"Okay, okay, yes, you can stop screaming now. Umm, hello, I said you can...oh for, B-Turd, will you please shut her up?"
"Don't call me that," the strange girl grumbled. She walked up to Twilight and firmly slapped her across the face. Twilight stopped screaming, stunned, and reached up to hold her cheek.
"Ow," Twilight complained. She looked at the strange girl, then back at the floating unicorn head. She pointed a shaky, trembling finger. "Wh-wha-whaaaa—"
"That's just Pony Head," the other girl said offhandedly. "She's harmless. Pushy, obnoxious, and makes bad life choices, but harmless."
"HEY! I'm right here! ...okay, so it's all true..."
Twilight blinked. "B-buh...but..." She shook her head. "U-unicorns...do that, when their heads are cut off?"
"Cut off?" Pony Head repeated derisively. "Pssh. Girl, I never HAD a body!"
"Yeah, her species doesn't have bodies," the other girl said. "So, question. Where are we, why aren't my dimensional scissors working, and can you fix whatever's blocking them so I can get out of here? I...kinda need to find a way to fix a little mess I got myself in before my mom finds out and flips her lid."
"Which mom?" Pony Head said in a sly, somewhat catty tone.
The girl just sighed deeply.
Twilight shook her head. "I...I'm sorry," she said. "Wherever you came from, there's no way for you to get back there right now. It's a long story. Umm...I'm Twilight Sparkle, and you are...?"
The girl grimaced. "I'm Star...and Marco...umm..." She looked at Pony Head. "Little help here? My mind's still all wobbly from this."
Pony Head snorted. "Okay, so like, this is Princess Star Butterfly of Mewni," she said. "But it's also Marco Diaz, Certified Earth Turd. Long story short, Star messed up a spell and kinda...y'know...mashed herself together with Earth Turd and they turned into this wet blanket."
Twilight blinked. She stared at the girl in front of her. "You're...two people, fused together by a magic spell?"
"Yep," Starco said. "I guess...you can call me Starco, since I'm...y'know...Star and Marco." She shook her head. "Man, this is not how I wanted to get inside Star..."
"What was that?" Pony Head asked quickly.
"NOTHING!" Starco replied VERY quickly, voice high and wavering.
Twilight blinked repeatedly. Shaking her head, she trained her scanner on Starco, then on the wand she held. Her scanner let off a loud alarm, several lights flashing. "Wow," she said. "You're dripping with magic."
"Well, she is the princess of Mewni," Pony Head said derisively. "I mean, duh."
"I...have no idea what Mewni is, sorry," Twilight said. She sighed. "Well, right now I'm dealing with this other crazy mess that just happened, but..." She bit her lip. "If, umm...if you wanna come with, I mean..."
"The more the merrier," Starco said with a shrug. "Come on, Lilacia, let's roll."
"Okay now that's just mean," Pony Head pouted.
* * * * *
Blue eyes met pinkish-red eyes set in a pretty face framed by dark reddish-pink hair. A furious blush spread across both faces even as blood trickled from Conan's nose, which was firmly pillowed between two bare breasts that, while perhaps not the largest breasts he'd ever found himself pressed against, were still quite...robust.
The girl let out an embarrassed yelp and dropped him to the sand, crossing her arms over her chest. "Gyah!"
Two other girls rushed up. "Monica! You okay?"
"Wow, how'd you end up topless again?!"
"HEY! We're not through here-geso!"
Several blue tentacles shot into their midst. Conan blinked, shaking his head, and swept his gaze across the beach to take stock of the situation. The topless girl who'd caught him was shifting around into a defensive position (while still managing to keep an arm across her chest), while the other two girls who'd just arrived stood at her flanks, shielding him from another young girl who stood some distance away. She wore a white dress and had long blue hair which, somehow, was stretching out in a series of long, squid-like tentacles.
The younger and shorter of the two new arrivals picked up a sword which lay on the ground and started hacking away at the tentacles. The other girl pulled out a large gun and fired some kind of grenade at their assailant; it collided with her chest and exploded, throwing her across the beach. The girl with the grenade gun quickly swept Conan up and took off running; he heard the other girl yell something behind them, and two more sets of footfalls fell in rhythm with the girl carrying him.
Conan's mind processed several things as he was jostled by the frantic running.
All three girls were dressed in casual clothes, the kind you'd wear if you were on vacation. Given they'd just been on the beach, they were probably at a beachside hotel. Said hotel must have been the building the alien ship had crashed into. He'd fallen from the bridge of the ship when it started to fall, landed on the beach, fallen into...
