In the still recovering wasteland of Equestria, a legacy left behind by the Ponies of old has awoken. What will it mean for Equestria?
10 years after the events of Fallout: Equestria, in the lands surrounding New Pegasus, Stable 112 has been opened to the outside world for almost half a century. Most ponies ignore it though, a few raiders have tried to loot it, but most just vanish. The rest come out with horror stories of killer robots that try to kill all intruders.
Left behind in Stable 112 was Project Legacy, a secret Stable-tec project built to build a new generation of ponies from genetic material. Now, Rain Runner, a survivor of the project must strike out on her own, and find her own place in the Post-Apocalyptic world and find the others created by Project Legacy.
For over a thousand of years the Ponies of Equestria and their neighbors celebrated an age of peace and prosperity. A true golden age where all nations were able to prosper and war was nearly unheard of.
But it was not to last.
It started with the return of Nightmare Moon after a thousand years of imprisonment, while she was stopped by six friends, the world still took notice. Further threats like the god of Chaos Discord, the Changeling invaders, the former ruler of the Crystal Empire, and the being locked in Tartarus itself Tirek tried to threaten the peace, but they were each struck down.
But as the years went by, trade between Equestria and the Zebra Empire began to sour. The planet was running out of the precious resources that were needed, diplomacy broke down and gave way to war.
A war for the very resources of the planet, a Resource War, for which there could be no winner.
Celestia tried to broker for peace, but after Shattered Hoof, she abdicated the throne to her sister Luna, and the Zebras just increased their attacks and their resolve. The six friends who had faced so much evil became the Ministry Mares, placed in charge of maintaining the government.
It was from this turbulent time that Stable-Tec was built, a company built out of the desire to save Ponies as the threat of annihilation grew. I was one of the first to be hired, and after the first Stables were built, I was put in charge of figuring out a way to save Ponykind.
Sometimes I wonder if we deserved to be saved... had we lost our way? I didn't know, but I resolved to make sure that only the best of our species would be preserved. So that's when I started Project Legacy.
"Doctor, I'm getting reports Stable-Tec, they're saying that Protocol Omega has been activated," a scientist said as she turned to look at a dark blue furred Unicorn Stallion. "What are your orders?"
"Close the Stable door," the Stallion said.
"But sir, not all the ponies who are assigned to the Stable are inside!" The scientist protested.
"Omega is very clear, we are to close the Stable up before the Megaspells can hit us," the stallion said gruffly. "Are the subjects ready for transfer?"
"Yes sir," the scientist said nervously.
"Good, then go upstairs Overmare, do your duty," the gruff stallion said. "There should still be enough ponies for our purposes."
"Yes sir," the Mare said and galloped out of the room.
The stallion just shook his head and turned to look at 6 tubes, each contained a developing foal. He pressed a button on a console and they slid without waking up into pods and magical energy enveloped them.
Without another word, the stallion opened up another pod and laid down in it, closing his eyes as the same magical energy flowed through his body.
The end of the world came as we had feared, but Project Legacy was ready.
And even if it took centuries, that legacy would be born into a new world. Ponies would one day look back on my actions as necessary.
We built it to use pre-existing genetic material to populate the world after the end, we had always hoped that it would prove unnecessary, and our creations could live ordinary lives on the surface. But we were wrong.
Protocol Omega, the order to close the Stable Door and prepare to wait for the all clear. A fate that I did not even dare face myself. I was going to help build the new world, that was my destiny, my purpose, and my legacy.
I did a lot of things that I'm not proud of, I hurt ponies that trusted me, I chose to consort with the underworld to get my hands on what I needed for Project Legacy. Do I have any regrets? Yes, I have a few, but at the same time, I stand by my decisions.
Maybe history will yet vindicate me, once I am awake, I will make sure that I build Equestria back up, no matter what the cost. There is no justification needed.
After all, we were at war at the time, I don't have to justify my actions to anyone, especially not to you.
Because war, war never changes. But war can change a Pony.
200 years later, the Day of Sunshine and Rainbows.
The pod that the gruff Pony had entered opened up. He got to his hooves and went to check the other pods, they contained now older ponies, each with blank flanks.
He smiled a little and went to a nearby terminal, inputting commands, setting them to each open at different intervals over the next 10 years, starting with the youngest and ending with the oldest.
"Sleep well my daughters, I will make a place for us in this brave new world," he said as he opened the door to the Stable beyond and left.
The fillies still slept soundly, not knowing that the world above them had just changed for the better, and that they would have a role in changing it once again.
They were a legacy, a legacy that they would only remember in the memories implanted by their creator. For even after 200 years, some connections transcend even time and space.
These six young ponies slept soundly, not knowing of their destiny. Soon, the youngest of them would awaken, and the world would never be the same again. Their home long abandoned, but still defended to ensure that no one could possibly disrupt the true experiment of the Stable. Nothing was ever going to be the same again once the door opened once more.
Project Legacy's goal was finally in sight. The awakening in Stable 114 would begin soon enough, and new heroes would rise from the ashes of the old world.
"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." -Thomas Paine
"Mommy, watch me!" I called out as I shot past my mother, a cyan colored Pegasus with a distinct rainbow colored mane.
"You're doing great, Rain!" My mom said as she flew after me and caught up to me with a hug as she ruffled my mane. "You keep that up, and you'll be as fast as me one day."
"Aww, mom, you're embarrassing me," I said.
We were over a peaceful meadow, my mom, Rainbow Dash, always loved bringing me here. We weren't too far away from Ponyville, I could see our cloud home from here even.
"Come on Rain, race you home!" Mom said and sped off towards Ponyville, I laughed and went after her, my wings beating at full speed. I finally shot past my mom and came to a rest on the clouds.
"That was totally awesome!" Mom said and wrapped her forelegs around me in a hug. "I knew you could do it, just like your mom, best flyer around."
I smiled and started to open my mouth to say something when a voice echoed in my ears.
"Simulation shutting down..." A stallion's voice that I didn't recognize echoed in my ears.
What? Simulation? What was that voice talking about? This couldn't be a simulation, this was real life!
"What's wrong?" Mom said as the world started to fade around me.
"Simulation terminating in 5..."
"Mommy, what's going on?" I asked, holding onto my mother as tightly as I could. The fields around Ponyville faded next.
"Rain, calm down, tell me what's wrong?" Mom asked.
"I don't know, I keep hearing a voice counting down... it said something about the simulation ending!" I said as the town below faded.
I cried, I couldn't bring myself to say anything else as our house faded from view. My life was fading away in front of my eyes, it was just me and mom in an empty void.
"Remember, your mother will always love you," Mom said, and with that she too was gone, and the whole world went black.
My eyes shot open and I flinched, there was a bright light shining down on me as I covered my eyes with a hoof. I struggled to get up, but I just fell again. There was no one to help me up, I had to struggle to get to my hooves and managed to get out of the strange device I had been in.
I looked around, I wasn't in Ponyville, I wasn't even sure I was in Equestria anymore. I was in some sort of metal room with tubes and equipment lining the walls. There were six more of those, things that I had been in.
"Celestia, what happened to me?" I said, my voice was hoarse, it didn't even sound like mine. I tried to flap my wings, but they barely got me off the ground. "Mommy? Are you here?"
That's when a screen flickered on and an image of my mother, not as I remembered her, she looked, older almost. She was dressed in a black uniform, and looked at me with sorrow in her eyes.
"Hey kiddo," she said. "I know there's a lot of thoughts going through your mind right now, but I can promise you, what you're seeing is real. I never liked this idea myself, putting foals in magical stasis for Celestia knows how long?"
I nodded, but didn't say anything, I was starting to cry.
"So yeah, this egghead at Stable-tec approached all us Ministry Mares," mom continued. "He wanted us all to take part in something called Project Legacy, I was against it of course, but Luna herself endorsed it and insisted that we all take part. The idea... was to create six Ponies and place them in Magically induced Stasis in the event of all-out war."
"That can't be true... can it?" I wondered out loud, tears were starting to build up in my eyes.
"Its funny... I sometimes thought about becoming a mother, but with the war, I never could make the time," mom continued. "That egghead said if the war ended before it got that bad that he'd release you, but... well, if you're watching this then it reached that point. You're probably feeling a little disoriented, but its okay, you've got my blood running through your veins, I'll bet you're going to be awesome."
I actually smiled at that, finally she reminded me of my mom, the mom I had known.
"What happens next is up to you, you're going to have to leave this Stable," mom continued. "There were 6 of you born, so if the others aren't there, then you need to go out and find them."
6 of us? But there were 7 devices, who else had been in there with us?
"Now keep your head up, don't give up on yourself, and make me proud," mom said with a smile and the screen shut off. I couldn't hold it back anymore, I broke down crying at that point.
I knew that I would never see her again.
I finally managed to pick myself up and took another look at the screen when the computer started beeping. It read, "DOWNLOAD COMPLETE, PLEASE TAKE PIPBUCK."
I was confused for a moment when I saw a bar come out of the computer with a strange device attached to it. It looked like it was built to go around my leg, it was a strange little device, but it was customized a rich blue with mom's cutie mark on it. I carefully slipped my leg into it and it dinged.
"What's this?" I muttered and raised my foreleg to examine the screen.
STATE YOUR NAME FOR REGISTRATION.
"Rain Runner," I said as clearly as I could.
SCANNING SUBJECT TO DETERMINE S.P.E.C.I.A.L. STATS.
Special stats? What the heck did that mean? I felt a strange tingle go through my body and the screen quickly changed again:
Oh, so it was an acronym, that made sense. I noticed there was saddlebags with the same cutie mark symbol nearby and I checked them out before doing anything. They seemed to be okay at least, there was some food and water, as well as bullets for what I barely recognized as a revolver with the word "Lightning Dash" embrazened on the side.
"Thanks mommy," I said, and took one last look behind me as I went through a door.
I had to make my way through this, what was it mom had called it, Stable? I trotted up what seemed to be endless staircases, going past robots that didn't seem to pay me any attention.
When I looked in some of the rooms, I found them empty, but they still had a very lived in feel to them. Somepony had lived here, even if it had been a long time ago. I checked the rooms, but most of them were empty save for some bones on occasion.
"What happened to them?" I wondered out loud to no one in particular after the 6th and 7th skeletons. Finally I found a large room that seemed to be made up of two levels, I saw something lying on a table and picked it up. It was a book, Daring Do and the Temple of the Serpent.
I had to smile a little at that, I remembered mom read these books to me before I went to bed every night. I slipped it into my saddlebag and kept moving my way through the Stable, that's when I finally came across a large door with the number 112 painted on it. My PipBuck began flashing and I checked it
STABLE 112 DOOR READY TO OPEN.
It took me a minute to get acquainted with the controls for the door, but I saw a slot where I could connect a cord from my PipBuck to it, so I tried that first. There was a metallic scraping that grated on my ears as a strange metal, thing lowered from the ceiling and connected to the Stable Door.
Slowly, but surely, the door began to turn and opened. I took one last look back at Stable 112 which I guessed where I had been, and walked through the door.
The world beyond was even brighter and blinding than the artificial light of the Stable behind me. This wasn't the Equestria I remembered, heck this wasn't even Ponyville, I was overlooking a desert, burned and scorched with Celestia's sun overhead.
"Well, well, I thought I was dreaming when I got the notification that the door was opening," a mare's voice said from behind me. I quickly turned around, drawing Lightning Dash, but the pony that greeted me was a friendly looking Unicorn mare with yellow fur and a dark brown mane. "The name's Dreamer, you're the sixth Pony I've seen come out of that place in as many years."
"I'm, Rain Runner," I said nervously. "You said there were 5 before me?"
"That's right, seems like Ponies started appearing out of that old Stable, but only one a year," Dreamer said. "Darnedest thing really, that Stable's been empty for going on 50 years, other than any idiot raiders or those crazy robots."
"Funny, the robots left me alone," I said.
"That's what the others said," Dreamer replied as we started walking.
"Do you know were any of them went?" I asked, it was a long shot, any information would be years old.
"Well, not really, the only one who really talked about anywhere in particular was Crystal, the mare who came out last year," Dreamer said. "She left town two months ago, said she was heading to New Pegasus."
"What's a New..." I started to say as we came over a hill and I stopped in my tracks. In the distance I could see a huge city built on the clouds and into a mountain, while most of it was in ruins, I could make out lit signs and buildings. "Oh, I'm guessing that's New Pegasus."
"Yep, you can make out the New Pegasus Strip from here," Dreamer said with a nod. "But if you need a place to stay, I live in a town just down the mountain, not exactly as nice as some of the places up in New Pegasus, but it'll do the job."
"Thanks, I'd appreciate that," I said with a nod as we started down the hill.
I had a feeling that I had a lot to learn about the outside world. I tried flapping my wings again, but I barely got any lift, at least they weren't as stiff as they were before. Was I going to be stuck on the ground for the rest of my life? I really hoped not.
The town wasn't much to look at, it had a few buildings here and there with a saloon at the center of town.
"Welcome to Maresprings," Dreamer said with a smile on her face as several ponies came out to greet us, pelting me with questions.
"Oh hey, is she the Stable Dweller?"
"Wow, her mane is so pretty."
"How'd you get your mane like that?"
"Did you know Crystal?"
"Why don't you have a cutie mark?"
I so wished I could just flap my wings and fly away, I felt silly being asked all these questions that I didn't know the answers to. Well, some of them at least, actually I had inherited my mom's rainbow colored mane, but I thought it was silly to obsess over it.
"Come on, give the poor Pegasus some room to breathe," Dreamer said and the ponies backed off. "Rain, how about you go into the saloon and talk to the bartender? I'm sure she can help you out with anything you need."
"Thanks," I said and trotted over to the saloon and opened the door.
The saloon was older than I had expected, the paint peeling in several places with a music player against the wall. I trotted into the next room where the bar was and I was surprised to find a white furred Pegasus mare with a cutie mark of a bottle on her flank.
