Pony Predators of Equestria

by Pentarctagon

Chapter 17 Interlude of Food

Twilight awakes in darkness.

Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she squints at her shadowy surroundings, her focus quickly flicking between each of her windows – every one of them covered by a blackout curtain and faintly outlined by sunlight. Shifting on her bed of books to look behind her, Twilight blinks in surprise at the sight of Luna lying asleep on what appears to be a jumbo version of Rarity's fainting couch, her gently flowing mane and tail casting a dim blue light a few inches in all directions.

For a time, Twilight simply stares, unwilling to look away from the soothing dance of the sparkling pseudo-stars within Luna's mane. However, after several minutes something above her creaks and she glances up – letting out a shocked yelp as she sees the silhouettes of three figures hanging above her. Covering her mouth with her hooves, she glances around frantically then looks at the figures again, renewed scrutiny revealing them to be the three thestral guards who had accompanied Luna, each of them hanging by their tail from newly embedded hooks in her ceiling. The guard closest to her sways slightly, another creak following as his legs shift beneath the wings wrapping his body.

Panting, Twilight closes her eyes and draws in a deep breath, bringing her right hoof to her chest. After counting to ten she exhales slowly, moving her hoof away as she does so until her leg is fully extended and her lungs are empty.


Twilight's ears prick at the sound of Celestia's whispered voice and she opens her eyes, following a thin shaft of light to a gap in the black curtains blockading the entrance to her kitchen. Celestia's head pokes out from between them, and she motions for Twilight to join her before withdrawing from the room.

Squinting and shielding her eyes against the sudden brightness, Twilight makes her way over to her kitchen table, taking a seat at the side to Celestia's left.

"You have noticed your new house guests, I assume?" Celestia queries, a small, amused smile on her lips as she sips her tea. Pouring a second cup, she offers it to Twilight, "I hope it's alright that I dipped into your stash on my own rather than waking you, given the circumstances."

"Uhh, yes, it is; and yes, I have," Twilight replies, carefully lowering her hoof from her eyes while taking the proffered beverage in her magic. "And despite all the weird and crazy things that've happened in the last 48 hours, I still was not expecting to see ponies hanging from hooks in my ceiling."

Celestia giggles, "So I heard."

"The vamponies are in the basement too," Spike adds helpfully over sudden sizzling from his place at the stove.

"Of course they are… " Twilight sighs, leaning back and taking a long sip from her cup. "Thank you, Spike, that is very good to know."

Note to self, do not go into the basement until the vamponies are awake. Also, find a new hiding place for my tea.

She yawns, looking over at the stove, "Please tell me that's breakfast."

"Lunch, actually," Spike replies enthusiastically. "I'm making waffles!"

Twilight glances at the white alicorn sitting at the table with her, pausing as she notices the slight discoloration beneath Celestia's eyes, then back to their draconic cook, "Spike. Princess Celestia is here, and you're making waffles? For lunch?"

Spike rolls his eyes, "Hey, don't look at me; she's the one who requested it."

Twilight returns her bewildered gaze to Celestia, who nods, "And I have to say, they do smell quite delicious, Spike."

"Thank you, Princess," Spike replies, removing another waffle from the iron and adding it to the top of a huge interleaved stack of both plain and chocolate chip waffles beside him.

Carefully lifting the large plate upon which the waffles rest, Spike makes his way over to the table, pushing the stack into its center before returning first to the pantry and then to the fridge beside it, "Available toppings include chocolate chips, oats, strawberries, blueberries, syrup, whipped cream, and powdered rubies."

"I think I'll pass on the rubies," Twilight says amusedly, levitating the toppings over to the table as Spike pulls them out.

Spike shrugs, walking back and taking his seat, "Eh, figured I'd ask."

With an eagerness unbecoming of a princess, Celestia grabs three of the chocolate chip waffles and thoroughly covers them with whipped cream, the ensuing bombardment of strawberries and even more chocolate chips leaving the white landscape of her plate pockmarked and discolored. Her meal thus prepared, she digs in, Spike snickering at the sight while he uses the last of the whipped cream on his waffles before covering them in ruby dust. Twilight quietly watches the pair decorate their meal, rolling her eyes and opting instead for the simplicity of syrup to cover her own waffles.

