Fallout Equestria: Sins of Retribution

by Solowing51

First published

What is a stallion to do when everything he knows loves and ever knew is destroyed in a matter of minutes? When all that was ever familiar is replaced with a terrifying unknown world of death and destruction? Adapt fast, survive and seek revenge.

I was just a simple stallion. Living life day to day with family and loved ones. We lived a generally safe life given the situation of the world around us. That was before the entire world came tumbling down on top of us however. What started as just another simple day of living a seemingly normal life quickly turned into a literal hell on Equestria. Amidst the blazing inferno and smoking ruins of my old life however, rose a being that all would someday know to fear. Amongst the burnt remains rose the spirit of vengeance.

Special thanks to my bro Chillin Chaos! Really was the one that convinced me to actually even work on this!

Prologue: The Nightmare

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War, war is a virus. It spreads its disease through many hosts, infects them, controls them, and destroys them. Almost 200 years ago, war had been but a foreign word to the inhabitants of Equestria. Even though the ponies had experienced conflict in the past these were merely symptoms of the plague that would later come to decimate and transfigure the entire world as they knew it. After all, war is a virus. A virus that reminds dormant in every being that is capable of the most simplistic forms of thought. For Equestria, the virus became active, and spread like no other. Spears became bows, bows became guns, guns became missiles, and missiles became a horror that no living creature should have ever witnessed the creation of…Yet even in these dark times, like any virus, a vaccine would be created to combat it.

Peace was the antidote, healing measures, new forms of medicine and negotiations. Soon enough, the capacity of healing was equipped into a device known as a megaspell, which would heal both friend and foe alike in hopes that maybe if they saved more lives, war could be eradicated. Yet the hand that cured, soon corrupted by the virus, changed into a hand that killed. It was called a Balefire Bomb: an explosive capable of destruction on an unprecedented scale. War had evolved into its deadliest form as it consumed all in its path, for war was a virus. War didn’t care whether it destroyed an Earth Pony, Unicorn or a Pegasus. Zebra or Griffin, good or evil, innocent or condemned, war would destroy them all. Its thirst for chaos and destruction never to be slaked. With their once utopian land now a blood spattered doppelganger of the deepest reaches of hell, ponies looked for a way to stave off impending extinction. Stable Tech was the newest answer for hope.

They created Stables: large underground societies for ponies to live in, to protect them from the virus that raged outside. Eventually war had burnt out its food source, and it went into dormancy inside those that were unfortunate enough to be trapped outside. The land was destroyed, where grass once grew, dirt and ash took its place, trees were bare and dead. After some time, ponies began to venture from some of their metal homes in hope that the world could be restored. In some parts of Equestria, law and order returned as societies adjusted to the new way of life. Raiders and slavers as well as other anarchists however, continued to threaten and plunge the world into chaos. The Grand Pegasus Enclave, whom had shut themselves away from the world above the grey cloud cover, descended from above like vengeful angels of death, bringing with them the virus of war once more.

Death: ponies screaming for help, explosions all around me. Everypony that I had ever known was dying right before my very eyes.
I was helpless, all I could do was sit there and watch as everypony died in front of me; writhing in terrible agony. Eventually it was my turn to face judgment at the hoofs of the eternal enemy that always entered my mind.

Yet as the killing blow was finally delivered…I woke up. I was in my small cot inside my home back with my mother. I was in a cold sweat, trembling horrifically.These nightmares had become more and more common but never before were they so…lifelike. It just didn’t make any sense why I kept having them. It didn’t matter though, dreams are just dreams nothing more. They were in my mind and would stay in my mind plain and simple.

I wiped the sweat from my brow and got out of bed to hear my mother downstairs, working on another patient.

“This is the fourth time this month Scarlet, you have to be more careful around those bloatsprites.” Dr. Cloverfield gave a soft sigh as she searched through her cabinet drawer for a pair of tweezers.

“Ah come on Doc, you know me I have to keep my accuracy up somehow.” The cream colored mare smirked back. She wore the usual security barding, which wasn’t much of an upgrade from most normal New Hope clothing. My mother turned at the sound of my hoof steps and gave a soft smile

“Shamrock, can you be a dear and get me the rubbing alcohol for your friend?” I nodded, looking to my mother’s operating room and fished through her supply cabinet to find the bottle of alcohol before levitating it over to her side.

“Thanks sweetie”She raised her tweezers over the small barb that lay wedged in Scarlet’s shoulder.

“Alright now this might sting just a little bit, so just remain still as best you can.” Scarlet did her best to avoid showing the pain as she clenched her teeth, her eyes jammed shut as the barb was slowly pulled free from her shoulder, a small trickle of blood flowing out of the wound as Dr. Cloverfield began to clean it with the alcohol and placing a magical bandage on it. My mother turned around to look at me now putting away her supplies.

“Shamrock I need you to go down to the Mayor’s office and speak with her, I told her that you would be willing to help her out with a few things.” Of course…most ponies in Hope had one specific duty to the town: working out in the greenhouse yards, standing guard as the town militia or in my case, the personal courier of the mayor.
Though I have to admit it is a bit better a job than most.

“Sure thing” I gave a cheerful nod before trotting outside our house and made my way down to the Mayor’s office. Hope was a pretty well-built town. Many of the founding ponies of Hope had belonged to an old stable long ago, so most ponies here still wear standard stable clothing and pipbuck. Built on one of the few spots in Equestria that wasn’t entirely ravaged by the war, we had a constant supply of purified water thanks to the caravan ponies that collected water from the purification plants not too far away. A large wall was also built up over the years to protect us from the outside. Though the town still did have its downsides…

“Well if it isn’t the mayors little lapdog: Shamrock!” A voice called out from behind me. Speaking of downsides, our ever so vigilant militant ponies were just said issue. I guess when the only threat to the town is an occasional ghoul pony or bloat sprite stumbling its way towards the wall, they had to entertain themselves in some sort of fashion.

To my misfortune however, they tended to entertain themselves through alcohol, shooting empty Wild Pegasus bottles or picking on me…today it seemed like all of the above.

“You know drinking alcohol on the job is against town rules right Roulette?” I cocked a brow at him as he drank from the bottle.

The navy blue unicorn snickered holding a half full bottle of wild Pegasus in the air above him and took another quick sip. “Eh c’mon now Sham, it’s just a little drink to keep the edge off. Look around, not a single raider camp is located for miles. Not like they would make a special trip to try and attack us.” Roulette pointed to the wall of various metal plates, carriages and who knows what else that was all welded together to form a two story high wall around the perimeter of the town.

“Even if they did nut up and try anything it’s not like they would even be able to get through the wall, in one piece that is.” Roulette gave me a good whiff of the alcohol on his breath as he laughed.

“Unless the garrison is too intoxicated to even hold a gun…maybe I should tell the mayor what you’re up to” Call me a tattle but to be honest, I would love to see him get busted after all of the torment he put me through on a daily basis.

“And I should probably knock your lights out snitch” Roulette growled and raised a hoof before lunging forward. He probably would have knocked me flat out had Scarlet not pulled me back by the nape of my barding.

“Hey now Roulette, the kid was just joking. Isn't that right Shamrock?” She frowned down at me before hoofing my side and returning her smile back to Roulette.

“Yeah…just joking” I glowered before being dragged away from the brute by Scarlet.

“Don’t you have to go to the greenhouse?” Scarlet scolded me with an irritated glare.

“Don’t you have to go sober up your drunken boyfriend?”

Scarlet’s face turned, well scarlet, at the reminder of her crush on the Lead Militant, Roulette. My mother always told me that she is surprised my special talent wasn’t getting under ponies skin; and trust me when I say I have perfected that talent to its truest form.

“I-he’s-not-just go find Spring Breeze!” She stammered before quickly trotting to join the other militants. As you can probably guess, the militant ponies are the ones in charge of security and rule enforcement…as you can also see; since they enforce the law they believe themselves to be above the law.

Roulette however proved to be the biggest airhead of the lot. Yet for being the text book definition of douche, Scarlet and just about every other mare in Hope goes head over hoof for the stallion.

“Oh hello Shamrock, you’re mother told me you’d be stopping by to help me out” A soft hearted voice called quietly from within the room.The yellow mare known as Spring Breeze trotted forward from her position in the room and smiled. Of all the places in Hope, the greenhouses are definitely my favorite place to stay work at.

Unlike the rest of the wastelands, the greenhouses were capable of making fresh produce in just a few months. However in order to keep it running we required large amounts of water to keep the plants alive. Where we exactly got the water from however was never clarified.

Every so often a group of militant ponies would leave the town walls with a large chariot, then after about four or six days they would come back with the chariot filled with fresh water tankers.

“You ever feel like there was something…more out here?” Spring finally spoke, she was a to herself type of Earth pony. It was rare to find her anywhere outside of the Greenhouse.

Then again, everypony is assigned a work station for life, the only reason I wasn’t assigned was because my mother was the only doctor in town. Apparently I was supposed to follow in her hoof steps when I was old enough.

“The founders of Hope left their stable in order to build this town right? So why did we leave one walled in prison just to build a new walled off society?” She did raise a point, practically all of our equipment, barding and technology came straight from Stable 41.

Ever since the founding Mayor passed away we’ve been confined to the city limits with strict rules to never leave the city walls.The militant ponies were the only ponies that were ever allowed to leave the city limits, and of course my mother on rare occasions… whenever I asked her about where she went she always told me to go check on one of her patients or say she wasn’t feeling well.

Our moment of silence was soon interrupted by the screech of shattering glass as a figure slumped down midst the vegetation it landed in.

“What is that?!?” I stammered stumbling back.Occasionally bloat sprites would manage to find a way inside of the Greenhouse and usually I was the one that was supposed to get them out. This however did not look like a bloat sprite.

“It looks like a pegusas…but I thought they were all up in the clouds still?” Spring Breeze took a step closer. Ever since the war 200 years ago, the Pegasai had secluded themselves off from the rest of the wasteland by closing off the skies and living above the clouds. They formed the Grand Pegasus Enclave and had only just recently begin to make themselves known in Equestria.

He wore strange black armor with compact bug-like eyes, and two strange looking guns on his sides. The enclave pony began to shift slowly with a groan. As Spring Breeze moved to help the Pegasus.

“Breeze we don’t know who he is! He could be trying to kill us!” I shouted as the Pegasus had snapped to attention and trotted down from his landing spot, wincing as he got down. Even with all of his barding the crash took its toll on him. His left compact bug eye was shattered, and the side of his helmet had caved in, one of the guns on his battle saddle was completely trashed from the landing.

“If I wanted to kill you, I wouldn’t have escaped from the rest of my detachment to find you…” He murmured in a thick Yiddish accent before taking off his helmet, his coat was a light grey with a silver slicked back mane.

“So why did you come here?” I asked keeping my distance for the time being as Breeze helped him up.

“It is not important, you have to leave now…get as far away from here as you can.” He warned as Breeze grabbed for the first aid off of the wall.

“I don’t understand…why do we have to leave?” She muffled as she applied a bandage to his wounds,

“They are coming from the sky…there isn’t much time to explain” He groaned still dazed from the hard landing as breeze went to help him to his hoofs.

“We need to get him to Cloverfield” Springe Breeze advised as I reluctantly moved to help our less than welcomed friend out of the greenhouse as Scarlet came rushing inside the room

“What the hell was that Shamrock?!?” Scarlet slung her rifle out from behind her back and aimed it at the Pegasus. “And who the hell is that?!?”

Breeze stood in front of her line of sight. “He crashed down here just a few minutes ago and is severely wounded. We need to get him to Dr. Cloverfield!”

She began tugging him out of the greenhouse. Neither of us were sure if we should explain his warning to the others yet, for now we were focused on getting him back to Cloverfield.
Of course much to our chagrin…the rest of the town didn’t need to be warned of the danger. It made itself very noticeable.

There was a sudden flash as time seemed to just stop all around us before the roar of thunder filled my ears.
The ear splitting explosion was replaced with a numb nothingness and high pitched blaring. It took me a while to realize what was happening, a grenade or some sort of explosion had knocked him and the others onto the ground. Time still remained in slow motion as I stared up in horror at the sky, its normally grey clouds replaced with black dots that quickly became more and more Pegasai that descended from above.

The screams of ponies and explosions were muffled from the blaring ring in my ears as I was picked back up onto my hoofs.

“Come on get the lead out of your ass and let’s move!”
Scarlet shouted, already pulling me along as I stopped and began to look around at the carnage.

“Where is Spring?”
I called out as Scarlet turned to look at me grimly, her face was covered in burns and shrapnel cuts from the explosion. Her barding much like my own had been shredded and tattered.

“Spring Breeze is dead….” She pointed to the burning crater in which Spring Breeze and the wounded pegusas had been standing before everything went to hell.

I froze in place even as I was being pulled away from the site. All I could do was stare at the crater. Spring Breeze was dead. Gone from this world forever. Just a few minutes ago she was alive and breathing, her warm smile that always greeted everypony she saw…now she was dead in literally a second.

“Come on Shamrock there was nothing we could do about it! We have to find your mother!” That quickly became my next level of concern, my own mother. Everything around us looked like one bad nightmare. Ponies screaming for help that would never come to them, almost every building was now either burning or reduced to piles of rubble.

“Where are all the other militant ponies?” I looked around, the last militant pony I had seen aside from scarlet was erased from all existence in a flash of green energy. I could remember the expression on the ponies face...fear and horror as he melted away to nothing but a pile of burnt flesh and ash. I had been the last pony to ever see him alive ever again.

“Shamrock! In here!” My mother shouted through the chaos, her doctor’s office somehow remotely untouched from the death and destruction around us. Though a few windows had been blown out much of the house was still intact.

I wasn’t sure what to make of finally seeing that my mother was okay, I was a nauseous combination of adrenaline, fear and relief as she gave me a quick hug and pushing me into her equipment locker as the door swung open. A Pegasai soldier rushed in and seize my mother as Scarlet drew her automatic rifle.

There came an eerie silence that fell within the building as they the ponies remained at a standoff. What was she waiting for?!? She had practically a clear shot.

Her gun was trembling in the air in front of her as the Pegasus decided to make the first move and began to drag my kicking and screaming mother outside.

She looked to the locker I was stuck inside and gave a soft smile as her horn glowed green, a pin flew from her coat.

“You were made for greater things honey….I love y-“
Her sentence was cut short as the entire room erupted into flames. I had seen my death in my dreams…all of this now coming together.

The nightmare that I would never forget would soon become the world I would live in.

Chapter 1: The Reality

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Chapter 1: The Reality

My eyes quickly shot open as I looked around. For a few moments I thought I had just had another nightmare. I was thoroughly proven wrong as I realized I was still inside the locker my mother had stuffed me inside.

The locker had been blown completely onto its side but appeared for the most part to be intact as I slammed my hoof against the door. No luck, I gave a powerful kick with my front two hoofs and was greeted with a searing pain like I had just been injected with a dirty bloat sprites barb.
I clenched my teeth and cursed to the high heavens as I looked down at the door. There were a few tiny holes in it, most of which were right where my leg had been, now even the slightest bit of movement I could feel shrapnel slicing up the inside of my leg.

“Shamrock? Are you still there?" My ears perked up as a wave of relief swept through my body as Scarlet’s red eyes peered through the slots of the locker already trying to pry it open before she suddenly looked up and darted out of sight suddenly

“Scarlet?!? Where are you going?” I called out before immediately shutting up at the sound of voices.

“I think I heard something!”

A deep voice too far from my metal coffin spoke up. So I wasn’t going to die alone and afraid trapped inside a metal locker. That’s a good thing right? My ears cringed from the sound of rending metal as a claw speared the door, just a centimeter from my muzzle and ripped it free of its hinges, dumping me out against the unforgiving ground.

“Well look at that, we almost missed one.” A second voice ringed, sounding like it had come from the pony that had yanked me out of the locker. I slowly glanced up to see a bleach white mare with a dark black scraggly mess of a mane and a cutie mark that was some kind of an equation.

Her right front hoof had been replaced with a metallic one, talons tipping the front of it as she glared down at me with a sadistic grin. Correction to my previous statement, I wasn’t going to die alone and afraid trapped inside a metal locker…I was going to die alone and afraid at the hands of scissor hoofs here.

“Well? You going to just sit there on your ass all day or are you going to stand up?” The mare demanded, I instantly shot to my hoofs cringing as I forgot about my bad leg before I looked around us. My home, or what was left of it was a splintered ruin. Through the gaping hole that was once the door I could see bodies everywhere…more ponies whom I quickly could tell were not exactly town’s folk began to sift through the bodies strewn across the ground pulling out any valuables they could find.

“You’re looters?” My question was somehow humorous to the mare as she gave a smirk and laughed heartily before patting my head.

“Looters is a nasty word. I prefer to use the term, collectors.” She corrected though pulling out a small trinket in her talons. It was a pendent that my mother had gotten me when I first earned my cutie mark. I never really wore it much and whenever I did it was tucked away in my barding. My mother. I couldn’t help but relive that moment over and over again, her eyes staring straight at me as she was swallowed in flames. Never to be seen or heard of again. Seeing it in her grimy claws made my blood boil.

“Name’s Eureka, but you can just call me your new owner.” She grinned before there was a sudden click of a guns safety being switch off.

“Or…you’re going to let us go and leave” Scarlet demanded with a sudden tone of authority I hadn’t heard before as she aimed her automatic rifle at the white mare.Eureka grinned and began to snicker, staring down the barrel of Scarlet’s gun like it was just a toy.

“You're going to shoot me if I don’t?” Eureka sneered, Scarlet’s gun trembled again in her grip, her glare waning as the mare suddenly lunged forward, knocking the gun out of the air and letting it skitter across the ground. Within a matter of seconds, Eureka had tackled Scarlet to the ground, her talons around her neck.

“Thought so…no wonder none of you ponies are still alive. In fact I should just kill you right now” Eureka cackled as the talons began to clamp down on Scarlet’s throat before simply letting go and beginning to trot to the hole that was once our door.

“But, I'm feeling nice today. I don't normally save expendable ponies, so please don't make it a habit." She turned and glanced to the two of us smirking as if to further point out that we were those expendable ponies. The long walk through the wastelands back to Eureka’s camp finally gave me enough time to process what had happened in the past few hours…Hours, it had literally been only about five hours since I was just sitting safe and sound in my bed. Now I was trotting to who knows where. Only a few hours ago everypony I ever knew in my life was still alive. Only a few hours ago my home was still in one piece. Only a few hours ago my own mother was standing in front of me, living breathing. Yet it only took just a few minutes for everything in my entire life, for everything I saw and knew for the past seventeen years to be destroyed.

Her face was all I could see, those final few seconds I had with her. Her final words to me. They weren’t just words of encouragement, they meant something but what? I was made for something better? My mother always told me that one day I would do great things but so did just about every other mother in the world.

Nothing was making sense, what was I made for? A better question being why were we attacked by the Enclave? How did they even know where we were? Did that soldier that crashed into the greenhouse lead them to us? We weren’t exactly located in the center of any big landmarks or hotspots for ponies. They went out of their way to attack Hope that was for certain.

Another thing was for certain however…they had made an enemy out of me. One way or another, I was going to make sure they pay for every last pony they killed. Someday, somehow they would pay.

I looked over at Scarlet, she had been staring at the dirt the entire time we walked. Whenever it looked as though she was about to speak all she would do is stare and then glance back down. Her assault rifle was slung on her back, still untouched. She choked when she had the chance to kill the Pegasus that was taking my mother away, as well as when she had Eureka held up at gunpoint. Until today, I don’t think either of us had ever seen ponies kill one another. It made me wonder, when the moment rose again. Would she be able to pull the trigger? Would I be able to pull the trigger? We were going to find out soon enough.

We finally reached what looked like an old rest stop on the side of the cracked and decayed rode. Eureka stopped and turned to her goons.

“It’s getting close to sundown, no use stumbling in the dark waiting to get picked off.” I arched a brow at what Eureka had meant by sundown, all I ever saw was a dark grey cloud cover. Regardless, Eureka and her crew quickly headed for the abandoned pit-stop on the side of the road. It didn’t look much like a good place for us to stop, but then again all Scarlet and I were used to the buildings of Hope. Dammit, just thinking about it shoved my heart down into my stomach.

Eureka and her collector friends however didn’t seem to have any trouble getting right at home with the dingy mold scented room and crusty mattresses. Eureka sat down quietly as one of her goons began to light a small fire. Really? A fire in the center of a building?

Then again, I forgot that these buildings hadn’t exactly been paying any electric bills for almost two hundred years. Seems other ponies that had stopped here had the same idea. At the center of the small station was a rather well made fire pit, and a massive hole in the ceiling to let the smoke out.

Eureka and her goons began to talk amongst one another while Scarlet and I sat silently next to one another. I wasn’t sure whether to be grateful or pissed off at these ponies right now.

They hadn’t killed us and well, odds are if they hadn’t of come we probably would have died on our own trying to find a place to go. On the other hoof, they didn’t seem to mind talking about their recent day of looting from the bodies of all my friends and neighbors back in Hope.

“Well? You two going to introduce yourselves or just sit in the corner and mope around all day.” The largest of the looters looked down at us, he was a bright red pony with a black flat top for a mane, scraggly beard and a cutie mark that look like a bunch of random pellets shooting outward.

“Buckshot…can’t you see they have been through a lot today? They just lost everything.” The smaller mare hit Buckshot in the gut with a hoof. Compared to the other ponies she was definitely a looker, magenta coat and a long yellow mane with a rectangular gem on her flank. Again thankful or pissed?

“I’m uh…Shamrock and that’s Scarlet Blaze” I stammered like an idiot at the dolled up mare as she giggled at my very obvious awkwardness. So maybe I wasn't good with talking to cute mares, bite me. Even Scarlet smiled a bit which made me feel a little better to know she wasn’t totally in a funk.

“Well I’m Juniper, Big tall and red here is Buckshot and well you already met Eureka.” That left the last pony in the corner, he sat separated from the others, a dirt brown pony with a cowl and cream colored mane.

“The stick in the mud over there is Sandstorm, not much of a talker or a listener.” Eureka finally chimed in. They seemed friendly enough well minus Sandstorm. I kept staring at the pendent Eureka had taken around her neck and I must have been trying to give it a death glare because she promptly took notice. Or more so took pity as she took it off with a sigh.

“Look, Juniper is right you’ve been through a lot so you know for all your troubles you can keep the necklace.” Eureka murmured a bit before taking it off and tossing it to me. Well, now I wasn’t pissed off at them but it still was going to take a little while to be thankful for them.

