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Pawn

By Alycorn
Created: 3rd March 2021 03:32:09 AM

  1. Pawn
  2. A story inspired by 5s/4
  3.  
  4. “Don't understand what? That I used two pawns to capture a knight and topple a king? It's CHESS Danny... but you wouldn't understand that.” - Vlad Plasmus, Danny Phantom
  5.  
  6.         The world's gone sideways on me. Seattle's fallin' apart, my little brother is a pony, there's a bunch of other ponies, and somehow I got stuck in the middle of it all, a Mobster with a motorcycle, a messenger bag, and a box full of fancy jewelry.
  7.  
  8.         How the hell did this happen?
  9.  
  10.  
  11. Chapter One: Quarter Dollar Chess Piece
  12.         -May 1st, 2020, 1213 Hrs-
  13.         “Look, Mr. Q, I'm not trying to screw you here. I'm not an enforcer, I'm not a fighter, I'm the messenger. We've been playing this little song and dance for a while now, and I've laid out what the boss wants, and what he's willing to give you in exchange for this set of artifacts.” I growl out, feeling very frustrated as I glare down the odd man on the other-side of the table.
  14.  
  15.         The office high-rise is very fancy indeed, a good twenty stories up in a very exclusive office building, the office of an art dealer only known by his moniker of 'Q'. I've been in yet another meeting with him, the fifth one this week in fact, and it's another God-Be-Damned long one. Seven hours of wheeling, small talk, pleasantries, veiled threats from both sides, and enough haggling to make a second-world country marketplace vendor faint from either joy or anguish because they're about to score huge or lose much, much more.
  16.  
  17.         All over five necklaces and a frigging tiara. Six art pieces. Stuff the boss wants. And one way or another, the boss gets what the boss wants. Always. Comes with being the boss of the Mob, yeah? Of course, Q doesn't seem to care, the black-and-white haired man as aloof as he always has been, every time we start working on one of these deals.
  18.  
  19.         Working for the Mob isn't that bad... at least, not all the time anyway. It's got it's up and downs, gang warfare or fights between the families, Mafiaso trying to muscle in on our territory here in Seattle, someone steals this, takes over that, takes over this drug ring, that prostitute ring got found out by the boys in blue, yadda yadda. It's a long story, old as America and it's been written since the Mob formed from the first Irish boys working on the docks, trying to get that dream, the American Dream. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. What a crock of bullshit.
  20.  
  21.         Ah well, shit is what shit does, and that's festering all over this damned world. There's a few bright spots here and there, but they hold no place in this conversation, which my mind just wandered away from. Better pull myself together, got shit to deal with now first. The rest of the shit can wait.
  22.  
  23.         “Mr. McCloud, I'm going to be blunt- I understand what you're working with at the moment, and what your bosses offer is. I'm telling you that these artifacts are worth a bit more then the four million he's offered.” Q says, the smarmy bastard sitting back with a satisfied smirk on his face. His black-and-white pinstriped suit looking as perfect as it did when we started this farce, my own suit a bit wrinkled from sitting down for so damn long, his angular face hiding nothing and yet hiding everything.
  24.  
  25.         “And I'm tellin' ye Mr. Q, yer' not going to get a better offer!” I say with as much force I can muster, which is quite a bit considering that my accent is actually starting to get the better of me. “The Mob is being [i]very[/i] generous with our offer of four million. The mafiaso will just try to kill you to take it, and the private collectors won't offers as much as we will.”
  26.  
  27.         I huff, taking a moment to look off to the side, glancing at myself in the mirror. Besides the annoyed look on my face, I look your standard rough and tough dock boy. Five foot eleven, broad shoulders that don't look like they should fit in the sharp black suit I'm wearing, messy brown hair tied back in a decently long ponytail, about to my shoulders, sharp green eyes centered in a solidly jawed face spotted across the nose with freckles giving me my own glare right back before I turn my attention back to Q. “It's our final offer Mr. Q. I have the briefcase right here. You can count the money yourself before I leave.”
  28.  
  29.         “... Oh very well, you are trying so hard to drive this deal, Mr. McCloud.” The sharply dressed, if eccentric art collector says with a sigh as he closes the case containing the jewelry and softly pushes it across the table towards me. As he does, I carefully lift the briefcase over the jewelry case and set it in front of him, snapping it open as I turn it around smoothly. Just like you'd see in the movies. I know, because I've been doing it for too damn long now.
  30.  
  31.         “The money is right here, Mr. Q.” I say, letting the briefcase go as I stand, putting a hand on the jewelry case, and he starts counting his money. He's taking his bloody damned time doing so, but before too long he's closed the case and he nodded his consent.
  32.  
  33.         “Very well Mr. McCloud. Go and tell your Boss that is has been, as always, a pleasure doing business with the Mob, and I look forwards to our next dealing.” The smarmy bastard, being all pleasant after that bloody ordeal.
  34.  
  35.         “A pleasure, Mr. Q. Good Day.” I manage to say in as pleasant and accent-free tone as possible before make my out of the building as fast as humanly possible, practically leaping down the stairs, carefully handling my package to ensure no damage is done to it, sliding it into a messenger bag. Before I reach the exit, I slip into the public restroom of Mr. Q's offices on the first floor and quickly strip out of the monkey suit and replace it with a much more comfortable black cotton teeshirt and a pair of jeans and leather boots.
  36.  
  37.         The moment I'm out of the suit, it's in the messenger bag as well and I'm out the door, quickly moving over to my motorcycle. A Harley Davidson Nightrider, specially made for me as a twentieth birthday present from the boss. The smooth, curved lines of the bike helped to highlight the beautiful paint and trim of my ride, the chestnut brown coloring broken only on the tank, which had a clearly marked out name in white and black- The Pony Express.
  38.  
