The Song That Makes You Lose It

by forbloodysummer

Option 2i – Know This:

Sonata Dusk wasn’t quite sure what she was feeling. She was so proud of Aria for finally saying yes to a hug, and she was relieved that her sisters had agreed to stop fighting. But she had lost her gem. All three of them had. And that sadness wasn’t going away, and it dragged the happy bits down. Maybe that was how it felt to be Aria, all the time, only with angry instead of sad? Like, whenever something good happened, like when Sonata had cooked them a big-meat battle breakfast that morning, it should have made Aria happy, but instead it just made her a bit less grumpy for five minutes. Sometimes when Aria was talking, Sonata liked to close her eyes and imagine Aria as a talking grey cloud with a frowny face. It made her happy thinking that Aria would never know about that, and that whatever mean things she said, Sonata could always go away and giggle about Aria just being a cloud who’s angry because it’s all full of rain. But she loved her sister anyway, because a rain cloud couldn’t help being a rain cloud, and if it could then nocloud would water the plants.

Right then, Aria reminded her of a streaky cloud high in the sky on a cold, clear day. The kind of cloud that looked like thin strands of white hair. A cirrus cloud, she remembered. Sonata liked clouds, and she’d read about them on the internet after hearing that singer singing so prettily about them, even if it didn’t make much sense to her how a human could see a cloud from both sides, when they couldn’t even fly!

Anyway, where was she? Oh yeah: Aria was looking happier, and that was because they’d all agreed to work together to find the best thing to do next. But without their jewels, none of them would keep their happiness for long, and so Sonata thought the best thing to do would be to find a way to fix their jewels before they all got sad again. She knew that they might not be able to fix them, but she wanted to try really hard first, just in case there was a way. Hadn’t Adagio said something about fixing them earlier?

“You said we might be able to fix our jewels if we could get to Equestria?” Sonata asked.

Adagio pulled a face like she had trodden on something sharp. Sonata wasn’t worried, though, nobody was better at planning than her big sister, and if there was any way they could sing again, she knew Adagio would find it. There wasn’t much they could do for now, as Adagio had said she hadn’t got a plan, but Sonata knew that if she and Aria asked the right questions, and helped choose the best ideas, then Adagio would find a way to turn them into a plan, and then the three of them would know what to do.

“I said we’d have more of a chance there than here, but there are so many problems that I hardly know where to begin.”

“Ok,” Aria answered while Sonata was still thinking of what to suggest, “so what’s the biggest problem, aside from the obvious?”

Once she would have said that I was the biggest problem. In fact Aria had said that, in the kitchen the day before. Sonata had answered at the time by grabbing fruit from the bowl and throwing it at Aria, but inside she’d wished that she wasn’t the biggest problem the three of them had. She didn’t think she always was, but the other two got so shouty with her that she knew that was what they thought sometimes. And when she’d been wishing, she’d meant for her to be less of a problem, not for a bigger one to come trundling along so that she didn’t look so bad when she stood next to it.

“That once we reached Equestria, we’d revert to our 20-foot siren forms,” Adagio said, “which would lose us the ability to infiltrate and deceive.”

Sometimes Sonata missed being a siren. Well, she knew she was still a siren, but she hadn’t looked like one since they’d arrived in that world. It had felt so good earlier in the evening when they had gathered enough Equestrian magic to be able to make their siren bodies in the air. And they’d grown wings on their real bodies, too; she wasn’t sure what that was all about. Being shot at with butterflies hadn’t been so nice, but just feeling the wind on her scales again had been the best thing. And she’d mostly forgotten about the butterflies until thinking of it that moment, as their siren bodies smashing into pieces – and then their necklaces too – had been way worse than anything.

“Combat advantage, though,” Aria said, licking her lips like they were shopping for ice cream. “Size, strength, scales and teeth.”

“True,” Adagio agreed, and Sonata noticed that doing so made Aria smile in a way that really showed how much that hug had helped, “but any skills we’d gain for physical intimidation would be countered by the magic users there, who we no longer have a weapon against.”

So if they went back to Equestria without their jewels, even normal unicorns would be able to push them around? That just wasn’t right! They were sirens; ponies weren’t meant to be able to do anything to them. Even that stupidbeard pony wizard only managed to send them far away, he hadn’t actually managed to hurt them. Did that mean they weren’t really sirens anymore?

