• Published 15th Jul 2017
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The Black Sheep - Irrespective



How far are four Guards willing to go to ensure the safety of the Kingdom and the Crown?

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IV - Luna's Ascension

Luna was ready for this evening to be done and over with.

Her dream walking had gone well enough for the majority of the time. Nightmares had been dispatched, dreams tided up, and sound advice delivered to soothe aching hearts and troubled minds.

And then the ‘incident’ occurred.

It had taken the better part of two hours – after she had been yanked from the dream world in a rather rude way by the night shift guards – to take care of said incident.

She had first tried to figure out why one Pinkamina Diane Pie was in Canterlot and accosting a poor sentry. She then had to figure out how said Element of Laughter had gotten to Canterlot, and then she had to spend quite a bit of time figuring out what a ‘Pinkie Promise’ was and how the hapless sentry had been guilty of breaking one. Having dealt with all that, she then had to place the pink mare on an express train back to Ponyville – the explanation on why she couldn’t return the same way she’d came had made even less sense than everything else – and then check to make sure the sentry had received adequate medical attention.

It was one of the rare times she was actually looking forward to the Tantabus, since that would not try to rip apart reality like Pinkie Pie was so wantonly doing.

She slowly glided down to her balcony, inhaled deeply to try to clear out the steadily growing migraine headache, and then lighted her horn to gently lower her moon.

She then tapped a hoof idly as she waited for her sister to raise the sun and thus complete the daily ritual. Usually she would meet Celestia on her balcony to do this, but they both understood that if Luna did not come that meant it had been a long and taxing night and Celestia would let her rest with no questions asked.

A full twenty seconds passed, and Luna’s tapping intensified. What was keeping her? She really wanted this night to be done and over with.

At thirty eight seconds, Luna began grumbling. At fifty one seconds, Luna’s left eye had a quick spasm. At one minute precisely, she took off again and shot over to Celestia’s balcony. What in Equestria was holding her up?

“Celestia!” she shouted immediately upon landing. “Did you sleep through your alarm again? This night has ended most unpleasantly and I need…my…”

Her rant trailed off as she looked around the empty room. It took a moment for her mind to fully register the lack of a sister within, and her breathing began to quicken as the gravity of the situation began to weigh on her.

“Tia?” she called out softly. “This isn’t funny. Where are you? You need to raise the sun.”

She stopped at her sister's bed, the panic attack on the verge of erupting. She then noticed the note, and her magic shakily grabbed the paper and lifted it to her eyes.

It took only another moment for Luna’s magic to wrap around Celestia’s bedroom doors. They opened inward slowly, revealing two dead-asleep guards and four other guards who were poking their brothers-in-arms and calling for them to wake up. They snapped to attention as Luna slowly emerged, her steps unsure, her eyes on the floor and her breaths coming in short, rapid snorts.

“Princess Luna!” one guard gasped, vocalizing the thoughts of the rest. “What are you doing in there?”

“Gentlecolts?” her voice was barely above a whisper. “I believe we have a rather serious issue at hoof. C-could…” her voice hitched, and she had to take a moment to steady her nerves. “Could you find C-Captain Armor for me, p-please, and have him c-c-come h-here?”


Captain Shining Armor was having an absolutely miserable morning.

Why?

Because one of his squadrons had the audacity to actually be successful in pulling off The Black Sheep scenario.

He glanced up at the hourglass on the desk before him, quickly took note of the position of the sun in the sky – a sun that had been trembling as it had risen under Luna’s power – and then inhaled. The worst part of this whole thing was that even though The Princess had been foalnapped, there was still another Princess to answer to.

“Corporal, Sergeant.” He called out to the two guards by the main doors. “Please move fifteen feet to your left and right, respectively.”

The guards looked confused, but shrugged and then did as they were told. Shining again glanced at the hourglass, closed his eyes, and inhaled.

“Seven, six, five…” he muttered, and then finished the countdown in his head.

Precisely as zero entered his brain as not a number, the doors were seized in Luna’s magic, then flung open with such force that one broke a hinge at the top. Spider web cracks appeared in the walls from the impact and the two guards jumped another five feet sideways before realizing they had almost become pony paste.

“WHERE IS MINE SISTER?!” Luna demanded; her voice near Royal Canterlot Voice level as she stormed in.

“Hiding somewhere with earplugs, most likely.” Shining mumbled.

