• Published 26th Jan 2017
  • 4,585 Views, 732 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!

  • ...

Chapter 9 - Bridges to History

Standing on the sidelines of the field, Bonecrusher snorted. She idly gawked at Indar as he worked on his shield shapes with Princess Luna. “At least Captain Barrier would have me doing something to actually occupy my time,” she huffed and dug one of her lime forelegs into the dirt.

“Do you have something to add, Cadet?” the alicorn snapped. A magnificent silvery armor kit covered the diarch’s figure, and cobalt-hued swirls etched decorations upon the metal that resembled a post-impressionistic sky. Her horn illuminated, springing into existence a barrier with a profoundly sharp teal edge. “Understanding these forms will help you survive them later.”

More grumbles brewed in the earth pony’s throat. “Watching and doing are very different things, Your Highness.” The bitter words fell upon disengaged ears. Luna’s eyes had ventured to gaze beyond Crusher’s position, and the royal’s body leaned sideways to obtain a superior vantage point.

“Ms. Tail,” the princess chirped with surprise upon recognizing the newcomer, “I believe Captain Barrier put in for your leave of absence. Given your extended training session yesterday, and your encounter with Sir Trigger last night, you should be recovering.”

The mere mention of Trigger’s name pitched Bonecrusher’s coat upright. She tightened her jaw and puffed her cheeks after Tail fell in line at her side.

The pegasus peered at Luna with an atypically flat expression, completely disregarding the displayed annoyance Bonecrusher shared with the class. “My evening was enlightening, Princess.” Tail tightened her grasp on her posture, standing firmly at attention. “I appreciate the captain’s sentiment, but since I’m here, I’m working.”

“And Barrier?” Luna asked in an elevated pitch that betrayed her expectations for the captain.

The pegasus tensed and her wings firmly pinched against her sides. Her sights drifted towards Luna’s hooves, and after a moment of hesitation, Tail sighed. “That… I don’t think that’s really a conversation for the training field, Princess.”

Bonecrusher fired off another snort. “Of course it isn’t,” she said with a nasty, hushed bite. “I bet the two of you had a great time last night.”

Tail shuddered and flicked an ear to the grating whisper. She shut her eyes and took a deep breath while Luna observed. “Bonecrusher.” The alicorn’s tone made Tail flinch. “Make like the professor and learn proper classroom demeanor. Ms. Tail, we’ll speak privately once I finish up here. Why don’t you work on getting more flight time?”

“Yes ma’am, Princess.”

Luna stared intently, watching her little physicist unfurl her wings and take off. “What’s going through that head of yours, and why isn’t he here if you are?”

“Very good work on your polygons, Indar. I know holding edges is quite the challenge, but it makes for better control when deflecting inbound castfire.” Princess Luna glanced at Bonecrusher. “If you ever see this type of shield, you want to throw your strength at one of the ridgelines. Weaker unicorns will have problems keeping the form. This is why most raise barriers of the spherical variety.“

Crusher rolled her eyes and took a step towards Indar. “May I buck it now, Your Highness? I’ve been waiting to get my hooves into something ever since Teacher’s Pet showed up.”

Luna’s gaze briefly wandered to the pegasus who still flew laps overhead. “That’s no way to address your squadmate.” The earth pony cringed in disgust but held her tongue. “You have been patient enough, however, so yes, you may.”

Within a couple seconds, Bonecrusher cleared the multiple lengths between herself and Indar. She threw her forehoof against one of the edges of his shield, and a snarling growl shot from her muzzle as both her hoof and the magical construct violently reverberated from the blow. “Shit, bucking thing held.”

The unicorn quivered from behind his protective bubble. His horn glowed, and his body tensed while forced magical sparks accompanied a pained, lingering grimace. “No, Bonecrusher, that was a good strike. The strain is tangible. I’m at my limit already.”

Luna raised her hoof. “Then you’re both dismissed. Enjoy the rest of your evening. I have a pegasus to address.” She waited for the exhausted Indar and riled Bonecrusher to leave before calling Tail down with a wave and a shout.

