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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.

"Yeah, Sir?"

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...?"

"Garnet, Sir."

"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."

Cadence smiled.

"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.

"...Slips. Horseapples."

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?)

Moving on!

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?"

"With pleasure."

"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?"

"Um... Sure."

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.)
Written by LZ0291 and edited by us three.
64K limit strikes again.

Shining Armor is given a two year tour of the world to be the captain of Princess Cadence's body guard. Yeah. That's all. That's everything Yep. Nothing what so ever else. *AJ's Liar face*

"Time is an ocean in a storm."

This storyline runs PARALLEL to the events in the Dark World storyline narrative wise.

Previous Chapter: [link]

Next Chapter: [link]

First Chapter: [link]

The following are notes directly from the chapter's author himself.

Name: Shining Armor Sparkle
Rank: Captain/Commander of the Guard
Age: 25
Cutie Mark: Shield with Stars
Place of Birth: Canterlot
Species: Unicorn

Main Talent: Shields
Secondary Talents: Leadership
Hobbies: Hoofball, Arcade Games, Reading

Notes: Brother of Twilight Sparkle. Background and family history shared with her. Maternal uncle was a sergeant in the Guard. He has a great love of Maresenal Hoofball Club, and is fiercely defensive of his friends and family. He was educated in the Canterlot Guard Academy from the age of 14, and commissioned as an officer aged 18. He was promoted to First Lieutenant aged 21.

Name: Thunderchild
Rank: Sergeant
Age: 26
Cutie Mark: Thunderbolt
Place of Birth: Manehattan
Species: Pegasus

Main Talents: Thundercloud-based skills
Secondary Talents: Low altitude flight, ramming
Hobbies: Racing, Thunder Guitar, arcade games.

Notes: Thunderchild gained his cutie mark learning about thunderclouds in Flight School. He was named for being born during a thunderstorm. He previously worked as private weather control for the Orange family's orchards north of Manehattan before starting Guard basic training six months before his eighteenth birthday. Unlike many pegasi he prefers low altitude flight and has no claustrophobia issues. He enjoys playing thunder guitar, a pegasus instrument that is basically guitar strings that get stuck into a thundercloud and played with the wings. He made Corporal by the age of 22 and Sergeant two years later.

Name: Ellis Bitter Apple
Rank: Lance-Corporal
Age: 23
Cutie Mark: Apple containing a Wrench
Place of Birth: Savanneigh
Species: Earth Pony

Main Talent: Engineering
Secondary Talents: Cider-making, wood carving, explosives
Hobbies: Walking, wood carving, cart racing

Notes: Ellis is from the city of Savvaneigh, and his branch of the apple family mostly specializes in cider-making and woodworking. They recycle bruised apples and fallen trees from other Apple farms around Equestria. They also have close bonds with some other Savvaneigh families that make cheese and carts. Ellis got his cutie mark from repairing the cider presses, and also has a talent for working on carts thanks to his friend Heath being the daughter of prominent cart makers. Ellis also enjoys many forms of cart racing, but has an affinity for NASCART stock racing especially.

Name: Captive Audience
Rank: Private
Age: 21
Cutie Mark: Crossbow over an abacus
Place of Birth: Hoofington
Species: Unicorn

Main Talent: Mathematic skills applied to shooting
Secondary talents: Vision based spellls, light based spells, object guidance (EG steer arrows in flight)
Hobbies: Reading (mostly non-fiction), Chess

Notes: Audience is actually a General's son (Brigadier General Audience), and his mother is a prominent archaeologist who gave some technical advice for Daring Do novels. He gained his cutie mark shooting a manticore that attacked a friend. His preference for history books comes from his parents as his father writes military history in his spare time. His skill in shooting is strongly tied to an affinity for mathematics, allowing him to better judge ranges and windage of shots.

