• Published 5th Oct 2017
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The Spirit of a Pegasus - bookplayer



In early Equestria, the pegasi cling to their traditions. Seeking a father for her foal for one of those traditions leads Pansy to consider her true feelings for Commander Hurricane, but she finds his emotions protected by armor nopony has pierced.

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3 - Practical Matters

The world went from icy blackness to warm white in an instant. As the white faded into a view of a cave dimly lit by a purplish glow, the warmth remained in spite of the chunks of ice falling from Commander Hurricane’s body.

He took a deep breath and took in the scene. Private Pansy was staring at him, a look of wonder slowly turning to a smile. The same look was painted on the faces of a beige earth pony stallion and a green unicorn mare, but theirs shifted to a nervous series of looks between them.

“Commander, you’re alive!” Private Pansy took a step forward, then halted and drew herself into an uncertain attention. “I mean, you’re alive, Sir…”

Hurricane looked at the ice dropping from his coat and wings, then back to her shocked face. He tried to put together what had happened but quickly came to the conclusion that it was probably magical in nature and he was missing key intelligence.

He frowned. “Private Pansy… what is the meaning of this?”

The stallion frowned back at him and leaned towards Pansy. “Who do you think he’d rather hear it from, a mud pony, a stick head, or the lowest ranking pegasus in the entire tribe?”

“I should explain it.” Pansy said, taking a step forward and letting an even expression fall over her face. “I am a pegasus, and this part is about my tribe.”

“Explain what? What is going on here?” Hurricane narrowed his eyes.

Pansy met them with the same even expression and spoke in a calm, firm voice:

“Commander, Sir, I must speak to you as a pony. This ice was drawn by the conflict between the tribes. By centuries of each of us feeling superior, treating the others as the enemy to be driven to submission, by… by your negotiations earlier—

“Is that what those were?” The unicorn raised an eyebrow. “I thought they were seeing who could shout the loudest.”

Pansy glanced over her shoulder with a sharp look, then turned back to Hurricane.

“I am a pegasus, and I’m proud of that. And you are my commander, and you deserve my respect and obedience. But we can’t go on like this.”

“Are you resigning?” Hurricane asked cautiously.

Pansy drew herself up and looked him squarely in the eye. “No, Sir. I’m telling you what our tribe must do, if we’re to survive and prosper. We must unite with the earth ponies and unicorns. We must form a new society, a new way of living with each other. It will require sacrifices on our part, we can’t hold to everything that’s made our tribe great in the past if we want our tribe to be great in the future. But we are pegasi, and we are strong, and we can thrive in this new world alongside friends from other tribes if, and only if, we’re willing to change our tactics, recognize our weaknesses, and offer our strength to all ponies.”

“Is that an order, Private?” Hurricane drew himself up, a full head higher than the Private and easily her superior in ability, rank, and years. But as he did, another piece of ice fell from his mane, and he quickly looked to Pansy for the answer.

“No, Sir. It’s just the truth,” she said simply. She nodded over her shoulder. “You can feel it in that fire. We made that, myself and Smart Cookie and Clover the Clever, by setting aside our differences, setting aside our tribes, and becoming friends. We need one of those big enough to thaw this land, and the unity and friendship of our tribes is the only way to build that.”

He looked to the purple fire, radiating warmth in a way that seemed to touch more than his physical form. Close to it, bathed in the shadowy light stood the earth pony and the unicorn, watching him with bated breath.

He turned again to Pansy and saw the same light of the fire shining in her eyes and through her form. “You made that?”

“All of us. You and I both owe our lives to those ponies, and I stand beside them…” She hesitated and looked over her shoulder at them, then back to the commander. “Before even my tribe.”

The two ponies smiled warmly at Pansy and the fire glowed brighter for a moment. Hurricane frowned as he considered the scene.

“Yes, that’s treasonous,” Pansy said quickly, squaring her shoulders and setting her jaw. “You can discharge me, if you’d like. Or you can join the tribe to the three of us, under the banner of a new nation, Equestria. The decision is in your hooves, Commander.”

Hurricane stared at the fire. In his head, the voices of his forebearers and of Senior Command desperately reminded him of the strength of the pegasi, their glory, their place in honor above all other tribes.

But those voices seemed distant. And what was here in this cave, in the ponies before him, was a force greater than ponies or tribes.

