“It’s too bad she won’t live.” Twilight said as she walked back into the damp streets. “But then again, who does?”
Those words were probably meant to be disarming, but Rainbow Dash found herself glaring furiously at her friend. Her anger quelled slightly; at least Twilight left her alone.
Rainbow Dash closed the door to her home. She found herself clenching her hooves, ready to fly outside and strike at the sardonic words that floated in her ears. It was probably a twisted joke of royalty she learned from being Princess Celestia’s pupil. If there was anypony to make fun of the briefness of life, it was the Princess. Rainbow Dash didn’t expect Twilight to use such a joke. Perhaps she was trying to console Rainbow Dash with her cold, philosophic approach.
Everypony dies. Sometimes Death waited for decades, maybe even a century. But sometimes Death took only four years. It was a fact of life, and trying to go against those concepts would leave the pony either insane, cursed with powerful gifts that slowly fed off their own soul, or would be retired, as Twilight Sparkle called it.
Retirement. It was a fancily-clothed word for death. It was unfair, but it was their job as the Elements of Harmony. Anything that contributed to discord would have to be eradicated, even if it was another living, breathing, pony-like being.
Rainbow Dash looked at the unicorn sitting on her couch. Her hair was brushed to one side, revealing the unchanging, almost glistening eyes of blue.
“You don’t have to keep changing, you know.” Rainbow said with a weak smile.
A cylinder of green fire suddenly engulfed the unicorn. She remained in her relaxed, robotic position, as if unaware of the fires that scorched her neatly combed mane.
The blue eyes grew larger. The horn had holes in it. Insect-like wings sprouted on her back. Her once clean coat bore the colors of a dark, ashen black. But the same pained face remained.
“Isn’t your friend going to…”
“She— Twilight let you go. Seeing as though you helped me— er, us, I think that was her way of thanks.” Rainbow said.
Rainbow Dash looked down at her rain-soaked hooves.
“How long do-“
“One week.” The changeling’s tone was strong. It was a false strength, as her eyes winced furiously, sickened at the sound of her own voice.
Rainbow Dash narrowed her gaze.
“Twilight said that you had four years to live.”
“How long do you think it took to learn your customs, your language, your-“
“I get it.” Rainbow Dash said sharply.
The changeling looked down in remorse, as if she had insulted Rainbow Dash.
“I’m sorry.” Rainbow said.
“Isn’t there… Is there some way you can get around that?” Rainbow Dash asked. She was growing desperate; it was the same question she asked the changeling for so long.
“You know the answer.” She said coldly.
Love. The changeling needed love to survive. The changeling would become a parasite, feeding off the pony until its head was soaked in a false sensation of elation and joy. When the host entered such a motionless state, the changeling would leave, and let the host’s body be slowly eaten away by the lack of love in its heart. One pony’s love could feed a changeling four years. Rainbow Dash knew what happened after those four years.
They feed, or they die. Twilight’s voice rang in Rainbow’s head.
Rainbow Dash turned away and peaked her head out the windows, hiding her bitter tears by letting her head soak in the cold rain. The sound of raindrops collecting in puddles below muffled her cries.
“It’s still raining. When it lets up, you can go.” She commented as she turned back to the changeling. “There anything you need?”
The changeling looked up and tried to smile. Instead, it was a twisted combination of teary eyes and a gentile, nihilistic grin.
“I want more life, friend.”
A heartbreaking, great story. You really make us feel for this poor Changeling, and for Dash and the work she must do. The last line in particular is poignant and hits hard.