• Published 24th Mar 2015
  • 331 Views, 20 Comments

Manehattan Takes Rarity - NeuroSparkle



When the Pony Everypony Should Know is found shot in a back alley, it's up to Beckett and Castle to solve the case.

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Chapter 2

Manehattan’s afternoon traffic stalled investigations as much the bureaucracy concerning getting warrants. Although the 12th Precinct was located centrally, only ten blocks away from the apartment building where the ponycide division was headed, it took Beckett and Castle a good third of an hour to reach it, leaving Ryan and Esposito, who preferred their wings as a mean of locomotion instead, with a large head start on their canvassing. This way, the two pegasi already awaited their teammates in the lobby of the rather pretentious edifice.

“So, what’d you find out?” Beckett asked when Castle was done complaining about how their carriage had waited on one single red light for ten minutes.

“Uh, yeah… Doorpony confirmed that Rarity was here the day she was killed; she came around 4 PM as we thought and left two hours later, that’s still outside of our killzone. Shores didn’t leave the building at all that day, her assistant, who spends a lot of time in Shores’ apartment, didn’t leave until after 11. The two of them worked a lot, often late into the night, so there was nothing unusual about this particular day.”

“Nice work. Where is Shores now?”

“Upstairs. 9th floor. Assistant’s with her. We left them for you.”

“Good. While we’re doing that, make sure to get your hooves on the footage from the security cameras around the outside of the building, I want to know where Rarity went after she left Shores.”

“Copy that,” Esposito replied and dashed towards the door.

Beckett and Castle stepped inside the lift. The novelist couldn’t help admiring the sheer value of the adornments.

“I don’t believe it. This elevator’s interior design alone is probably more expensive than my entire flat,” Castle sighed.

“And you’re not the city’s poorest pony either,” Beckett added, eying the crystal ornaments along the walls, as they moved upwards. The door opened with a soft hiss.

“You think I can get Alexis an autograph?”

“Well, if she wants an autograph of a potential murder suspect,” Beckett replied, stepping out and trotting towards Shores’ door.

“I thought Ryan just told us it couldn’t have been her.”

“They could have bribed the doorpony or something. Nopony’s off my suspect list before more than one statement confirms their innocence.”

“That’s crazy,” Castle commented, quickening his trot to catch up with his partner, as she walked down the hallway. “Why would anypony of Shores’ calibre even bother murdering a designer? From Ponyville?”

“I don’t know, Castle. I’m sure you can come up with some theory to explain it,” she stated, ringing the bell to Shores’ apartment. The comparatively massive door shortly sheened in a yellow light, and, some clicking noises later, opened. A white unicorn mare with a mane of similar yellow colour to the shimmer on the door welcomed them with a smile brighter than the visual effects of her magic.

“Hello, my name is Window Gleam, what can I do for you?”

“Hello, I’m detective Beckett, EQPD, this is Richard Castle.” The grin on the mare’s face was replaced by an expression of uttermost wonder.
“We’d like to have a word with Miss Shores. I assume you’re her assistant?”

“Uh, yes, that’s me. Come in, of course.” The two investigators entered the suite, which—the two partners wouldn’t have deemed it possible—was furnished even more glamorously than the rest of the building. Castle saw Sapphire Shores resting on a luxurious cotton couch in what appeared to be a living room. A designer coffee table and an enormous flatscreen across the room caught the writer’s attention. The singer looked up from her notebook, evidently surprised to see the visitors.

“These are detective Beckett and Mister Castle. They’re from the police.”

“The police?”

“Yes,” Beckett took over. “We came to talk to you about the murder of Miss Rarity.”

Shores’ eyes widened. “Rarity is… dead?” The singer dropped her notebook entirely.

“Unfortunately, that’s true. We know that she was here the day of her murder and we have to know about the nature of her visit and what you had been talking about.”

“Oh, these are truly horrible news…” Shores murmured and stared down at the table while, as Castle assumed, she was gathering the confidence to proceed. “She already worked for me in the past; I was always deeply satisfied with her creations… I was planning another tour for next year and I needed some more costumes and stage designs, so I invited her to come to Manehattan and display some ideas for me. I was ready to sign a contract with her to seal the deal.”

“And did you?”

“Of course! Her presentation convinced me beyond any doubt. She was such a talented mare.”

“Could we see that paper, by any means?” Castle asked.

“I’m afraid that isn’t possible. She took it with her.”

“Did you notice something strange about how she behaved during her stay? Did she seem agitated?”

“Well, she was very nervous. How could she not be, this was the opportunity of a lifetime! But I can assure you Rarity left the building happier than ever before, with that paper in her purse. How tragic, that something so terrible happened on such a promising day.”

“Alright, thank you for your help. Make sure to contact us if you remember anything else.”

****

“I hate interviewing these show business ponies,” Beckett complained, while they were taking the elevator down. “How can you interrogate someone who lies for a living?”

“Well, this particular show business pony is a singer, in case that had escaped your notice,” Castle replied. „But I get your point.” As the door slid open, they found Ryan and Esposito waiting for them in the lobby.

“CSU called. They found the victim’s purse and valuables in a dumpster two blocks from crime scene. They’re being analysed at the lab right now. Techies are checking her cell, and we traced what hotel she was staying in.”

“Did the report mention a contract with Shores concerning decorations and costumes for her next tour in the purse?”

“Yeah, I suppose she told you about it?”

“Indeed she did. Guess that ultimately disproves money as a motive for the murder; her fee for this would have been high enough to pay back all her debts, and more.”

“That would explain why none of our previous suspects’ financials revealed anything resembling a payment to a professional killer,” Castle uttered his speculations.

“But that’s not it yet,” Ryan added. “I just asked around in that café across the street, the staff said they saw Rarity talking to another pony quarter past six the day she was killed.”

“You got a description out of them?”

“Even better,” the pegasus replied with a grin. “I got a name. It was a supermodel called Fleur De Lis that a waitress recognised. She didn’t notice anything suspicious, but as far as our timeline goes Fleur might very well be the last pony that Rarity talked to.”

“You guys go and pick her up, make sure not to forget Rarity’s hotel room, Castle and I will check on Lanie in the meantime.”

****

“So Lanie, found out anything?” Beckett spoke, as the two partners walked up to the operation table on which the victim’s corpse was located, mostly covered by a blanket. The turquoise unicorn was filling in some papers next to it.

“I found out something alright. The shots were fired from close range, but rather inaccurately. Cause of death was asphyxiation as the blood filled her lungs.”

“That definitely sounds like the MO of a mugging, except it contradicts the purse in the dumpster,” Castle noted.

“I haven’t finished yet, darling. Whoever did this, wanted you to believe that.” She pointed at several small bruises along the legs of the body. “These aren’t signs of struggle; they are purely self-inflicted, like she was banging herself against a wall. And this is where it gets interesting.” The unicorn levitated a paper with an enhanced image printed out on it over the corpse. „There was chloroform in her system that I determined her to inhale somewhere around half past five before her murder. Then, there’s this injection on her back. Corresponds with a non-lethal dose of ketamine in the blood.”

Beckett raised an eyebrow. “Are you telling us that she was sedated, held captive, sedated yet again with a different chemical, then brought somewhere else and shot?”

“That’s not even it yet.” Lanie used her magic again to pull up the cloth, exposing a reddened spot on Rarity’s shoulder. “This is a second injection, which I dated before the ketamine sedation. Guess what they drugged her with.”

“Heroin?”

“Speed?”

“Neither. Sodium thiopental.”

“Shut the front door,” Castle mumbled.

****

As it often happened during investigations like these, the group assembled around the murder board. After Beckett and Castle filled in their teammates on the information they received at the morgue it was their turn to listen.

“As for Fleur De Lis, you’re correct; she was definitely the last pony to talk to our victim. Apparently she’s from Canterlot and only came here for professional reasons, so they ran into each other by accident. The lack of entries in her calendar confirms this. Exchanged a little bit of news while drinking coffee, but that’s really it for the conversation. However, De Lis observed how after parting ways at the entrance she saw Rarity getting into a black carriage from afar.”

“That’s specific,” Castle commented sarcastically. “But, that corresponds with what this thug we interviewed earlier witnessed, it’s the carriage she was brought to our crime scene in.”

“Exactly. Unfortunately, black is easily the most common colour for those things around here.”

“Actually, that might not be entirely true. I was looking to change the paintjob on mine and apparently, white is much more popular this season, because… you… don’t care, right? I’ll just… be quiet,” he said, trailing off.

“Either way,” Ryan continued, with his judging stare still fixed on the writer, „there’s no security footage of that street so De Lis’ word is really all that we’ve got.”

“We have literally zero leads on this…” Beckett stated, shaking her head, still staring at the photograph of Rarity in the middle of the whiteboard and the text surrounding it.

“The hotel room was an absolute bust, too. There was nothing out of the ordinary,” Esposito complained. “Castle, we could use one of your stories now.”

“I…” Castle hesitated for a moment. “I got nothin’. At this point, the murder doesn’t seem related to either her job or her money, which means she must have been involved in something else that got her killed, and until we find out whatever that was, we can’t proceed.”

