Spectacular Seven

by The Albinocorn


Showdown in Canterlot I: All Heart of the Plan

Sunset, Selena, and Trixie sat at the dining room table, a map of Canterlot Coliseum laid out in front of them. After an hour of comforting Trixie, and a quick shower, everyone was ready for their war council. A small X was drawn on one of the corridors that ran under the stadium.

Selena tapped her finger on it. “We know Artemis was last here. Fingers crossed that he hasn’t moved, but odds are, the Sirens will want every last drop of misery in one location.”

Trixie tapped her fingers together, keeping herself tucked as tightly as she could. “A-actually, Mom… I have something I should tell you.”

“What is it?”

“I…” The tears started falling again. “They… they made me sabotage the other bands,” Trixie said, her voice cracking from the strain of holding her cries back. “They s-said if I did, they’d keep him alive and-and give me a chance to save him.”

Selena moved over and wrapped Trixie in a tight hug. She ran a hand through her daughter’s hair and gently shushed her. “It’s okay, sweetheart. It’s gonna be okay.”

“I’m s-sorry. I couldn’t tell you, or they’d… I’m sorry.”

Sunset eased back in her chair. The look of fear that replaced the normal stubborn and haughty look in Trixie’s eyes now made perfect sense. And as much turmoil Trixie had caused, Sunset couldn’t fault her for it. The blame rested solely with the Sirens.

Sunset played with her fingers. Well, since we’re being honest. “I have something to say as well.”

Trixie and Selena looked over to her. “What’s wrong, Sunset?” Selena asked.

“I…” Sunset bit her lip. Come on, we’re already halfway there. Still, she was attempting a huge gamble, not just with her future, but with her friends’ as well. But just talking about it won’t hurt them, right? She stopped overthinking it; her mind was made up. “Remember how the Crystal Heart was stolen by a thief named Lamia?”

Selena gave a wary nod of her head. “Yes?”

“Well… I may kinda know who and where she is.”

Trixie gaped at her. “What? You met Lamia?”

Sunset sank lower into her chair. “‘Met’ is an understatement. Lamia is… well, she’s me. At least, the human version of me. You know, from this world.”

Selena and Trixie stared blankly at her for several seconds. “Artemis would get a kick out of this,” Selena said. She rubbed the bags under her eyes. “All right, perhaps you should start from the top.”

So, Sunset recounted her encounter with Lamia, the odd phenomena that occurred with they touched, and how Sunset had stumbled on her secret and what would happen if she said anything. It felt like releasing air out of an overinflated balloon in her chest. While it was still pretty full, Sunset felt like she could breathe a little better.

A contemplative silence filled the room after she finished talking. She looked down at her feet, waiting for either Lulamoon to speak.

“Okay.” Selena rubbed her eyes again. “Are there any other secrets either of you would like to reveal?”

Trixie and Sunset shared a look. “No.”

“I think that’s everything.”

“Good.” Moving back to her seat, Selena said, “So, we know who has the Heart. Getting it back would be tricky if we don’t want this Lamia to retaliate. On one hand, the concert is the day after tomorrow, so it’s a slim chance the Sirens will get their hands on it.” Selena raised her other hand. “But, supposedly, she’s getting rid of the heart sometime this weekend.”

“Maybe even tonight,” Sunset said.

“And I’d hate to lose the Heart to some random black market dealers. Who knows where it could end up.”

Trixie held her hands up. “Where else could it go that would be worse than the Sirens?”

Selena stared at the map, unresponsive to Trixie’s question. Before Sunset vocalized her building curiosity, Selena said, “Regardless of who could get it, I think it would be important to keep track of a powerful magical artifact like that.”

“So what do we do?” Sunset asked.

“Let me worry about the Heart.” Selena tapped the map. “I want you to focus on Sunday. Your job, Sunset, is fairly simple. You get your friends to go up there and play the counterspell to break the hold over everyone. Mine and Trixie’s job is to find Artemis and release him. Then, between your performance and theirs, we have to sneak in and use the pocket dimension to seal them in Artemis’ hat.”

