• Published 8th Mar 2016
  • 3,878 Views, 589 Comments

Crime Pays - chillbook1



Twilight Sparkle, master thief and adrenaline junkie, leads the Mythos Crew in search of the next big score.

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Checkmate

“So, what’s the occasion?”

“Who says there needs to be an occasion?”

“It’s unlike you to just go out for a drink when there’s work to do.”

“Things have been… Rough lately. I think the two of us could do with some relaxation.”

I sat across from Spike in a dusty, musty, grimy saloon. Not a bar. A saloon. The day was winding down, which meant Appleloosa’s scum was was coming out. Spike and I had left Rainbow and Rarity at the safehouse to watch the kids (and to do some reconnaissance, in Dash’s case). Even though we had only been gone for a few minutes, I’d already texted Dash twice. She told me to calm down, that she would report anything she found important, and to enjoy myself.

“You could say that again,” groaned Spike. “This whole thing has been a pain in the neck.”

“It’s nice to just sit back and drink our troubles away,” I said, raising my whiskey in a toast.

“Here, here!” Spike met my toast, taking a sip of his bourbon. “So… What’s your mind like?”

“I wish you guys would stop worrying about me,” I sighed. “I’m fine. Really. I mean, I was scared for him, but he’s doing fine now. Your aim was perfect.”

“I’m glad you’re living with that.” Spike flitted his tongue out, his emerald eyes scanning my face for emotion. “But that’s not what I was talking about. I meant Moonie.”

I tried not to think about her, but it was becoming harder and harder. I don’t think I can understate how important loyalty was to me. If I didn’t have people I could depend on, my Crew fell apart. I thought Moondancer and Lyra were those loyal, dependable people. I was wrong.

“Nothing I can do about them,” I said. That wasn’t exactly the truth, but it also wasn’t quite a lie. “I just can’t believe they did that. After all we’ve been through together… Threw us to the wolves.”

“Come on, Twi. Try to be a bit more understanding,” said Spike. “They were locked up for a long time, and they hadn’t heard a word from us. Of course they were jumpy.” Spike polished off his drink. “And knock it off with the ‘they’. All we know for sure is that Moonie squealed. Lyra might’ve stood quiet.”

I had serious doubts about that. If Shining was able to break Moondancer enough for her to sell me out, then Lyra stood no chance. I was confident that Lyra betrayed me. The both of them were untrustworthy, undependable, cowardly back-stabbers.

As you can no doubt tell, I was quite bitter.

“If you say so,” I said, keeping my suspicions to myself. “So, how’re things with you and her?”

“Hm?” Spike seemed genuinely confused for a second, only understanding when I made a little heart with my hands. “Oh. Well, y’know, Widow is Widow. Haven’t seen her in years, but she’s the same girl.”

“I’m sure. The more things change, the more they stay the same,” I said, trying to gauge how Spike really felt. For some reason, he seemed very guarded about showing his hand where Rarity was concerned. “I hope things aren’t too awkward between you, considering.” Spike just sort shrugged.

“I wish she didn’t flirt so damn much,” he groaned. “It’s giving me flashbacks.”

“To bad times?”

“The best times. She makes me feel like a kid reading a report in front of class.” Spike tried to drink some more bourbon, realizing too late that his cup was empty. “Just thinking about her is kinda nerve-racking. One of the things I liked about her. She terrified me, but I just couldn’t get enough. I was addicted.”

“Any of that addiction left?” I asked. Spike peered at me suspiciously.

“What exactly are you asking me?” he asked.

“Just… You know. Do you still have any feelings for her?” Spike raised an eyebrow. “Look, I’m only asking because I care about you and I want you to be happy.”

“I am happy.” Spike was normally a decent enough liar, unless he was talking to me. I saw through him as if he were made of glass, something I’m quite sure he was aware of.

“Spike… Are you in any way interested in getting back together with Rarity?” I asked him, plain and simple. Spike looked just about everywhere but directly at me, and I noticed a bit of blush on his cheeks.

“Twi… I already said, it won’t work. Our jobs are too dangerous. We can’t be together if we’re both criminals,” said Spike sullenly. “Besides, she won’t leave Appleloosa, and I can’t expect you to make this place your new home. It’s fucked up, yeah, but Widow and I are cool with it. We split on good terms, so there’s no point in making things weird with hypotheticals like that.”

“Spike… What if you left the Crew?” I asked. Spike jerked up, his shock evidently etched onto his face. “Just thinking out loud. You’ve said that Mythos made you happy, but that was before. Maybe the best thing for you is to leave it behind.”

