Fleur Dis Lee had waited for her chance, and finally took it.
The tabloids had loved to comment on her resemblance to Princess Celestia, passing her off as either an illegitimate child, or a failed cloning experiment. This overlooked the fact her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother had all bore a strong resemblance to the princess. The few that actually took that into account sometimes wondered if the model had divine blood.
Fancy Pants of course had married her for her, not as some oddity or pretty that would make an interesting trophy wife. Or to a degree it could be said he married her for the her he knew she could be.
Fleur Dis Lee had as a youth been bored with high culture. As a late bloomer filly who hadn't even earned her cutie mark, she had taken to thievery to appease her boredom. She had never hurt anypony, and had stolen only from the wealthy, (and had usually tossed out the treasure in a garbage bin nearby). She had never gotten caught. She hadn't fought guards, but she had learned how to avoid and bamboozle them (given Equestria's low crime rate, she sometimes wondered if she got out just in time).
Meeting Fancy Pants had given her something more interesting to do with her life, something more meaningful than cheap thrills. He had an outlook on the world it seemed no pony else in Canterlot high society seemed to have. He wasn't a trend follower, he was a trend maker. Not because he was smart (which he was), but because he refused to follow trends and instead brought attention to the subtleties everypony else tended to miss. He had an amazing eye for detail. She remembered how they'd met.
She'd tried to snatch a pocket watch from him...he'd not only realized she had but told her in detail how she had done so, all from little details. She still remembered what he'd told her: "Dear, petty theft doesn't suit you. You're far too smart to waste your life on such things."
He didn't call the Guard...he helped her find excitement in other places. In other ways. In the little things most of the upper crust were too busy sticking their nose up at to notice. She was grateful.
Most ponies didn't even know what her cutie mark stood for, they didn't realize it symbolized her parents with lances, spears, and other blade weapons.
Which was exactly why Fancy Pants had asked her to guard the entrance to the tent their field medic had set up. She thought it was better for them to fight as a team, her protecting him at close range, while he handled distance fight. He insisted that they needed a pony to guard the medics, and that he'd be fine on his own. Her Fancy Pants was not always right. Didn't he realize they had always worked best together?
They had another one coming towards the tent: an orange unicorn mare, blue eyes, brown mane in a 'pony tale', cookie snapped in half cutie mark.
Fleur looked up the proper profile page in her brain: Gingersnaps, teacher at Celestia's school for gifted unicorns. And she was carrying, HER FANCY! His horn! The way he was sweating the pain he was enduring was immense.
"I don't think gophers had anything to do with this conspiracy Ink Well," The teacher muttered to herself, but was interrupted by Fleur.
"The big changeling got him."
"Fancy can you hear me?"
"S-sorry dear, I miscalculated."
The model's eyes fell on Fancy's horn. On the crack. On the agonizing wound sustained by the pony to whom she owed her current life to in every sense of the word. She felt something in her snap.
"Get him inside!"
" . . . Aren't you going to ask me a password or something?" Gingersnaps asked confused. The Gifted Unicorn teacher also couldn't help shuddering a little at the look in Fleur's eyes.
"Just get him in there!" She opened the flap.
Gingersnaps sighed. "If some of you injured turn out to be bug monsters in disguise, don't blame me." Gingersnaps took Fancy inside.
Once he was inside, Fleur Dis Lee strapped a rapier and longsword to her body and pulled her old thieving stealth out of the closet and headed for the direction her Fancy had come. It wasn't hard to find the big changeling, just follow the impact craters. The look in her eyes was one that looked almost alien and frightenin on a pony.
And she had found him fighting Mrs. Golden Tiara, the magician, one of the gifted unicorns, and Princess Cadence herself. Fleur moved with cat-like grace and stealth. Then the gifted unicorn shot him in the eyes with something that smelled like lemon juice.
Then the magician shot with a simple spell bolt the big changeling from behind as the Princess shot shards of moonlight from above, capped off by Mrs. Golden Tiara broadside tackling him.
And Fleur Dis Lee saw her opening and took it.
She let out a wild battle cry and stampeded towards the monster like a wild horse. Not seeing the other ponies anymore, only the beast who had harmed her husband.
A rapier thrust and longsword slash at the same time. The slash was blocked on instinct but the thrust stabbed into thin point of his joints.
"I'm Fleur Dis Lee! This is for my husband Fancy Pants!"
"I'm Hercules Bee-AGH!" She grabbed one foreleg with her magic and pull it out of the way and stabbed his torso, it didn't go as deep as she had wanted.
"I don't care what your name is! I'm going to break your horn like you did Fancy's!"
Lemon and Golden had to back off or risk getting beheaded by a sword slash. Cadence and Trixie weren't snipers and couldn't get a shot in without risking hitting Fleur.
"Agh! You sought me out just-Ugh!- to pay me back?" The Changeling General moved his head, turning a head shot into a glancing blow. The creature who fed on love could feel the anger and hate in the mare.
"That's stupid." Hercules kicked her in the stomach, pivoting on one hind leg and kicking with the other,balancing with his wings. Fleur lost her focus and dropped her blades as she was knocked back. The distraction gave the Changeling General a moment to wipe out his eyes and regain his full sight. The princess and unicorns used the chance to shoot the changeling, but he used his leg strength to dodge and rushed the white mare.
"Love for another isn't stupid you thug!" She levitated her swords aiming them at his back.
"Not what I meant. 'Tit for tat' has NO PLACE in battle! Revenge is-" Hercules spread the coverings for his wings at just the right time to knock the twin blades back-stab off course. "Let me give you a few lessons in reality."
The blades realigned themselves but struck pavement as he leapt over her and handed on four hooves behind her and said, "When you're the cavalry make sure your element of surprise COUNTS."
Fleur pivoted, she didn't swing her swords, they flew straight at Hercules like spears. Hercules move down and underneath her and threw her into the air.
"I only wish you had two horns so I could break them both and say how both matched!"
She was caught in the air by Cadence, she merely used the princess as a springboard to leap head on against the general. The Changeling General gave a legitimate glare.
"Blind rage NOR tranquil fury are friends, all they do is make you fixated and resistant to teamwork. Especially when you're so drunk on them you're acting like you don't bucking have teammates!"
The changeling spun out of the way as the swords stabbed at the ground where he was at and righted himself. Fleur used her own telekinesis to slow herself down.
The two blades spun in a fury trying to get get past the changeling armor's defenses, forcing him back.
"Don't surrender or give up! I want you to squirm you bully!"
Thanks to the battle, there was plenty of debris to work with as Hercules used his good wing to buzz up a dust cloud, making her cough, then instead of politely waiting for the dust cloud to vanish, he knocked her blades out of the way first as her grip on them weakened for a moment and rammed into the mare again.
"Determination and someling to protect does NOT make up for experience or fix poor choices! Now please, just stop this!"
Hercules ducked under a blind punch from the mare, causing a shot from Trixie to miss him.
