• Published 13th Aug 2019
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A Day in Canterlot - RainbowDoubleDash



Fizzlepop Berrytwist has to spend a day baby-sitting Luna's apprentice, Trixie

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1. Annual Review

Author's Note:

A note about ages
The Lunaverse is about 4 years behind the main universe (assuming about 1 year passes every 2 seasons, there's some math to back this up that a friend of mine did), and this story takes place about 7 years before the first episode of the Lunaverse, Longest Night, Longest Day. As a result, keep in mind that Tempest Shadow in this is something to the tune of 11 years younger here than she was in the My Little Pony movie.

Every muscle and fiber of Fizzlepop Berrytwist ached as she stood beneath the hot water pouring down from the overhead shower. She leaned into the flow, letting the water run down her suffering body and the heat soothe her stretched sinews. The hot-and-cold mixer taps that had been added to Canterlot Castle's Night Guard barracks only a few weeks before she had joined hadn't been the best part about transferring from the Army, but they certainly ranked highly. She did not miss the cold water showers of the Army, not after a workout like she'd just put herself through.

Her breathing was still coming out heavily, and she closed her eyes and tried to get that under control even as she also fought to stop the trembling through legs that didn't want to keep standing. After several minutes, Fizzlepop had just about succeeded when she felt another pony’s flank bump her own. The touch was gentle, a playful attempt at grabbing her attention, but it was sudden and unexpected, and when she tried to re-balance her hooves one came down on a bar of soap and went flying.

“Whoa!” a voice from beside her called. Fizzlepop felt hooves on her back to steady her, and wingbeats from the hooves’ owner to steady herself as she got her legs back under her where they belonged. Glancing, Fizzlepop found herself looking at Nocturne, one of her fellow squad mates, a pegasus with a deep blue coat and feathers and bright purplish-pink mane.

“Easy, rookie,” Nocturne said. “Didn’t meant to almost trip you.”

Fizzlepop took in a long breath. “How much longer until I stop being called ‘rookie’?” She asked. “I’ve been in the squad for two years now.”

Nocturne shrugged as she turned on her own showerhead, prompting Fizzlepop to step away and back against the far wall until the water heated up, though it didn't bother the pegasus. “When you’re not the newest member anymore.” The older mare answered, and smiled over at Fizzlepop. “And when you stop acting like it.”

Fizzlepop couldn’t stop herself from grinning as she got back under her own shower. Thoroughly soaked now, she turned her attention to actually washing herself, grabbing soap and a brush in her hooves. “I trotted fifteen miles in an hour today. Personal record. None of the other unicorns made that…left some pegasi behind, too.”

The other mare started to put a hoof to her eyes, but stopped herself when she remembered the soap that she also held. “Rookie, it’s real hard to not ever bring up your horn when you make everything about your horn.”

Fizzlepop couldn’t stop herself from flinching at Nocturne’s words. She turned to glare at the pegasus as a tiny, familiar sting traveled up the length of her horn – or what should have been the length of her horn. Phantom pain caused by anger compelling her to instinctively light up a horn that wasn’t there save for a broken stump. Instead of a glow, small sparks shot from her, latching onto and dancing up the length of the water that cascaded down overhead.

Nocturne regarded Fizzlepop with half-lidded eyes. “You gonna blast me?”

“I’m thinking about it,” Fizzlepop answered. After a moment, though, she closed her eyes and turned away, quelling her broken horn and getting back to washing herself. She couldn’t even focus for a second before turning back to Nocturne, jabbing a hoof at her. “I just have one rule, Nocturne. Don’t bring up the horn. It’s not asking much, is it?”

Nocturne leaned one front hoof on the shower wall and gestured with the other. “Rookie…Fizzlepop…look, this is gonna sound awful, but the three tribes aren’t all equal in every way. I can stand on clouds, you can’t. You can shoot lightning out of your forehead, I can’t. And neither of us is ever going to be able to keep up with an earth pony in the Guard. There’s a reason why there’s different fitness standards for the three tribes, and the earth pony standards would break most pegasi and ninety-nine percent of unicorns in half.”

Fizzlepop rolled her eyes. “I think you just made an argument for a ‘separate but equal’ society. Planning on moving to Zaldia?”

“You’ve met my husband, did you see wings or a horn on him?” Nocturne asked. “You know how they treat earth ponies in Zaldia. I wouldn’t wish that place on anypony.” She shook her head again. “I’m not saying that anypony is better or worse as a pony. All I’m saying is that it’s a statistical fact that if you put an average earth pony into a ring or onto a track with an average pegasus or unicorn, and switch off the magic or bind the wings, the smart money’s on the earth pony every time.”

Fizzlepop couldn’t stop herself from stomping a hoof against the shower wall. It was with enough force that a tiny crack appeared in the tile, though it sent a jolt of pain up her already aching foreleg. “I’m not an average unicorn.”

“No,” Nocturne said, hooves in her mane as she washed it. “But you think that the earth ponies in the Night Guard are average earth ponies?” She closed her eyes as she dunked her head under the water, rinsing herself, then turned her attention to her tail. “Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t push yourself, find your limits, try to get past them, build yourself up as a pony. That’s what life is all about. And hey, if in the process of doing that it turns out you’re one in a million and you can run an earth pony into the ground? Great.” She looked pointedly at Fizzlepop. “But this isn’t about self-improvement, not really. You and I both know it isn’t.”

Fizzlepop opened her mouth, but then the shower’s door opened again and a white unicorn stuck his head in. “Hey – ”

“Gah!” Nocturne called out, making a show of covering herself with her hooves. “Commander, we’re not decent!”

Commander Shining Armor fixed Nocturne with a bemused smile – the distraction provided by Nocturne giving Fizzlepop a chance to close her eyes and try and wipe the anger from her face. “You’re never decent, Nocturne.”

Nocturne stuck her tongue out at that, getting back to washing her tail and keeping the commander's focus on her. “Why is it that you’re supposed to make a thing out of it when you’re in the bath or shower and somepony else sees, anyway?” She wondered, keeping the focus on her since Fizzlepop still needed a few more seconds to calm down. “Like, where did that joke start?”

Shining only shrugged. His own coat glistened from having been freshly cleaned itself after the morning exercise routine the squad had gone through. “I’m sure that the answer to that is kept somewhere next to why the sky is blue.” He turned to look at Fizzlepop. “Hurry up in here, rookie. Your review is complete, so you’ll be joining me with meeting the Captain in twenty minutes.”

