SPOILER WARNING: This Ponified episode contains heavy reference to the BBC Series Sherlock's 1st episode, A Study in Pink. DO NOT READ IF YOU OBJECT TO THESE SPOILERS! Sherlock © the BBC
All MLP Characters © Hasbro. Unofficial names used where real names are unknown.
Applejack had hoped that the long taxi ride to Brayxton would give her a chance to ask about Twilight's 'deductions'. However, from the moment they'd gotten into the cab, the unicorn had been busy with her own phone, which seemed to have plenty of signal now.
The sun was setting by the time Twilight took notice of her companion's pointed stares at the device and put it away. “Okay, you've got questions.”
“Yeah, where are we going?”
“Crime scene,” Twilight said matter-of-factly, as if this happened every day. “Next?”
“Who are you? What do you do?”
The unicorn turned the question around. “What do you think?”
“I'd say...” Applejack considered. “Private detective...” She paused, realizing something wrong with that.
“But?” Twilight prodded.
“But the police don't go to private detectives.”
“I'm a consulting detective,” Twilight explained. “Only one in the world. I invented the job.”
“And what does that mean?”
“It means when the police are out of their depth, which is always, they consult me.”
Applejack almost snickered in disbelief. “The police don't consult amateurs.”
Twilight seemed to ignore the barb. “When I met you for the first time yesterday, I said Alpacastan or Arock. You looked surprised.”
“Yes, how did you know?” Applejack had been wondering about that.
“I didn't know, I saw.” Twilight began listing what she'd observed. “Your mane cut, the way you hold yourself says military. And the conversation as you entered the room, 'bit different from my day,' you said, trained at Swirl's. So, army doctor, obvious. Your face is tanned. But no tan above the hooves. You've been abroad, but not sunbathing.” Applejack glanced at one hoof. Sure enough, there was a faint line where the hair had taken a paler hue. Twilight continued. “Limps really bad when you walk, but you don't ask for a chair when you stand, like you've forgotten about it. So at least partly psychosomatic. That says the original circumstances of the injury were traumatic, wounded in action, then. Wounded in action, sun tan, Alpacastan or Arock.”
That was one part. But there were other mysteries Applejack wanted explained. “You said I had a therapist.”
“You've got a psychosomatic limp, of course you've got a therapist.” The unicorn made it seem so obvious, it was painful. But that still left- Twilight seemed to pick up on the earth pony's thoughts. “Then there's your sister.”
“Hmm?” Right, that too.
Twilight held up her next source of information. “Your phone, it's expensive, email enabled, MP3 player, but you're looking for a flat-share, you wouldn't waste money on this, it's a gift then.” She turned it in the light, showing the dings and scrapes in the plastic. “Scratches, not one, many over time, it's been in the same pocket as keys and coins. The mare sitting next to me wouldn't treat her one luxury item like this, so, it's had a previous owner. Next bit's easy, you know it already.” She turned it over to show the letters etched into the phone's metal backing.
“The engraving.” Most ponies didn't notice it. But then, this Twilight Sparkle wasn't most ponies.
Twilight nodded. “Mackie, with small apples engraved on each side. Clearly a family member, who's given you her own phone. Not your mother, this is a young mare's gadget. Could be a cousin, but you're a war hero who can't find a place to live, unlikely you've got an extended family, certainly not one you're close to. So, sister it is. Now, Lee, who's Lee? Three kisses-” she held the phone closer to the light; the three x's at the end of the engraving stood out. “Says romantic attachment. Expensive phone says husband, not boyfriend. Must've given it to her recently, this models only six months old. Marriage in trouble then, six months old, and she's given it away? If he'd left her, she would have kept it. Ponies do, sentiment. But no, she wanted rid of it, she left him.” She waved the phone at Applejack as she continued. “She gave the phone to you, that says she wants you to stay in touch. You're looking for cheap accommodation, yet you're not going to your sister for help. That says you've got problems with her, maybe you liked her husband, maybe you don't like her drinking.
That had been the most surprising. “How…can you possibly know about the drinking?
Twilight's victorious smirk took Applejack by surprise. So she hadn't known. “Shot in the dark. Good one, though.” She flipped open a small port on the device. “Power connection, tiny little scuff marks around the edge of it. Every night, goes to plug it in to charge, but her hooves are shaking. You never see those marks on a sober mare's phone, never see a drunk's without them.” She passed the phone back. “There you go, you see, you were right.”
Applejack blinked. “I was right? Right about what?”
“The police don't consult amateurs.” Twilight settled back into her seat, very pleased with herself.
There was silence in the cab as Applejack processed the flood of reasoning. “That…was amazing.”
Twilight looked surprised. “You think so?”