He smiled at Pansy. “I was told once that a soldier must balance strength and flexibility. Nopony doubts the strength of the pegasi, but if you three know a way out of this ice, it may be time to demonstrate our flexibility. Equestria has the loyalty of the pegasi under its banner.” He turned his smile to the others. “And your earth pony and unicorn friends can count on that.”

“We’ll never doubt it,” the earth pony said with a grin. “Now come over here and warm yourself.”

The unicorn sat down and motioned next to her for Hurricane to join them. “Yes, help us work out how this might work. So far we’ve got a name, and… well, that’s about it.”

“We’ve got ponies now!” the earth pony pointed out. “A name and ponies, we’re practically a world power already.”

Hurricane chuckled and walked over, Pansy close by his side with a proud smile on her face.

“This won’t be easy. But it will be better.” He took a seat as Pansy rounded the fire to sit between the other ponies. When she was settled, he offered her an approving nod. “Thank you, Lieutenant Pansy. There’ll be a Golden Cloud on your uniform the second we get back.”

Pansy beamed and gave a salute. “Thank you, Sir. I was just doing my duty.”


Hurricane stood like a statue by the large fireplace in the Princesses’ council room, keeping a close eye on the heated discussion at the table.

“Why do you even care about this?” Puddinghead said with a wide gesture at Pansy that set the little red earth pony’s bun wobbling. “You lot just have to map the blasted thing out and hoof it over.”

Pansy just sat with military stiffness and explained gently, “Because four times this year we’ve surveyed for a road, and four times it’s needed to be redone, repeatedly, due to delays or mismanagement. Your craftsponies are to be respected, but our scouts deserve respect as well, and they’ve done their jobs promptly each time, sometimes ten times over.”

Pansy addressed her words to Puddinghead, but Hurricane knew the explanation was even more for the benefit of Princess Celestia, who sat at the head of the table watching attentively.

“I’d simply like to point out for the record that Lord Agate did put in a bid for this job,” Platinum added, hardly looking at the other mares as she buffed some dust off of her white hooves.

Puddinghead snorted. “For six times what the Mason’s Guild wanted. For that much, the blasted road had better include a pub every mile with half-priced cider.”

“If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth being paid exorbitantly for.” Clover smirked and glanced up from her notes. “Or is that just a unicorn saying?”

Cookie was pacing behind the table, but he stopped behind Puddinghead and frowned at Pansy. “The surveyor’s jobs take a half of a day. The pavers are going to be hauling stones for months, I think it’s understandable when things fall behind.”

“And we will account for that,” Pansy said with a nod. “We will account for maps being lost or destroyed, materials being delayed, conflicts with weather scheduling, difficult terrain, and potential for monster attacks.” She added sharply, “We will not account for sudden drops in productivity from workers, and I’m afraid those workers will be unhappy with us.”

Puddinghead frowned and arched an eyebrow, slumping back. “I can understand why, if they’re the ones doing the work and you’re flying in to tell them how.”

Hurricane allowed himself a small smile as he saw Pansy’s eyes flash.

She answered in the same sharp tone, “Puddinghead, we make and deliver hundreds of thousands of clouds over the land each year. We have troops that can travel thousands of miles, set up a base of operations, wage a battle, and tend to wounded in a matter of weeks. And the reason we can do those things is that we have ponies whose job is to keep track of rainfall, crop disbursement, migration patterns of dozens of species from birds to dragons, scouting reports, inventory, communications, and, yes, who is doing the work. The ponies who fly in to tell them how are the very ponies who make things work.”

“Is that why you need Senior Command to fly in and tell you how to have foals?” Puddinghead smirked.

Pansy’s even expression didn’t change, but Hurricane took a step forward, his eyes narrowed. “Puddinghead—”

“Calm down, Hurricane. Puddinghead is simply jealous no one in our tribe has asked her to reproduce.” Cookie offered him a smirk. “It’s our gift to the future ponies of Equestria.”

Hurricane relaxed, stepping back and returning the smirk. “The present stallions as well.”

Puddinghead opened her mouth to retort, but Cookie cut her off before she got a word out.

“Pansy, to the subject at hoof, you act as though our guilds have no organization what-so-ever. We did manage to have roads in Girthshire without the pegasus efficiency brigade flying above.”

“In spite of the pavers best efforts, it seems,” Clover added.