“Sir,” Fizzlepop confirmed with a nod, though she couldn’t keep her voice from cracking a little as she did at the mention of the review. If Shining noticed, he didn’t say anything, instead only returning the nod and then ducking out of the shower stall. Fizzlepop immediately returned to cleaning herself in earnest this time, hesitating slightly when she had to wash her forehead – and her horn. Or what was left of it.

Nocturne noticed, and her wings sagged and ears drooped. “Fizzy,” she said softly, “in seriousness…I don’t think you’ve been doing yourself any favors recently, but I can’t think of a pony I’d rather have in the Guard. So good luck.”

Fizzlepop took in a deep breath and held it for a solid twenty seconds before letting it out, trying to exhale all her concern with it. It didn’t work in the slightest, but she smiled for Nocturne’s benefit. “Thanks,” she said, and couldn’t help mentally adding, I think I need it.


The Night Guard of Luna wore silver-blue armor that featured a spine stylized to look like a draconic fin. Each of the suits of armor were also enchanted so that the pony wearing it would appear to have a gray coat, yellow eyes slit like a dragon’s, and a mouth full of fangs. The wings of pegasi were additionally made to look like those of a dragon or bat, while for unicorns, the illusion caused their horns to look slightly curved and sharp. The intent behind the armor was to be terrifying – the slit eyes and fangs in particular intended to provoke the flight side of fight-or-flight responses on whoever was on the receiving end of them.

It worked more often than not, something Fizzlepop knew from personal experience when she had needed to interpose herself between the odd too-eager reporter or ornery taxpayer who hadn’t learned that Princesses were for looking, not touching. That being said, however, it also always left Fizzlepop feeling like a foal dressed up for Nightmare Night. She’d heard that Luna had personally designed the armor and its glamor herself, and could only assume that the Princess had been going through a phase at the time.

It also didn’t help that, since the point was uniformity of appearance, the glamor made her appear to still have an intact horn. When she’d first seen that in a mirror, she’d had a moment of happiness – but only a moment before reality came back and reminded her that it was only an illusion.

Still, it was the armor both she and Commander Shining Armor wore as they made their way from the barracks of Canterlot Castle over to the offices of the Captain of the Royal Guard, the commander of both the Night Guard and the Canterlot Castle Guard. As they trotted, Fizzlepop couldn’t keep her head held as high as was entirely proper while in uniform, nor lift her legs as high.

Shining Armor noticed, of course. “Fifteen miles in an hour,” he commented nonchalantly as they entered the castle proper. One of the other reasons Fizzlepop had never been a big fan of the glamor laid over the Night Guard armor was because of the incongruity between the fearsome appearance it bestowed and the casual conversations that could happen while in uniform. “I’ve never trotted that fast for that long.”

“No, sir,” Fizzlepop acknowledged, holding her head a little higher and hoping that the conversation wouldn’t go the way she knew it was going to.

“Of course, I’ve never tried,” Shining continued, dashing her hopes. He looked her over. “I might, the next time I’ve got a good stretch of being off-duty to recover afterwards. As it stands…say a dragon showed up in Canterlot, doesn’t matter how.” He lifted a hoof and pushed against Fizzlepop’s shoulder slightly as they trotted. She braced herself and stopped herself from stumbling, but she knew the point he was trying to make. “You up to doing your duty today, rookie?”

Fizzlepop’s first instinct was to lie, but she wouldn’t – not to Shining Armor, even leaving aside that he’d see through it instantly. “I don’t think so, sir,” she was forced to admit, still aware of a dull ache through her body, and a primal part of her hindbrain telling her to crawl back to her bunk and go to sleep.

“And this isn’t the first time you’ve done this,” Shining Armor noted. “Not by a long shot.”

“No, sir.”

Shining sighed, looking away. The helmet of the Night Guard made room for ears, and Shining’s were drooped down. “The Captain is going to bring that up, Fizzy. Just keep that in mind.”

“I will, sir.”

The two proceeded in silence for the rest of the trip, passing through halls of Canterlot Castle bustling with pages, Castle Guard, nobles, two ambassadors, and even a tour group. At length, they reached the doors of the Captain’s office, or rather offices, as proceeding through the door brought the two before a secretary rather than the Captain herself. It was only a moment after that before the two were brought in to the office.

Commanding officers weren’t supposed to necessarily be liked by their subordinates, just obeyed. Nevertheless, Fizzlepop had never much cared for Captain Opal Armet. An earth pony with a silvery coat and black mane, she was getting on in years, but was still fit, and her Captain’s uniform – a blue jacket with a silver sash, this one not projecting any kind of glamor over the pony who wore it – was always neat and pressed, its lines sharp enough to cut.

“Commander Shining Armor and Officer Fizzlepop Berrytwist, reporting as ordered, ma’am,” Shining Armor announced as he and Fizzlepop entered the office, both standing tall and saluting as they did.

Armet didn’t rise from the desk she sat behind, though she did look up from the paperwork that was in front of her, setting down the pen she’d held in her mouth. “At ease,” she said, “helms off, let’s do this face-to-face.”

Fizzlepop started to use her hooves to obey the order, but noticed Shining Armor’s horn lighting up and sliding his own helmet off. He hadn’t meant anything by it – it was a literally thoughtless gesture. Most unicorns just stopped using their hooves for anything but walking as their magic developed…a luxury that hadn’t been afforded Fizzlepop.

Which was part of why she was here – or rather, why she felt so much dread being here at her annual review. Holding back a grimace, she lit up what was left of her horn, ignoring the sting with practiced ease as she wrapped magic around her helmet and pulled it off. She acted quickly enough, and the task was simple enough, that she was able to do so with only a few stray, harmless sparks flying from her horn as she took her helmet into her hooves, even as her body took on its normal coloration and appearance once more.

Nothing had gone wrong, the helm came off just fine…and yet out of the corner of her eye, she saw Shining Armor, similarly free of glamor, glancing at her with a look of mild disappointment. Opal Armet’s own eyes, meanwhile, had immediately gone to the broken stump on Fizzlepop’s head. They always did. It was another reason Fizzlepop didn’t care much for the captain.

