• Published 27th Sep 2016
  • 2,649 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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6 - Li'l J's Heist

A light drizzle of rain began to fall from the clouds overhead as Rainbow Dash walked down the path from the nice tudor house back to the sidewalk, where her friends waited. Based on her slouched posture (which made the oversized brown leather jacket hang limply around her), the others were able to guess what she was going to say before she said it.

“Twi’s not here,” Rainbow reported. “Doesn’t even look like her parents are home.”

The other four exchanged nervous looks. They’d already been to Sunset’s apartment, and had found it similarly empty.

Rarity caught herself chewing a fingernail, and partly in an effort to stop the habit, asked, “So, what do we do now?”

With a diplomatic look, Applejack said, “Girls, it’s almost five o’clock. I don’t know about y’all, but my family’s gonna be mighty upset if I’m not home for supper.”

“Are you suggesting we just… give up?” Fluttershy asked, aghast.

“I don’t like it any more than you, sugarcube. But there ain’t much more that we can do right now.”

“Bullshit! We’ll just start looking around until we find them!” Rainbow exclaimed, turning to walk down the street.

Rarity stopped her with a hand to her shoulder. She hoped Rainbow didn’t notice her chewed up nails. “Canterlot’s a big town, darling. There’s no way the five of us could cover enough ground to find them!”

“Unless you have super speed!” Pinkie exclaimed with a bounce.

“W-well we can’t just do nothing!” Rainbow said. She was all but shouting now, and Rarity realized the girl was not really angry, but scared.

“Sunset and Twi are strong, smart girls. They can handle themselves,” Applejack said, resting a comforting hand on Rainbow’s other shoulder. “Who knows? Maybe they’ll show up on their own?”

Rarity thought she heard a sound in the distance; a quiet hum that seemed to be growing louder by the moment.

Rainbow continued, “Please, AJ. I doubt Twilight is just going to swoop in from the sky!”

It was then that all five of the girls noticed the strange sound growing ever more all-encompassing. It took a few moments more before they realized they were hearing a helicopter’s rotors. A sudden gust of wind picked up as the sound grew louder still, and Rarity noticed Applejack clutch her Stetson tightly to keep it from flying away. Some instinct deep inside her told Rarity that she should have followed the hat’s lead. However, much like the hat, Rarity too was held in place, but not by anything as permeable as Applejack’s hand.

No, Rarity—and by extension the other four girls—were all held in place by the sheer force of awe at the sight of the rather luxurious looking helicopter flying just several feet over their heads before touching down in the middle of the otherwise quiet residential street. Only Pinkie had the presence of mind to make any sort of noise: An impressed sounding whistle.

Then the helicopter’s door opened, and the girls’ collective shock doubled. The first person to hop out of the aircraft was none other than a familiar girl with lavender-streaked dark blue hair.

“Oh, hey Twilight!” The sound of Pinkie’s voice easily rose above the sound of the rotors, shaking the rest of the girls out of their stupor, and they watched as Twilight was assaulted by a poofy pink blur. “Where the heck have you been?! We looked everywhere for you!”

“…I was on a boat,” Twilight said stiffly, shifting awkwardly in Pinkie’s grasp.

The rest of the girls approached once they were moderately sure it was safe. Twilight managed to pry herself free of Pinkie’s grasp only to find herself in the middle of an affectionate double-hug between Rarity and Fluttershy.

“I’m really glad you’re okay, Twilight,” Fluttershy said.

“Yes, some of us were exceptionally worried,” Rarity said, shooting a knowing look Rainbow’s way.

What?! No I wasn’t!” Rainbow protested, folding her arms. She then realized how that sounded, and amended, “Well… maybe a little.”

Something happened on Twilight’s face in that moment that Rarity couldn’t quite figure out. A brief war of emotions, the winner of which produced a look that seemed… touched.

“You guys… really care about me, huh?” Twilight stated.

“Of course we care about you, egghead!” Rainbow said, giving Twilight a friendly punch in the arm. “You’re our friend, you dingus!”

Rarity laughed. “Couldn’t have said it better myself, Rainbow darling.”

Just as Twilight’s smile grew wider, she received a hearty slap on the back, which caused her to sputter and cough.

“So Twi, I’ve gotta ask: Jus’ what the heck are ya doin’ flyin’ around town in a helicopter?” Applejack asked, giving Twilight a few more—thankfully softer—pats on the back.

The sound of a sharply honking horn cut off Twilight’s answer, and the girls turned to see a few cars lined up along the street, clearly waiting for the helicopter to move. Then they saw a demonic face appear in the helicopter’s window—demonic due to the black, white, and red warpaint that covered it. After some fiddling, the helicopter’s window opened and a leather-jacketed arm extended towards the honking cars, its middle finger raised proudly.

The girls looked back at Twilight for an explanation, who rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. “I, uh… I think I’m in a gang now.”

Despite the rotors and honking horns, there was a permeable silence that followed. Before any of the other girls could say anything, they noticed someone else climbing out of the helicopter. Rarity thought for a moment that it was Sunset, but then she saw it was a boy. A very familiar boy with a pudgy frame and orange hair.

You….” Evidently, Applejack recognized him too, if her sudden death glare was anything to go by.

“M-me?” Dusky asked, followed by a yelp as Rainbow lunged forward and grabbed him by the collar.

“You’re the spy!” Rainbow exclaimed, shaking him. “You leave our friend alone, got it?!”

“Rainbow, stop!” Twilight exclaimed, trying her hardest to pull the much more muscular girl off him. “He’s not a spy!”

“Then why’d he have that hard drive with all that stuff about you—mmf!”

Twilight hastily put a hand over Rainbow’s mouth, glancing nervously at the man in the chopper’s cockpit. The painted man was giving the group a cold glare, and when he noticed Twilight looking at him, he motioned with his head toward the slowly building traffic jam behind them. That was when Twilight got the hint.

“Why don’t we all head into my place? I’ll explain everything there!”

With a nod of agreement, the group of girls followed Twilight off the street and up the path towards her house. Rainbow tried to keep a hand on the back of Dusky’s shirt like some kind of prison guard, but a glare from Twilight put an end to that. They heard the sound of the helicopter taking off as they approached the front door, and when the group was inside, Twilight finally noticed someone was missing.

“Hey, where’s Sunset?”

Sunset Shimmer awoke in her bed from a most peculiar dream. She dreamt she’d gone to the doctor’s office for a routine check-up—something she did on occasion with money saved up from her part-time job at the sushi stand. Evidently the doctor had discovered something in her, because the next thing she knew she was in an operating room with blinding bright lights. A whole team of doctors wearing surgical masks stood over her, poking and prodding her with needles and other instruments.

Sunset had tried to speak—tried to ask what was going on—but it was like her mouth was full of cotton. It was as if that dream phenomenon where you wanted to run from something but moved like you were in waist-high water had transferred to her mouth.

What a weird dream, Sunset thought as her rapidly beating heart began to slow. Must have eaten something funny for dinner. But it occurred to Sunset suddenly that she didn’t even remember what she’d had for dinner last night. In fact, now that she was thinking about it, Sunset wasn’t even sure she had eaten dinner the previous day. Sunset turned over in her bed and tried to push the troubling thoughts from her mind, but something about it felt wrong, and another much more troubling thought entered her mind like an undesirable person might enter a high-class establishment.

This isn’t my bed.

Sunset’s eyes shot open and she sat up in bed, squinting to see in the pitch-dark room. It didn’t remain that way, as a series of fluorescent lights suddenly activated, as if reacting to her sudden movement. She was sitting on a bed in what appeared to be a small one-room apartment, but one thing was immediately apparent: It wasn’t hers.

The floor, walls, and ceiling were a spotless, pristine white. To her left was an open kitchen area as well as a door that led to a small bathroom, and to her right an unassuming steel door. In the center of the room it had a simple couch facing a television, with a small coffee table that looked like it was bought at Ikea between them. Apart from that, the room was empty; devoid of any of the usual clutter that would indicate a space that was lived-in. Sunset had to admit her own apartment was getting pretty cluttered and had been meaning to clean it up the first chance she got, but there was something just unsettling about the utter lack of stuff in this place. It was more than just clean: It was sterile.

The most unsettling detail of all only occurred to Sunset a few moments later: There were absolutely no windows. For some reason, Sunset thought of a novel she’d read for Literature class the previous year. A pretty old book from what Sunset knew, it had depicted a vision of a future dystopian society ruled by the oppressive State and its figurehead, the faceless Big Brother. Sunset felt very much like the protagonist of that book in that moment.

Suddenly finding it difficult to breathe, Sunset raced for the steel door to her right, figuring it had to be the way out. She turned the knob, but the door refused to budge. She searched for a lock to turn, but apart from the knob, the door’s surface was bare.

