• Published 12th Feb 2019
  • 2,941 Views, 338 Comments

Pony Predators of Equestria - Pentarctagon



What is a pony? After the Changeling invasion, debates rage across Equestria over that simple question. There is a follow up that nopony thinks to ask, however: what if they weren't the only ones hiding?

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Chapter 13 Truth

As soon as the magic fades, Rainbow Dash crumples to the ground with a soft thump. Groaning contentedly at the sudden lack of pain, she tiredly opens her eyes to observe her surroundings, though her head remains on the pleasantly cool wood floor. Her moment of rest does not last long however, Twilight anxiously levitating the weakly protesting pegasus into the air to slowly spin her around in search of any remaining black markings. Finding nothing more than a twisted, but perfectly normal, scar just beneath her cutie mark, Twilight gently sets Rainbow Dash back on the ground and looks up at the ceiling as waves of happiness wash away her fear.

She's… she's okay. Whatever Sombra did to her, it's gone. She's going to be okay!

Rarity runs her eyes over Rainbow's mostly unmarred body while Twilight cheerfully stares off into space, "Are you alright, darling?"

"What the hay happened to ya?"

"Quick, Dashie, how many hooves am I holding up?"

Fluttershy draws in a lungful of air, "Everypony SHUT UP and BACK UP!"

Obeying her command with looks of mild surprise, Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie cease their verbal bombardment and take a step away, Twilight following suit a second later. Moving forward, Fluttershy lowers her head next to Rainbow's, speaking gently, "Is there anything you need?"

"Water," Rainbow rasps softly, a hacking cough following her request.

"On it," Twilight replies, darting into her mostly undamaged kitchen and returning with a large glass of water seconds later.

Rainbow Dash snatches the offered glass from Twilight's magic as soon as it comes within reach and eagerly gulps it all down, the cool liquid soothing her parched throat. Lowering the empty cup from her lips, she coughs to scratch the last persistent itch from the back of her throat before glancing around again, panting slightly and swallowing several times to clear accumulated phlegm from her airway.

"So… um… if you don't mind me asking, that is, if you're feeling better now, what happened to you?" Fluttershy asks, the uncertainty in her voice wavering close to fear.

"I-" Rainbow swallows once more, "I'm not really sure. I was flying to where Twilight said I should go, but just before I got there I heard the Crusaders shouting. When I found them, they were huddled in a dead end across from some red stallion. He attacked me while the Crusaders escaped, and I was totally kicking his flank until I… uh… tripped. And then the freak bit me, but-"

More coughs interrupt her, prompting Twilight to quickly fetch a refilled glass which Rainbow Dash gratefully drinks from before continuing.

"But then what's-her-name, the vampony, just broke the guy. Not like knocked him out, like, I'm pretty sure she broke his spine. And a bunch of other things. And then she just sniffed the air and could smell the blood from where I'd been bitten. It was preeetty creepy. Anyway, me and her watched him stagger around for a while until Princess Luna got there, she hit him with the moon, which somehow made King Sombra's horn appear and… it all gets kinda hazy after that. I think there was an ambivalent something or other?" she shrugs, sipping at her remaining water.

"So Twi," Applejack says, an edge of anger barely hidden beneath her words, "Ah think you owe us all an explanation as ta what's really goin' on here. For example, why King Sombra is in Ponyville."

Twilight winces, "Um… well… I think it would be better to wait until Princess Luna is here. She knows a lot more of the history behind everything and could probably-"

Applejack steps up to Twilight, the pair nose to nose, "Ahm sorry, let me restate that. Derpy got sent to the hospital, Midnight got sent to the hospital, mah sister and her friends got attacked, and Rainbow Dash almost died. Start. Explainin'. NOW."

*creeeakkk*

Six pairs of eyes snap towards the door to find Mayor Mare slowly inching her head into the library, the mayor nervously scanning the demolished room, "Um… is this a bad time?"

Twilight attempts to formulate a response, but before she can get her tongue to cooperate, Applejack glares at the interruption, "Yes. Now is a very bad time."

"Oh," Mayor replies, her eyes darting between Applejack and Twilight. "Well, everypony has made it to the town square except for a few stragglers still trickling in, so whenever you're ready, Princess."

Twilight forces a smile onto her face, "Thanks Mayor, we won't keep everypony waiting for too long."

Mayor Mare nods and quickly shuts the door, leaving Applejack to return her furious gaze to Twilight.

Twilight retreats a couple steps and takes a deep breath, unused to the weight behind her friends' stares, "Alright, explaining, okay… um… I don't know everything, but I based on what I do know, it all really started about one thousand years ago… "

.

