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Living Darkness- tf2/mlp crossover

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She is running, running for her life, running for her very sanity. She speeds down the dark hallways of her and her sister's once home, but wherever she looks, the shadows of her alter ego keep getting closer. A shadow shots out from the darkness, wrapping itself around her hind leg. She shoots a burst of magic at it, shouting: "You won't claim me again!" Never again she will give into the shadows.
A shrieking laughter echo through the hall, she flinches both from the pain of the laugh but also from how much the owner enjoys her torment.

"You don't have a choice!" The shadows gather around the throne, taking form as a black mare with eyes cold as ice. The remaining darkness settles as this mare's mane and tail, gently swirling around her in a hypnotic manner. Fooling lesser ponies to think this night mare is no threat. The mare smirks down at the trembling thing before her. "No matter how much you try and deny it: I am who you really are."

But she knows better, she knows what she is capable of because... she had been that mare. And now looking at what horror her subjects—her sister had to face... "No! I am not you!" Luna cries up to Nightmare Moon, but her voice is not as sure as she would like.

Nightmare Moon laughs loudly, "Oh is that doubt I hear?" She giggles gleefully, Luna flinches when the shadows start to surround her. "Did you really think an artifact like the Elements of Harmony fixed you up? You may be good now, but I will always be here!"

The shadows swallow Luna, but for a moment, the darkness shatters in a burst of light of a rainbow. Forcing Nightmare Moon back.

"What?!" The dark ponies cry, glaring at the rescuers.

Looking up Luna sees ten glowing figures, several of them are alicorns. One of those alicorns steps towards her, offering her a hoof. Luna, feeling safer around this unknown alicorn reaches out for it. But just as she is about to touch their hoof, Nightmare Moon transforms and the massive darkness attacks her saviors.

"THE ELEMENTS HAVE BEEN DESTROYED"

Two of the stranger looking alicorns get swallowed- destroyed by the darkness. The one there has reached out for her tries to attack but is exiled into the abyss, the light of is shattered. The six others do get attacked by the darkness, like the three others they did not stand a chance. They got destroyed but unlike the three others; their light survived.
Luna stares for a moment of these faint glowing lights of hope, then the darkness takes her as well, forcing her mind bend to its will. For a horrific moment, she is broken, once again Nightmare Moon. She finds herself before that purple unicorn and smashes the six elements of Harmony.

"THE SEALS ARE BROKEN AND THE DARKNESS IS FREE ONCE AGAIN"

Out from the darkness appears several beings such as a unicorn made out of shadows, a bug looking alicorn, a far too familiar Draconequus and a centaur with large horns. Those and the many others from the shadows destroys everything and anypony. Part of her wants to stop it, but the darkness surrounding her gives her the sickly sense of enjoyment watching the world suffers.

"JOIN US ALICORN OF DARKNESS"

"NO!" Luna jerks up, breathing heavily from a far too real nightmare. Looking around for a moment, realizing she is back in her room in Canterlot. She sighs but the fear from the nightmare is still very real. Nightmare Moon is right, even with the darkness cleansed away from her, she can still feel her darker self deep inside. It feels her with dread and fear that she feels more like a ticking time bomb than a reformed princess of the night. For honestly... nothing has changed, the ponies still cower away from her beautiful nights and the common ponies still fear her. So how long until she reaches the edge and turns back into Nightmare moon again?

"Luna?" A softly call behind the door, it opens and Celestia walks carefully inside. "Luna, is everything alright?" She asks her younger sister worried.

Luna wants to speak out her worries, but... "Just a bad dream." What can Celestia do anyway? Force the subjects to love her? Luna doubts that's ever going to happen. And it's not like Celestia can help her deal with the nightmare. She has no power in the dream realm. No, this is something she has to deal with on her own.

"Alright," Celestia muses, she hesitates but walks over and nuzzle her sister. "I'll be here if you ever need to talk." and leaves her sister to her rest. Celestia will be more than happy put her many duties aside if her sister needs a lending ear, that's the least she can do after have exiled her for so long...

The door closes and only then Luna drops the facade that nothing is bothering her. She turns her gaze up to the morning sky, hoping that dream was just a dream. Yet something tells her that dream was more of a vision, a warning of what is coming.

***
(a month later)

Deep inside the Everfree forest, Zecora, a zebra with great wisdom and knowledge of potion making searches the forest floor for a certain herb she needs for her potion. She does stop her search when a noise she has never heard before appears and that's saying something when she spends most her time inside this forest. The zebra looks around for the source but cannot find it, instead the source finds her. A creature made out of metal, standing on two legs and holding a knife over her appears out from nowhere, about to stab the knife into the zebra, but another stops it.

Zecora spins around in shock, first now realizing she had been in grave danger. The black insect creature there have tackled the metal one away lets out a pained hiss when the metal creature stabs the knife into its shoulder before disappearing into a cloud of smoke. The wounded insect horse staggers once before dropping to the ground unconscious.

Zecora hesitates; she knows what the insect horse is: a Changeling. A creature there feeds on love and those it steals it from are often left comatose for weeks. But this one did save her life. Against her better judgment, Zecora walks over to the wounded and now unconscious Changeling and brings it back to her hut.
As she has no wish ending up as this one's next dinner. Zecora wraps a sort of bandage there suppresses pony magic, she can only hope it works on a Changeling as well. After have bound the hole filled hooves she starts treating its wound, the Changeling wakes up not long after.
It struggles against the binds, hissing at her. It is hard because of the blue reflection-less eyes but Zecora thinks she sees fears in them. That is something new.
"Do not quiver, you are quite safe with me my Changeling savior." Zecroa tells the Changeling, nodding down to the bindings. "These bindings are for my safety as someone like you find ponies like me quite tasty."

The Changeling stops struggling, it lowers its gaze, seemly thinking about something.

"I understand yours disincline towards me in your mind," Zecora tells it understanding, very sure she too would not be happy if she found herself in such a situation. She takes a bowl with a potion for disinfection "You will be freed when your wound has been healed. You are far from home where you let yourself get seen."
The Changeling meets her eyes; it takes some willpower not to flinch at those glassy blue eyes.
"Thank you." It says with a smooth male voice, not raspy or high pinch as those few Changelings Zecora has met over the years. This is also the first time a Changeling has thanked her.

"May I be so bold asking what such a beautiful creature like you is called?" He asks with a very charming smile and Zecora can't help but blush of it, even though Changelings aren't beautiful to look at, she must admit this one is handsome compared to the last one she met. Polite as well. "You are a very charming speaker, my name is Zecora my love eating creature." She is feeling way calmer around this one, still not enough to let him free just yet. "And what name may I ask do you proclaim?"

"I am afraid I cannot tell you my real name, my dear. You may call me Spy."

Spy? So this Changeling is an infiltrator? Zecora ponders, but if he is then why did he straight out say it? "Changeling spy out to comply or have defied your queens desires?" She asks him.

"Neither," Spy replies, not sure he should but he has to tell this zebra the truth about his incredible weird situation if he has any wish getting back home. "I am not from around here: this isn't my true form. Before I came here; I looked closer to the one there attacked you. I still do not fully understand how, but that robots and I got transported here after my team's tried to Pyro set it on fire. I found myself in this form and—"

"and now you wish to tell this place goodbye wayward changeling spy?"

Spy nods, but like coming here; he has no idea how to get back home. Perhaps. "Any chance you could offer me assistance for that little mission?" he asks the zebra, realizing he did rhyme a bit.

Zecora gives him a smile, deciding to trust this other world being. He does sound sincere. "Perhaps the princess can help you out of your worldly mess." And lets Spy free from his bindings.
He gives her a curious look "I take they are some kind of horse as well?"
She nods, "Equestria is home to many pony kind, but Changeling is not taken friendly try; keep in mind." Fortunately, his Changeling magic can solve that problem. "If you are true about your friendly intend I will help you use the magic of pony pretend."

He had been hoping this Zecora would bring him right away to this princess, but from what he has gathered, this Changeling species he has been turned into is not the good guys. Figures as he doesn't consider himself a good guy either. He also understands the residents fear if what he has been turned into feeds on love, no matter how stupid that sounds.
Makes him wonder; does that feeding leave the target as a husk? Spy maybe be a man who will kill without a second of hesitating but even he shudders at the thought leaving a victim as a mere husk. And if that's the case then he fully understands why Zecora is wary around him. "I will stay on my best behavior." He promises the zebra, but it would be easier if he didn't feel like starving all the time. "You said I feed on love; how does that work exactly?"

"You steal the love of magic leaving behind a pony filled with tragic," Zecora replies.

Spy feared that was the case, but he has to feed somehow. Only two days of being stuck here and he can already feel his body is breaking down from hunger, he needs food and soon. If not then not even his strong will can stop him from giving to his into the hunger and steal the love as Zecora said.

Seeing the worry on the Changeling's face, it is clear this one hasn't been dealt with this all his life. This is a new problem for him. Zecora chooses to believe this one has indeed been something else and decides to offer him a substitute for the love he needs to survive on. "I can make a potion to keep you fit, however the hunger for real love will always be your conflict."

Better than starving he guess. "It'll have to do."

Zecora nods and starts brewing the potion for her new Changeling companion.

***

(two weeks passed)

The Spy of Reliable Excavation Demolition or RED for short doesn't know why, but he has been feeling tense ever since his clone of the Builder League United or BLU got torched along with the Spy-bot and did not respawn for some crappy reason. It confuses him to no end why he is feeling like this after BLU Spy disappearance, he and his clone- or whatever they are towards one another has never felt any connection to one another or cared for their look alike in that case. They are been hired to kill one another and all the time been hired here, both he and the BLU has been doing just that, no question asked. Well the only one asked was why they looked like one another, but it's not like the ice-cold heart of the Administrator ever going to answer them that.
Speaking of the devil; that woman had demanded they found his look-alike, but none of them has found a clue of what happen. Engineer thought it was a respawn failure, and had put up a few moments of ceasefire with the BLU Engineer so he could ask some questions.
The Texan returned not long after, a deep frown on his forehead. Spy dreads the answer but he much rather wants to know than be in the dark. "What did he tell you?"

"Well, at first he thought Medic had his head captured again like last time." Engineer replies with his soft-spoken voice.

That had been the only time he had ever felt sorry for his counterpart. He is sure Scout had a hand in with that incident for not long after he showed Scout those pictures of what BLU Spy did in his free time with... her. No, he shouldn't think about it and his counterpart was stupid in not ending it sooner. BLU Spy got decapitated not long after that whole mess; kept alive and stuffed into a freezer by his team's Medic. Must've been hell for the BLU Spy; enough that Spy decided to end his suffering. None of them ever mentioned it again but Spy is sure BLU Spy was thankful for the mercy kill. He wonders if Medic have decapitated and taken his head again? Wouldn't surprise him honestly.

"I checked our refrigerators, but didn't find any BLU Spy head." Engineer continues, "I told my clone that. It took a while but I got him to tell me that BLU's respawn says he's alive but out of range."

Not sure that is good news or not, for respawn can pick them up pretty much everywhere in the world. But if it cannot track him then that creates the question. "Any idea where he might be?" Engineer shakes his head. "BLU doesn't know either." the shorter man says. Spy thought that was the case, he wonders where his counterpart ended up and why he is feeling a strange sense of hunger all the time.

Chapter Text

If this situation had been on one of his team members with less self-control Spy is certain that person would be out sucking love out from the locals. This hunger is putting him on edge, but he ensured Zecora that he can control it. He refuses let his Changeling barbaric needs get the better of him. He is a professional after all.

"My dear Spy, I have to leave you for now," Zecora tells to the Changeling there has now been living with her for a while. She has come to trust he is no threat to her or the towns-ponies and thinks it will be safe enough teaching him the Changeling's ability of shape-shifting. It might get him in a better mood to be able to mingle with other ponies; he seems like a very social Changeling.
"When I return do perhaps it's time I teach you the magic your kind have, let you do your discoveries you so much yearn."

Oh, he never gets tired listing to her words, Zecora is a very interesting per- pony. Still needs to get used to that. "I take you finally trusts me." Spy points out to the zebra there has been very generous with her hospitality and share of her wide wisdom of this world he has found himself trapped in.

The zebra smiles back to him. "Indeed, I have resulted you are a pony to be trusted." And she leaves the hut, not worried he will mess up with some of her potions.

And indeed Spy has no wishes in ruin the zebra many wonders of potions. He is glad she has come to trust him, for all the waiting and practically doing nothing is not helping with his always tense mind and worries if he ever can get home. Fortunately, he has so far kept his mind busy from those thoughts by helping Zecora gathering plants she needed to her potions or keeping her hut clean. Those tasks were also a good training for him getting used to having hooves and not hands anymore.
Speaking of getting used to, Spy thinks he should practice his flying with his wings, like rest of this form; are bug-like. They start flapping rapidly, slowly but steadily makes him leave the ground. Spy has first recently gotten the hang of controlling his wings, he can hover and do simple turns but that is about it. So he is going to need more practice with them.
Spy learns forward and speeds up his wings, making him fly forward and at a quicker pace than just a slow hover. He almost crashes into one of the many shelves but gets his steering under control in last second. Spy flies back to the middle of the hut at a slower pace before trying again now he has a better idea how to control his new limbs. This time he doesn't almost crash and can fly relatively normally when Zecora returns.

The zebra smiles up to the airborne Changeling. "Ah, I see you taught yourself the power of flight. That is good, but do come down before you give young Apple Bloom a bigger fright."

Spy notices a young, bright yellow, red mane/tail foal beside the zebra; staring at him with fearful eyes. He lands onto the floor, giving the young filly a polite bow. "No need of fearing me. A friend of dear Zecora will be safe from me." And he is not talking about his hunger for love. He is an assassin and has unfortunately killed children before. Still, he has some very clear rules: one of them that he will not harm a friend's friend unless that person directly tells him to do it. So unless Zecroa one day wants this foal dead, then Apple Bloom here will be safe.

Applebloom hesitates, this black insect-like pony is quite scary but he does sound friendly enough and Zecora seems to trust him. "Um, pleasure all mine." She greets him, not sure if she wishes to shake hoof with him, though. They look freaky with all those holes.

Chuckling at the filly's predicament Zecora heads over to gather some of her ingredients. "Now let's fix up your tooth my young friend of youth. Spy, I could use your help, can you get the bottle on the top shelf?"

Spy nods, flies up and carefully takes the bottle with his hoof. He hands it to the Zebra.

"Where's your Cutiemark?"

Spy turns to the filly, frowning of what Apple Bloom has been asking. "What is a Cutiemark?" He asks this is the first time he hears about it and honestly: it sounds incredibly silly.

"A Changeling does not get Cutiemark my dear Apple Bloom, only you and I will get one in this room." Zecora explains practically both filly and Changeling. She fills up a bowl of her potion and offers it to Apple Bloom. "Now drink down every little drop and this mixture will fix that chip on top."

Apple Bloom drinks the potions and in a matter of seconds, the chipped tooth has been healed. Spy is as always impressed a Zecora's skills of potion making and what wonders it can do. This time he is not alone as Apple Bloom jumps overjoyed over to the zebra. "Oh my star apples, you did it Zecora!" She looks around the hut as if for the first time. "Golly, you have all kind of bottles for all sorts of aliments."

Spy eyes the zebra while the filly checks out the labels on the many bottles. "How often does she visit you?" He wonders out loud.

"In the end, she has been here a few times my friend." Zecora replies him smiling, turning to the filly. "My brews have helped many to tell you the truth." The smile drops when Apple Bloom says while waving her flank. "I bet you could mix up a brew there could fix anything."
Zecora takes a deep breath before she lectures this impatience filly softly. "There are many mixtures in this room, but none that you want my dear Apple Bloom." She leaves the filly to brew up another potion. "A magic potion does not hold the key. For a Cutiemark; time is the only remedy."

Apple Bloom sighs loudly, annoyed being told this again once again. "Fine..." She turns her gaze to the scary looking insect pony there is somehow quite interested in holding a stick on his right hooves. Looking away from the scary looking pony, Apple Bloom watches Zecora put three berries into a bowl and curious heads over to see what she's doing. "What are you going on here?"

"I am brewing up another mix for his rooster and his chicks" Zecora explains and stuffs her head into a rather large pot made out of bamboo, she pulls out a very beautiful flower with its leaves forming like a heart. "It seems the rooster has lost its crow; making mornings very slow."

"Hey, I have seen that flower blooming in Ponyville!" Apple Bloom exclaims excited seeing something she recognizes, but she has no idea what its properties is. "What is it?"

"It is one we call Heart's desires." Zecora explains and shakes the flower the so the smaller leaves fall down into the bowl. "A batch will ignites the Rooster's fire," The rest she lies down into another bowl as this flower is also used for the potion she makes for Spy. "and keep a certain Spy fed from what he truly requires."

Said Changeling eyes the two before he returns back to practice holding objects with only one hoof. He does turn his full attention when Zecora leaves as she has run out of amethyst for the brew. "I must go get this purple flower so the brew will get its full power. Spy could you be the dear and keep Apple Bloom safe in here?" She asks the Changeling.

Spy nods and the zebra leaves. With her gone, he turns his gaze over to the young filly. Noticing she is staring at the Heart's desire flower with eyes he has seen too many times in Scout's eyes. "Whatever you are thinking the plant will accomplice, it won't." He tells her, drops the stick and takes the flower away from the filly, it is still very strange holding stuff in his mouth but he needs his four hooves to walk.

"Huh? I wasn't planning anything." The filly defends herself; she hesitates but does walk over to where the Changeling has put down the flower. "I was just fascinated by what it can do for the rooster." He looks down to her and she cannot stop from flinching away from those pupil missing eyes.

"You are a terrible liar." She pouts which Spy ignores and asks her. "Why do you want a Cutiemark so badly?" For it is clear this young filly really wants it for some reason.

She looks wide-eyed at him in disbelief. "A Cutiemark is everything! It tells somepony about their special talent!" The insect pony blinks and clearly not getting the importance of the Cutiemark. She realizes it's because he cannot get one, not being a pony and all. "I want my Cutiemark now and that flower can get it for me!"

Spy highly doubts the flower can help on that problem. He still doesn't fully understand the meaning behind a Cutiemark and a mark on someone's talent is so important, all he knows is that this filly is desperate enough to try and do something really stupid. Too bad he can't kick the filly out like he would with Scout, guess he has to use his words instead. "Zecora made it very clear that no remedy of hers can give you this Cutiemark— and of course you do not listen." He grumbles when Apple Bloom zips past him, grabs the flower, throws it into the brew and drinks the potion in one mouthful before he can stop her. She gives the not amused Changeling a cheeky grin. Her eyes wide in sheer happiness when a silver mark appears on her flank. "I got my Cutiemark!" She cheers, jumping around the face-hoofing Spy. She stops to give him a smug look, "and you said this wouldn't work."

Now he really hopes this will backfires on her. "Don't come crying when this backfires." He tells her simply and because he did say he would keep this stupid little pony safe. He escorts her through the forest, barely out, Apple Bloom gallops back to the town. "I gotta show my friends! Thanks Mister!"
Spy stares after her, already waiting for disaster to happen for that filly and when it does: he'll sate every moment of it.

He returns back to Zecora and explains the situation of what Apple Bloom has done. Zecora hums about it for a moment. "Hm, Apple Bloom's impatience for Cutiemark will backfire greatly, Spy could you keep an eye on her in case her mistake will get too crazy?" Spy points at his body; clear hint what he is getting at. Zecora chuckles and gestures him over. "Let us use this to our advantages, let me give you Changeling powers a better understanding. Your magic allows you to shape-shift, do it right and nopony will know something is amiss."

Spy is starting to understand why he got this form. This Changeling magic is practically like his disguise kit, instead of a machine, it is some kind of chemistry or magic inside of him. "Do you know how they do it?"

"Not quite but you will do alright." Zecora smiles, pointing at him. "Something tells me you know the stick to this little magic trick. But if it is any help, do try take my form as your first step."

Maybe he should consider this as his disguise kit, only that instead of a bottom he activates this one with his mind. Spy draws up a mental image of Zecora. A moment later, he feels a strange surge and when he opens his eyes, he realizes he looks like Zecora. Well, that was easier than learning how to fly. He wonders if he only can take form after already existing ponies or if he could take form after one he makes up in his mind alone. Using Apple Bloom and Zecora as his base, he draws up a blue adult stallion with his human hair. A surge of his magic and to Spy's huge satisfaction, he realizes he can make up forms on his own. That's better than the disguise kit! He eyes Zecora, finding such delight watching her blush at how he probably would look like if he had been turned into a pony. "How do I look?" He asks and turns around himself so she can get a proper look.

Zecora is not sure he is teasing her or not, whatever the case he sure made up a very handsome form. "You are a very handsome sight," She blushes harder of what she has just said, "t-that didn't come out right..."

Spy smirks of her fluster. "Thank you for the compliment my dear." Bowing down as a true gentleman before turning his gaze to his flank which is at the moment completely blank, he knows he should put something there as having one sounded very important for that filly. But he doesn't think putting on his talent backstabbing people would be a wise choice, for who would want to be near a pony with a knife for a Cutiemark? Eyeing the zebra, "any idea for a mark? Something normal and harmless."

Zecora is happy his question shakes her out from her blushing like some filly gushing over her first crush. "Perhaps a flower there hides your true special power?" She suggests, she is fully aware that this Changeling is not as harmless as he gives out. Being a Changeling and gotten the name Spy should give anypony the hint that this creature is deadly when the situation calls for it. It does come as a bit of a surprise for Zecora that she ever decided to trust him.

There better not come some pony over and asks for his expertise in flowers, for all he knows about flower is which one he should give to women. Spy scan the hut for a flower spots some white roses and in a quick flash of green, those flowers decorate his flank. This form should keep him well hidden among the other ponies, and hopefully he won't discover what will make this disguise break while being in the town. "I will need to practice this skill of mine. When sure I can hold it without problem, I will keep an eye on that kid."
Zecora smiles very satisfies of his answer.

Chapter Text

Spy heads inside town now that he is confident he can keep up his disguised form after a whole night of practice this new and yet old ability of his. Unlike the one he had as human, this Changeling disguise will only break if he loses concentration; which means he has to be in a lot of pain or knocked out before that happens. So in short: he can keep it up way longer than his disguise kit. He is going to have a lot of fun with this ability and it is nice walking among peo- ponies instead of stalking the edge of the forest he was forced to not long ago. He will check out the many shops later, right now: well, he will keep his own promise by watching that foolish filly to Apple Bloom feel the consequences of her action trample over her as more and more Cutiemark forces her to perform different tasks.
The residence of the town gather around for the 'show' as well, however only Spy and a sort of purple lizard find the filly's predicament amusing.

"She's cursed!" A pink mare beside Spy exclaims.
"Hexed!" A white, rose-mane one cries beside her. Spy glances up to the sky, wondering when Apple Bloom would fall from the line she is forced to balance on at the moment, only looking away when another pink and green man mare cries terrified. "Enchanted!" he is about to give these obnoxious mares a piece of his mind, but the purple lizard gets before him, telling them annoyed. "No, she's not!" The three mares sight in relief. "She just has some weird, mysterious disease with no known cure called Cutiepox," he explains them and apparently that is much worse for the second that word Cutiepoz has left the lizard mouth; everyone panic and flee the scene.

Okay, maybe it's about time he get Zecora. This bummer of Apple Bloom must be worse than he thought. Spy leaves town and about ten minutes later, he and the zebra returns to the pretty much ghost town. Zecora notices nopony is in sight and Spy explains her. "The moment they heard she had cutiepox, they fled."

"Ah I see, I jeer these ponies do not see there is no need for such a fear." Zecora scoff to the Changeling there smirks in return, both turn when a purple unicorn with dark purple hair and mane with a pink and light purple stripe calls for Zecora in fright, pointing at the talent forced filly. "Apple Bloom has cutiepox!" Stepping over to the zebra, explaining, "we were just on our way to see if you had a cure."

"But magically you are here." A light orange mare with blond hair says relieved, asking the zebra suddenly very serious. "Was your zebra-sense tingling?"

Zecora steps away from the two young mares. "My zebra sense did not bring me out, instead my newest friend made a shout." Gesturing to Spy there gives the two a graceful bow. "Spy's the name. At your service my ladies." The purple one blushes lightly at this quite handsome stallions demeanor, the orange one brushes it quickly off as she's too worried about Apple Bloom.

"Nice meeting ya Spy, but can we skip the formalities?" She asks, nodding towards her sister there now is forced doing pushups with a weight. "My sister needs help!"

Spy glances to the filly, saying loud enough for her ears to catch. "Oh yes, and hopefully your sister has learned her lesson that patience is better than reckless behavior." Apple Bloom stares at him for a moment, not recognizing his form but his voice. When realizing who he is, she gives him a weak embarrassed smile before a new mark forces her to clean the nearest windows. He and Zecora watch her do it rather amused, both know she sure deserves this small punishment of trying forcing her Cutiemark out before the time is right. However, Zecora thinks it's best quit the fun while they are ahead. "A Cutiepox cure I have in use, for you see the healing power is in the seeds of truth." The zebra picks up three seeds from her saddlebag with her tail.

"Well then, give them to her!" The older sister of Apple Bloom demands incredibly worried about her sister's situation and glares at this blue stallion for finding this funny by smiling of her sister now forced to spin around like a pony tornado.

Zecora can't help but chuckle at this whole situation as well, but she does dig a hole for the seeds "these seeds must be planted in the ground. With the truth, they will grow and the cure is found." She drops them into the hole and returns the earth over them, turning to the two confused mares.

"Come again?" The orange mare asks, eyebrow raise in confusions.

"Someone needs to speak the truth and the plant- there is the cure will grow." Spy explains the two mares, then gives them a wryly smirk. "So you ladies better cough up some of your dark secrets." The purple one chuckles sheepishly, shifting uncomfortably on her hooves. The orange one shoots him a glare. "Why don't you do it?"
"I wouldn't be much of a spy if I can't keep secrets." Spy grins, turning his head to Applebloom who is still spinning around like a pony tornado; it's a wonder she hasn't puked her lunch up yet. Might be cruel from him, but he does have one hell of fun watching that filly getting forced into all these weird talents.

"Well, somepony needs to speak the truth!" The orange mare yells out to the empty streets.

"Yesterday I told Mrs. Cakes I ate two corncakes, but I really ate three!" A pink mare with a fluffy and also pink mane cries out, the purple and orange look expectantly down to the seeds but when nothing happens, they look up to the mare. The pink mare starts to sweat under the pressure she's feeling of the situation. "Okay six! I really ate six!" Still, nothing happens and the pink mare breaks into tears "make it stop! Oh, make it stoop!"

Spy notes himself that if he ever needs to interrogate that pink mare, he simply has to offer her sweets.

About then Apple Bloom got enough. "I can't take it anymore! I admit it! I didn't earn my Cutiemark! They're all fake!" She cries and does stop her tornado spinning, only to be forced to step-dance again.
The small group eyes the small pile there gives a small shake from the truth being spoken by her.
The zebra returns her gaze expectantly to the young filly and Apple Bloom is too tired and afraid to keep up the lie anymore, now she just wants it all to stop. "I figured the Heart's Desire would give me what I wanted the most! And even though Spy warned me, I still took the potion and mixed the rest of the Heart's Desire in it!" Her confession did it, the flower bloomed and before another cutiemark would appear, she ate the flower in one mouthful and to her huge relief: all the marks on her body disappeared.

"Apple Bloom!" Her friends run over, asking if she is alright. Applebloom gets on her hooves. "I'm great, and I have never been happier being a blank flank. But I am awfully sorry I lied..." she apologizes, feeling really bad she treated her friends this badly. "I was so desperate for my cutiemark; I just got carried away..." She walks over to Zecora, "and I am really sorry I stole that flower from you, Zecora." Lowering her head in sadness "I wouldn't blame you if you don't want me to come by again."

"Now Applebloom, do not be silly, you are always welcome my little filly." Zecora lifts the filly's head back up, even though this small theft has been quite annoying. It's far from enough that she does not want to have Applebloom on a visit again."With each mistake; you'll learn something new. Growing up into a better you."

Applebloom smiles up to the zebra, she turns to the somehow now pony looking Spy. He does look less scary like this. "I'll try and listen to your warnings the next time," She promises the Changeling.

Spy touches his chest, grumbling that he has forgotten he does not have his cigarettes anymore. So he decides just to say this to the filly without them. "I'll be sure bringing a snack the next time you get into trouble like this again. your mistake did make an amusing show." She giggles embarrassed. With that, he and Zecora leave the town, and Spy must admit that this day has been very interesting. It did make him forget about his troubles of finding a way back home.

***

The next day and on Zecora's suggestion, Spy heads over to the huge oak tree there is the home of the ruler's student. He did not fancy the thought revealing his secret not being from this world AND being a Changeling, but if it would help him get home sooner, then so be it.
Fortunately, Spy has already gotten Twilight Sparkle here on his good side with Zecora saying he is her friend.
He knocks the door and the lizard- of right Zecora said he is a dragon and his name is Spike. Well, Spike is the one who opens the door.

"You're the pony Zecora spoke about?" The blue earth pony nods and Spike lets him inside, calling for Twilight. Moments later the purple unicorn comes walking down from upstairs.

"Oh hello, Spy. Zecora said you wished to send a letter to the princess?" Again the very handsome looking pony nods and Twilight calls for Spike, trusting Zecora's friend enough for write to Celestia. "Speak what you wish to say and Spike will write it"

Spy shoots the dragon a glance, not entirely sure how to take how easy that went. These ponies are trusting to the point of ridicules. "Perhaps it is best you write it. You see; your ruler might believe your words above mine." Twilight and Spike both give him a confused look. Resisting the urge to face-hoof and groan loudly, Spy warns them. "Do not get frightened. If I meant any harm I would've done it a long time ago." And turns back to his true- well in this world's form. Twilight gasps, while Spike just looks confused.

"You're a Changeling?!"

Only in this world, back home he is a deadly good assassin. "Yes, but as I said: I mean you no harm" Spy reminds her, thinking explaining him not really being a Changeling can wait for just a moment. At least until this unicorn calms down, he can literally sense her fear.

it takes a moment, but Twilight does calm down around this new revealed Changeling there hasn't made any sign of attacking. He must mean his words of not meaning any harm, for why else would he reveal himself with a warning? Okay, she can, for now, give him the benefit of the doubt. "Alright, what do you wish to ask Celestia about?"

Yup, trusting to the point of ridicules. Persuading people to trust him back in the human world could've taken hours or days instead of mere minutes. Spy do wonder why, but he needs to think about that later. "Be ready for a headache young mare. You see, I am not really a Changeling. I was turned into this form when I arrived in this land." Spy images himself as human and to his great satisfaction, his Changeling magic allows him to take that form as well. The unicorn and dragon jump in surprise. "I am supposed to look like this." He explains, putting a hand on his chest. It's strange how his disguises feel like the real deal, but from the sense of strain, it's clear he cannot stay like this for long. "Where I am originally from, this what you see before you are the dominant species."

"That's... a lot to take it," Twilight admits; it's confusing enough she had been standing before a friendly Changeling.
Spike seems to be dealing with this a bit better as he asks this strange two-legged creature with a large frown. "So you are some creature from another world?"

Spy returns back to his pony disguise, "Something like that, my kind are called humans."

"Cool!" Spike grins, thinking maybe those comic books were onto something. And that makes them twice as awesome.
Twilight in the other hand does not look sure how to react on this.

Spy does not blame her, he is in the situation but he still doesn't fully believe it. "Now you know, I would like if you wrote your wording on what I have told you and request your ruler's help in looking into if there is any way for me getting home."

"I- alright." Twilight nods as she is unsure Spike can write half what she wishes to say. She decides to write this letter on her own. In the letter, she explains Celestia that a very strange pony- or rather a Changeling- there's not really a Changeling but some two-legged creature calling himself a human. She ensures the Princess that Spy does seems friendly, although there is something about him there makes her uncomfortable; perhaps because he is not only a Changeling but some creature she has never seen or heard about before now. She writes that she has decided to give him the benefit of the doubt since Zecora has made it clear she trusts him and she trusts the zebra's judgment.
She finishes the letter explaining that Spy would very much like getting home and hoping perhaps she could help. With the letter written, she levitates it over to Spike who sends it off with a burst of his green flames. "There," Eyeing this very strange creature- or human. "now we simply have to wait for the reply."
They didn't have to wait long as Spike belch out a burst of flames there turns into a letter. Twilight levitates it over, reads it quickly and is rather surprised of what the Princess wishes. "The princess will come in a few hours, she requests you stay here." The Changeling there simply nods.

When Celestia arrives, Twilight and Spike leave by Celestia's request, letting the Changeling and ruler of Equestria can speak in private.
Spy is quite taken aback standing before such a tall and radiant pony, wanting to show his best side. Spy bows down before the white alicorn.

"Raise my foreign visitor."

He does, meeting Celestia's old, wise, and yet still filled with the joy of youth eyes. The alicorn seemly looks him over as if trying to figure out who or what she is dealing with.
"Twilight wrote in her letter you are not from this world, is that correct?"
"Yes, I am from a world where humans—" Spy takes his human form for a moment before the strain forces him to drop his disguises altogether. Alright, one other thing he needs to be aware of: his shape-shifter magic can get drained, faster if taking bigger forms. "-are the dominant species."

Celestia nods in understanding, asking with her calm soothing voice. "I understand why you wish to return home. Nopony wants being stuck in some foreign place; unable see their loved ones. Unfortunately..." she closes her eyes, getting a very regrettable expression on her face. "I do not know any magic leading to other worlds."

Spy feared that would be his answer, he has to resist letting out a hiss of his looming frustrations. "So I am stuck here forever?"

Celestia can see this truly brings this... human distress and knows from decades of watching her sister trapped on the moon how hard it is not being able to see somepony with all their heart. She is sure that is how this foreigner feels right now, after all; he is far away from everything he knows and cares about. "I will search for any clues there might bring a way home for you. Until then, I am afraid you have to get the best out from your time here in Ponyville."

