Fanfic: Starlight Over Detrot

Sic itur ad astra...
I've lived in the great city of Detrot all my life. Ambitions of traveling the world gave way to the cold-shower realization there weren't a lot of places out there more suited to a cop than a city full of crime.
Hard 'Hardy' Boiled

Monster attacks. Crime. Illegal hallucinogens made from electric fruit.

They say things didn't use to be like this. They say things were different, before Luna came back 60 years ago, but Detective Hard "Hardy" Boiled of the Detrot Police Department has never known any world other than that demarcated by the seedy streets of his beloved decaying metropolis; a world in which the coroners sing and dance, surveillance bugs have personality disorders, and the Chief of Police is a scarier entity than most of the eldritch things the city attracts.

The grey unicorn who turned up dead outside the posh High Step Hotel seemed like just another case, but her missing horn is the pointy tip of a very large and nasty iceberg. It's up to Hardy and his friends - a rejected monster hunter, a psychic cab driver, and an underground antiques heir - to find out whatís going on in an investigation that promises to turn Detrot upside-down and inside-out.

Especially if Hardy has anything to say about it.

Needs Wiki Magic.

Can be found here

The Side Story 'Nightmare Night' is available here


This fanfic provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    • Scarlet, as far as Hardy is concerned. Scarlet is a very pretty stallion, but Hardy isn't gay.
    • Later, Swift gets one in the Warden.
  • Abusive Parents: Sweet Shine's father. He made her wear a heavy metal collar, beat her, and erased her memories with some regularity.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: the Detrot Tenth Librum Publicum
    "The story goes that nopony told the architect you canít build a bigger building inside of a smaller one... so he just sort of... did."
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Magitek AI's, known as Sentient Constructs (SC's, or "essies"), exist. The creation of any new ones is strongly discouraged, because creating a working consciousness is hard. Even the most carefully designed essies wind up with huge personality disorders, or operate under Blue and Orange Morality. Or both.
  • Alien Lunch / I Ate WHAT?: Swift's introduction to eating meat.
  • All There in the Manual: The Cutie Mark Crusades are referred to in the main story, but fully explained in the sidestory "Nightmare Night".
  • Ambiguously Gay: Aunt Stella.
  • An Arm and a Leg: If you count unicorn horns as limbs.
    • Cosmo cuts off the horns of any unicorn who crosses him.
    • Certain forms of necromancy involve cutting off the magic channeling limb of a live victim: a leg for earth ponies, a wing for pegasi, and the horn for unicorns.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    A simple murder case had just turned into a potential gang-war.
    Blood would run in the streets.
    Death would stalk the shadows.
    I'd have to do a lot of paperwork.
  • Artifact Collection Agency: Don Tome and his Archivists safeguard all manner of dangerous magical items.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Helm of Nightmare Moon is regarded as one. Everyone who was suspected of using it has gone mad. Even Don Tome—who has decades of experience safeguarding dangerous artifacts—is afraid of it.
  • Ascended To Carnivorism: Swift, after exposure to gryphon "fine cooking".
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: When Reginald Bari refuses to cooperate with Hardy, Limerence asks to interrogate him. Lim admits that he's never interrogated anyone before, but he's read on the topic, and he's eager to try. In mere minutes, Lim's particular approach convinces Bari to spill everything he knows.
  • Back from the Dead: Act 1 ends with Hardy shot and killed. At the start of Act 2, he wakes up a month later. He's just as surprised about it as the readers are.
  • Bag of Holding: Hardy's coat has enchanted pockets that can "carry about a saddlebag worth of stuff in each and weigh about a tenth as much".
  • Baleful Polymorph: Apparently eating poison joke can permanently turn a pony into a giant-sized hamster.
  • Bar Brawl: The fight at the Plot Hole, even if it's technically a coffee bar.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: Jingle Jangle's brother's heart.
  • Berserk Button: Taxi goes crazy when you mention her (lack of) cutie mark. Swift flips out at the mere mention of Essies; the reason is currently unknown.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Queenie, the Ladybug "diplomat".
  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: When Hardy and Taxi stumble upon a massacre, they wonder how this roomful of victims could be shot and killed (with exit wounds, even) without leaving any bullet holes in the room itself or the furniture. Literal Magic Bullets may have been involved.
