• Published 22nd Sep 2014
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The Star Guard - Car Cloth



The newly formed Star Guard has been given an impossible task: purge the world of the Nightmare Forces once and for all. Can Captain Pipsqueak, an earth pony not gifted in magic, fight against the darkness? Only time will tell.

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Gathering the Troops

Chapter 1
Gathering the Troops

“Once upon a time, the Nightmare Forces infested the dreams of all creatures, whispering to them while they slept, feeding on their fears and weaknesses. Those who lost themselves to despair were enveloped in darkness and transformed into nightmarish creatures within the waking world, bringing with them chaos and destruction.

“However, there was one alicorn who took it upon himself to free the dreams of all creatures from the Nightmare Forces’ grasp. Luna’s father, the first Guardian of the Night, tirelessly sifted through the dreams of others, removing the darkness and weakening the Nightmare Forces. Then, right before his task was complete, he disappeared. Which brings me to-”

“Wait,” Scootaloo interjected. “He just disappeared? What happened to him?”

Pipsqueak took a deep breath. The conference room in Canterlot Castle was spacious, even considering the eight ponies gathered within it. The bright glow of the moon, coupled with the glowing crystal lanterns, provided enough light despite the hour. Every pony seated at the rectangular table was staring at Pipsqueak.

“I don’t know what happened to him,” Pipsqueak answered.

Scootaloo rolled her eyes and leaned forward on the table. “Well, that’s lame. If this were a proper story he should have gone out in style. Like, he would have defeated the Nightmare Forces if it weren’t for that sudden bear attack, where he was ambushed by a million bears and went down fighting.”

“That’s preposterous,” Rumble laughed, leaning back in his seat. “A million? C’mon. Maybe a thousand. But not a million.”

“Guys, I’m trying to be serious,” Pipsqueak sighed.

Scootaloo narrowed her eyes. “We just got done with saving Canterlot from King Basilisks and nightmare things! You could lighten up, Pip. Everything doesn’t have to be a somber retelling. Besides, everypony who tells legends and stories needs to spice it up a bit. Just say he fought a thousand bears. It makes it cooler.”

Pip face-hoofed, but he understood Scootaloo’s point. They had just gone through a lot. Perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing to lighten things up, if only for this story. “Okay, okay. Right before the Guardian of the Night could complete his task, he was… attacked by a thousand bears… and went down fighting.”

“Like a badass,” Scootaloo added.

“Yes, like a badass,” Pip groaned. “Anyway, when the Nightmare Forces had control of Luna, all of her father’s work was undone. Now the darkness lurks in the dreams of all creatures and those who would give in to despair will become nightmares in the waking world. Princess Luna has tasked me with helping her purge the darkness from dreams once more and… I need help. I can’t do it on my own. Luna told me I was to recruit a few select ponies I could trust in the dreamscape, which is why you are all here.”

“You want us to join the Star Guard?” Rumble asked, surprised.

Pip nodded and turned to the first pony seated next to him, Marble Pie. She was an earth pony with a light gray coat, a dark gray mane, and bright purple eyes. Her cutie mark was a shattered boulder, a symbol of her talent for destruction. Though she wasn’t always the most energetic or fun-loving, Pip knew he wanted her by his side, in or out of the dreamscape.

“Marble, will you help me? Will you join the Star Guard?”

She lifted an eyebrow and hefted her war hammer. “Can Sebastian come with me into the dreams?”

“I guess? I mean, war hammers don’t dream but, er, you can imagine him there?” Pip knew she carried the weapon with her everywhere… but even into dreams?

“All right. Count me in.”

Pip looked to the next pony at the table. Equinox, a bat pony, stared back at him with her gold slit-pupiled eyes. She had a dark gray coat covered in contorted, irregular scars, and light blue mane. Like all bat ponies, she had leathery wings. Well, in her case, one leathery wing. The other was more skeletal, completely missing the webbing. Her cutie mark was a circle; one half white and one half black. It represented her ability to see in daylight, a trait not normally shared by other bat ponies.

“Equinox,” Pip addressed her. “You were the one to deliver the final blow to Nightmare Moon. Will you help me? Will you join the Star Guard?”

“Of course,” she said quickly. “It’s a noble cause, to say the least.”

Relief came over Pip. He felt the same way about Equinox as he did Marble; he couldn’t imagine doing this task without them. The next pony seated at the table was Rumble, a pegasus from Ponyville. He was a strong flier even when he was a foal, he participated in creating the powerful tornado of rain when most foals were too weak to approach the clearing.

