• Published 16th Apr 2019
  • 700 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.

  • ...

Episode 4. Rainbooms: Killing Strangers.

It was the following day, nearing 2pm. Apple Bloom drove the new car uneasily. The streets were even worse than she remembered. She could only imagine what it must have looked like to Twilight.

Mercifully, the theft had gone off without a hitch. There had been several other cars that would have been easier to get, but Twilight had insisted it had to be a ‘high-end smart car,’ whatever that meant. So, now Apple Bloom was maneuvering a brand spankin’ new Evade Warsteed with practiced ease through the busy streets, her identity concealed through expert use of body paint and hair dye. Apparently, Twi’s experience as a cosplayer had its perks.

Neither of them mentioned the fire-headed girl who had gotten her into cosplaying, back in high school. Some ghosts were best left undisturbed.

It was just under ten miles to the courthouse, and in broad daylight. But Apple Bloom had already seen several shootings and a gunfight between the cops and the Sons of Sombra. Which meant something like five people dead in the space of an hour. Twice that many wounded.

And outside of them as got shot, nobody seemed to care.

Ahead, the light turned green. Apple Bloom was able to move around a car’s length before the crash of breaking glass and bending steel from maybe twenty feet ahead overrode everything. Traffic stopped for only a moment. Then the cars started zig-zagging crazily around one another, trying to get past the collision that partially blocked the intersection, sometimes scraping each other as they did.

Apple Bloom half-stood in her vehicle, her upper torso rising out through the driver’s side window, one hand on the roof for support.

“What the hell are you doing?” Twilight’s voice hissed in her ear. “Get down before you attract someone’s attention!”

“Twi, you seein’ this?”

“I see you trying to blow your cover!”

“Ain’t that unusual, what I’m doin’. An’ anyway, eyes ahead.”

Several car lengths ahead of her, it was evident that some unlucky soul had side-swiped a cop car. The driver was on the ground in a fetal position, clutching at his eyes. The cop was kicking him repeatedly in the ribs, mace can still clenched in one hand.

“He’s gonna kill ‘im, Twilight.”

“Apple Bloom, if you get stopped now, or even spotted, the whole plan is ruined!” Apple Bloom could hear the agony in her friend’s voice over the Bluetooth she wore. “This is our only chance to get her out of there!”

In the motel room bed, Twilight lay propped up by multiple pillows, a keyboard in her lap. Various screens surrounded her on chairs and cardboard boxes, showing different scenes that she cycled through with ease. Traffic cameras, news broadcasts, hospital security cameras. On the wall, the TV was tuned to Channel 8 News, showing live coverage from outside the courthouse.

“The hearing starts in three minutes,” Twilight said. “And this is Rainbow Dash. It won’t last long. And I still have to get the rest of the team there!”

Apple Bloom’s voice was crisp and clear over the headset Twilight wore. “I won’t get caught, and it’ll get me there faster.”

Biting her lower lip, Twilight stared at the news channels, the traffic footage, the clock.

“Twilight, I can’t just do nuthin’.”

There was the briefest hesitation, then Twilight nodded, fingers moving rapidly across her keyboard.

“Alright,” she said. “Cameras are off. Do it.”

Apple Bloom leaned on the horn, jerking the wheel and stomping on the accelerator as she did. The Evade swerved into the opposing lane, other vehicles swerving onto the shoulder or even into each other, startled by the sudden move.

“Stay behind the police car,” Twilight warned. “We don’t need you on dash cam.”

“Ain’t my first rodeo, Twi,” Apple Bloom muttered. “I got this.”

The cop car was facing her left, about two-thirds through the intersection. As she rolled up, she could hear the cop shouting as he kicked the man at his feet, “…but, no! You had to go! And fucking hit! My car! You ass-head…!”

Apple Bloom leaned out the window slightly. “Need some help there, sugar?”:

The cop’s head jerked up and he half turned, a snarl already forming on his lips. Then the gun in Apple Bloom’s hand spoke once, and there was a black spot on his forehead, blood oozing from it down his face.

As the cop’s body slumped to its knees, and then over to one side, the beaten man’s family rushed out of the car. A middle-aged woman – probably his wife – grabbed his shoulders while shouting frantic instructions to a pair of teenaged girls to help with his legs, loading him into the passenger seat as quickly as they could.

But by then Apple Bloom was on her way, taking a right and moving onto the bridge, accelerating towards highway speeds.

“All done, Twilight,” she said. “I’m outta range.”

“Cameras on,” Twilight replied. “Let’s hope no one noticed.”

“Had to be done, Twi.”

