• Published 27th Dec 2014
  • 1,300 Views, 46 Comments

Moonwing - Samey90

A filly gets murdered in the bat pony district of Canterlot. Scootaloo and Archer take the case.

  • ...

Elephants in a Room

Canterlot. It’s not Manehattan or Detrot, where poor, little ponies commit their little crimes. Not Trottingham where cultured gentleponies commit sophisticated atrocities. No, Canterlot is not like that. Canterlot has money. Canterlot has big ponies.

In Canterlot, crimes are so big, they go unnoticed. Ponies can’t comprehend them; just like an ant can’t comprehend a pony passing by.

But somepony made a mistake. Small crime; a broken body on the pavement. Yet another scar on the image of the town. Why so close to the dungeon? Needs further investigation. A scar. Every scar has a history. Wing – a cornered changeling warrior. Hind legs – kids in the worst gutter of Flankfurt. Neck – an iron collar. Back – my owner. Slit his throat. Flew away. Eye – a bottleneck in a bar. Forty five years since I crawled out of the gutter. Not as fast as before.

Schwalbe closed her notebook and hid it and a pen in a small bag under her wing. She stretched her hooves and lowered her head entering a cave. The darkness didn’t bother her. She gave out a quiet screech; her ears perked up, catching the faintest echoes. Schwalbe smirked and delved into the cave, avoiding the stalactites with ease. Finally, she found a place where the ceiling was lowering. She crawled inside.

“Hello,” she said, trying to make her voice sound as friendly as possible. “Come with me...”

“Archer?” Scootaloo asked, pushing the door open. The flat seemed to be empty, but snoring coming from the bedroom was a clear indication that her cousin was home. For a moment, Scootaloo wondered whether she should wake her up. Back in the old flat they’d shared, waking Archer up could end up in a crossbow bolt or a few bullets to the face. But now, Archer changed or, as Charge was saying, matured. She kept her stash of weapons in a safe and it was unlikely that she had one lying on her nightstand.

Scootaloo trotted to the bedroom. The large bed was in a mess; Archer was lying on her belly across it, still tangled in the warm outfit she was wearing under her armour. She turned on her back when Scootaloo called her name.

“Archer!” Scootaloo groaned.

“You have the right to remain silent...” Archer muttered in her sleep.

Scootaloo rolled her eyes, approached her cousin, and patted her mane. Archer’s eyes shot open; she focused on Scootaloo and sighed. “You’re not Button,” she muttered. “Get the fuck out.”

“We need to talk,” Scootaloo said.

“Can we do that later?” Archer covered her head with a pillow.

“Charge wants to transfer you.” Scootaloo decided that only a short, sharp shock was going to wake her cousin up.

“Fuck him,” Archer replied. “I screwed up. After I left, I went to Cloud Kicker...” She told Scootaloo about her unfortunate meeting with the pegasus mare.

“You screwed up, indeed,” Scootaloo muttered. “And you wasted time. She didn’t do that.”

“Well, I kinda know that now...” Archer said. “I’m hopeless, huh? Getting crazy over a filly I didn’t even know...”

“A bit,” Scootaloo replied. “Anyway, the case is almost closed. That Cracker, Biscuit, or whatever his name was did that.”

“Good,” Archer said and yawned. “Can you let me sleep now? I guess you’re tired too... We’ll talk about Charge later, okay?”

“Okay,” Scootaloo replied. “See you later, Archer.”

Archer only snored.

Even though Archer had moved out to Button, Scootaloo still lived in their old flat. The collection of crossbows and firearms disappeared from the walls, replaced by Wonderbolts posters, blueprints of various machines, and clippings from various newspapers on a cork board.

Scootaloo liked that place. Diamond Tiara was still her neighbour; Scootaloo didn’t know much about jewellery, but it seemed that her earrings and necklaces were all the vogue. Scootaloo herself owned a pair of earrings, given to her by Diamond as a birthday gift.

Scootaloo was just opening the door of her flat, when she heard hoofsteps behind her. Quickly, she turned around and saw Diamond Tiara walking out of her flat with her saddlebags on.

“Hello,” Scootaloo said. “How are you?”

