Under A Luminous Sky
Jake The Army Guy
Epilogue: A Sign Far Beyond
Six Months Later
Agent Bentgrass yawned loudly as he strolled through the breezeways of Canterlot Castle, the sound of his hooffalls reverberating off the pearl painted walls. He nodded at a passing pegasus carrying a giant stack of papers, gingerly stepping out of his way. As he walked, he ran his tongue across his teeth, grimacing slightly. Blasted overnight trains...
After several more twists and turns, he finally arrived next to a heavy wooden door with the R.I.S. emblem on it. Crossing to the opposite end if the hallway, he checked his reflection in a window. He gently ran a hoof through his styled mane, turning his head slightly to inspect at different angles. Satisfied, he smoothed down his suit, cleared his throat, and opened the door.
He was instantly greeted by the sound of several quills scribbling furiously on parchment. Easing the door shut behind him, he smiled at the mare behind the desk along the left wall. “Mrs. Moonbeam, a pleasure as always.”
The turquoise unicorn looked up at him, and gave him a tired grin, flicking her head to clear the errant strand of mane across her eye. “Agent Bentgrass! How have you been?”
“Apparently nowhere near as busy as you.” He gestured towards the 6 quills floating in a turquoise aura above the desk, each writing on separate pieces of scrolls that hung beneath them.
"Ha! This is nothing! Wait until I get about six more quills in the air, then you can start talking about overworking!"
Bentgrass opened his mouth, but only a loud yawn came out. "Oh, pardon me."
"Overnight train from Stalliongrad. A two week operation followed by a summons from the director. I wonder if I should update my life insurance policy."
She just smiled at him. "The Director is with his grandson, but he's expecting you."
With a final smile and nod, Bentgrass walked to the large door with a frosted window, the words Director Top Notch painted in thick black letters in the middle. He gave a light knock.
Opening the door, Bentgrass saw the Director, greyed mane still impeccably coiffed around his horn, sitting behind his desk. Across from him was a pinto earth pony wearing a grey military cadet’s uniform, his brown mane fashioned into a sharp crew cut. The Director smiled. “Ah, Agent Bentgrass! Please, come in.” Bentgrass eased the door shut and quickly crossed the office, standing before the desk. “Have you met my grandson Pip?”
“Not as of yet.” He gently inclined his head towards the young stallion. “A pleasure to finally meet you. You grandfather speaks very highly of you. I see you’ve been accepted to the Military Academy at West Hoof.”
Pip opened his mouth to speak, but Notch cut him off. “Halfway through the semester, and he’s already at the top of his class,” he said with a wide grin.
“Aw, Granddad...” Pip turned away slightly.
“You know, Pip,” Notch comically lowered his voice, “Agent Bentgrass here spent six years in the Night Guard.”
At this, Pip immediately looked up at Bentgrass, his eyes wide. “You worked for Princess Luna?! That’s so wicked!” He puffed his chest out. “I’m going to be captain of the Night Guard some day!”
“A lofty goal.” Bentgrass smiled at him. “Well, if half of what your grandfather says about you is true, then Captains Anvil and Hammer may have competition in a few years.”
“Pip here is on his Spring Break!” Notch threw a foreleg around Pip, hanging off of him like a foal. “He's cavorting with his lovely young marefriend. What’s her name? Donkey, Dumpy...”
Notch laughed. “Okay, okay, sorry! Say, how about you go down to the Castle kitchen and save us a table. Need to talk a bit of shop with Agrostis here.”
Pip nodded, giggling as Notch ruffled his buzz cut mane. “Sure thing, Grandad! Nice to meet you, Agent Bentgrass.” The agent nodded to him as Pip walked through the door.
As Pip closed the door behind him, Notch looked up to Bentgrass and gestured to the chair with his hoof. Bentgrass eased himself down as Notch spoke. “Now then, Agrostis. I understand you're most likely running on bad coffee and good thoughts, so I'll get right to the point. You remember the Ponyville incident six months ago, yes?"
Bentgrass nodded. "It's hard to forget a time when the fate of the world hung in the balance."
