The Wraith. Pre-Wasteland memories (Fallout Equestria prequel)

by The Old Plug

First published

Cloud Fixer remembers pre-wasteland Equestria

A militaristic view of Pre-wasteland Equestria. Cloud Fixer remembers the missions of the M.O.A. before the Mega-spells fall.

The Wraith ch.1 Pre-wasteland memories.

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Didn't I say I was retired?

My name is Cloud Fixer, a deep green Pegasus stallion. Three years into my retirement from the Royal Equestrian Air Force serving as a Maintenance technician. Now standing, slack jawed, staring, at the ponies invading my front yard.

Four Ministry Mares and a hoof full of Royal Secret Service, at my door with a Royal Equestrian Air Force van full of E.A.V. suits, simply pressed on.

Twilight Sparkle began to wave the flag of “duty” to our nation; Apple Jack looked as if I had just slapped her, Rainbow Dash let out a “Snirk”, and Rarity was holding E.A.V. suit Number Five over a dark black case.

“TEA! Come in please! Let’s talk over some tea, ladies!” My home was not small. I had a good size workshop of my own. But it was on the ground. Far from Thunder Head, leagues away from Neighvaro, even further from Cloudsdale, and Canterlot. I wanted my peace. Three decades of service with the last five years riding a desk after the” Powered Pegasus Program” was cancelled. It was a No Brainer to turn in my retirement papers and take the walk to the gate. I had put all my pay into a nice place out in the middle of nowhere. You almost had to be a Pegasus to get out here, but, Equestrian law made me have a road paved in for “Emergency services”. The “Goons” stayed outside.

Tea served and everyone seated, they proceeded to tell me “NO” was the wrong answer.

E.A.V. Extreme Altitude & Velocity suits were my baby since I was the only Technician to get the crystal power matrix to operate properly and at peak efficiency. This was the backbone of the Powered Pegasus Program. Twenty five suits produced to fly at high speed and altitude, three times faster than Rainbow doing a Sonic Rain Boom, and just slightly sub-orbital. All the suits were fitted for Recon, but my real baby was Test Suit Number Five, she had weapon mounts! The suits could fly at full power for 48 hours before needing the main power crystal recharged or replaced. I taught a team how to maintain the suits, but, I still could not get them to my level of tweaking the suits to full efficiency. I was allowed to fly the suits for test purposes. Weapons mounting, historical pip sights, target acquisition LIDAR (Light based range finding), were just a few of the “Joy rides” I got to take. But the weapons of that time simply could not keep up with the suit. When one Pegasus almost shot himself with a guided missile, weapons testing stopped, and guns just did not fill the needs of the higher ups. When the P.P.P. and the E.A.V. suits were shelved, so was I.

“I’ve been retired three years. This war started one year after I left, and you come to me now over a Canceled program? I shifted in my chair feeling the unease that comes with four powerful mares looking at me like I had just relieved myself on the carpet like a bad dog.

Rainbow Dash leaned over to Twilight and whispered “We have four hours till the window opens and six till it closes.”

“Sergeant Cloud Fixer”, Twilight stated flatly, “Retired” she added, ”We require your assistance in a delicate matter, and these suits will be flying in four hours with or without you. What I truly hope that it’s WITH YOU in Number Five. These suits have not seen the light of day for eight years and they need you to make them operate to full potential. The other two technicians we brought with us said that you and only you, could get the full flight power out of the suits, and properly connect the weapon to suit Number Five”

Two other technicians? Weapon? Apple Jack took my frown as her cue.

“XAVR-01” she opened the black case. Inside laid a very large gun beside E.A.V. Number Five's Integrated Weapons Mount. “Experimental Automatic Void Rifle. Based on the .338 Lapony round, hyper velocity projectile, single fire or two round burst, 10 round magazine, we like to call it Xavier. The speed of the projectile is classified. Come to think of it Sugar Cube, this whole encounter is CLASSIFIED. So…..You in Hun?”

Oh sweet Celestia’s sun blazoned backside! Thank the Goddesses I didn't say that out loud. With a small trickle of sweat running down my forehead and ice running up my spine, I had to ask,” What’s in it for me?”

Rainbow smiled and said ”You will be brought into the Ministry of Awesome as a special operative in charge of the new Powered Pegasus Program. Your pay will be more than you will ever use, and you won’t disappear from the face of Equestria .” She had stopped smiling.

Rarity looked at Rainbow and chuckled “Now Dash! Really? You know that’s Pinky’s job, Darling! Cloud dear, please be reasonable. I know gems and crystals better than anypony and this matrix is horrific! It’s amazing you got these suits to work, let alone fly! We need your help. Was your service so bad that you would turn your back on all of us?”

Twilight cleared her throat “Sergeant Fixer retired, we need you. Equestria needs you. Please don’t make me use the Forced Re-instatement clause of your service retirement.”

