• Published 6th Jun 2013
  • 29,275 Views, 1,972 Comments

The Witching Hour - Chaotic Ink



A new pony comes to Ponyville, but she's not all that she seems. Will the town accept Midnight Storm, or will Ponyville run her out like all the rest?

  • ...
53
 1,972
 29,275

Ch.8 - A Royal Intrusion

*Thwack!*
*Thwack!*
*Thwack!*

With three last swings of her tail Midnight finished off her second tree of the day and began to bundle the last of the logs she’d just chopped. Summer was nearing its end, calendar-wise anyway, and ponies would soon be coming to her home to buy wood to help keep warm this winter. She also had a special pile set aside just for herself. She’d taken two logs from each tree she’d cut down for herself, and now she had a nice size pile near the side door. If it came down to it she’d sell wood from her own pile as well, but the huge amount of bundles near the shed under many blue tarps looked like it might support her through the winter and into early spring at least.

She frowned as she thought of having all that product just sitting outside like that. The tarps helped keep most of the rain off the wood, but rain water could still get in under the tarps if the wind blew right, and she was sure some of the bottom bundles were already ruined. Another worry was that if a pony needed some wood, what was to stop them sneaking around back and swiping what they needed and maybe some extra to sell themselves? Then she’d have to be out every day in the cold and sell as much wood as she could freshly cut. That idea did not appeal to her, especially after slaving all summer.

She looked up at the cliff and decided she could dig into the side some more to make a store house. That would take several days of dedicated digging to get done; days which she needed to cut up more wood. She let out a long, tired sigh as a result of realizing there was now a lot more work to do thanks to her poor planning.

She took a bite of the cinnamon muffin she had with her as a snack and was about to head back into the forest for another tree when she heard a soft cheeping noise above her. Looking up she saw what looked like a colorful tennis ball with four insect wings and small legs descend from the sky and hover right in front of her. “Hello there little guy. Where did you come from?” The bug chirped happily, then noticed Midnight’s muffin back on her work bench. “Oh, you hungry?” She turned back and was about to pull a small piece off for it when the bug flew up and ate the whole thing in one bite. Midnight felt her jaw drop. Something smaller than her eye had just swallowed almost a whole muffin.

Then it started making choking sounds. “Ha! Maybe that will teach you not to try and eat something like that!” Instead of falling to the ground, the winged insect coughed up a blue ball roughly the same size as itself, then began buzzing happily again, as if nothing had happened. On top of that, before the blue ball could start falling towards the ground it became another bug. Midnight snorted. “Nice trick.” She was glad that she didn’t have any more food outside, and that she’d left the windows closed. Figuring that would be the end of it she made to head back to her work when a series of pink-ish-purple hoops began flying around her and the strange insects stiffened up. The pulsing went on for a few moments, then stopped. The bugs stayed still, a look of confusion on their faces, then they began to move towards an unwrapped bundle near the work bench. Figuring that the hoops had done something to them, she watched to make sure they landed on the pile okay before heading back out. But, instead of landing on the wood, they stopped in mid-air a few inches away. She was about to go over and see if something was wrong when both bugs grabbed one log each and ate them.

“HEY!!” Midnight leaped over and scattered the two insects away from the pile, placing herself between the bugs and the wood. A couple of spit-ups later and she now had four of them to deal with. They buzzed all around her, looking for an opening to the wood. Midnight made sure to head off each attempt, occasionally sending out a small jet of flame to keep them back. She also noticed that if she kept flapping her wings that the smaller creatures would be blown back a bit.

She held up against the assault for twenty more minutes, and to her credit only lost two more logs. Unfortunately her wings were becoming tired and her throat was starting to become sore with the almost constant stream of fire emanating from it. She caught one with the flat side of her tail, sending it flying towards town, but it left an opening for one of the others. Just as it was about to swallow the log it dove in on, it, and all the rest of the bugs, froze.

