• Published 12th Oct 2015
  • 8,063 Views, 1,025 Comments

A Pony Displaced: Another Path - NoLongerSober



Legend has it that on the longest day of the thousandth year, the stars will aid in her escape. There once was a stallion who faced Nightmare Moon and was sealed away with her. Now he returns in the modern age, hoping to find a new path.

  • ...
37
 1,025
 8,063

Chapter 33

Barrier stared into the mug of mead, rolling his most recent near-death experience in his head. Almost entirely absorbed in his thoughts, he didn’t notice that he had company until the stallion’s mug thudded to a rest on the bar. The unicorn’s disinterest turned into a sharp salute that sent his chair wobbling backwards.

“At ease, Barrier.” the stallion’s gruff voice motioned back to the bar, waiting until Barrier took a seat to continue. “Honestly, almost ten years as my student and you still do that.” The stallion took a drink and sat the mug back down. “Thy first time back in this tavern in years and thou lookest like a dead pony. Didst thee get caught spying on the princesses whilst they were bathing?”

“No sir.” Barrier glanced at the stallion and then back to his mug before draining his own cup with a sigh and motioning to the bartender for a refill.

“Then pray tell, what’s bothering you?” The older stallion turned and faced his former student, his sap-green eyes seeming to see right through the normally-hard stallion.

“I was thinking about my most recent near-death experience.” Barrier confessed without hesitation, his tone remaining respectful even as his gaze was fixated on the bar, rather than his mentor. “Literal inches away, courtesy of the Conqueror of Gallopfrey.” Barrier’s empty mug was returned with a full one and he wasted no time in beginning to drain it.

“Ah yes, the accursed Griffins…” the pony took another swig of his drink and clicked his teeth. “This has been a problem for far too long, hasn’t it, Barrier? Luckily, I believe that I can change that. End it.”

Barrier found his gaze torn from his drink with an almost hopeful stare. “How’s that, sir?” If anypony could end the war, it’d be him.

“I can’t say just yet. My research must remain as secret as possible. Once I reach the Crystal Empire, however…if all goes well, my efforts will end this destructive conflict and bring the world some much needed order.”

Barrier saluted again, though remained seated this time. “I look forward to the results, sir.”

“You’ve been my student for many years, Barrier. I believe you’ve earned the right to call me by name.” The pony stood up from his barstool. “Please, let me hear it from you once more before I leave.”

Barrier noted the slightest hint of melancholy in his teacher’s voice, but acquiesced regardless. “As you wish. Farewell, Sombra.”

Barrier watched as the dark-gray stallion strode from the bar before fixing his gaze on his mug once more…

***

Luna tapped the table sharply, drawing Barrier’s attention from his thoughts. “Captain? Thou appears to be distracted.”

The dishes from lunch had been cleared away and the trio had begun to make arrangements for Barrier’s temporary reinstatement when the stallion drifted into his memories.

“My apologies, Princess. I was…” Barrier hesitated slightly, “I was thinking about the last time I saw my mentor,” Luna pursed her lips slightly. “The last time I saw him as a pony and not a dark beast. Worry not however, I’ve long put that behind me. When the time comes, I will put him down.”

“There was never any doubt, Barrier.” Celestia reassured the stallion with a nod. “Well, I believe everything is concluded. I should head back to my duties. I’ll see both bright and early tomorrow?”

“Yes ma’am.” Barrier stood up and saluted as Celestia and Luna shared a quick hug and the solar princess departed.

“Your highness,” Barrier bowed to Luna and slowly backed up to take his leave as well, before the princess cut him off.

“Barrier, may We speak to thee in private?” Luna’s speech slipped slightly. “We wish to discuss something…personal.”

“Ma’am,” Barrier returned to his seat.

“We…I, that is, am worried. I feel bad that my sister blames herself. I’m worried about where her new self, her anger, could lead her…could lead Equestria.”

Barrier didn’t respond, deciding to simply listen for the time being; Luna continued.

“While We did believe Sombra was plotting something nefarious, and We were furious that Our sister was so disbelieving...now that We have the benefit of hindsight, We see that Our accusations had very little to truly go on. I had heard his words, but while they were suspicious, they were not enough for her. To my sister, I was blaming one of our most loyal officers. He had served faithfully for over twenty years. Had I been in my sister’s place, We believe we would have made the same decisions.”


Rolling the words around, Barrier waited in silence until it was clear Luna had finished to respond. “Permission to speak freely?”

