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Tales from a Double Date - Part ThreeMornings at a military academy began much like mornings on a working farm, often before the rising of the sun. Trumpets blared throughout the dorms, and every recruit was roused to clean themselves up before setting off for their tasks for the day. After freshening up and making use of the dorm’s restroom, the new recruits marched off to their first day of basic training out on the school’s athletics field. Flash groggily donned his uniform and made his way out of the dorm behind his roomie, then filed in with the rest as though by instinct, glad that the weather was at least looking promising. New recruits at Wing Point could not, of course, all go through basic training as one big group. They would be divided up into groups of twenty, with each group placed in the charge of a drill instructor. The only guarantee about who was in what group was due to practicality more than anything else, as they were divided along the lines of those who had wings and those who hadn’t. Some adjustments, however, had been made over time as Equestria’s population had grown more diverse. Regardless of who was in what group, however, there was no guarantee that they would pass as on average, fifteen percent of recruits would flunk out for one reason or another. Nonetheless, they hadn’t gone this far simply to give up. Much to his surprise, Flash found himself in familiar company. While he wasn’t surprised at being in the company of his roommate, he caught sight of two familiar mares, as well as a few other odd ponies that he didn’t remember speaking to the previous day. He hardly had a chance to consider the odds of this before the heard what had to be the voice of their drill instructor. “Ten-hut!” Instantly, the twenty recruits snapped to attention and lined up. They kept their faces forward as their drill instructor approached, but did their best to conceal their surprise at what they saw. Their drill instructor was not a pony, but in fact a minotaur, the chevrons on his shoulder identifying him as a master sergeant. He marched in front of the group of recruits, silent as he surveyed his charges until he reached the end of the line. “So this is what I have to work with.” He turned about to face them again. “The latest and greatest recruits in the Equestrian Royal Guard. The few. The proud.” He snorted. “Not yet you’re not! The lot of you have years of schooling ahead of you, and before that, you have to deal with me! So don’t get any ideas that this will be a cakewalk!” “Sir! No sir!” “Now then recruits, for those of you who don’t know, I am Master Sergeant Blood Stripe! For the next six weeks, your plots belong to me! You will obey my orders and heed my commands! I tell you to jump, you jump! Is that clear?!” “Sir! Yes sir!” The drill instructor snorted in approval. “Well let’s see you do it! Right face!” As one, the row of recruits turned ninety degrees right. “About face!” The recruits then did a full one-eighty. “About face!” They turned once more, and seemingly satisfied, the instructor called, “Double time, march!” With Blood Stripe at their head, the group set off at a quick march, focused only on following his instruction. So focused was he on the march, Flash had no thought for what was coming next. This was his task, and it needed to be done. - “Your drill instructor was a minotaur? Why have a minotaur looking after a group of pegasi, thestrals and griffons?” Flash shrugged. “Never had the stones to ask. Never thought it was appropriate, either, but I guessed it was a lack of resources. Not enough pegasi drill instructors to go around, or something to that effect.” Quiver nodded. “Might explain a few things about what Rainbow Dash has told me about her time training with the Wonderbolts.” He put that aside. “Anyway, I’m glad that drill instructors in real life aren’t nearly as intimidating as the movies make them out to be.” Sunrunner smirked. “Movies exaggerate, Quivs. Real drill instructors aren’t snarling psychopaths. They won’t baby you either, of course. That isn’t their job.” Flash shook his head. “Nope. The job of the drill instructor is to break you down, and then build you back up into a soldier. They’re supposed to make sure you’re up for the physical demands of the job, and help develop a sense of loyalty between you and your fellow recruits.” “By way of giving you a mutual enemy.” Twilight shook her head at the flame-haired mare’s summation. “Shining Armor’s told me about that, but I’ve never been able to wrap my head around it. It just sounds counterproductive to hold animosity towards somepony you’re supposed to take orders from.” “Better animosity