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My Little Pony IDW: Legends of Magic #6
Bullet points: The last of the legendary ponies is revealed… but what comes next?!
The famous healer Mage Meadowbrook comes to an abandoned village. A search for the town's residents will reveal a terrible affliction that may be incurable unless Mage can think quick!
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Tags: #LegendsofMagic #Fluttershy #MageMeadowbrook #Zecora #TwilightSparkle #Spike #PinkiePie #Rarity #RainbowDash #Applejack #Sunburst #StarlightGlimmer #Starburst #MLP #Hasbro #FiM #FriendshipisMagic #EquestriaGirls
#MyLittlePony #MyLittlePonyFriendshipisMagic #MyLittlePonyTheMovie #MyLittlePonyMovie #MLPMovie #MLPTheMovie #DiscoveryFamily
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Fallout Equestria aftermath comic by King Koder on Deviant art
(Ongoing)

Prologue: Always Growing
(Fallout Equestria Spoiler Heavy!)

I took another look at the time. There were only two hours left until Homage was scheduled to arrive. Two hours to make sure everything was perfect and ready for when she would come through that dragonfire portal from Spike's Cave to the Single Pony Project Tower. The anticipation was difficult to deal with as I kept reminding myself why Homage's birthday was so important to me.

There was never any doubt in my mind that Homage and I loved each other very much. Thinking back on it, it felt strange how we had grown so close in just the short time we spent together. But then again, there was very little about my lifestyle that could be considered normal. I've resided up in the S.P.P. Tower for what I believe to have been ten years now, governing the weather while isolated from the rest of Equestria. Even still, Homage had never given up on me, faithfully visiting a few times a year, despite the dangers involved with dragonfire portals.

That's why I always try to make her visits absolutely perfect. I'm sure it takes great effort and risk on her part to take the time to visit, while I couldn't say the same for myself. Sometimes I wondered if I could leave the S.P.P. Tower for a few days and visit her instead. But knowing Homage, she wouldn't hear of me abandoning my duty to see her, even if it was only temporarily. The only place left to concentrate my efforts were into the preparations for her visits, to which I spared no expense. My only regret being that I couldn't do more for the pony I loved other than to impress her once or twice a year, but I'm sure we both understood that.

While this would be the tenth time I've hosted Homage's birthday party, it was still the same mess of indecision that it had always been. Every year had to be different from all the years before, as I couldn't bring myself to reuse anything I've used in the past. My resources were also limited to gifts and care packages that were given to me by my friends, which normally didn't include decorations or party favors. Still, I've always managed to produce something using a bit of creativity.

I was tackling the final and most daunting task at the time, choosing what to wear. What would make Homage smile the most? I had my entire wardrobe laid before me on my bed, a palette of clashing colors and designs. My eyes scanned over them a countless number of times, unable to pick any one outfit over the others. Should I try on something cute? Beautiful? Formal? Elegant? Outrageous? Maybe she would like to see this outfit she brought me on her last visit. That wouldn't be too predictable, would it? Why did I procrastinate so much on this task every year?

I heard a small giggle in front of me, and smiled as I tried my best to ignore it. I knew it was just Princess Celestia watching me from her screen, pondering how she should tease me next. I probably did take this whole ordeal far too seriously, and I'd probably be poking some fun at myself if I were in her hooves.

Then again, I was absolutely fine with any laughter coming out of Princess Celestia, even if it was at my expense. It served as a reassuring reminder that I was doing my part to ease her suffering ever since our paths first crossed ten years ago. Until the day she could escape her prison inside the Crusader Maneframe, I had promised to remain her companion. This was and still is the true reason I had remained in the S.P.P. Tower for as long as I had, even after I had finished clearing the cloud cover over Equestria.

"This would go a lot faster if you just told me what to wear," I said to Princess Celestia, still unable to resist informing her of my position on the subject. I levitated a funny looking hat and looked at myself wearing it in a mirror. I really did wish she would recommend something... anything!

"You'll be lovely no matter which outfit you choose," Princess Celestia calmly replied, "Remember that Homage is coming here to see you, not your clothes." I shook my head, since it was the same advice she offered thirty minutes ago. It didn't help much then, either.

