• Published 16th Mar 2020
  • 6,674 Views, 616 Comments

Prey - Kkat



Ocellus is trapped in a palace infested with a brood of love-starved changelings and their queen who are intent on using her only way home as a means to invade her world.

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Prologue: The Girl Who Wasn't

"I keep having this... dream. I'm just staring into the black between the stars. There's something there. I just can't see it... but it sees me. I can feel it hate us."

Queen Chrysalis stands tall and proud, calling out mockingly to the foolish pony attempting to hide from her. "...everything has gone according to my plan."

The sound of her Queen draws the love-starved nymph out of her hole. This is the voice of victory. This is the sound of revenge for their humiliating and destructive defeat at Canterlot.

"What plan?" the invading pony cries out from her hiding place. "Why did you do all this?!"

The nymph hisses, looking around, hoping to spot the pathetic creature. To deliver her to the Queen. But the Queen has already found her.

Queen Chrysalis invades the pony's hiding spot, causing her to collapse in fright.

"So I could feed, of course!" The nymph marvels that the Queen would bother to answer the pony's question. Ocellus has never seen Her bother so much with a drone.

But Queen Chrysalis continues to boast, reveling in it. "By replacing the most beloved figures in Equestria, my drones will be able to store all the love meant for them and return it here to me. Everypony will do as I command, and my subjects and I will feed on their love for generations!" The hive fills with Her maniacal laughter.

All about Ocellus, her fellow changelings hiss. To applaud their Queen's greatness. To intimidate the hive invader.

The pathetic lavender pony peeks out from behind her rock, her gaze searching for any avenue of escape. Any shred of hope. She sees the traitor, Thorax, captured and bound to the floor by the Queen's royal resin and hides again.

"What if you didn't have to?"

"Ridiculous!" Queen Chrysalis is on the lavender pony in an instant, grabbing the mare by the tail as she tries to flee and tossing her towards two of the hive's guardians. The helmeted changelings are swift to pin the pony down.

"The hunger of changelings can never be satisfied!"

"Exactly!" the lavender pony exclaims, still daring to talk back to the Queen even while captured. "Thorax left the hive and made a friend. He shared love, and now he doesn't need to feed."

What? No. That's not how it works!

"You don't have to live your lives starving all the time!" The pony's words ring out with hope, with promise.

Ocellus wishes those promises were true. She knows they are not. They can't be. But wouldn't that be wonderful?

Queen Chrysalis tears the pony from Her guards with a show of Her royal magic. Her words inform the naïve pony of her folly. "You know nothing of the changelings or what it takes to be their queen!"

In anger, the Queen hurls the pony with Her magic. Ocellus quickly steps out of the way as the mare slams into the wall next to her. The nymph backs up another step, bowing her head as her Queen approaches, seething.

"I decide what is best for my subjects, not some mewling grub!"

The lavender pony cringes, but she doesn't cower. "I know what it's like to lead by fear and intimidation!" Then she stops cringing. She stands. She stands up before the Queen!

"And I know what it's like to want everypony to do what you say. But I was wrong." The mare is so sure of herself. "A real leader doesn't force her subjects to deny who they are. She celebrates what makes them unique and listens when one of them finds a better way."

Ocellus feels a pang. Is it treason that she wishes her Queen would do that? Can a hive even be lead that way? The parasitical nymph looks around nervously. She can see it in the pained, longing expressions of her fellow drones. She is not the only one who feels this way. If she is a traitor, there are a lot of traitors in this room.

Although there is one who is much moreso than the rest of them.

Queen Chrysalis scoffs. "The only thing Thorax has found..." She announces as She marches up to the treasonous drone who abandoned them and helped outsiders invade the hive. "...is what happens to those who turn their back on the hive!"

The Queen lifts him with Her royal magic, pulling him from the royal resin as it turns to jelly at Her will, no longer binding him to the floor.

The lavender pony tries to intervene, but is caught again by the hive guardians. She cries out, "No! Stop!"

But Queen Chrysalis has no intention of stopping yet. "Just as soon as I drain every last ounce of love from him and show my subjects what a real leader is!" Queen Chrysalis opens Her mouth and begins to drain the love from him. They can see it, a rosy pink light that is pulled in reluctant wisps from the struggling drone.

The traitor, Thorax, moans as he strains to keep his love. It is no use. No drone can stand up to a Queen. "I can feel the love inside me slipping away..." he whimpers. "I can't hold onto it much longer..."

The lavender pony's next words shock the hive. "Then don't!"

"Sharing love is what made you different to begin with! You should share yours with Chrysalis!" the lavender pony calls to Thorax. Ocellus sees the pony's eyes narrow almost diabolically.

"Give her all of it!"

Thorax stops resisting. Ocellus freezes, unable to look away. Is he... is he actually going to do that? Follow the pony's insane advice? That's instant starvation. He'll die!

Thorax's love flows out, no longer restrained, becoming a flood. It fills the room with the taste of strawberries and oranges, with hints of fennel. Ocellus feels it washing over her, the taste almost overwhelming.

