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Everday Life With Guardsmares Update Edition!

This thread is all about Equestria's mares in uniform. Whether they're a fighting troop, a backwater garrison, or the ponice, all are welcome subjects for art & green.

Dog Ear: https://ponepaste.org/8635
Feather Scarf & Star Dusk: https://ponepaste.org/7935
Anon's Sexcellent Adventure: https://ponepaste.org/7849
Misadventures in the DMZ: https://ponepaste.org/7150
Parks and Wilderness: https://ponepaste.org/3967
>Everyday Life With Guardsmares
Part 1: https://ponepaste.org/1047
Part 2: https://ponepaste.org/1049
Part 3: https://ponepaste.org/1050
Part 4: https://ponepaste.org/3941
Part 5: https://ponepaste.org/3928
Part 6: https://ponepaste.org/1057
Part 7 (In Progress): https://ponepaste.org/5778
Maestro Cazador, an "Everyday Life With Guardsmares" tale: https://www.fimfiction.net/story/525058/maestro-cazador-an-everyday-life-with-guardsmares-tale
EDLWGM FAQ: https://ponepaste.org/1058

Royal Guard Spirit Corps Anon: https://ponepaste.org/8674
Sword and Shield: https://ponepaste.org/3066
Skin and Oki: https://poneb.in/zsYqrMin

Bring Your Foal to Work Day: https://ponepaste.org/8040
Pony ATF: https://ponepaste.org/6083
A Hearth's Warming Patrol: https://pastebin.com/dPwemUph
Hate Sex With Gunny: https://poneb.in/21ZhUgzy
"Sir, Yes Sir!": https://poneb.in/9WeeGgq7
Duty Bound: https://poneb.in/WfLZh5EW
Anon Pointedly Does Not Get Sex with a Guard: https://poneb.in/zi1KcnVC
The Final Test: https://poneb.in/s7Drg7s3

>Out-of-Thread Honorable Mentions
>RGRE, Complete:
Veteran Guardsmares in RGRE: https://ponepaste.org/7387
Crystal Bells: https://ponepaste.org/8161
The Long and Short of It: https://ponepaste.org/158
A Bond Through The Ages: https://ponepaste.org/6722


Las Pegasus Vice: https://ponepaste.org/1070
CLOPS: https://ponepaste.org/1071

>Ded circa April 2023
Links to dead stories: https://ponepaste.org/4308

Reckless in Training
40k Guardsmares
Elsewhile in the Royal Guard
D.O.I. P0ne's in Our World
Anon’s Regiment
Brave and Vannie
Valiant Heart
Careful's Charge
Going Bump in the Night
Vigilant Shield
Magic and Mud
Finding It
Sniper Anon
Silver Star
Meadow Stockade
Copper Wing
First Time Massage
Anon Y Mous, Hierarch of Hagoland
Whiskey and Cigars
The Mountain Keeper
Steel's Charge
Southern Comfort
Saint Destruction
Game of Pones
In A Better Light

Previous Thread: >>39796525

>Remember, no homo.
Reposting the Everyday Life With Guardsmares update which killed the last thread:

