Fallout Equestria: The Daily Unlife

"Live a little, they say. Easier said than done."

These are the voyages of the Canterlot ghoul Lemon Frisk. His mission: to find the Meaning of Unlife. His continuing perils: crazed raiders, feral ghouls, overzealous rangers, deranged robots, and a mare who won't stop poking him.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/6001/fallout-equestria-the-daily-unlife

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18. Day Fifteen - The Circle of Life

The Circle of Life
you get some, you lose some

Misty Cloud woke up from someone fumbling around with her pipbuck. She looked up, straight into two sickly yellow eyes set above a slightly rotted nose in a leathery, wrinkly face.

She reached up and gave a kiss on said nose. "Hey." She glanced at her pipbuck. "What are you doing?"

"It beeped," Lemon Frisk replied. "Didn't wake you up, so I thought I'd see if I could take a look without disturbing you." He smirked. "Looks like that failed."

Misty looked through the broken window of the building they'd used as sleeping place and saw it was already light outside. "Ugh. What time is it?"

"Mid-morning," Lemon said. "Can't tell you more; I still can't navigate that blasted thing."

Misty sat up on her haunches and examined her pipbuck. "Right. Let's see what we got here." She tilted her head. "Huh. It says I have a status update in my physical profile."

"What?"

"I don't know. Never seen this before. I just hope I haven't soaked up too many rads."

Lemon shook his head. "I doubt it. We were really careful, and you always made sure to take your meds."

Misty stared at the screen, her mouth hanging open. "Wha—" She blinked. "Tha... that isn't possible! I'm not even... Not to mention..." She suddenly frowned and tapped some buttons. She read the text that appeared on the monitor and shook her head. "Wait, wait. So that'd be just after..." She nodded slowly. "Oh, wow. That's... um." Her head sagged down as she looked at Lemon Frisk. "Um, Lemon?"

Lemon rolled his eyes. "Spit it out, Misty."

"You know when you asked me whether I was in my fertile cycle, when we just met?"

Lemon Frisk's eyebrow slowly raised. "That... was mostly a joke, but, yeah?"

"I was fairly sure I wasn't... because it had just ended."

Lemon Frisk opened his mouth, closed it, and then tried again. "You're..."

Misty nodded. "Pregnant."

"From... Big Apple."

She nodded again. "Turns out it takes a few weeks before a pipbuck can detect it."

Lemon blinked. "Oh, wow." He frowned. "So, um, about that genetic... incompatibility... um, between Big Apple and you?"

Misty shook her head. "No, no. They said 'future generations'. It shouldn't cause any problems for this foal. It just means this little one shouldn't have foals with any Stable Sixty-Nine ponies."

"Right. So, you're having a foal. Holy crap."

"Um." Misty gave him an unsure look. "You don't look all that... thrilled."

"Oh!" Lemon looked up at her. "Nononono, don't think like that! I'm just overthinking peripherals, as always. This is great! It's just, with that on the way, and the genetics thing... it'd be better if the kid didn't grow up in Stable 69. Y'know. More chance of not hooking up with somepony there. But I accepted their position there, which would most likely mean we'll remain there. And, I'm suddenly kinda thinking Apple Twig was right, about her choice of honeymoon destination... you know how poorly I reacted to putting you in a risky situation before, and now—"

"Lemon!" Misty interrupted him. "You're rambling."

Lemon nodded, and took a deep breath to calm himself. "I know. It's just..." He smiled. "I'm gonna be a dad!"

"Technically incorrect," TGIF-1's voice interrupted them. "Misty Cloud is going to be a mom."

Lemon Frisk smirked. "Your definition doesn't seem to include adoptive parents and other fringe cases. Update it. A parent is a person who raises a child, not necessarily one who conceives one."

The robot's visor flashed blue. "Updated. You ponies remain interesting."

Misty noticed Blinker leaning in the door opening, frowning at them. "What?" she asked.

"Hyu ponies iz tu opteemist. Cub iz nuttin til iz born vit four gud legs und tvo gud eyes. Iz not cub fer long time."

Misty glowered at the dog. She was about to get up to yell at him, but Lemon held her back. "They don't have rad meters," he reminded her. "Meaning, miscarriages, mutations and stillborns. They have no choice but to accept that. It's reality."

Misty's glower turned to shock. She sagged down and nodded. "You're right." She glanced at Blinker. "Sorry."

"Hyoo tek gud ker uf eet. Mek shure eet vill be a cub. Bot dun be sad vhen eet dun get dere. Life goez on."

Misty nodded, not looking up at the Dog. She was out of the Stable now; this was the harsh reality of the wastelands, and she realized that just like the Diamond Dogs, she had to accept that.

Misty stiffened up for a moment when she felt something touch her back, but relaxed as she realized it was Lemon Frisk hugging her. She leaned back into his hug and smiled. "Thanks. I needed that."

* * *

The group walked outside. With the city's old mysteries mostly solved there was really nothing more to do around there, so their next destination would be the place Lemon had started thinking of as "home"; Stable Sixty-Nine. Lemon couldn't help glancing back at the Solaris Inc. laboratory complex, though. He slowly shook his head.

"Still thinking about that megaspell?" Misty asked. Jolly was once again sitting on her head.

Lemon nodded. "It's just... ugh. Not what I expected."

"What, you expected some grand secret plot to blow up the city?" Misty said with a smirk. "Smuggled megaspell parts, betrayal and espionage?"

