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Saturday. A day off for almost all ponies. A day often spent with friends and family.
But most importantly, a day often spent with that special somepony.
As Suncloak stepped into the park, he could already smell love. Sure, it was faint, but there was some, and most likely, somewhere in the park. He just had to find the source, and then steal some of that delicious love.
It probably wouldn’t be hard. These ponies sure didn’t seem very smart. They may have defeated the changeling army in Canterlot, but that was just beginner’s luck. Besides, how were the changelings and their queen supposed to have figured out that the power of love was strong enough to defeat them?
He decided to stick to the paths just a small distance away from the park’s center. The center would be the busiest, and if anything went wrong there, he’d have low chances of escaping. These paths, however, had numerous ponies walking about, but only a few actually stopped there.
Somewhere nearby, closer to the center, was a pair of loving ponies. He hadn’t seen or heard them yet, but he could smell them. It was the typical scent of love: thick and sweet, almost like the smell of chocolate syrup.
Curious, he went closer, and slowly found himself heading towards a larger mass of ponies. There were a lot of ponies out today, ranging from friends having a fun day in the park, to others just passing through.
Eventually, though, he’d found the pair which was the source of the love he’d been smelling.
Said pair were a red earth pony with a chestnut mane and a scroll cutie mark, and a particularly fat unicorn mare, with pink fur and a purple mane. She had the cutie mark of a songbird. The two were chatting about something, but the changeling wouldn’t dare come too close. Yet.
Suncloak had to resist not stealing their love right there. It smelled so appetizing, so delicious. However, if he were to steal it now, in plain sight, every pony in the park would know about it.
Patience was the key. He’d just have to wait until the pair decided to move somewhere else.
And, after a little while, they did. The changeling had heard them talking about ‘moving to a quieter place’, and he inconspicuously followed them. Which basically meant hiding in the bushes and jumping from bush to bush.
Not all that much further, the couple sat down on a bench again. The fat mare was apparently tired after the incredibly long walk of not even a hundred meters. The stallion sat down next to her.
Suncloak, on the other hoof, had hidden himself in a bush just behind the two. It was the perfect spot to hide, since he was close enough to steal their love, and if he kept still after he stole it, they’d just glance over or behind the bush.
As the stallion started blabbering something about how much how much he loved the fat mare, and what he’d do for her and other such nonsense, the changeling rubbed his hooves together in anticipation. Finally, he’d get what he came for! Finally, he could get a decent meal! His horn started glowing as he prepared what was essentially a hit-and-run. Steal as much as he could before they noticed anything.
“Oh, and I can’t wait for the foal to arrive!” he overheard the mare say. “It’ll grow up with the best father in all of Equestria,” she said.
Uh... She wasn’t just fat?
“Well, I don’t know about that,” the stallion said, “but I’m sure it’ll have the best mom in Equestria!”
Suncloak hesitated. They were about to have a foal?
The light around his horn died down. The dangerous thing about stealing love was that you were actively taking it away from the couple. Of course, that was all fine and dandy for the changeling, but since the couple’s love suddenly went somewhere else, and the pair didn’t know what the cause was, it could become... complicated.
It wasn’t all too uncommon for a changeling to accidentally end a relationship by doing this. Sometimes, the lovers might think they’re just having a bit of a rough patch. Sometimes, the ponies might think the other didn’t love them anymore.
But that wasn’t important right now! Changelings had to feed, and it was about time for Suncloak to get his meal.
So why did he hesitate? He couldn’t be...?
I’ve developed a conscience, he thought. Of all the things to possibly happen to me, this has to be the worst! I can’t just start caring about these ponies!
He sat there in the bush as the stallion and the mare left the bench to continue to... wherever they were going. When they were gone, he sighed. He’d just have to find a different couple. Not two ponies who were expecting a foal. Maybe some other pair somewhere. Plenty of sea ponies in the ocean, right?
As he turned to step out of the bush, he suddenly stared into two big, blue eyes. “Hi mister!” a very cheery voice said.
