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Operation Reclaim. The sum of everyponies efforts in Stable 23. When Stable-Tec started building, they promised a way out if an all-out megaspell attack came from the zebras. They promised a safe place for families to take shelter and wait out the destruction. For life to survive. This luxury came at a high price. Ponies sold everything they had, took out loans, and did whatever they had to get a spot in the treasured stables. They gave everything they had to insure that their name would live on, with the prospect of starting over when the world was ready. I say this quite solemnly; the stables were a lie.
The three heads of Stable-Tec were a group of tenacious young entrepreneurs, calling themselves The Cutie Mark Crusaders. They saw the horrible side to their own society and asked themselves ‘How did things get this bad?’. This made them realize, what would stop the survivors from just repeating the same mistakes they had? The answer was experiments. A few stables were designed as control stables, where no experiment was conducted and the main goal was survival. Most stables weren’t so lucky. Like most things, the tests were formed with all the best intentions. Some were less maliciously designed like Stable 102. It was sealed indefinitely for one hundred and fifty years, regardless of outside conditions. The test was to study the rate of DNA integrity degradation over several generations of in-breeding. Others were much more sinister. One of our recon teams determined that Stable 222 was subjected to large amounts of Olanzapine, a powerful anti-psychotic drug. It was in their water, food, even in the air. After awhile, the population started getting violent and it wasn't long before they began ripping the stable (and each other) apart. The pumps were still on when the recon team arrived, poisoning them every step of the way. When they returned one member completely freaked and slaughtered his wife and two foals.
Our stable was equipped with full virtual reality stasis pods to keep us living in the real world, but all our experiences were generated by the computer. Only two ponies were outside the pods, both being Stable-Tec scientists, Doctor Mobius and his assistant mare, Test Tubes. The stable would hang in stasis for fifty years to allow time to begin healing the world and would be revived when their expertise were needed. They did not know that once they were hooked in, they were at the mercy of Mobius and could not leave on their own. Time passed and Mobius started to become bored with his studies. He began conducting ‘experiments’ of his own, toying with their virtual lives as he pleased. He would control people and objects and force them to do sick things. If anyone died he would resurrect them and start his game once more. Soon Test Tubes caught on to what his was doing. Late one evening while eating the same Stable-Tec M.R.Es they ate every night, Test Tubes stabbed him forty five times
in the neck with a sharpened spoon/fork combo. She promptly released the stable from their virtual hell and became the De Facto Overmare. The pods were reprogrammed to simulate combat situations through PvP and Bot combat, as well as adding many user settings and controllability. Since the stable was designed to hold ponies in stasis for fifty years before being fully operational, supplies started getting strained around a hundred years under ground. This led to the establishment of the first Stable 23 Recon team.
Originally developed for stable stability, they were charged with the task of getting crucial supplies to keep the stable running. Their first task was to find some parts for the food processor used to make the stables meals. After a month the population was getting nervous that they had been killed but were relieved when the team showed up right in time for Hearths Warming Eve. They were met with great honor and gratitude and these positions became the most prized position in the stable, besides the Overmare. It wasn’t long until the stable was back up to 100% stability leaving the recon teams without assignments. This lack of duties eventually lead to the conception of Operation: Reclaim.
Reclaim was the brainchild of our fourth Overmare, Iron Hoof. She dreamt of a world under one rule, her rule. She began having recon teams trained in different areas including speechcraft, espionage, and deception. She began to wage a secret war on all fronts by infiltrating the different factions and destroying them from the inside. The plan was very elaborate, but she clearly underestimated the tenacity of the major groups. The Steel Rangers proved to be true burden to the project, uncovering our spies before they could fully assimilate to a position of power. The more teams that came back, the more she learned about the wasteland and its inhabitants. All this information was highly classified and only the Overmare and the Head of Surface Operations knew what she was planning.
I became part of the prestigious 4th Recon squad on my eighteenth birthday. I was assigned to this team due to my expert marksmanship skills and overall good standing with the stables higher-ups. Our first mission was to find a factory that was producing large levels of an ‘unknown chemical agent’. The mission was simple. We tactically deploy five miles east, go in and find any documents about the chemical, and plant enough C4 to shoot the factory straight to the moon. Being my first time outside I was naïve to how much deception went into everyday life.