I walked down a long hallway and surveyed my surroundings. Maybe the decorations I set up earlier would at least give me a hint about what to wear. There were plenty of star shaped pieces of cardboard of varying colors strung to the ceiling. I also spotted a few turrets, which were normally designed for security, but I temporarily repurposed them to shoot out confetti. Thinking about it made me chuckle again. The next thing I noticed was the S.P.P. Pod in the central room, which I had put on a giant red ribbon recycled from a past gift. I really liked my use of that ribbon, so I considered wearing something red to match that color.

As I returned to the Autumn Vestibule, my eyes accidentally fixed upon a stack of papers that were laying scattered on a nearby desk. I gave those cursed documents a quick glare, while wishing to myself that I hadn't seen them just now. At least on the bright side, it reminded me that I wanted to conceal those pages before Homage arrived. I walked over to the desk and gave the documents another cold stare. Gritting my teeth, I could feel myself getting irritated again just by looking at that pompous NCR seal as I recalled that condescending meeting about a month ago.

No! I wasn't going to let it ruin this special day! I shoved the papers inside the desk and turned to walk away, secretly wishing I had stuffed them into a shredder instead. I felt momentarily relieved, but in the back of my mind I knew I was going to have to address those papers very soon. Thankfully, that could wait until after Homage's birthday. I couldn't help but feel apprehensive about the future, though.

With most of the important tasks already done, I devoted the rest of my spare time to the smaller details and engaging in small talk with Princess Celestia. As usual, she was in good spirits, if not somewhat stoic, as we discussed some last minute plans for the party to come.

"Oh, by the way Littlepip." Celestia added at the end of our conversation, "I just recalled a message Homage sent while you were working." My eyes spun towards Princess Celestia, catching a glimpse of a smile that just didn’t seem right.

"What?" I replied hesitantly. "Did you really forget or were you just saving it until now?" After spending years with Princess Celestia, I knew she was a clever prankster when she wanted to be. I had grown quite accustomed to it and became generally suspicious of anything out of the ordinary when coming from her.

"Well, Homage said she was probably going to arrive a bit early today and-- well, she's here!"

I shook my head in dismay and rushed over to the computer screens that I used for monitoring the entrance of Spike's cave. Surely enough, I could see a single pony sauntering inside. I couldn't believe it, Homage was over an hour early! Great, but not exactly great news at the same time! I had been pacing myself to finish everything within the hour, so I was suddenly a bit behind schedule. I should've seen this coming, though, since Homage could never resist shaking things up with a random surprise. She'd do almost anything to get me out of my comfort zone.

But she wouldn't catch me off guard today! Remaining calm, I calculated still having a good minute left and all that I had to do was tidy up the room of all the scraps lying around. On the other hoof, I only had about half the time before she would appear in the tower itself and I really wanted to be there for that. It was important that I would be there to check to see if she was okay, since she would be coming out of a dragonfire portal heavily sedated in order to suppress the burning sensation involved with such powerful magic. Dragonfire was never designed to transport ponies or other living beings, so I was always a bit paranoid that something might go wrong.

Then it dawned on me that the room she was going to appear in was the Winter Vestibule, one of the rooms that I wasn't planning on using for the birthday party. I could kill two birds with one stone! All I had to do was hide some stuff in there and lead her out before she noticed! Easy! Using my levitation spell, I carefully grabbed as much as I could see and hurried to the Winter Vestibule. I was feeling a bit proud of myself concerning how well I was able to adapt to another one of Homage's curveballs.

As soon as I was in the Winder Vestibule I saw it, the dragonfire cloud trail that would bring Homage to me. The anticipation was making me so anxious that I instantly froze up. I think I even stopped breathing at some point.

In a bright flash of light, the cloud blinded me, forcing me to shield my eyes. Then the strangest thing ever happened. Before I was able to see again, a strong force seized me and pinned me to the ground. The impact knocked the wind out of me and I was unable to react to this event beyond opening my eyes a few seconds later. The only thing I could see was Homage looming over me, her face wearing a gigantic smile.

"Hiya, Littlepip!" she shouted out enthusiastically, "Didn't see that one coming, did ya?"

"H-Homage?" I replied, still shocked and confused. "I don't get it. How-- What's going on? You didn't take a tranquilizer?"

"I took something better! Some super rare brew that Xenith made for me after quite a lot of persuasion." She dangled an empty bottle in front of my head. "Worked like a charm! Getting to tackle you straight out of the portal made all the trouble worth it!"

