When Twilight Sparkle exited her suite and into Canterlot Castle proper the morning after her coronation, Raven Inkwell, whom Twilight had inherited as her aide, was already waiting for her with a clipboard and quill in one hoof. “Good morning, princess!” the white unicorn greeted brightly, making a polite nod at her, “Ready to begin your first official day as the ruler of Equestria?”
Twilight made a nervous chuckle as she started down the hallway so to go get breakfast, Raven immediately falling into step with her. “As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess,” she admitted.
Raven gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll do fine.” She then glanced around briefly and added, “No Spike?”
“No, he’s still in bed,” Twilight explained and grinned warmly. “The coronation kept him up later than normal for him, so I decided to let him sleep in today, let him get that chance to be well rested for…well…what lies ahead of the both of us.” She glanced at Raven. “…If that’s okay.”
Raven waved it aside. “You’re the princess now, your highness, so it’s your call.” She then smirked. “He’s probably not going to miss much anyway. We’ve got a pretty mundane day planned for you, honestly.” She withdrew a schedule from her clipboard and floated it over for Twilight to examine. “As you can see for yourself, it’s mostly just meetings with each of the staff heads throughout the castle, so to coordinate any changes that need to happen in their departments now that you’re princess.”
“Well, I hope to keep most of those changes to a minimum, if change nothing at all,” Twilight remarked as she skimmed over the schedule, nodding her head to herself as she read it. “I don’t see a need to rock the boat, as it were.”
“And most are already expecting that from you,” Raven agreed. “This is mostly just a formality for ceremonial purposes. You know, to satisfy the demands of bureaucracy.”
“Ah, bureaucracy,” Twilight murmured to herself without thinking, “You can’t live with it, but you can’t live without it.” No sooner had she said this, she wondered if it was really appropriate to given her new rank. But since Raven laughed and nodded in agreement anyway, she decided the remark was mutual and let it go.
As she continued reviewing the schedule though, the first entry caught her eye for how generic and undescriptive it was: “Meet with Night Guard Representative – At Breakfast” Unlike many of the other entries, it gave no added notes on what the meeting would be about or what to expect.
“So…I’m meeting with someone at breakfast?” Twilight asked Raven, levitating the list over to the white unicorn and pointing at the entry with her hoof.
“Oh yes, sorry,” Raven remarked as she adjusted her glasses and glanced at the entry with a frown. “I almost forgot about that. I was asked by the Night Guard to schedule a private meeting with you today, and they were particular it be during breakfast if possible. If that’s too much trouble though, I can always reschedule it.”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Twilight assured, though she admittedly had been hoping to enjoy breakfast business-free. “I’m sure the Night Guard has a reason. I’d just like to know more on what the meeting will be about.”
“To be honest, your highness, I’m not totally sure. As I said, they simply asked to schedule a meeting with this representative of theirs. They didn’t give me any more details than that.”
Twilight frowned, taking the list back and staring at the entry. “Is that normal?” she asked, uncertain.
Raven shrugged. “…Sort of? It can be hit and miss with the Night Guard. They do like to keep things close to their chests, being the country’s special forces and all. If I were to hazard a guess, I imagine it might concern some internal matter they don’t want publicized too much, hence the private setting.”
Twilight winced a little at that. “I hope it’s nothing too serious then.”
“Personally, I wouldn’t read too much into it, princess,” Raven reassured her. “I expect their representative will just want to speak with you on all the same things as everybody else today.”
But Twilight didn’t miss that, much later in the schedule, the Night Guard had another meeting scheduled where she would meet with the head of the Night Guard (the almost ironically named Captain Sunshine) to discuss “the matter of transitioning the guard into the new administration,” or so her schedule noted—the same as what Raven was suggesting this mysterious breakfast meeting could be about. But why would the Night Guard need two separate meetings to discuss the same thing?
