• Published 6th Apr 2022
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Diaries of a Zephyrwing - NavelColt

My name is Zoom Zephyrwing, and I'm a core member of Her Majesty's guard units. If you think my job sounds boring, you'd be dead wrong.

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Thursday, 4/14: 'In Practice.' (Scyphi)

Generally speaking, Queen Haven wasn’t really one to hold a grudge.

Typically, once told the details of a given situation and understood what was going on and why, then she was usually more inclined to move on to whatever was needed to resolve the situation, preferably quickly and effectively, so to be done with it. It was actually what made her decent enough of a ruler, despite her having her share of personal faults, like all ponies ultimately did regardless whether or not they admitted them.

Granted, her tendency to jump right to the first quick and effective solution meant she sometimes settled on one that wasn’t always the best solution…as the whole “lying about how the royals can still fly” scandal nicely demonstrated not so long ago. But the point was that Haven preferred being proactive about resolving and removing a problem, rather than dwelling grumpily about how there was a problem at all.

And how both Zoom and Thunder were right now really hoping they weren’t about to become the one exception to that trend.

Because the daggers their queen’s eyes were currently boring into the two royal guards was really making them wonder.

It didn’t help that this had been going on for about a minute, following about another minute before that of Haven surveying in horror the destruction that currently surrounded them, which in turn all come upon her abruptly rushing into the room and letting out a shocked screech at what lay within. At first the prolonged silence had seemed like she was just at a loss for words, but now, if they weren’t currently the two being stared down by her, Thunder would be placing bets with Zoom that Haven was busy trying to reign in her anger before it exploded out of her.

Finally, after making the two guards tensely sweat rivers during all that time, Haven finally found her voice. “Care to explain?” she asked. She said it in her usual, almost melodic, manner of speaking, but the darkness straining just behind it was obvious.

Zoom and Thunder both jointly gulped. “Your highness, I know what this all looks like,” Zoom took upon herself to professionally attempt to explain.

Haven raised a skeptical eyebrow. “I think what it looks like is rather self-evident at the moment, Miss Zephyrwing,” she replied bluntly.

This caused both guards to wince a second time, having confirmed that they were probably in big trouble for letting this happen. “Well, the important thing is that the situation’s contained now, right?” Thunder offered, in an attempt to find the upsides.

“I assume that is what my youngest daughter and a visiting guest are currently doing, then?” Haven asked pointedly, motioning with one hoof behind the guards.

Just a couple feet behind them at roughly the center of the devastated room were the pegasus and unicorn mares in question. Both Pipp and Izzy were attempting to look casual as they watched the queen interrogate her guards, but this was mostly ineffective due to how they were currently using their combined body weights to keep an overturned plastic tub pinned to the floor. Inside, something was thumping around with such rapidity and force that it made the tub unexpectedly shift positions from time to time, suggesting Pipp and Izzy were the only things keeping whatever it was contained, and even then it was only just.

“Yeah, that means no further harm’s being done, right?” Thunder reasoned simply in response to the question.

“At the moment, I’m more concerned by the fact that any harm was done at all,” Haven stressed firmly, succeeding in making the two guards wince a third time and inwardly hate the fact that, as the only two guards in the room at the time, this made them responsible for the consequences.

Unless they successfully shifted the blame, which was Zoom’s next plan of action as she jabbed a hoof at her partner. “Thunder was the one who thought it a good idea.”

“Hey, no!” Thunder objected, scowling at the other pegasus, “You thought it couldn’t hurt to try too!” He then pointed a hoof behind him. “Besides, it was Princess Pipp who wanted to try it originally.”

“Hey, don’t throw me under the carriage!” Pipp objected in a whine behind them as she all but straddled the shaking tub with her body. “And it was Izzy who first suggested it in the first place.”

Beside her, Izzy shrugged while keeping both forehooves pressing down on the tub. “I just thought it might be fun to try now that magic is back and all,” she reasoned innocently.

Ponies,” Haven interjected at this point, interrupting the blame game before rubbing wearily at one of her temples. “…Try what exactly?”

There was a moment as the other four ponies shifted awkwardly, looking around to see who’d explain just what had happened. Finally, seeing somepony would have to do it, Thunder stepped forward. “So you know all those protocols the royal guard had in place back when we still thought unicorns as vicious mind-melting pointy-heads?”

