Reciprocity: A Metro 2033 and MLP Crossover

by MrSing

Chapter 1: Chapter 1: A Fire in the Dark

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A Fire in the Dark

I looked into the tunnel that was in front of me. A few gas lights and a campfire provided some light, but after a few meters the darkness became impenetrable. All I could see was the barricade I was leaning on, and a few of the cans that were suspended with ropes from the ceiling. They acted as primitive alarm bells to warn us for whatever might try to approach us. Of course, there was also the ever-present railroad that ran through almost every major tunnel in the Moscow metro.

“And Yuri, have you seen any four meter tall monsters yet? I could use some exercise,” joked Sasha, one of my fellow guards and friend, behind me.

Sasha was warming himself by the campfire, looking bored out of his mind. He was almost twenty-one years old. I could barely see his short blond hair coming out from under his helmet as he looked at me with his friendly blue eyes.

As I turned to face him, I saw him using the box that was filled with improvised pipe bombs and spare ammo as a sort of footstool. I’d question the safety of setting it right next to the fire, but he probably knew what he was doing. Probably.

“Don’t even joke about that, you idiot,” Sergei said, scolding my friend. “Our station’s northern tunnel is one of the safest in the entire metro system and you should be thankful for it.”

Sergei was thirty years old, making him ten years my senior. He was a tall man with dark hair and light brown eyes. His age made him something of a veteran, and the most experienced guard out of the three of us.

“Safe? More like boring,” Sasha complained while moving closer to the campfire. ”All we ever see is those stupid rats. If I don’t do anything soon, I’m going to freeze to death.”

As if on cue, two large rats ran over the wooden barricade, nimbly avoiding the razor wire and sharpened steel rods that were set up in front of it.

Sergei simply frowned at Sasha and then looked at me, with a curious expression on his face. “Hey Yuri, why are you here anyway? Not that I don’t appreciate someone else beside this moron helping to stand guard, but weren’t you supposed to take care of the new piglets this month?”

I froze. I could feel my face turn red in shame. The almost tangible darkness of the tunnel behind me suddenly seemed a lot more inviting, maybe I could run away and get eaten by a mutant. Anything was preferable to retelling that story.

Sasha looked away from the fire so fast that his helmet almost fell off. “You haven’t heard?” he asked with a grin on his face. His eyes seemed to light up with joy.

“What are you talking about?” the veteran questioned, looking a bit confused.

“Can’t we talk about something else?” I quickly said, hoping that my pleading tone would be enough to make Sasha reconsider.

My friend turned his attention to me again. “Sorry Yuri, but this story is too good not to tell. Besides, do you want him to hear it from someone else? At least with me you’ll know that I won’t exaggerate the embarrassing parts.” He thought for a moment. “Even though I don’t know how someone would be able to do that in this case.”

Somehow his apology didn’t comfort me in the least, maybe it was the fact that he was laughing halfway through it.

“Well Sergei, you know how we traded with the station north from here for some new pigs?” Sasha asked while pointing in the direction of the tunnel behind me.

“How could I not know,” the man answered. “They traded one of my flamethrowers while our ‘great and wise’ leader kept preaching about how this would be ‘one more step to independence’ for our station, and how it would ‘strengthen the bonds’ with our northern friends.” His voice was laced with bitterness while he gestured at the hole in the barricade where the weapon used to stand.

Sergei turned his gaze to the one remaining flamethrower that was set up on the barricade. “I wonder how independent our station will be when we are killed by bandits in our sleep, or when the other stations decide to annex us.” His expression was worried.

His word rang true. One of the reasons our station was safe and autonomous was because of these fearsome weapons. We were lucky enough that some pre-war general had decided to store several of them, for reasons long since lost in time, in our station. The fact that our station was relatively small, with a population of about two hundred people, and far away from the large and aggressive metro factions also helped.

“Oh, don’t be like that,” Sasha replied. “Besides, do you want to hear the story or not?”

Sergei nodded for him to continue while he walked over to the campfire.

