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.
The police had arrived by the time the three ponies exited the tunnel. Twilight stopped to talk to the officer in charge. “We'll just slip off,” she told Gilda. “No need to mention us in the report.”
“Ms. Sparkle,” the griffon began.
“I have high hopes for you, Inspector,” Twilight told her. “A glittering career.”
“If I go where you point me,” Gilda finished.
Twilight smirked, amused. “Exactly.”
The griffon mimicked the smirk as the unicorn trotted off.
“So,” Applejack said as Twilight poured a cup of tea. “Nine mill...”
“Million,” the unicorn corrected. After they'd seen Soarin' safely home, the earth pony had insisted she explain everything.
“Million, right,” Applejack repeated, reading the translated message. "Nine million for jade pin, Dragon den, black tramway."
“An instruction to all of their Canterlot operatives,” Twilight explained. “A message, what they were trying to reclaim.”
“A jade pin.”
“Worth nine million bits.” The unicorn tapped the message with a hoof. “Bring it to the tramway, their Canterlot hideout.”
“Hold on. A hairpin worth nine million bits?” the earth pony questioned.
“Why so much?” Applejack wondered.
“Depends who owned it,” Twilight answered, taking a sip. As for who had the pin now...
The next day they returned to the bank. “Two operatives, based in Canterlot,” Twilight summarized as they entered. “They travel over to Daleian to smuggle those vases. One of them helps himself to something, a little hairpin.”
“Worth nine million bits,” Applejack added.
“Vladimir Blueblood was the thief,” Twilight concluded. “He stole the treasure when he was in Chineigh.”
“How do you know it was Blueblood, not Pamby?” the earth pony asked. “Even the killer didn't know that.”
“Because of the soap,” the unicorn answered. She left a puzzled Applejack to talk to Moondancer; there was somepony else who she needed to speak with.
Rarity rubbed some of the lotion her boss had given her onto her hooves. The phone rang and she picked it up. “Rarity.”
“He brought you a present,” Twilight said.
“A little gift when he came back from Chineigh,” the detective continued.
“How do you know that?” the white unicorn asked.
“You weren't just his PA, were you?” Twilight answered as she walked into the room.
Rarity hung up the phone and looked sourly at Twilight. “Somepony's been gossiping?”
“No,” the detective said, shaking her head.
“Then I don't understand what-”
“Scented hoof soap,” Twilight interjected. “In his apartment. Three hundred milliliters of it, bottle almost finished.”
“Sorry?” Rarity blinked.
“I don't think Vladimir Blueblood was the type of pony to buy himself hoof soap,” Twilight explained. “Not unless he had a lady coming over. And it's the same brand as that hand cream there on your desk.” She tapped the bottle of lotion.
“Look, it wasn't serious between us,” Rarity asserted. “It was over in a flash. It couldn't last. He was my boss.” She looked down sadly.
“What happened?” Twilight asked. “Why did you end it?”
“I thought he didn't appreciate me,” Rarity admitted. “Took me for granted. Stood me up once too often. We'd plan to go away for the weekend, and then he'd just leave, fly off to Chineigh at a moment's notice.”
“He brought you a present from abroad to say sorry,” Twilight realized. She looked at the green stone pin in the white unicorn's mane. “Could I just have a look at it?”
Moondancer signed a check for twenty-thousand bits, pleased to know how the vandal had gotten in, though a bit doubtful it had been that simple. “She really climbed up onto the balcony?” she asked as she sealed the check into an envelope.
“Nail a plank across the window and all your problems are over,” Applejack assured her. The unicorn levitated the envelope over. “Thanks.” That would take care of all the bills, and even leave a bit for a rainy day. Though it was nothing compared to the value of that missing pin. She wondered where it was now.
Rarity removed the pin from her mane and levitated it to Twilight. “He said he bought it in a street market,” she told the detective.
“Oh, I don't think that's true,” Twilight replied, examining the ancient piece of jewelry. “I think he swiped it.”
Rarity laughed. “Yes, that's Vladimir.”
“Didn't know its value, just thought it would suit you.” the detective continued as she turned it in the light.
“Oh?” Rarity asked curiously, a skeptical grin on her face. “What's it worth?”
Twilight smiled. “Nine... million bits.”
The PA's grin vanished. She looked at the hairpin in elated shock. “Oh, my! Oh, dear Celestia!” Her desk phone rang again; she ignored it. “Nine million!” she exclaimed as she ran from her desk. The purple maned passed by Applejack as the earth pony stepped out of Moondancer's office. The doctor blinked. So that's where the jade pin had wound up.
The headline was terribly punny: “Who Wants to Be a Million-Hair.” Twilight folded the paper and set it aside.
“Over a thousand years old,” Applejack commented, “and it's sitting on her bedside table every night.”
“He didn't know its value,” Twilight said, picking up a different periodical. “Didn't know why they were chasing him.”
“Hmm,” Applejack said, biting into her late breakfast. “He should have just got her a lucky cat.”
Twilight gave a wan smile, then sank deep into thought. “Hmm.”
“You mind, don't you,” the earth pony stated.
“What?” Twilight shook herself out of her reverie.
“That she escaped, General Scroll.” Applejack elaborated. “It's not enough that we got her two henchponies.”
“It must be a vast network, Applejack,” Twilight said. “Thousands of operatives. You and I, we barely scratched the surface.”
“You cracked the code, though, Twilight,” Applejack reminded her. “And maybe Gilda can track down all of them now that she knows it.”
“No,” Twilight corrected. “No, I cracked this code. All the smugglers have to do is pick up another book.” She unfolded the new paper and scanned it for anything promising. Applejack looked out the window as she chewed thoughtfully. Outside, a young colt was spraying a black symbol on a phonebox on the sidewalk opposite. Twilight was right. There were always more ciphers.
General Scroll sat in front of a computer. The video call was one way; the pony on the other end had deliberately disabled their feed. “Without you,” the beige pony began, “without your assistance, we would not have found passage into Canterlot. You have my thanks.”
A text reply from the other pony, named only as M, was not as polite: Gratitude is meaningless. It is only the expectation of further favours.
“We did not anticipate, we did not now this mare would come, this Twilight Sparkle,” Scroll said. “And now your safety is compromised.”
The reply sent ice crawling up the Diamond boss's spine: They cannot trace this back to me.
“I will not reveal your identity,” Scroll assured the mystery pony.
The final reply was brief. Just three words: I am certain.
A red dot traveled down the wall behind Scroll and came to rest squarely on the general's forehead.
Author’s Notes: Continuing the project. This one was difficult, as it had several characters I had trouble deciding substitutions for.
As for Vladimir Blueblood, I tried using Vladimir, but is seemed awkward. The name comes from this post at EQD: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2012/02/new-male-alicorn.html Not entirely happy with that either, and I may replace it with something else later, but for now, it works. Open to suggestions about that.