What happened before:
>You ventured towards Dog-occupied industrial district and harbour, avoiding a sniper on your way thanks to sewer tunnel.
>Road was blocked by Equestrian barricade, seemingly friendly but battered soldiers were stationing there and guarding the place.
>Occasion wasn't wasted and you used the opportunity to gather some news and share information about what you saw on your way - including your Changeling theory. In short, situation in Fillydelphia and whole country was dire yet not completely hopeless. One of the soldiers offered to take you to the other side of barrcade, to the industrial district and you took it.
>It was a trap - the mare, named Thorn, was leading a group of thugs. You hid from them and left to the roof to have upper ground. It was a wise decision, later you were able to take one of Thorn's sidekicks, discovering that he was serving her involuntarily. In fact, most of her band was just too scared to say a word against the mare who seemed more wicked the more you listened to her.
>Finally you managed to get her to climb to your position, she was so full of herself that she agreed to that. It was her mistake. Using her arrogance to your advantage, you hit her with a beton chunk, dazing her. Then you immobilized her by cutting back of her legs. After brief and violent interrogation you threw her off the roof and descended, half-conscious and overtaken by anger.
>Her lackeys dispersed fast, encouraged by pony you took hostage at first. Then with his help you hanged Thorn, ending her little reign of terror. Then you returned to the barricade and told everything.
>Soon you and one of most friendly soldiers, Frost, were on your way to report recent events to chief officer of the district, colonel of nobility.
>He immediately took action, commanding lockdown of whole place, interrogating soldiers. Last but not least, he shot captured bandits with exception of one who was appointed as crown witness.
>After that yo returned home, exhausted and mentally damaged by things you did and saw, only to overhear argument between your friends. They were concerned about your safety. Your look didn't help.
>Next day you finally went to look for your parents, with Hranchak by your side. Scurvy, ferry owner was a greedy bastard, but you convinced him that Hran should go for free. He will return for you when you hang something colorful near the river as a sign.
>Northern bank was less ruined, but it was complete mess, nearly devoid of living presence. No pony's land. Your block was empty and you stumbled upon a pile of dead uniorns in the basement. Thankfully, you also found a note from your father stating that he was alive, his location, and that one of his friends has something for you.
>Mentioned friend was named Rocky Bottom, he was an earth pony leading a community of survivors living in your old highschool. The thing he had for you was left by him somewhere in the sewers when he hid from Dog soldiers.
>Rocky nodded slowly, expressing that he understands everything when you asked if this mysterious thing that your father wanted you to hawe was worth the risk of venturing into a place that may or may not be pretty dangerous.
>It was no pony's land, everything was possible here and you were warned about bandits an marauders haunting whole place. Hence your last question. Was this thing worth the risk? Was it so awesome or whatever that you should leave your life at stake to get it?
>>"I don't know if this is worth it. You will judge by yourself when I will tell you what is it" said Rocky, and his tone was lowering with every single word until it turned into whisper. "I was afraid to do it back in the production room. Too many ears, too many minds. Your father had an arrowhead-shaped crystal that he wanted you to have. It was pearl white, turbid, but it was glowing sometimes. I don't know why."
>So the thing left by your dad was a crystal of some sort. Glowing noticed by Rocky indicates that it migh be magical.
>Strange, but you cannot remember that he had one.
>It sounded that this might be worth a try, however it almost certainly will delay your reunion.
>What do you want to do - see your father or look for crystal in the mall?
>There was but only possibility of solving this riddle without getting into too much possibly dangerous stuff.
>Asking your dad what he wanted you to receive.
>You were risking magical crystal disappearng from th mall it was left in, yes, but Rocky said it was secured. There's nothing that can go wrong, right?
"I think I would like to see my dad first" you announced after a long while sacrificed to hestitate. "Yes, definitely I'd like to do this first."
>>"Then what are we waiting for? Let's get there!"
"Wait, do you know where dad lives?"
>>"I'm a friend of him, am I not?" he smiled sadly when he said that.
"Yes you are" you replied. "But first I have to get Hran."
"Long story, he's my friend and he cares for me, maybe a bit too much sometimes."
>>"Are you sure that he's just a friend?" earth stallion wiggled his eyebrows.
"Of course!" you almost yelled. "And now I have to look for him."
>>"Okay, no problem. I will prepare and I'll be waiting for you near the entrance."
"Okay. So until then" you responded and roe up from your place.
>Rocky gave you a hoofshake, nearly shaking your soul out of your body.
>Damn he was a strong pony.
>After that you left to look for your friend.
>You weren't too worried about him, he was out of his mind but not completely mad. Which meant he won't get beaten up.
>Finally you found Hranchak, he was talking to some youger inhabitants of your school.
>You approached him and he turn around, you almost took a step back.
>His face was empty, just like when he discovered unicorn bodies with you.
