• Published 12th Sep 2012
  • 756 Views, 20 Comments

The Collector - gallagsp the corgi

A pony is stealing Cutie marks, can Twilight and Colgate find out who before it's too late?

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Chapter 4

The train whistle sounded, stirring Colgate from her slumber. She stretched and rubbed her eyes. Twilight was still reading her books. This one was really old looking. It looked to be a leather cover and smelled a bit musty. Colgate could barely make out the title because of how worn out it was.

"Ugh, Twilight? I don't think you'll need to know about the ancient art of whiskey brewing."

"Huh? Oh. I didn't want to grab this book. I thought I'd grabbed a different one that looked the same. It does make me kind of thirsty though."

"Me too. I could really use a stiff drink."

"Don't worry about it. We'll get through this."

"I hope you're right. Oh, it looks like we're here." Colgate gestured out the window. The station platform approached quickly. the train lurched as the brakes were applied. Twilight put her books away. They stood and approached the door quickly. Twilight was eager to get going and find this pony to help them.

"Excuse me." a mare pushed by them. Her face was covered by the brim of her hat, and she wore a grey suit to cover her body. Her voice was unusually deep for a mare. It didn't sound real. She left the train and walked off the platform.

"That was strange." Twilight whispered. "I feel that I know that pony from somewhere."

"Yeah, me too." Colgate responded slowly. She shrugged and walked off the train. She slid her bags farther back to cover up her flank once she saw how busy the station was. She swallowed hard and walked past the group of ponies waiting to board the train. They walked through the large walkway to the main chamber of the Canterlot Travel Plaza. Bueautiful archways supported the stained glass dome above. The dome shined with light from the late morning sun. Ponies everywhere were going about their business. Some were standing around talking while others were buying travel tickets or boarding trains or airships to all corners of equestria. Twilight led Colgate through the plaza, knowing very well how to manuever through the large crowds. The scene seemed to put Colgate at ease. Nopony was paying attention to her, thankfully, and she thought the place was beautiful.

Colgate suddenly felt a chill run up her spine. She felt like she was being followed. She looked around in fear. Then she saw somepony looking her way. The same mare from before, standing near a newsstand. When she saw Colgate looking over she quickly turned away, pretending to be interrested in some gossip magazine. Colgate trotted to catch up with Twilight.

"Twilight? I think that mare from before is following us."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because she's actually following us."

"What?" Twilight turned around quickly. The mare tried to hide behind a trashcan but failed. She looked frantically for a way out but couldn't find any.

"Hey!" Colgate yelled. "Why are you following me?"

"Ugh, Who me? I-I'm not..."

"Yes you are! I saw you looking at me and now you're following us!"

"I, ugh, um. Alright. Fine! I'm following you! But I have a good reason!" The mare took off her hat. and shrugged.

"LYRA!?!" Colgate and Twilight yelled at the same time.

"NO! SHHH! It's Agent Heartstrings!"

"Agent Hearstrings? What the hay are you talking about?"

"Look, we can't talk here. Let's go someplace more quiet."

Lyra led the others to a hotel near the station. They checked into a room and Twilight and Colgate sat down on the couch while Lyra sat in the chair next to it.

"Okay, here's what's going on." Lyra started. The way she was sitting made it easy to gesture with her hooves."Basically, I'm working with the Equestrian Intelligence Agency to find this pony that's been stealing cutie marks. We don't know how he's doing it or why he's doing it, all we know is when he takes them, his victims change." She looked to Colgate.

"What? I havn't changed at all! I mean, sure I've been a little moody lately but I just lost my cutie mark!"

"Moodiness is just one of the symptoms we've seen. Others include a burning pain in the flank and hallucinations. And low self esteem, but I don't think that can be considered a symptom.

"Oh. Now that you mention it, I have had hallucinations. Like at the train station." She looked to Twilight, who only shrugged. "I have a question though,"

"Shoot. I'll tell you what I can."

"Why are you working with the government? I thought you hated anything federal like this because you're one of Ponyville's biggest conspiracy theorists."

"That's a long story. Basically they asked me to do this because I have a way of figuring these things out. Plus they kind of promised to forgive my minor criminal record."

Colgate and Twilight stared at her.

"Okay, okay! I get arrested a lot! nothing too major, just tresspassing and snooping around things I shouldn't! It's in my nature!" She threw her hooves in the air. The chair flipped over and fell with a crash.

"Lyra. Calm down. You're being spastic again."

"Sorry. Anyway, we need to find this guy. He's ruining lives and needs to be stopped. So I need you to tell me everything you know about it, alright Colgate?" Lyra pulled out a notepad and a pencil from the endtable near the now-righted chair.

"Okay. I'm getting really tired of telling this story, but here it goes: I was walking down the street after closing my office when I was attacked from behind by a weak stallion with bad breath who coughed and weezed a lot. Then he put a rag to my mouth and I passed out. I woke up tied to an operating table, he used his magic to remove my cutie mark, it hurt, I passed out again, then I woke up in a bush. That's where Twilight found me."

"Actually the Crusaders found you. I just took you to the hospital."

"Right. That's all I know."

"Did you get a look at him? Anything would help." Lyra asked.

"No, he was wearing a mask when I woke up."

"That actually gives us some more information. The other victims I talked to said that he was a brown stallion with bad teeth and a hacking cough. Most of them saw his face, so the fact that he was wearing a mask means he didn't want you to see his face. That could mean two things." Lyra leaned foreward in the chair. "Either he just doesn't want anypony else to see his face because he'll be recognized." She smiled. "Or he did it just for you because you know him in some way."

"Wait, I know him?"

"Do you? Do you know anypony with a hacking cough, bad teeth, and a scar across his nose?"

"No, not that I-" Colgate stopped short, sudden realization on her face. "Sweet Celestia. I know who's doing this."