> You are Lily Glamerspear, and if anypony asks, no, you aren't seeing somepony right now.
> And you don't think you're ready for another relationship right now, either.
> Which isn't to mean that you'll say "no" to every possible proposal.
> Just that you might have to think about it for a bit.
> A colt starts chatting you up at the bar?
> Okay, why not?
> He invites you to the dance floor?
> Yeah, sure -- that's what you're all here for, isn't it?
> Leans in close to your nape and lays a hoof on your plot?
> Eh, maybe, if he's cute, but you'll have to keep an eye they don't go too far.
> You wouldn't want anybody getting *too* hoofsy with you out in public on Their Majesties' Royal Dance Floor.
> And if the colt suggests you sneak off somewhere more private?
> Well...
> Just as long as you don't think he's about to slap a ring on you.
> That said, getting felt up by charming, handsome, well-dressed and well-mannered stallion would definitely help lift this evening up from the trash-pile that that two-silver-barred down-dirty bastard Captain Mailedhoof dropped you into.
> You're still fuming over the fact that he dumped you over, of all things, your association with batponies.
> And before you could dump HIM!
> That was some top-shelf, hundred-proof, weapons-grade, pure, unadulterated, 24-karat bullsh-
> "What are the two of you doing still sitting down? Come on, let's get out on the dance floor!"
> The Royal Engineer's arrived back at the table.
> Wait, the Royal Engineer's arrived back at the table?
> Honour pipes up before you can.
> "What? How come you're back? Where's Artemis?"
> With a smile on his face, he claps his hands and then jerks a thumb over his shoulder.
> "She went to find her ballroom partner from earlier. So let's go! Don't tell me the two of you are going to sit here all night?"
> The thought had crossed your mind, but no, you did actually want to dance.
> Honour is still stuck in the past.
> "She left you alone??"
> This buckin' mare.
> You decide to interrupt and redirect, putting down your drink and getting to your hooves with a sly grin on your face.
"Yeah, what's the matter, couldn't you find yourself a partner out there?"
> Anon chuckles.
> "I found myself a pair of real royal beauties, sure. But Their Majesties said they needed to do the rounds before they could just dance with me all night."
> You almost miss a step.
> He was dancing with not just one but BOTH Princesses?
> And after chatting up a third earlier in the night?
> Damn!
> You shake your head.
"Three Princesses in one night? You sure don't waste any time!"
> He starts grooving a bit in place.
> "I guess I'm just making up for avoiding the dance floor Tuesday night. Or maybe it's the rum punch."
> Their Majesties' Signature Cocktail for this year's Gala certainly did hit pretty hard.
> You had only been out drinking with the Royal Engineer once now, and he had seemed to hold his liquor fairly well, but you haven't exactly been keeping track of his alcohol intake so far tonight -- not that it was your job to do that, at least not *tonight*.
> As you step over to join the still-boogieing colt, you give a playful little shoulder-check into his hips.
"All right, big guy, let's get out there and you can show me your moves."
> He returns the hip-check against your flank, but points over at the brown pony with the new mane-do.
> "How about you, Honour?"
> She shakes her head, her recently-liberated flipped-up curls tossing to and fro.
> "Not now. Maybe in a bit. You two go."
> The good Corporal seems resigned to sit here all by her lonesome for the rest of the night.
> It's crazy, but you're not her keeper -- besides, she smoothed things over with her partner, and the Royal Engineer put her dad in his place too, didn't he?
> What's she got to mope around about, then?
> Anon nods, too upbeat to display any potential disappointment at the moment.
> "Okay. But don't think I won't come back to get you later!"
> Grinning from ear to ear, and still bobbing and weaving to the beat, waggling his fingers in time with the music, he leads you back towards the dance floor.
> Coming up alongside him, you give him another bump.
"So, how many calling-cards have mares stuffed into your sash so far?"
> He snorts.
> "Nothing yet, hah! Still on my case about hooking up at the Gala? Don't tell me Purity ran off to hunt someone down for me personally."
> Now it's your turn to whinny.
"Are you kidding? She left on her own big-game safari just seconds after you got up to dance with Artemis. I expect to see her prize trophy throwing up in our washroom tomorrow."
> "Ah, I see..."
> The tall tailcoat-wearing biped looks down at you with a sly smile.
> "... And what about yourself? Surely I won't be your only dance partner tonight? If Artemis has found herself a potential new beau and Purity is about to pair up, shouldn't you be on the prowl as well? Or are you already spoken for, like Honour?"
> Oof.
> Talk about hitting you where it hurts right now.
> You kinda awkwardly chuckle.
"Geez, Anon. Can't a lady have her secrets?"
> He stops for a moment, taken aback by your refusal, then shrugs.
> "Sorry. I just figured turnabout was fair play from earlier."
> Sighing, you shoot him a pained grimace.
"It would be. It's just that I'm not in a happy place right now, relationship-wise, and the wounds are still a bit fresh."
> The Royal Engineer arches his eyebrows sympathetically.
> "Oh, no, not you too? After Artemis had her own breakup a week ago Friday..."
> You nod.
"Yeah. At least she's already well on the upswing. Plus, I mean -- her heartbreak is way worse than mine. She'd been with Huckleberry since school..."
> Waving a forehoof dismissively, you continue.
"... My break-up is of a barely three-week-old relationship. But it's about *how* it ended, ya know?"
> Lowering his hands, he pushes back the sides of his coat and casually slips his white-gloved fingers into his pockets.
> "I think I can imagine. Sorry to hear it. Do you need to talk?"
> Shaking your head, you jab your same free hoof towards the dance floor.
"Not right now, and maybe not for a while. But you don't have to worry about me, Anon. I've taken harder knock-downs than this, from better colts than him..."
> Lowering your leg, you start up again, then turn back towards him.
"... But, thanks... sir."
> Your Very Important Pony, who isn't actually a pony, removes his hands from his pockets and lifts them up, presenting them to you palms-forward.
> "Hey, now -- no formalities tonight, right?"
> Grinning, he steps forward to join you.
> "... Off to the dance-floor!"
> The two of you continue to make your way through the crowds.
> It's not so busy here amongst the dining tables as it was earlier, during the main dinner service, nor even during the quieter ballroom music.
> The DJ's amplified tunes are loud enough to force anypony who wanted to have anything like a real discourse to retreat far away from the ballroom.
> And as the music was no longer quite to the liking of the old blue-blooded fossils who ran Equestria, many of them had taken off as well, conversation or no.
> Yet there remained enough to make it necessary to pick your way between tables and chairs to get around or through the crowd.
> Along the way, Anon finds the groove again, but when you're forced to politely stop and wait for a large party that's clearly leaving their table to depart, he pipes up again.
> "Okay, not trying to pry open fresh wounds here, but since you and Purity were laying into me on this topic earlier, I have to ask: what's *your* type? Or are you not in the mood for this stuff at all?"
> That's a bit of a bombshell, considering your 'type' had just had a forceful rearrangement of the full-force-hoof-to-the-muzzle variety.
> Still, you suppose after the needling you gave Anon, maybe you owe him a quick info-dump.
> And anyways, what's the harm?
> Inhaling, you shoot him a sly glance.
"Eh, I can swing it for you, boss. But let me start off by saying that you would've gotten a *very* different answer if you asked this a few days ago..."
> Sitting back on your haunches, you flick your bangs back with a forehoof.
"... Right now, I'm looking for a tamer kind of stallion, not some wild unbroken buck; somepony with a good head on their shoulders, instead of one poised to go off like a rocket..."
> You shrug.
"... Physically, he doesn't have to be winning the Bronze Pony Triathlon, but I mean, I keep myself pretty fit, and he ought to keep himself pretty healthy too, even if he's maybe swinging a bit too lean or too thick..."
> Staring impolitely as the elderly group takes their time donning their hats and coats and purses and feather boas and all sorts of other crap, you continue.
"... As for species? Honestly, I lean towards my own kind; nothing against the others, but their stallions just don't rustle me the way a handsome unicorn does."
> Anon lifts an eyebrow.
> "You've dated a pegasus before, though?"
> Ugh.
> Lieutenant Kilfeather, plot-hole extraordinaire.
> You nod.
"Yeah, I know. I mean, I wouldn't have seen myself falling for a fast-fighting flyboy, even back then, but I sure did..."
> Wrinkling up your muzzle a bit, you elaborate.
"... But with Val, it wasn't so much about the physical attraction -- even though there was that too, I mean, he *is* pretty handsome, in a ladykiller kinda way -- it was about the entourage, the celebrity. He'd just won the Grand Mêlée. He was on top of the world in the Royal Guard, him and his crew, and I was a wide-eyed Private who'd been granted permission to sit up there in the throne-room with them."
> Snorting, you conclude.
"... Of course I didn't realize that to him I was just another in a long line of floozies, and he eventually treated me as such. I was young 'n' dumb, and if maybe I ain't the smartest mare around, I still learn from my mistakes. So I'm definitely not into doing anything like that ever again."
> A sigh escapes your lips, and your ears droop down sideways.
"... Of course, having said all that I'll still probably go falling again for some hyper-aggressive ultra-stud who'll sweep me off my hooves and then inevitably break my heart taking advantage of me. Story of my life, really."
> Anonymous looks down at you with concern.
> "It happens that often?"
> As the group before you finally leaves to let you proceed, you answer.
"... If I had a five-bit piece every time I got mistreated by an 'alpha stallion' who thought that me being theirs meant they could do whatever they wanted with me, I'd have ten bits, which isn't a lot, but it sucks that it's happened twice."
> Continuing towards the dance floor, you glance up at your tall companion.
> He looks a bit more subdued and deeper in thought.
> What's on his mind?
> He can't just be pondering *your* failed relationships.
> Heh, is he thinking about mares for his own sake?
> Maybe you ought to have taken this approach earlier; instead of digging in and teasing him to open up, you should've bared your own tastes, desires, and experiences.
> Artemis, you're sure, with some prodding would have been eventually more than happy to gush about what she found attractive.
> And you already knew what she'd say: big, strong, handsome, considerate, courageous, kind.
> All attributes that coincidentally matched the Royal Engineer.
> As for Purity, she might have looser standards, but you think she would have freely chatted about them as well.
> Honour, though?
> Heck, that mare barely knew what she wanted, let alone seemed comfortable talking about it.
> Still, three out of four guardsmares spilling their gossip-guts ain't bad.
> Chatter like that would probably would have helped him get on-track with how things work around here.
> And speaking of how things worked, was he still oblivious to Artemis' advances?
> Yeah, as a non-pony he hadn't noticed stuck-out tufts or wingboners or horn anteglow until Honour laid down the law to him, but surely he understood that there was some meaning to sharing an intimate close-held formal dance, or giving a kiss on the cheek, or a companion fetching him his meal?
> Like, that stuff had to be universal, yeah?
> A clever colt like him had to have an inkling at least, right?
> You wonder if you should spill some beans on that whole situation.
> Help kick it along.
> Maybe there's a tactful way to go about it.
"Hey, Anon. You know what *signs* to look for when we're out on the dance floor, right?"
> He lifts an eyebrow, raising his voice to be heard over the intensifying music.
> "Signs of what?"
> Shooting him a sly grin, you nod up ahead.
"Of a mare checking you out, dummy! I'm your shield-bearer out there, ain't I?"
> Anon furrows his brow, clearly unfamiliar with the unicorn expression for a friend who helps another in their pick-up game.
"... You know, your *wingmare*?"
> That gets a snort and a grin out of him.
> The pegasus equivalent term is a lot-better known, you suppose.
> "Okay, 'wingmare'. Is that what I have to look out for? Signs I'm being checked out? So I can make the next move over to her -- if she's my type, that is?"
> He catches on quick.
"Sure, why not? Most mares appreciate a little initiative..."
> You purse your lips and tilt your head.
"... Not to say you might not get chatted up yourself -- like Little Miss Princess Purple back before dinner. Gotta keep your ears up for that, too."
> She'd been cute, if a bit dweeby, but that dancing on-stage later with the MC?
> Woof, and bow-wow too.
> Javelin: dodged.
> The Royal Engineer waves a hand dismissively.