“HUH! WHAT?!?” I blurted! “WAIT, WAIT! I’m in! I’m in! Whatever you want! Ma'am! “ I did not realize I had dropped my tea cup and was standing at attention. At some point I realized the mild laughter coming from the area of my front door. Two of my old techs were holding back snickers as well as holding suits 24 & 25. It was Buzzy and Zippy. Two of my better crew chiefs. “Come on Fix! We need to get these suits checklist ready!” Buzzy roared! Zippy started to open up suit 25. “NOT IN MY LIVING ROOM! GET THEM BACK HERE INTO MY SHOP!” I yowled. “I thought I could smell you two behind all this!” Zippy snorted, “He said smell, behind (snirk!)”

Four throats suddenly cleared rather loudly! A stack of papers appeared on my coffee table. “Sign here please!” all four said as one!

The suits were as good as the day I stored them for the final time. Rarity had read the manuals and did her best to work the matrix but with a bit of tool work they hit my standard of 20 percent better! The helmet on suit 25 had been altered. I thought it may have been the new sensor suite we had wanted to develop many years ago and we would check that in the pre-flight. The Integrated weapons mount locked into the XAVR-01 without a hitch. The cable hook ups locked into place and suit 5 was ready to go. “Buzzy! Help me into this dang thing! Zippy! Get Rainbow prepped in the next room and into 24 and find the pilot for 25…..” I ordered.

“Don’t worry about that…. Fix!”, Twilight said as she removed the long jacket she was wearing and spread her wings.

Fortunately I keep the floors in my work shop very clean or the taste of the cement might have put me off. Buzzy helped me back onto my hooves. “She’s a free-gak-ing ALICORN! BUZZY! She’s an ALICORN!” Zippy laughed as she picked up a female waste talisman unit and lead Rainbow into the next room “Come on your Highness. Grab that second unit and come in here! Hey Buzzy! That’s Fifty Bits you owe me! Hahahaha!”

Buzzy grumbled and hit the closure tabs on the male waste talisman. “HOOF! BUZZY! You did that on purpose!” I yelped, as the unit closed tightly around some very sensitive areas. “Hang on FIX! I’m working the adjusters.” Buzzy mumbled, “OK Fix how’s that?”.. “OK.” I replied. I don’t care what anypony thinks about the Improved Waste System, it does beat the old bag system. But it’s still cold and tight on some sensitive areas! Just then I heard a Rainbow flavored “EEEPP!” from the next room. The suits closed, the helmets on and sealed we went out the back double wide door. As the sun set the helmets automated check lists began to scroll.
I opened my mike,"OK Fix here. I call the list. You two call the switches. If I make a change, I'll call it. Ready? ....Comm Sync,"
"Little loud Rainbow!"
"OOPS! Check."
" Maps up"
"Master power flow"
" Lock!"
"Wing tail sync,"
"In normal."
"Comm FREQ"
"Twilight, why Ultra?"
"Laser Data link suit only, Fix."
" OK….Pressure check to 2 Atmopheres ,"
"Sorry you two! I forgot the rapid suit pressure increase!"
"Pressure to 1 atmosphere"
"Oh yeah, that’s better,"
"OK, pressure switch to,"
" Anti-ice, select ALL"
" Hey Fix! Rainbow here. The list says AUTO."
"It’s OK Rainbow. Auto is a power save setting. If you want to get real cold set it to AUTO but with the suit running at optimum you might want to do it my way."
"OK, All."
"The weapons portion of the list I will complete myself just listen to the calls.Weapons master, off. Weapons safe, on. Target sys., input. Twilight? Why is my suit interrogating yours for a target?"
"Wait till we are in the air Fix."
"Uh, OK….So now if you read the books you know it’s not a good idea to do a powered take off from the ground. So come on and lift em up!" Wings beating, we all left the ground.
"That’s good! A little more. Get your clearance Twilight! OK. When your altimeter says 1000 hooves go to power setting one and form up. I have the weapon. I have the lead!”

When the suits came to life at a thousand hooves, Rainbow let out a cry of joy, Twilight squeaked, and I just felt ten years younger. I called out, “Suit Integrated COMMS DATA is active now. Rising through twenty thousand hooves. How’s everybody doing?”

"All systems are green here Fix." Twilight called.

"Good here, Fix! When do we kick these things?" Rainbow chimed in.

I laughed, then opened my mike again,”OK Rainbow give me a second to get all the data from Twilight’s suit. Let’s head south on power setting five and climb.”
“Rodger” was replied by both.
OOOOH! We’ve gone all military again. Guess I better get my Military Bearing cleaned off. Data stream is complete. Target is in Zebrica. Go figure. Attack height eighty thousand hooves. Hmmmm. Not too high, not too low, AHHK! COLD! Anti-ice set to ALL. Idiot! Tell them to do something and forget to do it yourself….EEERRGH. Open mike,”Twilight. I have the target data. Going weapons hot. Weapons master, on. Weapons safe, off. I have a non-tracking pip. Clear for weapons test.” The “squawk” was audible.

