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The chapter begins with Shining and Bond (in a less suspicious outfit) leaving the embassy. Shining will also get the next day off but even he wonders if he manages to survive that long. So Ace will continue to keep this position for a while and it seems that Twinkle Shine starts to admire the pegasus. Their plan is simple: At first the hoofmaidens have to go to bed and then Shining and Bond will claim to leave for a party. Cadence will sneak out in her disguise and will meet up with them at the end of the street. Outside Bond goes to get their cart and Shining wonders what kind of cart it will be and who will have to pull it. Suddenly he hears a deep and loud noise behind himself but thankfully it just turns out to be Bond inside a black car and not the wolf that is hunting him. From his description it seems that Shining had never seen anything like that and Bond tells him that it is a Gaston-Maretin. No one builds a cart like Gaston, no one sings a villain song like Gaston and no reference flies over Shining’s head like Gaston. At first the unicorn doesn’t think that this car is inconspicuous enough for the mission ahead but then the entire town seems to be filled with even more expensive cars. How could he overlook all of them so far? Shining slips into the back and thinks that it might be the best choice to hide there from Mr. Makarov. Meanwhile Cadence disguised herself as a purple pegasus and also wears a hooded shirt. Twilight’s brother does notice that the horn of the Alicorn seems to be merely invisible and suspects that it is some sort of glamour spell. So far the plan works flawlessly and they manage to get to the apartment without alerting anybody.

As the preparations go on, Shining can see the ominous location through a window. The snipers and the Unit Metal are ready for the big scene. Bond is about to give Shining his equipment and Cadence jokingly suggests a tuxedo for this spy mission. It seems real spies absolutely hate Con Mane for getting about everything about their work wrong: stealing cake recipes, wearing tuxedos in the middle of a jungle, telling everybody your real name, always asking for your trademark food, nonsensical weapons and gadgets, the entire premise of stealing cake for Princess Celestia and even a crossover with Daring Do. Both the pegasus and the earth pony interviewer object to that instantly and somehow Bond seems to have felt that. But the unicorn interviewer and Cadence both thought that the crossover was a silly idea. The other two interviewers blame it mostly on the execution and not the idea itself. Besides that Bond should be HAPPY that Con Mane gets spy work so wrong, because if the popular book would actually make real spy tactics and work public, then it would also make their work harder to do. Bond hopes that the next book will not be another success and Cadence muses that everything she reads in public becomes popular. Shining realises that if he can get her to proof-read his upcoming novel, then it will be a huge success. When asked he reveals that he plans to write a story about a task force trying to fight against invaders from another dimension (surely a reference to X-Com).

His possible equipment contains clothes that will hide the stab-vest and under armor, a saddlebag for his other gear, Night-vision goggles, a flaregun and a selection of knifes. He doesn’t think that he will need these items but they could be very useful to conserve mana and he doesn’t want to mortally wound anybody. Bond points out that he needs to be able to survive in combat without magic. And Mr. Makarov fights so dirty that he can’t afford to hesitate if he wants to come out of it alive. Shining can’t always rely on his friends saving him. Then Bond lists all the weapons Shining could take and the unicorn is shocked of how he as a Captain of the Royal Guard can not know all of these things and developments in weaponry. Eventually he decides to take a revolver airgun with him. The spy also gives him the advice to aim for the neck of a Deer if he has to shot, anything else would not work since Shining is so horrible with aiming and the body is usually protected. They also prepare him with the layout of the hospital and Bond admits that he thinks the entire thing is very strange. The radio stops anybody from listening in but has a very weak reach, on the other side he still has a normal radio but that isn’t as secure. He also has his flaregun, which often makes a decent emergency weapon.
He will meet Reznov in the main lobby, which is easy to cover but the rest of the abandoned hospital is a broken maze. There is also another way inside in the form of a tunnel that was once used to remove bodies discreetly. But even that will be covered by the snipers. When the time comes Shining jokes about running away LIKE A BOSS… but the interviewers no longer fall for it. Baseplate is with him over the radio and suddenly Reznov is standing in the main lobby. Shining doesn’t know how this could be possible and reminisces how the Deer changed from nature-loving people to pioneers of technology over time. There doesn’t seem to be a weapon on Reznov and by now Shining wonders if it is Mr. Makarov using shapeshifting to lay a trap. But he keeps walking forward to finally learn what all of this is about. Having this entire backup including snipers and an Alicorn manages to calm Twilight’s brother down.

