Pony POV Series
Behind Enemy Lines
By Editors and Alexwarlorn
(Interviewer's Notes (Dusk): The following events happened concurrent to the events you already know. These notes were taken by my sisters while I was...sadly assisting the Queen in her plans. This happened shortly after the wedding rehearsal as told by Rarity.)
I was simply sowing dresses, as per usual. Huh? No my friends have long realized that constant demands are not a good idea. It's normally me nowadays that decides to make changes up until the last moment.
"Uh, excuse me," said a voice behind me. Manecunian accent if I'm not mistaken.
I turned to see a Pegasus stallion. Judging by his armor, he was a member of Princess Cadence's portion of the Guard. Purple is an interesting choice for the color, looks quite regal with the white fur. Seemed to be off duty, since no helmet covered his sky blue mane.
"Hello there. I hope this isn't about what happened earlier at the rehearsal, we've settled the matter."
"Huh? What? Uh, no. I don't believe so. Unless I have amnesia and I haven't hit my head in over six months."
He paused as if expecting a laugh...I gave a small, polite giggle instead of the more fitting face hoof.
"You're one of the Bearers, correct? Generosity?"
I blinked. "Yes...I'm honestly surprised you noticed, all things considered. It's normally something most don't realize."
"Really? Huh, well you see, my fiancée Garnet said you six were here, she met your friend Pinkie Pie earlier and I'm on Captain Sparkle's squad so it's kinda hard NOT to hear about his baby sister saving the world three times."
Fiancée. Of course. Why can't a nice stallion ever come to me single and looking for a fillyfriend? Oh well.
"Ah, I see. Well, if you're looking for an autograph, you might want to look for Rainbow Dash darling. Normally I'd love to, but I'm a bit busy at the moment."
"No, Miss, if I can have some of your time, I was...more looking to talk to you about a project of mine..." he explained, seeming a little nervious about talking about it.
"...Is this about a stage play or video game based off our lives?"
"No...though admittedly I'd like to have one of those in the guard lunge."
"Rainbow would agree with you, she's been wanting one since we beat Nightmare Moon. A book then?"
"Warmer...uh, let me show you, Miss."
A few moments later, the stallion, named Running Gag, was showing me what appeared to be Neighponese Manega sketches...of me kicking a cyborg monster in the head. Though credit where it's do, even in body armor and kicking flank he made me look fabulous.
Yes, I was busy, but I was interested. And I can always make time for helping others. Plus he was a Guard. We might be the ones to stop things like Discord, but that doesn't mean I don't respect what the Guard does for Equestria enough to give him some of my time.
"So you're making a manega about us? That's quite flattering."
"Well Miss, you ARE the closest thing Equestria has to superheroes, so it was either you or the Princesses and they've already got a lot of Manega based off them."
I was thankful he'd not chosen to do us in the style of Sailor Luna.
"So...uh, what do you think?" he asked, looking just a tad nervous. Hard to blame him, he was showing something he'd made of us to me. I can appreciate your nerves getting to you
"Well, the armor could use a little work to better suit us, but otherwise looks fabulous. Your art is actually quite good."
"Thanks, Miss. I'm sorry if I didn't get your style right, all I could guess was Applejack was a brawler from stories her cousin Ellis in my squad told me, Rainbow was fast, and Twilight has very powerful magic."
"Actually you got me fairly well, though I would have kicked him in the knee first, then the head, that way I could take him off guard with the finishing blow. My style is is about making more calculated moves."
He raised a surprised eyebrow. Most people are surprised at how well a fashionista like me knows how to fight.
"Oh, and Fluttershy is a pacifist, try researching styles that involve making the opponent hurt themselves rather than you hurting them or perhaps give her an alter ego who's more willing to engage in fighting, would fit her much more."
All in all, it was fun to learn SOMEPONY saw us as heroes. While I'm not about to use it as a gravy train, having every noble forget we've saved the world three times can be irritating.
"Thank you for your time, Miss Rarity," he said, packing up his manega.
"Oh it was no problem, darling. It's the least I could do for one of our stallions in armor after all you do for us."
He seemed to enjoy hearing that. I'm glad nopony who does good for its own sake deserves to be pushed aside.
And groanworthy jokes aside, Gag was a nice stallion. His fiancée is a lucky mare.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Our notes didn't just touch on Twilight and her friends without us there to control what it wrote down. They found their way to another set of good-guys in this whole mess. The following happened while Chrysalis was being revealed at the Wedding with Garnet Chambers.)
I was simply doing my job. I'm a medic, even if I know how to fight as well as the next Guard. Thankfully, it'd been a slow day. Only Bumblebee coming in with some bruising and a broken leg...it was odd, he said he crashed but I noticed ash on him. I questioned him and he said he'd crashed into a unicorn whose spell misfired. I wish I could say I hadn't heard of weirder injuries. Considering Gag gets attacked by a cat on a regular basis, you can imagine how weird it can get.
Gag...I took my engagement ring out of my pocket (Earth Pony rings were quite large to fit on our hooves, but it still fit) and looked at it.
I missed Gag. I hadn't seen a lot of him for the past few weeks. Having the excuse to tell him about the Bearers was a blessing. For one reason or another our schedules always seemed to butt heads. Same with Ellis and Thunderchild, it was like fate (or our CO) was trying to keep us all apart. Audience was out of Canterlot on some sort of assignment. Seemed a lot of Black Thistle ponies had been, actually. Captain had said they were needed if things got violent with one of our neighbors, but I doubted it'd come to that. We hadn't spent two years spreading love and tolerance for nothing.
Not to mention the main country we could be worrying about was Columbia, and they were a close ally (so were the Buffalo). I can understand setting up a watch, but something just seemed off about it...
Thankfully, tonight we'd set it up. We were planning to meet at this restaurant near the castle. It was so odd: our schedules seemed to suddenly clear up tonight. Like fate hadn't bothered to keep us apart any longer...
