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[Archive, RGRE?] Sleepy Hostages and Emotional Support Cannons

By MrSkeltal
Created: 31st August 2022 02:34:27 AM
24th September 2022 09:27:34 PM

  1. Original Poster: Love and Powerlifting (http://ponepaste.org/user/lapsbin)
  2. Reason this is posted here is because LaP regularly doesn't bin things. Will be removed upon or shortly thereafter being posted on his bin. Maybe.
  3.  
  4. >Colonel Maxim Steelhoof could trace her lineage in the Royal Guard for over one thousand years. There had always been somepony in the family that decided to take up the spear to serve the Princess. Just like her great-great grandmother, and her mother, she had caught that particular bug herself.
  5. >Old bloodlines or family connections might have meant everything to a regular rank and file, but it meant little to the guard. She started out like any regular recruit, her mane and tail shaved and immediately shipped off to bootcamp for ten weeks of absolute Tartarus. Just like many of her forebearers, Maxim found herself excelling as a soldier in gold.
  6. >Over thirty years had passed since she walked through the recruiter's door. She had been all over this great world, fought all sorts of critters both big and small. She had rubbed shoulders with kings, queens, heroes, villains, and the odd god or three. Through all the trails and tribulations; the famines, the parties, and rude guests in the castle, she had climbed the ranks of the guard to reach the absolute top. Lords and Generals might lead Equestria’s armies, but it was her that led the most elite of fighting forces.
  7. >In Canterlot, her word was law, and her two favorite words were peace and quiet. At her age, nothing made her happier than to wake up, sit in her office, and have absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happen.
  8. >She had been a Colonel for ten years. As far as she could remember, not a day had gone by when something out of the ordinary *hadn’t* happened.
  9. >Maxim, in a crisp, perfectly maintained uniform, took a seat at her desk. Just like the mare herself, her office was small. There wasn’t a piece of paper out of place. All of her pens were organized by shape, size, and color, in that order. Her desk had been waxed until it shone in the artificial light of the lamp hanging above. One would have also been able to comfortably eat off the floor if they so wished, though only one of the Princesses would dare to do such a thing.
  10. >The colonel’s ears were perked. Very carefully, she listened to the scribes and officers right outside of the door. She waited for a shout, a cry of dismay, or simply somepony falling and spilling a mountain of paperwork that they had been carrying on their back. As she sat there, waiting with trepidation, none of that came. Other than some quiet chatter and the rustling of papers, all seemed in order.
  11. >She leaned forward with a small frown, tilting her head in an effort to hear some far-off disaster. From the clock on her wall, Maxim watched five minutes pass with no incident. Some of the tension left the older mare’s body. She leaned back in her chair, tensing just for a moment as her back touched the fine leather. Another minute passed before she reached over and grabbed the cup of hot coffee she had sitting within hooves reach. She picked it up, bringing it to her lips and taking a small sip. The smallest, most fragile of sighs escaped her lips.
  12. >There was a rapid knock on her door, which was almost immediately followed by said door being thrown open.
  13. >“Colonel, ma’am, we have an issue!”
  14. >Maxim let out another sigh, though this one was much less hopeful. She sat her coffee down and looked at the mare that had just barged into her office like her tail was on fire. It was Lieutenant Glory; a younger pegasus that was in charge of the castle’s flyers. The mare was fast enough to have been a Wonderbolt, as tough as nails and a sense of duty and drive that the Colonel couldn’t help but admire. Unfortunately, she was also a featherhead, and prone to making mountains out of molehills.
  15. >“Good morning to you as well, Lieutenant,” Maxim said, closing her eyes. “What’s the problem today? Discord? A Changeling invasion? Did Tirek escape Tartarus?”
  16. >“It’s a bed, ma’am!”
  17. >“...Pardon?”
  18. >The lieutenant took a few hasty steps into the office, her wings twitching. “Two privates found a bed in the middle of the western hallway. They reported this to their Sergeant, who went to investigate. They then reported it to me, and I--”
  19. >“I don’t need all of that, Glory,” Maxim said with a dismissive wave of her hoof. “Now, I might be getting old, and took a few too many knocks to the head, because I swear you just barged into my office to tell me about misplaced beds.”
  20. >“That’s exactly what I’m doing, ma’am!”
  21. >The Colonel nodded, pushing her chair away from her desk and hopping to her hooves. “Oh. I see. Before I pull a muscle tearing you a new one to tell me something that’s *obviously* some prank done by the privates, I’ll allow you to explain yourself.”
  22. >Glory opened her mouth.
  23. >“You have thirty seconds,” Maxim added, walking around her desk and standing so close to the Lieutenant that their muzzles were almost touching.
  24. >Glory took a half step backward, ears folding against her skull. As Maxim quietly counted down from thirty in her head, she watched as the mare’s muzzle scrunched up and her eyes narrowed in thought. Those large, powerful wings twitched again at her sides as she counted from thirty to twenty. She made it to ten when a proverbial light bulb appeared over her head.
  25. >“It’s a big bed, ma’am!” she said, chest puffing out as if she were proud of such a statement.
  26. >“Big?”
  27. >“Yep! It’s really funny lookin’ too.”
  28. >“A big, funny looking bed then?”
  29. >“Uh-huh! It’s got some weird critter sleeping in it. I didn’t really get a good look at it, but it doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before!”
  30. >Maxim simply stared at the smaller mare. Glory almost immediately began to wilt under the gaze.
  31. >“I, um,” she said, feeling as if she were in very real danger, which, as it just so happened, she was. “There’s well, I mean, ma’am, it’s really--Waitwaitwait! Magic! Magic doesn’t work on the bed!”
  32. >“Explain.”
  33. >“I had a private try to just lift the bed out of the hallway, so civilians could start using it again, but she couldn’t. She said it was like trying to lift a boulder. I had two unicorns try to lift the thing, but they couldn’t even get it to budge.”
  34. >Maxim frowned. While she didn’t have any Twilight Sparkles in the guard--unfortunately; if her majesty hadn’t taken her as a student she could have been even better than her brother--even the lowliest unicorn private under her command was an accomplished magic user. Just one should have been able to lift an adolescent dragon into the air without much trouble, let alone two. It honestly sounded like a load of horse apples. Normally, she’d chew the cutiemarks off the mare and throw her out of her office, but now she was curious.
  35. >Walking over to the other side of her office, Maxim grabbed a cap that completed her uniform and placed it on her head. She regarded the spear she had leaning up against the wall, but just shook her head. This was no doubt just some prank. She’d find whoever was responsible and have them cleaning every bathroom in this castle with a toothbrush for the next month.
  36. >Turning back toward a nervous Glory, Maxim gave her a threadbare smile. “Lead the way Lieutenant.”
  37.  
  38. ~_~_~_~_~_~_~_~
  39.  
  40. >Mornings were always a hectic part of the day in Canterlot Castle. If one were being fair, it was usually hectic from sun up to sun down and every second in between, but mornings were almost always especially hectic. This was doubly true for the staff.
  41. >The haughty nobility that traipsed around these halls never gave a single thought to the mares and stallions that ran things being the scenes. From the maids to the cooks to the message runners; all of them were the lifeblood of this ancient dwelling. Without them, things would grind to a halt. Their majesties would not be fed or looked after, nor would the diplomats or other royal officials visiting. Important documents would not be signed or even seen. The common pony could not come to voice a complaint or concern. Everything had to run as smoothly as possible so that everypony was relaxed, content, and happy. It was not hyperbolic in any way to say that if the staff were not on their A-game, Equestria as a nation had a chance of complete collapse within a day or two.
  42. >There was one mare that was the maestro to their orchestra of madness. It was because of her this castle was a lovely and memorable experience, from the richest queen to a simple farmer. She was a mare that loved efficiency. She spoke six languages and could write with her mouth, both front legs, and even her tail if needed; sometimes all at the same time. Never in her fifteen years working as Princess Celestia’s right hoof had she ever taken a day off. Some insisted that she wasn’t even equine.
  43. >Her name was Raven Inkwell, and at that moment, she could feel the mother of all headaches coming on.
  44. >The western hallway was the busiest hall in the castle. It connected several pathways to very important administrative areas in the castle, including the throne room itself. Thousands of hooves walked along these particular cobble stones every single day. Congestion in this hallway was, in every possible way, unacceptable. The staff prided itself in its efficiency, and a clog in one of the most important veins in this shifting, moving stone beast they all lived and worked in would not be allowed. Which was why the bed smack dab in the middle of the hallway offended Raven on a personal level.
