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(Interviewer's Notes (Dusk): The following events happened shortly before I was freed.)

"I can't be reading this right," I said, looking over the papers we'd jacked from the Changelings between 'rescue helpless victims' runs while...well, looking for more helpless victims to rescue. I'd been the only one who could read them, so I'd kept a few I hadn't had time to translate yet to look over (we weren't exactly in a position for me to sit back and translate them all in one setting, considering we had helpless victims to save). Yeah, not the most practical plan, but we weren't in an ideal situation either. The amount of preparation the bugs put into their invasion made my head spin, if it would have ended their invasion in an hour a day, they had taken care of it first. And if I was reading it right, something was seriously rotten in Canterlot.

"What is it, Gag?" Garnet asked.

"Listen to this: 'We've transferred the General to Kabuto. His help has been greatly appreciated, but our Queen has not designated him as worth uplifting as his cunning was less than she had hoped for, nor is he worth the mana to brainwash now that he's served his purpose, nor is he now being willingly cooperative as a subordinate. So Her Majesty, in her infinite wisdom, has decided the best use for him is as one of the Alchemy Master's experiments.' Also, that wasn't sarcastic, the Changelings literally think their queen has infinite wisdom apparently."

"General?" asked Weaver, blinking.

"Uplifting means 'converted into a Changeling,'" I explained giving a growl. I can't believe this! "And if he's not brainwashed already, that means 'this general' is a bucking traitor!"

"Gag that's not funny!" Thunderchild, well, thundered.

"I wasn't joking!"

Everypony gasped, and I didn't blame them. If Garnet had a thermometer, my blood would be boiling! It was hard enough to know the Guard had been infiltrated, let alone that one of us was an actual traitor!

Sarge kept his cool though, at least on the surface. "...That would explain how they got away with a lot of this if one of the brass was on their side, and how a lot of those stupid orders got through...Still, I can't believe a pony would do something like this..."

"Me neither, and I'm the one that translated it!"

"Could you have translated it wrong?" Weaver asked.

"That's never happened before if I did. Any language I acquire I know like second nature."

Thunderchild looked thoughtful. "...I'll tell Captain Coke...but right now, we've got civilians we need to keep an eye out for rescuing. Keep your eyes peeled for any more hints about this guy though."

Captain Coke's response was if we found the guy and it was true to detain him and we'd turn him into investigation later, but right now he was the last thing we had to worry about.




(Interviewer's Notes Dusk): These events happened not long after my freedom, enabling my sisters and I to assist Misfit Actual.)

Captain, you have my sympathies. Even with Captain Coke in contact, I'm still calling most of the shots in the field. I can't radio him every time I need to make a choice, especially when it's in the heat of combat. Having the squad counting on me is more pressure than I thought it would be. Especially with what's on the line.

Shining...I know you think my feelings for Fluttershy aren't real but...if they weren't, why am I so worried about her right now? I know I've never met her, but I really would like to be her white knight...like you were for Cadence...that's something I envy you for Captain, you're always the white knight. You always protect everypony. You're the most selfless pony I know...I hope I'm doing you proud in your place. The real you, not the pony that witch twisted you into. Hope somepony gives her a good flank kicking.

We already captured Digger Wasp and managed to throw a few more wrenches in the Queen's plans whenever we got a chance. Not to mention save a lot of ponies from getting taken to this crazy Changeling scientist (either sent them back to Captain Coke or to other places Gag was able to confirm were safe) or being found by the Changelings and captured. But even we needed rest (Captain Coke even ordered us to) and took turns standing watch so the others could get some sleep. Now Gag is off getting some more intel. Ellis is worried sick about his cousins, I don't blame him. Like I said...I feel the same about Fluttershy. I don't care how creepy that sounds! The more I hear about her, the more I love her. It's weird...I know she's not probably going to be into thunder guitar or the intense stuff, I know she's shy...but that didn't change how I feel.

Garnet's worried about Gag, but he's probably the safest out of all of us because he can speak Changeling and has stealth skills. Still, can't blame her. He is her fiance and so far Misfit Platoon hasn't exactly had good luck making it to our wedding day.

We're all worried about the Captain. That goes without saying. He's our leader, and our friend. He's always been there for us, and I'm sure if it were us captured he'd do anything to save us. I hope he comes out of all this alright and married to the Princess like he should have been already. And I hope the Changeling Queen ends up keeping Discord company in the statue garden or in the royal dungeon for all the ponies she's hurt. But individually, we all have more than one pony we're worried about. And we hope all of them turn out alright.

Weaver and her brothers? I'm not sure, they aren't from our platoon, they're actually Day Guard, so I don't know 'em too well.

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): And Weaver doesn't have a wingspan to appreciate?)

Yeah, though I'm sure her horn length is nice if I were into that...Since we're working together in this stupid mess, guess I might as well change that while we're waiting for Gag to come back with intel.

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): You want to get into horn lengths?)

What? No! I mean getting to know her as a team mate! A team needs to know each other after all. That's something Shining always made sure to do.

"Weaver, Diver, Bombardier, can I have a word with you?" I ask, sitting down with them.

Weaver blinks. "Of course, Sarge." Her brothers nodded.

"Good, just thought since we're working together we should get to know each other a bit more. We are working together for the first time, so me getting to know you would be helpful."

"I see...alright, sounds good, Staff Sergeant."

"Good, so where are you three from?"

"Believe it or not, we're Zebrafrican," Diver explained with a smile. "We immigrated to Equestria a long time ago though. We were just thirteen when we came here, so we don't really have the accent for it anymore."

While most ponies thought of Zebra, there were places with a pony population in Zebrafrica, though most were immigrants or descendants of them, but some populations were old. It wasn't that surprising.

"Huh, didn't expect that...Why come to Equestria?"

"We...didn't like it in Zebrafrica," Weaver explained. From her face, I assume it's a touchy subject. "We didn't quite fit in..."

I thought about what I did know about them. Weaver was a certified tomcolt, Diver was kind of childish and upbeat, and Bombardier seemed more like a mare than a stallion sometimes. We don't really care about that kind of thing in Equestria, maybe the part of Zebrafrica they were from was different? I know some places are pretty dang traditional over there. It was a big place, tons of countries.

"Gotcha...so why the guard?"

"...The ponies and Zebra where we lived aren't the nicest creatures," said Bombardier. "We're kinda white sheep and...wanted to do good for a change...help ponies. Maybe balance out their bad with some good."

Weaver was presently fooling around with some string in her magic, weaving it into what looked like a foal looking up to a guard. "I'd always idolized our family's soldiers...I was supposed to grow up to be one...then..."

She remade it into the foal crying as that guard seemed ready to...ugh, have his way with a mare or something. "I realized they were monsters who just saw everycreature else as objects to be used…and the worst part was they tried to paint their victims as subpony to justify it."

Bombardier sighed. "We're triplets, we saw that at about the same time...We finally ran for it and ended up in an orphanage and eventually came over here with a relief group."

Diver nodded. "So we wanted to become guards here in Equestria and make up for the kinds of creatures our family was," he said, giving an energetic salute. "You know, good soldiers to balance out evil ones."

"I see...so you're refugees?" I asked. I'd been on peacekeeping missions with Shining and Ellis, while Zebrafrica is a nice place now, it was pretty hectic a long time ago. Especially after the Hooviet empire collapsed. Sadly, I could name some groups that had existed that fit the bill, gratefully nearly all of which are history. It wasn't entirely surprising some refugees had ended up in peaceful, loving Equestria to escape and become guards after getting citizenship. In fact, I think I'd heard about groups of orphans that had been brought here by relief efforts.

Bombardier nodded. "Yeah, more or less. We're not native Equestrian, but we moved here so young we think of ourselves like it."

Diver pinned his ears.

"Something wrong?"

"...I hope our foster parents will make it through this okay."

"Where do they live?" I asked, understanding why they were concerned. I knew enough about stuff like this to know if we didn't stop Chrysalis here, my folks were going to be in trouble too. Heck, the Captain's mom...ugh... I've broken bones before, I can't imagine breaking all four legs...

"San Deneighgo," Bombardier replied, giving a thoughtful smile. "They took us in when we didn't have anything. I don't think we'll ever repay them for that."

I can't even imagine what it had to feel like for a group of orphan refugees. I'm grateful for my parents putting up with my guitar playing.

Weaver looked down, seeming unsure of something. "Sarge...permission to ask a question?"

"Granted."

"Do you think there's a point in us trying to be good ponies? Or are we destined to be monsters?"

"Where did this come from, Lance Corporal?"

"...The Day of Chaos..."

I shuddered. That's all she needed to say there. I remembered what Discord did to me from across the ocean. Not fun.

I put a hoof on her shoulder. If the Captain was here I know he'd do it. "Hey, one of our Princesses was Nightmare Moon, if that can happen, anything can. And the Griffins used to be our predators, we're friends now. Trust me, I've seen Griffin nations, they're pretty fun for the most parts...just be careful about musical numbers. And you already saved my flank, I think that's one good deed already."

"Sarge..."

"You may speak."

"If these monsters saw what they did was wrong, do you think they should be forgiven?"

I blinked. I thought about it...Did I? "...I'm not going to lie...right now? I hate them, I want to see them pay for what they did to my friends...but if they really wanted to change?...We're ponies, forgiveness is a part of what we are. If they weren't lying, I think I'd give them another chance...on a close watch. Heck, I know some reformed Hooviets."