They all could hear music from what sounded like a marching band coming from around the center of town. To Midnight’s amazement, the bugs began to bob and sway to the music and then began to follow it to its source, leaving her and her wood behind. Midnight followed them around front and watched them leave until she lost sight of them. “Um… okay.” Deciding to shake off the last half hour as a weird, random event, the Kirin went back to her logs and fixed up the bundles, using wood from her personal pile to replace the ones lost to the bugs.

-------------------------

The rest of the day had been uneventful. After the strange bugs had left Midnight had felled another tree and had gotten most of it done. It was dusk and only about three lengths of tree were left to cut into logs. As she was deciding on whether to finish them now or wait until morning, the bell above the back door rang. Back when she first opened the shop Midnight had set a wire from the front door to the bell above the side door to let her know there were customers in the front while she was working in the back.

With a weary smile Midnight headed in the side door and towards the front. In it were two pegasi mares, both observing the inside with casual interest. The mare closest to the counter was white with a pink mane and tail, magenta eyes, and a simple sun cutie mark. The other mare was a powder blue with a dark blue, almost black, mane and tail, brilliant orange eyes, and her cutie mark looked like a gem in the shape of a pegasus wing. She also had a set of saddle bags on, as well as a soft smile that seemed to Midnight to always have been there.

“Hello. Can I get you anything?” Midnight asked, taking her place behind the counter next to the register.

The white mare seemed to study her a bit, then smiled and trotted up.“Hi, my name is Sunny Skies and this is my friend Sapphire Breeze. We don’t need any wood, but we do have some things to discuss with you. Sapphire?”

Midnight’s smile fell and she looked over at the blue mare, who had begun digging into her bags. “And what do you need to talk about exactly?” When Midnight looked back towards the mare she was speaking with, she was no longer there.

“Just a few important things.”

Looking to her right she saw the mare had lifted up the gate to behind the counter and was opening the door to the kitchen. “HEY!” Midnight lunged towards her, but she slipped inside before she could tackle her. As she turned into the doorway, the other pegasus came up behind her. In a flash Midnight had whipped her tail and pinned the mare against the wall, the edge of her tail blade only a few inches away from her throat. “I don’t know who either of you are and I really don’t care! Right now the both of you are leaving, or else I’m giving your friend here some permanent marks!” Midnight let her tail blade slip closer to Sapphire’s throat.

Sunny watched this, her eyes fearful, yet determined at the same time. “I will tell you what’s going on, but first you have to release Sapphire; I doubt you want blood on your hooves.”

“Who says I don’t already?” Midnight snarled.

Sunny raised an eyebrow. “Do you?”

Midnight continued to stare at her, then she pulled her tail away, allowing Sapphire to drop to the floor.

Sunny rushed over to help her friend up, but Sapphire waved her away.

“I’m fine your High- Sunny. No harm done.” Sapphire still had on the soft smile she had when she walked in, although some pain did leak into it.

“Good, now you can both leave.”

The pegasi turned to see Midnight watching them intently. “I thought I was telling you what was going on?”

“I don’t want to hear it. I want you OUT.” Midnight held her fighting stance, ready to throw both of them out forcibly if necessary.

Sunny looked at Sapphire, then back to Midnight. “I guess I have no choice then.” Suddenly the room was filled with a blinding light, as if the sun itself had entered the kitchen.

Midnight and Sapphire shielded their eyes with their wings, but Midnight hadn’t been prepared for the blast of light, and her eyes stung from the brief pain it had caused. When the light finally began to fade she was able to open her eyes again, although she has to keep blinking the pain and tears away. When they had both gone away, Midnight continued to blink, this time out of shock. As her mind finally caught up with her, she hit the floor in a hurried bow. One didn’t need to see the golden crown, breast plate, and slippers to recognize the alabaster alicorn now standing in front of her in place of where Sunny Skies had been.

“P-P-Princess Celestia! Please forgive me! I-I didn’t know!” There were two reasons why Midnight knew this was the real Princess Celestia and not a fake or an illusion. The first and obvious reason was that pegasi couldn’t use magic. That is, they couldn’t use magic that allowed them to conjure illusions or transform themselves. The second reason was the powerful magic Midnight could feel radiating off her now that her disguise was lifted. She had felt it once before when she was still just a filly back in Manehattan. The princess’s procession had gone by her house, and even from five stories above the street Midnight had felt the magical power emanating from the alicorn that she simply didn’t feel in unicorns, who were as much dead zones to her as she was to them.

