• Published 24th Mar 2015
  • 325 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 6

The two Pegasi aimed their landing approach for the small parking lot that lay before the entrance to a rather large building complex, which consisted of several large, seemingly poorly isolated containers. Scanning his surroundings as they touched down on the concrete, Ryan noticed a group of ponies waiting a couple of metres away from the rather unremarkable door. He flipped the safety switch on his weapon, ready to infiltrate, when Esposito confirmed that the ponies in question were indeed the renting company’s personnel.

“Beckett messaged me the number of the unit,” Esposito said after they slipped inside through the half open door, “it’s 139.” His partner looked around the room, finding a map that depicted the complex to ease orientation for customers.

“That’s this way,” Ryan replied, pointing at one of the hallways that lead out of the plain lobby, after he analysed the sketch. He hesitated. “He happened to be very interested in this case before, so I told him pretty much all that I knew...”

“We’ll be fine. Let’s go.”

Thus they advanced further down the corridor. The building was eerily silent, with nothing to hear but the hum of the white electric light illuminating monotonously grey overhead doors, positioned in short intervals on either wall. With their barrels pointing in front of them at head level, the two detectives pressed on past two digit numbers towards the junction that would lead them to the unit that they were heading to. Despite their expectations there was no empty hallway awaiting them behind this turn . Half way through it, at unit #76, a dark silhouette of a Pegasus stood out from the bright background.

Ryan and Esposito drew a bead on him instantly.

“Hooves up where I can see them!” the red Pegasus shouted, spreading his wings and covering the last stretch of the distance in a leap, placing himself in five metres away from Discharge. Ryan followed his lead. The dark green stallion turned his head, seemingly surprised to see the two detectives.

“Good day, colleagues,” he said, his voice sounding unimpressed. “What leads you here on—“

“Hooves the buck up, I said,” Esposito repeated, twitching his rifle to demonstrate his intention to fire in case Discharge decided not to follow his command. With a sigh, the Pegasus complied.

“Well, if that’s what I need to do not to be shot by fellow officers.”

“Dirtbags like you dishonour the badge,” Ryan said, spitting on the floor. “The cleared storages, distributers not showing up to places at times when the dealers we caught swore they would, that was all you.”

“Now that’s a very likely story mate, but I’m afraid the juries might not be interested in fairytales. What do you got on me, some lowlife seeing a common carriage picking up this village filly? DNA on the window? What if I told you I was simply onto Gleam?”

“Certainly shooting Flanks was part of your precious investigation, too,” Ryan retorted.

“You have absolutely no proof I was involved in that.” With a provocative grin, Discharge replied slowly, as though he enjoyed pronouncing every single word.

“The hell we don’t,” Esposito retorted. “It’s all in that unit of yours.”

“Well, this might hypothetically be the case,” the rogue officer smiled mockingly, “but you might want to consider the option that somepony is covering the place with plastic explosives this very second.”

“I’m sure your marefriend will testify regardless,” Ryan commented, trying to disregard the fact that Discharge’s statement did alert him.

“I might also have hypothetically fiddled with the detonators.” He winked, then glanced at his watch. “You know, it’s been fun and all, but I really should be going.”

“Don’t you dare move—“ Esposito never finished. Space itself seemed to be ruptured in a moment of deafening cataclysm, as a shockwave, followed by a wall of blazing inferno, tore down the building from the inside. Discharge used this moment of the detectives’ total paralysis to let the blast carry him into Esposito and wrench the gun from him. He accelerated towards the end of the hallway and breached through the thin corrugated iron wall.

Having recovered from the initial shock, Ryan cowered next to Esposito who was dragged to the ground by Discharge’s attack. “You alright?”

The red Pegasus nodded, getting up amidst the flames. They haven’t been in the lethal radius of the explosion as it went off, but the fire was definitely closing in on them now.

“You go follow this bucker, I’ll see if I can save anything out of there,” he said, back on his hooves.

