• Published 26th Jan 2017
  • 11,544 Views, 763 Comments

No Longer Displaced - NoLongerSober

Sass, science, and surviving basic! That seems like the perfect formula for a pegasus professor out of her element, a gruff captain 1,000 years from home, and a clever princess who has probably read too many romance novels. There are pancakes, too!

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Chapter 1 - I Can't Quit, Captain!

Author's Note:

And so it begins! Because Tail demanded that Wing + Sober write something, and Barrier really had no say in the matter… Mares! Wing here, welcoming you to this collaborative front. Sit back, grab a Pibb (or favorite beverage of your choice), and enjoy the show. Heck, you can even kick back and listen to the theme song, too. No Longer Displaced Musics! Thanks for reading!

For reference, this chapter scored a total of 4 squee~s on the Neon High-Pitched Accolade Index (NHPA for short)

Tail’s ears rested firmly against her skull as two giants squared off and stared each other down. Giant was not an exaggerative term. The Princess of the Night loosely fit the definition by size comparison, and most definitely did in terms of her stature, while the other pony carried a wholly unique history to his name—in addition to being noticeably larger than the average stallion.

“She’s a doctor.” The stallion peered flatly at his adversary. “You’re out of your damned mind, Luna.”

The princess’s eye twitched slightly, but she did not reply.

“What were you thinking, calling me all the way to the castle for this?” He thrust out a charcoal-furred leg and motioned vaguely in the direction of the jittery pegasus, whose nervous frown went unobserved by the magic wielders. “She doesn’t look like she’s trained a day in her life and you want me to take her on as a cadet?”

“Not in the most conventional sense, but yes.” Luna’s tone remained level, her teal eyes never breaking from the icy blues of the unicorn. “Besides, it’s not like you had anything better to do.”

“No,” Barrier stated simply and turned towards the door to leave. “I’m not training any more ponies. Not after last time.”

“Asking you was a formality, Captain.” Luna lifted her formerly level voice by several decibels and gave it a hard edge; it was a side of her very few ponies saw in the modern age.

“Excuse me?” Barrier turned to face her once again, his two-tone blue mane cutting through the air as he did so. “I don’t take orders from you, Luna.” Like the princess, his tone took on an equally hard edge, almost seeming to dare her to continue the argument.

Princess Luna!” The larger mare closed the gap as a dangerous glint formed in her eyes. “You will show me the respect due to my station, Captain. You owe me that much.”

“I don’t owe you a damned thing!” The unicorn’s volume spiked, alerting the guards standing outside of the room as he too stalked forward. “I paid my debt to both you and your sister! Faust-damn it, I gave everything for both of you, and you would demand more!?”

Tail found herself backpedaling, her chocolate-brown eyes shifting nervously as she watched the two juggernauts come nearly muzzle-to-muzzle. Even from across the room, she could feel the raw magic that steadily began to form around the pair as both of them seemed to prepare for the worst. This was not what she had wanted at all.

“Try it,” the lunar diarch threatened.

Barrier’s muzzle drew back into a snarl, and his charcoal-grey coat seemed to stand on end—likely charged with magic. “Don’t tempt me. You know damned well who taught me and what I can do when pushed.”

“Aye, We are aware. We are also aware you spent the first ten months of your return studying how to fell an alicorn, much in the same manner as your mentor.” Instead of fashioning a similar expression, Luna allowed a smug smile to settle upon her face.

“Aye, and as it turns out, there are several methods to do so.” Barrier’s snarl slowly faded to a grimace. “Why would you ask me to train this pony, Luna? What could possibly necessitate the need for this mare to gain my expertise? She’s not a soldier. She’s not even a guard!”

“There will be a time and a place for that, Barrier, but it is neither now nor here. I have my reasons. There is a use for the doctor, but that is not really what is important when it comes to you. You and I both know you won’t say no to me. We both know you can’t say no to me. You wouldn’t have come otherwise.” Luna’s tone was almost singsong.

Barrier groaned and fell back onto his haunches, his forehooves finding their way to his temples. “By Zacherle, you are absolutely insufferable.”

Tail’s eyes narrowed in confusion at the sudden and unnatural shift in tone between the two, but she maintained her silence, as Luna had instructed her to do.

“So then, you’ll do it?” The princess couldn’t grin any wider when Barrier’s eyes shifted and settled distastefully on the third wheel of the situation.

“What’s your name, pegasus?” the unicorn asked harshly.

