• Published 4th Nov 2020
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Another Side of Friendship: Pony Tails - The Great Twixie

The continued adventures of Twilight and her new friends.

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Professor Starlight

Being a tutor at Princess Luna’s School for Gifted Unicorns can be as rewarding as it is frustrating. In the case of her current student, it was no reward and all frustration.

The room that the school had given her as a tutoring space looked like it had been ransacked by a herd of angry buffalo. The tables had been overturned and two of them had been snapped in half. The walls were plastered in an assortment of cupcake batter, confetti strips, glitter, and narwhals. Poor Phyllis the Plant had been turned every color in the rainbow and was now the home for a spider wearing a top hat. And yet, somehow, the only thing in the room that hadn’t been touched was the gigantic bull’s-eye on the opposite wall.

Starlight felt her eyelid twitch furiously. It was taking all her will power not to snap the horn off the excited blonde filly bouncing around next to her.

“Um, maybe we should stop here for today,” Starlight suggested through gritted teeth. “We can pick this up next week if you’d like – “

“No, wait, I can do this!” the filly exclaimed confidently.

“Please, let’s just call it a – “

The filly ignored her tutor and poured all her energy into her next spell, which somehow manifested as a massive glob of murky-red gelatin. The jelly blob flew across the room and was on course with hitting the target…when it suddenly stopped in midair, inches from the bull’s-eye, and catapult backwards from whence it came. Starlight, too exhausted from the day’s events, didn’t even try to dodge and was splattered from hoof-to-horn in jelly.

The exasperated unicorn blinked slowly, licking her lips, and muttered a tired, “Mmm, strawberry.”

A soft knocking alerted them of somepony at the door before they let themselves in. An elderly, withered-looking unicorn mare stepped inside the room, pausing to take a surprised doubletake of the disaster area. Starlight automatically tensed up. It was Professor Inkwell, one of the school’s senior instructors and the highest authority figure next to Princess Luna.

“I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” said Professor Inkwell, carefully stepping over patches of jelly, glitter, and discarded narwhals.

“N-no, no, we were just finishing up!” Starlight stammered. “Isn’t that right, Starco?”

“But I wanted to – “

“Get a head start on your magicology homework?” Starlight interrupted with the biggest fake smile her teeth could stand. She levitated the filly and practically punted her out into the hallway. “Well, I guess you oughta get move on! They call it home-work for a reason!”

“But – “

Starlight slammed the door so hard, the entire wall shuddered and left a few cracks in the plaster. Professor Inkwell was still looking around at the catastrophe the filly had created with a quirked brow. A sweat was starting the break on Starlight’s brow.

“Uh, lemme get that real quick!” she yelped frantically. The lilac mare unleashed a pulse wave of magic from her horn and everything it touched was miraculously returned to its previous state, including Phyllis! “There, that’s better.”

“I see you are making yourself comfortable,” said Professor Inkwell with a humorous undertone. “It’s been a few months since you joined our prestigious school, Miss Glimmer. How have you been? Any problems or concerns?”

“Oh, no, things have been great, Professor Inkwell,” said Starlight optimistically. “Being able to shape the minds of young colts and fillies is a privilege I am grateful for. Which is something I never thought I would say given my whole ‘anti-cutie mark vendetta’ phase.” She tapped her muzzle, humming hesitantly. “Although, some of the students I help tend to be…”

“Little annoying snots?” Professor Inkwell offered.

“I was going to say difficult, but we’ll go with that,” said Starlight, chuckling.

“Believe me, you haven’t seen anything yet,” said Professor Inkwell amusingly. “You should’ve been here when Trixie Lulamoon was a student. She was always causing some kind of commotion with one thing or another. Though that hardly compares to the trouble Twilight Sparkle would always get up to. She was the worst student I ever had.”

“I have so many questions...,” Starlight mumbled out loud.

“Ah, but I didn’t come here to reminisce,” said Professor Inkwell. “I have a favor to ask of you, Miss Glimmer.”

“What sort of favor?” Starlight asked curiously.

“I am attending a teacher’s conference in Fillydelphia for a few days starting tomorrow,” Professor Inkwell informed her. “While I am away, I wish for you to fill in for my Advanced Spellcasting class.”

“You want me to be a teacher?” Starlight gasped.

“It is on a temporary basis,” Professor Inkwell clarified. “I have already planned out the lessons for the days that I am away, so you will be adequately prepared. All you need to do is show up and teach.”

“Wow, my own class,” said Starlight dreamily. “I’ll be like a real teacher. Well, substitute teacher, but it still counts! But are you sure you want me to fill in? Shouldn’t one of the other professors do it? I don’t even have a teaching license.”