"Well howdy," she said in an accent I seemed to recall one of mom's friends spoke in. "Yah must be the new Stable Dweller from the Stable up north, what brings yah here?"
"Yeah, I'm Rain Runner," I said.
"Name's Cider, Ah run this here bar," Cider said. "So what can Ah get fer yah, Sparkle Cola? Sunrise Sarsaparilla? Opal Orange maybe? Ah've got a vintage bottle of Opal Orange, 15 caps."
"Caps? Uh..." I said as I checked my PipBuck frantically. I didn't have any caps, I had some Pre-War Bits, but that was about it. I guess whoever had this packed didn't think they'd use bottle caps for currency. "Uh, I don't have any caps."
"Right, Ah plum forgot ya'll wouldn't know about caps," Cider said sheepishly and took out a bottle of Sparkle Cola and set it on the bar. "Here, have one on tha house."
I gave her a smile and popped off the cap, taking a sip. "So, uh, Dreamer said I should talk to you about anything I might need."
"Yep, that's right," Cider said with a smile, then she looked at me closely. "Has anyone ever told yah that yah look like Rainbow Dash?"
I was taken a little aback by that, she wasn't wrong, but no one else in Maresprings had noticed. I wasn't quite sure how to explain that either, I didn't know how much time had passed, so saying the truth would be, difficult to explain.
"So, what can Ah do fer yah?" Cider asked after I didn't answer for a few minutes. "Ah can teach yah anything yah need ta know about survivin' in tha wastes."
"Can you teach me how to shoot?" I asked, remembering that I hadn't yet learned how to actually shoot the gun I had.
"Geez, didn't they teach ya'll anythin' down in that Stable?" Cider said, then shrugged. "Sure, meet me out back in a few minutes, Ah'll teach yah how ta shoot."
"Thanks," I said as the white Pegasus trotted outside.
I looked at my wings, it was weird. I had always been able to fly before, but, was that real? I felt so useless, a Pegasus who couldn't fly, all the more reason to learn how to fight.
I finished my drink and trotted out of the saloon.
"All right missy, first of all, do yah have any idea how ta fire a gun?" Cider asked as she finished setting up the bottles.
"Well, umm, no..." I said. "Where I come from, there never really was any need to fire a gun."
"Geez, most Stable Dwellers know at least that," Cider said. "Just tha lot of yah from Stable 112 haven't."
"Its a long story," I said sheepishly, I still didn't really like talking about that. "What did Crystal tell you?"
"Not much that made sense, she said she was the daughter of some mare who died 210 years ago," Cider said. "Which didn't make that much sense ta me, what do yah think?"
"I don't know, maybe she was right," I said with a shrug before I nodded to the weapon holstered at my side. "So how does this thing work?"
"Okay, yer gonna want ta take tha handle in yer mouth like so..." Cider said.
It didn't take me long to get the hang of the pistol, though I couldn't be the only one who thought it was weird that they were built to be held in your mouth.
"Okay, yah need ta line up tha site on the end there with what yah want ta shoot at," Cider explained. "Then yah bit down on tha trigger and yah have it."
I nodded, and lined up a shot on the first bottle and bit down. There was a kick that sent the shot flying wild off to the side.
"Okay... yah might need some work," Cider said and shook her head. "Okay, try again, but brace yourself for the recoil."
It took me a few more tries and some reloading, but I finally managed to shoot all but the last bottle. I had to make this shot count, but my PipBuck started flashing before I could line it up. I raised my foreleg to read the screen:
I had no idea what that even meant, but I hit a button on my PipBuck and everything around me suddenly slowed down. I could focus on a single area, and pointed Lightning Dash at the dead center of the bottle and bit down.
There was a sound of breaking glass as the bullet pierced the bottle and time returned to normal. I slid the pistol back into its holster, but I had no idea what had happened with that at all.
"Huh, first time usin' S.A.T.S?" Cider asked and I nodded. "Don't ask me how it works, Ah've got no idea, but its handy when yah need it." I looked at my PipBuck again, it was displaying my status, nothing else. What exactly had happened?
"Hey, how about yah come with me ta tha Spring?" Cider suggested. "Lizards have been messin' with it somethin' fierce. Yah could use some practice against livin' targets."
"Sure," I said as Cider flapped her wings and took off. I frowned and tried to flap my wings again, but they were still stiff, I wondered if I'd ever fly again. "Uh, this is kind of embarrassing..."
After that it all came pouring out, my mother, the pods, my, real mother, what I saw in Stable 112. I had to actually stop, it was like it had all hit me again, tears flowed down my face, I couldn't help it...
"Ah believe yah," Cider said, she wrapped a foreleg around me. "Ah wanted ta see, if yah had tha same story Ah'd heard before."
"You've, met others like me?" I asked through my tears.
"2 others," Cider said. "First one was a mare named Joy, then there was Crystal. But Ah've heard tha story before, mah momma was tha Overmare at Stable 112, and she told me tha story, passed down ta her from her momma. Six ponies, and somethin' called Project Legacy."
"Why would somepony do this to us..." I muttered. "Was any of my life even real?"
"Who's ta say what's real and what's not?" Cider said. "Look, Ah think yah should head back into Maresprings, Ah'm just a bartender, Ah ain't much of a therapist. Ah suggest yah go talk ta tha Doc back in town."
"What about..." I started to say.
"Ah'll take care of 'em, Ah'm still tha best shot in town," Cider said with a smirk, for a moment she almost reminded me of mom. "Trust me, talk ta tha Doc."
"Okay then," I said as I started to walk back towards town.
When I got back to Maresprings I was pointed in the direction of a house sitting on a hill not too far away. I trotted up the hill, but I was too nervous to knock on the door.
I wasn't used to the outside world, I was a Pony lost in a world I didn't know about, and I couldn't even fly for crying out loud. I wondered if this Doctor could maybe help me with that.
I reached a hoof out to knock on the door, but it opened on its own. I peered inside, there wasn't anything in the immediate area, but I could see shadows of Ponies on the wall, and they didn't look friendly.
I carefully drew Lightning Dash out of its holster and slipped in quietly. I could hear voices coming from down the corridor.
"Listen here doc, the boss doesn't like it when small town Doctors interfere with his business," a gruff voice said.
"I'm a Doctor, your boss left that poor Pony half dead, did you really think I'd just let him die?" The indignant voice of a Stallion said, he had a voice that was, familiar somehow, but I couldn't place it.
"Well, the boss sent us to deal with you," a third voice said. "You're not gonna be helping any Ponies anytime soon."
I slipped down the hallway and peeked around the corner. I could see two ponies, both Earth Ponies, standing over a third who had a short dark mane and pale brown fur with a cutie mark that looked like an hourglass.
I had only seconds to do something, so I quickly slipped into S.A.T.S. again, and the world around me slowed down. I picked my targets quickly and aimed for the two ponies, I didn't have time to consider what I was doing as I squeezed the trigger twice.
There was a scream as both bullets hit their mark, but the Ponies didn't fall dead. Instead they turned towards me, aiming their weapons in my direction. I barely got out of the way of the counter attack as I fired again at the ponies.
As quick as it had started, it was over... by Celestia, I had killed two ponies. They were trying to hurt another Pony, but still... I let Lightning Dash fall out of my map as the adrenaline rush wore off.
"Well, that was fun..." the Pony said as he got to his hooves. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah... I'm..." I started to say when I looked at the Earth Pony who's life I had saved. It finally clicked who he was, we had only met in passing in Ponyville, but still. "Doctor Whooves?"
The shock of what I had to do and who I had saved had finally worn off. I was sitting on an old couch as the Doctor checked me out. He had explained that he wasn't really the Doctor Whooves I knew, but that he was his descendant and that he preferred to be just called Doc.
"What were those Ponies here for?" I asked as he examined my wings.
"They work for a Pony in New Pegasus named Lucky," Doc answered. "He's a big time gangster and the current leader of the Chairponies."
"The Chairponies?" I asked, I hadn't heard that term yet.
"One of the Three Families that runs New Pegasus," Doc said. "They're not exactly the most trustworthy bunch either. A few days ago, Lucky himself came through here and shot a Pony up by the old Graveyard. I managed to heal the poor Pony, but apparently word got back to him."
"Are you going to be okay?" I asked.
"Yes, of course, they just got the jump on me," Doc said with a nod. "So, you must be the latest Stable Dweller out of 112."
"Yeah," I said. "Cider said I should go talk to you."
"Of course, you're the third Pony to come out of that old Stable," Doc said. "I'm guessing you're Rainbow Dash's daughter."
"Yeah, that's me, Rain Runner," I said with a nervous smile. "Though I'm confused, I was the sixth or seventh one to leave the Stable."
"Well, only three of you came through here," Doc said with a shrug. "But anyway, I might have some answers for you."
He walked over to a shelf and picked out a box and handed it to me. I opened it and it seemed to contain two small devices. I picked one up with my hoof, and tilted my head at it curiously.
"Put it in your Pipbuck, a Pony gave me these 10 years ago," Doc said, I shrugged and slid one of them into a slot in my PipBuck and pressed a button.
"I don't know about this, Twilight," a familiar voice came from my PipBuck, it was my mother's. "What he's asking, has the war really gotten to that point?"
"Hey, you volunteered to go first," another mare's voice, this one sounded more refined, Twilight Sparkle, I remembered her name from my memories. "And you know better than any of us how bad the war's gotten."
"Yeah, but, creating ponies?" Mom questioned. "And raising them in some sort of, artificial environment for that matter? Plus you're already a mother and Applejack has that secret boyfriend of her's..."
"I don't like this either," Twilight admitted. "But Luna gave the okay, and you said you'd go first. Besides, there's always a chance that cooler heads will prevail and they'll have ordinary lives."
"Twi, with all due respect, you haven't been on the front lines like I have," my mom countered. "The Zebras have been getting more and more zealous since Shattered Hoof, I'm not sure cooler heads will prevail at all."
"Then why agree to the project?" Twilight asked, I could hear my mom sigh.
"I don't know... maybe I wanted to leave something behind," mom said. "You know what happened to the Wonderbolts... maybe I'm just hoping for another chance."
There was a silence between the two, I almost thought the recording was over before I heard a new voice.
"Ms. Dash, we're ready for you," a Stallion's voice said.
"Well, time to get this over with," mom said, I could hear the sound of her walking against a metal floor followed by the sound of a door closing, and with that the recording was over.
"Your mother was a brave mare," Doc said, finally breaking the silence. "Every story I've ever heard of her exemplified that. She was the only one of the Ministry Mares who fought on the front lines, protecting her home and Equestria from the Zebras."
"Yeah, that sounds like mom alright," I said with a smile. "Always working to do what's right."
"Well, your wings aren't quite ready to actually fly yet," Doc said and shook his head. "Probably a side-effect of the magical stasis or the process that made you."
"I see..." I said with a sigh. "Do you think I'll ever fly again."
"Hard to tell, you're the first Pegasus I've run into that's spent 210 years in magical stasis," Doc said sheepishly. "There's probably one more out there, but they didn't pass through here."
Right, mom had a Pegasus friend, Fluttershy, that was her name. Logically if this, Project Legacy created me and possibly somepony from Twilight Sparkle, then Fluttershy would make sense too.
"What do you know about this, thing?" I asked and raised my foreleg to show the PipBuck.
"Well, just what I learned from Joy and Crystal," Doc said. "I also found some files at a Stable-tec facility outside New Pegasus that called it a PipBuck Delta model, it was built for the Ministry Mares, but I guess they never got it."
That explains why it had my mom's cutie mark on it. I wondered if maybe they were really built for Project Legacy.
"It has all the usual features of a PipBuck of course, but it also can transmit radio messages in addition to receiving them," Doc continued. "Is there anything else?"
"Do you know anything about where Crystal might've gone?" I asked, she was the best clue I had so far.
"I'd try New Pegasus," Doc said, I frowned, I had already heard that. "Definitely one of the Casinos on the strip, if you can get into it at least."
"Is it hard to get in?" I asked.
"Well, its not easy, but I'm sure you can figure it out," Doc said. "In the meantime, I think you should stay in town for at least tonight, unless you have some pressing need to get to New Pegasus. Cider should be able to rent you a room."
"Okay..." I said and walked out of the house. I felt a little bit better now at least.
Luckily Cider was more than willing to rent me a room to stay the night at a reduced rate ("Ah do have ta make caps yah know"), but there was the matter of how to pay for it. Thankfully I was able to sell the gear I had gotten off of the two gangster ponies, which was enough to pay for the room and for a meal.
That night, I couldn't sleep, I kept staring up at the ceiling, tossing and turning, but I couldn't get to sleep. I remembered the other datafile and loaded it into my PipBuck, this time I put in a pair of headphones that connected to it.
"Personal log," the voice of the stallion I had heard before said. "Subject Rainbow Dash was reluctant at first, but agreed to provide her egg cells for the experiment. Conception as of yet has been unsuccessful, leading to some concerns from Stable-tec of the validity of the Project."
I frowned at that, I considered turning the recording off, but something told me I had to keep listening.
"Sweetie Belle came by the lab today," the stallion continued. "She wanted to see if we had made any progress. She probably wants to use the project in some sort of PR stunt, "See the children of the Ministry Mares, this is the future for Equestria in the Stables" or some crap like that."
Wait, Sweetie Belle was one of the Ponies running Stable-tec? Geez, what else was different in this place? I shook my head, I had to stop thinking about it like that, this was the real world... as much as I hated it, this was the real world...
I really, really hated that.
"We finally had a success today, thank Celestia for that," the voice continued. "The Ministry of Arcane Science was helpful in that regard. While I could not get the spell Twilight herself used, I was given access to some of her notes. Magic and science to do what ponies have done for centuries naturally... some Ponies may accuse us of playing god."
May accuse him of playing god? He created life, he actually created life for Celestia knows what reason. I had to keep listening, maybe I'd get some sort of answer.
