(Interviewer's Notes (Dawn): The following events took place with Captain Cherry Coke right after he and his group separated from Princess Cadence's group!)
We ran. Of COURSE we ran. Sure, we had a much smaller group behind us thanks to that unicorn's illusions, but we had two wounded and we didn't know WHAT these things could do. Oh right! Cherry Coke reporting!
"Dang it! Dead end!" Note Worthy exclaimed. Blueblood had been leading the way fairly well, but there was only so much hallway in the palace and naturally some ideal paths had been out of the question.
"We need to fight, Cherry," Caramel replied.
Blueblood gingerly set down his girl and got ready to fight. Was I worried about him? A bit. But this WAS the guy who put a jerkflank of a reporter in the hospital for crossing the line talking about his aunt. And we needed every set of hooves we could get.
The bugs came right at us...and then a little cloud landed in front of them, sparking with lightning.
"Hit the deck!" I called, us all doing just that as it went off, shocking the bugs bad.
It didn't knock them out, but getting blindsided from behind by a pegasus' guard baton I hadn't noticed was there a second ago took out some of them. Another got what looked like a tranquilizer to the neck that put him to sleep in a couple minutes as he tried to defend himself. Another ended up bucked into the wall next to me and knocked out cold with some kind of improvised club.
"Captain Coke? That you?" asked a familiar voice.
"Sergeant Thunderchild?!" I asked, blinking as a pegasus flew down in front of me.
"Ellis? Garnet? Gag?" Caramel asked.
"Good to see you, sir," called another voice. Three more guards walked out of the shadows, taking the rear and keeping an eye out for the others. One was a unicorn mare, the other two were stallions, one an Earth Pony the other a Pegasus.
They were also guarding two ponies, I think Ellis' cousins...Apple Fritter and Peachy Sweet if I remember right.
"Bombardier? Weaver? Diver?" I asked, blinking. "Thank Celestia, I thought we were on our own!"
"Wait..." said Banjo, getting up on his three good legs. "How do we know you're you and not the bugs?"
"Gag, do you mind telling a joke?" Garnet asked.
I'm not repeating the joke. Believe me, you don't WANT to hear it...I don't even know why he thought the image of Queen Tiamat in the shower would be funny...
"Okay, only Gag could tell a joke like THAT," Banjo said after the groaning was over. "You're him."
"We're just going to trust you're you because you were being chased by a bunch of these things," Thunderchild remarked. Logical assumption.
"...Are those Griffin War era crossbows?" Note Worthy asked, looking at the weapons some of the group were carrying. the Earth Ponies had what looked like makeshifted blowguns.
Crossbows generally weren't the best weapons for Pegasi and Earth Ponies. We had ways of using them, and pegasi had their wings to pull the trigger, but they were really best for unicorns. The blowgun was a better choice for Earth Ponies if there wasn't an alternative (and given our situation, we'd take what we could get), and since the guard dealt with controlling Equestria's resident monster population, knowing how to use one was taught in basic.
I was feeling like we were at the start of a roleplay campaign when you're just grabbing whatever weapons you can find in chests...You heard nothing.
"Replicas, technically. Thunderchild's idea, said he saw it in a play," Bombardier replied. "We realized these things would be guarding the armories and needed, so we went to the museum and broke some out of storage."
"And it helps that most of the Guard being...missing in action means that it was more or less unguarded and empty. The creatures don't seem to care about our history too much," Weaver said, dipping her head slightly as she put the crossbow down. I always thought it was interesting her magic was almost the same color as Celestia's. "I'm sorry all this happened..."
"Hey, you couldn't have done anything," Garnet replied, putting a hoof on her shoulder.
"Doesn't mean I can't wish I could have..."
I noticed the other two seemed to feel the same, but now wasn't exactly a good time to talk.
"Alright," I said, taking charge as was expected of the senior line officer present. "Let's find somewhere to hunker down and think things out before more bugs come a calling. Move out!"
"What?!" yelled Apple Fritter and Peachy Sweet after we finally had some breathing room between us and the bugs and we filled Misfit and company in on what happened in the wedding hall. We were currently hunkering down in the catacombs with our prisoners restrained nearby, still out cold. We'd chosen the catacombs because according to Lance-Corporal Gag, the Changelings had already searched there and seemed to have little interest in it in general.
