Princess Luna was more than happy to oblige me with my need for office space. In fact, I would dare say she liked the idea. To be perfectly honest, I did, too. Being sergeant meant spending less time with her and that wasn’t something I was ready for just yet. She had been looking after me when I had my weaker moments.
Miley Hooves stood at her post like a true professional. We had discovered that the less she moved, the less likely something was to break. It was a win-win situation for everypony. Her reduction in accidents may have also been due to her newfound confidence. She had finally made guard first class and I knew that made her proud.
I stood quietly at the secretary’s desk, working on my reports. At least that was what it looked like. We really didn’t have much going on and the ponies under my supervision were model guards. That meant there was little to no paperwork to do. It made me wonder what Windchaser had actually been up to. Come to think of it, when I helped her pack up her office, there had been a suspiciously large number of knitted scarves, hats, and socks.
Princess Luna was having tea with Crystal Wishes and I was trying to sketch the two of them together. They were having a heavy discussion about some new book about vamponies. Evidently it wasn’t exactly a promising love story. Drawing is not something I’m excellent at but what else did I have to do? Here I had the opportunity to practice on an alicorn and a unicorn that weren’t moving a lot. Practice makes perfect. That is what Dad always said.
Princess Luna was easier to draw than Crystal Wishes strictly because I had known her longer and didn’t need to stare. I tried to be subtle and look at the unicorn mare when she was busy with her discussion. She caught me a time or two but I just made it look like I was keeping an eye on the place.
She had a braid in her mane that was shaped like a heart. It was an enigma because she had somehow blended the blonde and pink throughout so that they alternated loop over loop. It was clever and unique. It was also a heck of a thing to try and replicate in pencil. I had a lot of time on my hooves though, so I tried.
“Silent Knight?” Princess Luna called.
I looked up and dropped my pencil. “Yes, Princess?”
“Would you be able to escort Crystal Wishes home? It is getting late out,” she asked.
That was an odd request, although typically Crystal Wishes had left by now. A sergeant is never off duty, more or less, but we do have specific hours where we’re expected to be around. Mine had passed. I just had not noticed. “Of course, Princess. I am off hours now. I’ll leave you in Miley’s capable hooves.”
Quietly I rolled up my ‘reports’ and made my way to the door. I opened it and said, “After you, Crystal Wishes.”
We walked quietly together through the streets as I escorted her home. Finally, she broke the silence by asking, “How do you like being a sergeant?”
I shrugged and replied, “It is weird. Being a sergeant is a completely different job than a guard. I’m kind of jealous of Miley.”
“Sometimes success isn’t what we want it to be,” Crystal Wishes offered lightly.
“That is an elegant way to sum it up. That must be your writing superpower.”
She softly laughed and shrugged. “Here we are.” She pointed at a building that looked like a set of nice condominiums. I walked her to the door, opened it, and nodded.
Crystal walked inside and I started to follow alongside her until we got to the stairs. I had no idea which unit was hers and there wasn't enough room for both of us. That meant she’d have to lead. “After you.”
“Well, thank you.” She giggled as she led me up to the third floor and then the fourth door down.
Once I was certain we had reached her condo, I glanced around to make sure it looked safe to leave her. Of course, it seemed like a safe place overall. Good lighting. Stairs nearby in case of emergency. I nodded my approval and said, “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” she replied after a moment of gazing up at me before going inside.
I suddenly wasn’t sure if I should have walked her up to her particular unit. That might have been too invasive, but at least I knew she was home safely. Although I should wait and make sure there were no intruders in her place. If she called out, I’d still be there.
So I waited. There were no sounds. Not that I listened too close to the door. That would have just been weird and inappropriate. No, if she called out I could hear from where I was.
Once I was certain enough time had passed, I nodded and started towards the stairs. That had been enough ‘work’ for the day. I made my way through the city to head home… which was still the same room I'd always had. I just didn’t have a roommate now. Well, sort of.
“You’re late,” Winterspear chided me as I came in the door.
I went to my armor stand and started to undress. “I know,” I said softly. “The princess asked a favor and I knew you’d forgive me.”
Winterspear had come to stay with me after Iridescence and I broke up. It was nice having her there. She was also being a pain in the flank. I hopped onto my bed and stretched out.
“You’re not just going to sleep again are you?” she asked, flapping her wings and hovering between the two beds.
“It had crossed my mind. What did you want to do?”
She frowned. “You’re being mopey. I get being sad, but why mopey?”
I shifted and put my back to her. “You’ll just make fun of me.”
Winterspear moved over so she could loom over me. “Why don’t you try me before you get all judgy? Hmm?”
Rolling onto my back, I looked up at her. “I miss Iridescence. Not in the special somepony sort of way. I just miss my friend. We did things together and now that she is gone, we don’t. I didn’t have friends before, alright? And now, because we tried to date, it's all ruined.
"You can’t stay forever so I don’t want to get used to doing things with you and then losing that, too. It is just better if I focus on being a guard. That is what I’m meant to do.”
Winterspear held her wings still and landed on me in a graceful bellyflop. I huffed at the sudden weight and she poked me in the nose with a hoof. “You had best treat me nice or I won’t come visit ever again. Isn’t it better to have fun and then not than to never have fun at all… or something similar?”
“It doesn’t feel that way but, out of fairness to you, why don’t we go over to the Spearhead Tavern and have a good meal?” I offered, rolling her over and off me.
“Now you’re talking!” she exclaimed, hopping off the bed and tugging me after her with a hoof. She dragged me halfway across the floor before I shook her off and got up.
“Okay, okay! I’ll be fun,” I promised.
The Spearhead Tavern was in full swing when we got there. Following the battle with the changelings, a lot more ponies than usual had started coming in to ‘live it up.’ There was nothing wrong with that and it certainly was good for morale.