Then I noticed the shield fall outside the window. "Captain?" I asked outloud, what was going on? Captain would let himself fall unconscious before he'd lower the shield when Canterlot was under threat. Trust me, I've treated that stubborn unicorn for overexerting himself. Several times.
Then the shield expanded outwards, and felt it pass over me...and then I saw Princess Luna and guards be hurled into the distance. So many of them.
I staggered back in horror from the window, shaking my head in disbelief. "What the hay?!"
"Hey, Stag, I heard something in here!"
I heard somepony call. I hid in a pantry. Yes, I know it could've been friends, but with what I just saw, I wasn't taking chances. As far as I knew I'd just seen several hundred ponies DIE right in front of me...but for some reason, it missed me altogether. So forgive me if I needed to take a moment to analyize the situation.
I peaked out from a crack in the door to see two guards walk in. But they didn't carry themselves like guards, they looked like they were the Termaneator looking for his prey.
"Nothing here, Stinkbug."
"You know I hate that nickname."
"Then take a bath sometimes."
I thought I'd seen them around the area somewhere. I did remember a guard that hated taking a bath any more than absolutely necessary. Stinkbug seemed like a good name. I could smell him from where I was.
"Can we PLEASE just get out of these stupid disguises? The Guard just got thrown out of Canterlot, who are we HIDING from?"
"Yeah, the invasion started, the guard is gone, the cattle are stuck in this dome, go for it. Her Majesty will never know."
In a flash of green fire...what the hay?! Only my medic and military training let me keep my head on straight in the whole mess.
I saw two black bug ponies standing in the infirmary, blue eyes in their ugly mugs.
"What do you think happened?" asked Stinkbug.
"Don't know, but Her Majesty must have changed the plans. Not that I'm complaining, less hustle. Hercules Beetle might not be happy. Big guy was really looking forwards to protecting Her."
So this was some kind of invasion...Then it hit me...what if...Gag...Ellis...Thunderchild...
I HAD to get out of here...I had to make sure they were okay. I had to make sure the captain was okay...I had to do my job as a guard and a medic.
I'm not the team's strongest fighter. I could probably take one of them, but two against one were not odds I felt like I could take by myself. I needed some sort of weapon. Even in combat situations medics generally aren't too heavily armed and I didn't know how tough their body armor was, and from my position it seemed to cover most of their vitals. Even if I wasn't a pony who had 'thou shall not kill' written into her DNA, I knew a knife probably wouldn't be enough. On top of that, stabbing with a knife equaled spilled blood, and as far as I knew, I was in occupied territory. They resembled some form of predatory species judging from the fangs, so it was highly possible spilling blood would alert others that one of their own was wounded (Griffins had been known to track wounded enemies with less of a wound), and I was alone. A knife didn't seem like a good weapon to use...Then it hit me.
I looked around found some needles and tranquilizers used to sedate patients. Small enough point to fit through the opennings in their armor, would only make a tiny hole with very little if any blood. Even if it didn't put them to sleep quickly it'd probably slow their movements. I looked at the two closely, figuring out their probable size and weight. I have a medical Cutie Mark, figuring out how much medicine to give somecreature quickly comes with my special talent. It's REQUIRED to give someone anesthetic or tranquilizers without killing them.
I filled the needles with how much I FELT it should take to put these lugs to sleep for a few hours. Thankfully they were turned away from me.
I snuck out of the closet (Gag knows how to be sneaky even if he doesn't look it, and he taught me a thing or two). I looked over them, finding where the plates met. Using my medical talent, I aligned a proper location. And yes, I knew this might not work, but I had to TRY. I still had the knife as a back up.
I quickly jabbed one in between the plates on Stag's back and injected him, quickly taking the second needle in my mouth. "Youch!"
I ducked as they spun around and injected Stinkbug in the neck (ugh, and almost threw up, the guy lives up to his name) with the other needle. I quickly pulled my knife with my mouth to use defensively.
"What? A guard's still here?!" Stag asked, lunging at me.
Unfortunately, in real life, tranquilizers aren't instant, but they still acted fast enough that after I ducked under Stag's lunge and dodged a few strikes or parried them with my knife, they began to slow down enough to even the odds for me. I dodged a lunge from Stag's horn and used his own momentum to drive him head first into a wall (standard counter for a unicorn charge). Stinkbug jumped at me, fangs bared, but his reaction time was dulled enough for me to mule kick him in the chest and launch him into the ceiling (thank the Princesses for Earth Pony strength).
He crumpled to the ground, and I caught my breath before I restrained them, including gags to stop them making too much noise. I took a moment to examine them. Natural armor, it seemed... with lots of little holes? The armour was pretty solid, though. It appeared to be some sort of magically reinforced and scaled up insect exoskeleton at first glance. Judging by the jointing and their size, they likely had a true endoskeleton as well for support.
On closer inspection the armor seemed to be made up of fine fibers like silk. I tapped it, and it seemed that where I struck, the fibers bonded for a moment, becoming a thicker plate. It hardened on impact? That meant a larger blade might bounce off trying to stab, but a fine needle would either not have enough force behind it, or slip between gaps....
I snuck over to the door and peeked out into the hallway, seeing more of these monsters wandering around, some chasing ponies. However, while some had dropped their disguises like these two, some where still disguised as Guards and tricking ponies (I realized that because the guards would be attacking the invaders to give the civilians a chance to flee if that many were still around, putting themselves on the line for them).
I hoped that'd be enough to hide me as I stuffed Stag and Stinkbug in a closet, grabbed a few needles filled with tranquilizers in a medical bag (not the most practical of weapons, but it was the most effective weapon in my reach at the moment) and headed out, doing my best to act natural and not to draw attention. It seemed to be working.
