Fallout New Vegas: Unexpected Friends

by Sleepyted

First published

Twilight gets transported to the Mojave Wasteland after a magical mishap.

While Twilight is testing a new long range teleport on the request of Princess Celestia something goes wrong and she is transported to a place where love and harmony is a thing of the past and killing is the way of life.

The Mojave Wasteland.

Now Twilight must find a way to get back to her friends in Equestria and survive her stay in the apocalyptic wasteland inhabited by everything that has learn to call this eradiated land their home.

(My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic crossover with Fallout: New Vegas)

Editor: Grammer_Nazi
Pre-reader: Bum
Cover Artist: Wadusher0

Prologue

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“Is the crystal exactly twenty seven point three five centimeters away from the magi amplifier?” Twilight asked as she ever so carefully drew a circle in the middle of the entire set up, having to be as perfect as possible if there was any chance of this working in the slightest.

“I’ve quadruple checked.” The ruler of the night said, her normally flowing mane looking messy and disheveled.

“Never hurts to check again.” The purple alicorn stated as she grumbled and whipped away the chalk line she just drew, not perfect in her eyes.

Luna groaned tiredly, dragging herself along with the tape measure again to check for the fifth time.

“The quantum calibrator is tuned in.” The ruler of the sun stated, just and tired and run down as her sister. ‘Why did I give her this job? And why did I agree to act as an assistant and rope Lulu into this?’ She thought to herself.

“Okay. We should almost be ready.” Twilight said as she finished off the circle, looking at it for a few minutes and measuring it to make sure it was a perfect circle.

“Really?” Luna asked excitedly, not excited about what they were trying to do but happy that she might be able to go to bed, the last time she tried to stay away for this long she ended up going crazy on coffee.

“Yeah…” Twilight stated with a grin as she looked over the entire set up. There was a mess of runes and diagrams all along the floor, crystals of hundreds of different types with magic imbued into each one. To an untrained eye it would look like a mess a toddler got into but to the purple princess it was almost a year of work done finally.

“Let’s get started then.” Celestia said walking to the side and taking a drink of water from a glass.

The other two nodded, Twilight standing herself in the middle of the rune and resting her two front hooves onto crystal plates, each etched in with their own runes.

The princesses of day and night went to either side of the circle, their hooves too on crystal pads. “You girls ready?” The one in the middle asked.

“Yes.” They answered at the same time, determined looks on their face.

“Okay, charge up.” She stated, three horns slowly glowing until they each blasted with energy, the air seeming to go dry as power was sucked up to the three. “On three!” Twilight yelled over all the noise, shocks of magical power sparking off each of their horns around the room.

“One!”

“Two!”

“Three!”

‘Pop’

Luna and Celestia were sent flying backwards, each into a wall across the room from each other. It took a moment for the two to get the ringing out of their ears and to get to their hooves, looking around at the room.

The set up looked untouched besides all the crystals while they once glowed with hundreds of colors were all now a dark grey, drained of all power that they could contain. In the middle was just a small burn on the ground, just a little bit of smoke disappearing from the mark.

There was very little celebrating coming from the two, Luna just going over to a corner of the room and curling herself into a ball and within moments started softly snoring, happy that everything was over.

Celestia looked over at her sister and was about to join her until she noticed something very colorful draw her eye, compared to the darkness of the rest of the room. Trotting over she picked it up with her magic, wincing at the head ache it caused. It was a bright red tail feather from a phoenix, of her phoenix, one that Celestia had to bribe out of her pet to be able to get.

Celestia just shrugged and dropped it again, trotting over to her sister and joining her in a snuggle.

“That probably wasn’t important…”

Chapter 1

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Twilight slowly regained consciousness, her ears were thumping with the sound of her heart beating and her whole body ached, but mainly around her horn. She could feel a cool breeze on her coat, she was laying on something course and dry which had the faint smell of metal.

With a groan she rolled over to get more comfortable on whatever she was sleeping on. When she did, something small and sharp jabbed itself into her side making her decide to finally wake up as she grudgingly opened her eyes.

She saw sand. Sand, sand and more sand. She slowly propped herself up with her forehooves into a sitting position to take a better look at her surroundings. From what she could tell she was in a large area of dirt and sand filled with large rocks, but it was rather hard to tell due to it being deep into the night. In the far distance she could see the outline of mountains along with the faint glow of something large. Not too far in the distance was what appeared to be a small camp fire with large blocks around them. Closer was a small wooden shack that looked extremely run down with strange metal things slightly buried in the sand around the shack. The things looked like elongated pills with wings, on those wings were cylinders with machinery spewing out, and all of them had faded and peeling coats of paint with large amounts of rust surrounding its surface.

She looked down to what she was laying on to see a small rock. With a sigh she stood up on unstable legs and instantly started feeling light headed and she stumbled a bit.

“Where am I?” she wondered to herself.

The last thing she remembered was trying out a new spell that would help transport ponies and items larger distances without the need of trains and carriages. All in all it would improve the ability to trade with other nations at a faster pace, but she couldn’t remember anything after that which worried her greatly.

After a while of not knowing what she should do, she decided to go towards the campfire to ask somepony where she was. A campfire can’t stay alive without somepony fueling it right?

She took longer than she would like to get near the camp, but one of her forehooves hurt a rather large amount. Once she got closer she could hear mumbled talking, confirming her suspicion that somepony was keeping the fire up. The block she saw from a distance was actually large metal trailers that looked as run down as those strange metal birds and had their wheels taken off, only leaving an axl. But something seemed off to Twilight, she couldn’t put her hoof on it.

Once she was close to one of the metal trailers she saw something sitting by a table close to the fire, or should she say two something’s that looked like they were playing cards. They both were taller than her and from the way they were sitting looked like they would be bipedal, they were holding the cards in long appendages that looked like the claws Spike had. Next to one of them was a long wooden bat and the other had a long metal stick with a large piece of wood at the bottom. One of them was wearing something short around its hind legs and a strip of fabric with metal rods all round it over its torso, on its feet were large brown shoes. Its face was mostly flat with a small nose protruding from the middle, its eyes were on the front of its face and its ears were on the side, its mouth was under its nose and had something pink surrounding them. On its head was an extremely thin mane, its skin was a dark tan and had no coat. The other had the same almost the same facial but had a light shade of skin and had a longer mane, it wore something with a light cyan color and wore the same thing the other did but longer on its hind legs. On the back of the thing on its torso were the letters ‘NCRCF’. They both looked dirty, grubby and needed a bath or something to get themselves cleaned up.

Twilight was a little shocked to say the least to see a new creature for the first time and from the look of things looked like they were sapient if they were able to do something like playing cards. She watched them play cards and sit there in silence, sometimes throwing a card onto the table. She was fascinated by the alien creatures and didn’t know what to do.

After watching them play cards for what felt like hours the one with the most cover on their body threw down a card which made the other to jump out his seat, causing its chair to go flying behind him.

“YOU FUCKING CHEAT!” It shouted, pointing at the other.

Twilight’s eyes went wide ‘They speak Equestian?’ They both had deep voices making it sound masculine.

“I DIDN’T DO A FUCKING THING!” the other responded, jumping from the table as well.

Twilight was taken aback a bit at the open use of vulgar swear words.

“SINCE WHEN ARE THEIR FIVE ACES?” the first one shouted moving its claw like appendage towards the table.

“ONLY FOUR HAVE BEEN PUT DOWN YOU FUCKWIT!” the other said pushing the table over.

The first one picked up its strange metal and wood thing and started to move something around at the back of it while the second pulled something from its middle section and pointed it at the first one’s head. The first one only had time to widen its eyes before….

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

In three small explosions the first one’s head was reduced down to a small meaty stub, spraying the rest behind it onto one of the trailers walls before the animal to fall down limp to the ground. The thing the second one used which looked like a small ‘L’ had smoke coming out of the front of it before he put it back onto a strap on its side.

“FUCK YOU!” it yelled before running over to the dead creature before kicking it with its long hind legs in the side a few time before spitting on the corpse.

Twilight was disgusted by the cruel display of these creatures to the point it caused her lunch to make itself known again. She vomited behind one of the trailers, she vomited, a lot ,and while chucking up she heard something that made her blood run cold.

“WHO’S THERE!” she heard the remaining creature shout out.

Her eyes widened and her muscles went rigid and tense. She held in a breath and tried to be as quiet as possible, hoping that she didn’t alert the creature any more than she already has.

“I can heeeear yoooou!” he said in a tone that scared Twilight close to death.

With that she bolted away from there, not caring how much sound she made, just wanting to get as far away as she could from the creature. She ran as fast as her legs would carry her.

“FOUND YA BITCH!” Twilight heard being yelled from behind her.

She heard a familiar banging noise and small little explosions of sand in front and besides her. After a few more of the bangs she felt an extreme burning sensation in her flank, causing her to stumble then fall over. With all the energy she could she crawled behind a large rock as more bangs were sent off towards her. Once she was behind the rock the explosions stopped which let Twilight give out a pained breath. She looked down to her aching flank to see a bloody hole in it, it was quickly oozing blood, her breath caught in her throat as she saw what was done to her. She was frozen solid before her survival instinct kick and she placed both her forehooves on her flank and press down hard to try and stop the bleeding, trying her hardest to hold back the pain. After a while Twilight realized that nothing was happening just before she heard a light sizzling sound caught her ears before a small red stick with a sparking string coming out the top landed next to her.

Twilight didn’t know what it was, but she didn’t like it. Biting through the pain she got up to her hooves and started to limp away from whatever was thrown at her. After a few moments, she heard a massive explosion, and in that instant she felt herself getting knocked off her hooves, and her hind legs sent red hot lances of pain up her back. She was dazed and heard only ringing. She looked up to see the wooden shack not too far away from her. In her dazed state she used her front hooves to slowly drag herself towards the shack.

After what felt like an eternity of pain, she made it to the front door. The door knob was higher than she could reach, and whenever she tried to open it, she fell back down to her stomach when her hind legs failed on her, and pain shot up her back. With all the concentration she could muster, she used her magic to give the door knob a quick twist while pushing her upper body up against it. It opened with a high pitched squeaked and quickly opened, causing Twilight to fall forwards and making her lower half start burning in pain even more than before.

Twilight was slowly starting to lose consciousness and with the last of her energy she used her magic to push the door close before dragging herself under a rotted and rusted table in the center of the room before losing consciousness altogether. Only one thought going through her mind.

‘I want my friends.’

Chapter 2

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Twilight had nightmares that night in her forced slumber. She saw her first death done by another animal, and no matter how many times she has read that animals kill each other in the wild it was still horrific to her. The only thing she could dream about was all the blood and gore that that strange weapon caused and how casually the creature did it, and didn’t show any reaction besides anger.

Every once and a while, she would wake up to the feeling of being freezing and wet, but the feeling didn’t last before she was forced asleep again, and again, every time she woke until she woke to something different.

_________________________________________________________________________

Anne had a content smile on her face. She just saved the good town of Goodsprings from the Powder Gangers after she rallied the town to the cause. Once people heard that the small town had defended against more trained attackers even though they were criminals they wouldn’t get trouble like that again.

She convinced Chet to give the town some leather armor to protect them from bullets, and provide some protection from explosives, but knowing about dynamite as much as she did, the armor wouldn’t have done much. She also got Trudy to get the townsfolk to help defend the town, along with Easy Pete getting out his dynamite. She also convinced Doctor Mitchell to give out Stimpaks and Med-X to those that got hurt.

The thought of the Doc made Anne rub the tender scar a little above her right eye, the place where a 9mm bullet left its mark. It still ached and reminded her of why she left Goodsprings in the first place, to find the bastard in the checkered suit that shot her in the head and left her in a shallow grave. She going to make sure she returns the courtesy, she might even use the same gun, so it’s all the same.

But first she needed to find him.

She only knew what to look for from other people like Victor, if you could call him a person. She owed her life to the robot, without him she would have bled to death in her shallow grave. And now because of the one act of kindness from the robot, she swore to herself that she would help those that couldn’t help themselves.

But she couldn’t do it as she was, even though she had more weapons than the average wastelander. She was still ill-equipped to do anything useful. She had a silver 10mm pistol, which she strangely felt an emotional attachment to the weapon. There was also a strong double-barrel 20 gauge shotgun, a 40mm grenade rifle, and an unusually shaped machete. She also had a few other weapons but she sold them the first chance she got. She also had some medical items which she kept in a small bag on her back. There were some Stimpaks, and a few Super Stimpaks, along with some Med-X, Psycho, Mentats, Buffout, and only one RadAway which needed to be fixed and fast.

She might have stuff in a hidden cache, but she can’t remember anything before waking up in the Doc’s spare bed. She just hoped that if she did it didn’t fall into the wrong person’s hands.

She heard from Sunny Smiles that there was a town called Primm not too far away from Goodsprings. Anne just hoped that someone would know where the checkered suited man went to. She said to look out ‘for the roller-coaster in a casino’. Sunny, and along with a lot of others, recommended that she should stick to the road because it was safer, and from the look at some of the mutated bugs and animals, it was a piece of information that she would probably use the most.

She didn’t really know what she’d do once she killed the person she was looking for, she might become a mercenary or something like that so she could make a nice amount of caps before she retired a happy old woman, even though she would most likely die young in that line of work.

With a sigh she continued traveling down the cracked asphalt of the road, dried and dead plants growing out of them along with a thin layer of sand covering the whole thing. All in all it looked like shit, like most of the wasteland in general.

After a few moments she reached a crossroads that spilt into two different directions, left and right. In the right direction, far in the distance was a roller-coaster built over a huge building while left just had more road. Right where it split was a rundown wooden shack, and when she approached it a notification on her new Pip-Boy 3000 said that it was called ‘Jean Sky Diving’. She wondered how the thing knew where she was or who was around but she didn’t have the resources to do so. Once she got closer she saw a few more details about the place. An abandoned car was next to the shack and further back was a plane half buried in the sand.

I would kill just to be able to do that’ Anne mused to herself. ‘But with the way everything has gone to shit I doubt that would happen any time soon.

There was also another thing that made Anne’s heart rate pick up, and a sick smile creep up onto her face.

Two red bars on the compass on the Pip-Boy.

She crouched down and snuck up and leaned up on the front of the wooden shack and stopped when she heard a soft squishing noise. She looked down and saw a streak of blood going into the shack through the door. Anne decided that she would check it out after she sees what is hostile.

She peeked around the building to see two Powder Gangers, one with a varmint rifle and the other with a single shot gun. They were behind the small ledge that the shack was on meaning that they wouldn’t have seen her. She un-holstered her 10mm pistol and pumped herself up before jumping out from behind cover.

“SURPRISE MOTHA FUCKAS!” she shouted jumping off the ledge before going into VATS.

Time seemed to stand still, with Anne in mid-air with her gun pointed at her targets. Chills went up her spine, she still hasn’t gotten used to the feeling of her brain activity speeding up to unheard levels. Once she had her targets selected, she let loose.

One bullet went off and imbedded itself into one of the Powder Gangers head, causing a large hole to form in his forehead and an even bigger on to come out the back, splattering grey matter onto his friend. Three more bullets went sent out the barrel of the gun and struck the last target’s torso, peppering it with lead.

Anne let out a sigh of satisfaction as she saw the result of what she had done. After loading in a fresh magazine into her gun, she began to search the dead bodies. The one whose head she had destroyed was the one with the shotgun. She took the shells he was carrying along with the Med-X he had but left the dynamite. The other was the one with the rifle. She took apart the rifle and replaced her rifle’s stock and trigger guard with the dead guy’s one and took all his bullets. She also took the Psycho. She may not like the idea of drugs because she could get hooked, but that doesn’t mean they’re not wanted by others, and that meant there was money to be made.

Once she was done, she decided to check out who was bleeding out in the shed.

Without any hesitation, she opened the door. The room had the faint smell of mildew and the rotted wooden walls had holes through them making the sun send beams into the room. There were old wooden crates with what would most likely be rotting parachutes and the bags they were held in. Next to the crates, the rest of the wall was filled with lockers, and on one of the lockers was a green metal box with the U.S. Army logo on the front of it. To the right, there was a barrel stuck in some wooden framework. And in the middle of the room, was the main thing that stood out. In the middle of the shack was a small table with a computer with the screen and everything behind it being ripped out, and the rest had been dented and deformed. Also on the desk was a large radio and microphone that would have been used to talk with the pilots in the air, but the thing that stood out the most, was the strange bleeding ball of purple fur.

With the amount of blood covering the shack’s floor Anne presumed that whatever it was has been dead for a while. Without even checking it, she looked on the desk for anything of use. On it was a bottle cap, and the Sunset Sarsaparilla bottle, but on closer inspection of the cap, she saw that it had a blue star on the inner part, which she put in a separate pocket in her rucksack. She walked over to the lockers, but before she did, she heard the faint sound of whimpering.

Anne looked around to find who was making that sound, until her eyes rested onto the bleeding purple blob that was now twitching slightly with each sob.

Not wanting the thing to suffer any more than it already was, Anne approached it before pulling it from under the table, and it cried in pain the whole way. Once it was out from under the table, Anne saw more details about this thing. It looked like a small purple horse, even though she didn’t know where she knew that from. It had an uncombed dark purple mane with different colours mixed in. On its ass, was what looked like a type of branding in the shape of a few stars, but one thing that stood out the most was the wings sprouting out its back, and the small horn growing from its forehead.

Of course it’s a unicorn, now all I need to do is to find my fairy and I’ll be all set,’ she mused to herself.

As she looked at the damage done to it, she winced at the phantom of pain she felt. Its whole lower half was filled with holes and gashes, and from the look of them, it looked like most of it was shrapnel from an explosion, but there was a larger one that looked like it was caused by a small caliber firearm. Its hind legs were bent at unnatural angles and one of them had a bone pushing into the skin but not pushing through. The wings looked worse off, feathers were missing and like the legs bent at unnatural angles. All in all, it was lucky that it was alive at all, but with the way it looked, it should be unlucky.

She pulled out her pistol and pointed it towards the things head, turned off the safety and pulled back the slide, making sure a 10mm bullet was in the chamber.

Before she could pull the trigger the animal opened its eyes and looked at her in fear. “P-please, d-don’t h-h-hurt me.” It said weakly to the point Anne almost didn’t hear it.

Anne was shocked to say the least. Whatever this thing was just spoke to her. Now that that settled things, she couldn’t just shoot this thing if it’s showing signs of sentience. This could be a new creature altogether, and she wouldn’t be the one that would kill it.

“I’m not going to hurt you, just let me take a look at you,” she said as softly as she could until she realized that it had lost consciousness.

With a sigh Anne took off her bag and took a look into one of the pockets before taking out its contents. Needles of all sorts fell from the bag, and onto the wooden floor of the shack. ‘Let’s hope I know what I’m doing.'

Chapter 3

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After pulling out a different bag from her main one, she intertwined her fingers, pointed her palms forwards, and cracked her knuckles before wiggling her fingers, hoping to loosen them up before pulling off her one glove. With a sigh, she brought out a large squared shaped brown bottle from the bag and read its worn label.

Vodka

“Such a shame, I wanted to drink myself into a stupor with this,” she said twisting off the cap before downing a mouthful.

It left a burning sensation as it went down her throat, which caused her to take the bottle from her mouth and let out a wheezy cough. ‘Note to self, get something that tastes better to drink,’ she thought, letting out a few more small coughs.

Once she was done hacking, she took out a clean rag from the bag, well, as clean as something in the Wasteland can be anyway, and put it to the top of the bottle before tipping it over and dousing the area in alcohol. She then poured a large amount onto her hands to try and kill anything on them.

With a rag ready, she picked up a small, silver needle off the ground before taking its cap off. With one swift movement Anne brought down the needle and jabbed it into the purple unicorn’s ass, right in the middle of its branding, before pushing the plunger. She looked back down to the other needles she dropped on the floor and let out an annoyed sigh. “I knew I should have stocked up on more Stimpaks than Med-X.”

True, Med-X could help you keep fighting after taking anything from a gunshot wound to a broken bone, but it didn’t do anything to heal the wound, and you would most likely bleed to death before the dulling effects runs out, while Stimpaks actually closed the wound, and healed bone but didn’t stop any pain, and with some injuries, you would just lose the ability to stay awake before the fight is over.

With a sad sigh, Anne grabbed the cloth and started rubbing around the edges of the wounds on the mutant’s ass. After a few moments, Anne pulled away the now bloodied, rag and let out another sigh. She reached back down and grabbed the still opened bottle of vodka, and splashed a generous helping of the liquid onto the mutant’s lower half.

Anne froze when she heard the mutant let out a pained gasp, as the alcohol touched her.

The mutant let out a groan as it tried to roll over, but was stopped by Anne’s knees that were still next to her body. It continued to roll over its upper half, and looked at Anne before freezing. Its eyes were darting around the room. It seemed to no longer be in its previous ghoul like state she was in from all the pain.

The two just stared at each other, each not wanting to make a move.

Anne looked into whatever it was eyes. Like the rest of its body, the eyes were a deep purple, but what stood out to Anne, was the sheer size of them. They were huge. However this thing even have a brain with its eyes this big, she didn’t know. They looked scared beyond what seemed possible, and it made Anne feel like she just killed a dozen orphans.

She was drawn out of her staring when the mutant’s horn began to glow a sparkly purple. Automatically, a thousand switches went off in Anne’s head. Before anyone knew what happened, Anne’s bloody hand shot out and grabbed the offending appendage, and tightened her hold on it.

“If you care for whatever this thing is, you’d better turn it off,” she threatened, slightly bending the horn.

The mutant’s eyes widened, ears folded down, and she let out a sad sounding whimper, and not a second later its horn stopped glowing. “Good girl, and because you did that I assume that you’re intelligent?” Anne said, loosening her grip on the horn, but still not letting go.

The mutant nodded slowly, averting its eyes away from Anne’s. “Are you able to talk, or will I have to ask yes and no questions?” She asked.

“I-I can t-talk,” she whispered out.

The fact that this thing could talk didn’t surprise Anne as much as she thought it would. She did hear it talk a while ago after all. “That’s good to hear, but first things first: I need to ask if you’re squeamish.”

“W-why?” The mutant answered trying to look where Anne’s hands where.

Before it could look at the wounds, Anne used her other bloodied hand, and grabbed its purple jaw, and yanked the head up, smearing the still wet blood on its coat. It let out a sacred whimper but Anne did her best to reassure whatever it was.

“You don’t want to do that; you woke up at a very awkward time,” Anne said removing her hand from its horn.

Anne couldn’t do anything if she had to hold the thing’s head, and if she didn’t hurry, there might be serious damage done to its muscles and tendons, but from the look of it, that has probably already happened. “If you want to know the truth; you’ve woken while I was in the middle of an operation on your ass.” She said plainly.

Its pupil’s shank to the size of pinpricks and its face went a few shades whiter. It looked like it wanted to say something, but nothing came to mind.

“The reason you can’t feel much is because I stuffed a bunch of painkillers in your system, so please don’t move if you care about anything down there, I don’t want to go through all the work of stopping you from leaking if you’re just going to be a cripple,” she said slowly taking her hand from its jaw, leaving a red handprint on its face.

The mutant’s eyes went wide, and breath hitched in her throat, as she saw the blood on Anne’s hands. Anne’s eyes drew away from the mutant to look at what it was looking at and let out an annoyed sigh, as she realised what happened.

“You think operations are clean? But, don’t worry I cleaned them before,” she said with a smirk.

But sadly, with all the reassurance Anne gave to it, nothing helped calm the mutant down.

It started to sob uncontrollably, slightly shaking. “I wanna go home.” She said between sobs.

“Of course you do,” Anne said lazily, as she reached back into her bag, and pulled out a few different sizes of scalpels and a pair of tweezers.

“I’m going to continue if you wouldn’t mind, the painkillers will wear off at this rate,” Anne said turning her attention to the mutant’s lower half.

With a sigh, she picked up the smallest scalpel with her left hand, and picked up the tweezers with her right. Before she did anything else, she turned on her Pip-Boy’s radio and turned it onto a station. With a smile at the song it was playing, she got back to the task at hand.

__________________________________________

Twilight had no clue what was going on. She had one of the monsters she saw kill each other currently operating on her flank. She saw it had one of the ‘L’ shaped boom things on its side, but it was silver instead of black, and larger but it still had a lot of similarities.

She was broken out of her observing, as it poked the metal thing on its arm with one of the claws, and suddenly music started playing from it.

Click for song

__________________________________________

Anne let out a satisfied sigh as she looked at her handy work.

The mutant’s ass was still covered in blood, but that’s sort of a given with what just happened. And all the holes and deep scratches had been stitched over, and then covered in bandages. Because of how messed up the legs had been, Anne had to cut them open, and peg it together so there were stitches going down the entire length of the legs, and due to the current lack of cast, all she could do was break off a few chunks of the wooden floor and use them as splints. Four on each leg then cover them in more bandage. With the wings, it was more difficult to do. She ended up pegging them into what she thought, was normal then, covered them in bandages, but didn’t splint them.

All in all, the entire mutant’s lower half now looked like a mummy in slightly bloodied coverings. Half way through the operation, the mutant fell asleep, and once the operation was done, Anne threw everything on the table off in the middle of the room, and put the mutant onto it, thinking it probably didn’t want to wake up in its own bodily fluids.

With a sigh Anne wiped her bloody hands on her chest, before opening the door of the shack, and peeking out to see it was nearly midnight. ‘Well I’m not going out at night, not even I’m that stupid,’ she thought with a chuckle.

She closed the door again, and walked back into the room.

With a slight shiver, she realised that shack was so cold she could see her breath in front of her in the form of small tuft of steam. She looked around for anything she could use to make some heat, but didn’t see any safe way to start a fire without burning the whole shack down.

She sat down on the small chair in the room, and thought about how to make a safe fire, while looking around. With a metaphorical light bulb, she thought of something. She hopped off her chair and walked over to the metal lockers, and pulled down the empty ammo box, and threw open the lid. She looked around the room, and the large crate caught her eye. With a smile, she walked over to it and brought out her machete, and brought it back before swinging it down.

Over a few minutes, Anne broke a large hole into the side of the crate, and grabbed a few hands full worth of the splinters and wood, and threw them into the ammo box before reaching into the hole in the box, and felt around for something she could use. After a few swings around in the box, she felt something brush her hand and she let out a small chuckle before grabbing it and pulling it out into the open.

In her hand she saw the extremely worn down and decomposed remains of some rope and cloth, before throwing it in the box, with the wood to act as cindering. She reached into a pocket on her thigh and pulled out a lighter. With a few ‘clicks’, a small flame appeared on the top of it; and for a moment, Anne was entranced in the flame. She put her arm into the ammo box and let the flame lick at the decayed rope before they caught alight.

Anne cupped her hands around the box, and let out a few blows to help get the fire going. Once it was going well Anne got more comfortable and started to rub her hands together.

She reached into her main bag, and pulled out a half finished bottle of dirty water. After unscrewing the cap she chugged down the rest of the bottle and let her face crinkle up at the muddy taste. After throwing the bottle into the barrel next to the wall, she reached back into her bag, and pulled out a small, blue, dirty cardboard box with most of the labelling having faded years ago, save for the yellow lettering that was still readable that read: ‘CRAM’, in big, yellow letters.

With a sigh, she opened the box and dug in.

Chapter 4

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Twilight slowly awakened. She could feel sleep caking her eyes shut and her throat burning from thirst. She felt like she just ran a marathon with how her hind legs felt, and her wings felt stiff and tense. She was currently stomach-down on something hard and slightly cold. With a groan, she rolled over, but when she almost did a full rotation, she had a sudden feeling of weightlessness before feeling a stabbing pain shoot through her back, causing her to let out a deep pained gasp.

She heard the sound of something moving, but was too concerned about her back to really pay much attention. She was going to look down at her back but was stopped when she felt a small prick on her rump then suddenly everything went numb and she let out a small sigh, no longer caring about anything other than her own relaxation.

“I thought you’d wake up soon,” she heard a familiar voice from out of her line of sight.

She looked to where the voice came from, and immediately remembered everything that happened in the past day come flooding back to her.

Crouched next to her prone form, was one of the bipedal monsters she saw kill each other, and later try and kill her. This one seemed different from the others though.

It had a long, dirty off white mane, which was tied into a bun behind its head. It had soft blue eyes that seemed to twinkle in the orange glow coming from somewhere around the shack. As she was looking at its eyes she saw a slight red and tender scar above one of its eyes. Its face was a light cream color and was thinner that the other monsters she saw. It wore something different from the others she saw: it was wearing a thick black body suit, but with the numerous silver metal plates it had over parts of its body, it was more likely under padding for the strange armor. It had more plates on its hind legs than anywhere else on its body, but still had quite a lot. One of its forelegs also had the metal plates, while the other had a larger covering that was larger and had a faint green coloration with a large black pane of glass with something glowing from behind it. Above the large hind leg armor was some more metal plates around its hips and higher up there was what looked like a large metal necklace which had tubes going around the neck and was nestled between small two lumps on its chest that the other monsters didn’t have.

She realized that as she was staring monster, the monster was staring back to her as it was fiddling around with some bandages that were on her lower half. Twilight tried to shy away from its gaze but it was rather futile due to the fact she was laying down.

“So how ya feeling?” It asked her with a comforting smile.

Twilight felt like she was thrown onto the spot, she didn’t know what to do.

“It’s okay; I'd feel like shit as well if I had to go through what you had to go through,” it said standing up and walking to a bag, leaning up against the shoddy wooden wall.

It reached into the bag and searched around in it for a few moments before pulling out a dirt covered bottle of water, and an old looking box with the words ‘INSTA-MASH’ written one the front. It walked back over to Twilight and held out the bottle and box to her.

“I’d offer you something better, but I’m not in the position to do so,” it said with a faint chuckle.

Twilight reached out to grab the items but hesitated slightly, feeling more scared than she’d like to admit. But the rumble in her stomach and her dry throat convinced her otherwise.

“I feel hurt, don’t you trust me?” the monster said with mock shock and placed one of its forelegs onto its chest.

Twilight felt bad now, here this thing was giving her food and water and she was being rather rude in turn.

“I’m sorry,” she said faintly with a dry throat, sitting up.

“Ay, no problem, I was in your position not even three days ago; I wouldn’t trust me either,” it said with a dismissive wave of its foreleg.

Twilight turned her attention to the two items in her grip, and twisted the cap off the old bottle of water and brought it to her dry mouth. and started to gulp down the water. She almost instantly spit it back out when what she drank didn’t taste anything like she’s had before. It tasted like dirt and something metal had mixed together then liquefied before being put in a bottle.

Twilight looked up to see her companion covered in the water. She immediately had a blush shoot across her face.

“I take it you didn’t like the water?” It asked, seeming to not notice the water on its front.

“I’m sorry,” Twilight like said weakly.

“Stop apologizing, the water tastes like shit, I don’t blame you for your reaction,” it said, causing Twilight to wince at its swearing.

“What is it?” Twilight asked.

“I think it’s meant to be a mixture of Hydrogen and Oxygen in a liquid form put in a bottle, but I think that’s only what about half of it is, the rest is radiation and plain old dirt,” she said, making Twilight gag.

“You gave me muddy water?” Twilight said, using her hooves to try and rub the taste off her tongue.

“Yeah, the purified stuff cost too much for my taste,” it said, with a shake of its head.

They sat there in an awkward silence, neither one saying anything the other, that is until the biped decided to speak up.

“The name’s Anne, I’m a courier,” Anne said, her hand shooting out in front of her, holding it out to Twilight.

“I’m Twilight Sparkle, and I’m a pony,” Twilight said, slowly reaching her hoof out to Anne’s hand.

When Twilight’s hoof reached Anne’s, she gripped her hoof and started to roughly shake it. “Nice to meet cha’ miss Sparkle,” Anne said, letting go of Twilight’s hoof.

Twilight’s hoof still shook even after Anne let go, but Twilight managed to get it under control. “Please, just Twilight.”

“Well, just Twilight, welcome to the Mojave,” Anne said, using her arms in a duel sweeping motion.

Twilight looked around the dirty run down shack and put on a forced smile. “It looks….nice,” she said, trying to find the right words to use.

“Then you must be as blind as a bat, the Mojave is utterly shit,” Anne said flatly.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Twilight tried to reason.

“Kid, it’s shit, simple as that,” Anne said.

“If you don’t mind could you please stop cursing?” Twilight said, sounding a lot like her friend Fluttershy.

“Oh and why’s that?” Anne said.

Twilight felt the blush return full force, feeling like she said something wrong. “Well, um, isn’t it rude to swear?” Twilight tried to reason.

“Kid, no one gives a fuck. You could have your junk hanging out and no one would care.”

Twilight only blushed more, trying to think of something to change the subject from the currently awkward one. “So, um, h-how old are you, you keep calling me kid.”

“Well I’m-” Anne paused, not know how old she was. “To be honest, I have no clue how old I am, but I wouldn’t be a day over nineteen. What about you?”

“I’m twenty-two.” Twilight said.

“Well then, fancy that, you’re the old fart here,” Anne joked, chuckling a bit.

Twilight didn’t find it as funny, but still let out a half hearted laugh to try and not offended her host.

Anne sat down into a more comfortable position as she knew what was about to happen would take a while. “So, Miss Twilight, tell me a little about yourself; why are ya in our little slice of hell?” Anne asked.

“Well, I’m one of the four Princesses of Equestria-” before Twilight could continue she was cut off by Anne.

“So your sayin your royalty?” Anne asked.

“Ummm, yes?” Twilight said uncertainly.

Anne did an over blown mock bow from her sitting position. “Your highness.”

Twilight blushed again. “I don’t really like being referred as a princess, I don’t feel like I can live up to that type of responsibility,” Twilight sighed.

Anne was still in her deep mock bow, head close to the ground with one arm behind her while the other was across her chest.

“C-could you please stop that? You’re making me feel uncomfortable,” Twilight said, shifting around.

Anne got out of her bow and had a cheesy grin on her face. “As you wish, your Highness.”

“Please stop calling me that.”

“As her majesty commands.”

“Please, just call me Twilight.”

“As you wish, Princess Twilight.”

Twilight let out a frustrated sigh as she decided to continue her story.

“Anyway, as I said I’m one of the four Princesses of Equestria, a land where everypony is treated as an equal. There’s Princess Celestia, she is the oldest of the princesses, and raises and lowers the sun, she also picked me to become her personal student. Princess Luna who’s Celestia’s sister and raises and lowers the moon, she was imprisoned in the moon for a thousand years, but has recently come back. Princess Cadence, she was my foal sitter when I was younger and is the Princess of love.”

“Well, isn’t that… ‘Love’ly.” Anne tried to joke, but all it did was make the pony in the shack face hoof.

Twilight let out a groan, bringing her hoof away from her face. “Can I continue without your bad puns?”

“No promises,” Anne said.

“There was also Spike. He’s a baby dragon I hatched when I was just a filly, and is one of my closest friends, and number one assistant. He’s like a little brother to me.”

Twilight let out a sigh, but continued. “One of my assignments from Princess Celestia, was to under see the preparations for the Summer Sun Celebration. During that day, I met my best friends: Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Fluttershy and Rarity. We later found out we were the Elements of Harmony. They were powerful artifacts that have been use to protect Equestria from evil in the past.”

“We went on a bunch of adventures together, and we’re the best of friends,” she said, her mind wandering off to her friends. “I bet they’re all worried sick about me,” Twilight lowered her head, feeling tears building up in her eyes.

“Hey,” Anne said, placing a hand on Twilight’s shoulder. “You’ll get home, I know you will.”

“I hope your right,” Twilight said solemnly.

“Now, get on with the story,” Anne said, ushering on Twilight.

With a sigh, Twilight continued yet again.

“After about two years of living in Ponyville-” Anne let out a giggle and Twilight let out a sigh. “Princess Celestia sent me a spell to work on. It was a long range teleport that would help transport goods from nation to nation without the need for locomotion or pegasi.”

“I worked on it for ages, sometimes skipping meals and sleep so I could work on the spell. But once I thought it was ready, I tried to do the spell, but it messed up and I was transported here,” Twilight finished.

Anne lifted up her hand, “I have a question,” Anne stated.

“What is it?” Twilight asked.

“What you be smokin? Cause I want some.”

Chapter 5

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Twilight was starting to get annoyed. She had been talking to her new companion for the last few hours and though it all she felt like Anne was acting rather rude for something that could perform medical aid. But this ‘human’ was rather dirty like the other ‘humans’ she saw and Twilight was starting to wonder if she’ll get an infection later down the line in her aching back and legs. She has wanted to ask what Anne did but wasn’t able to ask her own questions with the amount thrown her way. After trying to convince Anne about Equestria she knew she didn’t believe her but that didn’t stop her from asking questions though, and half of them made little to no sense to Twilight. ‘Do you use fossil fuel or atomic energy?’ or ‘What types of mutants are there where you’re from?’ and even ‘Have you ever had an Atomic cocktail?

She managed to get down the muddy water Anne gave her with a lot of charm, as Anne would like to say, but was probably because there wasn’t any water that wasn’t just H2O. Anne gave Twilight a tip to make the ‘water’ go down easier, to mix it with the Insta-Mash to give it a better flavor, or as good a two-hundred year old box of powdered potato product. Now, instead of a disgusting powder, she now had a less disgusting lump of mush. Twilight managed to get it down and keep it down, but it required a lot of effort to do so, but that didn’t stop her from gagging.

Now, Twilight was starting to feel fatigue grip her mind, and she still wanted to ask Anne questions. She felt like she explained everything about Equestria, and yet more questions were thrown at her.

“How many cities do you have?” Anne asked.

“In Equestria, there are about sixteen major cities and towns,” Twilight replied in a deadpan tone.

“How many days do you have in a year?”

“Three-hundred and sixty five,” Twilight said with a yawn.

“Oh, you tired?” Anne asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No, I’m fine; I’ve just had a busy couple of days,” Twilight said, trying to hold back another yawn.

“Well if you want any chance of surviving out there you need rest, and lots of it,” Anne said standing up.

“No really, I’m fine,” Twilight tried to reassure.

“I know I’m charming as all hell, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay awake if you’re obviously struggling to stay awake,” Anne said with a small smile.

“Fine,” Twilight said with a drawn out sigh.

“Now, get closer to the fire; I ain’t got anything to cover you up, so it’ll be your only source of warmth here,” Anne said, using her hand to gesture to the old ammo box.

Twilight wiggled herself over to the fire and got in a more comfortable position on her stomach with her forehooves in front of her, and her head rested on them.

“Anne?”

“Yea?” Anne asked, turning from a book she pulled from her bag.

“Thank you,” Twilight said weakly, her eyes slowly closing.

“Don’t mention it,” Anne said with a faint smile on her face.

Twilight turned her head back to the fire and let herself relax at its sight.

Not five minutes later, Twilight was fast asleep.


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Anne slowly regained consciousness. She had fallen asleep slumped over in the small, metal chair, with her face flattened on the book’s pages she was reading. With a sigh, she dropped the book to the ground and let out a content sigh as she stretched. Her back ached from the poor posture she slept in, but that didn’t hinder her for long.

She went out the front door and set something up for Twilight before she woke up. Once she was happy she had done enough she let herself get nostalgic. ‘It seems that everyone does this for injured people they find’ Anne thought, letting out a small chuckle. With a quick eye over she made her way back into the shack.

Anne picked up her bag and strapped it onto her back before placing her longer guns over the bag, pistols in their holsters. Adjusting to the familiar weight she walked over to the old ammo box and the sleeping Twilight. With an evil smile she closed the box with the now dwindling fire and placed the bottom of her boot on to Twilight’s back before giving Twilight a rough shake.

“Wake up your highness,” Anne said with a cheery tone.

Twilight let out a small groan and rolled over to look at Anne. “W-what time is it?”

Anne brought up her Pip-Boy and check the time “It’s currently…. seven thirty,” Anne said, bringing her arm back down.

“Seven thirty? Why did you wake me up so early?” Twilight asked, slowly standing up to her shaky legs.

“Cause Imma gonna teach you how to shoot before I leave for New Vegas,” Anne said, motioning to the door.

“Yo-you’re going to leave?” Twilight asked sadly.

“Yea, I have stuff to do,” Anne said with a shrug.

Twilight looked down. “O-okay,” She said softly.

“Hey, cheer up,” Anne said dropping to a knee and putting a hand on Twilight’s shoulder. “I’ll be out of your hair or whatever you call it soon.”

“It’s called a mane,” Twilight said faintly.

“Now, get up, we’re burning daylight,” Anne said standing up.

Anne led Twilight outside, the latter wincing at the harsh morning sun light, lifting up a hoof to try and block it, but with little result.

Once her eyes adjusted, Twilight was able to make out much more of the surrounding area of the shack and even buildings in the distance. Every so often, Twilight could see a large sign and strange deformed pillars coming from the ground in the far distance. To the right of the shack Twilight could make out what looked like a rollercoaster and a small town. Right next to the door was a strange box like metal contraption slightly buried into the dirt. Not that far away from the shack was a few broken brick walls, and like the large rusted contraption it too was slightly buried in the rough dirt. The road in front of the shack was a broken black stone with some white lines on it and some dead weeds growing through the cracks.

“So do you know anything about firearms?” Anne asked walking down some rotted wooden stairs.

“I don’t even what they are to be honest,” Twilight said meekly.

“Don’t sweat it kid, Imma teach you how to shoot like a boss,” Anne said walking to a spot she marked out with a long stick she found nearby.

One of five sticks she used, each spread about five feet from the next, meant to be markers, all leading in a straight line to the buried plane which had a few Sunset Sarsaparilla bottles stood up on it with a few on the ground next to it. Anne walked to the stick closest to the plane and pulled out a 9mm pistol which Twilight eyed uncertainly.

“Kay, so this is a nine millimeter pistol, as the name says it fires nine mil bullets at a speed of around a thousand feet a second with enough force to penetrate flesh,” Anne said pulling back the slide and letting an unused bullet pop out before removing the clip.

“This is a nine mil bullet, it can fit into many guns but the one we’ll be using hold thirteen per magazine,” Anne said holding up the removed magazine before putting the bullet back into it.

Anne flicked the empty gun’s slide forward before holding out like she is going to fire it at the bottles. “When shooting, you need to stay relaxed and keep your muscles loose, otherwise you’d flinch a lot more and the gun would feel like it has more of a kick,” Anne said, slightly bending her arms and slowly inhaling and exhaling.

“On the part of the gun closest to you is what’s called a foresight and the one on the end of the barrel is called the far sight. What you want to do is try and get the far sight in between the foresight to make sure that you’re aiming in the right direction, then all you need to do then is pull the trigger,” Anne said, dry firing the gun.

She pulled back the hammer and held it out to Twilight. “Here, you have a try,” She said with a reassuring smile.

Twilight’s horn lit up and she unsurely grabbed the gun in her magic, and slowly brought it over to her.

“Okay, that’s fucking cool,” Anne said, gesturing to the floating pistol.

Anne walked held out an arm and gave the pistol a small poke, causing it to move around in midair. “Can you lift me?” Anne said like a small child.

With an annoyed sigh Twilight trained her magic in on Anne and lifter her up about a foot into the air.

“This is fucking awesome!” Anne yelled, arms swinging and legs kicking as she floated.

After levitating her for a few more moments Twilight put Anne down much to her dismay. “Awwwwwww, that was fun,” Anne said, slumping over.

“Weren’t you going to teach me how to use this ‘pistol’?” Twilight said, levitating up the 9mm pistol.

“Aw yea, I almost forgot,” Anne said dusting herself off.

Twilight facehoofed, letting out a frustrated groan. “Can we please move on?”

“Kay, now, as I said just look down the sights then pull the trigger,”

Twilight brought up the gun to her right eye and closed her left as she was trying to aim at the far right bottle on the wing of the plane. She start to slowly breath in and out like Anne showed her then pulled the trigger with a bit of concentrated magic, making the gun let out a small ‘click’.

“Okay, when I put round in it you want to have the gun a bit farther from your eyes or you’ll lose it,” Anne said, grabbing the floating gun before cocking the hammer back again then handing it back to Twilight.

Twilight eyes widened. “It can do that?” she asked.

“Yea, when you fire it when it has a round in the chamber, that’s the area when it fires, it produces recoil which causes the gun to kick back on you and if you have it too close to your eye it’ll take it out,” Anne explained.

Twilight’s ears drooped and she let out a small whimper at the thought.

“Ay, it’s better I tell you now than you find out later,” She stated.

“I suppose that’s right,”

“It’s because it is right,”

With a sigh Twilight did it again, this time with the gun farther away from her face. The gun again went off with a small ‘click’.

“Better, but now I’m going to push back on the gun with around the same amount of force the gun would have and try to hold it steady, but remember don’t try and stop the recoil altogether because it hurts like a bitch and is as hard as hell, but because you’re not even touching it, I don’t really think that’s as big of a problem,” Anne said, placing her hand under the barrel of the gun.

“Now, aim and shoot like before but when you do Imma going to push it back at you,” Anne said, readying herself.

Twilight looked down the sight of the gun and start to breath in and out slowly again before pulling the trigger. But this time when she did Anne pushed back on the gun with lightning quick reflexes. Twilight didn’t think Anne would push back so hard and didn’t grip the gun hard enough, causing her to lose her grip and the gun going shooting at her face. Before the gun hit her face Anne stopped her arm, the gun doing the same.

“Now, if you were firing a live round the gun would have punted your face or whatever you have,” Anne said with a dismissive hand wave of the hand.

“Muzzle,” Twilight corrected, cocking back the hammer like she saw Anne do.

“Okay, try again,” Anne said, liking how fast Twilight was learning.

Twilight got ready again and took aim at the bottle again, breathing slowly in and out before pulling the trigger. Like last time, Anne pushed back onto the gun, but this time, Twilight was able to hold the gun in her grasp.

“Good, again,” Anne instructed.

After a few more dry fires, Anne thought she could move Twilight to the next level.

“Okay, now we’re going to move to live rounds,” Anne said taking the bullets out of the magazine, leaving only one.

Anne grabbed the floating gun loaded the near empty magazine into it before pulling back the slide and chambering the round. “With this, it has become a hella lot more dangerous than before. Only point this thing at another thing if you don’t mind putting a bullet in it,” Anne said.

“Now, aim at one of the bottle and pull the trigger,” Anne instructed.

Twilight went to pull back the hammer, but found it already cocked. She did her slow breathing before pulling the trigger.

‘BANG’

Twilight let out a startled ‘eep’ before dropping the pistol. A small blush on her face as she realized what she did. The main cabin of the plane now had a new small hole near the wing the bottles were rested on.

“Okay, that’s not quite what I expected,” Anne said loading another single bullet into the gun before pulling back the slide.

Twilight aimed up the shot and did all her breathing then pulled the trigger.

‘BANG’

This time Twilight kept the gun in her magical grasp and hit a bottle… just not the one she was aiming at.

“Nice shot; this time I’m loading in a full magazine, meaning I won’t have to load a new bullet every shot, and instead every thirteen shots. Just pull the trigger whenever you want to shoot,” Anne said, putting up another bottle and loading a full mag into the 9mm pistol.

Twilight aimed the gun and pulled the trigger.

‘BANG’

Like last time, the gun stayed in her grasp but she didn’t hit any of the bottle or even the plane at all. Twilight let out a breath and tried again.

‘BANG’

Again, it didn’t hit any of the bottles.

‘BANG’

Again, nothing got hit.

Twilight was starting to get annoyed but still kept on trying, but this time she pulled the trigger more than once.

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

Still, nothing was hit.

“Anne I think this thing is broken,” Twilight said eyeing the annoying object.

“Nothing wrong with the gun; you’ve just got shit aim,” Anne shrugged.

With a frustrated grunt she fired the gun again.

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

‘click’

‘click’

All the yellow glass bottles stood in all their glory, not one any worse for wear. With a groan, Twilight dropped to her stomach, letting the gun drop to the ground. “The stupid things won’t go down,” She grunted.

“Well as they say, practice makes perfect,” Anne said with a shrug.

“I think they’re just impossible to hit,” Twilight said with a wave of the hoof.

“Then watch how I do it,” Anne said, unholstering her 10mm pistol.

Twilight looked up from her prone position to see had stepped back to the farthest stick marker with her gun pointed at the bottles.

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

All three of the bottles on the wing blew up into shards of glass that went everywhere.

“Now princess, if I can hit em so can you,” Anne said with a cocky grin.

With a sigh, Twilight got up, knowing this was going to be a long morning.

Chapter 6

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Twilight’s horn was aching, and her was head throbbing from the continuous use of her horn. Even if the object was light, it still took a lot of energy to keep up.

Each time Twilight hit all three of the sarsaparilla bottles, Anne picked her up much to her discomfort and placed her at one of the other sticks father back. When Twilight asked why, Anne just shrugged and said simply “I need to know if I’m still sane.”

After an hour or so, Anne only had a box of fifty bullets left for the 9mm pistol and deemed that they shouldn’t use any more of the ammo if she was going to give the gun to Twilight.

“Okay, that’s enough, we don’t want to use it up, do we?” Anne said, grabbing the floating pistol from in front of Twilight.

Twilight slumped over with a sigh and began to lightly massage the area of her head around her horn, trying to do anything to stop it from aching, Anne of cause caught sight of this and decided to point it out.

“Is the princess tired?” Anne said in baby tone with pouted face. “Do you need me to rub your footsies?”

Twilight’s face went up with a blush as she shrunk down a bit more. “N-no, I’m fine.”

“Good, Get up! I’m not paying you to sit on your ass,” Anne said slapping her hands onto her thighs.

“Paying me for what?” Twilight asked with a raised eyebrow.

Anne gave an over exaggerated shrug “How the fuck should I know?”

“But you- you know what, I don’t really care anymore,” Twilight said, face planting into the dirt.

A cheesy grin became plastered on Anne’s face, “You know, the dirt around here is radioactive.”

Twilight raised her head off the ground and looked up at Anne with a raised eyebrow. “Radioactive, what does that mean?” Twilight asked.

Anne’s grin only got bigger. “Radioactivity causes stuff like un-natural growths and mutations.”

Twilight looked a little scared now. “What do you mean ‘un-natural growths’?”

“I’ve heard of stories where people have grown a second head.”

Anne barely caught what happened next. One moment Twilight was lying down in the dirt then the next Twilight was nowhere to be seen and Anne stumbled back for an impact into her chest. Anne looked down to see Twilight had hooked herself onto Anne’s torso and held herself off the ground, letting out little whimpers every once in a while.

Anne placed a hand on Twilight and started to slowly pat Twilight’s back, not really knowing what to do with the reaction she got.

“Umm, you alright?” Anne said hesitantly.

That just let out a slightly louder whimper from Twilight.

Anne let out a long sigh. “Look, I’m not gonna lie, radiation is a thing around here and it is fairly common but the thing is that it isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be.”

Still, Twilight said nothing and still held onto Anne’s torso.

“Radiation is all around us, even before it was thrown into our atmosphere, it would take you about a decade if you avoid radiation hot spots for anything to happen, and we have stuff to reverse and prevent the effects like Rad-X and Radaway,” Anne explained.

Twilight finally spoke up. “H-how will you know where a ‘radiation hot spot’ is?”

“Strapped onto my arm is a Geiger counter, it starts making an annoying clicking sound when there’s radiation in the area, and if you fear for your safety, I would like to let you know that it’s gonna be the last thing to kill you around here.”

Twilight let go of Anne and fell to the dirt, landing on her hooves, looking sadden and still didn’t say anything.

Anne now felt awful, she was only trying to joke around but it seemed that her unicorn friend didn’t have the sense of humor as her.

“Look, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” Anne said in a serious tone, something she doesn’t do that often.

Twilight looked up at Anne with eyes that were brimming with tears. With quick wipe with the back of her hoof and a quick inhale through her nose she put on a faint smile. “I-it’s alright,” She said weakly.

“No, no it isn’t, I behaved like a dick and just because you’re trying to put on a brave face doesn’t make it better,” Anne said sternly.

“I-I didn’t know male reproductive organs behaved poorly,” Twilight said weakly.

This caused a slight chuckle from Anne. “It’s a figure of speech here Princess.”

“That’s fairly odd,” Twilight pointed out.

“I bet a lot of stuff her would be odd to you, like the radiation we were just talking about not a minute ago,” Anne said.

Twilight nodded. “That does seem to be the case it seems.”

They stood there in a silence, Twilight looking around unsurely while Anne was swinging her arms back and forth while changing where she stood from her heel to toes until Anne remembered something and clicked her fingers.

“That’s right; we just finished your shooting lesson, and I was about to give you something,” Anne said, taking the 9mm pistol and its holster from her thigh along with the fifty spare bullets it came within clips.

“I’m giving these to you; you don’t seem to have one of your own, so doing my good deed of the day, I’m you this,” Anne continued, holding the equipment out in her hand.

Twilight picked it up in her magical grasp, having it hover in front of her. Twilight eyed the holster uncertainly, seeing how Anne had it clipped around her thigh and not knowing if it would work with her. She was going to ask Anne about it, but saw she was reaching into her bag. After a few moments Anne pulled out a thick brown loop from the bag, which was even thicker at one point.

“There’s also this, I made it for you while you fell asleep, well, when I say make it I mean ripping it from something else but that doesn’t matter now, I never used the jumpsuit anyway,” She said, holding out the strap.

Twilight also levitated the second thing over to her, but unlike the holster, she had no clue what this new thing was used for. Seeming to sense that Twilight had no idea about what to do, Anne stepped in to provide some help.

“The leather strap was a shoulder pad from an old jumpsuit I never used, so I cut it off of it and used some pieces of the cut up jumpsuit as some padding, if you pass it over to me, I’ll help you put it on,” Anne said holding out her hand.

Twilight, confused, floated the shoulder pad back over to Anne. “Why would I need it may I ask?”

Anne grabbed the leather shoulder pad and kneeled beside Twilight and began to fasten the straps to Twilight. “Cause something is better than nothing,” she reasoned.

Anne stood up and looked at her handy work. She spent all of half an hour while Twilight was asleep to take the pad off the jumpsuit and modify it so it would fit onto Twilight safely like adding padding and an extra few securing straps. The pad sat on Twilight’s right shoulder, a strap going on either side of the leg and one going around her torso and around the other foreleg.

“I think I did a reasonable job, it should stop small arms fire,” Anne said, placing a hand under her chin and thinking about it.

Anne held out her hand again. “If you could pass over the holster, I can put that on you as well.”

Twilight floated the holster over to Anne, and she began to secure it around Twilight’s right fore-hoof, pulling a black strap to make sure it was tightly secured before putting in the 9mm pistol along with the spare clips into the holster’s straps.

“There, I think I did a good enough job as any,” Anne said satisfied, dusting off her hands on her armored thighs.

Twilight looked to her shoulder, trying to see the new addition to her body. Like Anne said, the padding she put on made it reasonably soft to wear, even though it was on extremely tight, she could feel the straps of the ‘leather’ pushing into her skin. She could feel the unfamiliar weight of the pistol holster, and the extra ammo on her upper leg.

“Now, the matter of food and water, you’re gonna have to get it yourself, I don’t really have any more to spare,” Anne said with a shrug.

“What do you mean?” Twilight asked.

“I mean that I don’t have enough food to give ya for the road at the moment, I need to buy some more along with some medical supplies, and I ain’t got much of that left either,” Anne explained.

“Oh” Twilight said crestfallen. “I thought maybe I could go with you,” Twilight mumbled.

Anne jabbed one of her fingers into her ears and twisted it a few time. “What was that? I think I might have something in my ear.”

“I said maybe I could go with you,” Twilight said again.

“Yea, it’s definitely you, there’s nothing in my ear.” Anne said tilting her head and giving it a few good smacks.

“I thought that I might be able to go with you,” Twilight said meekly.

“Why do you want to come with me? I’m not the best company ya know,” Anne said.

“I wouldn’t say that, you’re the nicest alien I’ve ever met,” Twilight said.

“Alien? If you want to get technical; you’re the alien, this is my native planet,” Anne said with mock offence.

“But to me, to me anything that isn’t from my planet is considered as an alien,” Twilight pointed out.

“Yes, but at the moment, you’re not on your home planet, meaning that you’re the alien here,” Anne said ,and before Twilight could say anything, she continued. “We’re getting off topic, why do you want to come with me?”

“Well, umm, you’re my only friend here, I don’t know anypony else,” Twilight said sadly.

Anne looked taken aback. “Friend… you think I’m a friend?”

“Well, yea, you’ve been really nice to me. You healed me, you fed me, you talked with me, and you helped me. I think of you as a friend,” Twilight asked confused.

Anne donned a small smile. “Thanks, that means a lot to me.”

Twilight wanted to ask more, but she felt like it wasn’t something Anne wanted to talk about.

“You can come along with me if you really want but don’t feel like you owe it to me,” Anne said.

Twilight had a massive grin on her face, and began to jump around Anne, making little ‘sqwee’ sounds. “Thank you thank you thank you thank you-“

Anne grabbed and stopped Twilight by putting a hand to her mouth. “Please. Stop.”

Twilight had a slight blush and she lowered her ears in embarrassment “Sorry,” she said sheepishly.

“It’s okay, I just don’t think the Mojave can take anymore adorableness than you already brought to it,” Anne said, causing Twilight’s blush to intensify.

“Anyway, I’ll be heading off now, so if there’s anything that you need to grab go get it,” Anne said waving her hand at the shack.

Twilight looked to the run down wooden building, then looked back to Anne. “I didn’t really have time to pack anything before coming here.”

“Good, that means ya got everything. Awesome,” Anne said sticking up a thumb.

Twilight smiled. “So, where are we heading off to?”

“Well in the end, I hope we’ll get to a city called New Vegas, but right now, we’ll be going to a town called Primm; it’s the place with the roller-coaster off in the distance,” Anne said, pointing off in the distance where Primm’s outline was.

“Is it an amusement park?” Twilight asked.

“No, some numb nuts thought it would be a smart idea if they built a roller-coaster in the side of casino to get more money to come in. I ain’t got a clue if it worked or not, but I do know that it sticks out like a sore thumb.” Anne said.

Twilight didn’t know what that meant, but she didn’t push it.

“Sooooo, let’s head off.”

Chapter 7

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“LEFT!”

“LEFT!”

“LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT!”

“I HAVE TWO LEFT HOOVES, YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO WALK LIKE YOU WANT ME TO!?”

“I DON’T CAAAARE! IT LOOKS AWESOME TO WALK IN SYNC!”

“BUT HOW CAN WE DO THAT WHEN WE WALK ON A DIFFERENT NUMBER OF LEGS!?”

Anne stopped over the top march she was doing, mid step. She turned to face Twilight and pointed a finger in accusation at her while slightly hunching over so she could be closer to Twilight’s face. “WELL Y-,” Anne stopped herself, trying to think of a comeback.

Anne stood there, trying her hardest to say something witty but not coming up with anything at all. Twilight was confused, Anne just stopped still and was looking off into space, still deep in thought. Twilight waved a hoof in front of Anne’s face, not causing any reaction.

“Anne? You okay?” Twilight asked.

Anne still stood there, not moving a muscle.

“You’re starting to scare me,” Twilight said meekly.

Anne still didn’t move.

Twilight used the corner of her hoof to poke Anne in the cheek, still nothing happen. She tried again, this time a little harder and like before nothing happened. Twilight, annoyed, brought back her hoof and gave Anne a light slap across the face but still, it got no reaction from the woman. Twilight gave her a deadpan expression before slapping her harder.

Anne blinked a few times before looking at Twilight with a small smile. “What I miss?” she asked innocently.

Twilight face hoofed and let out a groan “You act like you’ve got brain damage sometimes,” she joked.

Anne looked at her with a raised eyebrow, smile disappearing. “And what’s so bad about brain damage?” She asked seriously.

“Is there really anything good about brain damage?” Twilight asked, not knowing what would happen.

“Well no, but what then do you think about people with brain damage?” Anne said.

“All I’ll say is I wouldn’t trust them with anything sharp,” Twilight said tactfully, feeling a little uncomfortable at the way Anne was talking.

“Oh? And why is that?”

“Well, umm, they wouldn’t have the same mental functions as everypony else,” Twilight said nervously.

“So, retarded is what you’re saying?” Anne said, slightly angrily.

Twilight shrunk back slightly. “I wouldn’t use those words exactly…,” Twilight said weakly.

Anne gave Twilight a cold, hard glare. Twilight shrunk back for the sheer ferocity of the stare, not used to this side of the human. Anne shoved past Twilight and started to stomp down the dry and cracked asphalt of the road, wanting anything to blow off some steam.

Twilight felt really bad now. She didn’t know what she did the upset Anne but knew it was something personal. She slowly made her way after Anne, head hung low, knowing Anne would probably need some time to cool off. The stomping of Anne’s boots slowly getting quieter while Twilight let out a small sigh before looking up.

Her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates, and her pupils shrink to the size of pinheads, mentally slapping herself for forgetting what was up ahead.

“ANNE, WAIT!” Twilight yelled, starting to run after Anne.

Anne turned around, her scowl still thick on her face, watching as Twilight started running at her. Her glare faltered as she saw the panicked expression on Twilight’s face. She was going to yell something back before…

‘BANG’

Anne stumbled to the left as she left an extreme amount of pain greeted her from her right bicep. She fell down to a knee and let out a small cry of pain, her left hand whipping onto the area of her arm that was burning with pain.

‘BANG’

‘CRACK’

She knew what was happening and with all her effort she pulled her hand away from her arm and quite awkwardly used her left hand to pull her 10mm pistol from her right thigh. Once it was out she pointed it in the general direction that the bullets came from before pulling the trigger while she turned her attention to her arm.

The bullet hadn’t exited so it meant the lead would still be in her arm, and from the feel of it, the bullet had done something bad to the bone in her arm. Blood was seeping out from the wound, rolling down her arm.

‘FIZZLE’

She looked up to see a lit stick of dynamite land in the dirt near her. Anne closed her eyes; wincing her face for what was about to come. Her one good arm, still with the pistol in it, coming up and covering her face while she crouched down slightly and spun slightly away from the stick.

'BOOM'

Anne stood there for a few seconds, waiting for the pain she was expecting, but nothing came. She unsurely opened one of her eyes to see what happened.

Standing between her and a small pile of smoke was Twilight and around them both was a purple see thru dome that seemed to pulse with light. Twilight’s horn was glowing a similar shade of violet as the done, with eyes shut tight with a look of concentration on her face.

Anne saw that a 9mm pistol was floating shakily in front of her, pointing at a surprised looking Powder Ganger.

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

‘BANG’

Three new holes appeared in the torso of the powder ganger, spraying blood behind him before falling to the rough dirt with a soft thud, letting out a few gargled chokes before falling silent, blood slowly spilling from his mouth.

“Fuck!” Anne said, dropping her pistol to the dirt.

Anne looked to her bicep to see her blood was pouring from the wound profusely now, it rolling down her arm and dripping off her fingers. Biting through the pain she used her left hand to put pressure onto her arm, trying to minimize the blood flow.

Anne turned her head to see Twilight throwing up the half-digested Insta-Mash, quietly sobbing, with the pistol discarded on the ground in front of her. Anne let out a sigh and crouched down next to Twilight, still keeping pressure on her arm before placing a hand on her back, lightly rubbing her neck softly. With a sigh, Anne began to try and comfort Twilight.

“Twilight, I know this isn’t something that could be easy for you; no one, or pony in your case, should have to kill something else. Even if it’s common in the Mojave, it doesn’t make it right,” Anne said, pulling Twilight in a hug which she generously accepted.

Twilight let out small sobs as well as sniffling her nose, tears pouring down her eyes and snot running down her muzzle. They stayed like that for a few minutes, neither one saying anything to the other, Anne knowing that nothing needed to be said while Twilight just wanting to comfort of another.

“I’m a monster.” Twilight sobbed out.

“No you’re not Princess, no you’re not,” Anne stated, patting Twilight on the back softly.

Twilight pushed Anne away from her, looking at her but had her eyes downwards. “How can you say that, I just k-k-killed him,” she struggled out.

“That doesn’t make you a monster. What do you think he was going to do if you didn’t do that? Did ya think he threw lit dynamite at me as a present? He was going to kill me Twilight, he was going to kill me and because you did what you did, I can live to see another day. And because of that I thank you with all my irradiated heart,” Anne said, pulling Twilight back into a tight hug.

Twilight accepted the hug again, her sobs lightening up slightly. And like before, there was nothing said while they embraced each other, well, that was until Twilight noticed something.

“A-Anne, you’re hurt,” Twilight said, pushing away from the hug to see Anne had a small hole in her arm.

“It’s nothing worry about, I’ll deal with it later,” Anne said dismissively.

“But you’re bleeding, that’s not nothing,” Twilight said

“It doesn’t matter at the moment,” Anne said.

Anne reached out with her right arm and grabbed her 10mm pistol, wincing with pain the entire time she did before pushing it into the holster on her thigh “See,” She said with a forced smile.

Twilight gave her a deadpan expression before rubbing the tears from her eyes “You’re not fooling anyone,” She said.

“Be that as it may, I don’t have anything to use,” Anne said with a one armed shrugged.

“Why can’t you use the stuff you used on me?” Twilight asked, remembering Anne using an injector on her.

“I don’t have any left, I used it all on you,” Anne said, making Twilight feel bad.

“Sorry.”

“You’ve got nothing to apologize for; I’m happy it got used for a good cause,” Anne said with a small smile, but before Twilight could say anything, Anne continued. “And besides; they’ll probably be a doctor or something at Primm that can take a look at both of our boo-boos.”

“When you put it that way; we should hurry, I don’t want you to be hurt after all you’ve done for me,” Twilight said, concerned.

“Don’t worry about me, I can take it,” Anne said putting on a forced smile.

Twilight could tell her friend was in a lot of pain, but the only thing she could think of is to help her get to this town Anne was talking about.

The two started to walk down the cracked and broken asphalt road, but in Anne’s case, it was more like hobble, leaving the occasional drop of blood, staining the ground.

Down the road Twilight saw two rusted and bent metal signs above the road.

It was green with dirty white lettering and out lining. The left one had in the dirty writing had the name ‘Los Angeles’ and just under that was the name ‘Nipton’ and to the side of the sign was a thick white arrow pointing upwards. The right sign had the name ‘Primm’ and under that was the word ‘Hotel’ in small lettering and under that is the word ‘Gas’ in the same size writing, and finally to the side of the sign was an arrow pointing upwards right.

“Is that where we’re going?” Twilight asked, pointing at the sign.

“Yep, it wouldn’t take that much longer to get there,” Anne said considerably happily with a bullet in her broken arm.

“We need to find out where a hospital is once we get there,” Twilight said, looking at the area Anne was clutching on her arm.

“Hospitals are rare around here, I’d just be happy with a seamstress if it came down to it,” Anne said, walking on.

They continued onwards towards the town, and as they got closer, they saw more details of the town.

Walls of brick and fence surrounded the part the two of them were approaching; the brick went up about six feet before another four feet of iron spiked fence was on top of the brick part, at the bottom part of the wall is what looked like just rusted and bent sheets of metal covering the first three foot. The road broke off into two different paths later down the road, and one going under a bridge and out of town while the other goes past what looked like a blockade.

“Twilight, I need you to hide nearby, I don’t know who’ll be here,” Anne said calmly.

Twilight felt her heart rate increase, causing it to start thumping in her ears. She felt scared again “What’s happening?” she asked quietly.

“I see a roadblock up ahead and I don’t know who controls it, hopefully it’s someone friendly,” Anne said, continuing down the road, leaving Twilight to find someplace to hide.

Twilight looked around until she spotted a place close to where Anne pointed to earlier, and with a pop from her teleportation spell, she appeared where she wanted instantly.

Anne approached the checkpoint, body as relaxed as she could as not to seem conspicuous. As she got closer she saw a figure start running towards her, she got her one good arm she got ready to grab her pistol. As it got closer she saw that it wasn’t doing anything threatening, it didn’t even have a weapon drawn. The person who Anne could see was a man was wearing a dark brown uniform of some sorts with a picture of a two headed bear with a red star in the top left hand corner painted onto his chest. On his head was a pitch helmet with goggles on its front.

“Hey, this place is locked down, no one gets in or out,” He said holding out a hand.

Anne relaxed slightly “Why’s that?” she asked.

“Convicts that escaped from the prison down the road have setup shop here; we don’t know how the town’s folk are.” He said.

“Why haven’t you cleared them out yet?” Anne asked, knowing that because he’s in a uniform that there would be other like that.

“We don’t have the men or the resources to deal with the situation, but if you think you can provide any assistance go down to the end of the road and speak with Lieutenant Hayes, he in the tent.” He said pointing behind him.

“Awesome, I’ll have a word with him, but before I go, can I bring a friend with me?” Anne asked.

“Umm, okay, but if you want to bring them with you, where are they?” He asked, his eyes darting around.

“I’ll call her over, but I needed to ask because I wanted to know that you wouldn’t shoot her,” Anne said.

“Is she a Powder Ganger or something?” He asked, his hand going down to his hip which held his pistol.

“Oh no, I shoot them on sight,” Anne answered.

“Then what is she?” he asked.

“She a talking purple unicorn with wings,” Anne said offhandedly.

The uniformed man just looked at her blankly before bringing up a hand to rub his temple “I can’t believe I just invited a junkie into our camp.”

Chapter 8

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“Is he alright?” Twilight asked nervously.

“I...think so, he still has a pulse so his heart didn’t just stop on him.” Anne said, removing her fingers from the neck of the prone trooper.

“What happened?”

“I think he just fainted.” Anne answered confused.

Twilight just raised an eyebrow.

“What? It’s not my fault my good looks can knock men out.” Anne said raking a hand through her white hair.

Seeing Twilight’s deadpan expression she dropped her arm back down to her side. “Let’s just go find the guy who runs this place.”

The part of the town of Primm the two were in was across a bridge from the large portion of the rest of the town and like the rest of the wasteland it was falling to ruin from disrepair. The remains of the houses that were on the street were now reduced down to crumbling walls and collapsed roofs. The bent and rusted street lights sat sadly in the radiated sand.

Further down the street, beyond a couple of old wooden barricades, were two large tents next to each other. They were a dusty tan brown color with flaps cut into the sides for windows and doors. Near the tents was a pole with a new looking flag flapping around in the wind. Depicted on the flag was a dark brown two headed bear stood upon a small patch of green, underneath that were the words ‘NEW CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC’ printed above a red bar that covered the whole bottom of the flag, and in the top left hand side of the fabric was a red five pointed star, and anything that wasn’t colored was just white.

Leaning up against a wall close to the tent on the right was another trooper with slightly darker skin and with the goggles over his eyes.

Anne walked up to the man and raised her non broken arm up in greetings.

“Hey, you the guy who runs this camp?” Anne asked.

The man looked at Twilight in confusion, not knowing if he should shoot her or slowly back away. “Why’s a mutant here, didn’t Private Anderson stop you?” he asked.

“He sort of fainted, I swear we didn’t do anything.” Anne said.

“Of cause he did, I knew that something this would have happened eventually.” He said, throwing up his arms.

“Anyway, I’m Anne and my companion is Twilight.” Anne said gesturing to herself and Twilight respectfully.

“Sergeant McGee, NCR's Army 5th Battalion, 1st Company.” McGee said, sticking out his arm for a handshake.

Anne stuck out her left arms and seeing the predicament they were in she twisted her arm around and gripped McGee’s hand and gave it a hard shake. “Nice to meet you, but my arm’s kinda bad, sorry about the shit hand shake.” She said dropping her arm back to her side.

“You should have that looked at, it might go gangrene if left untreated.” He said looking at the bullet wound.

“We were actually planning on that once we got here, is there anywhere that I can find a doctor or something?” Anne asked.

“Well, all we’d be able to do at the moment is a Stimpak, maybe two but that’s it and I don’t think the town has any form of medical center.” McGee said, patting himself over to try and find something in his pockets.

“Here it is.” He said, pulling out an oddly shaped injector before handing it over to Anne.

Anne took the injector before bring it to her arm and bringing it back. “Wait, could you do something for me and uh, take my short friend here behind a building or something then come back and help me, my arm’s a little worse than it looks.” Anne said putting the blunt end of the injector in her mouth before wincing in discomfort as she took off a glove from her right arm.

Twilight looked back and forth in worry at Anne fumbling around with the needle. Twilight wanted to help, she really did but she didn’t know what she could do.

“Come along… unicorn.” McGee said “I don’t even know why I’m talking to a mutant.”

Twilight’s ears folded down, turning her head back around as she was ushered away to see Anne had put her thick glove in her mouth and held the injector just above the bullet hole in her right arm.

Anne stood there with her glove in her mouth as she waited for McGee to return. Once Twilight was out of sight McGee made his way back around from behind the old crumbled brick building and walked up to Anne. “So what do you need me to do?” He asked.

Anne took off her back and started rummaging around through the pockets “Well, as I hold my arm still my hardest I need you to use this-” She said holding out a spoon. “-to scoop out the bullet or something, I don’t want that shit in me any longer than it needs to be.”

Anne and McGee walked over to a rotten wooden table near the front of the tents before Anne sat down on the seat built into it with her right arm stretched out upon the old wood, making her wince in pain at the movement in the damaged limb.

“Kay, now just scoop around and take out the bullet while I tried not to fall unconscious.” Anne said, putting the leather glove in her mouth and putting the needle on the table.

McGee got ready across the table, one arm holding the slightly bent spoon while the other help hold Anne’s arm down to reduce movement. He looked at Anne for conformation and when he got a hesitant nod he moved the spoon down.

Anne jolted in pain as the cold metal of the spoon entered the oozing bullet wound on her arm, screaming through her teeth as she bit into the glove with all her might. She could feel the spoon move around inside her as it tried to find the lead bullet in her. Anne could feel as the metal slightly ripped her skin open to allow room for it to fit.

“I think I got something.” McGee said, trying to pull out the thing he felt the spoon bump up against.

“PHF DA FUFA OUF!” Anne yelled through her glove.

After a few moments McGee finally got what he wanted out only to find it was a small chip of bloody bone. “Damn, it wasn’t the bullet.” He said, flinging the small shard of bone to the side.

Anne let out a whimper much unlike something which she would normally do as McGee dove back in.

Three more attempts were made before the bullet was finally taken out.

Anne, nearly unconscious from all the pain slightly bent her bicep back into the position it was meant to be in before grabbing the Stimpak injector and jamming it just above the hole, watching as the wound knit itself back together.

Once it was all over Anne was panting as she felt the violent throbbing change to a numb ache in a matter of moments. Blood was covering her arm along with the hands of McGee with the spoon still in his hand. “You good?” he asked.

“Yea, I-I think so.” Anne said, rotating her shoulder to see how it moved.

Anne reached back into her bag with her left arm and pulled out a handful of small bent pieces of metal before holding it out as he head fell to the table.

“Just take my caps, I’m too tired to give a fuck anymore.” She said.

McGee gave Anne a small nod of the head before walking back off the where he was before.

“PRINCESS! YOU CAN COME OUT NOW!” She yelled with as much volume as she could muster.

Anne didn’t look up as she head a pair of a pair of footsteps makes its way to her. “A-Anne, are y-you alright?” She heard Twilight ask worriedly.

“No, I feel like fermented shit, but my arms better than before though, no longer bleeding but I still lost a fair amount of it in the first place.” She said with a dismissive wave off her hand, not even bothering to lift her head from the table.

“I-I heard you…” Twilight said looking down.

“I should’ve asked for some Med-X or something, that hurt like hell.” Anne said. “Anyway, have a seat; I’m not ready to do anything at the moment like this.” She finished, patting the area next to her.

Twilight hesitantly climbed upon the wooden bench that was a little too large for her before sitting down.

After a few minutes of silence Anne lifted her head up and looked at Twilight. “How do you sit like that?” she asked confused.

“What do you mean?”

“You know, how can you sit like that, you limbs or hooves or whatever didn’t look like they bent that way.” Anne tried to explain.

“Our hooves can bend this way, always have.” She answered.

“But wouldn’t your hooves bend the wrong way if jump to hard or something?”

“Nooooo, I don’t think you know how hooves work.”

Anne’s head fell back down and let out a thud as it did so. “Ya know what? Let’s just talk with Hayes or whatever.” She said, pushing herself off of the table.

The two walked over the tent on the right before opening the door flap.

“Wrong tent.”

They opened the flap to the tent on the left before Anne stuck her head in to make sure. The tent was rather bland compared to the rest of the camp. It had a pair of metal shelves up against the far wall of the tent, nearly barren except for a few boxes. To the sides were two dirty mattresses on the dirt ground, and in the center of the tent was a small circular table with a chair next to it. Sat at the table was a man wearing a uniform that looked a lot like the uniform worn by the other troopers, it had a mesh material of sorts across the chest with a picture of the flag Anne saw outside on it and on his head was a small dirty green beret. Leaning on a wooden pole in the side was a female trooper wear a uniform that looked much like McGee’s besides the helmet that wasn’t to be seen.

“Are you the one I’ve heard yelling?” The man asked.

“Well yes, that was me, I had a bullet stuck in me and I didn’t like it there.” Anne said stepping in, putting a hand out to stop Twilight from coming in just yet. “You mind if I take a seat?”

Before he could answer Anne grabbed a seat in the corner of the tent. “I hear that you have a convict problem and it just so happens that I need to talk with a few of the residents about an asshole I need to find.” She said sitting on the seat backwards with her arms crossed on the back rest.

“Are you offering to help with the problem?” He asked with a raised eyebrow. “Because that’s what it sounds like to me.”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying my good sir, I can help clear out the convicts and get the town back under control on one condition.” Anne said happily.

“And what condition is that?” Hayes asked.

“That asshole I mentioned before, if he’s in the town I want to be able to put him six foot under no matter who he is to you without any repercussions.”

“I think we might be able to do that, but if it’s anyone too big for the NCR all I can do is look the other way for a few minutes.” He said.

“Sounds fair, I’ll get right to it now if you don’t mind.” Anne said, standing up.

“I’ll just be here if you need to talk anymore.” Hayes said.

Anne walked out of the tent to see an annoyed looking Twilight sat in the dirt looking at her. “Why couldn’t I come in?”

“Cause I didn’t want to go through all the explanations about who your are, we have shit to do and we were just lucky with the last two people.” Anne said with a slight smirk, remembering the unconscious troop down the way they came. “Now come, we have a town to save and bodies to loot.”

The two walked up to the small makeshift booth near a broken bridge, looking at the surely unsafe metal sheets that were used to do shoddy repairs. Twilight started to walk across the bridge slowly until she heard a soft set of beeping.

Anne’s eyes widened and as quickly as she could she grabbed Twilight by the scruff of her neck before yanking her backwards and huddling over her prone form.

BOOM

Anne could feel small bits of rock and metal bounce off of her back as the mine’s explosion went off.

“Fucking hell.”

Chapter 9

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“I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT WORKED!” Anne said fist pumping into the air.

“What even were they? They looked like just blinking lights.” Twilight asked, walking up to the small smoldering holes.

“They, my royal friend, were mines, something that’ll fuck with us a lot in the future. If I didn’t stop you you’d be missing a few legs and we don’t really have the stuff to help with that.” Anne said.

“What did you do exactly?”

“I threw a rock at it.” Anne said with a matter-of-fact tone, with a smug smile.

“I know that but what did that do?”

“Well with mines they are activated by a proximity charge, meaning that you get too close and they blow up in your face. They are mainly put in places that are in need of defense but they don’t have the man power to do so or looters put them on a trail so when they go off they just walk up and well, loot the bodies.” Anne explained.

“But why?”

“Because of a well know saying here in the Wasteland, ‘Why the fuck not?’”

“But that doesn’t answer the question.”

“Precisely.” Anne said, throwing the handful of left over rocks to the side as she walked past the confused Twilight.

They walked across the rickety bridge, the metal bending inwards slightly from their combined the weight, making a soft creaking sound. They walked a few moments down the cracked road before Anne looked at her Pip-Boy and looked at it’s screen and held up a fist as she crouched down. “There are a few chumps up ahead, we need to be careful, be quiet and stay behind me.”

Twilight’s ears folded down as she slowly followed behind Anne as they walked against the wall of one of the two large buildings in the town. Being inside the main part of the town Twilight could now see in more detail the front of the largest building. Besides the large roller-coaster build into it’s back the building had a few large wooden signs with rusted metal rims holding the wood together, probably the only reason its still in one piece, and something odd about the signs is that they were in the shape of a buffalo with the words ‘BISON STEVE’ in curved flashy font. The building itself was a lifeless cracked gray with dirty and dark windows covering the whole face of the walls. To their right was a grouping of three buildings, all of which old and run down but the furthest one from the had in large yellow lettering reading ‘MOJAVE’ across the front and ‘EXPRESS’ on the side, both of them sticking out the top of the blocked building. A person was slumped at the bottom of the building wearing a set of dirty clothes and a tan satchel, blood from the bullet in his forehead dried up after it ran down his face and chest along with the splatter higher up the wall and the smear when he fell down. Across the road from the grouping of buildings was an off white casino with circular pillars built into the walls for esthetic purposes, a small ledge of sorts covering the walkway under it with defined windows all along the upper walls. The corner the two were approaching was cut out and the doors built into it were covered with old planks of wood and pallets. A sign with stylized lettering read the name of the casino.

‘VIKKI & VANCE’, one name above the other.

Anne and Twilight slowly rounded the corner, the human at the front as Anne carefully stuck her head around the corner before bring it back.

“I can see two of them; one leant up against the wall while the other’s pissing around the road, I’ll take them out but I need you to make sure no one sneaks up behind me.” Anne whispered as she un-holstered the sturdy caravan shotgun from her back.

“I-I’ll try my best.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be doing most of the work.” She said with a reassuring smile which didn’t calm Twilight in the slightest.

With almost expressionless ease Anne jump out from around the corner and trained her barrel at the man in the middle of the road, just walking back and forth with his varmint rifle across his back while kicking the at the gravel with the tip of his leather boot.

With a quick twitch of her finger a 20 gauge shell went off and down the barrel of the shotgun and peppered the convict down the street with buck shot.

“GAH!” He exclaimed as small holes opened up all over his body, falling backwards as he clutched his stomach which took the brunt of the damage.

Just as the other convict who Anne jumped next to pulled up his 9mm pistol and pointed it at her Anne grabbed her arm and pushed it upwards, the gun pointing above her as it fired. With the shotgun still in her right she jammed the barrel to the man’s knee and fired the remaining shell.

The leg from the knee down was blown away from the rest of the body, the now one legged convict falling down to his face and falling unconscious from all the damage done, the blood stump of his right leg still bleeding profusely.

When he fell to the ground Anne grabbed her shotgun in both hands, bringing her right leg up before throwing back down, pushing the shotgun down on her knee for more force. The stomp landed accurately onto the downed convicts head, a sickening crunch rang out and his head slightly caved inwards. With a few more stomps the head was reduced into a thick and chunky lump of gray matter and bone, the rest of the body still twitching slightly.

Anne turned her attention to the other person as she heard a pained grunt. He was slowly propping himself up with his rifle as he clutched at his gut, blood gushing from between his fingers and down his front.

Running over to the injured man she pulled out the machete from her left hip as she kicked the rifle to the side, causing the convict to fall down to his side before rolling to his back, face contorted in pain.

She spun the bladed weapon in her grip before thrusting it downwards, cutting through the low quality of the clothing her was wear and through his chest. The convict went limp on the blade as Anne pulled it out of his chest, a clean cut across where his spine would be located.

Anne flicked the machete to the side a few time before wiping it on the dead convicts back to clean the blade, before sheathing it back at her side.

The woman took a few deep breaths as she looked down to her shaking hands, trying to calm down as the adrenaline in her system wore off. With deep sigh she wiped off the light layer of blood from her armor.

She walked back over to her shotgun and picked it back up, loaded fresh shells before putting it back onto her back.

She turned around to see a vomiting Twilight, only small amounts of bile coming out from the emptying her stomach received earlier.

“Princess, you alright.” She called, jogging her way over to the pony.

Twilight’s answer was in the form of a gagging sound as she tried to throw up her empty belly.

Anne kneed down next to her as Twilight and patted her on the back as she finished up.

“You get it all out?” Anne asked.

“As much as I think I could.” She said, coughing to clear her airways.

Anne gave a soft smile. “Would you like anything to help get rid of the taste?”

“I don’t think any of the water you gave me before would do much.”

“I have other stuff you know.” Anne said, pulling of her pack and fishing around in it.

“Wait, you had other drinks and yet you still gave me muddy water?” Twilight asked with mild irritation.

“Well yes, but still no clean water, I can only offer you this.” Anne said, pulling out a brown glass bottle with a worn yellow label with the word ‘SUNSET’ visible on it. “It’s called Sarsaparilla, it’s a type of-“

“I know what Sarsaparilla is, we had it in Equestria.” Twilight said deadpan.

“Well, would you like it or should I put it away for a rainy day.” Anne said, jingling the bottle in front of Twilight’s muzzle.

Twilight’s glow of magic surrounded the glass bottle as she pulled it out of Anne’s hand before popping the cap off, the drink not making a fizzle from the years for it to lose it’s bubbles.

Twilight brought the rim of the bottle to her nose before giving it a small sniff, trying to see if there was any, even if it was just a small amount, of mud in it while Anne just started to laugh at the caution.

“Well I’m sorry if I don’t trust half the stuff you put in front of me.” Twilight said before taking a sip of the drink.

The sweetness of the Sarsaparilla greeted her much to the relief of the pony, the sugar getting rid of the bad taste in her mouth from the repeating vomiting her experienced. She swallowed the mouth full and relished in the liquorish aftertaste.

Twilight looked side to side as she didn’t see any bins around where she could put the bottle cap, bringing the drink back up to her mouth. Anne, without saying anything, plucked out the cap from midair and pocketed the cap in a pouch on the side of her bag.

Twilight pulled the bottle away from her mouth. “Why did you just put that in your bag?” She asked.

Anne thought about it before a massive grin entered her face. “That would be telling, but just give me any caps you might find, for now let’s just say I collect them.”

As Twilight was drinking the Sarsaparilla Anne walked over to the guy leaning against the wall with the bullet in his skull, patting him over for anything useful. Finding a small paper note in one of his pockets.

“HEY PRINCESS, I FOUND SOMETHIN!” She yelled.

“What is it?” Twilight said, the empty bottle floating next to her as she tried to stay clear from the body.

“It’s a note, maybe something important.” Anne said as she unfolded it, her slightly bloody fingers staining the paper.

“Mojave Express delivery order four of six

Instructions

Deliver the package at the north entrance to the New Vegas Strip, by way of Freeside. An agent of the recipient will meet you at the checkpoint, take possession of the package, and pay for the delivery. Bring the payment to Johnson Nash at the Mojave Express agency in Primm.

Bonus on completion: two hundred and fifty caps.

Manifest

This package contains:

Two bracket the number two bracket, yea I don’t even know, oversized dice, composed of fuzzy material

Contract Penalties

You are an authorized agent of the Mojave Express Package until the delivery is complete and payment has been processed, contractually obligated to complete this transaction and materially responsible for any malfeasance or loss. Failure to deliver to the proper recipient may result in forfeiture of your advance and bonus, criminal charges, and slash or pursuit by mercenary reclamation teams. Mojave Express is not responsible for any injury or loss of life you experience as a result of said reclamation efforts.” Anne read out.

“Why would he…” She hesitated as she looked at the body. “Be carrying fuzzy di? And why did he get k-killed in the first place?”

“I don’t know, but it was definitely for the dice, I had to deliver something a lot like this and I was attacked for what I had.” Anne said, rubbing the tender scar above her eye.

“Y-you were attacked?”

“Of cause I was, is that so hard to believe? You were with me when I was shot not half an hour ago.” Anne said.

“Were you carrying fuzzy dice as well?” The pony asked.

“No, I had to carry a single platinum poker chip, and I know these are connected because this says delivery four of six, but mine said six of six.” Anne answered, rubbing her chin in thought.

Anne stood up from her crouched position next to the body. “Come on, let’s go, we should try to find this Johnson Nash and see if we can find out two things.” Anne said, walking toward the Vikki and Vance casino.

“And what are they.” Twilight said, following Anne and avoiding the headless body of the dead convict and staying even further from his leg.

“Well one of them is to find out why I was carrying around a small gambling chip halfway across the Mojave.” The woman said, reaching for the door.

“And the other?”

“Well the other is to see if anyone’s still alive in this place.” Anne said, pushing open the door.

A chorus of clicks was heard by the two.

“Well that answers the second one.” Anne said, holding her hands up half-heartedly.

Chapter 10

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“Easy everyone, we’re not with the convicts out there, Lieutenant Haynes got us to help clear the place out for you guys.” Anne said worriedly.

“I don’t know who you are youngster, but you should just turn around and go back where you came from, the towns gone to shit.” An old man said, holstering the revolver in his hand. All the other people who were pointing guns at the two lowered them and walked away to whatever they were doing before.

He was wearing dusty work cloths with a pair of goggles around his neck. His wrinkled face darkened from years of being out in the burning sun, his eyes drooping with age.

“Who are you?” Anne asked.

“The name’s Johnson Nash, my wife is Ruby Nash, we’ve lived in Primm for almost eight years now, thick and thin. I’m a trader primarily, for what it’s worth the way things are. I also run the local Mojave Express Outpost.” Johnson said.

“I’m a courier with the Mojave Express.”

“Well, I don’t got any work right now, sorry to say.”

Anne looked around nervously as he cheeks reddened slightly. “I may have lost a package I was supposed to deliver.” She said, swinging her leg back and forth slightly.

“I’ll tell you whatever I can, do you have a delivery order you could show me?” He asked.

“What can you tell me about this job?” Anne said, pulling an old and crinkled note from a pocket on her hip before giving it to Johnson.

“Oh, so you talking about one of them packages. That job had strange written all over it, but we couldn’t turn down the caps.” He said, reading over the note.

“What was strange about it?”

“That cowboy robot had us hire six couriers, each was carrying something a little different. A pair of dice, a chess piece, that kind of stuff. Last word I had from the office, it looked like payment had been received for the other five jobs, guess it was just your chip that didn’t make it. First deadbeat we hired to do the job canceled. Hope the storms from the Divide skins him alive. Well, that’s where you can in.” He said with a sigh.

“He canceled?”

“Yea, got this look when he saw your next down on the Courier list. His expression turned right around, asked me if your name was real. I said sure as lack of rain, you were still kicking. Then he turned down the job, just like that. I asked if he was sure, it was good money. No, let ‘Courier Six’ carry the package, that’s what he said, like the Mojave’d sort you out or something. Then he just up and walked out.”

“Do you know who he was? Where he went?” Anne asked hopefully, that person knew who she was, she needed to find out who he was.

“No idea, sounded like you two had a history for him to act like that. And turn down the money too. Hope he didn’t see any trouble in that package of yours. Maybe he thought your name was bad luck, not for me to say.”

“Some men stole my package, a man in a checkered suit and some thugs, did they pass this way?” Anne asked.

“Well now that you mention it, a few nights back one of the townies was out scavenging for supplies. He said he saw a fella with a daisy suit come through with some of them Great Khan misfits, they were talking about a chip.” Johnson said, rubbing his chin with a hand.

Anne glanced over at Twilight who had kept quiet the entire time they were talking. “They attacked me, I need to know the best way to get to them.”

“Well for that your best bet would be talking to Deputy Beagle. Since they came to town he was keeping a good bit of notes on them, and he was slinking around Bison Steve when your pretty-boy friend came through. He may have heard where they were going.” He said.

“Thank you for your time, I’ll go find Beagle and clear out any convicts I find.” Anne said, turning around and walking out the door.

Johnson now focused his attention on Twilight, confused on what she was. “T-thank you.” She said before following Anne.

Johnson stood there with a confused expression on his face, not moving until her muttered under his breath. “Age has not been kind.”

Anne and Twilight walked away from the Vikki and Vance Casino and over to the Bison Steve, the large building towering over the two like ants. “Ok Princess, two ass holes can’t take over a town, there’s going to be a lot in here so keep your guard up but be careful not to shoot me in the back.” Anne said, pulling her 10mm pistol from its holster.

Anne took a few steps back before running forward and kicking the door open, the old wood splintering and cracking from the force, the double doors swinging open as Anne rushed in.

