Chapter Five - Sneaking Like a Spy
Royal Castle, Canterlot, Equestria
It often took an act of god to pull Twilight away from her studies. She would get so wrapped up in her books that she would lose track of all reality outside her own mind.
It was a good thing then that Princess Celestia was considered a minor deity by quite a few species in the galaxy. A quiet word from her and Twilight would instantly snap back to the real world, if under protest.
Like most every night, this had happened to be the case. She would forget to eat if Celestia never came to check on her. Brilliant though she might be, her smarts came along with a large case of obliviousness.
Celestia entered the dining room with a small smile on her face. She was followed by a sulking Twilight, her head low to the ground, book free and more than a little cross about it. The dining room wasn't the largest, with a table large enough to seat six at the most taking up the center. It was the Princesses private dining room, and it was also one of the few places that the Royal sisters could let loose and be themselves.
Luna was already seated at the table, sipping at a cup of coffee as she looked over the nightly newspaper on her omni-tool. Hearing their entrance, she looked up and gives a tired smile to the two of them.
"Good evening, sister," Luna said, giving a short nod in greeting. She turned her attention to the filly following Celestia, giving her a smile as well. "Twilight."
Twilight grumbled as she climbed up into her chair, dropping her head onto her hooves. Celestia and Luna shared a small smile at her grumpiness.
"She is disappointed that I did not allow her to bring her book to dinner," Celestia explained with a knowing look to Luna.
"I was at a very important spot!" Twilight didn't lift her head as she spoke, her forelegs muffling her voice. "It was a matter of life and death!"
Celestia smiled as a waiter entered, pushing a tea cart. He poured her a cup of tea.
"Daring Doo will wait until tomorrow, Twilight." Celestia took a sip of her tea, enjoying the warm steam as it wafted over her nose.
"Life and death, Princess!"Twilight groaned, sitting up and gesturing wildly. She barely avoided toppling out of her chair.
"And I am sure that you will stay up tonight and read under your covers." Setting down her tea, Celestia stretched her wings as she let out a yawn. "Right now though, it is dinner time."
"Fine," she grumbled. Sitting up in her seat, Twilight scowled to the side.
The waiter entered the room, pushing a larger tray with three trays arrayed on top, their dinner. Quickly, the waiter set the plates before the Princesses and the student. Pulling away the covers, he revealed two beautifully prepared and tasty looking strawberry salads for Celestia and Twilight, and eggs, toast, and hash browns for Luna (it was her breakfast after all).
"It looks absolutely marvelous," Celestia complimented, taking a bite. "Please give my compliments to the chef."
With a grateful bow, the Waiter thanked her before backing up and leaving the room after quickly refilling their drinks.
Luna took a drink from her cup, but nearly spit it out again as she read her omni-tool She looked worriedly over at Celestia, holding it up for her to see.
"Tia," Luna spoke with an urgent voice.
Catching her meaning, Celestia opened her own omni-tool, quickly reading what was waiting for her within. Her own eyes widened and she looked up at Luna, who was levitating her plate with her as she walked towards the exit.
"Please forgive my rudeness." Luna didn't sound sorry, her voice distracted. "There are matters I must attend to. Tia, will you contact the Commander after dinner? I will be busy preparing aid and supplies."
"Of course, sister." With a nod of her head, Celestia waved Luna goodbye. "You needn't ask."
"Thank you." Luna took a bite of her eggs as she walked out of the room. She downed her toast as fast as she was physically able to.
As the door shuts behind the lunar Princess, Twilight looked up at Celestia in confusion, chewing then swallowing her salad before speaking.
"Princess Celestia, what's wrong?" She cocked her head in confusion.
"Nothing you need to worry about, Twilight." Celestia inwardly wished that her student was a bit less attentive when not absorbed in her books, but she quickly shook that thought away. Twilight was perfect just the way she was. Instead, she smiled at her young student. "Why don't you tell me why you love this Daring Doo so much."
"Where do I start?!" Twilight's eyes widened and she gasped, sitting up excitedly. She slammed her hooves down onto the table as she squealed in glee.
