• Published 19th Dec 2016
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The Pieces Lie Where They Fell - Evilhumour

A thousand years after the death of Mane Six, a new generation of Bearers are chosen.

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Chapter Fourteen: Regal Pants, Gentle Step

Chapter Fourteen

Regal Pants

It had been chaos since Regal got that black message telling him that his father, Aurum Pants, had passed away. He had locked Upper-Middle-Second-Cadenza-To-Magi-Gate down, sealing it with the seal spell of the day, sending off a message to his squadmates that were enjoying the Honour Festival to return to the guardhouse before locking the door to the guardhouse itself before running to his family manor to deal with his father’s death.

His family servants were busy dealing with the countless messages appearing with a number of ponies arriving to either give their condolences or press him on matters his father left lying around when Regal finally reached his family's mansion. Those damn sharks hounded him for details and payment as he bounded each step up to his father’s chamber, with the doctors still milling around, waiting for him.

Regal pushed them to the side, tears in his eyes as he forced the door open to see his father lying in his bed. Regal could understand the term resting at peace now, the lines of stress and life washed away from his father’s face. He seemed so serene, and no doubt was with mother in fields of Elysium with the rest of their departed family.

Leaning to kiss his father’s forehead while saying the prayers of the Lady and the Holy Celestia and Luna, Regal allowed himself a moment more to mourn in public before collecting himself. He had to deal with the transfer of power from one Head of the house to another as well as plan a funeral. He began barking orders to his servants to pay the doctors and send them on their way, he told the solicitors and debt collectors he would tend to them later, he thanked those coming to pay their respects, he began to leaf through the telegraph book and the papers they had kept when his mother had died to see if the ponies who took care of the funeral procedures could do the same on such short notice as well as being on the Honour Festival.

It was a blur of events for Regal, his mind leaping from one detail to the next when there was a sudden hammering on the downstairs door. He frowned, looking to his servant for an answer as there shouldn’t be anypony able to knock that loudly. Before the maid could answer or Regal could ask her, the doors opened up and he heard the precise sound marching hooves. Walking to the landing, he saw two plain clothes guards the pins indicating they were both lieutenants stalk into the foyer, scan the room before locking onto him.

They both teleported to his side, a warning bell ringing in his head as one of them, the mare, was an earth pony and even for a lieutenant, that was a highly specialized spell for them to have on command like that.

The stallion guard turned to face him and inquired, not asked, but inquired, “Sergeant Regal Pants in search of the Upper-Middle-Second-Cadenza-To-Magi-Gate.”

“Yes…” he blinked, wondering what they were doing here. “Can I help you…”

“Yes,” the mare said sharply. “You can come with us cooperatively for questioning or you can come with us with a thaumic restraint for questioning.”

Regal bristled at this, an angry retort building in his mouth before the stallion narrowed his eyes and spoke again. “You are currently in a severe amount of trouble, Sergeant Pants. The Captain is to interrogate you for information and you are to report to the interrogation office shortly. Now again, how do you wish to appear before the Captain?”

“I am preparing my father’s funeral here,” Regal snapped. “If you can inform me what you wish to know, I can prepare a report for the Captain afterwards.”

“You seem to be under the impression you can chose to not attend your interrogation,” the mare said. “We understand that you are currently grieving and in fact we were giving you a kindness by offering to bring you in under your own volition.“

“I… thank you?” he said, blinking in confusion. Apparently, they took that as his consent as he was suddenly whisked away from his family manor and into a small room with a table, chair in front of him, a chair on the opposite side and an obvious one way mirror to his right. Looking behind him there was a door and there was one across of it. With little else to do, he took the seat next to him and sat down, eyeing the room with his ears popping.

Regal frowned, surprised that this happened. He knew he lived high on the mountain, but he had to be even higher than normal for his ears to pop and the Captain of the Cadenza Guards Offices were in the Middle. In fact, the only the Captains’ Office that were this high was the-

“Oh sweet fucking Luna,” he swore as his eyes went wide as he realized exactly which Captain those two Guards were talking about. He was about to stand up when the door across of him opened up and in walked Captain-General Gentle Step of the Royal Guards.

She was dressed in full proper service armour polished to a regulation gleam with a sword in a sheath attached to both of her croupieres. She stalked up to the table in a tempo that made the elites of the Cadenza Guards look like recruits scrambling about before halting directly in front of the table. She then reached up with both of her forehooves and took off her royal purple helmet and placed it down perfectly centered on the table to the right of her.