Rumble had a light bluish gray coat, a dark gray and blue mane, and purple eyes. His cutie mark was a black cloud with a thunderbolt coming out of it. Although Rumble hadn’t fought through the nightmares, Pip knew he was determined. It was a good trait to have.

“Rumble, will you join the Star Guard?” he asked.

“You know, when I spoke to my brother during the King Basilisk attack… he said he was proud of me for serving Equestria and the princesses. I think I’d be letting him down if I said no now.” Rumble sat up in his chair and held his head high. “I’ll definitely join the guard.”

Pip turned to the next pony, a bat pony by the name of Mist. She was-

“Yes!” she happily shouted before Pip had a chance to open his mouth. “I’m never going to become the Princess of Bats if I don’t get out there and improve!”

“The Princess of Bats?” Marble skeptically asked. “Don’t you think that’s a little crazy?”

“Are you seriously questioning somepony else’s sanity?” Scootaloo asked with a look of disbelief. “Why don’t you ask Sebastian what he thinks of that hypocrisy, hm?”

“Fair enough.”

Mist stood up from her chair and placed her forelegs on the table, standing taller than any other pony in the room. “Nothing is impossible, I say! Let’s show them dark forces what we got!” She followed up her proclamation with a ke ke ke snicker.

Although Mist and Equinox were siblings, they didn’t look much alike beyond their fangs and leathery wings. Mist’s dark brown coat was unmarred by scars, she had a white mane, and amber colored eyes. Her cutie mark was an owl made of mist, a reference to her skill in hiding.

“Thank you, Mist,” Pip said with a laugh. The bat pony stared at him with bright eyes, her adoration clear as day. Pip felt himself flushing with embarrassment when he turned to the next pony. “Um, er, Specter… You want to-”

The bat pony, Specter, immediately held up his hoof, interrupting Pip. “Hey, those nightmares were intense. I don’t think anypony should have to deal with those kinds of shenanigans, not even day-ponies. Also, if Scoots is going, I’m going.”

Scootaloo looked at him with a half-smile. “You think you can keep up with me? Pfft. We’ll see.” Specter just smiled back. He had a black coat, light gray mane, and light gray eyes. His cutie mark was an image of the moon with the shadow of a pony cast over it.

He stretched his leathery wings and yawned. “I think I can handle it.”

Rumble looked put-off. “Hey, you heard Pip. This is serious, so stop making goo-goo eyes at Scootaloo.”

“What? I was serious. I’m joining the Star Guard, calm yourself.”

“Besides,” Marble commented, propping her war hammer up on the seat next to her, “weren’t you onboard with adding a bear attack to the story, Rumble? I think Specter’s entitled to his fun too.”

“Whose side are you on?” Rumble glared at Marble. “What if I started making goo-goo eyes at Sebastian?”

Marble thought about the question for half a second. “Well, Sebastian has never shown interest in stallions, but we’re open to trying new things.”

Rumble was taken aback. “What- er, no! It was just a joke!”

“Enough!” Pip said, banging his hoof against the table in order to get everypony’s attention. “We have strayed too far from the topic. Scootaloo, you’re joining, right?”

She nodded. “Of course. Jeez.”

“Gloom?” Pip asked, turning to the last bat pony in the room. Gloom was tall, he had a black coat, a bright green mane, and gray eyes. His cutie mark was three sound lines, a clear indication of excellent hearing.

“Look…” Gloom said, trailing off as his eyes locked in front of him. “It’s great you want me to join you and all… but I’m going to have to decline.”

“What?” Specter suddenly asked, glowering at Gloom. “You’re going to quit? What about the nightmares?”

“I wasn’t even involved with the nightmares,” Gloom said, glaring up at the other bat pony. “I was stuck in the castle with cutie pox while King Basilisks swarmed around, trying to find me. Do you know how difficult it is to stay hidden when you suddenly develop a yodeling cutie mark? Do you? I’ll sum up my feelings: it wasn’t pleasant. I signed up for the Night Guard because I wanted to escape a life where I wasn’t certain about the future. This whole endeavor… fighting nightmares and the like... feels like a pretty uncertain future if you ask me.”

The tone in the room shifted to serious as each of the ponies nervously glanced between each other.

“You must have known the Night Guard would be dangerous,” Equinox stated. “Why is the Star Guard so much different?”