  39.         When you're the fastest and most dependable messenger/delivery man/dealer around, you end up getting nicknames like that, and almost everyone in the Mob just called me Pony, or The Express. Only the boss used my full title, and very rarely, my full name. Michael McCloud, the Third. Twenty-seven years old, twenty eight today. Seems like times passed too damn fast for my tastes. Too much shit to deal with.
  40.  
  41.         My bike revs hard as I start it up, flipping my helmet onto my head and latching it in a smooth motion, the horses ready to fly as I lay into the handle and tear out of the parking lot like a bat outta hell, glad to be on the road once again as I tap my helmet, activating the bluetooth built into the helm.
  42.  
  43.         *BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BE-Click* “This better be good news Pony.” The low growl of my Enforcer drifts into my ear. My best friend since before all this shit started, Brick. Stupid name, sure, but hey, never said he was named for anything besides how friggin' big the guy is. Built like a brick shithouse.
  44.  
  45.         “Brick, do I ever give you bad news?” I drawl, sarcasm practically drooling from my mouth as I  weave around a sixteen wheeler and rev my bike harder. “I got the package, let the boss know that it's good to go and I have it covered. I'll deliver it personally, as usual, at the Meet-up. Three weeks.”
  46.  
  47.         “Yeah yeah. Fine, good work Pony-boy, no one knows what you got or who you got it from, blah-blah. I'll let the boss know.” Ahhh that's Brick for ya, blunt as his namesake. Pity, he's a great guy to party around, but here I am, in Seattle, while he's hanging with the Boss in NYC. “Oh, and Michael... Happy Birthday. Twenty Eight years is a long ass time. Glad to see you've made it this far.”
  48.  
  49.         I chuckle and shake my head lightly. “Thanks Brick. It'll be thirty before you know it and then you'll be making fun of me instead of congratulating me.” I say before hanging up, letting out a breath as the wind whips against my body comfortingly. Personally, I think this is what flying, really flying, feels like. The roar of the wind against your body, the pressure of the speed your traveling at pressing at every inch as you move so fast, faster then everything around you.
  50.  
  51.         Wish I could fly, heh. That'd be something to see, the amazing flying Irish Mobster. Doesn't quite roll off the tongue like the Flying Nun, but meh, we'll roll with it for now.
  52.  
  53.         I quickly pull out of the main part of the city and start into the suburbs towards my apartment building (owned and maintained by the Mob, not that 60% of the people living there know that) when my bluetooth starts ringin', informing me I got a call from my little brother. Now -that- puts a smile on my face as I tap the side of my helmet to answer the call.
  54.  
  55.         “You've reached the Pony Express.” I chuckle, a grin on my face as I wait for my brother to speak up.
  56.  
  57.         “Big Brother! Finished that business deal finally? Another high-class art piece for that Museum in Boston, right?” The eager voice of my little brother echos through my earpiece, as high and as boyish as ever, even though he's turning twenty five. My brother, the man child. I shake my head, chuckling harder, almost laughter, as I reply.
  58.  
  59.         “Yeah, finished it up. Sorry, I have to bring work home to the party, but hey, I'm bringing some other things too. Like your presents.” I hum, revving my engine a bit harder, that much more excited to get home.
  60.  
  61.         “YES! Can't wait! See you soon BBBFF!” My brother crows through my earpiece, making me shake my head again. Several years off the air and he -still- loves that show. He tried to get me into it, and it's alright. I mean, Lauren Faust is spectacular, and her vision was pretty awesome, but it wasn't really my thing, especially with having to work all the time in order to provide for me and my little brother.
  62.  
  63.         “Yeah yeah, see you soon Danny-boy.” I say, hanging up as my mind turns to the last fifteen years of my life. The death of my parents, after the adoption of my little brother, running from the law to avoid the foster houses, finding my Uncle, who my parents never wanted me to meet, to keep me away from the mob... I shake my head, clearing the dark thoughts of all the things I've done to keep my brother and myself safe.
  64.  
  65.         A few more minutes of peaceful, mindless riding and I'm rolling into my parking spot, kicking out the stand and shutting down my bike, a low breath drifting from my lips as I open the seat to pull out a few carefully wrapped presents, a brown bag with a particular bottle of booze in it, and check that my messenger bag still has everything in it. As usual, no problems. This bag has never, ever let me down.
  66.  
  67.         I walk up the stairs, whistling as I attempt to cheer myself and reassert the mask of the delivery boy/ business man that my little brother thinks I am. As my adopted brother, he's got the protection from the Mob, but no connections. He doesn't know, and as far as I am concerned, he will never know. He doesn't need to know, and knowing would only put him in danger.
  68.  
  69.         I smile as I flick my key out, thinking about my brother. Danny was always the special one. Knew it from the moment I met him when I was six, when my parents adopted him. I was a little annoyed at first. All the attention that my parents had given me before was now going to him, or was split between the two of us. I had actually gotten into a row about it with my parents when I turned nine, and that's when my Dad pulled me aside and gave me a talk I'd never forget.
  70.  
  71.         I love my Dad. He was a great man, the greatest man. The marine, the fisherman, the story crafter, a horrible singer, teller of even worse jokes, and the strongest man in the world in my eyes. He sat me down and explained to me where he got the strength to do all those things. His love for my Momma. Love for Me. Love for my new little brother. Love for our family. All of our family.
  72.  
  73.         Something changed that day. I don't know what it was, but I vowed that I would be there for my family. Be there for my little brother, from that day on wards. Twenty years is a long time to keep on a promise, but I haven't stopped yet.
  74.  
  75.         That puts a solid smile on my face as I open the door, thinking of family, the good times, the bad times, and more importantly, that my family is safe, because of me. “Hey Danny-boy! Where you at little brother?” I yell out, looking around to avoid a sure-fire tackleglomp, mostly to avoid damaging my packages.
  76.  
