It all coursed through Adagio’s veins. Absolute power, infinite magic, all the animosity and bitterness of everyone in the stadium! The spotlights shone on her and her sisters while the Crystal Heart spun behind them with a dark red hue, amplifying their magic. Soon, everyone watching the broadcast would fall under their spell as well.
The power swelled as she continued to sing, lifting her up into the air.
“We will be adored!
“Tell us that you want us!
“We won’t be ignored!
“It’s time for our reward!”
She felt the magic reach a crescendo and manifest around her body. Her ears became equine, her hair lengthened down to her legs, and a pair of translucent wings sprouted from her back. Her sisters underwent similar transformations, and their jewels glowed with a sinister ruby light.
“Now you need us,
“Come and heed us,
“Nothing can stop us now!”
Adagio thrust her arm out, and a ring of light, the same bloody red as her pendant flew out over the crowd. She saw the free will leave their eyes, obedient, expressionless pupils replacing them. Her cackle echoed across the stadium. They had won! Equestrian magic, the Crystal Heart, it was all theirs!
“I've got the music in me!
From the other side of the field, a stage rose up, spotlights flashing, white smoke mixing in with the green fog. Adagio stared dumbfounded at the seven familiar faces across from her, dressed in sparkling, colorful outfits, tattoos of cutie marks over their eyes, playing their instruments and smiling like they were friends. Why weren’t they at each other’s throats?
Sunset Shimmer, wearing a ruffled red dress with orange and yellow folds, and black leggings, pointed a finger at Adagio. “Hey, Sirens! Listen to this!”
“Don’t need to hear a crowd,
“Cheering out my name!” Fluttershy sang, her voice clear as a crystal bell, with the happiest smile Sunset had ever seen on her.
“I didn't come here seeking
“Infamy or fame!”
Sunset and Twilight hummed and looked on as the rest of the Rainbooms joined in, a glow already starting to settle around them.
“The one and only thing,
“That I am here to bring,
“Is music, is the music,
“Is the music in my soul!”
One by one, they ponied up; quick, bright flashes that left them with their equine features. The stage reflected the rainbow of colors swirling around them. Silhouettes of butterflies, apples, and rainbows danced in the air. Sunset reached out to touch one, feeling it pass through her with a warm, comforting breeze.
“Gotta break out!
“Set myself free, yeah!
“Let it all go!
“Just let it be, yeah!”
All of their instruments played together in harmony, none of them trying to outdo the other. A white ring of light spread out from them, passing through Sunset before she had time to flinch. It continued over the crowd, erasing the blank looks on their faces, and turning their absent moans into cheers.
“Find the music in your heart!
“Let the music make you start,
“To set yourself apart!”
The Crystal Heart behind the Sirens began to slow, its red light fading. Sunset cheered, jumping up and down with Twilight in hand. They were doing it! Her friends were doing it!
“So you Rainbooms want to have a real battle of the bands?” Adagio yelled. “Fine!” A malicious grin spread across her face. “Let’s battle!” She raised her arms, and the musical accompaniment to their song swelled, drowning out the Rainbooms. The Crystal Heart sped up again, and the audience fell back into its stupor.
“What we have in store,
“All we want and more!
“We will break on through,
“Now it's time to finish you!”
The soulless crimson light shining from the Sirens’ pendants became blinding. Sunset shielded her eyes, squinting through her fingers to see what was happening. The pressure in the atmosphere increased again and pressed against her spine like the world was trying to get her to bow to her new overlords. The night sky now had a grim orange hue, and black clouds swirled over the coliseum.
As the light from the pendants began to dim, Sunset saw the crimson glow had moved to all three of the Sirens’ eyes, drowning them in it. Sunset’s gaze moved even higher, and she staggered back, mouth agape at the three creatures rising up behind the Sirens. “So they are from Equestria…”
The beasts appeared to be astral projections, as Sunset could just barely see through them. They had equine body shapes and front hooves, but that’s where the similarities ended. Fins and webbing grew from their backs and behind their front legs. Long tails extended from where their rear legs should have been. They looked down at the Rainbooms with sharp teeth and narrowed eyes. In the middle of their chests were jewels that resembled their pendants.