Remaining silent, the smaller mare took her place before the regal alicorn. Her eyes watered as the numerous possibilities of what she could say to the princess piled upon her mind, yet nothing felt quite right. How could she possibly justify wounding her captain to the very one who had recommended him in the first place?

“Before you begin, Ms. Tail,” Luna quietly prodded, “are the training grounds appropriate now that the others are gone, or do we need to find a different location?”

For almost a minute, the mare’s thoughts continued to fester behind an apprehensive facade. Tail’s limbs trembled, and her lowered sights evasively darted over blades of grass until the lavender pegasus drew a sharp breath, lifted her head, and confessed. “I just don’t know what to do! We bonded last night. I had a moment where I was finally one of them. I carried his flank home because we had nowhere else to go. I took care of my captain. I earned some respect, but then, I hurt him. I brought up the discourse of war and asked him about Ember, Your Highness. I asked him, and it was like I lost all of our gained comradery.”

Luna pulled her head back such that her chin pressed against her breastplate. “You mentioned Ember? I could see your curiosity leading to a discussion regarding Magic’s misgivings towards Equestrian society, but getting to Ember? Your concern makes a lot more sense now. I’m surprised he even brought her up in the first place.”

“Well, he didn’t exactly bring it up in conversation,” Tail admitted. “He said her name a few times while he was passed out from Trigger’s drink, and I was surprised at how different he sounded when he said it. He always feels critical and professional, but in those seconds, he didn’t seem like Captain Barrier. He was just Magic Barrier. In the morning, he was—” The mare shuffled around. “He was a bright presence, Luna. I felt different seeing that side of him. It was like I had proved myself. My captain was more than a captain. He was my friend. He opened up and trusted me, but now…”

The princess raised her leg and slowly drew a circle as a sign for Tail to stay quiet. “I wouldn’t have expected him to be forthcoming on these subjects. You read his file. You know he’s experienced combat. There are burdens he carries that have long since hindered the Magic Barrier whose shadow you happened to glimpse.”

Through the developing pause, the pegasus found the nerve to speak again. “I think I’ve lost something important, Princess. The only thing I can do is learn more. I tried asking Trigger, but he wouldn’t tell me. He said that it wasn’t his business to say, but I don’t even know if I still have Barrier’s trust. Do I need to regain it? And how can I regain it without knowing more? When he walked out, he was cold and distant again. I need help to get beyond that.”

Buffeted breaths dribbled from Luna’s muzzle, and the solemn curves that sculpted her eyelids overwhelmed Tail with their projected sorrow. “I’m afraid I cannot help much here either. Many of the answers you seek are not mine to give, and even if they were, I would not. That path is yours to trot, and loathe as I am to admit it, telling you about Ember would put me on Barrier’s bad side. I cannot afford this, and neither can you, given your circumstances.

“It’s similar to your own secret and the reason why I did not divulge the details of your presence to Barrier or the members of your squad. Your story is yours to share with those you hold dear. However, I will say this. Ember was very important to him, and it is because of me that they will always be apart.”


Luna stepped away from the mare as a reserved expression graced her royal countenance. “I believe it is time for me to take my leave. These thoughts of old do not do well for me either, and I would rather not dwell on them for long. Just focus on your training for now. That is your mission to complete. I will talk with Barrier to ensure that he is fit to continue.”

Tail’s body drooped as the princess vanished into the palace. If anypony could have given her answers, it was Luna. Now she was truly alone. All she had managed to do was drag others down. She had stabbed Barrier with her stupid questions, and she had pushed Luna right into the clutches of sadness.

Prove to yourself that you’re right. Trigger’s words echoed in her mind.

She gulped and started running. She started running, and she refused to stop.

“You’ve been drinking.” Luna didn’t bother posing it as a question as she landed next to the brewery-scented unicorn. She had spotted him staring up at the night sky from a perch on the edge of a waterfall located just outside of Canterlot.

“No shit,” Barrier scoffed as he took another swallow from the clear bottle. “Get your sister and Twilight to figure that out for you?” He started to take another swig, only for the glass to be tugged away in a grasp of blue glowing magic.

