nohooves

Dyke Runner (Cyberpunk SciTwi)

Jan 15th, 2016
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  1. +------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
  2. | Dyke Runner |
  3. | SciTwi in near-future cyberpunk Equestria |
  4. +------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
  5.  
  6. TABLE OF CONTENTS
  7. Part One .................... DR01
  8. Part Two .................... DR02
  9.  
  10. +------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
  11. | Part One (DR01) |
  12. +------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
  13.  
  14. >"Hey, Egghead!"
  15. >You jolt your head up in surprise.
  16. "W-who? Me?"
  17. >The rainbow-haired girl rolls her eyes playfully, half-mocking.
  18. >Her smile isn't infectious, but it's benign enough to make you blush.
  19. >"Yes, you. Do you see anyone else in this tiny dorm room we're sharing?"
  20. >She pretends to toss the soccer ball in your direction, predictably getting a frightened flinch out of you.
  21. "A-ah!"
  22. >"Heheheh, gotcha again."
  23. >Rainbow tosses the soccer ball to the side, knocking over a stack of blu-ray discs sitting next to the TV.
  24. >Why did she own so many copies of Miami Connection anyway?
  25.  
  26. >You frown in annoyance, closing your laptop.
  27. >You had been trying to ignore her for a few minutes.
  28. >In fact, you had done so well that you actually forgot that she was in front of you at all, mouthing away about her "awesome day" and how "stoked" she was.
  29. "What is it, Dash? I was in the middle of doing my homework."
  30.  
  31. >Rainbow Dash grunts, somewhat less playful this time.
  32. >"Ugh, were you even listening? I asked you if you wanted to join me for the party tonight!"
  33. >She tilts her head, spilling a stream of rainbow-colored hair to the side.
  34. >"...Remember? The big party? Just before the big all-night protest?"
  35. >Oh.
  36. >Now you remember.
  37.  
  38. >'The Pregame,' Pinkie had called it. A get-together of her closest friends just before the organized student protest that was supposed to go on all-night.
  39. >You were't the one to keep up with the political happenings of recent years.
  40. >Hostile takeovers, accusations of indirect monopoly, superpac corruption...
  41. >You tried your best to tune it out. It was all too depressing, left you feeling powerless.
  42. >After all, you had enough schoolwork to worry about as is.
  43. >Rainbow was.... well, the opposite of you.
  44. >For a star-athlete with scholarships on the line, Rainbow Dash was pretty big on attending protests.
  45. >She had risked her scholarship more than once, passing out flyers without permission and crashing school budget meetings.
  46. >So it was no surprise that she wanted to attend the largest student protest in University of Canterlot's history, despite the target of the protest.
  47. >Flim & Flam Industries. The largest conglomerate in the world.
  48. >Soon to be the *only* internet service provider whenever the government rubber-stamps the massive buyout.
  49.  
  50. >You glance at your wristwatch. It's just past 3pm.
  51. "Well, I suppose I am kinda peckish. Wait, there *will* be some food, right?"
  52. >"Of course," says Rainbow, waving her hand dismissively, "Pinkie Pie's hosting it. There's gonna be food to spare! Well, if you like cupcakes, that is."
  53. >Suddenly, Rainbow pounces forward, kneeling in front of you.
  54. >She rests her hands on your knees, lighting up your face with a scalding blush.
  55. >"Ohpleasepleaseplease come with me? You promised!"
  56. >She gives you a mock pout, her cerise eyes glittering.
  57. "I, uhm... I suppose? Why not."
  58. >Rainbow jumps up as quick as she knelt. She does some fist-pumps in the air.
  59. >"YESYESYES! You are not gonna regret it, Egghead--"
  60. "Twilight."
  61. >"--I guarantee it. Tons of interesting people, lots of ideas..."
  62. >Rhe leans in, shoving her face uncomfortably close to yours.
  63. >"...and Flash is gonna be there."
  64. >She wiggles her eyebrows.
  65.  
  66. >You grunt, pushing her away.
  67. "I told you, Flash and I are no longer a thing."
  68. >"Your texting history seems to disagree."
  69. "My texting-- LAPSE OF JUDGEMENT. I was drunk out of my mind that night!"
  70. >"Suuure you were."
  71. >You jump up from the couch in frustration, picking up your laptop.
  72. "Whatever. I'm gonna finish up my schoolwork before we go anywhere."
  73. >You make your way towards your room, clutching your laptop against your chest.
  74. >You get a whiff of vanilla as you rustle by Rainbow. It fills your head and stains your vision as you close the door behind you.
  75. >With a soft click, you lock the door and breathe a sigh of relief.
  76. >You plop down on the bed, setting the laptop aside next to you.
  77. >Your hands... You raise them up for a better view.
  78. >They're sweaty and shaking.
  79. "Every time... and only when it's her around."
  80. >You wipe your hands against your pants, and let yourself fall backward into a pile of tangled blankets.
  81.  
  82. >You think back on the intimacy you shared with Flash.
  83. >...Okay, that's seriously killing your appetite.
  84. >You think back on the....
  85. >Vanilla.
  86. >Your heart flutters.
  87. "...What is wrong with me?"
  88.  
  89. - - -
  90.  
  91. bookz (noneofyourbusiness@znc.com) has joined #wondercolts
  92. Topic for #wondercolts is "BIG PROTEST TONITE GET HYP, dress for mobility"
  93. Topic set by ppie (ppie@uc.edu) 3 hour(s) 47 minutes ago
  94. <bookz>: Hey guys
  95. <@sexual_violins>: Hello, Twilight!