A surprised looking convict was standing there with his varmint rifle in one hand and a cigarette in the other stood behind makeshift cover made from upturned tables and moved benches. With three twitches of the finger two new holes appeared in his torso, falling backwards in pain, letting out gurgles.. After a few moments another surprised looking convict ran around the corner up ahead of the two with a tire iron in his hand. He looked down to his bleeding friend then up at Anne still holding her pistol outwards. With a yell of rage he charged.

Anne entered Vats as she aimed three shots at the man’s head before activating it. With only a single bullet the convict’s head jerked back before he stumbled a few more steps then fell down, dead before he even hit the floor with a new hole where his eye used to be.

Anne pressed a button on the side of her Pip-Boy, a green light illuminating the darkened building with a pale green light and looked around at the foyer of the hotel and casino. To the left was a large boarded up doorway, a few old chairs and a bin, and to the left was what could have been a reception desk before the building was abandoned, a large chunk of the roof having had fallen down and made a large pile of rotten wood and plaster. On the reception desk were a few pieces of paper, the lettering worn from time, a few broken lamps with green shades, a still functional computer terminal and to the side was a door.

The human woman jumped over the desk and started to look around it after holstering her pistol on her thigh. Finding no drawers of any kind she decided the try and pick the locked door next to the counter. She crouched down and looked over the lock and sighed.

“W-what’s wrong?” Twilight asked.

“I can’t pick this door, it would be impossible for me to do it.” Anne said, standing back up and walking over to the computer terminal.

“What are you doing?” Twilight asked in wonder, watching Anne press buttons on the keyboard.

“I’m trying to hack into this terminal, hopefully it’s linked to the door locks.” Anne said, typing in the debug protocol to try and hack into the hardware.

Twilight watched as words and symbols flew across the screen, trying to work out what it all meant and how Anne knew what she was doing. “We don’t have these in Equestria.” She stated.

“That makes sense, you need fingers to do this.” Anne said, wiggling the appendages in question.

Two large columns of words and symbols appeared on the screen as Anne read them over. “Well, this is going to take a while.” She said with an annoyed sigh.

As Anne started to look through the junk data a bullet whizzed over her head, causing her to duck down, hands still on the keyboard.

Twilight, without thinking about it, pulled out the 9mm pistol on her leg out of the holster and pointed it at the convict still cocking the bolt on the varmint rifle in his grasp.

Twilight fired five bullets from her gun, only one hitting the intended target in the leg just below the left knee, causing him to fall over, grabbing the open bullet wound.

Anne quickly pulled out her own pistol and fired three bullets at the groaning body, silencing him forever.

“Come one come on.” Anne said urgently, beeps heard from the computer before two light beeps were heard. “Yes, I’m in. Disengage lock.”

A small click was heard from the door as Anne walked over to it before twisting the handle, the wooden door opening with a rusty squeak.

On the wooden floor was the burnt human skeleton wearing a torn and tattered blue dress, one of the arms on a table and the rest on the floor. Anne looked around, to the right was an old set of metal shelves, filled with cans and burnt books. In front were to cabinets with the doors missing, one of which was half filled with more shelves. To the left was an off white fridge, built into the wall was a safe with a small glowing cyan light with the turn dial up it and to the left of that was another set of shelves will a medical box on the center one. Anne grabbed a small bronze key that was in the edge before pocketing it. She walked over to the medical and opened it. Inside was an empty syringe, two Rad-X bottles, both almost empty, a Steady and a Stimpak. She grabbed both the Rad-X and the Stimpak injector and put them into a pocket on her bag. Under the shelf the box was on was a small metal tin with the word ‘MENTATS’ on its yellow cover. Twilight was busy looking over the cabinets with the shelves, picking up the 9mm pistol on its side in her magic grasp.

“I found another pistol like mine Anne.” She said, not knowing what to do with it.

“Just leave it there, we don’t need any more guns at the moment.” Anne said, looking through the fridge.

Twilight floated it back where it was before picking up the three needles on the same shelf. “I found some needles.” She said.

“How big are they?” Anne asked, putting the bottle of Sarsaparilla and Nuka-Cola into her bag.

“Their small and straight with a kind of window on the side.” She described the needle.

“Grab it, it’s Med-X, it’s a type of painkiller.” Anne said, reaching over Twilight and grabbing the bottle of Rad-X on the shelf above the one Twilight was looking at, above her field of view.

Twilight crouched down slightly to look at the shelf at the bottom she found four bottle caps. “I also found some more of the bottle caps you wanted.” Twilight said, levitating all four of them up.

“Thank you.” Anne said, grabbing them from midair along with the Med-X needles and putting them in her bag.

Anne took a quick look around the room. “Okay, I think we picked this place clean.” Anne said, leaving the room.

Anne pulled out her pistol again and ejected the almost empty clip before loading another full one into it before racking the slide. ”Follow my lead.” She said, crouching down pistol at the read.

She walked over to the door way the two convicts walked from stepping over the dead bodies, pressing her back against the wall, before sticking her head out slightly, looking down long hallway, and the lack of light making it look like it would go only forever, only being able to see a few old couches and chairs.

“Clear.” Anne said, walking around from behind cover, still crouched down as she pointed her gun down the hall.

She walked a few feet and saw another door way with a small black plaque pointing at it, reading ‘Gift Shop’.

Once the two walked in Anne holstered her pistol and let out a tired sigh. “And the quest for loot begins again.

Chapter 11

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Anne and Twilight walked out of the near empty gift shop, a few pre-war books and a teddy bear now inside Anne’s bag along with a few caps they found around the room.

“Okay, now let’s get back on track.” Anne said, taking the caravan shotgun off her back and putting the butt up to her shoulder.

The two slowly crouch walked down the hallway, leading to a larger room with and elevator on one side and a bluish door on the other. After looking over the elevator which the button of which was broken they wondered to the blue door, finding it locked.

“Wait a sec.” Anne said, taking the key she found in the locked room from her bag. “Let’s see if this works.” She said in a hopeful tone.

The human put the key in the lock and twisted it, resulting in a soft click. “Yes.” She said silently with a quick fist pump.

Anne pushed open the door with the muzzle of her gun, finding a long hallway ending with a caved in roof, paint peeling off the walls and ceiling showing the old wood and plaster underneath, an old light hanging from the ceiling, flickering every so often with a slight static sound. As they slowly walked down the hall Anne held up a fist, stopping in place before turning to Twilight.

“One of them is wondering around here.” She whispered as softly as possible as she turned off her Pip-Boy’s light. “Hold this.” She finished, holding her shotgun out to Twilight.

Twilight carefully took the weapon from Anne’s grasp with her magic before she levitated it in front of her face, looking over the scattering firearm.

Once she felt the gun leave her grip she pulled the machete on her hip out of its sheath and pumped herself up, peering around the corner to see a convict walking up and down the hall way, board expression on his face and a caravan shotgun in his two-handed grip.

When he was close to the corner the two were at Anne sprang into action. With rapid movements she leapt from behind cover, the convict’s once board expression now replaced with one of shock and surprise.

The man brought up his gun to take a shot at Anne but from the close proximity they were in Anne stopped it with a quick back hand, flinging the gun to the side with a small clang. Now with one of his arms out to the side while the other was across his chest Anne brought back her machete and with a quick swish sliced it across the convict’s neck, spraying her face and the wall to the right with a thin line of blood.

The convict started to let out gurgling sounds as his mouth filled up with his blood, clutching at his neck to try and stop the bleeding. He fell to his knees as the blood started to freely run down his front, staining his cloths. Anne brought back her leg and kicked the bleeding convict in the head, the now unconscious man falling back with blood still squirting from his neck.

Anne spat some of the blood that made its way into her mouth to the side before wiping her mouth with the back of one of her arms and flicking her machete to the side with the other.

Anne, making sure the man was dead by tapping him with the tip of her boot, crouched down and started rummaging through the cadaver’s pockets, taking the few caps and twenty gauge shotgun shells from his body and leaving the rest which consisted of an empty needle and an old plastic spoon.

“Come on, let’s get going.” She whispered while crouch walking back around the corner before grabbing her floating gun from the air.

Anne and Twilight started to slowly walking towards the end of the hallway, entering into an unused kitchen.

The most dominant feature of the room was a tied and bound man knelt to the side of the room with a dirty mattress behind him, he was looking down in what Anne could guess was fatigue.

Ignoring the rest of the room Anne approached the while she still approached the man, him looking up to see Anne sneaking her way to him and hiding herself behind a table from the doorway at the other end of the room while still visible to the man.

“I don’t suppose you came here to rescue me? I’d cross my fingers but my hands are numb.” He said quietly.

“You must be Deputy Beagle.” Anne replied just as quietly.

“Why, yes I am. It’s a pleasure to mee- is that a unicorn.” He asked, looking at Twilight as she sneaked behind the table Anne was situated behind.

“Ignore her till we’re out of here.” Anne said.

Deputy Beagle shook his head before continuing what he was saying. “As I was saying, it’s a pleasure to meet you. But as you can see I’m in a bit of a predicament here. I’d be most appreciative if you’d set me free.” He said, gesturing to his bound wrists.

“I hear you may have information on some Khans that came through here with a guy in a checkered suit.” Anne said, not moving from her position.

“Indeed I do good ma’am, and I would be thrilled to share that information with you as soon as I am released from captivity.” He said.

“Show me your binds.” Anne said, pulling her machete from her hip, getting annoyed how much she has to use it.

Deputy Beagle presented his hands out as Anne pushed the blade down into the ropes which were put into strands moments later.

“Oh that’s just marvelous. I think I’ll be making my way outside now, the air’s a little close in here.” He said, standing up to shaky legs.

“If you try to run away instead of fighting at my side I’ll kill you myself.” Anne threatened, pointing her machete at him.

Twilight whimpered.

“O-oh, why, uh, of cause. I would never let you fight my kidnappers with my help. Uh, without it! You lead the way.” He said nervously.

Anne, Deputy Beagle and Twilight slowly made their way to the doorway at the other end of the kitchen, leaning against the wall, Twilight and Anne on one side and Deputy Beale on the other. Anne looked at the deputy and held up three fingers while mouthing the numbers themselves.

Anne pulled out her pistol, turning her head to look at Twilight to see that she had done the same. Anne looked over at the deputy to see that was standing there with a confused expression and empty hands. Anne face palmed before taking the varmint rifle off her back and chucking it towards him which he caught.

Anne started the countdown again, this time making sure that everyone was ready with a weapon on hand.

On the number one Anne let out a war cry as she jumped out from around the corner she was hiding behind, Deputy Beagle following soon after along with Twilight.

With a mad smile was a convict stood facing the doorway with an Incinerator pointed at the three. On either side were two other convicts with varmint rifles and at the back was a younger looking one holding a lighter and a stick of dynamite at the ready.

“Ummm, could we try this again?” Anne asked hesitantly.

“Well you’re here, we wouldn’t want to inconvenience you.” The one on the left said, a maniacal smile on his face.

“We wouldn’t want you to miss the barbeque.” The one on the right said, just as creepy smile on his face.

“IT’S GONNA BE HOT!” The leader yelled, a ball of fire launching from his Incinerator.

The flaming projectile preformed a small arc in the air before impacting into Anne’s chest, flinging her backwards into the kitchen’s table, sliding across the top’s surface and knocking everything off of it, and falling off the other side with a soft thud sound.

While Anne was flung away Twilight and Beagle dove back behind cover, Twilight looking over to Anne’s limp body and Beagle putting the butt of Anne’s rifle to his shoulder breathing in and out to calm himself.

Twilight shook her head and turned her attention away from Anne and floated her pistol up again. Once that was done she poked the barrel of the gun around the corner and started popping off shots in hope of hitting something.

The convicts also had the same idea as they shot bullets at Beagle and Twilight, little chips of plaster and dust being thrown in their faces as they tried to return fire but did little with the occasional fire ball flying past and impacting the walls near Anne was lying underneath, still unmoving.

“MOVE UP, I WANNA SKIN THESE FUCKAS!” The leader said, shouting at his fellows.

One of the adventurous feeling convicts ran up towards the doorway only to be shot in the shoulder by a 5.56mm round, the bullet imbedding in the skin and bone.

“GAH!” He yelled as he fell to the side, clutching the bullet hole.

Before he could get up Twilight looked around the corner and fired the remaining four rounds into the groaning convict, silencing his pain forever.

Twilight tucked back behind cover as a bullet impacted the wall just next to where her head was a moment ago, her face turning a sickly shade of green as she swallowed the bile in her throat.

“KILL THEM MUTHA FUCKAS!” The leader yelled as he launched a large barrage of flaming projectiles at the walls the two were hiding behind.

“I’m out!” Beagle yelled as he looked over the rifle in his grasp.

As Twilight was fumbling with a new magazine for her pistol she turned her head to see Anne was now up again, a grim expression on her face as she held a grouping of the three strange red sticks she has seen explode in one hand, a black smear on her chest with small amounts of flame covering the surface along with one of her shoulders and the shin of her right leg. In the hand that didn’t have the dynamite she dropped two small needles which Twilight remembered Anne calling Med-X.

“Hey, dipshits, have a light?” Anne yelled as she held the fuses of the explosives to the small fire on her chest before pitching all three out the doorway.

No sooner had they landed on the ground all three of the sticks detonated with a loud bang, the shocked body of the leader falling to the ground and his head landing soon after, the other gun totting convict not faring much better, Deputy Beagle stumbling back as a small intestine impacted with his face.

“ANNE!” Twilight yelled as she ran over to her burning friend.

“It’s not over yet.” Anne said as she stormed over to the shaking convict, still holding a stick of dynamite which he dropped as soon as he saw Anne stomping over to him.

On the way Anne pulled out the machete from her belt and brought it back as she reached the convict.

“WAIT, DON’T!” Twilight yelled as she ran after Anne.

The machete stopped mere inches from the convict’s neck who was holding up his hands in a form of surrender.

“What!?” Anne said in an angered tone, slightly scaring Twilight as she turned to face the pony.
“P-please don’t kill him.” Twilight said.

“And why is that?” Anne replied, voice not changing.

“He didn’t do anything.” Twilight tried to reason but she just didn’t want to see her friend kill another person when she was like this.

“And that means he should live.” Anne asked, still angry.

“Please, for me.” Twilight pleaded, tears forming in her eyes.

Anne looked between her crying friend and the shaking convict before she sheathed the machete, and turned away.

Before quickly turning back around and punching the convict in the face, a soft crack sounding out as his nose broke, blood pouring down the now stumbling convicts face.

“Fuck you and get out of here before I finish the job.” Anne yelled.

The convict didn’t need to be told twice as he ran as fast as his legs could carry him. Anne turned around again and started storming off back into the kitchen.

“Anne.” Twilight exclaimed as she chased after the woman.

“Yes.” Anne replied as she started looking through the kitchen.

“About what just happe-“

“We don’t need to talk about it.” Anne said as she opened a broken fridge.

“I think I need to bring something up.” Twilight said as she looked at Anne worriedly.

“And that is?” She said as she looked at Twilight, still leaned over in the fridge.

“You’re still on fire.”

Chapter 12

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“Hey Anne?” Twilight called as she looked through a medic box bolted to the wall of the kitchen.

“Yea Twi- watch it!” Anne tried to answer but turned her attention to Beagle who was busy bandaging her burnt body.

“I’m trying my best.” Beagle hissed as he was finishing tying the last strip of gauze around Anne’s bicep.

Anne had be able to peel her light metal armor off the top part of her body and had Beagle help her cover up the second and third degree burns over her torso. Her once only slightly dirty white hair tied into a bun behind her head was now shoddily cut to get out the burnt parts.

“I think I may have found clean water.” Twilight said, floating out a slightly crumpled plastic bottle of clear water.

“Chuck it here.” Anne said, holding out a hand.

Twilight threw the bottle to Anne as she caught it and looked it over. “Yea, that’s purified water alright, nice find, drink it now if you want.” Anne said, throwing it back at Twilight.

Twilight felt like offering it to Anne but due to the fact that the only water she had in the past few days was more like mud she fumbled to open the cap before greedily gulping down the clean water, stopping moments later because of a coughing fit.

“Easy there, it’s not going anywhere so take it slow, it’d probably be the cleanest stuff you’ll drink for the next few weeks.” Anne said, hissing as Beagle wiped an alcohol covered rag over a bad looking burn.

Twilight smiled sheepishly as she began drinking again but this time much slower, making sure she didn’t choke.

“Beagle, we going to go clear out the rest of the building.” Anne stated.

Beagle stopped bandaging Anne and looked around nervously, fidgeting slightly. “S-sure.” He said, fearing for his life.

“That’s what I wanted to say, go wait outside for Twilight and I and we’ll talk later.” She said, patting him on the shoulder as he let out a relieved sigh.

“Thank you.” He said softly, continuing his treating of Anne’s burns.

She spoke a little loader so Twilight could hear her clearly. “That means that you and I princess need to go upstairs and do some spring cleaning.” Anne said.

“You have spring here too?” Twilight asked, wondering what to do with her now empty plastic bottle.

Anne held out a hand at Twilight for the empty bottle which the pony handed over. Anne spun the empty water bottle in her hand before casually tossing it to the side. Twilight followed the bottle’s path as it bounced off the table and to the other side of the room.

“Aye, but no one can really tell, it constantly seems like summer here.” Anne answered.

“And done.” Beagle said, wiping his hands on his sides as he stood up.

“Much obliged.” Anne said, standing up.

All of the burns on Anne’s body were now covered in old brown rags made from the matrasses in the main room the now dead convicts were once in, a large bandage going across the whole top half of her torso, a smaller one around her bicep, and a last one around her left hand. Knowing the discomfort she was about to experience Anne grabbed the sides of her peeled back armor and started to slip it back onto her body. “God, I feel like I’m made of leather.” Anne said, rolling her shoulders.

“Shouldn’t you stop wearing that thing while you’re recovering from the burns?” Twilight asked with worry in her tone.

“Yep, but a few scars won’t stop me, unless they cause me to lose all my limbs, that’ll just slow me down a bit.” Anne said, grabbing her bag and slinging it over her shoulder, wincing as the strap dug into her slightly burnt shoulder.

Twilight didn’t look convinced but decided to go with it for now, she didn’t know how much humans could take and from the way Anne handled the bullet wound before it seemed like they could take a fair amount. Thinking about it Twilight wondered how many bones they had in their body, was it a lot or not that many? With every human having a lot of fingers they would have had quite a few. What about the muscles? How many of those do humans have?

“Hello, Anne to Twilight, you there?” Twilight was brought out of her daydreaming by Anne snapping her fingers in front of her muzzle.

“Yea, I’m here, I was just thinking.” Twilight said, shaking her head.

“Thinking about what?” Anne asked, sitting herself on the kitchen table.

“Umm, thinking about human’s anatomy.” Twilight replied.

“What part? Circulatory system, skeletal system, respiratory system, digestive system, muscular system.” Anne paused for a bit before wiggling her eyebrows at Twilight. “Reproductive system?”

Twilight blushed, blurting out the first thing that came to mind. “Skeletal!” She yelled. “Yes, the skeletal system.” She finished, looking around nervously.

Anne smiled brightly, jumping off the table and holding her arms out. “Well I’d be more than happy to tell you about that.” She said, clearing her throat.

“Fourteen bones make up my face, a cranial bone surrounding empty space, no that’s not right it protects my brains now where was I let’s start again.” She sung, her voice going higher than she normally talked.

“Twenty-two bones under my hair, three osicals inside each ear, the highway bone is in my throat, who knew that let’s make a note.”

“Twenty-six vertebrae in my spine, twenty-four ribs in this chest of mine, my sternum keeps them all apart, they protect my lungs and my heart.” She sung, pointing at her different parts of her body as she did.

“Two bones in each shoulder, front and back. Three in each arm, it’s the muscles I lack. Eight carpals make up each of my wrists and five metacarpals make our list. Twenty-eight phalanges in our fingers and thumbs, forty-four bones left, still not done. One cox is a hip, one femur’s a thigh and two patella’s or kneecaps, my oh my.”

Anne lifted up her leg and slapped her calves. “Tibia and fibular in each shin, tibia’s fat and fibular’s thin. Each ankle has seven tarsal bones, twist them sprain them, hear them groan. Ten metatarsals in the balls of my feet, twenty-eight phalanges in my toes, that’s so neat.”

“How many bones is that you ask? Well add them up and complete the task.”

“Two hundred and six.” Twilight finished.

“Wow, I can’t believe I was able to remember that.” Anne said, letting out a sigh and slumping down to the floor.

“Do you know one about muscles?” Twilight asked, having enjoyed Anne’s improvised song.

“Nope, just that one, but come back to me in a few months and I might have something.” Anne said, rubbing her face before looking at Twilight. “Now, are we going upstairs or not? My back’s starting to feel a little bit cramped.” Anne said, emphasizing her point by stretching her back, a series of loud popping sounds.

Twilight winced slightly at the noise. “I guess, what are we going to find up there?”

“Convicts, that’s a given, and hopefully a bunch of loot, I haven’t been paid for the past few days and we’re starting to run low on medical supplies and caps, and without caps we can’t get any of the medical supplies we need.” Anne said, walking over to her discarded varmint rifle and taking out its empty magazine.

“I’m starting to run out of those bullet things for my… gun thing.” Twilight said, pulling out her gun from its holster and pointing it at Anne for her to look at.

Both Anne and Beagle ducked as the pistol was pointed at them, the female of which felt her hand reach down to her own gun but stopped when she gripped its handle. “Whoa, be careful where you point that thing.” Anne said, letting go of her own gun’s grip and grabbing Twilights floating pistol.

“What? I’m not going to pull the trigger thing.” Twilight asked confused.

“But we didn’t know that, for all we knew could have been trying to paint the walls with our brains. Rule number one of trigger discipline is never point a gun, loaded or empty, at anything you are not one hundred percent sure you’re ready to shoot at.” Anne said, looking over the gun, finding that two bullets were left inside.

Twilight’s ears flattened down, slinking back slightly. “S-sorry.” She apologized.

“Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.” Anne said, holding out the gun in her grasp back to its owner. “And for your ammo problem, I’m sure one of the guys I… well, blew up might have some nine millimeter rounds on them, just have a look in their pockets.” She said as the gun was floated out of her hands.

Twilight’s grasp on the gun faltered as it fell to the ground, clanking as it did. “W-what?” She stuttered.

“Look them over, take anything that’s useful.” Anne elaborated.

“B-but isn’t t-that wrong?” Twilight asked uncertainly.

“Well yea, it is, but masturbating is wrong but we all still do that, isn’t that right Deputy?”

“Fuck you.”

Twilight would have responded if it wasn’t the massive blush on her face and the fact she was trying to hide behind her mane.

“Now, if you done with asking questions start trying to find the right caliber ammunition you need, remember, nine millimeter, anything bigger it won’t fit and anything smaller will just fall out.” Anne said, walking into the large room filled with the convicts corpses.

Twilight hesitantly followed her into the room, having to turn her attention away from the mush that was once trying to shoot at her.

“I think I might have overdone it a bit with the explosives.” Anne said, rubbing the back of her head.

“That’s an understatement.” Beagle said, walking past the bodies and leaving the two.

“Which part of them do you think would have the most stuff on it?” Anne wondered aloud, thinking if it would be better looking over the solitary leg or the small pile of entrails.

“I don’t think I can do this Anne.” Twilight said, swallowing down the bile rising in her throat.

“You’re going to have to learn to put up with it if you’re going to be in the Mojave for any extended period of time. I’ll give you a tip, and this may sound cliché but just try not to think about it. I still get sick to my stomach whenever I have to shoot, stab or kill someone, no matter how long I’ve been doing it, the best thing you can do is just try to forget about it and it’ll help you sleep better at night.” Anne said sadly, kneeling down in front of Twilight, resting a hand on her shoulder.

Twilight stood silent for a few moments before letting out a large exhale. “I-I’ll try my best.” Twilight said, turning her attention to the fullest out of the dead bodies and approaching it.

“Wait.” Anne said, going over to the body Twilight was stood near before kneeling down and closed the dead convict’s eyes. “You never want to look the dead in the eyes.” Anne warned.

Twilight nodded slowly and looked back at the body, its bloody stump where its knee was once having stopped oozing blood a while ago. Magically Twilight began pulling things from the convict’s pockets. A broken plastic spoon, an empty needle, a few of the caps Anne wanted her to get and a half filled box of the bullets she needed, leaving the first two on the dead convict. Once done Twilight couldn’t be more relieved, she all but sprinted away from the corpse back into the kitchen, hyperventilating. Once she calmed herself down she grabbed the nearly empty magazine and began to put the new bullets into it.

“Hey, Princess, take a look at this!” She heard Anne yell from the main room.

Twilight turned around, confused at first but then giving the woman a deadpan expression. “Really? Isn’t that a little big for you?”

Anne couldn’t help but give Twilight a massive smile, looking over the incinerator in her two-handed grip. “I at least want to try this out.” Anne said, a small flame springing to life at the end of the incinerator’s barrel.

“Oh, this is going to suck.”

Chapter 13

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The upper floors of the Bison Steve were probably worse off than their lower equivalent. The wooden floor having gone darker with old age and stains covering its surface, random scraps of paper scattered every now and again. A sparking Nuka-Cola machine against the wall to the girls left, its sparks bouncing off nearby walls.

Adjusting her grip on the incinerator Anne turned to the right and began to walk down the hall, Twilight close behind with her 9mm pistol floating besides her head. Barely after turning both of the companions stopped mid stride as a convict did the same on the other side of the room. Nigh instantly the convict’s arm shot down to his holstered pistol and with as much speed a bullet lodge itself into his stomach and a large ball of fire soon after. Burning fuel covered his body as he let out a scream of pain before falling down limp.

Anne looked over the weapon in her arms, smiling happily as she looked over the slightly battered tool. “You and I are going to get along swimmingly.” She said, stroking the side of the weapon.

“Are you… talking to that thing?” Twilight asked uncertainly.

“If I’m friendly with it it’ll serve me better.” Anne replied, whipping off some of the dirt built up on the weapon's surface.

“I don’t think it’s alive.” Twilight said, her eye being drawn to the left where a locked door was. “Hey, there’s a door here.” She finished, walking over to it.

“Let me see.” Anne said, following her.

Anne crouched down as she looked over the lock, resting the incinerator against the wall as she hummed to herself. Twilight looked on as Anne pulled out a screwdriver and a small pin. “What are you doing?” Twilight asked.

“I’m picking the lock.” Anne replied, putting the bobby pin into the top part of the lock and the screwdriver at the bottom.

“How do you do it?”

“Well, I need to arrange the pins on the inside of the lock and while I do that slowly twist the screwdriver to see if it twists and if not, move the pin around till I find the right positioning.” She said, small clicking sounds coming from the lock.

Twilight watched as Anne constantly moved around the pin, it starting to bend unnaturally before it snapped with a soft crack. “Shit.” Anne muttered under her breath.

Reaching into her pocket she pulled out another pin and began to work again.

In the end it took seven bobby pins to open the lock, the broken pins scattering the wooden floor. “Ah ha, I knew I could do it.” Anne exclaimed, stretching her back as she stood up.

“How many more of those pins do you have left?” Twilight asked worriedly.

“Three.” Anne replied blandly, enter the room. “Hello, what do we have here?” She finished.

The room itself was small, very small, it was more of a broom closet than a full-fledged room. In the room there were only two sets of shelve, one holding a first aid box and the other set holding doctor’s bag and to the left was another first aid box on the wall. Anne immediately grabbed the doctor’s bag and began to stuff it into her larger bag and while she was doing that Twilight looked through the first aid boxes. Once Anne was done Twilight held out to her a bottle of purified water and an oddly shaped needle which had three different chambers filled with chemicals.

“Nice find Princess, I’ll just put this into the pack and we’ll continue on.” Anne said, holding out one of her hands.

Twilight floated the needle and bottle into Anne’s hand before Anne put them away into her bag. They did another quick look over of the room before they both left, Anne picking up the incinerator as she exited through the door.

The only doorway that continued forward split of into two ways, one to the right that runs into a dead end caused by a collapsed roof and the other way connecting to a sharp corner. Anne stomped around the corner while Twilight followed behind worriedly, gun still at the ready.

Turning around the corner the two saw a smoking convict leaning against the wall, a pistol in his other hand. Before either one of them could do anything the convict dropped to a knee and fired a salvo of four bullets at them.

One of the bullets hit Anne directly in the shin, causing a small metal ‘pang’ before bouncing into a nearby wall. But even though the bullet didn’t penetrate the armor it did cause her leg to jerk backwards half a foot and making her loose her foot and stumble into the wall while all the other bullets missed and hit the wall behind them. While this was happening Twilight sent her own barrage at the convict. The first bullet went wide, hitting a light on the wall and shattering its light bulb into shards of glass, the second one found its mark in the convicts arm and the final one impacted with his skull with loud squish as his brain became mush.

Once she managed to get her footing secure again Anne saw that the convict was dead with skull reduced by a large amount. “Well, at least we minimized their numbers.” Anne said, shaking her slightly aching leg while Twilight looked at her with a slightly green expression, swallowing down her bile in her throat.

No sooner did she say that three convicts came running around the corner at the end of the hall. “I spoke too soon” She finished under her breath.

As quickly as she could so she wasn’t slow to the draw again Anne fired as quickly as she could with the incinerator, large balls of burning fuel spraying down the hall. The closest two convicts got it the worst, fire covering most over their bodies while the other one ducked back behind the corner he came from before the fuel reached him. The two burning convicts stopped after a few moments as their hearts stopped from the strain. The untouched convict stuck his head around his cover and fired his varmint rifle once before ducking back.

Meanwhile Twilight dove back behind the corner they came from while Anne stood in the open, firing a ball of fire every so often to keep the convict in cover as she slowly backed up to get to Twilight. Anne quickly took a position next to Twilight as she reached her cover. “I think I we might need to lay down some heat on these guys.” Anne said, peering around the corner as she saw four new convicts burst from the doorways, firing at the top of Anne’s head.

Anne quickly pulled her head back, wincing as dried plaster cut into her face. One of the larger piece reopened the wound above her eye. While Anne was rubbing away to blood that was going into her eye Twilight floated her gun around the corner and fired blindly down the hall.

“Shit!” A voice yelled. “The gun’s possessed!” They continued before letting out a yelp of pain and falling to the ground with a bullet in his knee.

“Y-you okay Anne?” Twilight asked worriedly as she looked at the bleeding Anne.

“I’m fine Princess.” She replied, wiping away some more blood from her eyes, smearing red across her forehead before hefting up her incinerator. “But now I’m going to have some fun.” She said with a wicked grin.

“We’ll bash up the place, burn off their face, and I’ll have fun.” She sung madly, turning her head and giving Twilight her grin. “Ah we-a blaze the fire, make it burn dem!”

The crazed woman jumped around the corner, her finger twitching on the trigger of her weapon and spraying balls of burning fuel all down the hall, still singing. “We bash up the place, burn off your face, you should run.” She yelled over the screams of agony. “I end your life with da fire.”

Twilight looked around the corner to see that Anne was still shooting fire down the hall, the walls, ceiling and floor were hardly visible from the inferno that was raging, and Twilight could even feel the heat from across the hall. She could faintly see the crisp bodies for the convicts scattered down the hall, no bullets coming at them from them. “Anne!” Twilight yelled. “You can stop now!”

Anne stopped firing, the evil grin still on her face as she looked at her handy work. The roof at a thick layer of black smoke covering it and staining the old plaster, the walls almost entirely charred with only a few of the original cream brown color and the floor which was once covered in stained and rotten carpet was now reduced to crumbling charcoal, looking rather unsafe to Twilight. And what made Twilight’s stomach churn were the smoldering bodies covering the floor, the smell of their burnt flesh filling the hall.

Twilight did her best not to gag at the sight of the black and flakey skin but she couldn’t stop herself from empting her mostly empty stomach again, little more than bile coming out this time.

“If you’re going to chuck every time we kill a bastard I’ll have to blindfold you.” Anne said offhandedly, whipping away blood that began flowing down into her eye again.

Twilight was still hunched over with her mouth open while letting out little gag sounds as small bits of stomach acids came out. “W-who came up w-with something so-“ Twilight was cut off as she began gagging again.

“I ain’t got a clue, but it’s effective.” Anne answered, looking at the bodies of the roasted convicts. “Now come on, let’s look the place over, it’s starting to smell.” She finished, turning and walking down the hall the away from the bodies, seeing that a wall stopped it after two doors.

Walking down to the last one Anne brought back a leg and gave the old wood a hard kick, the rusted lock giving little to no resistance as it flew open.

The room much like the rest of the building was in shambles. The ceiling above the bed had given way and covered it almost entirely, only a little bit of the frame still showing under the pile of old wood and plaster. At the bottom on the bed was a wooden dresser with broken glass windows on it, nothing could be seen inside. To the left of the door was a metal table with a wooden top, said top had a broken green lamp, a telephone, empty bottles of whisky and burnt out cigarettes. There was a book shelf with the only remaining books falling off and destroyed. At the other side of the small room was a bathroom, a sink, bath and toilet covered in dust and stains. Anne let out a sigh and left the room, moving onto the next.

She opened the door much like the first one, with the bottom of her metal clad boot. The room was almost inaccessible, the entire roof having had falling and taking the room above with it. Everything was destroyed and made a large pile in the middle of the room.

Anne left the room and went down the hall where the convicts came from, stepping over their bodies. Twilight, having finished her throwing up teleported after Anne as she didn’t want to go anywhere near the bodies.

This hall was exactly like the other, dirty carpet, flaking wall paper, crumbling roof. The first door to the left was opened and was totally blocked up with rubble, nothing could be seen. The next room was destroyed, but not entirely, the roof was angled in such a way that one could walk up it to the floor above. Deciding to look into that later Anne continued to walk down the hall, walking past a sparking Nuka-Cola machine.

The next room had nothing of note in it so they moved onto the next, turning the corner to another hall. “This is starting to get repetitive.” Anne observed.

Busting open the next door the pair saw a burnt skeleton knocked over in a chair, blood staining the carpet under its head. On the table it was once sat at was a note, which Anne picked up and read aloud for them to hear.

“Mister Petersen. If you want to see your wife alive again, bring the cash in small unmarked bills to the Bison Steve on Tuesday.” She read.

“So they were a ponynapper?” Twilight asked uncertainly.

“It sounds like that, and it looks like he got his just deserts.” Anne said, looking distainly at the corpse before walking out of the room, Twilight falling soon after.

The next two doors were boarded off and blocked so the only one left was at the end of the hall. Kicking at the door Anne found it didn’t budge. Trying again came up with the same results. Sighing Anne crouched down and pulled out her screwdriver and bobby pins.

“Um, am I aloud a try at this?” Twilight asked, knowing what Anne was about to do.

Anne turned her head and looked at Twilight, smiling internally at the thought of something she could tease Twilight about her being better. “Sure, here.” She said, smiling as she held out the items.

Looking at the lock Twilight didn’t grab the tools, instead letting her magic flow into the lock, a soft click sounding out. Hoping that was good Twilight twisted the handle and pushed the door, it opening with a soft squeak. She looked at Anne who was still holding out her lock picking tools too dumb fuddled to know what to do, her idea of picking on Twilight going out the window.

“Umm, Anne, you okay?” Twilight asked.

Anne blinked a few times, standing up and putting away the bobby pin and screwdriver and walking into the room. “Yea. Just didn’t think you could do it.” Anne confessed.

“Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.” Twilight deadpanned.

“No problem.”

Twilight let out an annoyed sigh as she followed Anne.

The room was slightly larger than the others, but still in no better condition. On the room’s bed was a skeleton wear the remains of a blue dress, blood staining the mattress under its neck. With a sad sigh Anne walked further into the room while Twilight looked at the body sadly.

“There’s another in here.” She heard Anne’s voice call from the bathroom.

Twilight went to her friend and saw a skeleton was in the bath, an arm dangling out the edge and over a small puddle of dried blood and a pile of needles, none used, and a small knife. Anne knelt down and picked up the drugs from the floor before putting them into her pack. “I think I know what happened.” Anne said, looking down sadly.

“What?”

“They were probably once a couple, sharing a room on a holiday or something, hoping to get rich in Vegas probably. Then either two things happened, one is that the atomic bombs came and to spare his love the pain he slit her throat while she slept and came in here and cut his wrist and bled to death, dying before the atomic heat killed them. Or the other is the man got doped up on drugs and killed his girl, not wanting to live with himself her killed himself, I prefer the first one to be honest.” Anne said sadly.

“At least she died peacefully.” Twilight tried to reason.

“But he would have known he was the one to end her life.” Anne pointed out.

Twilight let out a sad sigh, walking out of the bathroom.

“Now, let’s get to the next floor, I for one think this floor is bone-chilling.”

Chapter 14

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“Want one?” Anne asked, holding out a slightly crumpled packet of cigarettes, one of them already in the corner of her mouth. The two were in the inside the gift shop, Anne sitting of the counter while Twilight was trying to pick a locked safe built into the floor.

“No thank you, I don’t smoke.” Twilight answered nervously.

“You sure? They’re meant to calm you down after something that gets your heart pumping.” Anne asked, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a small scratched up silver lighter.

“I’m fine.”

“Your loss.” Anne said, flicking the flint wheel and making a small orange flame come smoothly out of the top, holding it up to the end of the cigarette.

Anne flicked the top of the lighter back down, killing the flame before replacing it back into her pocket along with the cigarette packet. Anne held the filter between two of her fingers as she took a drag, exhaling a small plume of smoke. Mere moments later she hunched over and started coughing like mad, making gagging sounds.

“Anne? You alright?” Twilight asked worriedly.

“God, this tastes like shit. Who thought that these things were a smart idea?” She asked to no one in particular.

After a few moments Anne brought the cigarette back to her mouth and took another drag, slower this time but that didn’t stop her from coughing.

“Are you sure that you should keep doing that?” Twilight asked unsurely.

“Nope.” Anne said, trying her hardest not to cough again.

With a hoarse sigh Anne threw down the half used cigarette and ground the butt with the heel of her boot. “Now, how much longer is this going to take?” Anne asked, hopping off the table and walking behind Twilight.

“I don’t know, this one is harder than the other one.” Twilight said, trying her hardest with her magic to move around the pins inside the safe but she was having no luck in the matter.

“I’ll just do shit with the loot we found.” Anne said with a bored sigh. “Now, hand me your gun so I can clean it and stuff.” Anne finished, holding out her hand.

Twilight pulled out her 9mm pistol out and floated it into Anne’s waiting hand. “Would you be able to give me the things you used when you did this?” Twilight asked.

“Sure, here ya go.” Anne said, reaching into one of the pockets on her person before pulling out three bobby pins in a small box and a screwdriver and handing them to Twilight. “Be careful not to poke an eye out.” She joked.

“I’ll be careful.”

Anne turned her attention to the 9mm pistol in her hands, small scratches on it showing its use over the years. Twilight meanwhile was trying to remember how Anne did it, putting the screwdriver at the bottom and pins at the top. Using her magic Twilight began fiddling around the pins, feeling things give inside the locks while others took a little force to do.

Snap

“Damn.” Twilight said under her breath as she pulled the two broken pieces of the bobby pin out from the lock, before replacing it with a new one.

“How’s your head Anne?” Twilight asked, not looking up from her work.

“It’s scabbing, it stopped bleeding. It also burns but the painkillers flowing through my blood are still lingering after the fight with the convict’s hot head leader.” She said, pulling out the worn firing pin for the gun in her hands before flicking it away and replacing it with one off a gun of one of the dead convicts.

“So those needles you used were painkillers?” Twilight asked, the lock starting to twist stiffly.

“Yea, so if you find any more of them just tell me so I can put them with the rest of our chems.” Anne replied, picking little bits of hardened dirt off of the inside of a slide.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Twilight heard a small metallic click come from the safe’s lock as the door became ajar slightly. Letting out a relieved sigh and relaxing her tense back as she slowly opened the lid. Inside the safe was a vast array of different items. There were a lot of needles inside. Stimpaks, Stimpaks that are attached to a small leather belt, a small metal tin with the word Mentats on the top, an orange inhaler, two of the multi-chamber injectors. And finally a .357 magnum revolver, with a white handle with a black three leafed clover on it, the barrel and cylinder were black with gold decorations, and to finish it off was a small silver plaque with the word ‘Lucky’ in curved writing.

Anne let out a whistle as she looked over at Twilight, putting the half disassembled 9mm pistol and walking over to the opened safe and peering in. “Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle, you found something of value.” She said.

Twilight looked at her questioningly, turning her head to look at Anne. “Aren’t you female? How can you be an uncle?”

“It’s a figure of speech.” Anne said. “Now, are you going to take that piece out of there? I wanna have a closer look.”

“Piece of what?”

Anne gave Twilight a deadpan stare. “The gun, hand me the gun.”

Twilight levitated the decorated revolver to Anne, grinning sheepishly with a small blush on her face. Anne gripped the handle, looking over the golden trims around the gun and the marble white grip. With a quick flick of her thumb a small flap at the back of the gun popped open, exposing the tubes which the bullets were placed into. “This, my royal friend, is a point three-five-seven magnum revolver, and from the looks of it, in extremely good condition.” She said as she spun it in her hands. “Do you want me to show you how to use it?”

“Umm, sure, can’t be much different than my one right?”

Anne let out a small chuckle. “First off, this gun is special, it has a name and everything.” She said, indicating to the plaque on the gun’s barrel. “This type of gun is referred to as a revolver, it has a revolving ammo cylinder, hence the name.”

“Now, it uses a different type of ammo than your old gun, it fires point three-five-seven magnum rounds, it hold six shots before you have to reload so it’ll need to be done more often than your old one. Hand over the box of ammo.” Anne said, sticking out her empty hand.

Once the box was floated into her hand she opened it and looked in, seeing that it was half full Anne noted to herself she’d need to buy more bullets for the new firearm. Taking six rounds out she slipped one into the still exposed bullet chamber before spinning it and adding another bullet, doing it till the gun was fully loaded. “Now, with this type of gun would be able to get through much more than your nine mil.” She said, flicking the cover back over the chamber and cocking back the hammer.

Pointing the gun at the roof she pulled the trigger. Unlike the ‘bang’ Twilight’s 9mm pistol or Anne’s 10mm pistol the .357 revolver made a ‘crack’ instead, causing Twilight to jump backwards in surprise. “Every time you shoot you’ll need to cock the hammer back otherwise it won’t fire so it’ll shoot a little slower than a nine mil unless you know how to use it.” She continued.

Anne held out the pistol and in quick succession brought back the hammer with her left hand, looking like she was rubbing the top of the gun before pulling the trigger and letting a bullet impact the wall across the room from the two, doing this till the gun ran out of bullets.

“It will shoot as fast as you can cock it.” Anne said calmly, picking another six bullets from the box and popping open the small latch, exposing the bullet’s camber.

“To reload the gun flick this open and tilt it back, just let the spent cases fall out and put a new one in.” She continued as she reloaded the weapon before holding it out for Twilight to take. “Have a go, and just to give you a word of wisdom, it’ll have a harder kick so you might need to hold it a little harder.”

Giving Anne a stiff nod she floated the gun over to herself. Twilight hovered the gun in front of her muzzle she took a deep breath and slowly pulled the trigger. After a few awkward moments she pulled back the hammer, a soft click sounds as she gave Anne a sheepish grin and chuckle. Again, taking a deep breath she slowly squeezed the trigger.

CRACK

THUD

“GAH!” Twilight exclaimed as the recoil caused the gun to kick into her muzzle.

Dropping the gun Twilight brought both her hooves to nose and pressed onto the forming bruise, letting out little whimpers. Meanwhile Anne was busy clutching her sides as she rolled on the ground laughing.

Once she managed to get her breathing under control she whipped a tear out of her eye and looked at the glaring Twilight. “I don’t even know what to say, I can’t think straight.”

“Meh nuze iz harting an your laffing!?” Twilight exclaimed, still clutching her nose as a small trickle of blood worked its way out.

“You sound like an idiot.” Anne chortle out, starting to laugh again.

Twilight tried her hardest to glare at Anne but the woman was rolling around again. With a frustrated grunt she kicked Anne in the side of the ribs, causing the woman to let out a small yelp of pain. “Hey! What was that for?”

“Far laffing at meh wile I bleding!” Twilight exclaimed.

“But I didn’t do it!”

“Ba you still laffed!”

“What do you want me to do about it? I don’t have any tissues so you’ll just have to bleed out.” Anne said with a shrug. “Now stop complaining so I can strap the new holster to your leg.” She continued, reaching into the opened safe and pulling out the black leather harness.

While Twilight was slowly getting the bleeding Anne was tightening all the straps needed to attach Lucky’s holster onto Twilight’s leg which didn’t have the 9mm pistol holster on it.

“I think it stopped.” Twilight said unsurely, softly tapping at her nose to see if there was still any wet blood left.

“Good, that means we can leave now.” Anne said, picking up the dropped Lucky and putting it into Twilight’s new holster.


_________________________________________________________________________


Even though the two were in the Vikki and Vance casino before they didn’t really take time to absorb the sights. The insides of the building were built around a large hall room, an old blue car sat on display in the center, totally covered in bullet holes and with a skylight above it, shining it in natural light.

Looking around Anne caught sight of the leather armor wearing deputy sat at an empty Roulette table. Approaching him Beagle lifted up his head and gave them a light smile.

“Well, that was quite an adventure. We taught those convicts a thing or two didn’t we?” He said. “Breaking myself out of a hostage situation – not to diminish your role in it, of cause – but it was quite thrilling.” He continued, getting a flat expression by Twilight and Anne. “Problem is, there’s still no law in Primm. What're we to do the next time ruffians menace us and hold us hostage?”

Anne looked to Twilight then back to the deputy. “What are you talking about? You’re the sheriff now!” Anne exclaimed.

“Oh no! I'm just the deputy, and I can't be a deputy without a sheriff. It's called chain of command.” He said.

Anne let out a sigh. “What are the qualifications for a sheriff?” She asked.

“It should be someone brave like you, but more of a homebody, someone who'll settle down and watch over us.” He said. “I heard the Powder Gangers talking about someone in the prison named Meyers who has some experience as a sheriff, he may be a good choice. Also with the NCR so close by, you may be able to get them to take over the town, not sure why they haven't helped out already.”

“We’ll help bring law and Back.” Twilight blurted.

Anne looked down to Twilight, an amused smile on her face. “Sure, that sounds like fun.”

“You will? That's just marvelous, I'll start thinking up questions for the interview. The sheriff that was incarcerated up at NCRCF may be a good choice. You also may be able to convince that NCR guy across the road to take the town under his wing, although martial law doesn't sound so fun.” He said excitedly.

“Now, can you tell us about the man in the checkered suit who came through here?” Anne asked.

“Ahh yes, my memory is much clearer now that I am free from my bondage.” He said. “I was sku... er, performing recon, gathering information on some of the Powder Gangers, when some great Khans arrived with your friend in the suit.” He continued, trying to cover up his blunder. “They were talking about some delivery they took from a courier, I assume that was you. They said they'd be heading through Nipton to Novac to meet a contact there.” He said, getting up from the table, giving the two a small nod before walking off somewhere else in the building.

“What do we do now Anne?” Twilight asked.

“Now, my royal friend, we go on a road trip.”

Chapter 15

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“Don’t we have to go to Lieutenant Hayes first?” Twilight asked.

“Well, yea, we do.”

“Then shouldn’t we go to him before we travel?” Twilight continued.

“Umm, yea.” Anne replied awkwardly.

“Let’s just go to him then, I don’t like the idea of these ponies going without anypony protecting them.” Twilight said, looking around at the random passersby.

Anne let out a tired sigh. “Okay, then let’s go back to the man, I just hope we get a reward.” Anne finished under her breath, walking out of the Vikki and Vance.

“If we do I hope it’s something nice to eat, I’m hungry.” Twilight agreed, following Anne out of the building.

Anne let out a faint chuckle. “Well yea, that’s sort of self-explanatory isn’t it? You’ve thrown up a ton today, I’m surprised you’re only now started complaining.” She said.

“It’s not my fault that it has been happening, Equestria doesn’t have that sort of stuff happen!” Twilight exclaimed.

“But there’s one thing that I don’t think you quite realize, you aren’t really in pony land, you’re in the Mojave and this sort of stuff happens all the time so it’s good to just try your best to ignore it.” Anne said, trying to shrug it off as they walked over the makeshift bridge back into the NCR camp.

“But how do you ignore something like that? It’s just awful.” Twilight said, ears folding down and slumping her shoulders.

Anne didn’t say anything for a few moments, thinking about the question before letting out a sad sigh. “You can’t ignore it, it’s a matter of how you handle it. There are those like myself that act indifferent to it, try to act like it isn’t there for them to notice in the first place. The next types of people are like you, finding it horrible, wanting to try and make others stop, they don’t last long these days. And finally there are those that enjoy it, take pleasure in knowing that they can cause others pain, deserving a bullet to the head.” Anne said, approaching the tanned tents.

Lieutenant Hayes and the rest of the NCR solders, some who haven’t yet spoken to Anne and Twilight were sat at one of the old wooden table in front of the tents, eating something off a dented metal plates, Hayes giving Anne and Twilight a small nod of acknowledge as they approached.

“Is it done?” He asked, the other NCR troopers stopping their conversations, one of which didn’t look at Anne or Twilight which Anne remembered to be the one who fainted when they arrived at Primm.

“Yea, you won’t get much trouble from Primm anymore, their leader is a lumpy puddle in the Bison Steve.” Anne said, giving him a curt nod.

“Anne, I don’t think they need the details while their eating.” Twilight said harshly.

“Well I’ll be dammed, it does talk.” One of the troopers said, joined in with the surprised faces at the table.

“It’s a she corporal, and she did you’re job for you so you might want to be a little nicer.” McGee said, glaring at the offending trooper.

“I don’t think he meant anything by it McGee, Phil’s just being an idiot.” A female trooper said, slugging Phil on the shoulder.

“Be that as it may, these two helped this town and we should be thankful for that.” Hayes said.

“N-no problem.” Twilight said blushing, Anne trying to hold in her laughter at Twilight’s.

“I take it that that incinerator on your back is the ex-convict leader’s?” Hayes asked, looking at the large black weapon Anne strapped to her back with a few leather belts she found in the Bison Steve.

“This?” Anne asked, slapping the overly large weapon on her back. “Yea, it is but I think I’m going to keep it, it burns like a bitch this thing does.” Anne said.

“I take it that’s why your hair looks like that?” McGee asked, looking at Anne’s slightly burnt and shortened hair.

“I needed a haircut.” Anne said, with a small shrug. “I only had a machete.”

“What about the residents? Are they still around or did the convicts get them?” Hayes asked, changing the subject.

“The town’s ponies are okay, we even rescued Deputy Beagle.” Twilight said, everyone except for Twilight looking at her in confusion.

“Town’s ponies? There are more of you here?” McGee asked.

“That’s just how she talks, like when we say people she says pony, when we say everyone they say everypony, things like that.” Anne explained.

“Well to each their own I guess.” Hayes said with a shrug.

“Speaking about the town, Primm is in dire need of some real law.” Anne said, remembering what Beagle said earlier.

Hayes let out a tired sigh. “We know Primm is a great strategic point, and we aren't blind to the needs of the town, but we're barely holding our own against the Powder Gangers. We don't have the guns or the personnel needed to carry out our mission, much less take on defending this town as well.” He said, grabbing a small metal cup and taking a sip of the drink inside.

“What do you need to take over protecting the town?”

“What we need, more than anything, is bodies. If we had just one more squad, we could easily install a sheriff and still handle our primary objective of protecting the interstate south of here. If you'd like to see the NCR include protection of Primm in its duties, then you'll have to get some more troops up here. Knight, at Mojave outpost, may be able to help.” He answered.

“Then that’s where we’re going right after we’ve had dinner, we shall see you when we see you.” Anne said, beginning to walk away with Twilight following just behind.

“Wait.” Hayes said, gesturing for the two to come back.

“Is there something else Hayes?”

“Yes, for helping the town of Primm we can give you food and board for the night if you have nowhere else to go.” He offered.

“Umm sure, that sounds nice, what’s for dinner?” Anne said, her and Twilight sitting at the wooden table with everyone else.

“No one knows, we just eat it.” The female trooper said with a shrug.

Two bowls of a thick brown sludge were thrown in front of Twilight and Anne along with two small cups of clean water. “I think I saw mine move.” Anne said with a grimace, poking the mush with a spoon.

“Oh, don’t worry about that, it’s when it runs away you should be worried.” McGee joked.

“I think mine is about to.” Twilight said, wondering if the dirt was edible.

Hesitantly Anne scooped up a spoonful of the gunk before bringing it to her mouth. “I hope my internals forgive me for this.” She said quickly before eating it.

Near instantly after Anne brought a closed fist up to her lips to keep her mouth shut as she blanched. Swallowing with a grimace she grabbed the cup of water before talking a gulp. “Damn, let me check something.” Anne said, reaching into her pack and bringing out a flattened glass bottle half filled with an amber liquid before putting twisting off the cap and taking a swig of the drink, letting out a dry cough soon after.

Twilight floated her spoon up to her mouth before unsurely taking a bite. Swallowing with as much of a grimace as Anne Twilight could taste a bit of bile in the back of her throat. “This is disgusting.” She exclaimed, quickly bring up her cup of water before taking a drink.

“You want something to help with the taste?” Anne asked, holding the bottle of whisky out to Twilight.

Without saying anything Twilight grabbed the bottle in her magic, only taking a small sip to get sip of the taste before floating it back to Anne. “How strong is that?” Twilight asked, knowing the drink had a fair amount in it if the taste was anything to go on.

Anne shrugged. “I don’t know and I don’t care, but it’s good if you want to get drunk in a hurry.” She said, taking another sip.

“Or to get a hangover.” McGee put in.

“That too.”

_________________________________________________________________________

“Well, when I woke up this morning I didn’t expect the day to go the way it did.” Anne said, looking up at the roof of the tent she was laying in.

“How do you think I feel?” Twilight grumbled back.

“Well I hope you’re comfortable at least.” Anne said.

Twilight turned her head and gave Anne a deadpan expression. “No, I’m not.” She said. “We have to share the same dirty mattress and you are super boney and to top it all off I’m cold.” She finished, trying to remove Anne’s elbow from her ribs.

“I could spoon you or something if you’re feeling cold.” Anne offered.

“No, I don’t want you to spoon me.”

“You want to spoon me instead?”

“NO!”

“Hang on a sec.” Anne said, rolling over as she began to look through her pack. “Here it is.” She exclaimed, rolling back over and holding out the stuffed bear toy she looted from the Bison Steve hotel.

“I wondered why you took that.” Twilight said, looking at the old toy.

“I got it for you to be honest, it’s nice to snuggle up with something and because we ain’t gonna spoon than you can use this.” She said, handing over the bear to Twilight.

“I’m not a foal anymore, I don’t need a toy to get to sleep.”

“You might not need to but that doesn’t mean you can’t”

“Just let me sleep Anne, I’m tired.” the pony said, rolling over so she was facing away from Anne.

“Okay, but I’ll just put mister bear here.” Anne said, reaching over Twilight and putting the bear sitting down in front of her head.

Letting out an annoyed sigh Twilight closed her eyes and tried to get to sleep but her thoughts were plagued with all the death and pain she saw that day.

_________________________________________________________________________

Twilight woke up with her heart thumping, her coat covered in sweat and her breathing reduced to heaves. She looked around scared out of her mind as she tried to figure out where she was.

“Bad dream?” She heard Anne ask.

Looking towards where her voice came from she saw Anne was sitting in a small metal chair, already in her metal armor while she loaded bullets into empty clips.

“Y-yea.” Twilight answered meekly, letting herself calm down and loosing her grip on the stuffed bear.

“It happens to the best of us.” Anne said sadly, putting down the full clip in a pile with other before picking up another empty one and started to fill it up.

After a few minutes to get her breathing down Twilight realized that it was rather cold. Looking at the closed entrance of the tent, barely any light coming through. “What time is it?” She asked, breaking the silence.

Anne brought up her Pip-Boy. “It’s five forty seven in the morning, you should try and get another hour or so of sleep.” She said.

“I would be able to get to sleep even if I wanted to. Why are you up this early?” Twilight said, looking sadly at the plush bear toy, trying to find comfort in its stitched on smile

Anne let out a sad sigh. “As I said, nightmares happen to the best of us.” She said, standing up as she clipped the full magazines onto pouches on her hips. “Now, if you’re not going to get back to sleep than you better set up, we can head off earlier.” She finished, putting all her weapons back in their holsters.

Twilight looked over her small pile of equipment, floating over her shoulder pad over to herself.

After about ten minutes Twilight was tightening the last strap on Lucky’s holster onto her leg while Anne was smoking a cigarette with more success than the last time, managing to do it with only a small amount of coughing. “You done?” She asked.

“Yea, I think so.” Twilight answered back, checking to see if she missed anything.

“Good, that means we can go now, we’ve held up long enough.”

Chapter 16

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After saying their goodbyes Twilight and Anne found themselves walking down the cracked and dry roads, the sun low on the horizon. Anne had the radio blazing on her Pip-boy, a song about lies and how their sinful playing out. As the final note played out the voice of a happy sounding old man played out instead.

“This is Radio New Vegas, and I'm your host, Mr. New Vegas. And in case you're wondering if you've come to the right place, you have.” He said, his voice sounding no more than late fifties to early sixties. “Whoops, better put on my newsman fedora here. That news was brought to you by The Tops casino. You'll dig us, baby, we're the tops.”

That last line made Anne pause for a moment, that line sounding a lot like something someone told her before but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Deciding it was probably nothing Anne didn’t dwell on it long.

“The HELIOS One solar power plant remains dormant, despite NCR's effort to reactivate the facility. The chief scientist of the plant vowed to fix the problem, blaming it on an atmosphere of quote severe under-appreciation.” He continued, his voice seeming to relax the two companions as they walked down the road. “Reports state that a little surprise has arrived in the Mojave recently, a little unicorn has been spotted following around a metal clad woman. The two were said to have helped Primm clear out some of the less liked patrons but from this moment the town still has little in the way of law enforcement.”

The two stopped mid step, turning their heads to each other in confusion. “We’re on the radio.” Twilight stated, dumfuddled.

“Yes, yes we are.” Anne said, just as dumfuddled.

“Got a song for you right now that's about a man that's cold on the exterior, but deep down ya' know he's a good man and his name is Johnny Guitar.” He finished, a new song starting to play but with a flick of a switch it silenced.

“Okay, I guess now we’re known to everyone in the Mojave.” Anne said, letting the information sink in.

“How many people listen to that station?” Twilight asked nervously.

“Most people in the Mojave, others listen to the couple of others.” Anne said with a shrug.

The two continued walking, letting what they heard sink in. After a few minutes Anne broke the silence. “Do you think we can scam people out of their money or should we wait till we’re more famous?” She asked.

“No, we’re not scamming people out of their things, why would being on the radio even give us that ability?” Twilight asked, glancing sidelong at Anne.

Anne shrugged. “Eh, it was just an idea, it would be awesome if people were just throwing stuff at us.” She said, her eyes drawn to a building up ahead.

“I don’t think ponies are going to just starting to throw things at us.” Twilight said, looking at the building to their right.

FIZZLE

“I think we spoke to soon.” Anne stated, diving into Twilight to get them out of the way from the stick of dynamite that landed on the ground close to them.

BOOM

Bits of rock and road rained down onto the two in their prone position. Jumping up Anne pulled her varmint rifle off her back before pointing it at the empty handed convict and pulling the trigger. With a thud sound a bullet raced out the barrel and dug itself into the convicts gut, blood spilling out as he hunched over. Twilight, stopping her eyes from spinning jumped up and pulled out Lucky, pulling back the hammer as she took aim at the second convict who was aiming at Anne with his 9mm pistol. The gun kicked in Twilight’s magic as it fired, the bullet going off to the left and missing the convict as he shot.

Before he shot Anne managed to drop her rifle and bring both her arms up to protect her head and lucky she did because the bullet impacted with the metal covering on her forearms. The force behind the shot caused Anne to stumble back, exposing her to another attack. Before the convict could shoot at Anne again his head exploded into a pulpy gore.

Once Anne managed to get her footing secure she looked over to Twilight. “Thanks.” She said, picking up her rifle.

“Umm, Anne, I didn’t do that.” Twilight said nervously, looking around till her eyes fell on something.

Anne looked behind her to find two people approaching. Once was a man dressed in metal armor much like hers but with spiked shoulder pads and all the other plates were enlarged to cover more area over the body, his hair spiked into a Mohawk and his face was covered in a thick layer of dust and dirt, a .357 leaver action rifle in his hands. The other was a woman dressed in dust covered leather armor and a 10mm pistol much like Anne’s in her hands but in a darker color instead of a worn silver.

Anne was about to thank them before she realized that the rifle was point squarely at her and the pistol at Twilight. Dropping down to a knee she rolled to the side as she cocked her rifle, a large bullet whizzing over her head. Twilight fumbled with the hammer of Lucky and before she could shoot at the new enemy she heard an echoing crack and felt a searing hot pain on her ear, causing her fall to the ground and let out a scream of pain.

Not even bothering to look down the sights at such a close range Anne fired at the metal clad man, the bullet crumpling into the metal shoulder pad but not hitting the man himself, only causing his next shot to go wildly off to the side as he jerked back.

Seeing as though her bullets wouldn’t have too much effect on the armor he was wearing Anne dropped the rifle before throwing herself at him as she pulled out her machete. Twilight meanwhile was trying to have her eyes focus, finding the one that shot at her was now aiming at Anne’s back she struggled to get the machete out of the other’s grip. Looking to her side she saw Lucky in the dust beside her, the hammer cocked and ready to be fired. Not even bothering to stand herself up Twilight used her magic to lift up Lucky from the ground and pointed it at the woman’s back before pulling the trigger.

With a crack the gun kicked in her magical grasp, sending a .357 round through the air and into the spine of the woman.

She didn’t even get a chance to let out so much as a startled cry as he body went limp and fell forward, the pistol falling from her hands.

As Twilight looked at the dead body in shock Anne managed to move her arm to where her elbow was close to the man’s head. With as much power as she could muster Anne jolted her arm to the side and into the exposed neck of the man, her elbow impacting with a crunch as his windpipe was crushed under the blow.

The man fell to his knees as he gripped his neck as he let out choking sounds as he tried futilely to breathe but was only able to let out small gags.

“Next time, shoot me first.” Anne said, glaring at the choking man before bring back her machete and bringing it down in a chop at his skull.

The blade didn’t get too far into his head but it was enough. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and his body slumped before Anne yanked it out of the skull with a fair bit of effort. “Fucking hell, who even were these guys?” Anne said, letting out a groan as she stretched her back.

“Vipers!” a man yelled crazily, running from behind the building with a lead pipe in his hands.

Anne looked at the man with a confused look on her face before pulling out her pistol and shooting him three times in the chest. She walked over to the downed man and to make sure he was dead fired one more shot into his head.

“You okay princess.” Anne asked over her shoulder as she poked the dead body with the tip of her shoe.

Twilight shakily brought a hoof up to her burning ear and before bringing it into her view. Her eyes went wide when she saw that it was covered in crimson blood. “A-Anne.” Twilight said scared, looking towards the woman.

Anne towards Twilight and saw the small hole punched through her ear. “Seems you’ve been hit.” Anne said, walking towards the pony.

Twilight cramped her hoof over the wound, breathing heavily. “It won’t stop bleeding!” She exclaimed panicked.

“Calm down your highness, tis but a flesh wound.” Anne said, grabbing Twilight’s head by the sides. “Now calm your tits, it’s not that bad.”

“Calm down? You want me to calm down?!” Twilight yelled, pulling her head away from Anne. “I have a hole in my head and your tell me to calm down?!”

“Yes.”

“It was a rhetorical question!” Twilight yelled angrily. “Do you have any way to stop it from bleeding?”

“Well, yea, a few ways but I have one in mind, just sit down and wait.” Anne said before walking behind the pony as she sat down.

“What are you going to do?” Twilight asked unsurely as she felt Anne sit behind her.

Anne tightly pressed her knees against Twilight’s side to keep her still for what was about to come, not answering her question. Pulling out a small Med-X needle she jabbed it into the pony’s neck.

“Ow.” Twilight said when she felt the needle. “What was that?”

“Painkillers.” Anne said blankly, throwing the empty needle away to the side before reaching into her pocket for something.

“And what are you doing that needs them?” Twilight says weakly, feeling a little dopey from the drugs.

“Ever heard of cauterization?” Anne said, pulling out her silver lighter.

“Oh no.”

_________________________________________________________________________

Twilight grumbled as they walked along, her now burnt ear pinned to the side of her head with a torn bit of cloth, at least grateful that the pain killers were still in effect. She had dried blood going down the side of her face from when her ear was still bleeding. She was happy she got a few more bullets for Lucky but that wasn’t much for her at the moment.

Meanwhile Anne was happily strolling along wearing her new metal armor which she found squished her breasts uncomfortably but didn’t care much. She had a lit cigarette in the corner of her mouth as they walked, letting out small puffs of smoke.

Off in the far distance along the road the two were going along was what looked like two large statues who looked to be shaking each other’s hands, not much beyond that visible.

“You’re mean, you know that?” Twilight muttered at Anne.

“I know, but you sort of asked for it with all the whining about something that would probably stop bleeding on its own.” Anne says with a shrug.

“But you burnt me.”

“So? I knew what I was doing.” Anne said defensively. “Probably.”

“That still doesn’t change the fact it hurt.”

“Fine than.” Anne said, tapping her smoke to the side before putting it back in her mouth. “Next time I won’t use anything to make it hurt less.”

“Sorry.” Twilight muttered.

The two remained silent for the rest of the walk as they got closer to the statues. They could see they were made from what was once probably scrap metal and they were indeed shaking hands. One was wearing a helmet and what was meant to be a trench cloak while the other wore a wide brimmed hat and shoulder pads.

“I wander if this is the outpost Haynes was talking about.” Twilight thought aloud.

CLICK-CLACK’ A rifle went from a building up ahead to the left, a pale faced woman looking down her scope at the two.

“I hope it is.” Anne muttered back.

Chapter 17

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“H-hey! How’s it going!?” Anne yelled towards the sniper.

The sniper let the barrel point at them for a few extra moments before lowering it. “They’re clean!” She yelled over her shoulder, standing up from her crouched position before disappearing out of sight.

“You think they’re the NCR?” Anne whispers to Twilight, lowering her hands.

Twilight was busy looking at the large red wooden sign with the words ‘NCR RANGER OUTPOST MOJAVE’ and the two headed bear flag. “I’m pretty sure.” She said as she started to make her way into the place.

Around them were run down cars and people, some in uniform while others wearing leather armor with a few Brahmin wondering around with large packs on. There were small walls made from sand bags and what appeared to be a number of toll booths around the area, indicating that it might have been a border crossing of some kind a long time ago. To the right were large caged off areas where non equipped Brahmin were kept and to the right was a pair of bland looking buildings, the solders seeming to mainly wondering around them.

Twilight looked uneasily at the two headed Brahmin, veins visible all over their sickly looking flesh. “What happened to them?” She whispered to Anne.

“What? The Brahmin? Well that’s what radiation does to you if you’re not careful.” Anne said, waving dismissively at the animals. “You’ll see a lot of them on the most used roads.”

Twilight blanched slightly at the thought and tried to avoid looking at them as they made their way to the sniper’s nest on top of one of the two buildings. She was wearing a dirty light blue shirt with a brown sleeveless leather vest. She was wearing tanned pants with a low caliber pistol holster and on her head was a wide brimmed hat. She had hair even whiter than Anne’s and her skin was bone white as well. And last of all there was a lever action rifle with a scope strapped onto her back.

“Hey.” Anne said in greeting as they approached.

The woman turned to them before her eyes were drawn to Twilight. “I heard of you two, you were mentioned on the radio.” She said. “But that doesn’t matter right now. Are you two couriers? If so, this might be your lucky day. If you don't mind walking a bit and your eyes are good.” She said, leaning against a wall sandbag wall in the nest.

“It really depends on the work.” Anne said with a shrug.

“I think there's trouble in Nipton, no traffic from there on the roads and while I can explain that away the smoke from the town I can't. I'm sure it's been hit, what I need to know is if they survived it, might be Powder Gangers with all that smoke in the air. If there's anybody left they'd be in the Nipton Town Hall, go there, check it out, and let me know what you find.” She said.

“Why don’t you go for a look?” Twilight asked.

“Got my post, don't think I wouldn't go, too. If trouble's hit Nipton, town's got enough camping spots to rack up some easy kills.” She said before adopting a small grin. “Not about to have Jackson bust my ass again though, even if I came back with Caesar's head I’d rather be sitting here than in a cell.”

Anne looked at Twilight to which she gave a small nod. “Sure, we’ll check it out.” Anne said with a shrug.

“All right. Look at you, all fired up and ready to go, wish the others around here had that kind of attitude.” The sniper said still with the small grin before it fell. Listen, I don't want you getting killed for this so if you head there and run into trouble. I'm asking for eyes and ears not your life All right?” She said.

“Alright, we’ll look into it, see you later.”

“Mind yourself on the plank going down.” The sniper said before looking back out to the road.

Twilight followed after Anne as they left the nest. “Are we just leaving already? We just got here not five minutes ago.”

Anne shrugged. “Pretty much.” She said.

Twilight let out an annoyed sigh. “Fine then, let’s just take a look at this place and come right back, we still have to get the help for Haynes.”

“Well they’ll feel more inclined to lend help if we help them out a bit first.” Anne reasoned.

“I hope you’re right.”

“Come on, what’s the worse that c-“ Anne began but a misplaced foot on the ramp caused her to stop, landing in a pile at the bottom.

“Yea, what could?”

_________________________________________________________________________

“Really? That’s a thing in pony land?”

“Equestria.” Twilight corrected. “And yes, the weather is controlled by pegasi.”

“Well that sounds stupid.” Anne stated.

“Well you don’t see me insulting your home.” Twilight said annoyed.

“That’s because it’s shithole, no one lives here and li-“ Anne stopped herself midsentence and her hand went to rest on her pistol at her side before turning around.

Twilight looked at what Anne was and saw a person in a light jog going after them. “I-is he going to attack us.” Twilight whispered worriedly, preparing her magic to grab Lucky.

“Let’s just see.” Anne said, taking a deep breath.

The man approached them. He was wearing a brown pocket covered jacket and a pair of long thick pants. One his head was a baseball cap and on his face was a short white beard.

“Hello there, it's good to see a friendly face, almost took you for a raider I did. Name's Malcolm, Malcolm Holmes.” He said in a friendly sounding voice. “Don't suppose you'd care to trade? I'm missing a few essentials and- oh, screw this, lying just ain't in my nature.” He said with a sigh. “I'll tell it to you straight, I've been following you for a good bit now.”

“Why were you following us?” Anne asked, getting ready to pull out her gun.

“It started off innocently enough, I was traveling, as I often do, and happened to observe you picking up one of those blue-star caps. You didn't show any reaction to it so I figured you didn't know what you'd gotten your hands on.”

“And what’s so special about these caps?” Twilight asked suspiciously.

“There's an old wasteland legend that says somewhere out there is a fabulous treasure from before the war. Those caps with the blue star on them, the tale goes, are the key to that treasure. They're called Sunset Sarsaparilla Stars.” He said.

Anne’s eyes seemed to twinkle at the mention of treasure. “What kind of treasure are we talking about?” She said excitedly.

“No one knows. Money? Weapons? Water? It is, or maybe was, something of value and that's enough to get people motivated.” He said with a shrug.

“Where can we find more of these caps?”

“All over the place. The easiest place to find them is unopened bottles of Sunset Sarsaparilla, you'd think they'd all have been picked clean by now but somehow new bottles keep appearing in the machines. Some say it's old Festus that does it, hoping someone will finally collect enough caps to earn the treasure. Other than bottles, you'll just have to scavenge. You can find caps in the unlikeliest of places and blue star caps are no exception.”

“So do you collect these bottle caps too?” Twilight asked.

“Nah, I gave it up years ago, too dangerous, and even if I did still collect them I'd tell you the same. There's people out there so mad with the idea of treasure that they'll attack strangers just on the suspicion that they have some of those caps.”

“Well thanks for the info, but we’ll be going now.” Anne said with a small thankful nod.

“Yes, thank you.” Twilight agreed.

“No problem, if you do end up trying to collect more stars watch out for a man named Allen Marks, he's killed several people for their stars already.” He said with a smile before turning and leaving back that way he came.

“Well, for once we were jumped by someone who hopefully helped us.” Anne said rubbing the back of her head confused.

“He seemed nice I don’t think he would lie to us.” Twilight said.

“I hope you’re right.” Anne said before clapping her hands together. “Now, let’s get a move on so we can get paid.”

_________________________________________________________________________

As the two approached the town things started to look off such as the fires scattered around the area, the large red banners with golden bulls on them.

“Guns out Twilight, something’s not right here.” Anne said, pulling her pistol out.

Twilight did what Anne told her as she followed after the woman.

As they got closer things started to become clearer such as the blood covered man jumping in joy on the empty street alongside the severed heads stabbed upon spears. The smell of what was burning filled the air and the closest thing they could both say it smelt like was when Anne used the incinerator in the Bison Steve.

“Twilight.” Anne said seriously. “Whatever you do don’t throw up, not matter what you have to do.” She said, pistol at the ready.

Twilight nodded, swallowing the bile that she felt building up in her throat. “I-I’ll try.” She said weakly.

They slowly and unsurely approached the jumping man. When he saw them he ran up to them with a crazy smile on his face.

“Yeah! Who won the lottery? I did!” He yelled. “Smell that air! Couldn't ya just drink it like booze!”

“Are you feeling alright?” Anne asked unsurely, ready to shoot the person if needed.

“Are you kidding me? Never felt better!” He said, seeming to not notice the blood covering his body.

“What sort of lottery did you win exactly?”

“What lottery? THE lottery, that's what lottery! Are you stupid? Only lottery that matters!” He continued to yell “Oh my God smell that air!”

Anne grimaced. “Good bye, we’re leaving.”

“Bye.” He said before running off the way the two friends came from. “Ain't gonna see me up on a cross or my head on no pole, uh uh! That's for loooooosers!”

“Come on Twilight we need to see if anyone else is left al- Oh fuck no, do not look into the fires.” Anne said, her head whipping away from a pile of stuff burning.

Twilight couldn’t help but look but wished she didn’t. Inside the fire were the burned and torn apart body parts of dozens of people of all ages and genders. Twilight barely managed to hold back her bile that time but took a few deep breaths to calm herself.

As they walked through the raided town they avoided all the mutilated bodies along the street. Turning a corner to what would be the pain street there were dozens of powder gangers tied to wooden crosses made from old power lines. Down at the very far end of the street in front of the town hall was the outline of half a dozen people, stood around with guns in their arms.

As the two approached they saw that they were all wearing the same armor, made from a torn red shirt with a leather chest plate and shoulder guards on. They all wore helmets that covered most of their head but one of them wore a hat made from a dog’s head and dangled along the sides of his head.

The dog headed man walked forward as the pair approached unsurely. “Don't worry, I won't have you lashed to a cross like the rest of these degenerates, it’s useful that you happened by. I want you to witness the fate of the town of Nipton, to memorize every detail, and then, when you move on? I want you to teach everyone you meet the lesson that Caesar's Legion taught here, especially any NCR troops you run across.” He said in a creepily calm voice.

“W-we’ll do as you ask.” Anne said, trying to cover her stutter.

“Then I bid you ‘Valė’, until we meet again.” He said before giving the troops around him a nod before they started to leave.

Anne waited till they all left before turning to Twilight. “We need to get back to that sniper to tell her what’s happening.” Anne said before she hunched over and started to throw up.

Chapter 18

View Online

“We are never to mention this ever again, there are things some are never meant to see.” Anne muttered as they walked up the hill towards the NCR outpost.

“Agreed.” Twilight said, hating the taste of bile even more after throwing up so much lately.

“Let’s just get to Ghost so we can forget about it and hopefully find a place to get a drink.” Anne said, rubbing her temple with a hand.

“Yeah, I’m feeling quite thirsty.”

“I don’t think we’re thinking about the same type of drink Twilight.”

The two walked up the wooden ramp back to the sniper’s nest, Anne making sure she didn’t lose her footing again. The sniper was sat on a chair by the small sandbag wall, rifle resting on her lap. She looked over her shoulder at the two. “You check out the Nipton Town Hall yet? Smoke trail's not getting any shorter.” She asked.

Anne swallowed a lump in her throat, shivering at the sights they saw while in the town. “Nipton was attacked by the Legion.” Anne said weakly.

The sniper’s eyebrows seemed to go up her face a few inches. “Legion this far West? You're fucking kidding me.” She said, slumping back in her chair. “That's not outside the border, they're moving in and fast. Nipton wasn't the most friendly town, but- All right, thanks for checking on that, wish it set my mind at ease now I'm more on edge than ever.”

“Did you have friends there?” Twilight asked sadly.

“In Nipton? Hell no, town was a shithole asking to be burned, just not by Legion. Nobody deserves that.” The sniper said with a sigh. “Well, thanks for hoofing it there and back even if it was bad news. Wish we could spare the troops to go hunting, but orders are to stay put.” She said before muttering “Fucking Mojave's going to hell, and all I can do is sit here and watch.”

The two friends chose that time to walk away to do more work. “Now we just need to see if we can get Hayes’ back up in Primm.” Anne said with a sigh.

Twilight nodded in agreement.

They went into the larger of the two buildings, most likely the one which would have the leader of the outpost. Inside was a large reception desk with propaganda posters behind it reading things like ‘The legion awaits at the gates of hell and the NCR is gonna send ‘em in!’ and ‘NCR trooper, you bring democracy to this land’. Stood behind the desk was a bored looking trooper, his helmet on the desk to the side. The radio was playing music out around the room.

“Caravan, citizen, pilgrim or…?” He asked lazily, letting the last part hang.

“Uh, citizen I guess.” Anne said confused.

“Just need something for the log book, keeping tabs on traffic through the outpost. Although mostly just in, not out these days.” He said with a sigh before standing up straight. “If you’re looking for the commanding officer he’s in the back. Although he’s got a lot on his plate so if you speak with him keep it short. Also if you need any gear checked we can get you up and running again, once you fill out the work orders and sign for the parts of cause.”

“We’d like to talk to you about Primm.” Twilight said.

He looked at them in surprise. “Primm? Hayes' unit is stationed up there, were having problems with some of the NCRCF convicts, what can I help you with?”

Anne let out a sigh. “Primm has seen better days.”

He let out a small sigh. “It has, it was a promising trade town before the escape at the correctional facility. Lost a good bit of money at the Vikki and Vance.”

They stood in an uncomfortable silence for a few moments before Twilight broke it. “So, who are you?”

“Me? I'm Knight, Major Knight, I've been stuck here dealing with these caravans for ages now but somebody's gotta do it.” He said with a shrug.

“What? Not exciting enough for you?” Anne joked.

“It ain't so bad, if Caesar's Legion decides to push West through Nipton ol' Mojave Outpost here will be the front line.” He said.

“Well, we’ll be off to talk with this place’s CO, see you later Knight.” Anne said as she walked off further into the building, Twilight following close behind.

They walked down a hall way to the side, a man wearing a wide brimmed hat, dark grey shirt and a bandolier. He was wearing a pair of sun glasses and had a long mustache on his face. The two approached him.

“Looks like we got a new visitor in the ol' Brahmin pen.” He joked. “Not many people coming here in a hurry, only passing through.” He continued before letting out a sigh. “And if you're passing through you picked a bad time, road north has gone to hell and if I let a caravan through they won't make it.”

“You sure seem like you have enough soldiers.” Anne observed.

“Soldiers, no, recruits, yes, and the Mojave Outpost has been ordered to have a standing force at the NCR perimeter at all times. So sending anyone out reduces the Outpost's numbers and would be in direct violation of my orders from back West.”

“Is the NCR sending more troops?”

“Sending more troops, yes, to reinforce the Outpost, no. Troops head through here on their way to McCarran or to the frontlines at Forlorn Hope. Or they're on leave, on their way to New Vegas to piss away their pay, all of them, passing through.” He said with a sigh.

“You sound frustrated.” Twilight stated.

“Frustrated? No, I have my orders, signed, and approved all the way up the chain from Kimball and I understand the reasons. The Outpost isn't a Legion target yet, not like Vegas or the Dam but if the caravans get choked here, that's going to bite NCR hard. Anyway, didn't mean to talk your ear off, some days just feel like more requisition forms and daily reports come across my desk than results.”

“Any way we can help?” Anne asked.

“Help? No, look, I apprec-You know, what, yes, I could use the help and you guys look like you can handle yourselves.” He said with a nod. “I need to get the caravans moving again, that means clearing a path north, there's too much crawling the asphalt up the road to allow it.”

“Sounds good, we’ll get right to it.” Anne said.

“Thanks, I appreciate it. Come back here when you're done, I might accidentally ‘lose’ some supplies to pay you with.” He said with a thankful smile.

“No problem, let’s go Twilight.” Anne said as they left the building.

“Anne.”

“Yeah?”

“You forgot to ask him to help Primm.”

“Damn it.”

_________________________________________________________________________

“Okay, so hopefully it’ll just be a few critters we need to clear out then we can go back.” Anne said, rolling her shoulders as she pulled out her shotgun, cracking it open to check that there was ammo in it.

“What type of critter are we talking about here?” Twilight asked, pulling Lucky out.

Anne shrugged. “Probably something like ants or scorpions.” She said.

Twilight stopped mid step. “Really? That sounds too easy, why does it make people not allowed to go through here?”

Anne couldn’t help but chuckle. “I guess you’ve never seen a Mojave Ant before.” She said before continuing on, Twilight followed close behind.

Off in the distance they could make out light brown colored things moving around and as they got closer Twilight felt her blood go cold.

There were ants, about a dozen of them but they were huge, almost as big as her on the larger ones and about as big as a dog on the smaller ones.

“What are those!” She yelled maybe a little too loudly as the ant’s turned to face her.

“Ants that are probably angry that you disturbed them.” Anne said, bringing up her shot gun to her shoulder.

The ants started moving quickly towards them, letting out little high pitched creak sounds of their shell grinding against itself. Anne pointed her shotgun at them and fired, buckshot spreading around but only doing a small amount of damage to them.

“Fuck, I’ll have to get close.” She muttered as she loaded a fresh shell in before running at the charging ants.

Twilight lifted up her pistol and aimed at one of the smaller ones and fired two shots, one of which ripping it’s leg off its body.

With a two loud bangs in rapid secession Anne emptied her shot gun into the head of two of the smaller ants before starting to reload, chucking the empty shells on the ground as she dived out of the way out of the jaws of a larger ant.

Twilight moved her aim to the ant coming for her and fired another four times, one of which hitting right in its head, causing it to go flying clean from its body.

“Fuck!” Anne yelled in pain as the last large ant was biting her leg, trying its hardest to pull it off. She had dropped her shot gun and was trying to push its head till it let go but wasn’t doing much as she was laying on the ground.

Twilight didn’t bother reloading Luck and instead pulled out her 9mm pistol and started firing at the ant attacking Anne.

Flying bits of lead torn through its body, spraying its slightly green colored blood. It let go and let out a small screech before falling to the ground dead.

Anne shakily got to her feet before glaring at Twilight. “Aim better next time.” She said.

“What?! I just saved your life.” Twilight yelled.

“You killed it yes but you also shot me!” She yelled back, pointing to the small bullet hole she had on her outer thigh, blood slowly pouring down.

Twilight’s eyes went wide and her gun fell from her magic grip. “I-I’m so sorry.” She said in horror, taking a step back.

“It fucking hurts you know that?” Anne said, taking off her bag before pulling out a Stimpak and stabbing it into her leg, the hole soon closing on its own and leaving a small scar. “Next time, please try and be a little more careful.”

Twilight quickly nodded. “Of cause, I’m sorry.” She said, picking her guns back up and loading them before putting them back in their holsters.

“I feel like this won’t be the last time this’ll happen.” Anne muttered to herself.

_________________________________________________________________________

“Appreciate the help, wish I had more work for you, but nothing else on the radar at the moment.” Ranger Jackson said, giving the two a thankful smile.

“So, you mentioned a reward before?” Anne asked, Twilight giving her a stern look but the woman ignored it.

“No, I mentioned you might accidentally get supplied and I meant it, not allowed to contract mercenaries at the Outpost.” He said before letting out a sigh. “Still, a requisition form or two can get lost and they're not going to come check, so here you go, just between us.” He said, handing them a box.

Taking it and opening it up they saw inside was a rifle that many of the NCR troopers around the outpost were using along with a box of armor piercing ammo, two packed food tins and a bag filled with caps. “Thank you Ranger.” Anne said with a smile.

“Don’t mention it, it was the least we could do to say thank you.” He said with a grin.

Anne and Twilight left the room they were in, walking past Knight behind the desk.

“Anne, you’re forgetting something.” Twilight hissed.

“What are yo- oh yeah.” Anne said as she walked back to the desk, giving Knight a large grin. “Hey Knight.”

“Been doing a lot of good work out there, setting an example for the others, I know Ranger Jackson appreciates it.” He said with a smile of his own.

“We would like to talk about Primm again.”

“Uh, sure, what about the town?”

“Hayes asked us to tell you that he is undermanned and is requesting some additional support.” Twilight asked.

He let out a sad sigh. “I'd like to help but we can't spare any more units.” He says before droning sadly “We have to maintain a minimum headcount at the Outpost, orders from the West.”

“We’ve helped out around here, sending troops to Primm will fortify the NCR in the region.” Twilight said annoyed.

“I see the wisdom in that, I'll radio for a unit to head up to Primm and offer some additional support.” He said with a nod and a smile.

“Awesome, we’ll be going to tell him the good news after we rest up a bit.” Anne said.

“There’s a bar next door if you wanted to get a drink and maybe a room if you’re lucky.” He said with a shrug. “I’ll hear from you later.”

With smile the two left for the building next door.

The building was smaller than the main one, the sniper nest on its flat roof. When they walked in they instantly saw the bar, it taking up the main room with old bar tops, shelves of alcohol on view. Walking to one of the old metal stools she patted the one next to her.

“Come on Princess, come sit with me.” Anne said with a tired smile.

Twilight hesitantly made her way to the high stool and sat on it awkwardly. “Alright, but I don’t drink that much.” She said nervously.

The bartender chose that time to walk up to them she was wearing cloths made from a thick red shirt and pants with a black leather vest on, her stomach exposed. “New faces in the Outpost, must've come from the North. So, what'll you guys have?” The woman asked.

“Two whiskies and a bottle of Nuka Cola for the little one.” Anne said, gesturing to Twilight.

“Alright, here you go, that’ll be fifty six caps.” The bartender said, grabbing the bottles before putting them in front of the two lazily.

Anne’s eyes widened at the large amount of money it cost but grabbed the bag of caps Jackson gave them before taking the right number of caps out and giving them to the woman.

“Call if you need anything.” The woman said before leaving to another woman at the bar, looking like she had just given up on life and was drinking to try and end it.

Anne popped the cap off the Nuka Cola and a bottle of whisky. “I’m going to make a drink for you my friend, hopefully you like it.” Anne said, reaching over the counter before grabbing two empty drinking glasses.

She grabbed the bottle of whisky and filled one glass half way while the other only a quarter before filling the rest up with the Nuka Cola. She held out the one with less whisky in it to Twilight. “If you don’t like it I’ll just buy you another twenty eight cap bottle of soda.” Anne said. “It’s up to you.”

Twilight hesitantly grabbed the glass in her magic before taking a sip, tasting the sweetness of the Cola and the slight burn of the whisky but it wasn’t all that unpleasant. She brought the glass back up and took another sip.

“There we go, just drink as much as you want.” Anne said before taking a large gulp of her own one.

The more she drank the more Twilight felt relaxed but said to herself that she wouldn’t go overboard with the drinks.

But oh how she was so wrong.

Chapter 19

View Online

Twilight groaned in agony. Her head felt as if it was being beaten by a sledge hammer with each pump of her heart. She goes to open her eyes but instantly clenches them shut as she is assaulted by what felt like a sun inches from her face. Groaning again she rolls over on the hard surface she was laying on and felt a hoof fall off of it. Slowly she started to open one of her eyes, hissing as the light greeted her again.

Once her eyes were all the way open, which took about five minutes, she was greeted by the morning sky, slightly orange from the burning sun on the horizon. Looking to the side Twilight’s eyes went wide and stumbled back.

She was currently sat on top of the large wide brimmed of one of the metal statues out the front of the outpost. Clutching a chunk of the hat tightly she looked around in slight shock at the height. Looking at her back she found her once bandaged wings were now uncovered and looked now worse for wear besides the dirty feathers and scaring around the base of them. Slowly she stretched them, groaning as they let out a few small pops and she sighed.

Walking off the edge she used her wings to slow the descent and landed with a soft thud. “Now where’s Anne?” She mumbled to herself and relised just how dry and sore her throat was.

“ANNE!” She croaked out, not seeing the woman anywhere she tried again. “ANNE!” She yelled louder, her throat killing her.

“Huh?” came from an upside-down barrel.

“Anne?” Twilight asked uncertainly.

‘THUD’ “FUCK!” said the barrel after jolting slightly.

After a moment two metal clad legs lifted the rusted metal barrel up and staggered slightly. “H-huh?” Anne said, her voice echoing inside the barrel.

“You alright Anne?” Twilight croaks out.

Anne starts taking off the barrel, eyes winced shut slightly as she saw the morning sun. “Fucking hell I hate hangovers.” She grumbles, rubbing her eyes. “Want some water princess?” She asks, taking her bag out of the barrel.

“Yes please.” Twilight croaks.

Reaching into her bag Anne pulls out a bottle of slightly dirty water and takes the cap off. After drinking a fair amount she passes it to Twilight who drinks the rest greedily.

“My throat still hurts.” Twilight groans, rubbing her neck.

“It’s a hangover, it’s sort of what happens when you get one.”

“I don’t even care that I pretty much just drank mud, I want more.” Twilight says.

“Unless you want to die of dehydration you’ll have to go without it until we actually need it.” Anne says.

“What even happened last night? I can’t remember what happened at all.” Twilight asks, massaging her temple to try and get rid of the bad headache she had.

“Well, do you want the one that you would like or what actually happened?” Anne clarified.

“Ummm, what actually happened please?” Twilight said nervously.

“Well, we started with whiskey and Nuka-Cola before just going to straight whiskey when you said you could handle it, which might I add you couldn’t.” Anne started.

“Then what happened.” Twilight pushed.

“Well, you challenged an NCR guy to a drinking contest saying you aren’t feeling tipsy at all before falling on your face.” She said with a small chuckle. “But you wouldn’t back down and after only about two shots you started to brag about being able to fly and took off your bandages. To prove it you flew to the top of the statues before you fell unconscious on top of one. Well, that’s what I was told before I fell asleep in… a barrel.”

“What were you doing then? Did you forget as well?” Twilight asked.

“Well, yeah, I remember it…” Anne said nervously.

“Then why do you only know what happened from one of the other troopers?”

“Ummm, cause I was doing something else.”

“What was it?” Twilight said forcefully.

“Nothing you need to worry about.” Anne said trying to ignore the question.

“Just tell me, as long as it wasn’t bad I won’t care.”

Anne let out a defeated sigh, rubbing her eyes before looking at Twilight. “Fine then, if you really want to know I was busy screwing one of the troopers out back of the bar.” She said crossing her arms.

Twilight adopts a large blush on her cheeks. “W-well, you don’t need to sa-“ She started but Anne decided to mess with the pony.

“Would you like to know what we did? It was a whole load of fun.” She says with a large grin.

Twilight can’t help but cover her face with her wings, trying to hide herself the best she could. “Alright, I-I get it.” She stutters.

“Are you sure? You don’t want me to describe it to you?” Anne asks innocently as she pulls out the packet of cigarettes.

“Yes, just be quiet about it already, I have too much of a headache to deal with this right now.” Twilight grumbles.