  45. >It was a large piece of furniture; larger than even the beds of the Royal Sisters. Far too plain to be anything from the castle itself. A quick glance told the earth pony that it was just pieces of metal and wood, barely held together by a few loose screws. It certainly wasn’t a piece of art; just something one slept on. On top of this plain bed was a mess of covers and pillows, all of which were covered in emerald green cloth. Two pillows were on the nice clean floor, and a blanket threatened to join them, hanging off the leg of the bed’s occupant.
  46. >Raven’s muzzle was scrunched up as she glared at the strange, sleeping creature, who she could hear snoring from twenty feet away. It was clear as day to the mare that this was some sort of prank. Something done by a noble or a gaggle of guardsponies after a night of drinking too much hard cider. Celestia only knows how they managed to carry the bed so deep into the castle without anypony stopping them.
  47. >She already could feel the fallout from this little “prank”, especially when the critter woke up. It was all fun and games until ponies were accused of coltnapping. Raven was no betting mare, but she’d bet her clipboard that heads were going to be rolling in the next hour or so, especially if one of the princesses happened to wander by.
  48. >Speaking of those walking hurricanes in golden armor, thirty members of the royal guard stood around the bed, preventing any nosy ponies from getting too close. This meant that the entire hallway couldn’t be used. That meant the Postal Office, the Office of Do’s and Dab’s, the Ministry of Concessions Office, the General and Specialized Permit Application Office, the Love Rooms, AND the Throne Room could not be reached. All important, governmentally critical places for the common pony, many whom had traveled days to be here, were not available.
  49. >This was beyond unacceptable.
  50. >The sane and simple thing to do would be to just walk over and wake up the creature. They’d all probably get an earful, and some shush money would need to be handed out, but this whole sorry business could be behind them by lunch. Had she been alerted about the situation first, this was what would have happened. How nice that would have been.
  51. >It took some effort for the earth pony not to bury her head in her hooves and just scream as the group of guards murmured amongst themselves. All of them had their spears pointed at the bed, as if the obviously harmless critter sleeping in it was some world ending monster. While Raven hated to admit it, with the luck Canterlot as a whole had been having with monsters, this paranoia wasn’t completely unfounded.
  52. >“Alrighty. Let's see what we have here.”
  53. >Raven’s ear perked up as the last voice she wanted to hear boomed out down the hall. She closed her eyes, took a few deep, calming breaths, and turned her head. Sure enough, there was Colonel Maxim strutting down her hall in full military regalia, a cap on her head and some black-rimmed sunglasses balanced on her muzzle. Behind her were thirty more heavily armed guardsponies. It looked like two of them were dragging along a cannon as well.
  54. >Fantastic.
  55. >“Mornin’ Raven,” Maxim said, tipping her cap at the smaller mare.
  56. >“What. Is. That. Doing. In. *My*. Hallway,” Raven replied with venom, staring wide-eyed at the cannon.
  57. >The two mares hitched to it attempted to take a few steps back, though their harnesses made it impossible to do so. Instead, they looked anywhere but where the mare was standing. One even had the gall to begin whistling
  58. >“Hmm? Oh, that. Some of the mares were spooked, so I allowed them to bring some heavy ordinance,” Maxim said, her head tilting to the side as she examined the bed. “So that’s--”
  59. >“You can’t bring a *cannon* through the hallways!” Raven hissed, interrupting her.
  60. >“I absolutely can. I’m the head of all military matters in this city. If I want a cannon somewhere it’s going there. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with an emotional support cannon.”
  61. >“I’m not going to let you start blowing holes in this castle! My staff is*still* doing overtime after what you did during the Changeling Invasion!”
  62. >“We aren’t going to do anything with the cannon, you grouch. It’s not even loaded. I just brought it to keep morale up.”
  63. >“How does a cannon in my bucking halls keep your moral up, Colonel?”
  64. >Instead of answering what was clearly a loaded question, Maxim took a few steps toward the bed, then stopped.
  65. >“What sort of creature is sleeping in that bed?” she asked.
  66. >It took considerably longer than Raven would have liked for the mare to calm down enough to answer the question. “I have no idea. I haven’t been able to get a very good look, since your *featherbrained* soldiers won’t let anypony within twenty feet of the bed. My best guess would be some sort of minotaur.”
  67. >“I don’t think so. Minotaurs get big, but I’ve never seen one get that big. As far as I know, diamond dogs sleep better on the ground than in beds, so it’s probably not one of them. Not hairy enough to be a yeti…”
  68. >“Colonel. As WONDERFUL as it is listening to you droll on what exactly the race of the mare or stallion in that bed is, I believe you and your troops would be better suited in moving the bed and it’s occupant before one of the princesses is made aware of what’s going on. Princess Celestia has had a very busy few days, and it would be--”
  69. >“Just hang on to that idea for a moment, Inkwell,” Maxim said, lifting a hoof. “Sergeant, would you please indulge me and attempt to lift that bed?”
  70. >Out of the ranks of the Colonel’s escort, a large, scarred grey unicorn stepped forward. She eyed the bed for several moments before giving her commanding officer a small nod. The tip of her horn sparked. Everypony in attendance watched as… nothing happened.
  71. >The Sergeant frowned. Taking a half-step forward she leaned forward. Her horn became bathed in a pinkish aura, her brow furrowing in concentration. Dozens of eyes turned toward the bed, which continued to stay rooted to the ground.
  72. >“I… huh,” the Sergeant said, allowing the magic flowing through her to extinguish. “Colonel, ma’am, I can’t lift it.”
  73. >Maxim raised an eyebrow. “Did you not have your oats this morning, Sergeant?”
  74. >“I can lift a fully furnished, two story house twenty feet into the air without a warm-up, ma’am,” the Sergeant said, with just a hint of indignation.
  75. >“Then why by Celestia’s sun can’t you lift a little bed?”
  76. >Indignation gave way to confusion as the Sergeant struggled with the answer. “I… have no idea. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to get a good grip on it. It’s somehow slippery for my magic.”
  77. >“Very, very interesting,” Maxim said, scratching her chin. “Thank you for the attempt, Sergeant.”
  78. >“Ma’am,” the mare said, stepping back into her place in the column.
  79. >“When I was told about this, I just thought it’d be something silly and not at all worth my time,” Maxim said. “But that… That might mean we have a bit of a situation on our hooves.”
  80. >Raven just barely held back a groan. “There’s no need to escalate anything. If you’d allow it, my staff and I are more than capable--”
  81. >“I’m going to have any civilians keep their distance. If that thing is resistant to magic then it might be dangerous.”
  82. >“It’s SLEEPING for Celestia’s sake! Just leave the poor thing be. I’ll have them carried out of the hall into the room--”
  83. >“Captain. We’re going to need get everypony moved back and the halls blocked while we--”
  84. >“Nonononono! I simply cannot allow that. I don’t give a flying feather what sort of authority you believe that you have, Mrs. Maxim, but this castle is under MY care.”
  85. >“It might be in the day-to-day, but not--”
  86. >“I don’t care. Shut your hay hole and get that cannon out of this hallway. I’ll take it from here.”
  87. >“No you won’t.”
  88. >“Oh, yes I will.”
  89. >“No.”
  90. >“Yes.”
  91. >“NO.”
  92. >“YES.”
  93. >Both mares were muzzle to muzzle at this point, with everypony in attendance watching. The soldiers especially were watching with interest, with some quietly betting on who’d throw the first punch. The castle staff outside the ring of guards but still on the scene, outraged by what they were hearing, were quick to make bets themselves, as was the odd noble here and there.
  94. >Everypony was so busy, they didn’t notice Princess Celestia walking down the hallway, flanked by two of her personal guard. The alicorn, usually so graceful, elegant, and supernaturally beautiful, looked anything but this morning. The yak delegates had, unfortunately, visited, meaning that for the better part of the week the mare had been forced to walk a tightrope with saber-beating creatures that didn’t give a flying feather that she could drop her sun on top of them and their kingdom at any time. Not that she’d ever do that mind you, but after a two hour, one-sided screaming match with the yaks threatening war because the towels in their bathrooms were the wrong color the thought might have crossed her mind once or thrice.
