43w, 4dThe Conversion Bureau
From the memoirs of Dr. John H. Watson
Additional editing by Berry Pony
On a cold deary morning early in March 188-, I entered the sitting room
to find Sherlock Holmes lounging in his armchair while the remnants of
a cold breakfast lay spread across the table in front of him. My friend
was lost in his thoughts, scarcely aware of his rapidly cooling tea.
"Good morning, Watson," he finally said. Holmes reached across the table
and threw over a sheet of thick, gold-tinted note-paper which had been lying
amidst the wreckage of his breakfast. "The page boy brought this up early
this morning. What do you make of it?"
The note was undated, and without an address.
"There has been an incident of such horror and dismay at the
London Conversion Bureau this morning that we find ourselves
at wit's end as how to proceed. Knowing of your reputation, we
ask that you receive us at 10 o'clock this morning and advise
us as to how to handle this affair. The police can not be called
in - as the resulting uproar and scandal would be fatal to our
Miss T. Sparkle
"A lady's handwriting," I remarked. "Written on a expensive sheet of
paper." I examined the note-paper more closely. "The sheet is pecularily
strong and stiff."
Holmes nodded. "Hold it up to the light."
Holding the sheet of note-paper to the weak March sunlight streaming in
through our room's windows, I looked for the paper-maker's mark. "There
does not seem to be any manufacturer." I laid the note-paper back onto
the breakfast table.
"I am familiar with the products of most paper manufacturers in Great Britain
and Europe - and that paper was not made in any of them," Holmes remarked.
"Furthermore, the writing was done with a quill and ink. No steel pen nib
would produce such a flourish to the descenders. But wait. We will meet
the writer shortly."
A confused set of footsteps upon the stairs and passage paused in front of
our door. Then there was a timid knocking on our door.
"Come in," said Holmes.
I made signs of rising up and leaving the breakfast table. Holmes signaled
me to sit back down as two women entered the room. The first woman had
blonde hair, pale with green eyes, and was very tall and regal in her coat of
white and gold. Her companion was smaller, with a darker Italian complexion,
wearing a dress of purple with red and black trimmings.
"Kindly take a seat," Holmes said graciously. "This is my friend, Doctor
Watson, who has helped me in the past." He waved them at the sofa while
he sat back in his armchair, his eyes half-hooded.
"It's awful," the smaller woman began.
Her companion settled comfortable on the sofa and looked at the smaller
woman. "Forgive us," she said. "My name is... Lady Celestia and my friend
is Miss Sparkle. We have come on a matter of great importance and are
in need of your services."
"Before we begin," Holmes said, leaning forward. "Perhaps your ladyship
would drop her glamour and show your true shape?"
"How... how can you tell?"
"It is a snowy and cold day," he said. "The hems of both your dresses are
neat, clean and dry. One would expect some snow to melt and wet the hems.
Furthermore, when Miss Sparkle and yourself sat yourselves down on the
sofa, I glanced at your shoes. Neither set of shoes show even the slightest
marks of wear. Not even the signs of having trodden through the snow and
slush. And then we have the sounds of your arrival on the steps outside
our rooms. Instead of the heavy step-step-step of a stout gentlemen or the
light step-step of a young man, I hear the confused clattering of hooves.
When you entered our chambers, I looked at the footsteps left in our
carpeting," he waved a hand at the carpet in front of our door, "and found
"Very well," the tall blonde woman spoke. The two women suddenly glowed
with a inner white glow that faded slowly, revealing a tall white mare
with the wings of a pegasus and the horn of a unicorn. The smaller woman
was revealed as a small purple pony with a unicorn's horn. "I had thought
that taking a human shape would make it easier to talk to you. I hadn't
forseen that you'd see though our disguise."
Holmes sat back in his armchair. "Perhaps, we should start again. How may
I and Doctor Watson be of service?"
"It was just awful," the purple unicorn started again.
"Twilight," the white mare said.
Twilight closed her eyes and said,"I don't know if you are familiar with
the work done at the London Conversion Bureau?"
Holmes closed his eyes. "Kindly look up the Conversion Bureau in my index,
I have written before about Sherlock Holmes' system of docketing all the
paragraphs concerning men and things and how it was possible to look up
all the information desired about anything. I found the folder and handed
the contents to my friend.
