• Published 1st Feb 2014
  • 2,570 Views, 130 Comments

Starcrossed - Pirate Jesus

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

  • ...

Chapter I

Twelve Years Later

The hooves of two stallions made all but silent clicking sounds against the cobblestones as they ran through the Gardens District. The Night shrouded the forms of the pegasi slightly, but half of the guards in this quarter of the city were after them. Capture would be almost inevitable. Swift turned to be sure that Flash was in tow behind him, meeting his own gray eyes with his brother's blue eyes that were desperately searching for an escape route. Dammit, Flash, he thought. Where had we gone wrong?

Of course, Swift knew where they had gone wrong. They had made one of the greatest miscalculations a thief can make. They had decided to trust someone other than themselves.

Six days prior, Swift was watching the same pair of blue eyes stroll confidently through the street. His mark was a young noble mare in the marketplace. She was staring at the jewelry at one of the vendor's stalls, completely enamored with the fine crystals. Flash was completely undetected as he flowed seamlessly through the crowd.

Ada boy, Swift cheered silently in his head. Now, make the mark before she even knows what hit her...

A few more seconds and Flash was a couple feet behind her. Carefully, he slowly outstretched his hoof, thinking of the riches this small action was about to land for him and Swift both...

"Excuse me, miss," Flash said, clearing his throat. The mare turned around, surprised. Flash gave her a friendly smile. He presented in his hoof the bracelet that he had just slipped off of her mere moments before. "I found this on the ground further down the street. Is it yours?"

Swift grinned, watching the scene unfold. The two brothers had upgraded from petty pickpocketing years ago. Their jobs had grown increasingly large and complex. They were in on everything from counterfeiting to forgery to embezzlement to grand theft. Lately they had escalated to total cat burglary.

The idea behind such a job was simple, and ironically similar to pickpocketing, only on a larger scale. You found a house, store, or other area that was filled to the brim with riches, you planned an infiltration route- like pickpocketing, usually involving a diversion- you took as many riches from the area as you could carry, and then you got the hell, out of there. It is a perfect orchestration of thieving at its best.

Swift knew without a doubt what his role was. He was a cat burglar, plain and simple. He had an almost unmatched talent for entering, pilfering, and exiting a building as unseen and unheard as a ghost. In fact, for a brief period of time in his early adulthood, Swift was convinced he would be a natural as an assassin. Only two things dissuaded him from the idea: the first was his impressionable little brother, and the second was the money. The fact was he would make a greater profit as a thief.

However, when Flash was still young, Swift had always worried where Flash would fit into the equation. There are many different kinds of thiefs. There were burglars like Swift who could move without the slightest hint of detection; there were masterminds who could figure a way out of or around almost any defense; there were even brutes who had a talent for looking intimidating and shaking down people (Although Flash saw these in particular as second rate due to the lack of subtlety). But Flash didn't show any skill towards any of them when he was younger. It was only when Flash had grown up a bit that Swift saw the obvious skill withing him.

Flash was an actor.

He was a natural born expert in deceiving people with words and playing a part. On other jobs, he had been a stoic ranger, an artsy novellist, an arena grand champion, and in one instance, even played the part of Soarin, one of the Wonderbolts themselves. He could convince anyone that he was anything, and that was the first skill that made him an invaluable partner. The second was that he could read people like a map, and knew exactly what every small cue meant. For such a talented actor, this role was a no-brainer: The Gentlecolt Casanova.

The mare took the bracelet and placed it back on her hoof. She smiled graciously at Flash. "Thank you so much, Mister..."

"Stargazer," Flash said. "My name is Stargazer, miss." He lifted her hoof and lightly kissed it. She giggled slightly.

Come on... Bite the bait a little harder, Flash thought, egging the mare on in his head.

"Well, thank you, Stargazer, but how did you know it was my bracelet? There are plenty of mares walking around in the marketplace," she inquired.

"Simple, really," Flash responded. "The inscription on the inside read 'Emerald Radiance'. When I saw your eyes, well, I thought the name fit you. They certainly are radiant, if I do say so myself." Flash grinned at her as she deeply blushed.

Bingo, he thought. Hook line and sinker.

Flash had to admit to himself; this mare was easy on the eyes. The "Emerald" part of her name was definitely, as he had guessed, in reference to her green eyes. She had a nice figure that filled out the ornate dress she was wearing. Her golden mane was intricately braided, flowing down onto her white coat. If this weren't a job, Flash might have asked this mare if she wanted to go for a drink. But his brother was very clear: this is business, not pleasure.

Why not both? Flash responded in his head.

