• 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.

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Episode 9. Rainbooms: Sweet Child of Mine.

“Okay, so, we up for a planning session?” Rainbow Dash finally asked. “I mean, hunkering down is great, but we gotta have a next step, you know?”

Apple Bloom nodded. “Yeah. Like taking the fight t’them, right? We cain’t just keep runnin’…”

“We’ll take the fight to them,” Twilight agreed. “All of them. But not in the way you’re probably thinking.”

The other women looked at her quizzically as she took another sip of Crocaide.

“We aren’t fighting the Sirens anymore,” Twilight said, shaking her head. “But Canterlot is worse than ever, and from what I can gather it’s spilled out across the rest of the world. I can’t tell how much of what’s going on now is a holdover from Siren magic. They got too powerful for anyone to be sure. After all, bringing out the worst in others and feeding on the results… it’s what they did. And by the end, they were doing it on a national scale, maybe more.

“But what I do know is that we can’t use that as an excuse. None of us can, for anything. It’s too easy, too damn dangerous. Plus, we’re not fighting magical monsters anymore. We’re fighting regular people now, and we’ve got magic that they don’t. That gives us a higher degree of responsibility.”

Rainbow Dash frowned. “How come?”

“Philosophical imperatives aside, it isn’t just Canterlot we’ve got to take back. Whether or not we were under the Sirens’ influence magically, we’ve all done things we regret.

“So, we’ve got to take back ourselves, as well.”

She paused, letting her words sink in before continuing.

“We’ve all been dealing with what we’ve done as best we can. And we’ll keep doing that. But it’s imperative that we realize that we’re not in that situation anymore. Plus, we need to be sure that we’re doing what we do because of us, not because of some lingering after-effect of the Sirens’ magic. So, I think it’s time for some new rules.

“So. Rule number one: no more killing. Starting today. Right now.”

“Wait,” Rainbow Dash interjected. “Just what the hell are we supposed to use against guns and SWAT teams? Harsh language?”

“Cain’t guarantee no deaths with a gun,” Apple Bloom added. “Not on either side.”

“Yeah,” Rainbow Dash agreed. “Meanwhile, there are more of them than us, and they’re way better trained! Even with magic…”

Twilight shook her head slightly against her pillow. “I’ve already thought of all that. And you’re right, the police and the gangs do outnumber us. But this time, we’ll be the ones better equipped. Without our being kept too busy for anything but constant street war, I should be able to establish a new lab. I’ve got some ideas for non-lethal weaponry that should make the difference.”

Then she smiled a little, adding, “Well, that and magic, of course.”

While Rainbow Dash nodded and Pinkie Pie looked more uncomfortable by the moment, Apple Bloom looked down.

“Um, Twilight?” she said. “I ain’t got magic. Never did, never will. What am I s’posed to do?”

“Apple Bloom...”

At the sound of her name, the teen looked up, to see Twilight giving her a sad and loving smile.

“None of this would have been possible without you,” Twilight said softly. “Without you, I couldn’t have escaped. Without you, Pinkie would have been overpowered and gunned down by cops in a head-on assault. And Rainbow Dash would have been sent back to a solitary cell, awaiting execution. We all owe you our lives. And I want to repay that debt.

“I can get you a ticket to anywhere. Under any name you want.”


“I can establish you in a new life, with a new past…”

“No!” Apple Bloom insisted. “I gotta debt t’pay, too! They killed Applejack, Granny, an’ Big Mac! I ain’t leavin’ ‘till I get things square.”

“And when will that be?” Pinkie’s voice asked softly.

The other three turned to face her as she stared at them all with huge, sad eyes.

“You already hunted down the cops that killed the Apples,” the pink girl said, hugging her knees. “How many more will it take? Or… or do you just keep doing it, until your luck runs out? Do we make one last run, to get your body back? Do we bury you next to your family?”

Squeezing her eyes shut, she looked away, adding, “Because I don’t want that. And I don’t think they would, either.”

For a moment, Apple Bloom glared at her, and it looked like she was going to argue. Then, she looked down with a sigh.

“Anyplace you want,” Twilight said gently. “Start over. Please.”

But the younger woman just shook her head, still looking down. “I ain’t leavin’ ya in the lurch. That ain’t happenin’.”


“No,” Apple Bloom said again. “I’m with ya ‘till the end. Y’all just need t’come to peace with that. An’ I dunno when that debt gets paid. But… but, you’re right. None of ‘em’d want…”

Apple Bloom’s voice trailed off, and, reluctantly, Twilight nodded.

“Alright,” she said. “But the nanosecond you change your mind…”

“Yeah, I know.” Apple Bloom swallowed. Then, turning to the pink girl, she added, “An’ Pinkie?”