“Are there still any CSU or tech reports pending?”

“I think the purse that they found is still at the lab, I doubt that is going to be any help though,” Ryan replied. Before anyone could answer, the door to Montgomery’s office opened. The dark blue unicorn stepped outside, looking surprisingly worried, and, after spotting his ponycide division, walked towards them.

“Detectives, Castle. I just got a call.”

“From the mayor?” Castle inquired.

“Come on bro, he wouldn’t be looking like that if it was just the mayor,” Esposito replied in Montgomery’s stead.

“True.”

“No, Castle,” the Captain finally replied, having waited for the rest of the team to settle down. “It wasn’t the mayor. This call came straight from the Princess’ office in Canterlot. She wants this case solved; it is a matter of national security. I’m not sure how, but this mare’s death will bear great consequences for all of Equestria, and the least we can do is find out why she had to die.”

“That gives us a whole new lead for the investi—”

“Forget about it, Castle,” Montgomery interrupted. „I got clear instructions not to meddle in that. So…” He lowered his voice. “Do what you have to, detectives. But if the Princess has reasons to think that we shouldn’t be interfering with this, it’s probably something serious. Try to remain conventional while you can.”

A gentle notification noise coming from Ryan's computer interrupted the captain; the Pegasus instantly leaped over to his desk and, after having glanced at the first paragraph of the mail he received, looked up at his fellow investigators, raising his brow.

“It's the report on the purse. Looks like I've been wrong; this is rather interesting.” He noticed the others' questioning expressions and continued: “They found cocaine residue on the purse.”

“Looks like our victim was involved in something mundane after all,” Beckett commented.

“Alright, colts. Let's find out how this coke got on her purse and see if that opens a new view on the information we had before. We need to solve this case.” Montgomery made himself clear before heading back to his usual working place. When he was gone, Castle shook his head.

“That still leaves us with no suspects, and opens up new questions rather than answering any. I still think we should have a look at why Rarity was so relevant on a national leve—”

“Montgomery said ‘no’, Castle,” Esposito cut him off. “There's enough we have to worry about without having that on our hooves either.”

“This reminds me...” Ryan mumbled, still looking at the report that he had already printed out. “They say here the cocaine sample matches others already in the system that we had captured from dealers all over the East Coast. It's imported, that's for sure. I think I know with whom this case might be connected with.” This statement caught the others' attention. “Look, back when I was in Narcotics, we always had problems with this drug network resident in Manehattan who we usually called the East Cartel. They only ever imported their substances and we never caught anypony other than some lower-end dealers. Funny thing is, not even resident gangs know who these guys are. We tried everything, trust me. However, judging by the variety of locations that their drugs ended up in, we assumed that they distributed cocaine, heroin and more in all major East coast cities. I'm sure that however that powder ended up on Rarity's purse, it came either from a dealer or a distributer. Now I'm not sure which one would be the more fortunate case.”

“But that doesn't make any sense, none of the previous suspects or other ponies involved ever had any charges with heavy drugs like that,” Castle noted, uttering his doubts. “Maybe Rarity just contacted the stuff wherever she went before her visit at Shores’,” he speculated. The rest of the team withheld their enthusiasm concerning this idea.

“Castle, care telling us why you're so opposed to the fact that the coke might have had something to do with her murder?” Ryan asked the question they all seemed to have on their mind.

“Oh, he just wants us to discard the possibility so he can cling to the governmental conspiracy theory that he just came up with,” Beckett suggested, before the Castle could say a word to his defence.

“That's—not... true,” the writer started, raising a hoof to underline his objection, however he quickly trailed off. “Okay, partially. But you have to admit that would be significantly more interesting than some lame dealer shooting her.”

“Can't be too lame of a dealer, if he has truth serum lying around,” Esposito noted.

“Listen, how about we call it a night?” Beckett proposed. “We'll recheck everyone on possible connections with the cartel in the morning. Maybe Lanie can trace the drugs in Rarity’s system back to some shipments, I’ll contact Narcotics and Customs for some help. In the meantime, you guys have some R&R. As for me, I have some plans for the evening.” Beckett didn’t even give Castle an opportunity to indirectly express his displeasure before she walked off to the elevator.

“Don't, Castle,” Esposito advised, symbolically holding the writer back with one hoof. “Gotta be discreet.”

“Oh, and you're really the one to tell me. I'm...“ The writer paused and sighed. “I'll just get going now. I have deadlines and all that.”

“You go do that,” Ryan encouraged him, nodding despite the notion that his writing wasn’t what Castle was truly worrying about. Silently cursing his mother's acting class, his publisher and especially this Josh character Beckett had been seeing lately Castle made his way home.

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