Spy snorts lightly, but not out of anger, more from the irony of a murder like him end up in this trusting place. "It's not like I can complain, the people I have met so far have been very kind to me." He could've ended up in some hellhole, sure he would deserve that better but Spy must admit it is... nice being treated like a- well a normal person. But he would like do something, doing nothing is not helping on his mental state at all.
"If I may be so bold." Turning his glassy blue eyes up to the princess. "Where I am from I was a highly skilled infiltrator. If you promise to search for a way of returning me back to my world; I will work for you as your personal informer." It's not like he is breaking the contract back in the human world anyway.

This takes Celestia a bit off guard, she honestly did not expect he would be willing to work for her. Tilting her head slightly, "May I asks why you offer yourself like this?"

"I am not used to idle." Spy replies, again forgetting he does not have his cigarette. He really would like one right now but this world doesn't have such things. "I need do something before I losses my sanity."

She can understand that, and although Celestia is hesitant making this Changeling work for her. She is willing to give him a chance."I will see if there is something of your caliber can do. If there is something I will call for your aid and keep you updated through this." She conjures a mirror and levitates it down to the Changeling, she notices he both looks quite surprised and relieved at the same time. Like he didn't expect she would want to hire him. The spy pony does quickly recover and bows his head in respect. She smiles, yet has to warn him as Equestria doesn't have much need for espionage as much his world probably needs. "Fair warning my little spy. I have only rare times needed an espionage, so there will be days where you have to figure out what to do on your own."

Spy figured as much. What he has gathered about Equestria, this land is literally sunshine and rainbow... good god he has ended in Pyro's hallucinating world, except this is real. Keeping his thoughts behind his calm facade, Spy nods to the ruler of this land that he understands. With their agreement settled. Celestia takes her leave.
Not long after Twilight and Spike walk back inside with Twilight asking curiously. "So, did she have a way taking you home?"
He shakes his head, adding. "But she will read up on it." Thinking there is no need telling the unicorn the other agreement he came up with the ruler. After all, he is a spy and a professional. Speaking of professional. He really needs to make a better disguise to hide his Changeling form.

Chapter Text

Returning back to Zecora after a trip through the town, Spy has come across some very interesting news of what's going to happen tonight. "What do you say about Metour showers?" He asks the zebra when stepping inside the hut.

"I hear you have heard about the night of meteor shower," Zecora says, returning a bottle back onto its spot, giving her guest a smile. "I do consider giving it a watch throughout the later hours." After all, such a phenomenon is quite the rare sight.

Spy smiles, he was hoping she would say that "Wonderful," and reveals her the basket with snacks he bought underneath his wings. Giving the baffled zebra a smirk. "Perhaps I did the right choice buying the last oatcakes, I hear they are your favorites." His smirk grows larger when Zecora's cheeks turns into the shade of pink. Even if she had said she wouldn't go, he doubts she would say no with this little lure. Sometimes it's so good being a spy.

"Spy you are such a rascal, but I am glad you went through all the hassle," Zecora says and gives the now pegasi with a dark blue, mysterious vision of the poison joke as cutiemark Spy a nuzzle over the cheek.

He smiles down at her. "It was nothing mon cher." He knows he shouldn't do it, but Zecora is attaching him like a moth to the flame. Part of him wishes that he still was together with Saffifir but that night his RED counterpart got pictures from would be their last. When he got back from the incident with the RED Medic, he and his former sweetheart decided to end their relationship. Mostly so she would stay safe from his enemies; the worst of them being the Administrator there for some reason hated everything good in the world. Part of him wishes he could use her as an excuse to stop this, as he is a man who would never betrays someone he truly cares about. But there isn't and trying tells his mind that this is wrong doesn't really help either since he does have an equine body at the moment.
He really likes Zecora and from how she is around him, how he can feel and gets sustained by the love she gives him. He knows she feels the same thing. Spy dares to steal a kiss from the zebra, it takes her by surprise but before he can fear he made the wrong move. Zecora returns it.
The moment is however short though, he reminds himself that he does not belong here and she that he won't stay in this world for long. The two steps away, embarrassed they let the moment capture them.
Spy smirks weakly to the zebra. "I have a feeling tonight it will get harder."

She nods in agreement, standing beside a handsome stallion under the nightly sky and watching the wonders of a meteor shower: that's the recipe for romantic and Zecora has a feeling they will both fall for that trap and hard. That thought makes her cheek feels very hot, which both bothers and excites her.
Like Spy, she knows he won't stay here for long but do hope he will so she can have him just a bit longer. "Let us not worry about the future, you will find a way home when time calls so for now—"

"time to woo her." Spy finishes the sentence with a grin, Zecora's cheek turns almost brightly red.

"Not what I had in mind but I do like the idea of what you incline."

"So do I." Spy coos, nuzzling his head through her mane that smells like a flower he cannot name but really likes. He tries not to think about it, but he is starting to consider just put the search of getting home to a rest. For really? What is it he wants to go back for? He dosesn't have anyone waiting for him and he could honestly care less about the war games. And his fellow teammate? He doubts they miss him, it's not he was friends with any of them.

 

(later that evening)

When the moon raises onto the sky, Zecora and Spy pack a blanket and the oatcakes, heading towards a hill closely side by side. Up on the hill, they find many other ponies, all have come to see the nightly show as well.
Zecora eyes the area filled with ponies, she recognizes a certain group but does not feel up joining them. Tonight she wishes to be with Spy. "I feel the spot on top has too many, let us find a place with less than twenty." She suggests. Spy simply smiles, they move a bit further down and find a lonely spot. Here put down their stuff and just as the shower starts, the zebra rests her head against his neck.

Spy wraps his bird looking wing over her shoulder and is probably busier seeing the wonder in her than the one happening onto the sky. He does turn his gaze to the sky, wondering if he really should try to find a way home or just accept it this is now his home. It's sort of scary how easy this dilemma is, but he does force himself to think about both his options.

***

The next day, Spy has come to a step closer to that internal dilemma. The logistic mind of his keeps telling him to find a way back but his heart disagrees with the very good argument: there are ponies here there cares about him. But this is wrong, his mind argues. Someone like him shouldn't deserve happiness this world offers him on a silver plate.
His thoughts about his situation do get set on mortality stop when he notices that dragon to Spike is skulking around, dressed up in a black cape and top-hat, even acting like some cliché villain from how he holds the cape before his face. Spy cannot help but stare at that scene and- not sure why but he feels quite offended by it.
(in the human world; the RED Spy looks around, feeling as if someone has just offended him greatly but cannot find any source for it.)
Spy watches the clearly not to no good Spike trots through the town, towards what Spy presume is a clothing store and one he yet have checked out. Spy decides to follow the villain acting Spike. The young dragon sneaks into the shop when the owner; a white coated with silky, curly purple hair of a unicorn leaves with her cat. Spy transforms into a young colt he spotted the day before and follows the dragon into the clothing store.

Inside he finds Spike holding up the cat's toy mouse with the dragon trying to monolog but only ends up spewing out his plans. "-and when Twilight finds it shredded on the floor; she think mouse eating Owlowiscious is to blame. And I'll be number one... again." About there the dragon notices a light brown colt stare at him with a 'you gotta be joking' look in his vermillion eyes. Spike gives this extremely serious foal a weak smile, embarrassed he got caught in the act and looked down at a kid younger than him. Hold up, this foal is younger than him, so why should he feel bad? He returns the stare, asking. "What are you doing in here?"
"I could ask you the same thing." The foal replies and to Spike's shock, he turns into the Changeling. The dragon jumps. "Spy?" He asks startled. Can that pony turn into anyone?? That's freaky!

Spy eyes the toy mouse in the dragon's claws. "May I asks why you are using a toy mouse for your plan? Using a real mouse would be more effective."

"Huh?" Spike blinks and eyes the mouse, it takes him a moment to realize what the shape-shifter is hinting at. "No way! I'm not hurting a real mouse for this!" and hurries out, hoping to leave the Changeling behind, but just to his luck, the now again foal shaped Spy follows him with the mocking remark. "A villain with a heart, how touching."
Spike shoots the disguised Changeling a glare which Spy completely ignores.

"You won't be fooling anyone with that toy. And drop the villain disguise; it's an insult to a true schemer."

Giving his disguise a quick glance, for a moment confused what the shape-shifter meant. Hold up, so this guy knows how to be a villain? "You used to be a bad guy?" Spy gives him a smug look, Spike decides to take that as a yes. "But you're a good guy now?"

He won't call himself a good guy, simply a bad guy knowing when it's time playing on the good side. Of course, Spy won't tell this kid that and instead says. "Correct."

Oh, that's good. Hey, perhaps this former bad guy can help him with his problem. "Have you ever tried someone replacing you?"

"Yes, several times in fact." Spy replies, thinking on the many assassins trying to kill him over his years in this professions, all of them failed of course.

"How did you avoid that?"

"I killed them."

Spike stop dead in his track, staring in disbelief but also a bit fearfully at this shapeshifter pony- "you... you have killed somepony?"

"I haven't killed any ponies." Spy replies calmly and smoothly as if talking about the weather. After all, for him; killing people is part of the daily grind. Granted those he has been killing lately were all working for Mann Co and would come back to life about ten minutes later. "But I have killed humans, it was what I was hired for." He turns back to the now wary dragon. "If you want my opinion on your rival issue: if you cannot kill them; blackmail them. You can start by finding yourself a better mouse substitute, make sure you don't leave any tracks behind and be sure you have an alibi when the trap is set."

Spike is split between refusing Spy's helpful suggestions or thanking him. Before he can settle on either, the Changeling is gone. Spike cast the toy mouse a glance, now that he looks properly at it, he must admit it doesn't look like a real mouse. He drops it and heads to the joke shop if he remembers correctly that place has some rubber animals. The shop does have rubber mice, he buys one and hastes back to the Golden Oak Library to make out the plan. Back at the library, and when sure Twilight is out. Spike takes out the rubber mouse his claws to tear holes into it before throwing it onto the floor. he stalks villain like over the refrigerator where he pulls out a bottle of ketchup and carefully pours the content over the rubber mouse, making sure he won't step on it. As the last touch, he grabs Twilight's pillow, spreading out the feathers around the area before hastily taking his leave to make that alibi. The first pony there comes to his mind is Rarity and finding her will be easy as he did hear where she was going. So he heads to Fluttershy's cottage to hang out with the two, thinking that if this works: then he has to thank Spy for this brilliant plan.
At evening Spike returns back to the library, gleeful that the owl no longer will be around. But to his great horror, Owlowiscious is still there, resting on Twilight's writing desk while Twilight herself cleans up the mess of the trap. Spike makes a fake gasp of the sight. "Oh that poor mouse..." to then point judging at the owl. "How could you?"

'Who' Owlowiscious hoots, Spike is about to get into that one-sided argument with the owl, Twilight stops it before it starts.
"Spike, don't blame Owlowiscious for following his nature. Owl's hunt mice and I should've expected this to happen."

What? She just accepts it? Spike is dumbstruck. "But- but-"

Twilight gives Spike a look, wondering if he is taking it this bad because it's the first time he has seen an animal hunt another. "Don't worry, I'll make sure he won't take his prey back inside again." She ensures the baby dragon with a smile.

But Spike is more annoyed that she didn't kick out the bird for this, he worked so hard on this plan...

(next day)

Spike heads to Zecora's hut to find Spy and asks him to help get rid of that owl. As hoped he finds the Changeling at Zecora. "Spy, I need your help. The plan didn't work!" He calls into the hut.

The sudden barging in startles Spy out from his disguise, much to Zecora's amusement. annoyed the Changeling shoot the dragon a glare, Spike chuckle sheepishly up to him.
"Um sorry?"
Spy rolls his eyes and returns back to his pegasi disguise, and brushing the fur on his chest, he asks the dragon. "What do seems to be the problem?"

"The rubber mouse worked- I mean it didn't. Twilight thought the mouse was real and all, but she didn't throw that owl out." Spike explains, hoping the Changeling would come up with a new brilliant plan. But all he got from that one is a raised brow.

Zecora chuckles lightly at the young dragons problem. "My young dragon, you're letting yourself get controlled by jealousy, it is messing up your sense of morality."
Spy nods in agreement, for even he can see there is really no point in getting worked up by Twilight having an owl around.

Spike do. "But Owlowiscious is taking my spot as her Number 1 assistance! I'm getting replaced by an owl!" He cries and the mere thought of getting replaced terrifies him.

"You will not get replaced," Zecora puts friendly a hoof on the young dragon's shoulder. "if do not believe me, asks Twilight and she will tell your fear has been misplaced."

"How long has she had that owl?" Spy asks, starting to see a picture of what is going on. "About two days now," Spike replies quietly.
Ah yes, Spy has seen this behavior before. BLU Scout got quite upset when Soldier had to pay those disgusting raccoon more attention than sparring with the speedster. Silly boy tried to blow them up at some point. Maybe it was a good thing Scout has always been terrible at planning. Too bad Engineer is not around, it would save him from playing the voice of reason which he is just as terrible at as Scout as at keeping quiet. "It's not the world's doom she has gotten herself a pet." He tells the dragon, adding with a sigh from the look Zecora gives him. "Talk with her, tell it bothers you." and sends the zebra a 'there, happy now' look

Highly amused by Spy's bit childish behavior, Zecora nods in agreement with the Changeling and tells Spike. "Only with the truth, you can put down this dispute."

Spike lets out a long sigh, he guesses he should talk with Twilight about his feelings... "Alright..." and leaves the hut. He returns back to the library and barely three steps inside, Twilight says. "Oh good timing Spike, I could need some assistance in the—"
"Um Twilight, can we talk?" Spike interrupts her, wringing his tail in discomfort.

Twilight blinks but can see this is important. "Of course, what do you need to speak with me about?"

"Um... it's about Owlowiscious..."

"What about him?" She asks, eyebrow slightly raised. She has taken notice Spike has gotten quite... well huffy around the owl, but she merely thought it was because Spike was so tired all the time.

Zecora and Spy better have been right about this... "Is.. Is he taking my place as your number 1 assistance?" He asks, ignoring the owl turning around to look at him. He wants but cannot meet Twilight eyes. "Because... beacause I am feeling like I'm not important anymore..."

So thatøs what has been bothering him. Twilight feels bad she hasn't realized that him feeling left out has been the cause of his huffy behavior. It seems he hasn't realized that no one can ever replace him. "Oh Spike." Twilight walks over to him and pulls him into a small hug. "I never meant for you feeling this way. It's just—" eyeing the owl sitting on the stand beside her writing desk. "Sometimes I need some help at night." Turning back to Spike, Twilight gently lifts his head by the chin. "I can't ask you to stay up late; you're a baby dragon and you need your rest. You see, owls are nocturnal; so I asked Owlowiscious to help, but not to take your place." She explains Spike, glad to see he is looking less worried now. She nuzzles his head with her hoof. "No one can take your place; you're my Number 1 assistance after all."

And that is what Spike needed to hear, he smiles up to her, happy Zecora and Spy managed to persuade him taking this up with Twilight. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have let my jealousy get the better of me."

Twilight beams, her eyes light up from the idea striking her. "Say Spike, would you like write to Princess Celestia about what you have learned today?"

"Really?" Spike asks ecstatic of been allowing this. "Wow, that's a big responsibility!"

"I know," Twilight smiles, "but nothing my Number 1 assistance can't handle."

Excited and happy, Spike starts to write. 'Dear Princess Celestia. This is Spike writing to you about something important I learned this week. I learned that being jealous and telling lies will get you no-where in friendship. I also learned that if feeling such emotions, it is best telling your friends about and get it solved before things get out of hoof. Without Zecora and the Changeling Spy voices of reason, I might never have learned this important lesson and tell you about it. '
After have sealed the letter, Spike sends it to the princess. When Celestia will get the letter, she will smile and the fear of have let Spy live among her subject decreases and learning further towards the feelings she might trust him more in the future.

Chapter Text

the human world at the base of Badlands:

Another day, another game of who could kill most of the other team, that and the few times they get swarmed by robots there mysteriously looks like them.
RED Demoman is perhaps one the few of the mercenaries who do not fight this war for the money but because he prefers being part of something instead, alright maybe his BLU counterpart too has that line of thought. For he sure does not who of them are the real deal; none of them do. But the fact is, as long he can get his booze and the materials for his explosives, then he is fine with his current situation.

Friendships, on the other hand, cannot be bought, that has to be earned.

Speaking of friendships, it still hurts he and once his best friend, the BLU Soldier has been forced to fight against one another. Just because that heartless bitch to the Administrator apparently is allergic to friendships, it wasn't like either let their friendship influenced their job. Didn't matter for her, though. At first Demo was offered great weapons in return he would end the friendship. He refused, no matter how wonderful those weapons were he wouldn't betray his best pal for a piece of tool. What he heard from Spy, Solly had refused in the first round as well, apparently, he would rather die than betray him after the Administrator had threatened to kill him. That warms his heart knowing. But if there is something about the Administrator, that she is smart and heartless. That she showed when she threated death of Demo's old, blind mother and from what he has gathered from Solly: She made him believe that Demo called him as a civilian and that is one thing Demo here would never call his crazy friend. Solly is a insane but good man. So calling him something Solly find so offending, he would never do. Demoman has more than once thought about if he should tell BLU Soldier this and straighten things out between them once again. He would if it wasn't for the fact that a certain heartless bitch holds a knife over his mother's life. He just can't risk it... "Move it Cyclops!" RED Scout calls and runs past with baseball bat raised, reminding Demo that he is still in the war games. Another day, another fight with his best pal... "It would be so much funnier without this shit..." Demo sighs and runs out to kill a bunch of BLUs and probably get into a senseless fight with Solly again.
And so right he was. At one of the checkpoints of this game, Demo stands face to face with Solly. And like ever since they 'ended' their friendship the two attacks one another with a ferocity of the frustrations and anger they feel against the other and themselves of this situation they are stuck in until this senseless war end and who knows how long it will last.

"Die you twirl-swirling drunk!" Soldier roars and swings his trusty shovel down to Demo's head, the Scotsman saves himself through a trip from the respawn by blocking the attack with the same sword he got in agreement to end their friendship_ the Eyelander. At times he does wonder if this possessed sword really was worth it. he loves this sword to bits, but if he could get Soldier's friendship back in trade for it, he would've done it- although he would hesitate for he has gotten quite good pals with the spirit inside the sword.
He kicks Soldier away but does regret that action right away when Solider pulls out his bazooka. Well, might as well take Solly down with him. with a loud battlecry, Demo charges in to chop his friend's head off just as Soldier fires a rocket at him. The explosion from the rocket is bigger and steam up a lot more fire than Demo remembers.

Suddenly the ground beneath them disappears, making both drop down from the sky and crash right on top on some sweet little house. Fortunately the landing is soften by the thatched roof. "Ey, what just happen?" Demo asks dumbfounded, one moment he and Solly were trying to kill one another, the next he is lying on a house there looks like it belongs to a sweet village and something. Not a house typical found around their area of the war games. Looking around Demo notices something incredibly strange "ponies... colorful ponies, must be drunk" he muses, putting his hoof up to his head- wait hoof?! Demo stares at what not long ago had been his hands, now a cedar colored horse hoof. "Bloody hell!" He turns to Soldier and realizes he too has been turned into a colorful pony, except he is olive green with greyish yellow and short hair. He still wears his helmet, hiding most of his face, yet Demo can see Soldier has gotten a white stripe down his muzzle and only left of his clothing is the blue colored uniform. Soldier stares several seconds at his hooves before he demands annoyed; "Marasmus! You better turn us right back unless you want me to kick your ass so hard you throw up your spine!" However no crazy wizard appears. "Marasmus!"

"I don't know anypony with that name," A grey winged mare with blond mane with a cross-eyed look says, flying carefully over to them. The two turned humans turn to her, split between being dumbfounded or just accept that the horses apparently can talk in this place. She doesn't seem to notices this and continues. "But I can ask around if you like."

"Ehm, thanks lassie." Demo thanks her, wondering if he's too drunk or not drunk enough for this weird situation. He decides he will get a drink later, sure hell needs it with this weird shit going on. "Could you perhaps tell us where we are? We're not exactly from around here." He asks the mare, very certain they are not in their world anymore.

Soldier nods in agreement, his mind has already gotten used to that he is talking to a winged pony. "My roommate threw us into a portal. Must've forgotten to pay the rent again." He grins and the grey pony giggles in return.

"That wasn't very nice of him."

"I'll be sure to kick his ass for it when I see him again."

She opens her mouth but Demo stops her, reminding the mare of his first question. She giggles sheepishly that she forgot. "Whoops, my bad. You are in Ponyville."
"Ponyville?" Demo asks and not sure how to feel that he was correct about them not being in their world anymore. Well, better look around and see if there is someone who can help them back. "We got further away than expected."

"Ponyville doesn't sound like an American name." Soldier points out, the mare gives him a confused look. Demo eyes the now olive green and also winged Soldier. He knows it's just asking for trouble telling his friend they aren't in America anymore. "It is, it's simply a shorten vision for pony village." Soldier takes that as a good enough explanation, with that crisis evaded, Demo turns back to the grey mare. "Any chance you know someone who knows about portals?"

"Perhaps Twilight Sparkle does." The mare muses and tells the two she is more than happy leading them there. "But let's first get you down- oh, I completely forgot," she gives the two a sweet smile. "I'm Derpy Hooves, nice to meet you."

"I'm Demo and this is Solider." Demo introduce both of them to this talking pony. Soldier salutes, hitting himself over the head with his own hoof, Derpy giggles at that.
It took less time than thought, for the moment Soldier got aware of his wings when Derpy pointed out he had them; Soldier threw himself off the roof without flapping his wings and landed face first onto the ground. Derpy did seem to find this whole ordeal very amusing, not at all confused why a pegasi did not know how to fly. After having made sure Soldier is alright, Derpy helps Demo climbing down.

When finally down from the roof, Derpy leads them through the pony infested village. under the helmet, Soldier frowns of the many colorful ponies walking around them. "This is a camp filled with hippies and—" he shudder "civilians." And gets struck by a dread but also anger that the man- who currently is a pony called him that horrible word. "To you notice; I am not a civilian Tavish! And I will break your neck if you call me it ever again!" Derpy and several other ponies send him a worried glance. Taking Demoman more off guard when Soldier suddenly asks him incredibly distressed. "You really don't think I'm a civilian, do you?"

His tone and body posture of unease almost makes Demo say the truth about this whole mess, but the thought about his mother stops him. He hates doing it, but unlike Solly, his mother cannot defend herself. "... I do." He muses weakly, it stings lying like this, especially to his best pal.
Soldier freezes up for a moment, then drops his head with a deep growl. There will be a dead-match between them later, Demo just knows it.

"Everything alright?" Derpy asks worriedly.

"Everything's fine lass." Demo brushes her off, there's no need dragging a real civilian into this mess.
The grey mare hesitates, looking as if she wishes to say something but to Demo's relief, she lets the subject drop and trots over to a huge oak tree and from the looks of it with the door, windows and a balcony, it seems like someone is living in there.
Derpy knocks on the door and moments later, a purple unicorn steps out, giving the grey Pegasus a confused look. Derpy smiles to her. "Hello Twilight, I found these two strange ponies on top of my home." Twilight turns to the two stallions, and like those walking past them: can sense some sort of tension between them. Her eyes return to the cross-eyed mare as Derpy continues. "They said they come someplace far away and asked if somepony knew about portal magic. And since you're the best unicorn I know there can do magic—"

"You came to me." Twilight smiles weakly, she is happy of the other pony's confident in her magical skills but even though her friends said they wouldn't stop being her friend because her magic skills are better than most. Twilight still says she has a lot to learn and there are ponies out there better than her. But she will try and help these two newcomers... after Spike's birthday. "You did come at a busy time for me. But I promise I will help you the best I can after this party, alright?"

"Yeah! It's my birthday!" Spike cheers, appearing beside her with a huge smile on his face.

Demo and Soldier stare at the small dragon for a moment, Demo this time is the first to recover and asks a bit hesitant. "You don't happen be a dragon, eh lad?"

"Yup! I'm Spike." Spike introduces himself, blinking when this brown stallion suddenly gives the green one with the helmet an almost smug look. The one with the helmet snorts loudly. "We're not friends anymore, so it doesn't count." The brown stallion lowers his gaze, disappointed in this.

Twilight feels sorry for the one-eyed brown pony, the green one as well. "You used to be friends?"

"Ay, but certain circumstances put a cog into that." Demoman explains this female pony, it's quite the pity for Soldier would've owned him a very special whiskey for this lost bet.
Soldier only grumbles, seemly split between something but Demo is not sure what. Brushing that thought aside, he turns his eye down to the soon to be birthday dragon. "Don' worry about us, enjoy your birthday dragon-boy."
Spike beams at that.
Turning his eye to the purple mare as she says apologetic. "I'll sure help you out the moment this party is over. Come by tomorrow and we will talk about your location issue." Demo nods and leaves along with the still grumpy Soldier.
Derpy flies over to them. "If you like, I can show you a nice hotel you can stay in." That is a nice gesture, but "we don't have any money." He tells this Derpy.

"I don't need a flimsy hotel!" Soldier declares loudly, making several ponies stop. "I have slept in the mud with bullets flying over me, and I sure hell can do it again you hippie ponies!" and those several ponies frown of being called a hippie but are wise enough not confronting this muscular and loud Pegasus pony.

Demo simply rolls his eye, but Soldier does have a point of them having to sleep outside. "Thanks for your help, lassie" He thanks the mare and drags Soldier away before his once friend would attack what he presumes is a male horse with a very long mane is giving them a dirty look for being called a hippie.

Derpy watches the two leave, even though she do not know them much and they are a bit scary, she still feels they don't mean any harm and would like to help them with their house problem. She flies off to find a way solving this problem- didn't see the pole and hits it. She giggles embarrassed of the bummer and when sure she won't hit it again, flies off.
She almost hits a house when a male pony suddenly speaks where she is passing. "Now didn't those two look familiar." Derpy turns around, spotting that handsome blue pegasi there often hangs around Zecora. "Oh hey, um... " what was his name again?

"Spy"

"Spy," She smiles and lands before him with the question: "Do you know those two?"

Spy sure did, even though he could do without Soldier and from how he and who Spy presumes is Demoman with that missing eye and pelt color, he is certain that Demoman is the RED one from how tense the two are around one another. it's only a matter of time before they try and kill one another. Just what he needed...
"Yes, I know them." He answers the cross-eyed mare smoothly and asks. "What did you speak with them about my adorable bubble of joy?"

Derpy blushes lightly, yet unlike most mares in this town; she isn't that interested in his flirting.
Spy is handsome and sweet in his own way, Derpy admits that, but she would like her special somepony to be a bit more, well funny. But she wouldn't mind having this one as a friend. "The one named Soldier's room-mate teleported them here. They don't know how far off they have been taken and asked Twilight if she could help-"

If Demoman is smarter than his buffoon attitude inclines out in the war games, then Spy is certain that the Scot has realized they aren't in their world anymore. Soldier, on the other hand, would practically believe anything people- or ponies told him. Maybe it was a good thing those two got transported here together, for sure hell he can't keep Soldier in check on his own.

"Twilight did promise to help, but first after Spike's birthday- that reminds me: I should bring him a present." Derpy reminds herself. Spy gives her a small frown, of why she is not sure and decides to ignore it. "Anyway, since you know them. Perhaps you can help them find a place to sleep?"

It will be best finding them a place to live as long they are stuck here. Celestia has found some suggestions on what might have brought him and now the two others here, but none of them holds a solid clue how they got here. This means they will be here for quite a while. Being stuck here for two months and come to the small conclusion he won't mind living here. Well, the search for a clue getting back home has become more of an afterthought. he is really enjoying the friendliness of the ponies, oh and weird things happen all the time. Halloween in the war games or that crazy wizard got nothing on this place's daily life. Anyway, back to the question in hand, Soldier and Demoman need places to rest. No way in hell he will ask Zecora about letting those two morons stay with her. They will destroy all her remedies with their trigger/explosive happy personalities and he does not want to expose her to such a headache in form of those two. No those two needs to stay with someone else. His eyes land on Derpy, she seems to have gotten attached to Demo and Soldier, perhaps enough she will open her door for one of them? "I do not think Zecora can house more than me. So I will have to ask somepony else." He gives her a sweet smile, "any chance you can house one of them?"

Derpy ponders about it for a moment. "I do have a spare room, but I am worried how Dinky will take it." She points out.

Oh yes, if he remembers correctly, this mare has gone through a rather messy divorce with some unicorn about a month ago. he must give Derpy credit staying this strong for her foal. Whoever Derpy will house has to be very respectfully around this small family, which Spy somehow doubts either Soldier or Demo knows the word of.
"I will take it up with them that your foal comes first."

"Thank you, but I can only house one."

Which means he has to asks around for a second room. "I'll got that covered." She nods and flies off. Spy starts leaving the other way, pondering who he could ask for this second room to house a pretty much trigger-happy mercenary. Whoever it is, Demo and Soldier need to be aware that this is not the war games and they have to stay on their best behavior AND not kill anyone!
Spy decides to meet up with the two before searching for a living quarter, he finds them just in time as they have gotten into a fist- no a hoof fight with one another. Over what, Spy doesn't care.
"I find it fair warning you two idiots that respawn does not work in this place," He tells the two, walking calmly over to them.
Soldier stares at him while still holding Demo in a headlock for about three seconds. Then he lets go, much to Spy surprise. There must still be sparks of comradely between them it seems.

"Didn't need your help, you know.." Demo grumbles, getting back on his hooves. He could handle Soldier just fine, but it is good Spy warned them both. if they kill one another now then the dead one stays dead. Even though there is a lot of aggressively between him and Solider, Demo doesn't want his pal permanently dead.

Soldier might not like RED Demoman anymore but... Tavish was once a friend, and former friends should only kill one another if they can come back again from life. So he won't kill Demoman as long they are here.
Turning to the pony there sounds very much like Spy, it takes him a moment but if looking past the pony form. This is indeed the BLU Spy
"Spy! I knew you wouldn't go AWOL!" He cheers and claps the blue Pegasus over the shoulder, enough that he accidentally activates another disguise. That disguise looks weird with him being black and insect-like.
Spy do quickly remove it, shooting him a glare.

"What was that?" Demo asks surprised seeing Spy take such a strange form when Soldier clapped him over the shoulder.

Not sure if he should be happy or disgusted that Soldier showed genuine friendship towards him. It took Spy so much off guard getting literally fed with those emotions that he lost control over his disguise. He shakes his head over the sudden surge and tells the RED. "This world turned me into a shape-shifter." Not wanting to say that what he has been turned into feeds on emotions- preferably love, he would like to keep his head.

"What can you tell us about our forms?" Demo asks.

Eyeing the two and their new features. "Soldier, you have been turned into a Pegasi. They have the ability controlling the weather and walk on clouds. Demoman, you are a unicorn. You can levitate objects and do certain magic with that horn of yours." Demo puts his hoof up to his forehead, first now realizing he has one.

"Bloody hell, Pyro better not see me like this." But he would be happy if that firebug didn't set him on fire for once. He eyes the BLU Spy, first now realizing he is stuck with two BLU's, not to mention he has no weapon to defend himself and there aren't any respawn either. "What about a truce until we get back?"

"Agree," Spy nods, he would prefer that as they will be busy enough trying finding a way home to worry about the war games. "That part might take longer than any of us would like, so you two have to find a place to live."

Soldier snorts. "We won't die sleeping outside for a couple of days."

"I have been stuck here for almost three months—" Spy admits that he has been very relaxed on the search but he needs to pick up the pace now with these two around. "—and I still haven't found a clue how I got here or how to get back" He points out, the two stare at him in disbelief. He flicker his wings before continuing. "I spoke with the mare Derpy, she has agreed she can house one of you. Whoever it is though has to pay in mind for her child." Soldier and Demoman send each other an uncomfortable glance, neither are used to be around kids. Spy will let them figure who will go there on their own. "I will ask around for a second place. It might take a while, but it will be easier if the two of you stay on your best behavior." And he leaves the two in order to find a second place to sleep for either of them.
it took him a few hours, but Spy managed to track down a pony having and willing to share a room with either Demo or Soldier. And that is at Sugarcube Corner.
"I thank you for such hospitality." He thanks Mr. and Mrs. Cake after they have offered their second room for him upstairs. whoever is going to live here will has to deal with having a roomate- who happens to be the weirdest pony ever.

The two cakes nod, with Mr. Cake voicing their thoughts on payment. "All we would ask in return is him giving us a hoof here in the shop." Giving his plum wife a sweet smile.

And hopefully either Demo or Soldier can do that without blowing half the place up. "That is a fair payment, you have to speak one of my friends—" no way he is friends with those buffoon's but if it will make this pair calmer. "-what sort of task is best suited for him. We are still discussing who should stay where."

"Where will your second friend be living while you're here?" Mrs. Cake asks curiously.

"At miss Hooves." The pair send each other a glance, as if unsure if that is a good idea. Derpy is a good mare, but not exactly the most safety to be around with her almost unnatural skills of clumsiness. Then it is a good thing, both Soldier and Demoman are used to buildings falling over them. "Do not worry Mr. and Mrs. Cake, my two friends are both very study ponies. They can handle that mare's clumsy behavior." They sigh in relief and Mrs. Cake tells him. "That's good. When you have figure out who will stay where. Could you send that pony over here so we can discuss his tasks?" Spy agrees he will. On his way out he encounters a very excited Spike. The disguised Changeling stops at the door, watching the young dragon trots up to the desk.

"Hi Mrs. and Mr. Cake!" Spike greets the pair, completely unable standing still in his excitement.

Mr. Cake walks over to the dragon, beaming. "There's the dragon of the hour. Happy birthday, Spike!"

"Thanks." Spike smiles.

Mrs. Cake nuzzles her husband, explaining the young dragon. "When we found out it was your birthday, we couldn't resist trying out a new recipe: Sapphire!" She takes out a blue cupcake with blue sapphires mixed into the cake.

