• Published 27th Sep 2016
  • 2,632 Views, 92 Comments

Gangs and Monsters - Flynt Coal

While Twilight deals with the fallout of the Friendship Games, the notorious Fake AH Crew come to town to lay low and rebuild. Twilight soon finds herself entwined in the plots that surround them, hoping to do some good after having done so much bad.

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1 - The Prison Job

The buzz that sounded as all of the doors on the cellblock simultaneously slid open was like a wasp in Peaceful Ramsey’s ear—one of the many things he’d come to hate about the world within the drab, cracked walls of Bolingbroke Penitentiary. A few of the other things Ramsey hated about the prison was the arid climate of the surrounding desert, the quality of the food, and—above all else—his cellmate.

“Stay golden, pony boy,” a black man at least a head taller than Ramsey said with a dark chuckle, patting the side of Ramsey’s face as he passed to exit the cell, leaving the comparatively smaller man sitting on his bunk.

Ramsay watched the large man with almost as many tattoos as he had himself disappear down the cell block with dozens of other men in identical orange jumpsuits. Ramsey didn’t know his real name, just that the other inmates called him “Big Dong.” Ramsey scowled; he had become all too familiar with Big Dong’s namesake over their time together. Stroking his luxurious black mustache and feeling the week’s worth of stubble around it, Ramsey’s blood boiled as he thought about how far he had fallen.

Sure, in here he was known by his birth name of Peaceful Ramsey at the best of times, but just four months ago he was known across the State of San Andreas by the criminal underworld and law enforcement both as “Geoff the Boss”. It had been his idea when they first formed their crew to use old-fashioned names as pseudonyms, and pretty soon he and his crew found themselves preferring the names they’d made for themselves over the ones they were born with. But that all ended four months ago when their latest heist had gone south: When Geoff the Boss had “got Got”, as he liked to put it.

Now here he was, rotting in a state penitentiary, sitting at the bottom of the food chain. But it wouldn’t last. As much as he hated it, being a prison bitch had one upside: Big Dong was the most well connected man in Bolingbroke. During their “pillow talk”, Ramsey had convinced the man to use his connections to help him escape, with the promise to use his empire on the outside to make Big Dong’s prison smuggling business more lucrative than he could have ever imagined.

And so, with the delivery of a couple of cakes (one of which, for some reason, was shaped like a pie) from a longtime associate posing as his lover, Ramsey had in his possession a crude lockpick and a phone. The first of the new iFruits to go in someone’s ass, Ramsey thought distastefully.

He checked outside his cell briefly one more time. The rest of the inmates on his block were lining up as the SASPA officers prepared to move them into the recreation yard. Ramsey only had a brief window.

With swift fingers, Ramsey dialed the only number in the phone’s contact list. Every ring seemed like an eternity as Ramsey glanced back towards the cell’s entrance, but soon enough someone picked up the phone and a chorus of voices shouting “EEEEeeeey!” greeted him. Clearly his crew had him on speaker.

“Hello?” he asked.

Right away a familiar voice answered, “Hey Geoff!

At the sound of his true name being uttered, Geoff felt a calm sense of familiarity, like putting on an old pair of shoes that still fit him just right.

“Gavin!” Geoff exclaimed, having never been so happy to hear the man’s dumb British voice.

How’s life in the clink, Geoff?

“How the fuck do you think it is, asshole?!” Geoff hissed, careful to keep his voice down. “My roomate- ah, cellmate… he calls me ‘Sex Butt’! Prison sucks!

Well don’t worry, we’re comin’ to bust you out, Geoff!” another familiar voice said, this one with a slight New Jersey accent—Michael.

Geoff thought he heard someone else mutter, “...before they keep bustin’ you,” on the other end before Gavin spoke up again.

Right, here’s what we’re gonna do: We’ll be in position by sixteen hundred hours. When we give you the signal, use the lockpick to get out of your cell and make your way to Rec Yard B. We’ll take care of everything from there.

“Alright, what’s the signal gonna be?” Geoff asked.

Michael was the one to respond. “Trust me, you’ll know when the plan is happening.

Geoff smiled. “Good.” If this was going to be anything like their heists, he was going to break out of prison in style.

One more thing, Geoff,” Gavin said, “Make sure you don’t….

Gavin was cut off as the call abruptly ended. Geoff looked at the phone, momentarily puzzled. It was probably just the bad reception that came from the prison being in the middle of literal butt-fuck nowhere. It didn’t really matter. The plan was in motion, and by the time twilight fell, he would be a free man. Geoff hastily smashed the phone into the wall until it broke in half, and dumped the pieces into the toilet. The sound of a nightstick banging against his open cell door rang out as Geoff flushed.

“Hey, Ramsey. Get a move on!” the guard shouted, giving him a look that promised hell if he didn’t obey. “We don’t got all day!”

Content that the guard simply thought he’d only been relieving himself, Geoff dusted off his hands and gave the uniformed man a lazy smile. “Why of course, officer,” he said pleasantly as he stepped out of his cell to join his fellow inmates. The SASPA officer regarded him warily. Said guard would later go on to state for the record that it was the happiest he’d ever seen Ramsey in his four months of incarceration—that he should have known that something was wrong.

Michael stood at the head of the table with the four other main members of Geoff’s crew standing around him. The warehouse they currently occupied was one of the last ones not yet seized by the police or that new gang (the one with the Nazi symbol or whatever). On the table of the boardroom they were currently standing in was a single smartphone on speaker.

Their boss was on the other end, and Michael could tell by looking at their faces that they hated hearing him like this. The once proud crime boss now had fear and despair clearly audible on the fringes of his voice. It was quite sad; like looking at a lion in captivity.

Even so, everyone in the room couldn’t help but laugh when Geoff told them his cellmate called him "Sex Butt."

“Well don’t worry, we’re coming to bust you out, Geoff!” Michael said, hoping to restore some of his boss’s dwindling hope.

Beside him, Gavin leaned over the table to explain the plan to Geoff. As always, the Englishman’s no doubt hungover, bloodshot eyes were covered by a pair of reflective aviators.

Alright, what’s the signal gonna be?” Geoff asked after Gavin was finished.

“Trust me, you’ll know when the plan is happening,” Michael replied.

Good,” Geoff said, and just like that he started to sound like his old self again.

“One more thing, Geoff,” Gavin said, leaning even closer to the phone. “Make sure you don’t….”

Without another word, Gavin disconnected the call and stood ramrod straight, pocketing the cell phone before walking out of the room. The others wordlessly followed while Michael just stood there, staring ahead with a dumbfounded expression. What… what was he gonna say?

Deciding then that it was a lost cause trying to understand how Gavin’s mind worked, Michael merely pulled out his own phone and opened up a text file. On it was a list of names of small towns in the other counties of San Andreas. Once they sprung Geoff, they would need to lay low for a while. Los Santos was out of the question; it would be way too hot after what they were about to pull. So Michael had spent the past few weeks scoping out potential fallback locations where the crew could lay low.

Many of the towns listed were good choices, but only one was perfect: A relatively small town in Paleto County—its most notable feature it's ridiculous name….