Finally he is standing before Reznov. The Deer knows exactly that he is carrying a transmitter and tells him to drop it. There seem to be no ambushes hidden nearby and Reznov even knows about Princess Cadence’s presence and is quite happy about that. Eventually he drops the transmitter and Reznov blocks it. Then when asked he reveals that he is here to warn them about a large-scale attack Mr. Makarov had planed on his enemies both in the Hooviet Empire and outside of it. He sees Mr. Makarov as a global threat and considering what we already have seen about him so far that might be true. Reznov claims to work for all the Deer that are unable to move on to the afterlife as they were not buried and suffer now a fate worse then death. Eventually he says that to understand the full truth Shining shouldn’t trust him. It involves the ley lines, the mana-flow of this world, and standing where such lines cross can allow people to make incredible discoveries and gain hidden knowledge. Zebras, Minotaurs and Deer all know about this technique. This place is not only a fittingly creepy background for a shocking reveal but also where nine ley lines cross. There are only two other such places: The old castle of Celestia and Luna within the Everfree Forest and Chernobull (Chernobyl).

Shining wonders if it is somewhat like what is rumoured to be under the Canterlot Castle. Reznov seems to even know about Truth but says that this is something very different. Instead of showing a wide spectrum of time and space, ley lines work with time and show you all of its current existence. But most ponies and griffins see shades of the past or of what they could have been, like an incomplete look into Truth. This was the origin of the ghost stories of this hospital since delusional unicorns are very susceptible to such visions. Reznov tells him that Shining is blessed with strong mental defences against deceptive magic. That admittingly almost sounds like it could ruin the plans of the Changeling Queen from the very start. But Reznov explains that under eye contact or horn contact such magic could still work on him. Shining doesn’t quite know how much of that is actually true. So his mistrust and resistance means that Reznov has to show him the truth but he could still show him an incomplete picture by not explaining certain events that only make sense if you combine them with something else. Now more then ever before Shining wants to know about the Defiant, Mr. Makarov and the wolf that is chasing him.

To fully understand what is going on, they will have to start with Chernobull. It was a magical research facility that exploded 13 years ago and Mr. Makarov’s career started there when he rescued many trapped deer and secured key resources. Chernobull was also the place where unicorn-deer hybrids with exceptional talents in both kinds of magic where created. By now Mr. Makarov is the only hybrid left alive and Shining suspects that he might be responsible for that as well. But there is more to Mr. Makarov then that. Reznov claims that the Defiant was shot down over the jungles of Kundu. Shining takes the chance to mention what Mr. Makarov told him and Reznov admits being partly responsible for that. Mrs. Bond was the agent who oversaw Reznov’s activities of sending information about the Hooviets to the Columbians and from there to the Equestrians. He claims that most of the spies and agents who died because of Reznov were Hooviets or their allies. But with the loss of Mrs. Bond, Reznov lost his connection to Equestria.

But it could have been differently, the Defiant could have never been shot down, Mr. Makarov not even be born and Chernobull would have exploded at a different time. Shining’s first suspicion is that time travel could have been involved but most of the time that thankfully only ends in a stable loop. Here a new timeline was created that was open for later changes, including sending something that shouldn’t exist at all into this world. The original date on which Chernobull should have exploded is very close to Shining’s birthday and that is surely more then a coincidence.