Ellis remained controlled, but I noticed for the first time since I'd known him he seemed dead serious, one of his hooves shaking. Ellis was a nice guy, he loved to tell stories. It was frightening to see him this serious. But given our situation, it was probably in our favor.
"She messed with mah family, an Apple ain't takin' that sittin' down..." he muttered, venom in his tone. Garnet put a hoof on his back before heading to tending to our wounds, particularly Arcane's, which were the most serious.
"We won't, I promise Ellis," Thunderchild said. "But this isn't revenge, got it?"
I nodded. "The important thing is stopping the Queen."
Ellis nodded. "Ah know, Sarge, Captain, don't worry, Ah just got a little extra motivation than normal."
I trusted him. Ellis had been through more action on that world tour than most Guards normally saw.
They were also all pretty upset that Shining was under Chrysalis' control. From what Shining had said, Misfit Actual was tight knit and close.
"We'll save the Captain...no way we're losing him," Thunderchild said, the others nodded, but all of them looked pretty worried.
I remembered hearing from Shining about Ranger and Sunset's deaths, they'd already lost somepony. And being in the catacombs, that couldn't have helped. I didn't blame them for being determined to save him. Heck, I was his friend, I was too. And I'm related to the Apples, so that got me riled up a bit.
"Alright, so what intel do you seven have?" I asked, this having been our first chance to exchange information since we met up.
Garnet looked over from her work. "Their natural armor reacts to impact, which makes it resistant to bladed weapons, but blunt weapons like guard batons are still effective," she explained, then showed the darts they'd been using. From the looks of it, they'd had to juryrig them. "Arrows could maybe pierce it, but these needles are thin enough not to set it off if shot in the right stop, and they're vulnerable to tranquilizers. They're also predatory from the looks of it, and a needle spills less blood than an arrow or sword."
Got it, the predators might smell the blood if we spilled a lot of it and get the whole swarm on us, which we decidedly didn't need in the situation we were in. I didn't even think to ask about poison. Garnet was a medic and her talent was healing, using what she knew to take a life? Turning her cutie mark in the opposite direction it's supposed to go? I couldn't ask her to do that. And from a logical stand point, asking somepony to use their Cutie Mark in a way they considered morally wrong was known cause severe psychological and mental stress, and she was probably under enough of that as it.
Besides, we're ponies, killing a living thing was something we didn't want to do if we could help it.
"Sir, that's not the only reason," Thunderchild explained. "Like you said and Lance-Corporal Gag told us, they're using brainwashed civilians, and it's hard to tell who's a bug and who's a hostage they brainzapped. Using tranqs means we don't have to worry as much about accidentally killing a hostage."
"Considering how the Queen used Twilight and her brainwashed friends at the wedding, that's probably a good idea," I stated, giving a growl. Lethal force was always a last resort, so if nonlethal worked, I wasn't going to argue.
We had actual crossbow bolts and some explosives weapons too, just in case we needed them. I figured if we had to fight the Queen, we'd need as heavy artillery as we could get our hooves on. But that said I wasn't about to order my troops to fight something that had taken a hit from Princess Celestia and lived without an Alicorn behind us.
In addition to conventional weapons, Misfit also had a lot of improvised weapons they'd made at the restaurant they'd met up at.
We still hadn't been able to figure out why Shining's shield had left us behind but thrown everyone else out. We could only guess it missed us since the Queen clearly hadn't intended to do it.
"We need to think of a plan," I said, the only line officer present and thus in charge. Okay, technically Prince Blueblood was the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Commodore-in-Chief, but that's an appointment, not a rank, and he didn't know cavalry tactics. Staff Sergeant Thunderchild was in charge of Misfit in Shining's absence, but I still outranked him. Still, considering he had more field experience than me, I wasn't about to discount what he had to say. "The remaining Bearers and Princess Cadence escaped, so there's that, but we need to try and do something. They can't do this alone."
"I might have a target, sir," Gag said, ducking into the room.
"What is it, Lance-Corporal?"
"One of the Changelings I talked to said Long Haul is one of them," the pegasus said, causing my group to gasp. He hadn't had time to point it out on the way over while we were trying not to get spotted. It made sense, but it just made us feel...betrayed. One of us had been a Changeling? "Or was replaced by one, didn't say. His real name is Digger Wasp. Guess with a name like that he just had to be a mole."