She gave a smile. "...If you could forgive them...I guess I have no room thinking we've got to be monsters like our families...Thanks Sarge."




...On the Day of Chaos?...We were in Manehatten at the time when that monster showed up.

"You can't fight the monster inside you, my dears. It's what you were born to be. It's what you are."

...Next thing we know, we acted just like what we were trying not to be...no, I think, looking back, more like our perception of them...So many ponies became monsters that day, no one paid the reports about us any mind...but until the Staff Sergeant told us that, we'd not been able to get rid of that doubt it left in us...

Thank you Sarge.




"Alright," Gag reported as he came back in. "I've got good news and more good news! The good news is the Princess and the Bearers the Queen hadn't brainwashed are still at large."

"And the more good news?" Garnet asked, after giving him a nuzzle.

"Twilight Sparkle, Spike I think his name is, and...that one weird old unicorn that interviewed us back on the tour sometimes are free now."

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): I'm right here.)

"The others broke Queen Ugly's spell on them."

I gave a sigh of relief. "Thank all the Deities things are finally looking up."

Ellis looked hopeful. "And AJ?"

Gag rubbed his head nervously. "Sorry, Ellis, she's still under the queen bee's control. So's the Captain..."

Ellis kicked the wall next to him so hard it cracked. "Darn it..."

I could tell the poor guy was frustrated, I can't blame him (I wanted to do the same thing hearing Shining hadn't been saved). I was grateful he had a good head on his shoulders in all this. I don't know what I'd do if I were in his place. It's hard enough for us with Shining under that witch's control.

"Princess Cadence and the others seem to have caused 'her majesty' a lot of trouble though, so hopefully they'll save them both soon," said Garnet, putting a hoof on Ellis' shoulder.

"Any idea where the Princess is?" I asked. It was protocol to try and meet up with Princess Cadence ASAP, even if we were doing a decent job on our own.

Oh who am I kidding. She's our friend and I just want to make sure she's okay.

Gag shook his head. "Sorry, Sarge, the bugs have no idea where her group is."

I suppose that was a good thing, but it'd be great if we could meet up with the Princess...and Fluttershy.

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Are you worried Cadence won't realize it's the real you?)

Princess of Bonds, if anypony could tell we're us, it's her.

"Do have a little bit more intel though. Kabuto is currently taking over the construction of the rune," explained Gag. "He's still in his lab though, seems he has most of his equipment to do the calculations there or something..."

"'Or something?'"

"I'm not a mage."

"...So what is this rune supposed to do anyway?" I asked.

"The drones don't know, but it's more or less Chrysalis' big plan B or C."

"What was plan A?"

"I don't think we want to know."

"Staff Sergeant, considering how much of a hive these things act like," Weaver replied. "I think the fact their leader is hiding details from them is probably a bad thing."

"You're probably right, Lance-Corporal."

"From what the bugs are saying, Kabuto's the third foreman of this thing, first and forth if you want to get technical," Gag explained. "I wonder if she actually has fifth?…Anyway, the Bearers took two, if we take down a third one, the Queen's plan might fall apart like a house of cards."

I gave a nod of agreement. "...Good point...I'll contact Captain Coke and see if we should go catch the mad scientist."




"So you're not going to say anything?" the leader of this group of rebels asked me.

I kept my lips sealed...I may have lost...I may have realized the situation wasn't quite what we believed...but I'm not betraying my queen.

"...Can you at least tell us who you are in full?"

Hmm...I suppose I have no more secrets to keep in that respect.

"...Master Digger Wasp. Communications Expert and Infiltration Master of the Changelings...you beat me at my own game and I'm ling enough to admit it."

"Is Spy Master a rank?"

"Yes."

"So Kabuto being Alchemist Master means he's of the same rank as you?"

"Among the Alchemists."

"Anything else you can tell us about this guy?"

"He's insane."

"Kinda figured that out already."

I wasn't about to say I have orders to kill Kabuto once the invasion was complete. Don't give me that look. Half the swarm wants to kill him. And he other half is scared of him. I'd make a point of honor for it to be painless. More than he deserves....Kabuto had a habit of not limiting his experiments to zebra.

Somelings had tried to kill him, now they were part of his collection.

I looked him over closely. I don't know where they'd found magic seals for my horn, I know they didn't have them when they captured me. Not that I had the energy left for anything. "...May I ask who I'm speaking to?"

"Captain Coke of the Equestrian Royal Guard."

"...And the one's who beat me?"

"Classified. And I'm asking the questions here."

"Let me save you the trouble, I'm not answering them. I may have lost, but I'm loyal to my queen. Name and rank are all a good soldier reveals."

He looked me in the eyes for a few moments, having already given me the 'please save innocents' speech...while I can't say it didn't affect me, I swore my allegiances already and I'm not changing.

"...Fine..."

"...That's it? Fine? No torture? No death threats?"

"Ponies don't believe in that stuff."

Once again, they prove that accursed monster wrong.

"I see…any prisoners won't be harvested at this point. Her Majesty gave orders that harvesting was to wait until after the invasion was complete. At worst they'll be given a minor mental suggestion to not be violent."

"I see."

"Captain, may I ask you one more thing? How do you hope this battle ends?"

"...With a peace treaty and as few ponies and Changelings hurt as possible."

I scanned his face for any deceit, but saw nothing. "...For what it's worth...now...so do I."

Jewel...I hope you'll come out of this fine. That is my deepest wish.

I wonder if those ponies will be able to handle Kabuto...he's far more dangerous than he looks.

In the hive, you don't become a Master without earning it.

And when you're as despised as Kabuto, you don't live very long if you're easy to defeat.




My name is Nightlight, more properly known as Moonlight Sparkle, and right now I'm experiencing every father's worst nightmare.

I admit, me and Starlight had been on Shining to get together for a awhile now, but only because we knew he and Princess Cadence were meant for each other. And they did, and we couldn't have been happier. This should have been the happiest day of their lives and ours...but then...I...I just don't know how this could have happened.

That monster...she took both our foal's minds...I wish I could have done something, I feel so helpless. Twilight...Shining Armor...please forgive your father for failing you. I couldn't do a thing...

And Starlight...She's in so much pain. And I don't know how to make it stop. I feel like such a failure...All I can do is try to hide from the Changelings and keep her safe...

And that became a bit harder when the monsters began looking for us. I don't know why they started, but I kept having to pick my broken wife up and fleeing.

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): They might be looking for collateral...right now it'd be useful to them.)

It was only a matter of time before they found us. And we had to run. I'm not a weak unicorn, but Starlight is still stronger than me, and I'm nothing compared to our children. Running from the swarm was my only option. I wish I could teleport but that's not my strong suit.

When I ran into a group of 'guards' I thought I'd have to fight. I'd gotten into fights before and I know how to defend myself. And that's when I don't have a crippled wife to protect!

"...Mr. Sparkle?"

I blinked. "Thunderchild?" I asked, recognizing my son's squadmate...or perhaps a Changeling disguised as him.

He heard the Changelings and shushed me, hiding me and my wife in a closet with him and most of the squad (it was a tight fit, poor Starlight), making hoof signs the entire time I didn't understand.

The group's pegasus stallion stayed outside, calling something in another language I didn't understand. I heard hooves galloping away and fading off.

A few moments later, the pegasus snuck back inside. "Sent them on a wildgoose chase and gave them the slip with a little stealth, sarge. They didn't even see me leave."

I panted, feelings of relief and concern washing over me.

"Good job, Lance-Corporal," Thunderchild said, turning back to me and Starlight. "Alright, I think you're safe now."

I nodded, poor Starlight seeming in too much pain to speak much. I think Thunderchild noticed I was looking at him cautiously.

"...Guess we need to prove we're not bugs, huh?" he asked.

I gave a nod.

He then whispered something in my ear that...quite honestly for Shining's sake I will not repeat. Let's just say there are things only parents and close friends know about you.

I also noticed Ellis, another of the ponies I knew were in his squad. "Cider still mass driver," he said with a shudder and an embarrassed look.

I shuddered too. And here people thought that his magic would be dangerous. "You're Ellis...

"Thank the Princesses..." I muttered, suddenly feeling heavy as relief surged through me, feeling like I'd run into a group of angels instead of a guard squad. I know that's melodramatic, but I've spent the last two days running for my life, trying to protect my seriously injured wife from an army of monsters that had kidnapped my children! Seeing a group of actual guards coming to our rescue is an Alicornsend!

I felt like those ponies who were trapped in their burning house when a guard breaks down the door and gets them to safety.

Thunderchild then saw Starlight. "Garnet!"

An Earth Pony mare galloped over. "Lower her to the ground gently, I need to check her injuries," she explained, and carefully helped me lower my love to the ground and began checking her over. I sunk to my flanks, feeling exhausted.

"Your name is...Starlight Sparkle, right?"

My dear nodded. Of course she knew our names, she was in Shining's squad.

"I know you're in a lot of pain, Mrs. Sparkle, but I need to check and see where the breaks are," she explained. "Tell me where it hurts and how bad if you can."

"How's she look? Can you treat her here?"