“Just between you and me,” Professor Inkwell leaned in, whispering conspiratorially in Starlight’s ear. “More than half the teachers in this school don’t have licenses. And I’m pretty sure most of them aren’t even real teachers.”

“…I grow more concerned for the safety of the kingdom with each passing day,” Starlight commented.

“Regardless, I feel that you are more than qualified to instruct the students while I am away,” said Professor Inkwell. “And if things go well, I may even consider offering a permanent position in our academia.”

“You can count on me, professor!” Starlight chimed with a happy salute. “I promise, I won’t let you down!”

“You got offered a teaching position?” Twilight gasped, clapping her hooves cheerfully. “That’s wonderful, Starlight! I’m so proud of you!”

Starlight had left Princess Luna’s school with a skip in her step, practically buzzing to tell somepony the good news. Luckily, she had found Twilight, Spike, and Moon Dancer sitting outside Cinnamon Chai’s Tea and Cake Shop. No doubt Moon Dancer was taking advantage of Trixie being preoccupied with her future bar to spend some quality time with the oblivious mare. She certainly looked annoyed when Starlight plopped down in the chair between her and Twilight, but annoyance gave way to excitement after Starlight shared the new.

“I’m only substituting for a few days,” Starlight tried to sound humble, but she couldn’t erase the goofy grin on her muzzle. “But if I do a good job, they might consider signing me on full time.”

“You’ve more than earned it,” Moon Dancer complimented. “Some of the students come by the book shop to purchase their reading materials and they all say Starlight Glimmer is the best tutor ever.”

“Well, the only pony they have to compare me to is Twilight,” said Starlight teasingly. “And we all know what a disaster that turned out to be.”

“Hey, that colt went on to discover evolution!” Twilight snapped defensively. “You should be thanking me!”

“So what class are you teaching?” asked Spike.

“Professor Inkwell’s Advanced Spellcasting class,” Starlight answered brightly.

“Ugh, those classes were the worst,” Twilight groaned. “Professor Inkwell always gave me such a hard time, even when I did everything perfectly – which I always do, by the way.”

“It’s amazing your ego could even fit through the door,” said Spike, rolling his eyes.

“Yeah, I remember she never liked you back in school,” Moon Dancer commented.

“She always held a grudge against me all because of one incident,” Twilight complained.

“An incident you repeated twenty-seven times,” Spike pointed out.

“Hey, fourteen of those were your fault, if I recall correctly!” Twilight snapped; Spike shrugged his shoulder nonchalantly and went back to his ruby-encrusted cheesecake.

“So many questions…,” Starlight muttered.

“Anyway, I know you’ll do well in class, Starlight,” said Moon Dancer confidently. “You’re a natural teacher. Those colts and fillies will be lucky to have you.”

“You can’t be any worse than Professor Inkwell,” Twilight grumbled.

“But a word of advice,” said Moon Dancer, suddenly serious. “First impressions are everything. What you do will reflect on how they see you as a teacher.”

“Gee, no pressure or anything,” said Starlight sarcastically.

“If you want my advice, try make friends with the students,” Twilight offered. “You know, be open, honest, and comforting. Make them feel like you're somepony they would want to get along with. And always make sure to smile. Research shows that smiling makes ponies feel more at ease. And be sure not to go too hard on them or they might react negatively to the situation."

“Like that colt you made drop out?” asked Spike.

Discovered – evolution!” Twilight shouted, slamming her hoof on the table, making the plates clatter.

“On an unrelated matter,” Moon Dancer quickly backtracked. “Twilight might have the right idea. Building trust with the students would be a good place to start. From what I remember at school, Professor Inkwell was always strict with everypony and it made her very unpopular with the students. They might respond better to a…softer touch.”

“Yeah…yeah, okay, I can do that,” said Starlight. She felt a twinge of uncertainty in her chest, but taking advice from her friends was better than going in without a battle plan. “Right, make friends with the students, make a good first impression. Should be easy…right?”

Starlight made sure to come to the school an hour early to prepare herself and calm her nerves. The plan backfired because the strenuous period of awkward silence left her alone with her thoughts, which ran through every worst-case scenario possible.

She wanted to make a good first impression with the students, so she went to Sassy Saddles the previous day to pick out a new outfit. The mare had hooked Starlight up with a dark pink power suit that exuded confidence, and (hopefully) hid the fact that she had no idea what she was doing.

After the warning bell had rang, everypony had stampeded to their respective classrooms, leaving the halls thankfully empty so that no one could bother Starlight as she made her way to Professor Inkwell’s classroom. In what seemed like no time at all, the lilac mare found herself standing outside the Advanced Spellcasting, able to hear the student chattering on the other side of the door. Starlight paused and performed a few deep breathing exercises that Twilight had shown her. Surprisingly, she felt a bit more relaxed, but not completely.

