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Before we begin, a brief letter to the readers of “Get Happy” …

I spent the past couple weeks vacationing in the Caribbean.  'Nuff said.  I wanted to write this story as a tribute both to a beloved show that just got canceled, and to the awesome “noire” banner we had up on the site today.  I promise I'll have Part Eight of “Get Happy” out there as soon as I write the last thousand or so words it still needs.

'Til then?  I sincerely hope you enjoy …

The Chicacolt Code

rewritten for ponies by Freestyle Fiasco

Driving through the city it's easy to see the greatness of Chicacolt, but there's a history behind it the city has never been able to escape.  Growing up, I witnessed first-hoof the effects of the Chicacolt Way....

My father had to pay off city inspectors for building code exemptions.  He had to pay off precinct captains to get the trash collected on time.  He paid off thugs for … protection.

Until, finally, there wasn't any money left.

It broke my father's heart, and cost my parents their marriage.

It's taken me more than 30 years since then, but I am finally in a position of power to do something about it.

“Superintendent Twilight Sparkle … it is my committee that has oversight of the Police Department....”

That's precisely why I went to Alderpony Nightmare Moon that day, but I could already tell by her tone and the way she leaned forward in her leather chair – front and center in the gathering of expensively dressed ponies that sat before the wrought iron emblem of Chicacolt's City Council – my request hadn't made her very happy.  I never thought for a minute that it would – and that didn't stop me from asking in the first place.

It didn't stop me from asking again, either.

“I'm just asking for resources to address one of the city's biggest problems....”

Squandering money that we – do – not – have,” the Nightmare punctuated those last three words by pointing her hoof at me, “On a task force with the vague mission of … city corruption?”

“There's nothing 'vague' about it,” I had to argued, but I had to be careful to keep my tone polite, “You can draw a direct line from government corruption to street crime.  Especially when it comes to drugs and robberies.”

“IF you find evidence of specific crimes and you do not have the resources to investigate THOSE cases,” I was actually surprised – the Nightmare was practically shouting at me, “We will talk about a task force then.  Until that time?  Your request for additional funds is hereby denied.  I'm sorry.”

The Nightmare didn't sound very sorry, not by the way she slammed her gavel down.  I had to keep my face hidden underneath my hat's visor on my way out.  I didn't want anypony to see me smiling.  Though I had to look up again when I got back to the hallowed marble corridors of City Hall, all bright and shining like gold gilded thin over old metal.  Derpy was waiting for me out there, and she would want to know why my meeting with the Alderpony was so … to the point.

“I told you it wasn't gonna happen …” she said in a sing-song voice as soon as I was through the doors.  I'll admit sometimes I forget that there is real intelligence behind those hilarious yellow eyes that wandered off in any direction.  Derpy could always make me smile.

“It was worth a try,” I said when she fell into step beside me.  I hadn't gotten what I went there for – at least not on paper – but believe me, I still got something just as useful.  Information.  Information I was ready to get out there and use.

I didn't get anywhere near the front doors before a voice – cold as any Chicacolt Night – froze me right in my tracks.


I turned around.  There was Alderpony Nightmare Moon herself, walking quickly to catch me.  Her blue eyes were burning, like she was trying to light me on fire with her furious stare, but she didn't say anything when she stopped just a couple hooves away from me.  Not right away.  She was quiet … probably searching for the right words.  It was hard work to make myself act as worried as I should have been anyway.

“I … don't understand the purpose of today's request,” she said at last.

I tilted my head to one side, only hoping I came across as confused and not just smug.

“You weren't clear about what I wanted, Alderpony Nightmare Moon?”

“Are you clear that you wouldn't have your job without my support?” snapped the Nightmare.  But I think even she was starting to see that she was losing her patience, because the Nightmare took a long, deep breath and when she spoke again, she sounded a lot more like she usually did back then – like she was everypony's best friend.

“The next time you have an idea like that, come talk to me privately first.  Save us both the embarrassment.  We're on the same team, Twilight.  And my advice?  Focus on the moral and productivity in your own department.”  She smiled at me – a tense smile that wasn't exactly as winning as she might have wanted – and put her best encouragement in her parting words.  “That's where you can make a difference.”

Make a difference....  At least she understood me that much.  But holding some empty words over my head wasn't going to distract me.  I wasn't just a little filly lying in a cradle.  You couldn't dangle something shiny over my head and leave me to my own devices.  Left to my own devices?  I would find a way to take that something shiny down.

“She put me in this position because she thought I would be her puppet,” I muttered while I finished my walk to the door.

“So what'cha gonna do?” asked Derpy, still at my side.

The answer was simple.  “Cut the strings.  She made me superintendent because she doesn't think I'm capable of taking her on.”

Derpy's eyes rolled around in her head.  “Yep.  You can't without a task force.”

I smiled.  Derpy could always make me smile.  When she wasn't smart, she was simple.

Too simple to imagine what I had in mind – but I didn't mind telling her.

“Then I'll form an unofficial one.”

O  O  O

Ya know when mah Granny Smith hung the Chicacolt PD Badge on me, she told me t'shake hooves with the good folks a this city usin' much respect … but keep a razor-blade hidden in mah mane fer the folks that fergot their manners.

She also told me that whenever ah felt safe … t'remember ah was jus' a dumb Earth Pony – capable as the next o' gittin' mah head shot off.

Now ah love mah Granny Smith, but bless her heart, ah didn't git int'a the Chicacolt PD t'stay all nice an' safe.  That's why ah was ridin' shot-gun in mah own car, doin' 'bout 80 down the inner city streets with another Earth Pony drivin' – mah partner, Lucky –  lookin' so scared ya'd think he wants t'live forever.  Personally?  I ain't got no patience fer the coward.

Comin' up was the next intersection, an' the guy we been chasin' was flyin' down the cross-road with near half a squad jus' two or three car-lengths behind him, all the sirens a screamin'.  He was gonna cut that intersection before we ever got the chance, but ah wanted in behind him – ahead a all the other cops.  It weren't gonna happen, though – not with Lucky drivin' the way he was.  But that was okay.  Ah had mahself an idea anyway.

Had it soon as ah saw the empty, weed-filled field that was the block on our right....

“Cut across!” ah yelled, and without waitin' fer him t'argue with me ah grabbed the wheel and yanked it down so we made a hard right, wheels squealin' like a pack a pigs.

He said somethin' ah don't like repeatin' an' then we went bumpin' straight 'cross the block, each little ditch or hole sendin' us flyin' for all our speed.

“Straight in behind him!  GO!”  We slammed back down hard enough t'give us all some mighty bad whiplash, and swerved in behind the guy right where ah wanted t'be.  The cops were honkin' their horns at us, but ah didn't care none.

Lucky drove us up next to the guy and ah leaned out the window.  That's when the guy – some Pegasus by name a Hoops – pulled a gun in mah face.  'Course Lucky sees this and, like the yella-belly he is, puts his hoof down on the brakes and jus' about totals the squad car behind us before he gits back up t'speed.

“What are you doin'?!” Ah shout over all the other sound, “Catch back up!  Ah know this guy!  He won't shoot!”

“He misses, he hits me!”

“DO IT!”  Ah mention ah ain't got no patience for this coward?

But Lucky was more afraid a yours truly than a gun, so he caught us back up there so ah could talk Hoops down while we rode along on down the road.  “Hey Hoops!  It's me!”

“Applejack?!”  He still had the gun in mah face, hangin' out the window.

“Hey man, what'cha doin'?  Yer fixin' to git yer head shot off!”

“I'm in a stolen ride, girl!” he hollers back, “AND I'm on parole!”

“It don't have t'be a life sentence, man!  Ain't nobody got hurt yet!  Just drop the gun!”

“I dunnno girl …” an' he got this wild look in his eye, “I'm thinkin' about goin' out in a blaze of glory!  You hear those news choppers?”

Ah did.  They just flew in overhead.  But ah still had an ace....

“What about yer girlfriend, Hoops?”



“She's pregnant!”

Ah smiled.  Ah jus' couldn't help mahself.  It was sweetest thing ah'd heard all day.

“It's a boy!”

“No kiddin'?” ah shouted, still smilin' ah suspect, “Where is she now?”

“At the flower shop working!”

“Well c'mon, man!  Les' go an' see her!”

“Don't play games with me Applejack!”  He'd been lettin' that gun down a little, but he picked it back up and jammed it back in mah face then, lookin' like he might even shoot me....  Ah swear ah felt mah heart skip a beat....

“Ah wouldn't do that t'ya man!”  Ah was as honest as the day is long, “Ah'll let you hug her an' kiss her good-bye before ah take you away!”

That gun was still in mah face....

“You wanna kiss Daisy good-bye Hoops?”

Ah was sure he was thinkin' about it....

“You wanna feel yer little man kick?”

His hoof was starin' t'shake.  Ah could see him sweatin'.

“Drop the gun, an' follow us right there.”  He was lettin' the gun down a little all over again, an' he gave the dash in his car one hard look before he looked back at me.  Ah wasn't sure if ah saw tears in his eyes … guess it could'a been more sweat … but....

“C'mon man!  Either ya trust me or ya don't!”

He trusted me.  Everypony trusts me.  It might'a taken one a the longest minutes of mah life, but with his hoof all shiverin' an' such he dropped the gun right there out the window.  That's when Lucky pulled us up ahead a him, so with his car right behind us, an' all those squad cars right behind him, we took our little parade on up to Daisy's flower shop.

Wasn't a long drive – 'specially not when you got as many sirens goin' as we did.  We parked in the middle a the road underneath some rails fer the ol' L-train.  Ah was the first outta the car.

Under the shadows a the tracks, the air was cool an' stank like exhaust an' old things.  It weren't but about 11 in the mornin', but we already had quite a crowd gathered 'round the rusted metal pillars.  All manner o' poor lookin' pony-folk on that corner by the flower shop … but that's jus' what happens when ya bring so many cops int'a this part a town ah s'pose....

Ah had mah saddle-arm ready fer anythin', but ah didn't expect nothin'.  Hoops got outta the stolen car real easy like – kept his hooves where ah could see 'em like a pro 'til ah could grab him an' drag him over to his girl.  She was the Earth Pony jus' comin' outta the flower shop....

“Hoops!” she said, already with some tears in those big pretty eyes o' hers,

“What did you do?”

“Ya got one minute with the kid …” ah whispered in his ear, than shoved him none too gentle into Daisy's hug.  That fool broke mah heart t'make me do this to her....

“I'm so sorry baby!” he said, wrappin' his wings 'round her.

The cops in the other cars had been settin' up their little perimeter fer crowd control, but ah hadn't hardly paid any attention, jus' like ah ain't hardly paid any attention to the cop ah'd got there with 'til he got outta mah car an' up in mah face.  He was mad as a cat in a bathtub....  “You almost got me killed you ass!”

An' he was fixin' t'get me just as mad....  “Hey watch yer language,” ah said, keepin' things courteous while ah craned mah neck t'keep a sharp eye on Hoops, “We got women and children.”