“Are you firing me?”

“God, no. I just mean…” I sighed. I really didn’t want to say this. I was afraid that he might listen, and terrified that he might not. I was in a bad place regardless. “Buddy, I’m with you to the end, okay? No matter what you choose to do, I’ll support you. I’m just giving you options, because I know you think you don’t have any. You have choices.”

I finished off my drink, letting the silence fester for a bit. He didn’t need to answer right now. In fact, I was hoping he wouldn’t. So, we just sat there in silence for almost a full minute before I asked him a question I’ve been wondering about since I found out about Rarity.

“So, how’d you two meet?” I asked. Spike chuckled nervously, his blush intensifying.

“It’s not romantic,” he warned me.

“Never been a fan of romance.” Spike nodded, then let out a long, tired, exasperated sigh.

“I went into a bar and I drank. I drank a lot,” he said. “I drank probably more than I’ve ever drank in my life. I was absolutely plastered. When folks down here see a dragon, they already get kinda nervous. When they see one getting shit-faced? I had half the bar to myself. Then, all of a sudden, this beautiful woman crosses the shitty bar I was at and sits next to me.”

“She didn’t want you to be alone?” I asked. That was kind of sweet.

“Nah. She was just curious about what it was like to hook up with a dragon,” laughed Spike. “And I was too drunk to tell her that the answer is ‘not great’. So, we, uh…”

“Spike, you are veering into TMI territory…”

“Anyway, we had a long, sweaty night that she swears didn’t hurt nearly as bad as she thought,” said Spike, ignoring my protests. “Then, I left. Never even learned her name.”

“The first time you met your future wife…” I said slowly. “Was a one-night stand.”

“That about sums it up, yeah.”

There was more to the story, I’m sure. I was also sure that it was just as gross as the start. I never got to hear it because of the arrival of a third party.

She grinned widely at the two of us, setting down a tray of beers at our table. She pulled down on her brown leather vest, dusted off her jeans, then took a seat next to Spike. Then, the mysterious guest took her hat from her head and set it on the table, revealing her long, dirty blonde hair. My eyes drifted from her own, which were bright green, down to the golden badge on her chest.

I was a bit nervous.

“Howdy, Spike,” she said, her voice heavy with that supposedly charming Appleloosan accent. “Been lookin for ya. How y’all doin?”

“We’ve been fine. These for us?” asked Spike. The woman nodded, then slid the tall, foamy glasses over to each of us. “Thanks. Oh, by the way, this is the friend I was telling you about. Twilight.” The woman extended her hand to me, which I cautiously took into my own.

“How do ya do, Ms. Twilight? Ah’m Applejack,” she said. “Folks call me AJ. Ah’m the sheriff ‘round these parts. Now, you don’t cause any trouble in my town, then we good. But, if you the type to make a ruckus, then we gonna have ourselves a problem on our hands.”

I froze for a second, something I’m sure she picked up on. She busted out an even wider grin before descending into deep, hearty laughter.

“Ah’m just fuckin with ya, Sugarcube. Ah heard Spike was comin down to avoid some heat up north. Somethin about you shootin yer brother?” She took a swig of her beer. “As long as yer on mah side, I don’t give a damn what you did, by the way.”

“For the record… We didn’t want to kill him,” whispered Spike. “I was actually really afraid for a bit, but it looks like he’ll be okay.”

“Hm. Ah reckon yer right. Ah met Shining once, when he was down here trying to clean up the cartel,” said Applejack. “Took down almost a fourth of the family by hisself. Son of a bitch was tougher than a $2 steak.”

“The cartel still a problem?” I asked. Applejack snorted, then sipped her beer.

“They better fucking be, all the money Ah’m payin em.”

“You have a reason for coming here?” asked Spike. “Or are you just here for a drink?” Applejack smirked, then returned her hat to her head.

“Just wanted to let y’all know that Ah got some work lined up for ya. Some gold bars and sugar Ah need y’all to lift for me. Can ya handle that?” she asked. Spike nodded. “Good, good. A truck will be rolling through town next week. You know what to do. Try not to make a mess, ya hear?”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Spike. “Where do you want it when we get it?”

“Ah’ll put you in touch with one of mah people in the family,” said Applejack. “We’ll work out rates later. Y’all know Ah’m good for it. Ah believe in an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”

“In what world is grand larceny honest?” I really didn’t mean to say it out loud, but I did. Surprisingly, Applejack just laughed.

