As they entered a more well-lit part of town, Kim studied their odd companion critically. She was dressed like a Japanese idol singer, and her light blue skin wasn't the only odd thing about her: she had bright purple eyes, and her hair, pulled into a high ponytail, was a medium shade of Arctic blue, with two darker blue streaks. "Uhh...so...Sonata...is that...your natural hair color?"
"Yeah," Sonata said.
"Interesting," Kim said.
"Blue skin, blue hair..." Ron shook his head. "Yeah, this girl is not normal."
"Hey! That wasn't very nice," Sonata said.
"Rooooon," Kim groaned through gritted teeth.
"Sorry," Ron said.
"Here it is," Sonata said. "Taco Tuesday's!"
Sonata led them into a fast food joint that reminded them of Bueno Nacho back home. A college-aged boy with pimples and dark orange skin, wearing a black smock with a picture of a taco on it and a taco-shaped hat, stood behind the counter. He looked up as they entered. "Welcome to Taco Tuesday's," he said in a bored tone. "Can I help you?"
"Hey Caramel!" Sonata said.
The boy rolled his eyes. "Hi Sonata," he said. "Weren't you just here about fifteen minutes ago?"
"My taco got zapped," Sonata said. "Oh, and these guys are hungry, but they don't have any money."
"No money, no tacos," Caramel said boredly.
Kim stepped up to the counter. "Excuse me," she said. "We've just...had a very strange accident, and we're a long way from home, and we really just need a place to sit, rest, and figure things out, and maybe a bite to eat. We'd be willing to wash dishes or clean the floors or something...anything to work off our meal."
Caramel frowned. "One second," he said. He leaned over to a swinging microphone next to the register. "Manager to the front," he said.
A woman with light purple skin and blond hair walked up beside him. "What's up?" she asked.
"These people want to work for food," Caramel said boredly.
"We're from way out of town and we don't have any money," Kim explained. "Could we maybe just...?"
The manager shrugged. "Sure, why not." She looked around, scratching her cheek. "Tell you what. You can eat for an hour, then you have to work for an hour."
"Deal!" Kim agreed. "Thank you."
"Eh." The manager wandered back into the back.
Caramel gave them a bored look. "So, take your order?" he asked.
"I don't suppose you have nacos here, huh?" Ron asked.
"Nachos? Yeah, we got nachos."
"No, not...not nachos, nac...you know what, nevermind." Ron looked at the big board. "I'll take the number two combo and the number three combo. Oh, and the chimicherrychanga. I have no idea what that is, but it sounds wacky."
"Oooh, chimicherrychangas! I love those!" Sonata said. "I'll have two of those and the number one."
"I'll take the number four and a small taco salad," Kim said.
A few minutes later, they were seated at a dingy table, trays of greasy Mexican fast food and cups of watered-down soda in front of them. Just as they had sat down, four girls walked into the restaurant and up to the counter. One had grey skin and black hair, one had pale white skin and electric blue hair and wore huge purple shades, the third had mint green skin and spiky silver-and-spearmint hair, and the fourth had pale yellowish skin with curly hair which was half indigo and half pink.
"So uh, KP," Ron said as he watched the group at the counter, "have you noticed that the people here are kinda...well..."
"Technicolor?" Kim said, her eyes wide as she studied the four girls. "Yeah, I noticed." She looked at Sonata. "What's up with that?"
"What's up with what?" Sonata replied blankly.
"Ummm..." Kim looked at Ron, shrugging helplessly.
"Where we come from, people aren't, you know...blue and green and grey and stuff," Ron said. "I mean, normal people aren't."
"Oh," Sonata said. She frowned. "That's weird."
"You think we're weird?" Ron asked.
Kim sighed. "Ron...we're aliens here. So yes. We're weird."
"KP, we're NOT aliens! We're humans!"
Kim pinched the bridge of her nose. "Moving along..." She picked up her spork and stirred her salad. "Sonata, would you tell us a little more about where we are, how we got here, and what exactly you were doing when we met you?"
