• Published 15th Oct 2017
  • 787 Views, 21 Comments

Apex - chillbook1

The most dangerous predator is the one backed into a corner and out of options. Adagio is one such predator.

  • ...

Apex Predator

Silence. A dark, almost eerie silence enveloped Adagio as she strolled down the empty streets of Canterlot City. The formerly bustling city was a ghost town now, and it felt genuinely haunted. Not that Adagio believed in the supernatural. Nothing more supernatural than herself, anyway.

She shivered as she walked, unable to shake the cold. It didn’t matter to her that it was August, that the sun was beaming down and baking the empty, silent world around her. Her blood was cold. She had all the power in the world, more than she had ever had before, but she couldn’t escape the cold. It was deep in her bones, in whatever was left of her soul.

The silence persisted as Adagio proceeded along her way, the sound of her heels against the concrete lost in the nothingness surrounding her. Her world was tinged with dark, bloody red, almost obscuring her vision. She could barely see, but she didn’t need to. There wasn’t much worth looking at these days, not after Adagio had done her work.

She stopped before Canterlot High School with a sigh. How she longed to hear herself, hear the velvety smoothness of her own voice. But she couldn’t. Such was the price of the power she now wielded. It was more than any Siren had ever even dreamed of consuming. It was worth it.

Or so she told herself.

There was nothing with Adagio. There was no one. The world was hers, that much was true, but the world was also empty. The others were gone. Adagio was the last of her kind. She took no joy in that fact, nor did she lose any sleep. This was simply reality, the logical conclusion of her path. She knew it would end this way, for this was the path of a hunter like Adagio. She was the apex predator and, with nothing to put her in check, she ravaged the world.

But was it worth it?

Adagio stared at Canterlot High, the school that had caused her so much trouble. This was the last thing she had to remind her of the Battle of the Bands, how she had lost it all. The school served little more purpose these days than to memorialize Adagio’s mistakes. It was a monument to her failure as the leader of the Dazzlings, and its rubble would serve as a monument to her success as a solo star. Adagio stooped down and grabbed a rock, which she charged using the power she stole from Pinkie Pie. The stone glowed orange, even as Adagio tossed it at the glass front doors of the school. The rock sailed through the sky, crashing through the glass. Adagio turned to face away, to avoid dust in her eyes, and let out a sigh.

She couldn’t hear it, nor could she see it, but she felt the explosion. The air rushed past her, with enough force to push a lesser woman forward a few feet. But Adagio remained, planted like a tree, as the wind and debris sailed past her. She didn’t need to turn to see the school reduced to rubble. She did what she always did: she kept looking forward.

Her eyes fell on a statue in front of the school, the large, bucking alabaster stallion standing atop its podium proudly. Adagio strolled forward and placed her hand against the face of the pillar, sinking up to her elbow in the statue. The portal to Equestria.

It occurred to Adagio that she could’ve gone home. Had she just swallowed her pride, shelved her predatory instincts, asked the Rainbooms for help, she and her fellow Sirens could have returned to their homes. It didn’t have to end the way it did.

Except it did, and Adagio knew it. She knew what she was. There’s no escaping your nature, and Adagio understood that. She never tried to avoid what she was, it’d be foolish. A waste of time. She was a hunter, plain and simple. And so, she hunted. Adagio nodded solemnly to herself, knowing what she must do next. She put one foot through the portal, then an arm, finally pulling herself through. It wasn’t until she was consumed by the statue was she able to admit to herself what had been clawing at her mind these past months.

Her sisters were right.

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Comments ( 20 )

I can't believe I'm the first person to comment on this story. What you contribute to Siren lore, as well as the different ways each Siren sees things, is really amazing here. And Adagio is truly, deliciously evil in this...I already followed you for your last few fics, but this fic further solidifies that I think I might have a new go-to author!

Thanks for reading, love, glad you enjoyed.