Winterspear sat across from me and looked at the wide assortment of ponies inside. “This place is great! I wish we had something similar back home. Our bar is more somber. Too many old warhorses.”
“I don’t come here often but I enjoy it when I do. Also, you should try the hot sandwiches. The one with grilled zucchini and onion is amazing.” I said.
“Okay…” she said, clearly distracted.
Following her gaze, I found myself looking at an earth pony mare. My eyes rolled and I took Winterspear’s chin in my hoof and pulled her to look at me. “Hey, talking here.”
She blinked. “Right, sorry. It so isn’t like this back home. Canterlot is a lot more progressive. So listen… about the not doing things with me because I’ll be leaving soon. What would you say if I said I was staying?”
“I would say I appreciate it but that I’ll be fine.”
Winterspear shook her head. “Not for you. Honest! There is a sergeant position opening in the City Guard I heard about and I’m sick of Cloudsdale. At least here I’d be close to you and you just so happen to have a free bed right now… but I wanted your permission first, is all.”
“Why would you need my permission?” I tilted my head.
“Oh, you know… me horning in on your town, your thing. I realize we’ve been closer lately but I didn’t know if we were that close,” she said plainly, but I could tell she was nervous.
I shook my head. “You won’t be horning in. It would be nice to have you here.”
She drummed her hooves on the table and cheered, “Great! I’ll put in the paperwork tomorrow and send for my things.”
“If you’re going to live with me there will be rules, though,” I said.
“Of course. Let’s negotiate.”
“First rule: no bringing mares home unless you also bring one home for me. Is that clear?”
“Done,” she said seriously.
My eyes went a bit wide and I lifted my hooves. “I was kidding. Please don’t bring any random mares home.”
She pouted. “You’re no fun.”
“Thank you,” I replied.
“I’m sorry, Sergeant, I don’t know how this happened,” Miley’s voice came from the other side of the couch. Her back half was on the side I was on. How she had managed to crash into the thing and go through it I’ll never know. Princess Luna wasn’t telling, either.
Slowly, I circled the furniture trying to figure out the best course of action. When I got behind it, Miley shrugged at me, her front hooves dangling. She was wedged pretty tightly. I stood on my hindhooves and looked over the furniture to the princess.
“Princess Luna… permission to put the couch out of its misery and free Miley?”
The princess’s hoof was to her mouth. She was trying very hard not to laugh out loud and make Miley feel even more embarrassed. Raising her other hoof she waved at the couch and giggled, “Off with its head.”
Dropping back down on all fours, I looked at Miley. “Be really still, okay?” Reaching under my armor, I drew my sword. It had not yet been named and I hoped it wouldn’t be Couch Slayer.
Miley gasped and covered her eyes with her hooves.
First, I made two precise cuts, forming an inverted V from the back of the couch to where Miley was stuck. Then I set my hooves onto each side of the gap and pushed hard. “Okay, try to get out.”
Miley wiggled and pushed against the seat with her back hooves. The furniture groaned and gave away with a loud crack. My earth pony companion tumbled forwards and took me with her. We landed with a thump behind the couch… or what was left of it.
Princess Luna came over to inspect the damage while I stood up and helped Miley to her hooves. “Silent Knight?”
“What sort of paperwork covers this?” she asked with a hint of mischief in her tone.
“Form 35G, page two, section seven,” I said with certainty.
Princess Luna's ears shot up in surprise. “Really?”
I shook my head. “No, Princess.”
Sergeant Orchid and I stood in the lieutenant’s office. His brand new, larger office that had finally been finished. It had a window to the outside and several finer touches to it when it came to wood paneling. Mostly useless things.
On the plus side, he’d returned my office to me, which was kind of him. It was one of the few kind things he did.
“I have a hard time taking these reports seriously,” he said, motioning to the parchment on his desk. “Both of you seem to insist that your guards are perfect. No unit is that efficient. You’re just being lazy.” From his desk drawer he produced a book and tapped it. “Officer’s manual. Every squad should have at least one write-up a month. Try again.”
“Sir, if I may just—” Orchid started.
Lieutenant Haze glared at us both. “You may not. You’re dismissed.”
I turned and walked out. Orchid lingered a minute and looked like she may try to argue. She seemed to think better of it and came out with me.
We walked down the hall and when she was sure we were out of earshot she snorted, “That is the biggest load of gryphon feathers I’ve ever heard.”
Quietly, I walked beside as she ranted on for a few more minutes before she finally looked at me.
“Surely you don’t agree?” she asked.
“I agree that it is in his book. I’m not sure it is necessary for our squads but if that is what he wants it is exactly what he’ll get. Then, when the captain gets back, we’ll see if it persists,” I explained.
Orchid stomped lightly. “How do I give good ponies write-ups? That will break their hearts!”
“My plan is to just sit them all down and explain the situation. Then I’ll put together a rotation and give it to them. When they get a write-up in their rotation month, they’ll know it is just because I have to and not because they did anything wrong. One write-up every eight months won’t really hurt a pony’s career. If they actually need a write-up, they’ll also know it wasn’t a fake one.”
The unicorn mare stopped and stared at me. “You’re a devious mastermind.”
I shook my head. “No, I just know how to work a manual. If Lieutenant Haze wants to go hoof-to-hoof with somepony on policies and procedures, he just met his newest opponent. That road goes both ways.”
“You’re frightening me. I’m not sure I even knew this side of you existed,” Orchid said.
“Nopony messes with my guards and walks away completely unscathed,” I said coolly and turned the corner to go into my office.
Orchid just stood there outside looking shocked. “I’ll keep that in mind,” she called.