“Well, our pall here was assigned to take care of the pigs this month,” Sasha carried on. “When he was tending to them the piglets rushed him, knocking him over, and the mother escaped. He had to chase her around the station for two hours, knocking over everything and everyone. You should have seen it!” He was smiling at the memory of me making a fool óut of myself.

“I’ve never seen granny Yana shout so hard at someone before. I thought she was going to explode!” The blond man laughed. “Anyway, when he finally caught the sow she had eaten four meals worth of mushrooms in the farm. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a pig that was so happy. Alex was, of course, furious when he found out.”

I winced when I recalled how the station leader had lectured me about how we should preserve our scarce resources while I was standing in the small farm with a pig in my arms. It was almost as bad as the fact that I would have to go hungry for two days to compensate for the lost food.

“Anyway, Alex sent Yuri here for a month to learn some responsibility and to punish him by giving him the most boring job in the station,” Sasha concluded with a sigh. He watched as a lone rat from the tunnel ran over the improvised blockade.

The small smirk that had appeared on Sergei’s face vanished. “So my guard post is punishment now, is it?” His face darkened. “I toil everyday to keep this place safe, and this is how they think about my work?” The veteran muttered some angry words under his breath as he went back to the barricade.

After this the conversation fell silent, and I returned to the campfire. I sat down across Sasha, scowling at him. “I’m glad that my misfortune is such a great source of amusement for you.”

“Oh, come on Yuri,” he said. “Cheer up, it wasn’t that bad. I’m sure that our ‘glorious’ leader will forgive you soon.”

I proceeded to not cheer up one bit.

My friend stared at me in concern, until he suddenly started to smile. “I know how to make that frown disappear.” He grabbed his backpack and reached into it, producing a large dark green bottle.

“There is nothing that a shot of mushroom vodka can’t cure. It may taste like hell, but it’ll keep you warm and happy.” Sasha pulled out three small glasses, getting ready to pour some drinks for us.

“Hey! No drinking on the job, you moron!” Sergei was livid when he heard what the blond man said, and paced back to the fire.

“But I brought enough for everyone, boss,” my friend protested weakly. He stood up and held out a glass meant for the veteran.

The man wasn’t persuaded, and slapped the glass out of Sasha’s hand. “No, and that is final!”

Sasha sat down on his box again with a sigh. The mood was now as unpleasant as the cold tunnel we sat in, and we all just stared at the dark walls, waiting until we would be relieved by the next guard. I saw a rat sniffing at the air while sitting atop one of the barrels filled with propane for the flamethrower.

“Okay,” I said, “this is getting out of hand. Where are all these pests coming from? This is the fourth one we’ve seen today.”

Sasha chuckled. “Maybe they’re off to vote for the new president of the metro, and are using our home as a polling station.”

Sergei, quick as lightening, pulled out one of the knives attached to his sleeve and threw it at the rat. The poor beast was dead in an instant. Sasha applauded and cheered at the veteran’s display of sleight of hand.

“We should start killing them,” Sergei said as he walked to the dead beast to recollect his knife. “We wouldn’t want infections to spread to our station. They can be more deadly than any mutant.”

“I think we-” I was interrupted by the rattling sound of several of the alarm cans being walked against.

We all immediately stood up, pulled out our assault rifles, and aimed at the darkness of the tunnel.

“Sasha, get the light. Yuri, get ready to sound the alarm,” Sergei whispered at us as he carefully walked toward the barrier, scanning the dark in front of him for any signs of movement.

“Halt! Step slowly into the light and state who you are!” The veteran bellowed to whomever -or whatever- was in the darkness. “No sudden movements or we will shoot!”

I could feel a knot forming in my stomach as I ran to the alarm bell, trying to stay in cover as much as possible. 'What is going on? Isn’t this tunnel only connected to the northern station? What could get past them?' I thought anxiously.

After a few seconds Sasha finally got the small searchlight to work and shone a beam of light in the tunnel. It pierced through the darkness, revealing a large group of people. There were men, women, and children dressed in worn out clothes. The light revealed pots and pans, food, spare clothes, tools, and a few miscellaneous items. It seemed like they were holding everything they owned in their small backpacks. What worried me was that a few of them were also carrying weapons.

