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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.

Chapter Text

At first, everything is muffled and unclear, but slowly, Rainbow Dash gets her sight and head straight enough to realize that her right wing hurt- not to mention bandaged and she is inside a hospital room. Realizing that, Rainbow knows this means her stunt in the air has failed and now she is trapped in the probably worst place ever! She groans loudly.

Worried for her friend's well-being, Twilight asks the unicorn doctor checking Rainbow Dash's radiograph of her wing. "How is she doctor?" The cream-colored stallion puts down the radiograph of Rainbow's broken wing, ensuring her and the other mares inside the room. "She is going to be fine. Luckily she has friends like you who got her over in a jiffy." He adds smiling. Twilight lets out a sigh of relief, happy that Rainbow isn't as hurt as feared. Twilight do wonder if she can ask the doctor if she could get that radiograph to Rarity's new housemate, thinking he perhaps would find it interesting since he does have a medical sign for a cutie mark. Before she can though.

Rainbow Dash is already feeling impatient of being stuck in a medical bed and would like to get out from this place before she dies of boredom! "How long do I need to lie here?" She asks the doctor pony annoyed. "I've got things I need to do!" Like finishing that new stunt of hers.

"Well, that all depends on your recovery, but I'd say a few days minimum." The doctor replies and not one bit amused by this pegasus's whining of the short wait: "You guys have gotta get me out of here! I'm gonna climb the walls!" Less so when one of her friends; a pink earth pony thinks that sentence meant the pegasus has been turned into a spider and asks him excitedly. "Did the crash somehow give her super-duper spider powers?" He steps away from the pink pony there did not know the term 'personal space' with a drawn out no, adding. "Nor did it give her amazing healing powers. She needs to stay in bed for a few days." He tells Miss Dash hard as he will not be argued with this and with that said. He walks over to the other bed to see how that other patient is doing.

Hearing that from the doctor is the worst news ever. "Few days? Might as well be a few months, or a few years!" She complains loudly and covers her head with her slightly bruised hooves, thinking she will bore herself to death long before the first day has passed! She drops back into the bed and although she appreciates her friends trying to cheer her up that it won't be so bad. For her, it will, more so when Pinkie Pie reveals who her roommate will be for the next three days: that griffin...
Rainbow narrow her eyes and crosses her hooves seeing Sniper here, but does wonder why he ended up at the hospital with bandages all over his chest and back. "What is he doing here?" She asks rather rudely, the griffin can't answer her at the moment, he's unconscious.

Twilight can though. "You accidentally crashed into him when you lost control over your flight." Eyeing the griffin and does feel a bit sorry for Sniper, he had been minding his own business on the cloud when Rainbow crashed into him and unbeknown used him as a pillow for her own fall.
She sure hopes he looks worse than he is. "How is his condition doctor?" She asks the doctor stallion.

Picking up this patients radiograph, he replies the unicorn mare. "He's dealing with a few broken ribs and head trauma, but like your friend, he should be fine in a few days." And leaves the room to attend other patients.

Twilight turns back to Rainbow Dash, noticing the huge scowl on her face and can figure why, Rainbow Dash hasn't still fully gotten over her former griffin friend turning her back on her in a very rudely manner and it seems she is very biased against him for it. "Give him a chance Rainbow, Sniper's not so bad when you get to know him."

Rainbow snorts. "Like you know him..." After all, compared to the others, Sniper has kept for himself and never wanted any part of anything they do. All he really did was sitting on the roofs for hours like some kind of living statue.

Twilight shift on her hooves, feeling both embarrassed and bad that Rainbow Dash did speak the truth. Of all the turned humans there has come here, Sniper is the one she knows the least about. Her thoughts about that griffin do go off the rails when her ears pick on a very familiar sound, looking to the door she smiles seeing a nurse pushing a book cart. She gets an idea how Rainbow can kill the time, storms out to the book cart and find a book she is certain Rainbow would like. She pokes the sulking under the duvet pegasus with it and puts the book beside her. "What's this?" Rainbow asks frowning and reads the book's title out loud. "Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone."
Twilight taps the book, unable keep her excitement down for this awesome book series. "This is the first story in the series. I own all of them."

Not one bit impressed over this suggestion of the lamest thing second to be stuck here, Rainbow throws away the book. "No thanks. I so don't read. I'm a world-class athlete." And somepony like her does not sit down and read, after all. "Reading's for Eggheads like you, Twilight." Said Egghead frowns for that remarks. "Heh, no offense." Rainbow smiles weakly, but her point still stands. "I am not reading. It's undeniably, unquestionably, uncool." And much to her surprise, everypony of her friends starts to laugh.

"Is she serious?" Applejack asks, still chuckling of how Rainbow sees reading. "Who doesn't like to read a bang-up tale from time to time?"

"Why, a good book is almost as magnificent as silk pajamas on a Sunday morning." Rarity agrees, although most of her reading happens through a magazine she does like to pick up a crime fiction now and then.

Levitating the book back to her bed stuck friend, Twilight tells Rainbow. "Reading is for everypony, Rainbow Dash!" She along with rest of the group turn their heads to Pinkie blabbering about her head not being in form of an egg but closer to different fruits. Her river of words does get mildly interrupted when one of the nurses arrive, informing them all. "All right, my little ponies. The patients need their rest now. You'll have to come back tomorrow."
Twilight nudged Rainbow lightly. "I think you'd like Daring. She's a lot like you: Adventurous, fierce, and undeniably, unquestionably, unstoppable." She says and with that, leaves along with the others.

Barely an hour after her friends have left, Rainbow is already bored out of her mind. She gets hold on a ball and starts throwing it against the wall, but does miss a hit when her roommate growls from his spot. "Cut out that bloody racket already!"
The ball ends up on the floor where she cannot reach it, annoyed Rainbow Dash turns to the curtain blocking her view to Sniper. "About time you woke up." She remarks, but all she gets back is a grumbling sound. After what feels like twenty minutes of silence but in reality only five minutes, Rainbow gets enough to this eerie silence and decides she might as well use this grumpy griffin as her small entertainment. Pulling away the curtain, she asks him. "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
no answer.
"To get over the other side."
Again no answer. Rainbow groans loudly of the treatment he gives her. "Come on, I'm bored out of my mind here!" She waves frustrated at the painstaking silence griffin, Gilda would've been better than this one. Speaking of that former friend and what all griffins seem to have in common. "you griffins really are some rude—"

"I'm not a griffin." Sniper grumbles, turning to this really annoying pegasus there reminds him a bit too much about Scout. "I'm a human. Your bloody world turned me into this form."

Well, at least she got him talking. Rainbow smirks weakly. "I say it suits you. You remind me a bit about another griffin I knew." The smirk fades into a sad frown, but Rainbow quickly hides her sadness losing a childhood friend behind an angry frown. "She pretended she was my friend, but in reality, she was just rude and mean to my real friends." She eyes this other griffin, blinking when she notices he is staring sharply at her. "What?" She demands angrly. "Got something to say bird-boy?"

Ignoring the tamest insult he has ever gotten, Sniper turns his back again to Rainbow Dash. He saw her true emotions to that griffin friend she spoke about, how much it hurt losing that friend. But he will not encourage her to talk about it, he doesn't really know how. He has never been good at talking about feelings, less so his own. Besides, it seems she has already decided what he is, like what people back home do when his accent reveals he is from Australia. He hates being labeled like this but it seems no matter where he goes he cannot get away from being seen as a stereotype of his country. Or whatever form he gets turned into.

Rainbow Dash groans loudly when Sniper once again gives her the silent treatment, but does get the hint and irritated pulls the curtain between them again. A bit of her boredom does get slightly removed during lunch, but after that, she is bored again and in her great need to get rid of it. She starts to play with the table light, more so when it starts to annoy Sniper. Her light on and off game gets to a sudden stop when a tissue paper box hits her square on the face. "Av!" Only thing saving her from getting knocked out or hurt is because it was a paper box thrown at her. Rainbow shoots the just as much glaring Sniper an angry look. "What was that for?!"

"Stop playing around like you're some brain-dead mongrel." Sniper growls and turns his gaze down to the book on her nightstand. "Read your bloody book or something instead. Anything to give me some peace and quiet." And he goes back to his nap again.

"I don't read." Rainbow objects, shooting the book a glare as if it has just offended her before declaring to the trying to nap griffin. "It's undeniably, unquestionably, uncool."

Sniper rolls his eyes of this mare. "Add unbelievable stubborn to that list. Give me the book." Rainbow blinks, he resists the urge to roll his eyes again. "You heard me, give me the book before you start to make me think about jumping out from the window." Yes, he has considered doing it from how annoying she has been this short half hour. Rainbow throws the book over to him, which he catches without a problem. He reads the title of this book. "Hm, sounds like an adventure book." And does looks to be the kind he read as a child, he opens the book and starts to read it out loud. "As Daring Do trekked through the tropical jungle, the wet heat sapped her energy and slowed her every step—"

"I didn't ask you to read it out loud!" Rainbow snaps annoyed.

Finally, he can give her some of her own medicine, Sniper smirks and continue reading out loud. "If only she could escape this oppressive atmosphere and fly up into the cool blue sky. But her crash landing in the jungle had injured her wing and she was grounded for a few days. Few days... it might as well be a few months or a few years—" He glances to Rainbow from a sight escaping her and she muses as she can relate to that. "I'm right there with you, sister." Then she notices he is watching her. "I still think this is waste of my time." She defends herself, crossing her hooves with a big frown on her face. Sniper rolls his eyes, thinking this pegasus really needs to get over her own ego. "Maybe, but I'll you know I have tried been stuck out in the wilderness with—" Why is he telling her this? Why should she care he nearly died out in the bush when a misstep threw him over a cliff, broke his arm and he had been so far from any help that he had been forced to find back on his own. Must say that episode really put his survival skills to the test. "Never mind." He shakes his head and returns back to the book, ignoring the look the blue pegasus gives him, he starts reading again. "The mosquitoes buzzed loudly. The macaws cried from the high trees. Yet all of these distracting noises were not enough to cover the sound of the predators following her every step.
She hid behind a fallen tree, watched the trees for the predators she could hear approaching, but she had been miscalculating. The predators weren't in front of her, the biggest of them all, a huge pony-eating tiger was right behind her! She stared right into the beast's maw filled with teeth sharp and long enough to piece her hide easily. It would've bitten her head clean off if not from Daring's quick reflexes. She got away from the tiger's jaws, and could've easily gotten away from the beast even with her broken wing but turning around, her escape path was blocked by a black partner, maybe not as big but still a big threat for the grounded Daring. Desperately Daring Do looked around for other routes but everywhere she looked, more predators arrived in form of the sharply clawed lynx and a cheetah there was more than fast enough to catch Daring. All hope seemed lost as the big cats of the jungle surrounded Daring, but then, a pathway showed when the smallest of the cats- a small white housecat appeared. Daring Do ran to the hissing cat, easily got over it. She was far from being out of danger, though as the bigger and deadly predators took the pursuit, Daring ran between the trees of the jungle in attempt get the predators off her tail, the leaves hitting her head meant nothing, only the sounds of the roars of the predators catching up to her, they got closer and closer by the second. Daring thought she might be able to outpace them, after all; cats were only fast in short distance but her plan of outpacing them was cut short of a huge gorge blocked her path. She was trapped. With the sound of the predators approaching, Daring Do, now more than anything wanted her wings, with them this gorge would be child's play but with one of them broken, she couldn't fly and unless she found a way across; she would become cat food.
Daring searched for any path of getting across, she found one and without a second of hesitating that she might not make it, she jumped and by an inch got hold on the vine hanging over the gorge. The vine held her weight and with a wave to the predators, there has been hunting her for days.
Safely landing on the other side. Daring finally allowed herself a moment to breathe. She turned around to find herself face to face with the long-lost temple that she had sought tirelessly for over sixty days and nights."
And Sniper stops on purpose, turning his gaze over to the exciting looking Rainbow, yup, she is hooked. "Still find this book boring?" He asks smirking, must admit that he too find this story quite interesting. Does reminds him a bit of his own trips out in the bush— minus the treasure hunting.

Rainbow really hates to admit it but.... "I... I love this story!" And she really wants to know what is going to happen next— even if he doesn't, she will read it to figure— She stops herself and realizes what she has just been thinking, she... "I'm an egghead!" She gasps of what has happened thanks to that griffin. Doesn't make it better he is grinning widely. "What have you done?!" She exclaims as if this realization is the world's apocalypse.

"If the egghead doesn't like the label, then perhaps I should read this myself." Sniper says and flips the page to read this rather good book on his own.

"No!" Rainbow cries, winching of Sniper giving her a smug look for being pretty much in control of this situation. The pegasus crosses her hooves and says in her attempt to win this argument. "I'm not an egghead... you're the one reading."

Well if she says it like that, Sniper throws the book over to her. "You read it then." She shoots him a glare but he is enjoying this a tad too much to care. "Go on Egghead, read the story."

"I'm not an Egghead!"

"Sure and I am no griffin."

Rainbow Dash is not sure if he said that as a joke or a statement since he is clearly a griffin... and yet he is not if looking at what he was before coming here. She groans loudly but is too consumed of want to know what's going to happen next in the story that she drops this argument. "Ugh, fine..." And starts to read out loud. "With the treasure finally in her sight Daring Do went towards the entrance to her goal. The smell of decay and danger hit Daring Do as she peered into the dimly-lit entrance of the ancient temple. Still she dared go into the hallway, refusing letting this stop her from reclaiming one of the biggest treasures in history. Deeper inside the temple Daring was sensing something was amiss, this was getting too easy. And it was, one misstep and a plate underneath her hooves gave under. The sound of metal behind the walls was the only warning for Daring Doo, she ducked, feeling a gust of air above her head of the three axes there had been flung at her from the trap. Daring had only a moment of time to recover from having almost lost her head, as by the sound of it, the traps of this ancient temple were far from done. The floor underneath her tore itself open and feeling a gust of hot air from the place, Daring swiftly threw herself across and thus only her tail got torched by the pillar of fire blasting up from the trap, she took one step away from the flames before she had to throw herself to the floor, pushing herself past the crocodiles biting down in hope getting her as their next meal. Axes slized past the floor and poison arrows got fired on Daring, somehow she got past them but ended up yet another trap this temple was throwing at her, spikes jolted up from the floor, Daring Do had to jump for every time she landed before the spikes could piece her. The sound on the other side of the room Daring realized that unless she hurried up, she would be trapped inside this room of everlasting traps, she had to hurry! Running as fast her hooves could carry her, Daring Do ran against time of the closing door, slowed down by the spikes still trying to reclaim her like many others before her. She got underneath the door just by a hair, taking a moment to regain her breath, Daring moved towards her whole reason putting her life on the line. The temple was not done on keeping her away from its treasure, all the way through it threw one death trap after the another after her, but she refused to give up and finally—" Rainbow reads eagerly but before she and Sniper can get further, a knocking on the door snaps Rainbow out from the story and not wanting to reveal that she is an egghead. Rainbow hides the book under the duvet just in time when Twilight and Fluttershy step into the room, greeting her.
"Uh, hey, guys..." Rainbow smiles weakly as she is not happy about this interruption and so much would like how the story of Daring Do will end.

Seeing that Sniper too is awake, Fluttershy greets him as well, the griffin simply nods in return and the yellow pegasus says to Rainbow, figuring she has been bored out of her mind. "We thought we'd come and cheer you up."
Twilight levitates Rainbow's favorite board game. "We know how much you like to win."

Sniper smirks as he is the only one seeing how unenthusiastically Rainbow is at this and how much she would like going back to the book. She has no patient that's for sure and it amuses him to no end seeing her try so desperately get them to leave that she on purpose lost the board game.
Twilight and Fluttershy are of course confused over this behavior with Twilight pointing out. "But hours back you were desperate for things to do!" He has to cover his own face with a pillow so he wouldn't laugh at how Rainbow almost broke this ridiculous cover of her not being an egghead.
"I told you I'm not interested in reading." She fakes a yawn "It's nap time for me!" and pretends to be asleep. Fluttershy didn't really suspect anything but Twilight sure did. She gives Rainbow a long stare, then glances to him and Sniper does a way better job pretending that he is tired.
The two leave and with their shadow's gone from underneath the door, Rainbow Dash picks up the book, but before she can continue, Sniper does feel like remarking. "Try to keep it more natural the next time you want them to bugger off."

She shoots the griffin a glare before Rainbow returns to the book. "Daring Do stood at the entrance to the central temple chamber. At last, she was face-to-face with the legendary sapphire statue! But from all the past traps she had to endure, Daring Do knew that getting to the statue wouldn't be that easy. Before her was a stone carpet, filled with pictures of animals. Daring Do spotted small holes on the walls on each side of the chamber and her past experience told her those holes were hiding countless of deadly arrows, but in case, Daring picked up a stone and threw it out to the stone carpet. The stone landed on a picture of a hawk and as expected, the many holes from the walls fired countless arrows, all with her name on if she did not figure out this riddle before her. "Hmm, there must be a pattern here." Daring Do mused to herself while scanning the many animals onto this stone carpet and trap before her hooves. "What do all these animals have in common?" There were pictures of a cat, a lion, a wolf, rat and a hawk, that was the clue! "These animals are all predators... except... rats!" and she stepped onto the picture of the rat, for a brief moment she feared she had been wrong, but when no arrows fired from the walls, Daring Do could breathe out in relief her hypothesis has been correct. She leaped from one rat picture to another, more than she would like to admit almost missed a step and activated the trap of arrows. But Daring Do did make it and she jumped safely over to the Sapphire statue—"
Rainbow read through all the night, not noticing that she is reading only for herself as Sniper sleeps quietly from his spot, and because she did not see him sleeping, she continuely reading out loud how Daring Do almost got killed by the lava trap there activated when Daring reclaimed the Sapphire stature, but got away by a hair and ended up before a nemesis of hers— "Hello, Rainbow Dash!" and Rainbow snaps out from her story, and once again quickly hides the book, turning to her roommate she only there realizes he has been sleeping for real and just now awake, all thanks to Pinkie.

Pinkie walks inside with Applejack and Rarity right behind her, the latter asking. "How's our patient doing today?" Turning to Sniper there replies with a yawn. "Doing fine."
"That's good." Rarity smiles.

Noticing how sweaty Rainbow is, Applejack suggests. "We need to get some fresh air in here. You're looking sweatier than a pig wrangler on a summer's day."

Why do they have to come on a visit at the worst time? "Uh, well, guys, thanks for visiting, but—"
"Okay, now, dinner time for Rainbow Dash and Sniper." The nurse interrupts her and rolls in both her and the griffin's dinner. Perfect timing! "Oh, just in time. I am sooo hungry." Rainbow exaggerated exclaims, she did not see Sniper roll his eyes at her.

"Oh, well, don't mind us, Rainbow Dash." Rarity says with Applejack adding. "Yeah, just go ahead and eat up."

Oh, come on! Why can't they get the hint! Rainbow internally groans, well guess she will have to be a little creative. Rainbow takes some of her food and on purpose eat with her mouth open, making sure they can see the food getting chewed. About to grab more, a pillow gets thrown at her, she shoots Sniper a glare and the griffin returns it as if saying without words that she should eat properly, looking ready to throw some of his own food at her if she continues with this gross eating. Grumbling, Rainbow eats normally again, all the time glaring daggers at the griffin. Not that it works for he is firmly ignoring her and eating his own dinner quietly.
She is about to start eating grossly again when Applejack asks. "Is the food good?"

"It's hospital food." Sniper replies, playing a bit with the gelly tasting like cheery. "It's boring but healthy."

Applejack smiles weakly, not entirely sure how to respond on this. "Oh um, well then it's a good thing you only have to stay here for a few more days."

Sniper really struggles not to show his surprise hearing that, He knows from the pain he was in yesterday that his ribs were broken, but now the pain has faded throughout the night. The only explanation for him about this rapidly healing is either unicorn magic or some kind of healing stuff like the medigun in the food. He eats the last of his food, eyeing Rainbow who almost twitches in her need to read that book. He wonders why he does this for that annoying mare, she could use some patience but... "Sorry girls, but I'm not in the mood for visits." He tells the three, nodding towards his bandaged chest. "It still hurts."

"Oh, well of course." Rarity says and fully understands Sniper's need to be alone and heal. She turns to Rainbow Dash and has to apologize since this means their visit has to be cut short. "I'm sorry darling, perhaps we can visit you later?"

Okay, that was rather clever of him, Rainbow isn't even sure if he lied or not. "Um, there's no need." She tells them, making the three blink and she nods to her own wing. "It aches from healing, so I will be sleeping most of the time, anyway."
Her three friends nod they understand and with Pinkie saying: "See you two when you feel better!" And leaves along with Applejack and Rarity.
With them gone, Rainbow turns to Sniper who has a smug grin on his beak. "I told you it would work better if you play it naturally." He says, it sure did and Rainbow is impressed he knew it would work this well. "Done it before?" To her surprise, Sniper's smile drop and drop slightly his gaze. "Yeah, I have."
She wonders what's up with him now, but before she can asks. "Don't you have a book to read?" Reminding her of the whole reason why she wanted her friends to leave. Forgetting about Sniper's bit strange behavior, Rainbow Dash pulls out the book and begins to read out loud. "'You thought you could evade me and capture the relic for yourself, but you are sadly mistaken, Miss Do. And now, you shall meet your doom!" The menace cried to the sky and with the whistle, Daring Doo's great rival had stolen from an animal tamer, the predator big cats surrounded the battered Daring, each holding a rope or a weapon they would use if she tried anything. But both she and her rival knew that would not happen, Daring was still too weak from escaping the temple's last trap. Her rival laughed manically of her defeat—' Whoa! Who is this dude?" Rainbow interrupts the story briefly before she starts reading out aloud again for both her and Sniper. "The big cats tired Daring Do and by their master's command, brought her back to the temple, where her rival tired her up against a stone altar for the past civilization sacrifices. "You won't get away with this, Ahuizotl!" Daring Do told her greatest rival and enemy.
"But I already have." Ahuizotl mocked her and activated the lever for this room's death trap. He waved her farewell and left the room along with his feline lackeys.
"Not again..." Daring exasperated sighted of again being stuck in a death trap showing to be spiked walls moving towards her from both sides but no matter how much she tried, she could not get free from the restraint. the room wasn't done with throwing stuff there could kill her though, looking down Daring realized that the room was getting filled with: "Quicksand!" She gasped, struggling harder against the restrains—"
"Rainbow Dash~!" the voice of the doctor snaps Rainbow out from the story and realizes she and Sniper are no longer alone. "Oh, good evening." she greets the doctor with a weak smile, again hiding the book.

"Morning." The doctor corrects her.

"—morning. Doc"

The doctor eyes the turned up lamp beside Rainbow's bed, frowning lightly. "Have you been up all night?"

"Uh, of course not." She quickly turns off the light, giving the doctor pony a weak smile.

"Well, I'll be quick. Congratulations, Rainbow Dash, we're checking you out of the hospital." The doctor pony explains with a smile, sure this pegasus will be happy with the news.

Unbeknown to him, she is far from happy. "What? Later today?" Rainbow asks nervously, afraid she might not have enough time to finish the book, She notices she is biting her hoof and quickly puts it down. The doctor shakes his head, saying. "No, right now." Much to her horror. "Right now?! 'Right now' right now?" She asks in a state of panic.

"'Right now' right now." The doctor pony replies amused and let two of the nurse inside, and while they get Rainbow Dash out from her hospital clothing and into the wheelchair. The doctor turns to the griffin, explaining him. "I'm sorry Mr. Sniper, but I would like you to stay a few more days as I do not know how fast your kind heal." Sniper nods he understands, unbeknown to the doctor; hiding his great surprise that he had been healing naturally these three days.
With that done, the doctor explains Rainbow Dash as they leave the room with the nurses. "Now take it easy, Rainbow Dash. Remember to stay off that wing for a week."

Before Rainbow truly realizes what has just happened, the nurse pushing her wheelchair has taken her outside and closes the hospital door after her. Rainbow Dash turns around to the closed door and more importantly, where the Daring Doo book is. "How will I ever find out what happens to Daring Do?!" She exclaims completely out of it that she had been interrupted and forced away at the best part of the story!

Inside the hospital and with the nurse done with preparing Rainbow's bed for a new patient, Sniper leaves his bed, does winch once from the small but sudden jolt of pain going through his chest. But considering they were broken only three days past. It's not bad. Not compared to how he has been killed in the war games, this pain is nothing. It simply took him by surprise. Stepping over to the now empty bed, Sniper grabs the Daring Do book about to return back to his bed but stops when he hears Rainbow's voice outside. He throws the book gently over to his bed before he walks over to the window where he can see the rainbow-haired pegasus trots back and forward the hospital, wondering out loud about how the book of Daring Do would end in a very distressed manner. He snorts seeing this to the self-proclaimed too-cool-to-read pony practically panics because she can't read the book right now. "Wanker." He muses but knows not all have his patience and if Rainbow is anything like Scout. Well, she will get in a butt-load of trouble just to get hold on that book. Sniper groans, he hates to do it but Rainbow is part of the team, and it's his job support the team the best way possible. even if it means getting in trouble for it.

***
(nightfall)

Dressed up completely in black, Rainbow Dash sneaks over to the hospital, she cannot take the front door thanks to the night-guard but that did not matter for a window on the second floor is open, she swiftly flies up there and when inside, she uses every object in the hallway as her cover. Hiding behind a big potted plant as her hiding spot when the doctor walks down the hallway. When he is out of sight, Rainbow leaves her cover and sneaks towards the room she had been stuck inside. Like how she imaged it in the book, the moonlight hits the door, showing the way to the treasure. Rainbow smiles and sneaks over to her Sapphire Statue. Inside the room she is extra careful not to wake Sniper sleeping behind the curtain, she would hate he would see her go through all this trouble just for a book- he mocks her enough being an Egghead as it is.
She gets to her bed and realizes that not only is there a new pony there, but the book is nowhere in sight. She checks under the bed, but all there is down there is a pair of slippers. Could the new pony be sleeping on it? Before she can move up and check, this trap activates and the pony cries out in alarm. "Somepony's trying to steal my slippers!" She swiftly leaves the spot, the frighten pony throws his night lamp at her, but that one's got nothing on Sniper's sick aim and she easily dodges the lamp. Speaking of the griffin, she spins to that bed and sights out in relief he hasn't awoken and quickly leaves, disappointed she didn't get her treasure. Out in the hallway, she realizes why she couldn't find it. A pony further down the hallway has it in their mouth, trying to take her treasure away! Rainbow is about to follow but is stopped when the nurses and doctor appear, reminding Rainbow of the predators from the book as they surround her, giving the real thief the chance to get away. Not on her watch! She leaps over the smallest of the ponies and does catch up to the thief, that until her wing cramps up and she crashes. The real thief stops, revealing to be Sniper. Both pegasus and griffin give each other a confused and surprised look before either can ask what the other is doing. The sound of the alarm sends them both into a small panic.

Sniper recovers quickly though, he has been dealing with this before, he pulls Rainbow by the tail and both flee the hospital, still with him holding the stolen book in his mouth. He runs towards the nearby forest with Rainbow close behind. Putting his many trips out into the wild to good use, he pushes Rainbow into a bush and jumps up onto a tree. The doctors and single guard pass by them, but from the looks of it, they will be coming back soon. Jumping down, Sniper signs to Rainbow she should follow, she nods awfully seriously for once and they run the other way. Their chasers catch up to them near the river, Rainbow relive Daring Do by using a vine to get across while Sniper simply leaps over and lands rather hard which send a jolt of pain through his still healing ribs, but again nothing compared to what he has before endured.

Watching this seemly boring griffin do a stunt like that in such an awesome manner, recovering like it was nothing, Rainbow cannot help but see Sniper as a griffin vision of Daring Do and her respect for him greatly increases, more so when this badass griffin only has to nod to get the message across. Grinning of being part of a real adventure, she follows Sniper who knows exactly how to avoid their pursuers in form of the ponies from the hospital but also her friends who woke up because one of the hospital ponies kept barking like a dog.
When the hospital ponies finally gave up and her friends gone back to sleep. She and Sniper leave the cover under the bridge. She turns to Sniper. "That. Was. AWESOME!" She cries excitedly and would've said that he is a real-life vision of Daring Do and he is way more awesome than she first thought, but before she could do that, Sniper hushes her down. She puts her hooves up to her mouth, but still wants to say this. "You are way more awesome than I thought."

First time anyone has called him awesome and coming from this pony, Sniper know it is the best compliment he can get. But he doesn't really see the big deal of this, those ponies weren't hard to get rid off. "I've tried worse." He shrugs, frowning when the almost squalling Rainbow jumps up beside him. "Have you been fighting big predatory cats?" She asks with eyes glowing with excitement. He takes a step back from the sudden intrusion of his personal space and question of his trips out in the bush. "Yeah, but mostly crocodile." He replies a bit unsure about how to handle this excited Rainbow. He waves up to his slouch hat which has the teeth from one of those beasts around the crown. "These come from the biggest I've fought, He took a bite out from me— oh, you can't see it because of the fur but I have a bite mark on my left leg." He explains, eyeing his left leg he almost lost when that monster crocodile bit him and almost took it off under a death-roll. Turning back to Rainbow he is not sure why she has a look as if she stands before her biggest hero or something. It's making him a bit uncomfortable. "Here." He hands her the book there caused all this trouble. "Be sure to return it when you're done." And leaves the pegasus to return back to the hospital before the nurse realizes he has left.

***

(a few days later)

Rainbow puts the stolen book down before the hospital window and flies off, she hates to do this but Rainbow has realized that if she wants to read the other books, she has to admit to Twilight that she too is an Egghead.
Fortunately her fear that Twilight wouldn't let her borrow the books because Rainbow called her an Egghead has all been in her head. In fact, Twilight is happy Rainbow admitted she likes to read as well

"See, everypony likes to read something." Twilight smiles after Rainbow Dash confession of being- what she calls it, an Egghead. She walks over to the shelf where all the book of Daring Do are located in her library. "And like I said; I have every book in the series, and you can borrow them all, any time you like!"
Rainbow Dash beams hearing that more so when Twilight levitates the next book of the series over to her.

Rainbow is very close just to take the book and read it, but then she remembers all the things she had said when Twilight gave her the first book, thinking back on it now makes her realize she has been really unfair to her friends. "I'm sorry I made such a big deal about all of this." She apologizes to the unicorn, scraping embarrassed her hoof over the floor. "I thought reading was just for smart ponies like you..."

"Rainbow Dash, just because you're athletic doesn't mean you aren't smart!" Twilight smiles but winch when Spike proclaim himself both smart and strong and starts kissing his arms. Fortunately, the dragon quickly stops embarrassing himself and Twilight can tell Rainbow. "Reading is something everypony can enjoy if they just give it a try."

That Rainbow Dash can agree on and now sort of happy she gave the book thing a try. "Yeah, I get it. I shouldn't knock something until I've tried it." Twilight nods and suggesting to write that down as a letter to the princess, Rainbow will- when she is done with this new book. She flies home and about to start but stops when she read the title of this book: Daring Do and the Griffon's Goblet. That reminds her.
Putting down the book, Rainbow flies out to find Ponyville's own griffin, she lands on the roof where Sniper is sitting. He dosesn't even look at her when he speaks.

"Did you finish the book?"

"Yeah, and..." She hesitates for a moment, but like with reading, it seems she greatly underestimated Sniper. "Thanks, if you hadn't pushed me, I wouldn't have known how much I love reading. I... I was wrong about you."

"No worries" Sniper simply says, hiding his surprise of getting praised by this over-blown ego pegasus of all ponies. Guess even Rainbow can be humble. He returns back to keeping an eye on everything going on in this town. He waits for Rainbow to fly off, but to his small surprise, she doesn't. Wondering why he asks her. "Is there anything else you want to say?"

Yes, and that is the question. "What are you doing?"

"Observing."

"Can you teach me?" She asks hopefully. Sniper finally turns around to look at her, she can't see his eyes thanks to those sunglasses but from how he continually keep staring at her, she is pretty sure he is surprised. Yeah, she is a bit too herself, but after having seen how awesome he can be. Rainbow would like to get to know this pretty much real life vision of Daring Do better.

Well, isn't this a surprise, Sniper thinks and not sure how to react to this sudden request other than. "Alright." No one has asked him to teach them anything before, it's humbling really but that will not stop him from insulting her. "But I doubt you can last more than ten minutes before you start whining."
Rainbow steps over to him. "Is that a challenge?" She demands angrily but that smile of hers betray her true feelings.
He returns it with a smirk. "A challenge you won't win Dasher."

Oh, that is so much challenge accepted!
Rainbow takes a seat beside Sniper and both start telling one another what they spot around town. It proved Sniper was the better one, but Rainbow wouldn't mind do this observing thing again, it is quite fun when doing it with Mr. Eagle-eye here.

Chapter Text

(Equestria)

Deep out in the badlands, a kingdom of its own is preparing for conquest and expansion. The ruler of this kingdom turns her eyes away from the huge army outside her castle at the sound of magic. Behind her stand three shadowy creatures, the one in middle has taken form as her kind.

This being of dark magic and shadows bows to her. "You serve the darkness and the darkness hears your call."

The one to the left continues with the same voiceless speech. "One of Harmony's servants has summoned beings of humankind to aid the bearers, one chosen is of your kind. The darkness you serve has one command: drain this supporter of the Element bearers and let the darkness fill his heart."

The last of the three points east. "Obey and the Human turned Changeling will be yours to command." With those words, the two shadow ponies disappear, leaving behind a small cluster of black gems. The one bowing straightens up, waiting for the queen to do her next choice.

The queen hesitates for a moment. She has heard stories about the beings of shadows from her mother, she thought they were only stories of warning to be a good changeling. But she has never been good, if she had, then she wouldn't have killed her own mother and made her people into conquers instead of weaklings as her mother made them into. She smiles down at the shadow creature, feeling proud she has been allowed to stand witness and now control a being of legends. So what if she has to obey this darkness a little? It did promise her what seems to be a very important Changeling.

She calls for some of her grunts and moves out where the shadow pony pointed her to.

The shadow pony in form of her kind leads her to her target. The pony the shadow being led her to at first looked to be a normal pegasus pony, but then, by looking him in the eyes, she realized this pony is one of her kind. This is the Changeling the beings of shadows spoke about.

After have led him away from unwanted eyes, she commands her grunts to attack him. He does put up a good fight, but he is weak from not have fed for a while. Yet, he is not starving.

She checks his saddlebag and finds the reason to why and can't help but laugh at this one trying to be a good changeling. "Your foolish decision of not following your nature to feed on love will cost you dearly." She starts draining what little love he had in him to begin with. When done, she steps back, letting the being of shadows do its job.

The changeling made out of shadows forces its way into the drained changeling, chocking him and from someone who has torn her mother's throat open, this queen must admit that watching a changeling grunt twist and turn in his fight against this living darkness there is both choking him but also changing his mind to its and thus her need, that is a bit unnerving but she isn't complaining. Knowing he will soon be under her full control.

(Human world)

"Spy!" Red Heavy cries when his team Spy suddenly drops to the ground, gagging as if he is getting drowned even though they are far from water. Heavy shoots the robots there had been trying to kill the down spy, with the imminent threat over, Heavy grabs the choking spy and carries him over to Medic. "Doctor! Something wrong with Spy."

Medic turns his medigun on the man, but whatever is blocking Spy's windpipe is not going away, that must mean it's not an injury. "Take him to the infirmary." Medic tells Heavy, the big man nods and both hurry back to base. Inside Heavy carefully puts the now unconscious Spy onto the table, letting Medic do his job.

Medic turns on the medigun stationed here, setting it on low healing and cuts up Spy's throat, but there is nothing there. "So why are you choking?" He wonders out loud while letting the medigun close up the cut.

When this horrible feeling of getting chocked finally stops, Spy can finally breathe properly again, but for once that is a really bad thing. Like the one in Equestria, RED Spy has been affected by the darkness; not as much but enough that he becomes a danger to those near him. He tears out Medic's scalpel and plunges it deep into the doctor's shoulder, only his disorientation saves Medic's live "Meurs toi sale nazi! Je vais te faire crier! Je vais te faire souffrir autant que j'ai!" and he would've stuck true to his words, it not for Heavy.

"Spy!" Heavy forces the suddenly very aggressive man down, never seen him lose it like this before. "What is wrong with you?!" Spy didn't seem to hear him though, and even though he cannot France, the message is still pretty clear "Mort les nazis! vive la France!" and Spy jags the scalpel into Heavy's arm but the big man refuses to let go, even when this thrown back to the war spy is cutting up his muscle tissue.

Okay, this is starting to get bad. "He's exactly like Soldier before he got used to me." He muses and is happy Heavy got him, otherwise he and Spy might've killed one another. They have to stop it before that dead person turns into Heavy.

Said man meets his gaze, his own grey eyes worried but strangely calm for the situation. "Call Ignis." Heavy says simply. Medic nods and hurries out to find their immortal soldier.

"Ignis!" He calls the man currently blowing up a small army of robots with his fire magic. Ignis turns to him with a questioning look.

"Something very wrong with Spy" Medic swiftly explains him and asks the man to hurry. Ignis follows him back to the infirmary of the scene Spy struggling on the floor against Heavy who has steadfastly held him down even with his hands and arms filled with deep cuts and his own blood is everywhere.

It at times like this that Ignis is impressed with humans, their stubbornness can be quite admirable. "I got him." He tells the badly wounded man, Heavy nods and lets go of Spy. The Frenchman jumps to his feet, screaming his country's battle-cry with his weapon in form of a bloody scalpel raised. Ignis uses his levitation magic on him, stopping the clearly lost it Spy and forced the man back down onto the floor. "Okay, I can see what you mean." He remarks to Medic.

Medic doesn't answer right away, he is busy healing Heavy up before the man dies permanently from blood-loss. With the last cut closed. Heavy thanks him. "Thank you doctor." Medic simply nods in return and puts the medigun back onto its spot.

"Tell me what happened." Ignis says.

Medic helps Ignis restraining the still insult yelling Spy. "Well, Heavy came in with him when Spy looked like he was getting chocked, but I found nothing in his windpipe. The moment the choking stopped, he got like this."

Even though Heavy does not consider Spy a friend, he still does not want to see him distressed like this. "Anything we can do?" He asks.

For someone who can be so scary looking and brutal in a fight can so kind-hearted, that's what Medic really likes about Heavy. Turning back to Ignis in wonder what had caused Spy to snap like this. "Do you know what is happening to him?" For he has no clue and that is frustrating.

Ignis steps over to Spy, ignoring the insults about not being a proper soldier he gets from the man. He uses a tracer spell on Spy and is quite surprised what he found.

"He's been tainted by dark magic— not this man, but the other part of his soul." Ignis explains, and this is not some minor pony dark magic he senses from the man's other half. No, this is really the bad kind. "And the worst kind of it. This purer form of dark magic can twist your personality; make someone into their worst self. And with what you people see daily, the dark forces have a lot to work with. I was tainted by dark magic as well when you first met me."

"But you brushed it off like it was nothing." Medic objects.

Oh, he wishes it was that simple, Ignis thinks gloomy. "Yeah, but that's because it was a minor form of dark magic. But even with the weaker form and me being pretty powerful; I was tainted and turned into someone so unlike myself for a hundred years. Dark magic- like any other magic wears off over time. But the purer the magic: the longer the time. If I got tainted like Spy here, it would only weaken after... about a thousand years, give or take. And even though you humans do not live that long, someone tainted can do a lot of damage even in a small timescale." It was a good thing he was tainted by a weaker kind of dark magic, Ignis does still remember the horrors of what would happen if an alicorn gets tainted by pure dark magic and gets turned into the Bringer of Disharmony. This world would suffer if he ever got tainted by pure dark magic or gave into the Dark Forces.

If that is true, then Spy cannot wait it out like mister immortal here. "How do we fix it?" Medic asks him, nodding to Spy who has finally stopped throwing insults but Medic thinks he prefers that over this dark sinister stare the man is sending them.

"Some light magic should do it." Ignis replies and explains before the man asks him to throw some light magic at Spy. "Hold up, it's not that simple. Light and dark magic is not that simple. They are in tune with emotions, but I am not the alicorn you would like to play with such delicate magic."

"Why may I ask?"

"I am specialized in offensive magic, never been good at passive magic. The only passive spells I am good at is a tracker spell. If I try casting the spell needed to heal your comrade; I'll probably blow him up." Ignis explains, being a soldier he was never trained in passive magic and even an immortal like him cannot learn such kind of magic without a proper teacher.

Note to self: never let Ignis try out cooking or anything not involving fighting. "Dully noted, but can you at least tell us how Spy got tainted?" For Medic would like the others does not see his truly twisted side, they will never trust him with anything ever again- if they don't kill him on the spot that is.

Ignis sighs, this is a bit too close to home in his case. "If a bearer gets corrupted and stays for too long: the Pillar of Virtue- the strongest magic my kind has ever known- it won't work on that bearer anymore. That's why I cannot bear the Pillar of Bravery anymore. If the dark magic doesn't get purged soon, then we will have to search for a new bearer— which this ancient magic only chooses every five hundred years."

This Pillars of Virtue Ignis speaks about, could it be the same as the Elements of Harmony his dreams of that colorful place filled with just as colorful ponies spoke about? Is that place real? Medic is not sure, all he can say that this is getting serious and like the World War, Medic does not like where this is going.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

(Equestria, Sweet Apple Acres)

Okay, he must admit that the two weeks being here has flown by very fast, and yet he hasn't been doing much other than helping the local ponies with a few repairs here and there. For Engineer, this feels like a very weird vacation and, well he really likes it. It's been ages since he last could relax like this. Today, however, there is no need for him to build anything. Nope, instead, he is standing in line with everyone else, waiting to buy a mug of the Apple family's apple cider.

Sniper passes by him with his own mug in claws, noticing the Texan, the griffin stops with; "You can look forward to this, mate." Lifting the mug. "It's bloody good, and I'm not much for apples to begin with."

"Must be one helluva drink, then." Engineer remarks and is once again surprised how relaxed he has become around a RED like Sniper here. The griffin nods and says after having taken a sip of his mug. "Hopefully there will be enough, Pinkie and Demo are both pigs and hogging several mugs to themselves." and Engineer just can't do other than roll his eyes of those two. Pinkie is weirdness incarnation and Demo is a drunkard with an insatiable taste for a good drink. "I'm sure the Apples has enough." He ensures Sniper although it feels like he's more likely ensuring himself.

Sniper just shrugs.

Speaking about ensuring, Engineer knows he might be overstepping it but besides from Demo, Sniper is one of the few trapped here there have loved ones back home. "How are you faring? Worried about your parents?" Sniper tail flicks once in the sign that he did not like being asked such a question, Engineer has been spending enough time around normal cats to recognize signs of irritating. "Sorry, I shouldn't have gone there."

Sniper grumbles, if the BLU Engineer has a son who is practically held prisoner by his ex like the RED's, then he can see why Engineer wants to get home as soon as possible. "Yeah, but I can see why you are asking. You have a son too, right?" Engineer nods slowly, the feathers working as his mane drops slightly. Yeah, Sniper thought so. "Don't worry about me, my parents never wanted my money to begin with and they have been doing fine without me before." And with those words, he takes flight, something he's sure going to miss when they leave this world.

Engineer watches Sniper fly away before returning back to the line, about a half hour later, he gets to the stand and can throw in the two of the many gold coins he has earned from the many repairs he has done while being here. Young Apple Bloom pours him a mug and Engineer can now see what Sniper meant. "This is good, better what I get back home." He tells the family and does wonder if the better taste has something to do with earth pony magic. The Apples beams of his compliment but does not have time for a chat as the line is still long. Not wanting to stall those behind him, Engineer moves out of the way, taking small sips of this very delicious apple cider. He finds Medic a bit away from the line of ponies, he too has a mug of cider and is enjoying it while reading a book he borrowed from Twilight. "What are you reading doc?" Engineer asks, taking a seat beside the light grey unicorn. Still weird he has to look down at the usual taller man, but he is not complaining.

Medic chuckles lightly. "Oh you know, just a bit of research on this world's magic." Using a levitation spell to show the book pages to Engineer. "It's quite fascinating what they can do. Weather control, faster plant growth- the list goes on!" He laughs and reclaims the book. "Twilight taught me how to do a proper shield spell— it reminded me of the upercharge except this spell can protect more than just one person- or pony in our case now."

"Sounds like you're having fun." Engineer remarks, thinking that last time he saw Medic like this was when he operated the upercharge hearts into them.

Oh, Engineer has no idea! "I am starting to understand why Spy got a bit lazy finding a way home." Medic points out, yes he did take notice how much their master of espionage is very calm about being stuck here and seemed more at home among the ponies than the BLU team. "This world is awful, well welcoming," He admits and is not sure how to react to it really. He has done some terrible things, mentioned some of them by joking it to Twilight. And like any other sane person, it did freak her out and yet she accepted him faster than most people would. He's not used to someone lecturing him not to do such things. And do a small joke of their own past mistakes with an awkward smile, he's used to people calling him a nut-job with the ponder if they should shoot or run the hell away. "I'm not used to such behavior." He muses, glancing up when Archemides lands onto his head with a seed in its mouth, he doesn't need to ask where that seed comes from. He turns his eyes to a certain yellow pegasus with pink hair, she gives him a weak but sweet smile as she passes by them.

Engineer follows the doctor's gaze and is rather surprised that the shyest pony in this town has managed to befriend Medic of all people. "How in tarnation did you two become friends?" He thought Medic would scare her away the moment he opened his mouth.

"We both have an interest in birds." Medic replies, admittedly too a bit surprised that Fluttershy turned into a completely another pony the second she spotted Archemides and before he knew, they were chatting about birds.

Well, don't that beat all? Engineer thinks amused and is about to make the joke that Fluttershy might be Medic's Element of Harmony partner but before he can, Applejack's voice makes both turned humans turn to the apple cider stand.

"Sorry, everypony! That's it for today!" and the whole crowd of ponies 'aww' in disappointment. Rainbow Dash, who was the next in line flies up in front of Applejack, saying highly irritated she didn't get any cider. "Surprise, surprise. You ran out again!"

The crowd agrees with a caramel colored stallion crying out. "Yeah, you always run out!"

"Seems like this is a yearly problem." Medic remarks up to the now taller than him Engineer before he returns back to his book. Engineer, on the other hand, decides to walk over and see if he perhaps can aid the Apples with this cider shortage.

Applejack jumps onto the stand, telling the angry crowd of ponies "Hold on, everypony. We've done our best to improve supply this year-

"You always say that!" The same caramel colored stallion cries.

"And it's always true." Applejack retorts softly, explaining the other ponies. "But Apple family cider is made with love and integrity, and only the highest quality apples in Equestria. Sorry, but that recipe takes time. If you all just be patient, we'll have plenty more tomorrow." She tells the slowly leaving but still greatly irritated crowd of ponies.

Engineer walks over to them after the crowd is more or less gone "Sounds like it's a yearly issue." He remarks and asks his fellow country pony. "Anything I can do to help?"

Applejack jumps down from the stand, grateful for Engineer's offer but, "Thanks but there is nothing you can do—" A sound she did not recognizes but one Enginner did cuts their discussion short, along with everypony else turn to the approaching vehicle. "What in Equestria is that?" She asks, blinking at her fellow Southern pony when he replies. "Looks like a truck with some machine on- I wonder what it does." The horse/bird hybrid ponders out loud.

This vehicle stops right beside the Apples stand, rudely breaking part of the fence to the farm, much to Granny Smith annoyance. Two lean and tall unicorn stallions leave the vehicle.

"Well, lookie what we got here, brother of mine, it's the same in every town."

The one without a mustache says, leaping over to Berry Punch and Demo, saying in his sing-song speech. "Ponies with thirsty throats, dry tongues, and not a drop of cider to be found." Looking around as if searching for this cider, he leaps back to his brother.

"Maybe they're not aware that there's really no need for this teary despair" and the brother of that pony replies in a similar sing-song tone. "That the key that they need to solve this sad cider shortage you and I will share."

The crowd starts chattering excitedly, Berry Punch as well and looks to Demo to see if he agrees, her smile falter from the small frown the cedar brown stallion has on his face. She does turn back when the two brothers start singing:

"Well you've got the opportunity

In this very community

He's Flim

He's Flam

We're the world famous Flim Flam Brothers

Traveling salesponies nonpareil!"

"Nonpa-what?" Pinkie asks and the brother named Flim explains her but not really helping with her confusions. "Nonpareil, and that's exactly the reason why, you see. No pony else in this whole place will give you such a chance to be where you need to be" He sing-songs, passing Engineer is busier admiring the machine than listening to them. The business pony trots up to the vehicle, still in his singing voice:

"And that's a new world, with tons of cider. Fresh squeezed and ready for drinking!"

His horn lights up in green, levitating what looks like a huge vacuum pipe, on it sits his brother there sings.

"More cider than you could drink in all your days of thinking"

Rainbow Dash crosses her hoves, not convinced by that statement "I doubt that."

The two stallions start singing their little tune again, everypony but a few are moving along the tune.

Turning away from their locomotion vehicle and to the two brothers, Engineer asks curiously. "And what does this beauty do?" Taking a step back when Flam steps before him, cheerfully replies. "So glad you asked my good sir, allow us to demonstrate what Flim Flam Brothers' Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 can do."

The other brother has zipped over to Applejack, bowing down as if he has been taking lessons from Spy or something. "Young filly, I would be ever so honored if you might see fit to let my brother and I borrow some of your delicious, and might I add spell-bindingly fragrant apples for our little demonstration here?" He asks a question there honestly could've been said with fewer words.

Poor Applejack has been completely taken off guard by not only these two ponies sudden arrival but their very long speeches to draw in a crowd. "Uh, sure, I guess."

And with the permission in order, the two brothers use their unicorn magic to activate the machine there starts vacuuming up apples from one of the trees while the crowd charts for ciders. Flim puts a hoof over Engineer's shoulder, messing up the piece of armor working as his toolbox this turned human built to himself. "Now watch closely my friend."

Correcting the armor around his neck and shoulder, Engineer does, listing very closely what the other brother is saying.

"Now, here's where the magic happens. Right here in this heaving, roiling, cider-press-boiling guts of the very machine, those apples plucked fresh are right now as we speak being turned into grade-A, top-notch, five-star, blow-your-horseshoes-off, one-of-a-kind cider!" Adding to the nearby ponies. "Feel free to take a sneak peek!" Which several of them do. Engineer does as well, and getting way more out from this than the brothers might've thought.

Granny Smith steps in here, gotten enough by these two show-ponies. "Now wait, you fellers, hold it!" She stomps her hooves, lecturing the two sales ponies and the surrounding crowd.

"I guarantee that what you have there won't compare.

For the very most important ingredient.

Can't be added or done expediently.

And it's quality, friends, Apple Acres' quality and care!"

It did turn the crowd to her favor, but these two brothers are cunning and Flim is right beside her with a bottle of their cider.

"Well, Granny, I'm glad you brought that up, my dear, I say I'm glad you brought that up. You see that we are very picky when it comes to cider if you'll kindly try a cup."

Granny Smith takes a sib and must admit it is good- she realizes she agreed with them and winches in dread she did.

Seeing this Flam steps forward to the rest of the Apples in his sing-song voice.

"So whaddaya say then, Apples?

Care to step into the modern world

And put the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 to the test?"

With his brother continuing to the once again cider charting crowd.

"What do you think, folks? Do you see what the Apples can't? I see it clear as day! I know she does! So does he! C'mon, Ponyville, you know what I'm talking about!

We're saying you've got the opportunity.

In this very community.

He's Flim, he's Flam

We're the world famous Flim Flam Brothers

Traveling salesponies nonpareil!"

Apple Bloom, like the rest, so caught up in the excitement that she speeds over. "You got a deal!" She agrees without really knowing what she is agreeing fully to. Granny Smith steps in. "Not so fast!" and calls for a family meeting. Which those two unicorns rudely join without permission, the crowd did not hear what the agreement was, but a certain griffin from above did.

Sniper lands beside Demo and tells him with a quiet voice. "They are trying to con the Apples, bloody shows-ponies." Demo thought there was something fishy about them, they reminded him a bit too much about certain people there had screwed him when he was trying to sell his family's Scrumpy. "Better tell the Apples this if they agree." He whispers back. Fortunately, from the looks of it, the Apple family did not agree. But the Flim, Flam brothers clearly seems to have hoped that.

"Very well. If you refuse our generous offer to be partners, then we'll just have to be competitors." Flim declares loudly in a smug tone.

Applejack shoots him a glare. "You wouldn't dare." but they dare alright and a sign from his brother, Flam declares out to the crowd "Don't you worry, everypony! There'll be plenty of cider for all of you!" and Flim adds only to the Apples ears. "Once we drive Sweet Apple Acres out of business." Horrifying them all.

"I smell trouble." Sniper muses from how the Apple family is reacting.

Demo agrees and he would hate if something happens this sweet family of country ponies. "Perhaps I should figure out how to blow up their machine- doubt Engie would appreciate it, though." He grins wryly from how their own countryman just can't get his eyes away from that machine.

Sniper laughs at the sight as well, but like Demo, worried what those two show-ponies will do.

(Two days later.)

Trouble did indeed come to Ponyville, however not in form of a monster or a major world threat, still, the mercenaries and their new pony friends did consider it as big trouble.

The Apple family has agreed on an apple cider making contest with the Flim and Flam brothers, and if they lose then they would lose the Apple farm.

Engineer follows Applejack towards this battlefield of apple cider makers, worried for the mare and her family, but they have agreed and Engineer knows that someone cannot step down from such a challenge, only cowards do. "Good luck." He wishes the mare and heads over to join the others. On his way to his comrades, Twilight passes by him. He stops for a moment to watch the purple unicorn speak with Applejack there is currently practicing her apple bucking before he leaves the battlefield.

There he notices that Demo is holding a very pissed Soldier down with his magic, no need explaining of why. "I am inclined to let him smash those scoundrels heads in." He remarks to the RED.

Demoman nods in agreement, but that would just put the Apples in a bad light. "Aye, I might let him go at them if they start cheating." Eyeing the green pegasus when a growl escapes his clamped mouth. He gives his best pal an apologetic smile. "Sorry, but you can't kill them Solly." A disappointed mumble from the pegasus. "I will let you go if you promise not to attack them."

Soldier hesitates but does agree with a begrudgingly nod. Demo releases him and the still royal armor dressed Soldier grumbles. "The President did command me not attack her subjects..." And the last thing he wants is going against the President of America.

Demo and Engineer exchange looks, both silently happy that Celestia hired him as a royal guard, that did make it easier finding reasons for him not to go all Rambo on someone. The one-eyed pony turns back to his friend. "That's right, as much those two deserves it, we can't go against the prinses- I mean presidents orders." Engineer simply nods in agreement.

"Attention, everypony!" The mayor calls through a megaphone, the chattering crowd quiets down, letting Mayor Mare explains everyone the rules while a brown earth pony with an hourglass for cutie mark puts up a timer in form of a huge hourglass. "The teams have one hour to produce as much cider as they can, after which the barrels will be counted and the winner will be named the sole cider provider for all of Ponyville!" The crowd talk a bit back and forward about this revelation but quickly quiets down when Mayor Mare asks the two teams. "Are both teams ready." They are, each in their own way. The Apples are tense and pumped, while the Flim, Flam brothers are chilling on their couch.

Mayor Mare signs to Time-turner and he starts the timer.

The Apples hurries over to their homemade machine and the brothers yawning start their machine with their magic.

The Apples work hard, but their tactic just cannot keep up with the brothers' machine. They made one barrel while the Flim, Flam made five.

The Apples pick up the pace but they cannot keep up.

"This is just dreadful!" Rarity exclaims seeing how unfair this match is. "Even at top speed the Apples are only making one barrel to the twins' three!" She turns when Soldier steps up beside her, declaring loudly. "I do not like doing nothing when we can fight!" After having recovered from almost getting her ear blown off by this loud pony, Rarity nods in agreement.

That does give Twilight an idea, she steps over to Mayor, not noticing her friends are following. "Are honorary family members allowed to help in the competition?" She asks Major Mare.

Mayor Mare scratches her chin in ponder. "Well, I'm not sure... " She admits and decides to ask the brothers if they are alright with this. "Flim, Flam, would you object to honorary family members helping?"

"And friends." Demo says, stepping over, he cannot bear the though not helping the pony there has become his friend through the element they both carry. The others of the mercenaries step over to join the mares as well.

Flim snorts, not at all impressed so many are coming to save the Apple family from the independent doom. "Are you kidding?" With his brother remarking calmly from their couch. "We don't care if the whole kingdom of Canterlot helps. It's a lost cause." They completely ignore the death glares the stallions send them. Blissfully unaware of how dangerous that group really is.

Mayor Mare turns to the group of ponies there has requested to help. "I guess it's okay." But just to be sure, she turns to the Apple family. "Applejack? What do you think?"

Applejack stops her tiresome apple bucking to say in her great thankfulness for this offered help. "I think I would love to have the rest of my family and friends helping out." She emphasis and has to return back to the task of getting those apples down.

The group beside a few of the mercenaries cheers, those who didn't have instead a wide grin on their faces.

"In lines soldiers!" Soldier commands and the group does for once obey him, letting Twilight do her little speech. "Okay, everypony, we're not gonna let those smooth talkers take our friend's farm. Fluttershy, Demo, you two help Applejack with the trees."

"Aye."

"Got it."

"Pinkie, Engineer, Medic; you're on apple catching detail."

Pinkie salutes on Engineer's back. "Yessir, ma'am, sir!" Engineer simply nods while Medic straightens up with a rather serious and yet gleeful look on his face.

Twilight turns to her Rarity and Sniper. "You two have a discerning eye. Help Granny Smith at the quality control station.

"Of course." Rairity says, nodding along with Sniper

And lastly. "Rainbow Dash and Soldier, can you two help Big Macintosh press?"

"Yes ma'am!" Soldier salutes and Rainbow Dash declares confident. "In my sleep!"

Twilight nods and with that set. "Alright, everypony, let's save Sweet Apple Acres!"

"Alright!"

And they all run to their new stations.

Applejack kicks, Demo tackles into them because his poor dept presentation and Fluttershy flies through the leaves, shaking off the apples.

The apple catchers run around to catch the falling apples, with Medic catching those they couldn't get in time, letting Engineer bring the filled buckets to the unicorn, griffin and elderly earth pony there with their keen sense of quality sorts the good apples from the best.

Leaving it to the Rainbow Dash, Big Macintosh and Soldier- who makes a good use of his drill sergeant voice to keep up the tempo.

Twilight stands at the end of the Apple machine, using her magic to swiftly moving the fille barrels and replace them with a new to the others. Still with her magic going, Twilight does a quick calculation on how they are faring. "Based on these figures, we're making six barrels for every three of theirs!"

The crowd cheers.

Applejack stop her work for just a moment to tell her friends: "Keep it up, everypony! We're back in this!"

The Flim, Flam brothers snap out from their lazy demeanor in shock hearing this, Flim grabs his brother, urging him in a state of panic they are losing. "Come on, brother, we've gotta pick up the pace!" Flam agrees, also in a state of panic. They both shoot a beam of their magic of the machine, making it go faster.

However, with the increased power, the vacuum takes the whole tree instead of just the apples, making the control deny any apple. In their urge to win this race, they remove the quality control, making them be on top of the race again.

Rainbow Dash realizes this and leaves her post to give them a piece of her mind, before she can, Sniper tells her hard. "Keep grinding Dasher!" But her great competitive side has taken over and she snaps back to the griffin. "We don't have time for quality control if we wanna win this thing!" And flies out to snatch the barrels, Granny Smith blocks her; scowling the pegasus. "One bad apple spoils the bunch!"

Sniper leaps away from his spot and over to Rainbow, telling her hard. "She's right, do it right or don't do it all." Rainbow Dash growls but does hear reason in his voice. "Fine!" and returns to the running station, urging the two stallions. "Double time!"

And that is what they do. It goes so fast that young Apple Bloom cannot keep up, so Pinkie decides to take her place and work double time. "I got you Apple Bloom!" She says and with the barrel on her head, catches the apples Medic either haven't seen or unable to catch with his magic in time.

"Help Twilight." Demo suggests after have tackled into a tree and the exhausted filly trots over to help Twilight.

They speed up their production and did almost get up to the same pace as the brothers. So when the time runs out, the mares collapses from the workout while the mercenaries- used to work like this throughout the war games all let out a sigh of relief it is finally over, to then send the two piles of barrels a worried glance.