The moment didn’t last, at least, as Armet gestured to in front of her desk. “Take a seat, officer,” she instructed. Fizzlepop came forward and did so, while Shining remained at the door. By the time she was seated, Armet had her hooves pressed together before her as she regarded Fizzlepop over them. “Officer Berrytwist, you are here to hear the results of your annual review concerning your physical, mental, and emotional ability to continue serving in the Night Guard of Princess Luna.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Fizzlepop replied when Armet was silent just long enough.

Armet closed over the folder she’d had on her desk. It had Fizzlepop’s name and cutie mark – a mug overflowing with fizzy foam and berries, earned during a very different part of Fizzlepop’s life. Armet placed both her hooves on the folder as she regarded Fizzlepop. “We all know why we’re here and what this review is going to center on. So first, let’s cover the good. You continue to score well on mental aptitude tests. Your commanding officer reports no disciplinary action has been necessary for you. You have been observed to be friendly with your squad mates while respecting seniority and the chain of command. While on-duty you have served well and kept the Princess from harm.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“Which brings us to the negative,” Armet said, and her eyes couldn’t help but dart to Fizzlepop’s horn. The unicorn managed to keep a glare from her eyes. “Your injury.”

Fizzlepop kept her mouth tightly shut as Armet opened the folder before her, looking down to it. “A unicorn in the Guard is required to be able to lift three hundred pounds with his or her telekinesis and sustain that lift for ten seconds. He or she is required to be able to perform five repetitions of this per minute, for five minutes.” Armet looked back to Fizzlepop. “But to be blunt, you are not capable of reliably holding even your helmet aloft for ten seconds. The power is there but not the control, your magic will simply give out at random intervals. Correct?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Fizzlepop was forced to admit.

“An exception was made,” Armet continued, “when you joined the Royal Army due to the power of the one spell you are capable of casting. A fireworks spell, I believe. Explosive, with a side of electrical discharge, or the magical equivalent thereof.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“By unicorn standards your physical abilities are not in question. An argument was made based on your desire to serve, mental aptitude, and the obvious military use of your fireworks that despite not meeting the Royal Army’s magical standards – which are lower than the Guard’s – you should still be allowed to join and serve your country and your Princess provided you could consistently meet the basic physical standards required of the pegasus tribe, aside from flight speed.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Two years ago, after reaching the officer rank of first lieutenant in the Royal Army, you applied to and transferred to the Night Guard. My predecessor allowed the transfer based on a character reference from then-Officer Shining Armor.” Armet looked over to the commander, still standing at attention by the door. “Who I believe also paid for your commission as an officer in the Royal Army in the first place.”

Shining Armor stood a little straighter at being mentioned. “I had met Fizzlepop Berrytwist not long after joining the Guard myself, ma’am,” he said. “I believed she had talent, but she was not financially able to pay for officer training. I offered to help.”

Armet nodded, once again pressing her hooves together before her face as she looked between the two other ponies in the room. “Looking at this situation from the outside without full context, you understand the optics of the situation, Commander Armor, do you not?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Fizzlepop was struggling to keep her horn from lighting up and sparking at the implication that she was only here because of Shining Armor. He didn’t deserve that, and certainly not in a review about her. She tried to ignore the small voice in her mind that wondered, though, if Armet had a point.

“Very good.” Armet turned her attention back to Fizzlepop. “Officer Berrytwist, your commission in the Army was dependent on your ability to keep to the standards of the pegasus tribe, and a similar requirement was placed on you when you joined the Night Guard.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Fizzlepop said. “I exceed the standards, ma’am.”

“Do you?” Armet wondered. “Let’s look at running and endurance. A pegasus in the Guard is required to be able to trot twelve miles in one hour. It is understood, Berrytwist, that this does not mean trot twelve miles and then collapse from exhaustion, but rather still be able to perform his or her duties at the end of it.” She waved a hoof at a window into the office. “If I picked a random pegasus civilian off the streets of Canterlot and ran behind them with a whip, I could get them to trot that. And then they’d collapse from the next stiff breeze.”

Fizzlepop grit her teeth. She exhaled slowly through her nostrils. “Yes, ma’am.”

Armet gestured with one hoof even as she once more looked at Fizzlepop’s folder. “At present, Berrytwist, you exceed every physical standard for the pegasus tribe. But at the same time, I have noticed a slight tremor in your body since you entered the room. According to the doctors, your heart rate is also higher than is entirely healthy for a unicorn – even one with as impressive a physical build as yours.” Her eyes once again looked to Fizzlepop’s broken horn. “And while your fireworks spell has obvious military uses, I have to admit that I am somewhat less able to imagine circumstances where it will be useful as a bodyguard for Her Majesty the Princess. Niche opportunities to use it, yes…but they are just that: niche.”

Armet closed the folder over. “So. From the outside, you look like a political appointee who had a wealthy patron buy her way into first the Army, then the Guard – and I am not saying that is what happened, but it’s how it looks. You fail to meet the basic magical requirements of the unicorn tribe. The one spell you can cast is not useful to the Night Guard. And you appear to be damaging yourself attempting to make up for your shortcomings.”

“Permission to speak, ma’am?” Fizzlepop asked. She kept the crack from her voice.

Armet considered a moment before nodding. “Granted, officer.”

Fizzlepop took a moment to compose herself, glancing down at her helmet as she did. In its reflection, she could see Shining Armor. “Ma’am, nopony is more aware of…the limitations imposed on me by my horn than I am. And it is true that I owe a lot to Commander Armor. Over the past two years, since joining the Guard, I have been pushing myself to be worthy of the chance that he gave me.” She looked to Armet, trying to remember what Nocturne had been trying to tell her about setting goals and reaching them. “My goal has been to reach the physical standards of the earth pony tribe. If you’ll only give me a chance…”

Fizzlepop heard a pointed, annoyed exhale from behind her. Captain Armet didn’t look any happier than Shining Armor sounded. “To do that,” Armet said, “You’d have to more than double your current physical lifting capacity. And you’d have to be able to trot sixteen miles in an hour. Officer, considering the state you’re in just trying to meet pegasus standards – ”

“No, I – ” Fizzlepop interrupted before she could stop herself. She bit her lip. “I apologize, ma’am.”

Armet at least didn’t let the silence linger. “Accepted. Continue, officer.”