"Fancy's pain is mine, and that pain gives me strength!"
"Your husband made himself an enemy combatant, I defended my changelings."
Hercules spun around, forcing Golden Tiara to stop a charge or risk tackling the mare that didn't even notice she was there.
"You could've surrendered!"
"So could've he. But that'd be betraying our swarms."
"Well get ready for the consequences of your actions!"
She drew her swords back to her grasp and slashed at him twice, but was blocked, now with ease.
Hercules gave a genuinely disgusted growl. "You want to know what disgusts me about you?" he asked, ducking and letting her slashes go over his head before bringing both forelegs up and knocking her on her back. "You took me off guard, you had the skill to hurt me. You had the skill to make a difference in this fight for your team, and you're wasting it on petty revenge!"
"What? You think I should be fighting for your side?!" she asked, Hercules actually having to punch her out of the way of an incoming beam from 'Cadence' when she recklessly leapt at him.
"No, quite the opposite," the General said, not making a move to further harm her. "I think you should go cool off until you're calm enough to be fighting on a side!"
"I'm on Fancy's side." She dove her rapier neatly through the hole in Hercules' legs as he brought it up to block. The changeling bent his foreleg as the tip of the rapier dove for his eyes, bending it off course, and breaking it. Fleur discarded the hilt used her telekinesis to skip the blade without the meddlesome hilt right at the changeling as the longsword at his side.
Hercules growled, moving his head to the right to evade the blade and spinning his foreleg to throw the longsword off course. He growled deeper when the launched blade nearly impaled Cadence as she dived at the General from behind.
Hercules slammed his hardened foreleg down on the longsword blade, snapping the weapon in half. Fleur didn't miss a beat as she simply used the blades on their own, the General got a serious look about him.
"You almost killed your own Queen."
"Why should you care?!"
"Because you're a rebel soldier. Because you joined a militia under her banner," she tried to slash him but he blocked both. While he remained composed, disgust was obvious. "You're so drunk on revenge you're not thinking! Just stop before you hurt someling!"
"So this is the part where you try to make me give up because I won't give up."
"...You know, I'm not a pony," Hercules blocked several more slashes. "But we have one thing in common. We both think hate is poison for good reason." He proceeded to perry her blows and retaliate by pushing her full force away from him. "Eating hate is poison to my kind. But right now you're living proof that it's poison to the brain! So cool off and leave before someling gets hurt!"
"This isn't hate! It's righteous fury!" She animated the broken hilts along with the blades, all four at once.
"...I didn't enjoy hurting your husband. I respect him for trying to protect your land. I took no pleasure in it. In fact, I wish we didn't even have to fight. I swear to Queen Rosedust that's the tr-" She hit him near point blank with a simple spell bolt, then began a four on one whirlwind attack.
Unfortunately for her, trying to be a one pony army in a group on one fight meant the Changeling General merely had to twist his body to result in Fleur's spell hitting Lemon Hearts and knocking her on her flank and then her own blades forced Screwball to stay back.
"Fleur, would you kindly stop getting in the way?!" Lemon Hearts yelled.
"Don't worry!!! Thank you for staying out of mine. There's no way I'm letting this ruffian win!"
Hercules growled. He reared back to dodge a slash and brought his hooves down on her swords, pinning them to the ground.
"...Listen to them and leave. Now. Put down your weapons, and walk away," he stated in a calm even tone. "You're not being a soldier or a hero, you're being a danger to yourself and your own side. Go sober up before someling pays the price for your recklessness."
Fleur shook her head in disgust, "I'm not going to listen to you, you're the enemy. I am not a foal, I am not a coward, I am not a weakling, I am not an idiot, and I am not BOWING DOWN to your absurd oversized high and mighty EGO."
"Me belittling you or hurting someling you love doesn't mean you're fated to crush me or justify anything you've done here. It does not give you a 'I can kick anyling's butt who gets in my way' card. The one thing BOTH our kind's agree on is love is powerful, but hate is weak. So get that through your thick skull that you're not being the hero here."
" . . . " Fleur-Dis-Lee just stare at him for one moment, jaw hanging open. And something in her clicked. Her voice was as cold as ice. "Did, you, just, call me, an empty headed broodmare?" She didn't wait for an answer.
Hercules felt his limbs glued to the ground with her magic as the swords fell to the ground. Her horn glowing bright, she reached down picked up the hilted half of the broad sword in her mouth. Mumbling through it, "I'll 'eave after I 'reak 'our 'orn."
"'Ou 'alk so much 'bout 'onor when 'our side couldn't have less of it. If 'ou 'eally had 'onor, 'ou'd have defected by now," she said matter of fact.
"...I had enough honor to try not to hurt somepony who clearly didn't belong here," the General said, and suddenly gave a roar, ripping the GROUND up to free himself and towering over her. "I had enough honor to try and talk down someone so drunken on petty revenge as to not care about her own Queen!"
The General slammed the ground in front of him, his strength actually surpassing Fleur's hold on him and breaking the rubble off his hooves, sending the unicorn flying a few feet into the air. He leapt up and slammed a hoof into the model's ribs, slamming her into the ground with enough force to crack a few of them.
"Not everyling is a super soldier, it'll be a sad day when that's true. You're a skilled fighter, not a freaking one mare army! And trying to BE something you're NOT is only going to put yourself in danger, put those whose JOB it is to do the fighting in danger, and bring sadness to your family. So for Rosedust's sake, stop you idiot! Now be an adult and STAY DOWN . . .Please don't make me make you stay down!"
"You're wrong. I trust in Princess Cadence, because I know she cares about us, she's grown up as one of us, I know it's going to take more than that to hurt her, she's our love for each other, and that makes her unbreakable!" She forced her body to stand, even as she felt knives in her chest from breathing.
"...I respect your belief in your queen. It's the one thing you've said this entire fight I actually respect. But you're assuming you're a samurai and not a shinobi. And it's hurting MORE than just you. Stop this before I have to really hurt you to make you stop endangering yourself and your team."
"If we lose, one less slave for you, if we win, I'll have plenty of time to heal. And seriously, I love listening to my Fancy speak, he's a master of words, it's a thing of beauty . . . but seriously, a fight isn't the place for beautiful words. Fighting doesn't deserve them."
Hercules felt four blades stab him in the gut. "And you REALLY get too wrapped up in your speeches."
The General growled, pulling the blades out with his mouth and summoning flames to cauterize the wound despite it clearly hurting him.
"Fine...Forgive me for trying to do this the pony way."
Fleur assumed an calm elegant pose. Then said without anger, "If it was the pony way, you wouldn't be working for a monster. Remember th-"
Hercules suddenly punched the mare in the jaw with his hardened forelegs. With her dazed, he lifted her over head with his hooves and body slammed her into the ground hard enough to crack it. "You want to call the Queen a monster?" he asked, keeping his composure as he stomped down on her ribs, this time making sure he broke them.
