Cowboy Apocalypse (title undecided)

Nov 9th, 2018
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  1. >You pulled the thin scarf over your nose
  2. >As if it would help in this snow storm
  3. >You had to get inside
  4. >Any longer out here and the two of you would freeze to death
  5. >The wind howled loudly and the snow poured down so hard you could hardly see a foot in front of you
  6. >Every bit of exposed skin felt like someone driving a knife into your flesh
  7. >Thankfully, however, a beacon of hope appeared
  8. >A run down hunting cabin
  9. >It wouldn't do much to keep out the cold, being most of it's windows were broken and the wood rotting before your eyes
  10. >But it was an improvement over being outside
  11. >"Applejack! Come one! In here!"
  12. >You shivered, your teeth chattering so loud you could barely speak
  13. "Right, Rainbow!"
  14. >You both walked into the cabin and dropped to the floor instantly, panting hard
  15. >Rainbow leaned against the back wall
  16. >"We made it."
  17. "We did."
  18. >Rainbow unfurled the map
  19. >"Ok. If we continue down the course we're on we should reach the edge of the Foxtail mountains in a week."
  20. >You hugged yourself tightly
  21. "We've been here so long already. Another week feels like torture."
  22. >"We can do it. We can."
  23. >In your effort you hardly noticed a strange sound coming from one of the bedrooms
  24. >It was soft breathing
  25. >You hushed Rainbow and whispered
  26. "Hear that?"
  27. >Rainbow nodded, pulling her revolver from her satchel
  28. >You did the same, pulling the hammer back
  29. >Dash aimed directly at the door while you took the side
  30. >You gently pushed to door open and tip toed into the room
  31. >To both of your surprise, it was two little girls
  32. >One with long bacon hair, the other with blue hair slightly parted
  33. >Both looked to be no older than eight
  34. >You put your gun down
  35. "We have to help them."
  36. >Rainbow glared
  37. >"Are you serious? We can't take on two more mouths to feed! We hardly have enough food between us!"
  38. "If we don't they'll die!"
  39. >"No way. We can't."
  40. "Well then you can go on alone. And take all the food with you. I'm not going to leave them to die."
  41. >Rainbow bit her lip and clenched her fists
  42. >"Damn you."
  43. >Rainbow stormed out of the room, leaving you with the two girls
  44. >Should you wake them?
  45. >You didn't want to startle them
  46. >People these days had a knack for defending themselves rather violently
  47. >One of the girls, the blue haired one, blinked open her eyes
  48. >"Sunset? Sunset we made it!"
  49. >She looked directly at you
  50. >"It's still so cold. Why won't the snow stop?"
  51. >You tilted your heard
  52. >She wasn't reacting to you at all
  53. >That's when you noticed her eyes
  54. >Her pupils were completely grey and had a vacant look about them
  55. >Poor girl was blind as a bat
  56. >She stiffened suddenly
  57. >"There's someone else here. Two people. W-who's there?"
  58. >Damn it
  59. >Guess it was true what they said about blind people having better senses
  60. "Don't worry. We mean you no harm."
  61. >The girl flew into a panic and began shaking the one she called Sunset
  62. >"Sunset! Sunset! There are other people here! Wake up!"
  63. "Shhh. Easy. I'm not here to hurt you."
  64. >Sunset woke up and with surprising speed, pulled out a knife
  65. >"Stay back! I won't let you hurt her."
  66. >You sat on the floor and pushed the gun to the other side of the room
  67. "I'm harmless."
  68. >The two didn't know what to make of it
  69. "You can check my other pockets if you don't believe me. I have no other weapons on me."
  70. >Sunset cautiously moved toward you, checking each of your pockets
  71. "What are you girls doing out here alone?"
  72. >The blue haired one sniffled
  73. >"W-we...We got lost. A-and..."
  74. >She started to cry
  75. >"When we were walking through the storm I hit my head and I can't see anymore."
  76. >Sunset looked down
  77. >You reached out and got a can of peaches
  78. "Here."
  79. >Sunset practically pounced on it, eating greedily
  80. "Hey there. Share with... what's her name?"
  81. >"Trixie."
  82. "Trixie. Each of you get half the can. When was the last you two ate."
  83. >Trixie wiped the tears from her eyes
  84. >"Four days ago."
  85. >Sunset practically inhaled the first half of the can before passing it off to Trixie
  86. >Trixie, too, wolfed it down
  87. "You should join us. Me and my friend Rainbow are headed to this place called Paradis. It's supposed to be a safe haven."
  88. >Sunset glared
  89. >"Why should we trust you?"
  90. "I suppose you'll have to just take me at my word."
  91. >Trixie slow waded over to you before falling flat on her face and sobbing
  92. >Your maternal instincts kicked in and you rushed over to her
  93. "Shhh. There there."
  94. >You hugged her tight in your arms
  95. "It's ok. Just breathe. I've got you."
  96. >You turned to see Sunset with almost a look of longing on her face
  97. "Want to join? There's room for one more."
  98. >As much as Sunny tried, she couldn't resist
  99. >She rushed over and joined the embrace, crying as well
  100. >"I'm scared."
  101. "I know you are. And you two have both been so brave. Just come with us. We'll keep you safe ok?"
  102. >"You promise?"
  103. "Course I do, sugar cube."
  104. >Trixie wiped the tears from her eyes
  105. >"What's your name lady?"
  106. "Mine is Applejack. Rainbow, my friend, is in the other room."
  107. >Trixie gave a positively heart melting smile
  108. >"Nice to meet you Applejack!"
  109. "It's nice to meet you too Trixie. If you'll excuse me for a moment. Both of you be good girls and wait in this room ok?"
  110. >"Ok."
  111. >You got up and walked into the other room
  112. >Rainbow was sat against the wall, arms crossed and scowling
  113. >"What are we going to do? How are we supposed to feed too more mouths?"
  114. "Easy. We hunt"
  115. >"Easy? I don't know if you noticed the raging blizzard outside. The only animals out there are going to be hibernating, dead, or wanting to kill us"
  116. "You get a fire going. I'll track us down something"
  117. >Rainbow hit the wall
  118. >"This is a bad idea! I'm telling you!"
  119. "Well the leave Rainbow Dash"
  120. >You walked out the door with your trusty revolver
  121. >The cold hit you like a slap to the face
  122. >Thankfully your old man had taught you quite a bit about hunting
  123. >When the world hadn't gone to hell in a hand basket
  124. >That was so many years ago you can scarcely remember it
  125. >You began to walk around searching for tracks
  126. >It didn't take long to find some
  127. >They looked to be doe tracks
  128. >Perfect
  129. >You waded through the snow
  130. >Just your luck too
  131. >The wind was blowing against you, perfectly masking your scent
  132. >You waded as quietly as you could for about fifteen minutes before finally seeing it
  133. >A pretty little thing, sitting at the edge of a frozen lake
  134. >You pulled out your revolver and pressed the hammer back
  135. >This was the tricky bit
  136. >You tip toed quietly towards the doe until you had a good shot
  137. >You aimed and fired
  138. >Today was your lucky day
  139. >The shot scored right through the temple
  140. >Thing was dead before it knew what hit it
  141. >You ran through the snow, picked it up and slung it over your shoulder
  142. >Damn it was heavy
  143. >Thankfully, the snow hadn't brushed away your tracks
  144. >The blizzard was coming down thick you'd have lost your way otherwise
  145. >You made your way back to the cabin
  146. >Rainbow thankfully had gotten the fire started
  147. >You walked inside and lay the doe down, beginning the skin it
  148. >"Have fun out there?"
  149. "Not particularly."
  150. >You drove the knife into it's chest and started cutting, being sure not to hit any of the meat
  151. >It didn't take too long before the meat was ready to cook
  152. >You got rid of the useless parts outside, being sure to bury them on the off chance any wolves got curious
  153. >Putting it on a stick and resting it on a makeshift stand above the fire, it began to cook
  154. >You saw from the corner of your eye Trixie peaking from the door
  155. >"U-um... Miss Applejack?"
  156. "Whatareya doin peaking out like that? Come join us."
  157. >She smiled and began to run towards the fire
  158. >You hardly managed to jump up and stop her before she walked right into it
  159. >"Y'all need to be more careful. You nearly ran into the fire."
  160. "Sorry miss, Applejack."
  161. >Sunset trailed closely behind
  162. >"That smells so good."
  163. "It'll taste just as good. And there's plenty of meat here for the four of us."
  164. >After about 30 minutes of cookie the meat was perfect and they all began to eat
  165. >Sunset glanced at both you and Rainbow
  166. >"So where did you two come from?"
  167. "We used to be part of a band of outlaws called the white lilies. That was before the entire thing collapsed due to in fighting. We managed to escape before things got real bad."
  168. >Trixie hugged her self
  169. >"Y-you're not still bad like outlaws right?"
  170. "Course not sugar cube."
  171. >Rainbow still had yet to say a word
  172. >She just sat by the wall pouting
  173. "Come on Rainbow. Join us."
  174. >"Are you sure about this AJ?"
  175. "Positively. If you want, you won't even have to feed them. I'll provide everything they need."
  176. >"Fine. But I still don't like them."
  177. "Don't mind her girls. She's just grumpy."
  178. >The two of them giggled
  179. >"Oh shut up."
  180. >She pulled up by the fire and took some meat
  181. "So how old are you two?"
  182. >"I'm ten. Trixie is seven."
  183. "Do y'all know where ya came from?"
  184. >She shook her head
  185. "I supposed it doesn't matter. You're with us now. Right Rainbow?"
  186. >Rainbow just scoffed
  187. "She'll come around. I promise."
  188. >Dark began to fall but the wind didn't cease howling
  189. "Rainbow you keep watch. If you get to tired just wake me."
  190. >"Will do."
  191. "Alright girls. Bed time."
  192. >You reached into your pack and pulled out your blanket
  193. >Trixie pulled your pant leg
  194. >"Can I sleep next to you? I get scared at night."
  195. "Course you can. Want to join us Sunset?"
  196. >She rolled her eyes
  197. >"No."
  198. "Suit yourself."
  199. >You and Trixie went back into the bed room while Sunset took the couch
  200. >Trixie hugged you closely
  201. >"Sorry Sunset is like that. She gets really angry at new people."
  202. "Do you know why?"
  203. >She shook her head
  204. "Well that's ok. I'm sure she'll come around. She seems to care for you a lot."
  205. >She smiled
  206. >"Uh huh! She always makes sure I'm safe!"
  207. "That's good. That's really good."
  208. >You closed your eyes
  209. "Goodnight Trixie."
  210. >"Goodnight Miss Applejack."
  211. >You both closed your eyes and drifted off
  212. >You woke up to find an extra snuggle buddy in bed with you
  213. >While asleep, Sunset had crawled under the bed and was snoring softly behind you, hugging your back
  214. >You smiled
  215. >They were both so sweet
  216. >You snuggled with them for a while longer, savoring the warmth their two small bodies added to your own before both woke up
  217. >You walked out into the main room to see Dash asleep, head pressed against the window
  218. >You shook her a bit and she startled awake
  219. "Nice work lookout."
  220. >"Oh hush. Not like anyone would've followed us through that storm."
  221. "I was more worried about wolves. They're mean up in these parts."
  222. >"Well we're still safe aren't we?"
  223. "That we are."
  224. >You looked out the window
  225. >Finally the storm had cleared
  226. "Alright girls. We need to get going."
  227. >Trixie tilted her head
  228. >"We're not staying here?"
  229. "No. It's far to difficult to survive up in these parts."
  230. >Trixie glanced down as you picked up your pack
  231. "What's the matter?"
  232. >"Can I ride on your back?"
  233. "Why do you want to do something like that?"
  234. >"It's scary to walk. I don't want to fall again."
  235. >Your heart was far too weak for her sweetness
  236. >You couldn't resist
  237. "Hop on."
  238. >You moved your pack to your chest and hoisted Trixie behind you
  239. "Ready Sunset? Rainbow?"
  240. >Sunset stretched
  241. >"Ready."
  242. >Rainbow nodded
  243. >"Ready"
  244. >You set out back into the cold
  245. >Trixie gripped you tight
  246. >It didn't take her long to begin shivering again
  247. >Poor thing
  248. >And you all still had a weeks travel ahead of you
  249. >You couldn't wait to be over those mountains
  250. >According to the map was long flat plains and remnants of a few major cities
  251. >While those were packed with resources, they tended to be packed with dangerous people too
  252. >But anything beat this frozen shithole
  253. >As you walked on, it became more unnerving
  254. >Every so often you hear the sound of wolves howling
  255. >And every hour or so it got closer
  256. >By the fourth hour of travel, they could be hear practically feet away
  257. >Your heart beat quickened
  258. >They sounded so close yet you couldn't see them
  259. >Fifteen minutes later things were looking even worse
  260. >All around you, you could hear the sounds of soft feet racing about the snow
  261. >And panting
  262. >Trixie clutched you tightly
  263. >"Miss Applejack... I'm scared."
  264. >You reached for your revolver
  265. "It's ok. Sunset. Stay close to me."
  266. >Sunset did as she was told
  267. >You looked at Rainbow and nodded
  268. "Cover your ears girls. This is going to be loud."
  269. >They did so and Rainbow raised her revolver in the air, firing a single shot
  270. >The foot steps quickened
  271. >They were running off, scared by the gun shot
  272. >You knew however that wasn't going to last
  273. >They'd be back before long
  274. "Ok girls. You can unplug your ears now."
  275. >Trixie stammered
  276. >"Are they gone?"
  277. "Yes, they're gone. We're safe."
  278. >They hurried on through the snow
  279. >There had to be another place to take shelter for the night
  280. "Rainbow? Any settlements we can rest at?"
  281. >Rainbow pulled out her map
  282. >"Yes. There's a mining town about five miles west of where we are."
  283. "Perfect."
  284. >They made the way too the mining town
  285. >It was by far one of the better settlements they'd come across
  286. >The houses were in good condition and, thankfully, it was deserted
  287. >It even had some actual beds and windows without huge holes in them
  288. >You set Trixie down
  289. "Let's get you warm honey."
  290. >Sunset looked at you with jealousy
  291. >"I... I'm cold too."
  292. >You could tell beneath that veneer of strength and toughness, was a confused, scared little girl
  293. "Well come sit with us then. I'll get a fire going."
  294. >Rainbow came back in the door with a smile on her face
  295. >"We just got a huge score. Look."
  296. >She let down a big basket
  297. >Inside was a bunch of ammo and two rifles
  298. "Excellent. I was on my last six bullets. Find any food?"
  299. >"None we can eat unfortunately. Though I did find this."
  300. >She reached in her pocket and pulled out a lighter
  301. >"Full gasoline too."
  302. "We'll have to search the rest of this place for sure. Seems full of goodies."
  303. >"You're telling me."
  304. >They gathered some timber and lit up a fire
  305. >Trixie looked up at you
  306. >"What was living with outlaws like miss Applejack?"
  307. >You giggled
  308. "You want to hear some stories?"
  309. >She nodded
  310. >"Which story should we tell 'em Rainbow?"
  311. "What about that time Blossom cried during the score?"
  312. >You laughed
  313. "I nearly forgot about that one."
  314. >Just as you were about to tell the story a gunshot was heard
  315. >It was close
  316. >The person who discharged the shot couldn't have been more than 10-15 feet from your position
  317. >"Hey Applejack? Rainbow Dash? Though we'd forgotten about you eh?"
  318. >Both you and Rainbow's eyes locked in an "oh fuck" expression
  319. >The voice continued
  320. >"The white lilies are under new management and well... let's just say we really care for any two bit, back stabbing, deserters like yourselves."
  321. >Another few shots were fired
  322. >You whispered to Sunset and Trixie
  323. "Stay quiet."
  324. >You got up next to the door and cocked your pistol, leaving the rifle to the side
  325. >Rainbow followed suit
  326. >"Not coming out are we? Well that's ok. I'm more a fan of the hunt anyway. Be no fun if you just gave yourselves up."
  327. >You looked to Rainbow
  328. "What do we do?"
  329. >"I don't know. I don't know. Just. Let me think."
  330. >"GET 'EM GIRLS!"
  331. >In seconds hundreds of shots were fired, a couple breaking right through the window
  332. >Trixie began to cry
  333. >Sunset managed to put her hand over her mouth just before it became to loud
  334. >"Boss! The footsteps lead in here!"
