• Published 24th Mar 2015
  • 326 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 5

The next day Castle took the liberty of turning up at an (in his opinion) more reasonable time, despite the fact the he was rather intrigued by how the case was developing. As always he provided steaming hot coffee for Beckett and himself before inquiring about possible progress on the case.

“Well, Ryan is still running out mystery date in Fillydelphian databases, I suppose he’ll start with Manehattan’s rather soon. Esposito is on the line with Ponyville trying to find out anything about Flanks and Crumbles’ visit last year and I’m just going through CSU reports to see if we missed anything,” Beckett replied. “And, actually, you can help me with that,” she said, shoving a couple of folders towards Castle’s side of the desk. The writer creased his face into a frown.

“You wouldn’t want to waste my talent on this, would you?”

“It’s more useful that you telling us ghosts stories, that’s for sure.”

“I haven’t done that in days,” Castle retorted.

“Yeah, because this case hasn’t given you an opportunity.” He gasped theatrically.

“You doubt my helpfulness. That is seriously offending me right now.” A blaring noise from behind made the two partners cringe. The writer turned his head to see Ryan standing in front of his table, his stool lying next to him on the floor and some paper slowly floating the floor. Esposito was chuckling behind his computer. The white Pegasus caught a paper out of the air, noticing how every single pony in the room was staring at him.

“I… I got it!” he exclaimed, excitedly.

“If he couldn’t stick to sitting, it really must’ve been huge,” Castle commented, only for Beckett to hear. The team grouped behind Ryan’s table, staring at the screen.

“Right there. There was a shooting on November 13th last year, in Manehattan. The victim was a Mr Con Corde, except that apparently, his first name applied to his personality more than his last did. The guy was a scammer but as the investigators found out, he also dealt drugs, with samples matching the Easties’ stuff; same as what we found on Rarity. There were no witnesses, and the case has never been closed, but it had been put off as gang violence so Organised Crime worked on it.” Esposito slapped Ryan’s neck with his hoof. He twitched from the impact.

“Good job bro.”

“That’s gotta be the murder that Luna sh — I mean, it all makes sense,” Castle whispered excitedly. “Flanks witnessed the crime!”

“Castle…?”

“Look, Flanks witnesses the murder. He wants out, and he sees the opportunity to protect himself and his family with his knowledge, saying that if anything happens he’ll testify. That explains why he went to Ponyville to share this information with Rarity who lived far enough from the mobsters to be safe.”

“That does make a surprising amount of sense,” Ryan noted.

“So the two break-ins were to make sure he has no physical document with a testimony,” Beckett concluded.

“Exactly. Whoever’s behind this found out about Rarity’s connection, hence the drugs to find out how much she knows and what Flanks is up to. That’s why they went for the rather bold murders, because they needed them both gone.”

“We need to tell Montgomery right away.” Beckett rose from her seat, trotted over to his office and stepped inside. Castle followed her hastily, while Ryan and Esposito remained standing in the doorway. The head of the ponycide division looked up from his papers and gently put them back on the desk. He raised an eyebrow, looking rather surprised to see his detectives that early.

“Captain, we found something on the Rarity case.”

“Well, let me hear,” Montgomery replied with his calm, deep voice.

“Ryan managed to dig up a case file from the 13th of November last year. A dealer was shot in the streets of Manehattan. The case has never been closed because literally nothing led to the killer. We believe that witnessing this might be what caused a radical change in Flanks actions, and that would also explain what the mob had been looking for.”

“That's a probable story,” he nodded, “but at this point, that's all it is, right? We don't have any proof that this is what happened, nor do we have an idea who these mobsters are.”

“According to my theory there are two people who could tell us,” Castle clarified, “except they also happen to be the two victims of our case.”

“We need to find a lead on these ponies. Detectives, I know this is repetitive and grinding work, but we need some lead, be it a DNA sample or a shadow in an alley, something that we can start working with. Maybe if you go back to the crime scene you'll find something irregular, that CSU didn't notice.”

“Yessir,” Esposito responded and walked off. Ryan followed him, though hesitantly, doubting the effectivity of this measure.

“The things I would give for having Flanks around now,” Montgomery muttered, as Beckett and Castle were already getting up to leave the room. A rather loud thud made them stop in their tracks and turn around. Castle's eyelid twitched upon seeing a cross-eyed, grey Pegasus mare butting the outside glass of a window with her yellow-maned head repeatedly. He made out the deep blue uniform cap she was wearing when she finally stopped and simply squished her face against the window. Beckett dashed forward to open it. To her amazement, the mare simply crashed through as though she didn't expect the glass to give in, landed on her back and yet held up the envelope she had been clinging to, balancing it on one hoof.