"How about violator?" She coughed out. "Sadist? Melgo-m-maniac?"
"...You're right...She isn't a saint...she isn't some messiah…I object to a lot of things she does...but you want to know why I work for her?" Hercules asked, making sure to kick her swords out of her range. "Because she saved the Changelings. Because without her, we'd be extinct. You think I bucking LIKE hurting people?! I DON'T, I'm a GUARDIAN! Doing this?! Hurting you?! Hurting innocent ponies?! It makes me sick! I wish to Queen Rosedust the Queen would've just taken that peace treaty so this whole stupid war would be overwith! But I swore an oath I can't break to someling who I owe my people's existence to!...And another to one who loved us like we were her beloved children..."
"If . . . . you . . . believed that . . . you'd have . . . protected her . . . from . . . herself . . . " Fleur was no longer conscious.
Hercules gave a small gasp...then for a brief moment let guilt surface. "...That makes two Queens I've failed that way I guess…"
He slowly lifted her up and held her between himself and the heroes.
"...Last lesson: not everyling in the world who wants to contribute to something will be able to, and in FACT become a LIABILITY if they refuse to see they're over their head and out of their element."
"How could you use her as a shield like that?!" Screwball asked.
"Trixie has only used a particular dear friend of hers as a club and shield."
"There is no such thing as 'dirty fighting' in a fight for your survival."
"How could you beat up somepony like that just to prove how tough you are!" One of the ponies snapped at Hercules.
"Don't be an idiot. Fighting someling with their head so clouded by rage they endanger their own side doesn't prove any strength. Just like endangering your own comrades for petty revenge doesn't prove you're a hero."
"...He's right," said Trixie. "...Well, about the 'no such thing as 'dirty fighting' part at least. I play dirty...a lot."
Hercules looked at the unconscious mare...then floated her over to the group and calmly sat her down. "Lemon Hearts, have one of your familiars get her out of here so we can continue. She never should have been here to begin with."
The ponies stared in shock. "What-"
"That's not a REQUEST! I broke her bucking ribs! Get her out of here before she gets worse! Or worse yet wakes up and tries to pursue that foolish vendetta of hers!"
Lemon Hearts didn't question it and summoned her Angry Baby Lemons to escort the battered mare to medical attention.
Fleur-Dis-Lee when she awoke next to her husband, she thought about her actions. They lacked the sublimity and guile that had made her a legend.
She looked up at Fancy. Not an ounce of anger or hatred in his eyes. No thirst for revenge...only worry and concern for her. How had he felt when she'd run off to 'avenge' him?
Her mind wandered back to when she had been a young filly, and had talked with her great grandmother, the one who had married into the line of knights who stretched back to before history began. If her mother and grandmother looked like Celestia, Fleur would have sworn Great-Granny was her, minus wings and if Celestia could have old age.
She remembered the story she had told Fleur when Great-Granny had been very old, and had made Fleur promise only to share with her foals and husband.
"Once upon a time dear . . . I was a thief . . . I could do the work of two ponies and I was a master of disguise and getting into places that were forbidden. In the greatest theft of my career, I sought to break into the great vault of Canterlot Castle. I wasn't after treasure, there were weapons there, recovered from hundreds of years ago, with the last war with Tambelon the stories said, put there as The Princess carefully dismantled and destroyed each one. She wanted them where she could keep an eye on them.
"The Mare-Barrener, The-Senses-Eater, The Shadow-Erasure, and others more terrible, I imagined selling them to the highest bidder, they'd be worth more the entire treasure vault! . . . So I disguised myself as The Princess herself, determined to have the weapons removed from the vault, and sell them to the villains who lived beyond Equestria's borders.
"My disguise was perfect . . . everypony was fooled . . . except one . . . Princess Celestia herself . . . her punishment . . . was that I spend a year as her body double, letting her have some rest. She never touched my mind. But she said if I tried anything, if I tried to abuse the position she had just trusted with to a thief of deadly weapons . . . my punishment would be MORE severe. She told me that at loving as she was, she could be quite brutal if one proved deserving of it. I don't know how much of an eye she had on me.
"But by the time my sentence was up . . . something had happened the Princess had not anticipated . . . and I hadn't either . . . I had fallen in love . . . I must admit, I never once dreamed I'd fall for any stallion. Celestia swore by All Her Mothers that this was no magic coercion, it had happened by itself. She was as surprised as I was.
"I didn't want to go back to the way I was . . . because there was a chance that the love I felt for him might cease to exist. He was an open minded stallion, I know he'd have accepted us, excuse me, myself, but I feared that my love for him might vanish, and I didn't want to lose this feeling of love I had never felt anypony before. I begged and pleaded the princess not to change me back to the way I was. When she did so anyway, and I continued to plead to be made again how she had made me before, she granted my request, but my appearance now different enough from hers that I could live my own life. She said that if I ever changed my mind, she'd be waiting. But by the time he'd gone ahead to Elysium, I had all of you."
"Did you really love great-grandpa that much?" Little Fleur had asked.
"My little grandchild, love will make you do anything."
Fancy Pants gave a sigh. "Fleur...why did you do this?"
"I...I wanted to avenge you…"
"...Revenge doesn't suit you, Fleur…" The stallion gave her a light nuzzle. "...And it doesn't suit any of us. Not like this…Revenge that refuses to be sated does nothing but consume all it touches."
I took no joy in defeating a mare drunk on anger and revenge. Someone like that doesn't belong on the battlefield.
But back to the matter at hoof. Before they can fully recover from my actions, I look up at the Wonderbolts fighting above the main battle and transform into one of them, I'm not sure which one. Given my situation I don't really care.
While it doesn't fully restore my flight ability, the change of wing shape allows me to leap further with a glide. Surprised by my transformation and longer reach, Lemon Hearts receives a tackle and is sent flying.
I need to use my transformations wisely. If I don't conserve the love I stockpiled from little Sweetie Belle, I won't be able to use my trump card when the Moon Queen arrives.
Screwball asked, "So . . . since you clearly care so much about Fleur not getting hurt, that must mean you now realize all this fighting is wrong, and are now going to get your changelings to turn against your evil queen and help everyp-" I punched her in the face, she flew back five feet.
I give a jump to evade a beam from Trixie and glide towards her with my new wings, barely able to dodge several beams. It helps I'm a slightly smaller target like this. Knowing she'll teleport before I reach her, I transform back to my normal form midair and use my increased momentum to slam into the ground and cause a shockwave.
Instead of targeting her, I leap and tackle Screwball, taking her off guard and biting down on her shoulder with my fangs and throwing her away.
Trixie attempts to fire at me from a higher building, but I block it with my forelegs before pounding the ground and kicking a thrown up piece of shattered stone full force at ledge she's standing on. She gives a yell, barely teleporting away as the ledge crumbled. The sound of yell tells me she couldn't time her arrival quite well and was roughed up in the fall.