Anne lights the cigarette in her mouth, putting the lighter back into her pocket as she took a drag. “Well then, we should probably go back to Primm quickly so we have enough time to get to the next town before dark.”


_________________________________________________________________________


“I just got word that, there's a squad of rangers standing by .Sergeant McGee will take over as sheriff and the rangers will be his deputies, this town will be an NCR territory.” Hayes says, a small smirk on his face. “This means that aside from protection the citizens will also need to become registered NCR citizens and pay any appropriate and associated taxes.”

“Yep, tell them to get here as soon as they can.” Anne says with a smile.

“Roger, I’ll radio them over now.” He says offering Anne a hand who shakes it firmly.

“Pleasure doing business with you Lieutenant.” Twilight says.

While Hayes goes over to a large radio on the table Anne and Twilight choose that time to leave the tent. “Awesome, now let’s just keep heading down the road and get to this ‘Novac’ place.” Anne says.


_________________________________________________________________________


“Umm, Twilight, we’ll have to go through Nipton to get to Novac.” Anne said nervously, seeing the bellowing black smoke in the distance.

Twilight swallowed a lump in her throat. “L-let’s just get it over with quickly, those Legion soldiers left about the time we did, hopefully they didn’t come back.” Twilight replies back.

After ten minutes of walking the two were on the outskirts of the burnt down town and started to travel through, Twilight covering her mouth and nose with her wings to try and block the smell away but it didn’t work that much.

“Urrrrr!” Something moaned loudly, causing the two to jump back in surprise, Anne drawing her pistol.

A man, tied up to a large wooden cross moaned in agony, blood dripping from the dozens of wounds along his beaten body.

“Shit, he’s still alive.” Anne exclaimed, looking around. “All the fuckers are alive.”

“Let’s get them down!” Twilight says, flapping her wings to lift herself off the ground and started to untie one of the binds around his wrists while Anne took out her machete and with a single whack cut through all the binding on one of hinds.

Dropping the blade as the man fell forward Anne caught her and Twilight tried to slow his decent. The man wasn’t making a sound once he was on the ground, eyes closed. Bringing her head to the man’s chest as she tried to find a heartbeat.

“He’s… Gone, died taking him down.” Anne said softly, sitting back and grabbing her machete and putting it back in its sheath.

Twilight looked slightly shocked at the body. “He died?” Twilight said, eyes wide.

“My bet is if we try to take any of the others down they’ll meet the same fate.” Anne said sourly.

“But we can’t just leave them to suffer up there life they don’t exist.” Twilight protested.

“Each one of them won’t survive being taken down, their bodies are too weak.” Anne says, letting out a tied sigh. “It’s up to you weather they die in pain as they are now or if we should end it for them.” She finished.

Twilight’s mind was racing with a hundred different things all at once. On one hand if they left the people on the makeshift crosses then they might live longer but in great pain for the rest of it. “We should stop the pain for them.” Twilight says softly.

“Alright then, I’ll do it if you want.” Anne said, pulling her varmint rifle off of her back and cocking the bolt.

Twilight nods, looking away as Anne walked up to the closest hung up person. All the pony heard was the crack of the low powered rifle and the metallic clicks of the bolt going back and forth. “It’s done.” Anne said solemnly, putting the rifle back on her back.

Twilight only nodded, not looking up to the dead bodies hung on display like a morbid art project. “Should we burry them?” She asked softly.

Anne sighed, pulling the crumpled packet of cigarettes from her pocket. “With what? I don’t think there would be any shovels around here and to be honest I want to get out of here as soon as we can.” She said, offering the box to Twilight who shook her head.

“It just feels… wrong to leave them tied up like this.” The pony said, her wings ruffling on her sides.

“That means you still have morality after your days in the Mojave, never lose it.” Anne says putting a cigarette in her mouth before lighting it. “Now let’s get the hell out of here before I let everything sink in fully.” The woman says starting to walk off, Twilight followed closely behind her.

“What type of sick mind must the Legion have to commit something like that? Even insane ponies would be sickened by that.” Twilight wondered, looking down at the ruined roads.

“You wouldn’t want the answer to that even if I could give it to you, there are some things better left unknown Princess.” Anne said, taking a drag of her cigarette.

“I think you’re right Anne, I just hope we don’t see too much of them in the future.” Twilight said as the grounds on the sides of the road suddenly becoming a cliff face, the road going through a canyon.

“You and me both Princess, you and me both.” Anne sighs, chucking her smoke to the side of the road.

Up ahead was an overturned truck with its contents lost with time but a few things were still around it like scrap metal, broken glass and even a few traffic cones around it. The only thing that could be heard was the squawk of a crow unseen by the duo. “So, do you want me to turn on the radio?” Anne asks, her metal feet clanking on the stone ground.

“Sure, that sounds nice.” Twilight responded.

Anne lifted up her arm with the large Pip-Boy on it, poking a few buttons around the screen with metallic clicking sounds. The woman didn’t realize till she was already on it that she knocked one of the traffic cones to the side and exposing the dull brown disk under it, large red light on top flashing.

BEEP

“Shit.”

BOOM

Anne had no time to get out of the way as the mine exploded under her left leg, sending her flying to the right and slamming into the wreckage of the truck even before the explosion died out.

Twilight stumbled back in shock, the shockwave from being so close to the explosion causing a ringing in her ears. She didn’t see what happened to Anne as her eyes closed as soon as they mine went off and when she opened them all she saw was the smoldering hole and some blood around it.

Twilight’s eyes went wide and her head whipped around. “ANNE!?” She called, her heart in her throat.

She got no response.

Just as she was going to call again but before she could there was a yell. “Waste ‘em!” Someone yelled before the air was filled with the sounds of gunfire.

Up upon the top of the canyon bandits of some sort sprung from their hiding spots and started firing at Twilight. With her survival instincts kicking in the pony dove for the truck, hiding behind the rubble as she heard bullets hit the metal with pings and pangs.

Looking to her side Twilight saw the prone form of Anne and instantly she felt relieved that her friend wasn’t reduced to pulp. Her eyes were open and she was staring off at the sky, eyes blinking every so often and her breathing heavy. Looking down Twilight could see that the lower part of her left leg which still was covered in her armor was all bent up with cracks and holes along the surface of the metal, blood seeping through it.

“That hurt.” Anne grunt, trying to drag herself to lean against some rubble but her leg would barely move. “Fuck, that hurt a lot.”

“I’m so glad you’re alive Anne.” Twilight says.

“Don’t start celebrating before we’re out of this, there’s still an ambush shooting at us.” Anne said pulling the pistol out of its holster. “I ain’t gonna be walking out of here, my leg is totally fucked to hell.”

“What do we do then?” Twilight asks worriedly.

“Drag me, I’ll just shoot in their general direction and hopefully they will hide from the shots, just bite the back of my armor and pull me along.” She says.

“What if they keep shooting?”

“If we don’t do this we’re dead anyway.”

“Alright.” Twilight said, leaning Anne forward and biting the metal bar going around the back of her neck. “Ready?” She asks slightly muffled.

“I don’t know, am I?”

“I think you are.”

“Alright then, let’s go.”

Chapter 20

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“Do you think they’ll come after us?” Twilight asked, her neck hurting from dragging Anne for the past ten minutes.

“If they were we’d probably be dead already.” She says, arms hanging limply by her sides as she’s dragged along, a trail of blood left behind them. “Lean me against something.” She grunts.

Twilight did what Anne told her to do and leaned the woman against a rock along the side of the road. Twilight turned a slight shade of green when she caught sight of her friend’s damaged leg again, the metal filled with holes and bent inwards. “That looks really bad Anne.” Twilight says hesitantly.

“I know, help me take the plating off.” Anne says, trying to loosen the buckles on the inside of the metal shin-guard but let out a small cry of pain as a lance of hot pain shot up her leg. “A-alright, we need to make this quick.” She says.

“Right.”

Anne loosens all the straps of the plating on her shin as much as it would go. “Now, go slowly, don’t want to be pulling anything of mine off the bone.” Anne warns, Twilight’s magic softly gripping the metal on the woman’s leg before ever so slowly starting to pull it off of Anne’s damaged leg.

“FUCK!” Anne exclaims, her head falling back as she used all the power she had not to let her leg spasm . “Right after we take this off I need something for the pain.” Anne grunts, holding her thigh to hold her left leg down.

“It’s almost off.”

“Good, hurry up so I can review the damage.” Anne hisses.

After a few more moments Twilight dropped the mangled leg guard onto the dirt ground next to Anne. Twilight had to hold back her vomit at the sight of her friend’s leg.

It was worse the closer to the foot itself it got. Even with the shredded under covering of the armor one could barely tell it was ever there to begin with. The flesh was barely burnt but the large and deep gashes along it bled heavily. Her ankle and toes were bent at horrid angles, the stump of her second biggest toe pouring out blood in a small steady stream. Bones at the foot were also either pressing against the skin were they broke or in one case jutting out of the skin altogether.

“Oh, by Celestia.” Twilight says, having to look away not to throw up.

“What? How bad it is?” Anne says looking down, eyes going wide as she saw the state of her leg.

Without warning she burst into a fit of mad laughter, slightly unnerving Twilight. “Holy shit.” She said still laughing, her head falling back to look at the sky. Only a few moments later the woman slid slightly to the side, her eyes closed and her body limp.

“A-Anne?” Twilight says unsurely, poking her in the chest to try and rouse her but nothing happened.

“Anne?” Twilight says again, now jabbing the woman.

Twilight could see Anne’s chest rise and fall slowly, most likely having fainted at the sight of one of her body parts.

“O-okay, she said that she would need to use some of the chemicals she has.” Twilight muttered to herself, leaning Anne forward and taking off the bag she wore.

She started to rummage through the bag, looking through all the pouches and pockets in search for what she needed. The main part of the pack just held boxes of food and water along with those strange red sticks and one bumpy dark green ball with a small circle and pin attached to the top. In one of the side pockets were boxes much like the boxes of bullets Twilight had for her two guns but in different sizes. And in the final pocket on the side was filled with all different types tins, bottles and needles.

Pulling everything out she started to have a little freak out as only one of the tins had a label which was almost worn out beyond recognition. It read ‘Mentats’ in large orange lettering on the yellow tin. Looking through the needles Twilight grimaced at the not so clean looking casings.

Going back through the bag Twilight pulls out an almost empty bottle of whisky, her head giving a small throb to remind her what happened last night, before opening the cap. Picking up a needle with three chambered needle and poured the whiskey onto it, trying to clean away any germs that were on it away.

Carefully the pony pressed the needle into the undamaged flesh of leg, high up on the thigh, pushing it in an inch and a half. Pressing the plunger she heard a small hiss sound come from the needle before Anne jerked awake.

“Gah!” She exclaimed, head snapping down to Twilight holding a needle in her leg. “That has adrenaline in it, that will make my heart go crazy!” She yelled.

“Wh-“

“Quick, small needle, small needle.” She quickly says, the bleeding leg starting to bleed faster.

Twilight quickly fumbled to grab one of the small single chamber needles, cleaning it off with some more whiskey before jabbing it around the same place as the last needle before pressing the plunger.

Letting out a relaxed sigh, Anne’s body going limp as she had a goofy smile on her face. “That’s better.” She says contently.

“I-It hasn’t stopped bleeding.” Twilight says worried.

“No, it wouldn’t have, grab a Stimpak, one of the ones with the circle on top of it.” Anne says lazily, seeming too relaxed for what was going on.

“Don’t you need to stitch it all shut like you did for my flank?” Twilight asks.

“No time, I don’t want to lose any more blood than I already have.” She said. “I’ll just have a very bad bunch of scars.”

“Alright, if you’re sure about this.” Twilight says, magicing the third needle over to Anne’s leg.

“This one you’ll have to inject around the damaged tissue, meaning right by the foot.”

“R-really?” Twilight says with a grimace on her face, not wanting to touch her friend’s foot even with her magic.

Seeing Twilight’s expression Anne rolls her eyes and grabs the floating needle from midair. “Fine, I’ll do it.” She grumbles, jabbing the metal just above her ankle.

Soon the flesh starts mending itself, like it would normally over time but almost in the blink of an eye. Anne lets out gasps and grunts of pain as the bones are popped back into place. It only took about ten seconds before the woman’s leg was no longer bleeding but the large deep scars were still there, deforming the muscle and skin with long lines. While it helped heal her leg it didn’t get her toe to grow back.

“F-fuck, I hate the feeling of that, it’s like having the bones broken all over again.” She grunts out, pushing herself to her feet and testing her weight on the newly healed leg.

“It does have a quite sickening sound.” Twilight says hesitantly, observing the leg. “Is there any way to get rid of the scaring?”

“Nope, I guess I’ll just have to live with it.” Anne says with a sigh. “I’ll need to have my armor repaired soon, my shin-guard looks like Swiss cheese.” Anne said, sitting back down as she tried to place the armor onto her leg.

After a few minutes she managed to do what she set out to do, but a fair bit of the under padding was ripped and torn but once the plate was on you could only see the warped and broken metal.

“Are you ready to keep going?” Twilight asked, watching as Anne packed away all the chemicals back into her back before putting it back onto her back.

“Yeah, I guess I’m ready as I’ll ever be.” She said. “We should get to Novac to see if there’s anything we can get to better equip ourselves.”

“That sounds smart, do you know how much father we have to go till we get there?”

Anne brings up her Pip-Boy, poking a few knobs. “About a few miles to go.” She say, arm dropping back to her side.

Starting off again, the two walk down the road, feeling a little more on edge since the surprise attack done to them not that long ago. After close to an hour Anne stops mid step as she sees a crashed motorbike, rusted and broken in half from the rock it had crashed into when it was still useable.

The long dead rider was nothing but a skeleton with small scraps of his clothing left but what made Anne stop was the slightly dented metal helmet that the body was wearing, the face visor shattered and no longer in the helmet itself anymore. Walking over to the pile of bones Anne grabs the helmet and picks it up, shaking it a bit till the skull fell out.

“Seems reasonably strong.” Anne says banging her knuckle against the metal helmet.

“But it was on that dead pony.” Twilight protested.

“Well he isn’t complaining.” Anne said, putting on the helmet onto her head. “Fuck, it smells like old dust in here.” Anne says, her eyes the only thing visible which were wincing slightly.

“You just pulled somepony’s head out of it!” Twilight exclaimed.

“Then he must have been the dusty smell.” Anne stated, starting to continue to walk down the ruined road.

Twilight hesitantly started to follow after the woman. “C-Could you put the radio on?” She asks nervously.

“Sure.” Anne said, tapping her Pip-Boy again.

Slowly the sound of a guitar playing could be heard coming from the woman’s arm. “To the town of Agua Fria rode a stranger one fine day~”

__________________________________________

“~When he tried to match the ranger with the big iron on his hip, big iron on his~” The last notes of the male singer died off into silence.

Tapping her arm Anne turned off the radio. “I think I can see something in the distance.” Anne states, squinting her eyes to try and see what was in the distance.

“Is it me or does it look like a large lizard?” Twilight asked confused.

“It does doesn’t it?”

Off in the distance could be seen a large outline of a large tyrannosaurs gripping onto something large in the ground like a gentleman would hold a cane with two hands.

“I’m going to take a quick fly up and get a better view.” Twilight says, thinking that it was a dragon stood over in the distance. Stretching her wings out wide she launched up into the sky.

From the much better viewpoint without large rocks and destroyed vehicles in the way. There was indeed a large T-rex but being able to see it better Twilight confirmed that it wasn’t a dragon at all. Large thick roads all came towards it with a large number of houses and buildings around it. It was large and green but even from the distance she could see the tell-tale signs of peeling paint along its body. Very small dots could be seen walking around the buildings. Sighing to herself she flew back down to Anne.

“There’s a fake dragon thing over there.” She stated.

“Well, yeah, I could tell that from over here, anything else?” Anne said crossing her arms.

“There seems to be a small town built around it, and a few ponies walking around the town.”

“Then I guess that’s Novac, not what I expected but then again I don’t know what to expect in life.” Anne said, continuing to walk towards the town of Novac.

As they got closer they started passing the mostly intact buildings, only a few of them nothing but rubble. Once close enough to the dino they could see that it was at least three stories tall. The dino itself was within the chain-linked fence of a hotel, seeming to be an attraction to bring people in but those days no one really cared that much.

At the entrance of the hotel was a sign, the name smashed out and only leaving a large hole and losing the name of the place to the void forever. Just under where the name was the ‘No Vacancy’ sign but a few of the letters were missing, leaving only the letters ‘No Vac’.

As they approached the sound of a wheel on gravel could be heard, a large blue machine rolling towards them on the one wheel it had. It had no head and very large broad shoulders. It’s arms hang out from under the shoulders by thick tubing with a three fingered claw on each. Its one wheel was a very large one, somehow balancing on the wheel without any visible difficultly. In the center of it was a white screen with the picture of a black and white cowboy smiling happily.

“Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, if it ain’t my old friend Goodsprings!” It exclaimed in a tinny sounding voice, southern accent much like Applejack Twilight found.

“Hi Victor.”

Chapter 21

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Anne’s grin widens as she takes a step towards the robot. “What are you doing all the way out here?” She asks friendlily.

“Don't rightly know, I just got the notion to make my way to New Vegas, reckon I'll find out when I get there.” He said in tinny sounding southern accent.

“Ah, I almost forgot.” Anne said, taking a step to the side, gesturing to Twilight with a tilt of head her. “This right here is a friend I made just after leaving Goodsprings, Twilight Sparkle.”

Twilight blushes but smiles sheepishly, not knowing how to feel about the new creature before her. “H-hi.” She says.

“And this Twilight is Victor, he saved my life only a few days before I met you.” Anne said, pointing to the large robot, the woman only going halfway up the screen in height.

“Well hello there little one, ain’t you a cute thing.” Victor says, the face on his screen flickering slightly. “You heard from Anne here that I’m Victor.”

Twilight’s blush deepens at being called cute and Anne snickered quite loudly. “I-I don’t mean to be rude but what exactly are you?” Twilight asks nervously.

“I'm a Securitron, RobCo security model 2060-B if you ever see any of my brothers tell them Victor says howdy.” Victor says without missing a beat.

“He’s a robot princess.” Anne clarified upon seeing twilight’s confused expression.

“Robot? I thought they were only in science-fiction books.” Twilight said just as confused as before.

“Victor isn’t the only one we’ll see, some are friendly such as the Securitrons as long as you don’t do anything bad but there are some that are security robots that will either instantly start attacking us or they’ll warn us before attacking us.” Anne explains.

“What do you mean security robots?” Twilight asks confused.

“Well, before the war that caused the world to be the way it is now some people instead of paying security guards to look after their buildings and stuff buy a robot in one go instead of the salary of an actual person.” Anne explained. “They’re quite hard to kill, unlike living things you can shoot both its legs and it’ll stop coming after you but a robot will come after you till it has stopped working altogether which is very bad when ten of them are going after you at once and they can range from small things with enough firepower to scare a mouse and others that are moving tanks.”

“Is Victor one of the walking tanks as you put it? He is very big.” Twilight ask, looking over Victor’s details.

“No, that’s the, umm, what are they called again? Yeah, their called sentry bots and if you ever find yourself pitted against one of them run as fast as you can in the opposite direction, they would wipe the floor with both of us combined.” She said.

“Are they really that bad?”

“Definitely, you’re more likely to just get hit by bullet that was fired off straight into the sky than you are to win a battle against one of them and sometimes there are more than one of them at once.”

“Alright, that’s good to know…”

Anne smiles and turns back to Victor the robot. “So what’s the story with this place?” She asks.

“Novac? Nice enough place I suppose… But between you and me, when I rolled into town my skin started to itch. Watch yourself.” He said, his metallic voice lowering slightly in warning.

Anne nods slightly at that bit of information before a smile broke back out onto her face. “Anyway, it’s nice to see a friendly face out here.” She states.

“Likewise friend, likewise. Is there anything old Vic can do you for?” He asks.

“We could use a bed and some supplies if you know where we can get them.” Anne answered.

“Well, this ain’t New Vegas but I reckon you can find what you need here, try the office out front.” He said.

“Thanks Victor, Twilight and I will head off now, it’s starting to get dark and I would prefer to have an indoor bed to use, and I think the little one would appreciate it as well.” Anne said with a thankful smile.

“Yeah, an actual bed and nod mats on the ground sound quite nice.” Twilight agrees. “It was nice meeting you Victor.”

“Be seeing you two.” He said, lifting one of his tube arms in a wave as the two friends made their way towards the front office connected to the motel rooms.

“Well, he seemed nice, he wasn’t like any robot I read about in my books back at home.” Twilight said as she walked along side Anne.

“Yeah, he’s nice enough but everyone I talked to in Goodsprings where he stayed told me that there was something strange about him, and him being here as well as us seems mighty fishy to me, or it might just be a big old coincident but I don’t know, I hope it is.” Anne said, pushing open the office door and walking in.

The room was a small on, just holding a large built in desk with a few other things around the place like a flickering vending machine and dirty and worn rug too small for the size of the room. The once white paint was grey and peeling off the walls in large parts, more wood and plaster visible than the paint itself. The florescent lights on the farthest part of the room weren’t working, leaving them in the shadows. A radio sat on a small table was playing music through the room at a calming volume. A copper colored sealing fan spun around lazily, trying to cool down the room with the quite hot heat of the Mojave outside. On the desk were the normal things one would expect, things like a cash register and an ashtray but the odd things were the small toy dinosaurs neatly in a row.

A middle aged woman with small reading glasses and a worn green dress sat behind the counter, her graying hair tied into a bun behind her head. Upon approaching the desk Anne could see the behind the desk was a safe built into the floor but Twilight wasn’t tall enough to see and had to stand on her rear hooves and rest her front ones against the desk to see the woman.

“Well, welcome to you, you both look tired from the road. Why don’t you relax a spell, let this fine town take care of you?” The woman asks with a soft smile, adjusting her glasses.

“Hello.” Twilight said with a smile, finally happy she met someone who seemed to be friendly without anything crazy about her. “I’m Twilight and this is Anne.” She greeted.

“Oh, what am I doing? I got to thinking about making a good impression and plain forgot to tell you my name.” She said, looking at Twilight apologetically. “I’m Jeannie May, I take care of folks here at the hotel, long as they aren’t trouble makers.” She said.

Twilight’s smile widened, she definitely liked this person even though they just met. “So, what is this place exactly?” Anne buts in.

Jeannie looked to the woman, her soft smile still there. “We’re in our little desert oasis, name of Novac. This is the Dino Dee-lite Motel and it’s mine.” She said happily.

“I’m looking for a man in a checkered coat, have you seen anyone like that?” Anne asks.

“Well he might’ve been wearing a fancy outfit, but he wasn’t any type of gentleman to me.” She stated, the first time her smile faltered. “Had his nose stuck so high in the air you couldn’t see it above the clouds. City folk, they always think they deserve better than what they got. Those hoodlums he was with seemed to Manny for some reason, he’s our daytime sniper up in the up in the dinosaur’s mouth.” She said.

Anne nodded slightly, knowing that those ‘hoodlums’ were the Great Khans that she heard mention of following the checker suited man. “Thank you, now where might we find supplies?” Anne asks, finally changing the subject to a more pleasant one.

“Go see Cliff Briscoe at the Dino Bite Gift Shop, and tell him I sent you. I think he gets lonely standing around in that dino belly all day, he’ll be glad for the company.” She said, her smile coming back.

“And finally so we can get out of your hair can we please rent a room for the night?”

“Well I think that’s a fine idea, I’ll give you a good flat rate and you can stay as long as you like, least until the busy season comes, sound good?” She said.

“Yeah, that sounds great, how’s a hundred caps for the room?” Anne asked, pulling a pouch from a side pouch of her large bag.

“That’s perfect, I’m glad you both can stay with us.” She said taking the small bag offered to her and putting it into the cash register. “Your room will be the one upstairs, closest to the lobby side.” She says grabbing a key from on the desk and handing it out to Anne. “Here’s your key, let me know if there’s anything I can do to make both your stays better for you.”

Anne grabs the key and gives the woman a smile though it was lost behind her helmet while Twilight visibly smiled at the old woman. “Thank you Jeannie, it was nice to meet you.” Twilight says as she follows Anne out of the office.

“It was nice to meet you too young one.” The old woman’s voice could be heard called out back to the pony.

“Well, she seemed even nicer than Victor.” Twilight stated with a smile.

Anne removed her helmet, carrying it under one of her arms. “I have to agree with you there, but I have to agree with Victor on this one and say something doesn’t seem right about this place, too happy for the wasteland.” Anne said. “But until I know more let just say it’s a happy place here.” She said dismissively, climbing up the stairs to the room that Jeannie told them was theirs for a while.

Sliding the small metal key into the lock Anne pushes the room open and what she saw actually pleasantly surprised her. Although the carpet was terribly stained to the point it looked like someone had a case of spontaneous combustion with the dark browns staining the deep red carpet and the paintings that were on the walls were nothing but the frames it had its own charm with the teddy bear at the foot of the bed or the meal that was ready on a built in table nearby with a safe built into that.

“Huh, this place is actually better than I thought, no wonder Jeannie took pride in this place.” Anne said chucking her helmet onto a couch that was right next to the bed.

On the built in table was also a TV but Anne guessed that there wasn’t any power to go into it and no channels would be operating anymore. But one thing that Anne could tell was working if the soft humming it was making was any indication was the fridge. Going over to it Twilight goes over to the bear and picks it up, glaring faintly at it and whispered softly to it. “You think you can replace Mister Bear? Well no you can’t because Mister Bear is my only bear.” Twilight said, sticking out her tongue at the toy before using her magic to throw the bear onto a hat stand by the door to the room.

Anne was busy checking through the fridge, grinning at what she saw. “Hey Princess, guess what I found?” Anne said, looking over her shoulder at Twilight.

“What is it?”

Anne turns around and faces the pony, a large bottle of Whisky in one hand and a large clear bottle of Vodka in the other. “Up for a little party?” The human offered, smile on her face.

Twilight gave her friend a flat look before her magic surrounded the bottles and they quickly slid down out of Anne’s hands and smashed into the ground, breaking instantly into tiny shards of glass from the force.

“No.”

Chapter 22

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Anne grumbled softly to herself, cradling the dark brown bottle of beer in her hands, the only drink left in the motel room after Twilight threw the rest out a window, managing to convince the pony that beer was low in alcohol and only she would be having it and not her. The beer itself had gone flat over the years and the fridge wasn’t working all too well so it was just below room temperature. But Anne didn’t care as long as she even felt the lingering buzz of alcohol in her blood, making her feel relaxed slightly.

“So Princess, because it’s the evening and the sniper wouldn’t want to be annoyed after stood watch all day we shall just wait till tomorrow so we can set off after we ask him, all our energy recovered.” Anne states, slowly sipping from her drink so she can savor it.

“Alright, I guess that means we just relax until tomorrow morning then.” Twilight says, using her wings to softly fly onto the bed and lay down, stretching out and sighing softly. “You don’t know how much I’ve missed a proper bed Anne, it feels like months since I slept on one.”

“Well you’ve slept on the wooden floor of a shack to a dirty mattress inside a tent at Primm, there are going to be a lot of different places to sleep out here in the Mojave.” Anne states, going to one of the wardrobes in the room and opening it. “Huh, there are quite a few clothes in here, suits, casual wear, a whole different number of things.” Anne observes before grinning to herself. “Hey Twilight?”

“Yeah Anne? What is it?” Twilight asks tiredly, smiling softly as she got to relax finally.

“Could you please go out and get us supplies and while you’re at it just walk around a bit and explore? I have something I need to do and I can’t have you here to do it.” Anne said, turning around and smiling at Twilight.

The pony let out an annoyed groan, looking at Anne with a frown on her face. “Why do I have to go, what are you even going to be doing?” Twilight asks raising an eyebrow.

Anne tried to quickly think of something that Twilight would want nothing to do with, an idea instantly coming to her. “I feel like masturbating and I didn’t think you would feel like staying around.” Anne lied with a large grin.

Twilight’s eyes widened and a large red blush appeared on her cheeks, her ears folding down in embarrassment. “U-ummm, y-you, ahhh-“ She stuttered, Anne trying her hardest not to burst out into laughter of her friends nervousness. “o-okay, I-I guess I’ll leave then…” Twilight says, getting up from the bed.

“Hey, could you sell a few things for me, I’d really appreciate it if you do…” Anne says.

“Fine, what do you want me to sell?” Twilight asks, still blushing deeply.

With a smile Anne gets up and goes over to her bag, pulling out her machete to cut off the belts holding the incinerator onto it. “One thing you can get rid of is this thing, it’s too big and heavy for me to constantly be carrying around everywhere we go and since we got this new rifle which I must say isn’t in the best condition but I can repair it also get rid of the old one.” She said grabbing the varmint rifle and dropping it next to the incinerator. “And a few of the other smaller things like drugs we won’t ever use because they don’t help us in the slightest.” Anne said, pulling out a sack from her bag, slightly jingling before bulling out another one which was almost empty. “This right here is a hundred caps, use it if you need to and put any caps you make into it for us to use later.” She said. “Also buy some food and water for us, they may even have purified water which would be really nice.” Anne finished.

Twilight nodded, using her magic to pick all that Anne gave her up. She only had the holster for Lucky on her, the 9mm and her armored shoulder pad put neatly on a couch next to the double bed in the room.

Outside the sun was starting to set, the land slowly getting dark with the sun barely peeking over the horizon. With a tired sigh Twilight closes the door behind her and starts walking towards the large green dino, Jeannie saying that the store was inside it. Walking close Twilight could see that there was a stair case goin up to where the dinosaur’s stomach would have been if it were alive. Going up the creaky old wooden stairs she enters and looks around.

The shop was sort of cramped with how little space was inside the dino. There was a counter in the middle, one of the small toy dinos on it along with a cash register and a few other things. To the left of here was a small set of shelves which held all sorts of things from scrap metals to small bags of flour. Attached to the roof was a yellow sign with the words ‘Dino Bite Gift Shop’ in large black lettering and just under that in red paint which would have been added a long time after the sign was made read ‘Yes, we have t-rexes’. Behind the counter to the right on the wall was a locked door which didn’t raise any suspicion for Twilight. There was also a dark skinned man with little hair, wearing a pair of blue jeans and a tanned color button up shirt.

Approaching the counter Twilight smiles at him and says. “Hello.”

“Welcome to the Dino Bite Gift Shop, My name’s Cliff. If you’re here t-rex figurines you’re just in time, there’s a few left.” He said in happy voice and a smile.

“Jeannie May sent me.” Twilight said with a smile.

“Bless her, seems like every traveler I get in here tells me the same thing.” He said with a small sigh. “They see the sign and think, gift shop? That’s just too good to be true, but Jeannie May always points them back in my direction. Well, a friend of Jeannie’s is a friend of mine, and my friends get a discount at my store.”

“What do you sell here Cliff?” Twilight asks politely.

“Well, there’s t-rex figurines of cause, that’s our bread and butter.” He said. “We also have an assortment of the REPCONN factory souvenirs, rockets, things of that nature.”

“Rockets? Can you tell me a little bit about them?”

“They’re scale replicas of the real thing, very detailed, got a liquid in them that makes them glow. From what I hear REPCONN used to give them out on tours of their HQ up in Henderson.” He said. “But I guess they had to stop after the first few kids thought they were filled with Nuka-cola and drank it down. The papers had a name for the condition and everything, they called it the ‘REPCONN Shakes’, those were bad times for RobCo.”

“How did they end up here?” Twilight asks tilting her head.

“Well, they unloaded what they had left on the Dino Bite as a tax write-off but that was before my time. Plenty of demand for them, seeing as they’re one-of-a-kind collectors’ items but I might still have some out back.” He said.

“Back to the supplies, do you have guns? Do you sell those?” She asked.

“Guns? I, well, uhhh well… yeah I guess I might have a few.” He says with a sigh. “Darn it, no one ever buys the t-rexes.”

“Can I see what you have for sale?” The pony asks softly.

“Sure thing, take a look around, I’ll unlock the back room to show you some of the other things.” He said, pulling out a key to unlock that door to the side and walked in.

After a few moments he came back out with a cardboard box in his hands and put it on the counter, starting to pull out a number of different things, one of which was a small t-rex toy. Lifting up the incinerator Twilight put it on the counter and asked. “How much you willing to give me for this?” She asks.

“Mind if I hold it?” he asks.

“Sure.”

Picking it up in both arms he starts to look it over, trying to see any damage to it. “Well the metal is scratched up and looks quite worn, I’ll give you seven hundred for it.” He says calmly.

Knowing this was like a trade for goods Twilight decided to barter. “Well you don’t have one of these in your stock so that means if someone else were to come in here and ask if you had one you could sell it for a higher price because there isn’t much choice, think about it…”

“Fine, I’ll pay seven seventy five for it.” He states.

Twilight guessed that was good and then picks up the varmint rifle and puts it on the desk. “How much for this?” She asks.

“For this thing, I say fifty, they’re quite common and thus not that expensive.” He says.

Twilight nods, knowing she had seen quite a lot of them in her time in the Mojave and decided not to complain.

Finally she grabbed the bag of drugs Anne had given her, opening it and dumping it onto the table. There was a range of things from an inhaler with an orange liquid in the handle to a tin of Mentats. “How much for all these?” She asked.

“I’ll give you fourteen caps for each of them.” He stated.

“So all of them that would be, uhhh, one hundred and seventy two.” Twilight said with a smile.

He nods. “Yep so altogether that comes to one thousand and ninety seven I owe you.” He says before ducking down under his desk before popping back up. “Well, I only have five hundred and eight, is there anything you want to buy to even it all out?”

“How about some food?” Twilight asks.

He smiles and pulls out a few boxes of food and two bottles of water, the liquid clear and not fogged brown like ones the pony has had before. “This is all we have here.”

“I’ll take both the waters and maybe this box of… ‘Sugar Bombs’.” Twilight states with a smile.

“Well that’s purified water so that’s twenty one each and the Sugar Bombs are five each.” He said.

“So that’s forty two for the water and let’s have all three boxes of these things so that’s fifty seven for that so that means you still owe me one thousand and forty.” Twilight said, doing all the math in her head.

“Alright, anything else? Those guns maybe?” He asks gesturing to the number of guns he had taken from the box.

Twilight looked over the guns until a large rifle caught her eye. “What about this one?” Twilight asks.

“Well that one right there is a point three zero eight, that will run you about thirteen thousand caps.” He said.

Twilight’s eyes widened, knowing that they didn’t have anywhere near that amount of money. Moving onto the next few which were the exact same gun as Twilight’s Lucky revolver but a silver color instead of the black and decorated one Twilight had. Moving onto the next one which happened to be another revolver but this one was different, it had a longer cylinder and was a lot thicker all around. “What about this one?” She asks.

“This one is a pistol that shoots five point five six rifle bullets, quite powerful and costs nine hundred and twenty nine.” Cliff says.

“Alright, I’ll take it, that leaves you owing me one hundred and eleven caps left.” Twilight says with a smile.

“Do you want to buy any bullets?” He asks.

“Yes, I’ll have a box of point three five seven’s, a box of nine millimeters, a box of ten millimeters, a box of five point five six’s and finally a box of twenty gauge rounds.” Twilight says, Cliff getting out each box each time it was called out.

“Alright, let’s say that comes to two hundred caps and I’ll throw in a t-rex figurine for being such a good customer.” He said with a smile.

Twilight nodded, pulling out the bag of caps Anne gave her. “So that’s eighty nine I owe you.” She says, pulling that number out and putting it on the table.

Grabbing the caps he puts them into a box he pulled out and put it back under the desk. “Pleasure doing business with you little lady.” Cliff says with a nod, taking all the stuff Twilight gave him and taking it into the side room.

“No, thank you Cliff, it was really nice to meet you.” Twilight says with a large smile, using her magic to grab everything that she bought and leaving, taking it back to the room that Anne and her had.

Walking in she was pleasantly surprised when she didn’t just smell sex in the air and actually saw Anne sitting on the bed with a large smile on her face, a cardboard box in her lap. “I lied princess… I was actually making something for you.” The woman said with a smile.

“You made me something? You didn’t have to do that.” Twilight said, not being able to stop the large happy smile on her face, floating everything she had over to the corner as she made her way to the bed.

Anne moved over to the opposite edge so Twilight could hop on and still fit, the pony sitting on the side across from the woman. “Alright, close your eyes and put out your arms so I can give it to you.” Anne says with a smile.

Twilight rolls her eyes and sighs but does what her friend tells her and closes her eyes, putting her front hooves out in front of her.

She could feel something be placed in her hooves, sagging slightly and it felt rather heavy.

“Alright, you can open your eyes now.” She heard Anne’s voice say.

Opening her eyes and looking into her hooves she sees a large folded up bit of black clothing. Using her magic to unfold it she held it up, finding that it was a rather thick full body covering, a large zipper going along the stomach with two holes on the back for the pony’s wings and one on her rump for her tail. It only went up to the beginning of the neck. It had two large pockets on her sides just forward where her wings would be and it covered all but the bottom of the hooves.

“What do you think? I’m not the best tailor I know but I did the best I could with what I got.” Anne explained. “I layered the fabric on quite a few times so it should help a little with slashing knives, not so much stabbing or bullets. Later on we would be able to put metal plates into pockets I have on the inside to protect against stabbing and smaller bullets but right now I don’t have the resources for such a thing.” Anne said.

“Thank you so much Anne, this means a lot to me.” Twilight says with a large thankful smile.

“Hey, don’t worry about it princess, I’m your friend and friends do stuff for each other.” Anne says with a smile of her own.

“Well I’ll have to remember to do something nice for you next time I can.” Twilight states.

“You could not break the alcohol next time…”

“I said nice, not stupid.”

Chapter 23

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Twilight decided to try on her newly made clothing, testing it out for Anne to make sure everything fit alright and didn’t need adjusting. Anne was just wearing the under padding for her metal armor, feeling that now they were in a safe settlement she didn’t need to carry it all around, only having her weathered 10mm pistol in its holster and the new holster for the 5.56mm pistol, holding the actual gun in her hands as she looks it over, clicking the cylinder in and out, only a small flick on a switch on the side putting it out or putting it back in, seeming to be electronic along with the small green light above the cylinder when it was ready to be fired and when the safety was on it turned a deep red.

“This gun should get a name, what do you think we should call it?” Anne asked idly.

“What? That gun?” Twilight asks looking at Anne.

“Alright, we’ll call it That Gun, an odd name but who cares about it.” Anne said with a smile, putting the gun onto the holster she had attached under her left arm so she could access it easily and comfortably.

“Really? I was just asking if you meant the new gun I got from the Dino Bite Gift Shop, not suggesting a name.” Twilight said, her hoof connecting with her face with a slapping sound.

“Well do you have a different name for it right now?” The human asked.

“Well, not right now but give me a few minutes and I could come up with something.” Twilight said.

“So if you haven’t come up with a name I’m sticking with the one I thought of using, so from this day forth it will be called That Gun…”

“Wouldn’t it get confusing in the long run of things? If you ask me ‘hey, can you grab that gun for me’ how do I know if you mean the revolver or a totally different gun?”

“Meh, You’ll figure something out, you’re smart like that.”

Twilight let out an annoyed groan, rubbing the side of her head to try and get rid of the headache she had. She was very thankful that the woman made her the black covering, she felt a little better when bullets were flying at her even though she knew that they wouldn’t stop much until they were able to put metal plates into it but something was better than nothing, and she could also now carry things without Anne having to use her quite filled up backpack, already having a bottle of water and two of the boxes of Sugar Bombs she bought along with the boxes of ammunitions that she used. She now didn’t feel as useless as she did before but still felt like she wasn’t doing as much as her friend, wanting to have more opportunities to show that she can look out for them as well.

“So, because we’re just chilling right now do you want to go to the look out in the dino’s mouth and just watch?” Anne offered. “Who knows, maybe we could do stuff like talking about boys or dresses if that’s more your thing…” Anne said walking towards the stairs that Twilight did earlier for the supplies she bought.

“No thank you, I more care about mu studies under Princess Celestia than I do courting stallions and my friend Rarity is more about dresses than myself, I don’t really know much about that type of stuff.” Twilight said.

“Then let’s talk about your home back in Equestria.” Anne said, getting the name wrong.

“Equestria.” Twilight corrected.

“Yeah, Equestria, whatever.” Anne says. “All I mean is that you know a fair amount of the Mojave, my home, and I don’t know much about yours or your friends besides the princesses with the really weird things their rulers over.” Anne states.

“Well, I could tell you about my home if you really want me to…” Twilight said, surprised that her human friend who seemed like she didn’t really care asking her about her home and friends.

“Sure, that sounds really nice Twilight.” Anne says with a smile.

“Well then, I’d be more than happy to tell you about my life in Equestria.” Twilight says with a smile of her own, the two approaching the door to enter the large dinosaur.

“Hi Cliff.” Twilight says as they enter, waving at the man who was about to open the door himself.

“Why hello there, I was just leaving for the night, did you want to buy something?” he asks, smiling softly at seeing Twilight again.

“No thank you, Anne and I were just going up to the mouth of this dinosaur to admire the view.” Twilight said, Anne feeling like the third wheel.

“Well then, good night to the both of you.” He said, letting the two girls step in before leaving behind them.

“Good night Cliff!” Twilight called out after him.

“I take it that was the shopkeeper here?” Anne asks.

“Yep, that was Cliff, he’s very nice.” Twilight says with a bright smile.

“Yeah, I’m sort of freaked out by Jeannie though, she just rubs me the wrong way like she has something she’s hiding and doesn’t want anyone to know.” Anne said, bring a hand to her chin as she starts walking up the second flight stairs that head to the mouth.

Opening the door they come face to face with a man, or more like the back of a man as he was facing out of the mouth himself.

He was wearing a dirty white shirt that was now grey and a pair of cargo pants and his muscles were quite visible against the shirt and along his arms. He had a red beret on his head with a small yellow patch on it which had a skull with two crossed rifles behind it with the word ‘NCR RECON’ above it and at the bottom ‘THE LAST THING YOU’LL NEVER SEE’. On his back was a large rifle with a scope attached to the top.

“Umm, hi?” Anne says uncertainly.

The man jumps slightly, turning around to face the two, a look of annoyance on his face, his large sunglasses covering his eyes even though the sun was almost set all the way. “Goddman it, don’t sneak up on me like that, what do you want?” He asked in a grizzled sounding voice, his attitude showing that he didn’t take shit from anyone.

“Well we just came up to enjoy the view…” Anne admitted, a little confused at this conversation.

“There’s nothing up here.” He stated simply.

Anne, not being the brightest person decided to say flatly. “There’s a sniper.”

His eyes narrowed. “I think you better leave.” He stated, his voice sounding cold.

“Do you treat everyone around here like this?” The woman asks scowling slightly.

His angry look left almost as fast as it came. “Wait, you just got into town, maybe you shouldn’t leave, not just yet…” He said.

“Oh? So now you want something from us?” Anne asks raising an eyebrow.

“I need someone I can trust, you’re strangers, that’s a start.” He states.

Twilight tilted her head to the side in confusion. “You only trust strangers?”

The man looked down at the pony, his stern look back full force. “I said it was a start, this town… no one looks me straight in the eye anymore.” He states.

“What do you even want us to do?” Anne asks.

“I want you to find something out for me, I don’t know if there’s anything to find, but I need someone to try. My wife was taken from our home by Legion slavers one night while I was one watch.” He stated. “They knew when to come and what route to take and they only took Carla, someone set it up, I don’t know who.” He said.

Anne’s not amused look fell now that she heard the news, feeling like an ass while Twilight felt sorry for the man. “Are you trying to find your wife?” twilight asks softly.

“My wife’s dead, I want the son of a bitch that sold her.” He stated, driving the dagger deeper into Anne for how she acted.

“And what do we do if we find this person?” Anne asks.

“Bring him out in front of the nest while I’m on duty, I work nights. I’ll give you my NCR beret to put on, it’ll be our signal so I know who you’re standing with.” He states. “And I’ll take care of the rest, I need to do this myself.”

“We’ll see what we can do to help.” Anne agrees.

“Yeah, we’ll do what we can to help.” Twilight agrees.

“Good.” He says, taking off the beret before chucking it to Anne, the woman catching it. “I’ll make it worth your while, and one more thing, we shouldn’t speak again, not until it’s over.” He stated. “No one in town knows that I know what happened to my wife, best they never know, or the Legion will be after me next.”

“Alright, we’ll see you later mister…”

“Boone, call me Boone.” He said simply.

“Alright, I’m Anne and this is Twilight, I guess we’ll be going now.” Anne said, stepping back awkwardly with Twilight close behind her.

Closing the door to the mouth Twilight looked at Anne and Anne look at Twilight.

“What just happened?” Anne asked.

“I think we just agreed to go looking around for any proof to who stole Boone’s wife.” Twilight said tilting her head in confusion.

“Should we do what we said we’d do?”

“Yes Anne, we did tell him that we would at least look into it, it’s rude to lie to someone.”

“But it’s like finding a needle in a hay stack, where do we even look for something like a bill of sale?” Anne asked.

“Well there are locked places all around town that I’ve seen, maybe it’s in them?” Twilight offered.

“Alright, that sounds like that’s a good place to start, let’s just hope that it isn’t actually on anyone, if it is we’re really screwed because I can’t pickpocket if my life depended on it.” Anne said.

“I saw a locked door down in the shop, maybe we should check there first?” Twilight said.

“Alright, then we should check that safe that was in the floor in the main office.”

“Cool, we’ll go to the shop and check out that door first because we’re closest to that.”

Walking down to where Cliff was before he left Twilight approached the door and with a small flash of her horn all the tumblers inside were put into the right position with a click. Pulling the door open the pair peek inside, surprised at what they saw.

“Rocket ships, didn’t expect that.” Anne states confused.

“Cliff said that they were one-of-a-kind collector’s items, how is that the case with so many being here?”

Inside was hundreds of small metal rockets, small little windows on the side glowing with a faint cyan light, each one in a very neat grouping. There was also a ton of those little toy dino’s, each one ready to be sold even though they aren’t really in high demand. As soon as Anne took a step inside the room her Pip-Boy started to let out a small clicking sound, making the woman step back out.

“This room is radioactive, I’d blame the toy rockets for that, the glowing stuff inside them would be an isotope that makes them glow, not very healthy for anyone around them.”

“I know that, Cliff said that they used to be giving out on tours at a rocket place called REPCONN, said they were moved here after foals started drinking from them, I hope none of them were badly hurt.”

“Well by now they’re all dead anyway, that was more than two hundred years ago.” Anne said with a shrug.

Twilight let out a sad sigh, she knew that besides alicorns so one lived that long.

“Now come on, let’s go check out that safe, I bet you a hundred caps that some evidence is in there.”

Chapter 24

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“Are you sure we should be doing this? What if Jeannie sees us, I don’t want to upset her, she seems so nice.” Twilight protested softly, watching as Anne tapped her food, stood right next to the floor-safe in the front office, the human waiting for the pony to sue her magic to open the safe.

“Yes, we need to check in here and we won’t even be taking anything, we’re looking if there’s a note in here mentioning Boone’s wife, if not we close it and leave, we’ll just look somewhere else, no harm done.” Anne says.

Twilight lets out a tired sigh. “It’s late, can’t we just go to sleep and come back in the morning?” Twilight ask, making herself let out a yawn to show she was tired though Anne waved a hand dismissively.

“Ain’t no rest for the wicked princess, I don’t want to stay here longer than we need to and if we want to do this it’ll have to be at night when Boone’s working and in the day Jeannie will be sat about two feet from where we are now so if we’re going to do this then we’re doing it tonight.” Anne states crossing her arms.

With another sigh Twilight’s horn starts to glow and after a few moments a soft click sound came from the lock on the safe, the door popping ajar slightly. “There, it’s open, if we get caught I’m not taking the blame.” Twilight muttered, taking a few steps back.

Anne nods once before crouching down and rummaging through the opened safe. “Alright, some old pre-war money, a bottle of wine, one of sarsaparilla, some bottle caps I’m forcing myself not to take and here we are, a dirty piece of paper with writing on it, do you want me to read it all out for you?” Anne asked.

“Sure, what does it say?” Twilight answers.

“Alright, We, the representatives of the Consul Officiorum have this day bargained and purchased from Jeannie May Crawford of the township of Novac the exclusive rights to the ownership and sale of the slave Carla Boone for the sum of a thousand bottle caps.” Anne said, a grin breaking out on her face. “See, I told you Jeannie had something bad with her.” Anne stated.

Twilight looked heartbroken, one of the only people she had met who were as friendly as the ponies she knew back in Equestria turned out to be a monster. “B-but how could she do that? She seemed so nice, why did she do it?”

“Wait, there’s more, so the sale of the slave Carla Boone and those of…” The small smile she had on her face from proving herself right about Jeannie falling. “And those of her unborn child for the sum of five hundred bottle caps…” She said, reading though the rest of it quickly. “That fucker, if Boone didn’t want to do it I would kill her, the rest of it is all about how the ‘fetus’, depends on how good it is or not will net her a little bit of extra money.” Anne growled, pulling her lighter out of her pocket and burning the paper, letting it fall to the ground and burn away to ash.

“H-he was a father? No wonder he was so upset about it…” Twilight said softly.

“Oh, if I were him there wouldn’t be anything left of that bitch, come on.” Anne stated, using her foot to close door of the safe. “Let’s go find her an-“ She was saying before the door to the office opened up, Jeannie walking in.

Upon seeing the two her eyes widened in surprise. “Oh, I’m sorry, I must have gotten to tell you that I leave to go back home at nine, I just came back because I left my reading glasses here.” She said softly, a smile on her old face at seeing two of the newest arrivals at her town. “What were you two needing, I’ll do anything I can to help.”

“Well as my friend and I were going for a walk around this lovely town we saw something in front of the dinosaur and were wondering if you could take a look at it to see if you might know what it is.” Anne said simply, trying to keep her face pleasant even after she read the note while Twilight was still slightly shell shocked at the news, trying to wrap her head around it.

She let out a tired sigh. “Okay, if that’s what you think…” She said, opening the door before heading out.

Anne started to go after her until she relised that her friend wasn’t following along with her, with a sigh of her own she grabbed the collar of Twilight’s new clothing and tugged on it a few times. “Come on, we need to go.” Anne said.

“H-how could she do something like that?” Twilight asked weakly, looking at the floor in a state of shock.

Kneeling down in front of her friend Anne knew that Twilight was having a hard time right now so she wasn’t going to make it any harder for her. “Hey, it’s okay Twilight, I know this must be a lot to take in right now but that’s just how some people are out here.” She said. “That’s why I want to find a way to get you home, so you don’t have to think about any of this, I like the sound of pony land, with how friendly it is and all the friends you have…”

Twilight stayed silent a few more moments before saying. “Equestria, not pony land.” She stated softly.

“Equestria, yes, sorry, my memory hasn’t been the best after a head injury I had a while just before meeting you.” Anne said, smiling. “But we need to hurry now or Boone won’t know that it’s Jeannie.” Anne said standing back up. Pulling Boone’s beret out of one of her pockets she flattened it back out and put it on her head, heading for the door.

Twilight now started to follow the woman, still in her depressed state. Seeing that Anne was a fair ways ahead with Jeannie she ran up to catch up, not wanting to be left behind.

“Nice night isn’t it? I can see why you two decided to go for a lovely walk.” The older woman said with a faint smile.

“Yeah, it is.” Anne agrees, looking up at the large dino, almost out the front of it.

Once out the front Jeannie looked around for what she was brought out to see. “Okay, wha-“ She started but was never able to finish.

With a loud crack from just above them Jeannie’s head all but was blow away, chunks of brain and skull flying in all directions. Her body just collapsed to the ground, not a sound more out of her besides the wet splats of her head chunks landing on the ground.

Anne doesn’t even move in the slightest as a small bit of blood splashes across her face, making a line thing go from jaw to forehead. “Alright, we’re done here.” Anne states flatly, turning around to leave.

Twilight nodded, already facing the other direction, not even seeing what happened but from the sounds she knew already. “O-okay, let’s go back to Boone and tell him…” Twilight says.

Back up in the mouth when they got there Boone was busy reloading his gun slowly, in no hurry to get it done. Turning around to face the two he gave them a solemn look. “That it then, how did you know?”

“We found a bill of sale.” Anne stated sadly, taking the beret off her head and holding it out to Boone who took it and put it back onto his extremely shortly cut hair.

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, it’d be like them to keep paperwork.” He said before reaching into one of the pockets on his cargo pants and pulling a small sack out. “Here, this is all I can give, I think our dealings are done here.” He states as he hands Anne the bag, a hundred caps inside.

“What will you do now?” Twilight asks softly.

“I don’t know, I won’t be staying I know that, don’t see much point in anything right now, except hunting legionaries.” He said. “Maybe I’ll wander, like you two…”

“Come with us then, we don’t like the Legion either.” Anne said.

“You don’t want to do that.” He stated.

“I thought snipers worked in teams.” Anne said crossing her arms.

He lets out a thoughtful sigh before saying. “Yeah, working on your own you’re a lot less effective, I’ve been there and paid for it. But this isn’t going to end well.” He stated before sighing again. “Fine, let’s get out of here.”

Anne nods. “The princess and I were going to head off to bed now, we’ll be leaving first thing in the morning.” She said.

Boone looked blankly at them. “Alright, I’ll be waiting down by the dinosaur tail at nine in the morning, don’t leave me waiting too long.” He said walking past the two and making his way down to the hotel room he had so he could rest up for the traveling he was going to do.

“Alright Princess, we can finally go get some rest so you can stop your complaining, let’s go.” Anne said, going through the door as well to the exit of the dinosaur.

Twilight lingered a few more moments, looking out of the view of the brown and gray landscape of the Mojave, lifeless and desolate, if she didn’t know any better she would have said that no one had ever been here with how still everything was. With a tired sigh Twilight started to make her way down along with her friend, moving along quite slowly back towards the hotel room.

Upon entering she found Anne laying on the bed, the under padding of her armor folded neatly on a couch with all the metal plates for her armor along with the holsters and guns, only wearing a grey tank top and worn navy blue underwear. In the woman’s hand was a cigarette, a thin line of grey smoke coming out. “Want to know something that I hate? Even though that woman deserved to die for what she did I should be having nightmares for what happened to her but the thing I hate is I’ll sleep as soundly as a babe, I don’t want to be heartless to other’s lives but after a while death just becomes something in a part of life.” The woman said, taking a drag of her cigarette.

Twilight just lets out a tired sigh, using her magic to undo her clothing and folding it up neatly, putting it down next to Anne’s stuff along with her weapons and holsters for them. “How long do you think it’ll take for me to get home Anne?” Twilight asks softly as she climbs onto the bed next to her friend.

“To be honest, I don’t know, we’d need a lot of caps to pay for anything we’d make and we’d also need something like a lab to do it in, I hear that there’s an old casino from before the war that was never touched by the warheads of the war and no one has looted yet because of a cloud of fog that has swept through there, we might someday go there for the money and there are rumors of a science facility called the Big Empty. There hopefully will be something there that can help you get back to your friends and family, I promise that as long as I’m alive I’ll help you.” The woman stated, turning to look at her friend and giving her a smile.

“Thanks Anne, that means a lot to me to know that you’re there for me…” Twilight says, feeling her chest heat up and a small blush appear on her face, Anne had been rather kind to her so far besides the friendly banter, did she like her?

“Don’t mention it, now let’s get some sleep, we have a big day tomorrow and I don’t want you dropping from fatigue on me.” Anne said.

“Fine, let’s get some sleep.” Twilight said with a yawn, using her magic to float her actual toy bear into her waiting hooves.

“Hey Twilight?”

“Yes Anne?”

“Want to spoon now?”

THUD

“No!”

Chapter 25

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Twilight woke to the feeling of something hard and warm pressed against her stomach, the thing digging into the soft flesh. Groaning softly she opened her eyes and looked at her abdomen, seeing Anne was using her as a living pillow, Twilight somehow getting moved so she was laying down where the flattened pillows were her wings spread out with one under the still sleeping woman. Sighing softly she starts poking Anne’s cheek with the edge of her hoof.

“Anne, wake up.” Twilight says softly, not wanting to shock Anne awake. “It’s morning, we don’t want to be late to meet up with Boone.”

All that go in response was a small mumble from the sleeping Anne.

“Anne.” Twilight said in a normal volume, poking slightly harder at Anne’s cheek. “Wake up.”

“I don’t want to.” The woman mumbled, trying to swat away Twilight’s hoof that was poking her.

Twilight let out an annoyed groan, her horn starting to glow before Anne’s head was lifted up so the pony could get out from under the grumbling woman. “If you won’t wake up I’m going to do what I do to Spike if he refuses to get up.” Twilight said as she got off the bed.

“And what’s that?” The woman grumbles, not really caring as long as she could keep sleeping in an actual bed and not just a mattress on the ground.

Without saying anything another word Twilight’s horn glowed again and Anne was rolled over off the bed, landing with a loud thud on the stained carpet. “Gah! What was that for?!” Anne exclaims, sitting up and rubbing her head as she glared tiredly at her companion.

“We have a schedule to keep with meeting Boone, I don’t want to be late and I can’t leave before you are up and about to help with things.” Twilight says using her magic again to throw at Anne the under padding of her armor but not the plates, she didn’t want to hurt the woman, just wake her up.

Anne grumbles, taking the black under padding off her head before getting up. “Next time you try to sleep in I’m going to fire a gun close by to scare the shit out of you.”

Twilight grimaced. “I don’t do that when I’m scared, even really scared.” Twilight stated.

Anne slapped her own forehead. “It’s a figure of speech, I don’t literally scaring the shit out of you, that would be gross.” She admits, starting to put on the dirty padding, smelling like sweat and burnt.

Twilight blushed slightly, feeling silly that she didn’t get what Anne originally said. “Oh, that makes more sense…”

“Of cause it does, I’m the smartest fucker in the world.” Anne states flatly, making sure all the straps were on securely before going over to the couch and attaching them to the padding.

“Well I can agree with you not being stupid.” Twilight said.

“And not with me being smart?”

“I think that’s pushing it now.” Twilight said with a small smirk, starting to put on her new black clothing, attaching her holsters to each of her front legs.

Anne couldn’t help but let out a large laugh. “Did you just bad mouth me? Wow, I didn’t think you had the guts to do that, even if it was really only just suggested at what you mean, I’m actually proud of you on that.” Anne says with a grin, now putting on her holsters and weapons onto her body.

Twilight blushed and gave Anne a sheepish grin, her ears flattening down in embarrassment. “Well I don’t normally do it.” She said timidly.

“No, no, go ahead and insult me, I’d love to have fun banter with you and if you throw some insults at me I won’t feel like such a dick if I throw some back you, not actually meaning any of it, everything will be in good humor.” Anne said grabbing her bag and putting it on before putting the large guns over that for easy access.

“A-as I said, I don’t normally do something like that.”

“Well I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it, it’ll make things funnier.” Anne said. “Anyway, let’s get to the tail, it’s almost nine.” She said taking a glace down at the Pipboy on her arm.

“Alright, let’s go then.” Twilight says heading for the door with Anne followed close behind her.

Exiting the room they are greeted by the burning sun above them, just over the mountains in the distance, showing the start of a new day. Half of the Dinosaur was bathed in the light, the rest casting a shadow across a few of the small apartments not attached to the main motel building. Boone was leaning up against the tail, bored look on his face as he played around with his high powered rifle, soft clicking sounds coming from the weapon.

Upon seeing the pair make their way towards him he just gives them a small nod, his face blank of expression. “About time you got up, I was starting to think that you weren’t going to show.” He said flatly, putting his rifle back onto his back.

“Yes, well Anne was refusing to wake up so I had to force her out of bed.” Twilight says with a faint smirk.

“That’s not true.” Anne protested stupidly.

“Sure it isn’t.” Boone says flatly, his glasses covering his eyes. “Can we go now? I don’t want to stay here any longer than I need to.”

“Yes, once we find direction to a man that came through this town, a man called Manny knows where they went so we’re going up to see if he’ll tell us.” Anne said with a smile.

Boone’s eyebrows furrow. “Manny? I think it’d be best if I wait here then, we’re on bad blood at the moment.” He stated.

“Why are you on ba-“ Twilight started before Anne slapped her hand over the pony’s mouth.

“That’s none of our business Princess, not let’s go up to the mouth already.” Anne said, pulling along Twilight by her jaw slightly.

“Fine, just hurry up slow poke.”

Once back up in the mouth the two come across another man, this time being more dressed than Boone was. He was wearing a red shirt with a black leather vest over that and a pair of patch work pants, the fabric all a deep grey color with stiches all along it, holding it together. But what he did have in common with Boone was the red Beret on his head and the hunting rifle on his back, this time without a scope.

He turned around upon hearing the door open and had a small friendly smile. “What's going on man?” He asks.

“Well my friend and I are looking for a man in a checkered coat, have you seen him?” Anne asks.

“Sure I know him, what do you want with him.” He asks crossing his arms.

“He stole something of mine, I want it back.” Anne states.

“You talking about that chip?” He asks, the mention of the item perking Anne’s interest more, this had to be the right man. “Man, I don’t think he’s giving it up.” He said apologetically “Well listen, I can definitely help you find him but I’ve got problems of my own. Maybe we can do a trade, you need my help, there’s something I need too.”

Anne let out a sigh. “Fine, what do you need?” She asks.

“Novac, it's home for me now, I want that to be for good, I like it here, and I've left too many homes behind.” He said. “But the only resource we got here is junk, without that people wouldn't have anything to trade they'd all have to leave. We get most of it up the road from the old rocket test site, but a bunch of ghouls showed up one day and took it over, we can't get in there now.”

“Why don’t you deal with it?” The woman asks annoyed.

“I would, but I've gotta watch the road, Caesar's Legion has been taking territory just east of here, they took Nelson.” He stated. “If we let our guard down they might attack, all it takes for the Legion is for them to sense weakness.”

“What needs to be done?” Twilight asks, wanting to stop her friend from being as rude as she was being, guessing she just wasn’t a morning person.

“Well they gotta go or this’ll be a ghost town before long. Doesn’t matter to me what you do, as long as the ghouls are out of there it’s good enough for me.”

“Fine, we’ll see what can be done about it.” Anne mumbled.

“Thanks, it’d mean a lot to me.” He said seriously.

With a small wave goodbye from Twilight the two make their way back down to the tail of the dino where Boone was waiting. “Where are we off to?” He asks.

“The old REPCONN place, do you know where it is?” Twilight said, remembering that Cliff mentioned that the rocket test site was called REPCONN but she didn’t know what it was meant to be a shorting of yet.

“Yes, I can take us there.” He said stopping his leaning. “You two think you’re ready to go then?”

Anne looks at Twilight who gives her a nod. “Yeah, I think we’re ready.” Said the woman.

Boone doesn’t say anything else, just giving Anne a quick nod before turning around and starting to walk down one of the main roads in the direction the two came from but taking a different fork then back the way they came.

“So Anne, I heard Manny mention that this place has been overtaken by ghouls, what are they?” Twilight asks.

“Well, you know how I told you radiation is bad and too much of it will kill you or mutate your body in such a way you’d wish it killed you?”

“Yeah?”

“Well if you take a huge amount of it and it doesn’t kill you there is a very small chance that you’d turn into a ghoul.” Anne explained. “It’s when the person’s body dies but they keep on living, a bit like a zombie but quite a lot of them still have their thoughts and you can talk easily with. So their skin is peeling off and muscle is exposed and in the worst case you can see bone and they smell like corpses and most don’t have any hair they are still normal people underneath, some even surviving the original nukes that hit everywhere, having lived two hundred and something years.” Anne said.

“You said quite a lot of them, what happens to the rest that become ghouls?” Twilight asks.

“They go feral.” Boone said, looking over his shoulder at the two. “They lose their minds and go insane, acting like a real zombie, trying to kill anything that moves and eating anything with meat on it’s bones except other ghouls.”

Twilight swallowed nervously. “So would this place be filled with the nice ghouls or the mean ghouls?”

“Almost certainly the bad ones, people don’t tend to be kept back altogether with the nice ones, we’ll be facing the feral ones but they aren’t too bad, just don’t let them get close enough to lunge at you or they’ll bite. And a human bite is powerful enough to break bones so be careful.” Anne warned.

Twilight felt a little fearful about having to go to this place now, real life zombies would be there as the other two humans put it. “A-Anne, I don’t think I can do this.”

The two humans stop and turn around, Boone looking sympathetically while Anne approaches and kneels down, resting a hand on Twilight’s shoulder. “Hey, it’s going to be okay, just stick close to either Boone or I and you’ll be fine, you don’t even have to shoot, just stay behind one of us.” Anne said with a soft smile. “Just take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down, I don’t want you freaking out on us.”

Twilight closes her eyes and starts to take some deep breaths, holding a hoof to her chest with each inhale and extending it with every exhale. After a minute or two she opened her eyes and looked at her friend, giving her a soft smile. “Thank you.” She says softly.

“You don’t need to thank us, just remember that you have the biggest stick with a gun, I don’t think the feral ones are actually smart enough to use any weapon.” Anne said, patting her on the head before getting back up. “Alright Boone, keep going.

They all continue walking traveling along until Twilight couldn’t help but notice a glowing green lump on the ground. “Ummm, guys, what’s that?”

Anne squints her eyes for a moment until she sees it as well, pulling out her old 10mm pistol and not the new one. “Weapons out every one.” She said, Boone taking his rifle off his back and Twilight hesitantly pulling out Lucky.

Getting closer to it Anne quickly goes up ahead to make sure it was all right. “It’s a dead ghoul!” She called out to the others, her arm faintly clicking. “And it’s a glowing one!”

The other two approach and Twilight gets to take the first look of a ghoul. This one seemed to have a deep green glow coming from inside them, its skin seeming to be almost transparent, black sickly veins could easily be seen from inside and with the skin hugging the bones as tightly as they did with the very little meat on them one could also see most of them. Its skin was missing in quite a few places, exposing the light green flesh underneath.

In all the sight of this thing caused one reaction from the pony.

She started vomiting again.

Chapter 26

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Twilight continues to empty her already near empty stomach onto the cracked stone road, why did the Wasteland have to constantly throw things at her that made her sick to her stomach. After a while she stopped and tried to spit the taste out of her mouth, Anne handing her a bottle. “Thanks…”

“Don’t mention it Princess, seeing a ghoul isn’t the prettiest thing there is.” The woman stated sympathetically.

“How long has that thing even been dead?” The pony asks.

Boone pokes the half decomposed body with the tip of one of his head combat boots. “I’d say around a day or so, sometimes their bodies just get so old and rotten that they just drop dead, things like their heart or brain getting eaten away by bugs and the like.” He said.

“A day?” Twilight asks shocked, taking a gulp of the water before spitting it back out to try and wash the flavor out of her mouth before taking a sip and drinking it this time, she was rather thirsty. “It looks so old and skinny, it’s like there’s no muscle on it…”

“That’s because there isn’t.” Anne said with a sigh. “Ghouls don’t eat much besides meat, and after two hundred or so years there isn’t much you can actually get and thus your body starts eating away at your muscles and make you look like a walking skeleton.”

“We should probably get moving now.” Boone states, putting his rifle back onto his back and crossing his arms as he waits for the two friends to do what they were doing.

Anne patted the pony on the shoulder before standing back up. “Yeah, Boone’s right, we should probably get going now.” Anne agrees.

Twilight sighs and floats the half empty bottle back to Anne and the woman puts it back into her bag before starting to walk up the road again.

“So Boone...” Anne says.

“What is it?” He answers gruffly.

“Tell us about yourself, we’d like to know about our new companion on our journey.”

“If you want, it’s not really my thing, what do you want to know?”

Anne started small, just to get him to open up with them. “What outfit did you serve in the military with?” She asks.

“First NCR Recon, it’s a sniper battalion, sees a lot of action. They moved us around a lot, I was stationed up in Camp Golf for a while. Last I heard they’re at Camp McCarran.”

“How did you join them?” Twilight asks as she walks alongside the much taller humans.

“They pick you out if you do well on the firing range, pays a little better so I said okay.”

“I take it that that’s a First Recon beret?” Anne asks.

“Yeah, you can tell by the patch. Bear skull with crossed rifles behind it, slogan underneath.”

“What’s the slogan?” The pony asks.

“‘The last thing you never see.’ Pretty accurate, and so were we.”

“What’s Camp McCarran?” The purple alicorn asks.

“Was an airport before the war, command liked it because it was already fortified and it let them keep an eye on the Strip. They’ve got an old monorail that still runs between them, used mostly for supplies and deployment. But if you get leave you’re allowed to gamble. Was General Oliver’s post but I heard he’s been up at the Dam a lot lately. Guessing Colonel Hsu is running it.”

“The Dam?”

“The big one, the one the NCR is trying to hold onto, that the Legion is pushing for, the whole war depends on it.”

“What was Camp Golf like?”

“It was on the front line for a while, only resort in New Vegas no one wanted to get sent to. Doesn’t have that kind of importance anymore though. They pulled most of the troops out of there after we took the Hoover Dam.”

Anne wanted to ask something that many might have found insensitive but she wanted to know. “Were you at Bitter Springs with the First Recon?”

His brow furrowed, a slight look of distaste came onto his grim face. “I was in a lot of places with First Recon, I don’t really remember.” He says dismissively.

“You must have been at Bitter Springs, what happened there?” Anne asked.

“That part of my life is over now, so is this discussion.”

“What aren’t you telling us about what happened to your wife?” Anne asked forcefully, surprising both Boone and Twilight with the question.

He voice became cold, hardened. “You got no right asking that.” He stated.

Anne sighs softly. “You’re right, that was out of line.” The woman said softly.

Boone sighs as well. “It’s just something I’m not ready to discus, with you or anybody.”

The awkward silence could have been cut with a knife it was so thick, Twilight looking between the two human sadly, knowing that any chance of pleasant conversation probably just was thrown out a window.

Before the group could walk much further a ghastly screech sounded out, the voice sounding like it hadn’t had its vocal cords wet for years and unused altogether for many more. Both Anne and Boone take out their weapons, Anne with That Gun and Boone with his hunting rifle. Twilight followed soon after and pulled out her 9mm pistol and looked around in confusion.

Soon they could all hear the sound of bare flesh impacting against the cracked road and up ahead, once it passed to crest of the hill they were going up, came running a ghoul, this time it wasn’t green and glowing but a sickly yellow color. Its bones clearly visible against its near muscle-less form and only a pair of extremely worn and torn pants covering it. Its head had no hare and the skin around its mouth was all but gone, leaving its

Without saying a word Boone lifted up his rifle and quickly pulled the trigger, a loud crack escaping the gun and in the same instance the ghoul’s head was reduced to a bleeding stump, not that bloody due to most of the blood having already been lost over the years.

“It seems we were right, it is feral ghouls.” Anne said with an annoyed sigh.

“W-what would be worse, crazy ghouls or not crazy ghouls?” Twilight asks worriedly.

“Well, depends on how many there are, if there are lots of feral ghouls then it’s bad, they’re stronger in number’s while non-feral are just like any other person we’ll meet, just smell a lot worse than others.” Anne said, putting away That Gun and pulling off the NCR rifle she had, racking the bolt and flicking off the safety. “Now get ready you guys. There’s going to be quite a lot of them, I can feel it in my bones.”

Boone nodded and reloaded his magazine of his rifle so it was full before continuing to walk up the hill the ghoul came running over. Anne and Twilight followed soon after, Twilight pulling out Lucky.

Not too long later they saw a large road sign next to the road, showing a picture of two cartoon children heads smiling brightly at the sight of a red cartoon robot holding out one of its metal claws and a rocket ship launching off in the starry background. ‘Hold up, Rocketeers!’ It read. ‘Looking for a tour?’ it said just under that above the children’s heads. ‘Blast up Highway 95 to REPCONN HQ in lovely Henderson.’

Soon they could see a small overpass, just there for the sake of being there it seemed from the lack of road going over the small concrete bridge. Barricades were built along the road and made from old sandbags and destroyed cars.

Anne pointed up at the overpass with a hand, her rifle hanging in the other. “I bet that there will be something of use up there, we’ll take a quick look before we con-“

Another ghastly screech sounded out, this time not just one but half a dozen of them. Popping up from behind the sandbags and cars a bunch of ghouls jumped out, throwing out their arms and opening their horrid mouths out wide before they all started running towards the three.

“Light them up.” Anne said bringing her rifle to her shoulder and looking down the sights as Boone did the same and Twilight pointed her gun at the fast approaching ghouls.

Soon the air filled with the sounds of gunfire, Anne’s used shells of her gun getting flung from the chamber each time a shot was fired off.

The closest ghouls were the first to go, blackened blood spraying from their backs and their bodies jerking as they were hit will bullets. Even before they collapsed the next group of ghouls ran past them, arms outstretched and ready to grab the three.

Twilight quickly ran out of ammo due to the small amount of bullets inside her gun and had to reload quite quickly. Boone’s gun had even less ammo before he had to reload, only five shots before he had to reload but more of his shot actually hit and they did more damage to their target. Anne on the other hand had a full twenty bullets before she had to and with barely a dozen she felt safe.

With sickening splats the bodies of the finally dead ghouls fell to the ground, all three of them standing at the ready in case any other ghouls wanted to show themselves to the trio but nothing happened.

Anne and Boone reloaded their weapons, Twilight following suit because they knew what they were doing. “I’ll go first, you two cover my back, I don’t want anything to kill me if I’m grappled.” Anne stated as she started to walk along behind the sandbags at the side of the road.

Slowly the other two followed after, everyone with guns at the ready in case there were any more ghouls wanted to show themselves. Anne quickly jumped over the sand bag wall, aiming the gun around.

“Clear!” Anne called as she put her gun behind her back. “Looked like this was a defensive line once, but whoever ran it left.”

“Last time I came anywhere near here these weren’t here, they’re resent.” Boone said as he approached, looking around. “Used the burnt up cars as barricades, smart.”

“They were playing a game.” Twilight said, drawing the attention of the two humans. “What? They seemed to be halfway through a game of checkers, if you have that here.”

“We have that here, not many play it.” Anne said walking over to the table with the black and white board was on, Sunset Sarsaparilla and Nuka-Cola caps used as the pieces for each side. “It means that whoever was set up here left in a hurry.” Anne said starting to pick up the caps and put them into a pouch on the side of her bag.

“Then it probably means there was an attack.” Boone stated, looking through the stuff for anything useful.

“Let’s get to the upper layer, let’s see if there is anything else.” Anne said, walking further along the road until they reached a ramp up to the upper bridge type thing.

The three gave the area a quick once over before putting their weapons back away when it turned up clear like below. Anne and Boone started to look through the boxes of things that were along some banged metal shelving.

“Guys, there’s another dead ghoul in here, but it’s in some weird robes and has a really fat gun with it.” Twilight said, looking over a dead ghoul but this time instead of being nothing but skin and bone he had flesh on his frame and his eyes weren’t the bulging ones. A large pool of thick blood was in a puddle underneath it.

Anne and Boone quickly went over and took a look at him. “Well holy shit, he’s a non-feral ghoul, but ghouls don’t kill ghouls so something else did it.” Anne stated.

“Look at its chest, it’s been utterly crush, but nothing is here so it would have been done by a blunt weapon on some sorts.” Boone observed.

“What would have the strength to do something like that?” Twilight asked.

“I don’t know but I don’t want to find out anytime soon.”

Chapter 27

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“Alright, so this is an AER-nine laser rifle.” Anne said picking up the large blocky gun that was on the dead robed ghoul, wiping some of the blood off of it. “They’re quite a lot different than the guns we have at the moment.” She explained as she pulled a small yellow cylinder from the side near the back of the gun.

“It’s powered by microfusion cells. Unlike normal guns this one doesn’t shoot led but instead light focused into one beam that is very highly heated and can cause a lot of damage if well maintained.” She said as she checked over what Twilight guessed was a microfusion cell. “Inside the gun is a large amount of focusing crystals that focus the light and make it a deadly beam, if they aren’t looked after then this thing has no bite to it.”

“They’re weird to use at first, not any force behind the shot because all it’s shooting just a lot off photons at whatever you want dead so barely any recoil but if the crystals are set up right it can easily melt through armor.” She said putting the cell back into the rifle before clicking a button on the side and bringing the small stock to her shoulder before aiming at a pile of glass Nuka-Cola bottles that was stacked up before they got there.

With a weird sounding ‘Zarp’ a bright red beam launched itself from the end of the laser rifle and hit one of the bottles, melting right through one side and turning the other white hot and making it soon melt down slowly before it cooled.

“If aimed right you can melt their brains in their skull and kill them instantly or melt their internals and killing them a little slower.” She said. “Otherwise you’ll just give them bad third degree burns and that will kill them if done enough.”

“Why are you explaining all this to me?” Twilight asks before having a large laser rifle chucked at her, the pony catching it in her magic before it hit her.

“It’s yours, you seem like the type of person who would be good with energy weapons. Probably because it takes an OCD person to put up with arranging all those crystals inside the thing.” Anne said with a shrug.

“I do not have OCD!” Twilight protests, looking over the rifle.

“Well obsessive something disorder than, but what I’m saying is because of that you would be good with them.” Anne said before smirking. “And with less recoil there’s little chance that you’ll hit yourself in the face again.” She said, making Twilight blush and Boone raise an eyebrow.

“I-I wasn’t expecting it then, I’m fine now.” Twilight says embarrassed.

“Sure you weren’t.” The woman said. “Now, unlike pistols, rifles are better for long range, mainly used as a primary while pistols as a secondary because the bullets are normally smaller and can be whipped out in a flash.” She explained. “But rifles are easier to get a hit on something from a further distance, putting the stock to your shoulder to help keep it steady and so you can put your cheek right up against the top to aim down the sights better.” She continued, acting like she was holding an invisible rifle in her hands.

“I thought you said to never put your face near the guns when you shoot.” Twilight says confused.

“That’s only really with pistols, with rifles because you have them pressed against you your body will take most of the recoil and you’re less likely to blind yourself.” Anne said.

“Unless you’re being stupid.” Boone adds in. “With any gun with a scope you never want to put your eye around the back of the scope, that’s the quickest way of scooping your eye out of the socket so always keep it a little distance away.”

“Yeah, thanks for that.” Anne said with a smile. “So why don’t you try it out now Princess?” She asked, motioning for her friend to do it.

“Why do you call her princess? Is that a pet name or something?” Boone asked in his deadpan tone of voice.

“Oh yeah, you weren’t there. Well you see, Twilight is an alien queen from a place called Horseland.” Anne said, Boone raising an eyebrow over his sun glasses.

“No, I’m one of four princesses in a land called Equestria, you know that Anne.” Twilight said annoyed.

“Same difference.” Anne said dismissively.

Twilight muttered under her breath before putting the stock of her new rifle to her shoulder and trying to look down the sight but she was having trouble keeping it steady and looking down it while also focusing on her magic. Deciding to try something that popped to mind Twilight tried to go on her back hooves, using her wings to keep her stable and using her front hooves to hold the gun and she found it was a lot easier. “Alright, I think I got it…” Twilight said.

“Good, now these don’t normally have a sight on them but we can buy one later so try to look down the middle of the laser and pull the trigger.” Anne stated.

Twilight looked down the gun, taking a few seconds to aim before firing.

After another ‘Zarp’ a long red beam shot from the rifle and hit the stacked up bottles and this time melted a hole clean through the bottle, leaving melted glass dripping.

“Good, now these don’t use bullets and you’ll only really know how many shots you have left in it by remembering how many you already shot, there are twenty four shots in one cell.” Anne said. “And when you run out of shots in a cell don’t get rid of it because you’re able to draw a tad more energy out of them and if you have enough drained ones you can make a bunch of full ones.”

Twilight nods.

“So let me give his body a check for any more ammo for you.” The woman said crouching down by the deal ghoul with a caved in chest.

After a few minutes Anne stands back up and holds out seven of the small yellow cells the laser rifle used. “Here, we’ll buy some more next chance we get.” She said as Twilight used her magic to pull out the old cell from the gun and putting it into one pocket on her new clothing and putting the unused cells in another and loading one into the rifle.

“Ready to continue you two?” Boone asks bored.

“Yep, I think we are.” Anne said starting to head off down the ramp back down to the road headed to REPCONN HQ.

Not a minute went by before they spotted a large pile of grey ash, a large chunk of bloodied concrete with long rods of repair stuck out of it and bent into a makeshift handle was close by.

“I think this is what I think killed our friend back there.” She observed. “So Twilight, if you’re lucky with a shot you might do this, turn them into a pile of ash because it just causes a chain reaction or something like that.”

Twilight grimaced slightly at the mention of that.

“Anyway, let’s keep moving.”

________________________________________

“I guess that’s where we need to go…” Anne said.

Down the hill at the end of the road was a huge complex of a building. A large statue of a red rocket was in a round-about, the paint on the metal peeling off to expose the rusted iron. The Building was massive, many stories tall and made out of a dark grey concrete with rusted metal scaffolding around the left side of the front. Two large antenna were on top of it, sticking high into the cloudy sky. Figures could be seen stumbling around it, arms hanging limply from their sides as they wondered past the burnt and destroyed cars that were scattered around the front. On top of a nearby cliff was a large white dome, age turning it light grey with what looked like two huge doors that could open up.

Twilight was shocked at the size of the thing, the building alone looked almost as big as Canterlot castle and the dome was almost as big as the main building. “Woah…” Twilight says in shock, looking around in wonder.

“You think this place is big wait till you arrive in New Vegas.” Boone stated.

“Is Vegas nice? Haven’t been there myself yet but I plan to.” Anne asked.

“Nice isn’t the word I would use for it, secure yes but not the most pleasant.” He said. “There are ghouls here, I recommend we get ready for another fight.” He said pulling out his rifle.

“Alright.” Anne said, pulling out her rifle again with Twilight starting to flap her wings and taking off with her rifle held in her hooves with her magic holding the trigger.

Twilight flew up slightly, feeling slightly safer now that she wasn’t on the ground and open to getting attacked by one of the horrifying ghouls.

Anne and Boone started to approach, Twilight flying behind them with all their guns at the ready.

Gunfire like before started to sound out, the closest ghouls splatting lifelessly down but this time the sounds of Twilight’s new laser rifle also filled the air with its blazing glow. The screams of the ghouls filled the air also, some as they were attacking and others while they let out their last breath from their decaying bodies.

Twilight grimaced as she watched the ghouls went down because she felt that they came apart quite easily, limps and gore flopping around with almost every ghoul killed and Twilight’s gun easily cut though the thin flesh and weak bones of the ghouls.

After a few minutes it was all over, none of the once living thinking people turned into radioactive monsters left alive.

Twilight landed next to Anne, putting her empty cell into one pocket and pulling out a new one and loading it into the gun. “Is that all of them? They make me feel sick.” Twilight muttered.

“Probably not, there will be a ton more inside the actual building so keep your guard up all the time while we’re here.” Anne said putting her rifle back onto her back.

“Hey, I think you two should take a look at this.” Boone said, stood behind a sandbag wall and looking at something hidden from the other two.

Heading over they saw what it was, another ghoul but one of the ones in the brown robe and a laser gun, but this time he was in worse shape, his body was laid propped up against the wall and his legs were a few feet away.

Twilight turned green and had to turn away, clutching her mouth shut to stop herself from vomiting again.

“Well, it looks like it wasn’t just one guy, but a group, I bet there are quite a few of these non-feral ghouls around this place.” She said and sure enough there were many more of the robed ghouls with the laser rifles, some worse than others. Some might have a giant bit of metal lodged out of it’s chest while another wouldn’t have an arm or leg but one thing that was very common was most of them were crushed in one way or another.

Twilight managed to keep her stomach still for the time being, trying her hardest to avoid looking at anything dead around them in case she finally did lose her ability to hold back.

“Princess, here.” Anne said holding out a dozen of the cells for her rifle and a small bag that clinked softly. “They’re the focusing crystals in case any of the ones in your gun crack or burn out.” She stated.

“We should head inside and clean up the rest of these ghouls.” Boone stated, heading for the wooden door at the front of the building, the windows on it boarded up for protection with any of the glass that was once there all but gone.

Stepping inside and closing the door behind them they were all scared when an intercom on one of the walls crackled before a gravelly sounding voice yelled out. “Hey! Over here, are you listening?” It called.

“Go to the big room on the east side of this building and take metal staircase all the way up, and hurry.” It said, a man’s voice.

“Who are you?” Anne asked, still surprised.

“Who am I doesn’t matter smooth skins. Stop wasting my time and get up here.” He grumbled.

“All right, we’ll be there I guess.” Anne said confused.

“Get moving.” He said before another bit of static and it went dead.

“That was…” Anne started.

“Weird?” Offered Twilight.

“Exac- wo- gah! Fuck!” She exclaimed, tripping over something and landing on her face.

She quickly got up and turned around, clutching her now slightly bleeding nose and what she saw made her freeze along with the other two.

Dead on the ground was something that brought chills to both the humans and fear into Twilight. It was giant, easily more than seven foot in height if stood up and it’s skin was a blue, huge muscles under the skin and it’s face was horrifying, the skin so tight that it couldn’t cover its teeth so the lips were pulled back, it’s head lacking any hair with a brown hood on it. Covering its arms were bent street signs such as a stop sign to act as a little protection. It wore brown rags that covered some of its body but everything else was fully exposed, showing over the large number of burns covering it. In its dead hand was one of the concrete and rebar hammers.

“W-what is that?” Twilight asked fearfully, scooting closer to the on edge Boone.

“That, Twilight, is what killed the ghouls around here, it’s a Nightkin.”

Chapter 28

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“We should get out of here, nightkin being here is a very bad sign.” Boone said quickly, bringing up his rifle and quickly looking around for anything that might jump out at them.

“We can’t go Boone, as much as I want to. We need the information Manny will give me and he wanted this place cleared out if he was going to that.” Anne grumbled, doing the same thing as Boone but pulled up her shotgun instead.

“T-they are big but what’s so bad about them?” Twilight asked worriedly.

“They’re crazy, bat fucking shit crazy, they won’t stop trying to kill you until they’re dead.” She said. “You can shoot one in the gut with a shotgun and it won’t stop it if it didn’t kill it.”

“Don’t forget about the Stealth-Boys.” Boone states.

“Fuck, I almost forgot about that.”

“What’s a Stealth-Boy?” Twilight asked confused.

“It’s what make the nightkin crazy, what it does is make them near invisible, all you can see is a sheen like ripples on water and when you’re in a darker place like this all you have is sound.” She muttered. “Though there is one saving grace, if they attack it’ll turn off, so if you survive the first strike you’ll know where they are.”

Twilight swallowed nervously. “H-how many are there?”

“Can’t say for sure but a fair few, that ash pile on the road here would have been one and if the number of dead non-ferals is any indication then there’s quite a few.” Anne said.

Before anything else could be said a door to the left burst open and before anyone even noticed what it was a rifle shot from Boone and both barrels of Anne’s shotgun went into it, the bloodied feral ghoul dropping to the ground before it even let out a scream.

Anne quickly reloaded her gun as the sound of dozens of screeches came from around the building.

“Shit.” Both Boone and Anne said in sync, Twilight flinching back.

“Quick, the door behind the counter.” Boone said, quickly diving over the front counter, used back when the place was still running.

Anne and Twilight followed after him, the woman going to the door to open it while Boone as his gun at the ready and Twilight tried her hardest not to have a panic attack. “Fuck! It’s locked. Princess, open this door.” Anne said quickly standing next to Boone who had his rifle resting against the table, shotgun at the ready.

Just as Twilight got to the door the first sounds of the human’s defense was heard, Anne’s gun going off followed by the sound of a wet thud on the old tiled ground. The sudden sound frightened the pony slightly and she jumped in shock, hyperventilating as the sounds of scream was let out again.

“We need that door open now!” Anne called, firing another shot at an incoming ghoul and as she reloaded Boone shot a round into the head of a ghoul, reducing it down to a bleeding stump.

“G-Give me a minute.” Twilight answered back, taking a few deep breaths before looking back at the door and the lock. With a flash of her horn there was a small click inside the lock and it opened a slight amount. “It’s open now.” She says as she opened it, finding a staircase behind it.

“Then let’s go!” Boone yelled, starting to back up into the doorway with his gun still raiser, firing at any ghoul that showed itself.

Twilight waited by the door until the other two made their way inside before she slammed the door shut and locked it quickly, a few moments later muted thuds could be heard from the other side.

“That won’t hold them long, we should quickly get moving.” Anne stated as she quickly ran up the stairs with the two others following her.

Up at the top of the stairs was a hallway leading to another part of the complex while there were doors going left and right. “Shit, which way?” Boone asks.

“Give me a number between one and three.” Anne quickly said.

“One.”

“Then it’s left we go.” Anne said going over to the left door and finding that it was locked. “Princess, open it quickly.” Anne said stepping back with her shotgun at the ready.

Twilight quickly runs over to the door and focuses in on it with her magic, the lock letting out a small click before Twilight slammed it open and ran in, the humans running in shortly after before Boone shut the door.

In the room were a large number of filing cabinets, one propped up against the other door into the room. In the corner was a large black safe, a skeleton wearing the tattered remains of cloths slouched on the ground next to it, the whole top of its head gone with a large revolver in its bony fingers. It was huge, a lot bigger than any of their pistols yet, silver with a large black scope on the top.

“Damn. These things are super powerful.” Anne said picking up the gun from the bone’s fingers. Flicking the cylinder to the side she sighs disappointedly, tipping it up and the one used shell falling out. “Shit, no ammo, this thing would be ideal for killing nightkin.” She said taking off her backpack and putting the gun inside. “That my pony friend is a point forty five dash seventy G hunting revolver, extremely powerful, probably the smallest thing of this size with this amount of power, it could go right through a nightkin.” She stated.

“Why not check the safe to see if anything is inside it?” Twilight asked.

“You can check but there wouldn’t be ammo for this type of gun.” Anne said dismissively.

Twilight went over to the safe and her horned glowed, taking deep breaths and focusing in on the safe’s lock. It was a little harder than normal with the easier locks, the mechanisms all rusted and corroded but managed to open it neither the less.

Anne was right with her guess, inside there was no ammunition for the new hunting revolver but there was another 10mm pistol like Anne’s one along with a half filled box of ammo for it, two dirty water bottles, a few microfusion sells, a box of .308 ammo which Boone quickly picked up for his rifle.

People took things they needed before Anne closed the safe with the tip of her iron boot. “We should keep going down the hall, deeper into this building to get to that ghoul on the intercom.”

“So that was a ghoul speaking?” Twilight asked.

“Yeah, they tend to have gravely voices, you’re barely able to tell what gender they are from just their voice.” Anne stated.

“We should keep moving you guys, east wing of the building, remember.” Boone said gruffly. “I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to with nightkin around.” He stated.

“Fine, I have a compass on my Pipboy so I’ll lead the way.” Anne said cheerfully.

“Great, we’re lost.”

________________________________

After twenty minutes of wondering around, everyone but Anne annoyed at the human woman, they finally arrived at the metal staircase mentioned to them, stepping over a broken down metal door, a dead feral ghoul crushed under it and bent around the corpse.

After clearing it out from some other ferals they saw another corpse of a nightkin, in the same makeshift clothing and armor as the one by the entrance had and with another one of those makeshift repair hammers with rock on the end.

“Those stairs do not look safe in the slightest.” Twilight said worriedly. “I’m not walking up those.” She finished.

“We have to, we need to get to the top.” Anne said.

Twilight didn’t answer, just spreading her wings and jumping up, flying up to the walkway made of rusty metal as well at the top of the staircase.

“Oh right, wings…” Anne muttered as Boone and her climbed up the stairs, the metal groaning and bending slightly.

Once at the top they noticed another one of the metal red rockets hanging from the ceiling but this time its windows weren’t painted on but actual windows, but the glass had broken and fallen out long ago.

Going further along the walkway they found a door, Anne reaching out to open it only to find it locked.

The intercom that was right next to Twilight at the time let out a static sound, making the pony let out a surprised yelp before jumping back in fright.

“All right smoothskins, I’m letting you in. You better watch yourself, I’ll sure as hell be watching you.” The same gravelly voice from the lobby said through the intercom before a click came from the door.

