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No Turning Back · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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Of Moose and Mares
Self-control. It was the most important thing, right now. No matter how much of a strain it was, no matter how much my magic screamed for me to relax and let go, I had to keep it up. I had to smile and play nice and pretend nothing was wrong. Otherwise, it would all come crashing down.

“Is something wrong, Lyra?”

I looked up, and forced myself to smile. I’d let my real feelings show through for a moment. A critical mistake.

“Nah, Bonnie, of course not.” I looked to the side, hesitating and coming up with an excuse. “It’s just… you heard the rumors too, right?”

“Rumors?” Bon-Bon asked.

“I was talking to Lily and Rose and they said they saw something in the forest.” It was an easy excuse. The flower ponies always saw things in the woods, and they had memories like goldfish. By the time Bon-Bon had a chance to talk to them, they’d have a new horror invented in their own minds. Ponies were just so afraid of the unknown.

“What kind of something?” Bon-Bon asked, her expression growing tense. Ever since I’d learned about her real job, she’d been more open with me. It was ironic, since it meant I had to be even more careful than before.

“You know how they are with details, but…” I leaned in closer. There was something I could use. A monster I’d seen once, far from here. “It was kind of like a pony, but covered in seaweed, and it was trying to get them to come with it.”

“That could be a pooka…” Bon-Bon mused, and I watched her thinking. “Or it could be nothing, or a pony with a wet mane.”

“Maybe I should tell Princess Twilight so she can take care of it,” I said. It was carefully calculated, trust me. Sure, there was a small chance Bon-Bon would let me go talk to my ‘old friend’, but more likely she’d take the bait exactly like I wanted.

“No, I can handle it!” Bon-Bon yelled, jumping to her hooves. She blushed when she realized how she sounded, like I’d threatened to go over her head. Even retired, she couldn’t quite get the urge to protect ponies and hunt monsters out of her system. It was how we’d met, though she didn’t realize it. “I mean, um. If it’s nothing I wouldn’t want to worry her. I’ll just... go and take a look.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, and my doubt pushed her to double down on being reckless, just as I’d intended.

“Of course!” She huffed. “Do you know how many pookas I’ve taken care of? Well, only two, and one didn’t really count because it was just lost and not trying to hurt anypony but… they’re not really dangerous except to foals.”

“I just don’t want you to get hurt,” I said, and I hugged her. I meant it, too. She was important to me for a lot of reasons.

“Don’t worry about me,” she said, grabbing her sunglasses. “I’ll be back in a couple hours.”

“I’ll get dinner going,” I said. “For my brave monster hunter.”

She smiled and ran out the door.

When she left, I locked the door, counted to ten, and finally, finally, listened to the exhaustion pouring through my body.

Green fire consumed my form, and I was able to relax for a little while.

The most important rule when having a monster hunter as a marefriend was no turning back where they could see you.

The first time I’d met my marefriend had been a couple years before the whole Nightmare Moon thing. Chrysalis hadn’t been planning anything big yet, so I was part of the normal rotation of infiltrators, going out and finding a little love and whatever else we could grab without being noticed.

I was young and sloppy at the time. I mean, even younger and sloppier than I am now. I’m not going to pretend I was perfect - if I was, I never would have gotten to see Bon-Bon in action.

My form at the time was a fairly nondescript pony, for a unicorn. Light blue, just barely more than white, and a mane and tail of swirling bright blue and fuschia. I’d gone with the very, very common cutie mark of a couple of horseshoes and the name Lucky Charm.

It was my first time in Canterlot. The fact I was allowed here at all showed that my Queen was showing favor to me - if she didn’t think highly of me, I’d be stuck in some little town in the middle of nowhere, and if she was displeased with me, well… I wasn’t actually sure what she did with changelings she was unhappy with, because no one ever saw them again.

The important thing was, I was learning how to fit in. You’d be surprised how little a changeling really learned about pony culture until push came to shove. For example, how many bits did a banana cost? I had no idea. One bit? Ten? A hundred? Was I supposed to haggle, or just accept the price given? The rules were different everywhere, and the best way to learn was to copy what others did.

I’ll be the first to admit I kinda screwed up a little.

Okay, so picture the scene - I’m a perfectly average unicorn named Lucky Charm. I find an interesting little shop in Canterlot, a jumbled shop full of something between junk and treasure. Almost all of it was magical, of course, because unicorns couldn’t make anything and not stick an enchantment on it.

