearly elsewhere.

“I asked; how is Trinna doing?” Luna repeated.

“Ah, she is fine,” Celestia replied casually. “Last time I saw her she was at any rate.”

“That’s good,” Luna said, nodding her head. “It’s good that your dragoness is doing well.”

Celestia rolled her eyes. “Yes Lulu, it is.”

“When are you two going to tell dad?” the younger sister asked curiously

“Tell dad what? We’re just good friends Luna,” Celestia said archly while shaking her black mane.

“I didn’t know that ‘good friends’ did that with each other’s tongues,” Luna said impishly before dodging a swat from Celestia’s invisible wing. Her elder sister shot Luna a glare.

“You must not have any good friends then,” Celestia stated with an irked expression.

“I guess not,” Luna agreed, smirking. “So when are you going to tell father?”

“Whenever we feel like it,” Celestia replied. “It is hardly any of his concern. We’re both ‘adults’ so to speak.”

“Tia, you’re fifteen, in dragon years that’s nothing,” Luna said with a frown.

“Luna, we’re not dragons,” Celestia said with a roll of her eyes. “And if Trinna and I want to spend time together then we’re allowed too. It’s not as if there’s anything bad that can happen, even if she was a drake then I couldn’t get pregnant.”

“Eww...” Luna said, sticking her tongue out at Celestia. “You’re doing that too?”

“Maybe,” Celestia told her sister with a giggle at her sister’s reaction.

“Wait, your sister was having sex with a dragon?” Sarah asked Luna with a surprised look as she glanced at the alicorn.

“Indeed, though apparently that was not for a year or so after that conversation,” Luna replied. “Why do you ask?

“Because dragons are... big,” Sarah said with a frown. “Seems like that would be... difficult.”

“Oh I see what the confusion is for,” Luna said as her eyes scanned the surrounding ruined buildings for any form of attack. “At the time Trinna was about the same size as Tia, they were both young.”

“Ah, alright, that makes more sense,” Sarah replied, nodding. “Though I’m still not sure why you’d want to make love to a dragon.”

Our sister has always had a fairly... flexible sense of what is attractive, Nim spoke within Sarah’s mind. Come to think of it, so are ours. It is most likely because we lack a ‘proper societal definition of beauty’ because we were raised by a dragon.

“That sounds right,” Luna agreed before she leaned over to give Sarah a light nuzzle. “Though I certainly see nothing wrong with my love of you.”

Sarah smiled and leaned her head against hers for a moment before letting out a sigh. “Anyways, the story?”

“Ah right,” Luna said. “We entered the city with little trouble and...”

Luna stood close beside her sister as she looked around the city in wonderment. There were so many things to do, so many species bustling about their daily business, so many shops and stalls! Even more fascinating were the myriad number of smells! Fresh baking bread, newly cooked meat, new spices and even the slight but noticeable odor of filth filled the air with an impermeable layer of mystery.

“Lu, Lu, earth to Lu,” Celestia said as she gently poked Luna in the side. Luna looked up at her in surprise.

“Yes?” she asked.

“Maybe we should get out of the middle of the street,” Celestia suggested as she prodded her sister with a hoof. Luna blushed at her mistake and walked out of the main thoroughfare and over to the side of the road. “Now then, what are we going to do first? We have all day and a purse full of two hundred bits.”

Luna frowned and tried to think of something incredible to do, she was saved the trouble by a loud rumbling from her stomach. The twelve year old blushed and Celestia smiled.

“I suppose that means we’re getting something to eat,” Celestia replied as she shook her black mane out of her eyes. “Hmm...” she frowned and then walked up to a nearby guard wearing a suit of silver chainmail. “Sir, could you point two fillies to the nearest tavern?”

The guard, a pegasus with a dark blue mane nodded. “‘Course, that’d be the Griffon's Goblet,” he told her helpfully. “It’s the building over yonder with the sign with the griffon on it,” he added while pointing with his wing.

“Thank you sir,” Celestia told him, giving him a smile as she reached into the purse with her magic and sent a pair of golden coins out to float in front of him. The guard raised an eyebrow at that, but took them easily with his wing.

“Thank you as well Miss,” he called as Celestia walked back to where she’d left Luna.

The younger filly was still standing where she had been, not being the type to run off on a whim... well unless it was a really good whim.

“You find something?” Luna asked eagerly. “I’m starving!”

“Yes, I found something,” Celestia replied with a gentle smile. “Now follow me.”

Luna did so, weaving in and out of the crowd as she followed her sister to a well kept looking building. The windows were tinted so that you couldn’t see within them, but judging by the quality of the frames, the place was well maintained.

Celestia opened the thick wooden door with her magic and the pair stepped into the slightly smoky room. The heady smell of pipe tobacco filled the air as did that of alcohol and good food. The interior was laid out with the bar itself against the far wall and somewhere around two dozen round tables set up across the floor. The place was not horribly busy and there were only around five customers at the moment, most of whom were sitting in corners by themselves with large tankards of beer.

The elder sister lead Luna up to the counter where a powerful looking grey griffon was idly doing what all bartenders did, cleaning a tankard with a towel. He glanced over the pair and raised an eyebrow as they took up seats at the bar.

“You’re both a little young to be here,” he said casually in a voice that vaguely reminded Celestia of the wind of a hurricane. “Not that I’ll turn away your gold.”

“We’re in the city to do some shopping,” Celestia answered, using the cover story they’d come up with. Then she glanced at Luna and rolled her eyes “My sister’s stomach demanded that we stop somewhere and the guard said that this was the best tavern in the city.”

“As if your own stomach did not demand the same,” Luna said with a roll of her eyes.

The griffon chuckled. “Alright then, heh. So what can I get you two?”

“Watered wine and a honeyed roll please Sir,” Celestia said with a smile.

“Watered wine and a bowl of whatever the day’s soup is,” Luna added.

The griffon nodded and set about pouring them their drinks as he called out their orders over his shoulder towards the back room. Celestia accepted the whine and took a long sip of it as did her sister.

“Mm, this is good,” she said with a smile.

“Thank you, I only buy the best,” the griffon replied with a chuckle.

Luna smiled as she sipped at her wine, it had been quite a while since her last cup of the stuff and she was enjoying it immensely.

“So what shopping are you here to do?” the tender asked as he went back to his tankard cleaning.

“We’re mostly here looking for clothes and odds and ends, maybe a new blade or two,” Celestia answered before nodding at Luna. “It’s time she had something other than a dagger to defend herself with.”

“I’m getting a greatsword!” Luna informed the tender happily.

The grey griffon chuckled. “You may want to start a wee bit smaller filly, you’re still a bit small for that kind of sword,” he told her.

“I can wield one!” Luna protested before Celestia shushed her.

“She’s getting a longsword,” the elder mare said while she rolled her eyes at her sister. “Speaking of which, do you know any blacksmiths who are good at their craft?”

The griffin rested his scaled elbow on the bar as he leaned against it, stroking his beak thoughtfully. “Well, that depends on how much you’re willing to spend,” he replied after giving it some thought.

“Oh?” Celestia inquired with an intrigued look before she took a sip of her watered wine.

“Mhm,” the griffon replied. “If you’re a big spender and looking for the highest quality of steel then you’re going to want to check the Sun Forge a couple blocks over. Their steel is legendary and I’ve used it to slice through dragon scale.”

“You have?!” Luna asked, her eyes widening as she tried to imagine anything slicing through her father’s great scales. She could not.

“Back in the days of my youth, yes,” the griffon stated with a chuckle. “I’m Captain Mach Wing, former leader of the Mach Wings.”

“Who?” Celestia asked, puzzled.

“You’ve never heard of the Mach Wings?” Mach Wing asked with a raised eyebrow. “Lass, you just shot my ego through the heart.”

“Sorry, Sir,” Celestia said with a blush. “My sister and I aren’t very... well traveled. This is the farthest we’ve ever been from our home.”

“Ach, I was only joking at any rate,” Mach Wing replied with a chuckle. “For your future guidance, the Mach Wings are the best damned flyers in the Griffon Empire. We’re the ones who plunge out of the sky like avenging angels as we-”

“Natter on and on about things that you haven’t been doing for years just to make yourself seem more important to a pair of fillies,” a sardonic female voice said as a light gold pegasus with a grey streaked mane walked out of the doors that led to the kitchen carrying a platter with a bowl of tomato bisque and a richly filled cheese roll on it.

“Ah, and he’s my lovely wife Dazzle with your food,” Mach stated casually as he scooped the platter off of his wife’s back and put it down in front of the two fillies.

“Thank you Miss Dazzle,” Luna said before she levitated the spoon full of tomato bisque up to her mouth and took a sip. “This is really good!”