Name: Running Gag
Rank: Private
Age: 19
Cutie Mark: Globe symbol
Place of Birth: Manechester
Species: Pegasus

Main Talents: Languages
Secondary Talents: Stealthy movement, agile flight.
Hobbies: Comedy, Hoofball, Manega

Notes: Gag was born in Manechester, his mother and father running classes to teach immigrants Equestrian. His talent for languages became apparent when he could understand foreign students of his parents when they spoke their native languages. Despite his name he is not a particularly fast runner or even flier, but can move quite stealthily and is quite an agile flier. He is widely known for poor jokes, and acts as a spotter for Audience to form a markspony team when required to scout.

Name: Garnet Chambers
Rank: Private
Age: 20
Cutie Mark: White Cross in Red Circle
Place of Birth: Esto Gaza
Species: Earth Pony

Main Talents: Medical Knowledge
Secondary Talents: Running, Rock Farming
Hobbies: Rock Farming, Dancing

Notes: Garnet was formerly a medic in another unit until Princess Cadenza requested her transfer. She was born in the rock farming town of Esto Gaza in Yokeshire. She earned her cutie mark assisting a friend who had broken her leg. She joined the Guard to gain further experience as a medic with the hope of possibly becoming a full doctor.

By way, music recs on this bit:
Soundtrack Recommendations
Dream Scene
Winter Wrap-Up, Daniel Ingram, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Radio when SA showers
Black Dog On My Shoulder, Manic Street Preachers, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours

While playing Invertebrates.
Worms Main Title, Bjørn Lynne and Andy Severn, Worms

Talking with Baseplate and Price
Big Daddy Kills, John Murphy, Kick-Ass

Ellis's Assessment
Heroes Theme, Jack Wall, Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Little note: When Thunderchild is playing the guitar, I imagined he did the opening riff to
The Game by Motorhead

MLP: FIM: Copyright Hasbro

20121216: Full edits and revisions all around. By LZO and Kendell2.
Add a Comment:
The chapter begins with Shining and his squad having calm and quiet tasks in Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. Since Winter-Wrap-Up is tomorrow there are not many students and guests around and the task is actually very easy. Everything is so nice and calm that the pegasus interviewer starts to get bored with the unicorn and starts to mock him. Considering what Shining's exiting days are like, he really deserves more normal days. Running Gag is reading Narutrot (Naruto) and claims that it is "technically loosely based on true events three hundred years ago." I don't believe it. Meanwhile Shining is struggling trying to process a Sunny Day article and it seems to begin to slowly erode his ability to form sentences. And since that lovely lady is actually Princess Celestia she never insults Twilight, Cadence, or Princess Luna and fights against the "Molestia stories." In fact she actively praises these three but considering the others things she writes about herself, the term Trollestia still comes to mind. The article is a story about an Unidentified Flying Objects which was actually Twilght's weather balloon. Just kidding, some pegasi were messing with light bulbs and thunderclouds. I wonder if the ponies have their own version of the Loch Ness monster as well. According to Sunny Day new airships were tested in secret. I always loved this explanation for UFOs. Why would the military test something secret so close towards populated areas if there are plenty of uninhabited areas to test it instead? There is also a short mention of a small article talking about the collision of a Air Navy destroyer with a cargo ship and considering that the important news are usually not that flashy, this might be important later.

Suddenly Spike runs into the room and wants Shining to help Twilight since she is not feeling well. Her brother immediately and very literally rushes into action and leaves the dragon behind. And in his panic he notices many, many, many, many books in Twilight's room but needs some time to process that his sister is there as well. It turns out that her illness is a mere cold. It is something very minor but the castle's apothecary and Lemon Hearts are no longer willing to supply cold relief after the students started to abuse that to pretend to be sick. At least Lemon Heart didn't take her lemons and burned down life's house with them. Spike can't get the cold relief himself since he is known for using something like this to add a topping to his gemstone meals. Shining leaves and is about to begin his epic quest for medicine but Running Gag catches him and it seems the squad was able to figure out that Twilight might have a cold and Gag was sent to bring some to the unicorn.

