Hours. They’d been standing beneath those black clouds for hours. Watching. Waiting. Adagio Dazzle, for reasons that escaped her, often wondered what her sisters were thinking. It was stupid to think that, for she already knew.
Aria broke that thickening silence. “At what point did telling them seem like a good idea, Adagio?” she asked.
The eldest siren didn’t really have an answer, and even if she did, speaking it would fall woefully short, for Aria already knew the answer. So she did what she’d been doing for the past hour since lunch; stood outside and let the ripping winds carry her thoughts away.
Surprisingly, Sonata was the one who answered. “They were going to figure it out anyways.”
Aria frowned into the sky. “I could’ve handled that. I just…” Her tone dropped. “Maybe I didn’t want to scare them either.”
“I thought you didn’t care,” Sonata said.
Aria’s frown crumbled, and she blinked back her tears for the fifth time in that hour. “I...I don’t.”
A swift bolt of lightning brightened the rooftops of Canterlot High School, and neither siren flinched.
“Liar,” Sonata whispered.
Aria said nothing to that. Silence wedged between them again, another handful of minutes floating by.
“It almost feels like he’s right here,” Adagio murmured. “Like he’s floating above us, watching right back. But he’s not.”
Her sisters continued to stare, and more minutes expired.
“Do you think they’ll ever wanna speak to us again? For keeping it a secret?” Sonata asked.
Aria and Adagio were both silent.
The wind picked up, whipping the girls’ hair across their faces.
“He’s so close,” Aria said, removing her starry hairclips.
Adagio slowly reached up and undid her own clip, letting her golden hair cascade to the back of her knees. “Yes. It won’t be long now.”
Sonata’s hairband followed, tossed carelessly on the ground. “Maybe there’s still a chance to change his mind. Maybe we can convince him to let them live.”
Years of practiced self-control and patience kept Adagio from telling Sonata just how wrong and stupid she was for saying that.
Rainbow Dash had bounced that soccer against the hallway trophy case for perhaps the four-thousandth time. That wouldn’t have bothered Sunset Shimmer all that much if her mind wasn’t racing. After all, how could anyone think of ways to prevent their impending doom without complete, total, absolute, unhindered concentration?
The soccer ball slammed against the glass and bounced across the hall.
“This is stupid!” Five pairs of eyes whipped to Rainbow Dash, then slowly peeled away from her. “I mean, come on! Are we really just gonna sit here and believe all that nonsense?!”
Fluttershy took a lock of her pink hair and stroked it. “They seemed awfully convincing to me.”
Rainbow threw a hand up. “Oh, right! If this is the real deal, if some giant freaking lizard is coming to kill us―and they knew―don’t you think we could’ve used that information days ago?!”
Sunset crossed her arms and leaned against the wall beside Pinkie Pie, her brow furrowed in thought.
Rarity looked up from her nails. “Darling, I agree with you, I do, but... surely they meant well.”
“Meant well?! By keeping it from us?!”
Applejack grunted tiredly and pressed a fist against her forehead. “Simmer down there, Rain―”
“No, screw that!” Rainbow shouted. “How could they keep something like this a secret?! What, it wasn’t enough that we forgave them after everything they did?!”
Pinkie pressed her index fingers together. “To be fair, we…we weren’t exactly honest with them either.”
Rainbow opened her mouth to protest, then clamped it shut with a defeated frown.
“Girl’s right, ya know,” Applejack added. “That mirror outside? It’s just as important to‘ em as it is to Twilight.” She surfed a hand through her blonde hair. “It’s their only way back to Equestria and they have no idea. We kept it from ‘em.”
Rainbow Dash skulked to the wall, pressed her back against it, and slid to her bottom. “Well...they didn’t exactly ask about it.”
“And we didn’t exactly ask about their family. Not really,” Rarity said.
A pregnant silence fell over the girls. Pinkie’s eyes locked to the floor she was sitting on.
“We’re terrible friends…” she said. No one argued that comment.
More pregnant silence. Pregnant with triplets. Somehow, despite inwardly begging for it, the silence nearly drove Sunset Shimmer mad.
Her eyes whipped to Fluttershy, and she realized she was biting her thumb just a little too hard.
“You’ve been awfully quiet since our little meeting at lunch,” Rarity said.
Applejack turned to look at the fiery haired girl. “You did go mighty pale when they talked about their dad.”
“I know him…” All eyes locked on Sunset like magnets to metal. “Th-that is, I know of him. I’m sure of it.”
Rainbow Dash leaned forward. “We’re listening.”
Sunset Shimmer’s teeth found her thumb again. “The way they described him, it couldn’t be anything else. Their father has to be…the Sky Eater.”
Another wave of silenced washed through the halls.
“O...kay?” Rainbow said with a hiked eyebrow.