Now she was feeling that power again, only this time it was right next to her. She began to shiver as she heard the tapping of the slippers on the laminate floor come near her. She’d attacked the pony that was very likely the princess’s aid and had threatened them both. Midnight knew she must be furious with her and could smite her at any moment. The tapping stopped in front of her.

“Rise, my little pony; you’ve done nothing wrong. I was the one who entered your home without asking, though I hadn’t guessed you’d be so hostile to it.” Midnight slowly looked up at the white alicorn, surprised that the princess was apologizing to her. She was equally surprised to see her actually smiling down at her. She got up slowly, and even then still shrank away from the pony standing before her.

“W-What can I do for you, your majesty?” she asked nervously.

“As I said before, I’d just like to talk. Before we begin, however, how about something to drink? You wouldn’t happen to have any tea, would you?”

Midnight hesitated, then shook her head. “N-No, your highness, but I can run out and get-!” She was silenced by a raised, gold-clad hoof.

“No need; whatever you have will be fine I’m sure.”

“Well, a-all I have is some iced tea, apple juice, and coffee at the moment. Are you sure I can’t run out to get you some tea?” Midnight held hope that the princess would give her an excuse to leave, but she simply shook her head.

“I’ll have an iced tea, if that’s alright.”

“O-Of course!” Midnight practically leapt around her toward the fridge.

“I’d like some apple juice, please.” Sapphire had finally spoken up.

“Right.” She quickly poured the two drinks, then set them down on the table and offered them to sit down. Celestia seated herself on the cushion at the head of the table opposite Midnight and Sapphire took the seat closest to the front door. As they sat Midnight set the percolator on the stove and turned the heat on. “I’ll make some coffee as well, just in case you’re interested, your highness.” The stutter in her voice was gone, but Midnight was still scared. Why was the princess in her home? What did she want with her? Did somepony accuse her of being dangerous or the like?

“I suppose we should start with why I’m here.” Princess Celestia started as Midnight sat down. “As you know, Twilight Sparkle is my current student, and she writes reports to me about her findings on the magic of friendship. About one-and-a-half months ago she sent me a letter saying that a kirin had just recently moved into town. You can imagine my surprise when I read that, not having seen hide or hair of one in almost 1,500 years.” Midnight’s ears perked up at this.

“Are… are kirins really so rare?” A small frown appeared on the princess’s face.

“Before that time there was almost thirty kirin living within Equestrian society, but I feel that the story of what happened to them should wait for another time.” Midnight nodded then sat back, realizing that she’d leaned forward in anticipation. “What I DO want to talk about is, quite frankly, YOU.”

Midnight gulped and shrank further down in her seat. “W-Why would you want to talk about me, your highness?”

Celestia smiled. “My sister Luna and I were very good friends with the kirins of the time; some we almost considered family. After their disappearance Luna and I promised ourselves that we would one day befriend the next generation of kirins, when, if ever, more were found, and do our best to not let history repeat itself.”

Midnight seemed to calm down slightly at this. “So… what do you want me to tell you?”

Celestia took a long sip of her drink. “How about you start with whatever you’re comfortable with, and then I’ll ask questions I think are important?”

Slowly, Midnight nodded in agreement with the idea. “Well, I guess the best place to start, the only place to start really, is in Manehattan. It’s where I was born and grew up, and it’s the place I stayed for the first couple of months of this journey of mine.” She got up and poured herself some coffee.

“Can you tell us what made you start such a thing?” Celestia asked her as she sat back down.

Midnight didn’t look up from her mug.