Protocol said in an emergency situation, regroup if at all possible. The only place I COULD think to regroup with the others was head to outside. Even Thunderchild wouldn't head back to the barracks or armory and most of the bugs seemed to be heading for the Wedding Hall, if the Captain was in trouble, there wasn't much I could do alone (and yes, I HATED having to admit that!). It made strategic sense to get out of the heavily enemy occupied territory.
Plus looking out the window, it seemed these creatures were maintaining their disguises outside the castle, so if nothing else, it was safer there than where I was now.
Gag...please be okay...I don't want us to end up like Ranger and Sunset...
Come on come on. It was almost time to meet with the others for the first time in a long time. Especially Garnet. Can't wait to get to the wedding chambers with her. Come on that one at least a little funny! ...Seriously though, I can't wait for our wedding day, can't come soon enough.
Why is it bad luck decided to pick on ALL of us for a change instead of just the captain like it normally does? Seriously, we'd had our schedules butting heads so much they might as we ll be written by a goat! I'm lucky Garnet managed to see me and tell me Rarity was in town. That was a rarity of a chance wasn't it?
But now we'd finally get the chance to meet up again all together and congratulate the captain on his big day. Audience should be back in the next few days too, then we can have our own post wedding party.
During the wedding itself, I was just on patrol around the castle, waiting for my shift to end, when something seemed to cause a bit of a panic. I'm not sure what happened, but it looked like it was coming from the wedding hall. I noticed at least a few guards starting to reorganize themselves, some looking that way and acting nervous. I noticed some Earth Pony seem to sneak in the front door while they were distracted, but before I could say anything, the Captain's shield went down, then went out again, passing over me. I saw a couple of the guards get sent flying right in front of me!
Garnet...Oh Celestia please be okay. Guys...
Come on, Gag, keep it together. You're a guard. You've got to keep your head on straight....oh please let Garnet and the others be okay.
I noticed a couple of the guards who HADN'T been thrown off looking around panicked. The bigger Pegasus smacked the smaller one in the back of the head and motioned for him to calmly walk over to a closet. Okay, I might not be the BEST guard, but even I know that's NOT what you do in a situation like this.
I quietly snuck up and listened silently with my sword ready. I needed to see if I could figure out what was going on. I didn't have time to panic.
I heard what sounded like some Zebrafrican language. One I hadn't heard before...probably from an area we hadn't visited or an older language that got replaced by the common tongue.
It's hard to describe what it's like when my special talent kicks in and starts teaching me a new language. The best I can describe it is that when I listen to someone speak a language I've never heard before, my brain starts piecing together how to speak it for myself. It's kinda like putting a new game into a console and powering it up, but the screen is all fuzzy and needs focused. It starts out as just babble, then a few words make sense, then a few more, then I can see the whole picture. That's as best way I can describe. Yeah, it sounds kinda freaky, but it's just how I've always seen the world.
For a few moments the conversation was just nonsense I couldn't understand...then...
"Because...is going on...Her Majesty....This wasn't part...the plan. We can't...the Cattle understand what we're saying..."
"What should we do...it?"
"We should begin rounding up the cattle before they realize what was going on."
"But what about the Guard?"
"From the looks of it, there isn't a Guard, there are only Changelings."
"Aren't we Guards?"
"You know what I meant dummy!"
Okay...didn't expect that...but only 'Changelings'?...Remember: take advantage of stealth whenever you can. There isn't much better stealth than 'enemy thinks you're one of them.'
I knocked on the door and opened it. "What's going on?" I asked, intheir language. After all, what better way to make them think you're one of them than speaking their own language? Regular timberwolf in sheep's clothing. Or rather sheep in timberwolf's clothing.
"Gag? You're one of us?" asked the little one, I recognized him as House Fly, another Guard. The big one was Golden Scarab, once more, another guard. Dang it! This is like Invasion of the Pony Snatchers, isn't it?!
"Yeah, but noling will tell me what's going on."
Most people don't consider it that, but slang and figures of speech are part of language. When I first talked to a Columbian Griffin I understood cloaca means flank, droppings means horseapples, and buck still means buck unless you're talking to a Deer. Besides, it isn't THAT hard to guess a species called Changelings would use ling, considering replacing pony with your native species seems to be the default. Kinda punny how the world is, isn't it?
"It seems the invasion hit a snag, but we're moving on as scheduled."
"So I just focus on rounding up the cattle, right? Where should I take them?"
Yeah, that ALSO means I knew cattle means 'everything that's not one of us.' Flattering. What do they call actual nonsapient Griffin cattle? Cattle of the cattle?
"Digger Wasp, or Long Haul as you might know him if noling told you, said that we're to get them to safe areas where they can't run until we can set up processing areas, but if you find any ones without a lot of love to eat take them to Kabuto for research... If you have to."
Unfortunately, my talent does not inform me of who the hay they were talking about, but I knew who Long Haul was. He was the chief of security. Dang it! He's one of these guys?! Or got replaced by them or...ugh, which alien invasion story am I in right now?
I also noticed they said 'Kabuto' with disgust. Geez, a guy even the alien invaders seem disgusted with? Not a good sign.
"Alright, I'll get on it faster than a grasshopper eats grass."
Huh, not even a giggle...
Leaving the room with the two, whatever the hay they were, I saw some civilians, Musk Deer, walking around the castle looking scared out of their wits (which is a perfectly realistic way to act, given the circumstances). "I'll get these guys, you two try to just do your jobs, okay?"
Golden Scarab nodded and went off with House Fly to do Celestia knows what.
I walked up to the does. "Are you alright?" I asked, trying to look the part of a sensible, concerned guard instead of screaming 'run for your lives' at the top of my lungs.
"Yes, thank goodness there's a guard...What's going on? The castle's crawling with monsters!"
I nodded. "It appears there's been some kind of attack, please follow me," I said, leading the way till I knew we weren't being watched. "Do you know Roedinian?" I whispered.