Hello?!” Sunset called out desperately. “Is anyone there?!” Sunset called out a few more times, banging on the door for good measure, but the results were the same.

She turned around and leaned her back against the door. Her heart was racing now, and she needed to take bigger and bigger breaths. C’mon, Sunset, she thought to herself as fought back terrified tears. Keep it together! Let’s really take a look around and analyze the situation.

Collecting herself, Sunset took a step away from the door. The first thing she noticed was the clock on the wall, its hands pointing at just a few minutes past eight. There was a set of clothes folded neatly on the coffee table in the center of the room: Socks, underwear, blue jeans, and an orange shirt with a yellow and red sun on the front. Sunset looked down at herself and saw she was wearing a faded blue hospital gown. She suppressed a shudder at the thought that someone had changed her while she slept; it would seem human conventions of modesty were really sticking.

Her first instinct was to change into her own clothes right then and there, but Sunset’s thoughts returned to that book. Big Brother is watching. Another look around confirmed her suspicions: A small opaque glass dome hung upside down from the ceiling in a corner of the room, the dark glass clearly concealing a camera. Gathering up her clothes, Sunset entered the bathroom and after she was sure there weren’t any cameras in there too, got changed quickly and quietly.

Sunset froze when she stepped out of the bathroom. A woman was standing in the middle of the apartment. She looked middle-aged (late forties to early fifties if Sunset had to guess) and wore a gray business suit and skirt. Her faded blue hair with green highlights was done up neatly, and a pair of glasses adorned her face. She was holding a tray with some food on it, and smiled kindly when she saw Sunset.

“Ah, good evening Miss Shimmer. I hope you don’t mind that I let myself in,” she said, her matronly smile growing a little as she held the tray a little higher. “I brought you some dinner. I thought we might eat together and talk.”

Dinner? Sunset glanced up at the clock, now fifteen minutes past eight. She’d assumed it was eight in the morning.

“Uh… who are you?” Sunset asked.

At that, the older woman gave a good-natured roll of her eyes. “Right, I’m sorry. Guess even simple things slip your mind when you get to be my age.” The woman walked over to the kitchen counter to set down the tray. Sunset eyed the meal of dressed chicken, beans, mashed potatoes and rice and realized she was quite hungry.

“Director Omnis Cognize. I’m the one in charge of this facility.”

“Facility? What facility?”

Cognize held up a gentle hand. “I know you must have many questions, and I will try to explain everything as best I can. Please, just relax and eat. Poor girl, you must be starving.”

Sunset couldn’t deny she was quite hungry, and after only a moment’s hesitation, took a seat at the counter and began to take tentative bites of the meal she’d been provided. Dr. Cognize took the stool next to her.

“Now, to answer your question, this is a research facility commissioned by the United States government. The purpose of our research here is to ensure the continued safety and security of the country. Do you understand?”

Sunset swallowed a bite of chicken—she still wasn’t so sure about eating meat, but she found the concept a lot less unthinkable now than when she first arrived through the portal. “I think so. But… what am I doing here?”

“Well, our latest project has been to learn as much as we can about your world,” Cognize said, her serene smile never faltering even as Sunset nearly choked on her next bite of chicken. “Yes, we know all about where you come from, Miss Shimmer. Rest assured, your secret is safe with us.”

“You still didn’t answer my question,” Sunset stated, trying to collect herself.

“It’s quite simple, really. We were hoping you would help us understand the nature of this… alien energy of yours that seems to be leaking into our world.” Cognize’s motherly smile grew to resemble Twilight’s when she was excited. “We took the liberty of performing some… preliminary tests, and the results have been very promising. But with your cooperation, I think we can make some very important discoveries!”

Sunset’s thoughts suddenly went to the dream she’d awoken from—the doctors wearing surgical masks poking and prodding her. Was that really just a dream?

When Sunset didn’t answer, Cognize continued, her smile never leaving. “We would compensate you for your time, of course. Think of this as an academic collaboration. You could have a promising future when this is over!”

“Okay. I’ll think about it…” Sunset finally said as she took a bite of her mashed potatoes.

“That’s the spirit, Ms. Shimmer!” Dr. Cognize stood. “I’ll give you some time to finish your meal and think about it some more.”

Sunset nodded, and was almost ready to leave it at that when the question that had been nagging at the back of her mind finally surfaced. “Do I get to go home?”

Dr. Cognize froze, and for a moment Sunset thought she saw a flicker of… something across the older woman’s face. The sweet smile she’d worn throughout the conversation was still there, but something about it seemed… hollow, now.

“We thought it would be in your best interest to stay with us,” Cognize hesitated. “As our guest, of course.”

“How long?”

Chewing her lip in thought, Cognize answered, “Not long at all. A couple of weeks. Maybe a month. But rest assured, we will provide you with anything you need during your stay….” Then with a far too sweet smile, Cognize added, “Within reason, of course!”

The older woman let out a happy little giggle, clearly meant to be jovial, but something about it made Sunset uneasy.

“But… I have school!” Sunset exclaimed.

“We are more than equipped to provide you with your education while you are here…”

“And what about my friends? Do they know I’m here? And what about…?

“THAT’S ENOUGH!” The sudden shrillness of Cognize’s voice froze Sunset in place. The woman than cleared her throat, and continued as if nothing happened. “My apologies. I know this is a lot to take in, but please… no more questions.” Her sickening sweet smile returned. “Okay?”

Taking a deep breath through her nose, Sunset stood and faced Dr. Cognize. “No, if you want my cooperation, you need to tell me everything.” Sunset looked around, taking in the windowless room, the security camera, and the steel door with electronic locks. Big Brother is watching.

“I’m your prisoner here, aren’t I?” Sunset asked, barely keeping the tremor out of her voice. “If you really want my help, you will tell me the truth.”

The smile finally dying on her face, Dr. Cognize let out a long sigh. “Such a pity. Here I was hoping we could work with each other. Oh well.”

With that, Dr. Cognize took the tray with Sunset’s partly eaten dinner still on it and began walking to the door. A sense of dread slowly building within her, Sunset went after her.

“Hey! I wasn’t finished with that!”

“Well, that’s too bad,” Cognize said without breaking her stride. “If you’re going to act like a child, then you’ll be treated like one. And when my children are naughty, I send them to bed without supper.”

The older woman reached the door, and Sunset heard the click of the magnetic locks on the door opening. Dr. Cognize reached for the door knob, but Sunset wasn’t ready to let her leave. So with a strength that surprised even her, Sunset grabbed the older woman, spun her around and slammed her against the wall. The tray full of food fell to the ground in a loud clatter. At the same time, the steel door swung open and a second later a pair of rough hands was pulling Sunset off of the director.

Sunset struggled and kicked, but the man holding her had an iron grip. “Argh let me go! You can’t do this! You can’t do this!!!””

The man got a hold of her arm and twisted it behind her back, pulling it tighter and tighter until Sunset’s indignant shouting became screams of pain. Cognize raised a hand, and suddenly the man let her go and took a step to the side. As Sunset felt her aching right arm, Dr. Cognize took a step towards her and smiled that sweet smile.

“‘I can’t do this?’ Miss Shimmer, you couldn’t be more wrong.” The older woman straightened out her suit jacket where Sunset had grabbed it as she continued. “We did a full background check on you, Miss Shimmer. You have no birth certificate. No social security number. According to the public school system’s database, you didn’t even exist until four years ago.”

Dr. Cognize adjusted her glasses and looked Sunset right in the eye. “You’re an illegal alien, Miss Shimmer. In the most literal sense of the phrase. I can do whatever I want to you while you’re here, and so long as I say it’s in the interest of national security, the U.S. government won’t do a damn thing about it!

“So the choice is yours. You can either cooperate and make things easy for all of us. Or you can make things difficult, in which case, so will we!” Dr. Cognize kept right on smiling, except now it seemed to be a vicious mockery of the sweet, motherly look she had on at the start. “Do you understand?”

Despite the pain in her arm and the fear in her heart, Sunset managed to give the director a defiant glare. “I understand, but I don’t think you do! Because I didn’t mean ‘you can’t do this’ because it’s illegal. I meant ‘you can’t do this’ because my friends are going to find out. And they’re not going to be happy.”

Oddly, it was the man who had grabbed her before that answered, and his gravelly rasp struck a familiar chord. “More teenage girls? I’m shaking.”

“Hmph. Well put, Captain Lock.”

Sunset turned to look at the man in gray camo pants and a military tank top with the scar running horizontally across his face. Sunset felt the back of her neck, where a band-aid covered the place she’d been shot, and all at once Sunset remembered the circumstances of her capture. The warehouse full of dogs, the men in military vests and fatigues. The vans that said “Merryweather” on them. And one more very important detail.