Somehow Homage was, yet again, one step ahead of me. Thanks to her surprise attack, all the objects that I was levitating scattered all over the floor around us. As embarrassing as it was, it didn't appear that Homage minded or even noticed the mess I made. All I could convince myself to do was smile uncomfortably back at her.

Homage promptly helped me back up on my hooves, to which I decided to get the obvious out of the way. "Happy birthday, Homage! Sorry about the mess, but you were much earlier than expected!"

"Don't worry about it, Littlepip." Homage replied, brushing up against my side, "You know I prefer things a bit messy!"

Twenty seconds in and the innuendos were already coming out. They were always embarrassing to hear, but that's why I needed Homage so much. I could only imagine how introverted I would be without Homage constantly pushing me beyond my comfort limits. No doubt a lot of my accomplishments during the war were thanks to her support giving me the courage I needed.

"Hello, Homage." Princess Celestia said, "Glad you could make it on time."

"Heh, you would know!" Homage chuckled, smugly grinning at her, "You gave Littlepip the wrong time, didn't you? She thinks I'm early!"

"Haha, yes! I do believe those were your instructions." Princess Celestia giggled in response.

I shook my head, not sure who to blame, but it appeared that Princess Celestia and Homage were working together. Still, it was a pleasant surprise and I was happy that it happened.

I helped Homage with her saddlebags, trying to get a quick look at the things she brought. She enjoyed bringing me all sorts of trinkets and pictures she collected to help me stay as connected to Equestria as possible. Equestria was changing so much without me, despite me constantly surveying it from the tower.

I was also secretly searching for the food she was planning to prepare. Being really good at cooking, Homage always made something special for me during her birthday party. Her cooking was so much better than the rations from the care packages I was given. I occasionally felt guilty about the fact that she seemed to be doing more for me on her birthday than I was doing for her. But I had no complaints so long that we were both happy in the end.

I escorted Homage towards the Autumn Vestibule, where I knew we would be spending a large majority of her visit. She told me all about the recent highlights of her life and I told her about what I learned from Princess Celestia over the last year. Since Princess Celestia was the only pony I could easily talk to on a daily basis, it was only natural that I picked up a lot about her beliefs. I learned all about her ideals of friendship and how Equestia was before the war.

If there was one thing that kept my spirits high these last ten years, it was Princess Celestia's love of friendship. She told me so many stories of how happy ponies were back then and how ponies settled their problems without the use of violence. The very idea of murder was unheard of. That was the sort of world I wished would someday return to Equestria, a world of love and tolerance.

As we entered the Autumn Vestibule, a loud alarm sounded off as I held my breath. Four turrets emerged from the ceiling and pointed their weapons at the two of us before opening fire. I could feel Homage cringe and cover herself as the turrets began shooting out confetti. It took her quite a while to realize what exactly just happened, but once she did, she laughed and put me in a headlock for a while. I was just reveling in the fact that my surprise had actually worked!

After we had time to settle down, Homage brought and laid out all the food she was planning on preparing as well as some pots, pans and appliances. Sometimes, I wondered how she managed to fit so much in those saddlebags of hers. I eagerly watched over her shoulder, despite being unable to identify half the ingredients she brought.

"I hope you're ready for some spaghetti, Tenpony style!" Homage announced. I just smiled shyly, since I had no idea what she was talking about. I have heard of this dish before, but I never had any during my adventure outside the Stable and this is the first time Homage was preparing it for her birthday. I vaguely recall Homage really wanting to make some for a few years now, but always finding something even better to make.

It turned out that spaghetti wasn't as complicated as I initially thought, or Homage made it look easy as I watched her expertly prepare the food. Noodles, tomatoes, cheese, wheatballs, some various spices and liquids, and cook! I wondered what part made it Tenpony style, but I decided not to inquire. The taste of the meal was really superb! As always, Homage definitely lived up to her lofty cooking standards this year, which I made sure to let her know!

The only thing Homage did not cook was her birthday cake, because she was against the idea of cooking her own birthday cake. So instead, she normally purchased one from a bakery and wouldn't open it until we could share it together. She always had me privately open the box, place and light some candles on the cake, and then present it back to her. I certainly didn't mind this arrangement, since it was my opportunity to go grab a few things I wanted to give to Homage along with her cake.

