• Published 19th Mar 2021
  • 692 Views, 43 Comments

The Runaway Bodyguard - scifipony



Her best and only magic teacher, Sunburst, abandoned her. Proper Step refused to teach her magic; it wasn't "lady-like." She runs away and learns to fight with hoof and magic, to save her life—but doesn't realize she's becoming somepony's sharp tool.

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Epilogue

Winter brought snow on pegasus wings, then got wrapped up, then spring warmed and summer threatened. Eventually, events and further adventures found me and drove me to Canterlot.

I watched Sprinter trot away down Castle Way, not even looking back. I'd been so nice to him, too! He didn't even kiss me goodbye, but I guess that was understandable. I'd saved the EBI agent's life and told him what to say when he reported for his debrief, so I'd saved his career, also. Two days we'd shared the same bed in a small hotel room. Nevertheless, standing outside Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, he could not help but realize our age difference. Foals played ball games on the left lawn and chattering teenagers studied on the right, eating junk food and gossiping.

Too much to reconcile, I guess.

What I'd been through in the last year, and once again the last week, felt like a nightmare, like fevered dreams from another universe. Princess Celestia could have gotten enough clues to figure out who the unnamed mare was in the aftermath of what had just ended, though I'm sure she never saw me when she came roaring in. The EBI could have cross-checked Sprinter's story. They could have decided to find me, to identify me. The best I could conclude was that the EBI was indeed an independent agency from the other constabularies, particularly independent of the royal constabulary.

I didn't want trouble, or to trouble anypony. Nopony could neigh-say that I had been very helpful in my own contrary fashion. How I had become yet another pony's pawn after running away from the syndicate is an entirely different story in and of itself, and it involved Citron, too.

Maybe, one day, I'll tell you that one.

My many months crossing Equestria by hoof had been more eventful than I'd wanted, but I understood more than ever before. Cutie marks were a curse. You could make friends, but in the end everypony had their own agenda and only that was what they found important.

I kept watching down Castle Way. The white castle wall and the schools were to the north on the left. Major scholastic- or peerage-oriented businesses or restaurants were to the south. I lost sight of Sprinter as he shouldered into a crowd of Canterlot ponies.

I sighed and blinked rapidly. Many of the ponies were dressed in tailed coats or dresses. Some wore hats. Mostly unicorns. Unicorns, like Citron, who I had sent into danger and who had disappeared. Like the rest of my team. Sometimes, you pushed them away. Sometimes it was more like Sunburst...

Huh. Now I really started blinking. Who cared about that foalish colt anyway?

Don't answer that!

Regardless. Everypony left you in the end.

It was lunch time at school. I wore a plain white farm dress with a nondescript purple flower pattern. Compared to other clothing Canterlot ponies wore, it looked inexpensive, but I'd tailored it so I could move. I didn't yet have an idea how I would package myself if I got into the school, whether I'd admit to being a blank flank or choose a mark to paint on. I wanted to blend in. I wanted to correct all the blind spots in my magic, and maybe one day use my magic to save the world from cutie marks.

As I trotted up to the purple building, I noticed my rear hoof still dragged a little and decided not to correct it today. The worn scuff up the front of the hoof hadn't grown out completely, yet. Soon, if I keep up my therapy exercises, I'd be free of it, and eventually the lingering numbness and the prosthesis I wore in a rear horseshoe to protect my frog.

I bounded up the travertine steps and into the impressive multistory atrium vestibule. I looked at the stairs going up and down, the stone floors and the rich wood banisters. Because I understood evil better because I understood I was capable of it, I did not feel offended seeing the banners of the sun alicorn twirling in the breeze.

Princess Celestia had created me, after all.

I had been a princess. I had acted like royalty. I knew what it felt like to exercise absolute power. Unlike my mentor, I had given up the habit voluntarily.

The lively flow of unicorn students, carrying books, chattering, laughing, and heading out for lunch in all the halls did much to lighten the tenor of the building. I smiled. It wasn't a temple to an evil deity. It was only a school for magic.

