• Published 12th Mar 2019
  • 683 Views, 62 Comments

Return the Night, or no Deposit - totallynotabrony

Detective Fit is stuck on a case involving a spree of anti-lunar graffiti. There are no clues, and Fit is getting desperate. Desperate enough to call the craziest consultant he knows.

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Chapter 6

Researching Dusty Tome took the better part of the day. That was a little difficult to do just by tracking down connections. Still, Fit and Haven, left alone, managed to put their heads together and turn up a few leads.

Being cops, it wasn’t difficult to go down to city hall and gain access to public records. Dusty Tome had a history of a few addresses under her name, a few accounts with utility companies and registrations.

The two of them met at a borrowed table between rows of filing cabinets and started to put the puzzle together.

“We should cross-reference her first address on record,” Fit said. “Maybe that will be the same as her parents.”

“The joys of family research in a country without last names,” Haven said. She waved a piece of paper. “Or, we could just check her birth certificate.”

“That would be much easier,” Fit agreed. “Glad you found it. I got stuck with homes of record and medical notes.”

Haven put down the certificate and they examined it. Tome’s parents were Acerbic Cure and Library Long. The doctor’s name on the certificate was also Acerbic Cure.

Fit frowned and pulled over Tome’s medical records. Her doctor on all of them was, again, Acerbic Cure.

“Safe bet what he does for a living,” Haven remarked. “What do you think about Library Long?”

“I’m going to go out on a limb and guess Dusty Tome might have taken after her mother.”

They divided again and went to search for Tome’s parents. This was easier. Both of them were former Solar Guards. Not surprisingly, Acerbic Cure was a medic and Library Long had worked in the history division.

“What’s the history division about?” Haven wondered as they met again to compare notes. Both of them had also found a few pictures.

Fit shrugged. “The Lunar Guard only has a few decades of history, so we didn’t have a whole division for it.”

He turned over a page. It was a recent tax record for Acerbic Cure, that listed his employer as the Manehattan EUP hospital. Fit wasn’t sure if he should be surprised or not.

Fit studied the notes again, frowning. “So we have Tome seemingly instigating ponies to paint anti-Luna graffiti. We saw her going to the EUP hospital where her father works. Her father is a former Solar Guard and her mother is a former Solar Guard historian. It looks like their family are the ones who want to go back to the old ways, when the Solar Guard was the only guard.”

“Only circumstantial, though,” Haven sighed. “Well, at least we have suspects now.”

Fit was still frowning. “It can’t be this simple, can it?”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s just...while we don’t have any concrete evidence, it just seems to wrap up too nicely. I can hardly believe one family was behind all this. Mirror said it was a cult.”

Haven shook her head. “We’ve got the perps! We make these arrests and the public will love us! We’ll put this case away for good.”

“But what if it’s a cult?”

Haven rolled her eyes and started to to reply, but Fit held up a hoof. “I’m just saying, if there’s even one other pony involved that we don’t know about, we’ll look bad when the graffitti resumes. It doesn’t hurt to be careful. Not to mention, we still have to gather enough evidence to make a case stick.”

Haven looked at him for a moment, and then nodded. “Alright.” She glanced up at the clock. “We should put all these records back. The ball is tonight.”

Fit nodded and the two of them refilled the filing cabinets that they had scoured.

He made a quick stop at the office to check messages and then headed back to his apartment. Tree Hugger was already there, getting ready for the event. Fit had a quick shower and put on his suit. Tree Hugger wore a purple dress without too many frills. Hoof in hoof, they headed downtown to a fancy hotel where the ballroom had been rented out for the Cop Cavalcade. It was the annual Manehattan police party.

Not surprisingly, security was tight. Fit presented the tickets to the burly door pony and in return he and Tree Hugger were granted passage.

The ballroom was fancy, but looked even better hung with blue and gold streamers. Fit looked around, seeing lots of fellow Manehattan cops, including those from other precincts. Not surprisingly, the conversation was already loud and stood a pretty decent chance of getting more boisterous the longer the evening went on and the more drinks that were poured.

Fit turned in surprise as an unexpected guest approached. He raised his voice over the crowd. “Plowshore, what are you doing here?”

The deputy from the Manehattan County Sheriff's office shook hooves with Fit and Tree Hugger. “I heard they undersold for the size of the venue and needed to expand, so they offered tickets around the city.” He shrugged. “Nice digs, anyway. Good to see you.”

“Who else came?” Fit asked, looking around the crowd.

“There’s a couple of us here. You know Rutabaga, right? I think they also opened it up to the local Guard unit, but I don’t know any of them.”

Plowshore said goodbye and went to mingle elsewhere. Fit turned back to Tree Hugger, sweeping his eyes over the crowd again as he did so. Nosey News was in attendance.

He smiled and came over. “Detective.”

“Who sold a reporter a ticket to a cop party?” Fit asked.

“Sources.” Nosey nodded to him and walked away. Fit followed him with his eyes. He saw Haven coming in the door and waved to her.

She came over and said hello, pausing to trade a quick embrace with Tree Hugger. “You’re both looking good tonight.”

“You’re pretty far out, too,” said Tree Hugger. Haven wore in a red silk dress that complimented her color well.

Haven opened her mouth to reply, but paused, her eyes going to the far side of the room. Fit, instincts well in tune with his partner, followed her gaze.

Acerbic Cure and Library Long were socializing with a group of ponies across the room.

“What is it?” Tree Hugger asked.