Anne let out a giggle at Twilight’s reaction, earning a small smack across the back of the head from some magic. “Oww, don’t do that.” She said rubbing the back of her head, an idea suddenly springing to mind but that could wait until after they cleared the place out.

Opening the door they were greeted to a sight of a normal run down looking hallway. Once the door closed behind them someone stepped from around the corner. While Boone and Anne looked confused Twilight was confused at why they were confused.

The person was a normal looking man, no hair on his head and a slight scruff around his mouth. He wore a long lab coat and seemed to have a scowl on his face permanently.

“God, are you ugly.” He exclaimed. “Get upstairs and talk with Jason before I throw up from just looking at you.” He said in the gravelly voice from the intercom.

Twilight became confused like the others, this man talked like he was a ghoul but his smooth skin and non-rotted body.

“Hey, you’re not a ghoul.” Twilight said tilting her head.

“Your pranks won’t work on me smoothskin, they won’t work on Jason either.” He stated.

“Smoothskin? Your skin looks pretty smooth to me.” Anne said.

“Stop wasting my time, go waste Jason’s.” he said annoyed before turning and walking away around the corner.

“That was…”

“Weird?”

“That’s one word for it.”

After Wandering around a little bit in look for this Jason ghoul they saw many of the robe wearing ghouls walking around and talking normally to each other, these ghouls having more meat to their bones and not just walking skeletons but had muscles and eyes that weren’t bulging out After looking for a few minutes they found a ghoul that could have been the leader, he was wearing a worn brown business suit and he was halfway through turning into a glowing green ghoul, some parts of his body a glowing green color while the rest just the normal rotted.

“Hello Wanderer.” He said, his voice creepily sounding like it echoed out of his mouth, sounding like it came from all direction at once but in a soft calm voice. “Please forgive our humble surroundings. Our true home awaits us in the Far Beyond.” He continued. “Have you come to help us complete the Great Journey?” He asked.

“Well, we’re here because feral ghouls have been wondering into Novac.” Anne said rubbing the back of her neck.

“And they’ve been shooting them down like animals haven’t they?” He asks sadly. “Those ghouls were members of my flock even after madness consumed their minds, we never let them wonder free.” He said. “We kept them safe on the first floor, we kept them contained. The demons must have let them out, somehow. Now they’re lost forever, denied salvation and healing glow of the far beyond. Please Wanderer, bear in mind every feral ghoul you spare now is one we can save later. Once the way is clear our feral brothers and sisters will accompany us on the Great Journey, if there are any left.” He said sadly.

“What’s the ‘Great Journey’ you’re talking about?” Anne asked.

“We wish to escape the barbarity of the wasteland, especially the violence and bigotry of its human inhabitants. The creator has promised to my flock a new land, a place of safety and healing, a paradise in the Far Beyond. Preparations for the Great Journey were nearly complete when the demons appeared.” He said.

“What do you mean demons?” Twilight asked worriedly.

“The demons appeared from nowhere, expect it might be more accurate to say they never ‘appeared’ at all.” He explained. “The demons are invisible, where one of them stands the most one sees is the air shimmering, like sunlight on water. They set upon us as we were on our way to worship one morning, we had just entered the basement. My flock fought bravely, and killed a few, but at such cost.” He said sadly, the three friends, knowing what he meant from all the bodies of robed ghouls there were. “Nearly half of us died or went missing. The rest of us retreated up here, one of the demons raved at us but they have not tried to attack us since. Still, their demonic presence brought all progress towards the Great Journey to a standstill. But now you have come, once again the creator has sent a human to help us across a seeming insurmountable obstacle.”

“Can you give a minute?” Anne asked with a friendly smile, not waiting for an answer before she pulled her two companions out of the room and into a group huddle. “Okay, this guy is bat shit insane.” She stated.

“We need to get the ghouls out of here before the people in Novac can come here.” Boone stated.

“We can always help them with their ‘Great Journey’, it’d be a kind thing to do.” Twilight chipped in.

“But that could take ages.” Anne mumbled. “Fine, but you owe me a bottle of booze.”

“Alright deal.”

“But why did we have to help the religious nutjobs?”

Chapter 29

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“Now where were we?”

“Will you help us Wanderers?” Jason asked, his decomposing face looking hopeful.

Twilight decided to speak up. “You say one of the demons ‘raved’ at you?” She asked.

“By the Creator, what manner of creature are you?” Jason asked, kneeling down before Twilight, the pony trying not to be sick at the closer sight of his rotting flesh. “Has he told you to come here to join our flock to join us in the healing glow?” He asked softly, his voice sounding like it was coming everywhere at once.

“N-no, there was an accident and I was taken here against my will.” The awkward feeling unicorn said, shuffling back slightly.

“Of cause, it was by the will of the Creator that you were brought here, to help aid the flock to travel to the Far Beyond and away from the Wasteland.” He said.

Boone, not normally a one to talk, spoke up, wanting to get away from the cray ghouls as soon as he could and to do that he would need to help get the focus off what he assumed a bad mutation. “What is this Far Beyond?” He asked flatly.

Jason stood back up and looked at Boone. “I have glimpsed it only in visions, wanderer, but what I have seen is truly miraculous. It is a place of light and healing, and I know in my soul my flock will be safe there.” He answered.

Anne, not really much for asking what needed to be asked said. “What’s the deal with the human you let in?” She asked, looking over her shoulder to make sure said balding man wasn’t right behind her.

“You’re referring to Chris. I doubt you had much luck if you tried telling him he’s human. We had the same discussions when he first appeared, and the same lack of success. He believes he is one of us. Soon enough we realized that Chris was a gift from the creator, he is integral to the success of the Great Journey.” The half glowing ghoul explained.

“You say one of the demons ‘raved’ at you?” Twilight tried again.

“Yes little one, over the intercom. Threats of death should we step outside, guaranties of safety should we stay locked away. It went on for hours and did not always make sense, but that was the first day only. Since then, silence.” He said softly. “Will you drive away the demons Wanderers?” He asked looking at all of them.

“Fine, we’ll take care of the ‘demons’ for you.” Anne mumbled, rubbing her eyes.

A rotted grin appeared on his face. “Praise the creator, bless you wanderers, bless us all!” He exclaimed. “As soon as the underground has been rid of demons, preparations for the Great Journey can resume.” He said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out an old rusted key, holding it out for Anne to grab.

Grabbing the key with a smile the woman gestured with her head back for the door they came through and started to walk to it. Once out of earshot of other Ghouls Anne whispered. “Something tells me that the radiation has gotten to his head a little more than it should.”

“What do you expect, he’s half glowing.” Boone muttered.

“He seemed nice.” Twilight put in.

“Well, so was Jenny and we all know how she was.” Anne muttered, making a scowl on Boone’s face and Twilight’s ears to fold down slightly in sadness.

Once they reached the metal door they entered the upper floors with they stepped out and closed it behind them, Twilight using her wings to lower herself down to the dusty floor and not risking using the rusted metal staircase in case it fell under even her rather small weight but her friends had to go down it, wincing whenever it groaned.

“Now Twilight, we are going to be facing nightkin, one of the hardest things there are out there so you have to stay behind Boone and I no matter what happens, they can go invisible remember and I don’t want any of us to turn up like those ghouls we saw outside.” Anne said kneeling down in front of Twilight and resting a hand on her shoulder.

Twilight gulped worriedly, shaking slightly in fear that one of them might end up like the other ghouls outside. “A-alright, I’ll stay close.” The pony said meekly.

Anne just smiles and pats Twilight on the head before standing up. “Alright, remember to aim for the head if you can, body shots and any other shot light that aren’t really that effective against these guys.”

Heading a little further back into the building the group find a staircase that led downwards to a green painted metal door large and still fresh blood splatters over it but no body to be found. “That looks like the right place.” Boone muttered, pulling off his rifle from his back.

“I wish the hunting revolver had ammo, it’d make this a lot safer.” Anne stated putting her shotgun in her hands at the ready.

Twilight meanwhile was taking deep breaths, trying to calm herself down so she didn’t have a panic attack, pulling out Lucky from the holster on her leg.

Ever so slowly Anne approached the door, the other two with their guns at the ready and pointing over the woman’s shoulder as she unlocked the door with the rusted key given to her by Jason. With a soft click it opened and the woman pushed it open with the barrel of her shotgun, slowly walking inside.

The area almost seemed to change completely, instead of rotting plaster and wood making up the hallways it was now rusted metal, wires running across the walls further into the place. The floors were made out of concrete, chipped and dirty from years of not being cleaned. Another stair case went down a little bit more, the faint sounds of a motor running heard by all of them. There was a door at the end of the stairs and unlike the other one this was fully metal, instead of a handle there was a wheel that you needed to turn to open it, keeping large bits of metal in the door frame so the door wouldn’t open.

Approaching the new door Anne handed her gun to Boone before gasping the wheel in both her hands and giving it a firm twist. After a few moments of nothing happening there was a loud screech of metal rubbing on metal and the wheel started to move, the metal securing the door to the frame pulling away back into the door itself. Suddenly Anne pulled back as something happened, the wheel kept turning before it suddenly seemed to fall downwards into the floor, locking in place under the floor instead of opening in or outwards.

Holding out her hand Boone gave her gun back before she brought it up to her shoulder, slowly walking through the door way.

Inside was a few sheets of cardboard on top of each other, set up in a type of makeshift bedding. A barrel had flames coming out of it from what was burning inside and lighting the room with a slight yellow and orange glow.

Boone suddenly grabbed Anne’s shoulder and held her still, the woman looking over her shoulder and looking confused at the man, Twilight stopping mid step as she watched. He put a finger to his mouth to tell them to be silent and then to his ear.

After a few moments the two girls realized what he was talking about, soft stomping noises could be heard moving along.

Anne nodded and slower started moving along, hunching down slightly to be as small as she could.

Slowly they made their way out of the bedding room with the useless consoles in it down another metal hallway, being as silent as they could. Turning right then taking a left around a corner Anne freezes in place when she notices something, the air almost looking like it was moving. Her eye widen as she realizes what it was.

“Found you!” A loud gravelly voice called out before the shimmering air suddenly rushed towards the woman.

She quickly fire both shells from her shotgun but in her fright she didn’t aim too well, only a few pellets actually hitting it and before she even reloaded she dove backwards.

Not a second later the shimmering air sparked and suddenly changed into a nightkin, a living one this time with pure rage filling his eyes. In a hand was the massive rebar and concrete club found on the other bodies, swinging it just where Anne’s head used to be.

Twilight froze in place at the sight of the thing while Boone fired a shot from his rifle point blank into the mutant’s chest, sending blood onto the wall behind it but it barely flinched as the shot hit him. The mutant barely even paid attention to Boone and Twilight, shoving them to the side as he went for the prone form of Anne who was trying to reload her shotgun but upon seeing the rage full nightkin lifting up its club she dropped it and quickly pulled out her 10mm pistol, unloading it as fast as she could at its head.

Most of the shots missed but four of them hit, one scrapping his bald head, the other hitting him right in the jaw and the last two on his forehead, the last one causing his head to all but explode in half as it sent bone and brain everywhere.

The now dead super mutant felt down, collapsing onto Anne and pinning her to the ground and the rebar club’s head smashing into the ground right next to her head, denting the metal under it.

“Fuck this! Help me get him off!” Anne called, struggling to get the mutant off her chest, blood pouring onto her body.

The other two quickly go over to the struggling Anne, Twilight easily able to grab the corpse with her magic and roll it off.

Quickly Anne got to her feet, trying to wipe away the thick blood on her but all it did was smear most of it. “Shit, I’ll need to clean this off once this is over.” She stated, picking up her guns and wincing as her bloodied hands put it on the guns. Reloading her weapons she put her pistol away and pulled up her shotgun again.

They didn’t have to walk much further until they reached another door, Anne turning the wheel and stepping in with her shotgun at the ready but she wasn’t looking to her side. Suddenly there was the same sparking sound as when the last nightkin appeared and a rebar club hit Anne from the side, sending her into pipes on the wall with a large crash of metal on metal.

The super mutant jumped into the doorway and took a wild swing at human head height at Boone, not realizing that the man was able to duck under the swing. Twilight quickly pointed Lucky at the mutant’s chest and fired all six shots, at the close ranged every one of them hit in almost the same spot and made a large bloody hole in its sternum.

It didn't slow it down much as the mutant as he brought the club around for another swing, getting stopped as Boone shoved the barrel of his rifle right under the mutant’s chin and pulled the trigger, the top of its head bursting open and spraying the roof in blood, gore and bone.

Still keeping his rifle at the ready Twilight runs over to Anne who was groaning in pain, a small trickle of blood running down the side of her forehead. “Anne! Are you alright?” Twilight asked, kneeling down next to her friend, looking her over to make sure she wasn’t going to drop dead in a few moments but all she saw was the trickle of blood on her head.

“F-fuck that hurt…” She groaned in pain, lifting a hand up to grab her upper arm. “My arm is broke, it hurts so much.” She said.

Twilight new what she needed to do and quickly leaned Anne forward slightly, making the woman whimper in pain. Once leaned forward Twilight fished through the woman’s pouches on her bag before finding the one she was looking for, pulling out a needle of med-x and a Stimpak.

Jabbing in the med-x first Anne seemed to calm down slightly as she started to feel numb and relaxed before Twilight jabbed in the Stimpak on the arm, even though the human was numb it still made her hiss in pain as her broken bone fixed itself up, healing up.

“Thanks Princess.” Anne said softly, still sat leaning against the wall.

“Don’t mention it Anne.” Twilight said before smirking. “But next time maybe next time you should look both ways before crossing?” She offered with a giggle, making Anne roll her eyes.

“Those bastards do hit with the force of a car so that’s quite an accurate statement.”

Chapter 30

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After Anne healed up a bit they started moving again, getting deeper into the confined metal corridor, managing to take down any nightkin that popped out with only a few injuries. They were almost all covered in blood from how close the nightkin got to them, muscles aching from constantly jumping out of the way from attacks and the wearing down on their minds at the thought that a nightkin could attack from anywhere with barely any chance of them knowing before it was too late.

They walked down a few stairs, took turns and went through doors but they didn’t find too many nightkin, only maybe half a dozen or so.

Soon they neared another door at the end of a hallway and Anne twisted the wheel to open it and what they saw inside surprised them slightly.

Stood behind a desk was a nightkin, standing there breathing heavily while on a coffee machine on the desk rested a bleached bull skull, the jaw missing and leaving on the top part of the head. The nightkin was dressed slightly differently, instead of the signs on his arms he had knives tied to them and over his shoulders were an animal skin with thick fur.

“Antler says you are the one killing my kin. Antler says you must die!” He suddenly yelled before picking up a large weapon. It was made from a car bumper badly sharpened with a bit of pipe as the handle but from the strength they have it could easily cut through a full grown human.

He suddenly turned invisible a shimmer in the air where he once was.

Quickly Anne unloaded both barrels right where the nightkin once was and that disrupted what was keeping him hidden and he appeared again, running around the table at the group. She quickly dropped her shotgun and pulled out her pistol but didn’t get to fire it before she had to dive out of the way from a lightning fast slash right for her torso.

Anne and Boone started unloading but like the others it didn’t seem to have much effect on him but this one he didn’t even flinch, just bring around his makeshift sword for another swing at the pair, going about midsection for Boone but neck for Twilight.

The pony does the first thing in mind and teleports behind the nightkin while Boone jumps backwards but still gets the front of his shirt cut open and a small cut along his skin that started to bleed.

Twilight unloaded Lucky into his back but because of her lower angle she wasn’t able to get it into his head, only his upper back.

He turned around suddenly in rage and as he did so he brought his sword in a downward swing towards the pony which she managed to jump out of the way in time of.

Anne jumped onto his back wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling as hard as she could. The mutant on the other hand didn’t like the and ran right at a wall before turning around just before impact and slammed Anne into it instead, the woman letting out a cry of pain but held on strong.

He let out a roar of anger and now was focusing on the woman and not the other two, trying to shake her off his back as he tried slapping over his shoulder and slamming into the wall again. Boone crouched down on a knee and aimed down his sights for a moment before firing, a bullet ripping through the mutant’s knee and causing him to buckle over.

Anne fell off and scrabbled back from the kneeling mutant, pulling out That Gun from its holster and unloading the gun into his chest but like before that did very little.

Twilight was done reloading her gun and this time jammed the barrel of the gun into the side of the mutant’s head before pulling the trigger, splattering grey matter and bone across the wall and causing the nightkin to flop to his side dead, bleeding from bullet wounds all over his body.

“Fucking shit…” Anne muttered, reloading That Gun at a slow pace with her hands shaking slightly from the adrenalin flowing through her blood like the rest of them.

“You got that right.” Boone said, slumping over against a wall and relaxing, panting slightly as he reloaded his rifle.

“Is that it?” Twilight asked softly, making sure she wasn’t missing a limb or something.

“Yeah, I think it is, we’ll go back to Jason to tell him the good news soon.” Anne said with a yawn. “Just after a small power nap, just ten minutes.”

“How can you think about sleep after something like that just happened!?” Twilight exclaimed in shock at her friend.

“Fine then, you’re on watch to make sure nothing attacks us.” Boone said, laying back and using his beret to cover his eyes as got comfortable on the metal floor.

Twilight stared in disbelief at her two companions before just mumbling and sitting back and waiting for the ten minutes to pass.

__________________________________

“Is the way clear?” Jason asked in his echoing voice.

“The ‘demons’ are gone.” Anne said with a sigh, her side hurting from Twilight giving her a small kick to get up when she pretty much refused, claiming she was asleep.

“Praise the creator!” He exclaimed in pure joy. “And bless you wanderers. The way is clear. I will lead my flock through the basement and to the sacred site. I hope you will come find us there, there is much to be done.” He said before heading towards the door to get up to where they were, calling out for his ‘flock’ to follow him.

The trio followed the large group of ghouls, waiting for them to all go down the groaning metal staircase before they did.

Going back to the basement they past many of the corpses of the nightkin they killed, avoiding stepping in the blood puddles under them as they made their way further and further down.

Once they past room with large rusted metal generators that let out chugging sounds or a steady loud hum they entered a large tunnel, no longer metal but just stone with the sides rounded off to make it cylinder with a flat floor to walk on.

They went deeper and deeper into the building until they reach a room at the end, Jason stood by a large window overlooking a launch pad with three of the red metal rockets in stands, ghouls around it doing things along with spilled over rusted barrels with bright glowing green sludge coming out of them.

Approaching the ghoul he said. “I waited to speak with you one last time before I descend to the launch pad wanderers.” He said. “I want you to know that we will remember for all eternity how you delivered us to the threshold of the Great Journey. Our preparations are nearly complete, but the rockets that will carry us to salvation are yet missing vital components. If you would still help us wanderers speak to Chris, he can tell you what is missing. There is no way we can thank you enough wanderers, your arrivals here were a blessing. We will remember you always.”

“Are you seriously going to make your ‘Great Journey’ on those things?” Anne asked shocked, going over to the window and looking at the rusted and old rockets, looking as if more than just a few parts were missing from it.

“Yes. The rockets will convey us to our promised land in the Far Beyond. Vison upon vision has confirmed it.” He said.

“Those ‘rockets’ will convey you and your flock straight into the ground!” Anne exclaimed, Twilight not having any clue about rockets and what they’re meant to look like while Boone just didn’t care.

“I understand your concerns friend and I thank you for voicing them. But the creators will for us has been made manifest.” He said facing Anne.

“I guess we’ll go help Chris then…” Twilight said, smiling softly at Jason.

“There is no way that we can thank you enough wanderers, your arrival here was a blessing. We will remember you always.” He said before walking over to a hatch on the ground and pulling it open, climbing in and closing it behind himself.

Chris could be seen walking into the room in the same direction that the trio came from, a scowl still stuck on his face like the first time they met him. They small group approached him.

“Hey.” Anne said giving a small wave.

“Jason says I am to cooperate on the final tasks necessary to launch the Great Journey.” He said in his gravelly voice.

“How can we help?” Asked the pony princess, fearing her female friend might say something that they all might regret.

“I was close to completing work on the rockets before we were driven into hiding on the upper floors. Two components were missing, a quantity of Isotope two thirty nine igniting agent and a set of thrust control modules. The igniting agent is highly radioactive and decays quickly. That’s why we can’t use the drums that leaked down on the Launchpad. It’s no longer potent enough, I need you to find an intact, shielded container of the igniting agent.” He said. “As for the thrust control modules, they were custom built for these rockets, they won’t even launch without them.”

Twilight’s eyes lit up. “We’ll get the igniting agent.” She said quickly.

“Very well, but we don’t need a huge amount, just two to three liters should be enough.” He stated.

“Alright, we’ll be back.” Twilight says with a smile.

“Do you know where it is or something?” Anne asked raising an eyebrow.

“Yep, I have a hunch about something.” She stated with a proud grin.

“There’s a ladder in the tunnel, take it and you’ll go straight back up to the surface.” Chris stated.

The trio turned around and but for once Twilight was leading the way, smiling at feeling s useful.

“So are you going to tell us where this stuff is?” Anne asked, still confused.

“Nope, it’s a surprise.” Twilight stated, reaching the ladder that Chris mentioned and spreading her wings and jumping up, flying to the hatch and opening it before landing outside as she waited for her friends to follow her up.

“I hope it ain’t too far…”

______________________

“Hi Cliff! Good to see you again.” Twilight said happily as she approached the counter of the shop inside the dinosaur in Novac, the same friendly looking black man sat behind the counter.

“Why hello there, it’s good to see you again, anything I can help you with?” He asked with a smile as he saw the friendly face of Twilight again, seeing someone was always nice when he was normally stuck along in the building.

“We’ve come here to do a little trading.” She stated.

“Well I’m open at the moment, let’s hear it.”

After some friendly chat Twilight managed to trade things that the trio didn’t need for the staggering price of 530 caps but Twilight came to this place for a certain reason.

“So cliff, I was wondering if I can buy all your remaining rocket souvenirs.” She said with a smile.

“Really? I thought I’d never see the day.” He said with a smile before it fell. “I mean… the day I’d part with them for such an incredibly low price, with so many other offers flooding in. But I like you, I think maybe it’s time, all that’s left is in the storage room here, you can buy the key.”

“And how much will that cost?” Twilight asked.

“Eighty caps.”

Twilight let out a sigh, a large number of her just gained caps just gone. “Fine, here.” Twilight said, handing him over eighty caps from inside the pocket she puts them in.

“Here you go.” He stated, pulling a key from his pocket and handing it over to Twilight who took it and went over to the storeroom door and opened it.

Inside it was the same as before, dozens and dozens of toy tin dinos and tons of the rockets with the glowing green sludge inside them.

Twilight picked one up with her magic, looking it over until she saw a very tiny label on the bottom of it saying that each one contained 500 milliliters of igniting agent for the real life rockets. Deciding to be safe Twilight grabbed six of the rockets and closed the door behind her, trotting back to the front of the dino where Boone and Anne were waiting.

“Got them!” Twilight said happy, floating them over to Anne who proceeded to put them away inside her large bag.

“Great work Twilight, I totally forgot about those things, I probably would have led us to a monster infested ruin to try and find it but you saved us risking our lives and got to trade some of the useless stuff off.” The woman said with a smile, Twilight beaming at the praise.

“Don’t mention it Anne, I am known by my friends for being rather smart.” The pony said.

“Don’t get cocky, no one likes a boaster.” Anne warned.

Twilight just smiled sweetly. “I leant most of it from you.”

“Ha ha, very funny.” Anne said dryly.

“She’s right you know.” Boone said to Anne, smirking slightly behind his sunglasses.

“Great, now I’m being ganged up on.” The woman muttered.

“You said we should banter more, don’t blame us, you literally asked for it.”

“What have I gotten myself into?”

Chapter 31

View Online

“Have you gotten the igniting agent like we discussed?” Chris asked, turning a monkey wrench on a nut to secure a machine with unknown use to the friends.

“What about these rocket souvenirs? The stuff inside glows.” Anne stated, pulling out each of the six toy rockets and putting them on a table nearby.

“Yes, that’s Isotope two thirty nine all right, and there’s enough here to launch the rockets.” He said, still not smiling. “Now all I need is the thrust control module.”

“Where do you think we might find one of those?” Anne asked.

“Scavengers wouldn’t know the value of the modules just by looking at them. If you know any junk dealers in the area I’d start there.” He stated before walking off to another console to work on that.

“I know someone who we should go to, they call her Old Lady Gibson.” Boone stated. “She’s a junk dealer, buys and sells that type of things.” The sniper said.

“Then we’ll go to her, let’s go.”

______________________________________

On the walk it went through Novac from where they were and further on, walking for a fair amount of time. In the distance could be seen a large tower, an antenna coming from the top and a large factory of sorts right up against the side.

“Hey Anne, what’s that over there?” Twilight asked looking over at the building.

“That… I have no clue, Boone, what about you?” Anne said with a shrug.

“It’s the HELIOS One power station, the NCR run it but they aren’t able to get it working that well from what I’ve heard.” Boone said.

“Solar?” Anne asked, guessing it was that type due to the large tower.

“Yes.”

“What’s solar power?” Twilight asked.

“Well you know how everything we do and happens involves the transfer of energy from one form to another, be it from turning on a light makes heat and light or using a speaker makes sound. Well what solar does it acts a bit like how a plant would, using the energy that the sun lets off to power things.” Anne explained, following Boone as he knew where to go.

“So it’s like a giant tree?”

“If you want to dumb it down a lot yes, it’s like a tree.”

Before Twilight could say anything else Boone pointed at a small, old building, maybe a few rooms at most but right next to it was a fenced off area where dozens upon dozens of destroyed cars were, piled up or on their own. “That’s the place.” He stated.

“Alright, let’s go meet this Old Lady Gibson…”

Sitting in front of the building on a rickety chair was an old greying lady, half a dozen black and grey dogs around her and keeping her company.

Approaching the older woman Anne lifted up a hand in greeting. “Hey there friend.”

“Hi there, I’m Old Lady Gibson or so they tell me. I’ve got odds and end for sale and I’m pretty good at fixing things too. You might have noticed the very large building just north of here. That’s HELIOS One. The NCR runs the place so it’s off-limits to prospectors.” The kind sounding old woman said, sounding rather practiced.

“We were wondering if you had any thrust control modules from REPCONN in stock.” Anne said with a friendly smile of her own, not wanting to get ripped off if she wasn’t.

“As it so happens I do have some thrust modules but they’re expensive. Five hundred caps expensive.” She said.

“You should cut down the price, it’s not like anyone will probably buy them.” Anne said awkwardly, bartering wasn’t one of her strong suits.

“Oh I don’t know about that, lots of folks travel by on their way to New Vegas.” The old woman said unconvinced.

Anne let out an irritated sigh, rubbing her eyes before reaching into her bag and handing the woman a sack that jingled. “Fine, five hundred caps it is then.” Anne muttered unhappily.

“Pleasure doing business with you.” She stated before going inside the house, coming back a few minutes later with a large box filled with five metal contraptions none of the trio had any clue about. “Here you go.” She stated happily, giving them to Anne who in turn gave them to Boone.

“Thank you.” Anne said with a fake smile, stating to walk away back to the REPCONN HQ with the other two close behind her. “Next time Twilight, you’re asking for it, I’m not good with people and now that’s most of my caps gone and probably for nothing more than a pat on the back.” She mumbled.

“Alright then, yet another thing I’m better than you at.” Twilight said with a smirk, getting Anne to mutter something under her breath but the pony didn’t hear it, something rhyming with duck.

______________________________________

“Did you get the modules?” Chris asked gruffly.

“Yes, here you go.” Anne said, Boone handing the box over to the other man.

“Indeed you did, and they seem to be in excellent condition.” He said, for the first time ever to the group seeing the faintest smirk on his face but it might have just been a muscle twitch.

“The rockets are all set to go right?” Twilight asked, she wanted to see how those three metal machines worked.

“Yes, I can tell Jason the Great Journey can begin.” He stated, handing the box to a ghoul in a red skintight suit, a glass fish tank looking helmet on his head before he headed down a hatch onto the launch pad.

Walking to the window Chris pressed a button and said. “We have everything we need to launch the rockets Jason, the Great Journey can begin.” The human said.

All the ghouls walking around the irradiated launch bay started to line up in front of any of the three rockets, looking at the window as Jason stood before all of them.

“Gather, all. May the creator guide my words and help me speak true... The almighty creator has seen fit to answer our prayers. The time has come for us to board the rockets and begin the Great Journey. Though it may seem that all humans despise us, the creator has seen fit to instruct us differently. The Journey ahead would have been impossible if not for the intercession of two human friends, one new, the other a long-abiding companion. To our new friend, we say thanks, and promise never to forget how he cleared from our path the demons who sought to stay our Journey.” He said before letting out a sad and regretful sigh. “But to Chris, we owe more than thanks. Chris, you have made this Great Journey a reality. From this moment forward, you will be remembered as the Saint of the Great Journey. We shall never forget you. I ask that you forgive us, Chris, and give us your blessing, and we bestow ours upon you. Seekers, board the rockets, take your seats. The Great Journey awaits! To the promised land we go! To the Far Beyond!” He said before walking up the ramp into one of the rockets, all the other ghouls getting into at least one of them.

Chris looked in shock at what was said before slowly turning and facing the trio, his shock making way to pure rage. “Did you hear him? My god you were right all along, I’m no ghoul! They were just using me…” He growled.

“They’d take you if they could Chris, but you’d die from the radiation.” Anne said solemnly, she could understand what he was feeling at that moment.

“And dying would be worse than this? Used up and thrown away like garbage?” He asked with a growl.

“They’re going to revere you as a Saint, Chris.” Twilight said.

“Oh, so I’ve redeemed the human race, is that it? What a crock, the human race can’t stand me!”

“That’s not true Chris, you’re all right.” Anne said softly, trying to comfort the man.

“So, you want me to accompany you on your adventures across the Wasteland, is that it?” He asked crossing his arms.

“No, I’m just saying that people won’t hate you, you just need to go back with people and you’ll fit in great, many places a scientist would be useful.” Anne corrected.

He didn’t say anything to the group, just walking away, through the tunnel and around a corner where no one could see him anymore.

“Come on, they’ll need someone to activate the rocket in the control room, they won’t be able to do it from in here.” Anne stated, walking back through the tunnel but not up the ladder but back into the main building.

“Where would that be?” Asked the Princess.

“It would be at the very top if I were to guess, so they can see everything that is happening and to make sure it’s all going well.” Anne said with a shrug.

Going back up the rusted metal staircase into the rooms the ghouls were originally at when they first arrived they tried to find a way to keep going up and after a little bit of looking they found a staircase they led further up, leading to a metal box, were once a window was now just a hole looking at the huge grey dome in full view. There was a large command console and a small stand with a button on it.

“Alright, do you want to do the honors Princess? Just press that button when you’re ready to send our friends off, just pray it won’t all just explode on the pad.” Anne said.

Twilight approached the stand with the button, lifting up a hoof and resting it over it. “Alright, I hope they all make it alright, they may be crazy but they seemed very nice, I don’t want to see ponies like that get hurt.” Twilight said before pushing her hoof down with a click.

Suddenly a siren started to go off and the doors of the dome slowly started to open, exposing the three rockets inside. Anne’s Pipboy let out a static crackle before classical music started playing full volume, making all three faintly smile as they watched.

Smoke slowly came out of the back of the rockets as the music slowly built its way to its climax. Sparks started shooting from the backs before flames, Twilight worried that something was going wrong but seeing her friends all calm she guessed it was meant to happen.

With a loud roaring sound like something massive was ripped the rocket in the middle suddenly launched from its support followed by the right one then the left but as the let one left its support the engine cut out for a split second, making the rocket make a sudden and sharp turn and instead of going off to the side with the others it went right over the trios heads with a loud screech as the air rush by it. Twilight ducked down in fright when she saw it headed for them but looked back up when she saw that they weren’t all dead.

The doors on the large dome slowly closed again with the sound of the siren, the music slowly dying out.

The sun slowly started to set, the skies going to a deep orange as they slowly made their way to a darker and darker blue.

Anne let out a tired groan, sitting herself down against the wall of the box they were in, Boone doing the same. Twilight felt extremely tired as well, not even getting the nap from when they cleared out the nightkin so she sat down with her side pressed against Anne’s leg.

“That… was quite something…” Anne said tiredly, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a packet of cigarettes and putting one into the corner of her mouth before pulling one out slightly and offering it to Boone who took the loose cigarette and held it out at Anne.

Putting the packet back away she pulled out a scratched silver lighter and lit her cigarette and gave a quick puff before lighting Boones who took a long and relaxed drag of the smoke stick. “You can say that Twice, we never did things like that in the NCR, it was always take out a target from a great distance.” Boone said, taking off his rifle and putting it to the side.

Twilight let out a tired yawn, nose scrunching up slightly at the smell of her two smoking friends. “I don’t think I’ve been in that much life threatening danger than the time vines attacked Equestria…” Twilight said softly.

“That is a story you’ll have to retell one day but not right now, I think I speak for all of us when I say I want to just sleep, I can’t be assed to go anywhere to do it, just lay down here.” She stated. “It’s not like anyone will come up here anyway, they still think ghouls are here and who would really come up here? There’s nothing.” The woman said, putting her bag on the ground and using it for a hard pillow, Boone doing the same with his and using his beret to cover up the upper part of his face.

“Night you two.” He as he tried to get to sleep.

“Night.” The two girls said in unison.

“H-hey Anne?”

“Yes Princess?” The woman asked, turning her head to look at her friend.

“I-I know this is weird but could I m-maybe sleep next to you…?” The pony asked timidly.

Anne just gave a soft smile, moving herself over slightly so Twilight could use her bag-pillow as well. “Sure, just don’t get any ideas.” She joked, making Twilight blush.

Laying down Twilight cuddled herself against the woman’s side, wrapping a hoof over her stomach and the woman wrapped an arm around Twilight’s back. “Night Twilight, I’m glad I found you…” She said softly, closing her eyes.

“Goodnight Anne, thank you for saving my life…” Twilight said back softly, a faint smile as she rested her head on Anne’s shoulder, the closeness making her heart flutter, thoughts of how much the human woman meant to her going through her head.

She needed to have a word with Anne next chance she got and tell her about how she really felt but at that moment she cared more about resting so she closed her eyes.

And soon sleep took her.

Chapter 32

View Online

Twilight woke with a small yawn, starching out her back and rubbing her eyes as she sat up and looked around the small metal box they had slept in.

Anne and Boone sat against a wall eating from a box of food each, not really talking that much. When the woman noticed her friend was awake, she smiled, giving the pony a small wave. “Hey Princess, how are you?” The woman asked, reaching into her bag and pulling out a box of Insta-Mash for the pony and held it out. “How did you sleep?”

“Alright, the ground was killing my rump.” She said with a yawn, rubbing her eyes to help her wake up some more.

Grabbing the box with her magic she sat back down with her back against one of the cold metal walls, glad she was still wearing the black makeshift armor Anne made for her and kept her warm somewhat. “What time is it?”

Anne checked her Pip-Boy. “It’s eight fifty two, so almost nine.” She stated before taking another mouthful of her 200 year old box of food, so many preservatives in it that kept it from going moldy or going off.

“Can I have some water as well?” The pony asked, Anne handing her a half drunk bottle with actual clean water in it instead of the dirt filled one she was used to seeing.

“We have a couple of purified bottles, should last if we use it sparingly, maybe see if the Dino-Bite has any when we head back to Novac to tell Manny we did his favor.” She stated.

Twilight opened the bottle of the water and couldn’t help but let out a light moan at the taste of clean crisp water, chugging it down quickly. She didn’t realize how much she missed fresh water, the normally bland and unnoticeable taste of water now seeming like the best thing in her life.

While drinking Twilight realized that water was no longer filling her mouth and she opened her eyes and saw that the bottle was no longer in front of her and was held up by Anne. “Woah there girl, don’t rush it, I just said we don’t have much of this and here you go downing it like whiskey shots.”

“I’m not drinking again after last time.” Twilight said flatly, remembering waking up on top of the metal statue’s head.

“Anyone who drinks says the exact same thing, but when the call of booze arrives you won’t be able to stop us.” Anne said with a bitter chuckle. “Damn, that sounds like I’m an alcoholic…” She stated to herself.

“We always can go to New Vegas, there’s plenty of booze there as long as you’re willing to pay and not lose all your money to gambling.” Boone said taking a small swig from his plastic water bottle to help the disgusting tasting food go down easier but he was used to worse with army rations.

“Well if you’re going to Vegas there isn’t really much else to do besides to get drunk or lose all your money on the tables.” Anne said with a shrug.

“What’s ‘New Vegas’ like? What does it look like?” The pony asked.

Anne turned to Boone, she herself had never actually been there from what she could remember with her muddled mind.

“Well I’ve only went there before I got married, moved to Novac afterwards but from what I did see it’s one of the most populated parts in the wasteland. Freeside, which is around the city and is where the slums are. And then the actual Strip, casinos as far as the eye can see and probably the safest place you’ll find.” He stated.

“We might head there one day, but right now we’re looking for someone and I want to get to him as soon as possible.” Anne stated, standing up with a small tired groan and throwing her finished food box out the window. “You guys ready?”

“Sure, I guess.” Boone said, doing the same as Anne and standing up, grabbing his rifle and putting it onto his back.

“But it’s nice up here…” Twilight protested softly, pouting slightly. “Can’t we stay a little longer?”

“Wouldn’t you much prefer an actual bed? If we go now the sooner we’ll be able to sleep on a mattress instead of the rusty metal we have been lately.” Anne stated, grabbing her bag and putting it on her back along with all her weapons into their holsters. “Would also be nice to get out of this damn armor, it’s starting to smell a bit and needs a good scrub down.”

“You get used to not washing the longer you’re in the Wastes.” Boone stated.

“Then let’s go guys!” Anne said with a smile, Boone heading through the door first and before Anne could follow Twilight stopped her.

“Anne, could I please speak with you… A-alone?” She asked meekly, her heart thumping madly in her chest at what she was going to tell the woman.

“Um, sure.” Anne said confused before looking over her shoulder at Boone. “We’ll meet you down by the lobby.” She said before looking back to Twilight. “Alright, I’m all ears.”

Twilight took a few deep breaths, trying her hardest to calm herself. “W-well… there’s something I need to tell you…” The pony said softly.

“Yes?”

“I-I kind of like you…” She said meekly.

“That’s it? I like you too Prin-”

“No, I don’t mean it like that. I LIKE like you…” Twilight said with a large blush.

Anne’s smile fell away, realizing what her friend was saying. “Oh…” She said, sighing sadly as she sat down against one of the walls. “I’m not doing this because you don’t mean anything to me, but the opposite.” She tried to explain but knew she wasn’t doing well. “The straight truth is I respect you too much to do anything like get together with you Twilight, I’m not the type to get into a relationship.”

“Oh…” Twilight said, hanging her head sadly as she was rejected, tears welling up in her eyes.

“Now, what you’re feeling isn’t really love, it’s puppy love. I saved your life, a few times over and because of that you feel like you love me but it isn’t you just feel as though it is but in reality it’s closer to Stockholm syndrome.”

“Stockholm syndrome?”

“Well, it’s a thing here that in prisons people would be beaten and worse, so when a guard comes along and let’s say offers them a fresh loaf of bread they think that they are the best thing in their lives and think of that as being love but it’s just everything else is so bad that simple kindness seems like an act of affection.” She explained. “You were taken away from your home to a place no one should have to call home, because I was the first to show you kindness you think you have feelings for me.”

“Oh.”

“Besides.” Anne started, going over to Twilight and pulling her into a tight hug. “I think of you more like an annoying sister than anyone I would have a relationship with, I love you, just not in that way.” Anne said softly, gently comforting the pony.

After a few minutes Twilight pulled back from the hug, wiping her nose with the back of her hoof. “W-we should go back to Novac now…” She said.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Anne said giving Twilight a soft smile. “I’m always here for you Twilight, don’t forget that.”

__________________________________

“You have any luck on the ghouls? I’m counting on you.” Manny Vargas said once he turned from looking out of the dino’s mouth to see who came up.

“The ghouls are gone, all clear.” Anne said with a small sigh.

“Really? Unbelievable man, I knew that wasn’t going to be easy. But I had a good feeling about you, looks like you two have been through a lot.” He said looking at Twilight and Anne, Boone waiting downstairs so he didn’t have to talk to Manny again.

“Now… about the man I’m looking for…” Anne said crossing her arms.

“Okay, I’ll tell you everything I know, just like I promised.” He said. “The guy you’re looking for, Benny, was traveling with some members from my old gang, they were going to Boulder City.” He said, telling quite a lot from just that one sentence.

“Any ideas why they went that way?” Twilight asked.

“No clue. I know Benny hadn’t paid up yet, maybe that was where they were supposed to get square.” He said with a shrug.

“Where is Boulder City?”

“It’s straight up route ninety three from here, just keep following the road north.” He said pointing out the mouth at one of the long old roads in front of it.

“Thanks, that’s all we needed to know.” Anne said with a nod. “Thank you.”

“I hope that helps, I owed you.”

____________________________________

Hours later the group found themselves walking down the cracked and worn roads, weeds and dead plants growing through the cracks. Up ahead was the ruins of a town, if you could even call it that, there was barely anything left, only chunks of concrete that were once building with rebar sticking out of them at random angles.

There was a large smooth stone, a NCR trooper stood in front of it and looking solemnly at what was on it. Upon approaching they could read what it said.

‘On this spot in the year 2277, Rangers and Soldiers of the New California Republic turned back the forces of Caesar’s Legion during the battle of Hoover Dam. Over one hundred men and women gave their lives on Nevada soil to defend the local civilians and the principles of the Republic. May this humble stone be an enduring memorial to their valor and sacrifice.’ It read and on the other side was a long list of names along with ranks of all who died.

“Are you here to pay your respects to?” The young trooper asked looking at the group.

“What is this memorial?” Twilight asked.

“It commemorates the battle of Hoover Dam. The Rangers lured the best of Caesar’s Legion into Boulder City, then they blew the whole town up. The NCR still lost a bunch of troops in the fighting though. My older brother sacrificed himself so they could evacuate some of the wounded.” He said sadly.

“We’re sorry to hear that.” Anne said on behalf of the group.

“Don’t worry about it.” He said sadly with a sigh, looking back at the large stone.

The group continued to move on, the rubble in such a way they couldn’t go into the actual ruins of the town until they saw what looked like a door guarded by an NCR wearing a worn green beret instead of the normal helmets, showing that he was a higher rank.

Approaching he held up a hand to stop them. “We got a situation with some Great Khans right now. The brass at McCarren has ordered me to lock down the ruins until it’s been resolved.” He stated.

Anne knew it was the group she was looking for and hoped that Benny was still there with them. “What’s going on in there?”

“One of my patrols was on its way back from Novac when it came under fire from the Great Khans. They radioed for reinforcements but instead of waiting for us they chased the Khans into the ruins where they were caught in a crossfire. No deaths but not all the squad got out. The Khans have Private Ackerman and Private Gibbet as hostages.” He explained.

“We may be able to negotiate a deal with the Great Khans.” Anne said.

“Normally I’d turn you down since I have no idea who you are, but considering that the hostages are good as dead when we attack… Alright, I’m going to give you a chance to talk to the Great Khans, their leader is a man named Jessup. If we hear shooting we’ll be coming in, but it’d probably be too late for you.”

“Alright, we understand.”

“Good luck.” He said before opening the boarded up wooden fence, allowing the group to enter.

Inside was even more ruined than out, rubble in smaller chunks and blown up cars everywhere, behind some of the rubble were NCR troopers with their rifles pointed at a certain building but now were firing.

Guessing that the building with the guns pointed at it was the one they needed to get to Anne held up her arms and shouted. “Hello! Great Khans!? I need to have a word with Jessup, no one has to get hurt here!” She called, Boone grumbling and putting his hands up as well, following Anne as she slowly approached.

As they approached an only partially destroyed building they realized there weren’t many Khans there, each one of them wearing black leather with their hair spiked or shaven, automatic 10mm weapons in their hands but still not much bigger than Anne’s 10mm pistol but could hold more shots and shoot faster.

Hidden from the trooper’s view was a room with two kneeling NCR troopers, their hands bound in front of them and a Khan stood near them with her 10mm pointed at them, able to kill them in an instant if she wanted to.

“He’s inside!” A Khan called at them, pointing at a door but not taking his eyes off where the NCR were hidden in the rubble.

Heading for the door Anne stepped inside followed by her two friends.

Upon entering there were three Khans visible in the small room, lit up by a small battery lamp.

“What the hell?!” One of them exclaimed, looking shocked at seeing Anne, a bandana around his forehead that was spiked into a Mohawk. “You’re that courier Benny wasted back in Goodsprings, you’re supposed to be dead.” He said slightly scared.

“I got better.” Anne said flatly, Twilight looking confused at her friend, why was she meant to be dead and what did wasted mean?

“And here I thought us Great Khans were tough to kill, so what happens now?” He asked.

“Where’s the Platinum Chip?” Anne asks firmly.

“Don’t have it, Benny stole it right before he stabbed us in the back. He’s probably back at the Strip by now laughing at me.” He said angrily.

“Let’s talk about settling things between you and the NCR.” Boone interrupted.

“What’s to negotiate? The NCR backs off, we walk out of here, no one gets hurt.” He stated crossing his arms.

“Free the hostages now and I’ll have the NCR escort you out of their territory.” Anne said.

He sighed tiredly, rubbing his temple. “I can’t believe I’m doing this, but all right, the hostages can go, the NCR better keep their end of the deal though.” He said before reaching into his pocket and throwing something shiny at Anne.

She caught it and looked at it, a silver lighter with a spade from cards on it, looking very good quality. “Here, a souvenir for you. It’s Benny’s lighter, shove it up his ass when you catch up with him.” He said.

Leaving the building they saw the two NCR hostages quickly running away, now freed but the Khans weren’t moving from where they were yet.

Heading back to the officer they first talked to, and when they approached he said. “I’m glad you got my people freed but there’s a new problem. I just got orders to take out the Great Khans, hostages or not.”

“The Khans let the hostages go in exchange for their own freedom.” Twilight said slightly angry.

“My hands are tied, I can’t go against orders… can I?” He said uncertainly.

“If you have any integrity then you’ll honor the deal.” The pony stated.

“You’re right, the Great Khans are free to go.” He said, a few minutes the Khans started to leave, looking uncertainly at the glaring troopers but the officer shook his head and they looked away.

“Fucking finally, Benny is in the Strip, we actually are going to Vegas already Princess, you’ll be able to see it after all.” Anne said with a large grin as they started to walk off.

“That sounds rather exciting, it’s meant to be an important place right?” Twilight asked.

“One of the few places the warheads that killed everything didn’t get.” She said with a smile. “Trust me when I say-… What the hell is that?” Anne started but stopped in place when she saw something approaching them.

As it got closer Twilight knew what it was. The single wheel. The blue paint. The cowboy face on a screen.

“Fancy meeting you here friends!” It said happily in its tinny southern voice.

“Hello Victor… again.”

Chapter 33

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“How did you get here?” Twilight asked, slightly put off by the sudden appearance of the cowboy robot, now understanding why Anne didn’t trust it that much.

“Just rolling along on my spurs, looks like I might make it to New Vegas after all.” He said, swaying slightly on his single large wheel.

“You see what happened in there before we came?” Anne asked.

“Yup, guess it’s just down to you and fancy-pants. I wouldn’t worry about him, he looks all hat and no cattle if you ask me.”

Anne sighed, she definitely knew that the ‘friendly’ Victor was following them, seeming to be one step ahead of them constantly. “Well. It’s good to see you again Victor.”

“Yup, but this is getting mighty embarrassing, people are going to start to talk.” He said followed by the creepiest chuckle Twilight thought she had ever heard, sounding as if it bounced around inside him before coming out as a tiny giggle.

“Well… We’re heading off now, see you later.” Anne said with a smile, knowing that they would see the cowboy again if they liked it or not.

“Look me up when you’re in New Vegas, I’ll buy the first round.” The robot said before spinning around and raced down the dusty road, kicking up a small cloud of light brown dust behind his wheel.

After a moment to look at each other in confusion they saw Victor make his way over a small hill and out of view.

“Can you see why I don’t think he just ‘bumps’ into us, he’s watching us for something.” Anne stated looking down at Twilight.

“I guess I see that now… should we be worried?” The pony Princess asked.

“Nope, if he wanted us dead he would have just shot at us or left me to die at Goodsprings, he wanted me alive for something.” She stated.

“From what I’ve heard Mister House controls all of the securitrons.” Boone stated.

“Mister House?”

“He’s the man who runs Vegas, all of it.” The man said.

“Let’s put on some tunes, it’ll be a while till we reach New Vegas.” Anne said, lifting her arms and fiddling with the Pipboy on it, a crackle coming from it before soft guitar playing came from her arm.

They continued to walk, listening to the music and after a few the music faded and the smooth voice of Mister New Vegas could be heard.

"And we're back. This is Mr. New Vegas, and I feel something magic in the air tonight, and I'm not just talking about the gamma radiation.” He started. "You know, they say that 'No news is good news,' but I think my program would be awfully dull if that were the case."”

"Several unidentified aircraft were spotted flying over the REPCONN Test Site by a local crackpot. He spoke to a toy bear near one of our microphones.” He said before it went from his voice to said crazy old man’s "It's ghouls, I tell you. Religious ghouls in rockets, looking for a land to call their own. Don't you laugh at me! I know a spell that'll make you show your true form! A cave rat taught it to me."

Anne let out a chuckle. “Well then, it looks like we’re on the radio again, you happy about that Boone?”

“No.”

“Well I am, what about you Princess?” Anne said looking at Twilight.

“I don’t know what to think to be honest, it isn’t that big because back home I’ve been on the front of newspapers all the time since I became a princess.” The pony said sheepishly.

“Wow, being rather humble aren’t you?” Anne joked with another chuckle and before anyone could say any more Mister New Vegas started to talk again.

"The preceding segment was sponsored by the Silver Rush. Silver Rush: feel the rush of a warm laser in your hand." He said. "In New Vegas, we know the pain that numbers can bring us. Well so does Guy Mitchell, who's got Heartaches by the Number." He finished up before music started to play, talking about a man who gets heart pains a little too often to be healthy in Twilight’s eyes.

___________________________

Soon an old train track alongside the road, only hills, mountains, and HELIOS behind them able to be seen but soon, after rounding a bend from behind a large rock they saw something in the distance.

“Well would you look at that.” Anne said taking off her helmet, holding it under her arm.

“Is that New Vegas?” Twilight asked in wonder.

“Yes, that’s the Lucky Thirty Eight, it’s where Mister House is and the heart of Vegas.” Boone said not taken aback by the sight.

Up ahead was a massive tower, even from the large distance they were at it was big. It was a large pillar with a circular platform on top, but they couldn’t see the details from that far away. Closer up, just a little further on the road was what looked like a small camp set up in old trucks and busses, on top of an overpass.

Walking into the set up they saw a NCR flag, a two headed bear, flapping about in the wind.

There were quite a few people around, a few NCR troopers, normal looking Wastelanders, but two stood out. One was a woman, dressed in a worn green cloths and a large green hood. But what made her really stand out was unlike her clothes which looked very cheap and low quality, but on her arm was something that was far from it.

It was a tad bigger than Anne’s Pipboy and on the right arm. It had pistons on it along with a bunch of parts that could move. It was a Powerfist, a machine used to add more force behind a punch by the use of the pistons, a normally weak person could punch someone’s head off if it were in good enough condition.

The other was a small boy wearing some sort of headgear, an old American flag with the 13 stars arranged in a circle with a big one in the middle and the red stripes. Around him were things like old paintings, a pram, even a garden gnome. He seemed to just be sitting by his things and that drew the attention of Twilight who up to that point hadn’t seen a human child.

Approaching the boy Twilight smiled softly. “Hello there young one.” She said kindly.

“Hello ma’am, I hope you’re doing fine today.” He replied with a smile, Anne and Boone going around to different people. Boone to vender to buy more ammunition for his rifle and Anne to a makeshift bar made from an overturned bus missing everything but a wall and the roof.

“Where are your parents? Are you here all alone?” Twilight asked concerned, sitting down.

“I don’t have a mama or papa anymore. I see them sometimes when I take off my medicine. But they can’t stay, I’m pretty used to being on my own.” He said, making Twilight hang her head slightly upon hearing that the child was an orphan.

Twilight felt bad about bringing it up and with all the things behind him, along with a few books she decided to see if she could buy any of them to give the child some of her caps. “So are you selling any of those?” She asked softly.

“Oh I don’t sell things ma’am, I sell thoughts.” He said.

The princess looked slightly confused at the child. “You sell ‘thoughts’?” Twilight asked hesitantly.

“I can take off my medicine and do some thinking, people say it’s really interesting. I don’t know because I never hear it. Some people say it’s a gift. Other people say it’s the kind of thinking anyone could do if they watched enough more than they talked. I don’t know which is true. I see a lot, I think a lot. There’s a lot to hear through the one eighty eight too, that and maybe that accounts for the thinking.” He explained.

Twilight sighed, she decided to give this kid some caps just so he could have a little bit of money, not really thinking he would say anything that really mattered. “I’ll play you a hundred caps to hear your thoughts.” She offered.

He smiled. “Great! What do you want me to think about? I can think about you, here… or everywhere, what do you want?” He asked.

Twilight used her magic to float over a hundred caps to the boy. “I wouldn’t mind hearing about me.” She said with a smile.

“Okay, let me take off my medicine.” He stated, taking off his head gear and closing his eyes.

After a few moments he started to talk. “One of four, yet one of six. The four more powerful than the six but no conflict. Asked by one of the four to travel, but your way was lost, changed to where you didn’t want. Worried for the four and six but now worried for a new one, recently found and not wanting to lose.” He said, chilling Twilight to the bone. She knew who he was talking about, the four being the other princesses of Equestria and the six being her friends. “Forecast, an unexpected storm.” He finished before putting his head gear back on.

“Woah…” Twilight said, landing on her rump in surprise, jaw hanging open.

“What is it?” Anne asked, approaching the two, a bottle of whiskey in her hand which had a little bit taken away from it.

“He knows about me without meeting me yet.” Twilight said still shocked.

“I bet he just listened to the radio.” The woman said before looking at the boy. “Tell about me then, I’ll pay you if I have to.” She stated.

The boy sighed, taking his head gear back off and closing his eyes. “Your face does the thinking, two to the skull, yet one gets up. Odds are against you but they’re just numbers after the two-to-one. You’re playing the hand you’ve been dealt but you don’t let it rest. You shuffle and stack, and a gamble. A gamble that may pay off? But how?” He said. “Forecast, rapidly changing conditions.” He finished, putting his head gear back on and leaving Anne slack jawed like her pony friend. “A lot of thinking, most of it in your face, it’s almost shouting at me, sorry if I said anything weird.”

“Fucking hell…” Anne said, dropping a hundred caps in front of the boy before slowly walking away.

“B-bye…” Twilight said softly to the boy as she followed after Anne.

“See you.” He said.

“Anne, wait up.” Twilight said, following after her friend as she went back to the bar. “What did he mean when talking about you? Two to the head? As in two punches?” She asked confused.

“No.” Anne answered flatly, popping the top off her amber filled bottle before taking a large gulp from it. “I’d rather not talk about it…”

“Come on Anne, I’m your friend and I’m here to listen to you.” Twilight said, sitting on the stood next to her friend. “You listen to me.”

Anne took one more large gulp from her drink before sighing. “Buy me another drink and I’ll tell you.” She grumbled, the bottle not empty yet.

Twilight gave her friend a blank look before sighing. Gesturing for the bartender she bought another bottle of whiskey for thirty caps which she found to be a bit much but she needed to buy it so her friend would talk.

Sliding the bottle over to Anne it bumped against her metal clad arm with a clink sound, drawing her attention to the new bottle. “Oh… I didn’t think you would get it...” The human admitted.

“Well I did, now you need to tell me what the colt meant.” Twilight said firmly.

“Fine.” Anne said, taking off her bag, dropping it to the ground next to her stool. “We’re staying the night, it’s already late in the day and I’m not traveling around the Mojave drunk.” She said dumping her metal helmet onto the bag.

“Fine but just tell me already.”

“Well. It’s the reason I want Benny. As you know I was one a courier, I delivered packages around and one day as I was taking a package of one oversized platinum poker chip I was ambushed by Benny and our Khan friends back in Boulder City.” She stated before reaching down to the pony’s fore hoof and pulling out her 9mm pistol. “Tell me Princess, from what you’ve seen what would you say would happen if I were to shoot someone in the head with this thing?”

Twilight watched her friend uncertainly. “Well… they’d be dead, the bullets would destroy their brain, that would kill them instantly.”

“Yes, it would, the bullet goes right through the brain and in many cases it shatters on the skull and acts a bit like a shotgun inside their head.” Anne said, pulling back the slide twice and holding up the two bullets that fell out.

“Benny wanted to make sure news of the robbery didn’t spread too fast, so as the boy said, he gave me two to the head.” Anne stated, pointing to the scar above her eye and lifting up her hair a bit to show another one a few inches away from it.

Twilight’s eyes widened. “You were shot in the head? Twice?!” She asked in shock, her friend taking another gulp of her drink.

“Yes, and I take that kind of thing personally. Benny won’t survive long once I find him.” She growled.

Twilight looked at her friend in shock, now fully understanding why her friend was going through such lengths trying to find this man. “Oh…”

“Yes, the bullets didn’t just leave me with two new scars, but all but wiped my memory. I don’t remember anything about myself, my family if I had one, Anne was just a name I came up with, it could be Susan and I have no clue. All I remember is how to survive, the face of the man that shot me, and that I need to kill that son of a bitch.” She said getting angrier and angrier.

“Anne, you might want to take a few breaths, no use to getting mad right now.” Twilight said resting a hoof on the woman’s back.

Anne sighed, rubbing her temple before reaching down into her bag and pulling out a cigarette and putting it to her mouth. Pulling Benny’s shiny lighter she flicked it open and clicked on the flame, bringing it to the end of the cigarette and once lit closing the lid and taking a long drag. “I’m heading to bed, there are some in the busses around, tell Boone we’re staying.” Anne said standing up, grabbing her two bottles and her bag, starting to wonder off with a slight sway in her step from the alcohol in her blood.

Twilight sighed sadly, resting her head on the bar top.

“Need another drink?” The bartender asked.

“Sure… why not?”

Chapter 34

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Twilight woke with a small groan, her head aching and mouth feeling dry. Sitting up slowly with her hooves to the sides of her head she got up, hearing a slight clinking sound as an almost finished bottle of whiskey fell off her belly and onto the metal floor of a caravan, a little bit dripping out.

Wincing as she opened her eyes she knew she must have drank a little too much last night but still remembered everything that happened so she wasn’t worried that much. All she really did was drink at the bar depressed before heading to bed, not really answering any of the questions people asked her about herself.

Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes she slowly stood up, stretching her back and walking out of the caravan.

The sun was barely over the horizon, a slight edge of it peeking out from over the top of one of the mountains, bathing everything it saw in a warm orange light.

Anne was doing pushups, sweat dripping from her brow and her armor off as to not to get it all wet and chafe her when they started to move again. Her muscles visible as they did their work, clenching the skin tightly. Burns visible on one of her shoulders and around her neck from Primm.

Approaching her friend she sighed sadly. “I’m sorry for bring that up yesterday…” Twilight said softly.

“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Anne mentioned offhandedly, still pushing herself off the ground. “You didn’t know and I had no right to be upset with you, you’re cool.” She said finally stopping, standing up back and wiping her forehead.

“You mean it?” Twilight said surprised.

“Yeah, I’m sure, now go help Boone get some more food and water for us.” She said heading into one of the caravans to get dressed back into her armor.

Heading over to a destroyed bus, windows gone and both front and back of it removed she saw Boone, talking with another man. “Morning Boone.” She said.

“Morning Twilight.” He said before turning back to the store keeper. “So how much for all that?” He asked.

“Two hundred and forty two caps.” He stated.

“Two hundred.” Boone said crossing his arms.

“Two twenty.”

“Deal.” Boone said pulling out a small sack from his bag and dropping it on the makeshift counter.

The other man reached behind him onto one of the beaten up metal shelves, pulling off a dozen boxes of food along with half a dozen bottles of clean and fresh water.

The ex-NCR started to put the things into his bag, handing a few things to Twilight who put them into the large pockets on her clothing. “So Boone, when we get to New Vegas what will we be doing?” Twilight asked.

“Whatever Anne wants, she’s the one seeming to lead things right now.” He said putting his bag back on.

“I mean besides that.”

“Well, you have to have a passport to actually get onto the Strip, show that you have at least two thousand caps and you’ll get one, or already have a passport ready.” He stated. “I didn’t need one when I was with the NCR, just went from McCarren on the monorail.”

“Is it nice?”

“When you’re drunk it’s nice, otherwise there are prostitutes in front of some of the casinos, drunk people walking along the streets and constantly having high powered weapons pointed at you by the guards around the streets.”

“How many ponies would be there?” Twilight asks tilting her head.

“There aren’t going to be ponies there.” Boone stated, making Twilight blush slightly.

“I mean how many humans will be there?”

“A lot, I can’t give you a direct number but you’ll see it soon anyway.” He said starting to walk out of the bus-shop

Anne was back in her metal armor, helmet on her head and sitting at an old rotted wooden bench, looking on the verge of collapsing in on itself. “You guys ready to head off?” She asked standing up.

“Yeah, I think we are.” Twilight said.

“Then let’s go, we’re burning sunlight.” She said with a smile, starting to walk down along the road they arrived on but in the opposite direction and closer to the large tower in the distance.

____________________

When they got closer they found there were more buildings closer together, in a higher number than further out and more advertisement signs such as one talking about tours at the REPCONN HQ and other talking about a casino called the Atomic Wrangler with the picture of a man riding on top of an atom. And on that sign in red paint were the words ‘FUCK NCR!’

More and more signs were seen. The Tops, Lucky 38, Ultra Luxe, Gomorrah, each saying something to try and get people to go to that one when there were many others around they could go to.

Only a minute later the road ended. Not because it reached a place but because the bridge it went up to had all but been ruined, no way to get up to it besides flying and even then it didn’t look that stable.

“Well shit, I don’t like leaving the roads but I guess we have to.” Anne said with a sigh, turning to the left and going the direct route to New Vegas.

They passed a trader and his small group of guards, sparing a quick hello only as they continued to move along.

“There’s the wall around Freeside.” Boone stated, pointing over to the thirty foot tall wall made from old advertisement signs, all worn away and not recognizable anymore, metal pipes sticking out of them with metal chain link fence put on top with barbed wire to try and stop people from climbing over it. “The east gate would be somewhere here.”

A massive sign was held up not that far away, flashing in neon lettering made from different signs ‘Freeside’ with the S being crooked. Walking around the wall they eventually found the gate Boone said, colorful wood decorating above it in an arch, the gate itself being made from thick bent and rusted metal, no guards visible.

“The gates never get looked after, it’ll take a little push to open them.” Boone stated, pressing his shoulder against the door and pushing with a rather large amount of effort.

A deathly screech of rusty metal hinges made Twilight flinch and her ears flicking down to try and ignore the sound while Boone opened one of the double gates.

After a few moments he managed to open it enough for the small group to enter, stepping through.

Freeside was a lot more lively than anywhere else Twilight has seen in the Mojave Wasteland, houses only looking like they just were never looked after and not so much destroyed but more just left to ruin over time, barrels with fires lit inside them littered the streets with people stood around them warming up in the rags they called clothes.

Two children were chasing after a large rat with knives in their hands, a ghoul sat by a wall with mold covering his head, a shady looking guy with a cap on his head and a baggy jumper. People were on the corners shouting for different places in Freeside, be it a normal goods store, an energy weapon shop or a casino.

A building in better conditions than others was called The King’s School of Impersonation, music playing loudly with its name in large bright letters. People were stood around it, wearing leather jackets with the collars folded up and hair all styled the same and color. Deep black and folded back with large amounts of product.

Down at the very end of the street was yet another large gate but this time on the large arch of colored wooden sheets were ‘Welcome to the Strip’ in lights, robots exactly like Victor around it but instead of a cowboy face there all had the same face of a police officer. Some of them were on raised metal platforms either side, looking over anyone that they saw.

Approaching it a man in a dirty white suit and small goatee stepped in front of them. “You look new to Freeside so here’s a little advice friend. Don’t go past the south gate greeter without talking to it first.” He said calmly.

“Why wouldn’t we want to go past the greeter?” Anne asked confused.

“Those bots are programed to vaporize anyone who enters the fenced in area without authorization from the greeter.” He said.

“Thanks for the free advice buddy.” Anne said holding out a hand for a handshake.

“The name’s old Ben, been living in Freeside most of my life.”

“I’m Anne, that’s Twilight and this is Boone.” Anne said.

“Nice to meet you all.” The white suited man said. “Remember, talk with the greeter.” He said before going back to one of the flaming barrels to keep himself warm.

Starting to approach the gate closer a man shoved past Anne, stumbling her slightly and before she thought that she just got stabbed in the back he kept running at the gate, wearing rags and no weapon with him.

All the guards seemed to snap into action at the same time, all of them starting to shoot automatic weapons from their hands at the person, instantly riddling them with bullets over his entire body, blood coagulating out of him quickly before he even flopped wetly to the ground, dead.

“Yes… not running through sounds like a good idea…” Anne said approaching one of the robots stood in the middle, guessing that he was the greeter Ben mentioned.

Before they could say anything the robot suddenly spoke.

“Submit to a credit check or present your passport before proceeding to the gate. Trespassers will be shot.” He said in a commanding echoing voice.

“Credit check? Why?” Anne asked.

“Admission to the Strip requires an official passport or proof that you are carrying required minimum balance. The policies prevent any less-reputable persons from entering and ensure a good time will be had by all those who enter the Strip.” The gate greeter stated.

“Fine, I’ll submit to the credit check.” Anne said pulling out the large bag of caps she had inside her main bag.

The robot made a small humming sound inside before a small beep sounded out. “Thank you madam, you may proceed.” He stated, holding out his hand which a slip of paper printed out, claiming whoever held the card was welcome into the strip.

Anne smiles and walks past the guard but waits for her friends.

Boone goes next, pulling out his also large bag of caps, taking all the caps he had saved up from working as a lookout at Novac, not really spending it on anything so he had a hefty amount saved up. “Thank you sir, you may proceed.” The robot stated before giving him a passport as well.

And finally Twilight approached and before she could move the guard spoke again. “No mutants are allowed on the Strip, please leave, failure to do so will result in immediate termination.” He said, freezing Twilight in place.

Even though the other’s couldn’t hear they knew what was going on, looking fearfully at the safety of their friend, the other guards all turning to the pony with their weapons aimed at her in case she didn’t listen to the greeter.

“Leave this premises or we will open fi- thank you madam, you may proceed.” He suddenly stopped mid-sentence, all the other guards going back to what they were doing.

Hesitantly Twilight grabbed her passport before running over to Anne, beat thumping in her chest and panicked breathing. “T-they were going to shoot me…” She panicked, feeling that a hail of bullets might suddenly come flying at her.

“I don’t know what happened Twilight but they seemed to make an exception for you.” Anne said surprised at what just happened.

“Robots don’t make exceptions.” Boone stated. “It’s either yes or no, never in between.”

“Then why did they just… stop?” Twilight asked, looking back at the casual metal guards.

“I don’t know, but I bet it is because of something we’re going to find out rather soon.” Anne said worriedly.

Two guards opened one of the much larger gates, not enough to look inside but enough for them to walk inside.

Twilight and Anne felt their jaws drop. All the walking that day meant the sun was already setting, the sky starting to get dark but that made things look even better. The casinos, their huge signs large and flashing, the one called Gomorrah’s sign had fire coming out of the top and two outlines of woman kicking their legs up. Music played out on loud speakers, constantly going.

In front of the building was a few skimpily dressed woman, wearing leather and chair, their large breasts covered in nothing but duct tape covering their nipples.

NCR wearing black armbands with the letters MP on them walked around with stun rods, helmets reading the same things. Around were other NCR but they didn’t have weapons on their persons, one hunched against the support of a sign vomiting violently, other’s stumbling along drunk. People wearing dirty casualwear were also walking around.

A securitron started rolling over to them, his police face suddenly changing over to one of a smiling cowboy. “Howdy partners! You’ve come a far piece haven’t you? Welcome to New Vegas.”

“Of course you’re here!”

Chapter 35

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“It seems like you pop up everywhere Victor.” Anne stated, crossing her arms.

“Aw shucks partner. I suppose it can’t hurt to let you in on my little secret.” He said, his voice seeming to quiet down slightly. “Old Victor wouldn’t be much use stuck inside just one Securitron. No, I can move from one to another with the snap of a finger. Pretty nice trick ain’t it? Just don’t ask me how I do it, because I don’t know.”

Anne sighed. “Can you point me to The Tops? I’ve got a score to settle.” Anne stated, Twilight knowing what that meant.

“Sorry rambler, I know you’re fixing to serve up some vengeance but I’m gonna have to point you at the Lucky 38 first.” The robot said. “Mister House, the head honcho of New Vegas is itching to make ya’ll acquaintance. He’ll help you serve that cold dish of yours extra chill.” He said in a low tone.

Boone’s eyebrows raised above his glasses in surprise, all around the wasteland the Lucky 38 casino in New Vegas was one of the most mysterious places around. No one ever left and no one ever entered and here was one of the robotic guards of the building telling them to go inside and talk with none other than Mister House himself.

“Tell Mister House we might stop by.”

“Don’t you dawdle little doggie.” Victor warned, “Mister House isn’t someone you want to go about snubbing, he’ll be waiting.” The robot finished before his face suddenly flicked and changed back into one of the frowning policemen before rolling his way away.

“You did not just do that Anne.” Boone said in shock. “He runs this place, if he wanted to he could have every Securitron in the Strip pepper you like that junkie at the gate.”

“He ain’t going to kill us, he wants to talk with us, probably about the package I was meant to deliver and Benny so happens to have it, so I would prefer not to get shot for being incompetent at the one job I’m sort of good at.”

“How do you expect to kill him? You’re not allowed to bring weapons into the casinos and if Benny is one of the men who run it he’ll have a gun on him at all times.” Boone stated.

“We could always smuggle something in.” Twilight suggested, drawing the attention of the two arguing humans.

“That… would work actually…” Boone admitted.

“But it wouldn’t be a firearm, it’s impossible to hide a pistol, even a small one, on your person.” Anne said. “At most I could get in a small knife or even some knuckle dusters.”

“What are knuckle dusters?” The pony asked.

“They’re kind of like rings that go on all your fingers except the thumb and are all connected, they cause more damage on a punch than just normal fists.”

“I won’t be able to use them.” Twilight said. “I don’t have fingers.”

“That’s why we’ll tie a knife or something into your hair, they’ll check all your pockets.” Anne said offhandedly.

“Where might we actually get this stuff?” Boone asked crossing his arms.

“Hey there friend, I couldn’t help but overhear that you are looking for weapons you can easily sneak into the casinos.” A man in a dirty white suit said approaching, brown beard on his face and sunglasses on even though the sun was almost fully set. “Lucky for you I got what you need.”

Anne blinked in surprise. “Well… let’s see what you have then.” She said.

The man smiled and gestured for them to follow him, leading them behind one of the large signs where he opened up his suit jacket. Line of switch knives lines the inside along with different type of knuckle dusters, brass ones and even ones with spikes on them. “Take a look at these beauties.”

In the end Boone had a straight razor, Twilight getting a switchblade and Anne a pair of spiked knuckledusters. All of which Anne hid on her person, the knives wedged between her arm and the Pipboy and with her knuckles she hid one in each metal boot. It wasn’t comfortable but it would only be till they got inside.

Walking up to a large building with the flashing name ‘The Tops’ on a sign next to it they pass a stand up artist shouting out bad comedy to the people walking about. Saying things like ‘I’ve been in love with the same woman for seventeen years, if my wife were to ever find out she’d kill me’ and ‘Me and my wife found the answer to a happy marriage. Two times a week we go to a nice restaurant. She goes Mondays I go Fridays.’

Passing the man they got to one of the many doors and entered.

Upon entering they were greeted with a large desk, a few men in white suits and black ties stop behind it. A few other white suits were around from what they could see, weapons on their hips. Gamblers were around, some looking happy but a larger number looking saddened or angry from losing most of their money.

One of the men behind the desk smile friendly. “Hey hey baby doll, welcome to the Tops hotel and Casino. I’m going to have to ask you to hand over any weapons you might be carrying.” He said in a smooth voice. “And while we don’t usually accept mutants in here a Securitron ‘politely’ told us to allow you in but don’t cause any trouble and ignore the looks given to you.”

The three approached the table, Boone putting his rifle on the table along with a large combat knife they wouldn’t have been able to hide. Twilight hesitantly placed her laser gun along with her two pistols next to it. And finally Anne took the small arsenal off her person. Shotgun, grenade rifle, service rifle and they two pistols she had along with her helmet because she felt she didn’t need to wear it at that moment.

“Now I hope you don’t mind but one of our boys are just going to give you a pat down, don’t worry, we do it to everyone.” The greeter said, one of the armed suited men approaching the group.

After a quick pat down where Twilight felt like she should feel violated even though it was quick and the guard did nothing wrong the greeter spoke again. “Smooth and easy, just the way I like it. Don’t worry, they’ll be as safe as kittens till you’re ready to leave. Oh, and a friendly word of advice. If you happen to ‘stumble across’ any weapons during your stay here well… just don’t wear them openly, you dig?” He said. “Now that we got that little business out of the way what can I do to make your Tops experience the tops?”

“We’ll just go gambling for a bit, it’s why we came here.” Anne quickly lied smoothly with a smile. “I made a ton of caps lately and we came here to hopefully triple the amount.”

The greeter smiled. “The cashier is upstairs, we accept all currencies, be it caps, NCR or Legion.” He said. “Have a nice time baby.”

“Bye.” Anne said sweetly before walking away into the casino.

The smile instantly fell and she looked around, spying a bathroom. Walking inside she took the weapons off her person and handed them to the person and pony they belonged to. “Remember, don’t let anyone see them.” She said, hiding her dusters in one of her pockets.

The two others nodded, just putting them in their pockets.

In the casino there were dozens upon dozens of different tables. Some had Poker played at them, some had Blackjack and most of them had people gambling away their money at them. “Black and white checkered suit guys, that’s what her wears.” Anne muttered to the.

Twilight looked around, only really seeing a normal plain white suits but not checkered. But after a few moments she noticed a large group of them on the other side of the building, having a lot heavier weapons and stood in the middle of them smoking a cigarette was a man, hair slicked back and white checkered suit.

“Anne… I think I see him.” Twilight said slowly, drawing the attention of the two others.

“Yes… that’s him.” She said with a nod. “Stay back, we don’t want to scare him off.” She said walking off towards the man.

The woman’s heart was pounding in her chest, slowly approaching, her friends a few paces behind her.

“Hey, Benny, I think someone’s here to see you.” One of the guards said, making the smoking man turn around and eyes widen in shock at the sight of the woman approaching her.

“What in the goddamn…?” He said in confusion before collecting himself again. “Let’s keep this in the groove hey? Smooth moves like smooth little babies.”

Anne knew she couldn’t take the man out here, she would have to get him alone otherwise the guards around him would kill her before she even got a single punch out. An idea popped into her head, making her grin to herself.

“When you shot me you ran off so fast I never got your name.” She said, what better to get a man to do what you want than with the promise of sex?

“You making a pass at me sister? Because I’m out of your league.” He said raising an eyebrow.

“Is it wrong to want the guy who’d shoot me in the head?” She asked innocently.

“Did those bullets scramble your egg? Or have you always been such a naughty broad…?”

“Girls like bad boys, and you’ve been downright awful.”

“You’re one sick pussycat baby. There’s quins and then there’s…. I don’t even know what to call you.”

“I’m saying I dig you despite it all. What do you say?”

“I hear ‘dig’ from you babe and all I can think of is a shovel. How can this be? This ain’t forgiveness, it’s something… wrong…”

“I’m a courier remember? Don’t you want me to handle your package?”

“All right honey baby, this is all kinds of wrong but to my suite it is, thirteenth floor, don’t keep me wait.” He said slightly confused at what just happened and walked off to take the elevator to his room.

Walking to her shocked friends she grinned. “Got him alone.” She said happily.

“Are you actually going to have sex with him?” Twilight asked in shock.

“Oh hell no, I wouldn’t touch him unless I was going to choke that fuck to death.” Anne said with a grin. “Let’s get upstairs and tell him the surprise.”

Going to the elevator Benny went into they pressed the call button and waited a little bit for it to come down. Stepping in Anne pulled her dusters out and put them on her fingers on both hands while Boone and Twilight pulled their knives out.

Once up at the thirteenth floor they made their way to the largest door, assuming it ways Benny’s and when the door opened without needing the key they knew it was the right one. Benny wasn’t seen but the door to the bedroom. Walking in Benny was there, sat on the bed.

“Benny is going to show you the Tops, I hope you’re buil-“ He stopped as he noticed the other two with Anne.

“Hook line and sinker.” Anne said with a grin.

With a flash Benny pulled his pistol off his hip, it being a silver 9mm with black etched around it and the handle being white marble with the picture of a woman on it.

He pointed the gun at Anne and fired, a bullet slamming into the metal on her shoulder to jerk back from the impact.

Boone dove forwards, knife in his hands. Going for a stab Benny takes a step back, bringing his gun around to shoot the other man but the ex-shoulder slapped his hand to the side making the bullet miss him.

Twilight shot her knife out like a bullet, impacting into his knee and spearing into it, sinking into his flesh and almost coming out the other side, making him fall to his knee.

Anne quickly got back up and brought her fist back before taking a step forward and slamming her fist onto his forehead, digging three holes into his skull.

He let out a pained yell, clutching his head and dropping his gun to the ground and clutching the bleeding holes.

Grabbing the gun, Anne pointed it at Benny’s head before pulling the trigger, making him go limp and slump forward, blood and grey matter covering the wall and floor behind him.

They all were panting, Boone had blood splattered on his face and clothing from being so close, Twilight having a little bit on her hooves.

“I-it’s finished… he’s dead.” Anne said, dropping the pistol before a massive grin broke out on her face. “FUCK YES!” She cheered, jumping up and down in glee and throwing her hands up. “That fuck is finally dead!”

“It was a lot more effort getting here than the actual fight.” Twilight observed.

“Who cares? He finally dead and I can move on with my life.”

“You have one?”

Chapter 36

View Online

“For a job well done.” Anne said with a grin, holding up a bottle of water to the two of her friends.

They had put the dead body of Benny in the bathtub in his bathroom and tried their best to clean up the blood and brains on the stained red carpet and peeling plaster wall.

“Right you are.” Boone said holding up a bottle of his own.

“Does this mean we can relax now?” Twilight asked floating her bottle to meet the others.

They all took a sip from the purified water they pilfered from a cupboard Benny had in his large room.

“Nope, we have a lot to do such as finding a way for you to get back home.” Anne said with a grin, seeing Twilight’s eyes light up at that idea.

“You mean it?”

“Of course Princess, you wouldn’t want to stick around with us for the rest of your life when you could go back to pony land.”

“Equestria.”

“Bless you.” Anne said offhandedly.

Before any of them could say anything more a loud static sound came from a closed door in the room before as quickly as it arrived it left.

Without anyone saying a word they all pulled out a weapon, Boone and Twilight with their knives and Anne with a ‘borrowed’ Benny’s pistol, its holster the same as Twilight’s 9mm pistol but just different colors, white and black instead of the hard black and brown of Twilight’s.

Slowly they made their way to the door, Anne going first with Benny’s gun. Upon opening the door they found that it was a walk in wardrobe that had the back wall smashed through and now led into an extra room. Unlike the main room the once carpeted floors were now mold covered and the plastered walls not chipped brick. Around the room were different types of machines along with the large boxy computers.

And in the middle of the room was a Securitron, his moniter being a very happy cartoon face of a smiling man who was just rolling around the room at a slow pace, seeming like it was just wandering around bored.

Looking at each other for a moment they slowly approached the robot, guns still in their hands. “Hello?”

The robot quickly spun around on its one wheel to face them. “Hey! Hi there, good to meet you!” He said in an overly happy voice. “What can I do for you today?” He asked.

“What are you doing up here?” Twilight asked confused at the happy robot.

“Good question! My function is to monitor Mister House’s data network and decode his encrypted transmissions.” He said happily. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m PDQ dash eighty eight B Securitron. But you can call me Yes Man!”

“Yes Man? What kind of name is that?” Anne asked which got a small kick to the shin from Twilight.

“It’s what Benny always called me. Probably because I’m programed to be so helpful!” He said, Anne grinning.

Pulling the oversized Platinum Chip from her pocket, the one Benny tried to kill her for with the Lucky 38 logo carved into the surface. Holding it up Anne said. “Have you ever seen this Platinum Chip before?”

“Sure! Benny had me look at it a bunch of times! It’s a data storage device, kind of like a holotape but a lot more advanced.” The robot stated. “As for what’s on it, well… Some of Mister House’s data transmissions made it sound like the Chip could upgrade his defenses somehow. That’s just a guess though. The Chip’s a preparatory format. You need special hardware to read the data on it. There are two locations with non-standard hardware on the network. The Lucky 38 and an underground facility at Fortification Hill, I’d look there!”

“What was Benny planning to do with the Chip?”

“Oh! He wanted to kill Mister House and use the Platinum Chip to copy my neuro-computational matrix onto the Lucky Thirty Eight mainframe. That would give me control over all of Mister House’s defenses, most prominently his Securitrons. And then I guess I just do as I’m told.”

Twilight looked uncertainly at the robot. “You’re very… forthcoming with that information…” She stated.

“I was programed to be helpful and to answer any questions I was asked. I guess nobody bothered to restrict who I answer questions for.” He said. “That was probably pretty dumb huh?”

Anne grinned, ideas popping into her head. “Say I wanted to take over New Vegas myself. What then?”

“Then I’d have to help you! I mean it seems pretty obvious Benny wouldn’t have wanted me to, but hey, not my fault I can’t say no.” The robot said happily.

“What is the plan exactly?” Twilight asked.

“Again, goal number one is to eliminate Mister House and install my neuro-computational matrix onto the Lucky Thirty Eight’s mainframe. Given how you’re a new arrival I also recommend that you get to know some of the region’s tribes so you can decide how you feel about them. By the time you’ve finished up all of that the Legion should be close to attacking Hoover Dam and we’ll execute the last phase of the plan.”

“Say Mister House was going to suffer an accident, how would that happen?” Anne asked with a sinister grin.

“It makes me feel really dumb to admit this but I don’t actually know. I’ve never been inside the Lucky Thirty Eight, no one has.” He stated. “Mister House is in there though, it’s the central node for his entire network.”

“Well we’ve been invited to visit the Lucky Thirty Eight.” Twilight said.

“Wow! Do you have any idea how special that is? Red carpet treatment! Seems a little mean to use his invitation against him like that but I’m sure it’s all for the best. I mean Benny was always scheming about how he was going to get into the Lucky Thirty Eight but you already took care of that. Wow! The other thing you’re going to need is the Platinum Chip, you know the one Benny killed a courier over near Goodsprings.”

Anne’s grin fell instantly, crossing her arms. “What do you know about the courier Benny shot?” She asked flatly.

“I knew she was carrying the Platinum Chip! And I knew right where Benny should wait for her.” The robot said oblivious to who he was actually talking to and the two others there took a small step back in worry. “That’s why Benny put me here! To monitor Mister House’s data transmissions. They’re all encrypted of course but I’m quite the decrypter.” He said happily. “Did you know Mister House spent eight hundred and twelve thousand five hundred and forty five caps hiring salvage teams to find the Platinum Chip, just in the last year alone? Of cause you didn’t! Or that there were seven couriers, but six of them were carrying junk? How about their exact routes and the mercenary teams that screened them? I knew all that, pretty smart huh?”

Anne gave the robot a flat cold look. “I’m the courier Benny shot.” She stated.

The robot let out a playful laugh. “Hahaha! I know that’s not true because you still have a head!” He said still sounding overly happy.

“I’m serious.”

He let out another laugh, it fading off awkwardly. “Hahaha! That’s not funny… you getting shot in the head…” he said, for the first time seeming to sadden slightly before cheering right back up. “I really shouldn’t have taken so much pride in how I set that up huh? I feel really bad right now.”

“It doesn’t matter, I have the Platinum Chip remember.” Anne said, holding the oversized poker chip up again.

“Of course you do! Sorry about that! And it’s wonderful you do!” he said cheerfully again. “The Platinum Chip is the key to overriding and exploiting Mister House’s defenses.” He said before quickly adding. “Did I just say exploiting? That’s not a very nice word.”

“So we should ask these tribes if they’ll support an Independent Vegas?”

“Oh no!” He said. “I didn’t mean that! Who needs their support? The Securitrons are all the support you need. What I meant is you should get to know these tribes and decide which ones you like and which you don’t. You know, shape the future of Vegas. Choose your neighbors! If you like a tribe leave it alone. Or if a tribe is nasty, or going to be a problem, go ahead and exterminate it! It’s whatever you want to do.”

“Which tribes should we get to know exactly?”

“There’s a bunch! Some of them you’ve already met, like the Chairmen for instance.” He stated. “I think you should visit the other families on the Strip, like the Omertas and the White Glove Society so you know what makes them tick. And there are some important groups farther away from the Strip too, like the Boomers, the Great Khans and the Brotherhood of Steel.”

“Alright, we’ll be in touch, good bye Yes Man.” Anne stated, walking back towards the actual room.

“Hope to see you soon!” he called after them happily.

“Are you actually serious taking over all of New Vegas?” Boone asked in shock as he followed after Anne.

“One hundred and ten percent, I want Twilight to be able to get home and while the NCR aren’t so bad, but they would take too long with the paperwork to get it done. The Legion are just animals and I think they don’t even believe in technology so we are not going to them. The way I see it if you want something done you do it yourself.” She stated with a grin.

“But Anne, this is taking over a city we’re talking about.” Twilight said worriedly. “As much as I want to go back home to my friends is this even possible?”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s possible-“

“Yes it does actually.”

“Let me finish. What matters is that this is most likely the only chance you have to getting back home and now that it’s available I’m going for it, it may take a while but I’m not stopping till I drop.”

By now the trio had made their way back to the front door, the greeter giving them all their things back but Anne kept her helmet strapped onto her bag, it go stuffy inside after wearing it for so long. She also made sure that the new pistol she got was hidden until they got their stuff back and handed Boone That Gun for him to use as a sidearm.

Stepping outside a man quickly ran up to them, wearing a brown suit with a black tie, brown fedora on his head. “The eyes of the mighty Caesar are upon you.” He said in a familiar smooth and cold voice. “He admires your accomplishments and bestows upon you an exceptional gift of his Mark.” He continued, holding out his hand where a small copper coin, the image of a bull carved onto it with Latin writing around the edges. “Any crimes you may perpetrated against the Legion are hereby forgiven. Caesar will not extend this mercy a second time. My lord requires your presence at his camp at Fortification Hill. His Mark will guarantee your safe conduct through our lands.”

Boone knew it was a Legion soldier and the only reason he wasn’t splattering the road with his guts were the bulky Securitrons along the Strip around them, knowing if he pulled his weapons out he wouldn’t last long.

Twilight realized who this was, but last time they met he was wearing a wolf head on his own and there were the burning and crucified bodies of Nipton’s town folk all around them.

“You again?” She exclaimed. “How’d you find as us?!”

“I am the greatest of Caesar’s Frumentarii. It was not a challenge to find you nor is this my first visit to the Strip.” He said in his cold voice.

“Why does Caesar want to see us?” Anne asked.

“Go to him, you will understand.” Was his answer. “Seek Caesar’s by way of Cottonwood Cove south of Nelson. The Cursor Lucullis will be waiting for you there.” He said, walking past them into The Tops not to seem to suspicious.

No sooner had they taken another step forward and talk to each other someone else approached them, this time an NCR trooper with darker skin and a helmet on his head.

“Hey you there, I’ve got a message for you.” He said handing them a piece of paper. “It’s from Ambassador Crocker, very important, here you go.” He said before walking off.

Twilight let out a tired sigh, rubbing the side of her head with a hoof. “So what does it say?”

Anne cleared her throat, unfolding the paper before starting to read. “I wish to speak with you immediately in regard to important matters. I trust you have learned enough in your travels to know that the New California Republic is an honorable nation engaged in the beneficent mission in the Mojave in general and New Vegas in particular… yada yada yada.” Anne said skipping over a large chunk of it talking about how great the NCR were and how they should help them. “I stand ready to receive you at your earliest convenience in my offices at the New California Republic Embassy at the south side of the Vegas Strip. God bless the New California Republic. Dennis Crocker, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plen… Pleni… Plen nipp-“

Twilight grabbed the note with her magic and looked down by the titles at the bottom. “Plenipotentiary Department of State.” Twilight read shoving the note back into Anne’s hand.

“Plenipotentiary? Why would we help people who make up words!?”

THUD

“Gah! Alright, but how do you know it’s a real word.”

“I lived in a library.”

“Oh, that makes sense…”

Chapter 37

View Online

The trio approached Victor, or the Securitron with Victor’s face on it, as he stood in front of the large wall at the top of the stairs at the entrance of the Lucky 38, no actual door visible yet from where they were.

“Well howdy partner! Good to see you again, boss is waiting for ya upstairs so get a move on.” He said happily.

“Thank you Victor.”

“I see you brought some friends. Sorry partner but they’re can’t go up to meet the big man, they’ll have to wait in the- the little critter is allow to go up but not the solder boy.” He suddenly change what he was saying mid-sentence.

Twilight blinked slightly confused, that was the second time she had been told she couldn’t do something before they suddenly changed their minds in an instant and without missing a beat. “Ummm, thanks Victor…” The pony said unsurely.

“Welcome to the Lucky Thirty Eight.”

The wall behind him suddenly made a loud metal-on-metal screeching sound and the wall split, sliding out of place to expose to large golden doors, the once shiny paint now dulled down but still looked amazing compared to a lot of other places.

Walking inside they were welcomed by a massive casino, a second layer bar to the right above the cashier station. Many slot machines were around the room along with different type of gambling tables on the far end of the large room. But what made the place seem wrong was the lack of people, only three Securitrons stood around an elevator in the middle of the room with one of them being Victor.

“Must have done that trick of his.” Anne muttered as they walked in. “Boone, just chill out here and we’ll be back soon.”

“Alright.” He said, heading up to the bar.

The now pair approached Victor again within a minute of approaching him before.

“Where to partner?” He asked.

“Umm, Mister House? What floor is he on?” Anne said with a shrug.

“Penthouse it is.” Victor said, the elevator door sudden opening. “Hop on in.”

Walking into the elevator the doors closed and the friends could feel the movement as the elevator suddenly started to go up.

“Alright, I have an idea.” Anne said.

“What is it?”

“Well, if the Chip is meant to upgrade the defenses, we should play along until they’re better and once they’re at full we take out Mister House and install Yes Man, I’ll just need to tweak him a little so he only listens to one of us.”

“That’s a good idea, but what happens if upgrading the defenses make it impossible to take over?” Twilight asked.

“Then we’re fucked, but if we’re going to go through all the effort of taking over a wasteland than I want to know it’ll be able to defend itself if ever attacked. Once you’re back home it’ll just be Boone and I looking after the place and if let’s say the NCR attack it’ll be just me and I can’t stop an entire army.”

Twilight sighed tiredly. “We’re just going to have to take the gamble here.”

“We’re in Vegas, all we do is gamble.” Anne joked with a grin, the elevator stopping and a moment later the doors opened, Victor at the door.

“Penthouse floor.” He said before rolling over to the side.

They were on a small balcony, a bunch of Securitrons around the place guarding. The room was a large circular one, all around the elevator and in two layers.

Walking around they eventually found what they guessed was Mister House.

It wasn’t a man as so much as the picture of a man’s face on a giant screen, other smaller screens around it, each looking through a camera around the Strip but mainly the Lucky 38. Consoles with flashy lights and buttons were all around it, the man on the screen having a blank expression and a raised eyebrow, a mustache on the face.