Swift, on the other hand, watched from a vantage point if a nearby rooftop. He rolled his eyes in chagrin at Flash, hamming it up as usual. Flash was attractive- perhaps not to the point of a movie star, but he did have a magnetism to his appearance. Besides, one of the little secrets that mares try to keep hidden from stallions is that a charming scoundrel is nearly irresistible, and even in the gentlecolt garb they had acquired for this lift- as well as the admittedly flattering silver and chocolate brown they had dyed his coat and mane respectively- Flash's rugged thief personality slipped out just enough to make the mare putty in his hooves.

Emerald recovered from the initial compliment that caught her a little off guard. "Well, umm, yes. That is my name."

Unbeknownst to her, the brothers had already known that long before. She wasn't the prize here, her father was. Her father, Golden Radiance, was a wealthy banker that did business with some of the elite merchants of Canterlot. However, with wealth came greed, and with greed came paranoia.

Golden had turned his villa in the Gardens District, which held his personal vault, into a fortress. The walls were designed to be too high and smooth to climb, the waterlines were so thin and fixed with so many countermeasures even a rat could not swim through, no other buildings were close enough to leap from, and there was a twenty four/seven garrison of over a dozen private security guards patrolling the place. The only chink in the armor was his daughter, Emerald. The plan was for Flash to seduce her, gain entry into the villa by her privilege, wait until she went to sleep, sabotage the defenses for infiltration so Swift could gain entry, and once they were in, it would be a simple grab and run operation.

So far, the pieces were moving well. No major wrenches thrown into the gears yet. Emerald regained her composure with a gleaming smile. "Say, Mr. Stargazer, would you mind doing a lady as myself a great service and accompany me? I'm afraid I am lacking for companionship."

Flash- or Stragazer, as the mare knew him, replied with a gentle grin and a graceful bow. "Certainly. Such an elegant mare should not have to go about town alone," he said, escorting her. Swift still smirked from the rooftop, watching the tramp in gentlecolt's clothing enamor the mare so fully into his facade. "Well," Swift said to himself chuckling, "I suppose that's two vaults he'll be getting into."

Flash opened his eyes, looking at the sleeping mare that he had only met six days ago. He had to admit, she had been a bit more charmed by him than she originally let on. This was, after all,the second night he had been over. They had had long, "romantic" talks about everything, from his background- which of course was a fabrication that he was Manehattan money on a vacation to the capital- to her own hopes and dreams of becoming an artist.

She was a very kind mare, which made it hurt all the more to Flash that he'd be breaking her heart when she woke up in the morning. His brother, Swift, was able to be cold and unemotional about these sort of things, but Flash wasn't quite so numb. True, he hated the upper class, but she had actually shown kindness to him. Maybe she was different.

"I'm sorry, but I have to do this." he whispered to the sleeping pony. He planted a light kiss onto her forehead before starting to leave. For a lesser stallion, escaping from a sleeping lover's embrace and dismounting the bed without waking her would be difficult, but Flash remembered the tips to avoiding detection Swift had taught him. He drew a deep breath and slowly lifted himself out of her arms. He gently rolled himself until he was on the edge of his bed and put his hooves to the floor. There was no time to loose.

He crept along through the corridor and down a staircase. A guard was patrolling the foyer, but Flash waited him out. He had spent the previous night he was over trying to figure out a pattern, and while he didn't get to memorize all of the guards' schedules, he did get important fragments, like windows for the gate, the foyer, and the vault antechamber itself. He crept out of the door in the foyer to the outside gardens.

The gardens acted as a courtyard for the home building, the kitchen, the storeroom, and the servant quarters to orbit around. As such, this was one of the harder areas to sneak by. A guard patrol could come from almost any direction on it's way to another area. Flash saw a patrol of two guards chatting as they walked towards the main building, right where he was standing.

"Ponyfeathers," he cursed under his breath. He ducked behind a pillar, letting them pass.

"...Did you hear about that royal wedding that's going on not too far from now?" One of the guards said.

"Yeah," the other replied. "I heard it was between Princess Cadance and that new Captain. What was his name again?"

The other scoffed. "Shining Armor, I think. Admittedly, he seems a bit young to be heading the guard on his own, but I don't know. I guess Celestia has plans. Say wanna get a drink after this?" The two trotted away as their voices got more distant. Flash crept out from behind the pillar and silently made his way to the main gate. He whistled a couple of notes that rose in pitch. A couple of moments later, he saw Swift come up to the gates from the shadows.

"Miss me?" Swift whispered to him.

Flash smiled and lifted a lever opening the gate. Swift silently rolled through the gate as Flash pulled the wrought iron fencing up. "The vault is in that main building there in a basement. Two guards just went that way and I'm not sure where they are."

Swift smirked, patting his brother on the back. "Now now, Flash. I appreciate you doing your part, but remember. I got this." He walked by Flash, entering the house. Unsure what Swift's plan was, he walked in with his brother. When they got to the foyer, Swift stopped him. "Wait here. I'll be right back." Like that, Swift disappeared down into the basement.

