• Published 1st Feb 2014
  • 2,561 Views, 130 Comments

Starcrossed - Pirate Jesus



A re-imagining of a different direction the Flashlight ship could have gone

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Prologue

The market was bustling as usual. Merchants, money changers, foreign tourists, and even a few nobles crowded the grand bazaar of Canterlot. It was really a magnificent center of commerce, the jewel of Canterlot's economy since the ancient city's founding. For hundreds of years, ponies from throughout Equestria- and evident from the Saddle Arabians, Griffons, and Zebras present, all over Equis- had come to trade money, gems, and other valuables in a menagerie of every form of barter. To the traders and nobles, it was a shining beacon of the friendship among the civilized races of Equis.

For Swift Hoof, however, it was a goldmine. The market to him was more of a hunting ground. Where others saw stalls, he saw watering holes. Where others saw roads, he saw game trails. And where others saw the wealthy inhabitants of the city, he saw carelessly unguarded coin purses, begging to be liberated from their owners. Swift was a thief, plain and simple. It wasn't anything personal against them, it was just business.

Actually, that was where he had to second guess himself; this was personal. These wealthy people acted like their lives were so hard, their jobs so demanding, but what did they know of true difficulty? How dare they complain as they spent enough money to feed Swift's family like kings for a week on a lavish rug or a silver ring- things with no purpose, and therefore, no value? It made him sick to his stomach that these people could even come close to considering their lives hard when he and his little brother relied on what barely amounted to the scraps from their tables?

Swift scoffed. "Bloody peacocks," he whispered to himself from the alley where he waited. The pickpocket's job was simple when you got down to it. Scope a target, predict their route, wait for the right moment- usually praying for a well timed distraction- and then cut the purse from the belt while everyone is misdirected. Done well it was a beautiful orchestration of sleight of hand.

Done poorly it meant running like hell before the bullheaded guard could catch you, or worse, the stockades.

Luckily, Swift usually did it well. He had only botched a lift three times, and only once had he been noticed botching it. The other two idiots had just assumed their purse strings gave out and secured their purses more fervently. That one time he had been caught, though, was less than pleasant. The noble had wanted such outlandish punishments as twenty years in the dungeon or execution. All these fat cats are so out of touch, they would sentence a child to death for nothing more than a few bits, he thought. How pathetic.

Swift had been scoping this one noble for the better part of the afternoon. He desperately begged in his head for some luck. The sun was almost setting, meaning the market would be closing soon, not to mention this specific target was a bit harder to lift. He was one of the magistrates of Canterlot, a prefect responsible to one of the wealthier quarters of the city. Swift had observed news of him before, as well as even watching a speech or two of his. Speeches were always great places to make lifts as people were too focused on the politics to worry about their own coins.

The difficulty was that this specific prefect was being escorted by a member of the Diplomatic Guard, an officer of the larger Royal Guard that was specifically stationed within Canterlot to foalsit the aristocracy. As such, he was used to looking for threats and assassins hiding in crowds, and it would be child'splay for him to spot a pickpocket, even from a mile away. There would have to be a damn good diversion. Please, for Celestia's sake... Give me a chance...

Suddenly, as if in answer to his silent prayer, a young colt not looking where he was going bumped into the magistrate, who was too infatuated with the new carafe the guard was holding for him to see the child coming. The colt bounced back and hit the ground hard. "Ow!" He began to whine. Swift smirked.

Perfect. As if on cue.

The colt continued groaning in agony as a small crowd formed. The prefect, not wanting to be cast in a bad light, knelt down to the colt. "Are you alright, little colt? Allow me to apologize. I didn't mean to run into you." The colt kept groaning. Swift slowly worked his way through the crowd. Rushing through risked drawing attention to himself.

"Ow, I think I'm hurt pretty bad, sir. My knee doesn't feel right when I bend it." The colt writhed in pony as a small crowd formed around him. Weaving in between members of the bustling crowd, Swift graceful drifted feet from his target. He looked at the guard, who also seemed to have his attention taken by the child. Come on... Just a few more seconds... Swif thought as he slipped a tiny, almost imperceptible knife into his right hoof. As he brought the hoof up for another step, he slashed the woven cord holding the coin purse to the magistrate's saddlebag.

Swift gave a small tug, freeing the purse from its fastenings and into his hoof. A more attentive mark might have felt the minor pressure on his bag, but the magistrate was completely enthralled with trying to make it painfully obvious that he wasn't the sort to hurt children. After all, that's a bad reputation for anyone to have, especially a politician. The only other person in the crowd who had a chance to detect Swift, the guard, didn't have line of sight since Swift had waited until the magistrate was between them.