Pinkie Pie blinked quizically.

Apple Bloom gave a reluctant smile. “Thank you.”

Pinkie nodded, still sniffling, as Apple Bloom hugged her, and let go of her legs long enough to hug her back.

“Okay, I do have some ideas for equipment that might make up for a lack of magic,” Twilight said, “but that can wait. Right now… Pinkie?”

Still holding Apple Bloom, Pinkie Pie looked away.

Rainbow Dash frowned in concern. “Pinkie Pie?”

“Guys,” the pink girl sniffed, “my magic is for parties. For making people laugh. I can’t do this anymore. I’m sorry, I really am, but I just can’t…”

“You don’t have to,” Twilight said. She reached out to Pinkie Pie, who tearfully took Twilight’s emaciated hand in one of her own, still holding onto Apple Bloom with the other while the younger girl hugged her tighter.

”You never should have been part of this in the first place,” Twilight said. “None of us wanted this, but you were against it from the beginning. And even with that, you’ve already done more than anyone had any right to ask of you. And of all of us, I think you’ve suffered the most.”

While Pinkie continued sniffling, Twilight squeezed her hand as well as she could.

“Hey. Hey, it’s okay,” Twilight said. “Look, your folks should still be in Germany. I can get you plane tickets, if you want. And I know where the village they moved to is. You could go there, be with your family. Get some rest.”

Tearfully, Pinkie nodded.

“Then it’s settled,” Twilight smiled. “You’re leaving tonight. I’ll get you tickets, run interference for you until you’re out of the country.”

Embracing Pinkie from behind, Rainbow Dash added, “Hey. Cheer up, Pinks. You saved me! You saved all of us!”

And then, she added softly, “And nobody’s forgetting that, especially me.”

There were several more minutes of silent embraces, until finally the young women separated slightly, with Rainbow Dash leaning on one side of Pinkie Pie, and Apple Bloom leaning on the other.

“Anyway,” Twilight said at last, “that brings me to rule number two: no more recruiting. This isn’t a gang war. We went down that road once, and I don’t think any of us want to do that again.”

Then she sighed, ran her hand through her hair. “But we can’t do nothing, either. So--”

“Wait,” Rainbow interrupted. “What about what you were telling Shining Armor? You know, about us having two choices and stuff?”

Twilight stared. “Oh, my God. You heard that?”

Apple Bloom looked uncomfortable. “Y’left the channel open.”

“Though, in your defence, you were pretty exhausted,” Pinkie observed. “It’s not a shock you were passed out by the time we got to you.”

Then, after a pause, she added, “Hey, did you know you snore?”

Twilight covered her face for several moments, then finally looked up again.

“Okay. I’m not proud of what I said then. And, God, I said it to Shining…!”

She lapsed into silence, then finally said, “I wish I’d said it differently, but I was exhausted and freaked out, and…”

She shook her head. “Okay, no. No more excuses.”

Twilight took a deep breath, let it out.

“I should have said it differently,” she said. “Especially to my brother. But the core of what I said was true. The cops in this town have become another gang. The most dangerous one, really. They have the most resources and the greatest degree of public consent, even with their own criminal acts. Plus governmental backing.

“And we are hunted women, all of us. Which means if we don’t take control of the situation, we’re just going to die tired and scared. But while we may be fighting the cops from time to time, they aren’t the main concern. It’s the street gangs we have to take down, along with the corruption that allowed all this to happen.”

Her eyes narrowed as she concluded, “The Canterlot Gang War is over. We’re not bringing it back.”

Rainbow Dash frowned. “Wait. You just said we’re taking down the gangs… but we’re not fighting them?”

“Yeah,” Apple Bloom frowned. “Jus’ what the hell are we doin’?”

“Oh, we’ll take the gangs down, all right,” Twilight assured them. “But this isn’t a gang war.”

At their looks of confusion, Twilight smiled, though the hardness in her eyes and voice did not waver.

“This is a revolution.”

After the courthouse fiasco, Shining Armor had managed to keep it together until he’d gotten home, waving the press off as he’d gotten into his car and sped away. He remembered that much. But after that point, everything was kind of a blur.

He had vague memories of flinging open his door, of throwing things, of screaming and punching the walls. His hands were bloody from where he’d punched the mirror before him, leaving what glass remained fractured and warped.

Then, his anger flowing out from him, he’d finally just collapsed on the couch in tears, falling quickly into an exhausted sleep. He’d only awakened when he’d suddenly jackknifed up, choking on bile, the last images of his nightmares fading from his mind.

Now, Shining Armor stood at the bathroom sink, still drained from his earlier fury, his nausea for the most part spent.

Despite everything he’d tried and everything he’d done, Twilight was gone.