  • Born Unlucky: The Scholar tells the story of Charlie Foxtrot, a pony so unlucky that "[his] name became synonymous for things going catastrophically wrong". He was the guard on-duty at the weather factory that Rainbow Dash wrecked in "Tanks for the Memories", and he was one of the guards present when The Smooze crashed the Grand Galloping Gala. During the Crusades, he helped the war effort by letting himself get captured by the dragons, so his misfortune would affect them. It worked.
  • Buried Alive: The original Tartarus is no longer in use. During the crusades, Princess Luna filled it with concrete, while the prisoners were still inside.
  • Break the Cutie: Swift got a nasty one-two punch. Hardy died, then she discovered her friend Grape Shot was the killer. She took this hard.
  • Buccaneer Broadcaster: Gypsy, of Ever Free Radio.
  • Came Back Strong: When Cerise's ritual sacrifice gets interrupted, she comes back from the dead, wielding all the magic unleashed by the ceremony. It's just a temporary power boost, but it lasts long enough for her to telekinetically slaughter those who participated in the ceremony.
  • Carnivore Confusion: The meat that griffins eat comes from non-thinking mammals, although in Detrot, one could buy anything.
  • City Noir: Detrot.
  • Cliff Hanger: Damn near every chapter ends either with some peril threatening Hardy's life, or some new revelation complicating the investigation.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Edina (sadist) and the Tortellini brothers (masochists). They literally work both as S&M prostitutes at the Vivarium, and as enforcers to defend the Vivarium against other gangsters.
  • Companion Cube: Taxi gets really attached to her PEACE Cannon. When circumstances force her to abandon it, she kisses and prays over the cannon beforehand.
  • Communications Officer: Telly.
  • The Coroner: Slip Stitch. He's a little... off.
  • The Corpse Stops Here: Hardy and Taxi discover an entire room full of murdered griffins, their bodies still warm. Hardy and Taxi are right in the middle of the corpse pile when more griffins rush in, weapons drawn. Cooler heads prevail, and the griffins believe Hardy's declaration of innocence.
  • Covered with Scars: The Tortellini brothers
  • Crossdresser: Despite not wearing clothes, Stella manages to pull this off, thanks to some absolutely fabulous makeup and lipstick.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Griffin culture was based on this, so badly that more griffins died during brief times of peace than during wars with foreign nations. Eventually, to prevent them from going extinct, the griffin ruler instituted a system for symbolically representing blood debts and trading these debts. By the present day, the griffins have built a complex economy on these blood debts.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Hardy's dead partner, Juniper, keeps popping in to offer advice to Hardy. It's unclear whether he's a hallucination, some cosmic power taking A Form You Are Comfortable With, or actually Juniper's spirit.
  • Dead Partner: Juniper is Hardy's.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Cosmo's family made one when he was young to save his life. The original Cosmo, that is. He was born with a weak heart and wasn't expected to live long, so they made a deal with a zebra who provided him with a changeling heart, which would keep him alive so long as it was powered by the love between his parents. What they didn't know was that it didn't just run on their love, but drained it. Cosmo died when his family fell apart, and his doting big brother Jingle Jangle took his name and became one of Detrot's most vicious crimelords.
    • Hardy reacts with chagrin upon learning that Taxi made a deal with the mobster Don Tome to arrange the organ transplant that brought Hardy back to life. Fortunately, Don Tome is the closest thing there is to a good mob boss, and his conditions for the deal wind up helping the heroes in the long run.
  • Disc One Final Boss: King Cosmo.
  • Disney Death: Astral Skylark cuts Cerise's gut open with a sword. Her death is supposed to fuel a dark magic spell. However, Hardy and his friends disrupt the spellcasting, so all the ambient magic instead feeds back into Cerise, bringing her back to life.
  • Door Stopper: At well over 500,000 words, it qualifies.
  • The Dreaded: Chief Iris Jade.
  • Dress Code: The Vivarium has one, and Hardy doesn't match up to it.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Taxi is a frighteningly aggressive driver who shows no regard for other cars or speed limits, but she is undeniably good at getting everyone to their destinations in one piece. The scary part? DPD pays her to be Hardy's personal driver, because Hardy is even more dangerous behind the wheel than Taxi.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Inverted. Swift Cuddles is perfectly fine with her first name.
  • Escalating Brawl: The fight at the Plot Hole might or might not have begun with Swift attacking Hardy, but by the time he's distracted from his opponent, everyone is fighting.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: Taxi has no qualms whatsoever about hitting on gryphons, minotaurs, or the like, so long as they catch her eye.
