• Published 8th Mar 2016
  • 3,882 Views, 589 Comments

Crime Pays - chillbook1

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

  • ...

Moves and Countermoves

“You’ve lost it this time. Totally fucking crazy!”

“I agree. But there is no genius without a touch of madness.”

“That’s some shit crazy people say.”

“Again, I agree. But I’ve always been a crazy type of genius.”

Dash had a good point. This was insane. The largest heist in the history of crime, and it had no payout. No check at the the end or fountain of gold coins. Just the satisfaction of doing something that nobody else could. By all rules of business, this was a pure loss. But this wasn't business anymore. It was pride.

“So you want me to risk my ass helping you steal the Crown off of the King’s head, and you want me to do it for no scratch?” asked Dash.

I tapped my finger against the book I had been pouring over, its contents long since ignored. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would get no research done with Dash pestering me. I really wish she would just see logic… Yet, as usual, she refused. I was tired of explaining it, yet I tried one last time.

“No. Frankly, I don’t remotely care if you participate in this job,” I said. “I only asked you because it will be difficult, border-line impossible without your help. But, if you don’t want to, the offer of sitting tight still remains on the table.”

“But you wanna be a part of this,” called Lyra. She came around to my table with a stack of books in her hand. “This is going to be legendary!”

“Yeah, a legendary waste of time. This is risky, pointless, and stupid,” said Dash.

“Well, duh. That's why it's fun.” Lyra picked a book from her stack and immediately began digging through it. “That, and the fact that nobody has ever attempted something like this before.”

“Even if I wanted to risk my 100 mil, and, just FYI, I really fucking don't,” said Dash. “But, even if I did, you expect me to work with her?” Lyra was focused on her research and didn't see Dash point in her general direction.

“Trust me, hon, you're not my first pick of heister, either,” said Lyra. She popped open a book on security systems, and flipped through it quickly. “If it were up to me, I'd be doing this with Moonie and Spike.”

“I just mean… How can you heist with someone you don't trust?”

“Carefully,” I said. “It won't be much different than when I hired you.”

“Look, all I'm saying is that this is dangerous. A week ago, you half-drowned this chick and threatened to kill her,” said Dash. “But now you trust her to watch your back?”

“It's more like I'm aware of what this heist is. If we get caught, everyone involved goes down,” I explained. “She can't screw me, because that'll screw herself.”

“Despite how I may look, I'm not stupid,” said Lyra. “I'm in no rush to piss off the Boss.”

Dash shrugged, but sat herself down across from Lyra. She kicked her feet up on the table, then lit up a cigarette.

“Have fun, then, I guess,” said Dash. Silence descended, at which point I began digging back into the history of Castle Equestria.

“We're doing this at night, obviously,” said Lyra. “But how?”

“Actually, I was thinking a daytime heist would be the way to go for this,” I said. “More crowd cover, less suspicion. We may even be able to pass for Royal Guard if we play our cards right.”

“Sounds risky.”

“Doesn't get much riskier than the King’s Crown.”

“Why do we even have a King?” asked Dash. “It's not much of a monarchy if we vote for the leader.”

“It's a leftover from when we used to be primarily a hereditary monarchy,” said Lyra. She excelled at this sort of thing, having always been fond of archeology, anthropology, and political science. “But, thousand or so years ago, Equestria decided they'd rather have this sort of… democratic monarchy. But we kept the title, the sovereign immunity doctrines, and, most importantly, the Crown.”

“As far as I know, there are no upcoming ceremonies that would require the Crown to be worn,” I said. “So it would likely be in the treasury. That’s the North Tower. The only way in without arousing suspicion would be the South Tower, considering that it’s open to tourists. So that’s our in. We’ll have to work through the Central Tower and down through the North Tower before we hit the treasury.”

Castle Equestria consisted of five interconnected Towers. Each had a dozen or so levels, and each level had its own guard detail. The North Tower was the most protected because not just because it contained the treasury, but also because it housed the royal family itself. Moving through each floor would be like breaking into a fortress in of itself.

“Of course. That's some top-notch security there”, said Lyra. “Ten guards on each level.”