Good morning, listeners! It’s another beautiful spring day here in Canterlot, SA. The temperature is a pleasant 86 degrees with slight cloud coverage later in the day.

But today’s a good day for another reason. Long Play, wanna take a guess at what that reason is?

Uh, it is my sister’s birthday, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that’s not what you’re talking about, Record Label.

Haha, well, not to steal your sister’s thunder, but today finally marks the day where the case is officially closed on notorious criminal Peaceful Ramsey.”

Oh, you’re talking about the boss of the notorious gang, the Fake AH Crew?

That’s right, Long. Ramsey, better known by the alias ‘Geoff’ was arrested four months ago thanks to a tip from an anonymous source warning police about the target of their latest heist: the Humane Labs Research Facility in Blaine County.

“Ramsey and his ‘Fake AH Crew’ were notorious for pulling off dramatic heists. Often using military-grade hardware, they’d intentionally cause as much collateral damage as possible, destroying anything and everything that the police could use to find them.”

“Yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing the news footage of an army helicopter carrying a tank shooting at other helicopters!”

“Mmm-hmm. Ramsey alone was wanted in connection to the deaths of over two dozen LSPD officers, and that’s not even counting the rest of his crew. It took a long time for the Prosecutor’s Office of Los Santos to weed out enough of the corruption in the city’s Department of Justice for Ramsey to get a proper trial. The man had a lot of judges in his pocket before his imprisonment.”

“Well, I’m sure enough people wanted to see him locked up. I mean, look at how much the crime rate in Los Santos has gone down since the Fake AH Crew fell….

Twilight Sparkle reached over to the dashboard and turned down the volume on the radio, letting the talking voices fade into background noise. She then returned to fidgeting with her clothes. It felt strange to be going to a school that didn’t have a uniform, the only semblance of a dress code being the simple “nothing too revealing” rule for the girls. Not like Twilight would have dressed like that anyways.

She currently wore a light blue skirt that went down to her knees with gray stockings. Her white button up top was done up all the way to her neck, and she wore a light violet jacket over top of it. Twilight continued fidgeting with the bottom of her skirt with both of her hands, stopping only to push the large glasses up the bridge of her nose.

“Nervous, Twily?” her brother asked from the driver’s seat. The car stopped at a red light and Shining Armor looked over to give her an encouraging smile. He looked handsome in his new uniform, and Twilight was pretty sure Cadance would be inclined to agree.

“No! Why would I be nervous?” Twilight answered all too quickly.

“Well for starters, you’re currently having a second breakfast consisting of your own hair,” Shining said, grinning.

Eyes suddenly wide, Twilight spat out the lock of dark violet hair and set it in place while her brother chuckled. The light turned green and Shining’s attention returned to the road as they pulled forward.

“Seriously though, you know you can tell me what’s on your mind, right?” Shining said not unkindly.

After some nervous hesitation, Twilight started, “Well, public school is really different from prep school socially speaking….”

Shining nodded. “True, but you already have friends there, right? That’s more than most kids can say when they go to a new school.”

Twilight had to give him that. Sunset Shimmer and her circle of friends had been incredibly kind and forgiving to her after… after the Friendship Games. Unfortunately, they weren’t the ones she was worried about.

“Shiny, most kids can’t say that they turned into a magical monster that almost tore apart the very fabric of reality!”

Just like that, memories started to pour into her like a sudden torrent from a burst dam. Holes opening in the air around her, the screams of the students threatened to be consumed by them, the things she’d seen on the other side. Things beyond all comprehension. And the hunger… that terrible, all-consuming hunger that drove her onward. The hunger for understanding and so much more....


The look on his face as she continued opening more portals and pulling more innocents in….

“Twily!” Her brother’s hand jolted her out of her thoughts, and just like that she could breathe again. “We’re here.”

Twilight looked out the window. Sure enough, the car was pulled over along the sidewalk outside of Canterlot High. How long had she been lost in her thoughts? The school’s red bricks towered over them, the white marble statue of a horse rearing up on its hind legs seeming to greet her. Except horses don’t rear up to be friendly. It’s more like the statue is trying to fend me off.

“Thanks for the ride, big brother,” Twilight said as she opened the passenger side door and grabbed the backpack at her feet.

But before she could step out of the car, Shining put a hand on her shoulder. When she turned to look at him, she saw something very strange. Her big brother seemed so concerned he almost looked… afraid.

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay, Twily?” he asked.

“I…” At first, Twilight wasn’t sure how to answer. “I’ll be okay,” she finally said.

Shining seemed unsure of her answer at first, but then he gave her his usual goofy smile. “Hey, if anyone gives you any trouble, just let me know and I’ll kick their butt for you!”

Twilight laughed as she remembered a much younger Shining Armor and his friends chasing a group of boys that had picked on her in elementary school. Sure, her brother and his friends had been total nerds back then, but they were the big kids. And you didn’t mess with the big kids.

“Shiny, you’re just starting your career as a police officer!” Twilight exclaimed, still giggling. “You can’t go around beating up highschoolers!”

Shining grabbed the shiny badge on his lapel with “CPD” etched across it. “C’mon Twily, if I can’t use this to scare off bullies, then what good is it?”

This caused a fresh round of laughter to travel through the two siblings until Shining finally motioned for her to go. “Now get going or you’ll make us both late on our first day. Don’t turn us into anime cliches, Twily!”

Twilight snorted one last time before stepping out onto the sidewalk. “Good luck today, BBBFF,” she said as she turned to close the door.

“You too, Twily. See you later.”

Before she knew it, Twilight was walking down the bustling halls of Canterlot High. The cacophony of noise was a complete contrast to the uniform, orderly halls of Crystal Prep as all around her students talked, laughed, and roughhoused. At least, that’s what they had been doing until they started to notice her.

Back when Twilight first came to Canterlot High for the Friendship Games, everyone she passed seemed to recognize her (the reason for this later became apparent in an encounter she had trouble wrapping her mind around even now). As she passed through the school now, the looks of recognition were of a very different kind. Rather than the smiles and waves one would give an old friend, Twilight was greeted with cold, uncertain stares.

Each time she glanced over to meet one of their eyes, they shied away like skittish animals, only for Twilight to feel their eyes on her again as she returned her gaze forward. More than once she saw groups of boys and girls whisper to each other as they passed, and the few words she managed to catch (monster) did nothing to encourage her. One boy with two-tone blue hair and a black jacket that she vaguely remembered looked at her sympathetically and for a moment seemed about to say something before apparently thinking better of it. A girl wearing a blue sweater with pale cornflower hair sneered at her before whispering something to the two girls with her, making them laugh cruelly.

Twilight wrapped her arms around herself, rubbing her forearms as she kept walking. It took all of her willpower to keep from taking off running until she was somewhere away from all of the watching eyes. She kept going at the same pace even as the girl in the blue sweater and her friends started walking towards her. Shivering, Twilight closed her eyes. She had never wished for the ability to disappear more than that moment.

HI TFILIGHT!” a high pitched voice yelled around a mouthful of frosting.

Twilight had to bite her lip to keep from shrieking in alarm before she turned to see the girl with bright poofy pink hair standing beside her. Pinkie Pie grinned with cheeks packed like a chipmunk, waving at her with the hand not holding a precarious tower of cupcakes.

