Change of Life

Zevan was a loyal changeling and always did his queen's bidding, although he quietly questioned why changelings should end centuries of secret but peaceful intermingling with the pony population. After being expelled from Canterlot by the irresistible force of love and badly injured after crash-landing in trees, he had to reconsider his future. Ponies knew that changelings existed now, and the only example of them was Chrysalis' attempt to overthrow Celestia and their attack on Canterlot's population. His kind would be pariahs for the foreseeable future and maybe even their disguises would not keep them safe. A unicorn mare with a broken horn might do the trick though.
There is now a prequel to this story - Prelude To Change I suggest that you read that first.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/141487/change-of-life

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4. Interviews

Cogs started swaying on his hooves, and Healing Hooves looked at him with some concern.

“Are you feeling okay?” she asked.

Cogs shook his head to try to clear it before replying, “I’ve just repudiated my hive and service to its queen; no, I’m not okay. It was more of a mental shock than I thought it would be, that’s all. I’ll... I'll be alright.”

“Go get yourself something to drink – I suggest juice. Rest for a bit until it passes,” Healing Hooves advised.

“No! Lavender left me in charge of the shop while she’s gone, and I won’t let her down.”

“Very commendable of you, but this is not the time to be stubborn. Go inside and get that drink. I’ll watch the shop until you feel better.”

Cogs was still inclined to argue, but one look into her eyes convinced him that he was not going to win this argument. He nodded and stumbled inside. He found a pitcher of apple juice and poured himself a glass. With rather shaky hooves, he lifted it up and drank most of it in a couple of gulps. He quickly finished the rest, then went to the sofa and collapsed on it.

Thoughts whirled around his head. Reasons that seemed so logical before now seemed shocking or crazy. Abandoning the hive – had any changeling ever done so before? Had any ever defied their queen so thoroughly as he was doing? Before now, such thoughts had been unthinkable. And yet he stood by his decision. He might pay a price for it, but it was the right course of action. He could not condone what he had been forced to do, and he would not be put in a position to have to do so again!

Gradually his thoughts calmed and his body stopped shaking. He breathed slowly and deeply to help stop his heart from racing, focusing on his promise to help Lavender Dreams as something positive for the future. Eventually he felt ready to return to the shop.

To his chagrin, Lavender had just returned. How long had he been trying to pull himself back together? “Hi, Lavender. Sorry to let you down.”

“Nonsense!” the mare declared emphatically. “The Healer told me that you weren’t feeling well due to your injuries, so of course you needed to rest. Didn’t I say that you should be taking it easy?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Cogs said contritely.

“And none of that ‘ma’am’ business either,” she added, pretending to be cross.

Cogs could feel the amusement behind the order though, and he replied, “Yes, boss.”

Lavender stared at him for a moment before giggling. “Okay, you win that one. Are you okay to look after the counter for a few minutes while I put the cart away?”

Cogs nodded. “I’m fine now.” He hoped though that he would remain that way.

Healing Hooves waited until Lavender was out of earshot before telekinetically taking a newspaper out of her saddle pack and putting it in front of Cogs. “I was going to show you this earlier, but I felt you needed a breather first. It’s last night’s edition of the village gazette, and it has details of the attack on Canterlot. Ponies are going to start wondering now, so don’t be caught unawares.”

“Great – just what I needed,” Cogs grumbled, although he knew that this had been inevitable.

“I’ve been a part of the village for so long that nobody will suspect me, so if things get too tight, get them to check with me. I’ll tell them that they’ve got the wrong pony. Try not to abuse that though, please. I recommend that you don’t leave the shop today.”

Cogs nodded. “I’ll keep a low profile.”

“Good. Now I’ve got to be going. Somepony has put me way behind schedule.”

* * *

“No! I didn’t mean it, my Queen! Please! I only wanted what was best for the hive!”

Chrysalis ignored Zevan’s pleas though as she towered above him in rage. “Traitor! Only I know what is best for my hive. You have defied me for the last time. I condemn you to death!” She reared up, and with a terrible scream, plunged her hooves at his head.