She continued to mull upon it as she arrived in the castle’s private dining room, sitting down to await her breakfast and requesting a second meal also be served for the expected Night Guard representative. But her theorizing couldn’t really settle on a clear answer to the dilemma. She had no real reason to suspect anything was amiss, and Raven had implied that things like this happened before during Celestia’s rule. So as far as Twilight knew, this was simply standard procedure for the Night Guard. She surmised though that whatever this mysterious representative wished to discuss, it would be different from what Captain Sunshine intended to discuss later. In any case, she found herself anticipating the meeting with growing eagerness, if just so to resolve this little mystery.
Soon her breakfast was placed before her, along with a duplicate meal for her still yet-to-arrive guest. She held off eating for a few minutes so to politely wait until after her guest’s arrival, but eventually she started eating anyway, wondering if the representative was running late. Yet she had barely begun before there was a polite knock on the dining room doors.
“Come in!” Twilight called, looking up from her meal. The doors opened and a grey bat pony entered, wearing the standard Night Guard armor and a pair of saddlebags. As she turned to approach, Twilight saw the mare wore an eyepatch over her right eye. She also noted that she seemed familiar, so much so Twilight decided she must’ve seen the mare somewhere before. “Please, have a seat and eat,” Twilight nonetheless continued, motioning to the empty seat and awaiting meal on the other side of the table. “Raven wasn’t able to tell me what this was about, so I’m rather curious to find out.”
“Thank you, your highness,” the pony replied in a cheery voice that also seemed naggingly familiar. “It’s very nice of you to include a plate for me too.”
“Well, I aim to please,” Twilight replied as she continued taking in the bat-winged mare. The more she did though, the more convinced she’d seen her before. “I’m sorry, but have we met before?” she finally relented and asked.
“You could say that,” the mare replied with a smirk. “But here, I’ll give you a hint.”
She then reached up and flipped up her eyepatch, revealing another perfectly healthy eye…except her right eye’s position did not line up with her left, giving her an all-too iconic wall-eyed appearance. This was indeed hint enough, catching Twilight completely off guard as realization struck at last.
“Ditzy? Ditzy Doo?” Twilight declared in surprise, recognizing the mare as Ponyville’s resident mail carrier.
“Hiya Princess Twilight,” Ditzy cheerfully greeted like she always had in the past. It was like absolutely nothing was out of the ordinary, except she was here, with full Night Guard armor and bat wings. “Enjoying being princess thus far?” She proceeded to help herself to the meal set before her. “Mmm, eggs, haybacon, and hashbrowns!”
Twilight just gaped at her though, confused. Her initial knee-jerk thought was that Ditzy was going well way out of her way to deliver her mail despite not living in Ponyville anymore…but that didn’t explain the armor or the batwings. She didn’t appear to be carrying any mail anyway, unless it was all hiding in the plain saddlebags she still carried on her back, though Twilight was doubting it at this point.
“What are you doing here?” she finally managed to utter without thinking.
Ditzy raised a questioning eyebrow as she looked up from her breakfast. “What, just because you’re the ruler of Equestria now means I can’t come and say hi anymore?” she teased.
“Wha—no! Of course you can!” Twilight quickly backtracked and tried again. “Look, it’s nice to see you, but I am expecting to meet with a representative from the Night Guard right now.”
“Oh, I know,” Ditzy replied casually before reaching into her right saddlebag and withdrawing a manila folder. “Speaking of, might as well get this going and give you my report now.”
She offered the folder to Twilight. Even more confused, Twilight took it in her magic and floated it in front of her only to see it had the official confidential stamp of the Night Guard printed on its front, and a brief flipping through its contents revealed similarly official documents inside. It was also right about then that the implications of Ditzy’s statement sank in fully.
“Wait, hold on…what?” Twilight declared, staring at Ditzy in sudden realization, not quite sure if she was believing this. But the longer she stared at Ditzy, the more Ditzy’s smile transitioned from kind to smug and knowing, waiting patiently for Twilight to figure it out herself. “But you’re…how are…WHAT?”
“Lieutenant Commander Ditzy Doo of the Night Guard at your service, your highness,” Ditzy then finally clarified, dipping her head down in a polite and formal half-bow.