“There… was a fight. I didn’t want to stay anymore, although I’m regretting it now.” She took a swig of her drink. “From there I went to Filly Delphia for a time, then I went to Baltimare, Vanhoover, and other cities. I figured that since small towns like this one were so tight nit, cities were places I could just disappear into. I was always a freelancer of odd jobs, learning a bit here and there from books, on the job, or even working alongside professionals who just needed an extra hoof for a day.” She took another swig. “Eventually I even ended up leaving Trottingham, and since I was out of cities at that point, I decided on Ponyville. For the record I long ago decided against Canterlot because I saw it as an even worse place than Manehattan, in terms of high society anyway.”

Celestia nodded and Midnight finished her drink. “Twilight wrote to me that you told her you were run out of all the places you lived at before coming to Ponyville. Is that really true? I’m surprised word about you never seemed to spread, as is usually the case with such things.”

Midnight’s ears drooped, about the only part of her that hadn’t so far. “Well… ‘run out’ might be a bit too literal a term in my case. Whenever somepony found out what I really was I always got one of two reactions: screaming and running away in fear, or trying to ‘defend’ themselves and attack me. Either way, I always packed up and left as soon as I could afterwards, which usually was that very night. I knew that if I stayed ponies would be both scared and hostile towards me and they’d want nothing to do with me. I’d never get a job in there again, so what was the point of staying?” The kirin continued to stare into her coffee mug after she finished talking. “My father hid at home with me while I was still a foal. Both he and my mother agreed that ponies would be fearful, even hostile, towards us and now I can attest they were right.” Midnight got up and filled her mug again. “I assume that word of me never spread because only one pony at a time would ever see me fully exposed, and then who would believe them? They’d think the pony was just drunk or crazy.”

Silenced reigned in the kitchen for some time.

“Midnight… I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that.”

Midnight looked up. Sapphire’s face had shock and sadness in it, but it was the princess’s face that shocked her. Princess Celestia looked liked somepony had just kicked her in the gut. “I would have thought fifteen hundred years would have changed the ponies of Equestria for the better. It’s obvious I was wrong.” Celestia said the second part in a whisper, but Midnight was still able to pick it up.

Before she could ask her what she meant, Celestia said, “You said you spent at least several months in each place. How were you able to convince ponies that you were… um…”

“Normal?”

“For the lack of a better term, yes, how were you able to convince them that you were ‘normal’?”

“*sigh *My father was a very large earth pony, I had a magical accident when I was a filly that left a hair-line crack in my horn which made it impossible for me to use magic, the same accident changed my eyes and scared my sides, which is why I wore a cloak, and I had some memory loss which is why I can’t remember which spell I was attempting,” Midnight rattled off, her tone betraying how many times she’d told ponies this particular lie. They all sat in silence for a time, it only breaking after Midnight refilled their drinks.

“It wasn’t all bad though, if I have to be honest.” The other two looked up. “I learned how to do a lot of things on my own, for one. I got to see and live in almost all the cities of Equestria, and I even got to see my favorite band, The Beach Colts, in concert while I was living in Baltimare.”

“Really!?” Midnight and Celestia looked over at Sapphire, who now looked embarrassed. “I’m a really big fan of theirs. Can I ask you which song is your favorite?” Midnight’s look of surprise gave way to one of concentration.

“Hmm… Do It Again, I guess. Baltimare Girls is a close second.” Sapphire nodded.

“I really love Kokomo. I’ve lived in Cloudsdale all my life and I’ve always wanted to visit a tropical island. Are there any other artists you like?”

“I like Bob Marely and Stallions At Work.”

“Not Sapphire Shores?” she asked.

“Not really. Maybe a song or two, but that’s about it.” Midnight raised an eyebrow. “Do you like her?”

“About as much as you do. Ponies figure I’d like her more because we share a name.”

“Speaking of music, I hear an artist is planning to make a song for Trotting King’s novel Rainbow Factory. I’m really looking forward to that.” Midnight told them.

“I’ve read one of his novels before.” Celestia said. “Not my cup of tea, I assure you, but I take it you like his work?”

“I do indeed your highness. He knows just how to make you enjoy wetting yourself with fear, even if he does a lot of exposition in between. Could do with a little less gore and foal killing.”

The other two nodded.

“Is there anything else you would like to tell us?” Celestia asked.

Midnight shrugged. “I guess if you still have questions you can ask them your highness, but I don’t know what else you’d like me to tell you.”