Sunset pushed herself off the wall and began pacing. “In Equestrian lore, the Sky Eater was a magnificent creature, who swam across the cosmos on oceans of stars. Legend has it that he shared the Eternal Throne with Equestria’s very creator. As it was hers to bring life and new worlds, it was his to destroy and return those worlds to the dust from which they were forged.
It was balance at its most basic; Creation and Destruction. But one day, the Sky Eater threatened to destroy a world in its infancy, a world that the Creator loved dearly, with life she crafted in her image: Equestria. He declared Equestrian life intolerable, that it would become far too close to the Eternal Throne one day.
If the Creator didn’t stand up to him, and defeat him in battle, Equestria wouldn’t exist. As punishment for his crime, the Sky Eater was banished from the Eternal Throne, and forced to spend the rest of eternity floating among the stars, bound by his duty, bound to destroy dying worlds.
To ensure that every world wouldn’t fall to him, the Creator enchanted the Sky Eater. Should he ever devour a world that still teems with life, his body would be utterly destroyed, and he’d be cursed to wander the cosmos as a harmless spirit.”
Sunset Shimmer realized she’d closed her eyes, and when she opened them, everyone was staring. Her face grew a tad too warm for her liking.
“I-I read a lot when I lived in Equestria,” she said, scratching behind her head.
Rarity gave a nervous laugh, “Darling, are you implying that the sirens’ father is some kind of… divine beast? A god?”
Sunset shrugged. “Truth is, I don’t really know. I didn’t really believe any of that stuff when I read it. At least, you know, not until now.”
“Okay, back up,” Rainbow said with a raised palm. “So this Eye Skeeter―or whatever you called him―can’t even do anything without screwing himself? Then what have we been worrying about?!”
Sunset started pacing again. “I don’t know. If the legend is true, then we shouldn’t have to worry.” she cast her gaze to the floor. “But the sirens, they… I can’t help but think that I missed something.”
The silence returned for only a few seconds. “Maybe Princess Twilight will know,” Fluttershy offered. “She knew about the sirens, maybe she knows about their dad. Maybe their legends are connected somehow.
Sunset suddenly remembered her backpack was on. She unstrapped it, took out her old magic journal, and stared at it.
“I’ve been trying to reach Princess Twilight all day today.” Sunset’s brow furrowed. “She hasn’t written me back yet.”
Pinkie shifted in her seat. “Well, being a princess and all, I bet she’s super busy,” she said.
Sunset’s gaze lingered on the book for a while. “Maybe…”
A loud boom of thunder rattled floor and walls, this one louder than the ones before.
“Not to alarm an o’ y’all,” Applejack stood to her feet, “but that there storm ain’t leavin’ us anytime soon. And it’s gettin’ worse.”
Sunset glanced at her wrist-watch. “And the last bell rings in ten minutes. If ‘daddy’ shows up as their all leaving―”
“It’d be quite a show,” Rarity finished with a grimace. “Indeed…”
With a huff, Rainbow Dash lifted off her rear and marched away.
“H-hey, where you off to in such a hurry, sugarcube?” Applejack asked.
“To get my guitar, of course,” Rainbow replied, never looking back. “If I’m goin’ down, I’m goin’ down fighting.”
The girls all exchanged unsure glances, but nodded all the same. They set out to follow their athletic friend, to retrieve their own musical instruments.
The front door flew open, and the girls whirled back to the noise. It was Adagio, Aria, and Sonata, their hairpieces abandoned, clothes wrinkled from the howling winds outside. The six girls all stared at them, and they stared right back.
“So…” Sunset said.
“So…?” Adagio repeated.
“Crazy weather we’re having, huh?” Everyone shot Pinkie a glare. “Well, someone had to say it!”
Rainbow Dash looked away with crossed arms.
“Look,” Adagio carefully began, “I know we shouldn’t have kept it a secret, but―” Rainbow Dash gave a throaty ‘hmph’ “―but surely you understand why. Don’t you?”
Sunset stepped forward, her eyes uncertain, lost. “We do, and we have no right to blame you, Adagio. Truth is… we haven’t kept you completely up to speed ourselves.”
The former unicorn turned to a frightened Rarity, but turned right back to the now-confused sirens.
“You were honest with us. So, naturally…”
“What are you talking about?” Aria asked.
After a final, unsure look to her friends, each of them with varying degrees of compliance, Sunset faced the former singers and took a breath.
“The statue in front of the scho―”
“Attention all students.
All eyes whipped to the intercom speaker above.
“This is your principal speaking. Due to worsening weather conditions, you are all instructed to stay inside the building until further notice. Thank you.”
A symphony of muffled groans and complaints buzzed down the hallways. Sunset felt eyes on her again. She looked back at the sirens, and they were staring at her.