  77.         “Michael!” His excited tone reaches me as he whips around the corners, sliding across the wood floor of our apartment on his socks. Heh, ever the child, that's my little brother. Danny McCloud, twenty five as of today, chocolate brown hair, green eyes, pale white skin from sitting inside all the damn time, and video game fanatic. He's always been a short, weedy one, five-five and thin as a bean pole, and if he didn't have his student ID with him you'd swear he's 14. I grin at him as he comes charging hard and quickly put my bags aside as he tackles me with all 125 pounds of him. Which is to say, he doesn't budge me an inch and instead glomps me in a big hug.
  78.  
  79.         I laugh, hugging him back. “Happy birthday Danny, you got a delivery from the Pony Express.”  I grin, rubbing his head in a way that gets him to let go and pout at me. He hates it when I do that, but it's easy enough to get him to move as I grab the bags and make my way towards the kitchen. My little six room apartment really isn't that little. It's pretty big honestly, with a full kitchen and dining room, a large entertainment/living room that I call 'The Cave', my bedroom, the 'guest' bedroom, which is Danny's room, and a large bathroom/shower. Over all, a really nice place.
  80.  
  81.         I drop the bags on the counter and check my watch. Thirteen-fifteen. Not bad for a seven hour meeting, and then a ten minute ride home. Good to be back. I smile as I hear Danny following me. “So, what did you get me, what did you get me, huh?” He asks, bouncing a bit, making me shake my head and sigh, a common action around my house. “Danny, come on bro, we haven't even started the party yet. Anyone else coming?”
  82.  
  83.         “Nah, just us today. The guys from the card shop couldn't come because we had a tournament today.” Danny says, shrugging as I set my messenger bag on the table.
  84.  
  85.         “Huh, shame, those guys can be fun to have around. But, if we're gonna get started, then your first present is to get to see... this.” I slide the jewelry box out and open it up so that Danny can look at it and he gasps.
  86.  
  87.         “The Elements of Harmony!” He says, looking up and close at the beautiful pieces of jewelry. “This is what you were dealing over?”
  88.  
  89.         I blink and look at the five necklaces and the tiara... crown... whatever the hell it is, once more. “... Huh. They do look like the elements, don't they?” I murmur. Didn't notice that while I was dealing. The golden necklaces and tiara all had the proper jewels and coloring. They were perfect. Literally perfect. Of course I knew that, that's why we were dealing so much for them.
  90.  
  91.         “That's so cool! And they're a museum piece right?” Danny asks, marveling over them, reaching out to pick up one, though I smack his hand away. “No touch. And yes, yes they are. I'm not sure for who, or why they are though. They're very rare art pieces that are being donated.”
  92.  
  93.         Lies. All lies. But lies that my little brother can believe. Lies that are important for him to believe, to keep him out of trouble, keep him away from the Mob. “The Boss figured they'd look really nice as a period piece, or just on display as a solo art piece. It's some of the finest jewelry we've seen, and yet it's all hand worked, no machinery was used on it. Makes it worth a small fortune, and yet it's just being given away.” I explain. “A labor of love that my boss just needed to have to display.”
  94.  
  95.         Danny and I looked at the jewelry for a few minutes, Danny just  kind of looking blankly at them for a moment, like he was entranced. I frown, and snap my fingers in front of his face to snap him back into focus. He shakes his head like a dog and blinks a few times before looking back at the finely crafted art in front of him.
  96.  
  97.         “Wow, that's soooo cool!” Danny grins as I close the box and put them back into my messenger bag, tossing my suit jacket and pants aside. “Hey, are you gonna set up the side car today? You promised you'd give me a ride!”
  98.  
  99.         I hum. Danny had bought me a really awesome side-car attachment for my motorcycle, painted with a herd of running mustangs on the side of it, to go with the pony theme. I hadn't been planning on setting it up for a while, but I did promise that I'd take him for a ride in it when I did. “I'll work on it later Danny boy. So, cake, or presents first?”
  100.  
  101.         ------LineBreak-----
  102.        
  103.         -May 1st, 2020. 2254 Hrs-
  104.         The two person party went on without a hitch. Watched a few movies (including 'Equestria Girls'. Ugh. I still don't get his fascination with that show) and re-watched a few episodes of that show on his insistence. He loved his presents, a Princess Luna plushie that I had found in the discount bin at Walmart, (not that he'll EVER know that), and the newest Call of Duty game. Not the fanciest gifts ever, but he was happy, and wouldn't go anywhere without his plushie, so I figures it goes well.
  105.  
  106.         Then again, Luna is his favorite pony. He's got enough pictures of her on his computer, so I figure he's more then happy to have her to cuddle with. Still a kid, needing a plushie to hug to sleep, but hey, no one else needs to know that.
  107.  
  108.         I let out a deep breath as I recline on my couch in the lounge, smiling to myself. It was a good day, I had a nice, smooth glass of liquor as a birthday present to myself, we got the sidecar for my motorcycle set up, my family was safe, my bank account had a nice big addition to it for today's job, with the other half coming upon delivery... Yeah. Today was a good day.
  109.  
  110.         I chuckle as I watch the TV. An old episode of Star Trek, the Next Generation is playing, and Captain Picard is dealing with that old time lord loon that seems to find humans a fascinating play toy.
  111. I laugh loudly as Picard practically leaps out of bed when the time lord is laying there with him.
  112.  
  113.         “Hah! I forgot how good this show was.” I snigger, rubbing my chin as I take another sip of my alcohol when a word slips from the TV that makes me spit it back out in shock.
  114.  
  115.         “Damn it Q!”
  116.  
  117.         Woah, wait, what? I refocus on the TV, putting my drink down and actually watching and listening. The time lord guy talks back to Pickard, and the voice sounds very, very familiar, which spikes a little confusion in my mind.
  118.  
