The dinner went really well, talking about their life and catching up with each other. It was revealed how Cadence was so close to Celestia and Luna. After Chrysalis went off on her own, Cadence wanted to finish her education and become a teacher like her Aunts. She lived six hours from Canterlot's College, so Cadence had to move to Canterlot to finish her education. Since her Aunts were already educators in CHS, she stayed with them, eventually completing her education and applying to another top school within the city, Crystal Prep, and moving into a small apartment by herself. That is until she met her step-sister at a grocery store. The two talked before Cadence found out about Chrysalis looking for a place to stay after her last roommate sold her gaming PC for some quick cash. They were arrested, but without that second source of income, she needed to look for a cheaper place to live that she could keep with her low wages as she was still in school. Hearing her story Cadence offered to move in with her and the two have been living together ever since.
"So you want to be an artist? Huh, most model students usually want to go into business, engineering, become a doctor, or perhaps a lawyer. Why don't you want to go into one of those or a similar field?" Cadence asked.
"Well, working in an office full of paperwork and meetings isn't for me," Sunset said, twiddling with her thumbs.
"Well, what about you, little flower?" Cadence asked Snowdrop.
"I like to be a teacher like my mom," She said. "There are a lot of kids like me who think they can't do anything. I want to show them that they can do whatever they want, despite what people think about them."
"A teacher, quite an admirable goal for someone so small," Cadence said, holding her hand. "And I have full faith that you'll be one of the best teachers," Snowdrop smiled.
"Yeah, I'll be able to catch everyone that thinks they can cheat," Snowdrop said with a determined face.
"And if they don't treat you well, they can meet your big and bad older sister. With me being an artist ill have a lot of free time to help you whenever you need it," Sunset said while she poked Snowdrop's sides.
This produced a tiny squeak from Snowdrop before she glared in the direction of the poke. She reached down and grabbed Sunset's leg above the knee. This action caused Sunset to let out a startled neigh before she fell off the side of her chair. Everyone laughed along after seeing an embarrassed face of Sunset. One that caused Celestia to divulge into loud belly-deep laughs at the resemblance of a particular animal lover.
After laughter wound down, the family continued their meal with Snowdrop telling Cadence about meeting their grandparents. Once the dinner was over, the family gathered in the living room for the discussion.
"So, Cadence? What did you have to tell us?" Celestia asked.
"Yes, about that. It's more of a favor, actually. You remember my fiancé, Shining?" the two adults nodded. "Remember when I said his sister is a big egg head? Well, Twilight-"
Sunset chocked on her glass of water, having gasped at the mention of Twilight, "*cough* *cough* sorry."
Sunset already knew Princess Twilight's brother got married to Princess Cadence, but it still caught her by surprise when Cadence mentioned this world's Twilight. Celestia and Luna didn't react too much since they already knew about the alternate world.
"Um… well… she doesn't have a lot of friends. I don't think she has any except for me, but a sister-in-law isn't really a friend for obvious reasons. Anyway, she wants to apply to this independent study program at Everton. I tried to talk to her about making some friends, but she wasn't really interested. Also, today Principal Cinch wanted to talk to her. From the way the conversation was going, I have a feeling that that woman calling herself the Principal is up to something,"
"Still, hate that woman?" Celestia asked.
"Hate is a strong word. Let's just say I would trust a pathological lair over her. She only cares about the school's reputation, not the students. She's completely ruined the true meaning of friendship games. I was thinking, maybe I could convince Twilight to meet her soon-to-be sisters. And maybe the two of you can show her what it actually meant to have friends and maybe… convince her to join CHS?" Cadence asked hopefully.
"Well, I don't see why not. Bring her, and we'll see what we can do," Sunset said. "But why do you want for her to join CHS?"
"Well, Crystal Prep is a good school academically, but the Principal and the students are too toxic for any chance of Twilight to make true friends there. I don't think she should stay in that school. The competition is high, and it will be really hard for her to make some friends and learn more about society. Learning isn't everything. Her parents specifically held her back so she can make friends. Otherwise, she most likely would be in college," Cadence said.
"I understand, more than you know," Sunset said.
"Anyway, you said you had something to say to me too. What is it?" Cadence asked.