Sunset leaned to one side. “Won’t everyone be a little suspicious if the Sirens don’t show?”

“The spell should be broken, so they won’t care much beyond general curiosity. And it’s better we take care of them behind the scenes than on the stage.”

At this point, Sunset couldn’t bring herself to care too much about the details. They had a plan, and while Sunset could see various ways it could go wrong, it was better than nothing. They had been relying on luck and chance all month; it wouldn’t hurt to rely on a little more. All Sunset needed to do was…

Selena stood from her chair. “That’s the general gist of it anyways. We can iron out a few more of the details tomorrow with your friends. In the meantime, how about dinner?”

Sunset’s stomach rumbled in agreement. Now that she wasn’t filled up on tension and anxiety, she realized she hadn’t eaten in almost eight hours. She happily devoured the pasta Selena made, sharing the dinner table with Trixie for the first time since the competition had begun. It was a quiet meal, still tense with anticipation for what was to come, but Trixie sat close to Sunset, and they traded encouraging smiles with pasta sauce over their mouths.

Food in their bellies and a long day of preparation in front of them, Sunset and Trixie bade Selena goodnight and headed upstairs. They paused in front of the bathroom, the split between their rooms. Trixie wrung her hands. “Listen, Sunset… I wanted to say I’m sorry. You were just trying to help and I got jealous, and somewhere along the way, I got up in the competition, and the Sirens, and—”

Sunset put a hand over Trixie’s mouth. “I get it. And apology accepted.” She lowered her hand. “Look, I know we’re both still getting used to living with each other, but like I told you before: I’m not here to take anything away from you. Trixie, you’re his daughter. No matter what I do, he’s going to love you. I’ve seen it in his eyes; he’s already proud of you.”

“I… I know.” She wiped a quick tear from her eye. “It’s just—and don’t tell anyone I said this, but…” Trixie dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Sometimes I doubt my magical abilities.”

“Really? No way!” Sunset said, trying her hardest to keep a straight face and even voice.

“It’s true!” Trixie pulled her wand from her pocket and twirled it between her fingers. “My father’s done all these amazing things in his lifetime. He makes magic look so easy. And when I’m practicing with him, I think it’s easy too. But when I’m by myself… everything suddenly seems so complicated.” She held her wand up in front of her face. “The Lulamoons are part of an ancient lineage. We can trace our blood back to Merlin himself. We’re some of the last natural magicians in the world. We were given a sacred duty.” Her wand arm fell. “Sometimes I wonder if I can live up to it.”

Sunset won the fight against the smirk trying to work its way onto her face and eased into a sympathetic frown. “I can see how that would put some pressure on you. But I know, and I know you know, Artemis would be happy with whatever you did with your life. Even if you aren’t the best magician, you’re still a Lulamoon.” Sunset gave her a confident grin. “You’re still the Great and Powerful Trixie.”

Trixie giggled, then cleared her throat and straightened up. “Trixie thanks you for your kind and very true words.” She gave Sunset a remorseful look. “And again, she’s sorry she messed with your band.”

Sunset shook her head. “You can apologize to them tomorrow, but I think they’ll understand.” She wrung her hands. “But, um, maybe you could do me a favor?”

“Trixie supposes she could lend her amazing talents to those in need.”

“Glad you’re feeling better,” Sunset deadpanned. “Listen, can you snap Twilight out of the Sirens’ trance? Please?” Sunset added, not afraid to show her desperation.

Some of Trixie’s smugness disappeared. “Oh, well…” She rolled her wrist uncertainly. “Father’s spell was designed to keep influences on the mind out. I guess the Sirens just wore away at it until it finally broke. I mean, I could put it up maybe, but they’re kinda already in her head, so…”

“So it’d be pointless,” Sunset said, her shoulders dropping with her heart.

