Fallout Equestria: Dashed Hopes

by Ironwolves21

First published

In the ruins of stalliongrad, can love Truly survive?

Dew Cloud is a maintenance pegasus in the settlement of Thunderhead, The world has been dead for 200 years, the ministries, the princesses, all dead. Dews family is dead and gone,much like the world below Thunderhead, or so she was told. With the help of an old friend against the horrors of the wastes, Can Dew find what she's looking for? Or will her hopes be dashed among the concrete and broken rebar of Stalliongrad?

By the way, this is my first Fic, so any advice would be appreciated

Thanks to Khat and Somber for bringing me this glorious world in which my characters are apart of.

Another day in the life

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Dashed Hopes
Chapter 1

'So come pull the sheet over my eyes, so i can sleep tonight, despite what I've seen today'

The straps dug tightly into my fore-hooves, the searing pain in my abdomen dulled to a painful throb as the med-x did its job. The Pony responsible for all the anguish and pain was next to me in an instant, his whispering voice fell upon me like a sledgehammer;

“You can make it end Dew Cloud, you know what i want.”

He was a liar! I didn't know, I would never know if he kept cutting me open and fucking with my insides! I felt the hot tears rolling down my cheeks and onto the cold steel table. The Buck leaned in, sniffing and giggling at me.

“Please, leave me alone! I don't know what you want from me! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!!

The Buck roared with laughter at my fear, suddenly he stopped, turned and raced 'till he was parallel with my eyes. He smelt of antibiotics and death, he snorted at me with a look of pure rage.

“You fucking nag! You know what i want! AND I WILL GET IT FROM YOU, one way OR another...”

This pony was insane! I had to get out of here somehow! I had to- oh goddess no!
The Buck had climbed onto the table until he was towering over me, starring down with black eyes. He leaned in closer until he was almost touching my nose and whispered

“The first time always the hardest Ms. Cloud, but I will enjoy this, I WILL enjoy YOU.”

The buck slammed into me, spearing me with his member. I screamed in anguish as he showed no mercy to my virginity. He started laughing,Thrusting harder, leaning in closer until his eyes met my tear-streaked ones.


What the fuck? Wha-


Please just sto-


I awoke with a cry, and slammed the snooze button on my alarm clock. I fell back sobbing onto my already tear soaked pillow, curled into a tight ball as I whimpered to my self.

It took me ten minutes to get my sobbing under control, I rose to my hooves and trotted to the small bathroom in my apartment. In the mirror was a pitiful sight, but one i was used to; An orange pegasus mare with a messy black mane, puffy red eyes, all cried out. Eyes that should be a pale blue. I turned the taps and splashed the ice cold water on my face, trying to drown the demons of my sleep-terrors for the 3 time this week.

After washing my face and combing my mane, i started to change into my overalls and utility barding so i could head to work.

“Dangit I'm gonna be late again! Buzzsaw will kill me if I miss the start of my shift!”

I gobbled down some half cooked toast and raced out the door, slipping and skidding over the mail that had accumulated at my door, I'd check it when i got home from work.

I exited my home, straight into the crowded streets of Thunderhead. I started due west in a quick trot, last time i tried to run, well it didn't end well. A group of enclave soldiers were lazing around the local cafe, probably hoping to score with one of the waitresses.
One of the looked up long enough to see my approach.

“Hey Dew Cloud! Come here for a sec!”

Shit. It was Black Rain, one of my old classmates from flight school, Of all the assholes i could have run into on my way to work, it had to be him.

“I'm late as it is Rain! Can it wait?” I silently pleaded that he'd let me walk past without incident.

“ Aw come on babe! Me an' the boys want your company, you wouldn't want to make me angry now would you?”

“Come on Rain, leave me alone.”

Some of the other soldier sneered at me, predatory looks in their eyes, one of them actually licked his lips! Celestia please just kill me now.

Black Rain obviously wasn't in the waiting mood, he lifted himself from the table and flew over to me, blocking my desired route.

“What, you think you can just walk away from me Dew? If you're done blowing up military equipment, maybe you can blow something else?”

His friends seemed to like that idea, as another two of his lackeys moved to block my rear.

“Oh please Rain, like you have anything worth mention down there.”

Shit, Me and my big mouth. Black Rain was pissed, he most definitely had compensation issues, and now he was going to take them out on me. Shit.

“ Come on Rain, show her who we are!”

His friends were goading him along, not that he needed the help. He was taller and bulkier than me, he was also wearing armour, as were all his friends. They could easily over power me.
Over Black Rains shoulder i spotted an military police officer headed in our direction.

I pushed past Rain, trying to wave down the officer, the officer looked at me, his eyes narrowed as he promptly turned and trotted off in the other direction. Well fuck you to Mr. MP.

“What you thought that anyone give a shit about a dashite bitch like you? We're doing Thunderhead a favour teaching you some manners. Ain't that right boys?”

His friends jeered at me, obviously in agreement as they encircled me AGAIN.

“Well then, lets take you somewhere more priva-”

“You Boys best be leavin' her alone ya hear?”

At the sound of that glorious accent I knew that the cavalry was here! I looked at the owner of the deep Neighvarro accent to see My supervisor and legal guardian Buzzsaw. I pushed past Rain to reach Saws side, I turned to look at the three armoured soldiers, which were quite angry towards the two of us.

“Listen here you old fuck, this dashite is coming with us, and i don't think you're stopping all three of us. Now why don't you just turn your old ass around and walk away before we break you!”

“Please Saw i just want to get out of here!”

“Don't worry about them sparky, me an' my friend were just about to straighten them out.”


Black Rain and his lackeys eyes went big, the look of fear and hatred frozen onto their faces as they snapped to attention. A Large Mare landed next to Buzzsaw, she was in full power armour and didn't look happy.


The voice amplification talisman was obviously working to full capacity as Drill sergeant Whip Crack went up one side and down the other of the gang of young soldiers.


After the Bucks had turned tail and fled towards the barracks, the boisterous sergeant turned to us and cracked open her visor, to my surprise she wore a big grin on her sharp face.

“Buzzsaw you old shit disturber, It's been too long!”

Whip and Saw shared in a quick hug before Saw spoke.

“ It's been to long Whip, But I'm glad yall showed up when ya' did, those bucks were out of control.”

“ Yes, I apologize for their behaviour towards the both of you, but trust me when i say this: they won't be hearing the end of it for a long time.”

Whip Crack looked at me, a look of sadness quickly crossed her face, but in a flash, it was gone.

“You alright Dew? I hope they didn't hurt you.”

“No, I'm alright Whip, I've been through worse. I just wish ponies would stop calling me a Dashite, I've never even been to the surface!”

“ I know dear, But you know how some pegasi get with family members of a dashite, they don't seem to understand, that ponies family are still working members of our society. And that they have very little to do with the flight of that one dashie. Idiots.”

The Dashite in question was my sister, Trueheart. She had fled to the surface after our fathers death, leaving me for the orphanage.

“I understand Whip, It just hurts to be reminded everywhere that she's gone.”

Buzzsaw quickly reminded me of my previous need to get to work and broke off the conversation.

“Whip it was good to see you again, we should meet at Sidewinders for a drink,
Dew, you're late for work, lets get a move on.”

“ Alright, see you around Whip!”

The armoured mare nodded with a smile, taking to the skies in the direction the gang had taken off too minutes ago.

“Thank you Saw, I don't know what i would have down if you hadn't shown up.”

In all honesty, I had a pretty good idea of what would have happened, but i didn't want to dwell on it, lest my nightmare come back up.

“ Well someones gotta' look after y'all sparky, Might as well be me.”

We continued towards our place of work, the Thunderhead Maintenance compound. It was a small collection of buildings where anything and everything was either repaired or salvaged. The centre builder was where the teams were coordinated and sent out to do the repairs that couldn't just be brought in.

“ We're working at the waterworks today Sparky, clock in and grab your gear”

Upon my return we set off for the waterworks for another day of dirty work. We weaved through the tight corridors and airspace of Thunderhead, My brain struggling to cope with it all.

When we entered the waterworks i was assailed by crushing claustrophobia, the works were much smaller than i remembered. But the job needed to be done, not to mention I'd been here countless times. I remember the first time I was in my apartment, the effects had been so bad i could barely open my eyes. It had taken me nearly a month to gt used to my own home. But something more terrifying was on my mind than my claustrophobia.

“I had that same dream again Saw. The one with the table and the buck.”

Buzzsaw stopped his welder and sighed, turning to me.

“The exact same one as the others?”

“Yea, that one.”

I was on the verge of tears upon remembering the horrible nightmare, but talking with saw always helped me get over my fears.

“Then those bucks Started with their bullshit.”

I nodded, the tears were flowing now, i couldn't stop them any longer. Saw let out a sigh and flapped over to me, Putting one of his light blue wings over me, he tried his best to calm me down.

“I just miss her so much, and mom and dad! I want these stupid dreams to stop and everyone to stop treating me like shit! I want friends who don't laugh at me behind my back and abandon me!”

I wanted a lot of things, but in Thunderhead, not every ponies dreams come true.

It was dark when I dragged myself through my apartment door, Work had been hard, but with Saw, nothing was impossible. I was lucky to have Buzzsaw on my side, Without him, I would be a basket-case. I threw my clothes onto the bed, turning to the small pile of mail on the floor.

Bill, Bill, Bill, Spam, Letter- Wait what? A letter? I never get mail !
Something about this letter, well it was a parcel really, was strange. I looked over it, much to my chagrin i found the official stamp and seal of the enclave high command sealing the back.

I really didn't know if i wanted to open it, but something compelled me to do so.

They were pictures, aerial photos really, but that's not what got my attention. It was a dossier, on my dashite sister. Who was dead. Or so i was told, the photos and papers made a compelling argument towards her survival of the surface.

The photos were only dated to last week! She was in an area called 'Stalliongrad Ruins' It looked like she was entering a tunnel of some sort, with a few other ponies trailing behind her.


Trueheart was alive! I... I had to get to her, somehow. I spent the entire night packing my bags with my meagre provisions and some spare clothes. I would have to tell Buzzsaw. Of all the pegasi in Thunderhead, he was the only one who had looked out for me when my life had fallen apart.

It was well past midnight when i knocked on Saws door, and from the sounds of things, he was home and not happy that he was being disturbed. The door was pulled open to reveal a tired Saw, who i quickly brushed past to get inside.

“Sparky what are you doing here in the middle of the night? Is-”

I could Barely contain myself, I don't think I'd smiled like this since i was just a filly.

“She's alive Saw!”

“Who's alive and-”

“Trueheart! Saw, my sister is alive!”

He looked at me for a moment, the look of confusion and surprise etched into his face

“How do-”

“I got these photos in the mail! I don't know who sent them, but they're from Enclave high command! It's a complete file on her, the last photo was taken only a week ago!”

I was practically shaking when i hoofed the parcel over from my side to Saws table, where he began to sort through the photos.

“What are you planning Dew.”

It was just then that i realized that, I didn't have a plan, not really. It consisted of; get things, go to surface, find Trueheart. Only then did i realize that i didn't know a damn thing about the surface. I was helpless.

“I-I'm going to the surface, I'm going to find her Saw, I need to.”

Saw just sat there, looking over the dossier of my sister.

“You'll never be able to come back. They'll kill you.”

I hadn't thought of that. But he was right, If i ran to the surface, I'd never be able to come back to Thunderhead. EVER.

“I need to do this Saw, She's the only family I've got left...”

I wish Saw would move more, say something smart, come up with a plan. Anything would be better than the silence that clung to the room.

“ I got a call a few hours ago, Lightning rod 46d went offline today, If you could head out there and assess the damage, I would meet you with my tools. We would get the next day off.”

That's it... did he even listen to me? Doesn't he- wait...

“S-Sure Saw, I'll Get right on it...”

Minutes later i was flying towards 46d, hoping Saw actually had something planned, but when i got there, I wasn't so sure.

The Lightning Rod was sparking and vibrating in ways it shouldn't have been, Buzzsaw wasn't joking about the equipment malfunction, and i could easily see the culprit.

Black carapace armour that was half fused, half blown apart littered the cloud, a pegasus body was wedged into the Arc capacitors, effectively killing the pony and damaging the device. I scanned the cloud in disgust, But the soft thump-thump of hooves drew my attention.
I turned to see Buzzsaw wearing an old red Sweater and a heavy vest, his bags and tool box were strapped to his stocky body. Saw looked over the accident site, trotted forward and grabbed a small grey boxy shape off the cloud. It was a laser pistol, I'd used one in Basic training before the incident, but it had been years since i'd fired one.

“Take it Dew, We'll need it down there.”

“Wait, you're coming with me? I didn't think that-”

Saw lifted a hoof to silence me, he hoofed the pistol over to me, along with a plastic leg holster.
He then trotted over to the Lightning rod, easily deactivating it with a pull on the gem cluster.

“You won't survive down there Dew, the surface isn't a safe place for someone like you.”

How did he...
“I'm going after her Saw and you can't stop me, please just-

“I'm coming with ya' little one, Someones gotta look after y'all down there.”

I starred at him in shock, He was throwing away his life to keep me safe. I couldn't let him do that.

“Offers not up for debate, I'm going with you, if not, you aren't going at all. We should go, before the actual repair crew gets here”

“But what about the body? Should we-”

“Leave it, we're going down now.”

That went well.

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Dashed Hopes
Chapter 2

“Todays Forecast: A Bloody mess, with a chance of friendship.”

The surface was... very brown. I could see large, bent obsidian towers off in the distance, which glowed an ominous green. The ground was rough and broken, with small patches of dead... Well i think it's grass, I'd never seen it before. I was so taken aback by my bleak surrounding I didn't even hear Buzzsaw talking.

“-figure we've got two days or so before they figure it out.”

Shit, Buzzsaw always gets flustered when I don't listen to him, I doubt he would be pleased if he found out now. So to avoid another unpleasant situation with my only friend, I spoke up.

“So, uh, where are we exactly? I mean, If you know of course, cause this is all very overwhelming and all and-”

Saw placed a hoof over my mouth to silence me, I then realized i was hyperventilating.
The impact of my decisions started to fall in front of me, but before i could do something stupid Buzzsaw headed me off.

“Now listen here Dew, I know this is y'alls first fore-aye to the surface and all, but there's nothin' to be scared of. We're near the ruins of Hoofin'ton, , a pretty dangerous place in its own right, but since those photos were taken near Stalliongrad, we won't need to go into The Hoof proper, now-”

I spaced out again, How did Saw know so much about the surface? I thought that anypony who went below the cloud layer was proclaimed a Dashite? How could he know so much and not be one?


I may have screamed, Saw visibly flinched. What the hell was that?!

“What the FUCK was that Saw!?”

Before Saw could answer, the sky opened up into a torrential downpour, soaking me to the core in a split second. I couldn't see five hooves in front of myself for all the rain that was coming down. I felt Saw drag me in some direction, his words lost to me under the deafening roar of rushing water. Then I saw it; off in the distance, through the heavy rain. A small rounded building standing against the onslaught of rain. Saw gestured towards it but I was way ahead of him, moving as quickly as the rain would let me towards the bastion against the elements.

It seemed like an eternity before we reached the small building, as we entered the building we were assaulted by the stench of stale air and dust, which was strange, because it seemed like most of the windows had been blown out. Under the failing light we shook ourselves semi-dry. Saw was the first to speak;

“Welcome to th' Wasteland Sparky, It seems that Celestia's already wept for us.”

“What? I don't understand Saw. Who's Celestia? And why is she weeping? Why-”

“Child, please, slow them questions to one at a time.”

I found myself at a loss for words, I just didn't know anymore.

“What... What do we do now?”

“I suggest y'all get some sleep, It's been a trying day for ya, Don't argue, I know exactly what y'all is gonna say. I'll be on watch for the fist half, I'll then wake you for your shift.”

“A-Alright, I don't-*sigh* alright, Saw, I'll find somewhere comfy to sleep.”

Saw seemed... different, he wasn't the old neighvarro reject supervisor that had adopted me, he was something completely different. After a lazy search, i found the rotted remains of someponies camp huddled behind a receptionists desk. I waved Saw over to show him our new impromptu home.

“Well this is the best i could find given the circumstances, I hope it's not infected with earth pony diseases.”

Saw stiffled a chuckle, I shot him a look that stopped any further comments.
Or so I thought.

“ Y'all might want ta try and dry off, Ya look like a drowned griffon!”

Oh you bastard! I don't look that bad! Did I? Giving myself a shake, I found out that, I most likely did look like a drowned something. I frowned at Saw who found it right to laugh (AGAIN!) at my soaking disposition. My mane was hanging limply around me, my coat was matted to my slim body, and my head-wrap probably wasn't in much better condition. As I was too preoccupied with my sorry state of being, I barely noticed Saw slip out to stand watch. If I could only find a mirror, I could try and figure out the mess I was in.

I looked over my surroundings, trying to get some kind of idea as to where I was, looked like an office building, or maybe a massage parlour? I wonder- The realization hit me like an out-of control vertibuck. I just left the only home I've ever know to chase after a sibling who hadn't even said good-bye when she left me alone in the world, I'd just sacrificed the only life I'd ever had, as well as Buzzsaws, on that of a hunch. Were did the photos come from? Why was I only thinking about this now?!

I was crying, my own thoughts turned against me, My brain churning over and over, trying to figure a way to make this all worth it, not just to myself, but to Saw as well.
I brought myself under control, after all, now was not the time for a mental break-down, I got the feeling I wouldn't be able to have another good break-down for a long time. I rose to my hooves, no general direction in mind.

“I need to find myself a bathroom, Then we move from there.”

After a short search i found the little fillies room and made my way towards the mirrors, expecting to see a hideous dashite.

In the mirror I saw; Me. I wasn't sure what I expected, All I saw was my orange coat, wetter than usual, and my black mane wrapped in my blue head-wrap. My eyes had some built up sleep crud that hadn't been removed after my nightmare, but they were still their usual cool blue. I remembered my old ex-coltfriend, who had said that he was attracted to my eyes, I thought he had meant it, but as it turns out he was more interested in what was under my tail than what was in my face. With the single recognition of that memory, one of my more traumatizing moments came back to the front of my mind.

Rain had beat on my door for ten minutes demanding i let him in, I had just dumped him, He had gotten way too aggressive for my liking, demanding that I rut with him, That I give up myself to him. If I hadn't gotten re-scheduled to an early shift, we would have been on a small picnic on the outer farm cloud layer. He would have had me whether I wanted it or not. The Screaming and hollering got louder and more obnoxious, He had left for awhile, then come back, probably with a weapon. It seemed likely that if he got in, It wouldn't matter what I said, He wasn't the kind of buck to take rejection lightly. My door splintered and cracked under his weight, I had backed my small love-seat against the door in hopes of keeping him out. I think I was crying, I couldn't understand why he was so angry, let alone at me.