Pinkie! Are you trying to give me a heart attack?!” Twilight exclaimed, and was promptly sprayed with more crumbs.

“Why? Dfo you wan wun?”

A familiar blonde girl with freckles wearing a stetson appeared beside her, alongside another with fancy purple hair. “Land sakes, Pinks! Swallow first!” said the first.

Pinkie only threw her free arm in the air. “THAT’F WHUT HE FED…!”

The girl was abruptly cut off when Applejack pounced her and pinched her nose. There was a brief struggle before an audible gulp was heard and Pinkie took a huge breath through her mouth. Rarity simply rolled her eyes beside them.

“Aw, I was saving it…” Pinkie said as Applejack released her.

A warm voice chuckled and Twilight’s heart swelled. “Why? You have like, ten more!”

A girl approached the group wearing a dark leather jacket over a teal blouse and jeans, her red and yellow hair a wild, untamable flame. Sunset Shimmer: the girl who saved Twilight Sparkle from herself. As Sunset fell in with the others, Twilight noticed with relief that all the students who had been staring at her and whispering were turning away.

It was undeniable Sunset Shimmer had that certain something about her—an almost palpable magnetism that just drew people to her; or away from her if that was what she wanted. Twilight realized that the definition of this was “charisma.” It was hard to believe that—according to her friends at least—there was a time when Sunset was in a position not so different from Twilight.

“Have an alright weekend, Twi?” Sunset asked with a smile that came all too easily.

“Yeah, my brother’s girlfriend took me clothes shopping, which seemed practical given I can’t just wear my Crystal Prep uniform every day.”

At this, Rarity pouted. “Aw, Twilight darling, you should have told me you were looking to expand your wardrobe! I could’ve helped make you look fabulous!

Twilight matched Rarity’s pout with one of her own. “You don’t like it? You think I look bad?” she asked, grinning and doing a little twirl in place. She knew that wasn’t what Rarity meant, but thought it would be fun to milk it a bit.

“Now you’re putting words in my mouth and you know it!”

At that moment the first bell rang through the halls, indicating it was five minutes until classes started, and the group of girls started walking down the halls.

“AAAAAAH I’m so excited Twilight's going to school with us!” Pinkie shouted, jumping up and down to the alarm of Sunset and Rarity, who were eying the wobbling tower of cupcakes in her hand nervously.

“So what homeroom are ya in, Twi?” Applejack asked as she walked beside her.

Twilight took out her class schedule even though she already had it memorized. “Science with Ms. Cheerilee.”

Looks of disappointment crossed the other girls’ faces. “We all have English with Mr. Doodle,” Sunset said, and for a moment Twilight’s heart sunk. “But Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy are in Cheerilee’s class!”

“Oh, good,” Twilight said, already feeling better.

Soon they reached the door to Twilight’s homeroom, and as the rest of the girls made to depart for their own period one class, Sunset put a hand on Twilight’s shoulder. When she looked over, Twilight saw Sunset’s normally confident face looking at her with concern.

“Hey, don’t let it get to you, okay?” she said.

“Huh?” was Twilight’s response.

“I saw the way the other kids were looking at you, Twi,” Sunset told her, her strong cyan eyes betraying a hint of something else—something vulnerable. “It was the same way they all looked at me after, y’know... the Fall Formal.”

Sunset had told her about that, alright. “What do I do?” Twilight asked.

“Just keep being the same smart, sweet, fun girl we know you are,” Sunset said, letting go of her shoulder and turning to head to class with the others. “They’ll warm up to you eventually!”

Feeling better already, Twilight smiled and entered the classroom. Hopefully Shiny’s first day is off to a better start than mine.

Officer Shining Armor wasn’t quite able to hide his lack of enthusiasm as he and his partner made their way across the station parking lot to their squad car. The same could not be said of the pretty but rather short (for a police officer, anyway) young woman who practically skipped beside him.

“C’mon, Shining! We’re about to go on our first beat together. Where’s the enthusiasm?” Melati Jasmine was one of Shining Armor’s closest friends at Royal Guard Police Academy, and was one of the few graduates to remain in Canterlot. It was no secret that Shining envied those that were able to move on, but circumstances kept him here.

“I’m saving it for when we get an actual case,” Shining replied dryly, nonchalantly pulling out his key fob to unlock the car. As he and Melati got in, Shining found his frustration pushing to continue his rant. “I mean, I know Canterlot’s a small town and all, but is a missing dog really the only thing worth checking out?”

Melati ran a hand through her tri-colored pink, orange and yellow hair as she replied, “Hey, you heard Chief Hardline. This is the fourth missing pet report in the same neighborhood in as many days. You’ve gotta admit that’s a little suspicious!”

“So, what? You think some whack job’s going around stealing people’s dogs and cats?”

Melati shrugged. “We won’t know until we we at least check it out, will we?” The young woman then nudged him and gave him a smile. “Who knows? Maybe we’ll bust up a meth lab that was testing their product on animals.”

That got a legitimate chuckle out of Shining. “Yeah, that’ll be the day.”

The young man’s brooding mood returned, however, when he pulled out his phone to put the address they were going to into Google Maps and was confronted by the recently added background. The image of himself wearing his high school graduation robes smiling between his father, his mother, and an older man wearing a brown coat and stetson looked back at him from the lock screen, his graying mustache curved up with his smile. Shining remembered looking up at the man with such wonder when he was a kid, and a melancholy sigh escaped his lips. He felt his partner’s hand on his shoulder at that moment.

“Hey, I know how important it is for you to join the LSPD,” Melati said. “Really, but your mother’s right. You need to start with something a little smaller. What happens when you try to learn to swim by jumping straight into the deep end?”

“I drown,” Shining replied instantly, having repeated this conversation time and again with her.

And she was right; it was his mother’s frantic tears that had convinced him to stay in Canterlot for a few years before moving on to a bigger city like Los Santos. His poor mother who hadn’t quite been the same since the week after the picture on his phone was taken. Shining knew he couldn’t very well move to Los Santos with the past five years still weighing so heavily on her mind.

“Damn right,” Melati said, giving his shoulder a few pats before starting the ignition. “Now come on, let’s focus on not drowning for now, okay?”

She found Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy sitting near the back of the room where the lab equipment was, who greeted her with a “‘Sup?” and a barely audible “Hello,” respectively. Twilight’s first instinct was to sit near the front of the room where she could best focus on the lesson, but then she remembered why she decided to go to Canterlot High in the first place.

Taking a seat by her two friends, Twilight exchanged quick pleasantries with them and listened to Rainbow tell of her exploits during Saturday’s soccer game until Ms. Cheerilee stood at the front of the room and cleared her throat.

“Good morning, class. I hope you all had a pleasant weekend,” Cheerilee said. “Now, before we begin, we have two new students joining our class today!”

Wait, two? Is there a new kid besides me?

Cheerilee gestured to her. “Twilight Sparkle here is joining us from Crystal Prep Academy…” Cheerilee then gestured to a boy further down the rows of desks. “And this here is Dusky Darneil. Dusky, where did you say you were from?”

