SPOILER WARNING: This Ponified episode contains heavy reference to the BBC Series Sherlock's 2nd episode, The Blind Banker. DO NOT READ IF YOU OBJECT TO THESE SPOILERS! Sherlock © the BBC
All MLP Characters © Hasbro. Unofficial names used where real names are unknown.
“How many murders is it going to take for you to start believing that this maniac's out there?” Applejack demanded of Gilda. The griffon brushed past her. “A young mare was gunned down tonight,” the earth pony continued angrily. “That's three victims in three days. You're supposed to be finding her,” she finished, jabbing a hoof at the detective inspector.
Twilight stepped between them. “Namby Pamby and Vladimir Blueblood were working for a gang of international smugglers,” she told Gilda, getting face to face with the inspector. “A gang called the Black Diamond, operating here, in Canterlot, right under your beak.”
“Can you prove that?” the griffon asked, doubt and annoyance written on her face. Twilight stepped back.
“As a matter of fact, I can.”
The cafeteria food at Starswirl the Bearded Hospital never improved in Caramel's opinion. Limited variety, few choices, and poor quality. Still, food was food, especially when working late. He considered tonight's options with a frown.
“What are you thinking?” a familiar voice asked. Caramel looked up, startled. Twilight continued her polite inquiry. “Tomatoes or the pasta?”
“Oh,” the morgue attendant chuckled. “Oh, it's you.”
The unicorn eyed the food skeptically. “This place is never going to trouble Gustav le Grand, is it?” She nodded at the noodles. “I'd stick with the pasta. Don't want to be having stewed tomatoes, not if you're slicing up cadavers.”
Caramel tried to smile as the comparison made him grimace. “What are you having?”
“I don't eat when I'm working,” Twilight said. “Digesting slows me down.”
“So you're working here tonight?” But Twilight never came to see him, unless... He realized why she was here.
“I need to examine some bodies,” Twilight told him.
“Vladimir Blueblood and Namby Pamby.”
Caramel checked his clipboard. “They're on my list.”
“Could you wheel them out again for me?” the unicorn asked.
“W-well,” the stallion stammered, “the paperwork's already gone through.”
“Oh…” Twilight looked disappointed. Then she looked more closely at Caramel. “Changed your mane.”
“What?” the earth pony said, confused at the segue.
“The style,” Twilight clarified. “You usually part it in the middle.
“Yes, well…” Caramel started to bring a hoof up to run through his mane, then stopped himself.
“Well, it's good,” Twilight said. “It, um, suits you better this way.”
Caramel tried to resist the urge to smile at the compliment and failed. Twilight returned the grin, then checked her watch as Caramel turned back to the food. Quickly, quickly...
Caramel had just wheeled out the last of the bodies when Twilight returned with Gilda in tow. The morgue attendant unzipped the head of the bag as they walked in, revealing Namby Pamby's head. “We're just interested in the hind feet,” Twilight told him.
“The feet?” Caramel asked, puzzled.
“Yes. Do you mind if we have a look at them?”
Caramel shrugged and rezipped the head, then unzipped the bottom of the bag. Twilight brushed aside the fur on the right leg and motioned for Gilda to look. The same tattoo as Inkie had had was immediately visible. The detective nodded, and smirked as she walked behind the griffon's back towards the next body. “Now Blueblood.” Caramel opened the bag and Twilight repeated the process. Again, the black diamond was present. “Oh!” she said in mock surprise.
“So…” Gilda said, reluctant to admit the obvious.
“So either these two stallions just happened to visit the same Chineighse tattoo parlor, or I'm telling the truth,” Twilight said.
The griffon got right to the point. “What do you want?”
“I want every book from Pamby's apartment, and Blueblood's,” Twilight told her.
Gilda looked confused. “Their books?”
An very tired Applejack entered Baker Street and hung her jacket up, quite ready to call it a night. Twilight followed. “It’s not just a criminal organization,” the unicorn said as she hung her her coat and scarf on the back of the door. “It's a cult. The sister was corrupted by one of its leaders.”
“Inkie said the name,” Applejack recalled as she flopped down in her chair.
“Yes, Scroll. General Scroll.” Twilight began pacing.
“We're still no closer to finding her,” the earth pony pointed out.
“Wrong,” the unicorn corrected. “We've got almost all we need to know. She gave us most of the missing pieces.” She turned towards Applejack. “Why did she need to visit her sister? Why did she need her expertise?”
“She worked at the museum.” the earth pony began.
“An expert in antiquities.” Applejack mulled over that fact for a second. “Of course, I see.”
“Valuable antiquities, Applejack,” Twilight said. “Ancient Chineighse relics purchased on the black market. Chineigh's home to a thousand treasures hidden after Moon's revolution.”
“The Black Diamond is selling them,” Applejack concluded
Twilight flipped open the computer on the desk and began searching auction records, starting with Caspian's. Applejack trotted over and stared over her shoulder. “Check for the dates,” the unicorn muttered. She found something. “Here, Applejack,” she said, stabbing a hoof at the entry. The entry showed two Wing dynasty vases that were priced at four hundred to five hundred thousand bits. “Arrived from Chineigh four days ago. Anonymous.” She clicked the link to the seller's information. “And it doesn't give their name. Two undiscovered treasures from the East.”