"The war is the worst thing that's ever happened to Equestria," the stallion continued. "Maybe what we're doing here at Project Legacy, we're trying to give hope to the future. Hope... hope is a funny thing, maybe its all unnecessary...
"I pray to whatever deities there are that it will be."
The recording ended and I just laid their in bed thinking about what I had heard. Was this the answers I was looking for, or was it something else entirely? I really missed my mom, she would know what to do here.
I pulled the covers over me and tried to go to sleep. It was going to be a long night.
"Howdy Rain, how'd yah sleep?" Cider asked as I trotted into the bar area.
"Terribly," I said and shook my mane loose. "I just couldn't get comfortable all night."
"Yeah, sorry about that, all we have are beds from before tha war," Cider said, she was a little embarrassed by that.
"Eh, its not that, I'm just not used to sleeping on a non-cloud bed," I said with a shrug. "Your bed was fine."
"Right," Cider said with a nod. "So, what's next for yah, are yah goin' ta stay here in Maresprings fer awhile?"
"Sorry, but I should get to New Pegasus," I said apologetically. "I was the last Pony in Stable 112, I should go see if I can find the others."
"If yah say so," Cider said. "But if yer gonna be leavin' town, Ah suggest yah go ta tha General Store next door. Tha pony there will sell yah any ammo and bardin' yah might need."
"Thanks, can I get one of those Sparkle Colas?" I asked.
"Sure thing," the white Pegasus said and placed a bottle on the bar. "4 caps."
I nodded and set the caps down on the bar and popped open the bottle and took a long drink.
"Thanks Cider," I said and trotted out of the saloon.
It didn't take long for me to go into the General Store, the Pony inside was named Roma, and I bought an armored suit of Stable Barding from Stable 112 and ammo for Lightning Dash.
I started to walk out of the small town, and took one last look back. Doc waved to me from his house, I smiled and waved back before continuing on my way.
My journey had begun.
LEVEL UP Perk Earned: Fish out of Water Details: You've taken your first steps into the new world beyond your home Stable. You gain an extra 5 points to be distributed among your skills.
"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." -The Godfather
I was alone, it was a strange feeling, being completely alone in the vast desert that surrounded New Pegasus. I wasn't exactly accustomed to living in this environment, Celestia's hot sun beating down on me. I took a quick drink from a canteen, I was starting to wish that I could find water.
After an hour of walking I stopped in the shade of a rock formation and started checking out the features on my PipBuck. I found one that said radio, and under the options were New Pegasus Radio and something called NCR Radio. I turned it onto New Pegasus Radio and continued walking as I listened.
"This is Windtalker coming at you with the news," the male voice of a stallion said over my earbuds. "The gang calling themselves the Raras continue to clash with NCR troops in the community of Fillytown. Residents are also advised to keep clear of the old Pinkie's Pizzeria on the outskirts of New Pegasus, it seems that something's taken up residence there, and its not about to welcome anyone. Now, here's everyone's favorite Velvet Remedy with Already One Year."
I kept walking while a Mare's voice filled my ears. I wasn't even sure were I was going at this point, I was just following the map that was on my PipBuck.
New Pegasus... I remembered I was once told about a city called Las Pegasus, which was considered an entertainment capital, but not New Pegasus. There was a mountain range between me and New Pegasus though, so I was going to have to take the long way around unless... Nope, my wings still don't work, figures.
I kept walking through the desert, there had to be a town somewhere that I could at least rest up in. After what felt like hours, I couldn't take another step, I collapsed into the desert sands, exhausted. I heard the sound of hooves on the ground and looked up to see an Earth Pony with reddish fur looking at me.
"Are you okay, miss?" He asked and offered me a hoof, I didn't have anything to lose at this point, so I took it.
It turned out that the Pony's name was Burn, he was a trader that ran his route all around New Pegasus and the, Mohoofe Wasteland as he called it. He offered to give me a ride as far as I was going, and that's how I found myself on his wagon heading south.
"So, let me guess, you're a Stable Dweller?" Burn asked as his two headed cows, Brahmans he called them, pulled the wagon further south.
"Kind of," I said with a shrug. "I just left the Stable yesterday, its a long story."
"Huh, you don't see many Pegasi Stable Dwellers," he commented. "Not any recent releases at least."
"Why's that I asked curiously.
"Most of Pegasi Stables were built high in the mountains," Burn answered. "And most of them were cleaned out by the Enclave, with the exception of Stable 21 in New Pegasus."
How many Stables had been built? The highest number I had heard was 112, the Stable that I had left, but did that mean there were more? And who were the Enclave?
"Who's the Enclave?" I asked.
"They ran the Pegasi up until about 10 years ago when the cloud cover was broken," Burn explained. "They controlled most of the Pegasi cities that either survived or were built after the Great War."
"But not New Pegasus?" I asked.
"New Pegasus has defenses that put even the Enclave to shame," Burn said with a smirk. "Its not like they didn't try, but their forces were repelled each time. Then after the Cloud cover was broken, New Pegasus was opened to the rest of Equestria."
I listened intently, especially to the parts about other Pegasi. "How was the Cloud cover broken? And what was it for that matter?"
"The Cloud cover was, well, clouds that covered Equestria for 200 years, put there by the Enclave to cut themselves off from the wasteland," Burn explained. "Then about 10 years ago they were broken during the battle with the Enclave, and a Pony named Littlepip has been keeping the skies clear by controlling the weather."
I tilted my head at that, while Pegasi could control the weather sure, one Pony controlling all the weather in Equestria? That seemed, almost impossible, but then again I had no idea what path Equestria had gone down.
I missed my mom... she'd know what to do, she always knew what to do. I was alone in the world... I didn't have any family at all left, right?
"Have you ever met a Pony named Crystal?" I asked Burn. "She headed towards New Vegas a few weeks ago."
"Crystal?" Burn asked and looked thoughtful. "Can't say that I have, we're going to have to stop up here in Neighton, maybe they'll have some sort of answer for you."
I nodded, it wasn't anything, but it was at least a clue.
"How about any other Stable Dwellers like me?" I asked.
"None recently," Burn answered. "Most Stable Dwellers don't talk about the Stables, preferring to make a new life for themselves out here and put that behind them."
I could kind of relate to that, and I nodded. In the distance I could see the town that Burn had called Neighton.
Neighton was a small community that looked like it had been built and rebuilt several times in its life. Burn jumped down from his wagon and I climbed down, looking around as several fillies and colts ran up to greet us.
"Did you bring us any candy today, Mr. Burn?" A light purple colored filly asked, Burn just chuckled as he turned to me.
"I've got this handled, go to City Hall, you should get your answers there," he said with a wave of his hoof.
"Okay," I said and headed towards the large building in town. A Unicorn mare with orange fur and a light blue mane was on her way out and smiled when she saw me.
"You must've come with Burn," she said with a smile. "I'm Orange Tart, I'm the mayor of Neighton."
"Rain Runner," I said with a polite nod. "Maybe you can help me, I'm looking for Stable Dweller ponies, maybe one named Crystal passed through here a few weeks ago."
"Well, there was a Unicorn Pony who passed through here, a few weeks ago, she was polite enough," Orange said. "I didn't catch her name though, she joined one of the caravans that was heading towards New Pegasus."
Great, that was information I had already known, and it wasn't that helpful. I was about to thank her for her help and ask about getting some water when the mare spoke up again.
"Though now that I think about it, about four years back there was another Pegasus Pony that might've been a Stable Dweller," Orange said.
"Its been awhile so I don't quite remember her, she was kind of shy though... what was her name, Wind something or another."
I perked up at that, this was new information, another Pegasus pony and she was shy? That sounded like Fluttershy, maybe this Pegasus was her daughter. It was out of date information, but it was information.
"Thank you," I said with a smile.
"Sorry I couldn't be more help," Orange said regretfully. "Why are you looking for Crystal anyway?"
"We came from the same Stable, Stable 112 up near Maresprings," I said, this got a look from Orange. "Yeah, I know, its abandoned... its a long story."
"Well, I'm not one for prying," Orange said with a shrug. "It wouldn't be the first Stable where some dwellers stayed behind anyway. I've heard that Stable 13 out east also had dwellers stay behind for awhile."
"Yeah, we stayed behind," I said with a nod, it wasn't a complete lie, but it wasn't the whole truth. Something told me that I shouldn't go telling everypony I met the whole truth. "Well, thanks for all your help."
"No problem, I'm glad to help a Pony in need," Orange said.
I went to the local shop and bought some supplies, I didn't know exactly how long I had before my next stop, so it didn't hurt to be prepared. I finally came back to Burn's wagon as he was packing up.
"Ready to go, Rain?" Burn asked, I nodded and soon we were back on our way.
While we traveled I learned more about my traveling companion, he had come from the South, having served as a soldier for the New Canterlot Republic during a war with something called the Crimson Empire. I tried to ask him more about it, but he didn't want to talk about it.
"When the war was over, I came up here and started working as a trader," he said. "I've got a family up north of Maresprings, I don't really get to see them as often as I'd like."
"Have you considered settling down and staying near them?" I asked, I could relate to being away from your family, but at least he could stay with them if he wanted.
"Maybe once or twice, but I've got an important job," Burn answered. "The NCR only has a small presence out here, so its up to traders and militia to make sure the towns are stocked and safe."
"You said the NCR is trying to help everypony, why haven't they moved out this far as much?" I asked curiously.
"They've had problems, mostly to the North these days, or so I've heard," Burn said with a shrug. "Not to mention the raiders and any remnants of Redeye's army."
Equestria had changed a lot while I was asleep, I just wished that I understood it all. I wasn't used to this world, not yet at least, and I still had to find a place for myself.
It was getting dark, but we could see the lights of the New Pegasus strip in the distance, it was getting closer at least. I yawned, I felt like I could sleep for a week, even though today had been quiet.
"If you want to get some rest, there's a sleeping bag in the wagon," Burn offered.
"What about you?" I asked.
"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine," Burn said with a nod. "Besides, if all else fails, the Brahman know the way."
I shrugged and climbed into the wagon. There was indeed a sleeping bag as he had said and I laid down on it. I didn't feel much like sleeping though despite my tiredness. I reached into my saddlebag and took out the Daring Do book that I had found in the Stable, turned on a flashlight option on my Pipbuck and started reading it.
I don't know when I fell asleep, but I was soon dreaming of flying through the jungle with mom and Daring Do. It felt so good to fly again, and even better to be with mom again.
I tried to sleep, I really did, but eventually my dreams took a turn for the worse. We were getting near a temple when suddenly there was a flash of light, it was like the jungle around me was on fire, a green fire that burned through everything that was in its path, it was approaching me and...
"AHHHHHHHHH!" I screamed as I jumped awake.
"Are you okay back there?" Burn asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine, I just had a nightmare..." I said, I wasn't going to be getting back to sleep anytime soon. "How much longer until we get there?"
"Two hours at the very least," Burn answered. "That's assuming we don't run into any trouble, you know how to use that gun right?"
"Yeah, no problem," I said with a nod.
"Okay, you might need it when you reach Fillytown, hopefully not sooner."
"I thought we were going to New Pegasus," I said, I was a little confused by this change of plans.
"There are rules in New Pegasus," Burn said. "You'll need a passport to get into the Strip, but you can enter Fillytown without problem."
"How do I get a passport?" I asked.
"You'll have to talk to the Raras, unless you have 2000 caps," Burn said.
"The Raras?" I asked, I remembered that that Pony on the radio had mentioned them.
"They run things around Fillytown," Burn said. "Don't worry, they might be a bit odd, but if you help them out, they'll help you." I nodded and laid back, I had to try and get more sleep if anything else.
I was woken up not long after when the wagon came to an unexpected stop. I peeked out over the driver area, we weren't nearly close enough to New Pegasus to be at our destination.
"If you wanna pass through, you gotta pay the toll," a gruff male voice said from outside.
"What toll, what are you talking about?" I heard Burn ask. "Nopony's ever charged a toll on this part of the road."
"Well tough, this is Demons territory now," the gruff voice said.
I drew my pistol and checked the compass on my Eyes Forward Sparkle I had come to understand it was called. There was three red marks and one green, marking Burn and the Ponies outside.
"Well, if you're not gonna pay, then we're gonna just take what we want from your wagon," the gruff voice said, I could see the marks starting to move as there was a sound I didn't recognize, like a mechanical click.
I realized that Burn was about to die if I didn't do anything, curse my non-functioning wings. I was going to have to improvise, I searched the immediate area around me and my eyes fell on a can, I kicked it and it made a rattling sound that made the ponies outside stop.
"What in Tartarus..." the gruff voice started to say, but he was cut off by a gunshot. I had only seconds to respond, I galloped down the length of the wagon and jumped out, catching the two ponies by surprise.
I quickly went into S.A.T.S. and took aim at their heads and bit down, firing three shots, the first missed its mark by inches, but the second and the third plowed into the surprised ponies, leaving a spray of blood and brains across the desert as they fell.
I checked my EFS quickly, the only mark was a friendly mark that was heading towards me, I put Lightning Dash away again and turned to see Burn running up to me.
"Oh thank Celestia you're alright," Burn said. "We need to get moving, they might have friends nearby."
I nodded and climbed back into the wagon and took my place next to Burn as we started up again.
"What are the Demons?" I asked him curiously after we had traveled for awhile.
"Raider gang," Burn said. "They've been working around this area for awhile now, but they usually just attack Ponies, this is different behavior."
"I see, are we going to have to worry about them for very long?" I asked.
"No, we'll be out of their territory soon enough," Burn said.
Burn explained that Raiders like the Demons were gangs of Ponies that had been plaguing Equestria for years. The different Raider groups had a tendency to rob Ponies, or worse, some were sold into slavery, others were eaten for food.
By Celestia, Ponies eating other Ponies? I nearly threw up at the thought of it, there was surviving in the wastelands, but that... that was disgusting!
"Don't worry about things once we hit New Pegasus, they won't bother us," Burn said. "Between the Raras and the securitrons, you'll be safe."