“Sorry.”

“No, it’s fine.” Sunset turned to her room, determined to finish the spell tonight. “Just means I have something to fight for.”

*******

Tonight was finally the night!

Duffle bag packed, hood and mask on, Jörmangandr around her neck, Crystal Heart tucked in the backpack, Lamia was all set for her rendezvous of fortune. By the time tonight was done, she would be a rich woman! Did she feel concern over selling a magical and potentially dangerous artifact on the black market?

Not in the least!

Whatever happens after this isn’t any of my concern! She slung the duffel bag over her shoulder and bade her cramped living space goodbye. She walked across the hall to the rooftop exit ladder and clambered up, forcing the old hatch door open.

The flat rooftop of the factory greeted her, along with a brisk night wind. She had set the meeting time for here, just after midnight, and it was currently five ‘til. Not being an amateur, she triple checked the surrounding area for any police or FBI, then plotted out several escape routes in case anything went wrong.

“Are you excited, Jorgey?” Lamia said with a coo, scratching him under the chin. “We’ll never have to steal again. Except for fun of course.” He hissed and pressed against her hand.

Their client was one Dr. Caballeron. Lamia had heard of him in a few circles; a wealthy entrepreneur who liked to own some of the finer arts. It took some haggling, but they had finally settled on the generous price of twenty million dollars.

Lamia shuddered in delight. She loved it when she won!

“Ah, ah-ah, ah-ahh,

“Ah, ah-ah, ah-ahh.”

Shit! Lamia recognized that sound. It had nearly ruined her theft of the Crystal Heart in the first place. But what was it doing here? And where was it coming from?

“Ah, ah-ah, ah-ahh,

“Ah, ah-ah, ah-ahh.”

Three directions at once? She spun in place, trying to pinpoint the noise. Was this all a set up? Did I even talk to Caballeron? Her mind began to go hazy. What was she doing up here in the first? Did she need the Crystal Heart? She was sure someone could get a lot better use out of it than she could.

From either side and directly in front of her, three figures climbed onto the rooftop, their voices heavenly and sweet. They sauntered closer, their features still obscured by the dark. Jörmangandr hissed wildly, but Lamia felt herself falling deeper and deeper into their music. She slid the backpack off her back and held it out to the approaching figure. It was so easy. Why even think when they could do it for her?

The singing stopped, and something silver flashed between Lamia and the girl with an outstretched hand. They both jumped back, Lamia’s thieving instincts kicking in. The fog started to clear away, and she saw a fourth figure standing between her and a girl with an impressive mass of frizzy orange hair. Lamia had seen her on television once or twice and knew this was Adagio. Which meant the girls to her left and right were Sonata and Aria, though she wasn’t sure which was which.

But then who was the figure standing between her and Adagio, katana drawn, blue ponytail waving in the wind?

“I came for a heart,” she said. She raised her sword in a defensive stance. “But I’ll take four if I can.”

*******

“Well, well, well!” Adagio spread her arms. “I was afraid I wouldn’t get to see you again, Selena! How’s life without that oaf of a husband of yours?”

Selena tightened her grip on her sword. “Your show is over, Adagio. If I have to go to jail for slitting your throat, then so be it. At least your malice will be at an end.”

“Bold words from someone without any magic.” Adagio put her hands on her hips. “Artemis couldn’t handle us at half strength. Do you really think—”

Selena stepped and swung horizontally, forcing Adagio to leap back, a look of surprise and brief panic flickering across her face. The second she landed, Selena followed up with a second attack, forcing Adagio to backflip to a safe distance.

Adagio glared over Selena’s shoulder. “Don’t just stand there, you idiots! Either grab her or the Heart!”

Sonata and Aria snapped to attention and picked a target, Aria engaged Lamia while Sonata came up behind Selena and let out an ear-piercing wail. Selena grit her teeth against the screech but stood firm and lunged for Sonata with her blade. Sonata leapt back out of its range, ending the scream. Selena then spun around and slashed at Adagio, keeping her back.