“No, it didn’t. But it was the right call. I just hope we didn’t make this a whole lot harder.”

In the courthouse security room, Shining Armor paced, surrounded by police technicians manning a dozen different monitors. When the phone in his hand rang he answered immediately.


“Sir? We just had a camera outage reported at Wells and forty-sixth. “

“Anything called in?”

“No, sir. And the cameras are back on again. But it looks like we have an officer down.”

“Good work. Get an ambulance there ASAP.”

“Yes, sir.”

Shining Armor hung up and pulled out a radio. When he spoke, his voice was sharp and clear.

“Captain, get your team ready.”

“We’re ready now.”

“Good. Just make sure you keep out of sight until I give the word. Your targets are on their way.”

“Roger that.”

The courthouse was not an ancient structure. It had been built mostly of concrete and white stone, with a kind of courtyard in front and parking in back, the whole surrounded by a short concrete wall surmounted by a high iron fence.

Channel 8 had its van just inside the gate, some newswoman or other giving the customary blather to the camera while she stood on the courthouse steps. Other news vans were parked nearby, their anchors apparently lacking the connections to get quite so close.

There were police everywhere outside, of course, just as there would have been on any day. But with the appeals hearing of Rainbow Dash making such headlines, the place should have been practically swarming with them. Instead, it was as if it were just another day at court. Above, a chopper made lazy circles through the air, the only acknowledgement of additional concern.

The cops hadn’t quite put the word ‘TRAP’ across the building in big neon letters, but they might as well have.

Sighing, Apple Bloom wiped her gun clean and stowed it under the seat, just in case she could reclaim it later. Then, she took a deep breath, got into character, and opened the door.

Throughout the USE, the law had become a Janus, a two-faced guardian of what was and what would be. Always relied upon, but never to be trusted. A servant to whomever could afford its price and a destroyer or anything and anyone who dared defy its power, or even got in its way. Word had it that it was worse in Canterlot than just about anywhere else.

But regardless, the courthouse was its ultimate temple.

Slowly, Apple Bloom mounted the marble stairs towards the giant Roman columns of the building’s cleaner face, a defiler in the house of an unholy god. The pillars looked straight out of the Pantheon. The steel doors behind them looked straight out of a bank. Or a prison.

As she entered, the sudden blast of air conditioning made her blink. Most everything inside was white with sky blue accents, marble, stone, and gold. The floors, the walls, the hall dome. The only exceptions were the wooden pieces: trim around the walls and high ceiling, on the railing of the walkway that circled the hall above, on the circular security station that lay in the hall’s center. All made from fine oak, stained and polished to a dark shine.

Even the security checkpoints, with their metal detectors and x-ray conveyors, were new and pristine. Each one was run by a brand new laptop, colored a pleasing blue grey as if to assure all who entered that this was a place of safety and support, of sanctuary from the storm.

The air smelled mildly of dust and old wood, and below that, of pine oil and bleach. But in the building’s other side was its other face: the jail and the processing center. Apple Bloom knew from firsthand experience that the sights and smells there were very different, indeed.

It wasn’t easy being patient. Old fears she had tried to forget rose again, threatened to strangle her. But Twilight was counting on her. And if she faltered, the law would know she was there... and its priests would not hesitate in her sacrifice.

Slowly, with a deliberate calm, she moved further into their midst.

Outside, the newscast was just wrapping up for a commercial break. Various people were entering and leaving the courthouse: attorneys, people with tickets or tags to pay, even an old woman with a walker, being assisted by a police officer through the heavy steel doors.

“…said by some to be the trial of the century,” the anchorwoman said. “A notorious member of the gang once known as ‘the Rainbooms,’ Rainbow Dash was arrested three years ago during an assassination attempt against then-decorated police officer Shining Armor.

“In the resulting trial, Rainbow Dash was convicted of one count of attempted murder, and a staggering three hundred eighty-seven counts of first degree murder, promptly sending her to death row.”

Gesturing towards a zebra-striped attorney entering behind her, she went on, “Since then, her legal team has been filing appeal after appeal, citing claims of mishandled and fabricated evidence, police perjury, and even challenging the definition of ‘first degree murder’ itself as used during her trial.

“Today marks Dash’s final appeal before her scheduled execution, only days away. In a few short moments, we’ll be allowed back into the courtroom and we’ll find out once and for all if Rainbow Dash will go home a happy woman… or a dead one.

“And now… this.”

There was a moment’s pause while she simply stood, smiling.

“Aaaand, we’re clear,” the cameraman said.

The newswoman slumped slightly, lowering her mic. “Oh, thank God.”