“What’s this?” I asked, picking up an oddly-shaped horn. The musical kind, not the unicorn kind. I already had the latter and as a changeling, my standards for an oddly-shaped anything were pretty high, so you better believe me when I say it was strange.

“That is the legendary fugelhorn of Princess-” The shopkeep started, his tone telling me his sales pitch was going to be a cautionary tale and involve at least three curses.

The door slammed open, and three ponies in sunglasses and dark jackets stormed in.

“DOWN ON THE FLOOR!” The lead pony yelled, a barely-yellow earth pony mare with a two-tone mane that almost matched mine.

I felt my globflax pound in my chest. I dropped the horn and knelt down.

She was super hot, especially the way she pointed a crossbow at me.

“Where’s the basilisk?” The super-hot mare demanded.

“What’s a basilisk?” I asked, confused.

“She’s just a customer,” the shopkeep said. I made a note to buy something from him in thanks if he didn’t end up being executed or banished or whatever it was ponies did with their criminals. I’d heard rumors they got sent to the moon but that seemed unlikely.

“We’ll be the ones deciding that,” one of the less-attractive ponies said. “Agent, search her and we’ll take him and look in the back.”

“Got it,” the hot mare said. I blushed as she pushed me against the wall, showing her strength and dominance. It was really turning me on. Thank the hive I was already transformed - being in another shape gave me some control over the way my body was reacting. I tried not to make any sounds while she searched me, but a little moan slipped out.

“S-so is your name Agent, or-” I started.

“You have the right to remain silent and I suggest you use it,” she said, firmly.

“Are you doing anything later?” I asked. “Because if you want to get coffee I have some other places you could search-”

“IT’S LOOSE!” Somepony screamed from the back room. I never got to find out if my amazing line would have gotten me a date. I mean, with hindsight I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have worked, but you never know.

The shopkeep ran out of the back room like his life depended on it and managed to get all the way to the door, grabbing it with both hooves, before he froze in place, turning to stone.

“Oh Celestia,” the hot mare hissed. “Just my luck.”

“Why is he a statue?” I asked. I was considerably less turned on now that I was trapped in a life-or-death situation.

“A basilisk’s gaze can turn a pony into stone,” she explained. “Also its bite is a deadly venom. And touching it isn’t a great idea either.”

“And he just had one lying around? Why?!”

“You’d be surprised at what the Stalliongrad Mafia will pay for one,” she said.

I definitely had a lot to learn about ponies.

“Do exactly as I say,” the mare told me. “We’ll get out of this alive.”

I nodded. Alive was good.

She moved to the corner of the counter and looked around the edge to look towards the back room. Agent, or whatever her name was, immediately pulled back.

“It’s coming!” She said, with naked terror. “Get down!” I took cover behind a probably-cursed trunk painted blue and covered in hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, and blue moons. I made a big mistake. I watched to see what was going to happen. What did a basilisk look like, anyway? I expected something like a dragon, or maybe a giant snake.

A lizard almost as long as my horn scuttled out of the back room.

“Is that it?” I asked, amused. Its eyes met mine, and my laughter froze in my throat.

Like I said, I was young and sloppy and stupid.

Some time later - a few hours, I’d later find out - the world started moving again.

“Are you okay?” Asked a pony in a white coat. “Do you have any pain or stiffness in your joints?”

“I’m-” I coughed, my throat dry.

“Your mouth was open while you were petrified. You’ve probably got some dust in there, hold on.” He gave me a cup of water, and I greedily drank it down.

“Thanks,” I said, giving him the empty cup. I looked around, hoping to spot the attractive mare from before. “Where are those other ponies? The ones in suits.”

“Sorry, Ma’am, you’re the only one here besides the shopkeep. We were ordered to come here and treat both of you for petrification.”

My next chance to choose an assignment, I decided on Canterlot again, because I wanted to try and find that mare. Since I’d been there and nothing terrible had happened (I left the temporary petrification out of my report, because it definitely wasn’t my fault and no one got a promotion by reporting on their failures) my request was granted and I was back in the richest and most dangerous (for changelings) city in Equestria.