Lemon chuckled. "Maybe? It happened in some cities. What happened here just seems so... dumb."

"The whole war was dumb, Lemon. You should know that; you were there."

"I guess."

Misty nuzzled his neck. "Come on, gloomy pony. Lighten up. You're still here and so am I." She smiled at him. "No matter what happens next, let's just enjoy that while it lasts, okay?"

"That's the kind of stuff ponies in stories say before one of them gets killed," Lemon remarked.

Misty looked at him with a defiant look on her face. "Yeah, well, screw those ponies, and the pony that wrote them!" She narrowed her eyes and smiled at him. "You're not getting rid of me that easily." She punctuated the "that" with a poke in his side, causing him to whinny in surprise.

"Yaah! I thought we passed that stage?" he asked in mock-indignation.

Misty gave him a sly grin. "Don't bet on it, ghoul-pony!" She circled around him and lunged in for another jab, which Lemon deftly evaded.

Lemon grinned, keeping his head low as he circled with her. "You may be able to catch me unaware, but that's all you'll get, lady!"

"Oh really?" Misty asked, lowering her head to the same level. The two circled around, looking straight in each other's eyes. Suddenly, Misty shot forward and kissed him on the mouth.

Lemon pulled away from the kiss and frowned. "I sincerely hope you weren't planning to use that as diversion tactic. I could bite your tongue off if you tickle me while doing that."

Misty stopped circling and frowned as she straightened up. "Oh. Um. Right. That'd be bad, I guess."

"Very bad," Lemon said, nodding. "You, without the ability to talk?" He smiled. "You'd be poking me all the damn time!"

Misty just stuck out her tongue in reply.

The couple suddenly became aware of the other two people in the group looking at them. Lemon was slightly surprised to see Blinker looked mostly amused; he'd have expected annoyance from the mostly-stoic Diamond Dog. It looked like their newest member was lightening up. The Dog's almost-constantly swivelling ears and occasional glances to the surroundings made it very clear that said 'lightening up' didn't come at the cost of his vigilance, though. The only time Lemon had seen the Diamond Dog truly relaxed was inside the Kennel.

TGIF-1 seemed to have no reaction either way; his visor showed its default blue colour, with no flashes or changes in brightness. The equoid was either still focused on his night job of guarding the perimeter, or he was simply too busy browsing through his newly unlocked data.

"Zo..." Blinker said, raising an eyebrow. "Ve leevin, den?"

Misty smiled. "Yep! All ready to go!"

"Got my pokes quota for the day," Lemon said. "Let's get going."

* * *

As they came closer to the Stable the terrain around them became increasingly familiar. They had passed the place where they had taken out the pipbuck-carrying ghouls and made their way through the suburbs. When they approached the edge of the city, Misty's pipbuck gave a sharp beep.

Lemon raised his eyebrow. "You having twins, now?"

"Oh, shut up," Misty replied with a smirk. She looked at her pipbuck, and the smirk turned into a frown. "Huh," she said. "It's alerting me of... a system update." She looked at Lemon Frisk.

"Nimblegait," they said together.

"Looks like she got that wireless system working," Lemon said, "and we're close enough to the Stable to receive it."

"Nifty," Misty said as the update installed. "I guess that means we can receive messages on this thing now." She had barely finished saying that when a new message appeared.

"Live channel request pending. Priority: Urgent"

Lemon looked at the screen with a grave look on his face. "Open it."

The pipbuck's screen showed blocky static, and then showed a fuzzy green-tinted image of the pipbuck maintenance room, with a pony facing away from them. A beep startled the pony, and as he turned towards the camera they recognized Vector Field.

"Misty Cloud? Lemon Frisk?" Vector Field said. "Is that you two? I only got audio; pipbucks don't have cameras on them."

"Vector...?" Lemon asked. The Overstallion looked distressed. "Yeah, it's us."

Vector looked relieved. "Oh, thank Celestia, it finally got through! Anyway, no time for pleasantries. We got Steel Rangers in the Stable!"

"Crap!" Lemon said, grabbing Misty's leg and pulling her pipbuck towards him. "Give me a status!"

"We, uh, got lucky so far. Nopony was actually outside when they arrived, and, you know that device Nimblegait installed at the Door to check unpatched pipbucks? Well, they apparently thought it was a defence system or something, and blasted it right away. The guard ponies inside reacted immediately, and everything's been on lockdown since this morning... but two of their armoured rangers got in before it was closed. They're currently locked inside the main hall, but it probably won't take them long to hack through the Door's locks and open it again."

"Dammit, dammit!" Lemon Frisk cursed. "Of course Donut's squad wasn't the only one looking. I should've known!"

"Vector?" Nimblegait's voice sounded faintly. Vector Field looked up and turned to one of the monitors on the side, holding a hoof up at the camera to indicate to Lemon and Misty to hold on for a moment.

"I got them on broadcast," Vector replied. "Misty and Lemon Frisk are in the loop."

"Nice! Looks like those two tin cans have cameras on them, and are broadcasting to their buddies outside. Layer your feed to Lemon and Misty with the frequency I'm messaging to your pipbuck."

The two listening ponies heard an almost evil-sounding chuckle from Nimblegait.

"Let's put on a show."