Then the kicking stopped; It seemed strange, how he could go from a raging lunatic to a silent stallion just like that. The neighbours had tried to calm him down a few minutes ago, but all i heard was muffled threats and the neighbours door closing again. I slowly got up from my braced position against the love-seat, only for a door-shattering apple-buck to be sent through my thin door, propelling the furniture into me and pinning me against the wall as the green buck cantered over to my trapped position.

“I told you you fucking nag, I told you to let me in, BUT NOOO, some bitch had to lock the door, made me have to go through it to get what's mine! But that's oh-kay, because you've always played hard to get, now that we're alone why don't we get down to business?”

Rains eye twitched as his toxic smile and alcoholic breath assaulted me, promising a horrible, painful night if I even so much as moved wrong. I did the only thing I could think of. I gave in.

“A-a-alright Rain, you win, I don't know what i was thinking, it's all just so, uh, sudden! I can't think of anypony else in all of T-Thunderhead that i would rather... Have than you!”

If Rain hadn't been so intoxicated, he could have easily seen through my horrible attempt at not getting my face beaten to a pulp, instead all he saw was another weak, pathetic mare lifting her tail for him.

“ Damn fucking straight whore!” His smile widened as he pushed the furniture off me and hauled me to my hooves, but he didn't let go...

“Now why don't you give me what i want, hey sexy? You know you want me inside you, stop playing with me and LET. ME. IN.”

He had me up against the kitchen counter, His hot breath on my shoulder, He was trying to get his eyes to line up through the haze of alcohol, trying to get on target. I didn't want to lose my virginity like this! I couldn't have it taken from me by some inbred asshat! As Rain prepared to take the only thing pure i had left, i grabbed the handle of my only good frying pan.

Turning on the spot I cracked Rain square in the jaw, Upon impact i heard a sickening crunch( Later learned I had broken and dislocated his jaw, as well as cracked three back teeth) and Rain fell to the floor, dazed and bleeding from the mouth. I may have stepped on his package during my mad dash for the door. I flew all the way to work, where Buzzsaw found me whimpering under my workbench. He accompanied me back home to ensure my safety. Since that incident Rain has always kept his distance, only every so often making my life hell for as long as he found possible.

Back in the real world, I found myself in a grubby bathroom, with cracked and broken mirrors on one wall over several wash-basins. The opposite wall contained the toilets, but from the smell, I figured I'd find somewhere else to relieve myself. Off hoofedly, I wondered why it was always rape. Why couldn't ponies just yell at each other or just get along? Why did it always devolve into rape? Maybe it was just me who was threatened with unwanted-violent intercourse. ALL THE TIME. I'd been able to avoid it so far, but who knew what tomorrow held?

I was too busy being philosophical to notice the presence of the other pony in front of me as I made my way out of the bathroom, I promptly ram face first into him.

“Shit! Sorry Saw, i just needed to find somewhere to clean up, I didn't mean to-”

Wait. Saw wasn't yellow, and he definitely didn't have... OH SHIT


I turned tail and ran from the cackling yellow mare who was hot on my hooves. I turned a sharp corner to find only one door that wasn't blocked by debris, I charged through as a loud crack filled the hallway, A loud bang filled my ears as horrible pain shrieked into my flank. I stumbled on the broken tile, my momentum carried me into the far wall, which caused soggy ceiling tiles to fall around me. The piss yellow mare looked over my pained position against the wall, a bloody brown smirk revealing her horrid teeth and equally horrid breath. The mare yelled something at me, but it was muffled by my ringing ears and the blocky object protruding from the side of her mouth, I'm sure it had to do with rape.

I tried to get up from the floor, only to have a cracked hoof meet the side of my head, I stumbled, and went down with a thump. As I struggled to get my bearings the mare stomped on my chest, laughing and giggling at my girlish squeal and cries of agony. Then I remembered; MY LASER PISTOL! Oh you are so going to- wait, where the fuck is my laser-


My vision came into sharp focus as the Block in the mares mouth flared and my stomach exploded into an inferno of pain. I screamed and sobbed in agony, blood trickling from my mouth onto the dirty floor as another dirty pony entered the kitchen, he found the entire scene amusing, he said something about eating to the piss yellow mare, who apparently found it hilarious and agreed with gusto. But i couldn't hear them well, because I'D BEEN SHOT!

As i lay there, bleeding from my various holes, I wondered, are they going to rape me? Oh i hope not, I hope they just leave me alone, I don't want to-

My train of though was interrupted by a flying object impale the bucks head, pinning it to the oven over-hang, A tall stallion charged into the room, the Mare didn't stand a chance as his long horn speared her neck, severing everything important to life.

The buck slid the now very dead piss yellow mare off his horn and onto the ground, he then trotted over to my bleeding out self, I brought my eyes up to meet his. Oh my... If i hadn't been about to die, I might have blushed, but lack of blood made it very hard.

“P-please, I don't want to die, I just *cough* want t-t-to find my sister, I-”

The buck took a needle out of his saddle bag and slid it into my fore-hoof, upon pushing the plunger all my pain melted away into a dull throb, The buck started to tell me what needed to be down, but i was too happy being not-dead to really listen much.

“Going to re-align your ribs, if i just feed you the potion now, It'll hurt like a motherfucker. Here, bite this.”

The stallion then slid off his belt(Oh yes! Keep going!) and put it in my mouth (huh? Whats he-)

Another needle was slid into my fore-hoof and the belt was removed from my mouth. I let out a timid cry in memory of the horrid pain I had just endured. Before I could voice my sudden hate for him a purple liquid was poured down my throat and all the pain slowly melted away to nothing. I closed my eyes for a moment as I felt my insides patch themselves back together. After my skin stopped crawling I made a hesitant look towards my stomach to find; A perfectly normal belly, with a faint pink scar that was quickly fading away. I decided that i didn't need to hate him anymore, he was most definitely forgiven!

I felt a warm wave wash over my body, as I was suddenly lifted into the air and onto the stallions back, and he began to take me out of the kitchen, which upon closer inspection, was A LOT worse than it had looked from when I had entered. Blood caked almost every wall, there were signs that my two attackers had started a fire in the middle, and various body parts were in the industrial mixer. I decided that looking away would be best, as I was sure this stallion didn't want me to puke on him.

Shortly after being lifted onto my saviours back, I heard some thickly accented yelling, followed by a voice I knew very little of.

“Who in tarnation!? You leave Dew Cloud alone you hear me boy!? I don't wanna-”

“How bout' you stop yellin' at me, and start thinking of what you're going to do about your raider problem.”

The stranger somehow lifted me off his back and onto my suddenly inescapably comfy mattress. He then turned to address Saw again, who had a look of confusion and worry plastered across his face.

“Listen mister, There ain't no raiders here, I would have heard the-”

“I pulled two hollow point ten millimetre rounds out of her, one out of her flank and the other out of her stomach. I had to use two hits of med-x to calm her down and a full healing poultice to fill the holes, her ribs were fucked and she was about to be turned into raider chow. If I hadn't done what needed to be done, YOU would have been next.”

Buzzsaw inhaled to start his argument, only to find that the buck had turned away from him, only then did he realize that the strange buck was right, Both myself and he would be dead if not for this buck, who's name I really wanted to know.

“Thank you”

I normally had problems talking to bucks my age( I assumed he was) But i felt that he deserved something for his kindness.

“Hmm? Oh don't mention it lass, just consider yourself a very lucky mare, If i hadn't been here, well, yeah.”

“So, uh, whats your name? I mean, if its ok for me to ask! I, um, hehe”

Well fuck you too brain. I thought we had a deal!? I looked at the ground around my hooves, which had become very interesting as of the last two seconds. I could feel my face turning red through my orange coat, oh please don't notice-
The stallion chuckled, taking a seat near me, while Buzzsaw was eyeing the new-comer with suspicion.

“Well I doubt that my full name means anything out here as of late, so you can call me Riot. Iron 'Riot' Venture, at your service.”

Riot did a little bow to punctuate his statement, giving me the full view of his guns. (NOT LIKE THAT YOU JERKS!) He had two much larger versions of what the yellow mare had been carrying mounted on his sides, with a bit piece to fire. I had seen other contraptions like this in thunderhead, but they were usually integrated with armour, and packing magical weaponry. These looked stocky and gruff, with long barrels and thick clips mounted in the back. By accident my eyes met his while checking out his armaments, I probably turned as red as the red-light district in Thunderhead.

“So, what brings such fine pegasi down from the cloud curtain? You definitely aren't enclave spies, that's for sure.”

“What do y'all mean 'Not enclave spies?' What says we ain't?”

“Spies have more than a shitty laser pistol and a pipe wrench to defend them selves, and don't get me started on your barding, She doesn't even have any.”

Buzzsaw was taken aback by Riots statement, It seemed that he wouldn't be winning any argument with Riot anytime soon. Saw seemed to be reconsidering his opinion of the grey stallion.
Time to say something Dew, Get his attention, find out who he is and... and... shiit. I suck at this.

“So, uh, my names Dew Cloud!”

The Buck turned his head to me because of my sudden out-burst, He had lighter blue eyes than mine, his mane was a vibrant yellowy-orange, with bursts of red along it. He had a well maintained beard that matched his mane, and scars that popped up sporadically across his face, his nose looked like it had been broken and reset many times. His coat was a light slate grey, but i could only see his hooves and face, as a vast majority of his body was covered by what i could only assume was armour, and a deep brown trench coat. He had a strange device clamped onto his left fore-hoof and- wait, shit he's said something and I spaced, Fuckity shit Fuck. Hang your head Dew, shame on you for doin that! First nice buck you meet who doesn't want to rape you and you go and ignore him and blatantly check him out! SHAME.

“Well considerin' ya were fine enough given yer name, might as well give mine, Ya can call me Buzzsaw. I'm Sparkies legal guardian.”

“Interestin, we don't see many of that round here. Legal guardian that is, I suppose its an old-world thing hmm?”

“It's a long story Mr. Venture, but first off I want to know why you said we had a raider problem, I haven't seen hide nor hair of any raiders yet.”

“Upstairs, prolly bout' four to six of em' at least, one has serious combat experience, the rest with plenty of weapons and ammo to go round.”

“And how do you know that?”

“I've been planning on how to take these buggers out for a short while now, they've been preying on fleeing refugees and other travellers along the highway for sometime now. I had a full plan laid out, when lo and behold, two pegasi trundle straight in through the monsoon and throw a wrench in the works.”

He could have left us... to die. Why didn't he? Maybe-

“Storms letting up now, I have to take them out or they'll cut you down when you try to leave.”

Oh shit. Well this can't possibly go well at all!

I heard the raider hit the floor before i even saw her, Riot yarded his combat knife from the mares throat while his magic muffled any noise she made, The mares kicking was futile.
Not even a half hour before, Riot had told us of the group sitting above us, only separated by a single rotting, soggy floor. They were horrible folk, dealing with slavers and.. EATING other ponies. Riot had returned my pistol to me, apparently I had dropped it in the hallway when I had originally run into the first raider. I kind of volunteered myself and Buzzsaw to help him with his mission, after all, it was the least i could do for the stallion who had saved my life barely an hour ago. Buzzsaw may have been unhappy about my new-found affection for Riot, but he kept quiet about it, for now.

Riot directed us to the only remaining stairwell left in the resturant, and silently eliminated the guard with efficiency Black Rain could never even dream about. Then he did something gross and completely uncalled for! He started looting her body!

“What are you doing? Leave her alone!”

Riot rolled his eyes at me, muttering something about 'bloody newcomers' and not staying silent. I'm sorry but it's just wrong to loot the dead! No matter how mean they are!

My train of thought was halted by the Chak-klak coming from Riots battle-saddle(He had told me what it was when he swapped out his ammunition for something with more 'punch'.) He motioned for us to stay for now as he crept up beyond the threshold of the stairs. There was a whirling sound, followed by grinding as the air around us turned into hot death. Riot fell backwards towards us with four smoking holes in his chest. My breath caught in my throat as I watch the grey buck labour for breath.

But as quickly as he had fallen, another purple flask was at his lips, the drink quickly downed as the still hot lead was pushed from his wounds and onto the ground.

“My turn you dumb shits.” With his magic he pulled the sash off of the dead raider one flight down, bringing with it a host of metallic looking apples. Riot pulled all the pins simultaneously and hurled the sash over the stairs.



The air was filled with hot shrapnel in place of the lead, I barely dodged a severed leg which sailed well past me and into Buzzsaws face.

Riot didn't waste a second, Bounding past the top of the stairs, the retorts from his saddle filled the stairwell, Fast bursts that had only the come-back of his own guns to answer them. As my hearing came back from the onslaught, I only barely caught Riots order to move up and find the survivors.


A bloody raider charged at me from a side hall, but the shock of his voice was cut in half by the magical weapon in my mouth. The pool-cue dropped from his grip as he tried to feebly re-attach his disintegrated jaw. I felt something slip and fall away from me as I put a second magical bolt to his chest.

The flurry of the battle was lost to me, It was only me and the dead buck, I had responded too quickly to think, he hadn't given me a choice, But It didn't change anything. I had just killed a pony. I felt sorrow welling up in my chest, I knew that the raider didn't deserve it, for all the things this group had done to other ponies. It didn't take away the hurt. I don't know how long i sat there, staring at the dead buck at my hooves. My laser pistol lay discarded on the ground next to me, It felt... dirty.

Riot approached me, I could hear Saw digging through something in another room.

“The first ones always the hardest. I wish I could say It'll get easier, But it shouldn't.
Don't worry about every body and corpse in the wasteland Dew, You'll drive your self insane. Hell just look at Security!”


I'd never heard of this Security, but he sounded, well, protective I suppose.

“Oh, right, you're new to this whole thing ain't you? I'll keep my references to a minimum then.”

I really didn't understand what he was talking about, but when he put that hoof on my slumped shoulder, I could bear the world again, even if just for awhile.

We walked past the corpses in the hall, into the main room in which the grenades had been tossed. From what i could tell, two raiders had been caught in the explosion. One being the raider who had shot Riot, with this massive gun that had multiple rotating barrels, but its bullets looked smaller than the ones Riot used. The gun itself had been slagged by the explosion, the raider had been finished with a round to the skull. Another buck was slumped against the wall, with four large holes perforating his body. Saw was busy trying to open thick safe near the east wall, the safe itself was pitted and scarred from various attempts to get inside. After a small ping Saw growled in frustration, tossing a small screwdriver at the safe door. He stood and addressed Riot.

“Well, I think we got them all, three in this room, one on the stairs, with another in the side hallway. There's a locked door over yonder, can't get the stupid thing open. Didn't hear nothin' from inside so I think we're clear.”

Who was this buck and what has he done with Saw?

“Good, start checking the bodies for anything you can trade or use, but I've got dibs on any .45 and 30-06 round you find.”

I couldn't hold back my question anymore, I needed to know.

“Riot, will you come with us?”

“Darlin' I don't even know where you're goin'.”

Shit that was right, we hadn't told him about Stalliongrad. Or Trueheart. Wait, did he call me darling?

“We're headed to Stalliongrad. Sparky has a family reunion ta' get to.”

Well thanks Saw you spoil sport, I was planning a dramatic reveal! But from the look on Riots face, Stalliongrad wasn't good.

“You absolutely need to go into Stalliongrad? Are you sure?”

“Well yes, and no. I don't really know where Trueheart is right now, but I'm sure someponies seen her!”

Iron Venture shut his eyes, a forlorn look flitted across his face before he opened them again.

“Stalliongrad's a dangerous place lass, whole city's cracked and poisoned, the only real settlements are down in the metro tunnels, which are more dangerous than you could ever imagine. Just what do you hope to find in the city of death?”

Holy shit, well if that isn't ominous then I don't know what is! But I needed to find Trueheart, I needed answers from her. I needed my big sister now more than ever.

“I need to find my sister. She's the only family I've got left.”

“What about Buzzsaw? I thought he was your guardian.”

“Only for the past few years, and while I'm glad to have him, he isn't my sister.”

Riot exhaled slowly, eyes closed tight.It seemed like he was busy turning a great mass of gears within his head, just for this on e decision.

“I need to think about it. Stalliongrad knows me well, just as I know it.”

Well that was... cryptic. Wonderful, My crush is a cryptic,guarded killer pony. Wait crush? We didn't agree on thi- To bad, he's good-looking. While I battled my own inner desires, Riot had unlocked the locked room and was inside by the time i was done. It didn't look good.

“Well? Any news from our mysterious stranger?

“SHIT! Dammit saw, I've told you not to sneak up on me like that!

How did he sneak up on me like that? He's so damn stocky he should make more noise than me! Regardless to this obvious damnation of the laws of nature, Saw chuckled at my frustration.

“Y'a still haven't answered me Sparky.”


“Well, It seems he's been to Stalliongrad before, but he doesn't want to go back very much-”

“ And what about your feelings for him? Oh don't give me that look, y'all were doin' your damndest ta mentally undress th' poor buck.”

“I was not! I was just... Admiring his, uhm, physique?”

Damn you Buzzsaw, damn you straight to Tartarus!

“ I swear If i had a bit for every buck whose ended up treating you like dirt, I'd be in th' damn council.”

“Yeah? We'll most bucks in Thunderhead wouldn't go out of their way to piss on me if i was on fire, let alone stick their necks out to save me from killer raiders!”

Haha! Take that you smart flank! My statement seemed to have silenced Saw, at least for the moment.

“ Y'all just be careful, I don't think I can help you if this one goes south.”

Before I could answer, I heard a crash from next door. Sticking my head gingerly through the door, I barely caught a glimpse of Riot sliding something wood into his saddlebags. I only then saw the skeletal corpse of an ancient dead pony. Sheets of rotted paper and the wrecked covers of books covered the floor of the room. The skeleton had been moved to a peaceful position, I could tell by the outline of dust which had been disturbed, that perfectly depicted the corpse. My attention turned to Riot, who was looking out the blasted window at the ominous core of Hoofington.

“ Stalliongrad is a very dangerous place, many who enter do not leave. As is, You're a dead pony walking.”

“That's not very-”

His eyes were still shut, It almost seemed that he was in great amounts of pain, but it lifted as soon as his eyes opened to look at me.

“That's why I'm going with you. You're the first semi-decent folk I've met for awhile, hate to see you end up dead in ten different stomachs.”

“I, uhm, Welcome aboard then!”

I put up the best re-assuring smile I could muster, and thankfully he returned it, well, mostly.

“Well then, O' glorious leader, lead on!”

Footnote: Level up!
Lvl 3
perks: Fast learner;
You're a pretty smart mare, You can figure it out. Either that or die.

Enclave Reject; You've spent your entire life among the clouds, thus your immune system isn't the best (-10% poison/rad resistance) But you almost passed boot camp! (+10 for energy weapons) good for you!

Skill milestones: 50 Energy weapons

Was this a good idea?