"Well… you know what? I'll tell you later," Sunset said, surprising the others as she didn't hesitate to talk to Cadence before.
"Okay. So, how about if I bring Twilight tomorrow?"
"Um… yeah, why not. I don't really have anything planned tomorrow," Sunset said.
"Yeah, it's best to be swift in this. The friendship games are going to be held soon, and whatever Cinch is planning, I have a feeling it has something to do with that," Luna said.
"Maybe. And I really hope we lose this time. You have good players this time, right?"
"Yeah, we do," Celestia said, casting a slight glance towards Sunset.
"Great, that woman needs to know that winning isn't everything," Cadence said with a smile that Luna knew came from Chrysalis.
"Is she always like this?" Sunset whispered Luna.
"Only when people do bad things. And when it comes to Cinch, it's always bad," Luna said nonchalantly.
The rest of the day went by with the family spending the time talking, playing video games, and having fun before Cadence left. Luna retreated back into her den while Celestia went to her office to file some papers for school. Snowdrop was on the couch listening to a podcast about light novels and anime. Leaving Sunset completely free, she looked at Snowdrop to make sure that she was occupied before she headed to her room.
She entered her room before she went to her desk and pulled out an airtight container. She placed it on the table and opened it up. She grabbed a shaping tool and began getting ready for her project. She swiped her phone open and began to play music on it. She booted her laptop up and opened up her files before she set to work. She was humming to her favorite song about a paradoxical future bathed in snow and sorrow. When she was startled out of her artistic zone by a knocking.
"Hey Sunset, can I come in?" Snowdrop asked from the doorway.
"Oh yeah, let me just put this away," Sunset said in a slightly nervous and panicked tone.
"What are you working on?" Snowdrop asked as she moved forward.
"Nothing! I mean, it's nothing, just a small project, that's all," Sunset said as she quickly placed her project in the container before she misted it with a small water squirt bottle and sealed the project away.
"Um... okay. If you're busy, I can just go," Snowdrop said softly.
"No. no. You're infinitely more important than that. What's up?"
"I... well. I'm worried," Snowdrop said in a tone similar to shame.
"Worried? What are you worried about?" Sunset said, going into big sister mode.
"It's probably nothing, but I'm worried about my friends."
"Yeah, they've been acting weird lately," Snowdrop said as she ringed her skirt in a tight grip.
"Weird? How?" Sunset said
"Well, they're always whispering and being really sneaky. Every time I come closer, they stop talking and get all quiet. They're always whispering, but I can never find out what they're talking about except I did hear my name once or twice."
"I see. I'm sure it means nothing," Sunset soothed Snowdrop while she thought of what to say.
"I'm just worried. What if they don't want to be my friends anymore? What if they're tired of helping the little blind girl?" Snowdrop voiced her doubts.
Sunset grimaced before saying, "I'm sure it's not that. They're not the type of kids to do something like that. I'm not sure what's causing them to act this way, but I know they think of you as their friend," this whole conversation was leaving a bad taste in her mouth.
"You're right. I'm sure I can figure out what causes them to act all weird. Maybe Diamond Tiara is bothering them again," Snowdrop said deep in thought.
It was quiet for a few moments as Sunset held Snowdrop in silent comfort. As she sat there, Sunset was getting slightly uncomfortable by the silence and was about to speak when she heard Snowdrop say.
"Hey, Sunset? Can I sleep with you tonight?" Snowdrop asked.
Sunset smiled as she said, "Sure."
The next day was peaceful and was mostly uneventful. Sunset was looking forward to meeting with this world's Twilight. She had talked with the others about the situation, and they were all surprised to hear about it. Rainbow and Applejack particularly got excited when they heard that Cadence asked her to convince Twilight to join CHS.
After school ended, Sunset and Snowdrop went home. Celestia and Luna stayed at school to supervise the Friendship Games' preparation seeing how they were hosting the event this year. Not long after they got home, they heard a car parking outside the house and people walking towards the door. They rang the bell, and Sunset answered the door.
One was a woman with purple hair with white stripes and grey skin. The other was Twilight Sparkle, who looked slightly annoyed and downright uncomfortable. She looked a lot like Princess Twilight, except she was a little shorter than the Princess, had her hair in a ponytail, and wore glasses. She also had a little purple dog in her arms.
