Chapter 3 - Duty's Call
Dinner that night was better than last time. Vegetable soup is hard to mess up, though. There was no tension either. I was worried Rainbow Dash would bring up how she met my parents. Instead, we all just talked about our day. Just a regular conversation over dinner. At least, I thought that was what a regular conversation over dinner would look like.
After dinner, Rainbow Dash showed me Twilight's Daring Do collection and insisted I start reading them right away. To be honest, I don't know if I really need to - she already pretty much told me all about each book.
"Okay, Rainbow Dash, I'll start reading them."
"Good, oh, and why do you keep calling me Rainbow Dash when you call Twilight, 'Twilight' and not Twilight Sparkle?"
"Look, I'm just a normal pony like everypony else. You can call me Rainbow if you want."
"Wow, that felt weird," I thought.
After Rainbow left - that still felt strange to say- Twilight showed me her guest bed.
"This is where Applejack and Rarity slept when they spent the night with me. I hope you'll be comfortable."
"I'm sure I will. I'm so tired right now, I could fall asleep on just the floor."
"Tired? Did last night's storm keep you up?"
"No, Rainbow did." Oh, now why did I say that?
"She did? Let me guess, tell you all about her latest awesome tricks or everything that went on that week with Spitfire?"
"No, neither of those actually. See...umm...did you know...did you know she snores?"
Twilight's eyes widened and she immediately started laughing.
"Rainbow Dash snores?"
"Yeah, and really loudly, too."
That caused another round of laughter from us both.
"Well, it will be very quiet for you up here tonight. I've got a lot of studying to do and a research project to start, so I may not be up here at all tonight, and I promise I'll be quiet downstairs."
"Thank you, Twilight. Oh, and please don't tell Rainbow I told you she snores."
"That will be our little secret."
Twilight turned and went back downstairs. As I lay there in the dark and quiet, I couldn't help but think about my Mom and Dad. I knew they were in Canterlot, but why? It's just got to be something important. Like really important. I was just so tired right then. I really needed to go to sleep. "Maybe I could have a nice dream tonight," I said to myself. I needed one.
Two ponies were hurrying down the long Canterlot hallway.
"Come on Veil, she's lowered the sun. We're supposed to already be there by now."
"I'm coming. Sorry but that one book was really fascinating. I may have found something to help us."
"That's fine, but you don't keep a princess waiting."
"She'll wait for us, Eidetic. We've got news she wants to hear, she has to hear."
As they approached Princess Celestia's private council chamber, they were met with two of the largest pony guards either had ever seen.
"You're late. She's waiting for you inside," one of the guards said as he opened the door.
"Ah, there you two are. I thought you might have forgotten our appointment," Celestia's voice sang throughout the room.
"I'm sorry, Your Majesty. We didn't forget. I just got caught up in one of the books from the archives. I am the reason for our tardiness," Veil replied.
"It's alright. I'm just not accustomed to waiting. Now, you have urgent news to report?"
"Yes, your Majesty," Eidetic spoke, walking toward a map. "We have confirmed that there is a threat against Canterlot. It seems to be sourced somewhere here, near the badlands. The threat is real and is coming soon."
"Who is it that threatens our city?"
"That, your Majesty, we have not yet surmised. We've been following several leads, but each time we hit a dead end."
"What do you mean a 'dead end'?"
"Well, the suspect ponies we follow, just seem to vanish. We'll start following them, and they'll turn a corner ahead of us and by the time we get there, they're gone. They're never more than five steps ahead of us, but they somehow simply vanish. We've even asked other ponies standing where the suspect should be if they saw anypony and the answer is always no."
"Eidetic is right, Your Majesty. Each time a pony vanishes, I of course look for signs of a spell, but there is never any magic that I can detect."
"But if you cannot follow these ponies, how do you know the threat is real?"
"Some of the suspects are not that bright. They'll read scrolls out in the open, without looking to see if anypony is around. Using Veil's magic, I've stood beside them, read the scrolls, and transcribed them later."
