• Published 20th Nov 2015
  • 3,999 Views, 188 Comments

Shadowed Bolts - Shadowmane PX-41

At first, things seemed to return to normal after the end of the Friendship Games. But for Indigo Zap, Sugarcoat, Sour Sweet, Lemon Zest, and Sunny Flare, there is no doubt in their minds that CPA had gotten much, much worse...

  • ...

Chapter 4: Looking the Part

"I'm all for dressing up in Defector clothing to look the part, but do we really have to have our hairs done as well?" Rarity asked as the Shadowbolts walked her and her friends towards the nearby barbershop. The Rainbooms were now dressed in the old CPA uniforms, which had been generously loaned to them by the Crystal Prep girls.

"The Defectors might be able to pass you off if you wear the clothes, but they could very well recognize your hair. Especially yours, Rarity." Sugarcoat examined the hairstyles of Sunset Shimmer and the rest of her friends as they all turned a corner. "If you're truly going to go undercover, then it's only logical that you also have a new hairstyle that goes with the new clothes."

"But it's not just the hair that's going to need to change if you're going to fool them," Sunny Flare added. "To truly become Defectors, you will need to cast aside your pity for the CPA students, become rough-and-tumble bruisers, and show your undying loyalty to whatever they have planned."

"What Sunny's trying to say is that you girls are gonna have to go through some acting as well." Indigo put her hands behind her head. "But don't worry about that now. First order of business is to make you our eyes and ears for those bullies."

Eventually, the girls had all arrived at a lone building that stood out with a single barber pole hanging out from the wall. The constant spiral of red and white colours was mildly hypnotizing to the group as they approached the establishment.

The interior of the shop was very well-kept. The black and white tile floors did have some hairs on them, but they were almost immediately swept up and disposed when the staff caught notice of it. All of the equipment was neatly lined up in front of the chairs, and both the hand and large mirrors were free of mist, grime, and streaks.

The staff, who were all wearing white shirts with black suspenders, were clipping the hairs of their current customers, making sure not to cut off large chunks or damage it. They neatly applied sprays of water, combed the hair up, held up the strands, and safely cut them away.

"I know that you girls are all fond of your current hairstyles, but you have to understand that this is one of the only ways we're gonna get you into the ranks of the Defectors." Twilight looked in the mirror at her new hairstyle. It took her a while to appreciate because of the many thoughts buzzing in her head, but she finally smiled as she saw how much different she looked.

"As soon as this is over, you can put your hair back the way you like it," Sunny Flare watched as the Rainbooms to sit down in the waiting area. "And don't worry if you feel like you can't act. We'll talk you all through it."

Another member of staff had noticed the twelve girls waiting and came over to greet them. "Well, hello there," he said. "My name is Skin Deep, and I would like to personally welcome you to our humble little barbershop." He pulled out a little notepad and pencil. "So, what can I put you girls down for?"

"Actually, what hairstyles will we need, girls?" Sunset asked Sugarcoat and the rest of the Crystal Preppers.

"I think we have a few ideas..." Sugarcoat smiled.

"Not to act like the sour grape in all of this, but I feel ridiculous." Applejack facepalmed as she examined her new look in the mirror. She was now devoid of her hat, and now had a green apple hairclip in place of it. Her hair was slightly more curled as it fell down her neck and shoulders.

"Do I really have to do this?" Fluttershy watched as a few strands of her hair were dyed black. Afterwards, they were brushed down and straightened. "I'm not a meanie like those Defectors are. They'll see straight through me. Oh. I'm just going to be a liability to the team, aren't I?"

"It'll be fine, Fluttershy." Indigo put a hand on the shivering girl's shoulder. "You're not gonna get busted. We'll make sure of that."

A loud scream resonated throughout the shop as Rarity was finally allowed to see herself. Her traditional curled hair had been straightened to the point where it would remain like that forever. "I look atrocious!"

"Chill out, Rarity." Rainbow Dash helped her off the chair. "I don't like it either, but do you really see me whining and complaining about it?"

"But I look like someone who's been out of style for years! How could I possibly feel better about—" it was then that she noticed Rainbow's new hairstyle. It was no longer her usual look, and was now curled up, like monstrous teeth trying to eat her "—oh. I stand corrected. Forgive me for my outburst, Rainbow Dash."

