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On the Verge · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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It Wasn't Alive in the First Place...
Rarity popped her head up.

“Dangit.” Rarity wiped the drool off her lips. She glanced her half-open eyes to the sunset outside. Probably five o'clock. She didn’t look forward to Sweetie begging her to make dinner.

As she shook herself awake, she spotted the paper on her desk. Her heart skipped a beat.

“Oh no!” Rarity levitated the drool-stained assignment in front of her. “Ocellus will not be happy about this!” She pulled a hoof-kerchief out of her saddlebags and wiped the excess off. She pulled the assignment close to her and breathed on it, hoping that the rest would evaporate.

She sighed and set the assignment aside. “I will probably just give her an ‘A’.” Rarity said as she remembered how class went today. Ocellus kept asking good questions about gemstones. My, she had an innate understanding of them. Her previous two assignments were turned in early about the properties of gemstones and matching the color just right to the dress you were putting it on.

She hopped away from her desk and stretched her legs. At the same time, she made a mental note to never grade assignments on four hours of sleep again. Thank Celestia it was Ocellus’s assignment and not Gallus’s. That was another story.

She heard clattering downstairs.

“Who could be still here?” She secured her saddlebags and trotted downstairs. As she got closer, the muffled sounds became clearer. The sounds of grinding saws and pounding hammers. Somepony… or somecreature was staying late doing a bit of carpentry.

“Applejack must be still here.” Rarity said.

She rolled her eyes as she followed the noise. Silly Applejack. Her friend often spent countless hours teaching the students carpentry. It took up at least a quarter of a semester now, and the students were getting tired. Rarity intervened once and told Applejack to switch to something else. The sawdust that some of them trailed into her room was horrendous.

She’d figure she pop by and tell Applejack to go home. She didn’t understand how Applejack could function on little sleep, but that was no excuse for her to tend to her family. Granny Smith would get worried.

As she approached the room, a pungent odor filled the air. Normally, it would be the smell of burning wood and lumber, but now, it smelt like burnt hair. She quickened her pace, she wanted to check if everypony was okay. Especially since a burnt mane was very hard to repair. Even harder to work into something presentable.

She heard Twilight’s voice. “Starlight, can you pass me the sandpaper?”

Oh, so Twilight and Starlight we here. But whatever we they doing in the woodshop?

Rarity came up to the door, which was slightly ajar. She called out to her friends. “Twilight, what are you doing here so late? I thought you were-”

Rarity froze. She blinked twice, to make sure her eyes weren’t deceiving her.

“Okay, hold ‘er still.” Twilight instructed.

Starlight held the Ocellus’s head in place. Ocellus had her eyes closed while her hooves- ot whatever they were called- were fastened on the corners of the table by metal clamps.
Twilight pulled a nearby hacksaw out from under a blowtorch, the blade glowing yellow from the heat. She put it in between Ocellus’s horn and forehead and started to saw away.

Rarity screamed. She booked it for the exit. She had to make it… otherwise she could be next.

Starlight appeared right in front of Rarity.

“Rarity! Stop!” Starlight slammed her hoof against the red carpet.

Rarity swerved around Starlight, still screaming at the top of her lungs.

“… or not.” Starlight’s magic flashed. Rarity felt herself shift and re-appeared in front of Starlight. Rarity felt Starlight’s aura tighten around her.

“Rarity, calm down!” Starlight, unamused, took off her goggles.

“Let go of me! Help!” Rarity wriggled in her grasp. Rarity’s horn glowed. In an instant, Rarity teleported out of Starlight’s magic.

Starlight caught hold of her again. Rarity tried to wrestle out of Starlight’s blue aura.

“Rarity? What’s the matter?” Spike said as he approached from the far end of the hallway.

“Spike! Run!!” Rarity shouted.

“From what?” Spike popped an eyebrow.

“Run!” Rarity said.

Spike face-clawed. “Rarity, you’re in no danger!”

Rarity gasped “Your one of them?!” Rarity screamed.

Spike turned to Starlight. “Geez, now I understand the Masked Matter Horn’s exasperation when Radiance was screaming about a giant zit.” He turned back to Rarity. “Rarity, we need you to calm down.”

“Calm down?” Rarity waved her hooves frantically, trying to break out of Starlight’s grasp. “You three will pay for what you’ve done! Ocellus deserved none-”

“Ocellus is fine, she just molted.” Spike explained. “Twilight just wanted to use the empty exo-skeleton.”

Rarity paused. “What?”

“Ocellus molted.” Spike said. “I kinda feel bad for her though. Molting isn’t fun.”

“What you saw was just an empty shell.” Starlight explained.

Rarity stopped struggling. “Oh.” She smiled nervously towards Starlight. “Sorry. I overreacted.”