  95. >It had been days since she had gotten a good night’s rest. While she was a goddess, with all the perks that went with it, she was still a mare that not only needed, but loved her sleep. Her head was lowered as she walked, barely dragging her hooves along. There were bags under bags under her barely opened eyes. Even her mane, usually so alive and vibrant, was dull and lifeless.
  96. >The yaks had just left. She had personally gone to wish them a safe journey and watch as their rude behinds were shipped out of her city. Seeing them disappear out of sight put a smile on her face. She still wore that smile as she walked, too tired to notice the watching crowd, or the row of guards blocking the hall. All that she could think about at that moment was her bed.
  97. >Ponies quickly parted when they noticed her. She murmured a few good mornings and hellos, struggling to stay awake. The guards, seeing her, stepped aside as well, somepony loudly clearing their throat, no doubt to alert the still arguing Colonel Maxim and Raven.
  98. >Celestia’s personal guard looked around, confused as to what was happening. “Um, your highness?” one of them said. “I think we might have a situation of some sort on our hooves…”
  99. >The princess’s ear twitched at her little pony’s words, but Celestia didn’t pause in her step. “Oh, there we are,” she said, her smile widening.
  100. >There, not five hoofsteps away, was a bed. It wasn’t her bed. It didn’t look anything like her bed, and this wasn’t her bedroom or even close to it. The sheets were the wrong color, and she didn’t recall having a critter sleep in her bed in the last two hundred years.
  101. >None of that mattered to the exhausted mare. All she saw was a bed. Beds were for sleeping. She was tired. Ergo, it was bedtime.
  102. >Her personal guard could only stand there thoroughly baffled as the princess kicked off her royal shoes. Her crown was next, hoofed to one of the guards, then her peytral was lifted from around her neck and placed onto the neck of the other guard, who nearly fell over from its weight.
  103. >“--And another thing! An emotional support cannon doesn’t make any sense!”
  104. >“Hah! That’s exactly what some frou-frou little civilian would say!”
  105. >“What the hay are you talking about?!”
  106. >“You just wouldn’t under…”
  107. >Maxim trailed off as she looked over just in time to see Princess Celestia leaping into the bed with the mystery creature. Raven, red-faced and sweaty from all the yelling, also looked over just as the mighty alicorn plopped right down next to the being. The creature, as if sensing another in its bed, reached out with one of its strange claws, grabbing the princess and pulling her against it.
  108. >The crowd of ponies just stood there dumbfounded, their mouths agape. Unfortunately for Maxim, she was the first to recover.
  109. >“Holy horse apples…”
  110.  
  111. ------------------------------
  112.  
  113. >A sense of comfort and safety emanated from the bed. Celestia had found a suitable spot pressed right up against the strange creature. Her forelegs were pressed against its chest. The top of her head was settled nicely underneath it’s chin, minding her long horn. The princess had pulled a blanket over top of both of them as well while she, with a small sigh, had fallen asleep almost immediately.
  114. >The area around the bed, meanwhile, had no safety or comfort. In fact, what could only be described as chaos erupted. The guards began forcing civilians out of the hallways. A few noble stallions dramatically fainted. There was chatter, whispering, and a lot of pointing. Usually, there should have been a good deal of yelling as well, but everypony had just watched the princess fall asleep. Waking up some big, strange monster was no real issue, but waking up their hardworking princess just seemed just plain rude.
  115. >Not that they would have woken up the princess. Alicorns were known to be infamously heavy sleepers. Luna slept through the whole Changeling invasion for goodness sake. Still, it was the thought that counted.
  116. >“Make sure nopony gets away!” Raven said, her glasses nearly flying off her muzzle as her head whipped back and forth.
  117. >Maxim tore her gaze from the bed to look at the smaller mare. “Were you speaking to me?”
  118. >“Of course I’m speaking to you, dummy! If word of this leaves the castle, ponies will start panicking!”
  119. >Maxim thought for a few moments. This was obviously a worst case scenario, but she was a mare of clarity and action. Now wasn’t the time to start running around in circles, screaming like a madmare.
  120. >“Get away from that gosh darn bed! At least a hundred--”
  121. >“Shhhhh! You’re going to wake the princess if you keep yelling!”
  122. >“Oh shush yourself, nerd. Ladies, back the heck up and make sure nopony runs off! On the double!”
  123. >The guard, clearly frazzled by what had just happened right under their muzzles, were quick to shake off their shock. They hurriedly pulled back from the bed. The twenty or so civilians that had been watching the scheme unfold had been rounded up and herded into a random room. A Sergeant had attempted to restrain Raven as well, though a look from the earth pony had caused the mare to turn on her heel and walk away. It fell on Maxim to drag the stubborn mare away.
  124. >Two minutes later, the hallway was clear and both Maxim and Raven found themselves standing behind a stack of sandbags that had been conjured out of thin air by a helpful private. Another emotional support cannon had been retrieved from somewhere as well, much to Raven’s dismay, and was currently pointed at the bed, as was the original cannon that had been pulled to the other side of the hall.
  125. >“Alrighty. Both sides of the hall are secured, and we’re probably far enough away that we won’t be affected by whatever that thing is,” Maxim said, peering just over the line of sandbags.
  126. >“Was it casting some sort of spell?” Raven asked.
  127. >“I’m guessing it must have. Probably a powerful one too, to be able to bewitch her majesty like that. Private, please hoof over that megaphone.”
  128. >“The what--Raven began, only to jerk away as Maxim turned on an overly large megaphone, filling the air with ear-splitting static.
  129. >The mare frowned, giving it a few hearty smacks until the static went away. She brought it to her lips.
  130. >“ENTITY, ALIEN, OR CREATURE OF NIGHTMARE OR THE VOID ITSELF. YOU HAVE ILLEGALLY STEPPED HOOF ON EQUESTRIAN SOIL. RELEASE HER MAJESTY PRINCESS CELESTIA AT ONCE, AND ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE TAKEN INTO CUSTODY SO THAT YOU MIGHT BE IMPRISONED AND STUDIED. FAILURE TO COMPLY WILL RESULT IN YOUR DESTRUCTION. YOU HAVE TEN SECONDS TO COMPLY!”
  131. >Tossing the microphone back toward the private, Maxim leaned toward a Sergeant standing close by. “In five seconds, fire a warning shot right over the bed,” she murmured.
  132. >“Hang on just a second,” Raven said. “Don’t you think this might be a little… extreme?”
  133. >“Absolutely not. This could be another Discord-class monster. It needs to be neutralized before it hurts anypony.”
  134. >“I suppose. Just don’t--”
  135. >“Private Hoplite, start stuffing things into that cannon.”
  136. >“Pointy stuff ma’am?”
  137. >“Whatever you want, sport. Just make sure it’ll hurt.”
  138. >“*Noshootinginmyhall!*” Raven yelled, grabbing the cannon and, with great effort, dragging it toward her and away from the gunpowder crazed mares. “No. Shooting. Cannons. In my nice. Clean. Hallway. *Please*.”
  139. >Just as Raven finished her sentence, the Sergeant tilted her head downward. A bolt of pure energy flew from her horn. The sound it made was like a thunderclap, leaving a bright, golden afterimage in its wake as it flew just a few inches over the bed’s occupants. It arched upward, hitting one of the old oak beams up above.
  140. >The Sergeant could only feel the satisfaction of a well placed shot for a moment or so before an ivory hoof caught her square in the jaw. The mare went ramrod stiff, before her whole body turned into gelatin and she fell onto the ground in a heap.
  141. >“Mare down! Mare down!” somepony yelled.
  142. >A few spears were pointed at a now panting, wild-eyed Raven by some of the braver guards. Maxim looked over at her with a small frown.
  143. >“Wanna fill me in on why you’re trying to throw a monkey wrench in my operation there, Raven?”
  144. >“*Stop. Trying. To. Blow. Things. Up.*” Raven said through gritted teeth. “Ponies need to clean up after you. MY ponies. Throwing lightning bolts around is just…”
  145. >She pointed toward the bed, grinding her teeth together in fury.
  146. >“If you’d just look for FIVE SECONDS, you’d see the creature couldn’t even hear you. Look. LOOK.”
  147. >Giving the earth pony a nasty look, Maxim extended a hoof. A private stepped forward, giving her a pair of binoculars while two guards and a combat medic looked over the unconscious Sergeant. Looking through them, the Colonel looked at her royal highness. As far as she could tell, it appeared as if the alicorn hadn’t yet been harmed, which put her at ease somewhat.