>>"I don't want war anymore" he announced with little tears forming in corners of his eyes.
"What about a little walk?" you said, trying to sound casually. Hranchak nodded.
>>"A walk. Okay. Walk is okay" he said, adding some words you couldn't recognize. "Just walk."
>To you surprise, before his well-being you put a question if he could use his rilfe properly.
>You met with Rocky soon enough, Hran wasn't opposing, mumbling somethig about defending ponies.
>When you left the school, orange stallion immediately turned from sad guy to defender ready to use his weapon, and you liked that.
>Whatever he was told, he was still up and running, maybe far from breaking. You hoped so.
>Your dad's friend was ready, when you aproached he was giving last orders to his community, he greted you with a smile.
>>"You ready? Good. Remain at my back" he said.
>Some time passed without any events, and you reached your daddy's hideout.
>It was almost intact, like much of buildings surrounding it.
>Yet some brave souls decided to choose it as their camp site, much to your displeasure.
>Door was opened, but you couldn't see anybody nearby.
>Building wasn't too big - it was a home able to sustain two families. Getting around was not a big deal, so you carefully did that, along with your companions.
>Much to your surprise Hran was the calmer one this time, keeping Rocky quiet and scolding him for too much noise.
>This role reversal was bringing a small smile to your lips and you felt more courageous now, thus you immediately decided to take a peek through all the windows.
>You saw some strangers here and there.
>Then your heart started to beat much faster.
>Your dad was between these strangers doing stuff in the house.
>He was... commanding them?
>It looked like he was the boss here. You could catch him gesturing to these other ponies and they complied.
>He was a leader, it seemed, so there was no possibility of something bad happening, you assumed.
>Then you had to explain this to your companions, mostly Hran. Rocky was fast to accept that your dad could lead a group of ponies, but orange stallion wasn't so fond of the concept.
>After making him believe that nothing bad is going to happen, you decided to change your position, rise up and casually approach the house to make clear that you are coming.
>You tried to make it clear that you are approaching with your comrades and it was successful, for nopony shot at you, although they were alarmed.
>You walked close to the building and took a deep breath.
"I want to see my father" you said when you were close enough.
>There was nopony by the fire, but two earth ponies walked in your sight when you said that.
"Your leader, pegasus named Sunray" you said, trying to remain cold and calm.
>They whispered to each other, turned around and returned along with...
>He changed much. He was grim, he looked like he was holding a great weight on his back.
>And his left foreleg... it was gone. You felt tears in your eyes again.
>He looked at you and your friends with bored expression that immediately changed to great astonishment.
>>"S-Spring?" he asked in suddenly weakened voice. "You... you are here! SPRING!"
>Yours and his mind gave you same orders. You ran towards each other, with more or less visible crying, and you hugged your father and he hugged you.
>Both guards and your friends were stunned, but neither Sunray nor you cared, closed in hug more durable than bunker.
>Time passed, and neither you nor your dad wanted to let go. Even after you heard ponies clearing theit throats.
>It was your daddy who regained composure first. He kissed you right in the nose.
>>"I knew you are alive!' he said "I never doubted it! My teeny tine mare, cute little Spring!"
"Daddy, I'm not tiny!" you said, not even regretting that you couldn't withhold this.
>>"Fine, my great adult mare. Where have you been?"
"Places. I live by suburbs border in the southern bank. I missed you so much dad, why didn't you send me a message?"
>>"How? Since bridges were blown up, I couldn't find a way to the other side. How did you manage to do so?"
"I found a guy named Scurvy, he owns a raft.
>>"Raft! Unbelievable! He could ferry us all to the other side..."
>>"He's greedy" interrupted Hran "I bet he already selled his own mother for this raft."
"Right. He demmands worthy things for his services."
>>"Just lure him here and we will care about the rest" said your father calmly.
>These were words of your dad? He sounded almost like a bandit of some sort. Did he really said that?
>He saw your expression.
>>"What's the matter, Spring?"
"What do you plan to do to the ferry guy?" you asked.
>>"I just want him to learn things. Greed is not a good trait, you should remember that" he responded, not noticing a slight hint of worry in your voice.
>>"Yeah, we'll show 'im!" said one of the guards, other nodded, shaking a pipe he wielded slightly.
"Do you want to... use force?"
>>"Force's relative. I want to teach him a good lesson."
"You know that 'a good lesson' is one that one caln learn from, right, dad?"
>>"He ceratinly will see the error of his ways, heh."
"No. Wait. I mean that hurting him isn't the best idea."
>>"He's a shitty pony" added Hran all of a sudden "and gods will punish him one day. But now he's a way fro ponies who want to cross the river. We are not gods to judge and punish, not too often, that is."
"Whatever he said, he's right. If you beat him up you might convince him to stop ferrying ponies at all and this will be a bad thing."
