The Trotford Husbands

by Gabriel LaVedier

The Report

Bureau of Equestrian Security and Investigation After-Action Report and Summary

Investigating Agent: Agent 68, Penny Lane

Location of Incident: Trotford, in the County of West Emery

Nature of Incident: Threat to Citizenry

Further Intervention Status: Minor

Overview of Investigation

Agent 68 of the Canterlot BESI office was dispatched to the village of Trotford in order to investigate the rumors of a malevolent force harming the male population of the village. The investigation was initiated by the testimony of one Wind Chaser, a citizen of the village. He arrived in Canterlot in an agitated state, talking about mind control.

Initial constable intervention involved temporary commitment to the Canterlot Asylum. Particulars of the reports, those during the first contact and those after a night of rest and recuperation, were passed to the BESI office, which determined there was some reason to believe there was Changeling infiltration of the village.

After a follow-up interview by BESI investigators the case was determined to be plausible. A full sweep was contraindicated by the evidence, as only one complaint was noted, as suggestive as it was. Further investigation was ordered to determine the level of further intervention.

Agent 68 noted the stallions of the village appeared flippant, close-knit and fixated on alcohol and video games. Most mares appeared similarly closely connected, with seeming mistrust for outsiders. She found herself under non-unified observation, each mare operating as an independent observer noting her movements and questioning of citizens. Married couples appeared in great concord, with the stallions happily agreeing to what the mares said.

Further investigation resulted in the revelation of the actual happenings, recorded below as the Situational Particulars.

Situational Particulars

The Lady Mayor of the village, one Verdant Glade, along with the rest of the female population of the village, had been distantly observing Canterlot on the day of the Royal Wedding and Changeling Incursion when they observed the love wave in progress. Following the expulsion of the Changeling swarm some members of the assault team, identified as half the number of the Second Masquerade Siege Division, fell to earth outside the village of Trotford.

The Mayor, and the mares with her (names listed in supplemental attachments), took pity on the fallen Changelings. Not knowing they had participated in an assault on Equestria the Changelings were secreted beneath the city hall by said mares, who tended to their injuries, fed them, and provided uncoerced emotions to feed a yet-unnamed organ which processes emotions.

In the course of care one mare who had been engaged to a local stallion found herself abandoned before the wedding, the stallion having run off without informing anyone. One of the Changelings, identified by the name Obscura, took the form of the stallion and married said mare in the absent stallion's place.

The mayor and the other mares formulated a plan to continue the trend, in secret. Stallions were encouraged to become engaged to mares, then offered money and new identities, provided by the mayor, if they signed confidentiality agreements and moved to distant towns where they were wholly unknown, while Changelings took over their prior identities.

According to the Changelings, being husbands provided an unlimited supply of uncoerced emotion, with the added effect that excess emotion beyond that needed for feeding trickled down to those unattached, providing food for them as well, in the form of free-floating feeling or processed into a viscous green-gold fluid known simply as Changeling Honey.

Said money came from a certain degree of inventive but not dishonest bookkeeping on the part of the Lady Mayor and her accountants, who had all married Changeling drones. Non-indicative line items were put down, typically 'Civic Improvement' or 'Relocation Expenses.' Money came from government subsidies and requests, which was then shuffled through the budget while the work paid for by the money was done by volunteers, often the Changelings in the guise of outside workers.

The original complainant, Wind Chaser, brought the situation into focus because of the supposed brainwashing of his friend, Gold Bug. In point of fact, after studying the facts, the BESI located Gold Bug in a distant Viscounty, living under the name Gilded Cage. His confidentiality agreement forbade the divulging of particulars but he felt the need to inform his friend that he would not be there, in some sense, before his move. Further contact with Gold Bug, AKA Gilded Cage, corroborated the story, including meetings between said stallion and Wind Chaser.

None of the other stallions located by subsequent BESI investigation of the sealed records reported any harm or force used against them. The offer seemed reasonable though they were unaware that they would be replaced by lookalikes. They had assumed they were being given a gift, as each one noted marriage was not a strong desire.

The mares involved, including the Lady Mayor, as well as the Changelings so recorded, remain in Trotford. The BESI agents assigned to observe the situation have reported no escapes or attempted escapes and all involved have been fully cooperative with the Bureau and agents.

The only significant change in the situation since the revelation of the Changeling presence and the arrival of a BESI observation team has been the removal of disguises. All Changelings who married mares have opted to reveal their natural selves. According to reports the actions taken, such as daily trips to shops or on dates, have not been altered, and shopkeepers have not noted any change in spending habits.

Action Recommendation

As the Lady Mayor and mares of Trotford were unaware of the nature of the Changelings there exists no malice in their activity. At the time there were no restrictions on interacting with Changelings, and likely such restrictions would have been ignored for a higher Equestrian drive towards empathy and compassion for the sick and injured. They were not intent on abetting criminals, nor was there intent to rebel or commit treason. Absent intent, no criminal charges can be pressed.