Adagio inhaled and released a soundwave strong enough to send Selena across the roof. Her back skidded across the rough surface, but she used the momentum to roll up onto her feet. A second scream from Sonata made her flinch back and weaken her guard, allowing Sonata to plant a boot into Selena’s gut. Selena staggered but didn’t fall, and swung her sword to graze Sonata across the stomach.

On the other side of the roof, Adagio sung, filling the air with her hypnotizing melody, and a foul green mist. The fight between Aria and Lamia slowed down, with Lamia fully removing her backpack and dropping it to the floor before reaching into her belt and throwing a small knife at Selena.

Selena danced to the side, letting the knife fly past her, then spun again to avoid Sonata’s poor lunge. As she passed, Selena swung her combat boot into Sonata’s back and sent her tumbling to the ground. Turning back, Selena found Lamia coming at her, brandishing a longer knife, and the snake around her neck bearing its fangs. Selena extended her arm as far as she could and met the knife with the strong side of her blade while staying just out of range of the snake. With a sharp twist of her wrist, the knife dropped from Lamia’s hand.

As Lamia backed up, Selena jumped forward, scooped the knife up, and hurled it at Aria, retreating with the backpack. It cut across her shoulder, and Aria yelled in pain, but kept running toward Adagio who had stopped her song.

“Pleasure doing business with you!” Adagio took the backpack and jumped off the roof, Aria in tow, gripping her shoulder. Selena whipped around to Sonata, who blew a raspberry before jumping from the roof as well.

Selena heard a woosh of air, and spun her blade to knock the last throwing knife out of the air. The split second distraction gave Lamia a head start to grab her duffle bag and run, but Selena proved faster. She grabbed the knife she had just deflected and threw it low, stabbing Lamia in the calf. She collapsed to the ground with a loud curse.

As Selena marched toward her, the snake reared up to bite. Selena slapped it across the face with the flat of her blade, and it recoiled to its master’s side.

Lamia turned over and glared at Selena through her mask. “Who the fu—whoa!”

Selena leveled her blade at the thief's throat. “No cursing in my presence.” She raised the tip to touch Lamia’s chin. “What were you doing up here, Snake Queen?”

“Why the hell should I tell you anything?”

“Because if you don’t, I’ll cut the head off your snake,” Selena said calmly. “Now, talk.”

Lamia grumbled something probably foul-mouthed, but said, “I was going to make a trade with someone. What’s it to you?”

“The Crystal Heart for money?”

Lamia narrowed her eyes. “Who are you?”

“A concerned mother.” Selena reached down and grabbed Lamia by the front of her suit and hauled her up, kicking the snake away at the same time. With one hand, she held Lamia by the collar, and kept her sword against Lamia’s throat with the other. “I came here tonight to take the Heart back and give you a warning. I can still do at least one of those things.” She kept her face completely neutral, but looked Lamia dead in the eyes. “If you do anything to hurt Sunset Shimmer or her friends, I will hunt you down to the ends of the earth and cut you to ribbons.”

“You don’t scare me.”

Selena spun Lamia forward and slashed with her sword. The back of her mask fell off, and with it, Lamia’s red and gold ponytail. Her hands frantically scrabbled over the back of her head, running over where her hair now ended at the nape of her neck.

“You… You…”

Selena sheathed her sword. “I think the police should be able to tell Sunset and you apart now.” She raised her hand to block Lamia’s quick attack, then did it again with her other arm. Lamia struck a series of quick blows, each of them deflected by Selena. She dropped down and swept her leg out, knocking Lamai over.

Lamia laid on the ground, panting. “Dammit. Dammit, dammit, dammit!” She pounded her fist into the ground. “I hate you!”

With a small, “hmph,” Selena turned for home. “Remember this defeat next time you threaten Sunset or her friends. I won’t be so lenient in the future.” She stalked off, having far more pressing matters to deal with now. Even as she exited the roof, she heard Lamia cursing at the night sky.