>>"Hey, I said important things!" Hranchak was not too happy to be summed up by 'whatever'.
"You are right, I just had to sum it up, okay?"
>>"My daughter's right, we all know what she was referring to, there's no need to be upset."
>>"So what do you want me to do, Spring? Leave this guy alone or something?"
"Does he hurt you and your group in any way, dad?" you asked.
>>"No, but he..."
"No buts dad" you interrupted, much to his surprise. "He is greedy, yes, but nothing more. He didn't try to attack anypony, neither he tried to cheat us. He did everything he was paid for."
>Your dad sighed.
>>"So you want me to leave him alone."
"He might plainly refrain from ferrying ponies if you'll hurt him" you said, but only to reassure your dad. You felt like he needed reasons other than 'it's not right'.
>>"Okay then, Spring. I am not a villain in this game, nevermind what they say about old Sunray and his crew. Did you got the thing?"
"Nope. I meet Rocky..."
>>"Wait, so where is he?"
>>"I'm right here, you dummy!" said Rocky cheerfully, reminding that he was also a part of this group.
>>"Hold up!" your dad said "So you want to tell me that this ragged, thin stallion is my friend Rocky Bottom?"
>>"Duh" added Hran.
>>"I'm not that thin, you dip."
>>"Who do you call dip?" Sunray replied to more built earth stallion. "Rocky could break me in half."
>>"Times changed. I had... other things on my mind than keeping myself fit." Bottom was seemingly saddened.
>>"Whatever you did, it must have been a good thing. You are not a pony who would turn to crime so easily" your father patted his friend's back. "And this is a good thing. I have definitely too many bandits around and aunt's getting paranoid. Believe it, one day I had to check latrine! From the inside!"
>>"Harsh, man" said Hran cringing visibly. "And I thought unicorn basement was gross."
>>"Hold it. Wait. What did you say?"
>>"I said unicorn basement. They, I mean Dogs, killed good bunch of unicorns there" your orange friend tried his hardest to not say 'stickheads' or something similar. "Before you ask, it happened in your block."
>>"These fucks!" your dad was outraged. "When?"
"I don't know."
>>"I think about four days ago, maybe more" said Hran. "I'm not a butcher to judge."
>>"And I have one of them in my basement! Corn!" your father yelled at one of the guards. "Heat the stove, I had a debt to pay!"
>It sounded like torture plan. Not like your caring daddy.
Because fuck alcoholism. One or two more good posts. Relatively good.
>Your dad was now giving commands to a bunch of ponies, they were preparing to hurt somebody and you knew it.
"Dad wait!" you yelled at him, not thnking too much about your decision.
"Who do you have in your basement?"
>>"Why would you care?"
>Well, this was right question. Why shoudl you care for some random unknown person?
"First of all, you don't really sound like my dad" you said calmly, almost coldly.
>Sunray stiffened and straightened up.
>>"You think?" he simply said and this time your friends withdrawed immediately, knowing that this was a family talk.
"Yes I do. The pony I remembered as my father would think twice before ordering to torture a living thing..
>>"I didn't... eh. Nevermind. Stir, could you tell Corn to slow down a bit?"
>>"Of course. Why so much conflicting decisions?" asked remainig guard.
>>"I think I need a long talk, Stir."
>>"Yes, Ray. Gotta hold Corn."
"You know, dad, if the person you hold captive is an enemy soldier he can be given to our own troops to be interrogated" you tried to make your acts more valid in given situation.
>Partially because you took a glimpse of more than one doubtful glances. Everypony besides Hran sent you one.
>Latter thing was that pegasus behaviour was off right now.
>>"I guess I need a while" said your father after a long while. "I don't even know how to greet you besides a hug, Spring. I-I don't know what to do. Should I accompany you, stay here, continue to look for your mum? You appeared out of nowhere. I love you as much as I can but... I thought my precious Spring was gone.
>Sunray's eyes were full of tears when he shared this with you. He seemed absolutely torn and internally divided, but far from broking.
>He was a stallion on crossroads. Were it you who started this?
>Or maybe he felt a sting of some bad feeling?
>Your dad regained his authority and composure by some sharp, short orders, deciding that faith of unknown prisoner had to be determined yet.
>He tried to ask some more about the crystal, however he was informed just about Rocky's doings.
>You spent some time with you father, but you felt alien to him. Some time passed, and you couldn't get more ground that casual smalltalk.
>He was so distant form you. You felt dissapoint. Later it was only made worse when he introduced you to his aunt, living in an improvised bunker constructed underground.
>She sounded like real boss of the place. She was an old mare, but differently old from Kalina. Konjeslav mare seemed to be born to cuddling, but your father's aunt was sharp as a knife or even more. You felt that every foal or filly in her lap would get cut to death.
>You didn't feel too god in this place.