  335. >Rainbow made for the door
  336. "Rainbow no!"
  337. >She burst through the door firing a few rounds, scouring a shot in one of the gang member's shoulders before ducking behind more cover
  338. >"Well, well, well. One of the rats emerges."
  339. >"Been a while Rarity. Oh should I say, mistress."
  340. >"Yes Rainbow. It's been some time."
  341. >"You always was a heartless bitch."
  342. >"And you always was a dumb inbred idiot."
  343. >Rainbow began to pant
  344. >She was far more out numbered than she realized
  345. >It was 10:1
  346. >Even with AJ's help, the odds of them getting out of this were astronomical
  347. >"Rarity."
  348. >"Yes?"
  349. >"You don't have time for this. Surely a woman such as yourself has better things to do than hunt two bit outlaws like us. Why don't you just go on your marry way and we'll go on yours."
  350. >Rarity snickered
  351. >"Well Rainbow."
  352. >Rarity paced back and forth
  353. >"You see I'd love to get on with my day to day however you shot and killed Sweetie Belle. Afraid I can't just take that and leave."
  354. >"You know it ain't like that Rarity. She tried to kill me first, I didn't have a choice."
  355. >"Oh so you say. So you say. Fact of that matter is you killed my little sister. I think we've talked enough. Now come out and take your death standing."
  356. >Now was your chance
  357. >You carefully aimed your rifle out the door
  358. >Just opposite you was a moderate size container of TNT
  359. >Hopefully all those folktales about shooting dynamite were true
  360. >You pulled back the bolt and fired
  361. >Nothing
  362. >"Well, well. If it isn't AJ. The coward finally poking her head out. Too bad you wasted your only shot. Bring Rainbow to me, girls."
  363. >Two of the gang members, guns at the ready, made their way to dash
  364. >"Oh and AJ. If you're getting any bright ideas in there."
  365. >Your heart beat stopped
  366. >A pistol was aimed at the back of your head
  367. >You were so focused on what was going on ahead you didn't even notice
  368. >And the girls were to afraid to warn you
  369. >You set your rifle down
  370. >"Bring AJ out too if you would."
  371. >The girl pushed you out, her pistol aimed firmly against the back of your head
  372. >Rarity smiled
  373. >"Oh Applejack. How long it has been. I've missed you."
  374. "Wish I could say the feeling was mutual"
  375. >Rainbow was brought out shortly after
  376. >"Now AJ. I can forgive you and accept you back into the gang, along with those darling little girls you have with you. But you have to apologize and denounce Rainbow"
  377. "I can't do that Rarity"
  378. >"Well. I gave you the option. Kill them. The children too"
  379. >You closed your eyes tight, your entire life flashing before your eyes as gun shots sounded
  380. >To your surprise however, it wasn't from them
  381. >Someone
  382. >No a few people were shooting just from the hill
  383. >In that split second, you and Rainbow turned things around
  384. >You pulled out your pistol, shooting your captor straight through the chest while Rainbow, in a quick fluid motion, managed to disarm both of hers while shooting one and running back to the safety of cover
  385. >Another loud voice rang out
  386. >"White lilies? This is Foxtail Militia land!"
  387. >Rarity dived behind one of the houses
  388. >"Damn it. Bounty hunters?"
  389. >You scooped up both girls and both rifles as shoot out ensued, escaping amidst the chaos
  390. >Poor Trixie was scared half to death, sobbing so hard she could create a lake
  391. "That was way too damn close."
  392. >"You're telling me. I thought for sure I was about to lose my head there. Never thought I'd ever say the phrase 'thank god for those bounty hunters' in my lifetime."
  393. "What do we do now? No way they're going to be able to kill someone like Rarity. She's way to ruthless."
  394. >"Let's find some place to hunker down for a bit. I can't think right now."
  395. "Sunset can you walk?"
  396. >She looked at you doe eyed and nodded
  397. "Good."
  398. >You set her down
  399. "Are the two of you all right?"
  400. >Sunset nodded and Trixie blubbered out a weak 'yes'
  401. "We need to get off this shithole of a mountain and fast. It won't be long before they come after us again. You know Rarity. Crazy bitch will pursue us solo if she has too."
  402. >Rainbow sighed
  403. >"I didn't want to have to do this, but there's a way off in a single night."
  404. "It's incredibly dangerous isn't it?"
  405. >"Even moreso than that."
  406. "Well we don't have much choice. We're sitting ducks out here."
  407. >Rainbow opened the map
  408. >"Alright. It's just through this way"
  409. >After about an hour of walking they made their way to a save on the side of the mountain
  410. >"We can go through here and cut straight through. However there are supposedly wild animals in there. Some say cannibals too."
  411. "Still safer than Rarity I'd say"
  412. >Rainbow lit a match and pulled out her lantern, giving it light
  413. >"Alright. Stay close"
  414. >You all made your way through in a tight, single file line
  415. >All you could hear was the sound of water dripping and wind rushing outside
  416. >"This is excellent."
  417. "What part?"
  418. >"Hear that wind?"
  419. "Yeah."
  420. >"There's definitely a blizzard going on right now. No way Rarity is going to be able to find the cave in this."
  421. "That's good. Any place we can rest?"
  422. >"I only have a very rough drawing of the cave network. So we'll just have to hope there's an alcove where we can camp for the night. Keep your weapons ready."
  423. "Right."
  424. >Trixie began to cry a bit again
  425. "There, there sweet heart. Fightin's done."
  426. >"You mean it?"
  427. "Mean it. Pinkie swear."
  428. >You look back at Sunset
  429. >She had the same glazed look over her eyes, not saying a word
  430. "Sunset?"
  431. >"Hm?"
  432. "How are you holdin' up?"
  433. >She just shook her head
  434. >You knew instantly what she was feeling
  435. >You felt the same when you grew up
  436. >The fear from a lack of power
  437. >You stopped
  438. "Sunset."
  439. >"Yes?"
  440. >You pulled out your pistol, handing it to her
  441. "I want you to have this for now. You know how to use it?"
  442. >"B-but... I couldn't..."
  443. "You can. And I'm trustin' you to keep me and Trixie safe ok? Can you do it?"
  444. >Just like that, you saw a spark of confidence in her eyes
  445. >"Yes Applejack. I can do it."
  446. >You smiled
  447. "That's my girl."
  448. >She took the pistol and, after a brief lesson in gun safety, you kept moving through the cave
  449. >It took nearly 3 hours before you came to a rounded out alcove
  450. >Never in your life were you so thankful for personal space
  451. >But the celebration was a bit premature
  452. >There was the remnants of a fire, the coals still shinning
  453. >Whoever was here had left mere moments ago
  454. >Rainbow gave you a silent nod and you took out your knife
  455. >In front of you were three different passageways
  456. >Yet it was eerily silent
  457. >You looked around and got a deep chill down your spine
  458. >In the corner of one of the passageways was a pile of bones and a few human skulls
  459. >Of all days for rumors to be true
  460. "I'll get the fire going. Rainbow you keep watch."
  461. >Sunset tugged your coat
  462. >"Can I keep watch too?"
  463. "I'd rather you got some sleep. But if you want to keep watch, you're welcome to it."
  464. >You pushed the barrel away with your finger
  465. "And remember what I said. 'never aim a the barrel at someone you don't want seriously injured.'"
  466. >She became a bit startled
  467. >"S-sorry, Applejack!"
  468. "It's alright."
  469. >You set Trixie down
  470. >Poor thing was already fast asleep
  471. >You got the sleeping bag from your pack and tucked her away inside it
  472. >You got the lighter out again
  473. >It was amazing how much you appreciated the little things these days
  474. >Luckily the wood wasn't too burnt
  475. >It easily had about three hours of light left
  476. >And judging from the cracks, plenty of ventilation
  477. >You stared into the fire for a while and were already blanking out
  478. >Turns out getting shot at then walking for four hours carrying a kid, a heavy pack and two rifles really takes it out of you
  479. "You hungry Sunset? I'm about to call it quits for today?"
  480. >She shook her head
  481. >"I'm ok."
  482. >You reached out and ruffled her hair
  483. "You're a good girl, Sunset."
  484. >You climbed inside the sleeping bag and drifted off
  485. >Meanwhile, Sunny and Dash had plenty of time to converse
  486. >"So... Dash?"
  487. >Dash shot back, annoyed
  488. >"What?"
  489. >"Well... I was just wondering. What was it like in the gang?"
  490. >"None of your business."
  491. >Sunset hugged her legs
  492. >"You don't have to be so mean."
  493. >Rainbow paused for a moment
  494. >"You know what... you're right. Sorry. It's just been a bit of a week."
  495. >"Who was that woman?"
  496. >"A person we used to run with. She is one ruthless SOB I'll tell you what. Not the person you want to cross."
  497. >It fell silent after that and no long after, Sunset fell asleep
  498. >You were woken up in only a few short hours to give Rainbow a break
  499. >You found it concerning
  500. >Where was this person who lit that fire?
  501. >Why weren't they coming after you?
  502. >Where they watching you?
  503. >Hopefully it meant that you either had them outnumbered or out gunned
  504. >Ideally both
  505. >Another few hours went past
  506. >You busied yourself by carving things on the wall with another stone you'd found
  507. >Quietly as you could of course
  508. >Rainbow woke up, followed shortly after by Trixie and Sunset
  509. >You all quickly packed up
  510. >None of you wanted to stay in this cave longer than you had to
  511. >Especially with an unknown extra guest
  512. >You had carry Trixie again
  513. >She just couldn't walk with any confidence
  514. >Thankfully the exit wasn't too far
  515. >It was just an hour long stroll
  516. >But was was outside was what shocked you
  517. >Built into the mountain was some sort of circular concrete structure
  518. >A nuclear shelter by the looks of things
  519. >You looked at Rainbow
  520. "Think we should give it a look?"
  521. >"I don't know. I'd bet it's home to whoever made that fire in there."
  522. "It probably has some great valuables there."
  523. >Rainbow looked pensive
  524. >"Alright, fine. But we go on my lead."
  525. "Fine by me."
  526. >You turned to Sunset
  527. "I need you to protect Trixie while I'm gone. Think you can do that for me?"
  528. >"You can count on me!"
  529. "Good. Just fire a shot and we'll come running."
  530. >With a little elbow grease, the two managed to lift the heavy steel door open and walked down inside
  531. >It certainly looked abandoned
  532. >Dust covered all the papers, the machinery looked as if it hadn't been used since the event
  533. "Let me take a look at these boxes he-"
  534. >Not another word escaped your mouth before you had another gun in your face
  535. >Rainbow aimed her pistol at the attacker
  536. >It was a tall woman in a lab coat with long purple hair and glasses
  537. >"Put the gun down."
  538. >"Why are you here?"
  539. >"We don't mean harm. We'll leave. Just put the gun down."
  540. >"We do it at the same time."
  541. >They both watched each other and slowly lowered their weapons
  542. >"Who are you?"
  543. >"Twilight Sparkle. PhD in medical science. For what it's worth now anyway. Who are you?"
  544. >"I'm Rainbow Dash."
  545. "And I'm Applejack."
  546. >To your surprise she started to cry
  547. >"Please let me join you."
  548. >You both look startled
  549. "Join us?"
  550. >"Yes. I've been here ever since the event. I swear I'll go crazy if I spend another second alone. I'll pull my weight, you can even shackle me if you don't trust me. I can preform medical care and-"
  551. "Relax, relax. Of course we'll take you."
  552. >Rainbow looked annoyed
  553. >"Are we just going to take everyone who gives us a sob story now? God good thing Rarity didn't ask to join us, or we'd be sleeping beside her too!"
  554. "Oh hush! You know it ain't like that."
  555. >"We can't just keep doing this AJ. We won't be able to support ourselves."
  556. >Twilight tilted her head
  557. >"Your worried about food? I've got a few solutions to that. A moment."
  558. >She rushed into one of the corners of the lab and started digging around
  559. >In a few minutes she came back with a big back bag
  560. >"In here I have all sorts of goodies. A bunch of mre's, seeds, and even some concoctions to make animal hunting easier."
  561. >"Like poison?"
  562. >"No, not like poison. Tranquilizers. I have a greenhouse running here. Or, well, used too before the power cell broke. It's amazing what you can make from plants."
  563. "Come on Rainbow. She's obviously an asset."
  564. >She huffed
  565. >"Fine."
  566. >Twilight became jubilant
  567. >"Thank you thank you thank you!"
  568. "Don't mention it. Yer certainly going to be an asset to us doctor."
  569. >"You don't need to call me doctor. Twilight is just fine. I just need to do some packing real fast if you don't mind."
  570. >You walked back up the steps to find Sunny and Trixie playing
  571. >Sunset had taken some pine needles and wrapped them around the sticks, making them into people shapes
  572. >You sat back and listened
  573. >Sunny raised on into the air
  574. >"And then she was like 'well you killed my sister, so I can't just walk away! Get 'em girls!"
  575. >Trixie made a bunch of explosion sounds
  576. >"And then the unicorn came down and blasted her away!"
  577. >Trixie made another explosion sound
  578. >You couldn't help but giggle
  579. >Sunset quickly hide the makeshift toys behind her back
  580. >"O-Oh hi Applejack! W-what's going on?"
  581. "Nothing much. What were you doin?"
  582. >Sunset's face went a deep shade of red
  583. >"N-nothing!"
  584. >You smirked
  585. "You sure? What's that behind your back?"
  586. >You could see her not so subtly toss them away and show you her now empty hands
  587. >"Nothing! See!"
  588. "If you say so."
  589. >You look to see your revolver on the ground
  590. >"Mind if I talk my revolver back?
  591. >She looked a bit down cast at the idea
  592. >"Do you have too?"
  593. "Yes. I promise the moment we find another one, I'll give it to you"
  594. >"Pinkie promise?"
  595. "Pinkie promise"
  596. >You picked it up and twirled it around your finger before putting it back in the hostler, just like in those cowboy movies
  597. >Took you months to get that right
  598. >You'd have to clean it for sure
  599. >It was starting to fall into disrepair
  600. >You walked back to the bunker
  601. "What's the hold up in there?"
  602. >Rainbow walks up the steps frustrated
  603. >"Doctor nerd over there is trying to bring way more than she can carry"
  604. >You walk down the steps
  605. >She wasn't kidding
  606. >Twilight had packed no less than three backpacks
  607. "Twilight we're going to have to narrow this down. What the hell is in all those anyway?"
  608. >"You know, the essentials. Notes, lists, guides, books. Then the seeds and mres."
  609. "You're going to have to limit it to one pack. We can't carry the other two and you need to be light on your feet."
  610. >She looked a bit dejected
  611. >"Alright. If it means breaking out of this isolation, I'll do it"
  612. >After a little while longer, she brought it down to a single pack and went back up
  613. >She stared longingly at the shelter
  614. "You gonna be ok?"
  615. >"I'll be fine. I just want to get one last look at it"
  616. "So Rainbow where too now?"
  617. >"We can make good time cutting through these woods"
  618. >Twilight looked afraid
  619. >"Bad idea. There's a rather dangerous cult of man eaters in there"
  620. >"Damn. It'll take at least 2 days to go around."
  621. "Don't worry. We have at least a week before Rarity catches back up with us"
  622. >"Rarity?"
  623. "Probably should know this going in, we're being hunted by a former gang mate"
  624. >"Are you gangsters now?"
  625. "No. We left that life"
  626. >"Then I have nothing to worry about."
  627. "How long till the city Rainbow?"
  628. >"It's just past the wood."
  629. "Thanks to Twilight we'll have plenty of food. for the journey. Told ya it was a good idea."
  630. >"Yeah, yeah. Let's get going."
  631. >You looked down at Trixie
  632. "Think you can walk on your own this time?"
  633. >She looked nervous
  634. >"I'll try. Can I hold your hand?"
  635. "Of course you can."
  636. >As you walked you began to converse with Twi, trying to get to know a little about her
  637. "So uh, where'd you go to school?"
  638. >"It was a really elite school in America called Harvard. Judging from your age I'm guessing you were quite young when the event happened."
  639. "Yeah. No older than 4. Got caught up in the gang the very next year."
  640. >"That's terrible. This world is... very cruel."
  641. "Do you know what happened? I heard it was an explosion. But an explosion capable of destroying nearly all the earth? What kinda bomb can do that?"