Dusky was a small, somewhat pudgy boy with frizzy orange hair. He fiddled nervously with some kind of necklace as he answered, “Red County, ma’am.”

Behind him, two boys wearing tattered clothes and dog collars snickered. “What kinda stupid-ass name is Darneil?” one of them whispered.

“Holy crap dude, he’s wearing socks and sandals!” the other one hissed, barely containing his laughter.

A hard glare from Cheerilee silenced them quickly, and once she was sure she had the class’s attention, she continued, “Now, you all remember how we covered electrical currents and how they work last week, right? Because today we’re going to be building closed circuits! Everybody partner up and grab a kit from the back….”

Immediately everyone got up from their seats and started seeking out their close friends while Cheerilee raised her voice so she could tell the class how she would be grading them. Rainbow Dash immediately leaned over to Twilight.

“Hey Twi, wanna be my partner?” she asked.

Twilight just gave her a playful frown. “You just wanna partner with me because you know it’ll be an easy A.”

Rainbow raised her arms in defense. “No, I wanna partner with you because we’re friends. It’s not my fault you just happen to be an egghead!”

Twilight grinned, and was about to take up Rainbow on her offer until she glanced further down the room. The other new kid, Dusky, was looking around helplessly. He leaned over to the girl next to him, but she simply laughed and moved across the room to partner with another girl.

You already have friends there, right? That’s more than most kids can say when they go to a new school.

In that moment, her brother’s words sparked something in Twilight, and she found herself feeling weighed down by a deep sense of pity. Glancing over to Fluttershy, who looked similarly alone, Twilight turned back to Rainbow Dash and said, “Actually, why don’t you partner with Fluttershy? I, uh… have someone else in mind.”

“Huh? Who?”

But Twilight was already moving down the classroom and soon enough found herself standing in front of the other new kid, who was now just sitting there looking down at his feet. Sure enough, he really was wearing socks and sandals. He fidgeted nervously with the object on his necklace, which curiously resembled five cubes stacked on top of one another: the top four shiny yellow and the bottom a dark purple that was almost black.

“Hey, um… Dusky, right?” she asked. The boy in question looked up at her, a suspicious look on his face indicating he expected her to laugh at and make fun of him. “Wanna partner up?”

Dusky tilted his head in surprise. “Wait… really?”

Twilight gave him her best attempt at an easy smile. “Sure… why not?”

After taking a moment to process this information, Dusky clasped his hands together and looked up in the sky, mouthing what appeared to be “Thank you God!” before looking at her suspiciously again. “So… you’re not gonna make fun of my name, or anything like that?”

“No!” Twilight exclaimed immediately. Giving her a genuine smile, Dusky got up from his seat and the pair of them made their way to the back of the room to get the kit.

“Actually, if I’m being honest, I think your name is pretty neat,” Twilight said as they grabbed a box full of assorted copper wires, a battery, and a board with metal points to connect them to. “Is it an actual family name?"

“Uh… yes?”

“Amazing!” Twilight exclaimed, her sheer enthusiasm causing Dusky to take a step back. “Passing down family names hasn’t been popular since the turn of the century! Everyone just calls each other by name meanings now.”

Dusky smiled, though it was clear he was starting to get a little uncomfortable. “Yep. G-guess my family is just old fashioned like that….”

Not picking up on Dusky’s discomfort, Twilight continued. “I actually looked up what my name would be if I was given a more traditional name: Lycoris Brilliant. It’s part Greek!”

“Look, I’m glad that you think my name is cool and stuff, but can we, like, talk about something else?”

“Oh, okay,” Twilight said, glancing down at his strange necklace again. “That’s a really interesting necklace you’ve got there. What exactly is it supposed to be?”

Dusty grabbed the object in one hand and turned away. “Nothing! Why does it have to be something, huh?! Why can’t it just be a cool necklace?”

Jeez, is there a reason this kid is so jumpy?

Twilight started to have regrets about her decision to partner with Dusky until they actually began work on their project. Twilight thought she would have to do most of the work herself, but Dusky proved to actually be pretty competent with the intricacies of a circuit. He may be a bit odd, but he’s certainly not stupid.

“Hey, you went to Crystal Prep before coming here, right?” Dusky asked as they worked. “If you don’t mind me asking, why did you leave? I can’t imagine you were getting anything but straight A’s while you were there.”

Twilight felt her cheeks turn hot and she rubbed the back of her neck. Not only was this Dusky not stupid, he was pretty darn perceptive. “Oh, I just… needed a change in environment, I guess. Crystal Prep was great for my academic career, but the social environment was just… toxic, you know?”

“Yeah, I felt that way when I met the principal,” Dusky said, and Twilight found herself looking at him with surprise.

“You applied to get into Crystal Prep?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t make the cut. I did well enough on the entrance exam, but Ms. Cinch said I didn’t ‘represent the personal level of quality Crystal Prep built its reputation on.’” Dusky looked down, having forgotten about the copper wires in his hand. “I think that was just her way of calling me a freak.”

Twilight tried giving him a reassuring smile. “Hey, don’t feel bad. If anything, you should be thankful. Not getting accepted means you don’t have to deal with her for the next two years.”

Dusky finally smiled a little. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. You must have nerves of steel to have been able to exist in the same building as her for so long!”

“Yeah,” Twilight laughed. “I can’t imagine many people worse than her!”

High up on a hill, a man looked through the scope of a bright pink sniper rifle. He wore a purple sweater and a black tuque (which admittedly made things uncomfortable in the heat). I regret everything, Ray thought as he surveyed the prison below.

Bolingbroke State Penitentiary was surrounded on all sides by two layers of barbed wire fence, its buildings arranged in a vaguely pentagonal shape. Ray had never seen a more bland, dreary looking place: It made his old New York apartment look like a luxury suite. Well, a luxury suite that happened to have no furniture save for an old mattress and a single lamp. On second thought, Ray would have happily gone to live in a prison back then.

Now though, Ray lived a life of luxury as one of the top echelon of the Fake AH Crew. But that life was about to slip away as more and more of the gang’s assets were seized either by police or that rival gang. That was why he was here in the desert sweating his balls off: One part his own poor wardrobe choices and the other because his boss was currently sitting in the prison below. They were going to need Geoff if they had a hope of returning their empire to its former glory.

“This is TAFKAR, I’m in position,” Ray said into his radio headset, somewhat annoyed that ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Ray’ was too long to be used as an actual codename.

This is Valet, I’ll be at the front gates in five,” Michael’s Jersey voice responded.

Team Love ‘N Stuff is in the air,” the deep, dark voice of Ryan intoned while Ray looked up to see what by all outward appearances was a news chopper flying above the prison. “We have a good view of things from up here.

This is Overlord, the cargobob is standing by,” Jack reported.

Satisfied that everything was in place, Ray got up from his prone position and walked back to where the vehicle he called in from Pegasus was waiting. The prison was well guarded—the San Andreas State Prison Authority guards were well armed with sniper rifles, assault rifles and carbines. That was why for his job as diversion, Ray was using the Rhino.

“I could blow up the whole goddamn world with this thing,” he had once said to Geoff. What he needed it for now was a little short of ‘the whole goddamn world,’ so he figured he would do just fine.