Approaching the large computer uncertainty the two stood before it.

“Hello?”

“You’ve been a busy courier haven’t you?” The speakers around the screen said. “You take your obligation to deliver a package very seriously. An ethic for which I am grateful. And you, you’re quite a far away from home aren’t you? I still have yet to wrap my head around what you even are exactly but I’ve heard of some of the things you do… you have me interested. I will admit, when you ignored my invitation I predicted… negative outcomes. But… you have a way of exceeding expectations don’t you?” He said. “Well, let’s have the Chip then.” He said, a large slot opening on the console.

Anne stepped forward, taking the Chip from her pocket and slipping it into the slot, hearing it slide off somewhere.

“Such a small thing isn’t it?” He said in wonder, the picture on the large screen unchanging. “And yet so… capacious. So very dear. Decades of hiring salvagers out west to search for this little relic in the ruins in a place called Sunnyvale, back then anyway. That’s where the Chip was printed, on October twenty-second, twenty seventy-seven. It was to have been hand-delivered to me here at the Lucky Thirty Eight, the next day. But the bombs fell first. Suffice it to say the delivery was never made.”

“What does the Chip do exactly?” Twilight asked.

“Some things are more easily shown than told. Take the elevator all the way down to the bottom level and you’ll see what I mean. Don’t worry, you’ll like what you see, we have much to accomplish you and I…”

___________________

“Step closer to the demonstration area, if you would...” Mister House’s voice said through the loudspeakers in the basement, the room being made from moss covered concrete and rusted iron beams. Pipes were all over the room, ranging from the size of a wire cable to one that a human could easily climb through. There was a large open pit area in the middle with a blue force field of sorts to protect all viewers watching. In the pit were two Securitrons, each stood across the pit to a large brick wall with a small paper target on it.

“I expect you're well familiar with my Securitrons by now. The titanium alloy housing that protects its electronic core deflects small arms and shrapnel easily enough...” Mister House said, the two robots in the pit turning to each other before their three large fingers on their hands folded back and a tube popped out in the middle, machinegun fire exploding from the end as the low caliber bullets bounced off the other, only leaving scratching in the paint and sometimes denting the metal.

“Its X-Twenty Five gatling laser, produced to spec by Glastinghouse Inc., is deadly against soft targets at medium range...” He explained, both turning to the target where their other hand was brought up before those fingers were folded back and sudden barrage of bright red lasers shot out, burning the wall and almost fully getting rid of the target.

“And for close-range suppression or crowd control, the Securitron is armed with a nine millimetre submachine gun. All of this, you probably already knew...” Mister house continued, the robots switching back to the machine gun in their hands before firing at the wall this time, chips of rock flying off.

“What you did not know is that these are the Securitrons' secondary weapons. All this time, my Securitrons have had to get by running the Mark One operating system, which lacked software drivers for their primary weapons! Today, with the delivery of the Platinum Chip, all that changes. Behold, for the first time, Securitrons running the Mark Two OS!” He cheered, the screens on the two Securitrons turning bright red before changing to one of a grizzled looking solder instead of the police man of before.

“The M Two Thirty Five Missile Launcher gives the Securitron the ability to engage ground and air targets at significantly longer ranges...” The two robot’s arms seemed to suck up into their bodies, flaps on their shoulders opening up to expose a dozen small missile heads poking out from their oversized shoulders. They each fired six, the ground seeming as if it were shaking with the shockwaves and Twilight couldn’t help but cover her ears for how loud it was for such an enclosed place. Explosions went off constantly, chunks off the wall flinging everywhere including the force field which stopped them from hitting the pair.

“And a rapid-fire G Twenty Eight grenade launching system ensures the Securitron is deadly in close-range engagements.” The hand of the robot folded back again but a larger tube stuck out before with a loud thudding sound large projectiles launched from the hand before exploding as they impacted against the wall all with the speed of an automatic firearm.

“The software upgrade also includes drivers for the Securitrons' highly sophisticated onboard auto-repair systems. Altogether, the Mark Two software upgrade confers a Two hundred and Thirty Five percent increase in combat effectiveness per unit. The city of New Vegas finally has soldiers worthy of protecting it. Return to the penthouse now. We have much to discuss...”

“Woah…” Anne said, slowly stepping away from the viewing platform. “That was… Intense, and if every one of these guys have all this then one of them is worth five men.” She stated.

“We should head back upstairs to Mister House, I feel we shouldn’t make him angry.” Twilight said walking back to the elevators.

“Well he will be pissed off when we try to kill him.” Anne whispered as they walked in. “When we get up there you distract him by asking questions while I ‘casually’ walk around looking for a way to take him out.”

_________________________

“Trips to the basement are rarely so educational don’t you think?” The screen said. “I’ve since broadcast the upgrade to every Securitron in range of my transmitters, and I must say, it’s causing quite a stir down on the Strip.” He stated.

Anne looked at Twilight and Twilight looked at Anne, both knowing what was going to happen now. The pony noted that the Securitrons in the room still had the police faces and not the solder faces, hoping that also meant they didn’t have those explosive weapons she saw.

Looking back at the large screen the pony started to stall him while her friend looked around, walking over to a large book shelf and seeming to look through the titles. “Do you think you Securitrons can defeat Caesar’s Legion AND the NCR?” The pony asked.

“Why would I want to go to war against the NCR? They’re my best customers.” He stated. “If their leaders weren’t scheming to steal Vegas out from under me I would have no troubles with the NCR at all. To secure the future of New Vegas I must have your assistance. The work ahead is dangerous but you two weather danger well.” He said Anne, catching sight of a small computer bolted to a wall away from all the others and it caught her attention, slowly walking over to it.

“What are your plans for New Vegas?” Twilight asked, not knowing when to stop.

“I’ve resurrected Vegas, spirit intact. What I need now- what are you doing?” He suddenly said, all the Securitrons spinning around to face Anne who was looking at the computer.

“What? Me? I’m not doing anything sir.” Anne said with an overdone smile, acting like a foal would with their hand found in the cookie jar.

“Good, because if you tapped that keyboard one more time every Securitron in this room would unload itself at you.” He stated. “I know all that is typed on the computers on my network.”

“What does this computer do? I was seeing if I could get room service.” Anne said innocently, Twilight resisting the urge to facehoof at her friends stupidity, a baby would know she’s up to something.

“I can tell you it does not get room service, there isn’t any.” He stated.

Anne knew that this computer was something important and she had no clue how to do it without getting filled with more holes than Swiss Cheese. Twilight seemed to have the same train of thought and with a flash of her horn she teleported herself next to her friend before her horn glowed more intensely and a pink bubble appeared around them.

Anne blinked in surprise and quickly turned back to the wall computer and started to furiously type on the fold down keyboard.

Bullets started to fire at them, Twilight gasping at how much just a single bullet hit her shield, each impact feeling like she were heat across the head and with the huge number she almost lost consciousness and the only reason she didn’t want the need to keep it up to stay alive.

A loud siren suddenly went off, the door next to the computer sliding open to expose another small with a few consoles and severs, a couple of securitrons and an elevator, another computer next to it.

Running at it with all their might Twilight and Anne ran over to it, and letting out a yelp of pain as a bullet hit her in the back of her leg and another hit her shoulder. Twilight wasn’t spared from pain either, a laser hitting her rump directly, burning the clothing she wore and leaving a bad red mark on her normally purple coat.

Bringing her shield back up Twilight gritted her teeth together, feeling as if her horn was about to split from how much it hurt. Anne quickly went to the computer, rapidly typing on it. Even after only a few bullets Twilight felt she could barely hold on anymore, her legs shaking violently and a small stream of blood coming from both nostrils.

The doors for the elevator slammed open and Anne quickly grabbed the collar of Twilight’s clothing before dragging both of them into it, hitting the only other button on the wall and the doors closed.

Both girls slumped down, leaning against the wall of the elevator as they sat

“F-fuck…” Anne grunted, a hand clutching the bleeding wound on her leg while Twilight was rubbing the head around her horn.

“My horn hurts so much.” Twilight groaned in massive amounts of pain, her head hurting more than the second degree burn on her flank.

Anne slowly brought her bag off her back with a hiss, her shoulder wound aching from the action before opening one of her pouches and pulling out two needles, a Med-X and a Stimpak. Pulling the protector off the smaller painkiller she jabbed the needle into Twilight’s side, pressing the plunger and injecting her friend with the numbing chemical.

Twilight felt her pain slowly fade away until it was just a dull ache, panting softly with sweat covering her fur.

With the Stimpak, Anne jabbed it close to the bad looking burn on her friend before pressing the other plunger, the burn rapidly healing up, the burn looking like it was never there besides the lack of fur in that area.

Anne pulled Benny’s pistol from the holster, looking at it before holding it out to Twilight. “I want you to have this Princess, look after it.” She said. “It’ll be better than your current nine mil.”

Twilight looked at the offered pistol. “C-can I keep my current one? It’s the first firearm I ever had and it feels… personal to me.” She said softly.

“Yeah, you can keep it, but it’s much better to stay alive than to feel content, keep it in a pocket and use this.” Anne said.

Twilight used her magic to grab the silver gun, pulling out her black 9mm and switching it with Benny’s one, pulling out the magazine in the gun and keeping it in her ammunition pocket.

“What happens if this is just his personal library or something along those lines?” Twilight asked softly.

“Then we’re screwed aren’t we?” Anne said, skipping with the Med-X and instead jabbed two Stimpaks into her body around the two bullet holes, healing up with only tender scars left. “He’s probably just an AI or something, that’s artificial intelligence if you wanted to know, we just need to find the sever he’s on and beat the shit out of it.”

“What if he’s a ghoul? Can’t they survive for a long time?” Twilight asked.

“Even if he was a ghoul he would have gone crazy by now, being all alone for the past two hundred years does that to a lot of ghouls, that’s why there are the feral ones.”

“Let’s just get this over with, I just want to lie down and stay down for a while.” Twilight stated. This place is the nicest she saw so far besides The Tops. but even then the paint was still peeling off. Looking as the number go further and further down, seeing it nearing the basement she stood back up. “Alright, we’re here.”

Anne stood back up as well with a groan, even though it healed, it still hurt a lot to move around.

The doors opened and the sound of the siren filled their ears again. They were on a walkway, stood over what looked like a bottomless pit as it just faded to black a few floors down. On the very far end of the walkway was a large grouping of machines, in the middle of it all being a sleek silver capsule with some of it being glass, nothing visible inside due to the white smoke filling it up. A single computer sat on a console, the screen glowing faintly.

Approaching the computer Anne flicks down the keyboard down, reading what appeared on the screen. “LS chamber? Life support?” Anne read in confusion. “Mister House isn’t an AI or ghoul, he just kept himself alive for all this time in a life support chamber.” Anne said, typing some things onto the keyboard before stepping back.

A hiss came from the capsule, steam being vented from the sealed edge before another bout of steam hissed out, the lid slowly opening and letting out the large amount of fog inside. A bed inside the capsule lifted itself up, turning the face the two and what was on it shocked the two.

On the bed was what must have been Mister House, barely any meat on his bones with wires and tube sticking into his whole body, a large metal helmet on his head with blinking lights. A thin white beard was on his chin, barely there.

Using a voice not used in two hundred years what was left of Mister House spoke. “Why have you… done this?.. centuries of preparation… so much good, undone…” He croaked out, and Twilight thought if a corpse could talk that’s what it would sound like.

“It’s just business, it’s nothing personal.” Anne said softly, bringing out her 10mm pistol and pulling the slide back.

“If personal gain… what you sought… Should’ve done… as asked…” he croaked out, twitching slightly.

Anne felt light she was doing something really bad but knew it was too late to go back now, bringing the gun up to point at Mister House. “Goodbye Mister House.” Anne stated.

“May there be… a hell… for you… a Tartarus… bleak, unending…” He said.

Anne didn’t say anything more, pointing her gun at his chest before firing three bullets in rapid succession into his chest, jolting his body each time before he went limp in his restraints.

The woman lowered her gun, putting it back into her holster. “I guess Vegas is ours now…” Anne said softly, turning to look at the in tears Twilight.

“Yeah… but I feel so hollow inside…” Twilight said sadly, walking back to the elevator with her head hung low.

“That feeling, that shows you that you still have a soul…”

Chapter 38

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Anne, Boone and Twilight sat in the presidential suite in the Lucky 38, their building now, their city, and yet they didn’t feel any different.

Anne sat on a couch, looking through her Pipboy while Twilight and Boone sat either side of a table, playing a game of chess together. “So we just need to wait while Yes Man installs himself onto the Lucky Thirty Eight and then we’ll be set?” The pony clarified.

“Yeah, that sounds about right.” Anne said, reading through the list of radio signals she was picking up and turned on one of the ones that stood out a fair amount by the name of ‘Happy Trails Expedition Broadcast’

“Howdy.” A jolly sounding man said. “My name is Jed Masterson, and I'm a caravan boss for the Happy Trails Caravan Company. If you're hearing this, I have a job offer for you. Happy Trails is organizing an expedition north into Utah, off the Long Fifteen, and we need people. We're looking for caravan guards, prospectors, couriers. If you're used to humping it across the Wastes straight toward trouble, we want you. If you've got a Pip-Boy, we definitely want you. On the other hand, if you're a greenhorn or a city-slicker spinning tales about your skills, you can kindly go hang. If we like your gumption, we'll pay you square and treat you fair. Find me, Jed Masterson, at the Northern Passage if you're interested. Luck to you.”

The message started to repeat after that.

“Well then, this sounds like a good way to make some caps, being a guard pays kinda well and we need to make some caps.” Anne stated, turning off her Pipboy again.

“Do you think we should do it?” Twilight asked, moving her queen along the board and putting Boone’s king into a checkmate who just grumbled and sat back.

“I think I might stay here, Happy Trails is small, they won’t be able to hire many more guards and they’ll probably use Twilight like a cheap pack Brahmin and you’ll get in because you have a Pipboy with the maps.” He said.

“Alright then, I guess that means you and I are heading out Princess.” Anne said, going to the next room over where she put her things, grabbing her bag along with her weapons and attaching them to her body again.

Twilight followed after her friend, grabbing her things and putting her clothing back on and strapping her two pistols and rifle to her body. “Do you know where the northern passage is?” Twilight asked.

“Yeah, it’s on my map.” Anne said tapping her arm.

“Oh, alright then, should we go now?”

“I’ll just grab some food and water then we’ll be set.”

The two friends walked into the cave entrance, pushing the makeshift wooden door open as they did. Inside the passage were other people, a few wearing leather armor with different types of rifles, one wearing a blue jumpsuit with the number 22 printed on his back in yellow and a smaller one on the tag of his neck, a Pipboy on his arm. And the last one was wearing work clothes, overalls with a dusty shirt, satchel bag across his shoulder, dark skinned with a small beard on his face.

Approaching the dark skinned man Anne held out a hand in greeting. “Hello, you must be Jed, I’m Anne and my friend here is Twilight.”

“Hello.”

“Howdy friends, heard my little broadcast did you? Yeah, you look like the types.” He said with a smile, shaking Anne’s offered hand. “But there’s only one position left, I’m afraid only one of you can come.” He said.

“Please? Twilight here can carry a lot of stuff and she’s small so she would be able to pass through narrow places.” Anne protested.

He thought about it for a moment, they could bring the weird mutant and carry a bit more stuff with them but he didn’t know if he had the caps to do that. But then he thought, once they trade the cargo away he will have enough caps to pay them so he gave a single nod. “Alright, she can come.”

“Alright, let’s get going.” Anne said with a large smile.

“Just like that huh? You got guts, I’ll give you that.” He said with a small chuckle. “You sure you want to jump in blind? Ain’t got no questions where we’re going or why?”

Anne shrugged. “This is just to make a little extra on the side, and I’m a courier, I’ve been all over the place.” The woman stated.

“I bet you are, but you gals ain’t going anywhere loaded down like a pack Brahmin.” He stated.

Anne grumbled. “Fine, where I put my things?” She asked.

“Just in this crate over here, we’re hiding it and you can get all your things when we come back.” He said pointing to a large wooden crate.

Anne and Twilight went over to the box, Anne putting her grenade rifle and That Gun into the crate along with ammunition for the guns, the grenades she had and the larger of her medical supplies. Twilight meanwhile put her laser rifle into the box along with the batteries for it.

“This enough?”

“Yeah, I think that will do it.” Jed says with a nod. “But you know we’re not coming back this way for a good long while now right? And you know about the weight limit. I don’t want no whining about ‘oh Mister Masterson, I left my one-of-a-kind plasma cannon back at base, can we go back for it?’ You sure you’re ready now?”

“Yeah. We’re ready.”

“Well, alright then. Let’s get moving. We’ve got a long road ahead of us…”

The group of people sat around a campfire, the sky darkened with clouds gently filling the sky. Everyone was talking, enjoying their food. They all ached from the days from walking, their feet from the work and their backs from having to carry large duffel bags filled with things.

“So Stella, what did you do before you became a guard?” Anne asked with a large grin, a bottle of beer in her hand, taking a sip of it.

“I was a Sheriff once, I got sick of killing those I was meant to protect so I just left.” She said with a shrug, taking a sip of her own beer.

“Why were you killing them?” Twilight asked, sticking with just a bottle of Nuka Cola.

“Well, it was at a Hydroelectric dam, meaning that everyone wants it. It would either be an attacker or a drunk arguing with a shotgun, I just had enough of it before I left.” the woman stated. “What about you Anne? What were you?”

“Well, I got amnesia not that long ago, what I can remember I was a courier for the Mojave Express, I kinda stopped that job though at the moment.” Anne said with a shrug.

“What about you Twilight?

“I was librarian, though I did become a princess not too long ago.” Twilight said sheepishly.

“That why you keep calling her princess isn’t it? I thought you were just doing it to make fun of her.” Stella said.

“Oh I do it because it annoys her.” Anne said with a chuckle. “I think she just doesn’t say anything more about it in case I decide to do anythi-”

Jed cleared his throat loudly to catch the attention of all the others around the campfire. “The paths we're following are slow going, so you might as well keep your ears open and listen to what old Jed has to say.” He said, Twilight knowing he was going to be telling an old campfire story.

“A few decades back, folks in the NCR started to hear about a community in northern Utah called New Canaan. Didn't know much about them, except that they were religious folks. Sent out missionaries to talk to the tribes. We've seen our share of cults, but the New Canaanites, they were honest traders. Good fighters, too. Raiders wouldn't tangle with 'em. But then the Legion appeared in Arizona. I reckon you know all about them. Turns out Caesar's first war chief, the Malpais Legate, was a New Canaanite. Joshua Graham. Legend goes that Graham was the meanest, toughest son of a bitch in the whole damned Legion. The New Canaanites wouldn't talk about him. They were ashamed. Guess I can't blame 'em. Well at Hoover Dam, the Malpais Legate finally met his match. Hanlon and Oliver kicked his New Canaanite butt right back over the river. Caesar had to make an example for the others, to show them that even at the highest level, failure wouldn't be tolerated. He had Graham covered in pitch, lit on fire, and thrown into the Grand Canyon. People say he didn't even scream on the way down. Not long after, some of the slaves and tribals started to talk. Said Graham wasn't dead. Shouldn't have been any surprise. All this talk bothered Caesar, so he forbade anyone from speaking his name. Wanted to erase Joshua Graham from history. He got his wish. Joshua Graham disappeared. And in his place came legends of the Burned Man walking the wastes. Probably just a tribal ghost story. But New Canaan's been silent for a long time. Maybe it's a coincidence. Maybe the Malpais Legate is dead. Or maybe Joshua Graham did crawl out of that canyon and finally found his way back home.”

“All right, people. Been a long couple weeks, but here we are. Zion. I know your feet hurt, I know you're tired. But I need everyone's mind on the trail ahead.” Jed stated as they walked out of a passage between two cliff walls, a thin one.

One of the other guards by the name of Stella spoke up. “Ain't the trail ahead worries me, Jed. Those descents we made through that slot canyon back up there? Ain't no way we're getting back out the way we came. And then what?” She said.

“Goddammit Stella, heard you the first time, and the fifteenth too!” Jed exclaimed as the group continued to walk. “The New Canaanites will know a way. And if they don't we got the maps on our friend's Pip-Boy over there.” He stated. “Now enough lollygagging! Get moving and keep an eye out for tribals!”

“Sorry to bother you with reality, ol' Jed. Who cares if we can't get back out the way we come? That's not a problem.” Stella muttered to herself angrily.

Not much longer of walking and Jed holds up a hand. “Shhhhh! Hold on, now.” He said quietly, crouching down slightly. “Could swear I heard something up ahead.”

One of the other guard started to slowly walk forward, looking around but no one was looking at the large rock ledges around them expect Twilight.

Her eyes widened as she saw movement up high, seeing a man wearing almost nothing, and what he did have just looked like different parts of normal clothing. His hair was made up into dreadlocks and paint of different colors covered his body, and his arm was brought back with what looked like an axe in it. Before she could say anything he threw his arm forward and let go of the weapon.

The axe spun in the air before with a sickening splat it hit the guard right on his unprotected head, the sharp part stabbing right through his skull. The body fell to the ground, the hunting rifle firing off in his arms from the twitches of the corpse.

Bullets started hailing down upon them, a guard near the one who just got hit with the axe collapsing as her body was quickly filled with small holes and splattered the ground in blood.

“Goddamn! Ambush! Cover people, watch yourselves!” Jed yelled, everyone quickly trying to get behind a rock or tree in hope it would protect them.

Twilight managed to scramble behind a large rock, pulling Benny’s pistol out and getting it ready.

The one in the blue jumpsuit ran behind a tree, arms covering his head. “I don’t deserve this! My Pipboy don’t even work! Why the fuck you guys hire me!?” He started to cry out.

A woman, with a laser rifle in her arms peeking over a rock near the jumpsuited man growled, firing beams of red light at anywhere she thought she saw movement up hire. “Shut up Ricky! You might as well be waving at them!” She yelled.

Before the man could say anything more an explosion rocked out near him, his arm getting ripped out of its socket and landed yards away.

Twilight looked over at Anne to see she was firing her pistol from behind cover at an up high stone platform where she saw another one of the tribals. The painted man let out a loud yell of pain before he fell forward, falling several feet before landing with a crunch on the ground below.

The pony could see flashes of light come from a push up ahead so she started to shoot at that.

“Enough of this! We’re sitting ducks here!” The woman with the laser rifle yelled before jumping out from cover and running forward, lasers shooting everywhere. “Here I come! I used to be a Sheriff once goddamn-”

She was cut off as her head was reduced to a stump, a bullet quickly ending her life in an instant.

“Stella!” Jed yelled, running over to her body. “Oh no…” He said in shock before another explosion went off, his body flying to the side before his back slammed against a tree with a loud crack.

“Fuck! Twilight, don’t move!” Anne yelled, shooting at anything she saw moving before finally all was quiet.

“A-alright princess… I think we’re clear.” Anne said slightly pained.

When Twilight walked to her friend she could see why she was in pain. Dents were all over her metal armor, a large one on her helmet. Holes were in the thinner parts, Twilight could count close to half a dozen all over her body.

“Anne, you’re hurt!”

“No fucking shit!” Anne hissed, shambling forward. “We need to get out of here.” Anne said. “But we need the duffle bags, there things that we’ll need. Quickly, just grab them and let’s keep going, and grab Stella’s laser rifle, she won’t be needing it anymore.”

“But she was our friend.” Twilight protested.

“Then she would want us to take it. If I were to die I would expect to be looted anyway, so why give the bad guys extra firepower when your friends can have it instead?” Anne said, limping from the two bullets in her left leg as she headed to Jed’s body.

Twilight uncertainly made her way to Stella, trying to avoid looking at her lack of a head and using her magic to pull the weapon from her dead hands along with her duffle bags.

“Anne, let me carry them.” Twilight insisted when she saw her injured friend carrying three bags.

“N-no I got this…”

Twilight used her magic, prying two of the bags from the woman’s grasp and putting them on her back. “No, I do.” The pony said walking.

Anne was in too much pain to say anything, just following after her friend.

Barely after Twilight turned a corner around a large rock she saw another tribal with his arm back there, the axe flying right at her.

She froze in terror, her life flashing before her eyes before at the last moment she was shoved out of the way, the axe which turned out to be made from a lead pipe with two railroad spikes tied on with electronic wire sunk into Anne’s chest, the spikes digging in as far as they could go.

Anne let out a choked sound before collapsing to the ground.

Twilight felt something she hadn’t felt in so long.

Pure rage.

Her horn glowed an intense purple and before the tribal could do anything a beam of searing hot magic fired from her horn, burning a hole as big as her hoof all the way through him.

His eyes went glassy before he fell backwards.

Twilight panted, sweat on her brow as her teeth were clenched together. Blinking a few times she turned to look at her friend, hearing her raspy breathing. “Anne!” Twilight yelled, running over to her companion looking at the growing puddle of blood in horror.

“I-I’m fine Princess… r-really.” Anne croaked out, struggling to stay awake.

“N-no you’re not.” Twilight said with tears in her eyes. “I-I need to take you to help.” Twilight said trying to pick up her friend.

“Aghh!” Anne yelled, clutching her chest before suddenly going silent.

“A-Anne?” Twilight asked, looking scared over her shoulder at the woman laying limply on her.

Anne didn’t say anything, weak breathing the only thing heard.

Twilight started to panic, she needed to find help as quickly as she could.

She started to walk over a rickety wooden rope bridge, being careful not to drop anything as she struggled under the weight.

A loud bang sounded out and one of the plants shattered, falling down till it landed with a splash at the river many stories below her. Looking around she saw another tribal aiming his rifle at her and she thought that this was the end, air hitching in her throat.

Suddenly another person appeared behind him, a club striking upon his head before his body went limp and fell forward.

The new person wore a cap on his head with bird feathers on it, tattoos instead of the white paint the others used.

He ran towards Twilight. “Hoi, the white legs don’t leave survivors often let me tell you.” He said in a thick accent. “Now why don’t you let me take a look at your owner and I can look after her?” He asked, slowly approaching Twilight with his empty hands held up. “Easy girl, easy.”

“I can talk you know.” Twilight said flatly.

The new tribal blinked in confusion. “Oh, well I still want to help your owner.” He said before getting cut off by Twilight again.

“She’s not my owner, she’s my best friend.”

“None of that matters now, the White Legs sometimes poison their weapons, if that axe was then your friend needs the antidote quickly.” He said, making Twilight feel as if there was a lead weight in her gut. “I’ll take you to our camp on the Eastern Virgin, we’ll take care of your friend while you talk with Joshua.”

“Joshua?”

“Joshua Graham.”

Chapter 39

View Online

Twilight kept a close eye on the person who said his name was Follows-Chalk in case he tried to do anything to her friend as he carried her. They walked along the high canyon walls, the rocks and dirt a rich orange color instead of the grey and brown Twilight was used to in the Mojave. Chalk talked about the area as they walked, about different things in the area and about the White Legs who attacked them.

If it wasn’t for the fact one of her only friends in this world was close to death she may have found the large and clear view breathtaking. The pony made sure to move quickly with the friendly tribal, hoping that Anne would last long enough to get to his tribe. Small blue signs were rattling on their wooden posts as the wind blew gently, showing a picture of the outline of a person hiking with a backpack and a stick. Sometimes as they walked they would pass large paintings of stick figure humans painted on the large rock walls along Zion Valley.

“We do not go into buildings of the old world, they are considered taboo.” He explained as they passed a ranger station along their way, white hand prints painted all over the building, probably in warning to any that would think to enter them.

“How much longer until we get there?” Twilight asked.

“Not much longer, we will have our healer look after your fr-“

ROAR

The two stop in place. Up on a large rock far ahead of them was what looked like a bear to Twilight, but its fur was falling off in places, its skin a sickly blackish green with many parts of the skin worn away to expose the red flesh. It was also much larger than any bear she has seen, at least double the size.

“Stay down, that was the roar of a Yao Guai.” Chalk warned, slowly lowering down his body to a crouch with the wounded Anne still over his shoulder.

The monster of a bear stood up on the high rock, its head scanning around before it jumped off and started to run away.

Chalk let out a sigh of relief. “That was some kind of lucky. Guess that one was all full of gecko eh? Don’t get used to it though. Yao Guai are plenty mean as a rule.” He said standing back up and walking along.

Soon they arrive at an old road, the surface covered with the red dust of the valley and cracked right through in many of the places.

“Follow the old road south, we’re almost there.”

Twilight couldn’t help but notice after a while there were spears stabbed into the ground along the sides of the road with the decapitated heads of White Leg men, some looking like they’ve been there a while from the greenish skin from the decay.

“You see the dead sentries? Shamans say our enemies' souls are trapped in them, but Joshua says it shows we're serious about fighting White Legs.” Chalk said at the sight of Twilight grimacing at the severed heads.

Later on Chalk takes them off the road and down a path, medium sized river about thigh height for a human but almost neck height for Twilight.

“I hope you don’t mind getting wet, we’re almost there.” The man said as he started to wade through the water, the liquid clear and clean, the bottom fully visible with fish seen under the surface.

Twilight didn’t say anything, just grimacing as she walked into the water and followed Chalk, going as fast as she could in the water but with her clothing and the bags weighing her down it wasn’t that quick.

“Be careful for traps, we use them to keep the white legs out.” Chalk said, pointing to something rusty under the water.

Sparing a quick glance the princess saw that it was a circle of metal with a large button in the middle, the outside ring having large rusty spikes on them. It looked like the mouth of a beast kept on the ground and Twilight could only guess how they worked.

After what seemed like forever walking through the chilling water with the knowledge her friend was dying right there the river led to a lake, people walking around the edge and through the water, some having spears but all dressed in the same type of tribal clothing as Chalk.

“Here we are. Joshua's just ahead there, in the Angel Cave.” Chalk said. “Talk to him, we’ll try to heal your friend.”

Twilight looked uncertainly as they walked to the edge of the lake. She could see people approach them and start to talk amongst each other in a language she didn’t really understand. People hurried over to Chalk and helped take Anne’s bleeding body off him, rushing it away.

“I think I might stay with Anne.” Twilight said.

“Joshua will want to speak with you, talk with him, there’s nothing you can do to help the healers.” Chalk stated, pointing to the looming mouth of the ‘Angel Cave’

Twilight gulped slightly, she had never felt so alone without Anne, even though Chalk was following her but she didn’t feel close to the young man.

Walking into the cave Twilight was greeted with the light from a number of lit touches all around the large cavern they were in, stalactites hanging from the ceiling. There were a few tents inside, made from tanned hide from animals which made Twilight feel slightly sick about.

“Hoi! Owslandr zookuh Joshua Graham?” A woman said stepping forward, her head shaved bald.

Twilight didn’t know what the woman said but from the tone of her voice it sounded like a question and with Joshua’s name in the sentence she guessed that she was asking something about the man.

“Am I… looking for Joshua?” Twilight clarified. “Yes, I am, can you tell me where he is?”

“You know our tongue… smart owslandr.” The woman said in a thick accent. “Joshua in high place of cave. You show respect utman! Joshua is greatest warrior. You show him no respect, he shows you thunder and fire.”

Twilight gulped. “I-I’ll make sure to be on my best behavior then.” The pony said with a forced smile.

“You wise for owslandr.” The woman stated, pointing to her left where a tunnel went deeper into the cave. “Joshua in there.”

Twilight nodded, slowly starting to walk through the cave for a few minutes until she reached another wide open area, only a table with a man sat behind it there. He was wearing a black vest over his chest but the rest of his body was covered in white bandages, all of it, mouth, face, arms, hands, the only thing that wasn’t covered were his eyes, looking sunken and tired.

On the table were two piles of guns Twilight hadn’t seen before but looked a lot like her 9mm pistol, one just a haphazard pile while the other neatly stacked.

“We should have given you a better welcome on your first visit to Zion, but from what I hear the White Legs beat us to it.” the man said, using his covered hands to grab one of the pistols not stacked neatly before checking it over, bring back the slide, taking out the empty magazine, to make sure it was in good condition. “White Legs seem to be the only visitors we have these days and I wouldn’t have expected anyone from the Mojave to looking for us.” He said in a smooth tone of voice, one that sounded calm but also cold and calculating. “And you’re a mutant, one that I’ve never seen the likes of before and your friend the wounded courier, not the one I was expecting but he wouldn’t have gone with a caravan.” He said. “I don’t know if you were close to the other members of your group, but you have my sympathy. I pray for the safety of all good people who come to Zion, even Gentiles, but we can’t expect God to do all the work.”

Twilight looked slightly confused, how did this man know what has happened to her and Anne already when she hadn’t seen him yet? “How do you know what happened to the caravan?”

“The Dead Horses are capable scouts, nothing passes into or out of Zion without my hearing of it.” he stated while still checking over the guns on the table.

Twilight hung her head sadly. “The Happy Trails caravan came here to trade with the New Canaanites.” She said sadly, hoping that they would be able to heal Anne up.

“Happy Trails. I remember, they were good friends. I have bad news for your employers. New Canaan was destroyed, its citizens scattered. All because of the White Legs, and Caesar of course. The White Legs want to join the Legion, Caesar’s rite of passage is the destruction of the New Canaanites, almost assuredly because of me.” He said sadly. “The good news is that we can help you find your way back. Daniel, one of the other New Canaanites, has made many maps of the region. The bad news is that we can’t help you right now, not with everything that’s going on.”

Twilight knew that the Dead Horse’s were doing everything they could to help Anne heal and felt she should do whatever she could as a repayment for that kindness.

“We not going to leave without offering to help. What can I do?” twilight asked firmly.

“You’re a good neighbor to us. We all go through periods of darkness. In such times we can turn to the Lord, but it’s good to have friends.” He stated. “Daniel and I need pre-war tools to help us navigate beyond Zion. Should we need to evacuate, these instruments will be vital to us. Normally we would have some of the Dead Horses or Sorrows look for them but many Pre-War buildings in the valley are taboo, they won’t go inside.”

“I’ll see what I can do.” Twilight said with a nod, wondering who this ‘Lord’ the man was talking about.

“Thank you, Follows-Chalk can help you find your way around the valley. He’s inexperienced, but he knows enough of our language to ignore the taboos of Pre-War buildings.”

After dropping off the duffle bags at a tent she was given to use she strapped Stella’s rifle onto her back along with any drugs she knew how to use and headed off with Chalk following along with her as a guide.

Not too long into their walking Twilight could see a small wooden hut that sat on top of a cliff, her attention getting drawn to it.

Walking up she looked at it curiously, a large flat boulder had dozens of white paint marks with red hand prints on them as a sign of warning and a few were actually on the building as well. Twilight froze for a moment as the sound of loud skittering filled her ears. Looking to her left she froze at what she saw, the filly inside her wanting to scream and run away as quickly as she could.

Scuttling its way towards them was the biggest scorpion that she had ever seen easily bigger than double her size with its stinger the size of a small knife and pincers looking like they could cut her in half.

Pulling out Lucky she fired six shots in rapid succession right into the thing’s chitin covered body and she was horrified when she realized the shell was so thick only one of the bullets that hit the joint of one of its many legs actually went through, cutting the limp off all together.

Chalk pulled out a pistol he had, the same type Joshua was cleaning and started to unload on the mutant beast.

Twilight could swear it was hissing at her and that scared her even more. “Ahhh! I hate bugs!” Twilight yelled, not being able to hold back anymore and flying up in fear, sweat covering her body as she landed on the roof of the building they were headed to close to the beast where it couldn’t reach her.

Looking around quickly her eyes fell onto the boulder with the handprints all over it.

With her horn glowing intensely she focused on the rock, it letting out loud cracking sounds before the part under the ground was pulled up, the several ton rock hovering in the air before getting flung at the scorpion, the rock bouncing off the ground once and causing the fighting Chalk to stumble back before the rock finished its short flight and slammed into the arachnid, crushing it between the thrown boulder and another large rock to the side.

Panting for air Twilight could feel her head hurting badly again, throbbing with a headache. She could feel a small trickle of blood come from her nose from using her magic too much in one go.

“Woah… Remind me to never get on your bad side.” Chalk said with an uncomfortable chuckle, watching as the green blood of the scorpion seem out from between the two rocks.

Chapter 40

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“It’s good idea to wear protection against sun.” Chalk said while Twilight was looking around the building for anything of use while chalk was holding an old park ranger’s hat in his hands, green hard fabric with a wide brim and a small golden badge on the front reading ‘Zion National Park’

“I can’t my horn wouldn’t let me put it on my head along with my ears.” Twilight said as she looked through a small metal footlocker, the thin iron it was made from dented and bent in multiple places. “But I appreciate you’re showing some care for my wellbe-“

RIIIP, RIIP RIIP

“Or you can do that…” Twilight said flatly, turning to look as Chalk cut out three rough holes on the hat, two for her ears on either side and one for where her horn was.

The man approached Twilight and put the cut up hat onto the pony’s head, fitting snuggly with it being held in place by her horn and ears out of the holes.

“There, sun burn is bad, hurt skin and make it hard to move.” He said with a smile and stepping back.

“Thank you.” Twilight said, feeling the hat on her head.

“Don’t mention it little horsey.” Chalk said with his smile widening.

“I’m a pony actually.”

“Isn’t pony a small horse?”

“Sort of, we’re both equines.”

“So you little horsey.” He joked, starting to walk out of the building.

They found, or more like Twilight found, a number of items including two other guns, one the same type as Chalk’s and one that looked like Lucky but a bit bigger with larger bullets but Twilight put them both into her bag for later, neither having holsters.

“What are we even looking for?” Twilight asks as they walked off.

“Joshua thinks there’s things we need in an old ruined cart in a stream, we need to go there.” He said pointing down the road, not too far away.”

Just like her guard said they soon reached a cliff, Chalk approaching the edge and pointing down at the bottom where Twilight could see what looked like one of the large metal husks that she saw along the roads to Zion and in the Mojave.

“That’s why your own two feet are better than any carriage, be it pulled by critters or on its own.” He said, going to the edge before stating to climb down along the rock face.

Twilight just stretched out her wings, jumping off the edge and gliding down to the bottom and landing in the shallow stream the carriage was in.

She could see that it was broken right down the middle, probably from the fall from the cliff up high with all the metal rusted and scorched black. She could see a burnt skeleton laying on the bank of the stream, it’s clothing long since rotted away along with all its flesh.

Getting closer the pony froze. Littered all along the inside of the metal husk were more skeletons, but they were different. Instead of being the size of Anne or Chalk they small, smaller than her and Twilight realized that they were children.

Old metal lunchboxes, their paint still in flakes on the surface were all around along with leather bags that hadn’t rotted away yet. Toys of different kinds were either sat at the bottom of the clear water or scattered around with the bodies.

“By Celestia…” Twilight looked around in horror.

“Selestria? Is that a god from your lands?” Chalk asked as he finally reached the bottom but didn’t seem fazed by the dead.

“Celestia.” Twilight corrected. “She’s my teacher and a princess like me.” She said.

“Well did you find the things?” Chalk asked walking though the water into the metal beast and stepping into it.

Shaking her head Twilight shakes her head, trying to clear her mind of the young lives lost, wondering if one of them might have become a great inventor, or a lifesaving doctor, or-

She shakes her head again, steeping inside.

She tries her hardest to ignore the children and look around for what she needs. Almost instantly she notices a compass on the ground and approaches it, pressing the button for the top to open up and expose it. Twilight mutters annoyance under her breath seeing that the compass hand was bent and not moving when she spun it around.

Cracking it open with her magic she starts to fiddle around with the internal workings, seeing that a major part inside it was electrical like the laser rifles and was all worn away and the wires frayed.

Staring at it for a few moments she sighed, looking around for anything she could use to try and fix it.

Seeing another compass nearby she picked it up and hoped that it was still working but was dismayed to find that the cover on it was ripped off and the face of it was burnt to a crisp. Crossing her hooves she popped it open and peered inside,

Sighing she pulled out the barely damaged internal parts and switched them around with the ones inside the okay quality case, hoping she arranged all the small wires properly before shutting it and peering at the straightened needle.

“Yes!” She cheered to herself, seeing whenever she twisted the compass the needle would point in the same direction.

“You find thing?” Chalk asked.

“Yes, I got the compass working.” She said with a grin.

“What’s compass?”

“It tells you what direction you’re headed in, north south east or wet.” She stated.

Chalk looked at the pony in surprise. “So it can tell you where you’re going, even without seeing the stars?”

“Yeah, that’s why they were made so it was so much easier to tell which direction you are going without having to look at a dozen different things.” Twilight explained as she put the device into one of the pockets on her. “Where to next?”

“An old fishing shack.” He stated.

After a few more hours of walking, taking a small break between then for some food and water which Twilight was pleasantly surprised to find that the streams and lakes weren’t dangerous in anyway and greedily drunk it, the two reached the medium sized wooden building, white paint with red hand prints all over it in warning.

Upon going to the door and opening it a high pitched screech filled the building and a large looking gecko was stood on its two hind leg with its mouth wide open in a snarl.

Twilight looked confused for a few moments before it charged at them, followed by half a dozen more.

Pulling out Benny’s gun the pony took aim at the closest lizard and pulled the trigger, the bullet that hit its head instantly killing it and throwing it back.

Others were rushing were rushing towards them, a few well aimed shots stopping them in their tracks.

The interior was filled with small entertainment things, a pool table, couches around small chairs with empty beer bottles on them, a bar top with stools and a fireplace, the stone inside covered with a thick layer of soot from when it used to be used.

Behind the rotting bar was a large cabinet which Twilight approached and tried to open but found it was locked. “What are we looking for in here?” The pony asked focusing her magic on the lock.

“I think Joshua called them Talkie-Walkies.”

“Walkie-Talkies” Twilight corrected. “You can talk into one and the other can hear you, helps if you want to talk with someone at a distance.”

Chalk looked dumb fuddled by that. “What?”

Sighing tiredly Twilight clicked open the cabinet and peered in, finding it filled with all different types of alcohol along with two large brick sized objects with antenna and tuner nobs.

Grabbing the two objects she put them into the larger pockets on her sides before grabbing a bottle of whisky, guessing Anne should have a get well soon gift for when she woke up.

“Now we got them, what are we getting now?” Twilight asked.

“A store, we need to get lunch box, a few lunch box.” He said.

Twilight’s legs were starting to ache, her hoofs feeling sore from the coarse dirt they have been walking on. It also didn’t help when a small pack of wild dogs attacked them but that was easily dealt with using aim and a few bullets.

Upon arriving at the small wooden building Twilight spotted the red warning hands across it again, wondering why everyone felt so scared about the buildings. “So we’re getting lunch boxes?” Twilight asked.

“Yes, at least five.” Chalk said. “There also might be food.”

Opening the door and peeking in Twilight instantly close it again, eyes widened in fear and hooves shaking slightly. “Can we skip this one?” Twilight asked Chalk, looking at him hopefully.

“What’s in there that has you riled up little horsey?”

“I’m riled up because I just saw a fly in there that’s almost half the size of me along with a mantis that is almost as big as you!” Twilight exclaimed.

“You have big gun, just stand back and shoot inside.” He said pointing at Twilight’s laser rifle. “I open the door and you shoot.”

“Alright.” Twilight said taking a few deep breaths. “Sounds like a plan.”

Opening her wings she jumped up and pulled the laser rifle off her back, holding it in her hooves as she flew backwards and aimed at the door Chalk was still stood near.

With a small nod he grabbed the door handle and threw it open, jumping out of the way as Twilight let loose, not even aiming for anything particular but just hoping she hit anything alive inside the building.

Once she ran empty she realized that she had her eyes closed the entire time and open them back up.

There was nothing but burns and sickly colored green blood across the floors and ground. Reloading the rifle and putting it back onto her back she steps inside with Lucky at the ready.

Chalk followed in with his .45 at the ready as well, pointing around in case there were any more bugs inside.

“I think it’s clear.” The man said putting the gun away.

Inside the building was a large set of wooden shelving, a few broken from the main frame and hanging uselessly from the screws that used to hold them in. A few boxes of different things such as Insta-Mash and Bubble Gum were still on a few of the shelves or the floor but most of the place was stripped clean of useful things. A counter was by the right wall and a door leading to a back room along the far wall.

Stepping in Twilight almost instantly notices two metal boxes with latches on the main counter, a rusted and peeled picture of the valley painted on the face of it. Approaching it Twilight picked it up with her magic and held it before Chalk.

“Is this the type of things he wanted?” She asked.

“Yes, those are the box.” He said with a smile and a nod.

The other boxes were a lot harder to find, one hidden behind a broom in a cupboard or one in the drawer of the locked desk but one good thing that came out of it was Twilight found a small snow globe, one showing a happy smiling cartoon person in hiking gear stood at the valley with ‘Zion National Park’ under it.

She had to ask Chalk to carry the boxes because she was starting to run out of room on herself, filled with all sorts of things.

“Can we head back now?” Twilight asked.

“We can’t yet, one more thing we need get.” Chalk said. “Healing things to help us and to help heal your friend.”

Twilight felt a rush of energy at that, hearing that she could actually do something to help her wounded friend. “Alright then, let’s go!”

Twilight was pleasantly surprised when it turned out the place they needed to go was right next door, just on a small ledge with the road going to it. It was bigger than the store and like the other buildings had the handprints on them along with the signs of rot and decay on the wood.

Opening the door Twilight took in a single step before a small hissing sound could be heard and from under a metal desk inside crawled out a large tan brown scorpion, not as big as the black on when she first set out but still rather large.

“AHHHHH!” She screamed. “NO!”

A filing cabinet against the wall suddenly flew up and crushed the bug under it, covered in a soft purple glow and sticky green blood seeped from under the object.

Another little his and the pony spotted another one crawling underneath another metal desk and soon that desk collapsed in on itself and speared the arachnid with torn bits of metal.

One last one was scuttling towards Twilight before one of the broken metal legs from the just collapsed table speared right through its top and into the ground, pinning it there as it let out a screech as it writhed on the ground before it went limp.

Twilight was panting heavily, sweat dripping down her forehead with her right eye twitching slightly.

“Why did it have to be scorpions?” She growled to herself.

Chalk heard this and let out a small chuckle. “Because it would be no fun otherwise.” He said tapping the carapace of impaled one. “Bark scorpions are very deadly, one sting hurts a lot and if it gets enough you’ll die.” He stated.

“I’m not planning on getting close to any of them, don’t worry.” Twilight stated, looking around at the internal part of the building.

There were a few tables in the middle, one just a hunk of bent and broken metal and a filing cabinet having cracked the wooden planks near another one from why Twilight threw it down. There was a fridge and a few normal looking round tables, one of them having a burnt skeleton with a bottle of bleach in front of it spilt on the table along with an empty bottle of beer.

Heading into a back room the pony saw that there were a pair of bunk beds along with a table, a brown leather bag on it with two snakes curled around a sword.

Smiling at the sight of the medical bag she opened it up before that smile fell as soon as it came back. The sterile bandage packets have been ripped open and she didn’t know how long and to make it worse the bottle of disinfectant had leaked and had barely any left inside it.

“Oh no, this is useless!” She yelled, letting her head fall onto the desk.

“What’s wrong?” Chalk asked walking into the back room.

“It’s all dirty, if anyone tried to use this they’d get an infection and it’d do more harm than good!” She exclaimed. “Ughh… I feel like I need something to dri- wait, that’s it, something to drink!” She said a smile instantly coming back.

She raced out of the room and to the broken fridge, throwing it open and grabbing all the bottles that looked like they held alcohol.

“You think it best idea to drink?”

“That’s not what I mean, alcohol is known to cleans things really well, it’s used in hoof sanitizer to kill germs.”

“What?”

“It means it can clean the bandages and tools so they’re safe to use!” Twilight said, grabbing a dented metal bucket from the back room and pouring all the bottles into it. Soon it was a quarter filled with mixed drinks. Grabbing the bandages she tore them open the rest of the way and dropped them all in, making sure that they all got soaked.

“Great!” We just need to give them a few minutes and it’ll be all fine!” She said with a grin.

“Then I’m going to eat, you want?” Chalk asked.

“Sure, what do we have?”

Chalk smirked. “There scorpion.”

“Do you wanted to be filed away like the pancake over there?” Twilight said with a flat look, pointing over at the blood seeping from under the large metal object.

“…I think chips sound better come to think.”

“Yes, I have to agree.”

Chapter 41

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Twilight hated Zion.

The once beautiful landscapes now seemed like hell from all the walking she had to across the uneven rocks with the constant coldness that came from being soaked to the bone from all the streams that they had to walk though. Not even the setting sun that would have struck her with awe a few weeks ago did nothing to lighten her mood and just like the approaching night, more darkness seeped into her mind.

Knowledge of how heartbroken her friends would be, how her family might be mourning for her and the rest of Equestria for losing their newest princess in the blink of the eye, or the flash of a horn. She thought about what she had gone through. Getting nearly blown up several times, shot, burnt, beaten, all of this more pain than anything else in her life. Then her train of thought went to her new friend, the one that had saved her from bleeding to death on her first night in the Mojave, the one who had risked her own life to keep Twilight alive, the one currently at death’s door.

Twilight just prayed that Anne would make it, she didn’t know what to do if the woman died. Most likely the pony would get herself killed very quickly.

“Horsey?”

How would she die? Would it be from being torn apart by one of the giant bugs?

“Twilight?”

Or maybe it’d be something simple like being shot to death.

“Twilight!”

Twilight blinked, turning her head to look over to the annoyed Chalk. “What is it?”

“Did you listen to what I say?” He asked.

“Ummm, maybe?”

He sighed. “I said we’re at the Narrows, the Sorrows land.” He stated as they walked through a ravine with more lake going along the floor.

A few minutes later Twilight could see they were in a much larger area, this time mostly land with large boulders everywhere, wooden torches around to light up the darkening area. Rickety wooden bridges connected the rocks together.

Walking closer someone approached them. It was a woman, hair shaved off her head, lines going across her sin with a crest of feathers behind her head. The hand of a bear covered her right hand like a glove, claws sharpened to a razor edge.

“You are the one Joshua Graham sent to us. Blessings of the Father in the Cave on you, Daniel is waiting for you.” She said.

“And where is Daniel?” Twilight asked.

“Daniel is in main camp, further up river.” The tribal woman said, pointing off further down the stream close by, going deeper into the ravine.

“Of course, more water…”

It took another fifteen minutes to find Daniel and by then the sun had set and everything was dark except for the areas around the burning wooden touches.

The pony could guess which one Daniel was from the fact he was the only one wearing normal looking long pants and a dark flannel long sleeved shirt with said sleeves rolled up his arms. A belt with a large silver buckle kept his pants up and a wide brimmed leather hat sat on his head. On his face was a scruffy beard and mustache but besides that he looked quite young.
“Hey, are you Daniel?” Twilight asked approaching him.

“That’s me, you must be the one that was with the caravan.” The man said in a soft caring tone of voice.

“You know about that?” Twilight asked sadly, yet again thinking about her wounded friend.

“The Dead Horses told me the details about the attack on your caravan. A stranger’s sympathy might not count for much, but for what it’s worth, I’m sorry. The Sorrows will mourn your friends too. They mourn everyone, even the White Legs. They have sensitive souls. Innocent, if there is such a thing.” He said sadly. “In spite of what’s happened, I hope Joshua and I can help you out of here and try and save the one that survived with you. But to be frank we need your help too.”

“Joshua told me you needed a few things, I think this is everything.” Twilight said, using her magic to open up the satchels on her sides before bringing out the compass and taking the medical bag and lunch boxes off of Chalk.

“Well I’ll be, I was starting to lose hope we’d be able to get any of this, much less all of it. Tribals are smart, but, well… They’re ignorant.” He said before sighing sadly. “Letting go of a taboo is difficult for them, so I knew it would have to be one of us. Turns out all it took was a Gentile. Or, uh… no offence.” He said sheepishly. “These supplies are a godsend, but if we’re going to evacuate Zion without drawing more White Leg attention I need you to go back out into the valley. Specifically I need you to scout out some locations for White Legs and try to recover a map of Grand Staircase, a wilderness area to the east. There’s also the matter of the roads. We’re going to be heading out of the east side of the park but I’m not sure the way is clear.”

“Because you’re helping Anne I’m more than happy to help.” Twilight said.

“I appreciate the enthusiasm. There aren’t a lot of people, well, you’re not exactly a person in the physical sense of the word so that might have something to do with it.” He said. “Since you’ve been poking around the valley you might see more activity from the White Legs. One of the Sorrows’ hunters, Waking Cloud, has volunteered to help guide you through the valley. She has a special talent for staying out of sight. After this it’s just a matter of getting everyone out of here safe and sound. And hopefully you and your friend can head back to the Mojave without any more trouble.” He said before reaching into a satchel he had around his shoulder and pulled out number of brick shaped blocks, covered in black duct tape with a few different colored wires sticking into it and into a grey box strapped onto it with a turned off light in the middle. “Do you know what these are?”

“Ummm, no…” Twilight said in confusion.

“These are mining explosive, used to clear tunnels when mining used to be done around here. All you need to do is flick the switch on the primmer…” He said doing what he said and with a click the red light started to glow. “And it’s active, you just press the trigger on the detonator.” He said. “I’ll give these to you in case you need them in your travels.”

“Thank you.” Twilight said, putting them into her pockets which bulged with the brick shaped objects but she didn’t know if she would need them or not.

Daniel nodded, patting Twilight on the head before walking past the two.

Once the man was gone Chalk looked at Twilight. “Well, this is where we part ways. I’m needed back at the Dead Horses camp, maybe I’ll see you there sometime.” He said sadly.

“Are you sure? It’s been nice so far.” Twilight asked sadly.

“Sorry, Joshua was pretty clear. Get you to Daniel then come on home. You can take it up with him if you’d like.” He said apologetically.

Twilight let out a sad sigh. “Alright, tell Joshua I said hi.”

“I will. Goot gonen. Achk iss.” He said before turning always and walking back the way they entered the camp from, giving one last wave.

Sighing sadly Twilight made her way to one of the camp areas, the beds made from animal hides and dried grass to provide some softness with only a wooden frame and large leaves providing any protection from above. The sun was setting and Twilight felt tired and wanted to sleep.

The purple pony princess noticed the tribal woman from earlier approaching her as she looked around where to sleep.

“Daniel said that I was to travel with you until you have completed your scouting. Is this pleasing to you?” The woman asked.

“Yes, I have no clue where anything is.” Twilight stated with a tired groan as she stretched her wings.

“Before we depart, our shaman, White Bird, asked me to convey his desire to speak with you.” The woman said, bear arm still attached to hers.

“We’re not going yet.” Twilight stated. “I’m tired and want to sleep for the next few years, where can I lay down?” The pony asked bluntly too tired to really caring about more things to be done.

“Just choose a bedding to lay upon and sleep.” She said. “We share most we own.”

“Alright then.” Twilight said, flopping down onto the closest straw bed with a groan, realizing that she was still wearing her damp clothing and all her gear.

While muttering bitterly Twilight unzipped herself from the black clothing and used her magic to hang it over one of the wooden supports holding up the thin roof, her weapons laid right next to the bed. Soon she laid down again, noticing there was nothing to cover herself with.

With another tired sigh she decided she would prefer a cold night sleep to no sleep.

Laying on her back she used the hat Chalk had given her to put over her face to try and block out the flickering light of the touches.

Soon the sore pony found sleep.

“Hurry!” Chalk yelled to Twilight as she ran after him as fast as she could, everything around them seeming a dark blur.

“How far away?” Twilight asked, her legs feeling like they were stuck in cement with how hard they were to move.

“We’re almost there!” He said.

Twilight couldn’t rightly remember where they were going but she knew it was important.

The princess suddenly noticed Anne stood up ahead of them, Twilight not noticing as Chalk’s footsteps seemed to fade from existence. “Anne!”

Her friend didn’t say anything, just smiling at Twilight as she ran forward.

Twilight was smiling widely, seeing her best friend in the Mojave in front of her but strangely she seemed to be getting further and further away. Trying harder Twilight felt her hooves move slower and slower until she was stuck in place, the rock seeming to cling to her hooves as she tried to run.

Anne didn’t move at all, her face smiling and body standing still.

The emobile pony watched in horror as a White Leg tribal seem to appear out of nowhere with a shotgun in his hands, pointing the barrel not at her but at her friend.

“Anne! Behind you!” Twilight called out in fear.

Anne didn’t budge, even as the barrel was pressed against the back of her skull.

BOOM

“Gah!” Twilight exclaimed, bolting upright, sweat covering her coat and drenching her mane as she looked around. Nothing but the early morning greeted her, the water gently rippling with the wind along with the Sorrows that were wading through it.

“Nightmare?” Waking Cloud asked, sat on the straw bed next to Twilight’s as she slowly sharpened the claws of her glove with a whetstone.

“Y-yeah…” Twilight said with a sniffle, tears in her eyes. “I-I dreamt about Anne…”

“Anne is the friend that survived the attack on your caravan correct?”

“Yeah…”

“Do not worry about her wellbeing.” She stated. “Heals have stopped the bleeding and given her herbs to help her heal. They say within the next few days she shall wake up though the wound will still be tender and sore for a long while after that.”

Twilight grinned widely, her cheeks hurting from how much she strained them. “Really?! Anne will be alright!?”

“From what I have heard yes.”

Twilight didn’t even notice that she had launched herself at Waking Cloud and didn’t care, she was so happy she needed to hug something. “YES!” She cheered. “Anne’s going to make it!”

Chapter 42

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Twilight and Waking Cloud were just leaving the Sorrows’ camp when they saw the bandaged form of Joshua stood knee deep in the stream in front of them, arms crossed across his chest and a .45 pistol on his hip.

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.” He said. “Remember, O Lord, the children of Eden in the day of Jerusalem who said, ‘Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation.’ O Daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed. Happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” He said like read from a book. “Do you know what it means?”

“You don’t want to leave Zion do you?” Twilight said softly. “You want to fight back to keep your home.”

“Given those choices yes, in the best of all possible worlds, they would just leave us in peace. But they won’t. I don’t enjoy killing, but when done righteously, it’s just a chore, like any other. Practiced hands make for short work. And the good Lord knows there’s much to be done here.”

“This conversation just got pretty dark. What was that about happy… dashing the little ones?” Twilight asked awkwardly.

“Happy are those that do the work of the Lord. Zion belongs to God and the people of God. It’s a natural temple and monument to his glory. When our Lord entered the temple and found it polluted by money-changers and beasts, did he ask them to leave? Did he cry? Did he simply walk away? No. He drove them out. It is one thing to forgive a slap across my cheek, but an insult to the Lord requires… no, it demands correction.”

“I’ll… think about it…” Twilight said.

“I and the Dead Horses are prepared to do what must be done to protect Zion from the White Legs. And though Daniel won’t accept it yet, there are many Sorrows who are also prepared. They may not be warriors but this is their home. If you have a chance to speak with Daniel about this, ask him to consider defending Zion instead of abandoning it. He has good intentions, but I fear if we evacuate the Sorrows from this place it will be lost to them, and us, forever.” He said before walking off.

After walking for a few hours Twilight and her new companion had made it to a cave that Waking Cloud said held the map, but looked very uneasy as they neared it. “We should not be here… This place… it belongs to the Father in the Caves! We must not profane it with our touch!” She said as they entered, the tribal woman looking around fearfully like the rocks themselves would punish her for being this close.

“What are you talking about?”

“The Father in the Caves! The Holy Father who gave the Sorrows His succor and gave the New Canaanites his son. Many of the caves around the valley are sacred to him, and those who would trespass are punished by holy wrath.”

“I understand. I’ll respect your beliefs, then, but we need to look in the cave for a map.” Twilight said softly, looking up at the woman. “We need to, it’ll help save the lives of your people.”

She let out a sad sigh. “I understand, I would prefer to leave here as soon as possible though.” She said slightly fearfully.

They continue to walk inside, glowing mushrooms growing from the damp walls, moss covering the ground and rocks around them and every now and again a crack going to the surface let light come into the otherwise dark cavern.

Not liking the level of light Twilight let her horn start to glow, putting small amounts of magic into her aching horn and directing it into a beam in front of her.

Continuing to walk in they entered a large cavern, vines hanging from the ceiling and large plants growing through the rocks and on dirt that had built up over the years.

A sound echoed slightly in the cavern, the sound of a rattling hiss that got adrenaline flowing through the two’s veins.

“Mantis.” Cloud said, flexing the fingers of the bear hand she wore over her own.

Twilight pulled out Benny’s old 9mm pistol and held it at the ready as she walked in.

Moments later a large green praying mantis with its clear wings jumped out from behind a large rock embedded in the ground. It didn’t get to move much more before a large crack rocked out and the gun kicked in Twilight’s magic, the mantis’ green blood spewing from the gaping hole that appeared in its carapace covered body.

A few more hisses came from other places in the cavern and another mantis came running at the pair, Cloud lunging at the thing with her bear claw in mid swing, all but cutting the bug in half with the single swing.

Just as Twilight was aiming at another mantis a large glob of green goop landed right next to her and when the splash hit her she let out a yelp and jumped out of the way as it burnt her fur off and reddened the skin underneath.

Looking in the direction of where the gob came from she saw nothing but plants on a ridge, confused at what did that. Just as Twilight was looking away she spotted movement and jumped out of the way as another acidic projectile came flying at her. Spotting what did it her eyes widened as she realized it was actually the PLANTS that were doing it, large fly traps opening their large mutated maws and spitting out acid.

Aiming at the plants above them while Cloud took care of the manties Twilight started to shoot, the distance making it a little hard for her and a lot of her shots missed them but one lucky one hit the stem and killed it instantly.

Going to the second one she reloaded and started firing again, hitting the ‘head’ of the plant enough times to make it stop moving and go limp.

Looking around for any more plants she saw none but spotted Cloud flicking her claw to the side as she tried to get the dark green blood off her weapon of choice. “You alright?”

“Yes, they just scratched my leg but it will heal.” Waking Cloud said stretching her back.

Nodding affirmatively Twilight started to look around, hearing nothing else inside the cave system.

Flapping her wings and jumping off the ground to look around she spotted a small tunnel that had been blocked off with a wooden wall and door. “Follow me.” Twilight said flying back to the ground with Cloud and making her way towards the wooden door.

While walking up a rock slope and about to jump up a naturally made step with tried and dead sticks at the base and top Cloud grabbed the collar of Twilight’s clothing and yanked her back. “Wait, look.” Cloud said pointing at the sticks on top of the step.

Looking in confusion for a few moments at what she was meant to see Twilight’s eyes widened as she spotted the barrel of a shot gun pointing out right where her head would have been. Moving a few of the sticks away at the bottom of the stair the tribal exposed a long strip of string that went up and to the gun.

“That would have fired the weapon.” Cloud said making sure to step over the string before going up the step and to the top. Kneeling down by the shot gun she used one of the razor sharp claws to cut the string and make it stop from firing.

Twilight just flew over the step and headed to the nearby door, twisting the knob and finding that it was locked. With a flash of her horn there was a click and she tried again, this time it opened.

Walking in they spotted another pile of twigs and sticks, the reddish brown of the rust covering the bear traps inside it standing out a fair amount. Besides the trap by the door inside was a small wooden shack made inside the cave, most of the walls not there and no roof for there was no need for one in a cave.

While Cloud got sticks from the piles and started to disarm the bear traps by pressing the plates in the middle Twilight went to the tiny shack with no doors.

Inside wasn’t much, a table with an old computer Twilight didn’t know how to use, an old bed roll covered in dust and dirt and a duffle bag next to the bedroll. Opening it up and peaking though Twilight saw a lot of energy cells inside, hundreds in fact. Grabbing quite a few for herself she also found a map inside which she pocketed.

“I got what we need, let’s get out of here.” Twilight said seeing Cloud finish up the last of the traps so anyone who wanders in doesn’t die from the traps set around the place.

“Good, let’s move onto the next thing.”

As Twilight and Cloud were walking along and headed towards a group of the mutated bears Yao Guai they needed to clear out a scout from the dead horses made his way towards Twilight. “Your friend has wakened.” He said in very bad English. “She help kill White Legs’ camp.”

“Anne’s awake?” Twilight said excitedly, happy that her friend was doing alright.

“Yus, she help.” He said as he made his way away again.

“Yes! Anne’s alive and well it sounds like.” Twilight said grinning widely as Cloud lead her to a river called Pine Creek which she said had the bears at.

“See? I told you she would make it, she strong willed.” Cloud said smiling faintly as they walked along the road.

After twenty minutes of walking Cloud got her claw at the ready. “We almost there. Be careful.” She warned.

Twilight nodded, flapping her wings and hovering in the air as she brought out her laser rifle and flew next to Cloud as they walked.

A loud roar filled the air and three Yao Guai came running towards them, skin sickly and irradiated.

Aiming carefully Twilight’s rifle kicked each time she pulled the trigger, a beam of red light shooting out the end of the barrel and impacted the bears.

The first shot landed a lucky hit on one and it instantly turned to a pile of ash. The next few shots missed before another hit, impacting against its knee and leaving a nasty burn on it and making it fall over with a howl of pain.

The next was shot four times in its chest before it collapsed before them, the one on the ground getting finished off quickly by cloud running her claws across its neck.

“They are finished.” Cloud said standing back up and flicking the thick red blood from her clawed glove.

“What else is there for us to do?” Twilight asked changing the energy charge in her laser rifle.

“With your friend clearing out their camps the only thing left to do is disarm the traps that the White Legs are leaving on bridges we’ll have to use.”

Twilight and Cloud were walking down the road again, Twilight tired and sore from all the walking she had been doing lately, her hooves and legs burning. She couldn’t wait to get back to New Vegas, into the Royal Suite, to lay down on an actual bed considering that most beds she had slept on so far were just mattresses on the ground or dried leafs.

“How much longer till we reach the bridge?” Twilight asked tiredly.

“Not too much longer, any White Legs that are there we need to clear out.” Cloud said with a small nod as they walked, the tribal not seeming to have any trouble with the heat of the shining sun above them or all the walking they were doing.

“How many White Legs will there be?” Twilight asked.

“There will be a trapping party, maybe eight in to-”

‘CRACK’

Cloud’s sentence was cut off and finished with a yelp of pain as she collapsed to the ground clutching her bleeding shoulder, eyes wide in surprise.

Quickly looking around Twilight saw a White leg on a cliff with a rifle in his hands, racking the bolt as he got ready to fire another shot. Quickly the pony brought up a shield bubble around the two of them, horn glowing intensely as another shot impacted against it.

“I-It’s an ambush!” Twilight yelled in shock, the heavy use of her magic making her mentally tired and her magic weak.

It only took a few more bullets before the bubble shattered and the bullet that had done it impacting against Twilight’s leg, causing her to crumple to the side in agony as the burning filled up her leg.

A few White Legs climbed out from behind bushes and rocks, a few having large axes while others having firearms of different types.

“Glahb ni kahn meer dah ah?” One called out before all of them laughed.

One approached the wounded Twilight, pointing a sawn off double barrel shotgun. “Shtairb.” He said, the princess clenching her eyes as she got ready for what was approaching.

‘CRACK’

Twilight slowly opened her eyes after a few moments and no pain of her head turning into a mush in the dirt. She managed to see the White Leg collapse to the ground with a new hole in the middle of his head.

“Shaiss!”

“Eh hahj!”

‘CRACK’

“Ugh!”

Another White Leg yelled out, the one on the cliff that shot Twilight and Cloud, clutching his neck as he fell off and landed with a meaty thud.

“Hey fuck faces!” A female’s voice could be heard from another cliff edge, everyone looking up.

Anne was stood there, large insane grin on her face. “Got a gift for you ass hats.” She said pulling up two .45 automatic sub machine guns, each one holding a drum magazine.

The air suddenly filled with the sound of constant gunfire, each gun shooting a hail of bullets down upon the White Legs tribals down below, cutting into flesh and splitting though bone.

Blood splattered onto the dirt, a few of the White Legs trying to run away in fear of the crazed woman but they too were cut down like long grass on a lawn.

It wasn’t long till Anne had run out of bullets and the guns were just clicking in her hands.

“Hey Twilight!” Anne called out waving her arm above her head, gun still in hand.

“Anne, you’re alright!” Twilight called out happily, clutching at her bleeding limb.

“Of course! The world can’t survive without me!”

Chapter 43

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“Well then, it seems that you’ve done a lot of stuff while I’ve been out princess.” Anne said as the group of three walked along.

“I’m just glad that you’re okay and awake now, I was worried that something bad might happen.”

Anne couldn’t help but let out a small laugh at that. “Like die or something? Twilight, it is almost impossible to kill me, it’d take a nuke to make sure I was down.”

“How often are nukes used?” Twilight asked uncertainly.

“Well the technology that fires them has almost been lost to history, it’d take a crazy man to figure out how to set them off.”

Arriving at the Sorrow’s camp again they saw Daniel sat by a fire with a group of other Sorrows. Standing up he turned to the group. “I see that you are doing fine, are your injuries feeling okay?” He asked the metal clad woman.

“Yeah, thank you for patching me up, if you guys didn’t help me I might have not made it after that attack.” Anne said gratefully.

“No thank you needed, we do whatever we can to help people, even outsiders.” He said with a nod before turning to Twilight. “And I’m glad to see you’re still with us, how can I help you?”

“We checked on everything in the valley and got the map you were looking for.” Twilight stated.

“I appreciate it.” He said. “Well, that’s it, this is all we need. Now all that’s left is to quietly pack up and try to get out of here without being noticed. That’s assuming that Joshua won’t try to stop me. And that he hasn’t talked you into fighting the White Legs despite what I’ve said.” He said. “Don’t worry, I don’t hold it against you. You’re a… an outsider. Fighting seems like the practical solution. But there’s more at stake.”

Twilight looked at Anne uncertainly but the woman just shrugged. “I don’t mind either way, but we should help these people.”

Twilight nodded, looking back at Daniel. “Don’t worry, I think leaving here is the best option.” The pony said smiling gently.

“It may be. I hope it is. To tell the truth, if something goes wrong, more Sorrows could die in the escape than in Joshua’s proposed attack. Even knowing that, it’s a risk I have to take, with your help, and Joshua’s, even if we’re attacked we can defend the Sorrows and escape. We’ll be traveling at night in small groups, across the valley. With luck, the White Legs won’t know what’s happened until the next morning. But if the White Legs realize what’s happening…” he said trailing off slightly. “Joshua and I will need you to help to help us escape. Don’t hold back, I promise you, the White Legs won’t. Once our path is clear I’ll give you everything you need to get back to the Mojave, but the Pine Creek tunnel must be collapsed behind us. It’s the only way to delay the White Legs’ pursuit long enough for us to get a head start. Good luck, and may God be with us.”

After a few parting words with Joshua Cloud informs the duo that she needed to go to help her people prepare for the escape.

Joshua ran up to Twilight and Anne, water covering them from the running they had been doing in the rivers around Zion, each having small cuts and scratches from the White Legs.

“Daniel must have made it tunnel by now.” He said urgently. “But there are Sorrows all over the valley! We have to help them and get Daniel out of here.”

“Let’s hurry, we need to find them all before it’s too late.” Twilight said, the laser rifle in her hooves as she floated in place.

“Lead the way you two, I have no clue where we are.” Anne said holding a hunting rifle.

“They’ve taken over the Pine Creek bridge, we should take that back first.” The wrapped up man said.

“Then let’s go!”

It didn’t take long before they reached the bridge, a number of the hostile tribals stood on it. Some had .45 machine guns, others had rifles and a few had axes and other beating weapons.

“Twilight, you stay in the air and shoot from afar with your rifle. Joshua, you are on support and I’ll quickly get in there and draw their attention.” Anne said quietly, raking the bolt of her rifle to make sure it was loaded.

Twilight nodded, a few quick and powerful flaps of her wings shooting her into the air, laser rifle in her hooves as she presses the stock against her shoulder. From her vantage point she looked down to see Anne running forward as fast as she could, not even aiming before she started to fire shots off with Joshua hanging back a bit and aiming his shots.

Not waiting another moment Twilight looks down her weapon and aims for one of the Tribals with a rifle. With a few pulls of the trigger with her magic the red bolts of light flew through the air and impacted against the enemy

Twilight kept firing at any of the Tribals in her vision until all of them had fallen, either from beams of red laser or hot lead.

She could see Anne limping slowly towards one of the tribal’s corpse, Twilight looking at her annoyed as she realized her friend got herself shot before she had even healed from her last injuries, and on closer inspection she saw the woman yanking an axe out of her shin before dropping it to the side. She saw Anne reach into one of her pockets and starts jabbing herself with needles, two shots of Med-x and a stimpak to repair the damage that had been caused to her.

“You need to take better care of yourself!” Twilight yelled down at Anne as she slung her rifle over her back and flew herself down to meet up with her friend and the fully wrapped up man as he holstered his pistol onto his hip.

“Twilight, you should know by now that I’m about as careful with my wellbeing as you are with a tin can you kick on the side of the road.” Anne said as she slips out the two empty shells in her shotgun before clicking in two more.

Twilight walks up to Anne before jumping up, using her wings to float bout head height before bringing her hoof up. The woman was rewarded with a slap on the back of the head. And Anne would say that with hooves being almost nothing but bone it was like getting hit with a brick.

After complaining about a headache for the twenty minute jog through Zion and fighting a few pockets of resistance as well as helping any friendlies they came across as they were on their way towards the Pine Tree Tunnel.

The trio started to jog at a steady pace when they heard gunfire up ahead and the group was greeted with a large group of the Sorrow’s taking shots at a group of White Legs, each hidden behind rocks to cover themselves from the flying lead.

Running up to the rocks their allies were taking covering behind. “What’s going on? How many?!” Anne asked one of the Sorrow’s, having to shout over the gunfire.

Twilight and Joshua starts to lay down covering fire on the enemy position.

“Fifteen White Leg.” The Sorrow responds, the English extremely broken. “Salt-Upon-The-Wound dere.” He adds.

“That’s the White Legs’ leader.” The Burned man states as he slides another clip into his pistol before clinking the slide forward.

“They’re all about showing their better than everyone else right?” Anne asks, getting a confused look from Joshua and Twilight, or as confused as was visible from a man who had his whole face bandaged up besides his eyes and the bridge of is nose.

Before the woman got an answer she jumped to her feet out from cover, shooting her 10mm pistol up into the air to get attention, although with all the gunfire it didn’t do much other than confuse her friends and earn a bullet pinging off the shoulder armor.

But when the Sorrows along with the two extras stopped shooting in confusion of the woman’s plan it soon caught the attention of the White Legs as well, after another bullet sparked off against Anne’s shin.

“Salt-Upon-The-Wound! Show yourself or are you a coward!” Anne yelled out, dropping her pistol to the side along with her shotgun. When she had no more weapons she threw her arms to the side. “Come at me bro!” She challenged.

After a few moments a man stood up from behind the enemy cover. Bits of leather armor strapped to his body, his bare chest painted with red and white. His head was covered in an ornate headdress, lower jaw bone jutting out with metal covering his head with eyes painted on and feathers sticking out the back.

“Foolish outman! You best White Legs, you think? By my fist you die!” He yelled back, thumping his chest with his fist. On his other arm was something that confused Twilight.

It was a powerfist, a weapon with hydraulics built into it, amplifying the force of a punch to insane levels. Anne knew this and the danger it would pose in the hands of a good hand to hand fighter, but Twilight didn’t.

Anne didn’t let any fear show through her face, thumping her chest in return. “Fight me!” She yells, looking over to her allies. “Psst, can I have something to use?” She whispers urgently to them, holding out a hand.

After a few moments a small bowie knife was by her feet, quickly picking it up and held it at the ready.

The two slowly started to circle each other, waiting for the other to make the first move of attack. Anne went first, lunging her knife forward for a stab directly to the gut, through it was swiftly batted aside before Salt went for a right hook at Anne’s head.

She ducked down under the swing, not bothering to bring the knife back around and instead went out with a jab with her left fist, hitting him in the side. He barely seemed to acknowledge the hit before he brought his fist back, slamming it into Anne’s arm.

There was a loud sickening crack, the arm bending grotesquely and sending the woman reeling from the impact with a cry of pain. Anne could feel the bone shatter under her flesh, limb hanging limply by her side as she grit her teeth.

Twilight almost jumped out to help, but was stopped as Joshua grabbed the back of her collar, yanking her back. “You jump in now she’ll get cut down by the others.” He warned. Twilight understood, but was constantly twitching to go out and help her friend.

Anne staggered back but regained her footing, twisting the knife in her one good arm, her bad arm flopping about slightly as she tried to use it to get some Med-x, unable to use a stimpak or it would heal her bones in the messed up position they were currently in. After dropping one she managed to finally stab one into her leg, her body softening on the shaking it was doing.

Salt just laughed at the struggles of the woman, his men laughing a few moments later. “You weak!” He taunts, as if talking to a baby.

Anne didn’t say anything, dropping the used needle to the ground as she gripped the knife with a harder grip. “It’ll take more than that to take me out!” Anne yelled out, flipping the blade in her hands to point downwards.

Salt lunged again, going for a jab at the woman’s gut. Anne deftly dodges around the blow, slamming the blade in between gaps in the decorated powerfist, digging deeply into flesh and bone. The man barely registered it besides a yell of rage, swinging his other arm around to punch Anne in her shattered arm with his unarmed fist.

Anne staggers away in agony, letting go of the knife and leaving it jabbed in the arm of Salt. The man gripped the hilt of the knife, yanking it out with a grunt, blood leaking out of his arm and down the fist to the ground.

He lets out a roar of anger and flings the blade at the hurting woman, making her stagger back even more as it buries itself deep into her bad shoulder as she let out a small cry of pain. Yanking it out of her shoulder she threw it back at Salt, where it just impacted against his chest by the hilt, harmlessly falling to the sandy rock below.

Anne knew it probably wasn’t a good idea to throw her only weapon at her enemy, especially when that enemy had a weapon that if it hit her in the head or torso it would most likely kill her instantly if her powdered arm was anything to go by.

When he went for a wide swing towards her head she ducked under the blow, giving a hard punch to his gut before giving an uppercut to his helmeted head. That made him stagger back a bit, leaving him open to another gut punch to his bare stomach.

The force managed to hunch him over since Anne could barely feel anything in her non-broken hand with the painkillers in her system and the adrenaline in her blood. Shoving on the back of his head she brought up her metal clad knee to meet his head.

Both stumbled back, both in pain from the current fight.

Anne dove forward before he could fully regain his balance, even though she hadn’t either. Jerking the knife of her shoulder on the way she stabbed it forward, digging deeply into his stomach. Before he could react to the attack she pulled it out before stabbing it back into the torn flesh, blood spurting out to the dirt.

After a few more repeats of this action she stumbled back, the body of Salt collapsing to the ground with a meaty thud, pool of blood forming underneath him.

Anne turned to look at the other White Legs, seeing them looking at her and their dead leader in confusion and shock. “WHO’S NEXT!” Anne yelled out, waving around the bloody knife at the remaining enemies. Seeing a woman who had just killed your boss and covered in his bloody chunk flicked a switch in the tribal’s heads and they dropped their weapons before they ran in the opposite direction.

Anne waited for them to be out of sight before her arm dropped, knife clattering to the ground with a clatter. She looked back to her allies, seeing a concerned looking Twilight and glad looking tribals. “W-well, that problem I done.” She said with a weak chuckle, shuffling her way over to a rock before sitting herself down leaning against it with a wince of pain.

Twilight quickly made her way over to her friend, kneeling down next to her as she pulled a stimpak out of one of the pouches on her vest. “You are so stupid Anne!” She said through her teeth. “You’re lucky you’re hurt or I would slap you right now.”

“Could have been worse.” Anne said with a chuckle, reaching into a pocket and jabbing another needle of Med-x into her leg before dropping it to the side. “Could have been killed.”

“You’re lucky you weren’t.” The pony grumbled as Joshua approached, gently taking hold of Anne’s arm and moving it into a correct position before Twilight jammed the Stimpak into her arm.

After a groan of pain as her bone knit itself back together she stood up, glad the painkillers were in her system and make her feel better after the fight. “Let’s just get this all over with, I need a long, long lie down.”

“The last of my people are in the tunnel.” Daniel said as he looked at the old road that cut into the wall of the canyon. “I don’t think we would have been able to do it without you two, but we’ll need you to do one final thing. We just need you to close the tunnel behind her

“Eh, no worries, it’s not like we could just leave you guys to get killed by those savages.” Anne said with a shrug, Twilight giving a nod in agreement.

“Not many would have helped.” The man said, handing the woman a small handle with a trigger on it. “Once everyone has cleared out just pull that, it’ll collapse the entrance.”

Anne nodded, head turning towards two Sorrows who dropped a metal box in front of the two friends. “This is our thanks for your help, it has a map to get yourself back to the Mojave along with a few gifts from us.” He said with a point at the box.

Anne and Twilight stood back as they watched the people they had been helping for the last few days as they disappeared into the darkness of the tunnel. “They would be clear by now.” Anne said idly before pulling the trigger.

With loud bangs and cracks the rock above the tunnel broke loose of the cliff face and crumbled into a pile, blocking up the tunnel with several tons of stone, unable to move unless someone had a crane on standby.

“Well… should we get going?” Anne asks looking down at Twilight.

“You’re carrying the box.”

And so it was that the conflict between the New Canaanites and the White Legs was finally resolved. The Courier's involvement had tipped the scale, shifting the fragile balance of power.

After the White Legs drove the Sorrows from Zion, they celebrated by destroying all traces of the valley's former inhabitants. They appealed to the Legion for assimilation, but were denied. Their failure to eradicate the New Canaanites in Grand Staircase and farther up the Colorado had not gone unnoticed. The White Legs made a half-hearted effort to find the New Canaanites, but were driven off by Dead Horses trained in the ways of Joshua Graham. The White Legs lost all hope of joining the Legion and disintegrated into a number of petty raiding bands, leaving Zion Valley a polluted cistern.

Daniel succeeded in leading the Sorrows out of Zion, as he had wanted to do from the start. The Courier protected the Sorrows during the evacuation, ensuring that most reached their destination unharmed. Over the weeks and months to come, Daniel would see to the Sorrows' resettlement in Grand Staircase. Their adjustment to their new home was not without difficulty, but eventually the Sorrows came to accept the loss of Zion.

Having helped Daniel and the Sorrows escape from Zion, the Dead Horses returned to their home at Dead Horse Point. The tribe continued to learn from the New Canaanites, and over many years built a flourishing community along the banks of the Colorado. Though the tribes' bond would endure, it was Joshua Graham's legend the Dead Horses would revere, not the tenets of New Canaan's faith.

Already weakened by several seasons of bad trading, the Happy Trails Caravan Company was initially discouraged by the results of its expedition. The fate of New Canaan, and the evacuation of the Sorrows from Zion, made the prospect of trading seem fruitless. When Daniel told his family about the exploits of Happy Trails' employee, the Courier and the pony, however, New Canaan decided to repay the company's kindness. Twice per year, New Canaanites made the dangerous journey west to trade with the company in the city of New Reno. The Happy Trails Caravan Company could not survive on such trading alone, but the New Canaanite's generosity made tough times go easier.

After leading the Sorrows from their home in Zion to safety in Grand Staircase, Daniel continued to wonder if he'd made the right choice. He spent his life evangelizing the beliefs of his people to a new generation of young men and women, as his ancestors had for centuries before him. He was happy with his family, but for the rest of his life there were nights when he awoke with sadness to find he had been dreaming of Zion.

And with that, the Courier and her friend walked out of the history of the tribes of Zion and back to the gathering storm of the Mojave Wasteland.

Chapter 44

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“You know what? I don’t think I will ever get the urge to go to Zion again.” Anne said with a sigh as they finally exited through the cave they had been walking through for the past few hours, finally greeted by the sight of the Mojave once again in all its irradiated glory.

“I will never have a pot plant in my house after those fly traps.” Twilight added with a shiver going down her spine, they ran into a few on their way back ‘home’.

They had left the box they had been given as a gift not long after leaving, having emptied it so they didn’t have to carry it around. Inside was Salt-Upon-Wounds’ helmet and his powerfist, which Anne kept the weapon and put it into her back as a keepsake along with the helmet. There was a few books of scripture that Twilight kept in her pack, Anne not really caring about it. But one thing that excited Anne was a pistol.

It was a short barreled .45 pistol with a worn snakeskin handle, it’s once darkened color scratched away from use to a dull shine. On both sides words were carved into the metal, and on an attached note was written the translation of ‘And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not’ in Greek. Anne had come to call it ‘Shining Light’ to make it easier.

There had been some food, water and medical supplies as well in the box, which they took as well although there were some tribal clothes that they left inside, they had no need for any of it.

“I think we deserve a break after all that, want to head back to the Lucky 38?” Anne asks idly as they stood at the exit to the cave.

“We need to get the stuff we hid away before we left.” Twilight pointed out.

“Oh yeah, good memory princess.”

After getting the things they stashed, although Twilight took parts of the laser rifle they got from Zion and used them to repair her old rifle, while Anne just got loaded down in weaponry she had left.

Boone looked up from the rifle he was currently in the process of cleaning when he saw the two very tired friends come back into the king suite of the Lucky 38, brow rising slightly at the state of them. “So… a bit more than just a caravan trip?” The man asked looking back down at the rifle, rubbing away excess oil he had rubbed onto the bolt action he had taken off.

“Just a bit.” Anne said taking her pack off and dropping it in a corner, not bothering to do anything else as she flopped herself into a sofa, the furniture creaking under the force and her weight. “Didn’t really get paid too.”

“We were attacked when we were going through Zion valley and we went on a whole adventure to help the people living there escape from a group of killers.” Twilight said, not even bothering to take off her pack before flopping down on another chair, face buried in the pillows tiredly.

“Just remember you have things to do, you have to decide if you want to keep around a bunch of the groups around New Vegas.” Boone said idly as he put the barrel back onto the wooden stock of the rifle.

Anne groaned softly, the pony letting out faint snoozing sounds as she passed out on the couch. “I’ll do it in the morning…” Anne grumbled.

“I’m not the one who’s trying to run this place.” He stated. “Should just let the NCR move in, they’d run this place right.”

He didn’t get an answer from the woman, and when he looked over he saw her passed out from exhaustion.

Rolling his eyes he continued working on the rifle.

It turned out ‘in the morning’ meant after a few days of resting and recovering from Zion valley, mainly lazing about the strip and Lucky 38, Anne at one point going to The Tops to do a bit of gambling, although got a slap on the back of the head when she came back missing two hundred caps. Twilight mainly read books they had collected in the Mojave and some already in the building while cuddling against her teddy bear.

But finally Anne decided they should actually do something if they wanted New Vegas to become independent.

“I think I should deal with the Great Khans, maybe you should do one of the others?” Anne offered. “There are so many we’d need to go through it all quickly otherwise it would be years before we’re done.”

“I guess I’ll probably go look at those ‘Boombers’ Yes Man was talking about, I have were they are on a map I’ll take with me.”

“And remember Twilight, look to see if you’d want them to be around once everything is said and done, I don’t want any assholes making it hard for everyone else around to ruin our day.”

Twilight nodded, slipping herself into her vet, strapping on her pistols to her legs and draping the rifle over her back, packing her pockets full of bullets, batteries and medical supplies for the trip ahead.

After a farewell the two head in different directions once leaving The Strip and heading towards the airfield that was on the map she was given.

She walked along the Strip proper, casting glancing looks at the large robotic monsters guarding the strip, knowing that each one had enough firepower to take on a dozen armed people and come out without a scratch. And she and Anne had almost full control of them. Even when she was a princess in Equestria she had the Royal Guard at her beck and call, but if she gave a crazy order they wouldn’t do it. But these things had no emotions, just blank killing machines, not caring if they were destroyed or who they need to target. The thought made chills go up the pony’s spine, making her uncomfortable.

Twilight groaned softly as she flopped herself down on the floor of the shack she had found. It had become night before she had reached the airfield and she didn’t feel like going for a night stroll through pitch black darkness knowing all the things that want to kill her out there, even if she used a light spell to guide her way she didn’t want to.

It was rather easy for her to set up a fire with her magic, just using some scrap wood around the shack and breaking it into chunks, using her horn to light them up. Twilight sighed sadly, she felt very alone, none of her friends around, no one knowing where she was. The thought of all that put the pony down, making her snuggle herself into a ball near the fire, shivering slightly from the cold as tears came to the corners of her eyes.

Lazily she reached into her discarded pack with her hoof, not being bothered to use her magic, before she pulled out a warn teddy bear, hugging it to her barrel tightly as she tried to calm herself down but she couldn’t.

Tears streamed down her face and impacted on the dusty and dirty floor and left small wet spots in the wood. She wanted to be home, she wanted to see her parents, she wanted her brother, her friends, her home. But now she was stuck in a place she could have never imagined, the horror present every hour of the day and even though Anne had helped her cope with the change it still wasn’t enough for her to be okay with everything. ‘I’m going to die here’ She thought to herself as she sobbed softly, eyes clenched shut tightly as she imagined the bear was someone she knew, like Celestia, holding her tight to keep her student safe and sound, telling her how she’s all good now, how nothing would happen to her.

But when she opened her eyes again she was just greeted with the dull eyes of the teddy bear in her hooves, dull plastic eyes looking up at her with a stitched on smile.

Twilight cried herself to sleep that night.

After a cold breakfast of Insta-Mash mixed with some dirty water she headed out, heading towards her objective of the Nellis Airforce Base. She came over the crest of a hill, seeing the large plains before her, large hangers not far in the distance with a large wire fence going all around. Between her and the buildings were the destroyed husks of houses, blast holes pocking the ground everywhere. Along the road headed towards the base Twilight spotted a sign reading in big red letters ‘BOOMERS’ and ‘Trespassers will be killed.’

“Friendly welcome…” Twilight muttered to herself, scanning around to look for any snipers around. How bad could getting in be?

She walked towards the fence, where she could see a gate to get inside, with guard towers scattered along the length.

Not wanting to get caught by a sniper she summoned a shield to make a wall in front of her, blocking any shots that may come towards her from the front.

Twilight got slightly worried when she hadn’t in counted any form of resistance or life around, only seeing the burned and scarred ground around her. Out of all the black and grey she spotted something of color, trotting her way over to it. She heard a dull thudding sound in the distance she picked up at red covered lump.

“What do we have here?” the pony mumbled to herself. When she realized what it was she dropped it with a splat and quickly stumbled herself back, dropping the detached arm to the ground. Only two fingers were still attached to the hand, the flesh shredded and mince, as if a grenade went off in its grip.

Before she could look around for the rest of the body she heard a loud whistling sound that quickly got louder and then painful. But it got even more painful for Twilight as the largest explosion she had ever seen went off right next to where she was standing.

Before she knew it she slammed against the foundation of one of the old buildings with a crack, knowing either one of her bones broke or the foundation did. She could barely get breath into her lungs, the wind getting knocked right out of her body.

She slowly got herself back onto her hooves as she heard the faint whistling sound again, her whole body feeling as if it were on fire. She let out a cry of pain as she put weight onto one of her hooves, collapsing back down to the gravel, letting out another yell of agony as she landed one what must be a broken wing. She slowly got back onto her three usable hooves but another explosion knocked her over, luckily a little further away so she didn’t go hurtling through the air again.

She looked over at her broken forehoof, jaw quivering as she saw how bent out of shape it was, along with the bloody and leaking holes that were going up along her hoof and out of sight along her neck.

She couldn’t focus on the pain anymore, just looking around in panic as she heard the whistling growing louder again. Twilight quickly lit up her horn, doing a quick teleport since she wasn’t able to focus on a long range one in all the pain.

She managed to get out of the way of the explosion, going off just where she was before. She could hear more whistling.

The purple pony princess knew she couldn’t keep jumping around using her magic, she had to get out of there before she was blown to bits like that last person was. She quickly started hobbling her way towards the fence, not thinking clearly from all the burning pain going through her body.

She forced a lazy shield around her body, hoping that it might be enough to protect her from any close blast to her as she staggered, wincing as she moved her broken leg. “J-just a bit f-further…” She gasped to herself as she limped.

Her shield was cut through like wet paper, her body getting flung several feet forward, her body collapsing to the ground as she felt more stinging along her back. She felt like she landed in a puddle, her back feeling wet with liquid dripping down off her body.