> "Ah, that was just a friendly talk. She's helping organize the event, and performing hostess duties."
> As you finally reach the edge of the dance floor and some room opens up, you give him an elbow poke.
"Sure, that's how it starts! Then she shows an interest, wants to hear you talk about yourself, smiles when you ask her about herself, maybe touches a hoof to your shoulder..."
> You try to trail off suggestively, but it's too loud here to really do that.
> Still, Anon seems to get the gist.
> "Same as where I'm from, I guess. But is it mostly colts who take the biggest first step with mares here, too?"
> Finally finding your hooves free to dance, you start to bob and weave to the DJ's latest bass-heavy track before even thinking about answering your VIP.
> You close your eyes for a moment and soak the music in, feeling the beat throbbing in your chest just as much as you hear it in your ears.
> Yeah, that's the good stuff.
> A proper speaker setup: no rattle, no pop, no fizzle or fuzz, just big bad BOOM 'n' BWUAAHH.
> Opening your eyes, you find Anon digging into the tunes as well, doing a basic left-left-right-right two-step.
> Okay, so he definitely doesn't have four left hooves, but you already knew that from how he did the Lipizzaner Waltz with Artemis.
"It's usually colts approaching mares, yeah. Like, I dunno, eighty-twenty split? Depends on the situation, I guess."
> Anon starts to clap on the off-beats, rolling his shoulders as he swings.
> All right, variations, so he's not just a bob-along-bozo.
> "So what am I looking for, here on the dance floor? Extended eye contact?"
> Bobbing your plot, you start to swish your tail, warming up for executing a proper twirl later.
"Sure. Stares, with a smile or a smoulder or even a kissy-face, that's a good start. Maybe a mane flip, too, like this."
> Your short bob mane-do isn't exactly long enough for a proper flip, but you give it your all, dipping your head down before throwing it back, and even shoot him a little come-hither tongue-pull across your upper teeth, maintaining eye contact the whole time.
> Anonymous looks appropriately impressed with your manoeuvre.
> "That's quite the move. I don't think I could miss a sign like that."
> You chuckle.
"In my experience, the average colt could miss a brick hurled at their forehead."
> He points a single finger at you, one hand at a time, flipping them back and forth with the beat.
> "Hey, I'm no average colt. But in my experience, the average girl -- err, mare -- thinks she's throwing bricks when she's barely blowing bubbles."
> Eh, you can give him that.
> You've witnessed enough drunken failed attempts at flirting from members of your 'fairer' sex.
> Heck, you probably made all number of them yourself when you were younger, and especially back when you used to get a LOT drunker.
> Hypnotized by the beat, memories come flooding in of other depraved nights of liquor-fuelled debauchery.
> Including a few with Kilfeather & co.
> There's a pang of pain at your brow, and it's not because anypony's tossed any bricks at you.
> Damn.
> You're nowhere near *old*, but still, the safe stopping distance between 'pleasant buzz' and 'splitting headache' has noticeably shrunk since you graduated Private First Class.
> It's almost like rank is linked to alcohol tolerance.
> Total capacity isn't an issue -- you've seen cape-wearing Master Sergeants neatly stow away entire kegs in their barrel at the Royal Guard's Annual Ball.
> But finding that perfect midway spot is getting harder.
> And dancing hard isn't exactly conducive to feeling good after putting away as much drink as you have.
> Only one solution for now, though: power through.
> Clenching your eyes shut, you rhythmically bounce your plot, first hard, then gradually backing off to just the right speed.
> The swishing feeling as your skirt rhythmically tugs on your croup tells you you've got it going on back there, and you slowly open your eyes, turning your head slightly to admire your hoofiwork.
> Yup, you're dancing a spinner, dancin' a spinner, it don't stop.
> You're turning a few heads around the floor -- and why shouldn't you?
> Spinning ain't easy, but somepony gotta do it.
> And at the moment that somepony is *you*.
> Facing back towards Anon again with a satisfied look on your face, you find him doing his own rotational move, with his hands balled up into fists.
> With every other beat, his forearms sweep out a pair of circles, while he sways left and right, snapping his fingers and stomping his feet.
> Damn, that's not bad.
> Freaking bipeds had it easy on the dance floor.
> Pegasi, too, since they could use their wings to rear back more easily.
> Well, a simple four-on-the-floor tailspin isn't all you can do.
> Time to take it to the next level.
> Carefully, you work your forehooves back until all four of your hooves are gathered together.
> Then you walk your forehooves up the inside of your hind legs, squatting down slightly as you do so.
> It's a lot of work and hard balancing for somepony as sloshed as you are, and you're pretty sure you ungracefully stuck out your tongue while concentrating, but you manage it.
> Yeah that's right, everypony, two-hoofed tail-spinning!
"Hahaha! Tailspin!"
> Anonymous beams a smile.
> "Oh-ee-yay! Spin it, you can win it!"
> But he's not out of moves, either.
> Dispensing with the small arm swings, he starts to bend his knees a bit, grinding down lower, before starting to swoop one arm while the other pumps.
> Buck, that looks pretty good.
> By comparison you're up here wobbling like a chicken.
> Okay, spin time is over, the only way to top this colt is to go full biped.
> Up you go onto your hind hooves, abandoning the spin but keeping your hips moving with the beat.
> Closing your eyes and turning your head sideways, you slowly run your forehooves up your flanks and then spread them high above you, swaying left and right.
> Your raised sandals aren't making it any easier, but at least they're not full pumps or stilettos.
> Having achieved full extension, you open your eyes again.
> Posed like this, your face almost comes up to Anon's.
> Well, like, the top of his chest, at least.
> But that's almost the right height for slow-dancing together.
> No wonder Artemis, a considerably taller pony than you were, was so happy dancing the Lipizzaner Waltz with him.
> There probably weren't a lot of stallions out there who could make an appropriately-matched couple paired with her and her earth-pony blooded 'heavy assault frame'.
> Which brings you back to the subject of maybe dropping a hint or two on Anon about her attentions.
> Before you can do that, though, the Royal Engineer shows you his well of epic dance moves hasn't run dry, either.
> Showing up your mere *extension*, he starts punching up into the sky, alternating hands across his body before drawing each back down, like he's snatching love-bricks out of the air and slipping them into his pocket.
> And all that accompanied by lean-backs that would be impossible for a pony to pull off.
> This buckin' colt.
> Gonna push you to the edge, huh?
> Okay, right!
> Time to show him how all the thirsty mares do it up in Manehattan, dead-ass.
> And you included yourself in that category, back in the day.
> Staying reared up on your hinds, you lower your forehooves and start twirling them around each other in front of you.
> Stomping in time with the beat, you also turn in place until you're facing away from Anon.
> And that's when you hit him with the 'thang'.
> Throwing your forehooves up into the air once more, you bend over backwards so far you can actually look up at him upside-down.
> You have to take a step back to avoid toppling over, and you can't hold the pose for long, but that's your 'pee-yes-ee day reh-sis-tans', as the Prench say.
> Then it's back down onto all fours, before you screw up and ruin the whole show so far.
> Anon nods, a grin on his face.
> "Oh, so it's like that, huh?"
> You shoot him a sly smirk in-between steps.
"Yeah. Put up or shut up, boss."
> Lowering his hands, he chuckles.
> "Okay, but you asked for it."
> As the song heads into a bridge, he pauses his footwork and takes a moment to adjust his cuffs and white bow tie.
> The instant the beat drops, Anonymous launches into the fanciest footwork you've ever seen.
> Flapping his arms like they're wings, his feet step, stomp, and tap so fast they're just a high-energy electric blur at the end of swaying knees.
> You've barely figured out what's going on before he switches it up, spinning his hands as before but shuffling sideways left and right without lifting his shoes off the floor.
> What in the Tartar-damn-?
> Turning sideways in place, he bends his torso over, swinging his arms back and forth as he kicks the opposite foot almost straight back, exaggeratedly running in place.
> B-B-Buckin'-huh?
> It's impossible!
> After a few bars like that, then he kicks it up another notch -- or rather, drops it down, flopping forward onto his hands and knees before dropping to the floor.
> You're stunned to see him ripple his whole body, flopping forward like a seal on the beach.
> And then he jumps back up, throwing both his arms and one foot one way and then the other.
> It's the highest-energy dancing you've ever seen!
> You can't withstand being served this hard!
> Your heart sinks when you see he hasn't stopped, either, merely settling back into variations on the opening fancy footwork, still an impossible blur.
> It's your first VIP shift all over again, with the trotting 'jog'!
> So much for becoming the star of the dance floor over here, you're relegated to second fiddle.
> You're so stunned by this development that you can't do much more than a basic left-left-right-right two-step.
> Well, maybe having Anon as the star won't be too bad.
> If he isn't interested in picking up a mare for himself, then that leaves the field open for you to crutch on him to attract your own.
> The Royal Engineer goes into some kind of private dance-trance, shutting his eyes as he works through his routine.
> Did Artemis seriously walk away from this?
> No way; she must have left to meet her formal-dance partner without having seen your VIP open up the taps.
> Anonymous pauses his footsteps to start into a hips-and-knees-only groove, one hand on his head holding to a nonexistent top hat that he left back at the table half an hour ago.
> Unf.
> You bite your lower lip.
> That's some serious body-pumping action.
> You wouldn't say 'no' to being on the receiving end of a little of that.
> Heck, you'd even take it backwards.
> Looking around, you see that he's indeed getting more than a few interested glances.
> Guh, but what about Artemis?
> She's your squaddie, and she called dibs on Anon.
> Yet the mare *isn't* here.
> She could've blown off that other partner if she'd wanted to; he probably wouldn't even have noticed.
> 'Say la vee', you suppose.
> She made her choice.
> Now the Royal Engineer's in the crosshairs of a free-for-all.
> And as his loyal and faithful bodyguard, it's up to you to make sure he gets nothing but the best.
> You start to wiggle your plot once more, setting up for another spinarooni.
> Okay, Lily, Operation Amorous-Attention-Attraction is a GO!
> Yeah, you're spinnin', you're spinnin', you're spinnin.
> Anonymous opens his eyes, grooving in place as he watches you swish three-sixty.
> "I got something I've been wanting to do. Do you trust me?"
> Buh?
> You go wide-eyed, still casually spinning your tail.
"Uhh... Yeah?"
> He nods.
> "Okay, just keep doing what you're doing!"
> What's he gonna -- okay, he's next to you, squatting down, reaching one arm underneath your barrel and WHOA NELLY.
> You're in the air!
> In one swift move, Anonymous, by Appointment to Their Majesties Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, The Royal Engineer of Equestria, hoists you up onto his shoulder, and stands up, your tail spinning inches from his face as you face backwards.
> Then he puts his free hand in the air and twirls his finger.
> *Then* he starts step-rotating in place as well.
> Triple spin! It's a triple spin!
> Princess Celestia almighty, Princess Celestia almighty!
> As Celestia is your witness, he has torn this dance floor up in half!
> It's everything you ever drunkenly hoped and dreamed of doing, and you can't help but start to cry marely tears a little.
> Buck, your mascara's gonna run -- but chin up, Lily.
> The ponies gathered here, they'll all remember the night they witnessed the fabled triple spinarooni at the Grand Galloping Gala.
> They'll speak of this event in hushed whispers for years to come.
> You breathlessly whisper in-between sobs.
"Just keep spinning. Just keep spinning."
> Beneath you, Anonymous grunts.
> "Hah! I wasn't sure if this would work! Ready to go down?"
> You'd follow this stallion to Tartarus and back; at least, that's what you think right now while the liquor's still in full effect.
> Somewhat less elegantly than how he got you up in the first place, the Royal Engineer crouches down and helps your four hooves get back onto solid ground again.
> It's all you can do just to keep spinning, managing to never drop even one rotation-per-minute.
> That beautiful, handsome, powerful stallion gets back up and resumes his simple opening two-hoofed two-step.
> "You OK? Let's take it easy for a bit and then see what else we can come up with, yeah?"
> You're speechless; all you can do is nod with a dopey grin on your face.
> Best night ever.