Ugh...Life and death situations do not make Gag's jokes any better. I couldn't tell whether he was trying to lighten our mood or his.
"I bet ya he's one of the head honchos," Diver said, with the child-like excitement the guy had. He was a good guard, but sometimes seemed a bit like a big kid. "After all, why wouldn't they put one of their big guys in such a high position?"
"I think we heard Queen Chrysalis tell Spike to send a letter to him too," Caramel pointed out. "So you're probably right."
"He's normally in the communications room, right?" asked Ellis, still in his serious mode. "Takin' him down might not be such a bad idea." Gag nodded in agreement.
"The Corporal has a point, sir," Thunderchild pointed out. "Even if he's not there, if we took the communications room, we could maybe send an SOS with the equipment."
"Not to mention they're probably using the equipment for their army," said Weaver. "So taking the communications room would probably throw a big fat wrench in their works."
"And we could potentially capture a high ranking member of the enemy," I pointed out, after giving it thought. "Might be able to get some information out of him, even if we can't, we'll take off one of the hydra's heads and cauterize it. It sounds about as good of an idea as anything else. If nothing else it'd help the Princess and the Bearers evade the Changelings."
"Can we get there from here?" asked Garnet.
"Yeah, but the place is crawling with bugs," Banjo stated.
Prince Blueblood cleared his throat. "I could perhaps help with that," he stated. "I know this palace like the back of my hoof, including all the...short cuts. I'm certain I can lead us there as covertly as possible."
"Normally, I'd ignore you, but given you're the only reason we're able to strike back period, we'll have to take your word for it," I replied.
Judging by Gag's expression, the irony that Prince Blueblood had been the big hero wasn't lost on him.
Today has been the craziest day of my life. I found out Prince Blueblood has a fillyfriend and saved us all!...Oh, and there are bug ponies trying to take over the world. But given the Captain's luck, that's pretty normal.
Still, if Garnet could fall for me, I guess love can be crazy like that. Congrats Blueblood.
"And the Changelings don't seem to know who's a Changeling and who's not," Weaver explained. "So if we play our cards right, we might be able to get there without anyone noticing us."
"...Alright, it's not a great plan, but it's the only one we got. Let's get started."
(Interviewer's Notes (Dusk): The following events happen immediately prior to the liberation of Twilight Sparkle by Trixie and Cadence, with Corporal Ellis Bitter Apple and were auto-recorded by our notes.)
Forgive me if Ah'm not in the mood for stories right now.
Ah ain't gonna lie. Ah'm royally clopped off. That witch got her claws in my family and I don't know where mah little cousin is. The Queen brainwashed Shining. She hurt both my families, and you know how serious the Apples take family...
And I don't buckin' like lyin' and sayin' we're Changelings to sneak past all these bugs. Apples just don't like lyin' period... AJ... at least Ah'm having to CHOOSE to lie... please be alright, cousin... Ah hope little Applebloom is alright wherever she is too. And Ah hope the Captain isn't sufferin' too bad.
But Ah'm a guard. Lettin' my anger blind me is something I'm trained not to do. Ah'm just gonna use it to motivate me. Ah'm not gonna endanger the mission just to save her, but I ain't gonna pass up an opportunity to save them if I see it.
Ah'm glad we met up with Weaver and her brothers and Cherry Coke's group. Made me feel less alone. Cherry's actually related tah the Apples, so that's a small comfort.
And yeah, those three are siblings, weird ain't it? But who am Ah tah judge? Their family just probably has a ton of mixed blood. Don't know them too well, but dang they're dedicated to provin' themselves, gotta respect that. Still, Bombardier is a bit of an odd ball. He's into some girly stuff and seems more interested in stallions than mares, but to each their own.
Can't believe Blueblood's the one we owe for us bein' able to counterattack period, or he's got a steady fillyfriend. A lot can change in a few years I guess.
Now he's the one guidin' us to the communications room. Long Haul...Ah can't believe he was a Changelin'. Ah knew the guy, it feels like I got stabbed in the back. Same with Carpenter Bee. He was a part of the Harmony Guard, one of us. It felt rotten to know he betrayed us.
