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Guru Gabby Griffon and the Guerrilla Giraffe Gaffe

by Admiral_Biscuit

There was a point in which giving further orders could have no effect. A point in which the choices made, the training completed, the exercise and rehearsals and choreography and everything else were done, and could not be undone. The moment where she had to trust that everything that needed to be done had been done, the moment that every creature was in his or her appointed place and knew the task that they were to perform soon–too soon.

All around her, the hushed voices of her trainees, her students, her mentees. She’d taught them everything she’d known . . . no, that wasn’t true. There wasn’t enough time to teach them all that she knew, all that she’d learned; there was barely enough time to teach them what they needed to know.

She fluffed her wings and tapped her claws on the scarred wooden floor. It was hard to keep silent, hard to still the butterflies in her stomach, hard to put her trust in others, even though she had to.

Quiet hoofsteps across the floor. She could barely see who it was in the murky shadows. Most of them waiting were wearing all black, blending in with the shadows.

It was crowded and hot. It was always crowded and hot before, too many creatures and too much stuff all crammed into a too-small space.

Beyond the wall she was leaning against, she could hear voices, and she said a silent prayer to whoever would listen that her people remembered to be stealthy.

And they did. She was intently focused on her internal monologue, so intently focused that she didn’t hear her assistant approach. Gabby almost shrieked when he tapped her on the shoulder.

It was amazing how much socks could quiet hoofsteps.

“Hey.” A very soft whisper, but it sounded loud. It sounded like something that could be heard beyond them. “Miss Gabby, do you know where the gaff tape is?”

“There isn’t any in the light booth?”

He shrugged. “You told us not to go across the catwalks when there was an audience below.”

“Oh yeah.” Her heart swelled with pride. It was a small thing, but her many lessons had been taken to heart. “Why do you need it? Did some of the cables come loose?”

“Nuh-uh, Gladiola’s head is coming off and we need to tape it back on.”

For a moment, a macabre image played across her mind, and then she jerked back to the present as he kept talking.

“I told them that it lacked structural integrity, but nopony listened to me. I shoulda–”

“In the future you could use your own initiative,” Gabby instructed. “Maybe carry around a roll of gaff tape for taping heads back on.” That was a strange sentence to have just spoken aloud.

His ears flattened. “You told us that a good stagehoof is always prepared.”

The lesson had been learned. He wouldn’t make that mistake again. “There’s some downstairs in the green room.”


“Oh, and Gaura?”


“Nice work on the socks, I totally didn’t hear you coming.”



The play was delayed five minutes while Gladiola’s gorilla head was gaff-taped back on. Maybe somebody in the audience heard the distinctive noise of gaff tape being peeled off the roll, maybe they didn’t.


Now that the curtain was open, she could stay back and watch from the sidelines. It was both a familiar perspective and a new one; even during the full dress rehearsals she didn’t stay backstage, she patrolled the theatre, giving advice, helping her actors and techies when they needed it.

No matter how the dress rehearsals had gone, there was a different vibe to opening night.

A soft ‘clang’ caught her ear, and she turned and cocked her head, trying to focus on the source. It wasn’t anything that had broken on stage–it had come from the direction of the balconies.

Everybody knew that theatres were haunted, but even the ghosts respected the plays. This was something else; something had fallen or broken, or something.


Theatres are magical places, full of secret passageways that few know. The normal way to get to the balconies was through the audience, out the auditorium doors, then up a flight of stairs.

She chose to creep behind the sets, risking a glance out into the house as she went. Gladiola the Gorilla and Geoff the Giraffe were both on stage, chasing around a small knot of innocent adventuring ponies. If any of her movement was seen, the audience would just assume that some other fearsome forest creature was about to join the fray–and they wouldn’t be wrong; as she crossed back into the shadows of the wings, Gypsophilia the Gnu trotted on stage.

Gabby flew up the ladder, ducked through an access hallway lined with carbide lamps, and then slowly made her way down a flight of disused, dusty stairs. Practically every riser squealed in protest as soon as she put an ounce of weight on it.

“Oh no, another monster, run!” She could hear the hoofsteps of the actors as they trotted around the stage, now further pinned in with the arrival of Gilbert Gopher.

Laughter erupted from the audience and more and more jungle creatures arrived to meanace the main cast, and then she was easing open the lower hallway door–the hinges squeaked.

There, on the floor, where it clearly didn’t belong, was a grille.

Somehow, it had fallen off the ventilation shaft.

This hallway was almost never used. While it wasn’t obvious to Gabby how the grille might have loosened up, she knew that it could have been unscrewed for a long time before it finally fell flat.

And she would have given it no further thought if she hadn’t also noticed a pair of eyes that vanished into the darkness as soon as they were spotted.