Suggested interlude music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uRi_xo92VE [Embed] (Martin Solveig - '+1' (feat. Sam White) [2015])
Updated beta ponepaste, will check later to make sure it syncs to the main ponepaste (hasn't yet): https://beta.ponepaste.org/5778
It's not going to sync because it's going to be the new site >>39928434
Ah, cool. Yeah, I guess disabling edits on the old site and only allowing them on the new is a heck of a lot easier than trying to merge stuff together.
Heheh. This was very silly. Good times. Good to have you back.
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Glam just having drunken fun with the dancing was great
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Honour or Purity next?
that was interesting
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Amazing update
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I didn't set out to do it, but sometime after I did the TaleSpin reference it just became that.
Another great update, I know it's been a long time and updates are less frequent but every new chapter is appreciated.
Next one should be a lot quicker, hopefully. In addition to everything else going on in my life, it was a struggle to find the stride for this update. I'm gonna start on the next update this week.
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Will draw Guardsmares and Military mares. please throw some suggestions.
Honour Bound guarding the door of her VIP during the changeling invasion, with the four(?) lings she killed around her
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Here you go. Sorry for no Coloring at all. will color it once I get the tools for it.
Any critique is welcome, by the way.
Ayy, nice. The only thing that occurs to me is Honour's lacking her service weapons (sabot shoes) but that's a really minor thing to ding on a random request that you were nice enough to oblige. Thanks!
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It’s good but from the way iirc it was described in the story it was a big life-or-death struggle, whereas in this pic she looks like she stomped them easily ha ha
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How about this apple's?
What a lewd demon-sun horse
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Celestia winghugging a sleepy guardsmare
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I completely realize this is a quick sketch and damn good for it. I’d add manes and tails for more detail. Honour’s may be bound up but should be visible; swishy tails show emotion, and she’s gotta be cranked at that moment.