Now I know what you’re thinking - how could I possibly find one mare in an entire city? Well, we changelings happen to have an amazing information network. All I had to do was ask some of the deep-cover changelings that had been there for years, beg a little, ask again but with a bribe this time, and then I had the information I needed.

The mystery mare had been drinking at the same bar for a few nights in a row. Usually that would make her an easy target, but according to my contact, she was as sour as a lemon and totally worthless as a meal.

It didn’t matter. I was willing to put in the extra effort. There was an old changeling saying about lemons - if life gave you lemons, spend years plotting revenge and strike when life least expected it.

I decided to start by adopting a new disguise and observing her from a distance. I wasn’t feeling particularly creative, so I just copied somepony that I’d seen on the street, a green unicorn that had been busking halfway across town.

She was at the bar when I arrived, nursing a drink and giving off an aura that would have told any changeling that they were looking for love in all the wrong places. It wasn’t going to scare me away, though! I was on a mission.

You’re probably wondering why I was spending so much time and effort on one pony. Have you ever wanted one particular food so badly that you went out to the store in the middle of the night to get what you needed to make it? It’s just like that, when you get an uncontrollable urge to make a roast at midnight or pudding at two in the morning. It seems dumb but then you do it, and it’s worth all the effort. Or you feel really stupid an hour later because you made a big meal in the middle of the night. Sometimes both.

“Hey there,” I said, sliding into the seat next to her. “How’s it hanging?”

She gave me a look.

“I lost my job and I can’t even tell anypony why, and it’s gonna be really great getting another job when I can’t use my last one as a reference because- because of reasons!” She slammed back what was left of her drink and motioned for the bartender to bring her another.

“I’ll have one of whatever she’s having,” I said. “And this round is on me.”

“Thanks,” she muttered.

“It’s no problem,” I said. “So what’s your name?”

“It’s Sw-” she stopped herself. “Bon-Bon. Just Bon-Bon.”

“I’m Lyra.” I really hoped I was pronouncing that right. “I’m kinda looking for a job, too.”

“I think I’ve seen you playing in the street,” she said.

“Yep,” I said. I felt a bead of sweat work its way down my face. Did she know this green mare? If so, I was in more trouble than I thought. “It’s not exactly the best-paying job. Sort of more like begging. Exactly like that, actually.”

“I bet that’s not good for references either,” she said, turning to her new drink as it arrived and taking a long sip. I copied her.

By the hive, this was a terrible drink. It was like the bartender had taken everything that was high-proof enough to burn, poured a shot of each into a glass, and topped it with a cherry. I pretended to like it.

“Awful,” I said. “The references, I mean.”

“It’d be easier to just move somewhere else,” Bon-Bon sighed. “My former employer strongly suggested it to me, actually.”

“If you’re moving anyway…” I took another sip and coughed. I was pretty sure finishing the drink would give me liver failure. “How’d you like a roommate?”

She raised an eyebrow.

“I literally beg for money in the street,” I said, quickly. “And rent in Canterlot…”

“Right,” she said, still skeptical.

“And you’re cute!” I blurted out, feeling my cheeks burn.

“I’m cute,” Bon-Bon snorted. Then she started giggling.

“Sorry,” I said, looking down. “I’m not good at this.” The worst part was that I’d had almost a year of training in seduction techniques.

“No, keep going,” Bon-Bon said. “I don’t mind being called cute. But if you want to move in with me, you’d better buy me dinner first.”

Our first date nearly ended in disaster.

I’d let her pick where she wanted to eat, and when I arrived, just a few minutes early, Lyra - the real Lyra - was playing right across the street.

I was bucked.

Bon-Bon wasn’t in sight, so I had only a few moments to fix this. I just had to use all my changeling might and training to turn this around. Step one, pick another disguise and get the real Lyra out of here.

And then I saw her, only a block away.

I was bucked harder than a thing that got bucked really hard and I didn’t have time to think of what that thing was because I was bucked that hard too.

I panicked. A little. With no time to be subtle, I hit Lyra with a little bit of the old changeling horn-twisting mind meld and she stopped playing like she’d heard somepony calling her name and left everything behind, trotting down an alleyway and into the next street, chasing a phantom sound.

I ran over and took her place. It wasn’t going to last long, but I’d think of something else later. I grabbed the harp she’d been playing and tried to look like I’d been here for a few hours.

Bon-Bon waved to me when she spotted me a few moments later. I’d only gotten away with it by the skin of my fangs.

