• Published 7th Dec 2018
  • 190 Views, 5 Comments

Detective Pony Comics Presents (Vol. 2) - Coyote de La Mancha



Batmane returns, joined by Sparrow, to face Feline Fatale... and a secret that may destroy them all. (Or, you know, not.)

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Chapter Two: The Ersatz Accoutrement

The city of Canterlot whizzed past them in a blur of architecture and nocturnal lighting, the mystic carriage rolling at speeds far greater than most any mortal pony could reach. Yet there were no neck yokers or bows on the arcane conveyance, nor even a tongue. For the night-prowling vehicle of justice no need for such contrivances, being propelled through the stygian streets due not to the efforts of pony strength but through the high art of permanent enchantment. Thus, there was only the carriage cab itself, cast from rare and enchanted metals.

And within, its occupants... cast from a rarer mettle still.

“Hey, Batmane?”

“Yes, Sparrow.”

“Can I ask you something?” The teen hero fidgeted in her seat before adding, “Um… it may be a little personal…”

Then, she looked away. “Okay, it’s really a lot personal. I probably shouldn’t ask. Never mind.”

Batmane nodded grimly to himself. He had always known that one day, the questions would be asked. The CMC were simply too alert, too inquisitive, to not realize his motivation had to be from something he kept deep within himself. It was part of what made them good detectives.

It was therefore inevitable that they would realize the dark truth, some dark night: that his becoming Batmane had come from a dark place within himself, an abyss of consuming, all-encompassing darkness.

A black, unfathomable nougat center of darkness, from which there could be no true escape.

And, he acknowledged, it only made sense that it would be Scootaloo who would be the first to make that realization. They had too much in common, the two of them, for it not to be. Not the least of which being loss.

Steeling himself for the revelations ahead, for the baring of souls now to be faced at last, Batmane nodded. “You can ask me anything, Sparrow. Always.”

“Well, okay. Um…” Sparrow seemed even more uncertain, and then finally asked:

“It seems like you’ve got this gravelly voice you use when you’re Batmane,” she said. “But when you’re Blueblood, you don’t. And that makes sense. But, even when we’re in the Manecave, and there’s nopony else around, you still use your Batmane voice. And sometimes it seems like, well, I mean…”

Her voice trailed off, and she said, “It seems sometimes like this is your real voice, like the Blueblood voice is just an act. Instead of the other way around?”

Batmane gave his protégé the barest of glances before returning his gaze to the streets before them.

“Don’t ever smoke.”

Sparrow’s eyes also snapped towards the front, even as they grew to the size of dinner plates.

Got it,” she said.

* * * *

The Batcarriage sped through the city streets like a five-mouthed demon from Tartarus fleeing a dental appointment. Soon, the Dynamic Duo leaped through a museum window and into the company of the only other two ponies in Canterlot as dedicated to crime fighting as they.

The commissioner, a light blue unicorn with white mane and tail, started at their sudden appearance: dark and terrifying as a kitten’s dreams of bloody conquest. Still, he recovered quickly.

“Thank goodness you’re here, Batmane!” Commissioner Spacious Fort exclaimed. “The Pink Panther Diamond is missing! Stolen!”

The orange-maned police chief beside him nodded sagely. “Sure, an’ it’s almost certainly the work of that criminal mastermind, Feline Fatale. Why, if I just had a nickel for every time she’s bamboozled us before!”

But the Dark Detective simply glanced around himself, his winged protégé by his side.

“Let’s not be too hasty, gentlecolts,” he said, his rough growl filling the museum’s antechamber. “Though the brilliance and mastery of the crime may point towards that particular criminal at the moment, we mustn’t allow ourselves the luxury of presumption.”

Commissioner Spacious Fort and Police Chief O’Bunny both nodded as the four of them walked towards the annex where the fabled diamond had been kept. Above the entrance archway, the black-on-orange sign proudly proclaimed, PINK PANTHER DIAMOND EXHIBIT.

