** Facility footage- Sunday**
Shadow nudged the door open with her foot, setting down a pair of grey fluffies to join the others. Foxfire is both still heavily bandaged and clearly sedated, slowly trudging along after the human with Marnie leaning into her side. “Alright, kiddos. We have a rare moment when Shadow doesn’t have to do anything right now, and I’m feeling extra magnanimous. How do you guys feel about story time?”
There was a series of eager squeals, and one muted “huwway” Shadow pushed her long blue ponytail over her shoulder, and began running her finger along the small shelf of picture books. The only fluffy without wings or horn in the bunch hesitantly stepped forward, tapping at a high-topped ankle. “Mummah Shado’? Mayb’ cou’ wead da bunneh fwiend stowy mowe?”
“What bunny story was that Marnie? I don’t remember having… wait. The one I was reading outside the other day?” Shadow asked, glancing up with a startled expression. “I wasn’t really reading that to you so much as I was trying to drown out…Er, Mummah Shadow didn’t realize you were listening to that, Marnie, but…”
“Pwease? Wan heaw mowe wat habben tu Hazew an’ Fiba. An’ da west ub da bunneh-fwiend waw…wawwen. Wawwen wike-” Marnie shuffled her hooves on the foam padded floor, not looking at any of the other fluffies. “Wawwen wike owd hewd.”
“Huh. Not really what I would call fluffy appropriate literature, but on the other hand…” She pulled the thick paperback out of her hoodie pocket, considering it for a moment. “All the world will be your enemy, oh Prince with a thousand enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.” Marnie nodded almost solemnly at that, staring out the wide window for a moment before she curled against Foxfire’s bandaged side on the rug.
“Mummah? Wat cunnin’?” Rook asked, dragging a padded cushion over to the chair in the corner.
“It’s… being clever. Thinking of ways to get around a problem rather than deal with it head on. Its…meh. You’ll pick up on it in context or you won’t. There’s lots of big words in here, kiddos. Still want to hear the story?” In response, Rook plopped himself on the cushion at her feet, head tipped attentively towards her. Glory shuffled over as well, his own favorite TV watching pillow in his teeth. Even Aurora was nonchalantly arranged just at the edge of earshot. “Alright. Let’s do this right then.” She leaned back in the chair, her tone going breathy and mournful. “The house reeks of death and of dripping blood, said Cassandra. How so? ‘Tis but the odor of the altar sacrifice, recites the chorus. The stench is like a breath from the tomb, Cassandra answered. And that is the doom of cursed prophets. In another place, another time, the primroses had ended. Toward the edge of the wood where the ground became open and sloped down to an old fence and a brambly ditch beyond, only a few fading patches of pale yellow still showed among the dog’s mercury and oak-tree roots. On the other side of the fence, the upper part of the field was full of rabbit holes.” She continued her careful recitations from the first chapter, eyebrow raising higher as the fluffies surrounding her maintained the rapt expressions through the beginning of the story. “Alright, kids. Mummah Shadow needs coffee, and a leg stretch, and to get a little paperwork done. You want FluffTV on until I get back?”
“Yes. pwease, Mummah Shado’,” Glory and Marnie chimed in, Rook just watching her with his ears falling back. Shadow bounced up on her tiptoes, snagging the remote from it’s perch on top of the wall mounted TV before clicking over to the right streaming service. “Yay! Baww timeies!” The demonfluffs seemed just as intent on the giant, multicolored sphere traversing the screen as the earth fluffy sitting in their midst. Rook started to follow her as she left the room, pausing with his ears flicking, his head tipping to the side as if in deep thought.
Giant coffee mug in hand and a roll of papers in her hoodie pouch, Shadow made her way back to the playroom, opening the door to shrieking chaos. Glory was nearly in tears, his favorite set of blocks scattered over the heart shaped rug by the door and covered in a thick layer of liquid shit.
On the other side of the room, Marnie was planted almost defensively in front of Foxfire, who was laying on the exact same fluff bed she had when Shadow left, staring in deeply befuddled panic at the others. Aurora was leaning against Glory, her wing arched comfortingly over him as she glared at the grey fluffies. “Mummah Shado’, Mummah Shado’! Fo’fia made bad poopies aww oba Gwowy toysies!” she shrieked the moment Shadow shut the door behind her, her tone outright gleeful.
Shadow’s expression shot from baffled to suspicious in an instant. “Oh. Really? Glory, is that what happened?” As the ivory fluffed alicorn mantled his peacock eyed wings, struggling to speak at all through his snuffling outrage, she glanced around. Rook was standing at the outskirts of the situation, glancing between her and Aurora with something between smug complacency and glee.