Starlight chuckled. “I should’ve caught the whole thing on camera. You acted like the pretty filly protagonist out of a horror movie.”

Spike chuckled. “Don’t worry, we understand, Rarity. We should’ve mentioned it to you, but we didn’t want to bug you in the middle of your lecture to the students about gemstones.” Spike looked upward as he smacked his lips. “Speaking of gemstones, I might go for one right now.”

“You’re not touching any more from our stash.” Starlight said. “Twilight needs it to encrust”

“Encrust?” Rarity asked. Were they putting together a dress?

“Nothing to worry about.” Spike waved Rarity off. “I was scared at what she and Starlight were doing at first, but they explained it to me. Everything is completely fine!”

“I’ll explain on the way.” Starlight said calmly. She didn’t want to trigger any screaming again. “But first, can you keep this a secret?”

“Pinkie promise, dearie.” Rarity patted Starlight’s shoulder.

“I don’t think that Pinkie knows what is happening here either.” Starlight said, thinking to herself. “Or does she? I can never tell because Pinkie tends to be anywhere she pleases.”

“Do you think Pinkie might’ve told somepony?” Starlight asked.

“I doubt it.” Rarity said. “Yes, Pinkie can be random, but she’s sensible enough to keep secrets.”

“Mmm.” Starlight nodded.

As they trotted down the hallway, Rarity cleared her throat. “So, you were going to tell me what you and Twilight were doing?”

“Oh, so she is making armor.” Starlight said.

“Making armor?” Rarity asked.

Starlight wiped the bridge of her nose. “I’ve got my work cut out for me.”

“Ocellus molted. When she was trying to find a way to dispose of her… molt, Twilight stopped her and asked if it was okay to use it for science.” Starlight explained. “Ocellus agreed since she was going to throw it out anyways.”

“That’s awful nice of her.” Rarity said. “But why armor?”

Rarity's nose scrunched again as the pungent odor kicked her in the nostrils. She pulled out a perfume bottle out of bag and spritzed herself on the muzzle. This earned a chuckle from Starlight.

Starlight smiled. She opened the door and motioned into the woodshop. “I’ll let the master do the talking.”

As soon as Rarity trotted in, she saw it: a shell of Ocellus was being held on a table by clamps. Every so often, a couple gems were studded into the harder outer shell. Twilight hacked away at the skull, grunting in mild irriation when the blade got caught.

Twilight turned and waved at Rarity with one of her yellow rubber gloves. “Evening Rarity!”

She slid her goggles up and approached Rarity. “Sorry if we scared you.” Twilight apologized. She looked back at the Ocellus shell. “Comes to think of it, this would make a really good Nightmare Night prank for Rainbow.”

“I’d would want to see her reaction.” Rarity giggled. “So, anyways, why are you interested in Ocellus’s shell?”

“Allow me to demonstrate!” Twilight smiled devilishly. “Ocellus!”

“Coming!” Out of a tiny corner of the room, Ocellus came skipping out. She also had a pair of goggles resting on her forehead and rubber gloves covering her hooves. “Salutations, Professor Rarity!”

Rarity smiled. Ocellus looked adorable in her outfit. It caused her muse to zing slightly.

“Ocellus, do you want to demonstrate what we discovered?” Twilight said with a hint of pep in her voice. Twilight levitated the blowtorch closer to her.

“Ready!” Ocellus said. She slid her goggles on, pressed them tight against her eyes. She scrunched her nose, took a deep breath and held it.

Twilight ran the pilot light of the blowtorch over Ocellus. Rarity just about fainted, but noticed that Ocellus didn’t do as much as wince.

“Alright. We’re done.” Twilight said, levitating the torch back to reheat the hacksaw.

“Wow! How did you do that?” Rarity asked.

“After Principal Twilight ran a couple tests on my molted shell, she discovered the chitin has an interesting structure.” Ocellus said. “If you heat it up, it super-hardens,
rivaling the tensile strength of dragon scales.”

“A propane heat of a hundred and four point seven kilojoules per mole to be exact.” Twilight tapped a nearby chalkboard filled with jargon that made Rarity sweat even by looking at it. “I had no idea that Ocellus was fireproof. The texts on Changeling anatomy are very sparse.”

Ocellus smiled as she pulled her goggles up. “Principal Twilight is trying to extract pieces of the hardened skeleton, but so far, it’s not budging.”

“It shows potential for future guardspony armor.” Twilight said. “Unfortunately, I’ve tried everything in my power to pull it apart… extreme heat up to a thousand degrees Kelvin…” Twilight glanced at Spike “Thank you for stoking the fire.”

“No problem.” He climbed up on the table and popped a gem into his mouth.

Twilight gave Spike an endearing look. “I’ve also tried pressure grinding, gemstone assisted bond-breaking, you name it…”

“What about acid?” Ocellus cut in.