Twilight pressed herself closer to Sunset. “What are those things?”
“They must be the Sirens’ true forms, or at least some version of them,” Sunset said. Staring up at the behemoths, she had an idea of how her friends felt looking up at her during her demonic rampage. The Sirens’ human bodies just hovered in the air, while their projections roared and flew across the field.
Fluttershy backpedaled across the stage. “Sunset, what do we do?”
“Just play!” she yelled.
As the Sirens circled around them like hungry sharks, Rainbow jumped into the air and wailed on her guitar. The blue aura surrounding her body spread to her instrument, and to her surprise, a rainbow colored lightning bolt shot from the headstock. Sonata narrowly avoided it, and the Sirens broke formation.
Rarity followed Rainbow’s lead and played her keytar with all the passion she could muster. A hailstorm of diamonds rained forth and peppered the Dazzlings, leaving numerous nicks against their astral forms. Adagio roared in response and unleashed a soundwave from her gaping maw.
Fluttershy’s butterflies intercepted the attack, halting the wave in its tracks. She played again, unleashing another swarm that got a speed boost from a soundwave played by Rainbow. The butterflies arched through the air and crashed against Aria’s face.
“I have so many questions!” Twilight yelled.
“Not now, Sparky!”
Sonata evaded a bombardment of glowing apples and came around for another attack. She opened her mouth, but instead of music, a ball of blue energy shot forth.
Pinkie rattled on her drums, and a large party balloon burst into life in front of the stage, absorbing the attack and ricocheting it out of the coliseum.
Rainbow stepped up to the mike and let out a long note that turned into a soundwave and hit the Sirens as they regrouped. Adagio snarled and let out a wail of her own, her red vocal rings crashing against Rainbow’s white. The other Rainbooms joined in, adding their voice to the chorus, and the remaining Sirens fell behind Adagio and sang as well.
The two forces struggled against each other, the Rainbooms pure harmony against the Sirens eerie and haunting melody. The sound grew louder, and Sunset had to press her hands against her ears to stop her eardrums from throbbing.
Rainbow’s cheeks turned a darker shade of blue as she sang her lungs out. Her foot slid back and her knees began to buckle. The Sirens pressed onward, the rings of their music smashing down over the Rainbooms. At the Sirens’ crescendo, Rainbow fell back, the mike falling from her hand. The others fell to their knees, gasping for breath, and Pinkie threw her hands up to cover her ears.
“Girls!” Sunset and Twilight called.
The Sirens circled them again, laughing in dissonant tones. Adagio stopped in front of them and licked her jagged teeth. “Curtain call, Rainbooms!” She formed a ball of energy in her maw, an act copied by her sisters.
Sunset held Twilight close, tears falling from both their eyes. They had gotten this far. They had put up a good fight. At least Sunset could die knowing that. Though Twilight closed her eyes, Sunset couldn’t look away from the oblivion about to befall her.
The Sirens unleashed their magical fireballs, only for each one to slam against a blue-tinted shield over the stage. Smoke poured all around them, but when it faded, Sunset could see Trixie and her parents at the top of the stands, Trixie looking like she had just run a mile.
“Lulamoons!” Adagio bellowed. She flew up toward them, another energy ball in her mouth. It hit a smaller shield, and forced Trixie to one knee. Artemis kept a hand on her shoulder, while Selena unsheathed her sword and pointed it at Adagio.
Adagio hissed, and her human body raised a hand, fingers curled. At her beckoning, members of the audience rose and turned toward the Lulamoons, hate filling their absent stares. The Lulamoons pressed together, but stood their ground against Adagio and her new army.
Sonata and Aria slammed against the barrier around the Rainbooms, forming larger and larger cracks with each blow. The Rainbooms looked on, still dazed from the Sirens’ vocal assault. Twilight took Sunset by the hands. “They need you, Sunset!”