  96. <@sexual_violins>: Are you attending the protest, perchance?
  97. <bookz>: Nah, it's honestly not my thing, are you?
  98. <bookz>: I'm going to Pinkie's party tho
  99. <@sexual_violins>: bookz: No time, I'm afraid. Drowning in homework.
  100. <pon3>: >protest
  101. * pon3 tips fedora
  102. <@sexual_violins>: pon3: don't be rude, Vinyl!
  103. <pon3>: lol picketing some fat pigs won't change the world m8
  104. <bookz>: Whatever, Vinyl
  105. <bookz>: Wow pretty quiet today in here
  106. <pon3>: normies are studying for finals and all the fedoras are too busy preparing for the protest
  107. <pon3>: "DRESS 4 MOBILITY"
  108. <pon3>: [tacticool intensifies]
  109. <@sexual_violins>: Vinyl...
  110. <@sexual_violins>: Oh goodness, did anyone else hear that?
  111. <bookz>: The thumping sound?
  112. <pon3>: lmao that's ponk's party
  113. <pon3>: actually it's me, at ponk's party
  114. <pon3>: i think i might be deaf now halp
  115. <@sexual_violins>: Vinyl, I thought you were too cool for The Pregame [/sarcasm]
  116. <pon3>: >implying i'd miss a party
  117. <pon3>: >ever
  118.  
  119. - - -
  120.  
  121. >"Hey, Egghead--"
  122. >Rainbow shouts, banging on your door.
  123. >The rest of her words are muddled.
  124. >Even with Pinkie's dorm room sitting on the opposite side of the building, you can hardly hear Rainbow.
  125. "What did you say?"
  126. >"I said, are you done with your homework yet? The party's already started."
  127. "Yeah, I can hear as much."
  128. >"What?"
  129. "I said-- Oh, forget it."
  130. >You close your laptop, tossing it lightly against the pillow.
  131. "I wasn't getting anything productive done, anyway," you mumble to yourself.
  132. >You drop the pajama pants and step into something that vaguely resembles snug-fitting cargo pants.
  133. >You squat in front of the mirror, trying to force your feet into a pair of Chucks.
  134. >Undoing the knots might help, but you can't be bothered.
  135. >With that done and taken care of, you untie your hair, combing it down. It's still wavy in places.
  136. >Whatever.
  137. >Tossing on a jacket, you head out of your room.
  138. "Dash, I'm ready."
  139. >She turns around from the fridge, holding a bottle of cheap wine.
  140. >"Oh hey, that was quick--"
  141. >Rainbow stands still, closing the fridge behind her.
  142. >You can physically feel her cerise eyes on you, caressing you up and down, from head to toe.
  143. >You withdraw a bit, feeling self-conscious.
  144. "I, uh... Rainbow?"
  145. >Her eyes jolt upward, meeting yours.
  146. >You recoil at the sheer intensity of her gaze.
  147. >"Yeah, I'm fine. You good to go?"
  148. "Y-yeah..."
  149. >"Good," she says, grinning and stuffing the wine bottle in her duffel bag.
  150. "What's in the bag?"
  151. >"Oh, nothing. Just some stuff for the protest."
  152. >She walks towards the front door, gesturing at you to follow.
  153. >You walk out into the hallway, eyes glued to the mass of rainbow hair, following the trail of vanilla scent.
  154. >'What is wrong with me,' you wonder.
  155.  
  156.  
  157. >A few minutes later, you arrive at Pinkie's dorm.
  158. >Even before Rainbow twists the doorknob, you can hear the bass groove and guitar crunch seeping through the old-fashioned thick brick walls.
  159.  
  160. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PaoLy7PHwk
  161.  
  162. >Once inside, the party is actually deafening and far rowdier than you imagined.
  163. >Even in this setting, a good portion of people have their heads buried in glowing portable devices, tapping away at god-knows-what.
  164. >To be honest, if you had your tablet on you you'd do the same thing.
  165. >Those who aren't busy exposing their lives on the web are gathered around a hookah, conveniently placed in the middle.
  166. >Rainbow twirls around the party, taking in the music and raised glasses from other belligerents.
  167. >She grins, and turns to you. She shuffles up close and leans into your ear.
  168. >Vanilla.
  169. >Your face lights up again.
  170. >Rainbow shouts something in your ear. You can't hear her through the music.
  171. "WHAT DID YOU SAY, RAINBOW?"
  172.  
  173. >"I think she's trying to ask you if you're having fun," interjects Pinkie Pie, out of nowhere. Her voice somehow rings loud and clear, cutting through the insane noise around them.
  174. >Rainbow grins like a cat, pouncing and pulling Pinkie into a tight hug.
  175. >Rainbow screams something inaudible at Pinkie.
  176. >"Oh! The music," shouts Pinkie Pie. "Sorry, Dashie! I'll turn it down right away!"
  177. >With that, Pinkie turns into a blur of pink streaks leading into the kitchenette.
  178.  
  179. >"VOINYL! TURN IT DOWN A BIT," you hear her scream.
  180.  
  181. >The music dives by a few dozen decibels downward.
  182. "Thank god," you groan, trying to palm the ringing away from your ears. "I can finally hear myself think."
  183. >"There's a time and place for thoughtful introspections," interrupted a heliotrope figure from the mountain of pillows in the corner, "and this isn't one of them."
  184. "Starlight!"
  185. >You tiptoe your way towards the philosopher, being careful not to step on any of the bohemians lounging around the massive hookah in the center.
  186.  
  187. >Starlight passes the hookah hose to a cross-eyed girl next to her, then gets up for a hug.