Celestia smiled. “Well, to begin with do you know what type of dragon your parent was?”

“A wyvern. His name is Windstorm.”

Celestia looked interested at the name. “From what I know about wyverns, a surname is passed down through the bloodlines. I take it yours is ‘storm’?”

Midnight shrugged, but a pained look crossed her face. “My father left on a dragon migration when I was two, and he hasn’t come home since. Since I was so young he never really talked about lineage or the like, but I do know he and my mother had argued about what to name me. Apparently they finally settled with my mother’s choice of ‘Midnight’ if I had to have ‘Storm’ in my name.”

“I knew of a wyvern named Firestorm right up to the point the kirins disappeared. But, if your father never told you of your ancestors, I don’t know if you’re related to him directly or not. If I may ask, who is your mother?”

At this Midnight flinched. “I don’t really want to talk about her your highness, so unless you have a very good reason to need to know, I respectfully ask that you not ask about her again. You could call it a private matter between the two of us.”

Celestia nodded in understanding, but she made a mental note to start poking around Manehattan. “I can take it she was a unicorn? I’ve never met a kirin with a horn who didn’t have a unicorn parent.” After a few seconds Midnight gave a nod. “Thank you. I guess then my next question is what are you doing about food?”

Midnight cocked her head at this. “I buy groceries at the market and stores just like every other pony your highness.”

But Celestia simply shook her head. “I’ve already said I’ve known kirins Midnight and I know what their diets are.”

At this Midnight began to look worried. “I-I have no idea what you’re talking about princess! What other foods could you POSSIBLY be talking about!?”

If her smile had gotten any faker Celestia would have sworn she’d stolen it off a toy. Why was the mare being so dodgy about this? Then the alicorn noticed Midnight’s eyes flash towards her pegasus companion before coming back to her, and it made sense. “Before we came here today to visit you I instructed Sapphire on kirins, including eating habits. I can assure you she’s assured me talking about eating meat is not a problem.”

“It’s true!” Sapphire spoke up. “Besides, most of the nobles eat meat at parties as well.”

At this little bit of news Midnight looked back and forth between them.

“It’s a habit they started about a century ago.” Celestia clarified. “I’m not aware just how it got started, but before long it became fashionable to eat meat hors d'oeuvres at social parties, such as pate’, shrimp toast, and caviar.” Midnight calmed down at this, though the shock of hearing what the upper crust ate was still plain on her face. “Speaking of fish, did you happen to have any while in Baltimare? I know there’s only one restaurant that serves it there, but they’re the best.”

Midnight tapped her chin in concentration. “Was it Long Line’s Seafood Emporium?”

“Yep, that’s the one.”

“I ate there whenever I could afford it. Had a seat right at the counter and talked with Long Line almost all day. To be honest I think he was the only other pony I ever felt comfortable around before getting here.”

Celestia nodded. “I’ve had the honor of meeting him once or twice while visiting the city. He’s as nice a pony as they come. But, back to what you do around here?”

Midnight’s face fell slightly. “Well, around HERE I’ve hunted exclusively in the Everfree Forest, but back in the cities it was whatever I could get my fangs into; mostly pigeons and rats.” Then she whispered “a stray or two if times were tight.”

“I see, and what about gem stones?”

Midnight’s face became forlorn. “I haven’t had a gem stone in nearly three years. I couldn’t afford a gem stone; it’d be like trying to eat at a five-star restaurant.” Midnight licked her lips with her dragon-like tongue. “I could really go for a sapphire right now.” Hearing a giggle, Midnight looked up to see Sapphire blushing slightly, in turn making her own cheeks warm.

“Well, it seems you have the food situation under control, although we need to see about getting you some gems, otherwise things may start getting awkward.” Both ponies continued to blush. After giving them a minute the princess cleared her throat for attention. “Midnight, the next few questions I have are a more serious matter.” Midnight immediately sat up straight; any sign of embarrassment or hunger gone in an instant. “The first one of these is how did you feel about the mission I sent you and the bearers on to get the dragon up on Smokey Mountain to find another place to sleep?” For the first time since the princess reveled herself, Midnight’s eyes flashed with anger.