“Negative, Fix! Charge the weapon, but don’t fire until we are on target! Twilight out!”

Now? Now this bothered me? Delicate mission. Grabbed out of retirement. Flying with two Ministry Mares, all in a cancelled program’s suit, with a weapon I can’t fire till I’m on target. I knew I was crazy to begin this, but, now I just got the hint? Uh boy. Let’s do this, and I might get my answers when we get back.

“OK. Listen up! We need to hit eighty thousand hooves, target window in 30 minutes, full power will put us in the box in 25. That gives us 5 minutes to ensure a clear sky and set up an orbit in the box to engage the target. Copy full power on my mark.”
“Rodger” was replied.
"MARK!",and three green rings flashed in the sky over the Equestrian southern border then vanished.

The Wraith ch.2 Pre-wasteland memories.

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Time passes in so many ways. Minutes to hours, days to years. Why does it seem like yesterday?

The sky was so clear, no clouds and a full moon. The altimeter rushed toward eighty thousand hooves. Our air speed was "Classified" and other than the initial "Burst Rings" we left no trail. They had thrown this technology to the wind all those years ago, and now they wanted it back? Funny how things change given time.

Deep inside the Zebrican border we hit the target box, exactly as I had it dialed in, with five minutes to spare. "OK! We're here! Power setting to "2" everypony on my Mark. MARK! Form Echelon right, and follow my roll to the left. Twilight you're Tail end, high watch."

"WHAT? YOU NASTY OLD.......!" I heard Twilight squawk. Rainbow quickly broke in "Fix wants you to be above and behind us and sweep for trouble!" "Oh," came Twilight's reply. "Rodger, Fix"

An easy left bank began the orbit and targeting began its work. The green pip on my face plate did a lazy sweep side to side. I switched to "Live Image", an enhanced LIDAR function that gave me a tiny picture in the left lower area of the face plate. A black and white image, clear as if the sun shown on the land below, gave me a view of jungle with a road running through it. That had to be a good size road not to be covered by the canopy. My mind tried get a feel for the overall area. Just then the pip spiked on three dark objects. Heavy Zebra personnel transports.

Opening my mike, "Twilight! Those are Heavy Transports! Would you confirm the target!"

Her reply came back,"That's a confirm on your target. Second vehicle in the line."

"Copy" was my reply, but my mind raced. I'm employing a rifle, all be it a big one, versus a Heavy Transport. Did they just want it to stop? I enhanced the view on the LIDAR, set the historical site to the pip and pulled in a view of the driver. The pips on my face plate superimposed onto the live image. I dialed the the angle to be just a bit high to compensate for possible ballistic glass. "I have the target, Twilight, confirm second vehicle, and the driver is in the pip."

Her reply,"Target confirmed and you are cleared to take the shot."

"Copy" I confirmed.

And the world slowed, a gentle bite on the trigger bit, a very quiet report from the rifle. No real recoil and limited muzzle flash. This is based off a .338 Lapony? I thought I would get a good "smack" from this big gun. Projectile travel time to the target was short too! Hope the target system takes into account....ZZZZUUUUUWWWHHHAPP!

"HOLY! FRAKIN! BUCK!", Yep, I screamed that into the mike. The live image went totally blank, and for just a split second I thought I could see a tiny black ball on the ground covered in blue lighting through my face plate. Just as fast, it was gone making a sound like thunder. When the live image returned, I had to pull the view back. A crater, perfectly spherical, several hundred hooves across was all that was left of the entire convoy.

Twilight's voice came through the Comms, "IT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO DO THAT! 50 HOOVES! 50 HOOVES THEY SAID!"

Rainbow was quick to break in," We have to GO! NOW!"

I realized we were still descending,"OK! Pull up! Get to 80,000 hooves and egress the target area at full power. Come on form up! And MARK."

Somewhere in Zebrica three green rings flashed to life and then were gone.

The flight home was a little tense. Twilight kept whatever she was thinking to herself. Rainbow simply kept formation. I felt every second of my old age settling back onto my frame. I believe I had an answer to one of my questions, the "Void Rifle" is absolutely horrific, and no way to die!

Landing at my home, we doffed the suits. Buzzy and Zippy went about cleaning and storing the suits after I released "Xavier" and the weapon mount. Apple Jack was there to retrieve the weapon, stripping out the magazine, cycling the live round out of the chamber and retrieving the spent brass from a trap down in the stock. I had wondered why such a huge weapon had a butt stock. We all gathered in my living room. Zippy was quick to bring in some fresh tea and a load of my fancy Buck Cakes.

Twilight sat on the couch with the data tab from her suit and plugged it into a small device that looked like a thinner form of a Stable Tech computer. The entire flight was on the screen in seconds. It showed full video with sound, complete telemetry. It even had the error message for "Anti-Ice in "All", and it was displayed for all three suits! "So, Twilight, you changed the main computer without changing any of the flight software," I mused. I thought this would open the "Talk" I really wanted to have with my "Mission Partners".