“Fair enough, Caped Crusaders,” the Commissioner said. “But then, what do you make of all this?”

“Four-inch thick enchanted silver alloy, dropped instantly through a permanent telekinetic spell,” came the growled reply.

Sparrow glanced up at him. “What?”

Suddenly, a massive sheet of silver dropped down behind them with a deafening Boom!, sealing them in the annex.

“Holy—!” Sparrow started, then cut herself off at her mentor’s sharp look.

“…heart failure?” she finished.

Batmane nodded, satisfied, then returned to his observations. He knew all too well how the life of a crime fighter was a difficult one. But no amount of stress was an excuse for bad language. Especially from a minor.

While the security door slowly raised up again, Batmane went on, “It’s obviously activated through a motion sensitivity ward inlaid into the archway, hidden among the ornamental carvings of the walls themselves.”

He smiled, adding, “I would guess that in the chaos following the theft’s discovery, museum security forgot to deactivate the wards. A minor lapse, and certainly an understandable one.”

“Absolutely correct as always, Batmane,” Commissioner Fort said as he and the police chief entered. “Though they’re disarming it now, of course. But how did you know?”

“The carvings are early Saddle-Arabian,” Batmane explained. “But the rest of the exhibit is middle to modern Saddle-Arabian, with the exception of the diamond itself, of course. Therefore, the carvings were chosen by someone without experience in Saddle Arabian history, but who nonetheless had been chosen by the museum to place carvings into its most celebrated and secured wing.

“Of course, theoretically the carvings could have been added as part of the exhibition,” he admitted, “but in that case, there would have been a plaque describing their significance within the exhibit itself, and there wasn’t.”

“And the only reason why anypony would add artistic carvings to a museum archway that they didn’t want ponies to notice would be if it were for security!” Sparrow exclaimed. “And wards and glyphs are easily hidden among ornate, highly detailed engravings!”

Batmane whirled to face her. “Precisely, Sparrow! As for the door description itself, silver has long been the preferred metal for use in security systems, due to its adverse effects on creatures of darkness and evil.”

“And the narrowest point between the two sets carvings lining the archway was about four inches!” Sparrow realized.

Then, she sighed. “It all seems so simple when you explain it.”

Smiling, Batmane put a hoof on his protégé’s withers. “You’re learning faster than you realize, Sparrow. For example, with all this being said, how did the villain enter the annex to steal the Pink Panther Diamond?”

Sparrow was surprised to be thrust into the fore of detective work, though she hid it instantly. Nodding, she took to the air, circling the large room as she spoke.

Sparrow glided upwards with the grace of a feathered serpent dancing the Macarena, circling the ornate room as she examined everything around her. Ornate hoof-woven rugs, sculptures, and glass cases, each with its own orange sign to label the display in bold black lettering.

In the center of the room, one case, empty of its intended occupant. The sign on its base proclaimed, PINK PANTHER DIAMOND. But instead of that legendary jewel, a white silken glove, the calling card of Feline Fatale, rested gently on the small cushion within. Embroidered upon its center, a delicate FF could be plainly seen.

“There’s only one door,” the young crime fighter observed, still circling. “The wards are triggered by motion, and were intact when the theft was discovered. They haven’t been tampered with, at least as far as security was able to detect.”

“Good heavens!” the commissioner exclaimed. “How do you know that?”

“If they had been, you would have said so,” Sparrow said, still studying the room around her. “Which implies either the criminal overrode them in a way that security can’t detect, or bypassed them completely.

“The light crystals are still intact,” she went on, as the two elderly stallions exchanged glances, their eyebrows rising by the moment. “In a place like this, it’s standard to have the matrix within them fragile, so they’ll overload easily and shatter in the presence of powerful magic. Like what would be required to bypass the other alarms. Which means that whoever did this, they didn’t just power their way through the room’s defenses. They bypassed them somehow.