.

.

"and that's why we needed to use the Elements to save Rainbow Dash," Twilight finishes, licking her dried lips and glancing around at her friends. The only sound to greet her completed explanation is the quiet ticking of a clock from somewhere beneath the debris scattered about the room. Pinkie Pie opens her mouth as if to say something, however for perhaps the first time since Twilight had met her, no noise of any kind comes out – her mouth instead closing wordlessly after a few seconds as she lowers her eyes to examine her hooves.

"Wow," Rainbow Dash finally speaks up from her spot on the floor, "that's some seriously messed up stuff, Twilight."

"Which you didn't tell us," Applejack says.

Twilight flinches and lowers her head, ears splayed back, Applejack's steady calmness somehow cutting much deeper than her earlier anger.

"I'm sorry."

A lump forms in her throat as she stares at the floor, tears gathering in her eyes, "I-I meant to tell you, really, but then I got distracted and Luna said we needed to get going and I just… but that's no excuse. I didn't tell you and it nearly cost ponies their lives. I failed, both as a princess and as a friend and… and I'm sorry."

The clock takes over the conversation again, its faint ticking echoing loudly through the room.

After a minute, Applejack's stony expression softens and she sighs, "Look, Twi, you screwed up somethin' fierce. There's no nicer way a' sayin' it. But after hearin' everything that happened, Ah can… understand why you did what you did. Ah still think it was a stupid, foal-headed-"

She cuts herself off and takes a deep breath, "Look, if Rainbow had died, if any of our sisters had died, we'd be havin' a very different conversation right now. One that probably wouldn't involve all that many words. But they didn't. Somehow, everything managed ta work itself out. Ah'm gonna need some time to get over what happened, we all will Ah think, but Ah also know that you're not the type of pony to do somethin' like this on purpose. So Ah forgive you – on the condition that you never leave us out of the loop like this ever again."

Twilight sniffles and raises her head, going through a familiar set of motions, "Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in both my eyes."

Lowering one hoof, she uses the other to wipe away her tears.

"Well, that's good enough for me!" Pinkie declares, a shadow of her usual happiness returning. Trotting over to Twilight, Pinkie embraces her, "Group hug time!"

"Now that sounds like a wonderful idea," Rarity agrees.

"Mmm-hm," Fluttershy adds wholeheartedly, the pair contributing their hooves to the hug.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash share a smile before joining in as well, the shared heat of the six friends matching the warmth beating in each of their hearts.


Luna's horn pulses one last time at the end of her inspection before winking out, a small, satisfied smile on her face as she raises her head to view the quietly humming beams of energy forming her circle. Seconds later a dim glow appears in her peripheral vision and she frowns, turning to watch it grow in strength then just as quickly fade into nothing.

That felt like the Elements of Harmony.

Strange… what are they doing in Ponyville?

The pair's ponderings are interrupted by a persistent crackle from their shield while Sombra wastes the next minute desperately struggling to free himself, his eventual failure leaving him no other recourse but to angrily swirl in place.

Luna smirks, the slightly chilled air left over from his escape attempt little more than a refreshing breeze against her body, "Your plan for Rainbow Dash failed, we assume?"

She feels a slight tickle at the edges of her mind as Sombra meets her eyes, silently staring back at her.

Is he… ?

Her other voice snickers, Indeed he is.

Luna holds the stare for a moment longer, then breaks it with a roll of her eyes, turning her back to him and instead sitting to watch the last few sleepily unaware ponies stumble past them towards the town square.


"Oh, the horror, the horror!" Roseluck proclaims from the ground, Daisy's leg twitching for added emphasis while Lily Valley lays perfectly still beside them.

Heavy hoofsteps approach the flower ponies, coming to a stop just in front of them. Lily's curiosity grows steadily in the ensuing silence, eventually convincing her to crack open an eye. A maliciously grinning Nightmare Moon fills her vision, the dark creature's intimidating visage mere inches from her own.

"eep!"

Like a vampire fruit bat out of Sweet Apple Acres before Fluttershy came along, Lily races away, Roseluck and Daisy hot on her tail after their own glimpse of Nightmare.

Spike and Berryshine approach Princess Luna as the trio flee, Berry bowing and Spike saluting, "All done, Princess Luna."

Luna nods, shifting back into her usual form, "Good. Berry, was it? Please follow them to the town square as well."

Berryshine rises, quickly cantering away.