“That may work,” Twilight said. “But then we would need to separate the acid from the aqueous shell ions.” Twilight patted her chin.

"The reason I say it is that errosion from rainfall tends to recycle the chitin." Ocellus said. "Though that is a shot in the dark since this is a new material."

“I do have a vat of strong acid from when I was teaching acid-base biology in dragon anatomy.” She chuckled and turned to Rarity “Don’t ask how we got that sample.”

Twilight turned back to Ocellus. “You think that will work?”

“It’s worth a shot.” Ocellus said.

“Okay, I will go get it.” Twilight said. She trotted out the door.

The lab grew quiet. The only thing that could be heard was the rushing air of the blowtorch and an occasional much from Spike.
“So, Ocellus, nice job on your assignment.” Rarity said. “Can you tell me about the magenta and orange gemstones?” Hopefully she would be able to make up for literally drooling over her student’s assignment.

“Oh, the right shade of magenta is formed from Malachite, and orange is from sodium-calcium salts, sometimes iron.” Ocellus recited. “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, I just had a hiccup in grading.” Rarity smiled and nodded. “A plus, Ocellus.”

Ocellus smiled. “Thank you, Professor Rarity!”

Right as she said that, Twilight walked back in, towing in a huge jar full of a pinkish liquid. “Alright. Due to the fact that this acid is powerful, its reaction rate is very slow, we need to wait until tomorrow evening to go back to grinding, okay?” Twilight asked, unscrewing the lid.

Ocellus nodded.

“Oh, before you do that!” Starlight’s horn glowed She blasted the table. The table glowed for a second, then faded. “There you are, any spills will be redirected into the jar!”

"Great thinking, Starlight!" Without wasting another second, Twilight poured away.

“You seem oddly calm.” Rarity observed. “I’d expect you to be unnerved. At least I would be if Twilight was sawing a mannequin of me into pieces.”

Twilight's pouring halted. “Darnit Rarity! Now I can’t see Ocellus's molt the same anymore!”

“Whada! Bu- uh! It’s not as odd as you think!” Ocellus cut in. “I think the pony equivalent is losing baby teeth. It’s common while growing up.”

“Oh.” Rarity said. That made sense. Sweetie Belle lost her baby teeth only a couple years back. She chuckled. “I’d bet that make Twilight the tooth fairy then.”

“Tooth fairy?” Ocellus asked as she turned to Rarity. Her milky bug eyes stared at Rarity in wonder.

“A story for another time, dearie.” Rarity waved off. “Or better yet, ask Sandbar when you have class with him tomorrow. He can tell you.”

“I will.” Ocellus said. “So, how will lecture be tomorrow?”

“Pop quiz.” Rarity said. “Blame Professor Applejack. It was her suggestion.”

Ocellus giggled. "Honesty is the best policy."

“Okay, we’re done!” Twilight said, screwing the lid back on. She placed the jar onto a nearby shelf and pasted a label on it that read: 'Warning: strong acid. Property of Headmaster Twilight.'

“Better get some rest, Ocellus” Starlight said, setting her gloves in a plastic bag. “It’s a school night after all.”

“Will do!” Ocellus started to take her lab attire off.

The morning couldn’t come soon enough.

Ocellus combed her translucent mane. As she looked in the mirror, she noticed her smile- her Pinkie Pie smile, she termed- was showing. Her Pinkie Pie smile was only when she was in Professor Pie’s classroom. No matter what, the Professor always found a way to make you blow air out of your lungs. Or laugh, as the ponies called it.

This was a special day though. She could hardly wait to join Principal Sparkle in the woodshop downstairs. First, she had to worry about routine. First thing came first- first sustenance time in fact.

First sustenance time, or as the ponies called it, ‘Breakfast’ was going to be in a couple minutes. She found it interesting how ponies usually only ate three times a day. For a changeling, or at least a changedling, the hive was full of love. Her friends found it shocking that she was practically eating all the time. For some strange reason, they called it ‘snacking’.

She could tell her friends were envious of her ability to ‘snack’ all the time. She could taste it. Envy. Kinda cold, but had a kick to it, like the time they convinced her to try horseradish.

She finished up getting ready and skipped out of her dorm room and bounded down the stairs.

As she approached, she heard a familiar voice. A grumpy voice.

“Where is that Changeling?” Gallus growled.

Ocellus found it funny how grumpy he could be sometimes. Pinkie Pie’s record (don’t ask) to make Gallus laugh was two seconds. His grumpy attitude was only surface level, as Professor Applejack put it. He was probably just stressed since he wanted to get some last-minute studying done before their first period.

As soon as she came to the bottom of the stairs, Gallus made eye contact with her. “Ocellus! I have a bone to pick with you!”

