> She tilts her head, frowning slightly.
> "He threatened you?"
"No. Anything but. I was the one who came to him first - but I didn't want anything out of it. No better quarters, no reduced work hours... Just one demand. I just wanted Rumble to be safe. He's an impetuous colt, you know? Always wanting to buck the nearest thing..."
> "...so you would work to make sure he would not suffer for it."
> Your head bobs in a single, jerking nod.
"I can't protect everypony. But I can protect my own brother, even if it meant putting on that uniform and becoming a monster."
> Gently Cadance draws her hoof back.
> "You must hate me. After I allowed him to help with the escape, turned back everything you'd dedicated yourself to doing no matter the cost. After I whipped you-"
> She halts, eyes growing wide again as another thing clicks.
> A bitter smile appears on your face.
"Yes. I asked Anonymous to let me take his place there. And yes, it's crossed my mind to hate you too."
> Cadance seems to slump in place, her wings drooping and tail falling limp.
"Maybe I do - there's so much hate in me these days I can't even tell where all of it's going anymore. But I can tell you this: I don't hate you nearly as much as I hate myself."
> Her voice is barely above a whisper.
"Because I shouldn't be doing this. We - we should all be sticking together. It's ponies like me who sell the rest of us out to save their families and themselves that are turning us against each other."
> "You are talking to the pony who whipped you to ensure her daughter would be arriving here safely."
"I don't think Anonymous exactly gave you a lot of choice."
> Turning away, Cadance's gaze falls to your side.
> Had she, you wonder?
> Was there a choice in this, or that other pony she'd had taken from the returnees.
> As if reading your thoughts, she speaks again: