• 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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IX - The Private

“Well?”

“Sorry, sir.” The Corporal shook his head. “Nothing.”

There was an audible toink! noise that came from somewhere, and Shining’s right eye twitched.

“All right. You’re dismissed for now.”

Shining wrote on the parchment before him as the Corporal left, but then he sighed as he felt Cadence’s hoof rub his shoulder.

“You ok, honey?” she gently asked.

“I’m all right, I suppose.” He replied, as he let her gentle rubbing motion soothe him. “I just had a good feeling on that last one.”

“It’s all right. You still have some other leads to follow, right?”

“I’m running out of leads, that’s the problem.” He sighed deeper. “One month in, and I’m no closer than when I started. Guards on duty that night don’t remember a thing.” he tapped the parchment as he spoke, as if checking them off. “Pinkie Pie doesn’t know who made the accusation of a broken Pinkie Promise, only that it was a Pegasi. I’m still trying to figure out how she got here.

“No witnesses from the city. No fur samples, no evidence. Not even a hoof print! I’ve got next to nothing to work on.”

“I suppose this means you have some really good guards, at least.”

Shining swiveled around to look at his wife. “I guess, but this is still annoying. They didn’t need to be this good. I’m going to have a field day with whoever did this, I can tell you that.”

“Sir?” a voice piped up. Both turned to see Private Clover walking into the command center.

“Yes, Private?”

“I have the report from Sgt. Pokey.” She passed a paper to the Captain. “He wanted you to see it.”

“Thank you. Where are you posted to today, Private?”

“Street patrol with the Sarge, sir.”

“All right. Get back to it, and I’ll get in touch with your Sick later.”

“Yes sir.”


“He hardly even looked at it?”

“I think I caught him at a bad time.” She replied, but Pokey still shook his head.

“Typical. Well, I filed it like I was supposed to. His fault if he doesn’t read it.”

“I guess so, Sir.”

“You hungry? Let’s stop here.” Pokey pointed to a Neighponese Restaurant just across the street from them. “My treat. We’ve been searching pretty hard today.”

“I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever find the princess.”

Pokey shook his head. “It’s not looking too encouraging, is it? Best we can do is just keep looking.”

Clover and Pokey sat at one of the outdoor tables, and a waiter quickly appeared, took their order, and informed them the meal would be free since the Guards were on duty. After a bit of back-and-forth on why that wasn’t needed, the two guards relented and then dug into the wantons that had been left at the table.

“So, how is your boyfriend holding up?” Pokey asked.

“Boyfriend?” she repeated, her cheeks going red.

“Don’t play coy with me.” He teased. “I know you’ve got the hots for Light Hooves. C’mon. You can tell me. Is he still miserable up there on J-12?”

“As ever.” She sighed. “He had a little hope he’d escape when Cap’n told us about the new searches, but since he’s still there he feels like he’s being punished and/or is cursed.”

“Well, I am trying to get him off of that.”

“I’m sure you are, but I don’t think Captain Armor is really listening to anything that doesn’t involve where the Princess is.”

“That is a good part of it. Just reassure him when you see him for me, all right? Things will get better, eventually.”

“I will.”


“Hey Princess!”

“Good evening, Private! How are you?”

“Oh, I’m all right, I suppose. How are you holding up?”

“I’m just fine, thank you.” She replied.

“Good, good.” Clover smiled deeply. “It’s been a few weeks, so I was staring to worry you were going stir crazy or something.”

“Not yet.” Celestia chuckled. “How goes my rescue?”

“Not very well.” Clover replied, as she placed her saddlebags on the table. “I think Captain Armor is starting to get frustrated.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. He has us running more laps lately, and he seems to be a bit short on temper. Our search parties have doubled, too. Luna is doing a good job in your absence, though. I hear grumbling from some of the royals about her stoic, unreadable emotions, but she’s fair and balanced in her decisions.”

“Good. Luna is a kind-hearted pony beneath the stone exterior. She's also always up for a good joke, but be careful about pulling pranks on her.”

“Why? What happened?” Clover asked, as she sat in the chair by the chessboard.

“I put her hoof in warm water when she was sleeping once.” Celestia cringed at the memory. “Let’s just say I had to take several baths to get the smell out of my mane from her revenge.”

“I’ll leave her alone, then. Oh, you’re still playing by yourself?”

“Unless you’d like to play.”

“I guess I could. Wing told me you smoked her a while ago.”