“I said,” he moved so that he was standin' in the way o' mah sight again,

“You almost got me killed.”

Ah sighed.  Ah had been thinkin' to let it wait a spell – we hadn't been partners very long an' yer supposed t'give these things time – but ah knew after that ride ah had only one more thing t'say to that guy.  So ah said it – right there on the street.  “Ya know it seems t'me this partnership jus' ain't workin' out.  Ah'll be sure to let yer lieutenant know to reassign you at our mutual request.”

“After just one day?!” the way his eyes were buggin' outta his head, ya'd think he took it personal or somethin', “Screw you!”

Mah hoof came up to his face so fast ah had to remind mahself ah wasn't gonna punch him out.  Ah sure held mahself back at the last second – and held mah hoof there just beneath his chin while ah leaned in real close.  “Now ah am not gonna warn you 'bout the profanity again,” ah said quietly, tryin' to sound real dangerous, “Kids are listenin'.

Now gimme the keys to mah car.”

He had flinched when he thought ah was gonna hit him, an' ah hadn't, so he looked more an' happy then to gimme the keys an' get gone.  That left me to watch Hoops an' Daisy in peace – like ah wanted to in the first place.

“They really got me girl …” Hoops was tellin' her, “I'm gonna do some serious time.  And I know this probably isn't the right moment … but …”  That's when he took a knee for her.  “Will you marry me?”

Everythin' was quiet – there was nothin' but the sounds a the city.  Ah could feel mahself smilin' like somepony was askin' me to marry 'em.  That lucky mare Daisy was smilin' too.  She was noddin' her head like it might fall off.  “Yeah … I'll marry you....”

But Hoops didn't get up jus' then.  He had somethin' else to ask.

“Will you wait for me to get out?”

There was some warm wetness in mah eyes then … jus' a couple tears.  Ah couldn't tell if they were happy tears or sad tears.  That stupid little pony … puttin' on this show when we both knew what was comin' next....

“Of course.”

Most everypony there started clappin' when Daisy gave her answer.  Ah like to think ah was clappin' the hardest.  Hoops got straight up t'kiss his girl one last time before ah got over there t'drag him off her.  Ah made sure to walk good an' slow both ways, but goin' to the car … even though it might not a been very nice … ah jus' had t'say it to him:

“Honeymoon's over.”

O  O  O

Who's gonna hear you cry?

When there's more of them than there are of you …

Who's gonna hear you cry?

When the High Winds come and they take your breath …

Who's gonna hear your voice?

When fallen ponies wanna cut you down …

And the Sun is gone in the dead of Night in this Town?

Who's gonna hear you cry?

O  O  O

I graduated first in my class and was promoted to 'detective' faster than anypony in the past 30 years.  From there I went undercover, which lead to the largest salt-lick bust in Chicacolt's history.  After that, I was promoted to lieutenant … then captain … then Chief of Detectives.  And when Mayor Celestia's first choice for superintendent suffered a massive heart-attack, I was put in front of the Police Commission as nothing more than a token candidate, but I won them over with my passion and bold ideas.  When I was Applejack's partner, I told her I would be the city's first female superintendent in ten years flat.

It only took me eight.

“Detective Applejack!  I've been looking for you....”

I had been – but I finally found her sometime around the middle of the day on a small business intersection, standing over a dead body surrounded on all sides by police tape and squad cars.  She smiled when she saw me walking her way.

“Superintendent!” she waved a hoof while I ducked under the perimeter,

“Welcome to mah litterin' case!”

“Littering case?” I glanced down at the Earth Pony lying at our hooves and counted at least twelve bullet holes in her very dead body, “How is this not a murder?”

“It's a misdemeanor murder we already solved a couple days ago,” answered Applejack, circling slowly, always keeping her eyes on the evidence, “Roseluck, gang hit at that salsa club.”

There were times when Applejack's … less than professional attitude frustrated me, but there weren't many other ponies that could make me feel like laughing at a crime scene.  Still, we had rules for a reason.  “Don't call it a 'misdemeanor murder'.”

“What?” said Applejack, sounding like I shouldn't have a problem with it, “Gang-Banger kills another gang-banger?  Ya didn't mind so much when ya rode with me.”

“I'm not a beat-copper anymore,” I kept my reply curt, and I think Applejack saw my point, “So what is two-day-dead Roseluck doing blocking traffic?”

“Welp, Superintendent,” Applejack lead me over to a mortuary at one corner of the intersection, where two snakes coiled around a crown had been spray-painted beside the broken front door, “Ah reckon the Black Magic Crew that killed her broke int'a the funeral home, dragged the body on out here, an' put another dozen or so bullets in her.”

I tapped my hoof against my chin while I thought about what I had been told.

“So … it's really more of a parking violation than a littering case.”

That made Applejack laugh a little.  “Well put this in yer parkin' meter,” she said, turning back to the body, “Roseluck right there is Bluegrass's cousin – an' accordin' to Hoops –”

“Oh.  That Pegasus whose wedding you presided over yesterday?”  I had to ask.

“Engagement,” my question earned me a sarcastic smile along with Applejack's answer, “An' accordin' to Hoops, who's in lock-up with him, Bluegrass has already heard 'bout what they did to his cousin.  So this is not a good day t'be the superintendent....”

She had a point there.  Bluegrass would be a free pony by the end of the day, and he was the leader of the Terra Saints.  Forget the murder, after this humiliation, that meant the Terra Saints Earth Ponies would absolutely go to war against the Black Magic Unicorn Ponies.  And it didn't matter which two gangs went to war, when they did, the Chicacolt PD would always get caught in middle – right alongside all the innocent.  No matter who won, I lost.  And – like this one good friend of mine – I hate to lose.

I think the way I was frowning must have worried Applejack, though, because she tried to change the subject.  “So what brings you round these parts?  Jus' miss me?”

I forced a small smile and let my answer be the distraction we both needed then.

“I have a job proposition for you.”

“Ah'm not interested,” the way Applejack's eyes got wide when she spoke, I could almost believe she was … scared, “Ah heard about yer 'reassignments'.”

That made more sense – since I'd never seen Applejack scared before – but it wasn't why I was there.  “Oh no, those are lazy or incompetent officers,” I said, “You're neither.”

“Yeah …” Applejack looked a little more at ease, but I could tell she wasn't any less suspicious, “There's still a right way t'do things....”

I raised an eyebrow at her.  “This from the pony that dumps her partner every few days?”

Applejack rolled her eyes at me.  “Shoot, Twilight.  Still holdin' a grudge?”

I wasn't – really – but years of experience had taught me better than to argue about it with her.  Besides, I had more important things to argue about with her that day.  “What do you know about Photo Finish Construction?”

“Big City contracts.  Lot of money.”

Trust Applejack to take a pony straight to the point.

“Well guess who owns Photo Finish?” I asked, “Not officially, not on paper, but really?”

“The Nightmare.”

“Alderpony Nightmare Moon,” I grinned, “You're as sharp as ever.”

“There's the compliment,” she said with a wry smile, “Now here comes the slap.”

“There are two fresh bodies lying in Grant Park.”

Applejack nodded knowingly.  “An' ya think they got somethin' t'do with the Nightmare?”

She only had to see my pleading gaze for half a second to know she was right.

“I'm putting together a task force and –”

“No!  No no no no no no no,” she had turned and was already walking away, “Count me out!”

“Applejack!” she only stopped because I got in front of her, “Please!  Just take a ride and … and make sure the investigation is going smoothly!”

Since the first day I'd spent with Applejack, I'd always suspected she had a soft spot for me.  I had lasted longer than most of her past partners – almost two weeks – and when she did have me reassigned, I was so sure it hurt her more than me.  But at that moment?  I didn't care if genuine affection or simple guilt or any other emotion went into play behind those mesmerizing green eyes of hers – as long as it got her in a car driving in the direction of Grant Park.  I tried to look like … a damsel in distress.  Applejack likes those....

She sighed, scuffled her hooves, but it didn't take longer than a couple seconds for her to surrender.  “Fine,” she said, sounding just as upset as I expected her to be, “As a favor … ah will take one look.”

That's all I would need.  “Great!” I smiled when I saw the pony standing behind Applejack – everything was proceeding precisely on schedule, “Detective Rarity will join you.”  Applejack turned around to meet the most beautiful Unicorn Pony in Town – by far the most feminine pony in the Chicacolt Police – which had won her the title of 'the CPD Princess, affectionately of course.  “Detective Rarity is one of the Elements of Harmony.”

Applejack glanced over her shoulder at me.  “Elements a what now?”

“The Elements of Harmony,” I corrected her, “The task force I'm putting together.”

“Well that's jus' about the worst name fer a task force ah ever heard,” Applejack stifled a  laugh, “Who came up with that train wreck yer callin' a name?”

“Excuse me....”  Rarity had really liked the name a lot when she suggested it to me yesterday, but I think her tone had more to do with the hoof she was still holding out for a friendly shake.  It was just too bad that she had a ways to go before Applejack would be feeling friendly.  She looked at the hoof but didn't take it.

“White Sox or Ursa Minors?”

I guess that was the Moment of Truth.

Either Rarity would prove herself to be the detective we all needed or …

“White Sox of course.”

I hadn't even realized I was holding my breath until Applejack grinned and dropped her keys into Rarity's hoof.  “Go git mah car.”

“Excellent!” said Rarity, flashing her picture-perfect smile, “Where is it?”

“Yer the detective!  You tell me!”

O  O  O

And there ain't no road just like it …

Anywhere I've found …

Runnin' South on Lake Shore Drive …

Headed into Town …

Yeah I'm just slippin' on by on LSD …

Friday Night trouble bound …

The radio had been the only sound ah had to hear since ah picked Rarity up from the crime scene over on the West Side.  Ah didn't mind, though – there was a good song playin'.  Matter a fact, we were jus' gittin' to mah favorite part when Rarity went an' turned the volume down on mah radio.  She was busy watchin' the road, though, so ah reckon she didn't see the look ah gave her.

“So …” she said, that wispy little voice o' hers nice as a mockin' jay's,

“Did you … see the latest issue of Pony Vogue?”

Shoot.  She sure was pretty but she weren't too smart if she thought ah looked like the sort o' pony that would see the latest issue of Pony Vogue.  Ah had a hunch on how long this one was gonna last....  “Ya know what the problem with mares is?”  ah asked.

She stole a look at me.

“They're distractin',” ah said, “Ah’m locked in a car 12 hours a day ah need a male partner.  No disrespect.”

She nodded, eyes on the road.  “A-alright.…”

“The stories you have heard 'bout me ain't true.”

“Anything else?” She spoke with a little bit o' back-bone that time around.

“Ah don't appreciate profanity.”

Then ah reached over to crank the radio back on up.