*******

Sunset had stayed up most of Friday night working on the spell, and woke early Saturday morning to continue. In fact, she only left her room when her friends arrived to discuss their plans for tomorrow and get a little practice in before the show.

Eight girls gathered around the living room table. Selena paced in front of them, hands held behind her back. “I’m afraid I have some bad news. The Sirens are in possession of the Crystal Heart.”

Sunset almost choked on the apple she had been eating. “How?

Selena spoke slow, carefully choosing her words. “I had a contact tell me the possible whereabouts of Lamia and I went to investigate last night. I happened to find her in the middle of her trade with the Sirens of all people. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop them,” she said bitterly.

Trixie gaped at her. “Mom, you went and fought the Sirens on your own? After you told Trixie and Sunset we were reckless for going to the concert?”

“I wasn’t expecting to find the Sirens.” She put a hand on Trixie’s shoulder. “But you’re right. That was reckless of me. That’s why you do as I say, not as I do.”

“Okay, so they have the Heart,” Rainbow said. “On a scale of one to ten, how bad is that?”

Selena looked at her with grave eyes.

“Okay. A ten. That’s… really, really bad.”

“Understatement of the century,” Sunset said. “How does this change our plans though?”

“Not by too much,” Selena said. She tapped the map on the table. “Your job stays the same. Trixie and I just have to find Artemis faster so we can go after the Crystal Heart and get it away from the Sirens. As long as it’s in the area, it’ll feed off the strongest emotion there. I have a feeling they’ll keep it close to the stage though.”

Sunset raised her hand. “Maybe I can do that. I’m not actually part of the band. Once the girls are squared away, maybe I can sneak around and get the Heart.”

Applejack frowned. “Seems mighty dangerous. You sure you wanna do that on your own?”

“Everyone will be focused on you and the Sirens. It shouldn’t be too hard.”

Selena sighed. “I feel like telling you not to do it because it’s too dangerous would be both pointless and hypocritical of me. So please, just be careful, Sunset.”

Sunset gave her a thumbs up and a smile. She then pulled out her notebook. “It’s not perfect yet, but I’ve got a new counterspell to try out.”

Rainbow picked up her guitar and headed for the backyard. “Let’s hope it’s better than the last one. Ow!” She rubbed the back of her head where Applejack had thumped her.

It certainly wasn’t as bad as their first attempt. Sunset made a few adjustments as they practiced to make the song sound as harmonious as possible, but something about it still didn’t sit right with her. The lyrics? The melody? She flipped back through the dozens of pages she had gone through, looking over the scratched out lines and eraser marks. Was this really all she had to show for her month of labor? She closed the book as her friends played through the last lines.

The sun had just set, and as much as Sunset would have loved to play a few more times to find what was missing, she knew the neighbors would start to throw a fit hearing the same song a sixth time. “That’s enough for today, girls. You should go home and get some rest.”

“Yeah, we’re gonna need it to kick the Sirens’ butts!” Rainbow took her guitar off and rolled out her shoulder. “Not a bad song, Sunset.”

“Do you really think it’ll be enough to win tomorrow?” Fluttershy asked.

“It has to be,” Sunset said, feeling her stomach dance. She yawned, her lack of sleep creeping up on her. “I’ll make a few more adjustments before the show.”

“Not too many,” Applejack said. “We still need to be able to play it.” She packed her bass and looked over to Pinkie. “Err, Pinkie, do you think it’d be all right if me and Rarity spent the night at your house?”

Pinkie’s inflating smile gave her enough of an answer.

The girls departed into the cloudless night. In twenty-four hours, one way, this will all be over, Sunset thought, staring at the half moon. She closed the front door after Rainbow disappeared around the corner, and leaned against it. They’ll win or lose because of you. If the spell doesn’t work…

It has to work! Sunset pushed herself up and walked upstairs, meeting Trixie at the top.

“Do you need any help?”

“No, I…” Sunset yawned. “I got it. Just a few tweaks.” She yawned again. “Thanks though.”

Trixie allowed her to past, but looked dubious at Sunset’s reassurances. Sunset shrugged it off upon entering her room. Writing the spell was her job—her responsibility. If she couldn’t do that, then what good was she?

“Maybe Trixie can help you make it better,” Princess Twilight said.

Sunset climbed onto her bed. “Not to doubt Trixie’s skill, but… I doubt it. Besides, if this fails—and it won’t—I want the blame to only fall on me.”

“Ah yes, just like it always does whenever something goes wrong,” her demon said from the mirror.

“You, I’m ignoring.” Sunset looked down at the spell for anything she could possibly change, but after only a few minutes, everything just looked like nonsensical squiggles. She rubbed her eyes, but that only made the squiggles dance. When she blinked again, the squiggles surrounded her on all sides, jeering and throwing fruit at her.

She raised her arms to block the rain of tomatoes and oranges and squash. The food splattered against her, leaving her drenched in pulp and juice. The Sirens continued to sing on the other side of the stadium, growing larger with every verse. Sunset looked around for her friends, but they had all vanished.

Adagio took to the skies and flew at Sunset, claws raised and fangs bared. Sunset turned and ran, aiming for the wooden door at the end of the field. She would never make it in time; Adagio was too fast, too powerful!

The Siren closed in, hand outstretched. Sunset reached her own hand out for the doorknob. With her other hand, red and demonic, she unleashed a ball of fire against Adagio’s face. She screamed and recoiled, clutching the side that had been burned while Sunset opened the door and ran inside.

She slammed it shut and gripped her demon hand, beholding it with horror. “No! I don’t want this!”

“Whatever is the matter, Sunset? You sound terrified.”

Sunset looked from the checkered floors at her feet, to the book cases lining the finely painted walls. A glass window hung open, letting a warm breeze tossle the silk curtains. She turned her eyes on the figure standing in a patch of sunlight on the other side of the room, her back to Sunset.

Her pastel mane and tail rippled out like flowing water, and her alabaster coat shone in the sun’s light. Her ears stood at attention, waiting for Sunset’s response.

Sunset ran her tongue through her dry mouth. She couldn’t still her pounding heart upon seeing the pony in front of her. “Princess…”

“Tell me what’s wrong, Sunset?”

She looked down at her corrupted hand. “I… Everyone is counting on me to finish this spell and I don’t know if I can do it. And… and I’m afraid that maybe there’s another way to beat the Sirens and I have the means to do it. But I don’t want to win at that cost.”

“I see.” The Princess chuckled. “Even as a filly, you had this silly notion that you had to do everything on your own. Sunset, you’re strong and independent, but you’re not alone. It’s okay to ask your friends for help.”

“But they already have enough to do! They already have to save the day; I can’t ask them to do this too!”

“You’re struggling and you’re in pain, Sunset. Even with what they’re going through, your friends would want to help you any way they could. As for your other problem… I think you just need to believe in yourself more.”

Sunset’s demon hand changed back to normal, and she flexed her fingers. “You always make everything sound so easy,” she whispered.

“And you always make everything harder for yourself.”

A blush crept across Sunset’s face. “I kinda do, huh?” She took a step further into the room. “Princess—”

“Shhh. None of that. I already know.” The room began to fade to white as Celestia turned her head to Sunset. Her purple eye smiled lovingly. “You can do it, Sunset.”

Sunset snorted awake and immediately spotted the drops of spittle on the spell page. She quickly dabbed it off and wiped her mouth. Somehow, she had managed to fall asleep sitting cross-legged on her bed. Outside, the mid-morning sun shone through her window. It was almost time.

She showered and got dressed, joining the Lulamoons downstairs. Trixie wore her cape, clutching the clasp like a life preserver. Selena wore a long blue skirt and black combat boots. On her head was one of Artemis’ hats.