Before I can press the advantage, several lemon bombs explode around me. My wounded wing is still able to flap some to blow it away, but not before Lemon Hearts collides with me riding a familiar (similar to her first one in size, but I believe a little larger).
I slam my weight into it and push back against it. The unicorn wisely chooses to fire that acidic spell at me while I wrestle her creation. I note Trixie preparing an attack from the side. I may need to be smart about this. I need something to catch her off balance.
"Do you think you can beat me, Lemon Hearts?" I plant my back hooves and push back as hard as I want her to think I can. "You're simply a grain of sand Celestia searched through looking for her diamond! Nothing more! Failed Element Of Magic Candidate!"
She snarls and lunges at me in rage with her horn. I reply by spitting slime point blank in her face. As she and her familiar are taken off guard by my attack, I bite down on the tendril-like limb of her creature and spin my body weight around, lifting both off the ground and hurling them into Trixie, knocking them away.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): I thought you didn't believe in underestimating the opponent.)
I don't. But that doesn't mean I can't use a psychological jab to get an advantage when I need it. This is a fight. They've tripped me. They've blinded me. They've outwitted me. Are you saying they're wrong for playing dirty like I am?
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): ...No...)
Good. Because neither of us are.
I examine the situation quickly and note that Screwball is still recovering from my previous attack.
Without warning I spin around and catch the Princess off guard with an admittedly weak magic beam, then full tackle her to the ground. With no wasted motion, I leap up and attempt to slam my body weight down on h-
I won't lie. But given my family tree that's almost a given. Finding the Princess on a battlefield when we needed her to confirm we were us? Not easy. The triplets jumped right into the fighting disguised as Unicorns with Captain Coke, but the rest of us had to worry about being mistaken for changelings. Thankfully, skirting around the edge of a battlefield looking meant we noticed the mini war going on away from it. Makes me wish we ran into cousin AJ, maybe that magic 'Honest' necklace of hers could tell.
We were going to try and sneak up and hopefully take the Changeling big wig by surprise, but instead we saw the Princess in big trouble.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): How did you know it was a big wig?)
The triplets gave us a description of the Changeling big wigs and...well a Changeling a good half a head taller than the rest, wearing golden armor, and looking like he could give Big Mac a run for his money in hoof wrestling wasn't exactly easy to miss.
Captain Coke gave the order and me, Caramel, and him put Earth Pony strength to good use and galloped. One big shoulder tackle from three Earth Pony stallions sent the big lug flying through the wall of a nearby building.
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Why not try to just tranquilize him?)
We were gonna, but Garnet said the big lug was too big for the doses we'd prepared for the fight, (the guy was as big as Cousin Big Mac) and since we knew he was the Queen's right hoof stallion, we wanted to make sure to take him alive if we could (the more high level hostages we had the more leverage we had to maybe end this peacefully. Especially if one of them is the second in command).
The blue unicorn in the group shot the wall of a store for priceless mings right over him and buried him in a lot of rubble, that should keep him down.
And...well, at that point I think we had everycreature's attention.
Normally, making sure Hercules stayed down would be the priority, but we needed to prove that we were on their side so they didn't shoot us in the back while we were trying due to a misunderstanding. Doesn't mean we didn't keep weapons trained on it.
Thunderchild offered a hoof to the Princess to help her up, being he was the closest after we tackled Hercules.
"Sorry we're late, Princess," he said, giving a smile.
She blinked, looking up at us. "Uh…"
And the blue unicorn teleported in, looking at us like we might try to blast her at any minute. Scratch that, the opposite was what was going on I think. "Why'd you help us Changelings?! If you're trying to trick us-"
"Hey! Hold on!" Sarge said, holding his hooves up. No, none of us blamed the mare for thinking that, considering the situation. "We're not Changelings! Just ask the Princess! She can prove it!"
The Princess looked like Applejack that one time the Orange Family hosted a family reunion and she didn't know which spoon to use. Poor girl was sweating like nothing else. That didn't seem right…
"H-How would I prove that?"
"Uh, Princess," Gag started. "You're Princess of Bonds, remember? And I'd say we couldn't be more bonded unless we had superglue."
Thunderchild actually looked a bit hurt, I think we all were. "Princess, come on! It's me, Staff Sergeant Thunderchild!"
We all took a defensive stance, prepared if this was a Changeling and not just the Princess scared out of her wits.
The Princess gasped. "Thunderchild...so...Uh…"
The blue unicorn gave a sigh. "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid she cannot prove that...but you asking her to proves you're not changelings."
"Uh...how?" Gag asked.
"Because if you were changelings trying to trick us, why would you ask her to do something that'd obviously reveal you?"
The 'Princess' stood up...and shed an illusion spell to turn into...I think one of the Hoodmaidens' friends if I remember right...Moon Dancer?
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): How do you know her?)
Hoofmaidens are her close pals and have a group picture with her. Plus she goes to the School for Gifted Unicorns and we'd all been on duty there a few times.
"I'm sorry, I'm a body double…" she lamented. "The real Princess is…"
"In another castle?" Gag answered, getting the reaction you'd expect.
"Yeah...she left us in charge while she's busy elsewhere."
"Considering you're fighting a Changeling General," Captain Coke said. "I'll trust you."
"First things first," said Garnet. "Anypony I should be patching up before we get back to fighting?"
"Screwball's hurt Trixie believes."
Wait...is that Filthy Rich's wife?
"...Hello, Ellis," she said, as Garnet started patching up her shoulder wound real quick.
"Oh, hey Mrs Rich, long time no see…."
"...It's Screwball now, Ellis, but yes...I've been ill."
"Sorry to hear that, hope you're doing better now."
The blue unicorn blinked. "You two know one another?"
"Family friends, Filthy buys wood products from Ellis' family, I don't think there's an Apple Family farm in Equestria he doesn't deal with."
"Cherry! Take a look at this!" Caramel yelled, he and Noteworthy having been keeping an eye on Hercules.
Captain Coke looked over as rubble started moving. "He's getting back up?!" he asked, echoing what we all were thinking as we trained our weapons on it if we didn't already.
"He's proved incredibly persistent in not staying down," Trixie replied. "We've hit him with enough to knock out at least ten Changelings."
"Okay, catch up later!" the Captain ordered. He looked to the blue unicorn. "Who's in charge?"
"That would be me," she said with a small bow. "Twilight Sparkle left me in charge. I am Trixie, her co-bearer of Magic."
"What?!" we all asked.
"It's true," Moon Dancer said with a nod. "She's a second Element of Magic and right now our default leader." The others all nodded.
"Are you from Roedinia?" Gag asked Trixie. I dunno why, but something about her being a SECOND Element of Magic made me tense.
"WHY would you ask me that?!"
Gag blinked. "Not sure. Gut feeling..."
"Well Trixie isn't! She's from Hoofington! And it's a very long story Trixie doesn't have time to explain right now!"