“Of course it was. It was extraordinary, it was really…extraordinary.”
Twilight was pleased. “That's not what ponies normally say.”
“Oh, what do ponies normally say?”
Twilight smiled ironically. “Buck off.”
Applejack smiled as well, then looked out the window as the cab slowed. A minute or so later, the two were exiting the car on a street guarded by a police car. Applejack closed the door and matched the other mare's pace as Twilight turned toward her and asked, “Did I get anything wrong?”
“Mackie and me don't get on. Never have. Cheerilee and Mackie split up, three months ago. They're getting a divorce. Mackie is a drinker.”
Twilight was very pleased. “Wow, all right. I didn't expect to be right about everything.” She grinned victoriously.
The unicorn's smug smile was brief as Applejack continued, “Mackie's short for Macintosh.”
Twilight stopped walking. “Mackie's your brother.”
“Now what exactly am I supposed to be doing here?” Applejack asked.
Twilight was preoccupied with her failure. “Brother!”
“Seriously, what am I doing here?”
“It's always something,” Twilight complained. They resumed walking towards the police line that had been strung between several more patrol cars. A grey and blonde pegasus was waiting for them.
“Hello, freak,” she said to Twilight.
Twilight stopped at the line. “I'm here to see Detective Inspector Rainbow.”
“Why?” the pegasus asked.
Twilight looked at the policepony with annoyance. “I was invited.”
“Why?” the pegasus demanded.
“I think she wants me to take a look.” Twilight was irked now.
“Well, you know what I think don't you?” The hostility in the pegasus's eyes was obvious.
“Always, Derpy,” Twilight said. She sniffed the air as she ducked under the line. “I also know you didn't make it home last night.”
Derpy blinked in surprise, then noticed the earth pony also ducking under the tape. “Uh, who's this?”
“Colleague of mine, Dr. Applejack. Dr. Applejack, Sergeant Derpy Hooves. Old friend.” Applejack noted the same tone from when Twilight had introduced her skull.
“A colleague.” The sergeant scoffed in disbelief. “How do you get a colleague?” She turned to Applejack and pointed at Twilight. “What, did she follow you home?”
Applejack was already uncomfortable. Clearly this was a deviation from how Twilight normally worked, and it seemed almost as if the unicorn had dragged her along solely to annoy the police. “Would it be better if I just waited-”
“No.” The tape glowed as Twilight lifted it high enough for Applejack to pass under.
Derpy didn't press the issue. Instead, she spoke into a radio. “Freak's here, bringing her in.” She walked towards the building without bothering to tell them to follow.
A brown earth pony in a cleansuit was waiting for them. “Ah, Whooves,” Twilight greeted. “Here we are again.”
“It's a crime scene, I don't want it contaminated. Are we clear on that?” the earth pony growled.
“Quite clear,” Twilight agreed. She sniffed the air again. “And is your wife away for long?”
“Oh, don't pretend you worked that out,” Whooves jeered. “Somepony told you that.”
“Your deodorant told me that,” Twilight retorted.
“My deodorant,” Whooves said skeptically.
“It's for stallions!” Twilight said with a mischievous grin.
“Well of course it's for stallions! I'm wearing it!”
Twilight glanced at the grey pegasus. “So's Sergeant Hooves.” The pegasus and the brown earth pony exchanged a shocked look. Twilight sniffed the air once more. “Ooh! I think it just vaporized. May I go in?”
“Now look,” Whooves protested, “whatever you're trying to imply, I-”
“Oh, I'm not implying anything,” Twilight denied. “I'm sure Derpy dropped in for a nice little chat and just happened to stay over.” A self-satisfied grin was on her face as she brushed past Whooves. “And I assume she slept on the floor, judging by the state of her wings.” The forensics pony had nothing to say about that.
The entry hall had been converted into a base of operations for the forensics squad. Rainbow was waiting for them, already clad in a cleansuit of her own. Twilight passed a similar suit to Applejack. “You need to wear one of these.”
“Who's this?” Rainbow asked as Applejack shed her jacket and struggled to put on the full body cover.
“She's with me,” Twilight told her.
“But who is she?” Rainbow pressed.
“I said she's with me,” Twilight said with finality.
Applejack finished getting into the suit, then noticed Twilight hadn't taken one. “Aren't you going to put one on?” The unicorn stared at her as if the answer was obvious.
“So where are we?” she asked, forgoing the scrubs.
“Upstairs,” Rainbow said. She led the way. Twilight followed, with Applejack limping along at the rear. Up two flights, the door to a room laid open. “I can give you two minutes,” Rainbow said.
“May need longer,” Twilight replied.
Rainbow seemed to take that in stride. “Her name's Fleur de Lis, according to her credit cards. We're running them now for contact details. Hasn't been here long, some kids found her.”