"Please Fix, not right now. I have to show this to A.J." Twilight said with a heavy sigh.

Apple Jack had just finished cleaning and casing "Xavier" when she heard her name and came over to the couch. "What's wrong Twi....Oh Sweet Celestia's ....URK! ..Heh heh! Sorry! That's the strike!?"

"Yes" Twilight gave another sigh, "What went wrong A.J.?! It was only supposed to take the second vehicle. 50 hooves across would have left the Griffin envoy's vehicle and the staff vehicle intact! We only wanted the Zebra envoy! That would have stopped the talks and sent a message about our displeasure with Griffin involvement."

Rainbow Dash must have seen my tension rising and came over and motioned to the kitchen with Rarity in tow. We all sat down at my kitchen table with Zippy and Buzzy who were still working on my supply of Buck Cakes. "OK Fix, out with it. Ask what you need to ask. Though I thought for sure you knew this was a STRIKE mission and somebody was going to Tartarus."

Rainbow poured more tea for all of us and looked me square in the eye,"You knew the job was dangerous when you took it!"

"Yes, Rainbow, I did, and my not crazy side was crying my name the whole time!" I growled,"I just didn't know you were going to do this with a weapon that shoots a projectile that on impact creates what looks like a Black Hole on the target!? Is the Bucking thing even stable? Have you test fired it? It's, It's......."

"Easy there Fix! Rainbow pointed at my tea,"Drink."

Just as the cup made it to my nose I smelled the Whisky. Rainbow Dash smiled and said."Please. You look like you could use it! Buck! I could use it." She took a long draw off her cup and swallowed.

"I guess the worst of it is that I was a Tech. I tested every weapon available for our suits including that freakin "Widow Maker" Missile! I just never really fired a shot in anger. Every simulation was under combat parameters and even had AA. Flew Recon here and there, dodged a ton of crazy incoming stuff in a few border disputes. But to get in it with all four hooves? Never."

I took that drink. It wasn't bad....Wait! This is my best bottle in the house! "ZIPPY, BUZZY! You rotters! You found my best bottle?" They just smiled and pointed at Rarity.

"Fix! Sweetie! You really didn't want a LADY drinking that cheap swill you had in your Liqueur cabinet? I mean, REALLY?" She smiled and drew a sip from her tea cup. Zippy giggled and said,"She's got you there Fix. Why are you killing your liver with that Wild Pegasus paint thinner."

"I'VE GOT IT A.J.!" We heard Twilight shout from the living room," It had to be the cold! The gun needs no heating to operate properly, so it was not connected to the suit's heating systems. At that altitude the round was in freezing temperatures possibly altering the matrix of the Void Spell! OOOOOH! We've got to test this and get this data home! Everypony! Pack it up! We are going to go! NOW!

I looked at Rainbow Dash and Rarity,"So when will I expect to see you all next?"
Buzzy started to laugh so hard he fell out of his chair. Zippy just looked at me and smiled. The two Ministry Mares just looked at me, smiled, and said "That means you too!" Rarity pointed a hoof,"Your bags are in the van, Dear, and those dreadful things you call "Clothes" took me forever to get sorted through. Anyhow, your'e ready to go, Now, and one of the M.O.A. teams will comeback to secure these "quaint" quarters of yours."

And that that how I became an Operative for the "Ministry of Awesome".

The Wraith ch.3 Pre-wasteland memories.

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They seemed close. They were still friends. War never changes but it changes everything.

That's the last time I ever witnessed the Ministry Mares working so closely together. The atmosphere of familiarity and quick acceptance when faced with a shared goal washed away in what seemed like moments. My assignment to Cloudsdale's M.O.A. facility as project leader for the Powered Pegasus Program was in place, as well as the rank Senior Chief Master Sergeant. Leave it to Rainbow to have a rank system more Awesome than any other. I spent almost all my first M.O.A. pay to get my dress uniforms properly sewn and decorated. The service slashes on the sleeves alone made me look like a Zebra. Given the circumstances, it wasn't funny.

The M.O.A. facility was a lot less flashy. It was a thunderous grey cube, windowless, on the outskirts of the industrial district, three floors tall, with one gigantic door to the rear, and one standard door in the front. What was not seen was my hanger, two floors below and possibly three times as large. All 25 suits hung in their own parking bay with easy access to all the needed tools and equipment for any specific mission. We disassembled suit number 1 for a test rig. Rarity sent her best gem matrix scientists to work out a possible replacement for the old crystal matrix with a more stable gem based system. The Ministry of War Time Technology allowed me to obtain and test numerous weapons for our suits. That also meant I got my hooves on Xavier.

The tests proved the extreme cold had altered the Void matrix spell and the round, though not unstable, needed a lot of work. With this in mind, I wanted to keep a close eye on developments.

What was nice about being an operative for the M.O.A. was that I had a staff! I also had the Rainbow Dash school of paperwork, funding, and delegation of authority! Most of my duty as Chief was a daily "yes" and "no" session with my secretary with a bit of "sign here" added to the mix. This actually left me time to get my hooves dirty in the day to day maintenance of the suits and the upgrades we wanted.