Pansy offered a nod of concession. “Some of the guilds are very efficient. Please don’t take this as a condemnation of your tribe or your systems. Even the Masons Guild seems perfectly adequate when laying stone for buildings.” Her face shifted to a frown. “But I must be clear here, the ponies who are in charge of laying the roads are inefficient, and we don’t want to be bound to their timetables.”

“I find that quite reasonable, Major,” Princess Celestia said clearly, cutting off a rebuttal from Cookie. “I don’t think it would be wise for ponies to put a hoof in where they have no business, but you’re already a part of the planning and oversight...” She smirked. “...as it were. I don’t think it should be a problem to give you more control, in the name of efficiency.”

Cookie frowned and offered her a flat look. “You don’t think it should be a problem—”

The princess’s smile grew sweet as she turned to Cookie. “I’m taking this as you volunteering to make sure it isn’t.”

His face softened to a resigned smile and he raised his eyebrows. “I’m not sure that was going to be my point, but I shall do what I can.”

“Thank you, Cookie.” Princess Celestia nodded, and then turned her attention to Hurricane. “Now, the next order of business. Commander Hurricane, do you have an opinion on the matter of the Diamond Dogs? Several ponies are interested in the mines there, and no treaty on the limits of their domain had held thus far.”

Hurricane drew himself up and stepped forward. “Yes, Your Majesty. As I mentioned several treaties ago, their treatment of Equestria is a disgrace. They have no interest in designating borders, and no intention of honoring the ones we’ve laid out. It’s high time they were taught a lesson.”

“Here, here.” Platinum clapped a hoof lightly on the table. “As little as we want bloodshed, those dogs are a danger to ponies, and negotiation seems out of the question. They’ve been taking hostages to exchange for gems the ponies have mined, you know.”

“Gems the ponies have mined from the area the Diamond Dogs occupy, which they’ve occupied since well before we turned up and started mining gems,” Cookie said with a pointed look at Platinum and Hurricane.

“Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it?” Clover spoke up from the foot of the table. “Just what is the area they occupy? We can’t know if they won’t hold to a blasted treaty.” She tilted her head with a frown. “Hurricane, can we just give them... a bit of a taste? Enough that perhaps they’ll pay attention to their borders?”

“If you’d like to revisit this problem in another five years, and then ten, and for as long as ponies remain in Equestria, yes, that’s a perfect strategy.” Hurricane nodded with a flat expression. “If you wish it dealt with for once and for all, those tunnels will need to be cleared and the dogs sent on their way.”

“I’m afraid I must disagree with the commander,” Pansy said directly to Princess Celestia. “With all due respect, I’m afraid we’re in no position to remove the Diamond Dogs at this time. It would be a tactical nightmare, and our troops would suffer for it.”

Hurricane flapped into the air and landed in the seat across from Pansy. “I believe I have an understanding of tactics, Major. I’m not saying it would be easy, but there are methods for dealing with these situations.”

Pansy frowned and nodded to him. “Yes, Sir. There are of course, but we aren’t prepared to initiate them. If we needed to fight it, to defend the lives of ponies, we would do what was necessary: initiate new training regimen beginning at sunrise tomorrow, with our best troops drilling around the clock. Request support from Clover and Star Swirl and the school, and the Metalworker’s Guild engineers. Put together a crew of miners to aid us in the tunnels and show us how to secure them…” She looked him in the eye. “Commander, we could fight the Diamond Dogs and we could win, but to do so would require an enormous cost, whether in time, effort, and tactical organization, or in the blood of our troops. Neither is worth it for gems.”

“This isn’t about gems, Major, this is about our sovereignty,” Hurricane said in a firm, even tone. “The dogs have repeatedly demonstrated that they don’t recognize the laws of Equestria. They must be driven out before they endanger ponies, either themselves or by demonstrating to other beings that outside of pony towns Equestria is lawless and the crown will do nothing. How are ponies to travel or trade if they can’t be guaranteed safety on our roads? What pony would build a farm or venture into a mine, knowing there might be all manner of beings roaming the countryside that mean them harm?”

He leaned back and motioned to the princess. “Clearly, it is the will of Princess Celestia that ponies be safe and free here. Our job, Major Pansy, is to provide the means to make that so. To argue that is not worth doing because our job would be difficult is a stain on our honor and a dereliction of our duty.”

“Then it’s a good thing this council isn’t here to satisfy your blasted honor.” Puddinghead rolled her eyes, then turned and said plainly to Princess Celestia, “Your Majesty, if it’s going to be a giant pain in the rump, we ought to figure out something else.”

