Constant’s notes were they only thing they had to go on. Daniels frowned at the list. It wasn’t much.
At Applejack’s suggestion, they had decided to run down the suspects and see if Constant could be found. It was the best plan the two of them had been able to come up with. The rest of the ponies at the RIS office seemed unconcerned.
"Ah don't care what they say. Ah'm convinced Constant's in trouble." They took the list of suspects from Constant's desk and left the building.
The first name was Mr. Dirty Hanky. Applejack had limited knowledge of Fillydelphia, but enough to get them there. The house looked old and run-down. The pony that answered the door did, too.
“Have you seen an RIS agent today?” Applejack asked him.
“Nope. I’ve been shut inside the whole time.”
His statement earned him a glare from Applejack. He stuttered.
“Uh, I mean I went out for a bit. I went to the pub…for a while. I still didn’t meet anypony from the RIS.”
“Watch yourself,” said Applejack, turning away. It was a tone of voice that Daniels had never heard her use before. Of course, he’d never heard her catch a possible criminal in a lie, either.
The second address on the list was a bust. There was no answer to knocking on the door. Daniels wasn’t sure if it was because the pony was out, or just unwilling to open up without a warrant.
The next place was an industrial property owned by Mr. Dark Fog. It was a large building, but old. The windows were boarded up.
They took a walk around. Daniels grabbed a door latch and to his surprise it was unlocked. The two of them looked into the open door.
“We can’t go in, legally,” said Applejack.
Daniels spotted something resting on the floor. It was a spent bullet casing.
“Screw it, I’m already out of my jurisdiction.” He stepped through the door. Applejack may have disagreed, but said nothing.
The shiny brass casing was of a caliber that only semiautomatics used. The ejection system on such weapons could throw casings surprisingly far. He walked a little further into the building and found what he was fearing.
There were three ponies and one man, all shot dead. They were careful, killing shots that had been well-placed for lethality. The Flim Flam Brothers had been one thing, but executing three ponies and a human so precisely told Daniels that the shooter must be well practiced.
“You can come in,” he called. “It’s RIS business now.” Applejack stepped through the door and walked over to where Daniels was standing. She glanced briefly at the carnage.
“At least none of ‘em is Constant. Ah’m goin’ to go check the rest of the building.”
Daniels nodded and knelt to gingerly search the man’s pockets. In his wallet was an Illinois driver’s license. Well, that certainly cemented a connection to Chicago.
Applejack came back in a few minutes. “There’s nopony here. I want you to take a look at somethin’, though.”
She led him out into the main room. A large area had been cleared away.
“Do you think they were usin’ a doorway here?” she asked.
It seemed likely. The way things were arranged and some of the scuff marks on the floor seemed to indicate that there might have been one there.
“It still doesn’t explain where Constant is.”
“Well, ah’m sure he was here. If he got away, then he woulda found us. Ah think he mighta been captured.”
“I hate to say this, but I don’t think that’s likely. Whoever we’re dealing with has shown that killing doesn’t bother them.”
“We’ve still got to look for him!”
Daniels nodded. “I think I know a good place to start.”
First things first, though. They called the police. Once the scene was locked down, the two of them went back to the RIS office.
“Whaddya mean he hasn’t been gone long enough?” said Applejack.
“Let me spell it out for you,” said Sugar Song. “Constant left after lunch. It’s not even suppertime yet. Not very much time has passed.”
“But we got to do somethin’!” Applejack’s voice was rising.
“And we will. If he hasn’t turned up by morning, we’ll get started on a missing pony case. Let me remind you, Ms. Apple, I'm in charge here. You don't even work in this office.”
Applejack gritted her teeth. To Daniels, it looked like she was trying hard not to say something that she would regret.
“Can ah use your telephone?” she managed.
“Go down the hall.”
“What are you planning?” Daniels asked quietly as they left Sugar Song’s office.
“We gotta try somethin' else. Nopony in this office wants to help.” She grabbed the telephone receiver with her hooves. “Could you please dial Ponyville?”
Daniels punched the numbers for her. All signs were pointing to Chicago. It looked like he wasn’t going to be going home that night.
