Loyal Pawn was on guard duty, making sure that the prisoner remained in his cell at all cost. For a private, this was a huge mission, especially with how demanding Captain Shining Armor acted when he assigned him the responsibility of guarding Statice. He had never seen his Captain so worked up in the past, so he knew that this was a big time mission. If he played his cards right, then there was a chance of getting a promotion to corporal. It was a small promotion but his dad always said that baby steps are better than no steps when it came to climbing the ladder of success.
“Corporal Loyal Pawn,” he mumbled to himself dreamingly, liking the sound of his name and future rank. He had dropped the Royal Guard’s default stoic expression as he fantasized about his promotion. He shook his head a couple of times to get rid of his daydream. He adopted his stern expression and prepared to resume his guard duty with no complaining.
“This is so boring,” he complained anyway. It was the truth though. There was no fun in just guarding the prisoner. The real fun came from capturing prisoners. He was not sure what to think of the prisoner, but he heard that he gave the bearers of the Elements of Harmony some trouble before his capture.
“I wonder what’s so special about him,” he mused to himself in a whisper, not wanting the prisoner to hear him. It would be very unprofessional if the prisoner heard a guard that was supposed to be watching him wondering in curiosity about him. To be honest, he wanted to talk with Statice, hoping that it may ease his boredom, but his duty as a Royal Guard forbid him from interacting with prisoners.
“I guess a little peek won’t kill me,” Loyal Pawn sighed as he turned his head to the side. He had only seen glimpses of Statice in the past but he never had a detailed view of the stallion.
He gasped. “It can be,” he muttered, almost blanching if it weren’t for his already white coat. There was supposed to be a green unicorn stallion inside that cell and it was empty.
“He can’t be gone!” Loyal Pawn cried out in fear as he levitated his keys with a red aura of his horn. “I can’t let him escape. How am I supposed to tell Captain Shining Armor about this?”
The keys nervously entered into the keyhole before he turned the knob. He frantically ran around the cell, trying to see what escape route Statice used to get out of his cell.
There must be some tunnel in the ground or in the walls. That must be it! No! That’s stupid. This is a cell that has been reinforced by alicorn magic. There is no way that he could have escaped!
“I can’t find him!” Loyal Pawn cried out, tears threatening to come out of his eyes. “I failed my mission! How am I supposed to face my fellow guards and my captain without the prisoner? He is nowhere to be seen!”
“As a matter of fact, I am everywhere and nowhere,” a voice said behind Loyal Pawn. He turned around, gasping in shock. His only answer was a green hoof shooting straight at his face.
“That was easy,” Statice exhaled in relief over the unconscious royal guard he sucker punched. “Everypony always falls for the Light Camouflage Spell.”
The Light Camouflage Spell was a spell designed to alter the photons in the air surrounding Statice. By distorting the light particles around him, Statice was able of making himself invisible with the spell. It was a perfect spell for stealth and deception, at least in the case of amateurs. Had Loyal Pawn paid attention, he would have smelled Statice’s sweat from the heat caused inside the cell or the heavy breathing he was making out of fear of being discovered. His spell made him invisible but not silent or odorless.
“Now I’m on my way to Step 2: Disguise.” Statice levitated the armor off of Loyal Pawn and then took a look at the unconscious guard. He had seen white fur and blue eyes, mane, and tail with a black pawn cutie mark. Once he memorized the details, Statice prepared to use another spell.
This time he used the Light Disguise Spell. Unlike its predecessor, this spell did not make Statice invisible but altered the photons into distorting Statice’s colors. His green fur was turned white and his cutie mark was replaced by the one on the guard’s flanks. His golden eyes turned blue and his multicolored mane and tail just turned blue. This spell was based on the data that Statice gathered about Changelings during his days as a bounty hunter. He finished his disguise by putting up the guard’s golden armor, getting surprised at how nice if felt on his body.
“A perfect disguise needs a perfect performance,” Statice once again lighted his horn, but this time he put it on Pawn’s head. “I’m going to do a little background check on you to get more into character.”
The spell he was using was the Psychometric Spell, which allowed him to know the detailed history of anything, from an inanimate object to a living pony. He was only focusing his spell on anything involving Loyal Pawn’s full service to the Royal Guards. The last thing he needed was another identity crisis from absorbing too many memories of his victim into his mind and mixing them with his own.
“Worst mission ever,” Statice shuddered once he got everything he needed. Using the spell reminded him of a time on which he used it on a mare and developed a case of confused gender breakdown from absorbing too many memories from her. Nothing was more confusing than a stallion that thought that he was a mare trapped in a stallion’s body.
Snapping out of his bad memories, Statice once again used his Hammerspace to open a tear to his blank sanctuary. He levitated the unconscious guard and put him through the rift. One of the benefits of Hammerspace is that things such as food and drink were just an optional commodity instead of a life preserving necessity. He was confident that Loyal Pawn was not going to die of hunger or thirst there. Of course, with Loyal Pawn gone, Statice was now free to take up his identity and continue his plan.