Again, great work!
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The fiercest guard everyone.
Plot twist: she's part of the psychological warfare division.
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Must be ceremonial with all that detailing.
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>Oh, no, not you too? After Artemis had her own breakup a week ago Friday...
It’s been like 5 years, Glam
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Parks and Wilderness


(Note: this is the revised and completed version of the chapter posted in the last thread. I considered only posting the second half of this chapter, but I figure it's all meant to be read together, and enough has changed that I should just re-post it all.)


>You race to your friend’s side. The pegasus is lying in a crumpled heap, halfway down a dune. Sand furrowed behind her. Loose feathers scattered about.
>The armour along her flank is shattered. Steel plates buckled and dented. One of them is missing entirely. No blood that you can see; hopefully the armour took the worst of the damage.
>As you skid to a halt beside her you hear a pitiable moan:
>”Owww… Luna buck me sideways...”
>Feather’s still alive! You are Sergeant Glacier, and you’ve never been happier to hear blasphemy!
“Are you alright? Can you move?”
>You begin digging her out of the sand. Careful not to move her too much. Don’t want to exacerbate any injuries.
>Her coat and mane are choked with sand. Brushing the worst of it aside, you gently lift her head. Your heart skips a beat as you see the blood smeared across her muzzle.
>It’s just a bloody nose from the crash, you tell yourself. It doesn’t mean anything. Probably. Hopefully.
>Feather cracks an eye open. Looks up at you blearily.
>”Ooof. Hey Glace. Let me just…”
>She begins sluggishly rolling over, limbs working their way into a sitting position. But when she tries to move her hind legs-
>She collapses back, gasping in pain. Spends a moment just getting her breath back. You press your hoof into hers reassuringly, stroking her mane as she blinks away tears.
>”Ok,” she pants. “Leg, uh. Doesn’t feel great. N-not sure I can walk.”
>She mostly keeps the panic from her voice. But you’ve known her too long to be fooled.
>To the guardsmare’s credit, she only hesitates a moment before turning to you:
>”Glace, y-you have to go. You have to leave me and-”
“We’re *both* going,” you say with finality.
>”No, listen,” she insists. “There’s a hum- Ow ow owww shit shit aaargh!”
>You scoop her onto your back, ignoring her screams of protest. Armour scrapes against armour as you get the balance right.
>You hate moving her like this. It clearly hurts like Tartarus. And you could be making her injuries much worse. But it can’t wait.
>The sand wyrm is coming.
>You glance up. At the top of the dune, a vast darkness slowly crawls into view. A primaeval mass of armour, muscle, and fangs. Beady, slitted eyes stare down at you.
>At least the damned lizard doesn’t seem to be in a hurry. Its heavy, knobbled feet drag it along the sand at an almost leisurely pace. Confident you can’t escape? Or maybe it’s just as exhausted as you are? This hasn’t been the easy ambush it hoped for, after all.
>Either way, it’s a small mercy. Seizing the opportunity, you turn and run - or stumble - down the dune. Your injured ankle screams with every step, threatening to give out. And the rest of you isn’t much better off. Exhaustion weighs down upon you just as heavily as Feather, filling your limbs with lead. Each breath is a desperate struggle for air.
>The effort is agonising. And almost certainly futile. There’s simply no way you can outrun the wyrm. Especially not with a fully armoured mare on your back.
>But futile or not, it’s your only option.
>There’s no time to come up with any other plan.
>No tools or weapons left to fend the wyrm off.
>And no way you’re leaving your friend behind.
>So you run.
>At this point, your only real hope is to draw the fight out as long as possible. Your signal flare is still burning bright overhead; if Feather found you, the rest of the Parks and Wilderness crew must be on their way. You just have to survive until they get here.
>After several long seconds - maybe a minute or two, who knows - Feather starts to quiet down. The hyperventilating and cursing subside. She takes a steadying breath. Then, in a strained voice says:
>”Sergeant. Listen to me. There’s a *human* out here! I know it sounds crazy. But believe me, I saw one!”
>It’s hard to focus on her. Every step is a struggle just to stay upright. What’s this about a human? She saw Anon?
>Wait. That means Anon’s still alive, right?
>Thank Celestia!
>When you’d lost him in the storm - saw him tumbling down into darkness with the wyrm at his side - you'd assumed the worst. The fear and guilt had been suffocating. Part of you was surprised at just how attached you’d become to him. Now that you know he’s ok, you can breathe a little easier. Feels like a great weight has been lifted from you.
>Unfortunately, the much more literal weight is still there. Through gritted teeth, you manage to grunt:
“I believe you.”
>”You do?” Feather sounds surprised. “Oh. Good. Well, then you know how serious this is. One of us has to make it back to HQ to warn them. *One*.”
>Her voice turns grim. You hate when she gets like this. It sounds wrong, coming from the normally playful pegasus.
>”Fact is *I’m* not going anywhere like this. And neither are you while I’m on your back. Sergeant Glacier, you *have* to leave me behind and get awaARGH! Motherbucker!”
>A well timed jostle interrupts Feather’s stupid suggestion. You’re not going to just ditch her and run off! (Even if she is completely right…)
>While she’s busy cussing you out, you chance a look behind you. Your heart sinks.
>Crawling atop the nearest dune is the wyrm. The monstrous blot is moving parallel to you. Easily keeping pace. Like a shark scenting blood, it knows you don’t have long left. Soon you’ll trip, or collapse from exhaustion. The moment you do, the wyrm will be all over you.
>You blink. Thought you saw a glint up on the slope, behind the wyrm.
>Crunch. Crunch.
>The wyrm pauses. Forked tongue flicks out, tasting the air. Your own ears twitch.
>Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.
>Is that… footsteps?
>You flinch violently at the fierce, unintelligible war cry. Feather lets off even more profanity as you almost drop her. At the same time, you see a sword - *your* sword - lifted high into the air above the wyrm! Then it comes crashing down.
>Wailing in pain and surprise, the sand wyrm scampers aside. Standing behind it, silhouetted against the pale morning sky, is Anon.
>A happy shout escapes your throat, too relieved and exhausted for anything coherent. Your vision gets a bit blurry for some reason, and there’s dampness on your cheeks.
>”Oh, buck me.”
>Feather, meanwhile, isn’t taking it so well.
>You can actually feel the poor mare shivering in her armour. You sympathise; Anon looks particularly intimidating right now. Clothes shredded and bloody. Hairless skin covered in fresh wounds. Towering over the wyrm with a snarl on his face and a greatsword in hand. He wields the massive weapon easily, over-long arms making it look like a toy.
>He spares a glance in your direction. His eyes soften as they meet yours. You can’t help but beam up at him, relief radiating from your face. He returns the smile. Weary, but heartfelt.
>Then the moment passes. His attention snaps back to the wyrm, expression furious. The enormous brute growls and hisses at him, but keeps its distance.
>Though many times longer and heavier than Anon - it’s halfway between a dragon and a boa-constrictor - the sand wyrm doesn’t have much reach. Those stumpy legs and elongated snout are powerful, and faster than they have any right to be. But the human is taller. All long, flexible limbs, able to lash out at a moment’s notice. With your sword extending his range, the wyrm simply can’t get close without a painful slash across the claw or snout.
>You notice a dark stain running along the edge of the blade. And a matching trickle running down the wyrm’s thigh. It seems Anon’s sneak attack actually managed to cut through all that armour. Impressive.
>It’s not a serious wound. You know enough about giant beasties to tell that at a glance. But it’s painful enough to force the wyrm to hesitate. For the first time in who knows how many years, the sand wyrm is afraid.
>But it doesn’t back down.
>Hunger - or pride - compels the wyrm to stand its ground. It observes the strange biped from a safe distance. Forked tongue flickering in and out. Appraising. Biding its time.
>The two apex predators begin to circle one other. You and Feather watch in terrified fascination. This kind of fight is the stuff of legends among the PWG. You’ve no idea how it will pan out, but one thing’s for sure: if you survive, ponies will be buying you drinks for years.
>You’re both so engrossed that you don’t even notice another, lighter set of hoofsteps.
>”I… *huff* …found… *puff* …Anon.”
>You turn in surprise to see Fruit Punch hurrying down the dune.
“Fruit! Great work. Is he alright?”
>Peering at her as she approaches, you add:
“Are you alright?”
>The smaller pegasus looks almost as exhausted as you. Her purple coat is matted with sweat and dust. Her dark wings are a dishevelled mess, broken feathers sticking out at all angles. She looks like she can barely stand, she’s panting so heavily.
>”Some… *huff* …superficial injuries… *puff* …but he seems… *huff* …ok. Treated the worst of them. Managed to tell him… *puff* …where you are. He immediately ran… *huff* …ALL the way back here. Too much… *puff* …bloody running!”
