As the intro to Bridges in the Sky began, the video on the three cube-shaped screens showed a vast canyon landscape as the camera panned up while it elevated down. There was still applause from the crowd after the intro video, featuring Hans Zimmer’s score to Inception just seconds before. Then the first blast of throat singing was sounded, eliciting more cheers from the crowd.
As more throat singing continued, the video cut to a clown wearing a yellow shirt, blue overalls, and a red bowler hat riding a unicycle through the canyon area. The music then lulled into a soft, but powerful choral section. As the clown in the video continued to ride, the music changed keys a few times. In between a key change, the crowd began to cheer loudly again.
Four men walked from the left side of the stage to their instruments, the bassist and keboardist on stage left, the guitarist on stage right, and the drummer with his massive wrap around-and-over drum set in the back center.
The video of the clown’s journey was soon coming to an end. As the music began to increase with intensity, the clown on the video was riding to the cliff’s edge with no signs of stopping. Just as the clown was about to ride off, the screens cut to black as the spotlights shone solely on the lead guitarist, John Petrucci, as he played the opening riff with his signature black Ernie Ball Music Man guitar. Once the drummer, Mike Mangini, started pounding at the drums, the lights in the back of the stage flashed the audience like strobes. Soon, the other two members, Jordan Rudess on a Korg OASYS with an Apple iPad above, signature keytar to his left, Continuum Fingerboard behind him, and John Myung on a black six string Ernie Ball Stingray bass guitar, followed with their playing.
After about a minute of playing, their singer, James LaBrie, came from behind and grabbed the mike stand and began singing the song.
The crowd was ecstatic now: the whole of the great band Dream Theater was assembled onstage. As they’ve done many times on the tour, they performed the song flawlessly, their musical genius flooding over the audience. They played more songs, each one performed as flawlessly as the last, and the crowd loved every second of it.
It was then time in the set to play Surrounded from their Images and Words album. Preceding it, though, was a beautiful piano solo by Jordan on his keyboard. Everyone was swayed by his masterful improvisation. James came back onstage.
“You think it’s difficult to play something like this,” said James, “but imagine having to play this every night.”
The crowd applauded in agreement.
“The incredible, talented Mr. Jordan Rudess, everyone,” he concluded.
The crowd exploded with applause as Jordan began to play the intro, which brought Mike, John (Petrucci), and John (Myung) back onstage. The crowd quieted down so they could hear James sing.
Morning comes too early and nighttime falls too late,
And sometimes all I want to do is wait.
A few audience members took out their cell phones to imitate lighters.
The shadow I've been hiding in has fled from me today.
I know it's easier to walk away than look it in the eye.
All five members then noticed that the stage began getting brighter, which wasn’t supposed to happen until the rest of the members joined in. It could have easily been a malfunction, so the song continued without interruption.
But I will raise a shelter to the sky,
And here beneath this star tonight I'll lie.
The stage began getting very bright, but what was so odd was that there were no spotlights being directed on them, but the stage only got brighter.
She will slowly yield the light,
As I awaken from the longest night.
The crowd was confusedly clamoring about what was happening, but they were drowned out by the sound of an electric whirring. The noise was too loud to ignore, and all five members ceased playing. By now, the brightness had made anything beyond the stage invisible to each member.
Suddenly, with what sounded like a bass-filled explosion, the light washed away from the area. The band members were shocked to find themselves not on stage in a theater, but in a large hall with stained glass, marble pillars, purple walls, and pink/orange checkered ceilings.
All of the band’s instruments (along with their stands and John’s effect pedals) were brought with them, including some amps and lights from the stage.
“What the hell?” Jordan asked quietly to himself.
That’s when they all heard a loud gasp coming from their left. They turned to see a purple unicorn pony, a white alicorn, and a small, purple, bipedal reptile staring at them, equally as frightened as they all were. The alicorn assumed command and addressed the five band members.
“Who are you all? As a matter of fact, what are you?” her voice sounded calm, but was just as authoritative as well.
“Dude,” stammered Petrucci, shocked out of his mind, “did that horse just fucking talk to us?”
“Answer the question!” she demanded.