“Lemon, ah know Paper don’t like field operations, but we need everypony we can get," Applejack was saying. "Convince him to come along.” She gave a few more instructions before setting the phone down.
Constant examined his surroundings. The other side of the doorway looked rough and shoddily built in comparison to the government doorways. He wanted to reprogram it and go somewhere that gun-toting maniacs weren’t, but that wasn’t going to happen. He was smart, but working on something like that was over his head.
He decided that it was more important to get out of the area as quickly as possible before more hostiles showed up. He cracked open the building’s outside door and had a look.
There was water, either an ocean or a very large lake. A few other buildings were around. Just about everything was made of either concrete or steel. All the buildings looked old and little-used.
Off in the distance, a tall skyline dominated the horizon. The buildings looked like nothing Constant had ever seen before. Skyscrapers meant people. While he didn’t particularly like crowds, especially crowds of humans, he was less likely to get murdered in public.
Constant made the decision to head towards the skyline. He had no idea where he was, but figured that there had to be other doorways out there somewhere. It beat staying where he was.
He walked to the corner of the building. There were others beyond it. He started across the stretch of pavement between them. There was a human vehicle approaching.
Just a pony, nothing to see here. Ignore me, ignore me— A hand holding a gun came out the window. Constant sprinted for cover amid the sound of gunfire. Bullets smacked the pavement around him.
He put a building between himself and the shooter and kept going at a full gallop. There was some kind of tall metal fence surrounding the area. Constant didn’t see a way through it, and knew he couldn’t go over the top.
He moved laterally, looking for any way to get away from the gunman. The sound of the vehicle drew closer.
There was a tiny gap between two panels in the lower part of the fence. Constant tugged on it with his magic, widening it only slightly. He yanked harder, and managed to open it up enough to possibly get his head through.
Constant looked over his shoulder. He was out of time. He dove into the hole, his body forcing it wider. The metal scraped his shoulders and raked down over his withers and flank, but he was through.
There were four lanes of a paved highway just outside the fence. He dashed across, just barely avoiding a collision. There were several annoyed honks from more human vehicles, but none stopped.
He slowed down on the sidewalk, panting from exertion. He didn’t feel exactly safe, but thought he could rest just a little.
There was a metal framework that held railroad tracks up off the ground. It ran parallel to the highway. The tracks seemed to extend towards the city skyline, so Constant decided to follow them.
After several minutes of walking, the buildings did not look any closer. Just how tall and far away were they, anyway? His thoughts were interrupted by a rumbling sound.
A boxy metal train made its way along the tracks overhead. Constant caught a glimpse of a red and blue logo. CTA – Chicago Transit Authority
Well, now he knew the name of the city, for all the good that did him. He kept walking. A stairway reached up to an elevated station for the train. He almost passed it, but stopped, an idea coming to mind.
Up in the station, he found what he’d been looking for, a map. It was a little confusing with multicolored lines extending across the city, but he figured it out eventually. He learned where he was, and realized that the skyline he’d been following was still quite a long ways away.
He turned to go back down to the street. He had no way to pay for a train ride. A weathered sign in the station caught his eye. Bears tickets for sale! That seemed like a strange thing to sell tickets for. Earth was already giving him headaches.
Applejack, Lemon Slice, and Paper Pusher stood in line with Daniels. There was a large crowd ahead of them bound for Chicago, and all were impatiently waiting.
“We shouldn’t have left the office unattended,” Paper was saying. “We’re supposed to be open until five. To do otherwise is a breach of public faith.”
“Nopony ever stops by anyway,” said Applejack. “Ah doubt they’ll miss us.”
“Getting the documentation filed to authorize this trip is not going to be easy. Not to mention the expense reports.”
“Come off it, Paper,” said Lemon. “If we find Constant, then everything will be okay. Success makes a lot misfiled paperwork go away.”
Daniels had to agree. Getting the job done made up for a lot of shortcomings.
Sorry that this is kind of short and poor quality. I had to retype it from memory after the original chapter vanished, and the motivation just wasn't there.