• Published 1st Oct 2014
  • 3,230 Views, 417 Comments

Story Shuffle - FanOfMostEverything


Thirty-one one-shots inspired by thirty-one random Magic cards.

  • ...
7
 417
 3,230

Military Tradition

Shining Armor had been tremendously proud to hear how Twilight had made it into Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. More than a little terrified, given the tales of her incredible surge, but still proud. His LSBFF was coming into her own, living up to her tremendous potential. He wished she'd stop cloistering herself with battalions of books, but hopefully her new school would give her a chance to flourish.

Still, it wasn't just the school that had accepted her. Princess Celestia herself had named Twilight her personal student. Cadence had been ecstatic to hear about that. Shining wasn't so sure. It was bad enough when he knew the princess's niece was gossiping about him. Adding his little sister to the mix? Celestia would have every reason to keep a close eye on him, the thought of which turned his knees to water. There was no way that kind of scrutiny would end well.

And then there was Spike.

Shining really didn't know where he stood with Spike. Once the wonder of having a dragon in the house died down, he found himself unsure whether he should think of himself as a brother, an uncle, or just a petsitter. Especially when the two of them were the only ones in the house.

"Shiny?"

Shining scratched "petsitter" off the mental list. Pets might resemble their owners, but few asked questions like them. "Yeah, Spike?"

"How come all guards look the same?"

"It's called a uniform. There's magic in the armor that—"

The wyrmling pouted and stomped his foot. "I know what it's called. I want to know why."

Shining shook his head. The inflection was spot-on. It was as though Twilight had reared up and grown scales. "Well, it's..." He trailed off. Explaining the need for easy identification of ally and enemy in combat to a toddler seemed like a bad idea. Especially if Mom found out. Or Twily. Or, Celestia forbid, Cadence.

Mercifully, an alternate answer came to mind. "It's to honor some of the greatest members of the Royal Guard."

Spike's eyes widened (Shining still wasn't used to the slit pupils) and he sat in rapt attention. "Who?"

Shining felt himself relax a bit. Military history was a much more comfortable subject for him than babysitting. He tried not to think about what that said about him. "Well, the unicorn uniform—" He paused for Spike's giggles. "It's based on Honor Code. He was an incredible illusionist and tactician."

"Tac...?" Spike tilted his head as he considered the new word.

"He directed his troops in the middle of battle, and he was very good at it. His specialty was rendering almost anything completely unnoticeable. Platoons, airships, even siege weapons." Shining grinned. "He'd drop the spell, and suddenly there was a row of cannons right in front of the foe's front lines."

Spike gaped, jaw slack and eyes wide.

Shining nodded. "Yeah, according to the records, they looked just like that."

"Cooooool."

"Right? Now, the earth pony guards—"

Spike frowned. "There are earth pony guards?"

"Of course there are. Why wouldn't... oh." Shining almost smacked himself, but that probably wouldn't be a good influence on Spike. "Yeah, the earth pony guards don't see a lot of ceremonial duty. Nopony's quite sure why. Anyway, their uniform gives them black coats and dark gray manes, just like the pony they honor, Hold de Line."

"Did he?" asked Spike.

Shining considered this. "Did he what?"

"Hold the line."

"What about him?"

Spike rolled his little eyes. "Did he?"

"...Oh!" Shining laughed. "Right. Well, yeah. Yeah, he did. During one of the Griffin Wars, it's said he personally held off a good dozen reivers to give Princess Celestia time to cast a decisive spell."

"What did the spell decide to do?"

Shining held back his laugh this time, though he still smiled. "I mean the spell was what won the battle for the ponies."

"Oh." Spike grinned. "Neat! So what happened to Hold de Line after the battle?"

"He... was commended for his bravery and skill, and is still honored to this day through the uniform enchantment." Shining very carefully didn't mention that that honor was posthumous.

Spike was nearly bouncing in place. "And what about the pegasus?"

"He was named Cold Steel, and he may be the greatest of those honored through the uniform."

"What did he do? What did he do?"

Shining grinned. "Oh, not much. Just single-hoofedly slew a..." He trailed off, mouth still wide open.

"What?" Spike looked at him with adoring eyes. "What did he slay? A manticore? A hydra?"

"Well..." Shining glanced at the clock. No, still way too early for bedtime. Spike had just eaten, so no breaks would come courtesy of his digestion. Shining sighed. Well, might as well bite the bit and get it over with. "A dragon."

Watching Spike go from excitement to horror just about broke Shining's heart. "Huh?"

"He was nothing like you, though!" Shining cried. "He was a very old, very mean dragon who had never learned how to make friends."

"Oh." Spike looked at the floor, and Shining couldn't think of anything more to say.

After what felt like hours, Spike spoke up again. "Shiny?"

"Yeah, Spike?"

Spike looked up, eyes narrowed. "I think Cold Steel was kind of mean too."

Shining quirked an eyebrow. "Why's that?"

"Just because the dragon didn't know how to make friends didn't mean that he couldn't try to show him."

Shining considered the tales of dread Istruzinov, the fell wyrm who had flown over the top of the world on thermals of his own making. The mighty dragon who had glowed with his own heat, who had sought to claim the sun itself for his hoard, who had reduced thousands to ash before laughingly accepting Cold Steel's challenge to single combat.

"You know what, Spike?" he said. "I think you're right."

The dragon gave a solemn nod at this. Then he started sucking his thumb.

Author's Note:


Identical soldiers? Time for a tale of the Royal Guard.

Also, there aren't nearly enough Spike/Shining Armor sibling stories out there.