  119.         Pickard calls him Q again, and Q keeps talking, and the more he does, the more he sounds like Mr. Q, that damned auctioneer. The more he talks, the more similar the two are... What the fuck am I thinking?
  120.  
  121.         I stand up, shaking my head as I turn off the TV and finish my glass of booze with a gulp. Nope, that's my last glass tonight, I'm connecting fictional characters with reality. I've officially had too much to drink.
  122.  
  123.         Heh. At least my little brother had a good birthday. I guess I did too. I check my watch. Twenty-three hundred. Yeah, it's time to sleep. I chuckle as it hit's twenty-three-oh-one. My date and time of birth. I smile warmly, humming the birthday song to myself under my breath as I go to the bed room and slide under the covers.
  124.  
  125.         Yeah, it's gonna be a good night.
  126.  
  127. -End Chapter 1-
  128.  
  129. Chapter Two: Setting the Board
  130.         -May 2nd, 2020. 1015 AM-
  131.         I yawn as I slowly push myself out of my bed, rubbing the back of my head softly, wearily blinking as my hand slowly uncurls itself from the grip of my Thompson Submachine gun. Good ol' Tommy. Almost a hundred years old, and still works just as good as she did when she was made, my tomgirl. I smile and softly pat the pillow that it's hidden under, and after a moment, lift the pillow up to check the safety, check the magazine (twenty round stick mag. I got a few drum mags, but they don't fit under the pillow), put her back down and away, and roll out of bed, yawning again as I get ready to start breakfast.
  132.  
  133.         I stumble a bit as I get to the hallway. Damn, that was some quality liquor. Malt. As strong as 151 and as smooth as cream soda. The good stuff. I hum warmly, a little light headed but still ok as I get myself up and on the move, slowly walking forwards, walking down the hall past my little brothers room. He's sleeping peacefully... no, wait.
  134.  
  135.         I freeze, looking at his door, and after a moment, press my ear to the door. Something doesn't feel right. A few moments pass, and I hear a quiet whimper. Shit, another nightmare. I curse softly. He's been having on and off night terrors since the show ended. That last episode... hell, I wasn't even a fan of the show and it spooked me. It was just off. So damn dark, slightly demented... like one of the writers had written it on LSD and Shrooms. Hallucinations and Paranoia. I slowly open the door, the whimper a bit louder now as I step inside.
  136.  
  137.         Danny is curled up tightly under the covers, squeezing his plushie close. He's got tears on his face, fresh and still falling, and is shaking like he's in the middle of a blizzard. I curse, wishing that Mom was here. She'd be able to handle his nightmares. She was always good at calming us down, but Mom isn't here, so it's on my shoulders. I softly place a hand on his shoulder, and shake it, whispering urgently. “Danny. Danny. Danny! Come on Danny, wake up buddy, it's just a nightmare. It's another dream, wake up Danny!”
  138.  
  139.         He wakes up with a gasp and a jolt, flinching away from my touch, and my heart breaks a bit as he looks at me in terror, exactly how I'd imagine he'd look at me if I ever told him what I really did for a living, who I really worked for. His eyes slowly start to focus and he bites back his whimpers and tears, wiping his face. “M-michael...”
  140.  
  141.         I softly rub his head. “Hey little brother. The dream come back? Come on, take a deep breath. It's just a dream. You're fine, you're safe, that stupid mythological creature ain't gonna come knocking round our door, and if he does, you know that your big brother's gonna break him.” I say, grinning at him warmly, comfortingly... or at least, I think I am. He shivers for a few moments more and sits up, shaking his head softly as he clutches at that Luna plushie. I take a moment to look around his room. His computer is blacked out. He must have turned it off. He always did prefer the dark to sleep in, and I can barely make out the posters and figurines from all kinds of anime and of course My Little Pony that adorn his walls and book shelves.
  142.  
  143.         “It...” His voice makes my head rotate back to him, my focus fully on my quivering little brother, who lets out a soft breath before continuing, “It just felt too real Michael... it always does.” He mutters. “It felt... different this time though. More real... HE came... was laughing at me, because I was standing up against him, trying to keep him from... from Luna...”
  144.  
  145.         The words pour out of his mouth as he starts to blabber about the dream, talking out the details. It's actually pretty freaky how detailed these lucid nightmares of his are. He's a pony in the dream, never can tell who according to him, and this pony ends up trying to fight Discord, only to watch in terror as the draconequus did something to Luna that made her vanish in a bright flash of white, and then to do the same to him.
  146.  
  147.         I shake my head and softly rub his head again, trying to be as comforting as possible. I'm not quite made for this sort of thing. I've always bottled my own emotions, hid them and then let them out later. It's easier to keep focus that way, to get through the shit in life. “Hey, hey, calm down Danny boy. It's just a nightmare.”
  148.  
  149.         “But it felt so damn REAL Michael! It always does!” Danny whispers, shaking his head again. I let out a hard sigh and lean back a bit, letting my hand leave his head.
  150.  
  151.         “I know Danny. But it's a nightmare. It's your mind trying to terrify you or some shit like that. We know it sucks, but you need to get it together man. I know it's hard, but you need to let it go. Can you do that for me? Just for now. If you want to talk it out later, I hear ya, but at the moment I need you to get outta bed. I'm gonna start breakfast, and we need to eat if we're gonna make it to the zoo.” I say, Danny perking up a bit at the mentioning of the Seattle Zoo and Aquarium.
  152.  
  153.         “We're going to the zoo?” He says, a bit of a smile coming to his face.
  154.  
  155.         “Yeah, we're going to the zoo. Another adventure to be found, I'm sure.” I say, shaking my head. I hate the damn place, but he thinks it's awesome, and I did promise I'd take him somewhere. Besides, he always feels better after going to the zoo. Dunno what that's all about, but it seemed to do a decent job of chilling him out after a nightmare, so I guess it makes a pretty good deal all around.
