My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
Pony POV Series
Shining Armor Part 8
Written By lz0291
retniW-After Shocks 1/2
Edited by Alex Warlorn, Kendell2(God bless his hard working soul on finals), And Louis Badalament.
I was expecting a fairly quiet time of it with the day ahead. I'd managed to luck out and be assigned the assistance desk at Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. In short, me and the squad were supposed to be doorponies and receptionists, signing visitors in, and escorting them to go see whoever they were visiting. With so many students and teachers thanks to Princess Celestia's generous spending, student dorms and officers were all over the castle quite literally, this was important. But easy.
Since the Winter-Wrap-Up holiday was tomorrow, most of the students were not on campus and the few that were, the visitors knew where they were going. Meaning we'd not only avoid freezing our marks off patrolling, but we'd basically all be lounging around doing nothing.
On top of that, about half the ponies coming in would be at the wrong desk and be trying to sign in as visitors to the castle. It's an easy mistake to make, of course. The school campus is ALL OVER the castle. And so is the Royal Guard Cadet school, but that's the same visitor desk as the castle. And that desk is elsewhere.
All in all, yay us. Ellis was leading the most recent of three over to the right reception desk, Gag was reading a manega, Audience and Thunderchild had went off to get some tea and coffee, and I was reading the newspaper. What are you doing?
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Checking if your picture is in the dictionary under 'Boring.')
Hey, I was just catching up on the news. Besides, wasn't like I could borrow Gag's book - it was in Neighponese, and I had to wait for Audience to come back to play a decent game of chess and put that bloody dictionary down! Anyway...
"Hey, Gag?" I said, seeking some intellectual input after reading a rather strange article.
Yes, Gag was intellectual input compared to this. It was that bad. He'd only been with us six months by that point but his reputation was set in stone.
"How's your fictional made-up nonsense?"
"This is Narutrot, Sir, it's technically loosely based on true events three hundred years ago in Feudal Neighpon. But it's pretty cool."
"Ah. Because this Sunny Day article isn't remotely entertaining and I think I am now dumber for reading it. I fear I may no longer sentence as good."
He sighed. My views on her articles had also become very clear to him in six months.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Then why did you read them?)
I give her credit where credit is due. For all the slander she heaps on Princess Celestia, she's NEVER said one foul word about Twilight, Cadence, or Princess Luna and wrote against the evil 'Molestia rumors.' In fact, she applauds Twilight pretty frequently, praises Cadance for her diplomatic work, and tries to encourage ponies to not judge Princess Luna for Nightmare Moon. The few good articles she writes tend to be big hits with me, what can I say?
"What subject is she talking out of her flank on this time?"
"I've no idea, Gag. I only speak three languages - Equestrian, Roedinian, and Foul. You're the one with the language special talent, whilst mine is shields. Her article appears to be written in Gibberish."
He came over and looked at the article in question. "...Unidentified Flying Objects? Really?"
"Yes, really. It seems two days ago somepony up in Bonneighbridge, near Foalkirk, saw some odd lights in the sky. They feared it was aliens. Some pegasi came forward yesterday and admitted they were messing around with light bulbs and thunderclouds. Perfectly innocent, but conspiracy nuts think aliens. Sunny Day doesn't. She's blaming the Air Navy testing out new airships in secret. She does this every time when the news is slow. She latches onto some non-story and keeps it going for a few days more."
If I'd kept reading the paper I'd have found a small article about how an Air Navy destroyer had collided with a cargo ship. But we were distracted by a dragon suddenly entering the room.
A baby dragon.
"Uh, hey, Shinin'," Spike said.
"Spike? What's up? Looking for me?"
"Well, not you in particular, but I guess you'd be the best help if you don't overreact. You see, Twilight's not feeling too good..."
I practically jumped over the desk, landing in front of Spike. "Twiley's sick!? How sick? Where is she?"
I then began running.
"Hey! WAIT! SHININ'! I NEEDED... Aw, crud."
I ran back. "Of course, you need a lift, hop on, take me to her!"
I then ran again, but realization hit me. I turned around, making Spike yelp on my back.
"Gag! Tell the others where I went!"
"Uh, okay, Sir... "
"Where is she?"
"Shinin', I was just looking for somepony to help me get..."
"A doctor?! We need a doctor?!"
"No, we..." He tried, but I had by this point sped up, and he was holding on for dear life.