The mare nodded after checking Starlight over, speaking with her the entire time as she examined her legs closely. "Yeah, they're bad injuries, but I've got what I need to handle them, just keep the Changelings from finding us and I can at least ease the pain and stop them from getting worse."

"You're sure?"

"Yes, it's not good, but I can at least make the pain bearable and splint her legs.

"Don't worry, Mrs. Sparkle, I'll take good care of you," the mare said, turning back to us, and beginning to work on her legs.

"You can't give her painkillers?" I asked.

"I can, just not until I'm sure I've figured out where all her injuries are and how severe, they'll make her pretty loopy and I still need her to help me identify her injuries. Not finding one now might be worse in the long run."

Garnet then looked to Starlight. "Mrs. Sparkle, please talk with me, it'll take your mind off the pain."

"...Are you...in my son's squad?" Starlight asked, cringing as the mare began working on her.

"Yeah," she explained, calmly. "I'm Garnet Chambers, we met on the tour and I'm his squad's medic. Your son's an amazing pony, Mrs. Sparkle. I'm proud to be under his command."

(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): You can trust her, Nightlight. Garnet's a very good medic.)

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Yeah, trust us, she could save Starlight if she'd lost a leg with less than she has now...trust us.)

"Captain Coke?" asked Thunderchild on a radio as Garnet kept speaking with my Starlight to keep her calm. "We've found Captain Shining Armor's parents. They're safe but Mrs. Sparkle is in bad shape, just like you said. She's receiving medical attention from Lance-Corporal Chambers right now...Alright, sir, we'll get her to you and resume our mission."

"Captain Coke? Cherry Coke's with you?" I asked.

Thunderchild nodded. "Yeah, we met up with him earlier, he's mission control right now."

I gave a small sigh of relief. Thank the Princesses Cherry and his friends got to safety...

Finally things were looking up after this nightmare...

"Mrs. Sparkle, can you please give a lecture on something I-"

"Wrong family member."

"Was worth a shot."

Garnet broke a piece of wood off a cabinet after confirming all her injuries and finally giving poor Starlight some painkillers. "Bite down on this, I need to get your bones set and I can't delay with how long you've been hurt, Mrs. Sparkle. Mr. Sparkle, can you please help comfort her? This is going to hurt but I need to do this."

I nodded and hugged my injured wife as she bit down on the wood...and felt my heart break several times as Garnet realigned her broken legs and splinted them. At least having the bones set and some painkillers in her system seemed to alleviate a lot of her suffering.

"There...I think she'll be okay now."

"Can she be moved?" Thunderchild asked, Gag keeping a watch.

Garnet nodded. "If we're careful, Sarge. That should keep her condition from worsening until she can get to a hospital and make it a lot less painful."

Thunderchild nodded. "Alright...Let's get you to safety, okay?"

"My babies..." Starlight said, looking to Thunderchild, tearing up. "...Please...help them...I tried...I...I really did."

Garnet tried to her to not move, given her condition, and I had to assist her.

Thunderchild took another look outside and came over. "Okay...look, I was going to wait till we were out of the woods, but I think you need to hear this now," he explained, putting a hoof on Starlight's shoulder. "Twilight's free."

"What?!" both of us asked, our hearts going into orbit. Our baby girl was safe?!

Thunderchild nodded. "Yeah, Princess Cadence freed her earlier. We don't know the details, but she's with her friends fighting the good fight, same as us."

Twilight...you're safe...thank the Princesses...

Starlight nuzzled me, tears running down both our faces. "Thank you...is...is Shining?"

They all frowned at that. "Sorry, Mrs. Sparkle...he's still under the Queen's control..." Thunderchild said sadly, but then gave a reassuring look. "But listen, I know Shining, and if your daughter and the Princess is half as determined to save him as he is to protect them, then no way is he going to stay that way."

"And that's assuming we don't save him first," Gag reassured, giving a smirk.

It made me feel better...my regret is that I knew we were the civilians here...even our children were better fighters than I was...

(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Nightlight, you already did your part. You were a good daddy for them growing up. They wouldn't be the big super-heroes-good-guys they are now without you and Starlight.)

...Thank you… you're a good filly.

(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Welcome.)

"Alright, now let's get you two to safety, shall we?"




(Interviewer's Notes (Noon): And this while Applejack was being freed...)

"Okay,  this is where the mad scientist is at," Gag explained as we came up on Kabuto's lair, after getting confirmation from Captain Coke to go after him and taking the Sparkles to safety.

He sticks right next to me...or maybe I'm sticking right next to him. When its a situation like this, I guess it can be hard to tell. All I know is I was just happy we were still together. That so far we'd made it through this whole mess without dying.

I felt my engagement ring in my pocket...I suppose it's strange thinking back on it. I met this stallion when he'd gotten a concussion slipping in water and we seemed to fall in love at first sight. And we did.

What drew me to him? I know his jokes stink like dragon's breath (and yes, I actually know what that smells like, I've met dragons. Gag's jokes really are that bad). I know the Scan Cats hate his guts so him visiting me in the infirmary is off unless they're in their cages. But...he's got a good heart. Ever since I met him he's been nothing but a sweetheart to me. When things get rough, he'd never think of leaving me. When trouble rears its head, he's always there for me, and I was there for him when Ranger and Sunset died...

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Something's scaring you, isn't it?)

I'm a Guard, I can't think about being scared.

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Correction, you can't allow your fear to get in the way, and that is a respectable trait, but you still need to confront it like everypony else. If you suppress it, you're just making it worse.)

...I'm scared we'll never get to our wedding day either. Cadence and the Captain...they should already be married, we should be at their wedding reception right now, but this horror show happened. Minuette and Audience haven't even gotten to propose and Minuette's lost in this disaster while Audience...I don't even know where he is. Are we all just doomed to never have our wedding?...All Ranger and Sunset and Cadence and Shining wanted (and I think Minuette and Audience)...all me and Gag want is to have our special day together. To say 'I do' and tie the knot...why can't we just have that? Is our little group just cursed to have something stand between us and who we love? Yes, I'm a soldier trying to save the country I love...but...I just can't help being afraid I'll never be with the stallion I love. That engaged is all anycreature in this platoon will be able to get to before disaster strikes and yanks our chain. It's like we're cursed.

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): I know it can feel like you're never going to get to the happy ending, that all you're getting dealt with is reversal after reversal. Believe me, we know exactly how that feels. But if you just give up, you won't reach the alter ever. Do you think you'd be MORE happy if you just gave up on ever being with Gag? And found somepony or something else to be happy with?)

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): It's not wise to do something if all it does is bashing your head into a wall. However... Do you think Gag WANTS YOU to give up on being with him?)

(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Besides, isn't the curse being broken how all these stories turn out?)

...No, I wouldn't be happy without him...and he wouldn't want me to give up being with him. I love him and these bugs are going to need a lot more to break us up...or destroy my resolve for us to get our wedding. Thank you...

I nuzzled him as we moved, but still kept my eyes open. "I love you."

He nuzzles me back. "I love you too."

Bombardier smiled, looking at us as we moved. "You two really love each other, huh?"

I nodded. "Engaged."

"I'm happy for you. You make a cute couple."

We blushed a little. "Thank you. You got a special somepony?"

"Me? No. I...haven't met someone who fits my tastes..." he replied, looking sheepish.

"Never find Mrs. Right?"

"...That's one way to think about it...But Diver and Weaver both have have their special somepony. Or somecreature as the case may be."

"Really? Were they..."

Bombardier shook his head. "No. Their squads weren't here in Canterlot at the time. Weaver's coltfriend is a Griffin named Goldar and Diver's marefriend is a Musk Deer name Faline."

"Don't you mean doefriend and...dang it what's a male griffin called?" Gag asked. Poor guy, that might have been funny if he'd known…wait…

"...I have no idea, and I'm the medic..."

"Alright, love birds," said Thunderchild, smirking back. "We're almost there, get ready."

We approached the area where this 'Master Kabuto' had set up his lab, keeping a correct formation, but making sure we looked inconspicuous. It was down near our gratefully rarely used dungeon, a large storage room I think. I don't know, I haven't seen it much. Probably so he had somewhere to put the ponies that were supposed to be brought to him. I'll admit, from the sound of the letter, I already didn't like this guy.

It wasn't just that this guy sounded like a monster. It was that he was a mad doctor. The idea of a guy performing medical experiments on ponies...to be frank, it makes me angry. I'm a healer, the idea of hurting somepony with what I know sickens me.

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): No one blames you for that, Garnet.)

But he was also a 'Master,' which was apparently a Changeling big wig, so taking him down was now a priority after saving his captives.

"What should we be ready for?" I asked.

"Probably a lot of guards, don't think that a scientist is going to be too tough on his own. Let's get in, rescue any captives, and capture him, in that order."

Gag lead the way up to the door where there were two Changelings standing guard.

We weren't using dynamic entry yet because, unlike Digger Wasp who we didn't know how many hostages he had, we knew Kabuto was likely to have a large number of them. Captain Coke had prioritized extracting the hostages undercover pretending the Queen had asked for the captives to be taken to her for brainwashing to be put to work on the rune. If that went well, then we'd launch a sneak attack to capture Kabuto once they were safe. If that failed, we planned to sneak attack if possible or retreat.

"State your business."

"We're here to talk to the doctor, Her Majesty's orders," Gag explained.