As Flash waited in the foyer, the time passed like centuries, the constant threat of a guard popping up putting him on edge. He focused so hard on hearing any nearby sound that the only thing he could perceive was the hum of white noise and pounding of his heart. Trust the plan. Trust the plan. Trust the-

"Is that you Stargazer, my dear?"

Flash's heart nearly shot into the sky at the familiar voice. He turned, startled by the visage of a sleepy eyed but confused Emerald Radiance staring at him, now dressed in a nightgown.

Oh, buck me, he thought. "I was just getting up to have a midnight walk in the garden, love. Would you care to follow?" He smiled, desperately pulling all the charm he could muster. At first Emerald looked doubtful, but that gave way to a seductive smile.

"Ever the romantic, aren't you?" she said. Flash was about to take her arm when he heard a too-loud voice from the stairs.

"Hey, there was hardly a thing down there. Our tip must have been bad. Still I did get a whole-" Swift shut up as soon as he hit the top of the stairs and saw the two ponies. "-saddlebag," he finished

"What in Tartarus is going on?" Emerald asked. "Stargazer, who is this?"

Swift was hoping Flash would think of a smart course of action. He was hoping he'd at least have the good since to knock the mare out, or at least just run, but Flash was about to break Swift's cardinal rule when it came to thievery.

He was about to let emotion get involved.

Flash drew in a sigh. "Emerald, look. There's something I need to confess..."

No, Flash...

"I'm not a Manehattan aristocrat..."

Shut up, Flash...

"Truth is... well... my brother and I..."

Dammit, Flash. Do something. Run. Hide. Knock her out cold. Hell, even kill her. Just don't say-

"We're thieves."

Well, we're bucked.

"Thieves?" Emerald replied shocked. Suddenly, understanding filled her eyes. "You were really after the money... I was your way in..."

"No," Flash retorted. "That was how this started, but things are different now. You're absolutely amazing. We have had such interesting, amazing talks about everything. I know that you love the smell of honeysuckles, and how you think it's weird that green reminds you of winter, and how you one day want to design a stainglass window for the castle..."

He took her hooves in his as he kept talking, her face slowly softening from a scowl to a bemused stare. Swift would have been far less embarassed if this was part of the act, but he could tell the difference. Flash was actually speaking from his heart. Flash, you damned fool. Don't let emotion get in the way. Run. Now. While we have a head start.

"Look, I know this sounds crazy, but please, run away with me. We can have a life together- a real life without all the trickery and deceit. Please," Flash looked deep into her eyes, every part of him begging and pleading for her to say yes.

"Stargazer... I suppose I could fall in love with him: a gentlecolt with class and money. But you? Some piece of street trash? Never." Flash's heart sunk in his chest, making him feel weighed down. The glee of sharing the truth with the girl he had come to have feelings for was shattered. It was just the clothes... the suit and fancy style... that's all she fell in love with... His chest felt literally torn in two at the realization.

She screamed at the top of her lungs, knowing the guards would come running. Swift tried to drag Flash as he stood petrified. "Flash! What the Tartarus are you doing? We have to get out of here! Come on!" He finally shook Flash from his heartache long enough for the panic to hit his younger brother. They both ran from the foyer and into the dark streets.

It's all her fault. Why did you trust her, Flash? Swift thought in his head as the sounds of guards came from every direction. He desperately looked around. They were in one of the many gardens. In a lesser chase, they could have easily lost the guards in the bushes, or at least bought time with a well timed ambush, but with half the district's guards converging on them and no rooftops or alleyways to disappear to, there was no escape plan.

Well, there was one.

The thought crossed Swift's mind too fast for him to think of the consequences. Not that it would have mattered. The decision wouldn't have changed. Swift reached into the saddlebag that the wealth was in and drew ten banknotes, each worth twenty bits.

"Swift, are you nuts? We are in way too deep to buy our way out of here," Flash chided, noting their often last resort of paying the guards to look the other way for thirty seconds.

"We aren't getting out of here. You are." He handed Flash the bills.

"Wait, what?"

"Listen to me. This money should be able to keep you going long enough to lay low while this thing passes. Find somewhere safe to hunker down, avoid attention, and wait the search out."

"But why would you..." undrestanding dawned in Flash's eyes. "Oh, no, Swift. I'm not leaving you behind."

"Yes you are. You know me. Any cage they can lock me in, I can bust out of. But you? You're skills lie elsewhere. Listen, just do as I told you. I promise I'll come back and find you, but now you have to go."

Flash had tears in his eyes. He couldn't do it. He couldn't leave his only brother- the only person ever there for him- to get captured and sentenced to prison or worse, but Swift's face seemed adamant. After all, Flash's emotions had already put them in this mess in the first place. As tears streamed down his cheeks, Flash pulled his brother in for a hug. "I'm not going to forget you, Swift. I love you." Then, before he could be discovered, Flash fled over a fence and around a corner, determined his brother would find him again.

