• Published 16th Apr 2019
  • 703 Views, 45 Comments

Taking Back Canterlot - Coyote de La Mancha



Three years after the Sirens' gang war, Twilight wakes from her coma and begins retaking her city from the new gangs infesting Canterlot.

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Episode 2. Prologue: Enter the Dark Side.

Shining Armor blinked and rolled over, focusing his eyes. A long, hard look at the phone on his night stand told him that yes, in fact, it was his phone that had awakened him.

Looking at the number, his frown deepened. He’d missed the call, but only just. He hit redial and held the phone to his ear, his head still resting on the pillow.

“Yes, this is Armor. No, I just called you. What’s...”

He jackknifed up. ”What?!? How long? No, I’m glad you called. Listen,” he started rolling out of bed, “don’t let anyone talk to her, okay? I mean no one. Just keep her in solitary until I can get there--”

Then, he leaped out of bed.

”What the fuck do you mean she’s in the infirmary?!?

Shining put his phone on speaker and threw it on the bed. He dashed around the bedroom, throwing on clothes.

“God damn it, Brass, her file specifically states...!”

“Her file specifically states that she’s a cop killer,” Brass’ voice said. “Everything else aside, you’re lucky I called you at all.”

“Don’t you give me that, you know very goddamn well--” Shining broke off, his eyes widening, as a new sound came over the phone line. “Is that the alarm?”

“Huh, what the...”

”Is that the fucking alarm?!?”

There was the merest pause from Brass, then: “What the fuck?”

“Okay, Brass, listen to me,” Shining Armor was saying as he struggled into his shoes. “We can still salvage this. Just keep everyone out of there. No contact. Do you read me? No contact! I’ll be there in no time--!”

“Sorry, Armor. I’ve got one person down now. Dispatch is already coordinating teams against the escapee.”

”Then have them stand down!” Shining yelled as he grabbed his phone again. In a moment, the front door slammed closed behind him and he was jerking open the door to his car. “Have them secure the area if you want, but don’t go in, don’t engage! That’s a fucking order, Warden Tacks! You hear me? DO NOT ENGAGE HER!”

Shining could almost hear the other man leaning back as he said, “Yeah, Shining, I couldn’t make any of that out. Must be all the background noise.”

The engine roared to life as Shining Armor said through gritted teeth, “God dammit, Brass, listen to me, don’t do this, don’t you fucking do this, not now...”

“Look, Shining, I’m sorry,” Brass Tacks said. “I really am. But you’re not going to be able to save her this time.”

Then the line went dead.

Shining Armor raced down the streets of Canterlot, siren howling, lights blazing through the night. There was a chopper at the station. There was still a chance, however slim.

His tires screamed as he took the corner of Asimov and Ninety-Second, speeding through a race he knew he couldn’t win even as he dialed the station’s number.

“She’s not the one I’m trying to save.”


The water only stung a little as it flowed over her wounds. A few cuts and nicks here and there. Her abdomen, the wound she’d taken to reach Twilight in the first place. And her thigh still ached, of course, from where she’d been shot.

Apple Bloom sighed again as the hot water continued to run along her body. She arched a little bit as she ran her fingers through her long red hair, feeling a few vertebrae slip back into place as she did. The water ran pink in a few places, little rivulets of diluted blood reminding her – along with the pain – that she’d come out the other side alive.

Then, reluctantly, she shut the water off and opened the curtain, stepping out onto a soft fluffy mat as she grabbed a large towel. She hissed a little as she dabbed her injuries dry, though only the bullet wound was really bad. And even then, she’d been able to dig the dang thing out without too much trouble. She really couldn’t complain.

She glanced at the white, thick towel in her hands, turned pink here and there from her ministrations.

Comfy towels. Soft floor mats. Hot water.

Such luxuries.

Apple Bloom peeked out the open door again, at the figure nestled in the bed closest to the bathroom.

Still breathing.