“You’re welcome darling, and I’ll make sure to tell Patsy that,” the pegasus said with a smile before glancing at Mach Wing. “Now tell these two what they actually asked about and then bore them with your stories,” she told him before walking away with an annoyed twitch of her tail.

Mach Wing was silent for a moment as he looked at the two who were looking at him with a combination of raised eyebrows from the elder and giggling from the younger.

“And that’s my wife,” he said in a deadpan voice. “Quite the charmer I’ll have you know.”

“Oh undoubtedly,” Celestia said with a small smile. “She seems very sweet.”

“She is,” Mach Wing said before shaking his head. “At any rate, if you’re not in the market for the most expensive steel, go to the Lunar Forge two blocks away on the corner of Mainstreet. It’s the shop with the big moon on it.”

“I like it already,” Luna said with a grin before she took another few sips of her bisque.

“So, who are the Mach Wings?” Celestia asked before she began to eat her roll.

“Well, we’re the Griffon Empire’s best air squadron,” Mach Wing answered with a grin. “No offense to your pegasi, but we griffons are the real kings of the air! We take on dragons, furies, and air elementals and come out on the better end of all of em!”

“Ah, I see,” Celestia said after she’d swallowed. “So then why did you say that you got your steel from the Sun Forge? Didn’t the Griffon Empire equip you?”

“They did, using the Sun Forge Company,” Mach answered with a chuckle. “But good catch.”

“And what made you move to the Council Lands?” Luna inquired curiously as she subtly snatched a piece of Celestia’s roll and began to dip it into the bisque.

“The most dangerous of all afflictions, little lady,” Mach replied. “Love.”

Sarah held up a hand to silence Luna who did so immediately.

“Is something wrong Sarah?” Luna asked, looking down at the woman in surprise.

“I don’t know...” Sarah murmured as she glanced down at her Pip-Boy. They’d gotten close to Megaton during Luna’s tale and though she was paying attention to the alicorn’s words, she’d still kept an eye on the horizon for any signs of trouble.

Just as Luna had said the word ‘love’ something on her Pip-Boy had beeped.

Her fingers danced across the device until she found the source of the beeping. The woman’s eyes widened as she read what had appeared.

Vault 101 Emergency Frequency

Vault 101... that’s where you used to live, Nim stated with a mental frown. I wonder what they’re broadcasting about...

“Whatever it is... it can’t be good,” the woman said as she tapped the select button.

This is an automated distress message from Vault-Tec: Vault 101,” the message said in the dull, robotic monotone of a Protectron. It then changed to a woman’s voice, one Sarah never thought to hear again. “It feels like you left home a long time ago, but I know you're still out there. I just hope you're still alive to hear this. Things got worse after you left. The new Overseer is insane. If you can hear this, please stop looking for your dad and help save us. I changed the door password to my name. If you're hearing this, and you still care enough to help me, you should remember it.” Then the Protectron spoke again. “Message repeats..

Sarah stared at her Pip-Boy for a moment, the blood draining from her face, before looking at Luna.

“The G.E.C.K is going to have to wait,” the woman stated as she turned in the direction of her former home.

“Sarah... are you sure of this?” Luna asked worriedly. “A ‘reunion’ is not exactly what you need right now.”

“They’re in trouble Luna... and it’s my fault,” Sarah replied slowly. “I have to help them.”

“I... very well,” Luna said with a sigh as she fell into step beside the woman.

Whatever happens, we shall be here to aid you Sarah, Nim stated within her mind.

“Thanks... I think I’ll need it,” Sarah stated softly, her footsteps becoming heavier with every step closer to her destination.

Wandering Moon Chapter 50: Friends?

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The Castle was... well to be honest, it was pretty radical. The whole place was a fortress, made of thick stone and surrounded by towering walls that loomed over the ponies below them. As she walked through the red carpeted corridor, the filly had to admit, even if it wasn’t like the cloud marble scenery of Cloudsdale, the place had an appeal to it.

It just... oozed cool and as always, cool was Rainbow’s expertise and obsession.

Everywhere she went within the confines of the massive building, the guards watched her with smiles and she’d already started learning their names. To her surprise, every one of the guards she’d taken the time to talk to had been kind and all around pretty dang awesome. Especially Tornado Kicker, that stallion was all kinds of radical.