Getting to her hooves again slowly she continued towards the fence.

It felt like years before she managed to get to the fence, but it was only a few dozen feet away. She fell down to her rump, gasping for air as she tried to stay conscious.

“Hey!” A voice yelled out, the pony sluggishly looking around for who yelled. “How the hell did you get past that strike?!”

Twilight managed to see who it was by looking up a tower, seeing a man wearing a helmet and a black leather jacket, large metal tube over his should and pointed at her.

“Y-you did that?” Twilight asked weakly.

“I’ve heard about you on the radio, but we still don’t want you here, turn back.” The man warned angrily.

Twilight just looked at him blankly, her horn sputtering to life. The Boomer looked surprised as his rocket launcher was pulled out of his grip by an invisible force, looking at it worriedly as it pointed at him. Twilight didn’t know how it worked but she did know was big heavy things could be used for.

The man let out a yelp of surprise as he was hit across the head with the end of his rocket launcher, collapsing in a heap unconscious.

Twilight a groan Twilight dropped the weapon, body going limp as she sat there. “H-hopefully Anne is having a b-better time…”

Chapter 45

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“H-hopefully Anne is having a b-better time…”

Anne was in the middle of what she was doing when she and Twilight were at the NCR run Mojave Outpost, drugged out of her mind as she sat in a corner. It probably wasn’t a wise idea for her to go to the Great Khans, a gang known for its development of drugs when she herself had gotten addicted to Med-X with the amount of time she had used it.

She dropped another used needle to the ground next to her, dropping her head back against the rusty wall of the caravan she was sat in as she felt the pain killer work its magic on her body.

Without knowing the low her friend had gotten herself into, sitting in the dirt as she slowly gasped for air, her whole body aching so much. Weakly she reached into one of her pockets, fumbling with the needles inside. She didn’t bother what she grabbed, just dropping it all to the ground as she looked for a Stimpak needle. After finding one she carefully took hold of her shattered hoof, whimpering in agony as she made sure the bone wasn’t too bent out of shape.

Twilight groaned as she felt her hoof mend itself back together, along with the feeling of some of the rest of her body mending. She reached up to her brow, trying to wipe away the blood that had been leaking over her eye, but no matter how hard she tried to get rid of it she was only rewarded with pain. ‘Feels swollen shut’ she thought to herself as she grabbed another Stimpak and jammed it against her side, groaning again as she felt her back fix itself back up.

Slowly she stumbled herself to her hooves, wincing as she still felt sore. She looked over herself with her clear eye, making sure she had most of her things, although she wouldn’t have gone back out there to get herself blown up again if someone would pay her a million bits to do it again.

“Okay, I have pistols… Still have my horn…” She said to herself as she reached up to her head to feel the protrusion. “My wings…” She said looking over her shoulder at her wings. Her breath hitched in her throat when she saw her back.

She still had her left wing, although it was missing quite a few of the feathers. But her right wing was another story. For once she wished she could say it was horribly mangled but she couldn’t, mainly because it wasn’t there anymore, just a raw looking stump on her back next to her other wing. Her rump fell to the ground as she looked in shock at her back, her one good wing slowly stretching and retracting, as if she were trying to process what she was seeing.

“Hey!” A woman’s voice yelled out, drawing Twilight’s attention from her back. She was wearing a suit of combat armor with a helmet on her head. Strapped to her back was a large pack, something that reminded Twilight of that fire launcher that Anne had earlier, pointed right at the shocked pony. “Where’s the Sentry?” She asks looking around, gun not moving from the pony. She spots the unconscious man slumped in his tower, snoring softly.

“I'm Raquel, Master-At-Arms for the Nellis homeland. Mother Pearl, our Eldest, wishes to speak to you.” She said with a sigh, going over to the nearby fence, unlocking it and opening it wide. “Come one.”

Twilight stumbled slowly into the cabin she had been led into by the heavily armed woman, greeted by the barely lit interior except for the beams of light that came through the cracks in the boards that covered the broken windows. Inside was an old woman sat in a chair, old white hair short to her head. She was wearing a blue jump suit with the same leather jacket as the Sentry and a necklace of empty bullet cases.

The armed woman stood by the door, Twilight slowly approaching, still dazed at what was going on. “You took your sweet time getting here child.” The old woman said in a motherly voice, like one a grandparent would use to talk to a child. “I’ve been waiting five long years for an outsider to come along and visit.”

Twilight’s eye twitched slightly, taking deep breaths to calm herself down. “You didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet.” Twilight almost growled, she had her ability to fly stolen away from her. She hadn’t been flying for that long and now she had a chunk of her torn away. She was trying her hardest to stay civilized, she felt tempted to just leave and ask Yes Man if there was any way to wipe this place off the map.

“Those howitzers of ours aren't just for entertainment, child! Explosive ordnance is what keeps the savages at a distance.” Mother Pearl said standing up with a small groan from her old bones. “Except you! There's something special about you, child, and I’m not talking about you being a talking colorful horse, if I didn’t know better I would say my age is catching up to me.”

“You could have always… I don’t know, come out and said hi?” Twilight said gritting her teeth before taking a deep breath to calm herself down. “But I’m here because I’m going around looking at the different groups around New Vegas…” She stated.

“Well you couldn’t have come at a better time, my people need help.” The elderly woman said as she waddled her way towards a small box that was by a rundown looking kitchen in the cabin. Opening the box she pulls out two bottles of Nuka-Cola, walking back and holding one out for the pony.

Twilight took the bottle in her magic, popping the cap off before sliding it into her pocket. She took a deep drink of the beverage, enjoying the sugar filling her mouth and down to her belly, although she would have preferred it to be cold instead of room temperature.

“I’m willing to listen to what you have to say, although I’m still really upset about nearly blowing me up.” Twilight grumbled before she took another swig of her drink.

Mother Pearl sat herself back into the sofa, popping the cap of her drink before taking a small sip from the bottle. “Well Raquel could use help with the bug problem, Doc Argyll has wounded he's tending to, and Loyal and Jack might be looking for help with some repairs. Or you could just go see Pete at the museum and hear the story of our people. All you have to do there is listen.” She said before shrugging. “Come and go as you like, help or don't help, I leave it up to you. But I hope you'll show my youngers that not every outsider needs to be blown up.”

Twilight was kind of intrigued about the history of these people, what has made them so hostile to outsiders that they won’t even do so much as say hello before trying their hardest to kill them with massive explosions. “I’ll see what I can do…”

“You're the outsider! Mother Pearl sent word that you'd be stopping by. You must be eager to hear the story of our people!” The young boy said excitedly as Twilight entered the cylinder shaped building, looking around at the rusty metal walls.

But on one wall was a large mural painted on the metal, showing different images that Twilight could guess was about the history of the Boomers.

“Who are you?” Twilight asked as she looked along the painting.

“Me? I'm Pete, Keeper of the Story.” The boy said before adding. “I know I seem kind of young. I was the apprentice Keeper of the Story until a couple months ago, but ol' Keeper Don, well...” He hesitated. “Whiskey and land mines don't go together. So it's up to me. I bet you want to know everything about us!”

“Well I guess that’s true.” Twilight said looking back over to Pete.

“Wonderful! I'm sure you've noticed the mural on the wall of this hut. I’ll tell you what it’s all about!” He said before clearing his throat, going over to the far left of the painting to which there was a mountain with what looked like a large metal gear built into it with the number 34 painted in yellow on it. People were leaving the door and could be seen shooting fire at black figures around them.

“Ages ago, long before I was born, we lived underground. Everyone had guns but the overseer wouldn't let us explode anything, not even a hand grenade.” He said slightly disappointed. “We left and wandered the wastes. There were savages with knives. We blew them up with frag mines and grenades, burned them with flamethrowers. It was neat, but there was a downside. For every 43.6 savages we killed, we lost one of our own. We needed a new home. We needed Nellis.”

Moving further down the image Twilight saw what could only be the Nellis Air Force base, large pile in the middle which Twilight could only guess was weaponry. There were dozens of green figures within the walls of the base, safe from the outside where more black figures were being blown to chunks by firing artillery. “Nellis, glittering like shrapnel in the desert sun. Nellis, bursting with missiles, warheads, and bombs. Nellis had waited. Just for us. Here, we have prospered and multiplied. Here, our mighty guns destroy any savages who might try to harm us before they can even reach our gates!” He said before looking warily at Twilight. “Well, until... but... not saying you want to harm us or you're a savage, but... anyways…” He said before continuing.

Next part was a number of capsules in a circle, dream cloud above them with an image of the large winged carriages that Twilight had first seen when she had arrived in the Mojave. “Nellis has revealed many secrets. It has taught us how to fly the bombers once based here. And it has taught us where to find one!” He said before looking at Twilight. “And that is our story so far, for this last image is our future.”

The last image on the wall was one of a much large plane, this time not in a dream, it was dropping large black pellets down below at more black figures, almost hidden behind the massive explosions they were blowing them apart. “To restore the bomber, to fly the open skies in armored safety, raining high-explosive ordnance upon ignorant savages, this is our destiny!” He said with a pleased smile.

“I'm glad that you listened to the entire story! Perhaps there are details you'd like to know more about? Let me know.”

Twilight in fact had a fair few questions about the story she had just been told. “If you were safe underground why would you even want to leave to out here? It’s not really a nice place.”

“We lived inside a vault, ours was numbered 34. In our vault, everyone had guns, but the overseer wouldn't let you fire off any of the really fun ones. I guess all the little pops and bangs at the firing ranges just got boring after a while.” The boy said with a shrug.

“Those big guns seem like they wouldn’t have been here in the first place if this place is all about flying.” Twilight stated.

“They weren't here when we discovered Nellis. We found the guns at a huge weapon depot called Area 2, many miles from here. It took many weeks to drag the guns and their ammunition back to Nellis, and it was the last time any of us set foot beyond our homeland.”

“It’s kind of amazing that you were able to drag those things all that way out here.” Twilight stated. “You said you found out where this ‘bomber’ was located, how did you find out about that?” Twilight added pointing to the last picture in the painting along the wall.

“Loyal found a file somewhere on the base, with magazine articles, photographs, a map, even. It seems that a bomber, apparently the 29th of its kind, crashed in Lake Mead on July 21st, 1948. Just imagine, that's over 300 years ago. The photographs showed that it was basically intact, and the map tells us exactly where to find it. Except we haven't left Nellis in decades.”

“If it was at the bottom of a lake you could probably raise it with some ballasts attached to the sides. It would pretty much be like if you were doing it to a boat…” She said rubbing her chin in thought.

“Exactly!” The boy said with a large grin on his face. “Loyal was thinking of doing the exact same thing!”

“One last thing I want to ask is if you’re fully cut off from the outside world how have you been properly functioning all this time?” Twilight asked.

“Nellis is a completely self-sufficient community. We draw water from Lake Mead, solar arrays provide power, and we grow our own crops.” Pete explained.

“What about proteins? You’d need to cultivate soy or legumes for protein, in addition to grains to remain healthy without getting sick from malnutrition…”

“I didn’t expect a horse to be this interested in how our lives work…”

Chapter 46

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Twilight made sure her pistols were fully loaded as she approached the concrete building ahead of her. She had been warned that the bug problem she had accepted to take care of wasn’t just using a can of bug killer like she had hoped but instead it was gun power eating ants that had killed two and sent three into the hospital that the Boomers had, and that if she used lasers it would detonate and that wouldn’t be wise in a place they kept all their excess artillery shells.

She sighed sadly. ‘Wouldn’t be like I could use it anymore.’ She thought to herself. ‘I wouldn’t be able to fly to help aim anymore…’

Kicking an empty can along her path she shook it out of her mind. ‘Hopefully my eye’s swelling goes down soon, it’s getting hard with depth perception…’

She looked over the building she came to, seeing a heavy steel door with a large wheel lock in the middle with a key hole on it. After Slipping in the key and twisting it she heard a dull thud from inside the mechanism. Putting the key away again she took hold of the wheel on the front, and with a heavy twist of her magic the door retreated its way into the wall.

No sooner had she done that she was surprised as a giant ant dove its way to her with a small chitinous screech. With quick thinking she quickly threw herself to the side, quickly clambering to her hooves as she whipped out her .357 revolver and quickly took aim for the ant as it turned to look at her. Pulling back the handle she let off a shot with a bang, the hard shell of the ant doing very little to stop the bullet as it cracked through the exoskeleton of its head before it collapsed in a heap.

As she got to her hooves she could hear a faint clattering sound coming from inside the building, like a hundred tiny footprints crawling their way towards her. She looked at the large box attached to her back, tying to not look at her missing wing, along with the few speakers attached with it.

“I’m a sane man, I don’t drink or do any of that kind of junk.” The grouchy man that had been called Loyal. “So why am I even seeing a colorful horse asking me about a Sonic Wave Emitter that I haven’t even finished yet?!”

“Well, it wasn’t my choice to be here…” Twilight grumbled.

“It doesn’t matter, you can’t have the emitter; I haven’t figured out the right frequency to input yet.”

“Well, if they’re anything like ants where I’m from then any signal over 22,000 hertz at 150 or more decibels should do the trick.” Twilight said with a shrug.

Loyal looked taken aback. “Hot damn, you're right! It's a matter of boosting across those thresholds, not exact amplitude. You're smarter than you look horse. Just so happens I was testing it at 24,000 hertz, so it should be good to go. Place it near their nest and cross your fingers or... uhh, whatever a horse would cross. Signal's too high for people to hear, don’t know about you though, but it might make you feel sick to your stomach.”

With a sigh she looked forward again, greeted with the dark metal hallway of the underground power room. She could hear the hollow echoes every time she took a step, knowing that under her and the hall was just empty space, and for once she had no chance of being able to use her wings to slow or stop her fall.

She could hear more scuttling around as she slowly walked along, her pistol at the ready if she saw any more oversized ants.

She didn’t have to wait long before a pair of them came scuttling out from a doorway towards her, letting out small screeches as they went in for the kill.

Twilight quickly took aim with Benny’s Pistol, pulling the trigger in rapid succession and peppering one of the ants with bullet holes before it collapsed in a bloody heap, its ichor seeping onto the rusty metal. Twilight didn’t have time to reload for the next one, just whipping out Lucky and sending a bullet at its head. She was surprised when that’s all it took, as it collapsed to the ground near its fellow.

“The Changeling’s were never as creepy as you are…” Twilight muttered as she reloaded the 9mm first then the revolver. “At least they would normally go down in a strong buck…” She said as she moved forward.

She froze when she heard another screech, but this one was different. It was louder, shaking her to her core as she shivered in place. “I don’t like the sound of that…” She muttered to herself as she slowly walked forward again.

She heard screeching again but this time she yelped in fear and jumped back. The metal hall in front of her was sheared apart, a large mandible cutting through the steel like butter. A giant ant head shoved itself into the hall from below, black shiny eyes looking directly at Twilight before it spread its mandibles and shriek so booming that it knocked the pony off her hooves and stumbled her back. Twilight had her hooves slapped her hooves over her ears to try and block out the sound.

The head fell back below the floor, only a gaping metal hole left in the floor.

“NOPE!” Twilight yelled out, quickly taking the large metal box off her back and quickly started to try and set it up. “I AM NOT DEALING WITH THIS!” She yelled out, quickly scampering towards the door she had come from.

Before she could make it through and out the door the head of the giant ant burst from the floor again, this time ahead of her. Stumbling back she soon found her hooves come from the floor as the chunk of the hall was torn from the rest.

She was glad the fall wasn’t too large but it did cause her to slam against the rusty roof of the broken metal tube before crushing against the floor again as it hit the ground. She clutched her head, groaning as she looked through blurry eyes around at the mangled metal around her. She had dropped her guns and she could not see them anywhere around. The Sonic Emitter looked in bad shape but she hoped it still worked.

Reaching into one of her pockets she pulled out a stimpak, jabbing it into her leg to make sure that if the pain in her torso was in fact ruptured organs. Slowly she got to shaky hooves, quickly remembering the giant ant that could easily tear through metal.

She couldn’t see it but it wasn’t hidden for long. The giant head was forced against one end of the broken hallway, its mandibles snapping together loudly as they tried to reach the horrified occupant inside as if she was the last bit of fake meat in the bottom of a Cram tin.

She quickly ran out the other end of the hall, tripping over the corpse of a smaller half crushed ant. She was in a large concrete alcove, mold and cracks scattered along the surfaces around her; rust soaked machines lining the walls and stairways leading into the to the destroyed walkway above.

The giant pest there with her was a lot bigger now she got a good look at it. It was huge, the head easily bigger than her with each leg longer than a normal human’s size. She knew that there was very little chance of killing the thing. The shell would easily be too thick to be able to do much damage to it, even with explosives that she was told not to use considering they had been eating gun-powder. And unlike others this one had large see through wings.

Gripping a chunk of rubble in her magic she hurled it at the head of the ant, only getting rewarded with a small ‘tink’ sound as it bounced off its tough exoskeleton without any harm done to it, not even a scratch. “GO AWAY!” Twilight yelled at the ant before she started running in the opposite direction to the ant, hearing it start to follow after her soon after if the loud thumps were any indication.

She didn’t know where she could run, hear whipping around as she tried to look for any weapon she could use against such a massive beast. But before she could there was a large impact against her rump, sending her flying through the air before slamming against one of the crumbling concrete walls.

The wind was knocked out of her lungs as she fell to the ground, although it was softer than she thought it would be. Looking down she realized that she was currently on the corpse of a Boomer, one of his arms missing with a puddle of blood below him. Scratches were all over his body and tore up his clothes. Her head snapped towards the charging ant, going in for the kill.

Twilight grabbed the closest thing she could find, a large rifle with a very thick barrel before she pointed it towards the ant. She saw the angry looking beaver on the stock of the gun with the words ‘Thump Thump’ carved into it with an arrow pointed forward.

She didn’t really care about that much, just aiming it at the ant as it was reeling up to stomp her into paste before pulling the trigger.

‘THUD’

‘BOOM’

Twilight had to cover her face with her hooves as the ant exploded into large bloody chunks, even though she just hit the head. Even though the gun had a bigger impact than she thought she guessed that it was the gun powder it had been eating but didn’t really care at that moment, just wanting to get out of here.

Putting the grenade rifle onto her back next to her laser gun she carefully walked towards the metal husk that used to be a hallway, looking around and retrieving her pistols. Once they were found she was glad that they weren’t any worse for wear, keeping Benny’s pistol out just in case as she made her way to the sonic emitter. Plugging the speaker back into the main box of the emitter she turned the dial Loyal told her turned it on, hearing a faint high pitched screeching sound before wet meaty splats going off all around the place.

“Is it finally done?” She asked herself softly, hearing no other sounds. “I just want to get out of here…” She grumbled, the sound making her slightly sick feeling.

“I guess Mother Pearl was right about you, I don’t know how you managed to pull it off with no hands.” Raquel said adjusting the old pre-war helmet on her head. “We’ll send Loyal and some guys down to clear out the eggs but your work is done there. Speaking of Mother Pearl, she said that once you were done down there that she wanted to speak with you.”

Twilight hoped that it wasn’t more ants or any other bugs as she made her way towards the cabin she first met the Boomers’ leader.

Once inside she saw mother Pearl in a chair again, a bottle of Nuka-cola in her hand as she was relaxing. Another unopened bottle was on the small table in front of her.

“Welcome child, I’ve heard good things about you around Nellis.” The old woman said, gesturing towards the seat in front of her which Twilight sat down in with a tired groan, taking the bottle when it was offered to her.

“I’m just glad it wasn’t all done for nothing.” Twilight grumbled as she popped off the cap and put it into her pocket on the vest.

“You’ve done good by a lot of people here. You listened to her our history, gave us medication to help our wounded and even killed those ants.”

Twilight shivered as she remembered that massive queen underground. “When you said there was an ant problem I thought you meant just a dozen or so of the smaller ones, not the biggest one I’ve ever seen.” She said.

“Why do you think we lost people trying to fight while others were badly wounded?” Pearl asked.

Twilight took a long swig of her drink, feeling the warm sugar filled drink sooth her dry throat, enjoying the sugar in her mouth. “So, is everything done?”

“Not quite.” The old woman said. “Since you’ve gained our trust I think it’s time we put your value to the last test. Seek out Loyal and ask him about our people’s fondest dream. He’ll know what to do next.”

Chapter 47

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Twilight sighed tiredly, she had waited until the next day before she went out to help the Boomers’ with ‘getting the lady out of the water’ which she could gather just meant to get a weird sky carriage out of a lake so they could repair it.

But before any of that happened she managed to get an old cabin to herself to use for the night. But the pony found that being alone with her thoughts wasn’t the best of ideas, left just staring at her back and the little stump where her wing used to be. She stretched out and fluttered her one good wing, seeing the lack of familiar symmetry, the raw inflamed skin where her gift from the princesses when she ascended to being an alicorn. Now she would never be able to fly again, never feel the wind rustling through her fur as she soared above the ground.

Free.

Now, if she ever got home, would be viewed as a freak, missing her wing and covered in scars from all that had happened in the Mojave and Zion. Tears filled her eyes, feeling streams going down her cheeks and matting her fur.

She looked down at the ground, seeing the tears that had dripped off her muzzle but she also spotted some blood, catching sight as another drip fell off her cheek. Bringing a hoof to her cheek she looks at it as sees blood smeared against it.

Concerned but still crying softly she goes to the bathroom in the cabin she was in, going to the dirty and cracked mirror there.

She looked awful, nothing like she did when in Equestria. Her mane looked messy and oily, her fur matted with dirt and sweat. Heavy bags were under her eyes from the lack of sleep, a hole in her ear from the start of her journey. But one thing that drew her attention was her swollen eye. The flesh around the socket was raw and angry, but it wasn’t all covered up like she thought it was.

Using her hooves she tried to hold open her eye to get a better look, hissing in pain but managed to see the orb and when she did her breath caught in her throat. Her once bright purple eye had seemed to smoke over, just white and milky now with a faint gash going along the surface.

Twilight couldn’t hold herself up any more, just falling back to her rump as she stared in shock at the wall under the mirror, her mind breaking down. She knew that she would get hurt with all the stuff she had been doing, but she never considered the possibility of actually getting permanently hurt. It wasn’t bad enough to lose her wing, but now none of her friends back home would be able to look her in the face again.

Twilight buried her face in her hooves, blood and tears soaking her fur.

The princess left after lunch, barely able to get her to do anything as she went through a nervous breakdown. But she knew she had to get moving, if she did nothing there would be no chance of her getting back home.

Lake Mead, where the bomber had crashed, was a fairs way away from Nellis but she just wanted everything to be done with so she could go back to the Lucky 38 and hug Anne until the pony felt better, if that would ever be possible.

She had asked one of the Boomers about the new rifle she had found and was told it was a grenade rifle, although she didn’t have any more ammunition for it and didn’t know how to safely use it without blowing herself up in the process. Anne would probably love to show her how something that explodes works anyway.

She wasn’t a wiz in the medical field by any means but she knew that with a wound like her eye exposed would probably get infected if she didn’t look after it so she tied a bandaged over her head and eye so no germs would get in.

Nothing really happened on her way up to the lake but there she could see a small boat ramp that lead into the water with a harpoon launcher bolted to the concrete. There was also a broken looking warehouse and a little shack.

Loyal had given a map of the lake with the exact place the plane would be and she was fairly certain she swim out there and use her bubble to make a bubble around her head so she wouldn’t drown in the process.

She paused though as she heard a faint buzzing coming from the warehouse, hearing it get louder as she slowly pulled out both her pistols.

Without warning half a dozen dark flying bug with angry orange wings came darting in her direction. She let out an ‘eep’ of surprise at how fast they moved, firing wildly everywhere to stop them. She only managed to stop one, a lucky hit from her revolver hit the head of one bugs. Twilight got a clear look at it.

“Mantis, Ants, and now WASPS?!” She exclaimed as she quickly put a shield bubble around her before one of the wasps jabbed forward with its stingers, glancing off the magic. The other five quickly started trying to stab at the shield as well, splatters of poison going against its surface.

“NO!” Twilight shouted, shivering at the loud buzzing filling her ears. “I HATE THIS PLACE SO F-“ She stopped herself, she cared a lot about her human friend, but she would try her hardest to not have as a vulgar mouth as that woman.

The bugs started to screech out in pain as they all burst into flames, bodies falling to the ground as they wriggled and squirmed.

The pony huffed angrily, a small amount of smoke coming from her horn that she swatted away. “NEXT BUG I SEE I SWEAR TO CELESTIA I’LL TURN YOU INTO PULP!” She yelled out to any bugs that were listening, a scared family of little beetles hiding away from the goddess of death, going to warn all their buggy friends when it left.

Twilight grumbled to herself as she walked to the murky water’s edge. “Better not be any killed fish…” Twilight said as she dipped a hoof into the water, shivering at the coldness. “Well… I won’t get used to it until I’m fully in.”

Taking a few deep breaths to get herself ready she took a few steps back from running forward, jumping into the air towards the water. With a loud splash Twilight quickly brought her head above the water level, gasping for air as the coldness knocked the air out of her chest. “C-cold.” She shivered, her teeth chattering together.

After a few moments to get herself used to the temperature she noticed that the coldness felt nice against her wing stump, not realizing how much it stung in the first place.

Slowly she started to paddle her way through the lake, hoping nothing was under her and thinking about having some pony for a late lunch.

It took a while for her to get where she needed to go, taking a deep breath before pushing herself under the water. Once under her horn shined brightly and all the water was pushed away from her head and she let out a small sigh of relief that it worked. Looking down she spotted a dark shape beneath her, hoping that it was the plane and she wouldn’t have to go around all day trying to find something at the bottom of a lake.

But as she got closer the doubt left her mind and she could see the rusty and bolted metal, seeing the four large engines with broken propellers, cockpit with missing window with all the padding on the chairs rotten away.

Twilight would be surprised if anyone would be able to use this other than scrap metal but she wasn’t going to come all this way and not even try. Going underneath the wings she attached the uninflated ballasts that Loyal had given to her. Once she made sure they were all secure she swam her way back up to the surface, taking a breath of fresh air that wasn’t made with magic and felt stuffy.

She made her way back to the shore and the dock ramp, climbing her way out before she flopped down onto the hot concrete, sighing as she relaxed her sore muscles. “I’m going to sleep for a month once I get back home…” She said, catching herself when she realized she was referring to the Lucky 38. She didn’t want to have a home in the Mojave, or anywhere else on this planet. She wanted to go back to where she were born, where all her friends and family are.

Trying to put her mind off it she reached into her bag and pulled out a small trigger, much like the one that was given to Anne and herself in Zion to collapse the tunnel. Flicking off the guard she clicked the lever down, hearing what sounded like a small explosion under the water. A large amount of bubble quickly rose to the surface where the plane was followed by the plane itself breaking the surface, one wing hanging at a broke angle but still attached to the main hull.

“Surprised it even got up in one piece…” The princess muttered to herself before sighing to herself. “Guess it’s back to Nellis to tell them my work is done…”

“I didn’t think it would work but that plane is now floating on the surface.” Twilight stated to Loyal.

“That’s tremendous news, I’m surprised you were able to do it at all considering you have no opposable thumbs.” The old man said. “You’ve really helped us out. Ever since I was a young man I dreamed about bringing the lady out of the water. Go tell Pearl the good news!”

Twilight sighs tiredly.

“The plane is on its way back over here.” Twilight said blankly, hoping that she had done all that these people expected her to do.

“What you have done for us is a miracle, child. You have fulfilled the only dreams we ever had outside our walls. You are a trusted friend of us all. If there is ever a way for us to help you, child, tell me and I will make it so.” The old woman says happily, ruffling the mane of the pony much to her annoyance.

Twilight had a thought in her head at what the woman said though. “Well, there might be a battle in the future in the Mojave, it would be nice to have support from a group of people with a stockpile of explosives.

The woman’s face lit up. “Of course child, after all you’ve done to help we’d love to help you in an upcoming fight. In fact, the children would relish the opportunity to put their skills to use in a battle.”

“So… Is everything done? Don’t need any more help from me?”

“You’ve done enough child, you can come and go as you please, the spotters have been told not to fire upon you if they see you approaching.”

Twilight groaned tiredly as she stumbled through the large doors of the Lucky 38, not even bothering to be neat as she dropped her back next to the elevator, knowing nothing would get stolen considering there were half a dozen upgraded secruritrons around and that no one else was allowed into the building besides her, Anne and Boone.

Going up the elevator she headed to the presidential suite, stumbling out tiredly but fell back when she hit something hard and metal. Hearing a clunk as what she hit impacted to the floor. It was a large metal ball, a few thin metal protrusions coming from the back with a blank metal grill on the front. The metal was dull and scratched up with a few old stickers with ‘My child is an HONOR STUDENT at Roosevelt Academy’ and a license plate with the characters ‘2ED-E59’ although the numbers were worn away to the point to almost being unreadable.

Twilight was looking at it in confusion as it floated off the ground and seem to shake itself as if clearing its head.

It let out a high pitched beeping sound before it quickly started flying away, banging into a door to open it as it ran away from the pony. Twilight just sat on the floor in confusion at what happened.

Boone poked his head out of one of the rooms. “Eh, so you’re back are you?” He said. “That bot was brought back by Anne, think she fixed it up or something like that.”

“Is… Anne around?” Twilight asked standing her way back up.

“Oh crap, you look like shit.” Boone noted, seeing her glassed over eye and missing wing.

“Just… Don’t talk about it…” Twilight grumbled sadly.

Boone didn’t say anything for a moment before sighing. “Anne came back not long after she left. Said she was able to convince the Khans to leave peacefully. After that she did some stuff around the Strip. Apparently the White Gloves were cannibals and the Gomorrah were planning on staging a coup on the Strip.” He said.

Twilight’s eye twitched. “Anne did all that and all I managed to do was one group?” Twilight asked through clenched teeth.

“Pretty much.” Boone stated. “Last I saw her she was down at the Old Mormon Fort getting some medical supplies for us. She somehow got through two dozen needles of Med-X. It’s as if she purposely getting herself hurt for new scars.”

“I’m going to go pass out on a bed, tell her to come see me when she comes back.” Twilight said tiredly as she waddled away towards one of the rooms. “Night Boone.”

“It’s barely the afternoon…”

“I DON’T CARE!’

Chapter 48

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Twilight woke with a yawn, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hooves. She winced as she touched her tender eye, quickly pulling her hoof away from the pain. Grumbling she got off the bed, having not even bothered to get under the covers. Leaving the bed room she made her way towards the small dining room the suite had, grabbing a box of something called Fancy Lad Snack Cakes along with a clean bottle of water that was in a broken fridge.

After shoveling down the sweet and stale foods that crumbled in her mouth before chugging down half the bottle of water to follow it. “BOONE!” Twilight yelled out, feeling too sore to even bother getting out of her seat.

“WHAT!?” A voice called back from elsewhere in the suite.

“HAS ANNE COME BACK?!”

“NO! SHE SHOULD STILL BE IN THE FORT!”

Grumbling, Twilight put the lid on her bottle as she sat back in her rickety wooden chair with a creak. “IMMA GO OUT AND GET HER IN A BIT!”

“I DON’T CARE!”

The purple pony princess left just before midday, heading towards the old fort in Freeside. She knew where it was as her and Anne had passed it many times while being around New Vegas.

The castle looked old, its dull light brown stone bricks crumbling with age but still looked strong enough to stay standing for hundreds more years. She went up to the old wooden door, which had definitely been replaced in the past few years, before pushing on it firmly with her front hooves.

Inside was rather bland.

There were a number of dusty and old looking tents with tables and chairs scattered around with people sitting and/or eating on. There were tired and dirty looking people being helped by kind looking people in lab coats, there were sick and hurt being cared for. There were a few guards around but they didn’t look threatening, more there just in case anything went wrong but not much more than that.

She was looking around but couldn’t find or see Anne anywhere.

Going up to a woman in a lab coat and a thin Mohawk on her head. “Eh? Oh are you that horse that I’ve heard about on the radio and around the fort?” She asked tilting her head to the side.

“Probably…” Twilight said with a shrug. “Right now I’m just trying to find a friend of mine, I was told that she had come here yesterday. She’s a woman, white hair, scar above her right eye.” Twilight said trying to describe her friend.

“I think I know who you’re talking about. Yeah she’s here, she came in yesterday asking about if we would take in a new member, a Great Khan who loved to read. But she was so messed up we offered to help her and although she was against it at first she’s now recovering in the tent over there.” The woman said pointing over to one of the closed canvas tents.

Twilight’s eyes widened. “Anne’s in trouble?! She’s hurt?!” Twilight yelps out in panic, jumping up on the woman and taking hold of her collar. The woman managed to keep standing up but now had a pony face.

“She’s not hurt. Well not really anyway.” The woman said trying to calm Twilight down. “She was hooked on Med-X, you could tell just by looking at her how fucked up she was. She wanted some more and since we actually want to use our stuff to help people we wouldn’t let her. She got a bit violent and we had to restrain her. We’ve been giving her fixer and a set of things to help get her over her addiction.”

Twilight let go, landing on the ground in shock. Her friend was going through a problem and she didn’t have a clue or notice it. She buried her head in her hooves, tears building up in one of her eyes while blood in the other.

“I-I didn’t know…”

The woman kneeled herself in front of the pony, resting a hand on Twilight’s shoulder. “It can be hard to tell sometimes. She probably didn’t want you to worry about her, she didn’t know how much of a problem she had was.” She said solemnly. “She’s strapped down to one of the beds in that tent. She’s free to go whenever you want to take her, we just didn’t want her to try and steal our medical supplies. We can give you some fixer for her, it’ll help with the withdrawal, but you cannot let her have any more painkillers, if she kept going at the rate she was taking them she would probably be dead sooner rather than later…” She said before standing up. “If you need me I’ll be around.” She said.

Twilight wiped her eyes and looked over towards the tent that was gestured at.

Going in through the tent flap she spotted two people inside. A bored looking mane with blond hair, bent glasses and a lab coat sat in a chair reading a book. He had an angry looking black eye where his glasses were bent. The other person was Anne. The state she was in left the pony is shock. She had her stuff in a neat pile in a corner of the tent but she could tell that was done by someone else. She was tied down to a gurney with leather belts, one on both her wrists and ankles. She was only wearing bare minimum clothing with no blanket. With the amount she was sweating even with the cold air she seemed to be overheating. She had deep bags under her eyes, and although her eyes were half closed her pupils were wide. Her hands and feet were twitching faintly and they curled and gripped the dirty bed under her.

Twilight saw the state she was in but what really took her aback were the large number of scars over her body, many looking painful even after they healed over. There were horrible burns along her chest and neck, many gunshots along her whole body, one of her feet were torn up with more scar tissue than actual flesh from when she stepped on a mine. She looked horrible.

“You’ll find she isn’t one to hold a good conversation right now.” The man said idly as he turned a page, never looking up from his book. “She’s going through withdrawal right now and isn’t going to be thinking clearly.”

“What… Happened to her?...” Twilight asked in shock, she didn’t want to believe her friend had gotten this hurt while she was with her even though the pony herself was in quite a state as well.

“She came in like that.” He said flatly.

Twilight didn’t know what to say, just sitting there on the floor as she looked at her shell of a friend as she looked at the roof of the tent, not having any reaction to what was going on around her. “Is… There anything you can do?” Twilight asks hopefully but from what the other woman said they had already done what they could do.

“I’m not a doctor, just a researcher.” He said, not really seeming to care about his job.

“What are you researching?” Twilight asked, trying to drag her eyes away from the form of her friend.

“Oh, you know. Finding alternative treatments for common illnesses and injuries. Stimpaks out of barrel cacti and other fantastic improbabilities. As far as fruitless wastes of time go, it's quite noble in its aims.” He says with a shrug as he closed the book he was reading.

“You don’t seem too happy about it, why aren’t you healing people then?”

“Not all Followers are ‘people persons’. Besides, someone needs to do research. I have no problem with Julie sticking me back here. Out of sight, out of mind. There are worse things one can be, though I do admit, it is a bit boring. Though it has a noble goal, I don't think this research will yield much fruit. No pun intended.”

“Why stick around then? We could always do with another member of our friendship group…” Twilight asked.

“I’m having a hard enough time comprehending a purple unicorn in front of me as it is right now, don’t know if I’d really follow you around, epically after your friend gave me a mean right hook last night and broke my glasses.” He stated.

Twilight’s horn glowed brightly, the same glow surrounding the belt glasses and after a few moments it bent its way back into its normal position, the crack going along the lenses seeming to fade away and soon the glasses looking like they were brand new. Taking the spectacles off the man looks them over in surprise and confusion. “Well I’ll be, I must have really took a harder hit than I thought to the head…” He said.

“We have members of our group who know different things. We have Boone, who’s a sniper. We have a robot thing ball that I don’t know what it’s called. There’s me, who is, well, me. And there’s Anne…” Twilight said looking over at her immobile friend in worry. “We… Could always do with a proper person with a science background like myself.”

“You? I didn’t think a horse would understand science.”

“I’ll have you know that I was trained by some of the best minds in Equestria, Princess Celestia included.” Twilight said with a huff.

“You do know that I have no clue what any of that means right?” He asks before sighing. “Fine, I’ll go along with you but I want to make one thing perfectly clear. If you plan to help Caesar's Legion, this is going to be a brief relationship. I may not have all the answers for how to fix Freeside's problems, but Caesar taking control isn't part of the solution. Fair?”

“You won’t need to worry about that, I have no intention to help that… man…” Twilight said, her face twisting into one of disgust.

“For someone as skinny as your friend here you’d think she’d be a lot lighter.” The man that introduced himself as Arcade Gannon said as he dragged the limp form of Anne through the large doors of the Lucky 38, the woman being covered in some dirty sheets to try and cover some of her remaining dignity.

“Try carrying all her stuff, I didn’t realize how heavy her stuff is. I have no clue how she drags all this stuff around every day without seeming to get affected by it in the slightest.” Twilight groaned, a pile of guns strapped to her back along with a different type of armor Anne must have picked up along with weapons Twilight had never seen before.

“I wouldn’t know.” Arcade grumbled as they managed to get into the elevator and pressing the button for the presidential suite.

The door opened with a soft ding sound, the small group making their way out of the moving platform. “I would have expected this place to be a bit cleaner on the inside, it looks like the carpet is mostly covered in mold.” Arcade observed as he hauled Anne onto the main bed of the suit, groaning as he stood up and stretched his sore back.

Twilight dumped all the stuff at the end of the bed and fell to the floor on her stomach. “I’m going to slap Anne so hard when she gets through this.” Twilight grumbled.

Her pouting was interrupted as she heard a quick number of beeps before the weird Ball Bot shot through the open doorway and floated next to Anne, nudging her with its face plate.


“An Eyebot?” Arcade said, looking slightly concerned. “It would probably be a good idea to get rid of that thing, you don’t know if you say something that would set it off to go kill crazy.” He warned as he took a step back from the little ball.

“I’m not going to do anything about it until Anne wakes up, I don’t know if it’s important in some way I don’t know of yet.”

Chapter 49

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It took two days before Anne became coherent again, and it took another day before she realized trying to get Med-X from her friends and Gannon was useless. Twilight ended up having to lock Anne into the bathroom for a few hours at one point with how she was acting and casting a soundproofing spell to get rid of her yelling through the door.

But eventually she calmed down, although she didn’t look that well at all, still looking greasy and constantly tired. The Fixer helped her go through things, most of the withdrawal getting lowered, meaning she only ended up feeling awful constantly instead of constantly barely able to function.

She had learned about the robot from Anne when she wasn’t trying to sleep that it was called E-DE or Eddie as she nicknamed it from the letters on the license plate welded to its side that seemed to be used to block up a hole in the hull.

Even though she knew that there was no life in the flying ball she couldn’t help but find it cute in the way it acted and the little beeping sounds it made.

Gannon had Twilight a little more entertained. While she was friends with Anne she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed while the new member of their crew was a lot smarter and allowed the pony to have more scientific conversations. She probably learned more about the world around her in the past few days than the weeks she had been with Anne.

Although things started out slowly Anne and Gannon had become good friends, finding that they had a lot in common, although it drove Anne insane, now having two hyper smart people pointing out her mistakes in painstaking detail.

“I just need to go to Goodsprings…” Anne grumbled as she started strapping her new armor to her body. It was a prewar body armor used by the military, looking more like a hardened plastic instead of a metal that Twilight had to get explained about by Gannon to know that they were save. She slung a pump action shotgun over her shoulder, pockets filled with different types of shells to fit into any situation that it was needed.

“I’m not sure I trust you by yourself yet Anne.” Twilight said firmly as she was sat on a couch, reading through a book idly.

Shoving her 10mm pistol and the pistol ‘A Shining Light’ into their thigh holsters along with the clips into pouches on her armor. “I’m going Twilight, I need to repay them after the help they gave me… I’ve finally gotten enough caps spare to help them…” The woman said solemnly as she packed her bag with food, water and medication, which was just Stimpaks and rubbing alcohol, since no one trusted her with something she could get addicted to when she hadn’t fully kicked her already bad habit.

“You’re not going Anne.” Twilight stated looking from her book.

“I’ll go with her.” Boone said as he stood up from a chair, putting his sunglasses on his face. “I’ll make sure she doesn’t do anything stupid.”

The princess looked unsurely up with her one eye. “As long as you don’t take your eyes off her you two can go.” Twilight said after a few moments, sighing tiredly.

“Calm down Cyclops, I’ll be fine.” Anne said with a smirk.

The smirk turned into a look of panic as a coffee table was lifted up and thrown towards her.

Twilight grumbled through the bandanna she had over her muzzle to stop the sand storms from choking her to death, wearing a pair of goggles to stop it from getting into her eyes. She didn’t want to know what it felt like to have sand blown into her still healing eye socket.

The bulky metal collar also didn’t help with the sand that kept getting into it and rubbing against her flesh like sandpaper. Gannon didn’t look happy either, although it was mostly hidden behind his own bandanna and glasses. “AND I THOUGHT THE BOOMERS WERE BAD!” Twilight yelled over the howling wind of the Hidden Valley.

“THEY WERE ALWAYS SHUT INS!” Gannon shouted in reply as they move all but blindly.

“I DON’T THINK WE SHOULD EVEN HELP THESE PEOPLE ONCE THEY TAKE THESE COLLARS OFF!” Twilight yelled as they tried to find one of the many bunkers that the NCR Ranger was camped out in.

“I THINK I SEE A DOOR!” Gannon yelled as he tapped Twilight on the back and pointed over at the dull rusted metal hatch built into a sand covered hill.

The two started to shake the sand from their hair once they were in cover and closed the door behind them. Twilight pulled the bandanna off of her muzzle and allowed it to hang around her neck as she looked around.

They were in a hall that lead downward deeper underground, blinking lights flickering and still working after hundreds of years of use. They move down slowly to another door deeper down and when they open it and step through they here the rack of a gun bolt and Twilight feels something cold and metal shoved into the side of her neck.

“Don’t move you Powder Ganger!” A man yelled. “You thought you could sneak up on me?”

Twilight slowly turned her head to look at the man. He had a wide brimmed hat on his head, sunglasses over his eyes even though it was dark underground. He wore what looked like normal clothes and not something that would be worn by an NCR Ranger.

“Calm down, we’re not Powder Gangers.” Twilight said as she looked at the man with her eye.

“That’s just what a Powder Ganger would say!”

Twilight just sighed, her horn glowing brightly before the service rifle jammed into the side of her neck was yanked out of the man’s grip and flipped it around to point at him.

“Woah there, got some claws on you…” He said taking a step back. “I was just joshing you.”

“That’s the best way to get yourself shot by people you don’t know by doing that.” Twilight stated flatly as she floated the rifle back over to the ranger.

Gannon slowly slipped his plasma pistol back into its holster.

Twilight looked around the small underground room that the ranger had holed up in. There were supplies on a rusty metal shelf, a bed roll next to some boxes and a chunky looking radio on an old metal crate.

“Is it just you here?” Twilight asked.

“Standard practice. Rangers operate on our own most of the time. And that's how we like it. Usually we call in our positions to McCarran to be relayed to other rangers, but I can handle myself. I'm sure as hell not going to lose any sleep on account of a goddamn broken down radio. But it will shorten my stay if I can't fix it.” He stated looking over at the radio.

Twilight felt a niggling in the back of her head that told her to just shoot the ranger and be done with it. Twilight was horrified that the thought went through her head and decided that she would try her hardest to stop this peacefully without bloodshed, even if it pissed off the Brotherhood of Steel.

“This probably isn’t a good place to make camp.” Twilight said idly as she went over to the radio, looking it over.

“And why’s that?”

“Well the Powder Gangers like to use this place as a safe house every so often.” Twilight lied, hoping it would work.

The man looked at Twilight for a few moments and the pony thought he didn’t by the lie until he said. “You've seen that with your own two eyes?” He asked to which the pony started quickly nodding. “Goddamn, I knew Cooke's gang passed through these parts 'bout that frequently, but I didn't know they holed up here. Be a rude awakening, to find fifteen of those merciless bastards looking down at me snoozing on my bedroll. Yep, I'd be better off setting up an ambush along one of their routes to catch stragglers. Thanks for the information. You may've saved my life.” He said as he went over to the bed roll and started rolling it up and started shoving it onto a pack in the corner.

“No worries, just wouldn’t stick around too long.” Twilight said, internally sighing with relief.

Twilight rubbed her hoof over the sore area where the collar once was, not removed by the people who first put it on. “Let’s just go back to the Lucky 38, I have no want to help those people any further.” Twilight stated as she looked over her shoulder at the howling sand storm that seemed to just be in the valley behind them, stopping at the fences.

“Won’t hear any complaints from me about that.” Arcade said as he took off his glasses and started trying to get the sand off them so he could see more clearly.

“They’re even more hostile to outsiders than the Boomers were.” The princess grumbled.

“They’ve always been like that since they were first founded.” Gannon said. “They started off up West with a bunch of pre-war heavy military members. When the Great War happened they took it onto themselves to horde all technology for themselves. Most think they are inbred since outsiders aren’t welcome.”

Twilight grimaced slightly. “They have to know about genetic diversity, you can only go so long without a new set of DNA put into the system, that’s how birth defects occur…”

“I doubt they really care what other people think about them.” Gannon said. “Did you notice how few of them were in there? They’re dying, and after the fight they had at Helios One with the NCR they’ll barely last another generation going the way they’re going.”

“I need to do some research about all that, I haven’t heard about Helios One before, or much on the Brotherhood in general.”

“You might not know it but you’ve probably seen Helios before, it’s a giant tower with solar collector panels on top with a bunch of reflectors around.” Gannon noted.

Twilight tried to remember if she had seen anything like that on her journeys and although she does remember a large tower Anne and her passed but she couldn’t be sure if that was the one that Gannon was talking about.

Twilight sighed tiredly as she leaned against the railing of the balcony of the Lucky 38 bar area that was up at the top of the roulette wheel style building. A small glass of Nuka Cola and whisky mixed together was hovering next to her head as she looked over the dry and decollate landscape of the Mojave wasteland.

Taking a sip from her sweet drink she sighed tiredly.

“Quite the view isn’t it?” Gannon asked walking past E-DE who was floated by the door to go back inside the bar. “You’re probably one of the first to see it in the past two hundred years.”

“It reminds me where I grew up…” Twilight says solemnly.

“Talking about that Canterlot place right?” Gannon asks as he leans against the railing next to Twilight.

“Yeah…” The princess said as she floated over the bottle of whiskey she used to the man.

He waved it away. “No thanks.” He said looking back over the Mojave. “You sure the spell you used to get here wouldn’t work the same way back?”

“If it did I would have left a lot earlier.” Twilight mumbled. “Something went wrong with the spell, or the power levels were off.” She said. “I had all the other princesses with me, giving me power to help with the spell, I’d never have that amount of magical energy myself to make the return spell back if I ever come up with the right spell at all that doesn’t send me in between our two planets…”

“What about hooking yourself up to the power grid of the Hoover Dam? That outputs a hell of a lot of electricity.” Gannon asks.

“It would be like trying to power the laser rifle with a wood fire. Even though both are a form of energy they aren’t interchangeable.” Twilight explained sadly.

Before anything else could be said E-DE made a few beeping sounds and turned around to look at the elevator just as it opened to show a tired looking Boone as he staggered inside, dropping his rifle on a couch. Seeing the two he made his way over.

“How was your trip?” Twilight asked the sniper.

“It…” He said unsurely. “It didn’t go quite what would be thought.”

“What do you mean by that?” Twilight asked, her eyes narrowing.

“Well…”

“Isn’t it odd that an old pre-war satellite would crash in such a place that it could shine a projector directly at an old movie screen?” Anne asked as she leaned against a husk of an old car, ignoring the skeletons inside.

“I don’t really care.” Boone stated as he looked at what was playing on the screen.

There was a large open blue eye, twitching around as if looking around for something, altogether it creeped the ex NCR sniper out.

“Well what goes up must come down eh?” Anne asked going over to the downed satellite before giving it a tap with her boot.

Without warning a loud whirring sound came from the machine, a deep blue hue surrounding the woman as she looked around in confusion. “What’s going on?” She asked in worry as the Sniper pulled out is rifle, looking around for an attacker.

“I don’t know!”

“I don’t think anyone is attacking us Bo-“ Anne said before with a bright flash she disappeared, not so much as a hair left on the ground where she once was.

“Shit…” Boone said looking where the woman once was. “Twilight is going to kill me…”

Chapter 50

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“I swear to Celestia that if anything happened to her I’ll rip her head off!” Twilight yelled as she stormed out through the front gates of New Vegas, her gear fully strapped to herself as she had three very concerned followers, or as concerned as a floating robot ball could be.

“It couldn’t have been too bad…” Boone said, for once the hardened NCR sniper was actually fearful for things.

“You’re lucky I don’t rip your head off!”

Although a bright orange pony with a mane of flames tended to put people on edge as they went storming along through Freeside.

“It’s either she’s dead or she’s not.” Gannon tried to reassure. “It didn’t sound like she was hit by laser or plasma, which would leave goo or dust behind…”

“There is much worse than just being dead.” Twilight said through gritted teeth. “Who knows what tortures she could be going through?!”

“ARE THOSE PENISIS WIGGLING ON ITS FEET?!” The large rounded tank with the pickled brain of a human inside yelled out through its broken voice box, three large screens on thin arms moving around, two with eyes and one with a mouth.

Anne looked down at the ‘penisis’ on her feet, looking at her bare feet with the scarred up foot and the normal one. She had nothing on besides a hospital gown, even her once steel grey hair was fully shaved away to expose angry looking scars on the back of her scalp.

“I believe those are toes, Dr. Klein. Little teddy bear toes. Penises are much larger than those tiny extremities... Eh, not that I would know.” A second floating brain said in a low feminine voice, the eye screens larger than others as if staring.

“I don't recall the human penis ever being… that large” Another stated.

“It depends on one's own frame of reference, Doctor O. Look at its little nose with its two orifices for ingesting oxygen.” The second said again, looking at Anne intently.

“NOSES? BY THE GREAT STATIC, THESE LOBOTOMITES CONFOUND ME WITH THEIR SHEER NUMBER OF USELESS EXTREMITIES.” The first yelled out, seeming to be its normal tone in conversation.

Anne just sat herself down on the ground, all the screens watching her intently as she cupped her head in her hands.

“It finally happened…” She mumbled to herself. “I lost my mind…”

They managed to calm Twilight down before they got to the place that Anne went missing, stood around the large broken and twitching satellite as if once alive.

“This is the thing you were talking about?” Twilight asked looking over at the sniper.

“Yeah…” he said unsurely, taking a step back from the thing.

Twilight went over to the twitching machine, looking it over and looking to the screen that the lens were pointed at. After a few moments she tapped it with her hoof and when nothing happened she tried again. “And that’s what she did?”

“Yeah…” He repeated.

Twilight waited for a few moments before Gannon spoke up. “Maybe we have to wait for night as well?”

Twilight tapped it with her hoof again and when nothing happened yet again she groaned in annoyance. “Great. Guess we should set up shop for the night.”

“Do you… have any… Threes?” Gannon asked looking up at Twilight.

“Go fish.” Twilight responded. The humans wanted to play something like Blackjack but Twilight said she didn’t want to do anything like gambling considering how much Anne had lost in the casinos around the strip.

Boone did not look like he was having fun, he would much rather be stripping down his gun and cleaning it but Twilight had demanded that they all spend some time bonding together.

Although E-DE just hovered next to Twilight, soft jazz from the radio coming from the little eyebot.

“It should be about time to try the thing again.” Boone stated putting his cards down, looking over at the downed satellite as it shined the twitching eye on the screen again.

Twilight sighs, every hour she gave the machine another little kick to see if it does anything. Going over again she doubted it was going to work but she let out a yelp of surprise as a bright glow burst around her and the edges of her vision got fuzzy. “This what happened?!” Twilight yelled over the humming sound to Boone.

“Pretty much.”

“Doesn’t look like weaponry, is it a teleporter?” Arcade asks in confusion.

Twilight was about to note that it felt a bit like when she uses her teleport spell but was never able to before everything went white.

Twilight sat up with a soft groan, going to rub her eyes but wincing at the pain of the missing one. Slowly her vision became clearer and the blur left. She was in the dirt in front of what seemed to be a huge dirty white dome with light blue lights blasting into the sky. The princess could see many different buildings around, a few just blocky concrete ones but there were a few massive satellite dishes around. There were large pipes going through the hardened dirt, some big enough that Twilight guessed a carriage could get driven through them without scraping the edges.

“Where… am I?” Twilight asks herself in confusion, looking around for anything of note.

She saw a group of three people waddling along together, each wearing dirty blue medical gowns with weird head harnesses strapped to their skulls. Each had different weapons, one had an axe that looked as if the blade was made of blue light, one had a power fist that seemed to be slicker and light blue color, and the last had a caravan double barrel shotgun.

“Hello?!” Twilight called out as she got to shaky hooves, it felt as if when she was teleported it put her insides in the wrong places.

The three people turned at the pony, large goggles covering their eyes. And before the princess could say anything else the one with the gun took aim and fired both barrels. But since they were so far away not a single pellet hit the pony. He started to reload his shotgun but dropped one of the shells to the dirt below him.

The two others started to run at Twilight, who just looked at them in confusion as one of them tripped over and stabbed himself in the chest with the blade of the axe and went still while the other just ran at the pony like his arms had no bones in them.

Unsurely the pony pulled out Lucky from the holster on her leg, taking aim at the one running at her and before she even pulled the trigger two rapidly following bangs rang out as the shotgun guy fired at Twilight but didn’t take into account for his buddy being in-between him and his target.

Twilight just watched as the one with the fist collapsed to the floor in front of her and she noticed the horrid looking scars going along his scar and back where the gown doesn’t cover. Twilight had no clue what was going on, just aiming at the one with the gun as he tried to load in the shells backwards before pulling the trigger.

With a splat the top of the skull of the man exploded into a shower of bone and a bit of blood but Twilight was concerned at the lack of anything else. Hesitantly she approached the one body she made and looked over the hole in the top of the skull.

Twilight had to do a double take at what she saw.

There was nothing, no brain. And while she understood shooting someone in the head could cause the brain to get shredded but with this there was nothing, no little bits or even a brain stem, just an empty shell.

“What is going on here?” Twilight asked herself in real confusion.

Before she could look around nay more a beam of red light shot right past her muzzle, singeing the fur on her nose. Quickly she whipped her head to the side to where the laser came from and saw a bright red person wearing a grubby glass sphere on his head, nothing visible from how dirty it was, bony hands fumbling with the weapon.

It sent another ray of death in the direction of the pony and without much thought she took aim at the glass bowl surrounding’s his head. Pulling the trigger twice the first one punched a hole right through the glass at where Twilight guessed the head was while the second shattered the glass.

Twilight paused as it staggered back slightly but soon started shooting again. What she was greeted with inside the suit was a dirty old looking skull with a hole through the dry bone. She realized that it wasn’t just thin looking hands, they were actually just bone.

In slight fear she unloaded her pistol at the target, holes just punching through with cracking sounds as bones inside broke and shattered. When it still didn’t go down and Twilight didn’t want to risk the time reloading just pulled out Benny’s pistol and started firing at the suit.

One bullet seemed to get lucky and the suit seemed to deflate its life and collapsed, bone visible pressing against the rubber of the insides.

“What have you gotten me into this time Anne?” Twilight grumbled as she quickly reloaded her pistols.

“EQUINE! WE CAN SEE YOU THROUGH OUR SUPER SCIENCEY CAMERAS AROUND THE MOUNTAIN!” A loud voice started booming out from every direction, making Twilight looking around in search for the voice’s owner. “COME TO THE DOME IN THE MIDDLE, NOT THE STUPID ONE ON THE EDGE RUN BY EVIL DOCTOR MOBIUS!”

Twilight unsurely looked towards the large dome that was just next to her, and the one in the distance which was almost the exact same but red lights instead of blue.

“IN OTHER NEWS, LOBOTOMITE, COME BACK TO THE DOME! YOU HAVE COLLECTED ALL THE TECHNOLOGY WE NEED!”

“What is going on…?”

Twilight slowly walked through the dark metal halls of what she assumed was the dome she was wanted to go into, the lights barely doing anything to illuminate. Soon she entered what she assumed was the main part of the dome considering that there was nowhere else this open in the building she entered. It looked like it was more set up to be dramatic, although it was over the top.

There were five floating balls with glass tops of different colors floating over spotlights in the middle of the massive room. Each had a trio of screens held on lanky metal arms, two eyes and a mouth on each screen but each robot had different sizes of screens. And inside the glass tanks were brains floating in a thick looking clear liquid.

“I SUPPOSE IT COULD PUT YOU BACK TOGETHER, BUT YOU WOULD NEED TO GET YOUR BRAIN BACK FIRST FROM DOCTOR MOBIUS!” The one in the middle yelled at a bold person facing away from the pony, familiar angry scars she saw on the brainless people on this person.

“I mainly just want everything back the way it should be…” A familiar voice said.

“Anne?”

The person turned around and all the screens focused onto the equine. It was Anne, hair fully shaved off her head with a straight cut going along were her hairline once was, lines going along the sides. Twilight knew what happened, she just hope that her friend’s brain wasn’t removed and left as a vegetable like the others she saw. She was wearing a hospital gown, large scar running down along her back just above her hips and the base of her neck.

“Twilight? I heard this idiot mention an equine and I had my suspicions but I didn’t think you’d come here.” Anne said walking over to the pony, quickly pulling her into a tight hug which the pony returned after a few moments of surprise.

“I WILL NOT BE CRITICIZED BY A LOBOTOMITE!” The robot behind the woman yelled out, screens shaking in anger.

“What happened to you Anne?” Twilight asked in concern.

“They removed my heart, spine and brain and replaced them.” Anne said sadly.

Twilight pulled back from the hug, looking at her friend in worry. “I saw others out there, they had their brains removed too but they were as dumb as a nail, why aren’t you like that?” She asked before quickly adding. “Not that I’m complaining you’re sane…”

“Well, since I was shot in the head it muddled up my brain and apparently the auto-doc changed some settings to compensate and that’s the reason I’m sane and not dumb and, or dead.”

Twilight wanted to raise the spirits in the room slightly for her friend, not knowing how she was taking having parts of her missing such as brain or heart. She adopted a forced smile.

“Well, always thought you were brainless sometimes…”

Chapter 51

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“So that’s why you should not come into any contact with the toaster.” Anne said, wearing her combat armor again now that Twilight was here to remind her that she was practically naked with jut the gown on, her butt visible from behind.

“Anne. Out of all the things you could have told me about this crazy place you choose to rant about the kitchen appliances?” Twilight asks with an unamused voice, looking at her friend flatly.

“What would you rather hear about then?” Anne asks looking at Twilight. “You think people having their brains scooped out or being trapped inside a suit that drags around your dead body for centuries is bad, you do not want to hear about the shit that’s here…”

Twilight grimaced. “Couldn’t be that bad…”

“They have a camp here that was filled with people from before the war that were used as test dummies with explosive collars on their necks. After the war they were left there and when some turned into ghouls they had to stay inside the horrible little group of tents or have their heads blast off their bodies…”

Twilight looked down at the dirt as they walked, not saying anything.

“Right now all I want to do is find my brain, even though it’s not in me if it gets damaged I die, it’s kinda like a wireless thing going on…”

Twilight looked up again at the red dome of ‘Doctor Mobius’ who also felt the need to blast messages over loud speaker much like the other robots in the other dome. He had guards of robotic scorpions brightly colored in yellow and red, shooting blue beams of light from their stingers and crushing more than cutting with their broad blunt pincers.

“What are we even going to do when we find your brain? Is it as easy as just chucking it back in?” Twilight asks.

“I have no clue, remember that I have no brain.” Anne answered as they neared an oversized metal door.

With a hiss and an over dramatic amount of steam coming from under the gab a large number of the robotic scorpions came scuttling out, little beams shooting wildly about. Yanking the light axe off her back the brainless woman charged forward, sinking the blade through the metal hull of the killing machine like a warm knife through butter, sending sparks about wildly.

Twilight pulled out her pistols, sending hot lead through the robots and shredding their inner workings. While it didn’t do too much damage to them Anne was making up for it, her hits seeming to be stronger than normal as she hacked apart the robots while yelling ‘smack!’ every time a blow connected.

Soon there was just a pile of brightly colored scrap metal and circuits. “Apparently their lasers make you dumber.” Anne said pulling the axe from one such hunk of rubbish. “Though considering everything else, it’s just another excuse for those brain bots to stay cooped up in their dome.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well I just find it kind of weird that there are so many reasons for them personally to stay stuck in their place, as if someone doesn’t want them to leave. I want to know what this place is doing.” Anne explained as they walked through the metal door and through another.

“I’m the type of pony that enjoys looking for any knowledge they can get, once I get back to Equestria I have so many things that can help ponies. Stimpaks, and so many other medical advancements that we didn’t have back there.” Twilight said.

“Not guns or explosives?” Anne asks.

“I’ve seen what has happened to your world with those things Anne… I don’t want to see Equestria to end up the same…” She said sadly before quickly adding. “No offence.”

“None taken.” Anne said offhandedly as she and her friend walked through a darkened doorway.

Once through the door it slammed shut behind them with a bang, making the two jump as they looked at the sealed door. “That can’t be a good thing…” Anne said unsurely, getting her axe at the ready as she looked to the darkness around them.

With loud clicking sounds lights hanging from a far above ceiling turned on in series and lit up the massive concrete room. There were walkways everywhere along the walls and rooves, some deactivated turrets around for an unknown attacker.

“You dare come into my lair?!” A voice yelled over the loud speakers. “WELL! Prepare to face the science of the X-42 Roboscorpion!” It continued.

With a hiss a large hatch on the floor in the middle of the hall opened up, more of the dramatic steam coming out. Slowly something was raised out of the hole, first the giant stinging tail that was as big as a car, with the tail being a few stories tall. Next the top of the huge red pincers, big enough to crush a fully grown man with ease, and may the house he would be hiding in.

Twilight and Anne had to take a step back as the full robot came into view, huge and dangerous looking. “I think we might be a little outmatched here Twilight…” Anne said hesitantly, looking down at her axe.

Twilight was looking down to her pistols, doubting that the bullets would even be able to go through the metal of the robot. “I think we might need a bigger gun…” She noted.

“I found a grenade in one of the labs…” Anne said hopefully, reaching into one of her pouches she pulls out a dark green ball with a pin and handle on it, case segmented.

“Would that be enough to take it down?” Twilight asked uncertainly.

“If we can make a hole in its shell then we could throw it in and it would shred the internals of the thing.” Anne suggested.

“And how would we do that?”

“We improvise.” Anne said with a shrug before running to the right of the door as fast as she could, trying to get out of the way as the scorpion took aim with its stinger.

Twilight got the cue and with a flash she reappeared to the left about a dozen feet.

The laser shot by the robot was a foot and a half feet thick and impacted against the ground with an explosion of concrete and steel, leaving molten slag in the crater.

“Don’t get hit by it!” The pony heard her friend yell from across the room, spotting her climbing up a rusty ladder towards a metal observation room hung against the wall.

“I wasn’t planning on it!” She yelled back as she watched the scorpion turn to follow her, taking aim with its stinger again.

Twilight did the first thing she could think of to not get hit and teleported herself up to a catwalk just before the robot fired again, leaving a smoldering puddle where she once was. She couldn’t stay still for a single moment and she had to keep it distracted until Anne could find a way to punch a hole through the shell to take that thing down.

Quickly she started to move. Jumping along catwalks and running through the observation rooms, beams of blue death constantly slamming into where she always was a second before. But it was as if the robot was soon guessing what she was going to do before she did and just before she teleported to the next location a beam of blue light reduced the section of walkway into a runny liquid. “It’s learning Anne!” Twilight yelled, quickly moving out of the way of another blast.

“I think I have an idea! Just another minute!” She heard from across the room, spotting Anne ripping something from one of the deactivated turrets, putting it against something else she ripped from another one.

The robot started stamping over to Twilight, sick of missing the target. With a robotic screech it reared up on its hind legs and started to try and crush the pony, causing the pony to help in fear as it came face to face with the glass plate that covered the glowing lights she guessed where it saw from. It ripped a chunk of the steel walkway from the wall, chunks of rock scattering across the floor below.

“Anne!” Twilight yelled in worry, steam rising from her sore horn as she saw the stinger start to glow with energy, there was no escape.

“HEY SHIT FACE!” She heard Anne yell before a small explosion impacted on the back of the scorpion.

It paused for a moment, lowering itself back down to the floor to look at the woman. She could have what could only be described as the most impractical and dangerous looking gun, dangerous for the user if one considered a gun that might explode in the face of the user.

“Okay! That’s as far as I got in my plan!” Anne yelled dropping the gun to the side, crumbling into a pile of rubble. “Can you teleport me on its back?!”

“I don’t think I have enough energy, but I can throw you!” Twilight yelled back as the scorpion brought back its claw to crush the woman.

“Good enough!” She yelled pulling the pin from the grenade but holding the handle as she ran at the robot.

Twilight gave a shove of force under her friend, jumping right over the claw as it smashed into the ground with enough force the shake the ground and send cracks all around. The force she landed with knocked the wind out of her and the grenade out of her grip. The handle and the grenade itself went in different directions.

“Shit!” Anne yelled scrambling after the grenade, slipping along the burnt shell of the robot to grab it before it falls off and detonates.

She managed to grab it after a moment and quickly brought it around to the hole in the shell.

‘BOOM’

The grenade detonated just as she had her hand over the hall, a small ball of fire and dust launching everywhere. Anne went flying off the robotic bug from the force and the scorpion itself slammed down to the ground with a crunch.

Twilight’s eyes were constantly twitching around for the moments after this all went down, watching everything lay still. After another minute she slowly climbed down the torn and scrapped metal to the dust covered floor of the hall. “I think it worked Anne.” Twilight said hesitantly, looking over the smoldering wreckage.

“Anne?” Twilight called out, looking around for her friend.

She saw lump a dozen feet away from the dead robot, freezing in place at the sight. “Anne?” She tried again.

She heard a groan come from the lump, slowly moving. “T-Twilight?” Anne groaned out, slowly getting to shaky feet.

Twilight couldn’t see too well in the badly lit place. “Thank Celestia you’re okay, I thought you were hurt in that explosion.” Twilight said with a sigh of relief.

“W-wouldn’t be so sure…” Anne cracked out, staggering towards the princess.

When her friend got closer she got a better look at her. The armor along her right arm was shredded, just tatters halfway up the forearm with holes from shrapnel coating her whole right side and along her face. Most noticeable was her right arm, halfway up her forearm and below was missing, just a bloody and destroyed stump of burnt flesh.

Twilight paused, looking at her friend in horror. “A-Anne! Your arm!” She yelped.

“Y-you didn’t think I noticed?’ Anne asked with a bitter chuckle, holding her hand against the end to try and reduce the bleeding.

“I-I’ll grab Med-X!” Twilight yelled, not caring about her friend’s history with the addiction and just wanting to help her.

“N-No.” Anne said shaking her head. “J-just get me a Stimpak to heal it up. There’s nothing we can do for my arm.” Anne stated, staggering towards her friend.

Twilight nodded quickly, fumbling with her pockets and pulling out one of the needles. Stabbing it into her friend’s damaged arm she pressed the button and with a hiss it emptied its contents directly into her body. Quickly the skin healed itself over, forming into angry and horrible looking scar tissue.

“T-thanks.” She winced, looking down at her nub, rubbing over the tender flesh. “I think I’m in shock right now. Why the fuck else am I not freaking out about this?”

Chapter 52

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Twilight was worried about her friend, she didn’t seem to really care about her missing limb, just holding it sorely as they walked further into the ‘Forbidden Zone’ which as the loud speaker was constantly reminding was forbidden.

They soon entered another large room that looked almost the exact same as the one that held the five floating brains in a jar but this one looked more run down, crazy scientific scrawling’s all along the floors and roof. While Anne had no clue about most of it Twilight did spot a few thing such as ‘1+1=?’ with circles drawn around it and underlined a dozen times. There was only one spotlight in the floor instead of five. There was also only one brain bot but this one was very different.

It looked as if it hadn’t be maintained for the past 200 hundred years. The glass was all murky and scummy along with the glass on the monitor screens. One of the eye screens was cracked and only showed black.

“At least this place doesn’t have the pacification field.” Anne stated, pulling out her pistol with her one hand.

“What?” Twilight asked in confusion.

“Did you notice at the other place you couldn’t really get angry there? That’s because they literally have a field on that stops anger inducing hormones from being produced in your body. Which I don’t know how that would affect me at all considering that I don’t have a brain in my skull to produce the hormones…”

The pair slowly approach the floating robot, wondering what the dirty looking robot would do to try and get away from the situation. But as they got closer it slowly turned around. “I come in peace, visitor. Take me to... Oh. That's your line isn't it? ” The robot said before shaking itself. “Yellow. Uh... Hallow. No, wait, uh... oh, hello. Yes, that's it. So nice seeing you again, for perhaps the first time.”

“You’re the one here for the brain aren’t you? So young, so bright.” It said before quickly asking. “Would you be able to move a bit to the left? I have trouble seeing these days.” He asked kindly.

Anne and Twilight looked at each other in confusion before they both shuffled to the side. “Is that better?”

“Depth perception is a problem with this old monitor of mine. Went black a while ago. That's old age for you. I should look at getting the visual nerves re-attached... it's just that the right eye would… see the wrong things. The flying tortoises were the worst. And the purple horses…” He stated before asking happily. “Would you care for a Mentat?” and before he got an answer a little robotic arm stuck out with a small tin of the smarty mints which Anne took in confusion.

“Umm, thanks.” She said unsurely as put it into one of her pockets before pulling out her pistol again.

“Mmm. I love Mentats. Delicious and smarty.” He said happily and the pair could spot what looked like a half dozen of the mints dissolving in the gel that suspended the brain inside the tank.

“I have all sorts of amazingly science-arific thoughts and ideas when those chalky tablets are zipping through my biogel. I forget them all not long after, though, especially with the data constipating my memory core. Afraid binary streams might shoot out my chassis. Had to start using the dome floor and walls here to inscribe equations, although I've somewhat lost track of where they start and end.” He noted, looking around with his one good screen at the crazy scribbles along the walls.

“You’re… not what I was expecting…” Twilight noted, this had been the person, or brain, that had sent the robo-scorpions after them and he was acting casual.

“Really. That implies pre-conceived notions, theories and a hypothesis about this meeting? Please extrapolate. What was I... supposed to be like? After all, it might be worth a cognitive re-alignment if your theoretical Mobius is better than I.” he asked.

Twilight liked talking science as much as the next nerd but this felt like everyone in this place had no idea about science and just used words they think sounded smart.

“Look.” Anne butted in. “I just want my brain back and we can get out of your hair, or screens, or whatever you want to say.” Anne stated flatly.

“Do you? You seem fine without it.” He noted. “And does it even want to go back with you? Maybe you should ask it. It's quite independent, has all manner of opinions. Tell you what, I'll leave it up to your brain. If it wants to go, then fine. If not... well, you should respect its wishes.” He stated.

Anne was a bit confused at what he said, hearing a slight hissing sound up on a stage area. There was a large table that opened up and a large tank filled with more of the gel and a floating brain inside.

“Okay…” Anne said in confusion, the two walking away from the crazy robot as he started humming to himself.

The brain just floated in the tank and the two could only guess whose brain it was. “Now we just need to get it back into my skull…” Anne noted.

“Well, well, look who finally dragged themselves in out of the Wasteland. And where have we been, hmm? Crawling through pits of radioactive muck again?” The tank spoke out in a tinny voice, posh, British and most notable, male.

“Is this… my brain?” Anne had to clarify to Twilight and before the pony could guess the tank spoke again.

“Ah, lovely, figured that out, have we? Would you like a cookie?” It asked in a smug voice.

“Hey, don’t be such a dick.” Anne accused pointing her one good hand at the tank.

“Well, that's a fine how-do-you-do! Me! A, quote, dick, unquote. As if I'm the one responsible for the way you carry on, gadding about the Wastes. I'm not the one that makes us clamber around tetanus-infested ancient ruins or go charging off to New Vegas on missions of ill-conceived revenge! And have we forgotten who got us shot in the head and buried in a shallow grave? Hmm? Do you think I enjoyed that little moment?” It said, slowly starting to yell as it spoke on before it was ranting at the end.

“But you are responsible! You’re my brain!” Anne yells back.

Twilight was having a hard time processing what she was seeing. Her best friend in the Mojave having an argument with her brain floating a in a jar, steam coming from the back of the tank as the organ shook in anger.

“I most certainly am not! I am the seat of all reason and logic in our little partnership! All those... feelings that motivate you, that sense of righteousness and that rush you get when you help someone, do you know where those come from?” He asked rhetorically and just as Anne was about to say something it stated. “Glands. They come from glands. Free of the tyranny of your ape-like and primitive endocrine system, I can see how foolish your motives are.”

“But aren’t you responsible for my glans? Or are you blaming my thyroid?” Anne shot back.

It paused for a moment. “I... well... look, it's all a very complex system of biofeedback and other things I wouldn't expect you to understand.”

“Admit it, you’re as glandular as I am.”

“Oh, all right... perhaps I am, but at least I'm logical about it.” The brain huffed.

“Now, how about you get back into my skull and we all get on out of here?” Anne offered.

“I'm not going to lie to you, the prospect is definitely not that appealing. Look at it from my perspective. Here, I have peace, quiet, and safety - well, barring the odd rogue scorpion. In your head, I've got poison, radiation, grisly injuries, and biological functions. Do you know how much more you can get done when you're not constantly looking for places to urinate? It's quite a lot, I can tell you.” The brain stated.

“But what about the good things? What about a cool breeze on your cheek, the smell of food... sex?” Anne asked hopefully, making the pony blush faintly.

“Overrated biological feedback. Believe me, you only feel that way because you've got all that meat... oozing hormones.”

“So, what, you'd rather just stay here? Never leaving that tank of... whatever that stuff is?” Anne asked sadly.

“Well, certainly there might be some things I miss about being ambulatory. We have seen some incredible sights, haven't we?” He asked. “Jason Bright and his followers launching into the vast unknown. But still, given the tremendous, potentially life-ending peril that went along with those... yes. Yes, I'd rather stay here.” The brain said, nodding in the tank.

“I guess there isn’t really anyway I can force you back in is there… So I guess I’ll just have to go on without my brain…” Anne said sadly.

“Well thank you for listening to my wishes… for once…” The brain huffed.

“One thing I want to know though is how the hell did Mobius even get you in the first place?” Anne asked sighing.

“After the Think Tank extracted me from your skull, they fell to bickering amongst themselves. I'm sad to say we were quite forgotten about. Dr. Mobius saw an opportunity to gain some leverage, and had me spirited away to his dome” The brain said doing what could only be described as shrugging.

“How did he manage to do that?” Twilight asked stepping in.

“I don't know. I'm afraid the trauma of our separation rendered me quite insensate. I didn't come around until I was safely ensconced in this tank. I'm quite sure whatever he did was highly scientific, though.” The brain explained.

“And why do you sound like a dude?” Anne asked.

“Do you know how hard it is to find a feminine voice modulator in the Forbidden Zone? These brain tanks don’t grow on trees and I had to take what I could get at the time.”

“I guess I’ll just go then…” Anne said sadly. “I’ll tell the Think Tank that I don’t need them to put you back into my skull if you don’t want to go back in.”

“The Think Tank? And you believed them? Really? I know you were recently deprived of my fabulous advice, but... really? Once I'm delivered into their clutches, they'll find a way past the radar fence and the whole Mojave will be their playground. And that is assuming of course that one of them doesn't take a fancy to our body and decide to slip his own brain into it instead.”

Both pony and human grimace at that information, from the crap they saw going on around the facility they both knew that the brains shouldn’t be allowed outside and roaming free to use everyone and everything as test rats.

“So we need to stop them…”

“Oh really? How did you ever come up with that bright idea without a brain?” The brain said sarcastically. “Do you even have a plan on how to deal with things?”

Anne paused for a minute before holding up a finger and grinning. “I got it!” She said happily. “You stay out of my head, we don’t want it to be easier for them to take you.” She stated.

“That arrangement suits me fine. Do try not to get too many holes drilled in your head, will you? I may want to drop by for sentimental reasons.” The brain stated.

“Anne?”

“Yes Princess?”

“How do we end up in these situations?” Twilight asked standing before the metal door of the Think Tank where all the robotic floating brains stayed.

“If I knew I would avoid them.” Anne state with a shrug as she pushed the large button in the middle of the door and with a hiss it opened up. Walking in they were greeted with the normal hall but all the brains were floating over spotlights and the overhead lights were a deep crimson.

Walking in the shouting voice of Klein filled the air. “THE LOBOTIMITE RETURNS! HAS MOBIUS BEEN REDUCED DOWN TO SCRAP PARTS AND CHUNKS OF VOCIE MODULES?!” The robot shouted.

“I found my brain Klein, and I’m here to settle things.” Anne stated crossing her arms, although one was a bit short to do it properly.

“I RECOMMEND WATCHING YOUR TONE WITH ME, LOBOTOMITE. NOW... ‘YOUR’ BRAIN. HAND IT OVER. OR WE'LL EXTRACT IT AGAIN.” Klein stated, shaking slightly in anger.

“I’m not handing you my brain, we have things to discuss!” Anne said, Twilight noted while acting a hammy as the robots.

“AND WHAT COULD WE POSSIBLY HAVE TO SPEAK ABOUT. YOU HAVE THE BRAIN. WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY. ALL YOU MUST DO... IS SURRENDER. WITH IT, WE CAN FINALLY LEAVE THIS PLACE. I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW BORING THIS PLACE GETS, CHOPPING UP THE LANDSCAPE AND EVERYTHING IN IT.” He said before adding “AND WE HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR BRAIN FIRST. ABOUT THIS... MOJAVE PLACE. A FERTILE TESTING GROUND FOR OUR EXPERIMENTS.”

Anne paused for a moment, not knowing what to say until a grin that Twilight didn’t like burst out on her face. “You think I am the Lobotomite...? No, for my skull houses the BRAIN OF MOBIUS!” Anne yelled, the sound of Twilight slapping her hoof against her muzzle with a sigh.

“THAT IS THE MOST INSANE THING I'VE EVER HEARD. THERE IS NO WAY MOBIUS WOULD... CONDESCEND TO STEP INSIDE YOU.” He stated before he hesitated. “BESIDES, THERE IS NO WAY SUCH A THING COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED. IT'S UNPOSSIBLE.”

“Nothing is unpossible for SCIENCE! Mesons, lasers, atoms, brainwaves... all are at MY command!” Anne said grinning like an idiot, hand on her hip as she looked up proudly.

‘This is never going to work…’ Twilight thought to herself with sigh.

“YOU SPEAK THE TRUTH. AND THE DECIBEL VARIATION IN YOUR VOICE... IT IS MOBIUS. HOW DARE YOU BREACH THE THINK TANK? AND WHAT DO YOU WANT HERE?!” Klein yelled as all the brains recoiled in fear.

“You got to be kidding me…” Twilight said wide eyed.

“I offer you a deal! You stay here, stay put and I, Doctor Mobius will spare your lives!” Anne yelled out.

“THAT'S NO DEAL AT ALL! THERE'S A WHOLE WORLD BEYOND THE CRATER... FILLED WITH IDEAS AND POSSIBILITIES! WE COULD HAVE ESCAPED, SEEN IT ALL FOR OURSELVES. TESTED IT, PRODDED AT IT. MADE IT SQUIRM!”

“I will PERMIT you to continue to SCIENCE! For ME!”

“PARTNER WITH YOU? MY FOE? MY RIVAL?! MY FOREMOST CRITIC?! I HAVE A STRANGE SENSATION... THAT I WOULD LIKE THAT. HOW... ODD. VERY WELL... PARTNER. THE THINK TANK IS AT YOUR SERVICE. AS LONG AS YOU DO NOT DESTROY US.” The robot grumbled.

As it had been in the years before the Great War, Big Mountain ... the Big Empty... became home to one of brightest minds of the 23rd century. The Courier watched over the Big Empty for years to come, caring for it, and keeping its discoveries safe until they were needed to help others. Which had always been Big Mountain’s purpose. Past the laboratories and Science, it had always been intended as a place to build the future of all mankind.

The Courier had scoured much of the Big Empty, although secrets still remained in the crater's depths. Perhaps that was for the best, however... curiosity, while sometimes rewarded for its efforts, often proves to be equally dangerous.

Dr. Mobius continued his research undisturbed in the Forbidden Zone. As much as he had attempted to create better scorpions, he tried the same with humanity, with considerably less success. These failures didn't bother him overmuch. Once the rush of Mentats wore off, he forgot he had failed in any event. After all, the bright young mind who had come to visit him in the Forbidden Zone had already exceeded his expectations.

The Sink atop the Dome bustled with the voices of a small town, constantly chirping, arguing, and snarling at each other. Still, this all happened productively in the interests of its new owner. The Sink Central Intelligence Unit discovered, despite its inversion code, it was comforted by the sense of community the other personalities gave it.

The Biological Research Station, obsessed with seeding everything in sight, requested a transfer to the X-22 Botanical Garden... so that it might, in its own words, "sensually fertilize the garden's smooooth contours." The Garden sent back a polite refusal, saying it had prior commitments with a Vault it had helped infect before the war.

The Book Chute continued to devour all seditious materials until it nearly choked on a paper clip. It adamantly maintained it was a Chinese paper clip, and the whole thing had been an elaborately orchestrated assassination attempt. Whatever the reason, it slowed down for a while, carefully appraising each document and clipboard that came to it.

The light switches continued to flicker and bicker. That was until someone dropped a flashlight in the sink, and the two united in hatred for the ‘showboat’

The Sink continued to ruthlessly scrub any particulate matter that came near it. Eventually, it gained access to the Magnetohydraulics Plant and nearly flooded all the Big Empty in an attempt to scrub the crater clean. Once it learned of the Innovative Toxins Plant, however, it gained new purpose. It sought to develop anti-toxins to flush into its drains and counteract the poisons bleeding into the soil.

The Toaster continued its psychotic spree, reducing all appliances in range to scrap electronics and spare parts. After one of its more psychotic episodes, however, the other Sink personalities decided enough was enough, and dumped the Toaster in a bathtub. Sparking and hissing, the Toaster swore its enemies would rue the day when they had bread - and no way to toast it.

Muggy continued to collect coffee cups until his wheel got a flat just out of reach of a dirty coffee cup, and his tiny robotic brain exploded. Muggy did his best to collect coffee cups, although in his quest, he accidentally trapped himself in Higgs' Village. It might have been the end for poor Muggy. Except... he found it peaceful there, tidying up the kitchens of the Think Tank Professors back when they had been flesh and bone. Well, except for Dr. O, who was an asshole for having created Muggy in the first place. Muggy left O's house deliberately dirty, punishing the dishes and cups that lived there in blind revenge for serving Dr. O.

Blind Diode Jefferson, with sounds the Courier brought him, created a symphonic counter-frequency that saved Big {Mountain} MT from sonic invasion in 2910. If you didn't hear about it, good. It was rumored by the other personalities that he had a brief fling with the light switches. Although he forgot their names once too often and was soon left in the dark as punishment.

Auto-Doc, always gentle and methodical, kept sewing up the Courier in all the right places when the skin split open from repeated wear and tear. The Auto-Doc was just glad to have purpose again. It heard its simpler brothers and sisters who got shipped to the Sierra Madre were bored out of their skulls in that toxic, dead city. In time, the Auto-Doc found a way to deactivate the Y-17 Trauma Harnesses, releasing the corpses they had held prisoner for almost 200 years.

As the Courier ran through the X-8 facility multiple times, the computers analyzed the test subject's movements. Rather than performing a superficial observation, they realized the subject barely knew what Communism was - or even what a high school was. This confused them for a time, until the facility finally realized that its research had... succeeded. So it let its Cyberdogs out into the wastes to help protect small communities from physical aggression rather than communist propaganda.

The infiltration program in X-13 felt spent, having repeatedly upgraded the Stealth Suit until it could upgrade it no more. It felt warm, fulfilled, and a bit sluggish. {Beat, suspicious} It realized not long after, the Stealth Suit had left it without so much as a note on the nightstand. So the infiltration program sent out Robobrains into the wastes looking for its wayward technology. It eventually found REPCONN HQ, and set up a new research center, testing and murdering Fiends who kept breaking into the facility.

The Courier left the brain at the Big Empty. A strange thing to say, but it was the truth. Brains are less important than they may seem. When the Courier's body finally passed, the brain was saddened. It kept on, remembering the vessel that had once contained it. Even at the end when it started to fail, however, the brain resisted going into a floating chassis like the Think Tank. It never said why. Perhaps it was out of respect for the Courier's body except when help was needed. All things must come to an end, and to hang on to the past is something that's not to be undertaken lightly.

Dr. Klein and the Think Tank remained alive, unaware of the world outside. They looped through their daily routine, none the wiser about the world beyond... although perhaps ‘wiser’ was the wrong word. The world outside belonged to the Courier, and if anyone would shape it... well, the Courier had already called dibs.

There is an expression in the Wasteland, ‘Old World Blues’. It refers to those so obsessed with the past they can't see the present, much less the future, for what it is.

They stare into the what-was, eyes like pilot lights, guttering and spent, as the realities of their world continue on around them.

Science is a long, steady progression into the future. What may seem a sudden event often isn't felt for years, even centuries, to come.

In the times following the Second Battle of Hoover Dam, however, Old World Blues took on a new meaning.

Where once it was viewed as a form of sadness, nostalgia, it became an expression describing the potential for the future.

It can be easy to see Science as evil, technology unchecked as the source of all ills, all misfortunes.

With the courier at the helm, Science became a beacon for the future.

There was Old World Blues, and New World Hope. And hope ruled the day at Big Mountain.

Some could say more, but the stories in the Big Empty speak for themselves.

Now armed with the Transportalponder, the Courier could return to the Dome at any time and crack open the secrets of the Big Empty one by one.

The sink sat vigilant for its master to return, boots covered in Mojave dust.

Only one road yet remained, and it was one that the Courier had to walk alone.

Chapter 53

View Online

“Anne, tell the farm to stop hitting on me.” Twilight grumbled as she stopped past the woman who was reading over a list she had been given by one of the brains, containing all the known, past and present, research centers and all the study conducted in them.

“What about ‘effects of prolonged exposure to Swiss cheese’?” Anne asked.

They had returned to the Mojave to tell everyone they were all okay but one look at Anne’s missing arm showed that was wrong. But then they headed back to the labs, looking for anything that could help them with issues. Be it the missing limbs, or a way to get Twilight back to her own world without getting herself killed.

“Unless it’s radioactive it’s not going to grow any limbs back.” Twilight stated with a sigh, Anne was always such a slow reader, she had already gone through the blueprints and research material of the teleporter that was used to get them there.

It was much like magical teleportation, bending space to make it so two different places were in the exact same place so one didn’t have to move for them to go somewhere else so to speak. Like drawing two dots on different edges on a piece of paper. Normally you would have to go all the way across the paper to get from point a to point b but teleportation just folds the paper so they are in the same place at the same time, even for just a split second to move the object or target.

But the amount of energy required to teleport from one side of a country to another takes incredible amounts of energy, which she originally got around when she got sent to the Mojave by having all the Princesses lending power along with hundreds of power runes and gems storing more energy in each one than the average pony uses in a lifetime. But at the Big Empty they used just a single small fission reactor. She was trying to work out how they managed to make it so power efficient.

But Anne was trying to find a way to replace their missing parts.

“Oh, here it says they were trying to do cybernetic combination of human and robotic parts.” Anne noted.

“Anything other than that to go on?”

“Well, it did have a 95% mortality rate, and the one that did survive ended up dying in a non-related raccoon accident.” Anne stated.

“Does it say what was wrong with it?”

“No. But it is a part of the section that Doctor 0 ran.” Anne stated. “I’ll go ask him about it, I’ll be back soon.” She added standing up from the chair she was in, walking towards the Think Tank.

“Hey baby, why don’t you let the seed flow?” A deep sensual voice said from another room after Anne left.

“SHUT IT!”

Twilight groaned tiredly as she felt the warm water cascade over her body, she didn’t know how much she missed having a proper shower. And with the massive water purifiers that had been cleaning water for hundreds of years without much being used and the water heaters so it wasn’t freezing cold water.

At first she was slightly disgusted at the blackness the water had at the start but it soon went down to a normal after almost half an hour at constant scrubbing. The only downside was she couldn’t find any soap or shampoo to clean out her mane more. She spent another half an hour sat under the stream of water.

She forgot how bright her purple fur really was, seeing it without it being matted with sweat and dirt. Her mane was no longer a rat’s nest, back to its straighter normality. It actually made herself feel better about things, no longer feeling dirty all the time. Although it did disgust her somewhat when she realized that Anne’s grey hair was actually marble white.

She almost didn’t want to come out of the shower but she knew that if she wanted to get home she would need to actually get out there and do things.

“Okay, so they stopped cause’ the only way they were able to get the limb to be anything near usable they attached it into the nerve endings.” Anne stated walking back into The Sink.

“Why did that make them stop?” Twilight asks, slowly sliding the personality chip for the Bio-Lab underneath the bed.

“Well, the pain was so bad that it literally killed almost all test subjects instantly.” Anne said looking over the notes she got, if they could even be called notes. “The only one they managed to get work without killing the person was a big toe and even then the person ended up dying anyway.”

“How..? You know what? Never mind…” Twilight grumbled before sighing. “Can we have it put back into the works to try and reduce mortality rate?”

“I asked about that, it will be about a month before they get anything remotely useable with a less than fifty percent death rate.” Anne said with a shrug.

“Great, so knowing them that month will be longer than it should be…” Twilight sighed sadly slumping onto the bed.

“Not all bad news, I asked about that thing you wanted to know about with the power.” Anne said. “They used a lot of an alloy them made with Gold, Uranium and a weird red crystal they have in the Forbidden Zone. They have the crystals and Uranium, but the shipment of gold they were meant to get for power never came cause of the nukes and they don’t know where it is.” Anne stated.

“Well that’s just great, that’s twice I was dangled a bit of hope in front of my muzzle and they were ripped away.”

“Well, they mentioned a place that funded for some technology, and they used gold bricks to do so.” Anne said. “Might be worth a look into.”

“They mention anything about it?”

“Not really, just saying some dude Sinclair ran the place.”

Twilight watched as Anne cleaned her pistol as they sat in the penthouse of the Lucky 38, which was kind of amusing to see considering she only had one arm to be able to do it so there was a lot of trying to hold things squeezed between her knees or under her arms to clean it with the oil and brushes.

And it was even harder with her trying to puff away at a cigarette that was hanging from the corner of her mouth and with her one hand busy she had the ashes sprinkling down onto her legs.

Twilight was reading through the large tome that was given to Anne and herself when they helped the tribals leave Zion.

‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’ she read before putting in the book mark she had and putting the book aside

“Gannon?” Twilight called out.

“What?” the man called back.

“Let’s go out and do something, I’m bored.” Twilight grumbled getting off her seat.

“Hey, I’m always here…” Anne said in slightly jealous tone.