He grinned, lowering his camera. “More action than you can take, huh?”

“Bite me.”

Rundown shook her head, tapping a cigarette from her pack. Lighting up, she said, “I don’t even know what the fuck I did to get this assignment. Trial of the century my ass.”

Blowing out a plume of smoke, she added, “That bitch is guilty as a cat in a goldfish bowl. Everybody knows it. And three days from now, she’s going to fry until her brain looks like one of your mom’s omelets.”

Nat Sound grinned as he accepted the cigarette. “You missed your calling. Shoulda been a poet.”

While he drew off her cig, she rolled her eyes. “My point is, none of this is news. We should be covering the election fraud. Or police violence. Or, fuck, even just the gangs. ”

Crossing her arms, she turned back to look at the courthouse. “Christ, what I’d give for some fucking action.”

In the security room, Shining Armor continued watching the closed circuit screens over the shoulders of the security staff.

Suddenly, he jabbed a finger at one of the screens, exclaiming, “There! That’s her!”

The techie nearest him turned to him in puzzlement. “Sir, that’s an old woman with a walker. Surely you don’t mean—”

But Shining was already talking into the radio.

“Target sighted,” he said. “Station five, with the walker. Remember, subject is considered armed and extremely dangerous. Fast and hard, people.”

While the police mobilized and surrounded the alleged senior citizen, he had to shake his head a little in regret.

He’d known there was no way that Twilight was going to be up to breaking out Rainbow Dash in person. But just as obviously, there was no way she wouldn’t try a break-out while Dash was away from maximum security. Which meant relying on her new accomplice, Apple Bloom.

A young woman who, being herself a wanted fugitive, would have to enter incognito. And, being both young and inexperienced in such things outside of a few high school plays, she would have to play a role she was intimately familiar with.

An old woman with green skin and white hair, on a walker. Of course Apple Bloom would try to fool the police in the guise of her grandmother. She would think it was the perfect cover, both clever and ironic. And Twilight would have helped with the makeup, perfecting the disguise.

In a way, he’d almost been hoping Twilight would try something else. The choice was obvious, once you read Apple Bloom’s files. But after three years in a coma, plus the strain of their prison break, he supposed some damage was to be expected.

Shining Armor pushed the thought away with a shudder. Bad enough she’d fallen as much as she had. Loss of intellect was something he wished on no one, especially his little sister.

Then, watching the screen, he frowned.

“SWAT team, stay on alert,” he said into the radio. “Something’s wrong.”

When the officers had grabbed the green woman, all pretense of being aged or infirm had vanished at once. Screaming and cursing, she’d swung at several of them even as she was borne down. Now, there were five officers trying to secure various limbs – and one with an arm around her throat – with two more nearby holding Tasers and a SWAT team running in with shotguns.

After the initial shock had worn away, most of the other civilians had gone about their business – though certainly keeping their distance from the fracas – or simply pulled out cell phones and started recording. But a few had been in mid-process when the melee had started, and were waiting to finish being cleared to enter the courthouse proper.

Among these last was a woman in a tan skirt and blazer, with black-and-white striped skin and grey hair streaked with white.

“Is this going to take a while?” she asked. “I have clients awaiting trial.”

The red-skinned cop who had been clearing her glanced away briefly from the dogpile to consider her: high heels, business suit, briefcase. He shrugged. She’d already been through the detectors, and the case just had pens and folders.

He handed over her briefcase from the conveyor. “Yeah, you’re fine. Just stay out of trouble.”

“Thank you. Will do.”

He watched her as she approached the stairs towards the courtrooms with mild irritation. Stripy bitch. He hated it when they rhymed. Then he turned his attention back to the pile of officers on top of the shrieking fugitive. She could clearly be heard from beneath the struggling bodies, screaming, “Let go of my motherfucking neck you motherfucking mother-fuckers…!”

Climbing the stairs, Apple Bloom said quietly, “Well. That sure as hell worked.”

Twilight’s voice came over the Bluetooth clearly as she replied, “I told you they’d be expecting you to go in as Granny Smith.”

“Sure, but couldn’t I have just worn a wig or somethin’ then? If the cops’d frisked me, the paint job wouldn’t have held up.”

“That’s why you went in as a lawyer. Granted, it was a calculated risk having you impersonate Zecora,” Twilight admitted. “Chromism does tend to show an increase during times of unrest and economic stress. But Shining will also be watching the cameras for you or anyone like you. Zacora was the only person you knew well enough to impersonate, who also had a radically different appearance and wouldn’t be in your files.”