“You’re damn right,” you mutter to yourself.
>You’re quietly impressed with Fruit’s ability to communicate with Anon so quickly. It took you hours of panicking and screaming before you sat down and actually *talked* with him. Guess her Harmony Corps training is useful for something after all.
“Ok, he’s bought us a few moments. I need you to take a look at Feather. She’s hurt. Could be bad.”
>”Forget that,” Feather cuts in. “Let’s grab Anon and go while the human’s distracted with the wyrm. Where is he, anyway?”
>Ah. Right. She probably thinks “Anon” refers to some pony you found. Because a Parks and Wilderness Guard befriending a human is absolutely insane.
>As if on cue, said human starts shouting like a madman. Raising your sword, he actually charges at the wyrm. Amazingly, the multi-ton monster backs off, snapping and huffing in distress. Anon continues his reckless assault, swinging wildly at any part of the wyrm he can reach. He gets a few glancing blows in, but you can tell none of them are able to penetrate the scales.
>In response to Feather’s question, Fruit wordlessly points a wing at the human.
>Feather cocks her head.
>”...Wait. *That’s* Anon!?”
“Yeah, about that…” you begin sheepishly.
>Strong hooves grip your shoulders. Punctuating every word with a shake.
>”You’re telling me your friend is a *bucking human*?!”
>Fruit Punch tilts her head.
>”Wait… *huff* …he’s, like, a human from the… *puff* …old mares’ tales? They’re real?”
>You shake your head.
“Long story. Anon’s no threat to us.”
>”A *human* is no threat!?”
>You wince as Feather practically shouts in your ear.
>”For what it’s worth,” Fruit wheezes. “He didn’t threaten me. He kept asking about “Gray” - I think he meant Glacier.”
>”Look, it doesn’t matter,” Feather says, starting to regain her composure. “We have *very* strict orders about this. We see a human, we run. End of story.”
>Her voice turns pleading.
>”Glacier, come on. The human’s given us an opportunity to escape. We might not get another.”
>You bite your lip.
>She’s not wrong.
>As far as the Royal Guard is concerned, retreating now would be 100% justified. Anything less would be in direct violation of your orders. And likely be considered reckless endangerment of your fellow Guards. You could be court-martialed - assuming you survived.
>And seriously, even if you stayed here, what good would it do? How can three tired and injured ponies hope to stand against a sand wyrm? You don’t have a single weapon between you that can hurt it!
>Now that Anon’s got your sword, if anypony can defeat the wyrm, it’s him. You could fall back and regroup with the rest of the PWG. Maybe convince them to come help Anon. They’re already on their way; you might only be gone for a few minutes. Heck, Anon might even have slain the sand wyrm by then!
>You sigh.
>If only you could believe any of that.
>But your gut tells you otherwise.
>Anon’s slowing down. His first blow was able to cut through the wyrm’s armour thanks to surprise, momentum, and pure luck. But none of his other attacks have managed since. It’s not his fault; he just doesn’t have the training to use the awkward weapon properly. Every time he swings, he’s wasting energy. Every time he hits, the angle is all wrong. Each blow sends the wyrm flinching back - but each time it recovers a little faster.
>You’re not sure *why* Anon’s gone so all out on offence. Is this some predator thing? Sensing weakness in the wyrm? Or perhaps he wants revenge for the damage it did to his arm? Or… could he be trying to protect you? Maybe Feather was right - maybe he is giving you a chance to escape.
>Whatever his reasons, he can’t keep this pace. You can already see the exhaustion in his face. See the shaking in his limbs.
>The momentum of the fight is shifting. And the sand wyrm knows it.
>As though thinking the same thing, the massive beast suddenly leaps forward. Damn thing’s fast when it wants to be. Anon scarcely has time to raise your sword, blocking the wyrm mid-lunge. Your breath catches as the bulk of the brute presses down upon him, pinning him in place. It’s amazing he’s not crushed outright; he manages to stabilise in a sort of half-crouch, struggling to keep his footing.
>Great heavy claws scrabble against the hilt of the blade. Fangs the size of your hooves snap angrily at Anon’s throat. With a desperate grunt, Anon adjusts his grip, one hand grabbing the bare blade for greater leverage. Incredibly, he manages to lever his way out from underneath the wyrm, shoving it aside and bashing its face with the pommel for good measure. The two combatants separate, and you can finally breathe again.
>The whole interaction took less than two seconds. And only served to cement your fear: Anon doesn’t *have* minutes to spare.
>If you leave now, you’re leaving him to die alone.
>You couldn’t do that to Feather.
>You can’t do that to Anon.
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“Fruit, get Feather to safety,” you say, shifting Feather onto Fruit’s back. The smaller pegasus buckles under the sudden weight, while the larger squawks in protest.
“As soon as you’re clear, check her for injuries. She might need emergency treatment.”
>”W-what about you?” Fruit gasps, straining. “Y-you’re coming with us, right?”
>”Glace, please,” Feather begs. “This isn’t your fight!”
“Like Tartarus it isn’t!”
>And with that, you charge towards Anon.
>You are Private Fruit Punch, and you are panicking. You hate letting Glacier leave like this. Though it’s not like you’ve got much choice! If you try to follow her, you’ll have to leave Feather behind. You can look after one pony or the other, but not both!
>Ultimately, it’s all you can do to trust that Glacier knows what she’s doing. At least she won’t be alone; she’s going to help that Anon creature, right? Hopefully the two of them can keep each other safe.
>You drag the injured corporal out of sight, over a dune and behind a small boulder. Then you set about stripping off her armour with quick, practised motions. Not the easiest thing to do when the armour’s a mangled wreck!
>Luckily, the pony underneath seems mostly intact. No lacerations or open wounds. No obvious signs of concussion or internal trauma, thank Twilight. But she’ll need a proper examination to rule them out.
>The main damage seems to be across her back right leg. Extensive bruising is already visible beneath her short gold fur. You can’t feel a break in the bone, but she hisses in pain every time you touch the tender area. A fracture seems likely. Her wings are also a mess. Missing half the feathers on one side. Could be fractures there, too; those little flight bones are delicate.
>The older guardsmare takes your inspection like a pro. Holding still as ordered, and complaining very little. You do what you can with your limited first aid kit, administering painkillers and applying a makeshift splint.
>Gosh, it’s been a long time since you’ve had to do first aid for real. You hope you’re not forgetting anything! You’ve rushed the whole process more than you’re comfortable with. But the distant shouting and roaring is a constant reminder that time is of the essence.
>After what can only have been a few minutes - but *feels* like ages - you step back, checking over your work one final time.
>”Ugh. Thanks, Punch,” Feather moans through gritted teeth.
>Her initial shock and adrenaline have worn off. Now there’s nothing to distract her from the pain. Poor mare - it looks pretty bad. It’ll be another few minutes before the painkillers kick in. Despite this, she’s still focused on the task at hoof.
>”You’d better get going. I’ll be ok, but Glace will need all the help she can get.”
“You’re sure?” you ask, pawing at the ground anxiously.
>You *are* eager to go. But leaving a wounded friend behind just doesn’t feel great.
>Feather nods firmly.
>”Consider it an order, private!”
>With a last, concerned glance, you turn and dash away.
>”And watch out for that human!” Feather’s voice trails after you.
>You’re not entirely sure why Feather’s so scared of Anon. Maybe she’s just not used to working with other species? It’s not that unusual; most Royal Guard regiments are still one hundred percent pony. The Harmony Corps was established specifically to buck that trend. You’ll have to have a talk with Feather about her prejudices…
>But that can wait. For now, you just focus on putting one shaky leg in front of the other. The first dune passes underhoof, and the sounds of battle draw nearer. Just one more dune…
>As you crest the final hill, a familiar sensation starts to tickle your wings.
>There’s a drop in the air pressure. The winds begin to stir. Unnaturally.
“Oh, for the love of…!”
>And just like that, the Dust Devil appears.
“Wow, this is stupid,” you mutter under your breath. “What am I doing, this stupid, I’m going to die, oh Celestia, this is so, so stupid…”
>You are Glacier, and despite your earlier bravado, you are absolutely quaking in your boots. As you gallop up the dune, you don’t see the sand wyrm anymore. Instead, looming above you, is an abattoir. A living fortress. Visions of your violent, painful death play out over and over. You feel sick, and scared, and every single instinct in your body screams for you to turn tail and run home.
>But you see Anon up there, too.
>You’ve only known him for a few hours. But that’s enough to read the expression on his face. Whatever confidence or bloodlust he had earlier is gone. Now he’s just as sick and scared as you.
>You press on.