Tell me if too much mistakes were made.
I don't trust this stallion, even if he is her father.
We must cut all contact with him, we shouldn't have even mentioned the ferry guy, I don't want this cheeki breeki near our friends.
Lets gather as much intel about that crystal as we can and get the fuck out.
It seems to me that he despaired after thinking his family was lost and made some very bad decisions. We're here now though, we need to remind him of who he was and try to at least get him thinking about right and wrong again.
>Home of your dad's aunt was relatively remote, surrounded by nothing but other larger or smaller villa-styled houses. You assumed that such a proud pegasus as she was would love to live in a traditional cloud building, but she didn't. It was a status thing, probably, house's interior seemed to be filled with old pieces of art, expensive furniture, you even found crystal chandelier.
>You were able to see all that because despite outright prohibition of aunt your father made sure that you could move around the house and garden freely.
>Hran started to wander around and admire various things he found, Rocky took your dad for a talk when you finished yours to get your thoughts together.
>Not exactly fond of wasting too much time while you waited for Rocky to finish his conversation, you met ponies that were living here.
>Corn and Stir, earth stallions serving as guards. Rabble and her friend who didn't wanted to reveal her name were duo of earth mare scavengers. And finally reclusive Needle - unicorn stallion with pretty good medical knowledge.
>All of them were making a survivor group, and from what they said you got that it was a rather peaceful team. Relatively speaking. Sunray had something they all called "white knighting complex" and he liked to bring justice and punishment to ponies that in his opinion deserved it. And by Celestia, he was ruthless. He often resorted to physical tortures when he was "punishing" wrongdoers, however not to a great extent.
>To sum it up, you thought that your cuddly, tender and caring dad turned to vengeful and violent pony.
>You started to understand why you and him grew distant. He thought that he lost you and tried to... atone for it? It looked like this. Repent and then atonement by punishing bad guys. But he probably didn't know a certain thing you heard or read somewhere. A quote from a book you had to read in last year of highschool.
>'He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.'
>Finally Sunray and Rocky showed up, you couldn't even tell where they were hiding while they chatted.
>Rocky had a firm expression on his face and your dad seemed to be sad.
>You noticed that he avoided looking you in the eyes.
>You heard tall earth stallion clearing his throat.
>>"I will be away for some time and I really won't be around to interrupt a talk between father and his daughter!" he said in obvious manner. "And certainly nopony else will want something from the father right now!"
>Then he trotted to a different room, leaving you alone with Sunray.
>Pegasus wasn't too eager to start talking on his own accord, so you decided that you can start by asking some questions about the crystal.
>And your mum.
>You came closer and sat in one of armchairs. He immediately followed your example with a sigh of relief. You couldn't even imagine how hurtful standing on only three legs must be to him.
"Can I ask you a question?"
>>"Sure thing, Spring" he tried to smile. It looked more like wince of pain to you.
"Do you know where mom could be?" you immediately regretted asking, because for a second actual painful expression showed on his muzzle before he hid it.
>>"She never returned from the industrial district, from her workplace" he said. "I don't know where she could be and I couldn't even be sure if she's still alive. I listen to list of dead and her name is not there, but how many bodies were never found?"
>You didn't know how to respond, so you sat in silence.
>>"And these parts of Fillydelphia are occupied by Dogs. And if this thing in the basement was a part of something greater... I'm doubtful that she made it."
>>"I'm sorry. Everytime I thought about you and my wife I couldn't remain calm. So after some time I stopped thinking. At least outside my bed."
"I know. I missed both of you so much. I just had to look for you!"
>>"And this is what I love in you. Determination. It's good to see you again, to know that you are alive, but..."
>>"As you said, I am not the same pony I was before. Now I see it, now I know it" he said quietly. "Those things I have done... Can you forgive me?"
Seven people that invest their time and imagination in story we all write here. Thank you for that. For your efforts. They mean a lot, even if it is just some text on anonymous weeb imageboard.
Suggestions regarding gathering intel about crystal will be used in next post.
>He looked at you in anticipation, waiting for your words with same expression that you saw in some movies you watched to kill the time between work hours. Expression of a convict waiting for judge's sentence, usually delivered by heavy, deep words. But you weren't judge, your daddy wasn't a convict and lastly you didn't have booming, bass voice.
"I can forgive you, of course" you said, making your voice calm and warm, assuring. "We are still family, dad, and times are hard. You have changed. I have changed. But this doesn't mean that we shall forget who we were, we should do exactly otherwise. Remember that we are good ponies and act like ones. Even when grim events will force us to do something not quite nice, we should know that this isn't our way. We aren't monsters and we have to try hard to not turn into them."
>You took a short break to see Sunray's reaction. His ears were down, he was looking at the floor, taking your words in silence. You heard Rocky telling somepony that your dad is busy at the moment.
"This war separated us. The enemy took everything from us and from all the ponies. Joy, peace, good rest, wellbeing, relatives homes, health, satiety, even lifes."
>He closed his eyes and nodded slowly, a tear rolled down his cheek.
"But don't let Dogs take away who you are. For making us forget that there is still light and hope in our lifes is their greatest and most important victory. Breaking our spirit, throwing us in the darkness means that they already won the war in your soul, dad."
>You actually had a hard time now. It wasn't only your dad who needed convincing, who needed these words.
>Second person who should think about what you say was nearby. In fact, she was in the very same room. You also had to assure yourself that everything you said is truth. That you aren't bad pony and despite the lynching you did back then, you didn't turned from light.
>However you should refrain from that kind of actions in the future.
>Your dad broke the inactivity by rising from his seat and giving you a firm hug. You immediately returned it, feeling warm tears streaming from your eyes.
>Soon you formed a lump of crying, but it wasn't bad kind of it. You felt like you were letting out something thick, black and nasty from yourself. You were cleaning your soul by this activity.
>And you hoped that your dad did the same.
>It got visibly darker when you and him finished and regained composure. It took several sniffs to fully calm down, but you both shared a smile. Genuine one.
>You felt better and judging from shy sparks in Sunray's eyes, he did too.
>Now you could ask him more about the magical crystal he so much wanted you to have
>Pegasus eagerly told you that he found it when he was on one of his many escapades - he tried to find your mom and you, but blowing up bridges stopped him from getting to the southern bank.
>He spared the details, saying that he had to acquire it in violent circumstances from Equestrian deserters looting some bank.
>Magic of the trinked was indicated by sloght glow when anypony was casting spells nearby. Your dad wasn't able to determine how this thing works and what is its purpose.
Up from not until I get too tired to run.
>Information was pretty vague, but getting the crystal, or at least trying, still sounded like a good way to spend rest of slowly dying day.
>After you and your dad agreed on that, fiinally your talk came to an end, at least for now.
>Pegasus assumed straight face, and opened the door, announcing that he is availible again and might listen to whatever his companions want to tell him, solve problems and whatnot.
>You were left alone, however he said that if you think Hran's presence feels insufficient, he might send one of his guys to guard you and help with getting the crystal.
>In the meantime Hranchak finished a vegetable stew that was given to him and happily joined you, waiting for departure. He said with a laugh that he already managed to make your family uterly mad by just touching a vase in wrong time - Sunray's aunt was doing her routine patrol and stumbled upon orange stallion with vase in his hooves.
>Still you could notice that his behaviour was slightly forced, he tried to forget about whatever he heard in school from survivors living there.
>Being empathetic and guessing what ponies might feel was really useful sometimes, you thought.
>After brief preparations you were ready to go. Do you want to take additional companion with you or not? What about extra precautions, can you think of any?
Next post will be made faster.
I think "gun" was a metaphor here.
>Having one more pony in your team during potentially dangerous journey seemed like a good idea.
>If one of them is okay with accompanying you of course.
>It wasn't a problem to ask your dad for a pony to help you, however you felt that making him force somepony to do your bidding wasn't right, especially the talk you had with your father.
>Thus you simply asked around, looking for folks eager to go with you.
>It didn't take long, in fact one of designated guards, Stir, wanted to go with you, justifying his decision by the fact that he was rarely leaving the place and he wished for opportunity to wander around the city for quite some time.
>The grand trio, as you called it in your mind, of you, Stir and Hranchak moved out to the streets.
>Only your orange friend had a gun, Stir was armed with a hoe he got from shed in mansion's garden.
>Finding a way to the mall wasn't exactly difficult task, your new comrade knew the way well enough, he once lived nearby as he said.
>You passed some streets, several looted shops, and entered next district. It was significantly more damaged by shells and it was easy to spot signs that rather fierce battle took place here.
>You still saw some barricades, sandbag covers, wrecked vehicles, some bodies.
>And a burned Solarist temple. It was decorated with some blood and streams of doggish graffiti. You knew it was doggish because sunweb symbol appeared more than once.
>Its doors were bashed and you could see a little fire inside. There were no ponies or Canidians guarding the place.
>It was getting dark.
>Investigate or ignore and continue your journey?
>You stopped, making sure that you and your companions remained hidden. You all gathered behind remnant of a wall, probably part of the manse.
"Should we investigate?" you asked quietly. You wanted to do it, but now you had two ponies that might have different opinions.
>>"Yeah" replied Stir "Whoever is there, he's not careful so we might go and check the place."
>>"Don't be so reckless here. It might be an ambush for too confident ponies" opposed Hran, acting entirely opposite to stallion you befriended back in the suburbs, you noticed.
>>"It might be, yes, but I say that determining if it's true will pay off in the future. If it is a trap, we will be aware of bad guys' presence. If not, we can get some information."
>>"Fine, I guess. It's not like I can't plant some rock salt in their asses. I'm just worried about Spring here."
"I think I can take care of myself, thank you. So we investigate."
>>"It looks like it."
>When it was confirmed, you all left your cover and carefully approached the temple entrance from different directions, paying attention to every possible place that could hide an opponent.
>Fortunately temple's exterior was empty and you could crawl closer and see who was inside.
>Little fire you saw was from multiple candles carefully placed on the cracked altar.
>Celestia's Sun - Solarist symbol of faith - was relocated. It seemed like someone torn it from it's place. It was surrounded by more candles.
>Despite it's bad state, temple was relatively clean.
>In front of the altar a figure in white robe was sitting, back turned to you.
>Poor light and many shadows were creating a great opportunity to set a trap for anypony that would enter the building.
I doubt Spring's able to use a "gun".
>You were wary and none of you wanted to immediately enter the temple and risk getting attacked by unknown troops.
>Thus you decided to see it the robed figure is even alive. You took a stone with your magic and tossed it with quite a force into the temple.
>It hit the marble floor and bounced twice, making the figure to cringe and cock it's head towards source of sound.
>He or she was a very light green pony, unicorn.
>Nothing else happened, if other people were present in the building, they stayed quiet.
>"Who's there?" you heard a raspy mare voice. "If you are good, show yourself, if bad, begone!" she announced in dramatical tone.
>After quick chat you stepped into weak rays of candle light, your comrades remaining hidden and ready.
"I'm Spring, I don't look for trouble. And who are you?" you exclaimed clearly, showing that you don't have any weapons in your hooves.
>"My name is sister Candle. I think it fits this place well" she said, and you could hear that despite the joke, her voicce was sad. "May I help you with something? Our Bright Goddes may be a bit busy, but her humble servant is always here to aid ponies in need."
"I won't ask for too much, sister Candle" you said politely, taking a while to admire acoustics of this place when you did. "I'm heading to the mall nearby and I'd like to know if there are any dangers in the area."
>"You have to be more specific, Spring, for everything can be a danger not only to your body, but also to your soul."
>Great. Is this the faith talk? You were not going to have the faith talk.
"I mean enemy forces, deserters, marauders, snipers, regular bandits. I also want to know it there are any obstacles along the way" you remained polite, but you added some firmness to your voice.
>"I don't think there are any nearby" she replied slowly "However everyone except regular Canidian soldiers wanders around, not too fond of sitting in one place. You may encounter a pack of deserters. They were here not too long ago, short after noon. They didn't hurt me, but I cannot promise that they would leave you alone. I have nothing, you have saddlebags."
Shame that I cannot into lewd, right?
"Thanks that you warned me, I'll try to avoid them."
>"I'm glad to help. Is that all?"
"Yes, I have to get going. Stay safe, sister Candle."
>"Farewell Spring, may Sun always shine upon paths you choose" she made a gesture of blessing.
>You weren't a religious pony, you used "by Celestia" and similar phrases just because everypony was using it and it was convenient. Yet you felt better when you turned around and left the temple.
>Soon Stir and Hran joined you and you told them about the deserters possibly prowling nearby.
>All of you were extra cautious and hid very often, especially when reaching open spaces like squares or intersections. You still feared of snipers, especially when you found bodies in the open, but you didn't meet anyone on your way to the mall.
>The building was partially collapsed, but you were able to enter and leave it freely. It was probably used as a storage or maybe a defence spot once, you saw sandbag covers again and also some chests and boxes. A torn flag was still flapping above the mall.
>It wasn't Equestrian flag.
>Determining if the place was inhabited by anyone was not possible at the moment, so you began to walk around the mall in search of other entrances, partially because you didn't want to walk in through the front one and partially because you counted that you can see some movement or signs of presence.
>Fortunately or not, you didn't find anything that could indicate if place was occupied or empty.
>You had much more luck with entrances, there were three of them: two side entrances allowing ponies to get in from different streets and one staff entrance. Latter was the only closed and intact, rest was wide open or even they had their doors bashed.
>You also discovered emergency ladder, leading to the flat roof.
>Which way do you want to choose? There is also other option - entering through collapsed parts of the building. It was pretty risky, you didn't knew if rubble and remaining walls were stable, but this way should be unguarded.
>You picked the staff enterance and your decision was silently approved by Stir.
>Hran wanted to use the ladder, but both you and other stallion dissuaded him, gently reminding him of snipers or even bandits skilled enough to take him down.
>Soon you unlocked the staff door - it seemed that Stir is quite experienced in opening things without using a key - and entered a simple corridor painted creamy white.
>It was straight and dull, just as you would expect, and it led you to some rooms like CCTV, staff cafeteria, locker room, security room, then into the exact mall.