No, sirens were what they were deep down, that wouldn’t change just because they couldn’t sing, would it? And Adagio would find a way for them to sing again; so they couldn’t be sirens, then not be sirens, and then be sirens again, could they? That would be silly. So of course they would always be sirens, even if they couldn’t sing at that moment.

Adagio carried on, “We need to pass unseen more than ever before. We’ve got used to looking like those we’re living among, but that’s useless since there are no other sirens in Equestria. Thanks to Sonata, we know that there were once three sirens in this world, but they died thousands of years ago.”

Sonata giggled quietly to herself at the funny feeling in her cheeks as Adagio said something nice about her, and then thought back to the afternoon they’d learned about the other sirens. She could see the scene perfectly in her head, just as clearly as when it had happened.

She was lying on her tummy on her bed, painting her nails silver and sparkly. The door was open, and she could hear the music Aria was listening to loudly in the next room. It was something fast and messy, with noisy guitars and raspy singing, and Sonata hummed along with the chorus. But some of the words in the verse made no sense, and so once the song was done she got up and went to see Aria about it. She had to raise her voice to be heard over the next track starting up.

“Hey, Aria? What was that last song about?”

Aria looked up from sitting at her desk in front of her computer, and pulled a nasty face as she saw Sonata standing in the doorway between their bedrooms.

“The three-word repeating chorus didn’t give it away?” she crossed her arms, reaching her leg out to kick her door closed in Sonata’s face. A second later, Sonata heard the music get louder from behind the door as Aria turned it up.

Knowing Aria would just start shouting if Sonata opened the door and tried talking to her again, she instead headed downstairs, feeling her feet sinking into the fluffy white carpet. Adagio was in the lounge, sitting sideways on the bigger of the two sofas, leaning back against the armrest with her legs stretched out in front of her over the next seat. She had her laptop on her lap (which was probably a good place for something called a laptop), and a glass of red wine stood on the coffee table, perched on one of the coasters covered in pictures of tropical fish that Sonata had picked out.

That had been a fun few days choosing furniture stuff, when Adagio had given her some catalogues and a credit card, and told her to order things online for the house. The coasters were one of her favourite bits, and although Aria had said they were pointless and stupid, Sonata had seen her sister staring at them sometimes, looking like she was thinking of home.

Adagio looked up as Sonata came down the stairs, giving a smile and then going back to her laptop. The white fluffy bathrobe Adagio wore matched the carpet, which made the expensive black cordovan of the sofa look even darker, although the blue jeans that peeked out from under the robe didn’t really match anything.

“Adagio?” Sonata asked, moving to stand in front of the table with her knees together and smoothing her skirt, “Can I ask you something please?”

Without looking away from the screen, Adagio reached for her wine. She often did that when Sonata came to speak to her; maybe it was so her mouth didn’t get dry when answering Sonata’s questions? Sonata didn’t like wine, as it made her tongue go funny. White wine was worse, though. It wasn’t even white, like milk was; white wine was a silly greenish clear colour, and it tasted like bottom feeders.

“What is it, Sonata?” Adagio said, setting her laptop down, turning her head in Sonata’s direction and rolling over so she was lying on her side, but leaning an elbow on the armrest. She didn’t look bored, but not interested either.

“Aria’s listening to a song, but I don’t understand what the words mean.” It kind of sounded silly when Sonata said it out loud, like it wasn’t something she should be bothering Adagio with. Realising that, Sonata added a slightly guilty, embarrassed smile.

There was a long pause as Adagio raised the wine glass to her lips and drank, keeping her eyes locked on Sonata’s own while doing so. Held there by that look, Sonata felt more and more like she was wasting Adagio’s time, especially when she knew Adagio was busy planning their move on the school where the rainbow magic was hiding. When Adagio at last did answer, she didn’t frown or smile, just kept her voice flat like she was trying to say the words without any feelings along with them.

“Mammals are the group of animals that humans belong to, but so do cats, cows, elephants, and many others. Ponies, too. The Discovery Channel is–”

“Not that song,” Sonata interrupted, looking guilty again, “I mean the one about free running, or whatever it is.” How come Adagio didn’t know the song I meant, when Aria was playing it so loudly? And that was when Sonata noticed just how quiet it was where she stood, even though Aria was probably still playing her music just as loudly as before.