Sonata opened a hot sauce packet and drizzled it on a chicken fiesta taco. "Okay, so like...this world is really boring, and I'm from Equestria, which is a magical world that's mostly inhabited by ponies. A really long time ago, my sisters and I tried to conquer Equestria with our magic, but this old geezer named Starswirl banished us here. We've been wandering around this world for a long time, using our magic to make people fight each other, then feeding off their anger and hate, which is what powers our magic, then we used that magic to stay young and keep making people do whatever we wanted. Then several months ago we felt Equestrian magic here in this world, and we started trying to find it. A few weeks ago, we tracked it down to Canterlot High, and forced our way into the school, then made the principal change their music festival to a Battle of the Bands so we could suck the students dry with our magic while we tried to find the Equestrian magic. We found the girls who had it, and Adagio, that's my sister, thought we could steal their magic if we made them hate each other, so we messed with them until they got mad at each other, then we stole some of their magic and used it to try to take over the whole school. I think that was supposed to help us take over the world somehow? Anyway, those girls stopped fighting each other and went back to fighting us, and they pulled some kind of super finishing move that busted our magic jewels. Now we can't sing anymore and we can't make people fight each other, so we're pretty much just...normal girls now." She sighed. "And I really hate it here and I want to go home. So anyway, I found out there's a portal to Equestria at Canterlot High, so I decided to see if I could force it open with the pieces of my magic jewel and a car battery. I think maybe it was starting to work, but something went wrong, and...here you are."
Kim frowned as she digested this. "So...you were using a busted magical doo-dad to tamper with a portal to another world that you don't know anything about?"
Sonata thought about that. "Yep!"
"Oy." Kim shook her head. "You said there were other girls who have magic...why didn't you just ask them for help?"
"Umm, because we turned the whole school against them and made them fight with each other and then tried to kill them with our magic?"
"Yep, that's a good reason," Ron said.
"Well, right now it sounds like those girls are our best bet for finding a way out of this world and back to Middleton," Kim said. She took a bite of her salad. "So, this Equestria...you said it's inhabited by...ponies?"
"Uh-huh!" Sonata said. "These humans in this world, there's nothing like them in Equestria. Well, there's some minotaurs, and I think maybe a centaur? But no humans. It's all unicorns and pegasuses and earth ponies. It's funny that the people in this world speak the same language as the ponies in Equestria."
"Talking...horses?" Ron said.
"Frrreaky," Rufus murmured from inside a burrito.
Kim frowned. "You just said there's no humans in Equestria. But...you are a human..."
"Eh, here I am, yeah," Sonata said. "In Equestria, we were seaponies. You know, half fish, half pony?" She gestured with a chimicherrychanga. "That Twilight Sparkle that came here from Equestria turned into a human too. I think it's just something about this world, or the portal or whatever. Coming here from Equestria turns you into a human."
"Well, we've seen magic do some pretty freaky stuff," Kim said.
"Oooh, your world has magic too?" Sonata asked.
"Some," Kim said. "It's pretty rare, though."
"Yeah, except that we always manage to run right into it," Ron added. "Especially if it's monkey magic."
"Hoo-hoo, monkey," Rufus chittered.
Sonata frowned. "That...thing...how can it talk?"
"What, Rufus?" Ron shrugged. "Beats me. I just figured it's something all naked mole-rats can do." He unwrapped a chimicherrychanga, inspecting it from every angle before taking a bite. His eyes widened. "Whoa."
"I know, right!" Sonata said.
"KP, you gotta try this," Ron said. "My mind...is blown."
Kim frowned. "What is it?"
Sonata tore her second chimicherrychanga in half and gave half to Kim. "It's kind of like a cherry pie except it's deep-fried and it's a tortilla instead of a pie crust and the filling is a little spicy."
Kim took a bite. "Huh. That's not bad."
"Oh, I have so got to get the recipe," Ron said. "Bueno Nacho should have these. It'll be the next naco!"
"Well, anyway...it looks like it's pretty late, so..." Kim sipped her soda. "We should finish eating, do whatever work they need us to do to pay off our food, then find a place to sleep."
Sonata sighed. "I guess...you'll have to come back to my place," she said. "I just hope Adagio and Aria don't act too cranky."
Once they finished eating, the manager assigned them various tasks. Kim was put to work cleaning the prep area, Ron was tasked with cleaning the men's restroom, and Sonata was asked to mop the floor and wipe down tables.
While Kim was cleaning the vegetable washing station, the girl with the shades and electric blue hair walked over. "Hey," she said, a concerned frown on her face.
"Yes?" Kim asked.
"I saw you hanging out with Sonata Dusk," the girl said. "You want to watch out for her. She's trouble."
"So I've heard," Kim said. "But we're a long way from home and she's trying to help us, so...for now, I trust her."
"Okay...just don't say I didn't warn you."
Once Kim, Ron, and Sonata had cleaned practically every inch of Taco Tuesday's, the manager bid them farewell, and Sonata led the displaced teens to a darker, grittier section of town. "Just so you know," she said, "our place is small and a little cramped...and not really all that cozy..."