“For the desk of Captain Roy Montgomery, delivered by the Ponyville Express Mail Service,” she announced. Shaking his head in disbelief, the Captain levitated the A4 sized brown envelope and opened it in mid-air. In the meantime, the Pegasus opened her eyes, and, though she still didn't dare to move, curiously examined the room. Castle realised that the peculiar arrangement of her eyes he noticed through the window before had not been purely due to the impact, since they still looked the same.

“This is impossible,” Montgomery mumbled, having extracted a document from the envelope.

“What is it, Captain?” Beckett inquired.

“See for yourself.” He turned around the front page for Castle and his partner to see. Large letters on it stated: ‘Testimony of Hondo Flanks’. Their jaws legitimately dropped. “There's also a note: ‘You will receive this shortly after my death’,” he recited the important part.

“He must have been using somepony as a dead man's trigger to send this file,” Castle suggested, when his brain had fully processed this new information. Montgomery nodded.

“I know the spell that he most probably employed. Many unicorns on duty resort to it to notify their teammates if anything happens to them.”

“Since he died yesterday, that was when the file was sent, which takes Rarity out of the equation. There must have been a third pony involved, somepony else Flanks visited when they went to Ponyville shortly after the murder,” Beckett speculated.

“The one thing that throws me off is... Isn't express mail supposed to arrive, uhm, quickly? Flanks was shot yesterday in the early afternoon.”

The mailmare, who was still lying on the floor, shrugged.

“It's Ponyville, what did you expect?” Montgomery argued. “I remember working a case that required some collaboration of the PVPD, those guys took a week to send me a forensic report.”

“You have a point.” Castle saw Esposito, who originally had been preparing to leave, stick his head back into the office as he walked by.

“I thought this was done, what's the commotion abou—” His eyes narrowed down to slits as he spotted the grey Pegasus. “DERPY!” He leaped at the mailmare, pressing her against the floor she was already lying on.

“Javi...?” Ryan started, who saw his partner entering the room.

“I told you I don't want to see your face ever again!”

Derpy's eyes widened. “I swear it was an accident!” she shrieked.

“Javier Esposito, what the hay are you doing?!” Montgomery shouted, rising from his stool. Esposito paused, got up slowly and knocked the dust off his jacket. Clearing his throat, he said:

“Back in my Wonderbolt days, this freak made half a building collapse on top of me at the Equestria Games qualifying. I couldn't fly for six months, Celestia forbid actually participating in the Games!”

“Be a dear and don't assault civilians out of old grudges, will you?” The deep-red Pegasus rolled his eyes. “I suggest we safely escort Miss...?” His glance at the mailmare conveyed an obvious question.

“Hooves, Sir. Derpy Hooves,” she answered, now with a proud smile on her cross-eyed face.

“... Miss Hooves out and actually read this testimony, shall we?” He nodded at Ryan, who instantly understood what he was expected to do.

“Derpy, are you coming?” She nodded furiously and hovered out the room with just three wing beats, immediately followed by the detective. Ignoring the faint crashing noises coming from outside the office (Castle cringed at the prospect of being involved in the tidying up operations afterwards) Montgomery cleared his throat, opened the file and started reading. To the writer's great disappointment it wasn't out loud.

Castle attentively watched the captain slowly creasing his forehead as he advanced further into the script. He finally looked up, eying Beckett, Castle and Esposito separately.

“I'll cut to the interesting part. Flanks claims that the drugs he and fellow dealers have sold were distributed by the same individual who shot Corde: Window Gleam.” The three detectives' eyes seemed to double in size.

“W-Window Gleam?! That's Shores' assistant!”

Montgomery nodded. “Esposito, grab Ryan and get on her apartment with Special Operations. I'll see to an APB. Castle, Beckett, question Shores once again, I swear she must know something—unless she's Gleam's accomplice, or worse.”

****

The door was blasted out of its hinges.

“EQPD, HOOVES IN THE AIR!” Esposito shouted, the light cone from the sub-barrel spot on his shoulder-mounted assault rifle clearly visible in the stirred up dust. Upon breaching the entrance, he, Ryan and several other Spec Ops ponies, all wearing black PASGTs, charged into the unlit apartment and split up, scanning room after room. After hearing a couple of ‘all-clears’ the two detectives eased their posture. Ryan adjusted his protective helmet with a free hoof, leaning on a glass cabinet in Gleam’s living room.

“Wait, are you feeling this?” he suddenly asked, forehead creasing worriedly.

“Yeah, this cold draught,” his partner supported him, twitching an ear.