“Heh. Ah’ve had this job so long, Ah reckon Ah wouldn’t know an honest day’s work if it bit me on the tit,” she said. She grabbed up her beer and stood up. “Anyway, enjoy yerselves. Ah hope we get right along, Ms. Twilight.”

“As do I.”

“Oh, and Ms. Twilight? Ah need a favor from ya.” Applejack’s demeanor shifted. She wasn’t quite as happy-go-lucky or goodnatured. She was grim. “Ah don’t know what channels you have connections with, but you seem like the type of lady to know. Ah’m looking for a girl that calls herself Widow.”

I tried not to look directly at Spike. I waited a tick for him to speak and, when he didn’t, I went to work trying to find a decent response.

“Uh… Who is she?” I asked. “Why are you looking for her.”

“She’s a serial killer. Been killing young girls, nineteen to twenty-seven, for a couple of years,” explained Applejack. “Mah sister being one of her victims.”

“Jesus… I’m sorry.”

“Ah’m sure you are. Not near as sorry as Widow will be when Ah get mah hands on her though.” Applejack pulled the brim of her hat down. “If you happen to find anyone like that with yer connections with the scum of this town, point me in her direction. Don’t get my office involved. Ah wanna kill the bitch mahself.”

And, just as quickly as she arrived, she was gone. I looked at Spike, who was sipping his beer as if nothing ever happened.

“What?” he asked.

“Did she really kill the sheriff’s sister?” I whispered.

“Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“How can you be so sure?” My eyes scanned the room, searching in case Sheriff AJ came back. “The woman kills for money, maybe she—”

“Enough. She didn’t do it,” said Spike, his voice like stone. “This isn’t the first time AJ’s sister has come up. I’ve asked her more than once, and I don’t think she’d lie to me. Rarity did not kill that girl. That’s all there is to say.”

Spike really trusted Rarity. I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad just yet. I decided not to push it for now, because it didn’t matter at the moment. It wasn’t like I was about to give Rarity to the wolves. Sure, she might be a bit aggressive and easily-provoked. Of course, there was also the fact that she apparently hated me. Not to mention the psychopath little sister that’ll stab me just as soon as look at me and who would definitely kill me if I crossed her sister in any way, shape or form.

If I wasn’t convinced that Spike was in love with this woman, AJ would be at the piano right now.


Doesnt like peeple in her room

Besides being a disgusting representation of the English language, it was also the message I got from Dash about halfway into my little bar adventure with Spike. I made note of it as we retired to the hideout. Despite being totally sober, Spike turned in early. He said that he wanted to take Rarity out around town tomorrow, and he wanted to be well-rested.

The dark living room area was all but deserted, save for Dash. She said nothing as she rose from her seat, pantomimed a yawn, then pointed to Rarity’s bedroom slightly-ajar bedroom. Then, she disappeared into the room that she shared with Scootaloo and presumably called it a night. My attention drifted to the door of Rarity’s room, and I took a moment to compose myself before pushing it open all the way and stepping inside.

She slept with her mask on. Somehow, while entirely vulnerable in her sleep, she still managed to give off a predatory air. Even as she slept, she was hunting. Besides her bed in the middle of the room, there was a dresser to the right of the door, with a large mirror sitting on top. There were also various nick-nacks and personal items on the dresser. Overall, she kept a neat room. Her closet, from what I could see, was neat, orderly, and extravagant. Hanging over her bed was a very nice, all black sniper rifle, it’s barrel exquisitely cleaned and shined. There wasn’t a speck of dust in the entire room. The only mess seemed to be that dresser.

I looked it over, digging through the rings and necklaces in search of something interesting. She seemed to have a knife addiction, because I found six or seven amongst that mess. Almost sliced my finger on a particularly large and sharp model. Then, just when I was about to give up, I found the box. It was a little black jewelry box that was so ordinary, I almost overlooked it. But, I had to ask myself: Why would she have all this jewelry on the dresser if there was a box right there for it?

I popped it open, revealing six .30 caliber sniper rounds. I carefully picked one up, turning it over in my hand. The bottom was inset with a perfect white diamond, though I couldn’t possibly think of any reason for it other than for looks. It didn’t make much sense to me, but even I had to admit that there was something strangely beautiful about it. I was so focused with the bullet that I hardly heard the cock of a gun behind me.

“You are very lucky I look before I shoot,” said Rarity. I looked up to see her in the mirror, sitting up in bed and pointing a handgun at the back of my head. I slowly lowered the bullet and placed it back in its place.

“Don’t mind me,” I said, as calmly as I could. “I’m just a bit of a night owl.”