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Dashed Hopes
Chapter 3

“I just met you, and this is crazy, but I'll hate you to the bitter end!”

I hate you. You're all a bunch of assholes and jerks. What? Oh I suppose I am getting ahead of myself. I found myself face first in a puddle of dirty water, the sound of somepony failing to contain their laughter rang in my now red ears. Wait, fuck, not far enough. Right! I was facing the newest addition to my group, Iron Venture, In the side room of the building we were in. We had just murdered an entire gang of raiders, I had... Actually killed somepony.

“So you're with me? I mean... us?”

Why did talking to bucks have to be so damn hard? I had done it earlier, why couldn't life just give me a break?

“Well, Yea, I did call you glorious leader. Didn't think that left much room for deviation.”

He had turned his back on me, and was rummaging through the dead ponies things. The room looked like it hadn't been touched in 200 years.
I certainly felt silly, I could almost hear somepony laughing at me from somewhere.

“Uhmm, I kinda..hehe”

I was floundering, I didn't know what to do! I didn't even know what direction Stallionhoof or what ever its name was WAS! I wasn't used to being a leader, Since when had I been one?!
Riot had turned back to me after shoving several small metallic objects into his coat pockets with a look of amusement on his face.

“ Why don't we head downstairs and get some rest?”

Hey that's a good idea! I suddenly became aware of how tired and worn down I was. It had been only, what? 2 hours since I had left Thunderhead? Since then I'd been chased through a decaying restaurant, shot twice, had my ribs broken and been punched in the face pretty damn hard by the piss yellow raider. Holding that on top of my lack of a good night’s sleep and my run-in with Black Rain... Holy shit I need to lie down!

The world began to spin slightly, my eye lids felt heavy and grainy. Naturally, I had just realized that I was in fact, Inside a very small room, with a buck I hardly knew and a dead pony. I felt my throat contract and my breathing get heavy and laboured. Riot had been saying something, but had stopped when he saw the sudden change in my demeanour. I still couldn't hear anything, he was waving his shaggy grey hoof in front of my face, his mouth moving, but no words were forming. The world slipped away as the familiar blackness greeted me. Again. I hate being claustrophobic. SO MUCH.

I was in a hallway, the floor was covered in a spinning fog and the walls seemed to pull and heave back and forth with my own breathing. I hated this place, I had been met with it every time I closed my eyes to sleep. It was a world entirely of my own making, yet it was something I could never think of.

I squeezed my eyes shut and sent my shaking hoof forward into the mist.

Upon my hoof meeting the hardwood, I heard the slamming of what sounded like thousands of doors, and it was getting closer! I spun around to see large steel shutters slamming down into the hallway, crushing the hardwood floor as it progressed steadily towards me. I need to get the fuck out of here!! I began galloping through the hallway, the doors slamming down behind me. Off in the distance I heard voices, some I thought I knew, and others I had never known before, but above all I heard the sound of a tinny metallic voice getting louder as I ran forward to avoid being crushed.

There was a great 'BANG' from behind me that lifted me from my hooves and onto the floor. The world went dark for a split second before my eyes shot open again. I looked back to see the final door, large and ominous, barely a hoof from where I laid. It was massive, a deep red in colour and most likely comprised of thick steel. But something was drawing me away from the door, and further down the hallway. The hallway was now comprised of slate grey concrete and pale red emergency lights. I felt my hooves move against my better judgement as the depths called me forward.

The klaxons wail grew louder as I ventured forth, The voice becoming clear and ominous.

'-Containment zone breached, Warning: Containment zone breached,Initiate Protocol LST:68a1 Warning-'

The mare’s voice over the intercom was a recording, It showed no emotion, gave no more warning than the message it carried. I heard the sound of combat coming from further in, accompanied by a deeper klaxon and yellow warning lights. The hallway opened into a large cave, but its borders were shrouded by the thick fog. I pushed forward, hoping to find an end to this dream. What I found only brought me curiosity and worry. A massive metal cog door was against the far wall, It was open half way, the sound of fighting was intense from beyond it. I paused before I entered, considering how some of my other dreams had turned out, it was well deserved. The cog door had a big yellow 'Five' emblazoned in the middle, and I could actually see a full room beyond the door itself, no fog to be seen.

I felt a chill as I crossed the threshold of the massive door, the sounds and fighting all but silent in a split second. I saw blurry nondescript bodies littering the room, but no blood from what I could see. The floor was cold and hard on my hooves, and all the doors leading out of the room were locked... all but one, which hung buckled and smashed against the wall on-top another pile of bodies. I smelt burning ozone, roasting flesh and fear. I became aware of the whispers just then, they came from the bodies, from the walls, from the intercom and my own mouth.

Just out of the corner of my eyes, I saw movement, the swish of a purple and white tail disappear past an open door. TRUEHEART. It was my sister! I knew it, No other pony in all of thunderhead had her mane and tail! I galloped through the hallway towards the door she had disappeared into, only to find myself falling to the ground just past the door.

Falling. Again.

My eyes opened to the swirling grey fog, I was in a big, atrium like room, but I wasn't alone.
Swirling grey fog took the shape of ponies, fighting and killing each other in furious hoof to hoof combat. I brought myself to bear, only to be shoved back to the hard floor, A squat buck was hovering over me, with a gun barrel pointed at my face.

“Tell me, why do you fight? You always lose, you always die, why fight? Why fight us? Just let us in.”

The swirling fog figures had disappeared, but the buck above me stayed put, his voice barely a whisper, but it fell like a sledgehammer on my ears, it felt like hundreds of ponies screaming and yelling, whimpering and crying his questions at me.

“I don't know! What are you and why won't you leave me ALONE!?”

“Much as how you cannot escape us, Fate has marked you, we must be rid of those like-”

The hammer of the gun clicked back as a tall grey stallion slammed into my attacker, his head ablaze with fire. He roared at the fog buck, a large firearm floating next to him was cocked as the fog became choking and thick. I shut my eyes as the bucks fired.

I could hear the shells bounce off the ground as the fog convulsed and shrieked, The fiery buck went down hard with a gout of fire pouring from his chest. Swirling blue eyes met my own as a revolver skittered across the concrete to my hooves. I looked up from the weapon to find the fiery buck gone, and the revolver pressed against my forehead, The hammer cocked back and a shot roared through the foggy room.

I bolted upwards in my bedding, cold sweat matting my soft coat.

“What the shit. Why?”

I rubbed my eyes with my fore-hoof, cleaning out most of the remaining sleep. I stood with a yawn, stretching my legs and limbering up for yet another day at work. What a crazy dream! First a bunch of killing, then hallucinations, then... Trueheart. I need to get to work. I fumbled for my bathroom door, only to find it wasn't there. I realized that I wasn't in my apartment anymore. OH SHIT. What happened!? Where am I!?

Before I could start assuming the worst I heard voices from another room, both of the male gender. Everything came back in a flood of memories and feelings. I had been shot, beaten, I had killed a buck. But the most disturbing thing was the fact that i didn't feel... bad. The shock of killing that buck had past quickly, He had been a horrible pony, one who had killed others in spite. He had deserved to die.

“Since when do you make decisions like that Dew? You aren't a killer, you're pathetic!”

I was berating myself again. All this sitting around and thinking was getting old, time to investigate those voices! What? You aren't even gonna wash up first?

Little voice needs to be quiet.

That dream hadn't been the usual, where I was tortured, interrogated and raped continually until my alarm clock woke me up. This one felt... strange, foreboding almost. I found my way to the fillies room while trying to decipher the dream. And find the only mirror that wasn't shattered or covered in... stuff. Upon finding the only semi-intact mirror, I found my mane was a mess, but other than being slightly dirtier than usual, I was still good looking!

I chuckling to myself as I straightened out my mane and shook my wings out. My wings were cramped, I had probably slept on one funny, needed to stretch them properly soon. Trotting back to my makeshift room, I heard the voices again, It was Riot and Saw, but I couldn't make out what they were talking about. Wait, is that music? Soft instrumental music drifted through the decrepit building, I found it soothing, it definitely didn't fit in to the background of death and decay. I found myself laying on my bedding, (It wasn't mine, Didn't know where it came from) relaxed, listening to the music, letting it wash over me.

I lifted myself up as the music changed beat and voices joined the melody. Arching my back and stretching my wings, I felt soothing relief as I straightened out. The music was louder now, almost on top of me! Whirling around, I came face to face with Riot.


I fell to my rump from the surprise, Riot failed to hide his smile at my misfortune. Riot you attractive jerk! Help me up! Riot trotted over and grasped one of my legs, lifting me up to my hooves. The music seemed to be coming from the metal device anchored on his left fore-hoof.

“Erm.. Thanks?”

“Don't mention it lass, Sorry for the shock, was jus' checkin on you.”

There was a pregnant pause, Checking on me? Why would he need to-
“ You gave us quite a scare up there. Care to explain what happened?”

RIGHT. I had suddenly realized that I was inside a small room and had passed out from accumulated stress and my claustrophobia.

“ I, uh, fell down?”

“You up and passed out lass! You're lucky I caught you or you might have hurt yourself! Then you started talking and movin' in your sleep.”

There was that look again. The look that said 'I know exactly whats going on, I just want to hear you say it.' His blue eyes weren't making it easy to resist either, If only he weren't so damn attractive and non-rape-isty this would be so much easier! I looked at my hooves for support, while trying to mutter an easy explanation.

“Dew? Hey-”

His hoof met my chin, bringing up my eyes, which had been looking everywhere but his face.
Wait holy, He was touching me! Oh...

“You alright? You look like you're runnin a fever.”

Of course I'm fucking blushing now, It's not like I was trying to be stealthy about this crush!

“I'm Fine, just a rough sleep.”

“Alright, I can understand that. Now, Why don't you go talk to your friend Saw, I'm gonna roll up me bedroll, need to get going soon.”

“Wait that was your bedding?”

“Eeyup, You didn't have any of your own, figured that you needed it more than I did.”

Wow, that was actually... well, nice! But he did have a point, I should talk to Saw. Where my wings sticking out? DAMN IT ALL. Stupid biology and attraction shit making my life awkward.
Riot had already side stepped me and was rolling up his bedding via the horn on his head, His long, grey-NO! NONONO! SAW! GO TALK TO SAW!

I dragged myself out of the door and towards the main room. Saw was sitting by a small fire, his small pack and tool box beside him. He looked up when I entered, but soon looked back at the fire, a semi-large piece of paper was laid out in-front of him, It looked like a map.

“Y'all took your sweet ass time getting up.”

“Well good morning to you too feather-brain! Save the world while I was out?”

Saw smirked at my comment, glancing down at the paper, which was definitely a map.

“Nah, jus' figurin how to get your little butt down to Stalliongrad, without gettin us all killed in the pro-cess.”

Riot entered the room, his bedding rolled up and anchored to his top pack. He cut me off before I could say anything.

“We can't go through the Flatlands, It'd be suicide without an armoured 'Vee.”

A what? What the hell is a VEE? How would-

“ Agreed, Since y'all can't fly, we can't go over the black mountains, but we could always try these marshes over-”

“FUCK NO, I like me arse the way It is thank you very much, even fliers avoid that area entirely, fuckers got net launchers. The only viable way is up the main road from the Hoof, then following the Long 76 for thirty miles, then walking through till we hit New Neighcarrion. Then we're walkin to Serenity station, from there, hopefully hitch a ride to Horseshen station. Then we'll be In Stalliongrad proper. Whatever good that'll be worth.”

Riot exhaled a deep breath after tracing his route to us on the map. It seemed like It would be a very long trek, even if we were all flying, which we weren't.

“What bout' tradin', We'll need supplies if we's gonna take on the Long 76.”

Riot seemed to to mull this over, I was staying quiet, It was fascinating to watch the two of them work together, I felt privileged to see two smart ponies work together like this!

“ I assume ya don't have much in the way of caps. I can lend the lass some of my back-up barding, It ain't much more than decent clothing, but it's better than nothing. But for anything more, we'll have to either scavenge or try and take some odd jobs at Carrion when we arrive.”

I felt lost now.

“I'm sorry, Caps? As in bottle caps?”

Saw sent a look over that told me to shut it, but I wasn't having any of it.

“You ponies use bottle caps as currency? Thats-Thats stupid! Thunderhead uses E-bills, I don't understand why you can't either!”

Saw was cradling his head in his fore-hooves twitching and convulsing, Riot had a strange look on his face, or he did until he burst into laughter along with Saw. Haha.

They laughed for five minutes, It was ridiculous! This isn't a laughing matter, it’s idiotic!
Of course I kept that bit of info to myself, lest I send them over the edge again. Riot was the first to regain his composure, shaking his blonde and red mane around trying to focus. I wasn't having any of it.

“ No seriously why-”

“Lass, trust me, it's just the way it is! Caps are as good as gold here, make enough to feed you and your own, you're sitting fat.”

“That doesn't make any sense what you said just there Riot.”

Riot sent me another blue eyed look

“Dew, Ponies have traded with caps for almost a hundred years now, It's the only thing that we could use for currency from the old world, all the gold for bits was used up or lost when the bombs fell, that and bits weigh too much now. And caps are pretty!”

Riot had an insanely stupid grin on his mug when Saw stepped in.

“ I like the noise they make!”

“ Oh joy, my only friend has gone insane. That's not even taking you into consideration mister!”

I glared at Riot, who only started laughing at my attempts to retain my sanity. Saw soon joined him as I grunted in defeat and trotted out of the room into the open air.

The stale air greeted me as I stepped out the buckled door. Spreading my wings out to their full width, I felt the wind rustle my feathers as I pulsed my wings downward and lifted into the sky. Circling the area, I surveyed my surroundings. The area know as Hoofington was poisoned and bleak, always a splayed grey or brown. The Hoofington Core consisted of tall black, broken towers whose base seemed to be glowing an ominous green. Circling around I came to rest on top of the restaurant.

My eyes were fixed on the cloud curtain, which gave the Enclave both the food and protection it needed to survive. I had always been above the cloud layer, with clear skies above me almost all the time, for the sky to be so bleak... I started to understand why ground ponies were so violent and mean. Everything was grey and dead, couldn't blame them. Off in the distance near an obsidian black mountain, there was the hard 'Crump' of explosives as a fireball licked the clouds.

“I sure would hate to be the reason that was set off for.”

I could hear the soft chatter of weapons in the distance, It seemed like the entire city was alive, yet rotting and decrepit. It chattered and roared, its cells dying for nothing.

“Almost peaceful ain't it?”


My peaceful consideration had been horribly interrupted by Riot.

“How did you even get up here!?”

My breathing was heavy, and my heart was up behind my eyes, during my fly over, I hadn't seen any way onto the roof, how the hell had he gotten up here so damn quietly?
Riot chuckled at my confusion, I could here a loud crash from below as Riot walked over to a crippled air conditioning unit, resting his side against its rusted metal.

“Lass, sometimes you need to blaze your own trails.”

“ What do you mean?”

“We need to get going, we want to be on the road by mid-day.”

I turned my head to look over Hoofington once more, but when I turned back to look at Riot, he was gone.

Downstairs I could hear Saw fighting with something, probably an old radio, I didn't see Riot, but I assumed he was around here somewhere.

“Alright Saw, ready to go?”

The old buck glanced up from the scrapped radio, his belonging were bundled together next to him, but his tool box was open next to him.

“Eeyup, just bidding my time fixin' this here broken ass radio.”

“Then lets get going kids, don't want to keep The Grinder waiting.”

Riot had seemingly materialized out of nowhere, only to put forward another morbid, cryptic message. It was odd, It seemed like he went from light hearted to deadly serious in a matter of seconds. I figured it to be a ground pony thing. But one of his words had worried me.

“What do you mean by Grinder?”

Footnote: level up!
Level 4 reached:
Perk gained, Educated; All that time spent in the public school system may have rotted your brain, But at least you get this shiny new perk!

Science 30

Friendship is misery

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Alright, I’ve got to apologize for the horrible delay on this chapter, I had some problems with my editors, so now I’ll be editing everything myself. So any problems or spelling errors that you find, please tell me right away. Again I apologize for the delay, It’s completely my fault for trusting others to do my work.

Dashed Hopes
Chapter 4

“Eyes burn with sting and sweat, seems like every path leads me to no where.”

My hooves impacted the broken concrete in heavy hoof falls, my breath ragged and uneven in my chest. Bullets whizzed and snapped past us in terrifying volleys, Riot yelled something at us as he dived into cover behind a broken vehicle, but all attempts at communications were cut off as I felt a hunk of lead slam into my leg. I fell forwards into a shallow puddle of rainbow coloured water.
I hate you. You're all a bunch of assholes and jerks.

The bark of Riots rifles filled the broken street, they were followed by the yelp of a smaller calibre rifle, carried by Buzzsaw. I felt now familiar magic wrap around me and drag me up and over the truck carcass. I'm sure I looked displeased.

“It's just a graze lass, nothing serious, now start firing!” Riot passed me my laser pistol that had Once AGAIN tumbled out of my reach when I had fallen.

I picked the pistol up in my mouth and popped up over the hood of the vehicle. I sighted one of our attackers, a sickly green buck; hesitating, I-I couldn't push the trigger. A nanosecond later he spun around, the high velocity round rending his shoulder to pieces. The attackers were starting to back off, it was obvious they hadn't expected so much resistance from a small group.

A pink mare lifted her head to fire a pistol at us, only to have her eye socket blow out by Buzzsaw, but one of her fellows fired a short burst from some kind of machine pistol. The low calibre rounds stitched down the hood of the truck, shrapnel and a single stray shot hitting Saw.

“Saw!! Are you alright?” My voice cracked as I saw the blood leaking from Saws chest

“I'll be fine Sparky, cover Riot!” Saw had broken out healing bandages, and was already wrapping his wounds.

“No need, their routing!” Riot had jumped onto the hood of the vehicle, despite the rounds still being fired in our direction.

Riot fired another round at the fleeing group, sending a buck cartwheeling to the ground before the others could effectively escape.

“That was close!” I actually sounded happy, much to my own surprise. Riot shot me a side-long grin.

“That was nothin' lass, they didn't have anything above five point five twos.”

We should leave! As in now!” I looked at Saw, who had an uncharacteristic look of fear plastered across his muzzle. Just past him, I saw slow shambling movement in the building behind him. Riot yelled at us, which seemed to spur the ponies inside the building.


I looked over, not realizing the mortal danger we were in. Dozens of rotten, burned and boiled parodies of ponies came shambling out of the buildings. I felt bile well up in the back of my throat, but all actions came to a crashing halt as they began to howl, charging our position.

I was pulled out of my shock by an inhaler being pushed into my mouth and its contents flooded my lungs. Everything ground to a stand-still as I watched Saw leap into the air, Riot turned from me, still motioning upwards; firing his rifles into the slow writhing masses. I felt... energized, like I had licked a lightning rod. My entire body wanted to move, wanted to FLY. I saw Saw floating above me, harried by boiled fliers.
My lightning fast brain came to the conclusion that; They want to race me? Oh it is so on!!”

