Light Training.

17 Years Ago.

----------------------------------------------

LIGHT FAMILY RESIDENCE - MINT CREME (AGE 18)

----------------------------------------------

Guiding fussed over her daughter's uniform, frowning slightly as she wiped a smudge of breakfast from Mint's chin, "You're going to have to do better then this if you expect to pass inspection, Dear."


Mint rolled her eyes with a good natured giggle, "I'm sure I'll be fine, Mom." She ruffled her wings a bit, a little constrained in the trainee uniform. "I won't screw this up. I'm going to make you and Dad proud."


Guiding nodded before pulling Mint into a tight hug, "I know you will Dear, I just worry." She gave Mint one last appraising look, moving a hoof to adjust the uniform one last time. "There. Now, you should get going. Don't want to report to training late."


Mint nodded, "I won't Mom." She laughed a little more nervously then she let on, "I'll be fine. And I'll stop by home whenever I can."


Her mother nodded with a sigh, "I hope so Mint. I want to see you around."


Mint hugged Guiding, "I promise, Mom. I'll see you around." She headed out the kitchen to the door. Opening it, she paused as a small tug pulled at her tail. Smiling, Mint turned to look down, finding, as she expected, her little brother. Night Light looked up at her in uniform, his face in awe, but tears clear in his eyes.


"You're... y-you're really going, Mint?"


Mint kneeled down, hugging Night tight, "Yeah, lil' trooper, I am. You know I've been working to get into the Guard. It's time for me to follow my dream."


Night hugged back, nodding, "I'm going to do it too someday. I... I'm going to get my cutie mark s-saving somepony, and then I'll fight alongside you and Dad. I'll be just like a real Knight."


Mint tousled Night's mane, "Oh, Nighty... whatever happens, you'll make us all proud, I know it." She looked up, noticing Spring poking her head around the corner, and immediately ducking it back when she saw Mint looking at her. "You going to be okay Night?"


He paused, looking down a moment before nodding, "Y-yeah... I'll be... fine. I'm a big pony... and s-strong, and brave. But... I'll miss you Mint..."


She smiled, "I'll miss you too, trooper. But I'll be back, I promise. I'm going to go and train and become stronger, like Dad. And someday, you'll be there too Nighty." She poked him with a wing gently, raising his chin up. "You are strong Night, and brave. Don't let Di and Spring get to you. Some day, you and I? We'll fight, side by side."


Night slowly smiled, jumping up again to hug his sister, his wings fluttering behind him. He held his sister, tears streaming now, "I promise Mint! I promise."


Mint let the hug linger a moment longer before setting Night down, her own eyes tearing up as well. She smiled at Night, eyes glancing to the kitchen door to find Guiding smiling, eyes welling up with tears of her own. Mint stood tall and saluted Night. Her brother fell into a similar stance, doing his best to puff out his chest and give his sister a precision salute. "See you around, Night..." Mint nodded to her Mother as well, hefting her gunny sack as she trotted out the door.

----------------------------------------------

CANTERLOT - CAMP SOLSTICE TRAINING GROUNDS

----------------------------------------------

Basic Training had been rough. Not hard, just intense. Constant physical strain, stressful conditions, and a lack of sleep, but Mint had persevered. Indeed, she had thrived. Studying her father's books as she grew, pushing herself and her ability, she was a natural.


The sergeant called out her name, "Private Creme!" Mint stepped forward. "You will be paired with Private Lights for today's session." She raised an eyebrow, but nodded, turning to view the stallion as he stepped forward.


The stallion smirked a bit, insufferable. He bowed his head, "Winter Lights, Ma'am. I apologize, I won't take it easy on you."


She snorted, looking him up and down. Okay, he was kind of cute. "Mint Creme, Sir." She smiled as she stressed the last word. "Not easy, eh? Well let's just see." She dropped down into the basic combat stance they'd learned day one in training.


Winter smiled, falling into a stance Mint readily recognized from her studying. So this guy wasn't just full of it. Well, not completely. Mint adjusted her own stance into one she'd read, more well suited to meeting Winter's. She smirked as the stallion raised an eyebrow at her stance, but his grin returned and he adjusted slightly to match her. They waited.


At the last, Winter went first, pushing himself forward into a lunge, he lashed out against Mint's stance, but she was already in motion, juking left and coming in with a strike of her own. The two sparred, block, counter-block, strike and counter-strike. Raw and untested moves studied in books, inelegant forms and stances and painful lessons.


Mint flared her wings to leap up to the air and dive down, colliding with Winter, who in turn braced against her, opening his wings to roll with the dive and flip her off. The training sergeant was shouting, "Wings down! Wings down! Creme! Lights! Cease confrontation immediately!" But neither heard him, focused upon one another as the pulled up from the ground.


Mint narrowed her eyes as she staggered up, making another jump forward. As she reached forward to strike, some unseen force smashed into her. The sergeant collided with her, throwing her aside. He pointed a hoof at Winter. "You two are to cease this exercise immediately. This was a simple sparring exercise, not an excuse to brawl!" Mint rose back up, shaking her head. The sergeant turned to her, "Both of you. Report to the mess hall. Post haste!"

----------------------------------------------

CANTERLOT - CAMP SOLSTICE KITCHENS

----------------------------------------------

Mint sat glaring at Winter as the two peeled potatoes in the back room of the mess hall. Winter stared back, glaring just as hard. She spoke up first, "This wouldn't have happened if you'd stuck to the standard stance."


Winter snorted, "It wouldn't have happened if you hadn't thrown open your wings."


"Well that was only because you were too focused on your hooves."


"Because you were spending so much time wasting your movement!"


The two fell into silence again, peeling. Winter sighed, "So... who won?"


Mint frowned, "Well, I would have won, obviously. Before the sergeant stopped me."


"Are you serious? Your lunge was imbalanced! I was going to knock you aside and strike from above!"


"And how do you know the imbalance wasn't intentional! You jump left, I swing a hoof and strike while you leave yourself open!"


"You're overconfident."


"And you're a jerk!" Mint threw the potato down, staring at it as the silence dragged on, "I didn't mean that..."


Winter nodded, "You are something all right... you know, maybe I'm overstepping myself, but, do you think you'd be interested, maybe in-"


"A rematch!?" Mint looked up, smiling wickedly. "Without the Drill Sergeant's interruption, this time."


He laughed, "Well, that's an idea too. I was going to ask if you'd like to go out for dinner sometime?"


Mint blinked at the stallion, shaking her head as a smile spread across her face, "Unbelievable. Are you actually asking me out?"


Winter smirked, his gaze falling onto the potato sitting in his hoof, "Well, I suppose I am."


She giggled, "Nice. Good way to introduce yourself to a mare. Get in a fight with her." She grins, "Well, Mr. Lights. Let's give you another chance, yes? Rematch. Loser buys Dinner."


He looked up, raising an eyebrow. "You want... to bet?" He laughs, "Alright then, Miss Creme. You're on. And please," he grinned, "Call me Wintergreen."


She picked up another potato, giggling, "Alright then Wintergreen... It's Mint Creme, so... call me Mint." She shook her head, with a smile, turning back to peeling potatoes. The two continued to talk as the hours passed, the company they shared suddenly seeming to make the punishment far better then it had any right to be.