"How do we look, girls?" Applejack asked as she approached Sugarcoat and Sunny Flare.

"Wow. I think we even impressed ourselves with this plan," Sunny looked on with a smile at how much different the girls had become. If it weren't for their voices and faces, they almost could have been mistaken for entirely different people. "You've definitely got the look down, Applejack. Now you've just gotta play a convincing act to get those Defectors to answer you."

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again, girls. Acting's not my strong point." Fluttershy blew one of the drooping strands of her new hair out of her face. "All it takes is one slip up, then those meanies will be after us as well as you. And if that does happen, it'll be impossible to make Crystal Prep a better place."

"Alright, say we do get into the Defectors' ranks and we put up a good act. But then they start something that they need everyone's help on." Sunset was having the hair on her back tied up in a ponytail with her Cutie Mark on it. "What do we do then?"

"You'll have to convince them that there are more urgent matters than fighting the Changelings that you need to attend to." Sugarcoat was quick to provide an answer. "The easiest way to do that is to tell them that you have things with your families or religions that cannot be avoided. This is the only way the Defectors let their allies free, and will be your metaphorical panic button for if you want to duck out of a brawl between Chrysalis's disciplinarians."

"Anyway, we're still waiting on Pinkie Pie." Lemon Zest saw that the staff were working especially hard on the pink girl. Chunks of hair were snipped off, and to their surprise, a lot of the objects that had been stowed away in it fell out as well. "Geez. Does she always do that?"

"It's Pinkie Pie. Best not to question it," Sunset chuckled.

Pinkie finally came out of the chair looking entirely different. Her hair was no longer poofy and bouncy as it was before, and was now entirely straight and tidy and had a small hairclip with an even smaller balloon on it. Her expression was still positive, but the way she looked was the complete opposite. It looked like she was a depressed punk who was smiling for the first time.

"Uhh, girls? Am I the only one who thinks Pinkie Pie looks the most different out of all of us?" Applejack examined Pinkie thoroughly. With the shortened, straightened, and negative-looking haircut, she looked like someone who had replaced her for a thug.

"I know, right?" Pinkie still had her hyperactive personality. "At first, I thought there's no way that my hair would ever lose it's pinkalicious style, but I guess I was wrong, huh?"

"Focus, Pinkie Pie." Sugarcoat put her hand on the girl's chin to calm her down. "You're gonna be caught on the spot if you act that way around our enemies."

"Aww man! You mean I gotta act like this?" Pinkie's smile immediately faded, and she put on a gruff voice. "Well that takes the fun out of this completely! Just another reason why Chrysalis has to fall!" she put her smile back on. "How was that?"

"It's a good start, but some of the Defectors are a little sadistic, and often laugh in the faces of their victims," Sour Sweet said before changing to her cruel side. "But when we finally win this conflict, who'll be laughing then?!"

"Patience, Sour Sweet." Sugarcoat helped the rest of the Rainbooms dust off some of the dirt on the uniforms. "We have all the time we need," she furrowed her brows once the deed was done. "Now that we've got our actresses, all we need now is to teach them how to act."

The lights were turned on in an abandoned warehouse where the Rainbooms and the Shadowbolts had agreed to do their training. The room was expansive, allowing plenty of space for each of the seven girls to work without fear of being isolated. The ceiling was also thirty or so metres from the ground—the kind of height that would be expected from a tall roller-coaster. The sounds of the footsteps of the five Crystal Prep students echoed throughout as they circled Sunset and the girls from Canterlot High.

"If this seems kinda hostile, then we're sorry in advance," Indigo said. "But just consider this as the first step in handling Defectors who surround you. You're gonna need to keep a cool head when these guys surround you. One sign of weakness, and they all get the jump on you. Just. Like..." She waited until Fluttershy sneezed before pouncing towards her, causing the butter yellow girl to yelp. "THAT!"

"If you find yourself in this position, wait until they talk to you, but don't lose your composure," Sunny Flare instructed. "They don't usually attack unless you make them angry, or if you quiver in fear at their menacing movements."

"Now, Twilight, since you and the rest of us are at the top of the Defectors' hit list, you're exempt from the training, but you may still watch to see how the girls get on," Sugarcoat looked into the distance to see the purple girl staring at the group of eleven teens with mixed emotions.