I shot off the pavement and into the skies, giggling as I zipped past Saw and his rivals. Looking back I saw that two of them had broken off to race me personally! Grinning like a mad mare I accelerated up the side of a broken building, levelling off just so I could plunge back down into a narrow alley. I looked back to see one of my attackers slam into a brick wall, his neck snapping in multiple places. But the other buck was right on my tail! I floored it, firing down another back alleyway, the pale red buck flew right on my tail, nipping and biting, trying to find purchase on my body.
Not today you ugly bastard, THIS IS MY BODY!!

I had a sudden flash through my mind, that the buck trying to kill me; was none other than Black Rain. Anger and fury boiled over as I brought my hind legs in, and flared my wings into a full stop. I loosed the kick just as he was in range, his forward momentum sent vibrations through my hyper active body as my hind legs pulverized his face and neck. I watched as the pulped 'Rain' effigy plummeted to the earth, landing with a dull thump.

I felt... GOOD, I had just killed the bastard responsible for making my life a living hell, the fucker responsible for leaving me with night terrors, the cock-sucker- Wait, wheres Riot and Saw?

My eyes shot open as I watched Saw fight in a desperate aerial hoof to hoof battle with one of the zombie things, only to be taken by surprise by another jumping from a building; landing on top of him. I focused and shot forward, knocking the shredded mare from Saw; who fired a rifle round through the other zombies head. It was only then that I looked down.

My gaze was met with the bodies of dozens of zombies, a grenades dull Crump killed few, while short rifle bursts mowed through the writhing mass like a scythe through cloud wheat. Saw waved a hoof in front of me, bringing my eyes back up from the death being wrought.

We need to swoop in and pick him up! There's another group blocking his exit!”

I nodded, looking down, Riot had clambered on to the roof of a large van, the zombie ponies had already surrounded him on all sides. I watched as he shoved his knife through the skull of one of the zombies, but failed to pull it out in time as the zombies body was tramped by the masses. Riot reached out with his magic, pulling a tin can from his saddle bags.

We swooped down, grabbing him by his fore-hooves. I watched as Riot pulled the pin on the can, letting it spiral down into the cab of the van. We had barely gone a block when the shock-wave buffeted us harshly. Looking back, the mass of zombie ponies were gone, in their place, a fading blue and green mushroom cloud that bathed the entire area with crackling motes of light.

“What the hell was that!!?”

Riot let out a short; laboured laugh, shaking his head.

'That, that was a Sparkle grenade!” I was appalled, what the hell was in that thing?!

“You just carry those around!?” Riot hung by his hooves high above the ground, obviously not liking the situation he was in.

“It worked didn't it?”

“Well yes but-”

“But nothing, put me down.”



The anger in his voice shocked me, have I done something wrong? Is he angry at me?
We touched down five blocks from the explosion, I could see the city limits coming up. We were in the suburbs now.

“I HATE flying, bugs the fuck outa me.” Riot paced back and forth, I stared at my hooves, I felt like a scolded foal.

“I didn't know-”

“Don't worry about it lass.” Riot turned to face myself and Saw, he wore a small smile on his muzzle.

“You did well, and thanks for the assist; both of you.” He looked at Saw and me, the smile slipping from his expression.

“Now lets get the fuck out of Hoofington.”

We were huddled under the bowing arch of a decrepit gas-station, a small fire crackling between us. Riot was lying against his bags, and had his hat pulled over his face. His pip-buck was playing music as Saw tried to un-jam his recently acquired rifle.

“Gooood evening ponies! This is DJ PON3, BROADCASTING LIVE ACROSS THE WASTELAND! Looks like the intrepid Vault Dweller has come through again! Turns out that Arbu, the settlement the Dweller razed, was FILLED with cannibals! Shocking, Right?

Anyways, I've got some new music for all my friends out there, where-ever they are!

A low acoustic line filled the area, and was soon followed by a low, sad bucks voice.

I can be your liar
I can be your bearer of bad news
Sick and uninspired by the diamonds in your fire
Burning like a flame inside of you
Is this just desire or the truth

So shame on me for the ruse
Shame on me for the blues
Another one returned that I'll never use

I won't go getting tired of you
I won't go getting tired of you
I'm not getting tired
I won't go getting tired of you
I won't go getting tired of you
I'm not getting tired

Hanging on this wire
Waiting for the day where I'll have to choose
Cursed by love so dire
One more colt for hire
One more colt to lend a hand to you
Is this just desire or the truth

So shame on me for the ruse
Shame on me for the blues
Another one returned that I'll never use

I won't go getting tired of you
I won't go getting tired of you
I'm not getting tired
I won't go getting tired of you
I won't go getting tired of you
I'm not getting tired of you

I can be your liar
I can be your bearer of bad news
Sick and uninspired by the diamonds in your fire
Burning like a flame inside of you
Is this just desire or the truth

So shame on me for the ruse
Shame on me for the blues
Another one returned that I'll never use

I won't go getting tired of you
I won't go getting tired of you
I'm not getting tired
I won't go getting tired of you
I won't go getting tired of you
I'm not getting tired of you

The DJ came back on with gusto, reading through events that I had no interest in. I directed my eyes down towards the two hundred year old snack cake cradled in my lap. In all honesty, the thing tasted better than it should have, all things considered. I glanced over at Saw, who had broken out his tools and was working ferociously away at the rifle. Riot grumbled something in his sleep, drawing my attention. He had shed his jacket and riot armour, leaving himself a pair of cargo pants and a rolled up grey undershirt bearing a series of numbers and his name. I must have been drooling or something equally embarrassing, because Saw threw a small rusted nut at me; booting me out of my admiration.

'What?” Saw scowled at me

You know what, now stop it!” Saw almost hissed at me trying to keep his voice low.

'No! I'm having fun and you cant stop me!” I kept my voice low as well, not wanting to wake up our team-mate.

You never learn do you?” Saw shook his head, looking back down at the rifle.


Riot shifted over, giving me- Whoa, those are some big scars! The scars ran parallel across Riots neck and towards his chest. What ever did THAT, must have been mean! I sent another critical look over Riots form, only just finding deep scars and wounds that I hadn't seen prior to now.
“Sent through a blender?” I sent a hoof over my mouth in surprise of my tongues betrayal, Saw sent me a strange look.

“Fuck you Slug, you don't look any better..” Both myself and Saw looked over to Riots shifting form.

“We're in this together... I know,I want to go home as well...”

“Uh Riot?” He didn't stir, I scooped up the nut in my wing that had been thrown at me earlier and tossed it at him.

“NUHH!” Riot bolted upwards, I yelped in surprise, he pulled the hat down from his eyes.

“What? What's going on?” Riot blinked sleep from his eyes, he started to stare at me, expecting answers.

“Uh, nothing, it's just uhmm-”

Y'all were talkin' in your sleep Iron.”

Riot closed his eyes for a few seconds, only to open them and nod towards Saw.

“Sorry about that, it happens every now and then.” I sat there, a scared look on my face. Riot stood back up and stretched his back, which gave an odd series of metallic pops.

'You might as well get some sleep, I'll handle next watch.” I could only nod as I lay down on my borrowed bedding. My eyes began to shut and I felt the darkness of sleep sprinkling down on me.


“Twoohart why can't I come wis you?” I put on my best pout, hoping she would break down and agree, letting me go with her to the show.

“Sorry squirt, but this shows for big girls... Maybe, if your good for dad, I'll take you for flying lessons when I get back!” My eyes and mouth shot open like a laser shot, a shrill little gasp escaping my mouth.

“Weally Twoohawt? You the best sister evah!” I scampered over to my big sister and hugged her red leg. I heard my dad laughing in the background, saying something I couldn't quite hear through my sisters coat.

“I'll be back by the end of the week Dad, and yes, I'll be careful.”

“Of course little one, but you know I worry.” My dad looked sad, I didn't want him to be sad!

“Don't be sad daddy!” My dad laughed, messing my mane with his hoof. I stuck my tongue out at him, then squealed in delight as I skipped out of his reach.


Weak light streamed in through my eyelids, and the sounds of the wastes filtered into my ears.

“That would explain your knowledge of caps and the like; Saw. Heh, I always figured you for the adventurous type.”

“Eeyup, I worked with them for almost ten years before the incident.” At least they're getting along, but what are they talking about? Now- wait, whats that smell?

I picked my head up off the makeshift pillow, eyes still practically glued shut with crusty sleep gunk. “Was' that smell? Smell's good.” As I gradually regained my sense of being, I could hear the crackle of a small fire, partnered with a popping sizzle. I cracked open one of my eyes, but everything was still blurry. Riots accent reverberated off of my sleep addled mind, helping shake the cob-webs from my conscious.

“Well, I'm just cooking some breakfast, we'll need the energy to cross over the plains.”

“Why would you need to cook breakfast? Their isn't much around that needs cooking...” I could hear Saw groaning in anguish, but I ignored him as Riot came into my view.

“You don't eat meat uncooked, it could kill you or cripple you for days.” My brain still hadn't started properly, I just nodded and lulled into a sitting position. Yet something that Riot had said didn't want to leave my mind. Uncooked meat.... meat... meat? Ponies don't eat meat unless they're can- OH SHIT.

My eyes bolted open as my brain sputtered to life. I starred at Riot; who had a stick levitating over a small fire. My eyes followed the stick upwards, stopping at the small dark brown lump skewered at the end of the stick, its juices dribbling into a small pot nestled at the edge of the fire.

“Why. Are. You. Eating. Meat?!” I balked in horror as he brought the stick up from the fire; and started cutting it apart with a scrap of metal.

“Ponies can eat meat Dew, It's full of vitamins and the like.” I was backed up against the wall, eyes wide in terror. Riot passed a small hunk to Saw.

“Don't eat it Saw!!! It's pony meat!!” I had managed to cram myself so far into the corner, I thought I would push through the wall at any moment to escape my ex-friends turned cannibals.

Riot and Saw both looked at my terrified posture; and started to laugh! Oh goddess their going to eat me next!! Riot got up and trotted over to me as I managed to cower even further.

I jumped at the hoof contacting my shoulder softly, letting out a surprised squeak. Riot stifled another chuckle as he patted my shoulder. I could here Saw munching in the background.

“Dew... That's rad-hog meat. Not pony.” I looked up at the grey buck, scepticism written all over my muzzle.

“Not- Not pony? I don't understand, doesn't eating meat make you a cannibal?” Riot sat down next to me, pointing a hoof over just past where I had slept the night before.

“You see that little gulley over there?” His hoof waved over a rather large ditch past the rest-stop. “In that gulley sat one mean mother fucker Rad-Hog, who; if I hadn't killed and cooked him, would have been eating YOU right about now.”

My eyes flitted over the gulley, then the cooking fire. My fervent gaze finally fell over the gutted corpse of a massive grotesque creature . It had massive teeth that looked like they could bite a pony almost in two, their ferocity compounded onto the razor sharp claws that adorned its little legs.

I wasn't so easily convinced! I'd seen the holo-vids in Thunderhead! Granted; they were ones that were only watched by fillies during a late-night slumber party. BUT! They did teach me that cannibal ponies only lived off meat, killing ponies and others to satisfy their unholy cravings! “I don't trust you! You're going to eat me! You're a cannibal!!” My body quaked as I spoke the last word. I would have figured I'd be killed in a dark basement, not a well-lit rest stop.

Riot stepped back, a small laugh spilling from his muzzle. “Oh by the goddess lass, I'm not a cannibal, and neither is Saw. Cannibals only eat ponies. A pony who eats non-pony meats; and produce, is called an omnivore.” I sat there, a sceptical look on my face as I remained huddled in the corner. Riot shrugged, moving back to his breakfast.

“If you're dead set against it, I've got some fancy buck snack cakes you can eat. Make it quick though, we're gone in ten.”

The cloud layer spread for miles, blocking out all but the most determined rays of sunlight. Despite this; the entire area was hot and muggy. Sweat clung to my slender frame as I trudged along the broken pavement with my companions. Heat literally irradiated off the concrete , distorting everything in the distance and made walking very unpleasant. Riot had curled up his coat, but still wore his battered armour. Saw had done the same with his tattered red sweater, leaving only a light black undershirt on. I needed something to keep my mind occupied; lest I stop and melt into the broken highway.

“Are we there yet?” Riot barely glanced back, only a short shake registered that I had even spoken.

“No. Forty clicks to go.” Fuck this, I'm going to fly.

My wings stretched out; flapping as I lifted into the air and off the roasted pavement. Hot air buffeted my cheeks as I circled my friends. I felt... Alive again, I felt like everything was right as I passed over broken motor vehicles. The skeletal highway snaked on for miles, desolate in every direction. I felt desperately alone, despite the fact I knew my friends were below me; the entire wasteland seemed like a direct strike against my sanity.

I looped around, bringing the two trotting bucks into my scope of view, they were moving with purpose, finding cover. I could hear yelling but- PRAK

The high calibre round whizzed past my ear, sending my entire body and mind into a frantic scramble as a yellow pegasus streaked from cover, and bolted straight for me!

My laser pistol came out of its holster, I clamped down hard on the bit piece as I rocketed away from the incoming pegasus. The yellow buck fire a volley of sub machine gun rounds in my direction, but I had slipped from his scope. I trailed the ground at high speeds, circling around to try and get the enemy in my sights, He was right on my tail!

I jinked away as another volley shredded the air I had just previously occupied, the other pegasus was good, but not good enough. Old Blitzkrieg always though I never paid any attention, he was wrong. I always trained for things like this. Pulling a high G turn, the other pegasus over shot by a small amount; it was just enough for me. Viffing backwards I cut in behind the enemy, lining up a perfect laser shot. All I had to do was pull the trigg- SHIT!!

The buck flared his wings to a full stop. Not seeing this until it was to late, we became a tangled mess of yellow and orange feathers. The laser pistol was still clamped down in my jaws, but i couldn't get a solid line drawn, he was too close! A sharp barbed knife flicked past my face, I could feel the blood flowing from my chest as he made a solid second pass.

Eyes verging on tears from the pain, I could only do one thing to survive. I brought my head back, then slammed it forward, right between his eyes and muzzle. The buck yelped and span away, only to take a shot to the wing from the ground. Through tears and blood I watched him spiral down, impaling himself on an over-turned semi's twisted smokestack.

Shot were still being fired, some at me! I blinked the gunk out of my eyes, and shot down into a low passing run. The bandits were hiding behind a clump of broken vehicles, firing ineffective waves of rounds into Saw's cover. I couldn’t spot Riot, but I assumed that he was moving to do damage. I spiralled down, delivering a solid kick to one of the flanking bandits jaw. My entire hoof vibrated from the impact, which sent the buck sailing to the ground, wailing in pain. Spotting a group that had broken from cover, I fired three shots into the group, which only managed to scare them back into cover.

I was forced to stay low as the large bandit group started to pour lead into the sky, I could only answer with my few semi-well placed shots. Another bandit showed up, packing a large weapon, it purred before it began spewing more rounds into my mentors cover. Saw popped up, firing another shot from his rifle. The shot struck true, braining one of the attackers. I quickly landed next to Saw, adding my shots to his. It was only then that I realized that we were almost surrounded.

“Where's Riot!?” I flinched as another volley cracked and whizzed past and into the burned out sedan.

Beats me! He said he was taking care of the reinforcements!” Shit, we're on our own.

As my mind bleated out that thought, there was a resounding explosion, followed by a low rumble that continued to grow louder and louder as It drew near.

The bandits moved away as the armoured buggy rolled over the ditch and into firing position behind them. The gunner smiled maniacally, even as a high calibre 30-06 round ripped his skull into shards. There was a shimmer as Riot materialized on the turret, firing down into the cab of the buggy. The other bandits didn't quite realize their folly; not until Riot slipped into the dead bucks turret, and turned their own guns against them. The machine guns ripped to life, sounding more like a rabid auto-axe than a fire-arm of any kind. Spent shell casing cascaded down across the buggies armour plating. The bandits screamed and hollered as they tried to get their weapons trained on the death machine, but were cut down mercilessly by Riots fusillade, as well as My own shots and that of Saw.

In a matter of seconds, the battle was over, the dead and their pieces lay splayed out across the hot tarmac, one of the cars had exploded, detonating the fuel inside that had roasted the last surviving bandits. Riot clambered down from the smoking guns and towards a sputtering mare who dragged her thrashed legs behind her. As she reached for a pistol, Riot loosed a viscous kick into her side that sent her sprawling away from her target. The mare glared fiery daggers into Riots eyes.

“You- fucking piece of shit!” The mare coughed and spewed blood “Kerosine will fuck you like the bitch you fucking ARE!!” The mare squealed in pain as Riot pressed a hoof down on her mangled hind leg.

“Not the words I want to hear from somepony begging to not be left for the scorpions.” Riots gaze was level and cold. He scares me sometimes with looks like that. The mare spat at him, but lacked the power to fight as she lay bleeding out.

“Fu...Fuck... You. Kerosine will-”

“Fuck me like a rented step-foal, yea I got that part.” The pistol snuggled up against the mares tear streaked chin, its hammer clicking back.

“Please don-” BLAM.

The miles flew past along with the scenery, all I cared for was the low animalistic rumble of the buggies engine as we ripped across the open wastes. I could see the township of New Neighcarrion squatting low in the distance. Even from the distance we were at though, I could tell it was a lively place compared to the sprawling carcass of Hoofington. The town grew and grew as we drew closer, I could see the guard towers and the main gate; which sat in between two thick metal walls.

We passed under a large ab-hoc sign that cheerily said 'Welcome to New Neighcarrion!'

As we rolled closer to the main gate, I thought I could hear yelling behind the walls, but looking up I found myself starring down an uncomfortable amount of gun barrels. Riot honked the buggies horn twice, then poked his head out past the mesh window.

“So you gonna open the door or what?”

The inside of New Neighcarrion was quite the site to see, wall to wall homes and businesses, with snaking alleyways and various other amenities. Ponies of all shapes and colours trotted around as Riot wheeled the buggy through; towards an open space to park. It had only taken a few words and a quick simple check to see that we weren’t raiders or bandits. Upon seeing this, the guards lowered their weapons and opened the gate.

“Alright, We won't be able to use the buggy from here on, so I'm going to sell it so we can get enough gear and supplies to survive the trip to Stalliongrad. Here, take these.” Riot then levitated over a small pouch of caps to me and Saw. “Try and get your selves extra ammo and better armour. I'll find you soon enough”

I climbed out of the buggy, stretching my legs. Saw soon followed me over towards the market stalls, hoping to find something worth buying.

I was starring down at an old pair of armoured stocking that went with an equally old and battered suit of light security armour. It was beaten and old, but it was better than my skin at stopping bullets and the like, but on top of it all; it was light and it had wing holes.