She recognized that ‘figure of speech’. But, she ‘figured’ it wouldn’t do any harm to tease. “What bone are you picking?”

“Enough funny business!” Gallus pointed a claw at her. He rummaged through his saddlebags and took out a book. Only, the book had a huge bite mark out of it. “I know Principal Twilight said to digest a good book, but this is ridiculous!”

Ocellus’s mouth hung open. “I- uh- I didn’t eat your book.”

“Yes you did!” Gallus said. “You snuck into my room this morning a took a big bite!”

“I was getting ready in my room.” Ocellus said. “You must have me mistaken with another pony.”

“You expect me to believe you have an evil twin?!” Gallus shouted. “Do I look stupid to you?! You’re the only Changeling in the entire school and so far-”

“Help! Friend Gallus!” Yona cried as she charged down the hallway. “Ocellus stole Yona’s jewel-“

Once Yona made eye contact with Ocellus, she snorted. “Give Yona back necklace, Ocellus!” She pounded her hoof against the ground.

The sudden shake caused Ocellus to lose her balance and fall towards the ground.

“So, resorting to stealing, huh?” Gallus towered over her. “I’ve been tempted to snatch a few trinkets here and there, but stealing Yona’s necklace?”

“There has to be a misunderstanding.” Ocellus reasoned.

“Lying too?” Gallus groaned. “Didn’t you learn anything from Professor Applejack?”

“Ocellus!” Silverstream glided down from the ceiling and landed in between her and Yona. Gallus stood by her side. “Give me back my transformation jewel! I need for swim practice today!”

“Wow, you’re very productive, Ocellus.” Gallus rubbed a claw against his book. “Worse thing is, I didn’t see it coming.”

Ocellus could taste the anger. It saturated the air. She covered her head with her hooves and curled up in fetal position. As she thought of herself as a rock, her form shifted to a boulder in response.

Sandbar quickly trotted towards them. “What’s going on, guys?”

“Ocellus stole Yona’s Necklace!” Yona stomped her hooves again.

“And my transformation jewel.” Silverstream add.

“Uh, eh-ehm!” Gallus presented the book with a bite out of it.

Sandbar spun to Ocellus, who was now trembling on the floor. She could transform into small things, but what would that do. Right now, she wanted to disappear.

Suddenly, a scream was heard down the hallway.

Sandbar spun in the direction of the noise “Smolder! It sounds like she's in trouble!”

"What about Ocellus?" Yona grumbled.

"Smolder doesn't usually scream." Silverstream said. "She's tough. She doesn't cry for help unless she really needs it."

"Ugh, I guess we can help her..." Gallus glared at Ocellus. “We will resolve this later.”

“Ocellus! Stop eating my stash! Stop!” Smolder screamed.

Gallus traded looks with Ocellus, and then her copy in the other room. “What the hay is happening?”

“You’ve been sticking around Professor Applejack too long Gallus.” Sandbar noted. “You used her swear word.”

“I don’t blame Gallus though.” Silverstream copied Gallus as she traded looks between the two different Ocellus-es. “Either that I’m having a really weird dream or there are two Ocellus-es.”

“Yona wanna see!” Yona wanna see!” The yak bobbed her head up and down.

Sandbar cleared his throat and slid Gallus and Silverstream out of the way.

“Thanks friend Sandbar!” Yona smiled.

Suddenly, Smolder ran out of her room. “Oh, Yona! Thank goodness you are here! Can you tell Ocellus to stop-” Smolder stared wide-eyed at Ocellus. She looked back in her room.

As the students stared into Smolder’s room, Pseudo-Ocellus wolfed down a bag of gemstones. Pseudo Ocellus noticed them hiding behind the doorframe and flashed a smile made up of razor-sharp gemstones.

All of them screamed. Yona slammed the door shut and pressed her back up to it.

Smolder pointed a claw at her room. She face-clawed. “Great, that is an image that I don’t want in my head.”

“Join the club.” Gallus grumbled. "I think I'm getting a hairball right about now."

“Okay, Ocellus, can you explain why there is two of you?” Smolder propped her claws against her hips.

Ocellus finished up. “I had no idea that working on my molted shell could cause it to be alive.”

Silverstream’s ears drooped. “I bet I owe you an apology, Ocellus.”

“It’s my fault anyways.” Ocellus whimpered. “I should’ve known better than to keep my molted shell.”

“Ocellus shouldn’t blame Ocellus.” Yona said. “Ocellus is good friend still, Yona just worried about necklace. Yona had it since little yak.”

Gallus propped his half-eaten book up. He pointed to the door to Smolder’s dorm. “We still have a problem though. We can’t have Pseudo Ocellus run amok.”