  148. >She let out a hum, eyes narrowing as she adjusted the focus of the binoculars. The creature was lying on its side, its face buried in a pillow, so she couldn’t get a good look at it. What she did notice, however, was something sticking out of its ear. It was small, black, and shiny. Focusing just a hair more revealed it to be an ear plug.
  149. >“...Huh. So that’s why it didn’t react,” she muttered, scratching her head.
  150. >It seemed as if intimidation and flare, the usual tactics in subduing most opponents wouldn’t work. Maxim couldn’t exactly order any of her troopers to attack the creature, as it was far too close to Princess Celestia. Even if their attacks did land, and she had some doubt in that, they could hit the alicorn. As far as they knew, the creature could be watching and listening, and if they made any move in real, actual aggressiveness it might choose to hurt the princess, or spring out of its bed and attack anypony close, or any number of things.
  151. >It looked like they had the mother of a bad situation on their hooves.
  152. >Maxim lowered the binoculars and looked at the ponies staring back at her. In most high-stress situations, there was always a rainbow of emotions seen in soldiers. Fear, excitement; she’d seen even boredom. As she looked at officers and troopers alike, she saw that there was no range of emotions. There was only one.
  153. >Worry.
  154. >“...So, does anypony have any ideas?”
  155.  
  156. ~_~_~_~_~_~_~_~
  157.  
  158. >An hour passed. Every military officer in the castle, all but the two that had been put in charge of the “checkpoints” at either end of the hall, stood around a chalkboard. Every mare was in full combat armor, each holding their weapons of choice.
  159. >Not only had the hallway been quarantined, but the castle itself as well. Guards that had been stationed all over the capitol had been ordered back, given a vague debriefing on what was going on, and put to work keeping ponies from sticking their muzzles into anything that they shouldn’t. Every entry and exit was blocked, and there were no less than twenty pegasi keeping any other flier from getting too close.
  160. >Ponies outside of the castle were no doubt wondering why in Equestria over two hundred guards were in and around the castle and its airspace, but they couldn’t worry about that now. If they were lucky, they could solve the situation before anypony too important came along and began asking questions.
  161. >The mares that stood around the chalkboard were some of the best military minds of the ages. Ponies that had seen and done it all. If there was anyone that could get their princess out of that bed and away from the claws of the alien creature it would be them. At least that is what Maxim told herself.
  162. >“Now, are we SURE just sawing up through the floor around the bed and letting it fall through is a bad idea?” a Captain said.
  163. >The officers looked at each other, then at Maxim. Just the fact that no pony had, for the FIFTH TIME, told the Captain off gave the mare a headache. She did her best not to sigh, rubbing the bridge of her nose with an armored hoof.
  164. “Morning Star, I swear to everything that is kind and good if you don’t--” she closed her eyes. “Just… go and keep an eye on that bed.”
  165. >“Colonel, I know it might seem like a far-fetched idea, but in instances like these we really need to think outside of the--”
  166. >“Get. Your flank. Out. Of my face. NOW.”
  167. >Opening her eyes, she turned toward the other officers. “Now, any good ideas?” she asked with a paper thin smile.
  168. >A Sergeant gingerly raised a hoof.
  169. >“This isn’t kindergarten, Gleaming Shield. If you have an idea just say it.”
  170. >The mare opened her mouth.
  171. >“Fair warning though, if it’s as stupid as what Morning Star was peddling I will pick you up and throw you out the nearest window.”
  172. >The Sergeant quickly closed her mouth. “Nevermind then,” she mumbled, ears folded against the sides of her skull.
  173. >Maxim frowned. “Come on ladies. For crying out loud, you’ve all gone to some of the finest military academies in Equestria. Those diplomas you all got supposedly means you have something between those ears of yours!”
  174. >A lieutenant cleared her throat. “It looks like the two are just sleeping, ma’am. We should hold position for a few hours and try to wait them out.”
  175. >“Terrible idea,” Maxim replied without skipping a beat. “We don’t know what that creature is doing to the princess. Time could very well be of the essence. Besides, the guard doesn’t sit around! We’re ponies of action. Next!”
  176. >“We could try teleporting the princess away?”
  177. >“Forcibly teleporting another pony is always tricky. We could try that if there’s no other options, but I like where your head's at. Anypony else?”
  178. >“Why don’t we just go over there and beat the stuffing out of the monster?”
  179. >“Because its holding our princess hostage and its twice her size, meaning its a heck of a lot bigger than anypony here. Come on, keep ‘em coming fillies. If we keep spitballing we might come up with something half useful.”
  180. >The group moved closer to the chalkboard as Maxim began drawing on it. Raven did her best to ignore the chatter. She was standing next to the wall of sandbags with a bored pair of privates, staring at the bed and its occupants. The earth pony wanted nothing more than to just walk over there and try to wake up the princess. Unfortunately for her, the two times that she had attempted to do so she had been foiled, so the only thing she could do was stand there and wait for something to happen.
  181. >Sighing, she rested her head on top of one of the sandbags and closed her eyes. “What a day; and it’s not even lunch time…”
  182. >As she grumbled to herself, there was movement in the bed. The alien sat up with a grunt. It looked around with barely opened, bloodshot eyes. It let out a yawn, stretching its arms out before reaching down for the princess. It flipped the alicorn over then laid itself down, pressing its chest against Celestia’s back and laying an arm over her barrel. The princess, fast asleep, grabbed the arm and held it close against her chest.
  183. >It was done so quickly that when Raven opened up an eye she saw nothing out of place. The guards had seen what had happened of course, but neither were really inclined to tell the earth pony. Once their superiors were done yelling at each other and drawing what looked like dinosaurs on their chalkboard, they’d do a soldier's duty and pull straws on who’d report the instance.
  184. >Raven glanced at both of the guards, who regarded her without so much as a raised eyebrow.
  185. >“Would--”
  186. >“Nope,” one of the guards said, shaking her head.
  187. >“I didn’t even!--”
  188. >“We were authorized to restrain you if you tried anymore funny business, Ms. Inkwell. I might not be really into knots, but Radiant here really loves them.”
  189. >“She’s right, ma’am,” the other guard said. “I love knots. They’re my passion, my lifestyle. When I was a foal I was a champion knot maker. I was the one that invented the double hangmare twist fold when I was eleven.”
  190. >Despite the situation, despite her headache, despite the fact that somehow, someday, one of these moronic guardsmares were going to blow a hole through her nice, clean hallway with a cannon ball, Raven narrowed her eyes at the mares.
  191. >“...You’re making that up.”
  192. >“If you cross no mare’s land again I promise that you’ll find out,” the guard said, shaking her spear at the earth pony before tapping the butt of it against the ground. “We have the perimeter locked up nice and tight; we don’t want you running around and--”
  193.  
  194. *click* *click* *click*
  195.  
  196. >The guard looked over, and immediately the look of utter boredom vanished. Raven followed her gaze. There, just a few feet from the bed, was one of the most hated pests in all of Canterlot. It was a creature no magic, no law, no ordinance, royal or public, could truly exterminate. It and it's kind were much like cockroaches, though with far less dignity. A freelance journalist, complete with an overly large camera and a bowler hat with the word PRESS stitched into it.
  197. >“Oh no,” one of the guards said.
  198. >“Oh curd,” said the other.
  199. >On the other side of the hallway, the group of guards stationed at the other checkpoint began to shout. Without hesitation, Raven snatched the spear out of the hooves of the guard closest to her. With a moment’s consideration, she spun it around so the rounded buttcap was readied and threw it as hard as she could.
  200. >The journalist, so engrossed with collecting pictures that she hadn’t yet registered the yelling, was the perfect target. The unicorn was standing up straight, with her side toward Raven and the two guards, all of who watched as the spear arched through the air in a textbook perfect throw. It would have hit the journalist clean in her shoulder had the mare not leaned down to take another picture at a different angle. As it was, the spear just grazed the fur on her back.
  201. >“Horseapples!” Raven cursed as the unicorn let out a yelp. “SOMEPONY, ANYPONY, GET THAT CAMERA!”
  202. >The journalist, realizing that she had been found out, was quick to act. She stashed away her camera in a pouch at her side and took off running down the hall. Dozens of horns ignited, and spells were launched her way. Somehow, the mare managed to dodge and weave through them, leaping over ethereal hoofholds, sliding under magical cages and chains.