Ohhhhhh.... The soundproofing! All that special stuff Adagio had insisted they had put into the walls and ceilings before they first moved in, and cost so much they’d had to add a couple of extra days to the week they’d spent sorting out money things. Adagio had said it would be good so that they could practise their singing day or night without disturbing each other, but now Sonata wondered if Adagio had actually wanted it so badly so that she’d be able to relax quietly in the lounge however loudly Aria was playing her music upstairs.

“Ok?” Adagio said, in that voice that said she was waiting, but not for long, and Sonata panicked and made sure she was concentrating fully and not getting distracted. What was it she needed to say? Oh, right, the song thing. Yep, that was it.

“It said about spending the night in jail, but then it said listening to the sirens’ whale. But,” Sonata scrunched up her face, trying to puzzle it out, “we don’t have a whale.”

She wouldn’t mind if they did have one (she could speak whale). She remembered swimming among the whale pods from time to time in Equestria, joining in with their songs when they were in the shallows, but staying away when they went out into the deep, where the terrorsquid might have been waiting.

When Adagio answered, it sounded like she was trying talk the way people with dummies did, with their teeth stuck together. She was still moving her lips though, so Sonata wasn’t too impressed, and would have easily been able to tell it was her talking and not the dummy.

“They mean ‘wail,’ as in crying, screaming or moaning.”

Why would the whale be crying? Was it ok? No, wait a minute, that’s not what Adagio meant. If the song said wail when talking about making sad noises, then there was no whale. There never had been, even. Sonata felt a bit sad about that. She kind of preferred it her way. And now she’d thought of it, she did rather want a whale.

Just forget about the whale! That was the part of her brain that was trying to concentrate on the conversation, and it wasn’t often happy about how easily she got distracted.

Ok, so if there had never been a whale...

What did I just say?

It’s ok, I’m concentrating, I’m handling it!

...Then what had been doing the wailing? She played the song back in her mind, following the words. Listen to the...

Sirens! It was them that had been wailing! Suddenly it all made sense! ...Didn’t it?

“Oh right,” she nodded, and noticed that although Adagio still held her wine glass, there was quite a bit less liquid in it than before, so Sonata might have been standing there thinking for a while, and in the meantime Adagio must have drunk more without Sonata noticing. “But why would we be doing that?”

The moment she said it, Sonata could tell she shouldn’t have done. Adagio was looking up at her, with annoyed eyebrows, like she had much more important things to be doing than talking to Sonata about some song Aria had on. Which, Sonata, then realised, was kind of true. With her cheeks tingling, Sonata was just about to back slowly away from Angry Adagio and go back up to her room when–

Everything changed.

Eyebrows on Adagio dragged down even further, and she looked off to the floor at one side. She didn’t look angry anymore, though, she looked... puzzled? Like she was trying to figure out where the whole bowl of chocolate trifle had gone even though she’d just sat down with a spoon in front of the TV.

“...Yes,” Adagio said, looking back up at Sonata, with her head leaned to one side like a puppy. “Why would we?”

Sonata wasn’t quite sure what was happening, and it was made doubly scary by the way Adagio was looking at her while searching for an answer, when Sonata knew she didn’t have one to give. She hoped it was just that Adagio was after an answer generally, and just happened to be looking towards her at the time.

Before Sonata could even think about thinking of something to say in reply, Adagio’s hands shot out and grabbed her laptop, pulling it onto her lap again and hammering away at the keys without pausing.

“‘Siren,’” Adagio said out loud as she typed, and then looked closer at the screen to read out whatever the machine had come up with. “A device that makes a loud prolonged signal or warning sound.”

Huh? I don’t even...

“That doesn’t sound like us,” Sonata said, rocking on her feet and watching Adagio’s face for clues about what was going on.

The only warning sound or signal she could think of a siren making was the cross ‘urgh!’ noise Aria would make just before hitting something or someone, which Sonata had learned to listen out for and sometimes even managed to pick up on in time to get out of the way.

