• Published 11th Sep 2021
  • 1,745 Views, 112 Comments

Dark - LilithGalac



What happens when a parasitic species, known for adapting to the traits of its host, finds itself attached to a magical pastel friendship horse?

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Dreams and Discovery

Trees, rustling in the cool night air. Branches, barely bent beneath my weight. The gentle night air bringing a scent to me. The scent of…

Prey.

My heart picks up. She is close. I can hear her, laughing to herself. I approach, carefully, slowly… My tail flicks behind me, ready to pluck her from where she sits, at the base of a tree.

Prey.

I cannot see her face. Slowly, I begin to descend the tree, clinging tightly to the bark. My mouth opens, droplets of spittle fall into her hair, alerting her to my presence.

When she looks up, there is no fear. I cannot make out her face, but she is smiling.

Why is she smiling…?

“Scratch, you’re finally here! Come on, the fireworks are gonna start any second!”

What…?

I fall to the ground, the tree gone from beneath my hooves. I scrabble into a sitting position, looking around. What is going on?

We are sitting on a cliff outcropping. Fireworks are going off in the distance. I look up at them, silently watching. I turn my head; she’s still sitting there, but she isn’t looking up. She’s looking at me. I feel my heartbeat pick up…


Scratch awakens with a hiss, inner mouth puncturing the soft, pillowy surface of her… pillow. Confused and disoriented, she sits up, scanning the room she’s in as feathers fall from the jaws of her second mouth. The room is dark.

Dark… Like home.

The room is small, and… the word “cozy” appears in Scratch’s mind, unbidden. She does not know the definition of the word, but knows that it applies to this room. The walls are made of wood, as is the ceiling, and the floor; although the floor has a large, warm-looking rug spread across it. A fireplace, warded with magic that Scratch can feel from her position on the bed, gently crackles, the fires within dying down.

Scratch continues to scan the room; over a large, full-to-bursting bookcase, and settles on a large armchair next to the fireplace. Sitting in it are the two ponies from before. Chrysalis, the larger one, with Twilight, the smaller one, sitting in her lap, asleep. Chrysalis is awake, calmly watching Scratch.

Prey…? Scratch wonders. It would be too easy. Leap forward, puncture them both with her tail. Consume, feed, serve the hive. But… The thought of hurting either of the two ponies brings a sense of… disgust, of revulsion to the creature, to whom disgust is an unexplainable concept. Scratch is meant to revel in gore and gristle, seek out bloodshed and hunt down her meals with no discrimination or hesitation. Yet…

Not… prey. Friend...s…?

She carefully sits up, Chrysalis’ eyes watching her closely.
“Twilight Sparkle wished to let you rest in here. I suggested quarantine may have been safer, but she would not back down.” The tall mare says, voice low. Twilight shifts a little in Chrysalis’ lap, murmuring something in her sleep.

“You have not attempted to harm either of us, although you did appear to be having a nightmare…” The tall pony smirks lowly, the ridges of her horn alighting with a warm green glow.
“Although I do not know many ponies who would have a nightmare about love.”

Scratch listens to Chrysalis as she carefully pulls her body out of the tangled bedsheets covering her. Love? Dreams? These ideas are even more unknowable confusions to her. She can understand the words, knows their innate meaning, but cannot explain them to herself.

Carefully, she steps out of the bed. She glances out of a window carved into the wall; the sky, dark moments ago, is streaked with orange light.
“The sun is rising.” Chrysalis murmurs, pressing a hoof against Twilight’s face and nudging it sharply.
“Awaken, Twilight Sparkle.” The tall pony says, insistently. Twilight sways groggily, sitting up in Chrysalis’ lap.
“Huh… wha… oh! Oh!”

Within less than a second, Twilight is alert, jumping out of Chrysalis’ lap and landing quickly on the floor. She’s only a few feet away from Scratch, who’s instincts are screaming at her to attack. But… something keeps Scratch from moving.