“Somepony with the magical power to force their way into a place like this is almost unheard-of. But somepony with the magical precision to control that power to such as extent as this is ever rarer,” Sparrow concluded. “We’re looking for a true master mage and master criminal. Somepony who’s dedicated their lives to…”

Her voice trailed off as she hovered beside the skylight, staring at the lock that held it in place.

“The thief had to have entered through the skylight,” she pronounced. “The spells that protect the lock from magical tampering probably aren’t as strong as the ones on the door. And even if they are, it’s far away enough away from the sconces that the right kind of shield could contain the opening spell, keeping the crystals from being affected. From there, it would be a simple matter for someone of that level of magical skill to levitate themselves down, between the invisible alarm beams, and to the jewel itself.”

“Stars preserve us,” the police chief marveled.

“Well done, old chum,” Batmane smiled.

“But what I don’t get is how they got the jewel,” Sparrow added. “The glass case was protected by spells cast by Princess Celestia herself, keyed only to open in the presence of royal magic. How could the thief have gotten past that kind of protection?”

“Well, there’s no underestimating the audacity of the criminal mind,” the commissioner admitted. “Feline Fatale has robbed a number of Canterlot treasures over the last few years, always ransoming them for her dastardly price a few months later.”

Then, with a wink to Batmane, he added, “But now that you’ve joined the Dark Detective, perhaps you’ll solve the case for us.”

Behind her mask, Sparrow’s eyes narrowed. In a voice both quiet and calm, she asked, “Boss, can I borrow the key to the skylight?”

Batmane’s eagle eyes cut to the other two stallions like a diamond in a mixed metaphor. “Commissioner?”

The commissioner blinked. “Hm? Oh, of course.”

When the old stallion fished out the key from his coat pocket, Sparrow swooped down to retrieve it and deftly undid the lock.

“Sure, and what’s she doing now?” O’Bunny wondered.

The Dark Detective’s answer was as enigmatic as it was confident.

“Watch.”

After a moment, Sparrow drifted back down, holding something carefully in her hoof.

“An’ just what’s that, then?” O’Bunny demanded, peering at her prize.

“Why, it’s a hair,” Commissioner Fort gasped.

“According to the briefing Batmane gave me on the way here, Feline Fatale occasionally alters their costume between crimes,” Sparrow said, holding the follicle aloft. “Mane-down is in this season, so it seemed likely the thief would have a new design with an at least partially exposed mane.”

Sparrow paused. She almost said, I have a friend who knows about fashion, but instead she continued with, “Especially if they’re female. And since I found this caught on one of the skylight hinges – combined with her choice of name, of course – Feline Fatale is almost certainly a mare.

“Anyway, the expunging spell on her costume turned the hair black as soon as it was separated from her, and of course any sympathetic link was lost, too. But with the right magic the original color can be restored…”

“…And help us identify the criminal’s secret identity!” Commissioner Fort exclaimed. “The girl’s a wonder!”

Batmane slipped the hair into a test tube from his bat-utility belt. Almost immediately it transformed, staining the liquid around it as well.

“Purple!” O’Bunny Exclaimed. “By my Aunt Moria, it’s purple!”

“Exactly!” the Shadow Sleuth exclaimed. “Well done, Sparrow!”

Sparrow happily did loop-the-loops in the air above them.

“But a mare who is a master mage, with that kind of both power and control,” the commissioner wondered, “and a purple mane… wait. You’re surely not suggesting royalty is involved in this crime, are you?”

“No, not royalty, commissioner ,” the crime fighter mused. “But, perhaps somepony close to royalty...”

“Sweet stars above!” Police Chief O’Bunny gasped. “Sure an’ you’re not saying Twilight Sparkle did it?”

“That answers all our old questions, only to ask so many more!” the commissioner cried.

“Indeed, gentlecolts,” Batmane said as he stroked his chin in thought. “Princess Celestia’s prize pupil Twilight Sparkle is certainly the obvious suspect.”

Then he gave them a calculating look, arching an eyebrow as he added, “Too obvious.”

