• Published 10th Dec 2013
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My Family and Other Equestrians - Blade Star

A HiE fic with a twist. Our protagonist is not alone. How does one approach being in Equestria, when their family is along for the ride?

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Chapter 30 - The Old Guard

The weekend would have proved completely uneventful, if not for the thunderstorm. For two long days, we all had to shelter in the farmhouse as the storm kept growing in power and ferocity. Lightning split the sky, casting the whole of the land in brief eerie glows, and torrential rain lashed down so hard its impact on the roof could be heard in the sitting room downstairs.

Unlike weather on Earth though, this storm was in actuality, tightly controlled by the weather pegasi, who had warned pretty much everypony well in advance of the storm and gave time for us all to get everything in. The storm itself had a purpose. According to Rainbow, who dropped by personally to warn us of the impending maelstrom, this storm was designed to give the ground one last soak before the snow came, as well as to encourage the fallen leaves to begin degrading. Crops had all been harvested, so there was no risk on that front, and Fluttershy and Lizzie had relayed the warning to all the animal population. More importantly for Apple Bloom and the other foals, this would ensure a dry Nightmare Night.

For the moment, everyone and everything was keeping its head down and staying in shelter. The storm was the largest I’ve ever seen, the clouds stretched all the way from the Everfree Forest, across Ponyville, right on out toward Canterlot and even a little ways beyond. Humans had always appreciated the beauty of nature, even at its most violent. But for the ponies, it was both beautiful and safe, as it was all controlled.

When it finally came to an end late on Sunday night, most of the plains areas were flooded, rivers were running at their fullest, and any of the weaker trees had been brought down by the high winds. Due to the warning and long standing safety procedures practiced by the Weather Patrol under Dash, no one had been hurt. The trees had all been stripped of their loose branches and those earmarked to fall had been positioned to land away from homes. The flood water could be evaporated fairly quickly, as unlike a storm on Earth, this one finished very quickly. After the rain stopped, it took about thirty minutes for the entire thing to be dissipated by Dash and her colleagues.

Monday morning was bright and clear again, though the temperature had dropped noticeably. There would be no more truly warm days; pretty soon I would need to think about purchasing some winter wear; coat or no coat it could still get very cold.

Monday also was the day that my lessons with Twilight were to start up again. We’d now have another few days before I went with Rarity to Canterlot, and then we would pretty much continue on until Hearth’s Warming. According to the curriculum Twilight had produced, today and tomorrow were marked up as ‘Defensive Magic’. These were slightly higher level spells than those I had practiced previously, with the notable exception of the teleportation spell. While I had now pretty much got it down, I still didn’t really trust myself to use it frequently like Twilight did. That and it took a great deal of exertion to accomplish.

What constituted defensive magic, I was not sure. I already had the ability to let off raw magical energy, but I guess this consisted of more refined abilities and non-lethal solutions. If raw magic was a firearm, then this would probably be comparable to a Taser, to be used if I encountered something hostile like a manticore or a timberwolf. In any case, I was looking forward to it. Self-defence was one of the many things I’d wished I had the opportunity to do when I was younger.

As I approached the library, I was met with a bit of a surprise. Sitting outside, with its two fliers still attached, was a chariot. While it was not Celestia’s, it was nevertheless from the palace. That could be seen from its ornate design, and the fact that two Solar Guards were pulling it. I wondered who could be calling on Twilight from such a distance at such an early hour.

“Mornin’ Gentlecolts,” I said as I passed the two guards. As ever with them, I was met with a stoic face and complete silence. Luckily for them, I was a little more mature than Rainbow and did not pester them.

Just to be safe, considering Twilight had a guest or guests of some importance, I knocked on the door.

“Coming!” Twilight called. A moment later, she opened the door. “Oh hey Blade Star. I thought I told you that you didn’t have to knock.”

“Ah saw you had a guest, so Ah thought Ah’d just be polite,” I replied. Twilight looked confused for a moment before spotting the two Royal Guards, still standing at attention.