Spike stares almost awestruck at this cake, he shouldn't be able but got more excited when the Cake pair gives him this cake as his birthday gift. Holding the cupcake in his claws, Spike waves to the pair as he leaves the shop, "Thank you so much!" He calls before turning hungrily to this nice treat. Then he realizes who else has been in the shop, "oh Spy!" He calls, turning around and sees the disguised Changeling just in time before the bug-horse walks past a corner. "Wait up!" Spike trots after the Changeling, he still hasn't personally thanked Spy or Zecora for that matter about helping him solving the problem about Owlowiscious taking his spot. Before he can catches up to Spy, Spike, in his hurry didn't see Cheerilee walk in front of him. The two bump into one another, she drops her bag and all the fruits spreading over the ground and Spike's cupcake almost got ruined if he hasn't caught it the last second. He breathes out air in relief he managed saving his treat, about then he realized what has just happened and apologizes to the mare. "I'm so sorry Cheerilee." He steps over to help her gather up her stuff but that caused him to almost drop his cake again.

"That's okay," Cheerilee says, accidents like this does happen. Picking up her scattered fruits, she notices that Spike does looks quite excited and asks him about it.

Spike hesitates with his answer, he wants to help the mare with her stuff but he really dosesn't want to ruin his cake. Well, might as well eat it now, he thinks and eats the cake whole. "Pinkie Pie told me I should see the Cakes." He explains her with mouth still full of the cake he got from them, "and they gave me a cake because it's my birthday."

"Well, happy birthday Spike." Cheerilee replies, now she can see what got him so excited and hearing this is a special day for the young dragon. "I wish I have something to give you." She muses, stroking her chin in thoughts. Oh, wait! She does have something she can give this birthday child. Cheerilee searches through her bag and puts on a white cowboy hat with a red feather attached to the crown. She did buy for herself but thinks Spike deserves it more this moment. "Here you go."

Spike is both very surprised and excited getting yet another gift. "Wow, really?"

Cheerilee nods, "Sure, everypony should get fun gifts on their birthday," she tells him, beaming when Spike jumps up and hugs her. When he lets go, Cheerilee takes her bag and leaves, hoping this birthday boy will have a wonderful day. "Have a great birthday Spike."

"I wish every day was my birthday," Spike thinks out loud, pulling excitedly down his new gift. Today has been such a great day!

"Well, happy birthday."

Spike turns around, a grayish gold unicorn mare with flopped green hair walks over to him; giving him a small smile, he doesn't notices this mare is lacking a cutiemark. "Thanks, it's so nice getting gifts from ponies," Spike replies this pony with a smile.

"That it is." The mare agrees in a slow nod, turning her dark- almost black eyes over to the streets where several ponies are walking by, "you know, if you mention to other ponies it is your birthday; I am sure more ponies would give you gifts."

"Really?" Spike asks surprised, yet unable to keep back his excitement from the thought of more gifts.

"Of course, you are the birthday dragon after all. Why shouldn't they give you gifts?" The mare asks with a sweet smile.

"Yeah, I'm sure they would love to give me more." Spike agrees with her, he hesitates only for a moment and asks her "Do... Do you have a gift for me?"

Smirking the mare conjure another cupcake and levitates it down to the dragon, he eats it greedily, not seeing the oily substance dropping from it. When he turns around to thanks her, the mare is gone. He shrugs and now with darker green eyes turns to the many ponies there can give him more wonderful gifts.

***

from the shadows of a house, the mare watches Spike demand more gifts from ponies, at each time losing more self-control. the mare smirks "Oh you stupid dragons of the earth, you should've known sending a child to do an adults job would fail from the start" she laughs with the shadows surrounding around her and only a small oily pool with a cluster of black crystals of dark magic is left behind of this mare's departure.

Chapter Text

They came to the agreement Soldier would live with Derpy as he probably can handle getting objects over his head better than any one of them. Also, Soldier did not mind Derpy, in fact, he finds her a very sweet American. Spy and Demo did not bother to correct him that they aren't in America anymore.
Demo got to live with the Cakes and told the two bakers that he has some experience in baking as he has been taking care of his old mother which Cakes were very relieved about as that meant he could help them in the kitchen once and a while.

With them settled, Spy heads back to Zecora and calls Celestia over the mirror. He tells the ruler of this land that two more from his world have come here. "Some of the local ponies has lent them a place to sleep while we're searching for a clue coming home."

iIn the reflection of the mirror, Celestia nods and taps her hoof up to her chin in thoughts."From how your comrades are only brought here. I suspect someone is causing this. Is there someone who would like you gone?"

"that's a very long list, shorten down to only one if we count magic into that list of those people." Spy replies and tells her about Soldier's roommate there happens to be a wizard.

"It's a possibility this Merrasmus has brought you here." Celestia hypnotizes and will study on it after this conversation. "What can you tell me about this Soldier and Demoman?"

Spy leaves the hut for privacy for both him and Zecora when she returns from the herb gathering. Outside he tells the princess. "What Soldier lacks in brain; he makes up for it in muscles and bravery—although that bravery often comes out as insanity."

The insanity point did worry Celestia a bit, she would offer that stallion a spot as the more active royal guards but she won't allow him if he cannot keep himself in check there might cause her subjects or others harm. "Does he show any form of loyalty?"

Well, Soldier was at first out of control when the team was made. He never listened to reason and thought he was the commander of the team, it had also been in that time Soldier shot him when he thought he was the RED Spy. Fortunately, over time, Soldier calmed down and got more open to the team's suggestions. "If you are asking he will listen to your command. Tell him you are the president of Equestria, stroke his ego a bit and you have him on your side." Celestia smiles amused by that. "As for Demoman, he may accidentally cause some collaborate damage as his hobby is explosives but won't cause any trouble for your subjects."

She thinks she can deal with that. Ponies do from time to time destroy buildings and such with their magic, it does ensure the builder ponies always have a job. "Very well, thank you for the information. I will return back to the research about getting you home."

Spy nods and the Princess of the Sun disappears from the mirror, letting him stare at his own reflection there shows a Changeling frowning from his own thoughts: How long has he last been thanked doing his job? He does not know but he is glad someone finally notify his skills. He returns back to Zecora's hut.

"Did the dear princess find you a tome there might bring you home?" Zecora asks him, turning away from her brew and pushing aside the depressing thoughts that Spy maybe very soon leave forever.

Spy shakes his head. "No, still researching up on it." And he sort of hates himself that he is so casual about it. He knows he should return home, that is where he belongs. But he has sort of lost interest in going back, one of the reasons is a certain zebra. Shaking the thoughts aside, he steps over to Zecora, allowing his head rest on her back. "Something strange happens today. When one of my teammates realized who I was, he got quite... happy seeing me. I felt his emotions. I thought only love would feed me, not genuine joy."

That is quite a discovery, Zecora thinks. She knows Changeling feeds on love, Spy has after all been sort of feeding from her. They discovered that simply being near somepony who feels genuine love towards the Changeling is enough to sustain him. And yes, Zecora admits that she loves this Changeling. "Hm, this is just a mere thought, but perhaps you do not need feed on only the love." She suggests and nuzzles his shiny black insect hide.

Enjoying the zebra's touch for a moment, Spy does highly doubt Soldier loves him, not even as a friend but- "That could be the case, Soldier emotions didn't have any sign of love, he was happy yes, but that's about it." He replies and steps away from her from the sound of approaching hooves.
Zecora opens her mouth, but whatever she was about to say never leave her lips when Twilight suddenly barges into the hut, closely followed by Spike. He has gotten quite the growth spurt since he last saw that dragon. "What have you been feeding him?" He asks Twilight. The unicorn sends him an annoyed look before she turns to Zecora with: "Something is wrong with Spike. Can you help me?"

Zecora checks the now pony sized dragon, poking his head, waving a watch before him- which Spike with greedy eyes tries to get. She removes the watch from him before he does and after has pulled a bit his longer hands; she knows what is going on. "He is starting to mature, for that fact I am quite sure."

That takes Twilight a bit off guard. "So he's just growing up? But that doesn't explain why he keeps grabbing things." She points out and levitates a pot out from the dragon's claws.
Zecora gestures both her and the Changeling over, explaining mostly to Twilight. "A dragon's heart is prone to greed, a steady diet to make growth speed." Twilight follows her over to the kettle in middle of the hut, watching the powder Zecora threw in turn into a shape of Spike as the zebra explains, "then the resulting bigger size only makes their hunger raise."

"And here I thought I had hunger problems." Spy remarks and snatches away one of the chichi masks away from that greedy dragon. Spike growls at him and winches down when Spy returns it with his own way more intimidating hiss. Twilight gives him a scared look, Spy corrects himself and straightens up. "Apologizes." Shooting the dragon a glare when Spike now is grabbing a spoon which he snatches away as well. "How do we stop this behavior?" For this is starting to get on his nerves.

"If Spike continues to collect without restrains, more growth will certainly occur: he will transform into a monster with greedily absurd." Zecora explains to the Changeling and Twilight, the latter gasps horrified of this new fact. "You mean the more he collects the greedier he gets? But how do we stop him before he is completely out of contro?!"

Spike reaches out and grabs some of the potions, Spy hisses at him but Spike knocks that annoying thing out with a single slap with his claws. The unicorn and zebra turn around, with Twilight watching in horror Spike hoarding everything inside the hut. "Spike stop it!" She cries and grabs everything by her magic. Spike did not like that one bit, this is his stuff now! "It's mine!" He snaps and lashes out at her. Only stops when a panther suddenly stands between them, snarling furiously at him. The dragon sneers back but when he sees the horrified look on Twilights face, he for a moment snap out from his primal greed. Realizing he had almost hurt her. He drops all the stuff and hastily leaves the hut.
With that growing threat gone, Spy returns back to his pony disguise, asking the stunned in horror Twilight. "Are you alright mon amie?" She nods slowly.
Zecora steps over to her pile of belongings, musing her thoughts out loud. "It seems he is not yet consumed by greed, he still saw the friend in you I believe." She tells Twilight.

"I have to stop him." Twilight declares and with quick thanks for the help she gallops out.
zebra and changeling give each other a look, both hoping this mess will end well.

***

In Sugarcube Corner, Demoman is not entirely sure what just has happened, he was helping the Cakes by cleaning the kitchen (do some practice using his hooves) and the next thing he got this adorable pink pony named Pinkie Pie besides him, telling him welcome by firing that cannon of hers. Talk about one blast of a welcome.
"First time I got a party first day on the job." He cannot help but remark, jumping when this pink pony suddenly appears right behind the cake she gave him, saying hilariously seriously. "First day on the job is very important you know." That he can agree on. "Aye, you got that right lass." And tries to take the plate with cake Pinkie offers him, he drops it onto the floor. "Sorry about that, still clunky with these," waving his front hooves.

"Not used to hooves?" Pinkie asks tilting her head with a small giggle. "What did you have before?"

"Something called hands, they worked like that dragon's claws." Demo explains, she makes a, "ohhh" sound and suggests; "Then perhaps you should your unicorn magic?" Offering him a new slice of cake. "We can't have you drop all the cake onto the floor." That he agrees on, especially when she told him she baked it just for him. Demo takes a moment to remember how to use his new magic, when he does, an aura of red surrounds the cake and plate. He hesitantly levitates it over to him and feels very victories when he takes a bite of the cake without dropping it. The cake is pretty good too, "Thanks, bit too sweet for me though."
He returns rest of the cake back onto the table. Now he knows how to use his horn, Demo uses his magic on the broom and now simply has to walk around while his mind does the brushing. He can get used to that.
He doesn't stop his task when Pinkie jumps up beside him, asking as if it's the most important thing in the world. "What sort of cake do you like?"
He has to think about that for a moment. "Hm, I do like blueberries, oh and I do have my own recipe for a good cake. I could make it for you."

"Sure! I would love baking cakes with you Demo!"

Demo smiles, yet has to ask for he hasn't found one liquor store and not only could he need a drink but he would need vodka for that cake. "Do you have alcohol around? I need some for that cake."

Alcohol in a cake? That is the first time for Pinkie, but this is Demo's cake, so... "I don't know if Mr. and Mrs. Cake have any, but you can always ask Berry Punch if she has what you're looking for. She is very good making certain drinks."

Sounds like just a pony for him with that kind of name. Pony names are weird. "And where can I find this Berry Punch?"
Pinkie opens her mouth to answers but is rudely interrupted when a big purple dragon- looking very much like Spike barges into the shop with what looks like a chicken coup filled with all kind of junk inside. Before any of them can stop him, the dragon grabs the broom from Demo and puts it into the chicken coup. The dragon turns his intense gaze towards the two ponies with a look there reminds Demo of when he stood face to face with the Loch Ness monster.
"Stay back lass!" He warns Pinkie, both leaping away when the dragon steals the cake Pinkie made for him. The pink pony lets out a scream, jumps as far away from the hoarding dragon as she can; which is the top on a shelf filled with cakes. She grabs two of them and throws the cakes at the dragon. "Back! Get back!" She yells, already having two more in her hooves. The dragon ducks under the assault, but does seem more interested in keeping his chicken coup of junk safe. That gives Demo an idea "keep him busy lass!" he tells Pinkie, she does by throwing more cakes at him. Demo uses the dragon's distraction to turn his magic at the junk and pulls out the broom, not the best choice of weapon but it will have to do. The dragon stares a few seconds at the levitating broom, letting out a yelp when Demo slaps him over the face with it. The dragon sneer, grabs the broom, and a cake, both stuffed into the chicken coup.
Demo tries then tearing its treasures away while Pinkie continues throwing cake at the dragon's hide.

"Pinkie, don't give him cakes!"

the sudden cry from Twilight makes Demo loses his focus and the grip around the chicken coup. Before he can recover, the dragon hits him with its tail. Slamming him into the wall which would've knocked him out if he had been human, but all it does now is making the room spin a bit.

Pinkie throws more cakes at him, yelling at the newly arrived group. "I'm not giving him cake! I'm distracting- no assaulting him with it!" She reaches out for more but just then, the dragon snatches the whole shelf and she drops head first onto the floor. She and Demo recover quickly. "How dare you to take the cake?!" She yells while he searches the room for anything he can use as a weapon. He does forget his task when the dragon suddenly grows rabidly and burst through the shops roof. The now house sized dragon wanders off in search for more to his hoard.

"Ry, what just happen?!" Demo demands, for dealing with a truck-sized dragon had been bad enough.

Twilight doesn't, unfortunately, have time to explain the deal to this stallion. "I'll explain later, right now we have to stop him."

That Demo can agree on, he chases after the three mares, the repairs on Sugarcupe Corner will have to wait until this crisis is over.
Finding that rampaging dragon is not difficult, for he has again gone through another growth spurt. Now more than big enough to swallow a horse whole, and is completely out of control.
The rampaging dragon almost steps onto a mare if it hasn't been for Soldier snatching her away.
Demo is so glad sees him here. Agreement with the Administrator be damned, these ponies need their help! "Soldier, I need your help!"

Soldier gives Demo an angry look, still not forgiving him for calling him a civilian. Demo opens his mouth, only to be cut off when that Godzilla monster roars loudly. Demo turns back to Soldier again, letting out a sighs. "Look, I am sorry I called you a civilian, I never meant offending you like this. but the Administrator was threatening to harm my mum if I didn't fight you!"
Soldier blinks, Tavish was forced? More importantly: "You don't think I'm a civilian?" Demoman gives him a look.

"You are many things Jane, but a civilian is not one of them."

Landing on the ground, Soldier feels like he too should take back all the words he has called his pal throughout their fight. "I know Scotland is not part of England." He just said that because he knew it would enrage Tavish.
The brown pony smirks and offers his hoof. Soldier hesitates; they can't shake hands without said hands. So he kicks his hoof against Tavish as a sort of fist-bump, the two grin to one another, both feeling like a nasty storm has finally settled. "Let's kick some Godzilla ass!" Soldier declares and flies over to fetch a shovel he found lying around.

Oh it's good to have his pal back again, and better they for once can fight side by side. "Godzilla? Solly, we're going to fight a real bloody dragon!" Demo laughs and finds a metal pole, levitating it like a sword. He runs at the dragon with Solly flying close behind.
Demo jumps onto the dragon's leg, runs up its back and with: "leeeet's do iiiit!!" he hits the dragon right over the snout, stunning it just long enough for soldier do this world's vision of a sky drop. The blue Pegasus lets out a battlecry and hits the dragon's head so hard that one of the large green spikes gets cut off. The dragon roars furiously at its attackers, powerful enough to throw Demo off its back. He would've gotten very hurt by the landing if Solider didn't catch him in mid-flight. "Eat this lizard breathe!" He throws Demo who lands back onto the dragon and hit it right between the eyes.

The dragon roars in pain; lashes out after the two annoying ponies there keeps hurting him. Too busy hitting after those two that he did not see a third member in form of a blue pegasus fly over to Rarity trapped from his tail and tries to pull her out. He only did by chance and with his very narrow mind recognizes that pony to be the one who has been flirting with Rarity. Rage build's up in him and with a roar, the dragon hits the blue pegasus with his large claws. The brown unicorn catches that on at last second, but by then his greed for treasures has made him forget about those two and start searching for a location to place his treasure. He finds it in form of another dragon's once lair- a pain over the head reminds him about the pegasi and he hits out after it, knocking it off the sky. He returns back to his thoughts of putting his hoard into a cave and starts climbing the mountain.

Soldier smack onto the ground, for a moment stunned by the crash but a big lizard is not keeping this soldier down, no sir.
"You alright, Solly?" Demo asks, he and Spy trot over to him. Soldier jumps back on his hooves. "He's gotta try harder than that!" Demo smiles hearing that while Spy turns his gaze up to the mountain where that stupid dragon is.

The blue pegasi clears his throat, getting the two other's attention "Soldier, you and I need to distract him. Demo, can you try and get that pony free from his tail?"

"Aye I can do that."

Soldier grins to Spy, he always knew the man had a soldier in him. "Let's kick some dragon ass!" and takes flight, not seeing Spy rolls his eyes at him before following.
Soldier is the first reaching the dragon. "Maggot!" He yells and hits the beast right on top of the head, making it roar in pain and when it tries to eat him, Soldier decides that now that he looks like a horse; he might as well act like one and kicks it hard over the snout.

The dragon winches in pain, holding over the spot where he got kicked.

"Ahem."

Opening his eyes, the dragon stares right at that blue pegasi standing on his snout. He growls in anger but forgets that for a moment when the pony turns into a nightmarish animal with glowing red eyes, roaring back at him. The dragon is for a moment stunned by his childish fear to forget that when the green pegasi kicks him again over the neck. He growls angrily by these pests and after has flicked the shape-shifter off, he takes out the water tower barrel he grabbed when the chicken coup got too small and grins victoriously when that pest of a pegasi smacks right into the button. Before that one can recover, the dragon slams the barrel into the mountain, trapping the pegasi inside.

"You bloody dragon!"

The dragon turns around, for a moment thinking that pegasi got out when the pain from before returned, no, it's just another one. This one a brown unicorn and glaring at him on his back.
"You'll let him out or I'll gotta chop your head off!" He shouts and hits the dragon right over the face yet again, this time it shed blood. The dragon stares startled at the small wound over the cheek, then in a growl, catches the unicorn and throws it away. He didn't see the bug pony catches the unicorn in last second, both crashing rather hard onto the ground.

"Thanks, mate" Demo thanks Spy, the now bug looking horse shoots him a small glare but do say, "No problem" before taking his pegasus form. Both gets back on their feet, with Demo watching the dragon apparently listing to the white unicorn trapped by it. Better get up there before that dragon decides to eat that one. "Can you fly me up there?"

Spy checks his wing, not only does it hurt but the landing chipped it. He won't be flying anywhere soon. "My wing is chipped. I'm afraid I am grounded for now." Turning his gaze up to the scene above them, "Hopefully there is enough sense Spike to recognize miss Rarity." He has taken notice the dragon has quite the crush and hilariously protective around her. The reason why he always flirted the mare when that dragon was around.

"Is it a Scout/Miss Pauling situation?"

Spy nods and smirking along with Demo laughing. That laugher does get cut short when black/green cloud of magic suddenly burst out from Spike, turning him to normal size, making both him and Rarity falling from the ground now there no longer was a big dragon holding onto the mountain. Fortunately their friends came to the rescue with two pegasi catching them by a makeshift blanket. When the two are safe onto the ground, Spy and Demo calm down and Spy turns his gaze to the mountain where Soldier is still trapped. "We better get to him before he tries to dig himself out."

"Sound like him." Demo grins and the two heads over to the mountain, when up on there, Demo uses his levitation magic on the barrel while Spy turns into a panter and pushes it with his shoulders, those two combined efforts and a muffled battlecry followed by something hitting the side makes the barrel loses its grip on the mountain, dropping it to the ground and lets a very pissed Soldier out.
"Where is that dragon?! I'm gonna stuff that tail so far down his throat—"

"The dragon is no more," Spy tells him as he returns to his pegasus form, turning his gaze down to where Spike speaks with his friends and crush.

Soldier huffs disappointed he didn't get the kill that beast, he didn't notice the exchanged look the two other gives him. Only turns his gaze back to them when Spy says in his usually smooth voice. "Your last attack was what chased it off." with Demo nodding in agreement. "Ay, we couldn't have done it without you!"
Soldier boasts his chest proudly he succeeds defeating this threat and thinks he- Demo and Spy too deserve a medal. "Medals for everyone!"
Demoman laughs while Spy looks like he would much rather be somewhere else than here now.

****

(evening)

After have made sure Spike has recovered from his greedy rampage and sleeping soundly, Twilight heads into the Everfree forest and when she reaches her goal in form of Zecora's hut, the young unicorn knocks onto the door. There goes a moment before Zecora opens the door, blinking seeing the unicorn here. "Strange see you this late, is there more trouble Spike's greed we to negate?" The zebra asks.
Twilight shakes her head. "No, Spike's fine now." She notices the Changeling inside the hut, he seems quite annoyed over something, probably because it is rather late for visits. Better get to the point of why she is here. "I would like to thank you for helping us with Spike- with a lot of things actually." She admits to the zebra. Zecora has been a great source of guidance to her and her friends. "You have been such a great source of wisdom, and-"

Zecora stops her by lifting her hoof. "No need thanking me, helping ponies is my destiny that I can guarantee."

Twilight smiles to the zebra. "I know, but—" her words get cut short when Spy's body suddenly lights up, startling the Changeling just as much as her. "What's going on?" She asks, Zecora turns around to see but she too is quite surprised by this. The light emerging from the Changeling shapes into shards looking an awful like the Elements when Nightmare Moon destroyed them. But, that can't be. There should only be six elements!
These shards surround Zecora, making the zebra take a step back in surprise. It's there Twilight feels it: the spark and the element Zecora has come to represent. She gasps for this realization. "Zocora, you... you are the Element of Guidance."
The shards around the zebra gather around her chest, forming a stylized circle gem in color of ocean blue and held by a golden necklace.

Zecora stares at the necklace around her neck rings, taken quite aback she has been chosen to wear one of the Elements of Harmony, and here she thought only ponies could be granted such an honor. "This is quite the surprise." She admits to Twilight, turning around to the Changeling. "I wonder why the shards came from you my dear Spy?" to then blink in surprise that Spy also has gotten himself a necklace, this one in silver and instead of a circle shaped gem his is a knife; in the same ocean blue color.

Twilight gasps seeing another necklace of Harmony of Guidance around Spy's neck, but why is the necklace silver? What does this mean? "I need to speak with the princess about this." she declares and runs off so she can write to Celestia about this discovery.

With her out, the zebra and changeling both look at their new trinkets, Spy being the one most confused about this. Turning his gaze to the zebra. "What is this Element of Guidance Twilight spoke about?" and more importantly; "and why did it come from me?" For he doesn't consider himself the man people should look for guidance.

 

Chapter Text

At the crack of dawn, Soldier got up from bed and starts his morning exercise. He did, however, forget this is not BLU base and only realized his mistake after he has shouted: "Up and at it maggots!" A very sleepy but also startled filly appears from the door. after an awkward moment of silence, Soldier muses a very quiet. "Sorry miss." and stalks outside, feeling rather stupid over have forgotten he's not in BLU base at the moment.

"...Why are you up this early, sir?" The purple coated and blond filly unicorn asks, following their guest outside. She is still a bit scared of him with his loud voice but warmed up to him after that dragon incident. The olive green stallion stops for a moment before he returns back in trotting around the house with: "Only lazy bums waste precious hours sleeping."
She watches him for a moment, thinking about his words and can see a bit of reason in them. "Makes sense I guess... but mother says sleep is important too. Without it, we cannot focus when awake." The stallion only makes a strange humming sound, too busy trotting around. The filly yawns and returns back to the house for some more sleep but does stop at the door as she would like to get to know this stallion better. "I would like to join you; if you got up later."

That catches Soldier off guard, he stops and stares at this child. "You would like to... train with me?" He asks, not sure he got that right.

The filly, Dinky nods with another yawn. "Uh huh, I saw you save that pony when the dragon attacked." She lowers her head slightly, "and... um, I would like to be able to do the same when I grow up."

Soldier has to take a moment to comprehend what this child has just said, then another moment when he contemplates if he should train this child- this girl becomes a true soldier. Women aren't supposed to be soldiers, they belong in the house, but this filly asked him to train him. So he guesses he can bend the rules a little bit. "Alright, I will get up a bit later, but you better be prepared for some hard training!" He tells this girl hard. "doesn't matter you are a girl, do I make myself clear?!"

Dinky copy what she at times has seen Soldier here do when he shows he understand or agree, "Yes you do." He returns the salute and with that; both returns back into the house.

About three hours later, Derpy wakes and heads over to wake her daughter only to realizes the filly isn't in her room. "Dinky?" She calls worried and bit in a state of panic searches the house for her. She finds her daughter along with Solider, and to her surprise, both are trotting around the house with Soldier singing some song she does not recognize.
The two stop and Soldier tells the winded filly. "Nice job Cadet! Keep this up and you'll turn into a fine soldier one day. Now let's get some breakfast!" Dinky salutes, first there seeing her dumbfounded mother.
"Mom, I and Solider have become friends now." She giggles up to the bit taken aback stallion.
Well, isn't that good news. Derpy smiles. "I told you he wasn't so bad." Turning to Solider. "Thanks for giving Dinky a chance."

"Not a problem ma'am!" Soldier salutes, again forgetting he doesn't have hands and hits his head. "ow!" the two women giggles and Derpy suggest they should head inside. "You two must be hungry."

"Starving!" Dinky says with a huge smile.

Giggling, Derpy starts on the food. When done she puts down a plate with apple muffins. "Here you go." and Dinky digs in right away, Soldier fumbles a bit with the muffin in his hooves. Derpy shows him the trick and the green stallion can finally eat without the risk dropping his food. He gives Dinky a smile when the filly says. "Mommies muffins are the best!" Derpy blushes lightly at her daughter's praise, more so when Soldier agrees with her. "They are very good, you should be proud!"
"It's nothing, just an old home recipe." Derpy brushes it off.
After the breakfast, Derpy takes her daughter to school before she will head to the mail-office. Speaking of job, "Have you found yourself a job yet?" She asks Soldier. What she got from Spy, the three would be here in Ponyville for quite some time.

"Not yet." Soldier replies the grey mare, he is still looking for something to do, something where he would feel of use. But, as much he hates to admit it; well the only thing he is good at is being a soldier. Although deep inside he knows he's not a real one...

"Well, I wish you luck then," Derpy says and leaves along with her daughter.

Soldier heads to the town not long after, he doesn't want to idle in Miss Hooves house. He needs to do something...!
Inside the town he encounters Spy talking with that mare there got trapped by that dragon. With nothing else to do, he walks over to them.

"— been long I last spoke with anypony of finer taste." Rarity replies the blue and very charming pegasi. "If you have the time perhaps come by my boutique, I might have just something for you."

Spy smiles, both to charm her but also because he has found a pony there knows how to make proper clothing. "I am sure whatever you show it, it will be just as dazzling as their creator."

"Oh, you flatter me." She giggles waves a hoof at him to then let out a startled yelp when a ruff looking pegasus suddenly appears beside both of them with a rather loud: "Hello again! I see the dragon didn't eat you." She gives him a weak smile, remembering this one from when Spike was that rampaging dragon "Eh ha ha... no, he didn't..." and now seeing him up close, this stallion is rougher than she had feared, it's like looking at a dull stone. Perhaps she can get two birds with one stone. "I must say it was very brave of you and your friends trying to save me." She smiles sweetly at this ruffian looking pegasi and suggests. "What do you say I repay you with some new clothing?"

"There is no need for it, Marsmoselle." Spy tries but the white unicorn brushes his attempt to decline off.

"Oh, I must insist."

Her funeral, "Alright, I presume you would like to thank our third member as well?" She nods and Spy heads out to find Demoman, praying Soldier won't destroy miss Rarity's shop too much when she tries to put a tuxedo on him. Demoman is busy enough helping to repair Sugarcupe Corner as it is.

Turning to the olive green pegasi there for some reason pokes his muzzle, "Should we see if there is something for your need?" Rarity asks, still with that sweet voice of hers and request the stallion to follow her back to her boutique.

Soldier follows this unicorn into a shop filled with mirrors and more clothing than he has ever seen. He blinks when the unicorn uses that ability Tavish at times uses on him, making a jacket looking very much like one Spy would walk in floats before him.

"You would like quite dazzling in a tuxedo." Rarity observes.

"If I was a spy." Soldier grumbles and pushes the spy suit away. Boasting his chest proudly. "Soldiers like me do not use cheap trick like those backstabbing snakes!"

Rarity is not entirely sure what this stallion is talking about, but she did catch on one word. "soldier?" So this one is part of the royal guard? First time she has ever gotten the chance suiting one of those, a challenge she eagerly accepts! "Tuxedo won't do, then." She puts the suit back to its place and trots over to another shelf. If this stallion is a royal guard, then something showing strength and yet a certain elegant would fit him better. She find a piece of clothing, and levitates it over but can see it is still not exactly what she has in mind. "hm, no that won't do- what would you say I made you a new uniform and perhaps spruce up your helmet a bit?" She asks the stallion. Not sure if he likes the idea or not since the helmet cover most of his face.

"You can make a uniform?"

"Oh yes, and no offense but the one you have now have seen better days."

Soldier looks down to his BLU uniform, it is dirty and covered in holes from both his battle back when he was human and from that dragon. That woman horse might be onto something, his higher officer always said that a soldier should look properly in order to intimidate the enemy. "Alright." He agrees and lets the unicorn take his helmet, he feels sort of naked without it, though...

Oh, he is going to love what she has in mind for him, Rarity thinks excitedly. She would like to put gems on the new uniform, but she has to restrain herself since she doubts a royal guard pony would predicate having objects there can blind him in the sun. Maybe a single gem formed as a star on the helmet, perhaps? "I would need a few days before your uniform is done." She tells him while levitating the helmet over to the work table, noticing the stallion looks a bit lost without his helmet. Feeling a bit bad she somewhat is the cause of this lost puppy look, Rarity presumes she can allow him to borrow one of her hats. "You may borrow one of my hats, but be sure return it in good condition."

Is she giving him a hat? Soldier whole face lights up hearing that and zips over to the shelf where the hats are.
He doesn't notice Spy and Demo walking inside.

"I see you are handing Soldier just fine," Spy remarks, hiding his surprise she kept him seduced without no trouble. He thought Soldier would destroy something the moment she tried dressing him up.

Rarity walks over to them with a smile, thinking that green stallion must really take his royal guard job seriously when his name is Solider. But putting that one aside, she levitates a black tuxedo over to Spy but quickly changes her mind when realizing his dark coat will just make the suit disappear. "No, something lighter perhaps" and levitates a lighter blue one over to him, that looks better. But could use—"perhaps something white" and leaves, dropping the suit in the pegasi's hooves.

Spy catches the suit, letting Rarity head out in search of some cosmetics for him. He lifts up the suit and can see he wasn't wrong saying she has a good taste of style.
"She's so going to dress us all up isn't she?" Demo asks with a weak chuckle, Spy simply gives him a look. This is going to be quite amusing if Demo keeps being this skirmish.
A white shirt and flower get levitated before him, and before Spy knows: Rarity has put the suit on him. He is not sure if he should be impressed or scared how fast and effective she did just that.
Rarity scratches her chin deeply in thoughts on her work, making Spy suddenly feel like he's literally a show pony and to his embarrassment; that is making him quite nervous as he doubts this unicorn will only allow him to leave when she is done.

Rarity eyes light up and levitate over some gems- to then drop them when Soldier is suddenly by them with a joyful laugh. He now has a captain hat for a role-play she made for a customer. "I found a new hat!" Spy and Demo turn their full attention on Soldier, both having a curious look in their eyes about the new headwear and Rarity notices how excited the three gets when they see her stock of headwear. The blue pegasi then turns to her, asking in his always polite tone. "If you wouldn't mind, could I and Demoman find ourselves a piece of headwear as well?"

"Of course," Rarity says and is curious about their excitement of getting a hat. It's like watching foals getting their presents at Heart's Warming Eve; not exactly a behavior she would expect from a royal guard, a gentleman and... well she still not sure how to describe the one with the name of Demo. "May I asks the interest in headwear?" She asks the three.

Snapping out from an almost unnatural zeal of finding a hat, Spy explains the white unicorn a bit sheepishly over their huge interest in getting new hats. "It's a bit of a strange story. You see, we are fighting against... ponies looking exactly like us."

"Ooh my, how do you know which one is who then?" Rarity asks, she might find herself dazzling and all but she would prefer there is only one Rarity in the world.

Demoman steps up beside Spy. "We can't lass, not sure about Spy and Solly's team, but for RED that whole situation was really depressing at the start."

"Same for us." Spy admits and pushes the thought aside from that he shouldn't share information with a RED or a civilian. They aren't in the war games and he is not sure if he ever would return to the human world again AND this world ridicules high level of trust in one another is rubbing off him. Both turn to Rarity when the mare asks shocked. "Wait, aren't you on the same team?" Spy shakes his head. "Non, Demoman here is part of the RED team, the one I and Soldier were hired to fight. Our own Demoman looks and acts exactly like him, though. Demo has two team member looking and acting exactly like I and Soldier. It's a very depressing thought; not knowing if you are real or fake. So in an attempt of cheering the team up, my team's Scout came with the suggestion we began to wear hats."