"You have the costumes and hairstyles, but that won't be worth anything without proving to those brutes that you're one of them," Sour Sweet spoke next. "If you're gonna get into their territory, you will need to throw away everything you know about friendship and the magic it holds. Become rough, become mean, become a monster. That way, you'll easily fit in and learn everything you need to know about them." As she and the other Shadowbolts continued to circle the Rainbooms, she had her gaze fixated on one girl in particular. "Fluttershy, you'll be going first."

"Umm... Okay." Fluttershy stood up slowly, then looked Sour Sweet in the eyes as the other Shadowbolts stopped what they were doing and allowed the two of them to stand together.

There was a long silence as Fluttershy and Sour Sweet took their places. The two girls looked each other in the eye before Sour let out a deep breath.

"Threaten me, Fluttershy," she said.

Fluttershy's eyes darted around the room before she finally looked back at her. "Me, bully you?"

Sour Sweet let out a small groan, "Threaten me."

"I'm not sure that this is the way to—"

"THREATEN ME!" Sour screamed at the top of her voice.

"Alright!" Fluttershy took some more breaths before curling both of her hands into fists. She sweated for a little bit before she swallowed and stepped towards Sour Sweet. "Hey there, um, little baby. I'm gonna, um, punch you unless you—"

"Oh, come on, Fluttershy, you've gotta act tougher than that." Sour had pushed Fluttershy backwards a little. "I mean, you're playing a Defector, not a doormat." She bent her front knee and took up her own attack stance. "You're acting tough, tenacious, intimidating. You want to be pushed around?! You're gonna be the one doing the pushing!" Her fists tightened up. "Now, threaten me!"

"That's enough, Sour Sweet!" Applejack called out from the background. "You're scaring her!"

Sour looked at the whimpering girl, then calmed herself. "I'm sorry, Fluttershy. It's just that this could be our one and only chance for finally stopping this fighting," her voice was mellifluous as she explained why she had been hostile. "There has to be no margin for error, from you and the rest of your friends."

"Sour Sweet's right. This needs to work if we're ever gonna find a way to stop this madness," Sugarcoat said. "You all need to learn that not everyone in the world likes you, and despite the fact that it's immoral, there are some times where we have to fight."

"But at the same time, you don't have to fight just to try and outdo your enemies," Indigo said. "There are times where you have to defend yourselves from them."

"Sorry, girls," said Applejack. "I guess it's just cause we're not really used to having physical fights." She stood up and took her hat off. "Every problem we've had at Canterlot High, including what happened at the Fall Formal, the Battle of the Bands, and the Friendship Games, we resolved them with of magic, not violence."

"Having to inflict pain on others, be it physical, psychological, or both only makes things worse," Sunset Shimmer said. "Only when we can truly reach out and connect with them can we understand their suffering and help them get over it. If we leave it to fester for too long, then who knows what they could do?"

"As Indigo said earlier, you have to forgive us if we're acting hostile towards you." Sugarcoat looked over at Twilight, who was still just watching. "Unlike Twilight, we don't know a whole lot about Friendship. The Games only shone a little light after that battle between the forces of light and darkness, but other than that, we've never taken the pacifistic route. And with the Defectors continuing to hurt the other students, it seems like we may never get the chance to take that road."

"But maybe together, we can show them that the true way to defeat your enemies is by making friends with them," Sunset smiled. "By coming to an understanding and bonding with them, we can help them to get over the ideas of violence and harm."

After another lengthy silence, Sugarcoat stepped forward. "Sunset. You're a noble girl with a big heart, and it's both an honour and a privilidge to have you and your friends with us," she said. "Your noble ways might just save Crystal Prep and you've got your friends to thank for it," she walked behind each of the Rainbooms. "We hope that you and the girls can still be our friends even after the Defectors are defeated."

"Of course," Sunset said. "Now, let's get back to the training."

When everyone had quietened down, Sour Sweet stepped backwards and allowed Fluttershy some breathing room. "If it makes it any easier, think about something horrible, and that I've just committed it. Like the murder of some cute little animals. How would you respond to that?"

"You murdered animals?!" Fluttershy immediately had fire in her eyes as she tackled Sour Sweet. "I'm gonna kill you, you piece of—"

"Okay! Okay!" she practically had to struggle to avoid being punched by Fluttershy at this point. She waited until the butter yellow girl came to her senses before she gently pushed her off and stood back up. "It's a start, I'll give you that. But the Defectors are only that hostile when they need to be."