towards the drill instructor than towards your fellow recruits. Besides, a soldier’s job isn’t supposed to be easy. If we can’t handle basic training, we sure can’t handle action in the field.” Flash scowled. “Makes me wish more drill instructors were like the Sarge, to be honest. And that more officers took their roles seriously.” “Maybe they will after recent events.” Quiver looked up from his meal. “Sorry if that was out of line, but…” Both soldiers were unanimous in their reply. “It wasn’t.” The pair shook their heads in unison before Flash continued, “Anyway, basic was harder on some of us than others, though exactly how varied from one pony to another.” He flexed a wing. “Still, that happens.” - Much to Flash’s displeasure, he was soon reminded that as harsh as the drill instructor could be, the exercises were that much worse. Granted, he’d been warned of this issue far ahead of time, and made sure to exercise regularly to prepare himself for what was ahead, but that could only carry him so far. And a stallion in his physical condition could only get so many wing-ups done so quickly, no matter how much work he put in. Flash let out a heave of relief at his last wing-up, glad to return to his hooves. He got fully back upright as the drill instructor reached him, a grim expression on the minotaur’s face. Flash kept his eyes focused on the horizon, however, as he had no desire to be singled out. “Well, it seems I found myself with some recruits who aren’t completely useless!” Blood Stripe stood at attention himself as he called out, “And now that you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time you got some real food into you! Get to the mess hall for breakfast, all of you, and report back to me here at zero-six-thirty hours sharp! Dismissed!” The recruits let out some relief as they made their way to the mess hall. Flash trailed a bit from the rest of the group, but regained ground as he recovered his breath. The thought of a decent breakfast certainly didn’t discourage him. The food wasn’t anything spectacular, mostly oatmeal and jerky and juices with some extras to help add some flavor, but it was welcome after the morning exercises, and Flash soon found himself at an empty table, albeit one that soon found itself filled with familiar faces. “I have never been so glad to get some grub into me.” Sunrunner was the first to join him, alongside a thestral mare he didn’t recognize. “Hey Flash. This is Pixie Dust, my roomie.” “Hey.” “We only have a half-hour for meals.” A familiar bespectacled mare joined them and continued, “We should focus on eating before making conversation.” That prompted Pixie Dust to smirk. “You must be Sugarcoat. Not even a ‘hello’, huh?” The mare glared at her before continuing with her meal, and the thestral remarked, “Life of the party, you.” “Don’t take it too personally.” Sunny Flare then joined them, and Lemon Zest claimed another chair in her wake alongside another mare, this one another unicorn with her rose and pale green mane tied back in a ponytail. “We all handle things in our own ways. Still, very observant.” Pixie Dust shrugged. “It’s a good idea to pay attention, and my roomie’s good with details.” She gestured with her spork. “Sunny Flare and Lemon Zest.” Her utensil landed on the newcomer as she remarked, “Decided to stick with me for meals, Two-Face?” The unicorn rolled her eyes. “Dumb luck, trust me.” She turned to the two pegasi and introduced herself. “Sour Sweet.” The flame-haired pegasus gestured to herself and the stallion in turn. “Sunrunner and Flash Sentry. What’s with the nickname?” Before she could get an answer, the last chair at their table was filled as a familiar blue-maned pegasus slammed her tray down. “Ha! They call that exhausting? I bet I set a record this morning!” She smirked in the direction of her fellow fliers and added, “Definitely outdid the three of you.” “Measuring yourself against others is hardly a wise thing to do.” Indigo brushed off Sugarcoat’s remark, then dug into her own meal. “Still, you gotta keep up the pace in a place like this, or you’ll get left behind.” “I think we’re keeping pace just fine.” Indigo laughed at Sunrunner’s remark, but kept her eyes on Flash as she noted, “Some of you are.” “Okay, let’s cool things down, huh?” Sour’s expression was focused on Indigo as she made her point clear with a strained smile. “The day’s still young, and there’s plenty left to deal with, so let’s worry about that, okay?” Her expression turned foul as she added, “Before someone loses something they shouldn’t.” Sunrunner nodded. “My sentiments exactly.” Indigo took the hint and kept silent, but her smirk remained as she dug into her meal. Flash, meanwhile, felt what