Demoman cannot help but laugh at the irony. "Our Scout did the same, words all a mess but he said it with heart in the right place."

That counts with the BLU Scout as well, Spy thinks and although he's never allowed to show his true emotions towards that boy, he does feel a twitch of pride for Scout. Even a headache like Scout knows how to make people smile with his stupid ideas and stupider mouth. "Not long after we began wearing all sorts of hats and other sorts of cosmetics; many of them silly but it did in some way separate us." He explains the confused looking unicorn and feels almost an inch putting that blue fedora onto his head.

Well, this does get onto the top ten list of strange habits but far from being the strangest and besides— Rarity levitates the fedora onto Spy's head- she noticed he kept glancing at. Giggling how child happy he looks for a moment before forcing himself back to his calm exterior. "Well, if you continue on aiding Ponyville and perhaps me once and a while; I could make you a few cosmetics," she suggests. These three might help her attach more male customers by showing what the opposite gender appraise.
Demoman and Solider both start cheering and doing some sort of dance while Spy looks like he's really struggling not to do the same thing, Rarity has trouble not laughing at their colt-like excitement they show of her suggestion. They are really some strange stallions.

"It's very generous of you," Spy says while lightly touching his new hat.

Rarity blushed and waves her hoof at the blue pegasi. "It's nothing, darling."

"No really, no-one has been this kind to us." Spy tells her seriously, he has never met someone wanting to give so much and only expecting a helping hand to the town in return.

"Spy's right, we cannot thank ye enough." Demoman says with Solider nodding in agreement.

The unicorn mare titles her head slightly in her small confusions. "It sounds like you aren't used to be treated like this." Jumping when all three say on the same time. "We aren't!" They eye one another for a moment. Spy turns back to her, explaining. "Our line of job has made a lot of pe- ponies look at us in fear and detest."

"...What are your jobs?"

"We kill one another over worthless land!" Solider exclaims cheerfully before Spy and Demo can stop him, he doesn't notice the angry look the two other gives him or the fearful look Rarity now has.

"You- You kill ponies?" She knew they were warriors from how they fought and handled getting beaten around by Spike, but to think these three actually kill other ponies.

Solider opens his mouth but Demo's magic forces it shut and explains the pony before she calls the police on them. "Aye, but do not worry lass. We do not wish anyone in this town harm. And although I was hired to fight Spy and Soldier here, the three of us have come to an agreement of ceasefire until we return back home."

Okay, that's a relief these three has the tenacity of keeping others out from their war. Taking a deep breath, Rarity asks them as what Soldier said of what they fought about made little to no sense. "Why are you fighting over worthless land?"

"That what was we were hired to do." Spy replies simply, the two others nod. The blue and now fancy dressed pegasi nods towards the door to the two others before he eyes her again with a somewhat somber tone "We will be leaving now."

Wait, do they think now she knows what their job is that she doesn't want anything to do with them? What did they except? A pony with no heart? Sure them being practically mercenaries is scary, but they did say that they wouldn't fight as long they were here and— "Gentlemen please, you don't have to leave." They stop, Spy and Demoman giving her a surprised look, Soldier is still trying to open his mouth through Demo's magic. Ignoring that soldier pony, she will say: "I admit I am a worried and scared about of your... line of job. But I and many others here in Ponyville saw goodness in you when you- without a moment of hesitating fought against... well that dragon." But that's not what made her believe there is goodness in these three, every ruffian can fight a dragon. She takes a step towards these three, knowing they will not harm her. "You protected us, you tried to save me; even though you didn't know me. When wounded, you still continued trying helping me. Only good ponies do that." And from how taken aback they stare at her, it seems like nopony has told them anything close to what she has just said. She smiles, then with her business glasses on, she turns to Demoman. "Now, let's see if I can find something there would look good on you." The brown pony chuckles nervously.

About an hour later, the two mercenaries and one assassin all leave Rarity's shop quite happy and all having a piece of headwear. Demo and Soldier do however have to wait a few days for their uniforms, but they can wait for week if they have to, it's quite the experience been giving such gifts. And that just for keeping a few ponies safe and whack a dragon over the head a few times. "I think I'm going to like this place," Demo says, Soldier nods in agreement with; "Even they all look like hippies"

Good to know he's not the only one getting affected by this world ridiculous high level of friendliness. Which does reminds him. "I will have to leave you now." and heads over to the shop he was supposed to be hours ago. He will have to apologize and tell Zecora he got quite caught up thanks to Rarity. He only thought they would talk a short hour, what he hasn't expected was getting a whole new suit and a nice hat as well. Can't say it was a waste of time.

**
Back in the human world:

Administrator's order, the RED Spy, and Sniper are walking around the location where their Demoman disappeared along with the BLU Soldier. But they will not find any clues now as well they couldn't a three days past. Sniper stops at the now offline control point. "This is bloody ridicules." He grumbles and corrects the rifle on his shoulders. When Spy doesn't reply Sniper turns around and realizes the man is smiling "what are you smiling at spook?"He asks for he cannot see the joke.

It first now Spy realizes he is and cough embarrassed. "I don't know." he admits.

"You don't know?" Sniper raises a brow.

He just felt really cheerful off of sudden, like if he has found some secret cave filled with hats and cosmetic just for him. That's the best way Spy can explain this, not that he will tell that to the bushman. To be honest, he has been feeling very weird this whole day. He keeps having this feeling he should be somewhere else, but not entirely sure where or why he feels like this. Brushing off his internal confusions of his own emotions, Spy asks the frowning Sniper. "You found anything about Demoman's disappearance?"
Sniper shakes his head, yeah, he thought so. "Then there is no need staying here. " Spy tells Sniper and is more than happy to return back to base. They have been out here for hours with nothing but dirt turned their way.
He does wonder why certain members get taken away without a trace. And better question: who will be next?

Chapter Text

It has been so long she last was down in her and Luna's old teacher's study. Celestia hasn't been down here since Star Swirl disappeared, it had been too many memories for the back then grieve stuck alicorn. Star Swirl disappeared in a very bad timing as Celestia was grieving over she had been forced exiling her sister to the moon. She never found out what happened to their old teacher, but she is very sure that he is dead. Not to mention that had been 1000 years and she cannot think about those troubled times. Now she has to be in the present and focus on the mystery on why creatures from another world have been brought here and how come another Element has appeared. She sure hopes that Star Swirl had studied into the subject about other world transportation or at least the Elements of Harmony. It would be nice knowing if there exists more she and Luna did not know about.
Celestia walks slowly into the study, feeling very hesitant disturbing the room as Star Swirl left it all those years ago but it has to be done. Letting out a small sigh, Celestia levitates a book over to her; after having read a few pages she returns it exactly back where she found it. Doubting the dictionary of the stars will be any help.
She heads over to the large bookshelf, for a moment thrown back to when she and Luna were foals, studying along several of these books with Star Swirl. Celestia smiles sadly at the memory and if she hasn't a mission, then she would've left by now. But since three from another world counts on her, she pushes her own feelings aside, continuing searching the shelf for anything useful.
Her eyes stop on a book with the title of 'pathway to other worlds' that one sounds promising and Celestia levitates it out.

'Over my years of researching the nature of the Pillars of Virtue, I have discovered that there have been several more Pillars than just the six I know about. It is unclear what exactly happened to them, but I have a theory that the dark forces I and my fellow pillars are fighting against have thrown the missing Pillars of Virtue into another world. One I yet have to reach even with all my magical powers. Until then, I and my fellow Pillars will ensure the element found will not be forgotten if the dark forces will defeat us. We will infuse our magic- our virtue into a crystal seed and plant them deep inside Harmony's Forest.'

Celestia stops reading her old teacher's writing, these Pillar's of Virtue the old unicorn spoke about. Could it be the Elements of Harmony? And there had been more, how many more and what kind of elements would they be- better yet, who could become their bearers? That is questions she has to find answers on later. Celestia flips through the pages and finds a paragraph about the subject of her reason coming down here in the first place.

'I have found a way and created a spell there can take somepony into another world very different from our own. I realize there are many such worlds, some I would have to be very careful exposing to ours as beings on the other side may be a threat or worse; allies to the dark forces at play. But even with that threat, I will have to try. The forces of darkness are growing and I realize that the six Pillars of Virtue are not enough defeating them. We may represent and hold the power the dark forces fear, but we do not have any conduit in order tap into the Spirit of the Virtue itself. The seeds we planted might give us such a conduit. All I and my fellow Pillars of Virtue can do for now is keeping the darkness at bay. But if my theory is correct, then the dark forces have thrown certain of the virtues into another world in attempt denying us a fighting chance. The destruction of the conduit will render the current user defenseless but like with the dark forces; the Spirit of the Element can never be truly destroyed. Exiling the spirits of the element has been the dark forces attempt getting rid of the power keeping them at bay. I will search for them in other worlds. I have already created a pathway to one of these other worlds and hope one of the spirits of the virtue is trapped there.'

Celestia is deeply troubled by what she is reading but also has a spark of hope, are Spy, Soldier, and Demo from the world where the Spirit of Virtue had been trapped? Do they have the spirit inside of them? She does not know but is carefully optimistic that is the case. According to Twilight, this new element; the Element of Guidance seems to have been inside Spy before it found its place at this Zecora and he got a silver necklace as well. She will have to speak with Spy about this, hear if he had any idea about the element resting inside of him. It still does not answers the question: who brought them here in the first place? And did the one know about the Elements? She has no idea, but at least it seems her old teacher did. So that's one good thing in all of this confusions.

***
(in Ponyville)

"Wait, you going to have a baby?" Demoman asks flabbergasted at what Mrs. Cake has just told him the reason she and her husband would like the extra help down the shop. The pair eyes one another with somewhat dorky smiles before Mrs. Cake turns back to Demo, nodding.
Okay, he did not see that coming. Mrs. Cake does not look pregnant, but maybe it's just him unable see the difference between being plum and being pregnant. "What do you need help with?" He asks as he is sure being pregnant will be exhausting, plus he does owe them a place to live while stuck here.
Mr. Cake gestures him over to the desk where he pulls out a list of the orders they have gotten. "We would very much like if you made these delivers. The cakes and boxes under the desk are over there." The yellow stallion explains, showing Demo the spots of each object he would need for the deliveries.
Demoman is more than willing to lend them a hand- or hoof. He goes straight to work and trots over to the certain addresses for the delivery. He has finished them about past midday, the last being with his new best mare-friend in form of Berry Punch.
"Here ya go lass." he hands the light-plum mare the oat-chocolate cookies.

"Thanks," Berry Punch says and gives him the bits for the payment. The box with cookies gets placed inside his private quarters and before Demo leaves, she asks hopefully. "How many more delivers do you have left?"

"This is my last." Turning back to the mare, curious what she has in mind.

"Oh, good, I was hoping you got time." Berry Punch sighs in relief and pulls out a bottle, explaining; "I got this from Saddle Arabia, good drink but one I find best shared with a good friend." eyeing the one-eyed stallion with a hopeful smile and glad her coat color hides the small blush on her cheeks. "Care for a drink?"

Demo grins, that is why he likes this mare so much; like him, she appreciates good liquor. "It would be my pleasure." She pours them a glass each, he takes his with his magic, not trying to use his hooves- doing everything with magic is so much easier. "Cheer lass." They hit the glasses gently together and take sibs of the drink. Demo realizes it is wine, not exactly his choice of liquor but he must admit this is good stuff. "Do you have more in storage?" He asks Berry, "I am certain a certain stallion—" still weird saying that "— would appreciate this brand very much."

"I have two more in storage." Berry Punch replies, tilting her head slightly. "Is that stallion you talk about one of your friends?"

"I won't call him a friend, more a fellow co-worker."

Berry nods, having an idea who her one-eyed friend talks about. "It's Spy right? He seems like a stallion with luxurious taste. Very much like the ponies at Canterlot, is he from there?" Demo gives her a questioning look, hm she guesses not if he does not recognize the name. "It's our capital, you can see it on top on the mountain up north." pointing at the location.

Ah, he has seen that city when the sky is clear. Looks like a fancy place, not for him but- "Spy's not from there, but I am sure he would like the place."

"Me too, I wouldn't though, bit too refined for me." Berry laughs and takes another sip of the wine. Speaking of Canterlot. "If you ever need an excuse going there, I do at time transport some of my homemade apple cider up there. It's stronger stuff compared to what the Apple family sells."

"I believe you." Demo grins and does think a delivery up there could be a good excuse checking the capital of this country out. "If you ever lack a delivery pony, I can help you out with it." Might as well get to see more of this place now they are stuck here. Who knows, maybe he finds something he— "What that racket?" He asks from that horrible sound coming from the streets. It sounds like his mother trying to sing the national song when drunk- which can shatter his scrumpy bottles. And he is sure Berry might have gotten more than just that wine if that racket makes her smile.
"Oh my gosh, is it time again?" Berry asks excited and hastily leaves the shop, leaving behind a very confused Demo. He follows her outside, finding the source of the horrible singing being an old green mare. Demo snorts amused, it seems like every old lady cannot sing. "Whose that?" He asks Berry Punch.

Oh right, he's not from around here and probably yet haven't met the Apples. "That's Granny Smith; she's the matriarch of the Apple family," Berry explains, watching the old mare heads towards a stand selling pots. "She is usually only this... vocal when it's Zap apple season."

Did he hear that right? "Zap apples?" Does this place has electric apples? If that's the case then he wants to see if they will create a shock-wave if greeting thrown. "What's a Zap apple?"

"The best apple you'll ever taste!" Berry exclaim joyous, it's a wonderful timing for she has just run out of zap apple cider too. "The Apple family are the only ones in Equestria who knows how to make them. And they can only harvest them once per year. When the harvest is done, I'll share a bottle Zap apple cider with you. trust me, it'll be the best cider you'll ever taste." She smiles at the still bit confused unicorn. Noticing this, Berry thinks that perhaps it is best the Apples explains him the deal. "What about you asks them the Zap apples? I'm sure they can tell you more about it."

"I'll do that." He replies for that zap apple stuff sounds both weird and glorious at the same time. He will ask them about it, but first, he needs to be sure that the Cakes doesn't need his aid anymore for today. He says bye to Berry Punch and trots off.

**

Demo couldn't return that day he first heard about Zap apples, the Cakes needed him all day. But the next he could have a day off and after have gotten the directions right, Demo heads over to the Apple Farm. Here he finds a light orange mare with a cowboy hat and a red big stallion walking around, both watering a glade of trees. He walks over to them, "Excuse me?" the two turn towards him. "Are you one of the Apples?"

"Sure are." The mare replies with a Southern accent, pointing at herself. "I'm Applejack, and this is Big Macintosh." Her brother gives the brown one a nod as a hello.

Guess like even in a world of sentient ponies there are Southern, oh Engie would be so proud. "Nice to meet you, I'm Demo." Demoman introduces himself before asking his question of the reason coming here. "Could you tell me what a Zap Apple is. Berry Punch suggested I should ask you about them."
the two- he presumes siblings eye one another, Applejack turns back to him with a small smile. "I can tell you: as long you allow me to work while doing it."
That he can do, help too if they would like. Demo suggests that and the siblings look both surprised but happy about it.

"Thanks for the help mister." Applejack says and gestures over to the wheelbarrow filled with watering cans. "Now if you could water these trees, I'll be happy tell you about Zap apples." Demo levitates two cans and Applejack leads him over to the tree needing watering as she explains. "Zap apples are a very special sort of apple, they only grow when certain signs occur. You see, they are made out of a special magic, both make them heavenly delicious but tricky to harvest."

"How's that?" Demo asks as he empties the second watering can.

Applejack nods up the blooming trees. "The Zap apples will disappear in a matter of hours after ripening. If we don't get them before that; we will have to wait until the signs appear again."

Alright, that sounds like a tricky crop to deal with but it also makes Demo here very curious about tasting those apples. This world is strange in some wondrous ways he must say.
He levitates two more watering cans but stops in his track for a moment when a pale yellow with bright red mane filly trots past him with a worried look on her face. This filly walks over to Applejack, sits and lift her hooves with a face there reminds Demo about a begging puppy.
The moment Applejack notices the filly, she sigh turns to her. "I'm sorry Applebloom," the filly's whole body posture drops. "I've already told you I just can't take a break from harvest and come to your school. You know what will happen."
The filly nods sadly. "I know... after the fifth day the Zap apples will disappear..." and just then a strong wind starts blowing and the sky gets clouded by hoards of ravens, much to a certain mercenary astonishment as the ponies looks like they have been expecting this. The old mare especially. With a speed beyond her age, that old pony Demo faintly remembers the name Granny Smith storms up beside her grandchildren; shouting like caught on fire. "The third sign!! Right on time!!"
Demo stares dumbfounded how the ravens fly in a certain pattern of a heart, more so when the trees around start blooming with electricity surrounding them. He admits that is quite a display.

"Alright, you lazy-daisies!" Granny Smith cries out, breaking the moment of awe. "Move your caboose!" and the elderly mare leaves in a pace way more suiting someone her years.
Applejack eyes her sister, giving the filly a small smile. "I'm sorry Applebloom, but don't you fret," after all, Granny Smith has seen a lot in her many years. "Granny has no shortage of entertaining stories to tell." She winks but that did not help on her sister's worries, in fact:
"I know... that's what I am worried about..." Applejack blinks, not sure why her sister is so worried about their grandmother has many stories. Before she can asks though, Applebloom leaves. Watching her sister for a moment, Applejack returns back to work, glancing at the stallion there came to help not long ago.

"The wee lass seems rather worried, eh?"

Applejack sighs in a nod, but she can't see what's her sister is so worried about. "I don't get why; Granny has so many good stories. I'm sure Applebloom's class will love to hear about them." The stallion Demo hums in thoughts for a moment, then turns his remaining eye to where her sister went. "I might know what is bothering the lass. If you don't mind, I would like to talk to her."
Applejack is a bit hesitant, this is a stranger she barely knows, but something about him makes her trust this stallion. She hears no ill will in his tone, he sounds honest that he wishes to help her sister. "Alright, she might be heading to her friends' clubhouse, it's located in a tree over there." Applejack points at the location.
Demo nods and heads towards the spot, leaving Applejack to wonder why she feels a strange sort of attachment to this stallion. Like she can see herself in him.

Finding the tree house is not hard, it is located just outside the glade of zap-apple trees. He finds the filly heading up the stairs to the tree house, he stops her before she goes through the door. "Can I have a word with you lass?" He asks up to the young girl, explaining his idea what is bothering her. "You're worried your granny will be an embarrassment for your fellow classmates." Applebloom winches slightly, looking slightly bad about having such thoughts. He brushes it off with a chuckle. "Don't worry, I won't tell. You see, I have a mother very much like your granny."

"You do?" Applebloom asks, taken by surprise of what this newcomer of a brown stallion is telling her.

Demo admits he is worried how his old mother is doing. He can only hope his clone is taking good care of her in his absence. It is sort of nice getting the extra hand, but Demo would've preferred his clone didn't visit his mother like he would. It always made it harder figuring out which one of them was the real deal, for apprently they also have the same memories of his childhood. His old mother had never been a help, for she couldn't spot the differences between the two. Pushing those feelings and thoughts asides; "Aye, my mother can be a bit overbearing at times. But if there is one thing I love doing with her; it is hear all the stories she has to tell about my great grandparents and what my grandfather did in his youth." He chuckles and does wish he could've met the man who blew up a whole castle and got away scot-free. The way his mother told him about his grandfather often made him think he and that old guy had a lot in common. Except for the eye thing.

Applebloom slowly walks back down to this other pony. "You think Granny has stories like your mother?" She asks carefully. The stallion nods, but she is still worried about the presentation. "But what if she does something embarrassing or forgets? I'll be the laughing stock in the class for the rest of my life!" Applebloom cries and just thinking about it makes her feel sick, the stallion puts a hood on her shoulder as a sign of comfort.

"We all do embarrassing stuff all the time, old ponies do it mostly because they tend to forget but you can't blame them for it." Demo says, thinking about his own mother forgetting her teeth some weird places. It could be embarrassing for a kid but nothing others will laugh about for ages, after all; that's just how old people- and talking colorful ponies are.

"Alright, I guess I can take Granny forgetting stuff..." Applebloom agrees quietly, she can after all not blame Granny forgetting in her old age. But that does not excuse what she finds mostly embarrassing, "but that's not what I am worried about."

"Then what is lass?"

But Applebloom can't describe it, he has to see what she is talking about. "You have to see it before you believe me." And takes the stallion back to the farm. Not sure it is luck or not that Granny is currently doing one of the embarrassing stuff: this time yelling at the jars with a military helmet on. She glances up to the brown coated stallion, winching in how he stares in trying to comprehend the scene. Then to her bigger embarrassment the stallion grins widely. "You see what I mean...?"

Okay, he did not expect this and can partly see this filly's problem. But he can't go over and make that old mare stop this. No, he is going to encourage it! "I have to get Solly," and he storms off, for the moment forgetting about poor Applebloom.
Demo hurries into town, he finds Spy speaking with a middle-aged mare with a scroll for a cutiemark. "Spy! Have you seen Soldier around lately?" He asks, trotting over to the shape-shifter.
Spy and the mare give him a confused look, the mare mostly as Spy does look more annoyed over the interruptions.

"He was lecturing some pony about his haircut the last time I saw him."

"Find him, the ponies of Sweet Apple Acers needs him." Demo urges the blue pegasi who looks almost offended being commanded around by a RED. Rolling his eye. "Just do it! Trust me, it will be worth your time."

"It better." Spy grumbles and takes to the sky. He and Solider arrive about ten minutes later. Barely landed, Demo tells the green pegasi with a very goofy face; as if trying to hold it straight but utterly failing. "Solly, there is an urgent discipline problem at Sweet Apple Acers and only you can help!"
Solider gets all excited and stepping into his drill sergeant mode. "Lead the way! I'll whip those maggots into line!" Spy, on the other hand, is starting to get the idea that whoever Demo has in mind to be disciplined by Solider will be a complete joke. And that is why he follows the two back to the apple farm.
Indeed it proves to be a joke as the 'troops' shows to be a bunch of jars.

Solider looks around after the troops, but not finding anyone but an old mare with a helmet on. Eyeing her, he presumes it is her but just as he's about to discipline her. Demo turns his head down to the jars.

"There are your troops, be sure to discipline them right."

He might not be the smartest, but even Soldier finds this stupid, he shoots his pal a glare. "You gotta be joking."

Demo really struggles to hold his face straight. "It is very important you discipline these rascals—right Granny Smith?" He asks the green old mare.

Taken a bit off guard someone else should do the discipline, Granny Smith nods. "That's darn right, if not told; the jars won't keep the jam fresh."

"They are jars!" Solider growls, glaring at the grinning Demoman. "I can't discipline jars!"

"you discipline bloody heads!"

"Yes, because they have ears! Jars do not have ears!" Soldier exclaims angrily. Not seeing Applebloom and her two friends appearing from upstairs to see what is going on.

Not wanting to waste a huge opportunity for a good laugh, Spy scribbles down three stars onto a paper and puts it onto Granny Smith's helmet. "Just go with it." He tells her and calls for Soldier's attention. The pissed green pony turns away from Demo and over to him. Spy points at the sticker on the elderly mare's helmet. "Don't come and tell me you're denying a higher officer, oh Solider how low the mighty has fallen." He taunts his fellow BLU.

Greatly offended by Spy's taunt, Soldier jumps at the blue pegasi, would've hit his teeth out but gets stopped by the old mare.

"Ten-hut Soldier!"

Looking up, Soldier is caught off guard seeing three stars- a higher officer before him. He let go of Spy and whacks himself over the head in his attempt saluting the one before him. "Ow!- Sorry, I didn't see you there sir- I mean ma'am!"

At times he loves that Soldier is so to deceive. "He's all yours." Spy says smugly from his spot on the floor.

Seeing what that fancy-pansy pegasus have been doing and deciding just go for it, Granny Smith points at the jars. "Discipline these troops for the Zap apple season, or you will be cleaning the whole farm for a week!" Stepping forward the saluting pegasi, glaring into his eyes with one of her closed. "Unless you cannot do it, is that it Cadet?!"

"NO SIR! I WILL DISCIPLINE THE TROOPS SO THEY CAN PLAY THE AMERICAN SONG WHEN I'M DONE!!" Solider shouts and turns to the jars, now so caught up in the moment that he did not see how stupid what he is about to do. "Men, we have a grave fight ahead of us. And that is keeping the jam soon in you fresh and delicious! And I will not accept any failure, do I make myself clear?!"

Applebloom and her friends carefully walk up beside Demo and Spy; both grinning at the ridicules of the whole scene. "What's going on?" Applebloom asks up to them and blinks at the brown stallion replying.
"Helping your granny discipline the jars."

Now so caught up in the moment like when he disciplined those heads, no longer seeing jars but soldiers. Soldiers heard his men haven't shouted 'yes, sir' loud enough. "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" He stomps on the table, the shock going through it made one of the jars crack. In his delusion, he thought that soldier has passed out. "Is that weakness I see there private?!" He grabs the trembling soldier- cracking the jar further between his hooves. "COWARDLY MAGGOTS LIKE YOU DO NOT DESERVE THE UNIFORM!!" and hurls the jar into the nearby wall, smashing it to pieces. But he is not done, stomping over to the broken pieces he yells down to the shards. "And that is a fact!"

By then neither Spy or Demo can hold it back anymore, both drops onto the floor, howling in laughter from that whole scene. Spy laughs so hard that he starts snorting, and that makes the three fillies start laughing.

Solider blinks, snapping out from his delusions and realize that the cadet he lectured has been a jar all this time. He grumbles at the two laughing on the floor, just knowing they will make fun of this for weeks. Well, not on his watch! "Let's see how funny you find it with both your num-skulls cracked!" and with a battle cry, Soldier charges at them.

Spy and Demo, both wise enough to get the hell away from the pissed Solider's take the run for it, although having trouble getting too far ahead because they are still laughing so hard.

Applebloom, Sweetie Bell, and Scootalo all stare at the door where the three stallions were three seconds ago. Meanwhile, Granny Smith looks over the jars and is very satisfied in what she sees. "He did a good job that Solider. Jar's never been more ready for the Zap apple jam!" Snapping the fillies out from their confusions of what just happen, the three turn their gaze back to Granny Smith; now cleaning up the jar Solider broke.

'maybe Granny isn't so bad' Apple Bloom thinks in her careful optimism, after all, Granny Smith wasn't as loud or... imaginative that Solider was. Good thing he wasn't the one having to come tomorrow.

Back in Ponyville, Solider has calmed enough down that he didn't try and kill the two others, now all three walking more or less calmy through the town. Didn't stop Soldier from glaring at Spy and Demoman for fooling him like that though. "Discipline troops my ass..."

"Worth it." Demo grins, elbowing the sulking pegasus on the side. "You did a good job, Solly. "

"And made a nice fool out of yourself." Spy remarks, he really wishes he had a camera for the whole scene.

Demo levitates Spy away. "Shut up Franchise." Turning back to Soldier. "It looked mighty important for that old mare, and knowing you." Smiling to his best pal, "you had as much fun yelling at jars as when you yell at your heads."

"God don't remind me of those..." Spy gags of the mere thought, he never wanted to know but still saw how his head would look like after have been rotting for a week.

Solider snorts at Spy's weak stomach. "Pansy," now it is his turn laughing at the annoyance of another. He must admit if looking past the ridicules: it was enjoyable pretending to be a drill sergeant again.

Chapter Text

"Incoming!"

The ponies standing near town hall all look up before fleeing when a big female manticore lands on top of the building, roaring enraged up to the sky, all pegasi except one flee as well. Soldier does not, instead of the grinning and military dressed (thanks to Rarity) pegasus plunges down towards the roaring beast with his own battle-cry: "SCREAMING EAGLES!" and headbutts the manticore right in the face. The roof crashes under the force and both beast and pegasus fall through. The surrounding ponies all tip on their hooves nervously of the roaring and screaming coming from inside. All worried if this new pegasus stallion can handle the manticore on his own.

The moment those ponies able to fight hear the news, Twilight, Rainbow Dash and Demo hurries over to the fight, but there is no need for them to worry. For about a second after their arrival; the manticore breaks through the roof again, fleeing from Soldier there flies out from the same hole; yelling at it: "Come back here bat- kitty! I did not grant you permission you leaving!!" But the manticore has gotten enough beating by this pony and right now would like to go home and lick its wounds and pride. Soldier lands on the half-destroyed roof, which breaks under him and he crashes back into the building. Rainbow flies up to the hole, hearing this brave but kinda stupid stallion has once again forgotten he has wings as seconds later the sound of him crashing to the floor; followed by; "Gravity no...!"

Rainbow Dash rolls her eyes before turning back down to the two unicorns. "He's fine," and flies down to help him. Twilight informs everypony the situation is under control, letting Demo go inside and check on his friend. Demo finds Soldier standing on his hooves, wobbling a bit unsure but grinning widely from the crash he just has recovered from.
The rainbow maned pony rolls once again her eyes at Soldier, however, this time she is smiling. "Next time you fight a manticore, you better invite me." She tells him, and the stallion turns to her with a wicked grin.

Twilight decides to step in before these two reckless ponies end up charging into the forest; asking for a fight. "I don't think that's such a good idea, this single attack has completely ruined town's hall!" The two pegasi follow her hoof up to the two large holes in the town hall's roof. Rainbow Dash then turns to Soldier who is now poking his face with his hoof. "She got a point." And claps the warrior pegasus on the back. "Good luck with the repairs; you going to need it," and flies off before Soldier realizes what she has just said.
Twilight rolls her eyes with Demo letting out a weak laugh, both very aware that Soldier will only make it worse if he tries to repair something, the fence around Derpy's house incline that fact. It's a wonder how it can even stand.
"Better speak with Mayor Mare about the repairs," Twilight says to her fellow unicorn, leaving the hall with the request. "Can you make sure Soldier doesn't destroy the place further?"

"Aye, I can do that." Demo agrees, walking over to his friend trying and utterly failing to pick his nose with a hoof. Taking him away from the building is easy enough; a promise of a victory drink at Berry Punch and Soldier are golden. Demo is, however, a bit disappointed that he couldn't have joined Soldier in that fight.
This place might look soft and cuddly but this pony filled world has a lot of interesting and quite dangerous creatures. Must admit the ponies are tougher than they first appear, for looking around; the local ponies are already returning back to their routine; not one bit traumatized by the manticore attack. In fact, these random attacks and building destructions seem more like a minor nuisance for the ponies- exactly like getting back from respawn after being blown up was for RED and BLU team.

With Demo keeping Soldier busy it gives Twilight the time to talk with Mayor Mare about the broken roof and is relieved the Mayor did not wish to charge Soldier for the destruction.

"He did protect us from that manticore," Mayor Mare says and usually such destructions aren't really such a big of a deal since Equestrian taxes did ensure they could hire builder ponies when collaboration damage such as this occurs. However, as fate would have it. "But we do not have any more money in the construction vault until next full moon. We used it all up when that dragon attacked." Major Mare explains.

Twilight shift a bit embarrassed on her hooves since that dragon attack feels a bit like her fault, Spike is after all her responsibility. But what done is done and although she could ask Celestia for an extra fund, Twilight has no wish in making the princess play favorite with any of the towns. So it seems, the town hall has to stay like this for a while.

(two days later)

With Applejack's departure to compete in Equestria rodeo just around the corner and the farm pony has offered to give her prize money for the repairs of the town hall. Major Mare thought it would only fit if she and rest of Ponyville send her off with a small celebration.
Two of the better artist of Ponyville paints a beautiful banner with Applejack on, which Rainbow Dash and Derpy is tasked with hanging up on the town hall. However, Rainbow Dash becomes the pony there has to do it since Derpy has completely forgotten her task when she realized how bouncy a thundercloud is.

"Careful Derpy!" the rainbow mane pegasus calls up to the grey mare after almost gotten her tail fried by the lightning bolt Derpy accidentally send her way, instead, that bolt leaves another hole in the already destroyed town hall. As it turns out; that grey pegasus can be just as destructive as the stallion she house.
Flying up to the bouncing pegasus, Rainbow Dash reminds Derpy "We can't have you do more damage than your roommate has already done." pointing at the town hall with a roof now so destroyed that rest of it crashes down inside.

Derpy winches of the sound and sight rest of the roof falling but are quickly forgotten. "I just don't know what went wrong." She replies, still very oblivious SHE has caused half of the destruction of the town hall. The grey mare starts jumping onto the thundercloud again, sending out more bolts of lightning until her fur and hair gets so charged jumping on it for so long that she gets one heck of a shock of electricity. But even half-fried by the lightning, Derpy still wobbles onto the cloud with an innocent smile of oblivious.

"Yeah, it's a complete mystery." Rainbow Dash replies her sarcastically, sure Derpy means good, but sometimes that pony has too many bobbles between her ears.

Derpy flies off the cloud to get a better look at the banner for Applejack, "It looks so nice, well done Rainbow Dash." She beams to the sky blue pegasus and didn't see the remnants of a pole holding the roof, only did when she flew into it, toppling it over.
Rainbow Dash tries to save the rest of the building by grabbing the falling pole, only too late realizes it's too heavy for her and she and the pole crash onto the balcony; creating another hole in the building. Concerned about Rainbow Dash's wellbeing, Derpy flies down, calling into the hole the rainbow-haired pony fell through "You alright Rainbow Dash? Anything I can do to help?" Before she can suggest fetching an aid kit from nurse Redheart, Rainbow is up from the hole and right before her, yelling almost anguished. "NO! NOTHING!"

Rainbow calms herself just enough to not yell herself hoarse at this very clumsy pony. "In the name of Celestia; just sit there and do nothing!" Derpy did but as luck just would have it, that exact spot had loose planks so when Derpy sat, they broke and before Rainbow realized it, the grey pegasus grabs her and pulls them both back inside the town hall. The landing isn't exactly comfy as both she and Derpy lands on the pile of wood tiles there used to be the roof.