Sparrow, meanwhile, had settled on a perch high above the other ponies. “Batmane, I have an idea,” she said.

“Out with it, old chum.”

“Well, all this time you and the commissioner and the police chief have been looking for a master magician. And sure, the clues point that way. But what if it’s not that? What if the thief picked the lock, rather than enchanting it?”

“Sure, an’ now you are pulling my leg!” O’Bunny exclaimed. “Why, how would anypony pick a lock from outside when the lock is in here?”

“Some ponies develop special senses that align with their cutie mark. It’s rare, but it does happen,” Sparrow pointed out, feeling a bit unsure as the stallion gazed up at her incredulously. “And unicorn surgeons perform surgery all the time, using telekinesis do work far too fine for hooves. Couldn’t Feline Fatale be a surgeon?”

“Well, now, that’s not impossible, I suppose,” the commissioner said. “But all other considerations aside, what about motive?”

“Feline Fatale always ransoms off her stolen treasures for huge amounts of wealth—”

“Yes, yes. But if a doctor had suddenly come into that kind of money, I think we’d have noticed. Eh, no offense, of course,” he added at her downcast expression.

Sparrow glanced over at her mentor, but the Dark Detective’s mind was already racing.

Looking upwards again, he said, “Sparrow, examine the outside of the skylight again. Look for any signs of scratches or scuffs around it.”

Without a word, Sparrow soared upwards again with the grace of a ballet-trained salmon. A moment later she returned, saying, “You’re right, Batmane. There’s three sets of scratches around the skylight.”

“Just as I suspected!” Batmane exclaimed. “The thief used some sinister device not unlike our own bat-grappling hooks. See here, Sparrow,” he added, picking up something almost invisible from the floor.

Sparrow frowned in perplexment. “A tiny piece of fuzz from red… yarn?”

“Not yarn, old friend. Silk.”

Pocketing the evidence, Batmane strode towards where the security beams of light had been circumvented by the nefarious nocturnal nightingale. “Silk from a one-inch tight-wound cord, unless I miss my guess. It must have rubbed against the skylight’s edge while Feline Fatale was making her getaway, sawing off this small fragment.

“And here,” he exclaimed, “Look at the floor. What do you see?”

“Well, it’s highly polished marble,” Sparrow acknowledged. “There are some hoofprints, but it looks like they’re all ours. What does that mean?”

“Think about it, Sparrow,” Batmane said. “If our malevolent mare is performing her criminal wiles through telekinetic precision alone, there’s only one way to get past the light traps and to the diamond itself!”

Sparrow nodded, understanding at last. “She’d have to make her way around... no, she’d go under the beams!”

Then she frowned. “But, wouldn’t there be scuff marks to show how she got across? Or traces of her coat? Assuming she could even see the beams at all?”

“No doubt a simple atomizer was used to fill her intended path with mist,” Batmane said. “As for the rest… Police Chief O’Bunny, How are the floors cleaned every night?”

“Er, well, they’re waxed an’ buffed, an’ then polished with a pad of…” His eyes widened in amazement. “Stars preserve us! They polish the floor with silk!”

“Precisely, O’Bunny!” Batmane cried, leaping into the area where the diamonds had once sat. “Our scurrilous nemesis has outsmarted herself at last! By leaving no trace of her method whatsoever, she has revealed exactly how she accomplished every step of her nefarious deed!”

Commissioner Fort raised a hoof. “I’m lost.”

“The silk!” Batmane exclaimed.

Whirling to face each of his allies in turn, he exclaimed with new energy, “Sparrow, you were on the right track! But consider, gentlecolts: not only members of the medical profession refine their telekinesis to such a keen edge.”

“You don’t mean—” Police Chief O’Bunny started.

“I do!”

“But Batmane—“

“Precisely, Sparrow!”

“Still lost,” Commissioner Fort pointed out, hoof upraised again.

“Sure an’ begorrah,” O’Bunny swore. “A seamstress.”

“Precisely, O’Bunny!” The Dark Defender of Canterlot proclaimed.

