$3,000 Profit Blackjack
You are reading Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons Project Horizons follows the adventures of Blackjack, a security mare from Stable 99, whose discovery of a top-secret file of incredible importance s.
The first pony I killed had been a male unicorn getting removed; that had been before I even got my cutie mark.
I'd been told to tell him that he was now U-21 and ask him to report to security.
I didn't know what that meant at the time.
I took my sweet time doing it, going to the atrium cafeteria for a green gel smoothie, poking in on Midnight trying to learn her PipBuck routines, and taking a nap on a humming moisture condenser before I finally found him.
He'd just smiled sadly and walked back with me.
I remember his white and red striped mane, like a candy cane.
I remember his laugh.
How sad his eyes looked as he walked beside me.
Mom read the formal statement, I gave him his last dot, and then we stood by as the medics gave him a shot.
He closed his eyes.
Let out one last breath.
I could almost imagine he was sleeping, except I knew he'd never wake up.
I know the excuses.
I was just doing as I was told.
We were just following the orders of the Overmare.
We had no choice.
There was nothing we could do.
We had to prevent an Incident.
I never actually gave him a shot.
I didn't know any better.
I killed him because I never once asked the question: is this right or wrong?
I killed four other males in exactly the same way.
I would have killed P-21, too, if the Overmare hadn't let Deus in first.
The first pony I killed with my own horn had been a raider.
She'd had a shotgun and nearly used it on me.
She'd killed others in my stable, one right in front of me, and would have killed more.
Again, I know the excuses.
I was protecting Midnight.
I was defending my stable.
There was no time.
There was nothing else I could do.
At first, I didn't think much about them.
They were mangy, psychotic killers or ponies who'd decided to be evil.
Killing them had been required.
My PipBuck turned every moral question into a simple answer: red it's dead, yellow be mellow.
The next time I'd faced them, I'd killed many.
Then I'd spared one, for the simple reason that the PipBuck had gone from red to yellow.
Suddenly, she wasn't a raider anymore.
Suddenly, she was free to go.
I even laughed while she fled.
I'd deserved to be shot in the back.
Scoodle was the next pony I'd killed.
Hers was the first death that actually got to me.
Before that, all I'd demonstrated was that I was a slightly more effective killer than the diseased and maddened raiders I'd please click for source thus far.
I hadn't listened to her.
I hadn't believed her, and I'd been so full of myself that I was sure I could face anything the Wasteland had to offer.
I thought that after forty-eight hours I knew more than a filly who'd spent her entire life on the surface.
But I was "lucky" enough that somepony else had been killed by my pride, arrogance, and stupidity.
At Pony Joe's I'd tried to turn Glory into a killer just like me.
Pick you right up.
Of all the ponies I'd faced, though, the one that stuck with me was that poor bastard shitting himself, and me feeling so clever and cocky for sneaking up on him while he was occupied.
I hadn't learned one thing.
I thought I'd changed.
That I'd devoted myself to being the better pony.
And then I smashed his head in with a baton.
I'd thought he'd yell or attack or something.
Now I'd just killed forty more colts and fillies.
Some had been sick; there was no question of that.
Letting them live would have been.
Who the fuck am I to judge if a pony deserves to die?
How did I know the Enclave couldn't have helped them?
Fluttershy said to do better.
Better for me was increasing my body count.
And the final twist?
I ended up with my body completely healed.
He looked down at me with some concern as I buckled the straps.
I'm a cleaner, healthier raider with better aim.
He nodded again as I straightened and walked to the exit into the stasis pod chamber.
Are you sure you're okay?
The Collegiate ponies were not happy.
I really couldn't care less, but I didn't want them killing each other once I left.
The Society can feed them and keep adequate guard so that they can work without being harassed.
I stared into his eyes, unblinking as I felt my horn twitch.
Finally, he smiled and said graciously, "That will be acceptable to the Society.
You've got a whole hospital to scavenge; I know you'll find enough.
Charge caps if you want, but help.
Do better," I said as I glared into his eyes, stressing each word.
He swallowed hard and backed away so quick he landed on his rump.
The Collegiate is always happy to help.
I'll make sure my superiors know when they get here," Archie stammered quickly.
