• Published 23rd Oct 2018
  • 725 Views, 16 Comments

Tartarus Island - Darkstarling

Tirek, held in the most secure facility in the world, plots his escape

  • ...

Better to rule...

Power. To rule the world. What is it worth? How much will you pay? This is the only question. Free of pretense, hypocrisy, and platitudes. What will you do, what will you sacrifice, to have your will done? All else is empty words and excuses.

I once sought power at any price and called it wisdom. All rules, all morality were shackles in which we were willingly bound. The true man, the superior man, was beyond such things. Their power was limitless, the only one free in a world of chains.

I was a fool. Only a fool pays more than he must. I paid far too much, and lost all. It is a cost I am still paying. An inexcusable waste. But the lesson. That at least has been worth the cost. It will be a long while yet before I am free of my debt. But I learned well, and soon I will begin my repayment.

Of course, I am hardly the only one with theories of power. Take my prison cell. My world was a ten foot cube of white cinder blocks, designed for solitary confinement if need be. A bed, raised so nothing can be hidden beneath. A toilet and sink, in stainless steel. A bar lamp behind Plexiglas, with no light switch. A desk with no legs, protruding from the wall. A stool, bolted to the floor. A steel door, grey, with a window and locked flap. A ventilation duct near the floor. No privacy, no weapons, nothing that could be used for exercise.

They took all else from me, and called it power. They lied to themselves. It only showed their fear. And they were right to be afraid. I am dangerous. From the day I arrived at Tartarus Prison, I knew it would never hold me. They said it was inescapable of course. A lonely, rocky island on the shark haunted bay of San Germain, with it's guards and its walls and its famous dogs.

Feh. The dogs. They don't tell you that all three of them are named Spot.

No, I knew from the beginning that I would make my escape. This cage was nothing. I am Tirek, and no one would have power over me.

Within a week of my arrival, I was confined to my cell for two weeks. They believed that isolation would break me. They underestimated my will. I am a survivor. And I knew the consequences of my actions. It was the cost I was willing to pay for power. And power is what I gained by confronting Iron Smile and breaking every bone in his face.

When they released me from solitary confinement, I could see that my work had borne fruit. It was difficult, even for me. I had lost weight, and lost strength. I perhaps spoke too loud, talked to myself too much. But it was worth it. I saw it in how the prisoners looked at me.

Before, there was simply a certain wariness. Most prisoners don't have time for more. They are exhausted and cautious. They mind their own business because it is safe. And when I arrived I was an unknown quantity. Seven feet tall, and strong. Deep red skin, with stark white hair that adds gravitas to my thirty-two years. My tattoos are also quite striking, if I say so myself. Black curving bull horns on my back and a knotwork centaur crawling on my arm. My presence was enough to deflect trouble as I found my bearings. But that was not enough. Not for what I had planned.

Now it was different. Iron Smile was a brute, a kidnapper and worse. Three hundred pounds of muscle who bragged of his exploits and took what he liked. And say what you will of prison morality, but it is deeply honest. A thief is reviled. But a conqueror? What they have taken is rightfully theirs. And no one could fight Iron Smile. Until me.

So. For my prowess, there was fear. And for beating a hated man, telling everyone why, asking for nothing in return, there was respect. They saw what they wanted to see, because it was so very lacking in their lives. They saw strength used for justice. They saw someone principled. And that was the beginning of power.

"So, what's the real story?" asked Two Ways, mouth incongruously full of cookie as he carved a soap bar. He, Angel Eyes, and I are sitting together in the prison yard, all whittling away. Carefully not so close as to look like we're hiding something. We make an odd group. Two Ways was green and wiry, with a thistle shock of purple hair and a ready grin, always crouched on something or other. Angel Eyes, on the other hand, was a washed out rainy grey and looking just this side of overweight.

An open package of Oreos sits between us. Civilians think that you trade cigarettes or drugs in prison, but you'd be amazed how much camaraderie you can buy with snack food. Perhaps those who say sugar is addictive are on to something. It had certainly cost enough.

"Probably what you've already heard" I replied, not looking up. I don't want to see him talk with his mouth full.

"I know what I heard. I know there must be something more. There's two types of people in this world friend. Those with reasons and those who are just crazy. Man like you, he doesn't just kill his brother for nothing."