  • Fantastic Drug: Several:
    • Ace, the drug that Cosmo built his empire on, is basically analogous to heroin.
    • Zap is basically marijuana, except with the side effect of attracting lightning if you smoke it outdoors.
    • Beam lowers inhibitions while amplifying the user's emotions and their empathy for others' emotions. Both positive emotions and negative ones.
  • Fantastic Racism: Cosmo hates unicorns, to the point of breaking off their horns if they cross him. The Cyclones are fine with all pony races... but not with zebras, griffins, or anything else.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • The Arroyo Cyclones are Haitian diaspora, what with their Caribbean accents and adherence to Vodou.
    • Griffins are Scotirish, as they're organized into clans, wear kilts, and speak an Oirish brogue.
  • First Day from Hell: Poor Swift. Her second day is also bad, and her third day is even worse.
  • First-Person Smartass: Hardy.
  • Friendly Sniper: Swift is energetic and personable, and the team's designated sharpshooter, often pulling off shots Hardy didn't think were possible.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Discussed. The Warden thinks that very strong hatred can eventually become a lot like love—and she speculates that Chief Jade feels this towards Hardy. It's not clear if the Warden is right about Jade, or even if she's entirely serious.
  • Found the Killer, Lost the Murderer: the killer of Hardy and Cosmo, that is.
  • Fun with Acronyms: PACT (Perimeter Aegis Control Taskforce). Also, the Polite Enjoinder Against Criminal Enterprise (PEACE) cannon.
  • Gang Bangers: The Cyclones.
  • Going Native: Sykes the griffon has integrated into pony culture enough that his family (aside from his brother) has disowned him.
  • Halloween Episode: "Nightmare Night".
  • Hardboiled Detective: His name is even Hard "Hardy" Boiled.
  • Healing Factor: One of the positive side effects of Hardy's resurrection.
  • Hedge Maze: The garden on the roof of High Steps Hotel.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • A three week long one, experienced by Swift when she killed somepony. Who turned out to be an old friend. Once she recovered from that, a far shorter one upon replaying that particular memory to herself.
    • Also experienced by Princess Luna in Nightmare Night, as explained in the Power High entry.
    • Chief Jade normally reacts explosively to anything that annoys her, particularly Hardy's antics. But when Hardy escapes from a tight spot by telling the press that the Detrot PD fully supports the Church of the Lunar Passage, this hits way too close to home for Jade. She locks herself in her office and cries.
  • Hideous Hangover Cure: The Detrot Number Three is expensive on both cash and sanity, semi-magical, and causes copious vomiting, but it will bring you back to alertness.
  • Hoof Cannon: Swift is given one by her grandmother, named the Masamune; Hardy carries one everywhere, his grandfather's .45 revolver; Taxi is categorically prohibited from carrying anything of the sort, as she has no concept of collateral damage and has the aiming skills of your average Imperial Stormtrooper. It turns out that Hardy's revolver is in fact a crusader-class weapon, the firearm equivalent of an Infinity+1 Sword.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Practically everyone from the Vivarium.
  • Immortality Inducer: The explanation for The Warden's condition. Back in the Crusades, she absorbed all of a greater dragon's magical fire. So she won't die or age until she uses that fire—and that will take several centuries.
  • Indy Ploy: By his own admission, Hardy is much better at making up plans on the fly than he is at drafting them before the bullets start flying.
  • Initiation Ceremony: "Frosting" the rookie, which Hardy tries to prevent Swift from going through.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The DPD and PACT. It's even explained in the second chapter's Opening Monologue. About the only things so far which they've managed to agree on are certain forms of weaponry.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Limerance digs into a closet in the Supermax, looking for a haz-mat suit. An open container of Beam falls on him, coating him in the dust. Beam absorbs through skin. Limerance spends the next several chapters high as a kite.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: When getting information from criminals, Hardy and his crew often threaten to rough them up, and sometimes follow through on those threats. Probably the most memorable instance is when Limerence extracts information from Reginald Bari by stabbing a knife into Bari's desk—through Bari's ear.
  • Keystone Army: One of The Scholar's essays notes how the dragons hated to delegate responsibility. As a result, successfully killing a general would throw their underlings into disarray and lead to a swift pony victory.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: Hardy
  • Knowledge Broker: Don Tome.