Weaver snarled when I brought it up.
"Taking an oath to somepony you didn't know was rotten at the time and breaking it later for that reason? I can understand that, I can respect that. But taking an oath you KNEW you're going to break just so you can stab innocent ponies in the back? It makes me sick."
In fact, those three seemed to take the bugs' infiltration so personally. Ah think we all did, but...eh, what you gonna do?
We left Noteworthy, Caramel, and mah cousins were back watchin' the captives. Mah cousins? We needed as many hooves as we could spare to take the communications room, but needed some back to watch our captives and wounded, so Captain Coke deputized them. They were Apples, farm work builds strength. They might not have combat training but they could at least help watch some tied up and drugged up bugs.
On the way, Blueblood found the room his fillyfriend's little sis was in. Ugh...Ah've fought a fear demon and a Nightmare Moon cult, and whatever some psycho did to the poor girl is just plain sick. Sadly, Garnet said in her condition we couldn't move her with what we had...but at least she was stable for now and Garnet was able to stock up on more tranquillizer.
Finally we got to the communications room. We'd had a good bit of time to plan and figured out most of the specifics. Quick ambush took out the guards outside without making a sound, then Gag used the stealth skills he'd picked up tah sneak up to the door and check it over, checking the door knob quietly, and running a hoof along the frame, especially above and below it. Then he knocked and said something in the bugs' language. He gave a nod and trotted back, giving us the signal the door was locked up and Digger was present.
"Bitter Apple, Bombardier, knock on the door," Captain Coke ordered. Ugh, I forgot not everypony knew Ah don't like just bein' called Bitter Apple, but he's a superior, and it's about time I paid these bugs back a bit for what they did tah my family and the Captain... Uh, Shining, not Coke. Cherry Coke's a captain, but Shining's THE captain.
Me and Bombardier approached the door to prep for a dynamic entry. Weaver kept her crossbow trained on the door, bein' our only unicorn. The others were either covering the rear or looking out against the wall to keep watch.
Dynamic entry was a tactic where you breach a door and then rush in hot while the enemy was taken off guard, hopefully subduing them before they can recover. Explosives weren't the only way (SAS had a lot of ways, includin' a special hammer for it), but it was the only option we had given the circumstances. The door was too sturdy to kick down and we lacked any other equipment. The point was to get in, then hit the target as fast and hard as we could before they could even react.
Me and Bombardier had had to juryrig the explosives, but I know mah bombs and Bombardier is his platoon's explosives expert. It was a tad risky to the hostages if there were any, but it was the only way we could get in and we'd done our best to make the bomb just strong enough for what we needed. Ah'd have preferred what's called a 'frame charge,' a special bomb that directed the explosion forwards, or had the Captain use his shields for that, but I had to make do with what we had and more or less improvise one. We all had multiple crossbows (another reason we'd raided the museum, we needed more than one ready because we wouldn't have time to reload while trying to take out an entire room in the time we had) or blowguns ready to fire one after another.
We'd checked the area for hostiles before hoof and I'd done the best Ah could tah minimize the sound. Thankfully, it seemed most of the Changelings were focused on finding the Princess and the Bearers or stopping them entering the castle than a squad inside it.
We got in position, Thunderchild had a special lightning grenade ready to go. Cherry counted down silently with hoof signals. When he reached zero, Ah set off the bomb and down went the door, Long Haul screamin' (guess he got caught in the blast, didn't have time to worry).
"Go go go!" yelled Cherry. We rushed in weapons ready. The unicorn workers (the ones who didn't get launched) were all brain zapped, so we shot them with tranqs real quick, but Digger Wasp dodged when we tried tah hit him despite seemin' beat up from the blast. We took down a few of the guards too as Thunderchild threw his lightning bomb, the lightning blast disrupting the radios so they couldn't report the attack and shocking some others enough so we could take them out.
Any bugs that were nearby we knocked out with guard batons or the improvised clubs we'd made.
"What are you doing?" Digger asked. He'd always been a calculating guy and sounded it too. Tough too, considering he was still dodging the shots we sent at him. "This is treachery."
"From where we're standing, you're the traitor, Digger Wasp," Weaver spat like his name was poison.
He just glared back like he had ice in his veins. "So you know? Pity, you will never leave here to tell anycreature."