Captain nodded. "Alright, my name is Captain Cherry Coke, I'm acting CO. We don't have much time to get acquainted, so I'll be quick. You and me are in charge, our groups work together, and we kick this Changeling flank, got it?"
Trixie raised an eyebrow. "Trixie isn't used to costars, but this is a very tough Changeling."
There's several reasons I didn't push my weight around, not that I couldn't. The biggest was I had no idea what anypony but Lemon Hearts could actually do, even if she gave me a quick run down, so me trying to call the shots with the other group would hurt us more than help us. Same reason I largely left Thunderchild to his own devices most of the time with his squad, he simply knew them better. Two, now was not the time to argue over details. We had to get on the same page and quick considering a wall collapsing on this guy wasn't enough to put him down. And third, the Princess and Celestia's personal apprentice had faith in her and she was apparently doing a decent job of things so far, so I had reason to think her input was going to be helpful.
Me and her calling shots was simply the best choice given the situation. I'd do about the same thing if I'd working with another squad who I didn't know much about. Which technically was what was happening, given the rebellion was essentially a militia at this point and all the back up we were getting.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Forgive us not interviewing for the most part during this portion, converging narratives make it difficult to pick a perspective to tell the story from and this got wicked chaotic with ten ponies and some giant lemons fighting the second most dangerous Changeling in existance.)
Cherry Coke nodded. "Alright. So I take it if you're an Element of Magic, your special talent is Magic?"
"Yes, though Trixie is more of a trickster than Twilight Sparkle."
"So your name is Trixie because you do tricks?" Gag joked.
"...Trixie...supposes…" the mare forced.
"Quick run down of abilities so we have some idea who we can call to if we need something and what the other might be doing if we see them getting ready? Skip Lemon Hearts, we know her."
"Moon Dancer is a general mage, focus on moonlight magic, Screwball is a blackbelt and probably the most physically durable Earth Pony I know. What about your team? Concise as possible."
"Cherry Coke, General all around."
"Caramel...I, uh, me too." Caramel stuttered, with his fillyfriend Sassaflash safely back in Ponyville, he hadn't had much reason to speak to most anypony. Sassaflash apparently LIKED how he didn't like being center stage.
"Noteworthy, best ears in Canterlot," Noteworthy stated.
"Ellis, explosives expert and mechanic."
"Garnet Medic and chemistry."
"Running Gag, stealth and languages."
"Thunderchild, lightning and CQC."
"Alright…" Trixie took a quick look at the melee weapons. "We're lacking in melee, so help in that regard would be much appreciated."
Hercules Beetle gave a grunt of effort as he threw the rubble off of himself with sheer brute force and looked at his new opponents. Instead he focused on Moon Dancer. "Hello Moon Dancer."
The red maned unicorn said nothing.
"You look much better then when I last saw you touched by Her Majesty's magic."
"No thanks to you."
"I won't ask why you struggled against Her Majesty's will to where you damaged yourself, it's natural you did. But there comes a point in nature where adaption is better than resistance."
"Happiness in slavery?" She ask disgusted.
"Scarcely matters now. If you were the decoy Princess, that means the one that escaped into the castle must be the real one. It seems it's up to Goliath and his changelings to keep Princess Cadence away . . . Forgive me, but I have to finish this fight as quickly as I can! I don't have time for you. I must protect my queen!"
"...Don't assume numbers will give you the advantage."
"We didn't," Cherry Coke replied, taking a guard fighting stance.
"Good...I didn't know there were any guards left in Canterlot," the Changeling General replied, giving a smirk. "I heard your names, but don't bother telling me your ranks."
Cherry Coke raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"Because right now? They don't matter," Hercules replied. "All that matters is you're your sides heroes and I'm my side's. When the smoke clears, history will decide who's the hero and who's the villain," he said, and then, to their surprise, gave a salute without an ounce of mocking. "So come on! Defend your country! Be the heroes you took an oath to be and I'll be the hero I took my oath to be!"
Hercules planted his hooves and gave a Changeling battle cry, charging like a rampaging rhino.
"Work together! Cover each other!" yelled Cherry Coke.
"What he said!" Trixie replied.
Thunderchild charged forwards and slashed repeatedly at the General, who blocked with his hardened forelegs, even when he was double teamed by Cherry Coke. He bashed back with the hardened forelegs and staggered both guards before slamming his armored hooves into their chests with enough force to knock them back.
Ellis slid in and attempted a bash from a makeshift club, being parried several times before managing to get leverage to force the General back. Before he could press his advantage, Hercules pushed back with all his might and leapt up, bucking the Corporal in the chest.
However, Trixie opened fire the moment Ellis was driven back out of her line of fire, freezing one of the General's legs to the ground.
He blocked several light beams from Moon Dancer with his free leg before Gag leapt in from behind and wrapped a forehoof, trying to choke the huge Changeling into submission with a sleeper hold.
Hercules flared up flames, forcing the Pegasus to leap off or be burned. Hercules promptly smashed his leg free from ice, but the opening left him vulnerable to Ellis and Screwball charging in. He raised his forelegs to intercept their strike, but the two powerful Earth Ponies managed to drive even his great strength back with some effort.
The two Earth Ponies side stepped, allowing a combined beam from Trixie and Moon Dancer to slam into the off balance General's chest and knock him backwards.
Thunderchild flew up and did a diving slash with his sword as the General recovered and blocked it with crossed hooves.
Gag attempted a sneaking stab to the knee from behind, but Hercules threw Thunderchild's slice back to allow him to block. He blocked several slashes coming from both sides before the two guards leapt out of the way as Lemon Hearts came charging in on her Angry Papa Lemon and slammed into him, driving him backwards.
As he planted his hooves and got his weight into position to wrestle the giant lemon monster, Garnet charged underneath its legs and delivered an Earth Pony strength powered headbutt to the chest, knocking him off balance enough for the Angry Papa Lemon to throw the Changeling into the wall.
"So that's what the Angry Mother Lemon looks like…" Gag muttered.
"Actually this is the Papa Lemon," Lemon Hearts replied.
"...Do you have a whole family of these things?!"
"Oh...well, then congrats…Where's the Mother?"
The Great Angry Mother Lemon roared, swatting Changelings out of the air with its long arms and trying to knock down the Castle gate with its strength.
The triplets, disguised as unicorns, looked up from assisting the rebels. Weaver was simply a brown colored version of her normal form (what the form looked like without Celestia's essence), Diver being a dark blue unicorn stallion, while Bombardier was a pink furred, yellow maned unicorn mare. "Where did that thing come from?" Weaver asked.
"One of Lemon Hearts' Familiars," replied Gingersnap, using her magic to assault the incoming Changelings with a wave of dough, allowing Weaver to shoot several. She actually seemed a tad proud. "Hard to believe her special talent is lemons, huh?" she asked. Having baked goods as a special talent wasn't exactly the most obvious choice for a teacher at the School for Gifted Unicorns. In that way, she respected Lemon Hearts.