Twilight just kept right on gaping, looking back and forth from the folder still floating before her and at the mare she had thought was merely a flighty mail carrier from Ponyville. Her jaw worked up and down for several moments, trying to find the right words befitting her post to speak next.
Instead, she ultimately blurted out, “You’re pulling my tail!”
Ditzy, to her credit, just laughed. “Nope, I promise you I’m not,” she said. “Though Celestia thought you might think that.” She nodded at the folder and advised, “Flip to the back.”
Twilight did. Tucked in the back of the folder behind all of the fully official and neatly filed report was a small paper containing a handwritten note:
I know what you’re probably thinking, but she is indeed telling the truth, and she is indeed a member of the Night Guard. If you need to, you can refer to her personnel file in the royal archives and see for yourself—you have the clearance to do so now.
P.S. Seriously. She’s telling the truth.
Twilight examined the note for a long moment, still wanting to believe it was all some “haze the new princess” prank, but nothing actually suggested the note was fake, and she instead had a growing suspicion this really was for real. She glanced back up at Ditzy still watching her with an amused expression.
“If it helps,” she remarked to Twilight, “I’d argued for Celestia being the one to break the news to you. But she and Luna both thought it’d be funnier if I did it instead.”
Twilight scowled a little at that and roughly chucked the note back into the folder before setting it to one side of her now forgotten breakfast. “Of course they did,” she deadpanned, to which Ditzy giggled. Twilight leaned back in her seat and studied the apparent bat pony for a long moment, looking at her in a new light but still not sure if she actually believed it. “So you’re actually a member of the Night Guard?”
“And a bat pony?”
“Oh, no—still a pegasus.” Ditzy fluttered the leathery wings on her back awkwardly. Their movements weren’t quite accurate enough to be real batwings now that Twilight saw them move. “It’s just illusion magic making me look like a bat pony at a moment because I’m in uniform. You know, like how the Day Guard has the armor that magically makes them all look alike? It’s the same for the Night Guard—the batwings are just their trademark look.”
“Uh-huh,” Twilight murmured slowly before pressing a hoof into her forehead. “So…since when have you been in the Night Guard?”
“Since well before you moved to Ponyville.”
Twilight again bolted upright in surprise, since that was more than the whole time they’d known each other. “I assume there was a reason this was all kept from me, then?”
“Yup!” Ditzy said. “And sorry for that, but the nature of my assignment required it. That’s kinda why I’m meeting with you now though.” She straightened in her seat, sitting at attention. “I’m here to report that the undercover assignment I’ve been on for the past nine years is now complete and I’m ready for reassignment.”
Twilight’s eyebrows went up. “Assignment? Undercover? For nine years? But that means…” And then it suddenly clicked. “…the fact you and I were both in Ponyville at the same time for all these years wasn’t a coincidence…was it?”
Ditzy’s grin grew, seeing she was catching on. “Nope. Well, okay, I was still born and raised there, I had long moved out until I got this assignment. Though, Celestia did have me back in Ponyville and all set up months in advance of you, only to put off actually sending you to Ponyville as planned until practically the last minute, but…you know. It still worked out in the end.”
Twilight needed a moment to process this further. “So…I’m guessing this assignment was to keep an eye on me then.”
“Initially. It was supposed to be just for Nightmare Moon’s expected return in case things didn’t go as hoped. But then you decided to stay in Ponyville, so Celestia extended my assignment there indefinitely. And since I was the only ranking Night Guard in the Ponyville area, they started having me take command of any local cases that needed sorted while I was there. Then you became the princess of friendship and we decided you probably needed somepony working as your de facto bodyguard, and…”
“Wait, bodyguard?” Twilight’s eyes suddenly went wide. “During the Storm King’s invasion, when Tempest Shadow tried to seal me in stone but got you instead—it wasn’t an accident you were right there, was it?”
“Nope!” Ditzy assured. “I was actually about to try and push you out of the line of fire, but then Rainbow Dash beat me to it and, well…” she shrugged sheepishly, “Perils of the job, really.”
Twilight was gaping at her again, shocked. “You basically took a bullet for me.”