The people seemed to be exhausted and on edge. They used their hands to protect their eyes from the brightness of Sasha’s searchlight.

“What?” Was all that Sergei managed to say. Some of the people let out soft cheers or started to cry.

“Sergei! Don’t shoot! It’s me, Stepan!” A man worked his way through the crowd, gently pushing people aside. The man was short, his hair had started to turn grey, and he had a large scar on his face that went over his left eye. It was painfully obvious that he was blind in the milky white eye.

A look of recognition appeared on the veteran’s face as he lowered his gun a bit. “What… what is going on Stepan? Why are all these people here?” he said with a tense voice that was in sharp contrast with how sure he usually sounded.

“The Northern station is gone. We are all that is left.” The man said with a mournful look on his face as he gestured to the survivors behind him.

My heart sank. There had lived about three hundred people in that station. There were no more than fifty people standing in the tunnel. “How could their station have fallen without any warning? What could have done this?” I contemplated, not being able to comprehend what I was being told.

Like he had read my mind the scarred man gave the answer. “We were overrun by the rats. I have never seen so many of them.” His tone was not haunted, like I had expected. He sounded more tired than anything else.

“They just appeared out of one of the unexplored tunnels and kept coming. The station was overrun in a matter of minutes,” Stepan continued. “We grabbed what we could, and ran through the tunnel to your station. A few of the guards stayed behind to ward them of with the new flamethrower for as long as possible.” The man looked at the ground in what I think was respect as he talked about the sacrifice these men had made.

Sasha spoke up as he dimmed the search light a bit. “Wait, you mean that…”

“Yes,” the man replied. “They should be here any moment now. You might have seen a few of them already.” I turned my gaze to the rat that Sergei had killed. It suddenly seemed a lot less harmless and looked more like an omen.

Sergei started pacing back and forth for a moment, thinking about what to do I presumed. “Okay, okay. I’ve got an idea. Yuri, come help me remove the razor wire. Sasha, go fetch the blueprints of the tunnel.”

We both let out a short “understood” and went to our tasks without question or complaint.

Sergei and I made our way over the blockade and together we lifted one of the heavy wooden blocks that were attached to the ends of the razor wire. We moved the block to the other side of the tunnel, dragging the razor wire out of the way along with it.

Sergei reached into one of the front pockets of his armor and pulled out a pair of protective sunglasses. “I want you to man the flamethrower while Sasha and I prepare the tunnel,” he said while handing them over to me. “Wear these so you won’t go blind.”

He must have seen my horrified expression, because he put a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “You’ll be fine. Just use short bursts as much as possible and try to keep calm. You don’t have to kill them all, just ward them off until Sasha and I are done.”

I nodded, trying to look brave, but I could feel my hands shake as I took the glasses from his hands.

The veteran turned toward the crowd and shouted: “Okay people, move it! We’re going to get you to safety.”

I could hear a few people thank us, but most of them just stared at the ground as they walked past the razor wire. I couldn’t imagine what these people had gone through. Walking for two kilometers through that dark oppressive tunnel after losing everything they knew.

As the people were making their way over the wooden barricade I saw Sergei writing something on a document in his hands. He called out for Stepan, who was overlooking the crowd to make sure that no one would be left behind in the tunnel.

The man approached us and Sergei handed over the document. “This will allow you in the station, just in case that you need it.” The unspoken words hang heavily in the air. If things went wrong and we died the document would serve as proof that they hadn’t killed us to get past the barricade.

The scarred man accepted the papers and shook Sergei’s hand. “Thanks friend, I owe you.” He then looked at me, seeing the fear in my eyes. ”Don’t worry kid, Sergei knows what he’s doing.” He winked with his blind eye. The macabre gesture caught me off guard and I recoiled a bit. He just let out a hearty laugh and walked after the crowd of people who had now all crossed the barricade.

“What’s up with that guy?” I asked Sergei, confused by the man’s sudden lighthearted behavior. What kind of man laughs so carefree after he’s lost everything? Sergei just shrugged as we put the razor wire back in place.