good mood he had deteriorating faster than he’d like. - “Yeesh. I’m glad Sour tried to keep the peace, but still, that Zap mare’s sounding more and more like a jerk the longer this story goes on.” “She definitely didn’t leave a good first impression.” Sunrunner shrugged and admitted, “I probably didn’t help much on my end. Some of what I said probably came across as egging her on, but all I was doing was trying to stand my ground. You have to do that, show that you aren’t afraid to stand up for yourself.” “Otherwise they’ll walk all over you.” Quiver frowned. “Easier said than done for some of us.” “It helps to know that you have someone watching your back, though.” Flash smiled. “That’s one thing being in the guard is supposed to teach its recruits, officers and NCOs alike. That we’re supposed to look after one another.” “Exactly. We aren’t just trained to fight or move in formation. Basic training includes everything from first aid to firearm training to surviving in hostile environments. We even have training to protect against mind control spells.” Sunrunner turned sheepish as she admitted, “Mind you, they’re only good against weak stuff.” The earth pony shrugged. “Better than nothing, and I imagine protection like that can only go so far anyway.” “Unfortunately, yes.” Twilight didn’t elaborate any further, but she took some small comfort in the fact that her friend didn’t blame her brother for what Chrysalis had done to him. Though looking into better protections seemed long overdue. “Anyway, the day wasn’t all marching and exercise, was it?” Sunrunner shook her head. “No, just that morning before breakfast. The rest of the day was dedicated to first aid training. Believe it or not, we didn’t even touch anything that could be used for a weapon for a week.” “Good thing, too.” Flash didn’t elaborate beyond that. “In any case, getting past that first week was the tricky part, for all of us. There was a lot that needed to be learned, and some ponies had worse lessons than others.” - It was the end of the last day of their first week at the academy, and Flash was reaching the end of his rope. The drill instructor wasn’t the problem, as Flash knew it was the sergeant’s job to act the way he was acting. His problem certainly wasn’t with the work that was expected of him, as that same work was expected of every other recruit. No, the problem wasn’t with the work or their taskmaster. “Man, I can’t believe all of you are still here!” The problem was Indigo Zap. It felt like every time she sat down at the table for a meal, she’d launch into a boast or talk herself up. And maybe it was just in his head, but it felt like she was doing her best to knock him down at the same time. “Seriously though, fifteen percent of recruits aren’t supposed to make it, right? You’d think at least one of us…” And he was fed up with it. Flash had barely touched his meal. It looked pretty good, too, some sort of fried fish with wild rice and steamed veggies. Certainly better than the reputation military food had would’ve suggested. But unfortunately, the other tables were filled, and you couldn’t take your food out of the mess hall. And he couldn’t stand dealing with Indigo Zap for one more second, so his choices were limited. He picked up his tray and left the table, much to the surprise of his fellow recruits, and went off to dispose of his meal. He’d eat his food at another table starting tomorrow, but for tonight, it looked as though he was going hungry. “Whoa, Flash? You got a problem with the food?” Zap had apparently decided to follow him. “If it’s too much for you…” He spun about and shoved his tray into her path, much to her surprise. “You want it? There. All yours.” The mare gave him a flabbergasted look before she turned angry. “Hey! What’s crawled up your plot?!” “You have.” Flash had just enough restraint left to keep from raising his voice, but his frustration was clear. “You come in here, day after day, acting like you’re the best thing born with wings. Showing off, acting up, acting like the rest of us are beneath you. You think this place is some big competition? That you’re here to win some kind of contest? We aren’t here to get some fancy prize, we’re here to learn to be soldiers! To help ponies, defend the populace, do for them what they can’t! That’s what I’m here to do, at least! That’s what I want to do! And every time you go off like that, I get a reminder that there’s every chance I could fail, despite all the hard work I’m putting in! And that’s the last thing I want to do!” He exhaled. “Not every pony gets a fair shake of it. And frankly, I’m sick of being reminded of that.” Flash turned about, quietly ignored that the mess hall had taken notice of