When they asked for more details, he said something in their language that made them cooperate. The fact he's capable of speaking copied languages fluently was an Alicornsend. That and he knew a lot of their operations from the stolen letters.

They opened the door, and Weaver and her brothers attacked them from behind, covering their mouths so I could tranquilize them. They kept them in a sleeper hold until they were out cold as quietly as possible as we kept guards inside from noticing. That was when we noticed how few guards there were. Just two at each entrance (there were only two). It's been a long time since I was here, but I was pretty sure the floor had been remodeled to suit his tastes. That and he'd emptied the room more or less to make room for the lab equipment. I wondered why he needed a room this big for whatever experiments he was doing.

And then there was Kabuto.

The first thing I noticed about Kabuto was he seemed like the 'drones' we'd seen, the rank and file soldiers, not what I assume was the larger 'warrior' cast like Digger Wasp. Well, minus the magnifying glass armature grafted to his head, which was enough to already tell me he was insane. I know pony biology, and I know the surgery to put that in would be dangerous and insane due to how close that is to your brain. One slip and you lobotomize yourself. Then again, that might explain why he was one of the Changeling's big wigs, carrying out that surgery on yourself either requires as much luck as Gag needs to tell a good joke or a huge amount of skill.

"Kinda low staffed, huh doctor?" Gag asked as we entered and prepared try and evac his captives covertly. We wanted to make sure we weren't going to trigger some kind of trap set for the Bearers. This was the guy currently in charge of the rune after all. He had to be smart.

Thankfully, the room being cleared didn't give an ambush much room to hide behind. Still, couldn't help feeling the floor looked like it'd been remodeled.

"Oh you know me, I don't like a lot of company," he said, working on a blackboard on calculations that admittedly I couldn't understand in a million years.

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): I don't believe it...he's actually reading Twilight's notes and understanding them perfectly.)

"And most lings don't like my company. I think they wouldn't mind if someling took me out."

Okay, is it wrong I'm creeped out how little that seemed to bother him?

"I was at wits end with little Magic barking orders," he said...oddly sincerely.

"Huh?" Gag asked.

"That ego of her's was absolutely unbearable," the Changeling replied. "I only regret that I didn't get to vivisect her."

Vivisect her...Sweet Celestia what kind of psychopath have we walked in on?

"I was expecting her to come back...but I also wasn't expecting you. I don't remember sending for or being informed of more Changelings coming," he said, giving a smirk that reminded me of the pictures I'd seen of Discord. That look of a kid in a candy store. "But I'm glad to have some excitement, I was beginning to get bored stiff."

We didn't freeze up or gasp in surprise. We instantly jumped to Plan B and shot his guards with our darts. Those we didn't hit rushed us and got taken down by Ellis and my brute strength and Thunderchild's lightning with some help from Gag or just plan CQC from the rest of us. It helped that Weaver had noticed certain areas on them were more vulnerable than others.

We then held our crossbows, dart guns, and other weapons on Kabuto. Psychopathic mad scientist or not, he wasn't a soldier, so we were hoping he'd surrender without a fight. On top of that, he was probably one of the only ones who actually knew what the rune did, so if there was a fifth foreman of it, taking him alive to find out what it did and how to stop it was in our best interests.

"You're under arrest," the sergeant said.

"What a waste of selective breeding, dumb insect,, you had the same training as them!" he said kicking one of his own guards in the side before holding his hooves up in surrender. "Then again, your fighting styles do seem outside the norm. I imagine you've seen active combat correct? Except for those three...quite interesting...Well I suppose I'd best properly introduce myself. I am the Alchemist Master Professor Kabutomushi, or Kabuto if you prefer."

"I can see why, you don't look very mushy," Gag remarked. Hehe, okay, that's actually one of his good ones.

"And that is exactly why: it's Kabutomushi, as in-"

"Kabutomushi, Kabuto Beetle in Neighponese," Gag interrupted. He was on a roll today.

"...Pegasus..." Kabuto looked closely at our armor. "Pegasus #2, I'm going to enjoy vivisecting you. Starting with the vocal cords I believe."

"And how are you going to-"

Horseapples!

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): What the Tartarus?! He can do that?!)

I pulled Gag out of the way of a blade that would have gone through his throat. "Sweet Celestia are you alright?!" I asked. Yes I was worried, my fiance just almost got impaled!

"Y-Yeah, fine."

A spider-like leg had burst out of Kabuto's back with a blade at the tip, reaching over his shoulder. "Hmm...good reflexes. Impressive for a simple Earth Pony."

"At least you didn't call us cattle," Gag managed to joke. Celestia Gag! Stop taunting the mutant Changeling! Or mutate changeling! Whichever he is!

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): There's a difference?)

Mutant is natural, mutate is artificial!

"Changelings, ponies, they're all just the dumb masses who exist to lift up the truly intelligent. Whether dumb people or dumb animals, what difference does it make?"

That...that look in his eyes as he said it. It reminded me of some of my medical teachers when they talked about dissecting a frog and what we could learn from it.

"You're sick."

"I prefer 'enlightened,' Earth Pony...#2."

That's when I noticed something. Thunderchild had shot him with a dart right in the throat the moment he'd attacked. The psychopath just now seemed to notice...he looked at the Sergeant, and he pulled the dart out with his telekinesis and tossed it aside. He sure didn't look sleepy. "...and that what puts me a step above the rest."

"B-but how?" I asked in disbelief.

He gave an amused chuckle. Like a teacher to a student who'd asked a silly question. "Good question, Earth Pony. I know enough about my own biology to transform my own insides, maybe I altered my own body chemistry, maybe I just rerouted off that part of my blood flow, maybe I hyper stimulated my immune system around that area, maybe I have an anti-poison alchemy circle engraved on my person somewhere. I think I shall keep you guessing. Most changelings are too ignorant of their own autonomy to ever pull it off. I doubt even Her Majesty can."

Weaver gasped, watching the spider-like leg recede while Thunderchild wisely drew his sword when Kabuto being shot several times with tranqil darts did little more than annoy him instead of give him enough of an overdose to overpower his immunity. "But...but none of the other Changelings I've seen can do that."

"Yes, they can't. Well, they would if Her Majesty would let me install the proper enhancements," he said with a shrug. "Sadly I broke a lot of test subjects before it was up to my standards. Even installing them in me was quite painful. Kind of like tearing out bones and putting them back in, which I think I'll do to at least one of you."

"...You...you...killed them?" I asked in horror as it hit me what he just said.

"Such a strong word. I prefer sacrifice them for the advancement of science," he stated as if it were something a foal would know.

I tasted vomit in my mouth at the thought of just what kind of 'enhancements' would be needed to implant artificial legs in your own body and result in several deaths of your own species.

"Why in Celestia's name are you such a mental case? I get the rest of your racist buddies, but how can you treat your own people like lab rats?" Gag asked, looking about as horrified as me.

"Simple, a silly thing like morals is something society programs into us." Kabuto gave a sick chuckle as he pulled out the tranqil darts. "The truly intelligent have no need to let such things get in the way."

The psycho looked at me and noticed the mark on my armor that showed I was a medic. "Oh, you're a medic, Earth Pony #2?"

"She has a name you sick freak!" Gag finally yelled.

"Why name the lab rats and risk getting attached to them? Now where was I?" he asked.

Thunderchild tried to cut into his leg with his sword while he was talking but took a hard hit to the chest that knocked him back and forced us to catch him. He'd moved fast. Faster than Thunderchild had expected. It scared me thinking about why he hadn't used that blade of his again.

"Oh yes. Isn't it just the most amazing feeling, Earth Pony #2?" he asked, giving a grin that made my blood run cold. "That feeling of holding someling's life in your hooves and knowing that one little snip or tug and you control whether they live or die? Everytime they're close to death, knowing you're the one who decides if they come back from the brink or their life is snuffed out like a candle? Hehe...the power you feel in that moment, isn't it grand? It's enough to make you feel like a god, isn't it?"

My blood boiled. "No you sick bucker! I'm nothing like you! I'm a healer!"

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Garnet! Calm down! Don't let him make you lose your head. He's baiting you!)

T-Thanks...it's just hearing this psycho make a mockery about what it means to be a doctor and a medic...it just makes me angry.

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): It just proves you're nothing like him, Garnet.)

He sighed in annoyance. "Pity. Guess you're still just a stupid Earth Pony..."

We circled him, getting ready to cover each other if he struck, doing something I hoped we wouldn't have to do and switch from tranqils to actual bolts (or in us Earth Ponies' cases, darts that actually had penetrating heads and drawing swords). Even if they would have trouble piecing his shell, a shot to a joint on an unarmored target should still wound him. We'd already planned this out. We'd aim for his joints first...then the horn or wings if that didn't work...and finally more vital areas if need be. He was still a high ranking enemy and capturing him alive could be beneficial. That and now he was probably going to be tried for war crimes.

"It's all of us and one of you, Kabuto," Thunderchild said. "Even with that weird power of yours you can't take us all! This is your last chance to give up."

The Changeling just laughed.

"...What's so funny?" I asked. I didn't like this.

"I'm the third foreman Her Majesty has appointed to the rune, did you really think I'd be defenseless, Earth Pony #2? Or if I was that I'd be so lightly guarded?" he asked, and-

"Gah!"