I had galloped to the tower in record speed , and burst in the door. "Twilight?! Where are you? Are you okay?!"
I scanned the room frantically, not seeing her anywhere. Was Spike trying to tell me she'd already been taken to a hospital while we ran here?! All I could see was books, piles of books, mounds of books, a confused looking purple mare wearing a Maresenal hoody in the midst of blowing her nose, more books, a desk covered in books plus a pizza carton and...
"...Hi, Shinin'?" Twilight said.
"Like I was saying, Shinin', she's only got a cold!"
One awkward silence later.
"...Ah. Well, um, I heard you were sick and... Spike, why didn't you tell me she had a cold? And why was it so major you were looking for me all worried?"
"I was trying to tell you! The castle apothecary's been rationing all the cold relief stuff because every fourth pony has a cold, and a bunch of students figured out the hot lemon drinks let you pretend to be sick."
"Dey'be got laxatibe quaaa.. aaa....aaaachoo!" Twilight tried to say, but sneezed. "...Laxatibe qualities ib taken in high doses..."
"After she found out, Lemon Hearts actually locked her door and stopped taking requests when they all started going to her instead. You should've seen it. Poor Moon Dancer tried to see how she was doing and barely made it out in one piece. Something about 'Angry mother lemons.'"
I don't want to know.
"So why did you need me? To tell them to give us some?"
"Uh, well, sort of, I was looking for a guard to help me get them because, uh..."
"Because you think the powdered drinks are a great topping on gemstones and no one is going to give any to you while there's a shortage, and all the apothecaries nearby in the city know you too so you can't go buy some there." I sighed. "Twiley, I'll go get you your cold relief stuff."
"Uh, danks, B.B.B.Eb.Eb...Could you close deh door too?"
"Uh, yeah..." I said, heading outside, closing it behind me. Before I could continue my journey, Gag came down to land.
"Sir, I spoke to the Sarge when he came back, and he agreed with what I said while you were leaving, so he sent me to get cold relief stuff to bring to Twilight."
"Uh, right. What did you say?"
"I said I thought she might have had a cold."
"Good guess. Come on, let's take them to her..."
"Uh, Sir? I don't actually have any. We're all out of them. We might need to have someone go into the city and buy some there."
Into Twilight's tower we went again.
"Oh. Dat wab quick." Twilight sniffled, a paper hankie hovering above her nose.
"Yes, er, Private Gag says we're all out of cold relief stuff..."
"Oh. Dank you anyway..."
"Uh, look, Twiley, you should probably go to bed or something..."
"Bud I wan to study!" She protested.
"Look, Twiley, this room is far too drafty even when we do remember to close the door. I'll see if I can get somepony to head into town so Spike can stay with you if you insist on staying up, but, uh..." I trailed off, not sure what to say to convince her that resting in bed was a viable alternative to studying.
"Something wrong, Lieutenant Sparkle?" A voice said behind us. Gag and I froze in terror.
"S-staff Sergeant Harper..." My subordinate whimpered.
The Pegasus Pony from Emerald Isle could be remarkably stealthy given his large frame that put some Earth Ponies to shame. Some joked he was half-dragon. Amazingly enough not Running Gag. He shared my opinion that Harper was a dragon disguised as a pony. You could tell he was a good NCO. Every enlisted trooper respected or kind of feared him. And every officer below the rank of Major that wasn't Captain Sharpe was terrified of him.
"Um, no, Sarge Staffent. Staff Sergeant. I was, uh, on the assistance desk, as you know, and, um, Spike here told me the Princesses personal student..."
"Your lovely sister, yes. G'Mornin' there, Miss Sparkle. I see you're feelin' under the weather a bit? I'll just come in, close this door..."
"Yes, uh, I was told she wasn't well and was needing some help to get some cold relief medicine. Unfortunately..."
"We're all out. Yes, it's a bit of a bugger there, Lieutenant. In fact, Captain Sharpe was looking to fetch some as well, for Major Payne. On top of that, it seems a lot of the lads in Lieutenant Coke's platoon have colds and they've burned right through a very generous supply of cough sweets and lemony drinks we managed to get for them. A few more seem to have squiffy tummies, the poor ladies..."
"Uh, sorry to hear that, Staff Sergeant. Perhaps we could, uh, go into the city and try track down some civilian supplies?" Gag squeaked.