The image switched to what Lemon and Misty recognized as similar to a pipbuck HUD with EFS, but with loads more information on the side. They realized they were looking at the HUD of one of the ponies in power armour. He was currently looking at a small security monitor attached to the Door controls. Again, the image was all greens, though, since Misty's pipbuck monitor was unable to show any other colours.

"We're going to need some time on this, ma'am!" the soldier said, apparently communicating with the outside. "Whoever locked this thing was no amateur. This isn't standard Stable-Tec encryption." No response was heard; apparently that wasn't included in the feed Nimblegait tapped into.

The faint sound of a door sliding open made the soldier look up. Nimblegait calmly walked through the door opening, her horn aglow with magic. The door closed behind her.

"Why, thank you," came her saccharine reply. "I had so much fun with that! I'm glad you appreciate all my hard work."

A series of clicks sounded, and the HUD showed some angry blinking status updates at the side. "What the hell...?" the soldier said. "Command, my weapons systems are jamming!" He looked to the second power armoured pony in the hall.

The other pony shook his head. "Same," he said, before turning back to the little mare. His stance lowered. "But I don't need weapons to take this little bitch."

Nimblegait chuckled. "It's so easy to disable weapons, you know. You just need to know exactly how they work, and exactly where they are located. Oh. Don't try your rocket launchers. Trust me on that one."

The pony whose feed they were following looked at Nimblegait again. She was grinning madly with a look on her face that could only be called 'predatory'. Her head lowered, and a glow enveloped the two saddlebags on her back. They opened, and a veritable swarm of tools spread out around them.

The camera jerked as the pony involuntarily stepped back from the bizarre threat. Then the tools shot out at him. He frantically looked around, trying to swat them away from him, and turned to his colleague for help.

"Sweet Celestia," he muttered as he saw his colleague's power armour disassembled before his eyes, the pieces sorted in nice piles until nothing was left except a frightened-looking earth pony with a screwdriver pinched against his jugular.

He looked around trying to find some way to escape, but the hall, while rather large, was one single space, and all the doors to the side were locked. He ran towards the one Nimblegait had appeared from, frantically trying the controls, but apparently she had been smart enough to lock it behind her again.

"Let me out!" the pony yelled in panic, glancing frantically behind him at the grinning mare and her swarm. "Oh shit... she's coming! Command! Get me the heck out of here! Oh Goddesses, somepony help me!"

Whirring and buzzing sounds were heard, and while the actual camera feed became a constant blur as the pony's panicked movements became more erratic, increasingly more error messages appeared around his HUD as components were expertly disconnected from their control systems.

Then, suddenly, the image shuddered and stabilized, and a shifting haze of magic was visible over the video. All HUD messages disappeared, and instead a large "DEVICE DISCONNECTED" message appeared in the centre of the screen. The helmet floated up and rotated around to face Nimblegait.

Cables shot out at the helmet and connected it with her pipbuck. She lifted her leg and read the information she received. "Project Steel Ranger, revision five, rocket launcher integrated model, serial number AJ223-502," she calmly recited. "Most components produced in Manehattan, final assembly in Trotsborough." While she talked, components from the suits floated towards her and assembled themselves, her tools working to rebuild the suit around her until the only things left uncovered were her head and the right leg sporting her pipbuck. "Hmm. Need to adjust the design to easily integrate with a pipbuck," she mumbled to herself.

She looked up and smiled at the camera. "I have two of your ponies, and two of your suits. Drill through that Door if you want, but you'll have me waiting on the other side." Her face turned into a manic grin. "And I'd love to add more to my collection." With that, the helmet turned around and floated closer, apparently being placed on her head. All HUD messages turned back to normal before the feed cut off abruptly.

A couple of seconds of blackness passed before Vector Field removed the feed and switched back to the cameras at Pipbuck Maintenance. He looked just as baffled as Misty and Lemon on the other side of the feed.

"She just..." the stunned Vector Field muttered. "Did... did you see that? That was..."

Lemon Frisk nodded, despite the fact Vector had no video feed from them to see it. "...excellent psychological warfare," he continued Vector's unfinished sentence, "but I don't think she can repeat that performance against more than two ponies. We need a plan."

"What assets do we have?" Vector Field asked. "Besides Nimblegait, that is."

"I don't think there's time to alert the Slags," Lemon said. "Not sure what they could do against power armour anyway. For the rest, we got, uh..." He looked at his companions. "A somewhat-giant venomous spider, a Diamond Dog, and a sapient war robot with motivational issues."

Vector Field gave them an incredulous look. "What?"

"I will not be used as offensive weapon," TGIF-1 cut in. His visor was pale blue. "This is merely a distraction on the way to the half-zebras. We could just skip it."

Lemon glared at the robot. "We won't. That's Misty's home, heck, it's our home, and we'll find a way to get those Rangers away from there."

"Lemon..." Misty cut in. "He's just scared. Those guys are about as armoured as he is, and they probably got weapons that can punch through armour like that."

Lemon looked at the robot's visor. Right. Pale meant uncertainty, fear. He wasn't used to thinking in terms like that when it came to robots, but TGIF-1 could hardly be filed in the same category as any normal robot.

"Right," Lemon said, turning back to Misty's pipbuck. "As I said, motivational issues. And, uh, probably well-programmed self-preservation logics. Teegee's not the self-sacrifice kind of guy."

"You're serious, aren't you?" Vector Field said. "You actually have a war robot there?"