He suddenly sped up and gave me a hard punch to the chest, knocking me on my back. He then moved at lightning speed again when Gag tried to attack him from behind and returned to his original position while I was busy coughing my head off. At least he didn't bruise my ribs thanks to my armor...

"I'm also the Alchemist Master of the entire Hive. Metabolic enhancements. Unfortunately also makes me a bit of a love guzzler when I use it, if not for a little sweetie song bell!" he said with a chuckle. Then had to leap up to dodge arrows and swords aimed at his legs, latching onto the ceiling with four spider legs emerging from his back to stick to it. "But love is normally at a premium, so it sadly wasn't practical for mass production."

Gag helped me up. "Are you okay, Garnet?"

"Yeah...just a little winded..." I muttered.

"Have you figured it out cattle?" Kabuto asked, evading more arrows. "You didn't trap me: I am the trap," he stated, having slipped on a glove with an alchemy circle engraved in it. “I'm the spider, and you're in my web now!”


“Hit the deck!” Thunderchild yelled, flying back down from going after Kabuto as our enemy slammed his hooves together, flaring up that natural fire Changelings had.


I don't know alchemy, but whatever he did made us have to dodge a massive cascade of fire and hit the deck.

"Here's a question, little ponies. What happens when you give a highly advanced ability to transmute one chemical into another to somepony with a PHD and encyclopedic knowledge of Chemistry and the ability to generate fire?"

Several times.

“He becomes very very dangerous! Hehe. Shame only one of you is a unicorn, guess the circle I engraved to weaken both Magics' powers would go to waste.”

Kabuto then leapt down to dodge more arrows and slammed his hooves into the ground, where I noticed a pre-engraved alchemy circle light up. That we were standing on!

We all leapt out of the way as the ground exploded. I don't mean burst upwards, I mean blew up!

"I didn't become the Hive's Alchemist Master by not being good at it. I was so hoping to put Magic in her place for underestimating me."

I grunted, getting hit by a flying piece of stone. We opened fire again, this time actually managing to nick him a few times, but it didn't seem to slow him down, either by his indifference to pain or Changeling hide resisting it.

I was horrified to look around and realize that he'd pre-engraved that anti-magic circle for whoever was going to attack him. How many more did he have waiting for us?

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Let it not be said the Changelings grant the title of 'Master' to someling who hasn't earned it. Even I didn't know half these circles were possible...which means Twilight doesn't either. And he's using spell circles to facilitate his alchemy? I wonder if this type of alchemy is even supposed to be invented in this world. I wonder if it's something Chrysalis showed him from other timelines.)

(Interviewer's Notes Pegasus: Where's reality's clean-up mutt when you need it?!)

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Or he's just inventive and insane.)

I yelled as we had to dodge another fire burst of his, "Keep an eye out for more circles!"

We did, there were more than we expected, but thankfully some explosives and Earth Pony strength was able to smash several of the circles to make them useless, but we STILL ended up having to take cover when he triggered more. We all got our share of bruises from flying rock and I got a first degree burn on my back from being too close when one of his fire blasts hit. Thunderchild had to defend us from a huge lightning burst from one of the circles by redirecting it and in the chaos were weren't even sure what some of what we were dodging was! It was like being in a bucking minefield!

Finally, Ellis managed to throw a grenade just right as he set off another fire blast, setting it off.

Kabuto saw it in time and leapt back, but was still launched back by the explosion.

Before he could recover, Weaver charged in and blew his glove to bits with her beam, giving him a burn on the hoof.

We made sure he wasn't on a circle and tried to knock him out with our guard batons before he could recover (we knew enough about alchemy from the guard manuals to know giving a skilled alchemist iron from blood to use was NOT a good idea and blunt force was still more effective)...he dodged again, reminding us he was still super fast, and arrived at his desk (which seemed to be protected from the blasts by another circle).

"Not bad, little ponies. But that was only the first round, here comes the real show."

He picked up a needle filled with some violet liquid in his telekinesis. we naturally tried to shoot it out of his grasp but none of us were Audience and Kabuto seemed ready for it and protected it (and himself) with his extending legs before injecting it into his neck.

"Okay, the mad scientist just injected himself with something…that's never good..." Ellis stated the obvious. We all kept our crossbows and other weapons trained on him.

Kabuto leaned himself against a table as whatever he'd injected himself with took effect. Thunderchild took the chance to fire and shot an arrow into his shoulder. He screamed in pain, though the arrow went much shallower than it should have. He just pulled it out and regenerated. I noticed a circle under his wing casing glow as he did.

"Heightened regeneration...alchemy requires something for everything, in this case part of my lifespan, thus why I'm the only one who has it, and would normally weaken me severely, but I'm working on a way to reset my life span."

Thunderchild tried to fire again (I think trying to pin him to the table behind him) and I stopped him quickly, realizing something that made my blood run cold. "Garnet, what are yo-"

"If he's done all this stuff to himself, including injecting himself with an unknown chemical, spilling a ton of his blood is probably a bad idea. Especially since he's an alchemist."

Thunderchild took a moment then looked horrified. I was too.

"Smart girl."

Thunderchild and I had to dodge a thrown dagger Kabuto had transmuted his spilled blood from the first arrow into, seemingly via a rune he'd engraved on the bottom of one of his hooves.

"But I suppose you're curious about what I just injected myself with. Our previous queen before Chrysalis was very paranoid and had me do some experiments on her trying to make sure no one could kill her. There was one I was very proud of, but sadly, it also was incredibly unstable and the amount of additional modifications required for it to be...mildly safe were highly impractical...I think the old sloth only let me do it to her because she still had a few back up bodies at the time (ended up going through a lot of them perfecting it)...so I've been working on creating a more stable version. Right now its in the testing stages and while I've already made the modifications to myself to accommodate it, I've made a temporary trial version of it via bio-alchemy."

Weaver and her brothers suddenly looked scared half to death. "Celestia, you have to be joking."

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Sweet Celestia please tell me he didn't do what I think he did.)

"And thankfully, Her Majesty's little pet has given me enough love stocked up to maintain it for awhile...Now, behold my metaphorphsis."

Suddenly, Kabuto was surrounded by a massive pillar of green fire and...began to change into something else. Twisting and contorting inside the flames. We naturally opened fire, but the arrows either burned up or bounced off whatever was forming inside.

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Garnet, watch yourself!)

The pillar of fire dispersed to reveal-

"What in Celestia's name is that thing?!" I asked in shock.

He had become a giant. His creepy magnifying glass fused into his shell had fallen off. His lower half resembled a praying mantis with each leg ending in what looked like mammoth sized scalpels that pierced the floor. His upper half resembled a trilobite with eight segmented arms ending in the same type of blade. His head, set in the middle on a thick neck extending from his chest looked like that of a centipede with nasty looking mandibles. I noticed wing covering on his back but the wings were currently retracted. The armor plates looked frighteningly thick.

"Now, it's time for the first field test to really begin. Thank you so much for your cooperation." His voice had become deep and threatening.

I looked at the room and realized despite him being massive, it was big enough for him to move around in...he'd planned to do this when someone attacked him. He'd been prepared for somepony to come for him, just like he'd said. That's why he'd set up shop in this particular room.

I suddenly realized we'd come into a dragon's den armed with anti-infantry weapons.

"At least now he's big and-" Gag started.

Kabuto leapt into the air and slammed down with such force it sent a shockwave that almost knocked us off our hooves. He then swung his bladed arms so fast Thunderchild just barely dodged a slash that otherwise would have severed his wing.

"Oh horseapples! He's still fast!"

"You know, in this form I feel like I could crush the Queen in my jaws," he boasted.

Kabuto roared and slashed with all eight blades at once. Even dodging as fast as we could, all we managed to do was avoid getting maimed. I took a grazing slash across the chest that cut through my armor like it was butter and left a thin cut beneath it. Sweet Celestia...

"Pegasus #2, did you really think something intended to fight the Elements of Harmony and their allies wouldn't be prepared to deal with Loyalty's speed? Silly pony."

He then spat a TORRENT of Changeling slime at Thunderchild, which he only evaded by flash drying it with his lightning cutting his way through with a wingblade...then having to dodge more blades.

"Very impressive lightning abilities, remind me not to damage your wings, I want to dissect them later."

Ellis threw a grenade at his face which exploded point blank...and I just barely tackled him out of the way of one of Kabuto's legs that cut off a section of my tail.

"And Magic #1's spells, mustn't forget those. As you proved, alchemy circles can be destroyed after all."

Gag snuck up behind him and tried to strike an exposed joint with one of our swords...

"Gag look out!"

Gag heard me just in time to avoid being impaled by another of Kabuto's legs that bounced off his own armor undamaged.

"And Magic #2's trickery as well. Mustn't forget that. Oh, and fun fact! Cocoon lost because Chrysalis tricked her into striking herself in her evolved state, you'll find I have no such weakness."

"That's impossible!" I shouted. "Everything can be broken when struck against itself with enough force...oh wait...that means your attacks are WEAKER than your Queen's were!"

"Very observant. But that doesn't really matter when her evolved state was meant to kill a dragon and I only need to kill a bunch of tiny little ponies, does it?"

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): That and she was a Queen and he's a drone.)

But he's right. We're not dragons. We're ponies. A stroke that will just scratch a dragon would impale or slice a pony clear in half. Speaking of which, I barely have time to breathe as he almost does just that to me with another one of those arms of his. We could barely hurt him but one slash could kill us.