Then it's four o' clock in the morning …

And all the ponies have gone away …

Just you and your mind and Lake Shore Drive …

And tomorrow is another day …

Yeah the sun shines fine in the morning time …

Tomorrow is another day …

The song was gittin' done by the time we got outta mah car.  We'd parked not far from the Buckingham Fountain – biggest fountain in Chicacolt.  Days like these you were standin' anywhere near that fountain you were gonna get wet – all that spray blowin' in on the wind – but not that day.  That day, we had a crime scene to preserve.

Pity too … ah could'a used a little cool water in mah mane.  The sun was ridin' high, reflectin' off the yellow stone they put down around the Fountain.  'Course there were a lot o' police tape and a lot o' squad cars – pretty much the same old perimeter ya saw at every crime scene.  Ah ducked under it an' strolled on up to a white Unicorn Pony with a bright blue mane, standin' over two dead Pegasus Ponies – a stallion an' a mare.

“Vinyl Scratch!” ah holler on mah way over, “What'cha got?”

She looks up jus' long enough to shake mah hoof hello.  “Well we got a marriage that ended in ways unkind.  Husband and wife joggers.  Flash Bulb is a reporter for Equestria Daily and Cloud Kicker is an accountant for Photo Finish Construction.”


“Oh yeah.  They be dead,” Vinyl Scratch sighed, “We got zero leads.  This one sucks.”  That's about when the fact that ah was even there finally got to her.  “Hey, what are you doing in this part of Town anyway?”

“Twilight Sparkle threw me into a task force.”

“Oh yeah?” Vinyl Scratch tilted her head jus' so ah could see mahself in those goggles o' hers, “What's that?”

“Ah ride all around the city, listen to the radio,” ah told her what Twilight had told me, “An' hijack any case ah want from the primary detective.”

Those same goggles ah could see mahself in so well made it awful hard to ever see what was goin' on with Vinyl Scratch, but somethin' 'bout her frown told me she weren't none too pleased where all this was goin'.  “Since when is this?”

“Hey Princess.  What's the time?”

Rarity checked her watch fer me while she was busy bendin' over the mare's body.  “1:22.”

“New policy commenced 1:21,” ah said, an' tried to smile real sympathetic like,

“Official notification: ah'm takin' over yer case.”

“That's ridiculous!”  An' here ah was hopin' she'd go quietly …

“The Egg-Head's giving you that kind of juice?!”

“C'mon,” ah still wanted t'keep it civil, “Twilight Sparkle ain't no 'Egg-Head' – she's the superintendent.  That kind'a juice.  So let's huddle up here and come up with a new plan o' attack, 'kay?”

Nope.  She weren't buyin' none a the apples ah was tryin' to sell.  Truth is there ain't a lot'a detectives in Chicacolt that know how t'share.  So it didn't surprise me much when Vinyl Scratch just up an' walked away.  Oh well.  Only meant more fun fer me....

“She's got headphones on but no iPod in her saddlebags …” said Rarity, thinkin' out loud, “A robbery in The Loop … I suppose it's possible … but....”

“Yeah so is the Ursa Minors winnin' the World Series but ah'm not gonna call mah bookie....”  Ah had already been thinkin' the same thing, but ah was gonna give the girl some time alone with the crime scene to catch up t'me.

There's a lot a noise ya get used to hearin' in this work, an' ah knew what the clamorin' of reporters meant before ah even saw Twilight Sparkle gittin' outta her car.  Derpy – poor girl – was doin' everythin' she could t'keep 'em back while Twilight an' me walked over to meet at one quiet corner a the perimeter where we could keep our heads down.

“You have your look?” she asked.

“Yer welcome,” ah answered.


“It don't smell like a stick-up.”

She smiled … all sly and such.  She thought she had me.

“What does it smell like?”

Ah had to tell it like ah saw it.  “It ain't a robbery.  It's a hit.”

“And one of the ponies in those sky-scrapers,” she said, stickin' a hoof out at the skyline, “Thinks they've gotten away with it.”

“That's 'cause in this Town they're always gittin' away with it.”  Ah wasn't sure why ah was gittin' so worked up – whether it was Twilight actin' all naïve when we both knew good an' well she wasn't, or it was mah own stupid self gittin' interested when mah Granny Smith had taught me better.  Ah'm just a dumb Earth Pony....

“So you're in?”

Oh but she didn't get me that easy.  Ah still had some fight in me.

“Hey Rarity!” ah hollered to the girl, “You comin' or you wanna catch a bus?”  Ah like a pony ah don't have to tell nothin' to twice, an' Rarity got right up t' follow me to mah car.  “Ah'll stop by Photo Finish Construction on mah way back to the Station,” ah grumbled to Twilight over mah shoulder, “But it don't mean ah'm in!”

Soon as we were away from all other ears, Rarity started with the questions.

Least she had the good sense to ask 'em quietly.

“We can really take over any investigation in the City?”

“Yer 'Elements a Harmony' can,” ah said, “Tomorrow ah go back to the real world.”

“Any reason we're walking away from the crime scene?”

Then it was mah turn fer a question....

“Ya ever been to Photo Finish Construction?”

O  O  O

Some ponies don't know that – in some cases – being superintendent of the Chicacolt Police Department means spending more time going in and out of the cramped, cold concrete holding cells than the criminals themselves.  In the case of Bluegrass – the infamous leader of the equally infamous Terra Saints … well … he just didn't know what a 'superintendent' was....

“Superintendent?” he said, grinning like a starving wolf from across the stainless steel table between us, “That like some kind of janitor or something?”

I smiled, more than happy to explain it for him.  “Superintendent means I am the highest ranking police officer in Chicacolt.  Every cop in this city answers to me.”

But Bluegrass wasn't paying attention to my little lesson, because he'd suddenly taken an interest in Derpy, who was standing right behind the chair I was sitting in.  “Oh yeah?  And how did the Wonderbolts miss out on initiating your goofy lookin' ass, feathers?”

“I like muffins.”

“As you know …” I spoke loud and fast, hoping to capture Bluegrass's full attention again before he had a chance to read something into what Derpy had said, “This morning members of the Black Magic Gang removed your cousin's body from its mortuary, placed it in the street, and shot the corpse numerous times, so I've come respectfully – leader to leader – to inform you my Department will be enacting revenge on your behalf.”

Unpredictable as a Chicacolt winter storm – and just as dangerous – he lunged forward across the table so that his face was close enough to mine that I could smell his breath.  It wasn't pleasant … but flinching – even blinking – could get a pony killed in this kind of position.  “And how do you plan to do that?” he snarled.

“If you agree to remain peaceful multiple raids will be initiated on Black Magic residences and illegal operations.”  I tilted my head so slightly to one side, but it forced him to lower his if he wanted to keep eye contact with me.  Now our positions said I was the pony that was threatening.  “Get in the middle of this fight, though … I return the favor …”  And I put nothing friendly in my final word.  “Respectfully.”

I knew that when he relaxed back in his seat, I had won.  I was the big dog in this cage.

“I get released at midnight,” he said, shoving a hoof in my direction, “You've got 'til then!”

O  O  O

Photo Finish Construction is one o' those sky-scrapers downtown where the money is, and walkin' int'a the lobby, they make sure ya see that.  Granite floors … marble pillars … gold fixtures … all polished 'til ya can see yerself in the reflection – and that works 'cause the type a pony that hangs out 'round these parts probably likes t'look at themselves a lot.  Rarity was right at home – happy as a hog in the mud – but ah couldn't shake the feelin' that it cost more money to make this place than ah would ever git in mah life for defendin' the good ponies in this City.  Real shame if ya ask me....

“Now when ah say the word 'institution' you come down here an' pull that fire alarm.”

“Won't it spray ink?” asked Rarity, those azure eyes of hers all wide with worry.

“That what they told ya in school t'keep you an' your rascal friends in line?”

One short elevator ride filled with bad music later, ah was standin' in front of a bunch a cubicles way up there on the floor where ya can see clouds out the window, Rarity by mah side with her pen an' paper-pad out to take notes.  There were 'bout five ponies in front of us, an' so far none of 'em had been helpful.

“I'll have to get clearance to schedule interviews on company time …” one stuck-up lookin' Earth Pony mare was frettin'.

“Sure thing,” ah said with a smile, “We just wanna determine why somepony'd want'a hurt Cloud Kicker like that....”

“Why would anypony do that?” asked a fat Unicorn Pony stallion real sarcastically.  He was laid out in a chair ah felt sorry for … way it was saggin' under his weight....

“Honestly sir ah don't know....”  Ah was busy runnin' mah sights over the other three.

There was a Pegasus Pony mare that jus' looked confused, and another Pegasus Pony mare that looked really scared.  The last pony was an Earth Pony stallion, an' he looked really scared too, jus' not scared enough.  When ah looked in his eyes, an' he looked down at his hooves, ah knew he was the one.

“Would ya say this is a good institution to work for?” ah asked.

That fat Unicorn nodded.  “Yeah, I guess so.”  And Rarity kept right on scribblin'....

Was she serious?  Ah had half a mind t'slap that girl upside her pretty head, but all ah could do was tried again.  “So this is a good institution?” ah said it real slow.

“Oh.  I forgot my purse in the car....”  Finally Rarity figured it out, an' gits herself gone.

That jus' left me to stall for a spell 'til the alarms went off.  Then, in all that hustle an' bustle of gittin' everypony out safe an' sound, ah slipped mah card to the Earth Pony stallion ah had picked out from the bunch an' quietly told him t'call me when he got outside.  Sure things got a little shaky there for a second, but in no time ah was back down on the street with Rarity to watch the firetrucks roll in 'round the crowd pouring outta the front of Photo Finish Construction.

She sure was poutin' when ah walked over to her, but ah still say it serves her right for messin' around with mah best laid plans.  She held her hoof up fer me t'see – the one covered in red ink.  “It won't come off.”

Ah just had mahself a little laugh, an' took the phone outta the pocket a mah jacket when it started ringin'.  “Detective Applejack.”

“Hi.  It's me.  Why did you want me to call you?”

“Ah jus' wanted t'give ya the chance to talk t'me without yer co-workers listenin',” ah explained mahself to him, “'Cause you do know somethin' useful, right?”

“Cloud Kicker was crunchin' numbers on the big Lake Shore Project.  Sealed bids are due to City Hall next week – it's us an two other companies.  Cloud Kicker said someone … at the top … knew what the other two secret bids were....”

“Were bribes involved?” ah asked.

“That's right.  She told me she might blow the whistle to somepony at City Hall.”

Ah sighed.  Twilight was lookin' more right every minute ah stayed on this case.  “Look, ya did the right thing,” ah told him, “Now say 'ah love you too honey' an' hang up.”

“I love you too honey.”

Ah stuffed mah phone back in mah jacket pocket an' forced a grin for Rarity.

“He said he loves me.”

O  O  O

On a crisp winter day only 15 years ago killers disguised as police officers massacred  six gangsters in a Lincoln Park garage.  It was Valentine's Day, and the message was clear: Soarin' had seized control of the Wonderbolts Gang, and it earned him his place as Public Enemy Number One.

The pony in my job at the time, Sheriff Silverstar, did what any good Chicacolt cop would do: he declared a war.  Less than a year later, losing that war, he lost his job.