their little confrontation and put his tray full of food off to be cleaned by the kitchen staff. He tried to keep a stoic expression on his face, but deep down, he found himself thinking that he’d be lucky if he wasn’t packing his bags the next day. - Hours later, Flash fumed to himself as he sat on the steps of the stallions’ dorms, glad for at least a little solitude. He wasn’t worried about getting in any serious trouble, as curfew was still a long way off, but he hoped that he could stew in his frustration without being interrupted. The last thing he needed was to get taunted or snarked at by somepony, and he could already hear Zap taunting him, or Sugarcoat making some snarky, tactless remark the instant she laid eyes on him. She hadn’t done it yet, but it seemed inevitable. Then something caught his ears, and his gaze went skyward. Was somepony singing? Granted, this was Equestria, such a thing wasn’t uncommon, but still. Regardless, the sound was coming from a nearby rooftop. Specifically, that of the mares’ dorm next door. He briefly weighed his options, whether satisfying his curiosity was worth the strain he’d be putting on his wings, or worse, breaking a fraternization rule. But he soon realized that the question would nag at him forever, and thus, his mind was made up. Flash couldn’t fly very high, or very fast, but as he’d demonstrated, he could handle short hops. The fact that the two buildings were so close together certainly helped, and he soon bounded his way up like a greased ball bearing through a pinball machine. He soon reached one roof to find a pony that he didn’t expect, and certainly not one he’d hoped that he’d see after his outburst today. Seated on the rooftop, her gaze fixed upon the moon and her singing halted, was Sunrunner. He wasn’t quite sure why she’d gone silent, but the only conclusion that came to him was that she’d noticed him. He was about to approach before she continued to sing. “And when the night wind starts to sing…” Flash opted to remain silent, and sat down upon the roof, only for a loose bit of debris to rustle underneath him. The two groaned in unison, and their eyes met, his showing frustration and hers a weary annoyance. “What are you doing up here?” The stallion stood up and joined her. “I could ask you the same thing. Pretty sure you singing on a roof and singing isn’t allowed.” “I didn’t see anything in the rules against it.” Sunrunner turned away from him and turned her gaze back up to the moon. “Guess I won’t have another shot at it after tonight. Once word gets around, I won’t be able to get away with it anymore.” She sighed. “You’d think it’d go away as you got older.” “What do you…?” Flash didn’t bother to finish that question, as he recognized the tone behind that voice. Instead, he shook his head. “What happened earlier wasn’t your fault. Zap pushed my buttons too many times is all.” “Yeah, but I did a lousy job of stepping in and defusing the situation. And don’t try to tell me that wasn’t any of my business either.” She bowed her head as she admitted, “Part of being a soldier is looking after your comrades, and I haven’t been the best about that.” She looked at him sadly. “Life’s beaten you down a little, huh?” Flash shrugged. “More than I’d like.” “Lot more of that going around than there should be.” That surprised Flash as she continued, “I had a good friend when I was younger, and life beat him down pretty hard too. That song was for him.” She frowned and added, “With him.” Flash knew that tone, and despite himself, he ventured, “How bad?” “Bad enough that you’d have to have a heart of stone to not empathize for him. Constant bullying, a parent who treated him like garbage, apathetic authority figures…” She idly ran a wing through her mane and added, “I got a taste of that myself. Tried to help him even before that.” “You miss him.” “Yeah.” Flash suddenly got worried. “He’s not…?” “No, thank the Maker. At least, I hope not.” She sank as she admitted, “We lost touch, though. A while ago. It’ll be a miracle if I see him again.” She opted to turn discussion elsewhere and asked, “So how’d you get up here?” He shrugged. “Kinda bounced between the buildings. Nothing special.” “I’d say it’s pretty special. Not a lot of ponies would’ve thought to do something like that.” “Well, not a lot of ponies have to think outside the box like I do. You’ve seen me out on the course.” “Yeah, I have. And I think you’re doing a damn good job out there.” Before he could protest, she pressed, “I’m serious! You’re giving your all, and that’s important! Anyone with common sense can see that, especially the DI.” She gently ribbed him with a wing and offered, “So don’t let anypony get you down, huh? You made it this far, and you’re gonna go all the way. I know it.” Flash stared at her, and finally smiled. “Thanks.” The smile turned into a grin. “Warbler.” Sunrunner laughed. “Damn right I am, Hopper.” The two laughed, the tension between them finally having faded. “So, I guess you’re not just here to try and impress the mares. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing. That armor’s gonna look a lot less impressive to a filly from the inside, trust me.” “No, and I kinda figured on that. I’m here because… well, it’s because I want to prove something to myself. That I’m not…” He flexed his wings. “That I’m not the sort of stallion who’d hurt somepony just because he could. That I can help others.” He turned nervous as he asked, “You up for a sob story?” She smiled reassuringly. “Everypony has ‘em. Some are just better about sharing them.”- “That little exchange led to me and Flash becoming friends.” Sunrunner shrugged and admitted, “Word eventually got out about my singing during the night, though, and that’s what got me stuck with my nickname.” Quiver grinned. “Worse nicknames than ‘Warbler’, though.” “Dang right. Plus, I wasn’t the odd pony out anymore.” She then sighed. “I guess the two of you know?” “About what happened to Flash and his mother, and who hurt them.” Twilight nodded. “He’s told us. I still can’t believe somepony would do that.” “Unfortunately, some ponies are obsessed with power and control. And some take whatever excuse they can get to exercise those things, and don’t care what the consequences are because they know they’ll get away with it.” Flash scowled. “They don’t know everything.” “And it’s a good thing that they don’t.” Sunrunner smiled. “It’s also good that some ponies can learn from their mistakes.” At Quiver and Twilight’s surprised expressions, she explained, “We ended up with an audience.” - Sunrunner shook her head and let out a mournful sigh. “Geez, Flash. Nopony should have to go through something like that. I mean, I’m glad things are better for you and your mom now and you’ve got a real dad, but still…” “Yeah, it’s not something I like advertising.” “No wonder. Even ignoring that it’s nopony’s business what your foalhood was like…” She paused as both of them heard something from nearby. She groaned and turned towards the door leading to the stairs and called, “You can come out now. No use hiding.” The door opened, and Pixie Dust emerged. “Hey, sorry about the eaves-dropping. I was just wondering where you’d gone, heard the singing and...” She stepped aside to reveal a quartet of familiar mares. “They invited themselves along.” Lemon Zest meekly waved. “Hey guys! Nice night, huh?” Flash scowled. “And how much did all of you hear?” “Enough.” Indigo stepped forward, her face marked by shock and shame. “You’re really a preemie?” At his nod, her gaze moved to his wings. “No wonder you took so long to finish in morning fitness compared to the rest of us, and what happened in the mess hall…” “Your attitude could clearly be interpreted as arrogance and bullying from his perspective, even taking into account your likely ignorance of his condition.” The blue-maned mare glared at Sugarcoat, who merely raised an eyebrow in response. Indigo’s expression softened. “Yeah.” She turned back to Flash and explained herself. “Honestly, I didn’t know. And I probably did go too far.” At his raised eyebrow, she corrected herself. “Okay, I did go too far. Still, I’m as scared as you are. You ever heard of Wind Rider?” Sunrunner sat up in surprise. “The Wonderbolt ace?” “He’s my grandfather, and he’s left me some pretty big shoes to fill.” Indigo sat down and admitted, “I’m here because I want to be a Wonderbolt, and carry on his legacy.” The flame-haired mare gave her an incredulous look. “You know there is a civilian track for joining the Wonderbolts.” “Yeah, but…” Indigo sighed. “But my sister’s already a shoo-in for that. She’s already got Grandpa’s recommendation and everything. And the less time I spend around Dusty, the better. Guess there’s more of her in me than I’d like, though.” Flash’s scowl faded. “At least you’re recognizing it.” “And if it helps, you aren’t the only one here because of a family legacy.” Heads turned to Sunny Flare as she approached. “I’m going to assume that none of you have heard of Duchess Majesty? Well, except for you Sugarcoat, obviously.” “Yeah, actually.” She turned to Sunrunner in surprise as the mare explained, “The Duchess Majesty was a noblemare. She was one of the first unicorn commanders of the Royal Guard. There’s probably a statue or bust of her somewhere on campus.” “She’s also Sunny Flare’s ancestor.” Sugarcoat’s admission surprised everypony, and the mare shrugged. “It was going to