Gentle Step seemed to be more of a lump of mass in a pony shape as opposed to being a pony. Her snout was blunt with three scars trailing down to the let side of her mouth, her body muscle mass seemed to belong to an earth pony that had trained themselves to the cusp of being unhealthy opposed to a unicorn. Her dull blond mane was cut short as the books required them to be but something seemed off as no Guard was that much of a stickler for regulation. Captain Standing Wall was lax on the Cadenza Guards and the Celestial Guards were the worst with Holy Corona Blazen Sun being their excuse to get away with bizarre mane styles. Looking at the Captain General, there seemed to be not an ounce of a pony present, just something made of Dragon Steel with a dusty yellow coat of fur and her eyes-

Regal froze at her glare, seeing her put such disdain and cold fury in those grey eyes of hers. Her face might be neutral and calm at the moment but her eyes caused his legs to shake and his mouth to tremble.

Standing to what he hoped was a proper enough attention, he snapped a salute to her and began to say, “Sergeant Regal-”

“I did not give you leave to speak or stand, sergeant Pants,” she said in a calm, emotionless tone but her eyes narrowed a fraction and he had to bite back a quake of fear from escaping his lips. Legs quivering, he retook his seat that made a ton of scraping noises while the Captain General took her seat opposite of him in a proper manner that made no noise.

“Ma’am, I-”

“I am your superior officer, not your acquaintance,” Gentle Step said as she reached into a satchel and placed down seven folders in what he was willing to wager was perfect equal distance from each other. “However, given the severity of your transgressions, you may say and do whatever you wish as you cannot possibly worsen your current situation.”

That was a trap, he knew that much. Best thing was to keep his mouth shut unless asked a question. She waited ten seconds, staring at him intently before retrieving the central folder and opened it up.

“Today, when you were sleeping during your shift of the policing of the Upper Canterlot to Middle Canterlot Second Mi Amore Cadenza To Magi of the Stars Gatehouse, there were two messages transmitted to your desk that you ignored in favour of focusing solely on the death alert of your father after you were awakened by Xvital, Night Blade, Wind Breaker, Page Turner, Rex and Vix-Lei,” she said as she placed two telegrams that had the seal of the Captain-General on one and the fire department of the district his Gatehouse was in on the other. The latter was a standard shut down order after an arson was committed to keep those who did the deed from fleeing but the other one…

Regal opened his mouth to say he didn’t understand why he saw Night’s name there but caught himself in time as the Captain General was judging him. Wisely, he shut it and simply lifted the telegram from the Captain General and saw it was high authority sealment of all gatehouses in the West to prevent Night and his group from passing. Let alone the fact that this order was reserved for the most serious of crimes and Night was involved, he had let all of them pass through his gate…

Gulping loudly, he placed the telegram back down as he began to understand exactly how screwed he was. He looked at her, with excuses running through his head and his mouth opening and closing, as some part of his mind told him that the Captain General still had not given him permission to speak and she would be angry if he spoke now.

“I understand quite a number of things here, sergeant,” she said, her eyes boring into him. “I understand when this breach of protocol occurred, I know who exactly is at fault for allowing these individuals,” she gestured to each folder as they opened up and showed information on Night and each of his group’s member. “To pass through a complete blockade. I know where they escaped into the Middle but two things I do not know is the what and the why. I want to know what was said to you that allowed you to pass them through without running a background check on them and why you would do this. Inform me.”

Regal felt his heart began to race truly now, as he knew exactly what the answer was but he was terrified for what her reaction for it would be.

Apparently he took too long because Captain General Gentle Step narrowed her eyes fully now, the full might of her disapproving glare focused on him, standing upright. “Perhaps I was not clear or coherent enough. I told you to inform me what made you betray your training and your oaths to office. There might be a need to overhaul how the Cadenza Guards are trained if you are the norm and not the exception. Again, inform me what was promised to you that made you turn turncoat sergeant Pants or I will retrieve the information through spells that can be either painless or painful. The punishments will be worse if you force me to use those spells and I-”

“Night promised me second chair!” he shouted, his fears getting the better of him. He saw her look at him, eyes slightly narrowed before he spat out, “Ma’a-sir!” She was still looking at him, his explanation not enough. “For the upcoming tournament of swordponyship of the core districts, sir. Night Blade is the captain of the team of the West and he promised me I would be the second pony after him… sir,” Regal said with his body doing its best not to tremble with the Captain General simply looking at him before she closed up all the folders, placed them into her satchel and then looked at him.

