Chapter 4: Sandwitched
The grumpy-pants pegasus didn’t respond.
I rolled my eyes. “Sergeant?”
“Yes?” came the gruff reply.
“How much further is… uhh… wherever it is that we need to go?” It was a fair question. I didn’t pack anything to eat and my stomach was starting to complain. In retrospect I really should have packed something basic. Maybe some kitty food. Salem—I mean Mort—seemed to sense my thoughts and he glared at me with yellow cat-eyes.
Gees, isn’t this guard a bundle of fun? I took the opportunity to look around and see what was different. It was my first time anywhere other than the school or home and my eyes lapped up the frankly beautiful canvas of idyllic green and blue and golden yellow of the countryside. At least, I think it was the countryside, the grass seemed to cover the area in a neat, even coat, coming no higher than my ankles. It felt like I was walking through someone’s lawn rather than just some outdoors area.
Private Hops caught my gaze and gestured with his head in a way that looked suspiciously like a horse tossing its head. My eyes scanned up ahead until I could see a structure that would not look out of place at the Witching Hour, though themes changed as readily as the participants.
“Are we headed to that castle?” I queried Private Hops.
The guard made to say something, but he was interrupted by Nighters, who evidently decided that now was a good time to lay on a bunch of information on me.
“That’s Canterlot Castle. It is the castle of the Princesses. When we arrive there, I expect you to treat them with all due respect. Bow, or incline your head. Don’t overdo it. Maintain a distance of roughly two paces behind me and speak only when spoken to. Keep your wayward appendages to yourself and act respectful and follow my lead. Do I make myself clear?”
I nodded, though I was a bit distracted. During the course of that little speech, I realised something. Something that was nagging me since the beginning of our fateful meeting.
“Do you recognise something about the Sergeant?” I hissed to Mort.
Mort blinked at me slowly, then looked at Sergeant Nighters and back to me. He nodded his cute little feline head. It seemed like he came to same conclusion as I had. Nighters was like Nighters. As in headmistress Nighters.
“Hey? Why are you just standing there?”
I was suddenly aware that I had stopped walking. I jerked myself forward.
I guess it was true what they said about finding doubles on another world. I didn’t believe it before, the chances of something like that happening were astronomical.
It got me wondering though….
What would my double be like?
Before long the green fields died away and became a crazed patchwork of tilled soil and thatched housing. I looked at the cozy foundations and quaint, curious little gazes taking in our ragtag party. Well, mostly ragtag, seeing as I was the only anomaly in the group, but I like to think that Mort added to the mystique. Assuming they didn’t have cats here, though from how Lieutenant Strider had reacted to Mort, I think he was common enough. Dang, I really should have picked a dragon or something more exotic. Probably a manticore? They wouldn’t have stuff like that.
In any case my curiosity only grew like a ravenous bear as we made our way through the foreign land. I was glad to see that we weren’t the only ones out here, because I was starting to feel antsy with the lack of prolonged contact with a good conversationalist. Mort was snippy but at least he knew how to talk. Hops and Nighters were the epitome of the silent, but socially deadly. If this kept up without some interaction I’d go cra—
Nighty? I spotted a pink blur detach itself from another couple of ponies that were working the field and speed towards a flustered looking Nighters. I liked that look. Suited her better than that stony expression. She waved her arms, trying to stop the pink menace, but the pink pony had no breaks on the hug train and she dived forward, hugging the life force out of the Sergeant.
Private Hops pulled me aside as the pink one started babbling something at some ridiculous speed.
“So I know you’re always on guard business and we never get time to meet but I saw you from waaaaay over there and I thought, ‘Oh! It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to Nighty!’ but then I thought, ‘Nighty got some—“
“—Pony with her! So you could be busy.’ Buuuut then I thought—“
“—‘Why don’t I come over and meet you both! Nighty’s made a new friend!’ So I came over anyway and I almost tripped over a rock, but that was okay—“
“—And now I’m talking to you! What’s up?!”
‘Nighty’ put a weary hoof over her face. I shot a glance at Hops, but he seemed equally perturbed.
Sergeant Nighters finally got a word in edgeways. Pinkie was smiling happily, the dark look on Nighters’ mug not enough to deter the bombastic pony.
“Pinkie, it’s great to catch up, but can we do it later? I’ve got to bring our new guest to Canterlot.”
Pinkie grinned wider. If that was possible.
“No prooooblemo! I can come with you! We can chat on the way!”
“Uhh, that’s okay—“
Pinkie, with her fluffy, poofy hair sticking up everywhere, bounded along ahead. I say bounded because it didn’t look like she was trotting more than she was springing while walking… pronking.
Hops took an uncertain step forward and I sort of followed him. Nighters just shook her head and let out a sigh, following along too.
“She a friend of hers?” I asked, mostly because I was surprised that Sergeant Nighters even had a friend.
I could almost see the mental gears turning in his head.
“No.” He shrugged. “I don’t think she has any.”