“What the hell even happened? I’ve never seen an entire town just get so…” Juniper began to speak, then quickly realizing being reminded of it wasn’t exactly helping us right now.

“Fucked up?” Buckshot chimed in as he looked at his shotgun. I could guess from his size and manner, subtlety Juniper gave him another thwap to the gut that he didn’t seem to even notice or care.

“The Enclave…they just came out of nowhere and well.” Scarlet murmured quietly, her eyes staring into the fire, the embers as red as her hair. Even her cutie mark which strangely enough was a fire, seemed to be moving along with the embers.

“Ah, bunch of pompous asshole Pegasai if you ask me.” Eureka finally joined everyone else around the camp fire. Almost everyone at least. What was this Sandstorm pony’s story?

“I thought the Enclave was still up behind the clouds. Why would they just randomly attack a harmless town?” I asked, remembering that one Pegusas that had crashed. I didn’t even know his name before they were…

“Eh, they have been popping up more and more now. Though whenever they attack it’s typically for some kind of reason.” Buckshot slid a slug into his shotgun. So what was the Enclaves reason for attacking us? They killed everyone, everyone except my mother.

“They tried to take my mother alive. Everyone else they just killed off.” The more I thought about it. The more I began to question my mother, where she really went whenever she had to leave for “Business”. No other pony in the town was allowed to leave, hell not even an escort for her she would just leave and come back a month later. Every time she would tell me she loved me. Like it would be the last time she would see me. Like when it was the last time she saw me.

“They were looking for something.” Sandstorm finally spoke up from his corner of the room.

“Oh Sandstorm, when did you show up?” Sandstorm gave a harsh glare to Buckshot and continued with what he had to say.

“Whatever they were looking for, either your mother knew about it or she was in fact what they were searching for. Who was your mother?” He spoke with a calm calculating tone, his eyes examining every feature and detail around him, like as if he was choosing his words carefully before he spoke them and it was enough to send chills down my spine.

“Dr. Cloverfield? Why?” I didn’t understand how that would really help us out but Sandstorm nodded quietly and returned to the shadows again. He was like a gloomier version of Spring Breeze. Silent as the night but always listening.

“Cloverfield was your mother?” My ears perked up as I looked over at Eureka confused that someone outside of Hope knew her.

“She would travel around from time to time and help patch up ponies. Like me when I lost my hoof to Big Daddy.” Well glad to see my mom had been keeping secrets behind my back and I feel as though this was just the beginning of the secrets.

“Big Daddy?” Scarlet asked curiously as all the ponies around us turned to look at her like she just asked the most obvious question in Equestria.

“Listen here missy, there are three types of ponies you don’t want to deal with. Raiders: typical thugs and brutes, pretty easy to fend off but still you really would rather not have to be in a shootout every day.” Buckshot snickered as Juniper followed up. “Then you have Steel Rangers: generally they won’t shoot you on sight unless you had something that they wanted. More often than not they are just looking for all technology from centuries ago, get yourself target by one of them though. You can expect a lot of explosions”

Then came Eureka’s turn to share some helpful information.
“And finally you have the Reapers, basically imagine a raider only about fifteen times bigger, crazier, meaner, faster and stronger. The more notable Reapers being Deus and Big Daddy. These ponies if you can call them that, will leave nothing but a pile of rubble and bodies. It was a miracle I managed to escape.”

Well isn’t that a fun thought giant psycho ponies running around the wasteland killing everything for the fun of it.

“You forgot about the Demon.” Sandstorm said quietly, stepping towards the fire. He had piercing royal blue eyes that seemed to strangely mix with the fire.

“He is a zebra called Atlas. He is like no other zebra I have ever seen. He makes reapers look like foals in comparison to him and more than capable of crushing bone without even trying. His hide is so thick it can even shrug off some small arms fire. Atlas led his forces through the east in a literally unstoppable campaign, Enclave, Raiders not even the Steel Rangers stood long against him. Very few ponies that have faced him lived to tell of him.” Sandstorm finished up as Buckshot simply gave a hearty laugh at Sandstorm's story.

“And I suppose you are one of those very few ponies huh? I have heard a lot of bull, but a bulletproof zebra?” the large red brute guffawed.

Sandstorm sighed before removing his battle saddles and turning his back to the fire. In the dim lighting of the fire I could see various scars going down long lines on his back. “I’ve seen him take rifle rounds to the chest, they never even went through his barding.”

And now that Atlas had made the top of my “Things that I never want to run into in my entire life ever” list, I shifted around and tried to change subjects.

“So Eureka? Where exactly are you taking us?” I genuinely was curious where our friend (and I use that term lightly) was planning on leading us.

“We have a camp set up at Trotton, once there you can probably get situated and well go from there" Eureka started to trot to her moldy mattress as she looked back at us.

“You mean we can’t stay with you guys?” Scarlet asked. Ok in a normal situation I would be worried about staying with a PTSD Pony, a gun happy stallion and a cyborg leg looter. But considering we had nowhere else to go and not the slightest clue what to do, these ponies were the only ones we could semi trust.

"Look, I’m sure you are great ponies and all…but I got my own group to look out for and two more just makes searching for supplies more difficult” She muttered before laying down and rolling so her back was to me.

“Just get some sleep okay Shamrock?” With that, Eureka started drifting off to sleep, as did the rest of her group. I sighed before looking to Scarlet who had already found a mattress as well for herself as I trotted quietly to my own and laid down. I felt my heart get caught in my throat as I resisted every urge to cry. Depression began to flow through me, everyone I loved was dead. Regret soon took its place, I never even told my mother I loved her. Then finally anger staked its claim…they were all dead because of the enclave. Celestia as my witness I would make sure the Enclave paid for this in blood. Eventually my rage settled away inside my mind as I began to finally fall asleep. Yet even in my sleep I couldn’t escape.

“Look around you Reprisal! They’re all gone!”

A bloodied cyborg like pony shouted at me. My body was aching and felt like it was about to fall apart right that very second. Yet for some reason I didn’t seem to care.


my mind told me. No not my mind it was a voice…dark suave voice inside of my head. The rain fell down onto us like fragments of concrete as the lightning illuminated our battlefield. Bodies: Scarlet, Sandstorm, Buckshot, Juniper, Spring Breeze, even my mother’s body was laying in the muddied ground some other bodies I couldn’t quite make out either…a grey pegusas and a blue earth pony.

This monster killed them…and I was going to return the favor. I gave a horrific battle cry that didn’t even sound remotely like that of any ponies. I charged forward quickly, not even thinking; what was there to think about? They were all dead, because of it.


The voice demanded blood and so did I. There was a sickening crack as I slammed my armored side into it, knocking the pony against the mucky ground. I lifted the blood red blade in the air in front of me when lightning struck once more.

I caught a quick glimpse of my reflection on the crimson edge and I took a step back in terror. My eyes were pure black…bloody tears streaming down them, a scar long since scabbed over running across my head up to my horn. Much like the sword, my barding was an ominous blood red, with ornate writing on my sides. Where my four leaf clover cutie mark should have been instead had words. Ultio on my right, Vindicta on the left. I even felt like I was taller than normal. Who was I? She called me Reprisal?

The unknown pony coughed up blood. With each strike of lightning I could slowly make out what the pony was. It was a mare, clad in black and red armor even her wings had been covered. She looked up at me as I brought the blade down. Suddenly her own blade clashed against mine I shower of sparks.

She had magic? And wings? Was she some kind of cyber alicorn? The word Security, was inscribed on her side.


The voice was right, I could care less what the fuck she was. All I knew was that she was going to pay for this I suddenly felt the wind get knocked out of me as a hoof was driven up into my gut the only part that wasn’t covered completely in armor as I stumbled back.

Before I could even recover the alicorn had gotten to her feet smashing her blade against my side. Had my barding not been so durable it would have decapitated me, yet as the blade connected instead of another shower of sparks, blood rained from the gash in my armor. My armor wasn’t painted blood…it was blood. The blow managed to knock me hard against the ground, splashing against the mud as the Alicorn stood over me, her eyes not filled with hate or anger. They were filled with pity, sorrow?

“They tried to warn you…tried to help you. Looked up to you, admired you, loved you and this is how you repay them?” Her voice broke as if she was about to start crying. My eyes turning to my mother’s face. She had a look of terror and something else on her face, disappointment…looking straight at me. The Alicorn hadn’t killed them.


No, it couldn’t have…

“This is for your own good Reprisal, for everypony.”
The Alicorn said quietly as she brought the blade down. The blade clashed down onto my shoulder blade managing to slice deep enough that I felt tissue being severed. I let out another unholy screech before more suddenly flashed red firing a beam into the mare’s chest.

“I swore that anypony that stood against me would stand briefly…and I meant that.” My voice was deep and warped. The Alicorn stepped back clutching her chest where the beam had hit before extending her wings.

“And then what?” Her blade shot out to her side when she took to the clouds, a bolt of lightning illuminating the sky once more as she came spiraling down at me at blinding speeds. Then what?



I shouted before I finally shot up from my mattress panting as I looked around. It was still night time, or at least we could assume it was night. The fire had been snuffed out as rain poured down through the hole in the center.

Buckshot was standing watch for the night in the middle of eating some strange food on a metal stick, his twin shotguns sitting in his battle saddle. Apparently these ponies were either use to a screaming colt or they were just very heavy sleeper, probably both.

“Alright then more radroach for me” Buckshot chuckled as Scarlet rushed over to me.

“It’s alright Shamrock it was just a bad dream.” She brushed my mane gently for a moment and for just a few seconds I felt as though I was back home with my mother taking care of me. That was the final thread that broke inside me as I began to feel tears welling.

“Gee kid take it easy I wasn’t going to eat ALL the radroach.” Buckshot just scratched his head awkwardly before returning to his post while I began to cry like the pathetic filly I was. I kept waking up from nightmare after nightmare scared and confused. So why couldn’t this nightmare just end already?

It hadn’t even been an entire day in the wastelands and I was already breaking down into tears.

You were made for something better, I love you.

How? What could be better? So far all I had seen are nightmares that don’t even make any sense and that the world outside my own was filled with nothing but desolate gloom and psycho ponies that want me dead for no better reason than that they were bored.

“Ah hell, Eureka, Sandstorm wake up we got movement.” Buckshot whispered. They didn’t even seem to flinch when I shouted into the night but the instant Buckshot warned them they immediately sprang up like their tails had burst into flames. The glass door to the station shattered as a small apple shaped device clattered against the ground rolling to the extinguished fire pit.


Ok, crying like a little foal later. Avoid exploding into itty bitty chunks now! Eureka rushed forward as her horn began to glow, picking up the grenade and hurtling it out through the large hole in the ceiling as it showered us in white hot metal shards.

“I told you to cook it longer dammit!” A voice from outside shouted angrily, Eureka growled taking out two revolvers from her saddle bags and levitated one over to me. The instant I levitated the gun my heart began to race.

“Well what the fuck do you want me to do about it?” The gruff buck complained through the rain and thunder.

“Get the napalm and this time fucking roast them!” The two raiders argued amongst one another.

Everyone exchanged various glances around at each other as if having a silent mental discussion on what was going to be their plan of action. Eureka raced towards the door looking back at us as her metal claw gripped the door. Silence, nothing but the pitter patter of rain before another round object went flying through the already shattered glass.

“Now!” Eureka forced the door off its hinges with a combination of her telekinesis and her cybernetic hoof. I could barely see outside in the darkness and rain before the room we were just in erupted in green flame. The door was sent flying into the night crashing into the jaw of one of our attackers as Buckshot stormed outside into the rain.

I flinched as the massive strike of thunder suddenly erupted all around us. Only it wasn’t just thunder I was hearing, it was the gunfire. A raider had charged at buckshot apparently thinking that a sharpened shovel was more effective than twin assault shotguns. The muzzle flash was more than enough to allow me to watch as the raider was blasted into various bloody bits as they plopped against the mud. I was frozen in place as if it was the attack on Goodspring all over again, the now familiar smell of fresh blood rising even in the rain before I heard Scarlet crying out in pain.

My head quickly turned to see her cream coated body get tossed into the mud, a white earth pony with a knife in his mouth standing over her as he stabbed at her. The blade barely missing her skull as she tried to wrestle him off, the knife scraping across her cheek cutting into it deeply. Suddenly rage had replaced my fear and every other emotion.

Kill was the only thing I could think of as I levitated my pistol. Most unicorns were taught early in Goodspring on how to use the targeting spell known as S.A.T.S., I wouldn’t say I was adept in it but I still knew how to at least activate it.

Time began to slow to nearly a halt as the raiders blade was pulled back ready to stab down into her brain. I took careful aim at the target trembling for a second before my rage took control once again. I only had enough time to concentrate on a single shot and that shot had to count.


My ears twitched from the crack of the gun. I felt myself shaking from recoil, adrenaline and from the cold of the rain as the bullet found its new home in the buck’s shoulder blades. He whinnied in surprise and pain before doubling over against the mud.

He was still alive…not good enough, he had to die for trying to hurt my friend. I grabbed the sharpened shovel out of the mud and raced forward over Scarlet and on top of the buck. His once white coat was now painted with brown mud and red blood as he looked up at me.


I couldn’t have said it better myself. I raised the shovel over my head and brought it down into his chest as he screamed bloody murder.


Not just yet, I wanted him to feel every moment of this. He wanted to kill me and my friends and for that he had to suffer. I grunted with effort as I yanked the shovel out of his chest only to bring it back down again.

And again.

And again.

And again

I would have continued stabbing him for hours had I not finally managed to hear shouting through the rain and thunder. Something was trying to pull me away from the buck, I shouted in alarm as I turned and swung the shovel ready to spear another before the lightning revealed that it was Scarlet.

She just stared at me, petrified with fright and alarm. Not from what the raider had done to her. Rather what I had done to the raider. My breathing began to settle. I turned and looked down at the body, already on the verge of vomiting. His chest cavity had been completely severed from the rest of his body, entrails spilled out onto the mud. I couldn’t look away from the eviscerated husk that was once a living, breathing pony like me.

No, not like me. He was a raider, they were psychos right? Like mindless animals? Then came a final crack of thunder as I looked down at the raider, his eyes seemed to be staring at the puddle next to him. As the flash of lightning came I saw for a split second, that horrible figure from my nightmare. His soulless black eyes, blood red tears and scarred face as I reared back and shot at the puddle, splashing water and mud up into my face.

“That seems like the last of them. Hey nice job Shamrock, your first kill.” Eureka laughed trotting over. Nice job? Was she really complimenting me for committing a murder? I just killed somebody and she treated it like it was no big deal.

“Th-thanks Eureka…” I mumbled quietly before levitating her pistol back over to her.

“Nah you can keep Reprisal, you’ll need to defend yourself somehow right?” She snickered before trotting back towards the station with the rest of her gang. They just left the bodies where they were. Just as fast as the attack came, it was over: No burial, moment of silence just left them to rot without a hint of guilt.

“Well, half of our supplies have been reduced to ash thanks to our pyrotechnical friends.” Juniper sighed. Sure enough, the room inside the station was still on fire from the sticky napalm that coated the floor of it.

“Let’s get going, we still have a ways to go if we are to get to Trotton” Sandstorm was already taking point and trotting quietly down the road, the rain still pouring down onto us.

I looked down at the revolver as the rain came crashing down on us, another flash of lightning illuminating the skies long enough for me to read that same name from my nightmare.


Footnote: Level Up.

New Perk: Gunslinger +25% Accuracy in S.A.T.S with Small Weapons

Chapter 2: The Detour

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Chapter 2: Detour

The more I thought about it, the more I didn’t like it. Scarlet’s expression on her face after I had killed that raider. That was how it had to be though right? Raiders don’t show any mercy, so we have to show them the same thing? I looked down at my new revolver slowly turning it over and holding it up to my muzzle.

Back in Hope my mother would teach me how to properly use a gun…kind of a strange thing for a doctor to be teaching her filly but at the time she just pretended like it was a little game. She would have me go around the outskirts of the town and shoot pesky Bloat Sprites that flew around there.
The rain had finally stopped after a few hours of trekking as my stomach churned looking for something in itself to eat.

“Any radroach left?” I grumbled at the thought of radroach. The stuff was crunchy, gooey and tasted like eating copper flavored snot. That was how hungry I was getting, I hadn’t eaten since earlier last night. Sandstorm had come racing back to the rest of the group with a cold grin growing on his face.

“Caravan to the east not too far away, only about four ponies. Two armed with varmint rifles.” Buckshot grew the same exact smirk which soon began to spread to the other ponies around me and Scarlet as we took the sudden detour from the still freshly dried ground.

Soon enough, just as Sandstorm had said, there was a small wagon being pulled by some weird looking cow thing that I later was told is called a Brahmin.

“Hey, stable ponies. You two go down there and uh see if we can get anything off them.” Eureka asked before me and Scarlet looked to one another.

“Why us exactly? Why don’t we all just go?” Scarlet shifted uneasily between their grins.

“You two have those fancy pipbucks, you could spot any hidden dangers with those things couldn’t you?” Eureka did have a point, I wasn’t sure how it worked exactly but I knew that if someone was hostile there would be a small red blip on the E.F.S. and if they weren’t hostile then the blip would just be yellow. I gave a small nod before the two of us slowly trotted down the slope to the group by the wagon.

“Hey! Uh excuse me-?” I jumped back as a bullet embedded itself in the dirt in front of us. The E.F.S. still showed them as yellow?

“Whoa stop shooting! We aren’t raiders!” Scarlet pleaded and well the fact that our heads were still on our bodies must have meant that they believed us, for the time being at least.

“Well, anypony that isn’t a raider is a friend of mine.” The silver colored mare at the front of the wagon said looking at us with a soft smile as she brought the wagon to a halt.

“Grace, we can’t just stop the wagon for everypony we stumble into…how can we even trust these two?” A brown buck who I was guessing was the one that fired the warning shot off came trotting up next to her.
Grace turned her head and gave a simple laugh waving him off with a hoof before returning to us.

“You’ll have to excuse my friend here. Sometimes he forgets that not everypony out here is a blood thirsty raider.” She would have had a point there that is until there was another crack of a gun from behind us. Eureka and her gang had already started shooting down at the little wagon as Grace and her friend took cover behind the caravan. I dropped to the ground as I looked at the group taking potshots from above. What the hell were they doing? These ponies didn’t mean us any harm and here they were trying to kill them!

“What the fuck are you three doing?” Scarlet shouted at the top of her lungs as they moved down the slope and began to close as our new friend behind us stood to return fire.

“Hey easy! Stop shooting alright!” I waved my hoofs towards the buck as he glared at us then to Grace.

“You see? These ponies set us up! They aren’t nothing more than raiders!” He growled before Buckshot fired a warning shot from his shotgun as Eureka stepped forward, that same smug grin I had seen when we first met her.

“Hello everypony, please come out with weapons down. We’ll be taking any goods you got on ya.” She giggled at her revolver in her talons, looking at herself through the reflection like a mirror. Scarlet ran up to them and stood in front of their path.

“We aren’t just stealing from innocent ponies!” Scarlet snarled, her normally well-kept mane now drooping down over one eye, her stable barding having a hole through the shoulder pad from a glancing blow.

Maybe we could just take the food. My stomach argued with me. Traitor.

Just a little bit? Shut up!

Grace got up from her cover and slowly made her way to Eureka then looked back at us. “You know these ponies?”

Buckshot suddenly moved forward knocking her onto the ground with a forceful buck to the side.

“Buckshot!” Scarlet practically flung herself onto him before Eureka fired her revolver into the air to get everybody’s attention.

“Scarlet, you and Shamrock are still new to this so let me clue you in on a little something.” Eureka trotted calmly to another one of the caravan members who was on the ground as well now, placing her clawed hoof on the sky blue mare’s head squeezing it slowly. “If you want to stay alive, you have to play your cards right and pick your fights. So here is the hand I’m dealing you, do you really want to fight?”

Scarlet glared before putting her rifle away as Eureka let go of the pony’s head, a small sliver of blood trickling down the little mares head as she crawled over to Grace, crying. These ponies were innocent, and here we were holding them up at gunpoint, threatening to kill them if they didn’t give us everything that belonged to them.

That was where I drew the line.I stepped back from the others and levitated my revolver and turned it to face Eureka. I had already killed one raider just a few hours ago. Now I felt more than fueled up to shoot a pony that sure as hell deserved it. Eureka’s smug grin faded as the hammer of my revolver clicked back. She expected Scarlet to stand down and behave. Me on the other hoof?

“Try me.” I gave a low snarl, stepping forward before all eyes turned to look up the ridge.

“There they are! It’s the ponies that killed Ratchet and Slit Throat!” Ratchet and Slit Throat? What kind of names were those? Guess raiders weren’t exactly known for their creative names. Nor are they exactly known for their great stealth capabilities.

Their boisterous entrance was all that we needed to shift our anger on as one of the leading raiders began to pull the pin of a grenade. I really started to hate explosives. Then I remembered what Eureka had done with the last grenade back at the station. If I couldn’t just get a little closer I could move the grenade out of the way before it even got close to us. The spoon on the apple shaped grenade flew away as the raider tried to toss it down the side of the hill. Yet no matter how hard he tried the grenade refused to leave him before it finally burst in his mouth.

Note to self: Never pull grenade pins or hold them in my mouth.

The other raiders had already pulled the pins and began to toss them down the hills. Once again let me reiterate how Raiders are not exactly known for their massive intelligence either. Many of the grenades that were tossed down the hill ended up detonating half way down the hill or being levitated back up the side of the hill.

“What is with these ponies and explosives?” Scarlet asked beginning to fire up at the raiders above us. This was the first time I had ever seen Scarlet really in action and well. It was pretty impressive, I guess spending 5 years shooting at annoying bloat sprites and bark scorpions really helped your aim. After realizing that they were out of range of grenade explosives and that their friends were dying just standing there the lead raider decided to get the bright idea to commence the charge. Seven or eight of them began to clamber down the hill shouting various and rather creative ways they were going to kill us when they got down there.

From threatening to fuck us with a grenade launcher and fire it up our ass, to sending us home back to our moms in a box. though the joke was on them I guess.

As soon as the first few got within range I opened up S.A.T.S. and took aim. The pip-buck identified the various potential targets and the percentage of hitting each one. Most of them were still too far away to get the percentage above 50% but I took what I could get and aimed each shot. Six shots for six raiders as time began to revert to normal. I watched as two raider’s heads were immediately reduced to exploding brain matter and blood as one had the misfortune of having a bullet pierce his satchel of explosive goodies, blowing up him and his friends.