“Don’t you die on me,” Ryan said, before rocketing off out of the blaze to hunt down the enemy.

****

Castle galloped down the street, following his partner towards the container building.

“I think that’s it.” He stopped, panting. “I really should work out more, shouldn’t I?”

Walking the last couple of metres together, they examined the edifice as they came closer. Except for an irregularly large group of ponies around the entrance, nothing about it seemed suspicious.

“Looks like Ryan and Espo are doing a good job of handling the problem,” the writer noted. Beckett wasn’t as convinced.

“We’re here to provide backup, remember? It doesn’t matter if they caught the scrubs or not. Let’s go.” She stepped through the gate in the fence that enclosed the compound. Or rather, she tried. Instead, the mare froze in awe as a fountain of fire burst through the roof of the complex. The roaring noise from the detonation and the building collapsing swallowed the screams of the civilians around. Black smoke rose from the blaze while ashes and burning debris rained down upon the two partners.

“Oh Celestia,” Beckett whispered, as soon as she recuperated from her initial consternation. “Ryan and Esposito are still in there.” Not paying attention to anything, she darted towards the entrance.

“Kate, no!” Castle called, in vain, as he feared. Pulling himself together, he proceeded to follow her.

****

As much as it pained Ryan to leave his partner behind, he relied on him to remain safe in his efforts, realising there was nothing he could do for him now. At this point, catching up with Discharge was top priority; escaping pursuit as a Pegasus was way too easy and the rogue officer already had too much of a head start.

Taking a second to regain orientation, Ryan noticed a faint dark green trace leading towards the city centre. Soaring to pick up the trail before it dispersed entirely, he cursed the fact that Discharge probably knew his way around the city and could go to ground instantly if he wanted to. His only chance was to keep up with him in the air, which he resolutely planned to do at all costs.

Upon gaining height, he spotted Discharge flying toward the city centre and jetted off to follow him, flapping his wings with all the strength available to him. There were a couple hundred metres between them; too far to reliably fire, especially when both of them were moving as such speed. Thankfully, the detective felt like he was shortening the distance. Discharge seemed to have noticed that, as he slowed down to counter Ryan using a slightly different method.

The dark green Pegasus unloaded a shower of projectiles upon him. He clenched his teeth as purposefully evading the barrage was impossible, instead, he prayed that bullet spread would do him a favour as the lead whizzed past him. Folding his wings, he engaged in a dive while remaining as horizontal as possible to minimise possible impact area and simultaneously gaining speed, which would make up for any altitude lost during this stunt. The two Pegasi sped on, closing in on Manehattan’s skyline. Finally holding fire, Discharge seemed to have decided that he had emptied his magazine just enough and launched an evasive manoeuvre around a skyscraper to reload safely. Ryan spread his wings once more, circling around the building in the opposite direction. This time he took his opportunity to pull the trigger, shooting several rounds in Discharge’s direction. Despite being immersed in the struggle, he waited for the green stallion to be at an angle of about 30° higher than himself, to decrease the chance of one of his stray bullets finding its own unlucky target inside the metropolis and hoping devoutly that his efforts would not prove vain. Discharge himself wasn’t dealing with such issues. After the series of shots he fired in return Ryan heard glass break and car alarms go off, along with terrified screams of innocent ponies, tens of metres below. He cringed at the notion, feeling like shouting something to make Discharge finally come to his senses, but he dropped the idea, realising his enemy would neither hear nor listen.

With neither of them having connected a single shot as of yet, Ryan landed on the roof out of Discharge’s sight to reload. Some fiddling with the mag and a couple of short breaths later, he took off once more, discovering that his opponent had gone for the same move to recover from the intense flying. Upon seeing the detective, he instantly cast his rifle back up and unloaded several rounds at him, which Ryan almost failed to dodge.

‘Too close for comfort. Definitely too close.’

