• Published 11th Feb 2021
  • 1,627 Views, 53 Comments

A Woman Worth Saving - Undome Tinwe

In a city as corrupt as it is beautiful, Detective Rarity searches for her missing lover, Officer Twilight Sparkle, with the help of her former mentor, Celestia.

  • ...

Chapter Five: A Woman Worth Saving


Rarity had no idea where Cadance was, and attracting her attention or that of her goons would have been very, very bad, so all she could do was hiss out her beloved's name and hope that Twilight would hear her.

Fortunately, Twilight's ears were sensitive enough that she turned to meet Rarity's gaze, her eyes widening in surprise. "Rarity?" Then, a look of absolute panic flashed across her face. "No no no no no, you can't be here."

Rarity smiled, cutting off her ramblings. "Until the end, I did say. And so, here I am." In truth, despite her teasing tone, Rarity was also fighting her own urge to panic and run. This was far beyond her depth, and now they were in the lion's den.

But she'd meant what she'd said. If Twilight was here, then so would she stand by her as well, no matter how scared she was.

"You were supposed to head to the safe house." Twilight's tone was accusatory now, the hysteria beginning to wear off. "That's what the contingency plan was."

"You tricked me into believing you had been kidnapped," Rarity snapped. "Did you really think so little of me that you thought I wouldn't do everything in my power to try to rescue you? I may enjoy playing the part of the damsel, but I know when the time for games has passed."

"I'm sorry." At least the contrition in Twilight's eyes seemed true. "I didn't want you here to see this."

"See what?" Rarity demanded. "What are you doing here? You recognized one of the companies on the list I faxed over, didn't you?"

Twilight nodded. "Crystal Emporium. I remembered that it was originally owned by Cadance's parents. At that point, I cross-referenced my memories of all the times Cadance had to miss a meeting with me with reports related to Nightmare Moon's activities and combined that with the redacted reports on Luna's criminal past. Everything became pretty clear after that."

"I see." Rarity paused. "So, you know that Luna was Nightmare Moon as well?" At least that would save her some unpleasant explanations — the truth was already rotten enough without having to force it on Twilight at this moment.

"Yeah." Her lover's smile didn't reach her eyes. "I guess now we know what happened during the reorganization period. My sister-in-law was consolidating her power after her aunt died."

The bitterness in her voice nearly made Rarity flinch. "So, what do you mean to do with this information?" she asked, her heart pounding as she waited for the answer.

"Today's the anniversary of Shining Armor's death," Twilight explained. "I know Cadance comes here alone every year to pay her respects." She tilted the revolver in her hand so that the light of the moon glinted off of it with a sinister shine. "I can end this now, before she hurts anyone else."

So, Rarity's worst fears had come true. Twilight Sparkle was about to make history repeat herself. "Please, Twilight," she begged, "don't do this."

She took a step forward, and Twilight backed away, guilt in her eyes. "I have to," she said. "This is the only way to keep you safe. Nightmare Moon won't hurt me, but when she finds out you're the leak, she's going to come after you unless she's eliminated from the equation."

Undeterred, Rarity took another step closer. "Think about what you're saying. You're talking about killing Cadance, for sun's sakes! The two of you swore you'd save lives, not take them!" Fear and anger blended together in her voice as she forced herself to keep her voice low and prevent them from being spotted by the woman inside the house.

Twilight's voice hardened as she frowned. "And Cadance already betrayed her vows." She met Rarity's gaze with her own look of steely determination, one that spoke of a familiar pain and bitterness she had seen in her before. "Everything I tried to do, all the lives I saved, none of it matters because of her. I kept trying to do the right thing, kept believing in Celestia's teachings even when she disappeared on me."

She raised her gun, pointing it towards the window. "Why bother to do things the right way when Cadance obviously gave up right from the start and got so much farther than me?"

"If you do this, all the evidence we've collected will be for nothing," Rarity said. "You'll be compromised, and the rest of the Nightmares we've been after will go free."

Twilight snorted. "They'll walk anyways. Cadance has half the judges on her payroll, and her lieutenants can scare the rest into doing what she wants." The grip on her gun tightened as she chuckled darkly. "Guess we know why Nightmare Moon inspires so much love now. Everyone loved Cadance; when she walked into a room, it was like the whole place got brighter."

She hung her head in shame. "I should have known. Nightmare Moon was right under my nose and I had no idea. Some detective I am."

"It's only natural for us to be blind to the ones we love most." Rarity reached out towards Twilight, but she pulled back yet again. "Twilight, this isn't you. You taught me to be better, to give a damn about doing things right, and I'm not going to let this cycle continue."

"It's too late for me," Twilight said. "I can't— I'm sorry, Rarity. I love you so much, but I can't be the woman you fell in love with." There were tears in her eyes, now. "Please, just go to the safe house and lay low for a few weeks. With Cadance out of the picture and the investigation compromised, there won't be any reason to come after you. You'll be safe. That's the only thing that matters now."

That's when it clicked for Rarity. "This is about protecting me, isn't it?"

"If I kill Nightmare Moon, it should create enough of a power vacuum to keep the Nightmares from coming after you."

The words were said with such cold calculation that Rarity shivered. "If you do this, you won't be able to come back from it." This was Twilight, so she tried to appeal to logic as well. "And given that there's apparently already a hit out on me, I doubt that murder will do much good."