Luna nodded.

“Hindsight isn’t exclusive, Princess Luna.” Barrier rubbed his jaw wearily with a hoof. “Your sister is looking at things in hindsight, same as you. One of the reasons you fell was because you felt ignored by everypony. Celestia feels that by ignoring you, she not only cost countless lives and hurt an unfathomable amount of ponies, but that it also cost her the single most important pony in her life. As for her sudden change of tone and ordering Sombra to be put to death without trial…I’m not worried.”

Luna drew back in a mixture of surprise and disgust. “Our sister just ordered the death of a pony with more anger than I possessed as Nightmare Moon! She was furious enough with herself that I was worried, and you say you’re perfectly fine with it, knowing what I did to the world when I fell?”

“Princess Celestia won’t fall,”

Luna opened her mouth to speak, but the unicorn cut her off.

“Not because she’s above it or more aware or anything such as that.”

Luna’s mouth closed and she returned to staring at the stallion.

“But because you’re here, and you won’t let her.” Barrier hefted himself up from the table once more. “It’ll be okay, Princess. I truly believe that after today, I’ve seen you and Princess Celestia at or near your worst, and I don’t think there’s anything for me to worry about.”

Luna stayed silent as Barrier approached the door.

“You’ve both made mistakes, but you’ve both learned from them. Besides that, I think the only reason she’s really okay with this is because you both have battled Sombra before. You know what he’s capable, and more importantly,” Barrier paused for needless dramatic flare, “you know his state of mind, that he can’t be reasoned with, that he’s almost feral. We all know he is beyond help or redemption. Killing him is more a kindness than anything.”

Luna sighed and also lifted herself from the table. “Very well, Captain. However, We shall still speak to Our sister. I do not wish her to become…as We did.”

“Ma’am.” Barrier’s magic opened the door, but the stallion stopped, releasing his hold. “Princess, I apologize for this, but I must know…last night, I had a dream where a pony very important to me was present. I must know, was that you?”

Luna raised an eyebrow. “Was your dream of being buried under our sister’s corpulent flank?”

“Uh…no?” Not this time at least.

“Then We believe that answer should satisfy thee.” Luna strode past the slightly smaller unicorn and out the door. “Now, we suggest thou should make preparations either for combat, or how to spend the night with thy paramour.”

Barrier sighed when he was finally alone and sat down on the cool stone floor. “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

***

“Alright ponies, get a move on!” Shining watched as the cadets filtered into the castle, some of them greeting Barrier as they passed him.

“Captain Armor.” Barrier smiled slightly as he approached his distant sorta-nephew.

“Captain Barrier.” Shining also smiled. “How’s it feel to be a guard again?”

“I already miss retirement.” The charcoal unicorn rolled his shoulders and earning several satisfying pops for the motion. “That aside, I figured I should come and give you an idea of what the Princesses expect us to go up against.”

Shining shook his head negative. “They’ve already briefed me on Sombra. I know what’s at stake.”

“I suppose they did, but…” Barrier fell silent as his inner voice interjected itself. Don’t tell him anything else about Sombra. It’s harder to kill a pony you know or feel sorry for. “Nevermind. I’m sure they told you everything you’ll need to know. I came to discuss a plan of attack for when we actually get to the returned Empire. Why don’t we discuss it over you showing me some of the more modern gear the guards has these days?”

“Uh, sure.” Shining bit back the urge to question Barrier about his initial conversational plans. “Come on, let’s go see the armory.”

After a short trip, Barrier was disappointed to see the quartermaster was not asleep…and was a new pony.

“Who’s the new guy?” Barrier didn’t actually address the Quartermaster who had both saluted and stood up nervously, since the Captain of the Guard had dropped in for an unexpected visit.

“His name’s Golden Hammer.” Shining returned the salute, both ponies dropping them in unison.

Barrier grinned. “You fired the last guy, didn’t you?”

“We gave him a different job.” The alabaster unicorn explained. “He gets to help the new recruits with latrine duty.”

Barrier grinned in response. You’re definitely related to me.

Shining moved to a wall loaded with flashbangs and other similar objects with different colors. “Right, let me show you what other toys we have…”

“More flashbangs?” Barrier strode forward with his younger counterpart.

“Not exactly. These ones are much more dangerous. These ones destroy nearly everything in a twenty-foot radius…they’re also brand new. Princess Celestia only okayed them for training a week ago.”