Applejack wasn't the first pony to have heard about my recent 'reassignments', and before I was done, she wouldn't be the last pony afraid of them.  Because if there's anything Sheriff Silverstar's Saint Valentine's Day Massacre taught me, it's that you can't fight the bad guys when your ponies are the bad guys.

“A dozen citizen complaints in the last year?”

I flipped through a few more notes in the file.

“A citation for 'misplacing' your firearm?”


I glanced up over the rim of my reading glasses at the huge stallion sitting across from my desk at the Station.  His name was – appropriately – Big Mac, and he had been an officer in Applejack's squad back when Applejack was a beat-copper.  The main difference between the two was that Applejack was now Chief of Detectives, and Big Mac was still a beat-copper.  The reasons for that were as endless as the notes in this file....

“You've really built up quite the resumé Officer Big Mac.”


If Big Mac was being disrespectful, I had no way of knowing.  Nopony had ever heard him say much more than one or two words at a time.  Still, I could tell he wasn't as worried as he should have been, but that probably had more to do with the Union Pony sitting by his side – a boring blue Unicorn Pony that preferred to be called 'Pierce', even though most ponies called him 'Pokey Pierce' behind his back.

“Well according to Union Regulations you don't have any cause to dismiss Officer Big Mac,” said Pokey Pierce in that self-important way of his, “So if you're here to give him a written reprimand, then just give it.”

“Oh you misunderstand,” I said, trying to sounding pleasant, “I'm here to promote Officer Big Mac – to Captain …”  I was watching Big Mac nod slowly with the most satisfied smile I'd ever seen, which only made it all the more satisfying for me when I said:

“… of Mops and Brooms.”


“We have a supply closet downtown that recently some mops and brooms have gone missing from,” I explained the job's description, “In your new position, you will report to that supply closet to ensure that no further cleaning equipment is stolen.”

The look on that pony's face was priceless.  When I was finished with what I had to say to him … he had been shocked speechless … which I suppose wasn't much of an accomplishment considering he basically never said anything anyway.  Still, that couldn't even compare to the show he put on after the moment of silence....

“You're … pulling my client off the street?”

“Well as you pointed out yourself I can't fire him so …”

For all those years Big Mac had nothing to say to anypony but “ee'yup”, he certainly had a lot to say to me then.  I imagine it was like watching the Hoover Dam burst.  He slammed his hoof down on my desk, which nearly split the thing in half.

“I've got 15 years on you in this Department and you're only coming after me?!” he shouted.

“You and the hundred other worthless ponies that make the rest of my 10,000 great cops look bad!” I shouted right back.

“You think you got questionable rank-and-file support now lady?!  Wait 'til I spread the word about this crap!”  He put his face in close to mine.

“I am already starting to spread the word myself.  After all, it isn't a deterrent unless other officers here about it.”  And I put my face in close to his.

“You … smug … little … BITCH!” Big Mac stood up so fast he flipped over his chair, and Pokey Pierce had to leap to his hooves to try and hold him back, “THIS IS MY LIFE!!”

“But it's my City now,” I answered, standing up to face this sorry excuse for an Officer that was at least twice my size, “And I can't take on the rest of it if I can't keep my own Department clean.”


I let him have his tantrum while I went to get my jacket.


Derpy opened the door for me, and I smiled on my way out.  I left Pokey Pierce trying to calm his client, looking like he might wet himself, while Big Mac – actually starting to foam from his mouth, eyes all red with rage – ranted at me the whole way down the hall.


O  O  O

Ah had t'wait fer the Superintendent of the Chicacolt City Police Department at the big front door to City Hall.  Sheriff's orders.

It was a beautiful late afternoon.  Sure it was a little hot 'round the middle of the day, but the weather was shapin' up jus' fine with that breeze a blowin' in off the Lake.  All blue skies and puffy white clouds.  Shame there had to be a little raincloud over mah head....

Ah reckon the way ah was grindin' mah teeth kept Rarity quiet 'til Twilight's car rode on up between two shiny black tactical jeeps, windows all tinted so ya couldn't see the security detail inside.  The royalty always knew how to arrive.

Derpy got out first an' opened the door fer Twilight.  She was smilin' an' at first I thought she was smilin' at me, which was funny 'cause ah sure as Hay weren't smilin' at her, but when she spoke it was to the pony at mah side.

“Congratulations!” she said to Rarity, “Her last three partners didn't make it past lunch!”

“Yeah well we ain't stop fer lunch yet …” ah grumbled.

“Listen,” said Twilight t'me, losin' the smile, “Alderpony Nightmare Moon called me personally.  She wants an update.”

Yeah.  Ah'll bet.  “Our canvas scared up a good suspect,” ah said, “Vicolick addict, gun conviction, seen 'round those parts just prior to the shootin'.”

“Good.  I want you to take the lead with the Nightmare.  Just keep it vague.”

Ah could tell Twilight was already wound up 'bout any number a things, but ah had mah troubles too and ah weren't in no kind'a mood t'be anypony's political meat shield.

“Oh so it's mah tail on the line?”

Twilight was already walkin' in when mah sass got her to turn right 'round and come back down those steps, fixin' to jump all over mah disrespect.  “Applejack I'm right here with you!” she snapped.

“Look, can ah have a word?”  Ah took her on over to a shady patch under a tree that ah thought we could talk a lil' more privately 'round.  “Now ya know ah like to fight the good fight just as much as the next pony, but ah ain't ready to go walkin' in there,” ah pointed at the towerin' twin doors to City Hall, “An' start throwin' haymakers at heavy-weights like the Nightmare.”

When ah got mah tone level – that's when Twilight felt like levelin' with me.  “Well what if I told you that the Nightmare was working with the Pegasus Mob?” she asked, real reasonable.

“The Wonderbolts?  Ah've heard the rumors an' ah ain't seen any a the proof.”

“Then how's this for 'proof',” she said, “I've got an officer working undercover in their organization.”  She topped that off with one o' those clever smiles o' hers.

She thought she had me there – an' sure ah'll admit that she could'a been talkin' 'bout some mighty big guns – but fer all ah knew it could'a jus' as well a been nothin'.  So ah had to ask …  “How long?”

“Almost a year,” she answered, jus' as smug as ya please, “She's working her way up, and pretty soon she's going to give us the connection to the Nightmare.  So what do you say to that?”

Ah had to grin.  There was only one thing to say to that.

“This fight just got fairer.”

O  O  O

Some wonder why the same ponies get elected over and over again.

It's because somepony got Blueblood's family the zoning variance they needed.  It's because somepony got Spitfire's street racing citation brought down to a simple speeding ticket.  Somepony did that for them … and that somepony …

… is me.

“Come in!”

They say Chicacolt is the City that Works …

“Ma'm, Superintendent Twilight Sparkle.”

And now, I'm looking at one pony that can't seem to understand …

… it works in a lot of different ways....

“Twilight!” In my career I almost never stop smiling, I'm used to it, but lately I've had to remind myself to smile when Twilight Sparkle comes into a room, “I didn't think I'd see you again so soon!”

“Me either,” she says as she shakes my hoof.

“I'm sorry about yesterday.”

She smiles.  She knows I'm not sorry.  “This is my Chief of Detectives, Applejack.”

The guest she's brought me looks anything but a Chief of Detectives.  She's barely dressed any better than some of my … unofficial friends.  She smiles simply when I shake her hoof.  “Honored t'meet'cha, ma'm.”

“A pleasure, I'm certain,” I allow myself a small laugh, “Can I get either of you ladies a drink?”

“No thank you.”

“Can't drink on the job, ah'm afraid.”

“Trixie,” I cast a side-long glance at my lovely secretary, “Just a scotch for me, please.”  I like the way Detective Applejack can't take those verdant eyes off me, so just for fun I grin seductively at her and ask, “Is it too early for scotch?”

“Not by mah watch.”

“Have a seat,” as they take theirs, I take mine back behind my desk, “So this … murder … that happened this morning....”

Applejack supplies me with the names.  “Flash Bulb and Cloud Kicker, ma'm.”

“That kind of butchery in my ward …” I shake my head slowly, my tone somber, “Unacceptable.”

“Well hopefully we can eliminate this kind of crime in the entire City,” Twilight Sparkle seems compelled to interrupt me with those obnoxiously altruistic and completely unrealistic ideas of hers.  It takes all my self-control not to simply have her gagged.

“I am an optimistic pony, Twilight,” I sigh, “But I am encumbered by living in the real world.  In places like Humboldt Park … we'll catch them where we can … but in my part of Town?”  Here I let real venom into my voice.  “We will catch these degenerates and nail them to the side of City Hall.”

The blend of fear and … admiration … I can see in Applejack is exquisite.

“So,” I take the glass that Trixie gives me with a wink to remind her she'll have her reward in the evening, “What do you know so far?”

“Well canvas landed a real good lookin' suspect,” Applejack tells me, “His name is Dollar, an' he was seen 'round those parts just prior to the shootin'.”  That said, Applejack takes a folded paper from her jacket's pocket and passes it to me.  “Two separate witnesses ID'd him from his mug-shot.”

Unfolding it, I see the grainy picture of exactly the pony I expected them to suspect:  a male Pegasus Pony; brown coat, blonde mane, gold eyes.  “Ya can see from the sheet he's no stranger t'violence.”  Indeed, the paper came complete with a detailed list of his previous … escapades.  It was a long list.  “So this is just a … Vicolick addict's stick-up gone bad?”

“Probably,” Twilight Sparkle stands up to snatch the paper out of my hooves with a … nervous … smile, “That's what we were thinking.”

“We were also thinkin' a lookin' in to the wife's work: Photo Finish Construction,” adds Applejack as she stands up to take the paper from Twilight Sparkle, “She was int'a some Big City stuff so we jus' wanna cover our bases there....”

No doubt it hadn't been intended for me to hear that, or Twilight Sparkle wouldn't have any reason for which to glare so frigidly at Applejack.  Thank Celestia for the simple minds … but the information she let slip didn't interest me.  So I smiled, and said:

“Keep me appraised of what you learn.”

Which I knew very well would be nothing.

“And in the meantime …” I stood and slid around my desk to rest a hoof on Applejack's solid shoulder, “Anything you need, any resources or … other services … and I mean anything....”  I grinned and let my little pony's imagination do the rest of the work.

“Thanks for stopping by.”

O  O  O

I had to wait until we were beyond the closed doors of Nightmare Moon's office and down the stairs before it was safe to yell at Applejack.  She had forced my hoof.

I made her stand in the corner on the landing between two floors.

“So you just … give her the name of our suspect?!”

“Look,” she sighed, “If the Nightmare really is hooked up with the Pegasus Mob this ought'a put her int'a play.  If ya don't like the way ah do things, why ask for mah help?”

I felt like screaming out in frustration.  I couldn't decide what hurt worse: that Applejack had openly disobeyed a director order to keep it vague, or that she was flaunting her attitude in my face right there in City Hall.