I grunt in acknowledgement at that. He doesn't say it with any blame. Two Ways is, as he would say, a man with his own reasons. So is Angel Eyes, in a way. But in his case it was that the money was good and he didn't see a particular reason not to. I would have excluded him from my plan, but for his peculiar sense of ethics. Everyone knew that Angel Eyes never broke his word. He could be trusted absolutely, which under the circumstances was worth more than gold.

"So what was it then? Was there a girl? Money?" I stay silent. Angel Eyes tosses a soap dragon to me. Of the three of us, he is the only one making occasional art. Someone needs to create decoys if others look closer, and he's the best.

"Better tell me, friend. If you don't, I'll make up a story. No? Well you asked for it. One day, you found him and your mother..."

I looked up sharply, and he winced. Realized he crossed the line. Good. I reminded myself that I needed him, breathed out through my nose.

"Don't speak about my brother that way" I finally said, looking down to resume carving. "Scorpan was a good man, in his way. What I did was a terrible mistake. But he was a deluded fool. He betrayed us, our family, our business...he was going to cost us everything." I shrugged and sighed. "When you are desperate you do things that are stupid. Things you regret."

He nodded and didn't push further. Just as well. He doesn't need an explanation of mob politics, or turning state's evidence. I finished my carving, my best rendering of Angel Eye's ear, and toss it on the pile.

Two Ways plays accordion. Many nights he has everyone on the block clapping along to Farmer Long's Pickle, and makes up filthier verses every time. He's very good.

"There's two kinds of people in the world, friend. Those with music in their soul, and those without. Guess which one you are!"

I, on the other hand, am not.

I wouldn't mind the lack, just as I don't envy a snail either hermaphroditic reproduction or the ability to move on a trail of slime. But, unfortunately, parts of the plan were loud and required the cover of a racket in all three of our cells. And that meant...

"Come on, show some delicacy! You think the accordion is some trollop like the trombone? Those brazen things just want a good pounding in and out. But the accordion is a lady! Treat her like a gentle lover and maybe you'll get some results before our ears bleed."

That meant I had to have Two Ways teach me to play. This consisted of him constantly mocking me while quietly working the improvised hand drill in his cell. All as I struggled through coaxing painful and piercing shrieks from the wretched instrument. The mockery, he assured me, was to ensure the other prisoners were too busy laughing at him to gang up and kill me in retribution for my assault on all things musical. And besides, having a 'humanizing flaw' despite being 'an unstoppable badass' would improve my popularity.

"Hey, I think the Spots are coming to get you out of there! All three of them! They want free the hero who strangled so many cats!"

I gritted my teeth, reminded myself that all power came with a price, and stoically continued to play.

If you had told me before I arrived that a stone killer like Angel Eyes gave an excellent haircut, good enough to apprentice under the actual prison barber, I would have been very skeptical.

Finally it was the night. Nearly six months of work, a year of my life I would never get back. And despite my best efforts I had lost much of my strength: guards know better than to let prisoners exercise if they can help it. But we were ready. I let out a satisfied smile as the lights shut off across the block, laying in bed and staring at the ceiling. And I made an effort to breath calmly, to still my nerves. The plan was perfect, and allowed for mistakes. I waited. One last round by the night guard. It was Bright Scales that night. Even if I didn't have their schedule memorized, I heard him absentmindedly drumming on the cell doors with his baton as he walked. I heard him pass. And then I forced myself to keep waiting.

I counted to three hundred in the dark, my heart hammering. Funny, months of enforced inactivity seemed to fly by and yet these last minutes ground on like centuries. But I steeled my will. I would not fail at the last minute because of mere nerves.

Finally, at long last, the torment was over. I rolled silently out of my bed, and seized the ventilation duct. Condensation had damaged the cement over the years, but even I couldn't have ripped off the cover. Certainly not without alerting every guard in the place. Which is why we had spent weeks drilling it free under cover of that awful, awful, blessed accordion. And behind was the route to salvation, a narrow utility corridor between the walls. Somehow unguarded, the kind of thing you only find in dreary old buildings. Less than two feet, crowded with steam pipes and wiring, but enough.