Fizzlepop glanced at Shining’s reflecting in her helmet once more, and saw he was, almost imperceptibly, shaking his head. She was going about this the wrong way, phrasing things wrong. But how was she supposed to do it? She could meet the pegasus standards with only a little more effort than an actual pegasus. But Armet was right, she did utterly fail the magical standards of the unicorn tribe, and the one major asset that had allowed her to join the Army, the fireworks spell she could cast, really was less than useful as a bodyguard. Maybe if she could control it better…but she couldn’t. It was an explosion or nothing at all. But without the fireworks – without unicorn magic that was worth anything – and without wings – then she had to make the earth pony standards, didn’t she?

Fizzlepop opened her mouth to begin to speak, but there was a sound, a surprised yelp, from outside the office door, then a few muffled voices. Shining Armor, closest to the door and able to hear more clearly what was on the other side of it, had his eyes widen as he stepped away from it and opened the door, then sank to one knee.

Which could only mean one thing, really. Fizzlepop copied the motion, as did Captain Armet as soon as she came out from behind her desk. A moment later, Princess Luna Equestris strode into the office. Even with two years of becoming more accustomed to the presence of the Princess, she still cut an imposing figure to Fizzlepop. She was taller than most stallions, even Shining Armor, with a long horn, powerful wings, and fur that barely hid the taut, strong muscles that could bend iron bars on a whim.

“Your majesty,” Opal Armet said from where she knelt. “To what do we owe the pleasure?”

Luna regarded the three ponies with an arch look before she gestured with her wings, giving them leave to stand. They did so. “I am sending my apprentice Trixie into Canterlot,” she said, “and thought it only polite to notify my Captain of the Guard so that an escort could be arranged. I understand that this is extremely last-minute…”

Fizzlepop’s ears twitched at the pronunciation of that last word. She glanced to Shining, who nodded slightly – he’d heard it too.

“We live to serve, your majesty,” Armet said, though she frowned at the mention of Trixie, a young unicorn Luna had taken on as an apprentice several years ago who was rapidly developing a…reputation…around the Castle. Her frown deepened further after a moment. “If I may ask, your Majesty, where are officers Smiles and Meadowlark? I believe they were supposed to guard your person this shift.” She came up alongside Fizzlepop and glanced at her, and the unicorn nodded.

Luna looked surprised for a moment, glancing to either side of her and then out into the hall. “Hmm, I seem to have lost them…how irksome. In any event, I must be going now. Have an officer meet Trixie at the castle gates in half an hour sharp. Oh, and do see to it that Smiles and Meadowlark are suitably disciplined.”

Shining, Fizzlepop, and Captain Armet looked between each other, then back to the “alicorn”. “Commander Armor, you’re closest.”

The tone of voice caused “Luna’s” eyes to widen in shock, moreso when Shining reached out to her with one hoof. “Un moment! It’s treason to strike the Princess!” She tried to backpedal, but was caught too much by surprise as Shining’s hoof reached to her, through her like she wasn’t even there, and grabbed something within the “alicorn” and pulled.

He produced a blue unicorn who came up to his withers, not quite a filly but not really a mare yet either, horn glowing pinkish-blue. She tried to scamper away, and the illusion of Luna started swatting at Shining with its hooves – harmlessly due to only being a trick of light – but Shining held on tight as his other hoof lightly flicked her horn. Instantly, the illusion of Luna burst apart into pinkish-blue smoke, and a moment later even that was gone.

Pas juste…” Trixie Lulamoon groused in Prench. She looked up at Shining, and grinned widely. “What gave me away?” Her Equestrian still carried a fair bit of an accent in it, reflecting the city of Neigh Orleans where she had grown up, though it wasn’t nearly as thick as it had once been, where her broken pidgin had been barely intelligible to much of the castle staff.

“You pronounced minute like in Prench,” Armet said. “The voice was generally off as well.”

“Princess Luna would never consider losing track of two members of the Night Guard merely ‘irksome’,” Fizzlepop Berrytwist added.

“Also the illusion was too tall, the wings were too long, it didn’t really move right, and the hooves didn’t make any sound when walking,” Shining finished.

Trixie huffed. “Mais, Ah’m still working on castin’ glamors an’ ghost sounds at the same time. Guess mah Luna still looks like what Ah imagine her like instead a’ what she is like. Fooled ya for un moment, though.”

“Trixie, what are you doing here?” Shining Armor demanded, releasing the young unicorn. “You’re interrupting something very important.”

Trixie waved a hoof nonchalantly. “Oui, sure, very important. Mais, Ah really am here for a guard so Ah can go into Canterlot, Ah just didn’t want to wait.” She frowned. “Ah think Ah should be able to go into Canterlot by mahself, Ah’m old enough, but Luna don’t want me by mahself after what happened in the Elkheim Embassy.”

“The embassy you burned down?”

Trixie glared at Shining. “Choooh! Ah didn’t burn down nothin’! The fire was put out ‘fore too long, an’ it wasn’t just me, there was this deer too, an’ we was playin’ and there were ice worms…okay, there weren’t real ice worms…” She crossed her hooves. “Look, Ah’m on a schedule. Last showin’ a’ Don Rocinante is tonight an’ Ah need a guard now so’s Ah don’t miss it. Ah got permission from Luna, y’all can check.” She looked at Shining Armor, then Armet, then Fizzlepop, and smiled as she pointed at her. “She’ll do. She looks tough.”

Fizzlepop and Armet both rolled their eyes. “Officer Fizzlepop Berrytwist – ”

Quoi?” Trixie interrupted at the name. “Mais, does Luna pick y’all based on how weird your name sound considerin’ your jobs? That’s like a cake store owner bein’ named Bloody Harvest or – ”

Trixie!” Armet interrupted, shouting. Trixie let out yelp of fright, stumbling backwards – and behind Shining Armor, who couldn’t stop himself from reflexively stepping to shield the frightened filly more. “I don’t. Have time. For your games. And after what you just pulled I’m absolutely certain that Luna will see fit to cancel your little trip into Canterlot.”

Trixie’s eyes widened as she came out from behind Shining. “Non…” she intoned. “But…it was only a joke! Ah didn’ mean nothin’ by it! An’ this is the last showin’ an’ Ah ain’t managed to get t’ any of the others an’ it won’t be comin’ back for years an’ years – ”

Armet, if anything, looked even more furious. Shining stood up a little straighter. “Captain, if I may…I believe the point that Officer Berrytwist was trying to make before we were interrupted,” he flicked at one of Trixie’s ears with a hoof, “merits some consideration. You said yourself that she is exceeding most unicorn and even pegasus standards and has been a model officer in the Guard.” He looked down to Trixie. “Also after this interruption I think all of our trains of thought are shot. We should probably pick up where we left off tomorrow, ma’am.”