The stallion's heart skipped a few beats as he trotted away. The three to five seconds after a lift was performed was crucial. A good thief could disappear after the first few seconds completely, vanishing into the crowd, and while Swift was no guildmaster, he certainly was skilled. However, if the thief were detected during those interim five seconds, there was little to no chance to escape: not enough head start to outrun the authorities, not enough space to blend, and certainly no suitable, unseen nooks or crannies to hide in. He closed his eyes as he walked, silently wishing as he counted in his head.

5...4...3...2...1...

Swift breathed a sigh of relief, now yards from his target and all but invisible in the sea of faces that was the marketplace. He left the crowd to pity the injured child as he walked away a few dozen bits richer. He turned in to an alleyway off from the main streets of the bazaar and continued before again turning left into an even smaller alley. He waited a moment, scanning the edge of the streets. When he was sure he wasn't followed, he slumped against the dingy walls of the alley and opened the purse, counting out the bits from all of the day's thievery. This day in particular had been very bountiful: the annual Grand Galloping Gala was tonight, which meant the wealthy and nobility from all around Equestria were consolidated in the city for an evening of mirth.

Ten... twenty... thirty... forty... fifty... sixty... seventy... seventy five... seventy six... seventy seven... seventy eight. Not a bad haul. Expected a little more, but it'll do. Suddenly, Swift saw a very familiar silhouette. He smiled as the form became clearer, trotting up next to him in the alleyway. "Well, if it isn't the big ham himself. Good acting there, chief." Swift said to the colt who had moments before been faking an injury.

He was young, and small even for a colt. A tiny pair of hardly operable wings were folded flat against his back as his hooves clacked against the cobblestone. His orange Coat stood out vibrantly midst the gloomy, dull light of the alleyway, and his electric blue hair was styled up as if a massive gust of wind had blown it so hard that it stuck in that position. But most iconic was the innocent smile that crossed the colts face accompanied by bright blue eyes.

"Did I do well big brother?" Flash asked. Swift walked over to his little brother and ruffled his already messy hair.

"You did perfectly," Swift responded.

Flash's smile grew wider when he saw his brother's coin purse, full of their ill-gotten gains. "Oh, wow! How much did we get today?"

Swift dawned a frown. "I'm afraid we only made a meager twenty."

Flash's ears flopped close to his head as his face fell flat. "I'm so sorry, Swift. I should have been more coordinated and-"

"I'm just messing with you," Swift interrupted. "We got a total of seventy eight bits."

Flash started jumping up and down, trotting triumphantly around his older brother. "Really? Oh, by Celestia! That's great! We're going to get so many sweet rolls and stuff! Maybe we can even get a donut or two from that shop across town," he said as his voice cracked with excitement.

Swift stopped him. "Ah ah ah, Flash. What's the rule?"

The young colt felt the wind being knocked out of his sails. He sighed and said as if reciting from memory, "'First we save, then we spend, then we splurge,' I know, Swift." He let his chin droop before Swift lifted it back up with a hoof.

"Don't worry, Flash. I promise we'll splurge. We just have to go in order first. Now, come on. Lets had back home. Maybe- just this once- we can splurge first and buy some sweet rolls on the way." Flash gasped in excitement and couldn't help but cheer, further warming his older brother's heart. They walked towards the exit of the alley only to be stopped by a burly figure. He was a tall unicorn stallion, but seemed to be in the prime of his youth, a few years older than Swift. But that wasn't what caught his eye.

Instead his attention was drawn to the Diplomatic Guard armor that the stallion was wearing, as well as the unsheathed sword in his hoof.

"Hold it right there," the guard barked. "I heard you two talking, and I know you are the pickpockets. There's going to be Tartarus to pay, you couple of-" the guard cut his own sentence short as he finally got a good look at the two street urchins. He saw the bag they were holding, obvious incriminating evidence. Still, something struck a chord with him.. "Celestia's sake... you're only children," he said, torn with conflicting feelings.

In the distance, the three ponies all heard the magistrate's voice echo out, "Guard! Have you found any sign of the ruffians yet?" The stallion took a look at the two colts. One was barely on the cusp of stallionhood, no older than thirteen, and the other was even younger, definitely not in the double digits of age. Both of their faces were petrified with fear as they held their stolen contraband. He took a deep, regretful sigh and sheathed his sword.

"Go. I'll tell him I lost you." Swift nodded his gratitude before bolting in the opposite direction. Flash ran, but hesitated, looking back at the stallion. He hated knowing he would be responsible for the guard getting in undeserved trouble, but he had to leave. After a few more seconds, he two took a turn and vanished from sight.

The magistrate came up to the guard just a few moments later. "Guard, did you find the rapscallions who stole my bits?"

Damn me for having a conscience. It would be so much easier if I didn't. the guard thought to himself. He was still a meager junior officer, still in the process of training for officership, and what he was about to say was a gamble on everything he had worked for in the last year. "No, sir. I'm afraid they outran me and I lost them in the streets."

