• Published 20th Oct 2011
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Death Note: Equestria - Nonagon



A deadly notebook called the Death Note lands in Equestria. Chaos ensues.

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Sweep

7
*Sweep*

Even if you do not actually possess the Death Note, the effect will be the same if you can recognize the pony and write his/her name on the page.

"A costume party?" Pinkie Pie bounced excitedly. "That's exactly what I was thinking too, Twilight!"

"That's great!" Twilight Sparkle responded, trying her best to match her friend's enthusiasm. They had taken up space in Pinkie Pie's loft, where already long streamers and guest lists were starting to pile up. "I've already got tons of ideas. I'd love to help you out in any way I can."

"This is so fantastic!" The pink pony finally bounded to a halt. "Thank you so much for offering to help out. With my know-how and your organization, we can make this the biggest, best party ever!"

“It’s no trouble at all,” Twilight said. “I just figured that since Spike’s always too busy with Colgate to help out at the library, this would be the perfect opportunity to get out and try something new.” The two smiled at each other. Twilight pulled the Life Note towards her and opened it to a bookmarked page. “First things first, location. You’re still sure you want to invite as many ponies as possible?” Pinkie Pie nodded enthusiastically. “Well, Ponyville's a lot bigger than it was last year, so even if we just invite the adults we'll still have at least a few hundred bodies. The library or Sugarcube Corner isn't going to cut it this time. So," she held up a hoof as Pinkie Pie's face fell. "How about the town hall?"

The party pony's eyes widened. "We can do that?"

"Absolutely." Twilight opened the Life Note for Pinkie Pie to see and pointed at some figures she'd drawn. "I already mentioned the idea to the mayor, and she's interested in the possibility. So long as we give her two days notice and clean up afterwards, she says we can use the space however we want.” The pink pony practically buzzed with excitement. “Of course, it’ll still be a little crowded, so we’ll still need to thin the numbers a little. How do you feel about alcohol?”

“Huh?” Pinkie Pie froze, looking puzzled. “A drinking party? But the last time we tried something like that you threw up all over the-”

“Don’t worry, Pinkie, it won’t be like that,” Twilight interrupted, blushing. “I’ll make sure nopony has too much. It’s just so everypony understands it’s a party for grown-ups, so we won’t have too many young ponies filling the place up. Besides, Davenport could use the business.” In a town where ponies preferred their drinks with more sugar than fermentation the brown pony’s latest expansion to his store, Beer, Quills and Sofas, was doing poorly. While a sharp salesman, Davenport had never had much of a sense of supply and demand. “And I thought we agreed never to discuss Applejack’s birthday party again.”

"Well... if you’re sure, Twilight.” A loud ding! sounded from below and Pinkie Pie leaped several feet into the air. “Cupcakes are ready!” she yelled, somehow changing directions in midair and diving out the door towards the stairs.

Twilight smiled. A shadow passed over her face as her Shinigami companion drifted down from the ceiling. “You really don’t want any kids at this party, do you?”

“No, of course not.” Twilight rose and cast her gaze around the untidy room. “I don’t want any children exposed to what’s going to happen at the party. I don’t want to scar anypony if there’s a way around it.”

“So you do have a plan.” Byuk tried to land, but couldn’t find any clear spaces wide enough for his large frame. He settled for hovering over Pinkie Pie’s bed. “At a party, huh? That’s pretty brave. Don’t you think it will look suspicious, something happening at a party you organized?”

"Don't worry, Byuk. I'll let Pinkie Pie take most of the credit for the party. There won’t be a single thing to connect me to this." She trotted over to Pinkie Pie's dresser and rummaged through it. "This party will be the culmination of all the things I've learned over the past week. Finally, I'll get some results. And I guarantee there's no way L will see this coming." From within the drawer she pulled out several small, pink gemstones: basic recording crystals, from when Pinkie Pie had tried her own hand at film-making. "I always said she had too many of these anyway," Twilight muttered, dropping two of the crystals into her saddlebags.

“Are you sure you’ve thought this through?”

“Don’t you trust me, Byuk?” Twilight asked teasingly, sitting back down. “Besides, I have lots of time to work out if I’ve missed anything. Not even Pinkie Pie can set up an event like this overnight, even with me helping her. Between planning, expenses, decorating, invitations and the amount of baking she has to do, I estimate that she’s going to need at least another week.”

---

Three days later, the party was ready. Countless folding tables and drinks coolers were rolled into the town hall throughout the afternoon, as well as mountains of candies and baked treats. Darkness was beginning to fall when guests started to arrive, at first in ones and twos but soon in large groups. Ray Painter watched the procession from across the square, biding his time. He wouldn't be able to see anything from out here, but he couldn't risk exposing himself by going in alone. He needed a plan.

As night fell and the numbers began to dwindle, Ray decided he could wait no longer. He emerged from the bush he'd been crouching behind and strode swiftly towards the large building, only to immediately collide with another pony he hadn't seen. "Sorry, ma'am."

"Sorry, sir," the other pony said simultaneously. They both froze. "Ray?"

