Kitty’s wings flapped hard as she rounded another corner. She rose in the air as she spotted lines of laundry and beyond that a narrow alleyway. With a deft barrel roll she glided through the taut lines. Behind the twin grey clad Thestrals were gaining speed braking for her to stop in the name of their regent, one ahead of the other. Kitty scoffed and clipped a still wet frock coat off the rack; even under her mask she could smell the lavender oil, it was so strong. She glanced behind.
“You bloody thief,” one shouted at her tail. “Stop!”
“Careful what you wish for love,” Kitty muttered before stopping suddenly on a gust of wing-born wind and flipped around. The lead guard slammed into Kitty’s hind hoof as she used him as a stepping stone to launch herself at the other Thestral. He gasped in shock and tried to evade the small Pegasus but wasn’t quick enough. She pulled the coat over his head, hooking it on the metal fins that jutted out along the sides of the helm. Kitty shoved him away and darted into the alley. Folding her wings, and rolling into her fall, she came up on her hooves and galloped on. She skidded around a corner coming onto Silscore Avenue she realized by the line of coffee houses down either side of the street . Only another few blocks before she’d come to Azora Bridge.
Kitty’s chest heaved and her wings burned from exertion but she ran on bowing full well the guards would have a merry time of her if they ever got hooves in her. Turning into another alley Kitty barely ducked an attempt to grab her from above; only years dodging knife jabs in back alleys saved her pelt. She hit a garbage can, landing heavily in the muck and junk it spewed across the dirty cobblestones. She got a glimpse of her assailant; one of the guards from earlier. Given his helm was missing she deduced it's been the one she blindfolded.
“Busy couldn’t make it?” She said with a breathy chuckle as she stood back up.
Snarling, he lunged at her again only to be jabbed once, twice, thrice in the muzzle for his troubles. He fell back dazed. Kitty pushed her attack and rounded on him, giving the hapless stallion a glimpse of her tail before introducing him to her hind hooves. The buck sent him sprawling in the muck and Kitty bolted once more, never looking back to see if he got back up.
For once in her life, Kitty was relieved to see Azora Bridge. She strolled across the cool cobblestones of the massive stone bridge, a leisurely tune springing from her pursed lips; some little jingle she’d heard a few nights ago. The ghostly white lanterns above glinted off the wet stones with their ethereal light. A few more corpses had been added to the line of decaying troublemakers high above the bridge since last she’d came this way. They were suspended from cords of taut wire lashed to the iron beams that crisscrossed overhead. What made Kitty shiver was that these ones had been skinned alive, and pretty damn recently- they were still dripping blood! One of them was even a unicorn filly barely old enough to have her cutie mark. Kitty pulled her coat tighter about herself.
It had been hours after her encounter with the City Guard. She had pulled a vanish after her fight in the alley, finding refuge in a pawn shop not far from the bridge and waited out the resulting search. Her surprised host had been offended at the late company but a glimpse of Kitty’s knife and a hooful of gold bits secured his tongue. Kitty was free of her thick coats and her mask. A cool mist had settled over the Brass Lantern District below, and was clawing its way up the foreboding pillars of the bridge.
Kitty finally felt herself relax as she descended into the Undercity of Canterlot. Here the guard presence was either nonexistent or paid off. Beggars, thieves, thugs, and all other manner of the craven and destitute congregated here in droves, having nowhere else to go. A different type of lord presided here than he knew that sat in their ivory towers high above true city, ad these ones ruled with an iron hoof. Or at least they did until the Nightmare arrived, now they just kept their heads down as if thinking the Nightmare is just some storm passing overhead. It showed as the more unruly gangs began taking what they could until the Guard had deemed their activity ‘rebellious’ and acted accordingly. Kitty dreaded going near the Azora Bridge due to the stench the army of rotting, skinless corpses produced.
Kitty meandered her way toward the Crow’s Call. It was a sagging two-story building perched between a condemned warehouse and brothel. A pair of fillies in revealing small clothes were enjoying a smoke outside. Both had shared her bed at one time or another and they waved at Kitty with a flurry of giggles. Kitty wave right back and kissed at the air before ducking into the scarred doorway of the Call.