Though I would like to argue against the idea that Adagio is "evil". I don't think what she did can be considered evil. Fucked up and morally bankrupt, but not evil. Evil implies nefarious intent, that Adagio does this because she wants to. And, I suppose, on some level, she does. Personally, I like the see it as impulses she can't control. She is a hunter, and she can't escape her true nature. She genuinely intended to share her power, but the idea that Aria, at some point, planned to betray her, was enough to remind her of what she really was. A hunter.

But thanks for reading, nevertheless.

I'm a little bit torn. The idea of Adagio humbling the Rainbooms through little more than cleverness and manipulation is a wonderful image for her, and so I quite enjoyed that aspect and, in particular, her methods of choice. That café scene in the first chapter was rather brilliant in that regard as well :raritystarry:

The problem I had with it, I think, was that the ending rushed. Like, one chapter ends with Adagio killing both the other sirens and utterly spurning everything they had to say, but then not even a thousand words later she's admitting that they were right. Which I don't really have a problem with; that last line was a beautiful way to end it. But it was a little jarring how something that felt like a major epiphany came to her so easily.

Up until then, loved it. Wonderful villainous Adagio, couldn't really ask for more :pinkiehappy:

Yeah, I can see how you could feel that way. Truthfully, I wanted that last chapter to be closer in length to its sisters, but I genuinely couldn't think of much to say. Then, I realized that was because everything around Adagio was gone. The world was quiet. The ending should be, too.

Plus, I was approaching the word limit on the contest, and, since this is actually my second entry, I didn't want to push my luck. I wish I could've found a way to give you a slightly more satisfactory ending. That said, thanks for reading!

I think that I disagree about Adagio being evil.

The way they have to feed doesn't make the Sirens any more evil than any other type of predator that has to hunt living prey to survive. HOWEVER, there is a huge difference between that and what Adagio is doing in this fic. Adagio is explicitly out for revenge against Sunset and the Rainbooms and I would argue that investing 8 months into faking a relationship on a single target is not merely the impulse of a hunter.

Also, the story pretty much explicitly states that Sirens are pack hunters, so the idea that Adagio turning on Aria and Sonata and killing them can be blamed on hunter's instinct doesn't quite fit. Also the fact that Adagio deliberately withheld energy, and the fact that she could harvest energy again, from the other two all for the sake of a revenge scheme argues pretty well against Adagio not being evil.

Sorry, I explained my stance on the issue very poorly. Allow me to elaborate.

I didn't mean so much that Adagio's instincts are causing her to hunt, and the revenge is for funsies. I meant that her obsession with revenge, and, subsequently, what she does to Sunset is a result of her predatory mind. In my headcanon (and, by extension, this story's lore) Sirens effectively have two personalities, or "selves". One self is the persona they put forward to their prey, to mimic them, lure them into a false sense of security. That's the personality that we typically see in these characters. The other self is more primal, the hunter persona of the Siren. This is the self that allows them to make decisions based off of self-preservation and logic first, ignoring morals and emotion. This is important, because it's the distinction between Adagio and Sonata (and, to a lesser extent, Adagio and Aria). Sonata is effectively a human, since she has basically none of her Siren characteristics left, so her two selves become one. She is what she is, no matter what angle you look at it.

Adagio, on the other hand, is still split between her false self and her true self. The mind of the hunter sees Sunset as a threat. Sunset was the reason they failed last time, after all, so she is logically the one most dangerous to Adagio's survival. So, because of her predatory instincts, she becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge against Sunset. Her outfacing, false self warps this logical, basal thought into the sick, twisted "evil" we see in the story.

As for Adagio withholding energy from the others, what she said is true. She genuinely intended to share. She kept it to herself because she just couldn't risk it. You ever hear the saying "three can keep a secret if two are dead"? This is a similar situation. Adagio felt that there were too many cooks in the kitchen last time, and she'd be better off alone. As we can see, she was right.

Mind you, everything I said here is, technically, bullshit. It's simply my own opinion of the situation. You're perfectly entitled, hell, encouraged, to disagree with me. That's just how I'm looking at things.

Thanks for reading!