"Searchlight?" The two agents looked at each other. By unspoken agreement they ducked back into the alley from which the mare had emerged. "What are you doing here?"

"My target's at the party. I guess yours is, too." The yellow unicorn flicked her mane in irritation. "Hope nopony saw that."

"Would you two keep it down?" a third voice hissed. "We're undercover, here!" A head stuck peered around the corner from the other end of the alley, followed by another. "Seriously, we've been waiting ten minutes for one of you to go in first."

"Goldeneye?" Ray Painter thought for a moment, then sighed and turned his face upwards. "Craft? Flash? You up there, too?"

There was a pause, then a pair of pegasi dropped down from the rooftops and landed with practiced silence. "You shouldn't yell so much," muttered the larger of the two. "You'll get us in trouble."

Goldeneye and his partner walked into the alley, completing the little circle. Two earth ponies, two pegasi and two unicorns: Goldeneye and Colt Phelps, Auster Craft and Aurora Flash, Ray Painter and Searchlight. Storm Seeker affectionately referred to the group as the Elements of Secrecy, and often insisted that they do the same. (Secretly, each pony thought that their boss was a little obsessed with elements.) Ray felt a smile sneaking up on him. "It looks like the gang's all here."

"You mean it looks like the gig is up," Searchlight fumed. "We're vulnerable if we're all together. There's no way we can look inconspicuous if we're caught talking to each other."

"You think we should split up?" Aurora asked. "If we stagger ourselves, the party's going to be over by the time we're all in."

"No, no," Colt Phelps spoke up. He and Aurora Flash were a few years younger than the others, and both tended to speak out against the older ponies’ authority. "We can make this work. Ponies are a lot less likely to notice a group arriving at a party than individuals. I say we go together, then split up once we're inside.”

“No, no, bad idea.” Searchlight pointed to a poster that had been left out. “It’s a spy party, remember? Because that pink pony somehow put two and two together and worked out that we’re here.” Ray Painter fought to maintain his poker face. “They know we’re here. They’ll be looking for us. We can’t risk losing our cover like this.”

“No, the spy part is why we’ll be safe,” Colt Phelps responded. “Know why? Because everypony is going to be dressed like a secret agent. We’ll blend in like diamondbacks in a coal mine. Well, except for you, Ray.” He paused. “What’s with the getup, anyway?”

Everypony stared. Ray Painter blushed. While the others were dressed in the standard dark coat and tie, he’d traded his for a simple grey polo shirt. Rarity had said it matched his eyes; she’d been a little disappointed when he’d chosen to keep the sunglasses. “I, uh... I just thought it was time for a change.”

“Huh. Well, it looks good on you.”

“Thanks.”

“Anyway. Shall we vote?” After a quick show of hooves, entering as a group won the vote four to two. “Awesome. Ray, got the time?”

“Almost eight.”

“Great. Let’s go.”

The little group made their way across the town square. Goldeneye edged his way next to Ray Painter, eyeing his shirt enviously. “Now that is a fine shirt,” the stallion remarked. “Looks high-quality. Where did you get it?”

“Uh...”

“Just you and me, Ray,” Rarity had begged him. “Please. I know how much it would mean to them, but you can’t tell anypony just yet. Not until it’s safe.”

“Isn’t it safe now?”

“No, my love. Not until Kira is caught. We won’t ever truly be safe until then.” She looked at him pleadingly. “Can’t we keep this a secret for just a little while longer? For me?”

“I’ll tell you later.” Goldeneye frowned, but didn’t push the subject. Ahead of them Colt Phelps reached the door and, taking a deep breath, pushed it open a crack. As one they walked inside.

“SURPRISE!”

The six agents froze. Lights went up, illuminating the whole room. The main hall was completely full of ponies, all wearing black, all smiling, and all eyes on them. Searchlight punched Phelps in the shoulder. “I told you,” she hissed.

“Not my fault. Also, ow.”

A fluffy pink pony bounced over to them. “Welcome to Ponyville, everypony!” she chirped. Unlike the others she had no suit, but for some reason was wearing fake cat ears and had glued whiskers to her face. “Here, have some name tags!”

“Name tags, Twilight?” Pinkie Pie asked, puzzled. “We’ve never needed those before.”

“That’s right, Pinkie,” Twilight responded, not even looking up from her notes. “But if this is a ‘welcome to Ponyville’ party as well as a costume party, how else will the new arrivals recognize everypony when they’re all dressed up?”

“Of course! Twilight, you think of everything!”

The group hastily wrote down their false names while Pinkie Pie continued to chatter. “I saw you guys sneaking around town everywhere and I thought, wow! Those are some swanky outfits! And then I realized that I’d never seen you before, and I know everypony, and I mean everypony in Ponyville! And if I don’t know you, then that means you’re new! But I’m not supposed to throw parties every time somepony new arrives any more because then I’d have to throw like four or five parties a day, and even I can’t do that and it made me so sad that I couldn’t have a party for just you because that would be unfair! But then I found out that you’re secret agents and I knew, I just knew knew knew I had to throw a super-special Pinkie Pie Spy Party just for you because that is so like the most incredible thing ever!”