“Please tell me we know more than what you just told the Nightmare....”

I was sure that she had something if she was acting that arrogant toward me....

“That dead Pegasus was gittin' ready to blow a whistle on her bosses over at Photo Finish Construction.  They're cookin' the books, under biddin' bribes to downtown....”

“And you can tie this directly to the Nightmare?” I asked.

“Nope,” she answered.

I was wrong.

And I lost control at Applejack's 'aw shucks' routine.  Under all that pressure … I just couldn't take it anymore … and I cracked.  I hate to admit I turned on her … Applejack … one of my closets friends … but once I started, I couldn't make myself stop....

“I am trying to get two of Chicacolt's most bloodthirsty gangs to lay down their guns before midnight!  I am taking on the Police Union and a hundred … pissed off … recently demoted – armed cops!  DO NOT force me into hoof-to-hoof combat with the second most powerful pony in Chicacolt after Mayor Celestia unless –”

“Whoa,” she shut me up with that one word, and pointed over my shoulder back in the direction of Nightmare Moon's office, “Way more powerful than Mayor Celestia.”  She was only as sympathetic as she could afford to be and only as stubborn as she had to be.  “If ya want'a take on corruption,” she said to me, “This is how it's done:”

I never forgot the lesson I was taught standing there that day....

“Use much respect an' keep a razor-blade hidden in yer mane.”

O  O  O

Applejack's the pony who woke me up to tell me my father had been … k-killed.

She hugged me and told me that I was her responsibility from that day on.

She showed me how to take care of my pet bunny … Angel....

And when I told her I wanted to go to the Academy just like her, she didn't just sign me up, I know she helped get me in early.

Because of Aunt Applejack, there was a very long time when I was the youngest pony on the Force.

Back in those days, I rode with a partner who liked to eat a lot of donuts, and her favorite bakery was a place called SugarCube Corner, on North Western.

We were parked outside there for the third time that day when Aunt Applejack's car pulled in next to us.  I got out to give her a big hug....

“Hey there Sugarcube!” Aunt Applejack used to give the best hugs back then.

I snuggled into her jacket and breathed in the wonderful smells from my fillyhood – gun metal and Kevlar – until she put a hoof under my chin and pushed my face to the side to see the …

“Let me see that.”

 … the … the bruise on the side of my face … she saw it....

“Hi!  Applejack!  Who's your friend?  Ooh!  Don't tell me!  I've seen her around!  I know her name!  Is it Princess?  No that's her nickname … okay so I don't know her name!  Can you tell me her name?  Hey you!  What's your name?”

I was … scared.  I know there's only one thing in Chicacolt my Aunt Applejack hates more than me getting hurt, and that's …

“Pinkie Pie!” she yelled, looking really mad, “Git yer bouncy butt over here an' explain why yer partner is banged up like you ain't doin' yer job right!”

Pinkie Pie jumped and slid across the hood of our squad car so that she landed next to Aunt Applejack.  “Oh it was such a neat story!  So there we were in a …”

But Aunt Applejack didn't want to hear the story....

“O-kay I'm gonna talk to mah girl alone....”  Aunt Applejack didn't usually listen to any of Pinkie Pie's stories … not really anyway.  I squeaked when she grabbed one of my wings and pulled me over to the other side of the squad car.

I hoped I wasn't in trouble....

“Are you sleepin' with her?”

Oh I couldn't help it … my wings just went straight up with a whoosh.  I was so surprised … I … I didn't know what to say!  “Oh goodness no … nothing like that....”

Aunt Applejack didn't look like she believed me at all.  “Ah ain't stupid....”

I wasn't lying though … not at all.  I had to find a way to prove it....

“Um … cross my heart and hope to –”

“Oh fer the love of everythin' good left in Chicacolt!” yelled Aunt Applejack, “Cut that out!  I believe ya already!”

I was … glad.  I don't like sticking my hoof in my eye very much....

“Pinkie Pie's too … random,” Aunt Applejack was lecturing me, “She's gonna go down one a these days an' she gonna take somepony down with her.”

“I'm being careful....”

“Yeah.  Ah can see that.”  Aunt Applejack sounded awful sarcastic.

She was finished scolding me, though … I know because she walked back over with me to where Pinkie Pie was still standing next to that other pony … I … I think her name was … Rarity.  She looked a little scared of Pinkie Pie....

“So then she says oatmeal and I'm like oatmeal that is –”

“Will ya give it a rest already?!” Aunt Applejack sure was yelling a lot that day, “We didn't come t'hear none o' yer crazy stories!  We came t'ask ya what'cha know about any Elements a Harmony?”

“Ooh!  Ooh!  I know!” Pinkie Pie was hopping up and down, “That's SUPERintendent Twilight's SUPER secret special task force!”

“Uh huh,” poor Aunt Applejack looked so disappointed, “An' how d'yall know that?”

“Because we're IN IT, silly!”

“Both of y'all?”

“Yep!  Me and Officer Fluttershy!” Pinkie Pie put an arm around me and pulled me close, which I thought was … nice … but it still made me blush, “Best of Buddies!  Beatin' up bad guys all over the City because SUPERintendent Twilight Sparkle asked us to!”

“Twilight asked ya t'be on the task force?” Aunt Applejack seemed surprised,

“She didn't jus' hand ya orders to do it?”

“Oh no … she only asked....”

“Well then why didn't yer tell her to shove it?”

“Silly!  We're beat-coppers!  We can't do that!” Pinkie Pie laughed, “That would be talking back to the SUPERintendent!”

“Yes …” I agreed, “Twilight is Top Cop.  It would be … disrespectful.”

Aunt Applejack sighed and put a hoof on her forehead.  I just hated to see her so upset … but before I could even try to cheer her up by telling her about the arrest I made all by myself that morning, she looked up and started talking again.

“Well as long as yer in, I've got a job fer you two....”

O  O  O

Ah kicked in the door.

The place was as fifthly as the filth that lived in it.  Second floor … always the second floor with these guys … an' windows all plastered over with yellowed newspaper glued to the panes with Celestia only knows what.  There weren't so much proper furniture as there was jus' these big piles a garbage in places, stinkin' things spillin' out onto the floor....  Weren't fit fer no animal to live in.


But ah didn't put mah saddle-arm up as ah moved in, real slow an' steady like they teach ya in the Academy.  Scan left to right.  Aim where yer lookin'.

Rarity was right behind me, so ah let her take the bedroom.  Somethin' smelled 'specially funny in there, an' ah didn't want none of it on me.

Ah tried to breathe through mah mouth, but it still made me feel dirty inside.

It got darker as ah went deeper … sorta like a cave ah s'pose …

… or a lair....


When Rarity hollered her 'clear', ah knew we were safe enough, though truth of it was ah always suspected.  We caught Dollar out in front a his place before we even let ourselves in.  Ah'd left Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy to cuff him an' take him back to process  fer questionin' later.  That jus' left me an' Rarity to …

“Shouldn't we call the evidence team for this?”  Rarity joined me in what Dollar must'a called a livin' room, lookin' like she was about ready to trade in her badge if it'd buy her a ticket outta this hole I had her in.  First the ink then this … ah was puttin' the poor thing through real Hell on her one day ridin' with me....

Ah felt mahself smile.  Huh … hope she learned somethin'....

“No evidence team,” ah said, “Elements a Harmony means 'secret task force', which means –”

“We are the evidence team,” Rarity finished it for me.

Ah took another look around.  “Ya know it always amazes me how well crime pays …” ah said sarcastically, but then ah spied the TV – one of those really nice 'plasma' things that takes up near half a whole wall.  “Always the big TV's with these guys!” ah grin, “C'mon!  Let's dig up the remote an' see if the game's on!”

“No …” said Rarity while she was leafin' through some papers, “The game doesn't start until seven....”

“You mean the Ursa Minors game 'cause the White Sox don't play today,” ah said through a jaw clenched tight.

She knew she was sure busted the second she looked up an' saw me starin' at her.

Oh she was lookin' scared lemme tell you – an' with good reason, too.

“I … I grew up on the North Side …”

“Ah knew it … ah knew it …”

“My father used to watch every …”

“Ya dirty rotten lyin' Ursa Minors fan …”

“We had Score …”

“Ya thought ya could weasel yer way int'a mah good graces …”

“And Madden and Pony Joe …”

“By pretendin' to be a White Sox fan!”  By then ah was right up in her face …

… and the neat thing was …

“Well what was I supposed to do?!”  She was right up in mah face too.

Ah think we both started grinnin' at each other jus' about the same time, but ah couldn't be sure, 'cause just then there was a knock at the door to the dump.

“Dollar!  Open up!”

We both got our saddle-arms ready and went fer the door.  Ah put mahself in front, so ah could swing the creaky thing on open, and that's when we got our first look at Dollar's guests.

Two ponies, one mare and one stallion, both Pegasus.  The mare was pale blue like the sky an' had her raggedy mane an' tail dyed 'bout every color of the rainbow.  The stallion was the color a mud with a wild mane an' tail the color a dirt.  They were both dressed like punks.  They both looked real hungry … fer one thing or another....

“Whoa … easy there …” said the stallion when he saw our saddle-arms.

“Hello,” Rarity sounded real genteel, “Can we help you with something?”

The stallion's answer came real careful.  “We are just here to see Dollar....”

“Yeah?” ah said, “Well come in!”

On mah word we each grabbed a Pegasus and pulled 'em inside.  Ah got the stallion, an' ah kicked the door shut behind me while ah slammed him up'side the wall so ah could start searchin' him down.

“Whoa!” he yelped, “You want to buy me dinner first?”

“What's yer name?” ah asked.

“The Doctor.”

“Doctor Who?”

“Just –” he made a funny noise when ah put a hoof over one a his pockets, “The Doctor.”

“Yeah ah'll bet …” ah muttered, lookin' fer that thing in his pocket.

“Screw this!  I'm out of here!”

Rarity's catch almost got away, but she didn't get too far 'fore I turned around and hit her with both mah hind-hooves right in her face.  She went down an' ah went to drag her back up against a wall.  “You take that one!” ah told Rarity, “Ah'll get this big mouth!”

Rarity did like ah told her to and ah got down to friskin' the mare all over again.  “C'mon big mouth, spread 'em!”  Ah shoved her harder int'a the wall, “You gotta big mouth, don't'cha?”  Ah caught a look at her Cutie Mark – a cloud with a rainbow lightin' bolt comin' outta it.  “You wanna tell me yer name big mouth?”

“It's Gilda!” she answered through a face full a dirty drywall.

“Well it sure is a pleasure, Gilda.  Who sent ya t'find Dollar?”

“Your little sister,” she laughed, “Just after I got done three-wayin' her and your big brother!”

That earned her a second helpin' a both my hind-hooves, hard as ah could kick, right to her back.  “Yeah?  How's yer three-way now?”  She crumbled like corn bread, but never stopped laughin' on the way down.  This one was a real piece a work....

“Oh you want some more?”