I’m not really sure what possessed me but I quickly ran up in front of our group as I reloaded the revolver and began to shout back at the dazed and still cursing Raider’s that had stopped to try and count how many were still in one piece.

“You really want to keep this up?!? Look around you bud, you’re outmanned and out gunned! Even if you had a dozen more I would fucking dare you to try and get anywhere near these innocent ponies!” I shouted furiously. I wasn’t going to just sit back and watch Grace and her ponies die for trying to help us out. The lead pony stood firm in front of me for a second as he smirked, more raiders began to rise up over the hill.

“Maybe we should get back…” Buckshot backed up as several raiders began to stand up next to their leader. We couldn’t just back down now, I was feeling invincible. No matter how many raiders they put against us we could take them. I wanted them to fight us I was going to make them wish they had never even thought of attacking us or these ponies.

“Shamrock get back now!” Eureka’s shouting was drowned out by the sudden barrage of gunfire. I felt as though time had screeched to a halt, as if I had gone into S.A.T.S. without activating it. Bullets screamed over and around me as both parties exchanged fire. My mind was nothing more than a blur as my body went into a strange kind of autopilot. Roll, take aim, and pull the trigger, next target, repeat.

In less than a minute, the reinforcements the raiders had called in were face down in the ground. That was when the pain finally began to register as I doubled over screaming out in agony.

“Shamrock!” Scarlet ran up to my side with alarm in her eyes before Grace and the other caravan ponies rushed up to help. I looked down at myself and saw bullet holes all over my body. I felt warm and cold at the same time as blood poured out of my body.

Oh goddesses, that’s a lot of blood.

“Load him onto the wagon, we’ll get him fixed up.” Grace assured us. I groaned as everything started going numb before thinking it was a smart idea to stare up at the endless grey abyss above. I turned my head to the side and began to heave what little food I had left in my stomach.

“Come on just stay with us Shamrock, you’re fine” Scarlet sounded like she was trying to convince herself more than me. My vision began to grow blurry as I was loaded onto the wagon, even breathing was becoming a task now. Well, I wished for this nightmare to end and now I might get what I wanted. I couldn’t hear what anypony was saying anymore, their voices became nothing more than distant mumbles while I slowly began to drift.

I didn’t feel any pain anymore, just numbness and suddenly drowsy before the world around me went black.I stood in an empty black room no walls and an endless black void above that would make the grey clouds envious of its stomach aching dizziness. Was this really what death was like? Just an empty black void of nothing? I began to trot through the endless space trying to find something some kind of door or magical escape. Nothing absolutely nothing.

“Hello!?! Anypony out there?” I shouted only to be asked the same exact questions by my echoes.

“Yes, hello Shamrock.” A quiet tender voice called from the darkness.

“Mom?” I could already feel my eyes begin to water with tears just getting to hear her voice again, dream or not. She was wearing her usual lab coat but this time it had a strange looking symbol on the front. A triangle made of three smaller triangles with the sun and moon in the center of it.

I galloped to her as fast as my hoofs could carry me trying to hug her as I ran straight through her. Her visage gave a sad but nurturing smile as I got back to my hoofs.

“There isn’t much time sweetie so listen carefully.” She looked over her shoulder suddenly alarmed as if something was after her. “You have to find Tranquility, they will be able to explain everything else from there.” Her tone was urgent as she began to sink into the black void as if it was some kind of goo. I tried to levitate her out to little success, my hoof just phasing through her as I tried to hold onto her beginning to tear up again. “You were made for something better! I love you!”

I watched as her form was soon consumed in the black goo. Her final words echoed loudly through the abyss for what seemed like hours without end as I was finally woke up.My eyes opened to find themselves staring at a black and white mare. Not an earth pony, not a unicorn. The nurse apparently found humor in my confused stare before setting a healing potion on the table next to her.

“What? Never seen a zebra before?” The nurse cocked a brow, grinning slightly. All that I knew about zebras were that two hundred years ago Ponies and Zebras fought and well ultimately created the hell that I was now living in. I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting when she said she was a zebra, other than the Mohawk and dizzying stripes she looked like any other pony.Her cutie mark was a bit, off though. Ok maybe I was staring at her flank more than anything, but instead of some sort of symbol usually representing her talent. Whatever that talent might have been, I doubt that the strange squiggly shapes around a circle stood for being a nurse.

“I am Ambrose, one of Saving Grace’s assistants.” Ambrose nodded, motioning to the pony from before. Saving Grace? Fitting name. I tried to sit up before my body immediately decided to tell me that was a bad idea as thousands of pins and needles pierced every nerve in my limbs. Ambrose definitely seemed to be having her fun with my stupidity.

“You’re lucky your friends managed to get you here in time. I wasn’t able to save the other one though.” Ambrose looked down with a sigh placing a tender hoof on my own, making my coat change from its normal white to a beet red. “Deepest sympathizes for your loss”

My love-struck face changed to concern as I sat up again, fighting the urge to hurl from the soreness.

“Eureka is dead…” Scarlet answered grimly as she trotted inside before immediately embracing me in her hoofs. A lump formed in my throat, I had survived two firefights out of sheer luck my first day out here. I thought I was invincible, never really took in the fact that I could have died out there. Eureka could have just left us, she didn’t have to take us anywhere and just go on her merry way. I still couldn’t entirely remember what had happened at that firefight but I still couldn’t help but feel a hint of guilt. As if she was dead for my arrogance. Even if she wasn't exactly the nicest pony we met, she didn't deserve to die for it. “We almost lost you too, several exit wounds.”

I looked like a poorly patched together balloon, multiple bandages on my chest and even a lucky shot right on my flank. Talk about insult to injury.

“Where are Buckshot, Sand and Juniper?” My head spun around, still groggy from my awakening

“They already left, said they would meet up with us back in Trotton once you were able.” Scarlet assured me while my head started to ache, forcing me back down onto the pillow

“You may still feel just a little queasy, we had to give you eight healing potions to mend the wounds fast enough.” Ambrose kept me down as I tried to get back up. A little queasy was an understatement, the nectar taste lingered in the back of my throat as my stomach did backflips. Saving Grace finally trotted in to check on me.

“Oh good, you’re awake.” Grace trotted to us with a small bag in her mouth, handing it over to Scarlet who looked at the contents.

“Oh why thank you. You really shouldn’t have though” Scarlet levitated a Sparkle Cola bottle cap out of the small sack then gave a dumbfounded look over at me.

“Stable ponies, figures. Out here in the wasteland we use bottle caps as money.” Grace gave a small laugh as Scarlet tucked it away in her saddle bags.

“You can earn some more if you’re willing to help us out with a few tasks around the town.” I perched my head against the pillow and arched a brow at Grace's words.

“Oh no it’s fine, you don’t have to pay us. What do you need help with?” Scarlet nudged my side as Grace informed us of this task.

“We recently discovered an old abandoned stable just west of Hoofstead. If you could get some medical supplies from there to re-stock the ones used, it would gratefully appreciated. We attempted to explore it but were ill prepared for what was inside. If possible we would like you to help remove the Cazador hive that’s taken shelter in there. Any other loot, caps or supplies you can keep.” Find a stable, get supplies and smash a hive. Seemed simple enough.

“Alright that sounds good.” I got out of the bed and onto my hoofs instantly getting a bit of vertigo and nearly face planting right in front of Ambrose. First Impressions, they were definitely not my strong point at all. Grace trotted over to my pip-buck and set a waypoint on my map for a random spot not too far from Rivon. How did the pip-buck know the name of places? I had never been to or even heard of these places yet everywhere on the map were locations with names on them all. It even knew the items, weight and value of whatever random items I put in my inventory. From ammunition to even the old gum wrapper I picked up just to test it out, which apparently a gum wrapper was worth a cap. Go figure.

“You should probably go change out into something more intact” Grace motioned to my jumpsuit which had been neatly decorated with bullet holes, shrapnel and all other manners of grime. “I got some old Barding, I can remove the insignia if you’re not exactly one for them.” She levitated khaki colored suit of barding looking pretty well in-intact well more than my current uniform at least. "Wont have to worry about folk mistaking you for a raider at least"

Well, that was a bonus I suppose. Less chance of friendly folk trying to blow my head off was something I could live with. I removed the shredded remains of the old jumpsuit and put on the new barding, sliding my mother’s necklace underneath it. The uniform fit snug around my coat, definitely a lot heavier than my jumpsuit but I still felt rather light on my hoofs. Even had holsters for my revolvers, or one of them at least, saddle bags and a canteen too. My pip-buck notified me of the outfit change.

“I’m coming as well, in case you need some medical aid on the go. Ambrose trotted in wearing her brown hoodie and saddlebags, a sawed off shotgun slung on her back. New armor, more or less fully healed all that was left was to find Stable 24.

For doors the size of an entire building the stable was well hidden. If it wasn’t for the waypoint that Saving Grace put up we would have walked right past the crevice it was hiding in. So finding the stable wasn’t that hard. Now came the second problem.

“How in Equestria are we supposed to open this thing?” I gave frustrated growl stomping a hoof against the massive metal door. A small terminal on the side of it as Ambrose trotted over to it slowly and began to look at it.

“I think I might be able to get it open. Might take me a while though.” She tilted her head and began to work. That was when the next and probably worst problem came. A low ominous buzzing filled the air as my E.F.S. was filled with several dozen red bars. Well fuck.

I turned in the direction of the red bars and took out Reprisal and Vindication. I had never dual wielded before or even wielded a pistol as of yesterday but hey now seemed like the perfect time to test out my gun slinging capability. Lifting up both revolvers was one thing, but pulling the trigger on one revolver and not the other? That was a built harder than I expected as I reluctantly put one of them back into its holster.

Soon enough the buzzing came to a deafening roar of insect-like wings in front of us. They looked like giant mutant wasps about half as big as I was, with stingers the size of knives. The pip-buck identified them as Cazadors: Personally I would have gone with Wasteland Nightmare fuel as they came flying towards us with pure rage in their compact eyes.

I quickly slid into S.A.T.S. and target two shots directly for the head of the closest creature and then two for the chest in the next watching as the shots lined up reducing the first Cazador’s head to slimy green goo while the other one buzzed around wildly before dropping to the ground twitching. Ambrose began to open fire as well, splattering any of them that got close to us as Scarlet guarded Ambrose, picking off Cazadors from afar. One after the other it seemed like for every cazador we killed another would just pop up and take its place. Somehow one managed to get the drop on me smashing into my body and landing on top of me as its mandibles opened up and clamped down onto my shoulder. This probably should have hurt like there was no tomorrow had it not been for the padding my barding had as it thrashed around.

“Bit off more than you could chew huh?” I taunted before suddenly feeling a fiery explosion of utter pain in my body as I looked further down to see its syringe like stinger stabbed into the softer part of my barding. I let out a blood curdling wail before reducing its torso into a bullet riddled carapace, prying its barbed tail out of me.

“Mind getting that door open like now?” Scarlet shouted clubbing a cazador with her rifle before sliding in another clip. While I couldn’t dual wield the pistols very well I had managed to quickly levitate one revolver and shoot while reloading the second one, continuously laying down a stream of fire before I suddenly heard one revolver go click.

Then the second revolver went click as I raced through my saddle bags for more ammo I heard the loud creaking of the stable doors finally opening behind us.

“Everyone get inside!” Ambrose was already running inside and closing the door slowly so they didn’t follow us inside.The moment we got inside the doors slammed shut behind us. The moment the door slammed shut behind us was the moment my brain decided to remember I had just taken a pint of cazador venom to the colon. I felt my vision becoming blurred already as the fiery burn flowed through my body. Ambrose knelt down by my side to patch up the egg sized hole in my side with a magical bandage. So I wasn’t bleeding, but I was still writhing on the floor feeling like all my blood had been replaced with liquid fire.

“Cazador toxin: the pain is excruciating but you didn’t get an instantly fatal dosage so that’s the good news.” Ambrose didn’t really have to explain to me how painful it was just tell me the bad news. “If we don’t get you some proper treatment however it will eventually kill you.”

Right, that was the bad news. I already felt myself tensing up as the world around me spun before I began to heave on the floor.

“Well we don’t have any time to get back to Rivon, how do we get him treated?” Scarlet grimaced at my sickly body squirming around on the floor. Ambrose pursed her lips before looking back at the door.

“If I could grab some of the cazador venom sacks I might be able to brew up an anti-venom. With any luck the medical ward is still operational down here.” She opened turned to the doors again as they began to slowly open.I was half expecting us to be completely swarmed by the giant hell spawns yet as soon as the door had opened there was nothing more than the dead husks of the Cazadors we already gunned down as she quickly sifted through the bodies before tearing apart the thorax of one of the creatures. She squeezed the mucus colored liquid into a vial and put it in her saddles before returning to us, helping me onto my feet.

My vision transitioned from tunnel to blurred but other than that and a flaming flank I was good for the time being. I looked to my revolvers then checked for ammunition. Empty of course, though as my head began to spin I doubt that even if I had unlimited ammo I could aim straight.

The stable smelled old and stuffy, a foul moldy stench filling the air as we marched through. Every now and then the E.F.S. would occasionally click to signal another angry wasp from hell charging at us only to be blasted into chunks as we marched forward.
Most of the lighting in the stable had stopped working but every so often we came across a hallway with an occasional flickering light. After going through several drones and more than a few dead ends we had arrived at the medical ward and I was pretty sure the toxin was taking its toll on me. I was stumbling around as though I had drank an entire barrels worth of Wild Pegasus, spouting whatever came to my mind without hesitation.

“Hey, hey Scarlet…you know that zebra? She’s kinda hooooooot” I laughed uncontrollably. Goddesses I was going to regret this later. While I made a complete idiot of myself, Ambrose had already begun to work on the anti-venom, boiling down the venom and mixing it in with one of her potions before shaking it around a bit before trotting back over to me. “Oh hey Ambrose, what are you doing here? We have to find that anti-venom before I die!” Apparently I found talking about my slow and painful death to be quite humorous before taking in the pungent odor of the potion. Yet before I could even object to it she opened my mouth and poured the entire salve down my throat causing me to once again find myself coming to my senses on a cold floor.

“Well, now that that little scare is over with, let’s continue shall we?”

I asked getting to my hoofs as Ambrose began loading up every spare healing potion, rad-away and Med-X bag she could find before distributing out some of the supplies to each of us.

“So medical supplies, check. Kill the Cazador queen not so much.” How we were even going to find the queen in this labyrinth of winding rusted metal walls I had no clue. Though it was safe to assume that the sudden spike in the number of drones we encountered meant we were on the right track.

“Should hopefully be an armory around here.” Ambrose noted splattering the remains of a drone all across the wall with her hoofs. Ambrose was pretty light on her hoofs, but even I had my doubts when she went hoof to hoof or hoof to stinger in this case; with a giant wasp. She managed to maneuver herself out of the way of the Cazador’s stinger when it lunged at her, climbing onto its back and bashing its carapace repeatedly against an overturned footlocker until it finally made a stomach churning crunch and squish.

“Sure do know a lot about where things are in a stable that nopony has explored fully” Scarlet cocked her head as sure enough, to our left was the stable armory. A few footlockers were opened with lock boxes sitting inside them, while others were overturned or closed shut. Ambrose shrugged pulling a bobby pin out of the pocket in her hoody and began to pick one of the lock boxes open. Inside it held a few more .44 rounds and even a grenade.

“I’ve had my share of stable diving, most are built in the same concept.” She muttered as we began to search through the armory. I didn’t find much more revolver ammo but I did however manage to find a new toy to play with. It was an olive green colored carbine with an insignia similar to Sandstorm’s strange looking cutie mark, only the cloud was a faded white with a rainbow colored lightning bolt.

I shouldered the weapon and immediately my pipbuck added it into my inventory.

All-Equestrian added

Huh, All-Equestrian? I like it. Next to the Rifle sat various boxes of ammunition as well as a few empty magazines and even a well, reading magazine. I load the rounds into the magazines and put them in my saddles bags while the others finished restocking and reloading.

“So now all we have to do is kill this hive queen? Easy peasy one two threezy” Though the loud shriek from down the halls begged to differ. A wave of enraged drones came scurrying down the halls. They looked even creepier when they were crawling on the walls more than when they were just flying around. Of course with the narrow hallway and about twenty giant bugs, it was easy pickings.

I pulled out the All-Equestrian¬ and began to fire down the hallway. The All-Equestrian sure did pack a punch, there were so many drones clustered together we didn’t even have to bother with going into S.A.T.S. each pull of the trigger almost guaranteed to hit a target.

The special armor piercing rounds I had loaded into the magazine worked like a dream with these things, a clean entrance and exit through its body. By the time my first magazine was empty all the opposition had been reduced to piles of riddled husks followed by the Queens obviously enraged roar.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” Ambrose murmured as she slid another shell into her shotgun. Sure enough, the queen reared its ugly head through the darkness, a body as long as two tanks and mandibles that could snatch up a pony like a grape.

“Why can’t queen insects ever be small? Or at the least as big as all of the others?!? I mean really!” I groaned in frustration as we began to lay down a barrage of fire at the lumbering beast. Apparently it enjoyed the taste of bullets, all it had to do was open its mouth and ingest all the rounds fired at it before Ambrose lobbed a grenade down its throat. The queen lurched back and screeched as the grenade went off inside it, the large exoskeleton steaming but more or less unharmed by the snack.

“Heat! That’s it, we need to overheat the queen’s body!” Scarlet pointed out as the Queen Cazador recovered from the explosion.

“The Stable’s reactor chamber, we could lure it inside and activate the reactor. That should be hot enough to overheat its carapace!” Ambrose shouted, already leading the way down the halls while the Queen Cazador shrieked in rage, not so far behind us.

“And just how do we keep a giant bug inside a reactor room while it heats up?” Scarlet raised a pretty good point, mindless animal or not it wasn’t exactly just going to sit in a room as it melted. “We’re going to need a distraction while the reactor warms up.”

Stupid idea…this is a stupid idea, this is a very stupid idea. Which was exactly why I was the one who decided to say what everyone knew already. “I’ll do it, just keep the door open for me when it gets hot enough”

Scarlet was about to object before the Queen screeched behind us and rushed to the reactor’s control room along with Ambrose. “I swear to Celestia, Shamrock.” Scarlet shouted angrily before I stood at the door to the reactor the doors were definitely big enough for the queen to fit in, now to keep it inside without getting eaten, or microwaved

“Hey! Down here! Want a little snack? Right this way!” I waved my hoofs in front of it, firing off a couple rounds. The Queen Glared at me with her mandibles wide open as I rushed inside of the room my pipbuck already beginning to click as the radiation meter rose steadily. I looked back as the queen finally crawled through the doorway its compact eyes set on me as it snapped its mandibles at me. I barely had enough time to dive away before hearing a loud crunching sound as its saw blade teeth crushed clean through my left leg. Blood spattered like a hose across the floor behind me as my hoof clattered to the ground.

I screamed out of both anger and pain as I fired my carbine into the queen’s dome like eyes getting covered in disgusting mucus that only sped up my radiation levels. My eyes had started to burn as if someone had poured a bucket of salt into them while I could feel the waves of radiation and heat slapping my face.

I took this small pause in the fight to grab for a rad-away that Ambrose had given me and drank as fast as I could. The tangy orange flavored medicine barely slowed the ticker as it passed towards level 2, my insides boiling as the room felt like one giant oven. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one suffering in here. The queen had begun to scramble around trying to find the hole it had made, steam creeping out of its carapace and beginning to sizzle.

Sizzle? It was a good distance away from me but I could hear a faint sizzling noise, then felt as if my coat had burst into flames before prying away my barding. The necklace…

The heat from the reactors was so intense it had begun to burn the metal into my body. The golden outlines had melted onto my chest, leaving the shiny emerald green gem just pulsating in my sternum.

I would have marveled at how awesome it looked if I wasn’t A: slowly boiling alive in painstaking agony and B: trying to fight a giant killer wasp queen. I turned to the smoking creature as I limped for the hole, apparently it had the same idea before its second compact eye was splattered from several more shots with the All-Equestrian.

“Oh no you aren’t, if I’m dying here then so are you!” I continued to pull the trigger, round after round into its eye sockets until I had run out of bullets in the magazine. It stumbled and gave shrill shrieks of anger, eventually crumpling up into a ball. Okay, it’s dead…now I just have to get out of here before I’m extra crispy. I slowly continued to limp my way back to the large opening where all the others had gathered, not daring to run the risk of being burnt alive to pull me out.

One after another, I chugged down every last healing potion, Rad-Away and hell, even the anti-venom in my saddlebags in hope of making it out of there. Then suddenly, the Queen decided to get a little revenge from beyond the grave.Its melted carapace sunk in on itself and exploded, sending molten mucus everywhere in the room landing on yep you guessed it: Me.

Getting minor cuts from grenade shrapnel: Stings but walk it off.

Smashed against the ground by another pony: Ok that hurts, but I’ll live.

Getting shot full of holes in an adrenaline fueled moment of glory: Pain like I had never felt before.

Getting coated in heated radioactive bug guts: Celestia bend me over and shove the sun up my ass.

I dove for the gaping hole and rolled around frantically, shouting every last explicit word I had ever known and then some. By now my pipbuck had just given up on trying to measure how much radiation I had just absorbed and went with “Fuck it, you’re dead” as the small ticker just sat at the very end of the meter. It was right, I should be dead…yet after the flaming goo had mostly been shaken off I felt fine? Okay I use the word “fine” lightly, my hoofs ached and my chest was still burning but how the heck was I still alive?

“Uh…Shamrock you’re white.” Scarlet blurted out just staring at me with her mouth wide open. White? Last I check my coat was a dark….white My once dark grey coat was now a bright white color that was so bright that even I had to look away after staring for a few seconds. “You’re also uh glowing?”

We were taught about radiation poisoning and how sometimes if radiation levels got high enough that some pony’s bodies started to glow. In the worst cases they would even started to have their coats, manes and skin melt away and turn into hideous zombie ponies called Ghouls. Never was I told that you would turn completely white.

“Are you alright?” Ambrose asked as if it wasn’t obvious.

“Uh yeah, my chest hurts a bit and my leg.” I looked down at my leg and stared wide eyed at it. My hoof was completely healed, a small scar running the circumference of where it had once been bitten off.

“You just sucked up more radiation than a balefire bomb and all that happens is your chest hurts and you’re now glowing with a change in coat colors?” Scarlet stared in disbelief. Ambrose passed me another Rad-Away that I drank quickly. I cringed as I drank the orange drink instantly throwing it back up. Before looking up at the others.

“Can we discuss this when we’re back at Saving Grace’s office?” I groaned shuddering from the once life-saving drink.