“Two hundred caps little missy!” My eyes went wide with shock at the price.

“Two hundred!? This craps barely with metal used to make the caps!” I was no expert at wasteland bartering, but I knew damn well when I was getting screwed!

The stall owner buck gave me a withering glare, bu then broke down to a small smile that he failed to hide. “Alright, alright, one hundred and...” The buck looked back up at me, a dark mischievous look on his face. “A little something extra.”

My flanks clenched as he damn near licked his chops. No way was I selling my ass for some broken garbage! “Go to hell creep!” I moved to walk away from the nasty fucker, but a light blue hoof dragged me back to the stall.

The light blue hoof belonged to a mare, who was in the process of tearing the merchant a new hole.
“Just look at yourself Toaster! Trying to oversell you cheap shit to some unassuming young mare! You should be beside yourself in happiness that she even THOUGHT of buying your junk!” The buck stammered, but was cut off again. “You were betting on the fact she was new, and didn't know that you remove the armour plates from your stuff! You fucking shyster!!” A small crowd had gathered at the disturbance, and I could hear agreement being murmured out from the group.

The shop keep laughed nervously, shuffling his hooves. “Well how bout this little missy! I'll sell-” The blue mare cut him off again. “SELL!? You're still trying to sell this shit? I should roast you where you stand!” The buck cringed as the ingniter at the end of her battle saddle lit up.

“Ok!! Ok. Fuck matchstick, I need to make a living somehow!” The blue mare was opening up for another attack, but I saw the guards homing in on the disturbance

“I'll give you forty for the whole set, plus plates.” They both turned their head to me, surprise evident on only one face.

“Deal! Now get the fuck away from my shop!”

Just as the guards were closing in, I began to turn away with my purchase. I was halted again by the blue hoof being wrapped around my shoulder.

“We should get drinks to celebrate! Come on, I know the perfect place!” My mind scrambled to try and answer but it was obvious that I didn't have much choice in the matter.

“Alright, lead the way.”

Matchstick grabbed my hoof with hers, and began to weave us through the crowds. We turned down a small alley, then another; I could already tell that I was damn lost. “Where are we going?” The blue mare flashed me a grin. “The Spike Pit!”

Wonderful. Just Wonderful.

We sat in a dingy corner booth in The Spike Pit, I starred down at my 'Drink' with a look of pity and confusion. The blue mare laughed at my confusion, slamming hers back in one fell swoop. She had undone her battle saddle and leaned it against the booth. She put her glass back done and looked at me. “So, whats you're story?”

The mare wore a grey and yellow uniform, which was tattered and patched in several places. There were multiple thick metal plates on the opposite side of where her weapon would sit. She had a pair of dark goggles resting on her forehead, which, along with her face; were stained with soot and smoke.

“Well, go on! I'm interested in you!”

What does she mean by interested and why is she smiling like that?

Well, uh, my name is Dew Cloud; and I'm a pegasus.” The mare snickered at that, the alcohol was obviously doing the trick.

“Well Dew Cloud, it's nice to meet you! Names Matchstick, but you can call me Match!” The mare let out a short laugh, signalling me to continue.

“Well Match, what do you want to know?” The mare looked at me with curious eyes.

“What brings you here? Pegasi don't leave home that often, not without power armour and heavy weapons.” I swallowed slightly, thinking of the many reasons to leave; as well as the one that forced my hoof.

“I'm looking for somepony special.” The mare giggled, signalling the bartender for another round of drinks. I was half way done mine. “Aren't we all?” I smirked at that, continuing my condensed story.

“And that was when Riot stepped in, killing the raiders.” I took another sip off the brew, it was starting to grow on me in a strange, bad tasting way. But the shocked expression from Match drew my attention away from my bitter drink. She lunged out at me, grabbing my face and pulling me closer, inadvertently squishing my cheeks and lips together. She starred down into my eyes as she spoke.

“Riot? As in Stalliongrad Ranger Riot?” Her eyes almost pleaded me to say yes.

“He said his full name was Iron Ven-” The mare let out a little squeak. She dragged me in and kissed me on the lips. My eyes shot open at the contact, but she had already broken the kiss off. I sat there; wide eyed and stunned as the mare belted off a line of words I would never understand. She finally calmed herself enough to make sense after another little * Squee.*

“Is he here? I need to see him!” Alright, she's pissing me off! I saw him first!

I snorted at her, lowering my eyes to a glare. “Why are you so interested?” Match barely skipped a beat, going right over my hostility.

“Have you ever seen him kill someone? It's fucking glorious! Such grace, such power, such Stable tech ingenuity!!” her answer caught me off guard; she wasn't attracted to him? She enjoyed watching him... kill? What the fuck, seriously, that’s fucked up.

“How... Do you know Riot? It sounds like you knew him well.” I was genuinely curious, despite the possible gruesome reasoning. It was probably the alcohol that made me ask.

The mares smile dropped, as did her eyes. She sat back down on in her booth; starring down into the depths of her mug.

“I'd be dead or worse if he hadn't saved me.” Should I even be surprised that I'm not the first mare he's saved? No? Probably not.

“What happened?” I pushed the foul drink away as Matchstick put her head down on her fore-hooves, looking dejected.

“I was a nopony in my stable, a fry cook. I was working when the door hit its automatic opening sequence, but a lot of ponies weren't so lucky. You see, the way my stable was made, the door opened straight into the atrium, not a maintenance area. On the other side of the door was a massive cave system and an equally large raider camp.” The mare took a moment to compose herself.

“They were... in the middle of a hoofball game when the raiders rushed in. They didn't leave many survivors. I could- could hear the screams and gun-fire before they reached me, but I didn't know what to do, so I hid. I hid like a goddess damn coward as they roasted, raped and tortured my friends and family.”

I was taken aback, how could this bouncy high strung mare be like this after something like that? “How did you-”

“One of the higher ups found me, in the diner. He had a heavy flamer, but he was more interested in shoving his little raider up my ass than cooking me. Figure he was the first buck to find me attractive enough to fuck.” I was appalled, turns out I wasn't the only mare who had unwanted rough sexual encounters.

“Did he.. do it?” Matchstick laughed, shaking her head. “No, no. I crushed his skull with a frying pan after I tagged him with boiling fryer oil.” I blinked, not expecting that out come. “Then I took his flamethrower, torched my way out of the Stable. Until I ran out of fuel half way through the caves that is.” I motioned for her to continue.

“They had me cornered, no less than ten of them, fully armed and really wanting serious revenge for their dead friends. I could practically taste my short life coming to an end. I actually hoped they would just shoot me dead, I'd seen what they'd done to my mare friends. I didn't want that fate.” Matchstick slugged back the rest of her drink, then reached over for my discarded stein.

“I closed my eyes, hoping that the fumes in my tanks were enough to kill some of them. They cocked their weapons, I was seconds from death. Then BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM!!” Matchstick ended each Boom with a hoof slamming into the table, causing me to jump. “ I opened my eyes.... All the raiders were dead, these huge fuckin' holes in their heads. Then this big mother fucker walks in from the shadows, has a night vision goggles and a pip-buck. One buck carved through an entire raider camp, didn't even know about the stable.” Matchstick giggled at the memory, she obviously had a good buzz going. I could tell that much, even in the dingy darkness.

“He offered to lead me out, make sure I was safe. I'm alive and kicking because of him, but I never got to know him. Wanted to thank him personally; properly.

She started to lurch to her hooves, grasping for purchase on the booths high back. I stood up to join her, letting her brace against me for support.

“We need to find my friends, they'll be looking for me by now.” We neared the door, but before we let, Matchstick tossed a small bag towards the bartender, who caught it in a field of magic. As we walked out, I spotted Saw at the far end of the alley, I guided the tipsy mare towards him.

We were in a small motel room, It had grown dark outside, so I had decided to bunker down for the night. Matchstick was laid out on one of the beds, she had tripped and knocked herself out shortly after meeting Saw.

“So, Dew; you said you picked up some barding?” Riot was sitting at the table, magically cleaning his rifles. His pouches bulged with additional magazines of ammunition, many of which were wrapped with coloured bands of paint.

I smiled over at him, hoofing my bag. “I'll show you!” I fought the urge to skip as I picked up the bag the armour had come in, and trotted happily into the bathroom.

The armour was tight in some places, but it was comfortable; and it didn't smell. Those stocking really define my flanks... Hah, maybe now they won't get shot off!

I opened the bathroom door and stepped out. Matchstick was coming to, her nose wrapped in bandages. Riot looked up at my now armoured form, cracking a smile he nodded his head in approval. “Those will do nicely Dew. Funny how Saw is the only one not wearing something made by stable-tec.”

His comment piqued my interest. “Say, Riot; where did you get your armour? I didn't see anything like it in the market.” Riot went back to working on his rifles, I figured I wouldn't be getting an answer for that question.

“It's pretty unique to my stable. Composite Riot barding, course' this sets been modified by yours truly. Had to reinforce the plates, padding and joints. I pulled the plates out of a heavier set, nasty little fuckers they are. I lost my helmet somewhere in Stalliongrad, along with what was in the band of said helmet.”

“Wow, that would explain how you can take that much flak and still walk around!” I was pleased with the answer I had gotten, not expecting anymore.

“Yea. That's how I do it.” Something in Riots voice sent up a red flag in my head, but before I could ask, Matchstick woke up.

“RIOT! It's me, Matchstick!” She was perched on the end of the bed, managing to balance at an almost impossible angle with a disturbingly wide smile. Riot sat across from her, still facing his rifles, but with a look of sheer terror on his muzzle. He slowly began turning around, I swear I could actually see the sweat forming on his brow.

“You look super duper Riot! Sure is good to see you again!” Matchstick had backed up from her perch on the bed, but everything seemed off. Riots eyes flicked over to me, pleading for answers.

“Oh, hey Sticks, thought I recognized you when I was patching up your head.” Matchstick quickly nodded her head up and down fervously, the smile never leaving her lips. “How are-”

“Oh Riot I never got to thank you properly for saving me and giving me a real life!”

“You don't-” The blue mare launched off the bed, hooves stretched out wide. She impacted Riots from the side, catching him off guard, which resulted in Riots eyes widened in terror as he loosing a pained yelp. She hung on till his chair capsized under the weight, sending them into a tangled pile on the floor.

“Goddess! Match what the fu-” Saw walked into the room from outside, his fur slicked from rain. He stopped dead at the strange sight.

“I'm just giving you a patented Matchstick super duper hug!!” The mare squeezed him in closer, causing his face to contort. I couldn't help myself, I started laughing my ass off!

Whipping my eyes as the buck untangled himself from the smiling mare, I was still giggling slightly at the absurdity of the situation. Matchstick was sitting against the foot of the bed, still sporting an ear to ear grin. Even Saw had broken into a wary smile as he trotted over with his small bag of supplies.

“So THAT'S what you meant by proper thanks!!” I was leaning against the wall for support, my eyes still blurry. Riots eyes snapped over to me, anger apparent in them.

“YOU KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN!!?” I hit the floor laughing.

Footnote :Level Up!
Level 5 reached
New perk: Friends like these: You got some nice friends there, shame if something happened to them... Whenever you’re within sight range of your companions, you gain a 7% damage bonus. For every level of this perk, gain an additional 7%

Skill milestone: Barter 45

Science 35

Energy 53

Into the deep!

View Online

Dashed Hopes
Chapter 5

Have gun, will travel.

“LIKE HELL I’M GOING IN THERE!!! FUCK THAT!” I dug my hooves into the dirt in a pathetic attempt to stay away from the pitch black drainage tunnel.

Riot and Saw where both trying to get me through the hole, Riot was saying something about it being the only way into Stalingrad that wouldn’t get us killed, and Match was busy laughing herself to death. I lifted my head to wail in protest, drawing the attention of a few locals.

“Darn it Dew! Of all the times you choose to go claustrophobic on me!” I swung a hoof to where the voice had come from, but only succeeded in smacking air and losing traction.

My back hooves slid through the loose dirt and gravel, and much to my chagrin, closer to the tunnel.

You see, when Riot and Saw had spoken to the locals about getting a ride into Stalingrad, I had foolishly assumed that they had meant an overland route. And look where that got us!!
As my hooves slid across the dirt and onto broken pavement, my brain flew into further frenzy.

“RIOT!! PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME GO IN THERE!!” I clenched my eyes closed as I pushed with all my strength against his grey chest. He didn’t even respond!

I could feel the pavement sloping slightly downwards, and not before long my hooves vibrated and bounced with a uniform tunkatunkatunka of the corrugated steel piping. With a scream my wings unfurled to try and brace against the pipe. It’s working!! He can’t move forward, I’m really doing it! I- wait, he’s really not moving is he?

There has got to be a better way to do this, I really don’t want to push you all the way to Stalingrad Dew.”

“I really don’t wanna to go down there Riot!” I used the time to push my wings against the pipe, clutching to anything and everything for dear life.

A few unfamiliar voices stifled laughter and lewd comments, but above those I heard Match call out. “Riot why don’t you just blindfold her, then carry her down on your back?”

I went to protest, knowing that it was basically the same thing. I would have protested if a band of fabric hadn’t wrapped around my eyes, causing me to yelp and flap my wings in panic. I felt a wave of warmth wash over my body, lifting me off the ground and onto someponies back. Grunting in disapproval and embarrassment, I let my hooves fall in defeat.


“Are we there yet?”

It’s strange how time seems to stretch and skew when you can’t see for shit. I had lost all feeling in my legs due to the rhythmic bounce and jostle I felt as I lay on Riots back, For all I knew, we were hundreds of miles from New Neighcarrion. We’re not that far you ditz, we’ve only been here for ten minutes at max.

Oh, well thank you conscious, thank you and go fuck yourself.

“Up ahead! Shit!” The jostle got faster as Riot broke into a fast trot. Not being able to see, I assumed the worst.

“The tunnels collapsed!” It was the voice of the guide, I could hear the others grumbling and moaning painfully as the news spread.

“Is there another way around?” Riots voice, At least he sounded calm.

“Yes, but It’ll take quite a bit longer than it would to go through here...”

It don’t matter none. Ain’t nopony getting through that, we go around.”

I could hear the shuffling of hooves and low whispers, but I couldn’t tell who they were coming from. A feeling of foreboding came over me as I lay there; hunched, blindfolded and defeated on Riots back.

“Alright, I can lead you through the lower tunnels, but my partner Ceramic has to go back and tell them about the collapse. I suggest you all check your gear and try to get that mare on her hooves.” I could hear the guide talking to his partner, then a set of hooves galloped away in the direction we had come in.

“Dew? You doin alright back there?” Matchsticks voice, actually sounding concerned. What was up with this mare? She was way too weird for my tastes.

“I’m... well, I’m blindfolded and stuck in a small tunnel, which has already collapsed! I’m just peachy.” I gave my best smile to drive the point home.

“What’s a peach?” Well fuck... what is a peach?

Shrugging my shoulders and wings the best I could, I shook my head.

“Ok folks, There’s a small maintenance shaft down that offshoot tunnel, We need to go down that, walk for about a half hour, then climb back up through another maintenance shaft. Both shafts are marked with bright yellow signs that say ‘Maintenance’. If you get lost, well, try and get unlost.”

There was a general agreement to the announcement, and with that, we were off again.

“Hey Riot?” It was now that I cursed my claustrophobia, My legs had fallen asleep completely, and I think my ribs were starting to compact.

“What’s up Dew? You wanna take off the blindfold?”

YES! “Are we still in the tunnels?”

“Last I checked.” Dammit all.

“Watch your step folks! Don’t want to fall into that silo!”

“That’s a huge hole! I can’t even see the bottom!” Leave it to Matchstick to be interested in 200 year old architecture...

“Looks like there’s an opening down there, on the other side of the shaft.”

“Lets keep it-”




SHIT FUCK SHIT OH GODDESS WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON- The shock from sudden impact sent me sailing from Riots back as he went over backwards. As I opened my mouth to scream, my ass slammed into a rotten wood plank. With a sickening crack, I was in free-fall.

As the hot, sticky air rushed past me, my blindfold ripped off. SHITPISSCOCK THAT’S A DEEP HOLE!! In a last ditch attempt to slow myself, I flared my wings in hopes of not dying!
The change in air surface was all I needed, for the second time in a matter of seconds, I slammed into rotten wood beams. With a thunderous crash I bounced through the beams and onto various amounts of junk and dust.


Opening my eyes slowly, I found myself face down in a pile of brittle white wood.

“Fuuuuck... OW OWowowowowow...” As I lurched back on to my hooves, I noticed a rather large pile of crumbling concrete and rotten wood blocking the hole I had smashed through staring back at me.

A plume of gray hair popped over the edge of the upper hole. Saw's neighvarro accent quickly followed it. "Looking good, Cloud!" His sentence was punctuated by a short burst of gun fire, and another loud screech.

I looked up at his before I stretched my wings to fly back up to their level. “Thanks Saw! I-”CRACK “

“SHIT!” Diving backwards with a frenzied flap of wings, I fell back into the brittle pile of wood that had broken my fall the first time. The hole had quickly been covered up, save a small sliver in which sickly light poured through, with smashed wooden beams and broken slabs of concrete. I heard Saw call out again, albeit worried and muffled.

"Cloud, can you hear me? Are you alright?" More gunfire, a low whoosh, and the smell of smoke filled my nostrils.

“Yea! Just a little shook up! I can't see a way through though!”

Riots voice called down the hole at me. “Dew! You're in an unexplored section of tunnels! You need to go north! We'll try and meet you before we board the cart!”

FUCK. “Okay! I'll try and-” I looked back at the dark tunnel stretching behind me and gulped. “Try to find another way!”

Turning away from the hole, the last voice I heard was to muffled to discern whom it had come from. "You'll be fine, Dew! I'll see you soon!"

The tunnel stretched far beyond what my eyes could see in the thick darkness. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something BIG skitter past in a side tunnel. 'H-Hello? Is anypony there?” No answer. Fuck. Out came my laser pistol, luckily it hadn't fallen out of the broken holster during my plummet.

I made the mistake of stepping forward. There was a loud crunch

“Oooh...” Bitting my lower lip, I pulled my hoof out of the shattered ribcage. The pile seemed to implode as I did so. As I went to move forward, something caught my eye.

Deep in the pile, something was amiss. Settling my stomach, I reached into the pile and grippe something both metallic and plastic. A holotape! How dandy!

Stepping away from the pile, I pulled out my earblooms and plugged them into it. As the message crackled, I readied my pistol and began to slowly trot into the tunnel.

KERCH "It's the third day in these tunnels, we've lost four ponies to......something. We've been walking in circles. We don't tell the little ones, but we're sure this place will be our-" The speaker stops for a moment, as if he heard something. "What was that? Ripcord, go check it out." Hoofsteps gradually fade, and then there is a scream, with a burst of gunfire. "Ripcord!" More gunshots. "Stay down Ros-SKRIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE-” The tape clacked to an end, but the screech didn't stop.