Twilight takes in the strange mare before her with wide eyes.
“I… didn’t really get a good look at you when Chrysalis put you in bed. It’s… fascinating! You’re… You’re the size of a pony! Yesterday you were just a small… snake-thing. Barely the size of my hoof.” She rambles quickly, and Scratch does her best to follow as Twilight approaches. Her horn glows, and she levitates over a measuring tape.

The tape snaps out quickly, and Scratch freezes as Twilight begins measuring her body, calling out the numbers to Chrysalis, who is recording them in a notebook; it looks new, unused. The front has a hastily, yet neatly, written title; “A Study of ____biology”.

“Hmm… Slightly taller than average ponies. Tail is… Three feet long, wow… Your horn is, hm… Also larger than an average unicorn’s. Um, could you…” Twilight steps in front of Scratch, tilting her head.
“Um… Hm.” Twilight opens her mouth, pointing to her tongue.
“Cou’ yo-” She closes her mouth, then continues, “Could you show me your erm… Second mouth?” Twilight asks. Scratch carefully obliges, letting her inner mouth show at its full length, its tiny teeth clacking together as drool pools on the floor beneath Scratch’s hooves. Twilight, either not noticing or not caring, takes some measurements, then gestures for Scratch to close.
“Good thing Rarity taught me how to take my dress measurements. Gosh, never thought that would come in handy for a situation like this.”

Twilight turns to Chrysalis.
“Okay, that should be all. Erm-” She turns to face Scratch, blushing a little.
“I… probably should have asked if I could take your measurements first. Sorry, this is very exciting!” She bounces in place a little, giggling to herself.

Scratch simply watches the pony closely, still… very much overwhelmed. She shifts lightly, looking around. By now, were things not so… wrong, she’d have hunted quite a bit of prey, and could have begun building her nest. But here she is, meekly allowing a creature to take measurements, all while flustering about what friendship is.

Scratch watches the measuring tape as Twilight places it onto a small table by the bed, turning to talk to Chrysalis about something. The mare doesn’t listen to Twilight, curiously regarding the tape; Twilight had held it in her magic. Scratch, earlier, had used magic… She’d dwelt on friendship, and had simply let the magic well up inside her, and…

Scratch lowers her head slightly, a light slowly collecting around the base of her horn. She feels a sac within her crest surge with power as she taps into the friendship within her, the friendship she learnt from her host. A gentle flicker covers the measuring tape, before a light surrounds it. A gentle, pastel, lavender light. Scratch focuses, carefully, lifting the tape; Twilight and Chrysalis have stopped speaking, but she tries not to think about it as the measuring tape approaches Scratch, hovering in front of her face.

“She’s… using telekinesis… And she’s never had a single lesson!” Twilight hisses. The sound is enough to distract Scratch, and the measuring tape falls to the ground. Scratch staggers a bit, shaking her head as dizziness overwhelms her. Using such power is… expected of her species, but the source of the power, this ‘friendship’, is… difficult to comprehend.

“This is wonderful! Okay, okay. Calm down, Twilight. Erm.” Twilight taps her forehead, then nods to the door.
“Chryssie, can you get started on breakfast? I, er…”
“You didn’t eat yesterday, did you?” The taller pony sighs, making her way to the door and leaving the room. Twilight blushes, before turning her attention back to Scratch.
“Hmm… so, your species… you’re not Equestrian as far as I can tell. The architecture from the cavern I found your egg in was… unusual, not like anything I’ve ever seen in any of our recorded history. And your species are infiltrators, so…” She taps her chin.

“It’s possible you may not even be terrestrial!” Twilight giggled gleefully, clapping her hooves.
“This is fascinating! Okay, hm… So…” She begins to pace in circles around Scratch. Scratch’s tail flicks nervously, the mare unsure of what Twilight’s intentions are.

“You’re xenobiological, and taking on the form of a pony… Xenopony? No, that rolls off the tongue weirdly… Ponalien? No, no…” Twilight stops in front of Scratch, tilting her head.
“I’ve got it! Xenoquine!” She says, eyes wide with excitement as she levitates her notebook over, scrabbling “XENO” into the blank space in front of “Biology”, and adding “XENOQUINES” as a heading above the subtitle.