“What do we know about the cameras?” I asked.

“That they exist, and that there's gonna be a whole lot of them,” said Lyra. I tapped my finger on the table, a bit annoyed with my lack of information. This would be a lot easier with floor plans, maps, weaknesses, anything. I'd need to call Celestia for those.

“I’ll call my contact, see if she has anything for us,” I said. “She should be able to help.”

“Your contact wouldn’t happen to be that lying, back-stabby Senator, would she?” asked Lyra. I glared in her direction. “What? I can’t be the only one who thinks she’s gonna stab us in the back, right?” My glare intensified. “C’mon, Dash, back me up.”

“Staying out of it,” said Dash plainly.

“First of all, Lyra, there is no ‘us’ for her to betray,” I said. “Don’t think this one job is your ticket back into Mythos. You’re still on my hit list, just a bit lower than you were before. Secondly, Celestia will not stab me in the back. I trust her.”

“To be fair,” said Dash. “You trusted Lyra and Moondancer, too.”

“You’re not helping,” hissed Lyra.

“This is different. If Celestia wanted me gone, she’d have gotten rid of me ages ago.” I closed my book and went to another, this one on cameras and CCTVs. “Remember, we didn’t go to her. She came to us. She wanted to be friends, so I can’t really see her betraying me. Especially not at this juncture, when I’ve given her everything she’s asked for.”

“True,” said Dash. “But think about what you’re doing. If Celestia gets elected, then you’ll have stolen her crown. Think she’d be cool with that?”

“I think that, if she really wants it back, she’ll ask for it,” I said. “And, if that comes to pass, I will have no problem returning it. I truly don’t give a damn about the crown itself.”

“This is the most backwards shit I’ve ever heard,” said Dash with a shake of the head. “Why would you ever steal something just to give it back for no pay?”

“If you don’t get it by now, you won’t ever get it,” I said. “It’s not about the money. It’s never been about the money.”

“Look, I don’t know how you’ve grown up,” chuckled Dash. “But, where I’m from, on the streets, it’s always about money. When you need to put food on the table in a shitty neighborhood, that’s all there is. We don’t steal for the lifestyle. We do it cause we’re out of options.”

“I’m from a shitty neighborhood, myself,” said Lyra. “Cloudsdale. Nimbus Blvd. I came up on the streets, put myself through school, got my degrees, and then I became a criminal asshole.” Lyra smirked deviously. “See? Struggle doesn’t equate to delinquency.”

“Nimbus Blvd? Fuck outta here.” Dash grinned, then made a little M with her hands. “Misty Street, baby!”

“Well, I’ll be damned!” laughed Lyra. “You were one of those dickheads? When’d you leave home?”

“Not til a few years ago. Think we might’ve crossed paths?”

“Hell, I bet I kicked your ass once or twice when we were kids, especially if you hung around the high school during afternoons.”

“Heh. Well, I’ve gotten my ass kicked enough that I probably scrapped with you at some point. Small world, ain’t it?”

“Sure is. Who would’ve thought?”

“Focus,” I said. These two were starting to get on my nerves. “The Castle. What’s our plan?”

“Right. So, if we’re gonna do this during the day, we’re gonna want to use the crowd to our advantage,” said Lyra. “Move with them where we can, keep quiet where we can’t. Equipment-wise, I say small arms only. Something snub.”

“I don’t leave home without my revolver,” I said stubbornly.

“Jesus Christ, where did you get that damned thing anyway? That’s too gaudy and flashy for you, it doesn’t fit your style.”

“I took it as a souvenir from a hitman who tried to kill me.” I smiled, remembering fondly. “He’s a good guy. We work together sometimes.”

“Look, I don’t care if your Nana Sparkle gave it to you, it’s too big for the job,” said Lyra. “Leave it home.” I pulled it from my waist, which apparently startled Lyra, because she changed her tune quite quickly. “Fine, whatever, you’re the boss!”

“I was just checking ammo, you twit,” I said, turning the gun over in my hands. “But, yes, I know. I am the boss.”