Unfortunately, every time Dash thought about how cool everything here was, the more she wished that Fluttershy was there with her. Her friend had never exactly been the most... assertive pony and it had fallen to Dash to defend her from the myriad of bullies who tried to take advantage of her. Even with Gilda being there to look out for her... Rainbow was worried.

At least Queen Celestia was understanding and had dropped any fees on ingoing and outgoing mail between the two; it was a nice gesture, Rainbow supposed. Speaking of the Queen, Rainbow Dash was conflicted. On the one hoof, she had forced Rainbow to move to the castle, and that was definitely a bad thing. On the other hoof, she was also incredibly kind and understanding. She’d taken the time to take Rainbow aside for a one on one talk to make sure that she was doing alright and assuring her that no matter what, she’d have a friend in her... which was just plain weird to think about.

Dash’s brow furrowed as she walked aimlessly down the corridor, her mandatory flying training wasn’t scheduled to start for another two hours and her father was out doing his job, leaving her with nothing to do.

“Oomph,” a filly’s voice said from in front of her.

Rainbow shook her head to clear her thoughts and glanced down to see another filly sitting there on the floor, a book fallen open on the ground in front of her. The purple maned unicorn looked at her with an irritated look.

“Why don’t you watch where you’re going?!” the unicorn asked her irritably.

“Why don’t you learn to walk and not read?” Rainbow Dash replied. “In fact, why read at all? Books are lame.”

“No they’re not!” the other exclaimed, clearly outraged by this ‘fact’. “Reading is the most amazing thing ever!”

“No it’s not, flying is,” the pegasus stated. “Reading is for nerds and eggheads, like you.”

“I’m not a nerd!” the unicorn shouted, her horn starting to glow a little.

“Oh yeah? You look like one!” Rainbow exclaimed, happy to have something to distract her from her worries about Fluttershy.

“Grrr,” the unicorn growled at her.

“Yeah, go on and growl,” Rainbow replied with a smirk.

That smirk rapidly vanished as the filly’s horn flared and Rainbow found herself somersaulting backwards until she landed squarely on her rear end.

“Ha, who’s a nerd now?” the unicorn asked her with a smirk.

Rainbow Dash let out a low growl. “Oh, it’s on!”

Queen Celestia sat at a table sipping tea calmly as the pair of diplomatic ambassadors sat across from her. On the right was Legacy Tracer, a light blue, white maned unicorn who acted as the Equestrian ambassador to the Griffon Kingdom. On the left was his wife, Flora Strongwing, a vaguely tiger-like griffin with deep orange fur and a head of of white feathers.

“-glad to hear that the King Irontalon has agreed to the newest trade agreement,” Celestia was saying between sips of her tea. “I was rather worried that he would insist upon keeping taxes on Equestrian traders high.”

“It was just a show of force to ‘remind’ you that he could,” Legacy stated with a small shrug. “Griffons are like that, I should know.”

Strongwing shot her husband a slightly miffed look but simply puffed out her feathers. “The King has his reasons, I assure you,” she stated. “As do all griffons.”

“I’m sure,” Celestia replied with a small smile.

She’d always enjoyed the pair, when they were not locking lips they were locking steel and it always made for good entertainment. The fact that both were devilishly good at their jobs, especially when facing off against each other, made the entire situation even better.

“Of course,” Legacy stated sardonically. “At any rate that ‘crisis’ has passed us by and I believe you had some news for her Majesty, dear.”

Flora looked down for a moment and Celestia saw a flash of actual nervousness flash through the sharp huntress’s eyes.

“Indeed I do,” she said as she reached for her own glass of tea and took a small sip before setting it back down on the platter. “Queen Celestia, it is with the greatest of regret that I must inform you that a very powerful artifact was recently stolen from our armory.”

Celestia paused and frowned at the griffon with confusion before speaking. “While it is regrettable that you have lost this ‘artifact’ I hardly understand why it my concern,” she said slowly.

“Because your Majesty... it happens to be the Stormbow of Darkness,” Flora admitted, looking down at the table.

Celestia’s breath caught in her throat. The Stormbow of Darkness was one of the few weapons that she knew without a doubt could disable her. It was her... antithesis and had the power to cripple her magic. Any arrow shot from its string would inflict a grievous wound upon her and temporarily disable her connection to the sun and thus her magic. Discord had created it as a throwaway joke during their fight and even the Draconequus had been surprised how well it had worked.

“I see...” Celestia said though her voice was quite a bit... darker than normal. “And how pray tell did your King even come into possession of the Bow?”