“It was probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard suggested. I would really like to know WHY you sent out seven mares with no combat experience up a mountain to face a full grown dragon who would most likely not be in a good mood after being woken up by what he considers snacks when a contingent of guards or even yourself would have been a more sensible option. Tartarus, the only reason I went is because Twilight decided to pull rank on me as your personal student and threaten to write to you to convince me personally. She apologized afterwards, but you can still understand I was pretty upset about the whole thing.” Celestia calmly listened to Midnight rant until she was done.

“Twilight has already told me about your unwillingness to help and what she said to get you to come along. I have already talked with her about it and it will not happen again. As to why I sent the seven of you up the mountain and not myself or the guard is because I only wanted you all to talk with him, not start a fight. Since all of you are still here and the dragon has left to find a new place to nap, I assume it was a success.”

Midnight huffed. “Yeah, but only because Fluttershy was somehow able to scold him into leaving right before he was going to roast us! I still can’t wrap my brain around that.”

Celestia raised her hoof for attention. “Midnight, I could have sent them up on their own. Do you know why I asked that you accompany them?”

“Not really” Midnight snorted.

“Well, before I answer that, I’d like to ask you another question.”

Midnight nodded, her attitude dissipating as she remembered with whom she was speaking with.

“What exactly do you know about the Elements of Harmony?”

Midnight thought for a minute. “Not much, to be honest. You defeated your sister-turned-Nightmare-Moon with them around a thousand years ago, but that’s about it.” Looking back up, she was met with a look of surprise on the princess’s face. “What? It’s obvious who the two alicorns in the story are. One that raises the sun and one that raises the moon? One sister with a sun cutie mark and the other with a moon? The exact same coat colors? The fact that Princess Luna has only now reappeared right after Nightmare Moon tried to take over? The fact that you’re the Princess of the Sun, not and the Moon? Anypony could have figured it out.” The other two continued to just stare at her. “Let me guess: Twilight didn’t even figure it out until you told her?” Celestia nodded and Midnight face-hoofed. “By the almighty Faust… anyway no, I don’t know much about the Elements of Harmony.”

Celestia managed to compose herself again before speaking. “Well for this discussion, let’s focus on how they work. For their power to function properly, all twelve parts must be present; all six elements and all six bearers. Not only do they all have to be present, but they must all be in sync with each other. If even one pony is not committed, the whole thing fails to work. So, the logical thing to do is to protect these critical parts that make up Equestria’s most powerful defensive force. I have the elements safely stored back at Canterlot Castle, but I cannot simply lock up Twilight and her friends. It would be both immoral and impractical, and such a thing would destroy their budding friendship rather than helping it grow. Of course then the best thing to do would be to assign them guards, but I feel that would also only cause a negative impact on them. So, as you can see I was in a bit of a quandary about how best to protect them without also interfering with their lives.”

Midnight raised an eyebrow. “’Was’ your highness?”

Celestia nodded. “When Twilight wrote to me Midnight, she told me that you were getting along fine with her new friends. After my amazement of finding a kirin after so many centuries finally ebbed some, I realized what else you being in Ponyville could mean. Midnight, I have a proposition for you: would you consider being the first Guardian of the Bearers?”

Midnight stared at her. “Say what now?”

“Midnight, you fit all the requirements needed to guard the bearers and yet not intrude on their lives. I could put undercover guards here, but, call it an intuition, I feel that would also blow up in my face. You are already friends with them, and as a kirin you are more durable than any guard I could possible assign here.”

Confusion ran across Midnight’s face. “More durable? What do you… mean… by…” Slowly, something clicked in her mind. “Are you telling me,” she began, her voice suddenly becoming angry and threatening again, “that you asked me to go along on that stupid mission up the mountain to act as a MEAT SHIELD for those six in case something went wrong!?" Her sudden outburst caused Sapphire to put some distance between them as Midnight slammed her hooves on the table and pulled herself up, wings flared out as far as they would go and fangs fully bared.