Now, the girl with the tentacle hair, he couldn't quite explain. He resolved to wait to get some answers until the three girls calmed down a bit...which didn't seem to be about to happen, as the hotel lobby was a mass of screaming and panic. He was jostled as the girls charged up the stairs, climbing four floors until they leveled out. A few minutes later, they were inside a hotel room, and he was dropped onto a bed. "Okay kid, we're here," the girl holding him said. "But we're about to leave...are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, I can walk or run," Conan said, looking around, getting his first really good look at the girls. The one who'd been carrying him had short brown hair in a stiff, flaring style and wore pink shorts and a sleeveless pink top with pink beach sandals. The shorter, younger girl had her long raven hair tied in two ankle-length ponytails and was wearing a breezy black miniskirt, a powder blue tube top, and white flip-flops. The third, older girl had on tight indigo denim shorts that went halfway down her thighs and white canvas sneakers. She was completely topless, and her back was turned to him as she rummaged through a bag, pulling out a pink T-shirt which she quickly threw on, pulling her long, braided pink-red hair through it. She turned around, her face still flushed, and coughed.
"Umm...okay," she said. "So..." She crouched down to look Conan in the face. "Umm."
Conan felt his blush intensify. "Thanks for catching me," he said. "Umm...I might've gotten hurt if you hadn't broken my fall."
"You mean if her big boobs hadn't acted as an airbag," the brown-haired girl said. The other girl giggled.
The redhead blushed furiously. "Glad I could help," she said sourly. Shaking her head, she said, "Umm...I'm Monica, this is Kooh and Tron."
"Conan," Conan said, slipping his glasses out of his shirt pocket and putting them on.
"You fell out of that ship, right?" Tron asked as she began throwing things into an impossibly small-looking bag.
"Hai," Conan said, nodding. "I...don't know how I got aboard it in the first place. I was chasing somebody..."
"You can tell us all about it later," Kooh said. "We have to get out of here, they're evacuating the hotel."
Conan frowned. "Yeah, I guess they would," he said. "With that ship crashed on the roof, it's not safe to be here."
"It's not crashed so much as fused into the top floors of the hotel," Tron said. "In any case, parts of it are about to start breaking off and falling, so we're getting out of here."
Conan slipped his phone out of his pocket, frowning as he got no signal. "Where are we, anyway?"
"Canterlittle," Monica said.
Conan frowned. "Is that in America?"
The others looked at each other. "Might as well tell him now," Tron said.
Monica sighed and nodded. "Okay. Conan? None of us are from this world. We don't entirely understand how we got here, and the three of us have just been waiting it out here on the beach." She leaned low, her eyes full of compassion. "I'm sorry, but you might not be able to get back to your family for a really long time. Me and my friends can look after you until we find a way to send you home, if you want."
Conan processed this. *That doorway that appeared in the middle of the alley...it led to the alien ship, and then the alien ship became part of this hotel. That means to find my way home, I need to stay close to the ship, but...the ship is about to collapse, and it's not safe to go back up there. And then there's Gin and Vodka...* His jaw tightened. *They've probably already escaped and are far away from here. I have to find them. I have to find them, then I have to find a way home...* He looked at the three girls, then nodded. "Alright," he said, lowering his voice from the "cute little kid" tone he usually adopted around strangers to his more natural tone. "And you said none of you are from this world?"
"That's right," Monica said. "We're not even from the same world as each other."
"Interesting," Conan said. He studied each girl intently. They all looked perfectly human, like any other young girl he might encounter. He decided to test the waters. "So none of you have heard of Japan?"
The girls looked at each other, frowned, and shook their head. "Never heard of it," Tron said. "Is that a person, or a city, or...?"
"It's a country," Conan said. "And nevermind, that...just brings up a bunch of questions we don't have time for." He took a deep breath, then...
"Let me reintroduce myself," he said seriously. "My real name is Kudou Shinichi. I'm a detective."
The girls blinked. "A detective?" Tron asked, going slightly pale. "Like...a police detective?"
Monica bit her lip. "You can tell us more later," she said. "For now, we need to get out of here."
Conan nodded. "I'll leave it to you girls."
* * * * *
After several minutes of wandering around the huge crystal castle, the group entered a massive library, at one end of which stood a huge, ornate crystal mirror with a hodge-podge framework of oddball devices arranged around it. A purple unicorn with a wavy violet mane sat near the mirror, writing in a hard-bound book. She looked up as they entered. "Oh, hey Rainbow Dash, Fluttersh—" She trailed off. "Why are there two humans here, and how did they get here without me seeing them come through the portal?"