I waved back, and she trotted over.

“Busking right in front of the restaurant?” she asked.

“I had a few hours to kill a-and this way I wouldn’t be late!” Not the best excuse, but better than nothing. “Besides, this way we’ll have enough for dessert.”

I looked at the loose bits in the cup Lyra had set out. It was not exactly an encouraging amount of money, but thankfully I’d brought some of my own.

“You should play something for me,” Bon-Bon suggested.

I froze.

“You mean, like a song?”

“Of course like a song,” she laughed. “You’ve got a lyre. I just want to hear how good you are.”

“Wouldn’t you rather eat?” I asked.

“We have a little bit before our reservation.” She smirked. I could feel a strange mix of emotions coming off of her.

I brought the lyre up and swallowed. If I didn’t get this right, I’d make a fool of myself, maybe expose myself as a changeling, and mess up the date. I wasn’t sure what part was the worst, because they were all really bad.

Oh right, and I only had a few minutes at most before the real Lyra recovered and came back.

I plucked at the strings, trying to make music come out of the little harp. The first few notes were hesitant as I figured things out, but I managed to work my way into a rhythm and sort of play music.

“No wonder you’re looking for a roommate,” Bon-Bon said, when I finished. “You can’t be making much.” She confirmed that for herself by looking at my cup and the few lonely bits within.

“Hey, I tried my best,” I muttered. “I get nervous.”

She patted my shoulder. “Come on. Let’s get something to eat.”

I was already getting an appetizer. Her pity was palpable. And sort of tasty.

Dinner went well, at least. I did know pony table manners. It was one of the things we’d been drilled on in the hive.

“This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” Bon-Bon said, as we finished up dessert and had moved on to tea. She’d fixed mine up for me after she saw me struggling to decide what to add to it.

“You thought it would be bad?”

“I wasn’t expecting this to be a normal date,” she said. “Because you’re…”

“A musician?”

She smiled at that. “Not a very good one.”

“I’m working on it,” I muttered.

“It’s very cute,” she said. “But I have to ask - why me?”

“Well, um,” I took a sip of the tea. For some stupid reason, the truth started coming out of me instead of a nice, easy lie. “Because I think you’re really attractive a-and you look cute in sunglasses and I wanted to get close to you!”

Her expression changed subtly.

“You saw me in sunglasses?”

“Is that bad?”

“...No. Just unusual. What’s in it for you, though? What do you want?”

“I just want you,” I said, feeling stupid. “A-and I want you to like me.”

“Huh.” She looked at my tea. “That’s not what I expected to hear.”

“What were you expecting?”

“Let’s say I was expecting something more selfish.”

I would have asked her what she meant, but the waiter dropped the bill off, and the total was a little higher than I expected. I wasn’t going to have many bits left over. I swallowed. So much for spending my night in a comfortable pony hotel room. Of course I could handle roughing it. I was a changeling, after all. We were tough. Practically invincible. But I really could have gone for a warm shower and a bed.

“Are you okay?” Bon-Bon asked.

I forced myself to smile.

“It’s fine,” I said, taking the bits from my saddlebags.

“Do you have somewhere to stay?”

I swallowed. “Um…”

She sighed. “Fine. You can sleep on my couch. For tonight. And don’t get any ideas. I’d just rather have you where I can see you. Should have known you wouldn’t have anything normal arranged...”

“Thank you,” I muttered.

She stood, but instead of heading towards the front, Bon-Bon trotted to the back, right through what I was sure was an employee’s only exit. I followed, unsure what she was doing.

“Why are we going out the back way?”

Bon-Bon gave me a look. “I just feel like it.”

I wasn’t going to complain. It was a lucky break for me, since the real Lyra might still be in front. I followed along, feeling my spirits buoyed. Things were looking up!

Ponyville wouldn’t have been my first choice. It was too close-knit for anyling to really infiltrate, but that actually ended up being good in the long run. Running off with Bon-Bon was kind of outside my mission parameters.

In other words, I was what ponies might technically call… AWOL.

We got a little house together, and eventually I actually learned to play the lyre (you’d be surprised what you can pick up if you’re sufficiently motivated).

You probably know the rest of the story - invasion of Canterlot (don’t ask about the bridesmaid thing) and, well, I did poorly enough during that little adventure that Chrysalis didn’t even try to contact me when they replaced basically every important pony in Equestria.