But it turns out that there is nothing left and they would have to go into the city to get some. Shining pragmatically walks back in and tries to get his sister to go to bed and get some rest. Predictably she is too focused on studying to just accept this. And she sounds just adorable like this. Her brother tries to argue with her and points out that the room is way too drafty for her to continue like this. Suddenly Sergeant Harper (likely named after the character from Sharpe) is standing behind them. He is a pegasus from Emerald Isle and both his appearance and character intimidate the other soldiers. Gag thinks he is a dragon disguised as a pony, the total opposite of what the dragon jerks claimed Spike was. Shining tries to slowly describe the situation but the Sergeant already knows what is going on. Apparently Lieutenant Coke's platoon is responsible for the lack of medicine and the Sergeant’s empathy for them is horribly fake. He is also pragmatic enough to suggest Twilight to get some rest but she isn’t giving up that easily, even if someone like him tells her to do it.

Then Harper offers an alternative: The sick unicorn goes with her brother to the assistance desk and Running Gag and he will seek some medicine in the city. Shining tries to get the Princess involved but thanks to Spike that is hardly any problem. It seems the unicorn is genuinely worried about letting Gag leave alone with the Sergeant. Soon the brother has his answer from the Princess herself and she is showing sympathy for her stubborn student and her loyal and dutiful brother and guard. He even has to blush as he reads this. So he decides to get some blankets for his sister to keep her warm but she again rejects his extra care. It reminds both on a similar event where she was sick and her brother managed to beat himself accidently with a branch. She apparently laughed at much that she had to be brought to the hospital. No matter how clumsy his attempts can be, he will always try his best to be there for his little sister.

And it was all just a dream. After everything he had to go through Shining expected dreams that would show fear of the Blank Wolf, death or Mr. Makarov but instead he got a dream that shows that he is worried about his little sister. As he goes into the shower his replacement alarm clock radio becomes active and we get the start of the song Black Dog On My Shoulder and if you know this song, then you might know the ending: “There’s a black dog a coming tonight.” That is not a good omen. Shining reacts calmly and crashes into the shower head causing him to fall in the shower. This time he has better security and some guards enter immediately, only to find the embarrassing and non-threatening situation.

Cadence, Sunset and Twinkle Shine follow very soon. The Alicorn is worried while the griffin finds the entire situation just hilarious. As Shining walks outside to meet his superior he notices that she bolted outside her own shower to come to his aid. The room is a mess but the important items are still there: The letter from Twilight and the picture of her and her friends. Shining also briefly talks about the letters he has prepared in case something happens to him so that at least his loved ones will hear on last time from him. The unicorn interviewer seems somewhat shaken by the idea. But such preparations would likely do very little if the Blank Wolf would come for him. Then all traces would be erased.

Meanwhile Cadence looks inside the sixth Royal Guard regulation book and finds the list of every Equestrian Royal Guard who died in the last 400 years in line of duty. And it seems that Cadence had nightmares after the last night and considering that it involved letters, she might have dreamed that Shining died and that she had to take care of his last letters and there is surely one for her as well. Soon the Earth Pony Private Garnet seems genuinely worried about the unicorn and having a connection to life surely makes earth ponies very good medics (and assassins). Cadence becomes interested in the situation and since she couldn’t sleep that well last night, she read a bit and noticed that his command squad should have 6 members including a platoon medic. Shining wonders where the medic was the last night when he could have really needed one but then Garnet was at the train station. The unicorn is curious how the Princess could even hear the ruckus in his room but it was the magic of open windows that made this possible.

For various organisational reasons Shining didn’t have a medic in his team when he could have needed one the most. The Princess points out how easily this could have led to his death. He still seems hesitant about taking a medic out of one unit and adding one to his own squad but the Alicorn is much more willing to do this and points out that as a Commander he can also do this. Cadence decides to take care of this herself and to talk with Garnet’s officer about it. Next she orders the unicorn to hurry with his assessments so that he will be ready at ten. Then she continues to show her commanding skill by ordering Garnet to take her immediately to her leader but she also shows her ability to overlook certain details like the fact that the Alicorn walked just out of a shower. Sunset tries to remind her that both she and her knight in shining armor got out of the shower but it comes out the wrong way. The unicorn interviewer shows her dictionary abilities and translates the sounds Twinkle Shine is making. Shining notices that it seems that innuendos keep stalking him and soon all the water the Alicorn left on her track here causes someone else to slip. Both Cadence and Shining share the same kind of bad luck.