Very few of the young ponies wore clothes, so I didn't blend as well as I would have liked to. On the other hoof, almost everypony had a cutie mark if they were older than a foal, so I decided I'd made the right choice covering up as I trotted along past the rows of lockers and open emptied classrooms. I smelled buttered oats and baked apples; I had an idea which direction I'd have to go to find the cafeteria, but here I was. The sign above the door read, "Administration."

Inside, I saw a counselor talking with a student at the counter. Another blue-maned mare ate a sandwich at the desk beyond, but the offices looked empty. I asked the mare.

"The vice-headmare is in the cafeteria." She pointed left and down.

The lunch smells intensified as I found the stairs to the lower level and my nose guided me the rest of the way. Through double-doors, I saw a row of glass-fronted steam tables and heat lamps staffed by two unicorns wielding ladles and tongs. Dozens of students sat at tables with their trays, all talking. The din of clacking utensils, plates, and pattering voices made me unaccountably grin.

It felt... normal. How weird.

I walked by the serving counter and the staff smiled at me. Butter oats, hay burgers, hay fries, salads... baked apples, half of them glistening in cinnamon sauce and half encased in hard-shell caramel. Kid tastes, I thought. I shook my head, feeling a bit sad that Proper Step had never allowed me to be a child. I wondered if it was something I could learn.

I scanned the room looking for Ms. Maple.

The room was L-shaped. A number of teachers sat around the corner and I recognized the minty green mare with a pale green mane cut into a page colt, particularly as she tittered and pointed at a silver-haired mare's joke. On my last visit, the mare had been acting like an air head until I had punctured her façade with the pin of my lack of humor. Even in an educational microcosm, society stratified along lines of age and power. I noticed younger ponies gathered in one part of the cafeteria, older ponies in another. The athletic types, mostly colts, overflowed their pushed together tables by a window. As for the teachers... a full two rows of empty tables separated them from the rest of the room—with the exception of a purple foal, muzzle submerged in her hay fries stack, behind a fort of textbooks she was so engrossed in that she didn't notice the ketchup dripping from her horn from her killing her hayburger.

Ms. Maple's blue eyes lifted and focused on me when I breached the inner row of empty tables, coming closer. A booth seat ran the length of the mirrored wall and I could see myself approaching, as could her friends around the table. The other teachers rotated to look.

I locked eyes with vice-headmare.

That lasted about ten seconds, with neither of us blinking, before she said, "Excuse me, young lady!"

I gulped and looked down. Doing so made me feel suddenly vulnerable. Weirdly, a tear rolled down my right cheek.

One teacher asked her seat mate, "Is she your student?"

Another said, "No. Do you recognize her?"

I saw salad plates, one with a drop of pink dressing on an uneaten leaf and a few discarded half-chomped buns from consumed hay burgers. They'd pooled their hay fries with ketchup, and only three were left in the center. Ms. Maple had a hoof on her tea cup.

Ms. Maple reached with her other hoof to my withers. "You want to sit down?"

"Yeah," I said, still looking down. I saw her cutie mark, a red maple leaf. It still clashed with her fur color.

To her cohort, she said, "I—I think we're done with lunch."

Soon we were alone.

I looked up when she levitated trays away and scooted her tea in front of me. My nose pulsed on its own accord and I smelled chamomile. I inhaled and leaned in for a sip, cognizant only after the calming warmth spread in my mouth of the implication of accepting something some other pony was drinking.

I wore cheap clothing.

I acted strangely.

Maybe I needed to stop thinking things through so much. Yeah, maybe a good idea.

Ms. Maple said, "You are safe, here."

Am I? I thought, rather than saying it. Princess Celestia drew breath on the other side of the castle wall I could see through the window. I nodded anyway.

Her hoof pushed up the sleeve on my dress. As I sipped more of the tea, she waved the same hoof to get my attention and said, "May I?" before slowly moving the hoof down to my flank. I let her lift the rear of my dress, exposing my blank flank. Interesting. I glanced and saw her blue eyes flick right and left, then focus on mine as she let go of the fabric.

She asked, "Who did this to you?"

"Did what?" I asked.

She tapped my forearm as lightly as a butterfly landing. Even with the lavender fur, the faint black and blue was unmistakable—if you knew what to look for. I remembered my previous visit to the school and the reason she and Detective Farsighted had been meeting. Bullying.

"Oh, horse apples," I said, causing waves on the surface of the tea.

"Language."

That was a way too complicated a story to explain to a mare who worked directly for the princess, the same princess I didn't want to connect the dots to me having inadvertently helped her, which could get me identified. I swallowed hard. "It's not what it looks like."

"Your dragging a hoof?" She paused. "You getting beat up?"

"Well," I said, rubbing the back of my head. This would have been easier had Sprinter not chickened out, not wanting to be noted looking obviously too familiar with a young mare who had ridden him. I did have something helpful, though. I reached into my messenger bag and levitated out his business card. "This might explain things."

She held it before her face. "Agent Sprinter? Equestrian Bureau of Investigation."

"I was protecting ponies."

She looked skeptical, checking both sides. "You protecting ponies, not him protecting ponies?"

"Protecting him specifically. Others, too. You can ask him. He'll explain—at least what he's allowed." Hopefully not the sleeping with him part.

She didn't look entirely satisfied, but she tucked the card into a mossy-green pocket book she had on the table with a sigh.

"Sprinter is an historical name, you know," she commented.

I jumped at the chance to change the subject and pulled out my medal from the Baltimare Celestial Race. That impressed her. I could tell.

"You hungry? Want something to eat?"

I shook my head. "I saw no fish and fry, so I'll pass."

She snorted. Magicking back the medallion, she said, "You're that flighty filly from about three years ago that was presenting as a colt, aren't you?"

I nodded.

"You've grown at least three hoof-lengths and filled out quite nicely, too. I can see that 'protecting ponies' thing now that I'm looking at how fit you are."

"Thanks, I think?" Should have seen me before the griffon master attacked.

"I am going to talk to Agent Sprinter, in person."

"He's nice, if a little dense."

"You want to give me that command card, now?"

"About that..."

She nodded and led the way upstairs to her office.

Her office had gold-color blinds that she kept cranked open just enough that she could see ponies moving outside. Staff and student helpers had returned since I'd left. I could hear voices of other students entering the main area because the vice-headmare didn't close the door completely. She had a wide blond wood desk, spread with various textbooks. A picture of a red-haired brown stallion in a brass frame stood at one corner. One of his teeth appeared to sparkle. She had a red apple sitting on a filing cabinet, which drew a half smile to my lips. She sat in a big wood chair. I sat in the smaller one in front.

Princess and supplicant, I thought cynically and drew out the command card to counter her power move. I looked at it and a green flare traced the H-shaped rune on its copper surface. It clattered on the wood.

"I can start you this afternoon," she said, reaching for the card.

I covered it with a hoof.

"Again?" she asked. Her suppressed eye roll was unmistakable.

"Must you show it to Princess Celestia?"

She blinked as if she couldn't believe I'd asked the question at all. Something that, as White Towel was wont to say, went without saying.

I said, "Can I still enroll without it?"

The mare sighed. "Of course you can. The headmare's recruiting slogan now is Equestria Needs Unicorns. Everypony thinks she is planning something big for the 1000th Year Summer Sun Celebration. A unicorn who protects ponies that has a command card is a candidate in my book."

"But?"

She sat back and put her forelegs behind her neck. "I need your parent's consent to admit you."

I slapped my emancipation papers in front of her, which distracted her from the command card. She jumped on them, paging through them eagerly.

"Starlight Glimmer?"

"Yes, Ms. Maple."

She examined the seals intensely, feeling the wax with the frog of both her hooves, and holding the inked ones to the light, even casting a spell. "You're a mare of the world. Legally adult in any nation where age counts. This name—" She tapped on a page above Carne Asada's signature. "—looks familiar."

I pulled back the document before she could react.

"I need a copy of the endorsing page," she said, grabbing it back with an equally quick spell. She used a spell to duplicate the page onto another piece of paper, then took out an ink pad and asked me to stamp my hoof print on it.

"I seem to remember you studying some advanced spell math, but I'm going to have to test your magic proficiency, anyway."

I said, "Sure. But first, can you put your hoof on top of mine?"

I had reached across the desk as I spun up a spell. I estimated her weight and our resultant barycenter and she put a silver polished hoof on top of mine. As digits began zooming like blue and white comets across my sight, I added, "Take a deep breath and hold it."

When I realized she had done exactly as I had asked, I cast Teleport.

Her blue eyes grew wide in slow motion as the world clicked 5º to the right. Lightning spidered up the sphere of consuming complete darkness...

When we reappeared, I sat in the big seat behind her desk. She sat in the small seat. The blinds rattled with the pop of the out-teleport.

I got a goofy grin on my face. I was the highest level unicorn.

She shuddered as frost steamed off her fur, then drew her hoof back from mine and brushed some whiteness off her withers.

Nonchalantly, she said, "I talked with two students today who can do the same trick. Speaking of which," she said, getting up and trotting to the door, sticking her head out. "You. Yes, I'm speaking to you. Being a teaching assistant isn't permission to bully your under-classmates. Be nice. Don't go—I need to talk to you."

Leaving the door open, she came around the desk.

My mouth still gaping from what I was absolutely positively sure I had heard and wasn't possibly going to embarrass myself by asking to confirm something I certainly should not have missed, I circled the opposite way back to the lowly student supplicant chair.

Me.

Maple said, "No need to waste our time with a magic proficiency test."

"Nah-uh," I pretty much grunted, closing my mouth but not getting it to work, either.

"I will have to test you, Miss Glimmer, to determine the correct grade level for all your other subjects. You were home schooled?"

I nodded. "T-t-t-tutored, but the same idea. Lots of practical experience, afterwards" I rolled my eyes. "Lots. Years. And, and I understand the need."

I filled out a lot of forms. I did the scribing using an enchanted quill and magic ink with the command card laying on the desk between us like an unacknowledged timberwolf. It did not like being ignored. When I signed the last document, I must have glanced at it because it again recognized me and we both looked at the green flare as it traced its path of verification.

Ms. Maple said, "It would be a shame not to know why the princess picked you."

"It would be," I said dismissively.

I should have noticed the blue aura around her horn. Helpful Hanna purposely took my statement as permission to cast the playback spell.

I grabbed up the command card as it started speaking, heading for the door.

A voice I still recognized from over a decade ago rang clearly in my ears. Princess Celestia sounded like she'd been speaking into her hoof, so it was hushed when she said, "This one demonstrates abilities at a level that I've been seeking. Do not overburden him or her, or you will answer to me."

I rushed nose first into a mare standing in the doorway, bouncing off the side of her neck. She was somewhat heftier than me, and I might have mistaken her for an earth pony for that, except for her horn. Her yellow fur was much more golden than Citron's, and her mane, mostly red, looked like it was on fire.

"Was that Princess Celestia?" she asked.

I backpedaled into the office. Seeing my opportunity, I let Levitate unravel and dropped the command card. It clattered, sounding like a small protractor. If I judged her correctly... My having run into her coming toward me, me backpedaling—

She stepped forward.

Crunch!

She hopped back. "Oh! Sorry!"

"No worries."

I scooped up the parts into my saddlebags for latter forensic dissection, sparing a glance at the frustrated minty green vice-headmare. She looked at the same time both contrite and disappointed.

Then her adult eyes narrowed with pedagogical deviousness. She said, "Miss Shimmer. Take Starlight Glimmer here to the afternoon class you're TA'ing. I want to see if she's a fit for that level."

"She's new?"

She waved my admission forms.

"On it," she said, then, "Follow me."

She had a solar cutie mark that struck me as very similar to Princess Celestia's, except that the prominences on the right were red instead of yellow, almost as if smoke from a wildfire had crossed her sun. As she trotted into the hallway, students saw her and swiftly made way.

She said, "The full name is Sunset Shimmer, by the way. New, huh? Can you even do magic?"