Trixie opened her mouth to add her opinion, but Shining’s horn glowed pink and encased her in a shield bubble, cancelling the sound. The young unicorn glared at Shining, her eyes actually taking on a pinkish-blue glow as she did so.

Armet, meanwhile, looked to Shining. “You sticking your neck out for her doesn’t help with the perception of her being an appointee of yours,” she noted.

“I’d do the same for any of the officers under my command, ma’am,” Shining said. “When I first met Officer Berrytwist, she was in a bad place. Her time in the Army and the Night Guard has improved her as a pony considerably. I think she could go much further if given the chance. That is ultimately up to you, ma’am, but that’s my opinion.”

Armet looked at Shining Armor, then Fizzlepop. She let out a long sigh, putting a hoof to her eyes. “Well, if nothing else, commander, you’re right about our trains of thought being thoroughly derailed. Officer Berrytwist, escort Trixie…wherever it is she was going, after double-checking that Luna really is letting the little reprobate out of the castle. We’ll continue this tomorrow.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Fizzlepop looked down at Trixie, not sure if she should be grateful for the reprieve or annoyed at having to play baby-sitter. Trixie, for her part, just smiled brightly back.

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Comments ( 30 )

The trotting speed requirements were based somewhat on real world horse speeds, but between the fact that these are, after all, little ponies, plus the fact that I know nearly nothing about real-world horses, I’m sure they’re off. If anyone wants to provide some guesses for more accurate horse speeds, I’m all ears.

Ah, pony nudity taboos. Truly strange and bizarre in their application.

I’m sure that the answer to that is kept somewhere next to why the sky is blue.

And, wherever Twilight Sparkle was at the time, she felt the strangest urge to lecture her brother about Rayneigh scattering.

She’d heard that Luna had personally designed the armor and its glamor herself, and could only assume that the Princess had been going through a phase at the time.

The princess could neither confirm not deny that.

Nicely organic way to present Fizzlepop's altered history.

I caught that Egophiliac reference. Nice touch.

Incomprehensible Creole filly Trixie is a strangely adorable mental image.

Seeing how Fizzlepop plays out in the Lunaverse should be fascinating indeed. Looking forward to it.

9779900

I caught that Egophiliac reference.

I’m...not sure that I did. What reference are you referring to?

9779942
Oh right, that! Yeah, I had them cameo as far back as Helping...Hands?

Well, well, well, what do we have here?

Yay... this was a pretty fun start to things. The bits about tribalism between Nocturn and Fizzlepop/Tempest were nicely played out. Potential parallels to racial segregation in our world are of course obvious, but at the same time it very much is a reality in Equestria that three tribe could never really be held to entirely the same standard, what when 1/3 ponies can fly while another 1/3 can levitate objects with their minds, so on and so forth. Splitting those differences while trying to treat every one fairly has to be a tricky balancing act.

The show gag was cute, and maybe not even entirely unreasonable despite the fact that as AJ would put it, ponies don't normally wear clothes. After all when wet fur is matted down certain... anatomical features might be more visible than they otherwise casually would be.

Trixie's accent did catch me a little off guard, but I suppose it makes sense and even makes this glimpse into her past all the more distinct, if a little hard to parse.

Looking, Fizzlepop found herself looking at Nocturne,

You might want to try cleaning this segment up, repeated word in proximity like that can make a sentence awkward to read.

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Oh, and about the distance speed thing. I couldn't really find any numbers specifically for ponies, but a apparently a typical horse marathon is 26 miles run in just a little over an hour, with longer marathon being a 100 miles run over the course of a day with intermittent rests. However, both of those would probably be more akin to the collapse from exhaustion after words types of exertion. A more average distance a horse can be expected to travel in one day is 20-30 miles, with a well trained horse able to travel about twice that.

Of course how any of this translates to ponies, especially "little" ones is harder to say. On the one hoof they've got shorter legs and so probably can't go nearly as fast, but on the other hoof their smaller frames might give them more stamina over distance. Of further consideration, since MLP equines posses various other human-like characteristics, it might be entirely unreasonable to average horse and human physical capabilities together.

Or, just stick with what you've got. Equestria is after all its own world that can be entirely distinct from our own, and despite appearances its residents are really more so just pony shaped aliens.

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Well, I’m also specifically using a trot, which is more akin to a jog than full-on running (you’re describing a gallop). From what I’ve learned, there are four gaits for horses: walk, trot, canter, and gallop. The low-end speed for each (which is what I based these on, assuming that the low end represents smaller horses) are:

Walk: 4 mph
Trot: 8 mph
Canter: 12 mph
Gallop: 25 mph

When soldiers in the army “run” as part of their exercise, based on what I’ve observed, they’re really jogging, or at least aren’t full-on running at their best possible speed, since that is exhausting and expecting a soldier to full-on run for any significant length of time is a good way to end up with a dead soldier. So since a trot is roughly analogous to a jog, I used that as the base for a normal, everyday pony. Since the Night Guard are supposed to be elite, though, I added arbitrary miles per hour to each to represent that.

But again, I know nothing about horses. Or soldiering, really. So I’ll be glad for any help offered.

Potential parallels to racial segregation in our world are of course obvious

While yes, to be honest I’m also thinking of sexual segregation to an extent. The standards for men and women in the Armed Forces are different — higher for men, and few women can consistently meet the male standards.

It’s a touchy subject, obviously. But, that’s why I’m looking at it through the lens of ponies and analogy. And also not stating my opinions on the matter, just telling a story.

An interesting introduction to Tempest.

And Trixie has a point. Some of the names of these guards are pretty unusual.
After all, what kind of name is "Nocturne" for a guard?

Don't think it's an especially good idea of Shining, Fizzle and Opal to be giving Lil' Trixie pointers on how to get away with impersonating a Princess, though.
... eh, what's the worst thing that could happen?

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I considered that and I’m actually considering adding a line to the effect of Luna having a standing order to the ponies working in the castle to actually tell Trixie how to improve her magic when she asks and is caught in the act. Or at least her Night Guard.