I’m not sure between us if me or Bon-Bon was more embarrassed about not noticing until the Queen’s plan fell apart.

And then there was the fallout from what happened after that, which brings us back to the present...

It was a few days after I’d sent Bon-Bon on a wild pooka chase and gotten myself a few hours of rest in my natural form that disaster struck. And not just a little disaster like a stampede of bunnies or Discord attempting to take over Equestria or running out of chocolate during THAT time of the year. It was a big disaster. The biggest and neonest.

It was so big it was on my front doorstep, and it was twice as tall as I was with big moose horns and pastel colors.

“Hey I know this is probably a bad time,” Thorax said, in what was the understatement of the century.

I slammed the door on his bizarre pastel face.

“Honey, who was at the door?” Bon-Bon asked, from the back room.

“Uh…” I had to come up with a good excuse.

“Lyra, I swear if you forgot to pay the water bill and they’re here to turn it off, again, I’m going to staple the bill to your horn!” Bon-Bon stormed out of the kitchen, wearing an incredibly cute apron that did nothing to make her glare any less serious as she pushed past me and opened the door.

Thorax was rubbing his snout. Maybe I’d slammed the door a little hard.

Bon-Bon narrowed her eyes, then looked from him to me.

“Wonderful,” she sighed. “I guess this is about changeling business, then?”

“W-what?!” I almost choked on my globthax.

“Honey, you’re a wonderful mare and I love you but I’ve been a monster hunter for half my life.” Bon-Bon kissed my cheek. “I’ve known you were a changeling for years.”

“But- No you didn’t!”

“You buzz when you snore.”

“...Lots of ponies do that.” She gave me a look, and I crumpled halfway to the floor.

“If it helps, you’re a very good changeling. I almost never caught you undisguised.” She hugged me. “And to think, I nearly killed you during our first date when you mind-controlled the real Lyra.”

“You what?!”

“I’d been watching for hours, honey. I saw everything. The important thing is that I didn’t, and you should invite Thorax in before all the neighbors start talking.”

I grumbled and stepped aside, motioning for Thorax to come in.

“I just don’t get why you never said anything,” I mumbled, watching Bonnie pour tea.

“It seemed important to you that it was a secret, and I didn’t want to ruin things,” Bon-Bon explained.

“Can I have some extra honey?” Thorax asked.

“Don’t worry, I know how Lyra likes it,” Bon-Bon giggled, adding a few more tablespoons of delicious golden honey to his tea. I tried not to be jealous. She was only supposed to give her honey to me!

Well I mean, it wasn’t her honey exactly. She didn’t make it. And she didn’t have bees. But she bought it from somepony who did have an apiary and that made it Bon-Bon’s honey, and only I should have been allowed to have it, darn it!

Thorax must have sensed that I was upset, because he gave me one of those nervous smiles that you give somepony when you know they’re mad at you. I gave those to Bonnie a lot.

“S-so I’m here because…” he coughed, swallowing. “You know about the whole thing with Chrysalis and the hive and stuff, right?”

I nodded.

“Well, ever since then, I’ve been trying to round up all the loose changelings.” He smiled. “Get it, loose change-lings? S-spike thought up that joke and… you don’t like it. Okay.” his ears folded back.

“Lyra, stop being rude to Thorax,” Bonnie chided.

“I’m not being rude! I didn’t say anything!” I protested.

“You’re glaring at him in silence, Lyra. I don’t even know why you’re so upset.”

“He blew my cover!”

Bon-Bon rolled her eyes. Like it didn’t even matter! Didn’t she know how important my cover was? Without it I might starve to death! Or, well, she wasn’t kicking me out so that probably wasn’t going to happen, but it was very embarrassing. It was like… like being caught in the shower by everypony in town. At the same time.

You’ve had those dreams too, right? Except unlike those dreams, this wasn’t going to end in a pile of hugs and kissing, this was going to end with torches and pitchforks! And if you think I’m exaggerating, the store next to Quills and Sofas exclusively sold torches and pitchforks.

“It’s okay!” Thorax tried to sound reassuring but it was hard to take him seriously when he looked like a giant pastel moose and still had his old voice. I wonder why he never changed it to be more imposing or regal - maybe he wanted his friends to know it was still him, despite how he looked?