“This is… Still so overwhelming. I… I haven’t really let you say anything, have I?” Twilight realises, blushing and placing her notebook down.
“Chrysalis told me you don’t have a tongue. But… I’ve known stranger creatures that could talk.” She sits down, gesturing for Scratch to do the same. The xenoquine obliges, shifting her tail beneath her to keep from sitting on it.

“Try this. Hhhhh.” Twilight opens her mouth, pushing air out of herself. Scratch mimics the gesture, opening her mouth and hissing, spittle dropping from the jaws of her second mouth. Twilight, barely hiding her fascination, continues.
“That’s… a start. Now, try to make this noise. Ehhhh. Eeeehhhhh.”

Scratch listens closely, tilting her head to the side, noticing the way Twilight’s throat shifts as she makes the noise. Scratch attempts to mimic the sound, focusing on keeping her inner jaw from getting in the way.

“Hhhhh… eeeeehhhh…” She manages. Twilight’s glee is barely disguised now as she leans in, bouncing on her hooves.
“Okay, okay! Next sounds! Two to go, let’s see if you can do them together! First, Leh. Leeeeh.” She says, mouth open wide for Scratch to see the pony’s tongue shifting to make the noise. It’s a strange motion; Scratch, tongueless, isn’t sure how she’ll make that noise, but allows Twilight continue.
“And then finally… Ooohhh. Ohhhh. Try that!” She says, practically indenting the rug and wood beneath her with how hard her forehooves are pressing into the ground, excitement barely contained.

Scratch frowns for a moment, feeling the inside of her mouth. Her inner jaw, when properly focused on, seems more… malleable than it should be. Nowhere near as flexible as Twilight’s tongue, but nonetheless moveable more than her species’ inner jaws should be able to.

Another part of being Pony? Or caused by… magic…?

Scratch considers this for a moment, then finally opens her mouth again.

“Hhhh. Eehhh… Lu-ohhhh.” She manages, inner jaw shifting slowly and sluggishly in her mouth. Twilight squeals with excitement, clapping her hooves together. Not wanting to disappoint her host, Scratch tries again. She knows the word she’s trying to say; the sounds combine in her mind as a greeting, a response to meeting someone, the opener to a conversation. She knows this word. She just has to try and say it… Speech is important, she knows this, too.

“Hhee… Heeehhlllooohh.” Scratch hisses. Her voice is… unused, faintly cracking like dried stone. But the more she uses it, the more comfortable speaking becomes.
“Heellloooh. Heellooh. Hhh…” Scratch feels an odd contraction in her chest, and she coughs suddenly, doubling over. Twilight yelps.
“O-oh, sorry! Please, don’t push yourself!” She rests a hoof on Scratch’s upper back, rubbing it. Scratch freezes, unused to the contact, and sits up.

“Hellooh.” She hisses, looking into Twilight’s eyes with her own eyeless face. Twilight stands up, grinning proudly.
“Yes, yes this is wonderful! I… Okay, I’m… heading downstairs, I’m going to see how Chryssie is doing on breakfast. If you need more rest, please, by all means, take it. We’ll be downstairs if you need us, alright? Just…” She freezes, looking out the window.

“Ponies aren’t really used to seeing someone quite like you. I doubt anyone would hurt you or anything, but just for now, try not to leave the house. When you’re ready to see the world, me and Chryssie will help introduce you to it. Alright?” She asks. Scratch reels slightly from the words inundating her; outside, house, world, breakfast? Food… prey?

Trying to parse Twilight’s meaning, Scratch relents, and simply nods. Twilight sighs in relief.
“Okay, wonderful. Well… When you’re rested, come downstairs and we’ll see what we can make you for breakfast.” She nods, patting Scratch’s back before turning and leaving the room. Scratch turns, looking out the window, out at the blue sky…

Hello… world.