"Good, now listen closely. You need to run and hide somewhere with your friends. Do NOT trust the Guard...except me. At least some of them are the monsters. I don't know what's going on, but they're trying to round up the normal creatures...Don't act like you're panicked, try to be calm, alright? Don't let them know you're onto them."
Once they were heading for safety, it was my turn to get like a tree and leaf.
Okay, think...clearly if something is up with the Captain, which obviously it is, the Wedding Hall is probably too dangerous to head for...Now, if the others are still in Canterlot, the only place I can think they'd go is the restaurant to meet up. No one knew we were supposed to meet up but us. Once we were there maybe we could figure out what to do...I hope.
I'm coming, Garnet. Please be okay.
You know, Ah remember when me and AJ were just foals. She'd always keep the grown ups makin' so many apple fritters at the get togethers Ah think everypony lost count! Even for an Apple the girl's got an appetite! So does Heath, actually. And those two rowdy ladies sure are competitive. Those two havin' an eatin' contest is almost a tradition now...Now she's saved the world three times. Dang, things have changed in the two years Ah've been gone...
Hehe...Ah've got a million stories about the family. Ah can't wait for the next Apple Family Reunion tah learn more. Why do Ah learn so many? Because family is what we Apples are all about, and Ah got a good memory. Mah granny says Ah get it from her. That's how Ah kinda became an unofficial storykeeper for the family.
That and mah family is pretty crazy sometimes, hehe. It'd be a shame not tah keep a memory of 'em.
Tah be honest, while Ah was lookin' forwards tah seein' the rest of the squad later, what Ah was really lookin' forwards tah was gettin' some off time tah catch up with mah kin. No offense tah the others (they're mah second family almost), but Ah've had the past two years with 'em, Ah hadn't had many opportunities tah see mah family again. And wouldn't you know it? Four of 'em were right here in Canterlot. Gonna have to stop by and see ah family's farm sometime too as soon as Ah get the chance.
Ah got tah talk with AJ, Applebloom, Apple Fritter, and Peachy Sweet a couple times but all involved were kinda busy. It was odd, last time Ah saw AJ, she said something about 'keep an eye out for green eyed monsters.' Ah don't know, just felt like an odd thing for mah cousin tah say given the circumstances.
Gotta say, Applebloom's got some nice friends. Who'd have thought she'd be friends with old Silver Axe's daughter? Yeah, Ah know 'em a bit. The Riches are family friends of the Apples and he's a family friend of the Riches, Ah met him a couple times when Filthy Rich stopped by some of our reunions.
Anyway, Ah'd actually just got off mah patrol in the middle of the Weddin'. Yeah yeah, Ah know. Mah shifts were pretty odd. Won't let me off for the weddin' but will let mah shift end in the middle of it? Come on!
Oh well. Ah decided Ah'd head back tah the castle tah meet the Captain and AJ as they came outta the weddin' hall. Hope this doesn't turn out like our cousin Sour Apple's weddin'. See her ex-coltfriend got real jealous of her marryin' another guy. So he showed up right when the priest asked if there were any objections. Well long story short Sour Apple threw an apple pie, he threw one back, and the Apples are a rowdy bunch sometimes so one thing lead to another and tons of pies went flying. And Heath and food fight ended up equalin' 'flaming pie'...again. Heath never did attend a weddin' where somethin' didn't get set on fire somehow. In the end Ah arrested Sour's ex and she still got hitched, just covered head tah hoof in apple pie.
As Ah came up tah the castle, Ah noticed some of the guards lookin' like they were doin' a guard change or somethin'. It was kinda odd tah see that many at once. Not 'somethin' ain't right' odd, but still not somethin' you see everyday.
However, the Captain's shield suddenly goin' down out of nowhere? That was 'somethin' ain't right' odd. And then came the scary part.
The Captain's shield spread out. It passed right over me, but Ah saw Princess Luna get sent flyin'! Along with...a lot of the guard...
The Apples might be mah family, but the guard is another family! And now Ah was buckin' worried Ah'd just lost about half of them.
About the only good thin' about it was seein' Luna look like she was tryin' tah rescue them but even then...Ah won't lie, that scared me.
And then it hit me. Somethin' must be goin' on at the castle...Applejack, Apple Fritter, Peachy Sweet, and Applebloom. They were in the castle!
Ah galloped up tah the gates, which weren't as heavily guarded as Ah thought they'd be.
And Ah ran head first inta...
"Gag, what the ha-"
He put a hoof over mah mouth and shushed me.
"Come with me," he said, leadin' me out of the castle. Ah woulda objected (Ah did outrank him), but when Gag ain't jokin', you know somethin' is up and he seemed tah actually know what was goin' on.
Once we were out of sight, he looked tah me. "Long story short, we're being invaded, and right now we're losing."
He shushed me again. Ah got the message. We were being stealthy. "Invaded? By who?" Ah whispered.
"Some kind of monsters called Changelings. I copied their language. I don't know what the hay they are, but right now they're winning. From the looks of it, they took over the castle and are posing as the guards."
Yeah, it sounded crazy. But we'd fought a Nightmare Moon cult and a fear demon, mah cousin and her friends had kicked the flank of three mad gods, and our leader was a weirdness magnet. Ah was reminded of why Ah'd come runnin' tah the castle. "Gag, mah cousins are in there!"
"And so might be Garnet...I hope she is."
"....Gag..." Ah muttered, tryin' tah think of what tah say. What could Ah say? The guy's fiancée tah be could be dead right now...And so could mah teammate.
"...We need some kinda plan," On one hoof, Ah was the Corporal here, but on the other, Gag knew more about the situation than Ah did and had a better track record of quick thinkin' under pressure than me. We're a squad, knowin' when one of us is best for the situation is part of our trainin'.
"...Okay, here's my plan. You go to the restaurant and wait if Thunderchild or Garnet show up or keep watch leave or head for the castle, assuming they're still in the city, and I'll go try to get your cousins and Garnet and regroup with you there."
"What?! But they're mah cousins! And Ah outrank you!"