  188. >You wrap her in a tight embrace.
  189. >"You've got to stop studying so hard and live your life a little! How have you been, Twilight?"
  190. "You know me. Juggling schoolwork and actual work. Gotta pay for what my scholarship doesn't cover somehow."
  191. >"True, true," Starlight grins. "Come! Join us for smokes and musings. We were discussing the merits of planned economy in the light of recent events in the private sector."
  192.  
  193. >You feel Rainbow tugging at your shoulder.
  194. >"Yeah, err... Thanks for the offer, Starlight. But Twi and I have some important things to talk about. Excuse us for a minute?"
  195. >A flash of annoyance graces Starlight's lips without anyone noticing.
  196. >Instead, she bows graciously.
  197. >"Of course, Rainbow. I'll see you soon, Twilight."
  198. >Starlight winks at you.
  199. >You unzip your jacket. It's getting kinda hot in here.
  200.  
  201.  
  202. >Rainbow guides you to the kitchenette with a firm grip on your shoulder. She leans in, whispering fiercely.
  203. >"Careful around her. She's been acting weird lately."
  204. "Lately? She's an openly socialist Yakyakistan War veteran. I don't think she could get any weirder than that."
  205. >"Yeah but... It's hard to explain. She's usually all talk and gently assertive at best, but something's changed."
  206. "What do you mean?"
  207. >"There's... more venom to her words. As though she *wants* to be provoked."
  208. >You glance over your shoulder at Starlight, sucking on a hookah hose and blowing a cloud of smoke.
  209. >She notices, and wraps her arm around the cross-eyed girl next to her. They wave at you together.
  210. >Rainbow sighs.
  211. >"Just... try to keep your distance from her. That's all I'm saying."
  212.  
  213. - - -
  214.  
  215. >You glance at your wristwatch.
  216. >It's few minutes past 7pm.
  217. >The night is in full swig. Swing.
  218. >You *have* been taking some hefty swigs from the bottle of wine Rainbow brought with her.
  219. >Starlight has gathered a sizable crowd to herself by now, droning on about "the hubris of capitalism" in her characteristically radiant voice.
  220. >"...and that, my friends, is why we're here today. The fact that Flim & Flam Industries is now poised to take over internet service providers, and therefore control the very medium through which we communicate in this modern world, is inexcusable..."
  221. >You shudder involuntarily.
  222. >When did Starlight get so eloquent?
  223. >Rainbow casually rests her arm on your shoulder.
  224. >She intones mockingly, "so, has our Dear Leader convinced you on why the protest is important yet?"
  225. >You shake her head.
  226. "Hardly. Now I feel like I should be out destroying the company instead of protesting a planned buyout."
  227. >Rainbow chuckles into a dixie cup.
  228.  
  229. >Soon, everyone's attention is fixated on Starlight and her sermon.
  230. >"...can't be stressed enough! How are we to act as informed constituents when the means to acquire unbiased information is denied to us? How are we to..."
  231. >If anything, you're impressed by Starlight's oratorical endurance.
  232. >You and Dash stand about awkwardly in the outermost circle of the congregation, sharing a bottle of wine between you two.
  233. >Rainbow takes another full tilt of the stuff before handing it to you. You decline.
  234. "So, you never told me what's in the duffel bag. It's pretty weighty."
  235. >"Ever so curious... *hic*! I told you, it's full of boring stuff."
  236. "Boring stuff, like what?"
  237. >"Stuff that are boring."
  238. >You playfully punch Rainbow's shoulder.
  239. >Suddenly, Rainbow darts her eyes around.
  240. >"I'll show you if... if you promise not to tell anyone. Pinkie Promise?"
  241. "Pinkie Promise."
  242. >She grabs your hand, dragging you into Pinkie's Bedroom.
  243. "Ooh, kinky."
  244. >"Sh-shut up, Egghead. This isn't for sexual."
  245. "...What did you say?"
  246. >"Nothing."
  247. "You don't have to hide it, Rainbow. I know you watch Power Ponies."
  248. >Rainbow drags you in without a word. Her face is completely flushed.
  249.  
  250.  
  251. >Rainbow firmly closes the door behind her, locking it.
  252. >Your face lights up as she unzips her--
  253. >--bag. She was holding it in front of her.
  254. >Without warning, Rainbow upends the duffel bag, spilling its contents on the floor.
  255. >Metallic clacks and flopping of papers fill the room.
  256. >Spray paints, cardboard cutouts, large sheets of paper...
  257. >Something clicks in your mind.
  258. "Rainbow, are these.... You do graffiti?"
  259. >She rolls her eyes hard enough to scare children.
  260. >"Oh, it's that G-word again. It's called 'street art,' Egghead."
  261. >You look over the mass of used cans and carefully folded sheets of paper.
  262. "But... I don't get it. Graffiti--
  263. >"Street. Art."
  264. "--isn't exactly outlawed yet. City-owned property can be painted on with proper permits.."
  265. >You gasp.
  266. "Dash... don't tell me you spray illegally???"
  267. >Rainbow pinches the bridge of her nose, shaking her head.
  268. >"That's a few hundred bits of fine at best. Ugh... look. It's much worse than that."
  269. >You sit on the surprisingly well-made bed. Was this Pinkie's?
  270. >You pat the spot next to you.
  271. >Rainbow plops down, rubbing shoulders with you.
  272. >"I'm... I'm Dash-E."
  273. >You stay silent.
  274. >"...You don't know what that is, do you?"
  275. "No idea."
  276. >"Ugh, you're frustratingly sheltered sometimes."
  277. "Well, educate me."