"Equoid. Medium build. Not all that impressive looking, actually."

TGIF-1's visor flashed purple. "If that was an attempt to goad me into deploying my weapon system, it has failed. I am not susceptible to cheap psychological tricks."

Lemon smirked. "That would help, but no, it wasn't." He sighed. "This sure is a nice situation we're in."

"What about the pipbucks in Hayden?" Vector asked. "Maybe we could negotiate a trade?"

"That won't help," Lemon said. "These guys hoard technology. They're just interested in keeping it to themselves. Sure, Hayden would probably get their favour if they gave them those pipbucks, simply for the gesture, but if they found out Hayden had them, they'd just go in guns blazing and take them anyway."

Vector Field nodded. "Yeah, okay. That won't help. So, we need to take out or drive away a power armoured army of unknown size, before they manage to get through that Door." He shook his head. "We are so screwed, aren't we?"

"Are you sure we can't talk to then?" Misty asked. "I mean, Nimblegait's got these suits; so we should be able to broadcast to them at least, right?"

Lemon's eyes widened. "Broadcast..."

He frantically loosened the straps on his saddlebags and opened a zipper at the side. "We got a Canterlot broadcaster!"

"Lemon," Misty said, involuntarily taking a step back from the tiny device Lemon fished out of the bags, "isn't that the thing that makes deadly sound?"

Lemon nodded, a grim look on his face. "Or radio signal."

"Th-that's..." Misty shook her head. "That's mass murder, Lemon! You can't just murder them all like that!"

Lemon looked at his mangled pipbuck. "Well, no, I can't. Never worked on my pipbuck, in fact. They gave me one of these things because I went out of the Stable so much, but I never actually managed to get it working on this messed up thing." He looked at TGIF-1. "Can you operate it?"

"Negative," TGIF-1 said. "Solaris Inc. products cannot interface with Stable-Tec addons. Please purchase the equivalent Solaris Inc. addon. Do note that the use of third party interface conversion components to achieve interfacing anyway is against your End User License Agreement."

Lemon raised his eyebrow. "I'll... keep that in mind." He looked at Misty.

Misty shook her head. "Hell no. Lemon, you can't ask me that."

"And I wouldn't, normally. But we have no choice, Misty."

"There's always a choice!" Misty threw back. "We have two of their soldiers hostage! We could at least try to talk!"

"You saw Donut Steel! We're up against a whole group of these assholes!"

"I also saw Bacon Mail," Misty threw back. "She was a rather nice and reasonable pony."

"That's hardly relevant when they follow the commands of the assholes."

"Then they shouldn't!" she yelled, exasperated.

Lemon Frisk shook his head. "You haven't seen the army, Misty. You haven't gone through their training. I have. The first thing they teach you is to never disobey or question your orders. Ever. They might grumble, they might ask to change specifics, but they will never disobey. They're specifically trained not to."

"That's... monstrous."

Lemon gave her a sympathetic look. "Perhaps. But it's necessary for an army. The larger the group, the more chaos you get if every single soldier thinks they know better than their commander. That's just the way it is."

"Could you at least try talking to them first?" Misty asked. "They might be reasonable. You never know. You're an outsider, and your pipbuck is a piece of scrap. I doubt they'll come after you."

"There's no way in Tartarus I'm going out there without some decent protection," Lemon Frisk grumbled. He looked at TGIF-1.

The robot looked back at him. "You will not show me the way to these 'Slags' before this matter is resolved, correct?"

"Correct," Lemon said.

"Very well," TGIF-1 said. "Then I shall protect you."

"Um. If they hoard technology... won't they want... him?" Misty asked.

"I will keep myself close by but hidden unless he requires backup," TGIF-1 said. "Activating Stealth mode." The robot's stance lowered and his metallic cover shimmered, taking on the colours of the surrounding area. He wasn't quite invisible, but like a tiger hiding in tall yellow grass, he would be very hard to spot from a distance. The robot's head turned towards Lemon, the pattern on it shifting along as he moved to hide the movement. "Is this satisfactory?"

Lemon gaped. "That's... pretty impressive." He looked at Misty. "I'll try talking, but you need to be ready here to activate the broadcaster in case it goes wrong, okay?"

Misty gave him a resigned look, but then frowned. "Didn't you say that thing made a noise that kills everything? How am I supposed to even safely connect it?"

Lemon Frisk fiddled with the broadcaster and found a little switch on the back. "Yeah, but it has a broadcast-only mode," he said. He grabbed the tiny switch in his teeth and flipped it. "There. As long as it's set to transmit radio signals but not give any sound, it should be perfectly safe to use." He looked at her. "All we need now is a frequency. Vector, you still listening?"

"Still here," Vector Field said from Misty's pipbuck.

"I'm not sure if we can keep this channel open while configuring the broadcaster, but... can you get Nimblegait to give us a frequency?"

As if on cue, the door behind Vector Field opened and the diminutive mare walked into the pipbuck maintenance area. "Vector?" they heard her ask in the background. "You still got them on the line?"

Vector nodded. "They're here. And they got... some kind of plan."

Nimblegait took Vector's place at the controls, and Lemon quickly explained the plan. She shook her head. "They cut me off. I'm not getting back in their comms any time soon, sorry."

"There might be another way," Lemon said. "There's a secret emergency frequency I had access to back in the days, which should open automatically on any of the Steel Ranger suits if the correct password is sent on it first. Unfortunately, my password for it is about two centuries old. The suits you got should have a more recent one, though."