Apple Bloom sat on the closed toilet and opened one of the Flormart bags she’d brought with them both when they’d checked in. A camper’s first aid kit, some super glue, rubbing alcohol, and a sewing kit.

She looked dubiously at the sewing kit, then put it aside. She wasn’t adverse if needs be, but she knew she was no Rarity. And right then, needs didn’t seem that bad. So instead, she put the towel in her mouth, pulled her thigh wound open with her fingers, and poured in the alcohol.

Once she’d finished her muffled screams (half expecting her teeth to meet in the towel’s middle while she did, kicking the bathtub the whole time), she opened the super glue and lined the edges of her thigh wound, holding it closed until it stuck. It wasn’t perfect, and it was still swole up, but it would do until she could hire a doc to fix her up proper. Till then, she could limp a little. It was fine.

The worst being over, she peeked in on Twilight again, and then got to work on her other injuries. Finally, she covered everything with some butterfly bandages to help the glue hold the skin in place, and then Band-Aids to cover the bandages.

Her self-ministrations complete, Apple Bloom started walking out of the bathroom, then stopped and smiled. She turned and picked up another large towel and wrapped it around herself. Then, she exited the bathroom, bare yellow feet padding softly in the thick carpet.

Modesty was another luxury she’d missed.

Twilight’s face had gone from a healthy violet to a pale amethyst, the sunkeness of her eyes and cheeks even darker than when Apple Bloom had first seen her. Her hair was limp and lifeless, and underneath the blankets, her body was positively sticklike, her limbs almost fleshless, her bones sticking out like bare branches.

When Apple Bloom had cleaned out Twilight’s leg wounds, the older girl had moaned and shifted, but she hadn’t woke up. The bullets had gone straight through, so Apple Bloom hadn’t had to dig anything out… but Twilight had lost a lot of blood.

Apple Bloom knew she should see a doctor, but as fugitives that was just about impossible.

Now, sitting on the bed next to her, Apple Bloom took a box of diaper wipes from the side table. Gently, tenderly, she started cleaning Twilight’s face again. Some of the blood just wasn’t willing to come off, especially around the nostrils. But Apple Bloom was willing to keep trying. Biting her lower lip, she gently wiped Twilight’s forehead and eyes.

“C’mon, Twilight,” she whispered. “Please be okay.”

Twilight winced, then frowned, taking in a long, slow breath.

“Sunny, what time is it,” she mumbled. “S’too early.”

Apple Blom’s breath caught in her throat. “No, Twilight, it’s me,” she said. “You remember?”

Twilight’s eyes fluttered half-open, tried to focus.

“Apple Bloom?”

Apple Bloom nodded, relief flooding through her. “Uh-huh.”

Twilight glanced around her a little. “We made it.”

“Yup.” Apple Bloom “How you feelin’?”

Twilight Sparkle tried for a moment to move her arms under the weight of the blankets, and found it impossible. Then, she gave a weak smile.

“Well,” she said faintly, “I used to feel… with my hands...”

For a moment, Apple Bloom stared. Then, there were a few barks of half-suppressed mirth, almost like coughs, from each of them. Then, the laughter made its way out, Twilight giggling weakly while Apple Bloom half-laughed, half cried.

Eventually, the moment subsided. Apple Bloom gently moved some of Twilight’s hair out from her face, genuinely smiling for the first time in a long while.

“Seriously, though, I don’t think I’ve ever felt this physically weak,” Twilight said. “It’s like I’ve been hollowed out. I think my body might tremble if it had the energy. But it doesn’t. And my head, Jesus…”

“Want some aspirin?”

“Blood thinner,” Twilight said. “I shouldn’t chance it. Any acetaminophen?”

Apple Bloom shook her head. “Huh-uh. I can getcha some in a little bit, though.”

“You can… wait,” Twilight said, her purple eyes suddenly focused and sharp. “Where are we? How long have I been out?”

“We’re in a Motel 7, an’ you’ve been out for about five or six hours.”