Twilight began a long explanation about why Daring Doo was simply the best archeologist ever and how she deserved to be awarded the highest honor in Equestria for her service to the crown. There were flow-charts and everything. Never let it be said that Twilight Sparkle was ever unprepared.
Celestia listened to the whole conversation, interjecting her own points at the right moment. It was her duty after all to make Twilight think harder about what she was actually saying. As her personal student, Celestia had her own duties to ensure that the filly learned everything she possibly could.
Finishing their dinner, Celestia stood. She smiled down at Twilight.
"I think its time for bed for you, Twilight." Celestia took Twilight under her wing as she led her to the door.
Twilight managed to only look disappointed for just a moment before brightening again when she realized she could still 'sneak' in the rest of her Daring Doo book under the covers.
'Okay, Princess," Twilight muttered, leaning in closer against her mentor.
Celestia entered her room, taking a deep breath and slumping down as soon as the doors closed behind her. She quickly levitated her crown and her collar and dropped them down gratefully onto their stand. She loved being the everlasting sun, keeping watch over her little ponies, but it was tiring sometimes. Over her three-thousand years (give or take a few hundred million years) as Princess, she learned that it was always the best to let her mane down whenever she could
Tiredly, she moved to stand in front of her desk slumping down for a moment as she stared into her mirror.
"You look tired, Celestia," she murmured, blinking her eyes tiredly.
She stared a moment longer before shaking her head. Straightening up, Celestia activated the holo-display on her desk. A rather large keyboard appeared, solid, instead of holographic. As a pony, she had found it rather difficult to use the semi-solid hard-light interfaces that the other races had seemed to solely adopt.
Typing in a quick command, Celestia activated the communications. She magically projected her crown and collar on, not wanting to put on the real thing because of their weight.
A moment passed as the holo-display connected with Equestria's communication network, and to the Comm Buoys outside of the Dyson Sphere. The ability to be able to talk to someone hundreds of light-years away was something that still impressed her when she thought about it.
On the screen, a pegasus officer with lieutenant bars on his uniform appeared on the screen. Seeing Celestia, he gave a quick but respectful bow when he realized who it was.
"Princess Celestia!" He saluted, then gave a deep, respectful bow.
"I need to speak with Commander Easyglider," Celestia said, nodding her acceptance of his salute.
"Of course, Princess!" The Lieutenant disappeared and the Wonderbolts sigil appeared on the screen, slowly spinning as waiting music played. Celestia breathed evenly as she waited.
A soft chime indicated the connecting call and Celestia straightened, coughing to clear her throat. Commander Easyglider appeared, from his office on the Wonderbolts ship. He saluted the moment that he saw Celestia.
"Princess Celestia!" He exclaimed, eyes going wide.
"Commander." Celestia greeted respectfully. Easyglider was one of her most trusted soldiers, one the revolutionaries that was dragging Equestria into modernity. "I understand that you and your team has gone through quite an ordeal."
"Yes, your highness." Easyglider nodded. "On route to Thessia, we picked up a distress beacon from one of the Alliance's colony planets."
Celestia nodded in understanding. It was exactly the way she wanted soldiers working for her to act.
"We diverted and provided support against Raiders who were taking colonists as slaves," Easyglider explained professionally. "We only had one casualty, no fatalities, and we managed to keep the Raiders at bay long enough for the Alliance arrive.:
"Good, Commander." Celestia felt warmth in her chest. She was proud of him. "Tell your team that the Princesses are proud of their actions."
"I will, Your Highness." Easyglider smiled, breaking his professional attitude.
"You said you had a casualty?" Celestia asked. "What happened? Are they okay?"
"Rainbow Prism, your Highness." Easyglider winces. It had been a lucky shot, but none the less, it had destroyed a kids dreams. "He's a new recruit. One of the raiders got in a lucky shot and broke his wing. He'll be able to fly again, but our medics don't believe he will ever be able to preform with us again."
"That is unfortunate, Commander." Biting her lip, Celestia looked away as she let her mind work through the issue. "Please let him know that I will make sure he is rewarded for his actions."
"I will, your Highness." Easyglider saluted again before disconnecting the call.
"And for the first time in a long time, Daring had a good night's sleep. Another day, another victory." Twilight was sitting under her covers, reading the last page of her novel using her horn's magic to light it.
"Whoa..." Shutting the book, Twilight looked up with her eyes wide. "That was a good book!"
She was still for a moment before pulling the covers off over her head. She extinguished her horn, set her book on the nightstand next to her and laid back in her bed. That had been a good book, and she couldn't wait until the next book was published!
Twilight closed her eyes, trying to get to sleep.
A moment passed... her stomach rumbled.
Twilight cracked open an eye, looking down at her grumbling tummy.
"Quiet!" She whispered, hushing her stomach with a shush.
Defiantly, her tummy rumbled again. Twilight groaned, pondering what she should do for a moment, but her mind was quickly made up.
"Fine!" She rolled her eyes, glaring at her tummy. "Quiet! I shall feed you, you ravening beast."
Rolling out of her bed, Twilight dropped to the floor with a near silent thump. She paused for a minute, waiting to see if any of the guard was going to burst through her door, demanding that she get back in bed.
When that didn't happen (but she was still prepared), she crept as silently as possible towards the door.
Her stomach rumbled again.
"I'm going!" Twilight protested, stomping a hoof defiantly on the ground.
She clapped her hooves over her mouth when she realized that she didn't whisper. A moment of cautious waiting didn't herald the arrival of the Royal Guard and she relaxed with a sigh.
Stepping up to the door, Twilight opened it and slipped out into the hallway.
Twilight crept down the hall on the tips of her hooves. She looked left, then right. She was just like acting like that spy in the movie Shining Armor had shown her last weekend.
Her stomach rumbled and she froze, but when no-pony came and threw her in chains she nervously continued on.
Twilight crept into the Royal Kitchen, the door opening on silent hinges. The workers in the castle were always sure to keep the castle beautifully maintained. Only a single one of the chefs was on duty, and he was tiredly keeping watch over an oven cooking something tasty, reading a magazine.
Getting down low, Twilight slunk through the kitchen towards the pastry cupboard. The Chef was oblivious.
Opening the cupboard, Twilight turned to watch the Chef in case he spied her in her mission. He didn't move, starting to nod off.
Reaching into the cupboard, Twilight grabbed two cupcakes, resting them protectively on her back. Ever so slowly, she turned and crept out of the room.
Shutting the door behind herself, Twilight gave a little squeal of glee at her successful kitchen raid. She started prancing, silently of course, as she headed back down the hallway towards her tower.
Picking one of the cupcakes off of her back with her magic, Twilight took a big bite, grinning in her triumph.
Twilight tripped over her hooves and she hit the floor with an oof. Looking up, she found Luna standing over her with an amused smile.
"P-P-Princess Luna!" Twilight blushed, rubbing her hooves nervously together. "I didn't see you there."
"We figured as much, Twilight." Luna smirked down at the filly. "Are you not supposed to be in bed?"
"I got hungry, Princess!" Grinning sheepishly, Twilight rolled over and rubbed the back of her head in embarrassment. She grimaced when she found that her mane was covered in smushed cupcake. She curled up on herself on the floor, anxiety rushing through her. "Please don't throw me into prison!"
"Do not fret, Twilight." Luna giggled at Twilight's adorably scared expression. "We understand the need for late night munchies. In fact, that is were we were headed before we ran into you."
"But wouldn't that just be a snack, Princess?" Twilight sat back, not so afraid as she was moments ago. "You're the Princess of the Night!"
"Yes," Luna nodded, smiling at the filly. "And because of that, midnight snacks for me usually occur at lunchtime for the rest of Equestria."
"I didn't know that!" Twilight giggled at that bit of information.
"It is a closely guarded secret." Luna smiled down at Twilight and held out a hoof for her to take. "I do not believe that all of Equestria needs to know that I eat copious amounts of cake at lunch."
"But I've never seen you at lunch time!" Twilight protested, her mind spinning.
"Indeed." Luna nodded. "I take my midday snack in my room. Tia sometimes joins me."
"Now come, Twilight." Taking Twilight by the hoof, Luna started leading her back to her tower. "It is time that you get back to bed."