"Maybe, Private. But I'm noticing this room... Very drafty, Lieutenant. Very drafty. Can you feel that in the air currents there, Gag? Miss Sparkle should probably be in bed, I'd wager she won't feel the draft as much there."
"I wan to study." She said again.
"Oh, that's commendable, Miss, dedicated to your education. But, I think there's possibly a better alternative here. Maybe you could take her to the assistance desk, Lieutenant? Nice and warm there, your squad can go fetch anything she needs, keep an eye on her, that sort of thing. And Gag and I could go into town to try track down some medicines in the meantime?"
"Uh, well, perhaps, Staff Sergeant. We should maybe check with the Princess first..." I responded.
"I'm on it already." Spike said, quill in claws.
"...And Captain Sharpe, maybe..."
"Oh, Captain Sharpe will be fine with it. You're on the assistance desk, you're meant to determine what's the best way to help ponies in need. With Princess Celestia's permission, of course."
Spike sent the letter. Gag and Harper vanished, and I said a quick prayer that I'd get my rookie back uneaten shortly. A minute later, the Princess had sent a reply, expressing her sympathy to Twilight as well as thanking me for being a dutiful guard and brother (I blushed with pride at both).
"Well, let's go. Get on my back and put some blankets over yourself to stay warm..." I told Twilight.
"...Shining, I hab dis hoody you gabe me, I'm warm enoub. It's just a cold, I can walk to the assistance desk wibout getting any worse..."
"I'm not taking chances. Remember that time you were little, you had 'just a cold'? But you insisted you come play with me and my hoofball, and then we had to go to hospital?!"
"...Dat was 'cause you got da ball stuck ub a tree and pulled a branch down on yourselb and I laughed too much..."
"Er, yes, but, the point is, you were having trouble breathing afterwards! And I also had a nasty head wound but the important part was I thought you were choking..."
"It wabn't eben dat funny...I dunno why I couldn't stob laughin..."
"Point is, you're wrapping up to go out there. And we're avoiding trees!"
If I'm honest, I'd expected far different dreams. I'd closed my eyes after the night's events with a lingering expectation of hearing hoofsteps and claws on tile and soil, grinning Makarov's promised fate worse than death, or maybe staring numbly at a coffin, or seeing flames consuming a tree, or some a purple or pink shape on the floor ringed with red... Instead, I'd dreamed of Twilight getting a cold a few days before Winter Wrap-Up.
So when I woke up I was actually relieved but a little annoyed to realize I'd only slept about three or four more hours, waking up just before six. I figured I might as well have got ready. Just as I was about to turn off the shower and start drying, my replacement alarm clock radio some thoughtful soul had decided to buy for me decided to let itself be known.
"There's a black dog on my shoulder again, licking my neck and saying she's my friend..."
The new radio was spared from defenestration this time, but I was not spared from jumping six feet into the air, colliding with the shower head and falling back to a slippery surface. I slipped and swore very loudly on impact, causing a griffin Marine and a Royal Guard to enter to see what the ruckus was about. Unfortunately, in the process of falling over I had kicked open the door to the small shower stall.
"Oh, Captain Sparkle... Did you slip in the shower?" The embassy Royal Guard asked.
"Yes, I did..." I groaned.
"Anything injured?" The Earth Pony mare asked.
"Just my pride. And can you switch the radio off, please?"
It was at this point Cadence showed up, as the Marine obliged me, regarding the radio. Sunset and Twinkle Shine were behind her.
"I heard a noise! Is Shining okay?! What happened?!"
The Griffin lost it at this point and burst into laughter when I let out a high pitched squeak of embarrassment. "He slipped on the soap, apparently, bwahaha!" Twinkle Shine giggled.
So much for professionalism. I turned the shower off, grabbed a towel and began trying to dry off as I left the shower.
"...Thank Auntie." Cadence sighed, with a grateful look towards heaven. "I almost thought it was..."
It was then I noticed apparently Cadence had bolted out of her own (She did wake at sunrise, after all). Being chivalrous, I did not stare at her enthralling wet, dripping mane and instead focused more on the fact the Guard and Marine were apparently picking up a few things that had fallen off the desk. Twiley's letter from yesterday, picture included.
"I should probably put these away somewhere safe..." I noted, opening a small safe I used to store some important things. I lifted up the six Royal Guard regulation books, putting them aside, and placing the letter and photo in. Unfortunately, I almost put them in the wrong half of the piled letters.
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Wrong half?)