Discharge used this moment of his distraction to soar up and try leaving him behind once again, but he didn’t expect him to recover as quickly. Ryan engaged in his desperate pursuit again, but the rogue officer had a backup plan: Discharge suddenly unfolded his wings to their full extent in an instant, positioning them perpendicularly to the direction of flight — thus deploying a massive airbrake. In a matter of milliseconds, before Ryan had any chance to react, Discharge already levelled out with him and grasped for the straps of his protective vest. Yelping at the surprise attack, he attempted shaking his opponent off, but the stallion clinging to him made it completely impossible to flap his wings: they quickly started losing altitude ever more rapidly, until they found themselves plummeting straight down past tens of the surrounding buildings' floors. Frantically trying to evade the punches aimed straight for his head, Ryan replied by firmly headbutting the enemy Pegasus with his helmet. The latter didn’t let go, but the detective freed himself just enough to avert them from their collision course with the tarmac beneath. Instead, he made them turn off into some uncontrollable direction; for a moment, everything but the shattering glass all around them ceased to exist. They crashed through a window into an empty office floor of one of Manehattan’s skyscrapers. Neatly distributed desks with shiny computers, potted plants: nothing too spectacular, but sufficient for some cover.

Landing on top of each other, amidst glass shards and blood, Ryan, who had suffered severely from the impact due to his unlucky positioning, found himself receiving another hoofblow to the face. Retaliating as quickly as possible, he kicked Discharge off of him and he rolled to the side, aligning his assault rifle’s sights with his body. He pulled the trigger.

Too late. Discharge had already leaped away sideways as the bullets shredded the furniture. Ryan remained motionless for a moment, trying to concentrate through the piercing pain of the massive amounts of cuts on his skin. Spitting out a tooth Discharge had smashed out, he raised his head over the edge of a nearby desk to scan the room. His enemy was nowhere to be seen, yet his hopes skyrocketed as he spotted Discharge’s weapon lying amidst the glass. If he could get his hooves on that, he’d win the duel. Gathering his remaining strength, he decided to go for the dash towards the rifle. Finally engaging in the desperate dive, he noticed something large, dark green rush towards him out of the corner of his eye.

Blood shot to his eyes from landing upon the shards once more. Being thrown off his original path during the collision with his opponent and pressed even harder into the remnants of the shattered window, he had difficulties holding on to his consciousness, let alone making it to the gun first. Raising his eyes from the floor, he saw Discharge grabbing the weapon, taking a second to position the stock and pointing the barrel at him. As a final, instinctive move to his own protection, Ryan held his own weapon in front of him like a shield...

Though his initial reaction was yelling out in agony, he found that his stunt had accomplished its purpose, to his own surprise. His vision blacked out for a millisecond as his left front leg was struck by infernal pain, as the third and last round still in the magazine ruptured it. Immensely hot metal splinters rained down on his skin from the virtually melting assault rifle, but despite the point blank range from which the shots have been fired from, it withstood or deflected them.

Ryan instantly used Discharge’s surprise to his advantage. Kicking the gun from his hooves out of the broken window, he jumped back up as quickly his ruined leg allowed it. His blood loss wasn’t critical just yet and he remained adamant about wrapping up his task.

“Still want to resume the fun?” Discharge inquired, ostentatiously knocking the dust off battered jacket.

“I’m not gonna stop till I have you on the ground with cuffs on your hooves and lead in your chest,” Ryan groaned. The green Pegasus shrugged.

“Sure, if you say so.” Without any move to indicate his intention, he darted out the hole in the glass. Instead of attempting to retrieve the assault rifle, he simply soared up out of sight. Ryan reached out to get a hold of him before he managed to escape, but he was already too weak for instant reactions.

‘Pull yourself together, Kevin,’ Ryan thought, moaning silently through clenched teeth and remembering all that was dear to him in a desperate search for anything to draw strength from. Cursing having ever applied to the EQPD at all, he dragged himself closer towards the window. He was suddenly overwhelmed by dizziness as he glanced at the street below where police carriages started gathering. Shaking his head, he stumbled closer to the edge and took off. The first few flaps that took him across the chasm between the office floor and the next building were agonising, but the pain receded as he covered more distance. Discharge was easy to spot; the rogue officer was floating through the air at a comfortable cruising speed, seemingly not intent to flee at all.

