I think this is worth coming out of lurking for, because it's rather bothering me.
I don't understand what was so "completely twisted horrifying" about the story. Usually, Alicorn's 'horror' is much less subtle. Yes, Shula was behaving very oddly, with the hair stroking and "sweeties" and whatnot. But I don't understand what this implies.
Could someone try to explain the horror?
...how David ended up? ...Shula's unscrupulousness and casual 'mental murder'? ...Maureen's kidnapping and memory wipes? ...the likely eventual failure of the current succession model? ...Celia's attempted murder of Shula? ...Meer's fate? ...that I missed a very important paragraph somewhere?
Regis, #2 and #3 (which I'd consider a subset of #2) in your spoiler were the big ones for me, as well as Celia's mental state at the end (e.g. the italicized sentences starting after Meer surrenders), especially (but not exclusively) if it was deliberately caused by Shula.
I would like confirmation/denial of interpretations (in a separate thread, or spoilered, whichever other people prefer). I’d also like more details about the rules about what Shula could do on Earth (even if they were mostly unenforced), and to know what a “sleeper” is in the context of Shula wanting two of them (at first I thought it meant there were two replacements, but I never came up with a plausible alternate hypothesis when that was disproven).
I agree with jalapeno_dude’s entire post about why the story is horrifying, and would add several nonmagical parts of their relationship which basically boil down to Shula not really treating Celia as a person with agency and opinions and the realization that many humans can and do act approximately like Shula does relationship-wise (at least when that is nonmagically possible) without realizing the relationship is unhealthy. Technically I knew that last part independent of the story, and the story didn’t even mention it explicitly, but the story made me more aware of it.