Silence envelopes the trio while they eat, the tower of waffles quickly falling before them, its only remnants destined to be the crumbs and leftover toppings on each of the eaters' smaller plates. However, as Spike reaches for the fourth to last waffle, a golden shield appears around the plate to block his outstretched claw.

"Sorry Spike," Celestia apologizes, "but we do need to save a few for my sister."

"I guess… " Spike replies regretfully, withdrawing his claw. "Isn't she going to be asleep for, like, the rest of the day though?"

"Normally you would be correct; however, she did not wish to be left out of any discussion regarding the vamponies. She seems quite fascinated by them," Celestia answers, her gaze shifting from Spike to Twilight. "Unfortunately I had to raise the sun mid-trip and have not been able to meet them in person yet, so I am curious as to what your impression of them has been thus far as well, Twilight."

"They're different," Twilight states simply. "Not different like Zecora; I mean really, fundamentally different; but similar, too. They eat meat and drink blood, and yet at the same time at least one of them has apparently been breaking into Golden Oaks because she wants to read and is even a fan of Daring Do. It's… kind of disconcerting, to be honest. The same applies to the changelings as well, in a way. Neither of them are at all what I would have expected. Or who."

"I'm glad to hear you've found some common ground with the vamponies," Celestia replies, frowning slightly. "The changelings are a different matter, however. Perhaps you could give me a quick summary of how they came to be involved before we wake Luna? The vamponies and Sombra she was well aware of, but much of the information we received about the two changelings came from rather… caffeinated townsponies, and was somewhat conflicting to say the least."

Twilight's ears perk up and she straightens, "Alright, um… I became suspicious of Cheerilee, Ponyville's schoolteacher, after she and Dawn, one of the vamponies, seemed to know each other much better than they should have. So I cast the changeling revealing spell on her, and it turned out she actually was a changeling and I wasn't just being paranoid. Then Big Mac, her coltfriend and Applejack's brother, showed up and they had a big romantic scene where she convinced him, and then he convinced me, that she actually was Cheerilee and hadn't replaced anypony. I'm not entirely sure how the town is going to react once everypony realizes their kids are being given a basic education by a changeling, buuut… we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, I suppose. Anyway! Then Lyra, Ponyville's… resident lyricist? I think? I'm not actually sure what she does for a living, but regardless, she revealed that her marefriend, Bon Bon, is also a changeling."

Twilight sighs, "And then Bon Bon denied that they had anything to do with the Canterlot invasion because there are actually multiple changeling queens in Equestria, at which point I was just… I couldn't handle it anymore, so I told the changelings to go home and stay there until one of us called for them and if they didn't do so I'd have all changelings declared enemies of Equestria. After that I teleported back here, went to sleep, woke up, and then we ate waffles.

"I see. Multiple changeling queens… that is indeed worrisome." Princess Celestia raises an eyebrow, "Did you learn anything else about these queens or their hives? Such as where they are located, what their intentions might be now that they've been discovered, why these two changelings are in Ponyville, or what their goals are?"

Twilight shakes her head, "No, I-"

"Why not?" Celestia interjects, her frown deepening.

"W-Well," Twilight replies, "I… like I said, I was at the end of my rope, and decided we could ask them more questions today once you and Luna were here and awake?"

Celestia leans down and stares into Twilight's eyes, concern clearly present in her own.

Twilight blinks, leaning away, "Is something wrong, Princess?"

Celestia watches her intently for another few seconds, then straightens and sighs, "No, nothing is wrong. I just had to be sure. It isn't like you to let such an opportunity to gather new knowledge pass you by."

Twilight shifts uncomfortably, "I mean, I guess that's true. And you thought the changelings might've influenced me somehow to avoid having to answer those kinds of questions?"

"It certainly seemed like a possibility, given the circumstances, though I am glad that my concerns appear to be unfounded," Celestia replies, grasping her now empty teacup in her magic and tapping one of the kitchen windows.

A grey flash following the third tap heralds the arrival of a Royal Guard, the stallion bowing deeply, "Princess?"

Celestia places her teacup on the table, "Lieutenant Double Time, please escort the two changelings living in Ponyville here so that we may speak with them. Princess Twilight can tell you where they are located."