“Five or six hours. Okay, that makes sense. But…”

“But?”

“Look, Apple Bloom… where did we get the money for all this?”

Apple Bloom smiled again, hands clasped in her lap, looking at the ceiling. “Well, y’see…”


By the time they’d reached the prison docks, Twilight’s entire chest, neck, and lower face had been covered in blood. She’d barely gotten on the boat before passing out. Without air cover to worry about, Apple Bloom had just left the boat lights off, and aimed for the city lights across the bay.

Getting to shore had been harder. Even if word hadn’t spread yet, nobody was going to miss two young women in prison jump suits. So, apologizing profusely, Apple Bloom had stripped Twilight out of her jumpsuit… only to discover that, unlike Apple Bloom, she wasn’t wearing any underwear. So, Apple Bloom had left Twilight in her socks, and put her own T-shirt on her. Twilight had lost enough weight that it almost did the trick.

Almost.

For her part, Apple Bloom kept her bra and panties, and her socks and shoes. Then, leaving the boat to idle, she’d taken Twilight and rolled into the water.

Looking back, Apple Bloom thought the scariest part of the whole caper was likely the swim to shore. She knew how to keep someone’s face above water, she could practice a water rescue in a swimming pool just fine… but the bay had waves, sometimes big ones. Several times Apple Bloom had just about panicked, thinking she’d let her unconscious friend drown.

Finally, there was a low place she could climb up, and pull Twilight up after her. The brine had washed all their wounds, but Twilight’s nose was still bleeding, though slower than it had been. Then, Apple Bloom began to walk, one arm around Twilight, carrying her like a drunk friend as best she could.

Of course, it had been impossible to stay completely out of sight. A few cars passed by now and then, even on the minor streets. Eventually, a blue car slowed down and stopped, the driver taking in the sight of them: two young women, scantily clad, one unconscious and bloody.

“Hey,” he said, “You girls need some help?”

Apple Bloom opened her mouth to say, Yeah, we were just mugged, can you help us, but then she saw how he was looking at them. His eyes raked them up and down, taking in their legs, their breasts, the tiny patch of deep purple hair barely visible under the hem of Twilight’s t-shirt.

So instead, she cocked her head and drawled, “Well, I dunno, Sugar, what kinda help you thinkin’ about?”

He smiled. “I dunno, but it could be fun.”

She lowered her head, looked up at him from beneath her red bangs, still smiling. “Oh, Honey, we could so use your help.”

He nodded to Twilight. “What happened to your friend?”

“She didn’t have Daddy’s money,” Apple Bloom pouted. “He can be so mean.” Then she moved her eyes down, back up again. “Think you can help us with that?”

He unlocked the doors, his smile turning hungrier. “I bet we could help each other.”

She started gently loading Twilight into the back seat. “I bet we could.”

“What about her?”

“Oh, she won’t mind, long as she gets her share.”

Apple Bloom got in next to him and snuggled close, giving him a good view as the car started rolling again. She could feel the cold, reassuring metal of the 9mm against her back. She’d had to let the other weapons go, sinking them forever into the bay. It had hurt to lose them, but there was no way she could have concealed them all wearing nothing but her underthings.

But a small automatic, that she could manage.

The street lights glanced off the pale band on the man’s finger. When he’d first stopped, he’d had a gold ring. He started turning the car left, heading towards a small motel.

“Gonna be a hell of a night,” he said.

Apple Bloom smiled as she reached behind her.

“Oh, Sweetie,” she purred, “you have no idea.”


While she had told her story, Apple Bloom had been helping Twilight drink small amounts of Crocaide. Twilight had to admit, even that small amount of food was helping.

Now, she stared at the younger girl, mouth open in sheer delight. “You didn’t!”

Apple Bloom grinned. “I sure did. His gun was in the glove box, so I had the drop on ‘im. Took ‘is wallet an’ told ‘im he had a choice: he could keep the car, or the ring. He picked the ring.”