"I'm proud of you, Applejack." Twilight tells the orange mare, Applejack breathes out an exhausted thanks, smiling weakly of Twilight doing a small speech- " Integrity like that will always be rewarded." So to her horror:

"Flim and Flam win!" Mayor Mare declares, much to everyone except the brothers' shock.

Of course, only the brothers smears the victory into the Apples noses. "Guess you'll just have to find a new line of work that doesn't match your names quite so... perfectly." Flam taunts the Apples, again not seeing a green pony looks ready to kill them if not for that brown unicorn and horse/bird hybrid holding him back.

"Now should we tear down all these tacky old buildings and put up new ones, brother?" Flim asks pointing at the Apple's farm, completely ignoring the angry scowls and heartbroken stares they got from the Apple family. They just continue on smearing this into their faces. "I don't see why not, brother. After all, this isn't Sweet Apple Acres anymore. How about 'Flim Flam Fields'?" Flam asks and with of spark of his magic, makes a sign of them appear above the Apple family's stand.

Rainbow Dash has heard enough from these two. "I ought to press you into jerk cider!" She yells furious at them and would probably have kicked a few of their teeth out if not Applejack stops her.

"No, Rainbow Dash. A deal's a deal."

The brothers start laughing, making this harder for Applejack, but she does honor her words. "Congratulations to you all. The cider business in Ponyville... is yours." She declares with a broken heart, more so when this means they no longer can stay here. "Come on, Apples. Let's go pack up our things..."

The brothers turn to the quietly crying crowd, telling them cheerfully. "Fear not, everypony, there's more than enough cider to go around."

The crowd does not move, all quietly agreeing this feels wrong.

Noticing this Applejack tells the towns pony that it's alright, there is, after all, no need for them to stop buying cider because of them. "It's okay..." Reluctantly the towns ponies move over to the brothers stand.

Applejack turns to leave but stops when Sniper suddenly is before them with a grin on his face, before she can tell him she has gotten mocked enough for today, the griffin says. "There is no need for you leaving Sheila. They forgot one important rule."

Applejack blinks, turning to her friends as if they know what the griffin is talking about, they don't but do curious turn to watch the town's ponies drink the brothers' cider- to spit it out in disgust. There Applejack realizes what Sniper has meant and now she too cannot help but grin watching Flim and Flam's bad quality cider won't sell them anything or keep them afloat for that matter. And before they know, the Flim, Flam brothers leave town.

Sniper smirks to this orange Texan pony. "Do it right or don't do it at all." She returns it with a wide smile. "Darn right!"

Twilight gasps in delight. "That means Sweet Apple Acres is still in business!" Jumping in excitement along with her cheering friends and also joins Demo, Pinkie and Soldier's silly victory dance.

"Now don't that beat all?" Engineer laughs walking up beside Applejack and Sniper, those two both chuckle in agreement. Turning their heads of Apple Bloom declaring to the crowd.

"Because of this silly competition, we've made enough of our cider for the whole town!" Which the whole town is more than happy to hear about, and everypony can enjoy a good drink of true quality cider, yes, even Rainbow Dash.

The moon has just appeared in the sky when the last barrel has been emptied and everyone can go home very satisfied of this small apple cider party.

Applejack wishes her friends a good night and along with her family and house guest, returns back home to the farm.

"This whole contest got me thinking."

Applejack eyes the pale yellow stallion, curious what is on his very constructive mind. Engineer meets her eyes with his grey ones. "The Flim, Flam brothers might have been mongrels, but they did make quality cider before they decided to cheat."

Applejack frowns, not sure what he is getting at. "I'm not following."

He smiles weakly but is kind enough to get to the point. "I can build your own Super Speedy Cider Squeezy; one there will make quality apple cider. All you will have to do is bring it apples."

"You can do that?" Apple Bloom asks with excitement in her filly eyes, it does fade slightly when Granny Smith cuts it. "And how can you be sure it will be Apple family Cider quality, huh?"

Engineer meets her suspicious gaze. "Well, I was hoping you could help me on that, ma'am."

Granny Smith ponders on it for a moment, but the choice comes rather quickly. Engineer here has shown to be a pony to trust and she must admit she is getting a bit too old to keep up with the town's demand for apple cider. She smiles and asks. "And what would you like in return, hm?" After all, a deal has to benefit both sides.

"You give me the materials for the machine, a barrel of the cider and we're set." Engineer says, thinking that them housing and giving him delicious food is more than enough for this machine. The barrel cider will go to the team, they do all like do a drinking party once and a while.

Granny Smith offers him her hooves. "That's a deal." He gently hits his against hers and can't wait for tomorrow. It's been long since he last was this inspired to build a new contraption.

Chapter Text

On a cloud above Ponyville; Sniper is taking a nap, there hasn't been happening much after that episode with those hooligans to the Flim, Flam brothers which he does appreciate. He still hasn't gotten fully used to being here, sure the pony people are nice— maybe a bit too nice. He doesn't know why but it puts him on edge, it's clear the ponies don't mean anything malicious— Rainbow Dash sure proved that to him. Perhaps it's because he's so used to people being a dick to him the moment they realize he is a runt of an Australian. Here; well, the ponies were a bit wary of him; bad experience with another griffin if what Rainbow Dash said is true, but over time, most of them must've realized he's not like that other one, for now, they are way more interested in just getting to know him. He would've found this welcoming attitude of the ponies nice if he wasn't so darn socially awkward. He hates to admit it, but Spook might've been onto something he has been hiding in the bush for—

"Ten-hut Sniper!"

"Wah!" Sniper jumps in surprise, leaping fairly high thanks to the cat side of this body, landing back onto the cloud, the now pissed griffin shoots Soldier a glare and whole body twice as big, both from anger but also from getting startled. "You better have a good excuse or I'll gonna use your hide as my next shooting practice!" He growls angrily at Soldier but is mostly embarrassed this moron managed to sneak up on him.

"The president is requesting for you to escort Miss Twilight and her friends up to Canterlot!" Soldier declares and hands him the letter he got from Spike there said it was from the ruler of this land.

Wondering why the bloody hell that horse wants something like that from him. Sniper takes the letter in the hope it can clear up his question.
'Dear Sniper, I apologize for putting this on you without a fair warning but with what is going on here in Canterlot I am in need of your assistance. Spy had stated that not much would go unnoticed by you.'
.... Flattering, more so when Spy had been the one suggesting him to the princess.
'I would like if you would escort Twilight and her friends to Canterlot. When here, meet me at the highest tower of the castle: I will explain further as I do not think it is safe writing this in a letter.
Sincerely Princess Celestia'
Seems like he got himself a job. Sniper destroys the paper since the princess did seem worried about this reaching the wrong eyes. "When is Twilight and her friends leaving?"

"Now!"

"Aw piss." Sniper grumbles leap off the cloud, figuring they will take the train, he flies there. And as thought, he finds the group of females there.

Twilight lets out a sigh of relief seeing him. "oh good, I feared Soldier wouldn't find you in time." She says, trotting over to the barely landed griffin and asks. "Did you get the princess's letter?" He nods, and although she would like to ask what it was about but think otherwise as the train is about to depart. Twilight instead trots inside with Sniper right behind her. Inside and with the train moving, Twilight eyes her excited friends but does not feel up to speaking with them. She is still too upset about what she got told over a letter and not by her brother.
She takes a seat on a lone spot, watching Ponyville disappear as the train drive towards Canterlot.

Noticing this, Sniper do consider if he should just leave her alone, but changes his mind, thinking he at least could lend her an ear for the hospitality, that and she might know what is going on at Canterlot. "You look troubled." He remarks and jumps onto the seat before her.
Twilight sighs, eyeing him with sad eyes. "It's because I am..."
He sure hopes he's not going to regret this. "Why?" Sniper asks.

It does cross Twilight's mind in not telling him about her worries, but perhaps she needs to speak with someone who is unbiased. Sniper does not seem to care much about what is going to happen at Canterlot. Letting out another sigh. "My brother is getting married to somepony I do not know about, and I didn't hear about this before I got the invitation."

Wow, jerk move, Sniper can't help but think. He doubts even Spy would do such a stunt if that bloke ever got married. "Are you close?"

Twilight nods but must admit. "Ever since I moved to Ponyville, I and my brother Shining Armor have been seeing each other less and less... Sniper, do you have any siblings?" She asks, feeling a bit disappointed when the griffin shakes his head, saying. "Not many friends either, so I am not the guy you want friendship advice from." Well, at least he is honest about it.

So Shining Armor- that stallion there handed Soldier his armor is Twilights older brother. Well, it is a bit strange that he didn't tell her. that white unicorn seemed like a very caring bloke, doesn't seems to be that kind of guy who would forget about his family. "I've met your brother." He tells the purple unicorn, she blinks in surprise. "You have?" He nods he indeed have and thinks she will do good hear his first impression on that captain of the royal guard. "Yeah, he was quite the nice guy. Busy as hell, though. The princess has him tighten up the security. It might explain why he hadn't told you—he might've forgotten about his own wedding." He smirks for from what impression he got from Shining Armor, that guard pony does seem to be the bloke there forgets things when stressed and Sniper is certain Shining Armor is very stressed at the moment.

"Maybe..." Twilight muses, maybe the wedding planning and his duties as captain of the royal guard did make him forget. Make sense she guess but it still makes her feel like she means nothing to him.

Sniper corrects his position so he now lies down on the seat, it still startles him how quickly he got used to this bird/feline body, but pushing those feelings aside. "Doesn't excuse his behavior, and if you want my opinion on it; I think you should tell him exactly how you feel." For if he had any siblings and were close to them, he is sure he too would be rather upset not hearing something important as this from the person's or in this case horse's mouth.

Twilight gives him a weak smile. "I am planning on doing just that."

Laughing among the others of Spike oblivious what a bachelor party is Applejack notices that Twilight looks quite down, but decides to not go over and asks what is wrong as it seems this Sniper griffin already got that covered.

***

(Canterlot)

Sniper snaps out from his small nap when something very weird passes through him, he jerks awake and in last second spots what looks like a magenta barrier passing through the whole train. He blinks several times of what he just saw and felt. "What the bloody hell was that?" He asks, wondering if that was some sort of magic.

"It was a magic shield." Twilight explains the startled griffin, not surprised he did not know this. According to Medic and the other turned humans; magic is incredibly rare in their world and they have only been able to use it when fighting some crazy wizard— which she presumes is their world equivalent of a unicorn.
The train stops and they leave the train.

Rainbow Dash gasps seeing the whole train station filled with guards. "Whoa, what's with all the guards?"

Twilight eyes Sniper there simply returns it with a quiet look. She guesses he was right with her brother being busy. She then turns back to her friends as Rarity gives her reason for the many guards: "I'm sure they're just taking the necessary precautions. Royal weddings do bring out the strangest ponies."
With their weird pony being Pinkie as that pink pony somehow manages to sneeze out confetti. Twilight notices that Sniper has gotten a quite funny look on his face and Twilight has to bite her lip not laughing at his reaction to Pinkie being, well Pinkie.

"Now, let's get going! We've got work to do!" Rarity hurries on the group and is just as excited like the rest. Applejack does stop so she can tell Twilight smiling. "And you've got a big brother to go congratulate."

But Twilight is not at all excited about this event, in fact, she is greatly annoyed. "Yeah. Congratulate." She trots past the guards with Sniper close behind; there like the guards are smart enough not to poke this angry pony. "And then give him a piece of my mind." Finding her brother is easy enough, she does after all know where the royal guard headquarters is located and the moment she spots her brother. "I've got something to say to you, mister." Shining Armor stares at her for a moment, looking a bit confused, then trots down, asking her awfully calmly. "And what do seems to be the problem?" oh the nerves of him!
"How dare you not tell me in person that you were getting married!" Twilight snaps at her brother, feeling some satisfaction he takes a step back from her anger. "I'm your sister, for pony's sake!" Turning her head away from her brother, too disappointed to look at him

Shining Armor lets out a sigh, he walks over so their eyes can meet again. "I'm sorry Twilight, but Princess Celestia has requested a major increase in security." Asking as he looks around the many guards he has control over. "Haven't you noticed all the guards stationed around?"

"Yeah, there's a big wedding coming up. Maybe you heard about it?" Twilight retorts dryly and trots over to a small pool of water. Her brother follows her, telling her calmly. "It has nothing to do with the wedding. A threat has been made against Canterlot." She meets his eyes, remembering what Sniper told her that Shining Armor has been very busy keeping the capital safe. "We don't know who's responsible for it, but Princess Celestia asked that I help provide additional protection." Shining Armor continues and looks up to the sky. Twilight does as well, seeing a huge magical shield surrounding the city. Her attention returns back to her brother when he puts a hoof gently on her back, explaining her in his calm voice. "Not only I and the other captains are burden to keep every guard on high alert for this threat, but I have as well been tasked using my magic of shield spells in order to keep Canterlot safe." He sighs leaving her side. "I understand you are upset, but the task at hoof has been my top priority."
Okay, she gets it and can forgive her brother for forgetting telling her about the wedding."You've got a really important job protecting all of Canterlot with a force field only you can conjure up."
However: that does not save him from not telling her about this other pony he will be marrying. "But I'm still pretty ticked you're marrying somepony I don't even know! When did you even meet this "Princess Mi Amore Cadenza?"" Twilight demands, for surely her brother must've known this other pony for a while now.

Shining Armor chuckles lightly. "You are going to like her Twilight, but you don't have to call her Princess Mi Amore Cadenza." He shakes his head still smiling and thinks it's fair Twilight will be told what his sweetheart much prefer being called. "Call her Cadence."

Cadance? Twilight blinks, is her brother talking about- "Cadence? As in the Cadence? As in the greatest foalsitter in all the history of foalsitters?!" She asks Shining Armor excitedly. He takes a step back by her excitement before he replies her with a smile. "You tell me."
She can't believe it! Her brother is going to marry Cadence! She cheers with joy. "Cadence is only the most amazing pony ever! She's beautiful, she's caring, she's kind— How many unicorns can just spread love wherever they go?" She asks her brother, answering that question herself. "I only know of one! And you're marrying her!" Singing that last phrase while jumping around her very amused brother.

"Twilight!"

Twilight stops her excitedly charting, turns around and spots her brother's soon to be wife in form of a light pink alicorn with mane and tail in dark purple, rose and light gold streaks. "Cadence!" She cheers, jumps over and starts the dance they did when she was a filly. "Sunshine, sunshine—"

Cadence smiles widely and immediately join the dance, both charting " -ladybugs awake! Clap your hooves and do a little shake!" With the greeting dance over, Cadence pulls Twilight into a hug, giggling of the fond memories she has of this purple unicorn. "It's so good to see you again, Twilight!" About to asks how she is doing but a sudden fatigue flushes over her, making her collapse. Shining Armor is quickly at her side. "Take it easy dear." He tells her softly.

Twilight's before joyful smile drops instantly the moment Cadance collapsed. "Cadence, what's wrong?"

"Because of my duties takes all my time, Cadence has been the one overseeing the preparations for the wedding." Shining Armor explains, gently helping his soon to be wife back on her hooves. When sure she won't collapse again, he turns to his sister, voicing his thoughts. "Could you aid her? It would mean a lot to the both of us."
Cadence nods in agreement, adding with a smile. "Not many ponies do lists as well as you."

Twilight blushes of the praise and they don't even have to ask. "Of course I will help you." From how fatigued Cadence looks, it sure seems like she needs all the help she can get.

Shining Armor smiles. "thanks, sis." but now he has to leave them "I've gotta get back to my station. Good luck with the preparations you two."

Twilight waves after her brother and with him gone, she turns to Cadence. "So where to first?" She asks.
The light pink alicorn chuckles lightly. "I was hoping to see how the food was doing."
Twilight nods, then movements from the corner of her eyes made her realize she has completely forgotten about Sniper. Turning around, her worries ease up seeing that he already knows the way as he is now flying towards where the princess is watching over the city from a tower. That means she and Cadence can turn to the task in hoof planning this wedding. "Let's go." She smiles at her soon to be sister-in-law. "You're going to love what my friend Applejack has for you."

***

Celestia turns away from the binoculars she has been using to watch over the city while her sister is scouting the outskirts of the city with their earth pony captain of the royal guard. "I'm glad you could come on such short notice." She tells this transformed human. Sniper simply nods, signing he is listing. Better tell him the bad news first. "I have lost contact with Spy."

"When?" Sniper asks, seeing why she could not get into further details through the letter.

Celestia sighs. "It has now been nine days. I fear the enemy trying to invade Canterlot got wind of his attempt finding them out and captured him. He told me in case this would happen; I should notify you."

Flattering, especially when it comes from that snake but— "He might've overestimated me, I can only see a threat when I know what I am looking at." and he has no idea what to look for now.

"He said something about your bush-man skills might help you out on this." Celestia points out and has no idea what this bush-man Spy spoke about, only that he said what Sniper would know. And from how Sniper rolls his eyes with a wryly smile, Spy stand corrected on that part.

Well, his survival instincts he refined out in the bush has saved his ass many times over the years, yes even saved him from a couple of back-stabs. "Alright, I will try to find this threat of yours." He replies and the ruler does look very grateful for that. Now the question: "Where should I start?"

Celestia turns her gaze back to the increasingly crowded city of Canterlot. "Start here, with the wedding of Shining Armor and Cadence, there are chances our hidden enemy might try and sneak in." and if they are shape-shifters like Spy, then she needs Sniper sharp eyes more than anything.

"I have a few ideas how." Sniper remarks. Before he started working at RED, his job as an assassin send him once on a mission on sniping someone during a wedding. Not the wedding pair, no it was one of the guests— he was polite enough not to make the kill out in the open, letting the pair have their night without a murder ruining it. Shaking that memory aside, Sniper eyes this tall and radiant alicorn. "I will keep an eye out."

"Good, and I permit you to take whatever resources you will need for your search." Celestia tells this griffin, for according to Spy: Sniper is a very good tracker.

Anything he can get, huh? Well, what about a weapon? "Do you have any guns?" The look she gives him is enough to say that this world has no such things. "What do you ponies have for weapons other than magic?"

"My royal guards use spears and swords." Celestia replies.

"Any long distance weapons? Like bow and arrow?"

"Some of my unicorn guards use such a weapon, but none big enough being useful for you." Celestia says, but do think she can fix that problem. "However, with my magic; I can transfigure a proper weapon for you— come." and takes flight.

Sniper follows this alicorn to the armory, he spots Shining Armor leaving one of the rooms but since he is a captain, Sniper does not pay him any mind. For now at least.
He follows Celestia into a room filled with weapons, she levitates two of these unicorn bows, destroys them and puts them back together with her magic.
When done she offers this bigger and looking awfully alike to a fancy silver huntsman to Sniper. "Try and see if you can use this."
Sniper takes it and really hopes it will be useful; for this bow is gorgeous. He tests the strings and is delighted to feel it works just fine. He does has to be sure and asks for an arrow. Celestia transfigures an arrow big enough for this bow and Sniper shoots that arrow through the room. He smirks that the arrow finds its target in that shield he aimed at. "That will do." and just has to ask;"Can I keep it after this mission?" For this is a really beautiful bow.

Celestia is a bit hesitant giving out weapons like this outside of missions and to ponies not part of the royal guard. "Only if you let me cast a spell there will ensure that nopony can ever get slain by your arrows."

Well, doesn't that make things harder, but he guess he can see where this ruler comes from. "Fine, but at least do I can knock the wankers out." That she agrees on and with a spell there makes everything shot by this bow gets knocked out by a powerful sleeping spell. She then transfigures him a quiver there always will be filled with silver arrows.
This feels like Christmas morning for Sniper and he can deal with this beautiful bow being unable to kill. With his new quiver and bow on his back, "I'll go right to it." and runs off to check on the area where the food gets inside. That was how he got inside to his wedding assassination.

Celestia returns back to her station watching over the city, praying that her subjects will not be harmed from whatever threat her vision warned her about.

 

(Ten minutes later. Bakery)

Applejack, along with a few members of her huge family are busy as bees making the food, Applejack mostly busy finishing up the last touches, such putting the frosting on the wedding cake, helping Apple Cobbler with the ice sculpture and lastly taking out the bite-size apple fritter. Just about there, the bride arrives with Twilight right at her side. "Hiya, Princess!" Applejack greets her.

"Please, just Cadence." The alicorn says with a sweet smile and starts looking around the kitchen from the delicious smell filling the room. "Wow, something smells really good."

"Glad to hear." Applejack says and offers her the just done plate of apple fritter. Cadence takes a bite and barely done she has already reclaimed another. She does restrain herself from reclaiming a third, telling Applejack. "They are really delicious!" With said country pony beaming and packs a few of the fritters into a bag. "Aw, shucks. Why don't you take a few to go? I know how you brides can be. So busy, you forget to get a little something in your belly."

"Oh, you have no idea." Cadence giggles and takes the bag. She joins Twilight who has taken over her job keeping everything listed down. "Where next?" She asks her assistant, already eating from the bag.

"Now to the dresses." Twilight replies and bites the offered apple fritter her soon to be sister-in-law offers her. Cadence wasn't kidding, these are really good. Swallowing this delicious treat, Twilight explains Cadence. "Rarity is making them in your personal quarters." Cadence nods and with a: "Thanks for the treat." to Applejack, they move out to meet up with Rarity. On their way, Twilight spots Sniper walking around in a way that reminds her of a prowling cat. She would like to ask if he has been hired to keep watch like her brother but before she can, the griffin leaps on top of a building and disappears out from sight.

Noticing Twilight had her attention on that griffin, Cadence asks. "Friend of yours?"

Twilight shakes her head. "No, but I do know Sniper. He... well he prefers keeping to himself, but seems to take whatever he does very seriously, so I haven't gotten much chance speaking with him." She explains and is a bit disappointed in that fact, the transported humans are all interesting in their own unique way. Plus there is a huge possibility that Sniper is connected to one of their Elements of Harmony but other than his team and a few times Rainbow Dash, Sniper isn't talking with anypony. He hasn't tried being social and the other guys have explained to her that Sniper does prefer to be on his own.

"I'm sure you get your chance." Cadence ensures Twilight. The younger pony nods.
On their way, they get a hold on Cadence bridesmaids and at Cadence living quarters Twilight calling into her room to this Rarity.
"Rarity, I and Cadence have come to see the dresses." Barely taking three steps inside and a white unicorn with curly purple hair is before them, bowing. "Your Highness! Let me just start by saying what an honor it is to play a role in such a momentous occasion." She says with a nervous laugh as if fearing she her dresses does not live up to the wedding.
Cadence smiles weakly and gently make Rarity stop bowing. "No need of the formalities around me, dear." and walks over to the dresses. "Are the dresses ready?"

Rarity nods and follows this very kind princess over to the dresses she has been working on non-stop. "Yes, of course." She shows her the dress, explaining Cadence. "I've been working on it ever since I was given the assignment, and I think you'll be pleased with the results!"

That dress is lovely, so Cadence hates saying this. "Don't take this the wrong way, your dress is lovely but... well could you perhaps make a veil— still with flowers? And replace the yellow fabric with white instead and do a longer train?" Quickly adding since she is sure this will be a lot of work for this unicorn. "If it's not too much."

"Oh no worries, darling." Rarity waves her hoof at this also very humble princess. "This is your wedding after all." and writes down the wishes for changes in her notebook.

Cadence smiles thankfully and turns to the bridesmaid's dresses, like her dress they are lovely but to be sure her bridesmaids share her thoughts. "What do you girls think?" She asks the three unicorns at the door.

"I think they are lovely." Twinkleshine, a white pony with pink mane says. The blue unicorn beside her; Minuette, nods in agreement and the turquoise colored Lyra says. "I love them."

And that is enough for her and says to Rarity. "You heard the girls; they are perfect they way they are." Rarity beams and returns on working on the wedding dress. With this done, Cadence and Twilight leave so Rarity can work in peace.
Next is Fluttershy and Cadence is almost awestruck how beautiful this shy young mare can make the bird sing. There is no need correcting the yellow pony, so Cadence instead spends most her time enjoying having tame birds on her.
Lastly she and Twilight head over to check on how Pinkie's party planning is going. It highly amuses the princess on what this pink pony has planned for the party and do think they have time do a little dance, but just as she got her groove, fatigue grabs her.

"Cadence!" Twilight calls worried, offering her once foal-sitter a shoulder as support. Cadence gives her a weak smile. "I must be more tired than I thought." She says. Twilight thinks that perhaps it is best ending today's preparation so Cadence can get proper rest. "Let's get you back to your personal quarters."

"That won't be necessary."

All three ponies turn, seeing Shining Armor walks over to them. He steps up beside Cadence, lets her seek support from him. "I'll take her back to my home." He tells Twilight. She nods in a small agreement and asks both worried. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
Shining Armor smiles weakly. "I'll call if there is anything— come on dear." He says to Cadence and guides her back to his home.

Meanwhile, near the huge Canterlot library Sniper is still searching for anything unusual. So far he hasn't caught anything, mostly because he do not know what is abnormal for these ponies. "This is starting to get ridiculous." He grumbles in his bit aimless wander on the roofs. This is starting to feel like when he and RED Spy searched for any clues of what took the others away, like back then; there are no clues and that is frustrating.
Looking up to the tower where Celestia has been keeping watch, he tenses up for a moment seeing another alicorn approaches the ruler to then calm down when it is clear those two know one another, now the dark blue alicorn keeping watch over the city, letting Celestia rest for the night.
There is no rest for Sniper, though. He can rest when he is certain there are no danger looming over the marry couple. Speaking of which. Sniper spots the two walking on the street, noticing that the bride does look quite fatigue, but he is more interested in how calmly her soon to be husband is about it. Quite different from how his first impression was on that unicorn, the Shining Armor he met was quite stressed out and nervous that he couldn't live up to his great task in protecting the city. Well, he wanted something abnormal, and he got it. Sniper follows the two, finding himself hoping his suspicion will be wrong. He doesn't want to be right about his suspicion, not after having seen the better side him, but whatever the case he is right or not. Sniper still wants to be sure that the princess is out from harm.
The pair head into a house well suited for the captain of the royal guard, Sniper stalks after them and is now sort of happy he is part cat as that makes him incredible silent and easily can sneak past the two guard ponies guarding the place. He unlocks a window and slides carefully inside, tensely listing for the pair inside this house.

"Dear, I'm fine."

Sniper stops for a moment hearing the bride's voice downstairs, then carefully sneaks over to the stairs where he can watch the two.

Shining Armor puts her on the couch and levitates a glass of water over to her. Cadence takes it but does not drink, she too deep in thoughts and muses to her soon to be husband worried. "Maybe we should postpone the wedding, waiting to after the threat."

"Don't worry about the threat." He ensures her calmly, too calmly in a certain griffin's eyes. Shining Armor smiles to Cadence. "And it wouldn't be fair for our guests if we cancel the wedding."

"No, I guess not..." Cadence agrees quietly, thinking about how hard Twilight's friends has been working on everything, he's right, it wouldn't be fair for them. Speaking of Twilight. "Your sister has been doing such a wonderful job helping me today."
Shining Armor hums softly and strokes his head against hers, she returns it but does winch when a sudden headache hits her.

Shining Armor levitates the water she yet hasn't drunk back to her. "Drink up, it will make you feel better." She does and patiently he waits for her to pass out. When she is, he smirks and begins stealing the light magic residing inside Cadence. He does stop when an oh so familiar voice says:

"Step away from the princess you filthy imposter."

Shining Armor turns slowly around, smirking to the intruder. "Oh so glad you could come." He says and is glad he now does not have the excuse sending the guards out to fetch him. This makes his job so much easier. He attacks the griffin by shooting a green beam at him, paralyze Sniper from shooting him with his new toys.

Sniper curses, he did not expect him to be this fast! Shining Armor steps over to him, chuckling. "Oh Sniper, that's what I like so much about you: always so set doing everything on your own." Making the griffin winch ever so slightly, turning into convulsion when he did the same thing to him as it did to the princess. Sniper has never felt anything like this before, it was like all his happy emotions got sucked out, only leaving dread behind. When the creature is finished, he cannot stand on his feet and tumbles onto the ground, completely at this emotion sucking monster's mercy. Still, he tries desperately reaching out for his weapon.
The fake Shining Armor steps onto his reaching claws, and with the other kicks the silver bow away. The white unicorn smirks maliciously down to the griffin, behind him a pony made out of some sort of black smoke appears. "Now to the fun part." This pony of shadows steps towards Sniper, it turns into a griffin and an unnatural large smile twists its face in what only should be seen in movies or in someone nightmares.
Sniper is not a man of much fear and never thought such a cheerful place as this had any horrors. But looking at that thing walking towards him, unable to fight or flee, all he can do is wait for it to strike. Sniper has never been this scared in his entire life and wishes that this wouldn't be how he would die.

Chapter Text

(Human world)

The RED team is quite surprised seeing the BLU Demoman walking towards their base with a white flag. With the Respawn down and curious about why an enemy approaches them for the first time with a white flag are the two main factors to why the RED team hasn't already torn him to shreds with their bullets.
"What do you want?" RED Engineer calls out from the window, his gun ready in case this is a set-up.

More than relieved that the RED's at least are willing to hear him out instead of shooting him on sight as the others thought they would. "Do you still have your Medic?!" BLU Demo calls the man dressed in red, noticing the confused frown on the Engineer face so he decides to explain further to why he has come. "Our Sniper needs medical attention!"

Soldier almost knocks the quite baffled  Engineer out from the half-open window in his action to tell Demoman of their condition to agree on this. "Only if I escort him!" Soldier cannot explain why but he is somehow seeing BLU Demo as a good pal, maybe it's those dream- he doesn't know but they have made him willing to give this enemy a chance.

Demo simply nods.

Okay, Spy's ramblings must hold some water then. Engineer thinks and heads into the base to explain Medic about this strange request. He finds the doctor at his desk with a load of papers around him but Medic hasn't filed a single paper; too deep in thoughts it seems. "Doc," Engineer calls, getting the doctor's attention. "BLU team is asking for you." Gesturing down to the now calmer but quietly rambling Spy about getting rid of someone the worst possible way. "BLU Spy did indeed get him."

Medic frowns deeply of this new facts, but like with those trapped in Ignis world, it seems RED and BLU has to make a ceasefire with one another here as well. "Let me get my things." He replies and grabs his medical bag before leaving the infirmary along with Engineer.

"Soldier will escort you."

"I would prefer Heavy, but we can't risk they kill one another." Medic remarks dryly of the thoughts having to deal with Soldier as well as the BLU's.

Engineer does not blame him, Soldier can do very stupid things and convince him what he is doing is of no use will only make Soldier the more determent on doing it. "What about Ignis then?" He asks, thinking that one at least won't blow anyone up after a small provocation.

"Better than Soldier."

Engineer heads out to find their immortal guest. He finds Ignis playing chess with Heavy; those two has gotten quite good friends it seems. "Ignis, could you keep Medic safe over at BLU base?"
Both Ignis and Heavy look over to him in surprise, Heavy's gaze quickly turns into mild disappointment but does not say anything.

Heavy may look and sound stupid, but he is actually a smart man and like Medic; he knows why he cannot accompany the doctor to the enemy base.
But what he can do; "Keep doctor safe." He tells Ignis hard. Said immortal salutes and heads over to meet up with Medic.  

After have persuaded Soldier that Ignis is the better choice, the two walk out to where BLU Demo waits for them and after a quick nod between Medic and Demo in a silent agreement of not shooting each other in the face. The three head over to the BLU base. There Medic heads straight over to his counterparts infirmary and is surprised to see that BLU Medic also has a cage filled with doves- his doves in fact. His favorite Archimedes isn't there though, he does wonder if his dreams about him being a unicorn and having Archimedes resting on his head is real. He sort of hope so.
Would hate the fact he has lost his favorite dove. Anyway, back to the matter in hand. Medic checks the BLU Sniper's vital signs, the man is fine internally. Mentally however... Sniper is barely reacting to him and what little signs he does show reminds Medic about Spy before he went mental. Okay, this is pretty bad and like with Spy, this is something he cannot fix with medicine. With all his knowledge he has gathered from all his past experiments, he can do nothing to fix this and he hates feeling this useless. What good is he then?
"Ignis." He calls for the alicorn, annoyed that he has to call for help, but if anyone knows what is going on with Sniper and Spy, then it is him. The man walks past the bit nervous BLU's- Medic realizes they have no idea what is going on because Ignis has been staying in RED's base and thus only told them about where he sends the others and what the two sides are really for one another. Brushing those thoughts asides. "What are your thoughts on this?" He asks their new fire user.

Ignis right hand glow slightly from his magic, what his tracker spell catches is quite surprising. "Huh? Been over millennia I last stumbled upon a Changeling victim." He muses, but the memories of this species are not happy ones, in his eyes Changelings are annoying to fight with their shapeshifting ability and can be straight out deadly in larger hordes with their ability to absorb light magic.

"A what?" BLU Scout asks.

The RED Medic turns to the obvious BLU's, thinking Ignis has some explaining to do. It takes the man some time, but when done, BLU's reaction is very much like RED's: startled beyond belief.

"They are still alive?" Heavy asks although it sounds way more like a statement, his next does as well. "And RED are other half of our soul?"

"That's right." Ignis nods to the three remaining BLU and points to the unconscious BLU Sniper. "That is why your Sniper is like this, his other part of the soul has been attacked by a Changeling."

"And what is a Changeling?" Demo asks, completely forgotten about his scrumpy at the moment.

"It's a sort of equine bug." Ignis explains the humans. "In their lava and first stage; a Changeling needs to constantly feed on others light magic- which is powered by positive emotions in order to gain enough strength for their metamorphic and final stage. Usually, the queen and king of the hive will keep their lava and first stage drones constant hunger in check by letting the metamorphic Changelings bring them the light magic they need. I think the one there attacked that man's other half of his soul must've encountered a rouge— it's a Changeling without a hive." He adds from the confused looks the mercenaries gives him. "A changeling without a hive cannot get enough light magic to metamorphic, so meeting one is always nasty business—don't worry, he should be fine in a week or so."

He wonders, "How does a Changeling look like?" Demo asks, for how this red-haired man explained a Changeling nature, it reminds him a bit of that thing he saw in his dreams about colorful horses. Perhaps those dreams are what RED Demo sees?

"Well, a Changeling is a shapeshifter, so you won't know you're looking at one until they drop the disguise on their own account or gets knocked out. But if you see one without a disguise then the one there attacked your Sniper would look like a black bug in shape of a horse with holes in its hooves. Their eyes are blue and lacking  pupils- oh and their constant hunger for light magic makes them attack pretty much anything." Ignis explains and is about to explain how a metamorphic Changeling looks like but before he can.

"I have dreams about Spy being such a thing!" Demo says, his remaining eye wide in shock. "Bloody hell, he is a Changeling!"

Wait what? "Come again." Ignis frowns, why have a bearer of the Pillars been turned into a Changeling? Only the pony kind should bear the Pillars, it has always been like that.

"Spy is a Changeling." Demo repeats and if his dreams are from his counterpart then. "But he's not attacking anyone, he's gotten quite the nice guy."

Scout snorts hearing that. "Only when hell freezes over that back-stabbing scumbag turn into a 'nice' guy."

"Or come to a place filled with colorful ponies..." Medic muses under his breath, anyway better get back to base before the Administrator gets irritated enough to lure a new wave of robots their way. "There is nothing I can do for your Sniper. He is currently dealing with the effects RED Sniper is going through. All you can do for him is making sure he stays fed and hydrated. Hopefully, he will recover when RED Sniper does— oh and you better restrain him." For according to Spy's mumbling, BLU Spy did something towards him so there is a chance Sniper might attack someone when he wakes. The BLU's exchange looks with one another in confusions but does as Medic requested.

 

(early next morning)

So much pain, it hurts so much. And yet the dark side of him shrugs it off with the thought that he deserves it, that someone like him does not deserve happiness and also, in a twisted sense, if he does not deserves happiness; no one should. The sinister voices in his head kept him from thinking on those he cares about, kept him from fighting the darkness holding over him. He has become a cold, calculated infiltrator, a master of deceit. He has no loyalty, no care for anyone but those holding what he wants. That is the only reason why he obeys her, so he can get the food his body screams for every single second of his existence, adding to the pain he suffers from. These ponies will suffer, they will become food to end his agonizing hunger and he can find pride that he was the one who did it.
But alas, he is getting a bit ahead of himself.
He still needs to remove the conduit before the invasion starts, it will be easy enough to draw her in. After all, he made sure to put her guard down by pretending to be her loving brother. There is no need forcing her, all he can say is a small request and she will follow him willing right into the trap. Twilight won't know what hit her before it is too late and he will enjoy watching hope drain out from her eyes right before he kills her.
 

RED Spy mumbles out the thoughts of the other half of his soul, he is unable to know where the BLU Spy start and where his mind ends. For the first time after years of separation, their minds are tightly connected, in a twisted sense of irony, all thanks to the darkness controlling the BLU Spy. RED Spy is completely unaware of where he is and the German man standing beside him, all he sees is the hallways his other is walking down, following those foolish ponies he has tricked completely. "Soon, soon the conduit will be gone... the queen will reclaim this land... the darkness will return..." He mutters out, before returning back to the incoherent mumbling.

Medic does not like what Spy is saying, not one bit at all.  He might not fully know what Spy is truly talking about, only that it sounds like if BLU Spy gets this conduit, then some sort of darkness will return. "What conduit?" He asks the mumbling Spy.
The barely conscious man snaps his eyes up to him, revealing his pupils have gotten disturbingly big as they fill all of his eyes now. Medic barely restrains himself from jumping away, but he does grab his bonesaw at this quite creepy sight. "What conduit?" He repeats to the man there is possessed by something he has no chance of fighting and that is what scares him. Medic can only hope that whatever is possing the two spies won't be able to leave its vessel and attack— if it can then they are so screwed,  
A wicked smile appears on Spy's face. "A sweet little pony, soon her purple pelt will be tainted in red, her shining eyes frozen in horror when someone she trusted will take her life- sound familiar oh tormenter of the defenseless and innocent?" He asks mockingly and would've probably attacked if not for the restrains.
...Yes, that sounds awfully familiar, in more ways than Medic would like to admit... And now he knows who BLU Spy will kill. That unicorn he often sees in his dreams, smiling awkwardly after he has shared a bit of how twisted his mind has become but somehow still want to know the human behind the self-proclaimed monster.
"Twilight." Medic whispers, he may not know this Twilight in person, but he knows from the link with the BLU Medic that he is starting to consider her a friend. And if Spy's mumbling about her being a conduit is true, then without her; the Elements of Harmony, the possible only weapon against this threat- it won't work without her. "Scheiße! Ich halte die wichtigen Fakten, aber ich kann es nicht bringen, wo es darauf ankommt!" He curses on his father language and storms out from the infirmary.

"What is wrong?" Heavy asks Medic when he noticed the frustrated look the doctor has on his face, he only gets such a look if a project of his really went wrong or if someone mentions the Nazis. Neither has happened, so Heavy wonder if Spy's mumbling has revealed something bad. He stops Medic's walk, repeating his question. "Josef, what is wrong?" As it seems like Medic did not hear him the first time.

Medic only notices Heavy when the man's big hand lands on his shoulder and he hears his name being spoken, it takes him a moment to realize Heavy asked him a question and with a sigh, he explains to the big man what he has learned from Spy. "BLU Spy going to kill someone important— a pony named Twilight Sparkle."

Heavy admits that all of this links between their other and the lost members being in a world filled with colorful horses talk does go right over his head. But Heavy thinks he does not need to understand, he just has to accept it. "Can no one there stop other Spy?" He asks Medic, for honestly, what can they do here?

Medic pinches the bridge of his nose as he has, much to his frustrations come to the same conclusion. "I'm afraid not... what I got from Spy; his counterpart has them completely fooled. Sniper might've known but from how BLU Sniper is out cold, I say BLU Spy got our Sniper." And that is saying something for Sniper has been practically the only one besides from Pyro who could detect Spy when disguised or cloaked.

Heavy see, but still. "What can we do?" The only way they can do anything is that one of them goes to that place. "We can only bring message by go there."

True, but with the danger of them wanting to kill their counterpart for some strange reason looming over them, only two can go and that is Heavy and Scout— hold up, Scout. Could he be their answer? "Where's Ignis?" He demands,  Medic knows he is running a high risk revealing this, but he will never forgive himself if Twilight dies. What he got from his other and Spy's rambling; the Elements of Harmony is the only object there can fight this darkness. That is why this darkness wants Twilight dead; she is the conduit of that ancient magic.

"In living room." Heavy replies and follows Medic as fast as he can which is hard as Medic is the second fastest of the team. Inside the living room, they find their immortal only with a half eye open from boredom watching television along with Scout. Medic does not waste a second asking. "Ignis, does love to family count as light magic?"
Both Ignis and Scout look up in confusion, while Heavy, on the other hand, starts to understand what Medic is asking. The hints have been subtle but for those who listens and watches closely would see that Spy doesn't really hate Scout and all those insults were merely to throw off any suspicious. Heavy do spend a lot of time listing to the other team members, and after having spoken with Medic about it— who found the connection because he could see the biological resemble. Both have come the realization that Spy is Scout's father and hints over time have shown that Spy doesn't really hate the boy as everyone else thinks. If he truly did then he wouldn't' have agreed on teaching Scout how to be around women such as Miss Pauling or even put up with the boy's often very annoying shenanigans with only a few insults.

Confused by this sudden question, Ignis replies. "Yeah, love is the most powerful form of light magic. Why?"

Heavy and Medic exchange a look with one another, both knowing what this will mean but in order for their unspoken plan to happen, Ignis will have to transport Scout to that world. Heavy doubts Scout will like if he got told he is the son of the man he hates with a passion or does his job if just getting thrown into that world on his own. Perhaps it is best that he go with him, it will make it easier for RED team when they need to work together with BLU. "I will go." Heavy says.

Understanding by those simple words, Medic nods and although Heavy can easily restrain Scout so Ignis can transport them both, getting the kid to do his job will be a pain in the neck if it's for Spy's sake. So instead he says. "Hopefully you will be enough to save our fallen comrade." As hoped that gets Scout's attention.

"The hell are you two knucklehead talking about?" Scout asks, wondering where Heavy will go and on his own.
Heavy send him a small glance "I will go to other place. Help Sniper." with Medic adding. "From how BLU Sniper was when I intended to him, it seems our Sniper is in big trouble." That sounds really bad, Scout thinks and although he does not fancy the thought of going, he thinks he owes Sniper for sticking up to him more than once. Besides, Heavy is so slow that he won't be able to catch whoever has been foolish enough to hurt Snipes— and Scout is certain that is why they have this conversation around him... "Fuck I hate you guys..." Scout grumbles, more so when he gives in to their subtle request of giving them a hand. "Fine, I'll go too— but only because Heavy can't catch anything with that snail speed of his!" He retorts to Medic's smug smile.

Medic and Heavy both smiles over the victory, with the latter saying to Medic. "This might work." but know they can only hope Scout relation to Spy will help them out with that threat RED Spy indirectly warned them about.

Medic sure hopes so as well, only one way to find out. "Ignis, bring Heavy and Scout where you send the others."

Ignis blinks at this sudden command, but hey, he's not complaining; was thinking on teleporting them there anyway. "Okay." He shrugs but would like a bit preparation, oh and the last Pillar he felt. He jumps out from the couch with: "I would like that little lady went with you as well."

Scout blinks in his surprise hearing this. "Miss Pauling?" Which leads to the question. "Why?" Not that he complains, it will give him a chance to get her to know better and perhaps get them on that date they never got to after that bread monster attack.

Snatching a lighter from the kitchen table. "It was weak, but I sensed one of the lost Pillars of Virtue inside of her. Plus-" He smirks to the three mercenaries. "It will leave the statement to that evil woman that I am not one to messed around with."

Whatever the man says, Heavy simply shrugs and warns him. "Miss Pauling hard to get a hold on." and is wondering. "Can we bring weapons?"

"Hm, need to track her then..." Ignis muses and with the lighter as a source of fire. He summons his wings through his magic, turning to the three bit startled humans seeing what he has heard a lot of human calls an angel- no idea what that is- only they think he is one when he summons his wings. "No, your weapons will be left behind. So don't bother with that. I will send you there the moment I get hold on Miss Pauling, shouldn't take long." and after have walked out from the door, he takes to the sky.

With the man with the flaming angel wings gone, Scout turns to Heavy, still confused about why Heavy want them to that other world. "Why the hell us?"

Telling Scout the truth will only make the kid refuse to go, sure Scout might learn it on his own, but Medic much rather want that than dealing with Spy blackmailing him for life because of this. "Only you and Heavy have the other half of your souls nearby. And with the respawn still down, one wrong move and you will lose your other half forever." Medic explains the youngest of the team.

 

"We are best choice." Heavy eyes Scout with a small smirk. "But if tiny man too afraid, I will take BLU Scout."

That might be his other soul, but still. "Oh no you don't! If you take anyone then you take the better half of me!" Scout snaps, unaware he completely fell for it.

Medic and Heavy exchange an amused look how easy it is persuading this kid. Turning back to the annoyed speedster. "Good, let us eat. Immortal man will not be back soon." Heavy says, also thinking that they probably won't get anything to eat for a while in that other world if they have to chase BLU Spy down.

***

(two hours later)

Everyone from RED is now up and sort of happy that today seems to be a day without fighting, something they all need, yes even Soldier. Fighting all the time is very exhausting both mentally and externally, not that the Administrator would know about that. She has more than once tried to remove their already few off hours.
Their moment of calmness breaks of the sound something breaking.
"It's the BLUs!" Soldier shouts and runs to fetch his weapons, but no, their invader proves to be Ignis— who apparently forgot to use a door and instead decides to crash through the already broken roof, holding a very dismayed Miss Pauling in his arms.

"Howdy there, Miss Pauling." Engineer greets her casually, already knowing what is going to happen from what Medic has told them. He then sends their immortal guest a small glare. "Use the door the next time." He got enough to repair already without Ignis destroying more of their roof.

Ignis laughs sheepishly, he turns to Heavy and Scout. "Ready?" They nod, leave the table and stand in the middle of the room.

"Guys, what is going on?" Miss Pauling demands, she has been doing very important missions for Helen when Ignis suddenly snatched her and that winged man has refused to tell her anything.

Medic fills up his cup of tea. "Something about you has a Pillar of Virtue inside and Ignis wants it back to his world." With Soldier, now returned from the armory saluting her. "Nice trip men!"

Oh, they gotta be kidding! Miss Pauling shoots Ignis a glare, although far from an intimidating one, for honestly: what can she do against someone who is four thousand years old? "Don't you dare!" She let out a yelp when he throws her over to the two, caught by Heavy. Before she can away, the wings of flames from Ignis surrounds them in a ring of fire.

"Oh, I dare alright." Ignis grins and with a two fingered wave, he has seen Demo do when he blew up a bunch of robots. "Have a nice trip!" and the flames teleports them to his world.

Engineer eyes the spot where the three disappeared, then returns back to his newspaper. "Well, at least you didn't burn the floor."

"You are trying my patience Ignis." The Administrator voice suddenly speaks through the megaphones, making every remaining mercenary look up from whatever they are doing.

"That's what happens when you tick off an alicorn soldier." Ignis retorts back, dismissing his magic and his wings disappear again. "You should've known you were playing with fire when you decided to blackmail me. "

So Helen noticed, but she's not really afraid of this immortal being. Everything point at that Ignis is not the man going out to kill out of spite. Although this spitting in her face by keep on removing her people is getting very irritated, more so when he had the gall in taking her most loyal assistance. But as much she would like to torment him, she can do little against him with the powers he possesses. She does wonder if she can put his immortality against him though. Has to study up on that. But for now, all she can do is punish the mercenaries for this act. "RED because you didn't lift a finger to stop Ignis from removing two of your members and my assistance: you won't be allowed any leave. Any attempt doing so and you won't ever be able to show your faces in public."

The remaining of RED all tense up hearing this, anger fuming off of them hearing they won't be able to get a bit away from the battlefield nor see their families.

Turning the switch to the BLU base, she tells those there. "You broke protocol by asking the RED team for aid." The BLU's snap their attention to the speakers, dreading she would've known this. Helen doesn't care if they had a good reason for doing it. If the BLU Sniper died for real then she would've found a new one. Doing the soul split treatment is a pain and expensive though, but it has spared her time in finding two people with the same skill set. "For that, you won't leave the base until the lost RED and BLU has been returned. Any attempt leaving for any reason and you won't ever be able to show your faces in public." The BLU's exchanges look with one another, both horrified that they won't be able to leave their base or battlefield and wondering how they are supposed to make their other souls return in order to leave this place again.
Helen then does so both teams can hear her. "Your break is over, go out and fight!" She turns on the respawn machine again. "Your respawn is back, so if I see any of you holding back."

Begrudgingly, RED and BLU leave their base and run out to return the war games, all swearing curses of the punishment the Administrator gave them. The only one not fighting is Ignis, instead, the alicorn stands on the RED building, watching the two sides fight and cannot help but think about the civil war he once was part of. Except for this mini-war before him has no reason to really be fought.

Chapter Text

When the flames from Ignis disappeared, Heavy lands onto a very clean and beautiful crystal blue floor. Before he gets the chance to look properly around, Scout and Miss Pauling land on top of him. Perhaps it was a good thing he landed first, for he is sure he would've crushed them with his size. Looking up to the two, Heavy blinks seeing not two young adult humans, but instead two ponies, the one he presumes is Miss Pauling has become an aqua blue unicorn with lilac hair there has a single black stripe in both the mane and tail. Scout on the other hand... well Heavy thinks Scout has become a pegasus with those bird wings, but shouldn't he have become a Changeling like Spy?  Have he and Medic been wrong?If they have then this will make the whole reason coming here been for nothing.

"Ugh, why do I feel like I just witness the worst baseball match ever?" Scout mutters to himself, caressing his chest with his hoof–wait hoof?! Scout jerks his no longer hand away, making him fall down from whatever he landed on. He stares at the now dark brown with huge dents- as if been beaten by a baseball bat too many time hoof. Why the hell has he- oh wait, he is in that pony world the others at times talks about. "Um, okay?" He gets up and trots around himself, bit disappointed what form this world has giving him. He is so... bland. His coat is dark brown, darker around the base of his neck and down his spine. for some reason, he has gotten a sort of tattoo on his butt in form of two baseballs, weird but okay. His hair and weird looking tail dark reddish brown- the wings make up for it though. "Oh man, I sure hope I can fly with these babies." He grins flaps his new although quite tattered limps. He lets out a small yelp when what he stands beside starts to move. Proves to be Heavy and—"Shit even here you are one big motherfucker." The huge merlot colored horse with a boring brown decorating his the base of his legs and a big spot on his chest. His tail- the only thing he has since Heavy is bald has the same color. The now big horse shoots him a small stare before he turns to the— even as a pony Miss Pauling is nice looking, Scout must admit that. "You alright Miss Pauling?" Heavy asks.

"No, I am not alright!" Miss Pauling snaps at the two, she–they have been turned into horses by Ignis. Ugh, now she truly regrets not to have shot him the first time he introduced himself. "We have been turned into horses—why didn't you stop him?!" She did not notice Scout flinches as if he got whipped.

Unfazed by her anger as it is understandable why Miss Pauling would be upset. She did not get any warning this would happen. "Sniper needs our help." Heavy explains the now unicorn shaped Miss Pauling calmly. "We did not plan bring you, but Ignis insisted."

"Yeah, and it's not like we could fight him..." Scout laughs weakly. "Last time we did he fired a fricking fireball at us– didn't hurt as much as Pyro's flames though." Really hoping Miss Pauling will calm down. It sort of hurts she being angry at them. He feels like getting whacked by an invisible hand, winches and when opening his eyes again, he looks into Miss Pauling very crosses green eyes.

Miss Pauling is not amused. "Now is not the time joking around Scout." She tries to get on her feet to then stumble when this body is made to walk on four and not two. She bites down a scream of frustrations.

Noticing Scout flinches from what frustrations Miss Pauling must be feeling this very moment gives Heavy hope that the plan with Scout will indeed work. "Scout, you feel Miss Pauling emotions, yes?" He asks, just to be sure.
Both Scout and Miss Pauling look up to him in confusion. The latter then turns to Scout there scratches his left hoof nervously. "Um... I think so..."

"What?!" Miss Pauling exclaims in shock, Scout can feel her emotions?? "How is that possible?" She demands.

Getting overloaded by her negative emotions there reminds him a bit too much of his mother's former ex there had a habit slapping him for talking back. Scout's first instinct is to move away from this mental threat. "I don't know, okay." He just wants her to feel better so the tension will disappear. He does not notices he sought protection beside Heavy, whose emotions is way calmer which gives his now very stressed mind some relief. "Please don't be angry..." He tells her softly, exactly like he would when his mother was upset.

Heavy feel a bit sorry for Scout now hiding behind him, pretty sure he is getting blasted with Miss Pauling's negative emotions. Something Scout is not used to, not to mention he can barely control his own emotions. That makes Scout extra sensitive to what others feel. Heavy has an idea that's is why Scout talks so much and too arrogant to hear others; he is used to dealing with people annoyed at him but frustrations of the current situation from Miss Pauling. That must be difficult for his untrained mind to comprehend and tackle properly. He eyes the mare, telling her plainly. "What done is done. Do not lash out at Scout."
He must admit that it is sort of ironic that someone trying so hard not admitting his own emotions now is forced to endure others.

Seeing how vulnerable Scout looks, not at all used to see the cocky Scout like this. And knowing it is her frustrations and anger there somehow harms him. Miss Pauling takes a deep breath, calming herself. "Alright, let's... let's figure out where he brought us." She says calmer and very unsure on her feet starts moving down this hallway they ended up in.

Heavy gives Scout a small look before he follows. Scout is close behind, however unlike in the human world; the speedster does not approach Miss Pauling and tries to flirt with her. She must still be pretty upset, Heavy guesses.
They do not get far down this hallway when the door on the other side opens by what Heavy presume are guards and the moment these guard ponies spots them. They draw their spears on them. Heavy do consider punching them- wait hooves, so it is a kick instead, either way, he decides to let things play out for now.

"Identify yourself!" One of the guards demands, just as Twilight, her friends, Cadence, Shining Armor and Celestia leave the soon to be wedding room after the reversal.

Okay, this whole world is filled with talking horses, Miss Pauling observes and thinks it might be best getting out from here as quick as possible before they get into needless trouble. "I'm sorry, we got a little lost." She tells the guards.

Celestia steps over to them, asking with a soothing voice. "Where were you heading?" Eyeing this unicorn with suitcase having waves of papers flying out for a cutie mark. A pony she has not seen in the castle before.

Taking aback by this radiant, tall and clearly, the queen if that crown indicates to anything horse, Miss Pauling tries desperately to come up with a believable excuse, but before she can, Scout exclaims loudly. "It hurts! Make it stop!" Collapsing onto the floor, whimpering as if he is going through his personal torture. Okay, this is really starting to worry her. "Scout? What's wrong?" She asks in near panic from not knowing what to do.

The other ponies jerks back to this colt sudden reaction. Celestia steps over to see if she can help, she taps lightly this trembling colt with her horn, filling his body with her healing magic. He slowly stops shaking, much to her relief. "Feeling better young one?" She asks, giving him a soft smile.

Scout nods slowly, glad of the relief from the pain there hit him like a brick wall is gone. But to his horror, as this warm soothing this radiant horse gave him fades away, the agony returns. His eyes start darting around for the source, and when he spots it; he freaks out. Jumping onto his hooves and backs away from that white, with blue hair of a unicorn. His whole body screaming at him to get away from that mental assault he gets from that unicorn.

Twilight frowns deeply on this strange pegasi's reaction the second he spotted her brother. Turning to Shining Armor; she is not surprised seeing him frown deeply at this scared out of his mind colt. Back to this pegasus. "There is no reason to fear." She tries to ensure this freaked out young stallion.
Shining Armor nods and steps over to the three. "I mean you no—"

"Stay away from me you freak!" Scout cries, backing further away from him. But that is not enough, the pain is too great so he flees to get away from this agony and loath to the whole world he is sensing from that one.

"Scout!" Miss Pauling calls but he does not listen, so busy getting away from whatever is freaking him out. "I'm sorry." She apologizes to the overly confused group and with "Let's go Heavy." She follows after Scout with Heavy close behind.

Heavy does, however, send that male unicorn a glance, it seems like he has found the BLU Spy.
He will need to get Spy to reveal himself, though. It's clear he is disguised as someone important, doubt Scout will be any help as it is clear whatever going on with Spy is a pure agony for the speedster. No matter, Scout did his main job and now can let Heavy do the rest.

"What was that all about?" Rainbow Dash asks of that scene, watching those strange two ponies leave to find the one there panicked for no apparent reason. But no one has an answer. Well, Pinkie sort of did but not on Rainbow Dash's question.

"Their names sounded very much like the others." She giggles.

Twilight blinks hearing this, could these three be from where Spy, Demo, Engineer, Sniper, Medic and Soldier are from? If that's the case then why did this Scout react so badly on her brother? She feels a hoof on her back, turning around she sees it is her brother.
"Could we speak in private for a moment?" He asks her in a worried tone. She nods, thinking he too must be worried why that strange pegasus yelled at him like that. She and Shining Armor leave the others, heading to a place where they can talk in peace.

She did not see the sinister look on Shining Armor's face.

"Scout?" Miss Pauling calls, now inside some room decorated for a party. She lets out a sigh of relief when Scout slowly walks over to her with a very pathetic look on his face– like someone has thrown him into a cell filled with dead puppies. She walks over to him, demanding hard. "What happened? Why did you freak out like that?"

"I..." Scout drops his head further, he is so exhausted and numb from all these mentally assaults he got in such short among of time. His mind hasn't been able to handle it. "It hurt me... he hurt me alright!" The last of the sentence he snaps, baring his teeth so the longer canine can be seen.
Miss Pauling takes a step back, startled by the sudden aggressively thrown at her, good Scout thinks, for all he feels right now is numbness from that pain. "It fricking hurt, but it's not like you give a shit. All you care about is going home to your bitch boss!!" The numbness rapidly gets replaced with an unknown rage, one he cannot control.

"Scout—"

"Don't you Scout me!" He snaps at the scared unicorn, stomping hard onto the ground. "I am sick and tired of you continually ignoring what I am saying– am I not good enough for you is that it?!" He sneers, but he's not really surprised, everyone thinks that. He tried to be nice, but it seems girls only want bad boys, well, he sure hell can be that if that's what it takes.

Miss Pauling takes another step away from Scout, for the first time afraid of him.  She hasn't been aware how much her ignoring him had hurt his feelings. He never seemed to notice if she listened or not, but he must've for there are so much pain and anger behind every word.
She has often dealt with people threatening her as Helen has many enemies, but usually, she would have a gun or the mercenaries like Scout to deal with them. Miss Pauling has never seen Scout this angry, so rageful; so much that sparks start surround him- wait what? Why does his body spark as if he's charged like a thundercloud?
That can't be healthy.
"Scout listens to me—" She tries to calm him but a predator hiss from Scout made her back further away. Her body tense as it looks as if he's ready to attack her.

"Enough." Heavy cuts in, stepping in between the two. Scout glares up at him, most of his body is filled with sparks of negativity. "You want a piece of me, fatso?!" Heavy does not answers, simply stepping over to him. Scout found that action as a provocation and tackles into him. Didn't do much, though, as Scout's mind is too clouded by the negativity he has gotten from both Miss Pauling and the disguised Spy. Heavy is sort of glad that Scout is uncoordinated in his anger and he does not have a weapon, he might've done more damage than merely knocking the air out of him during a lucky hit. Then, about five minutes of attacking, Scout drops to the floor, whimpering now that he has released all his anger onto the punching bag Heavy deliberately made himself for this frustrated young man. Seeing that Scout now has gotten rid of his anger, Heavy carefully sits down beside the whimpering speedster and puts a hoof on Scout's shoulder, thinking about the sweet but rare moments with his family. He thinks about his loving mother, figuring that Scout can relate from how much the kid talks about his own mother.

Feeling a soothing and oh so welcoming feeling there reminds him of the time when his mother comforted him as a child, Scout lets go of his anger and lets this way better feeling in. Unaware he curls up beside Heavy; the changeling side of him craving for this way better source of food and that heals up his exhausted mind. He lets out a sigh of relief, not sure how but he thinks Heavy is the cause of this. "Thanks, paly..." He says quietly but does not move away from the more horse sized man.