"Good afternoon. You must be Sunset, right?" The woman asked.
"Yup, that's me," Sunset said politely.
"Wonderful, I'm Twilight Velvet, and this is Twilight Sparkle, my daughter," She said, introducing them to Sunset.
"Hey, Twilight? Nice to meet you," She said, holding her hand.
"Um… yeah… likewise," She said, taking Sunset's hand.
"Well then, I'll be back in a few hours. Let you girls bond and get out your hair and all that, okay?" Twilight Velvet said before leaving them.
"Come in," Sunset said to Twilight, moving aside to allow her entry. They then moved to the living room while Spike got out of Twilight's grip. Snowdrop was waiting for them, listening to an audiobook.
"Twilight, this is my little sister, Snowdrop," Sunset said, introducing her to Snowdrop.
"Hi, it's nice to meet you," Snowdrop said, pausing the book.
"Yeah, nice to meet you too… uh… are you… uh… blind…?" Twilight asked hesitantly.
"Yeah, I am," Snowdrop said with a slight amount of sadness in her voice. Before she cleared her throat, "Yes, I'm blind," trying to sound as proud about it as possible, something that made Sunset smile.
"Oh, don't let it fool you; she's a shark when it comes platform video games, despite being blind. She even beat Luna in smash, something Luna raved about for hours after. She's my sixth sense whenever I play horror games, like Amnesia," Sunset said, praising the girl, which earned her wide smile.
"Huh?" Twilight asked, confused.
"She warns me whenever the monsters sneak up on me because I'm getting too distracted by the world's attention to detail. "
"Oh, really. Wow, how do you get distracted in a horror game?"
"Well, I'm an artist. I enjoy the attention to detail. Sometimes too much."
"It doesn't sound that hard."
"You'd be surprised. Anyways, Twilight, why don't you tell us a bit about you? And who's this little guy?" Sunset asked, pointing at Spike, who was playing with Snowdrop. She already knew all the answers, but she still asked, not just to hide the alternate world, but she also knew that counterparts can be very different from their pony counterparts. Chrysalis was evident of that. Princess Twilight is the Princess of literally the friendship, while this girl didn't know the first thing about friendship.
"Oh, that's Spike, my number one assistance. And uh… I… uh… I like science... and maths… and studying. Though it's probably nothing you're interested in, though," Twilight said.
"Don't judge a book by its cover, Twilight. I like them too. They're some of my best subjects," Sunset said, trying not to make Twilight feel awful about prematurely judging her.
"Oh… so… you don't think I'm a… nerd…?"
"You are a nerd. And so am I. So what if you are a nerd? Everyone is a nerd in their own rights. My friend rainbow is the cockiest jock you'll meet but turn her math problems into a soccer play, and the meathead turns into a genius almost as smart as me, and don't even get me started when you mention Daring Do to the girl. Rarity is a natural-born businesswoman despite the fact she spends more time buried under a pile of fabric than at a register. If people don't like you just because you know stuff, then they are straight-up idiots."
"Really?" Twilight said, smiling. And what followed was a conversation between two scientists, talking about things only they understand.
Meanwhile, for Snowdrop, the whole conversation went like this;
"Blah conversion blah. Blah blah blah output…" Sunset said.
"Blah blah… thermal tension yada yada… blah," Twilight responded.
"Speaking of, you go to CHS, right?" Twilight asked.
"Have you noticed anything strange?" Sunset knew what exactly she was talking about. But she couldn't talk about that with her. For one, she wouldn't believe her. Two, she wouldn't believe her and think she is crazy.
"Strange? What kind of strange? It's completely normal. Unlike Crystal Prep- sorry," Sunset said.
"Oh no, it's okay. But don't you like Crystal Prep? It is a really great school, especially for someone like you."
"I'll pass. I know I'm a model student and all, but… life is not just learning, you know. They are a lot more to that. And Crystal Prep is not the best place when it comes to that."
"You're not wrong. It is pretty competitive, but that just makes you work hard. You probably don't understand."
"What don't I understand?"
"What it's like to be me. I'm smart. You are, too, don't get me wrong, but I'm smart enough to be in college. That's why I want to get into the Everton Independent Study Program. If my parents let me skip the grades as I wanted, I wouldn't have to deal with the school or its problems."
