Now You Need Us

by RadiantBeam

Chapter 2: Chasing the Rabbit

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“If any of my lessons stick with you throughout your life, Sunset Shimmer, let it be this one: a true threat will make itself known three times. The first time, it’ll seem like an accident.

The first victim hadn’t even been noticed until a day or two after the supposed attack. She’d been an older woman, with few friends and no family to speak of. By the time any of her coworkers had realized she hadn’t reported in for work, it had been several days. The authorities had been alerted, and after breaking down her door they’d found her in her living room, laid out almost tenderly on her couch. By all accounts, she’d simply been in a deep slumber.

She hadn’t woken up yet. The discovery had been considered odd, but other than a brief announcement on television, no one had paid it any mind.

“The second time, it’ll seem like a coincidence.”

The second victim had gained a bit more attention. That one had happened only days after the Battle of the Bands and the defeat of the sirens, another girl. She was younger, a student of Canterlot High, and she was fairly popular. Her parents had noticed immediately when she didn’t come home, and she was found within hours a short distance from the outdoor auditorium. Like the older woman, she appeared to simply be in a deep sleep; there were no wounds or threats to her health.

Like the older woman, she didn’t wake up.

“The third time, you’ll realize there’s a pattern. And that is when something must be done.”

Sunset stared down at the newspaper in her hands. She wasn’t even reading the story on it; she’d already looked at it when Rarity had burst into the band practice room and had shoved it at the group. She knew what she would find if she looked. A third victim, this one a young man and another student of Canterlot High, found in Everfree Park. He was, like the other two, in a deep sleep. His chances of waking up seemed poor.

And so we have a pattern, the girl thought, and resisted the urge to sigh. It seemed there wasn’t going to be any peace around the school, at this rate.

“I’m not saying it’s the Dazzlings, of course.” Rarity had been wringing her hands together for the last few minutes as the paper was passed around the group, and every girl read the story. “But… could it be? The timing is quite soon after the Battle of the Bands. It’s only been a few weeks.”

“A decent theory, but Ah doubt it.” Applejack set aside the newspaper. “We destroyed their gems. Twilight said they’d be normal human girls.”

“More to the point, this doesn’t match their style.” Sunset picked up the paper again, mostly to have something to do. “When they were in the school, they were feeding off of the negative energy they generated. They put on a show. They didn’t just… drain magic from their victims and leave them in a deep sleep.”

“Definitely isn’t flashy enough to be them, either,” Rainbow muttered. Sunset found she couldn’t argue with that logic. Whatever else they were or had been, the sirens had certainly had a flair for the dramatic. Draining victims and leaving the bodies to be found, vanishing without a trace, wasn’t something they seemed capable of.

The girls were silent for a moment as they all thought this over, the silence only broken by the gentle squeak of Pinkie bouncing on her heels; apparently, she just wasn’t capable of being quiet in any capacity. After a moment, she raised her hand.

Amused despite everything, Sunset smiled. “Yeah, Pinkie?”

“Sooooooooooo…. we don’t think it’s the sirens,” Pinkie said, ticking off with her fingers as she spoke. “And I’m like, pretty sure whoever’s doing this isn’t you either, Sunset, ‘cause like yeah, you became a raging she-demon and enslaved the whole school by turning everyone into zombies, but I think we woulda noticed if you also drained everyone’s magic and made them go into a super deep sleep at the same time.”

Sunset rolled her shoulders. “I can Pinkie Promise that it isn’t me.”

“Excellent! So here’s my question. Who is it?”

The silence that followed the question was very long and very thick. After a moment, all eyes turned to Sunset. “What?” she asked.

“Well…” Rarity coughed. “No offense, darling, but you are from Equestria, so you’d be our expert on all things magical.”

The pony turned human grimaced. “I know it’s magical, I’m not even going to deny that,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean I know who—or what—is doing it. I don’t have enough data to even try to guess, and Equestria…” She trailed off for a moment, shaking her head. “Equestria has a lot of nasty magical creatures that would be capable of something like this. If you wanted me to guess right now, I’d have to make a list.”