“So if I am to understand you correctly, you betrayed all that you trained for and swore oaths of loyalty to for a tournament that you yourself are ineligible to enter due to your professional training,” Captain General Gentle Step said in her steady voice which made the guilt he was feeling even worse. “When you become a guard and wear the armour, you cease being the pony. You are one of many, the individual nonexistent because it takes one guard acting on their own intention for the entire system to fall apart. You put aside what is Regal Pants and become a Guard of Equestria when you don that armour. Your life is inconsequential to those you are charged with protecting: the citizens of this city. Your reward is not the financial payment given to you but knowing that countless ponies and citizens are alive because of what you did. By indulging in your own desires and being negligent in your tasks of reading simple telegrams, you have put untold number of lives at risk. Do you understand the ramifications of what you have done today may be the reason why ponies might die for years to come, that the end result of you sleeping through your duties and failing to follow through with your tasks may be the destruction of everything we have built up, that your actions might be the one that spells the end of Equestria itself?” Even though she asked him a question, he knew that she did not want him to answer her. She wanted to him to understand how fully he’d messed up, slamming into him the full width of his actions might have onto others. “You are near incompetent but you did not act with purposeful malice. You will report to the Lower Canterlot Cadenza Guardhouse for retraining and you will be stationed there until such time it is determined that you have learned how to be a proper Guard.”

“But that’s the Lower, I can’t go-” Regal stopped himself from speaking any further but the damage was done and the Captain General had now looked at him, raising an eyebrow and was leaning across the table. She stared into him before speaking with a hint of hardness in her voice.

“Congratulations, you have just proved me wrong, there was something that you could say that would make your situation worse,” Captain General Gentle Step said to him, reminding him that she came from the Lower South. In fact, when she was born, the room caved in and she had been born in what was called the Lowest. Unlike others that came from the Lower, she had been proud of where she had come from and even owned a house down there that remained untouched by the dangerous criminal activity that lived nearby. Mainly because no one was crazy enough to risk drawing her wrath down on them, not after she had singlehandedly busted an entire drug ring that had broken a step on her porch when running through her backyard. “Give me one reason to why I should not take you through the door I came through and toss you out a window.”

Regal paused to think for all of five seconds before he had an answer. “A wise pony told me that when you become a Guard, you put the pony you are aside.”

The Captain General looked at him for five seconds before softening her eyes which was like a weight off his back. “You demonstrate the boldness to use my own words against me which implies you have the ability to think and act beyond your training. You might possess some potential after all.” She then stood up with her magic placing her helmet back onto her head. “You will report to the Lower Canterlot Cadenza Guardhouse for your retraining in three days; that should be sufficient enough time to put your affairs in order regarding the death of your father.”

“Sir,” Regal stood up, finding himself in his cleanest attention formation he had ever done with a hoof pressed to his head in salute. “I need only the end of the day to finish the paperwork for my father’s funeral; once I am finished with my retraining I can attend to my family’s duty and obligations personally.”

“Very well, sergeant Pants,” she said, returning the salute. “Go through the door behind you and there will be a pony to teleport you back into your family’s manor. We will contacting you regarding several questions about Night Blade and Page Turner in the future.”

“Understood, sir,” Regal replied, standing rock still.

“Dismissed,” she said as she fixed the straps for her helmet. Regal turned around and marched for the door, his chest swelling with pride and assertion that he had done the right thing today and he was on the right track.

Gentle Step

Gentle Step did not wait for the sergeant to leave, already marching to the door where the rest of the Captains were waiting. Pants had some merit to him, they would just need to break it out of him properly this time. Standing Wall needed to revise her training method to avoid situations where potentially good Guards were allowed to fall in such solvency and-

“So what’s your take, Steps?” Full Moon Sweet Surprise asked her, her voice full of pep and energy. She had removed her midnight blue helmet and was spinning it counterclockwise with her magic, her way of acting bored. If she had been spinning it clockwise, then she would be actually bored and not paying any attention. Sweet Surprise was aptly named; she may act like such a fool at times and that was part of her nature to be easy going, but only an idiot would think that the mare who held back a demon incursion on her own without her armour for several days before getting reinforced to take a five minute break before jumping back into the fray was a no brain ditz of a unicorn.