“No, indeed,” Adagio said, her eyes still on the screen and zipping side to side. Even though she often managed it when answering Sonata’s questions, it was amazing how Adagio could read and talk at the same time. Sometimes Sonata found it hard enough just to concentrate on doing one of those things, never mind both at once. “It must get the name from somewhere though,” Adagio added, looking up at Sonata quickly before diving at her laptop’s keyboard again, frowning down at the screen as she did.

“Ah, here we are,” Adagio said a moment later, “‘Siren (mythology).’” Then she went quiet, reading the screen to herself.

It was always a bit of a scary thing if Adagio went quiet when she and Sonata were having a conversation; it usually meant she was about to explode. If Adagio was just reading, and not doing anything at the same time like talking, then whatever she was reading must have been very important.

So, the sirens talked about in the song were the loud warning noise kind? And they were wailing because they were... sad... about warning people? Maybe Aria wouldn’t tell me what the words were about because she didn’t know either! She always acts like she knows so much more than me, but maybe–

Sonata jumped, nearly knocked over backwards by the impact. Looking up, she saw Adagio sitting up, singing a pure note of sound energy towards the ceiling.

Sonata knew she couldn’t see sounds, because they didn’t work like that and that was what ears were for anyway, but it felt like she could almost spot the waves of Adagio’s voice bursting out of her mouth in a tight cone pointed upwards. If it was that loud where she was standing, it must be much louder where Adagio’s voice was pointing: Aria’s room, straight above them.

Adagio stopped, but Sonata was still thinking about it when she heard the door click open at the top of the stairs, and then Aria stomp down to join them.

“Even with the soundproofing, that’s still painfully loud, Adagio. What’s so urgent you’d summon me down like that?”

“Sonata’s found something,” Adagio said without looking up from the screen. Found something? Her?! She felt something swelling up in her chest like a balloon. Was that pride? She grinned at Aria standing beside her, chiming with laughter as her grumpy sister folder her arms and took on Aria Grump Pose number three.

“Her self-respect? Her mythical second brain cell? Might need a little more to go on here.”

“Ooh, is it Nemo?” Sonata exclaimed as the idea hit her. “Did I find Nemo? I’m a blue fish,” she told Aria, closing her eyes, lifting her chin and puffing her chest out like a proud cat, “it’s what we do.”

Sonata was happily wondering if that meant she’d get to meet the cool sea turtle as well, but snapped her eyes open again the moment she heard Adagio’s ‘this is important’ voice, which hadn’t been used since the first night after they were banished. Not the ‘pay attention, you two, this is important’ one that was frowny and hard to disagree with, but the scary important one, because Adagio didn’t sound like she was acting, and was just as shaken as they were about to be.

“We are not alone,” Adagio said. Before any questions could be asked or other reactions reacted, Adagio span her laptop around and held it up in their direction so they could see.

A picture took up the whole screen, one that looked like it had been painted by hand by a painter who really knew what they were doing. Sonata could see the water drops on the rocks as if they were right in front of her (instead of right in front of her in a painting on a screen); and the waves crashing against them, sending walls of water high into the dark sky on either side of the rocks, were painted to look so real she felt she could hear the roar of the sea in her ears, and feel the spray swirling around her in the air.

The most important bit of the painting, though, was the three figures lying on the rocks in the middle: one blue, one purple, and one gold.

“How is this possible?” Aria asked, while Sonata tried tilting her head to see if the picture would make more sense to her from other angles. It didn’t.

“When were we singing on the rocks since we got here?” she wondered out loud. She certainly couldn’t remember doing that since Equestria, and her memory was usually as good for that sort of thing as any siren’s (which Adagio had said was way better than most humans’), even if she did forget what she was doing sometimes when she was in the middle of doing it.

“We weren’t,” Adagio said, in the same voice as before, “this was painted nearly three thousand years ago, on the Magna Graecian coast, near Messana.”

Three thousand years? But the three of them were only eighteen years old! Sonata knew she wasn’t very good at maths, but...

She ‘hmmmed’ to herself as she turned the problem over in her mind, which got her an annoyed look from Aria. She thought it was probably better than what Aria had been doing until that point, though: standing there biting the inside of her cheek as she thought. That was silly; thinking was painful enough as it was – chewing your own face wouldn’t help!

“Could the spell have sent us to the future?” Sonata asked. Silly unicorn wizards weren’t really strong enough to do that, were they? There must have been some other answer for the eighteen years vs three thousand thing, right?

Sonata was a bit surprised when Adagio didn’t laugh at the suggestion or look disgusted by it, so maybe it wasn’t as dumb an idea as she’d thought. What Adagio did do was move the laptop back to her lap again, quickly bashing some keys and clicking stuff with the touch pad thing. She then read whatever page she’d found, telling them what it said as she did so.

“Three millennia ago in that part of the world, King Pyrrhus drove back the Romans from Magna Graecia, never again to secure a foothold there.” Sonata saw Adagio’s eyes drop lower down the screen as she skipped to the next bit worth saying. “...Time went on, Greece and Rome became allies... They remained so until Rome fell, about fifteen hundred years ago...” None of this made much difference to Sonata, and she didn’t really understand why Adagio was saying it in the first place, but there was probably some important reason that would be obvious by the time Adagio was done. There normally was.

“Their pantheons of gods were combined over the centuries and spread throughout the world...” Adagio carried on, then skipping even further down the page, “...and were ultimately abandoned around seven hundred years ago, when science came to prominence.”

Standing there trying to think stuff through (and probably looking just as confused as she felt), no new answers came to Sonata as Adagio finished reading and put the laptop to one side on the coffee table, turned so that all three of them could see the picture of the painting on the screen. Sonata almost sighed happily when Adagio’s next line sounded more like her old self.

“But there’s nothing here about having evolved from magical talking ponies during that timeframe, so no, we’re not just in future Equestria.”

She could have just said that... But then Aria often got annoyed if Adagio didn’t explain what was going on and how she knew stuff, so maybe Adagio was being nice and hoping Aria would help think of answers with them.

On Sonata’s right, Aria now bent over forwards to look closely at the picture on the laptop, holding herself up with her hands on her knees, her nose only a few nose-lengths away from the screen.

“It’s unmistakeably us,” she said without looking around, “but we’ve never looked like that.” Sonata leaned in beside her, trying to see more closely but taking care not to get in Aria’s way. She also looked back to make sure she wasn’t blocking Adagio’s view, but saw Adagio sitting upright on the sofa looking straight ahead, doing her thinking face.

“Gossamer wings,” Aria pointed, “pony ears, glowing red eyes.”

“Longer hair, too,” Sonata added, glad to be able to contribute something helpful when they were all a bit stuck.

“Oh that’s good, I really thought we were lacking in the hair department.”

No, we’ve got, like, loads more of it than all the other humans we’ve seen, so that’s not– oooh! Was Aria doing that thing where she said something but meant the opposite of it, which definitely wasn’t confusing? Yeah, like that, ‘definitely not confusing!’ I have so got this! Sarcasm, that was the one.

All the same, Sonata thought maybe it would be best not to mention that Aria sort of only half had longer hair, with her bunches the same length as they always were, only now with a long straight bit of hair hanging down between them, which looked kinda weird. Yeah, no, she wasn’t gonna say that out loud to Aria.

“So that’s us,” Sonata said, pointing at the painting on the screen, “but not us?”

It sounded stupid and probably impossible, but it was the only way she could think of to explain it that fit with everything they knew. She wasn’t sure if it made it all more or less confusing though.

Adagio whispered something from her spot on the sofa, and Sonata straightened back up to look at her again and concentrate on what she was saying, because it sounded a lot like she’d whispered ‘a world without shrimp.’ Sonata hadn’t seen anything else helpful about the painting anyway, and a moment later Aria stopped leaning down too, standing beside her and giving Adagio the ‘wat’ look normally saved for when Sonata tried new ways of mixing foods together at dinner. Even though sometimes it worked really well!

Sonata felt her mouth go a bit dry looking at Adagio, who still hadn’t moved from how she’d been staring at the wall in front of her, and must have spoken without looking round either. Sonata didn’t get a good feeling from that, as Adagio was usually really good at thinking of stuff while the three of them were in the middle of things, and then just lead them through it as they went, instead of needing time to work on it on her own beforehand.