"Let me see... Article from the Pall Mall. Editorial from the Times. You
provide a service of converting men into ponies to allow them to emigrate
to Equestria - Ha! Opened about a half year ago. Hum. I see."
"And now the whole thing is in danger of being closed up." Twilight said.
"The incident referred in your note," Holmes replied.
"This morning," Celestia began, "a pegasus making a delivery flew over
the outbuildings and mews behind the Conversion Bureau. As he was landing,
he spotted a brightly colored thing on the rooftop of the kitchen. The
pegasus flew to look at it more closely. He found a body of a young
man - which had been partially converted to a pony. The pegasus was
so horrified that he came inside to get help. We did not want to go to
the police - there are enough rumours going around about the work of the
Conversion Bureau - and bringing in the police would aggravate the situation."
"I had been reading about your cases," Twilight Sparkle interrupted, "in
the Strand Magazine."
Celestia gave Twilight a warning stare. "I had come down from Canterlot
to visit my student Twilight. She suggested we consult you."
Holmes returned the pages to me. "So, the body is still there? No one
has entered the area?" he asked.
Twilight nodded. "After reading the mess that Lestrade, Gregson and Co. have
often made of crime scenes, I've given strict orders that the place be
"It certainly is cold enough to keep the body cool," he said, glancing at
the grey weather outside. "Can the body be seen from the street?"
"Only from the back. I've posted a pony there to discourage anyone from
"I shall definitely come. Watson, would you mind coming along?"
"Not at all," I said.
"Would you like a retainer? How about 300 bits?" Twilight asked. She
reached around and tossed a small leather bag onto the breakfast table.
"A bit?" Holmes asked. He leaned forward and took the bag in his hands.
Spilling forth were a collection of small golden coins. "This shall do."
He gathered up the coins and closing up the drawstring, placed the bag
into his waistcoat pocket. "We shall arrive in the hour."
Celestia smiled and started to glow blazing white. Then the two vanished.
"Come, Watson, grab your hat." Holmes rose. "There's work to be done."
In a hansom, we were soon well on our way to Jermyn Street address of
the Conversion Bureau. While I turned my thoughts towards the poor
unfortunate lying on the rooftop, Holmes sat quietly.
"Have you formed any theories," I finally asked.
Holmes turned away from his view of the streets, piled high with dirty
snow. "I have not. It is a mistake to create theories when I have no
facts to work with."
"The work of the Conversion Bureau is somewhat controversial. While the
British Medical Board has given it's approval of the procedure, many of my
colleagues still find the practice of turning humans into ponies abhorrent.
Could this unfortunate be a victim of the Conversion Bureau?"
"Facts, Watson," he said gruffly. "But see, we are here." He tapped on
the roof of the hansom and waited for the cab to come to a stop. The hansom
had stopped in front of a large, handsome building. It was three stories
tall, built of white stone in the classic style. I followed Holmes inside
into the building's lobby.
"Sherlock Holmes, to see Twilight Sparkle." he said to the porter. The pony
took Holmes' card in his mouth and trotted upstairs.
"I'm so glad that you could come so quickly," Twilight Sparkle said as she
descended the broad stairs. "What do you want to see first?"
"If we could start with the scene of the crime," he replied, "you could then
remove the body from the public view."
"Of course," the purple unicorn said. "This way."
She led us back outside and down a side passage to the rear of the building.
It was a narrow, stone paved yard with a high wall, containing a small stable
and outbuilding. The back of the Conversion Bureau was not as imposing as the
front, being made of a dirty red brick.
"Stop," Holmes ordered. He then took out a magnifying glass and began to
examine the wall around the small yard. Holmes took extra time in studying
the single gate into the yard.
"No one has been in this yard since the discovery of the body?" he asked as
he was crawling around the stones.
"Only the pegasus," Twilight replied. "And he never set hoof down."
"Hum!" Holmes crossed the yard and began to study the side of the building.
He examined the ground next to one of the downspouts and then the pipe of
the downspout carefully. Taking a measuring tape from his pockets, Holmes
compared the distance between marks left on the building. Finally, he
wrapped up the measuring tape and put it into his pockets.