  156.  
  157.         I grin at him and offer my fist for a fistbump, which he gladly returns, a bit of a smile coming to his face before I turn and walk out the door to his room, heading back towards my kitchen to start up breakfast as I hear him start the shower.
  158.  
  159.         That's one crisis solved. I smirk, feeling rather pleased with myself as I start making omelets.
  160.  
  161.         ----Linebreak---
  162.  
  163.         Breakfast went pretty smoothly, after Danny came out of the shower, still clinging to that Luna plushie. I guess it's comforting to him, and I'm glad he's enjoying his present, I just hope he leaves it at home when we go out. No need for him to make a fool of himself or end up loosing it. I'm pretty sure there aren't many of those plushies left if they aren't hand made by fans of the show. I mean, the shows been gone for five years now. I'd imagine it's difficult to find a fan who's still dead on for the show, who can make plushies, who's willing to make one for you.
  164.  
  165.         We ate breakfast pretty slowly as I checked my watch again, eyes glancing over the digital display. Zero eight twenty. Perfect. I grin as I finish my food and put the dishes in the dishwasher and stand up, stretching. “Alright little brother. One more present for ya, and then we can get rolling.”
  166.  
  167.         Danny hums, tilting his head as he looks at me. “Why didn't you give me it yesterday?”
  168.  
  169.         “Well, it's a gift that you kinda need, and it is a gift, it's just not a really fancy one, and I'd figured that you'd like the plushie more.” I say as I walk over to the door, grabbing the last bag that I'd left there and bringing it over, pulling a old-fashioned motorcycle rider's helmet from the back and lightly tossing it to him. “Need a helmet if you're gonna ride.”
  170.  
  171.         Danny breaks out in a massive grin, pulling the helmet on and strapping it as I pull my leather jacket on, stretching and checking to make sure that the internal hidden holster and my browning high-powered is still there. Yep. Everything is as it should be. I snatch up my keys from the table by the door  and start out, Danny close behind, though he pauses for a moment to give his plushie another hug before leaving it on the table. I close and lock the apartment door after he leaves, and we make our way down to my bike, with it's new side car.
  172.  
  173.         I don't like side cars that much. Don't let me ride as fast, nor as nimbly as I'd like, plus they always remind me of Mom and Dad. But Danny wants to ride, so a side car it is. He clambers into the car as I mount my steel stallion, grinning as I turn the engine on and listen to the horses rumble.
  174.  
  175.         Side car or no side car, I love riding my bike, so we hit the road hard and smooth, the pony express on patrol.
  176.  
  177.         The ride to the zoo was unremarkable, just a standard ride for me, minus getting used to the side car, but Danny seemed to be enjoying himself, whooping when I revved and cranked the speed up to quite a bit over the legal limit (slowing down before the cops saw us) and got us to the zoo in record time. I smirk at him as we ride, and as we pull into the zoo parking lot, chuckle lightly. “A bit better then going in that old beat up Dodge Durango, yeah?” I say, lightly punching his shoulder as I turn the bike off.
  178.  
  179.         “Hell yeah! That was great!” Danny whoops, pulling a big grin up onto my face as I dismount and take my helmet off, storing it in my bike. I hold my hand out for his helmet, which he doffs and offers to me. However, I end up stopping short of taking the helmet as I gawk at his hair for a moment before chuckling.
  180.  
  181.         “Heh, did I do something that spooked you Danny-boy? You got some streaks in your hair.” I laugh, taking his helmet as I grin at him. He blinks, and tilts his head at me as I put his helmet away and check my messenger bag.
  182.  
  183.         “Streaks? What are you talking about?” Danny blinks, looking at me in an adorably confused way that makes me chuckle and shake my head.
  184.  
  185.         “Your hair has a lighter stripe going through it, like you were shocked into a lighter color dude. Hah, it's probably just a trick of the sun.” I grin, shaking my head at him. “Well, whatever, don't worry about it. Come on, the whole day is ours, lets light this firecracker.”
  186.  
  187.         He smiles and nods, following me as we head into the Zoo and start to explore. A few minutes in from the gate, a big sign is posted up, boasting about their newest attraction. “Hello, what is this?” I murmur, looking the sign over. “Saudi Arabian horses? Neat. Want to check that out Danny?”
  188.  
  189.         “What's the difference between those horses and normal ones?” Danny says, shrugging. “I mean, they're all horses right?”
  190.  
  191.         I shrug. “I dunno. Lets go find out.”
  192.  
  193.         With that thought, we start walking, Danny starting to chatter about the various animals and their traits, making me smirk. It was gonna be a long day at the zoo, but damn if it wasn't worth it to get his mind off of that nightmare.
  194.  
  195.         ----Linebreak----
  196.         -May 2nd, IIVX-
  197.         Blugh. Two hours of walking around the zoo and we finally came to the only thing that really caught my attention. The Saudi Arabian horses. They had them in a massive enclosure, in which a large group of horses were trotting around, eating, nickering at one another, and generally being, well horses. I have to admit, they were rather spectacular looking horses, more like prancing nobility then the work horses or running mustangs that adorned the side of my new sidecar, tall and rather majestic, a rather stunning specimen of a mare galloping by, almost blindingly white and her pale mane seeming to grab the sun as she passes.
  198.  
  199.         Danny seemed to be in light awe, standing up on his tip-toes to get a better view of the horses as I snapped a picture or two of the horses in motion and one in particular of the majestic white horse. Hmmm, gives me a few ideas for a project to work on once I 'retire' from the Mob. I've got plenty of money, maybe a farm or a dude ranch or something. Whatever a dude ranch is. I'm pretty sure it's a ranch where you have lots of horses. Maybe breed 'em for the track or something?
  200.  