Everyone kind of just stared at her after that.

“… Equestria kinda sounds like it sucks,” Rainbow said.

A part of Sunset wanted to argue that they didn’t even know yet if this new threat originated from Equestria but, well. Two times was a coincidence, three times was a pattern. If she and the sirens had come from Equestria and had caused magical mayhem, then the new person running around draining people of magic had to also be from Equestria.

It was that simple. Unfortunately, it still didn’t narrow down exactly what the creature was.

“There wouldn’t happen to be details on the attacker, would there?” she asked. “Someone who saw something, maybe?” It was small, but she could hope.

“Nope.” Applejack drummed her fingers against the piano that had been stored in the band practice room. “No description of an attacker. And unfortunately, it’s not like any of th’ victims can talk about it.”

Well, so much for hoping.

“We could ask Twilight,” Fluttershy offered before the moment got a little too despairing. “She could look into things on her end, right? I’m sure she could do a good job of figuring out what this creature is.”

“Before she can do that, she’d need to know more about it,” Sunset sighed. “Like I said, there are a lot of creatures in Equestria that can drain magic. It’s just too general—Rainbow you’re smiling. I don’t like that smile. Why are you smiling?”

To call it a smile was, to be honest, an understatement. Rainbow was grinning, something large and eager and mischievous, and Sunset found she didn’t like it one bit. Judging by the nervous looks the other girls shared, they didn’t like it either.

Except for Pinkie, who immediately saw her chance and pounced on it. “Oh, oh! I know that smile! I know why she’s smiling! I know what it means!”

“Ah don’t wanna know wha’ it means,” Applejack muttered, but it was too late.

“Well duh! Obviously if the problem is that what we know right now is more general, we have to find a way to get more specific information!” Rainbow pounded her fist against her open palm. “Which means we have to go out and find this thing and observe it!”

“… Oh. That wasn’t what I was expecting,” Fluttershy murmured.

Rainbow blinked. “What were you expecting?”

“Well, Rainbow, it’s just…” Rarity trailed off, then seemed to accept that there was no nice way of saying what she was thinking. “The last time a magical threat made itself known, you wanted to immediately punch it in the face.”

“Hey! I still wanna punch whatever this is in the face, don’t get me wrong.” Rainbow shrugged, crossing her arms over her chest. “But I’m not stupid, either. We only even got an idea of how to beat the Dazzlings ‘cause we observed them first. This thing seems even nastier than them, so I’m totally willing to wait on the face punching until we know what we’re dealing with.”

“Then we have our plan.” Heartened by the fact that they had something, at least, Sunset examined the story that ran in the paper. Sure, no one had seen anything, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t any clue at all of what this creature was or how to find it.

How to find it…

She smirked. “Got it.”

“Got what? Got what?” Pinkie rested her hands on Sunset’s shoulders, making the redhead jump slightly as she peered over her at the paper. When had the other girl even gotten behind her during this conversation? Sunset didn’t remember her moving at all.

“Look.” Sunset adjusted the paper as the girls crowded around her. “The last victim was found right in Everfree Park. The second victim was near the outdoor auditorium, which…”

“Is in another area of the park,” Applejack breathed, realizing what her friend was saying.

Sunset hummed. “Mmm-hmmm. And the first victim… she’s a little trickier, but I remember her apartment was in the complex close to the park.”

“A hunting ground,” Fluttershy realized. “You think Everfree Park is its territory? It would make sense. A predator always stakes out a specific area for hunting.”

“Either its territory or it’s a preferred spot. Either way, it’s a place to start looking, at least.” Sunset folded up the paper and tucked it into her jacket. “The real problem is going to be finding it. All of its victims were alone when it attacked. If we travel in a group, it probably won’t try to approach us.”

“Well that’s easy,” Pinkie said. “All we gotta do is have one of us walking around the park while the rest of us follow!”

The girls stared at her.

“From a distance, obviously! If we’re gonna sneak around, we don’t want the scary magical creature to know that we’re there, right?”

“Tha’ is a horrible plan,” Applejack growled, adjusting her hat as if the mere suggestion had somehow mortally offended her. “There ain’ no way in hell any o’ us are gonna—“

“I’ll do it,” Sunset said.