  642. >"An incredibly destructive one. It harnesses the power of atoms themselves. Hydrogen specifically. And it wasn't just one, but hundreds. To be honest we're lucky it didn't burn the world with it."
  643. "I'm glad it didn't. We can still rebuild."
  644. >Rainbow rushed to the bushes, yanking your arm with her
  645. >"Shh! Hide!"
  646. >You all ducked for cover
  647. >A couple of people in fatigues walked out of the side of the wood
  648. >A patrol no doubt
  649. >Heavily armed too
  650. >"Heard there's been some commotion up in the mountains."
  651. >"There's always commotion. I swear those foxtails would kill each other if they didn't need numbers to survive."
  652. >"No. I mean it's coming down here. They found traces of people near Cherry's camp. And the vault was opened too!"
  653. >"Is that so?"
  654. >Rainbow whispered to you
  655. >"Just let them pass. We can't let them know we're in the area"
  656. >After a few minutes they passed on and you emerged from hiding
  657. >"We might need to rush this. Come on"
  658. >You made your way double time around the out skirts of the wood
  659. >It was unnerving to look at
  660. >All about the tree line were these strange statues
  661. >They were all made from bones, human most like, and arranged very intricately
  662. >These guys were nothing short of messed up
  663. >As night fell, they made camp
  664. >You sat down and pulled out your last bit of gun oil and slowly began to maintain your gun
  665. >Sunset pulled up, looking curiously
  666. >"What're you doing?"
  667. "I have to periodically clean my revolver, otherwise it'll get jammed and break down."
  668. >You unscrewed each component, cleaning it carefully
  669. >Sunset looked at the grip curiously
  670. >"What does that say? On the handle."
  671. >You picked it up
  672. >You nearly had forgotten it was there
  673. >You smiled
  674. "A message from someone who loved me."
  675. >"What's it say?"
  676. "It says 'too the apple of my eye, forever yours.'"
  677. >Rainbow made a mocking noise
  678. "Oh hush! Least I can read."
  679. >"Oh shut up!"
  680. >Twilight folded up the note she was reading
  681. >"Is that revolver special too you?"
  682. "Extremely. It was given to me by someone I deeply respected. The inscription actually wasn't meant for me. It was given to him by someone he really loved. He just passed it on to me."
  683. >You screwed the body back in place and tightened the barrel
  684. >"I'm glad you have something like that. Helps to keep you going."
  685. "Do you have anything like that?"
  686. >"Yes, as a matter of fact I do."
  687. >She reached inside her pack and pulled out a necklace
  688. >It was beautiful
  689. >A red ruby surrounded by a gold backing
  690. "Wow. That's gorgeous."
  691. >"Thanks. It was given to me by my former husband."
  692. "I'm sorry to hear former. I assume..."
  693. >"Yes... he was caught up in the blast."
  694. >A long bit of silence hung in the air but that's when you noticed something
  695. >You weren't alone
  696. >You quickly loaded your revolver and pulled the hammer back
  697. "Who's out there?"
  698. >Rainbow followed suit looking around
  699. >A voice came from the darkness
  700. >"Was wondering when you'd notice us. If I were you however I'd put those guns away."
  701. >Out of the bushes came at least 20 people, all with the guns aimed directly at you
  702. >"Why don't you two just put your guns away and keep your hands up"
  703. >You did as you were told
  704. >"You girls seemed to have entered the wrong parts of town."
  705. >Two men stepped into the light
  706. >They looked like twins, both with the same red hair and face structure
  707. >"Well Flim! Would you look what the cat dragged in!"
  708. >"If my eyes don't device me Flam! It's Twilight Sparkle!"
  709. >"Well boys and girls, seems we have one of the best dishes on the menu tonight. Revenge! Take them away."
  710. >They began to walk you into the woods after taking your weapons
  711. >Rainbow looked pissed
  712. >"She must have told!"
  713. >Twilight shot back
  714. >"I didn't say anything! I left them!"
  715. >"Dirty cannibal!"
  716. "Would you two shut up? I'm trying to think of a way out."
  717. >One of the cannibals laughed
  718. >"Yeah, good luck with that. You'd need an army to get out of this."
  719. >They walked you deep inside the heart of the forest and put you into cages, two in each cage
  720. >You were stuck with Sunset, Rainbow with Trixie, and Twilight by herself
  721. >In the clearing, just beyond the cages, you could see a large bonefire slowly starting to rise
  722. >Bones and other human remains were scattered all over the camp
  723. >This was bad
  724. >You pressed your cheek against the bars and whispered to Twilight
  725. "Know any way out of here?"
  726. >"Yes. But you have to trust me."
  727. >Rainbow crossed her arms
  728. >"No way. She's probably just going to give us to them in exchange for her freedom."
  729. >"I'm not going to do that! Just listen. Applejack. The middle bar at the back of your cage is loose. Before each sacrifice, they do a huge ritual. When they start, you should be able to break the bar and squeeze through the gap. This is where things get complicated. The only set of keys I know of are in flim and flams cabin. You can't miss it, it has a huge elk skull on it. Retrieve those keys and you can get the rest of us too. You should also find all of our supplies in there as well."
  730. "How much time will I have?"
  731. >"Not much. Forty minutes at max. Probably more like thirty."
  732. "I'll do it in fifteen."
  733. >"Good. It takes place at nightfall so unfortunately we'll have to wait all day in here before we can start."
  734. "Nah that's good. I can observe camp behavior while we wait. See any weaknesses."
  735. >"I'm telling you this is a bad idea."
  736. "Shut up Rainbow. Unless you have some better idea."
  737. >She just grumbled
  738. >"Don't mind Rainbow, Twi. She is just one untrustful son of a bitch."
  739. >Sunset tugged your sleeve
  740. >"We're going to be ok, right?"
  741. "Course we are sugarcube. No way anything is gunna happen to us. Just do exactly what I say and we'll be out of this."
  742. >You spent the entire rest of the day observing and taking mental notes cannibals
  743. >One of them compulsively itched, another was routinely distracted with a lover, another one seemed to not be able to turn his head more than 30 degrees left
  744. >They certainly weren't any disciplined fighting force thank goodness
  745. >Getting past them wouldn't be difficult so long as you didn't get too careless
  746. >Throughout the day they sacrificed people to the giant fire
  747. >Seemed they loved to kill anyone and everyone who entered their territory
  748. >Night finally fell. Show time.
  749. >Everyone wall called for the ritual and you quietly jimmed the bar out of it's socket
  750. >You and Sunset squeezed out
  751. "Alright Sunset. I want you to go out to the edge of the wood near where we made camp last night. If we aren't met up with you by tomorrow I want you to get to the city. Understand?"
  752. >"But-"
  753. "Don't but. Go. Now."
  754. >Sunset nodded fighting back tears and began to quietly run away
  755. >Now it was your turn
  756. >You stayed low, quietly sneaking through the camp and into a row of badly made wooden cabins
  757. >Sure enough, there was one with elk horns
  758. >Someone was guarding it
  759. >You looked around for something you could use to keep his mouth shut while you went in for the kill
  760. >Nothing
  761. >You'd have to choke him and hope he wasn't stronger than you
  762. >You snuck around towards the back and as fast as you could, tackled him to the ground and squeezed his neck hard
  763. >He punched and kicked you a few times but thankfully you were able to keep him down
  764. >You dragged the body to a bushed and went into the cabin to search
  765. >You looked up and down until eventually you found it
  766. >A long ring of keys
  767. >There had to be at least 20 or so on the ring
  768. >That complicated things
  769. >Unfortunately you were going to just have to hope for the best
  770. >You looked around and pulled the three packs out from underneath the bed
  771. >Everything was in there, including your lucky revolver
  772. >You dragged everything out to a hidden spot to be retrieved and then made your way back to the cages
  773. >Twilight whispered
  774. >"Hurry up. It's almost over."
  775. "Do you know which key is the right key? There's at least 20 on this stupid thing."
  776. >"I have no idea. Just keep trying until you get it right."
  777. >You keeled down began jamming each key into the lock
  778. >Fail
  779. >Fail
  780. >Fail
  781. >You went through 18 of the 20 keys before finally picking the one that opened Rainbow's cage
  782. "Go! Take Trixie. The packs are behind a bush just five paces west of the edge of the camp. You won't miss it. After that go meet Sunset where we made camp last"
  783. >"Go it"
  784. >Rainbow nodded picking up Trixie and quietly ran off
  785. >Just as you began to fiddle with Twilight's key, a yell was heard
  786. >"Hey! They're trying to escape!"
  787. >Going full panic mood you did your best to fit each key as fast as you could before having to run
  788. >Twilight called out
  789. >"Don't leave me! They'll eat me alive!"
  790. >You bit your lip and kept running
  791. >You caught up to Rainbow where the packs were
  792. >"Did you get Twilight?"
  793. "No. She's still there. We can't just leave her"
  794. >Rainbow put her bag on her back
  795. >"Watch me"
  796. >You gave her a nice, hardy slap
  797. "I am so damn sick of this attitude Rainbow. We are not going to just leave her there to be eaten. She's the exact same as us. Be like me leaving you to Rarity back in the mountains"
  798. >She looked stunned
  799. "I have a plan but I need your help. Are you with me?"
  800. >She sighed
  801. >"I'm with you"
  802. "Good. Now listen close"
  803. >After explaining your master plan and leaving Trixie by the bags, you both walked back into camp
  804. >Due to the stir, the camp was far less populated now
  805. >No doubt they had sent a bunch of scouts to track you down
  806. >Twilight has been tied by her limbs to four different trees and was now roasting over the fire in nothing but her underwear
  807. >Her entire back was an angry red, as if she'd stayed in the sun for too long with out sunscreen
  808. "Alright. Ready?"
  809. >"Ready."
  810. >You cocked your pistol and pulled out a little something extra you nabbed from Flim and Flam's cabin
  811. >A motoltov cocktail
  812. >Time for the distraction
  813. >You lit the fuse and threw it on one of the cabins, setting it alight almost instantly
  814. >Rainbow, now on the opposite side of the camp, began firing shots in the air
  815. >Everyone scattered
  816. >Now was your chance
  817. >You sprinted out the fire and carefully cut Twilight down from the trees, being sure not to drop her right into the fire below
  818. >Her back was tender
  819. >She had to do everything in her power not to scream at the top of her lungs at the slightest touch
  820. >"Y-you... you came back for me."
  821. "Course we did. Though you've got some explaining to do when this is over."
  822. >"There! She's got Twilight!"
  823. "We need to go."
  824. >You lifted up your gun and fired twice, signaling to Rainbow that you'd successfully retrieved Twilight
  825. >You both began to run into the trees
  826. >Once you got your bags you scattered, each finding a different hiding spot to lie low in until they gave up
  827. >It took a long while, but eventually they all regrouped at camp
  828. >You quickly made your way back to Sunset and without so much as a second for greeting, hurriedly moved the path
  829. "We need to chose a new route. They'll be watching this road for sure."
  830. >"You're right."
  831. >Rainbow pulled out her map
  832. >"Looks like we're going to be taking the scenic route. We'll make a big cut up her near the edge of the mountains. There should be a small cave there where we can wait this out for a bit. Then we'll go on to the city"
  833. >You made quick time, only reaching the cave in a few hours
  834. >To your relief, it was empty of any animal inhabitants
  835. >You put your back against the wall and let out a huge sigh
  836. "Ugh. It feels like we've been going nonstop for the past three days."
  837. >Rainbow plopped on the cave floor
  838. >"You're telling me."
  839. "On more pressing terms. Twilight. I want the truth. The real truth this time."
  840. >She looked nervous
  841. >"Ok... I used to run with the gang. I had no other choice. One day I got so tired of all the... the people eating that I went into the nuclear bunker."
  842. "Are you actually a doctor?"
  843. >"Yes."
  844. "Are you actually on our side?"
  845. >"Yes."
  846. "That's good enough for me."
  847. >Rainbow clenched her fist
  848. >"Good enough?"
  849. "Rainbow are we really doing this again?"
  850. >"Yes! We have to figure some things out."
  851. "Like what?"
  852. >"Like why you keep recruiting people! We can't support this weight!"
  853. "We can and have."
  854. >"Whatever! Forget this!"
  855. >Rainbow pulled her bag over her side
  856. "What are you doing?"
  857. >"Leaving."
  858. "You can't do that!"
  859. >"Watch me."
  860. "Well what do I gotta do to make ya stay?"
  861. >"First stop taking people in and second, banish Twilight."
  862. "I'm not doing any of that."
  863. >"Well then I guess I'm gone."
  864. >Rainbow walked out of the cave
  865. >You wanted to stop her but you knew she was so pig headed she wouldn't listen
  866. "Damn it..."
  867. >Twilight put her hand on your shoulder
  868. >"If it really is that contentious... I'll leave."
  869. "No. You're too valuable. I just... I hope Rainbow is safe."
  870. >"You really won't go after her?"
  871. "She wouldn't listen even if I did. The girl is as stubborn as a ram."
  872. >You got up and dusted yourself off
  873. "Let's get a fire going. We'll wait here for a few days then go into the city."
  874. >You all gathered around the fire, cooking the last of the meat you'd saved from the mountain
  875. >As much as you didn't want it to, you were feeling Rainbow's absence
  876. >You hugged your knees
  877. >Truth be told, this was bound to happen
  878. >You peered over your shoulder
  879. >Sunset and Trixie were already fast asleep
  880. >Twilight remained up, a blanket wrapped around her
  881. "How's that back?"
  882. >"Incredibly painful. The slightest touch makes it feel like my nerves are being set on fire."
  883. "Anything I can do to help?"
  884. >"Well there is one thing. There's a type of weed that grows around her, buckthorne, that I can use in conjunction with a few other plants I have to make a paste that will help ease the pain."
  885. "I'd be happy to get it for you. Certainly not going to be sleeping right now with all this stress."
  886. >"That would be lovely. Thank you. And..."
  887. >You got up
  888. "Yes?"
  889. >"I'm really sorry to have caused so much trouble."
  890. "Don't be. The truth of the matter is... Rainbow and I have been fighting for some time."
  891. >You clenched your fist
  892. "To be honest... I think she was just lookin for an excuse to leave."
  893. >"I'm sorry."
  894. "Don't be. I'll be back soon. Any idea where too look?"
  895. >"It's most prevalent near streams. There's one about half a mile north from here I think. Look for a stem with four leaves on either side and a dark green color."
  896. "Got it. Should be simple enough."
  897. >You set out, making sure to light your lantern
  898. >Hopefully no more of those cannibals showed up
  899. >You followed Twi's directions and, sure enough, there was a stream
  900. >You looked around and found exactly the plant she described, picking six up and returning back
  901. "Will this do?"
  902. >"That's perfect."
  903. >You watched her concoct the ointment
  904. >She first placed the leaves in a cup and let it sit over the fire for a bit
  905. >As the leaves cooked, oil began to spill into it
  906. >After this, she mixed in a root and what looked to be fruit juice and mashed it all together until it made a thick white paste
  907. >"If you'd be so kind as to rub this on my back"
  908. "Absolutely"
  909. >You began to rub across her back, hearing her wince
  910. "So Twilight?"
  911. >"Yes?"
  912. "What was life like before the event? Or really... why did the event happen?"
  913. >"For a long time, my home country was rival to another called China. They had very different ideas of how the world should run"
  914. >She winced again she readjusted her position to face you
  915. >"The war was silent for the most part. By that I mean, they fought with wars rather than guns. Eventually though some fired the first bomb, the other fired back and well... now we're here."
  916. "That seems rather foolish."
  917. >"It does looking back. Though at the time everyone was incredibly passionate about their side. It's just a shame that passion left the earth a sweeping pile of rubble."
  918. "What else was it like? Like beside the conflict."
  919. >"Well we had these incredible computers in our pockets. Phones were more akin the super computers than anything. All of which could fit comfortably in my hand. One moment I could call someone from half way around the globe, the next I could watch a video from a library of millions."
  920. "Sounds like something out of an alien novel."
  921. >"You read much Applejack?"
  922. "I used too. The leader of our gang... he taught me how to read."
  923. >"What was he like?"
  924. "Great before he went crazy and decided to kill a bunch of innocent people. Someone shot him for it and the gang split and had a huge fight over the thing. Still have no idea why he went so insane. It was like a light switch."