“They look like silver apples.” Barrier noted as he took one in his magic, being careful not to assert any excess or undue pressure on the small explosive.

“You’ll have to take that up with Corporal Magnum Gala over in research and development.” Shining motioned to the apple stem. “You pull this out and you have seven seconds to throw it or get the hay away from it.”

“Far more convenient than what we had one-thousand years ago it would seem. We had small bags of various ingredients. You pulled the string holding the bag shut hard enough to cause friction and ran like hell. You had about two seconds at most to get out of range before it made a small crater.”

“The hay would you guys be able to do with those?” Shining asked with a flinch.

“Nothing, after you’d pulled it. Even if you dropped it from the air, the explosive radius would still melt the skin off of you. We used them for more…drastic solutions. Run into the target, pull the string, and go to meet your ancestors. Use of them was obviously very rare but…well, you get the picture.”

Shining sucked in air through his teeth. “Grisly.”

“Weapons of a last resort.” Barrier held the newer grenade at eye level. “Where can we safely set these off? I need to know exactly what I’m working with.”

***

Barrier shuffled tiredly into Daring’s hotel room, where she was sitting stomach-down on the bed, scribbling away in a notebook.

“Welcome back.” The mare didn’t look up from her writing. “You smell like gunpowder.”

“Never before have I seen such glorious explosive carnage.” Barrier flopped tiredly onto the bed, finally prompting Daring Do to look over at him.

“You’d probably like movies by Michael Hay or Firecracker Burst.” The pegasus went back to scribbling in her notebook.

“Perhaps, though both of those names leave me feeling…” Barrier thought for a moment, “strangely let down. How odd.”

Daring snorted in response. “Hah! Don’t worry, that’s perfectly natural.”

“So,” Barrier rolled over on top of the mare, getting a grunt as his weight settled on her back. “what are you writing?”

“Get off of me.” Daring shifted slightly, but the weight held her fairly firmly in place. “Unless you want your carrot and cabbages kicked.”

Barrier rolled off almost immediately. “You leave tomorrow, correct?”

“Well, that was the plan, but I managed to get an earlier train, so I actually leave in a couple of hours.” The mare blew on her notebook to dry the ink and snapped it shut. “So I should probably get going. You too, if you plan to see me off.”

“Ah.” What I would give to accompany you… “Very well, shall we go?” Barrier hefted himself upright.

“I suppose so.” Daring hefted herself up as well, sighing sadly. “Whenever I get back, you have to come with me wherever I say, alright?”

“Of course.”

Daring’s trademark grin broke through. “Good, it’s a promise. That means you can’t die up in there the Empire.”

Barrier also smiled before swallowing nervously and speaking once more. “Daring, do you think that…”

“Barrier,” Daring smiled at him incredulously. “I’m not gonna do it in the shower. I don’t want to cut my train too close.”

Barrier groaned and facehoofed, much to Daring’s amusement. “I was going to ask if after our coming trials, if we…I’d like to…” The unicorn fumbled his words several more times before finally saying something coherent. “I was wondering if we could attempt a more…formal relationship?”

Daring’s grin softened slightly and she nodded. “Buck it, why not? Whenever we get back, we can give it a go, see where it lands us.” Daring sauntered past the unicorn towards the bedroom door, flicking her tail as she lead him from the room.

***

“So, I suppose this is it…” Barrier glanced at the garishly decorated train that would transport Daring Do -disguised with her cloak, hat, and glasses, as always- to the coast.

“I guess so.” Daring turned to face the unicorn. “Hey, I know I sorta said it back at the hotel but…don’t die, okay? Faust only knows why but I’ve really grown to kinda like you. And…sorry if I seem a little awkward with our whole weird…whatever it is we have. I don’t have tons of practice with romance and what not. Never been one for tying myself down. Always been a ‘buck for a night or two and head out for the next adventure’ type of mare. But you…I don’t know, some part of me wants to spend more time with you.” Daring half-smiled. “Surprisingly, it’s not my hind-end.”

The unicorn didn’t have an immediate response.

Daring began to back up towards the train but stopped. “Oh, almost forgot.” The mare reached forward and snagged Barrier by the chin before tugging him forcefully into a kiss that he wasted no time in returning. “See you when I get back, Captain.”

Barrier nuzzled the pegasus as the kiss broke and nodded. “I look forward to it.” The stallion took a deep breath as he watched the pegasus board the train and waited several long minutes until it finally broke away from the station and left him standing alone on the platform in the late evening sun.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!