The two victims where Ranger and Gag, the first one slipped and as the second one tried to save him both of them crashed into the glass display cabinet. Someone got hurt from all the glass and since he wasn’t in armor, Gag was injured worse. Gustave Le Grand seems to work at the kitchen staff and is busy trying to revive the fainted pony chef as other guards stop anybody from reaching the two fallen guards. Ranger seems much more worried about the head injury of his friend and unfortunately the fainted pony was the one responsible for first aid in the kitchen. Garnet begins her first test and examines Gag with the aid of the equipment of her chamfron. It seems all the time he remembers with Twilight has rubbed off and Shining thinks about how this equipment is useful for reading. But the situation is not as harmless as it seemed and Gag can only stare blankly at the medic.

A pegasus tries the horrible joke that it at least didn’t hit someone important and Cadence gives a cold remark and an intimidating glare at this kind of humor. This would be Discord’s sense of humor. In this most inappropriate time Gag himself jokes that he is very important like the Queen of Eagleland. It is incredible. He actually managed a funny joke that showed that he was not gone and cheered Shining a bit up. Then Gag tries to explain his problems to concentrate as being distracted by the cute medic before him. She takes it with humor and continues her own duty. Meanwhile the unicorn takes the chance to make clear that while he does make fun of Running Gag’s sense of comedy, he does admire his skills as a translator and as a soldier. But most importantly, he likes him as a person. Soon Minuette begins to take care of the second injured soldier. Garnet reveals her results: It is definitely a concussion but with a 48 hour break, someone there to take care of him and maybe the aid of a doctor he will recover. Next Minuette wonders if all the cute soldiers will get injured and Shining sees that Gag didn’t notice that she just called him cute. The unicorn doesn’t seem to notice the fact that she just called him cute as well. But for now Running Gag is more focused on Private Garnet. A classical case love at first sight and injury.

Shining tries to lighten the mood with a joke as well but nobody does seem to find it funny in this situation. However he does manage to get Gag to talk a bit about his family including his siblings Couch Gag and Overly Long Gag. It seems the reason that Overly Long Gag has this name was that it took forever for her to get born. Ranger was much luckier then Gag and only got few damaged feathers and some light cuts, he will be fine. Cadence feels horrible that one act of well-intentioned carelessness could have such consequences and Gag is still determined to cheer them all up. He wonders if Mr. Makarov should have spilled a few drinks instead of bringing armies and death tanks to kill them all. Somehow I wonder if Mr. Makarov would be tempted to claim that this was also part of his plan. The unicorn again tries a joke by proclaiming that concussions were the key to make Gag funny and they should do that more often. The reaction is predictable cold and Minuette immediately scolds him. Eventually Gag is escorted away to eat something. So now Shining and Cadence need to continue in the shower what was interrupted. The innuendos really write themselves with these two. Minuette still searches for hints of romance but the unicorn thinks quickly and speaks up against her hopes. It seems the earth pony interviewer still doesn’t understand what they are talking about but Shining decides to skip ahead.

Sunset is together with Ranger, while Twinkle Shine and Minuette are still together with Shining and Cadence. The Princess still wants to finish her shower, add Private Garnet to his squad and many of her plans for today were cancelled by the crisis the city just had. In the evening they will have to visit a variety performance in honor of the new president. As the unicorn still needs a suit for such events, he suggests his Parade Uniform but in the end the two hoofmaidens speak up against it. There is no hope to escape the suit. And it turns out that Twinkle Shine was able to dry the unicorn within such a short time that he notices that it is somewhat suspicious that she didn’t just do that earlier. Maybe she hoped that the wet look of both the soldier and the Princess could lead to something romantic. And Minuette has still not yet recovered from what she had learned in the last chapter but Cadence would be there for her.