  203. >“The people have a right to know!” she shouted, eyes darting around wildly for an escape route. “You won’t pull the wool over our eyes!”
  204. >Those that didn’t have magic began throwing their spears just like Raven had. Some showed the same tenderheartedness as the assistant and threw with buttcaps outward. Others were far less merciful, launching recently sharpened spear points at her. Those particularly mares remembered a rather scathing article about some of their own and their poor grooming habits and were still positively peeved.
  205. >Thankfully, the journalist wasn’t impaled. Spears bounced all around her, scrapping the nice stone floors. A few of buttcap tipped ones found their mark, hitting her legs and one even slamming into her chest. She stumbled, and tripped, but she never fell, never stopped moving forward. The article she’d write about this would finally get her that job at the Canterlot Times. She couldn’t fail. Not now. Her dream of writing about nothing but where one could buy the best tea cozies in the city was within her grasp.
  206. >Raven and Maxim, who had been wrenched away from drawing three mares standing on each other’s backs while the top held a fishing pole in her mouth, could only watch in horror as the journalist leapt toward one of the windows. There was a loud crash, glass flying everywhere. The mare, her eyes closed, smiled widely, confident in her escape, a thought which was immediately bashed as a pair of burly pegasi appeared right in front of her. They reached out as one, grabbing the unicorn’s front legs.
  207. >The sudden and unexpected stop made the mare let out a gurgled yelp as the guards, both covered in glass and less than pleased, flew her back into the hallway. She wiggled and squirmed, attempting to get away, but their grip was like iron.
  208. >“Get that thing over here!” Maxim yelled, scowling. “How the hay did she even get in here?”
  209. >“I think I saw her this morning,” Raven said. “She’s probably one of the ponies you shoved into a room.”
  210. >“Well, now we’re upgrading her to a dungeon,” Maxim said with an angry snort. “Somepony get that glass cleaned up, and after that we need to double check that the entire castle is in complete lockdown. Do you hear me fillies? We can’t have ponies walking--”
  211. >A door near the end of the hallway was thrown open, making Maxim jump. Out of a side room, which she knew for a fact had been locked, stepped out the worst pony imaginable in this sort of delicate situation. The Princess of the Night herself, Princess Luna.
  212. >The princess stepped out into the hallway, both exhausted and obviously grumpy. From thirty feet away, Raven could see the bags under the mare’s eyes as she struggled to keep her head up. It must have been a long night, which might spell disaster for all of them.
  213. >Princess Luna enjoyed her sleep far more than her older sister. Where Princess Celestia could make due with a quick power nap before leaping into a hectic day, Luna required a full eight hours. The instances where that full eight hours were taken away were always bad for everypony involved. When she was asleep things were fine; it was just the point before that was like walking a tightrope without any wings.
  214. >Everypony froze as the alicorn looked around with bloodshot eyes, her brow furrowed. One of the guards sucked in a lungful of air, only for another guard to stuff a hoof into her mouth. Maxim motioned for the guards holding the journalist to freeze. Raven went very still. Alicorns detected movement; if she stayed as still as possible the princess would pass right on by her.
  215. >Luna grumbled something under her breath. She stretched out like a cat, smacking her lips together. Another guard let out a whimper, and that guard nearly lost her front teeth as an armored hoof was jammed into her maw. The princess began walking, swaying from side to side with each step. The only sound that could be heard in that hallway was the clip clop of her armored hooves against the stone floor.
  216. >She was walking right toward the bed. Just a few feet more and she’d run muzzle first into it.
  217. Had Raven been a braver mare, she would have called out to the alicorn, but words would not leave her lips. Maxim simply watched the scene unfold in front of her. If Luna ran into that bed, there was a pretty good chance it wouldn’t be there ten seconds later. Hopefully, Princess Celestia wouldn’t be too charred after it was all over.
  218. >Luna, though utterly exhausted from a full night of safeguarding the dreams of all of her little ponies, had just enough awareness to stop just before running into it. She found herself scowling. Who was moronic enough to put a bed in the middle of a public hallway of all places?
  219. >Everypony could only hold their breath as Luna climbed onto the bed, ready to give this prankster a talking to, followed by a very thorough bashing. The bed was just a little too high to easily climb, annoying her even further. She let out a grunt as she hauled herself up onto the covered mattress, stumbling a bit as one of her backlegs caught a blanket. She was able to keep herself from falling over, but while she was able to stop herself her muzzle came into contact with the creature's mane. Her nostrils flared on reflex, taking in a lungful of a fruity, lavender scent.
  220. >Maxim watched as Princess Luna’s eyes fluttered, and she sunk down onto the mattress, all the tension leaving her body. The Colonel lifted her golden helm off her head and, examined it for several seconds as she considered her profession, her life choices, and the harsh master that was fate. With that done, she jumped into the air and spiked it into the ground as hard as she could.
  221. >“HORSE APPLES!"
  222.  
  223. ------------------------------
  224.  
  225. >A mature alicorn’s mane wasn’t simply hair. As Princess Celestia explained it, both her and her sister had lost their natural manes when they were around two hundred or so. In it's place were literal manifestations of their power. For Princess Luna, it was the entirety of her night sky. For Princess Celestia, it was the spectrum of light in all its forms. These magical manes appeared to have minds of their own, moving and touching as if they were living things. Though, unlike living things, they had no definitive shape or size. They could be an inch or two in length, or they could grow to fill a whole room.
  226. >Flowing wisps of starry night mixed with ever-flowing rainbows floated along some unseen current in the rafters of the hall. The strands were so thick that Raven couldn’t see the wooden support beams. They covered the windows, leaving the room dark. It should have been a worrying, even frightening sight, but the earth pony couldn’t feel anything other than awe.
  227. >In Luna’s mane she could see whole constellations and shooting stars. In Celestia’s she could feel the thrum and warmth of the sun itself. Where their strands touched pure light formed, brighter than any candle. Were she a pegasus, she might have flown up to inspect the whole tapestry from one end of the hall to another.
  228. >It showed her, showed everypony in attendance, that alicorns were not of mortal stock. They were beings so high even something as simple as slumber was a grand and wondrous thing when they did it. They weren’t just ponies; they were gods.
  229. >It was a humbling thought, and made the threat the creature that was in that bed with them all the more real. If it could trick and lure something as mighty as an alicorn, what would it be able to do to the average mare or stallion?
  230. >A small group of guard were crowded around the bed. Two earth ponies were currently lifting one side of the bed. Both were dripping with sweat, though not from exertion as they nervously kept their gaze leveled on the trio still sleeping. Lieutenant Glory was on her belly, a tongue sticking out in concentration as she slowly and carefully stuffed the leg of the bed into a roller skate. The mare was so focused that she hadn’t spoken a single word in almost two minutes; an unheard amount of time since the pegasus had taken up the golden armor.
  231. >Pushing the skate as high as it would go, the Lieutenant quickly tied a knot with the skate's laces. Triple checking that everything was secure, she crawled backward and motioned for the other mares to lower the bed. They did so as slowly as possible, so none of its occupants were jostled. Alicorns might have been famously heavy sleepers, but they couldn’t be so sure of the creature, even with its earplugs.
  232. >Glory stood up and looked over what she hoped would get her promoted to Captain in the very near future. Everypony, from all the officers to Raven, had agreed that this bed needed to be relocated somewhere far more secure. Magic was deemed too risky, and flying the bed out even more so. Which meant Glory and her set of roller skates were there to save the day. Nopony had any better ideas on how to move the bed, so she had been given the go ahead with a pair of brave recruits while everypony else watched from a safe distance.
  233. >“Allllllllright… that should do it,” Glory said with a smile.
  234. >Walking on her tippy hooves to be as quiet as possible, she made her way around to the back of the bed. Celestia and Luna’s manes had made their way up from the headboard to encompass the ceiling above, though not all the strands of hair had gone upward. Some floated around her. She tried to crawl under them, shivering whenever some of the strands reached out to touch her almost like they were the feelers of some bottom sea monster.
  235. >One of the other mares near the bed attempted to say something, but she quickly shushed them, placing her head against the bottom most piece of the headboard. She used a wing to wipe the sweat from her eyes, then, with a quick prayer to the very mares sleeping not a foot in front of her, she gave the bed a push.