"I have another task for you, Spike," Luna says, extending a hoof to block him from leaving with Berryshine. "I must speak with my sister about everything that has happened here tonight, however I also cannot leave this monster unattended. Therefore, I will enter into my sister's dream while you remain here to keep watch." A line of moonlight begins to trace its way along the groove of her horn, "If anything happens, anything at all, wake me by hitting my horn."

Not waiting for him to say a word, the tip of Luna's horn glows and she closes her eyes, a thin strand of magic extending a short distance before abruptly fading out of the waking world.

"And how exactly am I supposed to do that?" Spike asks himself aloud, looking up at the alicorn princess towering over him. Glancing around, he walks past Luna to pick up a moon-bleached rock, "Better than trying with my fire, I guess."

He stiffens as a nearly inaudible whisper makes its way to his ears, slowly raising his head to look up at the barrier – and straight into Sombra's unblinking gaze, "Whoa! That was… creepy… "

He sways, his attempts to look away becoming increasingly half-hearted as his eyes gradually change color to match the pair staring into them.

And why would I want… to look away… such pretty eyes… like emeralds… and… rubies…

Pain suddenly lances through his tail and he staggers back, jerking his left claw away from one of the runestones.

Spike rubs his pounding head, feeling moisture coating his scales, "Ugh… what happened?"

"You weren't answering me, so I bit you," Midnight replies, licking her fangs. "You taste spicy."

Spike winces as he flexes his tail, "Um, thanks?"

"I think I can heal it, if you want," Midnight offers. "Never tried on a dragon before though."

Spike waves her offer away, "I'm fine, it barely even hurts. Though next time maybe try not biting?"

Midnight shrugs, "Well I tried asking you and poking you, which didn't work."

Spike rubs his head again, flicking his wrist to send more of the clear fluid onto the ground.

"And when licking didn't work either, I figured I had to try something more drastic."

Spike freezes at her words, then slowly removes his claw from his head to stare at it, a strand of saliva stretching between two digits, "Eww, gross!"

A gout of green fire engulfs his claw, instantly drying it of the liquid from Midnight's mouth. Closing his right eye, he cups both his claws to redirect a second burst of flame at his wet scales.

Midnight meanwhile walks up to Luna, poking a leg experimentally.

"Hey!" Spike shouts, wedging himself between the two mares. "No biting the Princess!"

Midnight looks down at the determined drake, raising an eyebrow. Spike swallows nervously, his eyes drawn to her protruding fangs, but he holds his ground.

Turning away with a roll of her eyes, Midnight steps around him to take a seat next to Luna, "I wasn't going to bite her, I was just curious what she was doing."

"Oh," Spike says, sitting and leaning back against Luna's left leg. "She's talking to Princess Celestia in her dreams about all the crazy stuff that's been going on. And she left me in charge of waking her up in case Sombrero over there tries anything."

Midnight frowns, idly batting at a stray lock of Luna's ethereal mane floating tantalizingly over her head, "I thought his name was Sombra."

Spike sighs, "It was a joke. You know, Sombra, sombrero? They sound similar but they're totally different things."

Midnight continues playing with Luna's hair, the motions pulling a few more locks over to her, "What's a sombrero?"

"It's this hat they wear down in Mexicolt. It has a big bump in the middle for your head, the brim comes out really far, and then it curves back up a bit at the edge," Spike describes, his claws following an invisible outline in the air. "Sometimes there's things hanging down off the bottom too."

Midnight pauses mid-rear, her eyes following an imaginary sombrero-topped Sombra floating above Ponyville. She snickers, "You're right, that is pretty funny."


Luna smiles as she steps from the real world into the world of dreams, watching the myriad doors to the nighttime fantasies of her ponies tumble through space seemingly at random against a backdrop of ever-shifting blues, blacks, whites, and purples. Off to her right, two doors collide to temporarily fuse into a natural shared dream, the colors of each bleeding into the frame of the other. A mote of light floats up to her from below, tittering a question to which she responds in kind, pointing at a nearby ornate doorway of diamond encrusted platinum.

I thought you were in a hurry, a familiar voice echoes from out of sight.

Following the words to their source, Luna finds a nondescript wooden doorway marked only by the carving of a small sun at the top of the frame. Another alicorn stands next to it, her coat and eyes the same deep blue as an ocean lit by the full moon while her undulating mane and tail hug her form, both as pitch black as the void between stars. An all but invisible inky splotch adorns her flank, the gibbous moon at its center completing Luna's crescent.

My thanks, Selena, Luna replies once she reaches the entrance to Celestia's dream.