  278. >"Dash-E is a "domestic terrorist best known for his politically subversive graffiti, usually in solidarity of anti-corporate protests." Their words, not mine."
  279. "Who's 'they'?"
  280. >"Law enforcement. Flim & Flam. Everyone who stands to gain something from supporting Flim & Flam."
  281. >You reach down and pick up one of the spray cans.
  282. >It rattles as marbles shift within.
  283. >Rainbow Dash? Street artist?
  284. >She had so much to lose. A star athlete with a bright future.
  285. >One wrong move, and everything would be gone.
  286.  
  287. "You've got a lot on the line, Dash."
  288. >"I know."
  289. "Then why? Flim & Flam isn't going to stop whatever they're doing because a bunch of college kids are out on the streets protesting."
  290. >"It's about the principle of the thing, Twilight. I can't sit on my ass and do nothing about them bullying people around."
  291. "It's going to happen anyway! The corruption, monopoly, lobbying... we can't stop any of that."
  292. >"That's exactly it! *Everyone* thinks they're powerless so they choose to do nothing, when thecould be teaming up together as PEOPLE and fix this mess!"
  293. >Rainbow groans, burying her face in her hands.
  294. >"S-sorry. I shouldn't be telling you any of this. Stupid alcohol."
  295. >She shudders, leaning into you.
  296. >You wrap your arm around her.
  297. >"Look, I... I've said things on walls and online that could put me in jail if I'm caught. They're labelling it all under 'incitement of imminent lawless action,' which is horseshit."
  298. >You gently stroke her back, comforting her.
  299. >"That's why I can't stop. I have to set an example. Show everyone that you can't just suppress dissenting opinions by bending the law. That individuals have the power to resist."
  300. >Silence.
  301. >You notice a bundle of vanilla-scented rainbow hair resting on your shoulder.
  302. "You post your stuff online?"
  303. >"I keep a blog. It's titled "—E" because it's a dash. And an E. Get it?"
  304. "Har har."
  305. >"It sounded cool at the time."
  306. >Rainbow sighs.
  307. >Another silence.
  308.  
  309. "Rainbow? Are you okay?"
  310. >"I-I'm fine, Twilight. That wine's hitting me hard."
  311. >She hesitates for a moment.
  312. >"I'm feeling very nervous about this whole thing, and... you know."
  313. >You put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
  314. >Rainbow turns her head, giving you a reassuring smile.
  315. >Who is she trying to reassure, you wonder.
  316.  
  317. "Hey Dash."
  318. >"Hmm?"
  319. "Would it be okay if I tagged along?"
  320. >You squeeze her shoulder.
  321. "No ideological commitments. I'd like to see how you do your thing."
  322. >You can almost feel Rainbow's cheeks bulging out in a wide grin.
  323. >"Of course you can. I'd be honored to show."
  324. >Rainbow gets up, packing up her sprays and papers.
  325. >"Oh, you'll need this."
  326. >She tosses you a bandana.
  327.  
  328. - -
  329.  
  330. "Do you *ugh* always spray your stuffaaaghhh--"
  331. >Rainbow catches you in her arms as you trip on a length of wire.
  332. "--up on rooftops?? Can't we just deface a few shop windows or something?? They're all owned by Flim & Flam anyway!"
  333. >Rainbow steadies you, helping you up.
  334. >"NO way! Not visible enough. It *needs* to be up high."
  335.  
  336. >You glance over the edge at the hard concrete sidewalk below.
  337. "It's sickening how high these buildings seem from up top..."
  338. >"Well, don't look, then."
  339.  
  340. >Rainbow walks up to the massive billboard featuring an ad for one of the legislations being pushed by President Celestia.
  341.  
  342. [ Raise Equestria To New Heights! ]
  343. [ Tell your representative to vote {YES} on Tax Reform Act ]
  344.  
  345. >Rainbow scoffs.
  346. >"Hmph. Raise taxes to new heights, more like."
  347.  
  348. >She kneels down, unzipping her duffel bag and taking out a large stack of folded paper.
  349. >With practiced ease, she unfolds the massive sheet and tapes it up against the billboard.
  350. "Stencil? That's clever."
  351. >"Time constraints. I don't wanna get arrested trying to paint a damn mural by hand."
  352. >Digging deeper into the bag, Rainbow pulls out two cans of black paint, one in each hand.
  353. >She goes left and right, spraying over the cutouts like a printer.
  354. >And just like that, the entire paper is covered in black.
  355. >Rainbow tears down the stencil mask, revealing the art within.
  356.  
  357. "W-whoa..."
  358.  
  359. >It's a silhouette of two men resembling Flim and Flam, sitting on one end of a rather heavily leaning scale.
  360. >On the other end of the scale is a silhouette of multiple people, wearing work clothes and hunched over.
  361. >A simple caption adorned the piece, just below the scale.
  362.  
  363. [ WEIGHING IN ON TAXES ]
  364.  
  365. >Rainbow pulls out a smaller sheet and red paint, spraying a broken needle on the scale.
  366. >Despite the angle, the blood-red needle pointed straight upward, indicating a balance.
  367. "Nice touch."
  368. >"Thanks, I got the idea from those rigged produce scales in Flam-Mart."
  369. >You chuckle.
  370. "So... that's it? That was quicker than I thought."
  371. >"Yep. Let's get off of this building before someone calls the cops."
  372.  
  373. >After a couple of close calls on your part involving tripping over wires, you're finally on the ground.
  374. >Rainbow slides down the ladder with practiced ease, then casually tears the bandana off.
  375. "Show-off."
  376. >She shrugs unapologetically.