I looked up towards the broken dome atop the interior chamber.
I don't know why they were here, but they were after something and they may be back.
I knew she'd found more than just parts for her beam pistol.
Prince Splendid signed the note to Bottlecap to pay me for his contract, and with no further delay we were on our way back.
I took point, as usual, letting the pair trail behind me.
Glory was showing off something she'd found.
Most of the security forces use them.
They let us handle larger guns without occupying our mouths," Glory said as she fiddled with the strange harness she'd found.
It looked more to me like some kind of weird bondage gear with beam pistols attached.
I wasn't quite sure she knew how to work it.
As we followed the road back east, I walked slow and steady.
My head crashed over and over with what I'd done, pushing the mystery of EC-1101 from the forefront of my thoughts.
Maybe I should have turned the kids over to the Collegiate.
Everypony was glad they didn't have to deal with forty traumatized and dying young.
I glanced back at the pair and didn't say a word.
Glory immediately took a few steps back.
P-21 just looked sad.
I was so angry I felt like a broken Sparkle-Cola bottle.
Because he was about to say it wasn't my fault.
If it wasn't my fault, was it his for leaving the choice up to me?
Glory's for not stopping me?
The Enclave for reconnecting the maneframe to the maintenance robots?
Should I just blame ponies who fucked up two centuries before I was even born?
Who was to blame?
Who had to pay for what I'd done?
Somepony had to pay the price.
Better me than P-21.
Maybe if he was smart he'd ditch me before I got him killed.
They'd be better off together without me.
Perhaps in a few months they'd find me frothing mad, psychotic, and put me down.
I was so preoccupied that I walked right into the ambush.
It didn't help that I hadn't reactivated my EFS after the interference in the hospital.
As I walked past an overturned sky trailer there was a resounding bang and the familiar shove of buckshot against my barding from behind.
Tally up a new bruise, but nothing penetrated.
I looked up at the two ponies in the trailer, Shotgun reloading as another gripping a pool cue jumped out at me.
Two more stepped out of another overturned carriage.
Out came the automatic pistol and S.
Four shots to Shotgun's head.
Then I noticed that instead of turning his head into meaty goo, the two shots that hit just sparkled off his hide.
I'd forgotten I'd loaded the clips with shock rounds: great against robots, but lousy against everything else.
Pool Cue swung with all the strength she had, but I raised my PipBuck and let the wooden shaft shatter on its casing.
My horn glowed as I plucked a foot-long shard with my magic, seized her shoulders with my hooves, and drove every inch into her eye socket.
Glory flew above, her aim wild as she tried to get her battle saddle to work.
P-21 had his binoculars out.
Fifth one on the hill!
When Shotgun reloaded, I heaved the female's body into his line of fire and felt only a sting of a pellet or two.
Then I was in the trailer with him.
I had no wish to use a whole clip of ammo, so out came the baton.
He backed away, but there was nowhere to go; his hiding spot was also a dead end.
He tried to say something, but simply gagged as I shoved him hard against the wall and magically swung the baton till his head went from convex to concave.
One look at the shotgun and I tossed it aside.
A single shot between reloads?
My baton was better.
I did levitate a clip of lead rounds for the automatic pistol out of my pocket and swapped ammunition before running back at the second pair Glory was keeping occupied.
Her aim was horrible, but the beam pistols she'd hooked to the battle saddle were quite effective at keeping the pair moving as she circled overhead.
One with an automatic pistol didn't even see me coming.
Automatic turned his head just in time to see me take a stance, pistol raised, and aim five shots into his noggin.
There was little left.
The fourth one with a baseball click the following article tossed his weapon at me.
At first it seemed nonsense till I saw him duck his head for a grenade hooked to his vest.
His mouth closed around it just as my magic flicked the tab right off the end.
His head lifted, tongue working to remove the pin that was already gone.
I just stared into his eyes as his gaze widened in horror.
Then his head exploded.
The rifle round struck me in the neck at the line of my security barding.
Sniper was already running for his life now, though.
My PipBuck showed a red bar.
Without listening to the shouts behind me, I tore up the hillside after him.
A large concrete tower stood at the apex, with dishes pointed every direction.