The three stepped through the door. Within, the body of a white unicorn lay. Her mane was light pink, but disheveled, and she was clad in a pink dress-suit. Her hooves and lips were painted to match the dress. A cupcake lay on the floor by her head, icing down, half eaten. Twilight looked over the body, then glanced sharply at Rainbow. “Shut up.”
“I didn't say anything!” Rainbow protested.
“You were thinking,” Twilight retorted. “It's annoying.” Rainbow bit back a reply as Twilight started circling the body. The hooves were well filed, but as she got closer she noticed that the left one had been chipped from scratching five letters into the wood of the floor: R, a, c, h, e. The tail of the e trailed off to where the victim's writing had ended with her death. There were several pieces of jewelry on that leg as well. Twilight pulled a rubber sock over one hoof and ran it over the back of the dress, then looked at it. It was wet. A search of the victim's pockets found an umbrella, which was dry. On a guess, she ran her hoof under the victim's collar. Again, wet. She withdrew a magnifying lens and examined the jewelry more closely. Earrings, necklace, and rings were all well polished, except for a wedding band, which was pitted and tarnished. She carefully removed it, and examined it more closely. The inside of the band was clean, well polished. She smirked as she made her conclusions.
Rainbow noticed the slight grin. “Got anything?”
“Not much,” Twilight said, replacing the band withdrawing her phone to check something.
“She's Germane.” The three ponies turned to see Whooves standing in the doorway. The brown pony pointed at the word in the floor. “Rache! It's Germane for revenge. She could be trying to tell us somepony-”
“Yes, thank you for your input.” The door knob glowed as Twilight slammed it in Whooves' face.
“So she's Germane?” Rainbow asked.
“Of course she's not,” Twilight said without looking away from her phone. “She's from out of town, though. Intended to stay in Canterlot for one night, before returning home to Cartiff. So far, so obvious.”
“Sorry, obvious?” Applejack asked.
“But what about the, message?” Rainbow urged.
Twilight ignored both questions. “Doctor Applejack, what do you think?”
“What, of the message?”
“Of the body, you're a medical mare.”
“Wait, no,” Rainbow objected. “We have a whole team outside.”
“They won't work with me,” the unicorn said dismissively.
The pegasus snorted in frustration. “I'm breaking every rule letting you in here-”
“Yes, because you need me.”
Rainbow paused before agreeing. “Yes I do.” She looked down at the floor. “Celestia help me,” she muttered.
Applejack glanced at Rainbow for permission. The pegasus waved her on. “Well, do as she says, help yourself.” She opened the door and walked out. “Whooves, keep everypony out for a couple of minutes.” The door closed, muffling the ensuing argument between the policeponies.
Applejack leaned her cane against a wall and stepped closer to the body. Twilight leaned in and looked expectantly at her. “Well?”
“What am I doing here?” Applejack asked.
“Helping me make a point,” Twilight whispered.
“I'm supposed to be helping you pay the rent.”
“Yes, well, this is more fun.”
“Fun?” Applejack pointed at the body. “There's a mare lying dead!”
“Perfectly sound analysis,” Twilight said, “but I was hoping you'd go deeper.”
The door opened again as Rainbow reentered the room. Applejack pulled on a pair of socks as well and groaned in as leaned towards the corpse on her bad leg. She sniffed; stomach acid, concentrated around the mouth. She tried to lift a leg; rigor hadn't set in yet, she noted. The limb was cold. She peered into the victim's eyes; bloodshot. “Yeah. Asphyxiation. Probably passed out, choked on her own vomit.” She stepped away from the body. “Can't smell any alcohol on her, could've been a seizure. Possibly drugs-”
“You know what it was,” Twilight cut in. “You've read the papers.”
Applejack blinked in surprise. “What, she's one of the suicides, the fourth-?”
Rainbow broke into the conversation. “Twilight, I said two minutes. I need anything you got.”
Twilight began speaking. “Victim is in her late thirties, professional person going by her clothes, I'm guessing something in the media, going by the frankly alarming shade of pink.” She pulled off the socks with a snap. “Traveled from Cartiff today, intending to stay in Canterlot for one night, obvious from the size of her suitcase.”
“Suitcase?” Rainbow asked.
“Suitcase, yes,” Twilight said distractedly, looking around the room again. “She's been married for at least ten years, but not happily. She's had a string of lovers, but none of them knew she was married.”
“Oh, for Celestia's sake,” Rainbow said, disbelief on her face. “If you're just making this up-”
Twilight pointed at the body. “Her wedding ring! Ten years old at the least. The rest of her jewelry's been regularly cleaned, but not her wedding ring. State of her marriage, right there. The inside of the ring is shinier than the outside, that means it's regularly removed. The only polishing it gets is when she works if off. It's not for work, look at that hooficure, she doesn't work with her hooves. So what, or rather who does she remove her rings for? Clearly not one lover, she'd never sustain the fiction of being single over that amount of time, so more likely a string of them, simple.”