"Can your device even broadcast such passwords?" Nimblegait remarked.

"No, but I suspect Teegee here can. Heck, it's radio; you guys could do it. There's no real handshake procedure; just send the password and their radios automatically open the frequency. Then we flood it."

He glanced at TGIF-1. "Can you access this wireless broadcast thing Nimblegait set up?"

"Checking connections," TGIF-1 said. "Broadcast signal found. Correct encryption algorithm detected. Generating user ID. Transmitting."

Nimblegait nodded. "He shows up on my side," she said. "I'll link him in and send you his ID so you can talk to him like you could to any pipbuck, or this device I cooked up. Wow, I really want to see this guy!"

"I am capable of broadcasting video," TGIF-1 said, "but my immediate surroundings are unfortunately lacking in mirrors. Opening connections." Misty's pipbuck beeped to ask to accept the new signal. A faint echo of a similar beep came from Nimblegait's side of the line.

"You can do multiple?" Nimblegait asked, surprised.

TGIF-1 looked at Lemon Frisk, his visor glowing green. "I can now."

Lemon chuckled. "How to jailbreak your robot in three easy steps."

"Misty Cloud, Nimblegait, open my connection," TGIF-1 said. "I will keep transmitting your signals to each other, but add my own video and audio."

"Group conversation!" Nimblegait said, excitedly. "I should totally add that as feature!"

"Later," Lemon Frisk said. "Get the password first." He looked up from Misty's pipbuck to the mare herself. "Misty, I'll keep in contact with you through Teegee. I'll try to talk to them, but... when Teegee unlocks that frequency, you have to activate the signal before they realize what we're doing and shut it off again. We won't have long."

Misty nodded numbly, resigning in her role. "They're not gonna talk, are they?" she whispered. "Oh, Celestia. We're going to kill all of these ponies." She looked at Lemon Frisk. "Life really isn't fair, is it?"

Lemon Frisk shook his head and hugged her. "No... it really isn't. I'm so sorry about this." He let go, and started walking towards the gravel flat, the camouflaged robot following closely behind him.

* * *

"Two neutral signals approaching, ma'am!" one of the power armoured rangers yelled. "Five o'clock."

A cloaked pony nodded and looked behind her. "Looks like a tribal of some kind." She frowned. "A ghoul. What about the second signal? I don't see anyone else."

"No idea, ma'am," the power armoured pony said. "Maybe it's just some bug floating around. But they seem to both go towards us, in parallel paths."

"I don't like it. Keep an eye out."

"Yes, ma'am!"

The commander threw back her cloak and looked at the oncoming ghoul. "State your business, tribal!"

Lemon Frisk raised his eyebrow. "Tribal, huh? Dunno why you guys keep calling me that. Ain't never been part of any tribe, far as I know. Stable pony, sure. Ghoul, definitely. But, tribal?"

The commander gave him a suspicious look. "Are you from this Stable?"

Lemon Frisk shook his head and smiled. "Oh, if only! To be in there, two hundred years ago... hehe. Surely you've noticed the number."

The mare glared at him. "I'm in no mood for jokes, ghoul. So, you're not from this Stable. Where are you from, then?"

Lemon's eyes widened, and a smile crept onto his face.

"Ohh," he said, walking into the group of Steel Rangers. He spotted about two dozen of them. "You wanna know where I'm from!"

The rhythm just popped into the air. Some of the Rangers looked around looking for a threat. Others seemed to have seen this kind of thing before and just nodded knowingly. Lemon Frisk just smiled. He'd worked for Pinkie Pie, after all. This stuff was daily routine to him. Two centuries of Wasteland couldn't erase that part of ponies. Music just... happened.

Circling around the Steel Ranger commander, Lemon Frisk began to sing, with an odd accent in his voice.

(melody: Arabian Nights, from Disney's "Aladdin")
(Listen to TGIF-1's recording of the song)

Oh I come from a city that's rather insane
Where most terrible monsters live
Where the air melts your lungs
And the noise melts your brain
And which hangs from the side of a cliff!

Where the winds carry pink over streets stained in brown
From the blood of the ages past
So come visit, we'll meet
In some Canterlot street
And I'll wonder how long you will last!

Those Canterlot streets, with their Canterlot jive!
Yes, just like this fool
Turn into a ghoul
Forever alive.

On Canterlot streets, with that Canterlot sight!
Some tool in a suit
Would wish he were nude
Entombed in that blight!

The commander shuddered visibly. "Canterlot..."

Lemon Frisk nodded. "Canterlot!" he said, motioning to the mountain in the distance.

"It's on the other side of the mountain," one of the armoured rangers mumbled.

"So what's your business here, ghoul?" the commander asked.

"I am Lemon Frisk, Ministry of Morale crisis manager. I am currently the acting commander of Whinnyapolis operations for the Equestrian Military, investigating the destruction of this city." He smirked. "And, no, I'm not some old delusional ghoul. I've made quite some progress, in fact."

He looked at the Commander, who, as he expected, looked thoroughly unimpressed. He continued, "This Stable community is under my protection. Leave this place, and you might see your two captured comrades again."

"We don't negotiate!" the commander hissed. "They know their job and their duty!"