"It's happening here now," Rainbow said. "They were in the Whitetail Woods." She made introductions around the room.
The unicorn, Starlight Glimmer, frowned. "I'd better let Twilight know about this," she said. She inked her quill and flipped the page in her book, then went back to writing.
Kanji shuffled his feet. "Uhh...so like, you gonna call this Twilight, or—"
"That's what she's doing," Rainbow said. "It's a magic journal. You write something in that one, it copies in the one it's paired with."
"Oh yeah? Cool. I mean, if you don't got cell phones, I guess."
"I highly doubt they have cell phone technology in this world, Tatsumi-kun," Naoto said.
"Heh, yeah...guess not." Kanji jammed his hands in his pockets. "So, uhh..."
"Done," Starlight said. She looked up at the new arrivals. "So, you came from some other human-populated world, and arrived here in the Whitetail Woods?" She stood up and stretched. "You must be really confused."
"Yeah, you could say that," Kanji said. "I mean, a world of talkin' horses is crazy enough, but..." He glanced at Naoto. "Havin' our Persona powers without our Personas?"
"That's been bothering me," Naoto said, stroking her chin contemplatively. "Unfortunately, there's no way to conduct further tests on that front without causing significant damage to our surroundings." She frowned. "Or outright killing anything in sight, as would be the case with most of my Persona abilities."
"Oh yeah," Kanji said with a concerned frown. "You kinda got stuck with either 'kill everything that moves' or 'blast the crap out of anything that moves', huh?"
"Helpful against swarms of Shadows," Naoto said. "Not so much for simple tests of an anomaly."
The ponies frowned in confusion. "What're you guys talkin' about?" Rainbow asked.
"Ah, yes, forgive me," Naoto said. She cleared her throat. "Some time ago, we were all involved in an incident in our world. It involved a sort of alternate world connected to ours, created from the collective thoughts and emotions of the human race. Within that world, we were able to manifest a power called Persona."
"It let us summon these kinda...other selves," Kanji said. "That could use all kinds of magic and powerful attacks and stuff."
"We used this power to solve a serial killing case," Naoto continued. "But once the case was closed and we reached the truth behind everything, we assumed the power was forever sealed away." She tilted the brim of her cap. "Apparently, we were wrong."
"But we ain't ever had that power, y'know, without our Personas before," Kanji said. "But somehow, when we fought that Horse Goblin guy out in the woods, I threw lightning at him without summoning my Persona." He shrugged. "Hell if I know how."
"Huh," Starlight said. "Maybe it's because you're in a world that's already magical in nature? Or maybe it has something to do with the chaos singularity that's causing all this..." She shook her head. "In any case, I'll try to help run some tests after I hear back from Twilight and check in with my friends in the other world. Unless Twilight says specifically you two have to be either here or in the other world, it's up to you to decide where to wait things out."
"What's this other world you keep mentioning?" Naoto asked.
Rainbow pointed at the mirror. "That's a portal," she said. "It connects to a parallel world with human versions of a whole bunch of ponies here. That world's kinda where all this mess started."
"Huh," Kanji said. "Whaddya think, Naoto? Should we go check that out?"
Naoto pondered that for a moment. "No," she said. "We're in an unknown world that operates on completely unfamiliar laws of reality. However, there's a basic logic at play in any given situation, no matter how unusual. We entered this reality through this world, so for the time being, unless a local expert says otherwise, we should remain here."
Kanji thought about that. "Oh yeah...kinda like how we always went into the TV world from Junes, huh?"
"Well, while we wait to hear back from Twilight..." Starlight's horn lit up, and a glow surrounded her throat. When she spoke again, her voice was amplified. "SPIKE! How about some fresh nachos and cold drinks? We've got company!"
"Horse nachos," Naoto remarked with a raised eyebrow. "This should be interesting..."
* * * * *
"So, umm...nice castle," Pony Head said as the group rounded yet another corner. "I like how you've got like, bits and pieces of a high school up in here."
"Yeah, what's up with that?" Starco asked. "I mean, this place is like, a super-old super-medieval fortress, but then you've got all this glowy crystal stuff in random places, and then there's all this stuff that looks like a high school on Earth...what's the deal?"
Twilight made an adjustment to her scanners. "This castle translocated into our universe in the exact same spot as our high school," she said. "It sort of...merged with the school."
"Oh, you mean like that movie with the guy who splices himself with a fly?" Starco asked.