“What did you do with Spike?”

Sunset had caught Dr. Cognize and Captain Lock as they were leaving her room, and the former turned and gave her a smile like a parting shot.

“If you’re a good girl, maybe you’ll get to see him.”

Feeling miserable, Spike was carried through gray hallways inside a tiny dog crate by an overweight balding man. Spike had no idea what this place was, only that it was worse than every vet Twilight had ever taken him to. He was wearing a muzzle—something the doctors had implemented after Spike had bitten their fingers one time too many. The doctors had stuck him with needles, prodded him with devices, and deeply investigated his ears and mouth. Then they brought him before a machine that emitted crazy lights that gave him a funny feeling that reminded him of when he’d first learned to speak. Then they repeated the process again even asking him questions coldly and clinically. Unable to physically bite them, Spike resorted to biting insults instead. But despite his bravado, he was afraid.

It wasn’t just for himself Spike was worried. The worst part was Spike had no idea what happened to Sunset Shimmer. He knew she was alive when they were taken—even though those men had shot her with one of those “gonnes” humans had, Spike could still smell her breathing. But the little dog had no idea where she was, or if she was hurt. The thought caused a sad whine to escape him, and the human carrying his crate muttered an annoyed “shh.”

The man brought Spike into a large dimly lit room full of cages, each one holding a dog, or sometimes two. All of them started barking immediately when they saw him and the human carrying his crate. It didn’t take long for Spike to notice something was… off about these dogs. Plumes of green fire erupted from a golden retriever’s mouth with every bark, and a chihuahua tilted its head and said, “¿Dónde está la fábrica de hues?”

The man carrying Spike’s crate seemed undisturbed by any of this, only occasionally shouting for the various canines to shut up as he walked. Eventually they reached the enclosure that was to be Spike’s home for the duration of his stay at the mysterious facility, and Spike was roughly removed from the crate and placed inside. The man took another moment after locking Spike’s cage to kick an adjacent one and yell at the barking dogs inside, then stalked off when it was clear the action had no effect.

The barking of the rest of the dogs began to subside after the overweight man left, and a nervous Spike began to take in his surroundings. The enclosure he found himself in wasn’t very big, with nothing in it but a single bowl of water. The floor was cold and hard, and something smelled bad—Spike couldn’t imagine how he was going to sleep in here.

Yet somehow, someone found a way. In the corner opposite to the door, a small bundle of white and brown fur was curled up tightly, its chest rising and falling steadily. Spike thought he caught a bit of the familiar scent upon entering the room, but couldn’t believe his luck at the identity of his new roommate.


The little collie’s ears perked up and her tail started to wag at the sound of her name, and the dog raised her head and let out a sleepy yawn. Spike rushed forward, sniffing her up and down, but thankfully he couldn’t sense any injuries. “Good to see you’re okay, Winona.”

“Well shucks, sure is nice to see ya too, Spike!”

“Thanks.” It took a moment for Spike’s mind to process what it’d just heard. “Wait… Winona, did you just talk?!
Winona gave him an airy grin—Is that what it looks like when I do that? That is kinda weird—and said, “Oh yeah, I guess I did… neat!”

Winona then proceeded to scratch one of her ears with a hind leg while Spike just looked at her, dumbfounded. “But… how did this happen? You can’t normally talk… right?”

Winona stopped scratching and shook her entire body before answering, “I don’ rightly know! Them humans in the white coats put me in front of this big do-hickey with a lot of pretty lights, and all of a sudden I could, like… think! Didn’t take long before I could put my thoughts into words.” Winona stood tall and wagged her tail. “They gave me treats for it!”

I didn’t get any treats, Spike thought sourly. Though come to think of it, that was probably because he kept biting the lab workers.

“So, any idea on how we can get out of here?” Spike asked.

“Why?” Winona asked in turn.

Why? Y’know, because they abducted us and they’re experimenting on us?”

“They are?” Winona seemed to consider this for a while. “Naaaaaah… they’re giving us treats!”

“They’re giving you treats!” Spike let out a long sigh, predicting many more frustrating conversations like this one in the future. “C’mon Winona, think about it! These people stole you right from Applejack’s backyard!”

With a confused head tilt, Winona replied, “No. These two nice identical humans had milk bones, so I just climbed right into their van!”

Spike had to resist the urge to put a paw to his face, and wondered if Winona was the easiest capture the Flim Flam Brothers ever had.

“Don’t you want to see Applejack again?”

“’Course! But she’ll come and get me when it’s over, right?”

Spike shook his head. “Winona, Applejack doesn’t even know you’re here. We were stolen!

Winona’s eyes got big and glossy. “But… but that’s mean!

“These are mean people, Winona.”

“I always thought mean people were a myth. Like eating people food off the table.” A determined expression crossed the little collie’s face then, and Winona stood proud. “Very well. Then I, Winona—aka Li’l Stinky—will do everything I can to help us escape!”

Winona’s tail started to wag at that moment, and this time she caught a glimpse of it in her peripheral vision. Winona turned to look at it over her shoulder and let out a low growl. “You again….”

With a little yip, Winona whirled around and tried to catch her prey, but the thing was too fast for her.

“Dagnabbit! Get back here, ya varmint!” Winona exclaimed as she proceeded to spin in circles as she haplessly chased after her own tail.

Spike just sighed. Well, it’s a start I guess. Deciding it would be prudent to wait until Winona tired herself out before starting to plan their escape, Spike went to the corner, spun around three times, and lay down. As he rested his head on his paws, Spike found himself thinking of Twilight.

“OOOOOOH GET WRECKED SCRUB!” Rainbow Dash cheered, momentarily taking a hand off of her video game controller to pump a fist in the air. She immediately came to regret that decision. “Wait no! How did you survive that?!” A second later, the controller was thrown to the ground. “No that’s bullshit! That’s bullshit! REMATCH!”

Beside her on the couch, Applejack chuckled. “Humble in victory, graceful in defeat, huh Dash?”

“Bite me.”

Twilight just smiled and shook her head from her own chair, having been knocked out of this round of Super Smash Bros. well before the others. All things considered, the night ended up being pretty good. Twilight had been worried about how things would go at first when the rest of the girls had brought Dusky into her home and started interrogating him, but once he told them his story (with Twilight to corroborate), they very quickly warmed up to him.

Rainbow Dash got a little too eager when she started asking Dusky what it was like to be a part of a gang as notorious as the Fake AH Crew, and asked him all kinds of questions about its members like a girl asking about her favorite band. Rarity practically swooned over how romantic it was when Twilight described Dusky sticking up for her against Curly and his thugs, but Twilight had insisted the situation had been more terrifying than anything.

At long last, it had been Fluttershy who had said she was starting to get hungry, and before anyone could say anything else, Pinkie Pie had ordered three extra large pizzas and Twilight suddenly found herself hosting her very first after school party. Her friends had warmed up to Dusky pretty quickly: The fact that he was good enough at Smash to take Rainbow down a peg certainly helped.

Outside, the rain continued to pour, and every once in a while the rumble of thunder sounded. According to the news, there would probably be flooding on some roads around the Greater Canterlot Area.

It was as the next match in the virtual arena began that Twilight’s phone started to ring. For a brief moment all eyes were on her, the unspoken hope that it was Sunset stealing all breath from the room. Unfortunately, one look at the name on her screen confirmed this was not the case.

“It’s my brother,” Twilight said, and the rest of the room went back to watching the screen. Feeling like another slice of pizza, Twilight got up and went into the kitchen as she answered. “Hey Shiny!”

Shining Armor’s voice came in clearly. “Hey Twily, how’s it going?

“Pretty good, actually! I have some friends over.”

Twilight could hear the beat of genuine surprise on the other end before Shining said, “Really? That’s great! Look at you, you’re a regular socialite now!”

With a bashful giggle, Twilight asked, “So, what’s up, Shiny?”

“Just wanted to check in on you, what with Mom and Dad both being out tonight. I’m gonna be working late tonight again, and will probably just spend the night at Cadance’s.”

“Is it the Fake AH Crew?”

There was another beat, and Shining’s lighter tone took a more serious turn. “Sorry Twily, but you know I can’t talk about that.”

“Right, I know. It’s the rules. I was just… curious.”

“You still shaken up about, y’know… what happened at Blue Note’s?”

If she was being honest, Twilight had forgotten all about the Fake AH Crew’s heist at the Coloratura signing the other day. So much more had already happened. “No, it’s not that,” she said, immediately regretting it.

“Well, is there something else bothering you?” Shining asked earnestly. “Did something else happen?”