  • Literal Surveillance Bug: The Ladybugs, little critters based off the parasprites.
  • Little Useless Gun: Swift's "standard issue" gun, given to her because she's so small. That's quickly turned around when she's given a Hoof Cannon named 'Masamune'.
  • Made of Explodium: Beam, a Fantastic Drug made from the industrial byproducts of rainbow manufacture, is dangerously explosive in its concentrated form.
  • Mad Love: Scarlet, towards Hardy - or he might just be trolling, or half-sincere. Hard to tell.
  • The Mafia: The Jewelers, effectively.
  • Magitek: Through zebra runes and alchemy.
  • Mama Bear: Swift's grandmother, After Glow.
    ...getting between After Glow and Swift would have been closely akin to getting between a mother bear and its cub, if the mother bear was endowed with the power to fling a pony into the upper atmosphere.
  • Meaningful Rename: The pony formerly known as Cosmo is now called Gale.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: Hardy gets this impression of Saussurea (the architect of Supermax prison, who is herself imprisoned for crimes against ponykind) when she reveals that she knows a lot more about what's going on than a little old lady who's locked up in the deepest level of Tartarus Correctional should.
    Saussurea was a player. Deposed. Trapped. Chained. Banished to a hole at the bottom of the world. Still playing.
  • Mighty Roar: what a "Griffin Good Morning" involves.
    It was a sound used to terrify prey and ward off competitors in the dangerous mesas of the the griffin homeland, but in a pinch, it's also a great adrenaline shot.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: And the scary thing is that the major plot uncovers an even bigger plot. Act 1 starts with a murdered prostitute, and ends with Hardy and his crew toppling a drug kingpin's empire. Then someone assassinates the kingpin, before he can tell Hardy who he's working for.
  • Mob War: Some unknown party is engineering these. In act 1, they try to assassinate Stella, so the Jewelers and the Cyclones can go to war over Vivarium territory. And in act 2, they succeed in killing Don Tome, and again inform the Jewelers and the Cyclones that Tome's territory is free for the taking.
  • Never Found the Body: Someone assassinated Don Tome and all his staff, which would only be possible if there were a traitor in his midst. Limerance finds a dead body, in Zifu's favorite reading spot, holding Zifu's staff—but the body's so badly burnt that it's completely unrecognizable, and the coroner thinks the skeleton looks a bit off. Awfully suspicious...
  • Never Mess with Granny: After Glow.
  • Nightmare Face: the Warden, due to most of her skin being burned off.
  • Noodle Incident: How Taxi lost her cutie mark. All we know is that it has something to do with the dangers of undercover work.
  • No Sell: Sausseria puts Taxi in chains and fucks with her head for a bit. When it's over, Taxi calls Sausseria "Amateur." She was just pretending to be affected so she could get information from Saucy.
    ďI needed a warm up, Hardy. [...] Thatís all that was. Iím fine. Seriously, if one nutty quack with a bondage fetish could get under my pelt, I think itís time to turn in my freak card.Ē
  • No Social Skills: Limerence is cold and tactless, and greatly prefers working alone. Don Tome makes Limerence join Hardy's crew specifically in hopes that Lim will learn social skills from the experience.
  • Oh Crap!: Hardy and Taxi's reaction when they find out one of their leads takes them into a Diamond Dog neighborhood.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Hardy and Swift, respectively.
  • Opening Monologue: For each chapter, often from someone simply called "the Scholar".
  • The Paralyzer: Taxi.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse:
    • Swift, who's barely larger than a child, but packs as much of a punch as any of the other heroes.
    • Edina the griffin is about the same size as Swift, and she's a furious whirlwind of beak, claws, and whips.
  • Power High: In the sidestory "Nightmare Night", Luna relates how she got one at a bad time, causing her to exult in it for just a second and let the super-lightning she was channeling slip loose and fry most of the small army helping her defend Detrot, leading to a Heroic BSOD (massacring "civilian" dragons by entombing them underneath Detrot and letting them suffocate) that she comes to regret.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: averted; the deaths of both Cosmo and his sniper are quite messy
  • Pressure Point: Taxi's favoured form of attack.
  • Pseudo Crisis: When you end this many chapters on cliffhangers, they can't all be winners. One that stands out is when Hardy sneaks into a history museum through a back door, and finds himself facing down a snarling griffon, pointing a weapon at him. Then the next chapter opens with Hardy realizing that it's just a wax statue of a griffin, from one of the museum exhibits.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Most of Hardy's plans. His 'meeting' with Chief Jade at the start of Act 2 especially qualifies.