"Whoops, my bad!" Derpy apologizes smiling with a tile lying over her head, giving the half-buried in wood Rainbow a goofy smile. Rainbow grumbles in response. "Ugh, forget it..." She flies out from the rubble, and back out so she- closely followed by Derpy can watch half of Ponyville are awaiting Mayor Mare do her speech to Applejack. "We are all here to send Applejack to compete in year's Equestria's rodeo competition in Canterlot!" The crowd starts to cheer loudly at the orange pony on the scene, Applejack bows her head as humble thanks to the cheering crowd.
Mayor Mare then tells the citizens of Ponyville that Applejack has been so kind to donate all her prize money for the repairs of Townhall. When Derpy heard this, she cheers loudly, "Yay, Applejack! Wooo!" and forgot she hung onto the hole in the floor, making her crash right back into the building again.

Rainbow Dash doesn't even bother lecturing Derpy about not destroying town hall anymore, she decides just to ignore said grey pony and the destruction she's causing, listens to the speech of Applejack down on the ground.

"This here is the nicest send-off anypony could ask for. You all have been cheering me on every rodeo ever since I was a little-little pony." Applejack thanks the residents of Ponyville, many of them are ponies she calls friends and all of them are smiling up to her. "So it seems only fitting that I will use my winnings to fix up Town Hall." she tells mostly Mayor Mare who looks so thankful for this generous donation, and as the last touch: "I promise to make Ponyville proud!" the crowd starts cheering again and Applejack feel very honored living in such an encouraging place. With the speech said and everything ready. Applejack tells her goodbye's to her family and friends, promising Granny Smith she will show everypony what a real rodeo pony looks like.

"See you in a week!" Rainbow Dash says, closely followed by Apple Bloom, "be sure to return new blue ribbons."

"And lots of money!" Mayor Mare calls.

Applejack promises she will and as the train leaves, she waves goodbye to her friends.

(a week later)

After a failed surprise party and the letter, Applejack isn't coming home. Twilight and friends fear something horrible has happened to her and decide they will go out and find their missing friend.
On their way to Canterlot, they find Demo there explains them he has been doing some deliveries for both the Cakes and Berry Punch at Canterlot.

"You don't happen to have seen Applejack on your trips?" Rarity asks the stallion.

Demo has to think about it for a moment, there are a lot of ponies in that fancy place, most of them being unicorns. "Hm, I can't recall seeing her; earth ponies in Canterlot is bit of a rare sight." He admits to the five mares.

Twilight nods in agreement, she has, after all, lived most of her life in the capital.

"I can help you with the search, though." Demo suggests, thinking he could ask the ponies he will be doing deliveries to. "One of the ponies I need deliver to did mention he would be at the rodeo."

"If you don't mind," Fluttershy says quietly, the one-eyed stallion laughs and tells her with a quite friendly grin. "Not one bit. Applejack is a fine lass, and I am sure her family misses her."

"Thank you Demo, we really appreciate it." Twilight thanks him grateful for this another world pony- or human, whatever, was willing to give them a hoof.

(Canterlot)

As promised, Demo asks the different ponies about Applejack's whereabouts, but gets nothing out from it, not even the one there has been to the Rodeo knows where Applejack has gone.
"I only saw that mare at the competitions." The stallion explained and after has paid for the ciders, leaves Demo on the street. So Demo heads over to the rodeo show, hoping the mares had better luck than him.
They had; a single mare has seen where Applejack went after the competition, but like them; Demo too is quite surprised hear that Applejack has gone to a town called Dodge Junction. So with no other leads than from that mare at the rodeo, the group takes the next train to the town.
Before boarding the train, Demo buys a crate filled with different forms of cider as this is going to be a long ride.

"I hope this lead doesn't turn out to be a dead end," Rainbow Dash says and takes the apple cider from the crate with a small hope it will soothe her worries. "I don't want to go empty hoofed after we promised them we would find her."

"I don't know how we would break it to the Apple family..." Fluttershy muses softly, she waves a polite no thanks for the offered cider drink.

Twilight takes one of the very tame ciders, telling her friends worried. "I don't know how we would break it to Ponyville-"

"I don't know if I'm going to make it to the next stop!" Pinkie Pie whines, she has been drinking too much and now her bladder really needs a relive.

Demo levitates one of the stronger ciders, not as good as his scrumpy but its still good stuff. "I told you not drink too many lassie. Unlike me, you can't—"

"Please don't finish that..." Twilight cuts off Demo's sentence, thinking that now it's really not the time for toilet humor.
Demo glances at her with a smile, which Twilight responses by rolling her eyes and turns her attention to the outside. She smiles at what is approaching. "Good timing, we have arrived in Dodge Junction."
The train stops moments later and the group walks out. "Let's fan out and try and find Applejack," Twilight says, but before they can do that, Pinkie storms past them and b-line over to the nearby toilet.
Ignoring Pinkie and the laughing Demo for a moment, Twilight heads over to some of the local ponies. "Excuse me," they turn to her and she levitates a picture of Applejack over to them. "Have you seen—"
just about there Pinkie returns. "I found her, I found her, I found her, I found her!" The pink pony charts joyfully, jumping around the group.
Twilight and the others follow Pinkie and indeed find Applejack, such a relief seeing their friend alright.

"Oh Applejack, thank heavens!" Rarity says in great relief.

The same with Fluttershy. "We're so glad you are safe." Before turning her gaze over to Pinkie who jumps up and down, still charting she found Applejack. Then the pink pony realizes she still hasn't relieved herself and hurries over to the toilet. Turning away from that scene Fluttershy and her friends follow Applejack there asks them a bit confused "Hey everypony, what's up?"

"Why didn't you come back to Ponyville!" Rainbow Dash exclaims annoyed how laidback Applejack is from seeing them.

"Yes and why here?" Rarity asks, gesturing out to this dusty place of a town.

"Your family is worried about you." Demo points out, although busier checking the crate for more ciders.

Fluttershy walks up to Applejack, asking worriedly. "Is something wrong?" glancing to Pinkie and would like to tell the pink pony that now isn't really the time to ask about snacks, but is too nervous speaking her thoughts, so she keeps quiet.

Twilight, on the other hand, did not keep quiet and asks worried yet also a bit demanding. "Tell us what happened." Her worry increases when Applejack hesitates a painfully long time. Before she can ask what is bothering her, another voice asks.

"Applejack, are these some of your Ponyville friends?" A cream-colored mare with thick, curly cherry colored hair asks.

"Yes, ma'am." Twilight replies this new mare, walking over to her along with Rarity there decides to ask how she knows Applejack. "And you are?"

The mare smiles, "Why I am Cherry Jubilee, boss of Cheery Hill Ranch. Hasn't Applejack told ya?" She asks the friends of Applejack, it is a bit confusing for her employee sure did talk highly about her friends at the rodeo. Speaking of which "never saw anypony win so many ribbons in all of my life." She declares to the surrounding ponies. Applejack, being such a modest pony brushes her accomplishment off, but Cherry Jubilee knows that pony deserves every one of her praises and is very proud she both had been watching and now has this fine and strong mare working for her. "So when I heard Applejack was looking for a change of scenery. I snatched her up as quick as I could and brought her to Dodge Junction." But now she thinks she has been wasting enough of their time. "Well, I'll let you catch up with your friends," and leaves them to attend to her own duties at her cherry ranch.

It is clear that Applejack is nervous this would happen and in Rainbow Dash's mind; she has every right being so. "Change of scenery?" She demands the orange earth pony highly irritated about this whole thing. "What's what suppose to mean?!" Here they thought Applejack was in harm's way or something, but instead, they find her practically working at some Cherry farm for no apparent reason other than worrying everpony- her family included back in Ponyville.

"It's no big deal, guys." Applejack brushes Rainbow Dash off. "I thought cherries would be a nice change for apples." she explains and steps away from the blue pegasus and wants to make it clear that NOTHING is wrong. "So I took the job and came here. That's it; end of story."

"That's it?" Pinkie Pie asks in disbelief from such a vague explanation. "That's a terrible story."
Demo nods in agreement, his bottle forgotten at the moment.

"Sorry, but that's there all to tell. Thanks for checking on me, you can go home now." Applejack tells them and leaves her friends so she can get to work on the cherry ranch. "Tell my family hi and I am doing a-okay."

He may not look like it, but Demo is very good catching on the hidden meaning behind people's tone of voice and body language. He still has a bit of trouble with ponies but has learned certain twitch ponies does when tense or nervous. Example an Earth pony has a tendency scraping their hooves over the ground, as they seemly have a closer connection to the earth itself. And Applejack's left back hoof twitched against the ground a lot. Not only is she tense about them being here, but from how she refuses to meet her friend's eyes and brushes them off with minimum explanation. Demo has the feeling that something at the rodeo went very wrong. What, he is not yet sure.

Like the rest, Rainbow Dash did not buy Applejack explanation one bit. "Excuse me AJ," the pegasus lands before the earth pony, blocking her path and pushes her back to the others with the hard words. "but we didn't travel over half of Equestria searching for you and going home without you!"

"Well, I didn't ask you coming looking for me!" Applejack snaps back. For when getting pushed, it does not lie in her nature just taking it and has a tendency kicking back. Angrily she passes by Rainbow Dash, hoping they just get the hint she does not want them here! "There is nothing to tell and I am NOT going back to Ponyville!" and gallops off before they try to argue with her again.

"I don't care what's she says; Applejack is not telling us something," Twilight says, irritated about this situation just as much as the four other mares- except Fluttershy, she's more worried of what is causing Applejack's behavior.

Rainbow Dash agrees on whole heartily. "Twilight's right, we gotta get her to spill the beans!"

"WHAT?!" Pinkie Pie stuffs her head up against Rainbow Dash. "She had beans?" Pinkie exclaims to then groan loudly. "I told her I would snack it!" Quote to everpony gives Pinkie a deadpan look, well, except Demo. He is trying to wrap his head around how Pinkie is able to stretch out her neck is if it's made out of rubber.

"Perhaps we should speak with her." Rarity suggests.

Twilight nods and smiles of how they can talk with Applejack with the pony unable to get away. "And I think I got the perfect idea." Her plan is rather simple: get hired by Cherry Jubilee and talk with Applejack while working.

(an hour later)

Well, that plan of getting Applejack to talk didn't go as hoped. Twilight thinks as she, along with the others clean up the mess their talk with the earth pony caused. But really, all their talk did was enraging Applejack and causing a huge mess in form of smashed cherries. "Well girls- and sir." Twilight starts, cleaning the smashed cherries off the floor. "We seem to be striking out..."

"That's because we're too nice!" Rainbow Dash points out.

Finishing up cleaning the conveyor belt, Rarity must agree with Rainbow Dash. "Yes, desperate times call for desperate measures."

Demo throws a now cherry filled cloth into the water bucket. "Let me talk with her." he tells the mares, Rainbow, Rarity and Twilight give him a look, with Rainbow saying slightly hesitant, "No offense, but I doubt you can make her talk. We need the big gun." Eyeing Pinkie Pie there is oblivious to the conversation, too busy licking off the cherry sauce off the window. Demo knows what the pegasus means, Pinkie can be a torture when she first really starts talking. It probably will work, but- "Let me try first, I think... I think I understand what is troubling her." He tells the mares.

They blink, except Pinkie- she's still too busy licking off cherry. Fluttershy flies away from the conveyor wheel, asking him quietly. "What is it?"

"Sorry lassies but I can't explain it." Demo apologizes, for in reality: "it's more a feeling than a thought."

Can it be? Twilight thinks quietly; wonders if Demo here does feel a connection to Applejack because he perhaps is connected to her Element of Harmony? Maybe, and definitely, something she thinks needs to be tested. "Alright, talk with her," she tells the brown stallion.

Demo nods and leaves the factory to find a certain orange colored pony. He finds her bucking the trees, letting the cherries fall into the baskets she has placed around it. Taking a deep breath, Demo walks over to her.
The moment Applejack sees him, she scowls deeply in disapproval seeing him here. "I told you: I don't want to-"
"I won't asks any question lass." Demo interrupts her, he can see that doing so will only lead to further irritations from her and that won't solve anything. He levitates the two cherry filled baskets and without a word, returns them to the ranch. He heads back to her with two empty baskets and places them underneath another tree. Applejack watches him suspiciously but does start bucking the tree and lets the unicorn returns the filled baskets back to the ranch.

Twilight walks outside from the factory, watching Demo quietly help Applejack with the cherry farming, she does turn away from the scene when Rainbow Dash flies up before her; asking annoyed "What's the point in this? He's doing nothing but than making her stay."
"Give him a chance," Twilight tells her, turning back to the scene and noticing that Applejack is starting to relax around the one-eyed stallion.

"Another job on the list I never thought I would do." Demo remarks after have returned another pair of baskets for Applejack, the mare gives him a look and a raised eyebrow. He returns it with a smile. "Beleive it or not, but the list is long of what jobs I have been doing. Most of them include explosives."

Applejack hesitates but decides to join the conversation since Demo isn't talking about her. "Did you get fired since you have been through so many jobs?"

"A few of them I got fired from." He levitates the baskets closer to the tree. "But most of them I held at the same time. Before I came here, I was mainly hired as an explosive expert, when that duty was over though, I worked as the team's delivery man and on the weekends I was a bartender."

Stopping her tree bucking, Applejack stares at the stallion with mouth half agape. "How did you manage all of those jobs?"

Demo shrugs. "My family is good at multitasking. Mum often told stories how my old man could keep ten jobs."

"You're joking." Applejack gasps, but from the gleam in his eye, she can see that he told her the truth but isn't sure if his mother had been exaggerated on that fact or not. Returning back in the bucking. "I know it's not really my place to say this; but... perhaps you should turn a bit down on the many jobs." And here she thought she was busy with that apple bucking season she took over for Big Mac.

"I'll try and keep that in mind lass." Demo replies and levitates the full basket back to the ranch when returning with a new pair, he says. "Still I do like being proactive, almost as much I love my scrumpy."

Applejack chuckles lightly at this, yes it is rare she hasn't seen this unicorn walk about with some sort of fermented ciders. She must admit she do at times enjoy a drink or two, "Perhaps I will join you from time to time, I am a bit of a lightweight, though." She warns him, for the first time having a genuine smile after her friends found her here.

Demo barks out a laugh. "No worries, I'll be sure not offering you the strongest ciders and if you do happens to get too drunk. We just say I did all the stupid stuff."

"I appreciate that." Applejack smiles amused but do highly doubt she will get that drunk. Then again, she never knows with this stallion. They work in a sort of comfortable silence for a while, broken when Demo makes a very startling statement.

"You didn't win any money, right." He is certain he guessed right from how Applejack stiffens up. He levitates the filled baskets, telling her calmly. "I know the feeling; not wanting to disappoint those depending on you. But I am sure I have it easier than you; no many people want to depend on a drunken fool like me." and heads over to return the filled baskets, does stop when Applejack asks him to. "Don't tell them." She practically begs him.
Demo turns so he can see her and notices how tense and fearful she looks, she must be more worried being a disappointment for Ponyville than he thought. "My lips are sealed." He ensures her and returns the baskets to the factory, completely ignoring the other ponies. So far only Twilight seems to trust him talking with Applejack and he is happy she makes the others let him do this. He doesn't know why, but he feels a strange sort of connection to Applejack. Like he is dealing with a sort of sister he never knew about.
Returning back to Applejack, Demo notices she hasn't moved from her spot. "What's on your mind lass?" he asks her and puts down the baskets.

Why does she feel like she can trust this stallion? Like she has known him for years but very certain she hasn't. Trusting her gut about Demo, Applejack finally opens up her reason coming here. "You're right... I didn't win any prize money, and after that big send-off Ponyville gave me... I- I just didn't have the nerve coming back empty hoofed." She drops her head in regret and feeling like a complete failure. "I couldn't come home like a failure." She feels a hoof on her back, looking up her green eyes meet Demo's single brown, the stallion has a genuine smile on his face. "You are not a failure Applejack. And if you tell this to your friends; they will tell you the very same thing."
Applejack is touched by his words, hearing honesty in them but even if her friends accept she won't return with any money. "But what about the mayor?" She asks him, gesturing to the cherry trees surrounding them. "That's why I came here to earn some. I don't think I can face her without the money I promised her to fix up town hall's roof."

"Well, Soldier was the one who broke it in the first place, so it should've been him fixing it." Demo muses, to then chuckle weakly of the deadpan look Applejack gives him; she is just as aware as anyone else that Soldier will just make it worse if he tries to fix what he has destroyed. "Right, bad idea. I am sure the mayor wouldn't mind that you didn't win any money, you did your best and that's what counts. But-" he gives the orange mare a toothy smile "if you really want to return with some money, I am sure your friends are more than happy to help you out."

That has been the words she desperately needed to hear, something she couldn't see because of her worries and pride. "Thank you Demo, I really needed hearing that." She touches his shoulder lightly, but jerks away when a light appears from the touch and when the light fades; a silver necklace with an orange gem in form of a strange spike ball is around Demo's neck. She is startled seeing this necklace around the stallion's neck, more so when she recognizes the feeling of her Element of Honesty beaming inside of her. The two stare at one another for a moment, then, Applejack laughs and gives the brown one-eyed stallion a one-armed hug around the neck. "I thought there was something special about you!" and now she can see why she felt a sort of connection with him.

Demo gives her a weak smile, not entirely sure what is going on. All he knows that whatever it is, this necklace appearance and the bond between him and Applejack finally confirmed; this is a good thing.
His nervous smile gets replaced with a genuine cheer and he asks her. "Ready to face your friends?"

"Sure thing partner." Applejack nods and together with her fellow Element of Honesty bearer, she walks over to tell her friends why she hasn't gone home after the rodeo. She and her friends return back to Ponyville two days later with a decent bag of money which Mayor Mare gets to the town hall roof, all thanks to her friends united teamwork at the cherry ranch. Applejack feels proud she somewhat kept her promise, and also so happy be back with her family again.

Demo watches the scene from a small distance, glad on Applejack's behalf and hope his clone is taking care of his own family in form of his mother.

***

In the human world, the BLU Demoman is not only filled with a very strange but also good feeling, like something has awakened inside of him. That strange feeling is however quickly pushed aside as he has decided to spend the weekend's ceasefire being with his mother. He really wants to be with her and can endure her nagging finding another job, for after all; he still loves her very much.

Chapter Text

She finds herself walking down the streets of Canterlot, and although she wants to, she cannot stop her slow walk. She cannot stop and help her subjects getting consumed by shadows in form of insects. They are screaming, pleading her to help them, but she can't. something is keeping her from helping them and when looking down, she realizes it's because she is trapped, held back by a greenish substance and no matter how much she struggles: she cannot get free.
Her subjects cry fades as the shadows swallow them, and out from the shadows, a horse at her height- for a short moment she fears it is Nightmare Moon, but then realizes this one looks different- closer to a bug than a nightmare pony. This newly arrived pony stops right before her, smirking at her failure of being unable to help her subjects. Behind this shadow forming bug horse, another stand, at first that one looks very much like the smaller bug shadows, but then a flash of light, a light of hope in all of this despair before the leader of these bug ponies spins around and strikes it.

Celestia jerks her head up from her sleep, taking a moment to compose herself from this very strong and scary vision. It has been ages since she last got such a powerful vision of approaching danger. Thinking about it, the last time that happens, it had been when... Luna turned into Nightmare Moon. She had been a fool ignoring the signs back then, and Celestia doubts she can use the excuse that she did not fully understand the nature of these visions of an approaching future back then. Yes, she was young and still new on the whole ruler over a country thing. But that haven't stopped her and Luna defeating Discord. But she is not a young adult anymore, she is over a thousand years old and has been Equestria sole protector before Twilight and her friends became the bearers of the Elements of Harmony.
Knowing she won't be getting any more sleep for tonight, Celestia leaves the bed, not bothering taking on her royal jewelry and leaves her room to find the only other pony who can get such visions. Celestia at least thinks only she and Luna get visions of an approaching future. She hasn't heard of the three common pony races mention it, and Cadence would've said it if she got such visions as they can at times be quite disturbing. so Celestia thinks this ability is something only the immortal alicorn she and Luna are getting. It at times like this she wishes that she and Luna weren't the only ones left of their kind, she wishes she could ask an older alicorn advice about how to rule a whole country or help to decipher these warnings through the visions. But like anything else, she has been forced to figure it out on her own- well, not entirely on her own anymore.
"Luna?" She calls out to the balcony where her younger sister often works on her magic of dreams.

Luna's horn stops glowing its nightly blue and the younger alicorn turns and is surprised to see her sister up at these hours. "Tia? Why are you up this late?" She asks, turning fully around to face her older sister.

"You didn't see the vision?" Celestia asks, trying her best hiding her disappointment for she really can't explain it in words.

That was a vision? She thought it was only a dream made from her own worries. "I saw it." Luna tells her sister, thinking it's best not voicing her thoughts she thought it was a nightmare of her past actions. Brushing her own worries aside, she must admit, "but I do not know what it means..." As she had been too focused on the shadows in the vision.

Oh good, she saw it, makes it a bit easier. "Visions are often very obscure." She explains her sister. "I am not sure why but I have the feeling it's because the future is never certain, not set in stone and thus changes all the time depending on someone's actions."

"Makes sense," Luna says and it does also explain why they happen in the dream realm. So now the question. "What did you make of it?"

Celestia turns her gaze out to the streets of Canterlot, only very few ponies outside at this time, rest of them are sleeping peacefully inside their houses. Part of that vision was clear for once. "An invasion is coming to Canterlot."

Luna follows her gaze down to the streets, still not happy that so few likes her nights. She wishes... pushing those thoughts aside, Luna instead focus on how they could stop this upcoming invasion. "We should prepare; warn out captains of the Royal Guard, tighten up the security." That will at least make it harder for this invasion to happen,

"Yes, I will speak with them in the morning." Celestia agrees on Luna's suggestion, the vision didn't tell when this invasion would happen but she would much rather be prepared and seen as paranoid than doing nothing at all. That does partly solve the threat of an invasion, but that last part of the vision keeps drawing her attention. "Before it ended, I saw a pony among the threat. At first, it was part of the invasion and... I am unsure what caused it suddenly to turn against its ruler, but I think it is very important we find this pony."

That part she did not see. Luna eyes her sister in wonder what that sign meant, it could be an ally but- "We cannot risk searching for this ally on our own. Unless somepony just happens to know about this threat and this hidden ally come to us, there is little we can do."

Again Luna speaks the truth, without knowing who that pony is, then finding them is like searching a hidden gem among a pile of rocks. She nods in agreement with her sister's words. It did not ease completely her mind, but at least now, thanks to Luna; Celestia does at least have bit of a plan. "Thank you, sister. I really needed this talk."

Luna nods, telling her after a moment of hesitating. "You should get some rest." And trying her very utmost not letting her dismay of this fact show in her voice. "A lot of ponies depend on you." Celestia nods and heads back inside, leaving Luna to her own thoughts again.

 

*human world*

(hours later)

With the lack of two of their members, the BLU team got thrown up and down the battleground by the RED team and it did not help on the mood that the Administrator still nagged them to find their missing members. What did she think they could do? None of them knew how they disappeared in the first place.

But part of that mystery would get solved today.

A familiar face for the BLU's walk towards the base; a small, crouched man with a hooked nose, a constant bluish tint around the eyes; making him look constantly sick or tired. His black hair has several silver linings and greasy from not have gotten a bath for weeks. It is hard to see because of the black shirt, but if looking closely, three holes from a gun can be seen, however, no blood, only some greasy stuff looking like oil are on his clothing. This man, eyes unfocused walks slowly past the BLU Sniper's camper, not seeing the man he harassed by calling him a madman a few months back.

Sniper however recognizes that half-wit and what that interview did. That man gave the Administrator the information about his parents which she used to blackmail him if he ever goes over the line, then she knows where his family lives. And seeing the man, Sniper highly consider put a bullet through that wanker's head. But does reconsider when their team's Pyro passes by. Sniper usually wants a clean kill on those he hunts, but he can be incredibly cruel when pissed off. And that Director has managed to piss this hunter very much off. "Oi Pyro."
The masked maniac turns around to him, their always masked head tilted in wonder. Sniper points at the man slowly walking towards the RED base.

At first not sure what Sniper wants, Pyro stares at the slow walking man. Then realizes what it is and runs into the base to fetch the flamethrower.

Sniper smirks as Pyro follows the man out to the now quiet battlefield, waiting to hear the screams of someone getting burned alive.

Flames spew out from the flamethrower, engulfing the unaware man. In Pyro's broken mind, they do not see a defenseless human being, instead, they see a small baby angel, cheering for the rainbows Pyro fires at them from their rainblower. However unlike most other angels, Pyro cheers up with rainbows, the rainbows attach themselves to this angel, making it grow up to a bigger and prettier one. Pyro titles their head in wonder at this sight. The angel does look a bit confused by this change at first. Then turns around to Pyro and after a moment of the two just staring at one another; the Angel giggles happily. "More!" It says cheerfully.
Pyro obliges and blows more rainbows at the angel which makes it happier. Pyro cheers along with it, but is a bit sad they have run out of rainbows.
"More rainbows my friend!" The angel cheers but Pyro cannot give the angel anymore. Their good look-alike friend can though.
the RED Pyro runs up to them, spraying the Angel and BLU Pyro with rainbows. The angel laughs with the rainbows surrounding him, he takes a handful of the rainbows, forming into a snowball and throws it at the Engie and Medic Angel, both flying away with the rainbow.
RED and BLU Pyro clap their hands in excitement, wanting to see more of it.

(in the real world)

"Why the hell doesn't that guy die?!" RED Scout demands, he refuses to admit it out loud but watching some guy getting torched by both Pyros and not even flinching is scary as hell.

The man stares at the fire surrounding both him and the masked one, yet even with the flames licking up his skin, no harm comes to him. Slowly he starts to remember why and his main reason coming here. The man sticks his hand into the flames and as if they are a mass for him, he hurls a fireball right into the BLU building, hitting both the BLU Engineer and Medic. Not even torched bones can be seen when the fire dies out. The rest of the BLU team flees into their base to avoid more fire-balls if the guy decides to attack again. The man does but the metal of BLU's base stops him from torching the place, so he turns to RED's wooded base and hurls a fireball at it, a large chunk of the base gets lit on fire.

Scout lets out a girly scream, both from this guy could throw fire but also because that fire-ball hit a tad too close his location for comfort.

RED Sniper runs past him, aiming his sniper rifle at the fire surrounded man. That strange man has turned to the two Pyros; both too busy admiring the fire to notice the apparent threat. The man reaches out to RED Pyro, and although Sniper doesn't consider the firebug a friend or someone he would like to be close to, he still wants his fellow teammate to be safe. However, before he gets the chance pulling the trigger. The fire surrounding the man turns into an inferno, killing both the Pyros as not even their fire protective suits can protect them from these flames. This inferno looks to come alive as it flattens down when the man kneels down, to throw him up to the sky. Up there the flames forms what Sniper can only guess is a horse, a horse made out of fire. This fire horse charges into the building, blowing the wall protecting Sniper and Scout from the flames to pieces. Now fully exposed to the flames and man. The man steps into the room where Sniper and Scout are lying from the blast. His whole demeanor from when they first laid eyes on him has completely changed. No longer crouched and meek, now he stands straight and proud as if he knows this is a fight he can win. And Sniper believes it, this guy is not normal! "Get out from here Scout!" He commands the youngest of the team, there is no need for Scout to be caught in this.
Scout hesitates but does take the run for it when the fire from the guy starts engulfing the whole room. Getting on his feet, Sniper steps in between the door leading to the rest of the team and this man caught on- but not at all bothered by the fire. Sniper pulls out his submachine gun. "Come and get some you bloody arsonist!" He fires and is sort of relived the bullets do damage this guy.
One of the flames lashed out at him, leaving a smaller burn over his hand which makes him drop his weapon. Sniper pulls out his kukri, but realizes he cannot reach the man with the flames surrounding him. He is trapped.

"I sense one of the Pillars in you."

Sniper eyes the man behind all this fire, the man doesn't look like himself anymore. His hair is set on fire, but moving in a calmer pace, the body stronger build and taller; almost as tall as him and the man looks decades younger as well. The fire behind him looks like wings and those eyes. That is the eyes of a true noble warrior. Sniper stares awestruck at this man, he can hardly believe the man both Pyros sat on fire about five minutes ago is the same he is looking at right this moment.

"But tainted by the dark magic tainting this world," the man says in a strong yet soothing voice, a voice that makes people pay him utter attention. He sure has Sniper's. The man turns his starting to become purple eyes towards the door from the sound of the team coming. He can feel more of the Pillars in those people, not strong but it can if giving a chance. "Not perfect, but—" the now dark purple eyes lands on Sniper. "Who am I to judge?"

"Sniper!" Heavy shouts and burst through the door with his minigun raised. The man on fire turns away from the trapped Sniper, giving him a confused look. It troubles Heavy that this man shows no signs of fear, only this calm confidence. "Let Sniper go!" Heavy commands him, aiming the minigun at the on fire man. The man made the wrong choice by letting the flames swallow Sniper. The Aussie only managed to let out a yelp of fear before he is gone.
Heavy fires his gun at the man, some of them hits but this man is faster than Scout and before he knows, the man is above him, those fire wings carrying him with ease. "Another Pillar." The man says and throws a fireball at him. Heavy has no choice than to block it with his minigun. Only a few sparks of the fire hit him, fortunately, they only send a small tingle over his arms.

"Heavy!" Medic calls and activates the Ubercharge before that abomination takes Heavy as well. Heavy's body gets engulfed in a reddish metallic cover, protecting the big man against the flames.

"I will squash you!" Heavy roars, grabs the man on fire and hurls him out from the window. Without the master around, the flames inside the building die out. The Ubercharge fades but Heavy doubts the battle is over. "Let's go, doctor." Both head outside to make sure that thing stays dead.

Outside the base lies the seemly dead man, the flames have died out and now the measly man with greasy black hair is back. The rest of the team walk outside, all of them has their guns ready in case that man is still alive.

"Is he dead?" Scout asks, leaving his spot behind Soldier and Engineer, daring to poke the seemly dead man with his bat. When he gets no response he asks the team. "What the hell was that crap?!"

"Looked awfully like when that wizard attacked us." Engineer remarks, and as on cue, everyone turns to Solider.

Noticing everyone is staring at him. Soldier pulls his finger out from his nose. "Fine, I'll call him." He grumbles and heads inside to find the ball thing Merasmus left him if he ever needed to get hang of him when not back at the castle.

The rest of the team turn to the seemly dead man, Scout pokes him again and jumps when the man lets out a weak groan.

"Oh good, he's still alive." Medic smirks, then notice the others are giving him a look of disbelief. The doctor snorts, "Oh, come now, you're curious how he did it too." None of the RED's say anything but they all share the same thought that; yes, they are curious how this man did all of this without harming himself.

***

(Ponyville about five minutes past.)

Up on a hill, Twilight is showing Demo how to do magic along with Spike. "I have seen you do very complicated levitations, so I am sure you have the skills for simple transfiguration." She turns her horn towards Spike who has a bunch of leaves on him, after a minute or so, the leaves transform into a fancy jacket. Demo whistle impressed. Twilight smiles. "Now you try with the stick, it's easier turning it into objects of the same element."

Demo nods and activates his magic onto the stick in Spike's claws with the idea of making it into a piece of rope. The stick turns into a rope, but before he can settle it into that form. Demo notices that Pinkie is acting stranger than usual by being completely paranoid at something from the sky. His confusions of that pink pony's behavior break his magic and the rope reverts back to a stick.

"Demo, this magic needs your full attention to make it happen." Twilight lectures her 'student'. He can't do magic if every small thing breaks his concentration. And Spike is no better. "You too Spike."

"But Pinkie is acting really strange." Spike objects and gestures the purple unicorn over.

She does but all she sees is Pinkie being her weird self. "She's just being Pinkie Pie"

And yet, being pretty much roommate to that pink pony and have seen her do off the wall stuff daily, Demo must say that this behavior of Pinkie is weird. "Lass is weirder than usual." He tells the other unicorn and decides to head down and hear what is making Pinkie so paranoid about the sky. Spike follows with a very reluctant Twilight behind. Demo catches Pinkie sitting on the street, with the pink pony having an uncanny serious face. "Ey, what's with you today lass? Rainbow Dash trying to prank ya?" He asks and wouldn't blame her seeking cover for that rainbow haired pony. Dash is just as a mean prankster as Scout, but he does not feel particularly sorry for that griffin. He dosesn't mind mean girl's but that Gilda just rubbed off him the wrong way.

Pinkie Pie shakes her head. "Oh no no no, it's my tail." She waves it before the two, both not really wanting to get that end up in their faces. Not that she noticed. "It's twitchy- twitching—you know what that means!" She exclaims and finally removes her tail from Twilight's face.

The two unicorns eye one another, hoping to know the other knows what Pinkie is talking about. When neither does, Twilight says "Actually Pinkie, we don't have the slightest idea."

Well then, better explain to them so they too can seek cover. "The twitching means my Pinkie-sense is telling me that stuff gonna start falling!" Both unicorns and dragon watch her jumping up in the air before cowering under her umbrella hat. "You better duck for cover!"

Again Demo and Twilight look at one another for clues, Twilight rolls her eyes when Demo starts checking the sky for what Pinkie is warning them about. "Oh Pinkie, it's not going to rain." She giggles to the pink pony, adding to Demo. "There's barely even a cloud on the—" her sentence gets cut off when a frog slams right into her face, startling both the one-eyed pony and dragon.

"Bloody hell!" Demo exclaims, not sure if he should be horrified or start laughing that some frog fell from the sky and hit Twilight right in the face; just as Pinkie had predicted.

"Oh, I am so, so sorry. You okay Twilight Sparkle?"

It's first here Demo notices Fluttershy up there, he hasn't seen her as the pale yellow pegasus has been in his blind spot. And while the pink mane pony explains her reason carrying a bunch of frogs, the turned human turns his gaze down to Spike, seeing he too is rather impressed that Pinkie predicted this. He does turn back to said pink pony when she says the obvious.

"Um Twilight, you got a little something on your face there." Pointing at the frog still hanging onto the unicorn's face.

Twilight is not amused one bit. "Oh really? Did your Pinkie-sense tell you that too?" She asks sarcastically.