Weaver nodded slowly, before jumping over her and blocking a strike from a Changeling and shooting him in a soft spot.
"This is a battle, we need to have each other's backs, right?"
Bombardier blocked several punches from a changeling before getting punched back. Suddenly, several rose vines wrapped around the Changeling and hurled it into several others.
"Dawn?" asked a light vermillion colored unicorn mare with a fancy, very light blue mane, a diamond necklace around her neck. "Didn't expect to see you here."
Bombardier blinked. "Floribunda? Didn't expect to see you here either."
The mare scoffed, giving a glare as she used the animated vines to fend off the Changelings attacking them. "These creatures decided to try and make us all cattle, and that includes my little girl Honey Sweet. I am not about to take that lying down. Besides, I am a Gifted Unicorn graduate, letting my power waste away would be unbecoming."
"Yeah...Though I'm sure they're not all evil…" the disguised Changeling responded. "Maybe we can make peace in the end."
"That's a...optimistic perspective…"
"Yeah…" Bombardier took advantage of Floribunda's defenses and blasted the incoming Changelings as they tried to dodge the vine swipes. "How is Honey Sweet anyway?"
"Oh, she's doing well. She wonders why you stopped being her foalsitter."
Diver had to block a Changeling diving at the older mare from behind, punching him back and giving Floribunda a chance to send the soldier flying with a swirling vortex of rose petals.
"Yeah, I got a more...stable job. Haven't had much free time to foalsit…"
"Enough chatting!" yelled an old, light blue unicorn with a black mane, her cutie mark an ink well. She blasted back several changelings with an energy beam she seemed to have some difficulty controlling the power of. Thankfully, she seemed to have enough control to keep it aimed at their opponents. "Keep in a circle! Don't let 'em get inside!"
"That's probably sound advice," said Weaver, taking a punch from a Changeling before Diver blindsided the Changeling with a kick to the groin.
"I helped fight the Shadow Queen's Invasion! Of course I know what I'm doing!"
Ginger Snap gave a small sigh and a growl, but reluctantly took the advice. While few liked to admit it, the only reason Ink Well was even here was she had taken part in that battle years ago and still had a good bit of punch. Just enough to avoid being a liability, though the others still had to protect her since an old mare couldn't take as many hits as a younger one. But her experience was still something they needed. Ginger Snap just wished the old mare would retire already for her own good, even if she mocked her from time to time.
"A ten on one fight didn't give much room for her to move, so I sent her to help the Rebels and make sure none of the troops can help Hercules."
Moondancer created two sabers out of moonlight and leapt into the fray, slashing at Hercules repeatedly. The General recovered and rapidly blocked her blows, bashing her with his armored forelegs and driving her back with relative ease. However, Noteworthy and Caramel quickly leapt over her back and gave Hercules a well placed twin headbutt to the chest, then ducked down to allow the gifted unicorn to slash the general across the chest, breaking off some of the previously corroded armor.
"Good! Keep fighting with this fire! This is what I wanted to see out of you ponies!" the General exclaimed before slamming his hooves into the ground and throwing his attackers backwards with the shockwave. He jumped after them, slamming a hoof into each of their chests and slamming them into the ground.
Before he could push his advantage, Cherry Coke charged in with a sword in his mouth and forced him back with horizontal slashes to avoid harming his teammates. The General blocked with his forelegs, even as Screwball charged in and threw several blows. He forced back their blows and sent Screwball hard to the ground with a full body uppercut. He blocked Cherry's sword on another slash, using the opening to punch him several times in the ribs before driving him back with a headbutt.
Before he could pursue his advantage on the Captain, a bolt of lightning fired. While he managed to block it with his forelegs, he grunted in pain as the shock licked the unchanged hide touching his hardened exoskeleton.
As he staggered back, Trixie followed suit with a sequence of fire spells, taking him off guard and knocking him back.
Garnet rushed to Captain Coke's side when the pony didn't instantly get back to his hooves. "You alright captain?"
"Yeah, just a little bruised up."
Hercules prepared himself for another attack, but instead found Gag manifesting directly in front of him and shoot him in the shoulder with a crossbow. The General staggered back with a roar of pain.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Since when can you do that?!)
Trixie might not be able make ponies invisible, but an illusion spell combined with stealth skills during the middle of a chaotic fight can be quite useful.
Hercules grabbed the crossbow bolt in his teeth and ripped it out. While going far shallower than it should have due to armor, he was bleeding a bit.
The General leapt into the air to dodge a follow up slash from Gag, then slammed into the ground, creating a shockwave that knocked the group off their hooves.
Trixie teleported mid fall to catch herself and fired at him with a barrage of beams the General defended against with his forelegs.
"Are you going to stay in the back letting everypony else fight for you, Element of Magic? Maybe you are second rate to Twilight Sparkle," he goaded, trying to lure her in close.
Trixie gave a furious growl and lowered her horn, charging the General. He planted his hooves and prepared for the angry mare to make a mistake as she charged her magic...then teleported directly underneath him, a spell charging with a smirk on her face.
Hercules' eyes widened as she fired a powerful energy beam directly at his chest, blasting him into the air with a considerable amount of force.
Trixie might dislike being called that, but she also knows when somepony is trying to goad her. How could she not? If you're going to intentionally goad ponies to insult you to get them on stage, you need to know when they're trying to get under your skin.
Still, I respect the effort. Most consider it too 'underhoofed' to try, but that's the thing about a fight: there's nothing wrong with playing fair and honorable, but playing dirty has its place too.
Also, she'd taken note of one of our new teammates preparing a little surprise.
Ellis finished preping a crossbow for Running Gag. "Fire in the hole!" he called.
Gag took aim and fired as Hercules fell back to earth. The Changeling General blocked with his hardened forelegs...only a small explosion went off on impact, sending him flying a small distance off course and landing hard on the ground, corroded armor scattering in the explosion.
The group panted, watching the now wounded general with weapons and horns at the ready, the explosion having cracked his exoskeleton in several places.
"Did that do it?" Captain Coke asked.
"Allow Trixie to return your own advice to you, I believe this is where you surrender."
"She's right," Coke said. "Give up, there's no point in continuing."
The changeling general pushed himself to his forehooves. "If this fight keeps going as is, I'm going to lose . . . Unfortunately, I can't allow that to happen. Not yet."
"You have nothing left, give up," Lemon Hearts said.
"Incorrect. And the Night Queen will be here within the hour, I can't afford to fight you and her at the same time. I still have one last trump card left."
With no fanfare he exploded into a pillar of green flames.
"Not again," Gag lamented, firing a crossbow bolt at Hercules which was burned up by the pillar.
"Again?!" asked Trixie, opening fire with her beam, but the pillar deflected it. 'Of course the self proclaimed stone wall wouldn't leave himself vulnerable while transforming.'