  377.  
  378.  
  379. >"Come on, let's see what it looks like from afar!"
  380. >She sprints down a few dozen yards, dragging you along by your hand.
  381. >Her rainbow-colored ponytail whips about on the back of her head.
  382. >You barely manage to keep up.
  383.  
  384. >"Okay, this should be far enough."
  385. "Y-yeah, definitely."
  386. >You huff and puff with your hands above the knees, trying to catch your breath.
  387. >"Hahahaha... Err, you alright there, big bad wolf?"
  388. "I'm.... fine. And alive. God I need to exercise more."
  389. >Rainbow laughs.
  390. >"Here, put your hands behind your head and straighten out your back. You'll feel much better."
  391. >As you straighten out, you get a full view of Rainbow's handiwork.
  392.  
  393. >Even with the scant lighting illuminating the billboard, the harsh lines of the stencil is clearly visible.
  394. >On one end of the scale is something that you hadn't noticed before.
  395. >An all-caps "DASH-E."
  396. >It's been stylized to look like a fancy engraving on the pan.
  397. "It's beautiful," you whisper.
  398.  
  399. >Rainbow raises her phone and angles it, taking a picture of her latest defacement.
  400. >"No, it's AWESOME."
  401. >You beautifully smug bitch.
  402.  
  403. "So, you do this before every protest?"
  404. >"Not usually, but lately it's been the only way where anyone ever gets to see my art in person. Flim & Flam's been pushing "city beautification" projects pretty hard. My works barely last a day or two at most."
  405. >You hear a distant rumble slowly rising in volume behind you.
  406. >You turn around and see a wall of people, carrying flashlights and various signs.
  407. >"Besides, seeing a politically loaded art springing up out of nowhere tends to boost morale."
  408. >Rainbow gives you a smug smile.
  409. >"...Especially if it's done by such an illustrious street artist!"
  410. >You shake your head in mock disbelief.
  411. "Rainbow... You're just too much."
  412. >"Nah, I'm just awesome."
  413.  
  414. >She waves at the mass of people approaching.
  415. >"RAINBOW DAAAASHHH," you hear Pinkie shouting. "COME ON DASHIE, YOU'RE LATE!"
  416. >Rainbow turns around.
  417. >"So, what do you say? Are ya heading back home or sticking around for a while?"
  418. >You consider her proposal for a moment.
  419. "Fine. But just this once. I'm doing this only because you asked."
  420. >Is she... blushing?
  421. >"Th-that's cool. Come on! Let's mingle with the crowd!"
  422. >Before you can utter a word, Rainbow bolts towards the approaching protesters.
  423.  
  424.  
  425. >In the dark alley next to the building with a defaced billboard on top, a shadowy figure sticks his head out into the light.
  426. >He leans out the corner, staring at Twilight and Rainbow as they make themselves scarce in the mass of people walking down the avenue.
  427. >He pulls his hand out of the pocket, clutching an old, blocky cellphone.
  428. >He shuffles through a few numbers before dialing the right one.
  429. >*Muffled ringtone*
  430. >"[Speak.]"
  431. "I-I chased the target you asked me to," stuttered the figure, his voice edged with fear and adrenaline.
  432. >"[Good. And?]"
  433. "Sh-she's the right one. The one with th-the rainbow hair."
  434. >"[We expected as much. What about the other girl?]"
  435. "I want out," blurted the figure. "You asked me about the rainbow-hair, and I fulfilled the request. The purple one was not part of the deal!"
  436. >Silence.
  437. >"[Haven't we covered this already? You do what we say, or you have a chat with the local marine life. For ever.]"
  438. "O-of course."
  439. >"[Now, we ask again. What. About. The. Other. Girl?]"
  440. >The figure sighs.
  441. "She's... she's with the group. With the rainbow-hair."
  442. >"[Good. See how easy that was?]"
  443. "Can I just go home now?"
  444. >"[Nonsense! After all the work you've done tonight, I want you to have a good time. Go and join your friends and shout your "democracy" bullshit... Or whatever you entitled commies are wont to do. But do keep an eye out for those two, hmm?]"
  445. >"I- Yes. Thank you."
  446. >"[Have fun, boy.]"
  447. >*click*
  448.  
  449.  
  450. dAApi_mobile (safest@hoov.es) has joined #wondercolts
  451. Topic for #wondercolts is "HABBENING NAO #DownWithFnF #freeInternet"
  452. Topic set by ppie (ppie@uc.edu) 0 hour(s) 41 minutes ago
  453. <dAApi_mobile>: HELLO
  454. <dAApi_mobile>: I WENT TO GET A BOTTLE OF SODA AND
  455. <dAApi_mobile>: WHEN I CAME BACK EVERYONE WAS GONE
  456. <dAApi_mobile>: WHICH AVENUE WERE WE SUPPOSED TO GO TO
  457. <dAApi_mobile>: I JUST DONT KNOW WHAT WENT WRONG
  458. <dAApi_mobile>: HELLO?
  459. <dAApi_mobile>: IS ANYONE HERE
  460. dAApi_mobile (safest@hoov.es) has quit (Ping timeout: 240 seconds)
  461. <ppie_fone>: DERPY we're on the 17th
  462. <ppie_fone>: Oh nvm
  463. <pon3>: lmao
  464.  
  465. END OF PART ONE
  466.  
  467. +------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
  468. | Part Two (DR02) |
  469. +------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
  470. >>"Down with Flim & Flam!"
  471. >>"Free the net!"
  472. >>"Stop the subsidies!"
  473.  
  474. >Your ears are stuffed with various slogans being howled from all around you.