“Fine,” Diamond Tiara replied. “Night shift?”

“Yeah,” Scootaloo muttered, yawning. Archer was right – it was time to go to sleep. “Kinda hard night, you know...”

“Why?” Diamond Tiara asked. “What happened?”

“Umm...” Scootaloo suddenly thought that it wasn’t the best idea to tell Diamond Tiara about this. Sure, Diamond was okay, save from a few occasions, especially during winters, when she’d come to Scootaloo being on the edge of an anxiety attack. “The case is still going, so I shouldn’t really tell you about that.”

“Oh, okay,” Diamond Tiara said, shifting her legs nervously. She leaned closer to Scootaloo and whispered, “You know, I had a strange dream tonight. I don’t remember it exactly, but you and Silver Spoon were in it. When I woke up, I thought I was going to have an attack...”

“Maybe you should talk to your doctor?” Scootaloo asked, looking at Diamond Tiara unsurely. She wasn’t afraid that Diamond was going to kill her, but it was always hard for her to see her being afraid of something she couldn’t see and couldn’t even name.

“I’m going to,” Diamond Tiara replied. “Right after meeting Octavia.”

“Good,” Scootaloo said. “If you need something, I’ll be here for the whole day.”

“Great.” Diamond Tiara smiled. “See you later.” She walked down the stairs.

Scootaloo looked at Diamond Tiara till she disappeared and entered her flat. The only things she could think of were shower and her bed.

When Diamond Tiara approached the large house not far away from the princess Celestia’s castle, she heard the sound of violin coming from the back of the garden. The melody wasn’t perfect; there were occasional mistakes and it seemed that the violin was slightly out of tune, but the melody sounded nice and Diamond Tiara caught herself humming the melody along.

She stood by the gate and rang the doorbell. At first there was no reaction, but after a while, a navy blue unicorn mare trotted out of the house and let Diamond Tiara in.

“Ms. Octavia is tryin’ out the dresses,” the mare explained. Diamond Tiara looked at her, surprised. The last thing she expected in such a house was a pony speaking like a thug from Manehattan... Or like Babs Seed. “My name is Nightcap and I’m Ms. Pommel’s assistant.”

“I’m Diamond Tiara,” Diamond Tiara replied. She noticed that Nightcap winced slightly upon hearing that name. She’d gotten used to that reaction and it didn’t bother her anymore, but still it made her feel a chill running down her spine. “I brought a necklace for Ms. Octavia’s daughter.”

“Let’s go to her then,” Nightcap said. “Dresses, necklaces... Is that some kinda party goin’ on?”

“Cute-ceanera, I think,” Diamond Tiara replied, following Nightcap inside the house. “Ms. Octavia is quite popular among the Canterlot elites, so there’ll be everyone there...”

“Yeah, she mentioned that to Coco,” Nightcap said. “I... umm... I have to go back upstairs. Octavia will come to ya soon, I think...” She quickly trotted away.

Diamond Tiara sat on the couch and looked at the glass door leading to the garden. She saw a little unicorn filly on the other side of it. She had a grey coat, like her mother, and long, chocolate-coloured mane. She was about four and she was levitating a violin and a bow, playing noisily. Diamond Tiara approached the door and pushed them open.

“Hello,” she said.

The violin fell from the filly’s grasp. She looked at Diamond Tiara with her big, mulberry eyes and froze.

“I’ve heard you playing,” Diamond Tiara said. “You’re pretty good.”

The filly didn’t reply, picking up the violin clumsily with her hooves. Diamond Tiara backpedalled, deciding not to stress her further. When she went back to the living room, she saw Octavia standing by the stairs and watching her.

“Good morning,” Diamond Tiara said, blushing. The filly ran past her and hugged her mother’s hoof. “I, umm... I didn’t mean to scare her...”

“Don’t worry,” Octavia replied, patting her daughter’s mane. The filly looked at Diamond Tiara and darted upstairs. Diamond Tiara could still see her eyes watching her from there. “Heart Beat doesn’t talk to strangers, even to her teachers in the kindergarten.” She sighed. “I’m a bit worried, but my mother says that I used to be the same.”