“I honestly haven’t the faintest idea,” Flora said with an irritated growl. “I wasn’t told, Ma’am. All I know is that I was told to tell you that it was stolen and to be on the lookout for it.”

Celestia let out a long breath and then nodded. “Well, tell your King thank you for me. It is good to know that he is stallion enough to take some form of responsibility and tell me of the situation,” the alicorn said at last.

“You’re welcome your Majesty, and I will tell him that,” Flora stated, letting out a relieved sigh, apparently she’d been worried that Celestia would ‘shoot the messenger’.

“Told you it would be fine,” Legacy told her, patting his wife gently on the shoulder.

“Yes well-”


Anything that Flora was about to say was cut off by an incredibly loud explosion of noise and strangely... color that rocked the castle.

Celestia’s teacup shattered, along with windowes througought the castle, and the husband and wife fell out of their chairs, Flora landing atop Legacy.

“What in Celestia’s name was that?!” Legacy shouted.

“Celestia has a pretty good idea,” Celestia stated dryly as she got up from her seat. “Ambassadors, if you’ll please excuse me, I believe I have a filly to reprimand.” She then turned on her hooves and strode out of the room.

“That came from a filly?” Flora asked incredulously as she maneuvered herself off of her husband.

“I guess so, the Queen doesn’t lie,” Legacy replied. “Still, some filly.”

Rainbow Dash panted, she’d never done that indoors before and the filly beneath her looked just as stunned.

“Wow...” the purple mare said softly as she looked up at Rainbow who was currently lying on top of her chest.

“Yeah... wow,” Rainbow agreed as the black eye that the other filly had given her with a particularly strong magic blast began to ache. “So... what’s your name?”

“Twilight Sparkle,” the unicorn replied before she shoved Rainbow Dash off of her chest and then took a moment to survey the hallway.

It was... to be quite frank... a disaster area. There were broken windows, downed drapes, dashed pieces of pottery, crashed suits of armour, and even one or two guards blinking blearily as they returned to their feet.

“Oh crud...” Rainbow said as she looked back at the havoc she’d reaked. “We’re in trouble.”

“Oh no nonononononon,” Twilight began to recite to herself as she looked around desperately. “The Queen is going to kill us!”

“Okay... okay... we got to think about this,” Rainbow Dash said, her brain beginning to panic yet staying focused. “Alright, you and me weren’t fighting... you were practicing your magic and- then- and then-”

She noticed that Twilight was staring at her with extremely wide eyes.

“She’s right behind me, isn’t she?” Twilight noded faintly, her head shaking. “Crud.”

“Crud indeed young one,” Celestia’s voice said from above her. Rainbow Dash looked up to see the Queen looking down at her with a look of hard eyed sternness. The pegasus suddenly felt weightless as Celestia’s golden aura wrapped itself around both herself and Twilight who was still staring numbly at Celestia in horror.

“I’m sorry Master!” Twilight shouted.

“I’m sure you are,” Celestia said as she trotted down the hallway. “And I’m sure you’ll both have plenty of time to think about it while you’re in detention.”

Detention!?!” Twilight shouted in horrified shock.

“Nerd,” Rainbow whispered to herself as she glanced at Twilight’s terrified expression.

“Now now, enough of that,” Celestia said sternly. “You two out of the three fillies who are going to be in and about the castle in the forthcoming years, other than Cadence, and I expect you to learn to be civil with each other.” As she was talking, Celestia’s horn glowed brighter and they appeared within a bare carpeted room containing only a set of chairs.

Celestia let the pair fall in a heap on the floor, Twilight on top this time, and then fixed them both with a harsh stare.

“Now, tell me how it came about that you received a black eye and then proceeded to destroy an entire hallway,” the Queen said as she stared down at Rainbow Dash.

“Well... I ran into her because she was too busy reading her book when she walked,” Rainbow Dash began, pointing at Twilight who shot her a glare. “And then she hit me in the face with her magic so I punched her in the face and then she hit me with magic and then I tackled her and she kicked me in the stomach and so I-”

“I see,” Celestia said, cutting her off before she looked at Twilight. “And your half Twilight?”

“Well, I was walking along the hallway, reading the ‘basic magics’ book you assigned me, and suddenly she comes out of nowhere and slammed into me,” Twilight stated, looking at Rainbow with a glare. “And then she called me a nerd and punched me in the face so I hit her with my magic and one thing led to another until she somehow did that thing...”