“WHAT DIDST THOU SAY?!” Luna roared. She crossed the room quickly and went snout-to-snout with the Captain. “THOU WOULDST DO WELL TO REMEMBER THAT THOU ART ADDRESSING THE MISTRESS OF THE MOON, AND I AM THIS CLOSE TO SENDING THINE BACKSIDE TO REST UPON IT!”

“Princess Luna, you need to calm down.” Shining replied firmly. “Shouting at me and smashing things isn’t going to bring Celestia back. I know for a fact your sister is safe and unharmed, and if you can relax for a moment I can explain what happened.”

Luna went from bristling with anger to deflated defeat in a heartbeat, and her gaze went to the floor in embarrassment. “My apologies, Captain. I am only concerned for the welfare of my sister.”

“I know, and I understand.”

“So what has happened to her?”

“Short answer is she’s been foalnapped by some of my guards. Long answer is…”

“Why would your guards steal my sister?” Luna interrupted. Her eyes met his again with concern and surprise. “And have you thrown them in the dungeon yet?”

“Answer to the second question is no, because I don’t know the names of who actually did it. We’re still working on that. First part goes back to my long answer: she was foalnapped because they were told to.”

Luna gave him a confused look but said nothing, so Shining continued. “Every year we run Mock Readiness and Deployment drills to test our operational abilities. Various scenarios and trainings are held when we do this, but every year one squad is tasked with foalnapping Celestia, to see how well she’s protected. It’s officially known as Scenario 55, but somewhere down the line it bacame known as The Black Sheep. For the last four hundred and eleven years, no pony has been able to breach the defenses and Celestia has been safe. Some pony finally figured out how to get to her this year.”

“How do you know for sure this is what happened?”

“Because of the note you found.” He replied, as his magic held it up. “If they are successful, the Sergeant in Charge is to leave a ‘ransom note’ that says what this one says: ‘Baa Ram Ewe.’”

“So, she is safe?”

“She is being watched over by, probably, the four best guards in the whole Corps right now.” Shining replied warmly, and he even dared a smile. “Any Guard who can foalnap your sister is also going to be able to keep her safe from pretty much any threat. Plus, all she has to do is tell them to release her and they will. They’re still bound to serve her. And, as the cherry on the cake, we are talking about Princess Celestia. If she does happen to run into something that is bad in reality, I think her wit and her magic will get her out of it. In all honesty, she’s probably trying to talk her way out of her captivity now.”

“All right.” Luna sighed. “So what do we do now, just wait for her to return?”

“Well, no. We have to try to find her now.”

“We?”

“We as in the guard, but you’re more than welcome to help. Scenario 55 has two components: foalnap the princess and recover the princess. We’re treating this like it was a real foalnapping, so now the challenge is for us to figure out where she is and ‘save’ her. I’ve got ponies working on various leads now, but until we find her you are in charge.”

“I am?” Luna asked, and Shining nodded. Luna then started to say something but bit it off with an audible click as a thought entered her head. She mulled it over, and a small smile now appeared.

“I am in charge?” she repeated.

“Totally and completely. We will answer to you.”

“So, instead of pulling my Nightmare Moon stunt, you’re saying all I had to do was arrange for my sister to be foalnapped?”

“Let’s not get too crazy.” Shining smiled. “Scenario 55 was invented six hundred odd years ago, so it wasn’t in play when you were banished.”

“Parasprite pox.” She muttered, but the smile didn’t wane. “Very well. My first order then is to call up Princess Mi Amore Cadenza to take over my duties while I assume my sister’s during the duration of this ‘crisis.’ Where is she?”

“Asleep in our suite still. Corporal Melon, will you go summon her please?”

“Make sure my wife gets my life insurance and pension.” He remarked, but then he left to do as told.

“Now, what leads are you working on, Captain?”

“We’re trying to determine the origin of the note. I’ve also got Lt. Daisy Chain and Lt. Stone Spring interviewing everypony who was on duty last night to see if somepony saw or heard anything. We’re also trying to wake up the guards who were knocked out last night, they might have some intel we can use.”

“Do we know how Celestia was taken?”

“No, not yet. My working hypothesis is that the Guards were taken out with a sleeping spell or something like that. They probably used the same thing on your sister. I’m also willing to bet bits to barley that there were pegasi in the squad that got her, there’s no way they could drag your sister through the hallways without somepony noticing. Pinkie Pie’s arrival was nothing more than a diversion; it distracted the Pegasus guards and allowed them to fly her out.”

“That does make sense.”

“I’m going to take hoofwriting samples as well and compare them to the ransom note. If I get a match then that’s a quick way to end this. I’ve also sent patrols out into Canterlot, they’ll be keeping an extra eye out for anything strange.”