Once Adagio realised Sonata and Aria were standing there watching her again, she shook her head and blinked a few times, like a fluffy bunny rabbit waking up. And then she smiled! A nice little smile as she looked up at them that said she thought she had an answer. Sonata pressed her hand against her heart in relief, and knew that everything would be ok.

“It came up in one of those shows we watched a few weeks ago to learn about life in high school,” Adagio said. “A different version of a familiar character appeared, from a world where different choices had been made. A parallel universe, they called it.”

Once Adagio had said it, Sonata remembered some of the details: the nerdy girl had shown up wearing black leather, and that meant she was bad now (and that was when Adagio had forbidden any of them from wearing anything black or leathery when made their move on the school, once they were done preparing). But soon the show had then had the girl in leather standing next to her normal self, so they’d been two different people even though they were the same person.

Again, Adagio picked up her laptop and set it down on her lap. “Ok, ‘parallel universe,’” she said as she hit a few keys, and then sat reading the screen for a couple of seconds. “A hypothetical self-contained reality co-existing with one’s own.”

I think I understood most of that... maybe? Most of the words on their own, at least, but together they sort of just made word soup. Adagio moved the laptop back to where it had been before, so all three of them could see it. The screen showed a white page covered in small black writing, with a bigger heading in the top left saying ‘Parallel Universe.’ Sonata again leaned in closer to read more clearly, noticing her sisters doing the same.

The few minutes that followed for Sonata had her standing there reading the screen and trying to turn the words and ideas over in her head, building them into a picture she could use and understand. It felt like doing a jigsaw puzzle, like the one Adagio had bought her of the world map to help learn the names of the different countries, only this was less like the pieces were neatly cut and meant to fit together in a particular way, and more like blobs of scrambled eggs she was mushing together in a frying pan like she was trying to rebuild the original unbroken egg.

She giggled to herself on the inside at the thought of trying to mend an egg.

She knew Adagio and Aria probably got a lot more of the writing on the page than she did, and that was fine ‘cause they were good at that kind of stuff and she could always ask one of them if she needed to know for anything she was doing, but she at least followed that there would be different copies of the same world, which all started out the same, but where different things happening back in the past had led to the present being a bit different for each copy. Like maybe in one world men wore skirts and women wore trousers, that sort of thing?

Eventually Aria spoke, straightening up slowly as she did so.

“So the unicorn exiled us to an alternate reality,” she said, then nodded towards the screen as Adagio flicked it back to the painting again, “and they’re the ones originally from here.”

Sonata stood back up too, from where she’d been crouching on the floor to read the screen without getting in the others’ way, and felt her knees complaining about being kept folded for that long. She watched Adagio sinking back into her seat and stretching her back, saying nothing but clearly agreeing.

That’s the answer, then? There are copies of us already in this world?

It was good to have an answer to the problem and to have solved the mystery and stuff, but also, there were three more sirens out there! And one of them was another Sonata Dusk! She could go find them and introduce herself – well, they’d recognise her, of course, but, oh, that would mean she’d have to explain where she came from and how she got there, and that meant studying stuff to make sure she got it right. But then she might have a siren sister she never fought with, like a twin but even better! And they could do all kinds of fun things together that Aria and Adagio never wanted to do like take loads of selfies of them in different outfi–

No, hang on, there’s a problem here.

If the other sirens could take selfies, why hadn’t they done that instead of being painted? ...Why? Umm, think, Sonata, think! Why would anyone want a painting instead of a photo? Because they were old-fashioned and stuff? Or, no, not old-fashioned, old! They had a painting done because it was too long ago for selfies to be a thing. In fact it was aaaages ago, the other sirens would be, like, ancient by now.

Oh, no, wait. They’d be dead by now.

Huh. No twin for me then. Sonata stared down at her hands, wondering how she’d lost a sister she never had. Three sisters, really, that she wouldn’t ever get to meet, since the other Aria and Adagio would have been just as old. But why? Why were they so old when she, and her proper sisters, were still so young?

“But why are we here now,” she asked out loud, finding no answer on her own, “when they were so long ago?” Seeing her sisters both look in her direction as she spoke, she continued, “If they’re us, shouldn’t we have the same birthdays or something?”