  925. >"I'm sorry to hear that."
  926. "I am too. I am too."
  927. >You let out a yawn
  928. "Well. I think I'm going to hit the hay."
  929. >"I'll keep watch. No way I'm sleeping right now."
  930. "Alright. Goodnight"
  931. >You crawled over to your sleeping bag and closed your eyes
  932. >Next you awoke was to the sound of a thunder storm
  933. >It was coming down in sheets
  934. >You pushed yourself up to see Twilight with the kids at the mouth of the cave, admiring the downpour
  935. >You stretched out and walked over to them
  936. "Having fun?"
  937. >Sunset looked amazed
  938. >"Yeah! Look at how hard it's coming down! The hail is as big as my hand!"
  939. >It was good to see her smiling
  940. >No doubt the past few days had been rough on her
  941. "Want some rest, Twilight?"
  942. >"Yes please"
  943. "Sleep well. You've earned it"
  944. >Twilight lazily crawled over to your sleeping back and was out almost instantly
  945. >You walked over to the mouth of the cave where the girls were sitting
  946. "Watcha two doin?"
  947. >Sunset didn't take her eyes off the rain
  948. >"Trying to count the raindrops."
  949. >Trixie smiled
  950. >"I keep track so she doesn't lose count!"
  951. "How many ya count so far?"
  952. >"ten!"
  953. >You cocked your eyebrow
  954. "Surely there is more than ten raindrops
  955. >Sunset shrugged
  956. >"I don't know what comes after ten."
  957. >You chuckled
  958. >Truth be told you only knew how to count to twenty
  959. "Sunset you want to do something with me?"
  960. >"What?"
  961. "I could teach you how to hunt if you're interested."
  962. >"Sure!"
  963. >Trixie stood up
  964. >"Can I come too?"
  965. >You smiled
  966. "You can't unfortunately. Sorry sugar cube."
  967. >"Why not?"
  968. >Sunset shot back
  969. >"Because your blind, stupid!"
  970. "Sunset!"
  971. >Trixie started to cry
  972. "That is no way to talk to someone. Apologize."
  973. >Sunset grumbled
  974. >"But it's true."
  975. "I don't give a hay if it's true. Say you're sorry."
  976. >"Sorry, Trixie."
  977. >She said it, even if it was begrudgingly
  978. >Trixie cried a little bit before finally relaxing
  979. >"It's ok, Sunset."
  980. "Good job. Sunset if you act unkind like that again you can't go hunting with me."
  981. >You walked to your bag and pulled out two bows and a bundle of arrows
  982. "Lucky for you I kept the bow I used to hunt with as a kid. Let's get a bit of practice in."
  983. >You held your bow up with proper form
  984. "Hold it just like I am."
  985. >Sunset mimic'd your movement
  986. >"Like this?"
  987. "Exactly. Now to fire put the notch at the back of the arrow in between the string, draw back and-"
  988. >You let it fly
  989. "Boom."
  990. >It took Sunset a few tries to make sure the bow flew straight, but she was a fast learner
  991. "Alright. I think we're ready."
  992. >You walked to Trixie
  993. "Now you have a very important role ok sweetie?"
  994. >"What?"
  995. "You have to be the leader of the cave while we're gone. Can you do that?"
  996. >Trixie's face lit up
  997. >"Yeah!"
  998. "Good. We'll be back in a few hours. Do not step outside the cave, understand?"
  999. >"Got it."
  1000. >As luck would have it, the rain was letting up
  1001. >It was now only a light drizzle
  1002. >All the rain would do wonders to mask your scent
  1003. >You walked for a while before finding some tracks
  1004. "See that Sunset?"
  1005. >She looked down
  1006. >"Hoof prints?"
  1007. "Right. Deer hoof prints. Stay low and stay quiet ok?"
  1008. >She nodded and you began to follow the trail
  1009. >It didn't take long
  1010. >The deer was drinking right by the stream
  1011. >Unbelievable luck today
  1012. "Watch me closely."
  1013. >You took your bow and knocked it back
  1014. >Aiming just slight above it's head, you let the arrow go
  1015. >It was a picture perfect shot, going straight through the side of it's temple
  1016. >"Wow Applejack!"
  1017. "Thanks. Did you catch what I did?"
  1018. >"What?"
  1019. "The trick it to aim just above their head. As their arrow flies, it loses height and speed so you need to compensate for that."
  1020. >"Compensate?"
  1021. "It's a fancy way of sayin' take into account."
  1022. >You both walked over to the kill
  1023. >You were in luck
  1024. >There was another one, probably close by
  1025. "Alright, Sunset. Time to see what you've learned. I want you to track this deer and kill it."
  1026. >"What about this deer?"
  1027. "Well come back for it. It's not going anywhere."
  1028. >Sunset began to carefully follow the tracks
  1029. >In about 30 minutes they found it
  1030. >It was a nice big elk
  1031. >You nodded too her
  1032. >She pulled her bow back and shit
  1033. >She aimed a bit too high and the arrow hit it's horn
  1034. >It turned and spotted the both of you
  1035. >To your horror, however, it began to charge right at Sunset
  1036. >Just before it rammed into Sunset, you pushed her out of the way and it went full speed into your left side
  1037. >It felt like a sky scraper had hit you at a hundred miles and hour
  1038. >The pain was unreal and the wind had been completely knocked out of you
  1039. >The buck shook it's head a few times and began to square up for another charge
  1040. >Despite the massive pain, you pulled your revolver out and shot in it's direction
  1041. >The bullet missed, but it was more than enough to scare it off
  1042. >Sunset was distraught
  1043. >"Applejack! Applejack! Are you ok!?"
  1044. "Y-yeah I'm ok-"
  1045. >You went into a fit of coughing
  1046. >Your entire torso was on fire
  1047. >"What should I do? Oh my god, oh my god!"
  1048. "Just-"
  1049. >You wheezed
  1050. "Just relax. No use panicking. I'm not seriously hurt. Just had the wind knocked out of me is all. Just... give me a second."
  1051. >You sat there for a while taking in big gulps of air before finally getting some breath back in you
  1052. >By some miracle, non of your ribs broke
  1053. >You were, however, going to have one mean bruise for the next few days
  1054. "There we go. I feel much better."
  1055. >"I'm so, so, so sorry Applejack!"
  1056. "It's perfectly fine, you're still learning. To be honest we really should've have gone after that buck."
  1057. >You pushed yourself back to your feet
  1058. "Let's go back and retrieve our kill. There's still more to learn."
  1059. >You made your way back to the location of your kill
  1060. >Thankfully no wild animals had made off with it
  1061. >You slung it over your shoulder on your good side
  1062. >Even still, the pressure hurt like hell
  1063. >You pushed past it, making your way back to the cave
  1064. "How'd it go, Trixie?"
  1065. >"Good! Nothing to report!"
  1066. "Glad to hear it."
  1067. >You put the deer on the floor
  1068. "Alright, Sunset. I'm going to teach you how to skin. Do you have a weak stomach?"
  1069. >"No, m'am."
  1070. "Good."
  1071. >You strung the deer up on the ceiling of the cave
  1072. "Alright. Let's start with the legs."
  1073. >You drove your knife into the deer's haunch and began to make the cut
  1074. "You want to try a leg?"
  1075. >Sunset nodded
  1076. >"Yes please!"
  1077. >She wasn't the least bit phased by the blood
  1078. >With a little guidance, you helped her make the right cut
  1079. >Even when you were deorganing it, she watched with a sense of wonder
  1080. >Once you finished the skin you sat beside her
  1081. "You did real good out there today. I'm proud of you."
  1082. >"But I didn't get a single kill."
  1083. "Nor did I the first time I went hunting. You'll get there. You've made an impressive level of progress just today."
  1084. >"You mean it?"
  1085. "Absolutely. Anytime you want to go hunting with me you just let me know. I'd be happy to go with you."
  1086. >Sunset gave such an amazing genuine smile
  1087. >She looked so proud
  1088. >You taught her quite a bit just that day alone
  1089. >How to hunt, how to skin, how to cook the meet, how to store it
  1090. >She was really coming into her own
  1091. >The next day came
  1092. >It was time to head out
  1093. >Everyone packed up and you began to make your way to the city, being sure to be on the look out for any of the cannibals
  1094. >Luckily things seemed to have died down
  1095. >You hope Rainbow was safe
  1096. >She was competent, certainly better with a gun than you could ever hope to be
  1097. >But damn was she impulsive
  1098. >There, in the distance, you could see it
  1099. >The dilapidated remains of what was once a thriving city
  1100. >Faded towering sky scrapers still stood high in the sky
  1101. >The roads were lined with shells of cars, most picked clean of any valuables
  1102. >It almost filled you with a sense of sadness
  1103. >Like looking a corpse of a person who was known for their greatness
  1104. >You adjusted Trixie's position on your back
  1105. "Alright y'all. Keep your wits about ya. There tend to be a lot of dangerous people in and around cities. Keep your guard up."
  1106. >Twilight put her hand to her chin
  1107. >"So why go in here? What are we hoping to find?"
  1108. "Resources mostly. Big thing on the list is guns for the lot of you. I can only do so much with a rifle and pistol."
  1109. >"I've never used a gun in my life."
  1110. "Welp now's the time to learn."
  1111. >You tossed her the rifle
  1112. >Even if the city was a bit to close quarters for it, it was better than her own two fists at the end of the day
  1113. >As you walked into the city you explain the basics
  1114. >Twilight hopelessly tried to follow but you could tell most of it went in through one ear and out the other
  1115. >Finally you reached the edge of the city
  1116. "Now stay quiet. No sense in letting people know we're here."
  1117. >You took your revolver out and flicked the safety off
  1118. >You all began to systematically search each shop
  1119. >As expected, most of it was picked clean
  1120. >You walked into a police station
  1121. >Twilight looked pleased
  1122. >"Look at all this! So many weapons!"
  1123. >You glared
  1124. "Don't touch them. This ain't right."
  1125. >You looked at the locked containers carrying the various weapons
  1126. >Your hunch was right
  1127. >Trip wires
  1128. >And no two bit ones either
  1129. >These were set up in such a way to snap only when the locks were removed
  1130. >And positioned so as to be barely visible in most light
  1131. >You lightly tapped the floor with your foot
  1132. >Sure enough it was hollow
  1133. "Stay sharp. Someone's here."
  1134. >You walked out of the police station
  1135. >As you did so, you threw an object at the wire, cutting it
  1136. >It didn't trigger the trap
  1137. >This guy really knew his stuff
  1138. >"What did you do that for?"
  1139. "Whoever did this will no doubt notice that, if they ain't noticed us already. Gonna try and see if I can't flush 'em out."
  1140. >You looked up at the sky
  1141. "The lights starting to fade. Let's go in that building over there and sent up camp. And be careful. Whoever's doing this knows their stuff."
  1142. >Sunset nodded
  1143. >"Right."
  1144. >You all made your way to a build adjacent from the police station
  1145. "I'll keep watch for tonight. See if I can catch anyone going into the police station."
  1146. >You pulled some binoculars from your bag and looked at the station
  1147. >A few hours passed and you were beginning to fade
  1148. >Your eyes started to blink
  1149. >Just then, something whizzed by your head
  1150. >A rock, most likely from a sling shot
  1151. >You roused the group awake
  1152. "Get up. Our friend is here."
  1153. >You got behind the window
  1154. >You looked left and right but it was impossible to see in this darkness
  1155. >"Do you see them?"
  1156. "No. Just keep your head low."
  1157. >You peaked up again and right as you did another rock whizzed by your head
  1158. >This time you knew exactly where it came from
  1159. >It was from the widow of the building right by the police station
  1160. "Twilight. Rifle."
  1161. >"Right."
  1162. >She tossed you the rifle
  1163. >All you needed was for your attack to shoot one more stone and you'd know exactly where they were
  1164. >You put your head out just a bit
  1165. >Another rock flew out
  1166. "Got it. Third floor, building left of the police station. Twilight you stay here with the girls. I'll confront our rude guest."
  1167. >"Alright. Just be careful ok?"
  1168. "I promise I will be."
  1169. >You set the rifle down and ran down the steps making your way to the building
  1170. >It was strange
  1171. >They stopped firing despite you being open
  1172. >You tip toed into the building, your revolver at the ready
  1173. >You kicked down the door where your attacker was firing from
  1174. >You couldn't believe it
  1175. >It was an automated firing system with only three shots
  1176. >The attacker had been here recently however
  1177. >That's how they were able to aim it at your position
  1178. >You walked back out and noticed something
  1179. >Tracks in the thick layer of dust going down the hall
  1180. >You slowly followed them down until you came to another door
  1181. >Your heart rate quickened
  1182. >You pressed opened the door and within a second a bucket of gasoline fell from the top of the door
  1183. >You managed to pull back just in time
  1184. >As the door swooped open your heart stopped
  1185. >A fuse right near the edge of the door had been lit
  1186. >The attack had jumped out the window the moment he heard you coming
  1187. >The fuse touched the gasoline and a loud explosion rang through your ears
  1188. >The force slammed against the wall and a plank fell, landing square on your ankle
  1189. >The building began to go up in smoke
  1190. >With a large amount of effort and pain you push the plank from your ankle
  1191. >But it was no good
  1192. >Your ankle was certainly broken
  1193. >You managed to get up and lean on the wall and began hopping towards the stairs
  1194. >But the fire was raging faster and faster
  1195. >At this rate you'd go right down with the building
  1196. >Smoke began to fill your lungs and your vision doubled
  1197. >This was really bad
  1198. >If you stayed here for much longer you'd lose consciousness
  1199. >You made it too the floor below and could barely keep your weight up
  1200. >You fell too the ground
  1201. >Was this it?
  1202. >Was this were it all ended?
  1203. >That's when you saw someone coming into the building
  1204. >She had a long blue duster and a black tilted hat
  1205. >She also had a twisted smile on her face
  1206. >She forcefully grabbed your arm and began to drag you out
  1207. >She whispered
  1208. >It was a woman's voice
  1209. >"Not just yet Applejack. No, no, no. Our fun has only just started."
  1210. >She dragged you back outside and threw you down, stomping hard on your broken ankle
  1211. >You let out a piercing yell
  1212. >Your captor laughed
  1213. >"That's right. Remember this pain. Remember it. Next we meet it's going to be even worse."
  1214. >And with that she hurriedly scurried off
  1215. >Twilight yelled to you as she ran to rescue you
  1216. >"Applejack! Applejack are you alright?"
  1217. >You let out a couple of coughs
  1218. "Been better. My ankle's broke."
  1219. >Twilight slung you over her shoulder and you both began to hobble back to where you set up camp
  1220. >"Who was that?"
  1221. "I don't know. Could barely see. Seems to be someone with a grudge. Even knew my name."
  1222. >"Should we be worried?"
  1223. "She's definitely going to come after us again. But I think her targets me, not you. Be careful regardless."
  1224. >You reached to your side
  1225. >Where was it?
  1226. >You patted your belt and waist
  1227. >You felt panic rise within you
  1228. "No. No, no, no, no, no, no! Damn it no!"
  1229. >"What's wrong?"
  1230. "My revolver is gone. Did I leave-"
  1231. >It hit you like a ton of bricks
  1232. >You knew exactly where it was
  1233. "Shit. Whoever that person was... they must've stolen it. Bet it was insurance to make sure I didn't skip town. Shit."
  1234. >"What should we do?"
  1235. "Wait for 'em. They'll be back. And oh will there be hell to pay. This is personal now."
  1236. >You hopped back up to where you had made camp
  1237. >Sunset ran and hugged you
  1238. >Poor thing was sobbing in hysterics
  1239. >"A-Applejack! Are you alright!?"
  1240. "Shhh there, there. I'm just fine, just be careful around my ankle."
  1241. >"What happened?"
  1242. "Some psycho is trying to get to me. Lucky she seems only after me and not the rest of ya."
  1243. >Twi helped you down on the sleeping bag
  1244. >"Here. You need rest."
  1245. "Right."
  1246. >You let out a sigh
  1247. "But keep hyper vigilant. They're no doubt waiting for the second we let our guard down."
  1248. >You laid your back and closed your eyes
  1249. "If anything happens, even the slightest thing out of place, you wake me."
  1250. >"Right."