“It's brilliant!” Applejack exclaimed. Twilight looked at her sharply. “Sorry,” the earth pony muttered.
“Cartiff?” Rainbow asked.
“It's obvious, isn't it?” Twilight said, still searching around the room.
“It's not obvious to me,” Applejack said.
The unicorn looked at them both curiously. “Dear Princess Celestia. What is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring!” She pointed at the body again. “Her coat. It's slightly damp. She's been in heavy rain in the last few hours, no rain anywhere in Canterlot in that time. Under her coat collar is damp too. She's turned it up against the wind. She's got an umbrella in her left pocket but it's dry and unused. Not just wind, strong wind. Too strong to use her umbrella. We know from her suitcase that she was intending to stay overnight so she must have come a decent distance, but she can't have travelled more than two or three hours because her coat still hasn't dried. So, where has there been heavy rain and strong wind within the radius of that travel time?” She held up her phone, a weather report on the screen. “Cartiff.”
“It's fantastic!” Applejack blurted.
Twilight turned towards the earth pony. “Do you know you do that out loud?”
“Sorry,” Applejack apologized. “I'll shut up.”
“No,” Twilight said. “It's…fine.”
“Why do you keep saying suitcase?” Rainbow asked.
“Yes, where is it?” Twilight returned to looking around the room, as if something could be hiding within the bare space. “She must have had a phone or an organizer. Find out who Rachel is.”
“She was writing Rachel?” the pegasus asked.
The irritated unicorn spun to face the pegasus. “No, she was leaving an angry note in Germane,” she hissed sarcastically. “Of course she was writing Rachel! No other word it can be. Question is, why did she wait until she was dying to write it?”
“So, how did you know she had a suitcase?”
Twilight pointed at the body again. “Back of the hind right leg, tiny splash marks on the hock and cannon, not present on the left. She was dragging a wheeled suitcase behind her on her right side. Don't get that splash pattern any other way. Smallish case, going by the spread. Case that size, mare this clothes conscious, could only be an overnight bag, so we know she was staying one night.” She glanced around the body once more. “Now where is it, what have you done with it?”
“There wasn't a case,” Rainbow told her.
Twilight slowly looked up, ears twitching as she checked her hearing. “Say that again.”
“There wasn't a case,” Rainbow repeated. “There was never any suitcase.”
Twilight whisked past them into the hall. “Suitcase!” she shouted down the stairs. “Did anypony find a suitcase? Was there a suitcase in this house?”
“Twilight, there's no case!” Rainbow insisted as she and Applejack stepped out of the room.
The unicorn peered back at them. “They take the poison themselves, they chew, swallow the cupcakes themselves, there are clear signs, even you lot couldn't miss them!” She raced down the stairs.
“Right, yeah, thanks,” Rainbow muttered. Then, louder: “And?”
Twilight paused and looked back up. “It's murder. All of them. I don't know how. They're not suicides, they're killings, serial killings.” She was grinning gleefully. “We've got ourselves a serial killer! Love those, there's always something to look forward to.” She started down again.
“Why are you saying that?” Rainbow asked.
Twilight stopped and looked back at them with exasperation. “Her case! Come on, where is her case? Did she eat it? Somepony else was here and they took her case!” She grew quieter as she realized something. “So the killer must have driven her here. Forgot the case was in the car.”
“She could've, uh, checked into a hotel,” Applejack suggested. “Left her case there.”
“No, she never got to the hotel, look at her hair! She color coordinates her lipstick and her hooves, she'd never have left any hotel with her hair still looking…oh...” The unicorn fell back on her haunches as it hit her. “Oh!” She clapped her hooves in front of her face as the enormity of what she'd realized became more apparent.
“Twilight?” Applejack asked.
“What is it, what?” Rainbow added
“Serial killer's always hard, have to wait for them to make a mistake.”
“We can't just wait!” Rainbow shouted down.
“Oh, we're done waiting,” Twilight shouted back. “Look at her, really look! Horseton, we have a mistake! Get on to Cartiff, find who Fleur de Lis's family and friends were, find Rachel!” The unicorn got back on her hooves and raced down the stairs.
“Of course, yeah, but WHAT MISTAKE?” Rainbow yelled as the Twilight reached the entry hall.
The unicorn's head appeared at the bottom just long enough for her to answer. “PINK!” Twilight shouted back. She then raced away into the hall, leaving Applejack and Rainbow wondering what she'd meant.