“Smart man.”

“Not as smart as if he’d kept it on, but yeah. So, I covered you up in the back seat an’ did some emergency shoppin’, then got us here.” She gestured towards a wall. “I parked a ways away, in case th’ car’s deductible is more’n the cops’ finder’s fee. But probably, we got us a car, along with clothes, supplies, an’ a month’s rent paid in advance.”

Twilight frowned. “A month? Apple Bloom, we can’t stay still a week. How long before they start looking for us?”

Apple Bloom shrugged, rising from the bed. “Well, if they were different departments, I’d say a while. Agencies don’t get friendly with each other the way they used to. But since the cops run the prison, they’re likely out in force right now. We’ll need to wait a few days at least, maybe more.”

Twilight stared. “Days? Apple Bloom, you’ve got to go now.”

Apple Bloom whirled to face her. “What? I can’t leave you now!”

“You have to! I can’t believe I was this short-sighted...”

“Twilight--”

“If they find you—”

“No!”

“Apple Bloom, Listen to me!”

Apple Bloom stared at Twilight, seething, as the older girl went on, “Look. It’s only a matter of time before they ID us both. The motel manager will rat us out in a heartbeat when we hit the news. I’m a target no matter what, but you still have options. And if you’re going to keep them, you’ve got to be gone before the police get here. You’ve got to leave, now!”

“No, I don’t!” Apple Bloom turned, leaned a hand on the wall. “Dammit, Twilight, I’m tellin’ you, it’s okay!”

“We’re wanted felons for mass murder, and one of us is an invalid! How is this okay?!?”

“I worked out a deal with the manager! So we’re fine, okay? We’re fine!”

“How?” Twilight demanded. “What kind of deal did--?”

Then, she stopped.

“Apple Bloom?”

Apple Bloom stood with her back to Twilight, her arms crossed protectively around herself.

Twilight’s voice was soft. “Apple Bloom?” she said again.

But Apple Bloom just shook her head, refusing to look at her. She went into the kitchenette, and in a few moments the sound of running water could be heard, and then the smell of coffee began to fill the room.

Twilight stared at the ceiling.

“God damn it,” she said.

She closed her eyes in pain.

“God damn it.”


Canterlot Correctional Facility was one of the few island prisons left in the country, only recently brought out of retirement and renovated for modern use. It had never been beautiful, but over a century of neglect, abuse, and water damage had done little to improve the place. A few wings had been added, such as the infirmary wing, planting grey concrete slabs next to dark stone and mortar.

Normally, the place had a dank, musty smell throughout, with a constant undercurrent of unwashed bodies and backed-up sewage. Water ran in rivulets down the walls when it rained, gathering in black pools on the uneven floors and rendering the lowest levels completely unusable for the flooding. But now, it smelled worse than it ever had, its normal odors mixing with the charnel stench of mutilated corpses, gunpowder, and charred flesh.

Police Commissioner Shining Armor walked through the blood-stained halls, hands in his coat pockets, ignoring the stench of death as best he could. All around him, CSI worked like a swarm of hornets, collecting specimens, tagging locations, setting up lasers and taking photographs. All of them whispering, when they spoke at all, the same question, over and over.

How?

The numerous bullet-riddled corpses throughout the prison corridors and yard were not the mystery. Twilight Sparkle hadn’t broken out alone, and whoever was with her had been a crack shot. Apparently they’d raided the armory right after leaving the infirmary, with Sparkle’s accomplice grabbing pistols, shotguns, tear gas, and even an assault rifle. And she’d been incredibly efficient with all of them. More so than any one person had a right to be.

No, the mysteries were in the other deaths.

How? How did a highly-trained team of prison guards die from being crushed together, between the wall behind them and the bullet-proof shield of their Lead? How did their fellows die by the dozen immediately after, various sharp objects tearing completely through their bodies with the force of a bomb, yet with no sign of a propellant? How were the barred gates that separated the blocks, however ancient they might have been, forced open?