“An’ the gal we paid t’dress up like Granny?”

“There’s no law I know of against impersonating the elderly. Granted, she is resisting arrest. And, um, assaulting officers. But she’ll also have the best attorneys we can get her.”

“Uh-huh. An’ how good is that?”

“Well, they used to be the Rainbooms’ lawyers, so pretty good. Which reminds me, they’re defending Rainbow Dash now, so try to keep them alive.”

“No problem.”

“I’m almost ready. Where are you?”

“Top of the stairs.”

“Can you hold that position safely?

“Uh-huh.” Putting her case down by the stairs, Apple Bloom took a small note pad and a greyish pen out of her jacket pockets and began pantomiming as though she were writing.

On the ground floor of the courthouse, the checkpoint cops continued watching their fellows gang-wrestle the woman beneath them into submission. Most were laughing and joking, and a few were making bets. Meanwhile, the laptop at the checkpoint Apple Bloom had gone through continued to quietly load Twilight’s virus. It would have been almost impossible to slip the tiny USB into the laptop’s port without ‘Granny’ as a distraction. Having her jumped by multiple police at once, screaming blue murder the whole time, had made it almost easy.

“Back door is opening,” Twilight said. “Accessing… annnnnnnd, I’m in. Full access pending, but I’ve got cameras. Okay. Take a left, and then another left.”

Apple Bloom began to jog, leaving the case behind. “Movin’.”

“Be quick. SWAT is mobilizing. Shining’s figured out the decoy.”

Over the connection, Apple Bloom could hear the rapid clicking of Twilight’s keyboard.

“They’re partway up the stairs, but they’re being cautious. Especially about your briefcase. You have maybe sixty seconds. Less, once shots are fired.”

Apple Bloom said nothing. Instead, stylus and note pad still in hand, she put on a puzzled look for the female officer leaning against the wall to the right of the door at the end of the hall. To either side of the cop, the corridor branched into a T-intersection, with occasional passers-by far too distracted by their own concerns to spare Apple Bloom a glance as she approached.

“I was told the hearing would be at one,” she said. “Surely it has not already begun?”

The cop half-turned towards the room, opening her mouth to speak, when Apple Bloom leaped forward. The gangster’s arm locked around the other woman’s neck in a choke hold, turning her the rest of the way around.

The officer’s gun was out of its holster when Apple Bloom pressed the penlike device against the cop’s kidney and depressed the button at its top. The powerful spring within shot a four-inch plastic spike into the other woman’s body.

The officer’s limbs flailed for only a moment. Nearby, someone screamed.

Another officer rounded a nearby corner and froze for the barest of instants, taking in the scene before him. The striped woman with a dead cop’s weapon, the body lying at her feet.

Apple Bloom dropped her new target with a single shot, then spun and dropped her second as another cop ran out of the men’s room down the hall, hurriedly stuffing his shirt into his pants. Bystanders in all directions were crouching in terror or had just flung themselves to the ground. Meanwhile, from the stairs behind and below her, Apple Bloom heard a voice call, “Shots fired! Go, go, go!”

“Ten seconds,” Twilight said. “But I have full control… now.”

Every alarm in the ground floor went off at once as the sprinkler system activated with a deluge of water throughout the halls, reducing visibility to maybe five feet… or, if you were wearing a visor, none at all. Almost immediately, footing both upstairs and downstairs became precarious at best. The main hall quickly turned into a vast, shallow pond beneath a continual torrent while every stairway became a waterfall from the rivers that were forming in the hallways above.

Simultaneously, every electronic door locked, even as a series of security gates descended from the ceiling, blocking off both sets of stairs from the entry hall and dividing the building into smaller sections along the corridors. The SWAT team found themselves sealed between the stairs and another gate, barring them from the courtrooms.

And finally, police communication became impossible, every radio and earpiece suddenly being jammed. Officers and civilians alike had to scream to be heard by those nearby. Panic and pandemonium began to take hold throughout the building.

And through it all, Shining Armor could only watch with growing frustration as, one by one, every screen in the security room turned purple, and began drawing a golden horseshoe flying upwards, trailing a rainbow like a comet’s tail.

The Rainbooms’ gang tag.

Back on the second floor, Apple Bloom could hear the grin in Twilight’s voice as she added, “And now all of their systems… are belong to me.”

Apple Bloom grinned, as well. “For great justice,” she said. Then she focused back on the matter at hand. She gave the cop on the other side enough time to approach, and then she kicked down the courtroom door.

Author's Note:

Ending Credits: Killing Strangers, by Marilyn Manson. (Audio = NSFW)