Pansy ignored Puddinghead, drawing herself up and addressing Hurricane, “Commander, Sir, I will never accept a stain on my honor by neglecting a duty because it is difficult. But I will never count it as a stain on my honor to weigh the benefits of a battle with the cost and risks, and honestly state what I find. Your aims are noble and just and right, and I would expect no less from you, but each battle is not the war. Even if the war is well worth winning, a specific battle may not be. Are you sure this is the battle we must win?”

“If it’s a battle, Hurricane is sure we must win it,” Clover said to Cookie.

Cookie nodded. “Or if it might be a battle, or could possibly result in a battle, or might be something similar to a battle, or if there’s a—”

“If you say the g-word, I’ll light your tail on fire.” Clover glared at him, and then at Hurricane for good measure. “Either of you.”

Hurricane glared at both of them, then looked to Pansy. She was absolutely right about the tactics; their troops were trained for aerial combat and maneuvering, with spears and slings and swords. He was well aware it would be the toughest undertaking of his career to assure there wasn’t a bloodbath in those tunnels. But he was equally certain of the futility of half-measures; the Diamond Dogs lacked any form of honor he could see, and as long as they remained in the vicinity of ponies it would be a matter of time before they grew bold enough to strike.

In Hippocampus there would have been no question, his best tacticians would have been summoned by now, with orders to have three battle plans on his desk by sun-up. But this was Equestria; there were ponies like Puddinghead and Clover, who wanted easy answers, and a princess who wouldn’t want blood on her hooves. Pansy knew this world better than he did.

He answered Pansy, feeling the weight of years on his shoulders, “I’m sure I know the way, the only way, to keep the Diamond Dogs from bothering ponies. Whether that must be done is a political matter and rests in the hooves of Princess Celestia.”

Princess Celestia gave a solemn nod and addressed the room, “The point of this, as the commander noted, is to protect ponies and keep peace in our land. Suppose we focus on protecting the ponies, rather than stopping the Diamond Dogs?”

Cookie raised an eyebrow. “What do you have in mind?”

“Commander, might we station troops in the area?” Princess Celestia asked Hurricane with a slight tilt of her head. “That may be a warning to the Diamond Dogs, and if they do bother the ponies your troops could step in to rescue or defend them. After a few such confrontations, it is to be hoped that the dogs will consider it too much trouble to bother our ponies.”

Hurricane sighed and glanced at Pansy, then back to the princess. “Of course, Your Majesty. But my advice stands. This isn’t a solution, it will last only as long as troops are present and the dogs aren’t feeling bold.”

Princess Celestia smiled at him. “Your advice is noted, Commander. If this proves impractical, the council will return to this question, and your voice will receive considerable weight.”

“I do hope it doesn’t come to that.” Hurricane threw a look at Clover and Cookie. “In spite of what some ponies think, I prefer to keep my troops out of harm’s way.”

“You know, that would be remarkably easy if you’d stop suggesting we put them in harm’s way,” Cookie said with a dry look.

Pansy looked at Cookie and raised her eyebrows. “Those are light words from a pony who’s neither wielded a spear nor commanded a troop.”

“They seem like common sense to me,” he said with a shrug.

“Then that is a failure on your part. Commander Hurricane doesn’t simply represent our tribe, he maintains and commands the military of Equestria, which is a tool at our disposal in matters of state. It is his place to let the council know each and every time it may be of use to us, and to decline to mention that out of concern for our troops would be no less than cowardice, deceit, and treason.” Pansy frowned at Cookie. “How dare you suggest that course for a member of council, a friend, and an honorable pony?”

Cookie blinked, then shook his head. “I never would, and I’m sorry to imply such a thing. Might I amend my suggestion? He could, perhaps, be less enthusiastic about it.”

Pansy offered a half-hearted nod. “Perhaps, but he takes pride in our skill.”

“We’re talking about the lives of ponies here, not a fine new hat to show off,” Cookie said, his face flat.

“We’re talking about pegasus soldiers,” Pansy said firmly. “Do remember that I am one of the ponies in question, and I work my tail off so that when he offers our use to the princess he can be completely and utterly confident in our bravery, honor, and capabilities.”

Cookie’s face tinged with sympathy, but he pressed on, “Pansy, we both know you don’t want to fight every battle that Hurricane insists is absolutely necessary to secure Equestria. You said as much tonight.”