  201.         Well, whatever, Danny has been enjoying himself all day, talking my ear off about animals, horses, the show, some art piece he was working on, a image he saw online, a story that he was working on... just talking talking talking, non stop. I love my little brother, but sheesh, sometimes he can really blather. I glance over at him, and stop for a moment, before looking between him and one of the horses he's looking at.
  202.  
  203.         His hair looks... longer, and that lighter brown stripe is much more visible now. Kinda like one of the horses down there. A little unusual to be sure, and I find myself staring at his hair, a little confused. His hair has always been a dark, chocolate-ish brown. The lighter stripe was really weird to look at. He finally stops talking and looks to me and notices my stare, and nervously runs a hand through his hair.
  204.  
  205.         “What? Something on my head bro?” He asks, trying to find what's making me stare. I shake my head after a moment and chuckle. “Nah, nah, just the sun playing tricks on my eyes little brother. Nothing to worry about. Come on, lets get something to eat and then kick the pavement, I think we've seen just about everything.”
  206.  
  207.         He nods, so we make our way over to one of the overpriced restaurants, ordering some hot dogs and two sodas. We sit down to eat, when Danny starts talking. “Thanks for this BBBFF, it's really cool of you to hang out with your little brother.” Danny grins. I shake my head. “It's no problems. I know I got a lot of work to do, but come on, I can take a week vacation to hang out with my brother. Besides, after this job, we're gonna be set for a while.”
  208.  
  209.         It's true, the money from this art run was gonna be tight. From what the Boss told me, he was gonna throw in a bonus for me, as a 'thank you' for the years of hard work. Maybe a promotion. I'd been running the delivery routes for the Mob for several years now, doing everything from gun running to moving precious pieces of artwork like this, and I've got a perfect delivery record. Dollars to Doughnuts that I've impressed the boss somehow and now I'm getting my pay for it.
  210.  
  211.         I bite into the hotdog, not really paying attention to it when I notice something odd. A guy in a miscolored suit. Not really that big of a deal, but it was really weird. Don't see a lot of burly dudes walking around a zoo wearing a half-black, half-white suit. Especially when the white is on one half of the suit and the black is on the other, split right down the middle.
  212.  
  213.         I try to put it out of my mind as I continue to eat, but something feels a little off about this guy. He's just looking around, and his suit really makes him stand out, the shades don't help. A few minutes pass and he starts moving away, pulling out a cellphone. I raise an eyebrow, and finish off my hotdog.
  214.  
  215.         Dunno what his problem was, but whatever, he's not my business and isn't looking into mine, so I'll leave it be. No sense sticking your head into a hole in the wall just to have it cut off. “Alright little brother, ready to go?”
  216.  
  217.         I glance over to Danny, who's only eaten a bit of his hotdog and has a slight frown on his face. He's eaten all the fries, but I guess the 'mostly pork' hotdog didn't agree with him. “Yeah, I'm good to go big bro. What time is it?”
  218.  
  219.         I glance at my watch, reading the time and noticing the date idly in the back of my mind. May second, 2020. The digital display reads 0159. “Almost two o clock.” I say, feeling surprised. We spent a lot more time here then I thought we were going to. I look around at the crowd of people and families going about their day, and stand up, stretching.
  220.  
  221.         I motion for Danny to follow and we make our way out of the zoo, walking out the front gate towards the parking lot. I have this weird, niggling feeling in the back of my head that something is wrong, but no matter how many times I scan around, I can't place it. I softly pat my jacket to make sure my browning is still there, which it is, and the feeling drifts to the back of my head, comforted by the knowledge that I can handle trouble if there is any.
  222.  
  223.         As we walk over to my bike, I check my bag. Yep, everything's accounted for. The 'museum' pieces are still there, as well as my extra ammunition. I re-sling it on my shoulder and pull my helmet and his out of my bike, passing Danny's helmet over and pulling my own onto my head. At that point, my bluetooth starts ringing, making  me let out a low, annoyed groan. I just wanted to enjoy a day with my little brother, is that too much to ask?
  224.  
  225.         I mount my bike and start the engine as Danny climbs in, and tap the side of my helmet. “You've reached the Pony Express.”
  226.  
  227.         “Ah, Mr. McCloud, good I knew I had the right number.” I blink as Q's voice echos over the speakers, that uncomfortable feeling from last night while I was watching Star Trek returning. I gesture to Danny to be quiet because I have a phone call as I speak up. “Mr. Q. How did you get my number? Or I suppose a better question would be why, and why you called me? I know that I'm the primary dealer with anything of your involvement, but all negotiation is to be done in person, and meetings set up-”
  228.  
  229.         “-Through your enforcer, yes yes, I know procedure, but you see, Mr. McCloud... I have a request of you.” The voice is cold, malicious, and calculating, and immediately, that feeling of wrongness from before leaps up and grips me around my neck, making me shiver even as I push my bike back and start pulling out of the parking lot, head on a swivel.
  230.  
  231.         “A request. Look, Mr. Q, all requests go through the Enforcers and then through the boss. I'm just the delivery man. That's why they call me the Pony Express. I negotiate prices and deliver final products. All deals are final unless the boss says otherwise. I don't do requests.” I growl, not pleased that my day was being interrupted rather rudely by this arrogant art dealer.
  232.  
  233.         “Oh, but this is a request that I must simply -insist- that you oblige me with Mr. McCloud... you see, all I request is that you die in a fireball, and take those annoying Elements with you! Ari Vua!” Q's voice is dark, demanding, and full of maniacal glee as he suddenly disconnects.
  234.  
  235.         I immediately gun my bike, pulling out as fast as humanly possible. That set me way too far on edge, and I take those kinds of threats seriously. Danny yelps as he's pushed back into his seat, looking at me in confusion. I ignore him as I look around wildly when I see it. A black SUV, Escalade from the looks of it, rolling after me, riding fast and looking to follow.