"I know that, but please, just listen to where I'm coming from, Ellis. Who has a decent amount of stealth skills?"
"Who's capable of speaking their language and can pass for one of them?"
"Look...I know how you feel, but I have a better shot of getting them out of there than you and no offense, but your entire family stinks at lying."
Ah hated tah admit it, but he was right. Applejack's the stubborn as a mule pony...Ah'm only a little stubborn, and mainly when the words 'too much explosives' are involved...And Ah ain't Element of Honesty, but Gag was a much better liar than me. And somepony had tah wait fer Thunderchild and Garnet if they went tah restaurant (which made sense, it was the only place in town right now that only the four of us knew we were supposed tah meet at, and even if they didn't, it had a good view of the castle and the main road so Ah could keep an eye out for them).
"Come on, Ellis, trust me. Remember in Zebrafrica with the Fear Demon?"
He'd been serious then...he'd pulled through for us then big time. He'd shown us we could count on 'me when the chips were down.
"...Alright, Gag...Ah trust you."
He nodded and gave a kind smile. "Don't worry, I'll be back faster than you can say 'he's back'."
Ugh. Ah face hoofed. Then we went our separate ways, me hoping he'd come back with mah family and our friends.
Cousins...please be alright until Gag can rescue you...Garnet, Thunderchild, Captain...What happened to you?
I had a lot of reasons to keep my eyes on the sundial. First off, me and the others would be meeting up as soon as our shifts were over for the first time in weeks. I mean I was having a good time checking out the view (Wonderbolts were evidently having some role in the wedding, and I could see them practicing from here...wingspan and all), but I missed seeing the others. It was bad enough I was missing my best friend's wedding, but it was like the brass was trying to keep us apart. Not to mention I hadn't been able play my lightning guitar in weeks with my schedule so screwed up. And no, it isn't just noise! I've spent a long time practicing that thing. I can see it now 'Retired Guard Now Rock Legend Thunderchild', just kidding! I'm not that obsessed with it, just get tired of creatures thinking its just noise. Garnet said it's something to do with Griffins and Pegasi' ears being made to take louder noises due to the speeds we can fly at but personally, I think it sounds cool.
But that wasn't the only reason. She was here.
Fluttershy was in Canterlot. Yeah, I know how the Captain and Cadence feel about me and her...but I really think I'm in love. I 'window shop,' a lot, but she's the only girl I've ever really thought about being serious with. This could be my only chance to actually meet her for awhile and I was going to take it...It was weird, I was never nervous about talking to girls, but right now? I had butterflies in my stomach thinking about finally meeting her face to face...I wonder what she thinks of guitar solos...
Unfortunately for me, was at the castle...and I was most decidedly not. I'd tried to get duty at the wedding itself so I could at least get to see Shining and the Princess tie the knot...no such luck. Ellis was the only one who'd gotten off during the wedding itself, but even he got out in the middle of it. Seemed like we were having luck as rotten as Gag's jokes when it came to assignments lately. Come to think about it, it seemed the brass was making a lot of choices I don't really agree with recently. I don't know if it is the Princesses or the higher ups in the military, but they seem to have their wires crossed or something. I brought it up to the Captain and he said he'd take care of it though. I trust him, I just hope they'll listen to common sense.
In fact, I'd ended up being put halfway across the city. Well, as close to isolated as Canterlot ever got.
"Carpenter Bee?" I asked, looking back at the only other Harmony Guard here.
"Any sign of this threat we're supposed to be on the look out for?"
He shook his head. "No Sarge, everything is going exactly as it should."
I sighed. No, I didn't wish it'd been otherwise, I might be a bit impulsive, but I'm not stupid (even if everypony seems to forget I have a degree!).
Of course he had his brother Killer Bee here with him. Lucky fellow. I didn't know any of the other ponies here at all really, except Carpenter and this unicorn named Weaver. A Lance Corporal if I remember right...
Speaking of which, she seemed nervous for some reason. That wasn't like her, she was a tomcolt most of the time. "You alright, Lance-Corporal?"
She nodded slowly. "I...I think. Just...I can't help being a bit on edge with this whole 'unknown threat' thing..."
It was easy to forget sometimes that not everypony had gone against fear demons and Nightmare Moon Cultists when your boss attracts weird stuff like Gag does bad jokes.
Even with Discord and Nightmare Moon, most of these guards had never seen a real conflict. Let me rephrase that. Most of them had never seen an actual war. There was peacekeeping, there was taking down criminals. There were the Article 1954 events like that Tartarus demon and its cult the guard helped the Princesses beat while we were on the world tour. But they'd never seen an actual war as in 'two countries trying to kill each other.' And to be honest? I think it's better that way. I might be willing and able to kick flank, but I don't ever want to have to pull the trigger on another pony. I know Audience is trained to as a last resort, but even he feels the same way.
Hope the guy isn't too bored right now without us. It just felt wrong one of us being that far away.
"I gotcha," I told her. I was the superior here. If I had to be hard on them, I was hard on them. If I had to be reasonable, I'd be reasonable. And right now, being reasonable was what she needed.
She nodded slowly. "Y-Yes Staff..."
"Don't worry, Princess Cadence spent two years trying to keep things peaceful and Equestria has plenty of allies.
Suddenly, I noticed the shield going down around Canterlot. "What the buck?"
Okay, I knew the Captain. I'd been with him the longest out of any of us (Audience knew him longer, but Shining had been in the academy a decade before Audience enlisted, so there was a big gap between them I didn't have with Shining). And I knew one thing: there was a better chance of him passing out or dying than him lowering that shield of his if there was something inside it he thought needed protected. Something wasn't right.
The shield flew back up, throwing Princess Luna and guards away in its wake.
I did the only thing I could think of and jumped in front of Weaver (the pony closest to me) and used myself as a shield, hoping to take some of the impact for her.
