• 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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V - Terms and Conditions

Celestia was having a miserable day.

She had just realized this after regaining consciousness, and the headache that threatened to split her skull in half like a ripe coconut reinforced the notion.

She groaned, inhaled, and then mentally began working backwards to figure out what had happened to her. She remembered reading over the new budget – a rather boring and uninspired thing that plagiarized horribly from last year’s – and then she remembered deciding to close her eyes for just a few moments to take a break from the legal jargon that threatened to make her go cross-eyed. She then remembered hearing a faint click sound, and then some kind of assault.

That’s were things got a little fuzzy, but she remembered the pain quite well.

She also remembered that something had been rammed up her left nostril.

It felt as dry as the surface of her sun up there.

She groaned a bit as she tried to move, with the realization that she was laying on her left side. Her forehoof moved only a fraction until it hit some kind of restriction and she heard chains clinking and rattling together.

Had she been foalnapped?

She tried moving a rear hoof, but the same result occurred. The chains caught and checked her movement pretty quickly, she could move it enough to stand possibly but not much more than that.

An attempt at spreading her wings was met with similar restrictions. Something held them tightly to her sides, they would not move in any direction no matter how she flexed.

Well, she thought, I’m done playing nice now.

It was a noble statement, but playing rough didn’t help her any. As soon as she flared her magic, it was violently rammed back into her skull, and she imagined for a brief moment the sensation she had just felt was what a wedge felt like when it was being driven in by a sledgehammer.

“I would advise against the use of magic, your majesty.”

Celestia turned her head to try and see her captor in the darkness, and she intended to say ‘who are you?’, but it was just then she discovered she had been muzzled, so the words came out more along the lines of “moo er oo?”

“Sergeant Pokey, your Highness.” Came the reply. Apparently the Sergeant had understood her. “40th Squad, under Lt. Daisy Chain. I am the Sergeant in Charge of the Black Sheep squad that foalnapped you.”

“Ol-apped ee?”

“Yes. I apologize for the rough handling, but we had to do it. We were under orders to make the scenario as realistic as possible.”

“Ere m eye?”

“In a safehouse, but still within the bounds of Canterlot.” He replied. “Being a good foalnapper, I’m afraid I can’t tell you exactly where.”

“N nee estnints?”

“You would have blasted us to the moon by now without them.” He replied. “Or flown away. Again, we’re striving for realism here.”

“Eleese ee iss nstnt.”

“If that is what you wish, then I will.” He replied, and she heard hoofsteps coming towards her. “However, before I do, I would like to ask you to consider something.”

“Eye nn’t eel ike isening.”

“I know, but hear me out all the same. Scenario 55 hasn’t been successful in over four hundred and eleven years, right?”

Celestia didn’t reply, but glared towards where the voice was emanating from in the darkness.

“So, it stands to reason that the protocols to find you are also four hundred eleven years old. If this was a real foalnapping, how long would it take the Guard to find you using those protocols?”

He had a point, and that was infuriating. Celestia’s glare softened a little.

“If we keep you here, then the methods undertaken by Captain Armor and your Sister can become the new standard. If this unthinkable thing should ever happen again, there will be clear guidelines on how to find and rescue you.”

“Eye nn’t wnt oo ee ike iss oo ouw.”

“I realize that. I wouldn’t like being tied up the way you are either. But if I release even one of your bonds, you’ll do everything to break free, will you not?”

She would. Celestia grumbled again, shuffled her hooves, and sighed. This irksome Sergeant was making some good points.

“Sarge? You down here?”

“I am. Come on down. The Princess just woke up.”

“And you’re not a pile of ash yet?” the female voice replied. “Wow. I didn’t think the suppressor ring could hold back Celestia’s magic.”

“This particular one can.” He replied, and Celestia focused. Two, no. Three sets of hooves descended a flight of stairs, then took a few steps into whatever room she was in. Celestia then became aware of a slowly increasing light, just slow enough to let her eyes adjust without hurting them.

“Is she all right?” a second female now asked.

“Mostly. She’s not yet told me how she feels, but I’m imagining a rather large headache, sore muscles, and a dry nostril from the pellet. Did I miss anything in that, your Majesty?”

“Eye ngs ert.”

“What?” a male now asked. “What’d she say?”

“Her wings hurt. That’s to be expected too.”

“Well, we can’t leave her like that.” The first female replied. The light had come up in the room enough to allow Celestia to see the four guards in the room with her now, and she rolled up and over until she was in a sitting position.

“Your highness, the rest of the 40th Squad. This is Corporal Light Wing, Private Clover Leaf, and Private Light Hooves.”

“Ice oo eet oo.”

“What?” Hooves asked again.

“She said it’s nice to meet you.” Clover replied, as her wing cuffed Hooves over the head.

“We were just discussing her captivity before you came down.” Sgt. Pokey continued. “Obviously, she does not wish to remain bound, but if we release her then the mission will be over. I’m not sure what else we can do at this point.”

Celestia knew that tone, she’d used it herself a million times. She knew that he knew of a way, and he was trying to get her to think of it. Her mind began to work, going back and moving through the synapses in an effort to find something to help her. It only took a moment, and then she smiled.

