• Published 3rd Oct 2012
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Equestria Noir Case 11 "Picture Perfect" - Jacoboby1



A missing pony case set in Manehatten. Part of Equestria Noir series

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Chapter 2 "Discoveries"

Chapter 2

“Discoveries”

I was lead into the nearby changing room and was immediately thrown into a chair by the pair of stallions. Before I could get a word in, my hat and trench coat were pulled off me in a rather unceremonious way. I spun around and four mares looked at me. I opened my mouth to protest when my brown mane was yanked by a pink mare with a two toned hair cut that was purple and pink.

“Photo is bringing in stallions now?” She said in a very Manehatten accent, “She’s really shaken up about losing Sweetlight and Fluttershy within months of each other”

A blond mare with a brown coat covered by a green jacket shook her head, “Real shame too. I really like Sweetlight”

“Uh,” I said as my mane was not being styled but seemingly fixed up by the hair stylist behind me, “Listen I was hoping I could talk to you about Sweetlight.”

A rather aloof looking pony with a high orange mane and a green coat simply looked at me, as the first pony worked my mane “You must be the pony who’s going to look for her… you’ll have to forgive us. We’re only taking care of you to help Photo cope with what’s happened.”

The Mare styling my hair smiled at me “Names High Style by the way. When was the last time you saw a stylist?”

“Well usually I’m wearing my hat…” I said slowly

The blond mare from before picked up my fedora “This hat?” she asked picking it up “I must say it’s in pretty rough shape… would you mind if I give it a clean up?”

My hat did look a little dirty. It had been through a lot, and I guess it could use a run down. I simply smiled, “Sure miss…?”

“Pretty Vision” She said with a smile “I’m Photo’s clothing specialist. I must say, it’s unusual for ponies to be wearing fedoras nowadays”

“It was a gift from my mentor… take good care of it”

She smiled and trotted off with my hat in tow.

The aloof one from before looked at me “Listen Detective, Sweetlight means a lot to all of us. We expect you to help find her as much as possible”

My stylist frowned “Don’t be such a downer, Stella. This handsome fella will find her soon enough”

“She seems to mean a lot to you all,” I observed, trying not to flinch as my stylist pulled at a tangle in my mane with a comb.

“She does,” the last mare replied. She was a rather odd looking mare with a yellow coat and a blue mane in the same style as Photo. Her most distinguishing feature, however, was her narrow eyes, "Which is why we’ll tell you whatever we can”

High Style finished up my mane and turned me to a mirror, “Whaddya think?”

I did look good, I’ll admit that. My brown mane was always so shaggy from being stuffed under a hat for years. High Style turned that hat hair into a windswept style, I’m used to seeing on models for stallion mane products. I ran a hoof through it, to allow my bangs to come down a little. I hated it when my mane was yanked back. “There, now has anypony see Sweetlight recently?”

Stella gestured for me to get off the chair, and when I did she ran a tape measure on various parts of my body. “I think Pretty Vision was the last one to see her. Now will you hold still?”

“I hate to ask,” I said trying to remain as still as possible, “but am I just a coping device for this whole business?”

High Style frowned a little “Yeah, a little. It’s just we’re all trying to deal with losing her. This is the only way we know how”

“I understand,” I said as Stella finished up measuring me. Suddenly Pretty appeared with a much cleaner looking fedora. She listened to Stella fire off measurements and the blond mare ran to the clothing rack. The clothing mare picked out a black tuxedo and hoofed it to me “Try this on please”

I slipped the tuxedo on and looked at Pretty as my magic put on the sash “You’re the one who saw Sweetlight last? Where was that exactly?”

Pretty looked thoughtful for a moment, then spoke, “Two nights ago, believe it or not. She and I were at this bar called the Prancing Dragon. She and I had a couple of drinks, and then she started raving on and on about how much she missed Hoofington”

“She was homesick?” I asked as I slipped on the jacket.