“… Dammit, Sunset!”

“I agree with Applejack,” Rarity cut in before the former Equestrian could respond. “Not that I’d say Pinkie’s idea is a bad one, but you just said so yourself that whatever this creature is, it’s nasty. I don’t think it’s safe for any of us to lure this out.”

“Do you have a better idea?” Sunset asked, as kindly as she could word the question.

“… Well….”

“I’m being serious. If any of you have a better idea, I’d love to hear it.” Sunset glanced around. Despite the uncomfortable shifting and a few exchanged looks—even Pinkie looked unhappy with how this was progressing, and it had been her idea in the first place—no one said anything.

“It was just an idea,” Pinkie muttered, twirling a strand of hair around her finger. “I didn’t think you’d actually, you know. Agree with it.”

“Unfortunately, it’s our best option. This thing only hunts individuals, and me... well, I’m from Equestria and I was trained by one of my world’s princesses. If anyone could actually face it and not end up drained, it would be me.” She paused. “No offense.”

A quiet chorus of “None taken” answered her. For a moment there was nothing but silence, as her friends chewed over their own individual thoughts.

“Ah don’t like it,” Applejack said at last.

“None of us like it,” Fluttershy said, her face miserable. From the way she looked, Sunset might as well have just offered her life.

“I know.” Sunset smiled, and tried to make it as reassuring as possible. “But come on. You guys will be right behind me, won’t you?”

“Of course we will!” Rainbow, loyal to a fault, was the first to answer. “That isn’t even a question!”

“Then it’ll be fine, right? I just have to be able to observe it. It’s not like I’m going to try and fight it. And if anything starts to go wrong, you’ll all be there to help.”

The girls seemed to mull that over, and for the most part they seemed satisfied with the logic; Pinkie was perking back up again, and while Applejack didn’t look happy, she seemed to have settled down, even as she grimaced. “Fine. Sounds like we’ve got our plan.”

“Then it’s settled. We’ll go to the park once school lets out.”

Of course, the plan ended up being delayed by several hours once the girls realized one thing that they hadn’t thought of during their brainstorming session: whatever this thing was, it preferred to attack at night. While that made Applejack even unhappier as a result, Sunset had to admit that going out in the darker hours had some advantages.

(They’d also been delayed by the last second decision to bring along their instruments, just in case. It was better safe than sorry when a magical creature was on the loose.)

For one thing, considering the time of night, the park was deserted. She was pretty sure this wouldn’t come to a fight—this was all just something they were doing to even observe the creature—but it was comforting to know that if things did go south, no one would end up caught in the crossfire.

The magic of friendship was all well and good, but it had a wide range and it didn’t tend to discriminate on who got in its way.

The fact that the park was empty in the middle of the night was good, and Sunset ignored the chill creeping down her spine that told her otherwise, shoving her hands deeper into her pockets as she walked. It wasn’t even like she was alone; the girls were nearby, hidden among the trees.

She’d volunteered for this, for God’s sake.

So why did she feel so nervous?

Maybe it was because despite the fact that she knew she wasn’t alone, Sunset still felt very alone as she made her way down the path. Maybe it was because the fact that she knew in theory that Celestia’s teachings would have given her some mental resistance to magic didn’t mean it would actually work in practice.

Maybe it was because despite the fact that she knew Twilight was still in Equestria, she was hearing a giggle that sounded exactly like her voice.

Sunset’s eyes, which until now had been roaming about the park, snapped up and focused on the source of that giggle. Her ears had to be lying to her; they had to be. She’d been exchanging letters with Twilight now for weeks, and the princess hadn’t given any indication of returning to the human world.


Why was she standing just a short way down the path, bathed in the light of a street lamp?

“… Twilight?” Sunset croaked, staring.

And once she started staring, to her horror, she found she couldn’t look away.

“Twilight?” Pinkie hissed. “Did she say Twilight? As in Twilight Sparkle? As in our friend who’s a princess from another world? That Twilight Sparkle?”