He could run, but not project blackjack conspiracy />I wove up through a gap in the dead trees, putting my gun away so I could telekinetically push dead bushes and branches out of my way.
I saw him, and he saw me coming after him.
So did his friends.
I staggered into the camp at the base of the tower with four more red bars and a number of yellow.
I'd seen a brief demonstration at Megamart.
No time to use my gun against that rate of fire.
Instead I snapped out the baton again with a very specific target: visit web page horn.
The swing fell just as she started to fire.
With a purple sparkle and a spray of blood the lavender spire shattered and the SMG fell uselessly into the dirt.
Sniper tried to put another round in my back, but I'd ducked for the swing and his shot went wide.
The others drew a knife, baseball bat, and tire iron.
I levitated up her dropped SMG.
I braced my magic and legs as I stood over the squirming, dehorned unicorn and unloaded a spray of lead that started with the sniper and then washed over the other three.
Three seconds later the clip was empty.
Thirty-five bullets in three seconds?
I gaped at the weapon.
The only way I could waste ammo faster would be to just dump it down the barrel of a shotgun and pull the trigger!
Two ponies were still squirming; my automatic stopped that.
What the fuck am I doing?
What the fuck am I doing?!
The automatic started to shake in my telekinetic grip and I dropped it into the dirt.
They had been done!
Why did I just kill them?
That was when I noticed that these raiders hadn't been alone.
There were at least a dozen ponies chained together in a row by collars.
They were filthy, many bloody.
The dehorned unicorn lay curled up, hooves pressed to the sheared-off stump of her horn as she shook.
I'd once heard getting your horn smashed was like having all four legs cut off.
It'd take some serious magic for that injury to heal.
Not unless they were going for a full-on twelve course banquet.
P-21 and Glory ran up from the road.
The lead pony looked a little concerned that I didn't recognize the term.
I knew that glare.
Glory landed next to me.
Aren't fucking raiders enough?
Why the fuck are you doing this shit?
But here was a pony willing to sell ponies for caps.
I could almost forgive raiders now; they were at least crazy.
She'd chosen to perpetuate this nightmare.
Her life was forfeit!
I just had to end her.
My grip on the SMG trembled as I slowly pulled away from her eye.
Fuck, I was crying now too.
I tossed the SMG aside, grabbed her head between my hooves and clenched agree, how to calculate expected value blackjack variants as I stared into her eyes.
Find another line of work.
Tell every slaver you know to find another line of work.
I see you doing this shit again and I will turn you into paint!
Do you understand me?
She took one last look and ran as fast as her hooves would carry her.
I saw fourteen pairs of eyes all staring at me.
Some looked just as scared of me as the unicorn had.
Others appeared angry I hadn't ventilated her.
Fuck them if eight wasn't enough.
My death count was one less than it could have been.
I looked to P-21, saying in a shaky voice, "Unlock them.
I found a rock, pressed my face to it, wrapping my forehooves around it, and I wept, choked, and sobbed.
Then I felt a hoof stroking along my mane.
I peeked up at Morning Glory as she gave me a soft smile.
I lifted my head.
I wanted them dead.
How dare they buy and sell ponies for bottle caps?
I don't think I could ever kill a pony that wasn't trying to kill me first.
But I wanted to.
Killing her won't undo it.
But she's still alive and she'll have to make a choice.
Maybe she'll choose to stop.
Maybe she'll convince others to stop.
No matter what, we're not going to make the Wasteland any click by killing everypony.
Even if we really think they deserve it.
I'll kill anypony if my Eyes Forward Sparkle says to.
I don't think I checked.
Not your PipBuck," Glory said with a little cock of her head that made me smile.
You care enough to choose.
Clearly it was what she wanted.
I chose to kill forty colts and fillies.
No pep talk or show of mercy would change that.
There was a price to be paid for being a killer.
I was going to pay for it.
I'd thought the dozen freed ponies would travel together.
Instead they began to bleed off in ones and twos.
Many shot me nervous glances; apparently my little display proved just as unnerving as the slavers themselves.
The gray colt in the lead got the SMG, though I'd replaced the bullets.
The explosive rounds would probably detonate if fired on full auto.
I probably could have sold it for enough to replace my shotgun, but at the moment I felt so damned numb that I couldn't care less about caps.