>The battle isn’t going well. The sand wyrm’s back on the offensive. Constantly slithering forward. Leaping and snapping at Anon’s legs. He retaliates with heavy sword blows. But they just make the wyrm mad. Only the human’s quick footwork is keeping him alive.
>You’ve nearly reached them now. Approaching from the monster’s rear, you rack your brains for any way to help. But no matter how you slice it, it seems you’re all out of tricks. No more magic stones. No high ground. No weapon. No- well, ok. *Technically* you do still have a weapon.
>You draw your utility knife. Frown down at the puny thing. Even the strongest earth pony couldn’t cut through those scales with this! The only way it could possibly hurt the wyrm is to strike somewhere unprotected. The eyes, or open mouth maybe. Impossible from this angle. And extremely risky to get any closer.
>Maybe you could float it over with your magic? It wouldn’t be easy. Few unicorns have the telekinetic strength or finesse to use weapons that way. You’re no exception. At best, you could throw it with slightly more precision than the average pony. Not great odds.
>While you creep forward, fearful and uncertain, it finally happens: Anon stumbles.
>You don’t even see the cause. A loose stone underfoot, maybe? A gust of wind? It wouldn’t take much. Doesn’t matter now. You look up in time to see him toppling backward. Horrified realisation in his eyes. Before he even hits the ground, the sand wyrm charges in.
>You weren’t fast enough. Too indecisive. Too cowardly.
>No chance of reaching the eyes or mouth now.
>Only the legs and tail are in range. Covered everywhere in heavy scale. Completely impenetrable.
>Everywhere, except for…
>Your eyes widen.
>Momentum is on your side. Like a freight train, the colossal wyrm takes time to get up to speed. You have a split second opportunity to catch it before it reaches Anon.
>No more hesitation. You leap forward, knife clamped between your teeth.
>You strike.
>The wyrm yelps, pain and surprise derailing its attack as you plunge your knife forward. Deep into the only unarmoured spot within reach: the open wound Anon slashed along its flank.
“Anon! Go!” you shout, immediately dashing back. You’re forced to abandon the knife, embedded in the wyrm’s side. Anon takes the hint, scrambling away as fast as he can.
>The sand wyrm doesn't even notice. It's too busy writhing and thrashing, trying to dislodge whatever's stinging it. Kicking up great plumes of sand as it does so.
>Its head swings around wildly - almost comically - as though expecting to see some even larger predator has snuck up on it.
>You slink away as quick and as quiet as you can, looping around towards Anon. But you’re not fast enough.
>Finding no other monster, the sand wyrm settles its gaze upon you. Recognition gleams in those cold, slitted eyes. The pony who blinded it back in the mine. Who hurt it. Deafened it. Defied it.
>The titan charges. Massive claws tearing up the dunes as it thunders towards you.
>It doesn’t even bother opening its jaws - it intends to crush you and be done with it!
>You try to run. But your limbs are lead. That last exertion to save Anon spent nearly all of your strength. Each stride feels like running uphill, like swimming through molasses.
>In the span of three panicked heartbeats, the wyrm crosses the distance between you. Numb with terror, you watch as the monster rears up, towering over you. The beast roars in triumph.
>Only to be drowned out by an even louder roar.
>An explosion of noise and motion strikes the wyrm dead in the chest. At the same time, the sand and dust already swirling about intensifies a hundredfold. Hurricane winds spring to life around you, forming a vast, dark funnel. And in the centre of it all, standing just hooves away, is a pony.
>Silvery-black sand shifts and swirls over her coat. Or maybe that *is* her coat. Her outline is blurred. Drifting. Like smoke in the wind. But the overall shape is clear. Great black wings stream away behind her. Spiralled horn glows with eldritch power.
>Not a pony.
>An alicorn.
>From one outstretched hoof flows a torrent of sand, blasting into the wyrm. The jet must be moving incredibly fast; even from several metres away, the ricocheting sand stings every inch of your exposed fur. The noise is deafening. Like a hundred thousand wasps buzzing angrily.
>You should run. Another creature from The List? You should *definitely* run.
>But it's just too much. The fatigue, noise, and shock, and now a fricken alicorn!? You're done. Your injured ankle finally gives out, and you drop to a sitting position. Staring dumbfounded at the scene before you.
>Incredibly, the wyrm is still in one piece. That blast of sand would have flayed a pony instantly. But those damned thick scales, imbued with ancient draconic magic, manage to hold out against even an alicorn’s power. The sand beam physically forces the brute back, inch by inch, but can’t penetrate the armour.
>Of course, the armour doesn’t cover *everywhere*. Great, clumsy claws protect the wyrm’s head as best they can. The initial blast must have caught it off guard, getting into its eyes. The beast thrashes about in a literal blind rage. A nightmarish blur in the storm, held at bay by the even darker shape of the alicorn.
>You squeak in surprise as something touches your shoulder! But it’s only Anon. You turn to see the human crouched over, leaning heavily into the wind. He looks haggard, eyes wild with fright. Completely out of his depth. You feel absolute sympathy.
>He speaks again, but you can barely hear him over the wind. (Hopefully he didn’t hear your earlier squeak...) But he gestures away from the terrifying combat. His expression clearly saying “Let’s get out of here!”
>You hesitate. Glancing towards the storm, then to the alicorn in the centre. You don’t know if you *can* go. An alicorn’s presence is dominating. Overwhelming. Slinking away is almost unthinkable.
>As if sensing your thoughts, the sand pony turns. Or… it’s hard to see, but it almost looks like she *dissolves*, then reforms so that she’s now facing you. One leg remains casually raised towards the sand wyrm. Blasting away with blisteringly fierce magic.
>Her eyes settle upon you. Twin lighthouses piercing the storm.
>With a single nod, you're suddenly released from her aura. Like you’ve been dismissed. A voice in your head seems to say “I’ll take it from here.”
>Anon shakes your shoulder again, more urgently. Blinking, you look up at him again. Your eyes meet.
>You nod.
>With firm hands, Anon helps you to your hooves. Leaning against each other, the two of you begin wading through the storm. Out into safety.
>You spare a glance back at the alicorn. She’s still watching you. Not even bothering to look at the wyrm as it writhes under the force of her onslaught.
>You’re not sure how you can tell - she’s little more than a blur at this point - but somehow you feel she’s smiling at you. There’s something like a… a maternal fondness there. And something else.
>She feels almost… apologetic?
>Then from out of the gloom a black tail slams into her. For a split second you see a look of surprise on her face. Then she explodes in a shower of sand.
>With an obnoxious roar, the Dust Devil appears. Directly in your path, naturally. Right on top of Glacier and Anon, because *of course* it is. Fan-bucking-tastic.
>You are Fruit Punch and you are getting seriously sick of these Dust Devils! You spend a few moments stomping and fuming at the edge of the storm, your curses drowned by the tumultuous winds.
>Now what? The last time you charged into a Dust Devil, you got spat back out and nearly broke your wings! They twitch painfully at the memory.
>But there’s no way you’re losing Glacier again! You just got her back!
>Think, think, think! Maybe… maybe if you stay low to the ground you’ll be ok? Last time you went into the storm you were flying. Down low you’ll have more cover from the wind. Maybe that could work?
>Ah, who are you kidding? That’s probably still incredibly dangerous.
>But you’re going to try anyway, right?
>You take a deep breath. Then charge in.
>From a distance the Dust Devil looks impenetrable. A solid wall of dark, churning sand. But as you push in closer, lashed by stinging hail, you begin to make out shapes. Figures in the gloom. To your left is a large blur, thrashing violently. The sand wyrm? And on the right are one, two, three smaller figures. They must be Glacier, Anon, and- wait. Three?
>You squint at them. Not daring to open your eyes any wider. The figure in the middle looks even more blurry than the others. Just a mirage, maybe?
>Before you can get much closer, the hulking shadow of the sand wyrm blunders into your path.
“Motherbucker!” you exclaim, starting back.
>You turn, ready to flee. But the big jerk doesn’t seem to notice you. Just stumbles around, one clawed limb protecting its face.
“Ha! What’s the matter, got sand in your eyes? Serves you right, you big dumb AAUGH! Pfft! Pfft! Pfft!”
>You cough and sputter, trying to get the deluge of sand out of your mouth. Lesson learned: no shouting in the sandstorm.
>There’s a sudden whoosh of air nearby. Audible even over the howling winds. You flinch as something long and dark whips past, nearly taking your head off! The sand wyrm’s tail, you recognise after the fact. Damn thing’s as thick as a tree trunk!
>You’re not sure if it was aimed at you, or the wyrm’s just flailing blindly. Just to be safe, you start backing away. You should be able to creep around it, circumnavigating the storm. The looming silhouette steadily recedes, stumbling deeper into the gloom.