"Nah, I could just see it." Pinkie smiles and trots off, humming a melody she came up with yesterday.

About a second later, the frog decides to jump off. Caressing her face from where the slimy frog sat moments ago, Twilight says to Demo. "Come on, let's do the magic practice where there is a little less commotion." and moves on, expecting the other unicorn to follow.

Demo does, chuckling at that whole scene. He turns his face partly around when he feels someone jumping onto his back, it proves to be Spike. "It was amazing! Pinkie Pie predicted something would fall: and it did!" The young dragon exclaims awestruck down to the smirking in agreement one-eyed unicorn and the far from impressed Twilight.
"I must say; that was bloody brilliant." Demo agrees to the dragon on his back.

"Oh please," Twilight rolls her eyes at the two being so easily fooled by this, "She said something would fall and a frog just happen to fall at the same time. A coincidence," She tells the two. "nothing else to it." Barely have said that statement before Pinkie storms over to the small group; yelling: "My tail! My tail! Twitchy-twitch!" Showing it twitching like crazy. "Something else is going to fall!" Twilight rolls her eyes when the two boys start scanning the sky for whatever is now going to fall. "Oh Pinkie please," she walks away from the paranoid three. "Nothing else is going to fa—" and two ponies lands right on top of her.

"Bloody hell." Demo gasps, turning all over himself to see where those two ponies— wait only one of them are a pony, but still; where did they come from? "What's next? A bear?" If that happens, he is so out from here.

Spike jumps off Demo hurrying over to Twilight who is trying getting out from the two very confused equines. "Twilight! You alright?"

"I'm fine." The unicorn grumbles, shooting the strange bird faced horse a glare as he is sitting on her tail. "Would you please move away from my tail?" He does, musing; "Sorry miss..." with an accent like Applejack.

Hold up, that voice. "Engie?" Demo asks, tilting his head at this strange pale yellow bird horse with long, broad blue feathers forming hair and tail. The bird horse looks over to him, hard to see what he is thinking thanks to the welding goggles, but this must be him. The yellow hard-hat and blue shirt, it's the BLU team's Engineer! "It's me, Demoman! Not your Demo, but the RED." And looking at the light grey unicorn with a doctor coat beside him. Demo is pretty sure that is the BLU Medic, boy he sure hopes these two also would like to keep up the ceasefire. If not then he will get dominated all the way down to hell.
The two new arrived stare at him for a moment, then at Pinkie besides him, then over to the still very annoyed Twilight and lastly back at themselves and jump realyzing they aren't humans anymore.

Medic is the first to recover from this big surprise. "Hm, interesting." He muses, his mind spinning with theories how they got turned into horses and why everyone is as well.

Engineer in the other hand. "What in tarnation is going on?!" He demands, for not long ago, the BLU base got attacked by some crazy guy on fire! "Why did we get turned into horses when he sat us on fire?!"

"You look more a mix of a horse and a bird herr Engineer." Medic remarks, quite amused by the form giving to Engineer. For once the smallest member of the team has become the tallest, also the most- he will say flamboyant with those bright blue feathers running down his neck and working as the tail.

Engineer shoots the doctor a small glare. "Not helping, doc..."

"Someone set you on fire?" Demo asks the two. They snap away from their small quarrel and Engineer explains; "About four months ago, Miss Pauling brought some dimwit to interview us. Not long after that, the Administrator send us pictures about our "weakness" as a warning what would happen if we ever stepped over the line."

"That woman knows no bond," Medic muses and looks up when something lands on his head, he smiles seeing his favorite dove hasn't been killed by that fire either.

Engineer simply nods before continuing. "Well, that man returned, but something was very wrong with him. He wasn't affected by Pyro's flames; in fact, he seemed to get stronger by it. He threw this mother-hubber ball of fire at us-"

"-and we ended up here." Medic finishes, eyeing this cedar colored horse there is the RED Demoman. "Is you the only one here?"

"Nah, your team Spy and Soldier are here as well," Demo says, nodding towards the train station. "They are currently visiting the ruler of this place. She would like to see if Solly could be integrated as a royal guard." Solly was like a child at early Christmas when he got that news. Good for him. Still, Spy thought it would be best going with him, mostly to make sure Soldier doesn't cause any trouble, but also so he could visit the capital of this place.

Engineer gets on his fee- hooves does stumble for a moment as he is used to standing on two legs, not using his hands as feet as well. "That solves one mystery where you all went, now—" eyeing the RED and is glad Demo is not wearing any red, the shirt is replaced with a green Scottish pattern scarf and hat. It does help him not looking as an enemy as much. "—all we need is finding a way back."
the RED shift on his hooves. "Might take a while. Spy has been here for almost four months and he still hasn't found a way." He says. Great... just great. He's stuck in some horse dominating world while his wife is trying to remove all of his right over their son. He should've been in court this week! Now he can only pray his clone would help him out a bit...

"Are these friends of yours?" Pinkie asks Demo, the one-eyed horse shakes his head. "No, I used to fight these guys." She did not notice the two dressed in blue tense up, her whole attention is on her fellow co-worker at Sugarcube Corner. "You mean like with Spy and Soldier?" She asks, tilting her head. "But you look so much like friends now."

Yeah, it's funny how quickly years-long rivalry can fade in this place, and Demo is unsure if his small friendship with the BLU Spy will affect him when they return back to the battlefield.

"So you're not fighting?" Medic asks taken aback by this new information.

Demo shakes his head, explaining the two newly arrived. "No, we agreed to a ceasefire until we get back. Could we agree on the same?" he asks, for he really doesn't want they start fighting here.
Engineer and Medic look at one another, then Engineer turns back to him, nodding. Demo smiles in relief, it does make things a lot easier. "Good, now; this is Spike—" Spike gives the two a wave. "He's a dragon and these two ladies are Twilight Sparkle—the one you fell on." Twilight gives him an annoyed look, Medic and Engineer shift embarrassing of the reminder. "and this is Pinkie Pie, she predicted you would fall from the sky."

"Hia!" Pinkie smiles widely at the two new ponies staring oddly at her, the smile does drop when her knee starts aching, "oh-oh, my knee is aching!"

"What does that means?" Spike asks, seeking cover behind Twilight.

"That means something scary is about to happen." Pinkie explains.

Engineer and Demo both turn to Medic, the white stallion has that creepy smile on his face when he's about to do some horrific experiment. Where his eyes are, the two knows who he would like on his medical table. "Not happening doc!" Demo shouts and uses his levitation magic on him, but that only saved Pinkie from the crazy doctor.

"This world can do magic? Fascinating- oh it's coming from the horn. I would like to know how it works." Medic says, giving the RED a smile. "Let's start with you shall we?"

"What about I stick your own horn right up your ass?!" Demo retorts.

Medic first now notices he has a horn as well and laughs. "Let's practice some magic!" and with no problem activates his own magic. A bluish shockwave hits the surrounding ponies, freezing them onto the spot. Demoman's own magic releases him and Medic lands back onto the ground and can admire his work. "Oh, this is quite interesting."

"She did it again..." Spike muses in his frozen state, for that light grey unicorn is scary!

This is interesting and all, but Engineer doesn't think it's a good idea scaring the locals. "Doc, let them go." He tells Medic. The horse-shaped doctor turns away from his admiration of watching Demoman frozen by magic, giving Engineer a confused look which the pale yellow returns with his serious one. Medic lets out a small gasp of realization what his co-worker means. "Oh right, just a moment. This is still all new to me.." A flash and the ponies and dragon can move again.

Twilight does not waste a second on that new magic user. "Are you CRAZY?! You do not use that kind of magic as your first try!!" She scowls this clearly turned human unicorn, he could've broken some of their bones if he had messed up that freezing spell!

"He is a complete manic." Demo snorts, caressing his bit sour left leg from that freezing spell. Medic isn't bothered by being called crazy. In fact, the unicorn agrees- "I may have lost my sense of Hippocratic oath in another time of war." The doctor says smiling. And Demo sure knows what war this guy talks about. "Yeah when you were a Naz—"

"Call me that word and I will turn you inside out." Medic threats coldly, his horn now beaming in a sharper blue.

Twilight, Spike, and Pinkie take a step back, fearful of this unicorn.
Demo on the other hand, he activating his own red-colored magic. "Come at me you Teutonic nursemaid!" but before he and BLU Medic can get into a fight, Engineer steps in between.

"Now there, no fighting outside the battlefield." But when that didn't work, Engineer lets out a sigh, steer and hits both unicorns right behind their horns with his front talons, knocking them to the ground. Both Medic and Demo groans in pain, with Demo crying; "God I hate that wrench of yours!"
"I don't have my wrench, drunkard" Engineer points out, returning back to a normal horse standing position. "But I'll be sure hit you with one if you prefer."

Sitting back up, Medic caress his pounding head. He knows Engineer is strong with all the building lifting he is doing but that hit hurt a lot more than he is used to. "Now I know how it feels like getting kicked by a horse with bird nails... thank you herr Engineer."

"You're quite welcome doc." Engineer grins, blinking to the pink pony when she says in relief. "Oh, my knee has stopped aching. That means the scary stuff over now." Wait what? Before he can ask, the pony trots away while humming some melody, passing by an orange mare with a cowboy hat. Engineer turns to the purple unicorn, asking. "What was that about?"

Twilight rolls her eyes. "Something about twitchy tail can predict the future."

"From someone who can remove the skeleton and a heart from a man's body and let him live. I'll say that is the most unlikely one." Medic points out, much to a certain purple pony relief.

"Finally somepony seeing reason!" She exclaims and not sure how to feel that Applejack too believes in this nonsense. "Don't tell me you believe in this stuff too." She rolls her eyes at the mare hiding underneath a corn stand.

Applejack slowly crawls out from the stand, explaining the group. "I know it doesn't make much sense, but those of us who have been in Ponyville for a while; have learned over time that if Pinkie is twitching: you better listen." And just by then Pinkie storms over to them, crying: "My ears are flopping! My ears are flopping!"

Demo and Spike both get into a small panic of what's going to happen,"What does that mean?" Spike asks, hiding behind Demo's legs.

Pinkie turns to the group of Twilight, Medic, Engineer, Demo and Spike, worried. "I'll start a bath for you." Demo quickly takes the run for it with Spike clinging to his tail, joining Applejack there wisely steps backward.

Twilight laughs. "A bath?" with Medic rolling his eyes at the RED's reaction. "Mein god, you have been here too long... believing in such—" and just by then, an elderly pony with a wagon storms past them, splashing a whole mud puddle at the three of them who didn't listen to Pinkie warning. Medic's neatly dark grey hair is now splashed down over his eyes "nonsense..." he grumbles greatly annoyed. Engineer's dull blue neck and tail feathers now clings to his pale yellow body, not helping on his mood either and along with Twilight is starting to find this whole deal ridicules.

"Pinkie, you take care of Twilight," Applejack tells the pink pony, walking over to the two stallions. "Come you all, let's get you washed up." and starts heading towards the farm.

Chapter Text

With Spike on his back, Demo trots up beside the two now muddy and unsure on their hooves BLU's."I wonder if this is earth pony magic." He wonders out loud.
Medic snorts loudly and shakes his head, splatter part of the mud onto the other unicorn. Demo shoots him a glare, which the BLU firmly ignores.

Looking past the rules of hostility against this RED, Engineer decides he would like to get some answer on this strange horse dominating world from someone who knows the difference between the two worlds. "What can you tell us about this place we ended up in?" He asks and is a bit startled he for once has to look down on to someone. Must admit that strokes his ego.

"Are you from that other world Demo and his friends are from?" Spike asks curious, Demo nods up to him which the young dragon finds very awesome. "Cool! Hey, can I tell them about some of the stuff?"

"Go ahead lad." Demo grins.

Spike clears his throat. "Ahem, alright, let's start what you have become. You in the white cape—"

"Medic."

"Right, Medic, you are a unicorn. As you already have demonstrated with that freezing spell; you can do magic. Most unicorns can only do magic close to their special talent so judging by your cutiemark—"

"My what?" Medic interrupts confused over what this strange lizard is telling him, Demo hushes him down with; "he'll come to that." So the doctor holds his tongue, letting Spike explains.

"As I said, by judging your cutie mark, I'll say your special talent is healing." Medic nods slowly he got that correct. Spike beams. "So that means most of your magic will be healing based. Of course, you can learn other kinds of magic but healing magic will come to you the easiest."

"Interesting." Medic must admit and does wonder. "So my medigun has been transferred as my magic?" Would explain why he got turned into a unicorn as the lizard said.

"Probably." Demo shrugs. "You should try it out."

Medic turns his horn towards Engineer and after a moment of trying to figure out how this magic works, a reddish beam with medical marks flows around it and starts surrounding the pale yellow bird/horse.

"That's the medigun alright." Engineer says. He can recognize that feeling of getting healed everywhere.

Medic turns off the magic, very intrigued by this and wondering if he could heal a RED or even ubercharge someone without the heart operation, he thinks he will test both those thoughts out on the same time but first: a bath.

But Spike is not done explaining them. "And you with the hard-hat—"

"Engineer or Engie for short, nice meeting ya." Engineer nods to the strange creature sitting on Demo's back.

"Likewise." Spike smiles, and must sadly admit. "Anyway, I have NO idea what you are, but I think you're like a griffin. The one I met was pretty strong—."

"That does explain why his hit hurt a lot more than usual..." Demo muses, caressing the bump on his head.

Alright, that explains partly their new forms, but not the strange tattoo's on Medic's and Demo's flanks. "What are those?" Engineer asks, nodding towards the sword and medical mark on those two's flanks, highly doubting that is something they have from their human forms.

"That is their cutie mark." Spike replies, Medic turns to look at the mark on his flank as Spike explains. "They represent your special talent. Like Twilight special talent is magic and—"

"Hurry up you all!" Applejack calls further up the road. "Better hurry before the mud dries up into your coats and um... feathers."

"I would prefer that didn't happen." Medic muses and tries set into a trot but that ends with him stumbling and end face first onto the ground.

Spike covers his mouth in an attempt not to laugh out loud, Demo is glad Spike does for otherwise, the dragon might end up as Medic next experiment. He helps the light grey unicorn back up, explaining the trick walking on all four. "It's like crawling, except you're not doing it on your knees." Adding in a quieter tone to the BLU's. "Don't try and run before you are sure on your legs; it will be less embarrassing."

"Duly noted." Medic says and starts walking again, Demo's advice did help a bit or at least enough he and Engineer can walk a bit faster than a grandmother pace.

Reaching the farm of Sweet Apple Acers, Applejack takes the two muddy filled stallions to a large tub which Demo magic heats up the water while she fetches the soap. Medic is the first getting his bath, and while he is getting the mud out from his coat. Engineer takes the chance speaking with this fellow Southern mare.

"You own this whole place?"

"Yup, Sweet Apple Acers has been in my family's possession ever since Ponyville's foundation." Applejack nods with a proud smile.

That smile reminds Engineer about himself when he is talking about his machines. "I know the feeling priding over a possession, I do own a small farm of my own." He explains the mare, however, it is not as big as her farm.

Applejack can't help but laugh, she is already liking this guy. "Heh, if ya like, I can show you a few tricks if you ever want an apple acres."

"Mighty nice of you miss, but I'm more into buildings' myself." Engineer declines the offer politely and nods toward the bit run down storage house. "I've noticed your storage house needs a bit of repair, if you wouldn't mind I could help you with the repairs."

"Oh, there's no need for—"

"Hold up Applejack." Demo trots over to them, letting Spike help Medic dry himself off. The two Southern ponies give him a confused look. "Engie here might stay here for a while and could need a place to sleep. So, let him stay at your farm and in return, he repairs the place as payment."

If her fellow Honesty bearer says so. "Alright, if you don't mind sleeping in the barn, it's all we got really." Applejack says in an apoplectic tone to the fellow southern.

But Engineer didn't mind at all, he has been sleeping worse places than this. "I greatly appreciate your offer, miss." Tipping his hat. Applejack smiles and promises to show him around, after he has washed off the mud of course.

Medic leaves the tub, letting Engineer getting his bath. "You need a place sleep too mister?" The orange mare asks him, nodding towards the barn house. "I offered your friend a place to sleep in the barn, the offer stands for you if you don't mind." But Medic do mind, in fact, sleeping outside reminds him too much of a certain camp he have at in his youth. Not that he ever will say that out loud. "I'm not much of an outdoor person." He declines, using his newfound magic to clean his glasses in the towel around his neck. This magic sure is handy he admits that.

"Say what now?" Applejack frowns, wondering what person meant, she bet it's fancy talk.

"He meant he's not a pony fancying sleeping outside." Demo explains.

Ah, so that's what he meant, Applejack nods. "Well, the offer will stand if you change your mind uh... I never got your name." She realizes.

"You may call me Medic and he is Engineer." Medic nods towards the Southern getting up from the tub and takes the offered towel from Spike. He is a bit surprised that Applejack accepts their names like they are normal, perhaps it is in this world. After all, that purple pony that got mud over her like them was named Twilight Sparkle. Speaking of that incident, he would very much like to know how that pink pony knew about them getting splashed by mud simply with her ears flopping.

"Nice meeting ya all." Applejack greets this light grey unicorn named Medic and shakes his hoof before heading back out to aid Big Macintosh with harvesting apple to the town's apple seller. "Well, I gotta be heading out, my brother needs my help. I hope you'll stick around town for a while."

"She seems nice." Engineer remarks as he put his hard-hat, goggles and blue shirt back on with some trouble with his bird looking hands. Fortunately, that lizard kid named Spike is more than happy to help him out.

Demo nods in agreement. "That she is, reminds me a bit of you Engie."

Engineer frowns at this statement. "Don't you mean your team's Engineer?"

"You're so similar it hurts." Demo points out, pretty sure these two will not be able to see the difference between him and their Demoman. Having a clone is no fun, he looks forward to the day Mann Co will reveal which one is the real one so they can get rid of the clone once and for all. Wouldn't mind if he was the clone; at least then he would know that the real Tavish would not have to share his family or memories with a fake.

The man got a point, Engineer thinks but instead saying it out loud, he instead turns to the very helpful Spike. "Mighty thanks, Spike."

"No problem." Spike beams, he's just glad he can help, his smile does widen when Demo suggests: "You can get a ride on me, lad. I don't mind." Spike runs over and jumps onto the cedar colored stallion, he really enjoys getting a ride instead of having to walk himself and Demo here has been very kind letting him get a ride pretty much every time.

Staring a moment at the purple dragon in wonder, Medic shakes his curious thoughts about that creature off as he is way more curious about a certain pink pony. "I would like to speak with this pink pony again."

"It's the Pinkie-sense isn't it, doc?" Demo grins.

Both Engineer and Medic nod, with Engineer saying. "I would very much like know how in tarnation that works. See if it's earth pony magic you spoke about earlier." It sounds interesting and it is not often they get the chance investigating new things like this. The war games have always kept them very limited under that department.

***
At Golden Oak Library.

The three out-worlder and Spike walk over to Twilight and his home, here the young dragon jumps off Demo and heads inside, calling for the unicorn.
"Down here!" Twilight voice replies and the dragon enter the room where she's inside and explains her: "Medic and Engineer is curious about Pinkie's sense and—"

"Oh, good timing then." Twilight interrupted him with a smile and lets the group into her own little laboratory, much to the mercenaries surprise that she is a pony of science. "I was just about to do some testing myself." and the last wires into the helmet around Pinkie's head, Twilight connects Pinkie to the machine. Turning back to the two new ponies. "You can join me in this discovery if you like."

Medic and Engineer would very much like so, both quite taken aback that this world of magic also has the decent technology. Engineer walks over to the machine Pinkie is attached to, but he cannot find any wires leading to a power socket. "Magic?" He asks the purple unicorn, gently tapping the machine with his front talons.

Twilight nods and turns to Pinkie, asking. "Any twitching yet?" Pinkie giggles shake her head.

Medic turns his magic onto a pot and levitates it behind Pinkie where he, without warning drops it, no reaction from her. He levitates it again, this time above her. Much to everyone's surprise, the second he drops it, Pinkie's tail twitch and she jumps away. The three of scientist stare dumbfounded of this. Twilight turns to the machine but the readings make little sense. "I don't get it... The readings say it's magic, but how can simple pony magic predict falling objects!" She shoots the pink mare an annoyed stare.
"This requires further testing," Medic concludes and levitates the pot above Pinkie's head again.

"You three have fun!" Demo calls and leaves the room, he is, of course, curious about this but he also knows that some stuff is best not knowing; like how his favorite sword got possessed by a head chopping fanatic or how Soldier's roommate supposedly is centuries old wizard there is using his missing eye as a weapon. Well, now he can put the question about how Pinkie Pie's sense onto that list as well.
Besides, he has better things to do than figuring out how a certain pink pony works, like getting himself a bottle of scrumpy.

***
Canterlot

When the fire disappears, Sniper is surprised he doesn't find himself inside the Respawn room of white walls, instead, he is lying outside on some very clean and somewhat shiny tiles. Groaning, he gets on his feet and right away realizes that his body is not his own anymore. For starters his hands look like eagle talons, his spine doesn't agree with him when he is trying to get up on two legs and... he has wings and a tail. "What the bloody hell just happened?!" He screams, jumps in fright over this sudden change of his body. It doesn't help that he can jump just as high into the air like a cat and end up hitting something up there. It proves to be a cream colored winged horse— wait what?

"Hey watch it!" This flying pony scowls at him before flying off with a huff.

Sniper stares dumbfounded after it, then realizes this whole place is filled with bright colored horses, most of them have a horn and fancily dressed.
This gotta be a dream, it has to.
He pinches himself hard but does not wake and no matter how many times he takes off the aviators, this new Pyroland does not disappear. "Oh no no nononono NO! This is not bloody happening to me!" He can't be stuck in this pony populated place, for if he's stuck here; then what about his parents? They need the money he sends them, granted they never wanted it, but it does not matter. They need his support!
He has to get out from here. Sniper slow pace quickly gets set into a wild run, it might have been for the better if he kept stumbling but like out in the bush he adapted to this body so quickly it only further freaked him out. He keeps on running, desperately searching for any clue of escaping this colorful hell. He runs past two and not quite as colorful as the other horses, he barely notices them though, too caught up in getting out from this place.
His headless run comes to a sudden halt when someone tackles into him from behind and Sniper finds himself in a headlock of an olive green pegasus. Another pegasus, this one darker blue steps in front of his line of sight. That one stares at him for about three seconds before he lets out an exaggerated groan. "Of all the people... it just had to be you."
That voice, that color. "Spy?!" Sniper gasps, not one bit happy seeing his biggest rival in form of the BLU Spy and looking at the one holding him, it's easy to guess this is the BLU Soldier with that helmet over his face. This day is getting better at the moment... Now he's caught by the BLU's without a weapon AND he highly doubts the respawn can pick him up at this place.

Wow, Sniper is really freaking out there, Spy doesn't have to touch him to sense the fear in the man- or griffin as he now has been turned into. Looks quite different from that Gilda though, she was part bald eagle and lion. Sniper here looks like he's part falcon and leopard, he is in the red color tone but darker and closer to brown, really, and sure this could've been BLU's Sniper but Spy highly doubts it with that red shirt and how the now griffin is reacting. "Relax Bushman, we're not going to torture you. Soldier, let him go." He commands Soldier.

"Aww..." Soldier says disappointed, but does let go of the griffin there scrambles away from both of them.

Sniper is taken aback that Spy; the spiteful man who loves watching him bleed to dead- now is showing him mercy. "What's the catch?" He asks this now blue pegasus suspiciously. Spy smirks. "Be a gentleman for once— come along Soldier." And starts walking towards the castle. Soldier follows, leaving a quite startled Sniper behind. Since these two are the only familiar faces he knows, Sniper much rather wants to risk getting hurt by them than be left alone in this horse infested place. He trots up beside Spy, demanding. "What the bloody hell is going on Spook?"

"How long have you been here?" Spy decides to ask first. The griffin sends him a glare but does comply with an answer; "About ten minutes..." Ah, that explains his state of panic they found him in. Spy too got into a fit of panic when he first ended up here; almost got him eaten by a wolf made out of wood. Sniper is lucky he ended up in Canterlot, here he only risk getting stared at the high classed unicorns living here. "Then I welcome you to Equestria, the literally land of rainbow and sunshine- oh, it gets better." He adds smirking at the look of disbelief Sniper sends him. "The dominating species are equines, hence why everyone are ponies."

"Then what the hell am I?" Sniper asks for he does not look like a horse, in fact, he looks more bird.

"A griffin" Spy replies, explaining the very confused Aussie. "We met one a few weeks past. You would've had liked her: just as rude and insensitive as you."

"You're the one talking." Sniper retorts but forgets his anger towards his rival when he spots a unicorn do magic by levitating several bags around it.

"Oh, the ponies with horns- the unicorns can do magic."

"I can see that." Sniper snorts to that smug son of a bitch to Spy. For a moment he walks in silence while digesting what Spy has told him. It's a bit much to take in, but he can adapt- like he always has. Still, it would be nice getting home soon. "Any idea how we get back?" He asks the two BLU's, right now he doesn't care about them being the enemy, if they know a way home he will be their best friend if it means him getting back to the human world.

"No, but perhaps the princess has some clues." Spy nods up towards the castle. "Before you rudely interrupted us, I and Soldier were on our way paying the ruler a visit."

Sniper blinks hearing that. "He really lets common people speak with him?"

"She, and yes, Princess Celestia personally requested this royal visit." Spy briefly explains the griffin.

Sniper hums on this new information, quietly following the two BLUs through the streets and all the time being observant as ever.
At the castle, three guard ponies stop them but do let them pass when Spy shows them a letter with a sun mark on.
A unicorn guard walks over to them."The princess is waiting for you." He says and leads the three inside the castle. Sniper must say that he feels kinda privileged walking inside a royal castle without being on an assassin mission. True he was hired to shoot someone that time and that not the reason being here in the first place, but it is sort of a strange feeling walking through the hallway of this colorful, yet simple in its beautiful design castle hall without having to worry about the guards.
The guard pony opens a huge door with his horn, letting them walk into a large hallway with beautiful stained windows on each side. Sniper takes notices right away that these windows have pictures of what looks like past victories for this horse kind. Maybe past enemies, as well as one of them, shows a weird dragon-looking creature playing puppet master with three ponies, one with wings, and another with a horn.

"Glad you could come to my foreign ponies."

Sniper snaps his eyes away from the stained window and jaw drops of what is standing before the throne, it's a horse like everyone else in this place. But unlike the others, this snow white horse is taller, has wings and a horn, her tail and mane in a rainbow color and flowing as if there is a constant wind in them. Her eyes are sort of ancient, yet like the rest of this beautiful horse; has an almost unnatural grace in them. Sniper is awestruck at this sight and fully understands why Spy and even Soldier bows to this ancient beauty, he does the same out of respect.

Celestia smiles weakly at the three bowing to her- hold up, three? She only requested for Spy and Soldier. Her eyes land on the griffin, she does not recognize him as any of the griffins dignitaries there at rare times visits Canterlot. "Who is this?" She asks Spy and Soldier. The griffin tense up realizing her attention is on him, it seems like he's not used to getting such attention.

straighten himself up before the ruler of this land and keeping himself from laughing at how many Sniper at the moment reminds him of a deer caught in the head-lights. "Sniper is from our world, according to him; he arrived here not long ago."

That truly catches Celestia's attention, if he has just arrived then that means the magic signature might not have faded away just yet. Hastily and yet careful so she won't spook this griffin further, Celestia lets her tracer spell touch him. What she discovers is startling. She has thought this magic would be new to her, something that required months of study of a world nopony has heard about. But this magic remnant on Sniper; she recognizes. All because she too has that sort of magic. Ending the spell Celestia steps back. "An alicorn teleported you here."

Spy and Soldier stare at Sniper dumbfounded, but the now griffin did not really understand how important that new info is. "What's an alicorn?" He asks, that part is what confuses him the most.

"I am a alicorn." Celestia tells this foreigner, but she is just a child compared to the alicorn who brought them here. That alicorn's magic was powerful, gotten millennia of practice compared to her a few hundred years from a thousand. "The one who brought you here is a very old alicorn. Compared to them, I am just a filly." It's a bittersweet feeling knowing she and Luna are not alone as they thought but that old alicorn is in another world and she has no idea how to get to it with her magic.

That half-git was an alicorn? Does explains his sudden form change when Pyro sat him on fire, and now that he looks closer to this one before him, he notices her hair is very much like that man's, except his looked more like fire than a the Northen Light. It also explains why he got turned into an animal when he got send to this world- probably that one's homeworld, but what it does not explains: "But why the bloody hell would he bring us here?" Sniper asks, thinking back to what that human formed alicorn told him. "All he said that he sensed some pillar inside of me before I ended up here."

That's it! That is the reason why they are brought here! Celestia gasps for her startling revelation, the connection to why this ancient alicorn brought these humans here in the first place. Because of the lost Elements, because of the connection these humans somehow have to Twilight and her friends. She eyes the three confused foreigner. "I may have found the reason." And explains to them what her and Luna's old teacher wrote in one of his books. "This alicorn there brought you here must've realized the lost elements were connected to you and knew the only way returning them back and awaken the Elements once again was bringing you here."

"And these Elements of Harmony are those necklaces?" Spy asks her and has mixed feelings about this. In one hand he can see why that alicorn brought them here if the elements resided inside of them, but in the other; Spy is dumb-struck. Why of all people in their world— a bunch of mercenaries and assassins have been chosen to carry the elements in them. Why? They are the worst possible choice ever.
Celestia nods as an answer to his question, so that necklace he got was his Element of Harmony?
According to Twilight; the silver necklace he got is the twin of Zecora's Element of Guidance, but why would it choose him? Is it because he is a man of information and can guide people to victory with said information? He can buy that, but he still doesn't think he is worth carrying an object there brings Harmony. For he sure hell hasn't made himself worthy of such a role as a carrier of Harmony with all the death and destruction his information has brought to a lot of people during the world war.

"Alright, now we know why that wanker brought us here." Sniper interrupts Spy's train of thought, the griffin turns back to the alicorn. "Is there a way for you to bring us back?"

"Sadly I do not know any world jumping magic and study have been slow." Mainly because the text on how to do such magic was mostly theories and even with her many years, most of Star Swirls study went over her head. That and she didn't have much time to engulf herself in reading up on it because of her royal duties. Celestia feels bad she cannot help them, more so when this Sniper shows clear signs of frustrations with his neck feathers raising. She knows that other alicorn got their reasons doing this, but still, these foreigners have been forced away from their home and loved ones. "I know it is hard, but I ask for your patience."

It's frustrating being trapped in some other world, away from his parents and everything he knows, but at least this ruler of the land is trying. Sniper sighs, calming himself. "Alright..." Adding in a softer tone. "Sorry, today has not been my best days."
The ruler of this place gives him a small nod in understanding. "Getting torn away from everything you know can be hard." She says, turning her old yet youthful eyes towards one of the stained windows showing a dark alicorn getting blasted with some kind of magic in form of six ponies.

"I do have some experience about that myself and I will do anything in my power finding you a way home." Celestia promises them, but until then; Celestia turns back to the shape-shifter of these turned humans. "Spy, my student Twilight wrote that this is not your true form, could you kindly show it to me?" From how he is frowning Celestia know it is a sudden question, but she needs to be sure.

Not sure what this about but not wanting to be disrespectful to the ruler of this land, Spy drops his pegasus disguise, letting Celestia see the form this world gave him. Sniper jumps in great surprise, letting out a small curse while Soldier just looks confused.

He looks very much like those attacking Canterlot in the vision, is he one of them? No, Spy hasn't shown any sign of being against her or her sister. And according to Twilight, Spy here has become an Element bearer. It must mean he is that light of hope from the vision, or at least he will be able to find the invaders with his shape-shifting ability. "Thank you for showing me" Spy puts on his disguise again, and now Celestia has an idea what might be coming and from how things stand now, it seems she has to take him up on his offer to her. "I know this is very sudden, but certain circumstances is urging me to ask for your service."

This is the first time Celestia has taken up the offer he gave her, it seems she is in need of someone of his profession. "What do you need?" He asks her, feeling quite relieved he can do his job for once.

Good to see that he was serious about his offer working for her. "It has come to my attention a threat is approaching Canterlot. Unfortunately, I do not know who or how many will be coming. It will be your job figure out if the threat is real. With your shapeshifting ability, you should be able to hear what others cannot." Her other spies won't be able to get in close as it is clear it is not ponies there threatens them.

That's very little to go on, it sounds more like paranoia than anything. But Spy has learned that some paranoia has their source from something real, so; he will check up on this threat Celestia speaks about. "Very well, I will start right away."

That's is a relief, Celestia did fear this human wouldn't take her words seriously, but she thinks he is the one best for this job with his shapeshifting ability. With that done, she turns to the one naming himself Soldier. What she has gotten from Spy and Twilight's letters, this pegasus is a warrior through and through and has protected Ponyville more than once. So she has decided to trust this one with the task of keep on doing what he has been doing since his arrival. This time, though; with the right gear. "Soldier, correct?"
The olive green Pegasus salutes, almost knocking off his helmet "Yes ma'am!" He says loudly.
Celestia can't help but smile amused by this one's zeal."I have heard good things about you from my student and subjects in Ponyville, so I have decided to give you a spot among the royal guard." She explains him, about to add that he won't fully be part of the royal guard since that requires training the Canterlot's military facility but she never gets the chance when this pegasus got an overjoyed look over his face and is certain she can see signs of tears underneath that helmet of his.

Spy and Sniper both give Soldier one look and Spy tells the bit confused alicorn. "You certainly made his day." For he can literally feel the pegasus's joy filling the room, Spy doubts he will need to mingle with any ponies to feed after today.

"So I see." Celestia smiles, seeing ponies beam like this when their dreams come true never gets old. But back to Soldier's new job. "As long you are here and if like Spy wishes to work for me, you are granted a spot as the royal guard in Ponyville. It will be your duty keeping my subjects safe from any harm."