Twilight's eyes widened. "What? What happened? Did someone come after you already?"

Rarity waved her hand dismissively. "Just a minor tiff with some thugs who wanted me out of the picture. Fortunately, Applejack was there to scare them off. I don't know whether to thank you or berate you for sending someone to stalk me today."

At that revelation, Twilight seemed to deflate further. "I'm sorry," she said. "I— I failed to protect you. If something had happened to you..."

"But nothing did," Rarity replied gently. "Because even when you were planning on playing vigilante, you still cared enough to send someone after me. Because that's who you are, Twilight. A protector, not a murderer, just like you said your brother was."

"Shining Armor died for nothing," Twilight spat. "If he hadn't been there, then Cadance wouldn't be threatening you right now. He didn't make the world a better place."

"He died doing what he thought was right," Rarity said. "He died for love, and that's not nothing. I refuse to believe that. And though Cadance may have walked down a dark path, he inspired you to carry on his legacy and protect others as he once did."

"Yeah, and look how good of a job I'm doing at that." Twilight rolled her eyes. "Someone tried to kill you tonight, Rarity, and I wasn't there for you, because I was too busy chasing down a lead." She shook her head. "I can't be what you wanted me to be, but at least, if I do this one thing, I can save you."

"No." Rarity reached into her purse and pulled out her own gun. "You don't get to play the martyr like that. You pulled me from the darkness, Twilight, and if you're going to jump back in, then I'll be right beside you, to the end." Her voice softened. "But please, don't make us do this. It's not going to do any good."

"You can't know that," Twilight whispered. Her eyes were red, now, stained with tears that she was clearly trying to avoid.

"But I can."

Both Rarity and Twilight turned in surprise at the familiar voice to see the former chief step out into the open. In truth, Rarity had forgotten that she hadn't been alone when she'd come here, so caught up as she was in trying to talk Twilight down from murdering her sister-in-law.

Meanwhile, Twilight's jaw dropped at the sight of her former mentor, and Rarity saw her nearly lose her grip on her gun as she struggled to hold it safely. "Celestia?"

The woman in question smiled sadly, the weight of ages present in her movements. "Hello, Twilight. It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm sorry for not writing, but I've been busy running away from my problems and hiding from my past."

Twilight glanced between Rarity and Celestia, and Rarity could see the gears turning in her beautiful mind as she put the pieces together. "You went to her for help in finding me after I disappeared." It wasn't a question. "That's how you knew to come here, and that Cadance is Nightmare Moon."

"Admittedly, it was not easy pulling that information from your former mentor," Rarity said dryly. "Has she always been this cryptic?"

"Always." Twilight pointed an accusatory finger at Celestia. "You knew," she said, her voice trembling with so many emotions that Rarity couldn't tell them apart. "You knew that Luna was Nightmare Moon, and then that Cadance took over after her death. "

Celestia sighed. "I'm sorry, Twilight. I've left you with quite the mess to clean up in my absence."

"Why?" Twilight asked. "Why did you walk away? Why do I have to be the one to fix everything? Why did you leave me?" Pain bled into her voice, and Rarity winced in sympathy.

"I never wanted this for you," Celestia replied. "I— I'd say you wouldn't understand, but I suppose that's not true anymore, is it? You inherited my burden, and I can never apologize enough for that."

"If you'd had the guts to end this all those years ago I wouldn't be here," Twilight snarled. "I wouldn't have had to spend years alone, fighting against a city that didn't want to be saved."

"I tried," Celestia said softly. "Right before I left the force, I tried to end it. You're right, I found out that Luna was Nightmare Moon, and I went to confront her. And I killed her."

Twilight gasped. "You... I thought it was an internal power grab."

A sad shake of the head from Celestia. "Anger is a powerful drug, Twilight. I felt much the same way that I imagine you do now, and I let those feelings blind me, to convince me that I was doing the right thing. But all I did was stain my own soul and make Cadance the new leader of the Nightmares. Because there's always someone else, and if you kill Cadance, then another will take her place. At best, you might buy a few weeks of peace while they reorganized."

"Maybe that's enough." The bitterness in Twilight's voice returned in full force. "After all, I just have to save one life, right? A couple weeks with the Nightmares out of commission will save at least a few people."

"But if you leave this place, then one day, we can take down the entire organization," Rarity argued.

Twilight turned to face Rarity, and her shoulders sagged. "I'm so tired, Rarity." She gestured towards Celestia. "I finally understand why she quit. Why she left me. This city takes everything from you, and it's still not enough. At some point, you have to acknowledge the sunk cost and cut losses. Celestia made the correct decision."

"No, I didn't."

The words brought Twilight's glare down on her former mentor. "I tried so hard to live up to your example," she hissed, her words filled with venom. "I wanted you to be proud of me, because some desperate part of me thought that maybe you'd come back if I was a good enough officer. But when I tried to see you at your club, you wouldn't even talk to me!"

She took a step towards Celestia, her fists clenching. "You don't get to tell me what to do anymore. Not after you abandoned this city."

"You're right," Celestia replied calmly, not looking away from her former student. "I was a coward, and I ran away from my duty and left you with this mess to deal with. I don't have any right to tell you what you should do, and I can never apologize enough for what I've done. And I can't blame you for wanting to be done with this, because I know what kind of toll this city takes on you when you try to do the right thing."

A smile spread out across her face. "But there's one thing different between you and me, and that difference is what makes you so much better than I ever was."

"And what's that?" Twilight demanded.

"Friendship," Celestia replied. "I never gave my trust to anyone, and I thought I could save this city all by myself. I kept so many secrets and hurt everyone around me as a result, and allowed my own niece and sister to fall into darkness because I thought I knew better. But tonight, I saw that you had found a better way."

"She's right." Rarity stepped forward as well, her own smile filled with love as she hoped she would be able to get through to Twilight. "In our time together, you often spoke of how Celestia inspired you. But you, Twilight, you've inspired so many people as well. Applejack, Fluttershy, they believed in you. And so do I. You're the light that you thought others were to you."

"This city is too big for one person," Celestia added. "No one can shoulder all the responsibility of saving Canterlot. But maybe, if we do it together, there's a chance that justice will prevail."

"We'll take Nightmare Moon down together," Rarity promised. "The right way."

Twilight frowned, and Rarity saw the conflict playing out in her mind. "I don't even know what the right way is," she whispered, another tear falling to the ground.

"Then we'll find it. Together." Rarity reached out a hand towards her beloved. "Just like we said we would. Maybe it won't be through the courts, and maybe it won't be as officer and private detective, but we'll find a way to take down the whole corrupt system and save everyone in this city."

"I cannot make up for hiding away all these years, but I can stand up for what's right today, and every day onwards." Celestia held out her own hand as she stood beside Rarity.

"Come with us, Twilight," Rarity pleaded. "Let love win over hate tonight, and live to fight another day."

For an endless moment, Twilight stared at both of them in silence, and they all held their breaths waiting for her to choose. Then, just as Rarity thought she might go through with her plans anyways, Twilight leapt forwards and tackled Rarity into a crushing hug.

"I'm sorry," she cried, warm tears staining the shoulder of Rarity's shirt. "I'm so sorry, Rarity." In those words, Rarity felt the world grow brighter, as if some colour had been breathed back into her heart.

"It's alright, my darling dearest," Rarity said, patting her lover on her back. "I love you, and I know we'll be able to get through this together." They pulled apart, and Rarity smiled through her own tears, feeling so much lighter now. "Besides, it's nice to know you have a bad girl side," she teased. "It's very attractive, I must say."

Twilight nearly choked. "Rarity!" she waggled an admonishing finger at her. "This is serious! I almost shot my sister-in-law!"

"But you didn't, because you're far too bright to darken your heart like that," Rarity replied, then added, "And you're far too pretty for jail, anyways."

Twilight shook her head. "You're incorrigible."

"And you love me for it," Rarity teased back, the tension flowing away as she finally let herself relax a little.

"Unfortunately, yes." Twilight frowned. "So, what happens now?"

"If I may," Celestia cut in smoothly. "We should probably get as far away from this house as possible. I don't know how much longer Cadance will be at the cemetery, but we don't want her to see us during her vigil."

Twilight glanced towards the house, and a look of determination flashed across her face. "Not yet," she said. "There's something I need to do first." She holstered her gun and walked towards the front entrance.

"Twilight!" Rarity called out, rushing towards her and grabbing her by the arm. "What in the world are you doing?" Panic began welling up in her again.

Fortunately, Twilight shook her head and smiled, and Rarity didn't see any anger in her eyes. "Don't worry, Rarity, I'm not going to hurt her. But I can't just walk away and do nothing." With a gentle tug, she freed herself from Rarity's grasp and made her way to the front door. Lifting up a hand, she knocked three times, politely but firmly.

Rarity stepped back, hiding herself behind a hedge next to Celestia. The former chief also looked concerned and confused, but they didn't have time to theorize before they heard the sound of the door opening, followed by a familiar lilting voice.

"Oh, Twilight, I wasn't expecting you today," Cadance said, in such a pleasant tone that Rarity had to struggle to remember that she was the leader of the most powerful gang in the city.

"I came to pay my respects," Twilight replied.

"Of course." There was the sound of the door being opened up wider, followed by some footsteps. "I'll unlock the gate for you. We should really just get you a key. He was your brother, after all, and you have as much of a right to be here as I do." A pause, and then Cadance continued, "Though, this is the first time you've come on this day. Is everything okay?"

Rarity peeked through the hedge, and saw Twilight frowning as she faced Cadance, who had just stepped out. She was breathtaking, with long flowing hair and a simple pink dress that allowed her natural beauty to shine through. And she looked just as unassuming as she had when Rarity had first met her, like she should be curating an art gallery instead of running a crime syndicate.

"Not really," Twilight replied, her eyes fixed forwards towards her conversation partner. "I... I almost did something really bad today. Almost turned my back on everything I believed in and let myself go back on the vow we made all those years ago."

"I see. That sounds like quite the ordeal." Genuine concern rang out in Cadance's voice. "Would you like to talk about it?"

Twilight didn't reply for a moment, her quiet creating a deafening silence in the yard. Then, she asked, "Do you still think this city is worth saving, Cadance?"

To her credit, Cadance didn't laugh off the question or condescend to Twilight. "I think it depends on what you mean by saving," she said, sounding just as serious as Twilight had been. "Canterlot will never be a utopia where evil doesn't exist, but, no matter how difficult it's been, I try to hold on to the hope that I can bring peace to this city with my work, and that Shining's sacrifice won't have been in vain."

"But don't you ever wonder if everyone in this city is bad?" Twilight pressed, and Rarity heard her frustration returning. "If maybe there's nobody who's actually worth saving?"

A worried gleam glinted in Cadance's eyes, though she tried to smile still. "Well, there's you, of course. You're worth saving to me, Twilight." There was nothing but warmth and sincerity in her words, and Rarity felt a thrill of fear at how she could show such a human side when she'd done such terrible things. "Sometimes, it's important to not lose touch with the people you're trying to serve, officer. When I find myself losing hope, I remember that you're out there every day, risking your life to try to help complete strangers, and it gives me the strength to keep going."

She reached out to hug Twilight. "You just have to find someone to put your faith into."

Twilight pulled away, wrapping her arms around her herself. "And what happens when the people you trusted turn out to not be who you think they are? What happens when it turns out they're just as bad as everyone else, or worse?"

"Twilight." Cadance looked very worried now as she frowned. "What happened? Did one of your cases go badly?"

"You could say that." Twilight continued to stare right into Cadance's eyes as she spoke. "I found out something that destroyed my belief in people, and it took some good friends to remind me of what I'm fighting for, that the vow I made to Shining still matters. I almost did something very bad, though."

"None of us can do everything by ourselves," Cadance said. "It's not weakness to allow the ones who love you to help you when you falter. That's true strength."

"I know that now." A grim smile played at Twilight's lips. "I brought the people who helped me believe again here, to pay their respects with me. Do you mind if we go together?"

Cadance looked surprised, but recovered well with her own smile. "Of course! You don't have to ask for permission, silly." She began making her way to the side of the house. "So, who are your new friends? I don't think I've heard you talk about them before."

"Actually, they're people I've known for a while."

Rarity knew a dramatic cue when she heard one, and after taking a moment to smooth out her coat and make sure she looked as best she could, she stepped out and waved pleasantly. "Hello, Cadance! So good to see you again. I do hope you don't mind me being here right now."

Cadance's eyes widened in shock, which Rarity had to admit was very satisfying to see. "Oh, hello. Rarity, was it?" She waved a hand in greeting. "It's good to see you again too. I'm sorry you had to come out so late."

So, they were going to play it like this, were they? "The loss of a little beauty sleep is a small price to pay to help a friend," Rarity replied. "I'm just glad I was there for Twilight when she needed me." She smiled. "And besides, I had some business to take care of tonight at my office, anyways. I swear, sometimes my workload is absolutely murder on my schedule."

Cadance's smile grew brittle. "I'm sorry to hear that. Well, at least now you can leave those worries behind. I like to come here to forget about my work sometimes." Her eyes narrowed subtly as her real message came through to Rarity: I don't know what you know, exactly, but don't do this in front of Twilight.

"That might be difficult," Rarity replied, verbally knocking away her olive branch. "Unfortunately, my work seems to have followed me here." She turned to Twilight. "Do you think our mutual acquaintance is here yet?"

"She should be, by now." Twilight glanced back at the hedge, gesturing with a shake of her head.

At that, Celestia stepped out. "Sorry, I wanted to make myself presentable to pay respects to my sister and my nephew-in-law." She smoothed out her dress as she said the words, her calm and cool mask on her face as always.

This time, Cadance's reaction was to reach inside a pocket inside of her dress with a hand, panic and anger flashing in her expression. Rarity and Celestia both responded in kind, reaching for their own weapons. Rarity's fingers curled around the metal of her revolver's grip, waiting to see if Cadance would reveal her own weapon. As much as she hadn't wanted Twilight to kill Nightmare Moon, Rarity had no qualms about defending her beloved if her hand was forced.

Before anyone could do anything rash, however, Twilight leapt between them, raising her arms. "Stop!" she commanded, and Rarity froze, unable to disobey. "They're not here to hurt you, Cadance."

Cadance didn't remove her hand from her pocket. Her eyes cut towards Twilight as they narrowed. "You know," she said, and it wasn't a question.

Twilight nodded.

Cadance sighed as she shot a baleful glare at Celestia. "And I suppose she told you all about our family history?"

"Actually," Celestia said, cutting in, "she figured out most of it herself. Twilight is quite the skilled detective, if you recall. I did fill in a few of the gaps, though."

"I see." At that, Cadance smiled sadly at Twilight. "I'm sorry you had to find out."

"Why?" Twilight demanded, and Rarity saw her hands clenching into fists. "How could you do this?"

"To protect you," Cadance replied simply. "And to fulfill the promise I made after Shining's death." She gestured out towards the street. "Look at this city — it was rotting long before Luna came along, but she managed to exert enough control to stop the gang wars that took Shining's life. I know you've looked at the statistics and seen the decrease in shootings between rival groups."

"And you think that justifies trying to have Rarity killed?" Twilight snarled.

"It was nothing personal," Cadance replied simply. "Just necessary collateral damage in the name of keeping the peace. And the ambush was set up so that no one else would get hurt."

"It's a little difficult not to take an attempt on one's life personally," Rarity muttered.

"You shouldn't have snitched." The casual way that Cadance said the words grated on Rarity. "I can't allow anyone to prevent me from stopping the violence that will consume this city in my absence."

"You stopped it by creating something even worse," Twilight shot back. "The Nightmares are completely above the justice system thanks to you compromising everyone who's part of it."

"The system was broken already." Cadance snorted. "We just took advantage of it to enforce our peace. Did you know that the man who shot Shining was guilty of a half-dozen other murders? The police never brought him to justice, but Luna did, and with the help of the Nightmares, I was able to look my husband's murderer in the eyes before I put a bullet in between them."

"And do you think Shining Armor would be proud of that?"

Silence filled the air as Twilight and Cadance locked eyes with one another. Rarity wasn't altogether certain that they were even aware of her presence or Celestia's at this point, so intent were they on their debate.

Finally, Cadance turned away. "Shining always supported me, and believed that I could do something great."

"I don't think running a criminal empire is what he had in mind," Twilight replied dryly.

"Well, someone had to after Celestia murdered Luna," Cadance snapped, jerking her head towards her aunt. "Or did you miss that in your investigation, detective?"

Twilight shook her head. "I did, but she told me about it afterwards."

"And yet, you still stand with her? With the woman who killed her own sister?" There was genuine hurt in Cadance's eyes. "I thought you were a part of our family, Twilight."

"I want to be mad at her for what she did, but I... I can't blame her, not anymore." This time, it was Twilight's turn to bow her head in shame. "Because... the reason I came here, the reason why Rarity and Celestia had to track me down, was to make history repeat itself."

It took a moment for Cadance to understand the meaning behind the words, and when she did, the look of betrayal on her face was heartbreaking, and once again Rarity had to remind herself whom she was facing down right now. Nightmare Moon didn't deserve any of her pity, especially not after she had tried to have her killed.

Cadance's hand finally left her pocket and dropped down to her sides. "Very well." She looked Twilight in the eyes, defiance radiating from her form. "Do it, then. I won't lift a hand against you, Twilight. Not after I've done so much to try and protect you from Shining's fate. If you truly believe that what I've done is wrong, that your precious police will save this city, then take me out of the equation and put an end to Nightmare Moon."

For a moment, Rarity saw the hesitation in Twilight's eyes, saw her seriously considering doing exactly as Cadance had commanded. She took a step towards her. "Darling," she said softly, "do remember our promise. I will follow you until the end, wherever that may be."

Twilight turned to face her, and Rarity saw her determination return. She smiled, and colour returned to the world once again as Rarity felt her love for her. Then, she returned her attention to Cadance, and her smile turned almost predatory. "Luckily for all of us, Rarity and Celestia talked me out of doing anything dumb tonight." Just as Cadance began to relax, Twilight added, "But there is one thing I wanted to say to you tonight."

Rarity gasped as Twilight reached out and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. She pulled her close, until their faces were inches apart, and Rarity only had a split second of warning before Twilight kissed her.

Surprised, she could do nothing but return the gesture, feeling very awkward expressing her affections in front of her lover's sister-in-law, but also craving the physical comfort and the affirmation that Twilight was alive and well and in her arms right now, and not kidnapped by some criminal organization or other.

They pulled apart, and Twilight shot her a cheeky smirk before glaring at Cadance. "Rarity and I are in love."

There was a flash of surprise in Cadance's eyes, but otherwise she didn't react. Twilight continued, wrapping an arm around Rarity, "I'm not going to stop trying to prove you wrong, and I'm hoping that one day you'll see that this isn't the way to change the world.

"But you're right that I won't be able to do it as an officer, not when you own half the judges in the city. So, I'm going to turn in my badge, and then Rarity won't have anyone to feed information to on the force."

Rarity gasped. "Twilight, you can't possibly—?"

"I told you I was tired, Rarity," Twilight said, and Rarity saw peace in her eyes as she spoke. "I think it's time I found another way to make a difference."

Cadance sighed. "I'd offer you a place in my organization, but I feel like that would be a waste of time. You've always been very idealistic, Twilight, and I hope one day you'll be able to see that I'm doing what's best for Canterlot. Your skills could go a long way in helping make this city safe."

Twilight's glare returned. "I'll never help you, Cadance."

"We'll see about that." With that out of the way, Cadance turned her attention to Rarity. "Miss Rarity, I don't believe we'll be needing your services anymore." She smiled grimly. "I'd accuse you of filling my sister-in-law's head with dangerous nonsense, but somehow I feel like I should be angry at her instead. You were always one of our better contractors."

Rarity's smile was equally thin. "You should be thanking her. If she hadn't taught me to be a better person, I would have stood by as she ended your miserable life. Part of me is still wondering if I shouldn't shoot you here myself so that Twilight doesn't have to darken her soul."

To her credit, Cadance didn't each flinch at the threat. "Well, call it a life for a life, then. You shouldn't have any more trouble from the Nightmares for now, though even Nightmare Moon can't control all of her subordinates, so I'd be careful who you antagonize as you and Twilight continue your doomed quest."

"I appreciate you not trying to murder me anymore," Rarity replied dryly. "Truly, I do."

Cadance rolled her eyes. "Now, if we're done with this... whatever this is, I think I'll take my leave while you pay your respects." She handed over a key to Twilight before walking away, and as she passed Celestia, the former chief held out a hand towards her.

"I'm sorry," she said.

The hatred in Cadance's eyes was palpable as she turned to glare at Celestia. "You said that last time. It doesn't change the fact that she's dead and you're not."

"That's not what I wanted to apologize for." Celestia met her glare with a look of contrition. "I'm sorry for not being there for you, for being so caught up in my job that I didn't see my own niece and sister falling into the darkness."

Cadance snorted. "My choices were my own, Celestia. The world doesn't revolve around you."

"I know that, now." Celestia smiled sadly. "I was so self-absorbed back then, and I did everything wrong. And I know I can't make up for the past, but I won't make the mistake of writing you off like I did to Luna, and I'm going to start believing in this city again. I think you can too." She paused. "I gave Sunset the key and the account number for the safety deposit box at the First Canterlot Bank earlier today in exchange for some information from her eyes and ears."

"Did you now?" Cadance tapped a finger against her chin. "How interesting. I'll have to talk to her about it after this. Though, it really doesn't matter; you must have made copies of all the documents in there, so it's not like you've lost your leverage."

"There was never any leverage," Celestia said. "You just assumed that Luna had hidden something in our joint account that would give me the keys to the Nightmares, and I didn't disabuse you of that notion because I wanted to be left alone. The box has something far more precious, something I hope will serve you more than some documents about offshore accounts or blackmail material."

"I see." With that, Cadance turned away again, and made her way towards her car. She shot one last look at the three of them. "Have a nice night, and remember to lock up afterwards." She paused, her eyes settling on her sister-in-law. "And Twilight, please take care. This city is dangerous, and I can only protect you so much."

"I will," Twilight promised, and that was that.

As Cadance drove away, Rarity felt the tension around them fade into sadness and grief. "Well, that was far more excitement than I had expected when I woke up this morning," Rarity said, attempting to fill the silence. "And here I thought I'd just be hiding and fearing for my life in a safe house. How quaint of me."

Twilight's response was to dive at her and hug her again in her crushing grip. "Thank you," she whispered. "I can't ever thank you enough for saving me, and I'm so sorry for everything I put you through tonight."

"You're worth it, Twilight." Warmth and life flooded Rarity's senses as she held on for dear life. "I owe my heart and soul to you, and I would walk through Hell itself for you. Just, please don't ever do anything like that ever again, hmm?"

"Never." Twilight pulled away, and Rarity could see the tears in her eyes. "From now on, we do everything together." For a moment, she shuffled awkwardly in place, clearly second-guessing her next words. Then, with more confidence, she said, "I'd like you to come with me when I visit Shining." She turned to face Celestia. "Both of you. I think he'd like to meet you, Rarity, and I think he'd like to see Celestia again."

"That sounds like a wonderful idea," Celestia said, walking up to them "It's about time I stopped running away from my past and made peace with it instead."

"And I would be honoured to meet your brother," Rarity added. "And to tell him what a lovely woman his sister grew up to be."

Twilight blushed at that. "Please don't go into detail."

That got a laugh from Rarity, and she felt the last of the day's tension melt away with it. "No promises, darling. You're beautiful when you're flustered, and quite fun to tease besides. Now, shall we?"

Twilight nodded, and together, the three of them made their way towards the back of the mansion, to pay their respects to the past and begin carving a path towards a brighter future.

"So then I tried to ask Celestia for advice, but Rainbow Dash told me to go away."

The group at the table chuckled good-naturedly as said bouncer for the Sunset Lounge crossed her arms. "Hey," she replied, "we got a policy of No Coppers and I take my job very seriously. Not my fault you left before her shift was over."

"I— uhh... I got cold feet after that," Twilight admitted. "And the second time I was just so angry that I didn't want to wait."

"Well, everything worked out in the end," Rarity added from her position sitting next to Twilight. She took full advantage of her position to snuggle closer to her girlfriend, uncaring as to who was watching.

"That it did," Celestia said. "And I am sorry that I never reached out to you after my retirement. It was selfish of me."

Twilight shrugged. "There's no use regretting the past. Not when the future has way too many things to worry about."

"About that," Applejack said as she dug into her slice of apple pie (which she insisted was almost as good as what she could get back on her family's farm). "You really turned in your badge yesterday, Twi?"

"Yeah." There was a heavy silence in the air as everyone processed Twilight's reply. "I made a deal with Nightmare Moon, and I intend to keep it."

Applejack raised an eyebrow at that. "And you're sure that she'll uphold her part of the bargain too? Pardon me for saying, but I ain't exactly keen on taking the word of the most dangerous criminal in Canterlot at face value."

"She won't go after Rarity," Twilight said. "I declared our relationship to her, and Cadance wouldn't ever hurt me by going after someone I loved. She may have gone down a very dark path, but I still believe there are lines she won't cross." She smiled grimly. "If there aren't, then we're all dead anyways no matter what."

Fluttershy visibly paled at that. "Umm." She meekly raised a hand. "How about the rest of us? Is Nightmare Moon going to come after us next?"

"As long as you don't go directly against her, you'll be safe," Twilight said. "We've studied the Nightmares long enough to know how they operate. Though, you don't have to be here if you don't want to— things will get dangerous eventually if all goes well, and I can't guarantee that I can keep you safe."

Despite her trembling, Fluttershy put on a look of determination. "No," she said. "I'm not going to run away from this. The people here need our help."

"Hell yeah!" Dash pumped her fists in the air as she slung an arm around Fluttershy, who froze at the contact. "'Bout time someone showed those guys some guts. So, what're we gonna do next?"

Twilight shrugged. "I don't know, yet. This problem is bigger than all of us, and even working together, we're going to need more friends if we want to make sure that someone like Nightmare Moon can never take over this city again. Hopefully, I can get to Cadance one day, and she can help us, but if that ever happens, it'll be a long time from now, and we need to focus on finding a way to stop her that doesn't involve the systems she's compromised."