“One in Pamby's suitcase and one in Blueblood's,” Applejack finished.
Twilight returned to the auction list and changed the search keywords. “Antiquities sold at auction...look, here's another one. Arrived from Chineigh a month ago. Chineighse ceramic statue, sold, four hundred thousand.”
Applejack picked up the journalist's diary and leafed through it. She found another trip to Chineigh and pointed at another entry on the screen. “Look, the month before that. Chineighse painting, half a million.”
“All of them from an anonymous source. They're stealing them back in Chineigh, one by one, and they're feeding them into Equestria.”
Applejack glanced between Blueblood's calendar and Namby Pamby's diary. “Well, every single auction coincides with Pamby or Blueblood traveling to Chineigh.”
“So what if one of them got greedy when they were in Chineigh?” Twilight asked. “What if one of them stole something?”
The earth pony completed the thought. “That's why Zhi Zhu's come.”
A knock at the door startled them. “Yoo hoo,” Ms. Matilda greeted them. “Sorry. Are we collecting for charity, Twilight?
“What?” the unicorn asked.
“A young mare's outside with crates of books,” the donkey explained.
The policeponies Gilda had sent carried the crates up to the flat one by one. Each was labeled with either the trader or the journalist's name. “So,” Twilight said, “the numbers are references.”
“To books?” Applejack asked.
“To specific pages and specific words on those pages,” the unicorn clarified.
The earth pony nodded. “Right, so…fifteen and one, that means…”
“Turn to page fifteen and it’s the first word you read,” Twilight explained.
“Okay, so what's the message?”
“Depends on the book. That's the cunning of the book code. Has to be one that they both own.” The unicorn selected two crates and opened them up. She began pulling books out haphazardly.
“Okay, fine. Well, this shouldn't take too long, should it?” The earth pony opened two other crates and began sifting through them. She found some matches and carried them to the desk, then began checking page fifteen, word one.
Gilda walked in. She brandished an evidence bag. “We found these at the museum,” she told Twilight. “Is this your writing?”
Applejack recognized the printed photos and took the bag. “Uh, we hoped Inkie could decipher it for us.”
“Tough,” the griffon said. She stood in the center for the flat for a moment. “Anything else I can do? To assist you, I mean?”
“Some silence right now would be wonderful,” Twilight said, throwing more books to the floor. The inspector accepted this and left.
The unicorn found a book in one bin that she'd seen in the other. Eagerly, she flipped to page fifteen and read the first word aloud. “Cigarette,” she said, closing the books and passing them to Applejack. She found another one and read the indicated word. “Imagine.” Another unlikely one. Imagine and cigarette were hardly threats.
Time dragged on. The light of day streamed through the windows, illuminating the books strewn all about the flat. Twilight paused, thinking. They'd gone through over half of the books and had found nothing likely. Applejack's watch alarm beeped, as outside, the Canterlot clock tower chimed the time. The earth pony looked out the window. “Oh,” she sighed. She'd spend the entire night without sleep, and now it was time for work. She rubbed her eyes. This was going to be a bad day, wasn't it?
Soarin' trotted into the reception area of the clinic. He noticed the oddly long line at the desk. “Um, what's going on?” he asked the pony staffing the desk.
“That new doctor you hired,” the receptionist whispered. “She hasn't buzzed the intercom for ages.”
“I’ll go talk to her,” Soarin' said. He walked off, towards the offices. A rap on the correct door brought not answer. “Applejack?” Soarin' called. Still no answer. “Applejack?” He eased the door open. The earth pony was seated at the desk, eyes closed, head down, clearly asleep. Soarin' quietly closed the door, leaving Applejack to sleep.
Later, Soarin' was working at his desk. He looked up as Applejack walked in, much more alert after her nap. “Um, looks like I'm done,” the earth pony said, mildly surprised. “I thought I had some more to see.”
“Oh, I did one or two of yours,” the pegasus answered.
“One or two?”
“Well, maybe five or six.” He stared pointedly at the other pony.
Applejack realized she'd been caught sleeping on the job. “I'm sorry,” she apologized. “That wasn’t very professional of me.”
“No, no, not really,” Soarin' agreed.
“I had a…sort of a late night,” the earth pony explained.
A pained look passed over the pegasus' face. “Oh, right.”
“Anyway, be seeing you.” Applejack started to leave.
“So, um, what were you doing, to keep you up so late?” Soarin' asked.
“I was, uh, attending a sort of book event,” Applejack told him.
“Oh. Oh, he likes books, does he, your…your boyfriend.”
“No,” Applejack corrected. “It wasn't a date.”
“Good,” Soarin said without thinking. “I mean, um…”
“And I don't have one tonight,” the earth pony continued. She smiled encouragingly, a smile that the pegasus returned.