“Whoawhoawhoa!” shouted James instinctively through his microphone, just as he would if he were trying to calm a fight at a show. He was surprised that despite not being plugged into any outlets anymore, his microphone was perfectly functional. The loud sound his voice made rung through the hall, forcing the two equines and reptile to cover their ears. He immediately looked regretful of his action when he saw the look of displeasure on the white alicorn’s face.
James put his microphone back on its stand and tried talking normally to this creature as calmly as possible, which would be no easy feat.
“Listen, I’m very sorry about that, just don’t hurt us.”
“Who says I was going to hurt you?” she asked. “I just wanted to know what you are.”
“I could ask you the same question.”
“But… I am a pony. Isn’t it obvious?”
“Where I come from, ponies aren’t purple and don’t have horns on their head or wings on their back, or talk for that matter.” James’ response seemed to shock the alicorn.
“Yeah, really. Are those things even real?”
Celestia answered by unfurling her wings and flapping them, sending a strong gust towards the five band members, who were awestruck, even more than before.
“Holy shit,” responded Mike, putting his hands on his head. “This is crazy.”
Myung was still too shocked to speak.
“This has to be some kind of weird dream,” said Petrucci.
“No,” disagreed Jordan, “this feels way too real to be a dream.”
“What makes you say that?”
Mike threw a drumstick at Petrucci’s back, perfectly hitting his target.
“Ow!” exclaimed Petrucci. “What was that for?”
“You felt pain,” replied Mike, “so that must mean we aren’t dreaming.”
The reptile snickered a little as it watched Petrucci rub his back. Petrucci glared at the creature, having heard him. Scared by the angry look in his eyes, the creature hid behind the purple unicorn, trembling. Petrucci made a sigh of regret.
“Alright,” he said, setting his guitar down, and prompting the others to join his side. “I’m sorry. I think some introductions are in order.” He cautiously walked towards the three creatures along with his bandmates. “My name is John Petrucci. As for what we are, we are a species known as humans.”
“Mike Mangini,” said Mike.
“Jordan Rudess,” he followed.
“James LaBrie,” answered James.
“John Myung,” said Myung, raising his hand.
“Such weird names,” observed the unicorn aloud.
“No offense,” retorted Mike, trying to sound as inoffensive as possible with his Boston accent, “but I’m sure once we hear your name, you’ll sound pretty funny too.”
“None taken,” the unicorn responded flatly. “And for the record, my name is Twilight Sparkle.”
Mike threw his arms up. “I rest my case,” he said.
Jordan knelt down to Twilight. Although on all fours, and with the top of Twilight’s head at chest level with the others, Jordan was able to be at eye level with Twilight. He outstretched his hand to her, a gesture which Jordan was thankful that she understood. She extended her hoof out and let Jordan shake it.
“It’s good to meet you, Ms. Sparkle,” Jordan said with a genuine kindness in his voice.
“Please, call me Twilight,” she responded with a giggle.
“My name is Princess Celestia,” introduced Celestia.
“Whoa,” said Petrucci, “like royalty ‘princess?’”
“That is correct. I am the ruler of this land, known as Equestria. You are right now in my castle in the capital city of Canterlot.”
Cute, thought Petrucci, not daring to say it aloud.
“Princess?” asked LaBrie. “Wouldn’t that make you a queen?”
“In the Canterlot monarchy, the highest rank is order of the princesses,” answered Celestia. “There are no queens.”
This didn’t seem to aid the bandmates in their confusion.
“Now,” said James, slight hesitation still present in his voice, “could you please tell us what you think could have caused us to appear here? I can gather that we’re not in our home world anymore, so how did we end up here? Better yet, is there any way for us to get back?”
“As for your first question,” said Twilight, “I’m not entirely sure. I was performing a new spell I learned this week for Princess Celestia, and—”
“Wait,” interrupted Mike, “did you say ‘spell?’ As in magic?”
“Well, yeah,” she answered matter-of-factly.
“You mean magic exists in this world too? I mean, if unicorns and pegasi exist in this world, I guess it would make sense for magic to exist too.”
“Magic doesn’t exist in your world?”
“That’s awful. Here why don’t I show you myself?”
Twilight’s horn began glowing, perking the five humans' interest. Everyone looked behind them as they heard a small wiggling from one of the stands. Twilight had lifted Petrucci’s guitar from its stand and was levitating it with magic.
Not a single human’s mouth was closed as they watched the guitar float towards Petrucci, who was so distracted by the magic, that the guitar bumped him on the stomach. Despite knowing that the guitar was there, he still stared at it.
“Go on,” said Twilight, “take it.”
Petrucci did as he was told. When Twilight felt he had a good grasp on it, she stopped “holding” it, letting him take control of his instrument.
“Magic actually powers a lot of things in this world. That’s why your microphone and amp was working. I assumed those wires from the back plug into another power source where you’re from, right?” Mike smiled at the unicorn’s intuitive and strangely logical explanation.
“So,” said Mike, “what were you saying about this spell now?”
“Anyways,” continued Twilight. “I had learned a spell that allows me to take an item that I’ve left from far away and teleport it right to me. As I was trying to perform the spell, I suddenly felt like there was interference in the spell. I was only using a library book as the test subject, but it felt like I was trying to teleport the entire library.
“Princess Celestia helped me out with her magic when she saw how exhausted I was getting. Despite using a lot of energy, we were able to teleport something.” Twilight suddenly began to sound very sheepish. “I guess that ‘something’ turned out to be you, hehehe.”
“How were you able to get us, though, when we live entire worlds away?” asked James.
Something then clicked into Celestia’s mind. “Luna,” she sighed. She then ran through the halls to look for this Luna.
“It would be best if you stayed here,” said Twilight. She turned her attention to the purple reptile. “Spike, you watch over them.” She then ran to follow the princess.
“Wait!” cried Spike, trying to chase her down. “Don’t leave me here!”
“So,” said Petrucci from behind him. Spike turned around to see Petrucci on his knees, trying to look as calm as possible despite glaring at him before, “your name’s Spike.” On his knees, Petrucci was the same height as Spike.
“Yeah,” stammered Spike, still nervous.
“It’s okay, man. We’re not going to hurt you. Shake on it?” Petrucci extended his hand to the creature. Once Spike could tell at last that this human wasn’t going to hurt him, he accepted the handshake. “That’s what I’m talking about. By the way, what exactly are you?”
“I’m a baby dragon,” said Spike. Petrucci’s eyes widened a bit at hearing the word “dragon,” but considering all he’d been through, he could start accepting anything. “I’m also Twilight’s assistant. By the way, what’s with all of the guitars and instruments and stuff?”
“Oh, right,” said Jordan. “We’re actually a rock band where we come from.”
“A rock band? That’s so cool! What are you guys called?”
“Dream Theater? I like it. Would you mind playing me something?”
“We’d like to be able to talk to the princesses first,” said James. “The faster we can get back to our home world, the better.”
Spike groaned, disappointed. Soon afterwards, Celestia and Twilight appeared, the former glaring at a very dark blue alicorn who was standing in between them. Upon seeing the five humans in front of her, the alicorn’s eyes widened and she charged towards Petrucci. Petrucci wasn’t too sure of what to do, but suddenly, he felt her arms wrap around his waist as she nuzzled her head into his chest.
“Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!” she squealed. “It’s really you! I can’t believe the greatest band ever is in our castle!”
“What’s she talking about?” asked Mike. “Does she know us?”
“Unfortunately,” said Celestia. “Luna, explain yourself.”
Luna stopped hugging Petrucci and merely looked at him guiltily. He answered back with a smile, trying to make her feel at ease.
“I have a telescope in my room,” began Luna, “that allows me to see worlds beyond. However, a large amount of magic is required to do this. One of my favorite worlds to look at is yours. If you haven’t figured out by my reaction to you being here, I love your band and music. I use my telescope to watch your shows all the time.”
“I’m… flattered,” said Petrucci.
“Thanks, but, I digress. I was watching your concert tonight. I was unaware that Twilight was performing such a teleportation spell at the same time. That particular spell can only be performed when there’s little to no magic to interfere with it, otherwise, the spell’s target is diverted towards the location of the outside magic. When she started performing the spell, it had begun to redirect itself and interfere with my own magic.
“I was unhappy that the concert was being interrupted, so I strengthened my magic. All I managed to do however, was connect Twilight’s teleportation spell to my telescope which connected it to your world, which made you the object which the spell would transport.”
It sounded simple enough, but it didn’t seem to solve the problem.
“So, does this mean we can still go home?” asked Mike.
“The good news is,” said Celestia, “that we know where your world is, so finding the way to send you back will not be a problem…” The bandmates sighed in relief and patted each other reassuringly. “…The bad news is actually sending you back home.”
“What do you mean?” asked Jordan.
“I mean that sending you all here drained a lot of magic and energy from the three of us. We don’t have the strength to send you back tonight.” The band members were very irate now.
“I’m not sure if you forgot,” said James, “but we’re a rock band. We have other shows in the future, so we can’t just stay here.”
“Sure you can,” said Celestia flatly. “Like I said, there’s nothing we can do.”
The whole of Dream Theater knew that getting mad at them wouldn’t solve anything. All they could hope for was that they wouldn’t be stuck here for too long.
“How long would we have to stay, then?” asked Jordan.
“At the very most, just a couple of days. What I’ll do is store some magic, and when I’ve stored enough, I can use that as the energy required to transport you back home.”
“What about rest? It is nighttime, and we’ll need a place to sleep.”
“I’d highly suggest you take the train with Twilight to her home in Ponyville. There are cottages there that are available to you which I will let you all live in free of charge until you return. Plus, the residents there are much more hospitable than the ones in Canterlot.” Everyone was now able to smile.
“Thank you,” said James, “that’s very kind of you.”
“You’re most welcome. The train leaves in about a half an hour, so I suggest you get going.”
“Wait!” spoke Mike. “What about our gear? My drums especially are going to take a while to disassemble.”
“No problem,” said Twilight. Using her magic again, she completely disassembled Mike’s drum set, sorting all the drums, cymbals, bars, and other accessories within the course of a minute. Mike was awed again.
“I’m never going to get used to that,” said Mike.
While the two Johns and James carried their own instruments and stands, Jordan and Mike needed a little more assistance. Jordan carried his keytar, iPad, and fingerboard while Mike grabbed his snare and his bag of drumsticks. Twilight, Celestia, and Luna all carried the rest with their magic: Petrucci's pedals, Jordan’s keyboard, the keyboard’s stand, and Mike’s drum set. Spike merely sat on Twilight’s back. With everything, they needed two train cars to fit all of the band's gear and instruments.
“That seems to be everything,” said Petrucci to Celestia. “Once again, thank you all so much for this.”
“It’s the least we could do,” she responded. “The train should arrive in Ponyville by 8:00 tomorrow morning. I’ll have some moving ponies transport your things to your temporary residences. In the meantime, have some fun. Enjoy your time here.”
“We’ll certainly try.”
“Now, Luna, what do you have to say for yourself?”
Luna crept towards Petrucci.
“I’m so sorry for sending you here. If you need to hate anyone for this, hate me. It’s just I love you so much.” Luna's voice was rasping due her choking up with tears. Petrucci eased her pain by giving her a soft hug. Realizing that one of her favorite musicians was giving her a hug, she stopped crying instantly.
“Don’t worry about it. What’s done is done. We’ll just have to make the best of it.”
John let go of her and went onto the train with his fellow bandmates. He was a bit peeved that he had to crouch down slightly to fit, but he was glad he’d still have room to sit and rest. Not much longer afterwards, the train began to move. Despite having just got on, Petrucci saw Twilight and Spike were sound asleep on their seats.
He went into the next car to find his other four bandmates lying on the seats, trying to get some sleep. As he passed each band member, they raised their fists up for John to bump with his own fist. He went to an unoccupied seat and sat down. He watched the scenery roll by him, the night providing a lovely backdrop. Lulled by its beauty, John’s eyes could not stay open for much longer. Within a few seconds, he closed his eyes fully, surrendering to sleep.