“Ah have no clue who she’s seein’,” Applejack breathed, “but Ah mus’ not be seein’ the same thing, ‘cause I’m not seein’ Twilight.”

“Oh, but she’s gorgeous,” Rarity gushed, leaning as far into the bush as she dared to get a better look. “The perfect vision of beauty, truly flawless! How could she possibly be evil?”

Rainbow, for her part, was too busy frantically rubbing her eyes to even contribute to the chatter that was going on around her. It was almost like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Fluttershy simply stared for a moment, before she swallowed hard.

“So, girls,” she whispered. “We all agree that we aren’t seeing the same person, right?”

There was a moment before all of the girls nodded.

“Then… I think we might have found the magical creature.”

There was another moment as this sank in. As one, all eyes turned back to the scene that was unfolding in front of them: Sunset Shimmer, completely frozen in place and staring, as someone—or, more accurately, something—advanced on her. Judging from the panicked look on their friend’s face, while she realized that what was going on wasn’t right, she wasn’t capable of doing anything about it herself.

What happened next happened so fast that they might have all missed it, if Rainbow hadn’t been right in the middle of the group. Completely forgetting about the guitar strapped to her back, the Canterlot High athlete scooped up the biggest rock she could find and threw it as hard as she could right at the creature.

It didn’t have quite the effect she’d hoped it would.

The rock was roughly the size of a fist, and Rainbow had a heck of a throwing arm. By most standards, the creature should have been on the ground clutching its head in agony after it solidly hit its temple.

Instead, it—she—turned slowly, without any visible discomfort, and looked right at them with eyes so cold her otherworldly beauty suddenly began to seem very unimportant.

The moment eye contact was broken, Sunset sprinted towards her friends. There was no other way to describe it; this wasn’t a graceful run. This was the panicked fleeing of a prey animal that had just been caught in the gaze of a predator, and as she stumbled into the safety of her friends she gasped for air as if the moment her eyes had locked with the girl’s, she’d stopped breathing.

The girl—because they could confirm now that she was female, judging by at least two statements—rolled her shoulders and absently rubbed her temple, glancing down and kicking the rock aside. “Well,” she said. “That was incredibly rude. This is why I hate hunting groups. Someone always figures me out and disrupts me at the last minute.”

And then she smiled, and with a chill they all realized she had fangs.

“But ah, well. I was starting to get bored with only hunting individuals, honestly.”

The air around her literally shimmered, like she was a mirage being glimpsed in the desert. There were perfectly logical reasons for why she only went after one person at a time, of course; it was less of a struggle, and as she’d said so herself, the fewer people who saw her, the less likely it was that someone would work out that she wasn’t of this world.

But the other reason?

Well. It turned out maintaining the illusion of someone a person cared about became impossible once several people were looking at her at once. Other than the shimmering of the air, nothing about her made the change obvious. One moment she was an attractive human woman, and then the next…

And then the next, the shimmering faded, and what was left standing in her place would be most accurately described as a demon. Still very beautiful if you were into that thing; her magic wouldn’t have worked entirely if she hadn’t at least somewhat looked the part. She was slender, and curved, and she had long, beautiful hair.

But her hands ended in claws instead of nails, and instead of feet she had cloven hooves. Her skin was the color of ash, her hair as white as snow. Black, bat-like wings unfurled threateningly from her back, and a long tail that resembled a horse’s flicked idly behind her. Her ears were large, like a bat’s, and pointed at the tips. Her eyes gleamed, dark and red like blood.

Her smile never faded.

“… Well, shit,” Rainbow said.

Author's Notes:

And here she is, the villain of our piece! As many of you guessed in the comments from chapter one, she is in fact a succubus. FIM'd all the way to heck and back, but a succubus nonetheless! You all get an internet cookie and anyone who has a writing request can hit up my inbox.

(Apologies as well for not replying to any comments as I usually do, I wanted to finish this chapter up and get it posted as soon as possible.)

Next chapter: the girls are very unhappy, and the Dazzlings make their appearance. Somehow, this just makes the girls unhappier.

Next Chapter: The Enemy of My Enemy Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 11 Minutes
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