Something flitted to my left, high on the wall. Turning quickly, I pointed my pistol at the movement. “Shoooe yhour sheelf!!” I hollered through my pistol grip, but my call was left unanswered.


Something moved behind me. A slippery sound, like soaked rope being pulled through a hole. It was accompanied by wet clicking and clacking. My eyes went wide as something brushed my flank. Turning around... very...very...slowly.... My breath caught in my throat as my terrified visage reflected back at me through eight compound eyes.


The monstrous creature launched at me, barring its rows of razor teeth. It shrugged off the hits from my laser pistol as if they were a slight nuisance. Every shot glanced or smoldered against its natural armour as it bowled me over. Flying clear across the tunnel, I slammed into the wall. My breath rushed out of my lungs, leaving me gasping.

The spider-esque creature turned around, bringing it's rear into view. The bulb on the end shook slightly before discharging. The sticky white substance splattered into the wall just above my shoulder, yet pinned me down.

Tightening my grip on the pistol, I aimed for another shot. The creatures rear shook again.

The bright red lance of light scorched into the monsters rear, digging in deep. The thread roasted and caught fire as it spooled for another shot. The thing let out a horrendous screech like never before, and flipped up against the wall. The spider began to ram its rear into the wall, trying to extinguish the flames.

With all my might, I pulled away from the wall. The thread that held me down stressed then finally snapped. The creature let out another howl as it looked down the prism focus chamber of my pistol. PAKPAK. The rounds found purchase within its eyes, causing it to rear and howl once again as it began to break apart on a molecular level. Within a second, the creature lay in a crumpled ashen coffin of its former self.

I spat the pistol back into its leg holster, then turned around. “RAAAAUGH!!” My hind leg kicked through its ashen face, causing the rest of it to disintegrate into a dusty pile. “Suck my hoof you sick- er...” I tapped my chin for a moment. “Creeper? No... Slimer? Nah, to lame. Screw it, I'll just call you Ass Jockeys.” I smiled as I stared at the pile of ash, but then shuddered at the memory of the horrible creature.

“I gotta find the others, no way I'm staying here.” I had a sudden pout of clarity, taking out my pistol, I checked the charge.

“Shit. No ammo...” I looked up at the ceiling, anger and frustration breaking across my muzzle. “Fuck me, Right? It's not like I need to kill anything or fight for my life. That would be silly and unheard of!” I lowered my head and gave it a shake. My dark black hair fell before my eyes, and out of habit began to chew it.

As I sat on my rear, staring at the pile of ash, out of the corner of my eye, something moved. Actually, It was a lot of somethings. “Fuck. What now- FUCK.” The shadows began to crawl, and not in the good way. Jumping to my hooves, I lifted my pistol up and jammed my tongue into the trigger. The pistol let out a half hearted shot, then sputtered and died.

The mob reached the cusp of the shadows, and due to some idiotic nature of mine, I stuck around to see what the fuck was about to eat me inside out. Not that way you sick- FUCKING ASS JOCKEYS. LITTLE ASS JOCKEYS THE SIZE OF DINNER PLATES, AND THERES A FUCK TON OF THEM. RUN YOU DUMB BITCH, RUUUUUUUN!!!!!!!

My brain yelled and hollered for my body to move, yet every muscle froze In sheer terror. There was hundreds of them, skittering and clambering over each other to reach me. Suddenly, my hooves began to tread dirt and I was off, screaming like an idiot as they chittered after me.


Rounding a dark corner, I saw salvation in the distance! A whirling red emergency light! In the back of my mind, I wondered how that light had survived 200 years of constant work. The part of my mind that was focused on the chittering horde bearing down on my flank told that other part to shut up and hold on.

A set of razor teeth dug deep into my flank, causing me to stumble and look back.


One of the little shits had vaulted from the others, and sunk its dirty teeth into my flank. Unfortunately, that was the least of my problems. The literal wall of skittering doom was. Fuck my life.

“AAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!” The light grew closer and closer, and with it, a large door that hung open seductively. Kicking my body into overdrive, I gained a slight lead over the crushing wave at my rear. Bounding through the open door, I span and slammed my hoof into the door panel.

The door slid closed, squashing several of the ass jockeys as they tried to jump at me. The door closed completely, even to the point of hissing as it finished a hermetical seal.

“HAHA! Fuck yo- AH! SHIT! OWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!!!” Looking at my ass, the little hitch hiker was still clamped onto the cloud in my cutie mark. Scowling with the power of a thousand boiling suns, I slammed my flank into the ground, warranting a disgusting crunch and pathetic squeal. Smiling, I lifted my throbbing cheek up. It was matted with my blood and the jockeys guts. The smell alone made me gag as I tried to wipe a glob of it off with my hoof. The clump came off my flank, but not off my hoof.

Squealing pathetically, I waved my hoof around erratically, trying to dislodge to foul clump of toothy death that was currently attached to it . Suddenly, the world blurred considerably, and I stumbled on my hooves. I found myself bracing against the wall, eyes spinning in different directions as soft blabbering closed in.

Another child of the sky, come down from her asylum of madness...” A hoof gripped my shoulder as I plummeted into darkness, the needle still poking out of my rump.


It's been so long since I've had a proper guest, you'll have to... excuse, the mess.”

I was being carried. AGAIN. Seriously, My legs work, I can walk by mysel- Thump- Never mind.

Ah, it seems the tranquilizer is starting to wear off. Don't you worry, The Archotraninds won't harvest you while I'm here.”

Archo-whats? I don't know who this buck thinks he is, but unless he's got a really big gun, or- OOFF.

Thanks asshat, this ground sure is comfortable after being dropped on it! I decided to focus on breathing instead of swearing at him. I couldn't even see him, My eyes wouldn't open. It felt like they were a hundred pounds they were so heavy! I managed to mumble something, but was cut off as something was pushed under my head.

I felt the buck getting closer, sniffing at me like an animal. If I could do anything beyond fighting for consciousness, I would have done it. He drew closer, hovering above my neck. His hot breath matted my fur under the collar of my 'new' armour.

It's been too long since I smelled beautiful... Curiosity dictates I ask, why a maiden of the goddess would for-go her temple to grovel under the clouds like the rest of the sheep.”

I groaned as I tried to roll over, away from the insane buck who hovered over me. The buck shuffled away, dragging his hooves and mumbling to himself. I heard him rustling through something, then mumbling more as he got closer.

As the buck circled me, I felt a pang of panic set in as my eyes fluttered open.

Ah, hello.”

What. The. FUCK.


I sat across from the buck, on a little floor mat. There was a beaten coffee table between me and him, but by his looks, it would do nothing for me.

“Why did you tranquilize me?”

You were about to become a snack for the Archtranids, they were practically on top of you.

I shook my head, trying to clear the cob-webs and not think about the skittering screaming little ass jockeys who had made the last hour of my life a living hell.

“I closed the door, I locked them out!” The buck chuckled. Wait, no. That's not right. You couldn't call him a buck, he definitely wasn't a pony. Not anymore.

They always find a way in. You only stopped the children for a moment. Did you think of the room itself? Did you think of the ventilation shafts leading in?” I baulked for a moment. I hadn't thought of that.

“Just... How many of these Ass Jockeys are there?” The buck placed his tea cup on the table and wiped his mouth with a hoof. He looked at me with those un-pony eyes,they threatened to rip my soul out my vagina....

Millions. You're in their nest.”

Fuck.”Dammit.” I looked at him, taking in his full appearance. It looked like he had killed a few of the Jockeys, then had torn off their armour and sewn it into his flesh.


Why do I look like them?” What is he? A mind reader!? The buck lifted his head and smiled at me. Shit.

“Yeah. It's kinda creepy dude, what gives?” The buck chuckled- I think it was a chuckle... It came out hoarse and wet, much like the Ass Jockeys that crawled through the halls. He looked up from his cup of tea, his eyes piercing mine.

“Because they will not fight their lord.” This can't be good. Not possible.

“I-I don't understand, Lord?”

I take care of princess, thus her brood is my thrall.” Alrighty! Creepy-as-fuck-o-meter going off the charts here!

“Who's princess?” The buck smiled, showing off rows of razor teeth. He glanced over at a massive door.

“I'm glad you asked little angel...” He stood up and threw the table to the side. I scrambled to get to my hooves, but I slipped on something wet. My ass hit the floor with a resounding thud, and the buck advanced on me.

“On second thought, I don't really want to find out!”

The buck cackled. “Princess needs her food...” His eyes roamed over my body hungrily. “But even a lord gets peckish every now and then.”

This just isn't my day.

The armoured buck launched forward, barring his teeth and aiming for my neck. I lashed out with a hind leg, catching him off balance. He rolled to the side, then launched again.

“FUCK YOU!” The buck howled in delight as I bounded to my hooves and began to run away from him. Unfortunately, The room was quite small, and all I accomplished in was putting distance between me and hi- THWACK

My eyes span and so did the world. The ground came rushing up to hug me tightly as the rifle floated in mid-air above me. The buck waltzed over, and soon was towering over top of me. He didn't speak as he leaned down. His breath matted my fur and sent my spine on edge. Blood flowed from my scalp from were he had cranked my with the rifle.

“ Fucking unicor-” THUMP After being slammed into my cheek, the rifle was tossed unceremoniously to the side and the buck leaned in close.

“An angel mustn’t have such a foul mouth. Don't worry, I'll fix that.” Grabbing my jaw with his hooves, he pressed his muzzle against mine. His tongue flicked against my teeth as I tried to scream. Then I realized I could just bite him.

“AAARGH!! YOU FUCKING WHORE!!!” He reared up, and slammed a hoof into my gut.

“I'll poke your frickin' eye out!!!” The buck opened his mouth, but could only bellow as my orange hooves slapped into his eyes.

A knife flashed before my face, and I felt my muzzle begin to bleed. The buck punched me across the cheek once again, then pressed the knife into my throat.

“I'M GOING TO EAT YOU, FROM YOUR ASS UP. WHEN I'M DONE WITH YOU, YOU'LL BEG FOR DEATH.” The buck grinned ear to ear, his focus was completely upon my immediate consumption and torture. He never saw the movement behind him.

A shock of purple popped around the corner, then waved to somepony. I couldn't see the ponies face, for it was covered with a strange rubber mask. A tall grey stallion slinked into the room at her signal, and began to advance on us.

“I-p-please, don't hurt me! I'll do anything!” My eyes filled with terror, which spurred him further.

“Ohh, I'm sure that I can find a use for such an insolent little mare, but she would have to-”

“BOO.” That glorious voice!!! I could drink it like booze!

The bucks eyes flared wide In surprise, but Riot was faster than he. Wrapping his forehoof around the monster-ponies neck, a long knife dug deep into the bucks gut. Howling in anger and pain, the stallion bucked, pushing Riot off. Turning in place, He charged at Riot, lowering his horn as a spear. The taller buck pivoted, and sank his own horn deep into the other bucks throat, then lifted upwards with all his considerable strength. The smaller buck sailed across the room, then slammed into the rolling metal door with a resounding thud.

Trotting over to me, a grey, then blue hoof appeared before me. Looking up, I was greeted by the grinning faces of Saw and Riot. Matchstick waved from the other side of the room as she began rummaging through the dead bucks possessions.

“We leave you alone for ten minutes, and you get yourself kidnapped and damn near eaten. You've got quite the track record there Dew.”

Good to see y'all ain't dead kiddo, would have been a cryin' shame!”

I laughed, and grabbed onto the two hooves. They pulled, and I was back on unsteady hooves. The buck in the corner stirred, slapping his hoof against the metal shutter.

I was pissed! This asshat put me through a lot of bulshit, now he wants to survive!? “Matchstick!” The mare glanced up at me, a glass bottle of clear liquid hanging from her teeth. “Torch that bug.” She grinned ear to ear, and the bottle dropped to the floor. Her flamer sparked up just as the buck called out.

“PrINCeesss! DIIiner TTTIIIIme!!” The gout of napalm roared into him, incinerating the fucker in an instant. He squealed and bucked on the ground, then slumped over defeated. Matchstick turned to me, smiling and picking the bottle back up in her teeth.

“Thanks Match! He was a real-”


We all stopped dead in our tracks, and turned our gaze to the soot covered shutter. It shook back and forth, then burst open. A massive armoured appendage shot forward and impaled the bucks smoking carcass. The limb retracted, pulling the body with it. We all stood there, staring into the pitch black hole in the door. There was a sickly Crunch of bones and flesh, then the shadows began to move.

“Guys. Guys! WE NEED TO LEAVE!!!” My hooves treaded dirt, and like that, I was off galloping away as smaller Ass Jockeys spilled through the hole. I heard the clatter of hooves behind me and I risked a glance back. There were my friends! Then there was the skittering wave of doom scampering after us.

“Dew keep running! There's a ladder up ahead, just climb as fast as you can!!!”

I nodded slightly, the turned my head forward and ran for all my orange legs were worth!
There it is! My breath ran ragged through my throat and lungs, and my legs burned like Match's Flamer. But there it was, in all it's glory! The ladder!

“There it is! We made it!” Riot yelled something, but it was cut off by the chattering din the little creatures made. One of the bigger ones had tried to cut us off, but met a fast death at the barking barrels of Riots rifles.

Skidding to a halt just under the ladder, I could only wonder. How many calories have I burned off with all this running and near death experiences? I blinked, mulling it over in my mind.

Saw bounded past me, then came to a crashing halt. “The damn hatch is closed!! I'll try and open it!”

Riot and matchstick came up on us, despair written over one of their faces. “Get up that ladder and get the bloody thing open! We'll hold them off!”

Matchstick's Flamer let out a low whine as it sprayed the hall with smoking napalm and jellied gasoline. Riot turned to me, and tossed a small set of bags over at me. “ya lost em' when you tumbled, Figured you'd want some fresh mag's!”

My eyes shot open and a small grin hit me. I had purchased a whole wack of laser cartridges! FUCK!

My laser pistol came out of its holster, and my wing slipped a new crystal pack into the feed tray. The pistol hummed to life with renewed vigor. My triumph was short lived when Match called out over the screeching Ass Jockeys.

“I NEED TO RELOAD!! THEY'RE GOING TO PUSH THROUGH THE FLAMES!!” Well fuck me side-ways. We were-

“Toss me a lighter!” The mare tossed a small metal object at the buck, who swigged back at least half his flask. I heard Saw crack open the bottle on his hoof held torch. I hoped that what-ever Riot had planned would work.

One of the larger ones stepped over the flames, the collapsed ontop of them, effectively creating a bridge over the roaring napalm. The tide of little fuckers began to flow towards us. My laser pistol bucked in my mouth as I incinerated a select few in the group.

The tall grey stallion stepped into view, his cheeks were puffed out and the lighter levitated in front of him. As the first of the Jockeys crossed the morbid bridge, the buck sprayed.

Fire arched from his lips and into the group, I could hear their squelching cries as they reared back and fell from the bridge. Just as Riot emptied his cheeks, Match patted him on the shoulder as I fired past them. We both backed away, and the blue mare let loose.


A large Jockey bounded above the others, and bowled into Riot, knocking him to the ground. Match pointed a hoof as she kept the fiery stream on the wave, but I didn't need to be told what to do.

Galloping the short distance, I came to where the buck and the spider grappled on the ground. Riot dodged and blocked the spiders razor maw, but it was obvious he need help. Jamming my laser pistol into the small indent in the side of the Jockeys head, I fired on full auto. The creature spasmed, bucking violently as it swatted at its head. Riot pointed his head upwards and loosed a kinetic blast.

The spider was blown upwards and impaled on the numerous broken pipes that trailed the roof. Squealing loudly, it slid off the pipes and fell to the ground with a thud.

Riot glanced up as he wiped a bit of blood from a shallow bite. Giving me a thankful smile, he turned to Saw. “How are we lookin? I don't think we're welcome here anymore!”

The blue buck looked back as the hatch popped open. “We're right shiny, lets get the hell outa Dodge!”

The hatch closed with a loud Krump and was promptly welded to the panel with a small arc welder. We all sat down for a moment, catching our breaths and coughing up smoke.

Match slid her mask off, that funny permanent smile still permeating her lips. “That was fun! Can we go again?”

A muffled roar echoed through the tunnels, plumes of dust lifted up from the floor and fell from the roof.

“I think we're permanently banned from that ride kids...” We all laughed, until something slammed into the hatch with extreme force.

“Well y'all, as much fun as this vacations been, ah think it be about high time we all went back to work.”

Yea, I think park security's right pissed.”

“What the hell are you two going on about?”

The two bucks looked at each other. “Nothin.”

“There's the cart! Come on!” Riot cantered past the rest of us, whom were puffing and breathing heavily. We had been running and cantering almost the entire way, but with each step, that monstrosities murderous roars grew quieter and quieter.

My hoof braced against the metal cage of the cart, allowing me to catch my breath finally. Matchstick trotted past me, patting me on the shoulder as she past. “Doin' great! Just a few more steps!”

I nodded, waving my hoof. “I'll be right up...”

Saw clambered onto the cart, next to its driver. The other buck nodded over to him, then started the engine. Riot motioned at me from his place on the covered cart. “Up and at em' Ms. Cloud, don't want to keep that sister of yours waiting.”

I nodded again, then trotted up the short stairs. Sitting down across from the tall stallion, I lifted the leg of my barding and tried to lick my wounds.
Riot said something, then shifted over to my side of the bench. Taking my hoof in his, he opened up the metal canister he always had hanging from his gear.

“Let me take a look at ya, looks like you took a might bit o' a beatin'.”

I blushed into my hoof as he examined the other, I mumbled something as he turned it over to look at the underside.

“Just some nice bruise material on this hoof. I'll check your neck and chest for any other wounds then I'll move to your head.”

I nodded slightly, but then Matchstick spoke up. “I think her neck isn't the only thing she wants checked out Riot! “ She giggled loudly as I turned from orange to bright crimson. Riot let out a chuckle, then unfurled a roll of bandages.

'I'm going to wrap your neck, but your chest seems alright. Just a lot of bruises.”

I leaned back against the railing as the cart putted along the tracks. “Y-Yea, sure. I've gotten bruises before, no big deal.”

“Mhmm. Hold on, this cut on your heads pretty bad, I'll have to apply some potion directly to it or risk infection. Lean against me so I can get it in some proper light.”

OK! I'M FINE WITH THIS!!! My mind did little backflips, but I managed to lower myself so my face was against his chest. I winced as he hoofed at the cut gently. I pulled in a deep breath, and found my nose filled with his scent.

Sure, fine, I'll admit it wasn't much more than the burn of gunpowder death and napalm, but it had a certain musk to it that stiffened my wings. WHAT? DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.

“He clocked you pretty good, but I think you'll be alright Dew.”