The flood becomes a tsunami. The rush of it is so strong it blasts the Queen away from him, driving Her back to Her throne with enough force to crack it. The light swarms around Thorax and becomes blinding.

And as it fades, Ocellus sees the drone Thorax is no more.

Except... in his place is a shining cocoon. It radiates with the light of his love.

The lavender pony walks towards the cocoon, the stunned guards giving no resistance. The pony cautiously reaches out to touch the cocoon hovering where her ally had been.

The cocoon ruptures in brilliance.

Ocellus blinks, dazzled. The first thing she sees as her sight returns is Thorax. But not as he was. Not as any changeling she knows has ever been. Not black and emaciated with chitin full of holes...

He is the most beautiful creature in the world.

"This is what happens when you give love freely instead of taking it!" the lavender pony proclaims, addressing the hive.

Seriously? Is this real? Please, please, please don't let this just be a dream!

One of the drones in the crowd lifts up, opening her forelegs wide and letting her love flow.

Then another.

And another.

Before her, the entire hive was changing. Transforming. The pony hadn't been lying. She hadn't been naïve. Changelings could survive by sharing love. They didn't have to starve. They didn't have to be parasites! They could be symbiotic!

Ocellus wants that so much. She spreads her forearms. She doesn't have much love to give. Hardly any at all in her cold drone heart. A small kernel for her hive. A dusting for her Queen. A jealously guarded pinch for her parents. That is all. She isn't storing any love taken from other creatures. She prays that the tiny amount she can give is enough. That the act of sharing it...

Nothing happens.

Horror floods through the nymph. Ocellus stares at her black forelegs. She holds them up, looking through the holes. She can see the other changelings of the hive around her, each more beautiful and unique than the last.

Surrounding her. Staring at her.

No. No, please no! She spreads her forelegs and tries again. But nothing happens.

She can hear murmuring in the crowd. The nymph begins to tremble. She feels herself starting to cry.

She tries again, harder. But instead of love, all she can feel is terror and despair. She spreads her forelegs so wide that she falls over backwards.

The ground beneath her opens up and she falls into the gaping black abyss. The maw closes above her, swallowing her in darkness.

Ocellus feels the floor beneath her. It is cold and smooth, without texture or feature. Like a pane of glass. The changeling nymph cannot see it. All about her, the world is an endless ocean of black stretching in every direction.

Floating in that black are mirrors. They march in rows on either side of her. She moves towards the closest one, hoping to see herself transformed. To see the Ocellus she knows she has become.

As she steps into the reflection, she is greeted by a bugbear. One with pink wings and light cerulean fur. It towers over her behind the surface of the mirror. She lifts a forehoof and it mimics her movements precisely. It is her. Ocellus knows. Herself as a bugbear. It is a familiar form. One of the most familiar in her repertoire. She has taken it many times.

But she isn't a bugbear now, is she? She concentrates, willing herself to change back to her natural form. But nothing happens. There is no flashing cocoon of energy. Ocellus' heart beats faster. She cannot change because she is already in her natural form.

She backs away from the mirror, watching the bugbear move back, doubling the space between them.

Her tail hits the cool glass of another mirror as she backs into it. She turns to see the lanky form of a tan dragon girl looking back at her in mirrored surprise.

Ocellus scrambles away, the dragon-Ocellus in the mirror doing the same.

The changeling nymph spins, looking from mirror to mirror. Each one refects her, but not as she truly is. Like funhouse mirrors showing warped images, each mirror shows her transformed.

Seapony-Ocellus.
Puckwudgie-Ocellus.
Rock-Ocellus.
Pony-Ocellus.

Ocellus feels her hooves stepping against the unseen floor beneath her as she is drawn forward down the hallway of reflections. She has to reach the end.

The mirrors pass to her left and right. Not one reflection is the real her. Every form in her repertoire is here. Even animals she has become in Professor Fluttershy's class.

Bat-Ocellus.
Bunny-Ocellus.

She keeps walking, needing to reach the mirror at the end of this hallway, knowing -- somehow knowing -- that the final mirror will be the one to reveal her real self.

The final mirror looms ahead, drawing closer. With every step, Ocellus' heart beats harder, her insides feeling cold with dread. She doesn't want to see. She is afraid she will see that drone she used to be. Or worse.

She's afraid that she will see Chrysalis staring back at her.

Her body feels like somecreature is stabbing needles beneath her chitin. The feeling grows worse as she approaches the mirror. She wants to stop. To run the other direction. But she steps forward again and again.

She doesn't stop walking until she is standing before the mirror. The mirror that will reflect her true self.

The mirror shows nothing.

Ocellus feels like she is surrounded by windigos. Or submerged in a frozen lake. Like she has fallen through the ice and there is no hole to crawl back out through.

Ocellus stares into the mirror, close enough to touch it. But there is no Ocellus reflected back.

The mirror shows more than just black. Reflected in its surface are the other mirrors. There is nothing wrong with the mirror.

There is something wrong with her.

There is no her.