Celestia let out a small sigh and closed her eyes. This is going to be a long day...

“I’m sorry,” Rainbow Dash grunted from her corner of the room.

“What?” Twilight asked from her corner.

“I said I’m sorry,” Rainbow Dash said a bit louder. “I shouldn’t have called you a nerd.”

Twilight looked away from her wall to see the rainbow maned pegasus looking at her, an ashamed look in her eyes.

“I’m not a bully... and I know what it’s like to be called something you don’t like,” she continued. “I’ve just... been under a lot of stress since I moved here and...”

“I... it’s okay,” Twilight said, giving her a small smile as she rubbed her black eye. “At least neither of us really got hurt.”

“Yeah... still, I’m sorry,” Rainbow Dash said as she walked over to Twilight and sat down beside her.

“Well... it’s not all your fault,” Twilight stated with a blush. “I’m the one who hit you first.”

“I guess you’re right,” Rainbow agreed and then rubbed her face. “And it was a nice hit too.”

“Really?” Twilight asked with a surprised expression. “I... I’ve never had that much power before. My brother is the strong one.”

“Could have fooled me,” the pegasus replied before chuckling. “It caught me off guard, that’s for sure.”

“I do my best,” Twilight replied before looking at Rainbow intently. “You don’t really think books are lame do you?”

“Hmm? Na, I mean, I’m not a big reader, but there are much lamer things then books,” Rainbow replied with a shake of her head. “You don’t really think flying is lame, do you?”

“Of course not!” Twilight stated emphatically. “Flying is amazing!”

“I know right?” Rainbow said, grinning widely. “I’m going to join the Airforce when I grow up!”

“Really?” Twilight asked her with a frown.

“Yep, I’m shooting for the Wonderbolts!” Dash answered.

“Wow...” Twilight trailed off and then looked at Rainbow with a smile. “I’m going to be the next Archmage!”


“Yes! I’m already the Queen’s personal student and everypony knows that that’s the way you get to be Archmage,” Twilight informed her. “It’s what Sunset Shimmer did, and she’s the best Archmage we’ve had in years!”

Rainbow Dash smiled, she hadn’t realized that there was another pony shooting for the stars like she was.

“That’s awesome!” Rainbow replied. “And rad, and cool, and extreme!”

“Don’t forget stupendous, fantastic, spectacular, and tremendous!” Twilight added with a smile of her own. Rainbow stared at her for a moment, this was the first time anyone had ever added to her ‘list of awesome words’ in a long time.

“You know what?” Rainbow Dash asked her.

“Do I know what, what?” Twilight asked back with a frown.

“I like you,” the pegasus replied, offering her hoof. “Friends?”

“Friends,” Twilight agreed, accepting the hoof and giving it a shake.

They stayed like that for a moment longer before Rainbow Dash frowned. “So... how do we get out of this room?” she asked, looking around the plain room which had only one door. It seemed to have been at least three hours since Celestia had deposited them, and both fillies had grown tired of the place.

“I don’t know... but between us I think we can manage something,” Twilight said as she surveyed the room. “How do you feel about stunts?”

Rainbow Dash just grinned, she liked this filly a lot.

Wandering Moon Chapter 51: Homecoming

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Sarah stood before the giant metal door, a large lump forming in her throat. She was... going home. It was an odd thing to think about. She’d been so many places... seen and done so many things... and yet this one simple thing was terrifying her. Beside her, Luna leaned her neck against the woman’s and stood there silently; allowing the woman to make the decision without pressuring her.

We have been standing in this wretched room for ten minutes Sarah, either do it or let us return to Megaton, Nim stated within her mind, not being nearly as patient as Luna was.

The woman let out a sigh as she glanced at Luna who merely shrugged her wings slightly.

“She is right, as with all things Sarah, you must choose your path,” the alicorn said honestly.

Sarah closed her eyes and then pulled down the lever. The Vault door juttered back in its frame before being lifted free of the entrance, allowing Luna and Nim a first look at Sarah’s former home. It was unimpressive to say the least, a few haphazard barriers had been put up for some reason and the mare doubted that they could have stopped a radroach. Speaking of which, she saw three crawling around off to the side.

Wow... this is... a really badly planned defensive position, Sarah told Nim, her mind clearly falling back to basics instead of allowing her to be blown away by the changes. I mean... hell, I don’t think that it could stop a mole rat.