Soldier salutes his new boss, no words can describe how happy he is that he finally has earned a title he has dreamed about for years. "You can count on me, Mrs. President!" Not noticing the amused expression on the princess' face

Celestia has no idea what President means, but she presumes this is just these foreigners way addressing a royal. "My head of the royal guard; Shining Armor will give you a uniform and further description of your job." Celestia explains but must warn this very excited pegasus. "But please do not take too much of his time. I need him keep the security tight with the threat looming over us."

"Affinitive!"

So far so good, Celestia then turns her gaze down to the newly arrived griffin. She figures he would like to settle down before getting thrown into a mission by her and if he too is an element bearer, then she knows the perfect place for him to stay. "I know this is hard for you, but try and make the best out of it." She tells the griffin softly, he eyes her, sign she has his attention. "Your comrades have sought resident in Ponyville, I suggest you do the same."

Sniper sighs, he's too mentally tired to really argue. "Alright."
Celestia ends their small meeting and after have gotten the armor for Soldier, the three head back to this Ponyville.

Chapter Text

The train stops at Ponyville and several ponies walk out, Soldier is one of them and now proudly wears a golden colored armor of the royal guards uniform. "Today is a good day." He voices out loud, who is anyone's guess.
Spy and Sniper walk past him with the griffin grumbling. "This has been the bloodiest weirdest day in my entire life I tell you..."

"Get used to it Sniper, you have seen nothing yet." Spy remarks, rather amused seeing the usually so stoic RED Sniper has more than once lost his cool today; now he's just too mentally exhausted from doing anything, that includes them trying to tear each other to pieces like they would in the war games.

Sniper groans, this is NOT how he thought his day would be. "Someone wake me up already...!" The griffin cries, covering his head with his talons, only to get yanked up in Solider's hooves.

"Straighten up maggot! The president didn't hire us to slack off!"

"Put me down bullets for brains!" Sniper snaps and somehow gets free from the green pegasus neck-lock, he trots away from the maniac BLU, right now he just wants some peace and quiet after today's snowball of weirdness, or better yet, this just being a dream, that would be nice. "Please tell me is a bloody dream..." He just can't take all of this being real...

Perhaps it is his ability sensing emotions, perhaps it's because he's being affected by Sniper's but... he is starting to feel a bit sorry for the guy. It's kinda hard watching Sniper losing it, being a guy easy to get excited and vocal but really hard to rattle as Sniper is rather quick to adapt to the situation kind of guy. He doesn't blame Sniper for losing it like this, Spy must say that his rival is taking this way better than he did when he arrived here- and he is very relieved no one saw his epic freak-out. "Come." He tells the griffin, gently pushing him away from the crowds of ponies. Sniper is so mentally exhausted that he doesn't even object that his biggest rival is guiding him away.

Soldier heads toward the town hall, thinking that place will be best to guard as his new duty protecting this town.

A bit outside of town, Spy has gotten Sniper up in the sky and land onto one of the clouds. It takes Sniper a moment to realize he is standing on a cloud. "What the..." He stares at the puffy object under his paws and talons, then down to the ground and back at the cloud again.

Spy rolls his eyes at the griffin's dumbfounded face with his mind trying to comprehend what is going on. "Yes, you are standing on a cloud." He forces Sniper to lie down. "Now get some rest, seeing you this miserable makes me feel bad."

Sniper shoots the blue and winged horse a glare but does forget about his angry remark when he realizes how soft this cloud is. "Huh, this is really soft." Turning back to the winged horse, he remarks. "Never felt anything this soft before."

"It's not like your standards are that high to begin with." Spy retorts back with a smirk.

"Shut your trap." Sniper growls but quickly forgets his anger from the softness under his feet, he rolls onto his back on this cloud. "Aw, I'm sorry mate, you did find this cloud for me."

Spy notes himself to put Sniper onto a cloud if the griffin gets too pissed at him in the future. It's like his catnip or something.

"Have you tried it?"

"No." Spy replies the now more cat acting than a turned human Sniper in the way he is lying about. The griffin blinks confused, Spy drops onto the cloud but goes right through it, flying up before the cloud and griffin. "My magic does not allow weather control."

"You don't you what you're missing." Spy rolls his eyes at him, he seems to do that a lot lately, Sniper observes. Bit weird as most of their former 'talks' have been an insulting contest at best and a bloodbath at worst. "You know, you have changed from last time I saw you." Again Spy rolls his eyes at him. "I'm serious Spook, for once I don't feel like shooting you." Sniper argues, blinking when Spy suddenly puts a hoof on his shoulder.

....He's serious. Spy removes his hoof away from Sniper, startled his Changeling emotion detector picked up the genuine feelings from Sniper. Has he really changed that much? Thinking about it, he has been, well happier. It's hard not to get affected by these ponies, not get affected by the love he gets from Zecora.

"Spook?"

"Get some rest." Spy brushes the griffin off. "You going to need it with this world." And flies off while pondering of this change in him Sniper pointed out.

Sniper watches Spy fly towards the forest, taken by surprise how, well normal Spy now has become. It's weird not dealing with a spiteful Spook anymore, but he's not really complaining. Pretty sure he will have enough to deal with being in this pony dominating world and being a griffin instead of a human. At least he still has fingers compared to Soldier and Spy, that does count as a plus, right?

On his way back to Everfree forest, Spy notices a light grey male unicorn with a doctor coat and a white dove on his back. Besides, that one is something there looks to be a very strange bird looking horse. Those two, now leaving Twilight's home he has not seen before, yet something about them looks quite familiar. He decides to investigate and lands not far from them.
"This place- that pony is not making any gosh darn sense!" The pale yellow and bird looking horse exclaims with a far too familiar Southern accent to Twilight, there retorts in response. "There will be an explanation and I am going to find it!" And storms off, leaving the two stallions behind.
Seems like Sniper isn't the only one brought here, Spy thinks and walks over to who he presumes is his team's Engineer and Medic if the colors of their clothing are any indication. "Gentlemen, I see you are already trying to make sense of this world."
Medic and Engineer snap their head over to him, both recognizing him by voice.

"Spy?"

The Changeling nods and asks them curiously- he notices he has been sticking his nose into others businesses way more often than usual. "What were you doing with miss Sparkle?"

Engineer groans, caressing his aching head from desperately trying to make sense of that pink pony. "We were trying to figure out how this 'Pinkie-sense function, but there is no sense to it!"

"Ah." Putting Pinkie's name into the conversation has made Spy throw all logic out from the window. After having been here for months he has come to realize why many of the town's ponies often use a phrase he now will teach these two. "One advice you might not like but it will save you from a lot of future headaches: "it's Pinkie Pie; don't question it."" It sure has saved him from a lot of headaches when it comes to that pink pony.

Medic rolls his eyes. "Bah, we just need further tests." He brushes Spy off.

"Suit yourself." Spy shrugs and leaves the two to their soon to be bigger headaches.

(later)

The two men- currently ponies of science team up with Twilight Sparkle once again to figure out the mystery there is Pinkie Pie. They started watching this obnoxious mystery to Pinkie Pie near this town's school, the observance did come to a small halt when Medic and Twilight couldn't agree on a scientific name for Pinkie.
They did settle on the scientific name: cerritulus equus puniceo. And while watching Pinkie literally smells the flowers, Medic asks Twilight while writing down a few notes of difference between this world's ponies to those they have back at the human world. "Is it possible to take a magic sample like we do with blood?"
Which Twilight replies awfully casual about the subject. "No, but you can do a simple spell for it. Hm... perhaps we should do another magic test sample." She muses her thoughts out loud before returning back to observe Pinkie through her binoculars.

Engineer doesn't say anything about that, but do wonder if he should make sure Twilight doesn't spend too much time with Medic as it is clear he is starting to be a bad influence on the purple pony.

"Ah-ha, that makes no sense," Twilight says delightedly after Pinkie has sought cover under a small climbing tower and explains the two as she writes her observant down her notebook. "She is hiding as if something is going to fall from the sky, but a twitchy tail means something is falling from the sky; not an itchy nose" The two stallion check on the pink mare currently hiding with a fearful look in her eyes, frowning Medic turns back to Twilight there voices her conclusion that this Pinkie-sense must be— Engineer suddenly shoves both her and Medic away from the bush.
"Go-go-go!" He calls and takes the run for it, much to Twilight irritation. "Engineer, where are you going? We are trying to teach the value of— auv!" She cries when a swarm of bees suddenly attacks her and Medic, after a few stings they manage to get away.

"You two alright?" Engineer asks, leaving his own cover from that pissed off swarm of bees.

Medic aims his healing magic onto Twilight. "It's just a few bees stings." He brushes off as it's not really that big of a deal. A sting from a bee cannot beat the pain getting set on fire by Pyro. He glances towards where Pinkie hid and realizes that she has come out from hiding now the swarm of bees has calmed down. "Sie müssen scherzen... an itchy nose means bee attack?!" He exclaims greatly irritated that Pinkie makes less sense by the minute. How can she predict such absurd things?!

After having thanked the grey unicorn for the healing, Twilight can drop her head onto the ground in the same frustrations about this whole Pinkie-sense business. "Ugh, this is getting ridicules; but I am not giving up!" She declares.

Medic nods in agreement and follows Twilight after where Pinkie left.

Engineer, on the other hand, is starting to realize what Spy meant with his words about Pinkie, yet he still follows the two scientific driven ponies.
The next hours watching Pinkie, they write down a lot of signs for many weird things as well as combo's but none of them brings them any step closer to figure out how it works. Past noon Engineer has decided that some things just cannot be explained: "And Pinkie is one of them." He declares to Medic and bites down his lunch in form of an apple pie he got from Applejack's nice grandmother.

"You're not the type giving up this easily." Medic points out, trying but cannot heal his own major headache from observing Pinkie all day. Twilight is still stubbornly observing said pink pony.

Engineer shrugs. "As much I hate to say it; Spy had a point and besides, this isn't our world. So I figure the laws of physics are a lot different compared to ours, for last I checked:" He points at himself. "How many horses looking like me have you seen back home? I sure haven't and don't get me started on how you can do magic and those winged ponies can walk on clouds." He has no idea how that is scientifically possible but for the sake of his own sanity; he has decided just roll with it.

But Medic refuses to leave it like that, this is just too curious and fascinating, although he could do without the headache. "Well, I will continue trying to understand this, it can't be much harder than replacing a human lung with a crocodile."

"I take that lung went into Sniper."

"Nein, Demo got it. Did make him amphibian and saved him from Pyro's flames before a trip through respawn removed it." Medic explains with that wicked grin of his.

Engineer rolls his eyes with a small chuckle, no longer bothered that their doctor uses them as his experiments. Most of those implants do after all go away after a trip through respawn since the Administrator has to agree on the implants before the respawn won't remove it. So far only the Ubercharge implant has been agreed upon. Speaking of implants. "I would like you don't do your small experiments on us as long we're here doc. Respawn can't reach us here after all." He knows that is a fact since he has been looking at the machine for hours when Spy disappeared.

Now it's Medic's turn to roll his eyes but he can see the reason in Engineer's words. "Fine." Even he knows it's a bad idea causing accidental deaths on the team without the respawn. "But I am still cutting you dummkopf open if you get your guts blown out."

"That's fair." Engineer replies and eats the last piece of this delicious pie, these ponies sure knows how to make good food. "Well, I think I will spend rest of the day getting used to walking on four feet. Have fun with your Pinkie conundrum." He starts leaving but does stop halfway and tells the light grey unicorn. "And try not removing any parts from her." Medic waves his hoof in a sign he got it. Engineer smirks and leaves the doctor with this mystery of this new world.

The two unicorns join up in their task solving the Pinkie mystery, they find her in the park doing her own thing. As they observe the pink pony Twilight and Medic swap theories of what might be causing these strange twitches. Medic theorizes it might be peripheral neuropathy which can cause twitching or itching because of damaged nerves. Twilight finds that a possibility but cannot say much about that as she is quite limited in the medical field. She is more into magic and thinks these twitching can be the cause of some sort of disruptive in Pinkie's magic, something Medic does find very fascinating and would like to hear more about it later.
They notice the pink pony's tail twitching, but doesn't pay it any mind, too busy discussing what might be causing—

"Hello again!"

Both unicorns jump when Soldier lands right beside them. Twilight shoots the green pegasus a glare for startling them like that, but her angry words never leave her mouth when she notices he is wearing the royal guard golden armor. Which is strange since she is very aware Soldier is like Spy, Demo, Medic, and Engineer: from another world. So that must mean he has become a royal guard very recently. "When did you become a royal guard?" She asks him.

"Today! The president gave me the job protecting this town from any maggots trying to invade!" Soldier bellows proudly.

Well, that has been what he has been doing ever since he came here, so no real changes there. Twilight thinks and do wonder why Celestia even bothered making Soldier into a royal guard? Maybe she's just nice like that, sounds like the princess. "Um, congratulation?" She smiles weakly at this very loud pony.

"Thanks!"

Medic knows exactly who this loudmouth is just by listing to him speaking. "Good to see you haven't killed yourself yet." He greets his team's Soldier, not sure how to feel that this idiot hasn't gotten himself killed while being stuck here or that the leader of this world has been stupid enough to hire him as a guard.

It takes him a moment to recognize this light grey unicorn when he does, Soldier grins "Hello Medic! No! The enemy here is nothing but spineless scums, no match against me!"

"Good to hear, now would you keep it down or better yet; go to your 'duty.'" Medic requests, not really feeling up to listing to Soldier's patriotic rambling. He turns his gaze back to Pinkie, but before he can get a good look what she is doing, Soldier draws his attention by asking loudly. "Are you spying on Cotton candy?" Ignoring that stupid nickname, Medic turns around to reply, but never got the chance confusing the man with some fancy medical words when Twilight suddenly gets a pot plant right over her head. He reacts more as an instinct; being on the battlefield with bombs flying around does that and creates a blue force field around him and around Twilight, saving them from getting an anvil, a wagon filled with hay, and a piano over their heads. Didn't save Soldier though, and he got everything right on top of him.
Dismissing his small shield, Medic stares at the pile there both hit and now has Soldier buried. "Well, he's dead." He proclaims simply and looks up when a grey pegasus mare flies down to them.
"Oh my gosh, I am so sorry." She apologizes and tries to remove the broken piano away from Soldier. Twilight helps her and to Medic's surprise, the green pegasus is alive and besides from several cuts and bruises- the biggest one over his head. Soldier is a bit cross-eyed but fine. Seems like the ponies here can take a lot more punishment than he thought, Medic thinks, for a human getting this over his head would've surely died.

Derpy brushes away the remnants of hay from Soldier, asking worriedly. "Are you alright?" Blinking when a grey unicorn steps over to Soldier, musing with a creepy glean in his eyes. "Fascinating, this pony species must be made out of sturdier stuff than I thought—now Soldier." He holds his right hoof over the very cross-eyed Soldier "How many hooves do I have—"
"I am the prettiest unicorn!" Soldier shouts at the unicorn and before any of the three can comprehend what he has just said, the pegasus declares in his loud but clearly not clear in the head. "Let's get one thing straight: you are all pretty unicorns, but I am the prettiest unicorn!"

"...What?" Twilight asks in disbelief of what she is hearing from this stallion, stepping backward when the cross-eyed Soldier suddenly is right in her face, asking loudly. "Did I stutter?!" Before she can reply, the pegasus runs off, continually yelling he is a pretty unicorn. Twilight stares dumbfounded after him.

Medic has seen a lot of weird things during the war games, but a single day here has brought that all to shame! That and: "I'm certain he lost the last of his remaining brain cells." He concludes to the two mares. Twilight gives him a deadpan look while the grey mare just looks worried.

"Maybe we should put the Pinkie case to rest; at least until Soldier stops calling himself a unicorn." Twilight suggests, for hearing him say such things is a tad too weird and it's clear something in him broke after have gotten all that stuff over his head.

Does gives him the excuse doing a few experiments. "Alright, another time with this research, frauline." He agrees with Twilight and along with the grey mare, heads out to find the very confused Soldier.
They find Soldier wobbling around in town, spewing out his unicorn nonsense, no surprise that every pony in hearing range stares at the royal armor dressed pegasus for acting this weird.
They also find Pinkie Pie there and she is giggling madly at the scene Soldier is making while Applejack besides her has the same confused face as everyone else. Twilight runs over and topples the pegasus over with her magic before he ending up doing something stupid in his confused state.

"What's wrong with him?" Applejack asks, even she admits that Soldier here is being weirder than usual.

"I am a unicorn, maggots!"

"He got an anvil, wagon and a piano over his head." Twilight replies awfully calmly about this situation. Applejack raises a brow, more so when Soldier shouts more of his unicorn nonsense. About there Twilight decides to shut Soldier's mouth with her magic. Glancing at her fellow pony of scientist there tells her two friends. "Besides from increased delusions; he's fine."

"That's good," Applejack says in relief and asks Twilight. "What have you been doing all day?" Before either, he or Twilight can answer, Pinkie Pie gets before them."Oh, they have been secretly following me all day without me knowing." Much of their great irritations.

"You mean you knew all along?!" Twilight asks furious and forgot to hold Soldier down with her magic. The delusion pegasus takes to the sky before Medic can stop him.

"Unicorn away to the rainbow!"

Twilight ignores him, too ticked off on Pinkie to think about the crazier than usual Soldier. "Why didn't you tell me?!"

Pinkie giggles. "Don't be silly, that would've spoiled the secret." She backs away from the growling Twilight and the light grey stallion when her knee starts to ache, which she now knows that doctor stallion is having scary thoughts at the moment. Her knee does stop aching, replaced with a heavy shudder. And even that one takes her by surprise.

"And that happens to mean?" Medic asks this pink pony dryly, he has gotten about enough with her and the thought cutting her open is very tempting right about now.

"I don't know." Pinkie answers him, "I have never gotten anything like it before, but whatever that shudders about; it's a doozy! Something you never expect to happen will happen!" She explains the three ponies, with the two unicorns both looking at her in deadpan. Barely reacting when she starts to shudder heavily again, at least that shudder gives her the place where it will happen. "And it's going to happen: at Froggy Bottom Bogg!"

Applejack gasps. "That's where Fluttershy headed." And decides they better check on her. "We better make sure she is alright." and runs off with Pinkie close behind.

"Calm down everypony, all we know that Pinkie got the case of the shivers; that's all." Twilight tells them, to then realize that the two others have already left, she groans and tells Medic annoyed. "Might as well follow..."

Medic nods and gives chase, although he does trip more than once over his hooves since he is still not used to moving on four limbs.
Twilight is kind enough to wait for him.
At the swamp area, they do indeed find Fluttershy alright. Which does prove that whole shudder thing with Pinkie has been wrong.

Twilight steps over to the pink pony and pale yellow pegasus, saying calmly but very satisfied. "Sorry, I know it's not nice to gloat, but— aha!" Her cry startles her friends but she does not care, finally, she can prove she has been right about Pinkie stupid predictions. "Pinkie Pie said that whatever she was shuddering about-" she and Applejack start coughing from a heavy cloud steamed up, Applejack leaves the cloud, while Twilight stays put, too busy gloating over this seemly victory. "- a doozy and the only doozy here is how right I am." Twilight continues through her coughing.

"Um, Twilight..." Applejack calls afraid, but Twilight is too busy gloating to notice the danger appearing behind her.

Being a person who kills people daily, Medic knows that look of fear in the three ponies eyes, except it's not aimed at him. He looks behind and sees what has freaked them out, in fact, he too is quite freaked out as well for where he is from that beast is only part of legends.

"—and you can't believe anything you can't see for your—"Twilights monologing gets cut off when she notices the terrified look on her friends' faces and turn around seeing four long pillars of scales, she looks up to the heads of those necks, its a four-headed monster and it looks hungry.

"T-This can't be," Medic gasps, backing away from the hydra. Sure it is quite the sight and he would've loved cutting it up- if he had a team to kill it for him! But as things are now, he is in a body he has trouble moving in, dosesn't have a team around nor a weapon, so yeah! He is understandable scared!

"Run!" Applejack cries and she does not have to say that twice, everypony takes the run for it. Well almost everypony, Pinkie Pie has frozen up and would've been eaten if Twilight hasn't pulled her away in last second.
The hydra gives chase, lunging its four heads down at them in attempt getting itself a pony snack.
Fortunately, Applejack and her friends are agile enough to dodge the attacks. The stallion Medic isn't.

At the worst timing Medic stumbles over his hooves and falls flat onto his face and deep into the mud, he does get up but can do little than watch the hydra head come at him with mouth wide open.
This isn't exactly how he imaged he would die; getting eaten by an animal. God this is embarrassing.

Chapter Text

Really worried for Soldier, Derpy follows the delusional green pegasus throughout town, only stops for a moment to notices Twilight, two of her friends and a light grey unicorn stallion are heading toward the swamp area named Froggy Bottom Bogg. "Oh dear." She muses, for she has seen what reside in that swamp and it is very scary and very hungry. But what can a cross-eyed pegasus like her do? She needs help. "Soldier!" She calls and flies over to the royal armor dressed pegasus, currently standing in a flower bed somewhat seriously. "You have to help them, there is a four-headed monster at the swamp they are—"

"Friendship is magic, yaay~!" Soldier shouts and drops to the ground. "These flowers are lovely, maggots!" Few nearby ponies can't hold back a giggle from that whole scene.

He won't be any help in this state, Derpy realizes but he is the only one brave enough to face such a monster at Froggy Bottom Bogg! "This is all my fault...!" She cries if she hasn't been so clumsy; she wouldn't have dropped all those things onto him. "I am nothing but a stupid pony there does nothing that causes dismay for others..." She drops to the ground beside Soldier, he is still trashing the flowers and spewing out his unicorn nonsense.

"I don't know, but I have been told: I am a pretty unicorn~!" Soldier sings very badly, then shoots up when he sees a cart filled with flowers. And with a loud: "These pretty flowers belong to this unicorn!" and crashes into them, much to three flower ponies dismay.

"No!"

"Our flowers have been trampled!"

"The horror, the horror!"

Soldier grabs a bundle of the trashed flowers. "These are mine now!" Making the three flower ponies collapse onto the ground.

That gives Derpy an idea, a crazy idea, but one there might work. She flies over to the cart. "I'll pay you later." She promises the three ponies and grabs the half-destroyed cart, calling for the delusion Soldier. "Look what I got!"

He turns to her with his cross-eyes, she waves some of the flowers before him. "You want the pretty flowers?"

"Yes! This pretty unicorn needs pretty flowers for his lustrous mane!" Soldier declares, making the three flower ponies give him a 'what the hay is wrong with him?' look, then they notice the state of their cart and passes out again.

Ignoring the flower ponies; "Come along Soldier!" Derpy calls and flies away, as hoped, Soldier follows. She leads the delusional pegasus over to the swamp, hoping she has merely been paranoid and there really is no need for this, but that thought crashes when she spots the three-headed monster is chasing the other ponies. "Oh no!" She gasps and with eyes to Soldier, she sure hopes he can handle it in his current state. "I'm sorry." And throws the flowers down, landing on one of the heads. Soldier flies down to get them, but even in his normal state, Soldier has never been one for soft landings. And in his delusional state, he crashes into the head like a small meteor, hard enough to knock that head out and startle the beast to forgot about the stumbled grey unicorn before its feet.

Using the beast being stunned as her changes, Derpy swiftly flies down and helps the unicorn stallion up from the mud. "Please hurry!" Knowing Soldier won't be able to distract this swamp beast for long in his current state.

Not wanting to fall again Medic trots away from the hydra there is now trying to get the still very disorientated Soldier off its back.

The hydra throws Soldier off, making him crash into the mud, he does quickly recover though and still very cross-eyed tells the approaching hydra. "I am a pretty unicorn! I'm going to trot into the forest made of rainbows—" His disorientated walking makes him dodge the hydra's head, completely unaware of the danger he is in. "and pick each and every one of you maggots an arrangement of flowers!" Pointing at the second head there had tried to eat him. "Am I making myself clear?!" The hydra responses with the third head lunging down to eat him.

"No!" Derpy tackles into Soldier, getting him away from the hydra. When sure he is relatively safe, the grey mare turns to the fast-approaching hydra. She is scared out of her mind, but she refuses to leave Soldier! Time to be brave as him! She takes to the sky and tries but completely misses the head she aimed at. Instead, she crashes into another, startling it so much that it makes its body to tumble over. She falls off, landing on its back and her bad sight made her lose her footing but that is a stroke of luck she slides down the body which saves her from one of the heads trying to eat her. All four of the monster's heads roars in pain from biting itself on the belly. In a rage of this, they roar at Derpy, all four aiming for the pegasus. She freezes up in fear.

Somehow, through his disorientation, Soldier realizes that Derpy is in danger and headbutt the hydra's chest, stunning it which gives him the chance to kick the head trying to eat her again. The head roars in pain and he cries back. "Friendship is magic, creampuff!" Making the three other heads give him a 'what the hell?' look. Which did give Derpy the time to recover.

Using the hydra's dumbfoundedness, the grey mare grabs Soldier and get them both the heck away, before they both end up as its lunch. She brings him to the other side of the cliff Applejack, Pinkie and Fluttershy have already crossed. "Hurry!" She calls for the two unicorns.

"Go, I will distract him!" Twilight tells Medic, he hesitates but they don't have time to argue about this. "Go!"

Medic doesn't like it, but Twilight is right, he can't run fast enough to dodge it. Barely jump for that matter. He leaps over to the stepping-stone pillars, almost missing one of them because he is not used to this body but he does somehow get across. Just as he jumps to the last stone pillar, to his and the four ponies horror, the Hydra, in its attempt catching Twilight hits the stone pillars and destroys her only way of escape.

The hydra is stunned for a moment in its pain from hitting the stone pillars.

"Twilight!" Pinkie calls to the trapped unicorn, shuddering like crazy "You have to jump!"

"I'll never make it!" Twilight calls back.

"You will be fine" Pinkie calls back, Derpy leaves Soldier's side and flies over to Twilight. "I will carry you." She ensures the unicorn, sounding way more sure that she feels.

But Twilight knows that Derpy won't be strong enough to carry her "You're not strong enough!" She objects, looking back in fright as the hydra has recovered and charging at her with bloodlust in its eyes.

"It's your only hope!" Pinkie calls. "You have to take a leap of faith!"

Twilight gulps, knowing that she will be dead either way. So she jumps and Derpy catches her but as feared, the grey pegasus is not strong enough to carry them both. They drop towards the rocks down below, yet just before they hit them. A blue magic aura surrounds Twilight, making her light enough for Derpy to carry her. Twilight looks up and realizes that it is Medic who is using his levitation magic on her. Derpy gently drops her besides her cheering friends, and Twilight gives her two saviors a thankful smile. "Thank you." Derpy beams while Medic remarks dryly. "You weren't the only one taking a leap of faith, frauline: I wasn't aware I could do that."

Twilight winches hearing this, but is still happy he tried.

"Today has been quite eventful I must admit." Medic muses and watches the irritated hydra leaves them alone. He doesn't know how or why, but he is glad they got away from all of this with simply a scare. Been long he last got this scared, quite the accomplishment on that hydra's part, he must say.

Twilight nods in agreement, telling Pinkie Pie. "I don't know if it was a coincidence or just dumb luck, but you said there would be a doozy and I say we got one heck of a doozy- I mean that hydra—" Pinkie starts shuddering again, much to Twilights confusions. "Pinkie?"

"That wasn't it." Pinkie declares.

"What?" Medic asks now once again irritated with that pink pony not making any sense. "How can that monster not be the doozy?"

"Whatever the doozy is; my Pinkie-sense tells me it hasn't happened yet." Pinkie tells him in her constant shudders

"WHAT?!" Twilight exclaims infuriating hearing that. "The hydra wasn't the doozy? How could it not be the doozy?! What could be doozier than that?!"

"I don't know but it wasn't it."

Medic opens his mouth to let out a wave of German swear words but never does when Twilight suddenly burst into flames in her rage. About there he throws out all logic about this world, this place makes no sense! And he has a headache big enough just to accept it right about now.

The magic flames from Twilight's rage dies out, leaving a just as mentally exhausted Twilight behind, she sighs loudly. "I give up..." Dropping to the ground in defeat trying to understand Pinkie's ability. "I can't fight it anymore... I don't understand how, why or what"

A certain light grey unicorn understands this feeling of defeat and yet peace of their shared feelings about this mystery. "But this strange ability- this Pinkie-sense well, makes sense." Medic somberly agrees, it cannot be explained with logic as there is no logic to it and still it somehow makes sense if having a really open mind. He shakes his head in a small laugh. "I never thought a cotton candy pony would open my eyes like this..." It seems even someone like him, who clings himself to science as the only answer still has a lot to learn about faith about the unknown.

Twilight nods to the light grey pony. "Medic's right... just because somepony cannot make any sense of something; it doesn't mean it's true."

"s-s-so y-yo- you m-mean you b-b-be-le-le-ive?" Pinkie asks through her heavy shuddering.

The two unicorns eye one another and Twilight nods slowly. "Yup, I guess we do." With Medic nodding in agreement. Both blinks in surprise when Pinkie suddenly goes through some incredible strange twitches which shouldn't be anatomic possible, to then stop completely fine.

After have checked her now still body, Pinkie gasps happily. "That was it! That's the doozy!" Both Twilight and Medic stare at her dumbfounded, no idea what she meant by that. "What is?" Twilight asks.

Pinkie giggles "You believing! I never expected that to happen! That was the doozy!" She jumps happily around the two dumbstruck unicorns. "I never expected that to happen and what a doozy that was!" and with that, she trots off in a happy humming.

Staring after the leaving pink pony, Medic and Twilight look at one another before both bursts into hysterical giggling which comes to a sudden halt when Soldier suddenly crashes onto them from the sky.

"I am a unicorn, maggots!"

Derpy pushes him gently away from the two.

"Oh, right, forgot about him." Medic grumbles, he searches the area and finds a good tool. "Don't you worry, I have the right cure for this." He levitates Soldier's helmet off, hits him hard over the head with a piece of wood- which breaks on impact. "There, that should do it." Medic declares and throws away the broken wood.

"That isn't really a cure..." Fluttershy mumbles weakly, too low for the unicorn to hear.

Soldier stand frozen for a few seconds, then he lets out a roar and to the mare's horrors; beat down Medic and with his helmet on again, he shouts to the floored unicorn "Welcome to the United States of YOU JUST GOT DOMINATED!"

"Good see you back again herr Soldier." Medic wheezes with a wide grin on his face. Correcting his crooked glasses from the small beatdown. "Your unicorn talk was starting to get on my nerves."

Soldier opens his mouth but before he can insult the unicorn which probably would've sent him over the edge. He gets tackled down by an overjoyed Derpy.

"You back! I am so sorry for dropping all those things on you."

"What things?" Soldier asks, not remembering that part one bit. Looking around, he notices he isn't standing behind that bush along with Twilight and Medic anymore. "Where are we?"

"Long story" Twilight smiles weakly and helps Medic back on his hooves and turns her eyes to the grey pegasus. "Thank you, if it hasn't been for you, some of us might not have been here." A certain grey unicorn nods in agreement.

"Yeah, that was very brave of you." Applejack praises her, raising a brow when Derpy shakes her head.

"I wasn't brave at all, I was scared out of my mind!"

Twilight smiles, which fades ever so slightly when she feels a certain spark in her and right in that second she realizes what is about to happen.

Soldier and Derpy both jumps when the former starts to light up, this light leaves the green pegasi, forming shards of another Element. These shards surround the overly confused Derpy. Twilight on the other hoof is quite excited knowing that this brave pony has earned an element that is the sign of it. "Even though afraid, you still went through danger to protect us. And that is why you are the Element of Courage." And just there, the shards gathers around Derpy's neck, forming into a yellow gem in form of a bobble held by a gold necklace. The light from Soldier gathers around his neck and a silver colored necklace having a gem in shape of something Twilight did not recognize, only that it looks awful like his cutiemark. It's clear that he is the twin of the Element of Courage. The light fades, leaving the two new element bearers very confused.

They aren't the only ones. "Um.. what happened?" Fluttershy asks quietly.

Twilight thinks perhaps it's best letting everypony know about this, for it is starting to get clear that these guys from the other world are connected to the Elements of Harmony. "I'll explain back at the library." She promises them. Some of them (mainly Medic) would like to know about this now but does agree on Twilight terms and they head back to Ponyville.

(at Zecora's hut)

Zecora packs four bottles with the potion that can keep her special Changeling sated for a month or so. "This should let you not worry of your hunger in your time of departure." She tells Spy there nods and lets her put the bag onto his back. "Any idea when you will return from the princess request find that unknown enemy of her?"

Spy shakes his head, he has very little to go on and this enemy Celestia spoke about could just be a red herring, but he has missed doing his former job, and he does owe her for the great hospitality he has gotten at his stay. So he will do this for the ruler of this land. "No, it might take me a while, but don't you worry mon cher." He gently pushes his head up against hers. "All thanks to you, I have learned a peaceful way staying fed."

"That is good to know my own mon cher." Zecora replies and must admit. "I am going to miss you the time you are out on your pursue."

"Me too." Spy admits and kisses his new sweetheart, this does remind him a bit when he and Sariffir were together. Except Zecora here do have a lot more zest for life than his former sweetheart. Sure Sariffir was a good woman, but she wasn't a woman for adventures, she liked being a simple housewife. He was attached to her because he was in desperate need for someone to love him after what he has seen and done, and he wouldn't have minded being at her side if circumstances wanted it, but he is now sort of happy they ended it. It did allow him to be with this lovely zebra. Yes, their time together may be limited, but both have agreed to make the best out of their time and figure out their future when a way back to Spy's world will arrive.

The sound of voices, snaps them both out of their small moment, making Zebra and Changeling step away from one another and turn their gaze to the door there opens not long after. Twilight appears at the door, she opens her mouth but stops herself when she sees the traveling bag on Spy's back.

"Are you going somewhere?"

"Mission for the princess." Spy simply replies.

Oh, okay, but hopefully he can wait with it just an hour or so. "Before you go, I would like to speak with every Element bearer and, well the future ones as well." Twilight says.