To her credit Celestia held Midnight’s gaze, not flinching a bit. “The thought never crossed my mind, and I never condoned the act of using another living creature as a shield. I’ll admit that I asked you to accompany them up the mountain as a bit of insurance, but only because I felt that, since you were part dragon, he might have listened to you more than Twilight or any of the others. Furthermore, by the look of your cutie mark, I’d say that if it came down to a fight you could have held your own easily.”

At the mention of the mark on her flank Midnight instinctively covered it up. “I don’t know what you think you know about my mark, but DON’T bring it up again.”

Both mares stared each other down for a full minute before Celestia nodded her head. “If it bothers you that much then I will not mention it again.” Once she was sure Celestia was telling the truth she sat back down and pulled her wings in. Sapphire also returned to the table once Midnight was calm enough that her fangs retracted. Celestia gave her another minute before speaking again. “It was not my intention to use you without your cooperation in anyway, and I am sorry that it seemed like I did. I’m only trying to do what I think is best for Equestria, the bearers, and yourself when I make this proposal, which is why I ask again if you’d be a guard.”

“Let’s say I’d accept; what would my new duties consist of, besides making sure they don’t break their necks falling or the like?”

“Simply act the same way you do with them now. If any threats arise assist in helping them fight them off and protect them from anypony or anything that tries to do them harm.”

Midnight raised an eyebrow. “That’s it?”

Celestia nodded.

Midnight got up and picked up the percolator as if to pour herself some more coffee, but instead chugged what was left after staring at it for a few seconds. Since she could breath fire, a bit of scalding liquid didn’t hurt, although she grimaced at drinking coffee black like that. When she was done she placed the coffee maker in the sink and turned back towards her two guests.

“Up to this point in my life all I’ve done is what I can to get by. Even after I got… this,” she indicated her cutie mark, “I haven’t had a clear goal or purpose in my life. Even what I’m doing now doesn’t really seem right, though I am happier in the woods cutting trees than being in some pony’s house fixing a pipe or floor board. I’m not sure I’ll really like this job either, but… I’m willing to give it a try, if only because it’s something I haven’t tried before.” A smile formed on Celestia’s face. “However, I have one condition: I want the option to back out if I don’t like it. I refuse to sign my life away for something I’m not 100% with going in.”

Celestia nodded. “I think that’s fair, but I also have a condition as well.” At this Sapphire straightened up. “I want Sapphire Breeze to move in with you.”

“I can assume there’s a reason?”

“Yes. As a guard, and a secret one at that, you’d need a way to contact me if something happens, and it’ll be hard to keep the secret if you’re sending letters via Spike. I’ve given Sapphire some dragon fire to use for sending letters to me should the need arise. Think of her as the liaison between the guard and myself, since you may be too busy with a situation to send a letter yourself.”

Midnight nodded. “Alright then.” She heaved a sigh. “I accept the position as Captain of the Bearer Guard.”

Celestia smiled. “Thank you very much Midnight Storm, you have no idea how relieved I am to hear you say that. All I need to do now is finalize some things back at the castle. I’ll send Sapphire’s things here tomorrow, by which time I’m sure you two will come to a consensus on a cover story for her being here. I wish you both a pleasant evening.” With that the Princess of the Sun teleported out of the house.

“Well,” Midnight said as she cleared the cups off the table, “I sure wasn’t expecting that to happen today.”

“Those moments happen sometimes.”

Midnight turned to look at her new house-mate. “I guess so Miss Breeze.”

Sapphire waved a hoof. “You can call me Sapphire.”

“Alright then Sapphire do you have an idea for a cover story at all?”

“Well, I was thinking maybe a cousin?”

Midnight shook her head. “How about something that isn’t related to me? Long lost relation is a bit to cliché.”

“Umm… old foal-hood friend?”

“How about we get you settled in first.” Midnight motioned for her to follow her up the stairs when there was a pop and three objects dropped onto the table. Both mares moved over to them and noticed that each one had a letter attached to it. The letter labeled with a ‘1’ was attached to a sack, and Midnight read the note.