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I mean, it's under the general heading of "Magic Practice", she's in the kid age range, and she was even using it to get an escort instead of breezing out of the castle alone. I'm sure there's some kind of charge for impersonating the Princess, but it's not like she was wandering into the Vault Of Dangerous Stuff or searching up state secrets to sell.
Given her characterisation in the Lunaverse, the adorable shine wears off pretty quick.

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Can't see that going wrong, either.

"Wait a minute, Your Highness. Are you asking us to be a deliberately bad influence on Trixie?"
"No. Just a creative influence."
"... and the difference is?"
"*Luna smirks knowingly* Up to you to decide."

:rainbowlaugh: Now I so badly want to see a cake shop owner named Bloody Harvest. They could have grown up on a Blood Orange farm before discovering that their talent lay in making cakes.

Loving this so far. I'm really invested in Berrytwist's plight but young Trixie just stole the show. It's just so much fun seeing this little prench trouble maker let loose and seeing how everyone reacts to her shenanigans.

Looking forward to seeing more

This was fun. Think perhaps it could've used a more introductory chapter and a...normal day with Fizzle before we got into her nearly killing herself in over extertion. But all in all this was a good read, and an interesting add to your universe. Thanks for sharing!

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It’s not complete; there’s still more to come.

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Yeah, once I added Trixie-as-Luna to the scene the words started flying from my fingers. Trixie is always fun to write for.

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Okay, yeah, yoinking this.

Canterlot Castle had only been renovated to have hot running water a few years ago, but to Princess Luna’s credit the first place to get the showers had been the barracks for her Night Guard, a reward to her elite corps of bodyguards for nearly a millennium of loyal service to the Crown.

I'm a little surprised hot running water is such a new thing, didn't the Romans have that?

Interesting in universe discussion about the various tribes, given the different physical characteristics that has to be something that comes up again and again. I'm a bit surprised that the Pegasus requirement actually has a land speed requirement I'd think everything would be flight speed.

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The Romans did, but they achieved it with manual labor from slaves. Fizzy here is referring to something established back in Apprenticeship, that Canterlot Castle had just been renovated to have hot-and-cold water mixer taps, which in the real world were invented in 1880.

Though now that I re-read that, it’s not entirely clear. I’ll edit it in a bit.

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I realize that. Just meant that I would've liked more her as a younger filly to start. Rather then starting in the middle of things. Even if it was just a shorter scene to start the piece. Think it would've added more to this.

So... the punishment for murder is... like, two centuries in stone or... ?

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Fizzlepop will probably not kill Trixie. Probably.

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Self-defense.

Okay, so I've never seen the movie, full confession there. I'm liking Fizzlepop so far. She's a real determinator. Armet... something about her is whispering, "Punch her," in my ear. Then again that could just be me. :p Trixie was great. Her accented speech was friggin' adorable.

Creole Trixie is one of those things that just works once you see it. I look forward to future installments.

I found the 'Prenglish' well done. Trixie's mother tongue only shows through mispronunciation or using French words when she's caught off guard. The only exception to that last point is the second "un moment," which I can't picture her using if she knows both words in English; although she might mispronounce 'moment.'

Using italics for Prench as well as for emphasis might prove troublesome in the future because of the words spelled the same way in both languages, incidentally.

I wasn't impressed with the beginning of the story. Fizzlepop's rebuttal to Nocturne amounted to 'why don't you move to Racistopia, population: probably slavers?' whereas Nocturne herself felt more like a walking info dump than an actual character to me. Captain Opal Armet also majored in exposition, but there's more to her than just telling the reader what's going on.

The narration itself tends to provide information as well, I've found. All this exposition may be necessary, since this is an alternate universe, but I'm not sure all of it is required; at least in the very first chapter. There's also one instance that is just jarring to me: stating Nocturne's "pegasus resistance to temperatures." I just don't see how it's necessary to mention it in the first place.

The other issue I have with this specific line is that, as I've written, the narration states that trait. I believe it would have felt more natural—or at least a little less 'info-dumpy'—if you had woven that piece of information in Fizzlepop's internal musing. Another opportunity for merging exposition and getting in her head could have been Fizzlepop thanking her luck (or rather what little she usually has of it) that she wasn't promoted to the Night Guard just a few years earlier, because then she'd have to suffer through the same cold showers she had to deal with in the Royal Army.

There was also "aching" being used twice in the same sentence as soon as the second paragraph, with "ached" appearing in the very first sentence of the story to boot, which really didn't endear me to the beginning. Neither did hanging the lampshade on the 'nudity' of ponies.

It gets better after the scene break, though.

I particularly liked the lines about "Princesses being for looking, not touching" and assuming that Luna "had been going through a phase at the time." And I actually felt bad for Fizzlepop; it must have been heartwrenching to have truly believed she had her horn back only to remember it was merely her armor's enchantment at work one moment later.

I really like Fizzlepop in this. Trying to fit in and prove her worth at any cost, especially that there's some serious gratitude in there. I feel she might become the poster mare for a quote from another universe: "Better to die having exhausted one's strength than to fail without ever reaching your limits."

Another thing I liked about her requires some explanation. Tempest Shadow has been pigeonholed into military matters in the fandom from what I've seen; usually as Twilight's bodyguard or as the founder of her royal guard, and possibly because she's deemed to have lived too long as a soldier to readjust easily to civilian life.

Here, 'Tempest' is once more in the army, which sounds like digging the pigeonhole deeper... but that's not the case, because it's actually justified here.

The details amount to "she was in a bad place," but it was Shining Armor who got the opportunity to help her. Shining Armor, who had just recently joined the Night Guard and probably spent years before in the Royal Army. It makes entire sense for his help to remain within the domain of the military. He also mentions he "believed she had talent," and he's bound to be very perceptive—or blinkered—to skills that would make one achieve success in the army.

He may also have realized the 'fire' that brewed in her heart. Or Fizzlepop could simply only be good at anything in the army. That's possible—she was nothing more than a homing missile with anger issues in the movie, after all—and may have looked that way to Shining Armor depending on the circumstances of their first meeting.

I don't have anything more to say regarding Shining Armor, other than I find hilarious that he's the only stallion in this chapter and all the other Night Guards are mares. A sharp contrast from the show, that's for sure. Another thing I found hilarious is how he shut Trixie up when she "opened her mouth to add her opinion."

Captain Opal Armet, for her part, seemed professional and generally annoyed at the situation she found herself in; or at least annoyed at Officer Fizzlepop and Trixie. Exceptions appear to be made about them—I doubt someone who's not Luna's personal student would have fared so well after starting a fire in an embassy, accidentally or not—and I guess that's what gets on her nerves, though I'm not sure that's whether because she's a stickler for the rules or because she considers it unfair on principle.

Either way, I liked that she wasn't presented as a bad guy (outside of staring a little too often at Fizzlepop's horn). She could have been written as never understanding Trixie's deception whereas Shining Armor and Fizzlepop obviously did, after all, and she wasn't.

Finally, I found a few typos;

Commanding officers weren’t supposed to necessarily liked by their subordinates, just obeyed.

be liked

He didn’t deserve that, and certainly not a review about her.

in a review

an’ it won’t be commin’ back for years an’ years

comin'

9787712
I'm about to have a very long, very bad day at work, the fourth of six, on a day where I'm not supposed to work at all and should instead be playing D&D with my friends...so this comment cheered me up immensely and will help me get through it! :twilightsmile: Seriously, I am a vampire for responses, so waking up to this has put me in a great mood.

Let's see, there's a fair bit of ground to cover...

Using italics for Prench as well as for emphasis might prove troublesome in the future because of the words spelled the same way in both languages, incidentally.

I intend to make it clear through context whether we're getting Equestrian or Prench for the rest of the story; the only time I intended to deliberately play with it was when "Luna" pronounced minute like in Prench, Otherwise at least the way I was taught was that you always italicize foreign-language words, and when writing a sentence in italics if you want to emphasize a word in it, you simply don't italicize that particular word. Heut' ist mein Tag. Like that. That being said I don't intend to include any long passages in Prench or any other foreign language because, among other things, I only speak two languages myself: English and Bad English. So I doubt people who can speak other languages particularly want to see those languages mangled by me. Mon aéroglisseur est plein d'anguilles.

whereas Nocturne herself felt more like a walking info dump than an actual character to me.

Yeah, kind of, and it's a recurring problem for me. Can you tell that as a kid my YA novels of choice were the Animorphs series? Every one of those books begins more-or-less the same way, with a bit of an in-character info-dump about the basic setting and plot of the series, and it's easy to see where and how that influenced me as a writer (also my first fanfiction was an Animorphs one). They were sticking to novelized variant of an old maxim of the comic industry, I suppose: "every comic is someone's first comic". I've always written with that in the back of my mind whether I wanted it there or not, that any story I write in a given series might be the first one that someone reads, and thus the result is that the first chapters of most stories I write tend to be fairly exposition-heavy.

Which isn't always a good trait. I'll see if I can clean things up a bit in the beginning, make things feel more organic.

Better to die having exhausted one's strength than to fail without ever reaching your limits.

Warhamer 40,000, I think? Perteburo, if Google is right. I have a weird relationship with that game line and universe. There's a lot in it I like, but also a lot I don't, and I don't think Games Workshop has done the series all the favors it could have. In particular I think that they've steadily ruined what was to me one of the best moments of the background lore, that of the Lone Guardsman Olanius Pius standing up to Horus to defend the Emperor even though he had an exactly 0% chance of doing anything. Horus kills him even though Pius was no threat whatsoever and couldn't slow him down in the slightest, and that action was the thing that finally prompted the Emperor to act directly against Horus, the sign that Horus was too far gone to even entertain trying to save, since it was roughly equivalent to a grown man curbstomping a baby.

These days it turns out Pius was some kind of immortal or something and an old friend of the Emperor's (rather than just a common man) and he's been reborn like a dozen times over since the Horus Heresey. And also Games Workshop keeps stepping up the "last line" from a single Guardsman to like an entire regiment. I think there were baneblades there now too.

other than I find hilarious that he's the only stallion in this chapter and all the other Night Guards are mares.

Actually an amusing coincidence rather than a deliberate joke on my part. I'd had a throwaway line years ago in another story that Shining Armor's predecessor as Captain of the Guard was an earth pony mare, so here we're getting to see her for the first time (and she gets a name!). Since Tempest Shadow was the main character obviously she's a shoe-in. And Nocturne is, in the Lunaverse, Scootaloo's mom, and I decided to have her cameo.

Anyway. I'll fix the spelling mistakes now, and I'll see about cleaning up the first part of the chapter later, when I have more time. Thanks for the comment!

9787802

I'm about to have a very long, very bad day at work, the fourth of six, on a day where I'm not supposed to work at all and should instead be playing D&D with my friends...so this comment cheered me up immensely and will help me get through it! :twilightsmile: Seriously, I am a vampire for responses, so waking up to this has put me in a great mood.

You're welcome. I write comments to help and inspire people, so I'm glad to know they're working as intended. And thank you for replying; it's always a little disheartening to spend genuine hours writing and finetuning comments only for them to be ignored.

I intend to make it clear through context whether we're getting Equestrian or Prench for the rest of the story; the only time I intended to deliberately play with it was when "Luna" pronounced minute like in Prench, Otherwise at least the way I was taught was that you always italicize foreign-language words, and when writing a sentence in italics if you want to emphasize a word in it, you simply don't italicize that particular word. Heut' ist mein Tag. Like that. That being said I don't intend to include any long passages in Prench or any other foreign language because, among other things, I only speak two languages myself: English and Bad English. So I doubt people who can speak other languages particularly want to see those languages mangled by me. Mon aéroglisseur est plein d'anguilles.

Good point about emphasis in italicized sentences, it had slipped my mind. And it certainly was pleasing to see all the French used—and spelled—correctly.

Neigh Orleans intrigues me, although perhaps I'm just too amused by Trixie 'Southern Belle' Lulamoon's accent. And I'm also wondering if there are some 'Caneighdians' out there... although I probably messed the pronunciation, and thus the pun.

Yeah, kind of, and it's a recurring problem for me. Can you tell that as a kid my YA novels of choice were the Animorphs series? Every one of those books begins more-or-less the same way, with a bit of an in-character info-dump about the basic setting and plot of the series, and it's easy to see where and how that influenced me as a writer (also my first fanfiction was an Animorphs one). They were sticking to novelized variant of an old maxim of the comic industry, I suppose: "every comic is someone's first comic". I've always written with that in the back of my mind whether I wanted it there or not, that any story I write in a given series might be the first one that someone reads, and thus the result is that the first chapters of most stories I write tend to be fairly exposition-heavy.