We arrived during the dead of night around 0100 hours. From the outside it seemed abandoned, its large brick walls riddled with bullet holes and missing bricks here and there. The building only had two main points of entry, a small rusted door on the front and a loading dock out back. Both entrances had a terminal linking to a card reader to make sure no one could go snooping around. As we overlooked the factory my spotter, Star Dust, saw a sniper posted on
the roof. Star Dust was a little gray mare with a frizzy mane of orange. She was an excellent mathematician which in turn made her a superb spotter. Honestly, I didn’t see why she was accepted to the combat group instead of science but it wasn’t my place to question her life. She took out a note pad and started scribbling variables and equations while constantly rechecking her PipBuck.
“Range, seven hundred fifty yards, wind speed, six miles per hour. Temperature, sixty degrees. Recommend sight settings of -9.2 vertical, +13.8 horizontal. Round on target in .6 seconds. Fire when ready.” She said it so confidently, like she knew that with those measurements it would be impossible to miss. Those measurements combined with this beast of a gun I was behind were a deadly duo. In my hooves was the one and only Zeb-Tec .50 Caliber Anti-Material rifle. This thing has it all; 12X dual optic scope with night vision filter, padded stock, custom Never-Jam bolt, and a free floating barrel. This machine was originally developed to stop tanks and APC’s but its main use was being a power armor killer. While 5.56 rounds will more or less bounce off the heavily enchanted armor, this baby would rip through their armor like a tin can. Needless to say that hitting any pony with this thing would wipe them from the face of the earth. I chambered a round and readied my magic on the trigger. It was a strange feeling. When taking a long shot and being in control of the life or death of another pony, time seemed to slow down, almost to a complete stop. The round left my rifle and sped towards my target at break-neck speed. Star Dust said it would be .6 second before the round was on target but it felt like way longer. I couldn’t see where it hit him but the reassuring spray of blood was confirmation of a hit.
With the guard taken care of, our squad of four started making our way to the factory. Since the doors were secure, the only option we were left with was up. Tail Pipe retrieved a grappling hook from his pack and tossed it up to the roof. He was a jet black unicorn buck with a passion for automobiles and anything mechanical; hence his cute mark was a tail pipe. Here again was a strange addition to the team. Who gets a cutie mark for something that they had never actually seen aside from the books and would probably never get to use? It didn’t make sense but I wasn’t here to question my team, we were here to get results. I shimmied my way up the rope follow by Dust and Tail Pipe. Our demolitions expert, Short Fuse, stayed down on the ground to start rigging up the bombs. I never really liked him; he was part of Cherry Bomb's group of fuck tards so we didn’t see eye to eye. He had a coat of dark green with a swoopy mane of brown and beige.
Once we were on the roof I ditched the rifle on one corner of the building. We found the skylight over top of the main production room. We decided against going in guns blazing and found another one that was over an office. We carefully removed the window and slid down our rope in. The room was filled with file cabinets and the aroma of fresh fruit. This room was definitely being kept up by somepony. We left Dust in there to find what she could. A window from the room looked into the main production line. The room was occupied by massive machines
filled with different liquids as diverse as the colors of the rainbow. One machine would pump a brownish liquid to another machine that would make it red, then to another machine that turned it green, and so on and so forth until the solution came out a bluish clear liquid at the end of the line. The liquid was filling up one drum every two minutes and the workers would load them into wooden crates. Tail pipe left the room and went down to the main floor and started setting his charges. I followed suit and set my charges near the south wall closest to the loading dock. I returned to find Dust neck deep in papers with a distressed look about her.
“Well what I’m reading isn’t matching up with what command briefed us on. They say that there aren’t any chemical agents in here at all. I found a ledger in the desk that shows sales to all the major cities in the area. I also found a manual for that machine out there. It says it can make a couple different chemicals but the system logs are on this terminal. They’re making water. ”
As the last word left her mouth the main floor erupted in gun fire. We both rushed over to the window to see what was happening. Tail Pipe was surrounded by enemies and looked injured. We both pulled out our assault rifles and started dumping rounds into the production floor. The workers quickly took notice and returned fire. The battle raged for about two minutes, a lot of pot shots and suppressing fire. As we tangled with the main group, I saw an enemy coming up behind him. I yelled up to try and warn him but it was too late. He was torn in half at the waist by the buck carrying a riot shotgun. I let out one round and watched it completely tear half of his head off as his body slumped to the ground. The fire fight continued for a bit longer. It was chaos. At this point, it was me and Dust verses eight well-armed ponies. We tactically retreated to another room and let the lead rain down. Bullet after bullet rained down upon them, tearing flesh and breaking bones, as we stood side by side blasting away.