Zevan tried to get away from those murderous hooves, but invisible bonds held his limbs and he despaired…

With a thud, Cogs’ head hit the floor. Through the dizzying pain, he realized that he was still alive. Faint moonlight coming through the window revealed the blanket that had wrapped around his legs as he had thrashed around in his nightmare and tumbled off the sofa. His heart raced as he hyperventilated. “It was only a dream!” he gasped. “Get a grip on yourself!” Slowly he calmed down and disentangled himself from the blanket. He climbed back on the sofa, grateful that he had apparently failed to disturb Lavender’s sleep. He sincerely hoped he would not have another episode like that and succeed.

* * *

“You look like crap,” Healing Hooves declared.

“Is that your professional diagnosis, Healer?” Cogs asked sarcastically.

She ignored him and said, “Didn’t sleep well, I take it?”

“Worst nightmares ever,” Cogs admitted.

“Not too surprising, I suppose. You have inner conflicts that are manifesting as bad dreams, and they’ll probably only go away once you make peace with yourself.”

“Did you know this was going to happen?”

“No, although I suppose I might have guessed. Not exactly my specialty though. However, I can prescribe something that might help you have a smooth night’s sleep until you get over it.”

Cogs looked at the healer gratefully. “I’ll take anything you have to offer. I don’t want to go through that night again.”

“I’ll have to fetch it from my clinic later. Right now though, you have to clean yourself up and make yourself presentable. You’re going for a job interview, and you need to make a good impression.”

Cogs blinked in surprise. “I am? What? Who?”

“Square Deal Renovations,” she answered as if that explained everything.

“Who…”

“I said get ready,” Healing Hooves interrupted. “You don’t want to be late and make yourself look bad.”

“Okay, okay! I’m going!” Cogs headed off to the bathroom to make himself presentable. “What a nag,” he mumbled sourly.

Having been practically dragged out of bed by Healing Hooves, he was hungry and disheveled. Cold water helped clear his head, and a quick brushing made him look acceptable. Lavender had made some pancakes for breakfast, and he wolfed a couple down hastily under the impatient glare of Healing Hooves.

“Okay, that’s enough. You aren’t going to starve.” She put a foreleg around his neck and pulled him in the direction of the door.

“What’s the hurry? Why so early?” Cogs protested.

“Because they’re going to interview you before they start their own work day, and we don’t want to hold them up. They’re very busy ponies.”

“Busy enough to need some help?” Cogs hazarded a guess.

“Now you’re getting it,” Healing Hooves said approvingly. “There’s hope for you yet.”

Healing Hooves took Cogs about a third of the way across the village. They came to a building that seemed to be a larger version of Lavender’s – a dwelling at back and a shopfront for doing business. A sign out front had upon it a thought bubble with a set square within it, and the name of the business – ‘Square Deal Renovations’. Healing Hooves had explained along the way.

“There’s this small herd-owned business that does home renovations, extensions, and other similar work that has been getting a bit snowed under lately. I suggested that they needed to take on an employee and I recommended you as a good prospect. You weren’t exaggerating about your qualifications, I hope?”

“No, I didn’t exaggerate. In fact I’m pretty damned good. I would have had a good job for life if it wasn’t for… you know.” Cogs was a bit cautious about saying some things out in public. You never knew what stray word might catch somepony’s ear.

Now that they were here though, Cogs started to get an attack of nerves. It had been years since he had done an interview or needed to prove himself. Now here he was – no references, no tools, not even a fixed address. And of course the needs of a unicorn village were sure to be hugely different from those of a pegasus weather factory. He almost panicked right then, but Healing Hooves chivied him inside and it was too late to turn back.

The healer tapped a desk bell on the counter. While they waited for a response, Cogs looked around at the displays of house extension designs, pergolas, and various other renovation projects. Despite himself, he began to be intrigued. That excitement soon shriveled up within him when the proprietors turned up.

First to enter the office was a stocky earth pony stallion with chocolate brown fur and a fiery mane, who projected an air of no-nonsense with a dash of irritability at having his morning routine disturbed. He was followed by unicorn mare with a deep blue coat and a white mane with pale blue streaks, and by contrast she was the picture of cool elegance. They greeted Healing Hooves cordially who then introduced Cogs.

“This is Whirring Cogs, the mechanic whom I mentioned to you yesterday. Cogs, these are Set Square and Moonlit Haze, good friends of mine who won’t admit to being overworked. Convince them that they need you.”

Moonlit Haze laughed. “Thanks, Healer. I think we can take it from here.”

Healing Hooves nodded. “I’ll drop by again this evening. Let me know how he turns out.” She then left Cogs to their mercy.

