• Published 11th Jul 2013
  • 4,878 Views, 246 Comments

Wolf In Pony's Clothing - Ardashir

Ardi the wolf is hiding out in Ponyville from an angry dragon and enraged ponies. Oh, and he's disguised as Rarity. AND a fear of Changelings and other monsters pretending to be ponies stalks the land. What could possibly go wrong?

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Day Three: Adventures in Fillysitting

Day Three: Adventures in Fillysitting

Deep beneath Canterlot, Queen Vespid paced deeper into the passages and chambers of her hive. Past walls of stone and paper and Changeling goop, passageways that glowed softly with a greenish organic light, many of them older than the Sun Palace above.

Hive Vespid had hidden amid the roots of Mount Epona since the ponies first built their post-Nightmare Moon capital, sending shapeshifted drones Topside to harvest the emotions of Canterlot’s ponies, returning with nourishment for their Hive and Queen. Always hidden, always discreet, careful not to get too greedy or numerous to ever be discovered. The way of the Changeling. An arrangement that had kept Hive and Queen safe.

Until now.

She passed still-damaged walls, hurriedly patched with chewed paper and Changeling-slime and here and there, chunks of foreign-smelling dark gray chitin. She could smell the ichor and pain on them from the Hive Vespid Changelings who’d gone smashing into them on that terrible day, dying without even knowing why.

Discord take you, Chrysalis…

Changelings appeared from the depths, wings buzzing plaintively, as they pleaded for what she bore.

[Please, O Queen,] they whined again and again, “speaking” in buzzes and scents and movements of their wings and bodies. They rubbed up against her, pleading for her to share some of the love she’d found above. They could smell it on her as easily as she could, that combination of sweetness and warmth with a spicy undercurrent that said ‘young lovers’ to any Changeling who’d gotten past their nymph stage. [Please, feed Us. We’re all so hungry.]

She drove them back with buzzing snarls and once or twice a blast of power from her horn to send them stumbling. [Feed off of the returning scouts,] she told them. [What I bear is not for you. Have you forgotten some of Us cannot leave the Hive?]

They shrank back, their scents burning with hunger and hurt. Vespid forced herself to ignore them as she turned down the passage that led to the most important parts of the Hive. They can go Topside and gather emotions for themselves. But only I can do this right now. Her memories curdled within her as she thought of the Changelings who’d been able to feed the nymphlings, all smashed against the walls of the nursery by That Spell as they frantically tried to defend the Hive’s young.

It was all Queen Chrysalis’ fault. First she’d knocked over dozens of other Changeling Queens from the Wastelands to the Everfree, absorbing their Hives and Swarms into her own while Hive Vespid stayed hidden and safe beneath Canterlot. Then last year, when Queen Vespid had personally led her shapeshifted swarm Topside to gorge on the chance-offered feast of the Royal Wedding, Chrysalis had made her move, first infiltrating the city in the form of an Alicorn Minor – a Pony PRINCESS, the Royal Bride herself! Then she’d taken down the city’s shields in mid-wedding to lead the largest Changeling swarm in Equestria’s history in a full frontal assault on the Pony capital. An all-or-nothing decapitation strike, just like she’d done to all the other Hive Queens.

Discord take you, Chrysalis…

Vespid came back from her reverie to find herself in the inner broodchambers, their walls chewed out and plastered with Changeling goo, glowing with a faint fungal fire. Nymphs chittered, their eyes wide and chitin still soft, and pupae hung from the stalactites above. A pair of drones, all the Hive could spare for nursery duty now, played with and cleaned their charges. Fewer than ever before, so few their Queen herself had to go Topside to recharge and harvest.

Speaking of which… Vespid went down the array of eggs and nymphs and pupae. She smiled, lips of chitin folding back over her fangs as the tiny nymphlings stretched their muzzles up to hers. [Hungry, are you?] She fed each of them, not much, but hopefully enough. [Here. Take what your Queen and Mother can give.] Their excited little chitters delighted her as they fed. But when she passed them by, even though they fell silent, she could feel their blank eyes on her, silently asking for more. Too few eggs now, too few nymphs, too few drones, ever since the Battle of Canterlot.