I nodded as we continued along on our journey.
We finally reached the gates to Fillytown as the sun began to set. Fillytown was built into the side of the mountain below New Pegasus, the light from the city shining down on it almost like a second sun.
Burn pulled up in front of a ruined building and went inside, he came out a few minutes later and tossed me a bag filled with caps.
"I can't..." I started to protest when he cut me off.
"I insist, you saved my flank back there with the Demons, the least I can do is give you a portion of my earnings," he said. "Besides, you're going to need it if you're going to survive in New Pegasus."
"Uh, thanks," I said and dropped them into my saddle bags. "Are you going to be okay on the road?"
"Don't worry about me, I'm going to hire some guards for my next trip," Burn said. "The Demons are getting too bold, that stretch used to be safer."
"Take care of yourself Burn," I said.
"You too, Rain," Burn said with a nod as I went further into Fillytown.
It was strange, this part of Equestria was damaged even worse than Maresprings or Neighton from the war, but it was still being lived in. It didn't seem like I was about to get a lot of answers about Project Legacy, but I spotted what looked like an old fort that was still relatively intact with a sign that said "everypony welcome." I curiously trotted over to it and knocked on the large front door.
"Can I help you?" The hazel colored mare that answered it asked when she opened the door.
"Uh, yes, I'm Rain Runner, I was hoping to find somepony that could help me learn more about..." I started to say when the mare turned to talk to someone behind her.
I couldn't hear what was being said, the voice of the other Pony was too quiet. I tilted my head curiously, but waited for the mare to turn her attention back to me.
"Come on in," she said, and opened the door more. I stepped into the old fort and was surprised to see a familiar looking yellow Pegasus with a pink mane and tail.
"Fluttershy?" I managed to stutter out.
I just stared in shock, my mouth wide open. She was Fluttershy, there was nopony else she could be, but that was impossible, wasn't it? The war had been over 200 years ago, even if she survived the war, then how was she still alive?
"Umm, Miss. Runner?" Fluttershy said in that soft meek way that I recognized. "Are you okay?"
"I'm, fine, its just, you're... how are you here?" I asked, trying not to scare the Pegasus. "You should be, you know..."
"Dead?" Fluttershy finished. "After the bombs fell, I was, turned into a tree.."
She seemed to be examining me curiously, but when I tried to make eye contact she looked away as if embarrassed she was caught.
"You, look so much like her," Fluttershy said softly.
"Yeah..." I said, it was clear exactly who she was talking about. "I, was hoping you could tell me more about, Project Legacy?"
Fluttershy looked nervous all of a sudden, like she wasn't comfortable with talking about the project. It was weird, I hadn't expected anypony from my childhood to still be alive after 210 years.
"I'm, s-s-sorry, I didn't think Project Legacy would ever be brought up again..." Fluttershy squeaked out. "The pony who wanted to do it, he seemed nice, but, I wasn't sure if it was a good idea."
"If I may ask, why did you agree to it then?" I asked, Fluttershy looked nervously to the side. "You don't have to talk about it."
"The war... it pushed us all..." Fluttershy said as she looked at her hooves. "I did what I could to help Ponies, but... it wasn't enough, I just wanted to leave something behind... I'm sorry."
I sighed, I had hoped for more, but it was the best I could've expected from Fluttershy. I had to wonder why they had agreed to do this project.
"What happened to her?" I asked, getting a look from Fluttershy. "To my mom I mean."
Fluttershy looked at me sadly and shook her head. "I... don't know, there are some rumors that she made it to one of the Stables, but... I don't actually know what happened to her."
I sighed and looked down at the ground, I had hoped to at least have some closure, but I couldn't even get that from one of her friends. I felt a wing wrap around me and I looked up to see Fluttershy looking at me worriedly.
"Its okay Rain, I miss her too," she said.
I couldn't hold it back anymore, I buried my face in Fluttershy's shoulder and cried. I felt the soft tickle of her wings wrapping around me as she cried too.
We were two lost souls in a world that we didn't know, crying for somepony who was probably long dead.
We stayed up late that night, Fluttershy told me a lot of stories about mom. While I had heard many of them before, at least the ones before the war, I listened to each of them intently.
I felt like I should get to know my mother better, my real mother, not the simulation that Project Legacy had created. I couldn't help but feel a surge of pride when she told me about mom's actions during the war, she was a real war hero when she flew with the Shadowbolts.
My mom was the bravest Pony I had ever met, I was glad she did her best to save Equestria. I just wished that I knew what had happened to her.
The next morning I was getting ready to leave when Fluttershy approached me.
"Rain, if you ever need anything, the Ponies of the Followers of the Apocalypse are here for you," Fluttershy said with a smile. "Be careful out there, okay?"
"I will," I said with a nod.
"If you ever find... my daughter, tell her I still love her," Fluttershy said, I nodded and started out of the old fort.
Next stop, Fillytown.
Its amazing how even in the toughest times, Ponies can still persevere. As I walked through Fillytown, there were still signs of habitation, even foals playing, a ball rolled up and hit my hoof.
"Hey, kick it back!" A filly called out to me, I couldn't help but smile and kick it back to her and her friends. I couldn't help but smile as the foals ran past me, it was good to see that even in the ruins of Equestria, Ponies could still thrive and even have fun.
I wished that I could too, but I had a mission. I had to find the Raras, whatever they were. I followed the marker on my compass until I found myself staring at a bizarre building that looked like it was falling apart, but still had a strange looking sign that looked like a guitar with the words "THE COUNTESS'" over it.
"Well, I guess this is the place," I said as I trotted up to the door where an Earth Pony mare dressed in an elaborate purple outfit was standing. "Umm, excuse me, I'm looking for the Raras."
"Well, you've found them, now get lost," the mare said.
"I need to get into New Pegasus, I was told to talk to you guys," I said, trying to sound more confidant than I really felt.
The mare looked at me with a critical eye before turning and opening the door. "I'll have to talk with the Countess."
She trotted inside, leaving me alone in the ruined city street. I shifted uncomfortably, there was something unsettling about this. I wasn't much of a fighter, I could win if I had the element of surprise on my side, but any other situation I'd have to rely on my speed to get out of there.
For a brief moment, I considered jumping the mare when she came back, I could get in there with no problem. I dismissed it quickly, if this didn't work, I'd just find some way to get enough caps to get in.
"She wants to see you," the Mare said, I hadn't even realized that she had opened the door. "Follow me."
She trotted back inside and I followed closely behind.
The Raras were a strange bunch of ponies, they seemed to be dressed in a few different outfits, each of them bizarrely styled. Actually now that I thought about it, they looked kind of familiar, the outfits I mean, I couldn't put my hoof on where I'd seen them before though.
"This way," the mare who had let me in said and gestured towards a door that was open. I trotted past her, ignoring the looks from the other Raras.
The room beyond was a theater, though no one was on stage at the moment. Seated at a table close to the front with two guards was an Earth Pony mare wearing a black outfit that eyed me as I approached.
"Well, you're not quite what I expected," the mare, the Countess I assumed her name was, said as she looked me over. "So, Peach tells me that you're looking for a way into New Pegasus."
"That's right," I said with a gulp. "I'm looking for a Pony named Crystal, she may have gone there a few weeks ago."
"Crystal huh?" the Countess asked as she picked up a glass and took a drink. "How about we make a deal."
"What kind of deal?" I asked, my ears flattened a little bit, I had hoped that I would be able to be in and out real quick.
"I might know somepony who could help you get into New Pegasus, but I want you to do something for me while you're in there," the Countess said. "And I'll sweeten the deal, I'll even tell you where Crystal is on return."
I looked at her strangely, that was a surprisingly good deal, but I bet it came with a cost. What was the leader of the Raras going to ask of me? Was I going to have to kill another Pony? Rob a bank maybe? I tried not to look nervous, but it clearly wasn't working when she spoke up again.
"Don't look so nervous, I'm not going to send you on some mission that I can't send my own Ponies on," she said. "I need you to go into the Tartarus Gate Casino in New Pegasus, an, associate of mine is being held there. I need you to get him out and bring him here."
Tartarus Gate? Wow, this place is filled with cheery sounding names isn't it?
"Why can't you send one of the Raras?" I asked.
"The Omaretas run the Casino, and they don't let Earth Ponies onto the main Casino floor," the Countess said with a note of spite in her voice. "But Pegasi on the other hoof are given free reign."
"I see," I said, even though I really didn't completely understand. "How will I know your, associate?"
"You'll know him, I assure you," the Countess said. "He'll be the only non-Pony on the Casino floor."
I tilted my head a little at that, I didn't know what to say to that, but I nodded. "Okay, I'll do it," I said.
"Okay good," the Countess said and took a pen into her mouth and wrote something on a piece of paper and gave it to me. "Take this to Flint at Flint and Lock's shop by the entrance to the strip, he'll give you what you need."
I nodded and put the note in my saddlebag and left without another word.
Flint was very helpful, not only did he give me a passport at a discount, I also bought some more ammo for Lightning Dash from him. He directed me towards the main gate that lead to New Pegasus, and I headed that direction.
I gulped when I approached the gate, it was guarded not by Ponies, but by robots. Strange robots with images of ponies wearing helmets on screens where their faces might've been. I was directed into the line of Ponies that were new arrivals in New Pegasus, I gulped as I took my place behind a Zebra couple.
Its was something else to see Ponies come and go through the gates of New Pegasus, the city itself was farther up the mountain but I could see Carriages being pulled by Pegasi being pulled up towards the city.
"Your passport," the cold mechanical voice, it took me a moment to realize it was talking to me. "Passport, Pegasus, no Passport, no entry."
"I've got one, hold your horses," I said as I took out the passport and held it out to the robot.
"Illogical, I only have Ponies to hold," the robot said as it took the passport to scan it. I blinked, did a robot just tell a joke? "You are clear to go."
I took the passport back and returned it to my bag before heading through the gates. I got aboard the next available carriage and we were soon on our way to New Pegasus.
"Hello everypony out there in the Mohoofe wasteland," the familiar voice of Windtalker played over a speaker in the carriage. "Just a friendly reminder to all of you, there are reports of unusual activity in the Casinos of New Pegasus. Some casino goers have reported being drugged and waking up hours later in their hotel rooms with no memory of what happened. A representative from the Chairponies has assured me that none of the Three Families are responsible, but reminds us that they cannot be held responsible for all the acts within their walls."
That was strange, Ponies were being drugged but none of them reported any ill effects from it?
"Sounds like New Pegasus might not be so safe after all," the Zebra stallion commented to his wife. "Are you sure you want to go there?"
"Honey, don't worry, we've made it through worse," his wife said with a nod as she kissed him. I looked back outside at the rapidly approaching city. I had to admit I was a little jealous of the two, I had never even gotten the chance to pursue a real relationship before.
After a few minutes I got my first real look at New Pegasus. The landing area we were approaching was carved out of the mountainside, to allow for non-Pegasi to visit I supposed, the buildings towered over us. I had seen pictures of Las Pegasus, and I recognized some of the buildings as having been re-purposed from it. Then there was the cloud buildings, including a towering spire that dominated the New Pegasus skyline.
I took a deep breath as we came in for a landing, it was time to experience New Pegasus for myself.
New Pegasus was the liveliest town I had seen in the wastelands yet, there were Ponies, Griffons, Zebras, and Celestia only knows how many others all walking around. There was an electric sensation in the air, New Pegasus wasn't just another city in the wastes, it was the last remnants of the old Equestria.
"Hey, where's the Tartarus Gate?" I asked a passing mare who looked at me like I was crazy.
"What, this your first time in New Pegasus?" She asked with a snort. "Its two streets over, you can't miss it."
"Uh, thanks," I said as the mare trotted off, wow, she sure was rude, but at least she told me what I wanted to know.
I headed down the street, going past street performers and posters that looked like they hadn't been changed in over 200 years. That's when I saw it, the Tartarus Gate, it was a towering building built on a cloud, with images of ponies in more, sensual poses lining the entrance.
"Great... this is going to be real fun..." I muttered as I entered the front door.
Inside the Tartarus Gate was hardly any better, a strange music hit my ears, it was like nothing I had ever heard before. I could see the casino quite plainly, there was several stages between tables where ponies in black leather were "entertaining" the guests.
I stepped forward and nearly ran into another Pegasus, this one was a turquoise mare with sharp purple eyes that glared at me. She was wearing an elegant, yet at the same time twisted black dress that my mom's friend Rarity would've had a conniption over.
"Watch where you're going," she said with a snarl before continuing on her way.
Geez, was everyone in New Pegasus so touchy? I started to walk towards the Casino floor when a voice called out.
"Miss? You, with the rainbow colored mane, you need to check in before you can go to the Casino," a mare's voice said from behind the desk. I turned to see a pink colored Pegasus looking at me.
"Oh, sorry," I said sheepishly as I trotted over to her.
"You'll need to hand over your weapons," the mare continued. "Sorry, Casino policy, only members of the Omaretas can carry weapons, don't worry, they'll be safe in our care."
"Great..." I said and removed Lightning Dash from my bag and gave it to her.
"Of course as a Pegasus you'll have access to the full benefits of spending your time here at the Tartarus Gate," the receptionist said as she put the gun away. "Do you have any questions?"
"Yeah, that Pegasus I nearly ran into, who is she?" I asked.
"Oh, yes her," the receptionist said. "Bluejay, she's been here a year and a half and has managed to work her way into the Omaretas. I can't tell you anything other than that I'm afraid."
"Its okay, thank you," I said.
I trotted out onto the Casino Floor and started looking around, making my way into the main casino floor. I remembered that the Countess had said that I'd recognize her associate as soon as I saw him, I wasn't comfortable going in unarmed, but I didn't have any other choice. I figured I might as well blend in so I stopped over at the chips exchange counter and bought 20 chips. I settled for a game of Blackjack against the far wall across from the main stage and sat down to play a few hooves of the game.