"It's not all that it is cracked up to be, you know."
"Skipping grades, I've done that, and it's not any fun. When I was little, I was seen as a prodigy and was moved up into more advanced classes. At first, it was great, the attention, the praise, but that soon changed when I began to outpace everyone in the class, including some of my professors. They began to hate me because of my knowledge and my critical thinking skills. I was bullied by people three to four years older than me, and the teacher would do nothing about it because I was being beaten down a peg. I guess that's what happens when you correct a teacher too often. Anyways because I hated it so much, I threw myself into studying, and when I tested again, I skipped another grade. Because of this, I was recognized by someone. They were someone very powerful, and I was taken under their wing and advanced even more under their tutelage."
"Didn't you tell anyone about this kind of treatment?"
"I tried, but when the staff hates you because, in your mind, all you're trying to do is help, but you're in fact embarrassing them in front of the whole class no one is really willing to do anything about."
"What about your parents?"
"What parents? I've never met them. I was a ward of the state, meaning there was no one to turn to. The ones I could go to didn't care. I was treated like a trophy. I was a poster child to get more funds for the program. As long as I was getting good grades and progressing, then it was proof of the program's success."
"It was life for me for so long," Sunset said with a shrug.
"How'd you end up with Miss Luna and Miss Celestia?"
"Well, one thing led to another, and I ended up here, and I ended up going to Celestia's school and was eventually adopted by her. I don't really like to talk about what happened between here and there. Maybe some other time," Sunset said, scratching her head. "Anyways, I found something more important than good grades and education."
"Like making friends, meeting different people. Tell me, Twilight does Crystal prep have different kinds of kids, like athletes, artists, eco kids?"
"But the school has a lot of competition between them, right? There's a lot of stress, isn't there?"
"But at CHS? There is not such a thing. You are not forced to win. Forced to surpass everyone. You can see students for who they are. Not who others want them to be. For someone like you, Crystal Prep might look like a great place. But for me? I may be a nerd, but I'm an artist."
"Um… when you put it like that…"
"You're not done yet? I've listened to all three chapters of my book," Snowdrop said from the side. She began to listen to her book after listening to the two girls talking in their science rubbish. They looked at her and saw Snowdrop and somehow Spike, despite not being human, having headphones over their ears with Snowdrop having removed one to hear their answer.
"Oh- hehe, sorry. So… Twilight? What do you wanna do?" Sunset asked.
"Uh… I don't know…"
"Maybe we can play some games," Snowdrop suggested.
"Yeah, what do you say?"
"Uh… I never played any games before?"
"What! You didn- of course, you didn't. You know what? We have to change that. To the ShimmerCode Lair!" Sunset shouted the last part, dramatically pointing where she was going.
"Her room," Snowdrop said.
After going to Sunset's room and booting up her PC, Sunset scrolled through her games, looking for a game for Twilight to play. She chose to play a LEGO game because they were simple and have two-player support. Sunset handed one of her controllers to Twilight and explained how the game was played. Twilight took a while getting used to the controller and the game, but she quickly got the hang of it and genuinely enjoyed the experience. Celestia and Luna also arrived while they were playing games.
"How are we supposed to hit her while she was rolling on that barrel?" Twilight asked.
"Hit that lever over there," Sunset said. Twilight did as she was told, and a bunch of hot charcoal dropped right on the way the barrel was rolling, causing it to break. Seizing the chance, Twilight quickly ran at the mysterious woman and attacked her, finishing the boss battle.
"Yes, we did it. Not bad for playing a game for the first time," Sunset said.
"Yeah! I, um, thanks. It was…I had fun," Twilight said.
"See told ya," Then Sunset saw Spike, who was scratching himself furiously. "Hey, what's up with Spike?" She asked.
"Oh, he probably got some mites. I was going to take him to the vet when I leave," Twilight said.
"Where do you plan to take him?"
"Oh, just a place we know. Near home," Twilight said.
"If it's okay with you, may I suggest a place? We can go now if you like. It's about time your mom comes back to pick you up, and it's on the way to your home. Before you ask, Cadence gave me your address so I could pop in whenever you're free."