  1251. >With Twi's help, you splinted your ankle
  1252. >You rolled on your good side and tried to get some sleep
  1253. >Just as you were on the verge of blacking out, something whizzed right next to your head
  1254. >You shot up
  1255. "Did you see where that came from?"
  1256. >"No."
  1257. >Not that it would do you good anyway
  1258. >Who knows how many of those automated contraptions this psycho had put up
  1259. >Something else whizzed by your head, hitting the wall behind you
  1260. >It was an arrow with a note stapled to it
  1261. >You opened it up and read it aloud
  1262. "You left me with so many sleepless nights, now I'll do the same to you. Meet me tomorrow at noon in the square at the center of city alone, so we can resolve what should have been done many years ago. Bring any help or try to double cross me and I'll kill you all. Signed Battered and Broken in Brooklyn"
  1263. >There was no way that was going to be anything other than a trap
  1264. >Twilight crossed her arms
  1265. >"That pen name. Mean anything to you?"
  1266. "Can't say it does."
  1267. >"Who in the world did you piss off to make this big a grudge?"
  1268. "Who didn't I piss off. Thing is when you're in a gang, you make enemies. I sure as shit know I've made mine."
  1269. >"Anyone stand out?"
  1270. "Not off the top of my head. Certainly no one as smart and capable as to do all this."
  1271. >You racked your head but no one you could think of could possibly have done this
  1272. "I have no choice. I'll have to meet her there tomorrow."
  1273. >"Are you crazy? There's no way that it isn't a trap."
  1274. "Yes but... I can't leave my revolver."
  1275. >"We'll get a new one."
  1276. >Tear welled in your eyes
  1277. "You ain't gettin' me. The gangs gone, Rainbow's left... without my revolver I don't have any reason to keep moving forward."
  1278. >"It's that important to you?"
  1279. "Even more so than that. More than the gang, more than Rainbow... even my own life."
  1280. >"Then let me come with you."
  1281. "No way. I can't risk Sunset and Trixie."
  1282. >Twilight groaned
  1283. >"This sucks! I'm so powerless!"
  1284. "It's alright. If the worst happens, take the kids and go far away from here."
  1285. >You didn't get a single blink of sleep last night
  1286. >Not due to the stress, but because anytime you tried, a rock came hurling at you, nearly colliding with your face
  1287. >No matter where you and the group moved too, she was always there, ready to fire shots the moment you tired to sleep
  1288. >What a dirty trick
  1289. >Trying to starve your opponent of sleep
  1290. >The next day dawned and noon was fast approaching
  1291. >You steeled yourself
  1292. >But you were tired
  1293. >Dead tired
  1294. >This was going to be hard
  1295. "If I'm not back in three hours you take them and get out of here. Go to Paradis. It's the last safe haven left on this god forsaken shithole."
  1296. >Twilight bit her lip
  1297. >"Fine. You better come back."
  1298. "I will. I promise."
  1299. >You took off your hat, placing it on Sunset's head
  1300. "You take good care of this until I get back. Don't get even one drop of mud on it you understand?"
  1301. >Sunset's eyes got big and teary
  1302. >"Y-yeah."
  1303. "Good girl."
  1304. >You got up, using a fallen steel beam as a makeshift crutch and made your way to the square
  1305. >The air was still and the surroundings unusually quiet, as if the animals themselves could sense the tension in the air
  1306. >You arrived
  1307. >It was what was once a park
  1308. >The grass was brown, the trees dead and drooping and most of the benches broken
  1309. >At the center was a statue of a woman, the head missing
  1310. >Beside it was the woman who pulled you from the flames to prolong your torment
  1311. >"Afternoon sunshine. Sleep well?"
  1312. >That voice, you'd never heard it before
  1313. >The woman took of her hat
  1314. >She had long grey hair and appeared to be no more than fifteen
  1315. >You took a long hard look at her
  1316. >Her face was completely unfamiliar
  1317. >She held up your prized revolver
  1318. >"Come back for this I bet?"
  1319. "Yes. Look. I don't know what I did to make you so cross, but I'm a changed woman. The gang's dead and I'm living a new life now"
  1320. >She aimed the revolver at you and became deathly serious
  1321. >"Tell me do you remember my face?"
  1322. "I'm afraid I don't. Mind telling me what your pain is with me?"
  1323. >"Oh I'd be happy too"
  1324. >She switched the revolver to her free hand
  1325. >"My name is Limestone. Limestone Pie. You and your pathetic excuse for a gang came and shot my family. All except for me."
  1326. >She shot the ground at your feet
  1327. >You startled, dropping your crutch and falling on the ground
  1328. >"You shot Marble. And Pinkie. And Maud. And mama. And daddy. You shot them all!"
  1329. >She shot a few more shots at you
  1330. >You barely had enough time to duck behind a stone pillar to avoid them
  1331. >"Do you remember that day? Who am I kidding! Of course you don't! A selfish, evil, brutal killer like you doesn't take into account any of that!"
  1332. >She began to wildly shoot at the pillar before running out of bullets
  1333. >You remembered now
  1334. >It was a family who had built a farm
  1335. >Course that was a valuable asset for the gang
  1336. >So you raided it
  1337. >It was the first time you'd even raided
  1338. >And the first you'd killed
  1339. >You became so disgusted that you let a little four year old live
  1340. >This must've been her
  1341. "Listen. Limestone. I know I hurt ya. I know I hurt ya pretty bad. But ya gotta understand I-"
  1342. >"Oh there's absolutely nothing to understand."
  1343. >She finished reloading and pulled the hammer back
  1344. >"I'm going to kill you. And when I'm done, your little family you got going on there is next. My only regret in killing you is that you won't get to see me do it!"
  1345. >She was completely consumed with rage
  1346. >No way you were going to talk her out of this
  1347. "Then I'll have to kill you."
  1348. >"I'd like to see you try."
  1349. >She charged at the pillar and you got your rifle out, firing at her
  1350. >The bullet completely missed and she tackled you, kicking your weapon away
  1351. >"Don't worry. I'll let you live a bit longer."
  1352. >You tried to push her off
  1353. >The moment you did however, she slammed her foot right down on your ankle
  1354. >You cried in pain
  1355. >"That's right. That's right. This is just like when pinkie begged for her life. But did you spare her?"
  1356. >She stomped your ankle again
  1357. >"No!"
  1358. "Listen to me! I'm sorry! I'm changed! I ain't like that anymore!"
  1359. >"I have a choice on letting you live or die. And much like back when you and the rest of your thugs butchered my family, I'm not giving you a choice in whether you live."
  1360. >She jammed the barrel right into the side of your temple
  1361. >"Say goodbye. And remember as you go to the afterlife that your shithead friends are next in line."
  1362. >You closed your eyes tight before hearing a scream
  1363. >The gun went off right next to your ear, making it ring so much you couldn't hear a lick of what was happening
  1364. >You pushed yourself up
  1365. >It was Sunset!
  1366. >She had driven a knife right into Limestone's lower back
  1367. >Sunset grabbed the revolver and shot her foot for good measure
  1368. >She was surprisingly ruthless
  1369. >Limestone wailed in agony
  1370. >"Come on! We have to go!"
  1371. >You got up, taking your revolver with you and hobbling away as fast as you could
  1372. >You turned your head to see limestone on the ground, screaming and crying
  1373. >"I'll kill you! You hear me! I'll be back! And when I come back I'll give you this a hundred fold!"
  1374. >You hobbled a short ways to Twilight and Trixie
  1375. "I told ya not to get involved! Ya coulda gotten killed!"
  1376. >Twilight sighed
  1377. >"It was Sunset. She just wouldn't listen."
  1378. "We have to get out of here. Come on."
  1379. >"Where too?"
  1380. "I don't know. Just somewhere that isn't here."
  1381. >With Twilight's help, you made as quick an exit as possible from the city
  1382. "Sunset."
  1383. >She looked worried
  1384. >"I'm sorry! I know you said not to help but I just couldn-"
  1385. "Sunset."
  1386. >You patted her back
  1387. "I'm proud of you. I'm angry as hell at you for disobeying me. But I'm god damn proud of you."
  1388. >Sunset smiled, fighting back tears
  1389. >"Thanks. I did my best."
  1390. >meanwhile...
  1391. >days earlier
  1392. >Rainbow had just stormed out of camp
  1393. >She'd show them
  1394. >More, she'd show AJ
  1395. >They were just fine by themselves
  1396. >She didn't need her
  1397. >She could get on without her
  1398. >Especially now that she seemed to be running a charity
  1399. >She unfurled her map
  1400. >She wanted to go to the city, but she knew that would increase the likely result in them crossing paths again
  1401. >She'd have to go around, instead going too the next town over
  1402. >A suburb
  1403. >No doubt plenty of good stuff there
  1404. >She put the map back inside her coat
  1405. >Something else was there
  1406. >She pulled it out
  1407. >It was a pearl
  1408. >She remembered it well
  1409. >AJ gave that to her after a score
  1410. >She clutched it tight in her hand
  1411. >Hopefully it would give her strength
  1412. >The same way that old revolver always gave AJ strength
  1413. >As she walked she noticed something
  1414. >A hooded figure by the tree
  1415. >Rainbow pulled out her gun
  1416. >"Come out with your hands up. Very slowly."
  1417. >The figure startled, as if they were daydreaming and had been knocked back to reality
  1418. >"Wait, wait, wait!"
  1419. >She pulled her hood down with her hands up
  1420. >"Don't shoot!"
  1421. >She had blue hair in a long pony tail
  1422. >She appeared to be about 19 or 20
  1423. >"Who are you? And why are you skulking around the woods in a hood?"
  1424. >"M-m-m-my name is Sonata! Sonata Dusk! Can you help me?"
  1425. >You didn't take your finger off the trigger
  1426. >"Help you?"
  1427. >"Yes! I lost my sisters a while ago... and I can't find them! I'm terribly lost!"
  1428. >Rainbow put her gun down
  1429. >"No. I'll let you live. But get lost."
  1430. >"Please!"
  1431. >She grabbed her arm
  1432. >"I'm begging you! I have nowhere else to go!"
  1433. >"I said get lost!"
  1434. >Rainbow forcefully brushed her away and kept walking
  1435. >It didn't take long before she heard footsteps behind her
  1436. >"Ugh! Would you leave me alone already!?"
  1437. >"Come on! Please?"
  1438. >Rainbow crossed her arms
  1439. >"Fine. But only too the next town. Then we're split. Got it?"
  1440. >"Got it!"
  1441. >She skipped and bounced to her side
  1442. >"So what's your name?"
  1443. >She pulled her scarf over her face
  1444. >"Rainbow. Rainbow Dash."
  1445. >A few drops began to fall from the sky
  1446. >Like a light switch, it began to rain
  1447. >"Ugh! Damn it!"
  1448. >They ran over to the side of the road and into the tree
  1449. >No good shelter whatsoever
  1450. >She'd have to make one from scratch
  1451. >Sonata bounced a bit
  1452. >"Here! Let me help!"
  1453. >"I don't need your help."
  1454. >Sonata reached into her bag and put down what looked like a medium sized metal cylinder
  1455. >Pressing a button on it's side, it rhythmically expanded, making a small metal shelter
  1456. >Her eyes widened
  1457. >"Where in the world did you get something like that?"
  1458. >Sonata looked confused
  1459. >"Uh.... I dunno."
  1460. >"How do you not know?"
  1461. >This girl was as thick as two short planks
  1462. >A loud bolt of lightning crashed into the earth and they both rushed inside
  1463. >It was surprisingly warm
  1464. >Sonata rested her back against the side
  1465. >"So... where did you come from?"
  1466. >"The less you know about me, the better."
  1467. >She pouted
  1468. >"What's got your panties in a bunch?"
  1469. >"I'm not very trusting. A girl in a hood just appears from in the woods and needs my help to find her sisters? Not buying it for a minute."
  1470. >"But I helped you into the shelter!"
  1471. >"Out of the kindness of your heart or to lull me into a false sense of security? I guess it remains to be seen."
  1472. >To her surprise, Sonata slapped her right across the face
  1473. >"Stop being so mean! I want to help!"
  1474. >Dash growled, pulling her had over her face
  1475. >"Shut up."
  1476. >She crossed her arms, refusing to look at her
  1477. >"You are just downright unpleasant."
  1478. >"I don't recall asking for your opinion. Shut. Up."
  1479. >The storm raged outside as the two girls sat at opposite ends of the tent, trying as hard as possible to be as far as could be from one another
  1480. >It was the longest two hours either of them had even endured
  1481. >Finally the rain let up and they made their way forward
  1482. >The tent went down with another flick of a switch
  1483. >Truly an amazing piece of tech
  1484. >Rainbow would have killed her for it had she still been with the gang
  1485. >But she wanted to put that life behind her
  1486. >All of it
  1487. >Rainbow turned her head to the side, watching the city pass
  1488. >It was hardly much of a city anymore
  1489. >More a crumbling scrap heap
  1490. >They walked until nightfall, hitting the edge of the city just as the sun began to dip below the clouds
  1491. >Neither of them had talked once
  1492. >Lucky for them, there was an old, abandoned chapel there, sitting right beside a graveyard
  1493. >It was surrounded by a tall iron spiked fence
  1494. >The chapel itself seemed relatively untouched
  1495. >It's pain was chipped and a few windows had cracks
  1496. >But other than that it looked the same way it'd been left in
  1497. >They walked inside, Rainbow setting up a sleeping bag on one of the pews while Sonata took the bed in the side room
  1498. >Not that it was much more comfortable than Rainbow's sleeping arrangement anyway
  1499. >The mattress seemed like it'd fall apart any second
  1500. >Sonata sat on the stage and whispered quietly
  1501. >"So.."
  1502. >"Whatever it is, I don't care."
  1503. >"I'm not talking to you!"
  1504. >She held up a rock with a crudely drawn face on it
  1505. >"I'm talking too boulder!"
  1506. >Rainbow cocked her eyebrow
  1507. >"Too boulder?"
  1508. >"That's right! At least he has some common respect and decency!"
  1509. >Rainbow curled up in her bag, scoffing at her
  1510. >"You know maybe I was wrong. You don't seem smart enough to find your way out of a paper bag, much less rob me while I sleep."
  1511. >Sonata clenched her fists
  1512. >"Shut up! You big dumb meany!"
  1513. >"You shut up! You brain dead dolt!"
  1514. >That's when Dash heard sniffling
  1515. >"I-It's not like I asked to be this way ya know. Y-you're just like Aria!"
  1516. >She began to wail and cry
  1517. >Dash had really done it now
  1518. >She cursed herself
  1519. >"Knew this was a bad idea."
  1520. >She got up and walked to the crying girl
  1521. >"There, there. I didn't mean it."
  1522. >"Yes you did! J-Just like Aria!"
  1523. >Rainbow sat beside her
  1524. >"Look. I'm only going to say this once."
  1525. >She paused
  1526. >"I'm sorry."
  1527. >Sonata titled her head
  1528. >"What?"
  1529. >"I said I'm sorry."
  1530. >"Speak up. I can't hear you!"
  1531. >"I SAID I'M SORRY!"
  1532. >Sonata's frown quickly turned around
  1533. >"It's ok! I'm sorry too. I didn't mean to call you a big dumb meany."
  1534. >Rainbow hated to admit it
  1535. >But she was oddly charming
  1536. >"Well now that we got that out of the way, I'm going to bed."
  1537. >She crawled into her sleeping bag
  1538. >"U-um... Dash?"
  1539. >"What?"
  1540. >"Can you read me a story? Adagio always read me stories to help me fall asleep."
  1541. >Rainbow glared
  1542. >"No."
  1543. >"Please?"
  1544. >"No."
  1545. >"Pleeeeease?"
  1546. >She sighed
  1547. >"If it'll get you to shut up for five minutes, fine."
  1548. >She smiled
  1549. >"Yay!"
  1550. >Rainbow sat up in her bag
  1551. >If only AJ was here
  1552. >She'd be able to read from one of those books she always looked at
  1553. >Too bad Rainbow never learned to read
  1554. >She wasn't particularly creative either
  1555. >She cleared her throat
  1556. >"There once was an evil dragon... and um... she captured a princess. The king sent a knight to rescue her. He defeated the dragon and saved the day. The end."
  1557. >Sonata pouted
  1558. >"That was a terrible story!"