Selena smiles and bobs her head, transforming into a cloud of dimly sparkling smoke to join with Luna's shadow as she steps through their sister's doorway, the mystic background of the collective dreamscape instantly transforming into a wide open meadow dotted by the occasional tree.

"Princess Celestia, look!" a young Twilight calls out from nearby, eagerly running around a particularly large oak to smash face first into a reclining Celestia's side. A pair of flowers fall to the ground, the sudden impact disrupting the telekinesis keeping them afloat.

Twilight staggers backwards, tripping after a step to fall on her butt. Celestia opens her eyes and smiles at the small filly looking up at her sheepishly, "Was there something you wanted to show me, Twilight?"

"Oh! Right!" Quickly locating the fallen flowers, Twilight levitates them back up, "I-I found these and I thought they would – I mean, you would – n-not that you aren't already-"

Gently taking over for the stammering filly, Celestia winds the stem of one of the flowers into her own mane and the other into Twilight's, watching her young student beam happily and hug the leg of another Celestia from a short distance away. Princess Celestia blinks, glancing around in confusion to find her sister standing next to her.

"My apologies for interrupting," Luna says, managing a soft smile as she watches the dream Twilight and Celestia cuddle, "but we must speak with you regarding the situation in Ponyville."

Celestia watches her other self wistfully for another moment, then turns, a dirt path appearing under her hooves as she walks sedately in the opposite direction, "What has happened to prompt this visit? I wasn't expecting to hear from you until tomorrow night, and certainly not in this manner."

"Well… " Luna replies hesitantly, searching for the right words as she matches her sister's measured pace, "to borrow a modern phrase, we have some good news, some bad news, and some worse news."

Celestia sighs, any hope for her next day being a simple one vanishing before her eyes, "I see. Let's start with the good news then."

"As you wish," Luna says. "The good news is that, all things considered, my meeting with what is most certainly a new tribe went fairly well. They appear to be physically similar to our Thestrals in many ways, and also seem to have a natural affinity for shadow magic; the two I met were able to rather skillfully use a somewhat basic form to briefly evade detection even by me. I cannot say whether such a talent extends to their entire race, but given that one of the ponies capable of using it was only a filly, it seems likely to be a common ability at the very least."

Celestia pauses, tapping her chin thoughtfully, "Interesting. Their proficiency with shadow magic will likely cause some concern amongst our subjects, particularly given the increased suspicion of deceptive magics ever since the Changelings were revealed via their attempted invasion. The Thestral reintegration has been picking up steam recently though, so perhaps they can simply follow in the hoofsteps of the gains being made there, at least to some extent."

Luna shakes her head, "We highly doubt that will be possible, unfortunately. While they do share some similarities, there are more than enough differences as well, even without taking into consideration their use of shadow magic. They make their home within the Everfree for one, which automatically means any kind of integration or exchange is… not impossible, perhaps, but certainly difficult. Their diet is my main concern, however. Twilight's letter to you was correct – they are entirely carnivorous, and while completely unrelated to Sombra, they are vampiric in nature as well, requiring pony blood in order to survive. They even call themselves 'Vamponies', in fact."

Celestia looks at Luna flatly, "So what you're saying is that there is a previously unknown species of carnivorous pony living in the Everfree Forest next to Ponyville and they periodically break into ponies' homes to suck their blood."

"That… is an accurate summary, yes," Luna replies. "Though there are likely more of them in other parts of the Everfree as well, since while Ponyville is easily the town closest to the forest, it is also not the only town within flying distance of it."

"I thought this was supposed to be the good news," Celestia objects, a note of incredulity in her voice.

"I may have been somewhat generous in my definition of 'good news'," Luna admits.

Celestia's horn glows and she pinches herself several times.

"A valiant effort, but we cannot allow you to wake up just yet," Luna says amusedly.

Defeated, Celestia rubs her temples, "Very well, continue."

Luna nods, bracing herself, "Sombra is in Ponyville."

Celestia's head jerks up, "WHAmmph."

"And he has been dealt with, sister," Luna continues, removing her hoof from Celestia's mouth. "I did not come here speaking pleasantries while letting him roam free. Rainbow Dash and the older vampony, Midnight, were able to damage the body he was possessing enough to subdue him, and Twilight and I were able to contain him. No lasting harm has been done to Ponyville or any of its inhabitants. He did manage to infect Rainbow Dash, however-" she cuts off another exclamation from Celestia with a look, "however, she has been cured by the Elements. The only problem Sombra still poses is deciding what to do with him now."