“If you’re gonna bring that, I hope you have a good holster, cause that shit’s gonna get seen from a mile away. You really should just—”

Lyra’s phone rang, killing the rest of her sentence in the air. She checked the caller, her face paling when she saw the name.

“It’s her,” she croaked. I flipped my gun, then slipped it back in its place.

“Good. Set up the meeting. Someplace private,” I said. “I want to take my time here, and I’d hate to be disturbed.”

“Look, just calm the fuck down and get over here! The sooner we can talk, the sooner we can leave town,” hissed Lyra into her phone. “I’m at home, just hurry!”

“Lyra, I feel bad about this. I have a really bad feeling.” I was so close to Lyra that I could hear even the nervous muttering of my former friend through the phone. “Something feels wrong…”

“Do we have to go over this again? Everything will feel wrong if the Boss catches us. Get! Here! Now!”

“Alright, geez! Five minutes, I’ll be there in five minutes,” promised Moondancer. “Lyra… We’re going to get through this, okay?”

“Yeah. Just get here soon.”

Lyra snapped her phone shut, then threw it clean across the room. She clutched her head in both hands, slightly trembling while she did.

“Can I go now?” she asked. “I really don't want to be here for… well, whatever you end up doing to her.”

“You stay where I can see you. You need to be here,” I said.

“But… Fine. Okay, whatever keeps my head on my shoulders.” Her forehead hit the table. “Oh God, I'm gonna be sick.”

“You know where the bathroom is.”

“Yeah, sure. Just… Make it quick, alright?” I didn’t answer, which I’m sure made Lyra feel a lot worse. “Fuck, I just wish we didn’t have to do it in her apartment. That’s just mean.”

Lyra had told Moondancer to meet her at the apartment that they shared. We were waiting for her in the living room, Lyra’s face pressed firmly against the glass of the coffee table. I was on the couch, waiting with my gun in my hand. The Widow rested on my face, and I was determined to give the traitor exactly what she deserved.

“How did we get to this?” asked Lyra. “We fucked the dog here, god damn…”

“You should’ve waited,” I said. I saw Lyra open her mouth to speak, and I cut her off with a wave of my hand. “You should have convinced her to wait, then. Or if you couldn’t, you should have stayed behind. Instead, you ran away. Coward.”

“I’ll never deny that. I was weak. But you didn’t leave me a whole lot of options.”

“You think this is how I wanted things to turn out?”

“I think that, if you had a problem with it, you’d find another way,” said Lyra sullenly. I remained silent, which Lyra decided was her opportunity to interrogate me. “Where’s Spike?”

“Predisposed,” I said. I really, really didn’t want to talk about Spike.

“Is that a coy way of saying ‘dead’?”

“Do you really think I’d kill Spike? You think I have it in me?” I shouldn’t have been getting angry, but I was. I should’ve ignored Lyra and focused on the task at hand, but Lyra had known me a long time. She knew how to distract me. What she hoped to accomplish by doing so was unclear. She couldn’t possibly think I’d spare Moondancer at this point. She had to know that her friend was a goner. So why even try?

“Nah. But, then again, I didn’t think you had it in you to kill Moonie. Or Shining,” said Lyra. “That bullet just missed his spine. If that sniper was even a bit sloppy, your brother would be dead.”

“I wouldn’t know, because I didn’t shoot him. Wasn’t my decision.” I paused for a moment, then decided that there was no harm in telling her the truth. “After Spike shot Shining, we relocated to Appleloosa. While there, Spike and I had a disagreement, and we both agreed to go our separate ways.”

“Damn. What kinda argument could split you two up?” she asked.

“I made a call that he wasn’t happy with that resulted in excessive loss on his part.” Lyra looked at me, confused. “I killed his ex-wife and her sister.”

Lyra would have asked more, if we didn’t hear keys jingling outside of the apartment. I quickly and quietly hopped over the couch and to the side of the door, my back pressed to the wall. I listened intently as key entered lock, clicked the pins into place, and the door breezed open, blocking me from view. Moondancer stepped in without a moment’s consideration.