...Well, I've got a few letters I've written out, just in case something happens. I wouldn't want to suddenly be gone without at least knowing I'd left behind a goodbye.
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): ...I see.)
While I fixed the order of the letters, Cadence had picked volume six in her magic, and looked on the last page. Being half-awake, I didn't question her sudden interest in that book. In hindsight it was kind of significant she'd been shaken up just by seeing a book that lists the name of every Equestrian Royal Guard who has died in the line of duty in the past four hundred years...
"...Thank Auntie." she breathed again. "I thought I was still having that nightmare from last night..."
"Nightmare, Your Highness? What was it?" Sunset wondered.
"...It's not important, Sunset. Just a bad dream. It involved some letters and... It's really quite silly...."
It was then that the Earth Pony Private spoke. "Captain, are you sure you're all right there? I'm actually a trained Combat Medical Technician..."
In other words, a member of the Medical Corps and therefore a fully trained one, instead of the six-week course on how to hold the patient's lungs in that a few troopers go on. Earth Ponies actually can make very good medics. Their magic is based on life, after all.
"Er, I'm fine, Private...?"
"Wait a second. You're a medic, Private Garnet? What unit are you with?" Cadence then asked.
"I'm presently attached to the Fourth Royal Yokeshire Guards regiment, Your Highness."
"Shining, last night I couldn't get back to sleep right away, so I did a little reading. And I noticed a few little quirks about the way things are set up with your unit. You were aware your command squad is supposed to be six strong and include a platoon medic, correct?"
"Private Garnet," I cut in. "If you're the Embassy medic where were you last night?"
"I was at the train station, Sir, I was sent out there to see what I could do. I made my own way back once I'd spoken to the local medics."
"I see. Princess, can I ask, how did you hear a noise down this end of the corridor when you were in the shower?"
"It's called an open window, won't change the subject, Shining," Cadence chided. "Why is it you've got a Command Squad that's a member short?"
"Ah. Easy, as a junior officer and with the shortage of medics in the Guard as a whole I never managed to get the gap filled in my team. Senior officers and the Air Navy get priority, and usually most regiments only have a medic at company levels, the exceptions being..."
She raised a hoof to cut me off. "But you're not a junior officer any more, Shining. You're Commander and Captain of my Guard. Why don't you have a medic in your unit?"
"None volunteered. I had thought that medical needs would be covered by the Air Navy medical bays, and members of other teams have some basic first aid training."
"Like you say, though, it's basic first aid. Last night we needed to enlist aid from a doctor who 'officially' wasn't even here. Imagine if Watsun really hadn't been here. Imagine if you'd been more seriously hurt! Which, given the situation, was a very real possibility. Minuette might not have been able to save you. A fully trained medic could spell the difference between life and death, Shining."
I couldn't really disagree with that.
"I know, but there's really no way to just yank a medic out of another unit and stick them into mine. I don't have that kind of authority..."
"But I do, Shining. Wait. So do you, what are you on about?"
"You're a Commander of the Guard, even if your actual rank is Captain you're entitled to request additional resources if they're mission critical. An enemy nearly killed you and several of your squad last night, I'd say that makes a medic mission critical."
"Erm, ma'am, are you trying to recruit me into your Guard?" Garnet asked, puzzled.
"Yes. Don't worry, I'm not going to conscript you, I'll ask your officer, that is, if you'd be okay with it, Private Garnet. Shining, you'd better get ready for those assessment things you have to do, we're going to be on a tight schedule today with them. Could they be done before ten, perhaps? Anyway, Private, take me to your leader!"
"Uh, Princess, should I dry you and the Captain off first? You have both just came out of the shower and... Knock it off, Twinkle!" Sunset spoke.
The other Hoofmaiden was making strange noises, like 'fnarr fnarr' even while Sunset was talking.
We both blushed.
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Fnarr: 'A representation of a lecherous snicker popularized in the comic magazine Vide Licet... and used adjectivally to denote crude sexual innuendo.')
That's the magazine I'm starting to think is going to get the rights to the biographic adaptation of my life. Innuendo, innuendo, they all want every word between me and her to be innuendo...No, filly, I'm not telling you what we're talking about.
A gentle kick from her princess cured Twinkle Shine.
"Oh. Yes. Ah. I've left water all over the place, haven't I? Hopefully nopony..."
Suddenly, a scream.
And then a crash.