It does clear some things up, though I would say that the idea of an inner and outer personality isn't unique to your Sirens, or even to fanfiction in general. It's something that everyone has: a personality they present to the world and their true personality. Of course the degree of separation between the two is different in everyone. I don't know if personality is the right word for it though, since it is still fundamentally the same person* (perhaps persona would be a better word).

I can see Adagio viewing Sunset as a threat (even though the only thing Sunset actually did before the finale was call Twilight, and the Dazzlings wouldn't've know about that) and wanting to take her out first. Taking out the most dangerous enemy first is definitely a survival instinct. Revenge, however, is most decidedly not, and is more often detrimental to survival. And revenge is not an artifact of logic, it's wholly emotion driven. Adagio stealing all of Sunset's magic: act of survival, Adagio spending 8 months getting Sunset to fall in love with her only to reveal that she has despised Sunset the whole time and then gloating over having done the same to her friends: act of revenge.

*Except in the case of some mental disorders

I didn't intend to imply that I came up with the concept of binary personalities. Forgive me if I came off like that.

Adagio didn't spend 8 months seducing Sunny just to gloat and show that she was smarter than her or anything like that. It was legitimately the best course of action. The Hunter Self developed the strategy, whereas the Outward Self simply saw an additional benefit in the form of spiting Sunset. Just because there is a selfish, illogical benefit to something doesn't mean it can't be a primarily logical choice.

Oh, and the whole "Sunset is the biggest threat" thing comes from the idea that the Dazzlings were winning the Battle of the Bands until Sunset picked up the mic and joined the song. As far as Adagio is concerned (and I'm inclined to agree) Sunset is the only reason the Dazzlings failed.

Comment posted by Vigriff deleted Oct 23rd, 2017

I think that you captured the characters perfectly.

I conceived this idea during the run of Rick and Morty season 3, and the Evil Morty episode got me obsessed with For the Damaged Coda, and by extension, Blonde Redhead in general. I can definitely imagine Adagio walking through the portal at the end to For the Damaged Coda.

Thanks for reading!

This is fantastic! While this is perhaps a little more... permanent than I'd planned for, this fits precisely the Ascendant arc. Thank you so much for submitting this!

Adagio is evil. Sorry, but intentionally causing cruelty, casually murdering gleefully, and also being a sociopath basically defines you as evil.

Sure. Whatever. I only really said otherwise to spite Quillamore, cause I'm a contrarian asshole.

Well, firstly, I can't forgive you for being mean to Sunset. The story has already been ruined right off the bat right there.

But seriously, the experience of the story seems so... disjointed. After the first section I began to sense an odd sort of flow to it that didn't entirely mesh well with what I'm sure you were going for. The events flow in a way that seems somewhat unplanned and possibly rushed or forced. Adagio was needlessly cruel in the way she acted, which I get is a part of the story, but it never actually had much build up. Things just sort of happened without a well-defined reason that was outlined through the story. The biggest thing is to focus on feelings, and focus very tightly on Adagio. What is she going through with all this? What is she thinking and feeling? That's where you're going to develop your message. As it stands Adagio is often almost comical in her evil delivery instead. Like in the initial reveal to Sunset:

“You let your guard down, Sunny,” said Adagio mockingly. “You let me into your heart. That is your downfall, Sunset Shimmer. Your heart is too big and your brain too small. That’s why I’m here, sapping the life from your worthless, pathetic body.”

It almost feels like she should be wearing a top hat and twiddling a mustache with lines like that. She jumped on Sunset and just kind of laid it all out without much in the way of a build up to it. With the story's title there was a big missed opportunity here for hunting and predatory imagery that just wasn't present at all. Throughout the story you focused much more on Adagio's blood rather than and predatory instinct she might have had as an discourse-hungry siren. Needlessly cruel can be a necessary part but it just kind of happens, you know? Some more description of what Adagio is feeling as she's taking over Sunset would be more valuable than dialogue in that situation, I would think. As far as I know the sirens have never fed on anything but discourse and adoration, but I wouldn't put it past them to absorb magic. Instead of relying so heavily on dialogue in that section it would have been useful to instead show the insights of what's happening to both of their bodies and what Adagio is learning by letting her inner predator take control. The feeling of the soft skin of Sunset's neck as it twitches under her grasp, the power coursing through her and the unsympathetic glee she has at watching the life drain from Sunset's eyes. That kind of thing with some animal kingdom similes sprinkled in there would have made for a much more dramatic betrayal scene. There could have been minimal dialogue on Sunset's part and some teasing from Adagio, but she's a predator after all, why would she care for the last words of her prey?