Realizing that the long range tactics weren't working on Digger, the Sarge made the big bug fall back with a little lightning, then got into a sword fight with them. Running had to rush in and help him when it turned out Digger was too much for Thunderchild to handle on his own (Weaver throwing him a sword as he ran in). The rest of us were busy with the little bugs, and they were giving us more trouble after the surprise had warn off, but the radios were still on the fritz thanks tah Sarge's bomb.
After taking a punch to the jaw and being forced back, Digger Wasp dusted himself off. "It seems I underestimated you...Fine, now I can serve my queen under my true face."
He exploded into green fire and turned into a big o' Changeling! Yep, definitely a head honcho with that fancy purple armor of his. He flew up and mule kicked them both off him.
Dang it! Now his men all changed to their real selves and are flyin' AND shootin' lasers at us! That ain't fair! It's hard enough tah hit a grounded target with these weapons! Of all the times for us not tah have Audience!... Wonder where he's at, hope he's alright.
Meanwhile in Neighpon
"Doctor, I thought we were going to Canterlot," Audience asked, loading a crossbow with his telekinesis.
"We were supposed to, but the TARDIS has a habit of sending me places I don't want," the Doctor reported, working on some kind of machine.
"Doctor, I blot the Dalaks didn't blue you were here," Derpy asked with a frown as they hid in a large cave from death rays.
"They don't, these must be from this universe, like those Cyberponies I and my future self had to deal with. Good news is they're older models, so they have a weakness to stairs and I erased all knowledge of this world from their ship's computers. Audience, aim for the eyestalk, that's the weak point. We have to stop their machine here from-"
A massive roar ripped through the cavern they were presently in as Audience shot an arrow through one of the strange machine-like creature's eyestalks. before a stream of blue fire obliterated their ship.
"-accidentally waking up Dracozilla, well at least he took care of the Dalaks..."
Audience sighed worriedly. "I hope Minny is alright..."
Well, Earth Ponies have strong legs you know.
"Garnet! Give me a boost!"
She nodded and let me jump off her back and nail two of the bugs with a good buck to the chest, knockin' them for a loop. Diver flew up and let me jump off his back to tackle another to the ground. A good headbutt took them out while Weaver shot another out of the air with a beam of her own. She seemed to get a lucky hit and nail the guy in a sensitive spot for these bugs, took him out of commission quick.
"You help Gag and the Sarge! We'll handle the mooks!" Bombardier called, his family and Cherry takin' the lower Changelings on.
"WHO YOU CALLING MOOKS?! We have the same training as you!" A changeling snarled.
"And that doesn't make you any more of a Guard!"
Blueblood decked a changeling with a sucker punch, forgot that guy put a jerkflank reporter in the hospital when he was younger. He was still getting a bit roughed up though.
The two of them were havin' trouble. Digger Wasp wasn't the chief of security on OUR side for no reason, and Ah doubt he wasn't a big wig bug for it neither.
Garnet charged in and tried tah head but them, but got side stepped and made to run into Running.
Ah tried tah shoot him a couple times, but Digger just kept dodgin' or usin' his armor tah shield himself. Guy knew how to cover his weakpoints. He managed to disarm Gag and the Sargeant, but Ah got lucky and disarmed him when Ah charged in with mah guard baton. Ah had tah dodge when he fired back at me with his horn and flew up.
She got back up and launched me at Digger for another kick but-GAH!
Ugh...He flew down when Ah tried tah buck him and nailed me between the uprights with one of his own...
"Dirty move..." Ah groaned, after landing and gettin' shakily to mah hooves. Ugh...That wasn't fun.
"I am outnumbered, what reason would I have to play fair?" he asked, giving Thunderchild a headbutt and trying to blast him.
Gag reminded everypony he had stealth skills and managed to surprise Digger with a buck to the back and knock him to the ground.
"Considering that's our overall situation, I think we don't have much reason to do it either."
That's when Ah noticed Digger grunt in pain when he hit the ground. Ah saw he had a piece of shrapnel from the door lodged it his chest, stopping him from bleedin' out. Ah guess either it hit too hard for the armor to completely stop or these things are more vulnerable in their pony forms. It didn't look fatal, but he was already hurt...wait...that gave me an idea.