"I know, and I'm sorry for tackling you like that, Sour Sweet." Fluttershy checked to see if she had made any bruises. "It's just that you provoked me and I had no choice but to do it."

"But that's okay, because most Defectors will do that if something makes them steamed," Sour Sweet walked her over to another part of the warehouse. "Now, let's try and improve your acting a little."

"I suppose that means we're left with the rest of you." Sugarcoat crossed her arms. "Indigo, you'll be teaching Sunset and Rainbow Dash, since they're logically going to be the easiest to work with."

"Sure. Two for the price of one can't be much different now, can it?" Indigo helped both Sunset and Rainbow off of their chairs and took them over to another different part of the warehouse.

"Lemon will teach Pinkie, whilst Sunny Flare does the same with Rarity," Sugarcoat continued, getting the four girls to stand up. "I'm putting your training regimes together, as Lemon Zest and I assume Pinkie Pie often get distracted. I trust that's not an issue for any of you?"

"It's fine, Sugarcoat." Sunny Flare escorted the others to yet another part of the warehouse. "I promise that by the time we're done, these two will be perfect Defector material."

"So that just leaves you with me, Applejack." Sugarcoat walked over and held out her left hand. "I have the most knowledge on these ruffians, so you should have the quickest session if you can master your role."

"Fine by me." Applejack took Sugarcoat's hand and stood up.

"If the time comes when you do have to fight, then you'll need to learn nothing more than the best." Indigo Zap wore a white coat with a black belt as she eyed up both Sunset and Rainbow. "At Crystal Prep, we're taught a number of self-defence courses after-school. They include Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, and my personal favourite, Jiu-Jitsu."

"How does learning martial arts defend you against Defectors?" Sunset asked, before she was pulled forward and thrown over Indigo's shoulder onto a crash mat in the distance.

"Like that, Sunset."

"So, how do we beat those jerks to a pulp if the going gets really tough?" Rainbow Dash raised a brow.

"I'll only teach you the basics for now." Indigo helped Sunset back onto her feet before having her reunite with Rainbow Dash. "If the Defectors really start to give you grief, I'll teach you some more advanced stuff. And the best part, this is free of charge," she smiled. "Consider it Crystal Prep's first step towards redemption."

Pinkie Pie and Rarity were casually leaning against the cold walls whilst Sunny Flare and Lemon Zest pulled out a small chalkboard and began to write. As the two girls from Canterlot High watched the two Crystal Preppers, they couldn't help but notice that one of them was missing her headphones.

"Indy might be teaching self-defence, but it's gonna take a lot more than that to truly become a Defector," Sunny Flare said. "Now, take note of the sentences we've written on the board for you." She stepped aside to reveal the messages she and Lemon Zest had written. "Change is a lie. Victory lies in defection. The rules do not bind our unbroken wills. These are just a few lines that those monsters yell out as a sign of loyalty and strength, and they're what you're gonna have to learn and recite by heart with joy if you want to slip into their numbers."

"First, we're gonna tell you them, then you'll have to take everything you've learned and slip it into your new guises." Lemon Zest folded her arms. "It's kind of like having a language lesson, don't you think?"

"Kinda, but we'll be learning to talk Defector," Pinkie smiled. "It's like we're in some kind of spy school!"

"It might seem a bit garish, I admit," Rarity let out a sigh. "But if it's to infiltrate the ranks of those heathens, then I might as well dirty my tongue with their philosophies."

"Good to hear it." Sunny Flare rubbed away the old sentences and began to write some new ones on the board. "Now, those are mere slogans for when the group is rallying themselves." She put the chalk down once she had finished. "Remember: What you say can be what you want, just as long as it's not giving away our espionage, or talking about mending fences with the Changelings and the students of CPA."

"Wait? When did mending fences get involved?" Pinkie Pie shrugged.

"It's a figure of speech, Pinkie," Lemon said. "But seriously, you will need to talk like a perfect Defector if you're gonna stand any chance of making in and out of there unharmed."

"Tell me, Fluttershy," Sour Sweet said. "What makes you angry?"

"Anyone who hurts an animal of any description, people who threaten the environment, terrorists who kill for their own gains, and just average bullies." Fluttershy listed each one them by pulling her fingers outward with her right hand. "Why do you ask?"