“I don’t take very kindly to trespassers, darling.” Rarity never lowered her gun. “It’s rude to enter a lady’s room without invitation. What are you doing here?” I risked turning, but she luckily kept her finger off the trigger.

“This is embarrassing… I was going to snap a picture of your mask, to copy your pattern,” I said, scratching the back of my head sheepishly. “I was thinking about making my own half-mask sort of like yours. Guess I got distracted.” It wasn’t entirely a lie. I really did like her pattern, and I did consider stealing it. I just didn’t need a picture for that.

“You really should have asked,” said Rarity. After a very tense few seconds, she dropped her gun to the bed and pulled off her mask. “I don’t allow people into my room. Not even Sweetie Belle.”

“Why?”

“It’s just the way I like things, I’m afraid. Now, if you don’t mind terribly… Please leave.” Her voice leaked kindness that was absent from her face. I nodded almost timidly, then headed for the door.

“Sorry for waking you. It won’t happen again,” I said. Rarity sighed, then stood up. Beneath her blanket, she wore a fluffy pink bathrobe. She slipped into matching slippers, then crossed to meet me.

“I always get snacky at this point in the night anyway,” said Rarity. “Do you intend on turning in? I’d like it if I had some company.”

“Like I said, I’m something of a night owl. I’d be happy to keep you company.”

Rarity stepped past me, heading for the kitchen. With a clap of her hands, the lights flickered on, which let her pick through her cabinets in search of some form of snack. Unsurprisingly, she returned with a bag of marshmallows.

“Close that door, if you don’t mind,” said Rarity. I did as I was told. “Hm… Chess?” She pointed to the board on the table, which was perfectly set and neat. “Mind you, I haven’t been any good in years, but maybe we can have a decent match.”

“I’m sure you’re just fine,” I said. “Let’s play.” She grinned, then took a seat on the side with platinum pieces. My side. I tried not to let on that I was bothered, and took a seat across from her. I moved my pawn forward.

“So, just where have you been all evening?” asked Rarity. She studied the board for a bit, then moved a pawn of her own. “Spike, too.”

“Spike and I went out for a drink or two,” I answered, moving my bishop forward. “After what happened with Shining, things have been kind of stressful. We thought we’d relax, like the good old days.”

“Yes. The good old days.”

She was so bitter. Angry about something I just couldn’t understand. She couldn’t possibly be mad at me for spending time with Spike, could she? We made it clear as crystal that there was nothing going on between us.

“I tried asking him about how you two met,” I said, deciding to probe for information. “He wouldn’t tell me. He seemed embarrassed? What happened?”

“Oh, Spikey’s such a charmer. He probably didn’t want to make it seem like anything special,” giggled Rarity. “I was at a bar, scouting a target, when he comes up to me and asks to buy me a drink and to take me out to dinner. I politely decline, but he’s insistent. Eventually, I raise my voice, and my target hears me. Apparently, he recognized my voice, and he shot at me!” She paused for a second, and gasping seemed like the thing to do, so I did. “Spike, a perfect stranger at the time, leapt in front of me!”

“He took the shot for you?” I asked. She nodded with a blushing grin.

“The target got away, but he saved my life! When I asked him why he would do such a thing, you know what he said?” She didn’t wait for me to answer. “He said ‘I can’t take you out if you’re dead’! So, after that, I couldn’t reasonably reject his advances. One date became two, and two became three, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Hm. It seemed as if the two had conflicting accounts of the night, and I was more inclined to believe Spike.

“That’s amazing,” I said, pretending to swallow the manure she shoveled. “How long were you together before he proposed?”

“Only a few months, which sounds soon,” said Rarity, scarfing down a marshmallow. “But, we knew what we wanted, so we leapt for it.” She moved up her rook. “Obviously, things didn’t work out, but we weren’t to know. It was no one’s fault.” She glared at me for a fraction of a fraction of a second, making it clear who she gave the blame to.

“I’m sorry things between you two didn’t work,” I said, honestly. “You two both seem to truly love each other. I hope that you guys work something out.” Before she could work out what I meant, I changed the subject. “Have you met the sheriff?”

“Of course. Applejack is a close friend of mine,” answered Rarity. Somehow, I doubted that. “She doesn’t know I’m Widow, of course. She wouldn’t take kindly to that.”

“Because of the rumor?” Rarity froze, then a sinister grin spread across her face.

“Oh? And what rumor might that be?”