So she has realized the connection as well. Perhaps a bit more. Spy think it might give him some good knowledge about this, he is, after all, a quite curious person and would hate not knowing such an important fact about that necklace there had appeared around his neck. Maybe it will answers why he was chosen to carry the twin element of Guidance.

"Alright, I can delay my mission an hour or so." He replies the purple unicorn and turns his gaze to Zecora there also seems curious about what Twilight has to say about that matter. They follow Twilight outside.

Not far away from the hut, they find a group consisting of Applejack, Fluttershy, Medic and now two new Element bearer of Derpy and Soldier. Spy wonders what their element is. His train of thoughts does get thrown off its rails when Medic suddenly pokes one of the holes in his legs, making Spy receives the doctor's great curiosity into him.

"What an interesting form you have herr Spy." Medic says, and wonders if this is Spy's true form in this world and- "Can you feel the wind passing through the holes in your legs?"

"Yes, and it is a very uncomfortable feeling." Spy replies and takes his pegasus disguise once again. He has made it a habit dropping his disguise when around Zecora, sort of his way showing he has no wish in deceiving her which she highly appreciates.

"What about now?" Medic asks.

"No, my magic transforms my body into what you see."

"Really?" Twilight blinks, something she did not know about. "You mean this isn't illusion magic?"

Spy shakes his head, he must admit that Changeling magic does have its advantages. "This is no illusion, I am a pegasus this very moment- but I do not have a pegasi's magic over the weather. The same with a unicorn's magic and an earth pony strength and gift over plants."

"Fascinating." Medic muses and if they have still been inside the respawn's field, then he would've strapped Spy to his medical table and cut him open. But alas, he must do the testings without his tools. "I can see why this world transformed you into this form. A master of disguise after all." Spy smirks in response.

(Ten minutes later, at the Golden Oak Library)

After have gathered everypony inside the library, Twilight thinks that perhaps it's best letting the other world know what the Elements of Harmony are first. "The Elements of Harmony are the most powerful magic known to ponydom. They can however only be activated if there is a bearer to each of the Elements. At first, legends told there were only six elements: Honesty, Kindness, Laughter, Generosity, Loyalty and lastly Magic."

"Question." Soldier says.

"Yes?"

"Magic doesn't sound like the others."

Twilight opens her mouth to point out that wasn't a question but a statement, before she can though.

"He got a point." Engineer says, already so used to Soldier not know the difference between a question and a statement, he turns to the purple unicorn. "Those Elements you mentioned are virtues. Magic is not a virtue."

"True, but without the Element of Magic- the spark. The magic cannot be activated." Twilight explains, pointing at herself "I am the conduit of the magic, and like when my friends got their Elements of Harmony, I felt this spark when Zecora and Derpy got theirs awaken."

"A question if I may." Rarity says from her spot, Twilight nods and the snowy white unicorn asks her question from seeing a silver necklace looking very much like theirs are now placed around Soldier's neck. "How come Soldier has an Element of Harmony in silver and the gem same color as Derpy?"

"Well, I am not entirely sure about this." Twilight admits, turning to the griffin there says from his spot in the furthest corner of the room,

"That alicorn up in the castle mentioned something about us being connected to these Elements." Sniper shift to a sitting position, turning his hawk sharp gaze to one he thinks knows a lot more than he lets on right now. "And Spook seems to know a lot about this subject." Quote to everyone turn to the blue winged horse.

Glad to see that Sniper is back to his old sharp-mouthed self. Spy thinks and perhaps now it might be best placing all these cards onto the table. "Correct, Celestia has come to the conclusion that the men from RED and BLU- we all carry the Elements of Harmony in us. Some of these elements were long lost as they had been thrown into our world in the hope they would be lost forever."

"Did she know who did that?" Rainbow Dash asks.

Spy shakes his head. "No, all that happened long before her time. Perhaps the one who brought us here knows."

Engineer snorts at this, still remembering his interview with that dimwitted fool. "Yeah, good luck with that. The Director was the one who brought me and Medic here."

"The Director?" Spy blinks, that moron was the one? No that doesn't make any sense. "Impossible, Celestia said an alicorn brought us here."

"WHAT?!" All the mares, including Spike shouts in disbelief. Several giving Engineer an offended stare for chuckling and asks Spy in his ignorant. "What in tarnation is an alicorn?"

"A really powerful horse." Spy replies and wants to be sure he heard it right that fool was the one who brought them here. "Are you certain it was the Director?" Medic, Sniper and Engineer nods. Now that he thinks about it, he got transported here only a few days after that interview, could it have been accidental magic or have the Director been undercover all this time? Spy vote on the first option.

"He must've gotten his hands on that crazy wizard's magic." Engineer voices his thoughts out loud, explaining those there got transported here before the Director's rampage. "He didn't flinch when both Pyros sat him on fire and threw it around like Scout does with his baseballs."

"He must've gotten you before he turned then." Sniper says and explains to the other trapped humans how the Director had completely changed appearance when he stood face to face with him. "It was like looking at someone completely different, that guy was proud yet seemed humble with it and he was bloody strong. It wouldn't surprise me he's currently kicking the others back home up and down the battlefield."

It does make Medic wonder, Twilight mentioned illusion magic. "Is it possible to hide your whole identity with unicorn illusion magic?"

Twilight nods. "Yes, but it is a tricky spell as it requires a lot of concentration and magic to keep it up so a simple hit can make the spell break."

"Well don't that sounds like something we all know." Demo laughs and takes a swig of his bottle. The mares look confused at him, to then at the others there all send Spy a stare which the Changeling throws back saying. "That trick won't work on me anymore. My disguises aren't powered by a machine but my mind; I have to fully lose my concentration or get knocked out before it breaks as I use very little energy and concentration keeping my disguises up."

"So Jarathe still works." Sniper grins, wider when the now blue winged horse shoots him a death-glare. "I will tear you to pieces if you even consider throwing that stuff at me you filthy good for nothing bird-brain!" Spy snaps and does looks rather intimidating even in this pony form. There is the Spy he remembers and of course; now recovered, Sniper is more than happy to throw back. "And how are you planning on that without hands? The worst you can do is kick me." Spy looks like he highly considers doing just that but stops when the pony there looks very much like a zebra puts a hoof on his shoulder. And with that single move, the infiltrator calms down. Wow, just wow, that pony must really have some dirt on him to keep him in check like that.

"If you two are done throwing insults at one another." Engineer says, giving the two bitter rivals a stern stare which both of course completely ignores. "I would like to know if all of us are corrected to these Elements of Harmony or just a few of us."

"Celestia likes to think we all have an Element of Harmony in us." Spy replies the yellow horse-bird hybrid and nods towards the necklace there had appeared around his neck when Zecora got her own Element of Harmony. "Some of us has a lost Element."

"Like the Element of Guidance and Courage." Twilight says, but it is clear that these lost elements won't be the only ones appearing around these humans necks. "But, like Demo demonstrated." Nodding to pony in question. "It's not only the lost Elements there will appear."

Applejack nods to then make a small jump when Pinkie suddenly appears out from the bookshelf with an overjoyed: "That. Is. So. AWESOME!" She cheers, jumps over to where Demo stands and before he can comprehend what is going on, she has pushed him over to Applejack. "We will get a partner of our Elements!"

Applejack and Demo look at one another for a moment, Demo smirks and Applejack chuckles lightly to the others. "Yeah, it seems like it."

"So um... which one will get what element?" Fluttershy asks quietly.

"Yeah, which one is going to become my partner?" Rainbow asks, she gets no answer, in fact, all of the new arrived seem unsure, much to Rainbow's annoyance. "Come one, which one of you are the loyal one?"

Spy rolls his eyes of that pony's ignorant. "If it has been that simple; I would never have become an Element bearer."

"What element do you have?" Engineer asks.

"Guidance" Sniper snorts amused and Spy for once does not gets offended for he too finds bit the irony in this.

"To find your virtue of the element from this realm, the creatures from the other world has to be true to their self." Zecora says and smiles to Spy there returns it with his weaker ones and explains everyone in the room. "As Zecora said, the Elements are a virtue, it does not mean someone has to follow this virtue all the time. "

"It is knowing when the time right brings the element out to light." Zecora finishes for him.

Spy nods to then raise of brow when Medic suddenly starts to giggle in his high pitched tone.

Alright, now he sees why Spy earned that element. "Proving your point by doing your element herr spy." In what Spy replies with a smirk. And now having a better understanding of these strange necklaces and why that apparent not what he seemed Director brought them here. Medic thinks he has learned his share for today "Perhaps I am not speaking for all, but I would like to sleep on what we have learned today." That and he is still high on the adrenaline of almost getting eaten by a pony eating hydra.

"This new information was quite the mouthful." Rarity admits, looking over to where the griffin lies from his remark. "Then try finding yourself in another world and body, THAT's a mouthful." And she must agree with him on that. "Oh my, I'm surprised you took all of this well."

"He didn't." Spy points out smirking of the memory watching Sniper in his panic mode back at Canterlot. Said griffin shoots him a glare.

Oh yeah, Twilight completely forgot that several of them arrived today. Which means they don't have any place to sleep, she voices this to her friends, asking. "Can some of you house our guests?"

"I already got Engineer covered." Applejack says with said stallion nodding agreement.

"Hm, I do have a spare room, needs a bit cleaning though. I have been using it to store my fabric." Rarity says but is certain she can fix that room right up for one of these stallions so they can get their rest from today's hardship.

Better than a barn he guesses. "I would like staying there, frauline." Medic says and thinks that if the room is big enough and if they will stay here for a while, then he will ask Twilight for some books about this world.

Rarity nods and turns to the way more polite griffin compared to the one Rainbow Dash was friends with. Speaking of the rainbow mane pegasus. "Oh Rainbow, don't you have an extra room as well?"

Rainbow opens her mouth- "I predicate the offer." Sniper stops her words before the rainbow mane pony can speak. "But I am going to find my own place to sleep." For he has honestly gotten enough having others around him and would really like some peace and quiet- which this Rainbow Dash is not going to give him from how much she reminds him of Scout.

With that set, they all leave the library. Twilight closes the door after Zecora and decides to write Celestia two letters, one about what Pinkie taught her today and the second about this discussion she had with her friends and the other world ponies.

Chapter Text

More of the mercenaries are gone, great... just great. Miss Pauling thinks gloomy, things for her is just getting better...
Keeping the war going now will be almost impossible and worse, the cameras watching the remaining mercenaries have revealed that some of them are showing signs of awareness of the connection. Something she really hopes she never is going to tell them. Miss Pauling stops her scooter right beside RED base, and about to head inside but stops when she realizes that the mostly remaining team hadn't been joking that half of their base had been blown to pieces. Miss Pauling stare a few seconds of the great sign of destruction- or rather the lack of burn marks. The damage is very, well clean. No bombs could've done that. Perhaps the prisoner can explain what the hell he used against the base and why he decides to wipe half a team out.
She heads inside, hoping that the second part of the report has been wrong. Engineer meets up with her at the door.

"Glad you could come this soon, miss."

Miss Pauling nods, this hasn't been her first time traveling half a country over a single night. Doing it for the mercenaries is her first, though. Last time she did this was because Scout was being stupid and tried setting up some sort of date or something. She's not sure but must admit the fight with that bread monster was sort of worth it. "Medic hasn't killed him?" She asks Engineer
Engineer shifts on his spot "Well, not yet; been a few close calls, but-" He takes off his goggles, a sign she recognizes that he is going to be serious about something. "-that's the least of our problems. Soldier is starting to act weirder than usual."

"Weirder how?" Miss Pauling asks wary, Soldier has always been a very loose cannon when it comes to being crazy, the only one who could beat him was Pyro but the Firebug isn't here at the moment, so Soldier has taken the spot as the crazy mercenary.
Engineer gestures her to follow, they find Soldier marching around with a very blissful look on his face. Miss Pauling cannot see anything wrong with that. "I don't see anything wrong." For her it means that Soldier won't try kill everyone with his patriotic paranoia.

"He said the president hired him and he has been chosen to guard some town." Engineer says and after have made sure Soldier is out of hearing range, he adds seriously. "And that's without the pony nonsense, said that town he is protecting is filled with hippie poines. Before that, he thought he was a unicorn."

Okay, that is rather weird, Pyro was the one suppose to be talking about that kind of stuff. "Has he been wearing Pyro's goggles lately?"

"Nope, but Spy says he got affected when the other Soldier got— what was it again?" Engineer asks out loud in wonder.

"He got an anvil, a cart filled with hay and a piano dropped onto his head." Spy replies, appearing beside them. Startling both Engineer and Miss Pauling. With former saying highly annoyed. "Stop doing that!"
Spy smirks, it does drop when Miss Pauling asks frowning. "How do you know that?"

"I see and hear what my counterpart has been doing through my dreams." Spy replies, tapping lightly between his eyes. "He didn't see it happen but the Doc's counterpart made sure to tell everyone about it." And of course about that hydra that almost ate him. Must say his counterpart ended up in a weird place, but he also understands why BLU Spy has gotten lazy finding a way back. "While in my waking hours I occasionally deal with his more extreme emotions. Quite curious I must admit, never experienced such things at the war games." And it is starting to make him think they are more than just clones to one another. Throughout these months, seeing and feeling what BLU Spy has been through, RED Spy here begins theorize they are strongly connected. How he is still unsure about.

Oh no, Spy is getting a bit too close to the truth for comfort. "When did it start?" Miss Pauling asks, doing a very good job hiding her worry about what she is hearing.

"About a week after his disappearance, these episodes sensing his emotions and see what he has been doing through my dreams has gotten stronger over time." Spy replies and is certain that everyone except Scout and Heavy is having the same episodes from their counterparts as him. Demo did mention he got a very sudden and powerful urge to visit his mother for no apparent reason, and Soldier... well, it sure was hilarious watching him suffer the after effects from his counterpart's knockout. Speaking of these emotion episodes. "Tell me, Miss Pauling, do you happen to know why I can feel the BLU Spy's emotions?" Not that he complains, but he does wish these moments of bliss belongs to him and not the BLU Spy.

"Must be a glitch in the respawn machine." Miss Pauling lies and knows she has to report this to the Administrator as soon as possible. Especially when Spy is the one having it, he is smart and it's only in a matter of time before he starts nosing around. "I will get some of our engineers to look at it."

Engineer frowns and feels quite offended by Miss Pauling for not asking him to look at this. "I could look at it, would save you a lot—"

"No, this is out of your field Engie." Miss Pauling stops the Texan, ignoring his offended stare, but the last thing she needs is Engineer figuring out the secret the respawn holds. Turning to Spy. "Until then, I will have to take you off the matches." The connection between the two will be strongest right after a respawn. Spy nods but from the look in his eyes, Miss Pauling knows she has to keep an extra good eye on him. He will try and follow her that's for sure. "Now, your prisoner?" She asks in desperate attempt getting out from this very thin on ice topic.
Engineer leads her to the room most often used for clarification on missions, on the door is a piece of paper with the word 'interrogation' slapped on, from the handwriting, Miss Pauling knows Soldier wrote this. Going inside Miss Pauling is relived and yet shocked finding REDs prisoner alive. There is no doubt about it who this is: the Director, but how can he be alive? She shot him twice in the chest and buried him. Maybe it is someone disguised as him? No, the disguise would've faded the moment Medic started poking at him. Could it then be someone just looking awfully like him? It has to be, for she is certain the Director is rotting in that mine she buried him in.

"Doc, Miss Pauling is here." Engineer declares. Medic turns away from the barely conscious and very bloody prisoner, giving the shocked Miss Pauling a smile. "Ah, so good you could come. This man is quite an interesting specimen."

"How?" She asks, still shocked finding the Director here. By Medic's request, she steps over to the chest open man, then to the bullets Medic shows her. "I pulled these out from his chest, one of them are from our Sniper- he's gone now. And these," Pointing at two bullets she recognizes as she had been the one who put them into him. That proves it who this is, even though she cannot believe her own eyes. "I found one of them luged into his heart, extreme healing saved his life, but," The doctor turns his gaze to the man. "Either he has run out of that healing power or he can only activate it under certain circumstances. He almost died on us when I poked a bit at him."

"You mean when you took out his heart." Engineer remarks from his spot.

"I put it back, and I am glad I did." Medic objects as if they are merely talking about a vase misplacement and returns the bullets back onto the medical table. He takes out a scalpel from the same table and cuts into the Director's arm, letting some sort of black ooze flow out. He steps back, allowing Miss Pauling to see this strange wonder. "Most of his blood has this oily substance in it and it is not oil, its something I have never seen before." He explains, excited to figure out this mystery.

Before he is going to mess around with the Director's organs again and possibly kills him. "I would need to speak with him first, so be kind to put him back together, Medic." Miss Pauling tells him calmly. Medic rolls his eyes but does as asked. After about ten minutes from the healing medigun, the Director is fully patched up and conscious again.

"Get this mental sicko away from me!" He screams, struggling against the strapping and when that fails he cries out loud. "The police- no the entire world is going to hear about this!"

Yup, that's him alright... "Mister Director, I am sorry about your current state, but could you tell me what the last you remember?" He shoots her a glare, declaring. "That this man- who should be in a prison from what he did during the war was you cutting my chest open like he did to those people in Aus—"

"Mention that place and I will truly show you what I did." Medic sneers, holding his bonesaw up to the man's face.

Before the Director can say something there will get him killed, Miss Pauling steps in between. "Medic, what about you take a walk? Engie, go with him." Engineer is smart enough to listen and guides Medic out from the room, leaving her alone with the man. Miss Pauling sighs, that was a close call. Turning to the strapped in man. "Now, tell me what you remember after the interview with me in the mine."
Turns out he didn't even remember that part, in fact: "Your Nazi must've knocked me out and done experiments on me all this time." He proposes which Miss Pauling knows is not true, after the BLU Spy head incident, the Administrator has put up extra cameras around the infirmary and all the two Medics have been doing was putting all kind of weird organs into the other team members. But since this is the Director, Miss Pauling knows that trying to correct him and telling him the truth will just end up with a big headache, so she asks him instead. "What about—" But before she can finish her question, Soldier suddenly barges into the room.

"Prisoner not talking?! Don't worry I'll make him talk!" And before Miss Pauling can stop him, Soldier punches the Directer hard over the head, knocking him out.

"Soldier!!" She cries furies at the interruption "I didn't tell you—oh never mind." It wasn't like she was getting anywhere anyway. With a sigh she turns to the slowly returning to conscious man, he looks at her. "He doesn't remember... anything." Miss Pauling stops herself, taken by surprise that the Director's eye color has changed. Instead of black, they are now purple. And he isn't screaming at Soldier either, in fact: he seems more annoyed. Wait what? It might be a stupid idea but it's not like the Director is going to leave here alive. "Soldier, hit him again."

"Yes, sir!" Soldier salutes and hits the Director but as he goes for the second hit the Director sends Soldier a death glare. "Hit me again and you will dearly regret it." He threatens with a slow but very superior tone. Soldier hesitates, sensing he is somehow talking to a superior officer so he does the smart choice of backing down.

With that nuisance over, the man then turns his now bright purple eyes over to the woman, as if for the first time seeing her. "And who you might be little lady?"

Miss Pauling doesn't answer, too taken aback by the sudden personality change in this man. Only when she realizes she was asked a question, she replies him. "Miss Pauling, and you are?"

"Ignis, Soldier of the Solar clan."

Ignis? That's the Latin name for fire. And he is a soldier? No, the Director has never been in the army, less alone a clan with the Latin name of the sun. Is this really the Director? "Um, Mister Ignis, do you know where you are?"
The man looks around for a moment before he turns back to her with a calm: "Looks like a base of some sort— which reminds me. What side are you on: North or South?"
Miss Pauling blinks of that question. "I am not sure what you mean."

Ignis sighs and explains while trying to get his strapping loose "I would like to know if you are confederates or not. Would prefer not beating down people I chose to side with."

Confederates? As in the American civil war? But... that was over one hundred years ago! "Are you talking about the civil war of America? The one to free the slaves?" Ignis nods to then ask her confused. "What? Am I missing something?"

"...That was a hundred years ago."

"Wow, what have I been doing all that time?" Ignis ponders out loud, not at all bothered that he should be a hundred years old. He checks his bindings again and finds what he is looking for. "So, which side won?"

But Miss Pauling did not answer him, instead, she leaves the room and asks the sulking Medic. "Did he have any trace of Australium in him?" Medic blinks, but she really does not have time for this. "Yes or no, Medic."

"No, besides from the black ooze in his blood, there is nothing special about him." Medic replies.

She begs to differ. "Wrong, he just told me he is a hundred years old." She tells him and Engineer, both men get their own form of surprise. Engineer's jaw drops while Medic looks like he really wants to cut the Director- or Ignis up again.

"Actually, I am four thousand years old. give or take a few hundred." Ignis explains while leaving the room, caressing his bit sour hands. Soldier doesn't try and stop him, still thinking Ignis as a higher officer.
Ignis eyes the men and notices the startled look they give him, he shrugs. "What? You learn how to get free from such strappings after have been tortured a couple of times." Everyone in RED base except Miss Pauling and Soldier aims a weapon at him. Ignis is not impressed, though. He rolls his eyes. "Come now, if I was out to harm you I would've done it by now."

"Fuck you man!" Scout snaps at this man, like the rest, he still remembers what happened yesterday. "You burned some of our team members to a crisp!"

"I did not." Ignis objects offended by such a statement, crossing his arms. "I used a teleportation spell on them. They are fine, startled perhaps, but fine."

Hold up, this man is the cause of half the mercenaries getting taken away? Now that she thinks about it, BLU Spy did disappear only a few days after the interview. And with the perpetrator revealed Miss Pauling do sure hope this will be her stroke of luck. "Good, so could you now bring them back?" She asks the very different in attitude Director, but it seems this is not her lucky day.

"Sorry little miss, but they will have to ask one over there." Ignis replies and thinks he may owe these humans an explanation. "I can only transport people with my fire magic when I can see them. I cannot bring those I transported back, but something must've gotten wrong." His purple eyes land on Engineer, clearly remembering throwing a transportation spell at that one. "You should've been transported by my spell."

"Yeah, you transported my clone" Engineer tells him dryly, not lowering his gun in case this fire user decides to try the same with him.

Clone? "What is a clone?" Ignis asks this is the first time he has heard that word.

"A clone is an organism or in our case a person who is completely identical to one another." Medic explains the man, said man turns to him, still looking quite confused. "You mean like a twin?" The man asks and Medic replies with a nod.

Hm, well that does explain a bit, he guesses. Still way over his head though. "Alright, still bit weird and that's saying a lot since I have seen a lot in my time here." Ignis points out, stroking his hand through his hair. There he realizes that his hair, heck his body is covered in dark magic; making it look very weird. "Ah shoot... whatever happened I must've gotten into one heck of a fight with a shadow creature. Ugh, I'm soiled in dark magic." He winches at this knowledge, does explains his large lack of memories. Looking around, he spots something he can use. "Mind I use this?" and with a flick of his hand, the small spark in Spy's cigarette burst into a bigger flame, startling the masked man into a fit of French curses. Ignoring that one, Ignis makes the flames surround him with some much-needed healing fire. Perhaps he should've warned them, for the whole team starts shooting at him. "At ease!" He calls and uses a quick levitation spell to force their weapons down, giving him enough time to dismiss the healing flames and is glad he now looks a bit more like his old self. "I'm not going to kill you! Sheesh, you humans are so jumpy." He snorts and puts a small spell over his flaming hair, making it look like normal human red hair.

Getting over the shock of the sudden fire and loss of weapons by some magic from this one, the team slowly calms down, sensing attacking this one won't work anyway.
Miss Pauling is more shocked seeing this man control fire with his mind and now looking like someone on her age with flaming red hair and somewhat strongly yet still thinly build. "What are you?" She asks.

"An alicorn." Spy replies, much to everyone shock, except Ignis, he is more pleasured surprised. "Yeah, how did you know?"

"My clone mentioned it." Spy says slowly, and has to asks for this new and very strong connection to BLU Spy is starting to unnerve him. "Mister alicorn, do you teleportation spells create weird links to others clone?"

"Didn't happen when I teleported a pair of twins." Ignis replies and titles his head for the only time such a connection happen. "It only happens to split souls, but that is some nasty business." Noticing the sudden tension in the room, Ignis looks around to figure out why. "What? Are you going to try to kill me again?" He asks annoyed of these humans constantly trying to kill him.

"No, not you." Medic turns to Miss Pauling there shift uncomfortably on her spot. "But perhaps someone else."

"Is our soul split?" Heavy asks from his spot, giving the Administrator's assistance a firm look which does make her the more nervous.

For the first time in her life, Miss Pauling is afraid around these people. She knew she should've shot this Ignis the moment he said he was thousand years old. "Of course not." She lies as she had been forbidden to tell them this truth about their current situation, and she might've gotten away with the explanation that they are simply clones if not for Ignis meddling.

"One moment." The alicorn says and puts a hand on Spy's shoulder, showing the man how it feels to get startled. Ignis uses a quick spell and can tell this world's bearer of the Pillars: "Your souls are split. Not as messy as the last one I witness, but still, this is bad news."

"Holy crap!" Scout gasps and probably voices what everyone is thinking. "Our clones are the missing half of our souls!"

"What harm does a split soul cause?" Medic asks this Ignis, for so far it hasn't bothered them at all having only half of a soul. It's only after the disappearance of their counterparts there has steamed up this strange occurrence. Like him suddenly just accepting that RED Demo's sword has a head thirsty spirit inside, it was very weird since he has tried figure that mystery out ever since Demo got that sword.

"And how come I am sensing and having dreams of what the other half of my soul is going through?" Spy asks, knowing that BLU Spy is part of him makes him really reconsider of not wanting him back. He wants his soul back, he wants to be whole again.

"I do not know about the second question." Ignis admits as there could be so many factors about that part and none he is smart on. But he does know what happens if a soul is split for too long. "Getting your soul split causes a lot of trouble. For starters, your lives get greatly decreased—" everyone in the room gasps hearing this and ponders how long they would have before their cut lives have reached their end. "— then there is the longing to be whole again, the longer the soul is split, the worse the longing will become. The last case of a split soul I witness, that poor sod was only a shell of his former self; I presume it was because he had been driving insane at the longing for his second half."

Is this what he is going through now? The longing? How long until these small emotion episodes will get so intense that he will lose his mind? He fears the answers. "How does a split soul mend itself?" Spy asks, everyone in the room turn to the ancient man but to their horror: "I don't know." Ignis says with a helpless shrug.

"Well, I'm not going to sit around while half of my soul is on the other side of the battlefield." Scout declares and would've run off but is stopped by Miss Pauling's words. "Don't bother Scout, you will kill one another."

"Miss Pauling knows about this." Heavy rumbles, he steps over to her and demands what is everyone's mind. "Tell us why."

Feeling there is no way around this, Miss Pauling sighs. "Haven't you taken notice you're feeling extreme hated towards your counterparts?" She eyes every single of the remaining REDs several of them are exchanging glances with one another. "I do not know the cause, perhaps it's an after-effect of the soul split. All I know is that this loath you feel towards your counterpart makes you fight and your need to- as Ignis said it; become whole. It has made you stay close to one another without knowing why. That is why you always return after leave, and that is why we have to bring those Ignis transported back: before you start losing it." She eyes said man there caused all of this, but he is no help by saying:

"Or I could just teleport you over to my world."

Miss Pauling opens her mouth and tells him he should not as this war is halting enough as it is, before she can though, Scout opens his mouth."Uh, why did you transport half of the teams anyway?" Everyone turns to the alicorn in a quiet agreement of their confusions.

Ignis has to take a moment to remember why. "You all for some reason carry the Pillars of Virtue. Don't ask me which, I can only sense them because I was once a bearer of one of them: Bravery or Courage, take your pick. But I lost the right to that when the Beings of Darkness corrupted me, hence to my former appearance." Gesturing at himself for them to get the picture. "I was commanded to go here and retrieve the lost Pillars. It took me longer than wanted but I found them: in you." Gesturing at all the mercenaries.

"So that's why you snatched Sniper?" Scout asks and Engineer adds with his own question. "And the BLU Engineer and Medic?"

Ignis crosses his arms, he is starting to get a bit annoyed by this interrogation vibe he is getting, but he guesses it can't be helped. "As I said; you all have a Pillar of Virtue inside of you. There is something to it I am sure."

"Wait, you kidnapped them on a hunch?" Miss Pauling asks in disbelief, more so when this ancient human shrugs like a child not realizing he is in deep trouble. "When you say it like that..."
Quote to her face-palming. "Oh my god, how can a millennia old being like you do such a thoughtless act?"

Ignis can't help but laugh at this. "What can I say? Immortals like me do- as you say it, human mistakes as well."

"You're immortal?!" Miss Pauling gasps utterly shocked getting this new fact.

"All celestial alicorns are immortal." Said immortal says as if it's no big deal, it isn't for him anyway. But even though he won't die of old age, he can still die of hunger. "And this immortal is starving, do you have anything to eat? No meat, if you please." And leaves the dumbfounded humans in search for something to eat.

Heavy is the first to recover from this shocking newsflash about their new... guest. "Say to Administrator we need talk." He tells Miss Pauling hard before leaving to aid their new immortal guest finding food in their kitchen.

"I agree with Heavy." Spy says as he fears he is the one who most has to worry since BLU Spy- the other half of his soul has been gone the longest and thus he has the bigger chance of losing his mind first.

Okay, this before annoying situation is getting serious. So unless she wants these men on her bad side and shoots her the next time she visits them. "I'll get a hold on her right away." Miss Pauling says and hurries over to call the Administrator, worried how much trouble she will be in from how Ignis told the RED team about the truth to why BLU team looks like them.
To be honest, the Administrator wasn't happy about this new development and at evening, the remaining of RED team along with Ignis can get a chat with the woman. Ignis did ruin the serious moment by showing an almost childish wonder when seeing the transportable television the Administrator uses to communicate with the Mercenaries.

"So, is this human magic or what?" Ignis asks in a wonder of the object strapped to the messager and has a grouchy woman inside. "For even with my magic, I can't make myself THAT small."

Helen is not amused by this one bit, "Of someone who is a thousand years old, you aren't very smart are you?"

Ignis shoots the woman inside this object a glare. "Listen lady, last time I was in control of my own mind, you humans gun couldn't fire more than once and you sure hay didn't have machines like the microwave. So my apologies if I a bit out of date as of late."

"And out of touch." Helen remarks, and after a long inhale of her cigarette. "You have been causing me a lot of trouble with your reckless behavior." She points out and while on that topic. "So I would ask you return my mercenaries back so we can return back to the war."

"Can't do that, I have to be there in person to teleport someone else and since I am still on a mission and kinda stuck here myself, I can't go back to fetch them for you, so..." Ignis on purpose trails off, letting this very unlikable woman figure out herself that her mercenaries will have to spend a bit more time in his world.

Speaking about coming here. "How did you end up here?" Engineer asks this very old but very young looking man.

"Dragon magic mixed with my own." Ignis replies simply, noticing the odd look everyone except that woman gives him. "... I forgot to check if this world had any dragons. Turns out: you only have them in legends."

Scout just can't help but laugh how stupid this seemly immortal man is. "Man, you're dumb." To then shooting Spy a glare when that snake remarks back. "Says the idiot who tried jumping over an active sentry gun." And said immortal laughs much to Scout's annoyance.

But in all seriousness. "I'm a soldier, I never thought I would be the one going here, but one of my people's scholars. But it was desperate times, my people were in a war with disharmony in itself— I sure hope everyone is alright..." He muses, for sure a lot can change in two thousand years.

"If rest is strong as Ignis, then your people will be fine." Heavy ensures the man, Ignis sends him a thankful glance but he did not really look convinced.

Helen honestly doesn't give a darn about that man's people, all she cares about is getting her hired guns back so she can return back to this staged war. "You owe me soldiers Ignis. And if you cannot bring those you took back, then you will have to fight in their place."

Ignis can't help but chuckle at this woman thinking she has the hand over him. "And what will you do if I refuse? You have nothing over me and your remaining soldiers already have seen what I can do." He has fought armies bigger than this bunch and although their weapons have become better, they can still not hold on a burning piece of metal.

But Helen has other plans with this one, according to the video she got from his first attack: Ignis is a one-man army with a ridiculous soft heart. Something she will use against him. "I doubt you will refuse my offer mister alicorn. If you do not fight, then half of their souls will perish—"

"What?! You going to kill us?!" Scout exclaims horrified which quickly turns into anger. "Fuck you lady!"

"We're not going down without a fight!" Soldier declares loudly.

"I certainly hope so." Helen replies somewhat gleeful she managed to rattle these morons. "A new and bigger army of robots are attacking and—" She flicks a button outside the screen, the REDs flinches feeling a small pain going through their bodies, unaware that the BLU team felt the same. "Your respawn is down."

"WHAT?!" The whole team shouts horrified more so when the alarm goes off followed by the Administrator calling out for both teams. "The robots are attacking, protect Mann co!" With her adding to the RED team new visitor. "Don't bother sending them all to wherever you have been sending them. Their integrated hatred will make them kill each other before they get the chance to figure out how to become whole again."

"As much I hate to agree with her... she's right." Spy says, he has more than once tried to converse with his BLU counterpart, but it always ended up with them fighting and one of them going through respawn.

Speaking of them wanting to kill their counterparts. "Scout and Heavy, your counterpart is still around; so you better stay clear of them." Engineer says and pulls Medic over to his workshop. "And we better find a way keeping everyone alive." Medic agrees and follows Engineer so the two can brainstorm ideas to their now lack of respawn.

The rest reluctantly moves out to defend this place and mainly themselves against the army of robots. Ignis follows but does stop to tell the smirking woman on the screen. "You are one evil woman."

"Don't flatter me." Helen replies of what she considers a compliment. Trashing her cigarette, she tells her assistance. "Return back to headquarters Miss Pauling, I have a few missions for you."

"Yes, ma'am." Miss Pauling nods and leaves along with the messager, she does feel a bit bad for the mercenaries but has long learned to push such emotions aside; her loyalty does fully belong to Helen. She drives away from the battlefield, listing to the sound of bombs going off and bullets getting fired against the robots send by some unknown enemy.