  • Scary Teeth: Swift eventually grows carnivore teeth. She gets a kick out of this transformation and enjoys scaring nearly everyone she meets just by smiling at them.
  • Secret Legacy: Hardy's grandfather (also named Hard Boiled, and nicknamed Egg Head) didn't just fight in the Crusades. He was one of the twelve Crusaders, elite assassins of high-ranking dragons. And Hardy's trusty gun? That's the same gun that Egg Head used to kill the dragon king.
  • Secret Test: Don Tome sends his two sons, Limerence and Zifu, on separate missions to retrieve certain missing artifacts. Tome confides to Hardy that he chose these missions specifically to teach them something they lacked (people skills for Limerence, self-sufficiency for Zifu)—and how well they learn their lesson will determine which of them inherits Tome's position as head of the Archivists.
  • Shower of Angst: Hardy and his friends have to take several to deal with the horrors they encounter.
  • Spin-Offspring:
    • Gypsy, the pirate radio broadcaster, is strongly implied to be Scootaloo's granddaughter.
    • Cerberus has a pup named Fluffy.
    • Astral Skylark (born Ebon Kitty) is the daughter of Trixie. She inherits her mother's ego and showmanship, but takes it down a much darker path.
  • STD Immunity: Discussed in an opening monologue: ponies never had many genuinely dangerous STDs in their history, so compared to other races, they have a tendency towards more promiscuous behavior.
  • Symbol Swearing: Lampshaded, with a dash of Foreign Cuss Word thrown in.
    Taxi: Weíre not civilian traffic, you stupid @$&*#$!
    Thatís not censorship; Iím not actually sure what that word was, but it was unflattering and in buffalo. Or maybe zebra. Or possibly draconic.
  • Talking to Plants: Budding, the owner of the High Step, when he starts to lose it. (Of course, since this is Equestria, that might be his secret to how well his plants grow.)
  • The Taxi: The Night Stalker, driven by a Checker-cab-colored pony named Taxi.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: Hardy uses old jelly beans, Taxi uses meditation pebbles.
  • Truth Serums: Truth Bloom, done with a twist: if you drink it you can lie, but it will make you violently ill if you do so for a half hour afterwards. Most persons take one sip of the 'Truth Bloom Special', and that's enough; Hardy drinks the whole glass, eliciting shock from the server.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Hardy gets fired by Iris Jade, and leaves his badge dangling from her horn.
  • Tyke Bomb: Stone Shine's abuse of his daughter, Sweet, was meant to make her "stronger" and groom her for life as a professional killer. She was rescued the same day she earned her cutie mark, but even as an adult she still has the mental scars from this upbringing.
  • Un-Person: Oddly enough, the character did it to herself, for reasons unknown. Princess Twilight Sparkle disappeared from public, then erased or hid as many written records about herself as she could find. Then she cast a wide-ranging spell so that anyone who did stumble across information about her, would forget about it afterwards.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: Working at the Vivarium.
  • Vomiting Cop: Swift, when she sees her first violently-killed corpse. It's also her first day on the job. In fact, Swift gets queasy with every corpse the heroes run across (and that's a lot).
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: After getting a gunshot wound that he knew to be fatal, Hardy wakes up in a very dark, cramped spot. He finds the opening and crawls out, then realizes he was in the morgue freezer.
  • War Is Hell / Shell-Shocked Veteran / Survivor Guilt: In the sidestory "Nightmare Night", Luna tells the tale of the Crusades to children because of her personal experiences, and subconsciously wanting somepony to hold her accountable for her atrocity.
  • We Can Rebuild Him:
    • When Hardy dies of a gunshot through the heart, Taxi pulls some strings to get Cosmo's old heart transplanted. This is enough to bring him back to life, a month later.
    • Sausseria refers to the Supermax as her child, and she isn't being metaphorical. When her daughter Tourniquet was killed by dragons, Sausseria turned her into a magitek cyborg. Tourniquet is now inextricably linked to the workings of the Supermax, and she drains magic from her prisoners as her energy source. This is precisely why Sausseria is now in prison herself.
  • Wham Episode: The last chapter of Act 1, already a Wham Episode on its own, is completely overshadowed by act 2, chapter 44. Finally, some answers are given, and many of them are just stupifying. The last lines of the chapter in particular.
    • This is then overshadowed again in Act 2, Chapter 53 with the ending line:
    ďItís...Itís gone. The storm...the villages...th-the mountain! Canterlot Mountain is gone! Everything...everything is gone!Ē
  • Wham Line: the end of Act 2, Chapter 43 - 'Her name...was Twilight Sparkle'
  • Who Dunnit To Me: One of Hardy's goals after coming back to life.