Jumping up to climb into the top hatch of the desert tan armored vehicle, Ray opened his channel with the rest of the Fake AH Crew so he could officially start the operation off in the traditional Fake AH Crew way.


If there was one word SASPA officer Takedown would use to describe the moment, it would be “content.” Sure, he may have been working long shifts at a state penitentiary in the middle of the desert, but the pay was good. And yes, working gate duty in a small booth that acted as a hot box in this heat was unpleasant, but the company was worth it. A woman with red and pink hair done up in a ponytail sat at the other end of the booth, her feet up on the open window: Pepper Spray, his partner for most of these shifts.

“...and as if it wasn’t already clear that the idiot had never been to a classy restaurant in his life, he tried to pick a fight with the fucking waiter! And when I say ‘fight,’ I mean full on standing up, jackets off, ‘settle this like men’ crap!” Pepper exclaimed, and Takedown chuckled.

She had a way with words that always put a smile on his face, and she had a plethora of stories to tell. When Takedown was with her, sitting in that booth wearing that stifling white uniform didn’t seem to matter. Her raspy but sweet voice gave him more comfort than the tiny fan trying desperately to give the booth ventilation.

“All this over a steak?” Takedown asked incredulously.

Pepper nodded, her ponytail bouncing behind her. “Yep! ‘Do you shitheads know what well done is? Because I’d be glad to teach ya!’ I swear, that kinda shit is why I can’t stand the alpha male types.”

Takedown gave her a teasing grin. “Oh, so you’re saying there’s no second date?”

“Please, I’d sooner go out with one of the scumbags,” Pepper said, jerking her head back in the direction of the prison before sighing. Just like that, her jovial tone became more melancholic. “Still though, I’m getting kinda tired of just going back to my apartment alone at the end of the day.”

Before Takedown even knew what he was doing, his mouth said the first thing that came to mind. “Well if you want, you and I can go out for drinks when both our shifts are over.”

A grin with a hint of amorousness formed on Pepper’s face. “Takedown, are you… asking me out?”

Flustered, Takedown cleared his throat a few times before answering. Fuck it. “Why not? I, uh, like you well enough. Doesn’t have to be serious or anything. Could just be a casual night between frien-”

A strong yet soft finger suddenly came up to Takedown’s lips. “Ssh, look. I’m gonna stop you right there before you use the F-word like that.” Pepper leaned forward and put her hand on his, and Takedown suddenly found his heart beating very quickly. “I would love to go out with you.”

Takedown couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Wait… really?”

“Of course! In fact, I was starting to think you’d never ask!” All too soon Pepper pulled her hand away and she leaned back in her chair, giving Takedown one of her teasing grins. “Guess you do have a pair somewhere down there after all!”

“Wouldn’t you like to know!” Takedown laughed, and in that moment he wasn’t simply content: He was truly happy. Nothing could have ruined the good mood he was in at that moment… except maybe for the sudden change in Pepper’s face.

“What the hell is that…?” she muttered as she leaned forward, looking out the window of their booth past him.

Takedown turned around in his chair to see what she was looking at and spotted a black splotch down the paved road moving closer and closer. His chair creaked as he leaned forward to grab his binoculars and looked out across the arid plain to the object in question. A black limousine was driving down the road toward Bolingbroke Penitentiary at a hasty speed. Something green was on the hood but he couldn’t quite make it out.

“You haven’t heard anything about a VIP visitor to the prison, have you?” Takedown asked.

“No…” Pepper answered warily, checking the sidearm on her waist as she stood up.

She and Takedown both exited the booth and stood in front of the gate, ready to meet the approaching vehicle. As the limo drew closer, the splotch of green on the hood caught Takedown’s eye again, so he raised his binoculars hoping to get a better look at it.

“Oh no. You’ve gotta be kidding…” he muttered as he finally saw what the green mark was: A circular logo with a green duck in the center.

“What?” Pepper asked, a hint of worry entering her usual confident tone.

Takedown ran back for their booth to grab his riot shotgun; they were going to need more firepower for what was coming. “It’s the Fake AH Crew!” he exclaimed. “Get on the radio with CP, tell them…!”

Takedown was cut off by a distant boom like a cannon shot, followed not a second later by a deafening blast right next to them. Takedown was thrown off his feet and crashed headfirst into one of the booth’s glass windows, the force of the impact shattering it. All at once Takedown felt like he was swimming through swamp water.

The whole world spun around him and became muffled under the ringing in his ears. Takedown rolled onto his back, put a hand to his head, and became alarmed when he felt that it was wet. He tried to stand up, but an immense pain in his lower chest kept him from getting past a sitting position. Shit, that probably means broken ribs. Takedown leaned against the booth he and Pepper spent so many hours in on a day to day basis as he tried to regain his senses.

The ringing in his ears died down around the time the black limo zoomed by, passing through the now destroyed gate and into the prison. Another distant boom was followed by an explosion as one of the guard towers went up in a plume of fire. With wide frantic eyes, Takedown looked around to try and find what was causing all this damage. His question was answered when he traced the sources of the noise to a large hill overlooking the entire prison and saw a tank painted in desert tan colors as it fired another shot.

“Pepper…” Takedown coughed, then coughed some more. His veins turned ice cold when blood started coming up with the coughs. Oh shit, that’s gotta be internal bleeding. Shit shit….

“Pepper!” he called out again, but the only response he heard were the distant shouts of men and women inside the prison walls as another blast went off.

Clutching his chest and coughing up more blood, Takedown crawled forward, looking around for his partner. He found her lying a few feet away, the dirt and pavement around her covered in blood.

No... no no no oh please God no…. Takedown prayed to every god he knew of as he dragged his way across the pavement, each movement giving him endless agony. Finally he reached where Pepper lay and felt her neck, only to confirm his deepest fears.

Takedown allowed himself to collapse beside Pepper Spray’s lifeless body, one arm still around her. He was only partially aware of the frantic chatter coming from her radio as more blood came out in dry coughs. As he looked at her two-toned hair and emerald green eyes, Takedown was assaulted by a rush of thoughts of what could’ve been.

The two of them went out to a nice bar—nothing too fancy. They ordered drinks and talked and laughed as they always did together. He walked her home, holding her hand in his, her head resting on his shoulder. She invited him in, they kissed, then went into the bedroom for a night of passion. A few months later, they moved in together, and a few years after that he got to one knee and gave her a ring. They bought a house, had children, watched them grow….

Takedown winced as he forced the thoughts from his head. They wouldn’t do him any good now. It occurred to him then that he was having a lot of trouble breathing. What was more, he was freezing. The hot desert sun was still beating down on him, but Takedown was just cold. After a while, it wasn’t so bad. After a little while more the pain stopped as Takedown closed his eyes, deciding he’d really like to take a long rest….

A serene smile formed beneath his black mustache as all hell broke loose around him. Geoff the Boss stood in the rec yard outside Cell Block B, drinking in the sounds of destruction and calamity around him. Now if only I had an actual drink….

