Firefly: Whole New Verse

Premonitions

Detective Noted sipped her terrible coffee and sighed. She’d barely grabbed three hours of sleep after that fiasco at the docks yesterday. There were several ponies critically wounded, no leads, and her superiors were breathing down her neck, demanding results. Patient Aim had to be the pony to blame, but proving that was going to be an uphill struggle.

Most of the ‘security cameras’ on the docks were fake, and many of the real ones were routinely sabotaged. Still she had some real footage to review from the few that worked. She passed the duty sergeant with barely a grunt of notice. Sergeant Nightwatch glanced up and nodded to her.

“Who’d you piss off, Duly?” he asked jokingly.

She scowled at him. There was not nearly enough caffeine in her system to put up with jokes at five in the scorching morning. Still, snapping at him wouldn’t fix anything. Except making her feel better. Which was oh, so tempting.

“What, has the Chief sent another note marked ‘urgent’? After the first dozen, I’m less than impressed.”

Sergeant Nightwatch’s eyes widened in surprise. “You didn’t get the message? There’s a couple of marshals from Central in your office. They got here fifteen minutes ago. I figured you looked like somebody dragged you through Tartarus because you heard about it and rushed over.”

Her blood turned to ice water as she wondered what would bring the high and mighty servants of the Central Law Bureau to her office. Even worse, at this time of morning. Central marshals hardly ever got off their cushy rumps this early. The backhooved insult to her looks paled in comparison to what was waiting for her.

“Thanks for the warning,” she murmured. Sergeant Nightwatch nodded and turned back to his duties. Duly Noted slugged back the rest of her coffee and winced as the fire burned down her throat. Still, it finished waking her up and put a little steel in her spine. The marshals might scare the ever-loving Harmony out of her, but she wasn’t going to let them know that if she could help it.

The door to her office was open a crack. There was no sound of conversation inside, but the steady tapping of hooves on crystal told her that it wasn’t empty. Detective Noted felt an irrational spike of anger. She’d called in darn near every favor she had to get one of the most modern crystal screens and here these arrogant Central busybodies were leafing through it without her permission.

She opened the door without knocking, since it was her own scorching office, and took note of the two ponies occupying her chairs. The one sitting behind her desk and using her crystal was a charcoal-gray pegasus stallion with a light turquoise mane so short that it stuck up in a neat, blocky crest. The other was a muscular white unicorn whose messy electric-blue mane hung nearly into his eyes. Both of them wore sunglasses and tactical coveralls that hid their cutie marks.

The pegasus didn’t even look up as she entered, but the unicorn rose and smiled. “Nice to meet you, Detective Noted. Sorry for borrowing your office and video files, but we’re on a critical assignment.”

For a moment, Duly was confused about which files they were talking about, but then she realized that it had to be her recordings of the docks. “You know, the office could make more copies if you requested it.”

The unicorn chuckled in a comradely fashion, but the noise sent shivers up her spine for some reason. “And knowing how bureaucracy works, I’d get them in two weeks. The pony we’re after is too dangerous for us to waste time with red tape.”

That was a fair point. She could hardly count the number of times she’d wished for the ability to avoid the petty rules that bogged down her investigations. “Okay, I can buy that. You clearly know who I am, but who are the two of you?”

“I’m Mr. White, and my partner is Mr. Black.” She lifted an eyebrow at that, but something in his smile told her not to press ‘Mr. White’ any further. “Reviewing the recordings is our main purpose here, but I would appreciate more information about the disturbance yesterday. Just on the off chance it has something to do with our case. Would you mind?”

Detective Noted shook her head and took one of her two visitor chairs. Mr. Black still hadn’t looked up from her crystal or even acknowledged her existence. It irked her, but she supposed that was just par for the course for marshals.

Mr. White took the other chair and nodded in approval. “Great, thanks. Could we start with a quick summary? I was only given a rough outline of the situation.”

“At approximately 1100 hours yesterday, witnesses reported several gunshots from the vicinity of the docks. Reports of other disturbances, including additional gunshots, in the industrial district shortly before that time indicate that the incident began there and simply spilled out onto the docks. Responding officers found several critically wounded ponies, some of whom may not live, and blood spatter that suggests that others were either killed and hidden, or did not volunteer themselves for treatment. There was one ship that took off during the shootout, an old Firefly-class transport registered to a ‘Captain Blitz’, but they requested liftoff well before the shootout began and I have considered them unlikely to be involved.”