Please don’t say my name please don’t say my name please don’t say my name.

“Hi, Ray!”

Shoot. Ray Painter took a step forward, ignoring the filthy looks he was getting from his colleagues. “Hello, miss... Pinkie, was it?”

“You remembered!” Pinkie Pie clapped happily. Searchlight and the others took the opportunity to dash away in all directions, leaving Ray alone with the bubbly filly.

“And what are you supposed to be?”

“I’m the Pink Panther, silly! Rawr!” Pinkie Pie gave a catlike swipe and giggled, but was only met by a blank look. “Huh. Doesn’t anypony but me watch movies? Aww, but you’re not in costume at all! What happened to your suit? That would have been perfect for a spy party!”

“Oh... I was just trying to blend in better.” Ray hissed the last three words. “You know, so I wouldn’t stand out. So nopony would know I was here.”

“Don’t worry, silly. That’s why I brought this!” From somewhere she pulled out a large bag. “It’s a spare costume. Just in case!”

Ray Painter opened the sack cautiously. Inside was a black hat, a clip-on tie, a comically large spy headset, and for some reason a cape. He considered his options, then shrugged and started putting the assembled pieces on. To fit the plastic communicator around his head he had to momentarily take off his glasses, which drew Pinkie Pie’s interest. “Ooh, pretty. How do you get your eyes like that?”

Ray Painter sighed. “They’re always like this. I’m half Neighponese, that’s all.”

“You’re from Neighpon? And you’re a spy...?” Pinkie Pie sat back, gears audibly turning inside her head, and a look of childlike wonder came over her face. “Are you...” she whispered. “Are you a ninja?”

Ray’s jaw dropped. “What? I... what?”

“Oh my goodness!” Pinkie Pie gasped, putting her front hooves to her face. “I forgot! You can’t tell me you’re a ninja because that would be breaking the ninja code!”

“Wha... I... I’m not a ninja! I’ve never even been to Neighpon!”

Pinkie Pie bowed low and winked. “Don’t worry, master. I’ve got your back. Hey, everypony!” she yelled, bounding away. “Change of plans! This is now a ninja party!”

Once he’d recovered, Ray wandered away to examine the rest of the room with a critical eye. Everywhere he looked he saw a sea of black suits and bowler hats, along with a few mares wearing seductive cocktail dresses. The middle of the room was full of dancers gyrating to a simple beat, and pegasi hovered and chatted overhead. One costume-less pony with a fruit cutie mark stood by the drinks table, downing a large glass of cheap alcohol. But where was-

“Hello, Ray Painter.”

The agent whipped around, but nopony was even looking his way. “Who’s there?” he hissed.

“Listen to me closely, Ray Painter, and keep quiet. This is important.” The voice crackled slightly, and he realized it was coming from inside his headset. But it’s fake! Isn’t it? “Tell me, do you see the large brown pegasus behind the pillar to your left?”

Anxiety rising, Ray turned to look. There was indeed a huge, muscular colt with long, eye-covering bangs leaning against a wall in a quieter part of the room. “Yes. I see him.”

“Get a little closer. Keep watching.” Ray took a few tentative steps forward while the mystery voice continued to speak. The poor quality of the transmission combined with the noise around him made the voice muffled, hard to identify. “His name is Hoops. Two weeks ago he was arrested in Cloudsdale on grounds of sexual assault. Despite the testimony of the filly he attacked the court decided that there wasn’t enough physical evidence to convict him. He was released ten days ago and immediately fled to Ponyville to escape the girl’s family.”

Hoops, heart attack.
Enters Ponyville’s town hall at 19:45 and stays near the south-west wall. At 20:05 he quietly dies of a heart attack without drawing attention to himself.

The colt coughed once, then his legs buckled and he slid slowly to the floor. From a distance he appeared to be asleep. Ray’s eyes widened, then narrowed. “Kira.”

“The streets of Ponyville are a little safer now, wouldn’t you agree?”

“You’re a monster.”

Twilight Sparkle chuckled. She couldn’t believe how well this was going. She watched the EBI agent out of the corner of her eye, blending in perfectly thanks to her own dark suit and black glasses. Earlier she’d broken a tiny chip off the corner of her stratoscreen at home and planted it into the earpiece of the prop communicator, setting it to the same magical frequency as the recording crystal she now held. A similar setup in the mouthpiece allowed the agent to talk back, responding to a second chip hidden inside her ear. She’d then planted the altered device in one of Pinkie Pie’s emergency prop bags, and the clueless filly had delivered it right to him. Twilight raised her glass of punch to her lips, whispering into the crystal she’d taped to the inside. “Now that you know who I am, here’s how this is going to work. You know that I can kill whoever I want, whenever I want. For the rest of the evening, consider yourself my hostage. If you in any way signal to anypony that I am speaking to you, I will kill them and then you. Oh, and if that’s not incentive enough...” Despite herself Twilight smiled wickedly. “I’ll kill your marefriend as well.”