I fell back in horror as a round torn straight through Dust's head and spraying blood all over the wall behind us. I was so close that when the bullet hit I felt the wind and got the whole left side of my head splattered with her blood. She dropped to the ground with a soft thump. From the other room I heard one shout “I got that bitch!” as they started closing in on the room. I quickly pulled a Med-X syringe out of my bag and jammed it in my leg. A little pharmaceutical courage never hurt anypony. I felt the drug seeping into my bloodstream and my body became more relaxed and comfortable. I set my last piece of C4 on the door and levitated two silver M1911 .45 caliber pistols from their holsters. If I was gonna die I was gonna go out fighting.
When I heard the sound of hoofs coming closer I blew the door. The explosion sent dust and
debris all around and the door became a flying mass of shrapnel. I bolted out and saw that two unlucky bucks had been filled with wooden fragments. I rounded the corner and was met with two more hostiles. I squeezed both triggers until I heard the click of empty magazines. Both bucks lay dead on the floor, bleeding from an array of inch-wide holes in their chests. I retrieved two more clips from my suits pockets and slammed them home. A mare came walking up the stairs carrying a 12 gauge shotgun and tossed a blanket of birdshot at me. My barding protected me a little but I felt the burning sensation of hot lead pellets all over my body. I quickly returned fire, putting two holes in her foreleg and one right through the side of her neck. For a brief moment, blood spewed from her neck, showering the hall in blood like an old timey garden sprinkler. She dropped with a resounding thud and rolled back down the stairs. I stopped and looked down at my body to see it ridden with bullet holes as well. I dropped down and used what power I had left to grab a healing potion out of my bag. I gulped it down fast and quickly felt it working its magic. I looked at my PipBuck to see that all the hostiles were eliminated and let out a sigh of relief. From behind my back I heard a soft *Crunch*. I immediately spun around and opened fire with both my pistols blind firing into the hall. My PipBuck said there were no hostiles but I saw the clear outline of something moving. I saw three of my bullets hit and cause the figures energy field to be disrupted. The field recovered and the figure quickly darted down the hall and jumped full speed out a window, not missing a beat as he hit the ground running and didn't look back. This whole OP was getting weirder and weirder.
I went back to the room with our fast rope set up. After retrieving the documents from Dust’s bag it was time to go. I clenched the rope and pulled myself back on to the roof and retrieved my rifle. Short Fuse was standing on the ground signaling me to get my ass down there. I grabbed the rope and quickly slid down to the ground.
“Short Fuse, we need to disarm these charges. We found out that our Intel was compromised. There are no chemical agents being made here. This ledger proves that they’re making water and selling it to the neighboring communities.” I said.
“Well I guess all there is to do now is tie up the loose ends.” He muttered.
Before I could react, Short Fuse levitated his 9mm submachine gun and filled my body with a hail of bullets. Round after round of searing hot metal entered and exited my body, ripping chucks of meat out with every hit. Who knows how many shots he hit me with, but he didn’t stop till the gun went click. I fell to the ground seeping blood from everywhere on my body and accepted my fate. My vision started getting fuzzy as I watched that bastard trot off with my rifle humming some show tune. I watched as he produced a detonator and pressed the big red button. His press was follow by a massive BOOM that shook the ground beneath me and sent hot air all across my backside. I stopped fighting to stay awake and slowly drifted away.
The next couple days were an almost psychedelic blur. It all felt so surreal, like I wasn’t in control but merely along for the ride. The ordeal began with me being dragged by figures that were too distorted to make out. They weren’t dressed like most ponies in the wasteland. I could see that they wore some kind of tribal gear and had strange marking all across their bodies. I was taken to a cave and set in front of a massive grey buck that wore the skull of a deer over his head. He mumbled some words that sounded like more of an incantation than dialog. Over a fire placed in the middle of the cave was a pot brewing a strange bright pink liquid. The buck grabbed a ladle fashioned from an animal’s skull and scooped a bowl full out. He walked over to me and poured the magical potion down my throat. The concoction tasted somewhat like carrot cake and paint thinner with the consistency of a bowl of cereal. As the brew hit my stomach my bodies natural enzymes kicked in and started to attack the foreign substance. I fought to keep it down as my stomach heaved and burnt. Finally it all became too much and I threw up all over the cave coating the ground in front of me with pink sludge.