The magistrates face turned a deep red. "What? Outwitted by common thieves? What kind of a guard are you? You can rest assured I will file a complaint to your superior, you insufferable twit," the magistrate complained and left with a huff as the guard followed closely behind him.

The magistrate did eventually file a formal complaint that went on the record of the guard, but in the future, the politician would come to greatly regret it. It was the only blemish on the otherwise spotless and meritorious career record of future Captain of the Guard Shining Armor.


Night fell quickly as Swift and Flash celebrated. True to his word, Swift had bought him and Flash enough sweet rolls to make them both sick. They even took some to save for later. He also bought two fresh sodas, one for each of them, to take back to their quarters.

They entered the small hideout they managed to have in the slums. It was a room in an old tenement that had long since been abandoned due to a fire that had destroyed the Western half of the building. While the side that was burnt had no structural stability and the first floor was damp at best and flooded at worst, the second floor was much more livable.

Swift nudged the pitiful, knobless excuse for a door aside as they entered the room they used, which was the most dry and least dirty of the building's still standing living spaces. It was really nothing special: a small one room apartment, an old beaten up chest of drawers, a one pony sized mattress that the two colts both slept on, and a tiny fireplace barely big enough for a few lumps of coal. there was one window on the far side of the room.

That window offered one of the few pleasant features of the room. From that window, a pony could see many of the landmarks of the city: The Great Gate of Canterlot, The Grand Bazaar, even the Grand Memorial of King Solaris. However, the true gem was a spectacular view of the Royal Sisters' Palace. Often, at night when the two returned from the marketplace, Swift would head straight to bed and Flash would stay up, looking out over the city.

Today was not very different. Swift flopped onto the mattress as Flash went over to the window. The Palace was the only thing that seemed to be alive in the city this late. Lights shown brightly from every surface of the Gala and the sounds of music and merriment could be heard even halfway across the city. Even fireworks illuminated the night sky and filled the young pegasus with wonder.

"Hey, Swift. Can we go to the Gala next year?"

Swift continued staring at the ceiling, relaxing after the excitement of the day. "No, Flash. Only nobility are lucky enough to get tickets to the Gala."

Flash turned to his big brother curiously. "What's a nobility?"

Swift was in the awkward situation of being annoyed by his little brother's admittedly adorable question. "You know, nobility. Like politicians, merchants, especially knights in the Royal Guard."

Flas picked up a small piece of wood. "I'm going to become a knight then, Swift! I'll slay people, get treasure, all that stuff." He swung the stick, demonstrating his legendary ability with a sword by swatting the air before raising the plank skyward victoriously.

Swift smiled, but on the inside, he dreaded the inevitability of Flash's dreams shattering. Poor little guy. It'll break his heart when he realizes he could never become a knight with his class. Swift decided it was best to let his brother dream for now, though. "Don't forget you have to save and kiss the princess," he joked.

Flash acted like he was sick, repulsed at the thought of having to kiss a filly. "No way! Fillies are gross. Bleh." Swift chuckled at his little brother. Flash fell down on the mattress beside his brother, his head resting on Swift's shoulder. "Swift, do you think, if I do everything but the princess kissing, I can be a guard and a knight one day?" Flash asked as his eyes grew too heavy

Dammit, Flash. Why did you have to ask that? You could have asked where foals come from and that would have been less awkward for me than this, Swift lamented inwardly. "Of course," he lied.

Flash smiled before drifting off to sleep beside his brother. Swift stayed up a little longer, pondering his brother's wish. How badly he wanted to have been telling the truth- to be able to know his brother could be a knight- could not be described with words. But, alas, what someone wishes and what is real are two separate things. There is no way that Flash could ever be knighted: not with his low birth as a bastard and orphan, not with his class as a penniless urchin, and certainly not with their lives based upon petty thievery. If only Swift could get a better life for Flash...

Suddenly, something caught Swift's eye. Out the window, in the sky, something brilliantly soared through the heavens. At first Swift mistook it for a stray firework, but it didn't explode. He realized it was a genuine shooting star. In any other scenario, the old tradition of wishing on a shooting star would seem ridiculous, but the wish he would offer would be equally ludicrous.

Listen... I don't really know how this works... I've never been one for superstitions and all, but if there is a god or spirit or anything listening... please, please give my brother Flash a shot at becoming a knight. I know it's stupid, I know it's impossible, and
I know it's the sort of thing that could only happen in a dream, but I'd give anything at all for him to be happy. Please, just hear me out this once...

The light from the heavenly body eventually faded. "Well, it was worth a shot..." Swift whispered before he closed his eyes and let his mind drift into limbo


"Twilight. It's time for you to go to bed," Princess Cadence called out as she entered Twilight's room. The foalsitter found the young purple filly at a desk reading a book. She looked back at Cadence with disappointed eyes.