Zephyr Wind, Zippy, was my right hoof. Buckmeister Storm (How the buck did everypony get Buzzy out of that?) was my left. When we had to go to the various social functions, as mandated by Rainbow Dash, we all looked like a black buffet on which somepony had upended a salad bar. She approved of this arrangement because it meant she would not have to attend. No, we were not commissioned officers. The commissioned officers, who had been around longer than two weeks, steered clear of the Shiny Old Spooks. Those two always had my six, my back. Both came from Noble Pegasus backgrounds and they could steer me though the royal court intrigue and gossip with ease. And yet they really did not care for that part of their lives. They wanted the same thing I did. Get your hooves dirty, fix what needed it, get the day's missions in the air and back again.

The M.O.A.'s maintenance teams were top notch. We still stuck our hooves into the hard problems and this resulted in some very heated "Discussions" about the "hows" and "whys" of the E.A.V. suit. That generally cleared all maintenance personnel out of the area. Buzzy and Zippy also started to fly the suits for maintenance and troubleshooting. This left me time to pen myself into a few of the scheduled missions, which is how Equestria lost it's greatest lover.

Reid Longquill (Yes, that's what the paperwork said his true name was...) was assigned to us as a primary pilot in the early days of our program. As time passed he flew the suits like he had been born to them. This made him something of a braggart. Not too unpleasant, unless you started talking mares. By his own word, he was goddesses' gift to mares, though to see some of the fine mare flesh he kept company with was heartbreaking to this old plug.

The first year of our program ran without a hitch. Recon, Point Strike, and Rapid Response Air Defense kept our lives busy. "Yardstick" (Yes, that was his call sign. It seems to have been some other culture's way of measuring six hooves. Of course he would assign that to his attributes...) He ran the gamut of all missions assigned and performed them to the letter. So on the day I penned myself into the lead slot on a high speed, low level Recon of a "Sensitive" Zebrican facility, Reid had a few choice pointers for the "Old Plug".

We ran checklists smoothly and take-off was almost automatic. From our cloud base, powered take-offs were no problem and we were at cruising speed and altitude quickly. Even at the speeds the E.A.V. could achieve there was time to get bored before you got to the target.

"Yardstick, Fix here, run through way points for the mission."

"Copy Fix. Way Point 1 cleared at 40,000 hooves at full power on my mark..MARK. Way Point 2 in fifteen minutes descending to 20,000 hooves at full power and descending to 10,000 hooves to hit the box at Way Point 3 with full sensor suites active. Out of the box to Way Point 4 climbing to 40,000 hooves and hit Home Plate at full power. So FIX! You been out with any good Mares lately? No, I don't mean taking Zippy to dinner because Buzzy is usually there too."

Oh boy, I thought, I'm going to get the 101 on "Mares according to Reid".

"OK Yardstick, just too pass the time, let me in on your "Big" secret."

"OH Fix! That was low! You saying I get my fine stable due to my life's endowments is just so wrong. I feel it's how I make them feel wanted and..."


"WAIT! Yardstick!"


"AA Tracking!"


"Get separation! I've got High"


"Copy Fix! I've got Low!"


"THE BUCK! Yardstick! I'm still in the track!" I could see rows of red globes rising toward us.


"Same here Fix! How are they tracking us at this speed?"


"Yardstick! I have visual of........"

"HOOF!" Reid's voice rose to a scream in my headset. Below my hooves, sparks flew from the the power pack on the back of his E.A.V. and the world flashed green.

I was still climbing when a pressure wave hit me, tumbling me like a leaf in a gale. OH BUCK! The world started to spin and training took over. Power to OFF, fold your wings, splay your legs, slowly extend your wings, stop the spin, stop the spin, stop the spin, "STOP THE SPIN!" I heard myself screaming as the spin finally slowed. Power to one. Still at.....30,000 hooves! All systems green, power to full and climb! I took a moment to look down, and I wish I had not. The area was covered in green flames that revealed a large defensive battery awash in those flames.

I set my course for Home Plate and made the call, "Yardstick come in.....Yardstick! Do you copy?"

The comms broke in, "Forward Air Control Bravo 1. Fix! We lost Yardstick's track! What's your status?"

I hear Goddesses! My body starts to shake. It's the relay signal! "C-c-c-copy Bravo 1" Breath! "I-I-I'm green." Get your head back on! "R-returning to huh-home plate," I replied and simply made my way home.

But the flight back was anything but simple. I went over the mission in my head. Did we Buck it up? We followed protocol for an AA attack. We were hitting our marks. We had no active pings in the area before we got stuck in the track. The size of that battery was another question. A fence of AA thousands of hooves wide right through our flight path? A wall of red balls leaping skyward. Reid's last call. What the BUCK exploded? Reid's power pack was hit? Reid's power pack was hit. OH BUCK, REID'S POWER PACK!