Then, in a softer tone, he added, “The only possible profession combining both precision and access to fine fabrics.”

While Sparrow watched from her perch high above, her eyes growing wider and wider in horror, the Shadow Sleuth continued his prestigious profile of the profane perpetrator.

“So it must be obvious, gentlecolts. Our fiendish fashionista is a purple-maned mare, of average build or perhaps on the slim side, with minimal magical power and yet an incredibly precise control over her telekinesis. She can use her magic to sew, even embroider. She would also have an ability to sense precious stones just as precisely, such as the tumblers in the skylight’s lock. More likely than not, her cutie mark reflects this trait, taking the form of some jewel or precious stone.”

Sparrow sunk further and further down where she crouched on her precarious perch, her ears becoming flatter against her skull with every word the Caped Crusader spoke.

“Additionally, we’re not dealing with any common seamstress. Our quarry is somepony who would have easy access to the materials used in last night’s heist. Consider: the fine quality crushed silk, used to simultaneously provide frictionless locomotion and polish away the evidence of her travel; the masterfully crafted silk cord. Now remember her predilection towards the latest fashion trends in her costuming! All these clues point conclusively to a fully-fledged and well established fashionista.

“And finally, whoever she is, she is obviously in possession of a powerful magical artifact. Something so ancient, so powerful, that the enchantments Princess Celestia had placed upon the glass around the Pink Panther Diamond reacted as though their rightful mistress was opening the display case… yet, an object so focused by its very nature that it didn’t set off the other alarms. And therefore, an artifact at least distantly associated with the diarchy itself!”

The Crusader against Canterlot Crime considered cautiously the capricious criminal characterization he had calculated so carefully. Finally, he spoke again.

“Nope,” he said. “Doesn’t ring a bell.”

Behind him, there was the sudden whap! of something hitting the floor. Frowning slightly, Batmane turned to see his student lying spread-eagled on the polished tile, thestral wings spread over her like a shroud. Instantly, his puzzlement sublimated into concern.

“Sparrow! Are you alright, old chum?”

Pulling her face from the marble floor, Sparrow managed a somewhat dizzy, “I’m fine…”

The Shadow Sleuth helped his stalwart friend to her hooves, his mind racing like a Naruto runner in a high wind. Then, his head snapped up.

“Curse me for a fool! Of course!” he exclaimed.

Turning to the other stallions’ stunned expressions, he explained, “It’s a school night.”

The commissioner nodded with understanding. “Oh. Yes, yes of course.”

“Sure, an’ she must be plumb tuckered out,” the police chief agreed.

“Gentlecolts, I trust you can conduct the next stage of the search without us,” Batmane said, aiding a suddenly wobbly Sparrow.

“Sure, an’ we’ll search every fashion boutique in Canterlot,” the chief assured him.

“How many are even in this great city of ours?” the commissioner wondered aloud.

“Exactly two hundred and seventy-nine,” Batmane answered promptly. “Plus two florists who do alterations for Hearts and Hooves Day, seven laundromats that offer fittings, and one tobacconist’s that offers a free pair of hot pants with every pack of Lucky Strikes.

“But for now, I fear we must leave that part of the investigation to you and your finely trained police force. And, of course, request any information the princesses might have on any magical artifacts that might have been stolen from the palace in the last few years. As cunning as Feline Fatale is, the theft might not have even been noticed.”

“Of course! You can count on us, Caped Crusaders,” the commissioner assured them both.

“I never doubted it for a second. And now... quickly, Sparrow-- to the Manecave!”

Yet, even as the Caped Crusaders turned to take their leave into the dark, inky, yet strangely sheltering heart of darkness from whence they had entered, the air conditioning happened to switch on. Air trapped in the vent system once again stirred lazily throughout the room like a well-fed python, bringing the sparse and misted remains of Feline Fatale’s atomizer scent to new life.