"This happened to us yesterday!"
All of the damage to Hercules' carapace was gone. He hadn't turned giant like Kabuto, but he was now even taller than before, enough that even Big Mac would have to look up at him. His carapace now had a silver gray color to it, reflecting the light. His mock unicorn horn had become something greatly resembling his namesake, looking like pincers pointing forward. His joints moved like black-gray quicksilver, Gag fired another shot, but it bounced off, not even leaving a scratch. The ponies couldn't tell if his eyes had turned to something crystalline, or if it was a protective covering, their ominous white glow wasn't helping.
Looking up, a organic faceplate closed over his mouth.
He panted lightly in a cold sweat, the transformation appearing to have been painful.
"Congratulations. I'd hoped to save this for the Night Queen. Pushed this far . . . Kabutomushi styled his form to fight against the your queen's chosen. Me? I had that sick creature make me into a living wall. I went into his lab, and left that place an equine juggernaut. Our queen is the Changelings' ultimate lance. I'm our ultimate armor . . . now let's-"
Trixie blasted the Changeling General full in the face...and he didn't even flinch. "-finish this."
"Uh oh…" Trixie muttered.
Hercules charged forwards like rhino, not even trying (or not needing) to block the attacks thrown his way. Screwball met his charge and did a flying kick to his chest. The superpowered general didn't budge an inch and grabbed her leg with his own before spinning her around and throwing her aside. Thankfully Running Gag covered her and caught her mid air.
Thunderchild and Moon Dancer both jumped in (with a normal sword and swords of moonlight respectively) and attempted several slashes, but their attacks were blocked by Hercules' armor and he retaliated with a double clothesline, knocking both to the ground. He reared back to bring his weight down on them.
Trixie and Lemon Hearts both opened fire on him from a distance, the force of the beams holding him up long enough for the two to get out of the way but otherwise not phasing him. He looked at the two and his beetle horn began to draw mana into the space between the two parts.
"Horseapples!" yelled Trixie, deciding to put up a barrier rather than teleport and leave Lemon Hearts and her lemon to tank a hit.
The energy between Hercules horns flickered before rushing in and unleashing a massive beam of green energy that forced the entire group to take cover. Trixie's shield held for a few moments before she and Lemon Hearts were forced to jump out of the way as it was shattered in a large explosion that still sent them flying.
Running Gag took a shooting position on a nearby building and began firing Ellis' explosive arrows at the General while no one was close, but even the sizeable explosions next to no damage. His wing casings opened and he spread wings, which now had a quick silver sheen to them. He took off and smashed head first into Gag's perch, forcing him to leap up as stone shattered. Before the pegasus could find cover, Hercules spun around and hammerfisted him, launching him to the ground where Garnet broke his fall with her comparably far more durable body.
Suddenly, the general was hit by a massive lightning bolt from above, causing a cascade of sparks before the bolt continued down to find ground as was its nature.
The surprisingly unharmed Changeling wasted little time and slammed into Thunderchild before he could react, punching him hard in the gut. Hercules slammed the blunt side of his horn into his back, knocking him to the ground below.
Ellis took a grenade and pulled the pin, letting the timer click for a few moments before throwing it at the powerful Changeling. This resulted in the explosion going off right in front of Hercules. The Changeling General flew through the smoke unharmed and tackled Ellis full force, throwing the Earth Pony a good distance through force alone.
Before he could press his advantage, Lemon Hearts charged forwards on the Angry Papa Lemon and had the familiar slam into him. General Hercules planted his hooves and forced his horn underneath it, using sheer power to fling both mount and rider high into the air.
The Familiar used itself to break its master's fall, some juice oozing out from the impact with the ground.
Moon Dancer tried to fire the most focused beams of moonlight as she could manage into his joints, but even they were armored. He turned towards the unicorn, collected energy in his horn, ignoring several crossbow bolts shattering on his armor. The unicorn barely managed to put up a barrier against the powerful beam. It cracked as she struggled to hold up, but it finally broke and sent the unicorn flying from the blast with a scream. The mare hit the ground hard and didn't get back up.
Garnet rushed to her and checked her. She was still alive, but out cold. Garnet's first priority was to get her the buck out of the line of fighting! WAS there a safe spot in this chaos? And after that, she had to do some quick treatment for head trauma!
Noteworthy, Caramel, Cherry Coke tackled Hercules to drive him back before he could charge Garnet, trying to find a chink in his armor with combat knives but there were none. The General shoved them back and charged, slamming his front hooves into their chests and slamming them into the ground with a Changeling battle cry.
Trixie teleported in front of him and used a wind blow the General backwards and let her allies get out of the way.
Hercules planted his hooves and marched forwards. Trixie growled and turned her wind spell to an ice one and froze the General in a pillar of solid ice.
"Did that stop him?" Thunderchild asked, getting back to his hooves after recovering from being knocked out of the air.
Hercules' horn began powering up, melting the ice around him before firing out and forcing his opponents to hit the dirt to avoid the beam that blew a hole in the building behind them.
The General used his horn to smash the ice imprisoning him and leapt out, taking Trixie off guard and nailing her in the face with a right hook followed by several punches to check before aiming blow at her horn.
Thunderchild intercepted and blocked with his sword, grunting against the force of the powerful Changeling's blows. "You alright?" he asked Trixie.
"Trixie spent years making her face a target, she knows how to take a punch," the unicorn replied.
Gag joined in in blocking Hercules punches with swords and a lot of effort, then was forced to join Thunderchild in holding back Hercules' massive horn when he attempted a strike from it. The two grunted against the mutated Changeling's brute force before Thunderchild noted the water from the melted ice. "Gag! Trixie! Fall back!" he yelled.
Trixie put a hoof on Gag's shoulder and teleported them both back as Thunderchild flared his wings and jumped back, pumping a massive amount of lightning into the water Hercules was standing in, causing sparks to fly in all directions across the Changeling's form.
Trixie blinked as she and Gag reappeared. "I thought Pegasi needed clouds to generate that much lightning!"
"Not Thunderchild," Gag replied with a smirk. "Gifted Pegasus."
Thunderchild panted as the smoke from his assault cleared...and Hercules lept through the smoke and tackled him harshly to the ground, delivering several hard punches to the face and bloodying the pegasus' nose.
"You're an impressive soldier, but I've got to get through this to go help my queen," stated the General, raising both hooves up and trying to bring them down on Thunderchild's head to knock him out.
A returned Garnet suddenly jumped on his back to stop him, staggering him over Thunderchild and allowing the Sergeant to get out of the way. The Earth Pony wrapped her hooves around the general's thick neck and attempted a sleeper hold, but the Changeling's armor was too thick to let her constrict his windpipe.
"Trying to choke me out? Smart move," Hercules replied in a generally impressed tone as he reached back and grabbed her by the mane and threw her over him and hard into the ground with enough force to crack the concrete.