Sunset withdrew from Twilight’s hold. “Me? Why?”
“Because you’re the last person here with magic! You need to sing with them!”
“Twilight, my magic is dark!” Even as she said it, Sunset could hear her demon laughing somewhere deep inside her. “I can’t let that out; it’ll just make everything worse!”
Aria slammed the dome again, and magical shards fell and disintegrated in midair.
Rainbow struggled to her feet. “I don’t know. At this point, it’s really hard to say things could get worse.”
Twilight grabbed Sunset’s hands again and looked into her eyes. “Sunset, please, listen to me.”
Sonata hit the barrier, creating a large fissure.
“I know you’re scared. I know you had a dark past. But you’re good. I’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, they’ve all seen it!” She pointed to their friends. “We’ve all watched you come a long way to where you are now. Yes, you can be temperamental, and maybe you still have things to learn, but your heart is good and so is your magic!”
Selena deflected Adagio’s attack, but not without singeing the hem of her dress. She ducked out of the way of a feeble grab by one of the audience members, and retreated into the second shield held up by a increasingly haggard looking Trixie.
“Sunset, you’re the last chance we have of saving everyone! So please, help us!”
Sunset’s hands trembled in Twilight’s hold. She looked out to the Lulamoons fighting, and to her friends getting back to their feet. “Twilight, I really want to,” she said, voice trembling harder than her hands. “But, what if I lose control?”
Twilight grabbed Sunset by the shoulders and pulled her forward into a powerful, loving kiss. She pulled away and looked at Sunset with a fierce resolve. “You won’t. And if you still don’t believe in yourself, then believe in me—in all of us. We know what you are deep inside. We believe in you!”
Sunset pulled away, giving one more glance to the scene around her. The audience, her friends, perhaps even the whole world was now depending on her.
Yes, tap into this power! Unleash it!
Dark magic. Sunset knew that was all that awaited her. But if she didn’t do something, everyone she knew and loved would perish. I can still make a difference.
Yes you can!
I can beat the Sirens.
I can save my friends! Sunset slipped out of her jacket and handed it to Twilight. “Hold this.” She picked up the fallen microphone and stepped over to the center of the stage. “Pinkie, give me a beat!”
Pinkie grinned and saluted, then gave a steady tap of her drums just as the forcefield fell to pieces.
Sunset narrowed her eyes at the looming monsters. Something swelled within her heart. Dark or light, she couldn’t say, but it rose through her and shined in the words of her song.
“You’re never gonna bring me down!
“You’re never break this part of me!”
Adagio stopped her onslaught of attacks and turned her attention back to Sunset.
“My friends are here to bring me ‘round!
“Not singing just for popularity!”
Rainbow and Rarity stepped up on either side of her, glowing anew. “We’re here to let you know,
“That we won’t let it go!
“Our music is a bomb and it’s about to blow!”
“And you can try to fight,
“But we have got the light,
“Of friendship on our side!”
A new rainbow wave burst across the field, pushing the Sirens back to their stage. Their human bodies cringed and desperately clutched their pendants, and the crimson glow faded from Adagio’s eyes, replaced for the first time by uncertainty. Behind her, the Crystal Heart slowed once more, and its red light dimmed.
Now, it was Sunset’s turn to press her attack, her friends right behind her. Their voices rang out in singular harmony. “Got the music in our hearts!
“We’re here to blow this thing apart!
“And together, we will never be afraid of the dark!”
Shimmering dust swirled up around Sunset, lifting her off the ground. She hesitated in the song for a second when she felt the magic pulse through her. Her heart hammered in her chest, and she forced herself to think only about Twilight and her friends. The magic pulsed again, this time, coalescing in a golden aura around her body.
It didn’t shock and burn her like the crown had. It didn’t drag all her worst features to the surface and drown her in the darkness of her own desire. No, it soothed her, filled her with light and resolve, and encouraged her to keep singing.
“Here to sing our song out loud!
“Get you dancing with the crowd!