While Digger turned and tried to blast Runnin', Ah motioned to Thunderchild and Garnet at the piece of metal in him.
Thunderchild nodded and charged up lightnin' into his wings.
Right as Runnin' got knocked back by Digger's beam, Garnet charged in and used that durability our tribe is known fer tah tank a punch to the face and grab onto a front leg. Ah rushed in and grabbed the other one, holding him right as Thunderchild sent a bolt of lightnin' into the metal shard.
"GAH!" Digger screamed as the bolt gave him a good shock. Of course, Thunderchild wasn't aimin' tah kill 'em (even if we weren't ponies, we still wanted to take him alive for intel), but the shock sure left Digger Wasp worse for ware.
He still had enough strength tah knock me and Garnet off him, but fell to the ground right after that, his body shaking from the volts.
He panted and looked around at all of us, Weaver, her brothers, and Cherry joinin' us after knocking out his men with Blueblood.
"Surrender, you can't win," Cherry stated, Weaver holding him at bowpoint. "Just come quietly."
The cattle...I couldn't beat them...
How? How can this be happening?
I timed everything. Everything. Absolutely perfectly. I've scheduled this down to the second. I even had that sick creature Kabuto help me make sure I had double and triple checked every possible factor to the point to an outside observer it would look like an impossible convoluted mess if they hadn't see it put together. I've spent every moment since that chaos demon showed me that future.
How...how could I...
"And none of this would have been possible, if not for the failure of the changeling spy, Digger Wasp."
"Digger Wasp failed in his duty."
"YES YOU DID Digs! You failed! FAILED! FAILED!"
"You failed. No more changelings! And just think! You don't even know what you'll do! Maybe it'll be what you DON'T do! Maybe me showing you this is what caused it! Just think! Think! THINK! You just know it WILL HAPPEN! And you can't know WHAT caused it! Be happy! Cause you're the last who dies! You'll get to see it all!"
No...It's...it's happening...this is how I failed...I...I changed nothing...
Jewel...Your Majesty...I tried my best...I did everything I could...It wasn't enough...
...Maybe I should just trigger body to eat itself... Then I'll never have to see...Jewel...My queen...
NO! If I'm going to be dragged around like a trophy until the end of my people . . . I'M GOING TO GO DOWN FIGHTING!
I feel every ounce of spare energy I have available rush up in me. I'd barely have enough love in me to keep me alive, but I don't care! There's one last service to Her Majesty I can still do! THIS IS FOR YOU, JEWEL!
Digger snarled in rage...his eyes. They...they reminded me of the captain when he heard what Discord had put his sister through. "You have not won yet...LONG LIVE HER MAJESTY!"
The guy almost took Weaver's head off with a beam and spun around with strength none of us knew he had, makin' us duck under his beam. Ah hadn't even seen his horn light up!
"Is that a magic surge?!" Garnet yelled.
Dang it! There goes all the communications equipment!
When he came back around, Ah spring up and give him mah best buck right in the horn before he can react, knocking him to the ground with one Tartarus of a hornache and lettin' us wrestle him to keep him down. He didn't seem able tah put off a fight at all now. Like all his strength was just gone. Ah know a magic surge takes a lot out of a pony, but that didn't make you weak as a filly.
Garnet tied a rope around the base of his horn as tight as she could in lue of a magic seal. "That should give him too bad a hornache to focus his magic."
He winced, looking up at us. He tried to charge up his horn, but Garnet was right. He waas helpless as a foal. "...Finish me..." he said, trying to stand up but more or less spent. "A lion who loses to a gazelle...is no lion...a soldier who fails his queen is a failure...a Changeling with no more to give the hive is a waste of love," he winced, looking up at up at us. "Just...please...Jewel...My Queen...I don't want to see..."
"...Fine..." Garnet said, putting the blowgun to her lips as Digger shut his eyes...and got a tranq dart in the neck, right about his armor. "That will put you out for five to six hours."
Digger looked at us like we were crazy. "But...but the strong kill the weak! That's nature! This isn't how it works! You're supposed to kill me!"
Ah actually chuckled. "You hurt mah cousin, Ah'm glad we just kicked your flank. But Ah ain't gonna kill you. If you think that, you got a lot tah learn about ponies."
"You...you won't wipe out the Changelings?"