They headed off to the north, perhaps because I'd already wandered around it and cleared most of the raiders.
The gray pony with a bow tie cutie mark was the last to go.
I'll see about putting a good word in for you.
I deserved a good warning.
Blackjack: contents under pressure.
Reacts poorly to bullets.
Once we were alone again Glory took her time seeing to my spreading bruises.
Nothing serious, but I was thankful for the relief.
Then I watched with a detached, surreal feeling as she took the dropped knife, tested https://nycwebdesigner.org/blackjack/3-card-blackjack-strategy.html edge, and started to saw off the head of one of the slavers.
My eye twitched slightly at the sight.
What are you doing?
She jammed the knife between vertebrae and gave a sharp twist.
I winced at the loud pop.
They attack everypony on sight.
Even if they already have food, they attack.
The only time they flee is in the face of overwhelming odds.
So I was thinking that if I could examine a raider's brain compared to a non-raider's brain I might be able to detect something.
I doubt Bottlecap will be okay with us bringing in heads," I pointed out as she wrapped up the intact noggin.
What are the chances we'll run into raiders between here and Megamart?
The fight with the raiders proved terribly short.
There were only four of them and they didn't have a gun between them.
Glory got her second head and looked decidedly happy about the fact.
Walking back, P-21 asked about the radio.
I hadn't turned it on since that broadcast by DJ Pon3, but it'd be hours to reach the Finders.
Nothing hostile on my EFS.
No excuse to not turn it on.
I had to admit, I liked the music.
So much of it was upbeat.
The parts that were sad were also a relief.
When DJ Pon3 came on I cringed, project blackjack conspiracy he just warned folks around New Appleloosa to keep their eyes out for trouble and to watch out for each other.
Occasionally he referenced other ponies fighting the good fight all across Equestria.
One that he called the 'Stable Dweller' seemed to have completely shut down a town of slavers.
Now that was impressive.
I doubted the Stable Dweller would ever kill a room full of helpless ponies.
Yes, Hoofington, she's been busy busy busy.
If you thought cleaning up the Manehattan Highway was impressive you should see what else Security is doing for the Hoof.
It looks like the Fluttershy hospital is open for business again, courtesy of.
Looks like Security actually got the Eggheads and the Bluebloods working together.
Talk about a miracle.
And it seems like she's got a bone to pick with the slavers in Paradise.
Let's play the audio!
Find another line of work.
Tell every slaver you know to find another line of work.
I see you doing this shit again and I will turn you into paint!
Do you understand me?
Do you fucking understand me?!
And Security doesn't like wrong.
So in light of that, Hoofington, this is just for you from Sapphire Shore's hit.
I sat down right in the middle of the cracked road, then turned the radio off.
Looking at P-21 I gave my sweetest smile.
It's clear that the Finders and the Collegiate only were willing to work with us because he told them what you'd done," Glory said with a curious smile and tilt of her head.
How to explain it without saying the wrong thing?
Like he's playing up all the best parts and overlooking what really happens.
Sure, I got the Society ponies to work with the Eggheads, but what about all the other stuff that happened?
Would DJ Pon3 give me such high praise if he'd known what I did back in the hospital?
Even playing that recording.
Ponies selling ponies to ponies that work ponies to death need to be stopped?
They were both smiling.
I felt my heart start to pound.
Let him call you a hero," P-21 said with his sure little smile, "and just be a hero.
I didn't kill those slavers because they were evil and wrong!
I shot them because they shot first and my PipBuck was red.
I couldn't catch my breath as I covered my face with my hooves.
I felt my magic tighten more and more on the automatic's handle.
Every part of me was shaking as my breathing became louder and louder, faster and faster.
I saw the snapped-off tip of a knife rammed into a neck.
I saw a teal foal read more in two.
My body felt like it was burning up as I felt P-21 shaking me.
I saw a skinned pegasus pop out of a box on a spring.
Everything started to spin as I felt like I was falling off the world.
I clenched my eyes shut but all I kept seeing was ponies dying.
An eyeball popping under my baton.
A head disintegrating as I raced out the tunnel.
Guts spilling out amid bones.
Automatic fire tearing holes in three ponies.