Footnote: Level Up.
New Perk: Rad absorption -1 Rad every 20 seconds

Chapter 3: The Hunt

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Chapter 3: The Hunt

“Well, I don’t know what to say” Saving Grace gave a baffled sigh as I puked up another bag of rad-away.For almost five hours I sat on the table as Grace tried to find out just what was going on with my body. Every time I was given a rad-away my body would immediately reject it and ide be puking orange goo everywhere.

“I’m just a medic, you got a flesh wound or compound fracture? Sure I can fix you right up but this? This is something else.” I stared down at myself, the glowing had finally gone away and I didn’t seem to radiating anymore but my coat and mane were still bleached white.

“Do you think it has something to do with that?” Ambrose nudged the small emerald that had melted into my chest and I suddenly reared back as though she had just jabbed my heart with red hot needle.

“Can we please not touch that?” I gritted my teeth as the burning sensation in my chest subsided. So let’s have a quick recap on what exactly is going on. I absorbed enough radiation to make a ghoul pony jealous, had a family antique melted into my chest and had all my hair bleached white. Now let’s review all the possible explanations on how I am still alive: None.

“At this point it could be anything. Like I said before, if he really did absorb as much radiation as you ponies said he did then well he should be just a pile of melted flesh.” Grace stamped a hoof down in frustration and shook her head. “Your best bet at getting any answers as to what in the name of Equestria is happening to him would be going to Tenpony Towers.”

Grace sighed as we gave her the usual we have no idea what anything is out here sideways glance.

“Before the war for Equestria, Tenpony tower’s was a hub for MAS or Ministry of Arcane Science. When the megaspell destroyed most of Manehatten its protective shielding prevented the tower from being reduced to rubble. Tenpony has become one of the closest things to a normal life anypony could have if you’re lucky enough to become a citizen there. It’s also where the broadcaster DJ-PON3 broadcasts. Though they do have strict rules against ghoul ponies…” Grace immediately glanced over at me when she mentioned the word ghoul ponies.

“So they aren’t going to let me in?” To be honest, I couldn't blame her for jumping to the conclusion that I would turn into one of those things.

“Well you don’t appear to be a ghoul pony yet. With any luck your bleached hair is the worst of this incident in which if that’s the case then they should let you in without any hassle.” Ambrose quickly chimed in giving a small reassuring smile before glancing back over to Grace as she nodded her head. “Manehatten is still a pretty long way away. Might take you about a week if you don’t run into any trouble.”

Of course we all knew by now that there would be plenty of trouble for us to run into along the road.

“Well, if you’re going to walk their then you’ll need some new barding. Considering you already managed to destroy the ones I gave you earlier.” Grace motioned a hoof towards the tattered remains of the khaki colored barding, genuinely surprised it wasn’t burnt onto my flesh with the gem. “Loom can help you with any supplies that you need. You can find him down the street to the left. Just tell him Grace sent you and he should give you a discount.”

Should, I had been hearing that word a lot recently, never a 100% guarantee. Grace gave us a wave as we trotted outside.

Short of a giant metal wall around the town, Hoofstead reminded me a lot of Hope. Most of the buildings had been refurbished as best they could into new stores, bars and inns.

“You think we could live here?” Scarlet peered over at me as if she were reading my mind. We didn’t really have anywhere else that we could go, from all the things Buckshot had warned us about out in the wastelands this place didn’t seem like such a bad place to settle down in. Of course much like Hope, it wouldn’t be complete with a couple assholes…

“Look, we’re trying to be nice. Just have the doctor give us what is rightfully ours and we’ll go about our business.” A stallion was talking to who I was assuming was loom. He had a propane tank for a cutie mark and a machete on his back as he glared at the shopkeeper. It might not have been my personal business to interfere in other ponies business but when I saw this guy yelling at Loom all I could think about was Blue Roulette and his lug-heads .

“And just what exactly is your business?” I interjected, giving a harsh glare at the buck.

“My business is to collect some property these lowdown degenerates stole from us…” He shoved a piece of paper in my face and let me read it.

We, the representatives of Shatterdhoof, have this day bargained and purchased from Deadeyes the exclusive rights to ownership and sale of the slave Ambrose Sky for the sum of one thousand bottle caps, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged. We warrant the slave to be sound, healthy, and slave for life. We covenant with the said, Deadeye, that we have full power to bargain and sell said slave. Payment of an additional five hundred bottle caps will be due.

I was just about ready to rip the paper to shreds and put a bullet through every part of his body had Scarlet not held me back when I tried to levitate my revolvers out. Ambrose was an escaped slave and this sick bastard acted like it was no big deal?

“Lowdown degenerates? Only degenerate I see is a disgusting excuse for a pony.” I growled through clenched teeth. If there was one thing I hated more than assholes, it was hypocritical assholes.

“Me? No I’m not her owner, I’m just a messenger.” He snarled, setting the deed down on the counter.

“The reaper Firebrand was out on…business…when she decided to make a break for it just a few weeks ago. It would be a real shame if when he came back his favorite toy was still missing. Just tell us where the zebra is and there won’t have to be any trouble, after all, is it really worth having an entire town wiped off the map just for one insignificant zebra?” The stallion walked to the door and turned back to glare at us. “You got till sunrise tomorrow. Should be enough time to find it.”

Loom simply sighed and shook his head before picking up the knocked over merchandise.

“Ah knew that zebra wasn’t nothing but trouble the day she stumbled into town. Saving Grace almost immediately took her in without even questioning what she was doing out on her own. Typical that a zebra would be causing all of us trouble.” Loom mumbled a bit more about how zebras ruined everything as he picked up a broom and started to sweep up.

“So what are you going to do about it?” Scarlet asked, helping him pick up the mess left on the floor.

“Well if it were me I would hand her right back over and pretend she never happened, but of course Saving Grace is too nice
a pony to do something like that.” Loom shrugged his shoulders before walking behind the counter. “Meaning it looks like I’ll be closing up shop when Firebrand and his gang show up, you two should head out as well unless
you think you can pull what you did back out at the ridge with Flintlocks crew.”

“What about the other townsfolk? You’re just going to leave them?” Scarlet arched a brow at Loom, who continued to act as though it were none of his business.

“If they want to leave they can, or just give Ambrose over to them and spare everypony the trouble.” Loom started to become annoyed with our constant questioning. Now I was the one that was holding Scarlet back before she shot somepony and to be honest, I didn’t blame her. Here was a pony that was willing to sell out another to save his own skin. Willing to let somepony else take the fall while he snuck off without the slightest hint of guilt.

“Do you have any ideas as to who could help? You got plenty of weapons, maybe we could raise a sort of militia?”

It wasn’t much of a plan but if we could raise enough support maybe we could scare them off. Though from what Eureka had told us about reapers…we would need an army to try and take on that.

“Half these folk here are like yourselves, they were raised in a stable. Forced out due to a radiation leak, never even held a gun in their lives. Even if I was willing to give my supplies away it wouldn’t do them any good.” Loom sighed and shook his head at us reluctant to help such a lost cause.

“There is a town not too far away called Trotton, more likely than not you can probably rustle up a band of mercenaries if you got the caps of course.” Caps…The one thing we weren’t in high supply of. Still Trotton had been where we originally planned on going to meet with Buckshot and his gang before I was well bleached by radiation. It wasn’t much of a plan but it was better than nothing. With any luck Buckshot and the others were still there and we could possibly recruit them without much hassle.

“We’ll head there immediately” I was already starting to head out of the store and to the marker on my pipbuck before being stopped by Scarlet.

“Shamrock don’t you think we’re getting a little too involved in other ponies affairs?” Her eyes darted around before returning to mine. Was she really having second thoughts about this?

“We owe them for saving us Ambrose especially. We can’t just sell her out who knows what they will do to her.” I gave a determined frown. Considering the vile things I heard the last group of raiders shout at us during the shootout I didn’t even want to imagine what they do to prisoners let alone slaves.

“This is suicide Shamrock, I know Ambrose is a nice mare and so is Grace and all the other ponies there but we have to think about ourselves. Even if we got a couple mercenaries it wouldn’t be enough to take on a reaper. We don’t even know how many this Firebrand guy has.” Scarlet continued to plea to me as I kept trotting down the road.

I sighed but continued trotting. I didn’t really care what the odds were, my mind was made up. I would help them anyway I could even if it meant I was on my own. “We have to at least try, we already lost our home. I don’t want to see these ponies lose theirs.”

Scarlet’s voice rose a bit more with frustration and stood in front of me. “You’re not some super hero Shamrock! I want to help these ponies as much as you do but I’m just facing the facts, we can’t save them. You can’t save them.”

I stopped dead in my tracks looking down at the ground. I had saved Grace from the ambush those raiders had set up. That had been at least a dozen or so pony’s right? Even then Eureka had gotten killed because of it.
No, not again. I’m not going to let this town be destroyed by a bunch of gun toting bullies. Not without a fight at least, no matter how short a fight that may be.

“You don’t have to come then, you can go your way I’ll go mine.” I pushed her aside and kept trotting.

Scarlet stamped her hoof into the ground and cursed to herself before catching up to me. “I’m going to regret this decision later…let’s just get to Trotton.”

Well there was one willing soul for the cause. There were some interesting things along the path to Trotton, apparently all bugs were turned into giant nightmare spawns. From giant ants to rad-scorpions, you would think they would have developed some kind of giant killer bug spray by now.

“Hey! Over here! Can you help me?” A pony cried out he was limping in the middle of the street a trail of blood behind him. His left hoof was clutching his chest as he looked up at us. Something just wasn’t adding up here.

“What happened?” Scarlet began to open her saddlebags and was reaching for a healing potion.
My mind screamed at me to draw Reprisal as I levitated it out and pointed it at the wounded pony. “Shamrock what are you d-“

The supposedly wounded pony shouted and pulled a knife from his mane charging at Scarlet.


Scarlet shuffled back staring at the now headless body of the mugger, blood pooling beneath him. Aside from a missing head, he had no previous wounds to speak of.

This was a set up…lure ponies to help him and stab them when they were close enough.
I wasn’t sure how I knew that would be a trap, the E.F.S. showed him as yellow up until he pulled the knife out. Guess yellow doesn’t always mean mellow? Had I waited for it to turn red Scarlet would have been impaled before I even drew my revolver.
Unfortunately for us, he wasn’t alone either. Four more raiders emerged from the bombed out ruins and rushed forward. This took bringing a knife to a gunfight to a whole new level of sad. I slipped into S.A.T.S. and lined up the shots.


They just dropped like bags of sand. Raiders were what everypony called them. Insane ponies that lost all sense of reasoning and decency. We call them raiders instead of ponies its more humane that way I guess. Go around saying you killed a bunch of raiders, you’re a hero. Go around saying you killed a bunch of ponies, you’re a psychopath. Yet weren’t these ponies too? Once young colts and fillies with dreams and hope like the rest of us?

It hadn’t been a full week since we left Goodspring and already I was a hardened killer. They were mindless and wouldn’t show any mercy to us, it was only right that we gave them the same treatment.
Still, what were they before this? What were the raiders before they lost their mind? Or perhaps an even better question. How long would it be before I became one of them? Just another mindless killer preying on innocent ponies for a quick cap or just for fun. The name from my nightmare…Reprisal. I stared down at the silver words inscribed into my magnum before shaking the horrible thought into the back of my head and focused on the task at hand.
Finding a way to recruit a small army to defend a town from an army of raiders and their psychotic leader. Simple.

Or not…The sign on the road had been ripped from its hinges and tossed to the ground. There was nothing but complete silence as we neared the town of Trotton. Not even the wind was blowing, just a still silence before the scent hit us. The coppery stench of blood and sulfur from a very recent battle.

Everything was so organized though, the fires in the buildings kept to only to the ones closest to what looked to be town hall. A neat line of corpses strewn up on stakes, I turned away and covered my muzzle from the odor of burnt flesh before regaining my nerves to look once more. They weren’t random civilians, at least from what I could tell by the burnt barding and appearance. Most were burnt beyond recognition but two of them stood out…

“This is…fucked up on every level.” Scarlet murmured before our heads turned on a swivel guns already drawn to fixate on a zebra standing at the steps of town hall.

“I think it’s very…artistic” He smirked underneath his hood as four other zebras stood at each side of him. I was a mixture of confusion, anger and disgust…mostly angered with disgust being a very close second as he sauntered forward. His barding was black with spikes on each side. His hood appeared to be some kind of dog like creatures pelt with its teeth parted equally on each side of its mouth.
This was where my previous knowledge of zebras being bloodthirsty killers really began to come into reality. “Don’t worry though, you won’t be sharing these heathens fate…as long as the Praetor’s orders remain true.” He glanced to Scarlet now as his crooked smile grew. “You two do not appear to be raiders, or mercenaries. Who are you? What brings you here?”

I was about to ask him the same thing.

“I’m Scarlet Blaze…this is Shamrock and no we aren’t from here…what about you? What are these “Orders” you’re praetor gave you?” Scarlet glared skeptically at the zebra as he gave a curtsey to her with a smug snicker.

“My name is Venator, as for our orders. We are in search of the bastard ponies that stole what our Praetor holds nearest to his heart.” He sat back and awaited us to ask what that was exactly.

“Which would be?” I finally asked after the pause. Venator stood back up and trotted to us removing his hood. He had royal blue eyes, or eye at least.
His left eye was pure white with a scar running down the side of his face.

“His precious daughter of course.” If I wasn’t already pale I would have probably gone full circle and become a rainbow as I began to run a worst case scenario. He wasn’t talking about Ambrose, he couldn’t have. Of all the zebras in the world what would the odds be?

“You know who we are talking about don’t you?” He scowled as Scarlet fished through her security barding and pulled out the proof of purchase the raider had shown us earlier.
Venator snatched up the piece of paper and quickly began to examine it. “Ah I see…you’re one of the slavers collectors?” He snarled lifting a hoof as his guards swarmed around us.

“No! We’re not collectors! We came here to get help! We’re friends of hers!” I backed up slightly as I felt one nudged the tip of his carbine to the back of my head.

“Friends? Well then perhaps you will be able to clarify to him personally.” He sneered. I had the strangest feeling that clarifying wouldn’t be as simple as it should be.Venator pushed us along about a mile up the road where we found more ever so pleasant stake decorations. Seeing them back at the town made my skin crawl, seeing as how these ones were empty made it even worse. Seeing as how there were only two stakes set up…well it wasn’t exactly hard to guess what they were trying to tell us.

“Looks like the hunter has brought Atlas some new chew toys.” One of the guards chuckled as we were marched at gunpoint through the camp. All I could reiterate in my head were what Sandstorm had told us about Atlas. Even as we walked to his tent I still couldn’t believe anypony could be as large as he described. I was quickly proven wrong yet again. The tent was about as big as a normal room, filled with various trinkets and trophies of his. Guns, makeshift swords even. Oh goddesses

On one of his tables sat an ornate array of hoofs neatly lined up with the head of their owners. Zebras really knew how to make their guests feel welcomed.

“Praetor, my liege, these ponies believe to know of the whereabouts to your beloved daughter.” Venator bowed as the largest figure in the room stepped forward. His head nearly reached the top of the tent as he looked down at us.

“Oh? Do tell me how these ones offer more hope than the others” My stomach churned when his deep voice mentioned others as I turned to stare at the hoofs once more.
Venator nodded and gave the behemoth Scarlet’s stolen note. Atlas frowned at it as he read it to himself slowly before his scowl wavered for an instant. “Ambrose…” His scowl returned as he boomed at us. 'You have seen her? Describe her.”

Well shit. Being told on the spot to describe somepony? As much as I stared at her back in the stable and at Hoofstead all my mind could do is draw blanks.

“She um uh well…she had stripes and uh.” My stammering didn’t seem to be found very useful to Atlas as he growled at me.

“Is this suppose to be humorous, pony?” He looked to Venator and gave him the same glare, causing him to shrink away and back up. “If you cannot describe her then you clearly must know nothing of her and therefor have wasted my time…Venator please escort the mare out. I will continue to interrogate this one.”

Yep I was dead, no doubt in my mind.

“I have wasted enough time with countless sources on where my daughter is pony…I have wasted twenty years in a futile effort to find her.” His hoof shook the ground beneath me as he stamped it into the dirt. I swallowed hard as he stared at his table of “collections” as if trying to see if there was any more room for another set of insignificant pony hoofs.

“H-how exactly did you lose her in the first place?” That alone should have been enough to seal my fate as he glowered at me before sighing.

“Our camp was attacked by raiders…more specifically those of Shatterhoof. They had hired reapers to kidnap and enslave the able and to kill off the stallions.” He adjusted his bronze colored armor and removed it to reveal various scars and gashes across his hide before putting it back on him. “The reaper known as Deus wiped nearly half of my centurions out in the first few minutes of the battle before I got to him.” He practically spat out the name Deus as he continued with his story. “Typical of a pony to fight without honor…he grabbed hold of my daughter and forced what was left of my camp to surrender. Rather than kill me they simply left me bound and bloodied till I eventually broke free.” Atlas motioned to the heads and hoofs on the table. Each of them with looks of horror stitched to their faces eternally. “One by one I have hunted them down, rebuilt and renewed. Yet two things have managed to slip by me every time. Deus and my daughter.”

The more I listened to his story the more I thought about my own story. Aside from a few differences in details, ours weren’t that different.

“For twenty years I have told myself that she was alive, that somewhere out there she was still breathing. Until I either find her corpse or her blinking eyes I will not give up my hunt for her. And until I have Deus’ corpse or unblinking head I will not give up my hunt for him and every last reaper in this damnable wasteland we live in.”
So the infamous warmongering zebra legend known as Atlas, was really just trying to find his daughter this entire time? Wow talk about father of the year. “So as you can see, I am not one for having my time wasted on false leads…”

I sat back and thought for moment before I nodded calmly.

“I’ll lead you to your daughter on one condition.” I murmured. Atlas stood up and glared about ready to squash me like an insignificant bug. “She’s been living in a small town to the south of here. A group of slavers lead by somepony known as Firebrand stopped by recently looking for her. You want your daughter, then I’m going to need your help in defending that town from Firebrand when he shows up tomorrow morning at sunrise.”

He stepped back and began to think over the arrangement tapping his hoof on the ground while he thought. “And what is to stop me from simply taking my daughter and leaving?” My heart stopped as he mentioned that little crack in my plans. There was no way in Equestria we would last against Firebrand without him, and there wasn’t any chance in forcing him to stay short of holding Ambrose hostage which again would most likely lead to a fight we couldn’t win. “I already lost her once, I won’t risk her again for ponies that would never do the same for me.”

My eyes widened at the sudden thought in my head. “They already have though, they’ve been taking care of Ambrose letting her live with them. These ponies hid her away from her kidnapper, the least you could do is protect them like they protected her.”

Atlas glanced around the room for a second longer before nodding. “Very well, I will aid you in defending your town. However if I find out that you lied to me”

He stomped out of the tent and left me with his collection of heads to let me fill in the blanks as to what he was implying.

I calmly trotted outside to find Scarlet sitting calmly next to Venator.

“Well? What happened?” Scarlet cocked her head and arched a curious brow.

“They are going to help us protect Hoofstead.” I smirked at her with a little wink.

At least that was the deal we had, I wasn’t exactly sure whether or not we could trust them to not just run off once they had Ambrose.
Even if they decided to do that, we wouldn’t be able to hold them to their word. With any luck I was able to convince Atlas to stay true to his agreement to help.

After a few minutes of waiting, Atlas returned once more fully prepared for war. His bronze armor was freshly polish and he was now armed with a massive saddle mounted cannon. Even his hoofs had large retractable blades strapped on their sides as he looked to Venator.

“Ready the centurions, we move immediately.” Atlas looked down at me giving a small reassuring nod as Venator rushed to arms.
I had my doubts about defending a town from an army led by a reaper earlier; but seeing this strike force assembled? Well for once I felt things would go smoothly.
About twenty five zebras were standing at attention: all of which were armed with striped carbines, sniper rifles or traditional throwing spears.

“Lead the way pony.” Venator commanded as Atlas stood at the front of his forces while we marched back towards Hoofstead. I could hear my heart beating once more as Hoofstead came into view. Another shootout, another bloodbath, another brush with death. Yet before we were even in town we could hear gunfire from below, smoke and flames were rising from the distance.

“They weren’t supposed to be here this early!” I shouted in frustration. For the love of Celestia can a plan ever go right?!? At the sight of the flames Atlas immediately growled stamping an earthshattering hoof into the ground and giving the charge order into the town. The ground trembled and shook as Scarlet, myself, Atlas and his legion raced down the street into Hoofstead.

The first two fights I had been in were pretty hectic but even then we had a clear enemy that we could see: On one side was us and the other side was the bad guys. Once inside the town that was completely different.The now familiar sounds of gunfire and screams of death were around every corner as I had to rely on my E.F.S. to determine good from bad fast enough.

Yellow? Turn and keep moving.
Red? Pull the trigger and don’t stop until the marker is gone.

As trusty a gun my revolver was, having to stop and reload them after six shots was ineffective as I switched to the All-Equestrian.

Aside from the occasional messy headshot, the All-Equestrian wasn’t as powerful in terms of stopping power compared to Reprisal, but its larger magazines definitely made up for it as I slipped into S.A.T.S. and fired off several rounds into four raiders in ten seconds flat.

Scarlet and I stayed close to one another as we fought our way through the streets. This must have been what it was like during the Great War; no time for rest only moving and shooting.

“We need to find Ambrose and Saving Grace!”

I could barely hear my own voice over the constant chorus of gunfire and explosions as we managed to duck into Saving Grace’s office.

“Scarlet, Shamrock! What’s going on?” Saving Grace looked around us petrified as we entered.

“They’re looking for Ambrose, where is she?” I looked around her office for any sign of her.

Saving Grace shook her head and gave a shrug. “Loom offered to look after her when the fighting broke out. I haven’t heard from either one of them since.”

I nodded and turned for the door before dropping down and letting out a shriek. The adrenaline began to fade away long enough to point out the wounds I had sustained. I really was getting a nasty habit of being so caught up in the moment that I failed to register that guns were constantly aimed at me as well.

The only notable wounds were a few cuts in my side and some shotgun pellets that wedged into shoulder.

“How good are you at picking lead out?” I gritted my teeth as Saving Grace began to get to work on patching me up, one by one she dug into my shoulder plucking out bits of lead and metal pellets and within a few minute: I felt like complete shit still. Of course how I felt didn’t really matter at the moment as I was bandaged up and given a couple healing potions.

“Where the fuck did all these zebra fuckers come from?!?!” A raider spouted in rage before his tone changed from anger to terror.

I marveled for a few moments as Atlas stormed through the battlefield: His armor and thick hide were shrugging off bullets as though they were a minor inconvenience to him as he literally crushed a raider’s skull under his hoof with a wet crack and splatter. Many of the townsfolk had boarded up their homes yet a few were out in the streets with what firearms they had to fend off the seemingly endless flow of raiders.

Finally we busted through the door of Loom’s shop quickly searching around for any sign of them. Empty; we looked high and low through his shop before stopping at the click of a guns hammer.

“Not another step! You two fuckers have ruined everything!” Loom pointed a sawed off shotgun at us: Ambrose’s shotgun.

“Where is Ambrose?” All bets were off now, I was going to get my information and then tear the sleazy scumbag apart.

“Long gone buddy.” Loom sneered waving another deed in the air before keeping the shotgun aimed at us. “The zebra slut belongs to Firebrand and Deadeyes. I was going to be paid two thousand caps for her return once they had their fun with these wastrels until you showed up!” Loom was practically frothing with anger as he glowered at the two of us. “Do you have any idea what you have done? You ruined everything for me! EVERYTH-“


I jumped back as Loom’s head was splattered across the counter, his body dropping to the floor with a thump. The barrel of Scarlet’s rifle trailed a wisp of smoke as she spit on his corpse. “Sick bastard.”

Then came the chilling bray of zebras from outside.Even if they were on our side, hearing that fill the air gave me the creeps as we walked outside.Of the twenty five zebra that aided us in the battle only about a dozen were still standing, four of them were being carried to Saving Graces while the remainder that were found were place neatly in a line next to one another as Atlas immediately turned to us. “Ambrose…where is she?”

We were dead. All I could think about were those hoofs set neatly on his table: picturing mine as his latest addition.

“She’s. She’s gone, Loom sold her out to Firebrand during the fight.” At that very moment I thought for sure Atlas was going to turn my head into a gooey paste as he raised his hoof then slowly put it down.

“Find her. Dead or alive bring my daughter back to me. I cannot leave my people without a leader while I go on a maddened goose chase any longer.” He sounded. Heartbroken: this was the closest he had been to his daughter in twenty years and once again the chance to find her had slipped away from him.

“I will be back with her, I promise.” Atlas didn’t seem very convinced but at least he gave me the benefit of the doubt instead of just blowing me away. “She was most likely taken back to Shatterhoof, it’s a common area for slavers and no doubt we’ll find Firebrand as well.”

Of course I would because he couldn’t have you know had his head crushed by Atlas during this massive firefight.

“I would send my zebras with you, but that would only alert them and simply move Ambrose to another location.” Atlas murmured. So basically two stable ponies with about three days of actual combat experience were supposed to hunt down a reaper, possibly even kill him and find the daughter of a zebra chieftain?

“We’ll go as soon as possible.” Scarlet glanced to me and gave a reassuring smile.

“We’ve lasted this long right? What’s one more suicide mission?”

Scarlet began heading back to Loom’s shop and immediately began to sift through his inventory.

“I don’t think he’ll be needing any of this anymore.”
Ammo, canteens, pistols, grenades: Just about everything we would need this guy owned. Normally I would have felt guilty for stealing from a random pony but then again, he wasn’t any better than a raider was. Not to mention after having slug rounds plucked out of my shoulder just a few minutes ago, a little bit of barding would go a long way for me right about now.

“Hey Shamrock, look at what I found.” Scarlet turned to me and lifted up an armored variant of an old Stable 24 utility jumpsuit. It was better than nothing and to be honest, it felt good to be wearing stable barding again. I guess the trip to Tenpony Towers was going to have to be put on hold for now. With our saddlebags fully restocked and rearmed we turned down the road.

Next stop: Shatterhoof.

Footnote: Level up.
New Perk: Toughness +3 DT Permanently

Chapter 4 pt 1: The Job

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Chapter 4: The Job

“You’re certain you know where we’re going?”

Scarlet gave an unconvinced glance towards me as we trotted down the road.

“Well unless there is another Shatterhoof on the map I would say so”

I was fairly certain that we were going in the right direction. At least that’s what the marker on my pipbuck was telling me.
As we continued through the wasteland without much more hassle than a random bloatsprite encounter, I decided to switch to the radio.

There weren’t exactly a lot of radio stations to choose from so I flipped on the one titled DJ-P0N3 and gave a small smile to hear an old song from Sweetie Belle.

For the first time in three days I felt calm.That was the first mistake I made: Lowering my guard in a world where everypony wanted to blow your head off for no apparent reason other than that they could.

Yet for as calm as I was I couldn’t shake that feeling of being watched.We had walked almost three miles so far and not a single sign of life.

“You think we’re going to find her?”

Scarlet finally broke the awkward silence between us.

I thought of Atlas, how he had spent twenty years trying to find his daughter Ambrose. Twenty years of uncertainty about whether or not his daughter was dead. Then finally after all those years he gets the closest he had ever been only to find out she was gone again.

He offered to fight alongside us to protect the town that had kept her safe from the raiders she escaped from and we had failed to keep our end of the bargain.

Loom had tipped off the raiders and sent her back to Shatterhoof to be resold back into slavery. We barely knew Loom yet he had managed to earn a very special spot in my heart. That spot was called my shit list, which I felt was only going to increase as our time out here grew.

How anypony could just give somepony else away for money was mind blowing to me. Then again, what did I know of the wasteland?
All that I had learned from it so far was that if you’re cold hearted you manage to last a bit longer, meanwhile if you show an ounce of good and trust somepony to not stab you in the back, ultimately they would.

Grace trusted us before we even knew her and almost got robbed from Eureka and her gang because of it. Even after all of that she still gave us a place to stay (No matter how short of a stay) as well as nursed me back to health after I was wounded.

Ambrose fixed up an anti-venom for me after I was stung by Cazadors.
One way or another we were going to find her, we had to at least try.

That was when I made my second mistake: Getting distracted.
As we walked deep in thought I failed to pay attention to the markers on my pipbuck warning us of multiple figures approaching.

“Well I’ll be damned. Deadeye was right about these ones.”

A red and black striped pony gave a hyena like cackle as six more ponies circled us.Something about these ponies was off, they weren’t like normal raiders.

For starters they actually wore decent looking armor and stood with a more arrogant bravado compared to rather twitchy trigger happy behavior I was use to encountering now.

“What do you want with us?”

Scarlet gave an irritated growl trying to keep calm as we tried to calculate any form of escape. There weren’t many forms of escape.
Short of going out guns blazing, all we could do for now is stand there and hear them out.

“Firebrand told us of a few pony folk that were trying to steal one of his toys away from him. A bleach white stallion and an ever so lovely mare.”

He gave a charismatic smile and wink to Scarlet who immediately shot mental daggers at him.

“So you’re going to take us back to Firebrand? Or what?”

Famous last words folks. The mercenary grinned tapping his hoof as his buddy’s grabbed hold of me and Scarlet.

“Firebrand? Oh no, we work for Deadeye.”

He placed shackles around our legs and nudged us forward with the butt of his shotgun.

“Don’t worry though, our boss just wants to have a little word with you.”

A little word with a pony who is involved in slaver business?Alarms were blaring in my head about how bad of a decision it would be to follow.Then again, Its not like we really had many other decisions available to us.

"These are the ones that took out Flintlock? They look like they could barely handle an angry bloatsprite."

A golden brown colored mare sneered at us before pulling on Scarlet Blaze's mane.

"This ones pretty though; oh the fun I'll have with you."

Her associate nodded in agreement, rubbing against her side suggestively.

"Maybe we could sample them before we turn them loose to Deadeye."

The leader of the group simply sighed shaking his head at the two horny mercenaries.

"They aren't slaves you idiots. They are guests, for now at least."

For now; considering we were dealing with borderline raiders, for now was better then dying right now.

Walking along with these ponies and hearing their casual banter between one another, reminded me of Eureka and her gang.
Just a bunch of ponies that were trying to make an living, even though it was as mercenaries who cared for little more than the caps they were promised for the jobs they did. They weren't just mindless raiders. These ponies still held some kind of rationality and still had feelings, no matter how small those feelings were.

I couldn't stop thinking about Trotton now: The bodies, burnt and mounted on display through the streets. Buckshot, Juniper and Sandstorm were some of the mercenaries that suffered the wrath of Atlas.Their lifeless eyes still somehow filled with terror as though that was just the beginning of their misery. Even though they were mercenaries, they were still ponies like me and Scarlet, they were just given the short end of the stick.

Who knows how many more ponies had ended up on those stakes in his twenty year hunt. And who knows how many more would end up on them if we don't find Ambrose soon.The more I thought about it, the more I started to worry. What if Atlas had already began burning Hoofstead as we speak?

"Welcome, to the Shattered Hoof Correctional Facility."

One of the grunts gave a courteous little bow before waving us through the gates. Soon enough we were face to face with the stallion at the head of the operations in this little facility.

"So you are the new stable ponies that have been causing a bit of trouble for my clients?"

Deadeyes gave a smug grin and snicker before starting to trot to his office.

"I must admit, killing Flintlock was impressive, considering your stature of course but managing to call upon a full zebra legion to defend one small town? That takes some guts."

He laughed again with a shake of his head.

"It didn't take much convincing, considering you stole Atlas' daughter."

Scarlet stamped her hoof on the ground approaching Deadeyes furiously before he simply waved his hoof to her.

"Oh no, I didn't steal her. That would be the work of some hired help from long ago. I had only recently inherited the little beauty before I gave her away."

He levitated a bottle of alcohol and poured it into three small glasses.

"Care for a drink? You must be parched after that long walk through the wasteland."

Scarlet continued her glare before slamming down the whiskey, setting the empty glass on the table.
Mine of course was left untouched, ever since my mother showed me the effects on a ponies liver, alcohol and I were pretty distant from one another.

"Just give us Ambrose and we wont bother you alright?"

He pursed his lips as if he was about ready to agree and hoof her right over to us. You can guess what the answer is.

"That hardly seems fair to me."

I pounded my hoof onto the desk, knocking over the empty glass and before staring down Deadeyes.

"But enslaving innocent ponies is?"

Deadeyes simply shrugged before taking another drink.

"Who ever said life was fair child? Not I."

He stood up from his desk and picked up the fallen glass before returning to our conversation.

"I'm a humble business pony, I deal in caps and arrangements. Do you have the two thousands caps to buy her?"

Deadeyes arched a brow then smirked at our enraged glares at him.

"Exactly, so if you don't have caps, then you're going to have to pay through work."

Scarlet and I exchanged glances to one another at the word work then stared back at Deadeyes' evil grin.

"What work exactly?"
He nodded his head to one of the guards behind us who immediately closed the door behind the two of us and leaned in.

"Ever hunted a pony before?"

Chapter 4 pt2: Choices

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You ever hunted a pony? What kind of question was that? So far the only pony I have been hunting was Ambrose. Technically I guess I could say yes then.

"Just spare us the suspense and tell us wha we need to do." Scarlet was on her third full glass of Wild Pegasus, which was probably explaining her ever growing slur. Deadeyes nodded and set his hoofs onto the desk, moving the Wild Pegasus out of Scarlets reach before she could finish off the rest of his booze.

"We were scheduled to recieve a small shipment of water talisman's for the facility's resevoirs. As you can guess, this is where my problem comes in." Deadeyes arched a brow. I couldnt help but snicker as he tapped his hoof on the desk to regain a drunken Scarlet Blaze's attention. "As I was saying, my problem is that the caravan that was suppose to arrive here last week was robbed of all its talismans. They say a pegasus with a rifle has been causing trouble not too far from here. Every attempt to remove our little guest, however, ends with utter failure." Deadeyes waved his hoof to Scarlet and I. "That is where you two come in. Since you are not, as far as he knows, employed by me, there is a chance that he might not take your heads off immediately." I would feel more at ease with this plan if he used words like "It's guranteed you wont get your head blown into tiny pieces" rather than "Might not".

"And if he doesnt kill us on the spot?" I arched a suspicious brow as Deadeyes continued to grin. Not that i already didnt trust him, but I wasn't enirely all aboard just yet.

"If he doenst kill you, then you try and find a way to get the talismans back. Feel free to use any methods at your disposal." Deadeyes stated simply. Methods. By methods he was expecting us to just shoot the pony and take the talismans back. Which would be a fast solution. For all we knew he could be a raider. Then we wouldnt really have much of a choice, right? "From the reports I've gotten from the most recent, he appears to be aligned with the Enclave, and armed with a gauss rifle."

Enclave? I could already feel my blood begin to boil at the mentioning of the word. I looked to Deadeyes with a sadistic and wide grin.

"I've heard enough, tell me where he is and I'll take care of it." I was practically frothing at the mouth for some payback. Which was exactly what Deadeyes wanted from me. Though there was still one last thing that I wanted from him. "Now what about Ambrose?" I cocked my head at him. Regardless of what the job was, I wasn't doing a single thing until I knew what would happen to her.

"Ah yes the zebra, don't worry, your friend is safe and sound." He smiled at us calmly. Not the answer I was looking for but at least she was alright.

"You're going to give her to us after we finish our job right?" Scarlet slurred, having moved to sit in a chair at the corner of the room

"I'll see what I can do. Now then, one of my more recent associates that was ambush by the Enclave Pegasus will show you the route. You'll find her in the eastern wing of the facility. She should be in the medical ward there." Deadeyes gave a crooked grin as he trotted to the door and opened it for us. "Happy hunting, kid"

The correctional facility was fairly large, with long grey walls that reminded me of stable 24. Though instead of moldy walls and Cazadors, it had various wartime poster glued onto the concrete walls that said things like "Only you can prevent Zebra espionage: report suspicious activity to your local guardsmen at once."

Aside from occasionally having to pull Scarlet away from every buck she tried to flirt with in her drunken haze, these ponies were a lot calmer than I had expected. At least calmer than I expected from raiders.

"I think we made a pretty good impression on him Sh-Shamrock." Scarlet slurred as she swayed from side to side, occasionally bumping against the wall.

"Couldn't imagine why." I sighed, all I could focus on right now was our task. I was determined to get a little bit of payback for what the Enclave had done to me. "Well, this is the Medical Ward, I don't see anypo-" My eyes widened as I stared at the magenta colored mare from before.

"Juniper?!? I thought you were dead." I stuttered as she smiled at me, embracing me in a small hug. "We saw what happened at Trotton and assumed the worst."

"The rest of the group got into a bit of an argument on the way there after we left. I decided to separate and move to Shatterdhoof for work, which I guess was what kept me alive. Next thing I know, we're getting jumped by some Enclave Sniper." She sighed motioning to the scars lining her side.

"That Enclave Sniper would be the reason we're speaking with you. Deadeyes told us that you would be able to help us find his location." I wasn't exactly sure how having juniper with us would increase our chance of not dying, but it was still comforting to see a familiar face.

"Either way, I'm glad the two of you are alright. We should probably get some rest though...I think Scarlet could use it." Juniper suppressed a laugh as she pointed to Scarlet, who had passed out a few moments ago apparently on one of the medical beds. Soon enough, my own eyes started to grow heavier and heavier as I trotted for one of the beds as well. "See you both in the morning, goodnight."

Now all that was left for me was to see what nightmares would be waiting for me in my sleep.

"The Goddess has much need for you my little pony." A smooth and alluring mares voice cooed in the darkness. As I opened my eyes, I found myself once again in the black abyss that was soon becoming a familiar place to me. Though the voice continued to echo through the air around.

"The goddess? What are you talking about?" I demanded, trotting in aimless circles trying to locate where the sound was coming from. "Show yourself!" The voice simply laughed as a purple mist began to blow around me.

"All in good time my little pony, all in good time. For now you must focus on your task at hand." Every time I thought I had pinpointed the direction of the voice it seemed to move to the opposite side.

"Finding Ambrose? kind of already doing that right now, thanks for the concern." I grumbled with an annoyed glare at the darkness. Once again I receive another humored giggle.

"Oh no I was referring to the bigger task. Revenge, finding the Pegasus Enclave and destroying them for what they did to you and the ones you loved."

Various images of Pegasai clad in Enclave uniforms filled my view, followed by a replay of my hometown being razed to the ground. This voice really knew what buttons to push to send me over the edge with anger.

"What does it matter to you or this "Goddess" pony anyways? My personal vendettas are of no concern to you." I mumbled trying to contain my seething rage. It was no surprise when I was met with yet another omniscient giggle.

"Because, the goddess can help you find where the Enclave is, as well as grant you the strength you need to destroy them." My ears perked up suddenly as a purple alicorn came into view finally.

"You have my attention..."

Footnote: Level Up.
New Perk: Jury-rigging, repair any item using a roughly similar item

Chapter 5 pt1: Mercy?

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"Rise and shine everypony!" Juniper called out, stomping her hoff against the concrete floor. Scarlet gave a groggy groan and clutched her head as she slowly woke from her slumber.

"Five more minutes Roulette, please?" Scarlet was still getting over that morning hangover while i sat up in my bed within the medical ward. All around us were various posters with the face of a yellow pegasus pony and a little whit bunny holding a carrot in his paws. I couldnt stand to see a pegasus, regardless of how many bunnies were scattered around them. They were the reason i was even out here to begin with afterall. They were the reason I was having to sleep with one eye open and a bullet in the chamber beneath my pillow, if i was lucky enough to sleep on an actual bed. They were the reason that my mother was dead...

The goddess can give you the strength to destroy them. The strange purple alicorns words floated around in my head as I sat there loathing the world I lived in. The goddess, whoever that was, was will to help me find and destroy an entire military faction? Normally I would pass that off as just another crazy dream from lack of sleep in almost two days. I must have been giving a death glare like no other at the poor Pegasai on the poster that it had drawn Scarlet's attention.

"You alright Shamrock? You look like you've seen a ghost. No pun intended." Scarlet gave a concerned glance to me as I put a hoof to my forehead, feeling the numerous beads of sweat begin trickling down my head. I was still lost in my own little world of jumbled up thoughts, delusions and various voices. We were up to our necks in so many different jobs that even i was starting to lose track. Currently, we were trying to find an Enclave sniper that had stolen water talismans in order to free the daughter of a zebra chieftan. Next up was the case of travelling to Tenpony towers in order to find out why/how I was still alive and bleached white. Finally and a much more personal agenda, was finding this so called "Goddess" and speak with her on getting revenge on an entire nation of pegasai. This is of course not counting the numerous shootouts and other fights to the death, that we would most likely experience along the way.

"Y-yeah, I'm just a little lightheaded right now. What time are we heading out?" I gave a small murmur as Juniper was already sliding her saddlebags on.

"Well i'm ready whenever you two are." Juniper glanced over at Scarlet as she slipped on a barret that I only remembered as the one that Blue Roullette wore. Even though I didn't like Roullette personally, I couldnt help but feel a little sorry for Scarlet Blaze. We had been on this journey for sometime now, yet I never even thought about what was going on in Scarlet's Mind while we went through all of this. Scarlet and Roulette spent who knows how long together, when he wasn't harassing me of course. Now the love of her life was dead.

I got about two steps out of the ward before the voice began to chime in my head.

It was official, I'm going insane.

You honestly think that a pony like Deadeyes is actually going to stay true to his word? She gave a snide laugh that made my entire body shudder. Deadeyes has no reason to not betray you, he'll have everything he needs and more. Meanwhile there would be nothing that you could do to stop him. I gritted my teeth as her voice continued buzzing in my brain.

"You sure you're okay Shamrock? Ever since you got nuked in that reactor room, you've been a little off." Scarlet trotted in front of me with a concerned stare.

"Look, I'll explain it to you later...lets just find those talismans alright?" My head felt like it was going to crack open and spill the mush that was my brain, out onto the floor.

You waste your time here Shamrock. Listen to the words of your mother. You must find tranquility, you must be made better. Real or not, she was really starting to strike quite a few nerves. I had been so caught up with the voice that I failed to notice the door right in front of me as I plowed face first into it.

"And you're positive you are ready for this Shamrock?" Juniper suppressed a laugh as I got to my hoofs and kicked the door open angrily.

"For Celestia's sake, yes! I am fine A-OK, locked and loaded, now can we just get this damn job out of the way?" I snapped as we trotted out of the facility and onto the dirt road. I began to run through the plan we had thought of in order to complete this entire ordeal. Somehow we were suppose to evade a trained snipers gunfire long enough to flush him out of a cave that we had no idea how to access. Even if we managed all of that, what would we do about the sniper?

Kill him of course. He is no better than any raider. Joy, we had managed to get about two hours into our walk with a voice free head before she decided to rear her ugly mental head. He and his comrades are the cause of your mothers death, think about that. Raiders have no morals. They are simply driven mad by the wasteland, what reasoning does the Enclave have? None. They callously murdered your mother and destroyed your home in nothing more than cold blood.

Okay, now I was really starting to hate this voice. Not because it kept preventing me from having the slightest bit of privacy or sense of normality. But because of the fact that the voice was right. What reason did the Enclave have for attacking New Hope? They only seemed to try and capture my mother...

Ah Doctor Cloverfield, how little she told you. All the more reason to find Tranquility, so that you may discover the truth behind your dear mothers final words. How did she know about that? How did she even know any of this?

Finally, Juniper interrupted my train of thought as we arrived at a large valley. The ridges were lined with numerous little pockets that would be perfect for anypony to lay in wait to ambush somepony. "This was the last known place we saw him. Keep a careful eye out."

A knot the size of a boulder formed in my stomach. I had the chilling feeling that we were all being watched.

Then came the first shot.

Chapter 5 pt 2: Hop, Skip and Jump

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The shot echoed through the canyon as it impacted just feet from us, shattering the rock that it collided against and sending shards of stone at us like miniature daggers. I turned to the others and pointed for one of the many cavern entrances that littered the canyon.

"Inside there! come one!" I looked up and drew my revolver trying to find some sort of vapor trail or something that could have been used to track our shooter. The sniper however didn't need much help trying to get a bead on us.


I doubled over onto my back as my magnum shattered into hundreds of metal shards that embedded themselves into my barding and coat. My ears were still ringing from the miniature explosion of the shots impact. Even still that shot wasn't a misfire...he was toying with us. Finally I scrambled to my feet and rushed inside the small pocket in the wall.

"How the hell are we suppose to even get up there? We don't exactly have wings and sure as hell wont have any time to climb up the sides." I growled in frustration as I kicked a rock out of the cave.

PAK yeah, fuck you too buddy.