As my head rose I saw that they world had become more vivid and living. The walls breathed on cue with the beating of by heart. The stalactites that hung from the top of the cave were now swaying back and forth, like a crowd of people waving to me. Everywhere I looked the colors were changing, lush greens, neon pinks, and all the colors under the rainbow. Some of them I was sure that I had never seen before and they changed constantly. I looked to see the leader surrounded by his tribe, all them changing different colors right in front of me. They started chanting loudly, the sounds echoing off the walls amplifying the intensity of the experience. At first the sounds assaulted my ears, their words melting together confusing my brain. Soon the chanting became soothing in a way, calming the multiple sensory overloads I was having at the moment. As the chanting grew lower I slowly felt myself drifting away from reality…
Blocks. Lots and lots of blocks. I was sitting on my flank playing with blocks. The tiny orange unicorn I'm assuming is my sister is sitting beside me gnawing on a rubber chicken. Looking around I can see cakes, lots of cakes. Honestly, just a ridiculous amount of cakes. On the main counter sets a 3 tier chocolate cream cheese cake. One thing I know for certain is I will have that cake. Being a pegasus I just walked right up on to the counter. I proceed to bury my head inside this monster. Out of the corner of my eye something outside grabs my attention. Ponies at the market, buying fresh produce and hats and such. The sun comes up and goes down many times in a matter of seconds. The scene has changed. Barely anypony is outside. Anyone
I saw was sneaking around, looking real shady. The sun rises and sets quickly again. The outside was in complete chaos. Ponies screaming, running for their lives. Foals crying loudly while their mothers try and calm them. A group of hooded figures entered the town with assault rifles. They spread out, mowing down anypony that came into their sights. As one walked by my window it turned and stared right at me. Its yellow glowing eyes pierce through me like a razor sharp javelin.
Falling. Now I’m falling in complete darkness with hot black fires scorching my skin. I hit the ground with the force of an asteroid. All around me is the smell of death and gunpowder. A mortar lands ten feet from me and sends me flying. In the air, I see a blue mare with a rainbow mane. Her grace and speed is like no other. She shot through the air, dropping grenades and raining death upon the zebras. I heard her shout ‘Hold the line damn it!’ as I rise to my hooves. I stick my head out from behind the trench to see a wave of zebras coming at me. I get on the heavy MG and start to hammer them with hot lead. It wasn’t enough, they came too fast. They reach the pillbox and start flooding in. I contemplate killing myself with my sidearm but decide not to die like a bitch. A large zebra comes in and hind kicks me right in the head. With one fatal blow of his dagger he ends my life.
Now I’m in an office. Me and nineteen others sit at an oval table in the middle of the room. A pissed off bright pink pony walks in and goes bat shit crazy.
“It’s all secrets and lie with you ponies. And to think that I would have zebra sympathizers in MY MINISTRY! WHAT THE FUCK! I will find out who you are and I will have JUSTICE! You think you can just worm your way in and sell our secrets do you?” She abruptly ended and stormed off out of the office. The mare beside me gave a chuckle and an ’A Okay’ symbol with her hoof. She was a light brown with a darker brown mane. The name tag on her blazer said Milk Chocolate.
I awoke on a rather comfy feeling mat in that empty cave. My immediate reaction upon waking was to throw up all over the wall beside me. My body felt stronger but my mind felt weak. My barding was gone but my saddlebags laid on a flat rock to my left. I reached out for it and poured the contents on the floor. Just great. The only thing that fell out was two cigarettes, some sharpened stones fashioned into knives, and my stable ranking patch. The patch was
blue with yellow writing, starting with a large 23 at the top. Below it was one silver bar with the word 'lieutenant' under that. I unsteadily got to my hooves and started walking in a random direction, hoping it was ‘out’. As I stepped outside, the brightness caused my eyes to become strained. Who knows how long it had been since I had been outside? What the fuck was the dream about? Who were those strange people? What hell was that thing back at the factory? Well one thing is for certain, I was about to go lookin' for some answers. I lit up one of my last smokes and started on my path back to Stable 23.
level up: Wait a minute, he didn't do anything. No level
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