Before I could answer, Match piped up again. “Not the only clocking she's-”

“Match, one more innuendo and I'm shoving a sparkle cola bottle up your ass.” Thanks Riot. That's just a peachy image. Match baulked, shuffling her hooves in embarrassment and staring at the ground. Serves you right calling me out like that!!!

The driver called out as a shrill bell rang in the distance. “Five minutes to Horseshen! Thank you for choosing Carrion lines, Please, don't come again!”

Footnote: Lvl UP!!

New perk: Look! Distraction!: Enemies won't engage you right away when you're floored, giving your friends (Or you) a chance to murder them! This perk gives you a 10% bonus to combat when floored, and your allies the flanking strike perk if they don't already have it.

Quest Trait earned: Archophobia: Congratulations! You hate anything that skitters or crawls, giving you a plus 5% to damage in ranged combat, but a -10% to accuracy in close quarters.

As an added bonus, you've come to despise and loathe anypony who has weird eyes! Woo equality!

Long walks and Sore Hooves

View Online

Dashed Hopes
Chapter 6

Am I the toast of the trench or what?
Oh you’ll be toast alright.

The gate of Horseshen station were made of meter thick steel; supplemented by thick reinforced concrete on all sides. The warning light span silently in its housing, it bathed the area in pale yellow light. I trotted in beside Saw and the others; but I still felt the gaze of the guards who kept their guns trained on both us and the area behind the gate.

Somepony; whom I could only assume to be the guard captain by what he wore; trotted up to us and offered a hoof to Saw. “Welcome to Horseshen, we haven’t had many visitors as of late.”

Saw nodded and motioned to me. “She’s party leader, not me.” I may have blushed slightly at the gathered attention.

“Heh, yeah that’s me.” I offered my hoof to the buck, who took it up graciously.

“Again, welcome to our station. May I ask what brings such a well armed group to our humble metro?” I glanced over to Riot for advice; all I got was a lousy shrug as he turned back to one of the guards and began to chat again.

I looked back to the captain, who hadn’t moved an inch. “We’re going into Stalliongrad, I’m going to find my sister.”

The buck tapped his chin thoughtfully. “I see. An honourable quest, but I think you’re in over your mane.” He smiled softly at me as he stepped aside. “I suggest checking the armoury for a firepower upgrade, that pistol will only get you or your friends killed. I hope you enjoy your stay at our station.”

At that, the buck wheeled about and began to trot back to his command post. I shook my head as I turned to my friends. “What do you guys think? Should we just keep going or should we rest?”

Riot spoke first. “We should see about getting you a laser rifle or something of the sort, that captain was right.” Saw nodded in agreement with the grey unicorn.

Matchstick on the other hoof smiled wide as she looked at me. “You need to try the moonshine Dew!” My ears drooped slightly at the mention of alcohol.

“I-I don’t think that’s such a good idea Match. We need to keep our momentum going after all.” I gave her my best award winning smile.

She didn’t buy it. The mares eyes drooped and she almost seemed to glare at me. “Fine then miss fancy panties, I’ll be at the bar making friends while you get shafted by merchants.” The mare grunted as she turned and trotted away with her nose in the air.

Riot shook his head behind me. “ Now you can explain to me why you thought it was such a good idea to bring her along, eh?”

Saw chuckled as I gibbered uselessly. “You kids play nice now. Me, I’m going to drink with Sticks over there.” I raised a hoof to argue, but he turned around and started to trot after Matchstick. My hoof fell back down with a dull thud.

Riot nickered as he trotted up next to me. “Let’s get moving Dew, we need to figure out what we’re doing before nightfall.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “Nightfall? Why would we care about that? Can’t we just camp outside like we did with Hoofington?” I swallowed quietly as he turned around to look at me. I almost jumped as he laid a hoof down on my shoulder.

“Lass... Hoofington was no cake-walk, but Stalliongrad will literally kill you in your sleep.” He gave me a sincere smile as he patted my shoulder.

I think my jaw dropped slightly. “W-what do you mean?”

“I mean we’re going to need gas-masks and a lot of filters if we expect to get anywhere outside twenty feet from the door. “

His words stopped me dead in my tracks. “Is it that bad out there? How could True Heart survive out there if it’s that bad?” I know my voice was cracking and strained, but this was serious stuff right here.

Riot sighed as he stopped ahead of me. “If she’s in Stalliongrad, she’s got a gas-mask and a big gun.”

Riot was leading me through the tiny metro market; it was considerably smaller than the one at New Carrion, but I noticed that they offered a strange selection of goods. One of the merchants was selling an array of odd looking weapons and saddles, and beside him was a booth where ammunition could be traded.

I trotted up to the counter as Riot broke off to talk with the mare running the ammo booth. The merchant running the gun stall looked at me with hungry eyes and a swindling smile.

“Hello there, looking for some new ordinance?”

I nodded as I picked up a small pistol with my hoof. The buck nickered as he glanced at my holster. “Your gun is better, but if you wanted to trade or something...”

I shook my head as I turned to a large and menacing weapon. The buck grinned ear to ear. “This! This is way better than your toy gun.”

“I don’t even think I can lift this thing!” I poked the weapon in question, causing the buck to frown.

“As you wish... Are you going to buy something? Or are you wasting my time?”

Riot trotted next to me and placed a full clip of ammunition on the table. “Bring out your special rifles. Now.”

The buck nodded swiftly before ducking into the back. He trotted out with a bulging duffel bag clamped in his teeth; the bag was plopped down infront of us and the clip of ammunition was grasped in return. Riot unzipped the bag and pulled out a number of weapons.

My eyes went wide as I looked over the military grade weapons. There was a certain laser rifle that drew my attention with its extended prism chamber and enhanced focus sight. Riot must have seen the look on my face; he started to grin as he picked out a bag of caps. “You think you can handle that sucker?”

I nodded my head swiftly as the bag went over to the buck. Riot put his hoof down on the counter as my hooves wrapped around the weapon. “Give her five cells, I gave you enough to warrant that.”

The buck nodded again and tossed a small box at me. I ignored them as I ran a hoof down the weapons side. My mouth hung open in a grin as I popped a fresh battery into the chamber; the weapon whirred for a moment before beeping.

“Alright lass, pack your new toy up and follow me. We’ve got shopping to do.” I nodded happily as the laser rifles strap hung from my neck. I would attach it to my saddle when I got the chance. Riot led me around a corner and into an enclosed shop. I froze for a second; seeing the amount of faces staring back at me blankly from their hung spots on the wall. Riot chuckled as backpedaled slightly.

“Calm down Dew, they’re just gas masks.” He looked over to the shop keeper, who eyed us curiously.

“You here to buy a mask? Maybe a new coat?”

“I need three new masks with five filters each.”

The buck whistled as he brought out a soiled box. “Big spender huh?”

“Either that or they get somepony killed.”

“Fair enough, that’ll be two hundred caps or fifty cartridges.”


Riot tossed over another pouch before motioning to the wall. “Have at er’ Dew, find one that fits.”

“A-alright...” I gulped as I trotted over to the masks; I quickly shook my head in shame when I saw them in proper lighting. “Oh of course they’re empty....Dew’s just a scared little filly...” I nickered as I grabbed a grey one off the wall. It had a snout that hung down to the side, it looked uncomfortable; especially because I had longer hair; The rubber was bound to grab.

My eyes were drawn to a less erotic looking one that had a pair of filters poking out either side; it had straps in the back instead of rubber. I shrugged my shoulders and slid the thing over my face. The mask hugged tightly along the borders of my face; Riot turned around and trotted over. He took my masked face in his hooves and I blushed like an inferno...

“W-what are you doing?” He shook the mask lightly from side to side.

“Can you breath? Hows the seal?”

I stopped blushing as hard when I realized what he was doing. “I-It’s fine, fits nicely.” I glanced up at him; but froze as he stared back at me. My red cheeks returned with a vengeance as he offered a soft smile.

“Good, it’s yours. The others will be fairly easy because of their short hair; but I know that Matchstick has her own mask. This ones for me.” He lifted up a mask similar to mine; but it was definitely meant for combat.

“Thanks!” Riot nodded as he floated a set of green cylinders into the utility barding that clung to my belly.

“Each filter should give you around two hours at best; try to find some outside or buy extras whenever you’re low. “

It was my turn to nod my head. “Alright, thanks Riot.”

“You two seem to be getting along nicely.” I turned to the door and waved over the pale blue form of Buzzsaw. He trotted up next to us and motioned towards the spare mask and filters. “I assume those are mine?”

Riot levitated them over to my friend as he spoke. “Filters last for two; scav’ for extras when needed.”

Saw nodded before placing the mask and filters into his bags. “Y’all may want to get over to the bar... Match is going to get in deep trouble, and I don’t have the willpower to deal with her.”

“Shit. Alright, lets stop the poor mare before she gets VD.” Riot waved dismissively to the pony behind the counter before trotting out the door and towards the bar.

The ruckus from the bar could be heard immediately as we neared the edge of the bazaar, I wondered what exactly Match had gotten herself into to cause such noise. Riot nickered as we drew closer to the bar; we could hear the voices now. It was nearing what sounded like a bar fight.

I’d only ever seen bar fights on the cheap holo-vids that I used to rent to keep myself from going insane with boredom, They were usually the same; the cowbuck would trot in and order a sarsaparilla, but the bad guy would say something about not liking the other bucks look or-


My heart skipped a beat as ponies started to yell. Riot pushed through a clump of rag wearing mares as he broke into a gallop; Saw and myself quickly followed suit.

The front of the bar looked like it could fall apart at any moment; but that didn’t stop the ponies inside from bucking a bright blue mare through the flimsy window.

Matchstick hit the ground and rolled ass over heels; she tumbled down onto the empty tracks that ran parallel with the bar. I hopped down as Riot motioned to Saw and the side of the shack as he pulled his gun. Match looked up at me as the door swung open

“Cavalry's here...” Her eyes rolled about slightly; I wasn’t sure if it was from the booze on her breath or the blood leaking over her forehead.

“Git up you worthless whore!” My eyes shot up to see a pack of rough looking bucks advancing on our position with malice in his eyes. I drew my laser pistol and aimed it at them as I stood over Match.

The lead buck laughed heartily as me as his fellow drew a revolver. (On the upside I knew what it was!) The others in his group quickly followed suit with weapons and laughter. The lead stallion silenced them with a hoof, he then pointed it at me.

“Move. Or we kill you along with your scumbag friend.”

I mumbled through the grip of the pistol; eliciting more laughter. The buck nickered as he pointed towards me. “You just made the worst mistake of your life missy.” The bucks next to him readied their guns.


I screamed into the grip of my pistol; which bucked in response and buried a round of crimson red into the lead stallions throat. I watched in what seemed like slow motion as the buck to the rights head shattered as the pistol round broke through the front of his skull. I fell in time to match the falling and gurgling lead stallion. The last ponys eyes went wide as a large wrench smashed into his chest; his smoking revolver clattered to the ground.

I fell overtop of Matchstick; who had been getting up onto her hooves slowly. She groaned in defeat as I slumped over her. My shoulder burned like crazy as the blood from the hole there seeped into my fur. Somepony clambered down into the burrow and shook me.

“Dew! You’re alright, you just took a round to the shoulder.” No shit buddy, what next? You gonna tell me I’m a mare?

I nodded weakly as Riot and Saw pulled us up. I grunted in pain as the fire in my shoulder spread into my chest. “Fuck! Careful!” I clenched my eyes shut as Riot let me leaned against his side.

“Let’s get out of here before-”

Yells echoed off the metro walls as we trotted towards the gate. Riot nickered as he turned sharply; dragging me with him roughly. A shot rang out from the gate and the concrete behind us exploded into a shower of dust.

Matchstick laughed as she galloped ahead of us. “Come on! I know a backdoor out!”

“Not the tunnels! I Loathe, the tunnels.” Riot swore under his breath as he bucked a sheet metal door closed behind us. “Fuck! Saw, push that filing cabinet over to block the door while I move the barrier.”

The blue buck nodded and went around the large metal box. Said box came crashing down behind us; causing me to flinch weakly. I had just been shot, stop snickering.

“Come on! Lets get out of here before the sheriff's deputies buck that door down.” Match heaved her heavy flamer through the small opening before slipping through and disappearing into the dark.

Saw groaned quietly as he too jumped through.

“I hate the tunnels.” My crutch spat before slipping on his gasmask. “Hold still.” I did as I was told, and my gasmask was soon hugging my face. The edges of my vision swam in darkness as Riot pulled me through the small opening, before he closed the door behind us.

The smell hit me like a cloud carriage despite the filters of the mask. I gagged weakly as I leaned against Riot. He swore again as he looked over to me. “Dammit, we need to patch up that hole in Dew before we go into the sewer. She won’t find anypony if that shit goes septic.”

“Sounds like a plan, what do you have for medical supplies?”

Matchstick whinnied in anxiety as she stood near a long tunnel. “Come on! Patch her up and lets go! I don’t want to be around for when those yokels decide to hang the mare who shot the sheriff.”

I slurped greedily at the small container that had been offered to me; I felt my shoulder stitching back together as I spoke. “Who shot who now?”

Riot picked me up off the ground. “You shot the sheriff, and I blew the head deputies brains out.”

Somepony nickered as they slipped on a gasmask; the muffled voice filled the tunnel. “Ah hate that song.”

The large unicorn holding me up chuckled dryly through the rubber mask. “Come on, they’ll figure out where we went eventually.”

Nodding, I pushed up onto my own hooves; testing them for strength. “Y-yeah, I’m not sure If going to court would be such a...wonderful Idea.” The other three shared in a laugh as I looked back. “W-what? Was it something I said?”

Match trotted over and patted my shoulder, she was still giggling merrily from the confines of her mask. “Hehe, you’re so adorable when you’re clueless!” She broke off and started to trot away, but was quickly flanked by both Riot and Saw. I was left to gauk in the dust.

I quickly shook my head and galloped to catch up. “Hey, wait for me!”

We walked for what seemed like hours; the tunnels all looked the same essentially. I wished that I could take off my mask for a moment, but the faint colours that swam through the air told me that any air that didn’t go through a filter was a very bad thing. Saw kicked over a small pile of trash before he halted.

Where is all this gas coming from?” He asked Riot, waving his hoof through the air.

The buck to my left shrugged his shoulders. “It’s prolly a combination of all the toxins from the surface leaking into the drainage pipes. This used to be a storm drain from the looks of things.”

I cocked an eyebrow as I looked at him. “Storm drain? Aren’t we too deep for that?”

“I’d rather a storm drain than the other option, Sparky!” Matchstick bumped my side with her flank as she walked past.

That’s not totally what I meant, I was more asking why we have to wear these masks around Stalliongrad. Who would live someplace where you either have to do extra scavenging, or pay extra just to breathe, when you could just go live someplace else?”

Riot seemed to think for a minute. “Well, to be fair; Stalliongrad has a certain pull to it. Because of the toxins big salvage parties can’t be funded or run properly. That and a lot of folks don’t get much of a choice in the matter. It’s Stalliongrad or bust.”

“Wow... That’s pretty profound Riot.” I looked over him again, biting my lip slightly. He was a smart buck, something that never came packed with muscle.

Well, that just begs the question....Why are you here, Riot? Why stay? You seem to be quite on top of things, if you can purchase weapons, ammunition, new gas masks, and filters for our little party.” The blue buck asked, a slightly confused expression on his face.

I could almost see Riot smirking under his mask. “I’m a ranger, we have certain... Obligations, to the ponies of the metro. Me? I’ve got a couple reasons to stay.” He nodded his head curtly as he finished, then started to walk further into the tunnel.

The blue mare behind me groaned in annoyance. “Come on! There’s nothing to do here, just dirt and shit!” She started to drag her hooves. “I’m sooooo bored!!!”

Calm down Matches, you got us into this mess, no complaining for you.” The pale blue stallion shot a look back to the flamer-wielding mare.

She blew a raspberry that echoed down the tunnel. “It’s not my fault! That asshat was being an asshat!”

So you decided to piss off the sheriff of the place we’re supposed to spend the night, and now we’re in a stinking tunnel. Good work, keep your hooves on your side of the trash tonight.

“Sorry to ruin your plans of sleeping in the noxious tunnels, but we’ll be moving on to the next station before we get any sleep.” Riot paused for a moment as he looked down a long off-shooting tunnel. “There’s a reason no-pony sleeps outside of the stations.”

“W-what do you mean?” I had faced down a horde of skittering ass-jockeys, I sure as hell didn’t want to face something worse while I slept.

Riot sighed heavily as he walked forward. I was starting to see slivers of moonlight through grates about a hundred feet up. “Other than the toxins and gas, a lot of critters like to hunt at night. Sleeping outside is generally considered to be a bad idea.”

How far until the nearest station? And is there anywhere safe where we can rest between here, and there?

“About two or so hours on the surface, but we’re not going to a station.” Riot stabbed a hoof towards the end of the tunnel. “There’s the ladder, pray to lunas firm flanks that there isn’t anything nasty sitting on it.”

We all breathed a sigh of relief, the tunnels were starting to grate on some of us. I could tell that Saw definitely didn’t like being down here, and I could only go so far with my eyes glued firmly on the ground to avoid going into shock.

So, who’s going up first?” Silence replied to the pegasus buck. He sighed. “Don’t everypony line up at once.” He grumbled, scrambling up the ladder, and poking his head up the ponyhole. I could see his neck moving from down here, swivelling his head to take in the surface. “Looks safe enough, come on, kids.” The blue pony finished dragging himself up, and dragged the ponyhole cover the rest of the way off.

The rest of us quickly followed suit. The idea of letting the large unicorn go ahead of me flitted across my brain, but a hearty hoof to the flank from Matchstick egged me on before he could mount the ladder. Silently cursing the other mare, I started to climb.

My head poked beyond the threshold of the hole, letting me take in the area from a rats view. I shuddered as I looked over the ruined street. A head to my rear reminded me I was holding up the line. Saw lowered his hoof in an offer of aid.

Come on, Dew, everypony up.” He pulled me to my hooves, and he stretched out his wings, sighing with relief. When Matchstick got herself up the ladder, she shot a look at the larger pony, and spoke. “You enjoy lookin down on me hmm? You like what you see?”

He looked at the blue mare flatly. “Maybe if I were younger, and you got into less bar fights.” His eyebrow raised at her.

The mare looked genuinely offended. “Y-younger!? Are you serious, are you saying I’m not old enough? I’m like...twenty five!” She clopped her hoof on the ground for emphasis.

Riot and I shared a look as the two broke down into half hearted arguing. Riot rolled his eyes before pointing down a broken street. “Dew, we’re headed for a small Ranger hold out about an hour or so from here. Keep close to me, and try and keep quiet.”