“Won’t that cause some undue alarm amongst the populace?”

“It will, yes.” He sighed. “So that does mean that either you or I will need to issue some kind of statement about what has happened. I have a press release ready to go, and I planned on making the announcement myself unless you’d like to.”

“No. It would be best for you do to so. It will be more convincing if Captain Shining Armor, hero of the Changeling Invasion, tells everypony not to fear.”

“All right. As soon as we get Cady up to speed I’ll make the announcement.”

“Is there anything else I can assist with?”

“Perhaps.” Shining tapped a hoof to his chin for a moment. “Do you have any way of reaching out to Celestia? Some sort of magical or psychic sister connection you can utilize?”

“I can search for her in the dreamscape.” Luna replied, after thinking a moment. “But it would be difficult to find her unless she is having a nightmare. There is also the possibility of…well. That is a long chance.”

“What?” Shining pressed.

“I will need to do some research first. I do not know if I can work the spell; it has been over a millennia after all.”

“All right. Look into it, please, and let me know if you can work it.”

“Announcing Princess Mi Amore Cadenza.” The Sergeant by the door announced.

Both Luna and Shining turned to face her, and then both had to stifle a laugh. Cadence had the worst case of bed head they had ever seen, the whole of it looked like a small flock of birds had taken up residence and set out a mailbox somewhere. Her eyes were only half open, and she offered a huge yawn as she entered the room.

“Shining?” she said over the top of her yawn. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing too bad, my dear.” He cooed, as they nuzzled each other and she yawned again. “I just need you to take over Luna’s duties while we find out who foalnapped Celestia.”

Cadence’s eyes popped wide open with this. “Auntie Celestia? What’s happened to her?!”


Private Light Hooves was never happier to guard corridor J-12 in his entire career as he was right now.

Given the late night he had endured and the manic nature of it, this simple duty gave him the chance to rest and to recover, and to steel himself. Having actually pulled off the Black Sheep meant that, eventually, Captain Armor was going to interrogate him to see if he was involved. He wanted to make sure that he didn’t cave.

The alibi was easy enough to maintain: he and his Sick had gone home and stayed home for the evening, and the two pegasi had flown to Ponyville as part of their official em-rad assignment: checking the total flight time to and from the Elements of Harmony. They had been clocked leaving Canterlot, doubled back undetected to foalnap Celestia, then reversed and flown back in the average time. No one was the wiser, and it made it easy to keep the details straight.

Hooves was also happy that Sgt. Pokey was with him, as he was allowing short breaks to rest eyelids. After the events of last night, he needed the rest just to make sure he wouldn’t get caught napping and thus blow his cover.

“Doing all right over there, Private?”

“I’m fine, Sir.” He replied. “Though I do appreciate you not busting my chops over my fifteen second ‘breaks.’”

“I see nothing.” He replied, but gave him a wink. “Besides, it’s understandable. I’d give you leave for successfully completing your mission normally.”

“Do you really think we have Celestia secure?” he asked softly.

Pokey decided quickly it wasn’t worth calling Hooves out on his breech of protocols today either. “She is. I’ve had time to prepare everything, don’t worry. She won’t get loose. I’d be surprised if she’s even awake by the time we get off.”

“I really wasn’t trying to shove that up her nose.”

“I know.” He chuckled slightly. “But it worked. It’ll make for a good story when all this is over; and I’d bet bits to barley that even Celestia will laugh about it later.”

“I hope so. Otherwise I hear the moon is a popular travel destination for convicts.”

“Nah. She’d just send you to guard the Everfree for the rest of your life if she was going to punish you.”

“Oh, great.” Hooves moaned. “That’s so much better.”

“You think that’s bad? Imagine what she’ll do to me as your Sick.”

“I’d rather not.” Hooves shuddered.

“In all honesty, I’m sure Celestia will understand. As our General, she knows about em-rads and about the Black Sheep. She might not be too pleased about our methods, but she will respect why we did it, and we won’t be punished. We were just following orders, after all."

“That’s true. Do you think Corporal Wing and Private Clover are holding up all right?”
“They are. I was able to get them a 24-hour leave since they did ‘complete’ a mission. They’ll be good and rested for tomorrow.”

Hooves nodded, but then said nothing more. Pokey said nothing more as well, but a small smile did play out as he heard a soft snore coming from his subordinate after a brief moment.

Author's Note:

Told you I'd tell you about em-rad:moustache: