Good news, I’m more Edward now. It’s good news because fangs are precisely what I wanted right now. Tattoo, freaky yellow eyes, green hair, horse ears and tail, fangs, genderswap, what’s next? Should I try to suck blood? Get HIV? Can horses even get HIV? Probably not.
My furry ears are met with a sound that seems like a cross between the shrill shriek of a red-tailed hawk and the soft cry of singing that you would never expect to hear from a bird. It has notes, like someone humming. I turn my head to look at Sun. “Did you make that noise?”
The flame-colored bird cocks her head at me. Then she emits the sound again, this time without the screech.
I stand, noting how my legs differed in anatomy now. My knees were seemingly missing and my ankles are where my knees once were. There are streaks of gray fur along the lower halves of my legs, but they seem to be absent above my knee/ankle things.
The time has at last come for me to leave this wretched bathroom. I walk a bit, forgetting that a certain something was missing. I freeze and then sigh. I’m done. I’m so, so done. If it wasn’t real before it is now and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Suddenly I am overcome with nausea. Oh no! I can’t go down aga...
The older ponies stood above me, forcing me to cower in fear. “You’ll never be a lunar guard! You’re too dumb and weak!”
“I can do it! I believe in Luna! I believe in the power of night!” I cried out.
“Don’t be a silly filly. Luna would never choose you to guard her.
The room was large and almost as intimidating as the guard that stood in front of me and the rest of the new trainees. He was taller than most ponies and had muscles rippling under his gray pelt. His glaring, yellow eyes seemed to burn off my fur, sear my leathery wings.
“AttenTION!” He yelled out. His voice was almost as harsh as Luna’s when she addressed us with the Royal Canterlot Voice. “You all think you want to be Luna’s guards? You think you have what it takes? Well, let me tell you this. Luna only gets the best of the best for guards. The elite. You need more strength than a bodybuilder, more speed than a wonderbolt! More intimidation than ol’ Celestia herself!”
Well, I had speed. Strength, not so much. But I had to try!
“If you don’t think you have this, then leave NOW!” The guard ordered, stamping his hoof on the ground. No pony left.
The guard made his way to the first stallion in line. “You certainly have muscle, but are you fast? To me, you look like a slug could beat you in a race!”
The stallion shrank back in fear as the guard made his way down the line. I attempted to calm my racing heart, my quickening breath, but I still jump when I hear the guards voice closing in.
“You.” The guard said to the mare beside me. “What do you have to offer?”
The mare grinned in a sly way. “Pshh, this reminds me of that reality television show with the Wonderbolts! I’m not afraid of you!”
“Cocky, are we? I’m sure that will change. If your hooves can even take you from this line, that is.” The guard turned toward me. “Please, what a joke! You’re smaller than my cat!”
“G-Give me a chance!” I stuttered, desperately trying to get my words out.
“Why should I? Why shouldn’t I kick you out now?”
My voice wouldn’t come. I tried so hard, but it wouldn’t come out. Then a surge of courage rose up in me, like a burning fire freshly lit. “My mother is part royalty. She’s a descendant of Queen Lunibris.”
He raised an eyebrow, “You can’t be all THAT connected to her. You look more like an exiled sun-worshiper.” Then he moved on to the next pony, another stallion.
Despite my comeback, I still took what the guard said to heart. Maybe he was right, maybe I couldn’t be a lunar guard. And all those who don’t make it have to work in the awful, low paying city. I couldn’t do that to my mother, who despite her former royalty, was now poor as dirt.
“Now we will do one on one combat. Only the winners get to stay. Go all out and remember, this will hurt. You,” The guard pointed at me, “Will be facing off against Brawny Hoof.”
I looked at my opponent and gulped. He was twice my size and his sleek gray fur hid powerful muscles underneath. The motto coursed through my brain until I was screaming in my head:
We are POWERFUL
We are STRONG
With might, we will NEVER be vanquished!
His blond mohawk to his large hooves, this hulking beast was the living definition of strength.
I barely heard the guard cry out for us to go, but I’m glad I did, not that it would have saved me from the crushing pain that soon followed. Brawny Hoof slammed into me and threw me up with such force that I was surprised he didn't break every bone in my body. I slammed to the ground, already feeling defeated. Unfortunately for me, Brawny didn't stop there. He charged me again, but this time, I managed to get to my hooves and nimbly evade his movements.
I looked back at the stallion. He was clearly disoriented by his prey escaping from his grasp, so I took that moment to leap on his back. I slammed my hoof down on his spine and he yelped in pain. Hooves, who knew? I had little time to celebrate as shortly after, I found myself hurtling through the air, bucked off. I landed on my hooves, but sound found myself in the same predicament as before with him ready to charge me. I could do the same thing I did before, but I would wear myself out before I actually did some damage. No, I could use my ground speed to my advantage and outwit him.
Just before Brawny crashed into me, I sidestepped and stuck out my hoof, tripping him and letting him crash into the ground. I rushed over and did a pivot before kicking him in his face. Had he been smaller, there would have been no way for me to hit him like that without falling.