Stashed there was a worrying sight. A perfect model of my head made of paper, carved soap, and human hair stolen by Angel Eyes. The jar of my blood beside it almost suggested the sinister work of an evil sorcerer, but it was nothing so impractical as voodoo. I pocketed the blood for later, and set to work. In minutes the bed was again occupied by me, or a close enough substitute until morning. And then, at long last, I took one last look at my cell. I squeezed my way through the vent, for once grateful for my lost bulk, and pulled it shut behind me. Down the passage I heard the faint scuffles as Two Ways and Angel Eyes did the same. From the smell, Two Ways had been hitting his hooch for courage. But I wasn't worried. I'd seen him dance a jig and recite a limerick three sheets to the wind. It wouldn't disrupt the plan.

None of us dared speak. Even with the rattle and rush of the steam pipes, there was too much risk. So we crawled in silence, to the smell of dust and steam and the drips of condensation on our backs. The blackness was complete, but we all knew what to do. We had practiced it several times in daylight. Carefully climb, reach the roof from inside the building, and find our most precious possession in the world. A raft, made of over fifty stolen rain coats, the seams sealed with heat from scalding pipes. In one of his rare fits of sentimentality, Angel Eyes had painted a name on it. Lethe, Forgetfulness. I had decided it was best to humor him.

More nerve wracking minutes as we inflated the raft, a last use of the accordion after we carefully took out it's voice. I pocketed the parts, I'm not above sentimentality myself. More waiting for a break in the lights and the patrols and those damnable dogs. A final climb from the roof, a desperate sprint, and we were at sea, rowing to freedom.

It was a moment of stunning glee. I'm sure I have never smiled like when we hit the water. Two Ways actually hugged us, and to my surprise Angel Eyes didn't kill him. Though that might have been because we all needed to row. It was still a very long way to shore.

Hours later we were aching, but exulting. We could see the lights, less than a half mile away.

"Hey, you see those sharks" Two Ways said. His voice was strained from the paddling, but he didn't seem concerned. "There's a lot of them out tonight."

"I see them" I replied. I'd expected it.

"I think they're here to send us off. They see such spectacular specimens as us getting away, they can't help but want one last chance for a bite. Ha! Sorry, but this man has some human women who have been sorely lacking his absence."

Angel Eyes just snorted.

"Yes, farewell my fishy friends. May you find brides in Innsmouth, cause you sure can't get them on this boat."

"Yes, about that" I said, taking a bottle from my pocket. And then I splashed my blood on Angel Eyes and Two Ways, and tossed it to the front of the boat.

"Gah! Buh...what the hell are you doing?" Two Ways sputtered. Angel Eyes whipped round with a steely glare.

"Well, there are two kinds of people in this world" I said. "Those who leave witnesses, and those who don't." And then I ripped open the seam of the raft, and leaped into the sea.

I heard the thrashing behind me, the splashes, the desperate attempts to hold the sinking raft together. Two Ways' insults and threats followed me a long way over the water. I was a motherless rotten bastard. He would catch me, stab out my eye, and piss in the socket. When I got to hell they'd hand my brother the pitchfork. That and much more before it gave way to screams. And through it all, I could feel Angel Eye's silent stare on my back.

But soon I was far away, and it was over.

The first light of dawn was beginning to tint the sky when I dragged myself onto the beach. I had caught a bad current, and it had been a far longer swim than I expected. I was numb with cold, and yet my whole body ached. And I knew I couldn't rest. It was a long way before I would be safe. I staggered to my feet, covered in sand. And, to my shock, I saw someone silhouetted against a nearby hill.

Angel Eyes.

He looked as exhausted as me, just as battered. The shirt I had splattered with blood was gone. He was staggering as he walked toward me, but he was coming. And he was carrying a heavy branch.

"You know" he rasped out as he closed in, "when we first joined up. Two Ways, he wasn't sure he could trust you. Gave me his best hooch if I promised to kill you, if you betrayed us."

"He's dead" I said. I tried not to sway on my feet. "And a few pints of prison swill is hardly a good price for a murder. Revenge is bad business."

"Yes he is. And it's far too cheap. But I liked him. You know how few people I actually like? And you know me." His tone never changed, his grey face never moved, but his fingers tightened on the branch so hard his knuckles popped. "I took it. And I always keep my word. So I'm calling it a friend discount."