“That’s the understatement of the year” Pretty said with a sigh, “Poor gal was crying and she wouldn’t let me comfort her… then she said something odd. That she wasn’t going to be in this town forever…that Photo wasn’t going to keep her on a leash anymore”

Stella rolled her eyes “She was obviously not in her right mind, Pretty” She looked to the blue haired mare, “Powder, would you be so kind as to gussy him up a little?”

“Gussy me? Oh no!” I backed up “I can do the hair and the suit, but you are not putting make up on me!”

Stella simply held her head “Columbia! Tri-Star!”

Suddenly the guards from before grabbed me by my forelegs. Man these guys had good grips. The blue haired mare actually put a hint of makeup on me. I guess it was for the cameras or something. Still I didn’t like some mare I didn’t know pushing on my face like that.

When it was over I looked over at the guards “What about you guys? You guys notice anything odd about Sweetlight lately?”

The yellow pony, I could only guess he was Columbia by his guitar cutie mark “She’s been awfully anxious lately. Just yesterday she snapped at Tri-Star here, when he was trying to help her into her dress”

Tri-Star shrugged, “I thought it was just the busyness of it all getting to her. Photo isn’t one to let her models slack off. Maybe she just couldn’t handle it”

“Maybe if she got a break once in a while…” I heard Columbia mutter under his breath.

Before I could say anything Photo Finish herself entered the room. She looked me up and down and shook her head “Eh, no good. Too masculine”

“Excuse me?” I said, with a raised eyebrow.

“Male models no good” Photo said shaking her head “Not enough variety”

She did have a point I guess. I was just happy when Photo gestured for Stella and Pretty to help me out of the suit. I went to a nearby water basin and washed off the makeup. I hope none of these mares blab to my stallion friends about this. Raiden and Potso would never let me live it down.

I walked out after putting my trench coat and hat back on. As I left the room Pretty came behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to see her looking concerned “Find her okay? Sweetlight is such a naïve little thing. I’m worried she might’ve gotten herself into trouble without meaning to”

“Did she have any enemies?” I asked the blond mare “Anypony who would stand to gain from taking her out?”

“Aside from Photo’s rivals who wouldn’t dare touch her, I can’t think of anypony who would want to harm her. I just hope she’s alright…”

____________________________________________________

The Prancing Dragon wasn’t too hard to find after I got directions from Pretty. The pub was fairly small but well off by the looks of it. When Rarity and I got inside the place was abuzz with activity. Ponies all around me were taking time off work to forget their troubles for a bit.

Rarity looked at me, “We should probably ask the bartender if he was working that night”

I nodded “You chat it up with the regulars. See if anypony was there the night of Sweetlight’s tirade”

Rarity nodded and went to talk with some of the customers. I’ll admit she would probably have an easier time getting information then me. Ponies were much more willing to talk to a beautiful mare then a rugged detective.

I walked to the bar and before I could order anything I heard a very refined voice speak next to me “You won’t get anything out of him”

I looked over and saw an earth pony mare sipping a drink next to me. She had a grey coat, a bit of a lighter shade then mine. Her black mane was long and fell down her back. She had to be a musician of some sort, judging by her cutie mark of a violet Treble clef. Her violet eyes were half lidded as she looked at me “He wasn’t here the night Sweetlight was taken”

“How did you know what I was going to ask him?” I asked curiously.

“I overheard your conversation with that mare” She said gesturing to Rarity who was enjoying quite a bit of attention “The bartender who worked the night the model was taken is visiting family in New Jockey”

“You seem to know quite a bit, miss…”

“Octavia” She said with a small smile “You might have heard of me”

“You’re the co host of The Vinyl Scratch” I said knowingly

She sighed “Also an aspiring musician but I guess I’ll always be known as the one who keeps Vinyl on a reasonable leash” She facehoofed at some embarrassing memory

“So I have to ask,” I said looking over at her. “Were you here that night?”

“Yes, I was,” She said firmly. “I was celebrating after a show that night. Things went fairly well and I came by here for a drink. When I got here around midnight I found that model was ranting and raving. She’d obviously had way too much to drink, and I was worried a fight might break out. So I told the Bartender I was a friend of hers and took her outside to walk the alcohol off”

“That’s awfully kind of you…” I said my grey eyes narrowing “Do you remember at all what she said?”