As we walked back to the campfire Sergei shouted. “Sasha! Have you found those blue prints yet!?” My friend held up a couple of large scrolls with complex drawings describing the layout and architecture of the tunnel on them.

I made my way to the large mounted flamethrower, took a deep breath of the cold metro air, and started preparing the weapon for the horde that would soon be here. As I worked I heard Sasha moving a few of the barrels filled with propane. Sergei was following him, placing a couple of pipe bombs when Sasha had moved a barrel to the wall of the tunnel. Occasionally they went back to consult the blueprints and I could hear them talking in hushed voices. Their differences were said aside for the moment as they worked together.

I peered over the flamethrower, seeing how the searchlight illuminated the train track. Dust particles were floating in its light. As I awaited the rats my mind started to wander. Ghost stories were always told around the campfires about how some station had mysteriously disappeared. All the inhabitants dead or the station abandoned without any explanation. But those stories were always about far away places on the other side of the metro system. Would my home become nothing more than a story to amuse or warn other people? I shook my head to get rid of the dark thoughts. "Thinking like that isn’t healthy." I said to myself. I needed to concentrate.

After a few tense minutes had passed I heard them approaching. A cacophony of claws scratching the ground and eerie squeaks filled the tunnel. I put on the sunglasses, my shaking hands making me fumble for a bit. I glanced back at my fellow guards. “They’re coming!” I shouted, failing to keep the fear out of my voice.

Sergei let out a curse. “Stall them Yuri, we need just a little bit longer.” He and Sasha redoubled their efforts.

I turned my attention to the tunnel again. I first thought that the sunglasses were distorting my vision. The floor seemed to move like a wave. Then the “wave” got in the reach of the searchlight and I realised that rats were almost literally flooding the tunnel. In a fit of panic I squeezed the trigger too early. I felt hot air hitting my face as a jet of fire escaped from the nozzle. The rats were out of range, but the ones in front of the horde recoiled in surprise and fear. Perhaps they remembered the flames from the Northern station. It didn’t matter if their primitive brains now told them to run away. The pressure of their brothers and sisters behind them forced them to move onward.

This time I waited longer until I squeezed the trigger. The roaring fire hit the wave, horrible squeaks and an overpowering stench filled my senses. The death of their friends didn’t seem to matter to the rats in the tunnel, driven by some kind of mindless instinct they braved the fire and kept on coming towards the barrier.

The narrow tunnel worked to my advantage. I only had to sway the weapon a bit to the right and left to create a wall of fire. The rats were actually starting to retreat a bit. My hopes were rising and I would have smiled if it weren’t for that horrible stench and heat. I felt like I could beat the horde there and then. Of course the flamethrower chose that moment to stop working.

The horde sensed the opportunity and started to advance again. It felt like my insides had turned into ice. “Don’t do this to me.” I pleaded, smacking the weapon. “Come on, work!” I shouted. It took three attempts until a burst of fire escaped from the flamethrower again. A dozen half burned rats made it through the barrier before I was able to ward of the swarm again.

Something was definitely wrong with the flamethrower; it only gave of irregular jets of fire and I had to squeeze the trigger constantly. I screamed in frustration as I helplessly watched how the horde slowly came closer and closer to me. They would soon overwhelm me and there was nothing I could do about it.

I almost jumped up in surprise when I felt a hand on my shoulder. Sasha was standing behind me. “We’re done Yuri! Let’s go!” He shouted over the noise.

I abandoned the broken flamethrower and took of the glasses. We began to run in the direction of our station as fast as we could while the now unhindered rats started to climb over the barrier. The steel spikes and razor wire were barely affecting their progress. I looked around me. “Where’s Sergei?”

“I’m here.” I heard behind me. Sergei began running next to us. “I had to light the fuse.” He said, breathing heavily from the exertion. “We have about twenty seconds left.”

I began running even faster, becoming careless. I almost tripped over the railroad, but Sasha grabbed my arm and prevented me from falling over. I wanted to thank him when the world behind me exploded.

I was thrown to the ground by the force of the expanding air. Countless warnings that experienced metro inhabitants had given me about tunnel explosions ran through my mind. “Don’t hold your breath. The pressure will turn your lungs to mush. Fall to the ground and cover your ears if you can. Don’t stand near explosions. It’s bad for your health.”

The noise was so terribly loud that I couldn’t even think for a moment. In my daze I could see the tunnel starting to fill with a wave of dust. A few rats had been thrown in front of me by the force of the explosion. They were lying motionless on the track.

I tried to get up, but my legs gave out under me. I started to cough as the dust and smoke filled my lungs. I took a moment to regain my senses. A constant high pitched noise was all I could hear.

I finally managed to get up. Standing unsteadily on my legs I began to search for my friends. I turned on my flashlight and saw Sasha coughing while he supported himself with his arms against the tunnel wall. He must have noticed my light, because he gave me a thumbs up.

I looked to my left and saw that Sergei was already standing. He stared at the dust cloud, probably checking if any rats were still coming through. I doubted that the tunnel hadn’t properly collapsed, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

He saw me looking and gestured in the direction of our station. I nodded and walked to Sasha, tapping him the shoulder and pointing in the same direction as Sergei had.

As we started to begin the four hundred meter journey back home. We walked in silence and not just because we all had been, hopefully, temporarily deafened by the blast. Another piece of the metro was out of our reach and mankind was pushed just a bit closer to the edge. But our home station had survived, if barely and at great cost, and that was everything we could hope for in this world.

A small rabbit was sitting in the snow below me, sniffing the air. I couldn’t believe my luck when I noticed it despite its camouflaging white fur. I hadn’t eaten in three… four days? It didn’t matter. Soon my belly would be full and I could continue my mission.

I dropped from the air, using my wings to accelerate my descent. My horn began glowing with a bright green light as I prepared the protective spell that would allow me to smash myself harmlessly in the ground and kill the rabbit.

Unfortunately the rabbit glanced at the sky at that precise moment. My magic made me stand out like a sore thumb against the cold blue sky. The small mammal immediately began to sprint back to its burrow.

I tried to steer myself to where the rabbit would go underground when I suddenly felled a jab of pain in my horn. My magic started to give out and my protective cocoon disappeared. In my panic I opened my tattered wings, trying to slow my now uncontrolled fall as much as possible.

I landed in a gigantic heap of snow. The cold white pile broke my fall, preventing me from seriously hurting myself.

I dug my way out of the freezing cold. Grinding my teeth and hitting the snow with my dark front legs in frustration. The rabbit had long since escaped back into its safe and warm home. I dared not to scream in anger, fearing that I might attract a predator that had awoken from its winter sleep.

That rabbit could have been mine. Should have been mine. I lowered my head as I gently touched my smoking horn. "If only I wasn’t so weak.” I morosely thought to myself. “How can I serve my Queen and Hive if I’m dead?”

My thoughts went back to the tragedy that had happened a few months ago. At first everything had gone according to plan. Our Queen had bravely infiltrated the main Hive of the enemy on her own. She had risked life and limb for us.

We had been impatiently waiting outside of the magic purple cocoon that the ponies had created to shield themselves from us. We knew that our Queen would soon give the signal for us to start breaking through and feed on the ponies’ rich love.

Then something happened, I’m still not sure what, and our Queen was forced to reveal herself right in front of the immensely powerful Sun Queen. I remembered that terrible moment as we felt our Mother’s panic through the hive mind. Our anticipating grins had vanished and I could hear fearful screams for our Queen’s safety all around me. Some of my Sisters started to ram the shield in vain with their bodies in a desperate attempt to get to our Queen.

We felt our Mother straining against the Sun Queen’s power. The magic duel seemed to be nothing more than a way to buy some more time until we lost. Then we felt our Queen’s surprise. The enemy’s magic was strong, but her own magic seemed endless. She had fed so much on her thrall’s love that she could challenge even the Raiser of the Sun herself. I felt the feeling of triumph spreading through our collective consciousness as we felt the Sun Queen fall, we were so proud of our Mother. Nothing could beat us.