With a yelp which he would later call ‘incredibly stallion-like’, the changeling leapt out of the bush. He landed on something, and after a few heavy gasps of air, he looked to see what had caught him.
Suddenly, he was staring into a pair of teal eyes. Namely, the eyes of the pony who had caught him with her forelegs. With another yelp which may or may not have been his, he jumped away again. Luckily, he landed on his legs. The pony who caught him was suddenly nowhere to be seen.
As Suncloak stood there, gasping for breath once again, a pink earth pony with an incredibly messy magenta mane stepped out of the bush he had been hiding in. “Did I scare you? Sorry, mister!” The pink pony giggled.
The changeling still stood there. If his heart didn’t calm down soon, it might jump out of his chest. Then again, that might be preferable to being around these ponies for much longer.
The pink pony walked over to him and waved a hoof in front of his eyes. “Uh, hello? Are you okay?” she asked.
Suncloak remained silent for a few seconds to get his breathing under control. He managed to squeak a short “Yes.”
“Okidokiloki!” the pink pony replied, walking over to a shaking bush. Apparently, those exist. She rummaged around in it and told it something. After a few moments, she dragged out a quivering yellow pegasus with a pink mane and tail. Her teal eyes showed the changeling that she was the one who caught him a moment earlier. He had seen her before. In fact, she’d been the first pony he’d ever seen in Ponyville.
All of a sudden, the pink pony had her face almost pressed to his. “Hi, I’m Pinkie Pie! Who’re you?” she asked. Pinkie Pie... the Element of Laughter. Or the Element of Scaring The Living Daylights Out Of Others. Those could both be an Element of Harmony, right?
“Uh,” the changeling replied, cringing under her stare, “I’m Suncloak.” He was going to ask her to back off, but by now, he was convinced these ponies wanted him to suffer for all eternity. Most likely, she’d never get out of his face.
Pinkie Pie rushed over to the other pony, picked her up, and set her down roughly in front of Suncloak. “This is Fluttershy!” she said with an exaggerated motion of her hoof. Fluttershy, the last of the six Elements. Sure, he had to meet them all, apparently. It’s not like they were probably the most dangerous ponies around for him to run into.
“Um, hi,” Fluttershy timidly said, trying to hide behind Pinkie.
“Right, well, it was fun to meet you,” the changeling lied, “but I have to get going.” He really had to find something to feed on now.
“No, wait!” Pinkie Pie shouted to him. She flung a hoof around Suncloak and drew him closer to her. Which was impressive, seeing as they weren’t exactly standing next to each other. “You’re a new pony in Ponyville!”
The changeling threw a short glance toward Fluttershy. For some reason, she seemed to know what was going to happen. Which struck him as odd, since this Pinkie Pie had to be the strangest thing he’d met in all his life. The yellow pegasus had probably been living around the pink pony for so long that she’d become immune to this sort of shenanigans.
“Uh, no, not really, I came into town a few days ago,” Suncloak told her.
Pinkie Pie let go of him. “That’s new enough for me!” she excitedly said as she pulled a cart out of nowhere.
“Wait, how did you..?” the changeling started to say. From the corner of his eye, he could see Fluttershy shaking her head, as if telling him not to ask. When she noticed he was looking at her, she tried her hardest to hide behind her mane.
Pinkie Pie ignored him and pushed a button on the side of the cart, causing it to open. Inside were a small confectionery stand, an oven, a bunch of flags and an assortment of music instruments, which started to play a song.
“What in the hive...” Suncloak muttered to himself, and gave Fluttershy another look. The timid pegasus gave a very short shrug, and continued trying to hide.
“Welcome welcome welcome,” Pinkie Pie sang, “a fine welcome to-”
The changeling interrupted her by stuffing a hoof into her mouth. “No,” he swiftly told her as he removed his hoof. No singing. Not now, not ever. He’d rather be thrown through the air for countless miles again. “I’ve already been welcomed into Ponyville. By those three little fillies, the Cutie Mark Crusaders.”