“Yeah, and got a commendation for my troubles,” Ditzy repeated, waving it aside like it wasn’t any big deal. Seeing Twilight’s shock increase though, she grinned reassuringly. “Oh, don’t be like that—again, that’s part of the job. It wasn’t like I was actually hurt, and I barely even remember anything of the experience anyway. One moment I was running towards you and then the next I was suddenly surrounded by cheering ponies with magic dust up my nose and wondering what the hay I had missed.”
Twilight still stared at the mare, taken aback by her speaking of such serious things so matter-of-factly. “All this time, I just thought you were the mail mare.”
Ditzy chuckled. “Yeah, again, sorry about that, but I wouldn’t be much good if everypony else knew what I was really there for, so…I adopted a cover to hide it.” She beamed proudly. “And it worked pretty good too, didn’t it?” She waved a hoof in front of her uneven eyes. “It’s the eyes that really sell it—even the nicest of ponies such as yourself tend to underestimate me because of these. So I just devised a personality to match and the rest is history.”
“A personality,” Twilight repeated, realizing Ditzy wasn’t exaggerating—she had underestimated her. “So…I take it you’re not actually that…uh…”
“…Derpy?” Ditzy finished with a nonchalant smirk. “Nah, not totally. I mean, I have my moments like anypony else, but yeah, that was an act.” Seeing Twilight wince, she turned sympathetic. “And I know what you’re thinking, but it’s okay, because I was okay with it. It was kinda fun, in fact! It’s not every day you’re paid to go around being a goofball all the time, you know.” She perked up again. “Plus, I got to know a lot of great ponies along the way, not just you and your friends. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better assignment. Kinda sorry it’s over now.”
I know the feeling, Twilight thought to herself, thinking of her own longing for Ponyville, but she didn’t say that. “And the eyes?” she asked instead, involuntarily putting a hoof over one of her own in the process.
“An actual birth defect,” Ditzy explained, “But it looks worse than it is. My vision’s still pretty close to twenty/twenty and it actually gives me amazing peripheral vision, which makes it real hard to get the drop on me.” She chuckled to herself. “When Princess Luna first met me after her return, she didn’t quite believe it, so whenever I reported in, she tried several times to try and sneak up on me when she thought I wasn’t looking. Failed every time. Though now that she’s retiring, I might just have to watch out—I wouldn’t put it past her to up her game now that she doesn’t have decorum standing in the way…” She chuckled harder at Twilight’s reaction to that tidbit. “Yeah, I know, that all sounds more…casual…than you’d think decorum would allow. But I reported directly to Celestia, and after nine years of that, we just sort of got on a first name basis after a while.” Ditzy made another shrug, not thinking much of it. “Luna too, once she came back. And I hope I can keep doing so with you, moving forward.”
Twilight nodded in hesitant agreement. “I’d…like that too…especially since it seems like there was way more to you than I first thought.”
Ditzy just grinned warmly to that before getting back on topic. “Anyway, as I was saying, the only real drawback with my eyes is that it can make it harder to focus on little things that are far away, like…say…farther than twice this room is long.” She motioned to the dimensions of the not unsizeable dining room. “But for that, I have this.” She tapped the eyepatch she still had flipped up and away from her eyes, drawing Twilight’s attention to it again. “It’s magicked so that it corrects my problem for whichever eye I wear it over. Really helps with things like sniping.”
Twilight perked up at that. “Sniping?” she repeated, realizing what that meant. “You’re combat trained?”
“Oh, for all sorts! Sniping, karate, jujitsu, wing blades, street fighting, Princessbury rules fisticuffs, guizhou fa, fencing…” Seeing how it seemed to unsettle Twilight just how dangerous her former local mail mare actually was, she shifted gears part way. “…of course, that’s all just for defensive purposes. More often than not, I didn’t have to fall back on any of that training, which of course, we’re all glad for. Really, I was more a precaution to make sure you weren’t hurt. I mean, did you really think Celestia wouldn’t have wanted to ensure that much once you moved to Ponyville?” She stopped to sip from her drink.
Twilight blinked blankly to herself as she continued processing all of this. “I could handle myself.”