We now broke through the shield with ease and flooded the enemy Hive. The pitiful resistance of the ponies’ soldiers was broken under our aerial attacks. We rammed our bodies in the ground near them and when they were dazed from the shock we packed them into our green cocoons and started feeding on their love. We grew stronger with every defeated enemy.

Only a few small groups of ponies were giving us serious trouble, but after a couple of fierce fights they were all overwhelmed by our numbers. I had just caught one of the winged guards when I looked up and saw our Queen overlooking us from a balcony with joy in her eyes. My heart filled with warmth for our Mother. We had made her happy and proud. It was the best moment of my life.

The moment couldn’t last though. A blinding white and purple light appeared behind our Queen and I could feel how confusion began to spread through our hive mind like ripples in a lake.

I don’t remember much of what happened after that. I was suddenly thrown through the air and could see forests and mountains below me as I flew uncontrollably fast. I must have managed to use my magic to protect myself from the fall though, since I wasn’t hurt in any physical way.

I looked up from the small crater I had made, not recognizing where I was. There were trees and small plants everywhere. I could see the clouded sky through the foliage behind me where I had left a trail of destruction in my fall.

I quickly tapped into our shared consciousness, hoping to discover what had happened and what I should do. I felt growing confusion and a few cries of pain in our hive mind. It seemed that not everyone had been as lucky with their landing as I had been. We cried out for our Queen. Was she still safe and alive? What had happened?

I felt relieve as her majestic voice filled my mind. She commanded all of my Sisters to come back to our Hive and take the wounded with us if they were in our close vicinity. All of us except for the scouts, we had a task of tremendous importance. We had to find a new source of love. The ponies were out of the question, seeing how they would suspect us among them now. But we had to find a reliable and large source as fast as possible or the Hive would perish.

I couldn’t believe it. How had we been beaten so fast and so completely? We had gone from winning to utter defeat in a matter of seconds. But there was no time to ask questions or mourn our loss. The Queen had given me my orders and I would do my utmost best to fulfill them.

That had been a few months ago. At first I had been hopeful. Food was easy to find in the forest. I could ask our shared mind what berries and fruits were edible and there was more than enough wild life I could hunt. The small creatures almost never saw me coming through the thick foliage as I rammed myself on or near them and quickly plunged my fangs into them.

I could hear promising reports from my fellow scouts as they started to infiltrate a few Griffon and Minotaur communities. They quickly adapted to their surroundings and managed to feed of the love of the unsuspecting creatures, bringing it back to the Hive to power the rest of my Sisters. The only problem was that it just wasn’t enough. We could barely hunt for the entire Hive with the little power they had harvested.

We couldn’t afford to send out more of us to the communities, the sudden increase of population would surely be noticed and we would be found out. Besides, we needed almost everyone in the Hive to take care of the wounded. Quite a few of them had broken the chitin armor of their limbs when they had fallen and the healing process was very slow. Especially without the so much needed healing spells that we lacked the power for.

As the weeks passed I could feel my hope being replaced by doubt and despair. The weather was growing colder and fruit became scarce. The small creatures I was hunting began to become aware of my presence in the forest and started to scan the air more often. The fact that the trees were starting to lose their leaves made my black armor even more noticeable against the grey and blue sky.

My own energy was fading, too. It had been so long since I had fed on the love of another that my magic began to give out. It became unreliable and I could feel myself becoming more tired every day. I still hadn’t encountered a single spark of love in this Queen forsaken forest.

My own troubles were reflected by the Hive itself. Food became scarcer and my Sisters couldn’t risk bringing the harvested love back to the Hive without freezing during the long trips they had to make.

I shook my head. There was no time for thinking about the past. I still had a mission to fulfill. No matter how hopeless things were, I still had to do my best. I couldn’t fail my mission. I didn’t dare to think about what failure would mean for us.

I took off to the sky. My wings buzzing as I scanned the ground below me with hunger in my eyes. Maybe I could find some berries or nuts that a squirrel had forgotten to recollect. Maybe I could find something that would save my Hive.

I couldn’t give up hope.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2: Fear and Hunger Estimated time remaining: 7 Hours, 2 Minutes
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