"Uh… yeah… sure… we can leave… now…" Twilight said, but she looked hesitant to leave. Maybe their mission was successful.
"You wanna come, Snowdrop?"
"No, you can go. All you ever do is tease each other. I hear enough of that as is. Besides, the smell of wet dogs is too strong for me. Yuck," She said. Twilight blushed a little though she had an idea that it was someone else she was talking about.
"Hey, we don't do that… all the time…"
"Yeah, sure you don't, and you don't sound like a horse when startled," causing Sunset's face to blush in embarrassment. Earning a raised eyebrow from Twilight.
After informing her mom, the two with Spike left the house and got on a bus, and Sunset texted Fluttershy. The ride was short, but Twilight took that time to ask some questions.
"So Sunset, remember when I said I have this project that I try to finish, so I can get to Everton?" Twilight asked. Sunset nodded. "While working on that project, I got some strange readings. I was able to locate them near the CHS. So can you please tell me if you know anything? I won't think you are crazy because whatever the energy is, it is strange."
"Twilight, I already told you, I never saw anything strange. Why are you sure that it really came from CHS?" Sunset asked. Though it took Twilight this long to talk about this meant, she really forgot all about this the past few hours, which meant her mission is a success.
"Well, I got these readings two times, and in both of those times, CHS had something special going on,"
"Really Twilight, I don't know. I'd tell you if I do. By the way, do you really want to go to Everton?"
"Of course I… I… yeah…?"
"Huh. You do you, Twilight. But really, taking some time from your studies wouldn't be a bad idea. Take some time and really think about it, okay? And remember what I told you about my experience in these types of things. You may get into this program, but who's to say that it won't be worse? You could move up in the education system, but that might cause the toxicity to increase faster. Besides, was today all that bad? You had fun, right? Just letting loose and having fun and with someone as smart as you. I could see you doing that every day and still keeping your perfect grades."
"I'll think about it," Twilight promised.
"That's all I ask."
The bus finally slowed, and Sunset saw that the two finally got to their stop. They both stood up and made their way off the bus before Sunset led them towards the animal clinic.
"So your friend works here?" Twilight asked.
"Yeah. And she knows a lot about animals. And she's really, really kind, very shy, and very beautiful," Sunset said with a blush dusting her cheeks.
They then entered the clinic, and they were greeted by all sorts of animals all around them. Twilight then saw a Pink haired girl petting some animals, and Sunset walked up to her. When she looked up, her eyes shine with delight when she saw Sunset.
"Hey Shy," Sunset said, giving the girl a peck on the cheeks.
"Sunset…" She whispered in embarrassment.
"Hehe, I win again, my butterfly."
"Sunny!" Fluttershy whined.
"Hehe, you're too easy, Shy. Anyways, Shy, I brought a friend. Her dog is in need of some help," She said, pointing to Twilight. "This is Twilight Sparkle. And her little puppy is Spike. Twilight, this is Fluttershy."
"H-hi," Fluttershy softly said.
"Uh… hi… so… can you help my Spike?" She asked.
"Yeah, of course," Fluttershy said, taking Spike.
"He seemed have got some-"
"Oh, you poor thing. Are the meanie mites hurting you?" She asked Spike, interrupting Twilight.
"See? I told you she knows a lot about animals," Sunset said.
"Yeah, it seems so. So… uh… are you two… uh…" Twilight asked with some difficulty before tapping her pointer fingers together.
"Oh yeah, she's my girlfriend," Sunset said.
"Oh… I didn't know you go that way."
They were then interrupted by Fluttershy, as she came to them with Spike and a bottle of medical soap.
"Here, give him a nice bath with this, and the mites will go way," Fluttershy said.
"Thanks, so… how much do I owe you?" Twilight asked, taking Spike and the soap.
"Oh, there's no need for that."
"Yeah," Twilight then saw her mom's car parking outside the clinic. "So… do you wanna ride?" She asked Sunset.
"No, you can go. I'm going to stay for a bit till her shift is over," Sunset said.
"Oh, okay then. See you later?"
"Yeah, see you. Oh wait, here's my number," Sunset said before giving Twilight her number. Twilight sent a miss call to it before leaving with a bright smile.
"So, what happened?" Fluttershy asked. Sunset then began to tell what happened that day with Twilight.