"Or, y'know, like you two," Pony Head said with a snicker.
"How'd that even happen?" Twilight wondered. "Also, I have a few friends that might be able to help you fix that, if...if it even can be fixed." She tugged at her ponytail. "I wouldn't know, I do science, not magic."
Starco let out a long, whining, depressed sigh.
Pony Head tutted. "Okay so like...Star had this crush on Earth Turd but he totally hooked up with this cool Earth chick, then Star had to go back to Mewni because her kingdom was in trouble. Earth Turd came to help, the kingdom got saved, then Earth Turd had to go back home, right? So he was gone like...a week, I dunno, I don't keep track, but Star got back together with her demon ex-boyfriend Tom. Then Earth Turd shows back up on Mewni out of nowhere and his girlfriend dumped him, and now he wanted to hook up with Star, but she was back with Tom, so..."
"Ouch," Twilight said, wincing. "I don't know much about dating, but that sounds messy."
"Yeah, well, they tried to go back to being best-besties like they were when Star was on Earth? But it didn't take, then they got in this big fight about it, then..."
Starco sighed. "I, I mean, Star...lost control of my magic and my emotions, and then this happened."
"Yikes." Twilight sighed. "Well, I think I've taken as many readings as I can for now, and something tells me there's parts of this castle it'd be a really good idea to avoid, so..." She switched apps on her scanner, pointing it in a different direction as a vector map of the castle faded into view. "We...should probably get out of here and rendezvous with my friends."
"THERE you are!"
Twilight, Starco, and Pony Head stopped short as Rainbow Dash flew up to them. "I've been lookin' all over for ya, egghead!" She blinked. "Who's this..." She trailed off as she espied Pony Head. "Uhh..."
"Whoa, girl with wings," Starco said. "Haven't seen that in a while."
"Oh, hey Rainbow Dash," Twilight said. "This is Starco and Pony Head. I know she's kind of weird-looking, but apparently it's normal."
"Didn't I just get through explaining the whole magical fusion accident—"
"I was talking about Pony Head."
"Uhh..." Rainbow shook her head. "Nevermind. Won't ask. Listen, we're all gathering in the cafeteria...which, I guess is kinda the front gates of this castle now? Principal Celestia's turned into some kind of magical bird witch thing and told us to protect the castle while she goes to find Sunset." She bit her lip. "Things just got a whole lot worse, Twi."
Twilight sighed. "I was afraid of that." She turned to the new arrivals. "Come on, you two, let's go to the cafeteria."
"Cool," Starco said. "Got nachos?"
* * * * *
An hour later, the three girls and Conan had settled into a new room at a different hotel.
"How are you able to afford this if you're not from this world?" Conan asked as he sat on one of the plush beds.
"I have a large supply of pure gold," Monica said. "Enough that I could settle here permanently and live in comfort if I had to. Umm...but I'd much rather get home, my kingdom needs me."
"Sou ka," Conan said, blinking. He shook his head. "I've been in some weird situations, but this is way beyond anything I've ever dealt with before."
"So...Shinichi, was it?" Monica asked. "About what you were saying earlier..."
Conan grimaced. "Gomen. I'm...not what I appear to be."
"You sure don't sound like a little kid," Tron said. "Plus there's the knife and the laser gun you're carrying around."
"Aheh...yeah," Conan said, rubbing the back of his head. "I picked those up on that alien ship while I was chasing..." He frowned. "Chikushou! There's no telling how far away they got!"
"You were chasing aliens?" Kooh asked, tilting her head.
"No," Conan said, shaking his head. "I was chasing two men...the men who tried to kill me several months ago."
The girls gasped in shock. "Tried to kill you? But why?" Monica asked.
Conan took a deep breath...
"My name is Kudou Shinichi, high school detective, sixteen years old. One day, I took my childhood friend Mouri Ran to an amusement park, where I ended up solving a murder on a roller coaster. During the case, I noticed two suspicious men dressed all in black who seemed out of place on a roller coaster and were very anxious.
"That evening, I saw them leaving the park and heading down to the canal, and I followed them. I witnessed the two men making a blackmail exchange with a public official. I was so caught up in what I'd stumbled onto that I didn't notice one of them sneaking up behind me. He hit me over the head. I was dazed.
"They forced a poison capsule into my mouth and made me swallow it, then left. I thought I was a dead man, but the poison did something I wasn't expecting. It changed my body, reducing me to the size and appearance of a first grader.