Set Square looked down at Cogs disdainfully. After taking full measure of him, the earth pony said, “You’re kind of scrawny and banged up, aren’t you? What makes you think that you can be of any use to us?”

 

 

 

Moonlit Haze gave Set Square a punch on the shoulder with her hoof. “Don’t be so rude, Set,” she admonished.

Cogs speculated that the punch that scarcely stirred the sturdy earth pony would have probably knocked him halfway across the room, so Set Square’s description wasn't too far off. Cogs gave him a nervous smile back. The stallion was not just giving him a hard time; he could feel his lack of enthusiasm. However, Cogs did not sense any active dislike either. He had to make a good impression. “Sir, my current injuries won’t affect my ability to do almost any job that you would care to give me, and my size has no bearing on my skills. I was an A-grade tradespony at the Cloudsdale weather factory, and my ability to fix almost anything kept me very much in demand.”

“If you’re that good, why did you leave that job? Seems to me that a mechanic of your supposed skills should be on the fast track to promotion,” Set Square said skeptically.

“Family business called me away,” Cogs replied in near total truthfulness. “An accident prevents me from returning to Cloudsdale now, and maybe for a very long time. I lost everything in the accident, and I’m now trying to re-establish my life and career. Healing Hooves said that you could give me work that suits my skills. That would be a huge help in getting my life back together.”

Moonlit Haze spoke up. “Why here though? This village must be completely different from everything that you have been familiar with up until now.”

“It certainly is different from Cloudsdale, but my family comes from a land-based town also. As to why start again here – my accident happened near here, and this is where I ended up. It seems to be a nice place to start again, and it doesn’t require me flying.”

“What happened to you?” Moonlit Haze asked curiously.

“I’m not entirely sure. I was struck mid air by something and I crashed into the forest and was severely injured. I was barely able to crawl through the forest until I found a road. I lay there until Lavender Dreams passed by and rescued me. She got the healer to patch me up, and I’ve been sleeping on her sofa ever since.”

At the mention of Lavender’s name, Set Square’s ears had pricked up. “Have you been imposing on poor Miss Dreams?” he asked sternly.

“A little, I suppose, but she insisted on me staying. I’ve been trying to repay her kindness by doing some maintenance work on her place. I’m not the kind of person who’s comfortable just lying around doing nothing when I can be working with my hooves.”

That seemed to impress the stallion, and the mare smiled. “We’ve been trying to convince her to let us do a few urgent repairs, but she’s so stubbornly independent. She always wants to prove to people that she can cope despite her disability. She also says that we have too much to do for our business to take the time to do charity work for her. But you – you’re in her debt, so you can do things for her without her losing face. I think we can finally help our friend through you.”

Cogs shuffled uncomfortably. “Er… I can’t do much more. I lost all my possessions including the tools that I need to do the work, and I have no money to buy more.” Cogs’ tools were actually back at the hive where they had lain unused since he had been demoted, but they were as good as lost to him there, so he was not stretching the truth too much.

“Can you fix a water pump?” Set Square asked abruptly.

“I worked at the weather factory – of course I know how to fix a water pump,” Cogs replied.

“We’ve got a job that includes repairing one. I suppose if you’re going to fix it for us, you’re going to need some new tools.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“And would any of those tools be needed for Lavender’s repairs also?” Moonlit Haze asked slyly.

A slow grin spread on Cog’s muzzle. “Indeed they would. How many tools do you think I will need to repair this pump?”

“Better be sure and stock up with everything you think you might need,” Set Square said grumpily. “Don’t want an unhappy client waiting on her water. Might need other things done too. Yes, can’t be too prepared. Better get to it – the day’s a-wasting.” He then turned and headed back inside.

Moonlit Haze smiled serenely. “I do believe he likes you.”

If Cogs had not been able to sense the stallions emotions, he would have severely doubted that. It seemed though that Cogs’ good deeds had reaped unexpected dividends.

“Come along with me,” Moonlit Haze told Cogs. “It’s time to meet the third member of our business.” She led him through a side door to a room that had an extensive collection of books in shelves lining three of the walls, with a window admitting light in the fourth. Seated behind a desk was a pegasus mare with golden fur, and a mane colored with broad streaks of yellow, white, and brown. Her green eyes were intently focused on the typewriter in front of her, both hooves firmly flat on the two circular keyboards as their kinetic fields quickly and accurately pushed the correct keys. Whereas Set Square could be described as stoic, and Moonlit Haze as elegant, there was only one word that immediately came to Cogs’ mind when looking at her, and that was ‘cute’. She looked about the same age as Moonlit Haze, but she seemed a lot daintier.