I didn't need to, the shield just passed over most of us, but some of the guards got sent flying clear out of the city.
I flew out and tried to at least help, but they were already out of range before I could go after them! Clop it!
"What the hay just happened?!" I demanded as I flew back into the room.
Seriously, what the hay?!...Take a deep breath, Thunderchild, you're in charge right now, keep your head. Now you need to be serious. Luna looked like she was pulling the guards towards her, so maybe she'll keep them safe...I hope...
Carpenter's radio came alive. Dang things were still way too big for my liking, but still dang they were useful...wait, I had a radio, why was he getting called?
"Yes, we're all still here...Thunderchild too...All right, I'll handle it..."
He looked up at me. "Sergeant, we're to hold our positions and continue as we were doing, there's been an attack."
"Hold our positions?!"
"Her Majesty's orders, sarge."
I grumbled. If there'd been an attack, holding our position made sense if they weren't sure about the specifics...but everypony....were the others okay? And yes, I was worried about Fluttershy. She was in the castle!...So were Garnet, Gag, Shining, and Cadence...
"Fine...let me know if anything changes, understood?" I ordered. Yes, Thunderchild is being serious. Of everypony in the room right now, I was the highest ranked during an emergency situation! I HAVE to be serious for their sake.
But the truth? I was scared out of my wits. I was worried to death about my friends, my fellow guards, and about my hopefully future fillyfriend. I didn't want to follow these orders. But I knew they made the most sense in this situation.
Carpenter nodded and I looked out in the direction the ponies had been thrown. I hoped they were okay...Princess Luna, please save them.
Had the others been thrown out? I hadn't been so maybe they weren't either...And...why had it been Shining's shield that did it? That was what scared me. Shining would rather die than hurt the guard...what was going on-
"Sergeant! Hit the deck!" yelled Weaver.
I hit the floor just in time to avoid a beam shot right at my back.
"What the hay?!"
Carpenter snarled. "Mavi! She's not one of us!" he yelled, glaring at Weaver.
What. The. Hay?!
=Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne OST Tokyo Conception=
"Carpenter Bee?! What are you doing?!"
He growled. "I'm sorry. We could've done this the quick, painless way, Thunderchild Sarge. Her Majesty wanted you subdued, 'Gifted Pegasus'. She said you had a habit of being a wrench in well laid plans Sarge."
Ugh...why did it feel like my heart was trying to remember something my brain didn't know?
Weaver jumped to my side, looking scared half to death...and maybe a little guilty.
Me? I felt like he'd just stabbed me in the back. Oh, right, he'd tried to! My own bucking friend just tried to take me out!
"You're in Misfit! I trusted you!"
"...I was never a part of the Misfit Platoon, I was a spy Sarge. Her Majesty wanted to learn about Princess Cadence and Captain Shining Armor. That was my job Sarge. This was never personal. I'm sorry, Thunderchild."
"You bucking stabbed me in the back! That's pretty personal!"
"It's my bucking duty!"
I got ready to pull my sword.
Suddenly, the guards looked around and saw we were alone before they burst into green fire and...Oh crud...
Now I was surrounded by a bunch of big black bug ponies!
"What are you?!"
Weaver looked like she'd seen a ghost, I stayed close to her trying to reassure her. She was my only back up right now.
"We're Changelings...and you're cattle," Killer Bee replied.
Aliens. Magic monsters? I don't know. I didn't care. All I knew was my friends were in trouble, monsters were attacking the city, and I'd just gotten stabbed in the back by a TEAMMATE. To say I was in a bad mood is an understatement!
Carpenter looked at me when I got ready to charge him, sad almost. "Hey Thunderchild? There is another option...Wanna be upgraded? I'm actually take a risk with Her Majesty just give you the offer."
"Want to be like us? Become a Changeling? Please?"
"And betray Equestria? No bucking way!"
"We're about to BE Equestria! We're still serving our Kingdom!"
"If it's an Equestria that means you have to stab a friend in the back to make happen, I want none of it!"
"...Fine. So be it," he said, charging up a green energy beam, I took a combat stance and pulled my sword. "Don't say I wasn't nice Sarge!"
=Cody Rhodes WWE Theme Smoke & Mirrors (V2) Lyrics=
He fired at me, and I dodged it. The carpet they were standing on glowed orange and Weaver pulled it out under them with her telekinesis and then blinded two of them with it.
I took advantage and gave them a buck to the head as hard as I could. Lethal force was always a last resort, if I didn't have to kill them, I wouldn't.
Thankfully that knocked them out, but Killer Bee jumped at me from behind. Weaver grabbed him from behind with her telekinesis, holding him by the tail. At least that's one pony in the room I can trust.
While she held him back, I spun around, using pegasus magic to generate a small cloud into my hoof and threw it down, causing it to detonate and send lightning flying, giving them a good shock, kicking them when I landed while they were still stunned. I think me being able to make a lightning grenade that quickly surprised them, most pegasi take a lot longer.
I don't think they were planning to actually fight me, or maybe the whole 'calling you a gifted Pegasus is being polite' horseapples was actually helping me right now.
Carpenter dodged though and came at me with a sword of his own, I blocked and noticed that he was using the dull side of the sword. He was trying to take me alive. "Thunderchild, I have a confession to make Sarge."
"That you're a dirty rotten traitor?!" I asked, blocking a slash and throwing one of my own. He caught my wrist and flipped me over him. I managed to catch myself and land on my hooves and tried to leg sweep him, but he flew up and evaded it, making me dodge a flying buck.
We locked blades and both tried a disarming manuever at the same time, sending both our swords out of our grasps and straight out the window. We started with hoof to hoof combat.
"No Sarge. I was in my homeland's military before I ever joined the guard."