“It was her own fault.”

“Probably. She said so when she told me the story.”

The board was already set, so Celestia merely turned it to give Clover the white. After a moment of contemplation, Clover moved a knight out to open.

“Not bad, not bad.” Celestia replied. “Would you like something to drink, Private? I just squeezed some lemonade this morning.”

“Sure, thank you.”

“Be just a moment.”

Celestia stood and crossed over to the icebox but became distracted by a letter on the floor. She picked it up, looked at the envelope, then held it up.

“Is this yours?”

“OhhorsefeathershowdidIlosethat!” Clover’s face went beet red. She was up and swiped it away from Celestia in half a second.

“What was that?” Celestia’s smirk turned mischievous. “Perhaps a love letter to a special somepony?”

“It’s…I mean, it’s not…well, it’s kind of…” Clover stammered, and the red spread to her whole head.

Celestia laughed at Clover’s embarrassment. “Forgive me, my little pony. It’s really not any of my business what it is.”

“It’s ok; but you’re right. It is a love letter.” Clover replied in deep embarrassment.

“May I ask who the lucky stallion is?”

“Light Hooves.” She replied, and then gave a silly giggle.

“I see.” Celestia gave a motherly smile. “Does he know of your affections? It’s your move too by the way.”

“Oh, right.” Clover looked down at the board. “Well, there’s times I think he knows, and then there’s times he seems oblivious to it. Like just tonight, while we were eating dinner. I asked him if he was free this weekend to do anything and he replied with that he didn’t have anything planned and then he shoved a sandwich in his gob.”

“Remember he is a stallion, dear.”

“I know, I know.” She laughed. “But he’s different than most of them are. He’s sweet, and thoughtful, and he worries. I don’t know why I find that endearing but I do. He’s always looking out for others, too. He’d be fantastic at street patrols if he ever got the chance.”

“How long have you known him?”

“Since we both entered basic together. He was in my class. I developed a crush on him there.”

“Do you think he’d be willing to enter into a relationship with you?”

“I think he would be, but there are a lot of things that scare him off.”

“Like what?”

“Well, my parents for one.” She replied, as she moved a rook. “I come from a long line of Guard ponies. You might remember my Father, Lieutenant Lucky Break?”

“Ah, yes!” Celestia brightened. “I remember the good Lieutenant very well. He retired to take care of his young daughter, so that must have been you then.”

“Guilty.” She replied.

“Remind me to ask you about him when you finish your present story.”
Celestia moved a rook herself.

“I will.” Clover smiled. “But so you know his personality, too. Very by the book.”

“That he was. I know I told him a few times he was going to give himself a hernia if he didn’t relax a little.”

“He never did. So when he met Hooves the first time, it was like he was a drill Sergeant again and Hooves was the hapless recruit. Mom tried to intervene, but the damage was already done.”

“That would be a bit intimidating.”

“And then Grandpa. He was a Sick way back when too; so he’s as bad as Dad sometimes. Then you throw in that we’ve been a military family for two hundred years, and then you see why it makes him a bit nervous."

“Is that the main thing that causes problems?”

“Mostly, yes. I mean, he’s a bit afraid of commitment too, but I think I could get him over that. He’s a bit unsure of himself, but once he gets away from that corridor he’d learn he can do more than he thinks.”

“Corridor?”

“Oh, he’s been assigned to corridor J-12 since basic. For the last six months, all he’s done is stand there and stare at a wall.”

“Why hasn’t he reported this to his superiors?”

“He says he has. Nothing has helped. That’s one reason why I agreed to foalnap you: I was trying to help him get to a worthy post.”

You have no idea how important his post is my little pony.

“I’m pretty sure he’ll have a different post after all this.”

“Yeah. Might be guarding the Everfree but it’ll be different.” She sighed.

“I’m not going to do that.” Celestia kindly replied.

“I know. But he’s convinced that’s what’s going to happen. It’s those kinds of things that drive me nuts about him. He really is a good pony, and he’d do fantastic if he was allowed to show it.”

“Well, when I see him I will reiterate he is not in any trouble for what has happened. I will also speak with Captain Armor about moving him to street patrol. Or maybe I should assign him to my personal guard detail? It’s clear I will be in need of a few new faces.”

“He’d probably pass out if you offered that to him.” She chuckled.

“Checkmate.”

“What?” Clover glanced over the board. “Oh, shoot. Another round?”

“I’d like that.” Celestia smiled.