“I agree. That would almost as horrible as the time Principal Twilight instructed me to vomit in a huge jar.” Smolder whispered.

Sandbar overhead. “Yeah, I remember that. Didn’t she present that in biology class the week after?”

“That was gross.” Gallus cut in. “Not to mention how dangerous it was. The acidity-”

“Wait!” Ocellus said. “You mentioned Twilight had you puke in a jar?”

“Do I really have to say it again? I had a flu.” Smolder huffed. “Something about a virus that feeds off of gemstones. Besides, I really shouldn’t have given her permi-”

“Quick!” Ocellus said. “How did you get better? What did you take?”

“Why the odd fascination, Ocellus?” Gallus asked as he covered his mouth. He was turning green.

“This might stop Fake Ocellus from eating more of your gems!” Ocellus reasoned. “What did you use?”

“Professor Fluttershy has a stash of stomach flu medicine for lizards.” Smolder rolled her eyes. “Go figure.”

“We need to get it!”

“Wait, Ocellus, why do we need to?” Sandbar asked.

“I’m not hijacking medication from Professor Fluttershy!” Gallus waved his claws in the air. His tail flicked. “I can be mean at times, but I will not steal from Professor Fluttershy!”

"It might be our only chance! I think that the microbes in Smolder's Vomit reacted with the molt!"

"That would explain the appetite of Pseudo Ocellus." Smolder said. "I had to eat gemstones to ease my stomach ache."

Principal Twillight came rushing up. “Oh thank goodness, Ocellus. I found you. I need you to get back to the shop. It's an emergency.”

“Let me guess. Molt is missing?” Smolder asked.

Twilight’s mouth popped open. “How did you know that?”

Smolder pointed a claw at her room. “I think your experiment has a mind of it’s own.”

The door shook as the first pound from Pseudo Ocellus pushed against it. Yona kept it blocked. Pseudo Ocellus protested with a phlegmy growl.

Twilight's mouth hung open.

“Do we get extra credit for figuring out a potential solution to this fiasco?” Gallus interjected. “Particularly in Professor Rarity’s class? I need to boost my grade.”

Silverstream glared at Gallus.

"I mean, if it ain't too much trouble." He smiled nervously.

A barricade made of furniture surrounded the hallway around Smolder’s room.

“Okay, so Smolder, Silverstream, and Gallus are going to pour the medicine onto P-Ocellus.” Twilight said. “I’m getting tired to saying ‘Pseudo Ocellus’.”

Gallus, Silverstream, and Smolder nodded, each having a jar full of stomach medicine that had been crushed into powder. Thank goodness for Starlight’s inventive spell. Otherwise the powder would be hard to clean up.

“Yona, run out of the way of harm, Sandbar will help you if things go awry.” Twilight instructed.

“Good thing! Yona is getting tired!” Yona frowned. At this point, her face was matted with sweat.

“If that doesn’t work, Then we will resort to desperate measures.” Twilight held the blowtorch up, and nodded at Ocellus. “Everycreature ready?”

All of them nodded.

Yona released the door. Pseudo Ocellus came out, foaming at the mouth with pink liquid.

Gallus, Silverstream and Smolder emptied the contents of their jars on Pseudo Ocellus.

Pseudo Ocellus whipped around in confusion, tried to lick up the powder, but gagged and hacked once it reached her tongue.

“I feel your pain!” Smolder shouted from above. She showered the rest of its contents on the creature.

“It didn’t work.” Twilight observed. She pressed on the blowtorch, took up a match, struck it against the box and lit the blue flame.

Ocellus held the hatchet steady, the excess heat radiating the blade to an ember red. She was thankful that her exoskeleton was fireproof, otherwise she would be singed.

When it got to the point of red hot, Ocellus leapt into the air. Finally, Ocellus nailed the hatchet square in the back of her molt.

Pseudo Ocellus shrieked in pain. Ocellus held onto the hatchet blade and took another hack at it. And another one. And another one.

After half a dozen swings, Pseudo Ocellus finally fell to the ground. As it took its last breaths, it hacked out gemstones, a necklace, a couple pieces of paper, and another necklace.

“I’m not going to eat those.” Smolder said in disgust.

Yona took up her necklace and Silverstream took hers.

“Good, still intact.” Silverstream noted as she flicked the juice off of it. “I don’t care if it is covered in Smolder Goop! I’m just glad to have it back!” she chirped.

Gallus shook his head as he looked at the crumpled papers. “Looks like I will have to explain to the library that a zombie changeling ate the book.”

“Let me see that.” Twilight held out a hoof. She looked at the book and nodded. “Take that to my office. I have a copy of it on my bookshelf.”

“Why would you have Starswirlian Arcane Mechanics on your shelf?” Gallus asked.