In a moment of weakness, Twilight considered telling her brother everything. That she spent the day with the Fake AH Crew, actually managed to befriend them, and that one of her closest friends was also a member before selling them out, and that it was only a matter of time before they found out about both that and the mysterious golden thumb drive with her deepest, darkest secrets on it.

“No, I’m good.”

There was a long silence on the other end of the phone, and for a moment Twilight was worried that Shining would continue pressing her—worried because she knew if he did, she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from telling him everything. And she couldn’t do that. Not after her talk with the Vagabond.

“Okay,” Shining finally said. Twilight wasn’t sure he believed her, though. Not entirely. “Just… don’t hesitate to talk to me if you need anything.”

“Okay. I will.”

“I’m serious. If anything happens, just give me a call. Anytime, anyplace.”

“Alright already, don’t you have work to do, you big sap?”

Shining let out a genuine laugh, and Twilight sighed with relief. “Yeah okay, you caught me. Just trying to get out of working for as long as possible. Seriously, do you have any idea how much paperwork getting stabbed involves?”

Now it was Twilight’s turn to laugh. “Okay, I’ll let you get back to your stab work. Seeya later, BBBFF.”
Shining said goodbye, and Twilight hung up the phone, finally turning to the counter to get a slice from one of the pizza boxes.

“Can you grab me one?” Dusky’s voice asked behind her.

Twilight passed the slice she’d just grabbed for herself to Dusky, and then grabbed another for herself.

“Thanks,” Dusky said before taking a bite. “Mmm! I don’t know why nobody likes pineapple on pizza, this stuff’s delicious!”

“I know, right? It’s the great mystery of our time,” Twilight said with a chuckle. The pair ate in silence for a moment while the sounds of raucous gaming trickled in from the other room. “You know, I’ve been meaning to ask…” Twilight said after swallowing her bite of pizza. “How did you end up with the Fake AH Crew in the first place?”

Dusky—or Kerry (I wonder which one he prefers, Twilight thought)—shrugged. “The same way the rest of them joined up, from what I understand. Geoff found me.”

“He found you?”

But Dusky had taken another bite of pizza, and only managed an “Mm” before swallowing. “My family and I grew up dirt poor in Los Santos. I used to rip off rich assholes to help us make ends meet. One day I stole from Geoff.” Dusky let out a little laugh. “Had no idea who he was at the time. Thought he was just another rich asshole. Then the next day two members of his crew showed up—the R&R connection. That’s Ryan and Ray. Thought I was a dead man. Instead, they offered me a job.”

“Geoff was that impressed by you?”

“No,” Dusky shook his head. “But I think he saw something in me. Potential maybe. Whatever the reason, I was in. Geoff took me on as a sort of apprentice. He even had Michael set my family up with a nice apartment.” A nostalgic smile crept across Dusky’s face, and for the first time since she’d met him, Twilight noticed he looked wise beyond his years. “I really owe Geoff a lot.”

Twilight nodded. It was a nice enough story, but there was just one little detail that didn’t add up. “If that’s true… why did you betray him?”

The nostalgic smile was gone in an instant, and Twilight felt a moment of guilt. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound….”

“I didn’t want to do it—it wasn’t my idea,” Dusky answered anyway. “I had to go along with it… he gave me no choice.”

“Dusky… did someone else in the Fake AH Crew put you up to it?” Twilight asked, and Dusky’s silence was telling. “Who?”

“What do you care anyway?!” Dusky snapped. “This doesn’t affect you!”

“Of course it does!” Twilight snapped back. “If you get killed over this, it’s gonna affect me a lot! I…” Twilight sighed, letting the petty anger out in a single breath. “I care about you, Dusky.”

The words seemed to take all of the indignant anger out of Dusky too. “Right. I’m sorry.” He then gave her a comforting smile. “But you have nothing to worry about. I’m in the clear. We both are!

“The Fake AH Crew still has no idea you have the thumb drive… and they have no idea I betrayed them.”

“HEIST!” A little man dressed in orange and purple exclaimed to his gathered fellows. It was seven in the morning, and each of them nursed a cup of coffee like a newborn babe as they sat around the conference room table. The gentle rock of the S.S Boner gave some of the men present the thought that they might still be dreaming. Later revelations would prompt the same thought.

Li’l J wasn’t wearing his trademark white cowboy hat, and the gathered members of the Fake AH Crew couldn’t help but notice that his previously sea-blue hair was now bright red. Indeed, the stocky little man seemed particularly impassioned today, and privately, Geoff the Boss suspected he knew why.

“Alright gentlemen, yesterday I sent my partner Matt to do some investigating, and he was able to confirm something we’d always suspected... we’ve been betrayed!” Jeremy held up a small file folder with “Li’l J’s Heist” written on it in black sharpie. “The identity of our turncoat is none other than….”

Jeremy reached into the folder and pulled out a stack of papers, firmly slapping them down on the table for all to see. The black and white image of what appeared to be a pudgy young teenage boy looked back up at them, smiling innocently.

“Kerry,” Li’l J finished succinctly. He made it a point to study the reactions of the gathered members of the crew carefully, searching for any tells.

Gavin gripped the gold embossed handgun on his hip and muttered, “That prick….”

Ray opened his mouth and made a few strangled noises, like he didn’t quite know what to say.

Michael only gave the picture a rage-filled glare.

Ryan reached forward and grabbed the picture to study it closer, his face as unreadable as the mask he usually wore.

Jack merely shook her head and let out a disappointed sigh.

Finally, Geoff looked straight ahead in Jeremy’s direction, but he was somewhere very far away. None of the others’ reactions were telling enough for Jeremy to suspect anything one way or the other, but that had been expected.

“Matt found this information in the records at Canterlot High School, which Kerry has been attending for the past few days… under the name Dusky Darneil.” Curiously, as Jeremy explained this, Ryan started to meticulously tear at the piece of paper with Kerry’s image on it, his face twisted in concentration.

“He’s doing something sick over there,” Michael noted quietly. Ignoring them, Geoff nodded for Jeremy to continue.

“Gentlemen, I’ve spent last night planning a new heist for us,” Jeremy said, folding his beefy arms. “This one isn’t about getting money, or gold. It’s about getting Kerry! Tomorrow, we bag him.”

“Have to say, I’m not sure how I feel about going after one of our own,” Jack said.

“Kerry isn’t one of our own,” Geoff said, his distant gaze now sober and focused. “He gave that up when he gave me up!”

“Right you are, Boss. So here’s what we’re gonna do….” Jeremy spent the next several minutes going over a plan for them to ambush and acquire Kerry, using a map of the area as a visual aid. The plan involved Geoff, Jack, and Jeremy staging a fake ambush, at which point Michael, Ray, and Ryan would appear as fake witness protection officers.

“You guys might need to disguise your voices until you get Kerry in the car,” Jeremy explained.

I can do that!” Michael replied in a ridiculous deep voice that sounded almost like a discount Sylvester Stallone.

“Uh, I have a question,” Ray said, raising his hand like he was in school. “If we know Kerry betrayed us, why don’t we just bip him as soon as we see him?”

Privately, Jeremy took note of Ray’s apparent eagerness to silence Kerry quickly before explaining, “Because we don’t know how much Kerry told the cops. We need to take him back to the yacht, find out what he knows… and then we’ll deal with him if necessary.”

A hush fell over the room. Despite Ray’s earlier suggestion, the thought of killing someone they had considered a friend seemed unthinkable. Then again, so was the thought of being betrayed by him.

“Ooh, by the time we’re finished with him, I’ll be able to create a new line of suits,” Ryan said, and the rest of the crew all looked at him. “I’ll call it… Kerry Couture!

Ryan’s painted face was once again covered by a mask, but this one was a far cry from his usual skull mask. The smiling face of Kerry now looked back at each of the members of the Fake AH Crew, cut out from its original picture and taped to Ryan’s forehead.

“I told you he was doing something sick,” Michael said, glancing down at the now headless picture of Kerry on the table.

“Do you have other fashion lines, Ryan?” Gavin asked, genuinely curious. Jeremy was surprised that was the thing Gavin thought was weird about this scene.

“Right, now that we have the plan, we’re only missing one more thing,” Jeremy continued. “We need codenames. Now….”
The door to the conference room opened slightly at that moment, and someone cautiously peeked in. Without even thinking about it, Jeremy turned and shouted, “GET OUTTA HERE, WE’RE HEISTING!”

Clearly Li’l J’s choler over Kerry’s betrayal was making him lose focus, as a closer look at the person peeking in revealed it was none other than Lindsay.