"Oh, your comrades are safe," Lemon Frisk said, shaking his head. "They aren't out here with me." He glared at the mare. "I am not bluffing. I am not joking. And I need no army to take down all of you. I warned you about the place I'm from. These horrors are a part of me. And rest assured, in the event you kill me, it won't change a thing. So, please, leave."

"You have nothing to back up your claims," the mare threw back. "You're not making a very good argument."

"I realize that, but I was asked to try, at least," Lemon Frisk replied. "Unfortunately, I have only one card to deal, and it's the one that kills you all."

"I'm calling your bluff," the Commander said.

Lemon Frisk sighed, and shook his head. "Then there is nothing more to talk about. Activate it, Misty."

The commander looked up. "Shit! He's got associates! Find that second EFS signal!"

* * *

Misty's hoof trembled as it approached her pipbuck. TGIF-1's feed from the scene had shown her Lemon's message, and by now the robot himself had no doubt already sent the password to open the frequency. All she needed to do was activate it... and kill two dozen ponies. Just like that.

Shaking, she pulled her hoof away. "Oh Celestia... I can't just... I can't..."

* * *

"Commander!" one of the Steel Rangers said. "Secure comm channel MOM-1 just opened!"

The commander's gaze narrowed as she looked at Lemon Frisk again. "Ministry of Morale crisis manager," she growled. "Sensory attack! Block it, now! All of you!"

Lemon stumbled back, into the gravel hills at the side of the Stable entrance. "Misty!" he yelled, hoping TGIF-1 would still be around to transmit what he said. "Oh fuck."

The commander grabbed a heavy revolver from her holster with her mouth and shot Lemon Frisk in the head. The side of his head blew apart as the explosive ammunition did its job.

* * *

"Lemon!" Misty yelled as she saw the events unfold on TGIF-1's feed. She pressed the button to activate the radio signal, but it was too late. "No! No, no, no... This isn't fair..." She looked at the Stable in the distance. "Oh Celestia. Lemon!" She scrambled to get up and run out to him, but was tackled by Blinker.

"Dun go dere. Hyu dun need ta die too."

"I just killed him!" she yelled.

"Hyu be qviet," he said, pinning her to the ground. "Dey dunno ve's 'ere. Ve's too far. Dun let dem know."

* * *

Tactical Guardian and Infiltration Fighter number One was a highly skilled stealth war machine. When the bullet was shot at Lemon Frisk, TGIF-1 was already in motion, though not a single one of his simulations could see the pony survive. TGIF-1 was simply too far away from him to do anything.

Correction: the pony in question is already dead. Despite this fact he remains of interest. Preferred course of action is unchanged. Protect.

The robot jumped at Lemon Frisk and pulled him behind the large gravel heaps. His outer cover immediately assumed a gravel texture, camouflaging the both of them.

"The ghoul's gone!" he heard the commander shout. She was of secondary concern. TGIF-1 focused his sensors on the body below him, and was rewarded with two overheated processors and a splitting headache as a strange magical force pulled the half-exploded head back together to its original decayed state.

Lemon Frisk groaned. "I... didn't need those Prench lessons anyway," he mumbled quietly. "Ugh. What did she shoot me with?"

"Explosive bullet, in the head," TGIF-1 said, whispering. "The plan failed." His visor flashed red, then yellow, then returned to its original blue. "Backup plan initiated."

"There was no backup plan, Teegee," Lemon said. He frowned and looked up at the robot. "You can't take them all on alone."

TGIF-1 looked Lemon Frisk straight in the face. "I will not." He got up and swept a hoof over the side of the hill to push some of the gravel over Lemon Frisk's body to keep him hidden. He looked at Lemon one last time, his visor flashing blue rapidly for about ten seconds before shifting to a pale orange state. "I don't know what this will do to my system. I closed all communication channels and sent Nimblegait my data. Take good care of it."

"Teegee?" Lemon asked, hesitantly.

"I can play a radio signal," TGIF-1 said as he walked towards the Rangers.

Lemon's eyes widened. "You can't handle magic!" he hissed. "That signal is magic!"

"Indeed," TGIF-1 replied as he calmly walked on. Facing away from Lemon, the robot's visor turned to white static, and as he emerged from behind the gravel hill, the deadly noise of Canterlot was released at full volume from his speakers.

* * *

Blinker winced as his sensitive ears picked up the faint necromantic sound from their hiding place. "Eet's heppenink," he said. "Dun turn eet off."

"What? But the rangers closed—"

"Iz de robot."

Misty turned her head to the forgotten video feed on her pipbuck, only to find it deactivated. "Oh, of course. He can receive radio." She frowned. "Why didn't we think of that in the first place?"

"Hy dunno. Dun get op. De noize eezun't moch 'ere, bot hyu heff cub. Dun tek de risk."

Blinker stared at the gravel flat, occasionally wincing at a particularly nasty frequency in the faraway noise. He kept watching until only one chromed figure was still standing upright.

"Eet iz done," he said.

Misty switched off the broadcaster and ran off towards the Stable. "I have to find Lemon!"

* * *

Lemon Frisk struggled to get out of the gravel in which the robot had more or less buried him. The robot had made it look easy, but Lemon felt like there was half a ton weighing him down. Luckily he didn't appear to have broken any bones in that stunt. He walked out to the gravel flat and looked around.