"They should both be in their homes," Twilight supplies to a stoic Double Time. "If they aren't, then they're probably long gone by now. Assuming they're still here though, one of them lives northeast of the schoolhouse near Quills and Sofas – it's the shop with a sign hanging off it containing the image of a quill, a plus sign, and the image of a sofa – and her name is Cheerilee. The other lives about a block south of Sugarcube Corner, and her name is Bon Bon. Sugarcube Corner is the giant house which looks like it's made of candy, so one of the pegasus guards should be able to find it pretty easily. Ponyville doesn't have house numbers though, or printed names on most of the stores, so those are the best directions I can give you, but their neighbors should be able to point you at the right house."

"By your command," Double Time replies, briskly saluting and horn glowing grey as he prepares to leave the way he came.

"Bring the other Elements as well," Twilight adds quickly. "Lyra Heartstrings and McIntosh Apple too. Lyra's a mint green unicorn with a lyre cutie mark, and she lives with Bon Bon. Big Mac is a large red earth pony with a green apple cutie mark and he lives at Sweet Apple Acres, though after what happened he also may have gone with Cheerilee to her home."

"Lyra Heartstrings and McIntosh Apple, they are involved with the changelings?" Double Time asks, his tone carefully neutral.

"They are romantically involved, yes," Twilight clarifies pointedly.

Double Time nods stiffly, "I understand. Thank you, Princess Twilight."

Princess Celestia stands as soon as the guard disappears in another flash of grey, pouring herself a fresh cup of tea and levitating the plate of four waffles to her side along with the bowl of remaining blueberries.

Pausing with a hoof raised to the curtains shrouding the library's doorway, she glances back at the dragon gathering their dirty plates, "Spike, could you put a pot of coffee on? At this hour I doubt we'll be able to keep Luna awake for long otherwise – don't bother with a cup once it's ready either, just bring the pot. Also a fruit bowl, if possible; from what I hear, Luna's guards have become quite fond of the Apples' apples."

"Of course," Spike replies, offering a quick salute as he carries their dishes to the sink.

Celestia smiles, "Thank you, Spike."

Pushing the curtains aside, Celestia enters the main library followed closely by Twilight, the pair waiting for their eyes to adjust to the darkness within.

Walking over to Luna once she can see well enough to not trip on any debris, Celestia nudges her sister gently, "Luna, it is time to wake up."

Princess Luna groans and stretches, her hooves not quite reaching either end of the couch, "…Tis too early, sister."

"I know, however you were the one who wished to-" a snore interrupts her, Luna's eyelids sagging shut as she slips back out of the waking world. Clearing her throat, Celestia glances at Twilight, "You may wish to cover your ears."

Twilight's eyes widen in understanding and she pulls her ears down, pressing them flat to her head as Celestia takes a deep breath.


Triple thumps sound off behind her, Luna's guards dropping like rocks from their hooks. They leap to their hooves with trained speed however, two standing at attention while the third instead slips on one of the many books strewn about the floor. A disgruntled Luna meanwhile rolls over to stare up at her smugly grinning sister, the shadows beneath her eyes as prominent as Celestia's despite her darker coat, "You enjoyed that entirely too much."

Celestia giggles, "What goes around, comes around; you have done the same to me often enough. Besides, you were the one who asked me to wake you."

Luna groans again, rolling further until she falls from the couch to lay sprawled on the floor, "We demand coffee."

Celestia places the plate and bowl in front of her, "I have waffles and blueberries."

"Coffee," Luna repeats, glaring tiredly at her sister.

Celestia lets out a long suffering sigh, "I asked Spike to make a pot. Though how you can stand to drink the stuff is, as always, beyond me."

Luna snorts, taking a bite out of the top waffle in the stack and popping a pair of blueberries into her mouth while she chews, "At least we did not spend the better part of five decades negotiating and renegotiating for trade rights to a few plants from nearly every tribe in the Zebrican Confederation."

"I will have you know, my efforts in those trade agreements covered far more than my tea leaves and they set the stage for centuries of peaceful relations between our peoples," Celestia sniffs, raising her nose in mock offense.

After several seconds she glances down, the two Alicorns holding each other's gaze for a split second before dissolving into a fit of giggles.

"Coffee and a bunch of apples, as requested," Spike announces, stopping in his tracks as soon as the curtain behind him cuts off the kitchen's light. "Wow, it's really dark in here."