The first was Homage’s birthday present. Homage's gift every year was complicated, yet simple. I certainly couldn't leave the tower to go buy her something and arranging a present to be brought to me was very complicated, since I could only communicate with the towers connected to this one. Outside of surviving in a wasteland, I only really had one other appropriate talent: Pipbucks.

Every year, I had prepared upgrades compatible with Pipbucks which contained a combination of messages from me and various programs that I conceived. Sadly enough, Pipbuck technology did not expand outside those born in a Stable. I heard there was new technology now, making me practically the only Pipbuck technician left. On the bright side, I had one thing you couldn’t get anywhere else.

This wasn’t just for Homage's Pipbuck, though. All my friends who wore Pipbucks as their Element of Harmony received these upgrades from Homage after she returned. While it might've made the significance to Homage a little less, it was only fair to my other friends who could not visit me as often.

"Here you go, Homage! Happy birthday! Make a wish!" I told her as I was bringing the cake with candles. She happily complied and blew out the candles in one breath. I handed her a small chip that would download the upgrades and began cutting the cake.

"Mm, so what's new this year?" she asked excitedly, "Did you fix that Sprite Bot app?"

"It wasn't broken," I corrected, "But yes, it's working much better now. I'm also experimenting around with altered S.A.T.S. systems designed to assist with tasks that aren't violent, but still require high levels of multi-tasking. I was thinking you'd like one for cooking or something, so I made one that informs you on temperature, volume for measuring, and has multiple time tracking features!"

"You should've told me this before I started cooking!" she teased, "I would've loved to have tried it out!"

I laughed half-heartedly. To be honest, I wasn't fully confident the app would even work, much less be of any assistance. I wasn't a cook, so most of the features were only based on my own intuition.

I found myself spacing out shortly thereafter. Something important was on my mind and the time for it to come to light was approaching. My eyes fell on Homage and I knew I would have to break crucial news to her. My mind raced back to those papers that I had concealed before Homage arrived.

"Homage..." I said reluctantly. "There's something that's been going on recently that I now feel I should tell you." Her eyes focused on me as I pulled out a box that I had grabbed when preparing her cake. I set it down next to me, still sealed. Homage looked at the box curiously, probably thinking it was a second secret gift.

"I recently received a notice from the NCR and it turns out they will be coming here to take control of the Tower in a few days." I knew that wasn't the whole story, but I thought I should first see how she responded. Either way, there was no way Homage was not going to fish for the rest of the details.

"Oh? That's... something! The NCR, huh? ... Wait, what's going to happen to you, then?" Homage asked eagerly.

"They're relieving me of my duties here."

"WHAT?!" Homage exclaimed, giving me a big hug. "That means you're leaving, right?! Sweet Celestia, that's incredible news!" Even though I loved the affectionate embrace from Homage, I couldn't share in her excitement. I just had to tell her how I felt, even if it meant quashing that excitement.

"That's not exactly the case, Homage..." I told her half-heartedly, "I'm not leaving more than they are kicking me out."

Homage quickly calmed down and gave the situation another thought. She caught me looking sideways at Princess Celestia and instantly made the connection. "Oh, right. If you leave-- what's going to happen to Princess Celestia?"

"I'd be abandoning her, which is the opposite of what I promised her ten years ago. I don't know if I can do that, Homage. I can't just leave her here... especially with the NCR. They think she's dead, a simulation... a joke. I don't trust them at all to take care of Princess Celestia."

"Whoa there, Littlepip!" Homage said quickly, putting a hoof on my shoulder, "What does Princess Celestia think?"

"She wants me to be happy." I replied, without hesitation. I glanced over at Princess Celestia, who was quietly watching our conversation unfold. I must admit I was surprised that she didn't have anything to add, but I don't think she was ever the type to interfere with conflicts.

There was a long pause as Homage tried to find the words to comfort me with. I knew it wasn't fair of me to suddenly tell her of such a big problem. I bet she was wondering why I waited until now to tell her. I wasn't really keen on telling her that I was simply too ashamed of leaving to go asking for help. But I also knew Homage was guaranteed to find out about this sooner or later if I didn't tell her, and then I'd be in real trouble. It was only guilt and fear of the greater of two evils that persuaded me to tell Homage now, when she was right in front of me.