“Gw-gwowy nu know, mummah Shado’. Was watchin’ Baww, an’ den Bwockies. Dat bestest sho’. Gwowy wub wen bwockies stack su high. Bu’ den Babbehs was on, an’ dat stupi’ siwwy sho’, su Gwowy was gun gu pway wit pwaywoom bwockies. Bu’ bwockies wewe nu in bas’kt, an’ den Gwowy seen Gwowy’s pwetty bwockies aww cobaw’d in poopies!” The last part of his ramble was a shrill wail, his hooves stamping against the foam mat in emotional excess. “An’ da pwetty rugsies, tu! Poopies, bad poopies eber’wewe! Da wowst ting ob awww da wowst possbw tings!”
“I’m not even sure if you’re a Spike level simp for Rarity or you just want to be her anymore, Glor,” Shadow chuckled softly, her eyes still flicking back to the different shades of glee Aurora and Rook wore. “So you didn’t see what happened?”
“Gwowy nu am mawe, nu wan be mawe! Uh, Gwowy sowwy. Nu mean tu yeww at Mummah Shado’,” he added swiftly, tucking back into himself as he watched her expression. “Gwowy nu see wat habben, bu’ Sissy Auwowa saw! Auwowa saids dat Fo’fia made bad poopies aww oba toysies.” He nodded firmly, hoof stamping again as he glanced between his sisters, before he tilted his head and peered up at the human. “Mummah Shado’? Wat’s a ‘Simp’?”
“I… Oh, fu-…. Remember how Spike acts whenever Rarity asks him to do something for her? That.” Glory subsided into that attempting to grasp new concept expression, and Shadow took the opportunity to turn her attention to the others. “Well, I’ve heard their sides to this. Foxfire, what happened?”
Foxfire was still blinking slowly up at the others, clearly trying to understand anything around her through the sedative haze. “Fo’fia nu knuw? ‘Memba wistenin’ to pwetty mummah stowy, den da Baww was on, an’ Fo’fia wen sweepies ‘gain. Den Auwowa an’ Gwowy was yewwin’ an maddies, an Fo’fia nu knuw why?”
“Fo’fia nu du nuttin! Mawnie nu see bwockies on wugsies, was watch’n Baww!, an’ Bwockies!, an’ Babbehs!.. Bu’ was wite next tu Fo’fia aww da time. Fo’fia nu weave comf’cush’n ow eben wakies! How Fo’fia ma’ poopies aww oba wugsies oba dewe wen oba hewe aww time?” Marnie snapped, stamping her own soft hooves against the foam. “Auwowa teww’n nu twu-” she noticed the sharp glare and bared fangs the larger fluffy was aiming at her, her outraged denunciation trailing off into a nervous squeak. “Auwowa nu see wite? Am mist-mistak’n mayb’?”
“That is an excellent point. The medicine Miss Katy gave Foxfire to stop the hurties from her wing and sore spots makes her very sleepy.” Shadow noted, that far too toothy smile making its way back onto her face. “And she is still on the same pillow cushion she was on when I turned the TV on. How did the poopies end up all the way over here, Aurora?”
The meaner the smile on Shadow’s face got, the brighter the glee on Rook’s face as he stared at his largest sister. “Uh… Fwuffy seen Fo’fia ma’ bad poopies aww oba Gwowy’s toysies. Den sissy gu back to sweepies oba dewe. Mawnie nu seen dat, ‘cause Mawnie was watch’n Fwuff teebee. Mawnie siwwy fwuffy. An’… an’…An’ Fo’fia bawy sn’sneaksie! Mawnie nu see dat… ow mayb’ Mawnie see, bu’ nu wan sowwy box wit Fo’fia!” the golden alicorn rambled on, as Shadow allowed herself a weary rub of her temples. “Auwowa awwmost nu see dat eida, bu’ fwuffy was wookin’ wite way at wite time. Now Mummah Shado’ can put sneaksies Fo’fia an’ da dummeh nummies Mawnie in da sowwy box fo’eba! Ow mayb’ wet Auwowa num dummeh wen Fo’fia gu tu sowwy-box?”
“Yeah. Sure. Very sneaky, I’m certain,” Shadow sighed, offering an increasingly panicky Marnie a softer smile over Aurora’s head. Marnie swallowed, mid half-sob, glancing over at the exceedingly smug Rook before her eyes widened and she rejoined Foxfire on the cushion. “So, Aurora. If that’s how it happened, why is there shi- poopies all over your tail and your hooves? And not a single speck on Foxfire.”
Glory had snapped out of his contemplative fugue by then, looking between his sisters with a startled, utterly baffled expression on his face, finally turning an increasingly betrayed look at Aurora. “Oh! Uh, Fwuffy twipped, an’… Fwuffy twipped on poopies! Was twying to stawp Fo’fia fwom wuinin’ Gwowy’s pwetty toysies, an’ twipped, go’ poopies aww oba hoofsies. And taiw. ‘Cause fwuffy feww on taiw in poopies. Auwowa’s poo’ pwetty tail, aww coba’d in poopies. Cause ob Fo’fia bad poopies,” Aurora babbled as fast as she could, amber eagle eyes going wide. Her expression eased a little as Glory steeped back, that betrayed look turned on Foxfire again as well.