Heavy simply hums in reply, he's more relieved that his theory actually worked. He turns around, seeing Miss Pauling stand a bit away, very unsure and somewhat scared of what has just happened to Scout. She does slowly walk over to them, asking Scout carefully. "Did you... did you mean those words?"
Scout winches, he is quiet for a painfully long time before he answers in almost a whisper. "Maybe a little..."
Miss Pauling opens her mouth, but Heavy does not think that now is the time for them talking about their one-sided relationship. "Miss Pauling, I need your help with Spy."

"Spy?" Miss Pauling blinks.

"Da, horse Scout yelled at, it was Spy." Heavy explains and is sort of surprised that Scout did not insult the man as he usually does. And apparently, Scout sensed that as the young man says quietly. "I hate him, but I don't want anyone suffering through that shit."

"Heavy didn't say anything." Miss Pauling points out in confusion, turning to said huge horse when Heavy chuckles lightly and explains much to her surprise. "Little Scout feel my surprise." Now said emotion detector snorts as if offended. Okay, this is getting weird, but something she can think about later. Now it is time to get a hold on Spy. "Let's get Spy." She says and leaves with Heavy close behind.
She does stop for a moment, turning to the still lying Scout. Usually, she would command him to come as well, but after have witness what he is dealing with. "Get some rest." He slowly nods, too tired to argue.
With that done, she and Heavy hurry as fast they can– which is not fast as neither has gotten used to walking on four legs.
Heavy is the one who spots the disguised Spy first. "There." Nodding to where Spy and a purple unicorn are walking into a lone room. They walk over to the room as fast their new bodies will allow them. Stepping inside, a horrific sight meets them.

The still-disguised Spy has the terrified purple unicorn underneath his hooves as if about to crush her skull with a stomp. He looks up and sneers of the interruption, he stomps once over the mare's hoof, not breaking it but did cause enough damage that she won't be able to run or get away. Stepping away from the whimpering in pain unicorn the disguised Spy now turns his full attention to the two intruders. "You should've stayed out of this." And jumps at Heavy.

Heavy tries to punch this disguised spy with his hooves but Spy is too fast and Heavy is the one getting kicked; right over the face.
"They belong to me, fat man!" The disguised Spy sneers before jumping at Miss Pauling, she did not stand a chance. She got tackled down and Heavy does not recover fast enough to save her from getting knocked out by getting hurled into a pillar.
Heavy let out a war-cry and somehow manages to catch this way faster Spy and throws him to the floor. Like with Scout he uses his emotions, this time though, as a weapon. He lets Spy feel his rage, and his determination to beat some senses into him. The disguised Spy freezes up for a moment, but quickly recovers and tackles into Heavy. He turns into his true form and lunges his way longer canine teeth into Heavy's neck, truly going into being a vampire. Heavy cries in pain from the bite bit also feeling himself get drained, not of blood but something else. He steers and jumps in attempt getting this bug looking horse off his neck. But no matter what he tries, Spy refuses to fall off. Heavy's body starts to feel heavy and numb, he tries to fight it but that only makes him stumble onto the floor.

Spy jumps off, smirking smugly down to the fallen stallion.

"Spy?"

He turns around, facing the teary purple unicorn.

"W-Why?" Twilight asks, feeling hurt and betrayed by this Changeling there always proclaimed to friendly and on their side. Has that all been a lie?
Spy walks over to her, forcing her head up with his hole filled hoof, smirking maliciously

"Because I can." He says, for a moment his smirk falters as if remembering something. He steps back and shoots a green beam at the floor. Green flames surround Twilight, dragging her down and away. He stares at the spot for a moment, then he smirks again and turns to Heavy, licking his mouth hungrily. "Now, where is that brat?"  
Heavy refuses to tell, much to Spy's annoyance, and because he doesn't have time to torture the answer out, he decides just to trap this dimwitted fool and Miss Pauling in a cocoon so he can feed on them later. Putting up his Shining Armor disguise again, he heads out to find Cadence and makes sure she is fully under his control. Can't have his main prize will leave on her big day, after all.

****

Deep down in the underground caves of Canterlot, Twilight struggles onto her hooves, crying of the betrayal but also the dread that she might've lost her brother to that monster. She is so close to collapses and cries herself hoarse, but a weak call behind one of the many walls around her makes Twilight look up, recognizing the voice. With renewed hope, Twilight shoots a beam at this wall, gasping in shock and relief seeing her brother, chained, highly ruffled up but alive. "Brother!" She cries and limps over to him.

A single spell releases him from the chain and Shining Armor hugs her tightly. "Twily! Oh, I was so worried what that monster would've done to you." He exclaims very relieved, then worried when seeing the huge bruise on her leg. "Twily, your leg."

"It looks worse than it is." She tells him, glad that big earth pony and blue unicorn came, without them, Spy might've killed her. Speaking of that traitor. "This is all my fault... Spy, he.. I told him so much...!" She cries, feeling stupid that she let her guard down around him. Believing his words of not wishing them any harm.

Shining Armor hushes her gently. "Shh, it's not your fault. You didn't know." and hugs her again, his attention is however drawn to a weak light shining, a light inside of him calling to follow. It is a bit odd as he did not feel this a few hours ago, but something tells him that if he follows it; he will find his beloved Cadence. "I think... I think I know the way out— can you walk?" He asks Twilight. She nods and limping starts following her brother. They both hurry as fast Twilight leg will allow her through the caves.  

***
After having left the now fully brainwashed Cadence in her quarters, Spy walks over to his room, where he puts on the black uniform for the wedding. At the mirror, he takes a golden medal.

'This day is going to be perfect
The kind of day of which I've dreamed since I was small'

With the medal decorating his chest, he walks among the many uniforms Rarity has made.

'All those armor loving bores, say I look great in uniform
What they don't know is that I have fooled them all!'

He smirks evilly, his usually blue eyes shifting to a poison green.

***

Down in the caves, Shining Armor wants to hurry but is keeping a slower pace for his sister's sake.

'This day was going to be perfect
The kind of day of which I've dreamed since I was small...
But instead of having cake
With all my friends to celebrate
My wedding bells, they may not ring for me at all… '

He stops when Twilight stumbles and helps her back up. Dreading they might not get out in time...

***

'I could care not a thing about the ring
I won't partake in any cake'

Spy trashes the bowl of fruit, such garbage cannot sustain him.

'Vows, well I'll be lying when I say
That through any kind of weather
I'll want us to be together
The truth is I don't care for her at all'

Looking out the window where his soon to be main food source is heading for the ceremony.

'No I do not love the bride
For my heart is dead inside!
But I still want him to be all mine!'

***
Shining Armor levitates his sister onto his back, when sure she won't fall off, he starts running.

We must escape before it's too late
Find a way to save the day
Hope, I'll be lying if I say
"I don't fear that I may lose her
To one who wants to use her
Not care for, love, and cherish her each day!"'

They encounter an old mine, and to their luck, there is a mining cart on the rails.

'For I oh so love the bride
Oh in my heart, she does reside.'

He puts Twilight into the cart and with a strong push, the cart starts moving. He almost misses it if his sister hasn't used her own levitation magic on him.

'Oh, Princess Cadence, I'll soon be by your side!'

The rail gets to a sudden halt as part of it has fallen apart, throwing the cart over the edge. Shining Armor activates his shield spell around both him and Twilight, making them bounce off the rock below and end back on the other side where the light is calling him.

***

The ceremony has begun, Spy, disguised as Shining Armor steps up as the groom he is, smirking watching his food source offering herself on a silver platter as she walks up to him in that lovely dress.

'Finally the moment has arrived!
For me to take a very lucky bride.'

***

Once again running headlong through the caves there seemly has no end.

'Oh, the wedding we won't make
She'll end up marrying a fake
Princess Cadence will be...'

***
"...mine, all mine." Spy smirks and with a chuckle, lets Celestia do the boring vows.

***

Still trapped in these caves, in desperations, Shining Armor shoots a beam at one of the many crystals surrounding them, but all that got him is a hole leading to yet more caves. He groans. "We're never going to save her if we cannot get out from here."

"We will." Twilight ensures him, searching the caves for any sign of a way out. "We just have to find... there!" She spots light way above them. She limps over to her brother and uses a teleportation spell, taking them to the wanted spot. About to move, Twilight and Shining Armor stop when a crystal lands before them from above, they look up and stare horrified at a maniac looking griffin in form of Sniper.

"And where do you think you're going?" He asks, menacingly. He leaps down from his spot and hits the force field conjured by Shining Armor. The somewhat now darker griffin recovers from the sudden spell, he stalks around the force field. "Come out and play little ponies~" He sing-songs.

Twilight is heartbroken seeing that Sniper too is in on it. "Oh no... you too Sniper...!"

"Me too little pony, me too." Sniper replies with a wicked grin and attacks the force field, trying to claw himself through it. "And I am going to tear you to pieces! Maybe eat you too." He says now on top of the force field. His usual stoic professionalism is completely gone, replaced with a bloodthirsty killer. "Fight me all you like, it's going to be fun watching that desperate hope stay in your dead eyes after I have killed you."

Shining Armor narrow his eyes of this far from friendly griffin, he remembers seeing this one. But this griffin wasn't so... bloodthirsty back then. "Something wrong with him." He says, for a moment ignoring this griffin constantly voicing how he is going to tear them apart. "I think... that Changeling has some sort of control over him."

"Nah, this is all me. " Sniper replying from above the forcefield, looking grinningly down to them. "Spook did remind me how bloody useless it is being a professional when you can just cut lose." and he starts clawing into the shield again. "So do me the favor and come out! I would like have some fun skinning you two ponies alive, I always wanted a jacket made out of horse skin."

Twilight flinches from the usual so stoic griffin's words. She knows these turned humans are used to fight and at times kill, Medic has told her they did do some rather twisted things to one another and taunt the fallen afterward, yet from how Medic said it, Twilight got the sense they mostly did it because they had gone numb from being stuck in an endless circle of death and war. She was, of course, disturbed how Medic told what he has done to others, but the light in it is she did catch on a hint of regret in his voice when telling her about it, even though Medic did do a good job hiding it behind his twisted humor. But Sniper is talking about killing them with such glee- no regards for anything other than cause as much harm as possible; that terrifies her.

Shining Armor horn lights in sharp magenta, he wishes he has time to perhaps snapping this griffin out from whatever is wrong with him, but he can do that when Cadence is safe. "Not today griffin!" He shoots the griffin off the shield, and before the griffin can recover, Shining Armor traps him inside another. The griffin snarls and hisses, trying- but to no avail getting free from his small prison.
Turning to his sister. "That should hold him for a while. Let's go."

Twilight nods and after giving the snarling Sniper a quick glance, the siblings hurries to the wedding.

Out from the caves and back in the castle's halls, they spot the same strange pegasus there freaked out when he spotted the one Twilight now know was Spy. He almost does the same when he spots her real brother. Twilight stops him from running by quickly grabbing him with her magic. "It's not Spy, this is my real brother." Nodding to Shining Armor there has a small frown on his face in confusion.
The young stallion stares a few seconds at her brother, then looks at her with; "I believe you, being near him aren't... hurtful."
Twilight blinks and in her moment of confusions forgets using her magic and drops this strange pegasus back onto the floor. "Hurtful? You mean you can sense emotion?" Adding since she only knows one species there can sense emotions like this. "Are you a Changeling?"

Scout looks down himself, then up to this purple pony with a shrug. "Beats me."

Okay, Scout here is definitely from this human world and knowing the others were skilled fighters. "We need your help." He gets on his hooves and nods slowly. She returns it and along with her brother, they hurry to stop the wedding and they reach the place just in time.

"Princess Cadence and Shining Armor, it is my great pleasure to pronounce you–"

"Stop!" Twilight shouts, everypony chatter in disapproval and her friends giving her shocked look for right beside Spy stands... another her? Twilight already fears what that second her is.

Spy shoot Twilight a glare, thinking he should've killed her instead of putting her in that prison– Why did he send her down there again...? His train of thoughts on this mystery breaks when Shining Armor steps into the room with the brat close behind. He growls and would like to know as he had security down there in case Shining Armor did get free. "How did you escape Sniper?"
Sniper has the same darkness inside as he has, it would've ensured Sniper 'morals' wouldn't get in between his kill.  

"He's cooling off in one of my shield spells." Shining Armor replies. His look-alike swipes his tail in annoyance and says with a huff. "Clever, I had hoped you would've killed one another. No, matter; you're still too late."

Probably like everypony else, Applejack is confused. "I-I don't understand. How can there be two of them?"

Twilight steps forward, now feeling bad she didn't tell her friends about Spy being a Changeling. "He's a Changeling, it's Spy!" Celestia and her friends gasp hearing this, the disguised Spy sneers in anger, but she is not done."He told me he was good, but all he did was feeding off on us! That is what Changeling does!"

"Well, no reason hiding it." Spy grumbles, and bows to the fake Twilight. "After you." The fake Twilight turns into her real form in a ring of green flames. She becomes as big as Celestia, black like any Changeling, but with long blue hair and bigger wings, in fact, she looks very close to an alicorn. This alicorn changeling laughs evilly and at her side, Spy takes his Changeling form, this time in a bug looking armor.

The queen of the Changeling steps forward to the real Shining Armor and Twilight. "Right you are. And as queen of the changelings, it is up to me to find food for my subjects." She walks down the stairs, letting Spy make sure no one will interrupt her speech. "Equestria has more love than any place I've ever encountered. My fellow changelings will be able to devour so much of it that we will gain more power than we have ever dreamed of!"

Shining Armor takes a step forward, his horn glowing brightly. "I will stop you! Your lackey might have removed me but my protection spell is still up!"

"Ah-ah-ah." Spy coos, his teeth awfully close the brainwashed Cadence. "One wrong move and your precious wedding will turn into a funeral." Smirking as Shining Armor reluctant dismisses his magic.

Queen Chrysalis laughs of how easy that went, these ponies are too loving for their own good. "There is nothing you can do to stop my changeling army, soon they will break through your already weaken barrier." She steps over to the shield caster who is not a threat so long Spy has his beloved under his control. "First, we take Canterlot. And then, all of Equestria!"

"No. You won't." Celestia steps forward, feeling very crossed that Spy has betrayed them and she trusted him. But she can worry about him later, first she has to deal with this queen. "You may have made it impossible for Shining Armor to perform his spell, but now that you have so foolishly revealed your true self; I can protect my subjects from you!" She shoots a beam of her solar magic on the Changeling queen. Her alicorn magic made her stronger and would've defeated the queen, but then.

"Guards, protect your queen!" Chrysalis commands and all of the royal guard ponies turn into changelings and attacks Celestia, she tries to fend them off but with them draining her energy and their queen using her own magic, Celestia is soon defeated.

Smirking and very glad she smuggled several of her drones inside, if not then this alicorn would've defeated her. "Not even an alicorn can stand up to the might of the Changeling army!" Then turns to Twilight and her friends leaving, Chrysalis doesn't bother to command her soldiers to stop them. Like with the disguised soldiers in here and Spy keeping the wedding pair in check, she has ensured that these Element bearers won't be able to get their trinkets. She eyes the glaring Shining Armor and thinks she might get herself a snack before she has to deal with those that carry that ancient magic.

Chapter Text

Queen Chrysalis has just drained Shining Armor from most of his magic when the drones she stationed nearby where those annoying Elements-of-Ruining-her-day have re-captured and brought back those six ponies there thought they could thwart her.
The queen laughs of the faces these ponies there thinks they are the heroes as if they thought they could defeat her just like that. "You do realize the reception's been canceled, don't you?" She taunts the ponies and turns to the windows, crying gleeful out to her army of Changelings there have gotten through the barrier. "Go! Feed!" They obey her command, flying out to feed on the city of Canterlot. She is so confident in her victory that she even lets the drones inside this room go out and feed on the ponies of Canterlot.

Celestia feels dread that her vision has come through... more than ever she wants to stand up and fight this invasion force but she can barely move from that horde or Changeling drones have drained most of her energy, leaving her with a bigger sense of helplessness that she has failed her subjects...

Still standing at the window Queen Chrysalis watches her drones hunt down every pony of the city and will get enough food so they can conquer rest of this land. This has been the perfect day indeed.

Noticing Twilight is trying to sneak over to Cadence, Spy sneers and jumps on her. "And where do you think you are going?" He asks, baring his long canine close to her face. Twilight stares up to him with fear in her eyes, he too feels a sense of betrayal coming from her, and if not for the dark being tainting his mind. Spy would've felt deeply regretful by this but all he feels now is glee that he managed to fool this naive pony so well.

"Let her go!" Shining Armor commands, struggling to get on his hooves but all that his shouting did was making this very clever changeling step almost possessive over his sister, asking in a taunt. "Or you will do what? Blast me with that horn of yours? You better have enough juice in it and hit right or your beloved sister might get hurt."
Shining Armor really wants to take the shot but he just can't take the chance, not with this Changeling having his fangs that close to his sister's throat.

Spy laughs loudly of this royal guard pony does not want to make a small sacrifice in order to save the rest of the capital. "Oh, you ponies, too much of a pacifist for your own good. You are all so weak!"

"Think again bug-face!"

Spy snaps his attention to where the yelling came from and right that second he gets headbutted by Scout, the headbutt itself is nothing to cry over, but the emotions of hatred and pure determination does. He stumbles backward, trying to shake this assault of raw emotions away. Before he can, Scout kicks him right in the chest. Spy does recover from this assault of emotions, he wouldn't be a good spy if he couldn't get emotions under control in stressful situations. He hisses at this brat and returns the favor by throwing his own and stronger assault of pure rage and despair at him. As expected Scout's hasn't trained himself to handle sudden emotions, he flinches and topples on his hooves. Spy smirks at how easy that was. "You can't dodge and you cannot fight, hell you can't even use your rage properly." He kicks the youngsters, sending him sprawling onto the floor, but Spy is far from done with this one. the darkness in him knows that this boy is a major threat and commands him to get rid of it right now. And Spy will after he has proven Scout that he is not as awesome as he thinks, in fact: "You are worthless. It's no wonder why no one likes a vulgar and useless brat who never shuts up like you."

"Shut up you snake!" Scout shouts back, tears in his eyes of not only the despair Spy whipped him with but also the truth in this older man's words. Spy smirks widen, walking like a predator around him. "Oh, where's the fun in that? It's not often I get the chance hitting you where it really hurts." Scout tries to fend him off by attacking but the drain of Spy's incredible negative emotions slows him down. Spy easily dodges him, "Behind all that arrogance is nothing but a sniveling child wishing for approval from someone there's never going to give it." Scout's eyes of those words, so caught off guard on how precise Spy hit his inner demon and before he can recover, the adult Changeling bites him in the neck. Scout scream in pain, thrashing desperately in an attempt to make Spy let go, but Spy only clams down harder.

Twilight got enough! She shoots a beam of her magic on Spy, she does also hit this Scout but thinks he can deal as she did make Spy let go of him.
Jumping up beside the young stallion, Twilight's horn beaming strongly against this traitor's Changeling. "You have to go through me if you want him!" It's very clear that Spy really wants this young stallion dead.
"Me too!" Rainbow Dash joins her with Applejack close behind.
"Um, m-me too." Fluttershy stutter nervously but does join them.
"Me three!" Pinkie says way more cheerful and one arm hugs this weird looking stallion, blinking of the strange sort of electricity his pelt gives off.

Their emotions, their determination to protect a complete stranger, and that pink pony's huge wave of joy going through him. Scout cannot comprehend the immense power, but he feels awesome! He grins at the startled Spy and after have charged himself, he tackles into Spy so hard that he makes a small dome from the air. Spy gets splashed against the nearby wall, shaking from Scout emotions. Yeah, he better! Another charge and Scout headbutt him with a loud "BONK!" and would've attacked again, but then notices that deep underneath all that rage and despair. He feels pride. Pride aimed towards him. Wait, what?! He stops his assault, staring dumbfounded at the man he has hated since day one. Suddenly no longer so sure if all those negative emotions are really his own.

With Spy somewhat out of commission, Cadence snaps out from the brainwash. Shaking her head in confusions, she notices her beloved is lying on the floor. She gasps and runs over to him.

Chrysalis is not having it though, she jumps in between the two lovers; telling the alicorn gleefully. "It is over princess!" To then get super tackled by some weird looking Changeling kid, she sneers in anger of the nerves of this grub. "You dare to attack your queen!"

"You are not my queen spider lady!" Scout retorts in another charge attack, but before he can hit her though, she grabs him with her magic and hurls him into the wall. It knocks out his air and Scout lands hard onto the floor, struggling to get back up but before he can, Chrysalis forces him down by stepping on him.

"You soon will see me as your queen you puny grub." Chrysalis sneers and starts to drain this wannabe grub for his energy, it will teach him not to turn against her. The grub cries in pain, struggling but is unable to fight a queen like her.

Seeing this and be more back to his senses than ever before he got tainted, Spy fights against the darkness holding his mind. "Get out... from my mind!" He forces the darkness out- the shadow pony realizes this fight is lost and disappears in a cluster of black crystals- Spy, although not fully cleansed and far from his former self, he did have enough willpower to know that if he does not act now, he will love Scout. He lunges at the queen of the Changeling, tackles her away from Scout and steps in between the queen and the barely conscious kid. He hisses furiously at her. "You stay away from him!" She stares at him in surprise, then snorts somewhat disgusted "I should've known a pony lover like you would get a half-breed for an offspring." Spy jerks ever so slightly from the sudden hit of shock coming from behind him. Ignoring the fact the cat is out from the bag, he glares at the queen. "Touch him again, and I will tear you apart!" and he means it. He won't hesitate for a second if she dares to harm his light in this miserable life.
Chrysalis attacks him and true to his words, Spy retaliates with a fury very much his own now.

Shining Armor tries to perform his spell, but those changelings have drained him too much. "No... I don't have the strength to repel them." He gasps in horror and feels so useless he can do nothing to help the people in Canterlot or the Changeling- there for some reason now are fighting against his queen in order to protect that strange pegasus colt. He wants to help as it's clear that drone is fighting a losing battle, but... he can't! His attention gets turned back to Cadence when she suddenly hugs him, saying softly yet determent. "My love will give you strength." So he tries again. Cadence lets her horn touches his and even though both of them are drained, their love to one another ignites not only their magic but one far older than anypony in this room.

Still trapped inside the changeling cocoon, Miss Pauling's body lights up and shards of a lost element fly over to the new bearer and avatar of this element. The shards find the targets and surround Shining Armor and Cadance, giving their magic the boost they needed. The two blinks in surprise of this, but with a smile returns back to their united spell. The shards spin around them like lightning, lifting them off the ground.

Holding the barely conscious and heavily bleeding Spy between her jaws Chrysalis snap her attention to the forming spell. She drops this traitor drone, but Spy has kept her busy just long enough. The shards gather around their necks, Cadence gold necklace gets a heart and Shining Armor's silver forms into a shield, both in the color of turquoise. With the Element of Love surging through them. Their united spell to protect everpony sharing the same feeling of the same Element under their control. It forces everything else away from the city. Which meant that Chrysalis and her changeling army gets blasted away from Canterlot. The only two Changelings safe from the spell are the father and son.
The spell ends and the two new bearer of the Element of Love ends back onto the floor, beaming at one another before they hug.

Twilight helps Celestia back on her hooves, worried for her teacher and ruler's well being. Celestia eases her mind with a simple. "Don't worry about me; I'm fine." Twilight smiles, but it does drop as the alicorn turns over to where the badly wounded Spy has collapsed, both the beating he took from Chrysalis and the shield powered by love. Twilight is no longer sure about that Changeling anymore. He betrayed them, but ended up protecting Scout- who apparently is his son. He almost gave up his own life for it.
She follows Celestia over to the two, letting the ruler of the sun do whatever she wishes to Spy.

Celesta hesitates, but do cast a healing spell on the wounded changeling, closing the most treating wounds. His eyes snap wide open, staring up at her in shock as if he cannot believe she did this to him. Celestia must admit that she did consider not doing it, for it was clear that he caused this invasion to happen and yet... it is partly her fault too for she was the one who sends him. That is why she healed him, but unless he has a very good excuse, she will not be so kind letting him stays among her people.
"What is your explanation for this Spy?" Celestia asks the changeling sternly.

Fighting a Changeling Queen, which is both bigger and stronger himself- almost getting killed by her and that spell from Cadence and Shining Armor may have cleansed him from the shadow creature, but it has left him meek and very drained. But can take his weaken state; he is free from that creature there took over his mind. Not from his actions though as that shadow pony might have possessed him but it controlled him by increasing his own negative thoughts and emotions. "A horse made out of shadows took over my mind, but even though it twisted my thoughts and emotions; they were still mine." He struggles gets back on his hooves, lowering his head before the ruler. "I will accept whatever punishment you have for my actions." Sure hell he deserves it, just as much he deserved the banishment from his own country back in the human world.

Celestia watches Spy for a long time, then at this half pony/changeling, the colt looks conflicted, as if he doesn't know how to react to all of this. Chrysalis did say that this is Spy's son, and from how Spy almost sacrificed himself to protect this colt— so that's what the vision was about. That colt was the light. Did that mean that she was meant to let Spy get possessed? Not sure, the visions don't always make sense.
It would sort of be unfair robbing this colt for a parent by exile after Spy fought so hard protecting him. Still, Spy was the cause this invasion almost succeeds, but he was possessed by a Shadow pony— if that is the truth as those dark beings should only be part of legend. But, everpony deserves a second chance, Luna is a grand proof of that. "Spy, I will not exile or imprison you for your actions." Celestia finally speaks, the changeling looks up to her in utter surprise, she is not done, though. "But you will have to prove yourself worth being trusted again. You caused a lot of harm and only by mere luck nopony got killed. My punishment for you; you will be under the constant watch of Twilight and her friends. You will not shape-shift unless they ask you, and until my student says you can be trusted again: you are not allowed to leave the borders of Ponyville and I will not acquire you any missions."
Spy nods he understands. Celestia then turns to Spy's child, one who made Spy get back on their side and thus gave Cadence and Shining Armor just enough time to make their spell. "Scout was it?"

"Uh yeah, yeah, that's right," Scout replies with a weak smile, what he is getting from this horse is incredible and kinda scary at the same time.

"Without your action, a lot of ponies would've gotten hurt. So for that:" Celestia bows her head slightly towards him. "I am grateful." Blinking when Scout's fur starts to spark a little.

"Thanks!" Scout beams, completely unaware that he is like a small thundercloud at this moment. He does snap out from it when Spy groans, and gives him a small wave of dismay. "Oh dear god... as if that bonk drink wasn't bad enough..."
Scout shoots him a glare. "Says the shape-shifting scumbag."

Spy looks away. "Touché." and firmly ignores the surprise he gets from Scout, he's too exhausted to argue or throw fake taunts at him.

With that settled Celestia turns to Twilight. "Let us join the others." the purple unicorn nods and with one last glance to Spy, she follows the ruler of the land.

Scout slowly turns his head back to Spy, not sure how to feel about what the spider queen said about Spy being his—
"Don't." Spy interrupts his thoughts, the changeling sends him a hard look but Scout's new ability allows him to see right through the mask and realizes how hurt truly Spy is. "Don't go there, we both know it won't work." and Spy leaves him with a dropped head, most would think it is fatigue, but... Scout knows better.
Scout stares at the door where Spy disappeared, never before felt this conflicted about something. he has always been so sure about his decisions, but now... now he has no idea how to tackle this new change of event.

***

After have gotten cleaned up by the invasion and those brainwashed or trapped back to normal. The wedding can get started again, the turned humans weren't invited to that part but Celestia did allow them to join the festivities after the wedding.
Here Scout told Heavy, Sniper and Miss Pauling what had happened and that the ruler of this land practically owes him.

"Don't make it get to your head." Sniper says and grabs himself an apple fritter. "I'm dealing with a pony with an overblown ego already, I have no wish dealing with two."

"Hey!"

Heavy chuckles and since they probably will stay for a while he asks Sniper. "Where are rest of team?"

"Probably doing their own thing back at Ponyville." Sniper shrugs and does look forward returning to that town again. Canterlot is a bit too crowded for his taste. He turns to Miss Pauling stepping over to them, looking a bit stressed out and yet relieved. "oh good, that removes one less thing to worry about. Now we just need to figure out a way returning home".
"Might take a while," Sniper replies, but being stuck here is not really that bad- although that shadow thing sure scared the crap out of him. Being possessed by it wasn't fun either, but other than that, this place is quite peaceful. He reclaims another tasty treat and remembers that not everyone transported here has been found. "Oh, we still haven't found both pyros. Shouldn't be that hard though, they are probably a pony with a fire cutie mark and setting bloody everything on fire."

Miss Pauling hums, thinking they better find Pyro and find a way home. "When we find Pyro, I want all your resources put on finding a way back." She blinks when Sniper chuckles as if she told him a joke. "What?"
Sniper eyes her above his aviators. "We have the princess on the case. If you want to speed it up; you will have to ask her"
oh, okay, Miss Pauling figures she will need to speak with that big white horse. "Okay, I guess I will have to stay here then." She do not think it is a good idea letting a bunch of mercenaries run wild in this city. "Perhaps it is best you stay in this Ponyville?"

"Sure."

Miss Pauling nods and figures she can get a better chance for an audience if the city's savior would— "Where's Scout?" She asks, looking around for the speedster, but for once, he is nowhere around her.

"He left." Heavy simply replies, not much help for miss Pauling but he figures the two needs some time alone.

Scout find Spy sitting alone on a balcony, watching the party down below. "Aren't you going to join?" He asks, although way more hopeful they could talk. He has never known how it is to have a father, not that Spy is what he has been hoping- far from it for but he just cannot shake that genuine love he felt from the man when Spy protected him against that spider queen.

"I doubt anyone would like the harbinger of Canterlot close to destruction near them." Spy replies, completely ignoring Scout's hidden emotions. He will NOT go there, he cannot go there. If he just takes one step that way, then he will fall and won't ever get back up if that happens.

Landing beside him, figuring he might as well get to the point. It's not like he can hide his emotions to Spy like Spy can't hide his to him "Can we talk?"

"No."

"Why?" Scout demands, he is confused and frustrated that he sees and hears one thing but feel another, it does not make any sense! "Is it because I'm not the child you wanted?" Spy sure hell made an indication of that when they fought, but now, he thinks he gets the old man's true emotions as he feels a sense of denial, then shocks, then despair.

"Go away Scout."

He does not, instead Scout steps over so he stands in front of Spy, asking. "Do you hate me?" Again that emotion combination, except the shock is gone, replies with a greater sense of despair. It confuses Scout, does this means that Spy has never hated him? Then why did he go through so much trouble in making life hard for him? Scout blinks when he suddenly sense anger from Spy and lets out a yelp when the changeling throws him to the floor, looking as if he's about to tear his throat open. "Scout, get the fucking hint: leave me ALONE!" The changeling hisses and Scout does for a second fear that this one will kill him, but then he notices that Spy's emotions contradict his behavior. Spy is angry yes, but it feels forced and not really aimed at him.
Scout stares at him, dumbfounded of what he is getting from Spy. it startles him that his new ability to sense emotions is making him able see what truly is behind that mask, and it's not the fabric mask he talks about. Being able to sense Spy's true emotions, he is certain in this: "You won't attack me." He states out and decides to try and get Spy's hoof off his chest. Spy struggles, but as Scout theorized, the man of disguises doesn't retaliate more than a few halfhearted kicks. Getting back up, Scout watches the man he has hated ever since the introduction to one another, Spy had been mocking him for being a child doing a man's job, never once giving him a break reminding him that. But now he can look past that mask of being a giant asshole, Scout realizes that Spy did that because... well, Scout thinks he did it because he didn't want to watch him get killed.
He takes a step towards Spy and Spy leaves him, it hurt watching a scene he has imaged several times of how it would look like when his father left the house for the last time. Scout drops his head in sadness, but it is quickly replaced with anger and he glares into the darkness of the room where Spy is hiding. "You're not making any fricking sense." He growls and flies off but does not join the others; too much on his mind.

When sure Scout is gone and out of hearing range, Spy lets out a pained sob, cursing Scout for pushing him like this. Why has it gotten so hard?! It was hard under the war games, but never like this!
But now when he is on the subject about that boy. He needs to be sure as few people know about this as possible. Spy flies carefully down to the party and quietly get over to where Twilight and her friends are dancing. "Can I talk with you six for a moment?" He asks, all six of them send him a wary look and he understands their hesitation in not trusting him. "Chain me if it makes you feel safer, all I requests that not making me talk here."

Twilight and her friends eye one another, she turns back to him and nods. "Alright." They follow him away from the party. When Spy stop at a place with no one but them, he does not struggle against the magical chain she summons, wraps around his neck and keeping him in place.
With her horn glowing for this chain spell. "Alright Spy, what is it you want to say?" She demands, although not as hard as she wanted. she is starting to understand that Spy- even Sniper wasn't themselves back during the invasion.

"Perhaps apologie for your action?" Pinkie Pie asks.

Spy shakes his head at the pink pony almost hopeful question. "There is no excuse my actions, you have every right distrusting me." Even though he wants people to trust him, and the Elements think he is worthy; Spy does not think himself as a person to be trusted with anything. He has been told and done so many horrible things that he is certain that deceit has become part of him; never to be erased. And he is fine with it, he deserves this distrust. All he asks: "But all I asks of you is never reveal anyone about my relation to Scout."

"Your son you mean." Applejack frowns and asks as this does not make much sense to her. "Why do you want us to keep this quiet?"

"I have a lot of enemies there wants me dead, and if they ever catch wind I have such a huge weakness in form of my son; they will kill him in order to get to me." Spy explains and from how shocked the mares both look and emotions give him, he feels a bit envious that apparently killing children in order get to the parents isn't a common thing here in Equestria. "Hate me all you like, but I beg of you: don't fault him for any of my actions." He begs the six mares, for Scout has for a long time been his only light in his dark and gloomy life. Scout may always hate him, and Spy is more than alright with that, all he wants from his son is the boy to have the happy life he never got.
A bit to his surprise, Rainbow Dash- who has been the one most angry at him; is the first there promise him to keep this quiet, adding with: "But that still doesn't mean I like you." The others follow suit rather quickly.

"I can relate not wanting to see family hurt." Applejack says.

"Me too," Rarity agrees, adding, "you got my word."

"I-I won't tell anypony." Fluttershy says in a low voice, but her emotions are genuine.

Twilight eyes the changeling, she must admit she cannot find herself to trust him after he had tried to kill her, but this isn't about him, it's about his son. And like her friends, she cannot bear the thought of losing her family to somepony who wants to see her hurt. "For your son." He nods, fully accepting her reason.

Pinkie then jumps in between the magical chained changeling and ponies, declaring seriously. "Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." Doing the motions to mimic her words. Spy stares dumbfounded at her. She giggles of that face and explains the once bad but now good again changeling. "That's Pinkie promise; you do NOT break a Pinkie promise— girls, we do the Pinkie promise!" She declares the five others and they all make a cross over their heart, mimics they fly and lastly poke themselves over the right eye.

.... he is not going to question this, simply hope that this strange promise and the mare's words will be good enough. He really would hate to kill them all. Spy nods and tells that is all he wanted from them. "You can return back to the party now." Twilight dismisses the spell around his neck and before any of them can open their mouth; he flies off, returning to his solitary spot on the balcony.

***

Back in the human world, the BLU Sniper and Heavy have recovered from what their counterpart went through. Sniper is embarrassed he lost his cool like that and is happy his team listened to Medic's request or he could've seriously hurt someone with his brutal glee of cutting someone to pieces. Heavy is more confused about what his teammates told them that his knockout was the cause of the RED Heavy who apparently now is somewhere else and somehow got turned into a horse.
Back at RED base, with Ignis ensuring everything is fine Medic releases the now dumbstruck but back to normal Spy from his restrains. Spy is incredible relived this crisis is over, but also worried about his true feelings towards the youngest member of the teams has strengthened ever since their team's Scout went to that other place.

Chapter Text

Twilight heads over to the unicorn named Miss Pauling so she can give her the good news. "I've rented a room you can stay in as long you are here in Canterlot, we can talk about a room in Ponyville when you arrive there." Miss Pauling nods, saying politely. "Thank you— are you sure you can keep these men in check?" She asks unsure, eyeing the group of the other turned humans currently speaking with her friends. Twilight frowns lightly of Miss Pauling's worry, sure some of them can be quite destructive, but they mean really no harm and aren't the only ponies causing collaborate damage. "We will be fine. They aren't so bad when getting to know them." Twilight smiles, and that is true, well except Spy, his action has made her hesitant about where he stands now.

Miss Pauling raises a brow of what she sees as naivety from this purple colored pony, this Twilight Sparkle clearly has no idea what the mercenaries can do. It's a wonder they have been smart enough to keep the cover about their jobs. "Alright, but if there is any trouble. Call me."

"Of course." Twilight nods, although doubts there will be any reason for that. With this done, Twilight, her friends, and the turned humans return back to Ponyville and because she knows the new arrived will stay here for a while. "We better find you two a place to live while you are here." She tells the huge pony and half changeling, turning to her friends. "Anyone of you can help them out?"
It takes some discussing back and forward, but after about a half hour, they all have come to the agreement that Scout will live with Fluttershy and Heavy will stay in one of the rooms in the Golden Oak Library, probably one of the few places there is big enough for this large pony. With that done, Twilight thinks perhaps it is best letting the other of the turned humans know that two more has arrived.

The others took the news rather calmly, only a bit awkwardness between did happen between Heavy and Medic. The mares did wonder why, but they would- especially Twilight be happy if they don't start fighting.

In truth, Heavy and Medic both are unsure how to be around one another now that they know the truth what their 'clone' really is to them. Unlike the others from RED and BLU, Heavy and Medic— all four of them— they have never been truly hostile to one another. The RED Heavy has a few times let BLU Medic get away and so has the BLU Heavy done with the RED Medic. In return, both medics have never insulted the opposite Heavy although it mostly has been because the healer had no wish in accidentally insulting the man he deeply cares about.
So now the question for Medic: is this Heavy before him a friend or not? After all, RED Heavy is the other half of his Heavy's soul. "This is quite the dilemma." He chuckles weakly up to the huge merlot colored horse before him there simply nods in his quiet agreement. And knowing that Heavy is a very smart guy behind that broken English, Medic asks him for his opinion on this bit weird situation. "What are your thoughts about this? Should we simply ignore the other like we do on the battlefield?"

They could do that, but Heavy is very certain he will miss chatting with the doctor in a matter of weeks. So maybe if the doctor is up to it. "We see no color between us, only Heavy and Doctor." He replies Medic and turns his gaze up to the sky where a few pegasi are flying around. "Until we return human, then color again."

Medic thinks he can live with that, for he has quite missed speaking with this likable brute. "Until we return." He agrees with Heavy and with that set, Medic is way more comfortable speaking with this Heavy. "Have you gotten used to walking on four legs?"

"Not yet, still stumbles." Heavy replies and voices his annoyance that because of his uncertainty on his hooves, he hadn't been able to defeat the turned evil Spy. "If been human, I would squash him."

"I'm sure you would, or kicked him through the wall." Medic giggles at that mental thought.

Heavy smirks in return. "Maybe, what about you doctor? How was first day?"

"Well, after have gotten the biggest headache ever when I tried to figure out Frauline Pinkie Pie, I almost got eaten by a hydra— quite the interesting day actually." Medic summons up, turning his gaze to Heavy, his smirk widen of seeing Heavy raises a brow of this short explanation. Knowing Heavy, Medic is sure he will have a lot of fun hearing about this, so Medic starts telling him that story in better details.

Heavy quickly comes to the conclusion that this place is very much like Pyro's hallucination world: colorful and friendly looking but if looking a bit deeper it is really deadly. Well, not entirely as deadly as Pyro, and the BLU Medic is way more cheerful, almost childish excited when explaining about the magic of this world. Something Heavy hasn't seen from the RED Medic in a long time so Heavy figures this world can't be all that bad.

(A couple of days later.)

At the Ponyville hospital, the mares and most of the stallion from the other world have gathered of the news that the Cakes has gotten a baby. The mares are all excited along with Demo, Scout, and Soldier—the latter being oblivious of what the fuss is all about.
Sniper, Engineer, and Heavy are taking this way calmer, quietly talking between one another if they should congratulate the two ponies who have welcomed them with open arms, even let one of them stay at their place.

"Can you believe the new baby is finally here?" Applejack asks her fellow bearer, Demo grins, both turning to Twilight and quietly agreeing with her words. "Cup Cake and Carrot Cake must be so proud!"

"Do little ponies know it is boy or girl?" Heavy asks from his spot, Rarity turns around to this huge but friendly stallion. "No, but we soon find out." She answers him joyfully, Heavy nods in agreement that they sure will.

Pinkie beats them all in her excitement, though. "I wanna see the new baby pony! I wanna see! Which one is it?!" She demands, pushing her head closer to the glass showing the nursery.

Sniper rolls his eyes, not really at Pinkie; her weirdness is more or less universal acceptance among everyone in town, no, he is rolling his eyes of one of the newest arrivals. And how he is zipping around on his own and probably the mares excitement too. It's getting quite annoying. "Can someone put a lit on Scout?" He asks the others in the room. Soldier does that by tackling the excited boy and forces him to the floor, snapping Scout out from his in this world's vision of a sugar-rush.
"Heh, sorry..." Scout apologizes embarrassedly. Sniper waves calmly at him he shouldn't worry about it. After all, Scout still hasn't learned how to control that emotion detector ability of his.

A very stressed out but very, very happy Carrot Cake walks into the room with Medic close behind. Carrot Cake introduces his and Cup Cakes new children. "Meet our son, Pound Cake" He reveals his cream colored with a touch of a brown mane son, who reveals to be a pegasus. "and our daughter, Pumpkin Cake." Showing his pale yellow with bright orange hair unicorn right beside Pond Cake. The mares and Demo daaws at the sight, but are also quite surprised about two things. One of them that the Cakes got twins and the second is that none of them are earth ponies.

The former has Pinkie's interest way more. "Two new foals for me to play with?" She gasps comically loud to then get perhaps a bit too excited. "That's two, two, two times the fun! This is the greatest day ever!"

Scout somehow manages to get free from Soldier, appearing right beside Pinkie with what he thinks is a very important question. "Hey, how come they are not earth ponies? Is there something I'm missing here?" He asks no one particular in the room.

"Oh it's quite easy," Medic says with a surprisingly normal smile on his face and Carrot Cake explains. "My great-great-great-great grandfather was a unicorn, and Cup Cake's great aunt's second cousin twice removed was a Pegasus. That makes sense, right?" The new father asks nervously, unaware that a certain changeling half-breed is thinking of an infertility joke and perhaps it was best Pinkie stopped him firing that one off.

"We need to celebrate your birthday, babies." Pinkie appears with party hat inside the nursey— a few of the mercenaries stare a bit dumbfounded how she managed to get inside without them noticing. She looks very ready to start a whole party and for those who have been here for a while somehow expects her to pull out that party cannon of hers. "Because you were just born today!" She cheers but before she can do anything, Medic shuts her mouth with his magic and throw her out with a firm; "No parties inside the hospital!" The mercenaries chuckle that Medic looks to have claimed this building as his new domain and are certain the doctor on purpose made Pinkie's head hit the floor first. They do sort of understand why he threw Pinkie out, though. She can be a bit overbearing at times, especially when she gets excited. Said pink pony sends Medic a disappointed stare but has long learned not to mess with this doctor- her knee will just start ache if she does.

Returning back to the nursery, Medic declares to the tired but happy father. "Your children and wife are well and healthy, you can go home any time you want."
Carrot Cake nods and thanks to this new doctor for the assistance.

About a small hour later, the Cakes has taken their new babies home, letting Medic returns to his way more interesting duties in healing clumsy ponies. He isn't sure why he let himself get persuaded to aid the Cakes with the babies, he doesn't really like kids, but Twilight somehow persuaded him. Medic stops for a moment, realizing that he really cares for the purple unicorn. That catches him a bit off guard, he never tried getting friends this fast with someone younger than him. But Twilight is a nice mare, and she does understand his curious nature for new knowledge. She did help him get this job- when he solemnly promised not to let his more twisted side get out of hand.
So far he has only scared a few ponies, but knowing this very resilient race: he knows they will be just fine.
Speaking of recovery. "Twilight, how is your leg doing?" He stops the purple unicorn before she leaves the hospital.

Twilight giggles, it's kinda cute how this stern and seemly narcissistic stallion actually do care for others when giving the chance. "Fully healed," and has to asks with her own curiosity of new knowledge. "don't humans heal like this?"
Medic shakes his head. "Nein, such wounds would've taken weeks, perhaps months to heal without advanced medical help."

"Sounds like humans have to be careful what they are doing."

That Medic can agree on, compared to ponies, humans are quite fragile, but- "Never stopped the team from being a bunch of dummkopfs." He grumbles and does not pity the former medics in healing the others without the medicgun and respawn.

Twilight laughs lightly on this, she nudges this crazy but still likable doctor pony. "Good thing those dummkopfs have such a skilled healer then." Then remembers something she wanted to ask him about. "Hey Medic, you coming for Nightmare Night?"

Levitating some of his equipment back to their rightful spot. "I'm too old for such silly things." Although he does still enjoy dressing himself up now and then- he blames that one the team's weird obsession with cosmetics.

"Medic, you're not too old for Nightmare Night." Twilight argues in a laugh of what she thinks him being silly. "Ponies older than you such as Applejack's granny is still enjoying the night."
Medic eyes her thoughtful, turning away, musing ."Hm… I admit I do enjoy dressing up for the celebration, but... I'm used to fighting giant eye-balls, not enjoying a night of… well, harmless fun." Twilight do hope he will try this festival out, thinking he might have fun scaring a few ponies with his rather twisted sense of humor. "You are welcome to join us if you ever feel like it." And with that leaves the room.

Medic watches her leave, pondering if he should for once try out and enjoy this place form of Halloween. He might not be allowed to use a rotten thief's brain to make a talking pumpkin decoration, but he's sure he can figure something out with this world's wonderful magic.

(A week later, the human world.)

Halloween is upon them once again, but this time; they did not have to fight Soldier's crazy wizard roommate. When Merrasmus arrived at Soldier's request, the remaining mercenaries are more than hopeful that Merrasasmus perhaps can help them get their other half of their souls and Miss Pauling back to where Ignis have sent them.
But before they could discuss how that wizard would do it, well it turns out Ignis and Merrasmus know one another.

"Hey Merra, long time no see!" Ignis waves to the wizard there is quite surprised seeing the alicorn here— although Merrasmus believes him to be a wizard like him.

"Long time indeed my flaming friend." The wizard shakes hand with this not yet as old as him fellow wizard. "What have you been doing this past hundred years?"

"Been taking over by dark magic and turned into an arrogant moron." Ignis replies as if they spoke about some match Merrasmus happens to have missed. "You?"

Marasmus sights deeply. "I wish you still were my roommate... for Soldier!" Pointing at the RED Soldier, currently picking his nose. "Is the worst I could ever get!"

Ignis cannot help but laugh hearing that. "What? Oh come on, how can he be worse than me? I blew up your former castle!"

"When you tried to make me breakfast." Marasmus points out and has long forgiven this fire wizard for that. Ignis did mean well. Unlike Soldier who keeps finding new ways to piss him off. "Soldier turned my new castle into a raccoon sanctuary, he burned my body AND thought I was alright with it!"

Okay, he can see Merra's reason for anger now. "So... do you want me to blow him up?"

The older wizard calms down right away, replying awfully casual. "Yes please." Adding, "but don't kill him. He may be the worst roommate, but... I must admit that like you; Soldier does have the heart the right place. His logic is terrible, though."

Ignis chuckles weakly, thinking that it is perhaps that his logic is more or less okay. "This might cheer you up." With the flick of his lighter, the alicorn summons fire formed as a dragon. This dragon-shaped fire charges at the mercenaries, causing them to panic before every one of them gets thrown left and right from the mostly harmless explosive.
That did make Merrasmus day and the wizard breaks down in laughter.

Recovering from the payback on what grief Soldier has caused that crazy one, Demoman demands these two magic users. "Are you two done blowing us up so we might discuss how we can get our other souls back?!"

Marasmus blinks hearing this. "Wait what?" The mercenaries souls are split? He turns to Ignis and the fire user nods in confirmation and reveals awfully casually. "I send their other half of their souls to Equestria, the dimension travel does seem to give them some strange after effects."
Ah, Merrasmus has been there once. Not the worst dimension someone could end up, Merrasmus admits that. It was how he and Ignis became friends. If he remembers correctly, it was about one thousand years ago he first met Ignis and this powerful magician send him to Equestria- by accident of course and in the six years he was stuck there, he was taught how to do teleportation, along with some other magic spells by the two royal sisters teacher. It was also thanks to this unicorn he no longer can remember the name of that he got a way back home again. It took them six years of research and get the right world but like an alicorn; time has very little meaning for wizards like Marasmus, so the many years there didn't really matter much to him. After he got back to the human world again and tracked down the one who teleported him. He and Ignis fought a bit, then agreed they should be roommates as both were wizards and they have been good friends ever since.
"Accident?" He asks Ignis, his transportation to that world was an accident. Ignis might be more powerful than he ever be, but Ignis is very bad when it comes to passive magic.

"Not all of them." Ignis replies, after some thoughts on his fuzzy memories when he still was tainted by that dark magic. "Spy, Soldier and Demo was an accident. I wasn't aware of who I was there- dark magic and all, you know how it is." Marasmus nods he does, although this one has never tried been tainted by it. Lucky bastard. "The others were on purpose."

So now the question of why, could it be Ignis uncanny ability to see the future? Marasmus learns closer to the redhead, knowing how sensitive Ignis is about that ability of his. "Did you get a vision you should do it?"

Ignis frowns. "No, I did it because I sensed the Pillars of Virtue inside of them."

Marasmus jerks away, stares at the other with wide eyes of disbelief. "You're joking."

"Not one bit."

Okay, that both makes sense and none at all. It makes sense why Ignis send them there, these Pillars of Virtue were what Ignis was sent after and Merrasmus has heard how incredibly important they are to pony kind. He never saw any of the bearers in his time there, but he did see what the remaining gems holding that ancient magic was capable off when he, along with Celestia and Luna used them to trap that chaos spirit and returned Equestria back to its former self again, well sort of. The land never fully recovered from that chaos spirit influence. Marasmus sighs, it seems that there is more to the mercenaries than just being the people he fights against when Soldier pisses him too much off. For even though he has used that ancient and powerful magic, Merasmus knows that he- and the royal sisters are not chosen as a bearer. No idea what makes someone into a bearer. He only knows that alicorns and those born with magic like himself can wield the Pillars of Virtue for a short among of time if a bearer hasn't yet been found. Turning to the awkwardly awaiting mercenaries. "I can bring your other half back, but such spells takes time!" The last he declares with his vision of the royal voice. Pointing at the mercenaries in his act to be more menacing than he actually is. "and if you wish to keep the time at minimum then you will leave me be and bring me everything I ask of you!"

"Whatever wizard says." Heavy simply replies, he's busier watching Ignis making a face in his attempt at not laughing at Merrasmus's yelling, apparently the immortal find the wizard behavior very amusing.

"How long will it take you?" Sniper asks, brushing off sod from the harmless explosion Ignis had thrown at them.

"With Ignis help the spell will be ready in four months."

That is very good news for the mercenaries, now they have a way getting their souls back to their world again.

"Can you put our souls back together too?" Engineer asks, blinking when the bomb in its mouth book laughs and says while floating around the two magic users. "Ha ha ha! Are you kidding? Merasmus is so bad he cannot even figure how to split a soul in the first place!"

"Quiet you!" Merasmus snaps at the Bombmionicon, whacking out after it but misses.

The book floats over to Ignis, very glad to see this guy again. "Hey flame head! You want some bombs?" and is about to turn Ignis head into a bomb, but before it can, this younger but way more powerful wizard flicks it away with a levitation spell. The book smacks hard into the nearby wall, and will not get up for the time being.

"Good grief, why do you still have that nuisance?" Ignis asks after have gotten that nut-job book out from his sight. Explosive magic, sentience, and dark magic is a baaad mix. Well, at least that book is more of a nuisance than a danger.

"I need Bombionicon's spells from time to time." Marasmus mumbles embarrassed that he cannot do that many spells without the magic book, but must admit he has from time to time considering throwing that silly book out. Anyway, back to the task. "I will reclaim one of your bases while I work on your summoning spell!" and after he has grabbed the unconscious Bombionicon, he uses one of the few spells he can do without help and teleports over to the BLU base since that place has the least damage. A quick spell and the sign that he now lives here appears outside the building.

Those from BLU stares at the sign, slowly turning to the RED team as they now no longer have a base to return back to.
So like those trapped in Ignis world: "Ceasefire?" Demo asks and to severals surprise, RED Soldier replies with a nod. "Agree."
After a long awkward moment, the former enemies slowly head to RED base with the BLUs reclaiming their counterparts rooms.
They did have to endure listing to the Administrator yelling at them for making a ceasefire without her permission, but fortunately, she did not punish them further as they did try and get those transported back.

(meanwhile in Equestria)

After having endured an overbearing flirting there makes her wish Scout was around instead of this overblown ego of Prince Blueblood, Miss Pauling finally managed to get an audience from the princess requesting her and the mercenaries wish in coming home.
Celestia sends her far out family nephew away and with him out, she has both good and bad news about this other world unicorn. "I have found a possible way for you to go back home." All thanks to Star Swirl's book and the faint memory of that very old project of his. She had almost forgotten that these ponies haven't been the first transported here and Celestia feels a bit bad she forgot about that darkly coated stallion, one she unfortunately no longer can remember the name of. "However as it stands now, the portal to your homeworld will not open before summer."

"Isn't there another way, your highness?" Miss Pauling asks hopefully as she has no wish in staying in this place or form for that long. She really needs to get back to the Administrator and get the mercenaries back at fighting the war.

Celestia watches this Miss Pauling, she does seems like a nice mare but something about her feels a bit, well off. But a promise is a promise and it is not fair from her to force these other world ponies to stay just because they are linked to the Elements of Harmony. "I am sorry but I do not dare perform a transportation spell as it very likely can send you to a completely another world. The mirror I and my sister's teacher created is the safest way for you returning back home as it turns out you were not the first there came here." Adding as that pathway only opens every ten years. "You are lucky coming at this time; you see, the portal only opens once per decade." Turning back to her throne and loads of paperwork the Changeling invasion caused. Fortunately, her subjects have recovered and now using that scary episode as a good inspiration for stories and costumes for Nightmare Night. "I will letter you when the time approaches, but until then; try to get the best out from your time here; perhaps get some enjoyment out from Nightmare Night?" She suggests this bit uptight unicorn with a smile.

Miss Pauling reluctantly has to agree on this, she bows and leaves the ruler, hiding the disbelief that this ruler is so interested in this world's form of Halloween. She figures to inform this to the Mercenaries that they now have a way back. Outside she once again encounters that egotistical unicorn who understand a hint just as bad as Scout that she is not interested. But at least Scout tried to treat her with respect.

"I know the perfect place for a good groom, I am sure they can find something there makes you look less like a peasant." Blueblood suggests and steps over so his shoulders touches this lovely but could be so much better if groomed unicorn. "What do you say we go there?" but he does not expect an answer and guides his new mare towards the place. Looking down, he winches his nose in annoyance he can't see her eyes properly with those horrific glasses. He levitates them off and smiles that he now can see her grassy green eyes. "There, you shouldn't go with those horrid things."

Miss Pauling promises herself to never complain that Scout is annoying with his bad flirting, for this stallion is the worst! "I have glasses for a reason." She grumbles and stumbles when she can barely see without them, it does enable her to get away from his forced escort. She walks over to where her glasses are but cannot pick them up without hands, much to her great annoyance. Someone is at least nice enough to help her and return the glasses back so she can see again. It takes Miss Pauling a moment to realize that the one there helped her is the second princess. Miss Pauling does not know the name of this one, only that she is the younger sister to Celestia and the princess of the night. She gives this princess a thankful nod. "Thanks."
The princess watches her for a moment, then turns her cyan colored eyes towards Miss Pauling nuisance there has the tenacity to put a hoof on her shoulder, proclaiming. "Ah, allow me to introduce my Auntie Luna."
Miss Pauling tries to make this egotistical unicorn hoof off her, but he doesn't seem to notice as he continues oblivious to the now frowning princess of the night. "We were just heading to the spa, care to join us?"
"We have to decline!" Luna replies in a voice equal to Soldier's loud voice. "We are planning on going to Ponyville see what dreadful celebration the citizens are doing!" Blueblood looks horrified and also as if he pities her. "I'll be sure to have a groomer ready when you return." He declares and tries to leave, but Miss Pauling hasn't become Helen's assistance if she hasn't learned to spot a good opportunity, so getting his hoof off her, she asks Luna. "Mind if I join you?" Both royals blink, but unlike that egotistical unicorn who looks ready to faint, Luna is quite happy about her request.

"That is wonderful, thou may accompany us to Ponyville!" Luna declares and leaves, this other world pony follows to her caret which is drawn by Luna's own royal guards there all have been conjured to look like they have bat wings instead of bird. Putting on her traveling cloak, Luna tells her two guards joyfully. "Let us go and make our grand appearance for the Citizens of Ponyville!" Her two guards smirk and take to the sky. The pony from another world lets out a small yelp as these two of Luna's guard likes to go fast and that is just as Luna wants it.

Meanwhile, in Ponyville, the festivities of Nightmare Night is in full swing. Everyone is dressed up and having fun each of their ways, yes even the mercenaries are dressed up as they all have sort of made it a tradition of dressing up around this time of year.
"I do wonder if we're going to fight some mother hubber of a monster again." Engineer wonders out loud to Demo, like everyone else, dressed up for the holiday. Engineer is dressed up as a sheriff, replaced his hardhat with a brown cowboy hat having a sheriff star on along with a same colored jacket and boots with spurs.
Demoman has decided to dress himself up as a vampire with the long neck collar along with a blood-colored cape and fangs. "You'll never know with this place." Demo remarks and Engineer cannot help but agree with a chuckle. "Darn right, it's a wonder these ponies haven't broken down mentally with all this weirdness going on around them all the time."
Demoman laughs at Engineer's reply and both head over to Applejack who has sat up several games such as bobbing apples in the water there is dyed green. The lunch bags on head and hooves dressed Derpy and the Flash dressed Scout sure are having fun with it. Going over there, they encounter Twilight and Spike.

"Heyo lassie and lad." Demo greets them, chuckling at Spike's choice of dressing himself up as a dragon. "Nice costume Spike."

"Thanks! I am a dragon." Spike beams.

"Like you are all the year around." Demo laughs and turns to Twilight, she is dressed in a blue cape and long hat, both having chains of bells at the edges, under her jaw is a fake long beard attached. She stands proudly, waiting for him and Engineer to recognize what she is dressed up as, but honestly; they have no idea. So Demo simply guesses. "And you are dressed up as an old timer performer?" Twilight grunts annoyed by this, it seems he was way off. She gets the more annoyed with the scarecrow dressed Applejack walks over and makes her guess what the purple unicorn is dressed as." With that beard, I reckon you're some sorta country music singer."
Spike starts laughing that no one gets what she is dressed up as.

"While ya all are here, you feel like bobbing for an apple?" Applejack asks, pointing at the spot just as Derpy decides to dive headfirst into the barrel and thanks to her bad eyesight grabs on the plug instead of an apple and drains the water out from it. Scout shoots the cross-eyed mare an annoyed frown as he had almost gotten one of those apples, Derpy simply gives him a sweet embarrassed smile.
Applejack is about to fix this small issue but is interrupted when the crowd cheer makes her, Twilight, Spike, Demo, and Engineer turn towards the scene not far from them. Mayor Mare, dressed up as a clown with a huge rainbow afro starts her speech to the crowd mostly made out of foals. "Thank you, everypony, and welcome to the Nightmare Night festival!" The small group heads over there, here they meet Medic and Heavy. Medic looks much like himself except he is dressed as a scientist a bit more exaggerated than usual, Heavy has drawn lines around his joints to look like they have been put sewn on and has two neck bolts on his neck— ah Twilight get it now. They are dressed to be Frizenstain and his monster, clever.
The two gives the four a nod and much to Twilight's joy, Medic says of her choice of custome. "Star-Swirl the Bearded correct?"

"Finally! Somepony gets my costume!" Twilight exclaims with a clear hint of joy, more so when Medic smirks and tells her in a matter of fact. "Well you were the one asking me to read the book about Obscure Unicorn History— quite the interest read I must say."