Agreed, now let us press onwards, Nim agreed, urging Sarah forwards

Sarah nodded and started forwards, noting the abundance of trash littering the floor. She turned the corner and was confronted by someone she didn’t think she’d ever see again.

“Stop right there! I don’t know how you got in here, but... hold on... Wait a minute! It’s you! I hardly recognized you with all the dust and grime from out there,” Officer Gomez said, blinking rapidly from within his... incredibly lacking in protection Vault helmet.

“Or the Power Armor, that could be it too,” Sarah agreed as lowered the magnum she hadn’t realized she’d raised.

“... or that,” Gomez said, shaking his head at the strangeness of seeing Sarah in the bulky suit of steel grey armor. “I guess that explains how you got in here... you’ve got more experience with that door then anyone else down here.”

Sarah frowned for a moment before shaking her head. “As much as I’d love to chat Herman, I need to know if you know where Amata is,” Sarah said insistently. “She sent out a message and it sounded pretty bad.”

“Amata sent out a message?” Gomez asked in confusion. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’d keep that under your hat. For her sake.” The man looked down and frowned. “She could get in a lot of trouble if people found out she sent you a message. So could I, just for talking with you now.”

Sarah raised an eyebrow at her ex-comrade. “What sort of trouble?” she asked.

The kind that gets you shot, Nim suggested idly. Not that that’s a large concern for us at present.

Gomez sighed and shook her head. “Let me bring you up to speed. It seems like it’s been a mighty long time since you left,” he said as he holstered his pistol. “The night you and your dad left, everything went crazy. Between the bugs and the confusion, we lost a lot of people. When your dad opened up that gate, he let loose a whole lot of crap, if you’ll pardon my language.”

Sarah was suddenly struck by indecision, as he mentioned her father, a blade of pain stabbed into her chest, but it was mostly counteracted by the following comment. She wanted to simultaneously cry and giggle hysterically. Luckily, she held back both, undoubtedly Gomez would have been perturbed by a laughing, crying woman.

As would most stallions we believe, Nim added silently.

“It’s... fine,” Sarah said after a moment, shaking her head. “I’m sure dad would be horrified to know that he caused all that... unfortunately he’s not around to hear about it.”

“I’m... I’m sorry to hear about that,” Gomez said with a real sigh. “Regardless of how things turned out down here, he was a good friend. I always figured he’d do well out there.”

“Yeah... he was doing fine... and then he wasn’t,” Sarah said,doing her best to keep her emotions in check and failing as a small sob escaped her lips.

“How long?” Gomez asked her.

“Two days ago,” Sarah replied softly.

To her surprise, Gomez stepped forwards and wrapped her in a hug. She stiffened for a moment before returning it. The hug didn’t last long and when he broke it, Gomez’s face was a bit flushed. Apparently he hadn’t been expecting to do it either. The man coughed once awkwardly.

“Anyways, it’s because of him that a lot of folks started thinking he had the right idea heading out there. He usually did, so if it was safe out there, why stay down here forever?” Gomez asked rhetorically.

“Because it’s a radioactive Wasteland full of creatures and people who would kill everyone in this Vault in a matter of minutes,” Luna said, finally speaking up and stepping into the doorway.

“Ahh!” Gomez shouted in surprise, bringing his pistol up to focus on her with surprising speed. “Mutant!”

Luna closed her eyes for a moment and her horn glowed, tearing the gun out of Gomez’s hand.

“Magical Alicorn from another world actually,” Sarah said apologetically. “Herman, this is Luna, she’s my... close friend.”

“I... um... what?” Gomez asked as he stared at Luna who was still keeping his pistol floating beside her head.

“This is going to be a recurring theme isn’t it?” Luna asked Sarah conversationally while the security officer looked for the right words and attempted to steady himself.

“Probably,” Sarah said as she reached over and ran a metal covered hand over Luna’s cheek. “Don’t be offended please.”

“I’ll do my best,” Luna answered sardonically before looking at Gomez with a raised eyebrow. “I believe you were discussing the Vault’s belief that it was safe to go outside?”

Gomez stared at her. “Why can a horse talk?” he asked blankly.

“Alicorn, not horse,” Luna said with an irritated roll of her eyes. “Why does everyone call me that? It is not that difficult of a distinction to make! Horses are idiots who, when I was last in Equestria, found the idea of controlling fire groundbreaking!”

Indeed, the pack of savages, Nim agreed within Sarah’s head.

Gomez just stared at her, blinking blankly.