It was a massacre. The commander was lying at his feet, her bleeding eyes rolled back in her head, and an expression of pure agony on her face. The rest of the area was filled with ponies in power armour, either slumped down or plain keeled over. He saw blood leaking out of the air filter of one of the fallen ones.

In the middle of it all stood TGIF-1. No sound came from the robot, but his visor still had the same white static as when he had started playing the deadly broadcast.

"...Teegee?" Lemon asked.

Slowly, the robot moved. Small flecks of blue appeared in the static in his visor. He looked up at Lemon Frisk, and a blast of necromantic noise shot out. His visor white with surprise, the robot took a jerky step back and stopped the noise. Grinding sounds came from his gears as he turned around in a stuttering movement, facing the pony and Diamond Dog running up to them. Green specks appeared in his visor this time, but a faint murmur of necromantic death was immediately silenced. He looked at Misty Cloud and Blinker, then turned back to Lemon Frisk.

"Teegee," Lemon said. "Oh no..."

"Lemon!" Misty yelled as she saw him standing. She rushed out to embrace him. "I... I saw you die!"

"A few bullets won't kill me," Lemon said, hugging her back. "Though I admit, she got close."

"Your head was blown open!" she shouted.

"Sure was. That Zebra necromancy sure is potent stuff."

"Dammit," she said, leaning her head on his shoulder. "Don't scare me like that again."

"Misty... we're not out of this yet," Lemon said, nodding behind her.

Expecting a living Steel Ranger, Misty jumped back, only to see TGIF-1 standing there, his head bowed down, and his visor full of static.

"What happened?" she asked.

"He..." Lemon shook his head. "I don't know. He transmitted the broadcaster noise. He shouldn't have done that. His systems can't handle it. He's still in there, but when he tries to speak, it just gives that noise."

"I switched that off!" Misty said, double-checking her pipbuck. The broadcaster wasn't even attached to it anymore.

"It got into his buffers, somehow," Lemon said, reaching out a hoof and touching the robot's nose. He looked at Misty. "He can't process it. He can't analyse it. He can't fix it. It's magic."

Misty looked at the robot, standing there forlorn in the middle of a field of death, his head bowed down. He looked... sad.

"Can't we... get him back, somehow?"

"I don't know, Misty," Lemon said. "It shouldn't be permanent; he wasn't actually exposed to the Pink Cloud. Just the radio broadcast. We just need to find a way to clear it from his system."

A beeping from Misty's pipbuck interrupted them. It was Nimblegait, again calling them from her little communication hub in Pipbuck Maintenance. Misty answered the call.

"We're here," Misty said, knowing Nimblegait didn't receive video. She looked around at the Steel Rangers. "The attackers..." She swallowed, hard. "...are all dead. It worked. But Teegee's hurt."

"Teegee? Your robot?"

"He's not our robot!" Misty yelled. "He's his own... he's our friend, dammit."

"He got damaged?" Nimblegait asked.

"Not physically," Lemon cut in. "The deadly noise is inside his system. We have no idea how to get it out."

"He sent me some files, just after he shut down the comms channel," Nimblegait said. "I haven't looked into them yet, but maybe they hold a clue?"

Lemon Frisk sighed. "I'm fairly sure I know what that is. And it probably won't help us."

Misty frowned. "Surely he wouldn't..."

Lemon gave her a sad smile. "You said it yourself. It's his life's work."

"What in Equestria am I looking at?" came Nimblegait's puzzled question from the other side of the line. "They seem to be... vectors. Patterns. Lines."

Lemon Frisk raised his eyebrow. "Not pictures?"

"Pictures? No, this is all mathematical and analytical data. Pictures would take hours to transmit through the wireless interface."

Lemon chuckled, and looked at the robot, whose visor showed some green specks. "Of course. Only the data ever mattered. No pictures. Just stripes. I should've known."

"We'll get you back, Teegee," Misty said. "I promise."

The robot didn't respond, but flecks of blue buzzed strongly through the static.

* * *

Before the large door had even fully opened, Nimblegait squeezed through, a cloud of tools, wires and terminals trailing behind her in the glow of her magic. She looked at the robot and stopped.

"Oh, wow!" she said. "That's just..." She frowned. "...rather unimpressive, actually. We should put him in power armour."

"Right now, we shouldn't put him in anything, except a safe place away from living ponies," Lemon Frisk said. He looked at Blinker. "Uh, and Diamond Dogs."

Nimblegait nodded, but still walked up to TGIF-1. She squinted as she looked into the staticky visor. "Right. Memory buffer, probably. We'll need to flush it." She looked at Lemon Frisk. "How do you interface with him? I don't see any access points. Heck, he doesn't even have a mouth."

"There are cables hidden inside his mane," Lemon said. "I've seen him take them out in the radar facility."

"Ah." Nimblegait put down the things she was carrying and used her impressively fine telekinesis to take control of the robot's mane. As if charged by static, a part of it spread out in all directions, revealing a number of different thicker pieces within. She scrutinized each of them. "Those are some really non-standard connectors. Annnd this one seems to be a fluid dispenser of some sort. Huh." She looked around and spotted Blinker. "You there! Yeah. Can you give me a claw, here? Those things can do stuff even my telekinesis can't."

Blinker raised an eyebrow and pointed a claw at himself. "Hyu vonts me?"

Lemon Frisk smiled. "If anyone can help you out with that rad meter, it's her, Blinker."

Blinker nodded. "Gud. Hy help."