He staggered upward one more time, but his movements were sluggish compared to before. He was likely in shock that I actually hit him that hard. He lumbered over to me, casting a large shadow on my body. Then he reared up on his hind legs. I realized too late what he was about to do and I found myself crushed under the huge mass. I struggled to breath. I struggled to hear. I could barely make out words.
“Enough!” The weight lifted and I sat up, my mane a mess and sweat dripping down my gray coat. The guard stepped right up to me and in my face he spat, “You lost! That just proves you aren’t fit enough to be here.”
I was about to make a retort about how Brawny didn’t really do anything when it seemed the entire room darkened. Other ponies looked around, fear and shock mingled in the air. “Stop. This pony has proven worthy.”
I looked up and beheld a rare sight. The midnight blue coat. The flowing starry mane. I was looking at Princess Luna herself. “Thou hast done well, faithful pony. Unlike our sister, We will not waste time dawdling.” She turned to the guard. “Thou must now make a rule. Add it to thy motto. We are powerful. We are strong. We are clever. Teach thy recruits the ways of intelligence and wit in battle. It seems even we need to learn lessons from time to time. And you.” The princess addressed me again. I was surprised by her suddenly more casual talk. “You have trouble in your future, but you will stand strong. However, I have been watching you. You would make a great tactician. The prime example of a fine guard and I couldn’t be more proud of someone related to me; Even if many generations and family trees lie between us. Remember, you have forever changed the ways of the lunar guards and though your kingdom may be gone, your status remains in your heart, Nocturna, princess of the Dusk Warriors.”
So much for ‘Might will vanquish everything.’ I watched as Princess Luna extends her wings and takes off. I don’t take my eyes off of the serene princess until she is out of sight. Then I hear the clearing of the throat from behind me. Sheepishly, I turn to see the guard. He glared at me with his stone cold eyes. Then his gaze softened, “Princess Nocturna, I am sorry”
I couldn’t help but let out a snort. Just a moment ago he didn’t seem to care about my former status. Still, former is former. “Sir, I am no longer a princess. My kingdom doesn’t exist.”
“Princess Luna referred to you as a princess, so a princess you are.” The guard insisted.
I didn’t have the will to argue with the guard so I merely shrugged.
“You both will continue on in training, but I need time to rethink this entire regime. Go back to the dorms. All of you.”
The guard waved us away, seemingly done, but I swear I heard him mutter “Damn you, princess” and it made me wonder just who he was talking about.
I could feel another hot gaze on my back and I turned to see Brawny. Heh, no doubt he was pissed. He beat me fair and square (Mind you, by doing next to nothing) and yet I still got to move on. Oh and did I mention I was personally addressed by Princess Luna? Yeah, pretty cool.
The guard had brought us to a clearing in a very small, lightly wooded forest. At one end of the forest I could make out a dark blue banner, on the other side, a light pink banner.
“All of you be partaking in this challenge at once. It is Capture the Flag. This is the last hurdle to becoming a Lunar Guard. You win, you become a guard. Simple as that.” The guard then glared at each of us, “Two teams. Team Dusk and Team Dawn. Dawn go to the pink banner, Dusk to the blue one.”
He then began dividing us up. “Dusk, Dawn, Dawn, Dusk, Dusk...” The guard looked at me, “Ah yes, Dawn”
I made my way over to the Dawn team. It was composed of four other ponies; Typhoon, a tall, but quick, stallion; he had a cutie mark of a hurricane, Lancia, a small mare, surprisingly strong with the cutie mark of a leathery wing, Wind Runner, a tricky stallion with incredible speed and unique white fur and red eyes with the cutie mark of wind; and Claw Mark, the large stallion whom was first in line when the guard was assessing us and had the cutie mark of three red, vertical lines.
“Make your plans and you will begin when I give the word.” The guard shouted through an intercom. I noticed then that some of the trees were rigged with speakers.
“I’ve got an idea.” I began, snagging the other pony’s attentions. “Lancia, you’ll go as a distraction, your strength will throw most ponies off guard. Claw Mark, you will stay here and guard the base, your size and strength make you perfectly suited for defense. Typhoon, you patrol to make sure that our base is safe. If you see someone, let us know. Wind Runner, you will go for the flag from the right side while I’ll take the left. Lancia, you’ll go first. Then, Typhoon, begin your patrol. When you draw ponies in, Lancia, let out a shout. At that time, me and Wind will go for the flag. I have faith in this plan.”
“I’m down for it.” Wind said when I finally finished.
“But I wanna do more than just stand here.” Claw Mark growled. “Why can’t I fight?”
“Trust me Claw, you will fight. As long as our enemies aren’t all incompetent idiots, they will most likely make it close to here even with Typhoon patrolling.”
Claw Mark let out an inaudible mutter, but he sat down, clearly not going anywhere.
Lancia and Typhoon shot out of sight, and me and Wind Runner exchanged glances. We were both ready.
“That was Lancia,” Wind Runner said and he darted off to the right.
“Do us good, Claw Mark,” I called over my shoulder before going off on my path.
The terrain was rough, littered with tree stumps and I almost tripped a couple of times, yet I kept running. I wondered where Wind was at the moment. Equal level? Farther ahead? No doubt Wind Runner was faster than me.