"I take that as a sign that I should stop reading for a bit." Twilight chuckled. “Let’s just say when you accidentally make a P-Ocellus, then you’ve gone too far in Starswirlian theoretics.”

“Egghead.” Gallus joked. He balked as Silverstream glared at him again. “I mean- that's- that’s what Professor Dash said at least.”

Twilight frowned. She turned to the group and sighed. “Sorry, students. I better publish a paper about this experiment before anypony decides to repeat history. I will let your professors know why you are absent from classes. For now, you can have the rest of the day off. I apologize for any inconvenience.”

Ocellus's ears flopped. "Aww... I really wanted to know what Professor Rarity had on her pop quiz." she mumbled.

“Woohoo!” Gallus cheered, pumping a fist in the air.

Smolder snorted. Smoke came out from her nostrils. “Easy for you to say, I need to clean up the mess the P-Ocellus made.”

Ocellus smiled as she stood right by Smolder. “Then R Ocellus will help you clean P Ocellus’s mess.”

“Yona will help too!” She looked back at Sandbar. “Sandbar join too?”

Sandbar hopped next to Yona. “I will. I'm invited, after all.”

Silverstream cheered. “Oh boy! A cleaning party! I’ve been wanting to clean up Smolder’s room for ages!”

“Heeyyyy.” Smolder folded her arms.

Silverstream smiled and winked.

Gallus huffed. “Oh well, I guess since I can’t do homework, then I can help.”

Twilight chuckled. “Well then, I’ll leave you to it.” She said. “I gotta write a report on this and send it to Canterlot ASAP.”

“Principal?” Ocellus just remembered.

She turned to walk away, but her ears perked up. “Yes, Ocellus?”

“Do you want the armor?” Ocellus offered. “It finally broke!”

“I don't think so. That'll be enough experimenting with Changedling molts for a long while!” Twilight's mouth twisted. She shivered. “Besides, I don’t want to use it after what happened.”

"Agreed." Ocellus thwacked her molt one last time with the hatchet, lodging it into the crumpled pile.

Silverstream's eyes widened. She covered her mouth.

Gallus stepped away from Ocellus. "Remind me not to get on your bad side."

"Yeah, I don't know how I feel about Ocellus with the hatchet." Sandbar added.

"Isn't this what dentists do?"Ocellus pulled the hatchet out and hid it behind her back.

"What?" Gallus asked with a raised eyebrow

"Long story." Twilight turned around before anypony could say anything else. “You know what? I’ll help. It’s my fault anyway. Report can wait.”

“Whew! Glad that’s over!” Ocellus said, tossing the last of the molt into the dumpster.

She gazed at her friends who were covered in ‘smolder goop’ as it was so fondly termed.

“What next?” Silverstream asked. “Anycreature want to go for a swim?”

“No thank you! I need to take a shower.” Smolder wiped a the slime off her forearms she flicked it into the dumpster.

“Ditto.” Sandbar said. “No questions asked.”

“Question!” Ocellus jumped. She just remembered something from the day before.

Sandbar shifted from hoof to hoof, inching away from Ocellus. "Uh, can it wait, Ocellus?"

Ocellus shook her head. “Can you tell me what a tooth fairy is?”
« Prev   2   Next »
#1 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question >>PinoyPony
Your title is a little too glib, I think. I get it; it's amusingly meta, but it also side-steps a very important ethical issue that this story never once deals with: Is Pseudo-Ocellus alive? And if so, is it right to kill her the way that they do?

And if the story's title gives away that the answer is no, then that's a very weak means of addressing that question in your story.

Narratively, I thought that matters in the second half were confusing, difficult to follow. It may just be me, but the nature of the problem, and the solution to it, didn't make a great deal of sense. I understand that Smolder's vomit, gemstones, and flu medication were all somehow involved, but I really don't know how those elements come together to form a logical whole. There are other logical questions as well; there doesn't seem to be any pattern to what P.O. consumes. I understand why she's so gluttonous; Ocellus's constant appetite foreshadows that subtly, but I don't understand why she eats what she eats.

Beyond that, the choice to make Rarity the POV character in the first scene doesn't pay off. Rarity vanishes from the story after that scene, never to be seen again, and we shift over to Ocellus immediately for the real action of the piece. Rarity, herself, is awkwardly voiced from the get-go, with her use of the word "dangit" sounding delightfully Applejackean, and overall, isn't adding much to the piece... beyond having a vessel for the character to inhabit so that Twilight and Starlight can deliver exposition about Ocellus's molt.

You made me smile a few times with some of your dialogue and interactions, but the overall piece doesn't come together and do it for me, I'm sorry.
#2 · 1
· · >>PinoyPony
This has some really cute voicing that works well with the low-level moment-to-moment narration. The whole effect does a good job of imitating the tone of a show episode, so if that's what you were going for, then good stuff!