Using the memories he had gathered, Statice went out of his cell and climbed up the stairs into the castle. He then took a step to the right into the armory. The room was full of sets of golden armors and spears. The disguised stallion found it hard to not be awed upon seeing such weaponry, taking off one of his golden horseshoes to rub the spears with his bare hoof as he kept analyzing the room. A mischievous glint came out of Statice’s eyes as he decided to get some payback on the royal guards for arresting him.
“Enough window shopping,” Statice smiled as he was finally done checking the armory. “It’s time to take my prize.” He once again opened a tear to Hammerspace, placing all the armors and spears inside of it before closing the tear.
What the heck. It’s not as if petty theft is going to make my situation worse than it already is, thought Statice.
“Time to get out,” Statice chuckled as he left the room. He looked on both directions to make sure that nopony was watching him before going on his merry way. “It was going to be lunchtime soon so he could drop out as Loyal Pawn and then leave the castle to “return home” once the shift was over.
“The prisoner has escaped!” a royal guard exclaimed as he ran across the halls. Following him from behind, several guards were stampeding, shouting things and orders of capturing the prisoner as they went along.
“Darn it!” Statice swore under his breath. “I thought they were going to find out much later.”
Just pretend that you’re Loyal Pawn. You have his history recorded in your brain. It won’t be the end of you to wait a few hours until your escape.
Knowing that there was no other choice but playing along, Statice joined the stampeding soldiers. He prayed the stars that nopony would suspect of him in the meantime.
Shining Armor was stressed. It wasn’t the same stress he had when he did training with his fellow guards. It wasn’t the same stress that he felt helping Cadence rule the Crystal Empire. It wasn’t even the type of stress that he had doing his duties as a Captain of the Royal Guards. This stress felt more personal and frustrating, taking the form of a green unicorn stallion that had somehow managed to escape his cell. Right now, he had two royal guards with him, discussing the situation.
“Tell the other guards to gather around in the barracks,” he lectured the first guard, who saluted him before leaving. He then turned his attention to the second one. “I have a special task for you.”
“What is it, Captain?” the remaining guard stood in attention, prepared to serve his superior.
“Do not let the Princesses or the Element Bearers know anything about Statice’s escape,” he instructed him with a firm yet stern gaze. “I don’t want Twilight or Cadence to encounter that criminal.”
“Yes, sir!” the guard saluted before leaving the room. Shining Armor took a deep breath and exhaled. It was a stress relieving technique that Cadence taught him every time that he got stressed out during his training days as a guard. He rarely used it anymore, but now he needed it more than ever.
After calming down, Shining went to the barracks. His soldiers needed a leader to help them catch the criminal and he was going to do his job.
At the barracks, all of the royal guards working at the castle were standing firmly, watching their captain pace in front of them. He had the same stern look as them but there was a little bit of disappointment in them. Statice could notice that emotion from his position even though he wore the same stoic mask as the rest of the guards.
“Soldiers, I was informed that our prisoner has escaped the dungeons not too long ago,” Shining Armor spoke with a stern tone. “It is our duty to capture him and make sure that he does not get away with his crimes. He may have escaped but we have not failed our duty yet!”
The royal guards roared with approval as Shining Armor spoke passionately among them. The uproar caught Statice by surprise as he did not expect that lively reaction from the guards.
Great, now they’re all riled up to capture me. Let’s just hope the enthusiasm cripples their performance.
“We’ll assign several teams to search all over the castle. Everypony will go in groups of two to survey each room in the castle. If you find something out of place, let everypony know about it.”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
“I’ll let the lieutenants assign the teams,” Shining Armor stopped pacing and stood right in front of Statice. “Right now, I would like to have a talk with you in my office, Loyal Pawn. It was your duty to watch the prisoner after all.”
How did he know? Statice mentally asked inside his mind.
Despite his fear at being potentially discovered, he nodded his head obediently to keep appearances. “Yes, Captain,” he meekly nodded his head, trying his best to imitate Pawn’s voice.
Shining Armor raised an eyebrow at him, turning away from the private and walking forward. Some of the guards snickered as Statice followed Shining Armor, finding the idea of Loyal Pawn being punished to be hilarious. Statice quickly silenced them with a look that shut them up good. He then went on to follow Shining Armor into his office. He never noticed the white unicorn looking over his shoulder in the instant on which he glared at the other guards.
Shining Armor’s office was well ordered, not unlike that of his little sister. His office had a desk and two chairs for personal discussions. It was huge enough to hold bookcases, each filled with books of history, geography, politics, battle strategies, and magic. Like his sister, he too believed that knowledge was power as it helped him to quickly rise through the ranks of the Royal Guards. The most notable aspect of the office was a couple of pictures in the desk. One of them was of Shining Armor and Cadence at their wedding and another one was of a young Twilight Sparkle playing with him.