>It looked generic with two floors, escalators, fast food bistro, shops that selled only clothes, jewellery, books and movies.
>It was littered with some debris, gun shells, cans, ashes from fires and dispersed, sometimes torn sandbags.
>Crystal was, of course, nowhere to be found, you tried to lift something, because little trinket was supposed to glow when magic was used nearby. It didn't help.
>You still weren't in the open of the mall and this was the reason why you weren't immediately spotted by uniformed Dog walking around.
>With help of your friends you were able to notice several more of them, looting, sleeping or talking quietly to each other.
>Their uniforms were somewhat ragged, they seemed pretty careless.
>Squad wasn't numerous. You counted eight enemy soldiers.
I think I will post one more time if I will be able to. Tomorrow I might post a picture kind Anon made for me, if you wish.
I don't see how we could reasonably search while they are there. If we can't see the glow we're not going to find it without them seeing us. A distraction might have helped, but without knowing where it was it would leave very little time to find it.
Today is the Revolution Day. Cheers. Also I said that I will show you a piece of art kind Anon drawn for me.
>Soldiers occupying the mall had no regular patrol routes, in fact, they weren't patrolling at all. You and your friends observed them to come up with a solution to the crystal problem, so you noticed that they have some common sense and sometimes one of them checks the main entrance and those on the building's sides.
>For the first time you saw enemy troops in relatively peaceful conditions. It was whole new experience to gaze upon those responsible for brutal murders, heavy bombardments, breaking ponies' spirits and general misery. They seemed... normal now. Your nicer side suggested you a picture of group of close friends hanging around, having a good time together. You knew it was probably stupid, they might turn violent at any given moment, however you were reminded of Bunia.
>Noticing uncertain glances of your companions you shook of all these thoughts, focusing on much more important things, like getting what you were after.
>Rocky told you that he hid the crystal in a 'secure place', but didn't give you any details that would help in your search.
>Secure meant that it won't be easily discovered, so basically many stores here could be excluded by default, especially bistro. These are the places that get ransacked first.
>Thus you probably had to look for the magical thingy in places that wouldn't gain potential pillagers' attention or were unknown to them.
>In the building's interior only stores that could be spared or at least less carefuly searched were book and movie shops.
>Backrooms, on the other hoof, were whole another matter. You didn't noticed signs of looters' activity there.
Distraction suggestion wasn't ignored, it will be used when opportunity appears.
It's probably hidden in a place only she and her dad would know, so we need information.
"Dad used to read me this book "
"I loved this movie".
It's just a theory.
Another theory I have is about that crystal.
It probably was made to find changelings, I imagine they're casting when transformed so it would shine when close to a transformed changeling.
>You decided that you might follow the first choice that you came up with - the security office. Hran was supportive of this idea, while Stir thought it was definitely too simple to work.
>Thus you left him to guard the staff corridors, while you and Hranchak returned to the security room to search for magical crystal.
>Room was rather empty: a single locker, loading pads for walkie-talkies, two coffee makers, some motivatinal posters, two desks and a fridge. It was rather prosperous mall if it could afford al; this stuff for security guys, but you weren't here to admire this.
>You wanted to find the mysterious trinket and you immediately started a slow, careful and scrutinous search to find it, using your magic from time to time to see if it will glow nearby.
>And it did.
>A dim, purple to blue light appeared under one desk when you were close to it.
>You crouched and crawled under the desk to take a closer look.
>It was here.
>Arrowhead-shaped crystal, not too big, glowing whenever you tried to use your magic and disrupting it a bit - you could feel it's interference.
>It was warm on touch and you felt somethig when you touched it.
>Like a feeling you experience when greeting an old friend.
>You have found what you were after.
Congratulations, it was a simple riddle. I may be utter shit at passing down information to you. Sorry.
>During the search you found two spare security uniforms, bag of coffee to dissolve in hot water, pack of patches and one walkie-talkie.
>You took everything with you, deciding that you will keep the crystal as close to yourself as you could.
>Then there was one thing to do, get Stir back. After that, you were free to go, unnoticed. There were still plenty of backrooms places to visit freely if you want.
>There was other option, a third way. First room that you decided to visit next was CCTV room.
>You could find something there, but even if you won't there was a possibility of using the cameras if they were up, you could check the Dogs' movement and see if they are not coming in your way.
>That would also help in determining if you were discovered or not.
>You got to CCTV easily, you knew the way, however it was useless move to make, since none of cameras was working.
>There was no electricity in whole Fillydelphia, you remembered, and even if cameras had batteries, they would be depleted bby now.
Locker room gave you some clothes you could use for lint apart of uniforms, you had bag of patches, walkie-talkie and bag of dissolvable coffee. Nothing more was here.
>You decided to finish your scavenging in this place by visiting last backroom that was promising without risking getting discovered.