  475. >You've been to outdoor concerts before, but... this is something else.
  476. >There are picket signs raised everywhere.
  477. >Innumerable hands poke out upward from the crowd like twigs, holding flashlights, glowsticks, laser pointers...
  478. >The buildings around you are dancing with half-lit shadows and red dots.
  479. >To your right, Rainbow struts and chants the same words along with the rest of the crowd.
  480. >She stares at you, grinning.
  481. >"Impressed? I told ya you'd like it."
  482. >You nod without a word.
  483. >Something in the back of your mind screamed for you to leave before the cops arrived.
  484. >But this is undeniably awesome. Amazing.
  485. >Somehow, you feel... powerful.
  486. >Invulnerable, almost.
  487. >Surrounded by late-evening darkness and the wall of sound reverberating up and down the avenue, you feel energized. Protected.
  488. >There's no way anyone could pick you out from this mass of humans.
  489. >No one would know you had been here.
  490. >Not even your parents.
  491. >...Right?
  492.  
  493. >As the crowd continued to chant and march down the avenue, it impossibly grows in size.
  494. >One by one, familiar faces join in.
  495. >Classmates, athletes, even a professor or two.
  496. >You even see the cross-eyed girl you recognize from the party.
  497. >She meekly walks up to Starlight, who is surrounded by a rather fierce and bulky looking group of people.
  498. >It vaguely reminds you of a flock of bodyguards protecting a VIP.
  499. >Starlight spots the cross-eyed girl, and pushes past her security detail to greet her.
  500. >"DERPY! You finally made it," shouts the war vet, giving her a big hug.
  501. >Derpy meekly returns the hug, blending into the enclosing mass of bodies. You lose track of them in short order.
  502. >A chilling shudder ran up and down your spine.
  503. >Something was definitely off about Starlight.
  504.  
  505. >"Hey," someone shouts. "Look! Up on the billboard!"
  506. >All heads tilt upward and sideways, searching.
  507. >Up on the rooftop billboard where you watched Rainbow leave her handiwork, the offensive stencil and signature still remained visible.
  508. >A half dozen cops were already standing around it, busy taking pictures and mouthing off unheard phrases into their radios.
  509. >"Hey yeah, it is!" Rainbow shouts, proud glee creeping into her voice. "Oh man, that thing looks awesome as hell!"
  510. >You poke at her side, half-playfully.
  511. "Braggart," you whisper fiercely into her ear.
  512. >She sticks her tongue out at you.
  513. >"Hey, I've got the skills, I get to flaunt it."
  514. >You lovable cunt.
  515. >A rumble of happy murmur spreads quickly through the crowd.
  516. >Some are even taking out their cameras, taking pictures of it.
  517.  
  518. >You have to admit, that thing was a piece of art.
  519. >And from the looks of it, everyone else is enjoying it immensely as well.
  520. >>"That's 'his' doing, right?"
  521. >>"I heard Dash-E's actually a girl."
  522. >>"The dash-what now?"
  523. >A good portion of the crowd doesn't even seem to know who had done it. Others mostly whisper the possibility of one abrasive online activist being responsible.
  524. >They had no idea.
  525. >You can't help but smile at the thought.
  526. >You had seen the artist at work. Hell, you *knew* the artist.
  527. >You're probably one of very few people in the world who knew her true identity, regardless of how many people actually knew or cared about Dash-E's art.
  528. >Something in the pit of your stomach flutters. You feel special.
  529. >A mass of rainbow hair and slim jawline fills your view as you turn to face Rainbow.
  530. >Why had she done it?
  531. >She could've kept her identity secret to everyone, but she chose to reveal it to you.
  532. >And presumably, only you.
  533. >The upward crease of her smile looks enticing.
  534. >It looks so genuine.
  535. >It's almost as though she had been freed of a burden.
  536. >Why had you done it, Rainbow?
  537.  
  538. - -
  539.  
  540. >Elsewhere, near the billboard, a raised ladder slams itself against the building with a metal-on-brick thud.
  541. >Hurriedly, two officers make their way up the ladder.
  542. >One, middle-aged and mildly fit, tosses a bundle of elongated paint roller up on the roof before completing his climb.
  543. >The other, younger and incredibly scrawny, follows his senior. He's laden with buckets of heavy paint.
  544. >"Hurry your ass, Trender," shouts the older officer. "Bring the bucket up here, quickly. I fucking hate heights."
  545. >"Y-yes sheriff" responds the younger one.
  546. >When the still-shaking Trenderhoof barely makes it up to the rooftop, the older officer yanks one of the buckets from his hand.
  547. "Useless. Utterly useless. I can't believe I'm stuck with a spoiled weakling like you."
  548. >"I'm s-s-sorry, Sheriff Shining," stutters Trenderhoof.
  549. >Shining Armor growls, deftly lifting up all four buckets without effort.
  550. "Bring those rollers with you, and we're gonna have a serious talk later about your physical fitness... Or lack thereof."
  551. >Trender gulps hard, following his senior officer with short, staggered steps.
  552.  
  553. >Shining Armor wastes no time striding past a group of onlooking officers, who all give him a surprised salute.
  554. >"S-sheriff? We didn't expect to see--" starts one of the frightened sergeants.
  555. "Shut up, not in the mood."
  556. >Shining sets the bucket down in front of them, and gestures for Trender to set the bundle down.
  557. >The officers look at each other nervously.
  558. "The city council wasted no time chewing my ass about this one."
  559. >"P-pardon, sir?"
  560. "Apparently one of Flam's lawyers saw it being painted as he drove by, threatened to sue the mayor for assisting in libel or something."