"Really?" Twilight beams that somepony find that book just as fascinating as her. "What did you think about—"

"Do not talk in show." Heavy interrupts them in a low rumble, the two unicorns chuckle sheepishly and returns back to the scene where Zecora, now truly living up to being a witch doctor with her costume of choice. Her mohawk hair has been combed, allowing her to wear the long white filled with spiders wig. She wears a torn dark blue dress with a belt and spider brochure in same gold color as her neck- and earrings.
She appears in a cloud of green smoke, with it barely faded, she speaks to the crowd of foals. "Follow me, and very soon, you'll hear the tale of Nightmare Moon." And starts leaving the scene, the foals follow the zebra into the edge of Everfree forest. One of the foals spots a pair of pale blue eyes in the forest and scared runs over to Zecora, she turns her eyes to the spot and realizes that the foal has spotted their Changeling residence. She does wish he would join but has to respect that he's not up to celebrate the festivities. Turning her attention back to her role as the storyteller, Zecora leads the foals to the statue of Nightmare Moon; the sole reason for this holiday. "Listen close, my little dears, I'll tell you where you got your fears of Nightmare Night, so dark and scary." She pulls out more of her green magical powder, blows it and it forms Nightmare Moon. "Of Nightmare Moon, who makes you wary." As she designed this part of the magical powder, the conjured Nightmare Moon crashes into the crowd of both foals and those adults deciding to tag along. The moment the conjured Nightmare Moon hits the ground, the dust spread out as a dense cloud. Allowing Zecora to continue on freaking these small foals out. "Every year, we put on a disguise, to save ourselves from her searching eyes." She explains the foals, scaring two of them by pretending to be a monster hiding in the cloud, only revealing herself when those two flee with a scream. Enjoying freaking out ponies just as much as her special stallion, Zecora turns with a delish smirk over to the youngest of the foals there is running over to the stature. "But Nightmare Moon wants just one thing: to gobble up ponies in one quick swing!" He backs away from the stature and into Pinkie Pie who really lives up to her costume being a chicken for the moment those two make contact, she lets out a terrified cry which scares the young colt further. Both flee each direction. Smirking at that scene and her performance is doing its work of scaring the audience, Zecora throws up more of the magical dust. "Hungrily, she soars the sky." The conjured Nightmare Moon appears before three trembling in fear foals, searching but is made to not see them and disappears again. "If she sees nopony, she passes by." Zecora throws another of this searching Nightmare Moon over to the other group of foals, explaining all. "So if she comes and all is clear, Equestria is safe another year!" Throwing up another magical powder, the conjured Nightmare Moon appears above them, making a silent roar before dissolving into a rain of green sparkles. Zecora watches it fall with a proud smile she made this magical conjuring powder work as well as she did, she does, however, snap her attention back down when the youngest of the foals— this young colt dressed up as a pirate pulls her cape, asking nervously- "Uh, Miss Zecora, if we wear costumes to hide from Nightmare Moon, so she won't gobble us up, how come we still need to give her some of our candy?"
Zecora beams of that question, for that, is the quote of the next act of this show. "A perfect question, my little friend. For Nightmare Moon you must not offend." She blows out more of her conjuring dust, forming once again Nightmare Moon there stalks the crowd as she explains. "Fill up her belly with a treat or two, so she won't return to come eat you!" The illusion jumps at the crowd, Pinkie screams; scares the foals even more and makes them probably think how important it is giving the stature candy by urging them in her state of panic. "Everypony! Just dump some candy and get out of here!"
Before they can leave though, the wind suddenly starts blowing. Looking up they see the clouds are forming a tunnel leading to the full moon itself.
A flash of light and a caret drawn by two bat-winged and dark purple dressed royal ponies charges down towards the town.

"It's Nightmare Moon!" Pinkie cries, "Run!" and flees along with all of the foals and Spike.

The mercenaries stand their ground, looking ready to attack if this new arrived proves to be a threat, giving both Twilight and Zecora a sense of protection and it helps them to keep their own nerves of fear down to a reasonable level. The two bat guard ponies bring the caret into the middle of Ponyville.

"We better check if that newly arrived is harmless or not." Engineer suggests. The others nod and the group head back to the town.

(Ponyville)

Luna's two guards stop the caret right above the town, and here she grabs the pony from the another world, jumps out from their transport and lands among the bowing citizens of Ponyville. She dismisses her traveling cloak in a cloud of her favorite animal: the bat and walks over to one of her bowing subjects, giving a pony before he hoves a smile before declaring with her royal voice. "Citizens of Ponyville! We have graced your tiny village with our presence, so that you might behold the real Princess of the Night!"

Well, this princess of the night sure knows how to make an entrance and scare everyone out of their mind. Miss Pauling cannot help but think while trying her best be polite and listen to what this princess telling her subjects of her arrival even though the loud voice is killing her ears. "A creature of nightmares no longer, but instead a pony who desires your love and admiration!" The princess did not see it but Miss Pauling sure noticed how the cowering ponies crawl away from their princess. "Together we shall change this dreadful celebration into a bright and glorious feast!" The princess declares, steering up and with the biggest coincidence; a lightning bolt strikes over the sky, right behind the ruler of the night, scaring the already terrified ponies further.

"I wasn't aware there was a second princess." Demo muses to Twilight, but before she can explain him about this loud but clearly friendly alicorn, Pinkie cries out: "Did you hear that, everypony? Nightmare Moon says she's gonna feast on us all!" And all the kids flee from the scene along with Pinkie.

Demo face-palm of that scene Pinkie made. "Good god Pinkie..." She's a wonderful ponies, but sometimes he wishes she just could read the situation better.

Hearing and seeing the fear in the kids snaps Princess Luna out from her royal voice for a moment, it horrifies and irritates her seeing her subject fears her as she had dreaded. "No, children, no! You no longer have reason to fear us! Screams of delight are what your princess desires, not screams of terror!" She stomps her hoof hard onto the ground, hard enough to crack it a bit. She did not see how it only frighten the residence of Ponyville further. Annoyed by this, Luna turns to the Major of this town, thinking that one will at least gives her the respect and admirations she deserves. "Madame Mayor, thy Princess of the Night has arrived!" Pulling out her hoof to the Major, expecting her to kiss it as the ponies always did back before her banishment but all that this elderly pony did is cowering and refusing to even look at her. Confused and the more frustrated of not getting anywhere, Luna tries to do the same to the Major's assistance but gets the same response. "What is the matter with you?" She asks, trying on other of the citizens, all do the same exact fearful response. Annoyed and hurt of this denial, Luna snort huffy. "Very well, then. Be that way!" It might be childish but this is just too frustrating. "We won't even bother with the traditional royal farewell." And leaves the town, clearly she is not welcomed here.

Twilight really feels sorry for Luna being treated this way, but it is sort of understandable that the others— minus the other world humans— are afraid of the princess of the night. So Twilight decides; "I'm gonna go talk to her." But before she can even take one step, a very fearful Spike stops her by grabbing her cape. "You can't talk to her! She's Nightmare Moon!" Twilight reclaims that part of her cape back, lecturing the baby dragon. "No, she's not. I saw the Elements of Harmony change her back to good." Turning her gaze to where the alicorn went. "But it seems like she's having some trouble adjusting after being gone for a thousand years."

"Reminds me of Ignis" Heavy muses, thinking how Ignis was when he saw a microwave for the first time and how he had no clue how a television works. Last time he saw that one; Ignis still thought that those people inside the television were real people shrunk down in size. Perhaps this knowledge might help this nightly colored alicorn. "I go with you." Glancing down when Medic steps over, sign he too is going with them. Twilight nods and turns to Engineer when he suggests; "While you do that, I think we should set these other ponies straight."

"With all of this over, I would like to hear the story about that alicorn once being evil." Medic says thoughtfully.

Twilight promises she will and thanks them for helping Luna out in not being feared anymore. With Heavy and Medic close behind, Twilight heads out to find the princess, the three find her lying before the stature of Nightmare Moon. "Princess Luna?" Twilight calls, getting the gloomy alicorn's attention- "Hi, my name is –"

"Star Swirl the Bearded." Luna interrupts her and must admit: "Commendable costume! Thou even got the bells right."

And hearing this from a princess is such a joy for Twilight. "Thank you! I worked very hard on it." Then notices the deep and sad frown on the princess's face, reminding her why she is here "Uh, sorry…" clearing her throat, "we actually came to welcome you to our celebration! My actual name is –"

Again Luna interrupts her. "Twilight Sparkle." She takes to the sky, using her royal voice while making her magic steam up the weather so the wind would bring her voice further. "It was thou who unleashed the powers of harmony upon us and took away our dark powers!"

Twilight and Medic get pushed back by the strong wind conjured by the princess, fortunately it did not really seem to bother Heavy much, so Medic didn't hesitate to use him as a sort of cover, Twilight did as well, although not as quickly as the light grey stallion did as if it was the second instinct for him. With the wind gone, Twilight asks the princess with a weak smile. "And that was a good thing, right?"

"But of course." Luna lands again onto the ground, she is very thankful Twilight and the five others cleansed the dark magic that had consumed her, returning her back to her normal self. "We could not be happier. Is that not clear?" She asks loudly making the unicorn winches away from her.

Heavy can see why the other ponies cowered in fear for this alicorn, her yelling reminds him of Soldier and that guy can be very scary for common people. Not that yelling ever has bothered him other than making his ears hurt. "Princess' voice is very loud." He tells this darkly coated alicorn. She turns to him, seemly a bit taken off guard by his words. And explains them almost confused. "But this is the traditional royal Canterlot voice!" Turning away and lifting her hoof as if she is currently standing before a big crowd, probably something she did in the past. "It is tradition to speak using the royal "we", and to use—" her voice gets really loud again which did not help that the wind seems to aid her to carry it further "–this much volume when addressing our subjects!"

Heavy winches slightly by this strong wind of a voice while Medic has to correct his hair and glasses, musing only to Heavy's ears. "Never thought I would meet someone louder than Soldier." Heavy quirks a smile from that remark.

Like Medic, Twilight has to correct her blown askew costume from the wind made by Luna, with her costume back to normal, Twilight is getting the idea why the residents of Ponyville trembled in fear before the princess; that voice is a bit scary. "You know, that might explain why your appearance was met with... mixed results." She says with a weak smile.

"That's an understatement, the ponies were ready to bolt if they weren't frozen in fear." Medic remarks, which earns him a small glare from Twilight. Heavy simply eyes him and although he agrees with the doctor. He knows Twilight is only trying to soften the blow and he can fully agree that this out of time princess does not need tough love at the moment. "Small ponies do not like loud voice. Maybe if princess lower voice they will like you." He suggests, wincing slightly when the princess asks with her loud voice. "Lower my voice?!"

Heavy nods but he do not know how else to say this. "I do not know word." He admits and looks down to Medic for help, the doctor has gotten quite good at helping him with his lack of English words.

"Tune down the volume?" Medic suggests and that seems to what Heavy has been searching for, he nods and says to the frowning princess. "Yes, tune down the volume, do not speak in loud voice."

Luna understands now what these three are getting at, "ohh," but she is unsure if she can do that. "We have been locked away for a thousand years. We are... not sure we can." She admits.

Way longer than Ignis, Heavy can see why she struggles. "Do not worry princess, you not first out of time."

What does this big pony mean about that statement? "We are not the first?" She asks confused, still in her royal voice. The big stallion shakes his head. "No, but he only trapped a hundred years." He explains and all Luna can say is; "oh," not sure how to react on this really. She hasn't been aware there are others dealing with her out of time problem and is somewhat in her situation. "And how did he take it?!" She asks, again in her royal voice.

"Much like dark pony." Heavy tells her.

Correcting his glasses, Medic steps forward with a funny sense of deja vu like when he first got properly acquainted with Heavy "Fortunately, your problem is easily fixed. Let us start with tuning down the voice."

Luna tries to lower her voice. "How is this?" It is lower but still very much to the royal voice volume.

"A little quieter, princess." Twilight says, smiling of them getting somewhere with Luna here.

So Luna tries again. "How is... this?" The last part sounds way more normal, although still sounding a bit like yelling.

"Better," Heavy nods and dare to suggest her. "Try little lower."

"How... about... now?" Luna asks.

Still loud but way better, Twilight thinks. "Now you're getting it."

Tuning down her voice, Luna asks the three a bit nervously "And... how about now?" No longer yelling, in fact, her voice sounds very normal.

"Well, that went faster than this big brute's problem." Medic remarks, smirking up to Heavy there laughs and retorts still chuckling. "Doctor should see Ignis, he has trouble with how new objects work, sometimes set things on fire." And Medic is certain his other has so much fun with that one… "Good thing it is my other who is dealing with that third Pyro, then again; I am dealing with Fauline Pinkie Pie." Heavy chuckles of that last statement.

Well, she can relate to that other pony. "We too had a bit of trouble figuring out what our new equipment was for-" Luna admits and is still embarrassed she could not figure out half the kitchen stuff, which did NOT help on her cooking skills. "We still have..."

"You will get used to it, give it time." Twilight ensures her and about to suggest going out and visit some of her friends but before she can the princess levitates her over and hugs her a tad too strongly- not to mention that royal voice is back. "We thank thee, dear Twilight Sparkle! Our normal speaking voice shall surely win us the hearts of thy fellow villagers!" And only when the princess lets her go, Twilight has the air to say weakly up to her. "You welcome..."

Heavy and Medic are spared for the crushing hug as Heavy is bigger than Luna and Medic is smart enough to stay out of range but she does give them her thanks in which they nod politely back as their response.

Recovering from the hug, Twilight returns back to the suggestion. "Let's meet up with the others, let's go princess." and Luna follows the three back into Ponyville again.

 

Chapter Text

At the edge of town, Twilight hears Sniper's voice. "I don't see what all the ruckus is about." Looking up, she spots him on top of the nearby roof, unlike the others he isn't dressed up for the festivities. The griffin has dropped the bit torn shirt and sunglasses for tonight, his hat is still on, though, as well as the silver bow. Said griffin eyes Luna with his sharp eyes, seemly pondering about something. "I take you're the princess everyone is thinking as this Nightmare Moon."

"Correct, we regret to inform thy but we were once consumed by the darkness and transformed into Nightmare Moon." Luna explains this griffin, recognizing him as the one her sister hired to aid them against the invasion. "But thanks to Twilight Sparkle, we are again back to our former self."

"Good to hear." Sniper simply says and thinks it is fair to warn this out of time princess. "The others have done their best putting the town's people in the right set of mind. But they are still quite jumpy." Glancing over to where he last saw that hoard of scared children. "and Pinkie is not helping."

"Thanks for the warning Sniper." Twilight thanks him and before she takes Luna into the—what Sniper called it, the jumpy town, she asks him for a bit more help. "Any chance you could set Pinkie straight that Princess Luna means nopony any harm?"

"Engie, and Rarity already on it." Sniper replies simply.

That's good to hear, Engineer is very good at calming people and she is sure Rarity can set Pinkie straight that wilding up the kid with fear is not okay at the moment. Twilight smiles happy for the news and turns to the slightly frowning princess. "Come, princess, let me introduce you to my friend Applejack." And leads the princess inside of Ponyville with the two turned humans close behind.
The town's ponies do freezes up when spotting the princess but fortunately didn't cower. The one pony there did get yelled at Soldier. "Do not cower for the vice president maggot!!" and the pony- apparently liking less getting yelled at Soldier than fearing the princess jumps back on her feet and gives the princess of the night a weak, yet still scared smile.
Passing Soldier who is currently dressed up as what the others called a robot salutes Luna. "Welcome to Ponyville miss Vice President! Sorry for the civilians being a bunch of spineless cowards!"

Luna stares at this for once respect paying pony, although not sure why he called her that name. "What is this... vice president thou name us?" She asks him confused, turning to the light grey unicorn when he speaks in a low voice."Don't question it; it will be waste of time anyway. Just see it as Soldier's way addressing royal." Luna is a bit hesitant but she guesses she can look past the different title because he is the only one paying her proper respect, turning back to the saluting pegasus. "We are grateful for the warm welcome of thy Soldier, but we do not wish forced admiration."

"I will try to be less forceful!" Soldier declares and trots over to yell- quieter at another pony thinking he can cower in fear before the vice president on his watch.

Rolling her eyes of Soldier's way of helping out, must admit his tactic does work... sort of. "He means well, although I wish he would follow your example and volume down." Twilight jokes lightly to the princess before bringing the very taken off guard princess from meeting Soldier over to where Applejack has her games sat up. They find her helping the young foal Pipsqueak not from falling into the barrel filled with water when he tried to grab an apple.

"Careful there, partner." Applejack smiles and sends the foal off to do something a bit more suitable for his size. Turning around, Applejack spots the princess of the night, she knows from Demo that the princess means no harm but it's harder to convince her body that this is not Nightmare Moon and jump in fright. "Heh, sorry about that..." She smiles weakly to the princess, clearing her throat and asks the now good princess of the night. "What can I do for you princess?" It is Twilight there answers, however.
"The princess is looking for a little advice on how to fit in around here." Well, that is an understatement, this is the alicorn there once was the source of all fear for peach sake. But Applejack guesses she can try to make this princess look less... well scary. "Fit in you say, well that's easy! All you gotta do is have the right attitude."

"Yeah, let loose and have some fun!" Scout grins, landing beside them from seemly no-where. The princess gives him a look filled with many emotions— all which he is detecting. The biggest of them is confusions and that makes her asks. "Fun? What is this "fun" thou speaks of?
Scout can't help but laugh at how oblivious this one is, but he will grant this weird speaking pony a helping hand of having fun. "It's easy." He trots over to the game where someone has to throw a toy spider into the web. He grabs one of these spiders and hands it to the dark-winged unicorn. "Here ya go."

Luna is still very confused what she is supposed to do with this toy spider. "Pray tell, what purpose do these serve?"

"You throw it at the web over there; like this." Scout grabs a spider and throws it onto the spider web. The winged unicorn copies him, at first she misses, the next spider lands right beside Scout, which does impress him. "Hey, for a beginner that was nice throw." He grins.

"Scout, do not insult the princess." Heavy lectures the speedster, Scout blinks and gives him a startled look. "She's a princess?" Turning wide-eyed to the alicorn there doesn't notice the startled look Scout gives her. "Your princess enjoys this "fun"!" and she turns her attention back to Twilight and Applejack, asking. "In what other ways may we experience it?"
Twilight beams hearing this.

Meanwhile, that group is busy showing princess Luna the meaning of fun. Miss Pauling is trying to get a hold on one of the mercenaries. She finds Demoman and Soldier having some sort of playfight which seems to be a great amusement for the surrounding ponies. Miss Pauling is split of going over and tell the two to stop fraternizing with one another or leave them be as those two have finally made peace with one another again after Helen pitted them against each other when she found out they have become friends.
She decides to look past it this time and moves on.
She finds the BLU Engineer at one of the many cafes and is baffled to see that Demoman and Soldier weren't the only of the mercenaries being on friendly terms to the opposite team. Engineer is sharing a drink and a laugh with RED Sniper, what they are talking about she does not know. She decides to step in on this breach of the rule the two teams aren't supposed to fraternize with one another. "Engie, Sniper, I know this isn't the war games but—" She catches their attention, making both men look at her a bit confused, she inwardly groans at them not seeing what is wrong with this picture. "RED and BLU aren't allowed to fraternize with one another."

The two look once at one another, then Sniper turns back to Miss Pauling, she just has to ruin it huh? "Yeah, and so what?" He asks annoyed.
Engineer nods in agreement with the griffin. "We can't let the war games affect us here, it's not fair for the ponies."
Miss Pauling stares at them in disbelief, but they are not done.
"And with that invasion, it is clear we need to work together." Sniper says, again with Engineer nodding in agreement, adding calmly. "It's not like we know when we will get back."

Good news then, "I spoke with the princess, she said a pathway will open for us to get home this summer." The two blinks, then hum with Engineer saying. "Well, it was fun as long it lasted."
This time Sniper nodding in agreement.
... She did not except them feeling bad for leaving. "Not as excitedly as I hoped." She muses dryly as she cannot see anything fun being stuck here as a pony.

"Don't get us wrong miss, we want to go home but—" Engineer turns his eyes to where the Twilight and friends are currently encouraging that second princess the fun in hurling with pumpkins. Twilight said they share a connection the six mares through the Elements of Harmony, and he is starting to think he knows who he will be partnered with. He just hasn't found shared ground with her and reinforced their link to the element, and it seems like now; it does not really matter. "This place has been awfully welcoming to the bunch of us."

"It's nice really, and bloody weird." Sniper remarks, thinking it is typical they need to leave just when he has gotten used to the ponies welcoming attitude. Just then, lightning strike right above them, making all three jump startled. Sniper is the first to recover and glares up to the rolling in laugher on the thundercloud Rainbow Dash. Usually, he would just throw a wide array of insults at whoever there has pranked him, but he has gotten on quite good terms with this rainbow mane pony plus she has pranked him one too many times. "That's it! I'm gonna tan you bloody hide!" And takes to the sky, chasing the evil laughing Rainbow Dash.

In disbelief that some pony managed to make Sniper— who is one most hard to let loose now is chasing that pony in a game of tag, Quote Miss Pauling doing a face-palm, forgetting she does not have hands. "Ow..." She moans in pain from having hit herself with a harden hoof instead of a softer hand, wondering if they have ended up in Pyro's world. "This place is more insane than I thought..."

"Nah, it's just how they are." Engineer laughs and if she wants to see insanity; she should meet Pinkie. Speaking about pink pony, he has taken notice that she and Scout has become friends really close, then again, that mare makes friends faster than he can put up a dispenser.
His attention returns back to Soldier and Demo, chuckling seeing the two now laughing their asses off from finishing their small playfight.

"Is there a place I can speak in peace with all of you?" Miss Pauling asks, thinking she will prefer telling the mercenaries about them soon coming home at the same time.
Engineer ponders about it for a moment. "Hm, you could always ask Twilight if it's alright we borrow her home."
And she has in mind of doing just that. Miss Pauling trots off to find said purple unicorn and find her along with several others of the mercenaries showing Princess Luna how to have fun with this form of Halloween.
Miss Pauling taps Twilight on the shoulder, asking her. "Could we borrow your home for a while?"
Twilight turns to her with a confused look on her face. "Um sure, but why?"

Miss Pauling answers simply. "I have finally gotten a date when we can get back to our own world. I wish to inform this to... the others all at once."

"You're leaving?" Applejack asks, making Heavy, Medic, and Scout turn around hearing this. Applejack feels quite disappointed that these new friends and one of them her fellow Element bearer soon will leave. She has been enjoying having these stallions around, and it is nice having a fellow bearer of her element around as well. "Aw shucks... I know we haven't known you fellas for long but..."

"We are going to miss you." Twilight finishes for her, the country pony nods in agreement.

Miss Pauling is quite caught off guard hearing that, why would they miss her when they barely know her, it soon shows that the two had been speaking to the mercenaries, which is a surprise as well.

"Yeah, but hey, it was fun while it lasted right?" Scout smiles to the two mares, he must admit that being here has been really fun and interesting. He sure heck is going to miss these wings, but he thinks he can live without this emotion detector inside of him. And besides, "If you going to miss us too much, we can always ask Ignis to transport us here again."

“I wouldn’t mind it, but I would prefer being able coming here on my own accord.” Medic remarks, Heavy chuckles of that very idea.

Miss Pauling on the other hand. "Don't give Ignis any ideas..." It was bad enough he kidnapped her and threw her into this world along with the others. And she can also do without Scout's new ability to sense emotions for him actually being able to draw in his ego without she having to tell him. He hasn't tried to flirt with her once since her arrival to town and that is getting really strange.

Twilight really wants to argue about the turned human leaving now they have realized the connection they share with the Elements of Harmony. But she knows that will just be selfish of her to make them stay in a world they do not belong in the first place. So instead she will ask them. "When the time comes: could we do a small goodbye party?"

Medic is very touched by this gesture, more so when he has realized that he has come to care for these ponies. "We will very much like that." Twilight nods and turns to Miss Pauling, saying: "You can use the library."

She thanks her and asks three here to get the other mercenaries to their meeting spot.
About an hour later, the whole team is gathered inside the Golden Oak Library. Here Miss Pauling informs them that they will be able to return home this summer. Again their reaction isn't as happy as she expected, in fact:

"I must admit that I would like staying here in a longer timespan; this world’s magic is quite fascinating." Medic says disappointed he does not have more time to study up on this new and very interesting topic.

"What about us being connected to the Elements of Harmony?" Demo asks and does think that there must be a reason why they got a twin to some of the elements. "They might need us here in the future."

They have been here too long it seems, Miss Pauling thinks and has to remind, Demo- all of them. "This is not our world, we have no reason helping them out. We need to get back so—"

"We can fight a senseless war against our missing souls over worthless lands." Spy says dryly. Scout sends him a look from sensing his true emotions of sorrow and anger, Spy pretends he doesn't notice.

Miss Pauling blinks of a subtle hint of anger coming from the usual calm and collected Spy. "That was what you were hired to do, yes." She replies and decides to confront him about his sudden anger. "If you have anything to say Spy; say it." but all she gets from him is a grumble. Miss Pauling decides to ignore Spy, he has been acting rather weird ever since that wedding. "The princess said a pathway will open for us this summer, it's quite the wait but until then; we will search for both the pyro's and try not kill everyone." The mercenaries send her an offended stare, taking her a bit by surprise. What? She thinks confused, most of the time when sending one of the teams- mainly RED out on missions, causalities has always been a problem. Well, that's mostly because she and Helen told them not to leave any witnesses behind. Before she can tell them anything else, the screaming of ponies makes the whole group of mercenaries hurry outside and search for whatever is making the whole town go into a wild panic.
It proves to have been the princess, and Miss Pauling is pretty sure that the princess of the night accidentally used her loud voice again.

Luna, horrified watching every pony run away from her and crashing the whole place just to do so finally throws her over the edge, she tried to be nice, tried to have some fun but all of that work crashed down when she got too excited by transfigured the toy spiders into real ones there would crawl over onto the net and by accident used her royal voice again. It seems they will forever fear her and in that case: "BE STILL!!" She bellows out with the royal voice, so loud and demanding that everypony throw themselves onto the ground, but at least they've stopped running.

Twilight is the first to recover and urges the princess to remember not using her royal voice. "Watch the screaming...!"

But Luna will not stop using the royal voice, for her next command needs to be heard and obeyed. "No, Twilight Sparkle! We must use the traditional royal Canterlot voice for what we are about to say!!" She tells the young unicorn, her eyes glowing white in response to her putting magic into her voice. Turning back to the citizens of Ponyville, Luna takes to the sky, yelling out the anger she feels. "Since you choose to fear your princess rather than love her, and dishonor her with this insulting celebration, we decree that Nightmare Night shall be canceled! Forever!!" and with that said, she leaves the town as she refuses to show the common ponies how hurt she truly feels from being treated with fear.

Trotting over to his fellow Element bearer, Demo asks Applejack a bit confused over the princess hash command of canceling this holiday. "Ey, what happened?"
Applejack explains him and the other mercenaries that several of the towns-ponies got really scared when Luna accidentally used her magic on the toy spiders and used her loud voice. The orange mare sighs. "Accidents like that do happens... but, ah shoot. We had everything going so well. Luna was happy, everypony in town was happy, now look at them." Nodding over to many of the foals crying that there won't be a Nightmare Night next year. She too must admit that it is quite sad.

"Aw man, that sucks." Scout muses disappointed, he knows this is not his world but thinking about how it would be in their world without Halloween, which is many people's favorite time- minus Smissmas of course. "Do you think there is a way for us to make her change her mind?" He asks the others.

"She seemed set on keeping it canceled," Sniper remarks and isn't as bummed out about this as most, but he does understand their disappointment in losing this holiday.

Well, it seems like Twilight needs to set the princess straight how important Nightmare Night is. "I am going to speak with her and do what I do best: Lecture her!"

"The princess doesn't stand a chance." Spy remarks to the purple pony, Twilight former determination is replaced with a sheepish laugh.
Medic giggles in agreement to his remark. "oh yes, you, Twilight Sparkle is very good at lecturing others. Well, shall we?" he gestures to where Luna went. Twilight snaps out of her small embarrassment and once again determent, the two head out to find the princess of the night.
Medic and Twilight find Luna walking heartbroken away from town, Twilight stops her but the princess of the night isn’t up to the company. “Leave me be, Twilight Sparkle.” But Twilight won’t, not before she has told Luna how important this night is for everypony. “I'm sorry it hasn't worked out how we wanted. But you have to believe me when I tell you that Nightmare Night is one of the most popular celebrations we have.”

Luna is far from convinced, though. “Yes. I can tell. By all the adoring shrieks of the children as they run away.” Away from her because of her past mistake. She leaves, starting to consider taking up Prince Blueblood suggestion on that spa, at least he isn’t scared of her…

“Princess...” Twilight calls sadly but is at a loss of how to fix this problem. She turns to Medic, noticing that he has the eyes of somepony there can relate. Oh yes, he must have scared a lot of ponies with his twisted sense of humor. She nudges him, asking. “What’s on your mind?” Medic looks away, when he meets her gaze again, it is not a reply on her question, but instead. “What is her story?” So Twilight has to tell him the brief story about that Luna turned evil and had to be banished for a thousand years and when she returned, she and her friends had to defeat her with the newly acquired Elements of Harmony. Medic frowns deeply when she finishes the story. “You can turn people good just like that here?” He asks, sounding quite confused. Twilight is about to answer yes, but when thinking about it, she gets the idea that the Elements doesn’t zap ponies good, instead: “I think the Elements simply removes the darkness tainting a pony.” It does explain Sniper and Spy’s behavior, they were still them just… their worst selves. “Nightmare Moon was Princess Luna’s worst self- her darkness.”

So the Elements only allows the person to get a second chance in reconsidering their actions, that makes more sense than just making them good. Medic sure hell wouldn’t like it if he didn’t have a choice, that’s how he went insane and lost his sympathy for others in the first place. He’s not sure he is currently getting his second chance now- not sure he deserves it, but he can relate with Luna on dealing with mistakes so big from the past that it keeps haunting her. Without a word, Medic follows the princess, not really taking notice that Twilight is following but keeping her distance. Finding the princess at the edge of town, Medic hesitates. It took him a moment, but he has realized how weird this is getting to him. He- an insane doctor who glee over tormenting people on the surgery table- is going to help someone else by giving them advice how to become better. The world truly has gone crazy.
He lets out a sigh, but even though he would like to just leave as that is easier, he tells Luna in a matter of fact. “I know how hard it is by been shunned away from anyone for something you did in the past.” Luna stops and turns to him, blinking a bit confused. She hesitates but after has turned fully to him, she asks; “And how did you solve it?”
Medic looks away, he does not think his past mistake can ever be fixed. His mind is too broken and he honestly doubts that he has enough time in life to ever change that he is a cruel person, less so when he is too curious for his own good and cannot shake off the sense he has too much fun playing with people's body parts. But… well, he has sort of becoming toleratable thanks to the team. But unlike him, this Luna has all time in the world to work on her shortcomings. “I do not have the time to fix my mistakes. But you have, so through hard work and having good pe- ponies around, you should be getting somewhere.” He replies after a moment of silence. She can get better while he... well, now that he thinks about it, Medic must admit that he has become slightly better thanks to a certain brute patience and long talks with him. It reminds him how thankful he is to Heavy for having improved just enough that he only had to worry about the RED’s and people still sour about the war wanting him dead. Brushing those thoughts aside, Medic turns to the dark-colored alicorn. “I won’t deny that ponies will fear you, but over time you should find ponies there can bring the best out from you.”

A bit caught off guard by this unicorn’s advice and having a tone that he truly knows what he is talking about through experience, Luna is willing to endure the common ponies fear a bit longer if the wait will bring her friends. “Thank you.” She nods to him, blinking in wonder when this unicorn looks very awkward from being shown gratitude.

Twilight Sparkle joins them there, giving both a small smile before turning to Luna, asking hopefully. “Ready to try again?” Luna hesitates but agrees that she is willing to give this ‘getting on good terms with Ponnyville’ another go.

After having spoken with her friends of what the best choice of action should be, it does not take Twilight long to make the needed preparations for this second attempt on making Ponyville- the foals mostly to like their princess of the night. Zecora, Derpy, Scout, and Applejack gather all the disappointed and sad children, bringing them to where the statue of Nightmare Moon is with the promise that Nightmare Night is not over just yet. Scout guides the kids to offer the statue some of their own candy, he does take a few snacks from the small pile, not at all afraid the stature or that quite awesome princess to Luna will gobble him up for it.

Pipsqueak offers the stature his candy, sighing sadly, "Goodbye, Nightmare Night. Forever..." But when he turns around to leave, the wind suddenly starts blowing and Nightmare Moon voice boom over them. "Citizens of Ponyville! You were wise to bring this candy to me. I am pleased with your offering!"
Pipsqueak, along with the other foals look around for the source while doing so he notices that even the adults are a bit nervous, turning back to the stature. Pipsqueak finally finds the source and stare scared up to the now alive stature of Nightmare Moon. "So pleased that I may just eat it... instead of eating you!" He and the children scream in fear and take the run for it. When they have gotten decent distance from Nightmare Moon, they stop and realizes it was just Luna in a very cool disguise. Turning to the other foals Pipsqueak tells them. "I wish she could do this again next year." For even though he got really scared, it was really fun too.
Scootaloo, dressed up as a werewolf steps over to him, suggesting. "Well, maybe we should ask her." He thinks that is a good idea and without asking the others if they would speak with her. Pipsqueak trots carefully over to the princess, hearing her asks sadly "—For... for them to scream some more?" He gets her attention by pulling her always flowing mane. "Um... Princess Luna." He quickly lets go of it and asks her carefully as he still hasn't fully recovered from that good scare she gave them. "I know there's not gonna be any more Nightmare Night, but do you suppose maybe you could come back next year and scare us again anyway?" He asks, now voice more certain and happy, for he really wants to be scared like this again next Nightmare Night.

Luna is truly dumbfounded getting such a request from the youngest of all the foals, more so when scanning the area, she sees that all the other foals, although keeping their distance is watching her with hopeful although some of them scared eyes. Did they like she scared them? "Child. Art thou saying that thou... like me to scare you?" The foal nods, telling her. "It's really fun! Scary, but fun!" That does not make much sense for her, how can something scary be fun? The foal continues, "Nightmare Night is my favorite night of the year." Well in that case: "We shall have to bring—" and in her excitement hearing this, forgets not to use the royal voice when she declared. "-Nightmare Night back!" The foal got blown a bit away but he quickly recovers, telling her happy "You're my favorite princess ever!" and runs happily back to the others. "She said yes, guys!" and the foals cheers in joy, now happy of the continue of Nightmare Night, they return back to Ponyville. Luna watches them leave, still rather dumbfounded about this turn of event.

Twilight beams from the idea she and her friends made so Luna can get some positive reaction from the town's ponies. "See? They really do like you, princess."

"Can it be true?" Luna asks quietly, realizing the common people do like her, she steers and again forgets not to use the royal voice "Oh, most wonderful of—" then remembers and tune it down. "I mean... Oh, most wonderful of nights." She turns to the adults and the grey cross-eyed pegasus walking over to her. "Come, Princess, let us enjoy the last hours of the festivities in your name." and that Luna is more than happy to agree on and follows them back to Ponyville.

Twilight smiles watching Luna have somewhat finally figured out how to be around the other ponies and get a laugh herself when the princess managed to scare Scout by appearing from the water in the bobbing apple game. He does quickly recover and along with the princess and surrounding ponies laugh of the rather good scare from Luna. Twilight is very happy of this turn of event and decides to write Celestia about how her sister is doing.
Just as she finished, Medic walks up to her, remarking with a grin. "Of all the Halloween's I have been attending on this team, I will admit that this has been the weirdest." He takes a seat beside her. "I think I would prefer fighting against zombie visions of the team over this. A crazy doctor handing out the advice of life lessons is too weird for my taste."
Twilight eyes him, wondering why he found that weird. "I don't see why you find that strange. You have a lot of knowledge on certain subjects, and you are one of the few ponies I know there can keep up with me." And that is saying something when Medic's special talent is not magic and yet he can still cast spells only higher level unicorns can perform.

"I have never been the man stepping back from a good challenge." Medic smiles down at this young pony. "And considering your age, you are a very good teacher." Twilight blushes slightly of the praise.

That's because Medic is an easy student, he is curious and rarely hesitates to learn new spells. Twilight might try to teach other when she is a bit older, but for now, she is just happy teaching this unicorn. Oh right, there was something that Medic said to Luna there caught her attention. "When you spoke to Luna, I noticed you said; you do not have time to fix your past mistakes." Which confuses her a bit, for her Medic does not look much older than her parents and they have plenty of years ahead of them. "How long do humans live?"

He should've known she caught up on that, no matter, better she knows that he and the other mercenaries won't live that long. "A human's life expectancy is around the seventy, but unless we manage to regain a complete soul, then I probably won't live more than three years or so." Medic explains.

Hearing this is very startling, Twilight wasn't aware humans didn't live very long. The humans she and her friends have befriended have even lesser time and yet; "You sound awfully calm about it." She softly remarks.
Medic chuckles, but this time devoted of his usual joy. "If you knew what I have been through, then you would understand why."

"What have you been through?"

"It's best you never know." Medic muses, unlike others, he did not want to scare Twilight away. He will certainly do that if he ever tells her what kind of monster he is because of what happened to him in his youth.

Twilight can't help but fear what kind of dark secret this unicorn holds but she has a feeling that it has something to do with these War Games he and the others at times talk about. And knowing these humans have been stuck in a circle of death and war for years, she can sort of understand his reluctance in talking about it to someone Soldier calls a civilian. "Okay." Twilight muses, wishing she can help but she has no knowledge how to recover from war. All she can is accept that the turned humans are dealing with some heavy stuff and leave it at that.
She did not know how grateful Medic is that she did not push him to explain about his past. What she did notice but didn't really see anything weird that Medic caress his chest from some sort of ache.

Chapter Text

Rarity has gotten the jackpot with a customer! Saffhire Shore has not only visited her boutique but wanted one of her newest designs! Granted Sapphire has demanded three more of a gem filled suit, one she cannot make as she used all her gems on that first one. So she has to get more, easy enough. She grabs Spike to help her with the gem search, promising him that he will get some to snack on as repayment for the help. After have explained Spike of the reason, the baby dragon gasps in excitement. "Oh my gosh! Sapphire Shores! The pony of pop! She is awesome! I mean, she's gorgeous and talented and —" Rarity sends him a look, a bit offended him gushing over somepony else than her. He chuckles nervously. "Heh... and not even half the pony you are. I mean, you're ten times more gorgeous and talented and—"
Flattering, but he is wrong about one thing. "Spike, a lady is never jealous." She corrects him and returns back to her search for gems at the mountainside located a few miles from Ponyville.

"Of course not. But were you totally flipping out or what?!" Spike asks and still unable to calm down over that Rarity had an audience with THE Sapphire Shores.

Rarity giggles lightly of the dragon's choice of words. "Ladies do not "flip out", Spike." But she will admit; "However, I was quite in awe." and speaking about that pony there has ordered three more of her gem filled costumes, she starts to search for more gems. "I need to find more jewels than ever before to decorate her costumes. Oh, aha!" With her magic being specialized in finding gems, Rarity rather easily finds what she is looking for. And excitedly makes Spike dig them out. It is a decent cluster of gems.

Seeing the cluster of these delicious gems, Spike's mouth starts to water. "Ooooo! You look so delicious." He licks his mouth.
"Spike!" Rarity snaps him out from his hunger for the gems, he winches in disappointment but does understand as she explains him. "I promised I'd give you gems to snack on, but we need to collect more first or I'll never be able to make these outfits for Sapphire." Reluctantly, Spike put the gems into his wagon. He does quickly get over it and returns back to his job helping Rarity finding more, he does wish he could snack one just one of all the gems they find.
When his wagon has a large pile of those tasty looking gems. Rarity pats him over the head, saying happily. "You've been very patient today, Spike. And for that, you get the finest reward." Rarity levitates the biggest and prettiest sapphire gem out from the pile, giving it to him. "This is from me to you." Spike forgets about his hunger to eat this gem, realizing what she has just said and is truly touched by this gift giving from the pony he has a major crush on. "It's perfect." He smiles at her and decides this gem shall not be eaten, but saved as a memento.
He follows her happy to get more gems.

Both Spike and Rarity are unaware they are being watched, three creatures watch them behind the thick shrubbery surrounding this particular site. The leader of those three watches the dragon digging up gems, taking notices. "He is the gem hunter, hunt gems like Protector." He tells his two comrades. The biggest of the three steps over to watch the dragon, that one is far from being as big and strong as their personal gem hunter, but perhaps. "Get dragon to Protector?" He suggests, thinking it might make Protector happy who has been a bit down lately.

"Spike! Where are you?"

"Wait! Who is that?" The first one asks, they move toward this other voice, spotting a pony- a unicorn. The three blink once, then grin at their luck. "Unicorn, we bring unicorn to Protector." They declare, now certain it will make their protector happy.

Rarity tracks down one last cluster of gems, voicing her thoughts to the digging dragon. "Well, Spike, I think that's all we can do for today. And these will certainly get me well on my way with Sapphire's outfits. Why don't we start headi- " She gasps of what he gem tracking spell catches up, she follows it. "What's this? Another jewel." But does find it strange that her tracking spell leads her to the nearby trees. "Strange. It's in the trees." Brushing few of the branches aside she finds the gem, but gets the world's biggest startle when a very... well ruffian looking creature appears from the tree, having that gem around its neck, she steps back and an attempt not letting this quite ugly looking stone dog know she did not mean to offend it. "Uh... Good day, gentle... uh, fellow. Uh, I am Rarity and this is my friend Spike." She introduces herself and Spike, said dragon waves weakly towards the creature. "And you are..." She asks nervously.

This gargoyle looking dog with skin very familiar to stone jumps out from the tree. "A Diamond dog." This diamond dog introduces himself, and is very keen on getting this unicorn for their Protector. He and his fellow Diamond Dogs really want to please Protector.

Stepping further away from this approaching and quite menacing looking Diamond dog. "Oh really? Oh well, that explains your fine taste in jewelry. I mean I-I-I know that diamonds are a girl's best friend and now I know that they're a dog's best friend too, ha ha ha..." She giggles weakly and in the hope this Diamond dog perhaps would stop approaching her. "So, um, you're out hunting for gems as well?"

"Yes. We hunt." The leader of this small pack replies, much to the unicorn's confusions. "Uh...we?" She asks and he explains. "We once hunt gems, but now we hunt pretty things for Protector, so now we bring unicorn to Protector." and his two pack members sneak attack this pretty unicorn from the ground. The biggest of them tries to snatch the unicorn but she ducks just in last second. Before he can try again. The baby dragon uses his strong tail to jag it into the smallest dog's tail. The smallest diamond dog yelps in pain, distraction the biggest long enough for the baby dragon to pushes him away with his spiked head.

"Run Rarity, run!" Spike calls to her before he or Rarity can get away, though. The biggest Diamond dog forces him to the ground with its powerful paws before turning its anttention back to Rarity. But even stuck into the ground, Spike refuses to give up and grabs the diamond dog's legs, making it stumble and land onto the smallest one.

"Spike! Come on! Hurry!" Rarity calls, but before she can get over and help the baby dragon, the apparent leader of those three dogs appears behind her from the ground. "Gotcha!" and she can do little than struggles against this brute pulling her towards the hole. "Unhand me this instant, you ruffians!" She cries, calling for Spike but he cannot help her at the moment and the dogs drag her into these dirty tunnels

Spike cries for her, but it is too late, she has been taken and has proven he is no match for these Diamond dogs. He has to get help! Reluctant but knowing it is his only hope saving Rarity, Spike runs back to Ponyville so he can get Twilight and the others.

(down the tunnels)

"Ugh put me down, you thugs!" Rarity cries up to her captures but they completely ignore her, they bring her inside a huge cave filled with colorful drawings everywhere on the walls. The one holding her drops her roughly, with the leader of them calling into this cave. "Protector! We found pretty unicorn for you!"
Sounds of movements, Rarity winches seeing something big move at the edge of the light, to then scream when an adult dragon head appears. The only good thing that this one is not as big as the one there took a nap near Ponyville, but still big enough to be scary.
This dragon is fire red with an orange line down the back, making its black spikes and blue underside scales stand out. It approaches the Diamond dogs and the terrified Rarity there notices its yellow eyes are locked onto her. She smiles weakly up to it. "H-Hello, nice meeting you um, Protector. I uh... must say you have decorated your lair quite n-nicely." She compliments the dragon with a weak smile, this dragon might not be as big as the one deciding to take a nap up on the mountain or those during the dragon migration, but it is still big enough to be able to look into the first-floor windows of her boutique if standing on its toes
The dragon titles its head at her, then smiles widely and says- to Rarity's surprise- with a female voice. "Thanks! I like them too." and before Rarity can get her bearing and speak again, Protector has snatched her up in her claws, making the unicorn let out a startled squeal. "You are a very pretty unicorn, very pretty hair." Protector says, touching Rarity hair with those sharp black claws.

Rarity, now feeling much calmer around this female dragon, she replies with a smile. "Why thank you." Although she is still a bit uncomfortable having those sharp claws this close to her face "Um, could you perhaps... remove your claws? I would hate you accidentally cut me and messes up my coat." Protector does, still holding her like some sort of teddy bear, but Rarity can deal with that. "Thank you, darling."
Protector beams.

"We brought you pretty unicorn." The leader of the Diamond dogs says, asking the dragon hopefully. "Protector happy?"

The dragon nods with a big smile down to the three. "Very! Thank you! Here." Still with Rarity in her left claw, Protector easily dig into the rock wall beside her, clawing out a cluster of gems. The three Diamond dogs drool at the sight, begging like real dogs when the dragon throws the cluster of gems over to them. After have eaten their treat. The three Diamond dogs thank her and asks in their great need to please the adult dragon. "What else can Diamond dogs do to please Protector?"
The dragon returns her gaze back to the unicorn. "You got me a pretty unicorn, it is good enough."
The three dogs nod and leave the cave, very proud of themselves for pleasing their protector.

Well, this is quite the surprise. These ruffians of Diamond dogs were just trying to make this dragon happy, so what did they get in return? Besides from gem of course.
"They seem to like you, Protector." Rarity remarks, winching but does somewhat deal with this dragon messing up her hair by petting it.

"I like Diamond dogs" Protector replies happily. "They bring me things, they make me happy."

"And what do you do in returns?" Rarity asks curiously.

"I make sure no one hurt my Diamond dogs." Protector replies with now a menacing smirk, it does not fade as the dragon adds. "Everyone who does will burn."

Rarity gulps and dreads the worst, knowing Spike, he will get help and that means her friends will have to face this dragon; the protector of the Diamond dogs.

***
(Ponyville)

"What is Scout and pink pony doing?" Heavy asks, walking up to where Engineer, along with the mares watching Scout and Pinkie discussing something seemly incredible important.
Rainbow Dash looks up at him. "Pinkie said something about wanting to make friends with Scout properly." and like the rest has no idea what that means. For aren't those two friends already?
Heavy frowns and turns to the speedster and pink pony of randomness both now backing away from one another, then with both of them yelling; "GO!" They run at one another, knocking their heads together. Both of them topples to the ground, Pinkie is the first to recover. From the looks of it, she is asking Scout a question. He gets up and nods with a huge grin on his face, making Pinkie hugs him before both trottings off happily away as if that former scene was completely normal.

"Uh, what just happen?" Rainbow Dash asks, not sure of what she has witnessed. Her friends and the turned humans only shrug in a sign they have no idea either. Their confusions towards Pinkie and Scout is replaced with confusions of what is freaking Spike that much out that the kid dragon cannot speak, only manages to say "Rarity... woods... jewels... dogs... hole... taken... Save her!" the group eye one another, but can see this is important so Twilight pulls Spike onto her back and heads towards the mountainside where Rarity at time goes to find gems. Her friends and the two turned humans follow.
On their way there Twilight asks the still gasping for air Spike "Spike, can you breathe now?"

He takes a couple more breathes before he says. "I-I think so."

"Good. Now tell us what you know." Twilight says, turning her eyes to Rainbow Dash flying up beside them, remarking with a small grin. "Yeah. because all you said earlier was—" and she repeats what Spike cried when he came to them.

"Not a whole lot to go on there, sport." Applejack points out.

Spike apologizes and now out from his state of panic, he explains the ponies. "Rarity and I were in the woods looking for jewels when these creepy guys showed up."

"What kind of creepy guys are we talking about?" Engineer asks for he can think about a lot of people suiting that description.

"They called themselves the Diamond Dogs. They grabbed Rarity and disappeared down a hole in the ground."

Well, that does sound like it is going to be rather easy, Applejack thinks and voices that out loud, telling the worried dragon. "Just take us to that there hole and we'll save Rarity."
But that proves not to be that easy. At the place the ponies find countless of holes, it does make it harder but they refuse to give up just because of that.

Twilight jumps down to the hole filled valley. "Come on! Let's get started." She sticks her head into one of these holes, calling down. She jumps when a pair of eyes appears in the darkness of the hole, but no monster she thought would jump at her. No, instead she got her face filled with dirt as the owner of the eyes fills it up. Looking around, Twilight realizes the same is happening to the other holes and urges her friends. "Quick! We gotta get down one before they're all filled up!"

They try but the holes fill up faster than they can reach them. Applejack tries to stop one of the holes from getting filled by forcing herself down but she cannot fight hard enough against the geyser of dirt. And with her orange coat filled with dirt, she tells her friends in horror. "We can't muscle through it!" Snapping to that huge stallion when he lets out a roar and stomps hard onto one of the earth piles, but all that did was making the pile more impacted.

"Don't stomp!" Engineer cries, he jumps onto one of the piles and starts digging. "We have to dig." The mares follow his example, Heavy does it by tackling the earth piles away as his big size wouldn't allow for digging.

Their attempt digging their way in does get rudely interrupted when the Diamond dogs are cheeky enough to appear from the ground and pull the ponies tail, greatly delaying their digging. But the dogs weren't done messing with them. Two of the Diamond dogs appear behind Twilight and Rainbow, both ponies jump at them, ending slamming into one another as the Diamond dogs dodge the attack by returning back into the ground piles.
One of the dogs stops Applejack's and Heavy's attempt getting inside by appearing in a taunting manner, disappearing every time either Applejack tries to grab him or when Heavy tackles into the earth pile which only caused him to get his pelt filled with dirt and one step further away from getting inside.
The ponies try but have no way keeping up with these ground diggers and soon all lie on the ground, gasping for air of chasing and being pulled off their piles by the tail.
It takes them a moment to recover, when they are back on their feet, Heavy grumbles greatly annoyed by this enemy. "They fight like cowards."

Fluttershy gets on her hooves from getting pulled down from the earth pile, worrying for Rarity has to deal with those things on her own. "Oh, poor Rarity must be terrified."

Then Spike gets an idea, he picks out the gem he got from Rarity and with it attached to a rod, he puts the lure near one of the many dirt piles

"Spike, it is very noble of you—"

Spike hushes Twilight down, she lies down beside him, whispers; "-to sacrifice the gem Rarity gave you." He smiles and images himself as Rarity's knight in shining armor. "Oh, Lady Rarity. My damsel in distress." He dreams of fighting his way through the Diamond dogs to save Rarity. And when it is done, she will show her gratitude with a kiss of—" his daydream gets to a sudden halt when a Diamond dog has appeared and as hoped; snatches the gem. "I got a bite!" Spike cheers, clamping his claws around the rod as the Diamond dog digs itself a new hole, pulling hard the rod. Spike tries to reel the dog in but it is too strong, dragging him into the hole.

"Spike!" Twilight calls and jumps in after him. Rainbow Dash quickly follows suit with Applejack and Engineer close behind. Fluttershy hesitates, but thinks she rather wants to face whatever is down there than being alone with that huge and scary earth pony, so, she jumps in as well.

Heavy cannot follow, he is too big for it, instead, he decides to get the other mercenaries in case this will turn into a fight.

***

Protector leads Rarity into her cave, showing the unicorn what she has done to remove all the dull colors of the place. Rarity looks at the many drawings, all of them kinda childish but sweet in their own way and yet, some of them looks sad. She turns to this friendly dragon, asking: "Do your drawings have any story behind them?" Protector nods. Rarity turns to one of the drawings showing what looks like strange creatures jumping around on a field filled with rainbows. "What does this one tell?"
Protector goes down on her front legs, getting a bit closer to Rarity's height, the dragon stares a few seconds on the drawing. "It's my friends, we are playing together." She replies happy but Rarity notices there is sadness in her tone.
Rarity eyes the dragon, asking softly. "Do you miss them?" Protector nods, replying with a weak smile. "But I am sure we will meet again. They always return for another game." Rarity nods and turns her gaze back to the drawing, taking notice that those beings on the drawing do not look like anything she has seen before. "May I ask what your friends are? I cannot see what they are."

The dragon chuckles and much to Rarity's surprise, Protector tells her. "They are humans, I used to be one too. But the rainbow turned me into this."

Human, the stallions there are connected to their Elements of Harmony have told her that they used to be a creature of the same name. Could this be one of them? Before she can ask about this though. A howl echoes through the caves, making Protector snaps towards the cave opening, pupils narrowed into a slit and her whole posture tense, seeing that scares Rarity as it does remind her she is talking to a fire-breathing and dangerous dragon. "What is going on?"

"Someone is hurting my doggy friends." Protector replies and with; "Stay here, you will be safe." She leaves the cave.

Rarity sure hopes those intruders aren't those she thinks they are...

***
Again the Diamond dog there brought them here howls before running off, leaving the ponies and single dragon alone in the cave hallway. They did not want to let it get away that easily and the group follows, then stop to a sudden halt when a loud roar echoes through the caves.

"W-What w-w-was t-t-that?" Fluttershy asks, trembling in fear. The other ponies look around for the source, to all jump and cry in fright when a huge yellow flame burst out from the cave-way to their right.
Seconds later a fire red dragon appears, snarling at them with its yellow eyes revealing that it will enjoy killing them with that sinister look in them. Fluttershy screams in utter fear seeing an adult dragon in these caves. "Dragon!!" and takes the run for it. The others quickly follow.

The dragon pursues them, sending another fire-breath at the intruders. She does stop when noticing what cave they chose to run down at. Knowing these caves in and out, she takes another route and as wanted, she cuts them off from reaching where the Diamond dogs pups reside. She roars and flames there once only would appear from an object she built but was limited in fuel; now wonderfully part of her and her fire burst out from her jaws. The intruders duck the last second, and with the flames gone. They run down a more wanted hallway. She chases them, giggling from seeing and hearing her doggy friends cheer for her keeping them safe.
The cheer gets louder when the intruders realize they have been forced into a dead end. She giggles raise up on two legs and slowly walk over to them as she is blocking their only way out. "The cheers of the dogs are the sound of your demise." She says and makes sure her long tail and somewhat slender body is surrounding the intruders ."If you can't take the heat; you shouldn't have come."

 

If that female dragon talks then that means it might be reasoned with. "Hold up missy, we didn't come here to cause trouble." Engineer tells this fire red dragoness, she blinks but he is just happy he got her attention, he takes a small step forward towards this dragon. "We only intruded on your lair because we came to save a fellow pony of ours. One of the Diamond dogs took her, we will leave the moment we have her."
The dragoness slowly moves over to him, not once blinking and for a painful moment, Engineer dreads this dragon is going to turn him into cooked horse/bird meat. Then; "Oh my gosh, Engie!" and the dragon pulls him into a crushing hug, one he recognizes far too well. Holy smokes, talk about dumb luck! "Pyro?" Engineer asks and the dragon nods. He can't help but laugh, "Pyro, you are a dragon!"

"Yup!" Pyro beams, turning her gaze briefly to a pink unicorn only she can see as that one remarks highly amused. 'I didn't know horses can get a beak and hair made of feathers.' She giggles at that and tells Mr. Ballonicorn. "I like it." Turning her attention back to Engie, explaining him. "Mr. Balonicorn finds your new form a bit weird."

Well, her imaginary friend isn't the only one. "He'll get used to it." He tells her before turning to the dumbfounded mares and single dragon. "It's alright, Pyro is one of us." They calm a bit down, but are still bit shaken up almost have gotten fried by this dragoness, Engineer would've been surprised if they calmed down right away. Pyro is a force to be reckoned with and has always been someone everyone from the team fear- well except himself, he has taken the time to get to know Pyro, learning what was behind that mask and accepted her very unique quirks, in return Pyro has been protecting him and his buildings with a vengeance.
Turning back to the now dragon and knowing Pyro can cause a lot of harm without really realizing it- although Pyro do seems to be way more clear in the head at the moment. But still, he would prefer having both Pyros around so he knows where they are. "Is the other Pyro with you?" He asks and can't for the life of him figure out if this is the RED or BLU Pyro.

Pyro blinks, looking confused for a moment. "There was another Pyro when we came, but she's gone now." She replies and puts the now quite ruffled up Engie back down onto the ground.

Okay, guess he has to risks this, then. "Are you RED or BLU Pyro? Sorry but I really can't tell without your suit." Her colors do point this being the RED one, but then again, he hasn't turned blue because he is on BLU team, so this could be the BLU Pyro for all he knows. Pyro didn't seem to mind though.

Pyro opens her mouth to tell him that she's not sure what he entirely means, but stops when Mr. Ballonicorn tells her surprisingly seriously. 'You and the other Pyro has finally accepted one another again. You are both Pyro.' Pyro frowns at his words, not entirely sure what her pink balloon friend is talking about. She turns her attention back to Engie, explaining him still frowning. "Mr. Ballonicorn says I am both. Maybe I am, for I remember having both red and blue uniform on."
Engineer blinks, staring dumbfounded at her for several seconds before asking hesitantly. "Do he know how it happens?" She shrugs, not entirely sure what Mr. Balloonicorn meant and would like some time to think about it, but right now she much rather wants to rejoice that Engie is here! And—Pyro gasps. "There are more unicorns?!" She cries delighted and pulls the purple one into a tight bear hug. Pulling this one away, wondering out loud. "Would you like to meet mister Balloonicorn?" But this unicorn cannot answer, for some reason she has decided to take a nap right this moment, much to Mr. Ballonicorn's disappointment.

...Maybe he should've warned Twilight that Pyro loves unicorns to bits... speaking of unicorn. "Do you happen to have seen a white unicorn?"
Pyro nods, still holding the knocked out Twilight in her left claws, the dragoness points down the hallway she chased them through "The very pretty unicorn is in my memory room. Come I show you!" and she heads out, still holding Twilight.
Engineer follows with the others close behind him, well almost everyone. Poor Fluttershy has almost passed out from fear. After have gotten her back on her hooves and reluctantly pushed by Rainbow Dash. They follow Pyro through the caves. Engineer notices that the cave entrance they are walking past all have one or more Diamond dogs standing, watching them like a real dog there doesn't know how to react to strangers would. Now that he is on that subject. "Say, Pyro. Are you protecting the Diamond dogs as you did with me?"

Pyro nods. "They are my doggies and as their owner, I need to take care of them." She has been doing that ever since that rainbow took her to this place. They might not be cute or cuddly, but they really make up for it with their ability to talk and bring her stuff. The other her wanted the dogs as well, but it was hard protecting the Diamond dogs as she and the other Pyro kept wanting to play with one another. Fortunately, they figured it out thanks to Ballonicorn, but then the other her suddenly left, leaving her with new memories she does not fully understand.

The Diamond dogs, seeing their Protector being friendly to the intruders; they figure there is no danger and returns back to their daily schedules. Some of them decide to get a better look at their protector's new friends. Fluttershy whimpers when one of them approaches her. "...Good doggy..." She whispers and weakly pats it onto its very dirty head. The Diamond dog whimpers of the good feeling and tells this pony. "I like whimpy pony, nice like Protector"
Fluttershy smiles weakly. "Thanks." She says, voice a little louder than before. She and her apparently new Diamond dog friend both turn to the cave way Pyro is leading them down to the sound of someone yelling infuriating

"Please be quiet!" Followed by Rarity's voice. "Good heavens, what is that smell?— oh, mystery solved. It's your breathe."