How, further away from the infirmary, did two pairs of guards come to turn their guns on one another, the bones in their hands and arms shattering in the process, while so many others were simply shot to death? How did the tower guards fall to their deaths as the escapees emerged from the main prison building? How did the prison choppers suddenly crash into vehicle blockades, granting the fugitives an almost clear shot to the pier?

Of course, none of these questions held any mystery for Shining Armor. He knew the answer perfectly well.

As he’d expected, the worst of the carnage was just in front of the infirmary itself. That was where they had clumped together so eagerly, thinking they’d had their prey cornered. Shining was glad for the Vicks he’d smeared under his nose as he made his way past the gore and into the medical room itself. CSI had already been there, of course. And, no doubt, they would present him with their preliminary findings sometime in the morning.

But as he took in the trail of blood drips on the tile floor, and the empty holster on the near-decapitated corpse, he already knew how the slaughter had started. Turning slightly, he observed the still-open infirmary doors. They hung crookedly on their hinges, having been expertly kicked in by large booted feet.

God damn you to Hell, Warden Brass Tacks, he thought.

Still, he couldn’t quite muster any real anger towards the man. Not when the warden’s corpse was mangled along with about thirty others by the piers; part of a desperate, last-ditch effort to stop forces they didn’t understand. But the last remaining prison chopper had hurled itself down from the sky, smashing itself into their midst. Those who’d survived had been machine-gunned down without mercy.

And once they’d reached the boat, the fugitives had simply vanished into the night.

Shining Armor was jolted out of his reverie by the approach of a young rookie, his normally sky blue countenance looking distinctly green around the gills. The kid had the look of someone who had volunteered to go further in, figuring that since his stomach had just emptied, he had nothing left to lose.

Yeah, Shining thought ruefully, we’re just gonna knock that ‘new’ right off of you, aren’t we?

But out loud, he said, “What you got?”

“We’ve identified the other escapee, sir,” the young man said. He handed the commissioner a manila folder.

Frowning, Shining Armor started leafing through the file. Towards the end, he stopped and stared.

Applejack, he realized. He flipped back to the front page, then shuffled through a few more.

This is her sister!

He stared at the file, then at the bloody trail leading out. Of course, he thought.

Friendship. Honesty.

Loyalty.

Thrusting the papers back into the young man’s hands, he whipped out his phone. A few seconds later, he was speaking.

“Yes, Your honor, I know it’s late... No, this can’t wait until morning... It’s about the Dash hearing, it has to be postponed... I realize that, but these are extreme circumstances... No, ma’am, I’m saying it isn’t safe to hold it at this time... I don’t know how long... Yes, Your Honor, I understand the plaintiff’s rights... Regardless, you need to understand, I cannot guarantee... No, you need to understand, the lives of yourself and everyone else in that courtroom will be in danger... Yes... Yes, of course...”

He took a deep breath, saying, “Yes, Your Honor, I do. I’d just hoped you would listen to reason.” Then, the connection was broken with a quiet, anticlimactic beep.

Sighing, Shining Armor put his phone away. The gods must love fools, he thought. They certainly made a lot of them.

Then, he looked at the far wall, towards the shore line and the city beyond it. He had lied to himself before, he realized, when he’d said he wasn’t trying to protect his sister. He’d raced through the city streets like a maniac, practically forced his pilot into the air at gunpoint. But despite his best efforts, he’d been too late.

Again.

But this time, he told himself, it would be different. This time, he knew where Twilight was going to be, probably even before she did. This time, he would talk to her, make her see reason. And if that didn’t work...

He narrowed his eyes. She would listen to him. She had to.

Just hang on, Twily, he thought. This time, I’m going to save you. From the gangs. From the police.

And if needs be, from yourself.

Author's Note:

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Ending Credits: Enter the Dark Side, by Body Count. (Audio = NSFW)