Ray’s breath caught in his throat. He ducked behind a nearby pillar, trying to drown out the sounds of the party around him. “How do you know about her?” he blurted before he could stop himself.

Perfect. “No questions, Ray. A word out of place and your beloved Rarity dies. Is that understood?”

Ray Painter gritted his teeth. He doesn’t know her name, he realized, relief flooding through him. "Yes," he grunted.

"Good. Here is my first question. If you refuse to answer, or if I even suspect that you are lying to me, I will begin killing ponies around you until you respond." Twilight giggled. "Do you know the names and faces of all the other EBI agents in Ponyville?"

"No." This was partly true; Goldeneye had been a member of the team for only a few months, so he wasn't yet sure if the name was an alias or not. Ray bit his lip, praying that Kira wouldn't call him out on a technicality.

"Very well." The voice did not sound disappointed at the news. Ray clamped his mouth shut just in time to stifle a sigh of relief. "Do you know the name and face of your superior?"

There was no getting out of this one. "Yes," Ray grudgingly admitted.

"Good." Twilight paused to smile at a passing colt, then returned to her drink. "Underneath the drinks table to your right you will find a blank name tag. You will write down your superior's full name on it and leave it underneath the table. If you write down a false name, I will know right away."

As casually as possible, Ray Painter walked over to the drink table. Hoping that nopony was looking, he made his way behind it and ducked under the tablecloth. Sure enough, a discarded name tag was lying near one of the feet, as well as a worn-down pencil. What's Kira playing at? he wondered, picking up the tag and turning it over. The reports showed he needs a name and a face to kill. What's he going to do with just a name? Still, I guess he hasn't left me any choice. He picked up the pencil and scratched down a name onto the tag.

Storm Seeker

I'm sorry, boss. The image of the chubby pegasus leaped into his mind but he forced himself not to show any signs of emotion. "It's done," he hissed into the mouthpiece.

"Good. Now, leave the party through the main entrance. Do not speak to anypony. The cafe directly across the street is unlocked. Go inside and wait in the far corner. At ten o’clock, you may leave." There was a pause. "It's been a pleasure working with you, Ray Painter."

Ray didn't dignify this with a response. Instead he rose up and headed for the door in a straight line, keeping his eyes in front as he walked outside.

---

One hour passed, very slowly.

---

Rarity pouted. She tapped a hoof on the floor impatiently, skimming the menu in front of her for the tenth time. "Is there a problem, madame?" the waiter asked.

"No, no problem," Rarity said through clenched teeth. "He'll just be a few more minutes, I'm sure."

Horte Cuisine nodded, then scrunched up his face in irritation as he walked away. Aside from the chef, he and Rarity were the only ponies in the restaurant; virtually everypony else was at the big party in the town hall. He'd drawn the short straw for the lone reservation, so until this fussy unicorn left he was stuck here. How long was she planning to wait, all dressed up like she was going to the Gala? Another hour? Longer?

Rarity sighed. She bit her lip and looked at the clock once again, going over her exact words the other night. Ray had understood that she had meant tonight, hadn't he? With everypony at the party, this would be the one night they could safely go out for dinner together like a normal couple. He'd promised he would come. He promised.

It was nearly nine o’clock. The reservation was for eight. In the EBI, there was a saying that the only admissible excuse for being more than an hour late for anything was a death in the family: specifically, your own. Newer recruits usually believed at first that this was a joke. More experienced agents lived by the rule religiously. Experience had shown that if a responsible pony failed to turn up somewhere, there was usually only one reason.

“Please, Ray,” Rarity whispered, clenching her teeth tightly. She kept up her pouty expression, refusing to let her terror show in front of the waiter. Inside, the gears were spinning rapidly. You know what’s happened, her inner voice mocked her. You knew that this was a risk. You saw how easily Kira killed Caramel. Why, if he even suspected that Ray was following him...

The clock struck nine.

In a flash Rarity leaped from her seat and ran outside, leaving the fuming waiter behind.

---

With a subtle sweep of magic Twilight picked up the name tag she’d hidden under the drinks table earlier that afternoon and tucked it into her coat. Wouldn’t do for somepony to discover that in the morning. She checked her watch - nine o’clock. Almost time for phase two.

"Don't you think you've had enough to drink?"

Twilight's ears pricked up. In her rush to pick up the name tag she’d taken her eyes off the one pony she was supposed to be watching. She turned to the source of the sound and saw a concerned Colgate wearing a deerstalker standing over Berry Punch, who was leaning unsteadily against the alcoholic drinks table. "Am fine," the purple mare slurred. "Jus' a lil' tipsy. Tha's all." She hiccuped, a goofy grin forming on her face. "Wanna drink, pretty pony?"

Twilight stepped towards the pair. "Why don't we get you home," she said to the drunken pony gently. "It's getting late. Let us help you."

Colgate smiled appreciatively. "Twilight's right. Let's get you tucked up in bed."