“You were saying?” Sonata asked with a tilted head.
Suddenly, Sunset wasn’t too sure of her choice.
“Well… You see, I… uh…”
A louder boom of thunder roared outside, this one the very loudest. Eyes wide and frightened, the sirens ran back to the door, their hands pressed against the glass. The others followed. When they looked outside, all of them gawked.
The sky was ravaged, whipped and torn by lightning bolts. The winds shook the cars outside, alarms going off here and there. A greater bolt struck the statue in front of the school. The horses eyes flashed yellow, and the mirror glowed dimly.
Another bolt struck the statue, this one blinding.
Moment passed, and the girls unshielded their eyes. Sunset squinted through the door window, leaning closer. The winds receded a bit, and the lightning stopped, but the clouds remained.
“Wait. Who is that?” Sunset asked.
The other girls finally recovered and peered through the glass again. Someone was lain on the ground outside, right in front of the statue.
“He…he wasn’t there before,” Rainbow Dash said. “Was he?”
“I don’t think so,” Fluttershy replied. “It doesn’t look like he’s moving.”
“Maybe we should help?” Pinkie suggested.
The body twitched to life, and well-sized arms craned up. Those arms shook as he lifted himself. He fell back down, his elbow the only thing keeping his face from hitting the floor. Seconds passed, and the stranger rose to his knees.
He remained on all fours for a time, then rose to kneel, one hand on the ground, the other raised to keep balance.
His limbs shook beneath his white robe, the wind wafting the straps around his waist. He rose further, but fell back down, kneeling again. His raised hand closed to a fist and he tried again. He stood on his own two feet and stayed there.
He looked up at the sky, his armored chest held out, spiked, grey beard moving with the wind
He inspected his hand, observing the sharp metal that covered every finger and knuckle. His eyes combed the rest of himself. He ran an armored hand across his face, through his spiked beard.
He raised a hand to the sky and waved his wrist. The clouds waved with it.
He brought his hand back down and clenched it. He nodded and began observing the campus.
“Those eyes…” Adagio whispered. “It can’t be.”
“Of course it can’t,” Aria said. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
The final school bell rang, and the man’s yellow eyes flashed in their direction.
Sonata gave a loud gasp, her hands shooting up to her mouth. “It’s… It’s him. I know it’s him.”
“Hang on,” Rainbow said. “I thought your dad was huge! Like, cover-the-sky huge. Doesn’t look so tough from where I’m standing.”
Sunset Shimmer started to shake. If that man was indeed the sirens’ father, and he came through the portal, then something was wrong. Something was definitely, horribly wrong.
Adagio’s hands slid off the window and fell to her sides, her eyes blank, disbelieving. “We must go to him.”
Even Aria didn’t argue with that, despite her earlier doubts. Sonata bit her knuckle and her eyes never left the newcomer.
“We have to be sure,” Adagio said.
The man began walking toward the school, his steps unhurried, patient. The sirens turned to the six girls just as the expected tide of displeased students flooded the hallway.
“Listen,” Adagio began. “I...I’m not really sure what to say, except...I wish things could be different.”
“It’s been fun, all things considered,” Aria added.
“Maybe we can, you know, get him to let you off the hook,” Sonata finished with a forced smile.
Soon, it became obvious hard hard the sirens tried to look at them, and their eyes wondered to everything else.
The six friends didn’t even have words, each of them looking like they’d say something, scream something, anything. But neither of them did. Sonata exchanged Pinkie Pie a look, and immediately looked away.
“Sonata?” Pinkie gently called out.
The blue siren choked on a sob and turned around completely. Her sisters turned around too.
“Thanks for the memories, girls,“ Adagio muttered.
With that, the sirens shoved the doors open and walked out of Canterlot High School for the last time. The roar of the student body followed almost immediately.
“Hey, what’s the big idea?!”
“How come they get to leave?!”
“The Great and Powerful Trixie demands justice!”
As the shouting tide approached the door, Sunset Shimmer and her friends barred in front of the door, facing them.
“Everyone just settle down,” Applejack said.
“They have… somewhere to be right now,” Pinkie Pie sadly added.
“Well, we have places to be too!”
The crowd roared in agreement, and Sunset grimaced.
The sirens stood outside the door, their hair once again thrown about by powerful winds. The man stopped marching and stopped several feet from the staircase.
His yellow eyes locked on them and narrowed. With a synchronized breath, the three sisters joined hands and walked down the stairs. Every step brought weight to each of their shoulders, but they remained tall, never looking away from those commanding yellow eyes.
They stopped before him, and remained silent.
His eyes dilated for only a second, then softened.
“My children,” he said.
There was no more question. The sirens cupped their hands to their own chests, and knelt before their father, heads bowed, eyes closed. Cold iron gently fell on Adagio’s head, and she gave a tiny gasp.