My heart beat harder and harder and I could make out the distant noises of them saying things to me.
Guts spilling from my torso; I felt like I was falling into the sky to break against the dark clouds overhead.
The roaring in my ears chased me into the blackness.
What was the price for killing so many?
My head pounded as I opened my eyes.
I wasn't exactly sure where I was, only that I was alone.
For once I didn't feel like crying.
It felt as though something inside me had snapped.
Maybe I'd finally gone off the deep end and killed both my friends.
Wouldn't that be something?
Water dripped through a hole in the roof into the tin, and I could dimly hear the sound of rain.
The room was small but neatly organized.
A desk in one corner with a terminal.
A shelf holding numerous books.
A refrigerator in the second corner.
Then the cot I occupied in the third corner.
I saw a toilet and sink through one open door.
A faded plastic banner hung near the ceiling reading 'Megamart, always lowest prices, always highest quality'.
There were other things too.
Little hints of a world before this one.
The Megamart employee of the year had been somepony named Boxcars.
There was a little award for record profits selling 'canned and preserved foods and ammunition'.
A strange photograph of two groups of soldiers in the parking lot, one in green combat armor and the other.
A curly-maned mare with purple glasses bumped hooves with a red zebra filly.
The caption read 'Macintosh's Marauders invade Megamart with the Red Stripes.
I felt a little relieved at that thought.
I should have felt more relieved.
Slowly I rocked back and forth before tipping over onto my hooves.
I could only assume that this was Bottlecap's office, though why I was here I didn't have a clue.
My stomach felt like a pit, but there were some biological urges that needed addressing.
Once I'd flushed, a drink of rainwater from the tin helped alleviate some of the pounding in my skull.
My magic immediately grabbed for weapons that weren't there.
It took me a moment to finally sit back on my haunches and blink at her as she scanned a hoof along the page.
You have very noisy bowels.
I reddened but did as she asked, feeling apprehensive.
I expected a question or comment but Bottlecap didn't say a word as she just read.
Then she said softly, "Your friends handled the transactions while you've been indisposed.
They took your barding to be repaired.
I recommend some additional protection.
Four hundred and twenty-five caps for the glands.
Twenty-five hundred from the Society account.
Twenty-two hundred from Orion's Herd.
You're halfway to your goal, minus the cost of resupply.
You were unconscious when the three of you got here.
I felt you'd recover better with some privacy.
I suspect it was simply the result of you throwing yourself at a bit too much wasteland.
I take it that, DJ Pon3's accounts aside, your experience has been somewhat terrible?
Instead Bottlecap looked back down at the book.
It seems a bit immature.
It chews heroes up and swallows them.
They burn out, burn up, or change for the worse.
The price of being a hero is just too high in the Wasteland," Bottlecap said as she sat, looking at me with a warm smile.
I should probably check in on P-21 and Glory and look for more work.
Whatever had happened on the road was done with and I didn't have to worry about it.
Guts spreading over cracked asphalt.
I didn't mean to keep you awake," I said as I looked over the ledger, but it made little sense to me.
Your work on the Manehattan Highway gave us some wiggle room, but we're bleeding trade month after month.
I'm sorry you're losing money.
My condolences seemed to amuse her.
What we're losing is trade," she said as she closed her ledger.
If you're Finders shouldn't you work together?
She bit the caps off and spat them into her desk drawer.
I levitated one over and enjoyed click at this page carroty goodness.
You see, my father is the owner of the Finders.
He has three daughters, one of which is me.
Each of my sisters controls the other two hubs.
Unfortunately my sisters and I have.
I'm sure you can see the dilemma.
I barely thought about pushing a button.
I swallowed as I felt my hooves shake on the bottle.
continue reading peddles sex and chems to anypony willing to pay for it from the Finders hub in Flank.
She sees nothing wrong with sucking every last cap out of an addict.
She's quite experienced at that.
Isn't getting caps the point of business?
To swim in it?
What matters is trade.
Taking goods for caps.
Selling goods and getting caps.
The amount of caps doesn't matter compared to the trade.
If anything has a chance of holding us together, it's trade.
After all, everypony wants something.
How do merchants save Equestria?
Trade requires rules, understanding, and agreements.
It demands a certain level of respect and acknowledgement for others.