And then she spotted the look Adagio was giving her. Adagio had never looked at her like that before! That was the look Adagio did when she was impressed. Like, really impressed, the kind of thing that only happened when someone thought of something before she did. Sonata had seen the look directed at Aria once or twice, but had never been on the receiving end of it herself. It almost felt like a mistake for it to be heading her way.

Aria, looking more relaxed as she stood with her hands in her pockets, said, “We suggested time travel; it could have been both.”

One unicorn could send them across parallel universes and through time? That made being defeated by him feel a little less bad, if he had really been that powerful. But Sonata had found it hard to believe that a pony could have that much power when time travel had first been mentioned, so the idea of him doing that and different universes too...? Could all unicorns do that? She didn’t think so, or she and her sisters might have been stopped sooner. So what made that one pony so special?

“In fact,” Adagio said, sounding cunning, as she always did when discussing plans, “if you were trying to banish something to as far away as possible, so it could never return and” – her voice dropped to more of a growl – “wreak the vengeance it promised on you,” she paused for a moment to smile at them, showing all her teeth, “wouldn’t you throw it through distance and time, if you could?”

If she could? Sonata knew Adagio could be pretty scary when angry with her, like all her hair made her seem big and dangerous. Although she’d been just as scary at times like that when they lived in Equestria and none of them had hair, so it couldn’t just be her looking like a lion. Sonata looked at Adagio’s smile, one of the nastiest she’d ever seen from her sister (and much nastier than she’d ever received), and tried to imagine how she’d react if she were a pony wizard receiving that look.

Yeah. Yeah, I’d banish her as far away as I possibly could, and I still wouldn’t feel safe afterwards.

“So,” Aria shrugged, “we’re in a parallel world, three thousand years in the future.” Until she said that, she’d been staring at the carpet off to one side for a while, but as she spoke, she looked up, and seemed ok with it all. Maybe the carpet held hidden answers for how to deal with stuff? Or maybe it was just relaxing to fill everything you could see with fluffy white carpet, like a nice warm blanket for thinking that made the bad stuff seem not quite as bad, and also got rid of all the distractions so you could just work on how to make the bad stuff go away completely?

Maybe that was why Sonata liked clouds, which were also white and fluffy? Apart from clouds being pretty, anyway. Although the white carpet did look very nice too, so maybe they both did both things. Didn’t pegasus ponies use actual clouds for carpets? And if they really were good for thinking, did that make pegasi super-smart? ...Was that why Adagio suggested the white carpet to begin with, when Sonata had been picking furniture stuff?

“Looks like,” Adagio nodded. Neither she nor Aria looked upset about it, but not hugely happy either, apart from perhaps it being good to have an answer. Sonata wasn’t sure what to feel, it was all a bit too strange and far away from her actual life.

“What does that mean?” she asked. Obviously she knew what it meant, they’d just spent ages going on about it, but what did it mean for them? And what would they do now they knew it?

Aria shrugged again, still not taking her hands out of her pockets. “The home we knew is gone, even if we could get back to Equestria now.”

What would have happened to their cove, and Sonata’s little corner of it filled with all the pretty shells and shiny things she’d collected when the three of them were small? Aria said their home was gone, so maybe they wouldn’t even recognise which cove was theirs if they went back.

But they’d left the cove long before they were banished from Equestria, since they’d grown too big for it, so it wasn’t like they could have gone back there anyway. It was still sad, though, knowing the waves would have washed everything away as if she’d never been there at all.

“Everypony we encountered during our Equestrian campaign is dead,” Adagio said, reaching for her glass of wine on the table, which had been left forgotten while they’d all been talking. She sounded serious, like, not sad about it, but like it meant something important to her.

Not so much to Aria, who said, “Meh,” and made her nope-don’t-care face. Sonata kind of agreed; it wasn’t like they had been planning to ever go back there anyway, or knew any of the ponies’ names.

“Including the wizard,” Adagio said back quickly, over the top of her glass before taking a sip.

Oooh, except that one! We knew his name!

Sonata reacted without even thinking about it, taking a step closer to Aria, lifting her hand up and shouting.

“High five!”

A couple of months later, a little way across Canterlot, Sonata Dusk sat in a dirty backstage room on a smelly old sofa covered in food stains, and smiled to herself. That had been such a great day!