come out eventually.” Sunny rolled her eyes. “Yes, obviously.” She sat down herself and explained, “Our peerage began in the courts of the first unicorn king, and continues on today. I’m currently second in the line of succession, after my father.” “Which means it’s held by your paternal grandparent,” Flash surmised. “My grandmother, Penumbra. And since my ancestor’s time in defense of the realm, members of my family have served in the Royal Guard. From border skirmishes against caribou tribes to the last war with the Griffon Empire, members of my family have fought for Equestria and her citizens. It is a legacy that I am expected to uphold.” She sighed. “I have mixed feelings about it.” “I’m here because of the food.” Sunny rolled her eyes. “Sugarcoat, two other ponies have born their souls and I’ve just tossed aside what anonymity I have. The least you can do is be completely honest, dearie.” “I am being completely honest.” The bespectacled mare seemed to acknowledge her fellow recruit’s unspoken point, and took a seat as she explained, “My parents are two of the most prominent critics in Canterlot. They have very, very high opinions of themselves, and very specific tastes in regards to their professions. Mother especially, to the point that she was very specific about what could be eaten in our household.” “So your mom’s a food critic?” “With very specific tastes. She’d take one look at what’s served in the mess and toss it aside in a heartbeat.” Sugarcoat narrowed her eyes and added, “The food they serve in the military is better than anything she or I have ever been served at any restaurant that’s met her approval, and certainly better than what our staff at home has made.” “And you’re here to break away from that.” At the bespectacled mare’s nod, Sunrunner nodded. “I get that.” Indigo grinned. “Definitely explains how you eat, Tubby.” Sugarcoat responded with a smirk as the mare prodded, “But becoming a soldier just for better food?” The smirk faded. “There might have been a little bit of spite involved also.” She turned to Sunrunner and Flash and admitted, “The two of you probably have the best reasons for being here out of all of us. At least, so far.” Pixie Dust shrugged. “Something tells me I’m not changing that. I’m here because I thought it was a good idea, and I wanted to travel.” She stretched her wings a little and added, “Plus I kinda like the idea of reminding folks that ponies like me exist.” Lemon Zest laughed. “I guess I’m here for the same reasons as Pixie and Sunny. But I’m really looking forward to getting my hooves on some of the really cool toys the Royal Guard has.” She waved a hoof. “Not weapons though, I’m talking stuff like radio equipment. They say the Guard has stuff the civilian market’s not gonna see for years.” Flash laughed. “I hope you’re right.” He sobered up and admitted, “Anyway, why we’re here isn’t as important as the fact that we are here. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not going to leave easily. Not if I have a choice in the matter.” “Me either.” The other mares echoed Sunrunner’s sentiment as she continued, “Won’t be easy, but in the end, nothing ever is.” “And it’ll help if I don’t come across as a jerk. Definitely don’t want to.” Indigo offered a hopeful expression to Flash. “Can you forgive? Maybe?” He shrugged. “Maybe. Give me time.”- “Wow. I’m not surprised that Indigo could own up to her acting insensitive, but I’m a little surprised she did it that quickly.” Quiver smiled. “I’m not complaining, though. I just wish I’d known more ponies with that level of maturity.” “And I wish there were more ponies with that much maturity.” Twilight frowned. “Ask Rainbow Dash to tell you about her time at Wonderbolt Academy sometime.” “Oooh, don’t get me started about what I’ve heard about that.” Sunrunner scowled. “I’m just glad the superintendent we had was nothing like Spitfire. That mare’s got a long way to go.” Quiver quirked an eyebrow and turned to Flash. “Then I guess that exchange you had with Indigo didn’t go without incident.” The other stallion shook his head. “No, not without incident.” - “Recruit Flash Sentry! Recruit Indigo Zap!” The pair stiffened as the drill instructor singled them out, neither having any delusions about what they were being singled out for. “Seems that you two dunderheaded featherbrains have attracted the attention of the commandant! Whatever the rut you did, it must have been epic! Get your plots to his office now, on hoof, double time!” “Sir! Yes sir!” The pair did as instructed, and made their way to one of the central office buildings on campus. Finding the office of the commandant wasn’t difficult, as such things are clearly marked, and the pair barely