"Welcome to the main event of your night's entertainment!" A voice echoed over speakers across the room after awhile. I stopped playing and turned around to see a dark blue Pegasus mare dressed in a black leather outfit speaking into a microphone. "Fillies and Gentlecolts, I give you what you've all been waiting for, the eighth wonder of Equestria, the lord of Tartarus himself, Vice!"
Smoke seemed to cover the stage as a figure emerged. He was colored black with red spikes running along his body, he didn't look happy to be there as he let out a roar, chained to the stage.
He was a dragon, a young one at that, and something told me that he was the one I was here to find.
LEVEL UP! Perk Received: High Roller. Details: You've started to make a name for yourself in new Pegasus, better be careful. You get an extra point in Luck.
"The house always wins in the end." -Gambling Adage.
A dragon, well that figured, so the question now was how was I supposed to free a dragon from a group of gangsters? I didn't exactly have any weapons, and even if I did I doubted that I could have fought all the Ponies even if I was armed.
I watched the dragon on the stage, the attention of most of the ponies on the casino floor were watching the stage. The dragon was putting on quite the show at the very least, but it gave me a chance to get a look at everypony else in the room.
I turned back to the table to keep playing, but I only half paid attention, keeping my ears listening for anything that might be important.
"Darn it, I busted again."
"Hey big spender, how about we head up to my hotel room?"
"The bet goes to you."
"Heh, look at all these ponies, they're just eating it all up."
My ears perked up at that last one and I looked around to see the same Pegasus mare I had run into before, Bluejay talking with a stallion dressed in a faded suit and hat. I gathered up my chips and moved to a table closer to where the two were talking.
"It looks like the Project is up to their usual tricks," Bluejay said, her eyes were on a mare who was leading a Stallion away from the floor. "Does Night still say that the Omaretas isn't going to interfere?"
"As long as they don't kill anypony, the Omaretas doesn't care about what their plans are," the Stallion replied. "Do you have a problem with that?"
"The Project's up to something, I don't understand why the Omaretas aren't interfering with them," Bluejay said, okay, she got a brief point in her favor there. "I don't trust them."
"Neither do I, but Night doesn't care, and she's the one in charge around here," the stallion said. "So, if you have a problem with it, I'd take it up with her."
"Look, Mack, she doesn't listen to me, I'm only mid level, you're her Lieutenant," Bluejay said. "I don't even know why Mr. Rider has been tolerating the Project for this long."
Mr. Rider? Okay, that was a new one, he sounded important at least, but since I didn't actually know anything about New Pegasus, he was probably more well known. I waited for them to say something else, Mack just shrugged and left while Bluejay stormed off.
If I was going to get Vice freed, I was going to need allies in the Omaretas, and she was as good a place to start as any. I got up and followed her.
Out the door that the turquoise Pegasus had left was a courtyard, it wasn't exactly in the best shape either. It looked like part of the building surrounding it was about ready to fall apart. There were several Ponies standing around, some were talking to other ponies, others were trying to get the attention of other Ponies.
"Hey there cutie, how about we go back to my place?" One of the mares says to me with a seductive smile on her face. "Cheap rates."
"Uh, no thanks," I said, pushing the mare away as I pointed my hoof at Bluejay. "I'm just, here to talk to her."
"Hmph, fine," the mare said and trotted off.
This place was weird, it was certainly not the Equestria I had grown up in. I checked my Pipbuck, there wasn't anypony hostile around at least, that was a good sign. I straightened out my wings, I could only hope that this Pony could help.
At least that was the plan as I trotted up to her next to the old fountain that was in the center of the courtyard.
"I said that I didn't want to be..." Bluejay snapped and turned around to see me. "Oh, its you, that, Rainbow Dash wannabe who ran into me earlier."
Rainbow Dash wannabe? WANNABE? I was about five seconds from just forgetting that I was trying to get her help and just strangle her! I may not be as good a flyer as my mom, but I wasn't some wannabe!
"Don't get all flustered," Bluejay said. "Now unless you actually have something important to talk about, I want to be left alone."
"I'm, interested in getting my hooves on that Dragon Vice," I said matter of factly. "I thought maybe you could help me."
Bluejay looked at me for a moment, I tried to avoid looking nervous in front of this gangster pony.
"Can't help you," Bluejay said as she lit a cigarette. "I'm not high enough in the Omaretas to have that kind of pull."
Darn it, I had hoped to get more help than this, I was about to say thanks and leave before she spoke up again.
"Of course if you were to help me with a, problem I've been having, I'm sure I could help you out," Bluejay said.
"Exactly what kind of problem are we talking about?" I asked, I was starting to have second thoughts about this plan.
"There's a group in New Pegasus that calls itself the Project," Bluejay said. "They're a bunch of Ponies who've been behind some, bizarre events. Most of the time they're quiet, but they've been connected to Ponies reported being, seduced and drugged in all the casinos."
I remembered Windtalker was talking about incidents in the casinos, this must be what he was talking about. I got the feeling that I wasn't going to like this at all. If I didn't do it though, I might not get a chance to find Crystal again.
"What will I have to do?" I asked.
"There's a maroon colored Pegasus stallion who comes in and out of the Casino," Bluejay said as she took a drag on her cigarette. "Calls himself Sim, some of the mares who've been in that, situation left with him."
"So, you want me to go up with him then?" I asked.
"You're the best chance we have, the Project has never gone after a member of the Omaretas," Bluejay said.
"Fine, I'll do it," I said with a nod. "How will I deal with the drugs?"
Bluejay rolled her eyes and tossed me a pill. "Take that before he can knock you out, it'll lessen the effects of the drugs. Now, get back in there and try and start playing cards."
"Thanks," I said and slipped the pill into my bag before heading back inside.
I really didn't like the Tartarus Gate Casino, and I especially didn't like having to spend more time in here. I really wished that I had Lightning Dash at my side, it was starting to feel like the universe was out to get me.
I took a seat at a Blackjack dealer who gave me a nod and started dealing the cards. The game was simple enough, I just had to make sure I focused instead of worrying about who might sneak up on her.
Even among Pegasi, I stood out because of my rainbow colored mane, sometimes I wished I had gotten my mane color from my dad. Actually come to think of it, who was my dad? I had been raised by my mom, and any time I asked she just brushed it off. If I was created in an experiment, this just raised so many questions, and I doubted I was going to get an answer anytime soon.
I had won a few hands when I heard a Stallion's voice behind me. "Very nice, keep this up and you're going to clean them out."
I turned to see the maroon colored Pegasus that Bluejay had described to me and gave him a smile. "What can I say, I'm on a roll."
"My name's Sim, perhaps you'd like to come up to my room?" Sim asked. "I can show you a good time."
I paused just a moment at that, I had said I would do it of course, but that had been before I was actually standing here looking at him. Was I really going to go through with this? No, I had to or I wouldn't be able to get any of the information I needed.
"Sure, lets go now," I said, trying to put on my best smile as I followed the Pegasus to the elevator.
I really hoped that I was doing the right thing.
"This is Windtalker coming at you once again with the news," Windtalker's voice said over my radio while we rode the elevator. "We've had new reports coming in from Fillytown, it seems that NCR troops under the command of General Gavin are setting up on the outskirts of the city. Ambassador Sterling Silver has reassured the Ponies of New Pegasus and Fillytown that this is just to better centralize the NCR's limited military presence here in the Mohoofe Wasteland. There is no comment from Mr. Rider or the Three Families on this matter.
"Now here's a special little thing from a close, personal friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous, Wasteland Soul."
A mare's voice started playing over the radio, she had such a beautiful voice I had to wonder who she was.
"Under a silver sky I wander These broken highways have become my home Alone in a world of rust and ruin stay Through grey civilisation's dust I roam
And my wasteland soul Never will be truly whole My only remaining goal now to survive."
"We're here," Sim said, breaking my revere, I must've walked on autopilot, but it was true, we were in a fancy room. "Can I interest you in something to drink?"
"Sure," I said as he went for the kitchen area, I quickly swallowed the pill I had been given.
"Here you go," Sim said, giving me a bottle of something labeled Opal Orange, I took a long drink, it wasn't too bad, a bit tangy, but it wasn't too bad.
"Thank you," I said, it only took a minute before I started to feel drowsy.
"Don't worry miss, you'll be just fine," I heard Sim's voice. "And you'll be helping the future of Equestria."
With that, everything around me went black.
"You idiot, you grabbed the wrong Pony!" A mare's voice said in a chastizing tone as the drugs started to wear off.
I remained still, though I opened my eye just enough to see what was going on, it was still blurry but I think I could make out a light purple Pony talking to Sim.
"I'm s-s-sorry Miss. Corona, we were told to find Ponies who showed promise, and go after them," Sim said, he was clearly terrified, I almsot felt sorry for him, almost. "How was I supposed to know she was..."
"Maybe if you used that space to do something other than keep your ears from touching," the mare, Corona I guess her name was, snapped. "Look at her, what else would she be other than one of the original six?"
The original six? Wait, that meant that the Project was the same group who had created me, right?
"So, isn't that part of our madate, to get the original six?" Sim said.
"Of their own free will, not by drugging them!" Corona said angrily, there was a pause and I swear she looked at me. "You idiot, she's awake!"
"What, no, that's impossible, I gave her the full dose!" Sim protested.
"Get what you've already gotten from her, it'll have to do, we need to report back to the Director," Corona said, there was a shuffling as Sim rushed to get everything together, there was a glow coming from the purple Pony. "Hurry up, somepony's on their way up here!"
"I'm going as fast as I can, ma'am," Sim said. "Lets get out of here!"
There was a flash of purple light as the two figures vanished from my vision. The doors to the room burst open and Bluejay came in flanked by two guards as my vision returned to normal.
"You two, search the room!" Bluejay ordered to her companions as I manged to get to my hooves. "What happened to Sim?"
"A mare from the Project named Corona showed up," I said with a groan. "Does that name mean anything to you?"
"I can't say that I've heard of her," Bluejay said as she shook her head. "Most of the leadership of the Project keeps to themselves in their base of operations somewhere in New Pegasus."
I groaned at that, the Ponies from the Project had escaped, somehow. Probably used magical teleportation now that I thought about it. Actually, that might explain why nopony had ever been able to find them.
"Alright Bluejay, we had a deal, I got drugged, now you help me," I said rubbing my head.
"Well, that's a bit of a challenge," Bluejay said, I tried not to groan at that. "I can talk to Night Wind, but there might, have to be an alternate way to free your friend."
Great, there was probably only one thing that she could mean by that that, but I didn't have a choice did I?
"Okay, what do I have to do?" I asked.
"Meet me downstairs by the main office in 10 minutes," Bluejay said and headed out, I followed a minute later.
I found myself back on the main casino floor, it felt weird seeing so many Pegasi around me, I had no idea how many more could be working for the Project or were at least being targeted by them.
I finally stopped by the office door where Bluejay was waiting.
"Good, you're here, take this," Bluejay said as she slipped me a small pistol. "Just in case it gets hairy in there."
"You want me to go in with you?" I asked surprised.
"Yeah, well, you were the one who was targeted, so it might help at least," Bluejay said with a shrug. "You up for it?"
"Yeah, I am," I said, I had to hide the gun, but hopefully I wouldn't have to use it. I followed Bluejay into the office, where there was a black Pegasus seated behind a desk that looked up at us with a glare.
"Well, if it isn't Bluejay, and who's this, some Stable Dweller from off the street," the dark furred Pegasus, Night Wind I was guessing, said. "What is it this time, more horror stories about the Project?"
"Night Wind, we can't just sit back and let Ponies get violated like this," Bluejay said angrily.
"Yeah, that Stallion drugged me and did, something to me," I said, trying to back Bluejay up here. "If the Three Families run New Pegasus, how can you stand by and let such actions be done against your guests?"
"Because nopony has gotten killed, or even raped for that matter," Night Wind said, the curtness of the reply caught me off guard. "You're expecting us to take action for a crime that is non-existant."
That made me mad, while it was true that I hadn't been hurt more than drugging, these Ponies were ignoring a potential threat to their city. The Project was up to something, and if they were the Ponies that had made me in the first place... I needed answers, and I needed them soon.
"Please, listen to us, this could be a serious threat to New Pegasus," I said.
"Your friend here has been saying the same thing, yet we've seen no real evidence of this fact," Night Wind said. "Unless you have some new evidence."
"I don't..." I admitted, other than me being awake, nothing had really changed between my encounter with them.
"Begone, both of you, get out of my office while you still..." Night Wind started to say, but she was cut off suddenly when a knife flew into her neck.
"That's quite enough out of you, thanks," Bluejay said, removing the knife with careful precission. "You, guard."
"Yes ma'am?" The guard said, he was frozen in shock and tried to reach for his weapon.
"Don't you dare, I'm in charge now, send word to Mr. Rider, and have the Dragon Vice brought in here," Bluejay said and pushed Night Wind out of the chair. "Sorry it had to come to this, but you know how it is."
I honestly didn't, I had really hoped we could've ended this peacefully, but at least maybe now the Omaretas would be willing to deal with the Project. I had a sudden sinking feeling in my stomach though, like I had done exactly what Bluejay had wanted me to do.
"The Omaretas is under new leadership now," Bluejay said with a calm smile. "But do not worry, the threat of the Project won't last much longer."
Why did that just fill me with a feeling of dread?
"Ma'am, here you are," the guard from before said as he came in with Vice.
"Good, now you're probably wondering why I called you here, Vice," Bluejay said, I looked the dragon up and down.
He reminded me a little of Spike, but he was older, probably an early teenager in dragon years. At least that was my guess, I wasn't an expert on dragons of course, and I never pretended to be.
"Well, you're in charge of the Omaretas now, so probably you want me to do some degrading task for you," Vice said, not skipping a beat. "So, what is it, dance for you and your friend there? Or maybe something else?"