“Okay, Starlight, you can do this,” she said to herself. “Be strong, be confident, and be friendly.”

She exhaled one final deep breath and turned the knob with her horn. There was a flurry of motion and a cacophony of scraping seats as the door swung inward. When she stepped inside, all the young colts and fillies were in their seats, sitting up straight and staring ahead resolutely. Professor Inkwell had a commanding presence in the classroom, Starlight realized.

There were a lot of confused faces on the student’s expressions as the lilac mare waltzed in. She set her briefcase on Professor Inkwell’s desk and stood in front of the blackboard, giving the students the biggest encouraging smile she could muster.

“Hello, class,” Starlight greeted sweetly. She levitated a piece of chalk and wrote her name on the board in fancy looped cursive. “My name is Starlight Glimmer. But you can call me Starlight, or Professor Glimmer if that’s what you’re comfortable with. I – “

“Aren’t you the school tutor?” a bright-orange filly near the back interrupted. “Isn’t your office on the other side of the school.”

“I bet she got lost,” a white colt in the second row snickered.

“No, I didn’t get lost, though that would be pretty funny, wouldn’t it?” Starlight chuckled nervously. “But, yeah, no, I’m substituting for Professor Inkwell. Now according to – “

“What happened to Professor Inkwell?” the same orange filly interrupted again.

“It’s very rude to interrupt somepony while they’re talking, Miss…,” Starlight said, her smile twitching uncomfortably.

“Chief Maker,” said the orange filly.

“Well, Miss Chief Maker,” said Starlight. “To answer your question, Professor Inkwell is away at a conference, so I will be handling her classes for the next few days.”

“So old ironflanks is out on vacay, eh?" a lime-green colt said haughtily, kicking his hooves up on the seat in front of him, to the annoyance of the filly sitting there.

“Er, I don’t think Professor Inkwell would like you calling her that,” said Starlight anxiously.

“Excuse me, Professor Glimmer, but I do believe we are getting off track,” a nasally filly with taped glasses interjected. “It has already been six minutes and thirty-six seconds since class has started and I do believe we are – “

“Aw, cram it, nerd!” Chief Maker shouted, tossing a paper ball at the filly’s head.

“No, no, she’s right, we should get started on the lesson,” said Starlight, grateful for the change of subject. “Now, according to the lesson plans that Professor Inkwell left with me, you’re studying transmogrification this week.”

Starlight grabbed the chalk with her horn and started drawing a diagram of the different phases of matter on the board.

“Transmogrification is easy to understand, even if it’s difficult in practice,” Starlight explained, speaking more confidently as she wrote on the board. The actual teaching part was where she shined. “It is the art of altering matter at a subatomic level, or to put it simply, changing an object from one thing or another. Ancient unicorns developed the concept of transmogrification based on the observation of Changelings – “


Starlight’s train of through derailed and the chalk scratched across the board, making a loud screeching noise that caused everypony to cover their ears. The lilac mare paused in momentary silence before she heard the loud “crunch! again. Starlight spun around, bewildered, following the noise halfway up the rows.

The colt who had kicked up their hooves had somehow acquired a bag of potato chips. He chewed on another chip with a distractive “crunch!” and the filly who was sitting in front of him winced, shooting a heated glare over her shoulder. The colt noticed her and Starlight’s stares, but didn’t seem to think much of them as he continued eating unnecessarily loud.

“Um, I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be eating in class,” said Starlight timidly.

“I’m hungry,” the colt explained though a mouthful of chip, aggravating the filly in front of him with every crunch. “And I didn’t eat breakfast this morning.”

“Well, I don’t think potato chips are a very good substitute for a balanced breakfast,” Starlight commented. “Regardless, I would ask that you please put those away so we can continue the lesson.”

“Ugh, so lame,” the colt rolled his eyes, but complied with her wishes and stuffed the bag of chips somewhere out of sight. The filly in front of him shot him with a condescending smirk.

Starlight sighed with relief. One disaster reverted.

She turned back to the blackboard and continued, “As I was saying, ancient unicorns developed transmogrification based on the Changeling, noting how they could completely alter their physical forms to match their desired shape. No significant progress was made until Star Swirl the Bearded – EEP!”

Starlight nearly jumped out of her suit as a large, wet spit wad slapped the blackboard, smudging her impressive drawing of Star Swirl. The students snickered behind their hooves, immediately looking away and whistling nonchalantly as the substitute rounded on them. Starlight narrowed her eyes suspiciously, but said nothing. She ripped the spit wad off the board with her magic, dumped it in the trash bin, and resumed her lesson.

“…Star Swirl the Bearded journeyed through the Sibearian Tundra and encountered a group of scientists called Anti-Entro – OH, COME ON!”