The drones watched her silently. One flew over, her wings buzzing softly.

[O Queen,] she pleaded. [Is there no more?]

[None,] Vespid responded. She could feel the desperate hunger of the nymphs and grief of the nursery keepers through the empathic pool the Hive shared. [It was all I could glean. The ponies now have those lanterns all over the city to disrupt our shapeshifting. Things will become even leaner.] The drone buzzed after her, pleading. Vespid turned on it with a cold snarl. [We must do all we can with what little we can glean!] She walked away, hearing the drone behind her speak.

[O Queen, if we do not gain more food, our nymphs will die.]

I know.

When the city’s shields went down, Hive Vespid had fled back to their lair in the catacombs, drones shielding their Queen while the choking stench of Hive Chrysalis pheromones flooded in, followed by their emitters. Dropping their shapeshifted forms, they’d found themselves forced to fight their way past stampeding ponies while Chrysalis’ swarm darkened the sky, attacking pony and alien Changeling alike. Finally they’d reached the entrances and disappeared into their centuries-old tunnel warrens collapsing the entryways behind them. And when the scent of Chrysalis herself reached the Hive, Vespid remembered little more than her drones and guards swarming her, holding her down to prevent their Queen from flying out and attacking.

[Enemy! Invader! She seeks to take my Hive!]

[No, O Queen! She defeated the Ponies’ Hive Queen, she will kill you!]

It didn’t spare them from the magic blast that ended the Battle of Canterlot, scattering Chrysalis and her super-swarm back across the Wastelands and smashing Vespid’s Changelings against the cavern walls. Between Swarm Chrysalis and pony magic, more than half of Hive Vespid had died that day, weakening the Hive to the point their Queen herself had to go Topside just to get enough nourishment to lay eggs and feed nymphlings. And with those new pony-magic lanterns, and the terror Chrysalis aroused in the ponies?

Discord TAKE you, Chrysalis!

* * *

Ardi was in Tartarus.

He raced frantically from one end of the room to the next, trying to keep up with both little fillies at once. They were balls of energy, dashing across the room from one thing to the next with whoops of laughter. He frantically wondered how she-ponies dealt with their young. Wolf pups would have been easy to handle, but he doubted a show of fangs followed by a stiff shake of their ruffs would do much good here.

No matter how tempting the thought was right now.

“Now, fillies,” he said in Rarity’s voice, trying not to pant, “Remember, young ladies are supposed to be gentle and respectful… OW!” He stumbled on a roll of cloth that Sweetie Belle was wrestling with. She’d declared that she was going to make some nice dresses for her friends. Ardi saw no reason not to let her try. The floor of the Boutique was covered in scraps of cloth from her failed efforts. He was beginning to reconsider the wisdom of this decision. “Sweetie Belle, please be careful – hey!” Another roll fell, converting him into a vaguely Rarity-shaped pile of fabric.

“Don’t worry, big sis!” Ardi heard Sweetie Belle call from outside. “Hey, Apple Bloom, come help me!” He saw a second shadowy figure join the first through the thick purple cloth. Both held something in their hooves, shiny and sharp. “We have to cut the pattern out, anyway!”

“Cut what now?” Ardi got his answer when two massive pairs of dressmakers’ shears came through the cloth, headed for his ears. “Rarity” shrieked and ducked; something tugged at his, er, her mane with a sharp shweng! When he dared to open his eyes again he looked down to see a shamefaced unicorn and earth pony filly before him, both with scissors in hoof. Twin tufts of purple mane sat on the floor before them.

“Sorry, big sis.”

He scowled at the fillies.

“Young ladies!” Ardi took the scissors and set them on top of one of the tables, far out of the reach of tiny hooves. He said, “Scalping your sister is not on the list of things to do tonight!” He bent down low and looked into twin pairs of eyes, one soft green and the other warm orange. “Understood?”