Comms squawked, "FIX! You're going to overshoot Home Plate! Slow down and bring yourself home!"

"Copy Home Plate." I cut power to 1 and touched down.

I knew Zippy and Buzzy would meet me but, Rainbow Dash? Both my faithful crew chiefs began breaking down the suit right there on the pad. Rainbow Dash stood a few paces just looking, saying nothing. I whispered to Zippy, "Why's the Boss here?"

Zippy looked up at me, her face solemn, and went back to getting the last of the suit off of me. As Buzzy released the waste talisman unit, Rainbow piped up. "Sergeant Storm! What is the count on the I.W.S?"

Buzzy blushed,"One count each, Ma'am!"

Just for one instant I thought I saw Rainbow loose her stern composure. I almost wished I heard the signature "Snerk", but she went back to looking past me. At this point I was able to step out of the boots and completely out of the suit.

"Get the waste unit to the medics. We can skip the urinalysis, Chief. So, to answer your first question," Rainbow focused on me, "attention to orders!" We all stood at attention. "Senior Chief Master Sergeant Cloud Fixer you are, until further notice, grounded. A board of inquiry will be convened and this matter will be investigated. The data tab from your suit, now."

Zippy removed the tab and gave it to Rainbow. "Thank you Sergeant Wind. Now Chief I will be taking over as your debrief officer. I believe you need time to clean up. Meet me in your office in 30 minutes. Dismissed."

Rainbow turned and walked toward the offices. Zippy quickly produced a clean M.O.A. body suit and a "Guest Flyer" clean up kit. I smiled at her, "Zephyr, I have a locker with all my kit in it."

She held up the kit,"They sealed your locker, Cloud. Tartarus! They emptied your office too!"

Buzzy came to my side,"They want us to take your suit and put it in the shipping bin over there without cleaning or touching anything!" He motioned to a large yellow lockable bin just a few hooves away. He looked me in the eye and smiled,"It would have been nice to just clean it. You used the waste talisman pretty hard." He bumped into my side and we both broke into a chuckle. Zephyr even let out a "Snirk".

The levity was needed, but it was quickly replaced with the gloom of the situation. I looked at my two best friends,"OK. You two keep this place running till I'm back. We'll get through this somehow. I'm counting on you." With that I turned and went to the showers.

I stood in the shower stall fore hooves on the wall head just under the shower. Hot water rushed through my mane and down to my tail. The black and red of my mane was giving way to silver in places. Old Plug. Reid had joked calling me that and somehow I didn't care. For all I know he was right. Pasture time? You tried it once before. Didn't work out so well, did it. Again my thoughts began to grind through the day, the mission, the loss of Reid. "I didn't BUCK THE POOCH!" I had to scream something, so there it was, I didn't Buck the pooch and I honestly believed it. The blow dry stall left my mane and tail in poofs that was the style for one pink Ministry Mare, not me. I took the time to brush out the mess and looked much more presentable. "So this is it." I huffed to myself. I donned the black M.O.A. body suit and walked to my office.

I passed though the open door to see Rainbow seated in my office chair. I thought to myself that this was probably a good time to shine up my military bearing. Coming to attention and giving a sharp salute, I reported. "Senior Chief Master Sergeant Cloud Fixer Reporting as ordered, Ma'am!"

Rainbow returned the salute, "At ease Fix. Please close the door."

I came to rest and turned to close the door. With an easy click the door closed and turning I swear I caught Rainbow eyeing me up! She cocked her head, "That Body suit looks great on you Fix! Not exactly what I thought an "Old Plug" would look like."

I stuttered, then coughed, but then something angry took over and I growled,"Commander Dash!"

At first she looked shocked, but then she scowled and cut me off rising out of the chair with a growl of her own,"Right now Commander Dash and Chief Fix are off the desk! The shoes come off. NOW! We know each other. I fly this suit just as much as you or the next flyer! TATARUS! It's Fix and Rainbow now! Flyers! Warriors! Comrades! What the Buck went wrong, Fix? I've studied the tab for over 30 minutes now! I don't get it! Yardstick...GAH! Reid flew right through a radar guided fence of AA and had little or no previous tracking alarms! BUCK! Your suit gave no warning until it was too late. You're here because you went high and Reid is not because he went low. By the book! Solid break! Would have commanded the same maneuver if I had been there!"

I was dumbfounded! She had tears running down her face! She called me "Old Plug"! OH SWEET LUNA'S FULL MOON BACKSIDE!

"Dash?" I started,"Did you and....GAH! It's none of my business."

She composed herself a little,"I said the shoes were off, Fix, and the answer is, yes. He just seemed to make me feel......wanted? I called you an Old Plug. That wasn't fare. Tartarus! Look at me! The grey is creeping in and yet he made me feel like a filly, if only for a little while. And no I will not let that color what goes on here! But we do have to do the full investigation. So all your papers, forms and data have been confiscated. But for now I think we need to go and get a proper debrief going!"