"Sounds like Rarity is handling herself just fine." Applejack cannot help but laugh. And so right they are, passing the corner, they see Rarity surrounded by the same three Diamond dogs there had taunted them from above, now getting tormented by Rarity complaining about their sense of staying hygiene. "You look and smell like you haven't bathed in weeks. Have you never heard of soap?" She asks them and starts moving down the cave way the dogs tried to keep her from going. "You could all do with a good round of soap and water. Oh water, oh water, I'm terribly thirsty. Could I please have some water?"
The biggest of this small pack slaps his big paws up to his hurting ears, whining how much they hurt from this pony's voice. "I can't take it anymore! We should have giving Protector colored coal instead!"

Feeling sorry for her doggies, Pyro puts down the purple one, walks over to the pretty unicorn and tells her in a simple but serious matter of fact. "Please do not hurt my doggies."
The pretty unicorn looks up at her, smiling that charming smile "Oh, you're back. My deepest apologies, but I was simply stating the—" Pyro shuts her mouth with a single claw, repeating now in a threatening tone as the unicorn speaking is hurting her doggies ears. "Don't hurt my doggies."

"Listen to her Rarity." Engineer pledges the white unicorn, pissing off Pyro has always been a terrible idea and they do not have the respawn to count on here. Rarity is smart enough to listen and although annoyed, she keeps her mouth shut. The Diamond dogs breathe out in relief with the smallest of them saying. "Pony whining hurts ears."
Rarity opens her mouth but one glance up to Pyro, she closes it again incredible annoyed yet thinks it's best not to enrage the dragoness. Much to Engineer's relief. "Thanks, Pyro means well, but she... well, is a dragon." He apologizes. Rarity gives him a look there pretty much says 'no need to apologizes, darling' and the winch around the nose would be said about like this: 'but their smell is killing me.'
Something Engineer does agree on. He is used to being around smelly men, that does happen when running around in all kind of weather and getting killed all kind of manners all day. But still, even a bunch of mercenaries knows to take a bath after each match. These dogs smell like they haven't ever gotten one.
That does give him an idea and one he thinks Rarity will appreciate it a lot.

***
(an hour later)

Trom the hill above the entrance to the Diamond dogs caves, Twilight watches the scene of Rarity and Engineer taking a role model of washing one of the many Diamond dogs in the river nearby. The dog itself did look uncomfortable about it but did not try to get away thanks to Pyro mere appearance there helped it and any other Diamond dog to stay calm. Her other friends, both ponies and turned humans join in under this small task. She smiles hearing Scout exclaim startled up to Pyro. "Holy crap! You're a chick?!" and then getting lightly whacked over the head by Sniper when he probably said something rather offending to the dragoness. Her smile widens slightly when a shine around Engineer appears and when it fades, a silver necklace having a purple wrench is around his neck. Rarity says something to him and the bird/horse chuckles before both return back to their task.

Twilight returns to her letter to her mentor. 'Dear princess Celestia, two of my friends taught me a very important lesson today. Generosity can come in many shapes of ways, through beauty and style or the rougher practical way. Either way it works its wonders to find friendship even in the strangest of places.'
Finishing the letter she levitates it over to Spike who transports it to the princess and the two head down to help their friends cleaning up their new dragon friend's pets.

None of them saw a pony made out of shadows is watching them from the top of the small mountain.

***

Miles away and working gloomily on a rock farm, a pony there once thought herself great and powerful, now nothing more than one having to chip up rocks just to get food on the table. Her heart is filled with the anger of this great humiliation and prays for a chance to get back on those who did this to her.
The beings of darkness hear her pledges for revenge. The unicorn jumps when a pegasus of shadows lands before her. It takes a step towards the unicorn, voice barely a whisper but she still heard its as clear as day. "We hear your call from the darkness in your heart. Let the darkness in and we will grant you the power you seek in order to defeat the one who humiliated you." Out from its wings, an amulet in shape of an alicorn appears. "With this amulet, you will be granted the power worth an alicorn. All we ask that you will immobilize everyone on your path to glory." It offers her the amulet, asking with its glowing white eyes locked to hers. "Do we have a deal?"

She knows that agreeing with this being is the possible worst choice ever, but her anger and wants to retribution pushes her logical thoughts asides and she takes the amulet, the instant it is on, she can feel its immense power going through her body. Now she really feels great and powerful! The shadow pony disappears, leaving behind black crystals. The unicorn drops the small hammer and heads towards where he rival lives- time for some much-waited payback.

Chapter Text

While once again helping Pyro in giving the remaining diamond dogs a much-needed bath, Spike burps up a letter from the princess. Seeing that, Pyro 'ohh' at the small trick, asking excitedly. "Can I do that too?"
Twilight levitates the letter over, answering the dragoness thoughtful before reading the letter. "Probably, I'm sure Spike can teach you the trick." Spike chuckles weakly up to the bigger dragon, not sure if he looks forward teaching an adult and very fire happy dragon. Twilight did not notice her number 1 assistance hesitations about her suggestion; she's too busy reading what Celestia has written to them. She gasps excited of what the princess is requesting from her. "Oh my gosh! Princess Celestia will bring the delegates from Saddle Arabia to Ponyville and would like we stand for the entertainment!"

"Hopefully not all of us." Engineer remarks after have let the dog he washed run back to the cave. He doesn't consider himself much of an entertainer and some of this bunch aren't suited to for such a task. He voices this to Twilight, adding in a quieter voice. "Unless you want a big pile of rubble lying around, I suggest you keep Soldier and Pyro far away from the entertainment."

Engineer makes a good point. Twilight has seen what Soldier can do of destruction and Pyro, well, she is a dragon with a huge love for fire so... yeah, perhaps it is best she will stay here during the show. "Okay, you make a good point. But I still l would like to give the delegates a decent show."

"How long before they arrive?"

"Two weeks from now on."

Engineer nods, that gives them some time to figure that conundrum out. "Whoever you pick, I will be more than happy build you a stage for the performance." That is something he is way more comfortable with.

Twilight smiles. "Thanks, Engie." and after have helped him and Pyro out for a bit, she and Spike return back to Ponyville so she can find somepony who can entertain the delegates. Pinkie is an obvious choice, but Twilight would like something more magical— "I got it!" She cheers and gallops out to find Demo and Medic, thinking this would be a good chance making those two give each other a break with their hostilities between one another.
Finding Medic is easy enough, that unicorn spend most of his free time reading in her library and when not helping Twilight and her friends, he works in the hospital. Today he is working, so Twilight heads over there.

Medic has mixed feelings about her idea. "...You want me and that drunkard to Demo perform before some delegates?" He puts down the bandage he has been using on a pegasus there has flown a tad too close to a thundercloud, turning fully to Twilight with a deep frown. "As much I like to make a scene with my skills, I do—"

"Great, we start the moment you're done with today's patients." Twilight interrupts him. Medic frowns deepen but she ignores him. After having spent so much time with this unicorn; Twilight knows Medic will come around. And he will forgive her dragging him into this when she does a barter he cannot resist. "I was planning on some advanced levitation magic, but if you don't think that's worth your skill..." She turns to him with a crooked smile, daring him to take the bait.

Oh she is one sly girl, Medic cannot help but laugh at this, more so when a man like him is usually the one pulling others around the circus ring and not the other way around. "Alright fine, I'll come." He promises her greatly amused on her tactic of persuading him.

Twilight beams and leaves the doctor pony to do his job. On her way to find the second human turned into a unicorn, she passes some of the others such as Heavy frowning deeply of the flower sandwich Derpy offers him with Soldier munching his own down at the cafe. And the napping Sniper is about to get a rude awakening from the prank Scout and Rainbow Dash with that small thundercloud they placed above him. She hears said cloud go off just as she spots Demo doing his cake deliveries. "Demo, you got a moment?" She calls and trots over to the one-eyed stallion.

Turning his gaze away from an understandable very pissed Sniper chases the two speedsters throughout town, Demo turns to Twilight and Spike "Aye, if it will be quick."

"It will, I promise." Twilight says and quickly explains her plan on letting him and Medic do a complicated levitation show for the Saddle Arabia delegates there will arrive along with Princess Celestia in two weeks. Unlike Medic who frowned at the thought, Demo is surprisingly very open to the idea. "Sure, let me finishes up my deliveries and I'll help you out." He is truly a pony quick to adapt to new situations. She has a feeling that is the cause of him had to work so many different jobs.
"Great, meet me at the park." She tells him and lets the brown unicorn finish his chores, glad she did not have to bribe him like with Medic.

(Later)

With the two stallions before her, Twilight shows them what she has been planning for them to do as entertainment. She casts her magic on two piles of colored stones Spike made for her and levitates them around in certain patterns. While doing so she explains the two. "We are going to move over to use some of Fluttershy's animal friends for the show." Putting the stones back onto the ground, pointing out for the two stallions. "But only when we are sure they won't get hurt."

"Hm, I do know how horrible it feels watching a beloved pet getting hurt." Medic muses and glance to his own pet dove Archimedes currently roosting on his back.

Demo did not know the feeling watching a beloved pet hurt, he has never been much of a man for pets, but he does know how much critters means for Fluttershy, so he can see Twilight's reason. "Alright, and you want I and Medic do what you did?"

Twilight nods and does the pattern again with the red and blue stones. "Demo you will do the pattern of the red stones, and Medic you will do the blue." Eyeing the two sheepishly. "I figured it would be easier if I used your team colors." The two chuckles.
Twilight then levitates the colored stones over to them. "Now you try."
Their red and blue magic surrounds their fellow colored stones and tries to do what she showed them. They messed up pretty quickly, but after a bit insult throwing at one another, they slowly got the hang of it. Not perfect but Twilight can say that she is impressed how quickly seemly two enemies managed to work together.

"What's are you doing?" Miss Pauling asks curious but also a bit worried what the mercenaries are doing around one of the civilians, although surprised no one has been killed by them yet. Demo turns to her and the red stones held by his magic drop to the ground, several of them hit Medic and that purple unicorn. They both shoot him an annoyed stare with the purple unicorn lecturing him as if this isn't the first time. "Demo, you can't let simple distractions ruin your concentrations." The Scotsman gives her an apoplectic smile, making the purple unicorn rolls her eyes before turning to the bit confused Miss Pauling.
"We're practicing for the performance the princess asked we could do to the Saddle Arabia delegates."

"No, you are making us do the performance frauline." Medic points out grinningly, Twilight returns it with her own small smug smile.

This is getting weirder and weirder. "She is making you perform for delegates?" Miss Pauling asks utterly flabbergasted hearing that more so when the two mercenaries nod as if this is completely normal. "I'm sorry but I did not expect people like you— especially Medic to agree on such things." Miss Pauling says and can't help but wonder how Twilight did it.

"Frauline Twilight is devilishly good at bribery and at times threat." Medic replies simply.

"Really?" What kind of threats and bribery can make someone like Medic agree on anything? He has done horrific experiments, both from the war but also on his fellow teammates, he has been tortured and blown to bits for years working for Mann co and brushed it off as if it was nothing. So what in world does that unicorn have on him? "And what might that be?" Miss Pauling asks this Twilight Sparkle.

Twilight smiles. "If my bribery of teaching him magic doesn't work, then I just put him in the same room as Pinkie for a half hour." Medic shudders of the mere thought as his mind still wants to figure out how Pinkie's ability to predict things works but he always ends up with a nasty headache if he hangs around Pinkie Pie more than a half hour. Oh, and now with Pyro have joined the group: "Or I can just throw him to Pyro."

"NO!" Both Demo and Medic cry horrified at that very idea, both thinking then they rather would be set on fire than going through the torment of being the now dragon-shaped Pyro's teddybear substitute.

"Anything but that!" Demo says, adding sharply to Medic. "She has been hanging around you too much!" In which Medic retorts. "I cut people up for a living, not throwing them to their doom like Twilight does!"

Ignoring their fear for said firebug and a pony from this world can make two harden mercenaries tremble in terror without threatening them by death— although Pyro could be considered as a torture method, speaking of said firebug. "You found Pyro?" Miss Pauling asks and must admit she is quite irritated she hasn't heard this from any of the mercenaries. She is starting to feel she doesn't have any control over them anymore. "Why didn't you report this?"

"I have been very busy lately." Demo replies, the Cakes trust him so much that he now delivers their goods to fancy places such as Canterlot, even been to Manehatten a single time. Not that he complains, traveling around this world is very interesting.

Medic simply just shrugs. "We would tell you– at some point." Not really seeing the big deal that they forgot telling her, it has only been a day. "We found frauline Pyro yesterday." Noticing the only mild surprise on Miss Pauling's face, it seems she knew Pyro was a woman. "Our thoughts she would’ve been turned into a pony was wrong. She has been turned into a dragon instead, one there is bigger than Heavy."

"And has adopted a whole pack of dogs." Demo adds.

"Which of the Pyro's is she?" Miss Pauling asks, ignoring the purple unicorn's confused look and the question of what she meant— wish the mercenaries would have done the same.
"Remember what I told you we have a clone? Both the Pyros were transported here." Medic explains her and the purple unicorn nods in understanding. Miss Pauling sends him a disapproved look for revealing such a crucial thing about the company they work for. "Medic, your contract stated not to reveal anything about your jobs."

Oh right, guess he sort of forgot. Medic thinks but brushes it off as Twilight has made a good pony to converse with. "It's not like she can use it for anything." He waves Miss Pauling off and the Administrator's assistance face-palm, much to his amusement. "But back to your question miss Pauling: we do not know. But if you want to hear my theory, I say the two Pyros somehow managed to become one person. That is why she has memories of both the teams."

So Pyro's souls have merged? Miss Pauling wonders how they managed that when the others have never been able. "Have you asked Pyro about it?" Blinking when Medic shift uncomfortable and the purple unicorn, Twilight giggles as if something very amusing has happened. "What?"

"Pyro loves unicorns." Spike explains in a small laugh from the two veteran fighter's discomfort. "Every time she sees one, she crushes them in her hugs."

Medic grumbles, very happy that ponies are very study creatures and he can healing magic. If he had still been human, well he thinks he would've preferred getting eaten by that hydra than being killed by a child-acting adult dragon crushing his bones in a hug. "Don't go near Pyro; you will dearly regret it." Medic tells the assistance to the Administrator, thinking Miss Pauling does not deserve such an embarrassing death.

When Medic is the one warning her, Miss Pauling figures there is a good reason to listen. "Alright," and figures there is no reason staying around those three. She leaves them, having quite the surreal feeling that she is bit useless. The ponies of this village is somehow keeping the mercenaries in check and she does not have any duties for Helen so... well she has been doing small odd jobs for the town's mayor; mostly because she doesn't have anything else to do. It's a weird feeling, more so when this Major Mare actually puts her well-being into her thoughts, something she is not used to. It’s strange having so much free time, and honestly... Miss Pauling has no idea what to do with herself.

***

(Near Everfree forest)

Scout and Rainbow Dash let out a relieved laugh after have finally gotten Sniper off their tails from that thundercloud prank they pulled on him. "That was awesome." Scout grins, watching the griffin stalks away after have giving up the chase. Must admit that Scout is happy he is fast enough to both stay one step ahead Sniper and dodge his arrows. If not then Sniper would've probably tanned his hide for that prank.
Rainbow Dash laughs and lands on the cloud right beside him. "Who's next?" She asks devilishly.
Scout is about to make a suggestion but stops himself when he notices someone he has ever since Miss Pauling told them about when they would get back to the human world wanted to speak with. And finally seeing that backstabber, Scout has the chance. "Maybe some other time." Scout tells Rainbow Dash and flies off. The rainbow-haired pony shrugs and flies out to do her own thing.
Scout lands inside this creepy forest the ponies call Everfree, he searches for the changeling and when he does, he starts to trot over. "Spy!" He calls as it still feels wrong calling him that other word.

"Don't get any closer."

Scout is a bit confused over this command but he thinks he knows why. He won't be able to feel Spy's emotions from here, but he needs to feel them— he wants to feel them. So Scout does not obey. "We need to talk." Getting in close, he can feel Spy's feelings and is surprised Spy has a whole plethora of emotions. It takes him so much off guard that he does not voice what has been bothering him ever since he got hit by the truth of what Spy is to him. He only does when Spy starts to leave, Scout quickly catches up and stop the older one by stepping in front of him. "I need to know Spy; why are you trying so hard making me hate you? Why do you shun me away when you clearly care for me?" He demands as he is starting to get sick and tired keep thinking about this crap. Wondering what is real: the emotions he is sensing or the giant asshole he has been dealing with since day one when he became Mann Co new Scout. He has never questioned why Spy hated him so much, he simply figured the man just was spiteful in nature, but now; now he can’t stop thinking about it.
Of course, Spy refuses to tell him. "Come on, just tell me!" Scout snaps angrily, stepping forward. Spy looks as if he wants to step back but pride is keeping him on his spot, now Scout knows where he got that from; never been one to back down from a fight either. But unlike him, Spy can be very scary when he wants to, showing that when the full-blood changeling hisses and moves as if going to strike him. Scout backs away, and the only thing keeping him from taking the run for it is his own pride but also the emotions of sadness coming from Spy. He is starting to get sick of sensing emotions not fitting to what he sees. "What the hell is wrong with you?" He asks the glaring Spy.
The older changeling turns his back to him and for a moment Scout thinks Spy is going to leave again, but a sigh, followed by the emotions of resignation.

"Do you really want to know?"

Scout wants but the emotions coming from Spy makes him a bit unsure, still the need to know wins over his hesitations. "Yeah."

Spy sighs again, he sure hopes his reason will make Jeremy back off but he somewhat highly doubts it. Kid always wanted a father figure; one he wants to fill out but can't because of his job. "If you think the war games were bad, then you got nothing on the world war... after have done the worst mistake of my life, one there got my family and my whole hometown killed. I was taken in by an old agent and trained to become his successor, so I became a spy for the France government. I infiltrated both enemy and allies, gathered a lot of Intel- most of it ended up with a lot of people dead. I created a lot of enemies; never allowed to form an attachment as that would be a weakness my enemy would be more than happy use on me. I knew your mother before I became a spy, she had been my only source of solace but when I was advised by my superiors; I cut ties with her. When our path crossed again and she told me you were my son, and I felt obligated to ensure she and you at least had a decent life. This sense of obligation was first the reason why I returned to her house with an envelope of money every time I got the chance, but then, my reason of staying was for the hyper child of endless joy... I am not a man known much happiness in my life. I lost everything during the war, saw and often was the cause of so much death. So watching a child; so happy, so filled with life and dreams. It reminded me of the good in this world..."

"So why did you leave?" Scout asks quietly and no longer sure how to describe the one before him. He has completely forgotten that almost every mercenary on the teams had been fighting in the world war. He was lucky he was just a child, far away from the horrors when it was going.

"It came to my attention that people there wanted me dead caught scent I was in a relationship. So in order to keep you both safe; I had to leave and erase any signs I have ever been there." Spy replies and now he really would like a cigarette so he perhaps could calm his quite ragged nerves. "When Mann Co came to me with the promise they could keep me safe from the many people there wanted me dead. I agreed as not even my own country wanted me anymore. I stayed with Mann Co for years, as they promised; I was safe from my former enemies but still not fully because my mind hold secrets the Administrator wants and she has tried more than once blackmail me to hand her those secrets. Never worked though, but when I saw who the team new Scout would be; the same child there reminded me of the light in this dark world, now a young man— destined to get killed countless of times in the war games until the respawn would fail as it did on the former Scout. I was devastated but I knew that if the Administrator ever caught wind of my connection to you. She would use you to force- and I fear- succeed getting the information she wants out from me."

"Is that why you were such an asshole against me?" Spy nods slowly. Scout must admit that he is dumbfounded hearing this. Spy- his father has sort of been protecting him this whole time? Wow, just wow. That does also sort of explains why RED Spy agreed training him how to be around ladies- although he was still an ass about it but Scout guess the man did it to make sure his facade wouldn't break. And knowing all of this, he, well he can forgive Spy.

"Scout, don't." Spy warns his boy from the emotions he is sensing. He does not deserve forgiveness, he does not deserve this boy. "I can't be what you want me to be. It's too risky—" but again Scout completely ignores him, and with his iconic speed steps over and hugs him. Spy is completely taken off guard by this gesture and the love he gets from the boy. Scout is pushing him and he is unable to stop heading to the cliff, he feels himself falls over the edge he had been struggling to stay on ever since he saw Jeremy again, he cannot fight his true emotions towards his son anymore. Spy folds his head over his boy's neck in his way returning the hug, and his changeling instincts make him transfer the love he has gathered both from Zecora but also from the friendship he has made in his time here over to his boy.

Scout eyes wide in surprise, both from Spy- his dad is returning the hug— awkwardly— but mostly from the sense of a warm tingling seething into his body, filling him with a energy very familiar to what he gets from his new ponies friends, well not quite. This is way better! "Whatever you are doing, it fricking feels good." Scout says and is sort of happy no one can see them inside this forest for his need to get more of whatever his dad is giving him is making him step closer to the adult changeling, now pressing his head up against his father's chest as that is where the energy is coming from.

Scout's not the only one feeling good about this, letting out a sigh he seems to have held back for years, taking in this incredibly special and rare moment of bliss.

***
(In the human world.)

Spy- about to throw a Sapper onto a Soldier robot, stops midway when he is flooded with emotions he cannot ignore or push aside. They arrive so fast and sudden that he drops the Sapper and just stands there with a shocked expression on his usually stoic face. He only snaps out from it when a rocket from the Soldier-bot he tried to sap fires at him and only by dumb luck misses. He let out a curse and quickly turns on his invisibility watch, confused and startled why he is feeling like this, why he feels so... happy. He hasn't felt like this ever since the war. What is causing it? What is BLU Spy doing to cause so strong emotions of happiness? Usually, he would only feel a sort of contentment and at times happy but also sad- Spy knows that those emotions come when BLU Spy is around Zecora, but this is way different.
It was both really weird and disturbing having such strong blissful emotions while running around and trying to avoid getting blown up.
Fortunately having these strong emotions from the other part of his soul isn't causing any madness of longing, so that's a good thing right? This is so strange, Spy thinks as he finally gets around to put that Sapper onto the Soldier-bot.
He is about to move on, but stop in realization what is causing these emotions when Scout comes running and whack one of his robot lookalikes over the head with a gleeful; "Bonk!"
Did the BLU Spy really...? He must've told RED Scout, for why else would he be feeling like this? Not sure that's a good or bad thing, having his boy knowing means Scout knows Spy has never hated him but it will be hard making the kid understand he cannot be the father he wants.
Spy watches Scout run around and kill robots with that iconic speed of his, allowing himself to feel a touch of pride- that really easy with the flooding emotions he is getting from the BLU Spy. But this strange moment of bliss comes to a sudden halt when a giant Demo-bot appears and blow almost up half of the team with its bombs. To his horror, Scout is one of them. If he hasn't been affected by BLU Spy's emotions, he would've only returned back to respawn, waiting for the kid to return while cloaked. But that he cannot— will not do. An instinct he awoke when he realized that one child was the light to his miserable life, one he buried so deep down he could when his son became Scout and has so far been able to keep down, but not with the strong emotions he is getting from BLU Spy. He runs over to the blast site, throws several Sappers onto the robot and with it stalled. He grabs the wounded but still alive Scout away from the glitching out robot and pulls him over to where he spotted Medic who is currently busy healing Engineer who just barely had survived that blast himself.
"Doctor!" He calls and has to shield his face when Ignis throws himself at the giant robot like a living meteor; blasting the robot to smithereens.
Medic looks up and straight away sends the healing beam onto the wounded speedster. The wounds close and Scout slowly gets around. For a moment he forgot that RED isn't the enemy and in a state of panic searches for a weapon or escape route.
Engineer puts a hand on the frighten Scout. "Easy there boy, we're not out to hurt you."

Scout calms slowly down, muttering as if being offended. "I knew that."

Engineer chuckles and with a quick thanks to Medic, runs out to help the others get rid of the hoard of Heavy-bots. Spy hesitates for a moment, has to more than once remind himself he cannot get too soft around Scout and leaves, but stop when Scout voice asks him confused. "Why did you save me? I thought you loved to see me getting killed."
Again he has to remind himself he cannot do the same as BLU Spy did, it is not safe. So without a word, he leaves.

Scout blows a raspberry in annoyance, more so when he cannot figure out why he's not as angry at mister sky-mask as he usually is. In fact, he wants to be around him. It's annoying as hell, for why would he ever want that? Spy hate him and has never hidden that fact. And yet, ever since Sniper and Heavy recovered from whatever was going on with them, Spy has changed; not as mean as he used to be, in fact, he is starting – Ugh, why is he thinking about this?! He should be out there, kicking robot ass! Grabbing a new scattergun, Scout runs out to help the others fight those stupid Heavy-bots, and he does a good job stunning them with his baseballs but no matter how much he tries, he cannot stop himself from searching after Spy.
When he does find the snake, it is because that snake has protected his back and shot a Spy-bot there had tried to backstab him. Okay, this is getting weird. "Um, thanks?" Scout doesn't get an answer, only a simple nod before Spy cloaks again and out of sight once again. Scout hesitates but like Spy, he returns back to fight the robot army, something he is more at ease with, yeah sure, he is feeling quite weird around the snake and sort of wish he knew why he has this need to be around him. But that mystery has to wait till after the hoard of killer robots.

***

(Everfree forest.)

“What are you thinking about?” Scout finally asks after have tried to figure out why Spy- his dad is having a strange mix of hope and sadness going through him. He wonders what is causing it. for not long ago, Spy was happy. It’s a bit hard knowing when Spy is looking at him thanks to those glassy blue eyes, but Scout thinks he is since his head is slightly tilted backward; towards him.

Spy’s first instinct is to brush the question off but stops himself in last second when he realizes that he won’t be unable to lie around Scout as long they are in this world. He cannot hide behind a mask around his boy, that is very annoying and also uncomfortable for Spy as he does not like being honest. And yet, a small voice in him whispers that this forced honesty has been what gave him this second chance for what he saw as a pipedream. The changeling in them may have kickstarted this, but Spy is still not comfortable revealing his true emotions by voice. “This has changed a lot.” He replies carefully, again having to remind himself that lying will be impossible around Scout in this world “I… I am a bit... at a loss how to handle this, how to ensure both our safety.”

… Oh, Scout forgot for a moment that Spy here has a lot of enemies— the reason why he stayed away in the first place. His ears drop of what Spy will do. “So… you want to pretend there is nothing between us?”

He would, it will make everything so much easier, but feeling Scout’s sadness, unintentionally throws him back to the day where he left Scout as child- which had been bad enough. Sighing, Spy muses. “It would be safer.” but part of him- the reckless side wants to take the risk if it gives him a chance for happiness. The spy side of him, trained to think logical won’t take that chance, though. And like most other times, it is the trained side there wins. “It shouldn’t be hard, we barely know one anoth—”

“I can’t just pretend there is nothing between us!” Scout interrupts Spy, he shoots the black bug-horse a glare, although there is more desperation than anger in his grey eyes. “And I know you can’t either! Just thinking about it hurts you!”

“It doesn't matter what I want.” Spy argues with a rather leveled voice, although his emotions betray it and he hates that Scout can see right through him this very moment and know he too wants this pipedream being a family as a reality. “All that matters is that you stay safe, although you are making that very hard with your reckless behavior.” He remarks to Scout, not only trying to convince the boy that this is for the best.

Scout tail makes a quick swipe in a sign of his annoyance, the only thing keeping him from throwing insults back at Spy is what he is sensing from the other. All that grief is starting to hurt him, it reminds him of the pain he felt when he stood before the darker vision of Spy. “Just… Just stop it.” He almost begs Spy, stepping over and nuzzles his head against his dad’s neck; Spy stiffens up by the touch. “It hurts me too.” He muses, wishing more than ever that he can make this pain go away. It is maybe a bit childish of him, but Scout wants to feel that happiness from Spy again, not this stinging pain he is getting now.
The regret he can do without too, but that’s partly his own fault for not voicing this pain he is getting from Spy better.

 

Noticing his son is starting to get mentally fatigue from his negative emotions, Spy wants to make it better by having positive emotions but he knows that no one can shift their emotions on command. He sighs in defeat, knowing that, once again, his boy is pushing him over a line he can never return from. Not because he can, ignoring the parental emotions can be easy, but Spy… he doesn’t want to ignore them anymore now that he finally has his boy within his reach. He nuzzles Scout’s head gently, musing softly in defeat. “Alright, we’re doing this your way.” He senses surprise from his boy, then relief and Scout smiles up to him. Spy is about to tell him that they need to plan out how to work this out, but sort of forgets in favor of his maternal instinct kicking when Scout yawns from the exhausting of having to deal with his mess of emotions.
He nudges Scout gently. “Come.” and brings his boy over to Zecora's hut. Inside he prepares a bed and makes the boy lie down."You should get some rest." Spy is about to leave but stops when Scout's asks him in a low voice. "Can't you stay?" Followed by an embarrassed wave. Spy smiles lightly that his boy realized his question sounded very much like something belonging to a small child. Still, he does not tease Scout for it as this has been more than he has been hoping for. It's a wonder how fast Scout has forgiven all his mistreatment against him. Spy lies down beside him and hesitates, not sure what he should do now.

Scout finds this amusing and with a light laugh. "Never thought the know-it-all spy would be unsure about anything." He curls together so his right shoulder and back touches Spy's left hoof and side. He glances up to the adult changeling from the feeling of mild amusement coming from him, Spy's face isn't showing it though. "Shit you have the world's best poker face ever." He remarks. This time he got a reaction out from his old man. Spy makes a sound there sounds to be a mix of a cough and a snort. "Go to sleep already." Spy says, placing his head on Scout's back. "You have ruined my image enough for today." Scout cannot help but laugh at this nor points out. "You're fucking weird." but he must admit that feeling the gentle and soothing feeling of the more positive emotions is very nice. Letting out a yawn, Scout finally goes to sleep, thinking that even though his father isn't the man he has been hoping for; he's still content.

Zecora returns home to a both strange but very heartwarming sight of Spy lying beside an old colt sleeping with a peaceful smile on his face. She walks quietly over to them, Spy doesn't turn to her when he says in a quiet tone. "He's my son." and the tone of pride does not go unnoticed by the zebra. She lies down beside him, letting her head touches his. "I see your son makes you warm of pride like the sun."

Spy smiles, glancing down at the sleeping young stallion. "That he does." And the smile falters. "Both he and I want this but I won't be able to be his father when we return back to the human world. Too many people want to hurt me through him and I fear he might one day slip up about this secret." Spy glances at her. "He's not known to be the quiet secretive type."

Zecora chuckles lightly, mostly as that it the complete opposite of Spy. "To be fair, it is clear you deeply care. So I know your son getting harmed will cause you much alarm."

Spy nods slowly, and his urge of wanting to stay here only gets bigger as only here he is allowed to truly be the father Jeremy deserves. "I want to stay." He presses gently his head against hers in a whisper, but if what Heavy and his son have told them is true. Then they have to return in order to figure out a way to become whole again. He needs the RED Spy as much his counterpart needs him. "but I can't... I have to go back..."

Bearing this breaks her heart, Zecora wants Spy to stay as much he wants to but they both know this has to be done. "I do not know how long a human lives but we ponies have hundreds of years before our loved ones should shred their tears."

He knows she said this to give him hope, but knowing she will live hundreds of years is sort of depressing. "We humans will be lucky if we reach the seventy."

"Unite your soul, I will wait for your return when you have become whole." Zecora says. She does not care if she will outlive him, every moment with him will be worth it.
Spy kisses her, it feels sad and yet hopeful. "I will return, I promise." She smiles and nuzzles Spy son's messy mane gently, the young stallion stirs a bit but does not wake. Looking up from the sense his muzzle touching her neck, Spy smiles down to her. "Don't judge him if he doesn't accept you right away. He is still hopeful I will get back with his mother." Zecora nods that she understands, but does hope Spy's firstborn will accept her over time, for she does love his father dearly.

Chapter Text

Scout awakes early and takes a moment to realize what the bit heavy thing on his shoulder is. He is surprised to see that Spy- no his father hasn't left his side after he asked his old man to stay. From how his father is lying, Scout highly doubts he will get anywhere without waking him and—who is that female horse? Scout blinks seeing a mare sleeping beside his father, a very weird mare. She looks kinda like a zebra— hold up, that is the pony named Zecora? This must be how she looks like without her Halloween costume. Why is she here? He winches slightly when this mare opens her eyes and looks straight at him, she smiles gently.

"It is warming to see the young one awake this lovely morning."

"Huh?" Scout blinks, taken by surprise that she speaks like this, he thought she only spoke like that as part of the show. The zebra raises her head, clearly amused by his confusions. "You will in time get used to I prefer speaking in rhymes. What class name does the son of my dear spy reclaim?"
Okay, this is both weird and kinda cool at the same time. "Uh Scout." He introduces himself to the zebra.

Zecora nods in greeting. "I welcome you to my home, it is not much but I am quite comfortable in this humble zone." The colt smiles weakly before both turn their gaze to Spy who mumbles a bit in his sleep. She knows it is rude but from the looks of Scout; he has gotten enough lying around. "Move out your place will make him awake, I am sure he will forgive you for causing his head quite the ache." She muses out loud in her pretend to wonder.  

Scout is starting to like this zebra, she has a good sense of humor. And taking her small advice, Scout leaves his spot, making his father's head drop to the floor. The changeling snaps awake and curses out something in French. Scout quickly points at the zebra, he knows how dangerous BLU Spy can be when angry. "She suggested it!" Winching from the small offended stare she sends him.

"Shift the blame my young Scout does not change the guilt you want to shout." Zecora says in a huffy tone, much to her satisfaction the colt shift on his hooves from his embarrassment.

Caressing his sour jaw from hitting the floor and get a very rude awaking, Spy points out to Scout. "Zecora right, she might've suggested it, but you went on with it. So the blame is partly on you too." But that does not make his dear zebra blameless, he turns to her smirking. "And shame on you; how dare you to beguile his questionable mind."

With a smirk on like Spy, Zecora nudges her head against his. "I cannot evade your son is easy to persuade."

"Hm, so true." Spy agrees and would've kissed her if not:

"Hey! I am standing right here!" Scout retorts greatly annoyed these two are teasing him.

Spy eyes the amused Zecora once, before turning to Scout. "You know we're right." He retorts back, Scout blows a raspberry, much to his amusement. Spy gets up and steps over to his son. Pulling him close so he can do something that feels equally nice to him. He lets the love he has transferred over to his son.
Like yesterday, Scout instinctively moves closer to his chest and where this energy is coming from, but this time he cannot do it as long as yesterday. Spy hasn't as much in him at the moment. He stops the transfer and steps away. "That's all I can give you for now." He tells his son.

"Man, it felt sooo good" Scout groans joyfully from getting more of the tasteless and yet delicious energy from his father. It powers his body like nothing else, eyeing his old man curious. "What the hell is it?" For he has no idea what it is.

Zecora gets on her hooves, no need getting explained what Spy have just done to his half changeling son. "Little Changeling cub, your kind feeds on love."

"Love?" Scout blinks, as in real love? He turns to his father and the older changeling nods, saying; "What you felt was the love I have gathered from other ponies. I can't feed you with my own love as I cannot convert it into—"
"Hold the freaking phone." Scout interrupts him for he is still quite startled that creatures in this world can feed on love and he is one of them. "Are you saying I just ate love?"

Spy nods. "Yes."

Throwing up his hooves. "Un-freaking-believable! Now I see why the ponies call you a love sucker! What I have been feeling all this time; is that me draining them?!"

"Of course not." Spy shakes his head and decides it might be best explaining to his son what he has learned about this form. "In my time here I have figured three ways for a changeling to feed. What you are sensing now is the passive form; it works much like a small snack but it won't keep us going for long. The two other ways are much more effective. A changeling can force out the love from other ponies, it steals their energy and not only does that form of feeding hurt but at extreme draining it will put the pony in a small coma." Spy taps on his chest. "and then there is what I did moments ago. Let it be real love or friendship, if a pony willingly shares it with a changeling, they feed the changeling; and the pony won't be harmed."

Oh, well that makes sense he guesses, Scout thinks. Ever since he befriended some of the ponies, he has been pumped with energy and barely needed any real food. Seems like he now lives on friendship, and that is really funny in some weird way. "So simply being someone's friend is enough?" His father nods and says with a thoughtful frown. "However I do think you can draw energy from normal food as well." That comment does surprises Scout a bit. "What?" He chuckles weakly. "You will starve if not around friends?"
Spy eyes him and nods slowly. "Food cannot sustain me in this form." Wow, that is really weird and now that Scout thinks about it; scary as well. Spy has never tried to befriend the rest of the team, but now he needs that friendship in order to stay alive. Getting friends with them is easier said than done and the town's ponies are still scared of Spy after that wedding, so... "How were you able to feed me then?" He asks, for if his conclusion is right, then Spy would be starving at the moment.

Spy turns his gaze to Zecora, giving the zebra a warm smile. "I'm lucky there is someone who loves me."

Hold up, "You're a thing?" Scout asks startled, about to voice how wrong that is since—she is a horse and Spy is—
"Scout, do me the favor and don't go there." His father interrupts him, followed by emotions of sadness but also love— not aimed at him this time but at this zebra.      
"What about ma?" Scout asks as he had been hoping his father and ma would get together again, and... well now knowing the truth he is a bit more okay with Spy infinity her.

Of course, his boy would ask that but Spy can't really blame him. "She and I agreed that it was time to go our separate ways."

"But—"

"Scout, I still care a lot for your mother, but the love I once felt for her has faded." Spy says in a tone he does not want to talk about it anymore. It was hard to leave her, but it was for the best and he has gotten better, more so when Zecora came into his life. Spy is now sort of happy Scout can feel his emotions as he got the hint and drops the subject instead of pressing him as most likely would've.

"Scout, isn't my love to your father proof enough?" Zecora asks the colt, finally deciding to speak now the moment between father and son is over. "I know this causes you some distress but forcing your parents together without love is bad to obsess."

Scout drops his head, disappointed in this fact but Zecora has a point. "Yeah... I guess you're right." What right does he have making two people who do not love one another anymore come together? It sucks but from what he is sensing between his father and this Zecora, it is clear they love one another. Still bit weird his father is dating a zebra, though.  

Well, that went fast. Zecora is truly a miracle worker. Spy nuzzles his son's head once and steps over to his beloved Zebra, giving her the kiss he forgot to give her earlier. He smirks feeling Scout's small discomfort and decides that perhaps it is best getting his boy back before a certain pink haired pegasus will get a heart attack from the worry he is certain she will feel from not knowing where her houseguest has been all night. "Come, let's get you back to Fluttershy." He says and with a quick kiss on Zecora's cheek, Spy leaves the hut with Scout close behind. On the way back to Ponyville, Spy explains to Scout how important it is that they do not show their relationship with one another when around other ponies nor the team. "And especially not around Miss Pauling, she will report it to the Administrator and that's the last thing we want." He points out firmly

Scout can take all this vigilance if it means they won’t be forced to pretend there is nothing between them. "Got it." Hold up, what if Spy still wants to pretend he isn’t his old man? Scout eyes him, asking hopefully that his worries are nothing but his thoughts. "I can still visit you, right?" A wave of mild amusement followed by Spy chuckle eases his mind.

Oh, how his boy has deflated his spamming mouth and ego simply from being around him for a day, doubts it will stay that way, though. "If you are careful and try not get spotted." Scout smiles with the emotions of joy surrounding him. Again unable to help himself— he blames the effect from kid's constant emotions, Spy stroke his head over Scout's head before snapping into the mask of his class name. "Now, here is what you are going to tell the others if they ask where you have been."

***

(At Fluttershy's cottage)

Twilight takes Medic and Demo over to Fluttershy, wanting to show them how they should do the show with the critters. Fluttershy is quite reluctant to the idea but does agree. The pegasus gather some of the animals and lies down before them, ensuring them although it's more herself there needs it than her animals. "Don't be scared, little friends. Twilight is wonderful with magic." She ensures the animals, adding hard to Twilight as the mere thought her animals friends getting hurt is very distressing. "Anything happens to them, Twilight, so help me...!" Spike steps in between them, telling the nervous pegasus as he leads her a bit away. "Aww, don't worry, Fluttershy, Twilight's magic has gotten a lot better since she accidentally crushed me and Applejack with a giant snowball." Twilight shoots Medic and Demo a glare for laughing at Spike's comment before turning to Fluttershy with a sheepishly smile.

Fluttershy knows Twilight is good with magic, she has seen her friend magical skills several times. "Of course she's good with magic— Twilight's great with magic. I guess I just don't want my little friends to be scared." And goes in straight in PANIC mode. "Look how scared they are!"

Everyone turns to the animals, and only Fluttershy does not see how excited they are about this.

Demo pokes Medic's shoulder, getting the bit taller unicorn's attention. "Oh yes, they are so terrified." He remarks in a mocking tone. Medic smirks as a reply and both returns back to the scene of Twilight ensuring Fluttershy nothing will happen to the animals.

The purple unicorn then walks over to the awaiting animals, calling to the two turned humans. "Now look closely you two." Activating her magic there surrounds the animals. She does not start the small show as Fluttershy panics, eyeing her friend for a moment before she returns her attention back to the animals and starts the levitation show. She makes them fly up to the air and into a circle, then splits them up, making the two groups fly between one another and finishes off by making them fly into an infinity sign.

"Twilight, that looks amazing!" Spike cheers at the sight.

Smiling Twilight puts the chittering in joy animals back onto the ground. They run over to her, jumping up and down in excitement. She gives them a small smile. "That's all for now, little ones. Maybe we can practice again later if Fluttershy says it's alright." And the animals run over to the shivering on the ground Fluttershy, Twilight has a pretty good guess they are asking Fluttershy if it's okay.
She turns to the two stallions who should at week's end be able to do this. She opens her mouth to explain to them how to do it properly, but just then, something reminding Twilight of a strange lightning bolt speed past her. Turing to check what it is, she sees Scout now lying upside down against the nearest tree, the almost adult colt gives them a cheeky smile. "Hey, guys!"

Fluttershy recovers from her panic mode about the animals and asks both worried but also relived her houseguest is alright as Rainbow ensured her last night when Scout went into the Everfree forest after his father. "Scout, you're alright." She jumps over to the colt. "Oh, I was so worried." Scout gets up from the ground, shaking the leaves off him. "I'm fine, nothing can keep up with me after all!" He boasts his chest.

Medic rolls his eyes, not one bit impressed. "Unless you have to dodge obstacles."  

"Hey, it's harder than it looks, okay!" Scout snaps, these speed boost he can make when on high enough energy makes him very fast but he yet hasn't figured out how to properly steer. Scout has a feeling it’s because of his tattered wings, that or he’s just going too fast. "You try and see you can do better- oh wait, I forgot; you don't have these babies." Flapping his wings and with a laugh takes to the sky before the two can do some of their weird magic on him. Also so he does not have to explain what he has been all night, Spy's story is good but he doesn't think he can pull the lie properly off.

Fortunately for Scout, the two older stallions are busier either rolling their eyes or throw back a few insults than question where he has been since yesterday, for really; they don't care. However, the three turned humans all forget their small insult contest when Rainbow Dash; now the speedy one, tackles Twilight onto the ground, however not because of a failed practice round.  
"Twilight! Come quick! It's an emergency!" She tells the unicorn and drags Twilight with her. "Trixie is back!" Twilight gasps and quickly follows the blue pegasus.
The three mercenaries decide to follow, Fluttershy decides to stay behind, well aware she won't be much help.

Scout lands and gallop beside the two mares, asking as from their emotions, they consider the return of this Trixie seriously. "Whoa, whoa; who is Trixie?"

"She is a fraud unicorn who thought she was better than anypony." Rainbow replies.

"Doesn't that sound familiar." Demo chuckles, both Scout and Rainbow Dash shoots him a glare, Rainbow does quickly shake the bit offending remark off. "Yeah well, she couldn't back up her bragging and when Twilight beat her with magical skills; Trixie left, but now she's back and casting spells on anypony! She has already taken out Soldier and Heavy!" The four gasp, finally realizing how serious this must be if Soldier- who fights the Everfree forest beasts daily and Heavy who is their strongest member cannot handle this unicorn.

***
(Ponyville town square)

A red beam of magic hits Derpy, and a band clams around her eyes, removing her sight. The mare starts to panic in the horrific thought that she has lost her sight permanently, she crashes to the ground, crying of one of her worst fears coming true. Sniper runs over, ensuring her. "It's only a band covering your eyes."  
Sobbing, Derpy nods slowly and sits down. "I'm sorry I couldn't be more help..." She apologizes and feels like a really lousy element bearer.

Sniper nudges her shoulder. "No worries." Before he turns to the one causing so much havoc, he takes out his silver bow and arrow, aiming at the unicorn currently busy transfigure horrid clothing onto Rarity. "You bloody prancing show pony." He whispers angrily and shoots. Before the sleep-inducing arrow hits its target the unicorn stops it in midflight and with: "Ah ah, it is not yet time to finish up my great and powerful show!" and fires the arrow back, Sniper dodges it thanks to his agility, but poor Engineer isn't that lucky and he drops to the ground fast asleep. "Ah, bugger..." Sniper swears from they have lost one of the team's smarter people. He pulls out another arrow, this time taking flight but before he can make the shot, the unicorn hits him with a beam and he crashes to the ground and god-awful ugly dog collar appears around his neck with a chain attaching itself to the ground. "You bloody piker!" He roars while struggling to get free from this embarrassing dog chain.

The others arrive about there, seeing the scene of Pinkie and Applejack putting a pink sheet around the heartbroken looking Rarity who is in some horrible looking dress. Soldier trapped in a strap-jacket, Heavy trying desperately trying to stand but cannot because of the constant soap forming around his hooves. Derpy has been temporarily blinded by a band clamped around her eyes, Engineer sleeping thanks to a powerful stunning spell and lastly Sniper almost breaking his own neck to get free from the dog chain.
Seeing this made especially Rainbow Dash angry. "I show you not to pick on my friends!" and tackles into Trixie. The unicorn stumbles but even lying on the ground, she still able to cast her spell. Rainbow's right wing turns twice its size, making her flight impossible, she yelps in surprises and although she does a decent attempt recovering, she still crashes to the ground.

Two unicorn colts laugh at that scene. "Oh! She's Rainbow Wobble, now!" The smallest of them exclaims up to his taller friend there agrees with a laugh, turning to Trixie. "Good spell, oh Great and Powerful Trixie!"
But Trixie did not approve of those two praises and with a spell, she fuses their horns together, forcing the first to hang upside down onto the other. The two colts start running around like a pair of headless chickens as if hoping that would put them back to normal.

A certain light grey stallion got quickly enough watching such idiocy and stops them with a freezing spell. "Dummkopf! Stay still already!"

Twilight turns to the unicorn causing all this havoc, demanding Trixie hard. "Stop picking on my friends, Trixie!" But that blue, white-haired unicorn is way more interested in seeing her here than stop tormenting Twilight's friends. "Well, well, well. If it isn't... Twilight Sparkle." Trixie steps forward to the purple unicorn, saying with her usual boastful tone. "You and I have some unfinished business. My magic's gotten better since I was here last. And I'm going to prove it! Me and you, a magic duel." Pointing at the edge of the town" Winner stays, loser leaves Ponyville forever!" The last she cries gleefully and for a moment her eyes light a dim red.
Twilight didn't notice the red glow though, she is too busy being mad over what Trixie has done to her friends. "Forget it! I'd never make a deal like that! Now stop your bullying this instant!" She demands, stomping her hoof in anger.

Trixie chuckles amused over this now ordinary unicorn thinks she can command the GREAT and POWERFUL Trixie around, she thinks not! "Your choice." She turns her magic onto Twilight little pet dragon and forces him into a ball shape, Spike yelps in both pain and fear as Trixie bounces him around like a real ball.

Twilight quickly turns her own magic on Spike, releasing him from this very uncomfortable position and pushes the whimpering Spike behind her so Trixie won't use her magic on him again. "Why are you doing this?" She demands the other unicorn.

"Why?" Trixie asks angrily, now her turn to stomp the ground.  "Because you humiliated me!" She conjures her own memories onto a screen there reminds the mercenaries about a conjecture, not that she noticed their reaction, she is way busier telling Twilight about her humiliation. "After you showed me up with that Ursa Minor, I became a laughing stock! Everywhere I went I was laughed at and ostracized. I even had to take a job on a rock farm just to earn a living! A rock farm!"

Pinkie steps forward very offended how this unicorn cried over have been working on a rock farm. "Hey! You're lucky a rock farm would take the likes of you!" She cries, blinking when Trixie conjure up an arrow and to her great distress, this arrow pulls off her mouth and throws it into a conjuring trashcan. Now unable to talk, all she can do is mumble how not cool this is.

Medic and Demo stares at her in disbelief, both desperately trying to figure out how to defeat someone who can do stuff like that! It is way beyond their experience fighting each other and giant robots. Hell, this is more they ever had to deal with when fighting Soldier's crazy wizard roommate!

Gleeful she has the power over these fools. "Now I want revenge! And I'll just keep casting spells until you agree." She cast a spell on Twilight's home, making the whole tree library float into the air and turn upside down, making Twilight's beloved books fall out, not even that owl can stop it. "Well? What do you say?"

Looking around, seeing all the horrible things Trixie has already done and know she will keep doing it until she agrees, Twilight reluctantly agrees to Trixie's terms. "Alright, Trixie." She gently pushes Spike away, he runs over to the remaining turned humans for cover. Twilight turns to that arrogant and going over the line unicorn. "Let's duel!"

Trixie smirks. "Excellent." And with a sharp flash of her magic, everypony she has cast spells on is back to normal, well except Pinkie; Trixie does not want to hear on that one. The olive green stallion did not get the hint she is better than anyone as he charges at her again, rolling her eyes, she conjures up a box and throws that annoying pegasus stallion inside. The cross-eyed grey pegasus flies over to the box with a very distressed look on her face, closely followed by a brown unicorn there tries but will fail to get him out. With that nuisance out of the way: "If I lose, I won't set hoof in Ponyville again. But if you lose, you're the one banished from this one-horse town!" Twilight friends' gasps, which Trixie completely ignores. "Draw!" and throws a spell on an applecart, making it fall over to a crowd of ponies.
Twilight catches it before it hits a tripped pony and puts it safely back to the ground.

Sensing this Trixie will use the locals as cannon fodder, Sniper takes flight, "Moves it peo- I mean ponies! You don't want stick around for this!" He commands them and does not has to say that twice. The town's ponies leave the area, stopping to watch at a safer distance. Those staying around are all those connected to the Elements of Harmony. He lands beside Heavy, both now watching Twilight summons a strange insect there easily eats all the pies Trixie throws at her. Both blinks when that one insect throws up another and Twilight dismisses those two with an annoyed grunt; clearly, she has dealt with those before.
Then everyone looks up when Trixie makes a whole cloud of snow and drops it onto the area, covering them all in snow.

Heavy brushes the snow off, grunting. "This is stupid." Watching Twilight use a heat spell to remove the snow. "We should help Twilight." Giving Sniper an annoyed stare when the griffin throws a wave of water on him by shaking. Sniper isn't sorry about it though and asks just as annoyed. "And what do you suggest we do against that?" Pointing at Twilight and Trixie showing off their magical powers. "Throw some rocks at her?"
Heavy grunts again, but he can see Sniper has a point. People like them do not stand a chance against this world's true magic users, doubt even with weapons they would stand a chance.

Of course, Scout did not realize that, before any of the others can stop him; Scout charges at Trixie. A bit to their surprise he does hit her but before any of them can get over and help Twilight defeat this magic user. Trixie traps Scout in a levitation spell.

"Ah good, I could use a volunteer for my next act." Trixie smirks up at this very strange looking colt. "Thanks for volunteering."

"Fuck you!"

Well, this one surely lacks the manner. Trixie is not impressed, so perhaps he should get a do-over. She shoots her magic on him, the colt gasps of the magic surrounding him and in a sharp flash, she drops the now really young colt onto the ground. However unlike most colts, there would cry from that action, this weird looking colt sits up with a huge angry pout on his face, fighting to hold back the tears.

The mercenaries and the mares are all in shock seeing this, Twilight as well. "An age spell? But... how could you do an age spell? That's only for the highest level unicorns!" She exclaims dumbfounded Trixie did it when she proved last time she wasn't that good at magic.

Trixie brushes her necklace smugly. "Well, Twilight? Give up?" She taunts with a sweet smile, well aware Twilight cannot win and enjoys every moment of this ordinary unicorn fighting against the evadible.

"Try Twilight." Heavy says, for he really does not want to explain to Spy why his son has been turned into a small child. He knows how cruel and persistent Spy can be when pissed and he would prefer not having to go through that outside the War Games and without respawn to count on.

Twilight takes a deep breath and turns her magic on full power onto Scout, he gets lifted into the air but no matter how much she pushes her magic, she does not have the training nor skills to do such a spell and the young colt drops to the ground again. The only thing saving him from getting another hard landing is a levitation spell from Demo, Scout lifts his hooves with a huge smile on his face. "Again! Again!" He laughs, not realizing what she has been trying, he only knew that being levitated is fun.

Trixie laughs at her rivals great failure like she knew from the start TRIXIE is the greatest unicorn! "Trixie is the highest level unicorn! And now it's time for you to leave Ponyville! FOREVER!" She shouts, the magic of her amulet makes her eyes shine red. Of course, Twilight's friends do one futile attempt on stopping her exile.

"That's enough, Trixie!" Applejack shouts.

"You proved your point," Rarity says, shaking her head. "But you can't possibly expect Twilight to leave Ponyville!"

Sniper pulls out his weapon, aiming an arrow at the Trixie. "She won't" Heavy, Medic, Demo, and Derpy join, Scout trots over to them too, doing some kind of song and completely ruins their offensive position. Derpy can't help but daaw at this, the four turned humans sends the team speedster an unsure look of what they should do with him, then snaps back to Trixie when she starts laughing.

"She is already gone!"

A red aura surrounds Twilight and hurls the unicorn out from the town. Twilight's friends follow, the mercenaries do as well with Derpy carrying the young foal to Scout.
Twilight lands outside town and before she can return back, a huge fishbowl appears above the town and separates her from her friends.
Heavy tackles into it, but the large crack he made fixed itself up, much to his annoyance.
Twilight puts her hoof onto the spot where Spike has his claws, ensuring all of them. "It's okay, guys. I'll figure something out."

"Perhaps Pyro can break this barrier?" Medic suggests thoughtfully.

It is a good idea but Twilight is unsure it would be wise letting a fire happy dragon near a town filled with houses made out of tree. "I will ask Zecora for help first. If she doesn't have anything, well, I'll get a hold on our second dragon." The group nods, Twilight takes one step, then turns her gaze back to her trapped friends. "Take care of each other. And keep an eye on Trixie. There's something strange about her." And with that, she runs off.

"Twilight?" Spike calls after her, feeling lost watching her leave. Blinking he looks up from a very young child voice whimpers. "It hurt..." noticing it is the foal turned Scout.

Medic titles his head of what the now turned child has said. "Does age spell hurts?" Not sure what to think about it, for in one hand it is possible the body and partly the mind is aware he shouldn't be in that age, but on the other hand, would a child like Scout even be aware?

But Heavy knows better of why Scout is feeling distressed. "Scout can sense emotions." He explains, eyeing the wimping kid in Derpy's hooves. "That what hurt baby Scout."

"Me no baby." Scout grumbles, and yet he still clings to Derpy like a child his age would. For him, he does not know this form isn't normal. His mind and body are completely in the age of the age he has been forced into.

Sniper somehow finds that amusing. "Heh, even in that age, he tries to be such a tough little bastard." But now to the big question. "What should we do with him? I doubt miss Show pony is going to turn him back."

"I can take care of him." Derpy says, throwing this young colt gently up and down in her hooves, making him giggle madly. "I love children."

That's one problem solved, so now to the one who caused all this mess. "We better keep an eye out for Trixie." Applejack suggests.

"And perhaps inform Miss Pauling what has happened." Medic points out and speaking of her. "Where is she anyway?" He hasn't seen much of her the time she has been here.

"Oh, she was inside Twilight's library the last time I saw her." Rainbow Dash replies. Two seconds later everyone realizes that if Miss Pauling had been in there then she would've been thrown around when Trixie cast that anti-gravity spell on it. Rainbow winches of the thought and yet; "I gotta see this." She grins and flies off.
The others follow at a slower pace.

Chapter Text

(Pyro's cave)

"I can set the big fishbowl on fire." Pyro suggests after have heard what has happened to the others. "My friends do not deserve being trapped with the mean pony."

"Yes, Protector will burn fishbowl." Rover nods in agreement along with the few other Diamond Dogs.

"... I think your flames might do more harm than good." Twilight declines with a weak smile, the dragoness pouts disappointed but fortunately does not argue. It does make Twilight's real reason coming here a tad easier. "But I would like to teach you how to send letters with your fire breath, you want to learn that?"

Pyro claps her claws excitedly. "Yes, yes! Please teach me!"

So Twilight teaches Pyro the trick and when sure this fire happy dragoness got it right and won't burn the paper but instead transfer it. Twilight writes the letter to Celestia about the problems she is currently dealing with and requests a good advice or perhaps a helping hoof as she cannot defeat Trixie on her own.
With the letter done, she gives it to Pyro and with a giggle, the dragoness transfers the letter. When the magical fire is gone. "Now we wait."

(human world)

Ignis had been about to destroy a fast approaching army of Soldier-bots but instead when something lands on his head, he, in his startle blows up the whole sector. Sure he got the robots, but the mercenaries were in that area as well."Sorry! My bad!" He calls out to the fortunately still alive humans.

"You are worse than Pyro and Soldier combined!!" Sniper shouts greatly irritated as he digs himself out from the rubble there used to be his sniping nest and grumbling moves out to find another perk to snipe from.

After have checked if his sentry can be salvaged, Engineer leaves the clearly dead machine, walking over to the chuckling in embarrassing fire user. "It at times like these I am glad Merrasmus put a protective spell on us." Otherwise, all Ignis explosion would've killed them a lot more. Well, at least the respawn is up again.

"Sorry, I thought another sticky bomb landed on my head." Ignis chuckles embarrassed.

Engineer joins him lightly, yeah, he knows the feeling being paranoid, dealing with the same thing when it comes to spies. And even though Ignis cannot die of old age, he can still get killed: it's just very hard thanks to Ignis rapid healing. Looking down, Engineer notices something there doesn't belong to this picture. "What's this?" He picks up a bit burned scroll and opens it.

'Dear princess Celestia.
I am so sorry to say this, but perhaps it is best you postpone the delegate visit at Ponyville. You see, a unicorn is causing a lot of trouble at the moment, she is using magic such as an age spell–something she could not do last time we met. I tried to defeat her in a magic duel but ended up failing and she exiled me from Ponyvile and in turn, separated me from all of my friends. Do you know what I can do to fix this?
Your faithful student Twilight Sparkle'

"Huh, so that place is real." Engineer muses, remembering from his dreams about a pony with that name. Weird they got a letter from that place. He hands it to Ignis. "Does this ring any bell to you?"
Ignis gasp surprised before he starts reading the letter intensely before he does some kind of spell on it.
"Well?" Engineer asks.

This is the best news he has gotten these last one thousand years, Merasmus did tell him that Celestia and Luna were still alive but never told that his little sunshine has decided to become a teacher in magic. It brings him such pride knowing that his oldest daughter has taken after their mother. Anyway, back to this misplaced letter. "I recognize this form of magic. It comes from a Drake; way more magical compared to other dragon species." Ignis explains the short man and is a bit surprised one of those wingless dragons still has his magic signature in their memory. He wasn't aware Drakes lived that long, he only thought they could be around those six hundred or so. He would very much like to write back on this letter, perhaps hear how it is going in his home world but first: destroy robots. "I would very much like return this letter to the Drake there send it, perhaps it's an old friend of mine." Ignis says.

"Alrighty then, could you also ask if that Drake happens to know our clones?" Engineer requests, since he did recognize that name from his dreams. Ignis nods and with a new wave of robots approaching they run out to meet them.
Both unaware that a certain unicorn would be very confused and disappointed she did not get any reply.

 

(An hour later, Zecora' hut)

"She did WHAT?!" Spy sneers in fury of what Twilight told this Trixie did to his son. Twilight flinches away while Zecora sits at her table with her specially made herb tea, calmly telling the upset changeling. "Calm yourself, all your cries does is ruin my good shells." Spy takes a deep breath and with his anger a bit more under control he asks Twilight. "Could this Trixie do this before?"