Pansy drew herself up and tilted her head. “As a council member I try to consider every option, as should we all. But I have never felt for a moment that Commander Hurricane doesn’t care deeply about me and my fellow soldiers. In military matters I am his to command, and I certainly wouldn’t agree to that if I didn’t trust him to carefully balance my life with the needs of Equestria. Since my fellow soldiers continue to follow him, I assume they’ve made the same judgement, and I salute them for it.”

“Well said, Major Pansy.” Princess Celestia nodded to her. “As our business is done here, I suggest Cookie owes the commander a toast in the kitchens.”

“I suppose I do,” Cookie said with a smile. “And one for Pansy as well. I feel I’ve received a thorough education tonight on the place of military leadership in government.”


Hurricane snorted, but with a small smile of his own. “Right now that place is in front of a hearty snack and a mug of cider.”

“That’s a position I can get behind!” Puddinghead grinned and rose to her hooves. “Come along, ponies.”

As the ponies made their way into the stone hallways of the Castle of the Two Sisters, Hurricane held back to fall in step beside Pansy. Ahead of them the unicorns and earth ponies joked about how many barrels of wine might be required to soothe the pride of the Mason’s Guild, but Hurricane’s focus was on the pony next to him.

Trying not to draw attention to it, he brushed his wing against hers and said in a low voice, “Pansy… thank you. For all that you’ve done tonight.”

Pansy’s cheeks colored slightly, but she glanced at him with a warm smile. “It’s my pleasure, Sir.”

***

The mid-morning sun was shining through the window of Hurricane’s office as he read through the never-ending pile of reports and requests that collected on his desk. He didn’t mind the task; most day-to-day reports were handled by the generals, so by the time something required his personal review it was bound to be interesting at least. He had just signed off on a requisition to acquire fifty sets of fireproof boots from Clover’s school, which turned out to be necessary for patrolling the aptly named Fire Swamp to the north, when there came a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Hurricane called. He already knew it was either a member of Senior Command or one of the princesses’ advisors. Nopony else would dare disturb him without an appointment.

General Highwind walked in and snapped a salute. He was an older brown pony nearing retirement; he and Hurricane had been in Senior Command together before his promotion to commander.

“General.” Hurricane nodded. “How can I help you?”

Highwind walked up to his desk and smacked a scroll down on it. “Hurricane. What in the seven gates of Tartarus is meant by these orders?”

Hurricane glanced down at the scroll, then looked at Highwind with an even expression. “Diplomatic escort.”

“Yes. It seems we’re to defend the foreign envoy against ‘predators including birds, frogs, snakes, cats, and spiders; strong and/or light winds; and being stepped on.’” General Highwind scowled and waved a hoof. “What in the blessed darkness is a breezie, anyway?”

“They’re beings about the size of a mouse, with insect wings. Star Swirl found them when he was mucking about with portals, and they’ve requested to be allowed to gather pollen in Equestria.” Hurricane rolled up the scroll and offered it back to Highwind. “It was also the consensus of Princess Celestia and the council that they’re adorable.”

“Adorable,” Highwind said with a look so dry it should have been reported to the Weather Corps.

Hurricane nodded and looked him in the eye. “Platinum was adamant on that point.”

Highwind sighed. “You want me to send a troop of soldiers to escort these beings around Equestria to gather pollen.”

“No, I ordered you to send a troop of soldiers to escort them.” Hurricane leaned back in his chair.

“This is an insult to my troops.” Highwind narrowed his eyes and ruffling his feathers.

Hurricane raised his eyebrows in mild surprise. “Your troops take an order from Princess Celestia, her advisors, and their commander as an insult?”

Highwind frowned. “No, of course not, but—”

“But they think the protection of beings their princess has personally invited and offered a promise of safe passage is beneath their honor?” he pressed.

“You know perfectly well what I’m saying,” Highwind said, leveling a stare at him.

“I do,” Hurricane admitted with a nod. “Back in Hippocampus, those troops would have been flying into battle against the griffons, offering their lives for the glory of the pegasi, and upholding a tradition of bravery and skill that has been the strength of our tribe for generations. And now they’re being asked to chase birds away from some large-ish insects.”

“Exactly.”

Hurricane pretended to consider that for exactly five seconds, and then he looked Highwind in the eye. “Hippocampus is a barren wasteland. I’ll happily grant a discharge to anypony who wants to go back there. Those who remain serve under the banner of Equestria, by the grace of the princesses and at my command, and when they are ordered to escort breezies, they escort breezies. Am I perfectly clear, General?”

Highwind gave a frustrated snort. “You are. But you must admit this job isn’t what it used to be.”

Hurricane nodded his agreement. “It’s not. But it’s the job that must be done.”

“Then I suppose my troop will give it their all,” Highwind said, rolling his eyes.

“Good. Anything else?”

“No, Sir.” Highwind sighed. “I’d better go muster a troop of scarecrows.”

“You’re dismissed,” Hurricane reached for the next report.

The general stomped out the door, nearly running into Pansy, who stood aside and at attention quickly. Highwind didn’t even pause to nod.

Once he was out of sight, Pansy continued into Hurricane’s office and closed the door behind her. “He didn’t seem pleased.”

Hurricane set aside the fresh report. “The breezie assignment.”

“I see,” Pansy said with a glance at the door. Then she looked at Hurricane and tilted her head. “You didn’t tell him about the official designation, did you?”

Hurricane just looked at her with a blank military expression.

Pansy’s face melted into a smirk. “Commander.”

“He was inquiring about the details,” Hurricane said, smirking back.

Pansy shook her head. “I can’t imagine that specific detail helped.”

Hurricane let out a long breath. “Nopony’s resigned over it yet, I’m taking that as a good sign. Between friends, I can’t say I blame him. Poor fellow’s got six divisions of ponies with spears and fire in their blood, and all he’s got for them is a monster here and there and… guarding breezies.”

“This isn’t the world we were raised for,” Pansy said with a sympathetic nod.

“It’s not, but it’s the one we have, and we are soldiers. We fight the battles we’re ordered into, not the ones that would please us.” Hurricane sighed, then he turned his attention back to Pansy. “Are you here on business?”

Her face fell into an impassive line. “In a way. But not official business. I needed to talk to you about something… practical.”

Hurricane narrowed his eyes in confusion, but he nodded. “Go on…”

“I’d like very much to bear an honor foal. But…” She trailed off, but it was impossible to tell the reason. Her face was unmoving, she didn’t fidget, she simply paused for entirely too long.

Clearing his throat, Hurricane looked her in the eye. “If you have reasons you won’t, there’s no need to excuse yourself to me. The recognition stands, regardless.”

“No. I just…” She took a deep breath and said in an even voice, “I wanted to request that you sire it. Sir.”

Hurricane froze, staring at her. He eventually managed to glance down at the papers on his desk and muttered, “I see.”

“You’re the finest stallion I know. If the pegasi want me to bear a foal of the best quality I can, I need for you to be the father.” She added quickly, “I’m not asking for more than that, of course.”

Still looking down, Hurricane forced himself to give his usual response to this request. “I’m honored, but I have to decline. If you’d like I can make some recommendations for you; some stallions from other divisions you might not be aware of.”

Pansy was quiet, and Hurricane didn’t dare look up until she spoke.

“I’ll consider anypony you recommend, Sir.” Her tone was careful and clear, and he hoped he only imagined the hint of disappointment.

“Pansy…” His face fell into the even expression of a soldier as he looked at her, though he spoke from his heart, “I mean it. I am honored. You’re a strong, beautiful mare, and among my finest officers. I—” He cut himself off before his words became honest and dangerous, and instead finished, “I’m sorry.”

She offered him a sad smile. “Don’t apologize. It would be as wrong of me to pressure you as it would be for command to pressure me. If you don’t want to, that’s fine, and I’ll always respect you as my commander, and love you as my friend.”

“Thank you,” he said, and he meant it from the bottom of his heart, even though he felt as blank as the expression on his face.

“You’re quite welcome.” She glanced out the window, then back to Hurricane. “I ought to get going. I’m meeting with Captain Compass Rose to tell her about the decision regarding the road.”

“Good.” Hurricane nodded. “Dismissed, as you please.”

Pansy smiled again, more warmly this time. “Thank you, Sir. And thank you for hearing me out.”

With that she turned and left Hurricane’s office, closing the door behind her.

Hurricane stared at the door for a long time. Then he closed his eyes. The closed door was no longer there, but instead a young mare standing at attention in a different time and place, the spirit of a pegasus radiating from her soul.