Just when he thought he’d be able to pick up the pace again, he found himself plunging downwards. Hysterically trying to sustain altitude, he realised his wings no longer obeyed him. Unable to steer, he crashed face-first into a building’s flat roof and remained motionless, helpless, as the force of his fall dragged him several metres across the concrete. Discharge circled around his enemy, like a vulture waiting its dying prey’s last breath. Except, he wouldn’t linger that long. He’d end his opponents’ life himself.

Initiating a final run-up, the Pegasus began gliding down towards the injured detective to serve the killing strike.

‘Not if I can help it…’

Rolling sideways, Ryan pulled the automatic hoofgun out of his front leg holster. Pointing it in the general direction of the opposing Pegasus, he pressed the trigger for several seconds, hardly focusing on the target, until the magazine depleted entirely. Deafened by the pistol’s immediate reports, he glanced up at the descending shadow. The shots had connected.

Two bullets had torn through Discharge’s left wing, another one hit him square in the chest. Before he had the chance to conclude his attack, the Pegasus instantly lost control of his approach in mid-air. Ryan had hit the third lucky round; acute stress reaction handled the rest. Discharge lifelessly crashed into the concrete.

Confident that his enemy wouldn't recover from such a fall and, more importantly, such a shot too quickly Ryan couldn't be bothered to get up and check on him. Dropping the hoofgun out of his jaws with a sigh of relief, he sank to the ground entirely. Finding it futile to attempt staying awake now, he closed his eyes before his vision started fading away. Hearing faint police sirens, the detective finally found a position to lie in that was painless enough to voluntarily remain in it while he’d wait for either his rescue or his death by haemorrhage.
As he lay there, bewildered by his own apathy regarding the latter prospect, the suspension of mind eventually established itself. The last thing his senses registered was a loud, roaring noise drawing nearer from above…

****

As soon as Ryan had left the complex, Esposito dedicated all his thoughts to figuring out how to accomplish his part of the mission.
He drew his hoofgun, fired a couple of shots into the roof to ease breaching through and soared up before he was engulfed by flames. Though visibility was still overall dismal, the Pegasus could easily spot the epicentre of the explosion from above the building.

Only now that he beheld it from above could Esposito fathom the entire extent of the detonation. The shockwave tore down the building’s walls in a twenty metre radius, flames were consuming the remaining debris alarmingly quickly while continuously spreading outward. Glancing down, Esposito saw the place where he was just standing seconds ago was now covered by a sea of fire. And as if that wasn’t enough, his vision was obstructed by dense columns of smoke rising from the ruins.

Cussing vocally, Esposito ripped a piece of cloth from his jacket and tied around his face as a primitive respirator. Gathering all his resolution and recalling the justice at stake, he dived toward the supposed location of the unit. Desperately fighting back a cough attack and trying to withstand the immense heat of the wall of fire, he maintained control of his flight, floating as safely as the circumstances allowed just above a pile of rubble that appeared to have been one of the unit’s walls. He wouldn’t risk actually landing on it, as it appeared scorching hot.

The detective tried to guess if anything was left to salvage from the flames. He found himself instinctively holding his breath to save his lungs from exposure to not only the smoke, but also the foul stench of burnt flesh that filled the sweltering air. Straining his eyes just resulted in them tearing up further from the pestilential smog as he hovered further into the blazes.

Fortunately, the main front of flames had already moved on from its origin for lack of nourishment; this allowed the Pegasus to distinguish the outlines of the unit. Scanning the area, he suddenly yelped in excitement: on the opposite side of the room’s remains he spotted the outlines of something dark amidst the sizzling fire. He inched closer.

‘Thank Celestia someone was very concerned about the prosperity of their gear,’ he thought, identifying the objects as armoured suitcases. But when he was just a leg’s length away, he made a more unsettling discovery.