Garnet had rushed to the door, as had I. It would seem a hapless Pony member of the Marines had slipped in a puddle. The dazed unicorn mare was sprawled on the ground, but looked up at us. The other Marine was moving to try and help her to her feet.
"Uh... You're the Equestrian medic, Private Garnet, right?" Unicorn Mare-ine said.
"Yes, I am."
"There's been an accident."
"I can see that..." Garnet deadpanned.
"Sorry, I think that was my fault. Are you okay?" Cadence
"Er, I'm fine, ma'am. I mean there's been a more serious accident downstairs with two of your Guards." The Marinicorn said.
"What?! Who? What happened?" I cut in, alarmed.
"Two pegasi, Ranger and Gag, I think, but... Wait! You don't even know where they are!" She shouted as I began running. Everypony else had apparently started following me.
Except the other Marine, of course. The Griffin was a serene Marine surveying the scene.
"Then where are they?"
"THIS way!" Mare Marine said, looking exasperated and taking the lead.
Apparently, Ranger and Gag had been chatting while the on-duty one of the pair (which that day was Ranger, just in case you're playing some sort of Bingo or something) had been patrolling near the kitchens. It made sense, the two had been friends as recruits, apparently.
Ranger had slipped, Gag had dived to try and block him from falling, but this merely caused the two to slam into a glass display cabinet outside the kitchen doors, which had held a number of pictures of diplomats and visitors who had dined in the Embassy. Pride of the place had been a picture from twenty years ago, when Princess Celestia had received President Garret (An actual Griffin, imagine that!) in the embassy during a state visit. It escaped unharmed somehow.
Gag and Ranger had not. During the crash, it seemed Ranger had wound up slamming into the glass cabinet, taking Gag with him. We had come across the scene to find Ranger had helped Gag onto his haunches, away from all the glass, but judging by the little pool of blood, someone had been cut. Ranger had been in armor. Gag had not been, so it was clear who'd suffered most.
A Griffin from the kitchen staff, gray with a red neckerchief and rather absurd mustache, was trying to revive a fainted pony chef. Some other Guards had began to move in to try and stop further unwanted presences in the area, which meant they had almost stopped us until the Sergeant let us pass through the group of ponies. They let me and the two other troopers pass, though Cadence held herself and her hoofmaidens back for a moment. The marine had been sent to inform Minuette.
"Sunset, Twinkle Shine, you go look for Minuette as well."
"Do you have the medic?" Ranger said with alarm to the Sergeant, barely even noticing the rest of us.
He was holding Gag upright, less concerned by the fact he had a shard of glass sticking out of his wing than he was at the prospect his friend had a serious head injury. I have to admit I'd felt a little sick myself, seeing the two. Ranger looked to be all right bar his wing injury, but Gag had a few cuts. None serious. What was troubling was he appeared to have taken a nasty hit to the head.
"Don't worry, I'm it. Gustav, where's... Oh."
"What's 'oh?'" I asked.
"The pony that fainted over there is meant to be the first aider in the kitchens. Captain, can you get the medkit from over there please?"
Garnet had her own small first aid kit, but the one I'd fetched apparently held more useful things. She was now examining Gag with the aid of a flashlight she'd mounted onto a front plate on her chamfron. Actually quite a clever design, I should note. The on-off switch was to put it down or up, and the same mount held a magnifying glass. Probably good for reading as well.
"Private? Can you hear me? My name's Garnet, I'm a medic."
He blinked in confusion and just stared at her. Not good...
"How on earth did this happen?" Cadence wondered, as I looked at a suspect wet spot.
"I think someone spilled something. At least it was no one important got it, I guess..." The non-concussed pegasus said, trying to joke.
"Oh, don't you start with that kind of rubbish..." Cadence muttered, giving a fairly intimidating glare.
"Hey, dude, that's not cool. I'm totally important. I'm, like, the Queen of Eagleland..." Gag burbled. I tried not to laugh, half from pleasure he was still with us and half from the fact it was actually amusing at that time, saving me from a heart-attack.
It figures, the poor guy is only funny with a massive head injury to him. Most other poor comedians, I keep thinking I'd enjoy the jokes if only someone were to hit me repeatedly with a cast iron skillet until I forgot where my tail was.
"...Oh, sorry, were you talking to me there? I... I got kinda distracted..." Gag said to Garnet.
"Head pains?" Garnet inquired. "Dizziness?"
"Nah, you're cute..."