I nodded quickly as Saw and Matches continued to bicker. “Alright, I’ll keep my eyes open and stick to you.” I pulled the charging handle of my laser rifle with my wing; the weapon gave me a reassuring whirr in response. “I’ll try and keep my limbs attached.”

He smiled softly as he nodded. “That’s a good lass.”

Listen, it’s not because pretty, you’re just too young for me.” The two were continuing on their previous topic, it seemed. “And you ground pounders are so........dirty.” His nose turned up snootily, like a pure Cloudsdayle elite.

I giggled quietly as I started to follow Riot down the street. Matchs mouth fell as she failed to find the right words to cuss him out with. “You-you...TURKEY!” She turned her head towards us and started to canter away fro the buck, who was smirking smugly.

Sticks and stones, Dirt Pony.” He said, trotting behind us, all smiles.

“Stop your bickering and quiet down.” Riots voice wasn’t loud, but It quieted the rest of us down with ease. He looked back, slight anger in his eyes. “You’re making too much noise; drawing unwanted attention to us.”

Saw quieted down, and in an odd display of common sense, so did Match; Though she was obviously fuming at at the blue pegasus. Saw took up the rear guard, constantly checking over his shoulder to make sure nopony was trying to get the drop on us.

There was a loud roar in the distance, followed by automatic fire. Riot held a hoof up before pointing over to a ruined shop. The sound of fighting grew louder as we cantered into the broken shop. “Stay down and don’t make a single sound...” Riot pushed a large table over, giving us some solid, albeit holey cover. I peaked slowly through one of the holes in hopes of seeing what had driven our ranger escort straight into cover.

There was another loud roar from beyond a street spanning pile of rubble, followed by a shrill scream of absolute terror. Without warning, a pony fell onto the road, hitting hard and rolling. The pony tried to get up as he screamed again. I moved to get up, but Riot held me down. “Don’t move a muscle.” The bucks scream was quickly drowned out by the roar. A massive winged beast landed on top of the pony, snapping his legs with its sudden intrusion. The bucks scream was cut off as the creature snapped its jaws down on his head, then wrenched it to the side violently.

“S-s-sweet...Celesti-.” I gagged heavily as the thing wrenched again to the side, pulling the ponies head off; letting the spine trail with it. The rest of my party averted their eyes, but I couldn’t look away. With bile in my mouth; I spoke as quietly as possible. “W-what is that thing? I-is it some kind of griffon?”

I turned to Riot for an answer, but to my surprise all I saw was his legs and tail disappear into a back room. Matches bumped my shoulder for attention. “That’s a demon. Nastiest mother this side of Hoofington. It’s like a hellhound, but with wings and a nasty temper.”

What’s a hellhound?” Saw asked, cocking an eyebrow, covering a gag at the smell with a cough.

Matchstick smirked under her mask. “It’s a tunneling bipedal dog, that has claws that turn Steel Ranger armour into a glorified tin can.” She paused for a moment. “I hear that they may be smart enough to use guns though...”

Riots head poked back from the room adjacent to us. “Get over here, but be quiet.”

We all nodded in tandem and started to crawl over to the room. Riot stepped back as the sound of the demon tearing the ponies flesh apart filled the utterly silent street. When we were all in the back, Riot pointed to a small hole in the wall leading to the next building. “We’ll cut around, and leave that sucker to his dinner.”

After you, Milady.” Saw said, ‘graciously’ allowing Match to take the lead. “Don’t look at me like that, I had to go first last time.

Riot nickered. “Cut it out you two. I’ll take point, Saw on the rear.” He slid through the hole, luckily none of his packs or pouches got caught. I was next through the hole, it gave me the same amount of trouble.

“Riot, why are we going to the Ranger hold, instead of the station?” I cocked my head slightly as I followed behind him.

“It has a radio.”

I blinked quickly at his answer. “So?”
He sighed again, seemingly not enjoying the game of twenty questions. “So I can get into contact with Trotlis station. You know, try and find that sister of yours?”

Matchstick was next through the hole, struggling to get her wider hips through the small hole. “Having issues, Match?” Saw asked. I couldn’t see what he was doing on the other side, but with the shock on Match’s face, I’m pretty sure he’d just tried to push her flanks through into the other room.

Her eyes bulged again as she sputtered out her words. “Get your hooves off my butt!” She squeaked in surprise, covering her mouth with her hooves.

Just giving you a helping hoof is all.” I heard, muffled slightly by the wall. She moved forward slightly, her big flanks still not clearing the hole.

I stifled a giggled as she went beet red and clamped her eyes shut. Riot trotted over and stood over her. “This again? Do I really have to keep saving you, every damn time?”

She cringed slightly, still blushing deeply. “I-It’s not my fault! My butt-” She yelped a bit, which was followed by a quick chuckle from the other side of the wall. “S-stop that!”

The three of us that weren’t stuck shared in a laugh that was quickly cut off by a throaty roar from the other side of the wall. Matches eyes went wide and she flailed her hooves erratically. “Get me out of here!” Riot didn’t speak as he knelt down and grasped her hooves in his, pulling with all of his might.

The mare slid a bit more, but still didn’t come loose. There was another roar, followed by the sound of the storefront being smashed to pieces. Riot looked at me with worry in his eyes. “Dew! Kick out the bricks around her!”

I nodded and galloped towards the wall. I turned about and bucked at the wall; the dust and pieces of brick falling to the ground. With every kick, Matches came closer to freedom. When she came loose, I was somewhat disappointed to not hear a comical popping sound. Unfortunately, the roaring demon broke my thoughts apart. Saw yelled something as he dove through the hole just in time.

The demon slammed its head into the hole, snapping at us as dust and paint fell off the bricks. We all pulled back as it chomped at us; bits of pony meat flew out at us from where it was. The thing snarled one last time as it pulled back, disappearing completely.

Matchstick sobbed quietly from where she sat; cradling her hooves against her chest as she fought to not start hyperventilating.

You don’t have shit to complain about, Match. I was closer to being a turkey dinner than you were.” He breathed out loudly, wiping sweat, and a small bit of blood from his face. “I bet this isn’t the first time those things got you into trouble.” He gestured to her rear, with a chuckle.

She sniffed loudly. I honestly wondered whether or not she’d been through something like that before. “F-fuck you Buzzsaw...” She tried to get up on shaky hooves. “Let’s go, before that fucker comes around for seconds.”

Riot nodded quickly as he checked his rifles. “Yup, let’s get going, since all the flank touching is over with.” The mare groaned quietly from her spot.

Come on, Matches, up you get.” Saw said, taking her under her front legs, and pulling her onto her hooves. “Sorry about the pushing back there, but I’d really rather not have become a tasty winged snack.

Matchstick nodded slowly, sniffing quietly. “Yeah... I just didn’t want to be raped and eaten from the backside up by that damn thing...”

My eyes shot open. “That thing rapes ponies!?”

Riot looked over to me and shrugged. “Well, it is a mammal.”

I shuddered for a moment before composing myself. “Gross... If I ever get caught by one of those things, shoot me.”

He nodded and motioned towards another door. “Come on.” He started to trot forward, leading the way through the broken stripmall. Our hooves clambered over piles of dusty rags and mounds of garbage. Every now and then we would skirt around or just trot over a skeleton of varying size. Soon enough, darkness engulfed the area, leaving us in the pitch black city.

“Does anypony have a flashlight? If so I suggest getting it out.” Riots guns lit up as small flashlights on either one lit up in conjunction with the device on his leg. “Keep close, and keep your lights low.”

I fumbled about with my little utility belt, eventually finding the dinky little headlamp I had for maintenance work. It slid over the mask with ease, lighting up a small section of concrete in front of me. My breathing had become laboured, but I chalked that up to all of the action I had been thrown into within the last forty-eight hours.

Riot seemed to be breathing somewhat heavily when he turned to us. “If your breathing gets heavy and your mask starts to fog up, change filters. We’re getting pretty close to the hold but I’d rather not take any chances.”

Huh, well fuck. “Thanks for the heads up Riot.” I used my wing to pull open my bag, then to fish out one of the green cylinders. I unscrewed the one I had on after taking a deep breath. I let the fouled up filter fall to the ground before I screwed on the new one. Almost immediately my vision cleared and breathing became much easier.

Saw looked over to Match, who was fumbling with her mask, hooves still shaking from her brush with death. She flinched when Saw turned to her, putting a hoof on her shoulder. “Do you need some help?” He asked, holding a filter in his wing.

“I’ll b-be fine.” She sat down for a moment, pawing open one of the pouches that was sewn onto the front of her raggedy armour. She pulled out a cylinder of her own and set it down on the ground.

Alright, remember, I’ll always be here to lend a helping hoof, you just gotta ask.” He leaned down a bit, getting closer to her, and patted her head, rustling her mane a bit.

I pursed my lips into a slight smile. When Saw trotted up to me I bumped him with my flank. “What’s up with that? You got a crush or what?” I spoke under my breath so that Matchstick couldn’t hear us.

Just feel a mite guilty, is all.” He said, rather unconvincingly.

Riiiight.” I smirked at him before punching him lightly. “Too old my butt.”

Hey, what did I tell you about respectin’ your elders? There ain’t any ulterior motives here, just a bit of friendly concern.” He hoofed me back.

“Pftt, right. You jus’ wanna stick your thingy in her thingy.”

Don’t be foalish, she’s half my age.” The blue buck said, looking away from me, a slight blush on his pale cheeks.

I pursed my lips at him in the midst of a smirk. “Uh huh, sure. Teeny bopper.”

Oh shut it, you’ve been rearing for some rearing from our ‘tour guide’ since we met him.” He chuckled, bumping me with his flank.

See, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the rocket propulsion test chamber.” The pegasus said, nudging me again.

I waved my hooves about in a completely effective attempt to save face. “That doesn’t matter! So you shush!” I looked away from Saw, only to see both Riot and Matchstick staring at us in confusion. I blushed even brighter as Saw coughed awkwardly. “Uhhh...Hi.”

Riot shook his head as he rubbed a hoof down the front of his mask. “You two are horrible.” He looked towards a small park that lay in the distance. “Let’s move.”

The large pegasus slowed, to retake the rear guard behind Match. He was supposed to be watching our flank, but he was a bit busy watching a certain blue flank. I rolled my eyes, but as he had said earlier, I wasn’t much better in the flank staring department.

Speaking of which... NO! Dammit Dew, pay attention! My eyes snapped forward and I ensured my grip on the laser rifles bit piece. Riot turned to us and pointed to a small ponyhole near the edge of the playground. “I’ll check to make sure that we’re not intruding on anything interesting. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for anything hostile.”

He trotted forward, then poked the cover a couple times. It beeped, oddly enough, before sliding open automatically. Riot wrapped his hooves around the ladder and slid out of view.

I watched as Saw slightly sped up, so that he’d go down just before Match. After I’d scrambled inside, I saw him looking straight up as he climbed down, Match going down just above him.

Riot grunted behind me as he pulled off his gas mask and tossed it onto an empty bunk. “Celestia, that was a long day.” He sat down heavily on the bunk before he started to pull at the release straps of his bags and rifles.

I looked about, only seeing three bunks. “Uh... There’s only three bunks Riot...” In my mind I was giggling like a school filly, but on the outside I was as cool as a cloud daisy.

I volunteer to sleep on the floor.” Saw said, giving me a shit-eating grin. That bastard!

Riot nickered. “No need, I’ll take first watch, keep a fire going.” He shrugged off all of his gear before hopping up. He rolled his shoulders about with only the weight of a sweaty grey shirt to weigh him down. “I need time to cool down after all that.”

Match yawned widely. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m bone tired. I’ll see y’all in the AM.” Without ceremony, the mare plopped down on one of the bunks and promptly passed out with her flamer leaning against the wall.

The large blue pegasus next to me went over to a bunk, and sat down on his haunches. “Fancy a bit of a preen before bed Dew? The wings get really stiff if you don’t use ‘em all day.” He asked, ruffling his in demonstration.

I shrugged my shoulders as an answer and plopped down in front of him. “Fly at ‘em.”

I swear I could hear Riot grimace. “I’m gonna be in the side room, my rifles need... uh, cleaning.” He promptly picked up his battle saddle and dragged it into a small side room. The door thumped closed behind him, leaving us completely alone, save for the comatose mare

Saw went to work on one of my wings, as I laid out on my side. I instantly started relaxing, his warm hooves like magic over my feathers. The big pony continued down the wing, righting any ruffled feathers he came across. “You really like that buck, don’t you?

I murmured as I laid on my stomach.

We both know it’s true, you can stop hiding it.” He said, nudging me over onto my other side. Now I was facing him, blush working it’s way onto my orange cheeks.

“He’s a nice buck, what’s not to like?” I looked away from Saw, almost embarrassed by the prospect now.

I don’t know, isn’t he a little old for you? And we just met him.” He looked towards the door that Riot had disappeared into.

“And he’s the first buck other than you that hasn’t berated me or tried something mean. That would be in a relationship position I mean...” I shuffled my hooves from my spot on the floor. “And have you seen that horn? Hot damn.” I forced a lecherous smirk.

What’s gotten into you? You’ve gone and turned into a slutty pony after two days on the surface.” He nudged me showing that he was finished, and laid down next to me; extending his wings for his turn.

I grudgingly got up and started to preen that smug blue fucker. “I’m not a slutty pony! What makes you even say that?” I hoofed him in the side as I started from the top of the wing.

Oh, just the fact that if you knew he’d do it, you’d walk right in there, bend over, and lift your tail, no questions asked. Don’t act like it’s not true.” He chuckled at me, as my cheeks burst into flaming red.

“No, it’s not!” I smacked him for good measure. “Dammit Saw, I’ve never done anything like that!” I glared at him, stopping his preening half way through.

But you were thinkin’ it.” He looked at me with that shit-eating grin, laughing at my irritation.

I sputtered in anger. “And you’re any better? I know a horny buck when I see it!” I lowered my voice slightly when Matches rolled over and covered her head with a thin pillow. “Stop accusing me of being a slut dammit, you know I’m not.”

He blinked, looking down at the mention of Matches. “T-that’s different.....anyway, I was just playing with you, Dew. I don’t think you’re a slutty pony, I just want you to make sure you weigh the options before you act, you know?” The blue buck said, parental concern in his eyes.

I let my tone soften considerably. “I AM thinking Saw, I’m always careful about this kind of thing... He killed those raiders to save me, we...I can trust him.” I started to preen the buck again.

I just.....I don’t want you to get hurt again.” The blue pony said, leaning into my hooves.

“I won’t Saw... Black Rain was...Something else. He was a bad pony, and I was in a bad way at the time. I won’t make the same mistake again.” I was biting my lip at the thought of the jerkass who was still hiding up in the clouds like a coward.

Yeah, I understand.” He paused for a moment, seemingly collecting his thoughts. “About.....about Matches. It’s just that.......it’s been so long since Star......” His words petered off into nothingness, unable to continue.

Cussing myself out on the inside, I finished his last feather before I spoke. “You never really told me much about her, who was she?”

I know, I don’t really like talking about her, Dashites don’t make for much pleasant conversation.” He said, deep voice cracking ever so slightly.

“We’re both dashites Saw...” I had something else planned to say, but just uttering the word slammed it to a stop. My goddess... I was a dashite! I hadn’t really thought about it until now.

I guess we are. And since the going lifespan for surface dwellers seems to be about forty-five minutes, I guess I can tell you about her, at least a bit.” He shrugged his wings, folding them back to his sides. The blue buck dragged himself onto his cot, putting his head on the pillow. I got on as well, lying next to him on my side. He stroked my mane, like he used to do when I was younger. “She was my wife, you know that much. She ran off looking for......something, or somepony. So hard to remember now.....” He shook his head. “Its part of the reason why I helped you get down here, so I could look for something, anything. A body, something, any remains. I know it’s a fools errand, whatever killed her probably ate her too.” He looked away, and stopped petting me. “I’m going to get some shuteye, goodnight, Dew.

“Goodnight BuzzSaw, I’ll see you in the morning...” I pulled off the bed and onto my hooves. I could hear Riot working in the other room, but I wasn’t so sure if approaching him how I was, was such a good idea. I shook my head and glanced longingly at my cot. It had been a very long day considering all we had gone through.

I wanted to, but after what Saw had said; I wasn’t so sure of my sudden desire towards our hardened wasteland guide. He was a nice buck after all, and was very capable. I couldn’t kid myself about that, but there was just so much I didn’t know about him...

There was a small clatter from the other room, causing me to toss my thoughts aside and poke my head through the now open door.

“Riot? Are you okay?” I asked, peering inside.

He looked up from the small work bench as he slid something back into the front pocket of his pants. “Hey Dew. I figured that you’d be asleep by now after all of that running and the like.” The buck turned to look at me, his tail swishing about slowly.

“Oh, I just....I heard something fall, are you alright?” Stupid question, of course he was alright you idiot!

The buck waved a dismissive hoof. “I’m fine, the action was giving me a bit of a fight.” He gestured towards the twin assault rifles that sat on the table.

“Y-yeah. You’re right. I should get some sleep.....” I said, but I didn’t move. “C-could you teach me?”

Riot cocked an eyebrow. “To sleep? I figured you had that down pat.”

I tried to giggle cutely, but probably sounded like a wounded cat. “I-I didn’t mean.....I...what I meant was, ummm, can you teach me to repair things?”

Riot smiled at me, I almost fainted on the spot. Damn this excitable heart of mine! “I suppose, if you promise to remember what I taught you.”

“Y-yes, Sir.....w-whatever you want, I’ll do it.” I mentally berated myself for how that sounded.

The buck rolled his eyes to cap off his smile. “Alright, grab that rifle over there.” His hoof pointed to a sorry looking excuse of a weapon that sat in the corner of the repair room.

“A-alright.” Shit I was so nervous. I didn’t want to end up looking like a clumsy ditz in front of Riot. I took the rifle in my mouth, and placed it on the table.

He set his hooves on the table. “Alright, I’m not gonna use any magic for this, that way you can learn properly. Now pay close attention, you need to make sure the rifle is completely empty of ammunition, regardless of the type.” He cycled the action on the rifle, spitting out a tiny round. He then pulled off the magazine, the cycled it again. This time, he left the action open. “Now you’re absolutely sure that the weapon is empty, right?”

I nodded. “Mmhmm.” I put my hoof towards the weapon, trying to remember my safety courses. “And then we make it safe, right?” I asked, flicking the tiny tongue-lever on the side of the bit.

“Yup, now we need to-

Footnote: Lvl Up!

New Perk: Pay Attention! Looks like somepony kicked that little brain of yours into gear! You remember a portion of your enclave training. Repair, small guns, and energy weapons get the one time bonus of +10

Standing Change:

Horseshen: Seriously disliked.

Had fun doing this chapter, hopefully I’ll be able to upload some more real soon. Thanks to all you loyal readers and fans of the fic. Dew has gone beet red just at the thought of anypony reading, let alone enjoying her journal.