Berry Punch perked up at the mention of the word 'bed'. "I like the sound of that," she mumbled, taking a stumbling step forward. Colgate let her rest her head on her shoulder and the purple pony leaned against her in a more intimate way than she would have liked. "You take me to bed, pretty pony." Twilight stepped forward to help, but Berry Punch swiped angrily at her. "Back off! She's mine!"

Colgate frowned, then turned bright red. "I didn't mean-"

"Come on, Colgy." Berry Punch draped a front leg around her friend's neck. "Let's go to bed. I've got some great-” she hiccuped “-great tricks I can show you."

The blue pony smiled awkwardly. "Well, um... uh..."

Twilight tried again to get closer. "You sure you don't need any help?"

"I guess... not." Colgate shifted and took a step forward. "Just so long as we get her home before she makes a mess," she added in a quieter voice. "Thanks anyway, Twilight."

Twilight waved as the pair walked away, then cursed. She’d been depending on Berry Punch’s inevitable collapse as her excuse for leaving the party early. Sneaking back in would be easy, but it would look suspicious if she simply disappeared for no clear reason. Come on, Twilight, think! She looked around desperately. Time was running out. Nopony will notice if I’m only gone for a minute. What I need is some kind of distrac-

“Ninja time!”

Twilight was momentarily blinded as a mysterious flash lit up the room, then plunged it into darkness. When the light came back up a makeshift stage had appeared in the centre of the room, upon which Pinkie Pie in full ninja garb was flailing wildly at imaginary opponents. “Are you ponies ready to ninja party?” she screamed.

That’ll do.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh...

From the valleys of Neighpon

when something weird is going on

through smoke and shade and history

there’s ninjas creeping stealthily!

In the darkness of the night

these shadow-ponies set things right!

Ninjas take on any quest

they can’t be beat, they are the best!

Ninjas! Trained in ninjitsu!

Ninjas! They’re coming for you!

Ninjas! The greatest ponies!

Ninjas! Ninjas ninjas ninjas!”

Pinkie Pie spun around wildly, now wielding a broomstick like a sword. Tiny crystals on the stage glimmered around her, throwing images of black-clad figures into the air. She began to sing more quickly, narrating a story that the tiny figures acted out around her.

“A hundred billion years ago when dino-ponies roamed

the ninja king rose from the swamp and took the ninja throne!

He taught the world ninjitsu and he brought peace to Neighpon

and then he invented cupcakes so his legacy lives on!

With fire breath and super strength he fought the samurai

and everypony’s minds were blown right up into the sky!

He cut them up, he cut them down, he took them by surprise!

So much awesome can’t be seen by anypony’s eyes!

Now ninjas live throughout Neighpon but can’t ever be seen

unless there comes a monster beast or evil space machine!

And as for the great ninja king, he’s with us here to stay

he flew around the world ten times and landed yesterday! Hey!

Ninjas! Trained in ninjitsu!

Ninjas! They’re coming for you!

Ninjas! The greatest ponies!

Ninjas! Ninjas ninjas ninjas!”

Ninjas fly with wings of cloud!

The world moves when they speak aloud!

Their eyes can shoot out laser beams!

They are the ultimate fighting teams!

When lotus blossoms fill the air

your enemies had best beware!

They’ll launch attacks you can’t evade

with shurikens and smoke grenades!”

At this Pinkie Pie drew out a black ball from a hidden pocket in her outfit and raised it high in one hoof. Sensing her chance, Twilight concentrated on the tiny orb and sent out a pulse of magic as the black-clad pony threw it downwards. Instead of the pony-sized puff Pinkie had expected it burst violently into thick black smoke, filling the large room in an instant. Ponies coughed and choked on the thick air until the assembled pegasi were able to create an updraft and blow most of the smoke out of the higher windows. In the rush nopony noticed that Twilight Sparkle had disappeared.

Pinkie Pie grinned sheepishly. “Um... whoops.” Without hesitation she launched back into her song.

“Pirates, robots, dragons too!

Giant moths and glowing goo!

Tentacles and things that crawl,

ninjas will defeat them all!

Ninjas! Trained in ninjitsu!

Ninjas! They’re coming for you!

Ninjas! The greatest ponies!

Ninjas! Ninjas ninjas ninjas!”

---

Outside, Twilight Sparkle paced in irritation, glancing periodically at her watch. “Come on, come on...” She stared out at the road leading in the direction of Canterlot, peering into the darkness for any approaching figures. “He can’t be late, he can’t be...”

There was a bright flash and a burst of energy that nearly bowled Twilight over and a fat blue pegasus materialized in the middle of the square, looking dazed. She righted herself and cursed, praying that Pinkie Pie’s continuing singing had covered up the sound of his arrival. Long-distance teleporting? Shoot. Canterlot’s not that far. I was sure I’d left enough time for him to run here on his own. She observed the rolls of fat that jiggled on the pony’s face as he looked around. Then again...

Storm Seeker looked up joyfully at Twilight’s approach. He pulled an envelope from underneath his wing and dropped it to the ground in front of him. “I need to take this to my team,” he said breathlessly, a slightly manic look in his eyes. “I think they might be in danger. I have to warn them.”

“I’ll take it to them,” Twilight said reassuringly. “You’ve done a good job. You can go now.” The pegasus stood still for a moment, as if trying to force words out, then abruptly turned and ran in the direction of the Everfree Forest. “Goodbye...” Twilight pulled the name tag from her pocket. “Storm Seeker. You did your job well. I’m sure all your agents are very proud of you.” She tugged the flimsy plastic covering away from the paper beneath, unfolding it to reveal the instructions she’d written in advance.

Storm Seeker
Manticore attack.
At 21:05, arrives in Ponyville with files showing the names and faces of all the EBI agents stationed in Ponyville. He gives these files to the first purple unicorn he sees, then runs to the Everfree Forest and is eaten by a wild manticore.

This particular tag had been made from a page from the Death Note. When Ray Painter had filled the empty space with a name, he’d unknowingly activated the Note and signed away his boss’s life. Twilight smiled faintly as the chubby pegasus vanished into the distance. It left a funny feeling in her gut, one that she tried not to dwell on. She then opened the envelope in front of her and pulled out a small stack of papers, retreating into the shadows of the town hall as she did so.

The picture of a brightly-coloured pegasus smiled up at her from the first page. “I’m sorry, my little ponies.” Twilight stroked the stack of paper gently with her hoof. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I know you’re just doing your jobs, trying to protect Equestria as best you know how. But right now, Equestria needs me more than it needs you. As long as you keep hunting me, the same powers that let ponies like Hoops and Sharp Star go free will continue to rule.” She sighed, drawing the Life Note and a pencil from inside her coat. “In my perfect world, there will be no need for the EBI. Do you know why?” She threw the notebook open with a grim finality and began to write. “Because when I’m done, there will be no more crime.”

When she was finished, Twilight folded up the papers inside the Life Note and closed it. She closed her eyes and, in a flash of light, reappeared inside the town hall.

---

An hour later, Rarity found herself walking the streets of Ponyville alone, utterly miserable. Ray Painter hadn’t been at the party after all, nor anywhere else she’d looked. She was tired, desperately hungry, and her dress was all but ruined from the dust on the roads. After much aimless wandering she’d ended up back at the steps of Pinkie Pie’s party, which was still going strong. She glanced at a nearby clock tower; it was nearly ten. Sweetie Belle would be wondering where she was. Rarity sighed. Time to go home. There was nothing more she could do but hope.

Aurora Flash, heart attack.
Dies painlessly at exactly 22:00.

Ray Painter had had enough. It was nearly ten o’clock. Close enough, he decided. After all, following a villain’s directions to the letter only ever got ponies killed. There was no way Kira was still watching him, and an extra minute outside could make all the difference. He rose and stretched, legs popping after nearly two hours of sitting still. He pushed chairs aside and made his way out of the cafe to the dark streets outside.

Auster Craft, heart attack.
Dies painlessly at exactly 22:00.

Rarity paused. Just on the edge of hearing, a door creaked open behind her. She turned her head, scarcely daring to let herself hope. And yet...

There! That grey shirt she’d made just for him, those glasses, and for some reason a cape but that wasn’t important right now. “Alias?” Rarity breathed, her eyes widening. In a great rush all the fear and worry she’d been holding onto all evening left her and she ran, unheeding of her surroundings. “Alias!”

Colt Phelps, heart attack.
Dies painlessly at exactly 22:00.

“Alias!”

Ray Painter stopped, lifting his sunglasses to peer through the darkness. A familiar white unicorn in an elaborate dress was racing towards him with a smile as bright as the sun. “Rarity?”

Goldeneye, heart attack.
Dies painlessly at exactly 22:00.

It didn’t matter that he’d missed dinner. It didn’t matter that they lived in different worlds. It didn’t matter that he always wore those stupid shades, even at night. Rarity closed the distance between them at a gallop, rising to embrace her stallion. He was safe. They were together. That was what mattered.

Searchlight, heart attack.
Dies painlessly at exactly 22:00.

The agent smiled as the mare of his dreams rose up to throw her forelegs around him, the woes of the night momentarily forgotten. Warmness filled his heart. Somewhere in the distance, a clock chimed the hour.

Ray Painter, heart attack.
At 20:00, enters Ponyville’s town hall wearing his grey polo shirt and accepts the costume he is given. He speaks only when spoken to and answers all questions truthfully. When instructed, he leaves the party and waits in the cafe across the street. Dies painlessly at exactly 22:00.

He closed his eyes and noiselessly tumbled to the ground. Rarity’s hooves met empty air.

Time froze. “Ray?”

From inside the town hall there was a crash, followed by another, as two pegasi fell from the air and landed hard on the floor below. The music stopped. Screams started. Rarity didn’t hear them. She knelt down and gently nuzzled her stallion. “Ray, get up.”

The body lay, still and unmoving.