Still, she could curb her playfulness just a bit…

“No doubt what you all saw,” she told her Captains, her eyes lingering briefly on Standing Wall, the earth pony more frustrated than she was at the entire situation. “Just made the mistake of passing the bit along when he should be focused on the job.” Standing Wall bristled at this, her coat standing on end. “This is no remark on your standard of training, Standing Wall.”

“Agreed,” Blazen Sun said, stroking his barrel length beard. “Ever since you and that squad of your Guards took on that mob of thousand strong minotaurs and came out with three hundred minotaurs marching in perfect formation to a Royal Guard stronghold without losing a single of your squad, no pony doubts your ability to train ponies.”

“Thank you,” she nodded her head to the the Holy Corona, a brief smile on her face before turning to face Gentle Step again. “You were saying, Gentle Step?”

“On Pants? The matter is resolved,” she said, eyes flickering over them once more, to impart how serious she was. “On the matter of these six individuals, the situation require our immediate attention.”

“What is the charge against these six characters?” Magi Supreme Violet Lulamoon said, arching an eyebrow at her. The mare was direct to the point of being near insolent, but she was cutting through the clutter to get to the heart of the matter. She was a hammer that would break into anything that threatened Canterlot and there was a reason that her family had a trend of ascending to the position of Magi Supreme and that no enemy had ever managed to invaded by the Northern district.

“Treason and plans to commit regicide,” she said, causing the four Captains to hiss in surprise and anger.

“It is one thing to be against the monarchy, but it is another thing to try and topple a government as large as ours,” Blazen Sun grumbled darkly. “In my youth, they would simply protest before the palace, not try and burn it to the ground.”

“In your youth, the Goddesses would be there to put a stop to such things,” Sweet Surprise smirked to the Holy Corona which got the stallion to smile briefly; such as their relationship was that the mare could tease the hundred thirty year old about his age in these times without it being inappropriate. “In anycase, I do not see any of these kids being traitors or kingslayers. The unicorn is a librarian, the batpony is a hierarchised noble who is either around the Great Library or the gym, the griffon is a Hatchery griffon with his vice being alcohol, the diamond dog is a shop owner that applied and passed for citizenship in Equestria and the minotaur is the daughter of the shipyard master of Ledra. The only unknown we have is the ahuizotl, but we have no connection between her and the rest of them; in fact, the diamond dog lives in the East and neither the unicorn, bat pony, griffon or diamond dog has traveled outside of their distracts before today.”

“She is correct, Step,” Blazen Sun said, stroking his beard the entire length, his tell of uncertainty and due to his long tenure in office, the other Captains tended to listen to him. Of course, that tended to happen when you spent several years in a war zone with dragons and discovering you could in fact set a dragon on fire and cause one to explode. He had broken the dragon’s morale when he had killed Garble the dragon all those years ago and was the main reason why the dragons today did not dare attack Equestria. “What proof do we have for such accusations?”

“Turner has access to all sorts of information, including texts about revolutions and how a few toppled governments in the past which she had been cataloging recently. Blade is an accomplished swordspony that does not have any Guard training to the point he fights in the unicorn bracket of his tournaments and is strongly attached to Turner, more than likely to the point he would follow her in whatever course she takes. Tell me one Hatchery griffon that does not have issues with the government and I will have several bridges in North Canterlot to sell you. Rex is highly intelligent and an accomplished alchemist with a possible dangerous arsenal on his person. Vix-Lei is an admitted unknown but one does not travel all the way west from the Minos Islands for no reason and I do not believe she traveled here to entertain others without bothering to do the proper paperwork.” She took a breath, then continued.