"We'll leave you to that, then," Lemon Frisk said. He turned back to Nimblegait. "Be careful, though; this stuff is magic. I doubt you can just erase it from those buffers; you'll have to either release it or transfer it to something else. Do remember, it's deadly noise."

"Ooh. Transfer," Nimblegait said, grinning madly. "I didn't even think of that. Necromantic death in a box! Innnteresting!"

"Not really," Lemon Frisk said with a frown. "We still got the original broadcaster anyway." He walked into the open Stable Door, with Misty following closely behind. "And I'd prefer if it were never used again," he mumbled to himself as he walked in.

"I disagree with you on that," Vector Field said to him. He wasn't the only one waiting for them, either. Apple Twig was obviously there, too. For once, Lemon Frisk found himself actually looking forward to talking with her.

"We're not using that as defence mechanism, Vector Field," Lemon said. "I don't want anyone to have the power to kill every pony in front of that door."

"You have it," Vector Field threw back. "And it clearly worked."

"It poisoned my friend!" Lemon spat. "And Misty was the one who activated it."

"I only did it because I thought they killed you," Misty said to Lemon. "I really didn't..." She glanced back at the door and squeezed her eyes shut. "Oh dear Celestia."

Lemon looked at Vector Field and Apple Twig with an apologetic look on his face. "I'm very sorry, but it seems we'll have to continue this conversation later. Right now, our resident shrink needs to have a mental breakdown in the privacy of her own home, supported by her husband." He nuzzled Misty's cheek. "Come on, Misty. Let's go home."

* * *

Lemon Frisk and Misty Cloud were lying down on their bed. Misty was sobbing. Lemon was content just to hold her, letting her process the horrors at her own pace. He was somewhat glad the Rangers had been in power armour; at least she wasn't hit with the full gory scope of the situation.

"You didn't see Teegee's feed after my head regenerated?" he asked softly.

Misty slowly shook her head. "I... I saw that mare pull the gun. Teegee drew lines on the video feed showing his prediction of the shot, and then, a second later, it all played out as he'd shown. I freaked out and activated the broadcaster. Teegee had started moving, and the video feed was a jumbled mess, so I just got up and tried to run out there. Blinker stopped me. By the time he'd calmed me down, the feed was broken."

She sat up on the bed and looked at him. "You can really survive getting your brains blown out?"

"Not... really," Lemon admitted. "This was a really, really close call, and I'm glad Teegee was there to give my body a chance to regenerate. She was using exploding bullets, and she didn't look like she'd take any chances with a Canterlot ghoul. She'd have shot me in the head until she'd been sure I wouldn't 've gotten up again."

Misty hugged him. "Dammit, I almost lost you. I freaking committed mass murder for you."

"Technically, Teegee did it," Lemon pointed out.

Misty's head sagged down. "At least Teegee got to do the whole heroic sacrifice thing while he was at it. I just pressed the big red button."

"I really don't get that," Lemon said. "He had a fairly good idea of what it would do to him, and he still did it. Why?"

"Let's hope we get to ask him soon."

Lemon nodded. "Nimblegait's a clever mare. She'll figure it out."

"It keeps happening, though, doesn't it?" Misty said morosely. "Killing ponies keeps being the only way out."

"Nimblegait didn't kill those two inside," Lemon said, a faint smile on his face. "That's something, at least."

Misty leaned back on the bed. "Vector was right, though."

"About the Broadcaster?" Lemon sighed. "Maybe. The Steel Rangers are a large organization. They'll hear of this. We'll have to deal with them again, some way or another." He kissed her on the nose and leaned back as well. "But we'll worry about that later." He smiled at her. "No matter what happens next..."

Misty returned his smile. "...let's just enjoy this while it lasts?"

Lemon Frisk kissed her on the mouth. "Yes. Let's."

* * *

Misty and Lemon's bedroom door flew open with a bang. The two shrieked and stared at the chromed robot that had invaded their intimacy.

"Teegee!" Lemon Frisk shouted. "How the hell did you get in here?!"

"Nimblegait violated my End User License Agreement," the robot said enthusiastically, his visor a happy green, "and attached an interface converter to my connector, which allows me to interface with Stable-Tec components!"

Lemon Frisk blinked. "...What?"

"I hacked your door," TGIF-1 explained. "It took approximately one point two-three-six seconds."

"Ugh!" Lemon growled. Misty just laughed.

TGIF-1 ignored their reactions and rambled on. "I am happy to report that the obstruction outside has been eliminated. Shall we leave for the half-zebra settlement soon?"

"Dammit, Teegee!" Lemon shouted. "Get out!"

"Wait, wait!" Misty said, managing to keep her laughter under control. She looked at the robot, and her face became serious. "Why did you broadcast the signal, Teegee? It could've destroyed you."

The robot's green visor shifted back to its default blue, and his voice went back to its default monotonous drone. "I follow you two around because you are interesting. My assessment of the situation indicated that you were both going to die unless I broadcast the signal."

"But... why did you do it?" Misty asked.

TGIF-1 turned around to leave, but looked back at them.

"You two are more interesting than I am."

With those words, TGIF-1 left the room and closed the door, leaving the two stunned ponies to the privacy of their bedroom.

~~== THE END ==~~

Footnote: Level up! Current level: 16.
New Perk: Pony-Cyborg Relations (level 2): Yup. You're stuck with him. Sorry about that, folks.

 
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