“Yeuugh!” Luna actually recoiled as she sniffed the bottle. “What is this drink?” She hesitantly sipped it and immediately winced. “Vile, Barrier! This harsh brew pushes the limits of even my tolerance. A rare and terrible feat indeed.”

“Specialty my friend Punch makes.” Barrier’s magic retrieved the bottle and corked it. “Think she said something about cleaners and paint thinner.”

Luna retched upon receiving the additional information, yet she provided no further comment. Instead, she quietly sat next to the water’s edge and listened.

“I sometimes think about jumping, you know?” Barrier glanced at the glass as if he were considering another drink, but with a sigh, he chucked the poison to the pond waiting far below. “Even ran the numbers and clocked it. It’s a sixteen-second drop down, just long enough to reach terminal velocity.”

Luna held her silence.

“But we both know I can’t do that, don’t we? Celestia would never forgive me. I’d never forgive me. You… You probably wouldn’t even be upset with me.”

“I would not,” Luna admitted with a nod. “I do not have that right.”

“So—” Barrier fell onto his back. “I take it you’re here because of what transpired between Tail and me?”

Luna nodded once more.

“She’s… She’s so much like her.” His normal flask was freed through Barrier’s less-than-subtle magical persuasion, and the stallion quickly regretted tossing Punch’s drink. “She has that same attitude. That same—” Barrier stopped for a moment to gulp down the contents from the battered metal container. “That same fire in her eyes. Every time I see her running, I see Ember. Every time I hear her asking questions, the whisper of Ember’s voice is there.

“Why’d you ask me to train her, Luna?” The unicorn shifted from his sitting position to tiredly lay upon his side. “You had to know this would happen. You had to know that this is the way I’d feel. Why does Tail need it? Why are you putting her on the same path when you know that it’ll just end up the same way it does every time—with somepony dead? What are you hiding from me?”

“Mmm, she asked me for similar clarifications about you, and you will receive the same answer. Ms. Tail is responsible for her own path. She is the one responsible for sharing her own story, not me. One thing is clear, though. Tail is not Ember.”

“Nopony ever will be.” Barrier sadly tapped his horn. “Nobody will ever replace any of them.”

“Indeed, they were truly one of a kind, and you didn’t deserve to be pulled away from them so soon. There will never be enough apologies I can make to bring you comfort. I do not have the right to do that either.”

The captain yawned and weakly murmured as he put his container away. “Sorrow never suited you well. We both know what we carry. It’s probably for the best that my morning with Tail ended the way it did. I shouldn’t get close to my cadets, or I won’t be able to deal with it when I’m done with them, regardless of what their stories might be.”

The princess tilted her head and tipped one of her ear tips towards the unicorn. “I see. Does that mean that you’ll be back to business tomorrow? Entertaining as it is seeing them, I don’t think they view me in quite the same light as you.”

“Yeah, don’t worry. Today was a special circumstance. It’s a one-time thing. Well, until the anniversary anyways.” Barrier’s voice dropped several levels.

“Very well. I look forward to the results of your—” Luna was interrupted by a soft snore as Barrier drifted off to sleep. “Honestly,” she half-pouted as her horn came to life to lift the stallion. “Only you, Barrier. Only you.” Luna set off into Canterlot as the unicorn floated loosely in her magic.

Author's Note:

Four squees from Neon made it into this chapter. Though, given the sadpanda state we seem to find ourselves in on this one, I'm a little surprised that there were four. :rainbowlaugh: Sometimes, I'm just a mean writing Wingpone.

Anyhoo! That aside, props as always to friends and newcomers who've stopped in for a read and stuck it out this far! It means a lot to me that you're sticking with it. I can hear Sober's sobs of joy from the mattress of infinite gaming. He can just be adorable sometimes. :P Also, thanks again to the edit magic of Word Worthy and Iry. Iry actually announced his retirement from the task force today. He got through 15 chapters before the Oxford comma ate him. :P In actuality, he's back in the thick of schooldeath, so study hard, bro... study hard. ;)

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