“The sheriff seems to think that… Well, it’s just a rumor,” I said. I moved another pawn. “I really shouldn’t spread gossip, especially in a town I don’t know.”

“Oh, but I do love some juicy gossip. Especially if it pertains to me. What rumor?”

“Applejack… She thinks you… She thinks you killed her sister,” I said, as if the very sentence pained me as it left my mouth. Rarity stared blankly for a moment. Then, she laughed.

“Oh, darling, you crack me up,” she said. “Absolutely hilarious! That’s no rumor, dear. It’s fact.” She pushed her knight forward. “Mate in four moves.”

“You… you killed her sister?” I asked. I wasn't shocked by the fact that she killed the sheriff’s sister, but by the fact that she admitted it so openly. “But Spike said you didn’t.”

“Spike’s only trying to protect me. But, as he should know by now…” She popped a marshmallow in her mouth and savagely squished it with her teeth. “I don’t need protection. Still, his heart is in the right place.”

“Why?” I asked. My hand pushed my pawn forward almost of its own accord. “Why kill her?” That look was back, the one that so unnerved me at Fancy’s house, but it was slightly different. Before, it was raw and angry. Now, it was amused. Perhaps even sentimental.

“She tried to take something that which did not belong to her,” answered Rarity, moving her queen. “Mate in three moves. She tried to steal from me, so I killed her. Would you like to hear how?”

“Er…”

“I started by sedating her and chopping off her hands and feet, so she couldn’t try to escape. Then, when she woke up, I slowly began to scrape off her skin.” She grinned that horrible, twisted, disgusting grin again. “Then, when she begged for me to stop, I slowly lowered weights onto her arms until they shattered. She screamed a lot, cried herself to sleep every night. I kept her alive, sure, but she hated every second of it. The food I fed her always had just a dash of her own blood in it. After about a week, when she stopped screaming, stopped crying, when she simply just begged me to finally let her die…”Suddenly, her humor vanished, replaced by fury. “I punched every one of her perfect fucking teeth down her throat! I actually got one of her teeth stuck in my hand. Look, there’s still the scar!” She shoved her fist into my view, and I could make out a small, jagged scar on her knuckle. I swallowed what felt like my heart, then made my move. I don’t even remember what piece, I was so focused on Rarity.

“So, when her teeth were embedded in her throat, I stepped on her face so that my heels went through her eyes. Mate in two moves. I cut off her head, but not before I pulled all her teeth out of her. I still have them in my room some place. Then, you know what I did?” Again, she gave me no opportunity to answer. “I sent her head to the sheriff with my deepest condolences. I was there when she opened the box. Lost her lunch all over the floor, absolutely horrified at what I did!”

“Jesus…” I really had nothing to say to that. This woman, if you could even call her that… She was dangerous. Far more scary than I originally thought. I needed to be gone, soon. I moved… I think it was my rook, and I moved it over to the right.

“And you know what’s funny? I’d do it again. Oh, I’d do it so many times over if I had to,” said Rarity, moving her queen. “Off with their heads, I say! Mate in one move. Oh, but yes, I’d do it over, and over, and over again.”

“Would you really?” I asked. I’d hardly been paying attention to her predictions of the game, mostly just trying to stay alive. I moved my knight in an attempt to guard my king from the threat I couldn’t even see yet.

“I’ll kill any young, arrogant, stupid, selfish, thieving cunt who ever tried to take what’s mine!” she shouted. She captured my knight with her queen, then tipped my king. “And don’t you forget it, Ms. Sparkle.”

We locked eyes for a moment, neither of us backing down for a bit. Then, slowly, I backed down, shrinking into myself. She won.

“What are you trying to say?” I asked. Rarity smiled as if what just happened didn’t actually occur.

“Just giving you fair warning, darling. I doubt you’ll need it, though,” she said brightly. “You’re a smart girl. I’m sure you’ll make the right decision.” She looked down at the board, almost as if surprised to see that she had won. “I do believe that is checkmate, darling. Good match, we really must play again soon.” She yawned into her hand. “And I hate to be rude, but I really must get some sleep. My Spikey is taking me out tomorrow, and I can’t look my best without my beauty sleep.”

She rose from her seat, still clutching her snacks, and disappeared into her room. I sat, frozen in place, unable to come to grips with what just happened. Rarity had beaten me in more than just chess. Her mind games left me almost unable to breathe. I feel no shame in saying that I was absolutely terrified of the woman.

My phone vibrated, and I flipped it open to check the message.

WTF happened???

I looked down at Dash’s text for a bit before hastily typing out reply.

We need to get the hell out of here.

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