I suppose I could have pushed my profit margins a little more aggressively, but that would strain trade even more.
This way I help contribute to the peace and order of the Wasteland," Bottlecap said as she finished her Sparkle-Cola.
By your hoof read article your will, ponies live and die.
That's a power that.
I struggled for breath.
The bottle of Sparkle-Cola slipped from my magic and the brown fluid sloshed over the floor.
I did everything I could to stop the shaking in my forelegs.
It's not a power I should have.
That anypony should have.
She waited for my heart rate to slow; for the vertigo to pass.
Then she spoke in a softly respectful tone.
And it's a power that many ponies are willing to use.
I could still hear the singing.
Why had we sung as they died?
I couldn't help myself.
I poured out every terrible event that occurred, finishing with what happened with the raiders.
Bottlecap closed her eyes, seeming to ruminate on everything that I'd told her.
Then she said quietly, "There was no right choice, Blackjack, but I would have done the same thing.
They're more interested in discovering lost spells and technology.
Those foals would have remained as you left them for centuries.
They wouldn't have pulled the plug.
They simply would have closed the door.
As for the Enclave helping.
They weren't pegasus foals.
The blood is on my hooves though.
I'll have to pay for it someday," I muttered.
I levitated the bottle up, drank what remained inside, and then carefully levitated the fluid off the floor.
I wasn't very sure I could do it, actually, but I managed to get most of the spilt soda into a fizzy, dirty, faintly radioactive ball and down the sink.
Bottlecap waited for me to finish before continuing.
You're paying for it right now.
You'll pay for that blood even if you do nothing but sit back in a glorified store.
I wasn't seeing it.
I'm not naïve enough to believe they're all guilty and deserving of death, but I connect bounty hunters to bounties.
I sell the ammunition and weapons that kill them.
In my own way I've facilitated the death of thousands of ponies.
But I have to hope that in the end I've helped more than I've hurt.
I might not have been a smart pony, but I made the connection.
The Finders are involved in the slave trade?
That ponies are every bit as much a commodity as salvage or sex.
More and more ponies go to Paradise and Flank instead of here to exchange goods.
And when Father dies I'll either be selling drugs and flesh, or ponies.
Some things I'm not willing to buy or sell.
I looked at Bottlecap for the longest time, feeling odd emotions churning inside me.
Here was a pony that had lived in the Wasteland her entire life and refused to sell out her integrity.
Even when it hurt her business, she insisted on doing the right thing.
I didn't really think it was possible for businesses to care more about their effects than wealth.
I suddenly had a feeling about how I could pay off some of my debt.
Maybe somepony who deserves to hurt.
Maybe somepony who doesn't.
Can you handle it?
Could I handle paying the price for being a killer, or would I keep breaking over and over again till there was nothing left?
Now I don't know what to think.
I'll never know how he got that recording, but I'm sure every slaving band is wondering just how much of a threat you really are.
The more you disrupt supply, the better.
But, eventually, you'll have to tackle the demand.
Some, like Red Eye in Fillydelphia, probably wouldn't stop unless he died.
But there are others, like Brimstone's Fall, where the slave operations are smaller and more manageable.
How did it do that?
Bottlecap noticed my look and smiled.
If my sisters thought I was deliberately undermining them, it would be all-out war within the Finders.
Otherwise Shaun pokerstars be nothing more than a killer.
When it does, who can say what'll happen?
Patrol the Sunset Highway between Megamart and Flank, poke through the Miramare Air Station for some electronic parts, and deliver some mail to Flank's residents.
The route would also take me within spitting distance of Brimstone's Fall.
If something should happen that put a dent in the demand side of the slave trade, then it'd not only help the people of the Wasteland but Bottlecap as well.
I wasn't sure if I was good with this or not.
Unlike my first talk with Watcher, I didn't feel much more confident.
I still wanted to do better, though.
Watcher, DJ Pon3, Bottlecap.
If I did, maybe I'd be able to come to terms with all the wrong things I'd done.
Still, first things first: get a new shotgun and pick up my barding.
The specialty rounds were effective, but hell on the workings of a gun.
I'd need to save them or start carrying backup shotguns.
Actually, given that everypony was asleep at this hour, what I should have done was go back to bed till dawn.