Between fuliginous rubble he saw a partially incinerated corpse. Esposito winced back; sure, looking at corpses was part of his job, but scorched bodies were never a pretty sight. Fighting against another coughing fit, he shoved the debris as well as Window Gleam’s mortal remains off the chests.

‘Buck knows how long these will hold till they melt,’ he noted, pulling out his hoofgun. He had to remove the bonds around his face for this, which intensified his choking bout. Focusing all his strength on clenching his jaws around the gun’s grip, he blew the locks open on four of the suitcases. Spitting the gun out on the floor, he stemmed his hooves against the torrid lid of the closest crate, trying to disregard that he was searing his skin (as well as one can possibly do so). An endless moment of agony later, the lid finally gave in. Almost flinging himself into the fire, he indiscriminately grabbed items out of the chest, trying to store them somehow in order to safely fly them out of the flames. Analysing the items as he went, he registered several hoofguns and a large arsenal of black street clothes. No sniper rifle.

Cussing, he moved on the next crate. The lower edges seemed almost liquid at this point; odds were the insides were long burnt.

‘Move… faster…’

The second crate wouldn’t give in at all due to deformations around the frame. Furiously, he tossed it aside.

‘No time for this…’

Seeing as the previous chest was a bust, Esposito applied double the force to fracture the following one. The lid’s hinges shattered. The red Pegasus’ eyes widened, beholding the neatly packaged kilogrammes of high end drugs stashed inside the protected suitcase. After short cogitation, he started stuffing as many of the small bags in his pockets as he could.

He now had one more reason to hurry. Small flames already started licking the uncovered hallucinogenics; it was a matter of time till they would finally start releasing the operative vapours. Starting to realise there was no way he could actually scan every single chest as the stench and the heat grew more and more excruciating by the second, Esposito frantically reconsidered his strategy. Desisting from searching the crates any further, he paused.

‘Think. The gun Flanks was shot with was definitely a military grade sniper rifle. No way it would fit in any of these cases. Would Discharge want to disassemble it every time? No, it would be too inefficient. Hiding it in there wouldn’t save him at all once anyone actually got in here; means it would be in some sort of case outside the crates.’ He eyed the remains of the room once again. It seemed to him that his entire body was dissolving into sweat, only to evaporate instantaneously.

“It’s gonna be somewhere!” he shouted in frustration, regretting the unwise decision soon after. The breeze was shifting. Soon, the fire would start moving back at him, consuming all that he laid open.

‘Time for a change of strats,’ the Pegasus concluded mentally before expeditiously starting to frisk the area for the rifle, or at least its remains. Rushing off towards the former locations of the unit’s other walls, he closely examined the rubble piece after piece. Trying to concentrate despite the harrowing headache that was increasingly taking the better of him, he continued his search. Suddenly, as his vision divided into inconclusive images, something caught his attention. Something like a long rod seemed to stick out of the rest of the detritus. Recklessly he rocketed towards it, grabbing the blistering bar with a piece of his jacket.

He pulled the sniper rifle out of the waste. The bag that had contained it was all burnt, the stock was half molten, the barrel was bent in the middle at almost 50 degrees, but it would do. All Esposito wanted at this point was out. Out of the building, out of the heat, out of the inferno. The survival drive kicked in, overriding all else that was on his mind.

“Ryan, Esposito, are you in there?!” A familiar voice was calling from somewhere nearby. Slightly shifting his path towards it, he darted through the flames, leaving behind the smoke and the blazes, and collapsed, his feathers singed beyond flight. He hadn’t let go of the weapon in his hooves. He won.

“Sweet Celestia,” a mare whispered over him. Esposito couldn’t see anything, despite having his eyes open, but apparently his ears still functioned.

“Javi, can you hear me? Are you awake?” somepony else said, his voice somewhere between despair and panic.

“What the hay are you waiting for?! Get the bucking meds!” Hoofsteps. “Please don’t tell me Ryan didn’t make it…”

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