To her credit, she just gave a little smile. "Well, thanks, but if you don't mind I think it's better if I check you out first before you starting checking me out, yeah?"
This is probably as good a time as any to make it clear I'm only messing around when I talk about Gag. Only about Twiley's age at the time. He's really quite a good kid, just... his jokes need a lot of work. Great soldier, good guy, perfect translator, terrible comedian. I joke about a lot of people, but I don't really mean it.
Just then, Minuette arrived.
"Ma'am, can you attend to Private Ranger, please?"
I gave Minuette the medical kit, and she began to look at the other soldier. A few moments later, Garnet flipped her light back up to switch it off and reported her findings.
"Definitely a concussion, but not too bad by the looks of it. Might be a good idea to have a doctor check him out at some point but right now I'd advise he be off duty and resting for at least forty-eight hours, and that someone be with him most of the time in case his condition deteriorates." Garnet diagnosed. "The cuts aren't life threatening, but still need tending to."
As an Earth Pony, she couldn't perform any unicorn spells to double-check, but Minuette was on hoof for that.
"I'd agree, I'm not seeing any problems. How's the headache?"
"Still sore..." Gag reported.
Minuette then sighed and spoke to me as she returned to bandaging Ranger. She was especially careful with the glass shard in his wing, since if she just pulled it straight out, it might make it worse.
"Okay, is this going to become a habit, Captain? Are all the other cute ones going to wind up limping out of Columbia in a couple of weeks when we leave? Is Lance-Corporal Apple going to break his leg next?" She wondered.
Gag appeared not to notice he'd been called cute. He seemed to find Private Garnet more interesting.
"I hope not, that'll completely wreck our five-a-side team. He's a great striker," I didn't even get a groan for my poor comedy in light of the expert. But I did apparently get Concussion McGee to think of something.
"My dad was a great striker too! When I was twelve he took the whole Manechester Weather Patrol on strike! He managed to get the management at the weather factory to review unsafe working conditions, something about a risk of hyperfertility because of poor lighting cloud containment... 's why I've got a little brother and a little sister, they're twins..."
"Oh? What are their names?" Garnet asked.
"...Couch Gag and Overly Long Gag. See, my mother gave birth to Couch at home but somehow she was in labor for thirty-six hours with Overly..."
The mares in the room winced, Cadence even more so.
"Well, looks he doesn't have any notable memory loss..." Garnet said quietly.
"Thirty-six hours of labor? Is that even medically possible, Sir?" Ranger whispered to me.
"We did have to go to the emergency afterwards though."
"You mom need medical attention?" asked Garnet.
"No, she was fine, my dad, she was holding his hoof the whole time and he needed a cast."
And with that, every stallion in the room winced.
Ranger snorted. "Can't help but wonder though, if Mother Gag had got a C-section would the foal have been named Cutaway?"
I kept in a laugh. I was beginning to be happy I was named Shining Armor instead of 'Sparkling Armor.'
"Okay, you're done, Ranger. Sorry, but I don't think that's one to take you off-duty." Minuette then said.
"Afraid she's right. You'd best not use the wing if you can avoid it but you got off lightly. Just a few damaged feathers and some light cuts." Garnet added.
"I can't believe an accident like this could happen..." Cadence groaned.
"Just shows how bad Makarov is, really. He threw everything but the kitchen sink into it last night and didn't come close to killing one guard. To think, all he REALLY needed to do was spill a drink!"
I then put my hoof in it, by laughing and saying; "We should give Running Gag concussions more often, he's funnier."
Minuette and Cadence gave me a look. Ranger stopped mid-laugh, and Garnet managed to prevent herself laughing. I saw her having to hold it in though!
"Gag is concussed, what's your excuse?" Minuette then asked.
"...Sorry." We both mumbled like colts caught with our hooves in the cookie jar.
"Anyway, uh, I'll go take Gag to the canteen or something, I guess he needs to eat?" Ranger spoke up.
"Small, light, things like oatmeal, fruit, vegetables. He might be advised to take high-protein foods, stay off the salt and alcohol. In fact, I'll come with you, we could probably give him an ice pack or some painkillers with I finish those cuts..." Garnet responded.
The three guards left, going slowly with the two relatively fit guards escorted Gag out.
"I think we should head back upstairs now." I suggested.
"Hm? Oh, yes... we still need to go finish..." Cadence remembered.