>You breathe a sigh of relief as you notice the two smaller figures - one equine, one human - have started moving away from the wyrm. But that third maybe-figure is still there. And you see a… a light flickering from it? Blinking through the storm, like the tail lights on an airship. You get the feeling that’s no mere mirage.
>Then all of a sudden the wyrm’s tail slams into it, snuffing the light instantly.
>Everything explodes.
>The shockwave knocks you off your hooves. You tumble end over end through the darkness, buckets of sand pouring all around you.
>After a nauseating couple of seconds you hit the ground. The roar of the wind quickly dies away, leaving only a ringing in your ears. But the world still feels like it’s spinning.
>You are Sergeant Glacier, and it’s a good thing you haven’t eaten, because you feel like you’re going to lose your lunch.
>You lift a shaky hoof. Feel sand sliding off it. Piling alongside you. Slowly, you open an eye.
>Pure, pale blue sky.
>As far as you can see.
>Not a single trace of the sandstorm to be found.
>Doesn’t make sense. Everything’s still blurry and confusing.
>You are so tired. You just want to rest.
>You lie there a few more seconds. Minutes? Wait for the world to calm down. The ringing in your ears to fade.
>The heavy footstep sets your heart racing all over again.
>You roll to your hooves, head whipping around to see:
>The sand wyrm.
>Rows and rows of teeth. Stained, and jagged. Close enough to count. Close enough to see scraps of its last meal wedged between them.
>A hot, heavy breath rattles out of the open mouth. Washes over your coat, into your eyes and mouth. Makes you gag. Makes you dizzy all over again.
>You reel back. Your watering eyes climb higher. Beyond ridges of horn and scale, a pair of slitted eyes glare down at you. The inner eyelids blink, sideways. Tears clogged with sand run down its craggy snout.
>The sand wyrm looks tired. Tired, but triumphant. Topaz eyes flicker with some primal intelligence. It knows there’s nothing more you can do. Knows this is checkmate.
>And draconic pride demands a final moment of gloating. It wants you to *know* you’ve lost.
>You are so tired. You just want to rest.
>As those stained, jagged teeth descend upon you, you close your eyes one last time.
>The shockwave knocked you off your hooves. But you were further back from the blast. Able to roll with it. Then quickly scramble up.
>You are Fruit Punch, and you are the first to recover from… whatever the heck that explosion was.
>You could swear there was some pegasus magic in it. But stronger, and all… bent out of shape. Like the weather factory in Cloudsdale opened all its valves at once!
>Whatever. You’ve got more important things to worry about! Already that big brown lump - the bucking sand wyrm! - is pulling itself to its feet. Mountains of sand spill off its back, building little dunes around its legs.
>You backpedal instinctively, heart hammering. But the wyrm doesn’t seem to notice you. Or if it does, it’s looking for something else. It glances around, forked tongue flicking out creepily.
>Then it pauses. You follow its gaze to something half buried in the sand. Something that gleams gold and blue.
>Neither the mare nor the monster react. The huge beast simply starts stomping her way.
“No! Leave her alone!”
>You see movement in the corner of your eye. Anon is stirring. Digging himself out of his own sandy mound. But you can already tell he’s too far away, too dazed to help.
>There’s something in his hand. Gleaming. Is that… Glacier’s sword?
>You could dash in and grab it!
>But… then what?
>You’re no monster hunter! If Glacier and Feather Trail together couldn’t stand up to this beast, what hope do you have?
>You don’t know the first thing about fighting monsters! In all the time you spent together, Glacier barely told you anything! All you can remember is that one story about fighting a… what was it, a hydra? Some kind of big… lizard…?
>You think back to the conversation. Only a few days ago, but it seems like weeks:
>”Hide’s too thick for normal weapons. Even this,” she nods to her greatsword, “so we had to get creative.”
>”This crazy pegasus, Pollen, jumps onto its back. She can’t do any damage up there, but hydras are dumb. Instinct takes over. It rolls over, nearly crushing her.”
>Your eyes widen.
>And suddenly you know what to do.
>You are Glacier, and as those stained, jagged teeth descend upon you, you close your eyes one last time.
>Only to do a double take as a purple and gold meteor slams into the wyrm’s back!
>The small mare crashes more than lands. Hooves held out in front of her, eyes screwed shut. Her wings beat furiously, losing feathers at an alarming rate!
>Even with all the added weight from her golden armour, the impact barely rattles the sand wyrm. But it’s enough to give it pause.
>With a surprised snort, the wyrm cranes its neck around, trying to find the source of the unexpected pressure. Unable to twist around far enough, it begins to shake and buck, trying to dislodge the interloper. Its back sways and heaves from side to side, like a ship during a storm. The great stomping of its legs is like a miniature earthquake. You have to scramble back just to avoid being crushed!
>Somehow, Fruit manages to hold on, wings splayed out for balance. After a few more futile shakes, the wyrm abruptly changes tack. With ponderous slowness, it hurls itself onto its side, and then over onto its back.
>With a shout, Fruit topples out of sight. Lost beneath the mountain of knobbled hide.
>Before you can even cry out in panic, another voice cuts through the din.
>You look right to see Anon - still alive! - over a dozen metres away. He’s not standing - one of his legs dangles limply behind him. But in his hand is your greatsword!
>Your eyes meet. He raises the sword above and behind him. You recognise that pose! It’s how he does his scarily effective human throw! Is he trying to spear the wyrm?
>No; you realise his plan a split second before he throws. Enough time to spring to your hooves.
>With a shout, Anon hurls the massive weapon. An incredible throw for a pony. He makes it look easy. His aim is dead on. The weapon likely to land just in front of you.
>But you have other plans.
>As the wyrm writhes in the dust, the sword arcs overhead. Flashing gold as the first rays of the sun blaze along its edge.
>Then it begins to fall. The golden light fades.
>Only for a new glow to take its place.
>You leap into the air, horn flashing cyan. The sword flies home into your open hooves. Welcome back, buddy.
>You fall together.
>Towards the sand wyrm.
>And its pale, lightly armoured belly.
>”This crazy pegasus, Pollen, jumps onto its back. She can’t do any damage up there, but hydras are dumb. Instinct takes over. It rolls over, nearly crushing her.”
>”Hide’s thick, but the underside’s vulnerable. While it’s thrashing about, we get a few good blows in. Nothing lethal. But enough to convince it that we ponies mean business.”
>In a single, graceful motion, you spin around. Sword poised to strike.
>The magic from your horn redoubles. The wyrm is dyed a sickly green. Emerald flames dance along your blade’s edge.
>Your greatsword was never *meant* to be wielded by magic. Too long, too heavy.
>Most ponies would never guess it’s a weapon specifically intended for unicorns.
>Its true power comes from using your magic to augment your physical abilities, not replace them. When held with both forehooves, using magic to balance and to empower your blows, you’re able to put your entire body into each swing - your whole weight and strength and magic, concentrated into a single cutting edge.
>Not a practical weapon against, say, a pony. But against a large, lumbering creature with a very thick hide…
>With a war cry to rival Anon’s, you slash down.
>All your weight and strength and magic - all your momentum - all your fear and frustration and rage - concentrated along a single cutting edge.
>The armour breaks.
>Scale and flesh part before the blade, leaping aside almost eagerly. Blood splashes out in thick gouts, coating your hooves and chest. An ear-splitting shriek erupts from the wyrm, but still you press down, cleaving ever deeper.
>You only stop when the beast starts to roll away beneath you, flipping back to its feet.
>The ancient, monstrous predator turns to look at you. In its eyes you see disbelief. You see terror.
>It runs.
>You stand still, blade poised to strike again, as the wyrm skitters away. A trail of crimson marking its passage.
>Only when the last tip of its tail disappears behind a dune do you finally exhale.
>You let your sword drop to the ground.
>You follow a moment later.
>Only to be caught by waiting hands and hooves.
Phew. I wanted to spend a lot more time polishing this chapter. But it's already taken the longest time to finish by far. Gotta stop being so precious about my words, and just get them out there.

Anyway, hope you enjoy. And as always, hope the next update is quicker.
Pretty fun. No cliffhanger somehow.
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it was good, maybe a bit over the top with the turnarounds but still good
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>Hug the Guardsmare
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Sorry for taking so long.
That's cute
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Great to see the rest of the update! Thanks for posting.
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She looks happy now, but she won't be when she has to explain how her armor was damaged.
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>Gold Spear, the captain of the royal pony guards, led the mission. He was a stern stallion
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