“Oh,” Pinkie Pie said, slightly upset. “Did they get their cutie marks?” she asked, instantly becoming cheerful again. Suncloak briefly wondered if this mare had as much holes in her brain as a changeling had in its hooves. The music from the cart continued.
“No,” he answered. They were still doing... whatever they did, yesterday. “I’ll get going now.” The changeling turned to leave.
“Wait!” Pinkie Pie desperately called out.
Suncloak turned back again. “What?” he asked her. Really, she was starting to push it. Rarity had been annoying, but this was starting to become a whole different level.
The music from the cart died down. “Wait for iiit...” Pinkie Pie said. All of a sudden, a cake shot out of the oven, baked and ready.
The changeling stepped closer. A cake? That was kind of nice, actually. Fluttershy had stepped closer as well and looked at the cake. “Um, Pinkie Pie? I think you put confetti on the cake instead of sprinkles,” she softly said.
Pinkie Pie inspected the cake. “Huh. Then where’d I put the sprinkles?” Right on cue, the cart shot an enormous bunch of sprinkles up in the air, which came down like hail.
The three remained silent for a few seconds, until Pinkie Pie said, “Shoot! And I was so close this time.” This drew a round of giggles from both her and Fluttershy. Even Suncloak let out a short chuckle. No matter which pony, they were all hopelessly dumb. Ponies were a lot more amusing than he remembered, though.
“Right, I should really be going now,” the changeling told them. He gave them a short wave and turned to leave.
“Okay, bye Sunny!” Pinkie Pie said cheerfully. “I’ll see you later!” Fluttershy added a soft “bye.”
As Suncloak left, a large smile crept over his face. He’d successfully fooled all six of the Elements of Harmony! His acting skills were greater than those of Tom Flanks! Staying hidden would be no problem at all.
Now, all that was left was to find a suitable couple to steal love from. A couple that wasn’t expecting a foal. Easy, right?
After Suncloak was gone, Pinkie Pie turned her attention to Fluttershy again. “He sure is a nice pony, don’t you think so, Fluttershy?”
“Oh, he sure was,” Fluttershy told her. “But his cloak makes him look a bit scary...”
Pinkie Pie threw a hoof around the yellow pegasus, looked around suspiciously, then whispered, “I smell something fishy, though.”
“I think that’s coming from the pond,” Fluttershy said as she pointed to the park’s fishpond.
“Oh. Those fish should take a bath!” the pink mare said, clamping a hoof over her nose. “Well, there’s a new pony in town, and you know what that means,” she excitedly told Fluttershy.
Fluttershy gave her a blank stare for a moment. “Oh!” she said as realization dawned upon her face, “of course! Do you need any help?”
“Any help is welcome,” Pinkie Pie said as she dragged Fluttershy away. “Listen, this is what we’re going to do...”
Finding a couple hadn’t been easy. In fact, the changeling’s rumbling stomach reminded him, he hadn’t found two suitable ponies at all.
Every single time he’d found a couple, his newly found conscience told him not to steal their love. One couple already had a little filly. Another couple was almost getting married. Even when he ran into two ponies who showed signs of having just entered a relationship, his stupid conscience told him that it wouldn’t be worth it. He couldn’t risk destroying something like that just because he needed food, for whatever insane reason.
It was already dark when he entered the barn. It was incredibly dark in the barn as well. In frustration, he threw his cloak and sunglasses on the ground. “Bah! I just had to go and get a conscience!” he told himself. “Next, I’m just going to go and walk around Ponyville without this cloak!” He growled. “And why is it so dark in here?!”
Almost instantly, the lights sprung on, and what was probably the entire population of Ponyville, including the six Elements of Harmony, jumped out from some kind of hiding place, yelling “SURPRISE!!”
Then, they all gasped.
“What?” the changeling asked them. He looked down and saw his hooves. With holes. “Uh...” Oh, right, he’d taken off his cloak. And his sunglasses.
...In front of a few hundred ponies. “I can explain?”
Somewhere in the back, he could hear Rarity faint.