"Well, these caves were designed for ambushes, so there must be a way to travel through them and get to the other side right?" Scarlet glanced to Juniper who examined our small cave. I squinted into the darkness and noticed a small glow. I quickly figured out that, that glow was emanating off my pale white coat. "Agh! Mind stepping back a bit Shamrock? you're starting to radiate again."

"Again? You mean he does this often?" Juniper tilted her head and reached into her pouch, levitating a packet of rad-away to me.

"Long story...basically, I'm a walking nuclear reactor." I sighed swallowing the tangy flavored fluid only to vomit it back up along with a good portion of toxic waste that glowed green. "Well, that's new." I looked down at my pipbuck to see that the radiation alarm stopped ticking for the time being at least.

"And apparently you can vomit up nuclear biohazards, you are one interesting pony Shamrock." Scarlet snickered as we continued to trot through the cave. Sure enough, the cave was more like a hallway with a winding ramp at the end of it that led to the upper level of the canyon.

"Okay, well now we know that these things are more or less connected...do you think our friend knows where we are?" I asked carefully trotting out along the side of the cave, starting to move for another tunnel.

PAK The shot narrowly missed my ear, the aftershock nearly knocking me off my perch and down thirty feet to the ground below.

"There's your answer!" Juniper bit hard on my tail and yanked me back into the tunnel. "Well, we know that he's on the other side of this canyon at least. Question now is, how exactly do we get across?"

Stupid Idea in t-minus


My horn glowed white as I looked at the other side of the canyon. It was about a forty foot gap. Give or take a few yards.

"I'm going to jump it..." I was certain though, I might be able to levitate myself in the air for just a few seconds and with any luck, those few seconds would be enough to clear the gap.

"Shamrock, please tell me you're joking." Scarlet looked at me and then at Juniper.

"I'm 3 for 3 on stupid ideas Scarlet, what is one more to a buck like me?" I smirked, stepping all the way to the back of the tunnel and got into a running stance. My vision focused on the tunnel entrance that sat on the other side of the canyon. That was my target.

"One more is going to be your death Shamrock! You're insane!" Scarlet shouted, Juniper nodded in agreement as she looked at me.

"Maybe you should listen to her Shamrock, there's no way you'll clear that ledge!" Juniper pleaded. I could do it, no sweat, just a hop skip and jump.

I bared my teeth and lowered my head, stamping my hoof into the ground as I took off at full speed. Just a hop, skip and Jump. I reached the edge of the tunnel and pushed off its side with all of my strength, closing my eyes as I channeled the rest of my energy into staying up in the...


My entire side felt as though it had been hit Atlas' monstrous hoof as I careened through the air. The world around me spun as I saw blood flying in every direction. I had no clue what condition I was in, but I could tell that it wasn't going to be pretty by the time it was over. I felt the wind (and a bit of blood) get knocked out of me as I slammed against the wall of the canyon side, having a brief moment of hang time against its side before staring down at the ground beneath me. To my fortune, there were multiple steep ledges to break my fall. However, to my misfortune, those multiple ledges broke bones along with my fall. One after the other I cringed and writhed as I heard bones shatter like clay, white hot spikes stabbing every nerve in my body just to let me know how thoroughly I fucked up.

Time slowed down in my mind; all I could see now was my mothers face, staring at me with a look of disappointment and pity. My entire life began to flash through my eyes, depicting every pitiful failure that I experienced in my existence before it suddenly showed something that I didn't quite understand. It was an image of a large facility, a once flashing neon sign that read "Tranquility".

You were made for something better Shamrock. Your time is not here...for the Goddess has much left in store for you. The voice had returned to give me one final lecture.

I watched as my mother's face disappeared and was quickly replaced with the ground as time sped up and brought me crashing down onto the unforgiving world. I laid on the gravel, my entire body left numb. The pain had become so intense that it went full circle to a simple tingle, blood trickled down numerous wounds and pooled under me. Scarlet and Juniper quickly rushed down through the tunnels and onto the valley below, speaking in distressed muffles and incoherent chatter that was too distant to understand. My blurred vision caught a small glint of metal: the muzzle of the enclave sniper's rifle. I tried to lift my head up and warn them, yet as I opened my mouth, all that came out was a shallow, raspy moan. I had become a prisoner in my dying body, forced to watch as my friends tried to bring me back. My eyes continued to follow the sniper's muzzle as he suddenly extended his wings and leaped into the air, dropping down silently behind the two of them.

He drew a pistol that looked like a smaller version of Junipers energy rifle and began to speak through clenched teeth. I watched in silence as they began to speak between one another, occasionally pointing towards my crumpled mess of a body. I tried to listen to what they were saying, yet the only thing that I could hear was the loud ringing in my ears with an occasional word getting through. Then all three of them stopped their discussion and turned to me, wide-eyed and mouths gaping. I glanced down at my chest as the green gem in it began to pulse, causing my entire body to tingle and twitch slightly. I could feel the cuts on my body begin to close up.

Something better, Shamrock... My mother's comforting voice told me as the pain that filled my body began to fade away into a small sting. I slowly got to my blood covered hoofs and looked at the Enclave pony. He immediately took a step back and slipped his helmet on.

"Shamrock...what the actual fuck did you just do?" Scarlet murmured in shock. To be honest, I had no clue either. All I knew was that I was alive and that I was going to have some long waited revenge. My pain had been replaced with a burning fury as I lunged past Juniper and Scarlet, tackling the Enclave Soldier to the ground and immediately smashing my hoofs repeatedly against his bug eyed helm.

"That's enough Shamrock! he didn't know who you were!" A light but determined voice called out from behind me. I turned my head instantly felt as though I was going collapse all over again.

"Spring Breeze? We thought you were dead..."

Footnote: Level up.

New Perk, Adamantium Skeleton: damage taken by limbs reduced by 50%

Chapter 6 Part 1: Cupcakes, 2280

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"I apologize for the uh, injuries you sustained. Though it's good to see you've made a remarkable recovery." The Enclave Pegasus removed his helm once more and folded in his wings. I wasn't sure which was harder to believe, the fact that i had just sprung back up like none of my prevous wounds ever happened; or the fact that not only Spring Breeze was alive, but so was the enclave pony we met the first day this all began.

"I could say the same thing to you. How though? I saw the crater..." I stood there looking at Spring Breeze as she sat next to the pegasus. The last i had seen either one of them, they had alledgedly been blown to pieces by a missile.

"Did you ever see a body? Or some form of remains?" The pegasus arched a brow and chuckled before holding out a hoof.
"Lance Corporal Dune, well ex corporal." He spoke with that same heavy Yiddish from the day we first met him. Just hearing it again made a knot form in my stomach all over again. I felt ready to tackle him again and start beating on his head like a drum.

"You have a lot of explaining to do..." I growled, brandishing The All-Equestrian on my back to get my point across as he sighed and nodded, sitting on his flank to tell his story.

"Yes. First off, my reason for the sudden entrance: I was trying to warn you of the Enclave's impending attack on your town. However, most likely one of your guard ponies, shot my wing and caused me to crash into your greenhouse." He began as Scarlet Blaze trotted forward, getting into the story now.

"So you came to warn us, cool, but why were they even coming to attack us in the first place?" She gave him a questioning glance. Dune shook his head and raised his shoulders.

"Even I am not sure, though I'm starting to believe your friend here has something to do with it." Dune trotted up to me and pressed his hoof against the gem that was melted into my chest (which still hurt like a bitch by the way). "I do not know the full details, only that we were in search of a mare known as Dr. Cloverfield and her so called "catalyst". You spoke of her as your mother back in your town when you first found me, yes?" So that rumor was true, they had come for her.

I nodded and sat on my flank staring at the green gem imbedded in me. "So you're saying I'm this so called catalyst?" Scarlet and I both exchanged glances between one another, returning them to Dune for more answers.

"Possibly. You see, your mother is part of a splinter group from an experimental branch of scientists we had originally trusted on the surface. We called them Tranquility..." My eyes widened the moment he said that name. "They had been working on something that was known only as, the "God Talisman". The purpose or use behind it, they would never tell us. That was when we lost all contact with the scientists and began to hunt down those that were a part of this project." He looked to me with a solemn expression. "Your mother was a part of that Project, meaning that you must hold some role in it as well."

"Well, I know I'm out of the loop and all, but can we please focus on the task at hand?" Juniper asked, scowling at Dune now and stepping forward. "Water talismans, you took them. We need them." My mind had completely blanked from the actual reason we had come here. Then again, I wasn't even entirely sure what talismans were. All that I knew was that the water ones were supposed to purify even some of the foulest of water. So what did a "God" talisman do?

Dune chuckled softly and looked at Juniper. "Enclave I may be, but I am no thief. I didn't steal anything more then a few bits of medical supply for Spring Breeze and I." Juniper didn't seem to buy what he was selling and began to step closer, drawing her weapon before Spring Breeze stepped in front of him again.

"But we might have an idea as to who did take them." Spring Breeze clarified and started to trot towards a wrecked caravan wagon. The wagon had been picked clean of anything valuable. Even the bodies had been moved, leaving behind splotches of dried blood and a few bits of brain matter on the ground. "We saw someone, or something, come by and drag away the bodies and supplies. It must have taken the talismans as well." Great, so the water talismans could be anywhere in Equestria by now.

"We can take you to where we last saw the thing. Though don't expect to find much." Dune clarified as he adjusting his damaged suit. I still didn't understand why anypony would be willing to help us, especially the pony that was part of the reason everything I cared about was burnt ash. At this point I wasn't really going to question any of it and instead just let it happen.

Everypony got re-equipped and prepared. After I puked up another radioactive waste-ball I levitated Reprisal from my holster and examined it, now I was only down to one pistol and the All-Equestrian. Not that having just those two was a hindrance, but I had finally learned how to dual wield both Reprisal and Vindicta.

We followed them down the path, walking past the pool of blood where I had once been. It felt...un-nerving, to see my own blood on the ground. If it wasn't for whatever the hell was keeping me alive, there would have been more then just my blood laying there. I was glad to be alive but even still, the thought of how I could have. No, should have, died there.

You were made for something better Shamrock Oh hello darkness my old friend. If only that could have been removed along with the few pints of blood I had splattered across the canyon.

You are a key to many doorways Shamrock, ones that can lead to many different places. Great, just what I needed right now, more cryptic metaphors.

A key that many ponies wish to have their hoofs on. Ponies such as the Enclave. Of course, because they were so careful in making sure they didn't accidentally burn me to ash along with the rest of the town.

The doors that are opened are yours to choose. Some lead to tranquility, others to oblivion.

Great, where's the door back to when things were normal in my life?

"Well, here we are. Like I said, there isn't much left." Dune motioned to the wrecked caravan. Two large beats of burden laid dead on the ground, yet no signs of any cargo or even the ponies that were delivering whatever had been in the crates. Still, how did we know he wasn't just trying to cover his tracks? It wasn't that I didn't trust him, but he was the pony that more or less ruined my entire life in a matter of minutes.

"Hey I think I found something!" Juniper called out and waved for us to come other. She pointed a hoof at the dirt at the end of the wreckage. Okay, she was making zero sense. Then I finally saw what she was pointing at.

Drag marks in the dirt: someone or something must have taken the bodies somewhere, and these tracks were going to lead us to just that place. "Nice work Juniper, come on lets go check this out..." I took the lead and followed the imprint in the dirt towards one of the caves. The entrance had been blocked off by a small wooden door with strange green moss growing off the sides of it. This was where the trail had led us...and we weren't liking that.

"So the talismans are in there?" Scarlet knocked on the door as it slowly creaked open. I was getting flashbacks of Stable 24 all over again as the crusty scent of mold flew free from the cavern.

"If I say no do we have to go inside still?" Juniper gave a weak chuckle at her joke as we trotted single file down the tunnel, the dim glow from our pipbuck's light illuminated the small pathway. The deeper into the tunnel we went, the more strange fungus and moss we saw. Scarlet's pipbuck began to tick every so often as we trotted past an occasional opened vat of toxic waste.

"For the love of Celestia, how deep does this thing go?" I growled in frustration before hearing a loud Twang. Then we were showered in multiple pieces of tiny metal. No...not just metal pieces. Grenade spoons.

"Shit, move!" Dune shouted, spreading his wings and leaping down the dark tunnel ahead as we all hit the dirt. The entire cavern erupted in flames around us, which should have incinerated every last one of us. Except...we were still alive? Hell we hadn't even been touched by shrapnel? Our ears rang as I slowly opened my eyes to catch a glimpse of a glowing purple wisp vanish, though not before illuminating the massive Stable doors before us.

You were made for something better Because the constant ringing in my ears from the explosion wasn't a big enough of a headache? We finally got ourselves situated from the blast as what sounded like an intercom rang out.

"Oh good, more friends? Do come in! We were just getting things set up for a very special occasion!" A jittery mares voice giggled creepily over the intercom, the giant Stable Tech. logo began to spin and open wide with a loud metallic creek.

"This has bad written all over it..." Dune muttered as the lights sparked and fluttered on with a low buzzing sound that made the hairs on all of our coats stick up. Then we actually saw what was inside of the stable...

"Life is a party?" Scarlet looked at the words painted in red across the walls.

"I'm so glad to have new friends here! The last bunch I invited didn't like the party and they tried to leave..." The jittery mare sighed as one of the lights flickered on brightly to reveal multiple bodies piled together in a pile of flesh and bones. Torn, blood-covered. Guess those words weren't written in paint then... "Dead bodies don't leave though...you wont leave will you?"

We immediately turned and rushed for the door only to see as it slammed shut and sealed with a hiss. I guess we weren't leaving anytime soon...

Or at all. The jittery mare on the intercom gasped as she saw us try to escape, Juniper was already trying to open the door back up from the control panel. "She's overridden the door controls, we're going to have to manually unlock them from the Overmare's office." she growled in frustration and kicked the control with a hoof before we all turned towards the sound of claws scraping against metal.

"How rude of you, we invite you into our home with open hoofs and this is how you show your thanks?" The mare growled over the intercom. She then started making a goddess awful shriek that made my ears vibrate down to my hoofs. The scraping began to grow louder and numerous as the hall in front of us was filled with shrieks of a similar nightmarish form.

"What the actual fuck are those!?!?" Scarlet aimed her rifle down the hallway as several strange looking creatures rushed out. They stood about as tall as a normal pony. Except they looked nothing like ponies, they were covered in nothing but green moss and fungus. Their teeth were razor sharp and had no visible eyes, but they sure as hay knew that we were there as one leapt forward only to be blasted apart by Dune's gauss rifle, coating all of us in nasty green spores.

The strange spore creatures began to double guess themselves until another got the courage to rush forward only to have its head splattered in a shower of gelatinous green goo. After the first two bit the dust, most of the others looked at one another and scattered down the hallways while the intercom rang again, only this time the mare was crying "Wh-what are you doing to my friends!?!? Y-you monsters!

Right, we were the monsters here. I stepped forward and shouted up at the ceiling. "If you don't want us to hurt your 'friends' then just open the doors and let us go!" One of these days I'm going to learn to not piss off ponies that I can't see or anticipate what they have up their sleeves. The lights flickered off once more and we were bathed in the dim green glow once more. My ears perked up at the sound of hissing once more. This time, however, it wasn't coming from the monsters and it certainly not coming from the stable doors either.

It took just one quick breath before we were all suddenly coughing and stumbling around in the mist that quickly surrounded us all. The noxious fumes burnt my lungs and made my mouth feel dry as everything began to spin around us. My limbs felt like they were made of paper as I crumpled to the floor with a light thud. None of us could move a muscle while we gagged on the emissions. Good news: we weren't dying. Bad news: we were probably going to soon. The sounds of hissing began to halt as more of the creatures began to snarl and emerge.

"Leave? Why would you want to leave so early? You didn't even get to enjoy the festivities!" The mare began to laugh maniacally while her friends gripped us in their grimy claws and hauled us off down the hallways. "We were just going to play a few games and have some cupcakes!" The mare giggled with delight while she began to sing about cupcakes over the intercom.

Chapter 6 Part 2: Immolation

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I was really beginning to hate being inside Stables. For places that were suppose to ensure the survival of ponies, I dont really think this was what the developers had in mind. the large spore creatures dragged our paralyzed bodies down the hallway and into one of the rooms.

"Recreational room? Is this where we're going to be playing all those fun games?" I asked sarcastically, originally not expecting an answer, but when I heard the intercom mare's gleeful giggles, I immediately regretted being such a smartass. Intestines were draped from the upper floor like streamers while the walls were decorated in multiple...Oh goddesses.

The walls were covered with various patches of fur, specifically the torn off cutiemarks from other ponies. "Like it? Thats what I call: the Wall of Fame! For all the good ponies that were the best at the game!" That was what happened to the good ponies?

"What happens to the ponies that are bad at the...games?" Scarlet asked quietly only to be answered with another creepy giggle.

"Who wants cupcakes!?!? I made them myself!" Immedatiately, three of her weird spore things crawled away and returned with a full platter of various colored cupcakes. They looked alright to me, nothing too out of the ordinary. A swirled topping of icing with both chocolate and vanila cake on the bottom. Though the fact some of the others were, strange colors was what had the others concerned. Of course, me being me; I snatched up one and took a bite, only to have the back of neck judo chopped by Juniper to cough it back up.

"Pffft! GAH! Thanks for the whiplash Juniper." I wheezed, smacking my lips to try and at least get a taste of what was left in my mouth. Again, I'm not exactly one to think first. Thankfully, the fact I wasnt paralyzed anymore (nor was Juniper apparently), meant that things were alright for now. If being held hostage by a psycho mare and her fungus monsters in a stable of horror could be considered alright.

"Well, they arent poisonous and they don't taste that bad." Dune muttered as he got to his feet. The mare clapped her hoofs together in applause over the intercom.

"Oh, do you mean it?" She giggled gleefully, Dune had begun to step closer towards the source of the voice.

"Of course, Ms..." He cocked his head and looked up at one of the corners in the room.

"Red Velvet" She chirped happily before Dune suddenly extended his wings and leaped at the corner, turning in mid air and bucking against the hidden intercom with his armored hoofs.

The sudden silence of their master apparently didn't bode to well with the fungus monsters as they snarled and lunged after Dune. Fortunately for us, we had the numbers in this brawl for once and immediately dog-piled onto the monsters and began to beat into them. I never realized that S.A.T.S worked with more than just guns, even with just my bare hoofs I was able to target vital sections of the creatures body. My first blow was a simple hoof stomp down on to the back of the creatures head, shuddering slightly as it let out a parting shriek when its neck and back of its skull crumpled like a clay vase.

"That should buy us some time, we need to get to the Overmare's office." Dune crushed the second spore creature's head underhoof. Sure enough, the wails and shrieks of an enraged psycho pony roared through the hallways from neighboring intercoms.

"The creatures weren't carrying our weapons. Do you think they just left them back at the entrance of the stable where we dropped them?" I looked back to Scarlet who gave me a shrug of her shoulders.

"Your guess is as good as ours Shamrock." She grimaced at the green mucus and brain matter that was glomped onto her hoof while the rest of us glanced down the hall to the sounds of crying and rage. We could take on two or three with just our hoofs, but who knew how many of these things were down here. Judging from the echoing chorus of nightmare fuel, I would guess more than I wanted to deal with right now.

"Agh! Get your grimy paws off me ya bloody putzes!" A new voice cawwed from down the dimmly lit corridor.

"Good, a distraction. Come on lets move." Dune waved is hoof for us to follow, only to have his tail yanked back by SpringBreeze and Juniper.

"We need to help them! We cant jus leave the buck to die!" Spring demanded and already began to run in the opposite direction of us and into the heart of the commotion. We charged into the second recreation room to find the distressed voice. It was a black gryphon with a white plume, practically twice my own size. He gripped a fungus monster in his claws and ripped it in half as the doors slammed shut behind us.

The mare' voice returned through the intercom, pleased to have us contained again and now with a new friend.
"All around the appletree, the griffon fought the robots! The gryphon thought all was fun POP!" A door within the room opened up and revealed a large turret pointed in our direction. The missile screeced through the makeshift arena and down the hallway towards us. Grazing just the tip of our tails as it impacted a few meters behind us. "Aw I missed...Oh well, guess you can play with him too! I'll give you guys some time to prepare! And remember to always have fun and die!"

"Why do I put myself in these situations?" I whimpered as a second door opened. Inside the small room, were all of our weapons as well as the weapons of our feathered friend. Up close I could see he was covered in scars, most of which seemed to be fresh. The most disturbing of these wounds however were his wings, the tips of his wings had been clipped in half.

"So, which one of you is first?" The griffon snarled, raising his talons to us before another missile grazed by us and erupted on the side of the wall. The blast shook the entire room and knocked most of us to the floor as the rest of the doors opened to let in numerous security bots. Each had an arsenal of weapons, from saw blades to magical energy cannons and flamethrowers.

"How about we take care of those then figure out who to kill afterwards big guy?" I offered as energy beams seared the air around us. I quickly grabbed the All-Equestrian and dove behind a knocked over pool table. By now we had all been separated behind various forms of cover from the out of control machines. Already I could smell the table I was behind slowly begin to burn and melt from the constant barrage of magical energy. I slipped a magazine into my carbine and quickly popped my head over the top and slid into S.A.T.S. "Well, they are hitting these things, but not exactly killing them." I gave a frustrated shout as the bullets pinged harmlessly off their armor.

"Aim for the cogitator, right by the neck! If you destroy the cogitator they will go haywire!" Juniper shouted from across the room. One of her energy rifles beams managed to pierce through the small wiring just below the head of the robot, causing it to spin and spark out of control before finally bursting into flames and shrapnel.

"Or just punch them really, really hard!" The griffon shouted, his talons were covered in sparking metal gloves that ripped clean through one of the Securitron's chest like tissue paper. So glad he was on our side, at least for the time being. My shifted attention however, ended up being rewarded with a column of fire launched at my side.

Have you ever been on fire before? I suggest you don't try it, its not fun in any way shape or form. I let out a blood curdling shriek as I rolled across the metal floor, my barding and flesh, roasting together to form an un-pleasant odor that made my nose cringe. I suddenly felt the fire begin to dissipate from my body as I looked up at the ceiling. Apparently my combusted body was enough to set off the fire alarms within the stable.

Our ears perked up and turned to the loud creaking noise of all the doors opening up. Every form of robot and spore creature had been released from their containment when the doors were unlocked, along with the door out of here.

"NO! YOU CANT LEAVE! YOU WILL NEVER GET OUT! NEVER! I'LL SPLAY YOUR GUTS ACROSS THE FLOOR FOR MY CUPCAKES!" Splay our....? Oh goddesses, that was what's inside of those things?!?!? I would have thrown up had I not been whisked away through the door by Scarlet.