“Oh no, Blade Star, that guest is here for you. They’re helping me with your training today.” She paused and turned around. “Strong Shield!”

A dark brown stallion with a dark blue mane not dissimilar to my own stepped out. He was clearly a guard but was not wearing his helmet at the moment. Had he worn his entire uniform, his coat would have been turned charcoal grey as was the case with all unicorns in the Royal Guard. The most striking thing about him though, was his face. Any foal could tell he was a veteran. His face was angular and the look in his eyes was hard and unforgiving. Well, I suppose I mean eye, for he wore an eye patch over his right eye, it reminded me somewhat of von Stauffenburg or Moshe Dayan.

“This is Captain Strong Shield, Blade Star. He’s one of the instructors at the Guard Academy now, but he fought the Changelings during the Royal Wedding, and Shining said there is no one better qualified. Plus we’re friends. He’ll teach you while I do some work with the Crusaders this morning.” She smiled sheepishly.

I promptly drew myself to attention and saluted him.

“Good morning, sir,” I said. Strong Shield glared.

“How do you know what kind of Celestia damned day it is?” he asked sternly. This was going to be tough.

After a curt ‘follow me’ from Strong Shield, we left Twilight and headed out of Ponyville toward the Everfree Forest. As when I had practiced with Twilight, Strong Shield evidently didn’t want to run the risk of getting anypony accidentally hurt. When we arrived at our destination, there were around a dozen or so targets set up. Each one was a pole about two feet high, with a bulb of sorts at the top.

“What’s all this, sir?” I asked. Strong Shield snorted.

“Did I give you permission to speak? Captain Pretty Colt” (which I presumed meant Shining) “says you’re a civilian. But when we’re training you’re a recruit, which means I’m a superior officer. You call me captain and speak when you’re spoken to. Understand?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Good, then we’ll get to work, rookie.” He hesitated on that last word. “These are magical targets; they can create an image of any possible target. We’ll start with some basic marksmanship. Even as one of those ‘human’ things you still should be able to aim.”

He flared his horn an odd sickly green colour. The targets responded in kind and before my eyes, six of them turned into wooden targets with roundels and a bull in the middle.

“Now, we’ll start with a basic stun spell. Every guard should be able to do this spell in his sleep. A solid hit will put an opponent out cold for about three hours. Keep the magic flow in your horn low, but have a fair bit of your reserves ready. If you need this spell, you’ll probably be outnumbered.”

I flared my horn bringing a marginal amount of magic into my horn as instructed. This was the hardest part; it was very easy to place too much energy into the spell, turning it from a simple stun to a kill shot.

“Right, now then, one shot at a time; focus on your accuracy, not your speed.” I aimed my horn towards the first of the three targets. Steadying myself, I let loose the first shot. It came out as a dark blue bolt, rather than a concentrated beam. Unsurprisingly, this first shot went wide. After two more attempts, I hit the first target. When I had completed the sequence, the first target was surrounded by scorch marks, with one hit on the top edge, the second had one hit nearer the centre, but still high and the third had a hit not too far off the bull.

I turned to Strong Shield, expecting him to be at least somewhat pleased with my performance. The look on his face though, was one of disbelief.

“Sweet Celestia,” he muttered. His voice then rose in volume. “What the buck was that?!” he exclaimed. “Four shots to hit your first, with a poor impact, two more before you improved on your second. Hay, the only one you probably took down was the third! These things don’t even move!” He was some kind of ticked.

“Alright, let’s try it again,” he said at length. “I’ll watch you this time. One target, fire five shots. Understand?”

“Yes, Captain,” I said as I prepared for another round.

Again, my initial shots went wide, but third time was the charm and I scored a hit on the bull, with the other two shots hitting elsewhere on the target. I turned to Strong Shield again.

“You’re tensing up,” he said. “Relax your back and neck, otherwise you’ll jump and throw off your aim. Another two shots I think, and this time relax.”