"So then, what are you going to do?" Homage asked, making eye contact with me again.

I had given this question far too much thought over the past month. How much did I want to tell her? Certainly not every thought that crossed my mind. I couldn't tell her that I had considered defying the NCR. They had no means of forcing me out since dragonfire portals were the only way in and out of the S.P.P. Tower. Only Princess Celestia and Spike could create these portals and I'm sure they were willing to cooperate with me if I had asked.

"I want to stay by Princess Celestia's side, but it's not that simple anymore. I'll get in trouble and things could even possibly turn dangerous. The last thing I want is to expose Princess Celestia to more violence. She's seen enough suffering already. So it seems no matter which path I choose, I'll lose in the end."

Homage bopped me on the nose sternly, "You dummy. I know you can be stubborn, but why are you making this choice alone? Don't you remember what friends are even for? We've helped you through things much worse than the NCR being political and stuff. It's our ability to work together that makes us so strong!"

I looked at Homage blankly. I knew everything she was telling me already. I knew I should rely on my friends to help me out when in need. Princess Celestia and I talked about friendship a lot during the last ten years. I knew so much, but why didn't I exercise my knowledge? Was I just being stubborn like Homage said? Was knowing something and actually doing it that much different from each other? I was ten years out of practice when it came to applying my abilities to be a friend.

"I am being an idiot, aren't I?" I asked after a long pause. "But... I'll need to be an idiot for a little while longer."

"What?" Homage said, crossing her arms, "Does that mean you still want to do this by yourself?"

"There's nothing to do, Homage," I told her solemnly, "As much as I don't like it, I will not oppose the NCR. I won't stop them from occupying the tower and... if I have to leave, then I will. I won't retaliate nor can I have any of you retaliate for me."

Homage tilted her head as she tried to understand why I was saying this. "So, you've already made your choice. Are you sure this is what you want?"

I knew the answer to this, but thinking about it made me tense up, despite how much I tried to remain in control of my emotions. "No, but it's all I can do. This is how powerless I've become. I can't even keep the one promise I made to the pony I wanted to help the most. What am I supposed to do?"

Homage closed her eyes softly and gave me a small hug. "Take it easy, Littlepip," she said, "This is just a rough time. We all go through rough times. But that's why you need friends, remember? You should've called me as soon as you learned about it and you would've had that much more help getting over it! Let's just think about it quietly together, okay?"

That hug did make me feel a lot calmer somehow. I was even starting to wish I did call her like she mentioned. Of course, it was pointless to dwell on that issue now. I began to wonder whether this calmness would last. The problem wasn't going to go away after Homage left and I feared my anxiety would only resurface.

I took another deep breath, as I considered Homage's advice to just relax with her and think this thing through together. I doubted that we would come to an answer if we hadn't yet, but maybe this was just her way of getting my mind off this for the time being. I definitely needed it.

Now that I was over that small fit, I turned my head towards that box I pulled out earlier. I levitated the box over to Homage, who slowly opened the box to see what was inside. She didn't say anything as she stared at the contents of the box for a long period of time. She gently closed the box and glanced back up at me.

"I need you to keep this safe for me," I told her calmly, "I still don't think the NCR should know about it yet. I'd also like it if you didn't tell anypony about what we talked about today."

"What?" Homage responded. She didn't say anything afterwards for a good while. I guessed she was trying to piece together why I would request that of her. I really didn't have a good reason other than I simply didn't want other ponies knowing about this for as long as possible. I heard her laugh quietly before she spoke again. "That's a tall order asking me to withhold the truth. Are you still embarrassed about this?"

"Yes... I don't want other ponies hearing how I got forced out against my will. I think it's going to cause a lot of trouble. I'm honestly just praying that I somehow find some middle ground with the NCR or maybe come to terms with what's going on. When you give out the news... I want it to be good news."

Homage ruffled my hair playfully. "You love to complicate things, don't you, Littlepip? But, if it's what you want, I'll hold off on telling everypony the news until you're actually out, okay?"

"You promise?" I childishly asked. "Do you swear on every star in the sky?"

"I swear on every star in the sky." she answered back. "I'm the Element of Honesty, after all, so I have to be telling the truth!"

We both laughed and continued embracing each other until I lost track of time.
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