FimFiction Link - Short ID: 518338/predator
Published: Jun '22
'Predator' is a nine thousand and two hundred-word shortfic. Celestia finds herself facing off against a horde of Changelings in a jungle.
Let's get the obvious elephant in the room out of the way first: If you're the sort of reader that can't tolerate Sunhorse acting violent, you will not have fun with this story. However, if you enjoy some gratuitous violence and power-fantasy, this is very much a story for you.
From the get go I quite like how the author incorporates Celestia being the Alicorn of the Sun. Her just instinctually knowing which direction is which, without needing a (magical) compass is a fun detail. I am also pretty fond of the base scenario, having her act alone against overwhelming numbers, and I'd say the ending too was quite nice.
But, and I'm sad I need to put this "but" here, I feel the story suffers from two issues that seriously diminish its quality. One is that the prose feels very dry through most of the story. The fic dumps exposition on the reader every few paragraphs and relies far too heavily on telling not showing. From the beginning till the end the story is full of small details that are either inconsequential or imply at a larger world that simply isn't really there. ("These are Celestia's best guards" even though for most of the story they just disappear and do nothing.)
The other - arguably bigger - issue is that there is simply no tension in this story. While Celestia does occasionally say that she's in danger, not a single changeling can do as much as touch her until around the ending, which is then solved with a complete deus-ex-machina as Celestia realizes "Oh right, I happen to know the Defeat-This-Particular-Villain spell." I'm a bit conflicted about this, because on one hand seeing the various ways Sunhorse fucks up Changelings is very fun, but I feel like it lacks the necessary weight with how little she actually has to try. (Comparatively, the author's previous story 'Night Shift' put the MC in serious danger, thus elevating the action and how much the reader cared for her.)
I somewhat anticipated the ending and for what it's worth, I found it satisfying enough, though I also think it's a bit too by the books. Not to mention, the whole "try being less murderous!" message is a little cynical when Celestia could have sneaked past most patrols instead of brutally murdering a good 40-50 Changelings.
Overall: 6/10 At the end of the day, this is a fun, if simple story. I'd call it pretty Hollywood. Badass action hero ruins the day of generic mooks, before she triumphs over the chitin-twirling villain. If such a thing sounds appealing to you and you aren't bothered by slightly awkward prose, go for this story.