“Where do you think you’re going?” I heard a growl behind me? I spun around to see Brawny. Oh sweet Luna, he’s still angry.
“Look, I’d love to kick your ass, but I’m busy at the moment.” I spat.
“Ahaha, you’re not going anywhere.” A new voice joined in from behind me.
I swiveled around to see the sly one who was next to me in the line. Her name was Vixen, a perfect fit for her sinister nature. She was ruthless and cold in battle. A powerful foe. Her and Brawny would tear me apart!
Brawny made the first move. A heavy hit aimed toward my head. His movements were slow and clunky and with the training I had received, I easily dodged it. He then leapt at me, attempting to pin me down, but I jumped forward and did a pivot-kick on his behind as he skidded on the forest floor. I jumped onto his back, but another force overtook me from behind. Vixen! The mare grabbed my neck and threw me off of Brawny. I twisted my body and got a glimpse of her. She looked like a complete psychopath! Her hoof connected with my jaw and I was flung upward like a ragdoll. As I hit the ground, I wondered if breaking bones was a mere fairy tale. I didn’t have much time to think about though as Brawny and Vixen were both closing in on me.
A blur of gray flashed across my vision and Vixen was gone. I swept out Brawny’s feet from under him and observed what just happened. It was Typhoon; the long-legged stallion had come to my aid.
“Sorry I took so long, Nocturna. You run along ahead. Your friend is waiting.” Typhoon said, winking. What a way to conceal info!
“But, Typhoon, they’re out of your league!” I protested.
“I just need to buy you time. Now go!” Typhoon gave me a shove just before he deflected one of Vixen’s blows.
I galloped ahead to get a running start before taking off, flying just above the forest ground. The area was closing in now and I knew I was getting close. There! I saw a bit of midnight blue in front of me. I quickened my pace but something hit me from below, screwing up my entire flying pattern and I crashed to the ground.
The trainee who hit me was Gray Heart, a small mare who only made it this far due to luck. She wouldn’t be alone. Surely this team wasn’t that stupid!
Gray Heart emitted a loud whine even though I hadn’t yet touched her.
“Really, Gray? Trouble already?” I heard another voice. Medio, a stallion with a dark coat, appeared. He was shaking with obvious annoyance but that all changed the moment he lay eyes on me. “Oh, look what we have here.”
I saw something move above me and moments after, a shape leapt out of the nearest tree and bowled over Medio.
“Wind! Okay, what’s with all of these stallions dropping in from out of nowhere?” I asked while staring down Gray Heart, who cowered in fear.
Wind Runner positioned himself so that he was back-to-back with me, “Maybe you’re just too cute to resist.”
“You can’t seriously be flirting with me at a time like this!” I exclaimed.
“Maybe not, but perhaps I wasn’t flirting in the first place,” Wind throws a punch at Medio which connects and sends him flying.
Suddenly, Gray Heart spazzed out and leapt at me, making an awful gurgling noise. I was frozen in place but I was jerked to the side and Wind Runner blocked Gray Heart’s wild attack.
“What the hell is wrong with her!?” I sputtered out. The young mare suddenly looked crazy, her eyes wide and glowing red and drool dripped out of her mouth.
“I’m not sure.” Wind Runner admitted, “I’ve never seen anything like it!”
Gray Heart leapt again, much faster than before, and landed hard on Wind Runner’s shoulders. He buckled and she repeatedly slammed her hooves in again and again.
I tried to knock Gray Heart off, but as I pounced, something grabbed me by the tail. Medio was behind me, ready to bring pain.
“HARRUUMPH!” Wind Runner yelled out and I caught a glimpse of his throwing Gray Heart off. Instead of turning to attack, he swiveled towards the flag. He snagged it and ran.
“Run with the wind at your back, Wind Runner!” I cried out. I just had to hold my own against these two until Wind Runner made it across the boundary line.
Medio was circling me and Gray Heart bounced on her hooves with an insane expression. The psychopathic mare hurled herself at my chest, fangs bared. Then, when she was only inches away from me, everything froze.
“The challenge is now over. Team Dawn is the winner. Everyone meet me in the center circle.”
As I looked at my assaulter, the glow in her eyes faded. The freezing spell dissipated and she crashed into me. Knocked to the ground, I looked up. Gray Heart immediately leapt off of me and looked at the ground sheepishly.
“This isn’t over! I- I will- I must become a guard! Where will my life be now?” Medio collapsed to the ground and began sobbing. It was actually a pretty hilarious sight.
Different words rang through my head. Team Dawn is the winner. I won. You would make a great tactician. Is that what I was? A tactician? My cutie mark shows a moon and a crown, resembling my lost status, but perhaps being a tactician is what I am meant to do in the Lunar Guards. Alongside my new partners, Typhoon, Lancia, Claw Mark, and Wind Runner.
I get up, my head hurting, but what really shocks me is the searing pain in my back. Well, seeing as I haven’t left the bathroom yet, I might as well check. I lift up my shirt to see two lumpy things on my back. What the absolute shit?