Then the topic shifts to Shining himself. Reznov knows that he is an incredibly loyal soldier both to his friends and his nation. His worst fear is failing to protect others and he is willing to sacrifice his own life for that. Shining admits that if that would happen he wishes to be remembered and that it would have been for a good cause. The unicorn sees this as selfish but Reznov thinks this is a very small prize in return for offering your own life. He understands that better than Shining thinks, since he was raised in the belief that the Greater Good was worth any sacrifice and that they would have been remembered for that. But the truth is very different. In the name of the Greater Good horrible atrocities were committed and those who sacrifice themselves are forgotten. To be remembered is a right only for Generals and Roe Deer. Reznov summarises that Shining can feel that he was BORN as a shield to protect others, especially his sister. But such belief can be exploited like the Hooviet Empire shows.

Suddenly Reznov speaks about Basilisks and Shining remembers hating Cockatrices. This intrigues Reznov and he asks the unicorn why he hates them so much. As far as we know he never encountered one but somebody else had a very unpleasant encounter: Twilight. And the agent even knows about Shining’s obsession with Hoofball. Suddenly the unicorn has a flash back to Twilight’s experience. At first she was frustrated that it was nothing like what the books told her but then she realised that it couldn’t affect her mind since she was trying to cast a spell. Only then did she realise that most cures for this case involve waking her up and since she is already awake that doesn’t work. Even worse her magic is still drained away. Shining does not understand why he feels such hatred for these creatures and suspects that the story of the pegasus who was turned into stone and had become addicted to the state is responsible. In the end the soldier ran away to return to the state. But he was never found again. According to him the story that Celestia did grant him his wish of becoming an immortal observer was wrong. Basilisks work similar but their gaze is instantly fatal and leaves only lifeless rock behind but there is no zenlike state if you are a Deer. Trying to cast a spell or having an immunity like the constant flow of mana in the antlers means that the soul doesn’t reach inner peace but the body is still petrified with the soul inside. And this incomplete union drains the life-force to keep the soul-binding running until it is gone completely.

In the Hooviet Empire the fittingly named Department of Truth changed the books to hide the fact that every Deer that is petrified is doomed to a slow lingering death that can takes several decades. Instead they are told that it is instantly fatal and that they will be placed as monuments. Instead they end up decorating the lawns of dachas of higher Generals and politicians. Shining sees it as a horrible mockery of their sacrifice. The unicorn interviewer brings up cases where elderly monks do this willingly to inspire younger generations but the difference is that they know exactly what is happening to them and surely manage to reach the zenlike state. These soldiers are just pawns that are mocked in their long suffering afterwards. It would have been kinder to just smash them to pieces to kill them and then burry the remains afterwards. The pegasus interviewer can understand why Shining is so angry. She knows what it is like to struggle for a noble goal only to find out that you were doing the exact opposite of what you wanted to achieve. The strong venom was meant to become part of a dragon-slaying superweapon and since its shelf life was so short, many, many, far too many lives were sacrificed. In the end the project was a failure and all the horrible and slow deaths were in vain. Nothing was accomplished besides amusing a few Deer with a very sick sense of humor.

While talking Reznov moved closer to Shining so that right now his antlers are almost touching his horn. Since the unicorn will resist this, it will be more painful then it has to be. The Deer mentions that he should start a stopwatch, likely this is one of these events that seem to take very long while outside only a second passes. Twilight’s brother reminds him that an Alicorn is watching him but Reznov takes this with humor and seems to already know about their connection. Then everything goes white.

Overall this was an introduction with tons of interesting exposition that makes you want to learn more about this mystery. Shining and the reader are drawn in what this could be all about and what was the event that made this world so different. Blocking the transmitter also makes sense since anybody besides Shining who experienced all these strange things will likely not believe Reznov but maybe there are other reasons for him to do this. And considering that the wolf seems to want to purge Shining from this timeline, he might be the “something that shouldn’t exist” that Reznov mentioned.
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