  561. >He picks up one of the paint rollers, extending it to its maximum length.
  562. >"It's goddamn amazing how fast they work when *their* necks are on the line."
  563. >Shining dips the roller into the bucket, churning it a few times before handing it to one of the officers.
  564. >One of the younger officer grabs it awkwardly, not sure what to say.
  565. >"Err... Shouldn't the city council send workers to do this stuff?"
  566. "Out of the question. They want it painted over and gone tonight, and that means we get to be the pawns. Again."
  567. >Shining turns around, making his way towards the leaning ladder.
  568. "Get to painting, fellas. I need to go put a leash on the riot police before they do anything stupid."
  569.  
  570. - -
  571.  
  572. >Shining Armor!
  573. >You almost shout and wave at him, but manage to stop yourself halfway through.
  574. >Bad, bad idea.
  575. >You can't afford to let *this* crowd know about your brother.
  576. >Not right now, anyway.
  577. >Not to mention, it'd be incredibly damaging to his career if his coworkers saw you out on the street with the mob...
  578. >...This was a terrible mistake.
  579. >You can't be seen like this, especially if Shiny is around.
  580. >You've got to get out of here.
  581. >Nope, can't panic. Panic achieves nothing.
  582. >So, like a responsible adult, you swear out loud.
  583. "Fuck!"
  584. >Rainbow stares at you.
  585. >"Uh, Twilight? Are you okay?"
  586. "N-nothing! It's just that... I need to go home."
  587. >"What? But we're just barely getting started--"
  588. "I can't be here. I shouldn't be here. I'm so sorry, Dash."
  589. >"But--"
  590. >Suddenly, Rainbow is interrupted by an angry shout.
  591. >"Look! It's the goddamn pigs!"
  592. >A pale roid-monster next to Starlight points up at the billboard.
  593. >Shining Armor is handing a stick of... something to one of the officers.
  594. >It looks vaguely like a paint roller.
  595. >....Oh no.
  596. >They can't be.
  597.  
  598. >The officers begin painting over the stencil.
  599. >Seeing this unfold, the crowd erupts in jeers and obscenities.
  600. >>"Fuck the pigs!"
  601. >>"Shameless pawns, all of you!"
  602. >Unperturbed, the youngest of the group raises the wet roller, planting it firmly against the billboard.
  603. >It's dripping with nasty white paint.
  604. >One by one, the rest of the officers follow suit.
  605. >In no time, roughly half of the board is covered in white.
  606. >This incites further shouts from the crowd.
  607.  
  608. >You squeeze Rainbow's shoulder.
  609. "D-Dash?"
  610. >Her lips are sealed into a pale, thin line.
  611. >Oh man, she's taking it bad.
  612. >She croaks out a pained moan, like a magpie watching her eggs being shattered.
  613. >"I-I knew they'd be here to clean it up. But this is way quicker than usual..."
  614. >You see a hint of glint in her eye.
  615. >You sincerely hope she's not actually crying.
  616. >"Heh. I knew this would happen. It always does. Street art never lasts. B-but it never stops hurting, you know?"
  617. >Rainbow dips her head, hiding her face behind a wave of rainbow hair.
  618. >Should you be hugging her?
  619. >...That's what friends do, right? When they're feeling down?
  620. >But what if it comes out awkwardly?
  621. >Not knowing what to do, you just decide to look away.
  622. >There's nothing more disturbing than watching someone crying for the first time.
  623. >You hate yourself for being so awkward.
  624.  
  625.  
  626. >"Unbelievable," intones Starlight, somehow overtaking all other voices around her in volume.
  627. >All eyes are on her. Some shocked, some enraged.
  628. >"Isn't it amazing that when there's a criminal on the loose, targeting *us*, it takes them forever to respond?"
  629. >Starlight gestures at the officers busy painting over the billboard. It's almost completely white.
  630. >"Brothers and sisters, we've all suffered more than once in the hands of criminals. There's not one person in this crowd who hasn't been molested, robbed, assaulted, hurt..."
  631. >Starlight idly runs her fingers down her neck, over a nasty scar.
  632. >Her voice rises like fire.
  633. >"...And when we ask *them* for help, they drag their feet. We're lucky if they send officers who can't be bothered to file our reports correctly."
  634. >Some rowdy voices begin howling in agreement.
  635. >She's wrong.
  636. >The police is...lax, sure. But not your brother.
  637. >You know he tries so hard to make things better, but some things are just out of his control.
  638. >Starlight scans the crowd, meeting your eyes for a tiniest fraction of a second.
  639. >You can't help but recoil at the intensity of the stare.
  640. >Does she know? About Shiny?
  641. >Starlight continues.
  642. >"But as soon as someone stencils some cutting words on a billboard, we get a PLATOON of pigs within the hour, ready to lick boots and take promotions!!"
  643. >As though on cue, a mass of cops show up, making their way towards the avenue.
  644. >Like an eloquent and well-read lunatic, Starlight doesn't miss a beat of her speech even as frightened whispers arise.
  645. >"And here they are! Once more, ready to protect and serve their masters' interests!"
  646.  
  647. - -
  648.  
  649. >Elsewhere, Shining Armor stomps towards the smug looking riot unit captain.
  650. "Blueblood!!"
  651. >Shining pushes aside the armor-clad officers aside, coming within inches of the captain's face.
  652. "I asked you not to deploy until things got violent! What the hell are your men doing at the intersection?"
  653. >Blueblood looks on smugly, regarding the sheriff with a hint of disdain.