The faintly steaming pot of coffee in his left claw glows blue, yanking itself from his grasp and shooting across the room to stop in front of Princess Luna who immediately drinks from it. The entire room watches in silence while she drains the dark liquid, only pausing to take a breath once half the coffee is gone.

"Aaahh~" Luna sighs contentedly, shivering as the welcome dose of caffeine enters her system.

"Isn't that hot?" Twilight queries.

"Extremely," Luna replies.

"Um, your highness," one of the thestral guards says, looking hopefully from Luna to the large bowl of apples, then back to Luna, "may we… ?"

Luna dismisses them with a wave of her hoof, "Consider yourselves off duty until tonight."

The three bow and trot towards Spike, the drake placing the bowl on the floor before carefully making his way over to Twilight.

"Kinda loud, aren't they?" Spike mutters rhetorically as the sound of apples having their vital juices drained fills the room, Twilight giving him a disapproving nudge in response.

A few seconds later, Spike taps her shoulder, "Hey… Twilight?"

"Yes, Spike?"

"Has anypony gone into the basement since the vamponies went down there?"

"I don't think so," Twilight answers, only now glancing at the ominous gap in the curtains blocking the tunnel to her basement. "Celestia and I didn't at least. Luna?"

Luna shakes her head, "Neither my guards nor I have entered your basement."

The gathered alicorns, thestrals, and dragon peer around the room, all nervous to varying degrees. Eventually Luna's gaze falls on Twilight, her apprehensive frown fading to be replaced by a mischievous smile.

Twilight looks back at Luna questioningly, however her confusion quickly transforms into terror as a wave of hot, moist air rolls across the left side of her neck.


Whirling 180 degrees, Twilight's magic surges into her horn, its tip glowing like a beacon in the darkened room. However, as her eyes dart from point to point, her horn's light reveals nothing but shadows cast by the wreckage leftover from the previous night. While she examines the area before her for any sign or discrepancy to indicate the vampony's location, something smacks her tail and she spins around again, only to once more be greeted by empty space. Muffled laughter sounds off vaguely to her right and she automatically glances towards it, instead finding Celestia with a hoof raised to shield her eyes from Twilight's hornlight rather than a vampony.

A couple seconds later, the guards squint at something just over her shoulder, the three tensing in unison as if to rush towards her despite the painfully bright purple light. Against her better judgment, Twilight turns around one last time – a mouthful of pointed teeth and fangs a mere inch from her muzzle greeting her while glowing red eyes with slitted pupils stare into her very soul.


Twilight's breath hitches and she prepares to scream – just in time for a smaller body to impact the base of her neck, small hooves gently wrapping themselves around her throat and a filly's voice whispering in her ear.


Midnight holds a leg over her eyes and takes a few unsteady steps away from Twilight as the light from the alicorn's horn flares before fading to nothing, her ears splaying back, "Ow-ow-ow-ow… "

"Midnight?" Dawn calls out, slipping off Twilight's barrel with a quiet thud.


"I can't see! Everything's green!"

Midnight carefully lowers her leg, blinking rapidly while she waits for her vision to return, "Mhm."

"I think they will make a wonderful addition to Nightmare Night, don't you?" Luna amusedly queries Celestia.

"I… suppose… " Celestia concedes hesitantly. "So the larger one is Midnight?"

"Yes, and the younger one is Dawn," Luna confirms after draining the last of her coffee.

Celestia clears her throat sharply, "Midnight. Dawn. I am not sure what you meant to do to Twilight, but will she be alright?"

"What?" Midnight asks, glancing at Celestia then back to Twilight, her eyes narrowing to peer through the green haze still clouding her sight. "Oh. Yeah, she'll be fine."

Midnight waves a hoof in front of the frozen mare, however her thousand yard stare remains unchanged, pupils refusing to even twitch. Frowning, Midnight boops Twilight's nose. The poked princess leaps into the air with a yelp as though Midnight's touch had opened the pressure release valve in her brain, her limbs flailing randomly until she falls to the floor in a panting heap.

"Don't… do… that… " Twilight gasps, her heart hammering in her chest.

Midnight grins in response, though her amusement fades as she watches Twilight shiver, "You are going to be alright, right?"

"Yes, I will be fine," Twilight replies, taking several deep breaths and offering a wan smile. "That was pure nightmare fuel though."

"It was supposed to be fun," Dawn says abashedly.