Batmane paused at the warded annex archway with Sparrow in tow, his highly-trained nostrils twitching with whiplike precision. Then, he spun, eyes wide.

“Great Scott!” he cried. “I know that perfume!”


CAN IT BE?


SPARROW, UNKNOWING, HARBORING A SECRET WAITING IN THE WINGS??


DOES THIS REVELATION MARK AN INEVITABLE COLLISION BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL, WITH THE FAITH AND GOOD INTENTIONS OF THE SPARROWS AS THE DIABOLICAL PRIZE???


AND WHAT OF FELINE FATALE -- WITH HER CRIMES REVEALED, WILL THE FELONIOUS FELINE CLAIM HER REVENGE AGAINST THE CAPED CRUSADERS, NO MATTER THE COST????


AND WHAT ABOUT… NAOMI?????


FIND OUT NEXT TIME, CAT BELIEVERS!


SAME CAT-TIME!!


SAME CAT-CHANEL!!!

Comments ( 2 )

Her voice trailed off, and she said, “It seems sometimes like this is your real voice, like the Blueblood voice is just an act. Instead of the other way around?”

The key difference between the big names of DC is that Clark Kent sometimes puts on a funny costume and calls himself Superman, while Batman sometimes puts on a funny costume and calls himself Bruce Wayne.
(Diana, meanwhile, is about as well-adjusted as a divinely animated clay golem can be.)

Pretty sire you meant commissioner and not commisar. Rather different titles, and Spacious Fort isn't shooting anypony for heresy.

Sparrow glided upwards with the grace of a feathered serpent dancing the Macarena

Which even more impressive when you consider how feathered serpents don't have arms.

I have to wonder about ponies using gloves for calling cards. If nothing else, anypony purchasing something made for fingers is suspicious. (Or is it more of a sock?)

By my Aunt Moria, it’s purple!

Did you mean Moira, or is the police chief's aunt a dwarf? Because I could accept either. :raritywink:

SAME CAT-CHANEL!!!

Booo.

Fantastic Westian deduction and conflicted-loyalty drama. Looking forward to the next installment.

9848991

The key difference between the big names of DC is that Clark Kent sometimes puts on a funny costume and calls himself Superman, while Batman sometimes puts on a funny costume and calls himself Bruce Wayne.
(Diana, meanwhile, is about as well-adjusted as a divinely animated clay golem can be.)

*nods* Yeah, exactly. Kill Bill has an interesting monologue about Supes where the villain argues the opposite, but I think that is far more telling of Bill’s particular form of elitism than the comic character. Meanwhile, I think there was even a point where Silver Banshee tried to use Batman’s ‘True Name’ of Bruce Wayne against him, and it didn’t work because his ‘True Name’ was actually Batman.
(And Diana is just awesome.)

Pretty sire you meant commissioner and not commisar.

:rainbowderp: Aroo?
*quick Internet search*
:twilightoops: Well, now. That doesn’t mean what I thought it did at all.
:facehoof: Whoops. Thank you. *amends*

I have to wonder about ponies using gloves for calling cards... (Or is it more of a sock?)

It’s more like a sock. A sign of the wealthiest upper class mares (such as Spoiled Rich) is the luxury of wearing soft materials on their forehooves, implying they’ll never have to walk on anything that would tear them. The gloves are usually thrown away after one use; should the evening include such distractions as walking in hedge mazes and the like, a servant will have differently embroidered gloves for the lady to slip on after each activity.:twilightsmile:

Did you mean Moira, or is the police chief's aunt a dwarf? Because I could accept either

:rainbowlaugh: You know, I hadn’t been thinking of the mines, but rather the Irish girl’s name. (I really should have expected this; most of us love JRRT.) But now that you mention it, I could go with either one, as well... :twilightsmile:

Booo.

Heh. I apologize for nothing. :raritywink:

Glad you enjoyed, and thank you so much for the feedback! I’m hoping next chapter will have more Biff, Pow, and Kablam, but we shall see what the ultimate shape of things looks like... :moustache:

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