He has more of those things than we have squadmates and they're as fast lightning! And we don't have any heavy weapons to pierce that armor of his! Weaver tries the strongest beam spell she can and it barely scorches him! We need a unicorn with some destructive magic or heavy weapons, not crossbows and blowguns! We'd come expecting to fight infantry (can you blame us?), not a living tank!

(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Which is exactly what Kabuto must have wanted: for his enemy to come to a gun fight armed with daggers. I'm sorry Garnet, I had no idea he was this strong. I haven't exactly had a chance to study the Changeling higher ups in my recent condition. I'm truly sincerely sorry.)

"You wouldn't have been able to make yourself like this if Twilight hadn't fed you bugs all that information on them!" Gag jabbed, trying to help Thunderchild send a big lightning bolt at Kabuto.

He drove his legs into the ground and let the lightning pass through his exoskeleton and into the ground harmlessly.

(Interviewer's Note (Pegasus): Trixie's lightning.)

"So? I exploited a reliable source of information, Pegasus #2. How does make that any less of a ling? You only made this far by exploiting the fact we were unaware you existed. You're simple mortal ponies, regardless of training or special abilities. And that means without your other advantages, you'd have done no better than the Changelings you've been fighting. You're no different than us, no matter how hard that is to admit."

Several vents opened on his back and sucked air into them before he sprayed a cloud of gas that hung high in the air. Gag and Thunderchild dove down to avoid it.

"It's nonlethal, of course, don't want to kill someling Her Majesty needs if I can help it, but you can't fight me if you can't breathe, now can you?"

Now restricted in movement, Gag and Thunderchild had more trouble evading his blades and ended up with cuts for their trouble.

If we don't do something quick, we'll be cut to ribbons...Gag...please don't die...

I look at the chemicals nearby and grab some. I mix up the most flammable ones I can find into a beaker (some degree of chemical knowledge comes with the medical cutie mark) and put a flaming rag (thankfully he'd lit a few fires earlier trying to kill us) in the top before throwing it right at Kabuto's skull as hard as I can.


Bits of exoskeleton come down over his eyes, protecting them as my makeshift firebomb impacts him and lights his head on fire. "Oh, woe is me, I'm on fire...did you really expect that to hurt?"

No, but it gave us a chance to regroup and try to think of a way out of this while he put the fires on his head out.

"Alright...we're in trouble," Ellis whispered as we took what cover we could...which wasn't much. We were all bleeding a bit and bruised up, and my burned back was seriously starting to hurt. "We don't have the fire power for this big lug. We need a cannon or something."

"Can you whip up a bomb?" asked the sergeant.

"Not with what I've got on me. I came planning to breach a door, not destroy a tank. There isn't enough chemicals around here to make a bomb big enough to get through that armor."

Thunderchild nodded. "We need to retreat-"

Kabuto promptly hit both entrances to his lab with his slime.

"You're not leaving here alive, little lab rats!" Kabuto said, presumably assuming I was trying to give us a chance to retreat while he was putting his head out. Which is kinda what I was doing.

"Why does fate hate us even when the Captain's not here?" Gag asked.

(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): She doesn't hate you...she hates us...for purely justified reasons. But she doesn't hate you.)

"This jerk is smart." Thunderchild lamented.

"Considering he's their brainiac after the Princess' personal student, it's not surprising," Diver admitted.

Thunderchild took the opportunity to get his radio out. "Captain Coke, we need evac."

"What happened, Sergeant?"

"Kabuto was the trap! The guy's a tank and we're pinned down! We need back up to get evac!"

"Understood, we're on our way."

"...They ain't gonna get here in time, are they?" Ellis asked grimly, noting the situation we were in. The moment Kabuto got his head out, we were going to be fighting a storm of blades again.

Captain Cherry Coke was in the catacombs, a good distance away. On top of that, he'd need to get through the slime barrier in time.

"Probably not, but it's a good Plan B...Garnet, you're the medic, can you think of anything to get rid of whatever he injected himself with?" Thunderchild asked, trying to keep his cool.

Alright. Think Garnet. Think. You know medicine. How would something like this HAVE to work?

"...All I can guess is if it's a temporary mutation, like he said, it probably works off his metabolism to eventually run out, and he said some of these things were metabolic boosters, if I had time I might be able to make or find something that can speed up his metabolism and make it run out, and he'll probably be drained when it runs out, but the problem is we're busy dodging a living storm of blades and I need an extra set of hooves."

Weaver looked thoughtful. "...I could be your set of hooves, I'm probably the least useful fighter here given his circle to weaken unicorn magic."

"Hey, she's my fiance," Gag suggested. "I should be her backup."

"You're also a better fighter than me, Lance-Corporal."

"...Point."

"...Alright...can the rest of you hold him off while I try to mix something up?" I asked.

Thunderchild nodded. "We'll do our best. It's the only plan we've got other than hope we live until backup arrives. Let's try to do both."

Gag hugged me. "Please...be careful Garnet."

"You too, Running."

I kissed him. I hope it wasn't goodbye.

To Be Continued
Pony POV Series Wedding Arc
Written by The Editors
Misfit Vs Kabuto Part 1

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The Pony POV Series is a non-profit hobby.

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You are free to post your opinion. But please keep it civil.

I meant to include some more with this chapter, but it wouldn't go any further. You guys wanted more of Misfit Actual, and now you have it.

EDIT: Extra Line added regarding Kabuto being more useful as a prisoner than a corpse.

MUSIC LIST:
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Fight with Transformed Kabuto:

[=Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance - Collective Consciousness =]
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The chapter begins with Running Gag making a startling discovery: According to one of the notes a general of the Equestrian Army did help the Changelings with their invasion plans. But now that he has served his purpose, Chrysalis is handing him over to Kabuto for experiments. Twilight would have awaited a similar fate once she has served her role for the sadist. Sadly the Changelings truly believe that their unstable and selfish ruler has infinite wisdom, it is very ironic how a species whose specialty is manipulation and deception is so horrible with judging their Queens. No wonder Cocoon was able to convince them that she was the benevolent guardian of the swarm but to be fair these lies were drilled into the Changelings from their birth on, so they believe the words of the monsters ruling them. The traitor within the military did make the invasion plans easier but it would have likely worked without him anyway. Then the Changelings just would have to replace somebody important instead. But for now the guards decide that it is more important to deal with the countless victims of Chrysalis and her army instead of focusing on this traitor.

As the times moves on Thunderchild begins to understand more and more what it is like to be responsible for others. With Shining absent he is the one giving the orders and while it is not easy, he will not let his friend down. While he does admire his friend for being so selfless and protective of others, he despises the mockery of that person Chrysalis did twist his friend into. On the other side it is understandable that the others don't think that Thunderchild truly loves Fluttershy, first he never really had the chance to talk with her or get to know her and second he was quick to admire the wingspans of others, making him not the most reliable boyfriend you could think of. The funny thing is that he might be a good fit for Fluttercruel and Fluttershy together as the cruel daughter might love his thunder guitar. The others are also worried for their family, friends and loved ones especially Shining Armor. Yet there is still some time to get to know the new allies, so Thunderchild takes the chance to talk with Weaver and her two siblings. The three reveal that they were born in Zebrafrica but they didn't truly fit in to put it nicely. The sergeant suspects that it might be related to their personalities since Weaver is not exactly ladylike, Diver is strangely childish from time to time and finally Bombardier can be oddly feminine. Other places are far stricter with gender roles then Equestria is.

But what really drove them to become guards was to realize how the soldiers they looked up to as children turned out to be monsters. What disgusted them to no end was that those they once admired only saw everybody else as tools and did look down at their victims like they were not even sentient beings. It is another hint that the three are actually Changelings and it is hard to argue with them how horribly many Changelings treat their victims, like they are mere objects to be used instead of actual living beings. Most farmers would treat their cattle better. In a way it is frighteningly similar to the attitude of Nightmare Eclipse who did saw all living beings as mere probs to use against Discord, this view allowed her to kill them over and over again. The Changelings use a different excuse in the form of calling all other sentient beings cattle to allow them to kill or drain their victims without second thoughts. Thankfully the three siblings realized the bitter truth together and were able to escape and eventually ended up in an orphanage before they became refugees and went to Equestria. There they finally saw their chance to make up for the crimes of their kind by becoming Equestrian Guards to save and protect others. The sad truth is that the Changelings are not even the only ones in Zebrafrica with such an utter disregard of life in general. But right now the siblings are deeply worried that their foster parents might be in danger because of the Changeling invasion.

Currently the parents are in San Deneighgo but even that distance will not save them once the mind rape rune is complete. Weaver openly wonders if they are any better then the rest of their kind since Discord made their worst fears a reality. Does this mean that deep down they are the same monsters and everything they tried to archive was pointless? Thunderchild doesn't have to guess long to realize what the Draconequus turned them into even if he doesn’t know their true nature. But the ponies know from experience that the nature of somebody is not their fate. The griffins were able to overcome their nature after all. However the flipside is that the nature of the Changelings is also NOT an excuse for their actions, especially since some of them know of a way to coexist peacefully with others races but the higher ups of the Changeling race clearly don't want that to happen. While forgiveness exists, it doesn't mean to forget the crimes of others. However Thunderchild would be willing to forgive the Changelings if they took responsibility for their actions, were punished for their crimes and were put under close watch. After all we know that the Changelings did drain countless victims, basically sucking their souls dry. There needs to be some sort of punishment for these crimes, it is not exactly murder but pretty close to it. So far Equestria got lucky and nobody was killed or turned into a soulless husk but there were many, many victims before that.