Both fillies looked embarrassed. But Sweetie Belle’s expression changed to one of curiosity as she looked up at him. Ardi stopped, suddenly remembering just when and where she’d gotten such a close look at him before. She tilted her head to one side as she looked at him. “Rarity? You look – funny.”

She’s Rarity’s sister – not just pack-sister, but birth-sister! I can’t let her get suspicious! He kept trying to remember Fluttershy’s interrupted acting lessons on how to pass for Rarity. What would Rarity do?

“You nearly lopped one of my ears off, I’d be surprised if I didn’t look funny,” Ardi snapped. Sweetie looked hurt now. “Rarity” chewed her lower lip and reconsidered. They were just pups after all. And who could recognize him like this? He hugged her, but lightly. “I’m sorry, Sweetie, but maybe you and your friend could calm down a little? Like, right now?” “Rarity” looked from one pony-pup to the next. He thought, what do wolf pups like to do? Play, chase each other, fight their pups’ dominance fights, sleep – they slept sometimes, didn’t they – eat…


“Anywol – anypony hungry?” Almost immediately both fillies smiled at him.

“I’m hungry!” they both chorused.

“Good,” Ardi said, leading the way to the kitchen. He heard their tiny hooves clopping over the wooden floor behind him. Such little ponies, almost bite-sized. No! No thinking like that! Controlling his hunger, he led them to the stove. Fluttershy’s boiling kettle of that meat substitute set atop it. Its odor filled the room, thick and slightly rank even though his suit-dampened sense of smell. He shook himself in disgust. More beans! Still, when in Equestria… He started to enter the room, only to stop when he realized that the sound of hooves no longer followed him. He turned and saw the fillies at the door, looking vaguely repulsed.

“What’s the matter?”

“Umm, big sis,” Sweetie said, “what smells so, uh…”

“So completely disgusting?” Apple Bloom said. She took a deep whiff and mimed gagging. “It kinda smells like that stuff Fluttershy makes for her animals that eat meat.” Ardi was about to say something when she added, “It smells worse ‘n that stuff that one griffin caravan brings ta town when they come here ta show those fancy new movie things.”

That got his attention. “Rarity” stalked over to the little filly and eyed her intently. She looked back at him, a trifle nervous. She lightly scraped the floor with one forehoof. He remembered the strength in her kicks and took a deep, calming breath before he spoke.

“Wait, how often does this caravan come to town?” Apple Bloom grinned nervously as “Rarity” asked, “I’d love to get some of that meat.” Ardi swallowed a mouthful of drool. Meat – real meat!

“Since when did y’all like ta eat meat, Miss Rarity?” The filly rubbed her red mane. “And don’t ya know when it comes ta Ponyville? Ya live here.”

Think fast, wolf! Pony! Whatever!

Ardi looked down at little Apple Bloom. Her name fit. She smelled sweet, like fresh apples. And juicy… No, no, none of that! She was giving “Rarity” an odd look, one equaled by Sweetie Belle beside her.

“Oh! Ahh,” Ardi thought fast, long tail lashing. “I wanted to get it for…” WWRD?

He caught sight of a small dinner bowl on the floor from the corner of one eye. “For my cat! Yes, I thought the poor little kitty deserved some meat. Nice, bloody, dripping meat…” His eyes drifted shut at the thought of a small pile of freshly-killed game before him.

“But, big sis, I thought you said that fish was better for Opal?”

“Well, dear little sister, sometimes you need to mix up what you give your cat, and I think she deserves some meat. She’s been so well-behaved lately,” he said, priding himself on how much he sounded and acted like that spear-head mare Rarity as he went to the cupboard to take some plates out. He wondered, where is that blasted cat, anyway?

Never mind the cat, where’s Fluttershy? When’s she coming back?

Careful not to show his teeth, he gripped the knob with his mouth and pulled the door open. Opal promptly dove down from atop the cupboard and sank all four sets of claws into his rump.