He wasn't lying, we exchanged blows and he was pretty good. He shot a series of energy beams at me, managing to singe my feathers a little but I could tell they were nonlethal from the slight numbness they left, I threw another lightning bomb at him, but he managed to blast it out of the air with another beam (no, it didn't explode it's a cloud...why did I think it would?). I tried to catch a punch and twist him into a hammerlock, but he twisted out of it before I could get the leverage and elbowed me in the face. I ducked the kick he threw and headbutted him in the chest, driving him back. We charged and again, finally locking each other's forelegs and pushed against each other.
"You're good Sarge, but I've still got some tricks up my sleeves."
Then he burst into green flames and turned into me. It took me off guard and let him headbutt me, then drive me into the wall, holding his horn to my neck.
"...I have a confession too, Carpenter Bee."
"I wasn't just bragging about being a Gifted Pegasus!" I yelled, spreading my wings and doing something most Pegasi couldn't, generate a lot of lightning without a cloud, making him back up a little bit...then doing something so dangerous most Pegasi wouldn't even attempt it. Channel it through myself and grabbing his horn with my hooves.
Carpenter lit up like a Hearth's Warming Tree and screamed in pain as I shocked him. And no, I didn't use enough to kill him...I don't think ponies ought to treat me different for being a Gifted Pegasus, I'm not like that, but I know how the Captain, Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, (don't forget, I was a guard with Shining when Twilight was in school and the guy's my best friend, and I read those articles about Rainbow) and a lot of Gifted Ponies felt. I might not be on those three's level, but I'm still a Gifted Pegasus for a reason. Ponies were AFRAID of what I could do if I wanted to. I know I could fry ponies if I wanted to. Ponies expected ponies with a lot of power to be dangerous. ...so why would I do what they expected me to unless I really had to and had no other choice?
"And stop calling me Sarge!"
Carpenter shot backwards when I let go and slammed into the wall, falling to the ground, twitching from the volts I'd pumped into him. Green flames washed over him and he turned back to what I guessed was his true form.
"I'm sorry . . . the sun, I just wanted to . . feel the sun, in my own-" Then out like a light.
"Bro!" yelled Killer Bee, having been overpowering Weaver when he saw his brother go down. Weaver, luckily, was still a guard, and proceeded to kick him in the gut so hard she knocked the wind out of him while he was distracted. Then headbutt him with her helmet on, knocking him out cold.
"You alright Staff?" she asked, panting, and looking a bit roughed up.
"Yeah...other than having a friend just stab me in the back..." I replied, checking pulses and applying cuffs and magic suppressors to our captives. I also did a search but they were mostly naked, it seemed their armor was natural. I tagged them as well.
"I'm sorry, Staff..."
"...It's alright. I'm just glad we managed to take out a hit squad sent after me," I muttered.
"...What do we do, Staff Sergeant?" she asked, looking so scared. Like the boogiemare was at the door. Given what had just happened to us, I couldn't blame her.
I gave it thought, between us I was the superior, I needed to think things out...I looked out the window at the castle. I picked up Carpenter's radio and checked the frequency. "Clop it!"
"What's wrong, sarge?"
"This frequency...His orders came from the communications room."
"What? But that means..."
"The communications room is compromised, possibly under enemy control. We should maintain radio silence for now, at least for now. The rest of my squad has be around here somewhere if they didn't get thrown out, we should regroup with them...But these guys tried to come after me..."
"...Why not pretend to be Carpenter Bee if anypony questions it, Staff?" she asked, nodding .
I blinked. "What?"
"He was sent to take subdue you, why not pretend to be him and say 'Her Majesty ordered me to'? After all, he did say he was an experienced soldier in their homeland."
"That's a good idea, Lance-Corporal...speaking of which, let's make sure these guys can't blow my cover."
A few moments later we'd locked the unconscious and restrained Changelings where nopony would find them. Well, for a good long while.
Technically, I could execute them as spies by international law, but this was Equestria. We didn't believe in executing helpless enemies. Or really execution in general. There was also the matter of their being certain magic spells and charms that make executing somecreature a bad idea. So not only is it what we Equestrians view as ethical, it has some practicality. By our standards, they counted as EPW (Enemy Prisoners of War).
"Staff, my brothers might still be here, they might be able to help."
Considering my first inclination was to see if the others were still okay. I couldn't deny her that. And depending on how many guards were still around, we needed all the help we could get.
"Think you can manage to find them without being seen?"
"Yes Staff. These things didn't recognize I wasn't one of them until I shouted for you, I think they don't know for sure who's a guard and who's one of them and assumed because I didn't get thrown out I was one. I think I can play the part."
I gave a slow nod. Hopefully that'd help me too... "Alright."
"Where should we meet up sarge?"
I thought about it...where would the others go if they were still here? That only we know?
"...Know that restaurant near the castle?"
"Get your brothers and meet me there. Hopefully my friends will be there too..."
It was the only place that made any sense. There wasn't anywhere else only the four of us would know the others knew to meet. Besides, it wasn't an obvious place anyway and me and her brothers could meet up there.
Weaver nodded. "Alright. Good luck Staff...please be careful," she said, saluting.
"Same to you, Lance Corporal."
So we parted ways and it seemed like she was right about these things...I just hope the others are there to meet up with. And I hope Fluttershy and the Captain are alright. Cadence too...
...Gosh darn it, Shining! Can't you just get married without some freaky thing happening?!
"Garnet?!" I heard. My heart jumped in my chest.
"Gag?" I asked, turning to see him as I did my best to sneak out of the castle. He had Ellis' cousins with him, who looked scared out of their wits. Considering it was an monster invasion, I couldn't blame them.
"Is that really you?"
"The one and only...well, there's my brother and sister, but they're not here...and also my mom...and my dad...and half my family...but I'm the only on here, so yeah, it's Gag," he said with that 'come on, laugh, I'm funny' look of his.
Okay, only Gag could consider that a joke.
We both looked around quietly and found we were alone other than the Apples. Then kissed and nuzzled. "I was worried I'd never see you again..." I muttered. Yes, the big strong Royal Guard was worried sick. So did Gag. We both thought the other was dead!