As for the next chapter, my biggest complaint would be that things kind of just... happen. Like, there's a lopsided value put on the scenes and what they're supposed to accomplish. I assume this story is mostly about Adagio's slow descent into abandoning any sliver of humanity she might've had for a purely predatory existence. If that's the case is there as much of a need to focus so much on Aria and Sonata? It is important to establish the relationship, sure, but almost half the chapter was spent with them just arguing over Adagio, I imagine you probably lost a few readers there as the longer it went on the less plot relevant the situation became. In that same time frame you could have focused much more on Adagio and what she was accomplishing, better painting the picture of her animalistic descent. As it stands, you spent two paragraphs on the murder of the Rainbooms. That is a lot of lost and honestly interesting hunts that could have portrayed Adagio's new characterization much better, I think. Instead of two quick paragraphs, don't you think it would have been more interesting for the reader to watch Adagio on her hunts? Stalking her prey and waiting for the time to finally strike, then slowly taking an unnerving amount of glee in showing Sunset each of her new kills, dragging out her suffering to a painstaking degree. As it stands it was all over in the space of 500 words. It easily could have been closer to 20,000. Admittedly, it may have gotten repetitive, but I think there's potential in fully showing Adagio's new hunting abilities across different challenges that the girls would've put up.

The scene in which she killed her sisters was very good though. It properly summed up Adagio's lack of empathy regarding girls she should have cared deeply for. It may have been a bit more dialogue heavy than it needed to be, but killing her sisters as a way of letting go of her last scraps of humanity is a great segue into the total destruction of the town that would be happening next.

Overall I think some more planning could have done this story well. I'm not sure how long you realistically wanted it to be, but this idea could have easily been a very interesting 20-30k~ word novella documenting Adagio's slow descent into letting her predatory ways take over her. The story was mostly ended on an unsatisfying note, with most of the events simply happening off screen without much meaningful build up to them.

The advice I would give if you're looking to rewrite is to begin with a rigid plan of what you want to happen down to the ending. Keep it somewhat realistic but keep your themes in mind. Some choices you might make could be like instead of just bumping into Sunset, Adagio could specifically try to find her instead, and along the lines of seducing her, you could show Adagio's more animalistic desires and utter contempt for the girl around their dialogue. Follow your theme throughout the story, sprinkling in little reminders of the point you want to get across to the readers. Also in a few places, your descriptions can get a bit telly. I've lost the passages at this point but if you do end up rewriting it I can help you out in gdocs by pointing it out in a comment. Generally try to keep your scenes rooted in your world space by connecting thoughts to objects or not traveling off in descriptions on things that are plot irrelevant, on that note.

I really do think this is a good idea though, and would love to see you try your hand at refining it further. Your opening scene and the scene with the Adagio killing her sisters are very solid and with some build up around the major events and fleshing out the themes and ideas of the story more, you can definitely have a great story on your hands here. I realize I did a lot to completely tear it apart, but I hope you don't take that as discouraging. I can tell you put a lot of effort into it, and the cruel reality of writing is that the first draft is hardly ever the best possible version. If you decide you want to rewrite it, let me know and I'll do what I can to help you improve through the process.

Where can I find the rest of the entries into EbonQuill's Dark Reprise: Dazzlings Contest?

No, sorry. I don't think there was ever a group or anything. You could check with EbonQuill, though. That's probably your best shot.


The Last Chapter feels like the movie I Am Legend.

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