Ardi almost bounced off the ceiling, howling in pain. He looked over his shoulder, eyes blazing. The white cat hissed at him and sank its claws in even deeper. Ardi started chasing his own tail, snarling all the while, “You wretched little assassin, when I get my fangs on you…!”

Opal hissed, spat, and leaped down to run out the door. Ardi almost charged out after it when he caught sight of the fillies out of the corner of one eye. They were staring at “Rarity”, eyes wide and jaws hanging.

Think fast, wolf! Fluttershy, come back!

He quickly thought of something Fluttershy told him earlier about Rarity, a line her friend liked to use in her more embarrassing moments.

“Dears, let us never speak of this again.” Fumbling with the maresuit’s forehooves, he took some plates down and set out the bread bowl Fluttershy brought for him. It was brown and crusty and big enough to hold what he considered a wolf-sized meal to be. Then using his mouth, he took a large spoon from a drawer and filled his bowl with it. The fillies rather warily made their way to the table as he asked them around the spoon handle, “Now, what do you want? Some of this?” He held the spoon out with a turn of his head. The mashed beans dripped slowly from it. The fillies looked disgusted.

“Uh, if it’s okay with you, Miss Rarity, maybe we could make our own dinner?” Apple Bloom said. “I know you said after that one time we tried to help Sweetie Belle with some cooking here that we should never do it again, but, well, maybe just this once?” She looked at the bean paste and shuddered. “We’re really not all that big on soybeans.”

Ardi thought it over and shrugged. WWRD? “Sure. I mean,” the wolf added quickly, “Why of course, darlings. Why wouldn’t I trust my own little sister and her friend to cook up something nice for themselves?”

“Really?” Apple Bloom said. She turned to Sweetie Belle and added, “Wow, Sweetie, your big sis sure calmed down since th’ last time we tried cookin’ here!”

“Yeah,” Sweetie Belle said. Ardi caught the suspicious look the little white marshmallow of a spear-head sent “her” way. She brightened and added, “Is it okay if I make some of my orange juice for you again, big sis? Mom and Dad love it.”

“Eh,” Ardi said, “Yes, I’d love it. I’ll just eat my beans here.” Catching their looks, he added, “Oh, this is health food. I have to watch my figure, after all.” He thought, mares say that, right? Apple Bloom snickered at his words.

“Mah big sis says that half th’ stallions in Ponyville are always watchin’ yore…” Ardi heard no more. Following the best lupine table manners, he plunged his muzzle into the mashed beans and wolfed it down. Then he tore the bread bowl apart, lingering only slightly over the taste, and gulped it down as well. “Rarity” sat back up, enthusiastically licking the salty soybeans from “her” muzzle.

“Good,” he said. “Better than nothing, anyway.” He turned to the little ones. “Okay, do you want help with your food?”

They just stared at him, frozen, eyes engulfing their faces. He looked down and saw that some of the paste had fallen and stained his snowy white chest. He started to lick it off and hesitated. “Oh, I’d better go and clean this up. You’ll be fine without me, won’t you?” The pony-pups nodded, slow and silent, never taking their eyes off of him. He trotted off through the mud room to the bathroom, humming to himself as he closed the door behind him.

I think it’s all going very well indeed, he thought as he wiped himself off with his tongue. The ponies guess who I am? He barked a laugh. Fluttershy had nothing to worry about. I’m better at being a mare than this ‘Rarity’ herself!

* * *

In the Royal Chamber deep beneath Canterlot, at the center of Hive Vespid, the Changeling Queen paced her phosphorescent dais, wings vibrating. Her jagged horn glowed with yellow fire as she levitated book after book, magazine after magazine from the piles around the dais, opening them to the bookmarked sections like Twilight Sparkle on a studying binge.

One of the Hive drones attending her – now only two instead of a dozen – chewed on a scrap from a stack of newspapers. A spark leapt from the Queen’s horn to strike him; he hissed and spat it back out, backing away against the soft fungal glow of the chamber walls.