"So did I..."
"Now come on, we've got another reunion to get to," Gag remarked after a moment. "I found Ellis, come on."
Ah won't lie, there ain't words tah describe how it felt seein' mah cousins safe and sound: Apple Fritter, Peachy Sweet. Gag had tah fool his way past a lot of Changelings tah get 'em back tah me, Ah owe him big time...
We hugged, we cried. We did all the stuff scared sick family does when it sees itself again. Though we also had tah hide a bit so the bugs didn't spot us.
"...Gag...where's AJ and Applebloom?"
Gag frowned. "I'm...I'm sorry, Ellis, I couldn't find them. The Wedding Hall is the Queen of these things' throne room right now, I couldn't get near it...I'm sorry..."
"...Nah...you did the best you could...at least two of mah kin are alright...And so is Garnet."
Yeah, Ah was upset, but not at Gag...he got two of mah cousins outta there, Ah ain't lookin' a gift horse in the mouth...
He and Garnet got close tah each other. They really do make a cute couple.
"Alright, everypony, let's figure out what we need tah do," Ah replied. Ah was the senior NCO here, Ah had tah take charge.
"I think the best idea might be to find-" Garnet started.
We turned as Thunderchild, bein' Thunderchild, made a big entrance by standin' at the door (tah avoid being spotted, we'd hid inside the restaurant instead of outside it).
Ah wish we'd just hugged him, but while the three of us had reason tah trust each other, we didn't quite know bout him.
"...Sarge, not tah sound ungrateful tah see you, but..." Ah started, decidin' the Apple Family Honesty should kick things off.
"I gotcha," he said, spreading his wings and causing them tah crackle with lightnin', which he sent off and managed tah guide past all of us tah hit a dartboard behind us dead center.
We all smiled. "That's Thunderchild alright," Garnet said with a sigh of relief.
We group hugged. We'd been worried sick about each other! Forget protocol for a minute! We're a band of brothers reunited!...And one sister...Dang! Now Ah sound like Gag!
Only way it coulda been better is if the Captain and Audience were here...but then again, given the circumstances, maybe Audience was the lucky one tah be out of dodge. Ah know he'd be more willin' tah kill, but that doesn't mean we wanted him in a position where he'd have to.
...Then came the big downer question.
"...What about the Captain?" Ah asked.
"...I don't know...but considering his shield is up, sent the Princess flying along with a bunch of guards, but these bugs are running around, it probably isn't good," Running said sadly.
"...So...we're stuck alone in a bug infested Canterlot?" Garnet asked, sounding a bit worried. Which meant inside she was probably real worried.
"...Looks like it...And doubt that there's going tah be any reinforcements, given how thick the Captain's shield is," Ah pointed out.
"And radios aren't a good idea either, the communications room is compromised," Thunderchild explained. He then got serious. "...Well, I know one thing. We need to get back inside the castle and figure out what's going on...and maybe see if we can do something about it."
Thunderchild is a lot of things...but a coward ain't one of 'em. And neither is an idiot. That and he was the senior NCO, so unless he did something real crazy, he was in charge with the Captain not here..
"...Agreed..." Ah replied. We all nodded. "And Ah wanna find out of mah other cousins are alright..."
Garnet nodded. "...We're guards. No reason to stop now."
Running nodded. "Have a better chance of a zebra changing it stripes..."
Thunderchild gave a nod of his own, and smile. "And we're actually not alone."
Soon enough, Weaver, Bombardier, and Diver showed up. Thunderchild said we could trust them cause Weaver saved his flank from Carpenter Bee and his lackeys...but Ah won't lie, Ah kept an eye on them.
"... Staff," said Diver. "Those Guards that got thrown...do you think they and Luna are okay?"
None of us really knew the answer tah that. "Ah saw the Princess pullin' 'em close tah her as they got thrown...we can hope she saved 'em."
Thunderchild nodded. "I saw it too."
Garnet looked thoughtful. "Luna's an Alicorn...we can only hope she did it."
We all nodded, and prayed.
"...So, what do we have as far as weapons?" Weaver asked after our moment of quiet prayer, seriously.
Gag and Thunderchild had a sword, a crossbow, and two guard batons between them, but Thunderchild had lost his sword in the fight with Carpenter (it'd gotten sent out the window), Gag still had his and gave it to Thunderchild (sarge was the better fighter). Weaver, Diver, and Bombardier all had theirs as well. We also had some stun granades, stinkbombs, and a few flash bangs. Ah'd been unarmed cause Ah'd just left duty and Garnet only had a knife she said wouldn't work very well on the bugs.
"I also grabbed these," Garnet said, takin' a bunch of needles out of her saddlebags. "They'll put them to sleep for awhile, plus the points can fit through the chinks in their armor."
"No offense, Garnet, it's better than nothing, but it doesn't sound like a very sharp idea for you and Ellis to go after an army with just some needles...get it? Sharp needles?"
We groaned. But Gag was right.
"We also need to get some more weapons," Garnet said. "We don't know the entire situation yet, we need options. And I took a look at the two I knocked out: they have some tough natural body armor that's very resistant to damage, maybe some nonlethal weapons will be more effective on them than lethal ones, since most of them don't rely on penetrating armor. And while it won't break the exoskeleton, they don't seem to handle blunt force nearly as well as blades."
"And the armories will be crawling with these things," Corporal Bombardier, an Earth Pony, pointed out.
"Well, we can make some good improvised weapons out of the stuff in this place," Ah pointed out, gettin' tah work with the stuff around us. Ah remembered what Garnet said about blunt force. And also, had an idea of how to make some improvised explosives. Not enough stuff tah make a cider still mass driver though, wonder if Shining ever told that story tah anypony.
"That's good, but we still might need some more," Thunderchild said and tapped his chin...then got a confident smirk. "I think I know a place we can pick up some gear they'll never see coming..."