"I used to know a lot of very powerful people," Celestia added. "And not all of them were happy with what happened to this city. I'll see if any of them would be willing to help."

"There is much to do," Rarity said, "but for now, I think we deserve a little rest." She rested her head on Twilight's shoulder. "Some of Pinkie's pastries will be good for the soul, and so will time spent with good friends."

"I'll drink to that." In a single gulp, Applejack downed her cider, letting out a contented sigh afterwards. "Might as well enjoy my last few days on the force before Nightmare Moon finally has my badge for helping y'all." She looked around. "Now then, where's Pinkie with our orders?"

"Waiting for her chance to make a dramatic entrance, of course!"

Applejack didn't even flinch as she turned to find the pink terror grinning at her. "Hello, Pinkie," she said, nodding her head respectfully.

"Hiya AJ," Pinkie chirped as she set down a plate in front of each of the diners at the table. Her smile never changed, but once again, Rarity felt a presence in the air, not threatening this time, but determined and hopeful. "So, are you guys finally going to do something about the systemic issues that plague our city and lead to rampant corruption and powerful organized crime groups using collective action to reform the justice system?"

Everyone stared at her. "Yes, Pinkie," Twilight finally said. "I think that's exactly what we're going to do."

"Well, if you ever need any information, or a safe place to stay, you can always count on your aunt Pinkie Pie!" She gave them a wink and leaned in to whisper conspiratorially. "I've been sitting on so much dirt from running this place, and not the kind you sweep away with a broom. The kind you give to someone who's actually trying to make a difference."

Rainbow Dash laughed. "Well, if Pinkie Pie's on our side, then there's no way we can lose!"

There was a general chorus of agreement as Pinkie Pie laughed as well. "I gotta go now and make sure the pies are done baking. If you need me, just call and I'll be there, anywhere, anytime. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!" She made a complex motion with her free hand before disappearing as suddenly as she'd appeared.

"Suddenly, everything feels a little less hopeless," Twilight commented as everyone recovered from their encounter with Pinkie.

"Quite," Rarity agreed. She looked down at her cupcake. "Oh dear, if we're going to be meeting here more often, then I'm going to have to seriously consider going on a diet."

"Or you could just work out with me," Rainbow Dash said. "I can help you burn off those calories, and you probably wanna get more fit in case you need to do more fighting for your life. Twilight would probably appreciate it too."

Twilight rolled her eyes. "I like her just the way she is." She paused. "Though, maybe some self-defence training wouldn't be a bad idea. For all of us who don't already have it."

"We can discuss these things at a later time." Celestia sipped from her cup of tea as she regarded Twilight and Rarity. "For now, I believe it is time for us to eat, drink, and be merry."

"Hear, hear!" Rainbow Dash raised her mug of hot chocolate before downing it.

"And I also believe that we can start with a story." Celestia's eyes locked on Rarity's as she smiled. "I must admit, I've been wondering how you managed to woo my student since we first met."

"It's a grand tale," Rarity said, returning her smile. "One of hope and love and fighting for what one believes in."

"That sounds exactly like the kind of story we need right now," Fluttershy said with her own grin.

"Very well, then."

Rarity leaned back and took a sip from her own cup of tea, wetting her lips in preparation for telling her story. She glanced beside her at Twilight, the beautiful, brilliant copper that had stolen her heart and given her back her soul, who now promised her a future worth fighting for, and allowed the warmth of love to fill her as she told her story.

"I knew she was trouble from the moment she walked into my office..."

Comments ( 18 )

Great story, though I kindof want to know what Sunset found in the box, and what specifically Sunset did to have Celestia kick her off the force (I'm guessing planting evidence or somesuch).

........ really? ALL of that and it's just Twilight leaves the force at the end? REALLY? That's..... that's so anti-climatic. And from how it sounds things finally were going to go Twilight's way in taking down The Nightmares and Cadence. But instead we get that? I dunno about that.

It is anticlimactic, but I don’t think the story has anywhere else to go. IMO it would be so hard to handle Twilight killing Cadance right that I’d call anyone who successfully pull that ending off a genius, not to mention the absence of a Tragedy tag.


Oh no no no. See I meant arrest her and send her to jail. No Rarity made the right call stopping Twilight from doing that.

Well it’s established that the whole system was corrupt and Cadance essentially dominated the city. With this I think even if Twilight could arrest her, she would still evade justice easily, one way or another.

Considering they talked about how big of an evidence pile that Twilight had against her, likely including BLACKMAIL, I think it's safe to assume that Cadence would've been arrested and sent to jail. As it stands. I find the ending rather lacking.

Maybe. This isn’t a particularly long piece and the author did more work with the atmosphere than with the worldbuilding. For me I just think the world’s essentially a place devoid of hope and it would take a lot more than a few piles of evidence to bring a crime lord down. Not saying this ending isn’t a little bit anticlimactic, even disappointing after the giant plot twist that no one foresaw, but still, I find it reasonable. It’s just natural that people who have different opinions on how the world they actually live in works would have different opinions on the rules of a fictional one.:rainbowlaugh:

.... eh. Fair enough. Seems like this story wasn't intended to be a longer story. Hope this world comes back though at some point.

Very fun noir detective story!