“Sorry guys, but I thought this was important,” she said, cautiously stepping in with an encouraging nod from Michael. The natural red-haired man shot a glare at Jeremy as Lindsay approached Geoff. “You left your phone by the bar. Looks like someone has been trying to reach you. There’s quite a few missed calls.”

Right away something didn’t add up. Geoff had gotten a simple burner phone ever since his escape from Bolingbroke. Nobody should have that number that wasn’t already in this room.

The phone started ringing as Lindsay placed it in his hand, and Geoff exchanged a perplexed look with the rest of the crew.

“Just let it go to voicemail so we can finish planning this heist,” Jack said.

Geoff pressed a button to do exactly that, but his curiosity over who could possibly be calling him on this phone was piqued. So, Geoff decided to put the phone on speaker as his personalized voicemail message started to play.

…. Uh… me-uh, eugh…. Is it… recording? New- hello? New voicem- This is Geoff!”

A bemused silence filled the room as a female monotone instructed the caller to leave a message at the tone.

“Somehow that’s actually more concise than your last voicemail,” Michael noted.

It was then that a familiar dark, accented voice was emitted from the phone. “Geoff, for your own sake I hope you’re getting these messages,” said the voice of Smoked Clupea. “Call me back as soon as you get this.”

Geoff didn’t waste any time scrambling to pick up the phone. “Hello? I’m here, Mr. Clupea!”

Ah, finally. Do you have the research data from Humane Labs?

“Whoa, slow down there, buddy. We still have a week to find it, remember?”

The situation has changed,” Clupea stated ominously. “I have just been informed that just last night Humane Labs has come into possession of a certain… asset. We need to accelerate the deadline.

“But that’s impossible!” Geoff exclaimed. “One week is cutting it close as is. There’s no way we’ll be able to find it in even less time!”

You are going to try,” Clupea simply said. “Because if you don’t, I’m going to find someone who can. Someone like, say… the Funhaus Gang?

“You wouldn’t… no one in their right mind would associate with them!”

I will do whatever it takes to put Glamorie Industries at the top of the weapons development industry. Even if it means scraping the bottom of the barrel.

“Two days, Geoff.

Just like that, the call was disconnected.

“Alright, well… everybody take five. We’ll reconvene in a bit to assign codenames,” Jeremy said, but suddenly the prospect of getting Kerry didn’t seem as important as it had before.

The other five Fakes left the room with Lindsay, and soon it was just Geoff and Jeremy in the conference room.

“We could always call the heist off to look for the thumb drive,” Jeremy said. “Kerry can wait.”

“No,” Geoff said firmly. “Kerry knows where it is. I know that kid too well to not be able to tell when he’s lying.”

“So we get Kerry, we get the drive.”

“The drive, and the identity of which of them betrayed me,” Geoff said, inclining his head to the door where the others had left. “Though, I think I found a flaw in your plan: Whichever one of them it is, they will warn Kerry we’re coming for him.”

“You’re right. That’s why we’re not going to be getting Kerry tomorrow like I said. We’re getting him in two hours. The setup has already been completed.”

Finally, a pleased smile appeared on Geoff’s face. “Good. Then there’s no one who can help that kid now….”

Twilight Sparkle yawned as she stood at the bus stop in the early morning air. The previous night’s festivities went on a little later than anyone had really planned, as such she hadn’t quite gotten a full night’s sleep. She wouldn’t have traded it for anything though. It felt good to have friends like hers.

She checked her watch and frowned. It looked like her bus was running late. But as luck would have it, she wouldn’t even need it. A plain, unassuming sedan pulled up to the curb beside her and rolled the window down. Inside, Twilight saw the familiar face behind the wheel.

“Oh, hey Dusky! I didn’t know you had your license,” she said with a smile. “Or a car for that matter!”

“Hop in, Twilight,” Dusky simply said. He didn’t say it unkindly, but there was a certain… tension in his voice that gave Twilight pause.

“Everything okay, Dusky?”

“I’ll explain later. Now c’mon. You don’t want to be late for school, right?”

Still uncertain, Twilight nevertheless decided to give her friend the benefit of the doubt and got into the passenger seat beside him, and they were off. After a couple of minutes of silence, Twilight thought to break the ice with some small-talk.

“Can’t believe Rainbow actually tried to buy us all booze last night.”

Dusky smiled a smile that was both happy and sadly nostalgic. “Yeah. Your friends are… they’re a real colorful bunch of characters. Wish I had more time to get to know them.”

Twilight was about to ask what he meant, but Dusky kept right on talking. “You heard anything from Sunset yet?”

“No,” Twilight sighed when she remembered her friend’s current MIA status. “If she doesn’t show up at school today, I was thinking we might have to file a missing person’s report with the police.”

“Well, she seems like a tough girl. I’m sure she’s doing fine.”

“You’re probably right.” Twilight gave him an appreciative smile. “Thanks.”

Dusky smiled back, like his mood was being led along by hers. The two of them drove along in comfortable silence for a bit, until Twilight noticed they were approaching the highway.

“Um, Dusky? The school’s the other way.”

“I know. There’s… something I have to do first.”

Twilight studied him with a curious frown. “Dusky please, what’s going on?”

“I told you, I’ll explain everything, just…” Dusky trailed off for a moment, a frown forming on his own face. “I just want to savor this moment a little longer. Please… tell me some more stories about your friends.”

Twilight was puzzled, but nonetheless honored his request. She told him about the pet playdate she and them had in the park the previous weekend. She talked about how she met each of them during the Friendship Games. She told story after story about herself and her friends, and Dusky listened quietly, taking in every word.

Finally, they exited the highway and arrived at a worn-out road off the beaten path. The road ended at what Twilight quickly realized was a private airfield, with a run down, moderately sized hangar off to one side and a single-engine plane waiting on the tarmac. Twilight followed Dusky as he got out of the car and moved around to the trunk, where a couple of suitcases waited. Twilight got a sinking feeling in her gut.

“I… I have to go,” Dusky said with a sense of finality that put a lump in Twilight’s throat.

“Go where?” Twilight asked.

“I-I can’t tell you,” Dusky said, letting out a long, resigned sigh. “I was wrong. We’re not in the clear. Or I’m not, anyway.”

Dusky pulled out his phone pulled something up on it, then turned it to show Twilight. A single text from an unknown sender was on display in front of her.

> They know. You need to leave town immediately. Plane is waiting at the evac point as previously discussed.

That painful lump in Twilight’s throat grew, and already she could feel the tears start to come, but she fought them off. It was a pyrrhic victory. “S-so, t-this is… goodbye?”

“Please don’t…” Dusky pleaded. “Please don’t make this harder than it already is.” With a confidence uncharacteristic of him, Dusky took her hands in his, and for a moment he seemed ten years older than he was. “Twilight, you were the first friend… the first real friend that I’ve ever had. As long as I live, I will never forget that.”

Without a second thought, Twilight threw her arms around him, and after the most minute of pauses, Dusky returned the embrace. The two of them stood there, holding each other for a few more moments before separating much too soon.

“Sorry for bringing you out all this way,” Dusky said, and gave her a sad smile. “Guess you’ll be late for school after all.”

“It’s not a big deal. Though… I don’t exactly have my license yet. How am I getting back?”

At that, Dusky gave a single self-deprecating laugh. “Man, I’m such an idiot. Didn’t even consider that. Didn’t even plan on taking you all the way out here—was just gonna drop you off at school and say goodbye then.” Dusky pulled out his phone again. “Here, I’ll call you an Uber.” He then gave her a silly little grin. “You’re an Uber.”

“Pfft. That was so funny I forgot to laugh.” But sure enough, Twilight did find herself laughing at the lame joke.
With the Uber driver on the way, Twilight and Dusky proceeded to say their final goodbyes, and Dusky turned and started walking across the tarmac to the waiting plane.

“Wait!” Twilight called out as she realized something. Dusky turned back around and Twilight ran out to him and spoke in a hushed voice. “Uh, what about the, y’know… your little gold tower?”

Also remembering the valuable thumb drive, Dusky asked, “Do you have it with you?”

Twilight thought for a second, and realized she had left it back at home. “No, sorry.”

“It’s okay, maybe this is for the best. After all, it’s your deep dark secrets on that thing. So keep it, destroy it, do whatever you want. As far as anyone else knows, it’s lost forever.”

With a cautious smile, Twilight nodded. “Okay.”

“Goodbye, Twilight.” Dusky turned around again, but Twilight had one last thing to say.

“And Dusky…” Dusky turned back around. “If this ever blows over… when you no longer have to hide, look me up. I’d love to reconnect.”

“It could be a very long time before it’ll be safe. We could be old farts living on alzheimer's’ meds and Werthers,” Dusky gave her one last grin. “But we’d have a lot to tell each other!”