“It’s coming from the kitchen.” The two Pegasi darted towards the door. For a second, they browsed the room with their eyes before simultaneously spotting an open window. Ryan, closer to it, glanced out. He found himself look down into a backyard 11 floors down.

“Hang in a second,” Esposito called. “Someone just opened this thing. See this?” He pointed at some soil on the window sill. “If she got out here, which I assume happened a couple of minutes ago judging by the cup of hot coffee over there on the table, then it was a two-pony-job, which means she has a Pegasus or high level unicorn partner who could fly or levitate her out there, because she couldn’t have done it herself, assuming her file is still up to date. We can check databases for the latter, but if our mystery second pony was a Pegasus, he might have left saliva traces on the outside.”

Ryan nodded. “I’m impressed, Javi. I’ll guess I’ll just call CSU.” He turned around, taking out his mobile phone and stopped, suddenly. “What do we got here…” The white Pegasus stretched out a hoof, pointing at a ring with just a single key attached to it that lay on the floor. “Looks like our fugitive wasn’t careful enough after all.”

****

“You know, I’m getting exceedingly worried about the fact that Shores might be involved in this drug business,” Castle stated, while in the elevator with Beckett. “Seeing how close the two were, it’s hard to believe she couldn’t have guessed.”

“Well, just because Gleam shot a guy doesn’t mean she was a leading executive in the business. There are ways to stay discreet while making notable cash,” she argued.

“Can you even fathom the extent of the scandal this will evoke?” Castle exclaimed.

“Well, it's not really my job to. I'm just here to catch the bad guys.”

This time, Sapphire Shores opened the door herself, doubtlessly surprised to see the investigators.

“Good morning,” she greeted them. “I hope you have some news on poor Rarity, knowing just why this had to happen would provide some consolation.”

“We're actually here to talk to you about that,” Beckett replied.

“Oh?”

“We believe that your assistant is a key pony in this. The murder on Rarity is a part of a cover-up operation on a crime she committed half a year ago,” Castle explained, trying to sound as calm and professional as possible. He noticed Shores examining both his and Beckett's faces, as if to determine whether they were serious or not.

“Surely this is some kind of joke,” she said, sounding slightly hysterical. “Win was nothing like that!”

“I'm afraid you’re mistaken,” Beckett stated coldly. “We have solid evidence. At this point, we need you to re-evaluate all of her behaviour that possibly appeared suspicious to you in the past years, taking in consideration this new insight.”

The singer took a deep breath, then shook her head. “I don't think there's anything I can help you with, I'm quite frankly shocked by this monstrous notion.”

“Actually, here's a very specific question. On the day of Rarity's death, that is four days ago, when did Gleam leave your apartment? We heard that you often worked late into the night,” Castle inquired, motioning for Beckett not to interfere for a second.

“Oh yes, we did,” Shores replied. “Not that day, though. I spent the entire day in the vocal booth and I was too exhausted to work any further. I believe she was already gone around 8 PM.”

“Eh, excuse us for a second,” the writer announced and pulled Beckett towards the door.

“The doorman said she hasn't left until 11 PM, he must have been lying,” she recalled.

“Not necessarily. She could have got out through a window and then returned the same way in order to leave through the lobby, so the doorman registers her.” He magically opened the door, wishing farewell to a rather stunned Shores as he and Beckett left the apartment.

“Maybe we should ask her where Gleam was when Flanks was shot,” Beckett suggested.

“That won't be needed, she wasn’t the shooter,” the writer replied, levitating his phone and selecting Esposito's number.

“Castle...?”

“You see, she couldn't have pulled this through on her own. She's a low level unicorn, there's no way she can cast self-levitation spells. Remember how nopony saw a thing when Flanks was shot? That's because the shooter didn't ascend using stairs or the elevator, he came from the roof. It's the same pony who helped her get out through this window.” Castle's call finally connected. He instantly switched it on speaker. „Javier, my friend, did you get anything?”

“We got plenty,” the detective’s slightly distorted voice sounded from the cell. “Gleam escaped through the window of her flat literally minutes before we arrived, with the help of a Pegasus. Thankfully he happened to drool at the shutters when he was adjusting them so Lanie is currently pulling the DNA. Tech’s also looking into security footage around the area, maybe we can find something. But, more importantly,” the Pegasus raised his voice, “we have a key our suspect dropped on her escape that seems to belong to some storage unit. We’ll proceed to canvass all facilities that rent those things as soon as we get back downtown.”

“Now that’s interesting. We’re on our way,” Castle replied, placing his phone back in his jacket’s pocket.

“What about Shores?!” Beckett called, as he was already trotting towards the elevator. “We still need to ask her about Gleam’s personal life; I’m sure whoever that Pegasus is, they must be pretty close.” The writer stopped, then turned around slowly.

“Point taken. Let’s go back in.”

****

Back at the precinct the group finally reassembled. The information Castle and Beckett shared confirmed the existence of a winged partner.

“And apparently, she had a special somepony of some sort who just happened to be a dark green Pegasus and tended to pick her up after work sometimes.”

“Well that’s not a very specific description,” Ryan noted.

“Guess we’ll have to wait for the lab results to come in, should be any second now. Let’s hope he’s in our database,” Esposito encouraged him.

“What about the storage unit? Did you check those already?” The ex-Wonderbolt nodded.

“Every single one in a radius of twenty blocks from her apartment. Nothing registered for a Window Gleam at all, they haven’t even heard of the name before. If there’s something related to her secret business in there, which I’m sure of, it might also belong to our mystery Pegasus.”

“… or any other pony who’s involved in this mess. We need to find this unit.” Beckett nervously fixed her mane. “What about her carriage?”

“It’s still right in front of her apartment building. Custom-made, expensive sapphire decorations all over… wonder where she’s got that kind of money from,” Esposito answered sarcastically.

“Yo guys, I got something useful,” Ryan called from behind his computer screen. “Lanie’s done extracting the DNA, so I got the sample in a compatible format right here. We can start looking for a match.” He slapped the ‘Enter’ key with a hoof and leaned back, as the progress bar began filling. It just touched 30% as the infamous pre-result freeze occurred, finally revealing the secret that could potentially lead to the ultimate uncovering of the East shore drug business. The ID the programme displayed belonged to a police officer, namely Mr Discharge of Narcotics.

“Hah, that's probably some sort of mistake,” Ryan commented, with a dry laugh. “They might have taken the wrong sample or Celestia knows what-“

“Green coated coltfriend huh,” Esposito wondered out loud. “Well guess who's also dark green. ” Ryan raised a brow.

“Guys, you don't seriously think he's—”

“Where is this Discharge now?” Beckett asked, setting a task rather than demanding an immediate answer.

“Getting an APB out,” Esposito replied, reaching for the phone. While Castle and Beckett waited for their colleague to receive some information, Ryan simply crumpled upon his stool.

“I don't believe it. I went into active meth labs with this guy, back to back, believing that I could trust him, that he'd have me in case something would happen.” He shook his head violently. Castle slapped him on the back, trying to appear encouraging. In the meantime Esposito finished his call.

“So, he showed up for work today, but he went AWOL about 80 minutes ago when we decided to go for Gleam's apartment. That explains how he got there faster and warned her. His carriage, which happens to be polished black, however is still at the respective precinct, and he’s also not at home according to CCTV. Tech tried tracing both of their cell phones, but they're just in the dumpster next to Gleam's apartment building.”

“That is just great,” Beckett moaned. “Means we can sit around doing nothing until somepony sees one of those buckers somewhere,” she added, before reaching for her ringing phone. In moments like these when so many different types of clues were processed, it seemed like all of Manehattan was calling all at once. Just seconds later her face brightened significantly.

“Thanks,” she slapped the receiver back on the base station, “I think we have our storage unit. Solar Imperial Drive 7; five blocks away from the crime scene, registered for Discharge. And, two ponies are currently accessing it.”

“Then we have no time to waste.” The two Pegasi strapped their protective helmets back on, which they hadn’t bothered returning to Spec Ops. Despite looking rather uncomfortable for the last few minutes, Ryan now resolutely adjusted the harness on his bulletproof vest, bringing in position the bracket which his partner helped him slot the assault rifle into. A moment of cogitation after dropping a secondary hoofgun in the front leg holster, he finally suggested:

“Let's fly, Javi.”

“Hang in a second,” Beckett stopped him. “Are you sure you don't want to wait for the cavalry?”

“So they can get away one more bucking time?” Ryan rebutted. “We need to corner them in the unit, without it, we hardly even have enough evidence to put him in holding for 24 hours.”

“Till the wheels fall off, bro.” Esposito slapped a hoof on his partner's shoulder to demonstrate active support. Their team leader sighed.

“Okay, you guys go. We'll be right behind you.” With a hoof bump, the two Pegasi opened a large window. Castle watched them blast off, leaving behind respectively coloured trails.

“Friendship really is magic,” he noted, as the patterns dissipated into thin air.

“You should stop staring and get running, Castle,” Beckett suggested, tossing him his custom ‘writer’ vest.

“We're not taking a carriage, are we,” the stallion asked, losing all traces of enthusiasm.

“Well, our colts might need cover sooner than in an hour, so that's no,” Beckett replied, ready to take pursuit. Castle, regretting his large lunch, followed her on the way to the elevator.

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