"Hang on a second, Princess, were you and the Captain both in the shower?" The Hoofmaiden cut in.
"...Er, yes, I was, and I was going to go finish..."
"Together?!" Minuette almost squeed.
"No, in our own rooms. Why would we shower together?" I said quickly.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Did you honestly say that, Captain?)
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): That's a good question, though, why would anypony think Cadence would shower with him?)
Of course, I knew exactly what Minuette was implying. Do I look like a foal? I was just playing dumb and trying to avoid the Princess getting flustered at the implications.
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Oh. ...Implying what?)
We went back upstairs. Sunset had apparently went off with Ranger. Twinkle Shine and Minuette however were following us.
"...So, before all that what were we doing? Oh, yes, I'm going to try to get Private Garnet transferred to your medic-less unit. Now, I'm going to go finish my shower, and you should get ready to clear up that matter this morning. I was supposed to be having breakfast with the Neighponese other royals but was pushed back to tomorrow."
"And what's the rest of the day, since I'm to be following you?"
"Well, most of this morning got rescheduled, and the afternoon had one thing ruined. We were supposed to go to the Stock Exchange near lunch, then head over Francis International Shipyards..."
The largest of the city's two civilian ports. Our Flotilla was over in the Navy Shipyards.
"They increased security so that's pushed back. We might visit the area of the riot last night, I understand some Columbian ponies may have been caught up in it."
Right: A neighborhood in the borough wasn't named 'Firefly' for no reason.
"In the evening we're supposed to be heading to a variety performance in honor of the new president. Singers, dancers, comedians, that sort of thing. And Shining, don't you dare suggest we enter Running Gag."
"That...uh, hadn't crossed my mind..."
Even compared to the high pace life of Canterlot this was making mine and everypony's head spin save our Hoofmaiden with an hour-glass cutie mark.
"But, we need to get that suit made up first after the assessments are done."
"Could I get away with Parade Uniform?"
"What?" Minuette wondered, just as we neared my room again.
"Look, I'll show you."
I demonstrated by unlocking my travel trunk and removing the green uniform. It was in need of a little pressing, but you'll never guess what kind of spell I can use for that. "It's neat, but not quite as flashy as Full Dress. It's supposed to be worn when off-duty and representing the guard, so before you ask we couldn't wear them at the Hooviet Embassy since was a formal occasion..."
"Sorry, I'm completely lost. There's all these different uniforms but don't the guards normally wander around in gleaming suits of armor?" Twinkle Shine asked. Cadence had stayed away from the army for the most part, and so had her hoof maidens.
"Heheh." I grinned sheepishly, "A few centuries back, Princess Celestia wanted a uniform for every occasion. We've kinda been gradually dialing back since them. Let me show you."
My regulation volumes were was in that box, the one with the letters and the book Cadence had hopefully forgotten in all the excitement. To ensure Cadence did not notice (and be reminded of) the things also in there, I quickly pulled out Volume Five, containing the right details.
"Here's the uniform regulations, with pictures..." I said, showing them quickly to the Hoofmaiden.
While they looked it all over, I pulled on my armor. I'd need to find a replacement chamfron somewhere...
Cadence seemed to be nodding, but the two hoofmaidens shared an alarmed glance and then spoke up.
"Hm. It's not bad worn, Princess, but I think it's not quite what you were looking for..." Twinkle Shine said.
"Bit too military for off-duty, yes..." Minuette added.
"Yes, and he really could use something to fit in better at some parties, after all, some dignitaries might want a specific dress code..."
What were they up to...
"Okay, so instead of a soldier you want me to look like a hitpony," I groaned.
"Oh, stop moaning. You're getting a suit and that's final. I have a shower to finish. I'll meet you downstairs. Oh, Twinkle Shine, can you dry the Captain off?"
"That's not..." I began to say, but a small wave of warmth washed over me and I was dry.
"...Necessary. Hold on, if it was that quick why'd you tell her to wait earlier?"
She only smiled. "See you later, Captain," she said, trotting off, "Minuette, can you doublecheck Gag and Ranger are alright for me?"
"You mean downstairs with... erm... Princess?"
"Will that be okay, Minuette?" Cadence genuinely asked.
"Y-yes, it will. I promise."
With that, she left. Twinkle Shine following. I decided I'd be better off going to see how the squad was holding up too.
Soon enough, we had stepped inside an embassy canteen largely full of early-birds, Guards, Marines, and some members of Baseplate's unit. Gag was now talking to Audience and a few other Guards, but looked a lot better already, I didn't know about his jokes.