“She was ranting on and on about her life as a model” Octavia said with a slight frown “Said that Photo Finish was making a bunch of demands for her. That she was getting tired of the life of a model and wanted to go home. That Photo was going to get it somehow,” she shook her head. “I got tired of it after a while so I went back inside for a few minutes”

“Did you go back and check on her?”

“That was where things got interesting,” she said taking a sip of her drink “I went back to make sure she didn’t run in the streets or anything. When I got back outside I saw her getting tossed in a black carriage. It was dark so I couldn’t see the stallions who put her inside, but I do remember seeing the license plate when it rounded the corner into the street where a light flashed it for a moment. I called the police and they put a search out for the car…haven’t heard anything back yet though”

“Do you remember the numbers at all?” I said sliding my notebook to her

She picked up a pencil and began to write down the numbers. I was amazed how much control she had over her hooves. It made me appreciate having magic even more.

When she finished writing the number she gave me back my notebook. “This should help you find those stallions who took her”

“You seem to know an awful lot for a simple musician,” I observed, while putting my notebook back in my trench coat “Why be so open with me? You don’t even know me.”

“I don’t know you, but I know of you,” she said with a small smile. “Let’s just say we both stand to gain from Sweetlight being found”

With that she paid her tab and left the bar without a word. I watched her leave with a sense of curiosity. I’ve met her somewhere before…

_______________________________________________________

A cold rainy night…

A mare crying over the corpse of her mother…

Holes in the victim’s body from gunshots….

Fenlock talking with somepony about taking the mare home…

I walked to her and put a comforting hoof on her shoulder…

Her violet eyes gazed at me in confusion…

I smiled…

She smiled in turn…

____________________________________________________

Rarity and I left the bar. Rarity’s venture to find information was not as fruitful as mine. She was a little surprised that I mentioned Octavia. We talked about her as we walked down the street.

“I don’t know much about her, darling. She was one of the musicians at that disaster of a gala,” she said, shuddering at the memory. “Other than the fact she co-hosts with Vinyl Scratch I can’t tell you anything about her”

“I just can’t shake the feeling I’ve seen her before…” I shook my head and walked to a nearby phone booth. I put in a bit and spoke “Operator get me KGBL”

A polite voice spoke on the other end, “Putting you through now”

“Private Eye, former badge five, one, seven, eleven”

“You again, Private?!” Foundra yelled on the other end, “You plan to almost get me fired twice!?”

“Nice to see your winning personality shines as bright as a cloudy night,” I said flatly. “Listen, I need a favor”

“Look, the last time you asked me to do something Shinebadge almost found out! I know you two go back, but the stallion only has so much patience.”

I ignored her plight, “Do you have a black carriage registered under the license number LAN-5711?”

“I know I’m going to regret this,” she said, as I heard the rustle of papers. “Actually, a vehicle with that same license number was parked in a parking garage on West Klonder Street. It left one night and then came back the very next evening according to the payments the owner made when he left and came back”

“Thanks, Foundra,” I said smiling. “You know, you can be helpful and sweet when I ask nicely.”

“You just quit calling me, or you’ll see how sweet and helpful I can be when I'm kicking your ass!”

Click!

“Mares…” I said, as I hung up the phone and walked out of the booth.

Rarity looked at me, “Another old flame, Private?”

“Nope,” I said. “This one’s always hated my guts for whatever reason.”

“Well she doesn’t know what she’s missing,” Rarity said, her blue eyes becoming half lidded. “I think you’re a very charming stallion”

“Uh… thanks” I said warily. Rarity’s been awfully… friendly lately. I shook my head and began walking down the street. “Come on, we have a carriage to find”

____________________________________________________________

We found the black carriage in the parking garage that Foundra spoke of. It was very large and the back trunk was large enough to house a pony. I used my lock picking skills to open the trunk.

Rarity levitated some rope that was covered in blood “Poor darling…this was probably what they used to capture her…”

“At least we have a lead” Then I noticed the registration on the front. I levitated the pink card and looked at it. “This carriage is registered to…Tri-Star!?”