“It’s...a work thing,” said Fit. He looked at her. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be, I know you work hard.” She touched his shoulder and smiled. “I’ll get us some punch.”

“What are they doing here?” Haven said under her breath as Tree Hugger departed.

“I heard that the ball was opened up to the Guard,” said Fit. “Maybe somepony invited them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they still know plenty of other guards, or even regular cops.”

“We can’t talk to them here,” said Haven. “Professional courtesy if nothing else.”

Fit nodded, thinking about it. If Acerbic Cure and Library Long did know somepony important, which was not unlikely, it would be even more distasteful to interrogate the pair of them right here and now.

“Well, good thing I’m not courteous,” said Cracked Mirror, walking up and standing between Fit and Haven.

Her mane was combed out and straight. She wore a neat black suit, a purple tie, and a manic grin.

“How did you get in here?” Haven said.

“I bought a ticket.”

“I’m surprised they let you,” Haven replied.

“I called in a few favors.”

Fit tried to think of who in Manehattan could possibly owe her a favor and also who would have access to Cop Cavalcade tickets.

“So who are we not being courteous to?” Mirror asked.

Fit pointed out their marks and told her who they were.

“Tome’s parents are former Solar Guards? That’s some mighty fine police work.” She patted them both on the back. Haven flinched.

Mirror squared her shoulders, straightened her tie, and announced, “Well, here I go.”

And there she went.

Tree Hugger returned just then with three glasses of punch. Fit and Haven both kept one eye peeled to where Mirror approached Tome’s parents, but pretended they were involved in the conversation with Tree Hugger.

“The new flowerbeds they planted in the city park are totally righteous,” said Tree Hugger.

“Uh huh,” said Fit.

“I was thinking of going down there this weekend and just interacting, you know?”

“Sure,” said Haven.

“There’s just something dopamine-inducing about the olfactory sensations from a good plot of angiospermae.”

“Uh huh,” said Fit.

He watched Mirror talk to the two retired Guards across the room for several seconds before he realized his marefriend wasn’t still talking.

He swung his head around to find Tree Hugger staring at him. “I-” Fit fumbled, but there was no point in excuses. “Sorry, Treezie.”

“I know you’ve been really stressed about this case,” said Tree Hugger. “If it’s that important, I’m not going to keep you from it.”

“I’m sorry,” Fit said again.

“Well, this party wasn’t really my speed anyway.” She kissed him. “I’ll see you at home.”

Guilt ate at him as she walked away. Worse, he couldn’t help but feel that it was somehow Mirror’s fault. What trouble had she led him into this time?

Haven, at least, didn’t adopt a told-you-so expression. Fit sighed, pushing aside his thoughts for a moment. Well, to work, then.

Moving together, he and Haven turned diagonally to where Mirror was talking with Acerbic Cure and Library Long. Best not to approach directly. Though, with Mirror there, Fit was fairly sure they were distracted.

On an unspoken cue, the two of them split, moving apart to better approach the action. Fit spotted Plowshore and angled closer.

Fit said hello to the deputy and a couple of the ponies Plowshore was talking to, still sliding closer to his targets. On the other side, he saw Haven doing much the same thing, but not quite as close.

From just a few feet away, Fit got a good look at Acerbic Cure and Library Long, having only seen them in photos before.

Library Long actually was. Long, that is. Not freakishly so, but if Fit were into torsos...well, he’d be gay for Discord, but he’d still notice this mare. She and her husband were both middle aged, as expected of parents who had an adult child.

He still couldn’t quite make out what Mirror was saying over the crowd, but thought that getting any closer would probably blow his cover. Mirror seemed animated enough. Her conversation partners were listening, though perhaps not enthusiastically.

She seemed to come to a conclusion and clapped both of them on the shoulders before turning to walk away, still wearing the manic grin. Acerbic and Library glanced at each other and then began to make their way towards the door.

Fit caught Haven’s eye. Mirror was already gone. He wondered what her game was this time. He and Haven followed their marks from a distance. Sure enough, they casually made for the door, occasionally pausing to speak to ponies on the way.

“I wonder what she said to them,” Fit said.

Haven shrugged.

The two of them followed Acerbic and Library all the way out of the building. The sun had set hours before. Acerbic leaned into his wife as they headed off down the street. Fit frowned. Surely he wasn’t that intoxicated. No, it didn’t look like he was swaying, just maintaining constant contact with the mare beside him.

Fit paused to speak with Haven, but a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye distracted him. Haven also followed his look, up to the rooftop of the building across the street.

In the moonlight there was a billow of cape, and then it was gone.

Fit knew what he’d seen, or thought he’d seen, but he was grateful that Haven was the first to speak.

“You don’t think she put on a Mare Do Well costume, do you?” Haven asked incredulously.

“I...wouldn’t put it past her.” Fit frowned. “But dressing up like somepony else doesn’t seem her style.”

“She’s literally never not dressed like a bat pony.”

Being that Fit didn’t know what Mirror actually looked like, he realized that he had always thought of her just as she appeared, as if it was who she really was. “That’s not what I meant.”

“Well, it’s either that or Mare Do Well is real.”

Fit gestured to the rooftops. “Mare Do Well is real. Or was, anyway. Kind of.”

“Which do you think is more plausible? That your boss has superhero fantasies, or that Princess Twilight and her friends are here to solve crimes as vigilantes?”

The worst part was, Fit wasn’t sure.