“You’re one handed Anne, I don’t want to have to reload your guns for you. And we both know you don’t really take time to aim you just unload and hope they go down.” Twilight stated.

“Awww…” Anne grumbled leaning back where she sat.

Gannon and Twilight walked out of the penthouse, hopping into the elevator. “So! Where are we off to?” The pony asks happily.

“You don’t have an idea of what you wanted to do before we left?” Gannon asked as he pressed the button to go down but before the door could close a flying ball of metal shot itself into the elevator and nuzzled itself up against the pony, glancing at the human. “Are you really letting that thing come with us?”

“Why not?” Twilight asks rubbing a hoof over the top of the robot. “You two need to learn to get along together with us living all under the same roof. Now, do you know anywhere that will have some adventure for us to have fun with?”

“Well… there’s a radio station that might be worth checking out. It’s called Black Mountain.”

“Worth checking out you said… Let’s have an adventure I said…” Twilight grumbled.

“Well I’m happy you decided to go out boss.” A ghoul that went by the name Raul said as he huddled behind the wreckage of an old car with Twilight, Gannon and E-DE.

Before Twilight could say anything else a rocket went sailing over their heads, exploding against a wall nearby and showering the area in rubble of concrete.

“Out of all the things to fight it had to be a horde of super mutants.” Gannon stated as he clicked in another battery to his plasma pistol, raising it above cover and letting lose a few un-aimed shots.

“Could have been worse… could have been a giant robotic scorpion…” Twilight stated, quickly taking am as a Nightkin faded into existence next to them, a few well-placed shots sending it down.

“We could always, you know… leave…” Raul said with a shrug, using Lucky for now considering there wasn’t much else to use besides heavy weapons that the ghoul wasn’t strong enough to use.

“Just glad Anne didn’t come along…”

“CHUG CHUG CHUG!” The off duty NCR Troopers and caravaners chanted as Anne and her new drinking buddy held a bottle of whiskey in their mouths with their heads tilted back as they tried to empty the bottle faster than the other. They finished too quickly to each other that no one knew who won but that didn’t stop them from cheering again louder.

Twilight had her one wing dragging along against the ground as she tiredly limped into the Lucky 38 along with the little group following after her, each looking just as tired. “I always want to go out at first but I never take into account how tired I get afterwards…” The pony grumbled as she walked in but paused at what she saw.

Since the ground floor was the casino she wasn’t too surprised to see Anne and another woman gambling with a Securitron with a familiar face of Yes-Man on the screen. But was surprising was that Anne was wearing nothing but a pair of boots and a pair of sand goggles. Yes-Man had several of hit metal plates stripped off, not very cleanly done, and dumped to the side. While the unknown woman was dressed normally, although a jacket and hat were off to the side.

“What the… What’s going on here?!” Twilight yelled, getting some energy back.

All three turned to look at the shocked group, obvious from the look on the human’s faces they were drunk. “You’re back!” Anne said happily, standing up from her chair.

Boone looked away, Gannon just looking blankly at the woman while Raul seemed to like the view he was getting, not many people tended to be naked around ghouls after all.

“Why are you naked?!” Twilight yelled, using her magic to throw the barding that went under Anne’s armor at her, trying to cover her scarred body.

“Well Cass, Yes-Man and I were playing strip poker…” Anne said happily, the barding just sliding off her scarred body. “I have them feeling secure, then I’m going to have my comeback!”

“I can hear you.” The woman who must be ‘Cass’ said taking a sip from a glass on the table.

“You know I’m going to win! It’s just so much better to feel the fear in your enemy’s eyes before you crush them beneath your naked foot!” Anne said grinning as she sat herself back down at the table.

“You said that before I took all your caps as well.”

Chapter 54

View Online

“You are to wear clothes at all times from now on, except when you bathe.” Twilight stated, glaring at a human who was rubbing her sore head, from the hangover and the whack on the head she got after she woke up.

“I’m sorry okay! I just thought I might be able to get some action if I convinced her to do it. Turns out she doesn’t swing that way…”

‘Whack!’

“Fuck! Stop that!”

Anne had managed to get the princess to stop slapping her after a while when she convinced her to go back to the Empty to see how things were going although things were ‘different’ to say the least. For one there was a large flap flying on top of a flag pole at the top of the dome, a picture of a grouchy looking Twilight with a book resting on her head blazed into the fabric.

“I swear to god I didn’t do that!’ Anne said quickly, putting her arms up to protect her and managed to block the punch before it got to her. “I’m not smart enough to think of that!”

“Of course you aren’t! You keep your brain in a jar!” Twilight yelled, her horn glowing brightly before up above the flag burst into flames, burning away quickly in the inferno.

Twilight stomped her way back into the dome, Anne trying to keep her away from her brain in case she did anything rash to the organ.

But when they got there they found the brain that Anne had fondly started calling Brian floating along in one of the balls with screens, mumming to itself as he looked over a console.

“Ah, so you two didn’t forget about this place hmmm?” The brain asked, screens turning to look at the pair as they entered.

“That is really creepy, having my brain do things without any control from me…” Anne noted pointing at the robot.

“You know how much work you can do just stuck in the one jar that’s bolted to the floor? Since you wouldn’t know I’ll just say it isn’t much.” Brian stated.

“What have you even been working on?” Twilight asks in confusion.

“Well did you really think the Think Tank would be able to do anything on their own? So I took it on myself to help with those projects you wanted done.” He stated.

“Any progress?” Anne asked hopefully, it was annoying only having one hand in the wasteland.

“Yes, but not for you yet.” He said. “We made artificial eyes, although we had to adjust the size to fit the skull of you Twilight, how do you even keep a brain in a skull that filled with eyeball?” He said idly as he looked down at Twilight.

“Wait… So you mean I’ll be able to see fully again?” Twilight asked, eyes going wide.

“Yes. Though we’ll need to put you in an auto-doc to have everything fixed up again. There’s a bit more to it than just putting a ball into the socket, we also need to get to your visual cortex and attach the electrodes to the right parts of your brain and since we only have horse brains to go off it will be a lot of assuming on our part for things to go along fine.”

Twilight gulped nervously, reaching a hoof up to her blind eye and rubbing around the socket.

“Will it hurt..?”

“You won’t feel a thing, well, until the Med-X stops working that is… but during the procedure you’ll be out cold, won’t notice anything.” The brain said. “But one thing we should know before hand is do you want a different color of eye?”

“No, I just want it to look like my other one…” Twilight said with a sigh. “I want to just look normal again…”

“It will hurt once it’s in for a while, you won’t be used to a metal ball in your skull at first but you’ll learn to live with it…”

Twilight groaned softly as she woke up, trying to open her eyes but she couldn’t see anything, just darkness. She slowly remembered what happened, climbing into the auto-doc and for what reason. And with her vision just surrounded by darkness she assumed the worst had happened and started to hyperventilate.

“Hey, you’re awake.” She heard the voice of a tired sounding Anne say from her side.

“I can’t see Anne!” Twilight yelped out in fear, was she going to be fully blind?

“I wouldn’t doubt it, you have a bandage around your face right now.” Anne stated, slowly reaching out and resting a hand on Twilight’s side.

Twilight relaxed slightly at the contact of her friend. “How did it go..?” She asks softly.

“I’m not an eye surgeon but I think it went pretty well.” Anne said looking down at the bed ridden pony. “They removed the old damaged one so I hope you didn’t expect to keep it. They hooked up electrodes to your brain and went around through the inside of your skull and out the back of your eye socket before imputing the new eye and connecting it all up.”

“For someone who doesn’t know about eye surgery you explained it pretty well.” Twilight said with a week chuckle as she relaxed into the pillows of the bed she was laid in.

“Brian explained it to me, mainly cause I was asking what was happening every five minutes so he told me everything to shut me up.”

“You’re the only person I know of who can annoy their own brain…”

It took a while of talking before the princess convinced her friend to take the bandages off her, slowly unwrapping them around her sore head. She expected her vision to be amazing, something special like laser vision or being able to see through walls. She was slightly disappointed when all she saw was what it was like before she lost her eye. The disappointment quickly left although when she remembered she shouldn’t care about any of that and should just be glad she could see full again.

Although it did now feel like her eye was made out of sandpaper and gravel, and when she tried to rub the tender area she was warned by the human that it probably wasn’t the best of ideas.

“You don’t want to damage anything just after it was all hooked up.” Anne explained. “You’re going to sore for a while after everything and I was told that if you have any blood leaking from your ears or your brain feels like it’s melting to come back for a checkup.”

The pony paled at the last point made.

After a few adjustments with the settings on the eyes when they were a bit too sensitive towards light they headed back to the Mojave, Twilight quickly just went to the bathroom and threw up from the pain in her head. But after another day she just wanted to get out of New Vegas and do something.

Anne suggested to go to a radio signal she had found on the airwaves telling people to come to a new casino that was opening up for the first time and people should come to join in the celebration. This left the two of them walking through the Mojave to where the broadcast was coming from to see if it was true since it could be a good break for the two of them, just something fun like a party.

“So… That’s it?” Twilight asks as she looks down at the rusty drainage cover, through the holes at the ladder that lead down into the darkness below.

“Well… That’s where the signal is coming from… It might be just where the signal is broadcast and it’s meant to be leading to another place?” Anne suggested as she hauled the cover off with her one hand.

“I guess we need to go down to find out.” Twilight said with a sigh, starting to climb herself downwards.

After helping Anne up after slipping and falling down the ladder the two looked around to see what was around them. What they didn’t expect was the rusty rundown room with a headless body slumped against a wall with dried blood plastered against the walls and floors around it. There were also writings along the walls such as ‘Left my heart in the Seirra Madre’ and ‘Left for the Seirra Madre.’

“Well. Isn’t this pleasant?” Anne asked trying to remain optimistic as she went over to a staircase that went further downwards. “There’s a door down there, ready for an adventure?”

“I don’t think there’s much choice in this.” Twilight grumbled, she guessed this wasn’t going to be that relaxing anymore.

The metal door opened with a loud hissing sounds as it unsealed itself. The two looked down the rusted halls and at the end was an old style radio, which was loudly playing Seirra Madre advertisements. There wasn’t much else around, just little out coves cast in the walls with destroyed books in them.

“This isn’t what I expected…” Anne said as she went over to the book shelf and knocked them over with her hand, watching as the pages fell apart.

“Well, could have been worse, it’s just this stuff.” Twilight said gong over to the radio in a room that had nothing else besides the object in the middle on a clean wooden table.

A loud hissing sound soon filled the place as they two looked around at vents attached to the ceiling, watching as a clear mist was pumped into the room. The pony was confused at what was happening before she felt herself start to get dizzy and she stumbled slightly before falling to the ground. She heard a similar but heavier thud from her friend before her vision went dark and she saw no more.

You've heard of the Sierra Madre Casino.

We all have, the legend, the curses.

Foolishness about it lying in the middle of the City of the Dead, buried beneath a blood-red cloud.

A bright, shining monument luring treasure hunters to their doom.

The world's most famous stars and entertainers were invited to its Grand Opening. An invitation was a sign of... exclusiveness. The opening was supposed to symbolize a road to a brighter future, not just for the world... but for all who came to its doors.

A chance for anyone to begin again. Except, the Sierra Madre never opened.

The war froze it in time, like a big flashbulb going off. The Grand Opening - one big ending of humanity. It's still out there, in the Wastes, preserved, just waiting for someone to crack it open. But getting to it. That's not the hard part.

It's letting go.

Twilight groaned softly, opening her eyes and was greeted by a dirty brown cobbled floor. A soft breeze was going over through her fur and making her shiver slightly. She slowly lifted her head from the floor and looked around. She was in what looked like the center of an old style town, fountain in the middle with water long gone with golden coins around it.

A light flashed to existence and the still image of a grumpy looking old man hovered over the top of the fountain, glowing faintly blue.

“Are you listening? Good. From now on, when I talk, listen, and follow my instructions.” He stated in a grizzled voice, Twilight getting to her hooves and taking a step back, still feeling dizzy from getting knocked out. She could see a large grand building up on a mountain nearby, lights blazing against its surface and making it look mystical. “Play stupid, play clever, make the mistake of saying ‘no?’ That collar on your neck'll go off and take your head with it.”

Twilight reached up with a hoof, feeling the familiar heavy metal collar around her throat. “Why am I here?” She asked in worry looking back up at the floating old man.

“I brought you here. There are mechanisms in place once the traps across the Mojave are sprung. For now, your sole focus should be the Sierra Madre, and how to get inside. Until then, you won't leave alive. But to get inside, avoid its traps... you'll need to gather the team. As I've found, one cannot do it alone.”

“Around the Villa are four other collars like yours, Collar 8, 9, 12, and 14. Find all four and get them here, to the Fountain. Then, we'll talk more.” He stated.

“Where’s my friend? What did you do with her?” Twilight growled glaring at the hovering image of the man.

“That hairless girl you came in with? She’s Collar 12, if you find her and the other three you might get out of this alive.”

Chapter 55

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Twilight grumbled to herself as she loaded the batteries into the gun she woke up next to, since everything else had been taken away. It was quite bulky and looked as if it were a repurposed grenade rifle with wires and machinery strapped to it along with a scope along the top. She sighed, she wished she had her pistols but she was just stuck with the energy gun. Wanting to see what it could do so she knew how to use it she brought it up and pulled the trigger but nothing happened. Trying again she pulled it again with the same result.

Rolling her eyes she yanked back the pump before clicking it forward again as she loaded a cell into the chamber. With a pull of the trigger the gun kicked back heavily, a scattering of bright blue cubes across the old walls of the villa and dissipating with little sparks of energy.

“Okay, weird shotgun thing…” Twilight said to herself as she loaded another battery into the gun. “I guess I need to start looking somewhere for Anne, I’ll start in the residential part…” She said before sighing.

The pony looks down to the pile of glowing dust as it slowly faded to grey, remembering the radroach it had once been before she shot it with the new gun. “I should probably save onto the shots…” She mumbled to herself as she felt the handful of batteries that were given to her in a small bag next to the gun.

While she was busy thinking to herself she barely noted the squeaking of rubber on rubber as a shrouded figure staggered along but she quickly brought the gun up to point at it.

It looked like a person, although gender was hidden away as every bit of the body was covered in a warn hazard suit, mostly out of restrictive rubber with vents along each of the limbs as if to try and make it feel some form of comfortable for the wearer. There was a gas mask on the head, the dirty green glass for the eyes seeming to glow in the dark reddish light of the villa, and a torn cloth hood over the back.

“Hello?” Twilight called unsurely, holding her weapon at the ready.

The person slowly turned to look at the pony, every movement looking like it was fighting against the suit to move smoothly. They didn’t say anything, swinging around something in their grip.

It didn’t take long for Twilight to realize that they weren’t friendly when they threw the thing they were holding. The makeshift spear made from a broom handle with sharp looking knives taped to the end went clattering against the cobbled floor.

She didn’t hesitate as she pulled the trigger, the cubes of blue light shooting out in a clump of energy and slamming into its torso. It staggered back but didn’t pause for a moment as it started hobbling towards the princess. Pulling the trigger again it hit the target again and it was sent falling backwards with a heavy thud.

Sighing softly the pony loaded the batteries into the gun, making sure it was fully loaded. She also picked up the spear, she didn’t have much ammunition left after all and having a weapon to use when things weren’t too hectic was a good idea in her head.

She paused as she heard the squeaking of rubber again, holding the spear at the ready in her magic as she looked around for the new target but was surprised when she saw the one she just took down staggering to its feet, turning to look at the princess with its glowing green eyes.

“Tougher than you look…” Twilight noted as she got ready to throw the spear.

Once it was close enough that she was sure she could hit her target she brought it back and let it fly, shooting through the air before burying the blades on the end of the stick deep into its chest, some sickly light green liquid oozing out from around the blade.

It fell to the ground again, spear sticking out from its chest into the air. “Are you going to stay down now?” She asked over to the still body.

As if to answer her the legs twitched slightly, the hands slowly moving to the ground as it pushed itself back to its feet.

It slowly pulled the spear from its chest, taking hold of the handle before throwing it at the pony again. She stepped to the side and dodged the weapon as it sailed past her and hit against a wall before clattering against the floor once again.

“Come on.” She yelled at the shrouded figure. “Why won’t you just stay down?”

It staggered towards her as she quickly grabbed the spear but once it got within a dozen feet it seemed to gain massive amounts of speed and launched itself at the purple pony princess. With a wide right hook at her.

Yelping with surprise she staggered back to get away from the attack, ducking under the blow as it reeled up for another punch. Stabbing the spear forward she pushed it back away from her, its feet skidding against the ground as it was pushed away.

It went limp again, slumping to the floor but like Twilight expected it just slowly got to its feet again. Before it could do anything Twilight ripped the spear out from the person, slamming it back in soon after. She repeated this a dozen times, leaving the blades and handle slick in the thick green liquid from the suit. She was left huffing as she slowly drew the blade back again, waiting and watching to see if it would move again.

She let out a yell of anger when it slowly started to move again, so she did the only thing she could think of and drove the spear as hard forward as she could, the blades going all the way through the creature and digging themselves into the stones against the wall it was slumped against. She took a step back as she looked at the thing as it tried to get itself up but couldn’t while being pinned against the wall by the spear, grabbing the handle to try and pull it out so it could stand again.

She knew that eventually it would break the handle, since it wasn’t made to be used for a spear. She wanted to get away from the unstoppable thing so it wouldn’t know where she would be. “Just stay there.” She told it before quickly trotting away, glancing over at it as she walked away and saw it staring at her.

“That’s really creepy…”

As Twilight stepped through the entrance to the houses in the villa she heard the voice of the old man come through a speaker on her collar. “I’m getting readings of detonators in the area, be careful of traps.” He said before disappearing again.

“Hey, why can’t I kill that thing?” She yelled down at her collar but didn’t get any form of response from her captor.

“Great… I have no clue what those things are, I just hope there aren’t more around this part of the villa.

“When I find that old man I’m going to kick him so hard he won’t be able to have foals!” Twilight yelled in anger, pushing against a door as she tried to keep out the two shrouded people as they batted against the door with bear traps strapped to their arms to use as weapons.

A chunk was ripped from the old wooden door, a rubber covered arm reaching through the hole to try and grab anything it could. Looking around she spotted a knife stabbed into a wall across the room, using her magic she yanked it from the wood and brought it over. She brought the blade back, chopping it down through the arm until a rubber arm slapped against her head and hit against the ground.

Ignoring the green ooze in her mane now she noted that it sounded like only one of the people was attacking the door now. Wanting to see if her theory was correct she quickly jumped away from the door, knife at the ready.

The door quickly got slammed open, one of the shrouded people stood in the frame but the other as Twilight noted was limp on the ground, no movement coming from it.

“Do I need to cut off a limb?” she said to herself.

Wanting to test that out she shot the blade out forward as the person charged, blade slicing through the leg, the blood splattering along the ground as the person tripped and fell to the ground but like she hoped the body wasn’t moving.

“Really?”

The princess didn’t expect to find in one of the buildings a ghoul sat in a fancy chair, wearing a snazzy dark suit and a clunky metal collar around his neck by a large missing wall that looked over the villa.

“Took your time crawling here.” He said in his dry voice, not even looking over at the pony. “Since you must be tired why don’t you take a seat down?”

Twilight looked at the second fancy seat next to the ghoul. Seeing the collar she guessed this was one of the people she had to find and she was told that if any of them died all the collars would go off so she relaxed, he wouldn’t kill her and get himself killed right?

Taking a seat she noted it wasn’t very comfortable, it felt like there was a layer of clay along the cushions.

“The Sierra Madre. Mmm... Beauty, isn't she. She the one who invited you here? Or maybe you didn't catch her voice on the radio. Woke up, confused, like some of the others. Least you're still breathing.” He said before finally looking at the pony. “By the way, don't get up or make any sudden motions, no matter how uncomfortable that chair gets... the cushion’s just for show.”

Twilight looked unsurely at the ghoul, looking back down to her uncomfortable chair. “What are you talking about?”

“Might be a bit rude but that chair you're sitting in, it's got a shaped charge in the seat cushion.” He stated, the pony’s blood running cold, she remembered what a small explosive did to Anne’s hand and what the larger ones did to her wing. “Get up without my permission, I'll blast your ass so far through your head, it'll turn the moon cherry pie red. So… let's keep this sweet and polite, and finish our conversation with no misunderstandings.”

“Look, I just want to get out of here.” Twilight said unsurely.

“Oh, of course you do. Now it's like we're married with these big wedding rings around our necks. So why don't you hear my proposal first before you start talking about what you need.”

“Fine, what do you want?” Twilight asked, trying to remain calm, she didn’t want to startle the ghoul.

“Just because I work in entertainment, doesn't mean I'm a moron. I heard my necktie beeping, I know what that means. I'm part of this somehow. I want out of this contract. And if you put me in it I'm not going to be too happy. So whatever's going on here, if you're part of all this? You're taking orders from me.” He said I a cold smooth voice.

“Okay, I’ll cooperate.” She stated.

“Good, good, then we're in business. I may be a betting man, but I like it when the odds are in our favor. If you're here with who I think, then I'd rather have you on my side than his. An... ace in the hole. You want to live, I want what's in the Madre. Real simple.”

“Okay, I agree to that, I just want to get out of here with a friend of mine.” Twilight said. “I’ll need you to go to the fountain at the center of the villa as I go to collect others that we need to get through this.”

“I know what's out there. It's why I've planted a mine field, shotguns, and explosives all the way on the road to my little boudoir here. So we go together, or we're not going at all. I'll split my hand in Blackjack when the time's right, I'm not splitting up in this town, trust me.”

Twilight sighed tiredly. “Fine, I’ll take you there…”

Chapter 56

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“In this area there were old prewar speakers that would be built to withstand vandalism. Now they’re damaged and let out a frequency that activates your bomb collar, so when you hear it beeping you better think fast.” The voice of the old man said through the collar again.

Twilight sighed tiredly, wasn’t bad enough that there were crazy hard to kill ghost people to deal with but now there are damaged radios that could set off her collar and Twilight was rather possessive of her head.

Pulling the energy rifle off her back she slowly walks her way further into the medical part of the villa, looking for another person she needed to find to get out of this place, and hopefully it would be Anne.

She walked through the run down villa, more run down than the other parts with rubble blocking doorways and piling up against where walls once were. But as she was going through one such hole in the wall she started to hear a slow but loud beeping coming from her collar.

She didn’t expect it to happen soon, quickly stepping back in fear at her head suddenly exploding but after taking a step back she heard the beeping stop. Staying still for a moment she waited to see if she could hear it again but when nothing happened she took a hesitant step forward again, greeted by the beeping. Taking a step back again it stopped.

“So it has a range…” She says to herself. “I wonder if I would be able to destroy that speaker so I can get past safely…”

Quickly she ran forward through the short tunnel as the beeping returned, quickly looking around for anything that looked like a speaker so she could get past without dying horribly. She looked around as the beeping slowly got faster until her eyes landed on a speaker, rusted with a little blue light down at the bottom.

Bringing the gun up she pulled the trigger, sending sparks and shards of metal exploding from the destroyed speaker. The beeping instantly stopped, the air going quiet again except the soft whistling sound of the wind blowing through the narrow streets of the villa.

“Okay, note to self… don’t find out how fast that beeping gets.”

Twilight stood before an archway that went to a small courtyard that would have been used by the residents to relax. Although now nothing was visible through the thick cloud of a pink smoke, an actual wall that seemed to stop at a certain point. Just being close to the cloud seemed to make her eyes ache and skin tingle.

She knew that cloud must be around the entire villa just in lighter amounts from the red tinge all the stone had to it along with the light coming down through a reddish cloud hanging high in the sky. There were clumps of the fog that seemed to congeal into piles against the walls and the floors.

Hesitantly she stuck a hoof out and gently waved it through the cloud and that tingling got to a slight burning sensation. “So I shouldn’t go through that if I have the choice…” She mumbled to herself but paused when she heard a familiar squeaking of rubber sound and a vague figure deep in the cloud in front of her. Pulling the spear she picked up from her back strap she made from a few belts she found in one of the buildings and held it at the ready for the shambling covered person who seemed to not care in the slightest about the cloud of burning gas.

The last few meters it lunged forward with the bear trap strapped to its arm but it missed the deadly hit at the pony’s head as she ducked under the blow and stabbed the blades strapped to the shaft dep into the stomach of the thing. It went limp on the end of the spear before collapsing to the floor. Yanking the blade out she brought it to one of the legs and started hacking at it. Light green blood splattered against the ground before the limb came off.

Twilight took deep breaths to slow her heart down as she shook the blood off the blades of the spear before sliding it back onto her back. She took time to look over the person and one thing she noted was that the suit that it wore may not be a suit and instead be its actual skin since it was totally fused to the meat underneath, no separation between suit and body inside.

“Were they human or were they artificially made to be like this?” The scientist inside her ask aloud as she looked over the body. “How would they eat with no visible mouth and the mouth a human uses being totally gone and replaced with the gas mask?”

Twilight just wished she had her old lab in her castle but she was stuck with just quickly looking, it wasn’t really the safest place to try to perform a necropsy.

Twilight waves her hoof in front of her muzzle to get rid of the deep smoke that came from the wreckage of the two generators that she blew up to stop a pair of the reinforced speakers that she couldn’t destroy with her gun so instead took out the power source.

“Now to help whatever was in that weird tube thing out…” Twilight said with a sigh now that she wasn’t in danger of her head exploding from her shoulders. Leaving the basement she looked around for which of the man tubes with a medical symbol on the front had the occupant in it.

“Hey! Can you hear me?” Twilight yelled out and after a few moments there was a thudding sound from one of the tubes from the inside. “Hey, I’ll get you out of there!” Twilight called out, looking over the case to find a way to release the occupant from inside.

Seeing a large red button she slams her hoof down and with a hiss a door opens up. A woman wearing blood stained clothes stumbled out, hair shaved fully from her head with scars along her mouth, head and neck that could be seen around the large collar clasped around her throat. Twilight thought it was Anne for a moment before she really saw the facial features and the two hands.

The princess could see that blades and claws attached to robotic arms all along the inside of the tube she had released the woman from. Looking back at the woman she saw her stumbled out of the tube. Blinking a few time she winces, as if the act of blinking was causing her a lot of pain.

“Are you okay?” Twilight asked worriedly, she didn’t like the state the woman was in and from how fresh the scars looked she could guess they weren’t there before she went into the tube.

She blinks again as she looked at Twilight in surprise before opening her mouth although nothing came out. Pausing she reaches up to her neck and feels along the scars, looking panicked as she opened her mouth again.

“Careful, it might have cut your vocal cords.” Twilight said trying to calm down the woman.

She looks back at the machine she came from, looking at it worriedly before opening her mouth but still nothing came out. Turning back to the princess and her eyes narrows, hands clenching into fists as she takes a step back.

“Woah, I know how it looks like but I had nothing to do with you being in there.” Twilight said taking a step back.

The woman opens her mouth again, winces, then frowns and drags a finger across her throat in a slow motion, she looks angrier than pained now. Frowning, she touches her throat again gently, then her hand brushes her collar, then her frown deepens. Her eyes narrow as she traces the edge of the collar until she finds the lock. She begins to press it with her fingers.

“Wait!” Twilight yelled quickly, making the woman pause. “It’s a bomb collar, you try to rip it off it’ll go off!”

She looks surprised and her hands recoil from the collar as if it burnt her hand. After a moment she looked in confusion and pointed down at the pony and it took a moment for Twilight to realize that the woman was pointing at the collar around her own neck.

“Yeah… I’m kind of in the same boat as you at the moment, I’m just trying to get my friend and get out of here.” She said before sighing.

The woman’s brow furrowed, eyes narrowing slightly before she shook her head.

Twilight looked at her in confusion. “What do you mean by that?”

The woman just shakes her head again before pointing between the two of them.

“Look, I want to get out of here but to do that I need your help.”

She just shook her head again and crossed her arms over her blood covered chest.

“We are tied together right now, if my collar goes off yours goes off and vis versa.” Twilight stated with a frustrated sigh.

The woman frowns, glances at the collar then looks back to Twilight. She makes a circle with her hands, puts her hand over her eyes and squints. She nods at you, then lowers her hand from her eyes, shakes her head. She draws a slow line between the two of them.

“You’re trying to find something?” Twilight asked flatly. “It seems everyone is!”

Twilight sighed tiredly, her hooves clacking against the cobbled street as she went to the commercial area of the villa for the third person she had to collect for the large floating old man. So far it had been quite dull, not much besides run down store fronts made from rotten wood and moss covered stones.

The one thing that kind of worried the pony was the heavy pink fog that bellowed out of the broken windows and doorways although it didn’t seem to affect the street besides the slight tinge of color that was everywhere.

She wanted to call out for the person she had to look for considering there were endless numbers of stores that disappeared into the distance.

“This is ridiculous.” Twilight grumbled to herself before just going to one of the stores where if the sign were to be trusted once sold all manner of wonderful things known as the Shake Weight but she didn’t care about that, just calling on her magic for one large use of force.

Like a strong wind the fog got blown quickly or of the store front, the walls stained with a crimson color. Climbing through the window she knew it probably wouldn’t be long before the cloud came back in and she didn’t want to find out what it did to people caught inside.

As soon as that thought came to her she tripped over what must have been a broken floor board or something sticking through the floor. With a grunt she quickly scrambled to her hooves and looked at what tripped her.

“Ah!” She yelled scrambling back in fright as she was greeted with a mutilated human skull that seemed if it were made from melted wax. And the more she looked at it the more she noticed that it wasn’t just a skull, but a skeleton that was almost unrecognizable. It had seemed to have melded to the ground itself, not even just a puddle on the ground but a part of the floor.

Looking around she saw a couple more, each seeming to have melted into the floor like bones shouldn’t do. “Is this what the gas does?!” Twilight exclaimed quickly scrambling towards the way she came. “That can’t be something natural!” She yelled trying to shake the images from her head of what it would have been like for them to have been alive with this.

“Well, it isn’t natural princess.” A muffled voice said from behind the pony.

Quickly spinning around she ripped the rifle off her back and pointed it towards whoever spoke. She almost pulled the trigger when she saw another one of the shrouded people stood before her with a spear in one hand and a bear-trap strapped to the other missing half arm. “Woah!’ It said through the filter as it held up its hand and weaponized stump. “It’s me Twilight!”

Slowly lowering the gun she noted many familiar things, like the missing arm, pip-boy on the other. “Anne?” Twilight asked. “Is that you?”

“I would expect so!” Anne said happily.

“Why are you wearing that?” The pony asked in confusion.

“Well… From what I could see that cloud was acidic of sorts so I managed to get one of these suits cause those ghost people seemed just fine in the cloud wearing it… But the suit kinda melted and all the buckles fused closed… And I think the rubber on my right leg has fused to my skin, don’t bother trying to cut it off, I’ve tried…”

Chapter 57

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“So we need to break into that not at all creepy hotel for some crazy old guy in hopes he lets us go and doesn’t decide to detonate our bomb collars…” Anne recapped just to make sure she heard what her friend explained.

“Pretty much.”

“Well then, hopefully they have blackjack, I got kicked out of the ones in The Strip and I can’t play anymore…”

Twilight didn’t even want to know how she got herself kicked out of shady looking casinos, but she doubted that the Serria Madre would have any open tables.

“I only have one more person to collect and then hopefully we would almost be done with all this stuff.”

“So now even the radios are trying to kill us…” Anne grumbled through her gas mask as she flicked the power button on the side of a small ham radio on a table, always keeping an eye on the nightkin inside one of the cells of the police station they were in incase he tried to get out. Chains were wrapped along his body and a bear trap was biting into the skin of one of his arms.

“Could be worse…” Twilight said looking around, pulling out a small revolver from a drawer and looking it over. It used .387 rounds like Lucky did but the barrel was quite short and the gun was very compact.

“Twilight, I’ve melted slightly in my suit, I don’t think it can get much worse for me.” Anne said flatly as she went to look for the armory for anything other than a revolver she wouldn’t be able to reload herself.

Sighing Twilight looked around until she found a staircase that went downwards to the basement of the. Walking down the stairs she went into the rusty metal room, jumping slightly as a low deep voice came through the intercom. “Knew you would come, below the cage... down to where I am. Maybe you saw the letters I scratched on the Villa walls.” It said. After a few moments when nothing else was said she went deeper into the basement.

“A little farther. Follow my voice... that's it. The one in the cage? Dog. I had to lock him up. He keeps... disobeying me.” It returned, causing the pony to look around as a shiver went up her back.

The further she walked the more the voice spoke to her until she got to a room with an old table against the wall. After turning off the ham radio on it to stop the beeping from her collar. Once it was turned off she spotted a tape on the table.

“That's me, there, on the table. The disk. Can't take any chances, though... you may be some victim who simply stumbled down here. If so, can't let you let Dog out... no, not yet. If you're who I think you are, you came to fetch Dog, use him to drag others here. Now I'll use you - and that Pip-Boy you're wearing. You're smart. Clever. The key to Dog's cage is simple. Take my voice to the cage above. Let me speak to the beast inside. Then you and I... we can talk.”

Twilight could tell after that the voice was a recording since she wasn’t wearing a pip-boy like her friend upstairs, it must be referring to Anne.

Going back upstairs she looked around for some way to play the tape by the cage the nightkin was inside huddled in the middle of the cell, lash marks carved into his back flesh. “Hey Anne! I have a table that I need played!” Twilight yelled out.

“Coming!” Came a reply before a shrouded person came down the stairs with a very large looking rifle in her arms, although only one hand held the handle while the other just had the gun rested upon it. “What tape?”

Twilight holds up the tape in her magic which gets snatched out by Anne. Resting the gun against her leg she clicks open a hatch on her pip-boy before clicking in the hatch again.

As soon as it clicked in the deep voice came from her pip-boy in a tin voice. “Dog! Back in your cage!” It bellowed.

The super mutant on the floor sat up, getting to his feet and facing the two. On his chest carved into his flesh was the single word, DOG, with chains around his neck and arms.

“You are not who I was expecting.” The mutant said in the same deep voice. “I am disappointed. Still... even if you aren't my intended guest, you take direction. Good. You can't have been an idiot to figure out how to release me from my cage... or perhaps you are, with that leash on your arm and the one around your neck... with our collars and manacles, why, we may as well be kin.” He said in a slightly mocking tone of voice.

Twilight and Anne didn’t know what to say to the mutant, Twilight speaking first and just saying. “That carving on your chest… Are you dog?”

He glanced down to his chest. “The carving's a reminder, for mirrors and for Dog.” He said before his face twisted to one of disgust. “Dog, who you heard coming in, howling and hungry, as always. I've been trapped in here for some time, then you come along and let me out. So... you opened my cage for a reason. Now... I want to know why.”

“He has Multiple Personality Disorder.” Anne whispered to Twilight to clarify.

“MPD? That causes from massive amounts of trauma…” Twilight noted.

“Trauma… Yes as a manner of speaking.” The mutant stated before point down along his body. “Do you see the wounds covering his skin? The beartrap on his arm? He put his hand into it. The name he carved in his chest? To remind him of who he is, he inflicts pain on himself to silence me, when all I try to do-” He said before grunting in pain and shaking his head. “He cuts, hurts, and tries to murder me out of him. He won't succeed, just makes me angrier. Dog is a beast, we simply change cages, like the ones here.”

“Well I’m looking someone with a collar like ours.” Twilight said tapping her large bulky collar and looking at Anne who had a bulging rubber neck as her collar was under the suit.

“It's close. Closer than I'd like...” He said. “Dog's been into things, needs to think before he eats, chew before he swallows. He's... eager that way. Now the collar's a part of me, inside. I can feel its electronic heartbeat, clicking and burning down below... like before. It was cold and heavy before going in the cage... now you're here, and it's pulling and kicking again, tugging like a leash. Interesting.”

Twilight grimaced at the thought of swallowing an explosive collar and she could guess Anne did the same although it wasn’t visible.

“We… Need to get out of here then…” Anne said.

“You need to distinguish yourself from the other ghosts, Dog will try to eat you.” The mutant stated.

Anne paused for a moment. “I guess I’ll be right back then.” She said walking off.

Turning back to the mutant Twilight sighed tiredly. “I need to get you out of that cage to follow me.”

“No... No, I don't think so. Even in here, I have more control than you do. I'm not leaving until the one who controls the collars shows... not his voice, not his hand, not his lackey... him. And when he comes to see me, we'll settle things. So go on, go back to your master, and tell him I'm waiting for him. Dog may follow him. I won't.”

“Look, our collars are tied together, if you don’t come he’ll kill both of us.” Twilight pleaded.

“Then I still win. I'd rather die in this cell than have Dog follow him any longer, follow his orders, his commands, desperate for recognition. The Old Man... He has the need to hold on, to the past, to the Madre... I'd rather be free, let go of this shell than have it cage me any longer.” The mutant said.

“Sounds like dog would be more willing to get out.” Anne said returning. Twilight looked at her in confusion, the woman was now wearing what looked like an old vest over her chest with the word SECURITY blazed upon the chest and back in bright yellow lettering.

The mutant smirks, which unsettled the princess. “Dog? You're not talking to him now are you? No, even if you could drag Dog out of his cage you still couldn't get him out of this cage. I put him here for a reason... if he could have escaped he would have. So here he stays.”

“You wouldn’t have locked yourself in there without some form of key with you in there.” Anne stated crossing her arms over her chest.

“The key? Why it's the Old Man, the one who brought us here. I hid the key on me so Dog wouldn't know... I just need the Old Man to show up, so he and I can talk. If Dog was in control when the Old Man appeared... well he would just do whatever he commanded as always. And I can't have that.”

“Dog... obeys. Yes. Why... do you have some means of contacting the Old Man?” The mutant asks unsurely.

“I have his voice in the logs of my Pip-Boy” Anne stated holding up her arm.

“You wouldn’t dare!” He bellowed. “If you do that I’ll find a way out of the cage and when I do I’ll shatter your bones and murder you!”

“Calm down, if you follow willingly I won’t do it.” Anne said.

“No, you wouldn't.” He said calmly. “If you did, you won't escape this place alive. I'd shatter every one of your limbs to splinters and leave you here. You think I'm afraid of your collar exploding, killing us? No, I'll leave you breathing, then keep walking until my collar goes cold. I'll prop your broken body in view of the Sierra Madre so you can see what you came to steal... forever out of reach as you die.”

“I have the power to let Dog out of his cage. I'm going to prove it by not doing it” Anne said smugly.

“Hnh, No... No, you're not. Even though Dog's more docile... easier to control. You may regret this. This place... this place is where creatures like Dog can survive. The people that fill its streets... He is as vicious, more vicious than them. His hunger can help you more than I can. When I am in control... this shell is difficult to... fight in.”

“I’d rather someone who can see reason.” Anne stated.

The mutant was silent for a moment before a deep laughing came from his maw. “I am not sure you belong here. No, you don't belong here yet... you came this far. And I'm not interested in remaining here any longer. I'll unlock the cage.”

Reaching along his leg he pulled a small rusty key that was stabbed into the makeshift shoe he was wearing before going over to the cage. The door opens with a screech of metal on metal the mutant steps out.

“We’ll meet at the fountain in the middle of the villa.” Twilight stated.

“Good, well done... now, for the festivities, and your parts in all this. The owner of the Sierra Madre... for whatever reason... keyed the Grand Opening to the Gala Event itself. It needs to be fired off in order for the casino doors to open. As I've discovered one person can't do it. So, get your team into position indicated on your Pip-Boy, then trigger it properly. You're so close now, don't let me down. Otherwise, I'll have to rely on the next team.” The five heard from the floating image of the old man above the fountain in the middle of the villa before disappearing.

“Well…” Anne said muffled through the mask. “Ain’t no rest for the wicked.”

Chapter 58

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Both Twilight and Anne looked unsurely at Dog as they lead him to where they needed to go since the other; which they called ‘God’ since it seemed to be opposite of Dog. God refused to go to where they needed to go so they had to play an audio of the old man to bring out the beast since he would listen to them.

But Anne didn’t like how Dog was always trying to sneak a bite out of the woman, he seemed to like the ghost people’s taste… That was rather clear when he rushed ahead of all of them to tear apart a ghost person, tearing an arm off with his bare hands and immediately eating the flesh from the bones.

But one thing they didn’t expect was a rusty fire extinguisher go flying past them and before exploding. Looking where it came from they saw another ones of the ghosts, a bit thinner and more feminine than others bring their arm back to throw another. Before it could happen Anne pulled out a pistol she had strapped to her leg and took a shot, bullet impacting against the side before exploding in its grip. The body got flung to the side and slammed against the wall, arm blown clear from the body.

Blowing the smoke out the end of her barrel she grins before looking down at Twilight. “Can you reload for me?”

God wasn’t happy when he got switched back to at the place he needed to be which was a small area with half a dozen old rusted switches, fused shut and they didn’t look like they would move again. A rusty door that looked fused open to the stonework to go to the switches hung in its frame.

“Now that we’re here what do you want me to do?” God asked glaring at the pair.

“We just need you to wait here for the Gala Event to begin to pull the switches.” Twilight said with a shrug.

“You can lead me to water... no, being trapped in this courtyard while lights are flashing and sirens are screaming... I can survive one or two of the inhabitants, more than that, even Dog would have to work to keep full without being carved to pieces. And the gate here, if it somehow got locked, it'd be the holding cell at the Police Station again, except with no way out.” The mutant stated.

Before the princess could answer Anne spoke up, resting the barrel of the large machine gun on her damaged arm while to hold it steady while the other held the handle. She was scanning around their behind in case any of the Ghost people tried to come. “I don’t care if I sound like a dick here but I’d much rather have to deal with a sane super mutant as opposed to one that wants to eat me.”

Twilight rolled her eyes.

The mutant’s eyes narrowed slightly in confusion. “Really, and why is that? Dog is much more... docile. Obedient.”

“Let’s face it, Dog isn’t that smart, I’d trust someone who knows what they’re doing to be manning the switches.” Anne said glancing over her shoulder at the two before snapping back the way they came.

The mutant stays silent for a few moments before saying. “You're right, but trust? Trust is such a... harsh word. I prefer... mutual need, It's more honest.” He stated looking over at to some scrawling on a brick in the wall. “No, I can help you. These wiring diagrams... I know how to operate the switches in sequence to make fire appear in the sky. I... we just need to make sure that Dog doesn't surface before that happens. To do that he'll need to be fed, that makes him stay in the Cage.”

“You are not eating me!” Anne yelled out turning herself around.

“Not you.” He stated. “Dog has torn apart a number of the inhabitants of this town. While he doesn't prefer them to... other flesh, it'll do for the time being. Find some of the inhabitants, it'll require some hunting on your part. Kill them, take some of the remains inside them, and bring it back here. They're not easy to kill. But... I have faith in you, and the beast must be fed if you want him to stay in this cage.”

“Okay, we’ll get you some lunch!”

“I thought it might be easier than this.” Anne stated as she used an old rusty knife to carve through the flesh of the dead ghost person. “I really don’t think we should stay around that pink cloud thing for too long, if just a short amount of time kinda melted my suit to my leg I don't want to guess what happens to long term exposure.”

A sick looking Twilight looked away from the gruesome sight of cut up ghost not witness it and a bit to make sure they didn’t get snuck up upon. “I don’t want to know…” She said but she knew she was about to find out.

“There are no organs in this thing, everything has just melded into one large hunk of meat, no wonder they don’t go down if you stab them a hundred times they don’t go down… there's nothing vital in there!”

“Why do they go down if you cut down a limb then?” Twilight asked.

“I dunno, I think I’ll just take out a large chunk and we’ll move onto the next one.” Anne said.

Hearing a loud wet squishing sound made her cringe but the pony heard her friend get up with a groan. “All done, let’s get going.” Anne said.

Twilight turned around and grimaced at the state of Anne. The vest she had on was stained with the light yellowish green blood along with it dripping off the rubber glove and some on the stump of the missing one. A heshen sack was held over her back with her one arm, dripping with the same yellow liquid.

Sighing they went onto the next one.

“Have you gotten the meat?” The mutant asked as he turned away from the rusty switches along the wall.

“Will this do?” Anne asks holding up a large dripping wet sack to God.

“You're good at fetching... this should keep him where he belongs, for now. I'll wait... send the signal and we'll be ready.”

“So this is where I'm supposed to put on the show? Played better venues, let me tell you. What's that there? Wiring? Looks... looks like it's tied to the sound system in the Villa except for that snipped section there.” The ghoul stated as he looked over the edge of the rooftop the three were stood upon to the ground down below, pink cloud blocking out the end so it made it look endless. “So what? I stand here, hold the two ends in my hands and tap them together like cymbals?”

“That seems to be the plan.” Twilight said unsurely, grabbing Anne’s arm to look at the map on the Pip-boy to make sure they were in the right place.

Yanking her arm back Anne grumbled.

“Do you think you’d be able to that safely?” Twilight asked looking at the two sparking ends of the wires.

“’Safely’? That isn’t a word that comes cheap.” Dean stated as he straightened out his old dusty looking black suit. “Look... I strike up the speaker system, there's going to be ghosts all over this place. Any change in the sounds around here, the Ghost People are not big on talking they are big on listening. Hunting. Killing. More vicious than music critics, trust me.”

“Well what if we clear them out for you so they don’t come?” Twilight offered.

“No, you want to know why? Because there's more beneath the streets, in the buildings, and oh - everywhere else. They hear anything out of the ordinary, especially ‘music’ screaming through the speakers when I close the connection? They'll be here fast.”

“Well the Villa has holograms in that big fountain thing, would it have any more around we could use to distract them?” Anne offered speaking up.

“Well... yeah. If the Hologram systems still work that'd do the trick. Okay, all right, you call up some of those Old World stiffs, that'd be an audience I wouldn't mind having below.”

“Well that settles it, we’ll turn on the holograms and you can stay here.” Anne stated.

“If I remember correctly, there should be two Holograms you can switch on in the area... just don't remember how. Do that, and I'll consider waiting on the rooftop. Maybe.” He stated as he went over to a wall before leaning against it. “Chop Chop, before I change my mind.”

“Why couldn’t it have just been a switch that we could have flicked for that lazy ghoul?” Anne grumbled as they made their way back towards Dean where they left him by the wires.

“He isn’t that bad…” Twilight said softly, although even she knew she was lying when she said that, Dean was very abrasive.

Getting back up the stairs to the roof they saw as Dean sat against the wall smoking a cigarette. “Everything done with?” He asked dropping the butt to the ground before grinding the cinders with his old dress shoe.

“The holograms are hooked up.” Twilight stated, knowing her companion would have less favorable words that would have gotten the ghoul to do the opposite of what they wanted.

“You powered the Holograms up? Well... yeah, that's pretty good protection. Sure worked at the fountain, Vera kept the Ghost People away. But, uh... how do I know the power won't suddenly go out? And... I don't know, this still sounds risky to me. For me.” He stated.

“That will not be happening!” Anne yelled out pushing Twilight out of the way to point a finger angrily at the ghoul. “It has been running for hundreds of years and the one in the fountain still works so why won’t these ones? And have you forgotten that our lives are tied together?!” Anne yelled.

“Well… You have a point.” Dean stated. “I guess I can stay here for a little while. But if you think about going into the Madre all by yourself you need to think otherwise.”

“This looks a bit more complicated that I thought…” Anne stated rubbing the back of her head with a pistol in her hand.

The three, Anne, Twilight and the mute looked over the massive hall with broken electrical equipment piled up around down below the catwalks they were on with a thick concentration of the pink smog down below like a sea of death.

“Well I hope what we need you to do isn’t down there.” Anne stated kicking a bit of rusted metal to the pit down below.

The mute shook her head, grimacing at the prospect of maybe having to go down into the death.

“There must be a ventilation of some kind considering this place is underground, if we activated it we it would be safer to go through.” Anne noted.

“I could try to float one of you over and you could turn them on on the other side.” Twilight offered.

“Float me over princess, I’ll switch the fans on.” Anne said taking her bag off to make sure that she wasn’t as heavy to lift across the quite large gap.

Twilight took a few deep breathes to prepare herself before charging up her horn. A light surrounded the rubber covered woman, her body getting lifted up into the air before she started hovering her way across the gap. Everything was going well until two loud beeps in rapid succession filled the room and a turret that had long rusted away and barely looked functional flared to life and sent one beam of pink energy right at the pony before it exploded into a puff of old metal chunks and wires.

Letting out a cry of pain twilight recoiled as it struck her directly in the chest, causing her to get pushed over and leaving her fur scorched and flesh underneath an angry red.

Twilight’s eye went wide as she snapped herself out from the pain, just in time to hear a loud thud come from down below in the thick cloud.

“Anne!” Twilight called, about to dive herself down to try and rescue her friend but was yanked back by the mute before she could. “No! She’s still alive down there!” She yelled as she tried to pry the woman off her, tears building in her eyes.

The woman pulled Twilight to her chest, hugging her to try and comfort her as she broke down into sobs. How could Anne be gone? And all because of her? If she hadn’t even opened her stupid mouth this wouldn’t have happened.

A soft thudding sound could soon be heard after a minute coming from the other side of the hall, from the stairs that led from the heavy fog. Whipping her head around to look at it she saw a ghost person staggering their way up the stairs from the fog. She thought it was just another ghost until she saw the missing arm.

“Anne!” Twilight said, smile from ear to ear as tears of joy came from her eyes.

Anne didn’t say anything, just weakly waving before she staggered along the walkways and opened a rusted door before disappearing further into the complex and after a few more minute longer a loud humming could be heard along with a wind filling the air and the cloud faded away and left nothing more but a red stain on the rubble below.

Chapter 59

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It didn’t take long for Twilight and the mute to rush their way down the stairs through the rubble and back up in the direction Anne went and after a few minutes they managed to find her slouched against a wall as she tried to pull a large length of rusty rebar out from one of her legs, the other was bent at an odd angle.

“Anne! Let me help you!” Twilight said quickly going over to Anne, horn glowing.

“Wait.” Anne said, voice rough and dry as she held up a hand. “It’s stuck in there.” She croaked out.

“We could use some Med-X, it won’t hurt and we can pull it out.” Twilight offered quickly, not caring about the risk of getting addicted again as long as she could help her friend for something she felt was her fault.

“No. It’s stuck.” Anne repeated. “It’s fused to my leg, it’s literally a part of my bones now.” She grumbled.

Twilight’s eyes went wide. “Anne I’m so sor-“

Before Twilight could finish her sentence however when the woman reached out and clamped her muzzle shut with her hand, not allowing her to speak. “Don’t need to apologize… You did nothing wrong.”

“But I dropped you.”

“I know, but you didn’t do it on purpose so I don’t blame you.” She said in a weak voice.

“Are you hurt anywhere else?” Twilight asked worriedly as she looked over her friend.

“I think I broke a few ribs…” Anne noted with a groan. “Just help me up, let’s get everything over with.”

Twilight nodded, going to one side of her as the mute went to the other, and slowly helped Anne to her feet. She stumbled up slightly and let out a few pained groans. “I’m not going to be useful anymore… You’ll have to leave me behind until you’re done with everything else.”

“No, I’m not leaving you here!” Twilight stated firmly.

“I don’t mean here, by the fountain cause that seemed safe and I’ll hold onto a gun as well, but I can barely stand, I’ll just be holding you back and will get both of us killed!” Anne explained. “Don’t worry princess, I’ll be fine, just don’t take too long, I want this thing off.” She said referring to the suit. “It’s starting to smell.”

Twilight and the mute moved further into the complex as Anne made her way back to the fountain. While she was heading back Twilight set up the mute at her station, chatting with her even though it was only one sided.

But now it left Twilight heading to where she needed to be to set off the Gala, high in an old clock tower that held itself above the thick cloud of pink and gave a perfect view of the hotel above the villa, its outline visible in the dark sky.

“Everything should be ready, start the Gala and the secrets of the Madre will be mine.” The old man said through her collar once at the tower. “Let me patch you through to the others.”

After a few moments a tapping sound could be heard from the speaker.

“That you…?” Twilight said, not really wanting to call her mute but she didn’t know the name of the woman. “Are you ready?”

A single tap came back in response.

“We both are ready to begin.” A rough deep voice stated after another few moments and then a smoother voice. “Don’t stand around for too long, once we strike up the band all those Ghosts will be out in force.

“Alright everyone. Let’s get started.”

Twilight lingered for a few moments as she watched the spotlights light up and shine along the walls of the casino, music blaring from speakers around the villa and soon the loud bangs as fireworks filled the sky and lit the once dark clouds with the number of colorful explosions.

Twilight wanted to just stay up in the tower, not having to deal with everything else but that was quickly discarded when a makeshift spear clattered along the walls of the tower and a peak over the railing could show that a small grouping of the ghosts were readying spears to lob at the princess.

“Better get moving…”

Using other words than grand to try and describe the Serra Madre would be impossible, with the gold leaf filling in intricate carvings along the once polished surface which was now tinted red with the traces of the cloud. Pushing it open with a grunt of magical effort she managed to push it open, soon walking inside.

But barely inside had she spotted four familiar figures laying still on the floor, all the people that she had been working with in the villa including Anne and before a loud hissing filled her ears. Looking around she noted the familiar color to the gas and with a sigh she knew what it was and before she knew it her sight grew blurry and soon faded to darkness.

By the times she woke the air was silent and clear, with the still figures gone from the floor of the entrance room of the casino. Around her were the bones of long dead people, from before the war with the oldness and dryness of the bones.

The floor that while covered in a thick layer of dust and grime still let through the sight of the intricate tile work in patterns. The railings of the balconies above were gold plated much like many of the decorations of the casino.

The large staircase drew her attention when a glowing blue woman could be seen walking up it, see through. She was wearing a long flowing dress with only one shoulder strap, her hair left down along her and just as she walked up the stairs she blinked out of existence.

Blinking in confusion twilight slowly got to her hooves, looking around at where she might be needed to go.

“You inside. Can you hear me? Power's fluctuating... emergency power. Oh! You are in.” A voice came from her collar until a few crackling pops could be heard from speakers around the casino. “Good, thought that might be the end of you. Unfortunately your... ‘friends’ also found their way here. Knocked unconscious just like you. Wondering what happened? You were hit by casino security. Detects anything foreign, radioactive, it subdues the ‘visitor,’ moves them if needed. Hnh, getting interference from old recordings... the guests who were trapped here... eh, shut that noise off... Looks like the casino moved your ‘friends’ around once inside... might be useful. Or not. Wonder if they came to help or kill you. Still... My signal should work through the speakers, now that you're inside. Heh, heh! Welcome to the Sierra Madre, in all its glory. This is what the Old World stood for, even with bombs about to rain down on them. Now look at it. Beautiful... now its guests are all dead. Better this way. Quiet. How the Mojave should be. Now, with the casino sleeping, it's got places closed off, won't let you go yet. We'll get there, trust me, just need to wake it up.”

“Fine.” Twilight grumbled before sighing tiredly, it seems getting knocked out by gas doesn’t let you have a restful sleep.

Twilight winced as just after the pulling the power breaker switch the lights of the casino blew to full blast which was an assault on her one natural eye while the other seemed perfectly adjusted and a simple peek out of the small maintenance room and relaxed when she saw that the holograms of armored security guards were gone and replaced with bland men in suits behind gambling tables.

The voice of the old man soon cracked through the speakers again. “Casino's woken up, paying attention to us. Good. Wondering what happened to your team? Looks like they got moved to other floors. Interesting, maybe that's why... hmmm. Yes... yes. Perhaps the casino recognized specific guests... or guests with a voice or look close enough for them to be assigned to that floor. We'll see. Had hoped with the power restored, the systems would fully awaken... especially the sound archives. But no... your teammates' collars on each floor are interfering with the systems. It's the white noise filters embedded in their construction... they're blocking the casino speakers, the music. You'll need to recalibrate... or destroy... each collar. To do that, you need to get close, re-set the signal, or blow their heads off. I'll leave the choice up to you, my preference? End them now. They're of no use. After all, it's safe to kill them now, provided you make it quick. You see, the collars don't work inside the Sierra Madre... well, between floors. Else, I'd set off the collars, be done with it. So find them, deal with them, as long as you're fast and can get off the floor after killing them. The floors... whatever they lined this place with, interferes with the collar frequency... so if you kill them, you should have some time to run. Uh... just not sure how long, may not be consistent. More... less... whatever, it doesn't matter. What we need is in the basement, we need to go to the top first and ride our fortunes down. After we deal with your team on the other floors.”

“I’m not killing anyone.” Twilight said looking around but she didn’t get a response.

With a tired sigh she decided she might as well get started.

The theater was rather impressive to look at when she entered, the stage was rather large with a center part extended out with chairs around much like a runway for a fashion show with a microphone in its stand at the end and the name DEAN DOMINO in neon lights at the other end. Around the stage were once polished wooden tables and chairs that seemed to not care about being comfortable and more just look fancy enough that people wouldn’t care. There was a pair of skeletons at one of the tables, one having fallen from its seat to the ground with a half empty bottle of whisky in its bony grasp.

Walking in she looked around for signs of anyone inside, since it was indicated that one of the active collars was inside along with eh old man commenting again telling her to ‘break the ghoul’ or kill him so she could only guess who it was.

“Finally, a friendly face, or whatever you have... hey! Partner!” A familiar voice called out but she couldn’t see where it was coming from. “Up here.” Continued and Twilight spotted a familiar suited ghoul on a walkway above the stage where curtains would have once hidden. “In a bit of a predicament here... had to duck backstage, take a powder, the audience is a little... murderous tonight.”

“How did you get up there?” Twilight called out in confusion.

“No idea... woke up here, thought I was dreaming for a second... right back on stage, the mic... Thought I was back at the Fronds... well, except no audience, used to pack theaters back then... so stepped up on the stage, check things out… Then suddenly Holograms walked out of the wings... and they started raising their hands to their heads all creepy-like, not a good sign.”

“Holograms? I didn’t see any around this part since I turned off the lockdown.”

“Look... those ghosts are going to come out of the wings behind you in a second, the security types, not the ‘friendly’ bald types. And if you got in here, the door's probably locked tight behind you, so don't back up or run for the exit, you're not going to make it. Trust me, as soon as you can, run to the door to the left - use the key you got out of the music rag there, and camp out. As bad as things are, it's going to get a lot worse if either of us pops, so get backstage... until we get a better plan.” He said as he made to quickly hide backstage again.

“Wait!” Twilight quickly yelled out. “My left or your left?” She asked quickly.

“What? Oh, my left, your right. So, yeah, run to the door on your right. Heh, almost got you killed there. Us killed there.”

Twilight sighed in annoyance but before anyone could say anything else a beam of blue light went shooting right in front of Twilight’s head and a quickly glance as she was diving to the side showed her the hologram of a security guard with his hands to the sides of his head as his eyes glowed brightly.

“I hate these things!”

Chapter 60

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The princess held the revolver in front of her face as she took aim at the sparking speaker on the wall, just out of the range that caused the collar to start to beep in warning. Pulling the trigger the old metal box exploded into dust and metal shards that clattered against the old floor of the backstage.

“That should be the last one…” She mumbled to herself as she clicked the cylinder to the side and pulled out the empty case and slid in a fresh bullet to the gun.

Walking inwards to the old dressing room of the backstage area with the name Verra inside a large yellow star, obvious that it was a dressing room and stepping inside she was slightly disappointed when the insides looked very bare and empty, just a dirty red silk dress on the table along with a tape with the words ‘I Saw Her Yesterday Hologram’

“There should be a tape of a performance in there, if you play that it should quiet down the critical ghosts.” The voice of Dean said through a voice speaker on the wall, something that didn’t activate the explosive collars.

Twilight sighed in annoyance, she remembered spotting a projector back in the main stage area, where the holograms of guards were walking around.

“Great.”

Sliding in the tape she made sure that the guards weren’t looking at her, just glowing a light orange in warning that they knew someone was around but as soon as she pressed play the started flickering before they just vanished and music started to hum through near broken speakers. And soon, a hologram of a man popped into existence by the microphone on the stage

“When an unstoppable force such as you, meets an immovable such as me. Something’s got to give, something’s gotta give.” He sung, as more holograms popped up to listen to the song and as soon as it started the music cut off and all the holograms shut off.

“This has gone on long enough, deal with the ghoul.” The old man said through the speaker in her collar before cutting off again.

“I’m not killing anyone.” She grumbled as she made her way back down to the main area of the hall, soon seeing the musical ghoul walk out from back stage, bow tie not seeming crinkled in the least.

“Those electric ghosts aren't the kind of audience I like at the best of times, at least the ones in the Villa had manners. Don't even know how I ended up here... guess the casino still recognizes guests even after all this time, huh? How's that for history.” He stated.

“Are you alright?” Twilight asks as she sighed tiredly, she hoped this all would be over soon and she could just sleep at the Lucky 38 for a month straight.

“Yeah, now. Talk about a captive audience. Or captive entertainer? Eh, whatever.” He stated. “Look, I'm more about the short goodbyes than long thankful speeches... but I appreciate you bailing me out of a tight spot there partner. I know you didn't do it out of the goodness of your heart. So let me give you something a little more practical, a way we both come out ahead.”

Twilight looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“I'm not an idiot. I know the reason I'm in here now is because of the old guy… and you. And you're wearing a collar, so I trust you a little more than the old guy. He's more controlling than I'd like. Thing is, here's where being my partner pays off. See, I know how to get into the casino vault.”

From the look of confusion from the pony he elaborated. “There's a private elevator, Sinclair's elevator. It's up in the Executive Suites, in Vera's room, not a coincidence. Vera. She was... my other partner, before the Bomb. Took some legwork, some convincing, made it happen.”

“Don’t mean to be rude.” She stated insincerely. “But I just want to get everything dealt with quickly so I can go home.”

“So here's the short of it, piece together Little Miss Vera Keyes' song in the right order? Sierra Madre opens its legs, we're in business.”

Next Twilight headed her way towards the medical bay of the casino, knowing that the building probably dragged Anne up there considering how bad a state she was in. Since she didn’t really trust the elevator of this place she took the stairs up to the med bay, having to sneak past the angry holograms that didn’t like her being around.

The medical room was rather over the top for the Casino, lined with many beds that may have once been comfortable but now rotted away till only cloth and metal springs remained. There was a skeleton of what remained of a nurse slumped against one wall, revolver near its boney fingers and a hole in the side of its head and long dried blood against the wall. She spotted a few other bodies in a couple of the beds which also had holes in the skulls.

There were a few of the large medical tubes that she found the mute in and this one was whirring away loudly, the sounds of an electric saw cutting something hard not a good sign from inside. And another one also had loud mechanical sounds coming from inside.

Going to the first one she looked around for some way to open it before she found a large red button on the side that had ‘STOP’ on it and with a press of that the saw spun itself down and with a hiss the door slowly opened.

Standing in front of it she didn’t expect a large pile of dusty bone shards to tumble down onto her, dust scattering everywhere and staining her front. Coughing to clear the air in front of her she took a step back and patted herself down to try and quickly get the dust from her.

“Let’s try door number two.” She said going to the other tube.

Pressing the same ‘STOP’ button she got ready in case anything fell out and she was glad she did when the limp form of Anne slumped out of the tube and was going to collapse straight onto the floor.

The woman let out a cry of pain as she collapsed forward, face contorted into agony as the princess made sure that she didn’t collapse to the floor in a heap. She knew it was the woman since the rubber suit had been removed although it left her with angry looking scars along her flesh where it looked like some parts of her skin were just removed and dripped blood down her body along with chemical burns along her body. One thing that quickly where once her leg had a large rod of metal going through it was gone… but so was the leg from halfway down the thigh and it wasn’t sealed up in any way so it was pouring blood down in a steady pace.

Quickly the pony didn’t linger on the problem, quickly taking her friend to the most whole bed that was left and putting her down. Quickly she looked around her pockets for a Stimpak and jabbed it into her leg, which wasn’t that easy with Anne squirming around in pain as she whimpered.

The bleeding stopped but Anne still made pitiful sounds. “Anne, can you hear me?” Twilight asked in worry, quickly looking around for anything she could use to cover the wounds covering her naked friend.

She didn’t respond, just trying to curl into a ball on the bed as she started sobbing as Twilight came back and started wrapping her up in some bandages that looked mostly clean and with a bit of rubbing alcohol soaked into it she felt it was safe enough to use. “Anne, come on speak to me.”

Anne peaked out from behind her fetal position, looking at Twilight with pained and terrified eyes. “T-Twilight..?” She asked in a tiny dry voice.

“It’s me Anne.” Twilight said resting a hoof on her side, she had only seen Anne close to this way when she was going through withdrawals.

The woman pulled the princess to her tightly on the bed, crying into her shoulder, the sounds echoing through the clinic.

“I guess it just didn’t have any drugs and stuff inside it.” Anne said quietly once she had mostly gotten calmed down by her friend. “Didn’t even knock me out…”



“So…” Twilight said looking at her missing leg, now wrapped in bandages.

“Yeah…” She said sadly. “I was awake throughout the entire thing… It was the most painful thing I had ever felt, it went on for at least two hours. At least with my arm it just… Blew up and I got it sealed up quickly, with this it took most of that time just peeling my skin off where the suit fused to it and carving away at my leg slowly.” She stated. “I… I heard as it cut through the bone and felt as every nerve was carved away.”

Twilight didn’t say anything, hoof resting in her friends hand as she just listened to her, being there for her since there wasn’t much she could say to help her through this situation.

“Did you… Happen to get any drinks in this place?” Anne asked after a few moments of silence to the friend, putting on a pained grin.

“No, I don’t really drink unless you manage to talk me into it…” Twilight said rolling her eyes. “I did see some stuff in the casino area of the… casino. I can go get some for you if you want it.”

“I just… Need to drink something heavy right now.” Anne said sadly.

Twilight just nodded. “I can do that.” She stated, pulling her pistol out and leaving it next to her on the bed to protect her while she was gone.

Twilight didn’t linger around the casino, even though running up and down the stairs tired her a lot she just wanted to get back to her friend quickly. When she managed to get back with a bottle of everything she could find, some whiskey, vodka, bourbon, wine, just anything she could find. Anne was sat up on the side of the bed she had been put on, looking down at her missing leg with a blank expression, her half arm hanging limply but in the other she had the revolver.

“I’m back.” Twilight said going over to the remains of the bed in front of her friend, dropping them with loud clinking sounds.

“What am I going to do now..?” Anne asked in a voice barely audible, holding the pistol in her lap as she stared at it.

“Well WE’RE going to get out of here first chance we get.” Twilight said just grabbing one of the bottles which was rum and pulling the cap off before floating it in front of the woman.

She didn’t react to the bottle, barely moving as she looked at the pistol. “And do what when we get back? I can’t walk back, I’m barely half the person I was when I first met you, why do I even bother to keep going?” She asked, seeming to ask herself more than Twilight.

The pony was worried by the tone of her voice, slowly putting down the bottle to the side as she walked up to her friend. “Anne. You’re my friend, if you didn’t help me when you first saw me I would have died a hundred times over and after all I’ve seen there aren’t many who would have done that.” She stated calmly. “While you try to act like an idiot sometimes and succeed a lot of them I know that you do things because you want to help people, deep down it isn’t about the reward but the adventure involved and the people you can help along the way.”

“But I can’t do anything now. I’m not getting out of here, it could be hundreds of miles back to the Mojave and even if I get back what would I even do? I can’t fight, I’m missing my arm and I can’t move. One of my legs are gone and the other one I can’t feel anything in.” She said, thumb pulling back the hammer of the revolver.

There was silence for a few moments, what Anne was thinking about doing sinking into Twilight. What Anne didn’t expect was the loud crack that went through the air and her head whipping to the side. Her eyes were wide in surprise as her stub reached up at her stinging cheek.

Looking back over to Twilight in surprise she saw her still holding her hoof up with tears streaming down her face with a sad and angry expression. “Don’t go feeling sorry for yourself.” She stated shaking her head through clenched teeth.

Anne was in too much shock at what was happening to respond.

“The Anne I know doesn’t stop no matter the odds.” She continued. “Who will jump in the line of fire to help people no matter the personal risk. Even after losing your arm you still kept fighting so what is a leg going to do? You always find away, you’re hard headed like that but that’s why I stick around still!”

Twilight brought herself forward, pulling Anne into a tight hug as she buried her muzzle into her shoulder. “Y-you’re like a sister I never had… and don’t you dare take that away from me.”

After a few moments there was a clanking sound as the revolver clattered to the floor and Anne wrapped her arms around the pony.

The two sat in each other’s arms, soon falling asleep, everything catching up on the two.

Chapter 61

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Neither friend knew how long it took for them to wake up, since there were no windows that looked outside the building as if it were built as a fortress and not so much to be a luxury hotel and casino. When they did wake up there weren’t many words shared between the two as Twilight got up and Anne just sat on the corner of the bed since she wasn’t able to stand up. It took a while for them to come up with an idea, even though it was very simple, just using a wooden crutch that was able to support her weight, which took a few tries to find. But it also meant she wasn’t really able to use a gun if she wanted to be upright, just a pistol on her hip which Twilight was hesitant to allow but knew she would need a way to defend herself if anything came after the crippled woman.

“I’ll find a place to hide in the main lobby, just give a call and I’ll come out.” Anne said once the two slowly made their way towards said lobby, Anne not used to moving with only one leg and a crutch.

Twilight nodded as they walked. “I found Dean but I need to find God and the other lady.”

Approaching the kitchen where she was lead towards she could hear the familiar voices of God and Dog arguing with each other, themselves…

“The FEV reject has locked himself in the kitchen, try to find a way into the kitchen and deal with him.” The old man stated before once again going silent.

With a sigh Twilight started looking for another way to get into the kitchen and after ten minutes she found a key with a tag that read ‘Maintenance’ and after a prolonged crawl through the bowels of the building she entered the pantry for the kitchen and the first thing that became very apparent was the overwhelming stench of Methane gas, making her feel dizzy.

“You need to shut off the gas before that idiot kills us all. If he causes a spark or hi collar goes off the Madre will go up in flames. Killing the both of us.”

Twilight heard more yelling between the two personalities come from behind the door and after quickly plugging up a pipe that was spraying out gas with some cloth which while wouldn’t stop the flow it would at least slow it down a bit in this crack in the pipe.

Entering the kitchen proper she saw Dog, or God, holding a grenade in his massive hand and was getting ready to pull the pin.

“WAIT!” Twilight called out as she quickly ran over, the air seeming to warp from the high levels of flammable gas. “Don’t do it!”

His head turned to look at Twilight. “You...? Master... no, not Master. Dog remembers you. Left Dog in cage, mean to Dog... now, Dog...” He said before his voice changed to the calmer one. “Hrnnn... will kill us both unless you do something. Never felt him so strong before, he won't listen to my voice. He's... he's...” He said before shaking his head in pain and Dog coming back.

“Hungry. Come here, or Dog will chase you, break you until you no run anymore.” He growled as he slowly approached the pony.

Doing the first thing she could think of she yelled. “Dog stay!” She yelled. “Or master will get mad!” She continued as she stepped back fearfully.

The mutant paused, his face turning into one of fear of upsetting his master. “Hnnh? Master? Don't want Master to be mad... what does Master want Dog to…”

“Hrnnn... listen to you... can't hold him back much longer... tell him... to pull on his chain, as hard as...”

Twilight looked at him in confusion at what that would do but with it being tied around his neck so tightly already it would end up choking him or snapping his neck if he was strong enough.

“...Dog can. What Master wants, Dog can do. Please don't be mad with Dog...” He whimpered pitifully.

“Dog, the ‘master’ sent me. He wants you to listen to my voice now.” Twilight stated.

“Dog… is listening.”

“...Both of us are. Tell him to listen to me. Then we can get out of this... finally... and...”

“Listening to your voice, only your voice.”

Twilight got an idea, and just hoped to Celestia that it would work out for the best.

“Imagine the voice, not as a voice... but as water. Look at the voice now, what do you see?” She asked.

The mutant closed his eyes “Dog can see the voice.” He said before frowning. “Looks just like Dog...”

“...And Dog looks just like me. You've hurt yourself. Inside. Do you see now, see…”

“...In the water. Dog understands now. Dog knows what happened.”

“You see the water? Now, step into it.” she said calmly.

“If Dog... if Dog goes into the water... Dog can't help if Master gets mad. You were nice to Dog, Dog wants to help.”

“He's right. If you merge us, then... I... we... or whatever we become... we can't help you when you reach whatever's at the Sierra Madre's end.”

“And Dog... Dog doesn't want to unremember you, may forget you.”

“We will forget almost all that has happened here. You'll be alone, at the Old Man's mercy. Like Dog. Like me.”

“No one should have control over another, even me.” She stated with a saddened look.

He took a step back, the unused grenade clattering to the floor as he looked off into the distance.

“You were there all the time…”

“…All the time, you were there, and so close.”

“Together.” He said, his voice now a new one, one that seemed like it would come from a normal person and not the eight foot mutant before her.

“Dog?”

The mutant looked down at Twilight, first in surprise then in confusion. “Who... who are you? What is this place?”

Twilight knew it worked, smiling softly to herself. ‘I guess those psychological books were worth paying all those bits for...’

“It would take too long to explain.” Twilight said calmly.

“I feel as if I've woken up. I don't know you, yet I feel like I do, and a feeling of... gratitude. I...” He stated before wincing in pain. “Forgive me, I... I'm wounded. This chain... this bear trap on my arm... how did I even get this far with these wounds? The pain is excruciating, I... I need to rest for a moment.” He said before slowly making his way over to the wall and sitting down, cradling his head in his large hands.

The suites weren’t in the best condition and the long elevator ride up scared her with how often it made groaning sounds and pausing every now and again but once she was up she would have kissed the ground if it weren’t stained with hundreds of years of dust and grime, along with plaster from the roof in small piles.

The intercom crackled on and instead of the old man a familiar voice spoke. “If it's who I think it is, this is Christine... recovered.” It said, sounding almost like a ghoul it was so rough but was definitely familiar. “In what looks like an Old World hotel room, high class, two rooms, exit's sealed. Floor's got holographic security. Not latest tech, field of view targeting systems, primitive. Familiar.”

Twilight slowly made her way through the maze of rooms, with some walls missing or made from collapsing parts of the old building.

She soon heard the voice that was over the intercom calling from one of the rooms behind the door. “Sinclair?! Sinclair, I'm trapped. Please, oh god, the security systems won't let me out, they're keeping me here.”

“My name’s Twilight.” The pony said as she went to do the door. “Don’t know where you got Sinclair from.” She stated as she used her magic to push in the door.

On the other side wasn’t a person but instead the hologram of the woman in the dress that she saw in the lobby when first arriving in the Madre. But this time instead of walking away and vanishing she slowly turned towards Twilight.

“The doors, they... they sealed. I... I can hear the other guests, screaming to be let out, to let go.” It said before it turned orange as it noticed Twilight and red as it brought its hands to the sides of its head.

She knew what that meant and quickly ducked behind the doorframe just as the beams of death scorched the old wood.

“I'm going to die here, amongst the ghosts. I... I'm still being recorded by the holographic system.” It cried.

A quick glance into the room showed her that there was a missing wall that led to the next apartment. Charging her horn brightly she went with a flash and reappeared next room over, glancing over her shoulder to see the hologram still shooting at the door she once was at.

She crept through the rooms and hallways, see many more of the same hologram, each begging for help to leave but none of them being able to.

She reached a double door, more grand than any other and with intricate gold inlay carved into the wood. Intrigued she entered and was greeted with the grandest room she had seen in the building, the windows blackened out with the thick red smoke. There was small bar top at one side of the room with enough drinks to make Anne happy for a long while. One door to the left opened slowly and Twilight took aim quickly at it with her revolver.

Instead of a ghost or a hologram it was the mute.

“You made it, good...” The not-so-mute said before letting out a dry and pained cough. She had the vest of the hologram security guards along with the uniform under it.. “Hurts to talk. I'll keep this quick in case my... voice goes out.”

It was then that Twilight recognized the voice. “Wait, you sound like the woman from the broadcast that brought Anne and I here…” She said in confusion.

“Do I? It sounds off to my ears... hard to tell. Not to mention it... hurts like hell to swallow. Might be why I got moved off to this suite... it's hers. That's her over there, got trapped by security like I did. Just took a different way out.”

“It’s good to hear that you got your voice back.” Twilight said. “Now that you can talk, is there anything I should know?”

“I’ve been hunting the man who brought you here, Elijah, for some time.” She stated. “He cannot leave the Sierra Madre alive. What he's done... what he's done here is nothing compared to what he's done in the past. The only way to bring him out is if you get to the vault... he won't allow you to go down there alone. That's when we kill him.”

Twilight lets out a tired sigh. “I know he has to be dealt with, but I’ll do it alone, I don’t want anyone else getting hurt.”

“Wasn't sure until now I could trust you. Now I know.” Christine said with a sigh. “Look, when I woke up here... however that happened... I had this key on me.” She said reaching into a pocket and pulling out an old rusty key. “I think it belongs to her. Haven't had a chance to use it yet, might open the dresser, or the safe, didn't have time to experiment with it before you arrived. Here you go.”

There wasn’t much more of note that was said between the two and that left Twilight exploring around the hotel room until she entered the bedroom where she was immediately greeted by the words ‘LET GO’ scrawled along the wall above the headboard. Next to the bed was a skeleton in a chair, the black velvet dress still covering its slim frame. Needles of painkillers were all around the floor of the body.

“Who was this?” Twilight asked to herself.

“That, is Vera Keyes.” Christine said leaning against the doorframe for the bedroom with her arms crossed over her chest.

“That woman who’s on the radio? And the hologram around this floor?”

“The same.”

“Well… worse ways to go I guess…”

Chapter 62

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“Begin again, but know when to let go.” Christine said into the intercom next to the old elevator that lead down to the vault below the casino, the voice that was forced onto her the only one that would unlock the way down. “You better make sure you deal with him, after all he’s done he doesn’t deserve to live.” She stated looking at the pony. “Just make sure you don’t get yourself killed down there.”

The pony nodded as she pressed the one button with her magic, the elevator taking a minute before opening with a soft ding. It was very bland compared to everything else she saw in the Madre, just blank metal walls and a fading light on the roof of the box. Walking inside she gave one last look to the woman before pressing the down button.

The basement was much like the underground station that they had set Christine up in for the Gala Event, although there were walls of blue light stopping her from going through certain doorways including one that went to a very visible large vault door.

It took Twilight close to an hour and a half to make it through the maze of tunnels and broken catwalks that either led down to dark depths unseen below or the blood red cloud. And with the dozens of broken speakers making her collar beep and the invincible holograms walking around what might have taken only a few minutes dragged on for a long time.

By the time she reached the vault door she had a few sore bruises, burns and a heart racing through her ears from the number of close calls that happened, and after a stimpak she trotted over to the computer since there wasn’t a tumbler or lock on the door itself.

She didn’t really know how to use computers that well yet although she had been practicing and managed to open it up.

Even though the outside seemed massive it seemed most of it was just the reinforced walls, with only the size of a small room on the inside. But what it lacked in size meant that it was packed full of riches. After stepping through the door it slammed shut behind her and locked in place, startling her but she decided to keep looking around. While most of it was paper money from before the war that had rotted away into a damp pile of mush, but the one thing that really drew her attention was the small palate of golden bars, still shined after 200 years. Each one had ‘pure gold’ cast into the top with ’99.9’ under it. There were easily a hundred bars and picking one up she knew that they were indeed looked to be pure if how heavy there were said anything.

She quickly started putting a couple into her small bag, only managing to carry four, two on each side, before she could feel the weight start to push down hard on her joints. She remember what Anne had told her in the Big Empty, that they needed gold to make an alloy to make insane amounts of energy, the only chance she had of any chance of getting home.

Gold was very common in Equestria, so she didn’t really want it for worth since bits were made from the stuff, but it was priceless to her if it could help her.

There was a computer on a large solid desk and walking over she saw there was message to Verra and since she wasn’t really able to leave at that moment she decided to read through it.

‘Verra,’ it read. ‘if you're reading this, my fears have come to pass, and this is an apology.

I hope you realized what my last words meant to you. If so, they have led you here, and this place will keep you safe. I know what they meant for me, and I fear they have trapped me here.

I have extracted the previous entry after our conversation tonight. It can't have been easy for you, and I am sorry for all I've put you through in silence. I know while you do not love me, you did not mean any malice in what you did.

I knew about your plans to rob the casino with Dean before you told me. Hearing it from you didn't make it any easier. For what it's worth, I am glad you told me yourself, and I understood the tapes he had in his possession.

I do not think either one of you realized what your addiction stemmed from, however, and that is the tragedy in this. I suspect the world would not have believed you, regardless, so I respect your desire to keep it from others.

When first building this Villa, this casino, I meant it for you. As the world seemed to race headlong toward war, it became part of my desire to protect you. The loans, the funding I poured into the casino's construction...

I knew it would not matter when war came for us. It was my means of creating a shelter, a defense if the world was bombarded in radiation and bombs.

When Dean revealed his plans inadvertently through our introduction, I realized what had happened, and how I had been tricked. For a time, my thoughts were dark. I changed the casino vault from a shelter to a trap, as I knew the first one to enter would be Dean. He would die down here, and it would have been by his own hand.

I fear, however, that I overstepped myself, and the only safe place in the casino is the Vault. I have tried to rewire the systems, change the protocols, and I cannot. I will do one last check on the pipes by the edge of the outside platform and see if anything can be done. I fear it is useless.

If you come down here, do not access my personal accounts entry.

It contains only a message for Dean, and it will seal the door and you will have no way out - even the elevator is designed to automatically return when the door is closed, and it will lock in place.

There should be enough in the Vault to sustain you until help arrives. I have ensured that there is enough medical supplies down here to keep you comfortable.

The holograms should defend the casino from any attackers, and the hologram beacon in the Villa will broadcast an emergency signal so that others know you are here.

When danger has passed, rescue will come.

I hope you were able to read this, and know that I loved you.

Frederick Sinclair.’

Twilight sighed sadly, she knew what became of Verra up in the suites, and it wasn’t rescue. Just as she powered down the screen a plate along the wall of the vault slid back and revealed a screen, the face of a familiar old man appearing.

“You're in the vault... finally. After all this time. The Sierra Madre... mine. Don't move, don't go into the vault. And don't touch anything else... there may be more traps down there... another security system.” He stated through the speakers.

Since she was already in the vault and kind of locked in she knew ‘not entering the vault’ was out of the question.

“Are you ever going to show your face or just hide behind screens forever?” Twilight stated flatly, she just wanted to leave with Anne and to get on with their lives.

“Hiding? Hardly. Trapped. You think you were the first one to unlock the casino door? No, I did it... with other hands, other bodies. After that, the casino wouldn't let go. Once I was locked in, no way out... until your friend’s Pip-Boy signal came to life in the Villa. Then... then, uh, things changed. And here you are.”

“Well now that I’m here, are you going to show your face?” Twilight asks.

“No. I am not going to take the chance while I'm so close... not this close, no. Not again... I can wait... afford to be careful. You... you're locked down there. This is the only entrance, and I have free rein of the Sierra Madre. I have time... more than you. Besides, there might be more traps. I'll send more scouts in... Yes, others. You're... resourceful, don't want to leave anything more to chance.”

“Well I could always destroy everything in here to pass the time.” Twilight said with a slightly evil grin.

“No... I don't think so. It'd most likely trigger other security measures... if you hurt the Vault at all. The builder of the casino built it to last, the Sierra Madre withstood the war. I'm sure the Vault is protected as well. Besides, you wouldn't have followed the signal if you didn't want this place's secrets for your own. You're curious... past the threats.”

“Well who says I can’t read everything I want then smash up the computers?” She asks. “It’d be pretty easy.”

“You might destroy access to the data... not the data itself. Besides, there would be safeguards in place.”

“Maybe too many safeguards? They are the reason it’s taken so long for you to get to this point already.” Twilight said grinning smugly.

“But, you recognize the value of what's down there. You would no sooner destroy what's inside the Sierra Madre than destroy yourself. Persist in threatening me... or the Sierra Madre's secrets, you're of no use to me, I'll set off your collar now.”

“Well it takes quite a while for the collar to go off, imagine how much I could do before it goes off?” She said, although that was just the speakers, she didn’t know if it would be the same if the old man activated it but hoped she was right.

There was a pause for a few seconds. “Huh... clever. Whoever designed the Sierra Madre... their obsession with messing with frequencies and signals...” He stated. “I'm coming down, I'll meet you face to face at the vault entrance. If you resist, I'll use the collar, even if it puts the vault at risk.”

The screen was enclosed in the wall of the vault again, the door behind her opening with a hiss.

Stepping away from the computer she knew that the old man was coming down, and he probably wouldn’t like her taking a couple of the gold bricks with her. And who would say he would even let them all live with them knowing how to get into the Madre?

She knew after reading the computer that it would most likely lock down forever if Elijah decided to read Sinclair’s logs on the computer, which after reading Vera’s was the only one left. She quickly made her way out of the vault, scampering off behind a wall and waited to make sure her plan worked.

It took a while but the pony heard the soft thudding of someone’s feet on the metal floor as they made their way towards the vault. The old man finally showed his face after so long of hiding behind a screen, wearing thick blue robes with his white beard hanging from his face. A very large rifle was attached to his back, the barrel segmented with discs along its length.

He made his way to the vault, looking through the door inside. When he saw no one there he walked in, disappearing from view and soon the vault door slammed close, locking loudly.

“You think you've outsmarted me? You can't get away. You're the one on a leash, you always were.” He growled through the intercom and within a few moments the pony’s collar started a slow, steady beeping.

Twilight didn’t want to linger, quickly running through the way she once came to the vault by.

“Think you can escape? No, that hand on your throat is mine, always was. You won't get out. I'll bring the whole Sierra Madre down on you, bury you here with all the others!”

Twilight let out a yelp of surprise as there was a loud bang and the ground shook somewhat, the catwalk she was on shaking worryingly. Along with a pipe above bursting and spraying old water down onto the walkway and to the bottomless pit below.

Running through she ignored the ice cold water washing down on her, rushing through even with the weight of the gold on her body. In her rushing panic she made a few wrong turns through the maze she could barely remember, and the constant beeping didn’t help with that problem.

She kept getting drenched down with more pipes, some walkways coming down with explosions around her as she ran as fast as she could.

The beeping was getting faster, dangerously fast in her mind. She knew she had to get out soon or she was going to lose her head so clenching her eyes shut tightly she charged as much magic as she could into her horn and focused on the first thing that came to her mind, the fountain.

With a loud pop and the feeling as if she was hit in the head by a sledgehammer, she staggered on her hooves and opened her eyes. She let out a tired groan, falling down to her rump on the cold cobbled floor of the center of the Villa, eyes drawn up to the Casino up high on the hill, a soft, deep and steady humming coming from the building as if hundreds of people were eerily humming a dead tune.

Sighing she flopped down onto her back, wincing as she landed on one of the gold bricks but didn’t care to move. It was done.

“Well. That’s one way to make an entrance.” A voice said close by.

Lazily turning her head she saw Anne sat on the edge of the fountain, bottle of Whisky in her hand as she grinned to the pony.

“Glad you made it out.” Twilight mumbled.

“Didn’t make it easy on me there.” She stated getting to her one leg and hopping over to Twilight, falling over to lay down next to her.

Offering the bottle the pony took it, taking a long swig of the drink.

“Didn’t mean to do it like that.” She said with a shrug.

Reaching into a pocket on the jumpsuit she had found she pulled out a crumbled packet of cigarettes, pulling one out awkwardly with one hand before putting it away and grabbing a lighter from another and lighting it up before taking a long slow drag. “I know.” She said. “We should probably head home… I don’t like this place…”

“I don’t either…”

The survivors of the Sierra Madre thought about gathering at the Fountain and waiting for the Princess. In the end, the collars' silence made them uneasy, and the fear of turning on each other made them hesitate, and leave the goodbyes - unspoken. The radio message at the fountain was enough for them, and there was no need to add another farewell on top of all they had suffered.

Dog forgot himself, as did the voice that raged within him. After their passing, a new voice spoke within the mutant's shell. It was difficult for the voice to remember the two it once was... there was the beast, Dog consumed by hunger... and the other in reverse... the one consumed by control. Both were driven by need for the other. The Pony brought them together, somehow, joined the two into one. All that happened at the Sierra Madre, was a faint memory to the new personality... like a flickering light in the clouds of the mind. The new voice did not think of the Pony and Courier again until the battle at the Divide reached his ears. The battle between the two couriers, beneath the torn skies and the Old World flag... each bearing a message for the other. And the mutant prayed the Pony that had saved him... had been saved in return.

Dean Domino, entertainer, singer... thief... explored the Sierra Madre not long after he was rescued by the Princess. Once he left the theater, the Sierra Madre recognized him as a guest, and many doors opened to him. He had to admit, it had been built to last. During his search, he came across the final records of Vera and Sinclair, and realized what happened the night the bombs fell. He felt strangely sad for a moment, and he had no idea why. Shrugging it off, his mind turned instead to where the Princess had come from. Vegas still survived, out there in the Mojave. Its sights, sounds... and casinos, ripe for the taking. So giving the Sierra Madre one last nod and a wink, he set off beyond the Cloud to begin again.

Christine, her mission complete, found new purpose as the Sierra Madre's warden. She watched over it silently - by choice. Over time, the ghost people came to see her as one of the Holograms. They would watch, silently, as she walked among them. At times, Christine thought of the Princess, who had kept Elijah's hand from her throat. The Courier with her reminded her of the other courier she had met in the Big Empty, and wondered if the two had found each other at last. She did not think of them again until she heard the legends of the Divide. The Divide, where the two messengers, the two couriers, fought beneath an ancient flag, at the edge of the world.

You've heard of the Sierra Madre Casino. We all have, the legend, the curses. Some foolishness about it lying in the middle of a City of Dead. A city of ghosts. Buried beneath a blood-red cloud... a bright, shining monument luring treasure hunters to their doom. An illusion that you can begin again, change your fortunes. Finding it, though, that's not the hard part. It's letting go.

It’s letting go.

Chapter 63

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“So that’s the problem they have.” Anne said, sitting in a wheelchair since it was easier to move around The Big Empty Sink that way.

“Well If they’re able to make something that looks and moves like a wing I could enchant it up to make it actually able to fly, so not too much of a big deal.” Twilight said with a shrug.

“Oh.” Anne said. “I thought this was going to be a bigger issue than that…”

“Nah, It’s actually pretty simple, I’ll just add some stuff to lessen the weight, and to provide more lift with a flap like pony wings naturally do… I’ll just have to use some of those crystals around Big Mountain.”

“Well then they’re ready to install it onto you.”

“Already?” Twilight asked in confusion.”

“Yeah, they need to graft a port onto your body that attaches to the nerves along your body, then you just slot the wing into that port.” She said. “They’re going to do the same thing with my arm… I don’t know how I feel about them already having legs in development before it was even blown off… Am I that prone to accidents?”

Without even a moment she was responded with a dozen voices saying “Yes”, Twilight and even the kitchen sink all saying it in unison.

Twilight took a few deep breaths to calm herself down, laying down on her stomach on the medical bed, about to be put under for the operation that had never been done in this situation ever, Twilight just hoped the biological maps she gave them to program into the doctors was accurate enough.

“Everything will be fine Twilight, I’ll just be in the next room over.” Anne said with a soft comforting smile, sitting on the edge of her own medical bed wearing a blue patient robe as she waited to get taken away.

She took another deep breath to calm herself down further before giving nod in approval. A mask was moved over her muzzle and she inhaled the sour air it contained, only a few more breaths and her head started to go fuzzy and eyes grow heavy.

And soon her world faded away.

The first thing Twilight noticed was that her entire back felt like it had been dipped into hot needles that went all along her spine and even over her ribcage. She lets out a pained groaned through a dry cough, slowly opening her eyes and glancing about.

She was on her chest in what looked like a nondescript medical waiting room, nothing much of note besides the moldy wall paper and the painting on the wall that might have once been comforting for someone who just woke up but now the ink had run and made a demonic looking hell landscape mixed with the mold.