"If I read your report correctly," he said, gesturing to a manila folder on his desk, "a great deal of the credit for closing that case goes to Doctor Sparkle."
"Her contributions cannot be overstated. Were it not for her, things could have gone... much worse."
"And that is exactly the problem!" Notch leaned in, resting his elbows on the desk. "If nothing else, that case highlighted a serious problem with our organization. We are horribly, dare I say laughably, ill-equipped to deal with cases involving the arcane. Only half of our field agents are unicorns, and of those merely a dozen or so of those have any experience with exotic magics like the ones you faced in Ponyville."
Bentgrass arched his eyebrow. "Indeed, it seems we are at a bit of a loss. However, I fail to see what this has to do with me."
"I'm getting there. It was with these facts that I approached Their Majesties with a proposal." He stood, his tired bones creaking quietly as he crossed the room to open a large filing cabinet. "In a nutshell, we are greatly swelling the ranks of Division Six, with the expressed purpose of stacking the field with agents who are well-versed in forbidden magics."
Bentgrass nodded slowly as Notch pulled another plain manila folder from the cabinet. "I see. So, I assume that we are pulling unicorns from the War Department, yes?"
"No." Notched eased himself back into his chair. "A brief chat with General Armor nixed that idea. It seems that combat magic is falling out of favor with the young. He can't spare the mages without compromising national defense."
"Well, then where will we be procuring unicorns well-versed in obscure magic?" He let out a quite laugh. "Surely not academia!"
Notch laughed. "Of course not! I'd not send you into a hostile situation with some aging bookworm."
Bentgrass tilted his head slightly. "Well, then wh—" His eyes widened as it dawned on him. "Oh, no, Director, that is a very bad idea."
Notched raised his hoof. "Now, now, I understand your hesitation, and let me assuage your fear by saying no, they will not be official agents, only probationary."
"Yes. The program started a few months ago. We sent out letters requesting the aid to some of Equestria's foremost experts on dark and forbidden magic. All of them young, in fine physical condition, with a bright head on their shoulders. They will all be assigned a supervisory agent and sent out on random cases, just to test them out. If the agent feels they have what it takes, then the offer will be extended to become an official agent."
Bentgrass studied him for a minute before nodding. "I assume that you wish me to be one of these supervisory agents?"
Notch smiled. "The first actually." He floated the manila folder to Bentgrass, who plucked it from the air. "And here's your case. There’s a rather... cheeky pony down in Manehatten doing very naughty things. Local police are flummoxed, and the bodies are starting to pile up.” He nodded towards the folder. “Everything you need to know is in the file. I want you two on the next train.”
Bentgrass had opened the folder as Notch spoke, his eyes flying across the pages, soaking up the details. After a few moments, he looked back up. "Director, if I may, this seems to be a... rather serious case. I'm not sure guiding somepony around by the hoof is going to expedite things. Besides, is a serial killer really the best way to introduce a civilian to what we do?"
Notch smiled. "Trial by fire, as they say."
"Director, I really would prefe—
“This is not a request, Agent Bentgrass.”
Silence for a beat, then Bentgrass sighed and slumped his shoulders, though a small smile played on his lips. “Very well, Director. Tell me, is she at least any good?”
“I’ve always thought of myself as great.”
Bentgrass jumped ever so slightly at the new voice; he hadn’t even heard the door open. Standing up and turning around, he looked at the new pony. A azure unicorn mare with a blue and white mane stood before him, a smug grin on her face. She wore a white coat, similar to his but with a collar more like a trench coat than his V-neck, that ran down her flank to just above her cutie mark. She approached the desk with a confident swagger, stopping just in front of Bentgrass. “I assume you’re the ‘super agent’ everypony has been telling me about.”
Bentgrass arched his eyebrow, though his smile remained as he raised a hoof. “Special Agent Bentgrass. Pleasure to meet you, Miss...”
The mare maintained her brash smile and gently tapped his hoof.
“Probationary Agent Lulamoon. You may call me Trixie.”
Agents Bentgrass and Lulamoon will return in...
Eye of The Beholder