“How is it okay?”

“We’re friends with Equestria now that Chrysalis is gone, so we don’t need to hide.” He paused. “As much. Most of the time. Usually the rioting stops pretty quickly! And you have Princess Twilight in town and she can explain things.”

“Or Starlight could use mind control and make everypony calm down,” Bon-Bon muttered.

“If we wanted to do that, we’d do it our...selves…” Thorax coughed at Bon-Bon’s look. “It was a joke? Sort of. We don’t do that anymore! The point is, Lyra, I wanted to ask if you’d consider-”

“What, become a weird hole-less pastel-ling?”

“Princess Twilight was working on the terminology,” Thorax said. “We still just call ourselves changelings. It’s not like anything really changed except that we’re not hungry all the time. It’s made most of us a lot less crabby.”

“I’m not hungry anyway,” I huffed, getting up to hug Bon-Bon. “She’s all I need.”

“That’s very sweet of you, even if it is about my value as a food source,” Bonnie muttered, smiling just a little.

“I can’t force you to change,” Thorax sighed. “There are a couple changelings that haven’t made up their minds yet. I can tell you all the ones who do end up happier. Just think on it, okay?”

“Why does the idea bother you so much?” Bonnie asked me, after Thorax had left. He said he had other changelings he needed to talk to, but I didn’t think there were any other changelings in ponyville. Of course I also hadn’t noticed when Chrysalis replaced half the town, so maybe I was a little out of the loop.

“He’s like a big neon moose!” I blurted out.

Bon-Bon raised an eyebrow. “And?”

“I don’t wanna be a neon moose.”

“You’re a shapeshifter, Lyra. You spend almost your entire life as a colorful horse already.”

“You don’t understand!” I got up and started pacing. “It’s not a disguise, it’s… it’s about changing who I am under it! The first thing changelings are taught, after loyalty to the Queen and bathroom training and to never spit slime on anything we wanted to keep is that we have to hold on to the part of us deep inside. The irreducible me.”

“Couldn’t you just change how you look back to your normal form?” Bonnie asked. “Actually I don’t really know what you look like under your disguise. I always tried to give you warning so I wouldn’t catch you au naturale.”

I bit my lip and let my disguise drop. Let me tell you, it’s harder than it sounds, changing in front of somepony you love. You spend years training yourself to never, ever lose control, and then you have to do it on purpose and you freeze up a little.

“This is what I really look like,” I muttered.

“I thought your voice would be scratchier.”

“Why?” I asked, looking back over my shoulder at her.

“I assumed it was part of your disguise,” she explained.

“Oh.” I shrugged. “The real Lyra probably has a better singing voice.”

“We could always go to Trottingham and find out,” Bonnie teased. “I looked her up after we started dating. I needed to make sure you hadn’t, you know.”

“Foalnapped her and sealed her in a cocoon?”

“That, yes.”

“I wouldn’t do that.”

“Well I know that now, honey, but I didn’t know it back then.”

“Can I change back now?” I asked. “I feel naked.”

“You’re almost always naked anyway,” Bon-Bon chided. “Whatever you decide, you don’t have to keep up your disguise all the time when it’s just you and me, okay? I know how much of a strain it is for you sometimes, and I don’t like seeing you hurt.”

I scraped a hoof against the carpet, blushing green.

“What’s your real name?” Bon-Bon asked.

“Aristate,” I mumbled. “But I haven’t used it in a long time.”

“It’s a pretty name,” Bon-Bon assured me. “No matter what you choose, I’ll still be here for you.”

“You’re sure about this?” Thorax asked, again. He barely fit in my living room. I definitely wasn’t going to do the whole neon moose thing out in public where anypony could see. “Once you do it, you can’t change back. Permanently, I mean. You can still, you know.”

“Change my shape?” I guessed.

“Yeah,” he said. “But… I don’t think anyone has even tried changing back to their old shape. I know we can still look like ponies. And rocks! I’m really good at looking like a rock.”

“Why would you ever want to look like a rock?”

“Looks like someone has never had to hide from a dragon,” Thorax said.

“Don’t dragons eat rocks?”

“I…” Thorax rubbed his chin. “Only shiny ones, I think. But you’re sure about this?”

I looked at Bon-Bon, and took a deep breath, nodding.

“You remember the instructions I gave you?”