"Come on! Let's get out of here!" She shouted, as the Griffon cleared a path down the hallways.

"The Overmare's office is this way! Move!" He shouted, flapping his clipped wings to give himself a small boost as he lunged into the next securitron.

"Are you sure?" Spring Breeze gave a skeptical glance to him. We had run into a stairway that lead downward. Into water.

"Afraid of a little water?" He asked looking back as a Securitrons voice began to echo from down the hallway.

"You are violating a security zone, use of lethal force is imminent"

"y-yes." She murmured, taking a step back. "I can't swim." The Securitrons drew closer and closer towards us, already beginning to ignite their flamethrowers.

"We can fight them. Then find another way out of here." Dune stepped in front of Spring Breeze as the griffon simply sighed and turned to the water.

"Your funerals." He quickly dove in along with Juniper. The robots continued to repeat their warnings as they grew in numbers and closed the distance. Then, I found myself doing something I never thought I would ever do. I jumped into the water, pulling Scarlet in along with me who in return grabbed hold of Dune in surprise. I opened my eyes just in time to see the wall of flames engulf Spring Breeze, her muffled screams warped through the murky water of the stable, her body writhing around in pain before finally stopping. She was actually dead...the first time I thought she had died, everything was so chaotic I couldn't really comprehend what had happened, but now? I felt like I had all the time in the world to soak it all in.

I was snapped back into reality as I was plucked from the water by a large claw, the rest of the group had found a small air pocket in one of the flooded rooms. Everyone was silent. At least up until Dune suddenly emerged and lashed out at the griffon.

"This is all your fucking fault! You fucking left her to die!" He screeched at the top of his lungs before being restrained by all 3 of us. The griffon simply shrugged.

"It isn't his fault Dune! Calm down!" I pleaded, holding him back with my hoofs as he suddenly turned and shoved me up against a wall.

"You're right, this is your fault! I should have just fucking killed you when I had the chance! Maybe then she would have still be alive! Maybe then, I wouldn't have been pulled under by you!" He hissed angrily, tears beginning to well in his eyes. He was right...she was dead because of me. I had left her to die, because of my cowardice. One of my friends was now dead...

Dune was once again yanked away as the griffon shrugged his shoulders and looked down at the water again. "First off, call me Scorched. Second, fight less and swim more. This pocket of air isn't going to last us much longer so take a deep breath and lets go find the bitch that brought us all here in the first place." Without a word to one another we all took one final breath and dove back under the water.

Whenever we get to the Overmare's office, you can bet. There will be blood.

Footnote: Level Up.

New Perk Hit the deck: reduced damage from explosions

Chapter 7 Part 1: Isolation

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Drowning is probably by far the worst way to die. I should know, having experienced several near death encounters, this is probably the most terrifying out of the bunch. I was swimming in the back of the group, dwelling on past actions that had led up to this while the rest of the group swam ahead of me. Yet like any other time I began to dwell and drift off into thought, somepony or something would always be there to toss me back onto my train of thought. This time unfortunately it was a something...

One of the spore creatures must have been trapped in this room when it had first started to flood with water and sure didn't seem to be hindered by the lack of air like I was at the moment as its serrated jaw bit down on my hoof and pulled me away from the group. I let out a muffled cry of distress that only brought up bubbles to blot out my vision of my friends continuing on without me. By the time they would reach the other side of the hall or to another pocket of air, it would be far too late for everyone to go "Where's Shamrock?".

There was nobody to save me, my healing would be completely useless against drowning as my lungs slowly started to beg for air that would never come. The murky green water soon began to change into a deep red as I struggled in a pool of my own blood to break free from the pinned creature.

Terror and desperation filled my mind as I tried to fight off the inevitable end that began to darken around my peripherals. I un-holstered reprisal as fast as I could and pressed it to my bloody and gnarled hoof. The creature still had a death grip of a large chunk of flesh that hung from the bone of my leg as I shoved the barrel to its nose and pulled the trigger in hope that it wouldn't jam.




The creatures splattered brains and riddled corpse went limp and let go, floating to the top of the hall along with my lower left hoof. Yet it was all a vain attempt at staving off the end. My vision became a dark murky tunnel of red as the last of my breath escaped me, a small glint of bright purple filling my eyesight before it all went dark.

"Something better Shamrock, you were made for something better."

"Oh goody you aren't dead yet!" A deranged giggling mare squeed, her coat was a bright white like his own though with far more splotches of dried blood than him. Her eyes were bloodshot and red much like her mane which was, you guessed it, red as well. "I was worried you weren't going to wake up while I was playing doctor!" Her cracked horn levitated a pair of rusted scissors and motioned towards my chest. multiple scars covering it as she dropped the scissors in exchange for a large rusty knife. "You seem to have a sparkly little gem in your chest, don't worry. Doctor Red Velvet will gladly take care of that!" She gave a cruel grin and cackle before plunging the knife into my chest and began to try and pry the gem out of its indention in my sternum.

"N-no let's not do tha-AGH! FUCKING HAYSEEDS!" I tried to move away only to find myself strapped down to a gurney before there came a gut wrenching crunch as the knife began to wriggle around and pry out the bloody gem from its cage, letting it clank to the ground, tearing out some of the melted necklace from the fur on my coat that had grown over it. I gagged and vomited up what little I had left in my stomach onto the floor, watching as the radioactive sludge melted the floor beneath it as Red Velvet shook her head.

"Now look, there went your lunch. Lucky for you, I was able to make a fresh batch of cupcakes for you!" She pulled the knife from my bleeding chest and levitated a tray of bright yellow cupcakes. "They are a little crispy I know but they still taste fabulous!" She lifted one up with a hoof and took a bite out of the pastry making me want to throw up. Yet rather than throw up, my stomach growled hungrily. I hadn't eaten in days and even that was looking appetizing. She waved the tray in front of my mouth as I found myself reluctantly trying to snag a bite of it. "Just a quick lunch break? I'll even let you wash it down with a nice healing potion and water." She cooed as she levitated a yellow cupcake in front of my muzzle once more.

Tears had begun to well in my eyes as I broke down, crying as I took a bite. The lemony tang covered most of the coppery truth behind them as my stomach beckoned for another while my mind and heart screamed at me to stop as she force fed me another. No, she wasn't force feeding me them...I was willingly eating this nightmare food. I tried to fight my instincts and heave up the cupcakes I had just ingested, yet I couldn't bring myself to let go of the first "food" I had received in what felt like forever. Tears fell down my face like a river. "I-I-I-I'm sorry Breeze!" I stuttered hysterically as Red Velvet grinned and turned away to set the tray down.

"See, weren't those yummy? I wonder how the rest of your group will taste...we'll find out once they come out of hiding." She grinned starting to trot away. "I'll be back to give you further treatment later dear. Just lay back and relax" She cooed before the door closed behind her. I could accept dying in a pool of my own blood at the bottom of a canyon. I could accept being eaten by a giant insect queen. I could accept bleeding out from multiple gunshot wounds in the middle of town. All because in those situations, I had my friends with me. I had Scarlet by my side to let me it was going to be alright...but now? I was alone. My friends were who knows where in this godforsaken stable. I tried to use my horn yet with my head being forced to stair up at the scum covered ceiling I couldn't even see what I was levitating with my horn. I had to get out, someway, somehow, I had to get out of this. I wasn't going to die like this. I wasn't going to die alone.

I suddenly fixated onto the straps of my table, physically I was in too bad of a shape to muscle out of them. Yet if I could just get a good grip with my magic...I closed my eyes and began to strain myself, focusing on the straps as I began to feel nauseous from using so much of my strength to little avail as I once again vomited. Though this time the acidic regurgitation had the misfortune of covering my own limbs, burning through both the straps and my flesh as I pulled myself away from the restraints. I had managed to melt through the straps covering my fore hoofs, sitting up and groaning as I stared at my splayed leg. Thinking of the most grotesque thoughts I could imagine, which with the most recent events in the past week? Wasn't very hard and I soon found myself coughing up another volatile salvo onto my restraints. I gritted my teeth and fought back more tears as the acidic bile seeped into the exposed flesh of my cut open leg before I finally rolled off the table and onto the floor with a thud.

I could barely walk. Even if I had all of my legs in working order, the pain from my chest wound flared up with every step as I looked at the small green gem that was once buried in my chest cavity. I shakily levitated the gem into my utility barding's bandolier and pressed forward towards the potion Red Velvet had left on the operating table. Even as I chugged down the potion all it had done was close up the stab wound in my chest and partially mend my flayed leg while I continued to limp for the door, taking a bone saw with me until I could find out where the rest of my arsenal had been hidden. The hallway was eerily quiet except for my shaky hoof steps; in front of me glowed two signs pointing in different directions. "Overmare's office...to the left." I was in no condition for a full scaled fight, but I was determined to finish off this maniac right here and right now.

"Come on out you guys, don't worry about your unicorn friend, he's safe and sound with me. Ready to play plenty of games with me once we've dealt with you." She giggled psychotically from over the intercom as it rang through the hallways. Her deranged banter continued to lead me closer and closer down the hallway towards her. "There is no point in hiding from me, you're trapped in here for as long as I want to keep playing with you. And I intend on playing with you until you break." The door to her office opened up with a click as I limped in.

"You should really learn to lock up...don't want bad ponies getting in." I growled and levitated the bone saw in the air above her as she stumbled back against the intercom, causing a loud screech of feedback to be broadcasted as she stuttered with pure fear in her eyes.

"N-no, please don't touch me! N-not again! Not again! You promised you would leave me after you had your way!" She begged and began to cry hysterically yet it wasn't towards me. Her gaze was locked at someone who wasn't there. as the jagged teeth of the saw came down, slamming into her neck with a wet thunk. Red Velvet screamed in pain as blood sprayed from her wound, writhing on the ground as the saw was ripped from its entrenchment in her neck only to slam back down into it with another spray of crimson and screaming.

Kill Was all I could think of, all I cared to think about as I pulled back for another swing into her neck.

Thunk. Down went the saw once more. Then again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Her head had been savagely hacked from her neck, the bone sticking out; mutilated and raw as the scent of fresh blood filled the air. I stood over her corpse waiting to be returned to my proper mindset until I realized, much like the cupcakes. I had done this willingly, I showed no form of mercy and butchered her without a single care. What was worse was that doing this had felt...

Good...I had avenged the death of Spring Breeze along with all the torment this mare had put us through. This wasn't murder. It was vengeance, swift and proper.

The cameras within the office were covered with a fresh coat of blood. Yet as the blood dripped down the screen I could see my friends looking up at something. They were staring at the cameras, frozen in fear as I saw the reason why. Red Velvet's hoof was still on the button for the intercom, letting them know of her fate. I stared down at her decapitated corpse, her white coat just like my own. I then stared at the bloodstains, just like my own... A small glint of purple then changed my focus to a silver object. On one of the consoles rested my pistol, its name in plain sight for me to read.


Footnote: Level Up.
New Perk, when in Sneak mode, you gain the option to eat a corpse to regain Health. But every time you feed, you lose Karma, and if the act is witnessed, it is considered a crime against nature.

Chapter 7 Part 2: Fair Pay

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"Wh-what did I do?" My adrenaline rush had started to fade away like a bad hangover. My limbs ached and my body felt like it was crumbling apart at the seems. The flash of purple shot across my vision again as the voice returned to its happy home inside my head.

"You evolved, slowly but not exactly subtly" She chuckled casually while I stared at Red Velvet's mutilated corpse. I could barely stand to look at her, yet I couldn't look away. The stench of a freshly killed corpse, normally would have made my stomach do flips. Her blood and organs had been spilled out onto the floor in a red heap of gore.

"Evolved? I don't feel any different, unless I evolved into a shittier feeling buck..." At this point in time, I had come to accept that the voice was either something else, or a trauma induced figment of my imagination that was just here to stay.

"Physically, no. Your mind however has developed just as the goddess has planned. You're meshing quite nicely into the wasteland. The Goddess was right in choosing you." She let out a blissful sigh and went silent to leave me in a state of confusion.

The goddess was right in choosing me? For what exactly? It felt as though the more and more this voice spoke to me, the more questions were left unanswered. One other unanswered question was what had happened to me regeneration? I cringed and looked down at my leg, hoping to find it healed and good as new. Of course, it wasn't. My leg remained a mangled stump of torn flesh and bone, the hoof was unhinged and scraping against the ground with every step, sending scorching pins and needles throughout my whole body.

"Figures, the moment I realize I have a life saving ability is the moment I lose it for good..." I huffed under my breath before hearing the echoing clop of hooves across the ground. I levitated Reprisal at the door and prepared to fire when Scarlet immediately came in and gasped loudly.

"Wow, here I thought you were just a typical stable pony. You fucked that bitch up pretty well." Scorched Talon chuckled as he looked at the corpse. Juniper, while avoiding eye contact with the mess on the floor, approached the terminal and began to scroll through the logs.

"Hey everypony, listen to this. You may find this interesting." She cleared her throat and began to read through the terminal log of the Overmare.

Stable-Tec Computers Version 8.1 Personnel Computer Division Model 8.7 Date File Modified 8.15.2250

We've been given a clearance to begin experiments on living test subjects. I have already given the green light to the head of the medical ward. She may not approve of using our own stable personnel, but in all honesty I couldn't care less. There is too much at stake to let morals get in the way of what may be one of the greatest strides in medicinal and scientific history since the creation of the Megaspell. We have already prepared to send a few representatives out into the wasteland to find Stables 24, 62 and 58. With our joint efforts as well as the support of Dr. Cloverfield of New Hope, we can construct the God Talisman within a few decades...and hopefully we will be able to restart this world. We can restart it all from year zero. This project is such a grand task, that even the Grand Pegasus Enclave has begun to offer technological supplies to aid us as well.

"Look at the year this file was made...that's only a few years ago Shamrock. This stable was still active until...something happened here." I was at a loss for words; Was this where my mother had been wandering off to all the time? Running through the wasteland between these different stables? Not only that, but another disturbing name rose up in the end. The Grand Pegasus Enclave.

"Are there anymore of these logs?" Scarlet spoke up, staring wide eyed at the screen beside me. Juniper nodded her head and brought up another log.

Stable-Tec Computers Version 8.1 Personnel Computer Division Model 8.7 Date File Modified 5.23.2257

There was a radiation leak this week that got into the test subjects chambers. The mixture of the various prototype talismans with the subjects resulted in rather...unexpected mutations. Hooves were mutilated and replaced with grotesque appendages, blood replaced with what seemed to be chlorophyll, and their entire bodies were covered in a strange green moss. Not only that, but they seem to make a strange screeching noise to communicate. This transformation took less than a few days to undergo on nearly all of our subjects. Thankfully none of our data was altered and testing shall begin once more as soon as we can seal up the leak. I find it a rather strange coincidence that just a few weeks into using the Enclave's "master crafted" technology, that an accident would occur. I've heard about what they did before. Why they're up in the clouds now and quite frankly I don't trust the fact that they have scientists involved in this program. Either way, it isn't my place to question. Not that I could even do anything about it if I wanted.

Dune had become eerily silent as we continued to read through the logs. By now all of us were focused on the screen, except for Talon. He was pretty content with roaming around the room in search of just about any form of loot he could get his claws on while we continued to read ahead

Stable-Tec Computers Version 8.1 Personnel Computer Division Model 8.7 Date File Modified 2.5.2260

Those idiots. Those fucking jar headed, short sighted idiots. The Grand Pegasus has begun what they call, "tying up loose ends". We've already lost contact with Stable 62. All of our hard work, a full decade worth of research and experimentation. All the ponies that gave their lives for this...this wretched talisman. Crushed! CRUSHED! We were so close to finding the final key! I just know it! If the Enclave could just give us some more time, we can finish our work! So that we can give all of Equestria its fair pay.

The pieces were starting to slowly fall into place, I could feel as if the voice in my head was quietly snickering inside of my brain while the logs continued to blow my mind apart. I was almost afraid to read the final log that was waiting to be opened up for one final time.

Stable-Tec Computers Version 8.1 Personnel Computer Division Model 8.7 Date File Modified 8.15.2262

Dr. Cloverfield came by one last time. She had a colt with her...apparently it was the only thing she could salvage from Stable 62. She warned us that the Enclave would be coming for us next and that we should leave before they arrived. We cant leave now, not yet. Not after we are so close to success. I gave her the most recent prototype, to take care of it should anything happen to us before we finish the final design. You were made for something better sh !@#%$#@^&()_!#+!%"!#$}{::@#!{:$}:#{!@}%:{@!#$:^%}!#${^:!{$#^:@}${#^:@{%^:@{$}:@{:%@$}{:%@${}:%@{^^*&:*{#^{$%:@$}{%:@${#%:$#@{^^&&{*:$!}{:12%%&526":#@!^^!^@$
!^^6!^&7714!$^*7858%@^^^^@#@%$!!!#$$#^&& [DATA CORRUPTED]

The words began to warp as it constantly began to spam the same [DATA CORRUPTED] message until Juniper exited out of the logs of the Overmare's terminal.

"That's all that she wrote...what do you guys make of that?" Juniper looked back to us. I wasn't sure which questions were answered and which just opened up into more questions now. Scarlet looked to me with the exact same combined look of revelation and confusion.

"We have to find those missing Stables..." I said simply, standing up to only sit back down when I tried to step on my splintered hoof. Scarlet gave me a healing potion and began to wrap my stump leg before standing back up and sighing.

"We still have our current mission at hand...finding those Water Talismans." Scarlet looked to the terminal and then over at Dune who had finally began to speak up. I already didn't have much trust in the Pegasus, even if he were friends with Spring Breeze. He was hiding something from us and I wanted to know what.

"The water filtration systems. That's where we will most likely find a few Talismans." He spoke calmly and already began to walk before Scorched Talon cleared his throat.

"There's also the fact of our weapons? I don't know about yall, but I paid a pretty cap for my gear. Any ideas on where we'll find that?" He grumbled as he looked down at us all.

"Well, if this is layered out like the other stables, with any luck the armory was where your missing weapons are." I said with a little bit of confidence. I was glad to have at least some questions answered. Even if they led to more puzzles, at least now we had some sort of goal to follow. A trail of breadcrumbs to reveal what has happened.

"Well then, lets get going. I'm sick and tired of being in this moss covered shithole" Scorched huffed and began to make his way to the door. Pretty soon we would all get the answers we needed.

Soon, we would get our fair pay...

Footnote: Level Up.

New Perk: Retention, Skill magazines have a longer duration

Chapter 8 part 1: Into the depths

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"So can someone please enlighten me, as to why we're heading further down into this hell hole rather than leaving?" Scorched grunted with an annoyed tone. To be completely honest, I was surprised that he was even willing to stay with us after all the shit we had been through. Then again, we still had to find the rest of our weapons and gear first; maybe that was all that he was waiting for. Could we trust him to not turn on us once he got his guns back? The way he was capable of clawing through steel like tissue paper made me hope that we wouldn't have to find out what they could do to flesh anytime soon.

"Because if this Stable is built anything like the one we had been in before, the armory should be found deep inside the compound by the head of securities office. " Scarlet Blaze stated while she finished bandaging up my stump leg. One of the other things to add onto my growing list of Things that concern me greatly, was the fact that I had lost my ability to regenerate. Figures, the moment I find out that I'm potentially an immortal pony is the same moment that potential immortality decides to stop working. Meaning I was stuck with a gem shaped hole in my chest and a leg without a hoof.

"Not only that, but we still have our job to find the missing talismans, or at the least get some new ones so that we can buy back a friend of ours out of slavery." I added in while I hobbled behind the rest of the group. If we were going to go through all of this mayhem and suffering, we might as well finish what we started.

"Even if you are finishing what was never truly something you had to be involved in?" And yet another thing to add onto the list. I had hoped that the voice was somehow connected to the gem and with it no longer being lodged inside of my chest; the voice would have been no longer in my head. Sadly this is not the case. "You waste your time being the pawn of others Shamrock, your destiny lies elsewhere, you were made for something better than this." If i had a cap for every time this thing had sad that, I could probably buy Equestria by this point.

"Anyone else noticing that we haven't encountered any of those spore things?" Dune said what was most likely on everyone else's mind as stopped to look around the desolate hallways. We had been walking for almost ten minutes and there wasn't even the slightest bit of resistance or even any sign of life aside from our own.

"Yeah, it's so quiet down here. Makes me almost wish that a few of the critters would come out and attack us rather than leave us in suspense." Juniper nodded her head while her eyes darted around the dimly lit corridors. Waiting for something to come jumping out from hiding behind a corner or burst out of the air ducts.

"I think we are getting close to the head of security's office" Scarlet muttered, stopping in her tracks and looking back to the rest of us.

"And why would you think that?" I made the fool's mistake of asking the ever so fateful question. Our heads swiveled in unison to the sound of metallic hooves clanking against the floor as a machine spoke in its deep monotone voice.

"You arrrrrrrrrrrrre v-v-violating- security zone. Use of lethal force is i-i-i-imminent"

"Call it a hunch." Scarlet's ears flattened on her head as we all turned to see a sputtering security pony stumbling towards us. Even with its constant death threats, whenever it tried to raise its saddle mounted armaments, they would only spark and whir in protest.

Finally after sometime, Juniper was the first to take a step forward towards the machine.

"Juniper! Are you trying to get yourself deep fried?!?! Get away from the thing!" Scarlet shouted as we all stood and watched as the two met. The machine simply stood there and glared at her with its one glowing red eye.

"You are violating a se-se-security zone. Use of lethal f-"

BANG Juniper turned around and suddenly bucked the machine in its jaw, causing it to fizzle out and collapse to the floor with a loud thud. Carefully, she began to open up its exposed panel and started to go through the wiring and other parts of the machine.

"Uh, Jun. What are you doing exactly?" I raised a brow and looked over her shoulder to watch as she disconnected then reconnected various wires. She stood there in her strange trance like concentration while she worked for a good five minutes before she finally stepped back.

"That should just about do it" She muttered, knocking the securitron's hull with a hollow thunk.

"Do what exactly?" I continued to question. Finally, the machine's eye turned back on and shambled to its hooves and gazed down at us. It flexed out its vast array of weapons and immediately glared them down at me before it finally spoke.

"Good afternoon, Dooooctorrrrrr. Red Vel-vel-velvet. Can I assist you, you, you iiiiiiin any way?" I stepped back in alarm as it spoke then looked around to see who it was exactly referring to. Then I finally looked down to see all the blood that was now encrusted into my matted and ruined coat.