Soon the unicorn is in the embassy canteen and it seems that Gag begins to recover. It seems both Minuette and Private Captive Audience want to have some quiet time. Lance-Corporal Ellis Bitter Apple is also still struggling with what he had to see in the brutal battle. None of them are able to shake off the psychological effects that easily, their recovery will take some time. Lieutenant Price noticed that Bitter Apple needs help and has sent one of his troopers to aid him. Not only is he from the same hometown but thanks to the Black Thistle training he is better prepared to deal with this kind of situation. Shining wants to talk with the Lieutenant in private and he seems unsure if Minuette is afraid or in love with Captive Audience. It seems there were four ponies Shining would trust enough to let them ask Twilight out: Ellis Bitter Apple, Cherry Coke, Running Gag and Captive Audience. Now that is slightly overprotective but in the wedding episode Twilight acted similar towards her brother. It seems Bitter Apple and Running Gag are just suggested because the unicorn knows that nothing will come from this but he genuinely thinks that Cherry Coke would be a nice guy for his sister. The unicorn interviewer thinks that Captive Audience would be willing to die and kill for her but Shining actually thought more about the influences his family had on him and that this could make Twilight like him. Soon the other two interviewers notice that he keeps changing topics to avoid talking about something. But they are willing to give him a break and the pegasus interviewer hands him a gamecolt (Gameboy) with Invertebrates (Worms) in it. The unicorn happily talks about his favourite weapon in that game and how the interviewers clearly love Daring Do if they had named one of their teams after these characters. And Worms can be a very entertaining game if you set up chain reactions or poke the enemy into the water.

And the unicorn notices that Shining becomes harder and harder to talk with. Just like with the injury of Running Gag he keeps joking when the times get darker. She wonders if he has noticed how strange the three are. The pegasus is also worried what might happen next but the earth pony is sure that nothing too strange could happen since this is just a flashback leading up to the royal wedding, nothing more. But the other two know that events might play out very differently. If this was all really how it should be then why is the Blank Wolf hunting Shining at all? The unicorn was part of the heart world and has an important role in the royal wedding, taking him out would seem very strange under these circumstances. Then again the problem might be that the circumstances are very different from what they seem to be. Erasing Shining would make perfect sense if these were the events that would lead up to the world where Discord was not defeated. There Twilight didn’t have a brother.

Overall this was an enjoyable chapter with more character development and the introduction of a new character to Shining’s squad. The dream at the beginning and his thoughts about potential partners for Twilight really show how much the unicorn cares for his little sister. Many of the other characters are still struggling with what they had to go through and it is clear that more will be waiting for them ahead. Even now when everything seemed safe, a simple mistake led to a serve injury.
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Allanpike Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
... He's avoiding something? And... the interviews are afraid? That's... worrying. Very worrying...

I... wonder if when he said they died, he was actually telling the truth...
yoshiegg64 Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013
Small typo "I give her credit (were) credit is due." Were to where.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013
Done. Thank you.
eric-emanwu Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012
Also, the minibios were great, particularly in building up the idea of these characters being real ponies.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012
Be sure to tell LZ0 that.
eric-emanwu Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012
This chapter feels slow. Perhaps part of it is because I enjoyed the previous two so much. So, it appears this chapter takes a turn for the comical. With Shining going through the aftermath of the battle, and hijinks.

That's not to say the hijinks aren't fun. I adore Gag's jokes, particularly about his two siblings. It appears the gag family is a long and proud line of comic ponies. Also, the water jokes were also pretty funny.

Which of course will make the innuendos pointless once the wedding happens. That in of itself is really funny.

Actually though, the most interesting part of the story for me was the last bit: where the interviewers discuss things amongst themselves about shining being nervous. The fact of the matter is that We might be in for a shocking swerve in story. We may be heading towards the letter cadence sent back home, but from how the interviewers are talking, it seems that there might be something unexpected ahead.

Come to think of this, does this mean Routa Fortuna DIED? Is that why time is an ocean rather than a river now? Without the paths of fate, there's no sure anchor any longer, and with the heart world far far away, the dangerous possibility of inconsistancies is flaring.

And who are these interviewers that they suspect that shining knows their true nature?

Questions upon questions in this relatively slow chapter.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012
"This chapter feels slow. Perhaps part of it is because I enjoyed the previous two so much. So, it appears this chapter takes a turn for the comical. With Shining going through the aftermath of the battle, and hijinks."