I looked incredulous. "Are we not doing that now, Dash?"

She wiped her face and straightened her uniform, "No we are not. O'Grady's bar and grill is around the corner, just exactly where I had them build it. Now, if you will follow me, Chief? OH! and by the way Fix, no you didn't"

Now I looked quizzical. "Didn't do what Dash?"

She looked back as she walked through the door. "Buck the pooch, Fix. Now are you coming or do I have to go back on my word and make that an order?"

Later, ponies passing outside the bar heard, "SERGEANT OF THE BAR! CALL THE ORDER!"

A low deep voice that carried,"To those who have gone before...Salute!"

"Glasses down!" CLANK!

That's how we lost Equestria's greatest lover forever and our sobriety for several days.

The Board of Inquiry and investigation cleared me of any fault one week later. Exactly the amount of time it took for all of us to sober up.

The Wraith ch.4 Pre-wasteland memories.

View Online

The road to Tartarus is paved with good intentions.

The research into the crystal matrix began to bear fruit. One of the gem scientists laid out the matrix on paper as a spell matrix. How did we miss this? How did the original designer work this out as a crystal power matrix? It was very clear that there were major breaks in the spell matrix and with my adjustments it closed or stabilized several breaks that allowed the matrix to run as designed even, dare I say it, 20 percent better? We sent this data to the Ministry of Arcane Science. We asked their scientists to replace crystals with more stable gems. By taking the spell matrix apart in different sequences, we also discovered what happened to Reid. Break the matrix in just a few areas and you create a feedback loop that turned the power pack into a bomb. It made a really big bomb, many times greater in magnitude than anything else we were currently dropping. That got the Ministry of Wartime Technology involved, too.

Sitting in my office with a projection of the spell matrix on the far wall, I scribbled notes on a pad. I was trying to make sure that simple errors in the daily maintenance would not produce the feedback loop that caused the matrix to go boom! A light tapping sounded at my door. Standing in my doorway was a pink-maned yellow Pegasus.

I had only seen her in pictures and the term "cute" does her a disservice. Even with a powdering of grey in her mane, Fluttershy could turn your heart into a puddle of goo with a single look.

"Uh, Chief Fixer, may I come in, if you don't mind?" her small voice was barely audible.

I stood to attention," Miss Fluttershy, Ma'am. Please, by all means come in." I didn't mean to startle her, but she cringed anyway emitting a tiny squeak! I thought my heart had turned inside out hearing this. I sat down lowered my voice and said again, "Please Miss Fluttershy, come in."

As she entered the room she looked at the matrix displayed on the far wall. She gasped and her voice was strong and clear. "OH my! Chief Fixer this is wonderful!"

I looked at her and was a bit confused."What do you mean, Miss Shy?"

She smiled at me and began. "These interceding flow vortices are not aligned properly, though with several minor adjustments the final matrix could amplify almost any spell if it were to laid out in a more linear fashion, taking out several of the incorrect power feeds and slightly truncating the overall spell it could lens spell effects by many orders of magnitude....Could I have a copy of this? If you don't mind...?"

The "Jaw hitting the floor" thing is so overdone! Though I do believe it's time to have my office carpet cleaned. It tastes foul! Collecting myself, I pulled a blank data tab from my desk and copied the requested data. Offering her the tab, I asked. "So, Miss Shy, why are you here?"

She blushed! "Well...." Her voice quieted, "Rainbow called me the other day and asked if I could help you with your "Stamina" issues?"

Now the whole Bucking carpet is going be ripped out of my office and burned! My turn to blush."OH dear Goddesses! We were dunk! Had not slept .....GAAAAH!"

Was she giggling? A smile that would light your way through darkest Tartarus shown on her face as she produced a bottle of pink fluid. "You poor dear. Time is not being kind to any of us. Now just before you wish to be intimate, you take this bottle, shake it lightly, pull the stopper and touch it to your tongue. It will put the canter right back into your love life."

I was blushing. No pony could blush this hard. Was my mane smoldering? I took the bottle.

"There now, Chief Fixer, you'll be all better. Thank you for the matrix data. I know my way out. See you!" And with a swish of her mane and tail, out the door she went.

Did I hear a little giggle as she went down the hall? With a shaking hoof I managed to press the intercom button to my secretary. I calmly asked her to locate and make an appointment with Commander Dash. We needed to "Talk".

Time marches on. The M.A.S. scientists were quick to work on our issue and with the help of the M.W.T. the new evolution suits went into production. They were a cross between the older E.A.V. suits and the existing Stryker Pegasus body armor with a pressurized heated body suit and a new gem based power pack. Twenty new units eventually arrived at the hanger. We stored the original E.A.V. suits with the exception of numbers 1, 5, 24 and 25. The high speed, high altitude, Recon missions would not go away. The new suits couldn't handle those, but filled all other rolls. Not as high altitude. Not as fast, but, fast enough. They included a stable gem matrix that would not go boom if broken, with a far stronger power system that needed no recharge for the next millennium!