Veil magically lifted nearly a dozen scrolls from her saddle bag and levitated them to the Princess.
Princess Celestia began reading the scrolls. Her expression grew angry and eventually confused.
"Eidetic, if anypony else presented me with evidence that they memorized and transcribed, I would not even bother to unroll the scroll. However, knowing your ability to remember everything you see, these scrolls are evidence that there is a threat. Were any of these scrolls written by one of your suspected leads?"
"No, Your Majesty. They were all received by our suspects, read, and then destroyed. We've never seen anypony send a scroll."
"And all these came from areas along the outer edge of Equestria, near the badlands, correct?"
"Veil, I know your magical speciality is in disguise spells, but have you ever tried to place a tracking spell on one of your leads?"
"Yes, Your Majesty, but only simple ones. I am not that skilled with more advanced tracking spells."
"And I take it, those spells yielded no results?"
"Correct your Majesty. I can place the tracking spell, on say, a blue unicorn we suspect. Then once we start following the spell, we'll end up tracking a green pegasus. I'm guessing I'm not binding the spell properly and it is transferring to another pony."
"It's alright, Veil. One shouldn't expect to master a new magic right away, and practicing in the field does not help. Eidetic, you have transcribed all the letters as signed by the same author. Have you determined who the author is?"
"No, Your Majesty."
"Eidetic, Veil, you have fulfilled your charge to find evidence of a threat to Canterlot. Now I must present you with a new charge: Find the author of these letters. Find out who this Q.C. is and you will find the source of the threat."
"Your Majesty, please..."
Veil's eyes immediately filled with tears. Eidetic ran to his wife, placing his foreleg around her shoulders and gently nuzzling her cheek. He knew the pain she felt just then. He felt it, too.
"What have I said to upset you both so?"
"It's our daughter, Scootaloo. Working to discover this threat and the other charges you've presented to us, has caused us to miss so much of her young life. She's a pegasus, and I have not been able to fulfill my duty in teaching her to fly yet."
"Having to be away from her, and then having to lie to her in such a horrible way to maintain our cover, it's breaking my heart. I was hoping after we delivered this news, fulfilling our charge, we would be released and sent back home."
The room was silent, except for the occasional sob from Veil.
Princess Celestia's voice eventually broke the silence.
"I am sorry. I knew you had a daughter, but I did not think about how much of your time this would take away from her."
"Thank you, Your Majesty." Veil smiled.
"Do not thank me yet. I've asked a lot from you both, but I must ask more yet. I need you to fulfill this new charge, for the greater good of Equestria, and for Scootaloo."
"We...we understand, your Majesty." Eidetic bowed his head as he spoke.
"Still, I do not enjoy the idea of your daughter being alone and not knowing how to fly at her age. Is there anypony in or near Ponyville that you trust?"
"Well, there is one pegaus pony. She has shown to be a very loyal friend to Scootaloo, always being there when she needs her." Veil spoke.
"If you trust her, and if she will, have her sign this," Princess Celestia levitated a scroll over to Veil.
"What is this? I can feel magic coming from it."
"When the pegasus you mentioned truly wants to sign this scroll. When she fully understands the commitment this scroll represents, and willingly signs, she will magically become a member of your family. This magic will cause a change in her and the two of you. Not only will she will possess the same rights and responsibilities as any other member of your families, but she will feel an emotional bond to Scootaloo and to both of you. This is deeper than simply the idea of a legal guardian, this is opening your family and your hearts to this pony, allowing her to enter, and the same will happen to her. If you must, think of her as becoming a sort of Aunt."
"Or, a big sister to Scootaloo?" Veil asked with fresh tears in her eyes.
"Yes, she will become a big sister to Scootaloo."
The magical scroll started glowing as Celestia changed the spell it contained.
"Do you think she'll sign it, Veil?"
"I don't know. I don't even know how we'll explain to her what this actually means. How do you ask someone 'Would you like to join our family'?"
"The two of you do not need to worry about providing an explanation," Celestian interrupted, "I believe that my next appointment will provide you with a solution."