That the plot is dragging it's feet has been considered a problem by Louis and Kendell2 for a while ironically.

"That's not to say the hijinks aren't fun. I adore Gag's jokes, particularly about his two siblings. It appears the gag family is a long and proud line of comic ponies. Also, the water jokes were also pretty funny."

LZ0 will be happy to hear that one.

"Which of course will make the innuendos pointless once the wedding happens. That in of itself is really funny."


"Come to think of this, does this mean Routa Fortuna DIED? Is that why time is an ocean rather than a river now? Without the paths of fate, there's no sure anchor any longer, and with the heart world far far away, the dangerous possibility of inconsistancies is flaring."

If she died, cause and effect would cease to have any meaning.

"Questions upon questions in this relatively slow chapter."

I hope you get some answers soon.
eric-emanwu Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012
"Come to think of this, does this mean Routa Fortuna DIED? Is that why time is an ocean rather than a river now? Without the paths of fate, there's no sure anchor any longer, and with the heart world far far away, the dangerous possibility of inconsistancies is flaring."

If she died, cause and effect would cease to have any meaning.

Phew! Thank the alicorns and draconequi that fate itself was preserved in the war of the gods. Maybe she fated herself to survive? Still though, I suppose that with Time as both a tree and an ocean, the truth about where the POV shining series stands is sure to be important.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012
Yes. Very much so. And hints in the dark world just keep on comig.
ardashir Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
"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 were 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?

Heh heh heh. I wonder if anyone aside from Luna and Twilight has figured out that Celestia is Sunny Day? She's giving them enough evidence with the way "she" talks about Twi, Cadence, and Luna.

And Shiny's panic-stricken horror when Twilight got sick seems a bit much even for an over-protective brother. Or did she already have a major sickeness before this that scared her family so badly that they were jumpy for some time afterwards? That would seem like the likeliest answer.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
Cadence does mention "I don't think I'm supposed to know." In earlier chapter to something while talking about Sunny Day.
ardashir Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
Sounds like Cadence suspects but isn't sure.

And by the by, you might want to check out BrutalityInc's latest journal. Things seem to be getting difficult on his end.
MultaeKappae Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012
Great Chapter.
'Black Dog' makes me think of 'Last Call' by Tim Powers
The ocean of time makes me think of the 'Oceans Unmoving' storyline of Sluggy Freelance.
This story is entirely it's own entity to me, however.

noticed one problem:

"They're increase 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."

I think you either meant ' ... increased security ... ' or 'There's an increase in security...'
ardashir Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
Ah great to meet another Powers fan! But how does 'Black Dog' put you in mind of 'Last Call'? I'm afraid it's been some time since I read it; more of a Declare and On Stranger Tides fan myself.
MultaeKappae Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
the... protagonist of 'Last Call' keeps running into manifestations of the Tarot, and one of the classic symbols of the Fool Card is a little black dog nipping at the heels of the fool as the motley teeters on the edge of a cliff. In the story the protagonist keeps running into Black Dog Beer in odd places.

The specific mention of a 'black dog' and the whole 'undercurrents of a deeper reality' part reminded me of this story. The actual narratives aren't very similar (I like LZ0's Shining more than the main character of Last Call, for one thing).

How did you make the text italic?
ardashir Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
Ah, thanks for reminding me about that aspect of the Fool. I'd forgotten about Dondi Snayheever.

And you make text italic like this: < (the letter I > and then at the end of the intended italicized text </ (the letter I) >

When you actually do it you do it without a space between the '<' '>' and the I.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012

And thank you VERY VERY VERY much for the comments. Lets me know people are still reading the pony pov series after all.
MultaeKappae Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012
Happy to oblige.
BrutalityInc Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
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..."

And thus the mysterious entity casts its omnious shadow further. That is good foreshadowing.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012
If a big black doggie of nothingness even casts a shadow.
BrutalityInc Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012
Richforce Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Nice work, I take it this may actually be the Dark World Shinning and he's working through what eventually happened to him?
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
You'll see.
ardashir Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Yay, more Shining Armor!

Sorry to be a pain, but I think I may have seen some minor errors.