"A young man, wearing worn shoes and a green jacket scrambled over the back
wall," Holmes said. "He stood over there for a moment, before climbing up
the back side of the Conversion Bureau, using the downspout. He was 5'3"
in height and experienced in this type of work."
I was accustomed to this kind of deduction but Twilight was not. "How did
you guess all this?"
"Twilight," Holmes smiled. "I never guess. I began at the obvious point of
entry to the yard - the gate. He lifted himself up. There are signs of his
footprints in the hoarfrost of the yard's walls and on the gate. While the
yard has been kept swept, I found signs of his cigarette ash as he stood
waiting as well as the stub of a lucifer. I believe his cigarette is still
in his pocket."
"But his height? And the green jacket? And the worn shoes?"
"I measured his footprints - there is a correlation between a man's height
and the size of his stride. As for the details of his clothes - I discovered
threads from his jacket in the fittings of the downspout. And finally,
new shoes have a hard edge of their soles - the scuff marks on the red
bricks show a smoothed over edge - like those of worn shoes."
Holmes rubbed his hands in delight. "But now, we must look at the body."
Twilight looked puzzled. "The body is on the roof of the kitchen. How
He turned and looked at the rows of windows. "We can descend to the
kitchen roof from that window. We can get access to that window,
Twilight studied the back wall of windows. "I will arrange access."
Climbing precariously onto the kitchen roof, we approached the body.
Twilight remained in the building. Holmes kneeled down close to the
body and stopped.
The remains of the young man was dressed in the green jacket, brown
trousers and the worn shoes. His flat cap was lying nearby. He lay
crumpled as if he had fallen. But over half of his body was not even
human. His hands and legs were stumps with a rudimentary hoof where
his fingers and toes were supposed to be. His green jacket was ripped
across his back. A stub of a tail stuck out from his brown trousers.
Holmes put out his hand to roll the body onto his back. I caught a
glimpse of the young man's face and even though I had seen the horrors
of war as a doctor in Afghanistan - nothing was as horrific as what
had become of that man's face.
Holmes shuddered and quickly let the body roll back onto its side. He
looked up and around before walking back to the window where Twilight
I followed. Behind me, two pegasus descended to remove the body.
"He fell. But he did not die from falling," Holmes said. "I found traces
of this underneath his body." He held a small glass and brass capsule
with traces of a shimmering purple residue. "I am familiar with most
chemical compounds and mixtures - but this puzzles me."
"Do not allow that to touch you!" Twilight quickly said. A reddish
glow surrounded the glass and brass capsule, pulling it out of Holmes'
"It is a contact poison then?"
"No... yes... it... it is the potion that we use to convert humans into
ponies. Three ounces are required for a full conversion. Any less and...
let's just say the results are not very pretty."
Holmes cleaned his hands on his coat. "The young man was lying in a
small puddle of the... potion. The capsule is broken, as you can see."
He looked up and asked. "Can we go upstairs and examine that room's
window? I have my theory as to what happened and merely want it confirmed."
Twilight looked unsettled but then gave her consent. We closed the window
and walked upstairs.
The purple unicorn stopped in front of a heavily barred door and concentrated.
After a moment, a click was heard and the door swung open. Inside, there
were hundreds of small glass and brass capsules, arranged in rows in their
boxes. "Be very careful, Mr. Holmes." Twilight warned.
Holmes entered the room and examined the sole window in the back. He took
his magnifying glass out again and looked at the sill before slipping it
back into his pocket. Finally, he raised the window and studied the bricks
Closing the window, he looked at the rows and rows of glass and brass
capsules. "Ah ha!" he said as he showed us a box with single capsule
Twilight sighed as she signaled for us to leave the room. "So what happened?"
"The young man entered the Conversion Bureau to steal a sample of the potion.
As he was leaving the building, his hand slipped and he fell. Unfortunately,
his stolen sample broke as he landed and he got a fatal dosage. That is,
he failed to get enough of a dosage to save his life."
We walked down the stairs to the lobby.
Twilight stopped at the bottom of the steps. "And now?"
Holmes turned back to the purple unicorn. "I do not know. You will have to
decide where to go next.” He turned and left the building. “The case has its
interesting points, I will grant that. But what say you to a dinner at Strands?"