  654. >"Sheriff," he drones, "please control yourself. You know I am authorized to make my own calls in emergencies."
  655. "Emergencies!" Shining shouts. "Unarmed students! Marching and exercising their right to free speech! Tell me, which part of this situation screams emergency?"
  656. >"Sheriff, you know as well as I that protests are violent by definition. I am merely acting for the safety of the people in Canterlot."
  657. >Shining tears off his hat, leaning into Blueblood..
  658. "Blueblood," he bites off each syllable. "You can't escalate this. Don't provoke the--"
  659. >"If they're truly here for peaceful reasons, they will back down," barks Blueblood. "I am here to control the situation when -- IF -- they provoke violence."
  660.  
  661. >Shining's temper explodes.
  662. "Who paid you this time, huh?"
  663. >"Sheriff, please."
  664. "Did the town council chew on your ass too, or did they promise you a fat bonus for keeping this "under control?""
  665. >"I can assure you that no bribes are involved here, I'm just doing my job."
  666. >Doing his job, my ass.
  667. >In all his years as Canterlot Police Department's Sheriff, he's never seen anyone less competent and more corrupt than Blueblood.
  668. "Did you get a hotline call from your spineless aunt? I bet Flim and Flam was hounding her fat ass about this on the phone."
  669. >Blueblood's face reddened with fury.
  670. >"Do NOT bring President Celestia into this. She has FAR more important matters to tend to than some unwashed commoners protesting nonsense!"
  671. "Important matters like what? Damage control for her corporate overlords?"
  672. >"ENOUGH," howls Blueblood.
  673. "NO, this breaks all sorts of procedures and I will NOT have it."
  674. >"Sergeant, please escort Sheriff Shining out of my face!"
  675. >"Yes, sir!"
  676. >Before Shining can respond, a glowing stunstick taps him on the forehead.
  677. "HNNNRGHhhh..."
  678. >He goes limp, his limbs sprawling out indignantly in front of Blueblood.
  679. >The riot unit's sergeant drags Shining away from Blueblood's retinue.
  680. >"Good riddance," growls Blueblood.
  681.  
  682. >He gestures at a dozen harsh-looking figures standing nearby. They're wearing regular clothes.
  683. >They step forward, closing distance with Blueblood.
  684. >"You know what to do," intones Blueblood. "On my signal, make some noise, stir up confusion. Do whatever it takes to arrest the primary target."
  685. >He lowers his voice to a whisper.
  686. >"We capture Dash-E. Tonight."
  687. >"Are you sure she's the one?" Asks one of the thugs.
  688. >"It doesn't matter," hisses Blueblood. "If she's not the one, then we'll make up some evidence to make her look guilty. Do YOUR job and I'll worry about mine."
  689. >They nod in unison, and scurry away into back alleys and storefronts.
  690. >Some of them creep their way towards the oncoming protesters, blending into the masses.
  691. >Blueblood smiles.
  692. >"Sergeant, get city council on the comms. Ask them to declare a state of emergency."
  693. >"They'll want a reason, sir. What should I tell them?"
  694. >"Imminent danger of riots," says Blueblood. "Oh, and no-fly zone for press 'copters, the usual."
  695. >"Right away, sir."
  696. >Blueblood turns and walks onward, clicking his visor shut.
  697. >He waits for the radio to power on for a moment before speaking.
  698. >"All units, form up."
  699.  
  700. - -
  701.  
  702. >Starlight throws the flashlight on the ground in a dramatic display of anger and electric spark.
  703. >She points at the separate groups of riot police in turn, her voice ringing out like mourning bells in winter.
  704. >"This is NOT the system I enlisted to fight for! My friends didn't die in vain on foreign soil just to let shameless bootlickers like those bully us into submission!"
  705. >Starlight reaches down, grabbing a chipped piece of pavement.
  706. >She chucks it expertly, landing it squarely in the head of one of the officers.
  707. >A huge portion of the crowd erupts into a howl of approval.
  708. >The rest of the crowd looks at each other, pensive and unsure what to do.
  709. >"Guys, wait!" Pinkie shouts. "This isn't what we set out to do! Peaceful protest, remember??"
  710. >If anyone heard what Pinkie had to say, they didn't show it.
  711. >"G-guys? Please listen?"
  712. >Starlight picks up another piece of pavement.
  713. >"The time of meek submission ends today!"
  714. >She steps forward, still flanked by a group of bodyguards.
  715. >This is ridiculous. Are they actually protecting her? From what?
  716. >Starlight raises her rock-clutching fist.
  717. >"WHO'S WITH ME?"
  718. >All around you the wall of sound returns, but with much more menace.
  719. >Fists are raised into the air as the deafening shouts continue.
  720. >>"Fuck yeah!"
  721. >>"Down with the pigs!"
  722. >>"Lead the way, girl!"
  723.  
  724. >You shout at the stunned looking Rainbow Dash.
  725. "We've got to get out of here! Everyone's gone flippin' mad!"
  726. >That pulls her out of her stupor.
  727. >She stands up in a blur of rainbows almost yanking your arm out of the socket.
  728. "Ow! Easy--"
  729. >"No time," she shouts back. "We need to get out of here before the riot unit blocks all the alleyways!"
  730. >From the corner of your eye, you see multiple figures breaking off from the crowd.
  731. >They don't look like students--
  732. >One of them whips his arm sideways, extending a tactical baton.
  733. "I-I don't think we're alone, Dash..."
  734. >She pivots her head sideways, looking over her shoulder.
  735. >Her eyes widen.
  736. >"Run, Twi. RUN!"
  737.  
  738. END OF PART TWO
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