"Okay...could you please run this by me one more time?" the older guard asked, as politely as he could.
The younger recruit, gulping loudly beside him, tried to recount the events that had led up to this point. "Well, Sir, Sunburst was giving a talk with all of us about new patrol routes around Princess Flurry's chambers."
"Okay," the other stallion remarked.
"And Flurry was just sitting behind him, playing with her toys as usual."
"And then, when Sunburst pointed to one of the doors leading to the new route we were supposed to use tonight, we all looked to it, and...well..."
"Spit it out, recruit!"
"Well...Flurry used her magic to lift up that meeting board with all the new routes on it and it...kinda fell onto Sunburst's head when she let go of it."
Yes, that did indeed seem to be what had transpired as the Captain of the crystal guard looked at this unusual scene before him. Sunburst was on the ground, a nurse by his side as she wrapped some bandages around his head. And all the while, Flurry was in the back, giggling happily as if nothing was wrong. Sunburst, for his part, was completely out of it, having been knocked unconscious by the blow, and the look the nurse was giving the Captain made it pretty clear that he wasn't coming to anytime soon. Grumbling, the Captain looked to his subordinate. "Tell me, Cadet, exactly what do you think we should be doing right now? In case you forgot, Sunburst is the designated Regent while Cadance and Shining are away! And now he's out cold!"
The Cadet nodded solemnly. "Yes, Sir, I can see that."
The Captain frowned. "So who exactly are we supposed to be following until they get back?! They never gave orders on who's in-charge if he went down!"
The Cadet was just as nonplussed as to the power structure as he was, but before he could fumble his way into an answer, he was distracted by the sudden happy gurgling of the little alicorn nearby. He looked to her, seeing her try to chew one of her cuddly toys, when he suddenly got a potentially very dangerous idea. "Um...what about her?"
The Captain stared at him, then to the diminutive Princess, then back to the Cadet. "...Pardon?"
The Cadet shrugged. "Well, she's royalty, right? And alicorns are kinda supposed to be in charge of Equestria as a whole, so...should she be in charge...maybe?"
Slowly, the Captain blinked. "Cadet...that is, without question, the most ridiculous idea I've ever heard in my life!"
The Cadet looked to him. "Even weirder than Lieutenant Trotter's idea of having that Starlight Glimmer mare come in to teach us all time travel magic so we can all go back and eat our lunchtime donuts over and over again?"
The Captain glanced away, grumbling resentfully. "Okay, not that ridiculous." He sighed, looking to the Princess. "I suppose...we can maybe just say she's in charge until somepony more official comes along." He scratched the side of his head. "Really all we need is a name in the top spot. We don't actually need them to do anything." After a long pause, he exhaled. "Okay, fine! Until Sunburst wakes up, Princess Flurry's in charge of the Empire!" He cast a quick glance down to the nurse. "I don't suppose him waking is gonna happen anytime soon, is it?"
Before the nurse could answer, Sunburst himself started talking in his unconsciousness. "Mommy, just five more minutes! I don't wanna go to magic kindergarten today!"
All ponies stared at him blankly, leading to the Captain just sighing with extreme tiredness again. "Right...of course not." Looking to his little Princess, the older stallion walked a few steps towards him and, knowing proper procedure, bowed to her, with the Cadet following suit behind him. "Hail to thee, Princess Flurry Heart, ruler of the Crystal Empire!" He glanced to the side. "At least until your parents come home." Standing up again, he maintained his dignified and formal tone as he addressed her, all while she herself failed to even notice he was speaking to her. "Command us, and we shall obey!"
Now, at this point, the only thing the Captain was expecting was for the infant alicorn to not even acknowledge him, and that she'd just continue playing with her toys as per usual. Sadly, it appeared that fortune was not smiling on him right now, as Flurry seemed to immediately understand what had been said to her. Setting her toys aside, even her infamously-beloved Whammy, the small filly giggled with glee, clapping her hooves together before, surprisingly, actually giving him a response.
"Ba! Babooboo! Babby boo!"
The Captain, understandably unsure of how to take that, leaned over to his younger fellow guard."Any ideas?"
The young Cadet scratched his chin in a display of confusion, his eyes narrowing as he looked to Flurry. "Well, I hear there's a stallion all the way down in Ponyville who speaks baby. Some scientist guy. Maybe we could ask him?"
The Captain frowned. "Do we look like we're in a position to drag somepony all the way from Ponyville for this?!"
Getting the message, the Cadet frantically tried to come up with a more satisfying answer. "Alright then, um...I think she's either saying that she want to review the Empire's tax laws...or she wants us all to dance around while dressed up as frogs."
Slowly, the Captain placed his hoof upon his forehead, letting out the biggest sigh in his life. "Of all the answers you could have given me..."
Both Cadance and Shining laughed among themselves as they finally re-entered their palace, looking quite content with how their journey had gone.
"I tell ya, Cadance, I could never survive talking to all those diplomats without you there with me!"
Cadance nodded in agreement. "It wasn't all bad. Though they could get a little tedious at times."
Shining rolled his eyes. "The only thing more tedious would have been to stare at a wall of grey paint and watch it dry for four hours straight. And trust me, I'd have actually preferred that during our time down there."
They laughed again, but that laugh was short-lived, as they were suddenly greeted by a page rushing towards them, giving a sweeping bow before speaking up in a panicked tone. "Princess! Prince! Thank goodness you're back!"
Recognising the voice of somepony terrorised when they heard it, the married couple immediately assumed more serious moods. "What is it?! Has Sombra returned?" Cadance asked.
"Are we under some kind of attack?!" Shining enquired further.
The page shook her head. "No! It's your daughter!"
Their eyes widening, both ponies rushed past her, galloping as fast as their hooves would take them. They headed straight for the door to the throne room, their combined magic causing it to burst open. "FLURRY!!!" they called out together.
But what greeted them was no disaster or catastrophe, but instead a scene they honestly had no words for. A veritable parade of guards, all dressed as frogs, dancing in front of Flurry, who was comfortably sitting in the royal throne, giggling and clapping merrily. To one side of the chamber was a mountain of soft toys, all looking like they'd just been ordered in, while on the other side were was a buffet being set up that consisted of nothing but ice cream and candies. Beside the throne, unaware of all this, was Sunburst, who was still knocked out, with his nurse doing all she could to try and wake him, though sadly without success. Cadance and Shining looked to this, then to the side, where the page was just trotting in beside them.
"Please...please don't leave us again!"
Looking to one another, barely a moment passed before the husband and wife knew what to say to one another. "So...arrange for two babysitters next time?" Shining asked.
Cadance nodded. "Yes, sweetie...that would be for the best."