Out of all of the possible first impressions that she had gone over in her head, that entire engagement had made even her worst-case scenario appear harmonious. She should have never agreed to Princess Luna arranging anything. It would have been better if she had just said it herself. “Tail, Captain. My name is Tail.”

Barrier snorted and threw his gaze back to the princess. “A few things before I agree to anything. Firstly, if she dies because of my course, I take no responsibility for it.”

Tail’s eyes widened considerably, though no other pony had noticed the developed look of disbelief.

“Secondly, I’m charging you and your sister out the flank if I’m going to be training again. I haven’t been in the Equestrian military since shortly after my return, so this is an external job that demands the pay. Also, I will go at my own pace and set my own schedules, as well as those of my cadet.” The stallion waited for a nod before continuing, “And finally, I reserve the right to send this filly packing if I don’t think she’ll measure up.”

“We can agree to all of those stipulations, if you’ll allow us one of our own. We want you to take two other ponies, in addition to her.”

The unicorn’s eyes narrowed and his grimace returned. “You know how I feel about training cadets, Luna.”

“I’m aware, but since you’re already here, we might as well make the most of you.” Luna waited for a response; when she received none, she nodded once more. “Welcome back, Captain. Your ponies will be waiting on the field within the hour.”

“So, uh…” Tail glanced meekly at the two of them, and she almost squeaked when both of their gazes rapidly snapped to her; perhaps most frightening of all was the ominous half-grin that now sat on the captain’s muzzle.

Only the sounds of steady hooves accompanied the two ponies as they trotted from Luna’s chamber. Tail swallowed hard, the unrelenting quiet nagging her to the core. She yearned to communicate—to establish some rapport—but the rules of academia did not hold weight here. These ponies survived on an entirely different code, and at times, survival appeared to be the heaviest burden of all.

Barrier’s file had been marred by tragedy, and Tail had clung to every single word from those archives. Her review had started nearly three weeks ago, and while the process took time to complete, she knew immediately that she needed him. She also realized that this step would be difficult. There were facets and variables in those pages that she had no chance of constraining, for they seemed surreal.

On top of that, tradition lingered with its prowling form. Tail expected the rough stuff and bitter treatment, yet there were proper times and places for everything. She had approached this engagement with nothing but respect for his guard pride and experience, and she implicitly understood that she had done nothing to earn his respect.

However, she had done nothing to earn his disrespect either. She had done nothing to earn the cold shoulder. “I’m sorry things got off on the wrong hoof, Captain Barrier,” she finally spoke up. “I appreciate you taking the time to do this. I know it’s unusual.”

The unicorn turned and gave the mare an unwavering stare along with a moment of silence before he opened his mouth to reply, “Don’t apologize. Not your fault Luna’s being an insufferable brat. Always with the vague agendas—” The stallion scoffed and began to walk down the hall once more, speaking as he went. “And I don’t think you’ll appreciate me for long. I’m going to ride you, and whomever the hell else Luna sends to me, absolutely ragged. It’s gonna be my job to make you want to quit.”

The stallion stopped again, turning and locking eyes with the smaller mare. “Tomorrow when we’re on the field, you’re not a mare. You’re not a doctor. You’re not a civilian. You’re my cadet, and I plan on breaking you.” His voice was hard and a cocky grin had settled upon his face. “Ready yourself, Tail. For the next few months, life as you know it is over.”

Her wings shifted to his words as each one was absorbed and processed. Towering before her thoughts was that wall of tradition. He had just blatantly promised to terminate her existence as she knew it. Yet even stacked against the unicorn’s edgy facade, a spark of dedication remained. This was her punishment for tinkering with things best left untouched. She had to make sure. “I can’t quit, Captain.”

Barrier’s expression did not shift as he spun his flank to the mare and resumed his trot. With each step, her simple statement gradually stretched his presented smirk into a genuine smile, one that he would not dare let her see.

“These are the ponies I’m supposed to train?” Barrier spoke to himself more than to the others, making no effort to hide the disappointment in his voice. “Zacherle above, Luna has a sense of humor.”

Wisely, none of the ponies spoke up.

“Get in line with the others, filly.” Barrier cracked his neck as Tail moved to follow the order, her eyes briefly scanning her squadmates en route. “I assume you all know why you’re here?”

He was answered with three simultaneous nods.


Barrier carefully circled the three, sizing them up and committing their appearances to memory.

First up was the reason he was in this mess: Tail. The pegasus mare came up to just beneath his chin and was covered in a smooth, well-groomed lavender coat. Her long black mane and namesake draped over her figure, though it was the heart-shaped atom on either side of her flank that Barrier made sure to remember.