  236. >There was some resistance at first. Glory let out a small grunt, putting more force into it. Each of the roller shakes shifted, and for a second Glory feared the worst, but with another hesitant push the bed began to move. The wheels of her roller skates, freshly oiled, glided on the stone floor as if they were made to do so, making not a sound as the pegasus pushed forward. She motioned toward the other guards, who scrambled to the sides of the bed, making sure not to touch the Celestial Sister’s hair. Thus in position, the three navigated the bed toward the end of the hall.
  237. >There, waiting for them, were Raven, Maxim, and around fifty heavily armed guard.
  238. >“Come on Lieutenant. No dilly-dallying; we haven’t got all day,” the Colonel called.
  239. >“Doing my best ma’am. I don’t want me and the girls getting attacked by this freaky hair.”
  240. >“That “freaky hair” is attached to your rulers, filly. Mind your manners.”
  241. >“Yes ma’am. Mrs. Raven, this stuff isn’t dangerous, right?”
  242. >Raven’s mouth formed into a thin line. She thought about all the times she had walked into Princess Celestia’s room right before sunrise and had been lifted bodily into the air by her mane while the alicorn sawed logs. She also thought about all those old stories of the princesses defeating mighty foes with nothing but a raised eyebrow and a flick of their tails.
  243. >“I… you should be fine, Lieutenant. Just try not to touch the strands too much if you can.”
  244. >Glory tried not to grimace as strands of Princess Luna’s mane slid underneath the side of her helmet. “It’s not me touching them that’ll be the problem, ma’am.”
  245. >The sandbags were hurriedly pushed out of the way. Maxim motioned the Lieutenant to followed as her and the other guard began to trot away, just out of hooves length from some of the strands of hair. Raven was right beside the Colonel, the bun in her mane bobbing with each step.
  246. >“We should take them to the Royal Wing of the palace. They’re be safer there,” she suggested.
  247. >“I was actually considering taking them to the jails,” Maxim said as they all turned a corner. “We have equipment that might--”
  248. >“Their Highnesses will NOT wake up in a gosh darn jail cell!”
  249. >“But--”
  250. >“I swear on everything that is good and clean I will LOSE. IT.”
  251. >As the bed moved along, the mass of magical hair above shifted. It seemed to shrink somewhat. Some of the strands floated forward to touch the mares moving the bed, as well as any stragglers in the pack of guardsmares. This caused the group to pick up the pace just that little bit more. Thankfully, it seemed, the hair didn’t catch on any of the rafters above, which Maxim had feared at the beginning of this venture.
  252. >“You can bring whatever you like--within *reason*-- into the Royal Wing, but we’re not going anywhere near a cell. Just the thought…” A look of sheer horror worked its way across Raven’s face. She quickly shook her head. “Myself and the staff would never be able to live with the shame, and I don’t imagine it’ll look good for any of you.”
  253. >Maxim made a face. She looked over her shoulder at the bed, clearly able to make out the creature that had both her princesses in its clenches. It was still seemingly fast asleep, mouth partially open, some strands of magical hair floating around and above its body. It looked very peaceful. Hopefully, Celestia willing, she’d be able to personally shatter that peace very soon.
  254. >“Alright. Alright. Calm down crazy mare. We’ll take them to the Royal Wing,” she said. “Where would you suggest--”
  255. >“Princess Luna’s room. There’s only one window, and it’s bigger than Princess Celestia’s.”
  256. >“Bigger? Really?”
  257. >“Yes. Princess Celestia knew her sister liked her spacious living arrangements and shelving for books and other oddities, and had it built specially for her. Here, follow me. I’ll get us there in half the time.”
  258. >Raven pushed her way through the crowd of mares, huffing and puffing, to lead the pack. A number of the guard looked back at their Colonel, who just just rolled her eyes and motioned for them to follow. She couldn’t see the harm in letting the earth pony take charge for a few minutes. Besides, the mare did know this castle like the back of her hoof; if anypony could get them there with any fuss it would be her.
  259. >The earth pony suddenly turned into a servants hall, forcing the group to swerve so as to follow her. Raven led them through twists and turns; halls and lanes they had never even known existed, much less tread themselves. Sure enough, true to the mare’s word, they made surprising time to the Royal Wing, and without so much as seeing another living soul.
  260. >Raven had just enough time to open the door to Luna’s personal chambers and gallop inside before the rest of the group charged in. The whole room was quickly checked for any unwanted guests, the blinds were pulled shut to cover the window, and the door was locked and blocked with a pair of chairs.
  261. >“Alright, sound off. Is everypony accounted for?” Maxim asked, wheeling around to face the group. She did a quick head count, then frowned. “Where’s Sergeant Sheer Face?”
  262. >“Up here ma’am.”
  263. >Everypony looked up. The sisters’ mane, while much smaller than it had been, was already moving to cover the ceiling in these chambers. There, amongst the gently flowing strands five feet or so above, trapped in thick locks of hair, was a very concerned earth pony.
  264. >Maxim’s frown deepened. “Sergeant. What in Celestia’s name are you doing up there?” she demanded.
  265. >“My best, Colonel,” the mare said simply.
  266. >“Can you get down, filly?”
  267. >“I’ve been trying to since I was picked up off the ground, ma’am.”
  268. >“And why did you go and let that happen to you?”
  269. >“The hair didn’t give me much of a choice.”
  270. >Maxim studied the mare before shrugging. “Well, that doesn’t really change our situation. Sergeant, you stay tight while we try to figure something out.”
  271. >The Sergeant did her best to salute, as some of Luna’s mane attempted to pull off her helmet. “Ma’am yes ma’am.”
  272. >“Alrighty,” Maxim said with a stomp of her hoof. “We’re in a much more secure location. It’s a lot smaller than I would have preferred, but it’s a lot better than what we were dealing with ten minutes ago.”
  273. >A hoof was raised in the crowd.
  274. >“Captain, what’s on your mind?” Maxim said, pointing at her.
  275. >The mare stepped forward. “Ma’am, in concern with the limited space. Is it really this safe for us to be this close to the entity? A half hour ago we were discussing whether or not it had the ability to take over our minds.”
  276. >“That’s still a worry, yes,” Maxim admitted. “BUT, if the creature here really wanted to turn us into slobbering slaves why hasn’t it done so already? It could be attempting to lull us into a false sense of security, or the Celestial Sisters could be the only ones it can currently focus on. If any of you feel strange, or notice anypony acting out of the ordinary, you all have standing orders to report and, if need be, contain your fellow guard; myself included. Sergeant, as of now, you’re our eye in the sky. You see anything funny you shout it out, understand?”
  277. >“Ma’am, I’ve been waiting my entire life for this moment,” the floated Sergeant said, currently trying her hardest to retrieve her helmet, which was in the clutches of some strands of mane.
  278. >“Good lass. Now, whoever brought the chalkboard set it up so we can draw up some ideas.”
  279. >Maxim’s words were met with blank stares. The mare looked around, sighed, then covered began to rub her temples with a hoof.
  280. >“I told you morons to-- no, no. Not right now…” She took a deep breath. “Somepony go and get the chalkboard, THEN we can start planning.”
  281.  
  282. ~_~_~_~_~_~_~
  283.  
  284. >“Hold me steady please. I don’t want to fall on this thing”
  285. >“We’re trying.”
  286. >“Well, try HARDER. You’re doing a really bad job.”
  287. >“Yeah, well, you’re REALLY heavy, Private.”
  288. >Three mares were holding their fellow guard aloft with a mixture of wing and brawn, high enough so that was directly over the creature. She had taken off all but her helmet, and her mane and tail were tied back. It was nerve wracking to be this close to a creature that was so easily able to bring their princesses low. A lesser mare might have turned tail and run.
  289. >Unfortunately for the Private, her idea had been picked first, and with some of the other mares holding her up, and the Colonel watching from a safe distance, she couldn’t exactly run. So she hung there, wiping the sweat from her face and doing her best to ignore the pounding of her head.
  290. >The Private held a feather in a shaking hoof. It was one volunteered by a pegasus in the room, who, while not too happy about it, knew sacrifices needed to be made for any mission. She held her breath, just watching the creature, trying to see if it was actually asleep or not.
  291. >It was genuinely hard for her to tell. It was so WEIRD looking; the odd mixture of a form she might have seen before walking the streets of Canterlot and something completely alien. If she wasn’t so terrified that it’d eat her brain if she didn’t hurry up, she might have spent a whole hour just looking at it’s face.