"Uh, yeah..." I said, heading outside, closing it behind m

Should that be 'me' at the end?

Twinlke Shine giggled.

Might that be 'Twinkle' Shine?

And I love this 'Sharpe's Troopers' Shout-Out!

"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.

Sergeant Harper? From Ire -- Emerald Isle? :rofl: Great work!

Ah, so it was a dream! I was wondering what happened there.

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.

And now we know that Shiny is a stallion with an eye for a long, flowing mane. :) And nice touch about the letters 'just in case'. That does sound like something he'd do.

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.

Er, sorry, but this line confuses me -- "the six-week course on how to hold the patient's lungs in"? What do you mean by 'hold their lungs in'? Given my nasty imagination I'm imagining this as teaching some pony how to make sure a fellow Guardspony's internal organs might not fall out through a wound...

And then some real injuries as Gag gives himself a concussion (which at least improves his humor) and he has to be taken care of. The poor guy; I am wondering if there is anything 'deeper' about this little incident. And was that Gustave the griffin pastry chef we (briefly) saw in that mention of 'a griffin with a ridiculous mustache'?

And we get more of the hoofmaidens shipping poor Shiny and Cadence. Pity the poor mare and stallion.

I love the reasons given for why Shining would trust four ponies around his little sis Twilight,, especially this reason for Audience: ...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...

Yeah, Twi would probably enjoy a date like that!

And then at the end some very, very unsettling comments about Shining and the Interviewers. It seems that something VERY nasty is about to happen to the poor unicorn. For that matter, why is he taking their existence so calmly? Hasn't he noticed that apparently no one else can even see them?

Great chapter here, and I'm looking forward to discovering the answers to these questions in future chapters!
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Not much I can say since LZ0's the author this chapter. So I'll just say thank you very much.
Kendell2 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist

That song, specifically the placement, actually creeped me out a little bit.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
The radio song?
Kendell2 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist
Yes, that.

Reminded me of Jeepers Creepers. Honestly, the use of the title song in that movie was the scariest thing for me.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Kendell2 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Hobbyist
Paleb05 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
A Shadow who Watches over the many Timelines: Interesting, Shining Armor is hiding something and the Interviewers are getting worried about this. Maybe we can finally figure out the connection between Shining Armor and Dark World.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Paleb05 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
How soon will we see the other half of part 8?
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Very. I just want to see readers reactions first.
Sherlock-Holmes18 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
*Good chapter, but it doesn't seem like a whole lot happens in it.

* I was initially confused by the beginning, but then it turned out to be a dream.

* The scene with Shining slipping in the shower was pretty funny.

* Running Gag also slips and falls, but his fall was somewhat less funny in that he got a concussion. Luckily it doesn't seem too serious.

* So does this mean that Garnet is something of a sixth ranger to Shining's group?

* We also learn that Running Gag has two younger siblings named Couch Gag and Overly Long Gag. I really would not be surprised if he actually does have a relative named Cutaway Gag.

* Twinkle Shine sure does seem to love her innuendo.

* I misread a scene and thought that Minuette was avoiding Sunset, and I was going to ask why. But then I read it again and it turned out it was Audience she was avoiding. That makes much more sense.

* That final scene is interesting. I guess I'll have to wait and see if Shining really does know more than he lets on.
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
"*Good chapter, but it doesn't seem like a whole lot happens in it.
Louis is noticing this too with LZ0's work.
eric-emanwu Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Hmmm, so time is an ocean, Shining's having emotional trouble recounting events, and the interviewers think they've been had on who they are. There's something VERY troubling that's approaching in the Shining Armor stories, and the world of the Shining flashbacks is about to hit a bump. Suspicions on top of suspicions. This must have been pinpoint coordinated with commander alex and the dark world, because I get the feeling that something very big is about to happen. Why else have an interviewer only section?
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
"and the interviewers think they've been had on who they are."

Huh? How'd you get that one?
eric-emanwu Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
I'm fairly sure he knows more about us than he's letting on.

Why would they bring this up if their identities might be getting close to being compromised in their identity?
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
I think you're super tired. Or I'm super tired.
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