She had changed her hair since I last saw her. It was tied in a kinda ponytail, sticking up at the top of her head. Her glasses were slightly crooked, as usual, and I could feel the anxiety wafting off of her.

Time for my second attempt at retribution.

“I’m here,” said Moondancer, not bothering to close the door behind her. “Alright, Ly, what do we have to work with? We need to go, and we need to do it now.”

“For what it’s worth, Moonie,” said Lyra, her voice dead and hollow. “I’m really sorry.”

“Sorry for what? Oh God, Lyra, what did you do?”

I shut the door, then stepped forward. Moondancer turned, then locked eyes with me. For a bit, neither of us moved.

“Hello, Moondancer,” I said. She turned on her heel and rocketed for the kitchen, where there was a fire escape she could use to get away (if I didn’t obstruct it prior to her arrival, obviously). I didn’t want her to get that far, so I ran forward and jumped onto her, dragging her to the ground.

“Twi! Please, Twilight, please don’t hurt me!” she screamed, along with a bunch of things she was too hysterical to properly enunciate.

“You and I are going to have a long talk,” I said. I dragged her to her feet, then hit her with a right cross. Before she could even think about what she’d do next, I brought my knee into her chest, winding her. She stumbled back, then had the audacity to throw a punch. I leaned out of the way, then grabbed her wrist and wrestled her to the ground. I planted my foot on her shoulder and jerked her arm until it popped.

Then, I stomped on it as hard as I could until I heard the tell-tale crack of a broken bone.

“That was immensely satisfying,” I said, barely able to hear myself over Moonie’s screams. “What next, my friend? Your leg? Your ribs? Perhaps I could crack your jaw. That ought to be fun.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out a pocket knife I had bought just for this occasion, flipping the blade out. “Or maybe I should cut that fucking tongue out of your mouth? Will that get you to keep your big mouth shut?”

“How… How could you…” Moondancer swayed, as if threatening to pass out.

“Don’t black out on me, Moondancer. I have adrenaline shots in the car to keep you with me, if it comes to that,” I said. “So, answer me. Leg, ribs, or jaw. Which one do I break first?”

“Twilight, please…”

I planted my foot on her good arm, keeping her hand pressed against the floor. I flipped my knife over in my hand, then plunged it into Moondancer’s palm. Lyra winced at Moondancer’s anguished howls, which brought a sick, sinister grin to my face.

“I’ll do ribs, then.” I went into the kitchen for a moment to grab a tool box from under the sink. I grabbed a hammer, then returned to my prey. Unsurprisingly, Lyra stood up and put herself between me and Moondancer.

“Okay, she’s had enough! Let her go!” begged Lyra.

“This worthless waste of space is the reason why I will never speak to my brother ever again,” I snarled. “She deserves this. She’s a traitor! So get the hell out of my way before I bring this hammer down into your skull.”

“I had to…” grunted Moondancer. “I wouldn’t… I wouldn’t make it… It was either… Rat on you or die in the box.”

“Then you should have died,” I said. “Lyra, move. This will be the last time I ask politely.”

Lyra stared at me defiantly, then glanced at her friend. Her mouth opened, no doubt to beg me to stop. When I raised my hammer, however, she changed her tune.

“Sorry, Moonie,” said Lyra. “It was me or you, y’know? Nothing personal.” To Moondancer’s visual terror, Lyra stepped out of my way. I turned the hammer over in my hand, a sinister grin beneath my mask.

“Right, now, where were we?” I approached Moondancer, twirling the hammer as I did. “Ah, yes. Ribs.”

Lyra turned away as I introduced my hammer to Moondancer’s midsection. I didn’t strike too hard, not enough to cause any real damage. That said, it didn’t exactly tickle, either. I kept at it until I was sure that they were thoroughly broken. When they were good and cracked, I dropped the hammer to the floor, then pressed my foot down on her chest.

“See what you’re making me do to you?” I asked. “It didn’t have to be like this! If you would have just sat tight, waited like you were supposed to… You brought this upon yourself.”

The only reason I spoke to her at all was to vent. It was supposed to be cathartic, and it was. I didn’t expect, nor did I want, a response from her. But, whether it be the pain, or the rage, or the realization that she’d be dead soon anyway, Moondancer decided she’d speak.