That was two weeks ago. I still have the broken arm, and I keep getting blood on my clothes when the cuts open again. I haven't shaved, and I'm limping when I walk. I look more like a crazy homeless man than a fugitive from justice. Just as well I suppose. But I've finally made it. Canterlot City. You hear all sorts of strange rumors in prison, and you learn to hear which ones are true. Dryads and Angels and Magical Girls. I'm going to recover. And then I'm going to get strong. Magic is coming into the world, and it will be mine. I will retake my rightful place with my family from those who denied me. No one will ever have power over me. Never again.

Author's Note:

Those curious should look up the 1962 Alcatraz Escape, it's quite interesting.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Comments ( 16 )

Brilliant work. Tirek makes for a disturbingly, engrossingly intense narrator, and the almost silly intricacy of the plan makes the story read like a fun literary puzzle. His co-conspirators are characterized quite well for something so brief. Little details like the name of the bay, the Cerberus analogues, and Tirek's atrophy to match his counterpart add richness to the story, though I am somewhat offended by the attack on the trombone's honor. :raritywink:

All told, great work. I'd love to see a sequel. The Humane Seven have never dealt with someone so driven, and it would make for one heck of a confrontation.

(And remember, when it comes to leaving witnesses, there's no Two Ways about it.)

Thank you! And I’m glad you liked the little references. That Cerberus means Spot is one of my favorite bits of trivia.

Funnily enough, the real escape I based this on was even more intricate. But I figured I could skim over a lot of that in favor of the characters getting focus and getting to the meat of it.

And yeah, driven is the word for him. And very much of the Xykon school of thought regarding power, if you’ve read Order of the Stick.

He also makes an alarmingly good straight man. I’m quite proud I managed to get him stoically murdering a tune on the accordion for entirely sensible reasons. If you feel offended by the insult to the honor of the noble trombone, remember that Two Ways is not meant to be a role model :p

Masterful, masterful work. What more is there to say?

San Germain

This is one of the very best horse pun names I have heard :raritystarry:

This was a great story! So very different from the rest; so tightly plotted and focused. Just enough to stop it from feeling incomplete, but never enough for it to drag. Bravo!

Obviously what more there is to say is from me. Thank you. :twilightsmile:

Glad you liked the style, I tried to keep this one concise. And with a voice actress with a name like that and a city named for a saint, how could I refuse?

Tirek as a mobster in prison... I'm surprised I never considered this for a human analogue of Tirek, because it's obvious, when you think about it. Maybe that's why I like this story so much. It's something new to me, yet the concept fits Tirek so well that now that I've read it, I can no longer imagine him as anything else.

Funny, I don't remember any angels in the Equestria Girls movies. Or were you talking about what Sunset Shimmer turned into in "Friendship Games"?

On a less related note, I've seen other versions of a human Tirek where he's the head of a multibillion dollar company called "Centaur Corp", or the Amish groundskeeper of Canterlot High, or even a student that (along with analogues of Chrysalis, Scorpan, Sombra, Starlight Glimmer, and Discord) has been transferred to Canterlot High from an apparently lawless and now-devastated school.

Further, will versions of other major villains (Chrysalis, Sombra, Starlight Glimmer, Discord, the Storm King, Stygian/the Pony of Shadows, and Cozy Glow) play a role in sequels?

He's talking about the rumors re:Friendship Games yeah.

If I write sequels (I really need to get on writing again...) I'll likely deal with Tirek first. But other villains are out there yes. Which ones to be decided, because EQG isn't a perfect parallel for Equestria and the surrounding lands. But I can say definitively that Discord exists, because I like him as a mad scientist FAR too much to leave alone. And if Cozy Glow exists she's likely far in their future or in a very different form, because as things stand now the School of Friendship is too far out of context to have a reflection.

Author Interviewer

Buh. I love stories exploring what show canon characters are doing in canon alternate dimensions. :D

This was a great story. In only a little time, you gave us everything we needed for an unsettling origin story to EqG Tirek and how he could prove a significant threat to the girls now.

Damn I wonder how EG’s Grogar origins can top that. It’s glorious

This was really good. Glad It got promoted. Deserves it.

Well, I'm impressed. Not only on what you wrote, but at Tirek's stamina. That is a long walk, I'm sure.

God Damn, is there a full-length sequel? I'd read it!

Login or register to comment
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!