Rarity choked. She couldn’t breathe. All the fear she’d felt before returned, multiplied a thousandfold. “Ray...?” She held his face in her hooves and peppered him with tiny, desperate kisses. “No. No no no. You can’t go. We still have so much to do together.” His face was serene, eyes shut, frozen in a look of quiet contentment. “I’ve been making a suit for you to try on, and Sweetie Belle wants to meet you again, and... and...” She gave an unladylike sniff, tears clogging her throat. “And when all this is over, we’re going to find a nice little home in the country, just you and me, and have more children than we can count. R-remember?” No response. “Remember when I told you that? I meant it, every time. I love you, Ray Painter.” Her breath came in harsh, wheezing gasps, her body finally giving in to sobbing. “You can’t d-die!” she screamed, beating at his chest. “You can’t leave me! You promised! You p-p-promised!”

Rarity threw back her head and howled, a wordless scream that joined the other cries and wails echoing through the night. As frightened ponies burst out onto the street, the white mare was swept away in a tide of terrified bodies.

---

Colgate peered nervously through the small window in the door to her office. The police station was almost full, with nearly as many ponies crammed into it as the first day they'd been open. They sounded scared and angry. The blue pony gulped, trying to calm herself down. "I don't know if I can do this," she whispered.

Spike nudged her leg. "I'm with you, Colgate," he said reassuringly. On her other side Sideline nodded, but as usual didn't say anything.

Colgate sighed. "Okay. Best we just get this over with."

The door swung open. All eyes turned to the trio as they walked out of the office. Colgate looked pale, and her voice cracked as she spoke. "A-attention, everypony." The room fell silent. "As you all know, last night several ponies died suddenly during Pinkie Pie's party. Nurse Redheart has confirmed that they all suffered heart attacks around the same time. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the work of Kira. One of them..." Colgate coughed, trying to cover up the trembling in her voice. "One of the bodies was identified as Hoops, a recent immigrant from Cloudsdale. We weren't able to confirm the identities of the others until just now." She held up a scroll bearing the dark blue seal of Princess Luna. "It turns out Pinkie Pie wasn’t joking about them working for the government. The six other ponies who died at the party were agents of the EBI, sent here from Canterlot to investigate possible suspects in the Kira investigation."

Gasps sprung up around the room as the reality of this sunk in. "So that's why I saw one of them following me!" a young mare near the front cried out, opening the floodgates for a tide of angry and fearful shouting.

"But they all died! All of them!"

"What about the Ponyville police? Don't they trust us?"

"None of us are safe now!"

"The horror! The horror!"

Colgate held up a hoof to call for silence, but it did little to stem the outbursts.

“Why didn’t they tell us?”

“Nopony can stand against Kira!”

"If Canterlot can't protect us, who will?"

A piercing whistle filled the air, finally silencing the assembled ponies. To everypony's surprise the sound came from Sideline, who bowed apologetically and gestured to Colgate. The blue pony blinked a few times, then turned back to face the crowd. "Now, I'm sure we all have a lot of questions. We're all angry and upset that the EBI went behind our backs about this, and it's frightening to see what's happened to them. I'm not going to say don't be scared. Even I'm scared right now. But we need to face the reality of the situation, so that's what this meeting is about.

"The fact is, Kira's no longer just targeting criminals. Anypony who tries to find him, anypony who stands in his way, is now at risk. Unfortunately, that includes us." Colgate looked around the room. Nopony seemed able to look her in the eye. "But I’m not giving up!” she said, her voice growing stronger. “It doesn’t matter what anypony thought about Kira before today, there’s no agreeing with him now. This is not justice. This is murder, the murder of six good ponies who protected the innocent and served Equestria well, and I would prefer to die than stand idly by and let their killer walk free. And despite the danger, I hope that some of you will join me in this quest.”

The police pony took a deep breath, hoping that her words were having an effect. “I don't make this request lightly. Think of your family, your friends, the ponies who would miss you if you were gone. If you leave now, nopony will think any less of you because of it. But if you are willing to lay down your life for this cause, stay, and we’ll bring Kira to justice together. I leave the decision to you."

There was silence in the police station for about twenty seconds. Ponies stood quietly, weighing their options. Then one mare sighed, gave a small nod to Colgate, and quickly made her way out of the building. Another pony followed, then another. Colgate bowed her head and closed her eyes. The volume of hoofsteps grew louder and louder, and a minute passed as ponies filed their way out of the building in silence. When all was quiet again she opened her eyes and groaned inwardly. Where minutes ago nearly a hundred ponies had stood in front of her, she now had three.

"Great. Just great." Colgate made her way over to the remaining trio and sighed. "Rainbow Dash. Can't say I'm surprised."

"Hey yeah." The cyan filly puffed out her chest proudly. "I don't care about any danger. There's no way I'm letting my friends down, no matter what."

"That's fine. I guess there's no talking you out of it." Rainbow Dash nodded. Colgate moved on to the next pony. "Ditzy Doo. I'm surprised you're still here. Don't you have little Dinky to take care of?"

The mailmare tapped her head a few times, trying to get her eyes to focus. When they instead rolled even further in opposite directions she gave up and put on her most serious face. "Little muffin's with Carrot Top," she said, remembering to keep her sentences short so the words didn't get away from her. "I'm staying."