“Of course, your highness, not saying you couldn’t,” Ditzy agreed, setting her glass back down on the table between them. “But you of all ponies ought to know that the added help never hurts, especially one of an official capacity, and sometimes things go wrong without anyone ever being truly prepared for it. For instance…” she raised a knowing eyebrow at Twilight as she picked up a strip of haybacon to chew on, “…you remember the parasprite incident?”
Twilight winced and chuckled nervously. Boy, did she ever.
“Yeah, that was about when we were all certain keeping me around, just in case, couldn’t hurt,” Ditzy continued. She took another bite of her haybacon and chewed on it for a second before swallowing. “But I also kept my distance, respected your privacy. The last thing I wanted to be doing was intrude on you or make it seem like you were being babysat. Mostly, I just sat to one side and…monitored. If I felt a need to intervene, I would do so as discreetly as I could, but usually you did a good enough job handling it yourself, so…don’t take this as if we didn’t trust you, or that you haven’t of done all that you’ve done on your own, because that’s still all yours, and I’m not about to take that away from you, then or now.”
Twilight, who had started poking at her plate again, glanced up at that, heartened. “…really?”
“You really think you’d be sitting here as the new ruler of Equestria if we didn’t?” Ditzy asked with a warm smile. “In fact, when Celestia selected me for this job, I was very adamant about all of this. I didn’t want it to seem like I was pulling the strings from behind the scenes for you—you had to keep your independence, to do as you needed to and as you felt was right, not the other way around. Fortunately, Celestia readily agreed. In fact, I guess that was her whole point by sending you to Ponyville, wasn’t it?”
“It was,” Twilight confirmed, nodding to herself. She watched Ditzy eat for a moment, then remembering her own meal, starting eating again herself. “It’s just…” she sighed. “I’m just still wrapping my head around it all, I guess, you always being there, so intertwined in it all and secretly standing guard without me ever realizing it…I mean, don’t take it the wrong way…”
“I’m not, and I get it,” Ditzy said with a reassuring grin. “I get how it’s kind of unsettling to realize somepony you knew for so long, no matter how well, might not actually be who you thought. But again…that just comes with the job. The Night Guard specializes in all sorts of undercover ops like this, and we all know signing up that…this is something we gotta face from time to time.” She sighed. “Admittedly, it does sometimes make it hard to socialize in all the ways you want to with other ponies…but again that’s why I kinda liked this assignment and why I was happy to do it for so long, because that wasn’t so much a problem. And after a while…it just kind of became second nature. Like I really was the klutzy local mail carrier so many thought I was.” She grinned proudly. “Despite it all, I had some fun times doing that assignment. My only regret was that I couldn’t have told you about it sooner. But you understand why I couldn’t, right?”
Twilight nodded. “I do. But that’s a reality that we both have to live with I suppose.” She mulled it over for a second longer as they both continued eating. “So…who else knew about this?”
“You mean besides us, the princesses, and the Night Guard?” Ditzy asked, and considered it for a second. “Well…Mayor Mare knew a Night Guard was operating in her town, but I don’t think she ever figured out it was me. My boss at the mail office knew I was an undercover guard, but I never told him why and he never pressed for the details anyway…I suppose there is your brother though. He and I actually kinda go back a bit.”
“Shining?” Twilight repeated surprised, but only for a second. “Okay, I suppose that makes sense.” She reached for her drink. “You two have probably served together.”
“Hay, more than that, I actually dated him once.”
Twilight’s orange juice suddenly went spritzing across the table instead of down her throat. “What?” She managed to wheeze out as she coughed to finish clearing her throat.
“Of course, this was years back, before I went to Ponyville and he and Cadance were getting serious,” Ditzy quickly elaborated. “I mean, he clearly had his eyes on Cadance even then, but neither of them were going for it, so I figured, if Cadance wasn’t going to make a move for him, I might as well try my luck.” Seeing Twilight’s look, she chuckled. “Nah, don’t get your tail in a knot, your highness, we didn’t do anything serious, we just went out for a pizza and talked shop. Really, Shining did it to take pity on me. But he did get a pep talk from me that spurred him on to go for Cadance and, well…we both know how that turned out.”