Books and magazines and pages torn from magazines whirled around her; her horn glowed like a reading lamp, illuminating the print and pictures of Changelings – primarily in the black-and-teal of Swarm Chrysalis, but some in other colors. Including the yellow-and-black of Hive Vespid. She snarled – Do they know of Us? – then bent closer to read the Equestrian titles text.

Amazing Worlds, Changeling Apocalypse, Changelings: the Anthology, The Changeling Threat, the same bit novels and news magazines and pulp magazines Spike had shown Fluttershy. Pages torn from tabloids and pulps, images of vicious Changelings, blood dripping from fangs and palps, hovering over hapless or defiant ponies. Vespid buzzed her wings in disgust. Changelings didn’t need to harm another being when they fed on its emotions. Since they preferred to feed on love, some harvestings could at least be mutually joyful. For some sorts of love anyway, but even when it was the deep and belly-filling warmth of parents and foals, the sharp-tasting delight of some pony artist or crafter creating a masterpiece, or the seemingly endless sweetness of a family, feeding on love didn’t stop the ponies from feeling love. But the ponies either didn’t know or didn’t care. As she read, her anger and fear spilled out into the empathic pool Hive Vespid shared.

She turned to the pile of newspapers her attendant drone had chewed on. Mostly The Canterlot Sun with some of its recent rival Equestria Daily and an occasional Manehatten Times, all keeping her up on current events Topside. Levitating the Canterlot Sun she’d picked up at the newsstand, she started through the headline articles she’d skimmed Topside. The ones headed by the file photo of a certain unicorn mare and the headline ELEMENT OF MAGIC IN CANTERLOT – WHY? Vespid knew about that mare, from newspapers and news magazines after the Day of Discord and Battle of Canterlot – Twilight Sparkle, sister of the stallion who drove Chrysalis from the city and who was mentioned in a side article as “The new Prince Consort of the Crystal Empire.”

Vespid began to read, going through in detail what she’d only skimmed before. And as she did her glowing yellow eyes went wider and wider.

In the nursery chambers, young nymphlings began to chitter in fear as the raw emotions Vespid was dumping into the empathic pool washed across them. Throughout the Hive drones looked at each other in shock, their bodies suddenly emitting terror and rage-filled pheromones in response to what they felt. As one the summons from their Queen went through them all.

[To the Royal Chamber! NOW!]

Vespid didn’t even look to see her Changelings surrounding her as they flew into the chamber, filling the floor around the dais, clinging to the glowing walls. Power burned along her horn like a torch as she read. Frightened for their Queen, frightened for the Hive, but even more frightened for themselves, the lesser Changelings held back. The emotional flow from their Queen went through them. Dread first, then sudden sharp rage mixed with wet cold fear, and then the dread again, growing ever more intense.

[Exclusive: A highly-placed source in the Sun Palace has told our reporters that The Element of Magic’s presence is related to ongoing research on controlling the Changeling Threat revealed at the Royal Wedding.] She read it out to her gathered hive.

[According to our exclusive source, Their Immortal Highnesses and the Element of Magic are developing a magical weapon that will end any and all fears of Changeling infiltration forever.] The paper dropped from the grip of her telekinesis as the full effect of everything she’d read hit home.

[The Ponies know of Us,] she said to the hive. Their shock and horror flowed back, mirroring her own emotions. [Since Our first Queen, We – all the Hives and Swarms – have survived by remaining invisible and unknown, feeding off of the Ponies without inflicting harm. In secrecy lies safety. It is the first thing taught every nymphling before ever going Topside and meeting actual Ponies. But now – thanks to Chrysalis – they know of Us.] She looked around at her Changelings.

[And they mean to kill Us.]

[Queen?] Vespid scowled to see the new guard from before. He looked barely out of his first molt, his carapace almost gleaming as he stepped forward, buzzing. [Did, did they say that they meant to kill Us?]

[What else can it mean?] Every Changeling in the chamber cringed at the surge of fear and rage from their Queen. [Chrysalis – may Discord take her! – attacked Canterlot, attacked Celestia, tried to kill some of the Sun-Princess’s Swarm!] She buzzed her wings in disgust. [Celestia can never forgive such a thing. She will have to destroy a threat to her Swarm and Hive!]