"No, only the most skilled unicorns should be able doing this!" Twilight cries and starts to pace back and forward. "Ugh... I don't know what to do. I feel like I've abandoned my friends. But I can't take her on horn-to-horn."

"There are other ways defeating your enemy Twilight Sparkle." Spy says, again back to his collected demeanor. He grabs a stick and after a bit playing around with it in his hoof, it disappears from sight, much to Twilight's surprise. He smirks reaches his hoof over to her mane and pulls out the stick there. "You simply have to play a little bit smart."

Zecora puts her teacup on the table and tells the unicorn so caught up in the power of pony magic that she does not see other ways. "We'll show you the way to make sure she won't stay."

Twilight accidentally hits the table, making the tea pour out but she is just too excited learning new magic. "When do we start?" Winching sheepishly from the stare the zebra sends her from ruining her tea. Zecora sights. "Let the three of us begin as it seems you will not let me finish my drink." and the two bearer of Guidance brings her to a small lake. At Zecora's request, Twilight uses her magic to walk on her surface and levitates three bubbles around her. Listing to Zecora's calming voice. "Ah, no noise, no sound, no din, no fuss must interfere with your focus. Unlearn what you have learned. Only then can victory be earned." But Twilight cannot concentrate properly, she keeps hearing Trixie's taunts and that makes her break the levitation spell, splashing into the water.

Both Spy and Zecora open their eyes, looking at the now neck deep in water unicorn, Spy shakes his head; like Zecora he clearly sees that her mind is not truly in the game. "You won't learn if you keep worrying about what you cannot do."

Sighting, Twilight leaves the water. "I'm sorry, Spy. I'm trying my best, but... I can't stop thinking about Trixie."

"Taunting the opponent is useful as it makes them think about the words and loses concentration." Spy says. He knows that fact a bit too well as he is using his words as much his knives when out fighting. "A strategy you have to learn to ignore. Don't let her words get to you." Zecora nods in agreement, giving her own advice "It is Trixie great satisfaction her words is causing you so much distraction."

Twilight can now truly see why Spy and Zecora have been chosen to carry the two Elements of Guidance. "I know, but... there was something different about her. It's like she's gone from high and mighty to mean and nasty." She explains the two.

Zecora points back to the lake. "Your thinking needs a readjust. Total concentration is a must." And Twilight returns back to her concentration training. Zecora eyes Spy, quietly wondering if Twilight can take their teachings to heart with how much she is distracted with the current situation, in fact, Spy too looks a bit distracted from the news of his son but he does have the advantages in having years of training as an infiltrator.

***

(Ponyville)

After two days of having dealt with Trixie ridicules commands and those who have tried to refuse her commands would be forced to do something embarrassed or be tormented until they would give in. Those who did not give in would end up like Soldier, still trapped in that box and become a sort of warning for everypony passing the town square.
The element bearers have managed to get away from Trixie and all snuck into Twilight's library in hope to find anything to stop this madness.

Miss Pauling has joined them, annoyed but also quite scared that Trixie's magic had forced her into a birdcage for not doing her job right and only got out when Engineer unlocked the cage after that mad pony left to roam her new 'kingdom'.
"How do we fight something like that?!" She exclaims, no longer able to hold it back. This whole world is utter madness, she would really like go back to just keeping a bunch of crazy mercenaries in check, sneak into Saxton Hale's secret weapon stash once and a while and kill a few people to keep Helen safe. That is nothing compared to a small month here!
And the said mercenaries take the situation rather calmly all things considered. Caressing her hurting head, she cannot help but remark dryly to Medic who has three books levitated before him. "You guys are taking this awfully calmly."

Medic eyes her once before turning his attention back to the books in search for any clue how to defeat that unicorn. "Actually, I find this sort of refreshing." He smiles and put down the books. "There's no real threat of death, only a battle of wits- it's quite exciting!" He grins of a refreshing change on how to fight a battle.

"I'm glad at least one of us is enjoying himself." Rainbow Dash remarks dryly down to the light grey unicorn, Medic chuckles and replies up to her. "I thought you liked a good challenge frauline Rainbow." She shrugs in return. "Sure, but I don't see any way to defeat Trixie."

Rarity sighs as she flips through the book pages she is holding with her magic. "I would agree with Rainbow Dash, this search really doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere." Looking over to her fellow Generosity bearer there remarks his own thoughts on this situation. "And I would like if we could even out this battle of wits Medic speaks about."

Pinkie mumbles something and apparently all Southern can understand the language of mumbling since Applejack clearly understands her. "I hear you, Pinkie. I don't know about you guys." Looking at the searching members. "But I can't find anything that describes the kind of magic Trixie's doing."

"Ugh, there must be something!" Spike groans, after all this is Twilight's library. "Twilight has every magic book there is!"

Flying up to one of the top shelf's Fluttershy picks a book and find a picture looking very much like the one Trixie has around her neck. She turns to her friends, saying awfully quietly. "I think I may have found something." but the others did not hear her.

Rarity makes a dramatic pose beside Engineer. "Yes, it's time for us to consider our futures in this new Trixie-led Ponyville."

"Let's keep trying just a bit longer." Engineer smiles weakly, Rarity sighs but must agree with him. "Then endure Trixi's tyranny, so we shall."

Fluttershy flies a bit forward but does fly back when that huge stallion turns to her. He scares her, so she flies upward, trying to show the others the book with the picture in. "Um, this sounds an awful lot like Trixie's magic–" but again the others didn't hear her quiet voice.

"She wants me to grow apples with no peels! Now, how the hay am I supposed to do that?" Applejack complains loudly.

Rolling his eyes that the shy pony cannot get her voice in, Heavy decides to lend his to her. "Little shy pony found something." Heavy says with his deep rumbling voice, one no one in this room can talk over.
Everyone in the room first turns to him, then up to the now very nervous Fluttershy.

"Well, what is it? Show us, darling." Rarity urges the yellow pegasus.

Slowly Fluttershy flies down and hands Spike the book there reads up for them. "It's called the Alicorn Amulet, and whoever wears it is blessed with magic equal to an alicorn, but it also corrupts the user in the progress."

"Hm, I do wonder what would happen is an already corrupt per- I mean pony takes it on then?" Medic ponders out loud, noticing that Miss Pauling is giving him a 'don't you dare' look. He smirks. "I am allowed to hypothesis." She rolls her eyes but let the subject drop.

Returning back to the book, Spike reads. "It says here you can't just force the Alicorn Amulet off, it has some sort of magical lock. Trixie's the only pony who can take it off!"

"Too bad I can't chop her bloody head off." Demo whispers to Sniper who snorts back in amusement before the griffin voices his thoughts on this new discovery. "Unless you remaining unicorns can match up with Trixie, then I suggest we get this information to Twilight."

"Aye" Demo nods, tapping his horn. "All I am good at with this is minor transfigure and adept levitation magic. No match for that mad pony."

"Oh, don't flatter me." Medic smirks, it does fade into a surprised stare when Rarity tells him. "Oh darling, you're only half-mad, nothing compared to that wretched Trixie." That comment did catch Medic a bit off guard, this is the first time someone has told him such things. It's touching, really. "Danke miss Rarity. Unfortunately, even with my higher magical level. I doubt even I can defeat Trixie."

Pushing aside the shock someone didn't think Medic mad, Miss Pauling asks the ponies and whatever Engie and Sniper are. "Alright, we need to get this to Twilight. So now the question: how?"

"Good question," Rarity muses "if any of us try to leave, Trixie's magical force field will tell her!"

"It at times like these I wish Spy was around..." Engineer grumbles. After all, that man can get past his sentry gun sensor. "He could get past it, somehow."

Rainbow Dash flies into the middle of the room, shouting "I've got it! Trying to sneak past the force field would be impossible without help, but I know who's got the goods to get into those woods!" She flies down and lifts up Fluttershy, declaring her name.

"Whaat?!" Said pink haired pegasus cries and forgets for a moment she has wings, dropping to the floor. She pulls a book over her head as cover, shaking like a leaf.

Heavy frowns at this. "Little shy pony too scared for such things."

She fully agrees with him. "Yes! I'll crack under the pressure! I'll snap like a twig!" Fluttershy cries fearfully, hugging the book tightly. Rainbow Dash grasps her again, beaming. "Perfect! Fluttershy will sneak out of Ponyville and find Twilight." And again poor Fluttershy drops to the floor with her trying but cannot even utter an objection because she is so scared.

Miss Pauling face-hoof. "For goodness sake... she can't do it!" Pointing at the trembling in fear pony. "Just look at her, stealth missions require calm nerves and I am sorry to say it but you have none."

"I know...!" Fluttershy agrees in a quite but panicking voice.

Rainbow Dash rolls her eyes of this unicorn. "She's perfect, Fluttershy can make her animals friends get her out, it's easy!" She flies down to this deeply frowning unicorn. "Unless one of you can speak with animals and hide inside a log or whatever we find."

Miss Pauling raises a brow. "She can speak with animals?" Everyone in the room nod, well one more thing on the list of what she did not except in this place. Sighting Miss Pauling must admit. "I cannot speak with animals, but I think someone other than her is the better choice."

"I'll go." Sniper declares from his spot on the second floor, pointing at himself. "I'm the better choice over Fluttershy. Spook's not the only one able do stealth missions."
But he would still need certain critters help to get out. "Still need your ability talking with animals, though."

"You can help us with that, right lass?" Demo asks the trembling Fluttershy softly, making her look slowly up to him. She gives him a small nod, looking a little bit more sure about herself.

Smiling Rarity takes her hoof out, Pinkie swiftly joins her and puts her on top. Rainbow Dash, Spike, and Applejack soon join in. Demo then moves over and does the same with a chuckling Heavy close behind. Engineer exchanges look with Fluttershy and they too join in, Sniper leaps down from his spot and does the same, moving aside so Medic can join this team fist bump.
They do all jump when a light surrounds Rainbow's hoof which makes Sniper light up for a moment and when it fades, a silver necklace with a red gem in form of a scope is around his neck. Said rainbow haired pegasi cheers seeing that object around his neck. "Oh yeah! I knew there was something cool about you!" Sniper rolls his eyes but cannot stop grinning as well, more so when Miss Pauling looks the more confused about this new event.

"Alright! Leeet's do it, lass and laddies!!" Demo cheers, the others quickly follow through and turning into a laugh with Rarity's words. "I know just the design for a dangerous mission outfit!- one there should suit that necklace nicely." Followed by a dumbfounded Sniper. "We bloody hell don't have time for costume change lady!" She, of course, didn't listen.

The plan did almost end in catastrophe when Trixie suddenly came over and demanded Heavy to be the one pulling her wheel missing carat. "I will keep her away as long I can." Heavy says and walks over to get the gear put on him and drags the caret away. Thankfully it is not as hard as many would fear thanks to his normal human mixed up with the earth pony strength, so pulling this caret with Trixie cracking her whip over his head is more a nuisance than anything.

With Heavy keeping Trixie away, the others find several beavers, letting Fluttershy asks them for help and with Sniper hiding inside the log and having a levitation spell from Demo to ensure the beavers can carry him without awaking suspicious. Rainbow Dash flies over to sign Heavy that the plan is set. So when Trixie senses the set off the magic force field, Heavy does not need to slow her down and endure embarrassing punishments.

But apparently, it did not get fast enough for this crazy unicorn. "Hurry you big oaf!" She cracks her whip awfully close to his ear, Heavy shoots her a glare but she does not notice in her madness. "Somepony set off the magic force field, and Trixie intends to punish them!"

"Go faster with wheels." He remarks. She brushes his suggestion off with a completely paranoid and yet arrogant. "The Great and Powerful Trixie doesn't trust wheels. Now pull faster!" and this time the whip hits him over the shoulder. For a second throwing Heavy back to the gulag where he watched his father getting whipped to death and he had to rescue his family by murdering every guard standing his way. It took a lot of willpower not to kick the carat, knowing that will just end up badly for him. Instead, he lets out a long groan and pulls the caret towards the spot.
As expected, Fluttershy beavers are slapping the barrier with their tails, demanding with all their chitter to get their log outside the barrier.
Trixie did of course not understand the critters in voice but even with her madden mind, she got the hint and with rolling eyes of annoyance, she lets the beavers out.

Standing in cover, the group is watching the log being dragged away, Applejack looks up to her fellow Element of Honesty there struggles to keep the levitation magic up from this increasingly long distance. "A little further Demo." She tells him.

"Heavy better hurry..." Demo groans, he can feel he is reaching his breaking point.
Getting Trixie away did get slower than getting her here as she has transfigured her wooden caret into a bigger one, now made out of gold and that one Heavy struggles with.

"Coast clear." Rainbow Dash says and Demo can finally dismiss his magic, the unicorn drops to the ground, groaning from magical exhausting. Fortunately Medic is there to ease a bit up his headache from the magical drain.

Outside the forcefield, the beavers help a black dressed and very annoyed Sniper out from the log. Correcting his suit and really feeling like a bloody spook, Sniper gives those still trapped inside a thumbs up before he turns to the three beavers. "Thanks for the help." He tells them, they chitter something in return he can only guess and the beavers leave with their log. Sniper trots towards the Everfree forest and fairly easy find Zecora's hut where not only Twilight is but Spy as well.
Said zebra serves him some tea which he drinks as he explains the three about their findings.

"I can't believe I didn't recognize the Alicorn Amulet!" Twilight exclaims, pacing back and forward inside the hut, stopping to asks both zebra and changeling. "But how am I supposed to beat that amulet? My magic's not good enough!"

"Too bad these are bloody useless." Sniper remarks, tapping on his new trinket there shows his own virtue of loyalty, it is nice knowing he was chosen for that element.

Spy chuckles lightly of both Sniper's remark and the quite stressed out unicorn. "There are other ways to defeat an enemy, brute force will only get you this far; isn't that right Sniper?" The griffin frowns lightly in his mild confusions what Spy means. When he gets it Sniper nods, telling Twilight. "Right, you will have to play smart with this one."
Like he and Sniper had to figure each other out in order to keep up with their game, Spy thinks almost fondly. Sniper here has been giving him some worthwhile matches, he admits that. Turning back to Twilight. "Use your wits Twilight, if the game does not suit you; change the rules."

Twilight has to ponder what the changeling meant and when she got it she gasps and exclaims joyfully. "Spy you're a genius!"

"I have my moment." Spy smirks, turning to Sniper's dry remark: "At least this time it doesn't involve you going on a killing spree in RED’s base.” The changeling smirks widen, he remembers that stealth mission and is very proud he managed to kill half of RED team and get the intel as well.

Twilight did not hear Sniper's remark, she is busier writing down her plan to her friends before running over to Pyro's cave, this time the scroll ends up at the right place.

***
(Two hours later)

Twilight and Zecora head over to the barrier. A small spell and the alarm goes off. Trixie arrives with a soon to collapse of exhausting Heavy, the mad mare gasps seeing Twilight but just can't stop herself from taunting the exiled unicorn. "What's the matter, Twilight Sparkle? Not enjoying your exile?" Thanks to her training, Twilight easily brushes it off, pointing out the fact that Trixie hasn't been playing fair. "I know about the Alicorn Amulet. I know you cheated."

"Cheated? Moi?" Trixie denies innocently.

Again Twilight does not let this bother her, she is confident of what is going to happen. "Yeah. And I thought you might wanna see what a real magical amulet looks like." She levitates out a gold amulet with a green gem with circle engravings into it, explaining the other unicorn. "Zecora gave it to me. It's from beyond the Everfree Forest, and it's way more powerful than your measly little Alicorn Amulet!" She points out confidently, at her side Zecora nods in agreement.

Trixie laughs hearing that statement. "Nothing's more powerful than the Alicorn Amulet! And nopony's more powerful than the Great and Powerful Trixie!"

"Care to put your amulet where your mouth is?" Twilight asks her calmly. "How about another duel?"

Trixie snorts. "Why should I? I already beat you." But do reconsider when Twilight starts to leave with; "That's up to you! But I guess you'll never see the totally awesome magic from beyond the Everfree Forest." The opportunity for greater magic is too much for her, Trixie dismisses the barrier and teleports right before the leaving Twilight. "Okay, okay, you're on! A second duel."
Still smiling confidently Twilight nods.

***

(Town square)

The two unicorns, with only one of them having friends behind her walk to their chosen battleground. Trixie's magic makes the dark thundercloud above them strike out lightning, and while Twilight did not do such a thing, she still is very confident in her amulet. Did not put Trixie down one bit, after all; she can do magic nopony can. "Let's start with a simple age spell, shall we?" She asks and Twilight agrees.

"Perhaps turn this one back to normal?" Demo says with the not really surprisingly chipper Scout on his back, but of course, Trixie refuses to do them such a favor.

"Snips, Snails." Trixie calls and the two scared foal unicorns step forward, she turns them into even younger foals than that weird pegasus. Both now baby foals burst out crying. "An oldie, but a goodie." She brags and demands Twilight and her so-called more powerful amulet. "Now, let's see what your little charm can do!"

Twilight smirks. "No problem. Um, Applejack, Rarity? Could you help me, please?" She calls two of her friends, confused the two steps forward. Twilight shoots her magic at them, making a magical cloud surrounds them for a moment, when it fades, Applejack and Rarity are both left as foals.

Trixie who has barely paid attention flabbergasted gasps at the sight, she quickly brushes it off as if it's no big deal. "So you can do an age spell, big deal." But Twilight is not done, with another magic spell, her two friends are adults, another spell and only Rarity is a foal, standing like a queen on young adult Applejack, another spell and Rarity is back to normal but Applejack old, and then they are both back to normal with a quick spell from Twilight. Trixie does, however, brush that off, she might not be able to do it that quickly, but she can do age spells just fine. "Pff, you have to do better than that!"

"With pleasure." Twilight smirks and turns her magic on Rainbow Dash, at first her friend looks to be normal, then another pair of wings and a clone of her appears, much to Rainbow and Trixie's surprise.

Trixie is shocked, but with her amulet doing a quick shine of red, she turns her horn over to a random pony and does the same, that poor pony stares dumbfounded at their own clone who does the same.

Twilight's smile falters for a moment but is quickly back on again. "What about this? Can you turn a mare into a stallion?" and shoots a beam at Applejack, turning her into a stallion, she- now he smiles nervously at the sudden change before Twilight turns Applejack back to normal. Before Trixie can try though, Twilight takes the stage again. "Oh or what about turning a pegasus into a unicorn?" She releases Soldier from his box and with a flash of magic, the before confused pegasus Soldier now sits a dumbfounded unicorn Soldier.
Trixie drops her jaws, but Twilight is not done. "And best for last; with this amulet, I can turn a pony into other species." She shoots her magic at the startled Zecora and when the smoke clears, everyone takes the run for it as now there stand a growling Timberwolf in her place. Twilight quickly turns the zebra back but before Zecora can recover, another spell and a white griffin with black stripes sit in her place. Smirking Twilight thinks that should do it. "Well, Trixie looks like my amulet is more powerful than yours–" A levitation spell tears off her amulet. "Hey! Give it back!" Twilight cries annoyed, but too late. Trixie got the amulet now.

Laughing Trixie says to the scared crowd and Twilight. "With this amulet, I shall now rule all of Equestria!" She tears off the Alicorn Amulet, dismissing it's hold on her and she puts on the way more powerful amulet around her neck, with it on she declares to the town's ponies. "Witness, my subjects. Gaze upon an ever greater and 'powerful-er' Trixie!" One of the Rainbow's dives down and snatches the Alicorn Amulet from her, Trixie she scoffs at this for a moment but quickly brushes it off, after all; "I don't need that old Alicorn Amulet. I have this!" And shoots a beam of lightning at that Rainbow Dash, but instead of harming that blue pegasus, Rainbow instead convulse in laugher.

"Stop it! That tickles!" Rainbow laughs.

Trixie blinks in disbelief. "That was supposed to make you writhe in agony! This amulet is defective!" She tries to reclaim the Alicorn Amulet from Rainbow Dash, but the pegasus is too fast for her. "Give mine back!"

"Sorry. This is going back into hiding where it belongs." Rainbow Dash says and flies over to the zebra Zecora who awaits with a box for the amulet.

Trixie stares dumbfounded at the zebra, for shouldn't she still be a griffin. Twilight is suddenly by her side, one hoof over her neck. "By the way, Trixie, the amulet around your neck? It's one of Zecora's doorstops." Twilight gives the green stone one hard tap and it falls off, breaking on impact to the ground. But if this amulet is fake then... " But... how did you do those spells?" Trixie demands from this revelation. "Nopony can do those spells!"

And Twilight whole heartily agrees. "You're right. Not even me. Zecora and Spy taught me so much about magic while I was in exile. They even taught me when not to use it."
The Apple family, all looking like Applejack with Rarity's younger sister right beside them appears behind a statue, joining the two mares. "My magic alone wasn't powerful enough to take on the Alicorn Amulet horn to horn, so I needed to use a different kind of magic." The unicorn Soldier correct his hair and with a quick spell gets the green paint off his brown pelt, the real Soldier jumps out from a bush after Medic has let him go with his magic. "The magic of friendship." The second Rainbow Dash takes off the wig, revealing pink hair, she lands beside the painted Sniper who smirking brushes off the fake colors.
"I also knew that the only pony who could get the amulet off your neck was you." Twilight explains the other and very confused unicorn.

Trixie is still confused though. "B-But what about you turning Zecora into a Timberwolf?"

Twilight grins, turning over to Sniper where a now blue pegasus hides in the crowd. "That's not magic, well not unicorn magic at least." Spy takes his real form, startling several ponies but the changeling has just too much fun watching the look on Trixie's face as Twilight explains. "Changeling magic is shape-shifting, so with my performance; he could've turned into anything." And Spy shows that by turning into a perfect copy of Trixie, giving the real one a very smug look before turning back into that blue and quite handsome looking pegasus.

The town's ponies cheer over this victory and awesome show. The split up pony hugs their clone and in a flash of their own magic is back to normal. In the mass of the cheering crowd, Trixie embarrassingly draws back and disappears from town with few noticing.

"That was fun!" Medic says from his spot with an almost mad grin on his face and tells Spy now with a better understanding. "I can see why you like disguise yourself all the time." Spy returns it with a smirk and both turn their gaze to Sniper there snorts as if annoyed. Medic rolls his eyes. "Oh don't be such a baby. You had fun too herr Sniper." And with a quick spell, the paint is off the griffin. Sniper mutters a small thanks but does not voice his thoughts about this show they did.

***

(Few days later)

While Demo and Medic did their levitation show for the Saddle Arabian Delegates, Twilight walks over to Spy, currently lying with a very cute looking Scout sleeping up against his chest. Eyeing the adorable sight for a moment, Twilight decides it's best telling him with what Celestia has told her about the spells still in effect from Trixie's rampage. "The princess told me she can fix most of the thing but..."

"Not Scout."

She nods sadly. "I'm sorry, he will be like that for a while." Quickly adding. "But don't worry, Princess Celestia said the effect would wear off in time. He will be back to normal before you know it." Blinking when the disguised changeling suddenly starts laughing "Spy?"

Still chuckling of how big irony this is. "I was never around in his life, never watched him grow up-" Eyeing the young child sleeping peacefully between his hooves, seeing once again the child there reminded him that life is worth living. "Now I get the chance: all thanks to a crazy unicorn there wanted to show off; perhaps I should thank her."

Ah, she now sees why he found this funny. "Maybe." But there is one thing there worries her a bit, Spy made it so clear that he did not want to reveal his relation to Scout. "But won't the others ask questions if they see Scout around you all the time?"

Yeah about that. "I would need to ask a favor if I could take different shapes to be around him."

"It would be easier if you just told them." Twilight points out, once again feeling safe around this Changeling.

"It would but I just can't take the chance." Spy muses and although reluctant, he returns Scout to Twilight. He has exposed himself far too much already.

Twilight levitates the still sleeping colt onto her back, watching this bit strange changeling. Of someone seems to thrive on giving pieces of advice and be around ponies, he sure does a good job refusing to let anyone inside. "It's your choice." She sighs and leaves Spy with: "but I think you can trust them with this."
She heads over to Derpy who has agreed on taking care of Scout as long he is stuck in this young age. She is about to tell the pegasus that she might visit from time to time, thinking that is a good excuse for Spy to disguise himself as her so he can visit his son. But before she can, a Diamond Dog comes running over to them. She recognizes that as one of Pyro's and is curious why the dragoness has sent one of her doggy's to her.
"Protector wants pony have this." The Diamond Dog says and hands Twilight an envelope, blinking she takes the envelope with her magic, opens and reads the letter inside.

'Greetings Twilight Sparkle, I am Ignis; Soldier of the Solar family.
Do not worry if you do not recognizes the family.
My reason writing you is that it has come to my attention you tried to use a Drake to send a letter to Princess Celestia about a bit out of control unicorn but instead that particular letter came to me. I apologize I did not respond earlier but I have been busy keeping a threading army at bay with a few fellow soldiers of the species called human. I am hopeful you recognize that name since some of your own comrades should once have been that species, and this letter will reach you. The Drake who brought you this has my magical signature, so they should be able to send more letters if you wish.
Sincerely Ignis.'

Twilight had to read this letter twice, just to comprehend that Pyro has the magical signature of that unicorn the turned human sometimes mention. The humans stuck here better see this! "Thank you." She tells the Diamond Dog, blinking when it points out expectantly. "Protector said pony give Rover gems."
Oh right, guess he deserves one. Twilight brings this Diamond Dog to Rarity's home and gives it one of the gems from her chest. The Diamond Dog returns back to the cave very satisfied.
Twilight then, asks all the turned humans to gather at her home "I got this from Pyro." She tells them and lets Engineer read it.

Engineer did not recognize the name but; "Seems like this Ignis is fighting alongside our clones." He remarks.

"Let Heavy see." Heavy requests and Engineer shows him the letter, yes that is indeed their immortal comrade. "I know Ignis, he brought us here."

"How?" Twilight asks curious, such a transportation spell requires a lot of energy, she voices this to the turned humans and Heavy replies.

"Ignis say he is alicorn."

"WHAT?!" Twilight cannot help but scream in utter shock. "He is an alicorn?!" She thought Luna, Celestia, and Cadence are the only ones.

Engineer looks at the letter again, getting an idea. "I don't know much about this alicorn business. But I do see an opportunity with this. We now have a direct line of communication with our world; we can know what is going on and visa versa!"

"We can hear how our families are doing." Demo says happily they have gotten this unexpected but very welcome line of communication. Turning to the still flabbergasted Twilight. "What dragon did you use for this?"

"Pyro."

"Makes sense." Sniper muses from his spot, that guy did, after all, transport Pyro here, so she must've gotten this magical signature the letter speaks about. "We should respond."
The others nod in agreement.

"Alright." Twilight levitates a scroll and a quill, wondering for a moment before she begins writing.

Chapter Text

Chapter 27: Waves of Letters

Note: This starts just after the last chapter.
It is quite different from the other chapters as most of the text here will be letter sending, but I thought it worked best for this part of the story.

 

'Greeting Ignis.
I am both surprised and relieved of this unexpected contact. The humans stuck here said you were the cause of their arrival here and you happen to be an alicorn. I wasn't aware there existed more alicorns than Equestria three princesses, if you don't mind I would like to hear more about it as there aren't any books about alicorns and my mentor Celestia's knowledge about the subject is very limited.
The humans trapped here has families in their world are all worried about their well being and would like hear how they are faring. Perhaps we can give each a chance speaking with their clone about this very private matter?
Sincerely Twilight Sparkle'
 
'Dear Twilight.
The humans on my side have agreed on a few private letters between their other. To ensure no one besides the reader gets it, they suggested to put their class logo on.
The humans know what I am talking about.
I suggest you do the same with your destiny mark if you do not wish others read what I will send you in the future. The mark chosen to me is a flaming dragonhead.

As for your confusion about alicorn; there were more of us once but the war with the Dark Forces has eliminated the alicorn clan. That was two thousand years ago, give or take a few hundred, my sense of time is, unfortunately, a bit lacking. Luna does not remember all of this because she was only a baby when the war against the dark forces was at its final. Celestia might, she was young but had earned her mark and old enough to understand why they had to leave. They weren't supposed to be the rulers just yet as the once current queen of the Stella family was taking them and the other youngsters to safety in the land the ponies now call home. Unfortunately and to my great sorrow, Astral and the others did not survive the trip. So Celestia and Luna won’t have any knowledge of the alicorn history or what magic resides inside our kind.

If you wouldn’t mind, could you send this extra letter to them? It is what little I know about alicorn special magic, hopefully, it will help them understand their roles in this world a bit better.

It has come to my attention that you and several common ponies have become the new bearers of the Pillars of Virtue- or Elements of Harmony as this ancient magic now has been named. It's not much of a surprise ponies has been chosen, what does is that according to the humans on my side; says their clone has become other species such as a changeling. I wasn't aware other species could tap into that ancient magic, but I presume our Goddess has her reason.    

Sincerely Ignis'

'Dear Ignis.
What you wrote, and what Celestia told me. That was a lot to take in. My head is spinning with questions, something I much rather would like spoken than written but I guess I will have to settle with letters for now.
I send the letter you requested to the princesses and Celestia confirmed your story, she also asked if I could return these two letters to you. I know it’s not my place to ask such questions, but it seems you, Celestia and Luna share a history with one another.
and what are these Dark forces you speak about? Spy mentioned he was possessed by a Shadow Pony which made him and Sniper turn into their worst selves before my brother and the third alicorn- now his wife cleansed them both from it.
Since you were the one who brought them here, can you please tell me why and why all of them seems to become the twin element of both new and old elements? You sound to know a lot about the elements and although I and my friends are using them, we do not know anything about their story.

Sincerely Twilight.'

'Dear Twilight.
My knowledge about the Dark Forces is rather limited. I only know this sentient darkness has been around just as long the Elements of Harmony have. Like the Elements, the Dark Forces cannot be destroyed, only weaken or locked away by the Elements of Harmony. You and your fellow bearers are destined to fight this darkness as long you carry the Elements, it is a daunting and never-ending task but the Goddess chose you to ensure Harmony in our world. I do not know why the Elements of Harmony now has a twin to their Element, that has never happened before nor why humans from another world have been carrying the lost Elements.
That is why I had sent those you have to our world. Two thousand years ago, the Dark Forces threw several of the Elements into a dimensional portal in order to weaken us (I fear that was the cause of the alicorn demise) I was tasked by Queen Astral to throw myself into the same portal and search for the missing Elements in whatever world the Dark Forces threw them into. I admit I simply thought the humans task would be over when a pony reclaimed the Element sleeping inside of them, but if what you say them bearing this twin element, then I have a strong feeling that their destiny is greatly intervened with you and your fellow bearers.
However, the humans on your side will have to return to their world. They are all suffering from a powerful spell there has split their souls in half, which not only cuts their lives greatly but also have split up their powers and if they are chosen to be fellow Element bearers then they cannot activate this twin element before they are at their full strength.
Best of luck, Twilight.'

*Scroll with a sun*

‘Ignis— father. You have no idea how much relief and joy I felt when my faithful student Twilight Sparkle brought me and Luna your letters. Mother believed you would still be alive and return the moment your mission was over, she believed that until the very end. I wish I can remember your face, but I was so young when you disappeared. All I remember is your hair of the calm flames and the golden armor you so proudly wore- only took it off once around me and Luna. Other than bringing me joy we are not alone, your letter wasn’t much help for me, but I figure I should know most of it now that I am reaching the age of one thousand seven hundred.
Still, I wish you would be here, and if your mission mother gave you is over, then please return back to us. A portal between the two worlds will open this summer. When the three stars surround the moon. I do not know what the portal looks like at your side, so I will send somepony from my side to yours when the time comes.

Love, your little Sunshine.’

*Scroll with a crescent moon*

‘Sister told me about your mission and you are our long-lost father. I wish I could remember you like she can but…. Thanks for bringing me this letter. I wasn’t aware there existed two kinds of alicorns and I happens to have magic over the sleeping realm. I will try and tap into that world and see what I can do as my own duty as the crown on my head demands. Some of the other world ponies mentioned you and you are dealing with the same problem as me of being out of time. I rather not talk about to why I am in this situation, only that I am glad I am not the only one.

Luna.'

‘My dear daughter of the night.
I sense in your letter that something troubles you but as circumstances are now, all I can do is send you this letter. Yes being a princess is hard but know you are not alone. Celestia will be there if you ever need someone to speak with. If you cannot speak with her, then I will gladly lend you an ear. If what worries you is being out of time, do not worry; you will get used to it faster than you know and if you mess up, know that your father probably messed up more than you. I do have the interesting tendency in blowing stuff up in the most inappropriate of times, something the people I fight alongside with are quite annoyed over.
As for your duty in the dream realm; don’t overwork yourself, unlike when I was last back home, there were hundred of alicorns to protect the dream realm. You are only one, still young, not to mention this is new territory. Take it easy at first, visit the foals dreams. What I got from the alicorns of the night, foals dreams might be intense but their problems way simpler because of their still simplistic way of thinking. When you feel more confident in your magic of dreams, then you can go to the adults.

By all the love in my heart and let the moon always shine your way my beloved Moonbeam.’

*A few days later*

‘Father, I did as you asked and it felt good to see how the foal I helped get over her bit childish nightmare.
I need another advice from you. When I watched over the dreams of the ponies. I noticed something strange. Several creatures made of a blue starry smoke of some sort, they were everywhere. I followed one of them and found it causing such hideous dreams to those it visited. Several of them were infected by these powerful nightmares are the ponies of the other world— or whatever they are. I wish to help them, those dreams some of them have, I sense they are damaging their minds.
What should I do?

Your daughter, Luna.’

‘I should’ve known those pests have gained numbers without the alicorns to keep them in check. What you saw is called a Tantabus. They are the infant vision of the Dark Forces and when gaining enough strength by feeding on ponies nightmares, the Tantabus will leave the dream realm and become a Shadow pony. When a Shadow pony is destroyed, it will be cast back into the dream realm. Usually, a Tantabus is annoying but usually harmless, but with so many of them… you have to leave them alone, engaging them will only cause them to gang up and infect your dreams into nightmares, something you don’t want to happen. For now, you should simply try and ease up ponies dreams. As for the humans, I figured their dreams would attach the Tantabus, they have all a dark past. Try talking to them, ease up their troubled minds and if that doesn’t work. Well, you can always remove them from the Tantabus by putting them into an alicorn made dream bubble. Your mother at times did that when she wanted some “me time” in the dream realm. Something about removing the worst dreamers and the Tantabus main source for growth will be out of reach.
I hope that will help. Best of luck my beloved Moonbeam.’

 

*Scroll with a rocket and writing unbearable hard to read*

'Hello other me!
I am now friends with your Demoman again, we fought a dragon.
I am now a royal guard for the president and keep civilians safe.
I have been better around civilians thanks to Miss Derpy, she is a true American: she makes wonderful apple muffins and her daughter is a very good cadet.'

*Pyro burb up a box filled with robot heads and parts, giving her a stomach ache. In the box, all of the robot heads have words written on them on who RED Soldier befriended when he reclaimed the part. On a giant robot Heavy's head are the words: 'friends with BLU Demo.' Inside a jar is a small bread monster with the letters: to Cadet.
The others gave the bread monster to Pyro's Diamond Dogs when Soldier wasn't looking.*

*Scroll with a wrench on after Pyro felt better again.*

'Howdy other me, or clone, you know what I mean. Sorry, this is weird writing to you knowing you are the other half of my soul and not just a clone made from a lab.
Well, I just get to the point. How are things going with Logan? Did you happen to get to the trial I was lettered to come to? Otherwise, things are going to get a lot harder for the both of us.'

'Howdy back, and you're not the only one finding this strange. It throws all logic out of the window now does it?
About Logan, I have both good and bad news. The good news is I heard about the trial and got to it in last moment and managed to keep the rights visiting Logan every second weekend. The bad news is that Irene has decided to leave Texas just to make sure I won't be able to get those rare visits. I hate to say this but unless there is some magic on your side there can help... Logan will be out of my reach at end of summer.'

*a few days later*

'Sorry for the long response but I needed to speak with the ruler of this land about this problem of ours. Like with you, I both have good and bad news. The good is that she has agreed to allow both me and Logan to live here as citizens, the bad news is however that you cannot follow. According to Miss Pauling; if we get too close to one another, we will try and murder the other for some unknown reason and I am sure you'll agree that is not what our boy deserves. It is not optimal for you, but at least Logan can get a proper life here.'

'Don't worry about me. I will see Logan when we figure out how to put our souls back together as one and if we can never become whole, then I can live the rest of my shortened life happy knowing Logan is out from her reach and will get a normal life for once— so to speak. The moment I get the chance, I will take Logan and make Ignis bring him to you. Might take a while, the Administrator is being a heartless bitch again and refusing us to see our families until you guys return.
By the way, am I the only one who dreams what you see or do you dream and at times feels what I am going through? It is weird, more so knowing you aren't exactly human this moment. Which reminds me: what in tarnation are you?'

'I am sure we will become one again partner. I don't know about you but I am not planning to die early because of this crap. Things are set here on my end when you get Logan.
As for you see what I am doing. No, I don't get any dreams what is going on at your side, the reason why this letter sending is such a godsend. It is strange only you sees and feels what I am seeing. I would like to know more about why this is only one-sided.
and what I have become: no idea!
All I know that I am a horse with bird features such as talons so I can still work as I can as human. My hair has become a bit too pompous my taste, blue plumage mane, and tail, but a certain Miss Rarity loves that part of me and would kill me if I cut it.'

*letter with a knife on. Written in French*

'How much do you know?'

'Enough, I know about your new sweetheart and your great wish in staying. I know what you have become and it forces you to show our softer side in order to survive.
I know you and Jeremy has made peace— I and this Jeremy here haven't. Not that it matters much at the moment: Jeremy has been respawned into a three-year-old. I presume you told Sniper at some point or he figured it out himself, whatever the case, he knows and wants I take responsibility for him. Your emotions against the boy are not making it easy keeping the cover. But I know you cannot deny your feelings, it will be the death of you if you push people away while in that form.'

'Correct, I am quite in the dilemma on that part. And so far the excuse that this world is affecting me has put the others off my trail for now. But I must admit I am starting to consider letting them know the real me.
With the ponies still afraid of me. Zecora's love towards me kept me alive but now I feel it is not enough, I need more energy. I need their friendship to stay at my strongest as forcing the love out will simply make history repeat itself and I cannot risk having them as my enemies. And don't try to lecture me I shouldn't do this, trust me; I have already been going through that mental fight already and I do not need the other part of my soul lecturing me as well.
Whatever you like it or not, I am going to reclaim your soul as my own and when complete I will go back, I am sick and tired being trapped in war. I want to live the rest of my life in peace.’

'I always had the suspicious you were the softer side of us and now I can see I stand corrected. That world is affecting you, enough it is affecting me and when you come. I begrudgingly will not fight when you reclaim my soul and do whatever the hell you want afterward. You have gone soft and it is your fault if this softness of yours will get us both killed.'

*scroll with fist on, letters on Russian*

'How are family and team doing other me? Are you taking good care of them?'

'Yes, the family is doing fine, they miss me but Administrator won't let us see our families before you are back. Her revenge for what Ignis did to Miss Pauling I am sure. The team is doing fine, wary at first but like your team, we have settled rivalry and now working together against the robot army. Do not know you do, but I see what you are doing in my dreams, sometimes feel what you feel too.'

'No big surprise Administrator did that, she always finds loved one as a weakness.
I do not see or feel what you do other me, it is very strange only you do and not me. I do have the suspicion that the magic in this world is the cause of it, has to ask Doctor about it. (do not worry, I won’t harm him) the magic here is very strong and affecting everything in this world. Affected me too, I have become a horse, stronger than horses back home. I could drag a very big caret out of pure gold and only get tired like when I have run around with Sasha for days. Ponies here says it is Earth pony magic, you will like it other me. Not only am I strong, but fast too. I do miss Sasha and meat, though.'

'You will be fine other me, and yes I have seen your new form in my dreams, it is a very good form. Strong and powerful to protect the team. Doctor not so much, your dreams shows he has gotten very good with magic and won’t surprise me if he can tear others apart with it. HA! Do not worry about your doctor here, he and I have come to the same agreement as the two of you, he is a bit bored tearing robots apart, though. If anyone in that world needs your protection, it will be that little shy winged pony, or a very good shove to become strong herself. You should help that little pony.'

'I will, might take some time, Fluttershy is very scared of me. This is the last letter so I have a question about you and BLU Medic, do you love each other? I love my Medic and knowing BLU is other half of RED, I want to treat him like RED but I do not want to make it weird.'

'I was worried you and your Joesef haven't confessed to one another like I and BLU Medic, we have. If you treat Josef on your side like I would, I will do the same.'

*scroll with a sticky bomb on*    

'Ey still human Tavish, how's mom doing? Oh and Heavy mention you guys dream what is going one on my side, so; you probably already know I have been fighting a bloody big ass dragon along with your team Soldier. We are friends now again. Do wish I had Eyelander with me. Could you hold onto it for me?'

'Sure unicorn me, I will swing Eyelander around for ya.
I found it stuck in the ground; crying for heads, poor thing. Good to hear you and my team Soldier are friends again, it was such a pity you got into a fight in the first place. Soldier was so heartbroken he didn't even feel like training the rest of us. So that is good to hear he’s back to his old self. By the way, I and your team Soldier have become pals too. We didn't have a dragon (I envy you) but we did have a big ass Heavy robot with three Medic robots behind. I think Solly send the head over to you, for I can't find it lately. Mother is fine, still nagging me to get more jobs last time I saw her. I can't visit her at the moment though, bitchy lady from the speakers has refused us to see our families before you guys get back. If that crazy wizard keeps his words, he should summon you back around Christmas.'

'I am sure Miss Pauling would be happy hearing about that, she can't seem to relax here, it's funny watching her walking around like a lost puppy. She is so caught up in her thoughts getting home she hasn't even tried using her horn, that or she really does not like magic. I am sure you already know this but I LOVE MAGIC! I can move stuff with my mind and transfigure simple things! It is awesome as hell! You better hope you'll end up here, one day or whoever us takes the other's soul. If you take mine, do me the favor and return here, not only for the magic but also because I have found myself a very sweet girl.'

'I told the others about Miss Pauling, they got a good laugh about it. And if I happen to be the one taking your soul, don't worry, I will make sure this girl of yours won't misses this hunk of stallion. I think you need to hear this, I managed to call mom and tell her about your girl I see in my dreams. I had to call her Cheery though. But mom was really happy when I told her, and for once not nagging me about jobs. Now she is sending letters with suggestions how to properly propose a girl. Take that as you want, pal.'

*letters with a scope on*

'Alright, let me get this out of the way before we start: this is bloody weird and I never thought you would be the other part of my soul which does not help to figure out which one of us is the real Lawrence. Right now with that said: I hear you got affected when Spook attacked me, you better not have killed anyone for that would be bloody embarrassing. I fortunately only made a fool out of myself being all moral lacking, crazy as shit and scared Twilight rigorously.
I won't ask about mom and dad, knowing them; they are doing fine like they always have. But what I would like to know: how is your Scout doing? Ours got into deep trouble. Some bloody unicorn off her bonkers turned him into a kid, but we are lucky there are lots of ponies willing to help us out with that problem.'

'You did embarrass yourself more than I did wanker, I was unconscious most of the time during that episode. Were you knocked out without an explanation a few days past? If not then only I am affected and that must mean I am the fake one. But even if I am, you still need me and you better come back and take my soul. I am not planning on living with only a half soul or be outlived by my parents.
Engineer will be happy knowing it wasn't the respawn there screwed us over when Scout respawned as a kid. I am currently taking care of him since spook hasn't gotten that stick out from his ass and done bloody his duty for the boy.'

'What do you mean by you are making Spook take care of Scout? Are you insane?
Spy hates Scout with a passion, he hates the kid more than he hates me.  But lately, Spook has changed; he is, in fact, bearable to be around now and has managed get out a few laughs out of me.
I can't figure out he's under some magic spell or he's just faking it?
Whatever it is, Miss Pauling has asked me to keep an eye on him and make sure he stays away from Scout as long the kid cannot defend himself in this state, but I have a feeling her biggest reason is that she finds his friendlier attitude strange as well.'

'It seems RED Spy never told you. Don't tell this to the others, especially not Miss Pauling. Spook is Scout's father, he told me after I confronted him with the whole snagging Scout's mother scandal. I was quite surprised, so it was good knowing it was still Spook when he threatened to kill me if this ever got out. Believe it or not but Spy is, in fact, not so bad if you manage to get past all that spite and self-hatred he is throwing around. The only reason he is an asshole against Scout and the rest of us is to throw the Administrator off. Something about she will use the kid against Spook if she ever knows. I figure the Spook on your side has gotten more relaxed with his pretend because he is in a place with none of the people he pissed off during the war constantly threading his life.
Don't poke him too much about this though. You don't have respawn like I had to count on.
Sweet form by the way, better than a bloody pony.'  

'Thanks. I will be sure thread carefully around Spook. And I will come for you, that's a promise.'

*letters with a medical sign, written in German*

'Misha told me about you are seeing what we are seeing and sometimes feeling our emotions. How affected are you on what happens to me? I am not dealing with such effects whatsoever, so it must be a one-way side effect, I do have many ideas what is causing this such as this world's magic affecting us more than thought, Ignis made the link when he teleported me or you might be the clone.
All of them very interesting and one mystery I am sure you would like to join me in.
I am unsure you too have a dove named Archimedes, for my own is here with me. He really likes my new form; often roost on my back or on my horn. This world has turned me into a unicorn, which means I can do magic, and as much fascinating that entire subject is, there is one thing there catches my eye the most and that is these Elements of Harmony.
According to a unicorn, a good friend (which is a surprise as she could’ve easily been my daughter) and my magical teacher; Twilight Sparkle, all us humans are connected to these powerful artifacts. I will admit I denied the idea I would be connected to anything having to do with harmony, the thought itself is absurd. But it has come to my notice that the longer I am here, getting closer to both the team and these ponies, the stronger this— let's say feeling inside of me is getting. I do not know what it means. What do you make of this?'

'It is interesting only I am affected by you, it does make me turn to the option that I am the fake one and your soul is calling for mine. Ignis did mention such things with split souls would happen. We are all very strongly affected by what is going one on your side. Sniper and Spy both turned into a darker form of their selves, which I must admit was quite disturbing, but luckily we had them restrained during the episode so we escaped with only minor scrapes. And I presume your Scout has been turned into a child, for our respawned back as on not long ago. Soldier once started acting weirder than usual by saying he was a unicorn and I couldn't do much since I was dealing with a huge migraine and the painkillers didn't work. Ever since your departure to that land, all my dreams have been about what has stood out for you, it is very strange waking up thinking you have hooves instead of hands and I have more than once caught myself trying doing magic without anything happening.
I too am starting to sense this feeling you are talking about, I first thought it was a tumor but I found no such things when I checked. My nightmares haven't gotten affected just yet, but I am sure it is only in a matter of time. Do you still have the nightmares? I am curious if those I have comes from you as well.  
As for Archimedes, the one I had did not return the day after Ignis first rampage. For quite some time I feared he had killed Archimedes, but now I can breathe out in relief knowing he is safe and sound with you. Do not worry about the others. I have them all over at me.
p.s. You wouldn't mind I treat BLU Heavy as my Heavy? This passive relationship we have going is starting to get on my nerves.'

'I wouldn't mind, after all; like with us, Misha on both our sides are the same person just... separated.
Thanks for letting me know I don't has to worry about the rest of my doves.
And now that you mentioned it, I haven't any nightmares for quite a while. It is very strange, but I'm not complaining. It's nice getting proper rest for once.
Anyway, this link you share to my mind is quite fascinating. I would like if you can send reports what you are experiencing so we perhaps can figure out what is truly causing it; we might figure out a way to unite our souls again. That does remind me, I have learned that the ponies in this world can live three hundred years and is curious if being here is affecting us or if we age like any other human.'

*a week later and a lot of notes sending*

'I and Engineer did some investigating on the respawn machine and according to it and your medical notes about some of you seemly has begun getting stronger; well, it seems that the respawn is the cause of it as you theorized. Engineer really looked into the data of respawn and according to him even with a half soul, we should get about a few decades older than normal human age but with a whole soul. That is the interesting part; if we get whole again and continually connected to respawn, we will be able to become as old as a pony- perhaps older all thanks to respawn keep on repairing our bodies as long we're connected to it. This is very exciting, but only you in Equestria will be getting this interesting perk for some reason. We here won't live much longer than perhaps a decade, Soldier and Demoman barely and I doubt Spy will live longer than a year with him getting weaker by each day. I haven't told Spy this yet, he has been harder to find lately. I suggest you keep a sharp eye on the Spy on your side.

'Again this is only one-sided. The spy on my side shows no signs of getting weaker. In fact, he is getting healthier and if I didn’t know any better; younger, need to do a few more tests to be sure. He is, however, starting to forget minor things which do worry me. I will keep a sharp eye on any further changes.
You should've seen the others faces when I told them this new fact of our prolonged lives if we succeed becoming whole again. Spy especially looked quite relieved compared to the others being more than dumbfounded.
I do not have answers for our soul reunion problem, but I will continually study this world's magic; as there is a great chance it might help us in the near future.'

 

***
Deep inside Everfree forest, a cluster of black gems grows up from the ground before shaping into a black pegasus stallion without a cutiemark and eyes poison green. He walks towards the glade not far away and doesn't at all seem to notice the pack of Timberwolves blocking his way. The Timberwolves growl and one of them charge at him, only there he looks up and when his same colored eyes meet the beast, the attacking timberwolf stops. It stares at him for a few seconds, then backs away, allowing him to pass. The other Timberwolves, sensing like the first that this pony is part of what gave them life also allows him to pass. The pegasus walks slowly but steadily into the glade, where he finds a creature made out of metal there has rusted from being stuck out in the wild for this long.
The Spy-bot is barely functional anymore, the weather and running out on the money there is its fuel is the cause of a soon permanently shut down. Before that happens though. The pegasus needs to speak with the Master of this thing. "Us on your side of the barrier can sense the darkness in your heart, hear us human and listen."    

The robot twitches slowly back to life from the pony before it speaking, but since it cannot make such decisions on its own, it sends out a signal to All-Maker, asking him for the next course of action with the one before it.

__command?

Several moments later, the All-Maker response.

__ hear what this pegasus has to say.

__ affinitive.
The robot nods to the pony, saying with one of the voice-lines gotten from the real Spy. "Let's hear what you have."

"There are three beings stuck in your world, their song causes conflict and distrust when heard. We want you to aid them to spread their song." The pegasus explains the owner of this metal human.

The man on the other side scratches his chin in thoughts of what this being would get out from this, better yet: He activates the robot's voice-box system so he can talk directly to this talking horse. "What would I get out from aiding one of your lackeys?" He asks the pony.

The pegasus smirks. "What do you want?"

"I want Mann Co. and the respawn machine."

"Then that is what you get."

The man on the other side raises a brow how easily this pony agreed to his terms, to be honest, it does put up several red flags. "What's the catch? What do you get in return for this agreement."

The pegasus throws his head lightly back with a small evil laughter. "The Disharmony you will create if you do what we ask is more than enough. Do we have a deal, maker of robots?"

So this pony- or whatever it really just wants to see the world burn? Grey admits that dealing with someone like that can get dangerously really quickly, guess he could say he is pretty much making a deal with the devil. But what that pegasus is offering him is something he just cannot refuse. "Deal, where can I find your singers of war?"
The pony on the screen smirks widen.

Chapter Text

Been unable to get the thoughts out what his other told him. Sniper flies over to Zecora's hut, knocks twice on the door before he walks inside, as hoped he finds Spook there, and it seems he has interrupted the man's meditation. Didn't know Spook did such things, then again, it is clear there is a lot he did not know about this one. "I know." He simply says.
Spy right away tenses up, Sniper notices that Zecora looks worried too. It seems he told her, must mean he really trusts Zecora.

"And?" Spy asks, dreading he might have to kill Sniper for knowing this secret.

"And I think you should drop the act and be there for him." Sniper tells the Changeling, he turns around to leave; for as his other warned him: he should not push this without respawn to count on; Spy looks ready to attack him already. However, he will say this. "You're not as bad as I thought."

"Wait." Spy calls before he can stop himself, Sniper does and Spy walks over to him, close enough so he can feel the griffin's emotions that he has been serious about this. Spy hesitates for a moment, then asks something there has been bothering him ever since his other lectured him about it. "Do you think I can trust the team with this?"

Okay, he did NOT expect this, Spook has really changed, a good chance but still baffling. "You're the one with the emotion detector." Sniper points out and scratches his neck. "I can only tell you what I have seen."

"And that is?"

"They might not keep their mouth shut about it, but they sure hell will keep Scout safe. He may be an annoying little shit from time to time, but he is still part of the team and works just as hard as the rest of us." Sniper steps so he can look at Spy without having to bend his head like an owl, he's not one even if he has a beak. "You have been too busy hiding and act spitefully to see it, but we all do our best protecting one another; yes even you Spook."

And that is what is confusing him. "Why? I have done nothing to earn this. Surely it can't be from doing my job." Spy points out, frowning.

Sniper only shrugs, saying. "As I said; you're not so bad when you get that stick out from your ass."

Spy shoots him a glare and is happy Sniper cannot sense emotions as that comment did for some reason amuses him. Perhaps he can trust the team with this, it will be nice having someone to share this burden with. "Alright, perhaps I should give this trust thing a try."

Sniper smirks and senses he won't get stabbed for asking the question about the small change in Spy appearance. "Say, what's with the sparkle wings?"

Spy turns to look at his now shiny blue and very sparkly wings, he shrugs. "The hell if I know, maybe a sign I don't need to eat?" He wonders out loud for he hasn't been so hungry he usually would be ever since his wings turned like that. Not that he complains, both hiding his true feelings and still being friendly enough to get fed has been a pain in the neck-- and it has nothing to do with the wound he received from Chrysalis.

*An hour later. Golden Oak Library*

The turned humans and the mares are all gathered in Twilight's home, a spell over the library ensures nopony can walk inside as Spy made it clear he did not wish this. Twilight nods to Spy and with a sigh, the Changeling nods over to the playing with Spike foal. "Scout is my son. I was so cruel to him to ensure the Administrator did not figure out the relationship we share and use him against me." He blinks when only a few minor gasps appear for his revelation.

Noticing Spy’s confusions, Medic tells him with a shrug. "I'm a doctor, of course, I could see the resembles. I just thought you picked on him because you were one of those 'I never wanted you' types."

"I figure over time." Heavy says with his rumbling voice. "I know you did not hate Scout, saw cracks."

Soldier didn't care about this revelation as only thing matters in his head. "You are part of this team and soldiers keep each other back!" With Demo simply shrugging with a 'what Soldier said' smile, also didn't really didn't seems to care much about this revelation.

Engineer, being pretty much the only startled hearing this takes off his hard hat, stroking his talons through his mane plumage. "Well darn, never thought you had a caring side." Giving the Changeling a weak smile. "Good knowing I was wrong on that part– You don't happen to dislike stalking people as well?"

"No, I still enjoy doing that very much." Spy smirks, it fades when Pyro asks in a worried tone. "So you are not a cruel parent?" He hesitates a bit there, musing uncomfortably. "... What I did was to protect him, but it does not excuse such behavior..."

"But you will try and do better?" She presses on, for if there is one thing she hates more than anything; it is bad parents. Especially her own, but she rather not think about it. "You will be a good parent right?"

"I will try." Spy says and everyone sends the adult dragon a worried look when she says smiling. "Oh good, I don't want to break Engie's promise of not using my flames while in town."

Spy gives Engineer a thankful look he made their dragon make that promise, otherwise, he probably would’ve ended up as a very crispy Changeling. The half bird horse simply nods in return. Spy then turns his gaze over to his son and hesitates.
"Wanker." Sniper shoves him over to the foal, saying. "Go over to him already." Followed by almost everyone chuckle of his awkwardness.
Again Spy hesitates, but not wanting to be shoved about by the Bushman again, he steps over to Scout and nudges the kid's shoulder lightly.

Sensing this wonderful feeling again, Scout stops his game with Spike and turns around, beaming up to the only one who can give him the feeling. Giggling madly he leaps around this bit scary looking pony, but he is not afraid, he can't with the wonderful feeling this one is giving out. Speaking of feeling. "Want love." He demands and tackles into this pony's chest.

Derpy lands beside Soldier, been the one who was taking care of Scout, this is not the first time she hears those two words. "I don't know why he keeps saying that. I think he means he wants hugs." She hypostasis to the others.

"No, he literarily means he wants love." Twilight says, turning to Spy, now lying down with the foal to Scout clinging to his chest. "Changelings feeds on love."

And knowing Scout is Spy's son also explains that Bonk effect the kid can get from time to time. "I figure that is why he's got so easily hyped around us." Sniper remarks.

Spy nods and must admit he does find that ability very strange himself. "I can't do that though, I figured the mix of Changeling and pony magic gave him that ability." Turning his gaze up to Rainbow Dash. "His charge attack does remind me when you fly around at full speed, plus he can walk on clouds."

Rainbow blinks. "You can't?"

"No, but I can crawl on walls."

Heavy chuckles at this. "Spy is spider pony." yet does find that thought a bit creepy too. Shaking off that thought, Heavy asks while watching Scout cling to Spy with a very satisfied look on his face. "You give little Scout love?"

Spy nods and is happy he has gathered a lot these past days, for Scout is quite the small glutton. And being able to be around his boy without having to worry about who is watching. Everything is so much easier with the team's acceptance and protection; for that, he is eternally grateful, he voices this to the team.

"Perhaps now you stop distrusting us so bloody darn much." Sniper says and with; "Take good care of that kid, spook." He leaves the library.

Soldier and Demo does as well with Demo saying. "He may be annoying at times, but he's a good kid."

One by one the other leave, and lastly Spy gently bite Scout around the chest, using his long fangs to hold the foal in place. He gives Twilight and Spike a thankful nod which Twilight returns with her 'you welcome' and feeling way lighter, he carries his son back to Zecora.
She welcomes him back by nuzzling him above his horn, follows him over to the bed and after Spy has placed his son back before his chest, she lies down beside him. Letting her beloved changeling uses her love towards him to feed the foal.
Spy kisses her. "Je vous aime." to then turn his attention back to his son there is now crawling on his back to check out this new pony beside him.

 

*Human world*

Sniper looks up from his small nap when someone walks into the room, watching Spy hesitatingly picks up the sleeping Scout and awkwardly holds the boy in his arms. Without a long almost defeating sigh, he sits down beside Sniper, stroking Scout's messy brown hair. It wakes the kid and Scout stare confused up to Spy, then still a bit confused but also now thoughtful, Scout gets up– Sniper has to bite his lips not to laugh of the boy pulling Spy’s mask in wonder. More so when the usual so uptight man is letting him. "How affected are you?" Sniper asks, no need going deeper as Spy knows what he is talking about.

Spy sighs again, leaning his head against the curious boy. "My body doesn't feel like mine anymore." He replies, for he cannot see where his emotions start and where BLU Spy's ends. This very moment, he feels so much like his other there must be letting out his love to Scout and this Zecora. He cannot fight it, his soul doesn't want to fight it and the darker part of his mind there hates his other is nothing compared to what he is feeling now. "I wish I could say my mind still is my own, but his thoughts are invading mine every night." Eyeing the young child before him there for once doesn't look at him with hatred in his eyes. "…Invading my waking hours too."

"Is it really that bad?" Sniper asks, for Spook sure makes it sounds like he hates it.

With another sigh, Spy makes his son sits down on his lap, wrapping his shaking arms around the boy. "I don't know... how would you feel if you were losing control of yourself like this?"

Sniper straightens up, allowing himself to ponder about that question. He is pretty sure he would hate it if it has been someone else, but being controlled by the other part of his soul? "I don't think I would mind if it were the other me who did it." He replies Spy and thinks it is okay to share this to him. "He and I have sort of agreed that I am the fake one."

"You sound alright with it." Spy points out, pushing Scout's hand away when the boy is trying to pull his tie off, Scout pouts at this.

"It's not that bad really." Sniper shrugs, in fact, he found it quite nice as it for him settles the years-long question. "He still needs me, and he knows it. And it's not like I will die when he comes for my soul, he merely puts me into his body and whatever happens next; I will be right there alongside with him."

Spy snorts as he hands Scout his turned off Disguise kit. "Should've known you do an awful lot of thinking with all the sitting around you do." He has to remove the cigarettes when Scout found it fun breaking them like sticks. The boy didn't find the device that interesting so instead he wants a ride.