Gag tackled Hercules before he could press his advantage on his downed fiancee, adrenaline pumping and giving him the extra strength needed to force the Changeling back. He threw several punches with enough strength to force him back (though not hurt him).
Hercules gave a genuinely intrigued smirk beneath his mouth plate. "Protecting your love? Good! That's what I like to see!"
Gag blinked. "How did-"
Hercules punched the Corporal mid sentence, knocking him next to the rising Garnet who caught him. "My species eat love, remember? I can smell it." he replied with no signs of mocking in his tone.
The General pounced on the couple, but Cherry Coke leapt over them and headbutted the General, barely budging him. The Captain attempted to stab Hercules in the eye, hoping it'd actually hurt him, but the Changeling held up his leg, letting the sword go through the hole in it. He twisted his leg and locked the blade. Before Coke could free himself Hercules punched the Cherry repeatedly in the face to stun him before taking the opportunity to snap the sword. Before Cherry could recover, the Changeling General wrapped his legs around the now open front leg and used every ounce of strength he had to wrench it in the wrong direction at the knee joint.
Cherry Coke screamed in agony as his leg made a sickening snap.
Trixie teleported in a second too late and shot a fireworks spell in Hercules' face, blinding him for a moment. "Trixie believes the correct phrase is man down!"
Lemon Hearts slammed the Angry Papa Lemon into Hercules to hold him back while Garnet rushed to check on Captain Coke and hurried him off to the side to check on him.
Hercules grinned under his faceplate. "I like your determination, but I can't let this go on much longer!" He planted his hooves and clamped his pincer like horn down on the Angry Papa Lemon's arm and tore it off the lemon, resulting in a scream of agony and it staggering backwards, 'bleeding' lemon juice.
His horn drawing in mana, the General aimmed his beam at the familiar with intent to blow it to bits.
To his surprise, Lemon Hearts de-summoned her familiar in an instant, looking a bit relieved when the beam flew harmlessly into the air.
"I thought you said your familiars' essence just returned to you if destroyed. Why the worry?"
"Experiencing dying doesn't get easier."
Before the surprised General could react, Gag flew in and picked Lemon Hearts off the ground as Thunderchild and Trixie rained lightning down on the now lemon juice soaked ground, turning the Changeling General into a light show. Lemon Hearts' horn lit up and the lemon juice suddenly burst into flames.
"What the Tartarus?!" Trixie asked in surprise as the Changeling General was engulfed in flames.
"Lemons are mildly flammable, I made them combustible," the mage replied.
Hercules, however, flew out of the fire...also on fire.
"Great! Now he's unstoppable AND on fire!" Gag yelled, having to dodge the flaming general. Thankfully, however, being on fire and covered in smoke made seeing difficult even if the flames didn't hurt him and he latched onto a building, trying to put himself out.
Thunderchild took advantage of the situation to fly down to check on Garnet and Captain Coke.
"How's the Captain?" he asked.
"Not good, Hercules broke his leg, sarge," replied Garnet grimly. "I treated it as best I could, but he's not doing any fighting for awhile."
Coke looked up at Thunderchild. "...You two, go deal with that guy."
"Sir, you're hurt, we can't just-"
"I can't fight with a broken leg and it doesn't matter if you heal me if he beats us all, right?" asked Cherry Coke, dead seriously. "So go fight him and come back for me later! I'll be fine! That is an order!"
The two moved Cherry Coke off to the side before rushing back into the battle, (at least he could keep an eye on Moon Dancer until she regained consciousness, hopefully it was just shock, thank goodness for pony thick skulls). Gag found himself thrown to the ground along with Lemon Hearts and Trixie was currently throwing as many spells as she could try at the gracefully no longer on fire General Hercules.
Hercules broke free of magically generated restraints and punched her in the stomach before slaming her into the ground. She teleported away before he could finish her, but had clearly taken her fair share of bruises.
"Alright, nothing else is working, time for the big gun! Everypony hit the deck!" yelled Ellis, finally taking the device him and Bombardier had created off his back where it'd been stored the entire time and taking aim, making sure there was no one standing behind him. He fired and some sort of projectile launched out like a rocket, slamming full force into the Changeling General's chest, causing a massive explosion.
Everycreature stared in shock, jaws dropping. "What the Tartarus was that?!" yelled Trixie in shock.
"Home made bazooka."
"...You built a bazooka?"
"Regular Maregyver, aren't you?"
Hercules suddenly rushed out of the smoke and tackled Garnet, sending the medic flying a good distance. What was left of his golden armor that hadn't been destroyed in the original battle or by his transformation had been destroyed in the explosion, but the only noticeable damage was a large scorch mark on his chest. He turned and fired his horn beam at Trixie, shattering the shield she put up and forcing her to teleport away with a bit of magical backlash. Gag and Thunderchild tried to attack him, but received a buck from the General, knocking them into Ellis, Caramel, and Noteworthy, then jumped and came down on Lemon Hearts, tackling her to the ground.
He prepared to slam his weight down on her to finish her off before the rest of the group could get back up…and suddenly found a tendril-like limb wrapped around his midsection.
The Great Angry Mother Lemon roared in fury and smashed its mother's attacker into the ground repeatedly before throwing him through the side of a teddy-bear store.
The massive creature picked up its mother and gave a worried whimper.
"You...you came to help me?" the startled Gifted Unicorn asked. The massive familiar nodded. "But...I didn't order you to...I didn't need to, did I?"
The familiar shook its head.
"Sarge!" yelled Weaver, leaping down from the Lemon with her siblings, now in their guard forms.
Thunderchild blinked. "What the-"
"The big lemon saw a giant explosion and started over here," Bombardier replied. "We figured it was you and followed."
The Sergeant nodded with a chuckle. "Thanks, we need some backup."
"I'll say, you guys look like you've taken a beating," Diver replied.
Trixie teleported over. "I'm not going to ask who you are, Trixie is simply happy to have backup."
"Uh, this is Trixie, long s-"
Hercules fired his beam out of the rubble, grazing the Great Mother Lemon and forcing her back, erupting out of the rubble uninjured.
"...Okay, I swear to Celestia we didn't know he could do that," said Weaver, looking at the General. "That's Hercules?!"
Thunderchild nodded. "Yeah...Guys, drop your disguises, we need you to use everything you've got."
"...You sure Sarge?" Diver asked, looking at their allies as Hercules took flight and headed back to the battlefield.
"Yeah, this isn't a situation for explaining, but it's not one for infighting either."
The three Changelings shed their disguises in a burst of orange flame.
"Changelings?!" Lemon Hearts asked.
"Don't attack! They're on our side!"
"Oh, I knew that, it was just surprising."
"Their magic is orange, not green. Changelings' magic matches their leader."
"...Okay, how do you know that?"
Trixie chuckled. "We've got a heroic Changeling too, she's just not here."
Before more could be said, Hercules slammed back on the battlefield and shook off what was left of the rubble, looking at the three Changelings.