“You left us for dead!” she yelled. “We saved your skin and you repaid us by leaving us to rot in prison! We took the fall for you, Twilight! We were good to you, and you left us behind! We had to—” I applied more of my weight to her chest, which ended her sentence and started a scream.

“Enough justifications! I was coming!” I snapped. “I would have saved you soon, just like I said, but you couldn’t hack it! I had it planned and ready to go, it was just a matter of funding. But you sold me out, ruined everything, you sniveling, cowardly, disloyal—”

Pain apparently made Moondancer much more bold than normal, because she actually interrupted me.

“If anyone is disloyal, it’s you! You called us family, your sisters, and now this!” I pressed my foot down more firmly. “S-stop! Please!”

“Family isn’t who you’re born with,” I said. “Family is who you’re willing to die for. You wouldn’t die for me then. How about now? Will you die for me now, sister?” I grabbed her by the collar, then pulled my gun from my waist and pressed it to her head. Time to end this.

“Say you kill me, Twilight. What then?” gasped Moondancer. “You think you and Lyra can just go on heisting forever? Shining gave us a way out, and we took it. It’d be stupid not to. You’re getting old, Twilight… How many more heists do you have in you? How long before you make a mistake that gets you locked up?”

“Shut up,” I advised her.

“Spike doesn’t know about this, does he? If he did, he’d have stopped you,” she coughed. “What’re you gonna do when he finds out? Beat him to death, too? Twilight, I know you, and you’re not a killer. You’ve killed people, but you’re not a killer. You’ve never liked it, it didn’t suit you. This isn’t you.”

My hand trembled as I kept my gun pressed to Moondancer’s head. She was right. My reign on top of the world… It was ending. I wasn’t young like I used to be. I was getting sloppy, and all it takes is one sloppy move to end a career in this business. And Spike… What would he say if he knew about this? He definitely wouldn’t let me bludgeon our oldest friend to death. Moondancer was right; I’m not a killer. I lowered my gun, staring at it strangely before stowing it away. I clenched my fist, my fingernails digging into my palms, before I stood up and turned around.

“Thank you, oh, dear God, thank you,” whispered Moondancer. “I knew you’d see reason, you weren’t thinking this through. You—”

I turned on my heel and stomped as hard as I could on Moondancer’s face, cracking her glasses in two. I brought my foot down twice more, the third stomp drawing blood, before I dropped to my knees and punched her over and over, with all the power left in my body.

“You don’t know a damn thing about me!” Each word was accentuated with a firm punch in the jaw. After about a minute, some of her teeth started to give out, cracking against my fist. I got at least three of them stuck in my knuckles, which I pulled out to continue my beating. When I had knocked out most of her teeth, I picked my hammer back up and battered her again and again. After around minute three, it became harder to tell what I was hitting. At the five minute mark, I was probably hurting my wrist more than her.

I dropped her unmoving body, my hand and hammer dripping with her blood. I let out a deep breath I had been holding in, then went about cleaning up a bit. As I washed my hands in the sink, I heard Lyra slink over to Moondancer’s body. She cried as she held the hand of her former friend, begging her to somehow be alive. Unfortunately for her, I was very thorough.

“Alright, Lyra,” I said. “Go grab the gas cans from the van.”

“W-what?” sniffled Lyra.

“We left a lot of evidence, and I don’t want them able to identify her body just yet.” I pulled out a lighter and cigarette, and started to smoke. “We’re going to start a fire. Go get the gas.”

“But… She deserves at least a burial. Let me bury her, please.”

“Gas cans. Now.”

Lyra clearly wasn’t happy, but she wasn’t about to argue with me. Not after seeing what I had just done to Moonie. I gestured to the door and Lyra slowly dragged herself away, muttering under her breath about how sorry she was.

“I’m so, so sorry…” she sobbed quietly. When she left, I grabbed Moondancer’s broken glasses and stowed them in my pocket. I liked souvenirs.

She was right. I wasn’t a killer. But I was a quick learner.