I'd honestly love a sequel, but this left off on a hopeful note of good things to come.

Bravo! Very good fic. If you plan to do a sequel, I'll watch for that. But, if not, you left it on a good note. Nice work. :raritystarry:

It was frustrating seeing Cadance lie through her teeth to Twilight, but thankfully things were exposed after that. Everyone assembling at the end was a bit cheesy, but this is still MLP, after all.

To those confused as to why Cadance wasn't arrested, we just had a real life example of how such a trial would go.

Overall, great story.

Quite the thrilling tale... though Nightmare Moon's flagrant hypocrisy really rubbed me the wrong way. Trying to kill someone for keeping you from making the city less violent is bad enough, but you don't get to go from relishing the memory of avenging your husband to calling someone else a murderer like it's a bad thing.

Also, noir conventions aside, there are presumably bigger things than the city in this world. Suppose Twilight got all that evidence to the feds.

So yeah, the ending feels... off. Good stuff overall, but it does strike some sour notes. Still, thank you for a fascinating glimpse at this world.

They're vague on the "documents," but it sounds like something that could fall under some variant of RICO, in which case the prosecution could have all assets related to the criminal enterprise frozen. It also would move the case out of the local jurisdiction.
Part of what makes it so anticlimactic.

Well I'm coming into this late. Showed up on my radar when it first came up but I elected to wait until it was all posted to start reading. Then I forgot for a while, oops.

This was a lot of fun to go through. I often read one or two chapters of a story per night before bed but for this one after going through the first chapter I just had to get the rest of it right away. I always enjoy seeing new interpretations of Rarity and I can absolutely buy this incarnation of her as a slick and alluring detective. Cliché, perhaps, especially in the flashbacks in which you can imagine a melancholic saxophone playing in the background at all times, but very appropriate, and the diction is much appreciated.

It really shows how much detail there is in this setting even though the reader is only seeing a fraction of what is actually happening. Every name that gets dropped adds a tantalizing list of possibilities for what might be going on behind the curtains. That there is presumably a gang called "The Griffons" might be my favorite in particular; makes one imagine what other groups based on different Equestria races might exist.

I greatly enjoy when something can be taken as having multiple different meanings like this title can be. It's pretty obvious that the "woman" in question is Twilight, but it becomes apparent that "saving" her means stopping her from losing herself to the senseless cycle of violence like so many others in the city have, rather than just saving her life. One could also say though that the "woman" could just as much be Rarity, Celestia, or even Cadence, all people who were in danger of losing their way or had already become lost. Rarity and Twilight saved each other, Celestia hopes to make amends for her mistakes, and it is heavily implied that one day even Cadence may see the error of her ways. Even if, you know, she'd still have to go to prison at that point. I see in the comments that some were disappointed with the ending, and I can understand that to a degree, but I think that it doesn't really matter that it leaves the overarching conflict open, since that's not really the main point of the story. This isn't a story about saving a city from a criminal empire, it's about holding true to one's convictions in spite of that overwhelming hopelessness.

I do feel that there could have stood to be a little more foreshadowing regarding Cadance's presence in the story and some offhanded tidbits that might justify her decisions--some more concrete evidence of how there's less wanton violence in the city since most of the Nightmares' business is conducted behind closed doors. I honestly almost thought during the first half of the final chapter that we weren't even going to see her, that the protags were just going to finish up with their intervention and leave, and I wouldn't have minded that much since, again, that's not the focus of the story. As it is, it comes a bit out of nowhere that this character who has far more sympathetic motivations than Luna presumably did is trying to play the role of a well-intentioned extremist, and it's a position based off of information which the reader isn't privy to. I can buy it, I just think it's a little too jarring in the way it's presented.

Overall an enjoyable romp, though. I'm curious to see if anything else ever comes of this story, but as it is I'm plenty satisfied with what we got. Rarity, Celestia, and Twilight made for a phenomenal trio in this noir world.

I want to raise a very important topic that concerns every woman. No matter which country they belong to, women will always take care of their children and family members first and foremost. I suggest you try here to find out more details about this, as well as to understand what is the role of women in modern society. One of the most important factors leading to gender inequality is the position of caregiver held by women.

This story was exquisite. I do so love an AU that is so far from canon, with characters that remain so true to their namesakes. As I was reading, I was mentally counting the members of the mane 6 seen so far, wondering when we'd get the whole gang together... no pun intended.

In some ways, my hope for this city lies in the characters' little divergences from canon. Ideology aside, Sunset Shimmer is still in her "Queen Meanie" phase, but the arcs of the other characters suggests that like canon Sunset, soon enough Twilight Sparkle will reform Sunset. Similarly, Cadence has so much humanity left in her despite her evil that it's hard to see her remain in her current role for life, however short that may be for her. It's easy to imagine a sequel where Sunset and Cadence soften and join forces with the Mane 6. I can see Cadence as an effective charismatic figurehead of a new Daydreamer Party, let's just say... without stepping down from her current role.

Like any good story, the characters are complex. There is nobody here, protagonist or antagonist, who is clearly good or evil. Everyone here does bad things for reasons that they believe are good. Likewise, the relationship between the state and organized crime is blurred here.. It's probably fair to say at this point that the Nightmares are the local government. That has some horrifying implications of its own ... but that pattern is not wholly unfamiliar from our world.

All in all, this story will stick with me for a while.

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