"But Cadence, I was just getting to the chapter on ethereal manipulation. Please, just a few more minutes?" Though at first Cadence was perplexed at the ability the little filly had to retain knowledge, she was starting to get used to it. Sometimes she even forgot how young Twilight was, especially when she started throwing out scientific ideas on the nature of magic.

"Sorry, Twilight, but you really need to get to sleep. Your parents said they wanted you in bed by the time they got back from the Gala." Cadence trotted over to Twilight's bed and pulled the sheets back. She gently levitated Twilight into the huge mass of cushions and blankets.

"Cadence, why are colts so weird?" Cadence was tucking her in as the question caught her a bit off guard.

"Umm... What do you mean, Twilight?" Cadence asked, a bit confused.

The little filly shrugged under the covers. "Well, I mean, I was with some of the other kids in school, and the colts kept saying I was covered in cooties, but I can't find a cooty anywhere in my books. What's a cooty, Cadence?"

Cadence couldn't help but give off that smile only foalsitters can when children say something accidentally cute. "Well," she started, "Cooties are this fake thing that colts say fillies have so that they have an excuse to stay away from them."

Twilight cocked her head. "Are they contagious?"

Cadence gave a small laugh. "No, Twilight. They're perfectly harmless. In fact, eventually, when the colts grow up to be stallions and you grow up to be a mare, the cooties will be completely gone, and then they will want to be around you."

"Is that why stallions pay so much attention to you? When we walk around town, I noticed a bunch of stallions whistle at you and try to talk to you. Is that cause you don't have cooties?" Twilight asked innocently.

Cadence tried to fight the rising embarrassment, not yet ready to explain to the filly just how and why mares and stallions show such interest in each other. "Well, sort of. It's complicated, Twilight. I'll tell you when you're older." Cadence was about to leave the room, but the voice of the inquisitive unicorn beckoned her again.

"Hey Cadence, how does love work?"

Cadence didn't really have much of a response for that one. Explaining love to someone Twilight's age was pretty difficult given how complicated of a subject it is. But she's a lot smarter than her age, she thought to herself. Just tell her plainly. Cadence drew a sigh. "Well, Twilight, love is this really strange feeling whenever a mare and a stallion just kind of recognize they care about each other."

"I care about my brother. Does that count?" Twilight asked.

Cadence blushed a bit. "No, Twilight. It's a different sort of love. It's more like how your mom and dad act towards each other.You know... like a special somepony?"

"What do you mean?" Twilight responded, curious about the whole thing. She could read books years ahead of her level, but relationships were a different matter entirely, and she was barely even friends with anyone other than Cadence and her family, let alone bearing a crush for someone.

"Well... You know in the old pony tales when there would be a princess and a knight would come and save her? It's kind of like that. It's more of a romantic ideal where the damsel in distress has someone there for her... Someone with big strong hoofs to hold you... bright blue eyes... that charming smile..." Cadence said, fixated on a mental image of her and Twilight's brother, Shining Armour. It was a poorly kept secret that she and Shining had eyes for each other. Neither was free to pursue the other, though: Shining was always busy in the Guard as a new recruit and when Cadence wasn't busy foalsitting Twilight, she was learning how to act as a proper princess from Aunt Celestia. Still, she couldn't help but picture herself in his hooves, both gazing into each other's eyes, going for a kiss...

She shook herself out of her reverie when she realized she had been saying all of that out loud. She turned to leave, responding, "...but you're too young to be worrying about that. Goodnight, Twilight."

"Does that mean you and Shining are going to get married one day?"

Cadence's face turned beat red. "Goodnight, Twilight," she squeaked before exiting the bedroom and shutting the door.

Twilight sat and thought about what Cadence had said. She liked the idea of being a princess, and of having a knight to herself. She may not have completely understood love like Cadence was explaining it, but there was a certain happy feeling she got in her heart when she thought about having somepony there for her.

Something out the window caught her eye: a bright light gleaming as it swept through the starry night sky.

A shooting star.

She looked up and gazed in wonder at the beautiful heavenly object. She had read about heavenly bodies, including these incorrectly termed stars, but she never pictured they would look so radiantly stunning. As tradition would have it, Cadence had told her, you were supposed to wish something when you saw the star so that it would come to pass. She whispered, fixated on the celestial light, "I wish I could be a princess like Cadence, all pretty and kind, and have my own knight to be my special somepony." The light eventually went out of sight as Twilight just stared at the ceiling and recited the order of spells she knew, categorized by complexity, before she eventually slipped off to slumber.

Author's Note:

Well, there it is! the first chapter of my first shipfic! I hope you guys like it. Any comments, questions, et cetera are welcome below. Thanks for giving the first chapter a shot.

-Jason Fowler