“As the music of our friendship,
The magic took hold of Sunset, tickling her as her ears vanished and reformed on top of her head in their equine state. Her hair lengthened into a ponytail that dropped down to her ankles, and her golden aura expanded to envelope her friends and lift them back into the air. Sunset looked down at Twilight, who smiled with pride and fantastic awe. Sunset reached a hand down, and Twilight took it, the golden glow spreading across her too and lifting her up to Sunset.
Seven voices sang as one, “Got the music in our hearts!
“We’re here to blow this thing apart!
“And together, we will never,
“Be afraid of the dark!”
The golden glow turned the purest white, and a rainbow shot into the air above them, rapidly gathering clouds against the grim sky.
Adagio screamed with fury, and her beast responded in turn, only to be cut off mid roar by a bright light emanating behind her. The Crystal Heart had stopped moving entirely, and instead of red, it now shone a beautiful blue. It began to spin in the opposite direction, faster and faster until it was only a blur. A wave of azure pulsed from the heart and swept over the crowd, banishing the hypnotic hold over them. The mob around the Lulamoons look confused for a moment before being swept up in the spectacle happening on the field. In an instance, the entire arena cheered and even sang along with the Rainbooms.
“Here to sing our song out loud!
“Get you dancing with the crowd!
“As the music of our friendship,
“Survives, survives, survives!”
Sunset looked above them and almost dropped her mike. She marveled at the most impossible sight she had ever seen; a magnificent white alicorn, sparkling like stardust, and with a mane comprised of all the colors of the rainbow emerged from the clouds. It spread its wings over the stadium and pointed its glowing horn down at the Sirens.
“Celestia?” Sunset said in whispered amazement.
The alicorn reared its front legs and let out an ethereal whinny before tossing its head forward and unleashing a beam of light upon the Sirens. They screamed in agony, their projections crumbling to pieces while their human forms raised their hands like they could block out the light. Above their wails, the sound of shattering jewels echoed through the stadium.
When all the lights faded away, the stadium was left in an eerie calm. The sky had returned to normal, the celestial alicorn fading into nothing. The Sirens laid on stage, wings and ears gone, and the shattered remains of their jewels in front of them.
Adagio pushed herself onto her hands and knees and looked at the shards like they were her deceased dog. She gathered some up in her hands and got to her feet. Sonata and Aria looked uncertain, but they did the same and cleared their throats.
“We WiLl Be AdOrEd!
“TeLl Us ThAt YoU wAnT uS!”
Boos and jeers from the crowd immediately drowned out their caterwauling. Popcorn and hot dogs were hurled onto the stage, splattering the Sirens with condiments. They backed up, tears in their eyes, then ran off the stage as fast as they could.
The crowd’s attention turned back to the Rainbooms, and a roar of ovation rippled through the air. Standing on the ground again, their pony features still activated, the girls smiled and waved.
Sunset took a deep breath, broken by the giggle she couldn’t suppress. “You know, it’s nice to not be on the receiving end of that rainbow.”
Twilight half-hugged, half-tackled her. “See? I told you you were good!”
Rainbow put an arm around Sunset’s neck and pulled her into another hug. “Way to go, Shimmer! You really came through this time!”
“Your singing voice is fantastic, darling!” Rarity said.
Sunset laughed. “I don’t know. It’s not as good as Fluttershy’s.”
Fluttershy tried to hide her blush with her tambourine.
“We all did a great job,” Applejack said. “Ah don’t think we’ll have to worry about those Sirens anytime soon.”
Rainbow raised a fist. “And if they do show up again, they’ll have to deal with the most awesome group of friends in existence!”
Pinkie stood from her seat and yelled into the mike, “We are the Spectacular Seven! Good night!”
Artemis’ boisterous laugh was the first thing Sunset heard upon exiting the underground hall. “That was, as you girls so aptly put, spectacular!” He limped over and pulled Sunset into a hug.
Sunset gently wrapped her arms around him. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”
“Thanks to all of you.” He stepped back and leaned on Trixie again. “You all showed such bravery and magic! I’m proud of each and every one of you.”