“Yeah. Coherent death beam of love, got it.”

“And don’t point it at-”

I didn’t hear what he was about to say, because I was too busy feeling my love reserve explode out of me. At first it was not a great feeling. Actually it felt a lot like having my feeblethrong rupture. You probably don’t know what that feels like because you’ve got a spleen instead, but trust me it’s not pleasant.

The terror and sense of wrongness faded away after a few seconds to a kind of calm serenity. It was like drowning. In the sense that the world kind of fades and you feel yourself getting detached, not in the sense that my lungs were filling with fluid.

I felt like I was floating away. I could feel my body changing, the hunger inside me fading.

And then I got dumped on my flank as the magic gave out.

“Lyra!” Bon-Bon ran over to me, hugging me.

“Ow,” I muttered, rubbing my butt. It felt different. I looked back, and the first thing I saw was my own big minty-green flank. I saw it enough in the every day to recognize the curve, but usually it wasn’t covered in chitin. “I need a mirror!” I said, starting to panic.

“You look great, honey,” Bonnie assured me.

“Why did she point that right at my face…” Thorax groaned, stumbling around the living room, blind. I’d apologize later, maybe.

I gave her a look and whined, and she helped me stand, leading me to the mirror we had in the hallway. I usually used it to make sure my disguise was in place before going out the door, the same way most ponies would check they had their pouch of bits.

I was…

“Weird,” I said, touching the mirror. My chitin had changed to almost the same shade of green as my- as Lyra’s coat, and my eyes were golden-yellow. The purple shell on my back was going to take some getting used to, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared.

And I had to admit, I felt great. There wasn’t a gnawing pit of endless hunger inside me. Just the regular hunger that came along with skipping breakfast.

“I like the… neck gems?” Bon-Bon said.

“I don’t know what they’re called either,” I whispered.

There was a crash from the living room. We both turned to look. Thorax was stuck in the bookcase, his horns jammed in the shelves.

“Help?” he asked.

“It wasn’t so bad, was it?” Bon-Bon asked, a few hours later. I was enjoying the novel sensation of being able to cuddle with her in my (new) natural form. We’d already enjoyed the novel sensation of figuring out what my body could do, after getting Thorax out of the bookcase and seeing him off with a promise to go to the hive at some point and check in.

“I could get used to this,” I admitted. “I was just afraid that things would change between us. At least the trouble is over now.”

“So was I. It’s why I never talked to you,” Bon-Bon admitted.

“It was silly, huh?” I laughed.

“Let’s have a foal,” Bonnie said.

My glorbthax stopped. At least I knew I still had one of those. I looked into her eyes, not sure if she was serious.

She was.

I was wrong about my troubles ending. They’d only begun.
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#1 · 1
Man, that was cute. And fun. It was all around cute and fun, much like Lyra and Bon-Bon themselves.

I'm feeling dumb, because I can't come up with much to say other than I would've wanted more, that would've helped us buy their relationship. How did Bon-Bon fell in love with Lyra? What other things did they have to go through? Has Bon-Bon ever protected Lyra's identity from the public? I really feel fleshing things out a bit more would get us more invested in their relationship.

Still, wonderful little tale.
#2 ·
With a title like that, I hope we've got some humor on deck.

Lyra has to maintain her focus around Bon-Bon. Lyra as changeling?

“That could be a pooka…” Pooka... from Changeling. Yeah, doubling down on that guess.

And... yep. Changeling. But I'm glad it wasn't dragged out, because the hook is set. Let's see where this goes.

"...no turning back where they could see you." Italicizing your own "clever" interpretation of the prompt? A bit brazen.

"I felt my globflax pound in my chest." Heh.

A few more clever turns of phrase... the bit about lemons is good.

Slightly interesting backstory about their first date, but it's not really holding my attention very well.

And she knew the whole time... I really didn't think this was going to go that route, because it seemed too obvious. Guess I was wrong.

And she goes the neon moose route.

Okay, not too bad overall. Definitely cute, with some funny bits. It feels like never quite obtains the weightyness it aims for though. That she's a secret changeling is kinda... meh. In the same episode where we see Bon Bon's identity, we also see changlings undisguised at the wedding, and nevermind the Neon Moosening... seems coming out of the closet should've been well before now.