"I know that it goes against your name and nature, Fluttershy, but you will need to think that everyone around you is committing crimes against animals, nature, and life." Sour Sweet crossed her arms. "The Defectors are all about contempt for the common student, and usually act in a brutal fashion towards anyone who's not on their side." She started to pace back and forth. "Even weak and shy kids have been turned into violent fighters when under their command. Knowing you, it won't be hard for them to convert you from a wimp into a scrapper as well."

"Oh my..." Fluttershy's pupils dilated.

"What I'm going to teach you will ensure that you learn how to become mean, but not to the point where you'll be doing it for fun." Sour examined each of Fluttershy's arms, picking them up to check her strength, then let go and watched them flop back down her sides. "You'll need to learn to punch, how to hate the people you bully, and how to deny peaceful resolution. Basically everything they would have taught you anyway, but not to the point where they make you a sadist who longs to see the anguish of others."

"So, you want me to start picking on you?" Fluttershy asked.

"Yes," Sour spoke softly. "But don't worry. I won't get mad," she immediately lowered her brows. "Unless you start screaming profanities about me and my family, then I'll get furious," she quickly put a smile back on. "Now, let's see if you can threaten me better this time."

"What do you know about the Defectors, Sugarcoat?" Applejack turned one of her ears towards her.

"They always pick on the weakest students in the school, leaving the already big and tough guys until later, when they have more numbers to break their wills." Sugarcoat adjusted her glasses once again. "They believe in strength in numbers, complete control of Crystal Prep Academy, and will stop at nothing under the guidance of their king and queen."

"King and queen?"

"They dubbed the two most tactical students in their group to be their leaders. Led by Blueblood, who was the first to start talk about rebellion; and Starlight Glimmer, who supplied the Defectors with the uniforms as a sign of loyalty. All their orders are final, and they will not be so easily persuaded, unlike the others. If they notice that something's off, they will call it out. That includes if you and your friends fail to keep up their guises."

"Blueblood and Starlight?" Twilight walked up towards Applejack and Sugarcoat. "I heard they were exceptional, and just second to my scores on tests, but I never knew that they would be the ones leading the charge in this rebellion..."

"They immediately saw the negative side of Chrysalis's new rule in CPA, and the rules that she had abolished from Cinch's old regime." Sugarcoat briefly brushed her hair. "They rallied some of the students to take up arms and denounce her of her power as principal, and it didn't take long before they had enlisted twenty-eight percent of the school's students to be in the Defectors."

"Twenty-eight percent?!" Twilight stumbled backwards a little before Applejack helped her recover.

"And today, thirty-eight percent of the students belong to them, with another thirty-eight percent as Changelings," Sugarcoat sighed as she looked up. "As for the other twenty-four percent? They keep getting themselves caught in the crossfire." She took off her glasses and clenched them tightly in her right hand. "This has to stop, before the law has to get involved to put an end to it permanently..." After her brief moment, she returned the glasses to her eyes before putting her fingers together. "I'll tell you girls all that I know about them, as well as how to keep them off of your tail."

"Thanks, Sugarcoat." Applejack tipped her hat. "You know, you five are real nice for Crystal Preppers."

"The Friendship Games helped us see the light, and now we're striving for a better CPA, just like you all long for a perfect CHS," Sugarcoat smiled. "Hopefully, our two schools can come together again someday, but as friends instead of enemies..."

Each of the Canterlot High students took on everything that the Shadowbolts had to teach them. Every time that they had mastered what they needed to learn, Sugarcoat announced that they would switch places, so that each of them would learn all that they needed to know to perfectly disguise themselves as Defectors.

With every switch that was made, the students from both schools were smiling. Despite the fact that they were preparing for their own stealth mission, they were still glad to see that their rivals in the Games had finally met without the rivalry keeping them apart, and were helping them overcome each and every obstacle that stood in their path.

Twilight merely watched from the sidelines, with multiple thoughts running through her head as she picked up her backpack and let Spike out of it. She petted him, then sat down and sighed.

"What's wrong, Twilight?" Spike asked.

"Sorry, Spike. It's just that I'm nervous about how this could play out," Twilight looked him in the eyes. "If this goes horribly wrong, my friends could end up getting hurt, or even worse, being put in hospital!"