"Actually, I'm here because of a deal that Rain here has made with me," Bluejay said casually. "Effective immediately, I'm transferring the debt to her, she will do with you whatever she wishes."
"I understand," Vice said with a slight bow.
"Well, unless you have something else, begone from my presence, I have a casino to run," Bluejay said and lit another cigarette as we headed back outside, making a quick stop to pick up my gear, and then out of the Casino.
Vice covered his eyes from the sunlight when we exited the Tartarus Gate before looking back at me.
"So what are you going to do with me?" He asked.
"I'm going to take you to the Countess," I said, which caught him off guard. "And from there you can consider yourself free to do whatever you want."
"You really mean it?" He asked and I nodded. "Wow, I thought you were another one of those gangster Ponies, you're alright."
"Well, I try, my name is Rain Runner by the way," I said.
"Well, my full name is Viceroy, but everyone just calls me Vice," Vice said with a nod.
We headed back to the sky carriages and were about to get on one when two of the robots moved in front of me.
"Pony Rain Runner, your presence is requested in the Lucky Horseshoe," one of them said. "You will comply."
"Uh-oh, sounds like Mr. Rider wants to talk to you," Vice said. "You might want to listen to them, I'll meet back up with you with whatever the Countess promised you."
"Okay, thanks," I said before turning back to the robots. "Okay then, I guess take me to Mr. Rider."
The robots took me to the largest building I had seen yet, it was a towering casino, but it was empty. I was directed into an elevator, which I took to the top floor.
When I reached the top floor, I wasn't sure what to expect, there was some more robots, but there was nopony around.
"Mr. Rider?" I called out, not sure what to expect at this point.
"Come into the next room," a voice called out, it sounded strange, almost like it was being distorted somehow.
I entered the next room where I found myself facing what looked at first like a terminal, but had several screens. I could see images of things like the interior of the Tartarus Gate, and other places that I presumed were more locations around New Pegasus.
"Okay, this isn't funny, you called me here, where are you?" I called out, trying not to sound nervous as I did.
"Why, I'm right here," a voice said, I turned to look at the computer again, I saw a new image appear. This one was of a Pony, a Pegasus Pony by the looks of his extended wings, he was colored green like the screen, but he looked old, and was wearing some sort of flight jacket.
"You must be Mr. Rider," I said, trying to sound casual.
"You're correct, but your mother knew me by another name," Mr. Rider said. "You might want to search your memory if you can't remember."
Nopony was jumping to mind right away, he was wearing a flight jacket, so maybe he was a Wonderbolt? Okay, Stallions in the Wonderbolts, he was too old to be Soarin or any of the others, who could he be...
That's when it hit me like a ton of bricks, I knew exactly who this Pony was, I narrowed my eyes at the screen. This was the one member of the Wonderbolts, or should I say former member of the Wonderbolts, that mom had ever spoken against.
"Hello, Wind Rider," I said with contempt seeping into my voice.
Wind Rider, the disgraced Wonderbolt who had tried to get mom in trouble for a crime she didn't commit. The one Pony in Equestria I really, really hoped that I would never run into.
"Well, I see Rainbow Dash didn't teach you any manners," Wind Rider said, his mouth wasn't moving, he was a fixed image on the screen, but it was him. "I shouldn't have expected any different."
"How the heck are you still alive?" I demanded. "And how are you talking to me through this, thing?"
"This is a Crusader Maneframe, modified for my own purposes of course," Wind Rider said. "As for how I'm still alive, I should remind you that you're still alive even though you were conceived by Project Legacy 210 years ago."
"Yeah but I was in..." I started to say, then I realized what he meant, he had gotten the magical stasis technology and was controlling the computer from there. "So what, you worked for Stable-tec? Are you the pony behind Project Legacy?"
"Nothing so dramatic, after your mother disgraced me, I returned home to Las Pegasus," he said simply. "I tried to reach out to her once of course, but she wanted nothing to do with me. So when the war started, I made my own company, RoPony Corperation, we worked with Stable-Tec to build the Stables and gave Equestria many of its technological advances."
"What do you want, a medal?" I snapped at him. "So what, you saved Las Pegasus, but you didn't think to do the same for the rest of Equestria?"
"You think I didn't want to? I watched the land I loved burn, but I did what I had to do to save my city," Wind Rider said. "And now you've come here, just like your mother, threatening to ruin everything I've worked so hard to do."
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
"I know you were there when Night Wind was killed," Wind Rider said. "I care little for the squabbles of the Three Families, but you interfered where you didn't need to."
"I needed information, it was the only way to get it," I said. "And you're one to talk, my mom told me everything about you. You're nothing more than a criminal, you tried to frame her just because she was a better flier than you!"
"Your mother destroyed my life!" Wind Rider retorted. "Everything I've done since then is to rebuild it. New Pegasus is my city, you hear me, MY CITY! I won't let anypony, especially one with the blood of that accursed Pony take it away from me!"
I backed up, had I gone too far? I swear I could almost hear him breathing hard wherever he was.
"I don't want to take your city away from you," I finally said. "I'm here to find the other Ponies created by Project Legacy. I came here following a lead."
"I see," Wind Rider said. "Fine, if that's all you want, you can see yourself out, but I'll be watching you, daughter of Rainbow Dash." The middle screen on the Crusader Maneframe shut off and I was left all alone in the room. I had a lot to think about right now, I couldn't believe that Wind Rider was still alive, and that he was running New Pegasus.
Maybe I hadn't made the right decision when I helped Bluejay after all, but at this point I had no choice but to live with it. Something about this city felt, wrong to me, it was like the city had lost its soul.
I hoped to Celestia that I wouldn't suffer the same fate as I headed to the elevator and took it down.
"Oh hey, you're still alive," Vice said as I stepped out of the Lucky Horseshoe, he was waiting on the front steps.
"Did you think he was going to kill me?" I asked, suddenly verry worried.
"You never know with Mr. Rider," Vice said with a shrug. "Sometimes they get killed, sometimes they don't, I'm glad you were the latter."
"Clearly it was because of my charming personality," I said half jokingly, getting a chuckle out of the dragon. "So what's the word from the Countess?"
"She says the Pony you're after is in the Double Diamond Casino's Aces lounge," Vice said with a nod. "Its the one run by the Chairponies, so its just down the Strip from here."
"Can't be much worse than the Tartarus Gate," I said, I couldn't catch a break here could I? It was like New Pegasus was trying to get me addicted to gambling. "You don't have to come with me anymore, Vice, you're free to go."
"Maybe I'll come anyway," Vice said with a shrug. "Its not like I have much to do these days, if you don't mind of course."
I looked the small black and red dragon over for a long moment, I had done a lot of work to get him freed from the Omaretas. What would it hurt to bring him along?
"Sure," I said with a smile. "So how do I get to the Double Diamond from here?"
"Come on, this way," Vice said as he lead me farther down the strip until we stopped in front of another casino.
The Double Diamond was designed differently from the Tartarus Gate, it was a towering structure built into the mountainside with four doors along a circular entranceway. I opened the door and we entered.
"So how long have you been in New Pegasus?" I asked Vice after dropping off my weapons again, this time keeping the small pistol that Bluejay had given me hidden.
"Ever since I hatched," Vice answered. "That was... 30 years ago now. Take those stairs up to the Aces Theater."
"I see," I said as we walked towards the stairway.
"Of course up until New Pegasus became open to the Wasteland, I was pretty much stuck here," Vice continued. "I still remember all the times the Enclave tried to take the city."
"They were that bad huh?" I asked.
"Yeah, the Wasteland is better off without the Enclave," Vice said. "They tried to come back you know, about 8 years ago up in the Crystal Wasteland."
"No, I didn't know that, what happened?" I asked, genuinely curious.
"They got their flanks kicked is what happened," Vice said with a grin. "Trust me, the Enclave is long gone by this point."
"Well, that's good," I said with a smile, I hoped he was right at least, I didn't like what I had heard about the Enclave.
"Can I ask you something?" Vice asked, I gave him a nod. "Why do you look like Rainbow Dash?"
"Yeah, I'm gonna get that question a lot aren't I?" I groaned. "Its a long story, I'll tell you later, I promise."
"You better," Vice said with a grin as we reached the top of the stairs, there was the door in question. "Come on, lets go see your friend." I paused a little at that, friend? Was that the right word? I had never actually met Crystal or any of the other Ponies, they hadn't been in the simulation at all. What would I tell her?
"Are you okay, Rain?" Vice asked.
"Yeah, I'm okay, lets do this," I said, standing up straight, I was going to tell her the truth, it was at least worth a try.
I opened the door and walked inside.
Inside the theater there was a stage with the same logo for the Aces that was over the door. There wasn't a show going on at the moment. Vice and I were seated at a table close to the stage.
"Can I get either of you something to drink?" The waitress asked.
"Uh yeah, get me an Opal Orange," I said, I needed to stay sober for this at least.
"And get me a Sparkle Cola," Vice said, the waitress nodded and left our table. "The Countess said Crystal works here, she should be around here somewhere..."
"Yeah, lets hope at least," I said, I was really hoping tonight wasn't her night off or something.
"Don't worry Rain, she'll be here," Vice said with a reassuring smile. "Why are you looking for her anyway?"
"Its a long story, its part of the thing about why I look like Rainbow Dash, I'll explain when we're done here," I said, that seemed to satisfy Vice. The waitress came back and set the ordered drinks in front of us and took our caps for them. I scanned the room, it had a lot of ponies in it, but none of them in particular jumped out at me as being Crystal.
"Maybe we should..." I started to say when I was cut off by a voice coming over a loudspeaker.
"Fillies and gentlecolts, please put your hooves together for the musical stylings of the beautiful, Crystal Belle!" The voice said and the curtains opened up.
Out stepped the most beautiful Unicorn mare I had ever seen, her coat was a pure white color while her mane and tail were red and she wore an elegant golden dress. Her mane was tied into a braid while her tail was longer and poofier, she levitated a microphone over to herself.
"Hey everypony, here's a, personal favorite of mine," she purred in a silky voice that just dripped with sensuousness, is that even a word? I don't care, this mare was beautiful!
"I'm gonna take a trip to Pegasus With my two favourite friends I got my point-four-four and bullets galore And caps a-plenty to spend
I got the journeyer blues And a real short fuse It's a hell of a message I send."
I was so entranced that it took me a minute to realize that this was the mare we were looking for.
"I broke every casino Fillytown to Primm to Reino Won't stop until I get my prize."
I tuned out the rest of the song, I knew that once she was done I had to go talk to her. I took a long swig of my Opal Orange and looked at Vice who just shot me a grin.
"Somepony's got a crush," he said with a grin.
"I do not!" I protested, trying to ignore the dragon.
Once Crystal finished her song, to the applause of the Ponies in the theater, I got to my hooves and followed her backstage with Vice. I just hoped that we wouldn't get immediately thrown out.
"Miss Belle doesn't want to be bothered by anypony," a burly Earth Pony that looked like he could've given Bic Mac a run for his money growled. "Especially from fanponies."
"Listen, I'm telling you, I'm not a fanpony, I need to see her about Stable 112," I said, I had been stopped pretty much short of my goal in front of Crystal's dressing room.
"And I told you, Miss. Bell don't know nothing about Stable 112," the Earth Pony said. "You better come up with a better reason for wanting to talk to her."
I sighed and backed up to talk to Vice. "What should we do? Its not like we can fight him, we'll attract too much attention if we do."
"You have a lot to learn about life in New Pegasus," Vice said, rolling his eyes. "I'll talk to him."
"Fine, good luck," I told him and Vice went forward to talk to the Earth Pony.
"My good stallion, my associate is an, old friend of Crystal's, she's come a long way to see her, and I'd hate to see her dissapointed," Vice said, holding out a claw, the Earth Pony glanced at it and took something from it.
"Fine, I'll tell Miss. Belle that you're here about Stable 112, if she wants to talk to you, that's her buisness," the Earth Pony said and went inside.
"How'd you do that?" I asked Vice as I moved up to him.
"I, shall we say, gave him a monetary incentive," Vice said with a grin.
"You bribed him?" I asked, dumbfounded.
"You really do have a lot to learn don't you?" Vice chuckled as the Earth Pony came back out.
"Miss. Belle will see you now," he said and gestured for us to go in.
Once inside I saw Crystal seated in a chair, her mane still braided, but she had put the dress away, showing off a single gemstone as her cutie mark.
"So, you're here to talk to me about Stable 112?" She asked, looking me over.
"Yeah, and about Project Legacy," I added. "My name is Rain Runner, I heard from Maresprings that you left the Stable too."
"Yes, well, that is true," Crystal said. "You must be Rainbow Dash's daughter then, I should've guessed when I saw that manestyle."
"And you're, Rarity's daughter aren't you?" I asked, getting a nod. "Well then, I'm here to collect you, I'm trying to get together all six of us."
"Well, good luck to you, but I'm afraid I can't go with you," Crystal said. "Even if I wanted to, I'm in gambling debt to the Chairponies. I work here to pay it off, I'm not going anywhere for awhile."
Great, that was just great...
LEVEL UP! Perk Received: Tolerance Description: You have developed a slight tolerance for drugs. You have less of a chance of getting addicted to substances.
"Success depends on forethought, dispassionate calculation of probabilities, accounting for every stray variable." -Robert House.
"Hey New Pegasus, this is your good friend Windtalker. It seems there's been a bit of a coup in the halls of the Tartarus Gate Casino, with long time Omaretas head Night Wind being usurped by a mare by the name of Bluejay. There are some rumors that there was an outside influence that lead to this sudden change, but the new leadership of the Omaretas won't comment at this time."
"So what are we going to do now?" Vice asked as we left the Casino, honestly I wasn't sure how to answer that question right away.
"Its getting late," I replied, looking up at the sky where Celestia's sun was starting to set. "I think we should find a place to stay for the night, do you have any suggestions?"
"How about Stable 21?" Vice suggested. "Its just up the strip and it has the best rates in town per night."