Ah wouldn't a minded workin' on her some more, but Rarity was there t'hold me back.  “You wanna git on out mah way?!” ah snapped, “Ah ain't finished with her yet!”

“Yes.  You are,” Ah swear Rarity sounded like she was talkin' to a misbehavin' child,

“We have their names.  We can bring them in at any time.  You are done.”

Way I was still shook up 'bout my brother bein' mentioned … well Rarity was lucky she didn't get hit.  Ah guess ah was still too stunned by that tone she took with me … 'cause ah jus' took a deep breath, real shaky like, and stuck a hoof in that Gilda's direction.

“I'll be seein' you later!”

O  O  O

Going undercover is like living in limbo.  You step out of your life and you're still walking and breathing and talking but it's not really you – and the longer you're under the harder it is to remember who you were.

My real name is Rainbow Dash.  I was the youngest behind a brother that loved basketball and a sister that got whatever she wanted.  My life was hand-me-downs and waiting for the bathroom.  And privacy?  Forget that!  In my family, everypony knew everything about you.  There were no secrets … and you were never alone....

I would give my wings to have supper with them again … but that's gonna have to wait.

Because that night I had plans to go return some of the pain Applejack had left on me!

I wasn't gonna fly for a week....

I was still sore from earlier when I took my walk across Fallen Field sometime after the sun went down.  Between these two flags – the Chicacolt City Flag and the Equestrian Kingdom Flag – is this polished white stone police call the Wall.  It has a ton of stars on it and the names of the officers that used to wear them.  There's a pool of water in front of the Wall, and floodlights down in that water, so when it's dark the light catches in the waves and creates all these creepy reflections across the whole thing.

She was waiting there for me – alone.

“Next time pull your punches!” I said as I stepped off of the grass, onto the pavement and into the light.

She sort of smiled.  “It don't play as well.”

This pony was really ruffling my feathers.  I mean what, did she think this was some kind of game or something?  “Twilight Sparkle was the only pony that was supposed to know I was under,” as nervous as I was, I tried to sound that angry, “The more ponies that know, the more danger I'm in.  You got that?”

Applejack didn't look impressed.  She just sort of moved her head in the direction of the Wall.  “You know any ponies in that wall?”

I couldn't believe it.  She actually looked up my Cutie Mark and called me out here for a face-to-face to play who's got the better sob story with me?  The whole thing was so stupid!

“Go on.  Take a look.”


I scanned the stars and their names and picked out a pony in ten seconds flat.  I moved in closer and stuck my hoof at it.  “Guy I graduated Academy with?  Died as a rookie.”

“Yeah guy ya gratudated Academy with died as a rookie somepony ya barely knew …” Applejack brushed it off as she came over to stand beside me, “My brother is on that wall.”

No.  Way.

Suddenly the pounding I had taken from her was making some sense … but …

… there was just no way….

I smirked, and watched her face closely when I asked:  “Where?”

“I dunno,” she said to me, and it could have just been the weird light, but I thought I even saw her eyes start watering, “I never look.”

I was sold.

I understood why Applejack had smashed my face in.

Horse Feathers … even I sort of wanted to smash my face in....

I didn't know what to say to Applejack anymore, because I definitely wasn't going to say sorry and thanks for beating me up.  I guess I was lucky then that wasn't what she was after, because just a second of awkward silence later she had a question for me.

“Did you an' yer pal show up at Dollar's t'do him some harm?”

It was a stupid question, so I answered like she was stupid for asking it.

“We were gonna tell him to skip town!”

Applejack sighed.  “An' what would you have done if Dollar was there 'stead'a me an' yer friend called an audible an' put that pony in the ground?  Now what would you have done then?”

I … didn't have a good come back.

“Yeah ah thought as much.”  She poked me hard on the head.  “Now you report to me.”

“No I'm gonna talk to Twilight Sparkle and –”

“No ah already talked to Twilight Sparkle an' yer gonna talk to me!” Applejack just started shouting so that I had to shut up, “Starting with what is goin' on!”

I knew the routine.  I gave my report.  “Everypony's in lock-down mode.  Soarin' wants every Pegasus wise-guy at Photo Finish Construction tonight.”

I couldn't read how Applejack was taking that … but she kept talking.  “Ah have the trigger-pony for the Lake Shore murders, but ah need the money-mule that can connect him to Photo Finish Construction.”

“I've heard my crew whisper a name … I don't know what it means …” I had no clue how it was going to be helpful, “but the name's Ziggy.”

“Well that's better'n nothin' …” said Applejack, talkin' softly before she said: “An' ah need you t'get closer to Alderpony Nightmare Moon.”

“Pht!  Dream on!”

“Oh ah'm dreamin'....”

“I've been under for almost a year!” Applejack just wasn't getting it, “I'm so close to the top I'm sleeping with Soarin's only daughter – Spitfire – and I've never even seen Nightmare Moon!”

“Ah have a hunch after tonight ya will – an' soon!”  She wasn't even smiling when she said it.  This pony was serious.  “We good?”

My heart was pounding like I just broke the sound barrier.  “You tell me.”

She didn't.  She just sort of … started walking away.

I watched her go for a second, then took another look at the Wall … saw all those stars shining back at me in the watery light like the glossy eyes of dead ponies staring … and this wave of panic just hit me.  I shouted at Applejack:

“How many of these ponies did you know?!”

The words she shouted back made me feel sick.

“Take care o' yerself, Gilda – I don't wanna know any more!”

O  O  O

I had a date that night with the Chicacolt Police Department Chief of Detectives … a very late date … because she's a very busy pony.

Not that I'm not a very busy pony as well, it's just that I know how to show up on time.

Spike's is my favorite a restaurant, a business casual place on Kimbark Avenue.  I like the atmosphere: stone walls … candle-lit gloom … clean white tablecloths … the scents of burning basil and sage....  They all remind me of the happy times in my life.  I celebrated my graduation from the Academy here with my class and I've always ordered the same thing since.  Glass of water and a daisy sandwich, with a salad to start.

I was already almost finished with my salad by the time Applejack took her seat across the table from me.  “A beautiful mare eatin' all alone?” she said with an uncomfortable smile, “Ya scarin' 'em all off?”  I felt myself blush.  She was … probably just being nice because she was worried I would be angry with her for showing up to dinner late … and I might have been … but I felt like I had been angry at Applejack enough for one day, so I smiled for her and finished swallowing my last bite of salad.

“Do you think it's the gun?”

Applejack grinned, relieved by my reaction, and picked up her menu.  She used to make a point of ordering something different each time she ate at Spike's … as sort of her way of making fun of me … but each dinner we shared over the years made it harder and harder for her to find something she hadn't tried before.  Some nights she would spend a very long time staring down at the menu … but it never bothered me … because I enjoyed watching her think....

Too many ponies make presumptions about Applejack … that because of where she's from or the way she talks … that because she's tough or sometimes she doesn't look before she takes a leap … that she's not smart.  But you can't judge a book by its cover, and Applejack is the type of book you could read for a lifetime and still never know by heart.  She's such a mystery to me … so wildly passionate … and at the same time … so deeply thoughtful.  She's the Chief of Detectives because she sees what nopony else can see, and she's my closest … friend … because....

I had to stop.  I was getting dizzy, so I took a sip of the red wine I'd bought for the table.  I looked away from Applejack and started up some small talk while she worked through the menu, the two of us sipping wine every once in awhile to keep the conversation easy.  By the time she ordered, I was ready to talk business.

“We have four hours until Bluegrass's midnight deadline,” I said, “Any ideas on how to stop the fireworks?”

“Ya git a message to the Black Magic Crew,” she said, leaning in a little, “Tell 'em if they don't hand over the grave-robbers by 11 yer gonna start hittin' the homes a the women an' children.  Sometimes the only thing them varmints appreciate is the warmth of a

mare an' –”

“A home-cooked meal …” I finished, smiling, “And how is that any different than –”

“Me?” Applejack winked, “Guess it ain't.”

The sad thing was that her plan would work, too … and I hadn't been able to think of a plan even half as good in the four or five hours since my raids had failed.  It only took Applejack four or five minutes to solve one of my biggest problems, but I was only getting started.  If that grin of hers meant she was satisfied with herself … oh I had other problems for her to solve....

“In the meantime Alderpony Nightmare Moon is calling me every hour....”

“A'course she is.  She's scramblin' t'cover her tracks.”

“Well do you have anything that might scare her?” I asked.

“Gilda gave me the name of a pony that might'a paid fer the hit,” she answered, “Ziggy.”

“If we use it … that might expose Gilda's cover....”

“Not if ah let 'em think the shooter gave it t'me himself.”

Celestia I wanted her when she was being smart like that....

I smiled and put my hooves together beneath my chin.  “You know what you said to me once that made me know you would do this for me now?”

I could tell she didn't before she answered.  “Nope.”

“You told me your Granny Smith hated politicians like the Nightmare.”

Applejack laughed and shook her head slowly.

“She also told me if ya poke a dragon ya better do it with a shotgun.”

O  O  O

Twilight Sparkle … the problem that wouldn't go away....

She had the audacity to ignore most of my calls that day, and then she strolls up to my office in City Hall just as I was getting on my coat to go home.  At least she has the decency to bring her delightful Chief of Detectives to make herself more … palatable.

“We have the shooter in custody.”  She tells me nothing she couldn't have over a simple phone call.

“Thank Celestia....”  I think I actually feel one of my eyes twitching, “So what was this … a random drug crime?”

Applejack shakes her head.  “No ma'm.  Was a murder fer hire.  Wife was the primary target.”

Unbelievable.  Simply impossible.  For a single second, I find it … difficult … to keep my composure … but surely they're bluffing.  “How do you know that?”

“Shooter confessed,” Applejack answers, “Said he was hired by somepony named Ziggy.”

The sheer cowardice of someponies never ceases to astonish me.  Still … if Dollar thought he was safe behind bars … he would soon find I had ways of punishing his shortcomings even in prison.  And I had to ask … “What was the motive?”

Applejack spoke while I sat down behind my desk.  “We believe Cloud Kicker was targeted 'cause a the work she was doin' fer Photo Finish Construction.”

So he had told them that....

Twilight Sparkle came forward, so smug, so certain she had triumphed.  “We should have warrants to search Photo Finish Construction first thing tomorrow morning.”

Impressive.  Impressive indeed.  Regardless … as resourceful as Twilight Sparkle was proving herself to be … she would not find the proof she needed to worry me.  I had already seen to that.  So I smile, and say:  “I'm sure that won't be necessary.”

“There some reason ya don't want us t'search Photo Finish Construction?” asks Applejack, perhaps a little too eagerly.

“Not at all,” I answer, “What I meant was that it won't be necessary for you to get a warrant.  I know the owner of Photo Finish Construction.  She's a friend of mine.  If it will help, I'll get you full access right now.”

Twilight Sparkle … the problem that wouldn't go away....

Well if she wouldn't go away … then I'd simply have to make her go away....


The door to my office opens for my favorite Unicorn.

“Get me Photo Finish on the phone.”