"Twilight. I know you, and I know your new friends as well. They won't fail. Especially not with your old classmates teaching them almost everything about the Defectors."

"But that's what's bothering me the most. These Defectors are nothing like Cinch ever was. They're about a hundred times worse, and are all about fighting, breaking the rules, and causing grief for the students in any way possible! We went from a vile principal with cold ambitions, to an rebellious group of students who fight for the thrill of it, in the hopes that they'll bring her back to power!"

"We'll beat them, Spike." Sugarcoat walked over and petted him softly. "Our little proteges are working quite well." She then picked him up and brought him to her face. "Trust me." She then gave him back to Twilight and returned to the rest of the Rainbooms, who were now sitting down on regular chairs.

Sunset, Rainbow, Fluttershy, Pinkie, Rarity, and Applejack watched as the Shadowbolts stood in a line once again. An third silence – being the longest one of all – was had until Sugarcoat stepped forward and cleared her throat.

"Final question. The Defectors are planning to drop cherry bombs into the toilets designated for Chrysalis, Dean Cadence, and the prefects of Crystal Prep," She said. "What is your response, and how will you show your devotion to the Defectors?"

"We agree to their heinous scheme, and point out the best times to plant the cherry bombs," Sunset Shimmer spoke up first. "However, to prove that we're truly on their side, we take all of the bombs and plant them ourselves. When they all detonate and those thugs see the staff reacting in surprise, they will hail us for what we did, and truly accept us into their community."

"You're ready," Indigo smirked.

"Really?" Rainbow asked.

"Yes. You're shown to each of us that you can be really mean when you want to, and that you all make good Defectors," Sunny Flare watched each of the girls stood up. "If anything, it's like we're looking at a world where you had enrolled at Crystal Prep during Cinch's time, and we were at Canterlot High instead of you."

"So, what's our plan?" Rarity looked at the Shadowbolts.

"The Defectors usually have little groups at each of the parts of the school they've taken." Sugarcoat showed them the map again with the areas still covered up in purple pen ink. "Art Room, Music Room, Gym, even the AV Room." She pointed each one out. "Now, while these places are their hotspots, we're going to get you into the biggest Defector site in the school: the cafeteria's mezzanine."

"Every Defector in CPA goes there during lunch period, with Starlight and Blueblood sitting at a single table where no-one else is allowed to sit, unless they're given special praise personally," Sour Sweet added. "You don't have to sit with the two of them, you can choose to sit where you like, but if anything, you should sit within large groups, so that you can persuade more of them. Make a big splash, not a small one."

"But it won't be easy, and if they catch you, they could very well kick you down the stairs and leave you injured like they did with Fleur yesterday," Lemon Zest warned them. "You will have to put on your best act to fool them, and gain their trust."

"But what happens if things get out of control?" Fluttershy raised a finger.

"We'll be contacting you at all times through these small earpieces." Sunny Flare held out six little earbuds that were just big enough to fit in the ears of the girls, but were small enough to avoid detection from the naked eye. "Sugarcoat and Twilight will keep a close eye on you using the special GPS chips in those little things." She watched as each of the Rainbooms slipped the small speakers into their ears. "If they catch you, say the codeword 'Game Over' and we'll pull the fire alarm. It's been modified to volumes that no Defector – not even Starlight and Blueblood – can handle."

"So when they catch you, give us the signal, and we'll deafen those meanies!" Lemon Zest fist-pumped. "Then we can get you out of those eyesores and slip you back into your real clothes before they even get a chance to recover."

"When do we start?" Sunset asked.

"Tomorrow at 12:50PM," Sugarcoat said. "That's the earliest we can begin."

"Well, I guess we'd better get ready." Sunset shook hands with each of the Shadowbolts. "See you tomorrow."

"One more thing, girls," Sugarcoat saw they were just about to walk out of the door, but her words had made them stop in their tracks. "Just because you act like Defectors, that doesn't mean you're not yourselves anymore," she said. "Be true to yourself, and when it's all over, you never have to think about having that persona again."

Sunset gave Sugarcoat, Indigo, Lemon, Sunny, and Sour smiles before she took Twilight and the rest of the Rainbooms out of the warehouse and back to their homes. However, as she looked back at the girls for the last time that day, a small part of her wished that there was another way to stop the feud between the Defectors and the Changelings.

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