Directly to Tail’s right was the earth pony of the group, a towering lime-green mare with a slightly lighter lime-yellow mane. She was nearly as tall as he was. Rather than staring at him, she seemed to be looking at Tail with a general distaste; Barrier paid it no mind—for the time being.

On the far end was the last of his new trainees, a fairly regular-sized unicorn with a coat the color of sun-baked ground, and a harsh, sunny mane. Perhaps the most normal of the three, he was standing at attention and had his umber gaze fixated firmly on his new C.O. Barrier waged that he had been in the guard the longest.

“If you want to back out of my training, this is your only opportunity. Once this starts, you either succeed, or you get crushed. Ponies die when the unfit break in the middle of a battle. There’s no backing out then, not without consequence.”

Barrier gave the group twenty seconds to allow the words to sink in. When none of them protested, he clicked his tongue. “Alright then. Take today and tomorrow off to get your affairs in order. From zero-five-thirty to nineteen-hundred, for the next couple months, your flanks belong to me. Eat a good breakfast because in two days you’ll all report here in full armor.” At the silent acceptance of the ponies, Barrier dropped his hoof loudly to the ground. “Dismissed!”

Rather quickly, two of the cadets left, disappearing into the bowels of the castle.

“You’re still here,” Barrier addressed Tail flatly.

Tail’s chin drooped and her neck tightened. She swallowed hard, as if she were clearing a lump in her throat, before a quiet cough quickly followed. “Yes, sir.”


Tail shrunk back slightly and dug her hooves into the turf. “I don’t have armor, sir.”

Barrier closed his eyes and took a deep breath before slowly exhaling it. “Captain Armor should be in his office at this time. Tell him that I sent you and that you need to find a suit that’ll fit. If you make it through to the end, we can see about getting something custom-fit.” When the mare responded with only a timid bob of the head, Barrier reiterated himself. “Dismissed.”

Tail retreated into the walls of the palace proper. The civilian in her craved something more than the curt orders and apathetic tones. She had already made it clear that she could not quit. It was not a lie. Yes, she was out of her element, but he did not have to make it a matter of if. She would not let them take it from her.

Her tail aggressively cut through the air as she allowed the notion to stab at her mind. “I’m not a bucking quitter,” she whispered with a harsh grit to the empty hallway. She clenched her jaw and huffed as her heart pushed a burning pulse. “I’m going to hold him to that fitting.”

The pegasus promptly ground her march to a halt. Her wings snapped open once she realized that her muffled tirade had terminated right in front of Captain Armor’s office. Her feathers ruffled while she raised her hoof to knock. “I really hope he didn’t hear that…”

“Enter,” a dull voice commanded while Tail’s hoof was still mid-stride. A blue shimmer of magic cradled the entire door, and moments later, the wooden planks swung to the side.

“Uh,” Tail began awkwardly at first before Shining Armor raised a hoof, silencing her.

“One moment,” the snow-colored unicorn stated as he finished scrawling and stamping things at the bottom of a piece of parchment. When he glanced up, he gave Tail a smile. “Right, how can I help you, Miss…?”

“Ah, Tail,” she introduced herself and returned his smile with one of her own. Already, the stallion seemed infinitely more approachable than his fellow captain.

Shining Armor folded his hooves on his desk. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Tail. Now, how can I—” The guard stopped. His pupils dilated slightly as he sharply sucked in some air. The pause held, and he gave the seemingly soft mare in front of him what appeared to be a once-over.

“So, you’re the one Captain Barrier is training? The one with the program?”

Tail nodded. “He—um—he told me to talk to you about getting a suit of armor.”

“Sorry to hear that. That course is gonna be rough,” Shining said in a genuinely apologetic tone before tugging a drawer open and withdrawing a piece of paper from within. With well-practiced movements, he quickly filled in the form before passing the requisition order to Tail. “Take this to the Quartermaster and he’ll see that you’re outfitted as best as you can be.”

Tail donned an apprehensive smile before she tucked the form under a wing. “Thank you, sir.”

“And uh…” Shining Armor’s voice stopped Tail as she made to leave. “Good luck. With my grandfather, that is. You’re gonna need it.”

Tail flicked an ear downward in the wake of the ominous warning, and the fur at the back of her neck stood upright. “I’ll be sure to remember that, Captain.” Her voice trailed off before a sudden squeak sent her feathers sprawling. “He’s your grandfather!? How the heck does that work? He doesn’t look that much older than you.”

Shining could not contain his boisterous laughter. “Not quite, but that’s a long story for a different time, Miss Tail.”