Getting outside had been child’s play. The lockpick he’d received with the pie-cake got him out of his cell with ease, and his pathway to the rec yard was unimpeded as the guards let him pass—Big Dong had been true to his end of the bargain. Once his empire was back to its full strength, Geoff would be sure to return the favor. Of course, if Big Dong tried anymore funny business, or thought about calling him ‘Sex Butt’ again, Geoff would have to teach him a lesson about respect. Ryan could certainly put the fear of God into him as he had with so many others.

The screech of tires drew Geoff’s attention over to his right, where a familiar black limo adorned with the green duck sigil of his crew sped around the corner and pulled up to a stop in front of him. Habitually, Geoff reached up to straighten the collar of his suit jacket before getting in, only to remember he was still wearing his orange jumpsuit.

“Geoff, you just got probation!” a Jersey rasp greeted him as he stepped into the back of the limo. Michael looked back at him through the driver’s window and grinned. He was dressed in a finely pressed gray suit with a ridiculously large matching top hat. It would appear that, as always, his crew had prepared special costumes for this job.

“Good to see you, Michael,” Geoff said. “You guys are really bustin’ me out in style, don’t think I don’t appreciate it!”

Several dull pings sounded across the outside of the limo, and Geoff looked out the window to see several SASPA guards moving towards them bearing pistols and carbines. The limo was outfitted with bulletproof armor and tires, so they wouldn’t be getting inside with any of that. Even still, the guards quickly had them surrounded.

“Uh, I don’t suppose you’ve got a plan for getting us out of here?” Geoff asked.

“Geoff please,” was all Michael said, and that was when Geoff heard the helicopter rotors getting closer and closer. “You wanna climb up and help hook up the ‘bob?”

Michael passed an assault rifle through the window and opened the sunroof. After giving the rifle a quick check, Geoff rose up through the sunroof and immediately began laying down fire. The SASPA guards, for their part, had been too distracted by the sight of the massive double-rotored tan military helicopter swooping in to be ready for the attack. Two of their numbers fell to hot lead and the rest scattered to get to cover. Geoff wouldn’t have much time after that, but it would be enough.

The cargobob lowered itself closer to them until Geoff was able to reach up and grab the tow hook on the bottom. He had just enough time to hook it to an attachment they made to the roof of the limo for that express purpose before the guards began to return fire.

“We’re hooked, Jack,” Michael said into a walkie-talkie as Geoff sat back down into his seat. “Take us out!”

The limo shifted as the helicopter above it rose up. Geoff felt the tingling sensation in his stomach as the limo left the ground. Before he knew it, the guards and then Bolingbroke itself began getting smaller and smaller below them. Geoff leaned back and allowed himself to relax as the limo flew through the air. The only problem with his current situation quickly made itself known.

“Hey, there’s no minibar in this goddamned thing!”

The rest of Twilight’s day had gone fairly well, all things considered. The rest of her classes had way more of her friends in them, and she hardly got any trouble from any of the other students. Even Dusky was in another of her classes (Sociology) and she got to chat with him some more. Eventually the last bell of the day rang and soon the halls were filled with students rushing to their lockers so they could go home or go out.

“Hey, Twilight,” Rainbow said as they all walked out of the classroom. “The Rainbooms and I are gonna have a practice in the music room. Wanna come?”

Twilight smiled nervously and brushed a strand of dark blue and violet hair aside. “I don’t know… I-I don’t really know how to play any instruments.”

“You don’t have to play anything just to hang out, Twilight,” Sunset said reassuringly. “I didn’t start actually playing with them myself until after the Battle of the Bands.”

Twilight’s every instinct pulled her towards her old habits. She was certainly more comfortable with the idea of just going home and getting started on her homework, but then she remembered that was what Crystal Prep Twilight would have done. Canterlot High Twilight was a whole new person.

“Well, I’ve never heard you guys play before…” she said, which resulted in a big whoop from Rainbow Dash.

“I hope you’re ready to get your face melted off, because our songs are awesome!” the prismatic girl exclaimed.

“I don’t doubt it, let me just go to my locker real quick to put my books away,” Twilight said with a smile as she started making her own way down the hall. “Meet you girls there!”

With that, Twilight rounded a corner and in short order made her way to her locker. Most of the other students had already cleared out of this hallway, but there were still two or three milling about. Twilight paid them no mind as she set her bag down and started putting in the combination to her little silver lock. It was as she pulled her door open that she heard the muttering voices down the hall.

“That her?” a male voice asked.

“That’s her,” a female voice responded, and Twilight’s hair stood on end as she felt eyes boring into the back of her head.

A few moments later a girl leaned against the locker beside hers and cleared her throat in a clear effort for Twilight’s attention. Twilight looked up to see the same girl in the blue sweater who had glared at her that morning.

“Hey… Sparkle, right?” the girl asked casually.

“That’s me,” Twilight answered, figuring it would be rude not to. “And, you are…?”

“Trixie. Well, the Great and Powerful Trixie to most,” the girl said with a faux-affable smile. “So, that calculus homework for Harshwhinny’s class: Pretty absurd, right? I mean, can you believe she wants us to do four pages of questions by Wednesday?”

Twilight thought that was a lot of work even by public school standards, but based on what she’d observed about the teacher, it wasn’t anything unusual from her.

“Nothing I can’t handle,” Twilight said, not realizing how much she would come to regret that.

Trixie’s grin was predatory. “That’s just what I was hoping to hear!” she said as a boy about a head taller than her joined them. Trixie put an arm around him and said, “Maybe you could do my homework for me? My parents aren’t home, and me and Curly here have far better things to do than calculus….”

The boy ‘Curly’ gave her a stone cold glare and put a hand on Trixie’s waist, letting it venture a bit further south than Twilight herself would have been comfortable with.

“I… don’t think I can do that,” Twilight answered.

“Oh, she doesn’t think she can do that,” a voice behind her said with mock-pity. Two more girls were standing behind her, one with blonde hair and the other grape-colored. “That’s funny, I could’ve sworn she just said it was ‘nothing she couldn’t handle,’ right Fuschia?”

“That’s what I heard, Lavender,” the grape-haired girl—Fuschia—said. “After all, the work we get is probably nothing compared to what she got at Crystal.”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself, Fuschia,” Trixie said, before scowling and jabbing Twilight’s shoulder with a finger. “So don’t give me any of that ‘Oh, I don’t think I can do that’ horseshit!”

Trixie’s friends chuckled at her mocking impression of Twilight, who stammered and looked back and forth anxiously between them before finally stuttering forth, “I-I-I mean that I don’t think that I-I’m… comfortable with doing that.”

“Why not? It should be easy for you!”

“It’s dishonest! I can’t in good conscience….”

Good conscience?!” the boy ‘Curly’ spoke up for the first time in the conversation. “You callin’ my girl dishonest?”

“That’s rich, coming from someone with your track record,” Trixie stated coldly.

Twilight did her best to look annoyed, but she couldn’t help but feel anxious as she noticed the way the four of them had boxed her in. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Curly smacked her shoulder. “Look at her, thinks she’s so much better than us!” the boy’s glare then turned deadly, and Twilight couldn’t help but recoil; she had never seen so much hate in somebody’s eyes before. “It’s almost like this bitch doesn’t remember nearly dropping me through a fuckin’ wormhole!