"That works," I said with a nod, Vice knew New Pegasus a lot better than I did anyway, so he probably knew where to go. "Lead the way."
He nodded and we started walking down the Strip. We went past another Casino, this one was made up of a towering building with the words "Crystal Palace" over the entrance. Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect from this city, I had only been here a day, but things had been pretty quiet.
"Do you know anything about Mr. Rider?" I asked, I had to admit I was curious because of what I knew about him from mom.
"Honestly, not much," Vice admits. "He's run New Pegasus since the end of the war, but nopony has ever actually seen him leave the Lucky Horseshoe. He's kind of an enigma really, I've wondered about him a lot. What was he like when you met him?"
"Arrogant, self centered, obsessed with keeping the city under his control," I said. "I think he considers me a threat because of my mom."
"Your Mom?" Vice asked confused.
"Before the war, my mother and Mr. Rider, or Wind Rider as he's known, crossed paths while she was in the Wonderbolt Academy. Mom was threatening to break his speed records so he tried to frame her so she'd get kicked out of the program. Thankfully mom had help from Rarity who exposed the truth and Wind Rider was thrown out, I guess he's afraid I'll take the city over or something."
"Well, are you going to?" Vice asked.
"No way, I couldn't run a city," I said indignantly. "Come on, lets get to Stable 21."
He nodded and it didn't take long to find it, there was a sign that had the gear like symbol on it with the words Stable 21 on it.
We checked into the Stable and were directed downstairs. I looked around and honestly I wasn't really sure what to make of this place, I had only been in Stable 112 before, and that wasn't for very long, but this one was inhabited with ponies around it and various gaming tables and other devices.
"Interesting design," I commented as we turned down a hallway into one of the corridors where our room was.
"Yeah, the experiment here was to build a society based on games of chance, not really sure how that worked," Vice admitted as we opened the door to our room.
"Experiments?" I asked, I wasn't sure what he was talking about, what experiments?
"Oh, you don't know?" Vice asked. "Most of the Stables were set up by Stable-tec with social experiments. There are a few control Stables, I think 112 was supposed to be one, but I don't know. Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle started some pretty messed up experiments from what I've heard."
"Wait, the Cutie Mark Crusaders made the Stables?" I asked, I had heard Sweetie Belle's name mentioned in the audio on Project Legacy, but all three of them building the Stables?
"They did try to save Ponies with them," Vice added. "It just, didn't always work out... are you okay Rain?"
"Its just, weird," I said brushing my mane back. "I knew the CMC back in the simulation, I have a hard time believing it. Heck, Scootaloo was like an aunt to me..."
"Rain, they're not the Ponies you knew," Vice said as he shook his head. "The war pushed a lot of Ponies to doing desperate things, including them. I know its a lot to swallow, but they did try to do the best they could do."
I nodded in understanding as I slipped off my Stable barding and laid down on the bed, stretching out as I did. "Good night Vice," I said as I pulled the blankets over me.
"Good night Rain," he said as he laid down in his own bed.
After a long moment I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep. As I did my thoughts went to the beautiful mare I had seen in the Aces lounge.
"I'm gonna take a trip to Pegasus Goin' huntin' down on the strip I got a bet to make on a real big stake I'm throwin' down my platinum chip.
So if I cross your trail Better turn your tail Boy you ain't gonna give me the slip."
I blinked and looked up at the stage to see Crystal singing again in the lounge, but this time it was just me in the audience. She smiles at me as she finishes the song and trots forward towards me.
"Did you enjoy that?" She purred as she looked at me with a smile, I felt a blush creeping onto my face as she ran a hoof along my front slowly.
"I did," I said with a nervous smile. "You have an amazing singing voice."
"Thank you," she said with a smile as she nibbled at my ear a little. "You're quite the beautiful mare, you know that Rain?"
"Uh, thanks," I said, blushing more at the attention I was getting from her. "But I didn't think you thought of me like that."
She smiles at that as she pushes me back in my seat. "You never know until you ask my dear, but you have to be able to get me free before you can do this for real."
I blushed heavily as she kissed me on the lips, this was a dream, but honestly I didn't care. Right now I just wanted to enjoy the moment as I wrapped my wings around Crystal.
This was a wonderful dream.
I woke up the next morning to find myself back in the room in Stable 21. I had never felt so dissapointed to wake up alone in bed in my life, maybe I really was falling in love with Crystal Belle...
"Well, I think somepony slept well," Vice said with a smirk as he looked over at me. "Dreaming about Crystal?"
"How'd you know?" I asked as a blush creeped onto my face as I remembered the dream I had the night before.
"You sometimes talk in your sleep," Vice said with a chuckle. "Talk, moan, cry out... I hope these walls are soundproof."
"Lets, just go see if we can figure out how to get Crystal Belle out of debt with the Chairponies," I said with a blush as I got out of bed. "Do you have any ideas?"
"Well, you could see if you could go talk to Lucky," Vice suggested. "He's the pony in charge of the Double Diamond, if he'll listen he might be able to at least make you an offer."
"Its worth a try," I said as I started preening my wings. "And then we have to find the other 4, which won't be easy at all."
"Why do you want to find the others anyway?" Vice asked.
"We were apparently made to help Ponies, and honestly Equestria needs a lot of help from what I've seen," I said. "If anypony can help Equestria, its us, at least I hope so."
"Well, that's as good a reason as any," Vice said as we got up and headed out of the room.
So that's how we found ourselves in the lobby of the Double Diamond Casino for the second time in as many days. As we looked around we saw Crystal Belle dressed in a tiny dress serving drinks.
"Can I get you two..." the Unicorn said and her eyes went wide when she saw us. "What are you two doing here?"
"We're here to help you," Vice said. "You're never going to get out of debt with the Chairponies at this rate."
"If you can tell us where to find Lucky, we'll make sure that we get it done," I said. "Please Crystal, we just want to help."
"You're asking for trouble if you want to try and deal with Lucky," Crystal said and shook her head. "I know you want to help, but he's trouble, he might kill you, or worse you'll wind up like me."
I paused a little, I didn't have any real loyalty to Crystal, but I wanted to help her none the less. Still, I knew I had to do the right thing, and that meant helping Crystal.
"I insist, we want to help you," I said with a smile, Crystal took a deep breath.
"Okay Rain, I'll tell you where he is," she says and nods back towards the end of the room. "He's back there with his cronies."
"Thank you," I said and we headed into the back, there were a few ponies dressed in suits, the leader had two mares in skimpy outfits draped over him with a fedora on and a suit as he looked over at me. "Uh, Lucky right? I'm here to talk to you about a mare."
"Look kid, if you're looking for a mare to share your bed with you might want to talk to the Omaretas, that's more their thing," Lucky said.
"What? No, I'm here about Crystal Belle," I replied as I blushed heavily. "I want to talk to you about clearing away her debt."
"I see," Lucky said as he lit a cigar. "That Unicorn is the biggest draw of my casino, why should I just let her go like that? What could you possibly offer me in return?"
I honestly wasn't sure how to answer that question, I hadn't really given it much thought. There had to be something I could offer him, but what could I?
"What do you want in return?" I asked. "There has to be something you'd like."
Lucky took a long puff on his cigar as he thought on it, he put out the cigar before leaning back. "There is one thing, the only thing worth that much of debt, but its a tall order, are you up for it kid?"
"Alright, tell me what it is," I said. "I need her to.. .err..."
"You've got it bad huh?" He said with a smirk. "Alright kid, here's the deal. In the Lucky Horseshoe's basement there's a computer system that runs through it, its how Mr. Rider regulates everything see? If you can hack into that system and give me access to it, I'll let your little marefriend go."
"She's not my..." I tried to protest but the blush on my face told a different story. "Alright, I'll do it."
I just hoped I wasn't making a big mistake.
"Are you crazy?" Vice asked. "You only got into the Lucky Horseshoe last time because Wind Rider wanted to talk to you, I don't think he'll just let you in easily."
He had a point, honestly I had no idea how I was going to get into the Lucky Horseshoe, its not like it was open to the public or something. Normally I'd have gone for a flight in order to clear my head, but that was pretty much out of the question with my wings still out of commission. I put the device that Lucky had given me in my bag to get ready.
I wondered if this was how Aunt Scootaloo felt, she had been grounded her whole life, though I wasn't sure if it was a magical problem.
"Honestly I don't know," I admitted. "He didn't give me any sort of deadline though, so I might be able to at least think it through a bit first. In the meantime, do you know of any Pegasi doctors here in New Pegasus?"
"Why do you... oh your wings," Vice said with a shrug. "Well, lets see, there's Saffron, she's not too far, why don't you see if she'll see you today?"
I nodded and Vice lead me towards one of the nearby buildings.
We walked into the building as we went past a poster of Fluttershy that advertised something called the Ministry of Peace. When we came inside there was a bell ringing and a Pegasus mare trotted into the room, she was a rust colored mare with a dark red mane.
"What can I do for..." She started to say before she looked up at us and she stared in shock at the sight of me.
"This is getting really old..." I said with a groan. "Yes, I know I look like Rainbow Dash, its a really long story, I just need you to look at my wings is all."
"Figures, of all the ponies to walk in here," the mare said with a groan. "Are you sure there isn't another Doctor you could ask?"
"What's wrong?" Vice asked as he looked at the mare confused.
"My family has, history with her's," the doctor said. "My ancestor was Lightning Dust."
Oh, great another pony with a history with my mother, it felt like this was going to be happening a lot. Lightning Dust, I didn't remember much about her other than that she was a Pony who was a lot like mom, but had been a lot more reckless. Honestly I hadn't expected her to have a descendant in New Pegasus.
"There's not much point to denying it, my mother is, was Rainbow Dash," I said with a sigh, which got a look from the mare. "Its a really long story, but... I just need somepony to look at my wings, I can find somepony else."
"I'll, take a look at them," she said after a moment. "I'm a doctor, I shouldn't let that kind of thing get in my way."
I nodded and she gestured to a bed for me to sit on and I sat on it while Vice moved to the back to wait.
"So, exactly what's the problem?" She asked as she ran a device over my wings slowly. "Your wings look pretty normal to me."
"Its complicated," I said. "I spent years in magical stasis, since I left it I haven't been able to fly at all."
"Huh, I remember hearing Crystal Belle had a similar problem," she said and shrugged. "Really if that's the case there's nothing I can do for you, you'll just have to wait until they decide to start working again."
She took out a small device and checked my wings over just to be safe and shook her head. "Yeah, It looks like your magic is slowly returning, but its too early to tell."
"Well thanks anyway doc," I said and got to my hooves and paid her.
She nodded and I headed back outside with Vice, honestly that hadn't given me too many ideas, but I might have a plan.
I looked up at the towering Lucky Horseshoe casino and took a deep breath as I trotted towards it.
"I'm guessing flying through a window is out of the question," I commented and Vice shook his head.
"The Securitrons would just shoot you down," Vice said. "Trust me, ponies have tried that one before. Well, maybe you can still get in, it depends on whether or not your authorization was removed."
I nodded and trotted up to the front door and tried not to look nervous at the pair of Securitrons guarding it. "Uh, hi, I'd like to get into the Casino again."
"You are not authorized to enter," the first Securitron said. "State your business."
"Uh, we're here to, take a look at the computer systems in the Casino," I said, it wasn't exactly a lie, but it wasn't the whole truth either."
"Yeah, there's some connection problems with the other Casinos so we're here to make sure that everything is working okay," Vice added. "I don't think Mr. Rider would like it if he lost his terminal connections."
"We will send a message to Mr. Rider," the second Securitron said and they stopped for a moment to send a message to their boss, we waited for a few tense moments before getting an answer. "Very well, Mr. Rider says you can enter."
"Thank you," I said and trotted forward with Vice close behind before I whispered to him. "How'd you know that would work?"
"Its been a problem in New Pegasus for a few years," Vice whispered back. "I heard some of Lucky's goons talking about it earlier."
"Well, thanks again," I said with a smile. "You're really coming in handy."
"You're welcome," Vice said with a smile as the doors opened for us and we went into the Lucky Horseshoe.
"This is Windtalker here again with the news," the voice of Windtalker said over the radio as we started looking for the main terminal system. "There's reports of a new Pony in the city of New Pegasus who bears a striking resemblance to the infamous Rainbow Dash. Whether or not there is a connection with the ministry mare in charge of the Ministry of Awesome is unknown of course, but keep an eye out for her. There are a few more reports about the change of leadership in the Omaretas, it seems that Bluejay is claiming to have done it all on her own. Mr. Rider has yet to comment, but seeing as how the Securitrons aren't massing on the Tartarus Gate, it seems he doesn't care for the moment."
I stopped by one of the terminals and looked it over for a long moment. I wasn't quite sure what to do here, but I started working on it.
"So, why do you think Lucky wants access to Wind Rider's systems?" I asked as I started typing on the terminal. "Doesn't Lucky work for him as the head of one of the Three Families and all?"
"You know, I have no idea," Vice admitted. "Now that you mention it, it is kind of strange, but I'm sure whatever his reasons are they're good ones."
"Well, we'll just have to see I guess," I said as I kept working, it was password protected of course. "So, what's up with the third family? I haven't heard anything about them."
"Oh yeah, the Crystal Hoof Society," Vice said. "They usually keep to themselves except when you visit their Casino the Crystal Palace. Honestly I don't know a whole lot about them other than that they're made up of Unicorns."
"And the Chairponies are Earth Ponies right?" I asked, which got a nod from Vice. "So, that means each family is made up of one of the three main tribes, interesting."
"Yeah, are you any closer to getting this hacked?" Vice asked.
"I'm trying to figure out the... there we go," I said as I put the code in, figured really, it was HSALF, that was kind of a strange choice of passwords (was that even a word? It sounded, somehow familiar), but I wasn't going to complain. "Alright, lets see what we've got here." When the screen came up, several options appeared on the screen:
RESTORE CONNECTION TO NEW PEGASUS SYSTEMS WIND RIDER'S LOGS. REPROGRAM SECURITRONS.