For some reason Minuette had given Audience a wide berth, even though this meant she was avoiding Sunset as well. The other hoofmaiden didn't seem to notice though.
"They seem okay to me..." She muttered to herself.
Ellis was now sitting off beside Lieutenant Price and another Earth Pony, but I was shocked to see him now in the light of day. Ellis is a pretty big guy. He was raised on a farm, after all, and he's an Earth Pony. But right then he looked frighteningly small. Or maybe it was just the fact the other Earth Pony was absolutely huge, I told myself.
Yeah, right, myself replied. Price spotted us, and trotted over.
"Sir, Captain Baseplate was wondering, has Princess Cadenza told you anything about our unit?"
"Uh, no, not yet. Was she supposed to?"
"Well, that's okay, we can tell you shortly and save a little confusion, hopefully. Oh, and I hope you don't mind, but I noticed your Lance-Corporal seemed a bit out of it. I took the liberty of having one of my troopers chat with him."
"Oh. Is he a psychologist?" Minuette cut in.
"Well, no, but from the same hometown, and he can give a little help thanks to Black Thistle training. That's a sort of..."
"I know exactly what it is," she said, giving Audience a meaningful glance.
I decided to cut in.
"Okay... Ellis is in good hooves so I'll speak to him later, I guess. Price, I'm going to need to speak to you somewhere private shortly. Minuette, once you've checked how Ranger and Gag are feeling, would you mind letting Princess Cadence know I'm going to chat with Lieutenant Price in the gardens?"
She'd taken another nervous look at Audience. Great, she was afraid of him. Or worse, attracted.
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Attracted? Why would that be a bad thing?)
Because at the time, I trusted exactly four ponies enough to not object if they were to ask my permission to ask Twilight out. One was suffering an acute stress reaction that threatened to balloon into full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder, one was Lieutenant Cherry Coke, one had a concussion, and the other was Audience.
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Wait. I think I get why you'd trust Audience but what's so special about the others?)
Ellis and Gag because Twilight would probably say no and on top of that neither had displayed any more interest than the cursory glances they give pretty much any cute mare and were decent stallions on the off-chance she said yes, Cherry Coke because he's actually a nice enough guy and a good friend, even if his platoon doesn't like him much for some reason. But why do you think I'd trust Audience with her?
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Because he'd be ready not just to die to protect her but kill.)
...Actually, I trusted him because his Father is a General who writes military history books in his spare time and his mother is an archaeologist, both of which rubbed off on him so she'd probably like him. But you raise a good point. I hadn't considered that angle...
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Oh...)
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus and Earth Pony): YOU'RE GOING OFF-TOPIC AGAIN, SHINING!)
Gah! Okay, okay, Just tell me to stop evading... Uh... get back on topic...
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Are you evading something, Captain?)
No, I mean... Yeah. I am. I'm trying to avoid talking about... well... it's a bad memory and this whole discussion's bringing it all back, not just Columbia but...
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Do you want to take another break?)
...No. I'm fine now. Honest!
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): No, I think maybe you should go have five minutes or so. Here, take this.)
A Game Colt? Hang on, this is the model that was built for unicorns.
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): That's because it's mine. Not hers. But yes, you can borrow it. We'll come get you when we want to resume the interview.)
Well, okay... What game've you got inside? Oh, Invertebrates! That's a great game, the sheep that runs over and plants dynamite is awesome! ... Heh... You named one of the teams after Daring Do characters.
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): He HAS been evading us. Joking around. Jabbering on about trivial matters. I'm fairly sure he knows more about us than he's letting on. And it's been getting worse the past couple of sessions. The more serious the subject matter the more he jokes around and pretend he's doing fine... What do you think?)
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): I've got to agree. We... We might be dealing with a more unknown quantity than we thought.)
(Interviewer's Notes(Earth Pony): Huh? But we know what's got to happen, right? I mean, it's already happened, hasn't it? He's not going to surprise us with something we didn't know happened or that doesn't make any sense, is he?)
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn and Pegasus): ....)
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Is he?)
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Time isn't a river in this world. Not anymore. It's more like an ocean for us. All we can do is hope Shining Armor's working off the same navigation charts as we are and he doesn't sink from the two storms at once.)
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Um... Shall I go get him back?)
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Let's give him a couple more minutes.)