Instantly Twilight’s mind brought her back to that awful night, and she vaguely remembered a boy with dark blue hair wearing a football jersey slipping into one of the ever expanding portals to the other dimension: The terrified brown eyes that had looked at her then were the same ones glaring hatefully at her now.

“I always knew the administration here was incompetent, but this?” Trixie gestured to Twilight in her entirety. “I mean, it was bad enough that bitch Sunset Shimmer got off as easily as she did, but then they had to go and let a monster into the school!”

Twilight’s throat clenched up and she realized her hands were shaking. “I-I’m sorry, I…”

“Oh, you’re sorry!” Curly said, throwing a meaty pair of arms into the air. “Well that automatically solves everything!” He turned to Trixie and the two girls behind Twilight, all of whom were snickering. “Hear that? She says she’s sorry!”

“Yes, I really am!” Twilight pleaded, feeling the beginning of tears sting her eyes. “Please, just… tell me what I can do. How do I make it right?”

“I already told you,” Trixie said with a sneer. “Do my calculus homework… as a start!”

Twilight’s head was spinning as memories of that night flooded back into her as easily as they did that morning. She could hear their screams of horror in the back of her mind; see the world collapsing around her; feel the hunger threatening to consume her.

“Oh, that’s right. You’re not comfortable with that, are you?”

But all Twilight heard were the voices. The students screaming, her friends crying out to her, and the hunger… the hunger had a voice of its own. “Stop it… Please stop…” she whimpered, covering her ears.

“Or what?” a meaty hand roughly shoved her. “You gonna turn into a demon again? Huh?!” Another shove. “Gonna unleash some magic?!” Twilight was sent back into a locker, knocking the wind out of her. The other girls just laughed.

Twilight’s breaths came more and more quickly, and she was overcome by a desire to run. So she ran. Twilight pushed past the two girls behind her, barely holding back tears as they shouted after her, “Go back to Crystal Prep, freak!

She turned a corner and ran until she came across the girls’ bathroom. She pushed the door open and went inside, briskly passing two girls putting on makeup in front of the mirrors. She pushed open one of the stalls and entered, locking it behind her as quickly as possible so she could sit on the toilet seat and sob into her knees.

Shining Armor was already feeling down in spirits when he and Melati Jasmine had entered the police station, but the image on the television all of the other officers were crowded around unleashed something vastly more unpleasant in him.

The day had been a slog leading up to that moment. The owner of the missing dog (a golden retriever named Sandy) had very little in the way of information. Her dog had disappeared from her backyard while she was in the shower the other morning. According to her, Sandy had run away once before, but had turned up before the day was over, having only wondered up to the elementary school a few blocks away and back. When evening came and she still hadn’t come back, her owner had decided something was wrong. After sweeping the area and finding nothing, the rest of the day had been spent patrolling downtown Canterlot, passing by his old stomping grounds around Crystal Prep, where they’d pulled over a man texting and driving. Hardly the life-saving work Shining signed on to do.

When they finally returned to the precinct, none of their fellow officers were at their respective desks. They were all crowded around the TV in the break room.

“What’s going on?” Shining asked as he and Melati entered.

Sergeant Nightstick, a man who at times Shining thought was too nice to be a police officer, turned to them and gestured to the TV. “Los Santos News. Somebody attacked Bolingbroke!”

Somebody? Who?” Melati asked.

Nightstick only jerked his head to the TV screen and Shining moved around with Melati right behind him to get a better look.

Live footage from what could only have been a news chopper played showing a sight most unusual: a desert tan military helicopter with two sets of rotors flew through the air with a black limousine suspended beneath it, swaying to and fro. A pair of police helicopters were in hot pursuit, but the military bird was much faster. One of the other officers cranked up the volume.

We can only speculate at this time as to the identity of the attackers,” the newscaster said. “But considering the use of both heavy military grade hardware, and the fact that notorious criminal Peaceful Ramsey appears to be the target of this operation, it seems safe to assume that this is the work of the Fake AH Crew….”

“The Fake AH Crew? I thought they were finished?” one of the officers said.

“Yeah, didn’t the LSPD raid their main warehouse last month?” another asked. “Seized all of their military hardware and everything!”

“Well, clearly they didn’t get all of it.”

Shining’s hands closed into fists. There was no way those bastards could be back. Fortunately, it didn’t seem like it would last: the engines of the cargobob were smoking heavily, having clearly taken damage from the police chopper fire. The news chopper following the scene momentarily lost visual on the cargobob as it dipped sharply towards the ground, and it was only a few minutes more before the tan helicopter crashed into the treeline partway up Mount Chiliad.

The whole room watched with bated breath as the police helicopters hovered over the wreckage, shining spotlights to illuminate it in the quickly darkening sky. There was no movement in the chopper, and Shining could only hope that meant those murdering bastards were injured or worse. Soon, LSPD officers on the ground arrived on the scene and began to surround the downed helicopter, but there was still no movement within. That was when one of the officers in the room noticed something.

“Hey, where’s the limo it was carrying?”

The tiny officers on the ground below started a search of the cargobob, but Shining already knew what had happened.

“They must have dropped it when the helicopter went out of frame,” Melati Jasmine said, echoing his own thoughts. “They’re long gone!”

Dammit…” Shining swore silently, but not silently enough to escape notice of the others in the room.

Before anyone could ask about it though, a harsh female voice rose over the sound of the TV. “I can understand the desire to keep up with current events, but there’s still a few more hours in the work day,” Police Chief Hardline stated. She was tall by a woman’s standards, and carried herself with uncompromising professionalism. “All of you back to your desks, now!

The room scattered like cockroaches in the light, with mutters of “right away,” or “sorry, Chief.”

Melati put a hand on Shining’s shoulder. “Gonna be okay, man?”

“Yeah, just need to do something to take my mind off it,” Shining said. He was about to head out to his desk in the bullpen with the rest of them when he noticed Nightstick giving him an uncertain look.

“You sure?” he asked. “I hate the Fake AH Crew as much as the next cop, but you took that news kinda personally.”

Shining exchanged a knowing look with his partner. “Do you wanna tell him?” Melati asked.

Shining sighed, realizing that Nightstick would likely only be the first of many to ask about this. Regardless, he shook his head. “Maybe another time, if you get enough drinks in me.” He turned to the sergeant. “All you have to know is, my family has a sort of, uh… history with the Fake AH Crew.”

Shining’s thoughts naturally went to the photo of himself, his parents, and his namesake. The image was joined briefly by one of a man in a skull mask, but Shining pushed it away before it could take shape.

“If I go the rest of my life without ever meeting the Fake AH Crew, that would be fine by me.”

It was dark out by the time the yacht first appeared on the horizon. There was a peaceful silence out on the water, with nothing but the engine of the speedboat and the sound of its wake as Geoff and the three with him all basked in the afterglow of another successful operation. Michael the Rage sat to Geoff’s left. He still wore his gray suit for the job, but lost his ridiculous top hat. To Geoff’s right sat Jacqueline, or “Jack” for short. The brunette was pretty, if somewhat on the chubby side, and wore her favorite Hawaiian shirt over khaki shorts.