Cheers rang out through the hall, and mobs of fans ran from around the corner, heading straight for the Spectacular Seven. The security guards jumped in front of them, keeping the tide back.
“You girls rock!”
“How’d you do all those cool effects!”
“Sunset, marry me!”
The guards held them at bay while the girls made their retreat out the back of the coliseum. Selena looked over her shoulder with an amused eyebrow raised. “Either they’re really dedicated to their jobs, or they conveniently forgot I beat them to a pulp half an hour ago.”
Once in the parking lot, they found there was nothing to protect them from the jubilant swarm anymore. Kids and teenagers ran up to ask for an autograph or a picture. Some asked if they were going on tour, and a few even asked what happened to the Sirens.
Sunset pondered it herself. The Lulamoons had been too tired to chase after them, but had recovered a few remains of their ruby necklaces when they took back the Crystal Heart. Without them, it looked like the Sirens had no power, but Sunset still found herself weary.
She couldn’t focus on it too long though. Fan after fan ran up and asked her to sign something. She had never received attention like this before: honest admiration and adoration. It left butterflies in her stomach in the most pleasant of ways.
The night only got better as Flash and the Crusaders eventually pushed their way to the front of the crowd. The Crusaders ran to their respective sisters in tears, hugging them and apologizing profusely.
“Ah don’t know what we were thinkin’!”
“I’m so sorry for saying I hated you!”
“We’ll do anything to make up for it!”
Applejack just squeezed her little sister in the tightest hug she could muster. “Forget about it, A.B. It wasn’t your fault. Ah’m just glad everythin’s back to normal.”
“Speak for yourself,” Rainbow said. She looked Scootaloo dead in the eye. “You wanna make things up to me, squirt?”
Scootaloo bowed her head. “Yeah. I’m really sorry—”
“Upbupbup!” Rainbow held a hand out. “I don’t wanna hear it. Here’s what you gotta do to make things right.” She lifted Scootaloo’s head up and grinned. “You. Me. Soccer. Tomorrow. Bring as many water bottles as you can, ‘cause I’m gonna put you through the work out of your life!”
Scootaloo broke into a grin of her own and hugged Rainbow around the middle. “Ma’am, yes, ma’am!”
Flash shuffled his way toward Rarity, engrossed in a tearful hug with Sweetie Belle. He patiently waited until they were done before trying to speak. “Rarity, I…” He rubbed the back of his head. “You know I didn’t…” He tried to smile. “You sounded awesome.”
Rarity crossed her arms. “Is this your way of apologizing?”
“No! I mean, I am apologizing, but like, not just by saying I’m sorry. Which I totally am! But I wanted to do more than that because I kinda acted like a jerk and—”
Rarity put a finger on his lips. “It wasn’t your fault. But, if you really want to make it up to me, you can start with dinner,” she said, eyes lidded.
“Gag me,” Sunset said.
Flash looked in her direction and held a hand to his face. “Man, Sunset. I don’t even know where to begin to apologize to you.”
Sunset walked over to him, raised a fist, and slugged his shoulder. “There. Call it even.”
Flash tried to laugh as he rubbed his new bruise. “All right, that’s fair.”
Artemis gave a weak limp of his arm. “Well, this has been one extraordinary night! I say, we go out to eat as a celebration! You’re all invited!”
Selena looked incredulously at him. “Artemis, your fingers are broken! You need to go to a hospital!”
“Hospital? Pffft, that’s why we have magic at home. Besides, I haven’t eaten a decent meal in Lord knows how long.”
Trixie helped him to the car, Selena fussing the entire way. The others followed close behind, with Sunset and Twilight bringing up the rear. With everyone still trying to leave, walking through the crowd was slow going, and for a while, neither of them said anything.
Twilight kept her eyes forward, but leaned a little closer to Sunset. “You know… even when I was mad and spending all that time with Moondancer… I couldn’t stop thinking about you.”
Sunset looked over. “Really?”