  1559. >"Beggars can't be choosers"
  1560. >"Tell me another! But make it good this time!"
  1561. >Rainbow put her hand to her face
  1562. >"Fine"
  1563. >She told eight different variations of that story until it was finally to Sonata's liking
  1564. >It was strange
  1565. >Normally she wouldn't even stand for one
  1566. >But for someone reason, she was fairly calm through the entire thing
  1567. >"Goodnight, Rainbow Dash!"
  1568. >"Goodnight"
  1569. >Finally some rest
  1570. >The next she woke up, Sonata was missing
  1571. >Finally
  1572. >Maybe she'd run off
  1573. >Or hopefully eaten by wolves
  1574. >Rainbow packed up her sleeping bag and went outside the chapel
  1575. >There in the graveyard, Sonata sat beside a hedge stone
  1576. >She went to investigate
  1577. >Sonata's cheeks were red and puffy
  1578. >She'd been crying
  1579. >"What are you doing out here all by yourself?"
  1580. >She pointed to the stone cross
  1581. >Rainbow blushed
  1582. >"I'm sorry. I don't know what that says. I can't read"
  1583. >"It's my sisters! This one's Adagio."
  1584. >She pointed to the one beside the cross
  1585. >It was a grey stone block
  1586. >"And that one's Aria! When you found me yesterday I was tryna find some food and good lost."
  1587. >Rainbow's heart broke a bit inside
  1588. >"How long have you been here?"
  1589. >She shrugged
  1590. >"I dunno. Long time. I don't remember much. But when the big boom happened, everyone got really scared. They went into the chapel and did bad stuff..."
  1591. >Rainbow sighed
  1592. >"Do you want to travel with me?"
  1593. >Her eyes lit up
  1594. >"Yes, yes, yes!"
  1595. >"You can. On two conditions: 1. you do exactly what I say and 2. you don't get in my way when I'm doing stuff."
  1596. >She smiled
  1597. >"Ok! I can do that!"
  1598. >"Well then let's pack up."
  1599. >With a bit of help from Rainbow, Sonata got everything she needed packed in her small bag
  1600. >That self making tent was going to be a huge asset
  1601. >Before departing, Sonata went to the stones one last time, placing too roses on each
  1602. >"By Adagio! By Aria! I'm going to see the world with this really nice lady! I promise I'll be good just like you told me too Adagio. She was mean at first but... but..."
  1603. >Sonata began to shake a bit and tears fell down her face
  1604. >Rainbow walked over and hugged her tight
  1605. >She sobbed long and hard
  1606. >"Why did this happen? I miss them."
  1607. >"I don't know Sonata. I don't know."
  1608. >Meanwhile, AJ and gang were heading out to a still undecided location
  1609. >And were getting completely lost as a result
  1610. >You sighed
  1611. "I really wish Rainbow didn't take her map with her. I can't make hide nor hair or where we are."
  1612. >Sunset groaned, fixing your hat atop her head
  1613. >"There's got to be some way to another town!"
  1614. >Twilight shrugged
  1615. >"I don't know why you all are so worried. We have plenty of food."
  1616. "Yeah but we're open. Look."
  1617. >The city had given way to open field
  1618. >"We should head back to the road then."
  1619. "Not a good idea. It's a prime hot spot for robberies."
  1620. >"Suppose you'd be the expert on that wouldn't you?"
  1621. "I know a thing or two yes."
  1622. >Twilight stopped you
  1623. >"Look. See that?"
  1624. >She pointed to the sky
  1625. >A large cloud of smoke
  1626. "A campfire by the looks of it"
  1627. >"Right. Should we investigate?"
  1628. "Course not. It's best to assume that people are hostile."
  1629. >"What if they have a map? And weapons?"
  1630. >You thought about it for a moment
  1631. "We'll get closer. See the numbers."
  1632. >"Got it."
  1633. >Sunset got excited
  1634. >"Oh, Oh! can I come?"
  1635. "No way missy. While I'm impressed with what you did back in the city, you need to protect Trixie."
  1636. >Trixie huffed
  1637. >"I don't need protection!"
  1638. "I ain't arguin' with y'all about it. You'll stay a little ways out from camp. You need to protect her."
  1639. >Sunset crossed her arms and pouted
  1640. >"Fine!"
  1641. >You all made your way towards the source of the smoke
  1642. >Leaving the kids about 50 feet away behind some rocks, you and Twi got close to inspect
  1643. >Something wasn't right
  1644. >Neither of you could hear anything
  1645. >It was quiet, save for the sound of the fire
  1646. >You peaked from behind a large rock on a hill
  1647. >Twilight vomited and you gasped
  1648. >It was a massacre
  1649. >10 bodies, each mutilated almost beyond recognition
  1650. >You stepped down from the hill, revolver at the ready
  1651. "What the hell..."
  1652. >You looked back to Twi, still behind the rock
  1653. "Was it those cannibals who did this?"
  1654. >"I couldn't have been. They don't venture this far and even then I've never seen them do anything like this."
  1655. >The smell was horrendous
  1656. >These bodies were old, a week at least
  1657. >You plugged your nose
  1658. >You still had to a job to do
  1659. >You looked around the camp for valuables
  1660. >It only got stranger
  1661. >nothing seemed to be taken
  1662. >This was no robbery
  1663. >You recovered two revolvers, blood soaked, a couple of different maps, and a torn out journal page
  1664. >You opened it
  1665. >'I told them this was a bad idea but they wouldn't listen. They're watching us, taunting us. This is their sacred ground and they butcher anyone who comes here. I don't care if there's gold. We shouldn't be here.'
  1666. >You lifted your head from the page and felt chills run down your spine
  1667. >From behind a bush in the distance you could see a pair of angry looking eyes staring back at you
  1668. >You walked back to Twilight
  1669. "We need to leave. Now."
  1670. >"What's wrong?"
  1671. "I'll explain on the way. We can't stay here for a second more. We're in danger."
  1672. >You hurriedly walked back too the girls, picking up Trixie
  1673. "Come on. We need to leave."
  1674. >The group barely kept pace with you
  1675. >"Applejack what's wrong?"
  1676. "There's a group here and they see this as sacred ground. That's why they butchered those fellas back there."
  1677. >You looked to the side
  1678. >Again, another pair of eyes
  1679. >You looked to the other side
  1680. >More eyes
  1681. >Your heart beat quickened
  1682. >You were surrounded
  1683. "Whatever you do, touch nothing. We go until we leave this area. Don't even remove the rocks."
  1684. >Twilight nodded
  1685. >The terrain began to change
  1686. >Large cliffs and rocks were becoming more common
  1687. >They were getting bolder
  1688. >About three hours into the walk there were a group of three of them on a boulder, all with bows and arrows
  1689. >You could feel their angry stares from here
  1690. >Sunset kept close to you
  1691. >"What do they want?"
  1692. "Don't worry. They won't attack us so long as we don't disturb their land. Just keep moving and don't touch nothin."
  1693. >Your assumption, unfortunately, was incorrect
  1694. >Only a hour down that way, the same three on the rock stood blocking your path
  1695. >The one in the middle stepped forward
  1696. >He was a strong, well built man and worse a crown of sticks and leaves
  1697. >"Explain yourselves strangers. Why are you here?"
  1698. "We're just passing through. We mean you now harm."
  1699. >"So said the last group. And the ones before them."
  1700. "Please let us pass. You can watch us the whole way if you wanna. No one needs to get hurt."
  1701. >He lifted up his bow
  1702. >"I'm afraid we can't let you do that."
  1703. >The other two lifted their bows as well
  1704. >"We gonna get 'em Sombra?"
  1705. >"On my mark."
  1706. >You reach for your gun but before you could and arrow struck through your arm
  1707. >You cried in pain
  1708. >A dozen more popped up from the bushes
  1709. >With surgical proficiency, one arrow landed on each of your friends
  1710. >Trixie cried loudly as the arrow went straight through her knee
  1711. >You used your good hand to reach for your revolver, firing several shots
  1712. >All of a sudden your vision doubled and you could hardly stand
  1713. >In a few seconds everything went black
  1714. >The next you woke up, you were in a cage, your arms strung to the roof by rope
  1715. >Everything had been removed from you
  1716. >Everything but your bra and underwear
  1717. >You looked beside you
  1718. >No other cages, just you
  1719. >You seemed to be in some sort of cave
  1720. >You heard footsteps coming
  1721. >You played dead, hoping to eavesdrop
  1722. >"So, how are the prisoners doing?"
  1723. >"The stupid kids won't shut the hell up. The purple haired one won't say a word. Nothing the ole thumb screw won't fix."
  1724. >"What about the blonde?"
  1725. >"We're checking on her next. Seems the poison stayed in her system longer than expected. If you ask me, I think we should've just killed them. But Sombra says no."
  1726. >The two voices came your cage
  1727. >One of them kicked it hard, causing you to jump
  1728. >You stared up at your captors
  1729. >Two women
  1730. >"Morning sunshine. My name's Lyra Heartstrings. this is Bonbon. We're going to get well acquainted."
  1731. "What do you want?"
  1732. >"Oh it's simple. We just want to know what you're doing on Eagle Feather land."
  1733. "I already told ya. We was just passin' through."
  1734. >"Gee where have I heard that before? Oh yeah: every other no good outsider who wants to defile our sacred land for gold."
  1735. "I don't need any god damn gold! I was tryna get to the next town over!"
  1736. >Lyra snickered
  1737. >"Liar, liar pants on fire. Guess we'll need to give the thumb screw."
  1738. >A loud, blood curdling echoed through the cave
  1739. >Twilight
  1740. >"Ah you hear that? Sounds like your partner is getting that treatment herself."
  1741. >You struggled against your bonds
  1742. "Let me go!"
  1743. >"Afraid I can't do that. Bonbon. Would you please?"
  1744. >The other girl got a sinister smile
  1745. >"Be my pleasure."
  1746. >Bon left for a moment, coming back with a three pronged metal device
  1747. >She put the fingers of your left hand in between the metal plates and tightened it nice and tight
  1748. >Bonbon smiled
  1749. >"Now tell us. Were you here for the gold?"
  1750. "No!"
  1751. >Bonbon tightened it further, bringing a shooting pain down your hand
  1752. >"Were you here for the gold?"
  1753. "I said no!"
  1754. >She tightened down even harder
  1755. >You fingers felt like they were back to break
  1756. >"Were you here for the gold? Lie again and I break your fingers."
  1757. >You stared her directly in the eye
  1758. "Fuck. You."
  1759. >Bonbon laughed
  1760. >"Feisty one. My favorite."
  1761. >She tightened it again and a loud snap rang
  1762. >You screamed loudly
  1763. >"See? This is what liars get. Are you here for the gold?"
  1764. >Your bravado quickly vanished
  1765. "Yes."
  1766. >"See? Was that so hard?"
  1767. >To your horror, she tightened it again on your already broken fingers
  1768. >The pain was unbearable
  1769. >You screamed and struggled
  1770. >"You know what the punishment for what you've done is?"
  1771. >You gasped for breath
  1772. >The pain was so intense you could barely form thoughts
  1773. "N... No."
  1774. >"Death of course. But... not before I have a little fun first. What should we do next? Should I rip each nail off one by one? Oh or maybe I should put you on the rack to have your limbs dislocated. So many choices."
  1775. "I gave you what you want just stop!"
  1776. >All of a sudden someone rushed in
  1777. >"Bonbon! Lyra! We've got a problem out here. We need your help!"
  1778. >"What is it? Can't you see I'm interrogating a prisoner right now?"
  1779. >"It's bad! A gang is here. Says we have somethin' that belongs to them. There must be at least 40 of 'em. They got rifles too! They're mowin us down!"
  1780. >"Fine"
  1781. >Bonbon looked back at you
  1782. >"Sit tight. I'll be right back"
  1783. >They ran out
  1784. >You could hear the gunfire
  1785. >Whoever was out there was armed to teeth
  1786. >Now was your only chance to get out
  1787. >But how
  1788. >You looked around
  1789. >Lucky day
  1790. >There was a key sitting on the bench
  1791. >One of them must have left it in the commotion
  1792. >Now all to do was get it
  1793. >There was only one way
  1794. >You rocked back and forth until the cage fell forward
  1795. >You were going to have roll it there
  1796. >You took a deep breath
  1797. >This was going to hurt like hell
  1798. >You rocked again, putting the cage upside down
  1799. >All of your weight went straight on your fingers
  1800. >You bit your tongue so hard it bled to keep from screaming
  1801. >With another few rolls you made it
  1802. >Now for the hard part
  1803. >You pushed your foot out of the cage, just barely managing to get the key around your toe
  1804. >You had to hurry
  1805. >The gun shots were getting closer
  1806. >You bent a bit, using the key around your toe to cut the rope
  1807. >It was a good thing you were so flexible
  1808. >And your core was so good
  1809. >With your hands freed, you unlocked the cage door and climbed out
  1810. >Now to find your gear and get the others
  1811. >The cave was a maze of pathways and caverns
  1812. >You'd never find anything at this rate
  1813. >You kept searching and found a box in one of the rooms
  1814. >You opened it
  1815. >Jackpot
  1816. >It was all your gear, completely untouched
  1817. >You only got your own, being sure to get the extra revolvers
  1818. >You'd have to come back for the rest
  1819. >You went through cavern after cavern but couldn't find hide nor hair of your friends
  1820. >Until you heard a whisper
  1821. >It was Trixie
  1822. >"Applejack? Applejack is that you?"
  1823. "Yes it's me."
  1824. >"Help! Get me out! Please!"
  1825. "Shhh. It's ok. I'll get you out. You gotta keep quiet though ok?"
  1826. >"o-ok."
  1827. >You tried the key you had with you
  1828. >Perfect
  1829. >It seemed to be a master key
  1830. "Any idea where the others are?"
  1831. >"Sunset is over there! About fifteen feet away. Twilight is directly behind that wall."
  1832. "Thanks Trixie. Can you walk?"
  1833. >She shook her head.
  1834. >"My leg hurts real bad."
  1835. >You hoisted her on her back
  1836. "Come on. Lets got rescue the rest. Did they harm you in any way?"
  1837. >"No. They just yelled at me a lot."
  1838. >That was a relief
  1839. >You ran down a few corridors locating Sunset's cell
  1840. >She too had been unharmed
  1841. >You gave Sunset one of the revolvers
  1842. "Alright Sunset. I'm countin on you. Stay close."
  1843. >"Right. I won't let you down miss Applejack!"
  1844. >After another short run through some corridors, you found Twilight
  1845. >She was far more worse for ware
  1846. >She had large, deep slash marks all over her body and all but on of her nails had been ripped out
  1847. >She was just slumped there
  1848. >You listened closely
  1849. >Thankfully she was still breathing
  1850. >But it was faint and weak
  1851. >Twilight was near death
  1852. "Don't worry Twilight. We'll get you help soon."
  1853. >Sunset gasped
  1854. >"She's going to be ok right?"
  1855. "Course she is."
  1856. >"That's quite enough."
  1857. >You heard the sound of a hammer being pulled back
  1858. >It was the same man as before
  1859. >Sombra
  1860. >He had a revolver aimed at you
  1861. >He was clutching his side
  1862. >A bullet had grazed him
  1863. >"I don't know what the hell you did but you're gonna pay for it."
  1864. "I didn't do anythin."
  1865. >"That crazy bitch outside keeps yellin' for you and Rainbow Dash. Sayin' you belong to her and she doesn't like her things stolen."
  1866. >Talk about jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire
  1867. "Listen. She ain't my friend. She's tryin to kill me."
  1868. >"Well then allow me to assist."
  1869. >You closed your eyes and heard a gun shot
  1870. >When you opened your eyes, you were surprised to find you and your friends uninjured
  1871. >Sombra lay on the floor, a huge hole in his head
  1872. >Sunset screamed
  1873. >Rarity stepped out of the shadows, her silk dress caked in blood
  1874. >"Sorry. That's my kill."
  1875. >She blew on her barrel
  1876. >"Haven't found Rainbow I see."
  1877. "Rainbow's gone Rarity. She left because I was recruiting too many people."
  1878. >"Is that a fact? Well that complicates things. No matter."
  1879. >She pulled the hammer back
  1880. >"For the crime of not killing that traitor Rainbow Dash, I sentence you to death."