Another young drone chittered, [Maybe she can forgive the loss of a few Ponies?]

Queen Vespid shook her head, her black and gold mane spilling. [To attack the Swarm and Hive is to attack the Queen. Who can forgive the deaths of their nymphlings?] Her horn glowed and another book floated up. No paperback or pulp magazine or tabloid this, but an old and thick tome that opened to page after illuminated bookmarked page.

One illumination showed a stylized Celestia and a smaller midnight-blue alicorn fighting a long skinny horror made of mismatched parts. Below the illumination, a name in Old Equestrian heiroglyphs – DISCORD, whose long-ago Chaos touch had mutated a love-poisoned Alicorn Minor into the first Changeling Queen.

Another showed the same two stylized Alicorns Major defeating a dark unicorn stallion in barding before a crystal city in an arctic wasteland. SOMBRA, announced the calligraphy below.

Still another, Celestia fighting alone against a twisted version of the other Alicorn Major, no longer smaller or midnight-blue. NIGHTMARE MOON.

And still another, a more realistically-drawn Celestia calling down the sun itself to destroy a great dragon king and his seven sons. SYHLEX.

[Celestia has never been slow to destroy a threat to her ponies,] Vespid buzzed, broadcasting her fear and dread to all in the chamber. [She thinks we want to hurt the ponies. The ponies think we want to hurt them. They will destroy us. As we would slay quarry eels or Diamond Dogs who tunneled into our hive.] Vespid’s cold terror filled the chamber in another empathic wave, reflected off the Swarm to return and break over her. She held her head up proudly, her bioluminescent crown glowing almost golden. [We must stop her. Or Our Hive will die.]


* * *

“Uhh, Sweetie Belle, don’t take this th’ wrong way, but did yore sister go crazy or something without tellin’ anypony?”

“She’s not crazy!” Sweetie shot back at Apple Bloom. She looked at the table, covered with crumbs and splattered beans, much as Rarity herself a moment before.

“And why’s she usin’ her hooves like an earth pony instead of doin’ everythin’ with her horn?”

“Maybe she’s sick? Oh, wait, if she is, then maybe we can make her better and get cutie marks in being nurses!” Apple Bloom gave her a wary look.

“Uhh, Sweetie, we tried that once with Pinkie Pie, remember?” The red-maned earth pony looked pained. “It didn’t end so good.”

“Heh! Maybe we’d better not,” Sweetie said. “Say, remember the homework Miss Cheerilee gave the class?” Her friend groaned in response. She rubbed her head. “Umm, what animal were we supposed to write about again?”

“We’re supposed ta write ‘bout wolves,” Apple Bloom said, “Because if we know what they’re like then ‘we won’t be afraid of them any more’. Or somethin’ like that.” She puffed her chest up. “Ah don’t need ta learn nothin’ ‘bout wolves, Ah’m already not scared of ‘em!” She kicked out behind her with her little hooves. “Hee-yah!”

“They scare me,” Sweetie Belle said with a shiver. She started making her orange juice as she spoke. Maybe this time she could actually get it to still be colored orange when she was done. “What about that one that we saw at the clubhouse two days ago? He was gonna eat me.” She shivered anew at the memory. “I have nightmares about it,” she shamefacedly admitted. “Big fangs, grabbing for me with those paws, and those blue eyes like,” she broke off and said, almost wondering, “Like Rarity’s?”

Curious, she went to her saddlebags and began rummaging in them.

“What’re ya lookin’ for?”

“What I said about Rarity’s eyes. I got this book at the school and it talks all about wolves.” She held it out triumphantly towards her friends. Apple Bloom looked at it.

Lupine Legends: Equestrian Wolf Tales?” Apple Bloom looked warily at her friend. “Uhh, Sweetie, maybe this ain’t what Miss Cheerilee meant.”