The office was normally Shining’s sanctuary, a place where he could calm down whenever things got stressful for him. Right now, he looked ready to rip Loyal Pawn to pieces as he walked towards his desk and sat down on his chair.
“Sit down,” he ordered in an ominously calm voice.
“Yes, sir,” Statice gulped, feeling genuinely afraid that his disguise was going to get blown off. He was not afraid of fighting Shining Armor if the situation demanded it but he knew for a fact that if he fought him there was a high chance that he may have to fight somepony else after that, increasing his risk of getting captured again. The worst part was that Shining Armor was tough given the power of the shield spells that Discord showed him during the information exchange.
It’s okay, Statice. He probably thinks that you’re Loyal Pawn and wants to chew him up for your escape. Just bear with it. He won’t find out who you are.
“Who do you think you are deceiving?” Shining Armor asked plainly.
“Beg pardon,” Statice asked nervously.
“You didn’t do a good job imitating Loyal Pawn’s voice, Statice,” Shining Armor raised an eyebrow at the stallion sitting in front of him. “For the record, Loyal Pawn is somewhat nervous and easily intimidated. He does not give threatening glares to other guards the same way you did.”
Okay, he did find out who you are.
“You figured it out immediately,” Statice sighed, feeling his fear get replaced with disappointment at the imminent fight that was about to take place.
“You don’t get to be a Captain by being the smartest or the strongest guard in the physical and magical category,” Shining Armor lectured with a firm expression on his face. “A true Captain knows his soldiers, not only by their appearance but by their spirit. That’s how I picked Loyal Pawn, you to be exact, among a group of soldiers that looked like him.”
“So that’s how you knew I was Loyal Pawn from the beginning,” Statice grinned at the white unicorn. “I guess that explains why you sent me to your office.”
“Not really,” Shining Armor looked a little dismissive. “To be honest, I really thought that you were Loyal Pawn when I asked you to come to my office. I intended to reprimand him for letting you escape but then you proved to me that you were him when you intimidated the guards that were laughing at you.”
Statice slapped a hoof to his forehead and dragged it down his face. This was the second time he had been outfoxed by the white stallion
I guess retirement is starting to get to me.
“Where is Loyal Pawn?” Shining Armor asked threateningly. Competent or not, Loyal Pawn was still a guard and Shining Armor was not allowing one of his ponies to get hurt by a criminal while he was in charge.
Statice sighed, using his magic to remove his stolen armor before cancelling the spell that was disguising him. He once again returned to his original green coat, golden eyes, multicolored mane and tail, and his flower cutie mark. “I guess there is no point in maintaining my charade anymore.”
He used his Hammerspace to make a tear by his side, levitating the golden armor into the hole before extracting the unconscious Loyal Pawn from it. He gently placed the unconscious guard beside him in a neighboring chair without breaking eye contact with Shining Armor.
“That’s going to go to your charges when we have a second trial,” Shining Armor stated in a low voice.
“What’s making you think that I’m having a second trial?” Statice asked, standing up from his chair.
“I’ll personally drag you back into your cell and tell Princess Celestia about your little escapade,” Shining Armor darkly promised as he stood up from his chair to glare at Statice.
“You really think that you can take me on, Captain?” Statice walked away from the chair, going straight to the center of the room for more fighting space.
“I’ve been facing bigger threats to Equestria before I even met you,” Shining Armor walked threateningly to the green unicorn. “I can manage a low life criminal such as you if I have to do it.”
Statice narrowed his eyes at the insult. “I don’t need to receive threats from a guy who has to get his flank saved by his little sister every time Equestria is in danger.”
Shining Armor’s eyes widened at those words before narrowing them at his adversary. “How do you know about that?”
“A little birdie told me,” Statice shrugged his shoulders. He wasn’t lying when he said that. Technically speaking, Discord was part bird based on the feathered wing behind his back and the eagle talon that he had for one of his arms.
“What did that birdie tell you?” Shining Armor started pacing in a circle with Statice doing the same.
“He told me how you’re a punk that let your own wife get captured by a bug, ignored your sister’s warnings, and then failed to protect the country you swore to serve on the day of your wedding. Then, you spent days getting your flank kicked by King Sombra while Twilight only needed one to figure out a way to defeat him and save the Crystal Empire. I sincerely feel sorry for anypony that has your protection.”
“Those words are going to be used against you when I drag your flank back to the trail,” Shining Armor swore as he pawed the ground with a hoof and lowered his glowing horn to point it at Statice.
“Well, then make sure to remember these two words into your thick skull,” Statice imitated his enemy’s action as he prepared for battle. “Bring it!”