  1881. "Rarity! This isn't like you! You don't need to do this! We used to be sisters!"
  1882. >"The Rarity you knew then is dead. Died with her real sister. You know I have a better idea. I have someone who'd been dyin' to meet you again."
  1883. >A figure emerged from behind her
  1884. >Limestone
  1885. >"You should have heard this poor things story."
  1886. >She smirked
  1887. >"Mere minutes after I arrived in a city, the poor thing was laying in a pool of her own blood. She explained to me how you and your bastard child there tried to kill her."
  1888. >Limestone smiled
  1889. >"I thought I was a goner. Thank goodness for Rarity."
  1890. >You glared
  1891. "Yeah. Thank goodness."
  1892. >"After you Limestone. Far be it from me to take what's rightfully yours."
  1893. >She cracked her knuckles, pulling out a knife
  1894. >"With pleasure. I'll start with teaching that girl of hers some manners."
  1895. >You pointed your revolver at her, only to have Rarity return the gesture
  1896. >"Ah, ah, ah, Applejack. Didn't anyone ever teach you it's not nice to point weapons at people?"
  1897. >This was really bad
  1898. >Rarity would kill you without a single thought
  1899. >But you couldn't just let Limestone have her way with Sunset
  1900. "Limestone you can't do this. You'll be no better than me."
  1901. >"That's a price I'm willing to pay."
  1902. >Limestone began to inch further when suddenly the entire cave began to rumble
  1903. >It was as if there had been an earth quake
  1904. >Another tremor, even more violent this time
  1905. >Rarity shouted to one of her compatriots
  1906. >"Check what's going on out there."
  1907. >In a few minutes someone ran back in
  1908. >"M'am! A train! It's a train?"
  1909. >She cocked her eyebrow
  1910. >"A train?"
  1911. >"You'll never believe it! It's covered in armor and has massive canons! It's like a fortress. It's firing us from at least a mile away!"
  1912. >She crossed her arms
  1913. >"Limestone can you handle this on your own?"
  1914. >"Yes m'am."
  1915. >"Good. I'll go check on this train."
  1916. >"Now where was I?"
  1917. >Three rapid deep bombs were heard and the ground violently shook
  1918. >With your usual quickness, you tackled Limestone
  1919. >With one well place punch you knocked her out cold
  1920. "We have to get out of her right now."
  1921. >You undid Twilight's bindings and slung her over your shoulder
  1922. >She was in bad shape
  1923. >You could barely hear her breathing
  1924. >You went back to the stash of your goods, grabbing what you were able to carry, and trying to quietly make your way out
  1925. >No good
  1926. >There was an entire line of Rarity's goons at the mouth of he cave
  1927. >No way you were going to shoot your way out of this
  1928. >You just had to hope you got lucky
  1929. >Another loud boom rang from the train's cannon's making large craters in ground
  1930. >Rarity ran into the line
  1931. >"I want you all to charge that train. We have to get it to stop firing."
  1932. >The line dispersed
  1933. >Now was your chance
  1934. >You ran as quickly as you could with Twilight on your back
  1935. >Once you got a good distance away, you set Twilight down behind a rock
  1936. >You put your broken fingers in a splint
  1937. >Now was the hard part
  1938. >You didn't know one thing about medical treatment
  1939. >You didn't have gauze or clean water or anything
  1940. >Not to mention she was still nearly nude
  1941. >If she was left like this she'd die for sure
  1942. >You looked through Twilight's bag
  1943. >Jackpot
  1944. >A first aid kit and a medical guide
  1945. "Sunset. I want you to listen very carefully. You understand me?"
  1946. >She nodded
  1947. >"What do you need?"
  1948. "I need you to go and find me some fresh, clean water and put it in this here bowl and bring it back. Fast as you can without spilling. Got it?"
  1949. >"Got it!"
  1950. >You gave her your revolver
  1951. "Take this. Use it only if you have too."
  1952. >"Right!"
  1953. >Sunset ran off and you turned to Trixie
  1954. "Trixie."
  1955. >"Y-yeah?"
  1956. "If Twilight wakes up while I'm doin the fixing her up, I need you to talk her down. Keep her as relaxed as you can."
  1957. >"I'll do my best!"
  1958. "Good girl."
  1959. >You read through as much of the manual as you could before Sunny came back with some water
  1960. >You took a deep breath
  1961. "Ok. Here we go."
  1962. >You put a broke piece of wood in her mouth and began to clean her wounds
  1963. >You got out some needle and twine
  1964. "It's just like sewing. Just like sewing."
  1965. >You pulled the first line through one of her cuts
  1966. >At first everything was going perfectly
  1967. >You closed three of her wounds with another four remaining
  1968. >But then, at the start of the fourth, she woke up
  1969. >She let out a loud yell and began to struggle
  1970. >"Sunset! Hold her down!"
  1971. >Sunset did the best she could
  1972. >She held down one of her arms while she swung about
  1973. >You got on top of her, your weight keeping her down
  1974. >You put the wood back in her mouth
  1975. "I'm sorry Twilight. This is gunna hurt like hell but ya need ta stay still for me."
  1976. >She made muffled screams through the wood
  1977. "Here we go."
  1978. >You started on the next wound
  1979. >Twi bit down on the bark hard, tears pouring down her face as your pulled the cut closed
  1980. >Her chest was moving up and down rapidly
  1981. "Deep breaths. We're nearly there."
  1982. >You washed your tools going through the last of the cuts
  1983. >Finally, they were all stitched
  1984. >You wrapped them up and fell on your back, gasping for breath
  1985. >Felt like you had been going full steam for the past 24 hours
  1986. >Twilight lay on the ground, curled in a tight ball
  1987. "How are you girls doin-"
  1988. >Poor things
  1989. >They'd literally collapsed from exhaustion
  1990. >They'd certainly earned the rest
  1991. >You looked at your bruised and broken fingers, held in place by two sticks
  1992. >Your ankle hadn't even healed yet
  1993. >You wondered how Rainbow was fairing right now
  1994. >Probably much better than you were
  1995. >Maybe she was right about it better being just them
  1996. >And what was with that train?
  1997. >You didn't even realize there were tracks
  1998. >You sighed
  1999. >You couldn't worry much about it now
  2000. >Your eyes were heavy and your limbs felt as though they were made of solid concrete
  2001. >You didn't even have the energy to pull your sleeping bag out
  2002. >You closed your eyes and within seconds you were asleep
  2003. >Meanwhile, Rainbow and Sonata were continuing there way too the suburbs
  2004. >Using the maps, they spotted some train tracks that would lead them directly there
  2005. >Sonata was incessantly asking questions
  2006. >"Where were you born?"
  2007. >"I don't know."
  2008. >"What do you wanna be when you grow up?"
  2009. >"Nothing."
  2010. >"What's your favorite color?"
  2011. >"Red."
  2012. >"Favorite food?"
  2013. >"SONATA!"
  2014. >She let out an eep
  2015. >"Sorry. Can we just... be quiet for a bit?"
  2016. >"But that's so boring!"
  2017. >"Fine. You can ask me one question every 30 minutes."
  2018. >"30 minutes!? But that's forever!"
  2019. >"I'll make it 40 if you keep talking."
  2020. >"But-"
  2021. >"50."
  2022. >She grumbled and stayed quiet
  2023. >It took some time, they were finally nearing the suburbs
  2024. >Near the train station they were surprised to find a train
  2025. >A functional one
  2026. >With heavily armed people
  2027. >They were all in suits except for one
  2028. >A woman in a long white dress with a cane
  2029. >Rainbow pulled Sonata behind a large rock
  2030. >"Stay quiet. Something isn't right."
  2031. >She listened in on them
  2032. >The woman in the dress spoke
  2033. >"Today is a glorious day my friends. Today is the day we reclaim the land from those vile Eagle Feathers. For too long they have denied the existence of the White Sun. For too long they have guarded that large patch of dirt, claiming a false god sees too it. For too long they have ignored every attempt at peace we've made too them. Well. Today is the day that those savages learn the glory of the White Sun."
  2034. >The crowd cheered
  2035. >"As prophet of our Lord, I, Celestia, shall lead the charge. Remember. No quarter. No mercy."
  2036. >"Yes Lady Celestia!"
  2037. >They all began to load up inside the train
  2038. >She peaked out to get a better look at it
  2039. >It was no joke
  2040. >Four turrets with mounted cannons and another 3 turrets with heavy machine guns
  2041. >Rainbow couldn't wrap her head around it
  2042. >How in the world did they manage something like this
  2043. >Sonata poked her head out
  2044. >"Ohhh! That's so cool!"
  2045. >Rainbow yanked her down by her collar
  2046. >"Sonata you idiot!"
  2047. >One of them shouted
  2048. >"I heard something!"
  2049. >"There! There's someone behind that rock!"
  2050. >Within seconds, a large group women, the one they called Celestia with them
  2051. >"Well what do we have here? Are you Eagle Feathers by any chance?"
  2052. >Rainbow shook her head
  2053. >"I have no idea what that is."
  2054. >One of them nodded
  2055. >"Look. Neither of them have the markings. They couldn't be."
  2056. >"Well then. Allow us to welcome you into our sacred order. Cooperate and you will not be harmed."
  2057. >"We don't mean any trouble. We just want to get going."
  2058. >"Nonsense. It is our duty to help those in need. Should we find you have no sinister motive, we'll assist you on your mission."
  2059. >"Assist us?"
  2060. >"Of course. We have supplies to spare. It wouldn't be right of us to let you go without a little generosity."
  2061. >"That's very kind but-"
  2062. >"Please don't make this difficult. You're coming with us whether you like it or not. So please. I'd rather you came willingly."
  2063. >"Guess I don't really have much choice."
  2064. >"Excellent. I knew you'd see it my way uh... what was your name?"
  2065. >"Rainbow Dash. And that's Sonata."
  2066. >"Hi Celestia!"
  2067. >One of the members got angry
  2068. >"That's Lady of the Sun to you!"
  2069. >"Relax. I take no offense. In fact I rather like this one. Wallflower Blush."
  2070. >"Yes M'am!"
  2071. >"Please see too it they both have sleeping arrangements in Tower 7. Let Lady Love see them in my absence."
  2072. >"Yes m'am!"
  2073. >Wallflower gestured down into the suburbs
  2074. >"This way please."
  2075. >They followed Wallflower to their destination
  2076. >Rainbow felt uneasy
  2077. >She wanted to keep moving
  2078. >Whatever was going on here, she wanted no part of it
  2079. >Sonata of course was amazed
  2080. >You followed her into the suburbs
  2081. >Sure enough, towards the center, there were seven towers, each with their number sprayed on them
  2082. >They obviously were not relics of the old world
  2083. >In fact they looked down right pristine
  2084. >"Excuse me. Wallflower was it?"
  2085. >"Yes?"
  2086. >"Where did those towers come from?"
  2087. >"Why they were gifts given to us by the Sun Goddess of course!"
  2088. >"The Sun Goddess?"
  2089. >"Yes. She has given us wealth and prosperity. While the rest of the world around us crumbles to ash, we go prosper. Through her divine grace we even have electricity!"
  2090. >Something definitely wasn't right about this place
  2091. >Sonata's eyes sparkled
  2092. >"That's amazing!"
  2093. >"You should stay with us. I can assure you that there is no better place than here."
  2094. >"Yeah. I'm sure"
  2095. >They walked through near empty streets until approaching the tower
  2096. >It was at least 10 stories tall
  2097. >The inside was even more impressive
  2098. >There was a perfectly neat and shining tile floor and the ceiling had working lights
  2099. >It was exactly how Wind Rider described the old world to be
  2100. >They walked to a desk where a woman sat organizing papers
  2101. >"These new girls are set to be give sleeping arrangements in this tower while they await a meeting with the Lady of Love. Lady of the Sun's orders."
  2102. >Without saying a word, she just nodded and handed Wallflower a slip of paper
  2103. >It had two letters and two numbers designating their rooms
  2104. >Sonata was on the fifth floor while Rainbow was on the eighth
  2105. >Sonata went to her room first
  2106. >As dash opened the door to her room, Wallflower grabbed her arm tightly, so tight it hurt
  2107. >"Whatever you do, accept nothing she gives. Do not let her grant you wish. Answer only with yes or no. leave as soon as possible. And above all don't trust her."
  2108. >With that she hurriedly left
  2109. >Rainbow stared wide eyed and walked into the room
  2110. >She realized something had been slipped in her pockets
  2111. >It was a message
  2112. >She unfurled the paper and it read only one thing
  2113. >"Leave before it's too late. This place is a lie."
  2114. >Meanwhile, you and your group were not fairing so well
  2115. >Twilight's wounds may have been stitched up, but she had barely moved in two days
  2116. >She groaned a lot and only got up when she needed to use the restroom
  2117. >Other than that she simply lay on her sleeping bag
  2118. >She hardly spoke a word
  2119. >You took shifts with Sunset caring for her
  2120. >It was looking bad
  2121. >You were worried she wasn't going to make it out of this
  2122. >It was mid afternoon and you were out of water
  2123. "Sunset you keep watch. I'm gunna go out for some water?"
  2124. >"Alright miss Applejack."
  2125. >There was a stream conveniently close nearby
  2126. >As you approached you saw something
  2127. >Someone in a long brown coat and a wide brimmed hat
  2128. >You couldn't believe your eyes
  2129. >You knew that outfit anywhere
  2130. "If my eyes don't deceive me. Vapor Trail!"
  2131. >She turned, the same stupid smile she always wore
  2132. >"The one and only. Was wondering when you'd venture out."
  2133. "How'd you escape? I thought..."
  2134. >You looked down, remembering the night
  2135. "I thought ya died."
  2136. >"Almost."
  2137. >She unbuttoned her shirt and showed you her belly
  2138. >A nice round scar was there just below her supple breasts
  2139. "How in the hay did you survive?"
  2140. >"It's quite a funny story. After Rarity shot me for being a quote unquote traitor, she ran to deal with Rainbow. That's when Moon Dancer came and picked me up."
  2141. "Are you serious? I thought Moon Dancer was one of Rarity's biggest lackeys."
  2142. >"She was. Until she saw me get shot. That's when it finally clicked with her that Rarity was just as crazy as Wind Rider."
  2143. >You sighed
  2144. "What happened then? On the raid? Why'd he do that? I always remember Rider being such a gentle man."
  2145. >"You were standing guard weren't you? It was horrible. We was told that there was going to be gold there. Underneath that orphanage."
  2146. >She sat down
  2147. >"Well turns out there was no gold there. So he killed all of 'em. Didn't even think twice about it."
  2148. >You shook your head
  2149. "That's horrific. I just don't understand what broke him. He was always so kind, so loving."
  2150. >"I don't either. It really is heart breaking."
  2151. "So what happened to Moon Dancer?"
  2152. >She looked down
  2153. >"She wasn't as lucky as I was. We was crossing a bridge a few weeks back, one that was over a huge canyon. She stepped on one of the steps and fell right through. It all happened so fast I barely new what was happenin."
  2154. "That's a shame. Even though she was supportin' Rarity she was genuinely kind at heart. She really shouldn't have been apart of the gang to start with."
  2155. >"You're right. What about Rainbow? How's she gettin along?"
  2156. "Left in a fit of rage over somethin' petty if you can believe it."
  2157. >She chuckled
  2158. >"Yeah that sounds about right. Oh! I nearly forgot."
  2159. >She began to reach around in her satchel, pulling out a golden embroided envelope, handing it to you
  2160. >You couldn't believe the name on the corner
  2161. "This... This can't be right. The person who gave this to you was called Pear Butter? Tall, curly red hair, freckles?"
  2162. >"The very same one."
  2163. "How... I don't understand... I saw her die right in front of me. She took a bullet right through the center of her chest. That... that can't be."
  2164. >"Trust me. It was her."
  2165. "How in the world did you meet her?"
  2166. >"It wasn't long after Moondancer passed. I was out of hope. She found me on the side of the rode, my shot gun wedged between my teeth and she talked me out of it. She said all she needed in return was for me to give you this letter if I ever found ya. So I tracked you down."
  2167. >You reached and gave her a huge hug
  2168. "Thank you."
  2169. >She giggled and embraced back
  2170. >"Don't mention it."
  2171. "Join us. We could use another gun around."
  2172. >"I'd be happy too. What's your group like?"