Sniper whacks him lightly over the head for that remark, but Spook is sort of right. He does a lot of thinking when there is nothing in his scope. "Shut up and play horsy as you boy wants, wanker." Both eyeing said kid lifting his arms up, repeating the word up.

Rolling his eyes, but not wanting to give into that command fully, Spy pulls the boy up and holds him in a bit awkward hug. Scout didn't seem to find it weird and with a giggle hugs Spy around the neck, not seeing it makes the masked man stiff up.

Sniper smiles at the sight, but it drops when he notices something different. "Hey Spy, look at me." Frowning over the command Spy looks at him, and reveals that Sniper did indeed not see wrong. "Bloody hell, your eyes."

"What's wrong with them?" Spy asks, reaching up to his eyes worried what has happened to them there is making Sniper this shocked.

"They have changed color." Sniper says and is quite surprised seeing cedar brown instead of grey eyes they all– except Demo have. It's weird see Spy with different colored eyes. "They are turning brown."
Spy touches near his changed eyes. Mask hiding most of it, but even that piece of fabric cannot hide his utter surprise. Sniper is too and does wonder what is causing it. "What have you been doing to cause such a change?"

But Spy has no idea. "I- I don't know." He admits, worried what his change of eye color might be forewarned him about. Could this be the first stage of the longing? God, he hopes not, but in case he is going to lose it before Merasmus finish the spell. "If I suddenly lose my sanity and respawn cannot fix it. Can... can you look after Scout?"

Sniper simply nods he will but he would prefer Spy did this himself, now that Scout and Spy finally have made peace with one another– well sort of. He smirks when Scout, unaware of his father's worries starts to pull the man's mask, much to Spy's annoyance but it does snap him out from his worries about his changed eye color.

 

***
(Next day, Ponyville)

Yawning from a very good night, Demo stretched his hooves out and let them wrap around Berry Punch, he must say it is nice having time to date again. Even though he has to force his mind not to think too much about it as it would just put his mind on the complications that he isn’t really a pony even though everything points him being one while being in this world. Demo shakes his head lightly, brushing his starting to wandering mind. He kisses Berry’s forehead lightly, before leaving bed. He may not have a war to fight and can take things rather easily, but that does not mean he can slack off. Still has a job and Demo would very much prefer not wasting the great hospitality the Cakes has given not only him but the whole team.
He takes a quick shower and when done he is taken a bit by surprise when someone suddenly snatches his towel out from his levitation magic. Turning around, he smiles weakly to the perpetrator in form of Berry Punch. “Morning darling.” He greets her, more than happy return the kiss she is giving him. The kiss is sort of rudely interrupted when she throws the towel over his head and starts drying his mane. He doesn't really mind though, he likes it when she teases him. “I think I have dried it enough.”

"Perhaps you should get your eye checked then.” She retorts teasingly while continually drying Demo off. “You are still soaked in water.” On purpose messing up his mane, Berry really likes it as it’s not often she sees ponies with this kind of thick hair. “It’s such a pity you cover your head all the time, I would understand it if you had a giant bald spot, but last I checked; you don’t." She remarks.

Demo chuckles at this. "I really like wearing hats." Berry wraps the towel around his head like some weird turban, declaring proudly. "I got you a new hat!" Before she bursts in laughter of the look he gives her. Demo rolls his eye, but does soon joins her, still chuckling, he pulls the towel off and gives her a small kiss on her the cheek. "Have to go now."

"Come again tonight?" Berry asks, almost teasingly learns up against Demo’s left shoulder with the best doe eyes she can make.

How can he say no to such a face? "I bring the oat-cakes and you the zap-apple cider."

"Deal"

And with one last kiss, Demo dresses up (he did for a second reconsider not putting on his hat) and heads over to the Cakes. He finds the pair in the back, keeping their now month foals in check. Seeing the baby Cakes, Demo cannot help but think about himself having a foal he should lecture. The thought is surprisingly appealing, more so when that foal in his thoughts would look like Berry Punch. He has to shake his head to dismiss that sudden daydream, he has been here too long that's for sure.
Suddenly Mrs. Cakes gasps.

"Big cinnamon sticks, I completely forgot!" She says almost horrified, turning to Pinkie there says completely oblivious. "No, you just fed them bottles, remember?" Mrs. Cake shakes her head. "Not the baby's food!" and just then Mr. Cake remembers too what they have forgotten about. "The food for the huge catering reservation we are going to deliver today!"

Ah, that, Demo remembers they spoke about it a while ago. "I can handle it for you." He tells the two. The Cake pair eye one another, with Mrs. Cake turning back to him asking. "Actually, could you instead perhaps keep an eye on the twins?"
Oh the irony, he was thinking about himself taking care of a kid and gets tasked to do it. Well, speak about fate kicking him for thinking about such things. If fate is this nice to him, could it perhaps grant him the knowledge to unite his souls so he can get a pony long lifespan? That sure would be nice. Anyway, back to the Cakes. "Uh sure, but I have never tried to babysit before." The Cakes eye one another worried, more so when Pinkie declares excited. "Oh, oh! I can babysit them!" Jumping up and down. Demo probably shares the same thoughts as the Cakes that Pinkie is the worst choice for this task as she is very much like a kid herself.
Mr. Cake turns back to Demo with an almost begging look. Well, now he can put babysitting onto the list of jobs he never thought he would try out. "Give me a list what they need." The Cakes breathe out a sigh of relief and while Mr. Cake ready the food they need to deliver, Mrs. Cake writes down a list. When done Demo takes it with his magic and reads it through, well, that is everything he figured a baby need— oh he didn't know they needed to be patted on the back after dinner. Good god, he is glad they wrote that down. Folding the paper, he nods he got it.
Moments later the Cakes leaves with Mrs. Cake telling Demo and the self-proclaimed fellow babysitter to Pinkie. "Take good care of our two precious little ginger snaps!"

Demo nods with Pinkie, being all excited wave's goodbye to them. With the Cakes gone, Pinkie trots back inside and beams down to the babies, ready to play with them but that thought is quickly out from her head when the babies start to cry. Pinkie sends Demo one panicking look before she runs over to the shop's door, doing a peek-a-boo, but that did not work on calming the two babies down.

Now happy the Cakes left a list, Demo levitates it up and skim through it, he finds the answer and feels a bit stupid not realizing that of course the babies would feel lost without their parents. Okay, so he and Pinkie need to distract them from this lack of parents, well Pinkie usual antics aren't working. Perhaps a small ride would do it. He levitates both babies onto his back and still holding with his magic, he trots steadily around the house. Slowly the babies start to calm them, it takes a while but slowly they stop crying, much to both his and Pinkie's relief. And Pinkie can play around with them as she most wanted.

Around midday it is time for their food, while Demo reads the notes left by the Cakes, Pinkie puts the two babies into their stools and offers them their bowls of food. "Okie-Dokie! Eat up!" But of course, the babies did not know how to eat on their own and gives Pinkie some cute frowns. Pinkie takes Pumpkin's bowl. "Like this!" She pretends to be eating the food with almost the same sound Heavy makes when he eats his sandvich.
The babies blink, then Pumpkin moves to copy her, but just then sees something way more interesting which is in form of the tablecloth and starts chewing on it.
Demo abandon the list and moves over to stop the baby. "Pumpkin Cake, we do not eat tablecloths." and with his unicorn magic, pulls the tablecloth out from her mouth. But the baby did not like that and starts crying loudly. Demo and Pinkie look at one another, no idea how to stop this. Did not make it better that Pumpkin's brother Pound Cake got angry they made his sister cry and shows his anger by throwing his food up in the air– and it lands right on his head. His angry frown fades into a whimper and next second Demo and Pinkie are dealing with two crying foals.

"Hey Mr. and Mrs. Cake I was— what are you two doing?" Engineer asks from the door, frowning at the scene of two foals crying with Pinkie doing faces in hope to calm them and Demo desperately reading a long notepaper.
Demo looks up from his reading with; "The Cakes are doing a delivery and asked me and Pinkie take care of the twins but—" He looks back to the crying foals. "They won't stop crying..."
Engineer blinks, then chuckle shakes his head. "I see, first time taking care of a kid?" Demo nods, well then it is a good thing he came. "Alright, let's get this problem fixed. Tell me why they started crying."

"I lectured the girl not to eat the tablecloth, her brother started not long after." Demo explains.

Engineer walks over to the still crying children, looking down he sees what should've been their food, now ruined and on the floor. Well, doesn't this bring back memories? "One thing first, let's clean up this mess and make them some new food."

"Shouldn't we calm them first?" Demo asks, eyeing the crying babies worried.

Engineer brushes it off by waving his right talon. "They'll stop when they get some food."

"Baby food coming right up!" Pinkie salutes and hurries to the kitchen.

Eyeing Engineer who looks like he knows what he is doing, Demo fetches a cloth and cleans the mess.
When Pinkie returns with two new bowls of food, she puts them before the crying babies. "Here you go! Eat up."

Yup, clearly not done that before, Engineer thinks somewhat amused. "They aren't old enough to eat on their own Pinkie. I need two spoons." Pinkie fetches the spoons and hands them to Engineer, he takes both and hands one of them to Demo. "Now watch closely." He pours up a small spoonful of the food and offers it to the crying Pumpkin Cake, when she does not notice, he does a plane sound, rocking the spoon up and down. That gets both babies attention, at first curious they watch the moving spoon, then giggles and Engineer makes the spoon approach Pumpkin Cakes mouth with his own open. She copies him and he gently put the food in, making her copy him closing the mouth. The next spoonful goes way easier.
"Now you do it." Engineer tells Demo.

"You have been doing this before, haven't you?" Demo asks and with his magic moves his spoon around like a plane and does the whole opening and closing mouth thing Engineer did to this baby. Pound Cake did spit out some of the food but did, fortunately, eat the next spoon of food.

Engineer chuckles. "Yeah, I have done this before. Was tasked with most of the child caring since the wife was too busy doing some other stuff."

"What did she do?" Pinkie asks curious, her smile drops when this half bird horse shrugs. "Most of it was business, but I doubt it was more important than taking care of her own son."

Engineer shakes his head. "It does not matter anymore. Here," he hands Pinkie the spoon. "you feed the girl— be careful though."
Pinkie nods and as if in deep concentration offers Pumpkin the next spoon of food, the foal eats it but the next she decides to kick the spoon, making the food land on Pinkie's face. Both babies go into a fit of giggles.
They do stop slightly when Engineer tells Pinkie and Demo to return back to spoon feed them. When done with the food, Engineer then shows them the proper way how to make them burp.

Seeing that Engie here really knows how to handle children, Demo just has to ask. "If you're not too busy, could you stick around and help us with this?"

Putting down Pound Cake. "Well, I am doing a few tweaks to the Apples new cider machine..." Engineer muses, but thinks that can wait for a day since these two clearly are in deep water with this babysitting task. "But I'm sure they wouldn't mind a day's delay. Alright, let me show you two how to do this."

"Thanks mate!"

"Aw it's nothing." Engineer brushes Demo off, and looking at the two messy babies, he smiles weakly. "Time for a bath."
Bringing the children to the bathroom, Engineer shows Pinkie how to prepare a bath properly for a baby while Demo plays a bit with the children by levitating a towel around like a flying snake.
With the water ready. "Alright, Demo; you can bring them over now."
Demo nods and about to grab them, but just there, the two babies decide they much rather want to play tag and runs laughing off. Engineer only laughs at this. "After them you two!" He urges Pinkie and Demo, both starting to chase the laughing babies around, not only entertaining the babies but Engineer as well.
Demo catches Pumpkin Cake with his magic and Pinkie gets her brother in an epic jump, and with that chase over, Pinkie and Demo drops the babies into the water. And Pumpkin and Pound start to cry.
The two turn to Engineer, the bigger creature calmly sticks his claw into the water, waves so the bubbles start to move, catching the babies eyes and they stop crying from this new fascinating thing going on.
With them no longer crying, Engineer asks. "Do this house has some rubber toys?" Jumping a bit when Pinkie shows him a rubber duck there has appeared out from seemly nowhere. He decides not to question it. "Thanks, Pinkie." and puts the rubber duck into the water, letting the babies play with it. He has to stop Pinkie when she brings more stuff for them to play with. "The duck and ball are enough." and grabs some soap, warning the two. "They probably start to cry over this." and starts to washes them. They did cry a bit, but with Engineer humming some country melody, they are way more interested in the song than the soap getting into their pelts.

Pinkie takes over with the singing and when she is done, Engineer has washed out the soap and lets them play around in the water for a bit before he asks Demo to take them out.
The unicorn is about to use his magic to dry them off but stops when Engineer lifts his claws and shakes his head, explaining. "Babies needs to feel an adult's touch." Demo nods slowly and although very unsure with his hooves, he does manage to dry off Pound Cake with Pinkie doing a way better job with Pumpkin.
When they are dry, Pinkie is allowed to play a bit with them.

Engineer takes a seat and plays a bit on the guitar he bought from the bits he had earned from working on repairs around Ponyville. "I am starting getting used to having talons instead of hands." He remarks to Demo, strumming the strings before playing some country melody. "Had to cut the claws though, kept ruining the strings."

Chuckling a bit at that last comment, Demo asks. "What would've you have said if you got turned into a unicorn?" Thinking Engineer could've put a unicorn magic to very good use.

Engineer hums thoughtfully for a moment. "Hm, I must admit I do at time wish I could do the same things you and Medic can do. Building would be so much easier, but—" He changes the melody. "I do not think it would be the same letting magic do all my work. I like feeling my work taking shape under my hands— you don't feel that with magic do you?"
Demo shakes his head. Yeah, he thought so. "I figure that is why this world gave me this form. It is a bit pompous for my taste but I can deal with the plumage hair and tail as the benefit is higher than the annoyance."

"I figure one of these benefits is you gotten taller than most of us." Demo grins, like the others he was quite surprised seeing the smallest of them suddenly has become the tallest.

"Heck yeah!" Engineer laughs which turn into a winch of the smell he is catching."Ugh... this is the only thing I do not miss..." But it has to be done. At least this time there is someone who can do the job for him. "Come on Demo, time for me to teach you how to change diapers." Engineer can't help but laugh at the face the unicorn has.
Again the babies would much rather play around, and starts crying with Engineer catches them. He completely ignores them this time, telling Pinkie who tries to cheer them up with her funny antics. "You can do that after we are done, Demo." He calls and pulls the reluctant unicorn over. Like with the babies, Engineer ignores Demo reluctance and explains how to do this properly; at least he's not cruel to tell Demo he should use his hooves for this. Pinkie is not that lucky, but she is fortunately very good using her hooves from being an earth pony and with both diaper changed and the dirty ones are thrown out. It is time for the babies to sleep, that part goes rather easy, bit of music and dim light and those two are out cold quickly.

The Cakes returns just when the moon is up, both quite surprised finding a third member in form of Engineer sitting on a chair, playing a soft tune on his guitar while Demo and Pinkie clean up for the babies.
"How did everything goes?" Mr. Cake asks carefully.

Putting down the cloth, Demo must admit. "Babysitting is harder than I and Pinkie thought, but with a little help from Engie; I say we did a fine job."

Pinkie nods in agreement. "Yeah, we would've been lost without him." And with a small sigh explains everypony in the room. "I've thought babysitting meant just more playtime, but oh how wrong I was! Being a caregiver is way more responsibility than just being a playmate. And today, I learned that sometimes our desire for responsibility can outrun our actual ability to handle it."

Engineer chuckles lightly of what both these two has learned out from this. "But it never hurts asking others for help."

"So right you are, Engie." Demo fully agrees and is very relieved that someone from the team knows about child care.

The Cakes smiles and seeing how nicely they all handled this, Mr. Cake asks. "Will it be okay if we asked you to do more babysitting in the future?"

Pinkie and Demo look at one another, Demo turning to the Cakes with. "Uh, sure, but do us the favor and make sure Engie won't be too busy when you ask us."

"At least until we get this whole babysitting thing straight." Pinkie says, glancing at the smiling Engineer.

Chapter Text

It has been quite a while since he last woke in a fit of dread and fear, but usually, that would be from his nightmares, not from the smell of smoke which usually says that Pyro is once again trying to burn down the place. Medic snaps awake, realizes he is in the pony world, so no Pyro and hurries downstairs to find the source of the smoke. Both to his relief and disgust, he finds the source of the smoke is someone's cooking, no wonder that whole meal is black from how much smoke is in the house.
“Oh, morning Medic.” Rarity greets him with an awkward smile, from the looks of it; it seems he wasn’t the only one getting a rude awaking. “Morning frauline Rarity.” He muses back before turning to the meal there deserves to get thrown in the trashcan, much to his horror; two ponies are eating this stuff. Without a word, he removes the food and throws it out, much to the unicorn kid’s disbelief.

“Hey! I worked really hard on making that!” Sweetie Bell objects to this unicorn having the nerve of throwing out her breakfast, this stallion eyes her with a look clearly saying that he really doesn't care how she feels about it. “I would only feed this to my worst enemy.”

“Oh, don’t be so picky mister.” Rarity's father argues lighthearted and drinks what should’ve been juice, now it looks more like oil. He sends this light grey unicorn a small stare when that one levitates the glass out from his own magic and throws it out with; “That’s not picky, it’s simple survival.” Hondo Flanks turns to his daughter, frowning. “Your new boyfriend is quite the—“

“He’s not my boyfriend.” Rarity quickly corrects her father, much to Medic’s relief, she sends the unicorn a small look. “He’s my houseguest, and a friend, nothing more.” Before turning back to her parents with the question why her family is here. “I wasn’t aware you would come on a visit.”

“We wanted to surprise you!” Sweetie Bell says once again joyfully.

Rarity's mother Cookie Crumbles smiles in agreement but has to admit. “Sorry dear, I and your dad can’t stay for long, but I am sure you two will have a great time during our vacation.”

That catches Rarity truly off guard, she hasn’t scheduled to house her sister. If she had then she would’ve asked one of her friends to house Medic since Sweetie Bell is usually using that room when on her weekend visits, but this isn’t simply a weekend it sounds like. “And… how long will you be gone?” She asks her parents with a nervous smile.
“A week, seven days and six nights.” Her mother says joyfully, not at all seeing the panicking look in her daughter’s eyes. “I know, such a short time to spend with your little sis.”

Sweetie Bell jumps from the excitement she feels being with her older sister for a whole week. “We're gonna have the bestest time two sisters could ever have!” She runs past an uncomfortably looking Medic and outside to grab her luggage. “I’m gonna go grab my stuff from Dad's wagon.”

Rarity must admit that she wishes her parents warned her about this a bit earlier but it has never been their style, still won’t stop her from arguing. “But I've got such a long to-do list.” Then sighs when realizing that they probably already have their plans set and it wouldn’t be fair if she told them no. “Oh well, I suppose 'spend time with your sister' will just have to be added to the list.” To then snaps her attention to the door when her younger sister has dragged a whole mountain of luggage inside.
“Just a few necessities.” The filly smiles.
Rarity frowns lightly but does not voice anything as she knows far too well how much it means to have the right clothing to the right situation. After another sigh, she turns back to her parents, giving them a weak smile.

With them set and this houseguest of their daughter has removed the breakfast, Hondo Flanks figures there is no need to stick around longer. “Have a nice week you two!” He and his wife give both their daughters a goodbye hug and with that, they head out onto their vacation.

The two sisters return back to the kitchen, Rarity frowns seeing that Medic has for some reason found a very big interest in the pot which Sweetie Bell used to make her breakfast, she clears her throat, getting his attention and telling both him and her sister. “Now, let's get that kitchen all cleaned up.” She moves over to remove the mess, does stop when her sister says confused. “Cleaned up? But we haven't even eaten yet.” In which she replies as she heads over to the remnants of the food Medic yet hasn’t removed. “Well now, Sweetie Belle, I appreciate the gesture, but we simply can't eat this breakfast; it's burnt.”

“More than that.” Medic smirks and shows Rarity what he found in the pot; it’s a black goo, and it is moving. Rarity stares at it, just to comprehend what she is seeing before she can though, he grabs the pot. “You get it back later.” Grabs the remaining burned food and heads upstairs to his current room to figure out what made this destroyed food move as if alive. Also to get a bit away from that squeaky toy there happens to be Rarity's sister.

Rarity stares after the bit crazy doctor pony, but quickly recovers as Medic finding such things interesting is the norm for him and she figures he might have a little fun with the stuff. Hopefully, he won’t leave too much of a mess.
Her sister on the other hoof does not understand Medic's quirks and asks confused. “Where is he going?” and Rarity replies with a small shrug. “Perhaps trying to see if he can return your burned food back to its former state. If not, never fear, my dear.” She trots over to the shelves to get what she needs. “I'll get a proper breakfast going.”

“Can I help?” Sweetie Belle asks.

Rarity turns to her, very unsure what her sister can help. “Oh, er, of course, er, in one moment, Sweetie Belle. Let me just get things started.” And she returns back to her task in making a proper meal, Rarity completely forgets about her sister, only realizing it when Sweetie Bell cries loudly. “Rarity! I thought you said I was gonna help!” Much to Rarity embarrassment, so to make up for it, she lets her sister put the garnish on the fried eggs. She suggests this but even that simple tasks seem to be too much for Sweetie Bell as the filly crashes the table she prepared and almost ruined the breakfast as well, almost, so, fortunately, Rarity did not has to start over.
After breakfast, Rarity suggests her sister clean the kitchen, hoping Sweetie Bell won’t ruin anything while she brings Medic- who has once again forgotten the world around him in favor of his new discovery there was Sweetie's Bell attempt in making a meal. Levitating the plate with fried egg, Rarity knocks on the door. “Medic, your breakfast is ready.” She hears him speak something in a language she did not understand, quickly followed by: “Oh, come in, come in.” She steps inside and frowns seeing that his room is once again a mess with papers lying around. At least it is only papers this time, last time she got a living and frog legged orange at her face from a spell he tried out after Twilight’s lessons. She lets Medic takes the plate. “Here you go. Do I even dare to ask what you are doing with Sweetie, eh... breakfast?”

Well, it was less interesting than he thought. “I had hoped your sister had succeeded making her abomination food alive, but it turns out it was just remnants of air stuck in the pancake dough.” Pity, he would've liked another specimen like the monster bread.

“…. That was pancakes?” Rarity asks with eyes on that black goo in the pot, not sure she should be impressed or horrified what Sweetie Bell has made with her cooking skills. Well, in any case, Rarity has better things to worry about. “When you’re done eating and playing with Sweetie Bell’s burned breakfast, could you be a dear and clean it?” Oh and before she forgets. "I presume you rather not have to share the room with a little filly?"

Medic nods she stand corrected, he doesn't mind kids but he sure heck haven't the patience for them either. So, yes, he would be happy if that Squeaky Bell doesn't bother him.

Seems like she has to share room with her sister, Rarity finds it unfair throwing Medic out because of this sudden change of plans. Sweetie Bell will only be here for a week after all. She nods and heads back downstairs, happy to see that her sister hasn’t messed up the cleaning. She helps her with the last part and when done, figures Sweetie Bell can help by bringing the dirty clothes to the washing room while she prepares her inspiration room to the new line she is working one. Rarity regrets to have left her sister for when she returns to check on Sweetie Bell, she finds to her horror that her sister has washed her expensive one-of-a-kind designer crocheted wool sweater and before she could get it out from the sun, it shrank, much to her great frustrations.
Still trying to not blow in front of her sister but needed to get a bit away from this mess, she heads back to her inspiration room, telling Sweetie Bell. “Stay out of trouble, okay?” She later wishes she hasn’t left her sister alone in the room.

Meanwhile, Rarity is having her share of trouble with her sister, another filly is having her own problems in form of the pony there usually compete in the Sisterhood Social along with her has gotten sick. “Why does Amethyst Star has to get sick at the worst time?” Dinky Doo whines heartbroken to her mother. She has been looking so much forward to competing with her stand-in sister, now she won’t be able…
Derpy brushes her daughter’s mane gently, understanding Dinky’s frustrations but: “If Amethyst could choose when she gets sick, you know she never would’ve chosen it now.” Dinky lower her eyes. “I know…” She muses before turning them back up to her mother with tears in them. “But I have been looking so much forward to this…!”
“I know sweetie.” Derpy says and does wish she could take the role as stand-in sister, but Derpy is her mother plus her bad eyes make her a very bad chose for competitions such as Sisterhood Social.
Fortunately, Ponyville is filled with mares there might be a stand-in sister to Dinky. “What about we ask around? See if somepony wishes to compete with you?” She suggests.
Dinky gasps in surprise to then leap in joy. “Yeah! Let’s go!” and the filly is out from the house. Derpy follows with a smile and the mother and daughter starts asking around for a stand-in sister for the upcoming competition.
That task proved harder than thought. Most mares either didn’t feel like competing, didn’t have the time or have their own sibling to compete with. Leaving Twilight’s library with her very disappointed daughter behind, Derpy muses her thoughts out loud. “I know it’s called Sisterhood Social but does that mean no colt or stallion can compete?” Maybe she should ask the Apple family about it, they are after all those doing this small festival. “I need to ask Granny Smith about the rules who can be a stand-in sibling.” She tells her daughter there nods and the two head to Sweet Apple Acers, on their way they encounter a very miffed Sweetie Bell. Dinky greets her and asks the few years older unicorn foal. “You going to compete in Sisterhood Social?”

In which Sweetie Bell replies with a loud huff. “I was planning but my un-sister said it was uncouth!”

Dinky titles her head in confusions of what this white curly-haired foal meant, she turns to her mother for declaration. Derpy steps over to the angry Sweetie Bell, worried what she has just called her sister. “Not all ponies like to get messy. Rarity is one of them… Sweetie Bell, did you and your sister get into a fight?”

“She’s not my sister anymore.” Sweetie Bell grumbles and before Derpy can speak again, she trots over to find one of her friends.

Derpy watches this filly leave and is quite worried, perhaps she should speak with Rarity after she has found a stand-in sibling to her Dinky.

“Mom, can you refuse someone being family?” Dinky asks confused but also worried as they walk towards the Apple farm. Her mother eyes her surprised, then smiles weakly. “I’m sure Sweetie Bell doesn't mean it. She’s just angry at her sister at the moment.” Didn’t eases up this young filly's worries. “Will you un-daughter me if you get too angry?” Her mother laughs lightly and pulls her into a hug with: “You will always be my daughter, nothing going to change that.” That eases up Dinky’s worries, she hugs her mother and feeling much better, follows over to where the oldest residence of Ponyville is taking her nap.

After have woken Granny Smith, Derpy explains the old earth pony about her small problem and asks the thought there crossed her. “So I was wondering if a stallion could be Dinky’s stand-in sibling for the event?”

Granny Smith scratches her chin, musing. “Well, the Social's always had a pretty loose definition of what is a sister.” Turning her gaze to the young filly with a smile. “As long as you share a bond that represents the spirit of the Social, you're in!”

So anypony sharing a bond of a sibling will do? Well, that does kinda take out her good friend Time-Turner. Yes, he likes Dinky but he is so… awkward around foals and has more the silly neighbor vibe with her daughter than anything. Turning to her daughter, Derpy notices that Dinky's eyes are shifting in her thoughts, then the filly lets out a loud gasp and declares up to. “I know who we can ask! Thanks!” She tells Granny Smith and the filly runs off. Derpy wonders who her daughter is going to ask, guess she’s going to figure out soon. She turns to the old earth pony. “Thanks, you really helped making Dinky’s day bright again.” Granny Smith nods in return and Derpy follows her daughter to whoever Dinky wants to ask.
That somepony turns out to be Soldier, bit to Derpy’s surprise and yet she can sort of see why. He and her daughter has gotten quite good friends.

“I can be your brother of arms for a day!” Soldier declares and already preparing himself to make a training course there will help Cadet in the upcoming battle she speaks about. “With the training you have done, you won’t have any problems smearing those maggots inside—“

Derpy has to stop him there, this isn’t the first time he thinks Dinky’s so-called fights are part of the War Games. “No enemies Soldier, it’s a competition for fun.” Soldier sends her a confused look. “Smearing their insides is fun.” He points out, she shakes her head and has to remind him. “Dinky’s enemies have to stay intact and breathing.” He looks rather disappointed but they have reaches a point in their friendship that he listens to her words without doing anything stupid.

Dinky doesn't really understand much what her mother keeps telling Soldier not to do, only that if he does it, then somepony will get hurt like that manticore there attacked Town Hall and she dosesn’t want that to happen. “Many of the ponies competing are my friends' Soldier.” She tells the olive green pegasus.

“So this is a competition to strengthen the bond among the soldiers?” Soldier asks, Derpy nods he got it right. Then it that case. “I won’t smear their inside against the nearby wall. But I can still kick their ass in the competition?”

“No harming the others.” Derpy smiles, happy she has realized Soldier is literal which makes her careful not to say anything he might take the wrong way. Taking a step over to him, she whispers as if it’s a big secret. “Don’t tell Dinky, but the soldiers are in fact Civilians.”

Soldier grumbles but does not start yelling as he usually would when hearing he will compete against civilians, according to Derpy; Cadet thinks they are competing against fellow soldiers and seeing how excited the kid is, well he will keep his mouth shut. Turning to Cadet. “Alright! We only have one day to get the training course right, so let’s get training Cadet!”

Excited Dinky salute him. “Yes sir!” and giggling runs outside so they can make a substitute course for tomorrow’s competition.

“Thanks for understanding.” Derpy says to Soldier, the stallion turns to her, grumbling. “Wish it was fellow soldiers, it makes it easier.” and that is why she said the others are civilians, Soldier has made as big solum promise he can that he will not harm civilians as long he is part of the Royal Guard. “I know, but Dinky has really looked forward to this.” and thinks she better asks her good friend Time-Turner if he could help these two putting up a reasonable and safe training course. “I have a friend there can help you with the course.” Soldier nods and after Derpy has dragged Time-Turner out from his lap and explained him the situation. The brown earth pony with an hourglass for a cutiemark tells the two. “Come along you two, there is a lot we need to make for you to be ready— miss Dinky Doo could you be a dear and fetch some eggs for me?”
Derpy smiles and is about to aid but then remembers the issue between Rarity and her sister. So after have reminded Time-Turner that Soldier takes words literally and listens if using military terms, she leaves the three to check on the designer unicorn.

Walking inside Rarity boutique, Derpy calls for the designer pony. “Rarity, if you’re not too busy, can we talk?”

“Oh, just one moment, I need to get these fabrics washed for my fabulous new line.” Rarity’s voice replies from the back. Derpy decides to walk over to where she heard the unicorn, thinking Rarity will tell her if she’s not welcome there. Looking inside the washing room, Derpy is about to voice her concerns about what Sweetie Bell told her but forgets it when she sees a tiny but very stylized sweeter. “ooh, I wasn’t aware you could get such designs to pets.” She says, turning to where Rarity is putting her new clothing designs into the wash.

Rarity lets out a huff. “My favorite sweater... ruined because of that Sweetie Belle—“ She didn’t see where she was going and accidentally steps on her cat Opal. Understandably the cat hisses at her for stepping on his tail before turning around and returns to wash himself. Looking at her cat, then at the sweeter, Rarity gets an idea and levitates the sweeter onto Opal. Much to the cat’s annoyance but Rarity didn’t see it, she’s just happy someone could use the greatly shrunk sweeter. “Oh, Opal-wopal! It's as if Sweetie Belle knew the sweater was perfect for you.” Then remembers what her sister did to the sweeter in the first place, plus like Sweetie Bell, stubbornly staying mad at her. “And Sweetie Belle should consider herself perfectly lucky that this thoughtless mishap turned out all right.” She huffs and returns back to work, oh, she has almost forgotten about Miss Hooves. “Oh sorry, I had a lot on my mind. What was it you wished to speak with me about?”

Which reminds Derpy why she came here in the first place. “I heard from Sweetie Bell the two of you got into a fight, is that right?” She asks the unicorn.

Rarity hangs the new clothing to dry, scowling she replies the older mare. “I wouldn’t call it a fight. Sweetie Bell kept messing up my stuff, so I might have gotten a bit angry at her.

Understandable, Derpy sure knows how much a foal can get on somepony’s nerves, especially when it comes to sisters. She and Amethyst Star did sure fight a lot back when they were foals and even today they can have a sisterly spat. “I can relate to that, but—“ She follows Rarity back to the shop. “I and Amethyst Star never went so far to renounce the other as sisters.” Rarity does not seem that bothered, busier decorating a dress in blue diamonds. Derpy steps over to the unicorn. “Rarity, are you really planning on staying angry on Sweetie Bell from a few small mistakes?”

Rarity turns to her with a huff, in her eyes what Sweetie Bell did is far from being some small mistakes. “She almost destroyed my kitchen– do you have any idea how long it took for me to clean that up?”

“What did she do to cause such a mess?”

“She… she tried to make me breakfast.” Rarity replies hesitant, feeling a bit embarrassed as her younger sister did— well the thought was there, but Sweet Bell didn’t do a very good job. She voices this to Derpy, adding as she attaches the baby blue diamonds onto the outfit she is making. “In fact, her ‘help’ did more harm than good, she ruined my sweeter—“

“The one you put on your cat?” Derpy asks just to be sure.

Rarity nods. “That’s right. And when I told her to stay out of trouble, what did she do? She cleaned up my inspiration room and ruined a whole week of brainstorming!”

Derpy turns to the clothing line Rarity came out with not long ago. “But you got back on track.”

“Ehm… yes— but I might not have.” Rarity argues, stubbornly returns back to her work. Checking the box for the sapphires, she realizes she has run out and she would have more if not for Sweetie Bell. “Rrgh! This is what I was talking about.” She tells the grey pegasus greatly annoyed. “She used all of my former rare baby blue diamonds on a silly art and craft project.” Scanning the room for it. “Now where is it?”

Even with her bad sight, Derpy ’s spots it first. “Found it.” and walks over to see what all the fuzz is about. The sapphires Sweetie Bell used have been shaped into a heart around a drawing of the two, Rarity might not see it as the drawing is a bit crude but Derpy sure can see the love and care behind it. “Oh~ this is so sweet!” She praises the work and shows it to Rarity. “I remember the first art my Dinky did, it was horrible but I could feel the love and care put behind every line of that drawing— Rarity?” She asks, noticing the unicorn is holding a hoof over her mouth with eyes filled with tears. Derpy is not sure it’s because the unicorn find this just as loving as her or heartbroken that her diamonds is used to such a crude drawing. She gets her answer three seconds later as Rarity cries out loud. “Oh, Sweetie Belle! My one and only sister! What have I done? All the time I could have spent with you was wasted complaining and wishing you were gone!” She snatches the art out from Derpy’s hooves, but this pegasus didn’t mind, in fact, she is happy knowing that Rarity finally sees that Sweetie Bell tried to make her big sister happy. However, she does get a bit worried when the unicorn collapses onto the floor, crying loudly. She pats Rarity’s shoulder gently. “There, there, what about we go out and find your sister?” She asks, forgetting for a moment she is speaking to an adult mare and not a filly.

Fortunately Rarity did not take notice of that, otherwise, she might’ve gotten quite offended. All she heard is the grey mare’s suggestion. “Yes! I must get her back!” She jumps onto her hooves, declaring loudly. “As Celestia is my witness, I shall never be sisterless again!” and with those words she gallops out, leaving a quite dumbfounded Derpy behind. About a half minute later, the grey mare follows and helps searching town for her sister. They find Sweetie Bell that evening, hanging out with Applejack and her sister, Rarity gasps happily. “Sweetie Belle!” She trots over to the group sitting around a campfire and warming marshmallows. “Oh, I have been galloping all over looking for you. I–“ Sweetie Bell rudely cuts her off by hitting away the hoof Rarity has reached out to her.

“Oh hello, un-sister. What are you doing here?” Sweetie Bell asks coldly, for she hasn’t yet forgiven her older sister, in fact, she is annoyed Rarity found her. “Better be careful, you might get some dust on you.” She mocks her sister.

The Apples and Derpy all sense the hostility coming from the unicorn foal but for now, decides to let Rarity sort this out on her own.

And Rarity is planning on just doing that. “Oh, Sweetie Belle, I want to apologize. I am not better off without a sister.” And to her joy, Sweetie Bell admits the same, adding in a sad tone. “Spending the day with Applejack and Apple Bloom made me realize that.” Rarity laughs out her relief and she steps over to hug her sister. “Oh, Sweetie, you don't know how happy I am to hear–“

“And that's why I'm adopting Applejack as my big sister!” Sweetie Bell interrupts her, much to everypony’s big shock, runs over and hug her new acclaimed sister. Still hugging Applejack’s front hoof, she tells her no longer older sister Rarity. “A sister is someone who loves and takes care of another sister. Applejack's a real sister.”

“Sweetie Bell, that’s… that’s not how it works.” Derpy tells the still upset foal. “You cannot choose family, only the views on them.”

“Yeah! Besides, she's my big sister!” Apple Bloom cries angrily of the thoughts one of her best friends is trying to steal her older sister. The two foals grab each a leg of Applejack, doing a tug of war who she belongs to.

Applejack did not like where this is going. “Yeah, um—“ before she can voice her thoughts on this uncomfortable situation, Sweetie Bell shoots an angry remark to her sister. “Or maybe she should be your sister, so she could teach you what a good sister is supposed to be!”
Rarity trots over to them, almost kneeling before her sister to show she is really serious about this, Applejack just wishes she realized what the problem is before she spoke. “But I don't need lessons on being a good sister, I-I promise! Listen! I'll show you how to cook my favorite quiche! Or, or, I'll show you the proper way to beautify your mane. Won't that be fun? Hm?” and Applejack is not one bit surprised to see an annoyed frown on Sweetie Bell’s face, less so when the foal asks Rarity. “You want me to go home with you, so we can do what you wanna do?”

Rarity did not see the problem there caused this rift between them, only that she did something wrong. “Uh… yes?” she replies although hesitant.

She can’t believe Rarity, Sweetie Bell groans loudly and trots off. “Just forget it!” She needs to get some distance from Rarity before she starts thinking everything is uncouth.

Still a bit angry, but not enough to abandon her friend when she clearly needs support. Still, just to be sure. “We’re still sisters right?” Apple Bloom asks her sister and when Applejack nods she got that right, Apple Bloom leaves to have a chat with her friend.

With both foals gone, Rarity walks over to Applejack, grumbling “Well, that apology went swimmingly.” To then asks the country pony annoyed why she made her look so bad in her apology. “Applejack, why do you have to be so good and make me look so bad?” To her bigger annoyance, both Applejack and Derpy chuckle, seeing something she cannot. “What?” She asks, turning to the young mother in form of Derpy when she says. “Oh Rarity, it’s a wonder you cannot see that you're refusing to share your virtue with your own sister.” Said curly haired unicorn raises a brow of that remark, not sure if she should feel offended that Derpy just has indirectly called out she did not embrace her Element of Harmony. “But I generous with her!”She exclaims, lifting her hoof as if preparing a fine meal. “I share my knowledge how to do a fine meal, how to stay out of trouble, I- I was trying to teach her how to do her hair correctly.”

Applejack rolls her eyes, somewhat amused by Rarity shortsightedness. “But you never allow others show their generous nature.” She taps her friend lightly on the chest. “You are so busy seeing the world your way that you do not see the beauty the others try to make.”
Rarity blinks, still not really getting it, so Applejack tries a different approach. “Being sisters is like… apple pie!”

“Or a good muffin.” Derpy giggles.

“That too.” Applejack nods, returning back to the now really confused Rarity, she smiles weakly to the unicorn. “Stick with us sugar cube. See sisters as an apple pie, you are the apples, amazing with everything there can be made out from them if just a bit creative and Sweetie Bell is the crust, it is a bit messy but taste amazing. Both good separate but you can only have a perfect apple pie together.”

Rarity has to think about it to understand what Applejack is trying to tell her, yes both things are good on their own but apple pie apples are a mashed mess and the crust without the apples is just a crumbly mess. She gasps, finally getting it. “I know what I need to do! I just hope it isn't too late...” She adds to the two mares, both which is giving her a weak smile but does promise they will help with whatever she is planning.

*next day*

“Don’t take this the wrong way my dear friend, but…” Time-Turner winches slightly of the mere thought of what he dealt with yesterday. “Your partner is— how best to describe him? Brutish effective perhaps?”

Derpy smiles weakly, she does feel a bit sorry for her friend, for when she found him, Soldier was forcing poor Time-Turner to do pushups. “His father was a soldier.” At least that what she got when he started on monologing why he was a soldier in heart.

“Ah, then that explains everything.” Time-Turner muses, more so why that brute’s father called him Soldier, sure suits him. The attitude from Soldier does worry him a bit though. “Are you sure Dinky Doo can take his… strong personality? I mean I couldn’t even tell him I wasn’t a warrior but a pony of science.” Derpy sends him an ensuring smile. “Don’t worry, doc, Dinky likes Soldier and he won’t cause her any harm.” Well, he trusts her words on that one, then a chime reminds him of why he is here. “Great whickering stallions! The main competition is about to start, better get moving my friend.” He urges Derpy and both trots over to the place.
They find a good spot beside a brown unicorn and a species Time-Turner cannot name. All he knows that these two are associates to his good friend Derpy.
The unicorn turns to Derpy, “Ey, heard from Solly he was competing with your kid.”
Derpy nods. “That’s right, doc helped them with the obstacle course.”
Both unicorn and other creature blink, with the other creature— if Time-Turner remembers correctly, that one’s name is Engineer. “Sorry miss, Medic’s not here” Engineer says.

Derpy giggles. “Oh, sorry I forgot you call him doc too. I mean Time-Turner.” Gesturing to her earth pony friend. “He’s a doctor too— well not medical.”

“Most know me as Doctor Whooves— No relation to miss Hooves, it is quite a funny story— anyway, I’m a doctor of scientist, so many things can be solved with the right machine.” Time-Turner smiles, he gets a delightful surprise when Engineer chuckles and says in agreement. “You got that right doc. I have built a few contraptions of my own, one of them being a teleporter.” Before Time-Turner can get more details from Engineer, Derpy stops him, declaring excitedly. “The race is about to start!” The group turns to the competition.

As the sibling pairs line up, Demo notices that Applejack is paired up with some other foal. “Hold up, why isn’t Applejack competing with Apple Bloom?”

Oh, she forgot they didn’t know about the plan. “Rarity and her younger sister Sweetie Bell got into a fight, it got so bad that Sweetie Bell doesn't want anything to do with her sister. I and Applejack helped Rarity realize what she did wrong, and now she is trying to fix it.” Derpy explains the two. Time-Turner already knows of the plan, he was the one who helped to make sure the illusion won’t be broken before time.

“And how exactly will she fix it if she’s not here?” Engineer asks frowning. The race start and the groups set off, it is a bit surprising that Soldier and Derpy’s kid did not take the lead but Soldier has never been the fastest, they aren’t the slowest either, that is Applejack and Sweetie Bell. At the first obstacle, Applejack falls into the mud, so deep, in fact, she disappears for a moment and when appearing, she is covered in mud.

“Miss Applejack should have about seven minutes of air from the breather machine.” Time-Turner muses and activates a clock just to be sure.

Engineer turns to this other doctor, a bit confused what he meant by that. “You have a machine down in the mud?”

“Oh yes, it makes sure miss Applejack doesn’t appear before the race is over… hopefully.” Time-Turner admits, he did only have a few hours to make this, he voices this to the two stallions. “Not my greatest work, but perfections requires time- time I did not have thanks to a certain military pony.”

Derpy giggles sheepishly. “Sorry about that doc.” She is after all partly at fault of her friend being trapped in doing push-ups.

Demo and Engineer exchange a look with one another, surprised that not only they are speaking to a pony there knows how to make machines, but that Applejack currently is underneath the mud. “So if Applejack is down there,” Demo points at the mud pool. “then the one competing with Sweetie Bell...”

“That’s Rarity.” Derpy confirms, turning to her friend as Time-Turner remarks thoughtful. “I’m surprised miss Rarity is taking being soiled in stride.”

Engineer laughs, he too is a bit surprised but is also happy that Rarity considers family more worth than her mane. Turning back to the competition, he must admit that it is good seeing the two work so fine together. Eyeing the other team in form of Derpy’s daughter and Soldier, those two are doing a good job as well, and it is surprising that Soldier knows how to be gentle with the foal. As he doesn’t hurl Derpy’s foal as thought up to the barrels for mashing grapes to make the juice, instead he lets her jump onto his back to reach the barrel.

“Never thought I would see the day Solly being patient.” Demo remarks, as like Engineer is baffled watching Soldier wait for Dinky to make the juice without yelling at her like he would towards them.

“You never told him that his loud voice will ruin somepony’s ear?” Derpy asks a bit confused, the two sends her a look and she explains. “I told him that and explained that if he kept ruin somepony’s ear with his yelling, someday they won’t be able to hear him- or the danger.”

“No, we haven’t.” Engineer admits and feels a bit silly about not explaining Soldier such things. Guess they all were too busy fighting in the War Games to really get to know one another. It is perhaps a good thing they came here, Engineer sure heck has learned a lot of new things about his fellow teammates in their time here. “You told him that straight out?”

Derpy nods. “I have to, Soldier is literal.”

“Well, that explains a lot.” Demo muses to Engineer there nods in agreement, both feeling silly they haven’t realized that before someone told them.
After that small revelation, the two return back to the competition. Neither Soldier’s or Rarity’s team won, that is Berry Punch and her younger sister there did. Demo smirks proudly seeing that.
“Times up.” Time-Turner declares and leaves his seat. “Better make sure Applejack get out from the mud.” The others head down to Rarity and Sweetie Bell, the filly has just realized that the one she competed with is not the one she thought it would.

Confused, Sweetie Bell looks around for the orange earth pony. “Wait, where's Applejack?”
Turning to the first obstacle she sees Applejack reappear with a loud gasp for air, and after having returned Time-Turner his machine, Applejack trots over to the others.
Sweetie Bell is very confused. “I don't get it.”

Demo chuckles down to her. “You wouldn’t be the only one if Miss Hooves didn’t explain us beforehand.”

Applejack chuckles as well of this brilliant plan is successful thanks to a friend of their friend. “We switched places over at the very first mudhole.” And is very thankful Dr. Hooves gave her that breather machine, for no way she could’ve held her breathe for that long to keep the illusion. She notes herself to thank him somehow.

Still dumbfounded, Sweetie Bell turns to her sister, asking. “So, we did the whole competition... together?” and Rarity replies smiling. “That we did, little sister. Well, except for the start line.” She points out. Apple Bloom jumps in between them, declaring proudly. “But you finished together!” Wait, Apple Bloom knew?
“You mean... you were all in on it?” Sweetie Bell asks the Apples and her sister, looking at the others, she realizes that they all seem to have known. That is truly touching so many adults did all of this for her sake. “You did this for me?”

Rarity steps over, correcting her little sister. “Us. I did it for us.” Much to her joy, Sweetie Bell nuzzles her head against her in the sign of affection. “You see? We are apple pie!” Realizing that only Applejack and Derpy would know, she giggles weakly to the confused crowd. “Uh, I'll explain later. For now, I think we deserve a celebration!”
Everypony cheers and she proudly says the place when her sister asks. “The spa, of course.” And apparently, everypony thought it was a joke, quite the contrary. “No, I-I-I'm serious.” She tells the group, sure she did this for both her and Sweetie Bell, but she really wants the mud out from her pelt before it dries up.

“What would you like?” Engineer asks Sweetie Bell and she replies still amused by her sister. “I would like do the obstacle course again!” Alright, so what about this. “What if we all do the course together, after that; we clean up.”

“Not at that sissy spa.” Soldier grumbles, with Demo nodding in agreement. “I prefer a simple shower then.”

Rarity rolls her eyes but she guesses that’s just how stallions are, at least her sister has also learned how to compromise. “If you do the obstacle course with me again, I go to the spa with you, deal?” That she can agree on. “deal,” and the two sister runs over to the starting line.

Chapter Text

*human world*

It’s middle of the night, all but one is sleeping after a whole day of waves of fighting robots.
Spy has not been in the fight for a whole week now, he has gotten too weak and no matter what Medic does, Spy keeps getting weaker.
But as his body gets weakens, his mind is getting sharper. Spy stares at his own reflection in the bathroom, one of the few times he has the mask off and that reveals how weak he has become. He is pale, has signs of weight loss and breathing is getting hard, but his eyes, now closer to red are showing how sharp his mind has become, how suddenly aware he has gotten these past weeks. Spy is not only starting to see what BLU Spy is doing in his waking hours, but also remembering things he before has forgotten. One of them is something he saw a month before he became the spy for Mann co.
He would’ve gone there to check up on this faint memory there might give them some answers, but he can’t. His body has gotten too weak. Spy puts the mask on again and walks slowly out from the room, it is humiliating that even walking takes a lot out from him, asking for help has gotten less so. He— BLU Spy trusted them with one of his biggest secrets, so he knows he can trust them with this information too.
Spy knocks on one of the doors, it takes a few attempts but Engineer does emerge and is understandable quite annoyed from this early wake. “You better have a good reason for this Spy.” The short man grumbles.
“I do.” Spy says but before he can explain Engineer— or Dell Conagher as he now remembers the man's true name is thanks to his sharpened mind. “Can I sit down?” He asks.

That question takes Engineer a bit off guard, takes him a moment but he soon realizes that Spy does not look so good. “Of course.” He lets the man of espionage inside and Spy almost collapses on the nearest chair, seeing that Medic wasn’t joking that Spy needed to be taken off battle duty. “Should I get doc?”

“He can’t fix it.” Spy brushes the offer away but would appreciate something else. “Would like a glass of water.” Engineer gets that for him and with his throat not so dry, Spy tells the man why he woke him this late. “I know where we can find information to this whole soul-split business.”

Engineer takes a seat, frowning lightly at Spy’s statement. “Why haven’t you revealed this sooner?” Sure would've helped them a lot before they got all this dimension separation problem.

“I just remembered.” Spy replies, taking a sip of the glass, wondering for a moment when he started to remember things so much clearer. He comes to the conclusion it began when he eyes started to change color. “And I was sort of debating if I could trust you with this information. Those files will have a lot of personal data.”

Ah, Engineer can now see why Spy is indirectly asking him to do this fetch mission. “So you figured I might get there?”

“Not on your own, with Sniper you might.” Spy points out, very relieved he doesn't have to explain everything. One of the reasons why he chose Engineer; that man is no fool. “I will guide you the best I can.”

Engineer nods and without a word leaves to get Sniper, like with him, Sniper was quite annoyed to get waken this late but quickly brushes those feelings aside when Engineer explains him the deal. The two return back to Engineer’s room where Spy explains them in better details. “The building is disguised as one of Mann Co research facilities but is, in reality, the archives of every mercenary there has been fighting this worthless war. Engineer do you have paper lying around?”
Engineer fetches some of his blueprint papers along with a piece of chalk, giving it to Spy who starts to draw a rough sketch of a building. Seeing this does catch him by surprise. “I didn’t know you had a photographic memory.”

“I didn’t have it a month ago.” Spy admits, he too is a bit surprised how sharp his mind has gotten, he even knows every name of this team— well, except Pyro, those files only revealed her gender, not that info matters anymore. Finishing the rough sketch, Spy hands it to Engineer. “It’s not the whole building, only the path I used.“ He coughs before returning back to this quick plan. “Hopefully they haven’t changed the building layout from my latest visit.” He turns to Sniper— Lawrence Mundy; the tracker of this team. “The entrance is an old sewer, located near the river. It’s hidden but that shouldn't be an issue with your sharp eyes.”

Well, seems like Spook is really done being an asshole towards them. Sniper most appreciate it and nods, reminding himself to not start a fistfight with S1pook the next time the man mocks his choice of coffee. And now that Spy is on the subject. “Speaking of eyes—“

Spy brushes the obvious statement of what has happened to his eyes, Sniper does not need to remind him. “Check your fuel, can’t have you run dry halfway.”

Sensing Spy doesn’t want to talk about the change, Sniper leaves the room, letting Spy discuss the last things with Engineer. He puts extra fuel and takes an extra tank just in case to the camper. When checking his ammunition, Engineer joins him, asking curiously. “Why the sudden interest in his eyes?”
“Haven’t you noticed they aren’t grey anymore?” Sniper asks back.

Engineer blinks, he must admit he hasn’t been looking in Spy’s eye lately. “It’s not like he and I see each other eye to eye.” Figurely and literally speaking.

Figures, Sniper muses to himself and after both have gotten into the camper, he explains Engineer. "About two weeks ago, Spook’s eyes started changing. They started out cedar brown, but now they have a reddish tone and I can’t figure out why they have changed.”

“That is quite strange.” Engineer muses in agreement, it also does makes him wonder. “You think that is his true eye color?” Sniper shrugs, which leads to Engineer’s second question. “Do you think you were born with your current eye color?”

“I never have done much thought about it.” Sniper admits and turns to Engineer. “Have you?”

“Can’t say I have.” Engineer muses.
The rest of the drive happens in more or less in silence, Engineer only speaks when guiding Sniper to their location, around an hour later, they both find themselves at one of Mann Co, many facilities. Engineer eyes Sniper who is watching the building with a stoic expression which stays one even when the Aussie gestures him to follow. Engineer does, knowing far too well that Sniper knows a lot more about stealth missions than he ever does, so he follows Sniper’s lead without question.

It takes him a moment but Sniper does find the entrance Spy spoke about, strapping his rifle tightly to his back and suggesting Engineer in doing the same with his shotgun and pistol, the two carefully head into the water and through the rust off bars there should’ve been blocking this sewer system. Engineer does turn on a flashlight but Sniper quickly tells him to turn it off. “It's going to give us away.” He starts walking deeper into this underground system. “Your eyes will get used to the dark.”

Engineer hesitates but does as Sniper said, he did not feel comfortable walking in almost pitch darkness but he guesses he rather wants that than being the one causing them to get spotted. At a crossroad of the sewers, Sniper tells him to contact Spy since they cannot see the map in this darkness. Engineer turns on the walkie-talkie and asks the man on the other side. “We’re at a split path down in the servers.”

“Go right, stay close the left side of the walls, there is an old door hidden in the darkness.” Spy replies with a somewhat stained voice as if struggling.

Trying his best not to think about Spy condition Sniper follows Spy lead and about halfway down the hallway, he finds the door and carefully opens it. The door makes what sounds like a painfully loud creaking sound, all they can hope is no one heard it. Sniper doesn't dare to close the door again and when sure Engineer is right behind him, he follows Spy’s drawing of the building. They have to make a few stops as guards are patrolling but fortunately, they did not have to fight and does eventually get to the place. “There a way more files than I expected.” Sniper can’t help but remark when stepping into this room. He only thought this Gravel war has been going for four to seven but all these files indicate that it either has been going longer or a lot of people have died.

Agreeing with Sniper’s remark, Engineer walks over and pulls out a file from the first of the many shelves holding files of former mercenaries of the Gravel war. This one was to a former Demoman, from the looks of it their current Demoman took over this one when the respawn failed. Not surprising, what is surprising, however, is how long he was hired: barely a year before failure. Must’ve been one of the unlucky ones, like them this former Demoman too had a clone and that one died three days later. Engineer returns the files and takes another, this one belonged to a Heavy. He was hired about six years ago, and… he died after six months his enrollment. He grabs another file, this one an Engineer, again with a clone and again the two died before a year has passed. “Sniper.” He calls as loud he dared, walking over to where the man stands, also reading a few files. “All of them I read only lived a year before respawn failure.”

“Same here with me.” Sniper muses worried, showing Engineer the five files he quickly checked, one of them happens to be their former Scout files. “All have a clone, all died in less than a year.” Which leads to: “How long have you been working for Mann co?”

Engineer has to stop and think for a moment. “About four years.” Eyeing Sniper. “You?”

“Two.” and that leads to another very important question: “Why did we live longer than the others?” Engineer doesn’t answer him by voice, instead, the man grabs a handful of the former men hired by Mann Co, searches for a bit and find one of the current team, the one he found is the files of Soldier.
Sniper does a quick glance to Soldier’s file, noticing that whoever wrote this knows his true name which is Cade Jarred and although no military wanted him, the man still went to war where he earned a medal for courage but also got sent to jail after he recklessly broke a line of the Nazi’s during the attack on Normandy at D-day. Sounds like Soldier alright. According to the file, Soldier began calling himself Jane Doe after the soul split which screwed up with his already unhinged mental state. “Did you find something?” Sniper asks Engineer who has been reading the deceased and Soldier’s files in great detail.

“I need the rest of our files to be certain.” Engineer muses and heads back to the archive to find them. Sniper joins him not long after. Engineer finds Heavy, Demoman and Scout, Sniper finds the rest and when lying down the files, the Aussie grabs his own files and seems relieved of what he finds in them. “Care to share?” Engineer asks.

“Latest report simply states my genetic code haven’t shown signs of corruption.” Sniper says, quite happy he isn’t dealing with any nasty after effects like Soldier, but there is, however, something there catches him off guard; his profile description. He has no Australium in him, very odd since all Australians are pumped with that stuff but does explain why he is a runt. The second thing he voices to Engineer. “Seems like Spook did get his original eye color. My eyes were brown before the soul split.” He puts down the file while trying to imagine himself with brown instead of grey eyes, it is strangely enough very easy. Turning to Engineer he notices the man has a large frown on his face when reading his own file. “Bad news?”

Engineer nods slowly, like Soldier, he too is dealing with genetic corruption. Something went wrong during the procedure and it has caused a bit decay to his brain, it does explain why he couldn’t come up with new inventions ever since he began working for Redmond. Why he was struggling with certain things he once only had minor issues with. It’s not good and hopefully this decay of his mind will disappear when becoming whole. Well, better check on— voices snap both to the door, reminding them they are not safe here. “Let’s bring the files back to the base.” Engineer suggests, grabs all the files, including those there died and stuffed them into his bag and after Sniper has made the all clear, they both return back to base.

***
(three hours later)

Opening his eyes, Spy blinks when he finds himself inside the dimmed room at the base. How did he return back to the human world? Surely it couldn't be that simple than just waking up and be back with no explanation. Spy sits up and is startled how much it takes from him doing just that, Medic did warn him that his health is for some reason declining but he didn’t feel this bad yesterday— hold up, Medic didn’t say that. He only voiced his worries how he seems to forget simple things— no, that’s not it, Medic did— Spy has to stop himself there, something is wrong with him, more so than ever. He does not like this one bit, better get a hold on Medic and tell that his conditions have turned to the worse. Oh and he somehow has returned from the pony world, which is quite weird too. He wonders if RED Spy is around.
Spy struggles to get up on his feet and when finally back on his feet, Spy stagger out from the room and stops when he notices that this is not BLU's base, this is RED. Part of him question why he is here, while another finds nothing wrong as this is his base— wait what?
Spy freezes up from having those two kinds of thoughts being inside RED base. Searching his mind, he realizes that he has gotten memories of both being in BLU and RED, he— he has both memories! Spy snaps his reddish eyes down to his suit, this one is RED so does that means he is the RED Spy? He can honestly not tell with his memories anymore. But if he is dressed up as the RED Spy but has BLU's memories... does that mean he is whole? Is this how it feels becoming complete again? Well, if that's the case then he figures he can understand with the mess of memories from both, but that does not explain why he feels so weak he can barely stand up. He needs to speak with Medic about this. Spy heads towards the infirmary but collapsed halfway, he is much weaker than he anticipated. Spy is pretty sure he passed out, for when he comes around again he finds himself on Medic's table with the doctor looking at him.
"Ah good, you're awake." Medic smiles but Spy notices right away that it is stained. Something is wrong and Spy bet it is about him. "Just tell me already, what is wrong with me?" He asks tiredly.
Medic hesitates does reply him. "You're dying."
Spy's reddish colored eyes snap to him, startled hearing this, and yet he is not, the RED side of him remembers that Medic did warn him about this. Not that it matters anymore, the world is truly cruel to him. He going to die not long after he has become whole. "How long do I have?" He asks, void of emotions, he’s not really afraid, rather he is numb to the thought he soon will meet his end. But unlike other times when he has been close to death, this time he feels a great deal of sadness, for now, he had something worth to live for.

"I hadn't been expected your health would dwindle this fast." Medic admits, but ever since Spy's eyes began to change, his health has faded rapidly. "I thought I at least had a couple of weeks in figuring out what is causing it." and must ask. "Any changes lately?"

"You ask me, weren’t you suppose to be the doctor here,” Spy snaps angrily, then realizes his mistake. “...Sorry, I... didn’t mean to snap at you.”