Midnight nods, "You were supposed to strike back or run around or, you know, do something that involved moving."

"Regardless, if you're quite finished terrifying my former student into a stupor," Celestia interjects, a hint of acid leaking into her voice, "I have managed to obtain some food for you and your sister."

Raising her horn, magic surges through it to briefly bathe the room in a brilliant, yellow light.

"Seriously, why are we even keeping it so dark in here if everypony is just going to keep making it bright anyway?" Spike asks, rubbing his eyes and watching the blinded bat ponies stare aimlessly at their surroundings.

"He makes an excellent point," Luna agrees, giving her sister a flat look.

Celestia deigns not to respond, her golden magical aura now casting a relatively dim light as it engulfs the cloche covering a large silver platter. Midnight's and Dawn's ears simultaneously stand straight up the instant Celestia lifts the food cover, both raising their noses to sniff the air before turning towards the platter.

"Ce… Celestia?" Twilight stammers, "W-Where did you even get all that?!"

Luna raises an eyebrow, "Ozymandias?"

Celestia sighs, massaging the bridge of her nose, "Ozymandias."

"He will probably be angry."


"Maybe even enough to leave?"

Celestia sends a resigned look in Canterlot's direction, "One can only hope… "

"I'm sorry, who?" Twilight squeaks out, her and the thestrals' eyes still locked onto the freshly teleported pile of cooked meat and bone.

"High Lord Ozymandias of Griffonstone, as he likes to call himself," Luna answers derisively. "His people are starving while his city is falling apart around him, yet he still manages to find time to abuse an emergency diplomatic provision in our treaty with the Griffon clans to 'grace the lesser plant-eating species with his presence' as he likes to so succinctly put it. He is an arrogant bastard of a griffon, and the world will be well served by his departure from it."

"Oh," Twilight replies simply, her focus shifting from the full platter to the vamponies now standing in front of it.

Midnight and Dawn lean down and sniff the meat suspiciously, trading each other a confused look before Midnight extends her tongue to lick the nearest sausage link. Instantly her head shoots up and she unsteadily backpedals a few steps, her eyes crossing to stare at her muzzle while her tongue hangs out of her mouth.

Dawn snickers, Midnight glaring at her indignantly and pointing at the offending piece of meat, "You try it then."

Obliging with a roll of her eyes, Dawn sinks her teeth into the sausage only to leap back as if it had bit her instead, narrowing her eyes at it warily from a couple feet away.

"Perhaps it is spoiled?" Luna suggests, "It does not appear so to us, however our knowledge on the subject is quite limited."

"No, I mean it's cooked, which is different, but there's something else there too," Midnight explains, gesturing at the platter. "Something sharp, and tingly."

Dawn nods in agreement, "And hot."

A long, uncertain pause meets their description until Twilight starts to giggle, apologetically waving away an annoyed glare from Midnight, "Sorry, but what you're saying is it's a little spicy."

Midnight looks at her questioningly, "And that's… normal?"

"I don't know," Twilight replies with a shrug, focusing on the wall just over Midnight's head to keep the pile of flesh at the edge of her peripheral vision, "but spices have been put on literally everything at some point or another, so it isn't too surprising that griffons put it on their food as well."

"Oh," Midnight replies, examining the surrounding food with her nose before pulling a chunk of meat off a femur. "Weird."

"Gross, more like," one of Luna's guards mutters, his muzzle twisted in distaste.


The two ends of the bone clatter to the floor, Midnight giving the offending guard an unamused look as she pops the center piece from between the sides of her upper jaw with her tongue.

"Ugh, the marrow's all hard," she grumbles.

"I don't get why you'd cook any of this anyway," Dawn says, gnawing on a rib. "It makes everything so dry."

Two of the guards look away from the flesh devouring vamponies, the closer of them holding a hoof to his mouth as his stomach rumbles ominously, "I think I'm going to be sick."

"Not here you're not!" Twilight shouts, teleporting him away in a dim purple flash.

"There's already enough stuff on the floor without anypony else adding to it," she mutters, the telltale sound of vomit entering a toilet reaching the group a few seconds later.

The third guard stares up at the ceiling towards the source of the sound, then glances first at his remaining nauseated compatriot then again at the vamponies. Shrugging, he picks up another apple in his mouth, puncturing its red skin with his short fangs and draining it dry.