The hollow banging of a creature against a metal duct was all the proof she needed that something was in the shaft.

Gabby glided across the hall and crouched alongside the vent, wiggling her butt as she got into pounce position, just waiting for those eyes to return.

Return they did, a few seconds later. First a muzzle, poking curiously out of the vent, nostrils flared. Then some leopard-spotted fur, then the eyes, two horns, ears–

“Hey.” Gabby’s voice was a whisper. “Who are you?”

The ears snapped over, and the head followed.

“And why are you in my vent?”

A look of indignation crossed the stranger’s face, before giving in to pride. “I am here as a leader of the guerrillas who are going to make you regret every putting on this farce of a play.”

“Look, I know the writing’s not the best, but it’s Ginger Shade’s first play.”

“It’s speciest. And we aim to put a stop to it.”

“How do you mean?” Gabby got up from her crouch and moved more into the center of the hallway so that her strange visitor wouldn’t get a crick in her neck.

“You’re portraying non-pony creatures in a bad light. With an imperialistic pony view of things. Maybe we don’t have the big glittering palaces of Canterlot or trains, but just because most of us like to live a simple life and not bother anybody doesn’t mean that we don’t have any kind of a culture. We’re not a bunch of ignorant savages.”

“Did you even read the play?”

“No, but George did and he got very offended.”


“Well, not all of it, but he read enough of it to get the idea.”

“Literally the moral of the play is that friendship is magic,” Gabby said. “The entire second act revolves around that.”


“So are you the spotter or something?”

She shook her head. “We, uh, it seemed like a good idea to sneak through the vents, that’s what they always do in movies. So if you could just pretend you didn’t see me. . . .”

Gabby ran a talon across her crest, then dropped on her rump in the hallway. “So, I’m the stage manager, and it’s my job to make sure that the play goes off without a hitch, or a guerilla I guess.”

“Guerillas, there are a bunch of us. George’s goons, we’re called.”

“How many?”

“I’m not telling you.”

“Will you tell me your name?”

“If–” She paused, before speaking again. “We’re not friends. I’m entirely opposed to your theatre production. Even if it’s like you say and the whole play revolves around a friendship lesson–”

“In Equestria, it’s literally the law that they do.”

“–you’re mocking me by having your giraffe be a pony with painted-on spots and a paper mache head and neck.”

“So you’re a giraffe, then?”

She nodded her head.

“Why didn’t you come to tryouts? You could have auditioned.”

“I didn’t hear about it, okay? The ponynet’s really unreliable where I live.”

“We could have put up posters,” Gabby admitted. “I do apologize for that. I did wonder why we got a mostly pony and pony-adjacent cast.”

The giraffe snorted, blowing up a cloud of dust from the floor. “I’m pony-adjacent.”

“Moreso than me,” Gabby admitted. “What’s your name.”


“Huh. Would have expected it to start with a ‘G’.”

“Are you stereotyping?”

“No, just that it seems most species I know like alliteration.” She stuck out a talon. “My name’s Gabby, by the way.”

“Gabby the Griffon?”

“Yeah.” Gabby took back her unshook talon. “So . . . I think we’re almost to the intermission now, and I really need to get back to my spot on the stage. My assistant has a lot in his hooves, and it sounds like I’ll have to be dealing with George the Guerrilla–”

“How’d you know he was a gorilla?”

Her brain short-circuited for a brief instant, crashed, and then rebooted. “Lucky guess.” Might have to expect a groundhog and a gnu, too. She frowned. What does a gnu even look like?

Gabby turned and started to walk away, then paused as her talong was on the half-open door. She could feel Clementine’s eyes on her, almost pleading?

“You . . . are you stuck?”

Clementine let out a long-suffering sigh. “I got my head up this shaft, you’d think I could get it back down again. I could back up but there’s a dropoff behind me and if I fall in that I’ll really be stuck.”

Gabby rolled her eyes. Respectfully. And then she got out her cell phone and started punching in numbers.


The actors took their final bow and the curtain came down for the final time. The hoofstomps of applause faded out and there were none more enthusiastic than those of a giraffe in a neck brace, standing in the back where she wouldn’t block anybody’s view, and also off to the side where she also wouldn’t block the view of ponies in the balcony.

The fire department had extracted her from the ventilation system midway through the second act, and they’d also found George the Guerilla Gorilla who had taken a wrong turn and wound up one building over.

Hugs and hoofbumps were exchanged, and at the end everypony learned a valuable friendship lesson or two. Gaura never again stage-managed without a roll of gaff tape, George graduated from Guerillaing to geology, ultimately getting a gneiss degree from Georgetown, and Clementine auditioned for the next play and got a leading role.

Gabby learned not to assume that giraffe names start with the letter G, but she still doesn’t know what a gnu actually looks like.