That choice to go neon... that feels like it should've been a bigger deal. The story shows her "doubting" it but never with enough reasons other than "I don't want to look like a neon moose" for the most part. It attempts to talk about the idea of core identity, but never really makes me feel the weight of that.

I think this story might do better to take one of the two things and focus on that. Either show us the early, secret-changling dates and other stuff going on, (before thorax and the new changelings) OR have Lyra now debating this conversion (and thus, reveal to bon-bon.) Trying to fit both in one story lowered the impact a fair bit.
#3 · 1
Genre: Moose Invasion

Thoughts: If I had to peg this in two words, they'd be “smooth” and “romance.” I know, the latter’s just a genre label. But this gets high marks for technical cleanliness and it makes the case for its ship pretty effectively. Overall it's an easy, enjoyable, and interesting read.

Nice Cave Johnson reference with the lemons. It probably works whether the reader is into Portal or not.

Really nice metaphor with the middle-of-the-night snack run thing.

Things drag a little once Neon Genesis Moosevangelion shows up. I don't know if that's a major problem; I get how it drives the character struggles of the latter half. But maybe that progression is just less interesting than the humorous, cute, and well-narrated backstory up to that point. Although the pitchforks and torches thing is worth the price of admission.

...Yeah. Ok, so I do like the Lyra/Bon Bon interaction leading up to the transformation. The transformation itself still feels pretty arbitrary as a plot point, though. It doesn't feel like there are a lot of stakes around the transformation, either for or against. And it feels kinda like a downer that our active and proactive heroine through the first half just has a big change dropped on her because of a knock on the door.

Aaaand then we end on a happy note.


Well, I can sit here quibble about what I'd like the second half of the plot to look like, but I can't deny the overall high quality here. It's all just really well-executed. Maybe its various different sections could be integrated together a bit more deftly, as right now they come close to seeming sort of like a series of only loosely-connected vignettes. But this is strong--very strong. Very--

Tier: Strong
#4 · 2
This was... really funny. Surprisingly funny, with a nice creamy caramel core of emotion. I read the opening, and it didn't really catch me, so I wasn't sure if I'd like the way the story turned out. But you won me over pretty quickly, author. It's the same premise as Destination Unknown, but instead of being heartbreakingly gorgeous, it's just silly. While still being very moving and emotional.

I think... okay, two things. One, I don't love the opening scene. I wish I could tell you why. I get how it fits into the story, but I didn't particularly care for it. Just didn't land with me.

Two, if Bon Bon was contemplating killing Lyra before their first date, after seeing Lyra hypnotize the real Lyra, then... why the hell didn't she follow through? I don't think fake!Lyra said or did anything to earn Bon Bon's trust during their date, so Bon Bon's choice to spare her life seems unmotivated and out of character, for a professional, monster-hunting veteran like herself.

(thing 2.5: Bon Bon goes from surly and solitary to opening up to Lyra pretty quickly during their initial meeting, without any justifiable change in characterization)

Actually, three things: What about the real Lyra? Because fake!Lyra took over her life without actually disposing of her in any meaningful way, and I can't imagine the real Lyra wouldn't ever catch on to the fact that someone else is living her life far better than she could, despite being a demonstrably inferior magician.

I think it might be better if you omit the original Lyra from the story altogether, have fake!Lyra just assume a carefully crafted pony disguise (we have established that she can make up a pony disguise from scratch, after all), and change both the moment Bon Bon realized she was a changeling, and her rationale for not killing her.

Suggestion on that (which would also address point 2.5): Bon Bon knows just by talking to Lyra that she's a changeling, being a veteran monster hunter and all that. Bon Bon schedules the hoping to assess her threat, and possibly kill her if it came to that. Something happens during the date to change Bon Bon's mind; maybe Lyra talks about being separated from her family, not sharing the same values as them, etc., bringing Bon Bon to suspect that she might be an aberration in the changeling hive mind or whatever. Bon Bon decides to keep seeing Lyra to assess her, and eventually falls in love with her.

...j-just a thought. *coughs*
#5 ·
The most important rule when having a monster hunter as a marefriend was no turning back where they could see you

Surely this is true for any relationship :)
#6 · 1
If Thorax is Moose does that make Spike Squirrel? Ember would be Crowley, then, for sure.

Cute, fun, and Bon-Bon's voice and character kill. Of course she knew all along. She's a professional, damnit.