"O-oh...right. Um. Can you help direct us to the armory? S-sir? Mam? Thing?" I did my best impersonation of the crazed doctor, though from hearing the snickers and giggles of my friends, I had the strangest feeling that voice recognition wasn't exactly a thing these bots were programmed to have as it processed my words in its head before finally nodding its head.

"Of courrrrrrse, Doctor. Right this way please." It sputtered a bit as it shambled down the hallways.

"Use to repair and occasionally hot wire machines that our family could salvage from stables." Juniper explained to us as we followed slowly behind the hulking machine. We made sure to keep our distance from it, in case it decided it didn't like us anymore. Or exploded; both of which were very possible outcomes. Surprisingly enough, it remained intact and managed to deliver us right to the armory.

Sure enough, our weapons and gear had been neatly hung up and set in various open foot lockers. I hobbled my way over to my strewn out equipment before turning around to find the robot standing right behind me.

"Is that all that you require, Doooooooctor?" The machine fixated its one good eye and numerous guns on me.

"Uh..." I stood there and pondered for a moment before coming up with a few more questions to ask the machine. "Tell me about the talisman projects that took place here." Reluctantly, I found myself still talking in my imitation voice of Red Velvet. The securitron stood there for a few seconds as it processed the request.

"Analyzing data involving experimentation on god talisman. It jerked its head back before starting to spark more than it recently had and began to repeat the words "Data slate. Ex-ex-expunged." before starting to twitch and spasm. "Data Expunged, data expunged. God Talisman information expunged". Its head suddenly caught flame as it began to go into a frenzy and spout random words that i couldn't make out.

"It's circuits are overloaded! Get away from it!" Juniper shouted as I kicked it back into the hallway and closed the armory door. We could hear the bot continue to spasm and whir before it eventually exploded, spraying the door with shrapnel that would have shredded us if it were still in the room with us. I let out a sigh of relief before laughing sheepishly at the numerous stares I was receiving.

"What did you do to the thing Shamrock?" Juniper raised a brow as she put her Laser rifle onto her back. The reset of the group had finally re-armed themselves with their gear as we calmed down from our near death experience.

"I just asked it about the experiments that took place...it kept sputtering about some "data expunged" thing." I explained, looking over to Scorched Talon. He was wearing large bulky metal armor with spikes on its shoulders. His gauntlets look even sharper than his original talons while he clutched a massive looking gun attached to a large fuel tank. "What exactly is that thing?" I asked to try and change the subject away from the exploding robot.

"An incinerator? I'm not named Scorched Talon for nothing. This girl can pump balls of volatile napalm further than a normal flamer can ever hope to dream. And lessons the chance of accidentally cooking the lot of you." He grinned, holding it in his talons while he stood on his hind legs. He was already intimidating enough without the armor. Now that he was fully suited up, I was glad he was on our side. For now at least.

"Well. Got our gear and nearly blew up in the process. Lets get going and finish up this mission." I said, putting Reprisal and The All-Equestrian into their respective holsters and satchel before reopening the door to be greeted with the horrible stench of burnt metal.

"Right, the sooner we get out of here, the better." Scarlet sighed, putting the blue beret back onto her head and nodding her head.

This journey was finally going to come to an end. Then we could focus on finding the bigger fish to fry...

Footnote: Level Up.
New Perk: Heave, ho, Increased range when throwing explosives

Chapter 8 Part 2: Purpose

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After walking through the smoking rubble that once was the security drone, the mold that covered the walls was soon replaced with numerous strange burn marks and bullet holes. Normally we would have found that to be. Well normal. But these weren't exactly the oldest markings in the stable.

"This isn't good. Those shots look like they came from energy weapons." Juniper murmured, sniffing the air and grimacing as we stepped across a pile of glowing green goop.

My mind was instantly brought back to the attack on my home. The militant ponies that had been almost instantly erased from existence. The Enclaves weapons were the only things I had seen so far that were capable of reducing a pony to just a puddle of sludge. I felt anger start to fill and boil over as I lunged onto Dune.

"This was all your fucking fault!" I wasn't entirely sure whose fault it was at this point in time. All i knew was that I was livid, mad at the world for doing all of this to me. Mad at the Enclave for taking my life away from me. Mad at the voice in my head always leaving me with only more questions. Yet most importantly, I was mad at my mother for volunteering to take in on this messed up "Project" for my entire life.

"Shamrock! Calm down!" Scarlet was the next pony I turned on, swinging my hooves around in an emotional fit as the rest of my friends just watched.

"If you hadn't been so scared to shoot somepony, and done your job! Maybe my mother would still be alive!" I snapped, tears streaming down my face as Scarlet suddenly screamed back at me.

"I choked, okay?!? I'm not some sadistic murderer like you!" My rage and frustration flushed from my body within an instant as I froze where I was, just staring in shock at Scarlet as she tossed her blue beret onto the floor. This had been the first time we ever truly fought one another. I had never heard Scarlet yell at me like this before. It was rare that she would ever even raise her voice. Even now, her voice wasn't what left me shocked. It was what she had said to me. What she continued to shout to me. Words that will forever ring in my head until the day I die. "You aren't the only pony in this world that lost somepony they held close to them! You don''t see me butchering ponies out of rage! Running across barren Equestria on some Celestia forsaken hunt to try and take down the most powerful military organization in the entire wasteland!" She wheezed in between tear filled breaths as her verbal barrage continued. "You think you can just take on the world because you are angry, but you cant! You aren't strong enough Shamrock, you just aren't strong enough!"

I tried to open my mouth to try and speak. I always had some kind of rebuttal, some sort of witty retort or remark. Now? I had nothing. As usual she was right. Everyone stood there in the awkward silence before Scorched Talon finally decided to break the pause in our mission and take charge of the group for the time being.

"Well, if the little soap opera is done. Let's continue our cheerful little way down into hell." He remarked before leading the rest of the group onward, leaving Scarlet and I to take up the rear. We didn't say another word to one another. Instead we kept our heads down and stared at only our hooves. It was these types of moments where I felt the moments when I felt the most vulnerable. Moments where I cant do anything but think and dwell on things. It was always those moments that usually got interrupted by-

"Whoa now there Shamrock, I get we're all still emotional and such; but now isn't exactly the time to get this personal." Juniper nudged my head off of her flank with her hind leg with a light snicker. Now I just felt embarrassed, we literally made the biggest drama queens in front of everyone. Now I had just run face first into Juniper's flank. Something about that magenta colored mare always intrigued me. She had a near infinite knowledge of the wasteland and how things worked around here. She was also one of the first ponies we met out here (that didn't try to initially shoot us, curb-stomp us, stab us or slit our throats.) and actually helped us get to where we are now. So we owed her that much. "You okay there? You got that look that you had after you fell down the canyon" She questioned again as I finally snapped back into focus and swallowed my blush.

"Yeah, perfect. Never been better! But uh, mind explaining why we stopped?" I sat back on my haunches before peering over her to see what was ahead.

"Nothing but water. Looks like the treatment plant burst and flooded the entire place" Juniper let out a frustrated sigh before peering into the murky mire before us. "best bet that we'll find the talismans still in one of the pumps. As for actually getting there without drowning..." Then she looked over at Dune, who was just staring at the water like it was molten lava."That fancy suit of yours wouldn't happen to have a re-breather on it. Would it?" Much to our surprise, Dune nodded his head slowly before taking off his helmet.

"I've had enough bad memories with water and this place so far...one of you do it." He stated. Juniper looked over the enclave helmet and immediately turned to, you guessed it. Me

"Hold on now, I almost drowned the last time we went into water! Why me?!?" I protested as the helmet was fitted and adjusted onto me against my will. I had to agree with Dune on this one, water was not exactly our friends as of recently and I was not looking forward to being dragged under by another mossy spore thing of doom again.

"You're the only pony here that has a similar head size as Dune and after attempting to strangle him earlier. You owe him." Juniper stated in her sickly sweet yet firm tone. Finally with one finally huff and a couple grumbles later; I began taking my first few steps into the murk below.

It wouldn't have been so bad actually, if the helmet didn't have a broken goggle that immediately filled up. Meaning one eye was clear (and I use the term "clear" in the lightest sense, mind you), while the other was blurry and more than likely infected with who knows what. I yanked my head around as I heard what at first seemed to be a strange chattering sound. Then I realized that it was my own teeth. Both from being wary of any hidden spore monsters waiting to drown me again, and the frigid cold. The further I went, the deeper down I had to swim. The deeper down I swam, the colder and darker it got. Once again, too little too late to regret my decisions. I was already committed to the mission. By now it had gotten so dark that I could barely see past my own muzzle with the light emanating from my pipbuck.

That, was when I bumped into something floating in the water. I let out a gurgled swear in shock, swatting at the floating mass and awaiting for it to come alive and try to claw my eyes out. Yet the undefinable mass just floated idly in the water. Slowly I lifted my pipbuck towards the object to get a better look...

To this day, I wish I hadn't. It was drowned corpse, its eyes partially rotted and staring directly at me while its tongue hung from it muzzle. To make matters worse; the pony possessed a grey coat and an emerald green mane, just like my own. I felt ready to vomit. To scream, I couldn't take my gaze away from the swelled decaying replica of myself. I closed my eyes and shook my head violently. When I opened my eyes, the body was gone. Slowly I felt the cold starting to take its toll. My body was growing numb and sluggish. My breaths were labored and starting to burn. Is that what that was? Just some sort of glimpse into my upcoming future?

"Your friend was right about you Shamrock. You aren't strong enough. You wont get out of there." The voice let out an apathetic sigh as I felt my eyes growing heavy. My breathing began to stagger and slow. Even the voice in my head sounded distant "And you had so much more ahead of you. Pity, I guess you truly weren't made for something better after all." All I could hear now was my heartbeat starting to slow down. I was ready to give in.

"She's wrong Shamrock...she doesn't see what I have always seen in you." My eyes shot back open at hearing the voice of my mother. Yet when I opened my eyes, I was back home. Back in New Hope with my mother. "You have always been such a strong willed stallion. Nobody could change your mind once you were set on something." She gave a warm smile as she trotted towards me and brushed my mane. I had so many questions to ask, so much to say. This may have been only a dream but it felt real enough for me to bury my muzzle into her mane and try to pretend this was all real. Yet as I tried to find comfort in her embrace she nudged me back and gave a soft laugh. "I'm sorry that I am unable to help you in any other way but this. I can't answer any of your questions. All I can tell you is that the word, is courage." She levitated two small looking charms into my saddle bags and shut my eyes. "Never forget who you are. You are Emerald Shamrock, born with a fire inside you that will not die. It will always fight back"

Her voiced faded away as I opened my eyes again, I was still in the water. Yet I could feel my limbs again. All of them, I looked around at myself and found my injured hoof had healed itself. My body was warm and revitalized as I saw the green gem starting to emanate and grow. More importantly, I had what we had come for. I reached into my saddlebags and sure enough, found the glowing talismans inside of it. I didn't even take the time to question what had exactly transpired or how long I had been down there. All I knew was that I was alive, and had what we needed. More importantly, I had found what I needed. The fire inside of me. Within a few minutes of swimming back to the surface, the numbness had returned to my body. By the time I reached the surface, the only thing that told me I was still alive was the echoing beat of my heart.

"There you are Shamrock! You were down there for almost half an hour, you had us all worried to death!" Juniper said as she quickly took off the helmet. She quickly wrapped her hooves around me and I felt myself begin to warm up. My already racing heart kicked into overdrive when she pressed her warm coat against my soggy ice cold form.

"You know, I have a quick way to warm you up." Scorched Talon chuckled as he raised his incinerator, which of course, earned him a hoof to the shoulder. "Ey. I was just kidding...sorta." He grumbled as Juniper finally stepped away from me.

"Well, I got the talismans. Only two of them though, hopefully that's enough to please Deadeye back at Shattered Hoof." I sighed, shaking out the numbing from my body. "Lets just get out of this place. I've had enough fun in stables to last me a lifetime." I looked down to my pipbuck and began to follow through the map that had been made that marked all the places we had gone.

"Would have been real nice if that thing had that before all of this shit happened." Scorched Talon huffed as we crawled out of the cavern that hid the bunker of nightmares. "Either way, I'm just glad to be out." He gave a sigh of relief as he looked down at us. "Where to next?"

"You're coming with us? I thought you were going to head your own way once we got out." I raised a brow as I stared up at the large Griffon. Scorched shrugged his shoulders.

"Ah, well seeing as how you folk got me out of that mess, I figured I might as well help you avoid getting into anymore messes." A small grin formed on his scarred face before he nudged (or more so punched, considering his strength) my shoulder and gave a satisfied nod. "You got guts kid, just try not to spill them all over the floor. Alright?"

"Knowing Shamrock? Yeah we'll encounter plenty of messes." Scarlet giggled, ruffling up my tattered mane even further, causing the rest of the group to laugh.

"It's my specialty. Thank you very much." I huffed before trotting through the gulch once more. Finally we could return to Shattered Hoof and turn in those Talismans. Yet as we trotted, we almost all immediately gave a collective yawn to one another. How long had we been in there? We never really bothered to check the time, or see what day it had been. All our bodies were exhausted and in desperate need of some rest.

"Anyone got the time?" Dune asked drowsily. Thankfully the small cavern we took shelter in within the gulch didn't have a deranged pony lurking inside it as we all sat down. Scarlet looked down at her pipbuck and yawned softly.

"Late...I can tell you that much. We were in their for one and a half days." She mumbled, curling up on the hard floor with the rest of us. We finally had some time to relax. If you can call sitting in the dirt in a cave relaxing, but it sure did beat running for our lives or almost drowning in a Stable. "Well, now that we're all relatively safe; how about we get to know one another a little better?" Juniper let out a loud yawn as she shook her head.

"I am Juniper, I'm a unicorn and I'm tired as can...any questions?" Juniper huffed as she rested her head on the ground. My ears perked up as I looked to her and nodded.

"How did you end up becoming a mercenary? Or whatever you are." My question received a slight frown before she sat up and moved a little closer to me.

"Adventure. My family lives at an abandoned airfield, aren't to keen on letting outsiders roam around so nobody came around much. One day I got tired of being isolated and only knowing the world around me from the tiny radio i'd listen to while we were working. So I packed my stuff and headed on out." Juniper gave another yaw.

"Working on what?" I continued to pester Juniper with questions. Juniper pulled her rifle from behind her back and let it glow in the darkness with my pipbuck.

"We cleaned up and repaired old technology and weapons. Even got the airfields howitzer cannon operational." She gave a mischievous chuckle before patting my head and laying back onto her side. "Now get some sleep Shamrock. I know I will."

I sat in the dark for a few moments, watching as the others rested. I couldn't help but re-read the logs that I had saved on my pipbuck. Reading over the different stables that were a part of this strange "project" that my mother took part of.

"Something better..."

Footnote: LEVEL Up.
New Perk: Action Boy, +25 Action Points

Chapter 8 Finale: Pay Off

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These events had only taken us about a month or so, yet it felt like I hadn't seen our home in years. So much had transpired in just that short amount of time that I almost felt myself begin to forget what life was like before the Enclave attacked. It was difficult for me to sleep that night. After watching Spring Breeze die all over again in the stable...Her body burned alive while we abandoned her; we didn't abandon her. I did. The muffled screaming still remained in my ears all throughout the night. The taste of the horrific food that Red Velvet made me eat.

"But she didn't force you to eat it. That was your own instinct." I cringed and opened my eyes, as if expecting to find the source of the voice before realizing that it came from my own mind. "The wasteland changes ponies, for better or for worse; how shall you change?" The voice questioned me with a snide chuckle.

"For the better, obviously that is the reason I'm here. Right?" I tried my best to reassure myself, only to get a sadistic laugh in return from the voice in my head. Any form of pleasant sleeping or dreaming had become a thing of the very distant past now, I could barely take the physical punishment I had to endure out here, now I had to suffer mentally as well?

"Hey, Shamrock? I can hear you mumbling, what is eating at you?" Scarlet looked at me with her ruby red eyes.

I let out a soft sigh and shook my head, rolling over onto my side only to have her trot back around and continue to give me a concerned glare. It was a look she always gave me to make me confess to anything that was usually against the rules back home.

"Just...the stable and well, all of this craziness. I mean, look at us. Hunting down talismans, killing ponies? Now I find out my mother was some secretive scientist that experimented on ponies and worked with the Enclave? What if she was the reason that they destroyed New Hope?" I wasn't quite ready to open up about the voice just yet, that was going to be another bridge to cross another day. What I did tell her though, really did leave me stumped. All this time, I believed my mother was so kind and caring, yet here i find out that she had been lying to me and may be the reason everyone we ever cared for was now a pile of smoking ash.

"So what are you suggesting? We give up the search for your mother?" She asked quietly as she moved closer to keep warm. Scarlet always had a rather strange scent of strawberry that carried on her coat; regardless of how long it has been since we've showered, the scent was almost soothing. She was always looking out for me back home and now was the only pony that I could really relate with. We both suffered loss, both a piece of love and a piece of ourselves out here.

"I-I don't know. I just want us to take things one job at a time. Lets get Ambrose back and see if we can find a place to live you know?" We had both discussed about settling down and trying to start over, before I had insisted we carry on but now? I wasn't quite sure if I can keep dealing with these horrors.

"Are you sure? We just found out that Cloverfield could still be out there, your mother might still be alive." She made a decent point, now we had information on a few stables that she could still be in.

"Maybe I don't want to find her. What if she really is dead." I rolled over again only to feel Scarlet brush her hoof against my mane suddenly. For a moment I felt comfort, a brief moment of peace at mind as she rested against my back.

"Well, whatever happens. I'm with you to the end. Okay?" Scarlet asked quietly before she let out a soft yawn that was soon followed by my own.

"Thank you, Scarlet" I smiled softly before slowly drifting off finally. For the first time in what felt like forever, I could sleep in peace.That was when the forces that be realized the mistake they made and our moment of respite lasted for about two hours before Scorched Talon shouted out into the night.

"GAH! Son of a feather plucked bitch, something bit me!" The large Griffon immediately moved for his incinerator as we all went into alert move, looking around within our cave for the culprit. Yet there was seemingly nobody there. Not even our pipbucks could see any threats nearby.

"You sure? I'm not seeing anything. I think its just your mind playing tricks on you. We all have had a rough few days." Juniper yawned as she scanned the walls of the cave with her energy rifle. All of our horns were glowing as bright as we could make them to illuminate the cave in a mixture of colors. Scorched Talon scoffed as he began to pad around the cave.

"Hmmph, pretty clever trick if it was then." He grumbled before we all settled back down and began to fall asleep once more.

"Juniper, could you find a different sleeping spot? You're practically breathing down my neck." Dune complained as we all sat back up again in the dark.

"Th-thats not me, Dune." Juniper stammered. We all could feel it now, that sixth sense of a pair of unwanted eyes staring at us. Simultaneously, we all turned and activated the lights on our pipbucks at Dune. On top of him, was a huge frothing rodent. Its eyes a milky white as it turned and shrieked at us.

"What the fuck is that!" Scarlet shouted when the creature began to scuttle away only to be vaporized by Juniper's careful aim. However, with its death throes, came a chorus of several more shrill cries as more of the creatures began to burrow out of the ground beneath us.

"Who cares?!? Just mulch em!" Talon shouted, drawing his claws as he began to slice into the unwanted guests. My pipbuck began to fill up with more and more red markers within just seconds.

One of the creatures lunged at me from behind suddenly and sank his teeth into my tail, causing me to let out a less than masculine yelp.

"AGH! Hey! Can we ever just get some damn sleep around here?!?!" I drew my pistol and blasted the rat between the eyes. Giving my jumpsuit a fun new red paint job and brain matter.

"Uh Shamrock, you're starting to glow again." Scarlet warned. Sure enough, these things were irradiated and starting to seep into me once more. I let out a soft groan as my stomach began to turn on me and form into a knot while the rest of the group continued fending off the rodents. Slowly but surely, the gunshots and shrills of agony began to die down and the stench of fresh blood and mangled flesh started filling the cave now.

"Guess that is a sign to find a new place to sleep?" Scarlet sighed, wiping her eyes once the adrenaline had simmered down. With a hint of reluctance, we relocated into a less infested cave and hunkered down once more for the remainder of the night.

The morning came quicker than any of us would have liked. Then again, with the skies being nothing more than a bleak grey abyss; it made it difficult to tell what was morning and what was night.

"Alright team, it looks like we're on the final leg of our journey. Just have to turn these talismans in and we can call it a day." Juniper said with a sigh of relief. We all felt better to be out of the stable and to be heading back to Shattered Hoof was actually almost a comforting thought. At least at Shattered Hoof the risk of getting shot or ambushed by radiated creatures was substantially less. I personally didn't trust Deadeye but we had very few other options but to hope that he would hold up his end of the bargain.

Finally, we had returned to Shattered Hoof Correctional Facility; its gates slowly opened up to us once we drew closer.

"Well, I must admit that when we hadn't heard from you ponies in such a long time, I was worried y'all didn't make it." Deadeye gave a wry grin when he looked to our newest additions to our little team. "And it seems you made some new friends as well..." he chuckled before I set the talismans down onto his table.

"We did our part. Now where is Ambrose?" I demanded. Deadeye only seemed to raise a brow while he began to recollect who Ambrose was before he nodded.

"Ah yes, terrible business about that. You see, while you were gone, the current owner had stopped by and requested to purchase her for a fine sum of caps. I can pay you as compensation for your efforts if you wish, but the zebra is with her proper owner." He said as if he was discussing the possession of a lifeless object.

Scarlet slammed her hoof on his table and drew her rifle. "Her proper owner should be her damn family! Not some raider! We made a deal!" She growled, all of us were on the verge of tearing him apart if not for the fact that we were more than likely being watched from the outside.

"Our deal was that I "may" be able to retrieve your friend for you. I tried my best but he wouldn't take no for an answer. It is unwise to deny a reaper what they desire." Deadeye moved nonchalantly to his personal fridge to pour himself a drink and offered a glass to us now. "Tell you what, stay here for the night and we can discuss it more over a drink and some entertainment. I was lucky enough to get an alleged descendant of the singer Sweetie Belle to perform for me later tonight; I can perhaps disclose some information on her whereabouts there." He nudged a glass over towards me now and raised a brow, waiting for my response.

I let out a reluctant sigh and cursed under my breath and lifted the glass up into the air.

"Fine..." I muttered through gritted teeth and drank.

Footnote: LEVEL Up.
New Perk: Hunter: Deal 75% more critical damage towards animals and mutated animals