“I suppose that explains why I can recall seeing you at their wedding, now that I’m thinking about it,” Twilight mulled, reflecting back.
“Well, that and because you were there too, as per my assignment,” Ditzy reminded. She winked. “Good thing too, considering what else happened at that wedding, right?”
“I suppose you were just as caught off guard by the changeling attack as the rest of us though,” Twilight reasoned.
“Mostly, though I was starting to suspect something was up just before it started going down,” Ditzy explained. “At first, I admit I thought the same as everybody else had, and Cadance was just being a stressed out bridezilla.” She snickered. “I mean, I saw that first-hoof back when my sister got married.” She then turned serious again. “But then she abruptly replaced her bridesmaids last minute and I thought that was weird, especially since I couldn’t figure out where they went afterwards, so I went and asked Amethyst Star about it, and…”
“Wait, Amethyst Star? That organizer pony from Ponyville?”
“Yeah, you know her, right? She’s friends with Lyra, who was one of the original bridesmaids. I thought she might know something.”
“Yeah, but…why specifically Amethyst and not any of the other ponies who were there at the wedding?”
“Well…didn’t I just say I have a sister?”
Twilight’s eyes widened. “Wait…Amethyst Star is your sister?”
“Yup!” Ditzy said with a grin. “But I admit, it’s probably not that obvious—Amethyst took after Dad a lot more than I did. And because I’m in the Night Guard doing sensitive work, I don’t really go talking about it too much for her own protection. You know…just in case. Of course, we’re still close and still hang out when we can despite that, but…aw, you’re the princess, I figure you won’t go blabbing either way, now will you?”
Twilight blinked slightly before miming out a Pinkie Promise in response, which drew a giggle from Ditzy.
“Anyway,” Ditzy continued with her story, “it wasn’t long thereafter that I realized you had gone missing too, and that was when I was sure something was up. So I was going around telling all my contacts that we needed to get on this ASAP when the changelings started invading.” She shrugged. “You know the rest. If anything, though, I guess I helped put the castle on alert enough that it wasn’t totally off-guard when the changelings started coming…not that it stopped it, but…it probably did save lives.”
“Huh,” Twilight murmured. She tilted her head at Ditzy, giving her a shrewd look. “I’m going to guess that’s probably not the only behind the scenes story you could tell, though.”
“Aw no, I’ve got plenty,” Ditzy assured. “But the wedding one is really about as exciting as it gets. Most of the rest are kinda more mundane. That was the idea, considering my cover. I didn’t want to get too directly involved if I could help it, or else it’d give me away.”
“Hmm,” Twilight hummed, taking another sip of her drink, successfully this time. She raised an eyebrow. “Just how far were you willing to take that for the sake of your assignment, then?”
“Well…however far I felt I needed to, so long as it wasn’t going to get me, you, or anyone else hurt.”
“Oh really? So what about that time where you dropped on my head a flower pot, an anvil, a cart of hay…”
“Okay, that one was an accident, and in reality wasn’t my fault,” Ditzy quickly interjected, defensive. “While you were off obsessing about Pinkie’s sixth sense thing, I was trying to stick close by in case you got…you know…too obsessed. So I volunteered to help the local moving company move some stuff for cover, but then the latch on their moving cart suddenly broke and all the stuff they were hauling got dropped. That you happened to be right under it at the time was literally a fluke, and thank heavens you weren’t too seriously hurt from it.” She snorted and folded her hooves. “Turned out it only happened because those movers’ safety regulations weren’t up to snuff and had been cutting corners, so afterwards I got them nailed hard with the charges for that fiasco.” She snorted a second time. “For the record, I felt really bad that happened. I was there to try and avoid things like that, after all.”
Fortunately Twilight chuckled, taking it in good spirit. “Like you said, I recovered. And at least I can be certain now it was out of your control, so no offense towards you taken.” She tapped her chin for a second then smirked. “…but what about that time with the thundercloud and the roof of Town Hall?”