“No offense to present company, of course,” Zoom swiftly offered, giving Izzy an apologetic glance.

“None taken!” Izzy assured with a polite grin.

“And you know the defensive measures we were to take should any unicorns try to invade or anything?” Thunder continued on undeterred.

Haven simply nodded and motioned for him to continue.

“Well, as I’m sure her highness knows, the first protocol said any unicorns encountered or captured within pegasus territory had to have their magic horns neutralized with the use of an anti-unicorn shield,” Thunder continued. He patted himself down so to pull one out as an example, but remembered he didn’t currently have any spares. He grinned apologetically to his queen. “I’d, uh, show you an example, but uh…” he pointedly sheepishly at the tub Pipp and Izzy were holding down, its contents still thumping around wildly inside.

“They’re specially designed magic-blocking spheres that can be placed directly onto the tip of unicorn horns,” Zoom described, more familiar with the official text given in their guidebooks than Thunder was. “Once applied, the unicorn in question could no longer use their magic against us, and covered the pointy tip of their horns so to remove those as potential weapons too.” She paused and rolled her eyes upward in realization. “At least, that was believed how it’d work in theory.”

“In reality, it’s basically just a tennis ball!” Izzy piped in unhelpfully, shifting her position as the tub under hooves suddenly and forcefully slid to one side.

“I assume there’s a point to all of this then,” Haven remarked, not seeing how it all interconnected.

“Well, I’d thought they couldn’t’ve been much point to them before, because there wasn’t actually any magic for unicorns to use, right?” Izzy explained at this point. “I couldn’t zap any ponies even if I wanted until after magic returned, and at that point, it was all moot, ‘cuz we’re all friends now, and friends don’t zap friends.”

We didn’t know that at the time,” Zoom mumbled under her breath, feeling obligated to defend the pegasi on the matter.

“But it still got me wondering,” Izzy continued, “if unicorns did have their magic, would it actually work to stop it?” She shrugged again. “And since I do have magic now,” she lit her horn briefly as proof, “I figured we could test it and find out.”

“So that’s when Izzy suggested the idea to me,” Pipp said, “and I thought it could make for a fun livestream for my Pippsqueaks, so we went looking for any free guards that would let us, you know, give it a try.”

“And that’s when they found us,” Zoom concluded dejectedly, regretting being dragged into this.

“And I happened to have one still on hoof, because the royal guard hasn’t stopped issuing them out to guards,” Thunder concluded and shrugged himself. “I figured it’d be good to know if it actually did work, just in case. Because we might be friends with the unicorns now, but you never know, there could come a day when we still have to stop some attacking unicorn. So…since she was willing, I stuck it on Miss Moonbow’s horn while the princess recorded it and we let her try her magic—see what happened.”

Haven again glanced around at the room which looked like a tornado had passed through it. A tapestry that was vainly hanging on by only one wall-hanging chose that moment to finally thump to the floor. “I assume, then, this little test didn’t go as planned,” she deduced flatly.

“Well, at first it looked like it did,” Zoom began. “It really did seem like it was blocking her magic like it was supposed to.”

“For the first few seconds,” Thunder added ominously.

“It was kind of like when you take a soda bottle and then shake it up so hard that the cork goes popping off like a cannon,” Izzy explained. “That was what it was like here, except my horn was the soda bottle and the tennis ball was the cork.”

“That analogy’s pretty fitting,” Zoom agreed, “because that ball came shooting off her horn like it really had been shot out of a cannon and it started bouncing off the walls with the full level of force you’d expect from that.”

“And then it just kept bouncing,” Thunder continued empathically, “Showing no sign it was going to ever slow down and stop at all.” He jabbed his hoof at the overturned tub again, the ball within still audibly bouncing around like crazy. “It took some pretty fancy flying just to get it trapped in that before it caused any more damage.” He motioned to the queen. “And that would be when you came in, your highness.”

By now, Haven was rubbing both of her temples in frustration. “So…what you’re telling me then…is that a device that in theory was supposed to render a unicorn powerless…has instead effectively weaponized said device for that unicorn in practice.”

The four ponies exchanged glances with one another before each individually voicing agreement with that assessment.

“Good thing we unicorns are friends now, huh?” Izzy added with a big grin.

Haven pressed her hooves into her temples harder. “…how, though?” she asked finally.