  292. >“Private, will you stop messing around? My darn legs are gonna fall off,” a Lieutenant grunted.
  293. >“Yes ma’am,” the Private whispered.
  294. >Holding her breath, she brought the tip of the feather down. Navigating around horns, she lowered it to what she thought was a nose. Again checking to see that it was asleep, and praying to anything that’d listen, she began to tickle the creature.
  295. >Seconds seemed like minutes. The creature didn’t seem to have any reaction at all. Was this weird alien--or whatever it was-- even ticklish? Could aliens even feel like ponies did? A mixture of relief and disappointment filled the Private. It looked like her plan was a bust.
  296. >She was about to move the feather away and have the mares under her pull her back, when, to her horror, the creature’s face scrunched up. The Private had just enough time to register the scrunch before its body suddenly tensed.
  297. >“Achhhhhoooooo!”
  298. >The Private let out a shrill scream as the creature lunged toward her. She launched herself into the air with such force that it sent the mares holding her up to the ground. She kicked and thrashed as she flew, pawing at her face. A Sergeant managed to catch her with magic before she hit the ground.
  299. >“Get away from the bed!”
  300. >“Spears! Ready spears!”
  301. >“Let’s get it!”
  302. >“Yeah! Welcome to Equestria, feather plucker!”
  303. >“Will all you all SHUT UP?!” Maxim demanded as she raced toward the still thrashing Private. “Get a medic over here. Luna knows what it did to her.”
  304. >“It sneezed in my darn face! Oh Celestia, I’m gonna melt, or have an alien baby explode out of my tummy. I might turn into one of them. Colonel, please tell me I won‘t turn into one of them.”
  305. >“Shhhh. It’s alright, Private. Just hold still.”
  306. >A crowd formed around the Private as an earth pony in a combat medic uniform dropped and opened a large medical bag right next to her. They were all so focused on watching the doctor work, they didn’t notice the alien sitting up. Its eyes were half-lidded and heavy with sleep, and a thick bead of drool was threatening to fall from its face as it sat there, hunched over from exhaustion. The sudden movement had woken up Celestia. The alicorn sat up right next to him, looking equally tired.
  307. >Both looked around the room, then the alien grumbled something. While the medic began applying a gauze around a still screeching Private’s head, they climbed off the bed. Celestia grabbed the creature’s hand with her mouth, guiding him over to the private royal bathroom.
  308. >“Stop thrashing, Private. Let the doc do her work.”
  309. >“My eyes were open, Colonel. All of its weird alien germs are in my eyes now. I bet I won’t even get cool superpower or anything! I wanna be like the Matttttttteeeeeeerrrrrhhhhooooorrrrnnnnn!”
  310. >“She’s hysterical. Help me hold her down. Doc, can you give her a shot or something?”
  311. >As four mares wrestled with the Private, none heard the sounds of a toilet flushing or a sink running. The alien exited the bathroom, led back to its bed by Celestia, who’s eyes were already closed. She jumped up into the covers, plopping down with a horsey snort. The alien was right behind her, climbing into its bed. This time, it rolled onto its other side, wrapping both arms around Luna and pulling her close. The alicorn smiled in her sleep, wiggling so that her body was pressed up against the creature’s just as close as Celestia had been. Celestia, noticing that her strange new friend wasn’t going to be holding her, took initiative, resting her chin on top of its head and laying a wing over both it and her sister. She managed to pull the blanket over the three of them once more before all were once again asleep.
  312. >Not a moment later, Raven looked back at the bed as the medic finished wrapping up the poor Private like a mummy. Her eyes narrowed, before a small smile worked its way onto her face.
  313. >“I think I have an idea…”
  314.  
  315. ------------------------------
  316.  
  317. >Along with the frame and mattress, the sheets and covers could not be moved by magical means. None of the guards had any idea why that was, though, to be frank, there weren’t a whole lot of eggheads wearing the gold. After some experimentation, they all discovered that while magic couldn’t move anything on the bed, things they had on their persons *could*.
  318. >Each guard was issued a piece of cloth. It was a long and thick scarf that they used to wrap around their necks so that their armor wouldn’t rub and cause sores when worn for any length of time. Raven had acquired four of these scarves, and four unicorns. Said unicorns held their scarves with magic, and were using them to hold onto the edges of the creature’s bedsheets. They held the sheet as taut as possible, lifting all those lying upon the bed enough to allow four more scarves to slip underneath the sheets. These were pressed underneath the alicorns and creature for support. Raven trotted around the bed, checking all angles, making sure that everything was perfect. Then, with a deep breath, she nodded to Maxim.
  319. >The Colonel saluted, then signaled all the unicorns in the room with a wave of her hoof. Slowly, the sheets were lifted into the air. The scarves below were unfurled, spreading out along the sheet as much as possible, ensuring that there was no dip. If the bed’s occupants were smooshed together, or jostled too harshly, things could end very poorly for all of them.
  320. >They rose by inches. One of the unicorns licked her lips. Another wiped a bead of sweat from her brow. Inches turned into a foot, then two feet, then three. There, Maxim gave another signal. A trio of earth ponies surged forward. One hurried to the foot of the bed, the other two trotted to the back. With a quiet and quick count, they lifted the bed and carried it to the other side of the room.
  321. >Everypony waited for several nerve-wracking seconds, expecting something to happen. The creature waking up. The bed itself turning into a monster. Discord himself appearing with a bag of popcorn. Thankfully, none of that happened. It looked like, mercifully, that they were in the clear.
  322. >With one last gesture from the Colonel, the unicorns lowered the alicorns and creature down onto the great plush rug in the center of the room. It was only when they touched down did Raven release that held breath.
  323. >“Huh. I can’t believe that worked,” Maxim said, moving toward Raven’s side.
  324. >“Honestly, I didn’t know if it was going to work either,” Raven said, giving the mare a smile of relief. “They’re still together, but at least now we can get to them easier.”
  325. >“Yeah, them being on that bed was a real pain in the flank,” Maxim agreed.
  326. >She made her way over to the still sleeping trio, stopping just short of the bedsheet. Looking down at them, she frowned.
  327. >“Alright, somepony get a spear.”
  328. >“A spear?! What in Equestria are you talking about?” Raven demanded. “I didn’t help just so you could STAB somepony!”
  329. >“We’ll only stab it a little bit,” Maxim offered. “Just enough to get it away from the princesses.”
  330. >“I’d really rather you not stab it at all. Why don’t we just walk over and wake them up?”
  331. >“Because it might kill us. Better to stab first and ask questions when the royalty is out of the room.”
  332. >“Why can’t this end peacefully, Colonel? Why do you need to stab the creature?”
  333. >“Because peace is for babies, and this thing has been a pain in my flank for the whole morning.”
  334. >“That doesn’t give you the right to STAB it!”
  335. >“Says who?”
  336. >“Common sense and reason for one!”
  337. >“Ha! Jokes on you; nopony in the guard has either of those!”
  338. >As the two began shouting at each other yet again, Princess Luna began to squirm. The rug underneath her, while comfortable, was not the mattress she had been sleeping on just a few moments before. She rubbed her snout against the creature’s chest, a frown coming to her face. While she could sleep through an invasion with little effort, one thing that she couldn’t weather was a change in sleeping space.
  339. >No. This would not do at all.
  340. >Maxim, who had been mid-rant about how Raven’s father was a yellow-bellied gryphon and she should just keep her trap shut and let the professionals handle this, trailed off. She watched as the rug that the creature and two princesses were lying on was engulfed with a dark purple aura and was lifted into the air. The guard, who had been trying to pass her a spear for the last two minutes, was watching the trio float with an open-mouthed expression.
  341. >“Oh no you don’t,” she spat, snatching the spear and leveling it at the slowly rising bedsheets. “Not this time!”
  342. >The Colonel let out a mighty warcry. Lunging forward, she drove the tip of the spear into the creature’s back. Or tried to.
  343. >When the speartip touched Luna’s aura there was a sound like thunder. The spear, without any warning whatsoever, crumbled into dust. Maxim looked down into her hooves, ears flat against her skull as the princesses and creature floated over her head. The other ponies, Raven included, were quick to scramble out of the way as the rug was levitated to the other side of the room, where Luna’s bed sat.
  344. >“Colonel, are you alright, ma’am?”, a Private asked, as the rug was gently lowered onto the bed. “What the heck happened?”