The limousine Geoff and Michael had been in was released by Jack in the cargobob and had dropped a short distance into the trees below as the helicopter made its sharp descent. Jack herself had jumped out of the helicopter and parachuted to safety sometime later. The LSPD would have found Geoff and Michael quickly if not for the next phase of the plan: Jack had dropped them off by the trainyard at the edge of the Chiliad Mountain Range, and the Fake AH Crew had timed it so that they could sneak aboard a cargo train as it made its scheduled departure.

They rode the train until it entered a tunnel and then passed over Cassidy Creek along the Calafia Train Bridge. That was when Geoff realized what the parachutes they had pulled out of the trunk of the limo were for. Ryan and Jack had been waiting for them with the speedboat in Cassidy Creek below, and before long the four of them had made their way down the river and out into the Pacific Ocean.

Now, Ryan the Vagabond remained eerily stoic as always behind the wheel of the speedboat, wearing the black and blue leather jacket he always wore. His two-toned black and blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail, his face hidden behind his trademark skull mask even now after the job was done. Something about the hitman was unsettling even to someone like Geoff the Boss—he remembered the last time he and Ryan were in a speedboat like this together.

Not soon enough, the speedboat pulled up to the stern of the huge ship, where two men and a woman were waiting. The S.S. Boner was Geoff’s eight million dollar yacht: two-hundred and ten feet long with three upper decks, one of which was an expansive sun deck complete with a hot tub. Two helipads sat on either end of the vessel, and the lower decks had a few guest suites along with—much more importantly—a small arsenal of carbines, heavy sniper and assault rifles, and homing missiles.

The Boner was one of Geoff’s few remaining assets not seized by the LCPD for the simple reason that Michael and the others had stolen the keys from his apartment while he was sleeping and moved the yacht as a practical joke. Geoff could honestly say when he was arrested that he had no idea where the thing was. Now though, Geoff’s mustache curved upwards with a grin: He was home again.

As Geoff and the other three hopped out of the speedboat onto the Boner’s stern dock, the three awaiting their arrival greeted them.

“Babe!” the woman with dark red hair tipped with purple exclaimed, arms open wide. Michael met her and the two embraced, sharing a tender kiss.

“‘Sup, Lindsay,” he greeted casually.

As Geoff understood, Michael’s wife had been running the Fake AH Crew in his absence, and though their empire had suffered significant losses during that time, Geoff knew that he couldn’t entirely blame her. Lindsay was an extremely successful business manager in her own right and owned several of the corporations that acted as fronts for their organization. The problem was his arrest allowed their enemies to smell the proverbial blood in the water, and the feeding frenzy that followed all but crippled the empire.

“Geoff, I missed you, Geoff!” Gavin exclaimed redundantly. The young Englishman wore his sleek blue dress shirt that matched his well groomed light blue hair. Even though night had fallen, he still wore his large reflective aviators. According to Michael, Gavin had been flying the fake news helicopter that he and Ryan had used to survey the prison, and had dropped Ryan off at the speedboat he’d then used to pick them up under the Calafia Bridge.

“I missed you too Michael- I mean, Gavin,” Geoff stuttered.

“Yeah? Well, didn’t miss me enough to remember my name apparently,” Gavin muttered, looking down sadly.

“So, making the Puerto Rican do all the work again, huh?” Ray asked as he struggled to tie off the speedboat all by his lonesome. After dropping Ryan off, Gavin had then went around to pick up Ray, who had managed to lose the numerous LSPD forces pursuing him by taking his Rhino tank up the side of Mount Chiliad where their cruisers couldn’t chase him, then had allowed it to roll back down towards them after jumping out. “Fucking typical.”

Ryan wordlessly moved to assist Ray with the speedboat, and the two of them worked in tense silence for a few moments. “What’s got your panties in a twist today, Ryan?” Ray asked after a moment.

The masked man was silent for a few moments before answering. “You got to have all the fun today.”

“Well, the next time we need someone to go on a rampage in a tank, I’ll be sure to throw in your name for your consideration.”

“Thanks, man.”

Geoff turned to Lindsay as she and Michael parted. “I want to have words with you in a bit about the future of the organization.”

Lindsay replied, “I can give you words right now: Not fucking great. We have less than half of what we did when you first got arrested. We lost the last of our Rhinos in this job and only have one cargobob left at one of our few remaining warehouses.”

The five of them made their way up to the main sun deck, and Ray and Ryan shortly followed when they were finished tying off the speedboat. Lindsay was quick to disappear into the depths of the ship, likely to give their heading to the captain.

“Now, I don’t know about all of you, but I could sure use a drink,” Geoff said. He also wanted to change out of this orange jumpsuit as soon as possible. “Especially since there wasn’t a minibar in the limo or the boat!”

“Wot?” was Gavin's response. "Well, bloody hell, Geoff. Shit's expensive."

Geoff ignored him and turned to Michael. “Now, the first order of business for when we get to the fallback point is getting back our lost assets. Have you found the missing data yet?”

The take from their Humane Labs raid four months ago was the key to a major payout from a rival company, but until they could reacquire it, it would do them no good.

Michael folded his arms and shook his head. “Not a damn trace of them, Geoff. No one’s heard from Kerry in a long time. It’s possible the Popo got him, or maybe that new gang moving in on our turf.”

“Well, keep looking,” Geoff ordered as the group headed inside the yacht.

“I’ve got Matt and Li’l J on the hunt. It’ll take time, but we’ll find him.” A dark look crossed Michael’s face. “Or... find out who got him.”

“Good man,” Geoff said, giving him a pat on the back.

The group entered a moderately large ballroom complete with a bar, and the barkeep wasted no time in serving up drinks, which Geoff happily took. The six of them then gathered around a table where a map of the state of San Andreas lay open. The large island containing Los Santos County and Blaine County took up a portion of the left side of the map, while the right consisted of the coastline and inland parts of the state where San Fierro and Red County were located.

“While we’re laying low, we’re gonna need to build up our arsenal again,” Geoff said between drinks of straight whiskey. “We’ll need to be at full strength if we’re going to take back everything we had from that ‘Funhaus Gang.’”

“I organized a meeting tonight with our usual suppliers,” Jack said cooly. “We're meeting them at a cafe in the town we'll be laying low in.”

Geoff looked down at the map and allowed a grin to creep across his face beneath his mustache. “Perfect!”

At that moment, all six of them looked down at the map and the town that had been circled with red ink. Canterlot, SA looked back at each of them, almost seeming to welcome them from its place in San Fierro County.

“Just think about it,” Ryan said. “That whole town is going about their lives right now, completely unaware of the role it will play in our glorious return to power!”

Geoff could only nod as he kept his gaze on the map laid out before him, and the name “Canterlot” circled with red ink. Indeed, the Fake AH Crew was going to put the little town on the map in a big way by the time they were finished.

Author's Note:

And so a new adventure begins. This story won't be nearly as long as my last sprawling epic. I'm estimating somewhere in the ballpark of ten chapters, if that.

Also, I haven't done much in the way of writing ahead, so updates will be a little more infrequent than they were for stories in the past. Nevertheless, I'm going to try to get out one per month.

Thanks to BradtheBrony for his continued service as an awesome editor!