You’re the enemy, Shining.

Stay the hell out of our way.

Shaking, he squeezed his eyes shut.

That was it.

He’d lost her.

During the gang war, Cadence had left Canterlot, taking Flurry with her. And that had made sense, he’d told himself. She’d been protecting herself, and she’d been protecting the baby. They’d parted angrily, sure. But it had been temporary, and it had been for the best. He’d told himself that, again and again.

But then, the Sirens had destroyed Canterlot High, killing most of the people within. Some of the dead had been friends of his, people he’d gone to school with at Crystal Prep before they’d become faculty at CHS. But mostly, they’d been friends of Twily and her fellow Rainbooms.

The Rainbooms had changed tactics then, fighting fire with fire. And he’d changed with them, walking a delicate line between gangster and cop. He’d moved his parents out of town around then, trying to make sure Cadie had the support she’d needed while keeping them all out of the splash zone. And they’d been glad to go, to get away from the gangsters they’d felt they didn’t know anymore. His sister, and him.

The last time he and his wife had talked, it had been after the explosion that had killed Rich Hues and almost killed Twilight. And, inevitably, they’d fought again. The war was over now, and he’d wanted her to come home.

But to her, Tailahassee had become home. Even as Canterlot had become a dangerous place to raise a family, and Twilight had become a criminal. Much as it had hurt her to say it, the Rainbooms had made their life’s decisions, and it was time for him to move on. She’d asked him to quit his job, move up north where the rest of the family was.

Somehow, Cadence hadn’t understood that even then, leaving hadn’t been an option for him. Whether she wouldn’t understand that, or just couldn’t, he had no idea. But without his influence, Rainbow Dash would have died in her cell, just another murdered convict to be forgotten. And Twilight, his baby sister, would have been killed in her sleep.

And he knew he could have gotten Cadie to understand, if they could have just talked about it. But somehow, when he’d tried to tell all that to his wife, he’d just ended up screaming instead. He could still hear Flurry crying in the background, his wife begging him with tears in her voice.

He couldn’t even remember who’d hung up. Maybe they both had. He just remembered them yelling at each other, and then feeling emptied out afterwards, holding a dead phone in his hand.

That had been three years ago.

And now, Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash were loose again. They’d broken Pinkie Pie out, as well. All of them armed with a magic that the police just weren’t equipped to handle, aided by Apple Bloom as a new, deadly first recruit.

The Canterlot Gang Wars had started all over again. And it was all because of him.

He stood there for several moments, alone, hands to either side of the sink and eyes squeezed tight against the tears. Everything he’d lost, he’d sacrificed to keep his sister safe. And now, in all the ways that mattered, he had lost her, too.

He could feel himself falling. It was as if the ground had crumbled beneath him, leaving no place to stand. Everything was just falling away, until only darkness remained.

Shaking, he brought his eyes up again, stared at his visage in the mirror’s shards still clinging to their frame.

Broken glass is incredibly sharp, he thought.

It would be so easy.

He saw his sunken cheeks, the dark-ringed eyes burned into his face, the stubble formed above the crumpled collar of his shirt. The wrinkled coat. The badge hanging from its chain around his neck.

He stopped.

I spent months without this thing, he thought. Only when the Rainbooms went down did I put it on again. I’d always thought of it as an amulet, a charm I could use to protect people. And when the dust had settled, my family and friends had never needed a protector more.

I kept telling myself, I was using it to keep them safe. And when I got promoted, it just got more powerful. I could do more with it, protect them better than ever before…

He lifted up the badge, feeling the weight of the gold in its leather case.

So… when did it get so heavy?

Looking back, it had probably stopped being a talisman around when Cadence had truly left him, at the end of that last, fateful call. Not all at once, of course. But with her gone, as the nights had gotten longer and lonelier and the days more crowded and hopeless, he’d felt more and more like some damned Ancient Mariner. A cursed interloper, doomed to live forever alone in penance for his sins. And his badge, the constant reminder of his failures.

But looking at the broken reflection before him, he realized he’d been wrong. The badge he wore had never been a talisman of protection, nor a burden to bear.

It was a promise. It was a commitment to uphold the law.

Shining Armor seized on that new revelation like a man in quicksand clutching at an overhead vine, pulling himself into the certainty he needed. It was all he had left now, and he held it close with a desperation he didn’t know he’d had. It was his last foundation, his final source of light against the darkness.

When Commissioner Armor finally raised his head again, the fractured man before him was strangely composed. Determined. His breathing was almost steady again, his eyes and voice almost calm, his eyes hardened with new resolve.

“I’m sorry, Twilight,” he said. “But I never got out of your way.”

Author's Note:

Ending Credits: Sweet Child of Mine, by Guns N Roses.