Another spit wad – even larger than the first one – had smacked the blackboard and sprayed spittle all over Starlight’s face. The lilac mare gagged while her students laughed themselves silly, some of them banging their hooves. Starlight frowned; her ears folded down sadly. This was not going the way she had hoped.

“Okay, maybe we can skip the background information and go straight to the practical lesson,” said Starlight. That seemed to catch their interest, several of them leaning forward eagerly. Starlight used her horn to unlatch her briefcase. “I thought we could make this lesson a little more fun. And nothing says fun like…CAKE!”

She spun her briefcase around with a flourish, revealing several whole cakes (provided by Cinnamon Chai’s Tea and Cake Shop.) The students cheered and Starlight finally felt like she had done something right. The lilac mare divided the cakes into even slices and distributed them among the students, though some of them were noticeable salivating.

“Now, now, hold your ponies,” said Starlight jokingly. “Don’t eat them just yet. I thought we could start off with something simple for the lesson. I want you all to concentrate on your cakes and think about your favorite flavor. It could be chocolate, or strawberry, or lemon meringue. Then, you are going to use your magic and transmogrify into whatever type of cake you want it to be. I don’t expect most of you to get it right on the first try. That’s why I made sure to bring extra. So don’t be afraid to….”

Starlight stuttered to a stop when her eyes fell on Chief Maker in the back row. She was leaning back in her chair, looking content, with crumbs all over her muzzle and her plate empty.

“Miss Chief Maker, did you eat your cake?” Starlight groaned.

“What?” Chief Maker shrugged. “You can’t put cake in front of me and not expect me to eat it.”

“Well, you’ll be allowed to eat it when the lesson is over,” said Starlight exasperatedly. She levitated a new slice to Chief Maker. Starlight didn’t like the way she was grinning so smugly. “Back to what I was saying, the key to transmogrification is intent. So when you’re channeling your magic, you must be – “

Starlight stammered off track yet again when Chief Maker levitated her new cake slice and threw it at the back of one of the student’s head, earning an angry glare from them.

“Miss Chief Maker!” Starlight shouted. “You’re supposed to be using that for your transmogrifying lesson! Not throwing it at the other students!”

“But I did transmogrify it,” said Chief Maker, snickering. “I turned the cake into mush using his head.” The filly openly cackled until she was served her just desserts to the face. Chief Maker glared dangerously at the colt who was snickering near the front row. “Oh, a wise pony, eh?”

“No, please don’t – “ Starlight started.

But the troublemaking filly ignored the substitute in favor of grabbing her neighbor’s slice and tossed it across the classroom. Her target ducked and ended up splattering the filly sitting behind him. The colt snickered at her misfortune until the filly picked up her own cake and smashed it into his muzzle.

“Please don’t start a – “ Starlight whimpered.


All Tartarus broke loose as colts and fillies bounced between their seats, flinging confectionary across the classroom in a whirlwind of multicolored frosting. It would be twenty minutes before another teacher would come to investigate the commotion and put an end to the impromptu cake war. By the time everypony left the classroom, they were covered from horn-to-hoof in cake batter – except for Starlight, who had been curled up in a fetal position underneath her desk.

When the final bell rang for the end of the school day, Starlight booked it out of that building faster than Sunset on Sweet Apple Cider day. The next thing she knew, Starlight was planted on a stool at Trixie’s wagon, chugging down half a dozen Fizzy Fruit Potions like an obsessive drunk. Tempest and Grubber were in the other seats, sipping their potions much more calmly as Starlight ranted over her terrible experience in the classroom.

Trixie frowned as Starlight chugged another of her product, slammed it on the counter, and demanded, “Give me another.”

“Nuh-uh, Starlight Glimmer has already consumed more than what is recommended,” Trixie denied.

“I’ll say when I’ve had enough!” hissed Starlight, slamming the bottle again. “Now give me another!”

“Sorry, but Trixie is cutting Starlight Glimmer off,” said Trixie firmly. She levitated the collection of bottles off the counter, ignoring Starlight’s pitiful whining. “Trixie is doing this as a friend, Starlight Glimmer.”

“Why does nothing ever work out for me?” Starlight moaned pathetically, slamming her forehead on the counter. Then she looked up at Trixie inquisitively and asked, “And shouldn’t you be working on your new bar right now?”

“The contractors Twilight Sparkle hired want Trixie out while they renovate Trixie’s new establishment,” said Trixie as she started wiping down the bottles. “So Trixie has been wandering around, peddling her wares, while trying to think of a new name for Trixie’s bar. What do you mares think about…Trixie’s Great and Powerful Performance Pub.”

“Eh…,” Starlight said, shaking her hoof uncertainly.

“It’s a bit extra,” Grubber commented awkwardly.

“It’s stupid,” said Tempest bluntly.

“Drat!” Trixie cursed, putting out a list from under her hat and crossing something off.

“Back to Starlight’s issue,” Tempest redirected the conversation back to the lilac mare. “You know what you did wrong, right? You were too soft. You tried being nice and they sniffed out your weakness like sharks to blood. Handing out free cake was just asking for trouble.”

“Twilight said I should try to be friendly,” Starlight mumbled.

“Twilight may be book smart, but she is pony dumb,” Trixie remarked, catching Starlight by surprise. “Starlight Glimmer is their teacher, not their friend. You need to assert your dominance over those little punks.”

“I never thought I’d say this out loud and sober,” said Tempest, “but Trixie’s right. You can’t get friendly with your students or they’ll walk all over you. Which they already did, from the looks of it.” She gestured to the goop of frosting dangling off Starlight’s mane. “Back when I was…uh, in school, my instructor was a real hardflank. I remember this one-time somepony got caught passing a note and they got flogged in front of the whole class."

“Doesn’t that seem a little excessive?” asked Starlight worriedly.

“Yes, but nopony else caused trouble again,” said Tempest with a nonchalant shrug, sipping her Fizzy Fruit Potion.

“I hope what they’re trying to say is,” Grubber chimed with his two bits, “you need to stick up for yourself. If someone starts acting up, you need to set them straight. You’re the teacher. You can’t let them push you around like that. You need to march into that classroom tomorrow and show them that you’re not taking any more of their flak!”

“Whoa, where’s this Grubber been hiding?” said Tempest with an impressed smirk.

“Hmm, yeah, I see your point,” Starlight hummed thoughtfully. “They think just because Professor Inkwell isn’t around that they can do whatever they want? Well, not anymore!” She shouted with conviction, slamming her hoof on the counter. “No more miss nice pony! Trixie! Give me another bottle!”

“Trixie already told Starlight Glimmer she is cut off,” Trixie answered calmly, inspecting the glass she just wiped.

“Well, I’m demanding you give me another bottle! NOW!” Starlight yelled with authority.

Trixie’s response was to pull the stool out from underneath Starlight’s flank, dropping her like bad habit, while still polishing off the potion bottles. Starlight groaned as she rolled on the ground, holding the spot where she bumped her head. Tempest chuckled playfully.

“You want some tips?” she asked with a teasing smile.

“Please and thank you,” Starlight whined.

The next day of school arrived and the warning bell had already gone off. Professor Inkwell’s – of should I say, Starlight’s – students had already filled the class. Unlike the previous day, none of them were in their assigned seats. They were standing around, talking to each other loudly, unafraid of getting caught by the teacher. Chief Maker had her hind hooves kicked up on the chair in front of her, her front hooves folded behind her head in a relaxed pose.

“Think she’s gonna show up today?” one of the troublemaking colts from yesterday asked her.

“After what we did, I’d be surprised if she wasn’t on her way to Yakyakistan,” Chief Maker cackled.

But when the final bell rang, the door flew open so hard, it bounced off the wall and created a spiderweb of cracks. The door had literally been kicked open by an army boot, which was levitating in the air with a familiar turquoise aura. The boot was soon followed by their substitute teacher; Chief Maker gulped loudly when she laid eyes on the sub.

Starlight had done a complete one-eighty from yesterday. Gone was the clean-cut suit and replaced by dark-green military fatigues. Her mane was slicked back with copious amounts of gel underneath a field cap, a pair of aviator glasses, a set of dog tags (that had Spitfire’s name on them) dangling around her neck, and four heavy boots on her hooves (which begged the question why she needed an extra one to kick the door.)

Starlight marched in front of the blackboard and about faced toward the students. She tilted her sunglasses with her horn, shooting a furious glare at the colts and fillies that weren’t in their seats. Needless to say, the students found their way back into their own chairs in record time, all of them sitting up straight. Though immensely satisfied with their reaction, Starlight didn’t let it show; she couldn’t falter now. She removed her sunglasses and stuffed them in her pocket.

“All right, you little dirtbags!” Starlight shouted angrily; the students reeled back, terrified. “I hope you had your fun yesterday, because that ends today! We’re going to learn transmogrification or die trying!”

“Die?!” A filly in the front row squeaked.

“Okay, maybe ‘die’ is a bit exaggerated,” Starlight admitted lightly. “But I’m still gonna work you ponies to the bone! And I don’t want to hear any excuses!” A colt in the front row shakily raised his hoof. “What?!”

“Um, can I go to the bathroom?” the colt asked timidly.

“Oh, you have to use the bathroom, huh?” Starlight started calmly…then rushed forward and slammed her hooves on the desk with a thunderous THUD! “Well, that’s too bad! This is my classroom and you are going to hold it in until I say so! Understood, you little snot?!”

A moment of silence carried across the classroom…one that was quickly punctured by an awkward tinkling noise.

“…On second thought, I don’t have to go anymore,” the colt muttered embarrassingly.

“You disgust me,” said Starlight harshly. The colt’s ears flapped down, whimpering sadly. Starlight walked back to the blackboard and continued shouting, “Listen up, maggots! You are going to keep you mouths shut while I teach you the history of transmogrification! Am I clear?!” A few students mumbled under their breaths. “I said: AM – I – CLEAR?!

“Ma’am, yes, ma’am!” the students cried fearfully in unison.

“Good!” Starlight huffed. She turned to face the board and started drawing. “Going back to where we left off, Star Swirl the Bearded was inspired by two Sibearian scientists name Frederica Telsa and Lieserl Einstein – “

While the substitute’s flank was turned to them, going over the complicated history of some old wizard, one colt near the back row was slowly reaching for his saddlebag. He quietly pulled out a bag of chips he had snuck into school…until they were ripped from his hooves by a turquoise aura. The colt sat up straight, gulping loudly as Starlight glared at him from the front of the class.

“I think I made this perfectly clear yesterday: NO – SNACKS – IN – CLASS!” Starlight roared furiously.

To emphasize the seriousness of her point, she blasted the bag with her horn, turning it to a pile of soot on the colt’s desk. The colt whimpered and tried to shrink himself out of Starlight’s piercing gaze. The substitute huffed and turned back to the board.

“Dr. Telsa and Dr. Einstein tutored Star Swirl in the science behind the four common phases of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma,” Starlight continued, drawing vague shapes of the phases. “Star Swirl combined this knowledge with earlier research on Changling observations – “

In the middle row, ducking behind his desk, one colt glared daggers at the back of Starlight’s head. If this sub thought she could scare them, she had another thing coming! He had been chewing on a scrap of paper for several minutes, getting it nice and moist for his attack. He brought the straw to his muzzle and spat it out like a bullet.

The colt gleefully watched the spit wad fly across the air towards Starlight’s head…when it suddenly stopped in midair, captured by a familiar aura. Starlight still had her flank turned as she shot the spit wad back from whence it came, launching it into the back of the colt’s throat. The colt coughed and sputtered as he fell backwards over of his chair.

Starlight slammed the chalk down with a clatter, causing the entire class to tense up. Slowly (read: menacingly), she faced her students and gave them the hardest look she could muster.

“Since everypony doesn’t seem interested in the lecture,” Starlight said in a menacingly calm tone, “let’s move on to the practical portion of the lesson.” She opened a draw from Professor Inkwell’s desk and pulled out a lump of coal. “It’s a simple assignment: transmogrify this coal into a diamond. Shouldn’t be too hard for you guys since you obviously know enough that you don’t need to pay attention to the lesson. So, any volunteers?”

None of the students offered. Most of them were looking down at their desks, fiddling with their hooves, or looking anywhere but Starlight.

“What wrong?” said Starlight with a sarcastic tone. “You were all so energetic yesterday. Well, since no one seems to want to volunteer, I guess I’ll haver to pick somepony. How about…Miss Chief Maker?”

“M-me?” Chief Maker sputtered.

“Yes, you,” said Starlight pointedly. “Come to the front of the class and show everypony how it’s done.”

Chief Maker looked like she’d rather run in the opposite direction, maybe even through the wall. The trouble making filly slid out of her seat and walked down the aisle with looming dread. She kept her head bowed in fear as she stood in front of the substitute, who was giving her a cold, piercing stare. Starlight dropped the lump of coal at Chief Maker’s hooves, looking at her expectantly.

“Go ahead, Miss Chief Maker,” said Starlight coolly. “Turn it into a diamond. We’re all waiting.”

Chief Maker let out a small whine and reluctantly flared up her horn. The lump of coal glowed with the same energy and wiggled on the spot, but the aura quickly faded. Nothing had changed.

“I – I can’t do it,” mumbled Chief Maker, rubbing her hoof unconsciously. “I don’t know how.”

“Gee, if only you had been paying attention to the lesson,” said Starlight harshly. “Now, turn that coal into a diamond!”

The filly tried again with the same result, “I can’t!”

“Then maybe you should’ve tried learning instead of causing troubling for everypony!” Starlight snapped. “Now keep trying! We’ll stay here all day if we have to!”


“What, you got more to say?!” Starlight yelled directly at Chief Maker’s face. “Got something funny?! Huh, do you?!” the filly whimpered like a wounded puppy. “Didn’t think so! Maybe now you’ll think twice before acting like a little brat!”

And then, all Tartarus broke loose once more as Chief Maker broke down in tears. Starlight’s hardened façade immediately crumbled, panic flaring up as the filly cried literal waterfalls.

“No-no-no-no-no! Please don’t cry!” Starlight pleaded. “I – I didn’t mean it! I was just – I mean – um,” She turned to the students. “Can somepony help….”

But one look around the room told her everything she needed to know. The students were edging from her, afraid. No, they were downright terrified. Starlight bit her lip with worry. This whole thing was backfiring on her as bad as yesterday did. And it only got worse when a gangly stallion in a lab coat and glasses came barging into the room.

“What in the name of the periodic table is going on in here?!” he shouted with worry.

“Professor Bill Neigh,” Starlight cringed. “I – I’m sorry. I was just trying to be tough and, well, things got out of hoof.”

“Out of hoof?” Professor Bill Neigh, doing a once over of the classroom. “Starlight, these students look like they’ve been emotionally traumatized.”

“That’s…not completely inaccurate,” Starlight admitted weakly.

“I’m sorry, Starlight, but I think you need to go to the principal's office,” said Professor Bill Neigh, levitating Chief Maker to his shoulder and rubbing a comforting hoof on her back. “I’ll take over for the rest of the period.”

“But – “

“Now, Miss Glimmer,” Professor Bill Neigh said with a tone of finality.

Starlight closed her mouth and hanged her head, trudging out of the room in shame.

And that was how she found herself sitting outside the principal’s office, sighing in dismay. She had ditched the uniform and ruffled her mane back to it natural state, honestly glad to get the goop off her head. But it did very little to relieve her feelings of dread.

“I’ve never been called to the principal’s office before,” Starlight mumbled. “Then again, I was pretty much homeschooled my whole life.”

“Starlight Glimmer, please come in here,” a familiar voice called from inside the office.

Starlight exhaled one more dreadful sigh before inside the principal’s room. But when she opened the door, she stopped at the threshold and did a doubletake when she met eyes with –

“Princess Luna?” Starlight gasped, genuinely surprised to see the ruler of Equestria sitting behind the principal’s desk. And wearing a blue tie with a crescent moon at that. “You’re the principal?”

“The school is named after me,” Luna stated obviously.

“Fair,” Starlight acknowledged.

“Please close the door and take a seat,” Luna requested with a level tone. Starlight did as she was asked and sat silently on the provided chair. Luna steepled her hooves and locked eyes with the unicorn. “Now, what’s this I’m hearing about you traumatizing students.”

Starlight exhaled thrice and answered in a defeated voice, “I’m a horrible teacher. I have no idea what I’m doing. I should’ve just told Professor Inkwell I wasn’t cut out for the job.”

“Okay, hold on, back up,” said Luna. “Start from the beginning, if you please.”

“Well, Professor Inkwell had to go to a conference in Fillydelphia and she asked me to sub for her class,” Starlight explained. “I was kinda nervous, so I asked Twilight and Moon Dancer if they could give me some tips.”

“You went to Twilight Sparkle for advice?” Luna asked surprisingly. “She was brilliant, but one of the worst students this school ever had. I’ll never forget the Year of the Twenty-Seven Incidents?”

“Will somepony tell me what that means?!” Starlight cried.

“Anyway, you were saying?” said Luna, brushing the subject off casually.

Starlight huffed, but continued, “They said I should act friendly with the students, so I did. I tried being nice when they were acting out and I even tried to make the lessons fun with cake. And – well, I’m sure you heard what happened.”

"I have received a few colorful comments from the janitor concerning the incident," said Luna.

“Right," Starlight mumbled sheepishly. "Well, after that disaster, I went to Trixie and Tempest – “

“First Twilight Sparkle, then Tempest Shadow and Trixie Lulamoon?” said Luna dumbfoundedly. “And you thought that was a good idea?"

“In retrospect, it wasn’t one of my better decisions,” Starlight admitted. “They told me I should be stricter with the students. You know, lay down the law. Tempest gave me some tips on how to be tough. But now I realize that I may have taken the whole drill sergeant thing a little too far.”

“Miss Chief Maker certainly seemed to think so,” said Luna calmly.

“Maybe I should just quit while I’m behind,” Starlight mumbled in defeat. “Professor Inkwell made a mistake. I’m not cut out to be a teacher.”

“Starlight Glimmer…,” Luna spoke in a soft, sympathetic tone. “I’ve known Professor Inkwell since I established this school little over seventy years ago. In fact, she was the first pony I chose to teach here. And over the decades, I’ve learned to trust her judgment. If she thought you were capable of teaching, then I believe her.”

“But I screw up so badly – twice!” Starlight bemoaned. “I tried being nice and they trampled all over me. I tried being strict and I potentially caused a filly to need a lifetime of therapy!”

“You went to two extremes,” said Luna knowledgably. “But instead of trying to choose one or the other, you need to find a balance between them.”

“What do you mean?” asked Starlight curiously.

“A teacher needs to be compassionate and understanding,” said Luna. “We are shaping the lives of the next generation so that they may pass on what they know someday. But a teacher also needs to have a firm hoof." She stomped her hoof to emphasize the point. "There will be troublemakers, certainly, and it is our duty to set them straight so that they may succeed in the real world. I understand that it may be difficult to find the right balance between kind and strict. I’ve had several students for over a thousand years and I’m still messing up. You remember how Sunset was when you first met her?”

“Vaguely,” said Starlight. “I’ve mostly just known her the way she is now.”

“Well, before Daybreaker, she had a terrible habit of lying and quite an ego,” said Luna. “I shudder to think of what she would’ve been like she hadn’t met you girls. What I’m trying to say, Starlight, is that there is no such thing as a perfect teacher. You’re going to make mistakes, there is no doubt. All you can do is try your best and use each new experience to grow into a better version of yourself. The students aren’t the only ponies learning, after all.”

“…You really think I can be a teacher?” Starlight asked meekly.

“I think you have the potential,” said Luna. “Now about your punishment….”

The next day of class arrived with a looming cloud of apprehension and despair. Hushed chatter was passed among the students, most of them wondering if Starlight was still substituting and what she had planned for them. The babbled instantly died when the classroom door opened and Starlight Glimmer stepped inside. She wasn’t wearing a suit or military fatigues; she was just her normal, average self.

The lilac mare walked silently to Professor Inkwell’s desk and paused. She performed a few sets of Twilight’s recommended breathing exercises, which drew a lot of strange stares from her students. When her nerves were calm enough, Starlight turned to address them.

“Hello, everypony,” she said in a calm and earnest voice. “I just wanted to apologize for what happened yesterday. I was completely out of line. I know it’s no excuse, but…it was my first-time teaching in front of a whole class and I was really worried about screwing up. I tried being nice, but you took advantage of me and caused a lot of trouble. Then when I tried acting stricter, I crossed a line I shouldn’t have. And for that, I am deeply, truly sorry.” She ended, bowing her head.

The students exchanged looks, questioning the sincerity of Starlight’s apology. The clatter of a chair moving drew everypony’s attention to the back row where Chief Maker had risen from her seat. She and Starlight locked eyes with one another…then Chief Maker’s gaze fell sideways, scratching the back of her head uncomfortably.

“I guess it was kinda my fault, too,” Chief Maker admitted. “I shouldn’t have been causing trouble just because you’re the sub. I kinda deserved to get yelled at.”

“No, you didn’t,” Starlight shook her head. “As your teacher, I had no right to belittle you like that.”

“Well, what I’m trying to say is…I’m sorry, okay?” Chief Maker ended lamely, plopping back in her chair.

“Thank you for your apology, Miss Chief Maker,” said Starlight, smiling lightly. “Listen, everypony. I want to be your teacher and I will try to be kind and understanding. But you have to understand that if anypony starts misbehaving, I will set you straight. Maybe not as bad as it was yesterday, but I will not allow you to cause trouble for this class. Am I clear?”

“Yes, ma’am,” the students responded in synch.

“That goes double for you, Miss Chief Maker,” said Starlight pointedly.

“Hey, I apologized!” Chief Maker complained.

“Just covering all my bases,” said Starlight teasingly. She picked you the chalk with her horn, turned to the blackboard, and started to scribble notes. “Continuing where we left off yesterday, Star Swirl worked in conjunction with Dr. Einstein and Dr. Telsa from the Anti-Entropy Research Group in Sibearia on what would be the precursor for transmogrification magic – “

While the students diligently took notes of Starlight’s lecture, Princess/Principal Luna watched from the small window in the door, smiling proudly. She was holding up a small mirror in her hoof through which Professor Inkwell’s image reflected off the glass.

“It would seem that Starlight Glimmer has found the right balance that suits her,” said Luna.

“Eh, she’s still a little green,” Professor Inkwell sniffed. “But she’s got spunk. I wouldn’t have asked her to fill in for me if I didn’t think she could handle it. Even if she is friends with Twilight.”

“Maybe she’ll end up replacing you someday, old friend,” Luna commented, smirking.

“That’s the idea,” said Professor Inkwell. “That Starlight girl has the makings of a great educator. One that I would feel safe entrusting the future of your school to…. But don’t think I’m going anywhere any time soon! I plan to outlive all those whippersnappers!”

“If it’s you, I believe it,” Luna chuckled.

Luna took one last look inside the classroom as Starlight started quizzing the students and walked away with a proud smile on her lips.

Author's Note:

.......Sorry, so witty comments today. :derpytongue2:

Next chapter: Sunset, Trixie and the Celestia Squad head down to the Crystal Caverns to find the perfect gemstone for Celestia's coronation. But they're not the only ones lurking below.