had a second before they were prompted inside. Seated before them was a stallion that both had seen around campus during their brief time at Wing Point, but had thus far not seen professionally. Brigadier General Flintlock was something of an old soldier, and cut an imposing figure even behind a desk. “Recruits. Close the door behind you. Doesn’t matter which one.” Flash followed his instruction, and the commandant continued, “I’m told there was an altercation between the two of you in the mess yesterday evening. Care to explain yourselves?” “It was my fault, sir.” Indigo’s prompt reply surprised Flash, and she continued on. “Circumstances have led to Flash and myself being in one another’s proximity since we began basic, and I’ve been far more abrasive with him than I should be to the point of implying that I expected him to wash out of the academy. Things came to a head yesterday in the mess, and Flash attempted to remove himself from the situation before things went too far. I failed to recognize it as such, and that led to the altercation yesterday.” The old stallion regarded her for a moment, then turned to face the other recruit. “And?” “And I’ll be the last to deny what happened, or Indigo’s account. I also won’t deny that I might have been more sensitive to her remarks than I should have been, but what’s done is done, and I can’t change it. Whatever disciplinary action you deem adequate, I accept.” The commandant regarded the pair, then smiled. “You two are damn lucky you kept your heads. If this had turned into a fight, you’d be looking at a hearing right now.” He leaned back in his seat. “Recruits, we aren’t in the business of throwing out cadets over failing to take others’ feelings into account, or being sensitive to others’ remarks. Not until it becomes clear that they can’t work out their own issues for themselves. The two of you sound like you can, so don’t give me reason to think otherwise.” The smile turned into a grin. “And the next time the two of you decide to have a heart-to-heart with a group of other recruits, do it during daylight hours.” They responded in unison. “Yes sir.” “Good. Dismissed.” The pair exited the office, and both felt like they’d dodged a crossbow bolt. Neither wished to try their luck again. - The rest of the day went more smoothly, though both had to endure some ribbing from their fellow recruits over getting sent to the commandant’s office. Both suspected that neither would hear the end of the incident for some time, but took comfort in the fact that they’d both already been stuck with their embarrassing nicknames. The pair, as well as the rest of the recruits on their table, had managed to bond, however. Even Two-Face, though not to the same extent as the rest. Flash had some hope that would change with time, but there was no guarantee. Still, that seemed more likely than him forming any sort of bond with his roommate. That ship, alas, appeared to have sunk in the harbor. “Garrett.” The stallion turned in surprise as his griffon roommate elaborated. “My name is Garrett.” His shocked expression prompted an explanation. “Didn’t know if I’d last the first week. Didn’t want to get attached. How many griffons do you see in the Royal Guard anyway?” The surprise wore off, and Flash laughed. “Not enough. What made you change your mind?” That prompted a small smile. “Deciding that getting attached might be worth it.” - “And that ended the first week of basic training.” Flash smiled at the memory. “The rest of basic went pretty much the same way, but the pressure eased on us with each day. We still had years of proper schooling to get through, but we at least survived basic training. Amazingly, none of us ended up washing out. Other recruits did, but not as many as we feared.” “Something tells me I’d have been among them.” Quiver shrugged. “Not every pony is cut out for military service, and I know that I’m not one of them.” Sunrunner flashed him a smile. “And there’s nothing wrong with that in the slightest.” Quiver nodded at that as Twilight asked, “So, you got through basic. Anything exciting happen during classes at the academy?” Flash waved a hoof. “Sorta. I mean, nothing especially exciting happened, though Warbler tended to be something of a teacher’s pet with her essays.” The flame-mared pegasus took on a proud posture. “I can’t help it if I did good research.” She grinned at her coltfriend and added, “Or that I knew where to look for a lot of it.” “Still, one day kinda blurred into the next, and before we all knew it, we’d graduated.” Flash smiled. “That’s where things got really exciting.” ...to be continued......
H a b i t a t S e a s o n by agevla77
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