  2173. "Two children and a doctor. However the doctor ain't doin so well. We got caught by some band of thugs."
  2174. >"We best hurry back then."
  2175. >You reached down and lifted a bucket of water out
  2176. "You wouldn't happen to know any medical science would ya?"
  2177. >"Can't say I do. Hell I hardly know first aid."
  2178. >You both rushed back to camp
  2179. >Trixie looked up cruiously
  2180. >"I hear someone new."
  2181. >Sunset looked curious
  2182. >"Who's she?"
  2183. "An old friend. Trust me. Two of ya are gonna like her. She's got a heart of gold."
  2184. >"Oh Applejack stop you're making me blush."
  2185. "How's Twilight doin?"
  2186. >Sunset squatted down
  2187. >"Better. She's talking again."
  2188. >You sat by twilight with your water bucket
  2189. "Twilight? How're ya doin?"
  2190. >She wheezed a bit
  2191. >Her breathing sounded labored and forced
  2192. >"Not well. I feel like someone just dropped me off the side of a mountain. My entire body hurts."
  2193. "At least you're doing better. Here."
  2194. >You filled up her canteen and gave it to her
  2195. "Drink up."
  2196. >Twilight took it and chugged down the water as if she'd been in the desert for three days
  2197. "We'll say here as long as we gotta."
  2198. >"Hopefully that's not much long-"
  2199. >Before she could finish her sentence, Twilight began going into a coughing fit
  2200. "Save it. You just focus on restin up. We'll worry 'bout the rest"
  2201. >Vapor sat down by Trixie
  2202. >"What's your name sweetheart?"
  2203. >"Trixie!"
  2204. >"That's a lovely name. And yours?"
  2205. >Sunset crossed her arms and scoffed
  2206. >"What's it to you?"
  2207. "Don't mind her, she's just a brat around new people"
  2208. >"Am not!"
  2209. >Vapor began cleaning her shotgun
  2210. >"You going to read the letter?"
  2211. "I want ta... but I'm nervous."
  2212. >"Don't be."
  2213. >You sat down and looked at the letter
  2214. >Your mother
  2215. >Killed when you were a child or so you thought
  2216. >Now after all these years
  2217. >You open the letter
  2218. >"My dearest daughter. I've written this out several times. I don't know if you're still around. But if you are I hope this letter finds you one day. I'm heading to North Star. It's said to be the one bastion in this cold, empty world. Should ever you find this letter, find me in Paradis. Signed your mother, Pear Butter"
  2219. >"Applejack?"
  2220. "Huh?"
  2221. >"You're crying"
  2222. >You wiped the tears from your eyes
  2223. "North Star... Where have I heard that?"
  2224. >You hurriedly got your map out of your bag
  2225. "Why that's just a ways south of here! We could make it there in three days time."
  2226. >"North Star? Can't say I know much about it."
  2227. "Even if she ain't there no more, I'm sure we could still find clues as to where she mighta gone."
  2228. >"Sounds fair. I'll go wherever you go."
  2229. "We'll go just as soon as Twilight's better."
  2230. >That night you couldn't get any sleep
  2231. >All of thoughts were taken up by the possibility of meeting your mom again
  2232. >And the most pressing question of all
  2233. >How she survived
  2234. >You stared down at your revolver
  2235. >Dad gave it to you just before he went out to defend the house from looters
  2236. >Was he alive too?
  2237. >"Applejack?"
  2238. >You turned your head to see Vapor
  2239. "Sorry. Did I wake ya?"
  2240. >"No. Just had a little nightmare is all."
  2241. "A nightmare?"
  2242. >"Even since moondancer passed I've been having all sorts of scary dreams. Dreams of her. Of Wind Rider. Of the things we did as a gang. Somehow it's all so much scarier in my dreams."
  2243. "That's horrible."
  2244. >"How're you holding up?"
  2245. "Anxious. Happy. Confused. Excited. Depressed. I'm feeling so many emotions right I could write and entire book on 'em."
  2246. >"It's understandable. What do you remember about your mom?"
  2247. "She... she was a lot like you. Very gentle. When she got angry she was one scary person."
  2248. >"I'm not that scary when I'm mad."
  2249. >You chuckled
  2250. "Whatever you say Vapor."
  2251. >She giggled
  2252. "Like I was sayin though. She's the only memory I have of the old world. Of cars and television. Of food I could just slap in a microwave and have ready in seconds. It all takes me back to a time when things weren't so screwed up."
  2253. >Vapor hugged her legs
  2254. >"This life is rough."
  2255. "It is."
  2256. >"Can I ask you something?"
  2257. "Anything."
  2258. >"Back at camp... In the confusion I lost my sisters diary."
  2259. >You remembered her sister. Died from a gun shot at just ten years old
  2260. >You could never forget the horrific screaming as she slowly died
  2261. "Say no more. Consider that diary found. For getting this letter to me... I'd dive in a pool of blood thirsty sharks for it if I had too."
  2262. >Vapor giggled
  2263. >"Well hopefully it doesn't come to that. But thank you Applejack. It's a debt I could never hope to repay."
  2264. >You shook your head
  2265. "Don't even mention it."
  2266. >You held up the letter
  2267. "This more than makes up for the debt."
  2268. >You smiled, your eyes getting heavy
  2269. "You ok with keepin watch for the rest of the night?"
  2270. >"Not like I'll be going back to bed any time soon. Sure. Get some rest."
  2271. "Thanks Vapor. Truly."
  2272. >Rainbow sat down on her bed, a panic rising inside her
  2273. >She had to get out of here
  2274. >She always felt something was off
  2275. >This just confirmed it
  2276. >But what about Sonata?
  2277. >She shook her head
  2278. >What was she saying?
  2279. >She could just leave her
  2280. >But in her heart she knew she couldn't
  2281. >She wasn't a ruthless gang member anymore
  2282. >She was going to put that behind her
  2283. >All of it
  2284. >She peaked out of the room
  2285. >No guards
  2286. >And she knew exactly where Sonata's room was
  2287. >She snuck to the elevator, pressing the down button
  2288. >Just as the elevator arrived, a smiling woman appeared
  2289. >She was tall with pink and blond hair and wore a dress suit
  2290. >In one had she had a silver suitcase
  2291. >Rainbow's heart stopped
  2292. >She slightly titled her head
  2293. >"Where might you be headed Rainbow Dash?"
  2294. >"I was going to check on Sonata."
  2295. >The woman kept her smile
  2296. >"You'll be able to do that after the intake."
  2297. >She pointed back to the room
  2298. >"If you'd take a seat at the desk please."
  2299. >Rainbow bit her tongue
  2300. >It'd be best to cooperate
  2301. >No doubt they'd try to harm Sonata if she acted rash
  2302. >Rainbow took a seat at the desk opposite Dash
  2303. >"My name is Cadence, also known as the Lady of Love. Care for a glass of water?"
  2304. >The words rang through her skull
  2305. >Accept nothing she gives
  2306. >Could it even be as benign as a glass of water?
  2307. >Better safe than sorry
  2308. >"I'm fine, thanks."
  2309. >"What brings you to our lovely settlement?"
  2310. >The next part of the message chimed in
  2311. >Answer all of her questions with yes or no
  2312. >She didn't understand it, but she may as well try
  2313. >"No."
  2314. >Cadence's eyebrow twitched
  2315. >It was subtle, but she could tell this angered her
  2316. >"What are your intentions?"
  2317. >Rainbow took a deep breath
  2318. >"No."
  2319. >Cadence's smile faded, being replaced by a terrifying scowl
  2320. >"That will be all Rainbow."
  2321. >She got up and stopped at the doorway
  2322. >"Something you should remember, Dash: Those who defy the will of the Goddess of the Sun will meet a fate worse than death. I will be back tomorrow. And if you defy me again, you will get a visit from the Lady of the Deep."
  2323. >Rainbow bit her tongue
  2324. >She wanted to give back a witty retort
  2325. >But so long as they had Sonata, her hands were tied
  2326. >"See you tomorrow, Lady of Love."
  2327. >She left the room
  2328. >Now it was time to follow the next bit
  2329. >Get out as soon as possible
  2330. >She clenched her teeth
  2331. >She had no choice
  2332. >She'd have to leave Sonata
  2333. >She wanted to stick to the hero's life
  2334. >But the hero's life was no good if she wound up trapped her or worse
  2335. >She'd leave the night, under the cover of darkness
  2336. >in the mean time, however, she'd learn what there was to learn
  2337. >Opposite of the bed was a big bookcase
  2338. >She cursed
  2339. >If only Applejack were here
  2340. >She searched the rest of the room when something clicked
  2341. >The message that girl gave her
  2342. >She could read it
  2343. >She pulled it out of her pocket again
  2344. >Sure as the day was long, she could read it
  2345. >Did she suddenly learn to read?
  2346. >She pulled one of the books from the bookcase
  2347. >It made about as much sense of hieroglyphics to her
  2348. >This didn't make any sense
  2349. >There was a knock on her door
  2350. >Rainbow quickly hid the message and opened it up
  2351. >It was Wallflower
  2352. >"Come with me. You're being subject to discipline."
  2353. >Wallflower winked and mouthed 'trust me'
  2354. >Dash nodded back
  2355. >"I'll need you to put these cuffs on please."
  2356. >Rainbow reluctantly agreed and was escorted from her room
  2357. >Wallflower whispered
  2358. >"Just follow my lead. I'll explain everything. But you have to trust me."
  2359. >Rainbow nodded
  2360. >Not like she had much choice at this point
  2361. >They walked into the empty suburbs once again
  2362. >The sun was just starting to set
  2363. >After a short ten minute walk, they came upon a large cave surrounded by a gate and arm guards
  2364. >Wallflower spoke to one of them
  2365. >"The Sun sleeps and the Lady of the Deep casts her watchful eye upon us."
  2366. >The guard unlocked the door and said
  2367. >"Blessing of the Deep upon your journey."
  2368. >Rainbow lifted her brow
  2369. >"What was that?"
  2370. >"Shut up. Not yet."
  2371. >They journeyed into the mines for about 15 minutes
  2372. >"Ok. Now we can talk with reasonable security."
  2373. >"Can you finally tell me what's going on?"
  2374. >"Yes. But it'd be better to show you."
  2375. >They walked down a narrower hallway until they came into a large, circular metal room with windows
  2376. >Beyond the glass were multiple large vats containing glowing yellow liquid
  2377. >"What is that stuff?"
  2378. >"It's the Sun Colony's dark secret and the source of her power. That stuff in those vats is the reason the world is in the state it is today"
  2379. >"What is it?"
  2380. >"It's what the old world called Biofuel. The Sun Goddess, or Celestia, calls it blessed liquid. It can only be made from raw biomass."
  2381. >"Raw biomass?"
  2382. >"Yes. Things like animals, plants and humans. When people defy the sun goddess they end up as the yellow liquid."
  2383. >You felt a chill run down your spine
  2384. >"That's horrific."
  2385. >"That's not even the worst of it. Not only can it be used for things like fuel and electric energy, it also makes a pretty devastating bomb."
  2386. >Rainbow couldn't believe herself
  2387. >She was going to leave Sonata to become that thick yellow goo
  2388. >"There's something I wanted to ask you."
  2389. >"It's how you gained the ability to read isn't it?"
  2390. >"Yes."
  2391. >"That's the next amazing property of this stuff. Memory transference."
  2392. >"Memory what?"
  2393. >"Basically, the memories of those who got turned into the good are stored inside the stuff. You can, with the right amount of practice, transfer these memories."
  2394. >"That's insane."
  2395. >"It was called the wonder material for a reason. But it comes at a cost too high to warrant it's usage."
  2396. >"We have to stop this somehow."
  2397. >"We do. And that's the hard part. If you help us, I can guarantee Sonata's safety."
  2398. >"Deal."
  2399. >"Good. Then allow me to explain my master plan"
  2400. >Meanwhile, with Twilight making a fairly decent recovery, Applejack and her crew were well on the way to Northstar
  2401. >You had quite the kick to your step
  2402. >You wanted to sprint the whole way there
  2403. >You even put Trixie on your back just to slow your pace and conserve energy
  2404. >Twilight went right along side you
  2405. >"So what's your plan once you find your mother? Any questions you want to ask her?"
  2406. "So many. I have a list as long as my arm"
  2407. >Trixie yawned
  2408. >"Is my mommy there too?"
  2409. "Maybe she is. We can only hope"
  2410. >You all began to walk up a long, curved path when you saw two rather burly looking people on the road brandishing weapons
  2411. >You set Trixie down
  2412. >"Stay right here. I'll take care of this"
  2413. >Vapor went beside you
  2414. >"I'll help"
  2415. >You walked up to them
  2416. >They spoke, aiming their weapons at you
  2417. >"Sorry toots. This is a toll road. No passage without payment by order of the Iron Cross."
  2418. "The Iron Cross?"
  2419. >"That's right. We're defenders of North-"
  2420. >Vapor shot her shot gun right into the chest of the man speaking
  2421. >You managed to put a bullet square through the other's abdomen before he even had a chance to put his finger on the trigger
  2422. "What he hell was that!? They were gonna tell us where they was from!"
  2423. >"They were distracted. It was my only chance."
  2424. >Twilight stood up
  2425. >She had had her body draped around Trixie, acting like a human shield
  2426. >"Didn't he say North? Could he have meant Northstar?"
  2427. >Vapor seemed to look nervous
  2428. >"I'm sure it was nothing. We are going North after all."
  2429. "We better hurry. Hopefully these thugs didn't take Northstar. My mom may be in danger."
  2430. >Vapor nodded
  2431. >"Right you are Applejack."
  2432. >You picked up Trixie again and strode on until night fall, making your camp on ridge overlooking the vast forest below
  2433. >Twilight walked over to you as the fire started
  2434. >"AJ, can I talk to you for a second?"
  2435. "Sure."
  2436. >You both walked a distance from camp
  2437. >"Something isn't adding up about this."
  2438. "What do you mean?"
  2439. >Twilight hesitated
  2440. >"You said it yourself. You watched your mother die. And Vapor seemed visibly nervous when I confronted her about those thugs being from Northstar."
  2441. >You clenched your fist
  2442. "Just what exactly are ya implyin'? You sayin' my former gang mate and friend is lyin to me about this? What possible reason could she have?"
  2443. >"I don't know. All I'm saying is that there's something about this that seems off."
  2444. "Seems off?"
  2445. >"Yes. Something about this isn't-"
  2446. >Twilight began to cough rather violently
  2447. "Twi are you ok?"
  2448. >The coughing fit ceased after about a minute
  2449. >"I'm fine. Just listen. Don't rush headlong into this. I know you're eager to see your mom. But look at this critically."
  2450. "I think you're talking a whole lot of fooy"
  2451. >"AJ, I'm here with you till the end. I'm just worried is all"
  2452. -----
  2453. "Well you don't gotta worry yourself with me. I'm doing this. I know she's alive. I know she is."
  2454. >"Whatever happens, I'm with you. Remember that."
  2455. "I will. Sorry for getting so mad. It's just..."
  2456. >"I know. This is a sensitive thing."
  2457. "Yeah. If ya got nothin' else, let's head back to camp."
  2458. >"Right."
  2459. >Twilight coughed a few more times
  2460. "You sure you're alright?"
  2461. >"I'm perfectly fine. I just need a few days and I'll be good as new."
  2462. "I suppose getting cut to hell does that to ya."
  2463. >you both started walking back
  2464. >"How're your fingers?"
  2465. >You looked at your makeshift splint and rubbed them
  2466. >It was still quite painful to even graze them
  2467. "It'll be a while before they heal in full. They hurt if the wind blows to hard."
  2468. >At camp Vapor was almost finished with her stew
  2469. >You lifted the ladle
  2470. "That smells delicious vapor. What's in it?"
  2471. >"I used some baked beans from my bag. I consider it a specialty of mine."
  2472. >Every got themselves a serving
  2473. >It was pretty well for what it was worth
  2474. >At least as well as it could be from lake water and three month old canned beans
  2475. >Trixie sat against your arm and snuggled you tightly
  2476. >Over by one of the trees, you could see Sunset eye'ing the two of you
  2477. "Want to come by Sunset? There's room for one more in the cuddle pile."
  2478. >She jumped a bit and stuck her tongue out
  2479. >"As if. Cuddling is for babies."
  2480. "Suit yourself."
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