  236.  
  237.         “Hey Danny, want to see some real riding?” I yell out so Danny can hear me. He looks confused but nods his head. “Sure, something up BBBFF?” He yells back, tilting his head.
  238.  
  239.         “Nah, everything's fine, just hang on!” I say as I rev the engine and then race off, pushing my bike for all the horsepower I can get as I start weaving tight runs through the slower Seattle Traffic, glancing back via my mirrors to try to see the Escalade.
  240.  
  241.         Damn, for a SUV, it's hauling. As fast as I'm going, about seventy, definitely over city limits, the SUV is doing about seventy five and it's gaining. I pull the bike and side car into a tight, looping left turn around a confused looking Taxi Driver, and the SUV follows. I curse as I look ahead. No cars in front of me, and glance back, cursing harder. There isn't a single car behind me, and we're on a straightaway.
  242.  
  243.         One of the SUV windows starts to roll down, and my eyes widen as I watch a man lean out the window, pulling a rifle out with him, which he charges menacingly with one hand before bringing it around to aim at me and Danny.
  244.  
  245.         I swear and veer my bike to the side, the telltale retort of a rifle being fired echoing as I see bits of the pavement to the side of me get ripped up. I pull more in front of the SUV, swearing long and hard as I start to reach in my jacket, only to look at Danny and notice him looking at me wide eyed and scared.
  246.  
  247.         I bite my lower lip. If I pull my pistol, Danny'll know that somethings up. But he already knows somethings up, because we're being SHOT AT. I told myself I wouldn't get him involved in this kind of thing, and I don't know what the hell kind of game Q was playing, but I needed to protect my little brother.
  248.  
  249.         I pull my browning from it's holster, and quickly rack the slide and unsafe it, holding my throttle down as I aim back for a few moments, pulling the trigger with a satisfying BLAM, 45 caliber death being slung faster then the speed of sound back at the SUV. It hits the windshield, making it shatter, and making the driver swerve and his buddy duck back inside. I whirl back to look at the road as I move from rolling about seventy to ninety, wind ripping at me as I tuck myself lower to the bike, behind my windshield.
  250.  
  251.         “Michael!? What the hell is going on?” Danny yells, looking panicked as he grips the side car, ducking low.
  252.  
  253.         “I don't know Danny, hang with me little brother, we're gonna get out of this, I promise!” I yell back, glancing to see if the rifle carrying asshole decided to hang out the window agai... well shit.
  254.  
  255.         The guy is leaning out the window again, but this time he's got a fucking rocket launcher?! What the hell is going on? I scream bloody murder as I whip the bike and side car into a sliding U-turn as the guy fires the rocket. I watch as it screams by my head, inches from contacting my face, and carries on past as I roar forwards, U-turn complete as I zip by the SUV, firing my browning at them the whole way past. The guy with the launcher jerks a few times and slumps, pretty much falling out of the SUV as we drive onwards, when a loud roar lets out behind us. I glance into the mirror, only to look in horror as a good chunk of the road and sidewalk, as well as a lamppost and several windows are blown away by the rocket hitting the road.
  256.  
  257.         “This is fucking insane. This is FUCKING INSANE!” I scream out, my heart hammering as I look back for the SUV, which swerved away down a side alley, and tap my helmet, activating my Bluetooth, dropping the speed back down to about 70 as I slow enough to keep the wind from killing my voice.
  258.  
  259.         “CALL BRICK!” I yell, heart pounding as I look around for more trouble, more vehicles. It's like the world is deserted, there's nothing else around but me and Danny.
  260.  
  261.         *Briiiing. Briiiiing. Briiiii-click* “This is Brick. What the fuck are you doing calling me right now Pony? You know this is Brick's personal time.” I barely resist the urge to facepalm as Brick picks up. Bright has this 'personal' time each day that he takes to do something really immature, like read a child’s story, or watch a cartoon, or something. I usually don't even think about it. But it's a big deal at the moment apparently.
  262.  
  263.         “Brick! As much as I'd love to say I'm calling you simply to ask what you're watching today, WE'VE GOT BIGGER PROBLEMS!” I yell out, swearing as I pull another hasty U-turn as two more SUV's come into sight, guns and guys hanging out the windows. I swear as gunfire lances by and rips up the road and I crank the throttle harder, leaping from the seventy I was hovering at into the hundreds. A panicked cry comes from Danny as gunfire echos around me.
  264.  
  265.         “What the fuck? Pony, what the hell is going on that you're got gunfire going off?” Brick says, sounding confused. Oh Brick, stop being stupid please. We got bigger shit to deal with right now.
  266.  
  267.         “I'm being chased through downtown by motherfuckers in Black SUVS that were sent by Q, who are shooting at me and my little brother for some goddamn reason, and they've got FIREPOWER THAT'D MAKE THE ARMY BLUSH IN EMBARRASMENT!” Ok, maybe it was a over exaggeration, but what can I say, I panicked.
  268.  
  269.         “Holy shit, that explosion a few minutes ago was you?! I thought that report was exaggerated.” Brick says.
  270.  
  271.         “YES, it was me, dodging a mother fucking RPG round. GET THE BOYS ROUNDED UP! I need to get back to my apartment and grab my gear so me and Danny can book it!” I yell into the bluetooth.
  272.  
  273.         “Dude, I can't, I'm in NYC, remember? With the boss.” Brick says, sounding very worried.
  274.  
  275.         “THEN CALL THEM. Something, anything! I didn't join the mother fucking Mob to get screwed over at times like this!” I say, panic creeping into my voice as I turn, firing the last few rounds in my browning at one of the SUVs. It swerves away wildly and crashes into a building, so I'm guessing I hit someone or something important.
  276.  