Dusky turned again and resumed the long trek down the tarmac. Twilight couldn’t think of anything else to say—no more little excuses to keep him in her life for just one moment longer. So Twilight simply watched him go, wondering if whatever was still left unsaid would haunt her until she was old—living on alzheimer's’ meds and Werthers.

Twilight’s ruminations were abruptly interrupted by a deafening BOOM and a blast of heat. The plane Dusky had been walking towards was now a burning husk of twisted metal. In front of it was Dusky, lying on the ground. He was still.

DUSKY!!” Without thinking, Twilight ran across the tarmac until she was beside him. The heat from the flames that engulfed the plane made her sweat, but Twilight didn’t care. She turned Dusky over so he was on his back. “Dusky wake up!!!”

For one agonizing moment Twilight thought he wouldn’t, but then a feeble groan escaped the pudgy boy’s lips and the next moment his eyes were open.

“W-whuh da hell…?” Dusky didn’t have time to finish that thought, as the loud sound of a gun’s rapport cut him off. Twilight heard the bullet whoosh past and impact on the pavement mere meters behind them. The sound was immediately followed by another. The shots seemed to be coming from the treeline on the hill overlooking the south side of the tarmac. Twilight looked around. There wasn’t a lot of cover out on the open runway but she did spot a few concrete barriers set up just off to the north of the runway, separating it from what appeared to be a small parking lot.

Using all her strength to help Dusky to his feet, Twilight ran for it. The third gunshot seemed to bring him back to his senses, and before long he was helping Twilight scramble for cover as much as she was helping him. What was only a few seconds felt like minutes, but eventually the pair made it behind the first concrete barrier unscathed. There was enough gunfire raining around them that it felt like a warzone, and Twilight thought it was a miracle that they made it to cover unscathed.

“It’s the Fake AH Crew, isn’t it?!” Twilight asked loudly over the gunfire.

“Yep, sure looks like it!” Dusky replied sardonically.

“Well what do we do?!”

Working on that!

Twilight heard a sharp whoosh and another BOOM, and the car Dusky had picked her up in went up in another fiery explosion. Twilight had to admit the attack had been scary at first, but by the looks of things it was pretty uncoordinated. There’s gotta be a way we can use that.

Another gunshot took out a large chunk of the concrete barricade they were hiding behind. Whatever they were packing was clearly pretty heavy duty, and Twilight found herself wondering how much longer their cover was going to last.

Just then she heard the sound of a car horn frantically honking over the gunfire, and a look in the direction of the noise yielded a strange sight. A black limousine was flooring it along the tarmac towards their position. As it got closer, Twilight noticed it looked more heavily armored than a car like that should be, and on top where the sunroof should be a large machine gun was mounted.

For a brief moment Twilight thought they had been flanked, and her heart stopped in her chest as she saw someone climb up onto the mounted turret from inside the limo. But then the vehicle pulled up just beside where she and Dusky had taken cover, and the gunman started firing the turret into the trees where their attackers seemed to be.

Then a man dressed in a black suit and tie wearing large sunglasses got out, and shouted, “Mr. Shawcross! You need to get in the vehicle now. We’re here to protect you!” For some reason, his voice sounded like a man from New Jersey doing a bad Sylvester Stallone impression. “We’re the special security that you ordered!

The other man grabbed Dusky by the back of his collar and kept him low as he led him into the back door of the limo. Not knowing what else to do, Twilight followed, far too overwhelmed to even consider that it was all an elaborate trap.

Welcome to Hell, bitch!” the familiar voice of Ray the Brownman shouted from the driver’s seat as the doors locked and the limo sped away.

The man in the mounted turret swiveled his seat in the cramped confines of the limo, placing his groin uncomfortably close to Dusky’s face. “Your penance is you have to stare at my penis for the rest of this trip!” the voice of Ryan the Vagabond called down.

Sitting opposite to them, the man who had called out to them to get into the limo put a hand up to his earpiece. “This is Savage Animal Idiot. Fuck Train, Daddy Cock and I have the Package,” said the Jersey voice of Michael. “On our way to the bridge!”

“Why are you guys using codenames?” Twilight asked, folding her arms crossly and trying not to show just how much she was still shaking. “Dusky and I know who you are!”

Michael and Twilight locked eyes for several seconds. Finally, Michael gestured to her and shouted, “What the fuck is she doing here?!”

On the hill overlooking the private airstrip, Geoff slung his high-powered sniper rifle over his shoulder and took a breath. Kerry’s betrayal had angered him so greatly that for a moment he was tempted to actually shoot him for real. Then he saw that girl… Twilight, and all of a sudden he had the opposite problem. He might not have been able to shoot at all if Jeremy hadn’t taken the first shot and snapped him out of his stupor.

Geoff really didn’t want to hurt the girl. Truth be told he’d grown rather fond of her in the short time they’d known each other. But he had to follow through with the plan. Had to find out which one of his crew had betrayed him through Kerry. So with that in mind, Geoff had joined in firing on the two teens far below. None of the shots were meant to harm, of course. They just needed to get Kerry scared enough not to question a convenient avenue of escape when it presented itself.

He heard Michael’s voice through his earpiece as the limo drove away, reporting that he and his team had “the Package.” Geoff put a hand to his own earpiece and replied, “This is Scary Butt. Monster Truck and I are executing the next phase of the plan. Water Choo-Choo, what’s your status?”

A second later, he heard Jack’s voice answer, “I’m making my way along the coast to the extraction point.

“Very good. Asshole Baguette?”

Flying over the bridge,” Gavin reported.“C4’s already been planted.

Geoff turned to Jeremy and nodded, and the two of them returned to their own vehicle—a modified green Bifta.
The pair drove away, completely unaware that they’d left a witness down at the airstrip. Parked just on the edge of the parking lot, engine still running, was the Uber driver who had been called by Dusky to drive Twilight back into town. The man sat behind the wheel, mouth agape at the brief but explosive mock battle he had just witnessed.

Shaking his head in disbelief, the man reached for his phone and dialled 911

Siren wailing, a single police cruiser raced down the highway at speeds well above the speed limit. Traffic in front of it parted like the red sea before Moses, and all the while its driver gripped the wheel so tightly his palms were sure to have an imprint of the pattern on its underside later. This did not go unnoticed by the female officer riding shotgun.

“You think it’s them?” Melati Jasmine asked.

“Who else could it be?” replied Shining Armor.

“Gotta admit, the use of explosives and heavy weapons is a pretty dead giveaway, but I can’t imagine what they could possibly be up to.”

Shining allowed himself a cocksure grin. “When we catch them, we’ll ask them.”

“They’re probably long gone by now, bud.”

But it was a few minutes later when they saw it. “Does that limo have a fucking fifty-cal on it?”

Sure enough, approaching down the highway from the opposite direction was a black limousine with a massive gun where the sunroof should have been. Shining and Melati exchanged a brief look that communicated everything that needed to be said.

In one swift motion, Shining put on the brakes and spun the wheel, letting the police cruiser spin one-eighty degrees into the oncoming lane. As Shining accelerated after the clearly illegally modified limousine, Melati grabbed the radio and spoke into the receiver.

“All units, this is officer Jasmine. Spotted suspect vehicle heading east on Highway 7. Approaching Horseshoe Bay.”

“Fuck. It’s the Popo!” Ray shouted from the driver’s seat. Sure enough, a police car with its sirens wailing was approaching down the highway from the other direction.

“Just keep driving, Fuck Train,” Michael ordered. “Maybe they’re not after us.”

But when they passed the police cruiser, it did a full one-eighty sliding spin into their lane and started accelerating after them.

“Nope, they’re definitely after us! Shoot ‘em, Daddy Cock!”

“On it!” Ryan exclaimed as he swiveled in the turret, once again putting his codenamesake in Dusky’s face.

“Of all the codenames you could have gone with…” Twilight groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose to keep the migraine at bay. “Daddy Cock? Why…?”

“I dunno, ask Jer… I mean, ask Monster Truck!” Michael said. “He came up with the theme for the codenames.”

Twilight had to wonder what theme incorporated both Fuck Train and Daddy Cock, but any response she might have had was cut off as Ryan started firing on the turret. Covering her ears, Twilight turned to look out the window behind her, and saw the police cruiser swerving desperately to avoid the oncoming hail of bullets. The officer in the passenger’s seat of the police car tried to return fire with their sidearm, but it did little to penetrate the limo’s armored exterior.

Ryan got a bead on them again with the machine gun, and Twilight watched as the front of the hood of the police car filled with holes, and one of the headlights shattered to pieces. The police car swerved to the left and got behind the trailer of a large eighteen-wheeler that the limo was passing. Ryan tried to track them with the turret to put a few more holes in their cruiser, but only ended up hitting the side of the trailer.