O  O  O

Photo Finish Construction was swarmin' like an angry bee hive, even though t'was close to 10 at night.  Ponies were all scurryin' 'round cubicles an' copy-machines an' such.  Ah was goin’ straight down the middle through it all, real business like, Twilight on mah right hoof while Derpy, Pinkie Pie, an' Fluttershy had mah back.  Ah told those three what t'do.

“Bring me anythin' related to Cloud Kicker or the Lake Shore Construction Bid.”

Assumin' a course Soarin's varmints had left anythin' like that lyin' around....

The girls got to work an' left me alone with Twilight.  “Do you really think if there was anything incriminating to the Nightmare we'd be standing here right now?” she said under her breath on the walk over to the dead pony's desk.  Ah didn't, an' ah said so.  “Nope.”

We found Rarity waitin' there fer us, lookin' real worried 'bout somethin'.  She was jus' jumpin' outta her skirt to tell us what.  “The first officers on the scene caught those two trying to sneak out the back,” she waved a hoof in the direction of the same two Pegasus Ponies we'd run into at Dollar's place earlier that day.  Couple a beat-coppers had 'em sittin' quiet on the side.  “Recognize them?”

“Yep,” ah answered her like it weren't no big thing, “They're the two from the shooter's apartment.”

“The one with the rainbow mane, Gilda,” said Rarity, still all excited, “There's something different about her.”

“W-what?!” Twilight's voice was as squeaky as a mouse.

Ah had to cover fer her.  “Ah dunno.  She seems like yer regular knuckle-head t'me.”

“Yes.  She talks like that type.  She even looks like that type,” Rarity just weren't gonna let it go, “But she's smarter than she lets on.”

“Git that from chattin' her up fer a minute, do ya?” ah said as skeptical as ah could.

No,” whined Rarity, “I get it from the way she scans the place.  I can see the gears moving inside her head.  That's not the mind of some low-life muscle.”  She fixed me with that puppy-eyed pleadin' stare o' hers nopony can figure out how t'say no to jus' a'fore she asked:  “Can I please bring her in for questioning?”

Ah chanced a glance at Twilight.  She looked like a pony caught with her pants down … an’  Rarity didn’t even know she was spankin’ the Top Cop hard, makin’ her look real stupid  … so ah s'pose that's what made me smile just a'fore ah gave the Princess what she wanted.

“Go tell Fluttershy to tag 'er an' bag 'er for ya.”

Rarity didn’t wait around fer anypony to have a change a heart.  She was outta there jus' in time fer the Nightmare and some fancy dressed Earth Pony wearin' goggles sorta like Vinyl Scratch t'show up.  “Superintendent Twilight Sparkle,” the Nightmare put Twilight's hoof in the other pony's hoof, “The owner of Photo Finish Construction, Photo Finish.”

“Miss Finish....”


“Why do you have so many ponies here tonight?” asked Twilight.

“De night iz when we make … de magicks!”

Ah couldn't tell if she was tryin' t'be cute with Twilight or if she was actually outta her mind.  Truth was ah could barely make sense a what she was sayin' anyway....

“Tell her about the guy,” ordered the Nightmare.

“We haz de guy who sellz us de metalz.  Hiz name iz Ziggy Stardust.  He waz in de Town but he go'z back to de Manehattan on a plane that leaves at 10 tonight.”

“10 tonight …” Twilight took a look at her watch, “That's in 15 minutes!  It's too late to go through the channels and stop it!”

“So ya'll believe this Ziggy Stardust might harbor terrorist intent?” ah asked.

Photo Finish didn't follow.  “What?”

Ah just shrugged an' smiled, all sly an' such....

“Call O'Hare.  Tell 'em a suspected terrorist is 'bout to take off.”

O  O  O

The same holding cell I had sat in with Bluegrass that same day … only then I was on the outside looking in through a pane of one-way window, watching Applejack and Rarity play together with their new toy – the one I brought them back from O'hare.  I smiled … seeing the two of them having so much fun … it was like watching a game of baseball....

And I was there to root root root for the home team....

“C'mon Ziggy we're done here!” shouted Applejack.

“This is over Ziggy!” shouted Rarity.

Everpony could tell this was the last inning....

“Why'd ya want Cloud Kicker dead?  Huh Ziggy?” asked Applejack.

The poor icy maned Earth Pony looked like he might crack and start crying any second.

“I didn't even know the lady!”

Foul ball … foul ball....

“Then why ever are you sweating like we just entered you in a spelling bee?” asked Rarity, holding her hoof out for a high-five from Applejack, which she received while she took a seat across the table from Ziggy.

Rarity throws to Applejack....

“'Cause yer startin' t'figure out that we know the shooter ID'd ya as the same pony that paid him five grand t'do the deed!” answered Applejack, circling around and around the room like some sort of shark.

Applejack catches....

“Ziggy,” sighed Rarity, “We know the story.  We just want to hear it from you.”

“This ain't a who-done-it,” said Applejack, “'Cause you did it!”

The wind up for the throw....

“We've got all night Ziggy …” Rarity leaned in across the table.

“Let's wrap this up …” Applejack leaned in over Ziggy's chair.

There's the pitch....

My little detectives had to let him hyperventilate for a few minutes before he found his voice again.  Applejack got off the back of Ziggy's chair and went to lean against a wall, waiting for him to catch his breath so he could give it all up.

“The Nightmare wanted her gone.”

It's a hit....

I saw Applejack raise an eyebrow.  She and I both knew it was too good to be true.

“The Nightmare put out the hit on Cloud Kicker herself?”

“Well no …” Ziggy swallowed hard, “I was talkin' to Photo Finish –”

“Photo Finish gave the order on behalf of the Nightmare?” Rarity cut in.

“Yes.  No!  Not exactly –”

Turns into a fly out....

“Which is it?!” snapped Applejack.

“She made this … point … to tell me that this pony was turning into a real ass....”

“The Nightmare made that point?” asked Rarity.

Rarity tries to steal a base....

“No,” answered Ziggy, “Photo Finish made that point.”

“But the Nightmare wanted her dead?” asked Applejack.

“She didn't have to say that....”

And she's out....

“So what?!” Applejack was across the cell and on him before I could blink, pounding her hooves into the table, “Ya tellin' me nopony ordered the hit on Cloud Kicker?!”

“She was turning into a real ass!” screamed Ziggy, tears streaming out of his eyes,

“That's all she had to say!”

They both strike out....

Both Applejack and Rarity glanced back over their shoulders at me through the one-way glass.  They couldn't see me frowning.

Because that was the game....

And I might have felt then like my team lost …

… but the real loser, the most pathetic excuse for a pony I've ever rested eyes on, was left crying and sniffling, shivering in his seat … looking at us like we were out of our minds …

“You need to know these ponies!”

O  O  O

I heard my momma cry …

I heard her pray the Night Chicacolt Died!

Brother what a Night the ponies saw …

Brother what a Fight the ponies saw …

They always had that same, terrible song runnin' on repeat down in the Garage, dronin' right along underneath all the noise a the heavy gear – the shriekin' a saws cuttin' metal apart an' the cracklin' a welders stickin' it back t'gether, the rumble a engines and the hiss of exhaust....

Ah had mahself a little challenge tryin' t'keep up with Twilight while she was dodgin' around squad cars an' duckin' under salvage … a reckon she was walkin' so fast 'cause she was in such a fowl mood.  Ah swear … that pony was gonna stress her heart t'death one a these days....

“Now Twilight,” ah said, a little loud 'cause she was gittin' ahead a me, “Ya got the trigger-pony and the money-mule.  That ain't nothin' to turn yer nose up at.”

“But we didn't get the Nightmare....” she was poutin'.

“Ya know the thing ah never said to you is that mah Granny Smith went after the Nightmare back in her day,” ah told Twilight that as a put mahself in her way, hopin' that she'd learn somethin' if ah stopped her to listen good an' hard to the moral a the story,

“If Granny Smith couldn't get her, nopony can.”

Somethin' 'bout the way she smiled … ah could tell she ain't learned a thing.

Then she said t'me: “There's always tomorrow.”

Well that was jus' real cute a her.  Cute as could be.  Tryin' to play it all coy, 'stead a just askin' me if ah was in or not.  Truth of it was – despite everythin' mah good sense an' mah Granny Smith had told me – ah'd been givin' her Elements a Harmony a much longer shake than ah'd meant to … an' once a pony got in past the waist … well … then there weren't no way out....  So ah had mah decision already made.  “Ah gave you a day.”

Ah knew what she'd try next.  Not a chance ah was lookin' in Twilight's eyes.

“That's it?”

“That's it,” ah was set an' ah wasn't budgin'.

“We're putting together a good team …” I heard her say while ah stared at mah hooves,

“Pinkie Pie's 'pinkie sense'.  Fluttershy's 'flutter-rage'.”

“Now what'd ah tell you about sayin' stuff like that?!”

Ah made the mistake a lookin' up at Twilight then.

She was jus' smirkin', though. “Fine,” she said, “Fluttershy's enthusiasm for fire-arms.”

Ah didn't take too kindly to the talk that went 'round the Department 'bout Fluttershy … even if it were only true.  Put a gun in that girl's hoof an' she was liable to put a lot a extra holes in everythin' else.  Sorta scary … but handy in a fight.  Still, Twilight ought'a known better by then to bring it up 'round me like that.

“Then there's Rarity …” Twilight nodded in the direction of that dainty detective, who was over doin' somethin' to the inside o' mah car, “She picked something up with Gilda.”

“Yer girl Gilda's gittin' sloppy.”

“Or Rarity has better instincts than you think....”

Ah took a real long look at Rarity and only came up with one complaint.

“Too bad she's an Ursa Minors fan.”

Stuck as she was makin' herself on the subject a her dream team, ah honestly have no idea how much more a her time Twilight might'a wasted standin' there tryin' to sell me if Derpy hadn't called her from down in the repair pit.  Her car was ready to go.  So was I.

“It's time to deal with Black Magic …” she smiled, an' ah could see by the spray of the sparks all around us it was a sad smile, “Wish me luck.”

Ah wish ah had.  Ah wish ah'd done a lot of things different then when ah still had a chance … but ah didn't say anythin' to her.  Ah was too tired, an' Twilight rollin' out meant all ah had left t'do was clamber on in mah car an' –

“I cleaned your car!”  Ah'd fergot Rarity was still behind the wheel, waitin' there for me patient as as a saint an' grinnin' like the Cheshire Cat on crack.  “Where are we going now?”

Ah was gonna need more'n one drink t'wash this day off my mind....  “Look … Wrigley Field …” ah swear it would be the first time ah actually didn't want to, “This partnership ain't gonna happen.  Ah'm not an Element a Harmony.”

“Oh … o-of course....”

She got outta mah car an' got in.  Ah closed the door an' kept both mah hooves and mah eyes on the wheel while ah said ‘em - the old familiar words that never felt so wrong t’say. “Ah'm sure Twilight will reassign you at our mutual request.