“The Night Guard faces enemies I can deal with, ya know? They have a schedule, a real leader, not some pony who was just promoted to captain after seven months of training, and they protect Princess Luna, not everypony. There’s a big difference between the management of Quarray Eels and facing darkness itself.”

“Nopony is going to force you to join,” Pip said. “But, we did go through a lot together and I feel you would be an asset to the team.”

“Sorry, but I’m going to decline. I would rather finish my training with Captain Ghast than stay here.” He avoided meeting anypony’s eyes as he flapped his leathery wings and left his seat at the table. He quickly exited the room. There was a long silence after the click of the closing door. Pip wasn’t sure what to say; Gloom’s lack of confidence in him had been a heavy blow.

“It’s all right,” Mist suddenly perked up, jumping back onto the table. “We’re all still here, you guys! We got this!”

Rumble nodded, suddenly energized. “Yeah! We totally got this!” Then he turned to Pip. “So… now what?”

Everypony turned to Pip. He nervously laughed and rubbed his hoof over the top of the table. “Well… um, we’ll have to fight the darkness. In dreams. Together.”

“Right now?” Rumble asked. “And how do we do that, exactly?”

Pip placed his most precious possession on the table; a Fragment of the First Night, given to him by Luna, and enhanced with part of her own magic. “We’re going to use this magic to slip in and out of the dreams of ponies. Just… give me a few days to see how it works.”

“You might want to take a little longer,” Marble casually suggested. “You still look a mess.”

Pip glanced at himself. He was still covered in bandages and gauze. His body ached. “We don’t have much time to wait,” he eventually said with a sigh. “Besides, I should be able to handle myself in a dream. That doesn’t require anything physical.”

Marble shrugged. “I hope you’re right.”

---

Pip slowly trotted into his room in the castle. He would have gone back to the hospital, but he wanted to be alone in order to practice using his Fragment of the First Night.

“Pip,” a familiar voice said.

He turned, and immediately felt at ease. Princess Luna was standing in the hallway near his room, her regal presence matching the grandeur of the building. Her night-sky mane waved through the air, unconcerned with the lack of wind.

“Have you decided who you will be taking into the Star Guard?” she asked.

“Yes.” Pip nodded. “Myself and six others… the other recruits I trained with. Most of them were in the nightmare world with me. I know I can trust them.”

Luna smiled, but her expression was still melancholy. “All of them were recruits?”

“Yes.”

“No fully trained soldiers?”

“Er, no…” Pip said, realizing where she was going with this. Although he trusted the others, none of them had much experience to draw from. He would need to rectify that somehow. “I’ll try and recruit others,” he said, trying to reassure her. “Others with more experience.”

“Good,” she said. “And what will you be doing now?”

“Right now? Well, I’m going to attempt to use your magic to walk through dreams.”

Her eyes lit up. “I was hoping you would say that. Come, Pip. I know I’ve told you much about my powers in the past, but it is a different experience altogether when you must use them yourself. Besides, being an earth pony, I imagine you don’t have my experience with magic.”

Pip forced a smile and shook his head, but in the back of his mind he felt like a child needing to be shown the most basic of everyday functions. Luna pushed open the door to his room and trotted inside. Pip followed. The room, like all rooms in the castle, was grand in scale. Despite being designed for a single pony there was a massive bed, a huge couch, a giant bay window and large balcony.

Luna used her magic to snuff out the lights of the crystal lanterns. Pip was about to object, but then he realized something important. He could see in the dark. Perfectly. It was as if the lights had never been turned off. In fact, he thought he might even be seeing a little better than he had been with them on…

“Why-” He stopped himself and glanced down to the Fragment of the First Night. It pulsed with power and he knew this newfound ability came from the object he was holding. No longer would the darkness of the night be his enemy.

Luna took a seat on the couch and motioned for Pip to take a seat. Pip obliged and happily curled up onto the couch next to her. His back leg ached when he put pressure on it, so he opted instead to sit leaning on his side.

“Pip?” Luna asked, her voice rising.

“Yes?”

“I asked if you were ready. Are you?”

Pip rubbed at his bad ear and nervously laughed. “Yes. I’m ready.”

“Then close your eyes, Pip. We have dreams to explore.”

Author's Note:

Artwork for Guardian of the Night in the first comment!

Hopefully you guys enjoy yet another wacky adventure! Current upload schedule is mon/wed/fri! See you Wednesday!

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