As usual business was lousy with just two poor sods sulking over some mugs at the bar. They were huddled close together and their long coats were tattered. They both eyed her suspiciously but she didn’t recognize them as regulars. Kitty decided to pay them no mind as she settled into her preferred stool at the bar’s end. She shrugged off her pack with a grunt and rolled her sore shoulders. Talon, a grizzled Pegasus stallion in his mid fifty’s or so, came out of the back just then, a small cask on his back. His black mane was pulled back into a tight knot and he wore a ruddy thick shirt and vest, the sleeves rolled up. He set the cask down and instantly refilled the poor pair of ponies mugs down at the other end of the bar before turning to Kitty.
“You’re not dead.” He drawled.
“Yep,” she said. “Sadly your stores of whiskey are yet again victim to my coin.” She placed a few bits on the bar which Talon scooped up a second later. He poured her a glass of amber ambrosia and left her the bottle which bore Gryphosy markers along its neck. She downed the glass with ease, relishing the burn. One of the ponies, an ash grey unicorn, began sobbing quietly and his friend, a bright blue earth pony, patted his back. Kitty raised an eyebrow and looked to Talon. The stallion gave her a stiff shake of his head as of to say ‘it wasn’t her concern’. She flipped off a few signs only ponies of the Undercity recognized. They legit? She asked.
He signed back. Yeah.
“Pussies,” she mumbled, earning her a glare from Talon. She had the good sense to look sheepish before asking,” You seen Leech? I got that item his client wanted.” She chuckled and pulled the letter she’d snagged earlier from her coat pocket. “I even found something real interesting. Figure he can pony me in the direction of a buyer.”
“What’s that?” Talon asked in a bored tone of his, eyeing the piece of paper in her hoof.
“A signed letter from the Nightmare herself,” Kitty said gleefully and with a hint of pride in her voice.
The pair down the bar looked up at her with sudden interest right then. Even Talon’s eyes widened as he asked,” Where the bloody hell’d you did that?!”
“Turns out my mark- the lucky stallion- is pretty cozy with the Regent,” Kitty said, placing the letter in her coat pocket once more. She poured herself another shot.“I got a feeling a forger would give their right hooves for the Nightmare’s signature.”
“Did you kill them?”
Kitty looked up and found one of the ponies- the sod that had been sobbing actually- was up and glaring at her, puffy, red eyes laced with hate.
“Excuse me?” She asked, setting her glass down.
“Your mark. Did you kill him?”
“No,” she said slowly, matching his glare. “ Why the flying fuck would I?”
“He’s a traitor!” As if that was obvious to Kitty. “Why didn’t you kill him?!” He snarled and took a step forward.
Kitty laughed, finding the question ridiculous. “Cause I’m no murderer.” She looked to Talon. “The hell? You said these guys were legit.”
Undeterred by her remark, and looking quite peeved, the grey unicorn lunged at Kitty, screaming,” Why didn’t you kill him!?”
Kitty whipped her knife out a second later and the stallion had the presence of mind to skid to a halt before it was planted in his throat. Kitty remained in her seat, a dark glare boring into the stallion’s tear stained eyes. The edge of her knife barely touched the fur under his chin. What this hornhead’s deal was, was anyone’s guess.
“Kitty, enough!” Talon barked. “Daze, take Cuffs up to his room. Get some sleep the both of ya. You’re gonna need it.”
The earth pony nodded, thanking Talon and coaxed his friend away who began crying as he was pulled away to the rickety stairs that led to the second floor. Kitty slid her knife back into the fold of her wing.
“What the fuck was that about?”
Her answer came when the earth pony said,” The Sun rises friend.” Kitty’s eyes widened as Talon returned the phrase. She whipped her head around to catch the pair’s now retreating tails. Now she understood. Kitty whipped her head backs around to stare at Talon with wide eyes.
“Rebels!” She hissed. “Have you lost your mind?! If you’re caught harboring them, they’ll skin you right alongside those two!”
“My bar,” he said simply and with finality. “Finish your whiskey I’m tired.”
Kitty lowered her voice. “I’m serious. You’re gonna get yourself killed dealing with those sort.”
“I’ve harbored worse,” Talon shot back, matching the mare’s gaze with one of solid as steel. “One such case sitting here drinking my whiskey. Now finish your damn drink and get out of my bar.”
He stomped his way into the back, ignoring Kitty’s shouts after him.
A Nightmare Takeover AU
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