"...I'm sorry..."

"You should be."

"...I'm sorry..."

"Tell that to his mom."

"I will, Fury. If we get out of here, I will do that in person."

"I wish I had something snarky to say, but… I just want you to stab yourself in the eye."

*Shhhhh.*

"Yes, Fury."

"Put that sword away, dumbass, that wasn't an order. Where the heck is Bladehoof?"

"Do you think they got her?"

"Nah, unless she got terribly unlucky. She wouldn't be a priority target."

"Whiz- I mean Whistling Wing, she bit me… I even pondered it for a moment… but I was so happy, and-"

"And then it was too late. Crest, I know how it works."

"...and I could have said something the first time you mentioned her..."

"What?"

"Nothing, Crest. When Bladehoof brings Palisade I need both of you to take her out as fast as possible so that nopony has a chance to use a weapon. I'll bite her, and we'll run. What are the best ways out of the city, Crest?"

"Train or a caravan, but wait, can't we do something? We're the only ones who can save-"

"They know about me, Crest. They know about my suspiciously friendly relationship with you and the police. I am still full of Puff's love, but I don't have the strength to get enough ponies under my control for it to matter. My venom is concentrated and powerful, but that advantage will go away if I overdo it, and any other changeling will override it eventually. No, I have a better plan."

"Really?"

"Yes. Our escape is the key, and not only that, it has to be our public escape. The changelings have to know we got out."

"Why? That just puts us in more danger. If we sneak away and inform guards in nearby settlements-"

"How long do you think it'll take for a decisive action to be mounted? By the time we get to a big city, they call for help to Canterlot, then some stupid organizing of soldiers, and after that the march back to Riverside - there will be nopony left."

"And what will our public escape help?"

"Changelings have no idea how long the retaliation will take, they can only guess and we can bluff. If they know somepony is leaving to get help, they will likely feed as much as they can over a day or two, and then fly away to hide in a hole somewhere. I don't think kidnapping the whole population will be a viable option under a time limit."

"Likely?"

"That, or they will kill everypony out of spite."

"Fury!"

"WHAT? Seriously, Crest, what the fuck do you want me to do?! I can't magically spawn a pink bubble which will blow hundreds of changelings out of town, make them fly into the sky, and then go splat on the ground. Doing that would be monstrous."

"Point taken. Still..."

"Yeah, you want to protect your ponies just like I would protect changelings who needed my help, and the worst part is that these guys DO. However, most of them wouldn't listen or care about my experiences with you. I don't have a better idea than to flee and put a timed threat on the ones trying to take over the town, and neither do you."

"I-"

"Stupid fantasy heroism aside."

*Sigh.*

"You're right..."

"Good, now take a deep breath, make the same calm and detached face you made when you killed Puff, and do what I need you to do."

"You really didn't need to mention that."

"I DID, Crest. I want you to stew in what you did, and I won't forget as long as I live."

"Don't you think I feel the same?"

"I don't care, Crest. I might feel for you tomorrow if we survive, but now I want you to suffer, and I can't do it physically because I need you. So, as soon as Palisade and Bladehoof arrive through the front door, I'm ordering both of you to tackle and immobilize her."

"Yes, Fury."

"THEN you will explain what happened, because Bladehoof will try to rip my head off as soon as she finds out."

"I will tell them everything, don't worry."

*Click.* *Careful hoofsteps.*

"...you'll get your chance, Crest..."

"...I know. Do we meet them or wait...?"

"...do you want the first thing they see be Puff's body...?"

"...understood, let's go..."

"...lead me..."

"...alright, can I use my wing or will you threaten to rip it off again..."

"...no time for bullshit, Crest, move..."

*Tap tap tap.*

"It's us!"

"Coming, Bladehoof."

*Click.*

"Now!"

"Wha-? Ah! Blade-? Cre-aaaah?!"

*Thump!* *Thud!*

"The hay do you think you're doing? Wait, SHE GOT YOU! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEL-mmph!"

"Good job, Bladehoof."

"Thank you, Commander, get her hind legs- ooof- damn earthpony strength! Where's Puff when you need him?"

"Quiet, Bladehoof, and hold her muzzle."

"D-damn! I'm trying, but she's biting! Palisade, stop that or I'll have to break your nose. we need to make sure you're not under changeling control."

"She got to you! I'm the only one left who isn't under her control! I know how it feels, and I'm alright. I'm-AH!"

*Crunch!* *Slam!* *Thud!*

"Commander?!"

"Crest? That sounded pretty brutal even by my standards."

"Bladehoof, you will understand in a second. Fury, bite her. I will not let her resistance force me to do something even worse… again."

"Commander… where is Puff?"

*Chomp!*

"Hnnngh- aaaaaah that feels so damn goood, Fury..."

"Good, I can count on you, Palisade, to think with your crotch the second I bite into your neck."

"Mmmmm thank you..."

"Was she under changeling influence, Fury?"

"Nah, not really. I just wanted to keep her from doing anything stupid and I know you wouldn't like her eventually becoming food so I'm letting her keep her brain. Now for the terrible part, let her go."

"I'm not a fan of having my head slammed repeatedly into the floor, boss."

"Palisade, Bladehoof, I couldn't afford to waste time, or you might have made me… do something terrible."

"Commander, where is Puff? I won't ask again."