“And what happened next, Ms. Sparkle?”

“Well, I burned her, of course.”

“Really? That’s all we get? No long, poetic spiel that basically is just you saying that you’re the smartest person in the world?”

“I figured that, just this once, I’d skip the gory details.”

Twilight was grinning. She wasn’t trying to, but she couldn’t help but grin at this particular memory. She didn’t think herself a sadistic person, but she’d be lying if she said she didn’t enjoy killing her former friend. She decided that people had already made up their minds about her by this point. Her story time was almost over, so there wasn’t much point in pulling punches.

“Very funny,” said the prosecutor. “Now, tell us, do you regret killing Moondancer?”

“I regret the situation she put me in. I wish I didn’t have to kill her,” admitted Twilight. “But, if I could go back in time to stop myself, I wouldn’t. She got what she deserved.”

“And why is that? Because she disobeyed you?”

“Mythos Crew was never about money, which means our bond was stronger than almost anything. Since we didn’t care about the pull, there was never any risk of betrayal to increase profits. There is no honor among thieves, but Mythos was more than just a band of thieves. We were a family. Moondancer broke up our family. So, for that, she had to pay.”

“But can you really blame her? You had left her there for years to fend for herself, without so much as contact,” said the prosecutor. “What would you have her do?”

“She should have waited. I would have saved her.”

“Do you really believe that, Ms. Sparkle?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I believe, Ms. Sparkle, that you had no intention of breaking out your friends,” said the prosecutor. “I believe that you were happy to have them gone. They had failed you, after all, and you have shown yourself to respond very poorly to failure. So, I believe that you would have never actually put your rescue plan in action. Moondancer’s so-called betrayal… That’s just a convenient excuse.”

Twilight chuckled under her breath. She really hated this man. She had always had a low tolerance for stupidity, but the fact that she had to listen to him really got under her skin. The prosecutor just spoke and spoke, his words symbolizing nothing, because they lacked any intelligence to back them up.

“You think you know me, don’t you?” asked Twilight.

“I’ve studied your case quite intently, Ms. Sparkle, so I wouldn’t make any mistakes. Perhaps you should have studied, yourself.”

Twilight smirked. If she wasn’t handcuffed and surrounded by officers of the law, she’d jump over the stand and kill this man with her bare hands.

“You’re getting very good at this whole ‘angering me’ thing. It only took you the whole trial,” said Twilight.

“I don’t mean to anger you, ma’am. I only want to get the whole truth.”

“And I will give it to you. Why would I lie now? My story is almost over,” said Twilight. “Why would I ruin such a fascinating tale with a false ending?”

“I do not understand your sense of humor, Ms. Sparkle, which is a fact I am eternally grateful for,” said the prosecutor. “For all we know, this could just be a sick joke of yours.”

“After what I told you about Moondancer, you really think I’m a joking kind of person?”

“As I said, I do not understand you. I hope I never do.”

“What’s there to understand?” asked Twilight. “Once you think about the situation, I’m sure you’ll find everything I do and say to be perfectly reasonable.”

“I don’t understand the cruelty of a person who murders a former friend in cold blood. The cruelty of a person who tortures those who have wronged them, physically and mentally, for no other reason than to assert dominance.”

“Moves and countermoves.”

“I beg pardon?” Now it was his turn to be a bit confused.

“It’s nothing but moves and countermoves. That’s what everything is, really. Actions and reactions,” explained Twilight. “Lyra’s move was her nostalgia trip. She tried to influence me to lighten up on her by exploiting our past. My countermove was Moondancer. I showed Lyra that the good old days… They were gone. There was nothing she could do to change things. That severely limited her options for other counters.”

“Ms. Sparkle, you are aware that you are talking about killing people, yes? Murder? You have committed the most heinous of crimes and you talk about it like it is of no concern. This isn’t a game.”

“In my experience, the only people who say that are the ones losing.”

“And I take it that you think you are winning?” asked the prosecutor. Twilight laughed, leaning forward at her stand.

“Of course not. I know I’m not winning,” chuckled Twilight. “The game is over, and I’ve already won.”

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!