The thought of trying to take a nap didn't appeal much, though.
https://nycwebdesigner.org/blackjack/osrs-blackjacking-guide.html ears stood right up and I moseyed over to where five ponies sat around a table.
And they had cards and colored chits.
A true, real smile crossed my face.
The mottled gray and green mare looked up in surprise, and a little suspicion.
It was actually really similar to a style of poker Rivets had been fond of.
You got two cards face down your head and then two cards were turned face up your hooves.
Every round you added a card to either your head or your hooves as you raised the bet.
Everypony made the best hand out of seven.
With six players, that meant keeping track of forty-two cards.
With half a deck in play, it was more gamble than figuring out the odds.
They forwarded some chips for me and we got to playing.
In two hours, the game broke down more and more between me and Keystone.
She was a lot smarter than me, and she kept making smart bets.
I lost big too.
Still, I won just a bit more than I lost with each hoof dealt.
The cards and the winning were only half of it, though; contrary to what I'd thought, I'd missed project blackjack conspiracy />The remembrances of a life where I didn't expect to kill somepony every day.
Then, of course, there was the whiskey.
I had to admit that I'd never really drunk before.
We didn't have legal alcohol in Stable 99, so my first drink went down like a Sparkle-Cola.
Once I'd stopped coughing and choking, I figured out that whiskey was supposed to be drunk slowly rather than fast, and soon I had a pleasant warmth in my belly that quickly drove out all the fears and doubts rolling around in my skull.
Then I saw a ghost.
The unicorn buck stood at the end of a row of scrap metal.
His tan mane and brown hide were nothing spectacular.
The only thing that stood out was an odd cutie mark.
A cutie mark identical to P-21's.
I rose to my hooves as he disappeared out of sight.
When I ran down the row.
Toilets are that way!
Don't be pissing on the merchandise!
I'm not gonna hurt'cha.
It'd be nice to get some answers without hurting anypony.
I spotted him fidgeting next to two pallets stacked high with rusty generators or electrical equipment.
He stared at me, swallowing as he trembled.
You met somepony named Sanguine.
I really want to meet him too.
His lips curled in a small satisfied smirk.
Then what I'd taken for a heap of scrap slowly rose to his hooves.
Now, he looked huge.
Even ignoring the metal plates fused to his hide and the pistons supporting his weight, he stood a whole head higher than me.
The sight of metal plunging into flesh, distorting it as he moved, would normally have turned my stomach.
Just at the moment, though, I had enough sobriety to notice but more than enough inebriation to not care about it.
Or that I was dangling helplessly between his massive guns.
Heard you want a certain computer file I've got?
Won't do you any good.
All he wants is your PipBuck.
But after leading me on a chase for nearly a week?
I'm afraid I'm not in the mood anymore.
Probably the leg too," I said as I gave him a little smile.
He blinked in confusion as he looked at me.
Least I knew my guns.
I'm pretty sure I'm drunk.
The roar of the shots blasted second by second just feet away.
Shells sent pallets of scrap flying and tumbling down on U-21, breaking his magical grip on me.
I landed in a heap in front of Deus, curling into a little ball.
I couldn't hear anything as my ears rang and l went fetal.
Oh thank you sweet merciful whiskey for you have taken the concussive beating that comes from hanging a few feet from a firing cannon muzzle and rendered it into a nice full-body numbness.
He stood over me, his mouth working as his metallic hoof pressed down right over my leg.
It sounded like he was screaming at me from under water.
The massive turret was swinging the barrel around to point right at Deus.
He stepped back, eyes widening, and I curled up as tightly as I could, giggling, "Mine's bigger.
I crashed through the chain mesh draped across a firearms stall and landed behind the counter.
Ammo boxes weren't particularly soft; actually, they were the antithesis of soft.
But they did hold ammo.
And so, as I lay there behind the counter, marveling at the many painkilling properties of alcohol, I took said ammo and loaded said firearms.
It was crazy time in Megamart.
I could make out the long, drawn-out noise of 'Cunnnnnt!
Keystone and the other ponies were scrambling.
Gun was tracking Deus, but not firing.
And me, I was staggering out from behind the counter with my new.