"When I woke up and realized what happened, I went home and confided in my next door neighbor, but then Ran showed up while I was trying to figure out what to do. I made up the name 'Edogawa Conan' on the spot, and before I knew it, I ended up living with Ran and her dad, a bumbling private detective who spends most of his time drunk.
"With a series of gadgets my neighbor designed for me, I solve cases in secret, while always searching for a way to bring the men who did this to me to justice. If I can capture them, I can get closer to an antidote for this," he finished, looking at the shellshocked girls. "If I can bring down the organization those two men are part of, I can return to my life as Kudou Shinichi. Until then, I'm stuck living a pretend life as 'Edogawa Conan'."
"Oh wow," Tron said softly. "That's...wow."
Kooh tilted her head. "So...you're really sixteen?" A sly grin crossed her face. "Then you really must've enjoyed that little peek at Monica's boobs, huh?"
"GAH!" Monica yelped, blushing furiously. "Kooh!"
"Erk!" Conan uttered, his own face red. "G-gomen nasai! I..."
Monica sighed. "Forget it, it was an accident," she said. "I mean, you fell out of a spaceship, it's not like you were aiming at my chest." She smirked. "Bet it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience though, huh?"
Conan laughed wryly. "Actually, you'd be surprised how often I end up in exactly that position," he said. "Never by choice," he added in a disgruntled mutter.
"Oho," Tron said, tilting her head and smirking. "So we have a little pervert detective on our hands, huh?"
"I'm not a pervert!" Conan retorted hotly. The girls laughed.
"So the guys that did this to you, they were on that alien ship?" Kooh asked.
"Yeah," Conan said. "I chased them into a dead-end alley, then a door appeared behind them, they ran through, I followed. Then we were on that ship...and then we were here." He shrugged.
Monica sighed. "It's getting worse then," she said. "We need to check the news, see what's going on down in Canterlot. If things are starting to get worse here, it might be time to stop screwing around on the beach and get more directly involved."
"I vote for screwing around on the beach," Kooh said. "Things are interesting enough here without walking right into the worst of it all. Besides, you can't possibly wanna leave now, not after that dippy squid girl got you twice."
Monica grimaced, her hands tightening into fists. "Yeah," she admitted. "You're right. I...I definitely want to settle things with that girl. I can't let what she's done stand."
"What was even up with that?" Tron wondered. "I mean, it looked like she was trying to flash you on purpose..."
* * * * *
"Did you see the look on her face-geso?" Ikamusume clutched her stomach, laughing at the memory. "And! And then when that little human guppy crashed right into her boobs-geso..."
Sonata giggled. "Yeah, that was so random, but SO funny!"
Aria sighed. "So you tracked those girls to their hotel, found their room, and then picked a fight with boob-girl for no reason?"
"It wasn't for no reason!" Sonata insisted. "Right, Ika?"
Ikamusume nodded seriously. "It was a surprise attack-geso," she said. "Our enemies must live with the terror that we can strike at any time-geso!"
"Except," Arlong said, "we can't, because that entire hotel has been evacuated and neither of you thought to follow them and find out where they went."
"Grk!" Ikamusume quailed, paling.
"Ah, well...there were a lot of cabs and shuttles coming and going," Sonata hedged. "I mean, it was chaos, and there were pieces of that weird alien spaceship falling down..."
"Yeah, what's up with that?" Aria wondered. "I mean, I know things have been crazy around here and there's even been giant robots showing up, but—"
"Oh, it's been getting worse," Adagio said from the couch. "We've been watching the news, and..."
"Structures and larger, more obstructive things are showing up in this world now," Arlong said with a frown. "In the very heart of that Canterlot city, a stone castle has appeared. There are other things showing up around the world..." He picked up the TV remote and tuned in a news broadcast, which showed helicopters hovering around a massive metal structure that stood in a sparse prarie surrounded by craggy sandstone foothills. Sprawling out over what had to be dozens of miles of scrubland, it looked vaguely like a giant metal flat-capped mushroom, with dozens of smaller structures spread out around its base. A massive support pillar held up the circular plate that hung suspended above the dark, sprawling city, with eight more pillars positioned around the edges, extending upward above the plate. These pillars sporadically vented thick jets of glowing green steam into the air. The entire upper plate of the supercity was dense with buildings and towers, all with lights glowing brightly even in the hot daytime sun.
"What the geso is THAT?" Ikamusume moaned, covering her mouth.
"I'm getting a really bad feeling from that thing," Sonata said quietly, her usual ditzy cheer gone.
"Yeah that...looks like something we wanna stay as far the hell away from as possible," Aria said with a frown.