But Shadow was still giving her that too tight, too toothy smile, and Aurora gave her the most earnest look she could. “Yeah. Sure, kiddo. Rook, sweetie? Anything you want to tell me?” Aurora started to fluff up her wings, giving her corvid winged brother the same intimidating snarl she had Marnie.
Rook made a very shrug like gesture with his wings half folded, strolling cheerfully over to Shadow’s feet with a bounce in his step. “Yes, Mummah. Auwowa made bad poopies aww oba wugsies and bwockies wen Fo’fia was sweepin’ and Gwowy was watch’n teebee Bwockies.” Aurora began drawing herself up, the silent snarl becoming a loud hiss as her wings spread. “Den Auwowa stawted yewwin’ at Fo’fia wen Gwowy tuwned ‘wound.” He glanced almost contemptuously at the larger demonfluff, that smug glee still on his face. “Bu’ Mummah nu nee’ Wook teww Mummah dat. Mummah hab camew- camwa- watchy teebee tings. In Mummah’s wowkywoom. Mummah can gu see twuuf an’ nu twuff wite dewe.” He rubbed his shoulder and wing edges over her black denim clad shins, his tail still swishing happily as he bared his own teeth at his sister. “Wook wub Mummah. An’ Fo’fia, an’ Gwowy.” She reached down at that, scratching around his ears until he uttered a purr-like “-coo-” and leaned into the hand blissfully.
“Dat nu nee’d,” Aurora suddenly yelled, frantically dashing around to Shadow’s other side. “Mummah Shado’ knuw Auwowa wou’ neba teww mummah Shadow nu- twuuf, wite? Fwuffy wub Mummah Shadow! Shado’ nu nee’ gu tu aww dat wowk, jus’ fo’…”
“Yeah. I’m sure you do,” Shadow interrupted, stepping back as Aurora pawed at her knee in a sad mimicry of the trick Rook sometimes used. “But I don’t even need to go to the office for that. I have it linked to my phone, too.” she held up the smartphone, flicking back and playing the time indicated. “Oh, would you look at that. Rook was right. Good boy, Rook.” Shadow reached down and grabbed Aurora by the scruff of her neck, dodging the flailing hooves and thrashing wings.
“What did you want for Foxfire? Forever in a sorry box, wasn’t it? Well, let’s start with this, shall we?”
She half dragged, half carried the demon fluff to the small wall cages in the feeder Kennel, tossing her into one on the bottom row as far from the stallions as possible. “There. More space than you deserve, a water bottle right there. You could even try talking to the others in here if you can get them to talk back with a monster like you.” she added, quietly enough not to carry over to the runs. “You’ll be staying in here until further notice. I’ll try to remember to feed you tomorrow. Have fun, Aurora.”
“Bu- wat?Nu! Nu nu nu! Sha- Mummah Shado’! Fwuf…Auwowa wub ‘ou? Mummah Shado’ nu wub Auwowa?” The large alicorn wailed, struggling to turn around in the small cage, loudly pounding hard hooves against the wire mesh. “Auwowa wiww be guud! Auwowa be bestest Pack fwuffy fo Mummah Shado’! Pwease wet Auwowa out! Auwowa nu bewon’ wit’ dummeh nummie fwuffies!”
“Oh, fuck off, bitch. I have to go clean up your shit now.” Shadow didn’t even turn around as Aurora managed to dislodge the water bottle from the edge of the cage door, the door into the hall slamming shut in her wake.
Some time later there was a scrabbling noise, the light veneer door slowly inching open again as a charcoal fluffy slunk in. Rook dropped back on his haunches to watch Aurora’s relentless and futile attack on the cage mesh from several feet away, ears pricked alertly forward and wings relaxed loose along his back. “Wook? Bwudda! Hewp sissy Auwowa, pwease?” she begged, her struggle stilling for a moment as she gave him her most pleading look. “Wook oben’d doow udda day, Wook guud oben tings. Can wet sissy Auwowa out?”
His ears flicked back for a moment, giving her a mildly disbelieving snort. “Why Wook du dat?” he asked simply, not moving even an inch closer. “Why Auwowa tink Wook eba du dat?”
“‘Cause den Wook be bestest bwudda?” Aurora tried, tapping at the wire mesh again. “Wook am… Wook am nu pwetty bu’ umm… Wook cwebaw? Wook cwebaest fwuffy ob Auwowa’s Pack! Can get Pwincess Auwowa out!” Wook just tipped his head to one side, considering her as his wings tucked a little tighter. Aurora kicked pointedly at the latch to her cage, drawing his attention for the briefest moment before he wing-shrugged, and her expression shifted. “Wook is wowstest, dummehest, nu pwettiest fwuffy in Auwowa’s Pack! Nu guud fo nuttin! Wowse den Fo’fia!” she shouted, slamming her hooves back into the steel clad wall and forward into the heavy grating in utter fury. Rook’s ears flattened at the increased clatter and noise, as half the other fluffies caged along that wall started up their own rackets. “Auwowa hoofsies hab owwies now, hu, hu,” she whined as she finally collapsed into an exhausted heap on the unpadded, cold metal. She licked at the bruised soles of her hooves, making faces at the taste of the still shit covered keratin. “Nu taste pwetty! Hu… Auwowa wan wawa. Wook gib Auwowa wawa tingie back? Pwease?”
Rook stepped forward at that, picking up the fallen water bottle and dragging it within inches of the cage, a trail of water droplets behind it. “Dis wat Auwowa wan?” he asked, ears flattening as he considered the fluffy only a few inches and a thin wire grating away from him. He leaned in farther as she nodded, nose almost against the door. “Wook’s Pack,” he said firmly, the smug smile of earlier back as she strained to get to the dripping metal spout just out of reach. Without another word, he picked up the water bottle again, dragging it with him back to the cracked open door. Behind him, Aurora stopped her snuffling, eyes going wide in outrage before she resumed pounding at the cage walls.
“Auwowa’s Pack! Awwways, awways! Auwowa pwincess! Rook jus’ stupi’, nu good…” Shadow pushed the door the rest of the way open, reaching down to take the water bottle from Rook and set it on the metal table in the center of the room. “Shado’! Mummah Shado’, Wook taked Auwowa wawa ting! An’ hab nu witta box! An’ nee’ nummies! Auwowa wub-”
“Shut up, or your next cage is the tiny holding one in the exam room, I swear to Tyr.” Shadow snapped, dishing out small treats to each of the panicking stallions in the cages above Aurora’s until they settled down, checking on the mares and foals. “Rook, heel.” The moment the feeder kennel door slammed shut behind them again, she ran a considering finger along the door lever, testing the limited amount of downward pressure it took to open. “Anything else you’d like to tell me, Rook?”
“Wook towd Auwowa dat was bad ida-idea,” he answered, even as his ears drooped a little. He held out for barely a few more heartbeats after that, hooves shuffling against the linoleum. “Bu’ Wook towd Auwowa dat cause Wook knuw Auwowa nu wisten. Auwowa tink Auwowa betta an’ smawter dan Wook ow Fo’fia ow eben Gwowy, an’ Auwowa weawwy nu wike Mawnie nu am nummies. Auwowa tinks Fo’fia tu siwwy, nu guud fo’ Pack.” Shadow sighed, rubbing at the back of her neck, and Rook slumped further, peering up at her through the hanging strands of his mane.
“An’ mayb’… bu’ Fo’fia am Wook’s sissy, am Pack. Su Wook towd Auwowa bad idea an’ nu towd Auwowa ‘bout cam’ tingies. Wook wan Auwowa make Mummah maddies, wit mowe wope. Auwowa sissy tu, bu’… Auwowa bad fo’ Wook’s Pack.” Ears at their lowest, wings tucked flat, head lowered. “Auwowa nu make Wook’s Mummah happies eba. Mummah… Mummah maddies wit’ Wook?”
“I would have been if you had lied to me about your involvement with that. What you did was a clever, cunning idea. You saw the playroom when I was checking the cameras from the office, and you remembered.” Shadow hooked fingers under his muzzle, forcing his gaze back up to hers. “Next time you get an idea like that, tell me first. Pull this sort of stunt again without asking and you’ll be in a sorry box right next to whoever you set up. Am I understood?” Rook nodded furiously, ice blue eyes fixed on hers.
“Wook undastan’ Mummah. Neba ‘gain wit’ou’ ask’n. Wook neba teww Mummah nu-twuufs ow nu teww Mummah aww twuuf.” Her grip on his face loosened, becoming a fond caress of his chin, and his ears flicked back up. “Wook wub ‘ou, Mummah. -coo-”
“Yeah, I love you too, sweetie. You’re my favorite, don’t tell the others.” Shadow stayed crouched next to him a moment longer, ruffling his mane as he leaned into her and rubbed against her legs. “Wanna go listen to another story chapter while the rug’s in the wash?”
“Yes, pwease! Wub stowy. Nu undastan’ aww da wowdies, bu’ Wook wub da bunny stowy an’ mummah weadin’ timesies.” He pranced happily behind her back to the playroom.
First Chapter-- The Pack- because what we need is more fluffies bred to eat other fluffies. (1) by :Shadowfox
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