Discord seemed to have taken the idea of the three trying to make up for the crimes of their kind personally. He always hated the idea of somebody finding redemption, likely because he rejected many chances for redemption himself. The Draconequus could have tried to become a better person for Celestia before the war, he could have tried to join with his good side instead of devouring it and finally he could have tried to beg for forgiveness after being unsealed the first time. Celestia was just reunited with her sister, she might have been in the mood to give him a chance if he was serious about it. Or he could have just left the world and returned to his family to face their judgment. Unlike many of his other victims, the three could not go and get professional help since their trauma is connected to their Changeling nature, something they can not reveal to others so easily. But this talk with the sergeant did help them a lot to overcome their doubts. Soon enough their beliefs will be put to the test. Before they can continue Gag rushes in and reveals that by now Twilight, Spike and the unicorn interviewer were saved from the vile corruption.

They also learn that currently Kabuto is the one overseeing the rune from the safety of his own lab. The fact that the other Changelings have no idea what this rune actually does is quite frightening to Weaver. But Chrysalis had a good reason to hide its true purpose from her servants, after all the rune will mind rape all of Equestria and ONLY she will devour all emotions leaving the Changelings with nothing while she herself gains ultimate power thanks to the destruction of the legendary land of love. It is an insane plan that is basically the destruction of the holy grail of the Changelings, it is likely that they would revolt against the sadist if they knew that they were just used as pawns in this selfish game. Currently Kabuto is the third one who took the duty of being foreman for the rune and the ponies decide to continue the trend that these overseers don’t last long. It would ruin Chrysalis's plans even further then they already are.

Even now Digger Wasp is not willing to turn against the sadistic Changeling Queen who clearly knew the truth about the ponies and decided to start the invasion anyway. However he reveals his name and rank but he is not willing to reveal anything useful about Kabuto. Unlike the ponies he knows how dangerous and powerful the Alchemist is and he was even ordered to kill Kabuto once the invasion is over. From all the persons that Chrysalis intended to kill after they had served their use, Kabuto might be the only one who deserved it considering that he enjoyed making his experiments as painful and long as possible. Then again she did plan the same thing with Twilight and the general so she might do this to everybody who seems no longer useful. Once Digger Wasp is no longer willing to talk, the ponies do not try to force him to talk. He did expect torture or at least some death treats. This does impress him enough to reveal that currently no ponies will be harvested, Chrysalis has of course her own reasons for doing so since she plans to devour the minds of these ponies herself. Her army is not allowed to lessen her meal. By now Digger Wasp does hope that a peaceful solution can be found in the end, just like the ponies around him. But he does still partly support the insane plans of his Queen by NOT revealing how dangerous Kabuto truly is. The alchemist could end up taking down the rebels because they have no idea what they are walking into.

Then the perspective switches over to Nightlight/Moonlight Sparkle, Twilight's and Shining's father. He and his wife were so happy that their son found true love, making the horrible deception all the more painful for them. There was nothing the parents could do to save both of their children from the twisted control of the monster and it got even worse when the same monster injured his wife horribly. She might never walk again if they don't find a medic quickly. However for the moment all they could do was to hide from the Changelings and they lacked the detailed knowledge of the castle the others had thanks to Blueblood. Eventually they have to run from the invaders but the next guards they run into look familiar: It is Thunderchild's group. They quickly hide the Sparkles in a closet and Running Gag uses his knowledge of Changeling language to send the invaders into the wrong direction.

But even now Thunderchild knows that he has to do something to gain the trust of the father, after all Chrysalis's deception left everybody suspicious of people that were once their friends. It is hard to tell imposters apart from the real ponies as Twilight's group had to learn in the theater in a very painful way. So Thunderchild does reveal a very embarrassing secret to the father (so embarrassing that not even the reader hears it) while Ellis mentions the impossible cider still mass driver episode. It is enough to convince Nightlight that they truly are what they seem to be. Finally he can allow himself to experience relief, it is the first ray of light after so many hours of darkness. And it gets better since Garnet Chambers (possibly a reference to Rebecca Chambers, the medic from Resident Evil) is with the group and she can take care of Starlight. First she has to locate the injures and then she can splint the legs to make the pain bearable. In the once twisted timeline the medic had to work under much worse conditions to save a life. Eventually they decide to bring the parents to Captain Coke for additional protection. It is a relief for the two parents to learn that his group did manage to escape as well.

Amusingly Garnet tries to gain some resources by asking Mrs. Sparkle to lecture them but the parents are not able to create soapboxes that easily. But there are enough things to break in this castle to get material otherwise. While the process of realigning the broken bones and splinting them is painful, it finally lessens the suffering of the poor mare. Now she can be moved but even in this condition the mother begs them to save their children from their horrible enslavement. To give her a boost before the painful track to safety Thunderchild actually reveals that Twilight was saved by Princess Cadence herself. In turn the parents are moved to tears but sadly Shining is still under the control of the sadist. But Thunderchild's group is hopeful that soon enough somebody will knock some sense into his friend. Yet Moonlight still feels like he failed to protect his children. The earth pony interviewer is quick to remind him that Twilight and Shining are the ponies they are today because of the parents who raised them into these good persons and heroes. A good parent can make a huge difference like Fluttercruel and Fluttershy showed.

While the Elements of Harmony are busy freeing Applejack, Garnet and the rest of the group are ready to confront Kabuto. Her love Running Gag is at her side and thinking back, it was unsurprisingly not his sense of humor that made her fall in love with him. She loves that he is such a good person that always tries to be there for her, just like she tries be there when he needs her. What does unnerve her deeply is the idea that the two of them might never get to their own wedding day. All her friends came so close but even Shining and Cadence were stopped harshly by Chrysalis in the last minute. In turn the interviewers ask if she truly wants to give up on her partnership with Gag, a life without others is a lot less complicated but it is also a very lonely one. She is not willing to give up on her love for him and she knows that this would hurt him to no end. In the end the two of them proclaim their love before it is time to move in. Bombardier thinks that they are a cute couple and they do remind him on the partners of his siblings: Weaver has a griffin named Goldar (apparently his parents loved the Pony Rangers to give him this name) and Diver has a Musk Deer named Faline. They all have somebody to fight for.

It turns out that the lab is inside a large storage room near the dungeon, likely so that he can store his victims there until it is time to experiment. Garnet takes it personally that somebody is using medical knowledge for hurting instead of healing. But in the end they think that Kabuto is still an average scientist and besides Twilight those are usually not that dangerous in combat. Their plan is to attempt to free the hostages with their Changeling act and then try a sneak attack against the alchemist once the hostages are safe. Only in case something goes wrong taking down Kabuto becomes top priority. Thanks to Running Gag and the stolen intel they are able to deceive the two guards outside and lab and take them down. However the place is strangely unguarded considering that it should have a high priority to guard the third foreman. Something is VERY wrong here. The room is also suspiciously empty and it seems that the floor has been remodeled. Much to their surprise Kabuto is much smaller then Digger Wasp, about the size of a normal drone. The magnifying glass merged with his very head already shows that he needs to be insane and/or have incredible skill to perform such an operation without lobotomizing himself. Another hint that he is incredible smart is that he is actually able to read Twilight's notes but the calm way he talks about that most of the swarm wants him dead is quite unnerving.

Facing the equally smart Twilight nearly drove him insane but to be fair she only got really obnoxious under Chrysalis's mind control. Similar to his Queen once he is not able to beat somebody with words, he will use brute force. While Chrysalis vivisects minds, he prefers to vivisect the bodies. He had hoped that the Element of Magic would return for a battle with him but much to his disappointment she went directly for Chrysalis instead. But he knows that they are not Changelings since the Queen would have informed him of their arrival. The rebels do not waste any time and take down the Changeling guards very fast. Another hint about Weaver's true nature is that she did reveal the weakpoints of the invaders to her allies. The scientist seems very disappointed that his guards did fall so quickly despite having gotten Equestrian training as well. But he seems hardly surprised and introduces himself proudly. In turn Running Gag actually is able to tell two funny jokes in a row, taking down his allies does hardly get a reaction from Kabuto but making fun of him is the fastest way to get a blade through the throat. The alchemist did alter his own body and crafted additional limps to it ending in sharp blades giving him the ability to give the same deadly surprise Cocoon loved to give.

Only Garnet's fast reaction pulls Gag out of the range of the deadly weapon. By now it is also pretty clear that Kabuto doesn't share the usual racist (or specist might be the better term since the Changelings are looking down on other species) ideology of the swarm, he has something much worse. He looks down on everybody who he views as less intelligent then himself and his reaction to Twilight showed that he is not accepting anybody as his equal. Instead of calling them cattle, he calls them by their species or in the case of the Elements of Harmony by their Element. It serves to stop him from beginning to care for anybody and that seems to have worked very well. Meanwhile the dart that did hit him the moment he tried to murder Gag does nothing to knock him out and refreshingly Kabuto is too smart to simply answer how he did it. Instead he lists several possibilities. It is also not hard to guess how he got his bad reputation inside the swarm when he openly admits that he uses his fellow Changelings as test subjects and his experiments have an insanely high mortality rate. Through unlike Chrysalis did claim, his experiments actually do serve a purpose since he himself is the proof that his technique did work in the end after going through a large number of test subjects first. But even the sadistic Changeling Queen thought that the loss of life was too serve to continue these tests. The ponies however are absolutely horrified how little the death of his allies means to him and Kabuto proudly proclaims that morals have no place in scientific advancement.