Personally though, I'll have to note that I'm having some issues with pacing and structure here. Let's take a look at that first scene in particular. Out of this story's 4.6 thousand words, this first scene alone takes up 2.2 thousand. That's essentially half of your word count, but in the end this scene really ends up being relatively unimportant. The major things that it establishes (Rarity's POV, plot point about making armor, Twilight and Rarity's presence) are all dropped by the second scene, with the only carry-overs being Ocellus and her molt.

This is a problem, because by the time we're halfway through the story, we'd expect to have a good idea of what the story is about. I'm expecting maybe a science-y piece about getting the armor to work, with Rarity providing a support POV to Twilight and Ocellus's arc. Instead, the real conflict that gets resolved at the end is actually Ocellus's molt taking a life of its own, which doesn't actually get explicitly detailed until about the end of the third scene, when we're 3.1 thousand words deep. By that point, you've spent nearly three times as much word count introducing the problem compared to the word count spent developing and resolving the problem. At this point, it's very difficult to make the conclusion not seem rushed.

So I think my suggestion would be to either really cut down on the first two scenes, or to find a way to significantly expand on the remaining areas. The simplest formula to follow is the three act structure (which 90% percent of modern films follow), where about 1/3 of your reader's time and attention is spent introducing the characters and conflict, about 1/3 is spent developing the conflict and working towards a resolution, and about 1/3 is spent dealing with a twist (if that's what your story wants to do) and resolving the central conflict. This doesn't have to be the approach you take, but personally it's one that works well for me in Short Story events.

I hope that's helpful! Thank you for entering!
#3 · 1
· · >>PinoyPony
I agree with >>Posh that switching from Rarity to Ocellus is a mistake, especially since you also show us Starlight's personal thoughts between the two. It seems like the primary reason you do this is so you can have a surprising reveal at the beginning of the story, but there are other approaches you could take that don't necessitate glomming onto Rarity's headspace. Maybe have the same character who sees the reveal also help to defeat the Pseudocellus (which is totes what Twilight would call it) so we can stay consistently with a character who can appreciate the payoff. Here you're toggling between perspectives and it doesn't help the story.

However, I don't agree that there's anything wrong with the title, nor do I think it's intended to be meta. It just sounds like a response to the title of the picture that inspired the story. In FiM they've murdered potentially sapient magic beings before, so an exoskeletal golem doesn't seem like a big ethical quandary to me if you're not focusing on that aspect of it (though it's fun to do that for drama).

Starlight said, thinking to herself.

Totally confused here. Did she say it, or did she think it to herself? Context suggests she said it out loud. Choose one. "You may also want to use formatting to separate the two," said Trixie. Gosh I hope I'm not offending the author with my comments. I'm always so bad at this. I have no right to criticize anypony here. What's wrong with me? Why am I such a bad person who needs to die? Forgive me I'm sorry I'm not crazy I'm not crazy. Thank goodness nopony can hear my thoughts. Whew, she thought, badpersonbadpersonbadperson.


Gallus, Silverstream and Smolder emptied the contents of their jars on Pseudo Ocellus.

You have an issue with microparagraphing. This is a problem I have in my writing, and you have it a little worse than I do. During dialogue it's okay to have a single paragraph be a sentence, but normally you want to combine sentences into larger thoughts than this unless you have something super-important to isolate. You need to push yourself to make your paragraphs larger. For this paragraph in particular, it really stands out because it's in the middle of an action sequence and you just hoof-wave over all the action with a single sentence paragraph that says "this stuff happened". But there are other less severe examples throughout.

"I take that as a sign that I should stop reading for a bit."

Not sure if Twi would say this, especially since the crime in question is she just has a book in her office? I'm not sure why having that particular book is a bad thing.

The payoff is very flat because we already knew Ocellus was going to ask Sandbar that. Make it a surprise.
#4 · 2
· · >>PinoyPony
As Bachiavellian said, this gets that whole 'episode of the show' feel down nicely. The story is fun, the characters are mostly in character...

My biggest problems with the piece have actually been brought up already. First off, while her scene is nice, Rarity being POV at the beginning makes little sense given she not only doesn't return to POV but isn't really that important a character for the story as a whole.

I also think it's a bit odd how late the main conflict gets introduced. Pseudo-Ocellus should really be a thing a lot earlier. Also, you kind of gloss over whether or not P-Ocellus is actually alive, and the ethical quandaries that raises.

That aside, this is a fun little story, and could be pretty good with some cleaning up here and there.
#5 · 3
· · >>PinoyPony
It's been awhile since I've read a fanfic that could legitimately be a show episode. The character interactions, while a bit wooden at times, are really cute. You've got your characters dialed in!