"What do you think we are? Hooviets?" Running Gag asked. "Genocide isn't in our vocabulary."
"And..my...my sister?" he asked, lookin' like he was usin' all the strength he had to keep his eyes open.
"Is she a soldier?"
"No...c-civilian..." he stuttered, struggling to get a sentence out now.
"Then she's safe, we don't hurt civies," Cherry stated with authority.
Digger looked at us like we'd just proved the world was flat before he finally lost consciousness and Garnet got to tendin' his wounds as best she could where we were. International law, wounded prisoners of war get treated just like your own wounded. And we didn't want him bleeding out and dying before we could try and get some intel out of him.
Gag went outside to detour any back up that might come and we got tah work checkin' out the room and binding up the captives. We also scavenged some weapons.
"Dang it, he wrecked all the equipment," Ah said, lookin' at the room. We'd had to knock out the unicorns too, and they'd be sleepin' for a few hours even if we could break that devil's spell on them. The triplets had made sure to check if there was anypony we knew here but fortunately not.
"But that also means the Changelings can't use it," Diver reminded me.
"Yeah...but Ah guess we and the others are still on our lonesome."
Ah kept lookin' and... "...Wait!" Ah yelled, pulling a short range radio out of the rubble. "Captain! This looks like it could still work!"
Cherry galloped over. "Can it get out an SOS?"
"Nah, it's short range, mainly tah contact ponies here in Canterlot, but we could use it to communicate with each other if we set it up back at the base."
Cherry nodded. "At least things are looking a bit up..."
After handin' the radio off, Ah helped a bruised up Blueblood up while others started prepin' the prisoners for transport. "You alright?"
He wheezed a little bit, looking pretty roughed up. Though tah his credit, he managed tah leave a few unconscious Changelings in his wake. "Yeah...I believe I just bit off a little more than I could chew."
"...Your filly needs you more than we do, Prince Blueblood."
"...I know...I just wanted to help for once, you know? Finally do something with my life after spending it as a pampered waste of space."
Wow...never through Blueblood of all ponies would act that way.
"Considerin' Cadence is still at large because of you, Ah think you've done plenty."
He smiled. Ah never that seein' Blueblood grin would be NICE.
We grabbed all the intel we could get and headed back to the catacombs with Digger Wasp and our prisoners in toe. Once we were there, Garnet tended to the Prince's bruised ribs and the rest of our scrapes. Considering it was five on one, Digger sure gave us trouble. Though all Ah needed was some ice for mah pride. Garnet actually got a black eye out of it, but some lovin' from her fiance made that feel better.
"Hey! Look at this!" said Gag, going over the letters we'd snatched from the communications room. "'Kabuto requests some more 'cattle' to be brought to his lab now that his primary duties are complete, he wishes to start his experiments as soon as possible.'"
"From what I've heard about this guy, he even bugs the bugs."
After a groan, Gag got serious.
"I'm not joking though, this Kabuto guy sounds like a sick buck from what I've heard, whatever experiments he's doing can't be good."
Cherry gave a thoughtful nod. "...Guess we know where our next target is, where is this guy?"
"There's directions, can't send him 'cattle' without the directions."
"...Alright, I'll stay here with Banjo and Noteworthy to set up a mission control, think the rest of you can handle trying to intercept any civilians on their way to this mad scientist?"
"Hey! Look down there!"
As we made our way to where we'd launch our attack on Kabuto, Gag caught sight of a few of the Bearers and I think the Hoofmaidens in a spot of trouble with the bugs. Huh...Rainbow Dash does have a nice windspan...Focus Thunderchild.
"Should we help them?" Garnet asked.
"Captain?" I asked on the radio. "This working?"
"Yeah, what is it Sargeant?"
"We have a visual on the Bearers and I think Princess Cadence's hoofmaidens. They're surrounded by bugs and in need of assistance. Permission to provide coverfire?"
"...Granted, but stay in the shadows as much as you can, are we clear?"
"...Crystal. Open fire!"
When they managed to start running, we fired and took out some of the bugs chasing them with tranqs before getting out of sight and letting them look for whoever fired at them. Thanks to Gag's stealth skills, they didn't suspect we were hiding right there in plain sight. We couldn't catch up with the Bearer, but we'd at least given them cover.