The first ten suits were in standard Equestrian forces colors. The last ten came in one by one. The first suit hung at station 14. Station 13 would forever remain empty. Suit 13 was the only suit we lost entirely. We still had our wounded. We even suffered deaths in the field and O'Grady's is still in business....I think Rainbow owns the Bucking place! A bronze plaque bolted to the floor down the center of Thirteen's bay holds the list of our fallen. Dedicated first and foremost to "Yardstick" Reid Longquill. May you rest at Celestia's right hoof, holding Luna's spear and sword to avenge us all!"

I still have trouble walking by that bay.

Suit 14 came to us by way of the Ministry of Image. Rainbow witnessed the unpacking of the new suit. Zippy and Buzzy were like foals at a Hearths' Warming Eve celebration. Nickering and kicking at any other maintenance Tech that even looked at the case the wrong way. They released the locks and slowly hoisted a black helmet with sinister looking purple rimmed fixed goggles from the case. The suit itself was dark purple trimmed in gold lightening bolts running to black at the chest plate and armored shoes. A white winged pony skull rode the armor flank. Rainbow positively pranced and squeed.

The Shadowbolts, to my mind, was an old mares' tale, but Rainbow had a simple flight suit of the same pattern. On several missions, when she wore this suit, her flight recorder showed the Zebras practically killing themselves to get away from her attacks. On several of those data reviews, she had a much higher body count than the strafing run could account for....Go figure....It's Rainbow. Ground troops captured several Zebras after these runs who were screaming incoherently in their own tongue something to do with "Star Devil" or "Cursed Devil from the Stars".

"MINE! MINE!MINE!MINE!MINE!" Rainbow practically vibrated in place.

I pulled the long curtain around bay 14. In a loud voice I said,"SHOWS OVER FOALS! Get back to your stations if you're not helping Zippy or Buzzy!" I poked my head back into the curtain not realizing Buzzy had been ejected from the bay. Standing there was Rainbow being assisted by Zippy installing the suit's rather sensitive bodily function connections. The "EEP" was epic! I stated,"Oh come on it's not like I haven't....."


I felt teeth on my tail. Buzzy pulled me out of the curtain and began to haul me to bay 2. "BUZZY! LET GO! I CAN GET THERE ON MY OWN" I squalled!

Buzzy chuckled "The bottle in your desk says you can't. Should I go get that for you too?"


Buzzy grinned."No, Fix. Come to think of it, none of us do. We're just one big happy family! Now get your CHIEFEE flank into bay 2!"

Standing on the trim pad Rainbow, Zippy, Buzzy and I went through the functional checks with both suits set to mirror the other. A hard cable connected the suits to a hoof-held data relay and trim package. The goggles scrolled the the various function checks and settings. Both suits were equipped with the user's weapons choice. Rainbow chose her favorite quad linked heavy machine guns. I prefered the dual automatic cannons with heavy explosive tipped rounds. This suit could also hover under power. You could flap your wings at a point five power setting and simply float above the ground effortlessly even carrying heavy weapons. Zippy gave us the command to power up to point two and flap our wings. Wings beating in time Zippy tapped at a few trim functions and signaled us to power down and standby.

With the new suit synced and functioning properly Zippy signaled Buzzy to pull the hard cable. No longer connected to the ground comms Zippy gave hoof signals to power up and hover. We hovered for just a bit when Zippy gave the hoof signal to touch down remain powered and be prepared for manual weapons check and charge. Buzzy quickly checked chambers and manually charged all weapons. The suits registered weapons hot, we hoof signaled Zippy. She signaled us to weapon safe, and we signaled back our compliance. Zippy grinned and gave us the release to launch hoof signal, saluted Rainbow, and ran to the back of the trim pad slapping my flank armor hard as she passed.

My yelp went though the comms as Rainbow piped up,"Home Plate This is AWESOME ONE. Need to register a new call sign."


"AWESOME ONE this is Home Plate. Ready to copy."


"Home Plate register SHADOW ONE. Copy?"


"Rodger SHADOW ONE. You have been cleared to pad 4. All traffic shows clear. You may take off at your discretion. Will give you over to Bravo 1 once you're in the Manehattan control region. Good Hunting SHADOW ONE Home Plate out."

The comms static died and I just had to ask,"So.... This isn't a check flight is it." More statement of fact than question. I saw Rainbow smile as she lifted into a hover.

"I cleared you to full combat status this morning, Fix. What? Didn't you see the orders this morning? OH..Right! She just said sign here, here and here didn't she? I like your secretary. She is so efficient. Maybe she should come to O'Grady's with us tonight."

My "HARRUMPH" was audible. Rainbow's laughter was, too."Oh come on Fix! You only live once!" She hovered over to pad 4. No sooner had I joined her when she shot away with me in hot pursuit. She circled, allowed me to catch her in a slow arc we began the run to the Manehatten control region at full speed. Two pink rings flared and vanished just south of Cloudsdale in our wake.