The Changelings have demonstrated no hostility towards Equestria or its citizens; on the contrary, by the numbers they have ably contributed through roundabout payroll taxes and acts of public works and beautification. This is in addition to fees paid for marriage, joint purchases involving sales tax and the advancement of the general welfare through spreading happiness and love.

Additionally, the Changelings have no contact with other members of the swarm, and have no idea what has become of the defeated Queen Chrysalis. They have willingly disavowed loyalty to Chrysalis and their prior military and social service. On the condition of general amnesty and refugee status they have agreed to swear their loyalty to the Princesses and the Principality of Equestria to become citizens in good standing. Some thought they had a fast track due to being married to Equestrian citizens, but the marriages were required to be annulled because they were made under names not their own. They quickly reapplied for marriage certificates and the approval came through speedily.

With the revelation, the mares of the town could openly court the Changelings that had been revealed, with whom they had already started forming relationships. It cut out the necessity of first seducing and learning about a stallion in order to pay him off and replace him.

Because of all the above, minimum further intervention is required. Occasional checks as with any other refugee, reports to Canterlot and further examination for other Changelings who desire to be made part of Equestria.

“Mayor... this has been an interesting thing,” Penny Lane said as she shook hooves with Verdant in her office at city hall. It was plainly decorated, as was appropriate for a small village. There was nothing but a modest wooden desk, a few cushions in front of it, a potted plant and pictures on the wall. Most of them were of the town but one was of a very happy Changeling. “It's one of the most interesting cases of my career and nothing is likely to top it.”

“Thank you, Agent Lane. Without you none of this could have been possible,” Verdant said, looking out the window. A large, well-made figure of Queen Chrysalis was drawn through the streets by the stallions of the village while Changelings flew an escort for it. “We owe you much.”

“It was my pleasure. The report has been received and the action notes are being taken seriously. So you and your Changelings have nothing to fear,” Penny said, looking out at the figure as well. “That thing is disturbingly well made. I'm not even going to ask how long it took.”

“A week. A week of serious cooperative work. It was a labor of hate, and we meant every bit of it,” Verdant said with a firm nod.

“Well, should look good on fire. I can't wait until you torch it and roast vegetables over the flames. That's non-toxic paint and such on there, right?” Penny asked.

“Of course! This is a huge celebration. All the single Changelings are taking their Equestrian Citizenship oaths, and that's very special. We planned out every detail, and want it all to be wonderful,” Verdant said, walking towards the doors to her office. “Do you have any other matters that need clarification?”

“Nope. I can rubber-stamp my follow-up and send it off, and just enjoy myself at the big bonfire. Then I'll head back to Canterlot,” Penny said, opening the doors for the mayor.

The small room outside the office was little more than a modest antechamber, with a large window, a few cushions and a small desk, behind which sat the Changeling from the picture in Verdant's office. He smiled as Verdant emerged and he blew a kiss to her. “See you at the bonfire.”

“Best receptionist I ever had. And not bad looking. Can't wait for the wedding,” Verdant said with a laugh. She then turned to Penny and motioned to the lovestruck Changeling receptionist. “Sure you need to head back to Canterlot? Some of the guys don't have a specific mare they like...”

“No offense, Mayor, but... I guess Changelings just don't do it for me. I get that they make great husbands and... well, I'm not sure I want to know the lovemaking details but I'm guessing that's good too. And maybe there will be foals from this but I'm not sure so, I guess that's something else for us to look into later on. But it's ponies for me. Maybe donkeys. Or zebras. Or I'll take up that dinner offer from Goethite in Operations. But yeah, Changelings aren't on my romance map,” Penny said with a soft laugh.

“That's alright. To think of it I think most of the mares in town are a little attached to those fellows,” Verdant said with a laugh. “I hope you enjoy the festivities and convey our best wishes to Canterlot.”

“You bet! I think the Princesses will be glad that love and peace reign in the principality once more. And Cadance will be pleased to hear that Changelings are burning Chrysalis in effigy while marrying ponies. She won't say it out loud, she's too nice for that but she'll think it,” Penny chuckled.

“I don't doubt it. Until the evening, Agent Lane,” Verdant said, waving as Penny left. She turned and sauntered back to her receptionist and planted a kiss on his lips. “I'm so happy it all worked out. I was afraid... I mean... when the word came about the crackdown...”

“We were afraid too. But we knew that love would prevail. It's why Changelings can live so well in Equestria. There's so much love we can just savor life. We don't need Chrysalis. If we want a female to command us... well, that's why we get married,” the receptionist said with a buzzing laugh.

Verdant kissed the Changeling on the tip of his snout and gave him a push with her snout. “Silly. Come on. We've gotta get ready to roast vegetables on your former queen's effigy.”