For a few moments the gunfire stopped, and the two vehicular combatants drove along in silence with nothing but the massive truck trailer dividing them. The Fake AH Crew’s limo pulled ahead of the truck, and Ryan readied the turret to fire on the police cruiser as soon as it appeared.

Except the cruiser had accelerated fast enough to pass the truck well before they did, and before Ryan could realize his prey was now ahead of them, the officer riding shotgun took aim with her handgun (the officer was definitely female, Twilight realized) and fired. Although the bullets from the sidearm weren’t enough to penetrate the limo’s armor, Ryan’s position on the turret was much more exposed. The first two shots went wide of the mark, but the third managed to graze the killer’s left shoulder, eliciting a cry of surprise and pain. Ryan got off the turret and ducked down into the limo clutching his bleeding shoulder, avoiding two more shots.

With the machine gun turret temporarily neutralized, the police cruiser slowed enough to get beside and slightly behind the limo, then with a sharp swerve rammed the back side of it. Twilight and Dusky were jostled in their seat as the limo started to slide to and fro from the attempted pit maneuver.

“OOOOOOOUGH!” Ray shrieked as he tried to bring the limo under control. It took a few seconds but Ray eventually managed to get the limo driving straight again.

Deciding to take matters into his own hands, Michael picked up his assault rifle and knocked out the window with the butt. He then took aim at the police cruiser as it prepared another attempted pit maneuver. It never got the chance, as Michael’s finger squeezed the trigger and Twilight pressed both hands to her ears once again.

The side of the police car was riddled with bullets, and a loud POP accompanied the utter destruction of the front tire. Now it was the cruiser’s turn to skid uncontrollably. By some stroke of fortune (or misfortune for the police) the cruiser hit a pothole and completely flipped over, rolling around once, twice, and three times before coming to a stop upright.

Smirking, Michael sat back in his seat, resting the assault rifle beside him. His smirk quickly disappeared at the sound of more police sirens.


As Ryan got back on the machine gun turret and resumed firing, Twilight only hoped the police officers in the crashed cruiser were okay.

His heart racing, it took Shining Armor a couple of seconds to process that they’d stopped moving. Removing two trembling hands from the steering wheel, Shining checked himself. By all appearances, he wasn’t injured, but his right shoulder hurt like a son of a bitch. Clearly the crash had agitated the injury there from the other day. And seeing him up on that machine gun certainly didn’t help.

“Ugh… you okay, Mel?” Shining asked, but received no answer. “Mel?”

Shining’s heart started racing again as he looked over to where his partner was seated… and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw her put a hand to her forehead.

“Ow… yeah, I’m fine. Sorry,” Melati said. “Whew, if there was ever a time I’m glad to have been wearing a seatbelt….”
“Yeah, no kidding…” Shining then noticed the smoke rising from the hood of their vehicle. “I don’t think we’re gonna be continuing the chase any time soon, though.”

Melati just gave him a grin. “Well, not with that attitude!”

With that, the Muslim woman hopped out of the car and Shining followed. A blue beamer had pulled over to the side of the highway just behind their wreck of a police car and an unassuming bald man poked out.

“You okay, officers?” the man asked. “I’m a trained paramedic, so if either of you’re injured I can take a look. It’s my day off, but….”

Melati gave the man her most charming smile. “Actually, if you want to help, my partner and I need to commandeer your vehicle. I promise you’ll get it back!”

“Oh, well I suppose I can do that… just so long as I make sure neither of you have a concussion or any similar injuries.”

Shining pulled Melati aside. “Mel, I’m loving the enthusiasm, but this isn’t necessary. We did our duty, now let’s let the other officers handle this.”

“What happened to the guy who was so gung-ho about getting the Fake AH Crew?” she asked in response.

Shining hesitated. “He’s still there, it’s just…” Shining felt his shoulder, “he thought he’d actually listen to his partner for a change.”

“And his partner might just know a shortcut that will allow us to cut them off, assuming they’re headed for the coast like I think they are.” When Melati saw Shining’s uncertain look, she gave him a smile. “Don’t worry, we’re not rushing into a situation we’re not prepared for. Not this time! Nobody’s going to carve you up while I’m around!”

At last, Shining returned her smile. “Well, we’d better hurry if we want to catch them.”

From his position in the pilot’s seat of the dual-rotored cargobob helicopter, Gavin looked down at the bridge that spanned the Horseshoe River. The bridge spanned the point right where the river emptied into Horseshoe Bay, and all around him was water. Gavin had his left hand on the helicopter’s controls, and in his right he held the remote detonator, its red button seeming to say, “Push Me.”

Not yet, Gavin thought. But soon. He was keeping an ear on the radio frequency he and the other members of the Crew were using for this “heist” (such as it was). The acquisition team was nearly there. Sure enough, further down the highway to the west, Gavin could see the flashes of gunfire and police lights as the tiny limo raced towards the bridge, the police in hot pursuit.

They look like toys from up here, Gavin thought, his thumb stroking the red button on the detonator. He did always love playing with toys….

Right as the limo approached the bridge, a bright red flare shot up from it. For good measure, Michael’s voice came in over the radio. “Blow it, Asshole Baguette! Now!

Gavin didn’t need to be told twice. His thumb depressed the button, and after a satisfying click, a trail of explosions followed the black limo along the bridge until it stopped right in the center. A chorus of screaming over the radio accompanied the sight.

“Jesus you almost killed us!” Ray shouted.

“Sorry boys, comin’ down to get you!” Gavin said, before bringing both hands to the chopper controls and beginning his descent.

The police had been trailing the limo quite a distance back, most likely to avoid the machine gun turret that Ryan was no doubt having far too much fun with. As such, when the explosives on the bridge went off, all of the police cruisers managed to slam their brakes on and stop just before crossing the bridge’s threshold. Seeing the now ravaged concrete bridge, none of the cops dared set foot on it. Gavin had been careful not to set any explosives anywhere that would seriously compromise the bridge’s structural integrity… but the police didn’t know that.

Thus, Gavin was able to bring the cargobob down over the limo with minimal harassment. In less than half a minute, Ryan managed to attach the hook on the bottom of the cargobob to the limo and Gavin took off, bringing the limo high above Horseshoe Bay. There was only one more step in Li’l J’s heist now, and Gavin checked to make sure the one item he needed would be ready: A parachute pack with the Union Jack on it.

This is Savage Animal Idiot, the acquisition team is in the air. What’s your status, diversion team?

Further up the Horseshoe River, Geoff and Jeremy exited the treeline and made their way to where Jack was waiting in a large speedboat. The two of them were rubbing their aching necks. Despite that, they were faring better than their ride.

Jeremy spoke into his earpiece, “Hey, Savage Animal Idiot. Scary Butt, Water Choo-Choo, and I are rendezvousing with whiplash. Our next stop is the main rendezvous point.”

Who the fuck is Whiplash?” Michael asked incredulously. “Did we bring another guy onto this heist?

As he and Jeremy climbed into Jack’s boat, Geoff took a forlorn look back up the tree-covered valley, where somewhere up there was a green Bifta with its metal hood crushed against a tree.

“Whiplash may or may not be code for ‘Monster Truck can’t fucking drive.’”

Twilight had thought she was terrified during her road trip with the Fake AH Crew yesterday. Now, she wished she could go back to that simpler time. At least then, the crazy gang’s ride had been on the ground. Twilight clung to the handle above the door for dear life as she tried not to look out the window at the ocean far, far below. Twilight was afraid for a moment that her breakfast would come back up, but she managed to keep it down by focusing on what else was happening in the limo.

“We got you now you rat fuck!” Michael shouted, sounding incredibly Jersey.

“Snitches get stitches, bitch!” Ryan added, sounding incredibly white.

“Yeah, so you’d better tell us who put you up to it or things are gonna get real bad for you!” Ray said.
Dusky looked to each of them in turn, eyes wide and afraid. “I can’t… I can’t tell you!”

Ryan took the seat beside Dusky and put a hand on his shoulder. “Kerry… do you have a family?”

Shaking, Dusky nodded.

“And would you like to see them again?”

“Hey! Let’s leave the family out of this. It’s not necessary,” Michael said, before giving Kerry a wolfish grin. “He’ll tell us everything we need to know back on the yacht.” Michael then pounded a fist into his open palm threateningly. “He just needs some encouragement!”

No!” Twilight suddenly shouted, surprising even herself. Every other head in the flying limo slowly turned to look at her.

“Excuse me?” Michael stated, making a show of cleaning out his ears and leaning forward to listen.