“I … understand....”

Ah felt like ah was kickin' a puppy.

“I just want to thank you.  I considered it a privilege to ride with you today.”

Ah didn't want to take no more of this.  Ah wanted to drink – a lot.  Ah twisted the key in the ignition to get the engine runnin' … an' gave mah partin' regards to the ex-partner …

“You stay safe Rarity.”

O  O  O

W  hen Twilight  Sprakle found me I was    12     years old and w orki ng    as a watch   dog for a drug   dealre!!     They were      the        best d  ays years   of my life  !

Sh e   was jus t starting a    thinga-ma-jig for geting bad poines like meinto school   and that's w  hen she    got mad at me   about              mygrades!! !


S he told me    to join t  e CPD and I said o  kay      and            when I ran     away bacoose    I want  ed     to be a couch-muffin    she drag ged me straight     back to  –

O  O  O

Three shots.  Center of body mass.

The first shot hit me in the chest as I stepped out of the car.  It knocked me back and I slid to the ground beside the front wheel.  The second shot and the third shot both hit Derpy in the chest as she stepped forward to defend me.

She fell and landed across my lap.  I grabbed her gun from its holster.

I saw a shadow gallop across the street and I fired three shots, center of body mass.

I missed completely.

I heard tires screaming against asphalt as the shadow's car took off.  I fired three more shots and managed to blow out one of the car's breaklights before it disappeared down the road.

Then I was alone, and that's when I noticed warmth running down my face and soaking through my clothes.  I looked down at Derpy in my lap, bloody feathers brushing against my cheek.  I tried to say something but I couldn't make my throat work.  I tried again.

“Officer down!  Officer down!”

O  O  O

Chief of Detectives Applejack....

There are so many stories I don't know which ones to believe.

My personal favorite is the one about how she held off an angry mob with a hunk of pine – but not just any pine: a legit Chicacolt White Sox Big Stick Bat.

A crowd had heard this guy was a rapist … crowd turned into an angry mob … ya know, it was one of those things.

But Applejack had a hunch, and she stood up for that.  Later, evidence cleared the guy.

Ponies say Applejack's so honest her hunches are always the truth.  All I know is that she had a hunch about me getting in to see Alderpony Nightmare Moon – the most powerful pony in Town – and then there I was by the end of that same evening.

“Your guest, Alderpony.”

I just … hoped … I had what it takes … to stand alone and protect this City from....

The Nightmare was sitting at her huge expensive desk.  The windows behind her were open and even though the lights of downtown were shining bright as ever, there was a shadow around her.  It was weird, though … she was in the dark, but I could still see those cold blue eyes of hers … like they had their own light or something.

Those eyes had a pretty clear message for anypony that even thought about stepping out of line: she could and would make you disappear.

I was so busy trying to keep up the act and look like the self-confident punk I had to be that I could barely hear Octavia the Newspony for News 8 talking in the background.

“Shots fired at the corner of …”

“It's a real honor to get to meet ya, Miss Moon,” I cracked a grin, “Everypony around here says you are The Mare.

I thought that was a good way to start the conversation....

“Soarin' says you can be of some use to me with … constituency services....”

There was only one right answer to that.  “I'm up for anything.”

I swaggered over to the chair on the other side of her desk and tossed myself over it.  I kicked back, put my hooves behind my head.  She never stopped staring.  She didn't even blink.  It was seriously creepy … but I had my game face on, and I was in my zone …

… right up until I accidentally heard something Octavia had to say....

“Twilight Sparkle lying shot in the street …”



I … I hadn't heard that right.

Twilight Sparkle?

“The recently promoted Superintendent of the Chicacolt Police Department was …”

Oh no … no no no no no no no no no …

This could not be happening …

NO!  You stay cool Rainbow Dash.  You do NOT freak – not here, not now.

'Cause if Twilight really is … then she would have wanted … would want … you to....

Life as a gangster teaches you things … one of those things is how to play with pain.  No matter how bad I've been beaten down, I've always been able to get back up and finish the fight.  There was a minute there – in the middle of the Fight of my Life – that I really thought I wouldn't make it.

Twilight Sparkle was more than my CO, she was my friend.  I wanted to be there for her that night … holding her hoof wherever she was … but I told myself I wasn't any good at that kind of stuff anyway.  What I was good at was taking ponies down hard and fast – and the pony we all were sure was responsible – was sitting in front of me smiling.

Let the games begin, baby.

So I smiled right back, and just said:

“Big news, huh?”

O  O  O

Ah didn't want to lose her.

Celestia that little pony could wear me out sometimes …

… but ah never wanted to lose her like that.

Jus' 'bout every high rankin' cop in Chicacolt was standin' outside the ER.  They had all the roofs on their cars lit up – no sirens, just lights – flashin' away like a proper candle vigil … one of those things done up the only way CPD can....

Walkin' past them on mah way in, ah saw a whole slew a the press jus' off to the left.  They were gathered 'round none other than Alderpony Nightmare Moon, who a'course was feedin' all kinds a garbage straight int'a their hungry cameras.

“And my Administration will provide whatever resources are deemed necessary to hunt down the animal that did this!  I make that promise publicly and I have no intention of …”

Ah glanced at her, and she had the stones t'look me in the eye....

That … fucking monster....

Ah pretended the front door a the ER was the Nightmare's face and kicked it open so hard ah reckon it almost came off.

Down the sterile white hall a ways, Fluttershy was slumped up against a wall next to an empty gurney.  She had her face in the neck a the pony that was holdin' her, an' she was sobbin' so hard it shook both of 'em.  Ah'd never seen Pinkie Pie look so serious.

“Fluttershy … don't be scared.  I'm not gonna let anything, ever happen to you....”

“I … I'm not … scared of … something happening … to … to me Pinkie Pie …” ah heard her say between her sobs, “I'm … terrified … that something's going to happen to you!”

Ah trusted Pinkie Pie t'handle her then.

Ah jus' kept puttin' one hoof in front'a the other, straight up 'til Rarity picked the worst possible time to come walkin' up t'me.  “One bullet hit her vest,” she told me, “She has some unsightly bruising, but she's going to be fine.”  But ah already figured as much.

The day Twilight Sparkle dies there will be chaos in the streets, an' ah hadn't seen none a that on mah drive over.  On the contrary … the City was strangely still an' quiet....

“What about Derpy?”

Ah already had a hunch before ah asked.  Just like ah'd figured about Twilight, ah'd figured when ah got the call … before ah even got in mah car … that …

“Derpy didn't make it.”  Rarity never looked more miserable t'say so.

But it weren't real 'til she said it.  Her words made it real … an if that stupid little … jus' hadn't....  Ah started chokin' on the tears ah couldn't shed.  Ah turned away like ah was fixin' t'leave.  Ah had to hit somepony.  Rarity was still closest.

Ah didn't hit her, though.  Ah jus' sort of rounded on her and shoved her real hard up against a wall.  She looked scared … an' ah knew she was jus' as sad as anypony an' didn't deserve … but ah couldn't make mahself care.

“Ah want the absolute truth,” ah said, low an' quiet, “That feelin' ya had on the Pegasus punk, Gilda … was that jus' a lucky guess or can ya bring that kind'a thinkin' on daily?”

She took a second to say anythin', but when she did, ah knew she was tellin' the truth.

“I'm very good.”

Good enough.  Ah let her off the wall but hung in close an' still kept it quiet.  “Gilda's undercover for us,” ah told her, “You are the last Element a Harmony t'know of that fact.  Now we are gonna ride the city an' pick the cases that really matter – startin' with this one.”

Ah felt somethin' stick in mah chest, an' ah glanced down t'see Rarity holdin' her hoof there.  “Keys,” she demanded.  Ah glanced back up, an saw such determination in that detective when she said:  “So I can start the car.”

Ah gave her the keys and told her to git Pinkie Pie an' Fluttershy an' find out where Gilda was at.  Then ah finished that walk down the Hospital hall …

… third longest walk a mah life … jus' after mah brother … an' …

Ah turned a corner and saw Twilight standin' there, starin' at somethin' ah couldn't see.  She was undressed 'cept for her loose white undershirt, which was all stained red with somepony else's blood....

Somepony else's blood … an' ah couldn't get it outta mah head how truly grateful ah was that it was somepony else – anypony else but Twilight … an' ah hated mahself....

An' ah hated the ponies that did this t'make me hate mahself.

“Since when do you where a vest off the clock?”

Twilight saw me soon as ah spoke an' ah let her lean on me, an' ah let her put her head in mah mane.  Ah could feel her shakin', cryin' silently, 'cept she didn't have no more tears left to come out by then.  “When I reassigned an officer today he made some threats …” Twilight could barely talk above a whisper, “Derpy made me put on her vest … she wouldn't start the car until I did....”

Then she pulled away from me to stare again, an' that was when I followed her sights over to Officer Derpy Hooves.  She was lyin' on a metal table, naked, her wings hangin' limp over the sides.  There were two extra holes in her … still raw and red … an' for the first time, her eyes were set in the same direction – up – like she was lookin' fer paradise … a pony's final peace....

An' ah knew ah had to help her find it.

“Ah'm in.”

Twilight tore her gaze away from her friend, and looked at me like she couldn't believe those two little words she'd heard.  So ah said it once more to show ah was honest.

“Let's do this.”

O  O  O

I'm taking a ride.  Applejack drove us away into the night, to the darkest back-alley out behind a bar called The EverFree Club.  There Rainbow Dash joined us, so she squeezed Rarity in between herself and Pinkie Pie – Fluttershy curled up on the latter’s lap – and I sat up front right beside Applejack.  Then we took a 10 minute drive to the Gold Coast, back down Lake Shore Drive, with the water on the driver's side and the concrete mountains soaring up ahead of us … lights shining like ten thousand fallen stars....

If you can't love Chicacolt you can't love anything.  This City survived the Great Fire and from its ashes built the world's most beautiful skyline.  And if there's one thing life in Town has taught me, it's that the ponies here have a code

Loyalty to your friends when you're surrounded by enemies.

Lend your talents to your friends with Generosity.

Laughter in the face of death and danger.

Above all hold true to your Honesty.

Kindness even toward those that don't deserve it.

Standing up for the good in a very bad world is Magic.

That's our code …

The Chicacolt Code

O  O  O

I've been a lot of places …

My hooves have kissed this land …

I try real hard to remember all the faces …

None seem to have what I demand …

I took a train to Chicacolt …

Thought I could clear my mind …

I took a plane out to find some truth …

But all I found I can't seem to leave behind …

I dream of Chicacolt …

I dream of you …

I dream I could go and say all the things that …

I never said to you …

I'm sure I used to love you …

And I'm sure you made me such a fool …

But you were silent with your heart and affections …

Tell me, girl, what was I supposed to do?

I dream of Chicacolt …

I dream of you …

I dream I could go and say all the things that …

I never said to you …

I dream of Chicacolt …

I dream of you …

I dream I could go and say all the things that …

I never said to you …

I never said to you …

*  end  *