“Eye es n popinition.”

“Oh?” Pokey replied.

“Ut eye eed iss akn ff.”

“But you’ll scream.” Hooves noted astutely.

“Nuh uh.” She shook her head. “Ust Ee. Eye iv oo eye Olmn Oth at eye ill ot eem. Eye ill eek et eh olum eye em eekng et ouw.”

“Translation please?”

“You are hopeless, Hooves.” Clover laughed. “She said she’ll speak at the volume that she’s speaking at now, and she gave her word that she won’t go any louder.”

“What good is her word?” Wing asked, but that question got a withering glare from the Sarge.

“It’s more than her word. She has offered her Solemn Oath. Take the muzzle off, Wing.”

Wing looked a bit flabbergasted, but she did as she was told. Celestia dipped her head softly to allow Wing to reach without flying, and then she worked her jaw for a moment as Wing retreated.

“Thank you.” She finally said. “That feels much better. I must admit, I am finding this whole experience to be quite novel. I’ve never been properly foalnapped before.”

“No?” Hooves asked, and Celestia smiled as she shook her head.

“No, my little pony. Four hundred eleven years ago, an intrepid group managed to break into my personal chambers, but I wasn’t there at the time. The Black Sheep scenario was declared a success, though, since they had gotten that far. None have actually managed to get me out of the palace.”

“Oh.” Hooves replied, as he somehow went pale. “Oh.”

Celestia’s head cocked to the right. “Are you all right, Private Hooves?”

“We’re so dead.” He said, as he stumbled back a step and began to tremble. “So, so dead.”

“Hold it, Hooves.” Pokey stepped in. “No one is dead. We had been given orders to do this, so we have nothing to be punished for.”

“That is correct.” Celestia smiled. “You and your fellow squad members have done nothing wrong. Though, I would like to know who shoved that sleeping pellet up my nose.”

“I am so dead.” Hooves whispered, and he went even paler.

“Oh, so that was you?” Celestia giggled. “A very ingenious move, I must say. That was probably the only thing that saved you from certain destruction.”

“It was?” he asked, though he looked like he was going to lose his lunch.

“Indeed yes. Let’s see. I believe I caught Sgt. Pokey with my wing, so he was unable to continue the assault against me. Cpl. Light Wing and Pvt. Clover Leaf were unable to press any sort of advantage. Given another thirty seconds, I believe I could have raised a sufficient ruckus to gain the attention of the Pegasi patrol.”

“She really would have.” Pokey replied.

“Please, Private. You really have nothing to fear from me. I will not prosecute you, and anyone who does try to will face my wrath.”

Hooves had a little color return to him, but not much.

“Now, before we go any further, may I ask some questions?”

“You may, but we are under no obligation to answer.” Pokey replied.

“Very well. How long have I been out?”

“You are approaching twenty hours.”

“That long, really?” she sounded impressed. “My. I don’t remember the last time I slept that long. How is my sister handling my disappearance?”

“As well as can be expected. She is working with Captain Shining Armor to discover your whereabouts.”

“And the citizens of Equestria?”

“Have been told that you are taking part of a military exercise that requires your absence. The overall feeling I have heard is one of amusement and wonder that you would participate in such things.”

“Good.” She replied. “I would demand my release if there was a panic, but if everypony is all right then perhaps I can stay here. I am curious to see how long it takes to find me, I admit.

“Now, I believe we should discuss my captivity.” Celestia continued. “I would rather not be bound and chained for the entire time I am being searched for. Perhaps we can make some other sort of arrangement?”

“What would you suggest?” Pokey asked.

“Let’s start with what you want.” Celestia replied. “You are the foalnappers here.”

“Our orders are to make this as realistic as possible.” Pokey replied, his tone going to no-nonsense. “So, whatever we do needs to retain the element of you being bound and unable to act. As a proper foalnapper, there is no way me or my partners in crime would allow you to be free of any of your restraints. Whatever arrangements we come to must include your captivity.”

“I believe we can accomplish that.” Celestia replied. “I propose that I offer you another Solemn Oath: That I will not make any attempt to escape from this room. I not use magic, flight, or sound to aid me in any way, and I will only attempt to flee if you allow me an opening that would naturally occur.”

“Question.” Hooves stuck a hoof in the air. “What is a Solemn Oath?”

“A Solemn Oath, Private, is Celestia’s word made law.” Pokey replied, before she could. “Once she has given it, it cannot be rescinded, revoked, or removed by any means. She will be bound to her word.”

“All because she says she’ll do what she says she’ll do?” Wing asked.

“What does a pony have if they don’t have their word?” Celestia asked.

“Very little indeed.” Pokey replied. “If you are willing to make such an oath, Princess, then I will accept it as equal to your captivity. Corporal, Privates? Will you accept her Oath?”