“Uh, that one’s a bit more complicated, not gonna lie,” Ditzy admitted, rubbing the back of her head. “So what happened is that I got word that some storm clouds getting shipped to Ponyville may have left Cloudsdale overcharged and unstable. About a week later we found out it was just a malfunctioning machine, but before then, as this was the third or so time in a month it’d happened, the higher-ups were starting to suspect something was amiss. Since things were all calm that week in Ponyville and I was already in the area and not immediately needed elsewhere, I was asked to investigate. So I volunteered to help Rainbow handle the shipment when it arrived, with the idea I could look for clues while I did so. Turned out there were a couple problem clouds, and one was about to have a massive uncontrolled discharge of lightning unless I manually did it myself. The problem was that I needed something for the lightning to hit, and since it was about to go off on its own at any second, it was really either the roof of Town Hall, or risk hitting a pony in the streets while trying to move it elsewhere. You can guess which I went with.” She groaned and rolled her eyes though. “Rainbow was mad at me for months after that though, and she still won’t trust me with thunderclouds, even though I’m probably more qualified to handle them than she is!”
“Not that she’d know it, seeing you were undercover,” Twilight mumbled to herself, poking at her food again. She sighed. “Like how I didn’t know. Now that I know about it, I appreciate the work you were doing, Ditzy, but…I didn’t at the time, so…I never realized how much you were potentially sacrificing for the rest of us.” She gazed at Ditzy, looking at her in a new light yet again. “How often did situations like that happen, where we couldn’t have known the full story about what you were doing?”
Ditzy hummed to herself, not appearing so perturbed about it. Twilight figured she had probably come to terms with it a long time ago. “Hard to say without reviewing some of my old reports in full…but if it helps, most of it isn’t as bad as you’re making it out to be. And, to be honest, if I could successfully resolve some of these messes without you ever having to be involved, then that was good—that was precisely what I was there for.”
She pointed a hoof at Twilight. “For example, I did filter your mail as it arrived in Ponyville for security reasons, especially after you became the princess of friendship. And every now and then some mail would come in from some wacko with ill-intent. Things like various jinxes, poorly thought out attempts at blackmail, a few letters that were laced with love potions, that one package that, when you opened it, it turned you into a jackalope…” She smiled wistfully at this. “That one was fun.”
But then she turned serious again. “Probably the only truly bad one though was the madpony that tried to mail you a pipe bomb.” Seeing Twilight understandably tense at that, she quickly waved for her to stay calm. “I caught it and we were able to disarm it without anyone getting hurt, obviously, and we tracked it back to its sender and arrested him before he could try the stunt again. Apparently, he was some kind of insane anarchist with plans to eventually target all of the princesses, but had chosen to start with you. Once we had him, though, he was put in an asylum so to get mental treatment and hopefully recover.”
“And nobody told me?” Twilight asked, somewhat incredulous.
“No, because you didn’t need to know,” Ditzy stressed seriously. “That way you could keep right on doing all the good things you do without distraction or fear, instead of having to stop every other day to deal with the little threats made to your person. That was my job, handling all of that so you didn’t have to.” She motioned to her with one hoof, making a pleased grin. “And the fact that you can sit there now, the new ruler of Equestria, just says that I succeeded.”
Twilight went silent for a moment, processing that. “Thank you,” she finally stated sincerely.
Ditzy lifted her glass in a toast-like salute to her. “All part of the job, your highness.”
“I know,” Twilight said, poking at her food yet again. “It’s just…the risks you must have made…don’t you have family? Other than your sister?”
Ditzy shook her head. “Single and childless,” she assured.
“Really? Because I thought you…well, not to sound indelicate…”
Ditzy set her glass down. “You’re thinking of Dinky, aren’t you?” she asked, already ahead of Twilight. When Twilight nodded hesitantly, she grinned. “It’s okay, you’re not the first to assume otherwise…but Dinky’s actually my niece.”
“Oh,” Twilight said, taken aback. “…really?”
“Yeah, she’s Amethyst’s kid,” Ditzy assured. “But I totally get why some ponies think otherwise.” She beamed proudly. “She kind of does take after her aunt, doesn’t she?”