I let off two shots, this time they went just where I wanted landing pretty close to dead centre. Strong Shield remained stone faced.

“Good, now at least you can hit the broadside of a barn.” I could understand his attitude; I was a civvie, an outsider to a guard. He on the other hand was a battle hardened officer who had fought Equestria’s most insidious enemy. And here he was, having to train me.

“Captain, you don’t have to treat me like one of your guard recruits. I don’t like it or really care for it, you deserve your rank, I don’t.” This however earned me another glare.

“Did I give you permission to speak, rookie? Furthermore, in the Royal Guard, we may not like our orders, but we damn well follow them without question. Or do I have to teach you that too?”

“No, Captain,” I backpedalled.

“Good. Now that your aim is just about passable, we can move on.” His horn flared again and the battered targets vanished, leaving nothing but the small two foot high columns. “Right then, now let’s see how sharp you are with a moving target. Or do you expect your opponents to assemble in front of you and stand perfectly still for your convenience?”

I considered making some wisecrack about how Royal Guards did tend to do just that, at least based on what I had seen. But Strong Shield, in spite of being about my size, in other words average, could probably give Big Macintosh a run for his money, perhaps even beat him.

“No, Captain.”

“Alright, as soon as the targets light up, take ‘em down. Five targets one at a time.” Without waiting for my answer, he flared his horn and the first target appeared.

Like before, it was a large wooden target, only this one moved with about the same speed as a pony at a trot. With my improved aim, my experience of virtual war kicked in and I remembered to lead the target before firing. Strong Shield noticed this and evidently decided I was doing too well. When the third target popped up, it was moving a hell of a lot faster, more like a gallop, and it was moving forwards and backwards too affecting the range. I was grateful magic didn’t have Kentucky windage to take into account.

By the time I’d hit the last one, I was rattled mentally. It was like playing a madcap version Whack-a-mole. This time Strong Shield’s expression showed perhaps the smallest amount of pride.

“Not bad for a rookie.”

“Thank you, Captain.” Strong Shield smiled a somewhat sadistic smile.

“Don’t thank me yet.” He paused. “Let’s see how you do when the targets shoot back.”

And with that, he flared his horn and vanished. It wasn’t a teleport, for there was no signature flash and pop sound. He just seemed to phase out of existence. I looked back toward the impromptu range, the targets too had vanished. There was nothing. Nothing moved. There were no targets that I could see.

“Captain?” I called. No response. “Captain Strong Shield!” Again nothing.

I listened and continued to look around. That’s when I noticed it. There was no bird song. The whole place was completely and deadly silent. I knew this was just training, but it nevertheless unsettled me. As a bit of a control freak like Twilight, I do not like it when I am not certain of what is happening.

It was then that I first heard it. It first came as a sort of humming sound, a bit like when you stand under one of those huge electricity pylons. It quickly became louder than this though. I couldn’t work out from which direction it was coming from though. The strange noise only served to put me more on edge, adrenaline began to kick in, preparing me for fight or flight, I had to give Strong Shield credit, this was no longer feeling like a simple training exercise.

And that was when it happened. There was a loud bang, like the report of a gun. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a green flash. Spinning around to face it, there was now a small crater in the ground next to me. Half buried, but rapidly recovering from the impact, was a black pony like creature. On its back were twisted insect wings. Its limbs were filled with holes, and it had soulless blue eyes without pupils. A Changeling.

It was quickly joined by three others that landed in front and to the side of me. They hissed foully at me, their fangs glinting in the light. Two of them quickly began to hover, starting up that droning buzzing again. I took a fighting stance and made a point to relax my back as Strong Shield had taught me.

“Hello beastie.” I said to the group. And with that, they came at me.

Author's Note:

Revised to adapt to alterations made in Chapter 10.

Introducing Strong Shield, a character originally created by silver_fang and used with his permission.

Up next, my first attempt at a fight scene.

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