It took some courage, but Twilight thought of the consequences for her friend if she remained silent and looked Michael right in the eye as she repeated. “No. You are not hurting my friend!”

Out of the corner of her eye, Twilight saw Ryan beside her sign something to Michael, who glared at him and vehemently shook his head before leveling a surprisingly calm gaze at Twilight.

“Listen, kid… I’m only gonna say this once: This doesn’t concern you.”

“It does when you’re threatening one of my friends!”

“It’s just business, don’t worry about it!” Michael explained with a casual shrug. “Once we learn what we need to, Kerry’ll be let go. Easy-peasy!”

Twilight narrowed her eyes. “Don’t insult my intelligence by lying to my face.”

With another shrug, Michael said, “Sorry kid. Them’s the breaks.” Michael pulled out a pistol and turned his attention to Dusky. “Kerry shoulda known what he was getting into when he betrayed us!”

With growing despair, Twilight realized she wasn’t going to convince them to spare her friend. At least, not without something to offer. Evidently, Dusky realized this too, as the pair exchanged a knowing look, and Dusky just shook his head and mouthed don’t.

But Twilight knew she had to. It would be akin to sacrificing her own life for him, but if she didn’t….

If she didn’t, Twilight couldn’t honestly tell herself she wasn’t the monster everyone seemed to think she is.

“I know where the thumb drive is.”

For a moment, it was as if time froze inside the flying limo as once again every head turned to look at her. Every face was one of utter shock, and in that moment Twilight had complete control of their attention. It was terrifying, but in a way, kind of empowering. Twilight used it to go on.

“Dusky’s little gold tower. The one with all the data you stole in one of your big heists. I found it.”

Ryan immediately reached toward her with an outstretched hand. “Give it!”

“I… don’t actually have it with me. But I do have it.” Twilight took a breath. That little tower had her deepest darkest secret, and here she was, using it as a bargaining chip. “And I’ll give it to you… on one condition: You let Dusky go!”

“We can’t do that,” Ray said from up in the driver’s seat. “We need to know what he knows.”

“More than you need that tower?” Twilight asked.

The limo was silent save for the sound of the rotors outside. Finally, Michael said, “Alright, here’s the deal: We let you go, you grab the tower, and you meet us at the docks down on Harbor Street at sun down.”

“Dusky comes with me,” Twilight said boldly. A little too boldly.

“Nuh-uh,” was Michael’s response.

“We’re gonna keep him until we get the tower,” Ryan said. “Think of it as insurance. Gotta make sure you stick to your end of the deal.”

Chewing her lip, Twilight looked to Dusky, who gave her a reassuring nod. I’ll be okay, he seemed to be telling her.

“F-fine,” Twilight conceded. “But if you even put one scratch on him, I’ll smash the drive right then and there!”

Michael nodded, and beside her, Ryan gave her a look that seemed to indicate that he was genuinely impressed… and perhaps even proud.

“Sounds like we have a deal then,” Michael said.

It was at that moment Gavin’s voice appeared on the radio. “Alright guys, we’re at the main rendezvous point. Time to jump!

Twilight’s heart sunk into her chest. Jump? It then occurred to her to express that thought aloud. “J-JUMP?!

But the others didn’t answer her. Instead, Michael and Ryan pulled what appeared to be backpacks out from under the seats. Ryan pulled out an additional one and gave it to Dusky.

“Hey Ray, you didn’t happen to bring any extra ‘chutes, did ya?” Ryan asked.

Ray—who Twilight noted through the little window to the driver’s cabin was putting on his own “backpack”—said, “Of course. Any heist that involves Gavin flying something I always pack extra!”

The Puerto Rican reached under his feet, pulled out another pack and passed it back through the window to Michael, who in turn placed it into Twilight’s lap. Twilight suddenly heard what sounded like a shrieking bird and briefly caught a glimpse of what appeared to be the Union Jack pass by the window.

“You’d better hurry up and put that on,” Michael said. “Looks like the helicopter’s already on its crash course.”

With that, Michael opened the door and with a cry of “Geronimo!” leapt out into the blue. Ryan all but tossed Dusky out after him, before glancing back at Twilight, pointing at his watch, then jumping out himself. Trembling, Twilight took the long journey over to the open door. The rushing wind felt like a hurricane, and drowned out even the helicopter’s rotors. Twilight felt around for a chord and found it, clutching it tightly. Then, she looked out at the ocean miles and miles below.

This time, Twilight was not able to keep her breakfast down.

Author's Note:

Sad to say it, but you've reached the end. Click here for more info

As always, thanks to BradtheBrony for his immense help editing.

Comments ( 20 )

My guess is Lil J or Ryan.

Will this story have any sex or sexy moments in it?

Personally, I'd say Ray or Caleb. Ray due to his leaving is obvious, however at the same time he's still on good terms with the group. Caleb on the other hands is the subject of many jokes, however nobody really has mentioned him in the story. But given that you could easily add him in, along with James Buckly, Lannan, or any other members, it would be easy.

Two very good guesses. Any reason why?

Look at the tags.

I will say that any of the AH crew that hasn't made an appearance yet (Trevor, Alfredo, Andy, Shifty Larry, and the ones you mentioned) will probably not make an appearance in the story beyond maybe a cameo, so the traitor is definitely one of the main 6

Another fantastic chapter.

Honestly, I'm thinkin' Ray. He left in real life, and in this universe he wants to leave so he gets Kerry to betray the crew and finds an out from there. I dunno if I'm making sense but that's basically my train of thought.

A well-reasoned theory, that. Ray's defection to Twitch may yet have its role to play...

Why is this story so good? Why are you so good at crossovers?

After a couple of months, I finally got around to reading this. To say I'm "impressed", or that I'm "liking this so far", would be a severe understatement. Seriously, it's amazing how well you've managed to write all of the members of the Fake AH Crew. They actually feel like the real AH crew. Maybe the only teeny problem (if you could even call it a problem) is that, since you based the Fake AH Crew on the GTA characters, Jack is a female; thus, 6 chapters in, I'm still reading Jack's lines in Jack's real voice. It's both hilarious and disturbing.

As for who's the traitor, my guess is that, out of the main 6 AH crew (excluding Geoff for obvious reasons), the traitor is neither Michael nor Ryan. I don't see Michael as a traitor, and Ryan would be way too obvious considering his attitude, personality and overall actions. I haven't seen any reason yet to believe Gavin would betray the crew, which would make for a good plot twist if he actually were the traitor.

Still, Kerry did say that "HE gave me no choice". That would mean it wasn't Jack (unless she acted through someone else), and the whole threatening thing does fit with Ryan's MO. So, probably a member of the R&R Connection.

Given my luck, I'm fairly sure it's gonna be Lil' J since he's the only one I didn't mention.

Best guess, it's Ryan.


Still, Kerry did say that "HE gave me no choice". That would mean it wasn't Jack (unless she acted through someone else)

I will admit that I myself had forgotten I had written Jack as his female avatar when I wrote that line, so don't count Jack out just yet! Who knows? Maybe this version of Jack is transgender?

My philosophy with writing crossovers has always been the same as with writing any other kind of story: Mainly, that the quality of the story itself is paramount, and that everything else should exist to serve the story in some way

My personal speculation is Michael, partially because of his heist in the Let's Plays, but more because it was specified that his loyalty to Geoff was absolute, but that so was his loyalty to his wife who, you may recall, took over the business.

Man, this story is fantastic.

Man, this is stupid.

Stupidly fun, that is! I ain't usually one for crossovers, but this is something that is surprisingly enjoyable. I had no idea that this crossover could exist and work in the first place. Good job!

And my bet's on Jack or Ray. If the Dusk Boys had been around when you started with the story I'd say them though lol :rainbowwild:

Not completely sure why but the last song in this musical immediately made me think of this story

That makes sense, considering much of the inspiration from this story came from the same fanworks surrounding the GTA Let's Plays that inspired that song in the Musical. Said song also really made me want to return to writing this again. Maybe a blog post is in order in the future...

Won't lie that's great to hear, this is one of my favourite stories on this site after all. Hope you find your inspiration.

This story was great! I have no idea how you managed to make a crossover like this work, but man, you made everything fit together so well. I'm not even really a fan of Achievement Hunter, but I came here after reading your RvB story, and I'm glad I did. It sucks to see it canceled though, I was really looking forward to what was next.

Is there any chance you could write out an outline or maybe explain the rest of the plot? I'm just so curious where the story was going

I certainly could make a blog post outlining what I had planned for the rest of the story. In fact, the only reason I hadn't done so sooner was because there simply didn't appear to be any demand for it. If life gives me any time this weekend I'll see what I can put together

Thanks! I'd definitely appreciate that

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