"Are you sure?" Colgate tried to smile. "She would be really sad if you were gone. You should go back to her."

Ditzy Doo opened her mouth, then slowly closed it. "I'm staying," she said simply.

"Well, if you're sure." The police pony sighed and moved on to the last pony. "And... I'm sorry, I don't know your name."

"Linky." She was a sky-blue earth pony with white hair that bunched up into curls right above her eyes. Her cutie mark was a pair of interlocking horseshoes. "It's okay. Nopony usually notices me." She blushed. "Since Green Grapes moved to Appleloosa I haven't really had much to... I mean..."

"It's okay." Colgate put a comforting hoof on her shoulder. "We're happy to have you." She turned back towards her office. "Unfortunately, this leaves us with an investigative team of four. Still, maybe it’s for the best. We couldn't do much when we had ten times this many ponies, so I seriously doubt Kira will see us as a threat now.”

"Hey." Spike tugged on Colgate's leg. "There's five of us. You've still got me, remember?"

Colgate smiled. "Thanks, Spike. But are you sure you want to stay, too? Won't Twilight miss you?"

"Nah, she'll be fine without me for awhile. She can run the library without my help. Besides, this is my royal duty, remember? I can't say no to a princess."

Colgate bit her lip. Maybe it hadn't occurred to the dragon that his life might be in danger, or he couldn’t fully appreciate the reality of it; for all his talk, he was still only a baby dragon after all. With a lifespan of at least several hundred years, death would seem like such an abstract, faraway concept. But, much as she hated to admit it, they needed him. Without instructions from the princesses they would be flying blind. "Okay," she admitted, "there's five of us. But that still leaves us-"

"Six, actually."

Everypony looked at each other, then one by one turned to Sideline. Rainbow Dash was the first to speak. "Did she just..."

"Talk? Oh my, no. That would be a terrible breach of her duties." The cloaked pony reached up inside her hood and pushed a small box on a chain into view. "No, my little ponies, I decided it was time for us to speak."

"I know that voice." Colgate took a step forward. "L? Is that you?"

"Correct."

“Really?” Spike’s eyes widened and he began to hyperventilate. “I’m such a big fan!”

The box chuckled, the distortion making the noise sound like crinkling paper. “Yes, yes, there will be time for that later. In the meantime, we have work to do.” L sighed. “Colgate’s assessment of the situation is accurate. Just by remaining here, you all are putting yourselves in danger. The fact that you’ve stayed regardless tells me that you have a strong sense of justice. I hope this means I can trust all of you to listen to me from now on.”

"Hey, wait a minute." Rainbow Dash frowned. “We're risking our lives out here, and you're sitting safe and snug in your little... wherever it is you're hiding! It's easy for you to boss us around when you're not sticking your own neck out for the team!"

Linky was aghast. "Rainbow! You can't talk like that to L!"

“Why not?” the cyan filly snapped. “I don’t care about your so-called reputation. How do we know you are who you say you are? You could be Kira, trying to trick us!”

A hush fell over the group. “I agree,” Ditzy Doo warbled. “Boxes are scary. Boxes aren't a face. It’s hard to trust ponies with boxes for faces.”

"She's right." Colgate said slowly, thinking hard. "L, this has gone on long enough. If you want us to trust you, if we're going to work together as a team, we need to speak to you in person. Why don't you come down to the station and meet everypony properly?"

There was a pause. "Very well," said the voice. “I have prepared for this possibility. The necessary arrangements have already been made. However, I will not be joining you in your little station. Instead, you will be coming to me. I think you will find my working space a little more... well-maintained than yours." The voice chuckled again. "Sideline, lead these ponies to the main entrance. Don't worry, they've all been cleared." The hooded pony nodded and motioned to the others to follow her. "L out. See you soon, my little ponies."

The box crackled into silence. Without waiting Sideline trotted outside, leaving the others in stunned silence. "Well," Colgate said, "I guess we're following her. We don't have much of a choice, otherwise."

"Can we trust her?" Ditzy Doo asked meekly. "Boxes are scary. I don't like the box."

Linky spoke up. “I trust L. Completely.” She followed Sideline outside. One by one, the others followed.

---

Dear Princess Celestia,

Last night I helped my good friend Pinkie Pie throw a special surprise party for all of Ponyville. We had a lot of fun putting it together and I’m very proud of how it turned out. I learned that sometimes things that seem like improvements can turn out to be disasters; when somepony you know does something challenging so well that they make it look easy, it’s easy to start taking them for granted. It’s important to appreciate the effort that goes into the things your friends do for you, and to trust that a more experienced pony knows what she’s doing. Unfortunately, that’s where my good news ends.

As you may have heard, towards the end of the party six strangers to Ponyville were killed by Kira. Today I learned that they were agents of the Equestrian Bureau of Investigations. Worse, I recognized one of them. I’ve seen him watching me when I went out over the past week. Were you having me followed, Princess? I’m hurt that you don’t seem to trust me.

Your student,

Twilight Sparkle