“Yeah...” Diamond Tiara muttered. “Must be hard for her, so many ponies here...” She opened her saddlebags. “I have that necklace for her. I hope I got the cutie mark right...”

“It’s perfect,” Octavia said, looking at the necklace. “And actually, I wouldn’t make it such a big party, but unfortunately this is what all those ponies expect me to do...” She shook her head. “That’s how Canterlot works. You either are in the centre of attention or you don’t exist. But, of course, you don’t like being in the centre of attention, do you?”

Diamond Tiara thought of Nightcap’s reaction when she’d introduced herself. “No,” she replied. “It was fifteen years ago, but some ponies still remember what I did... Some think it’s cool that I’m famous... But that’s not the fame I want. I’d rather keep it my secret.”

“Well, we all have secrets,” Octavia said. “Not many ponies remember that before meeting my husband I was in a relationship with two DJs.” She took a piece of paper from the coffee table. “A list of guests,” she explained. “Let’s see... Coco Pommel’s assistant used to be a prostitute. She’s a good girl. Coco told me that some of her other workers don’t like her because she married a donkey and has a child called...” She sighed. “... Vinyl. But the Canterlot elites also have their secrets. Upper Crust... Her husband was cheating on her with underage fillies and making business with mafia... No wonder he was killed... Black Marble...”

“I think I get the idea.” Diamond Tiara said. “Guess it’s hard to move in a room with so many elephants... My friend, Silver Spoon, and her mother...” She paused. Even though Silver Spoon died fifteen years before, it just didn’t feel right to talk about her secrets.

“Exactly.” Octavia nodded. “No one is without a fault; without a secret. For example, my husband still can’t really get over the things he saw in the dungeons.”

“I’ve read his story,” Diamond Tiara said. “But I wonder...” She lowered her head. “Why look for monsters underground when there are lots of them here?”

Octavia didn’t reply. Instead, she looked at the door – Dr. Stable just came back from work. He walked to them and kissed Octavia’s cheek. “Hello, Diamond,” he said, tossing his saddlebags in the corner. “How are you?”

“Great,” Diamond Tiara replied, smiling. “But I have to go soon – Dr. Ink Blot is waiting for me.”

“I saw her in the morning,” Dr. Stable replied, yawning. Diamond Tiara thought that, just like Scootaloo, he was coming back from a night shift. “I guess she’ll be glad to see you.” He was smiling, but Diamond Tiara noticed something about him; maybe it was the way he looked at the stairs or rather at his daughter sitting there and watching them?

“He’s hiding something,” Silver Spoon observed, appearing next to Diamond Tiara suddenly. “He and Scootaloo.”

I know, Diamond Tiara thought. Do you think it’s about me?

“You’d better go to the doctor,” Silver Spoon replied. “You start to think it’s all about you...”

Even though Scootaloo liked to cook, she often ate lunch in a small bar next to the editorial office of Canterlot Times. It was partially connected to the fact that after night shifts she wasn’t in a mood for cooking and, despite a lot of enthusiasm, she’d never gotten past the stage of pasta with various sauces. Not to mention that Shady Daze, a colt she’d first met during her Gabby Gums days, was now working for Times and often ate lunch in the same bar.

Scootaloo was now sitting at the table, pouring a bottle of tabasco sauce all over her plate and looking into Shady Daze’s eyes. “Are you sure you’re gonna eat this?” he asked.

“Sure,” Scootaloo replied. “When my cousin cooked food, hot sauce was the only way to survive eating it.”

Shady Daze nodded. “Tough night?”

“Kinda. How do you know?” Scootaloo asked, taking a spoonful of her food. She had a hard time guessing the original taste under the layer of tabasco, which meant that she achieved her goal.

“This stuff has more carbohydrates than you usually like,” Shady Daze replied. “Also, you added two spoons of sugar to your coffee.”

Scootaloo gave him a disapproving look. “You should’ve become a guard,” she said. “What else did you deduce?”

“Oh come on,” Shady Daze said. “I work for a newspaper. That’s where news about dead fillies go.”

Scootaloo sighed. “I won’t tell you anything about her. We have a suspect and we’re looking for her parents. Case closed.”

“I wasn’t going to ask.” Shady took a sip of his coffee. “I just thought, when I saw you, that you and Archer were probably unlucky enough to find her.”

“‘Unlucky’ is the right word,” Scootaloo muttered. “Archer completely fell apart.” She took a sip of her coffee, trying to gather her thoughts. “Well, you know Archer. Normally she’s all in for pranks and stuff, but upset her and suddenly there are lots of guts on the floor... And lots of crying later.”

Shady winced. “I’m eating here, you know... But, well, guts on the floor is an easy way to get to the front page.”

“Exactly,” Scootaloo replied. “I think we both could use a break.”

“Well...” Shady blushed. “I have a free evening...”

Scootaloo smirked. “Are you suggesting something?”

“Umm... I mean, you and me... We could...”

“Sure,” Scootaloo replied. “I guess we can skip the stammering part and get to that part where we think where to go and what to do, okay?”

“If you say so.” Shady’s face wore a deep shade of crimson. “I know a Neighponese restaurant I really wanted to check out. And I’ve heard that there’s a new Spidermare in the cinema...”

Spidermare, you say?” Scootaloo smirked. “We’re not sixteen, Shady...” She waited a few seconds, watching the changing emotions on his face. “But it doesn’t mean that I won’t enjoy it.” She laughed.

Shady Daze also laughed nervously, trying to cover his previous embarrassment. “So, six o’clock in front of the cinema?” he asked.

“Sure,” Scootaloo replied.

Scootaloo turned in her bed. She looked around the dark room. The fluorescent hands of a clock on her nightstand were showing quarter past two. Shady Daze muttered something in his sleep.

That went further than I expected... Scootaloo thought, getting up. The Neighponese food as well as a bottle of wine helped them making the evening and night great, but now Scootaloo couldn’t get back to sleep. She untangled herself from the rumpled sheets, stretched her wings, and put on her gown.

She left her bedroom and walked through the living room; light of the moon was casting eerie shadows on the walls. Scootaloo trotted to the window and opened it, inhaling the cold air. There was nopony in sight; empty streets were well-lit, but it seemed that nopony was wandering through them. Scootaloo looked for the guards, but they were apparently hiding right close to the walls, out of the wind. She started to wonder who had a night shift that day.

“Hello,” she heard a raspy voice above her. She looked up and saw a pair of yellow eyes. “Glad to see you awake.”

“Schwalbe!” Scootaloo hissed, looking at the door of her bedroom. “What are you doing here? And I have a door, you know?”

“Sorry,” Schwalbe muttered. “Would’ve been earlier, but heard you had a guest...” She smirked, showing her fangs.

“You... You heard me?” Scootaloo suddenly felt hot.

Schwalbe nodded. “Hard not to. Don’t worry, Diamond Tiara sleeps. Didn’t hear anything.”

“Thank you,” Scootaloo deadpanned. “What do you want?”

“Brought you a guest,” Schwalbe replied and gave out a short screech. Scootaloo watched, stunned, as a small, maybe five years old, bat filly flew through the window to her living room and stood on the floor. Schwalbe followed her inside and patted her shoulder.

The filly turned towards her and squeaked quietly. Scootaloo noticed that her purple mane was cut by somepony who had no idea how to do that – it was short, unkempt, and uneven. Maybe it was to get rid of lice, Scootaloo thought.

Scootaloo looked at the filly unsurely and froze, seeing her eyes. The irises were light yellow, almost white, and slit pupils were narrow, despite the darkness. While walking through the room, the filly was making barely audible squeaks, moving her ears constantly.

“Blind since birth,” Schwalbe explained. “Not important. Say hello to auntie Scootaloo, kid.”

The filly stood in attention and gave out a louder screech. Her ears perked up and she turned to Scootaloo. “Hello,” she said in a strange voice, like somepony who’d read about speaking in some book, but never actually bothered to listen how ponies speak, or try that skill themselves. “My name is Stellar Dust.”

Scootaloo saw that Stellar Dust shuddered and a tear flown from her eye, running down her face. “What happened, Stellar Dust?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Stellar Dust replied. “But something happened to Moonwing...”