  345. >“Magical backlash,” a unicorn Sergeant said, making a face. “It looked like the princess’s magic overwhelmed the rune in the spear. We’re lucky it only disintegrated, as powerful as alicorns are.”
  346. >Raven couldn’t decide whether to feel smug or horrified that something disastrous had almost happened in one of the princesses’ personal chambers. So, instead, she took a deep breath and walked over to the statue-still Colonel. Reaching out, she placed a hoof on her shoulder.
  347. >“Maxim, are you alright?” she asked.
  348. >Very slowly, Maxim’s eyes began to narrow. She could feel something building up in her chest. For most commanders, it might have been a sense of hopelessness or panic. Not her. What she felt, as she looked up in her highness’s bed, was anger.
  349. >“Ladies, get the gosh darn emotional support cannons.”
  350. >Raven attempted to say something. The Colonel quickly placed a hoof over her mouth, glaring daggers at the critter that had so thoroughly ruined her day.
  351. >The guards looked at each other.
  352. >“Which emotional support cannons were you thinking, ma’am?” one asked.
  353. >By this point, Maxim’s eyes were so narrowed nopony could tell whether she even had her eyes open or not. “All of them. Get as much gunpowder as you can too. This mare isn’t messing around anymore. We’re BLOWING. THIS. THING. UP.”
  354. >“Wait a second!” Raven said, wheeling around in front of her. “Nopony is blowing anything up.”
  355. >“That. Is. Where. You’re. Wrong. Filly,” Maxim said, her eye twitching as she poked Raven’s chest with each empathized word.
  356. >“You’re going to hurt the princesses!”
  357. >“We’ll shoot around them.”
  358. >“Shoot around?!”
  359. >“What are you, a parrot? Yes. Shoot around. That stupid thing is big enough that we can hit it without too much collateral damage.”
  360. >“I--”
  361. >“Shut it. I’ve humored you way too much today. No more. I’m not gonna be a Mrs. Nice Mare while that stupid thing is laughing at us!”
  362. >Raven let out an angry snort. She drew herself to her full height--which wasn’t all that impressive--ramming her muzzle against the Colonel’s.
  363. >“Don’t you tell me to shut it! I’m not going to just stand here and--”
  364. >Without thinking, Maxim shoved the smaller mare. It wasn’t a hard shove, but it was enough to cause Raven to stumble backwards a few steps. The earth pony just stared at the soldier with widened eyes, as if she couldn’t believe what had just happened. Maxim just stared back, jaw set, eyes narrowed, so angry that she wanted to kick her helmet through a wall.
  365. >The room became deathly silent and still. Even Princess Celestia’s snoring disappeared as the two mares glared at each other. Raven took a step, then another. She shoved the Colonel right back. While not a soldier, Raven was still an earth pony; one used to the back breaking labor of keeping this entire castle clean to boot. Maxim was sent tail over snout into the air for a good five feet before landing in a clatter of armor on her belly.
  366. >“Oh… OH IT’S ON!”
  367. >Maxim leapt to her hooves. With a warcry, she charged Raven with her head lowered. The other mare let out a yelp of surprise before she was knocked off her hoof and through an expensive looking coffee table.
  368. >“Oh, you feather biter!”
  369. >“Hit me will you?!”
  370. >“YOU STARTED IT!”
  371. >“YEAH, AND I’M FINISHING IT!”
  372. >The two mares became a flurry of punching, headbutting, cursing, and bucking as they rolled around on Princess Luna’s fine floor. The guards, always excited for a good scrap, quickly crowded around.
  373. >“I got ten bits on glasses.”
  374. >“I got fifty.”
  375. >“Five for me.”
  376. >“I got twenty on the Colonel.”
  377. >“Kiss up.”
  378. >“You keep running that mouth I’ll smack it right off.”
  379. >“Yeah?”
  380. >“Yeah!”
  381. >With a yawn, Princess Celestia rose into a sitting position, stopping any further brawls from breaking out. The guards watched as she smacked her lips, looking around the room. She appeared tired, but those few hours she had been with the creature had perked her right up. Rubbing an eye with her hoof, she looked down at her sister and the creature that had held the two of them captive for the entire morning. The princesses’ head cocked to the side as she stared at the large creature. Reaching over it, she nudged her sister.
  382. >It took a minute or so of constant prodding, but Luna was also awake, though far less lively than her sister. She had appeared to be ready to blow a gasket at being woken up so early, when Celestia pointed out the alien being that had an arm slung over her barrel.
  383. >“...Huh,” the guards heard her say, before reaching down to boop the creature’s tiny button nose with a hoof.
  384. >Both mares began poking the creature until, very slowly it opened its eyes and sat up. It said something in a low, tired voice, pulling out an earplug. A confused Luna replied after a moment’s hesitation. A back and forth conversation went on between the alicorns and the creature for a few minutes before the creature, though obviously confused, nodded. The guards watched as all three rose out of the bed. Celestia grabbed one of the creature’s hands with her mouth, and Luna grabbed the other, and both led it out of the room.
  385. >The guards looked at each other, then at Raven and Maxim, who, it had seemed, had stopped fighting like animals and began fighting like gentlemares. Both mares were currently in sitting positions, forelegs holding each others’ shoulders so that they could headbutt the other mare as hard as they could. Maxim’s hair was in disarray, and blood was freely leaking down her nose. Meanwhile, Raven’s glasses were broken, and the beginnings of a black eye was beginning to form. Both ponies were growling at each other like a pair of angry timberwolves in between headbutts.
  386. >“Um, Colonel… ma’am?” one soldier said, taking a step forward.
  387. >Maxim replied with a neigh so furious that it caused the mare to fall back on her rump.
  388. >“I got fifty on the Colonel,” she immediately squeaked.
  389. >And, as if a switch was flicked, the betting once again started up.
  390.  
  391. ~_~_~_~_~_~_~_
  392.  
  393. >“--So, forgive me for repeating you, dear, but these are called waffles?”
  394. >Celestia poked at the food that had been set on her plate. It almost looked like the pancakes that she made herself and Luna every morning, though these were square in shape. She had watched the nice young stallion before her, seated in a chair far too small for him, use an iron casting that the cooks used to make pastries to make these “waffles”. It really was a delightful delicacy; she had no idea why her little ponies had never thought of it.
  395. >To her left was Luna, who had a plate stacked high with the treats. Her little sister was eating as if she had entirely forgotten her table manners, or any manners at all for that matter. She was tearing into her food with muzzle and hooves, stuffing her face as quickly as she could without choking. Bits of waffle and syrup were ruining the nice clean tablecloth. And the floor. And the ceiling. There also appeared to be a waffle impaled upon her horn.
  396. >Celestia’s muzzle scrunched up at the sight, before she turned her attention toward the creature. A “human”, he called himself. Anon was his name. A lovely name; rolled right off the tongue.
  397. >“Um, yes ma’am,” Anon said with a nod, staring at Luna with a mixture of wonder and horror. “Thanks again for not being the kind of aliens that want to steal my brain or something.”
  398. >“Oh, we might pick your mind, but there'll be no brain stealing. You have my word,” Celestia said with a chuckle. “We’ll have breakfast then we’ll see about the situation you've found yourself in. I’m sure we can get you back home by sunset.”
  399. >“Thank you very much,” Anon said with a smile.
  400. >He then frowned, and a look flashed across his face as if he remembered something.
  401. >“Hey, that whole thing I woke up to that we walked around. I don’t need to be worried about that or anything, do I?”
  402. >“Oh, I’m sure everything’s fine,” Celestia said with a wave of her hoof.
  403. >A thunderous neigh, loud and filled with rage, tore through the halls of the castle with such force that it sent birds for a half mile around into the air in flight. Luna, so wrapped up eating all but the table itself, was oblivious to the noise. It made Anon’s head whip up, his brow furrowing. Celestia’s ear twitched, and her confidence cracked.
  404. >“...Oh second thought, it may behoove us if I perhaps went to see what was going on. After breakfast of course."

[Archive, RGRE?] Sleepy Hostages and Emotional Support Cannons

by MrSkeltal

[Archive] Sleepiness in Ponyville

by MrSkeltal

[RGREqG] Sirens + Sunset Herd

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[RGRE] Anon is Deathly Afraid of Anthros

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[RGRE] Anthroshy has Dreams of Domming Anon

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