Midnight Storm,

As the new captain of the Bearer Guard, this is your pay, backlogged from the Smoky Mountain mission to today. You also receive a bonus for each time you accompany the bearers on a mission or protect them from a credible threat.

-Princess Celestia

P.S. – Yes, you are now officially a captain in the Equestrian Military, although your duties will be limited to protection of the bearers and their families. You are allowed to recruit if the need arises, but I will reserve final say on any potential new guards. If you wish I can send a royal fitter to make formal wear for you for functions that require it.

Midnight looked up at Sapphire. “Um… okay.”

Sapphire smiled and saluted. “Welcome to the force captain!”

“Hardy-har-har.” Midnight picked up the sack, opened it, and nearly fell backwards. The amount of bits inside could have choked a manticore.

Sapphire whistled at the loot. “Any idea what you’re going to do with it?”

Midnight finally found her voice. “Plenty! For starters I’m building a storage house for my wood, and I’m hiring somepony to do it, too!” She closed the sack back up and tried to pick it up. She could beat a manticore to death with it as well. Putting the sack back down she moved over to the second note, which was tied to a chest.

Captain Midnight Storm,

As I said when we talked earlier you should try and get more gem stones in your diet. While I believe your weekly pay should be enough for some, I’ve decided to give you a weekly allowance like Spike has, only bigger since you are an adult.

-Princess Celestia

P.S. – I threw in a few extra sapphires.

Without a word Midnight flipped open the lid and what met her eyes immediately made her start to salivate. The chest was full of gems of all kinds, from rubies to emeralds to diamonds to even her coveted sapphires. Midnight grabbed the largest sapphire she could see and stuffed it in her mouth. The explosion of flavor that she’d missed for over three years engulfed every single one of her taste buds as her tongue wrapped around it like a constrictor. For a full five minutes she simply sat there enjoying the taste of it while Sapphire watched her in amusement.

“Enjoying it?” Her answer was Midnight’s tongue sliding out to lick up some drool at the corner of her mouth before she finally began to chew the gem up.

Midnight made sure to savor every single bite. When she was finally done she licked her lips and closed the chest. “So… good…” With great effort Midnight pulled herself away from the chest and moved over to the third and final object and note.

Captain Midnight Storm,

I’ve sent this platter along with your pay and gem allowance as a sort of ‘welcome to the guard’ gift. On it you’ll find several different kinds of seafood from Long Line’s Seafood Emporium that arrived just yesterday. If you wish I can make a separate order for you when ever we make one; all you have to do is send me the necessary amount of bits. You can also go ahead and keep the platter if you wish.

-Princess Celestia

Midnight lifted the lid and there was indeed a nice spread on it. Shrimp scampi, lobster tail with butter, and fried scallops were just a few of the samples presented. Midnight picked up a lobster tail, dunked it in butter, then took a large bite out of it. When she was done she turned to Sapphire and offered her a shrimp, which she actually took and nibbled on.

“You know Sapphire; I think I might actually enjoy this.”

Author's Note:

Finally!
Jesus H. Christ I am NEVER speculating when or how many chapters are coming out again! Between trying to find a full time job, interviews, distractions of an entertainment variety, and life in general, just… fricken oi!
I will do my BEST to get the next chapter up before Thanksgiving, but I make no promises.

Yeah, Midnight doesn’t give a hoot that Celestia is coming to town, which is why she essentially knows nothing about the parasprite infestation until the last second. I was originally going to have Midnight and Twi argue about it, but we already had one of those in Ch.6.

Speaking of Tia: sorry but I don’t follow the whole tyrant Tia thing. I believe she and Luna love playing pranks (this isn’t one), but that’s about it.

I know there really isn’t any action in this one and it’s mostly exposition, but I hope you guys liked it anyway, although I have a feeling of flak for the ‘Captain of a Guard’ thing. (How else am I going to justify Midnight heading to Canterlot to meet Discord, fight the changelings, or go to the crystal empire?)

I’ll be posting a blog soon about how I’m rearranging the season (only a little!) and which episodes will either have Midnight in them or be simply mentioned.