Celestia breathes in deeply, then exhales slowly, staring up at her dream's sun for a long minute before speaking again, "We need to move him out of Ponyville as soon as possible. I can be there with a platoon of Guards by sunrise and we can move him here to Canterlot to hold him indefinitely beneath the Canterhorn, but something doesn't add up. He should be dead two times over by now, from us the first time and from the Crystal Heart the second."

"Unfortunately we have no more of an idea as to how he has managed to survive than you." Luna shrugs, "I shall prepare for your arrival though."

Celestia nods, "So, what was the 'bad news'?"

Luna winces, "That was the bad news, actually."

Celestia gapes at her, "Pray tell, dear sister, if Sombra being alive is the bad news, then what in Tartaurus is the worse news?"

"Well… " Luna stares down at her fidgeting hooves, "one of the questions that came up when I was speaking with Midnight was how many vamponies there are, to which she responded that there are only a couple hundred in the entirety of the Everfree since most of them had been killed about one thousand years ago."

Celestia's eyes harden, "Sombra."

Luna's ears lower, her fidgeting intensifying, "That is what we thought at first as well, however Twilight Sparkle made some observations which cast doubt on that assumption. Observations that, in hindsight, seem rather painfully obvious."

Celestia's brow knits at Luna's words, "I don't understand. Who or what else could have done such a thing?"

Luna takes a deep breath, "We could have." When Celestia doesn't respond, she continues, "The most damning, and at the same time the most obvious, discrepancy is the number of undead vamponies claimed to have been killed versus the number of ponies turned. They do not even remotely match up. Sombra's vamponies could have used these other vamponies as fodder to boost their numbers, but given their ability to remain unseen combined with the undead vamponies' loss of higher mental functions upon Sombra's defeat, such a possibility is exceedingly unlikely. Even less so when you consider that such a massive influx of turned ponies would have inevitably overrun even our unified Guard."

She looks up, a pained expression on her face, "However, if you recall-"

"I try not to," Celestia interrupts tersely.

Luna nods, meeting Celestia's eyes, "I know, but you do recall what our ponies were like in the aftermath. Combine that state of mind with the fact that these 'living vamponies' require our blood to survive and therefore would have been forced to sneak into our towns in order to feed… "

Celestia gazes blankly at Luna for a time, her mind slowly processing the implications of her sister's words, "You are saying that we… that we accidentally committed genocide?"

"It is impossible to know for certain anymore as it occurred so long ago," Luna replies. "But, yes. That would seem to be the most likely explanation."

"What – I don't – but – I-" Celestia stares at the dirt beneath her hooves, then plaintively at her sister, "I don't know what to say. What to do. I just – I don't… dealing with Sombra is at least straightforward, but this… what do we do? What can we do?"

Luna sighs, "We do not know. I believe I have made some progress in making amends, but we still know so little about them that any particular plan we could come up with at this point would be mostly guesswork at best."

"Maybe, maybe not," Celestia says hopefully, "how did you start making amends? Perhaps we can build on that."

"We let Midnight drink some of my blood," Luna states matter-of-factly.

Celestia recoils in shock, "You what?"

Luna taps her chin thoughtfully, "It was rather fascinating. Alicorn blood, or my blood at least, seems to not only have some sort of powerful healing effect, but apparently altered Midnight's cutie mark as well. Oh! That reminds us, Everfree vamponies are also able to inject a numbing venom through their fangs. It is quite potent too; had I not been able to purge it with magic, even I as an alicorn would have been unconscious in under half a minute."

Celestia's mouth opens and closes several times, no sound coming out. Eventually her wits return however and she sighs, rubbing her temples again, "Alright, I'm going to wake up now and head out to Ponyville. Hopefully I'll be able to come up with some kind of plan before I get there."

"Very well," Luna says with a nod. "We will maintain our watch over Sombra until your arrival."

As soon as the words leave Luna's mouth, the dream begins to collapse, its colors and landscape swirling and merging together until they abruptly vanish, leaving Celestia lying in her luxurious bed. Groaning, she rolls to one side, falling onto the floor with a heavy thump.

"Bulwark!"

Immediately the doors to her room slam open, a burly, heavily armored Thestral running to her side, "Are you alright, your Highness? Does it hurt anywhere?"

Celestia fights the urge to roll her eyes, failing magnificently, "I am fine, however I have spoken with my sister and the Guard's presence is required in Ponyville. I need you to gather a hundred soldiers, half of them unicorns with at least moderate knowledge of containment spells, and meet me by the chariots. You have half an hour."

Bulwark salutes hastily, "I – yes! Right away!"

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