I checked the Terminal and found a port to connect the device that Lucky had given to me. Before I did that though, I selected the option to Restore the connection.
"Well, I guess if we don't then it would be suspicious," Vice said with a nod as the terminal started to go through screens showing parts of New Pegasus as the connection was restored. "Wait, what's that one?"
I blinked a little as I saw the screen, it showed part of the Tartarus Gate with Bluejay talking to some ponies in strange outfits that I didn't recognize, they looked like uniforms of some sort. I was about to say something when the screen changed again.
"That was weird," I said with a shrug, but there wasn't really anything we could do, the screen finally read "CONNECTION RESTORED."
"Well, that wasn't too hard," I said as I took out the device and connected it into the slot, I just had to hope that this was going to work.
"Yeah, nothing can go wrong now," Vice said, he just had to say that didn't he?
"Do you always tempt fate this much?" I asked, Vice just shrugged as the device did its work on the terminal and the systems. "Lets just hope that it doesn't get..."
"Well, well, Rain Runner, you're starting to become quite the annoyance," the voice of Wind Rider echoed around us. "Who sent you this time, Lucky? Glory? General Gavin maybe?"
"We're just here to fix the computer systems," I said, trying to sound calm. "This is just a misunderstanding."
"I see, well its a shame but I have to deal with you, Securitrons, eliminate the intruder," Wind Rider said and the security robots rolled forward.
This really, really wasn't my day.
"Did you really think I'd just sit back and let you hack into my systems?" Wind Rider asked as I drew my pistol and prepared to fight the Securitrons. "I told you that this is my city and nopony will take it from me."
"Look, I'm not here to take your city away!" I protested. "I'm just trying to free a friend from her debt."
"What problem do you even have with Rain?" Vice asked.
"What problem? Her mother ruined my life!" Wind Rider said angrily. "I was one of the greatest fliers of my time, then her mother came and ruined everything!"
"You ruined your own life!" I countered. "You decided to break the law to get my mother in trouble, she had nothing to do with that. What do you even have against my mother anyway?"
There was a long pause from the stallion before he finally gave an answer.
"I will tell you everything, if you listen better than your mother did," he said coldly. "Come up to my penthouse and leave your weapon behind."
I gulped, I didn't like this, but I didn't have much of a choice as we headed for the elevator to go upstairs.
Once again I found myself looking at the computer screen that Wind Rider used to communicate with ponies. The still image looked at us coldly before he started to talk again.
"Of course you know part of my story already because of your mother," he said calmly. "But I'm sure you're not aware of the whole story." Does he like hearing himself talk or something? This wasn't going to be fun at all.
"I said I'd listen and I'll listen," I said. "Whether or not I'll like what you have to say is another matter entirely."
The image didn't change, I wondered if it was just a frozen image on the screen instead of a live feed, but I was probably overthinking it. I sat down and listened to Wind Rider start to talk, whatever he had to say at least would buy us some time while whatever Lucky was up to was carried out.
"Years before the war, before your mother was even born, I was a young colt that had come to hero worship a member of the Wonderbolts named Summer Breeze," he said. "She was the best of them all, and held many speed records. I was just a young colt living in Las Pegasus, but I set out to join the Wonderbolts."
Summer Breeze... Summer Breeze... that name didn't sound familiar at all. I thought I knew all of the names of the Wonderbolts, but that didn't ring a bell as a member of the Wonderbolts, but somehow it seemed familiar. Vice just shrugged a bit.
"What happened to Summer Breeze?" I asked, I was genuinely curious at this point.
"A month before she retired her records were broken by some hotshot newbie," he said with a tone of spite in his voice. "I did my best to help cheer her up, but she was never the same, she retired forgotten. I swore to make sure that the same thing would never happen to me."
"Which is why you tried to frame my mother," I said with a growl. "She was threatening to do the same thing to you."
"All we have in this world is what legacy we leave behind to future generations," Wind Rider said coldly. "That's why I rebuilt my home city, New Pegasus is the shining light of the Equestrian Wasteland, that is my legacy, one that nopony can take from me."
Great, this guy was a nut, but I needed to make sure that I got out of this without being shot by one of those Securitrons. Had he really done all of this to build up his own legacy? That made a disturbing amount of sense actually.
"Then your mother survived by pure chance because she had broken her wing on a mission with the other Ministry Mares, so she wasn't there when the other Wonderbolts were massacred," Wind Rider continued, that I didn't know.
"Your story is, interesting," I said as I tried to sound polite. "But I don't see why you think everything is mom's fault. You didn't have to frame her just to get back at her, you could've accepted what happened and moved on with your life. Legacy isn't about what you do, its about what impact you have on ponies and how you're remembered."
I could practically feel the glare Wind Rider was directing at me, even though his image didn't change.
"What would Summer Breeze think of you if she could see you today?" I added. "It sounds to me like she went out with more dignity than you ever did."
"She died!" Wind Rider snapped. "Years after retirement, she died in an accident with her husband and son... the only surviving member of her family was her granddaughter, and I don't even know what happened to her."
I swear, I felt like I heard this somewhere before, did I know somepony growing up with that backstory? I swear, this was going to drive me crazy if I didn't think of it, but there was little point in dwelling on it now.
"Look, there's not much I can do to help you with your, problem," I said with a groan. "I feel for you, I really do, but it still sounds to me like it wasn't mom's fault."
"Get out of my Casino!" Wind Rider said. "I don't want to see your face in here again, and if you cause any trouble in my City, my Securitrons will deal with you."
I gulped a little at that, and I headed out with Vice without another comment.
"Well, that went well..." Vice said sarcastically as we left the Lucky Horseshoe.
"Its not so bad, at least we got out of it alive," I said and glanced up at the towering casino for a long moment. "Though, I have to wonder why he made his home here, it seems a bit much."
"Who knows why he does anything," Vice said with a shrug. "He probably has some sort of reason."
I kinda wish I knew more about this city, this whole place felt strange, it was a truly alien place to me. I was having to improvise a lot, and Vice was going to be a lot of help since he was a lot more familiar with the city than I was.
"So, do you think that was enough for Lucky to do whatever he wanted done?" I asked, Vice just shrugged.
"We'll see I guess, I'm pretty sure it was," Vice said. "Just be careful, you don't want to stir up too much trouble around here."
"Hey, I'm not that bad, I'm sure we'll be fine," I said with a chuckle. "I'd rather avoid getting into trouble with the Secuiritrons anyway. Something about this city doesn't feel right, and I don't like it."
"Yeah, its, pretty much one of a kind, and not really in a good way," Vice said with a shake of his head. "Wind Rider keeps it alive, but it seems its more like for his own personal gain. What should we do?"
I paused for a long moment, there really wasn't much we could do at this point, New Pegasus had been around for a long time and there wasn't a lot we could do to change it. Right now I just wanted to get Crystal and the others together, if that was done then maybe we'd at least be able to figure something out.
No, we had to figure something out, Equestria needed healing and maybe we could work together to help it. After all, that was the original intention of Project Legacy wasn't it? We were going to help Equestria.
I just hoped that we could.
"Well, I guess we should get back to the Double Diamond then," Vice said. "And get your marefriend freed from the Chairponies."
Oh dear Celestia, he was never going to let me live that down was he?
"She's not my marefriend, at least not yet," I said with a blush on my face as we headed for the Double Diamond. "Do you think she'll go for me though?"
"I dunno, maybe," Vice said with a shrug. "I don't really know a lot about Pony relationships, especially those between two mares, but I say if you want give it a try."
I nodded, its not like I really had anything to lose by trying. But I'd worry about that later, for now I just wanted to make sure she was saved.
We entered the Aces lounge where a group of ponies were on the stage singing and dancing. I looked around before I spotted Lucky seated at a table with other members of the Chairponies, he looked up as we trotted over.
"Well, well, if it's not the pony in love with Crystal," Lucky said with a smirk. "So, I assume you got what I wanted you to."
"I did, but there was a bit of a complication," I said and explained what happened to him, I just had to hope that he was going to be reasonable. "I did my best, but Mr. Rider may know what I did, that could be a problem for you."
"No matter, he won't know who was behind it," Lucky said as he took out a cigar and lit it, offering one to me.
"No thanks," I said with a shake of my head. "So exactly why did you want access to the Lucky Horseshoe's computers?"
"In this town, the only thing more valuable than caps is information," Lucky said. "And that particular piece of information is more valuable than what you can currently offer me. I'm sure you understand."
I looked at Vice and he just shrugged, it felt like we were being jerked around a bit here, but there wasn't anything I could do about it. For now, I was just going to wait and find out later, I didn't really have much of a choice anyway.
"Besides, our access is currently uninterrupted, you did good kid," Lucky said with a chuckle. "I might have to give you a job if you keep this up."
"Really I just want you to keep your end of the deal," I said. "I got you access to Mr. Rider's systems, so you wipe away Crystal's debt. Or do you want me to bring you a girl while we're at it?"
Lucky chuckled a little at that before he nodded to one of his goons who trotted off before he looked at me again. "Never let it be said that I'm not a Stallion of my word."
We waited for a few minutes before Crystal came up to us, she looked at me for a long moment before looking back at Lucky.
"Crystal, it seems that your friend here has bought your freedom," Lucky said as he put out his cigar. "Consider yourself fortunate, ponies normally don't get a break like that from me."
"You really did it?" Crystal asked as she looked at me and I nodded. "Why?"
"It was the right thing to do," I said with a smile. "Besides, Equestria needs all the help it can get. We need to work together and find the others, its why they made us isn't it?"
"Well, I suppose so," Crystal says with a shrug.
"Besides, she has..." Vice started to say and was stopped when I covered his mouth with my wing.
"Don't listen to him, its just what I said before," I said quickly, I wasn't ready to tell Crystal I had a crush on her, at least not yet.
"Uh, okay, I just need to go and get my stuff out of my room," Crystal said and we headed for the elevator.
I blushed a little when I realized I was occasionally looking at her flank.
I looked around at the decor of the hallway in the Double Diamond Casino's upper levels, and I had to admit that it was pretty nice. While the paint and wallpaper was peeling in a few places, it was pretty nice as far as casinos went.
"So, you really think you can help Equestria huh?" Crystal called out from the bedroom area where she was packing her saddlebags.
"I do," I said as I examined the room curiously. "I think we all can if we can work together."
"Well, maybe," Crystal said. "But that's easier said than done, you're the only pony from Stable 112 I've met other than the ones in Maresprings. So basically you're going to have to start from square one."
"Yeah, I know," I said with a sigh, she was right of course and there wasn't really anything I could do about it. "I'm guessing we can't just stay here as a base of operations."
"Sorry Rain, but I only got this room as long as I was singing here," Crystal said as she trotted out of the room. She was now wearing saddlebags and a PipBuck that were colored white and purple with Rarity's three diamond cutie mark on them and a strange blocky gun in a holster with a similar design and color scheme. "So we'll have to find somewhere else."
"We'll manage," Vice said with a shrug. "The one good thing about New Pegasus is that there are plenty of places to stay."
"Well, there's always Stable 21 again," I said with a shrug and gave Crystal a nod. "Are you ready to go?"
Crystal took one more look around the room before she nodded. "Yeah, lets go," she said and we headed out the door.
"Shattered remains of once great cities These silent highways lead to halls of stone Every horizon sees it closer now I venture onwards into the unknown."
I couldn't help but smile as I listened to Crystal sing, her voice was amazing. It took me a moment to realize that she was singing the same song I had heard play on the radio, although the voice clearly wasn't the same.
"So why didn't you tell her that you're in love with her?" Vice asked me quietly. "It'll be obvious if she ever spots you staring at he flank."
"I don't stare at her flank that much..." I said blushing. "And I'll tell her when I'm ready, we just met, it would be kind of awkward to tell her now."
"If you say so, if I was you I'd just tell her," Vice said. "I mean with everything that's going on, isn't it better to just tell her?"
I paused a little at that as I tried to decide what to do, honestly I still wanted to wait before I told her. Besides, I didn't want to come across as some sort of weird fanpony when I was just trying to get all the ponies from Project Legacy together.
I took a deep breath, I was going to wait until the time was just right to tell her, for now I just wanted to enjoy her voice.
"So, Crystal, exactly how did you get into debt with the Chairponies?" I asked her as I trotted up to her.
"I have a bit of a gambling problem," she admitted rather sheepishly. "I took out some loans with the Chairponies and couldn't pay them back, so I wound up working for them as an entertainer and waitress."
She paused for a long moment, I honestly was trying to figure out what I thought of that. I suppose in a weird way it made sense, but I didn't really have a whole lot I could do about it, at least she was out of debt now.
"Thank you Rain, you really helped me out back there," Crystal said with a smile. "The way I see it, I owe you for that so I'll give you a hoof with your quest to find the others, wherever they are."
"You're welcome, and we're glad to have you along," I said and Vice nodded in agreement. "Is there anypony who might be able to help us find out what we need to know?"
"Well, you could try the Crystal Hoof Society," Crystal suggested. "They generally know a lot about that kind of thing, if you can get them to talk to us at least."
"Alright, that sounds like a plan," I said and made a note of it in my PipBuck, a marker came up on my EFS, it was starting to get late though, and my stomach growled. "Uh, anypony up for some dinner?"
Crystal laughed musically as we started walking down the strip again. It was nice to be able to relax after having gotten Crystal out of debt, we still had a long way to go, but it felt like we were finally making some real progress.
I didn't know what the future was going to hold for me tomorrow, but for now, we had a real chance to succeed at our mission. Crystal was just the first step, we'd find the other four soon.
At least I hoped so, we still had one heck of a mission ahead of us, but if we could help Equestria then it would be all worth it.
LEVEL UP! Perk Received: Underworld Negotiator. Details: You've shown skill in being able to negotiate with the seedier side of New Pegasus and its shadowy leader. You get a bonus to your Speech stat when interacting with certain ponies.