She took a few minutes to gain her bearings again, feeling awake enough to move around a bit. Looking over her shoulder she thought she would see a new metal wing but she was greeted with just a metal hub grafted to her skin, around the joint where the natural wing once was that covered a large portion of her upper back.

Moving muscles she hadn’t in a while she did see any movement from the joint but just the muscles along her back.

“That’s just the first part of it.” She heard a voice said.

Looking to the side she saw a familiar brain floating in a jar, Brian floating over in the corner of the room at a computer.

“So the wing just attaches to this part?”

“Pretty much, Anne got confused when I first tried to explain the concept.” He stated, his eye screens looking over at the pony. “She’s still under by the way, she had two implants to put into place.”

“When will the wing get… whatever it needs to go through before it attaches?”

“Well now that you’re awake, we can try now.”

Soon Brain left and returned with a box held in a spindly arm under the jar. Coming over he dropped the box on the bed, Twilight sitting on the edge as she sorely rubbed her back around where the new implant was.

“It’ll hurt putting on, since you’re reconnecting nerves after they haven’t felt anything for a while.”

She nodded as she watched him take the metal from the box.

It was a weird feeling, watching as a limb was being unpacked to get put onto you, seeing it dead and lifeless and yet it would move just as if she was born with it.

“Since no one has any clue how you will change it up to fly we’ll just leave that to you.” He stated.

He hovered his way behind the pony, lining up the wing to the port along Twilight’s back. “It goes in at an odd angle but you then twist it into place and it snaps in and won’t come out unless you really want it to.” He said, pushing the wing port into her back before twisting it roughly.

In an instant the pony’s world went white, everything numb and gone and as soon as it happened she saw normally again although she was now on the floor, muzzle hurting with a small dribbled of blood from her nose.

“Well it didn’t kill you.” Brian said, his eyes giving the best they could of a shrug.

“Ow…” She grunted as she got her hooves under her, slowly sitting herself up.

Looking over her shoulder she saw the metal wing now stuck to her, weight pulling down on her and hanging limp next to the other wing. “It’s kind of heavy.”

“Well, we wanted it to last.” He said. “Could have made it of wood but that would have splintered a lot and broken very quickly…”

Twilight focused hard onto both her wings and just wanted to stretch them out. But it seemed she was focusing a bit too hard because it just led to Twilight hitting herself across her head with both the wings, the feathered one fine but the other as if she was hit with a length of sheet metal, not pleasant.

After clutching her already sore muzzle again for a few moments she tried again, this time just stretching her wings out as if she was stretching. The wing responded smoothly and flawlessly, as if it was just a normal wing painted to look like metal. Again she tried just moving them both in unison and they both acted exactly the same. Besides being very heavy there was very little difference between the two.

“This is… Actually better than I expected it to be…” She noted.

“What do you take us for? Crazy people who had our brains put into jars? While most of us spent the past two hundred years to experiment and dissect both people and animals?” He asked sarcastically. “The Think Tank wouldn’t know real science even when they’re floating in it. They had very little to do with this project.”

“I guess I should be thankful for that…”

It was a few hours before Anne came out of the operation room, carted out on a bed by a Mister-Handy Robot, wheeling her in before leaving. She had one of the ports that covered the remaining part of her arm to the elbow, making her have a metal stump. While with her leg, because the leg was all but removed in the first place it had to get reinforced along her side, bolted to her pelvic bone so it wouldn’t pull itself away from her.

Twilight stayed in the room, the wing disconnected once again as she tried to work into fitting the crystals inside it without breaking the complex inner workings of the mechanical limb itself. So far she had managed to work in about a dozen along the metal feathers, each in the middle, and used her magic to push magical energy into it to, causing the ones she had to emit a soft red glow.

While she was in the middle of funneling energy into a crystal when she heard a soft groan from the woman.

“It’ll hurt for a while.” Twilight stated, not even looking up from her work.

“Goody.” A grumble replied after a few moments. “How did yours go?”

“The implant went fine, I’m just making the actual wing usable right now…” Twilight said, carefully chipping some shards of the crystal off so it fitted perfectly into the wing.

“Well, unlike you I had a hand in designing my new arm before the implant was even put on.” She said grinning, both looking over as the door opened and Brian floated in with another, larger box which looked as if the little engine under him was straining under the weight.

“She says that, but I refused to even consider the notion of putting a rocket launcher into her leg or flamethrowers in the fingers.” He grumbled as he dropped the box onto the bed and threw it open. First he pulled out a metal leg, very simple with not much notable about it. Instead of toes on the feet it was just a generic foot shape, one that could easily fit into a shoe. With that just put onto the bed the brain reached into the box and pulled out the arm. This was interesting.

The fingers ended in claws, like a griffon’s talon, each looking sharp and dangerous if Anne wasn’t careful. And there were also two metal tubes along the forearm that lead to a block at the end. It was segmented with shiny metal plates.

“But I managed to convince him to add a shotgun.” She said with a giddy grin.

“Don’t blame me if you end up blowing your head off when you try to scratch it.” The brain stated as he brought the arm up to the stump on Anne’s torso. With a loud clicking sound Anne clenched her jaw shut and clench her eyes shut, body convolving somewhat but still seeming to keep her cool better than the pony did, soon opening her eyes and looking down at the hand attached to her. She clenched her new fist a few times, looking at the back of her hand as she moved the fingers around.

“It’s weird isn’t it…?” Anne asks. “I can’t feel at all with this but it just feels… right to move around.” She stated, looking down at the new leg.

“It moves a bit too naturally, it’s really kind of creepy.” Twilight said as she slotted in the last gem she thought she was to need and started to charge it up.

“Could be a lot worse, we could just not have them at all.” Anne stated as she lined up the new leg to the stump. With a few grunts of pain and more convolving, the leg was attached.

Throwing her feet off the edge of the bed she slowly stood herself up, shaking slightly at first but she kept her balance to the most part. “It’s like my foot’s numb and I can’t feel it…” She said before taking a hesitant step forward with the new leg first.

Twilight looked over at her friend when she heard a loud clatter, seeing Anne face down on the tile floor, the claws of her hand jabbed into the floor and shattering the ceramics. “Ow…” She noted as she looked over the wing one last time before she were to put it back on.

“I need a drink.” Anne mumbled as she got herself to her feet, not trusting herself to walk all that way without falling over again so she grabbed herself a pair of crutches, heading away towards where The Sink was, leg kicking forward a bit too much each time she stepped forward, too much power behind the knee.

Taking a deep breath Twilight used her magic to move the wing back to the port on her back, pushing it forward and twisting it firmly. Again everything went white and just like that it went again, on her belly on the cold floor as her wings lay limp on her back.

“I think I need a drink too…”

Chapter 64

View Online

Over the next two months Twilight, Anne and the gang had been doing minor jobs around the Mojave, doing things of little note and not much to do towards the goal of Twilight getting home as The Alloy took a long time to refine, painfully long. They helped sort out a fight brewing in Freeside, sorted out problems their friends had and even dropped by a few places they had already visited to see how they were going on.

One night, while Twilight was fast asleep, wing to the side since it wasn’t really comfortable to sleep with a large slab of metal. But another thing that made sleeping rather uncomfortable were the loud sounds coming from Anne’s room next door, and while she had made the mistake of walking in when strange sounds came from it before these were quieter, as if she was trying to not be noticed.

That caught her attention and climbing out of her bed she made her way out her room and next door. Without knocking she used her magic to push the door open. Anne was wide awake and shoving supplies into a knapsack and from the look of it they looked like they would last a long while. The woman froze and looked over her shoulder at Twilight, wearing her combat armor she wears when she goes out.

“Where are you going this time of night?” Twilight asks rubbing her eyes with the back of her hoof.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you…” She said, going back to packing.

Twilight spotted a note on the desk in her room, and considering she never used it that drew attention.

‘I need to do this’ is all that read on it.

“Do what?” Twilight asked worriedly.

“I remember things Twilight…” Anne said after a few moments of silence.

“Remember what?”

“I remember… just bits and pieces from before I met you… I need to make sure I’m not going crazy and I didn’t want to bring anyone with me.” She said.

“What do you remember?” Twilight asks.

“A place… The Divide… I remember it being like a home… People there might know who I was before I was shot in the head…”

“Alright… Let me go get my things then.” Twilight stated.

“No. I’m going alone.”

“Anne.” Twilight stated flatly. “I’m going with you or I’m stealing your leg.” She threatened.

“Fine. You got ten minutes then I’m going…”

It took a long while for them to get where Anne was leading them to, just going where she had a gut feeling to go to. They had walked fully across the Mojave and after the second day Twilight was about to call it off and get them to head back to the warm kind of comfortable bed.

“And that’s how I saved Equestria yet again.” Twilight said tiredly, finishing off a story.

“You have… giant love eating bugs where you’re from?” Anne asked in confusion.

“Well they used to be bad, until my student helped kick out their queen.”

“You never mentioned you were a teacher before.” Anne noted, not bothering to walk around with her weapon out considering she had a double barreled shotgun strapped to her arm.

“Yeah, Starlight Glimmer, I was sent here just after that…” She said sadly, looking down at the dirt at her hooves.

“Well, were the bugs messy when they sucked out the love?” Anne asked, Twilight looking up at her in confusion as she grinned at the pony like an idiot.

“No? They steal the magical love energy inside ponies to eat, that was until they realized if they got permission it was better for them.” She explained.

“Ah, never mind then.” She said offhandedly.

“Okay…” Twilight said, too confused to really feel too melancholy.

“Hey, I think we’re almost there.” Anne said after a few moments.

“Almost where, you don’t know where we’re going.” Twilight stated.

“There.” Anne stated simply, pointing up ahead.

Looking where her friend was pointing she saw a large pile of shredded metal and the bodies of cars, blocking the sizeable canyon that lead somewhere else. She was going to just say it looked like so many other places they had been but one thing that made a small chill run up her spine were the words ‘Courier 6?’ in pant covering the side of the husk of a bus, other markings such as ‘6?’ and ‘Lonesome Road.’

“Okay… I have a feeling we’re not going to enjoy what’s going to happen…”

“I think I tore a hole in my pant’s leg…” Anne grumbled as she dusted the rust off her body after climbing and crawling through the sharp metal wreaks that blocked the way forward.

“Poor thing.” The princess chuckled as she floated her way down to the ground, glad that she could just fly over the rubble to avoid all the scratches and illnesses she might get trying to crawl through.

The sound of whistling wind broke them from their banter, the cold of the air greeting them along with the metallic taste that seemed to linger the further along they got. “This place is giving me some bad vibes.” Anne noted as she continued to walk.

“You can say that again…”

After another minute they came to an overlook of the land below, wind bellowing sand across the landscape with angry roaring of a beast, the two not wanting to get too close to the edge in case they fell off the edge to the sharp rocks below.

There was a massive gash in the ground, splintering off and causing hundreds of foot drops down below, high rise buildings that once built all around now collapsed and fallen into the large gabs in the earth. Red lights on top of still functioning antennas.

“Well… This place has seen better days…” The woman noted.

“Did the nuclear bombs do this?”

“No, this looks like an earthquake, bombs just wipe the area clean of everything.”

“Must have been a pretty huge earthquake for it to rip the ground open that much.”

Anne sighed sadly, not knowing why. “Let’s get a move on, this is where we wanted to go.

The two found themselves in an old bunker that was on the edge of the cliff they were on, or as the sign named it, ‘Hopeville Ballistic Defense Station’.

Inside looked rundown, wires that were once built into the walls and ceilings now torn and sending bolts of power and sparks down on the metal floor below. The entire base was tilted to the side, the edge hanging off the edge of the rocky face with all the tables and chairs thrown to the side as if by an angry person. There were consoles along the walls and in large control banks but all of them were offline, just dark and lifeless. But one that did seem to work was a computer that was in front of a tall pod that had a familiar looking robotic ball inside.

“Is that Ede?” Anne asked in confusion, wiping the dust from the glass viewing way.

“Can’t be, this one is built differently.” Twilight stated.

It was true, while E-DE in the Mojave had a lot of repairs done to it from extensive damage along with a few decorative plates, this one looked brand new, with a dull metal surface and what looked like a small square radar dish on the top and a metal, three pronged claw underneath.

“Let’s open it up.” Twilight stated.

Anne nodded, going over to the computer and starting to type away at it.

The tube let out a hiss and it depressurized, a gas spraying out the side of the door as the tube opened up. Sparks of power came from little coils on the inside and struck the robot, soon floating itself out with a crackled music playing from it and then a child’s voice. ‘Ralphie! Fly fast, fly far.” It said before letting out a few excited and familiar beeps.

“Must be a glitch with its memory files.” Anne noted as she stepped back away from the computer.

The bot let out a few confused beeps, Twilight having no clue what was just said but with Anne having a brain that was pretty much just robotic she sort of understood the little bot.

“No, that wasn’t your boot up sequence, it was a recording. About someone called Ralphie.” The woman stated, crossing her arms.

More beeps answered her reply.

“It was probably just some old data floating around, nothing to be worried about.” She explained.

It let out a few happy beeps before floating down to Twilight, doing what the pony could only think was what it thought nuzzling might be.

“I think we can use your help to move forward, want to come with us?” She asked.

It bounced in the air in excitement, flying straight at Anne’s stomach as if it was trying to cuddle her, but with the satellite on its head that was rather painful for the woman.

“Experiment log 369248 slash B, Eyebot Duraframe universal interface override system. This is Dr. Whitley presiding. We've boosted signal gain and enlarged the overflow buffer system. That should ensure 100% connectivity and control. ED-E, whenever you're ready.” The bot crackled to life again with the voice of a young man.

“Yes! Success! Um, reporting full success on 369248 slash B. ED-E was able to interface with and override the test panel in under three seconds. Great job, team. Now, let's start on the proposal for the full rollout.”

“Huh, more memory glitches…” Anne noted. “I guess you’re able to bypass systems. That will be very helpful to move onwards through this place.”

The robot let out a happy beeping sound.

Bolts of power joined the three prongs of the claw as it built up a charge, a lance of electricity shooting from the little bot onto a console inside a main room. As the lights started to come to life a little panel opened up and a lever popped out, a once vibrant red now worn away with the years.

“Well, nothing can go wrong with this.” Anne stated as she reached out with her metallic hand and gripped the lever.

Light burst on throughout the room, blinding the pair for a moment as their eyes adjusted to the bright light. A blaring alarm beeping throughout the facility, echoing through unseen halls. What once looked like a wall with glass plating, pulled back away and exposing they were blast shielding for the other side.

Inside was a large cylindrical room, a large white metal tube with markings filling the center with walkways around it. More eye bots floated around its surface and maintained the giant tube of death, shiny and clean compared to the dirty and decrepit area of the tube around it.

“What is that thing?” The princess asked in confusion.

“That my one eyed friend is the reason the world is so fucked up.” Anne explained as she rubbed the back of her head with her hand.

“That’s a nuke?”

“Yep, an ICBM, or Intercontinental Ballistic Missile if you want to talk fancy.” Anne explained. “That thing would be able to get from here to China after about half an hour and rain death on the area below.”

“Should we be worried?”

“Nah, look at the tilt of this place, and this oversized party popper doesn’t look straight in the tube. If it were to try and launch it would just blow up here.” She explained, observing the little robots trying their best to maintain a rocket even though the government that created them was long gone.

“But what if it explodes here? And what if we accidently try to launch it?” Twilight asked in worry.

Anne scoffed. “You can’t accidently send off a nuke, it’s like saying you accidentally built a shed, you have to put in a lot of effort to get one of these things to go off, it isn’t like there’s just a button you press and everything you targeted in a mile radius gets incinerated.”

Chapter 65

View Online

"What the fuck happened to this guy?” Anne asked in concern as she looked over the body of someone who had been pinned to the wall from rusty lengths of broken rebar sticking out, impaled probably by the huge machine that was slumped over with a large knife dug into the back of its ‘head’

The person could most closely resemble a ghoul, although this one looked less like he had lost the soft of his flesh and skin from years of necrosis and more as if he had his skin literally sanded from his body, red raw muscle visible all over his body in a way that just looked painful to see. He was wearing what looked like the uniform for the NCR but it had been worn and torn away to scraps with plates of scrap metal holding bits together.

“Looks like it happened to this guy too.” Twilight said spotting another body that was crushed under a table but he was much like the other, with flayed skin and ripped clothing but this time it was the padding and leather of the Legion, supported with scrap metal as well.

“I just hope it doesn’t happen to us…”

After turning on the main system to allow more doors to open up and fighting through the onslaught of robots and turrets that came to life and tried to go after the trio but with a lot of bullets and shell’s from Anne’s hunting shotgun with a few of the handful of pulse slugs she had for the weapon they managed to make their way out of the complex.

And when they reached the end they had reached near the bottom of the ravine and here the wind was even worse than up above, the pony and human having to quickly go back inside when the sand blew into their face so hard it hurt. After a few minutes of rummaging around Anne managed to find a breathing mask that would be used if someone were painting or sand blasting which would kind of be the reason she would use it but considering the facial structure of the pony they had to settle with a cloth mask over her muzzle. And with their eyes Anne found some welding goggles that had a flip down option to protect the eyes from the insanely bright light of welding but they didn’t need to come down if you didn’t want them so with a few snaps of plastic they had some makeshift goggles to wear as well.

Now walking outside they were still assaulted by the high winds and the dust and sand it picked up but their eyes and lungs were protected.

They slowly made their way out from the bunker before the Eye Bot’s speaker blared to life once more. “Taking your chances, coming here. Just like bringing the lord of Vegas his tribute, bending your knee to Old World ghosts. You and that Chip - deserve each other, twenty-nine less coins than other traitors have carried, if history's true. Now see the road the Old World paves... and what the lights of New Vegas promise, if they haven't blinded your eyes.”

The both blinked in confusion at the low and gravelly voice.

“How are you talking through my robot?!” Anne yelled, hard to be heard out of the mask and over the roaring wind.

“The robot with you... all of them are machines; radios, Old World tech reshaped with new hands. Historians. Couriers, carrying messages. Seen them as I've walked the Divide, tending other machines. That one... sealed inside the Hopeville silo. Sign America is waking up. It will follow you, obey you. Carry it until we are face to face, then there'll be no more need for it to carry my words.”

“Just saying that you hacked into it would have been enough! No need to go into a speech about it!” Anne replied, Twilight looking around in the area they were in. There were the supports of a once massive bridge outlined in the light of the sun high above. Some ruins could be seen a bit lower down into the ravine at the exit of the Hopeville silo.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The man through the little robot said.

“Yeah I know that but there’s no reason to bore someone to death!” She stated. “I take it you’re the one who has been leaving those notes all over the wall at the start of the pass and stuff right?”

“America sleeps ahead of you, its nightmares filled with quakes, storms. You'll need to find your own path. That means waking America's spears up from their slumber. There's ways; warheads set off the collapse, warheads could open the gates again. You're resourceful. That machine, robot with you, can help you find the warheads you need to destroy... and their trigger, the detonator. The way ahead is below. The tools are there. The rest; up to you.”

“Okay, see you later.” Anne said, starting past the robot.

“That’s it? You don’t want to know the history of The Divide and how you fit into it?” The robot ask in confusion.

“Well yeah, that’s why I came here in the first place but I’ll probably find out all about myself on the way if I have ties to such a shitty place! You would just jump around the topic with flowery language and never directly stating things which really annoys me!” She stated. “We’ll see you later dude!”

“The Divide will send its worst against you - it may break you. We'll see if you're stronger. Road gets rougher from here... Courier. Left marks for you, colors'll tell the way, if you're smart. They'll lead you to your home one more time, lead to the ending of it, maybe remind you why you wander.”

Twilight could tell Anne rolled her eyes as she kept moving, the little robot floating along after the pair with beeping happily through the howling wind.

“He might know about you Anne!” Twilight stated to her friend as they made their way down a large pile of rubble to a ruined road below.

“Probably, but I can’t deal with someone like that right now. Why do these people always think that they need to constantly chatter on when they can just say ‘there’s a detonator down there, get it and clear the way, just be careful cause things want to kill you’ instead? I mean how quick was that? But if I let him he would have just kept going on and on talking about stuff without really saying anything that would be useful to anyone… kind of reminds me of Joshua Graham or that old fart Elijah over at the Madre.”

“That old man could talk a glass eye to sleep… or my fake one…” Twilight stated with a chuckle as they walked along, taking a bit more effort with the wind fighting their every move and the feeling as if their skin was covered in sand and dragged across their flesh every time they made a movement or even if they stayed still.

“Well… that’s never a good sign.” Anne stated as she jogged over to a blunted cone with a red tip that was on the back of a destroyed truck, her Pip-Boy letting out a soft ticking sound along with the Geiger counter that Twilight had in her pocket incase Anne wasn’t around.

“What is it?”

“This is a warhead, nuclear… this is what causes the damage in the ICBM you say in the silo, and it’s just sat here. Imagine if they had a plague in a glass jar that they just kept on their driveway.” She explained. “This thing in front of us could have been used to destroy a town in China if it was used and kill everyone inside unless they were to turn into a ghoul.”

“Why would it have just been left out here?”

“They must have been transporting them when the bombs fell.” Anne stated with a shrug. “I guess these are the warhead that that man wanted us to-“ She was saying before a shot rang out over the sounds of the wind, causing Anne’s robotic arm to get jerked to the side as a bullet sparked off the metal surface.

Holding up her arm she was greeted with a large dent going all the way through one side and peeling out the other, a small shake greeting her with a tinkling sound as shrapnel bounced around the internal workings of the machine. “Cover.” She stated as she quickly got herself behind a large wreak of a car.

Twilight climbed herself behind what might have once been a motor bike but she couldn’t tell with how mangled it was at the current time.

“That must have been a fifty cal!” Anne yelled looking over at the figure of the pony behind the rubbish.

“A what?”

“A big fucking gun!” She yelled as she pulled her shotgun from her back, trying to pump it out to clear out the pulse slugs inside although it seemed the bullet messed with the ring finger on the arm, curled up as much as it could and wouldn’t move along with punching right through one of the barrels on the shotgun on her arm.

“How big are we talking about?”

“If it hits you I’ll have to scrape you off the floor with a spoon!” She yelled. “Do it if you want to be jellied purple pony!”

Twilight took a deep breath as she switched the power onto her laser rifle, not really trusting to fly in this weather and just resting the end of the rifle on her cover as she scanned around for a target to open fire on. All she could see was the outline of a destroyed building but couldn’t see a sharpshooter anywhere along it.

“I’ll draw their fire, you take them out.” Anne stated as she loaded in orange shells into her gun. “Ready?”

“Yeah!”

Taking a few deep breaths through the filters of her breathing mask before she ran out of behind her cover with her shotgun at the ready.

“Come at me mother fucker!” She yelled as she shot a shell at the building, not really aiming at anyone and from how loud everything was no one probably heard it. Unlike normal shells this one seemed to shoot out shards of bright red metal and fire, very obvious.

Much like the pony expected another shot rang out, a small explosion of dust and rock bursting from the ground just next to Anne’s foot.

Twilight quickly looked over to rubble away from then, cursing herself that she wasn’t paying attention as Anne fired another at the building as she ran towards it while just yelling to draw attention.

Another shot went out and went sailing past Anne with a loud whistle.

Twilight saw the dull flash from one of the windows and opened fire on the hole in the wall, not seeing or hearing any other shots coming from the building as Anne ran faster towards it.

The princess kept firing until the gun wouldn’t anymore and she quickly reloaded the rifle and watched to see if the sniper were to shoot again, not seeing any movement of note she just kept her gun aimed.

She saw a few bursts of fire over the building and she heard a very quiet voice.

“Done.” It said over all the wind, a person’s outline seen waving out from the window that the sniper was shooting from.

Twilight sighed and strapped the rifle onto her back and trotted up to the building, greeted with Anne on the inside, sheltered from the wind and sand as she held a very large and imposing looking rifle on her lap, the bolt pulled back as she looked inside the firing mechanism.

“This thing is super expensive, each bullet cost like fifty caps.” She said throwing something at the pony.

At first the princess thought it was a type of knife from the size of it but she realized that when she caught it that it was in fact a bullet, easily big enough to do a lot of damage without having to fire it from a gun at all, the whole thing about as big as a Sarsaparilla bottle. “I can see why you didn’t want to get hit by this thing.” She stated as she threw it back at the woman.

Anne caught it and slid the shot into an empty magazine and slid it home into the gun with a large clanking sound before racking the bolt home. Lifting it up the her shoulder Twilight really got to see the scale of the gun, almost as tall as Anne was with a massive barrel with a block at the end. Aiming just at the wall across the room she pulled the trigger and just the sheer force of the bang caused the princess to recoil and clutch her ears in pain.

“Anne!” She yelled in annoyance as she tried to shake the ringing from her head, taking a look at the wall.

There was a massive hole, easily as wide as her hoof that went all the way through the wall and out the other side of the building.

“I think when this thing hit me that it tore the dock out of my arm a bit.” Anne stated rolling the shoulder of her robotic arm a bit with a wince. “Yep that wetness is blood.” She grumbled.

“How many shots did the gun have?”

“There were about seven bullets left, six now.” She stated. “One of which being armor piecing, I guess that’s the one that hit me otherwise when I got hit it would have ripped my arm off instead of just going through.”

Chapter 66

View Online

The three hunkered down for what they guessed was the night when the sky that was blocked out by the sandstorm got even darker and almost impossible to see anything else. They sat around a small fire they made out of a broken chair and door they found along with the stuffing from a shredded sofa for kindling.

They found the detonator that they needed to find and Twilight made sure she kept hold of it when Anne constantly shined the laser light right at her face, which made her normal eye and robotic eye adjust to the light at different rates and make her feel ill.

Twilight was cleaning her pistols at the time, each in different sets of their bits and made sure to oil and clean every bit to make sure the guns were maintained and useable. Anne meanwhile was just smoking a cigarette as she cooked a small pot over the fire willed with some baked beans that once might have been bright and colorful but now brown and lifeless, at least warmth would make the muck go does easier. The eye bot was just sat against Twilight’s side, cuddling against her like a cat.

“I would say I hope neither of the NCR or Legion get a hand on any warheads around this place but from the looks of what those ghouls were wearing, both knew about these.” Anne stated as she stirred the pot with a knife she had strapped to her leg after so many times where she never had one on her.

“Maybe they gave up when what ever happened to them, happened.” Twilight reasoned with a shrug as she picked a bit of dirt out from the groves on Benny’s pistol.

“It’s as if the wind itself flayed them alive.” Anne said with a shiver.

“Is that possible?”

“Well, we’re talking about like hurricane level winds with very coarse dust if that is what happened… It is pretty painful to just go outside and with their muscles exposed like that, it must be like every moment of existence is pure agony…” She said sadly. “Killing them would be the kindest thing we could do for them. Nothing would fix them after ending up like that.”

“How big will this go off?” Twilight asks unsurely, the wind having died down slightly but they still needed their coverings or be sanded alive.

“Well… I dunno but I think we should get behind something when we do it…” Anne said unsurely as she looked over at the warhead from a distance, helping the scrap of the truck in blocking the way ahead.

“What if it… you know… blows up everything around?”

“We’d be incinerated within moments and no one would ever find our bodies.” Anne stated simply.

“I didn’t want you to tell me that!” Twilight yelled glaring at the woman.

“What else was I meant to say?” She asked in confusion.

“Something that doesn’t mean we both die horribly.”

“Well I would be lying then.” Anne stated. “Can we just get this started already? The suspense is killing me right now.”

Twilight sighs, pulling the laser detonator out from a pocket and pointing it towards the warhead. “It was nice knowing you.” She stated as she pulled the trigger quickly and clenching her eyes shut.

After a few moments with nothing happening she opened her eyes and looked to see what happened. Her face went blank when she saw all that happened was nothing in the slightest and after another quick blast of the light it gave the same response. “I think it might be broken…”

Anne snatched the detonator from the air and pointed it at the warhead and pulled the trigger, another small red laser light shining out and shining against the metal surface but this time something did happen, a little bit of fire burning a liquid that leaked out between two plates of metal.

“I think we need to hold the light on it.” Anne stated as she looked over the detonator before pointing it again at the warhead before pulling the trigger again.

The light continued to blaze in a constant beam and more and more small bursts of flame came from the metal until all the three could see was white.

Their ears were ringing and the first one to regain her senses but her ears kept on throbbing in pain as she staggered to her hooves an looked around in confusion and before she could take anything in she felt something hard land on her head, getting stuck onto her horn and sending her back down into a heap.

Anne got to her feet, gripping her head as she groaned in pain. She saw Twilight on the floor with a tin of spam speared on her horn, the disgusting 200 year old liquid inside dripping down her bone protrusion on her head and into her mane.

Looking over where the warhead once was she just saw a massive cloud of dust, nothing remaining of the thing that exploded and metal slag splattered around the dirt and quickly cooled off from the wind.

“Okay, so we’re alive.” Anne said looking over the detonator, tempted to just throw it away but she knew that that wouldn’t be a very good idea.

“My head hurts.” Twilight grumbled as she clutched her head, feeling the juices drip down and made her worried. “Is my brain leaking out..?” She asked in slight worry, the headache not letting her think clearly.

“I dunno.” Anne stated as she grabbed the tin and pried to off the horn and held it up, using her metal finger to peel the lid off and scooping a little bit into her mouth. “Taste pretty bad if it is.” She stated with a shrug.

After regaining her composure and kicking Anne in the non-robotic leg so she could feel it the three started to move forward again, hoping things might get easier the further they went along.

“This is pretty damn nice.” Anne stated as she held up the helmet they had found in a locker that once was inside a military barracks.

The helmet was a combination of a reinforced gas mask and a solid metal helmet. The glass of the eyes was a deep crimson, a touch attached to the side and small radio antenna. There was also with a large metal chest piece that protected the whole torso in segments that were held together with a sheet of leather between them all. There was no plating along the back, open to damage.

Twilight was sat in boredom on a rotten bed, reading through a military manual she found in a waste paper bin. Anne was getting out of the armor she was already wearing, putting on the cargo pants and military boots in the locker. Next she put on a long sleeve shirt that was part of the outfit and put the chest armor on over it, strapping it into place with the leather straps and a bandoleer filled with shotgun shells. And lastly was the large, thick leather trench coat with heavy padding along the shoulders and the sleeves were sealed to the arm with arm guards.

“How do I look?” Anne asks once she finished getting her head around how it was all meant to get put on.

“Like you’re focusing too much on looks and not being functional.” Twilight stated flatly as se closed the thin book and put it into her saddlebag.

“Come on! It looks cool.” She protested, arms going limp to her sides.

“You’re other armor had leg protection, and back protection, and better everything.” Twilight said.

“But I can’t wear that while I wear this…” Anne stated crossing her arms. “So are you ready to go?”

“I’ve been ready for the past half an hour, and you complain all the time whenever I stop to do something I want to do.” Twilight grumbled.

“Who the hell uses flare guns as a weapon?!” Anne yelled in exasperation as she tried to rub off the scorch marks off her new trench coat but they seemed to want to stay in.

“Well it did get you to run around while yelling about being on fire.” Twilight stated, the new small weapon strapped to one of her rear legs, it seemed quite a handy thing to have if she ever needed it.

“They were all aiming at me! They pretty much ignored the two of you.”

‘BEEP’

“No, it’s not because I’m fat.” Anne grumbled as they walked through the dark tunnels of what used to be a road runnel but from the earthquakes that happened the rock walls collapsed and left it more looking like a cave albeit one with rusty metal and brickwork mixed in with the rubble.

“You are putting on weight.” Twilight said with a smirk, just saying it to mess with her friend.

“Quiet.”

“You should stop eating those-“

“No, really quiet.” Anne stated, whispering as she crouched down. “Listen.”

Twilight paused but went quiet, not moving to listen for any notable sounds. After a few moments she heard it, a growling sound coming from up ahead, the eye bot floating down lower as to not be seen.

“Deathclaw.” Anne whispered as she slowly snuck her way forward, peering over some rubble.

Twilight followed suit and looked over at the beast, its hulking 10 feet stomping along with its knife like fingers soaked in crimson blood as it made its way to a shipping container.

“We should avoid that bad boy.” Anne stated as it went into the giant metal storage device. “If we’re quiet we could get past hi-“ she started until it let out another roar before getting cut off with a loud snapping sound.

Before anything could be said between the three a large horned head came bouncing out from the container, blood splattering along the ground.

“Or something else could kill it.” Twilight stated.

“What sounds worse? A deathclaw or something that can kill one that quickly?” Anne asked in worry as she pulled the massive sniper rifle off her back, just wanting to be sure to be ready for any beast that came to attack. “We need to keep moving.”

Twilight saw some movement from the corner of her eye but when she went to look she didn’t see anything, just dust and rock. “Yeah, I’m getting a bit claustrophobic in here…”

“So are these guys survivors from being skinned by the wind?” Anne asked in confusion as she crouched next to the body of an NCR ranger, his skin looking somewhat raw but nowhere near the amount of those outside and had his uniform well maintained. His neck was bent at an unnatural angle, the flesh purple from bruising.

“They could have come after them.” Twilight stated scanning the area, constantly feeling as if something was watching them, she had seen shadows move around but every time she looked they seemed to disappear.

“Probably…” Anne said standing herself back up, stretching her back.

That’s when Twilight actually caught something moving, what looked like the figure of a person quickly crawling away behind some rubble, nothing of detail visible from the lack of lighting. “Anne, something’s there.” Twilight stated as she brought Lucky out, the area not open enough for her to fly around and use her laser rifle and she felt she would need to move around quickly.

“Well, deathclaws cut up their prey, this guy was beaten to death.” Anne stated. “We need to get out of here soon otherwise this place might be our tomb…”

The three kept moving for another hour or so before they saw a large pile of rock and metal start shifting, something clawing its way out from the ground. It looked human at first glance but besides being bipedal that’s where the similarity ends. It had a larger head, large bio-luminescent eyes glowing a soft blue. It had elongated fingers that ended in a sharp claw, legs longer than a human and each toe as large as a finger and ending in a claw. Its skin was covered in a scaly leather, bone protrusions coming from its skull and down along its back like spikes. It looked at the two before opening its fang filled mouth, letting out a dry deathly screech.

“Well fuck…”

Chapter 67

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“What do we do?!” Twilight yelled.

“Just keep running!” Anne yelled back, not really aiming as she pointed her shotgun behind her and sent a load of fletchet darts down behind them at the mass of abominations chasing after the three, the little bot beeping in fear as it floated away. “These things just won’t go down!”

Nothing seemed to really affect them much, a shotgun blast right to the chest seeming to just knock it backwards but it wouldn’t last long when they got back up and continued to chase them.

“We have to get out of this place!”

Twilight was about to call back a reply but as she opened her mouth the ground just in front of her exploded out with screech of the beast bursting from the ground itself, thumping Twilight backwards from the force and quickly it was on top of her.

The abomination screamed right into her face, maw opening wide and saliva splattering against her face as it got ready to bite. She reached out with her magic for the first weapon she could think of but slapped herself when she pulled out the flare gun but didn’t have time to pull out anything else once she did. Bringing it up to its face she pulled the trigger, the gun letting out a soft poof sound as it sent out its bright red flaming load right into the thing’s maw. It recoiled in surprise, the flare going right down its gullet as it staggered off of Twilight, its gut glowing a bright red as it screeched in agony, starting to tear at its own belly to try and get itself rid of the light.

Green blood splattered on the rocky floor below it as it tore through its own guts but fell dead before it could. Twilight was about to continue running when she noticed that all the beasts all screeched differently and recoiled away from the glowing body, trying to get away from the light it was emitting.

“What are you waiting for?!” Anne yelled as she realized Twilight had stopped. “Run!”

Twilight wanted to test her theory, quickly loading another flare into the launcher before sending it off at the horde that had started advancing again.

The light sailed through the air and slammed against one, the phosphorus burning into its hide. But the thing that got the most reaction was the light itself, all tunnelers seeming more bent on getting away from the light than the chase.

“They don’t like the light!” Twilight yelled back to her friend as she quickly ran towards her, reloading the flare. “It should keep them at bay for however the flares last for.” She said once she got closer but she didn’t have many left, she didn’t think that she would need to have that many of them but it seemed she was wrong about that.

Both pony and human was laid down on the rocky rubble, gasping for air to fill their lungs now that they were under the light of the sky again, the wind heard but not seeming as bad as it was in the town before.

“Fuck… under… ground…” Anne said between heaves, everything feeling heavy and unresponsive.

“More… flares… needed…” Twilight noted as she rested her hoof over her eyes, wings laying limply on the ground below her.

A crackling sound came from the floating robot before a familiar deep voice started talking. “There you are, you went quiet for a time. Then that signal came in strong from your machine, like a heartbeat. Made your way through Old World towns, the tunnels that join them... now, the High Road. For all you've seen behind you there's worse along this stretch. Deathclaws, hunt the Marked Men, and they also hunt what burrows below, and within.”

“Oh just shut up.” Anne groaned as she forced herself to sit up, glaring over at the robot. “The last thing I want to hear right now is your yapping mouth.”

He didn’t say anything at first before letting out a low deep chuckle. “I understand now…” He stated. “The bullet you took, made you forget, but you’re starting to remember.” He stated.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Anne said, a bit too quickly in Twilight’s eyes.

“You might not remember exactly what you did, but you can feel it, deep inside.” He stated. “You’ve walked many roads, many would melt together.”

“Exactly, I don’t have any clue what you’re talking about.” Anne said getting to her feet, glaring over at the robot.

“Then let me refresh the memory.” He stated.

“No, you’re just going to shut the fu-“

“Anne.” Twilight said firmly, her friend looking over at the pony as she sat on the ground. “You came here to know about your past, you can’t run away from it.”

“This road leads nowhere! There’s nothing in the Divide!” Anne yelled.

“Many in the Mojave think the Divide's nothing but canyon and storm. Wasn't always. There was life, a town, farther West... not talking about an Old World town like Hopeville... more recent. Something you saw in your lifetime. It had the name ‘The Divide,’ too. But rather than cracks in the earth, it was a road from the West into the Mojave, a supply line. Took a Courier to make that road. You. Back then, you saw the road with eyes facing East. This time... the Divide's in the other direction. And if your eyes try to make sense of it when you reach it... home's not what it was.”

“You say that as if you know where I was born, you don’t! You don’t know anything about me!”

“Home isn't where you're born into this world. You taught me that. Part of your message, whether you meant it or not. Can be a place of mind, a moment where you know who you are, the history of it. And they can be places you breathe life into.” The robot said.

“Never would have known the Divide had it not been for you. The road you made with your tracks, again and again. You were the only one willing to make the journey to and from here... a hard road. Kept the land before the Divide alive through seasons, storms ...can't have been just a job. Was something more to you. Don't feel for a place that hard unless it's home.”

“It means everything, even if you deny it, cast it aside. That speaks to what you are, proves what happened here. What you did.”

“It was you walking that road that kept the Divide alive. It grew from what you did. Settlers... camps... filling that Old World city. Chance for a new nation, new beginning. New way of thinking. Could've breathed new life into the Mojave, bridging East, West. Like Hoover Dam... but not Old World, something you made. Road was a supply line.”

“The Long 15 is the only way from the NCR to the Mojave.” Anne stated.

“Not any more. If one existed, the two-headed Bear would have claimed it. And it tried to. NCR saw the worth in that road you made. Staked a claim, whether it was wanted there or not true elsewhere in the Mojave. And where the Bear tries to cling to life, the Legion comes... bearing messages. Some brought by blade. Others... by Couriers. You knew what was coming, as sure as I know what's coming for you. This time you carry the burden. Walk west into the sun, and keep walking until it dies. There - I'll be waiting.”

Twilight had tried to talk to the woman about things but Anne just shrugged her off angrily, just trying to move along. And that found them up high above the ‘High Road’ in a building that had partially collapsed at an angle into the overpass of what once was a highway. It had once been used as a sniper nest by a ghoul wearing armor much like Anne’s but more reinforced with thick fabric plates in the trench coat and thicker armor on the chest along with some on the back, better protection on the forearms and large shoulder pads. She immediately changed over to the better equipment.

They were high above the actual ground, the sandstorm seeming to not go higher than the supports for the road itself, seeming more unnatural than it actually was.

They were sat by a fire they had made using the wood from an ammunition box up there with the sniper, lit up on fire using a flare to start it. Anne was smoking as she cleaned her shotgun, not once looking up at the pony, leaving her feeling extremely awkward.

“I’m going to go to bed…” Twilight said looking over at her friend uncertainly.

Anne didn’t reply but the pony knew she heard and just sighed tiredly as she went over to a flatter pile of rubble and grabbed Anne’s old Trench Coat and used it as a mattress of sorts even though it didn’t protect her from the ground much.

She managed to get to sleep after a while of tossing and turning, Anne’s back illuminated by the light of the fire.

Twilight sat up with a yawn, stretching her front hooves and wings out wide with a few pops of her joints. Rubbing her eyes she looked around, seeing the small trails of smoke come from the charcoal left.

She continued to look around and something soon became very apparent, a certain human no longer anywhere to be seen in the sniper nest that they had camped up in. “Anne?” She asked sitting right up, magic slowly taking hold of Lucky and cocking the hammer back.

No answer came until there was slight humming sound and a round metal body peeked out from around a pillar. ‘Beep’ it let out as it floated out.

Twilight noted there was a very large dent along one of its sides, seeming to make it fly on a wonky angle.

“What happened to you?” Twilight asked in confusion as she slowly got up and went over to the robot.

‘Beep Beep’

‘I don’t speak beeps…’ Twilight thought to herself as she sighed.

The Eye-bot seemed to understand that and it let out a crackling sound before what must have been a recording started to play, the sound of a familiar wind and the crackle of a fire heard through the bot.

“The past hurts more than one realizes.” The deep voice of Ulises said.

“You can just shut up right now.” Anne’s voice said.

“You seem to think that out of all the horrors that the Divide has to offer that I’m the one that you might not be able to overcome. You can’t even imagine…”

“All I know is that when I find you and end you I can be done with everything.” Anne stated, the sound of her shotgun getting pumped heard.

“What of Michelle?”

There was a long moment of silence, the sound of the fire burning away the only reason Twilight knew the recording was still going.

“That name, you know that a name can hold power over a man. And you have not heard that name in a long time.”

“Shut up…”

“You can still feel what that name means deep inside, even if you don’t remember it.”

“Shut up.”

“She did not die in the Divide, and you will find her further you come into the Divide.” He stated.

“Shut up! Just shut the fuck up!”

“What would she say of what you did?” He asked. “What would Anne think?”

There was a loud crash sound followed by what sounded like the microphone dropping on the floor but Twilight knew that Anne had just hit the robot with the shotgun. “I think you should shut the fuck up before I skin you and boil your screaming body in lemon juice!”

“You lose your memory of your home from a shot in the skull, and you try to piece it back together with what’s left. I hear your companion call you by a name you were not born with, one that belonged to another. And if you knew, you would fall to the Divide again.”

Chapter 68

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She knew that Anne had gone forward without her, she hadn’t gone back to the Mojave, she knew that from the way she reacted to when her and Ulises spoke alone.

That left the princess stood before a console in the entrance way of a bunker, the concrete walls and roof that would have once covered it gone long ago. It looked over a large hatch on a concrete cleared area with collapsed buildings surrounding it.

“Can you power this up? The door is locked.” Twilight said looking over at the Eye-bot, the blast door to go further into the bunker sealed shut tightly.

‘Beep’ He said, floating over to the console and soon a spark of electricity shot onto the computers and the light came to life, a panel pulling back with a big red button coming out. After trying the door again she found that the door was still locked and she needed to do something out here to unlock it.

Sighing, she muttered to herself. “Where could this go wrong?” Before pressing the button.

An alarm started blaring out, a loud hiss coming from the hatch in the ground with steam spraying out for a few moments. As it opened a familiar looking warhead started to emerge from the darkness, attached to the rocket they once saw at the start of their journey. “Oh horseapples…”

A roar went out through the air, ground shaking as the rocket started to go up, speeding up quickly as it launched from the tube and went into the air, flames bellowing from the end as it went high into the air and arched midflight. Twilight saw it start to rocket away, trail of smoke and fire left behind it until it seemed to rock on its path and with a bright flash that Twilight had to look away from it exploded high above the ground, the shockwave visible as it traveled out, and within a moment Twilight was knocked back.

She had the air knocked out of her lungs as she landed on the ground, her robotic eye flickering on and off from the electromagnetic pulse, rubble that otherwise was unstable collapsing to the ground and sending more dust and sand into the air.

The explosion was a lot bigger than just the warhead by itself, but Twilight didn’t really notice that as she was rolling around on the ground in pain, gasping for breath as it felt like she had been in the sun for far too long and her already sore flesh from the sandstorms. “Why does everything have to be bad?!” She groaned, ears still ringing as she rolled on the ground.

The launch opened the bunker but as soon as she entered an explosion rocketed out throughout the building and the door slammed shut, sparks coming from the controls, she was locked on.

The only thing she could see was a large platform with fences along the sides on a track that lead down at a semi-step angle and deep into the depths of the complex. “Guess there’s no other way to go…” She said looking at the little bot, going over to the platform and to a large lever which was the only thing she could see. She looked down the tunnel and heard another explosion, the force coming up the tube and slamming into her face.

“I don’t trust this thing, I want to get out of here as soon as possible.” Twilight said as she stretched her wings, the gems on the robotic one glowing brightly as the Pegasus magic flowed through it. Jumping over the edge she glided her way down the tunnel, spotting the black shapes of the tunnelers crawling along the walls and looking at her with their glowing eyes with hunger.

She shivered at all the staring eyes as she reached the bottom, quickly getting out of there before they thought they could go after her. And once inside and the bot had come through she shut the door behind her and took off her laser rifle, taking aim at the lock and just emptying the battery into it, the metal glowing red hot and bent into an angle that it wouldn’t open again from after a few hard hits with the butt of the weapon.

She was inside a room that while it may have once had windows along one side to look into the tube that the missile was once inside they had melted into a puddle of slag, everything inside the roof scorched and blackened from the heat it was forced to go through. Pulling out Lucky she stepped forward, looking for any way to get herself out.

“Hopeville, High Road, Ashton... tiny cracks in the Earth, nothing compared to the road carved ahead. Before you... this is the edge of the Divide.” Ulises said after Twilight left the building into the light of the sun, although she was at the bottom of a ravine, skyscrapers that once went up to the clouds now low in the ground.

“You again, where’s Anne?” She asked glaring at the robot.

“She has gone to find herself, you will see her again soon. But not the person you once knew…”

Twilight knew that he would just talk in riddles, just looking at the landscape. “What happened here?”

“She delivered a package. Had markings that matched those in the Divide. Not all... but enough. Military markings, from some place the Bear had savaged in the West. Maybe seeing those markings on it reminded her of home... made her carry it…”

“What was the device?”

“It was a device, a detonator. One I'd never seen before, or heard before. They carried that thing to the Divide. I know because I followed them as they walked the road, watched do it. They brought it here, to the community they built. And they are responsible for what happened after, when the device opened, started to speak. When it did, the Divide answered back. Those missiles you've seen, buried in their silos. They exploded beneath the ground, cracked the landscape. Sand, ash... the dead... the Divide skies became a graveyard.”

Twilight’s rump landed on the floor under her, eyes going wide as she heard this. ‘Anne did this?’ she thought to herself. “Y-you don’t know it was Anne…”

“No, I’m certain.” He stated. “What I didn’t know was if she survived like the other one…”

“You keep talking about another person. Who are they…”

“Anne.” He said.

“I’m talking about the other person.” Twilight stated. “Who was Anne with!?”

“Michelle.”

“Who is that? I heard it in a recording.”

“You don’t have any idea do you of who you travel with. Of who she had hurt to move ahead in the dying world…”

“I don’t care what she might have done before I met her, she can’t remember the entire time I’ve known her and all the good she has don has changed the lives of so many people for the better! If she did do this she wouldn’t have done it on purpose. And while the damage is done, you, who speaks of the past and how we need to learn from it needs to move on.”

“Will you keep this view if you knew?” He asked before he cut himself off.

Twilight continued to walk along the roof of a building, a peek over showing the easily 20 story fall below with a large metal support crashed through the side that could be used as a ramp down if needed. She could see the movement of the marked men in a makeshift camp they had made, the rubble used to make small igloos of sorts and wooden crates broken down for firewood. The princess spotted a warhead half buried into the ground right next to the camp and she looked at her side at the bulge in her pocket from the detonator.

Pulling it out she pointed it down to the explosive, making sure to look down the length of it so she aimed it correctly before pulling the trigger and sending a constant beam of light down at it. Fire burst from the seams after a few moments and with a familiar sound it exploded out into a mushroom of flame. The igloos were sent flying away, shattering against the ground and one very unfortunate ghoul who had his head crushed flat from the force. Limbs were torn from bodies, flesh burnt from the bone and this was all just with a ‘small’ explosion. She understood how horrifying the day the world first ended really was.

A flare was shot up into the air with a soft hiss as the flaming projectile was sent high.

Twilight knew that it was a call for help by a survivor of the explosion, but the flame into the air and the shockwave itself would have done that just fine.

Putting the detonator back into her vest she took her laser rifle off her back and laid herself down along the edge of the building, bracing the butt against her shoulder and got ready for the onslaught of marked men that would come.

She saw one come out from what was once the top floor of a building with a large Gatling gun mounted on his shoulder. Taking aim down the boxy barrel of her gun she pulled the trigger with her magic, a beam of heat going down and missing him by a few feet and alerting him to where the princess was. As he took aim up at the princess and the barrel started to spin up she started to pull the trigger in rapid succession, just hoping that any of the shots would hit and a few did but he didn’t go down.

Bullets came sailing at the sniper, making her pull back to avoid it as the lead tore into the rock ledge and showered against her. Pulling out the old battery and loaded another one in before peaking over the edge, watching as they showered the area as they tried to hit her. She made sure to keep her head down until she saw him lower the gun and pull out a large box from the side.

Taking advantage of him reloading she quickly assumed her position again and took aim, sending more shots right down to him and a lucky one to the neck sent him down to the ground.

Before she could celebrate the ledge of the building exploded out, a massive hole getting ripped from it. She yelped and pulled her head back just in time for the ledge to get torn apart again. Peeking through a hole in the building she spotted two snipers with the extremely oversized guns that Anne had managed to loot and knew that she didn’t want to get hit with even a single bullet from them.

They brought the guns back up to their eye after they racked the bolt of their gun to load another bullet into the chamber. Twilight was thinking of a plan to get around this but she didn’t get the chance as more, smaller caliber bullets, impacted against where she was.

Moving herself away from the spot they were all zeroed in onto, and peeked over again to see what she got herself into.

There were at least a dozen of them, all aiming up at the building she was huddled behind, all types of guns, all of which things that Twilight didn’t want to get hit by if how large they were was any indication of how deadly they are.

“This isn’t looking good…” She said to herself as she floated her rifle away from her and poked it out from an area she wasn’t huddled behind and opened fire in the general angle that they were in, not really aiming at anything and just wanting to keep them at bay but she knew that it wouldn’t stop them forever.

She started to take deep breaths, she would get through this, she wouldn’t die before she got home again, she would see her friends, her family again. She looked over the edge again and saw someone prepare what looked like a rocket launcher, not really clear from where she was but she knew that it would tear through her cover very quickly.

She closed her eyes as she pulled herself back, trying to reassure herself that she would get through this but deep down she knew it was futile. Opening her eyes her heart froze, three barrels pointed right against her muzzle, three very angry looking Marked Men glaring down at her.

‘This is the end…’ She thought, eyes refusing to close at what was about to come.

What she didn’t expect was a fourth member to step forward with his rifle brought back and brought it down on her head and instantly all she knew was black.

Chapter 69

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“I haven’t had fresh meat in so long, would she notice if I took off a leg?” A torn up voice said as Twilight regained consciousness, her head feeling heavy and throbbing.

“You know she would rip out your throat if you disobey her orders, just remember what happened to Johnny.” Another just as shredded voice said, Twilight slowly starting to open her eyes.

The light was dim but her robotic eye easily adjusted within a moment while the natural one had a bit of trouble. She was hung upside down over a rough concrete floor by a rope that was tightly tired around her hind legs and she spotted her robotic wing in a heap to the side.

“She’s waking up.” The first voice said, the princess feeling a hard jab to her ribs.

“I’ll go let the boss know…” the second said as footsteps could be heard leaving.

“W-what happened?” Twilight asked with a groan, her hooves going to her sore head.

“You dun got caught.” The voice said, a marked man making his way in front of the pony and bending over to look her in the eye. He was wearing what was once an NCR uniform but it had been torn and repaired so many times it was barely recognizable as such. “I didn see your type out west, wonder what you taste like…”

Twilight rolled her eyes, her horn starting to glow brightly as she used her magic to easily slice through the thin rope and drop her to the ground. The man stumbled back in surprise by this and fumbled for a rusty and broken 9mm pistol on his hip but by the time he pulled it out and cocked it the gun was yanked out of his grip and spun around quickly, not even getting a moment to register it as it went off right into his face.

After shaking the blood from the gun she untied her hind hooves from the mess of rope and stretched her back, blood moving back down into her hooves again. Pulling the magazine from the pistol she was surprised to find that the spring that would push the bullets up to be used was jammed and only the one bullet could be used at a time and a quick check on the ghoul found no more bullets, only a chipped and blunt machete.

She went over to her gear and quickly started to put it back onto herself, picking up her wing and getting ready to slot it back into her back. After a white blinding pain she got to her hooves again, stretching out the prosthetic limb and slid the machete through a strap on her barding.

Dropping the pistol to the side it broke into the different chinks, it was lucky it fired at all in the first place without exploding! She looked around the room she was held in and from first glances it appeared to be a woodworking room, with band saws and carpentry tables lining the walls and a sliced rope tied around the duty rafters where she was tied up.

Twilight made her way to the only door she could see, slowly peeking it open and looking around. It lead into a hallway with faded and torn inspirational posters lining the walls, Twilight knew a school when she saw it. It was run down, the shattered windows hastily boarded up with scrap wood with the sandstorm billowing on outside. She could see only guard, a marked man wearing legion scraps with a machete made from an old lawnmower blade.

Taking a few moments she yanks out her weapon and charged up her horn, and with a flash she appeared right behind the man. The flash caused him to spin around in fright but didn’t get a word out before a blunt blade was crammed right into his chest before snapping from the force, the gagging body slumping to the ground with a clatter.

Letting go of the broken weapon she grabbed the lawnmower blade, feeling a bit heavier and more of a bludgeon than a blade.

She made her way forward, makeshift weapon at the ready as she peeked through doors she passed, seeing a few classrooms with tables and chairs smashed and bent while some were obviously used such as one that had a room remade using beds taped together as beds, which Twilight could say from experience could be comfortable if it was supported on a mattress of learning but she doubted they cared. She quickly but quietly made her way past that seeing quite a few sleeping men.

One room that did get her to stop was when she saw a familiar figure sat next to a table, arm outstretched and crushed in a metal vice. The non-metal arm was nowhere to be seen and her flesh one wasn’t looking that good. And she didn’t look good at all to be honest, she was slumped down forward, her armor all removed with only a tank top left on her body and that was stained with blood and sweat, the pants just the cargo pants she had before but blood had dripped down onto them.

Twilight slid the door open, stepping inside before shutting it closed behind her. The room looked like a metalworks room, much like the room she woke up in but with heavier duty things to get through the tougher material.

“Anne? Are you okay?” Twilight asked in worry, quickly going over to the woman and sitting her up in the wooden chair she was tied into.

She didn’t make a sound, blood dripping from her bloodied mouth as she was sat back, one eye swollen shut while the other was shut by itself. “Come on, wake up, let’s get out of here.” She whispered urgently.

“Knew that when you weren’t in your cell you’d come after her.” A voice said, straggly normal compared to others she heard.

Whipping around to face the newcomer she saw a youngish looking woman leaning against the doorway, a dozen marked men, each with nasty looking guns and weapons all trained on the pony and Anne.

The woman was wearing a trench coat, what once might have been a crisp suit if not for years of wear and tear underneath. A holster was along her waist and holding a very large revolver, bigger than a 44. and with gold detailing along its white glossy surface. Her face was of quite a lot of note, half the skin torn away and leaving a familiar red muscle and flesh that was a staple of the Marked Men. And finally there was a dark fedora perched atop her head.

“Wasn’t much of a cell.” Twilight stated, blade hovering next to her at the ready but she didn’t like the look of this.

“I’ll give you that.” She said with a chuckle as she looked to the others. “Lower your weapons, if she tried anything she’d be dead anyway.”

The ghouls all lowered their guns but looked twitchy, as if Twilight moved too fast she would get filled with holes.

Walking over to a desk the woman grabbed a pair of chairs and brought them to the middle of the room, placing them to look at each other. “Seen you following her, let’s have a chat, you and I.” She stated taking a seat and lounging back in the chair.

“Who are you?” Twilight asked slowly, looking at the guards as she took a seat, looking for anyway to take them down but it didn’t look like it right now.

“Anne.” She stated simply, smiling gently.

“That’s her.” Twilight said in confusion, pointing at the woman trapped with her broken arm in a vice with her hoof.

“Nah, that’s Michelle.” ‘Anne’ stated.

“I think you have the wrong person here…” Twilight said.

“I think I would recognize my own sister.” She said with a chuckle.

“Sister…?”

“Well, ex-sister, if that’s even possible.” The woman said pulling out her revolver, spinning the cylinder.

“I’m lost here.” Twilight stated.

“You think that idiot could have made her way throughout anywhere on her own?” The woman asked before laughing, whipping up the gun and firing a shot right at the woman in the vice, blood exploding from her flesh knee.

‘Anne’ woke up with a yell, both legs jerking about as she pulled at the restraints in agony.

“Glad you joined us, was starting to worry that we made you brain dead.” The woman stated shoving the pistol back to her hip.

Twilight went to get up to help her friend but a dozen guns cocking themselves made her stop.

“N-not my fault…” Anne groaned, blood leaking from her mouth as she cringed in pain, head not able to stay up as it rocked around.

“Don’t start with that crap again.” The woman stated rubbing her eyes with her hand.

“WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!” Twilight yelled in anger and confusion, she did not like having no clue about what was happening.

“Want the quick version or the long?”

“Just tell me!”

“Well. She and I used to grow up on the streets of The Boneyard. We were born twelve minutes apart and cause our mother was just a wench she couldn’t support us and left us once we turned old enough. We lived as scavengers till we were old enough to get taken seriously and became bodyguards for a while but eventually we became curriers. After a few years and a lot of caps we went along The Divide and we liked what we saw. We helped start a community here and even took this school as a place to call our own. But Michelle wanted to make a bit more money and brought something from the West. She’s the reason we’re all like this.” She said, ending with it by pointing to all the guards in the room.

“She didn’t mean to do it, it was an accident-“ Twilight was saying but before she could finish it her mouth was shoved open as a revolver was suddenly jabbed into her muzzle, the princess too frightened to so much as breathe.

“Didn’t mean to do it? WELL that’s all okay then! Should just let both of you go now to fuck around with that asshole Ulises?” She asked sarcastically. “She still did it! She killed everyone! And when she realized she fucked up you know what she did? She didn’t look for survivors, or go after her sister, she just left!”

“D-didn’t know…” Michelle groaned in her seat.

“You shut up before I bring out the bolt cutters again!” The real Anne yelled. “Bad enough you have the nerve to use my name!”

“When I met her she just got shot in the head… She couldn’t remember anything besides a name I guess…” Twilight said once the gun was removed from her mouth.

“Bound to happen knowing her.” Anne said with a shrug. “Shame that she had to survive…”

“If she’s your sister you should want to help her, find her again to be together again!” Twilight yelled.

“You want to know what kept me alive as I lay bloodied and scorched in a puddle of radiation? It wasn’t anything like hope for my sister’s help. It was hate. Pure and utter hate for that woman over there.” She stated pointing over at Michelle with her pistol. “But you don’t know how heartless she really is I guess. So I’ll give you a little show of how I see her.” She stated smugly looking over at one of the guards and giving a nod.

The guard grunted and left the room, returning after a few moments with a very large and very heavy box rolled on a trolley and put it in the middle of the room. “There’s enough C four in that box to maybe blow an arm off. But what makes it need such a big box is the napalm filling it to the brim.” She stated as she pulled out another pistol from behind her, a smaller, low caliber revolver. A very familiar revolver. “This was yours? Pretty nice…” She stated as she flicked out the cylinder and loaded in only one .32 bullet.

“Here’s what’s going to happen. One of you can take the bullet and die instantly, but condemns the other to die painfully in an inferno.” She explained, the guards leaving with her soon following. “You guys can pick.” She stated, throwing the gun to the tile floor with a clatter.

When the door slammed shut she quickly made her way to Michelle/Anne, or whatever the hell her name was!

“I deserve to burn…” the woman groaned as Twilight loosed the vice and carefully pulled her arm out of the grip. The bone was pretty much gone inside and Twilight spotted that the slimmest finger and middle finger had been cut off.

“Neither of us are going to die here.” Twilight stated, trying to move Michelle onto her back with a grunt.

“Save yourself… The pain.”

“We’re not dying here today because you forget one thing.” Twilight stated with a grin. “I can teleport!”

‘POP’

Chapter 70

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Twilight took them outside into the storm with her teleportation, not really caring hat was outside as long as she could get her injured friend to safety, having to pretty much carry here considering one of her leg as all but useless after being shot.

They stumbled through the storm until they managed to find the wreak of a truck and climbed into the back to escape the onslaught of sand. Inside were the boxes of goods that were once paid for but now was next to useless with survival.

Putting Michelle up against the wall of the trailer she slowly tried to stretch out her legs to get a look at the wound but the limb wouldn’t move that far without causing insane levels of pain on the woman.

“I’m probably going to regret this but I have to do this…” The princess stated as she looked around her pockets for a needle of Med-X but she found that everything had been removed from her vest and left her with very little she could do. “Crap… I don’t have anything.” She said in worry, carefully ripping the hole on the pants open more to free up the gunshot so she could try to help.

Bone was clearly visible behind the blood that was still pouring out and dripping down her leg and staining the pants and the rusty metal below them. Sand had gotten into the wound and got stuck to the blood like glue, she had to wash it out before anything really bad happened.

“I’ll be back.” She said to the groaning woman. “I need to get things to help you.”

“Not like I’m going anywhere…” She said in pain. “If you’re going back in there see if you can get our stuff…” She said before her head fell back, breathing heavily to try and cope with the pain.

A quick teleportation back to the old school she made sure to go back to the room she was first held in, she didn’t want to pop into a room and burst into flames immediately. And already as she came in she could smell a thick smoke in the air, burning her lungs with the ash. The smoke starting to pool on the ceiling was also a very notable thing.

A quick check around the room proved fruitless when not even the corpse she left there and the hallway remained, only the bloodstains telling that they were there in the first place. She kept moving along rooms until she saw one filled with boxes and bags, just hoping that their things were there but after longer than she liked she only found Anne’s armor and some medical supplies along with Benny’s pistol, Anne’s shotgun, her arm and A Light Shining In Darkness. She ended up having to make two trips to get everything and by the end of it her head was starting to hurt from the amount of magic she had to use to do all that.

Once she was back by her friend’s side she saw that she was very pale and there was a large puddle of blood under her. She took slow shallow breathes as she clenched her hands around the makeshift tourniquet she made from a length of the shirt she had on, and with only one arm she wasn’t able to tie a knot.

“Hey, I’m back now.” She said rushing to her side, pulling out a needle of med-x and jabbing it into her friend’s thigh, chucking the used needle to the side.

“My knee… no fixing it.” Michelle groaned, eyes looking unfocused. “Just… Stimpak to stop the bleeding… deal with damage later…”

Twilight was hesitant but did what her friend said, grabbing one of the larger needles and jabbing it into her thigh just above the broken knee and watched as the flesh grey back into blade and bone joined together with sickening sounds and from the groans Michelle made it wasn’t a pleasant experience in the slightest. But soon the knee wasn’t bleeding, covered in new scar tissue and the lumps of the badly repaired bone.

Undoing the strap around her leg Michelle chucked the length of fabric to the side, pulling her leg up with a wince of discomfort as bone rubbed against bone. “Could be worse… leg could have been shot off…” She grunted as she went limp again against the wall of the trailer.

“I found some of your things but not all of it.” Twilight stated, dragging the bundle of armor and trench coat over to the woman.

“Any ammo?”

“Crap. I knew I missed something…”

It took a long time before Anne was ready to get onto her feet, and even longer for her to be able to stay on her feet after the blood loss. After a bottle of dirty water and a bit of dry packaged cakes they started to move again, although much was hard to see with the sandstorm always raging on. But eventually Twilight spotted some familiar things but she wasn’t %100 sure quite yet considering it was hard to really get details when you could barely see. And since Anne didn’t have her helmet and Twilight didn’t have goggles or anything, they felt the full force of the wind against their faces and grinding against their skin.

But after what felt likes days of walking but was more like a number of hours they managed to get back to the place Twilight was first knocked out by the Marked Men and taken prisoner. She knew it was the right place when she found the dented shell of the Eyebot that the ghouls must have shot down with the sand filled bullet holes covering its metal shell. It was letting out beeps and sparks as it twitched on the ground like a dying animal.

“Eh, he’s looking as bad as me.” Anne yelled over the dust storm as she got a grip on the robot with her one arm and lifted it up, the cold metal chilling her fingers.

It let out a sputtering beep.

“Anyway we can fix him?” Twilight asked in concern.

“Give me a few hours and I’ll see what I can do…”

After setting up in the remains of an apartment of a collapsed sky scraper Michelle got to work fixing up the little robot and while he was able to fly again he still looked like a stiff breeze would be able to knock him around.

But after resting up they set out once more, Michelle limping along visibly and the bot doing what could only be thought of as the flying equivalent of a limp. Twilight meanwhile felt guilty that she wasn’t as bad off as her friends, her sore horn and head really being the only real thing wrong. At least it wasn’t as bad as before.

The trio walked slowly along the torn and ruined streets of the Divide, husks of homes and offices towering high into the air and casting long cold shadows on the land. The wind seemed to lessen as they got further away from the beginning of their journey.

“You dragged that bot all this way.” A familiar voice of a very dry sounding man said from the little robot, the two friends groaning as they hear him once again.

“Can you just shut it?” The princess asks with a groan of annoyance.

“Knew you'd survive... but no need to go any farther. You've brought me what I need, that machine with you, sealed in the Hopeville silo. Needed someone to unlock it, bring it home. Now the signal's strong enough, no need for you to carry it anymore. I can call your machine to me.”

Before either one could ask what the hell he was even talking about the floating bot shot out a bolt of electricity directly into Anne’s unprotected face, the woman going as still as a plank before she fell down backward to the dirt, body twitching slightly as her eyes stared straight ahead to the sky.

Twilight was in too much shock at the sudden turn of events that she didn’t prepare for a similar bolt of power to go right into her chest, everything going white and when she got her sight back her robotic eye wasn’t working and she couldn’t feel anything move and when she did it was unwanted and rather painful.

She barely noticed as the bot started to fly away quickly, little sparks coming from in between its hard metal plates covering its damaged internal workings. It was a while before she managed to get herself back up again, her headache coming back again in full force. “Asshole.” She muttered as she tapped the side of her head, trying to get her eye to turn itself back on.

It turned on suddenly after a few taps, blinding her with the sudden vision before she shook her head to clear it up. Looking over at Michelle she saw that she was laid down on the ground, arm over her eyes as she groaned softly in discomfort. “He could have just knocked me and I would have gone down…” She muttered.

“I wonder what he wants the eyebot for…” Twilight stated.

“Oh, that’s Ed-e by the way.” Anne stated.

“No it isn’t, he’s back in the Mojave.”

“Didn’t I tell you? Apparently the pod we found the bot in got a signal from Ed-e and copied everything on him onto the new shell… Now there are two of our flying little balls…”

“Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”

“Cause I forgot.”

The massive door slid open with a hiss as the two made it to the entrance of a bunker, this door so much bigger and thicker than others they had seen. Inside was a massive hall, the roof just rough rock but the floors and wall were flat concrete, in better quality than much of the other bunkers they saw. One thing that wasn’t in the others were the dozen of warheads that were just scattered around along with half a dozen ICBMs that were in their tubes and the metal hatches above them open and letting the bright light of the outside shine down onto their white surfaces. One was by far the biggest though, which was right in the middle of the far end of the launch bay, thick as a car is long and towering out of the ground even with so much of it hidden in the ground below.

A man stood in front of the biggest one, hair braded into dreadlocks, filter mask over his mouth with his sunken in eyes looking at them. He was wearing a duster with the arms removed to the shoulder, his bare forearms crossed over his chest.

“Your city, Vegas, lies in the other direction... with the rest of its slaves. Or is it just, you, Courier, without the lights and ghosts.” He stated, this was Ulises. “Judging by your shadow... maybe you can't let your machine go. Doesn't matter now. Either way, the Divide giants are awakening. The missiles here, on their way home. There is no way to stop them.”

“There’s no excusing what I did but I didn’t do it out of hatred or malice… what you’re doing is madness.” Michelle stated as she had her sore arm down on the hip of her holster of the .45 pistol engraved with old time writing.

“No, now there is purpose. I believe you when you say you were... careless. The Divide... the Chip... the machine you brought here... Many messages can be taken from that, intended or not. What I do now is an act of conviction.”

“You blame me for the Divide, and you have every right to. But don’t hurt other people because of me.”

He let out a soft chuckle through his rebreather. “Blame you? No, learned from you. Both the weapon to kill a nation, and the strength to do it. You showed me a road, a way to carry my message. You've already answered for what you've done. Now the flag you follow will answer for it.”

Before anyone could say anything else a gunshot echoed out in the massive hall, everyone whipping to look at the large amount of Marked Men with their guns trained on the four and a very scarred woman grinning as she pointed her very large pistol at them.

“Hello again sis!”

Chapter 71

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“Not her.” Twilight heard Ulises mutter under his breath as he pulled a staff off her back, a golden eagle shining in the dull light at the top.

“You thought you could launch some nukes without me eh?” Anne called out with a cackle. “Me and my boys wanted to join in before the fireworks got started!”

“Just leave, we’ll leave once we stop this.” Michelle stated, sadly looking over to her sister.

“Don’t think you can just run away like last time. Everything will end here now and I have no intension of dying.”

“Maybe we can take turns then settling everything? It looked like Ulises wanted to get his speeches out of the way before you got here.”

“Why did they have to be related?” Ulises muttered as he sat down on the stairs of the platform he was on, Twilight trotting over to sit down next to him. “I left the doors unlocked in case I couldn’t kill your friend, but I thought it would just be a few troops, not their leader…”

“Trust me when I saw she is very hard to kill, so many people have tried but she keeps on going.” She said before sighing sadly. “You came to the Divide and found a new home right?”

“Correct.” The man stated looking down at the princess.

“I’ve lost my home as well, I might never see it again and I know the pain you feel inside because of that.” She said. “But that also means that you shouldn’t want this feeling on others… That’s what would happen if you launch them…”

“I couldn’t stop them if I tried, I locked it out so they’re going to leave no matter what in a while.” He stated as he pulled up an arm, looking at an old, dirt covered watch on his wrist. “Half an hour or so…”

“There would be a way to stop them. But we can’t allow the type of destruction that is here to happen anywhere else.” Twilight explained, looking at the two sisters still arguing loudly. “But that may be a problem.”

“She lost her mind when the ground cracked open, there’s no finding it again.” He said. “The Courier won’t be able to end it herself, so you’ll have to do it for her.” He stated as he stood himself up. “I’m leaving, I won’t stop you in trying to stop the rockets, but I’m not staying.”

Twilight nodded, looking down at the concrete ground. “Friends can make even the worst pains more bearable, don’t forget that.”

He didn’t say anything more, slowly walking away from everything.

Twilight’s head snapped back to the two yelling as a gunshot rung out follow by a lot of others, one of the Marked Men getting a bit twitchy and letting one off and scaring everyone else to both run for cover and open fire.

A few bullets visibly hit Michelle as she dove for cover, a few holes in the leather trench coat and dints against the armor she wore. Once she was behind cover she pulled off her shotgun, pumping it loudly.

Twilight got behind something when a few bullets also whizzed past her, finding an old console to protect herself as she pulled Benny’s pistol off her back and racked the slide back to chamber a round.

Peeking around her cover she saw that a lot of the Marked Men were just shoving their guns above cover and firing wildly, hitting nothing of note. A couple were actually aiming but Twilight took a few of her own shots at one man and he went down behind over, limp body sticking out.

“Move up you ninnies! There are only two of them!” Anne could be heard yelling, a few moments later before a few of the Men listened and jumped up above their cover, yelling loudly with their shredded vocal chords with their guns firing out.

Two went right at the alicorn and she managed to take one down before he arrived but the other got to her and brought his gun around to hit her. Stopping it suddenly with her magic he lost his grip and stumbled to the side, looking in confusion as his marksmen rifle spun around and unloaded the rest of its clip directly into his chest.

Michelle had a few more coming at her but she easily took them down with a number of well-placed shotgun shells right into the middle of their chest, although one got over but a stab with her claws right at the flesh of his neck ended that quickly.

Michelle took the opportunity to grab the rifle the ghoul had and charge herself forward to more advanced cover to get closer. Resting the barrel on the wall she was hidden behind she took aim and opened fire on one Marked Men who wasn’t quite hidden safely and yelled out in pain as his body fell to the ground.

Twilight slid a new clip into her pistol and teleported herself far above, up in the rafters that held the rocky roof up behind the Marked Men. Taking aim she managed to down three of them before they noticed her and she had to get away, teleporting back to where she was before.

Michelle jumped up with her shotgun again but just as she went up she was forced back down as a high powered round from her sister tore through her fleshy thigh. “Fuck!” She yelled in pain, clutching the bleeding limb with her hands.

“Just come out, make this easy on yourself, we’ll kill you both quickly!” Anne could be heard shouting from behind her cover.

Twilight grit her teeth, another empty clip dropping to the ground next to her before clicking yet another one. “Not going to happen!” She yelled, teleporting herself forward to the next cover with a flash.

“I’m going to use your horn for a sex aid!” The woman taunted, a bright blush on the princess’s muzzle as her eyes looked up at the bone jutting from her head.

“I already use it as mine.” Michelle shot back as she stabbed a stimpak onto her leg to heal up the bullet hole, although she had an empty 9mm clip bounce off her head from a fuming pony.

Twilight leaned herself against the cover and grimaced as she felt something hard digging into her back from inside one of her pockets and when she pulled what it was out she saw it was the detonator. A lightbulb went off in her head as she spotted the numerous warheads filling the room and flicked the power on the device. Taking aim she pulled the trigger as the beam of light impacted against a warhead behind her enemies, small bouts of flame to spring from between the plates and soon a deafening roar came out as it went off.

Because it was indoors the shockwave was funneled along the room and knocked the wind out of everyone. It was a lot worse for the Marked Men, limbs going past through the air and blood splattering around.

Twilight got to her hooves quickly, pistol at the ready as Michelle slowly got to her feet with her hands on her head as she tried to get the ringing out of her ears.

The princess spotted movement where the Marked Men were and quickly rushed forward, only finding a twitching corpse of half a ghoul and the groaning body of Anne, both legs missing and large shards of metal jutting from her body as a pool of blood puddled around her.

The woman reached out for her large .45-75 caliber revolver, but couldn’t reach it once Twilight picked it up and slid it through a loop on her barding.

“R-rot in hell.” The woman growled, blood leaking from her mouth as she glared at the pony.

“I hope you find peace…” Twilight said sadly as she brought up the 9mm pistol before rapidly firing thee bullets into the woman’s chest.

She let out a wheezing sound as her eyes went wide and body went stiff. And just like that the life left her eyes, soft sigh coming from her mouth as she went limp. Using her hoof she gently closed the woman’s opened eyes, taking a step back. She saw that the woman had Anne’s .45 pistol and undid the holster and pulled it away and put it into her bag.

Michelle slowly stumbled over, tears in her eyes before she fell to her knees next to her sister, taking her hand into her own and clutching it to her head as she cried softly. “I’m sorry…” She whispered.

Twilight rested her living wing over her friend’s shoulder. “We need to get out of here, there isn’t much time until the nukes launch…”

Michelle couldn’t speak, just nodding as she wiped her nose with the back of her arm, slowly getting to her feet as she looked down on the body. “Goodbye…” She said taking a step back.

“I’ll try to force the blast doors shut with my magic…”

Hopeville burned lightless in the night, invisible fires of radiation scorching it from within and without. It is said a man still walked its streets, with a tattered jacket, an Old World flag etched on the back...

He remained there, perhaps as punishment for the scars he left on the wastes - or a reminder of a history he could not forget. For Ulysses... his journey was over. The Courier had been the end of his road.

As for the Courier... she turned her back on her home for the second time and made her way back, navigating the treachery of the Divide. Tunnelers and the Marked Men... avoided the twin figures, as if recognizing the Courier's right to passage... or out of fear.

The Courier walked until she stood again upon the edge of the Divide, the last road she would walk before the second battle for Hoover Dam. There, beside her feet, was a final package, from one Courier to another - a footlocker, bearing a gift, and a message.

But that message - it is something for Couriers to carry, and for them alone.

The lights flickered across the Divide, reminders that the Old World histories persist, and find meaning in the present.

It said War. War never changes.

Women do, through the roads they walk.

And this road has reached its end.

Twilight and Michelle stood before the footlocker holotape in her hand as she slid it into her pipboy and pressed play.

“Last tape, last message. In case... you best me. If you're hearing this, you have, through blood or word. This message, and all that lies with it - it is for you, Courier. If you want to know the... why of things. This world, I've walked a good part of it... I stopped only because of you. What you did - gave me pause. Long ago, I crossed the Colorado, the first among the Legion to see Hoover Dam in all its glory... an Old World wall, yet bridging two sides. And beyond it, a symbol of a two-headed Bear, an idea great enough to challenge Caesar himself. Might kill him, taking it, whether he won or lost. The Bull needs to fight, needs the challenge, without it... it falters, dies in the dust. Might be a lesson there, in you and me. I’ll leave the thought behind the message to you. My message is this - the destruction that has been wrought, at the Divide - or elsewhere, if you couldn't stop me... It can happen again. It will keep happening. If war doesn't change, men must change, and so must their symbols. Even if it is nothing at all, know what you follow, Courier...just as I followed you, to the end. Whatever your symbol...carry it on your back, and wear it proudly when you stand at Hoover Dam.”

Michelle reached into the box and pulled out a large duster, turning it around and seeing the flag of the old world painted onto the fabric.

“Ready to go home Michelle?” Twilight asked unsurely, her friend looking blanking at the jacket before the landscape of the Mojave.

“Yeah… Let’s go…” She said. “But… Just call me Anne.”

Chapter 72

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“Why would we need to keep Kimball alive if we don’t plan on letting the NCR run this place? Wouldn’t that just not affect us?” Anne asked in confusion, looking up at the large grinning face on the screen at the top of the Lucky 38.

“Mister House ran projections on how the NCR public will react to a defeat at Hoover Dam! Overwhelmingly, they'll blame Kimball! But if Kimball dies at Hoover Dam, there's no obvious scapegoat for them to blame! So they'll blame New Vegas instead! So that means reduced tourism for up to five years! The equations are pretty complicated! Mister House sure liked numbers!”

“I guess we’re off to Hoover Dam.” Anne said, rubbing the back of her neck with her robotic arm as she looked down at her smaller friend.

“Better late than never.”

“This is what they’re fighting over?” The princes asked in confusion as she looked over the dam.

Yes it was very large but it didn’t look too impressive, bland and grey going down far into the cut in the ground that the river made, large pipes as big as a bus at the bottom spraying out the wall of water the rock was holding back. It had an inwards concave against the water and the road along the top was well over a thousand feet and at least seven hundred feet from the bottom of the canyon.

The fort of the Legion could be seen built up with scrap metals on the far end of the dam with a large gate blocking it off from the NCR who had set up their own defenses and with the large howitzers pointed at the fort it looked like things were in a stalemate, just waiting for a match to set off the powder keg.

“All the fighting and death for a dam…” Anne said. “The NCR want it for the public view and the Legion need to fight otherwise they can’t keep living.” She explained. “Just a massive cluster fuck in the works.”

“Why would the leader of the NCR even come here to the front lines?”

“Morale boost, most of the troopers know how useless this war is and are starting to lose faith in the chain of command. If he ends up getting killed here it would be all but broken and as Yes Man said, they’d blame it on Vegas.” She stated, sighing tiredly as she rubbed her head, although with the helmet it didn’t do much.

Her outfit had changed a bit. She still wore the trench coat and armor but she had sanded the paint off the metal to make it a dull grey before she stencil painted the new logo that she had everyone work on for a new flag. It was the tower of the Lucky 38 with the words ‘Incipimus iterum’ underneath which meant ‘begin again’ according to Gannon but since no one else knew Latin they couldn’t really check that and had to take his word on it. And she also had a medical brace along her flesh leg, after the shot to her knee she had trouble putting weight on it so she had to use it to support herself.

“Let’s go, we have to make sure the Legion doesn’t succeed with something their bound to try and do.” Anne stated, walking towards the large concrete wall of the old world.

There was a stage being set up in a large flat area, a man setting up a microphone and speakers while others brought up the metal frame that had NCR flags along it. There were very heavily armed guards around, some wearing a full suit of large and bulky metal power armor that Twilight saw the Brotherhood of Steel wear although this seemed to be as if the frame wasn’t there and they were just wearing the plates. And the large number of rangers around wearing their armor also told that things might go done in a bad way.

“I bet you twenty caps all the guards here will be all but useless…”

“I guess I’ll take up there.” Anne said pointing to a large rock tower that was built on the dam that overlooked the stage. “You stay close to the stage and be ready in case anyone tries to rush him from the crowd.”

Twilight nodded, looking at the sizeable crowd that was gathering in front of the stage, and every one of them was wearing the normal NCR trooper armor.

Anne pulled off the .50 rifle off her back and walked her way over to the tower while Twilight stayed on the edge of the crowd to see as much as she could of anyone who might try something.

The sound of loud thumping soon filled the air and Twilight got worried, pulling out Lucky and got ready for what might be an attack. Soon something could be seen flying towards the dam, two large propellers shooting it through the sky, holding up the large body as it flew over the dam and from how the troopers started cheering and the markings of the NCR along the sides she guessed that’s the President’s transport, the first time she had seen anything like that flying carriage.

It landed on top of the old visitor center for the dam and the blades slowly came to a stop. Music started blaring from the speakers around the stage area, a door soon opening on the visitor center. A middle aged man wearing a clean and crisp black suit. Three heavily armored and armed ranger could be seen trailing him as he walked his way out of the building. He had a hand up and waved at the troops as he walked past them towards the stage. Kimball was here.

Once on stage he started his speech, talking about how he was proud of everyone fighting and that he was here to give a medal to someone who got wounded in a firefight and how everyone should be like him.

It sounded like propaganda just so people there didn’t feel as if holding the dam was a useless idea, but everyone there seemed to be eating it up, cheering in the pauses and clapping whenever he made a statement.

She looked up towards the tower that Anne had climbed up and saw her sat on the edge, looking through the scope of her rifle at the area around. Looking back to the crowd she saw someone that was a bit out of place, an engineer which there were a few of, white jumpsuit with the NCR flag on the back and all, but it looked dirtier and torn up. He also had something in his hand and the princess didn’t like the look of it.

She knew it wasn’t any good when he pulled something out of the object before bringing his arm back to throw it.

“Grenade!” One of the troopers yelled when he noticed, people jumping out of the way.

Twilight didn’t hesitate, a bubble quickly forming around the attacker just as he threw the grenade and it just bounced off the dome and came right back at him. He barely got to look surprised when the dome suddenly was blocked out with smoke and fire, nothing left once it cleared and the shield was dropped.

Looking up at Anne she caught just as she threw what looked like a ranger from the top of the building, going all the way off the dam and slamming against the sloped surface and the broken and bloody body splattered down on the concrete at the base of the dam where the outtake pipes came out.

“Get the President out of here!” One of the rangers next to Kimball yelled out, grabbing him by the arm and quickly rushing him towards where they came back and to the flying carriage.

“For the Legion!” Another trooper yelled, quickly rushing at them with a combat knife going for a stab at the chest of the suited man.

One of the troopers, wearing armor a bit like Anne’s but less armored and with NCR markings quickly grabbed the man’s arm and twisted it around further than it looked like it should go and cracked the knife from his grip before jamming his fist right into the throat of the attacker, the man collapsing to the floor as he clutched at his collapsed windpipe.

With the constant rushing of the crowd not much could be seen but Kimball and his guards and climb into the flying machine, hatches shutting up as the blades quickly spun up and took it from the ground. It didn’t linger, quickly trying to get away but Twilight spotted someone taking aim with a rocket launcher just as he was pulling the trigger his head stopped existing as a shot from Anne’s .50 BMG exploded it. The rocket went wide, flying through the air before it exploded in the air with a boom.

If there were any other attempting assassins, they didn’t make themselves known as everyone quickly fled away from the area besides the guards that had to stay, a few bodies on the ground and staining the concrete in blood.

Twilight sat herself down on a barricade that was set up to hold the crowd back for the speech, bottle of water in her grip as she sipped at the purified liquid. Anne arrived after a few moments, her pulling out an empty shell from the shotgun attached to her arm and slipping in a new one and shutting the weapon again.

“I think you own me twenty caps.” Twilight said.

“Why would I owe you any money?” Anne asked in confusion.

“Well you said the guards would be useless, but one stopped a knifeman.” She stated smugly, holding out a hoof to her friend.

Grumbling Anne brought out a mall sack and dropped it into her friend’s hoof.

“That was a forty cap shot I used to take out that dude.” Anne stated. “I guess I’m sixty poorer after this… thanks Okimbal!”

Anne pulled the lighter from her chest pocket, her helmet under arm as she lit the cigar she got from one of bodies of the assassins, taking an inhale of the thicker stick before blowing out the smoke. “To think, that soon there will be a massive battle that will settle who owns Hoover Dam.” Anne said before taking another puff.

“I’m just glad I’m on the side with the giant killer robots.” Twilight noted.

“The NCR already has the corruption of the old world in its veins and if the legion takes over then what? It would wither and die.” Anne noted. “The best thing for people is to give them the freedom of living without being oppressed by the Legion or kept in line by the NCR.”

“The NCR are seeming to be the only real government that is trying to put things back together after so long…”

“The problem is they just can’t have enough. They have spread themselves out too far to be strong anywhere.” She said. “Once we power up this substation we should have even more Securitrons in our army than already there…”

“President Kimball survived his visit to Hoover Dam! Nice one! Now, moving on...” The happy face of Yes Man said on his screen at the top of the Lucky 38. “Exciting news! The Legion's massing troops in a staging area east of the dam! Attack imminent! Monster of the East, ready to roll!”

“How is that exciting news?!” Anne yelled in surprise at what the robot said. “The Legion is going to attack?! Are the Securitrons ready? Can you call allies we’ve made, just get everyone ready!” She yelled in panic, quickly looking at Twilight. “Get everyone ready, we’re facing an entire civilization here and we’re the underdogs!”

“Calm down Anne, nothing will go well if we lose our heads here.” Twilight said. “My sister-in-law taunt me this, just take deep breathes, calm yourself down…” She said, showing what she meant.

“I think a bottle of whiskey would be better for me…”

Chapter 73

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“I’ve called in every favor and spent most of my caps paying off the rest.” Anne said tiredly as she met back up with her friend.

“I got the Boomers to agree to help.” She stated. “Hopefully they will shell The Legion Fort to weaken them up while we go along the dam for the frontal attack…”

“I just hope after taking out the ringleader of the Junkies in the ruins they won’t attack while most of the forces are gone… And rioting in Freeside…” Anne stated as she strapped the armored vest from her armor onto her chest, wrapping her arms up in thick bandages to add a bit more padding to her arms before putting on the sleeveless duster that Ulises had given her, the old world flag stamped on the back.

Twilight had put the plates from old combat armor into her barding, after not doing it for a long while and made it bulkier and heavier but it should also be better protection in general. The others were also getting ready, Boone cleaning out his rifle with his old trooper armor donned. The ghoul was loading up ring loaders for easy reloading in the battle coming. Anne’s drinking buddy was strapping a comical number of shotgun shell bandoliers along her chest for the double barreled shotgun she had. Arcade Gannon had gone off to get some more help from ‘his old family’. And finally Ed-e was playing a little tune from his speakers as he bobbed along around the room for no real reason.

“This is really it right? This will be the deciding battle for that damn awful dam.” Raoul said, shoving the revolver into his holster.

“It seems like it.” Boone stated, shoving the magazine of his rifle into the weapon.

“We’ll advance with the NCR and when everything is said and done I don’t want to fight them over the corpse of the Legion. We convince them to leave the dam for Vegas but if they attack first don’t hold back.”

“The NCR troopers aren’t doing it out of spite if they attack, they’re just following orders.” Boone stated.

The large group walked down the cracked and shattered road to Hoover Dam, hearing the pops of gunfire up ahead, the battle had started. There were the group of friends that came from the Lucky 38 but there were also a number of mercenaries that had been fired and a dozen fully upgraded Securitrons.

The massive army underneath the fort that they upgraded would need to get powered up from the dam and once that was done hundreds if not thousands of killer robots would wake up. Right now they would have to cope with what they had for now before they got their army.

Soon they were stood on a hill that looked over the dam, smoke billowing from a number of places and flashes of gunfire constantly coming out. Bodies could be seen all over the concrete walkways that went all along the dam. The cannons that the NCR had were nothing but scrap metal now, the scorching on the ground showing an explosion went off, but must have gotten a few shots off from the black smoke clouds rising from the Legion Fort.

“Alright everyone!” Anne yelled turning around, facing the group. “All those paid to be here, I expect you to actually do your job, so stay on top of the dam and hold back the Legion while everyone else has their job!” She stated, the mercenaries, nodding before running down to the fighting.

“Robots, I want you to go down and fight with the NCR, make sure they know that they don’t want to pick a fight with us once the Legion is gone.” She stated, the bots just wheeling themselves away.

“Now, as for everyone else just go where you feel you’re needed, and if we all make it out of this the drinks are on me…”

The princess found herself huddled behind a concrete barricade, hearing the bullets tearing chunks from the rock she was hiding as countless Legion and friendly forces exchanged fire with each other.

“How are we meant to move forward like this?!” Twilight yelled over the gunfire, looking over at Anne who was pulling the pin from a grenade and throwing it over her cover at the Legion.

“Just conserve your ammo, wait for the Securitrons to do their job.” Anne yelled over, loading another ring of bullets into her sister’s gun, which she had named Forgiveness.

Just as she said that three of the robots wheeled themselves up, bullets sparking off their armor and cracking against their screens as their arms got pulled into the main part of their bodies and their large shoulders opened up to reveal a dozen rockets in each one.

While they were getting ready Anne pulled out a cigarette and dipped the tip into the fire next to her and lit it up before bringing it to her mouth. Twilight watched as close to seventy unguided projectiles launched out with a roar of the engines and scattered along the line of the Legion, yells of pain and surprise heard as explosions sent shockwaves through the air along with rubble and limbs.

She was lucky she wasn’t a foot to the left where a broken machete from the Legion came flying through the air from the explosion and dug itself to the hilt right where her neck would have been. Peaking over her cover she saw the area was cleared of the Legion although gunfire didn’t stop as the ones located further back went to fill in the place that their dead brothers once held.

Twilight wasn’t going to let that happen, charging her horn for a few seconds until it was glowing brightly before sending a massive wall of air right at the Legion troops, and sending them falling backwards and to the ground for just long enough for everyone to move forward but there wasn’t a lot of cover after the explosive clearing so a few people hid behind some bodies to protect themselves, Anne even held up the upper half of a Legionnaire by his harness to use as a shield as she move forward and took out three of the Legion while they were still on the ground.

Twilight just popped herself into existence further ahead, taking care of a Legionnaire stumbling to his feet with a quick blast of magic right into his throat.

The battle kept going for hours, bodies piling up on both sides and blood pooled down from the dead and out the holes that would be used to drain rain but now just left bloody streaks don along the massive surface of the dam and to the river below.

It looked like it was going to be a stalemate once the ro