The pegasus continued to type, oblivious of the two other ponies. Moonlit Haze quietly walked over and put her right foreleg over the pegasus’ shoulder and pulled her into a kiss on the cheek. Her wings snapped up in surprise, and a startled but pleased semi-smile grew on her muzzle.

 

 

 

“Hazy! How can I work if you keep distracting me like that?” she protested unconvincingly.

“This is other work, Love. Let me introduce you to Whirring Cogs. We’re trying him out for that full-time position we’ve been discussing.” She turned to Cogs. “This is Golden Words, our herd-mate and third partner in the business.”

“Hi. Umm, pardon me for saying so, but you don’t seem like the tradespony type,” Cogs observed.

Golden Words giggled. “I would say not! I’m a writer by profession. Have you ever heard of the Flame Pond novels? Spies, political intrigue and thrilling adventure?”

Cogs gave her an apologetic smile. “Sorry, no. I’m not much of a reader actually.”

Golden Words looked a little disappointed, but shrugged it off. “Anyway, this is what I do for most of the day while my herd-mates are doing their thing.”

“But how does what you do relate to their business?” Cogs asked in puzzlement.

“Because fiction isn’t the only type of book that I work on. I also do the account books for the business, and handle the bureaucratic paperwork so that they can concentrate on doing the practical side of things.”

“Ah, that makes sense.”

Moonlit Haze said, “And that’s why I’m here right now, interrupting your Muse. I need some cash to purchase some tools for Mr Cogs.”

“How much?” Golden Words asked as she opened a drawer in the desk.

“I’m not sure as yet, but let’s start with two hundred bits.”

“That much? You’re going to make quite a dint in the budget.”

“It’s for a really good reason, Goldie. I’ll tell you more about it later.”

“Okay by me.” Golden Words counted out two hundred bits from a cash box into a coin pouch and passed it to Moonlit Haze. She then meticulously entered the amount into a ledger, and then put it and the cash box back in the drawer. “Don’t forget the receipts,” she reminded them.

“Yes, dear,” Moonlit Haze said with a smile. “Come along, Mister Cogs, we have tools to purchase and a pump to fix.”

They found Set Square outside, hitched up to a cart laden with building materials and tools. He nodded when he saw them emerge and started off down the street, seemingly unfazed by the load that he was pulling. Cogs and Moonlit Haze trotted beside him until they reached a hardware shop that was only a few buildings away. The mare ushered Cogs into the store.

“Get what you need, but try not to take too long about it. Set gets grumpy if he thinks time is being wasted.”

Cogs already had a good idea of what he would need, both for fixing a pump and doing various other repairs. With the store owner’s help, he quickly put together a good basic kit, and a tool-saddle to carry them in. Moonlit Haze took out the coin pouch to pay the very pleased merchant.

“Are you sure you have everything that you need? There are still a few bits left.”

“Can’t be certain until I see the job,” Cogs answered, “but I’ve covered the foreseeable stuff. We can save those bits for the unexpected. Now that I know that I can do something about those other jobs we mentioned, I’ll look into what specific items might be needed.”

“Sounds like a good plan. Okay, let’s get going.”

The threesome set off again, but it seemed their destination was a great deal further than the shop had been, and Cogs’ injured leg started hurting from the exertion. Before long, he was limping badly and lagging behind.

Set Square stopped and said, “Hazy, help the gimp, will ya?”

Moonlit Haze replied, “What did I say about being rude?” Nevertheless her horn lit up, and Cogs squeaked in surprise as he felt himself being lifted and deposited on the cart.

Set Square resumed pulling the cart back at full speed, unaffected by the extra load.

Their destination was a farmhouse just outside of the town proper. A new extension was being added which was obviously the work of the Square Deal crew, but Cogs was shown inside the existing structure to the faulty pump. Upon inspection, he was much relieved that it was a model similar to those that he had previously worked on. Despite confidence in his abilities, he had been afraid that he would be confronted with something weird and difficult to deal with, and fail to make a good impression on his employers.