Sarah sighed and patted her on the neck. “Because we don’t have alicorns here Luna, I’ve told you that.”

“Still, it is not that hard to differentiate our two species,” Luna said sourly before looking back at Gomez. “Are you done gaping like a fool?”

Gomez gulped and shook his head. “I... I guess so,” he said slowly before adding. “I’m still surprised that the outside has talking hor-alicorns.”

“She’s the only one,” Sarah corrected before adding. “Anyways Herman, you were telling us about how people wanted to go outside?”

“Right... well the New Overseer didn’t like the sound of that one bit so he started cracking down on that kind of thought,” he explained slowly. “Guess he didn’t plan on you coming back,” he added ruefully.

“Yeah, neither did I,” Sarah said with a small shake of her head. “So... what now?”

“Well... I should probably put you two under arrest and take you to the Overseer...” he trailed off and shook his head. “But I know better than to bother trying. You were always the best officer in the Vault and with that armor... Besides, I always liked you Sarah.”

A smart man, Nim observed quietly.

“Thanks Herman,” Sarah said with a small smile.

“You’re welcome,” Gomez said with a shake of his head. “Anyways, some of your old friends or the ‘rebels’ think that opening the Vault is a good idea. I bet they’d like a word with you. Now more than ever.” Then he fixed her with a serious look. “Of course if you want, you can just walk back out the way you came in. Out of respect for you and your father I won’t tell a soul.”

Sarah frowned for a moment, weighing her options. On the one hand, what Gomez said was tempting. Just... leave and come back after she had the G.E.C.K. It would certainly be what Elder Lyons would want her to do, but on the other hand, Sarah wanted to help her old home.

Luna put her neck against Sarah’s. “What would you like to do, Sarah?”

“I think... we’ll go and see if we can’t sort this out,” Sarah said with a frown as she looked at Gomez who was staring at Luna again.

“Well... okay. Just be careful down there here... the Vault’s changed I tell you,” he told her, regaining his wits.

“Thanks Herman, but I think I’ll be fine,” Sarah replied, a small chuckle escaping her lips. “Trust me, I’ve faced much worse than Vault Security.”

Gomez just shrugged and let Sarah and Luna pass him by. The woman led the way to the Atrium, walking along the familiar steel corridors half lost in thought. As they entered the main Atrium she saw Officer Taylor standing behind another questionable barricade pointing his pistol at a familiar face.

“You know I can’t do that Freddy! Now get back down below before I have to do something we’ll both regret!” the old man’s voice cracked as he shouted at Freddy.

“What?” Freddy demanded. “You gonna lock me up like you did to Brotch? You can’t cage a Tunnel Snake man! Cause we RULE!” Freddy shouted rebelliously.

“Stay back!” Taylor shouted before firing his pistol at Freddy.

Sarah’s eyes widened and she rushed forwards, her power armoured fist slamming into the man’s side and sending him sprawling.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing you idiot?” Sarah shouted at the stunned man. “It’s against every regulation in the book to fire on unarmed civilians!”

“I... I didn’t mean to fire, I really didn’t,” Taylor protested as he got his breath back. “I just wanted to scare him off! But he had a knife! I can’t be too careful with those rebels!” Then he recognized her. “And how on Earth did you get in here?!”

“I knew the secret knock,” Sarah said blandly as she collected the man’s gun from the floor and tossed it over her shoulder to Luna, who caught it in her magic and shoved it into her saddle bag.

“Ahh!” Taylor shouted in surprise as he caught sight of Luna. “Mutant!”

“Alicorn,” Luna corrected in an irked voice.

“It talks!” the man shouted in horror before he got to his feet and ran off.

Truly, the security guards of this Vault are a force to be reckoned with, Nim stated. They could hold off a whole two molerats.

Luna snorted and Sarah just sighed. “Come on, let’s go find Freddy and make sure that he’s okay,” the woman said with a shake of her head.

Sarah led the way into the Vault’s Lower Level and led Luna into the dinner. It was... an empty and forlorn looking place. Several of the tables had been taken and even more were knocked over or on their sides. The woman grimaced and fought back good memories as she walked through the room, Luna close behind.

Are you doing alright? Nim asked her in concern.

As well as I could be all things considered, Sarah replied as she led the way up the stairs. Upon reaching the upper level she stopped and a small smile appeared on her face as she saw the leather-clad man approaching her.

“Well damn! Look wh