“Well, what are we gonna do?” Sweetie answered. “By the time I got there, all the other books on wolves and monsters were checked out.” She frowned. “Dee Tee and Spoony got most of them. I don’t know why, they’ll probably have one of their dads’ servants write it up and then brag about it to us later, like they always do. Besides, this has some good stuff in it. Listen!” She flipped the book open to show a picture of a gruesome wolf first hiding itself inside a dead pony’s hide, and then luring innocent and trusting little fillies off to a cave in the woods filled with pony bones.

“Umm,” Apple Bloom said, pointing at the picture, “Why does it still have a wolf tail, even when it’s made up to look like a pony?”

Sweetie looked at the book. “It says here that wolves can make themselves look like a pony they ate, but there’s always going to be a, uh, a ‘distinguishing characteristic’ that shows they’re not really a pony. Like a wolf tail, or wolf fangs, and,” she flipped a few pages ahead, “They can’t really act much like the pony they replaced. And they’ll do things like…” her voice choked off. Her friend looked at her as she forced it out. “Like… eat… meat…”

Both fillies looked at each other wide-eyed, remembering all the events of the past hour or two. Rarity’s dinner, her odd behavior, her sudden inability to use her horn’s magic, her seeming forgetfulness of what they’d done.

And promptly burst out laughing.

“Wow.” Sweetie Belle said, “For a second there I actually almost thought my big sister was a wolf!” She rolled over on her back laughing.

“Yeah,” Apple Bloom said, tears rolling down her cheeks as she laughed. “Ah did too. Rarity th’ pony-wolf!”

“Yeah,” Sweetie giggled, “My big sis got ate by a wolf and now it’s pretending to be her…”

“What was that about wolves?”

Both of the Cutie Mark Crusaders fell silent at once. They turned to look at the doorway.

Rarity stood there, looking at them, her coat once more pristine. Her hooves sounded on the floor as she stepped forward and said with a smile, “Now, what was that again about wolves?”

“Uhh, nothing,” Sweetie Belle said. She blushed a bit under her sister’s gaze. It really did feel silly now. “We just, Miss Cheerilee gave us an assignment to write a report about wolves.”

“Really?” Rarity looked honestly interested now. She tilted her head to the side. “Tell me more.”

“And, uh,” Apple Bloom said. “All the books about wolves got taken out of the school library before we could get to ‘em, and…” She looked past Rarity and her eyes widened. Opal was creeping up on the unsuspecting mare, her eyes agleam with intent, the way she did when she hunted mice. “Miss Rarity, look out!”

“For what –”

Then her voice rose into a most un-ponylike yelp of pain as Opal charged in and sank small, sharp teeth into her left rear fetlock. The cat immediately dashed under the unicorn and for the CMC. Rarity followed, hot on her heels.

“You little vermin!” she snarled, the voice Rarity’s but the words utterly alien. Lips wrinkled back and displaying her teeth, she cried out, “I’ll rip you in half! I’ll bite your tail off and choke you with it! I’ll…” She skidded to a stop at the CMCs, face-to-face with Sweetie Belle. Just like that wolf in the clubhouse two days ago.

Sweetie stared. Apple Bloom stared. Rarity looked at them in confusion and – something like worry?

Think fast, wolf!

“Girls, what’s wrong? I, there’s nothing in my teeth, is there?” Her eyes went wide as though the unicorn realized what she’d said was wrong, and she tried clapping a hoof over her mouth.

Rarity froze as Sweetie reached out with a trembling forehoof and pushed her sister’s lip back. Both fillies looked at her teeth. They were not the flat-topped teeth of a pony. The front teeth were too small, the back teeth like saw blades. And where the gap between the front and back teeth should have been, great gleaming fangs. The teeth of a wolf.

Oh. Scat.

Sweetie and Apple Bloom looked over at the book, still laying open to the illustration, and then back at Rarity. Their eyes somehow grew even wider. Rarity began to stammer out an explanation.

“Girls, listen, it’s not what it looks like…”

He yelped as Apple Bloom bucked “Rarity” in the face while Sweetie Belle galloped for the door.


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