Celestia sat up straight again and somehow looked even more regal than she had before. “Before you do my little ponies, let me make my Solemn Oath official. I, Celestia, Princess of Equestria, Sovereign of the Sun, will not make any escape attempt from this room until permitted to do so by the Royal Guards who have captured me. I will not use my magic, I will not use my wings, and I will not use my voice in any way that will reveal my location or aid in any type of escape attempt. In exchange, the four royal guards who do now witness this Oath agree to free me from my physical restraints and to allow me free access to this room I am presently in, and any future part of this safe house they deem I may travel to, and to keep me safe and uninjured. This is my Solemn Oath.”

No one replied to that. There was energy in the room at that moment; a power unlike any besides Celestia had ever felt before. Indeed, the four guards even noticed that Celestia seemed to be glowing slightly, as if the sun had entered into her soul as was now radiating out from her. There was a shared glance between the four, but it only took that glance to know what their decision was.

“Princess Celestia, as the Sergeant in Charge of the 40th Squad and in their behalf, I accept your Solemn Oath. Let it be as you have said: as you are bound to your word, we are bound to ours.”

An even larger rush of energy pulsed through the room. There was no doubt in anypony’s mind now: Celestia was bound to her word. It almost felt like the very fiber of existence had been tapped into and then modified, and the overall feeling of complete obedience to what had been agreed to was undeniable.

“Thank you.” Celestia said, with a broad smile.

“Corporal, remove the shackles, please.” Pokey ordered. “Pvt. Clover, remove the wing restraints.”

Both did as instructed, and Celesta took a moment to stand and stretch as she did so. Her wingtips brushed the ceiling above her, but then they settled in at her sides and she smiled warmly.

“Aren’t we forgetting the suppressor ring?” Hooves asked.

“Please leave it.” Celestia replied. “It will be much easier for me to remain true to my Oath with it on. My magic can be traced if I use it in any way.”

“Oh.”

“Now, would you all do me the favor of telling me how you managed to pull off the greatest heist in the history of Equestria?” Celestia asked, with a bit of mischievousness. “I am dying to know how you got into my room.”


“How do you know about Solemn Oaths?” Celestia asked.

Pokey chuckled a bit. His subordinates had been dismissed for the evening, leaving him to ‘guard’ the princess. He was standing near the stairway and Celestia had remained near the middle of the room, which turned out to be a smaller place that what she initially thought. She had the impression she was in somepony’s basement instead of a warehouse or commercial space, but then she had put that aside and had a nice conversation with all four guards over the past hour.

“I’m a bit of an oddity, your Highness.” He replied. “I’ve always enjoyed studying ancient Equestrian history. I learned about Solemn Oaths while reading something about Windingos once, but I don’t remember the exact name of the text.”

“I see.” She replied. There was a hint that he was holding back, but Celestia decided not to press him about it. “Another question, if I may.”

“Please.”

“What are you true motivations in my foalnapping?”

“What do you mean?” he replied. “I am following orders, nothing more.”

“So you keep saying.” She replied. “Yet the point that I was not sufficiently guarded was made the moment you entered my quarters. It feels like by taking the extra step to actually foalnap me, you are trying to make some sort of point, especially given the obvious amount of planning you put in to the execution of this plan. It would have taken you months to figure out how to remove me.”

Pokey hesitated for a moment, his thoughts obviously being sorted out. There was a brief moment of confusion drawn in his features, as if he hadn’t expected her to realize all this; but then that changed over to a posture of slight defiance.

“Personal considerations should never be mixed with one’s orders.” He replied. “I may have my own opinions, but they are not important to the primary task I was assigned to.”

“You’re not going to give me a straight answer then, are you?”

“I’ve given as straight an answer as I can give.”

Celestia sighed. “Very well. I suppose I have some time to figure out what your true intents are, and why you did all this.”

“You’re welcome to guess all you want.” He replied. “However, I’m afraid I must beg my leave now, as I do have some reports to fill out before tomorrow.”

“One thing before you go: I would like to ask for an amendment to my Solemn Oath, if I may.”

“What sort of an amendment?”

“I wish to contact Luna. Mind you, this is only to reassure her that I am well and that she need not worry about me. She’s as old as me, but yet she still worries like a foal sometimes.” Celestia chuckled lightly. “She nearly tore down the North Wing of the palace the first time I overslept my alarm after she returned.”

“I remember the incident.” Pokey replied. “But how will you contact her without your magic?”

“There is one way.” Celestia frowned deeply. “It will involve moving through the Old Magics, but it will not reveal where I am by doing so.”

Pokey thought for a moment. “Do you speak of Somnum Exterreri?”

Celestia gave him a knowing look. “I do. How do you know of it?”

“Like I said, I enjoy studying history.”

“You enjoy very distant history.” She countered.

“All history has lessons to learn.” He shrugged.

“Somnum Exterreri solebat est aliquid in rerum studia fortuia.”

“Sed usque talis est fortuita lectio tantum influit.” He replied.

“That it will.” She replied. “Will you agree to my amendment?”

“Provided you do not violate any of your previous terms, I will permit you contact with your sister through the Sommnum Exterreri.”

“Thank you, Sergeant. I will not reveal anything about you or your squadron.”

Pokey nodded, and she watched him ascend the stairs then listened as he dropped some sort of trap door and secured it with an iron bar, more than likely.

“I have been abducted by a very strange pony.” She remarked to herself.