I didn't laugh in her face. I got the feeling from the deference the other students gave her as we proceeded down the hall, and the warning that Ms. Maple had given Sunset Shimmer from her office doorway after I had cast Teleport, that I did not want to be in conflict with the alpha mare of the school. Not on my first day, in any case. If I lost my cool, I knew who would would be obliterated. I did not want to be expelled.

I looked at my hooves and replied. "A little bit," I said.

"You sound like the runt."

"Who's that?"

"My biggest pain in the flank. My competition for private lessons. More or less ruining my life, that's all."

"Well, then, don't let her do that."

Sunset shouldered into me and chuckled. "I think I like you," she said. "So, show me what you got."

"What I've got?"

"Please don't blow a hole through Canterlot all the way to Tartarus. That's been done already. Wasn't funny."

I laughed. A comedienne, I thought, as we climbed a staircase. Two could play at that game, and since I felt appearing harmless was my best strategy for staying on the good side of the alpha mare, I decided to do something every unicorn could do but with an extra-goofy flare.

As we circled back around the central open area of the school on the third floor, with the banners of the sun alicorn waving, I spun up Illuminate. I scrunched up my nose as I applied the alicorn simplification codicil to ramp the spell up to fifth level. I stopped walking and ensured all the math balanced. Blinding digits zipped across my vision, but I held my numbers as I wiggled my nose harder and harder.

It took about a half a minute until I sneezed.

I cast as I did so, my head propelled into chaotic motion. Mostly, the bright luminosity sprayed across the atrium, spattering the long flag depicting Celestia, but I managed to splat banisters, floors, lockers, ceilings, two dozen students who squealed and bucked, and one teacher who immediately started stomping toward the stairs.

Sunset Shimmer looked down. Her chest and legs glowed in all the colors of the rainbow, all in the proper order.

It wasn't snot, but I said anyway, "Ewwww!"

She looked at me, got a stricken funny look on her face, and fell over, hooves in the air, as she burst out laughing. The rest of the story, I'll tell you some other time.

The End

Author's Note:

Please, please, please leave an up vote if you liked this story. I appreciate them very much. They get more readers to join in on the fun more than any other indicator, save reviews by big names like Seattle's Angels. So. Please! Up vote. I super-appreciate comments, also. Do both! Feel free to critique or ask questions. I like praise and pats on the back. If you use spoiler tags, I will answer detailed questions freely in return. If you find something, I will try to fix it. Buy me a coffee, if you are inclined—just hit up my Ko-Fi link.

The "rest of the story" Starlight speaks of can be found in the sequel, The Enforcer and Her Blackmailers REMASTERED. Please understand that The Runaway Bodyguard was written years after what is essentially its sequel, which is why I took the trouble to remaster it. It was the first story written in the Enforcerverse. The original novel is still available, but if you've just finished reading The Runaway Bodyguard you may feel the Starlight in the original is a slightly different person. I expanded greatly on the vague gang background in the original story, and her traumas..

In the REMASTERED version, I've done two things: (1) Rewritten it to ensure the sequel Starlight has the same history and conflicted feelings as the prequel Starlight and (2) to add an alternate (AU) ending. I think you'll find it worth waiting for the installments, which I'll publish as quickly as I can. It has a separate FimFiction story page.

Don't forget to read the side-story, Love, Friendship, and Gangsters. You'll get the 411 on Crystal Skies special feathers and the Prench accent Starlight mentions in chapter 70.

If you want to learn more about Carne Asada's brother-in-law and sister, you will have to read about Sunset Shimmer's boyfriend Brandywine and his terrorist family. His story can be found in Sunset Shimmer Goes to Hell and his sequel to that story in Prance. Read The Enforcer and Her Blackmailers first.

If you want some idea of Princess Glitter's effect on the syndicate, I suggest you read the first part of Together Alone. (Then stay to read the rest.) Keep in mind many years have passed and the events in the The Cutie Map will soon happen.

The hinted at other story at the beginning of this epilogue is a work in progress at over 20,000 words thus far. Aurora Midnight is too good a character and may appear in a different genre.

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