As he notices that Garnet is a medic the professor openly asks her if the feeling of deciding who lives and who dies is not simply the most amazing experience possible. Gag tries to attack him while he is distracted with this lecture but the alchemist effortlessly kicks the pegasus aside. It seems one of his improvements allows for an insane speed. But what disturbs Garnet even further is that he didn't even try to impale Running Gag while he had the chance. He seems to have something worse in mind and Kabuto actually seems slightly sad when Garnet fully rejects his question. The group gets ready to use progressively deadlier tactics and they would rather see him being tried for war crimes instead of getting a quick death. However the alchemist is sure that they are neither able to arrest nor kill him and with another display of his insane speed and power he proudly proclaims that thanks to his knowledge and Sweetie's song he has more then enough raw power to take them all down. The entire reason that there were hardly any guards here was that Kabuto himself IS the trap.

A glove with an alchemy circle engraved to it allows him to channel his alchemy into a firestorm. And he took several precautions like circles meant to weaken the Elements of Magic and other circles engraved into the ground that explode when he strikes them in the right spot. They do not waste time and open fire as he is standing still for a brief moment but it seems to hardly slow him down. It seems more effective to use earth pony strength to break the circles before he can activate them and Thunderchild is able to redirect lightning attacks from other circles. Thankfully their experience allows them to survive long enough in this minefield for Ellis to throw a grenade just when Kabuto has to stand still to activate another circle. The resulting explosion throws him back and Weaver takes this chance to destroy his special glove. As the others move in to knock him out, he retreats to his desk (the only place that seems to be protected from all this mayhem). There he injects himself with a needle.

The rebels try to shoot it out of his grasp but he shields himself with the additional legs. The effect seems to be painful enough to distract him, allowing Thunderchild to fire an arrow right into Kabuto's shoulder. However even that hardly slows him down as his alchemy allows him to regenerate at an insane rate. The prize is that he has to sacrifice some of his life span for it but he is sure to be eventually able to offer something else to restore his own life span. He is likely planning to transfer the life span of his unfortunate test subjects into himself. Not to mention that wounding him is dangerous since he is able to create daggers from the spilled blood. Eventually he reveals that he was the one responsible for turning Cocoon into the incredible bio weapon that nearly killed Chrysalis. They were actually a good team since she had the multiple bodies necessary to actually survive his experiments but in the end that creation still had some notable flaws. Since then he did perfect it and he just injected himself with the improved version and thanks to Sweetie Belle he has enough love to actually transform himself. Thanks a lot Sweetie.

Then Kabuto transforms in a burst of fire and he becomes gigantic. But he has become a different kind of bio weapon compared to Cocoon. She resembled a mutated ant queen while he is a merge between a mantis, a trilobite and a centipede. He has even more sharp legs then the former Changeling Queen and his armor seems to be similar thick. It turns out that the reason that this room seemed so oversized was to allow him room to move and he certainly can move fast, Thunderchild is only barely able to dodge the deadly strike. As he uses all his blades against them even their speed is not enough to dodge the attacks completely and their armor is nearly useless in protecting them from the strikes. This body was designed to kill somebody with the speed of Rainbow Dash and he is able to split insane amounts of immobilizing Changeling slime at once. Only Thunderchild's mastery of lightning allows him to cut through this attack. Even grenades to the face have no effect and he was smart enough to learn from the error of Cocoon to make his armor more powerful then his own attacks. Even if they trick him into cutting himself, he can not damage his own armor. But to be fair the former Changeling Queen wanted blades that could cut dragon skin, it might have been impossible to create an armor that was even stronger then that.

It is an insanely unfair battle as he is slowly gaining ground and one good hit will mean their death while his armor seems to be able to resist pretty much everything they could throw at him. He did prepare himself with the information from the corrupted Twilight but ironically this set of strengths turns out to be very useful against pretty much everybody who doesn't have enough firepower to break a tank. So his body is immune against lightning which prevents Thunderchild from using his best attacks and he has a toxic gas that prevents them from flying too high into the air, basically forcing their pegasi to the ground. Desperate for any solution Garnet combines some of the nearby chemicals into a makeshift firebomb and throws it into his face. But he has an additional protection for his eyes, again learning from the mistakes of Cocoon. Even setting his head on fire does hardly distract him and he seals off the exits with his Changeling slime.

There is no way out and the evac they are calling for will take a lot of time to arrive and break through these barriers. It might be too late for them. But Garnet realizes from what Kabuto did say about his own creations that he did undergo a temporary mutation and the mixture in his bloodstream will eventually run out. If they could speed up his metabolism, they could force the effect to end sooner. The medic will try to create something and Weaver offers her help since the circles prevent her from casting unicorn magic anyway. This might be their last chance to take down this giant before he can vivisect them.

Overall Kabuto turned out to be a quite frightening and strangely entertaining villain. His calling turned out to advance science at ANY cost and unlike Chrysalis he did embrace his destiny fully and completely. His acts are horrible atrocities but a bit similar to Discord his happiness and intelligence is very real. Not to mention that his mutation is very impressive, it would have been a great final boss in many stories. He certainly is enjoying this position of superiority over his test subject. But his flaw is that he underestimates those who he views as inferior (in short: everybody), he didn’t take all chances he had to kill them in their first battle and this might backfire on them. Meanwhile Weaver and her siblings are struggling with their nature and work so hard to try to find a better and less destructive way to live. This determination will soon be put to the test.
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:iconyoshiegg64:
yoshiegg64 Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014
Running Gag: "Ugh! How is this guy so fast yet so big!"

Kabuto: "Ha! Pegasus #2 would you believe that I was medic ninja in my previous life."

Garnet Chambers: "Oh yeah well...I killed vast armies of zombies in my past life."

Ellis: "Oh hey me too! In fact did I ever tell you guys when I were on the top of a burnin' building, and had to fight my way down like five floors of zombies and-"

Thunderchild: NOW is not the time for one of your stories Ellis!"

Kabuto: "Oh don't listen to him Earth Pony #1. I would love to hear your story. In fact I was in the middle of experimenting on a way to to reanimate the dead."


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0_0 I just realized NOW the name references of Misfit or maybe I forgot until hearing their full name again. Ellis's wild stories now make a whole lot more sense. Wonder if he has a friend named Kevin. 
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:iconalexwarlorn:
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014
No comment. Since it was LZ who came up wit the names for SA's troops. 
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:iconyoshiegg64:
yoshiegg64 Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014
Well I guess I ask him then. But I am pretty sure I am right on who their names are referenced to.

Garnet Chamber - residentevil.wikia.com/Rebecca…

Ellis Apple - left4dead.wikia.com/wiki/Ellis

Kabuto - naruto.wikia.com/wiki/Kabuto_Y…
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:iconalexwarlorn:
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014
Please don't. The POV Series is his beserk button now. 
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:iconyoshiegg64:
yoshiegg64 Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014
Still? I thought he finally calm down about that.

Very well I won't ask him but can you at least tell me if I am right about the reference to Kabuto from Naruto?
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:iconalexwarlorn:
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014
Yes you are. 
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:iconyoshiegg64:
yoshiegg64 Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014
Well this is a surprise. With a name like Kabuto was under the impression  he will behave more like a ninja. You know due to him having so many similarities to Kabuto Yakushi from Naruto. Quite a fitting name by the way. Both were raised as spies, had extensive knowledge in deadly medic techniques and have super-regenerative abilities. Also they both turn themselves into monsters.

Also liked the Full-metal alchemist r
eference with the gloves and circles. However I am not sure if Roy mustang would pleased to learn his techniques was copied.

So yes, I liked this battle so far. Kabuto is shaping up to be quite a formidable foe. Only thing he forgot in this clever trap was to jam the troops radios. Now the question is, can misfit hold out for backup because it doesn't look they will defeat Kabuto without some outside inference. 


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:iconalexwarlorn:
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014
Technically Kabuto wasn't raised as a spy, but as a mad scientist. 

And there's one twist to be revealed.
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:iconyoshiegg64:
yoshiegg64 Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2014
Technically Kabuto wasn't raised as a spy, but as a mad scientist.

True, but all changelings seem to be natural spies.

And there's one twist to be revealed.

Hmm...was he a pony transformed into a changeling? That would be ironic that one of hive's masters wouldn't be a natural changeling. Guess I will have to read on to find out.
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:iconitsfrompeople:
ItsfromPeople Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2014
“On top of that, he was probably one of the only ones who actually knew what the rune did, so if there was a fifth foreman of it, taking him alive to find out what it did and how to stop it was in our best interests.” should be “On top of that, he was probably one of the only ones who actually knew what the rune did, so if there was a fourth foreman of it, taking him alive to find out what it did and how to stop it was in our best interests.” There were Twilight, the unicorn interviewer and Kabuto so the next one would the the fourth foreman.
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