It was all kinda blurry at the moment.
I could tell the business end from the trigger and that rather blackjack band lancaster pa share all I needed.
You still want my PipBuck?
You can have it when you pry it off my cold.
Not nearly what I'd been going for.
It looked like he'd missed getting shot by Gun, but his gear hadn't.
That made him keel over with each step as he fought to keep his balance.
I blew him a kiss.
He blew one back.
That was a shell.
It was only luck go here him being so off balance that kept me from turning into a Blackjack colored stain.
Another low, deep 'crump' from overhead and the shell buried itself in the concrete, throwing rocky debris everywhere.
I guessed Gun's shells didn't go boom like Deus's.
Off balance and heavy as he was, Deus was still a quick pony!
I project blackjack conspiracy a gun too," I shouted, or I think I shouted.
I might have just said, 'Hadahhhhsss!
Instead I pointed my gun thing and fired, hitting S.
I watched as the shell hit Deus right in the chest.
I'd wanted to aim for his head.
I looked down at the weapon in my project blackjack conspiracy grip, focusing on the blurry letters.
I thought you just threw 'em!
Unfortunately Deus was not a dead pony.
He wasn't a happy pony either.
Actually, looking around, there were a lot of unhappy ponies.
I had a tummy of whiskey residue and my head was going around and around and whee.
P-21 and Glory found me and immediately started dumping healing potions down my gullet.
blackjack and basic strategy, but why did I hurt more when I was healed?
The spinning and the underwater noise receded and I became aware of the copious amounts of blood coming from my ears and nostrils.
Heck, I looked like I'd gotten peppered with concrete buckshot.
Suddenly I didn't feel so good.
In fact I was rapidly going from good to 'aw fuck'.
Why couldn't I stop shaking?
They helped sit me up as Bottlecap, flanked by Keystone and the rest of her security team, kept weapons trained.
I'll send the bill to Big Daddy.
You two can settle it between you.
I'll pay fifty thousand for her right now.
This is a store.
Bottlecap looked at him with complete disdain.
You don't have a clue what it is you're trying to purchase from me.
Now get out, Deus, or I'll sell what's left of you to the ghouls.
But I got one last piece of business here.
You want to collect, bring her head and her PipBuck -- intact -- to the Arena!
If she's alive, one hundred thousand bottlecaps!
Usury will back me up on payment.
After all, she's the sister who doesn't give a fuck," he added, sneering down at Bottlecap.
He grinned at me one final time and then the cybernetic pony walked for the exit.
U-21 limped after him, smirking at me with malicious glee.
Suddenly more ponies were glancing at me and muttering to each other.
Let's get you to Bonesaw," P-21 said as he shoved up underneath me.
It's like there's some universal rule that you've got to get hurt all the time.
Deus had come in like any shopper and simply waited, knowing that I'd arrive eventually to collect on my contracts.
Now that there was a price on my head, Keystone and Bottlecap had thought it best I recover out of sight before I started a riot.
Without putting up a single piece of paper, Deus had created the largest bounty in Hoofington history.
And that was me dead; me alive was twice as much.
I'd thought that Bonesaw took care of patching me up, but the throbbing in my head made me wonder if I had a skull fracture he missed.
Even with everything he'd done, I still felt like I'd been shoved in a dryer set to spin.
I regarded Megamart's security chief with a curious half-smile.
The mottled gray and green mare gave a snort.
You helped us and helped others.
I get my paycheck the honest way now," she said as she tossed the barding down on the cot beside me.
Why was it heavier?
I thought you needed something a little more substantial.
You get shot way too much," Keystone said with a small smile.
Hurry up and kill Deus so we can have another game.
If he's not killing somepony, he's probably at the Arena.
If I wasn't wrapped head to hoof in healing bandages I'd be screaming about how.
They really do call themselves that.
I'd take better care of this one.
There was also a backup automatic pistol and a brand spanking new baton.
It's not even my birthday.
Your bounty doesn't disqualify you from getting paid for other jobs.
Every trade hub is supposed to be neutral ground, and you can send Glory or P-21 in to collect payments.
That is a lot of money for a bounty, and I know many ponies won't care if you're Security or not.
Bottlecap just smiled, and my mane proceeded to itch.
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