“Interesting,” Mr. White said. “Any reports of unusual activity or a powerful unicorn involved in the disturbance?”

Duly blinked in surprise. “I’m not sure what you mean by ‘unusual’, but there were no reports of any unusual magic being involved. It appeared to be typical gang violence. Guns only.” Although, a good number of the reports had included mention of a gunshot like a cannon. Detective Noted was almost certain that was Patient Aim’s favorite weapon, if only she could get somebody to admit to seeing him.

Mr. White chuckled. “Don’t worry. As easy as it would have made my job, I didn’t expect she would involve herself in anything like that. But she has surprised me before.”

“Sir,” Mr. Black said, “I think I’ve found her.” Mr. White blinked out of existence and reappeared behind Duly Noted’s desk faster than she would have believed possible. There had barely been time to note the glow the around his horn before he was gone.

“Enlarge,” he commanded, any trace of his friendly camaraderie replaced by cold professionalism. “See if you can improve the quality. We have to be sure.”

“Found who?” Detective Noted asked, coming around her desk to get a look at the crystal herself. The scene depicted was a standard day at the docks, ponies and other species mingling, mixing, trading, arguing. All normal activity. The focus of the frozen frame seemed to be on a lavender unicorn mare with a short pink mane and tail. She wore sunglasses and a dress that covered her cutie mark. Mr. Black played with the controls a bit and the image jumped into slightly better resolution. Duly hadn’t realized any of their cameras were capable of that. She turned to ask Mr. White another question, but the words died in her throat.

He had removed his sunglasses and for the first time she saw his eyes. They were blue. A blue so bright that it seemed to glow from within, like neon. His pupils were tiny, almost pinpricks, like specks of darkness lost in an ocean. He stared at the crystal screen with an intensity that scared her more than the mere appearance of his eyes. And as he stared the blue only seemed to get brighter. Then he smiled, not a friendly expression, more like predator spotting prey, and put his sunglasses back on. “That’s her. Continue searching. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find a picture that shows which ship she boarded, or who she spoke to.” And he turned to Duly, and his smile changed to something less feral. “Sorry, if I bothered you Detective Noted, I can be very … intense when we’re on the trail.”

“Your eyes…” Duly said, not certain how to end that sentence.

He shuffled his hooves at that, seeming embarrassed. “I have a … condition. One that I’d prefer you didn’t spread around, if you don’t mind.”

Detective Noted nodded, trying not to show her nervousness. “Of course. Who is that mare, though?”

Mr. White grimaced. “She’s a misguided pony, but for all that, still a criminal. She aided and abetted the escape of her younger sister from an institute for the criminally insane. She refused to believe that her sister was responsible for several murders despite the overwhelming evidence against her. Both are on the run, and it’s only a matter of time until the psychoses of the younger sister drive her to kill again.” He paused for a moment. “Ever heard of the Cupcake Killer?”

Detective Noted stared in shock. “But that’s just an urban legend.”

“It is, but it’s based on her. The only earth pony in a family of unicorns. So she decided to harvest horns until she found one that worked for her.”

It was a near thing, but Duly kept herself from throwing up. Mr. White nodded sympathetically. “I know. I had the same reaction the first time I was assigned to the case. That’s why I’m trying to bring them to justice as swiftly as possible. We need to go through these videos, but it would help if you could bring us a list of all the ships that were at the docks that day and their declared destinations.” Detective Noted nodded, and left the room quickly. Anything to drive those thoughts about what Mr. White was chasing out of her head.

After she left, Mr. White trotted over and softly shut the door behind her. It clicked as he locked it and soon he and Mr. Black were alone.

“Sir, you went beyond the official cover story and added unnecessarily sensationalist details,” Mr. Black stated with only the slightest hint of reproach in his tone.

“I said what I needed to ensure Detective Noted’s unquestioning assistance. She will be impressed with the need for silence, or if necessary, made to forget the past several hours.”

“Yes, sir,” Mr. Black said as he continued his work.

Mr. White moved back around the desk and stared again at the picture of the lavender mare, and the boxes of cargo that followed her. “I’ll bring you home, Twily,” he said, his voice a gentle whisper. Then rage chased the softness from his face, and his eyes blazed even behind his glasses.

“And I’ll see Subject Pi dragged back to the lab where she belongs.”


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