Swift, of course, knew the whole thing was a lie. The fate awaiting him was either a high security stay in the dungeon or an axe at the chopping block. Had Flash known the truth, however, he wouldn't have left, and it would be meaningless for both of them to die. He preferred the axe. Better to die on one's knees than live the same way, after all. He heard the guards before he saw them, but nevertheless, three well armored and well pissed off stallions entered through the garden gate sealing off the only exit. Swift drew a dagger and a short sword, determined to buy Flash as much time as he could to escape. After all, if he was going to die, he might as well take some of these bastards with him. He gave a delightfully defiant smirk to the sergeant.

That's it. Come on. I'm right here, motherbucker. he taunted them in his head. He raised his blades and leaped at them howling like a mad pony. He had always been willing to give anything and everything for Flash, and he was about ready to make good on that promise.

Flash did just as Swift had told him. He had spent the first two days on the run trying to fly to Cloudsdale. That alone proved to be a feat. As a city pony in a majority earth pony and unicorn city, flight had never been a big priority for Flash. The most he ever had to fly was no more than twenty meters upward to repair a leak in the roof. Flying all the way to Cloudsdale was excruciating and easily the most demanding task he had ever accomplished. There were times his wings would simply refuse to flap out of exhaustion and he'd have to rest.

Still, after 23.4 miles, he was there. Cloudsdale was almost like a second Canterlot. It was a large city, and definitely easy to lose your identity in. For days, Flash held out, waiting for Swift to return. Days turned to weeks, and weeks eventually to months. After a couple of months had passed and mid winter changed to late spring, Flash started to worry about where Swift was.

The money had, of course, run out, and Cloudsdale was not as lined with wealth as the streets of Canterlot. Moreover, working without a partner was almost impossible. Sure, Flash could stay alive with petty pickpocketing, but it killed him to be humbled back to such a lowly trade. Even pickpocketing was almost impossible due to the ever watchful eyes of the disproportionately high number of guards. Flash would have given almost anything for a respectable amount of income.

That's when the recruiters showed up. Apparently, the guard was suffering for membership and was hoping to recruit some new members. The prospect seemed too enticing to a recently impoverished Flash. He had to look at the facts: He had no idea where his brother was, no ability for income, and no shelter or food. The situation was rather dire, and Swift had always taught Flash to think of things by advantage. After all, it's not like he couldn't pass for a guard: He was a fit stallion- perhaps not brimming with muscle, but certainly far from feeble- and Swift had said he could play any part...

Flash walked over to the stand the recruiters had set up and was greeted with a friendly all but hidden under a guard's helmet and a bulky form. "Hello there, son. Are you interested in joining the best fighting force in Equestria?"

Flash hesitated. "... What do I get for it?"

The recruiter issued booming laughter. "Other than the pride of looking damn fine in a uniform? Room and board wherever you're stationed and a stipend for when you're off duty. Why, we have guards on every assignment imaginable, from sleepy Ponyville, to bustling Manehattan, even the capital of Canterlot itself! And let's not forget the magnificent Las Pegas-"

Flash's ears perked up. "Did you say... Canterlot?" He smirked from ear to ear. If he was stationed at Canterlot, no doubt he would be able to find his brother there if anywhere, and while he was at it, he would have free food and a warm, dry bed to sleep in. This really sounded better and better.

The recruiter shared his smile. "You know, I had you pegged for a big city sort of stallion. You want to put the royal in Royal Guard, huh?"

Flash nodded. The recruiter started filling out the forms. "Ok, son. What's your name?" Flash wondered what he should go by. He couldn't use his given name, Flash Hoof. It would be child'splay to trace his name back. He started to mull it over.

Shield? No, too simple. Paladin? That doesn't sound right. Guard? Oh, come on, Flash. Now you're just not trying. Suddenly, it hit him.

"Sentry. Flash Sentry," he replied.

The recruiter scribbled in his name. When he had completely filled out the name, hometown, and physical description on the form, he checked a box that read "Diplomatic Guard Corp" and shook Flash's hoof. "Son, welcome to the guard!" he exclaimed.

Flash could not believing his luck. Things were looking up, as he would soon be able to find his brother and hide in plain sight so long as he kept the charade up.

Still, he had no clue just how much this decision would change his life.

Author's Note:

Second Chapter! Whoo hoo!

I did want to say thank you to all of you for the support you've shown for this story. Unfortunately, support does not translate well to sleep, and thusly I am going to bed seeing how it is 1:40 a.m. and I have to get up in a little over 4 hours

As previously stated, comments, questions, and critique are welcome. Hope you all liked it.