Sunset sat down to the plate of eggs and toast Selena had laid out. The radio played from the kitchen counter, Cadence’s chipper voice coming in loud and clear. “Make sure to tune in to the Dazzlings’ encore Canterlot performance tonight, featuring the winners of the Battle of the Bands, the Rainbooms! Tickets are already sold out, but you can watch the whole concert live tonight at six!”

A question popped into Sunset’s head, and she turned toward Selena. “You’ve been listening to the Sirens music this entire time, and you’re not hypnotized. How?”

Selena smiled confidently. “I’m trained in seven styles of swordplay and three martial arts. Not only does that train you physically, but it tightens your mental focus as well. The only person on this planet who can tell me what to do is my mother.”

“So with enough mental fortitude, you can stop magical influences?”

“It isn’t easy. But yes, it can be done.”

Sunset looked back at her eggs. She made a mental note to tell Twilight later. There will be a later. We’ll break the spell, I know we will!

The rest of the Rainbooms arrived after breakfast for a few more hours of practice. Because of Sunset’s impromptu nap, she had to make more changes on the fly. Her vivid dream made it hard to fully concentrate. Did she really talk to Celestia despite their dimensional distance?

It sounded just like her. It looked just like her. But, how could she have done that? And why didn’t she talk to me before.

Stupid question. You know why she didn’t want to talk to you.

Okay, then why is she talking to me now?

“Earth to Sunset!” Rainbow waved a hand in front of her face. “We finished the song a minute ago!”

Sunset snapped her head up. “Oh, right! Great job, girls!”

“Were you even listening that time?” Applejack asked.

“Yes… mostly. Just take it from the top one more time.”

Everyone sighed but did as asked, playing through one last time before they packed everything up and piled it into their cars. Sunset rode with Selena and Trixie in a silent drive. Their collective fear created a chill that numbed Sunset’s hands. There was no turning back now.

We made it this far. Just a little bit more. Sunset raised a trembling hand to her necklace. Just a little more.

They pulled into the parking lot of Canterlot Coliseum, already filling up with spectators. When everyone had their instruments out of the cars, Selena lined the girls up one last time.

“Whatever happens in there, be careful. The Crystal Heart is going to amplify any negative energy in the air, so it’s vital that you all keep cool heads. Understand?” The girls nodded, and Selena relaxed her stern expression. “And thank you, girls, for everything that you’ve done.” She nodded to Trixie, and together they walked to the main gate.

Sunset led her friends to the performer’s entrance, keeping the notebook pressed against her chest. Here we go.

*******

Adagio set the Crystal Heart into the center of the altar at the back of the stage. She stepped back with a victorious smile. “Isn’t it beautiful?” She looked back at her sisters. “I have to hand it to you, Aria, you really came through this time.”

Aria shrugged nonchalantly, wincing at the cut on her shoulder. “It’s easy to pretend you’re someone else on the internet.” She smirked. “Having knowledge on how the black market works also helps.”

“And that explains the shrunken heads,” Adagio said with a bemused sigh. “At any rate, we’re finally here, girls. All the magic and power we could ever want is about to be delivered to us on a silver plate.”

Sonata tapped her chin. “Why would the Rainbooms bring silver plates?”

Aria and Adagio ignored her. “So, what should we do about Selena and Trixie?” Aria asked.

Adagio smiled, showing off all her teeth. “We won’t have to do anything. In one hour, we’ll have a legion of adoring fans who’ll do whatever we ask.” She raised her arms toward the Crystal Heart. “After twenty years, our dreams are finally about to come true! The whole world will be eating out of our hands!”

“Eeeww, why would we want them to do that?” Sonata asked, dragging Adagio from her reverie. “Who knows where all their mouths have been.”

Adagio facepalmed while Aria let out a tired sigh. “Go back to sleep, Sonata.”