Cogs worked on the pump all morning, only asking one of the farming family to run an errand for him to get a replacement seal from the hardware store. They were sympathetic about his injured leg and had no hesitation about doing that favor for him. When the pump was reassembled and fully operational again, it was time to break for lunch.

The matriarch of the farm family, Green Hoof, put on quite a feast for all three of them, but then again she was used to feeding hard-working and hungry family members. As far as she was concerned, you didn’t get good work on anything less than a full stomach. Cogs was absolutely stuffed with dandelion and daisy sandwiches, vegetable pasties, and bran muffins, all washed down with fruit juice and tea.

After the meal, Moonlit Haze spoke to Cogs before she and Set Square went back to work. “We don’t currently have more work that we need you to do here, but I do believe that you have some other chores to take care of back at Lavender’s place. I suggest that you do what you can, and we’ll drop by on the way home to see how things are coming along. Can you make it back by yourself okay?”

“I’ll take my time and rest the leg on the way. After all, I won’t have to try to keep up with Set Square’s pace.”

“A valid point. Good luck, Cogs.”

The changeling nevertheless made as fast a pace as he could manage because he did not want to waste the afternoon. He did stop three times to give his leg a break though. “I wonder if Healing Hooves is going to get mad at me for using this leg so much,” he pondered aloud.

Lavender smiled happily when Cogs entered the shop. “How did it go? Did you get the job?” she asked excitedly.

Cogs related what had happened since Healing Hooves had dragged him away that morning, proudly showing off his collection of new tools. “And now I can do some more repairs for you too!”

“I told you that you don’t have to do anything for me. The pleasure of your company has been my reward,” she protested.

“And I told you that I won’t just lie around all day when I can be doing something useful,” Cogs insisted. “You get to have my company as a bonus.”

Lavender grinned. “In that case, could you fix the awning? The afternoon sun is a bit hard on my window stock.”

That particular repair had already been high on Cogs’ list of things to do, and now he had the means with which to do the job. With the proper tools, he was able to effect the repair in a less than an hour. Lavender was delighted.

“You’ve earned a special treat,” she declared. “I’m going to pick up something for tonight’s meal. Can you mind the counter for half an hour?”

“Sure! I want to rest my leg for a little while before I start the next job anyway.”

“Great! If you get a customer, prices are marked on most things. Anything special, tell them that I’ll be back soon, or take their details and I will get back to them.”

“No problem, Lavender,” he reassured her.

Cogs nearly ate his words about ten minutes later. The weather pegasi had scheduled a clear, sunny day, so it came as a bit of a surprise when lots of shadows suddenly started flickering through the window. Curiosity aroused, Cogs stepped out the door, but recoiled in shock. A contingent of Royal Guard pegasi were landing throughout the town as far as he could see. Before he ducked back into the shop, he even spotted a troop of unicorn Guards marching up the street also. There were no prizes for guessing why they were there. Cogs was in no position to run, so he knew that he would have to brazen it out.

It was only a few minutes before a unicorn Guardspony entered the shop. Cogs could taste the suspicion that the stallion was radiating, and he felt the tingle of a magic spell in use. Nevertheless he put on his most welcoming smile from behind the counter, and said, “Good afternoon, sir. Can I help you with anything today? We have a special on fresh wildflowers that your special somepony might enjoy.”

“I’m on royal duty, shopkeeper,” the unicorn replied. “I want to know if you have seen anything unusual, or any odd ponies about lately, particularly as of three days ago.”

Cogs made a show of thinking about it. “Umm… not that I can think of. What’s this all about anyway?”

The Guardpony telekinetically held up an illustration of a changeling. “You must have heard now changelings attacked Canterlot. We are searching for survivors and clues as to their origin.” He glanced at Cogs’ bandaged wing suspiciously. “What happened to your wing?”

Cogs indicated his tools. “I was doing repairs and slipped off the ladder, spraining my wing,” he extemporized.

“You should be more careful, citizen. Thank you for your time. If you find any information relevant to our search, please contact the Royal Guard as soon as possible.” The unicorn then turned and left the shop.

Cogs slumped to the floor in relief. “Thank Celestia he couldn’t see my leg also,” he muttered. “If I’d been taking it easy on the bench outside, I might have stood out a whole lot more and looked much more out of place.” He started shaking from frayed nerves, and he was grateful that no customer came by until he could pull himself back together again.