She opened her eyes and saw her father kneeling as well, looking at her―no, looking right through her. His hand slid down to her cheek.
“What is a father to do?” he asked.
Adagio’s eyes fell to the ground. That cold iron hand left her, and those knuckles gently touched Sonata’s cheek. The youngest siren squeaked and jerked away.
“I put all my faith in you three, and you produce only failure.” His hand found Sonata’s other cheek, but she didn’t jerk away that time. She leaned into the cold touch, shivering, her eyes still closed. “You produce only reasons for me to worry about you, to wonder if I pushed you too hard.”
His other hand smoothed Aria’s purple bangs aside.
“I granted you freedom to enslave Equestria however you chose. You lost it. I gave you the means to do so again. You squandered it. And now…”
Adagio felt a much larger forehead press against hers. And she didn’t even try to stop her tears.
“Now, your voice―your birthright―is lost.” He pulled the other sirens close. “What is a father to do when he fails as a teacher? What is he to do when his children do not learn, when they fail again and again?”
Adagio’s sisters shed their own tears, but neither made a sound, or could even look their father in the eye. Two suffocating arms bound them all together and wrapped gently around them. Perhaps by obligation, or perhaps by instinct, the sirens returned the embrace.
“What is a father to do?”
“He can forgive us…” Aria whispered.
He pulled away from them, his strong eyes shifting from one to the other. “Yes. Yes he can.”
The smallest smiles found the sirens’ faces. Sky Eater rose to his feet.
“Now then.” His seasoned face darkened with a frown. “Where are they?”
They bowed their heads again and said nothing.
“These humans that dare defile you. Where are they?”
Again they said nothing, and the armored man shook his head.
“Still, you protect them? Still, you’re blinded by their lies? Their ‘friendship’?”
Again they said nothing, but they started to sweat and shake. He looked up at the school once again. “Are they in there?”
“Please…” Adagio whispered. “Please just let them go.”
Sky Eater flicked his wrist. The three girls yelped as they were flung aside into a heap of tangled limbs. He strode forward again, armored legs peeking through his white robe.
Sonata tore herself from the heap and stood. “Father, no! They don’t deserve this!”
He didn’t stop. “You forget your place, whelp,” he said. Sonata flinched and fell back to her knees. “You three are to wait for me beside the portal. We will leave when I say.”
The three sisters exchanged confused looks. “What...what portal are you talking about?” Aria asked.
Sky Eater stopped right in his tracks, eyes wide with disbelief. He turned his head to the left. “The portal from which I entered.”
Sonata tilted her head, Aria shrugged, and Adagio just shook her head. Their father stared straight at the school again.
“You didn’t know?” he asked quietly. “They didn’t tell you?”
They asked in unison. “Tell us what?”
Sky Eater’s armored back remained to his daughters, an unseen smile growing and growing.
Applejack fell back against her locker, gripping her bass guitar. “Land sakes, that was bad.”
Rarity polished her piano guitar. “Thank heavens for Principal Celestia . If not for her gifted speaking, we’d have had a riot on our hands.”
Rainbow Dash tuned her guitar. “I think that’s the least of our worries right now, girls.” She frowned at her frets. “‘Case you forgot, the sirens left, and we’ve gotta date with ‘daddy’.”
Sunset strapped her own guitar on her shoulder. “Yeah…”
Fluttershy stopped spinning the tambourine on her finger and looked at the former unicorn. “I know this is a silly time to ask, but… are you okay, Sunset Shimmer?”
“No! I’m not okay,” Sunset snapped. All eyes fell on her for the fourth time that day. “He came through the portal. That beast came here from Equestria!”
Pinkie’s hair sagged a little. “Oh…”
“Yeah, big ‘oh’.” Sunset leaned on the locker beside Applejack. “Is that why Twilight hasn’t written me back? W-what if something happened? What if… what if―”
“Now you just hold your horses, pony-girl,” Applejack said with a strong pat on her friend’s shoulder. “Twilight Sparkle can handle herself. We’ve all seen it. Plus, if everything you told us about this feller’s even remotely true, he wouldn’t touch her, or anyone else in Equestria, right?”
Sunset bit her lip and squeezed the neck of her guitar.
Rarity strode beside her. “Just try not to think about it, dear.”
Sunset shook her head with a sardonic laugh. “It’s all I can think about.” She pushed herself from the locker, and walked aimlessly down the hall. “I swear, if he’s done anything to her, to Celestia, or my parents, I’ll…”
She stopped in her tracks
She blinked several times before she finally realized someone stood in her path. Sunset stared straight at the robed abdomen. Her eyes slowly trailed up―jaw falling open―until she saw glowing yellow eyes.
“Oh, no, please,” Sky Eater said, “do go on.”