>Place that could potentially be filled with food, even if there was a fast food bistro nearby. Worth a try nevertheless, you thought.
>To your happiness, Hran was thinking the same and he eagerly followed you and help with search happening right away.
>There was a big bain-marie, emptied, fridges that were not working, and a little storage.
>It was containing a decent stockpile of dry food and cans. Too much to take in your saddlebags.
>You packed everything you could, making sure that you were using all the space you can, while simultaneosly trying to arrange all these things in a way that they would not jingle.
>It wasn't difficult, however it took consierable amount of time, you couldn't judge how much without Sun. You were feeling a big weight on your back.
>Despite that, you got Stir from his position, hearing that nothing happened and no Dog was alarmed by your presence, leaving the mall afterwards.
>Your job here was done, and you weren't too fond of scavenging here, althought Stir, later with Hranchak's help tried to convince you to harm Canidians.
>Sun was below horizon and it was getting dark quickly. Soon you will be prone to mistakes and route will most likely become unrecognizable, even for Stir.
>Decision was quick, and more to your surprise, mutual. All of your companions voiced the same option.
>>"Let's sleep at the temple."
"Let's sleep at the temple."
>>"Let's sleep at the temple."
>Well, this was one good examle of unintended hivemind.
>Soon you arrived at the temple, greeted by same pony that was here before.
>She talked something about your meeting being enlightened but you didn't listen too carefully, more focused on the crystal.
>It was slightly shaking when you were in the building. Lightly, but strong enought to startle you ever so slightly.
Granny wanted attention. 7th November, all that.
Examine crystal, I suppose.
>The trinket you recovered from mall ruins was glowing really slightly.
>Wherever you trotted, it's light was still at the same level.
>It looked like whole place was filled with evenly distributed background magic.
>Or that it was surrounded by magical creatures, but it was so unlikely that even imagining it gave you internal chuckle.
>Sister Candle was more than glad to help, althoght her possibilities were little.
>Manse was ruined, burnt to the ground by more fanatic Dogs, but sacristy should be good enough.
>If you don't want to sleep with her in the main part of the building of course.
>Stallons weren't against sleeping in one room with sister Candle.
>Common sense told you that you should remain out of sight and thanks to it you chose sacristy.
>It wasn't a big room, however it could easily sustain all three of you and maybe a pony or two more.
>Sister Candle understood your choice and returned to be engulfed in prayers singed in unknown language. She was doing it right between to loud and unable to discern, by closing sacristy doors you only reinforced this effect.
>Still you were not too fond of sleeping in here without any possibility of answering to danger, thus you talked with your friends to preare guarding routine. You agreed on three four-hour shifts.
>Hran was the first guard.
>While Stir was preparing to sleep, you walked closer to orange stallion.
>He was preparing to take his duty.
>>"What do you want?" he snapped, then tying to be more nice. "I'm sorry. Pretty tired, you know, I had to care for two more asses than usual."
"And I wanted to thank you for it" ignoring the part that you did some caring too on your search for crystal. "It's nice that you joined."
>>"Hey thanks. It's nice to see something besides basement walls too. And I can't complain at my company..."
>He tried his best, but you noticed almost invisible blush on his cheeks.
>>"It's a nice turn of events, Spring. Even if I saw some... weird stuff. You are so corageous, eager to find these savages. These monsters."
>He clearly wanted for some response.
"And who do you deem to be worthy of such a title?" you used formal language to mock Hran a bit, for some reason you felt like it.
>>"What?" your elaborate joke was ruined by a simple question.
"Who do you call savages or monsters?" you repeated, rephrasing your question.
>>"Unkh, I don't know. Why must you ask such difficult questions?"
"Somepony has to."
>>"Cheeky cunt" he muttered to himself.
>>"I didn't say anything! So who do I call monsters? he hestitated for a while, getting full rif of his slight blush and even managing to look straightin your eyes.
>>"It's simple. Cruel people beside us."
"What do you mean?"
>>"You know, we try to survive. It's good. But if we turn too greedy, it will be bad. Then we will become savages and monsters. Karochij, greedy bad guys."
>>"And who you do call monsters and savages?"
I have to get up early so I will pick up tomorrow before work and most likely night after. I hope you enjoyed session. Gunman lurker: I will buy air gun (bbgun?) in several months, any tips?
He's already cracking. We just need to butter him up a little. Ask him to help us with stuff, complimenting him every once in a while, maybe a little teasing here and there.
Sorry amigo, I don't know very much about air guns. In all honesty ask /k/ and maybe /out/. I just don't have any experience with the things so my advice wouldn't be worth your consideration. Sorry again.
I think it's cool your getting an air gun though. Are you going to be varmint hunting or shooting paper? Is there anything you need to do before you can buy an air rifle or can you just buy them off the shelf there?