Twilight couldn’t help but smile at Ditzy’s pride. “She kind of does.” A pause, then she added, “Does she know?”
“About what I do?” Ditzy shook her head. “Amethyst and I agreed to forego telling her the details of my Night Guard work for now. But I fully plan to tell her once she’s a little older.” She snorted, amused. “Assuming Dinky doesn’t figure it out for herself first. She’s very smart for her age—part of me almost wants to wait and see if she ever puts two with two on her own.” She waved the matter aside though. “Point is, princess, my family is aware of what I do, and they and I both know the risks. We accepted that quite a while ago and have prepared accordingly. So personally, I’m not too worried, and I’d like it if you didn’t fret too much about it either. But if the day ever comes when…the worst happens…I’m honestly okay with that, because I know it’ll undoubtedly be because I was trying to help others.” She shrugged. “And really…what more could I ask for than that?”
A long and potent silence fell after that as the two continued eating their respective meals, reflecting on Ditzy’s profound sentiment.
“Thank you for telling me all this now, regardless,” Twilight finally concluded. She managed a grin. “I’m glad I got to know what you’ve really been doing all these years, if just so I can properly appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome, your highness,” Ditzy said. “Hopefully I can continue to do so in the years to come.”
Twilight tapped her hoof on the table edge for a moment. “So…was that all this meeting was for, anyway? To fill me in on all of this?”
“Well, that, and to discuss my report, decide where to assign me next,” Ditzy remarked, pointing her hoof back at the file Twilight had set aside and had nearly forgotten about. Ditzy surveyed both of their nearly-empty plates. “In fact, since we’re nearly done eating, we probably ought to think about getting back around to that.” She glanced at Twilight. “Unless you had any other questions you wanted to ask me first?”
Twilight thought about it for a second as she picked up the file again. “Just one, actually.” She looked Ditzy in the eye with a smirk. “Do you actually love muffins that much…or was that just part of the cover?”
Ditzy smirked back and leaned forward. “Lemme put it this way, your highness,” she replied. “I have a mental list of things I put high priority on in my life. And muffins are absolutely in the top five of that list.”
Twilight’s smirk grew. “Then the next time we meet at breakfast, I’ll ensure some muffins are served too. It’s the least I could do, I think.”
“Much appreciated, your highness.”
Chuckling, Twilight then turned her attention to the report, flipping it open to the first page and starting to look through it in more depth than she had previously. “So I assume most of this is just you reporting in on a job well done?”
“Mostly,” Ditzy admitted. “But I do also make a couple of suggestions for a few other assignments I could do next. You know, thinking of the future and all. Most of them would be largely the same as my previous assignment, since that’s clearly my forte.”
“Clearly,” Twilight remarked as she continued skimming through the report a page at a time. “I don’t think I’d be against it either, assuming there is just cause for it…though I confess I don’t know who you’re thinking to safeguard like that. With me the princess of Equestria now and having the whole of the royal guard, both Day and Night factions, filling that role, I’d think it’d be a waste of skill if you did the same. And I’ve already assigned bodyguards to safeguard my other friends too, since their new roles as my advisors basically make them government officials and thus eligible for such benefits.”
“I know,” Ditzy assured. “I was thinking of different creatures anyway.” She nodded at the folder again. “Jump ahead to page ten,” she advised.
Twilight did, and quickly saw it was the start of a series of dossiers. None of the information the report provided was anything that wouldn’t already be public knowledge, but Twilight readily recognized the creatures all the same. She flipped through the first couple of these, her brow starting to furrow. “These are all students from the School of Friendship,” she noted aloud.
“Specifically, a certain six of the students,” Ditzy clarified, “the same who I happen to know have a special connection with the Tree of Harmony…like six other mares I happen to know.”
Twilight looked up sharply. “Wait, you know about that?” she asked, then, thinking she saw what Ditzy was implying, added, “You don’t think they’re going to be…” she trailed off.
Ditzy, however, just shrugged. “Like I said before, princess,” she said idly with a knowing smirk, “I’m just thinking of the future.”