When Lavender returned, she was full of excitement. “I’ve never seen so many of the Royal Guard before! I wonder if they will find anything?”

“One of them came into the shop and asked me questions,” Cogs replied. “I don’t think even they know for sure what they’re looking for.”

“I suppose that it’s hard trying to find creatures that make themselves look like you.”

“Undoubtedly,” Cogs agreed. He was grateful that it apparently had not occurred to them yet that changelings might be able to take on the appearance of a completely unique pony rather than merely copying another pony.

Cogs spent the next few hours trying to distract himself from his worries by working on some more of the repairs. When Healing Hooves dropped by to do the usual changing of Cogs’ dressings, he described what had happened and asked, “Did any of the Guard talk to you today?”

“They tried to. I was in the middle of treating a patient when one barged into my clinic. I told him in no uncertain terms to stop interrupting my work. He huffily told me that he was on the Princesses’ business, and I replied that I would send them the bill for a consultation. He mumbled something about carrying on, and left hastily.”

Cogs had to laugh at that. Then he asked, “Weren’t you worried at all that they would spot you as a changeling though? I think that they had a disguise detecting spell running.”

Healing Hooves shrugged. “Yeah, I felt that. Won’t do them any good because we don’t use spells to disguise ourselves. Our ability is innate, so they would need a totally different spell; probably one that is more familiar with our biology.”

“So you don’t think we have anything to worry about?”

“I didn’t say that, although I think that these impressive raids are designed to panic changelings into betraying themselves. However it’ll probably only be effective at all on those with a guilty conscience, such as you and members from your hive. It was a good thing that you were playing shopkeeper at the time though. It made you look very normal.”

“Am I… are we going to be so lucky next time? Are they going to be better equipped?” Cogs asked worriedly.

Healing Hooves sighed. “I honestly don’t know, and it’s something that has been bothering me since I learned about the attack. A lot depends on whether they find any of your former hive-mates, I think. Heaven knows what would happen if they uncover a changeling from another innocent hive though.”

“So what do you advise I do?”

“Do? Carry on as you have been doing. Whirring Cogs the pegasus has nothing to do with those changelings. A positive mindset will go a long way towards making a good future for yourself, and even if the worst happens, I’m sure that Princess Celestia will be open-minded about what you have to say. She hasn’t reigned over a peaceful nation for centuries by being close-minded and acting impulsively.”

Healing Hooves left Cogs only slightly reassured, but he felt she was right – he had to get on with his life regardless of whether it might be turned upside down in the future.

Set Square and Moonlit Haze stopped by on the way home as they had said they would. Cogs saw them notice the repaired awning before they entered the shop, and their eyes noted the other fixes and improvements that had been made since their last visit. Lavender Dreams was pleased to see her friends, and they chatted briefly before they got around to talking to Cogs.

“Green Hoof was very pleased to have her pump working again,” Moonlit Haze said, “and we’re quite happy with the quality of your work today. We don’t have any similar jobs for you right now, but if you would be prepared to help us out with our work, then come to our place the same time tomorrow.”

“And be prepared to work all day,” Set Square added gruffly before heading out of the shop.

Moonlit Haze grinned. “Told you he likes you!” she said with a wink and a grin before following her partner out.

Lavender gave Cogs a surprise hug. “Looks like you got yourself a full-time job, Cogs. Congratulations!”

“Thanks. Umm… you’re their friend – can you tell me if Set Square is always like that?”

“What? Mister Life-of-the-Party?” Lavender laughed. “Yep. But if Hazy says he likes you, then it’s true. You must have shown him something that impressed him.”

“I can see working for him is going to be interesting.”

True to her word, Lavender had bought them a special treat from the bakery for dessert. Between that and the delightful company, Cogs managed to dismiss the concerns of the day and went to sleep on the sofa that night reasonably contented.

* * *

Cogs made sure to get up early and eat a hearty breakfast before heading off to Square Deal Renovations. He arrived promptly at the appointed time, entering the office just as Golden Words was heading into her den. She greeted him cheerily and called back into the house to let the others know that he had arrived. Set Square came out and observed the pegasus standing there, waiting eagerly.

“Not going to let that gimpy leg slow your work down today, I hope?” the stallion asked.

“No, boss!” Cogs reassured him.

The slightest hint of a smile curved Set Square’s lips. “You’ll do well, kid.”

* * *

 
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