“I’m used to it.” Medic brushes it off, not really offended by it. He’s actually more surprised that Spy apologized for it.

Spy sighs, he fears Medic can do nothing for him but at least the doctor can save the others from this fate... still wish he could’ve lived longer now that things finally had started to look bright for him... "I don't know how, but I somehow have all of the BLU Spy's memories— I have more than once caught myself thinking I am BLU Spy."

Medic blinks hearing this. "You mean other than those about him being in Equestria?" Spy eyes him with a somewhat hard gleam in his now almost red eyes. "I remember everything that happened to him, including what you did to my— his head."
Medic stares at him for a few seconds, then, without meaning to, he laughs. Spy shoots him a glare, grumbling as he struggles to sit up. "Consider yourself lucky I have the RED Spy memories and too weak at the moment to send you through respawn." Okay, okay, Medic gets it, but still, it is quite the surprise that the RED Spy is grumpy about the whole head thing; as if it happened to him and not the BLU Spy. If he now has the BLU Spy's memories, then yes, he has been through it. So Spy has both BLU and RED's memories but is greatly weakened in the progress. Where does that leave Spy in Equestria? "I wonder how BLU Spy is doing?" He wonders out loud to the bedridden spy besides him.

"You think he's still there?" Spy asks, for if thinking about it, he feels like he was there, enduring his son waterfall of chatter out in the Everfree forest. "I was there last night, patrolling the Everfree forest."

"It wasn't you, but the BLU Spy." Medic corrects him and if Spy survives this deadly fatigue then the man might deal with this mix of memories for a while. Figure they all would when becoming whole, but that is to be expected from how long they have been separated. Spy turns away, musing with a hint of confusions. "I remember it so clearly... could've sworn it was me." Medic doesn't say anything, but he can see that BLU Spy memories really are inside of the one beside him and has a very strong grip on his mind. It makes the question how the BLU Spy is faring. "I need to letter them." He says and tells Spy hard as this team's doctor. "If I see you leave bed I am going to strap you to it again." He gets only an annoyed grunt as the response.
After having written the letter about what was going on with Spy, Medic finds Ignis who is currently watching the sunrise outside. "I need you to send this right away." Medic requests him.
Ignis nods, takes the letter with the medical seal on and with a burst of magic, the letter is sent. Medic can only hope the BLU Spy is doing better than the one they have here.

*Equastria.*

The Diamond Dog tasked being the messenger happily runs towards Ponyville, about ten minutes later, Medic is reading the letter sent by his other while Rarity levitates the Diamond Dog a treat for bringing them the letter. With the dog running back to Pyro, Rarity asks the other unicorn. "What does the letter say?"

What his other is saying about Spy's condition is troubling indeed, more so when Medic did take notice that Spy was acting quite... off last time he saw him. Folding the letter, he informs the confused Rarity. "I need to see how Spy is doing" and leaves the boutique in haste.
When he arrives at Zecora's hut, he knocks on the door and moments later Zecora, having a still small child shaped but surprisingly freaked out Scout on her back.

Zecora blinks seeing him here. "Medic, what do I owe you for this early visit?" and lets the doctor pony inside.

"How is Herr Spy doing?" Medic asks, he did not have to look for long to find the changeling, still sleeping in the bed.

"His responses have been slow, of why I do not know." Zecora replies and must admit that these few days Spy has become less responsive to her and anything. Last night he barely spoke but she merely thought it was because Scout got too chatty.

Medic walks over to Spy, pokes him and the changeling opens his eyes, he notices that Spy's eyes are unfocused. "Spy, how are you feeling?" He asks but gets no answer, the changeling doesn't even seem to notice him as Spy turns his unfocused gaze to where Zecora and the now whimpering Scout are. Medic does not like how Scout is responding to Spy. "Scout, what do you feel?" He asks the child stuck speedster.

"…Nothing." Scout whispers, he can't sense any emotions from his father like he usually can and that terrifies him.

That's doesn't sound good at all. If Scout can't pick up any emotions from him then that means Spy have none this very moment. Turning back to Spy, Medic asks again, however, this time with his horn glowing in case Spy will get dangerous. "Spy, do you know who we are?" But again he gets no response. Spy slowly and clumsy leaves the bed. Completely ignores Medic and walks over to Zecora there steps away, she too senses something is horribly wrong with him.
Medic is quick to action and restrains Spy with his magic, it stops the changeling but from how even now tries to walk, it seems he isn't aware he is restrained. "This is bad." He muses, more so that he has no idea how to fix this. Is this the Longing? Is becoming a mindless husk their ultimate fate if they do not become whole again?

"Please help him recover from this horror." Zecora begs him, wrapping her hoof over the whimpering Scout.

Medic nods somberly and drags Spy with him back to Twilight's home. When Spy is fully restrained inside the library, Medic gathers every one of the mercenaries, including Miss Pauling as he is very aware they cannot keep this hidden and also thinks they all need to know what will happen to them all if they do not figure out how to mend their split souls together.

"Bloody hell..." Sniper gasps hearing what has happened to Spy, turning his gaze to where the guy is standing; changeling seems completely unaware of them. He walks over to Spy and gives him a hard push, Spy falls, gets up and again just stands there like a living statue, completely unaware that Sniper had pushed him. Turning away from Spy. "How long before this happens to us?" Sniper asks, seeing Spy has become a mindless husk is scary but the thought he would become one too straight out terrifies him.

"If we count how long Spy has been stuck here, then I say Demo and Soldier have about four months, I, you and Engineer about five and Heavy and Scout more or less six." Medic replies after a few calculations.

"How do we stop it?" Heavy asks and sort of answers his own question. "We go back home and we will be fine?"

Medic shrugs, before he can answer, Miss Pauling does in an awfully quiet voice “… This is what I tried to avoid…” Everyone looks at her, she doesn't seem to notice. “It’s not the first time I have seen this. Back when the respawn was in its infancy; the soul split people would over time turn like this if leaving the range of the respawn for too long.”

“If we return to human world, we will be fine?” Heavy asks her.

Miss Pauling nods. “Yes, the system will reboot both of you into equal strength.” The sole reason why the company started on this whole soul split business.

"Can we still save Slim?" Engineer asks. Spy has gotten a lot more likable in their time here and now he knows the relation between him and Scout, Engineer would hate to see Scout lose his father like this.

Miss Pauling hates to say this but... "I think it is too late for Spy." Eyeing the zombie-like Spy, she feels a tight squeeze in her chest watching him like this.

Noticing the distressed look on her face, Demo asks carefully. “You alright lassie?” She refuses to meet his eyes when she answers. “I’m fine, just frustrated about this situation.” But Demo gets the feeling there’s more to it, but for now, will keep his tongue.

Turning to the Administrator's assistance, Sniper asks. “Should we finish him off, miss?”

Miss Pauling knows it might be for the best, but… she can't stop clinging to the thought there might be a way to save one of the oldest members of the countless mercenaries she has dealt with over the years. Unlike the others there died under a year, Spy has stayed long enough to give her a chance to get to know him better. She still remembers the day where he gave her a surprisingly good advice how to deal with the constant workload Helen gave her, made her see past his cold demeanor and a person instead of an asset she began seeing all the mercenaries of Mann Co. “Is RED Spy still alive?”

“Weak but alive.” Medic replies.

“Until he dies, we will keep Spy on our end alive.” She commands and for once since coming here, the mercenaries obeys her without questions.
Medic writes back to his other about what has happened to the Spy on his side.

The human Medic finally understood why the spy on his side has both BLU and RED's memories. and when Sniper and Engineer returned from their side mission, things got a lot clearer but also way more confusing.

That night, Medic reads up on what his counterpart in the human world and him came up with in theory to why this was happening to them. "Sniper and Engineer’s counterparts went to a facility holding all former employees of Mann co- including our personal information.” He stops for a moment when noticing the deep frown on Miss Pauling’s face but she does not voice he disapproval for those in the human world pulling such a stunt. Turning back to the letter. ”According to my other, he theorizes that the fluid used to connect us to respawn was the shards of the lost Elements.”

“Explains why we had them in the first place.” Engineer muses.

“But it doesn't explain why it would cause early respawn failure on most of Mann Co mercenaries.” Miss Pauling points out, that part has always confused her and that has made her extra careful not to get hurt for even though she too is connected to the machine, the respawn will not revive her if she dies.

Medic nods and reads what his other has come up with on these new founds. “My other spoke to Ignis what would happen if someone not chosen by the elements would wear it. According to him: the elements would reject people it does not consider worthy as a bearer.”

“So if someone not chosen got this fluid Element shards in them, they would die?” Demo asks a bit confused and also horrified.

“Well not directly, if my study of the Elements of Harmony holds any truth; it cannot kill. Instead, the rejection of the Element shards would show in form of a respawn failure.” Medic eyes Miss Pauling. ”According to the files our counterparts got, this rejection would happen in before a year has passed, is that correct?”

She nods. “The technicians never understood why but the fluid used to bind your whole genetic code to the respawn machine would suddenly stop working in between the span of a year.” She glances to the zombie acting Spy. “He was the first who never dealt with this problem— none of you ever dealt with it like the others.” She remarks but cannot hide the relief as she has sort of come to appreciate this bunch of crazy mercenaries.

Heavy is not so sure about one of them. “What about Scout?” He got hired about a year ago but is he chosen by the Elements or will he get rejected like the others before them?
The others eye one another worried, none of them daring to voice their fear if Scout might not be chosen as an Element bearer like the rest of them. However, Miss Pauling spares them from this worry. “Before Ignis kidnapped me, I updated your records and I can ensure you; Scout is out from harm of a rejection.”

“Still, I would suggest our counterparts back home to keep him from respawning, just to be sure.” Engineer muses, which shouldn’t be that hard since Scout in the human world is also stuck as a small kid. Turning his attention back to Medic. “What else did you and RED Medic come up with about this whole mess?”

Returning back to the notes of his other.
“Oh, right, well this is still only a theory, but the theory goes that us transported to Equestria could've caused a magical reaction on the link to respawn thanks to the Elements microscopic shards bond to our very bones. At first, none of us would feel any difference but over time it seems the magic in this world and respawn back our world are having a power struggle. The magic here would try and 'reform' us to the strength needed to use the Elements which will explain why we here are getting stronger but ends up robbing those in our world bodies physical bodies. While the respawn are using this link between us to transfer our memories to those back home; thus why they see our memories and feels our emotions. The respawn ‘thinks’ that is where they belong in the first place. Over time us here in Equestria will be at our full strength but have lost our entire mind while them back home will have both sides memories but their bodies won't be able to support their complete mind for long."

***
"So how do we fix it?" BLU Demoman asks back in the human world, like those in Equestria are gathered for this crucial meeting.

Unlike the one in Equestria, Spy here can attend the meeting but can't really do much else as his body is deteriorating fast and is starting to have trouble breathing. Still, he does have enough strength to say this. "I think... it's too... late... for... me..." He wheezes weakly, doubting he will last the night.

Medic fetches his medigun and turns it on Spy, it helps enough that he shake back to life and look less weak but from the readings, this is only temporally. Spy's body will soon dwindle faster than the medigun can heal him. But it should give him at least a few more days. "Don't give up just yet herr Spy."

Spy nods slowly, really wishing there was someone who could help them with his rapidly shorten time here. Hang on, Pyro managed to become whole, maybe she has something. "Ask Pyro."

Medic quickly writes a letter to the only female on the team, about some painful fifteen minutes later. A letter returns and Medic reads her answer and frowns of what she is saying. "She says she and 'other her' made peace, before the other her suddenly disappeared — which made her very sad, but she is also sort of happy for when the other her was around, they kept burning the pretty forest."

"They made... peace?" Heavy repeats confused about what Pyro meant.

Spy knows exactly what she meant. "She made peace with whatever demon was hunting her mind." and if that was the case then this makes him becoming whole straight out impossible. How in the world can he ever forgive himself what he did towards all those people? His own family? He sights, already accepting his demise. It does sound fitting now he knows what has kept him from becoming whole. "Our own self-loath is making us kill our other, keeping us separated." Explains why he never could stand two meters from his other and why Engineer could for a short time after he— BLU Spy got transported to Equestria.

Everyone in the room is dead silence, some of them startled to hear that they hate who they are, others— like Spy aren't really that surprised hearing this. The first there recovers is Demoman, he gets on his feet with a determent: "I will take Spy to Equestria." Everyone, especially Spy gives him a shocked stare.

"Your other is going to kill you." Sniper points out, begrudgingly has to say that he does have quite the self-hate against himself. All thanks to he is not considered a ‘true’ Australian, not to mention that he does at times believes that his old man is right in calling him a crazed gunman from what horrible things he has done when lost his cool out on the battlefield.

But Demo is steadfast in his choice, for now that he really thinks about it; he has a few times passed the RED Demo without nothing happening. And when they would come to blows outside of battle was when they shared drinks for too long. Demo always thought it was because they got too drunk and remembered they were enemies. Now he knows why, but he finds solace in the fact that those beer-bottle fights rarely ended with a trip through respawn. "Maybe, but not right away." He pulls the very reluctant but too weak to resist Spy on his feet and with the barely able to stand Spy's arm over his shoulder. Demo tells the mildly surprised Ignis. "Fire away." and before the others can stop him. Ignis fire surrounds them.
When the flames disappear, Demo crashes onto a grassy field, seconds later a very sick looking changeling lands not far from him.

"...You fool..." Spy sneers weakly to the same colored as the one here Demoman, the only differences is the cutiremark. The BLU Demoman has an explosion instead of a sword on his flank.

Demo gets on his hooves, stagger but does somewhat get the hang on how to walk on four hooves. "Yeah, I get that a lot." It takes him a moment to figure out how to use his new horn, when he does he levitates Spy onto his back— now he sees what his other meant, magic is awesome! "Come, we better get you to your other before you die." He muses and starts walking towards what he hopes is Ponyville. Glancing back to the changeling when Spy says weakly and devoted of any hope. "...I can...never... make peace of... what I have... done..." Demo sure hopes that won't be the case, otherwise, this would've been for nothing.

*Ponyville.*

Mostly just to get his mind off from the dreadful news of Spook and possibly their soon to be fate, Sniper observes the area outside Ponyville, somewhat wishing the pegasi would've made it rain today. It would suit his mood a lot better than this sunny day.
Noticing movement on the hills surrounding the town, Sniper turns his gaze to check what it is and frowns seeing Demo carrying... Spy?
Sniper blinks, pretty sure that Spook is still restrained inside Twilight's home— unless this isn't their spy. "Bloody hell." He muses and flies over to warn the others especially— Demoman that his other is coming with Spy's other.
When BLU Demoman arrives, those there has been here for a while all awaits him. RED Demoman too, although keeping his distance.

"Where is your Spy?" BLU Demoman asks the awaiting group. His team's Engineer shows him where. Inside this oak tree of a library. Demo would've put down Spy right besides his mindless body, but before he can; BLU Spy very suddenly lashes out and jag his long canine into his right foreleg, sucking out what Demo can only guess is his love.

Engineer quickly tries to get Spy off his team’s Demo, bit tricky for Spy also wants a bite out from him. But fortunately, it greatly helps to have a brain so he forces the hissing like a crazed animal changeling down, allowing Demo to drag the other Spy a safe distance away from his counterpart. When sure no one is in the mindless Spy’s reach, he lets go, admitting as he stares at the now very hostile BLU Spy. "This is the first time he has lashed out like that."

Demo opens his mouth to speak his mind, but is interrupted by RED Spy saying weakly. "...He's hungry... changeling... instincts..." Well that's just typical, so they are dealing with practically a zombie, but instead of brains, this zombie wants to devour love. Using his magic, Demo puts down RED Spy as close he can without BLU can bite him. This is really all he can do for him. "Rest up to you."

It won't work, Spy thinks, looking up to his body— his vessel, he can feel the self-loath of all the horrible things he has done. If he hasn't been so weak, he would've attacked but all he can do it lie there and wait to die.
BLU Demo and Engineer watches the two changelings before turning to the door when Miss Pauling walks inside, requesting them to leave, they hesitates but sensing she does not want to argue. They reluctantly leave. When them out, Miss Pauling turns to the weak but aware RED Spy, musing. “I guess... this is the end for you…”

Spy nods slowly, eyeing this young woman when he senses distress from her. It takes him a bit by surprise. “You care… about me...” He muses weakly back and has to ask. “Why?...”

“I don’t know...” Miss Pauling replies back in barely a whisper. “… I think it’s because you were the first who didn’t die after a year of employment.”
Spy hums in thoughts for a moment before he speaks. “…I was the only… person besides… Helen.” She nods slowly, feeling angry at herself for shedding tears for one of the mercenaries. She should’ve gotten used to it by now. “It’s going to be a pain finding someone just as good as you.” She says with a small but pathetic chuckle. Spy doesn't answer her, looking down she realizes it’s because he has passed out. Miss Pauling dries away the few tears, musing weakly. “I’m going to miss you…” and with that, she leaves, unable to bear the thought of having to watch Spy life fade away.

Chapter Text

"What in tarnation are you doing here?"

Spy blinks a few times but is unable to remove his now blurry vision. Still, he does quickly get aware there soon will be a bloodbath when he sees shapes of two brown unicorns are in the room.

Engineer and the BLU Demo, both have stayed by Spy’s side as a sort of comfort in his last moments, both get on their hooves after the RED Demoman walked inside. Engineer walks over to shove that one out, not wanting a fight to happen around their dying member. "You know what will happen." He lectures the unicorn but RED refuses to leave, instead giving Engineer a calm but firm look. "Yeah, but I need to do this."

Realizing what his other wants, BLU Demo fully agrees, especially when they finally have a legit chance. "Same here." He chuckles weakly. "It might be our chance." RED nods in agreement.

Engineer hesitates, he eyes the now awake but deadly weak RED Spy. “I would prefer you did this somewhere else but… alright.” He lets RED step inside, adding firmly to the two unicorns. "But I am throwing either of you out if you try to kill one another."

"That's fair." Both Demoman says at the same time, they look at each other, chuckles weakly before BLU slowly walks over to RED, explaining. "Self-loath is what keeps us separated, Pyro said that forgiveness—" and his words get rudely interrupted when RED suddenly throws him to the ground with his stronger and way more trained magic. Engineer steps over to throw RED out but that one managed to snap out from this sudden rage on his own and ends the spell. "Shit, I'm sorry mate." He apologizes to his other. This is harder than he thought for that rage came very suddenly and gave him no real clear sense what the root of this anger was.
BLU nods and gets back on his hooves, waiting.
RED, preparing himself if another rage attack would come over him walks slowly over to BLU. He feels anger but something he can control. Not sure what else to do, he nudges his other lightly on the shoulder. Nothing happened at first but after about a moment just standing there, BLU Demoman suddenly attacks by tackling into him and pointing his horn at his throat like a sword. At that very moment, both are happy that none of them has any real weapon lying around.
It took a lot out from RED not to give into his own rage pushing on his mind. In fact, both didn't want to fight the other. "No dammit!" RED growls and BLU forces himself to back away, also struggling against whatever rage there wants him to hurt the other. "I don't want to kill myself!" BLU cries, desperately trying to figure out what is causing this.

Engineer and the weaken Spy watches with a mix of pity and admiration the two Demoman struggling against this ever-present urge to murder the other.

RED Demo tackles into BLU, forcing him up against a bookshelf with his horn glowing in a sign of attack but it never comes. Searching deep in his mind, Tavish finds the source, the reason why he is so angry at himself. It is because he was the one —out of recklessness killed his adoptive parents. He could've easily avoided it, if he had listened just a bit more to them, heard their warnings and not be so set on making such a big explosion. Because of that action, he got thrown to the worst orphanage ever made and when his real parents reclaimed him. Tavish never felt the same warmth his adoptive parents gave him. He often found himself wishing he could return back to them, then remember he couldn't because he killed them.
"I was just a child..." He whispers, knowing that because of this horrible mistake, he learned to be careful, it taught him to never take people for granted and without that skill. He never would've become friends with Solly.
Slowly, Tavish's anger against that old mistake fades, he is still upset but he allows himself to let go of that old regret. Opening his eyes, BLU Demo gaze meet his other and blinks of what he is seeing.
"Why do I see myself?" BLU asks, unable keeping his trembling voice in check of the realization he is looking through the RED's eyes. RED too is dumbfounded and quite freaked out by this, he steps away from BLU but it doesn't stop. Instead, it gets worse, now he cannot say if he is inside his body or BLU's and that really screws up his balance. Both drops to the floor, eyes wide of what is happening and both must admit they are a bit scared. That fear gets washed away by a wave of memories, Tavish whole life flashes over his eye, and when coming to where he became Demoman, he is shocked to find both RED and BLU's memories, very quickly he cannot say which one he is.

"Demo!" Engineer calls when the two suddenly collapses, however before he can run over and check what is going on, a strong orange light appears around both, they disappear in it and when the light meet in the middle, only one Demoman stands, this one with a pelt in dark brown along with his eye, his hair black and the cutiemark now shows a sword having an explosion behind it. Demo falter on his hooves before crashing back onto the floor, breathing heavily with his eye wide open. Engineer hesitates, then slowly walks over to the unicorn. "You alright?"

It takes a moment for Demo to intercept what Engineer have said, thanks to his tangled memories and his body feeling like he has been thrown into a tub of hot water after having been outside in the cold for too long. At first, it hurts but slowly, exactly like when a cold body gets warmed up, his start to relax of what feels like years of being trapped out in the snow. Slowly the pain is replaced with a sense of ease as if he has just gotten rid of aches he did not know he had. "Y-Yeah." Demo nods up to Engineer, still quite shaky after this intense experience, but good god was it worth it. He feels stronger and clearer in the head than he has for years, must say that being whole again feels really good. Getting back on his hooves, Demo notices his pelt has become stronger in color, must say he like this better than the former. "That was intense." He smiles up to the bird/horse. "And boy could I need a drink right now!" He laughs, more so when Engineer rolls his eyes yet unable to smile.
Turning to Spy, Demo's grin fades seeing an aggravated look on the RED Spy's face. Now knowing the trick to this, Demo tells him; for honestly, he did not fully forgive himself for what he did to his adoptive parents. "If you cannot forgive whatever you did to cause you this self-hatred, then at least try and see the better in yourself."

Spy turns his head away, still looking quite sullen that Demo succeeds becoming whole. Demo and Engineer eye one another, worried that Spy won't give himself a break in time.

***

When the others— except Miss Pauling came both to check on Spy but also say their goodbyes, Medic notices right away the changes in Demo, so the one-eyed unicorn explains everyone that he managed to become whole. That gives Medic an idea. "Recall that whole experience, bitte."
Demo raises a brow but does as asked, Medic activates the tracer spell on him and gets the data he so desperately needed for how to fix Spy rapidly fading health. He must admit the emotions is quite intense, but nothing a memory spell can't handle. However, there is something about what the spell is telling him he does not understand. "Making peace with yourself was the trigger." He explains Demo and everyone else in the room, turning to Applejack he asks as he has an idea what truly caused the union of the two Demoman. "Did you feel anything unusual lately?"

Applejack blinks but does answer him honestly. "Yeah, it was weird alright. It felt like when we activate the Elements of Harmony." And from the gleam in Medic's eyes, it seems he has expected this which does confuse her a bit, "Don't leave us out, doc."

"What you felt proves my theory correct!" Medic laughs, turning to the other mercenaries. "The Elements of Harmony is the key to our problem! With us connected to it, we can use its magic to become whole again!"

"Darn," Engineer says, turning to Demo who can't help but stare dumbfounded at Applejack. "That explains the light when Demo became whole. It was orange like the Element of Honesty."

Twilight is happy they have come one step further to the human's split soul problem, but that can wait for unlike some, they still have time. "Don't get me wrong, but can we think about this late when Spy isn't... well..." She turns to the more comatose than conscious Spy. She fears he doesn't have much time.

"Oh right." Medic shakes his head as if getting rid of the excitement he got from the news. He walks over to Spy and with; "A memory spell should fix this." He taps Spy's head with his blue glowing horn. For a moment nothing happens, then Spy's eyes spring open and to everyone's shock, he starts to whimpering of what can easily be mistaken for pain. Medic stops the spell, giving the still pain-struck changeling a startled look. "Well, um... okay this is pretty bad."

"What's wrong?" Twilight asks worriedly.

Medic turns to her, shocked of what the memory spell told him. "He has too many bad memories. I need to go deeper into his mind to find his happier moments but I highly doubt Spy would like I invade his mind like that." The spell he did only makes the one casted on to relive their memories. But because Spy has so many nightmare inducing, then this spell will not work. Medic will need to see Spy's memories but even for his loose sense of morality, Medic thinks that is stepping the line. He wouldn't like anyone see his own memories, so he very sure Spy— who loves his privacy would get quite pissed if he did it.

"Isn't there anything you can do?" Applejack asks, it isn't Medic there answer her, instead it is Twilight. "Well, if we can't use Spy's own memories, then we can try and uses our own memories to remind him the good in himself."

Why didn't he think of that? Medic gasps and must tell this very smart and talented unicorn. "Twilight, you are a genius!" She blushes at the praise, Medic turns to Sniper, thinking he can get her fastest. "Sniper, I need you to get Zecora." He doesn't have to explain further, from the look in Sniper's eyes, he too has figured out that if anyone has the best memories of the best in Spy it is her. Meanwhile, Sniper does that, Medic turns to the others. "I would need the rest of you think about some good moments with Spy."
The mercenaries hesitate, Medic does understand why as Spy never tried to make friends with them and was quite hard to like, he only got better when he came here.
To Medic's surprise, the first who steps forward is Soldier. "I have several proud memories about my team's spy!" He declares.
Medic decides just to go with it and since he hasn't tried such an advanced spell, he asks Twilight to aid him. "Could you extract the memories?"

She steps over, taps Soldiers head with her glowing horn and after several moments she steps away from the bit dazed pegasus and turns her horn and the memories over to the once again comatose Spy. The magic holding Soldier's memories does not cause much reaction from Spy, only a bit twitching but that is a sign the spell worked.
When done, she shows Medic how to do the spell and he steps over to the turned humans while she walks over to her friends. Rarity is the first to share some good memories to Spy. Stepping away from her bit dazed friend, Twilight turns to Medic as he finishing his memory spell on Demo. Without a word, they both give these memories to Spy, this time he twitches as if dreaming a very intense dream. "This is to be expected." Twilight tells Medic. "His mind knows they aren't his."
"Will they fade?" Medic asks her curiously and she nods, explaining. "They will in a minute or so, only leaving behind the emotions."

"I wonder if he can feed on those?" Medic wonders out loud but there Twilight cannot answers as she has no idea. They continually giving Spy the others happy memories about him, when Sniper returns with Zecora and Scout. Spy seems to have gotten stronger, but still not able get out from his comatose state.
While Twilight explains Zecora what they are doing, Medic draws out Sniper's memories to Spy. When done, he turns to Zecora, admitting. "If your memories won't do it, then there is no hope for him."

Zecora nods slowly and walks over to Medic with Twilight by her side. "It is my greatest concern my aid won't help him to return."

"Only one way to find out." Applejack says, glancing to Scout nudging the comatose Spy and does wonder if he can sense that something is not right? They have done what they could for Spy, now everything depends on Zecora.

The zebra nods to the two unicorns that she is ready. They both do the memory spell as Twilight suspected that she would have a lot more than a single unicorn can hold. It seems she was right for both unicorns begin to struggle to keep up the spell, Medic mostly but the support from Twilight gives him the aid to keep up the spell there can be Spy's only hope.

Barely able to contain what feels like an ocean of happy memories, only able because of Twilight. The feeling he has been sensing for quite a while finally gets free and he almost loses the spell when he feels a surge of some powerful magic, for a moment he feels the others before it is over and a silver necklace, bigger than the others forms around his neck, a magenta colored gem in form of medical cross appears. He eyes the just formed Element of Harmony around his neck, the color of the gem and how fast they became friends is a clear sign that he has become Twilight's partner.
Eyeing Twilight, she gives him a weak smile which he returns before both turn their full attention back to this spell there hopefully will save Spy's life.
"This has to be enough." Twilight says, like him struggling to contain all the memories Zecora has about Spy. With a nod to each other, Medic and Twilight touch their horns onto RED Spy's head. Demo has to pull Scout away when he got a bit too close to the two’s spell. The changeling starts to moves, at first he seems to struggle against the memories, then, slowly his body starts to relax.

Just as the group feared the spell has failed an ocean blue light surrounds him and the zombie acting changeling and the two lights meet in the middle. When it fades, only a single Spy stand there, having a blissful look all over his face.

"How are you feeling Spy?" Medic asks him, jumping startled when Spy very suddenly collapses onto the floor and his wings starts to glow stronger than before. Medic is quickly by his side, turning a healing spell on him, but Spy doesn't want to be healed.

"N-No, I- my body...!" Spy cries from the burning sensation crushing through his entire body from all of the light magic he has gotten. By mere instinct, his body releases the overload of magic, sending a small shockwave out from him, startling the others but none more than Spy when this released energy now forms around him and before Spy can comprehend what is going on, the magic wraps around him and everything goes black.
When he returns back to conscious, he feels... weird.
Stronger, calmer, but also very different. He can't explain how, though, only he feels like he has become another person. Spy groans and slowly opens his eyes, it takes a moment to get his sight straight, when he does he notices that everyone in the room is staring at him. "Please don't tell me I look as weird as I feel..." He muses, shaking his head in hope to get this strange sense of lightheaded away.

Hate to break it to him, but; "You look as weird as you feel." Sniper says, like the rest barely able to comprehend what just happened to Spy. One moment he was trembling on the floor and the next he got wrapped into a magical cocoon and came out like... this. He still looks bug-like, but his colors and body shape have changed. His hooves no longer have holes nor are his body black, now it is royal blue, with the underside of his body darker blue- almost black while the back is a warm orange. His before puny bug wings have become bigger and looks like they belong to the wings of a dragonfly in their golden and sparkly color, his tail looks very much like the wings. The same golden color is around the base of his neck. His horn has gotten bigger and has a smaller spike in the front. Spy turns to him, showing his eyes no longer are that ghostly blue, but red and darken where the white should've been in a human’s eyes.

Almost fearing the worst Spy looks down at himself and realizes his own changes. "The hell?" He muses, turning around himself and stops to stare at his now bigger wings. He's not complaining though, he looks way better— his thoughts get rudely interrupted when Scout suddenly tackles into him, crying his eyes out. Not only seeing it but also feeling how scared his boy was from this whole ordeal and how relieved he now is. Spy smiles weakly and nuzzles his head against the crying kid. "I'm alright now." He ensures Scout softly. His boy hugs his neck tightly, as if afraid to let go; Spy doesn’t judge him, it must’ve been scary for his young mind.

He sure is, Sniper thinks and has a feeling that this form is just how a whole Spy looks in this world. Although: "Compared to Demo's simple pelt change, yours are bloody ridiculous." Sniper remarks to the way more colorful Spy.
The new in form changeling shoots him a glare, Sniper notices that there isn't much anger behind them. "I'll try not go overboard the next time you morons decides to overload my body." Sniper chuckles of that combat, it's good to know Spy is back to normal—although the new form needs some time getting used to.

The overload was not fun but in all honesty, that pain was all worth it. "Thank you." Spy tells everyone in the room, if it hasn't been for them, he would've died. "You saved my life, and for that; I am forever in your debt." Something he hates to be but Spy thinks he can deal with these people and ponies who gave him a second chance in life. A life he is certain he can enjoy now.

Engineer just can't help but roll his eyes of Spy's last words. "You're not in our dept. We're a team and that's what a good team does." Heavy besides him nods in agreement, saying with his deep rumbling voice. "Not in dept, but you forever stuck with us." Spy rolls his eyes but does say with a small shrug. "Figures I need to be a bit nicer from now on."

"Don't strain yourself." Medic grins, which earns him a glare from Spy, but all that does is making everyone, including the mares, laugh.

Spy groans loudly but does quirk a smile, it does drop slightly when his red eyes find Zecora. He hesitates for a second, then walks over and she strokes her head up against his now royal blue neck. He smiles, more so when both RED and BLU Spy in his mind agrees on this choice. He kisses her once before he turns to the now very cheerful chatting crowd. He gets the attention and must tell his team of a choice he made some time ago. "I won't return back with you."
Several of them give him a confused and startled stare.

Demo is one of them not surprised hearing this from Spy. He has seen how much he loves that zebra and figured this would happen, hell he too is highly considering staying but he needs to look after his mother. "I figured you would say that." Turning his eye to the pair. "Maybe we should tell Miss Pauling you didn't survive."

Sniper thinks that is best if Spook really wants to stay here and also give them the chance see their families again. "It will be easy making her think you died. And save us the trouble with the Administrator why you didn't return."

"I'll be sure staying off the radar until your departure." Spy replies, once again greatly grateful for the others support.

"What about Scout?" Engineer asks, eyeing the child now chattering happy random at Spy's hooves. The changeling eyes Scout, his eyes pained. "...Hopefully, this age spell will be gone before your departure. I would like to explain him properly." Engineer and the others nod they understand.

Chapter Text

Like those in Equestria, the mercenaries in the human world rejoice over the news that not only did they manage to save Spy's life, but by working together they have discovered a way to become whole again. Also, Scout has finally returned back to normal, he is quite confused as his memories were quite fuzzy in his days as a child, so the others have to explain him of what happened. However even though all of them knows about Spy relation with Scout- all thanks to the memories they got from their other. By Sniper request, none of them would tell Scout about it other than him. "We can't have she knows about it." He tells them in a spot he knows doesn't have any cameras. Like Spy, Sniper knows the cameras blind spots around the base and battlefield, although he hasn't been using them as much as Spy. He will now though, for he can't risk the Administrator knows that Scout is the son of Spy and thus the ticket to make Spy share whatever secrets she wants from him.
Sniper takes Scout over to one of these blind spots, when sure the coast is clear, he asks the still bit confused young man. "How much do you remember?"

Scout hesitates with the answer for quite a while, the new memories of a second childhood is not only mixed up with the Scout in the horse place but also mixed with his real childhood, and he is not sure if those memories about his father are true or just his imagination. He shakes his head. "I don't know, my memories all messed up, man." Scout finally replies Sniper, scratching the base of his head. "I... I remember my old man, but he was never around for me or ma." He turns to Sniper, voicing his idea for this mess of his memories. "I might've imaged one of you as my father when I was a kid, I mean, how old was I? Three?"

"Around that age, yes." Sniper simply nods, wondering how Scout will react when he hears who took care of him most of the time besides from himself.

"So, which one of you had to deal with me?" Scout asks sheepishly. According to his mother, he wasn't an easy child to raise. Didn't make it better his brothers were a bad influence on him either.

"Engineer might've been the better choice but he was needed out in the field, so the childcare came down to me." Sniper explains and must say that taking care of a small child in form of Scout wasn't fun. "And you were a bigger pain in the ass as an impatience kid than you are now. At least now I can kill you if you piss me off."

Yeah, he thought that was the case. So Sniper is the one his childish mind mistook as his father, could've been worse he guess. Sniper might be one hell of a loner but he does have his cool moments. "That explains my messed up memories." Scout grins, it does fade when Sniper sends him a really seriously glance. "What?"

Scout is going to blow, Sniper just knows it. "You never called me daddy. But I did hear you call Spook it." Scout's eyes wide, but before he can go in a rant about the man, Sniper thinks it is best getting all the facts out on the table. "Before you start cursing his name. Scout, Spy is your father."

"The hell he is!" Scout sneers, he refuses to believe that as fact, no matter how much the memories from RED Scout says otherwise.

"Whatever you like it or not, you are his son." Sniper tells the sputtering Scout plainly, doubting it will make any difference if he explains how Spy really tried to be a father in those few weeks. He was bad at it but the attempt was touching. "You can hate him all you like, I figure he expects it since his way of keeping you safe wasn't exactly the best way for you."
Scout fists his hands but does fortunately not speak, allowing Sniper to explains this new development about their youngest member and Spy. "Scout, what I am about to tell you is deadly serious. When we leave this spot, you can never speak about your relationship between you and Spy. If you do, then not only are you putting him at risk but your own life as well."

Scout blinks and gives Sniper a confused stare. "Why am I in danger of being his..." He stops himself, turning his gaze back down to the dusty ground. "You know."

Yeah, Sniper knows what he means and Scout better takes this to heart. "Spy has a lot of dangerous information in that head of his. The Administrator wants that information and if she hears you are his son, then she will use you to get to him."

"Then why does he stay here?" Scout asks confused, more so when what Sniper explains him feels like deja vu, like he has heard this before. "I guess working for her is better than the alternative." Sniper shrugs and his tone harden with his next words. "Never reveal this to anyone."
Scout only nods, he is so confused right now. Spy— the man who has been cruel to him since day one— is his father. According to Sniper, Spy did that in order to protect them both, but... shit couldn't he have done it differently? The few times ma spoke about his father, she always said he was a man to be proud off even if he has done some terrible things.
No matter how many times he asked she never told him what terrible things his father has done. Guess now he knows: being cruel to him. Scout can't forgive him for that... and yet it feels like he already has. It doesn't make any sense.
A clap on his shoulder snaps Scout out from his troubled and confused thoughts, making him turn to the sharpshooter there simply sign him it's time to return back to base. He follows the man, all the way thinking about what Sniper told him.

Back at base a bit odd sight meets them in form of that crazy wizard Marasmus is having what seems to be a very intense but for once quiet argument with Ignis.
Brushing his thoughts about Spy off to this scene, Scout asks Soldier. "The hell is with those two?"

"Ignis had a bad dream." Soldier snorts, like the others he did not see the big deal, but both magic users, especially Merasmus did.

Scout and Sniper blink hearing that and Sniper ask a bit confused. "And?"

"And Merasmus wants Ignis to tell us about it." Soldier replies, adding quite annoyed since Merasmus has threatened to stop making the summon spell if they leave the building. "If we leave, he won't make the summon spell. Marasmus has completely lost it I tell you!"

"I have not!" Said wizard exclaims annoyed, turning to the watching and clearly not seeing how serious this is mercenaries. "What Ignis got was not an ordinary nightmare! It was a vision of what is about to come!" The mercenaries blink, forcing Merasmus to explain for Ignis won't as he believes telling common people about the vision will make it worse. "Ignis kind has an ability to see warnings in form of visions in their dreams." Turning to the crossed arms fire user. "Tell them." He almost commands Ignis.

The alicorn narrows his eyes and tells Merasmus for the sixth time. "Common people are not allowed to hear the future about to come. It will only cause disaster— don't you remember what happens when you told everyone about the volcano and they made it worse?" He demands, for he sure heck remembers that and it could've been avoided if the common people didn't know and instead just got hinted that the volcano they lived up again was about to blow. Instead, Merrasmus made them go into a frenzy, something about the god was angry at them and caused deaths there could've been avoided.

"This is different!" Merasmus exclaims, still annoyed Ignis keep bringing that great mistake on his part up. "These men might be idiots—" the mercenaries shoot him a glare "but they are connected to that ancient magic! They can fight the darkness!"

"This isn't the darkness!" Ignis retorts, his anger made the nearby newspaper blow up in flames.

Heavy quickly extinguish the flames eating the newspaper, about to put the paper back onto the table but stops when he notices the frontline text. "Read this." He requests Engineer and hands the paper to the man. Engineer gasp of what he is reading. "Russia has place missiles on Cuba!"

"Maggot communists!" Soldier shouts enraged and declares they better do something about it.

Sniper rolls his eyes at Soldier. "Do what? We can't leave, remember?"

Merasmus turns back to Ignis, urging him angrily. "Tell them...!" Ignis shoots him a glare. "This better not be another volcano incident." He turns to the mercenaries and tells them what he saw in his vision.
"I was standing on an island, having several metal pillars- a weapon of some sort standing. A song could be heard and everyone who heard it became hostile, they began to yell at one another, then fight and the song got louder. Then... countless of explosions." Ignis hesitates about that last part, the vision made it clear those explosions have to be avoided by all cost but he doesn't know what it is. He explains this to the mercenaries. "According to the vision, not even I would be able to survive those explosions."

"How did those explosions look like?" Soldier asks, for even though he thrives in war, there is one thing he does not want to be unleashed by full force. If that happens then there will be nothing left. His and the others fear of what bomb Ignis spoke about comes true when the alicorn shows the iconic mushroom cloud by his magic. "My god..." Soldier gasps, are America and Russia really going to throw their Atomic bombs at one another?

Heavy turns his eyes back to the paper telling about the missiles on Cuba, the island filled metal pillars. "If they start fight, they will fire the bombs." He tells the others and from the look in their eyes, it is clear that they have realized that too.

"H-How do we stop it?" Scout asks with a trembling voice, he has seen videos of what destruction the two bombs did to those to Japanese cities. He would like that didn't happen to his home.

Engineer fold the newspaper and put it under his arm, giving them a simple answer. "We have to play the peacekeepers." But knows that is easier said than done. None of them are really the bunch known to hold the peace. Hell, they can't even make peace with their other half of their souls.

"Easier said than done." Medic grumbles.

"We have to do something!" Scout exclaims.

"You gentlemen won't be doing anything."
Everyone look up by the voice of the Administrator and she tells them hard. "You weren't hired to keep the peace but to make war. If the bombs do get fired, then it won't be the fault of you."

"Should've known you don't give a shit about an atomic war." Sniper growls.

Helen chuckles, she may be cruel and evil but even she will prefer avoiding getting thrown to a defiled stone age through an atomic war. "Believe it or not, but even I do not wish the two sides throw their toys of mass destruction at one another. There is no profit in a world after the bombs." She trashes her smoke and reclaims yet another, explaining the remaining mercenaries. "If you want to ensure this won't happen, then I suggest you stay away from Cuba and instead make sure the atomic missiles here in America won't be able to fire." That get their full attention, she thought it would. The Mann brothers will get at her throat for not waging their pointless war, but she can handle them just fine and they can return to this war when the Third World War has been avoided. "Since we are lacking over half of the teams, I must, unfortunately, inform you will have to endure working together a bit longer."

The mercenaries roll their eyes of how she voices their ceasefire towards the opposite team, but all silently agree to give her a break as she does want to avoid another world war just as much as them.

"I want you to go to an underground facility, there is the main cache of America's missiles. If they are defused, the President's war council will be less trigger happy. Don't leave any eyewitness."

"Yes, ma'am!" Everyone says and with the coordinates, the mercenaries head out.

Although refusing to say it out loud, Ignis is grateful that woman's meddling has spared them for another volcano incident since she did keep these humans from going to Cuba and try play peacekeepers.
Ignis leaves the base as well, but not to aid the mercenaries in defusing the missiles. "I will see if I can find whoever is making that song to cause aggression in people." He explains them and takes off before they can stop him.

*45 hours later*

After having driven for a painfully long time in tense silence none are used to with this bunch, the mercenaries reach their destination. When they find the somewhat hidden base, they try but pretty much fail to make a proper plan when Soldier throws the plan out of the window and charges at the base, blasting the guards to smithereens. The others groan but decide to follow the crazy patriotic. Heavy starts firing his minigun at everything there moves, protecting Medic and Engineer with his large frame. Sniper and Scout run up ahead, picking off those trying to call for backup and also making sure Soldier won't die on them. Sure he will respawn but it will take forever for Soldier to get back to them since Engineer yet hasn't found a good spot for the teleporter.

When Engineer does find a good spot for the machine, he hurries as fast he possibly can since they have just lost Soldier and Scout to the army residing in this place. With it finally up and running, Soldier appears and with a loud: "MAGGOTS!" He fires a rocket at the army there unlike them won't respawn. Scout appears a minutes later, speeding over to destroy the computer used to launch the missiles.
Engineer puts up a sentry gun and dispenser before he returns back to upgrading the teleporter, only stopping to step away when a mildly annoyed Heavy steps off the teleporter. "I hate snipers." He grumbles, Engineer can't help but chuckle at this and neither can Medic there has run over to the sentry nest when Heavy got shot. "Let's get some payback mein freund." Medic grins maniacally, showing Heavy he has an ubercharge ready. Heavy smirks and they both run off to get a big chunk of vengeance on the sniper there thought he could get rid of Heavy that easy.
Not long after Engineer can hear the minigun and Heavy's booming laugher. Chuckling, Engineer finishes up upgrading his buildings before running over to the computer able to launch the missiles, here he finds Scout busy bashing the machine with his bat. Engineer must admit that he does not fancy the thought, but Scout does have the right idea, so Engineer pulls out his wrench and destroys the computer, ensuring that even if these guys wanted, they cannot fire these missiles.

With the mission over, the mercenaries leaves, Sniper checks the area in case they have missed someone.
When they return back to base, the Administrator does for once praise them for their work, telling them awfully causal. "Don't get too comfortable, you will soon get a similar mission in Russia."

Heavy frown at this but does not object, it's not like they are straight out attacking his home country like they weren't attacking America when they went after the missiles.
"What about Ignis?" he asks, but it is not the Administrator there replies him, instead it is Merasmus.

"He is heading to Cuba."

(Cuba)

Ignis lands on the island. He dismisses his wings of fire, mostly so he won't stand out like a bonfire but also so he wouldn't touch the jungle. Looking around Ignis can hear singing of what sounds like three women. Passing through the jungle, Ignis arrives at the military base located on this island. There he spots those who sing.
It is three gorgeous women, humming a melody while walking through the men filled base and to no surprise, every soldier turns confused around of what seems to be three civilians are doing here. However, for some reason, none of them tries to throw them out.
Less so when the woman in front, having wild orange hair and striking magenta colored eyes, like the two others she is very hot looking. That one starts to sing with a hypnotizing voice

"We heard you want to get together
We heard you want to rock the world
We've thought of something that is better."

The two brunette starts to give the watching soldier both flirting looks and touches as they pass by them.

"Something that changes all the rules
Why pretend we're all the same
When some of us shine brighter?"

The leader asks in her song, stopping before the higher officer who is, like the rest hypnotized by their song. Ignis realizes why when the gems around their necks start to shine of dark magic. At first, they look like magical artifacts but if looking closer, one can see that those gems are part of their bodies.
The leader of the three walks over to the higher officer

"Here's a chance to find your flame
Are you a loser or a fighter?"

She asks, caressing the man over the cheek before moving on, leaving him with a face that he actually consider listing to their words.
The three magical users step into the middle of their crowd of soldiers, singing with a mix of provocation and flirting.

"Me and you, you and me
Why don't we see who is better?
We don't have to be one and the same thing
Oh, what's so wrong with a little competition?
Are you afraid of failing the opposition?"

Several of the soldiers mumbles that they are not afraid, while Ignis is starting dread that he has found the song from his vision.

"You're a star and you should know it
Yeah, you rise above the rest."

The leader sings to one random soldier, taking his gun without any struggle and up to the sky where American recon planes are flying.

"It doesn't matter who you hurt
If you're just proving you're the best."

She throws the gun back to the owner, passing the soldiers now glaring up at the planes.
The three hums their melody, strengthening their song to then shout out to the soldiers.

"Battle! You wanna win it
Let's have a battle, battle of who commands
Let's have a battle, we'll go all in it
Let's have a battle, battle, battle
Battle of who commands!"

The soldiers cheer and along to their song to go to war, the soldiers start to gather their weapons while the three dark magic users wrap them further around their fingers with their song of aggression.

"Me and you, you and me
Why don't we see who is better?
We don't have to be one and the same thing
Oh, what's so wrong with a little competition?"

The soldiers start to sing along with them, not seeing dark magic is surrounding them all

"Battle! We wanna win it
Let's have a battle, battle of who commands
Let's have a battle, we'll go all in it
Let's have a battle, battle, battle—"

"Not if I have anything to say about it!" Ignis lands in the middle of the base, blowing the magically hypnotized humans to the ground.

The three women stare at their at the moment unconscious army, the leader then turns her eyes to him, shooting him a glare for interrupting their song, before she smirks in confidence of their own power. "Why don't you join us?" She asks and her two lackeys start to sing.

Ignis winches from feeling the dark magic in their song, how it is trying to bend his mind to their will. Probably only thing saving him is his status as a full grown alicorn. He flicks the lighter and stops their song by summoning his flames, surrounding them with his own specialized fire magic. "You're messing with the wrong guy ladies!" The flames form behind his back, forming his wings and Ignis drops the disguise around his hair, letting these magical users know that he is more than he appeared. They take a step back from the power he shows, good, Ignis thinks it will prove his point that he is not one joking around. "I am only going to tell you this once: leave or you will feel my wrath."

The three women eye him warily. The leader recognizes this man now that he shows his own magic, she smiles weakly as she is still a bit worried about this one attack. "It's been quite a while, alicorn." The alicorn blinks, it seems he forgot their last battle. Adagio almost feels hurt he forgot about them, but only a little. He might've attacked them otherwise. "Aw~ did you forget? Last time we met you were playing soldier with the humans."
"But all that ended you up in was a face full of our master's magic." Sonata mocks him with Aria adding with a flirting smirk. "I must say, you look better in your true form."

These three were the ones there caused him to become that dimwitted fool? Why doesn't he remember them? The darkness must've harmed his mind or something. Doesn't matter. Ignis lets his fire magic flare in his command. "Leave! Now!"

"As you wish." Adagio agrees smoothly, he hasn't been the only one stuck in a weaken state these past hundred years. But they soon will be at full strength and when that happens. This pathetic world will be at their feet. She signs her two sisters and they leave the place, not completely bugged out that this alicorn interrupted them. They should've affected the humans' mind enough to cause conflict as Disharmony commands them to do.

With these three gone, Ignis dismisses his magic. He doubts this will the be last time he sees those three and yes it would've been easier fighting them now, but he can't risk it. The tension in this area is bad enough and he won't risk a misfiring from a misplaced battle. No, he needs to get those three at a place where he can let out his full power without causing harm and fear to these jumpy humans. He sighs and when sure no plane is nearby, Ignis flies back to the mercenaries base.
When back he tells them what he witnesses and has to make this abundantly clear. "If you spot those three women: do not fight them. They have a magic there can bend people's mind to their will by song." Adding as he disguises himself to look like a normal human again. "Something humans like you cannot handle, I can because of my alicorn magic." Eyeing his old friend. “Merra, you should be able to resist them too, but don’t take your chances, friend.” Marasmus nods he won’t try and see if he can avoid being brainwashed by these magic users.

Ignoring the subtle insult of them being mentally weaker than these two. "So you are the only one who can fight them?" Medic asks.

Ignis nods. "Yes, and the moment I have gathered the last ingredients to Merasmus for the summoning spell. I will track them down and put a stop to their dark magic."

The mercenaries can only nod, several of them are quite bummed out they cannot join Ignis in this battle but none of them wants to be mind controlled, so it seems like they have to stand on the sidelines for this one.

***

On a small island, few knew about, is the company of the third brother of the Mann family.
Grey watches the ocean from his office, not bothering to turn when his clerk announce his three new working partners have returned. "Let them in." He tells her and moments later, the three gorgeous women walk inside. Only there he turns, asking the leader of these three ancient creatures. "How did it go?"

"We were interrupted." Adagio huffs annoyed, but at least the trip wasn't all a waste. "But what little of our spell we cast should do the trick." She takes a seat on this old geezer's table, eyeing him with a flirting smile. "One wrong move on either side and you have another war."

Not that it would be hard, the tension between America and Russia is already high, he voices this to these creatures called the Sirens, asking the three offended looking women. "Who interrupted you?"

Aria waves her hand that it's not that important, but does still tells their working partner. "Just some alicorn. It's not the first time we have dealt with him."

"Remind me what an alicorn is again." Grey muses for he can't think of what kind of creature that is or what magical powers it has.

"It's a child of Harmony: but all you have to worry about is this. He is immortal and very powerful; your toys are no match against him." Adagio replies, and although she hates to admit it; they have to be careful around that one as long they are not at full strength. "As it stands now, I and my sisters are too weak to fight him, our last battle against him took its toll. But even an alicorn like him has no power over us at our full strength." Eyeing the man there did say their creator— their master told him he would help them back to their full strength if they helped him. "You better have something there can aid us to regain our strength, little man."

Ignoring this creature daring to look down at him, but he figures that can't be helped since the Sirens are immortal and thus probably sees him as a mere child in comparison to their own age. "I have, all we need to do is wait for the right timing." He explains them and knowing America right, that timing will very soon arrive.

***

(three days and Russia visit later.)

Hearing that the president will make a speech about the current situation about the missiles on Cuba, Engineer sets up a proper antenna so a television they got from one of the Administrators messengers can show them the speech. Checking the screen; Engineer smiles and calls for the others. "I got it! And perfect timing too." Nodding to the screen there shows the President about to make his speech.
Soldier bashes through Sniper and Heavy, declaring loudly. "No one speaks while the president talks!" and with that takes a seat before the screen like an excited child. Everyone not from America rolls their eyes at Soldier before taking a seat as well, listing to the president's speech how things are going on Cuba now they have made it harder for the two world powers to fire their missiles at one another. They barely got the good news that the crisis has barely been avoided, mostly because the two leaders of America and Russia really didn't want a war. Then the president speech got cut off and instead the screen shows three very gorgeous looking women.
The mercenaries blink of this, with Soldier asking rather annoyed. "Who the hell do they think they are interrupting the president like that?!"
Engineer steps over to check if the antenna accidentally changed channel or something, while he did that, the three women start to sing and he started to forget about what he was supposed to do. Like the rest of the mercenaries caught up in listing to their song.

Ignis returned from his fetch mission about a half hour later, hearing the song from inside the base, he fears the worst. Running inside he finds the mercenaries staring emptily at the thing called a television where the three women are singing their mind-bending song. A quick levitation spell and the television breaks on impact with the nearby wall. The mercenaries do slowly come around, and they wish they haven't for the second they are back to normal, Ignis starts lecturing them. "I told you not to listen to their song! What kind of morons are you guys?!"

"How the bloody hell should've we have known they hijacked the television?" Sniper demands and he would like to argue further with Ignis but honestly, he is feeling too light-headed for it. That song of those women really did a number on him and looking at the others, it seems they too are dealing with the same thing.
"We did a mistake, it's over now, so bugger off already."

Ignis snorts but he guess he can give these morons a break; effects of dark spells always is a pain to deal with. "Fine, but no more television watching." He summons his wings again, thinking he better track those magical users down before they brainwash the whole country and he takes off to find them.

Meanwhile Grey, along with his daughter and Adagio walk into the large building of Mann Co. The two other sirens are out to deal with his idiot brothers, for really, dealing with them himself is not worth his time. No, Grey wants his prize that pony promised him, he steps into the office of Saxton Hale. Of course, this brute of an Australian doesn't recognize him, not that it matters. What does matter? "I am here to claim what rightfully belongs to me: Mann Company and all the power going with it."

Saxton Hale laughs loudly. "Oh, that's rich! For you to get the company you'll have to— Bidwell?" He asks his main assistance there replies calmly as always. "The CEO of any other company can take over Mann Co legally if they beat you in unarmed combat, sir." Saxton laughs again, already looking forward to this. "So if this sallow-chested old mummy is saying what I sincerely pray to god that he's saying?"

Grey smirks but before he can say anything, Mr. Hale grabs him by the neck and starts to punch his face, the only thing keeping Grey from dying is the Australium in his blood. Badly bruised and very relieved he had enough Australium for this deadly beating, he tells this brute to stop. Explaining: "It's not me you idiot! I'm not the CEO of Gray Gravel Co!"

"Then who is?" Saxton demands, dumbfounded when this old mummy points at a small girl, in this Aussie's eyes: one who beats up crocodiles just for the giggles, can't beat up a little girl. "You rotten son of a bitch. I'll—" The small girl calls his name and with a rather bloodthirsty look in her eyes ready herself for battle. "I haven't got all day," and she starts punching him, which his tough skin can't even sense. Hale tries but he just can't make himself fight this little girl. He roars out his frustrations. "Saxton Hale will NOT FIGHT A CHILD!" and tries to make his two assistance fight her for him, but that doesn't work either. That hot chick's song somehow is way more interesting for them than getting promoted. To his greater frustration, with no one to fight the child— the CEO of Gravel Co then that means he has lost Mann company.... that fine! He can still leave with dignity. "I'll fight my way out through that wall of robots for starters and then I'll—"

But Grey won't even have this nuisance have that, he wants this brute to leave as a broken man. "I haven't bought any robots with me. You're free to go." He tells the Aussie, smirking down to his daughter there gleefully returns it. Both greatly amused how Saxton tries so desperately to pick a fight in order to keep his dignity, even tries to punch the sirene they brought but all he got out from that is getting humiliated further as one of his former workers stepped in between from Adagio brainwashing magic. Saxton Hale stares several seconds at his unconscious co-worker, then, finally broken he leaves the room without a word. Grey smirks widen, for now, he has what that pony promised him. He has the main respawn machine and the cache of Australium a certain woman has been hoarding.

Somewhere, deeply hidden but far from out of touch with the world, Helen watches in cold horror as Saxton Hale leaves Mann Co building, he has been pretty much the only one she could count in, now he is gone and knowing Grey. He will soon come for her as well. However, ever since the first robot attack, she knew this day would come and was prepared. With a push on a button, a message is sent out and will reach Miss Pauling when she returns. Turning to the screens, showing the mercenaries waiting tensely for that blasted alicorn, then to a screen showing Grey's men is heading towards their current base, inside that truck she spots one of those women able to brainwash people with their song. "So, even you realize of their use," She muses and knows that Grey will get these very hard to kill mercenaries, but hopefully those on the other side will be able to defeat their other halves. Putting a code into her computer, the screen tells her that the respawn to the mercenaries has been overwritten and thus not even she can turn it off on them anymore. Only if Grey destroys the Alpha respawn machine, these maniacs will be able to die. But knowing him, he wants the respawn but with this override, he won't be able to put his own genetic code inside. Only Miss Pauling will be able with the code she got. With that, Helen activates the self-destruct protocol and leaves this place for good.

Far away from everything, Ignis has managed to track down one of the lackeys of these singers of war. This time he did not give her a warning and attacks. When the flames disappear, Ignis frowns seeing a humanoid metal thing on the ground instead of that woman. Checking it, Ignis notices this one does look very much like those the mercenaries calls a Spy-bot. Is this a setup? Ignis shoots up to the air and by that single action, he avoided a headshot. Instead, half of his right leg got shredded by the bullet, Ignis cries of the sudden pain and turns to where the shot came from. He spots the shooter and attacks. When closer he realizes it is a Sniper-bot, several in fact. A fireball does quickly finishing them off but looking around, Ignis realizes that this whole area is infested with robots. He's not really worried about them overwhelming him, what does worries him is that this situation smells too much like a distraction. But a distraction to what? Against his instinct to fight this enemy, Ignis flee from the robot army, returning back to base as fast as he can.
He doesn't even touch the ground before he gets shot again and the pain sends him crashing down to the ground. Looking up through the pain, Ignis realizes this isn't a robot there shot him, but the real deal.
Sniper straightens up and smirks at him in malice, it's there Ignis notices that the man looks different, he can't really tell how but something about his appearance seems off. The other mercenaries appear, like Sniper, they too look a bit off. Then Ignis realizes why they all have a dark magic all over them. He gasps and his horror increased when he spots one of the women, smirking down at him from the roof where Sniper stands.
Soldier, now crazier than ever charges at Ignis like some kind of rabid dog and the only thing saving Ignis from getting blown and perhaps die from Soldier's rocket launcher is his rabid healing. "Dammit!" He curses and has to flee once again.
Ignis hates to say it, but he cannot fight the now dark magic coated humans, well yes, he could but that would just end up killing them but that is a terrible idea as the Goddess has chosen them.
No, the only thing there can fix this is the Elements of Harmony. But one thing first. "Merra!" Ignis calls, landing hard and ungrateful at the BLU base. The wizard turns to him startled, but there really isn't much time to explain. "Get out from here! Bring them back!" Ignis command his friend before he takes off again to at least give his long-lived human friend the chance to get away from these dark magic coated people.

Sensing the urgency of that warning, Merasmus grabs everything he needs to the summoning spell, grabs the Bombinicon and before his teleportation spell takes him away, he sees Ignis crashes back to the ground. If he was alive or not, Merrasmus didn't know but does hope the alicorn's magic would have made him survive that rain of bullets. Stepping into his new hiding place, Merasmus lets go off the Bombinicon there says pretty freaked out of what they both saw. "Ohhh this is bad. If flame head couldn't fight it, what hope do we have?" and asks Merasmus for once seriously. "What are we going to do?"
Doing what Ignis asked. "We have to bring those in Equestria back." He tells the sentient book.
Bombio