Which isn't always a good trait. I'll see if I can clean things up a bit in the beginning, make things feel more organic.

As I mentioned, my only real issue with the exposition was the part about Nocturne's nature as a pegasus, because I didn't consider it necessary. I didn't find the other parts unnecessary per se, but rather perhaps introduced too soon. It's only the first chapter, after all.

And the "perhaps" is here for a reason. I don't have that much experience writing myself.

They also missed the opportunity to get in Fizzlepop's head, again as I mentioned, but that's me and my obsession with getting the voices of the characters into the narration, and sometimes leaving some bits of characterization here and there in the process.

And I'm sure I have several instances of 'narrative info dumps' in my countless drafts, too.

Actually an amusing coincidence rather than a deliberate joke on my part. I'd had a throwaway line years ago in another story that Shining Armor's predecessor as Captain of the Guard was an earth pony mare, so here we're getting to see her for the first time (and she gets a name!). Since Tempest Shadow was the main character obviously she's a shoe-in. And Nocturne is, in the Lunaverse, Scootaloo's mom, and I decided to have her cameo.

Whether deliberate or not, the results are the same; I was thoroughly amused.

I wouldn't put it past canon Celestia to have the armors' enchantment make the mares look like stallions either. She always did have an interesting sense of humor.

Anyway. I'll fix the spelling mistakes now, and I'll see about cleaning up the first part of the chapter later, when I have more time. Thanks for the comment!

Again, you're welcome. And I see you've already dealt with 'ache & co;' I like the new sentence.

Finally, you are right about Warhammer 40,000 and Olanius Pius; however, private messages are probably a better place to talk about it if you're interested. This comments section is about A Day in Canterlot, after all.

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To be honest most of my 40K lore knowledge comes from perusing 1d4chan and osmosis from hanging out of 4chan rather than having actually read any of it or played the game, though I do intend to sit down and read the Commissar Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!!) series at some point.

9779900

Nudity is also arbitrary among humans. In my beach a woman can go topless without anyone giving a damn, but she better refrains herself from doing the same in the nearby town's streets.

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Right! I cleaned up the introduction a little to make it a little more in-character and organic. I also decided to just cut directly mentioning pegasus temperature resistance and instead only allude to it with Nocturne not caring about the cold water. It's not likely to be relevant in this story as it's plotted in my head in any event and is more a result of me always trying to keep the three tribes of ponies in balance against one another.

I did keep the nudity joke, though...it's personally amusing to me, though I did make it a little plainer that Nocturne is mostly doing it to keep Shining's focus on her instead of on Fizzy while she calms down from the argument they were having. I didn't edit Nocturne's info-dumping, though, partially because I can't think of a way to fill the scene up enough otherwise, and partly because Nocturne is sort of being a mouthpiece for the typical pony approach to the situation of having three tribes with wildly different abilities and limitations trying to live in an equal society.

Thanks again for the comment! I'll work hard to make sure chapter 2 is up to snuff, but don't be afraid to ream me for any/all mistakes.

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Right! I cleaned up the introduction a little to make it a little more in-character and organic. I also decided to just cut directly mentioning pegasus temperature resistance and instead only allude to it with Nocturne not caring about the cold water. It's not likely to be relevant in this story as it's plotted in my head in any event and is more a result of me always trying to keep the three tribes of ponies in balance against one another.

I did keep the nudity joke, though...it's personally amusing to me, though I did make it a little plainer that Nocturne is mostly doing it to keep Shining's focus on her instead of on Fizzy while she calms down from the argument they were having. I didn't edit Nocturne's info-dumping, though, partially because I can't think of a way to fill the scene up enough otherwise, and partly because Nocturne is sort of being a mouthpiece for the typical pony approach to the situation of having three tribes with wildly different abilities and limitations trying to live in an equal society.

I like the new introduction although, as I've mentioned, I am slightly obsessed with in-character narration. It might be useful to find someone else's opinion on this; I don't know anyone else on FIMFiction who write text walls for comments, though.

The pegasi's racial traits, along with the reference to Zaldia incidentally, go back to the same 'problem:' it's a fine balance between world-building and mentioning what's necessary—only what's "relevant to the plot," as you said, for example. Nocturne's info dump strikes me close to the unnecessary end of the scale, but perhaps that's because she was preaching to the choir when I read the chapter. What really threw me off, however, was that it felt entirely out of the blue. If Fizzlepop hadn't been lamenting that "but without the fireworks – without unicorn magic that was worth anything – and without wings – then she had to make the earth pony standards, didn’t she?" later on, it would look exactly like this to me: unnecessary and out of the blue.

And again, poor Fizzlepop. I actually feel sorry for her in this story.

She remains in character—by which I mean she's clueless and gets so many things wrong—though; she did understand Nocturne's comment to mean "separate but equal" when Equestria is more about 'different but equal.' Assuming she simply didn't say the first barb that came to mind to get Nocturne to shut the hell up.

Speaking of Nocturne, I forgot to mention I loved this line of hers: "it’s real hard to not ever bring up your horn when you make everything about your horn." You don't major in exposition without being able to tell it like it is, that's for sure.

About the 'nudity' scene; nice update. Since they're in the showers—a very slippery place—, I feel the real issue with sticking one's head into the room and speaking is that it can surprise the people inside and make them fall, potentially hurting or even wounding them. But I guess that Nocturne yelling that at Shining Armor wouldn't have worked so well. Or at least made him yell back.

There's something else I hadn't mentioned before. Something I'm curious about, but wasn't delved into because Captain Armet was interrupted.

Isn't there some sort of 'auxiliary corps' where Fizzlepop could serve? A place where the willing and loyal citizens who don't fit the general military standards can still serve and prove a valuable asset to their country? A group of sanctioned volunteers that don't have the same duties and expectations as the Royal Army and the Night Guard? Sure, if they have looser standards, Fizzlepop won't be proving as much as she seems desperate to, but perhaps she won't check out on the racing track either.

As I mentioned, Opal Armet never got to her point. I'm half-wondering, half-wishing if/that she had been pestering Luna behind the scenes to create such a group if it doesn't already exist or to greenlight sending Fizzlepop there.

I mean, outside of being Trixie's baby-sitter, which does qualify as serving the realm (and probably limiting the damages as well) but isn't quite what I had in mind.

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