“Xvital is the most suspicious of them all, as there is so little on her. The way she turned her body for the photographs when the police took them in for that fight last night indicates she was trying to shelter her identity, and my guards have interviewed several ponies celebrating the Honour festival near where she, Rex, Breaker and Vix-Lei were all attending the same inn and side by side no less. All of them reported that she avoided having her picture taken.” Gentle Step lit her horn and projected what the Guards gathered for her that was an overlay of the Western district. “This is where they were arrested and held for the night alone,” she tapped with her magic before tapping another place. “This is the former Museum of Victory. And this is the path they took to reach the museum.” She traced out a very complex pathway, with the Captains frowning at the twists and turns. “They met at least twice under suspicious situations and the latest one involved the arson as a means to cover their escape. In addition, after conducting a search of their residents in the hotel, Blade mansion and the Great Library produce odd documents indicating a connection.” She watched them open their folders to look at the nearly destroyed papers that had been found bearing each of their handwriting. “While they might not be the true leaders of this conspiracy, it is evident they are part of one or know of one that has plans to assassinate the king.”

There was a clutter of agreement from her Captains with the Magi Supreme speaking first. “So what is our approach?”

“Wanted posters for them alive and rewards for information on them,” Gentle said, with them giving her a curious look. “Alive will get them scared and running to their allies. Dead will put them on guard and has the potential of forcing them to fight back for their lives and have them get their taste for blood.”

“And if they are as dangerous as you suggest, we do not want them use to killing,” Blazen Sun said, narrowing his eyes and standing still. “Any indication to their current location?”

“They are in Canterlot West-North, heading to North properly,” her eyes flicked over to the unicorn charged with the protection of the Northern district and the farms beyond the city limits. “I have several Inspectors inbound there; if we can get just one of them to fold, we can get the other five. They have been told to do what they feel will get Breaker to turn on them and fulfill any promise they give him and your Guards are to support the Inspectors when they locate Breaker. If they do manage to get out of the North district or Middle Canterlot, we will double the Guard presence along the gatehouses and reconvene to go over our plans to contain them. As it stands now, I want half a squad’s worth back into all one hundred fifty six gatehouses as well as a team of engineers to inspect the walls to make sure there are no gaps. The Upper Canterlot Barrier to the summit and palace is barred to all those without proper paperwork and those we trust implicitly,” she watched her Captain nod at this. “Any questions?” They kept silent, telling her that they knew what was required of them and needed no further instructions. “Dismissed then,” she said, saluting them all, each of her Captains returning one back.

“Well, I guess I need to tell my Guards to stop celebrating and get back to work,” Sweet Surprise said, placing her helmet back on, with a grin on her face. The ghost white unicorn walked to the window and tipped her head. “Until later guys,” she said before jumping out of the window. A few seconds later, she flew past them on magically constructed bat pony wings with a laugh escaping her lips. Violet Lulamoon rolled her eyes, the pieces of her star speckled armour briefly clacking against each other as she simply teleported away. Standing Wall tilted her head downwards, focusing on her earth pony magic before the ground swallowed her whole and began to transport her to the Western district and showing that while there had been a rise in hollow ponies being born, there was an abundance of talented ponies being born as counterbalance.

“My, you youngsters and your exits,” Blazen chuckled, causing Gentle to raise an eyebrow. “You do simply do not know how to do it with style.” He then teleported away, with the afterimage of the holy sunburst hovering in the air. It was just bright enough to be annoying on the eyes and Gentle saw that he had burned the sigil of Equestria into the floor with the words Equestria pro rege, defendimus finem written around it.

She frowned at this, knowing it would take the cleaning crew hours to scrub it out. Her eyes flicked back up and waited several seconds before speaking to the last occupant of the room. They stepped forwards, bowing their head slightly. “And what are my orders?”

“As always, you are to act as my backup,” Gentle said. “I do not know their capability but if they are to escape the city limits, they will no doubt circle to the West. The North is too flat and well defended, the East will end with the sea and there is no chance they can get to the Minos Islands before my navy Guards can capture them. The South will lead them to the badlands and that leaves the most underdeveloped and unsettled West for them to flee. They have both the griffon lands and Cuanmiztl Kingdom to run and hide in but they wouldn’t dare harbor wanted criminals from us. So if they get out of the city, I want you and yours to capture them and bring them in.”

“Understood,” the other said, nodding its head. “Standard procedure?”

“Of course,” she answered. “These six threaten my city and I will not tolerate this. If they fail, you will not, understand?” She barked out, the figure opposite of her flinching before standing still.

“Your will be done,” was the reply before they vanished, leaving Gentle Step alone. She then walked over to the open window and looked down at her view of the entire city of Canterlot. This was hers and she would let nothing harm it.

Closing the window, she turned around and began to march to her office with so many things that needed to be seen to before it was too late.

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