“Well, Zipp was theorizing the other day that unicorn magic puts energy into things,” Pipp offered, “so maybe Izzy’s magic supercharged the ball somehow?”

“Maybe we could see it if we do it aga—” Izzy began to innocently suggest.

“NO!” everyone else swiftly interrupted.

“Besides, Princess Pipp was recording it on her phone,” Zoom went on to reason. “So we could just review the footage from that, right?”

“Well, we could, but uh…” with a pout, Pipp pointed sadly to one side of the room where her phone lay on the floor, its screen having been shattered in the chaos. “Poor phone…and after serving me for so long too.”

“Pipp, that’s your fifth phone this month,” Haven reminded wearily, as Pipp needing a replacement phone was hardly a new occurrence.

“But it had lasted a full two and a half weeks!” Pipp cried out, starting to lift up both hooves in protest before the tub shifting under her had her resume straddling it. “That was basically a record! And it was my fortieth phone, a nice round number! It was special! It deserved—”

“So what do we intend to do about the ball?” Haven interrupted in an attempt to get them back on topic.

They all looked at the tub Pipp and Izzy were keeping pinned to the floor.

“Find a way to harness its kinetic energy as a form of perpetual power generation?” Zoom half-seriously suggested. This awarded her another glare from Haven.

“It’s too bad Sunny isn’t here,” Izzy thought aloud, “She’d probably know of some past time where ponies of old found a solution to problems like this.”

“Well, I’d call her and ask, but…” Pipp again motioned to her lost phone.

“All right, I’ll call her instead,” Thunder offered, pulling out his own phone. “What’s her number?”

“I don’t know, that’s why I had the phone, so it would remember for me!” Pipp replied in frustration.

“I don’t think Sunny has a cell phone anyway,” Izzy pointed out, taking one hoof off the tub and raising it thoughtfully to her chin.

Pipp made a stilted laugh at that. “Don’t be silly, Izzy, everypony has a cell phone.”

“Well…I don’t,” Izzy reminded simply.

Pipp made a horrified gasp and immediately jumped to her hooves so to make some indignant exclamation at this perceived injustice. The others all shouted for her to not to, but it was too late, and with Pipp’s body weight removed from the tub, Izzy’s remaining hoof on it was insufficient to keep it in place, allowing the supercharged ball within to finally burst free and resume its chaotic bouncing in the room. Zoom and Thunder both bodily pinned Haven to the floor so to shield her from harm while Izzy and Pipp dove for opposite corners of the room. Then, with the tinkling of glass, the ball managed to find the only window in the room and smash right through it and into the city outside.

Realizing the danger had, quite literally, left the building, the five ponies slowly got up and gravitated towards the broken window to watch as the ball, still not slowing down, proceeded to wreak havoc within Zephyr Heights, ricocheting off of buildings, street lights, bridges, and basically anything that crossed its path as the populace all jointly dove for cover. One of the big broadcast screens mounted to the side of a building was smashed as the ball bounced off of it. The ball then briefly vanished from view for a second as it managed to find another window to crash through, presumably proceeding to chaotically bounce around the building it entered before exiting through a second window and back into the city streets again.

By that point Haven had had enough. “All right,” she began firmly, turning to the two guards, “New order from your queen, effective immediately. You said all of the guards are issued these shield ball things?” When the two nodded, she continued resolutely, “Then you are to find and gather all of these balls from your cohorts, shred ALL of them, burn all the shreds, before going to the ponies who issue you your guidebooks, tell them to rip out all the pages for the protocols for these things and do the same thing to those pages that you did to the balls, and then tell them they are to issue updated guidebooks with those protocols removed straight away! Am I clear?

Zoom and Thunder both saluted. “Yes ma’am!” they jointly exclaimed.

Haven nodded in confirmation before turning around with a huff. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to get an aspirin.”

She then left the room. Once she was gone, the remaining ponies returned to their gazes to the ball flying around the city streets outside.

“So what are we going to do about that?” Thunder finally asked after a moment.

It was around then that the ball managed to hit the right combination of buildings to send it hurtling out of the city and zooming into the horizon far in the distance.

“Never mind,” Thunder mumbled, seeing the problem had solved itself.

“Bye crazy tennis ball!” Izzy called after it, waving. “Go find a nice lady ball and have some lovely baby balls with!”