“Mmhmm. Some part of me always knew what I was doing was wrong. I just couldn’t focus on it. My mind just kept on coming up with reasons why you were wrong.”
“Don’t beat yourself up over it.” Sunset squeezed her hand. “Magic is tough to overcome. And hey, you snapped out of it, right?”
Twilight adjusted her glasses. “Yeah. I just wish I knew why.” She fell silent for a second, then cleared her throat. “But, um, where I was going with that was, well…” Twilight’s cheeks turned red. “I think Moondancer likes me.”
Sunset stopped and put on her best surprised face. “Noooooooo! Really?”
“Really! I’m just as shocked as you!”
“Are you sure?” Sunset asked, fighting not to smile.
“I think so! I mean, nothing happened between us, I promise, but just, the way she talks about me and looks at me sometimes…”
“Wow, this is so unexpected! I never would have been able to guess this!”
“Right? I can’t believe she has a crush on me and you’re being sarcastic, aren’t you?”
“Me? Of course not!” Sunset finally broke and laughed at Twilight’s trying-to-be-aggravated stare. “I’m sorry, it’s just way too easy!”
Twilight sighed and shook her head. “How long have you known?”
“Since she first walked down the hall.”
Twilight took Sunset’s hand again and started after the others. “Well, I’m glad you’re taking this all in stride. I was afraid you might be a little jealous.”
“Nah,” Sunset said, trying to convince herself of the lie. “You picked me. And if you still thought about me while being influenced by hypnotic creatures from another world, then I think we’re in a good place.”
They stopped again, and Twilight leaned up to kiss her. Sunset stroked Twilight’s hair, while Twilight kept a hand on the small of Sunset’s back. The taste of watermelon chapstick danced on Sunset’s lips. For the moment, it was the best taste in the world.
“I missed you,” Twilight said when they broke apart.
“I missed you too.”
Moondancer leaned against the front gate, nursing her headache as she watched the ‘Spectacular Seven’ bask in their victory, swarmed by adoring fans and showered with praise. At least Twilight was counted among them. Sure, this could have been a victory for herself, but no, not today. Moondancer’s triumph would come another day.
She closed her eyes and sighed, continuing to massage her temples. Hot tea; that would be the first thing she asked for upon arriving back to the manor. She cracked an eye open and frowned at the sight of Twilight walking away with Sunset. Her head throbbed again at the same moment, but she bore it. A little mental agony was a small price to pay to see her sweet star unscathed, even if she was still in the clutches of another vile creature. For how long she had maintained that mental warding spell for Twilight, Moondancer was grateful a migraine was all she got.
She rested her head back and closed her eyes. Fortune proved bittersweet tonight. On one hand, the Sirens had been defeated without Moondancer having to play her cards too early. How fortunate was she to discover that within Canterlot there were six more magic wielders in addition to her family? Sure, they were mediocre at best, and nearly gave Moondancer a heart attack with how close they came to losing. But, they solved the problem for her, allowing her to return her attention back to the real goal.
And the Rainbooms, or rather, the Spectacular Seven, had put on an entertaining show… in a plebeian sort of way.
Moondancer sighed. On the other hand, she had pushed Twilight back to Sunset. The price paid to stop the Sirens from becoming even larger pains in Moondancer’s side. It had agonized Moondancer to see Twilight hypnotized by dark magic, but at the same time, it had brought them closer together. Now, Twilight was free from their spell, but back under Sunset Shimmer’s.
“Oh, how you vex me, Sunset.” Moondancer lowered her head in time to see the demon’s vivid hair vanish into the crowd. “What sort of sorcery is this that you wield?” She narrowed her eyes. “Hide behind all the light you wish; I see your darkness. And someday, I’ll make Twilight see it too.” She stood up, keeping two fingers against her temple.
Her own magic was not strong enough yet, but soon, it would be. She slowly stepped away from the stadium, pulling her cellphone from the folds of her dress. “Enjoy your victory now, Sunset. Because when everything is said and done, I will be the only one basking in the applause of the world.”