The whole premise, while fascinating, is delivered in a lukewarm way. The drama of changeling melts coming to life doesn't feel like the main point of the story, partially on account of how the first scene with Rarity takes up half the total story (Bach's comment touches on that very well!). I would even say you could take out the beginning scene with Rarity, perhaps replacing it with a more streamlined exposition-y bit with Twilight and Ocellus (or any of the students working on the molt exoskeleton in the beginning). There's a ton of potential for that "freak out, then realize everything is okay" kind of bait and switch I think you're going for. Just keep looking for new angles and this story will come together really well.
#6 · 1
· · >>PinoyPony
I don't want to be a broken record, but I have to second the complaint that the opening scene being Rarity's POV, when the actual meat of the story is Ocellus and nothing refers back to Rarity, doesn't make a lot of sense.

The story is cute. The plot isn't particularly engaging but the characterization shines, and I'm definitely enjoying the banter between the Student Six. The idea that Ocellus is basically eating constantly is not one I'd seen before, although I'm not exactly reading every Changeling fic in existence so maybe it's fairly common, but it seems original to me. A revision of the earlier portion to remove the "Oh my Celestia they're killing Ocellus" joke (or at least not have it be from the POV of someone who thinks that is true) in order to have the whole thing in Ocellus' POV, and I think the story would be greatly improved.
#7 · 2
First off, I just want to congratulate the winners, thebandbrony, alarajrogers, and wishcometrue! This concludes a great competition at the end of Gen 4!

Now, onto retrospect:


To address the elephant in the room, yes, I now look back at the ethical quandary of the piece. Some of my excuses can begin at ‘but it’s spooky season!’ or even as far thought out as This is not the first time extreme violence sneaks into my writing. But, it’s about time that I throw away excuses and learn from this mistake, instead of running from it for months at a time.

In fact, once you brought this fact up, I was half tempted to contact Roger and DQ myself. What stopped me is what happened to TQ. I figured that I don’t want to repeat the same action, so I stayed until the curtains dropped and revealed who it was (and judging by how many were able to guess it was me, I figure everypony knew who it was). I’m ashamed of the fact that my experiment of throwing out a moral and going for action and humor would result in a monstrosity.

That elephant aside, I want to thank you for giving me the first pointers, I realize that the lack of description of what caused P Ocellus to come alive in the first place is a blunder. I’m still trying to gauge what can be inferred in a story and what cannot. Plus, the whole deal with Rarity was a waste of words. Plus, I can’t nail her voice well either.

“Me think, why waste time say lot word, when few word do trick?” [Kevin Malone, Year Unknown] (I won’t apply that to this retrospect though. I need to be thorough.)

I would cut the review off here, but I also got more reviewers to thank. But all in all, thanks for reviewing!


This is going to be a very messy review. Lots of stuff repeated. (That’s not a bad thing, just hard to reply to).

As for the stuff that Posh didn’t touch on, I do agree with you on the fact that I could’ve taken a science-y route and avoided the ethical mishap in the first place. My only problem is that where there isn’t a whole lot going on, the piece takes shape of a college paper instead of a story. That’s what I was trying to avoid. But, as always, I take joy from learning from my mistakes.

As for the one-third each formula, I think I will keep that in mind. Since I’m still a novice writer, I’d best be sticking to the formula.


I’m glad that at least one person sees that the ethical quandary was an honest mistake. That wasn’t the intention of the story.

Originally, Starlight was going to be the POV of the first scene, so there is still some writing I failed to clean up. As for the thought you had, that entire paragraph, If it was a joke, then ignore me, but if you truly feel that way, I just want to let you know that any review or critique is welcome. As I always say, I’m doing this to learn! It’s better to speak your mind in a critique than hold your tongue.

As for Microparagraphing, if I got the point right, dialogue is okay, action isn’t. Is it whenever I get a small paragraph with action, should I expand it? Or was it delete? Eh, I believe it was both!

That last part with Twilight was supposed to be a joke. The fact of the matter is that the students were studying, in theory, of how things can become sentient through unorthodox magic. Little tidbit, if you will, but detail I excluded.


Don’t worry if you are piggy-backing on other reviews and critiques- too often that the words get stolen right out of our mouths in the Writeoff. If anything, I doubt I’m the only one that appreciates an abundance of them. I’m also gonna sound like a broken record, but repetition is the key to learning. That, and also, I know for sure that the mistakes and rough edges are something that a lot of people notice, and not just one. I know for sure what to change and what not to change.

[Final Verdict]

When it came down to it, I had fun writing this. It soured when it was brought to my attention: HUGE ETHICAL QUANDARY HERE. It’s my own fault. I will do my best to kick the monstrosity in my writing back down to Tartarus from whence it came.

‘Til another Writeoff! (And sooner than you think!)