  277.         “OH! Right! Yeah, I'll get on it! Hang tight Pony, the Calvary is on the way.” Brick hung up and I prayed he realized how serious this was as I reached into my messenger bag to pick out another mag.
  278.  
  279.         “B-Big Brother! What the hell is going on?” Shit... I forgot about Danny! I look over and my heart breaks. It's the nightmare look. It's that damned look that I always feared I'd end up seeing directed at me. He's scared. Terrified. Of me.
  280.  
  281.         “Danny... Danny, it's gonna be ok. I promise.” I yell back. “Trust me, please little brother, I'm not gonna hurt you. They're not gonna hurt us.” I wince as one of my mirrors is blown away by a round of .556. “I WON'T let them hurt us!”
  282.  
  283.         “You... I.... you owe me an explanation b-big brother... the mob?” Danny says. I can barely make it out, but I can read his lips just fine, and I shudder.
  284.  
  285.         “I promise... to explain, little brother.”
  286.  
  287.         My heart sinks. I promised. I never break my promises.
  288.  
  289.         “Then you really should wake up.”
  290.  
  291.         What?
  292.  
  293.         ----Linebreak----
  294.  
  295.         -May 2nd, 2020. 1500 Hrs-
  296.         I cry out in surprise as I jolt upwards, clutching at my racing heart as I look around wildly. I'm suddenly tackled in my side with a crushing hug, and I look over at my little brother. “Wh-”
  297.  
  298.         “Michael! You're ok!” Danny cries out as he hugs me tightly. “You were having a really bad nightmare big brother, worse then mine!”
  299.  
  300.         I blink, rubbing my forehead softly as I look around. I wasn't in my bed, I was on the couch... guess I fell asleep watching Star Trek. That last glass of booze must have done me in. I shake my head. What a horrible dream...
  301.  
  302.         “... Michael? What... were you talking about?” Danny asks quietly, looking up at me with soulful eyes. I wince.
  303.  
  304.         I wanted to deny everything he might have heard out of hand, but I still don't know what was going on, so I look at Danny in confusion. “What are you talking about little brother?”
  305.  
  306.         Danny pouts at me. “You never were a good liar Big Brother... how long have you been... been... a mobster?” Danny says, sitting back a bit.
  307.  
  308.         I sigh softly. Yep. I was talking in my sleep. And apparently Danny was sitting for a while to listen. I glance at my watch. Fifteen oh five. Three o clock in the afternoon? Damn, I was really out of it... on a hunch, I quickly check my watch again. It reads the same. Not dreaming. “I said a lot in my sleep, didn't I?” I say out loud, slowly looking up to Danny.
  309.  
  310.         “How long?!”
  311.  
  312.         I hang my head a bit and look at my little brother, blinking and frowning a bit as I noticed something... off. “Uh, Danny, a question before you grill me- What's with your hair dude? It's... longer.” I say, shivering at the vague sense of Deja Vu from the nightmare as I look at his much longer hair.
  313.  
  314.         “I don't know, don't ask about the stripe in it either, you mentioned it while you were sleeping too. Now tell me!” Danny says, prodding me in the chest with a finger, making me wince and sigh again.
  315.  
  316.         “... Since I started being a delivery man Danny. Uncle Jameson was a enforcer years ago, and his condition for his help was for me to join the Mob till I turned thirty.” I said flatly, sitting back.
  317.  
  318.         “Thirty... you've been in the mob for almost fifteen years?” Danny says, sitting back, looking at me in shock. “What the fuck?! Why didn't you tell me? No, wait, how didn't I noticed? Have you actually killed anyone? Is it anything like the movies? Why BBBFF?”
  319.  
  320.         “To protect you!” I say, probably with a big more force then I should have, as Danny flinched back from my outburst. “Because I needed to keep you safe, because I promised Mom and Dad, because I wasn't going to that damned foster house, and I sure as hell wasn't leaving you there! I swore on their death bed that I'd protect and provide for you little brother. The Mob was just... an easy answer. Besides, delivering messages and packages isn't dangerous... mostly.”
  321.  
  322.         Danny frowns at me and softly picks up Luna from my chest. I blink, and after a moment, pull him and the plushie into my arms for a hug. He had given me his plushie to try to comfort me in my nightmare. I vaguely remember something about Princess Luna being able to protect dreamers from nightmares. Pity she wasn't here, I'd have appreciated the help.
  323.  
  324.         Danny sighs. “Not exactly the greatest birthday present here big brother...”
  325.  
  326.         I shake my head. “No, not exactly the greatest birthday present, for either of us.” I say with a light chuckle, hugging Danny. “I'm sorry for not telling you, but I'm also not sorry at all for not telling you, because honestly, I'd rather you never found out.”
  327.  
  328.         The pair of us let out a sigh and Danny fixes me with a glare. “You owe me something for this.” He says, crossing his arms. I groan, shaking my head.
  329.  
  330.         “Whatever you want little brother.”
  331.  
  332.         “ANYTHING?”
  333.  
  334.         I bite my lower lip. “... Yeah, anything. I mean, I've got enough money and time.”
  335.  
  336.         “... Pony marathon.” Danny says, crossing his arms.
  337.  
  338.         I fix him with a blank stare. “... A pony marathon.”
  339.  
  340.         “Yep! Starting right now, you're watching the rest of the episodes with me. Season three onwards.” Danny says, a smirk on his face. “You never watched the rest of them.”
  341.  
  342.         I groan, rubbing my forehead. “Alright... alright... if we must.”
  343.  
  344.         Not the worst thing that could happen, but honestly, not how I wanted to spend today... Oh well, time to man up and face the music.
  345.  
  346.         “Alright Danny, lets watch... ponies.”
  347.  
  348. -End Chapter 2-
ptfg mature violence adventure

/pj250/ Goin' Anywhere

by Alycorn

Pawn

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Pawn

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Chaos Noodle in Yer House

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