Rarity drummed her fingernails on the arm of the chair in annoyance. "Rainbow Dash, could you please turn off that repulsive garbage?"
"No way!" Rainbow replied. "Fajeeta's about to fight Sof Taku! I never get to see this episode!"
On Sunset's living room television, a Neighponese cartoon about overly muscular men in gaudy ponchos and sombreros was playing. The two men on the screen were glaring at each other while hunkering down and grunting as though straining to take a massive shit. Rainbow and Pinkie sat watching the screen with rapt attention.
"Let 'em watch their silly cartoon, Rarity," Sunset said. "I don't mind." Behind her, Fluttershy sat running a brush though the unicorn's mane.
Rarity sighed. "Now I wish I'd gone with Applejack to get the food," she said.
Fluttershy gasped suddenly. "Can...can you even eat human food?" she asked Sunset. "I mean...is it safe?"
Sunset shrugged. "Shouldn't be a problem. I mean, you eat pretty much the same stuff here that we eat in Equestria. Well, except you eat a lot more meat and preservatives than ponies do."
Rarity turned to look at her with interest. "You said more meat," she said. "Does that mean—"
"Just fish and poultry, and not all that often," Sunset said. "Well...and I think pork sometimes maybe? I've seen it served, I know earth ponies raise hogs and hogs aren't sapient back home, so..." She frowned. "Huh. Actually, I never really thought about the pigs before..." She shrugged. "Anyway, we don't eat a lot of it, and we don't eat the meat of anything sapient, like cows or sheep."
"I should hope not," Rarity said, shuddering.
"Wait wait," Rainbow said. "Cows talk where you come from?"
"Sure do," Sunset said. She laughed. "I bet it makes milking them pretty awkward."
"Oh my," Fluttershy said. "I wouldn't feel comfortable milking a cow that could talk."
"Do they like, get off on it?" Rainbow wondered. "Are they like, 'oooh yeah, pull my udder, baby—'"
"RAINBOW DASH!" Rarity snapped harshly.
Pinkie rolled around on the floor giggling helplessly. "Tha-that was so, so wrong!"
"Can we please not talk about this again ever?" Fluttershy asked, her cheeks burning.
"Seconded," Sunset said with a sick grimace. "I'm gonna have nightmares about perverted cows forever now."
Applejack returned, carrying three large bags of takeout food. "Did Ah miss anythin'?" she asked.
"Just pervy cows," Rainbow said.
Applejack blinked. "If'n you say so." She went to the kitchen and started unpacking bags; Rarity got up to help her. Working together, the two of them swiftly laid out dinner for six.
"So, any new ideas on what t' do about this?" Applejack asked as they tucked in.
Sunset sighed. "All we can do is wait for Princess Twilight." She frowned. "Oh my gosh...what if she tries to come here? What if—"
"What if she comes out of the portal and doesn't change?" Rarity asked. "Yes, that thought had occurred to me as well. I mean, we've all been aware for some time now that the two of you are...not exactly human, but until now I'd never given much thought to the whole thing." She tilted her head. "Do you think she'll change if she comes through? Or will she change and then have this happen to her too?"
Sunset shrugged. "I have no idea. I don't even know why this happened."
Halfway through dinner, the journal began to glow and vibrate. The girls all looked at one another apprehensively.
Sunset took a deep breath, opened it, and read:
I sent Spike through the portal as a test to see what would happen. When he came back, he reported that he didn't turn into a dog this time. Luckily nobody saw him, but until I understand what's going on, I can't risk coming to your world.
While the portal was open, I did notice one strange thing. The thaumetric pressure between our two worlds had a much more even reading than it did the last time I was there. I'll need to consult with Princess Celestia and do some research in Starswirl the Bearded's library in Canterlot, but I have a theory, and if I'm right...this isn't the only thing that's about to happen to your world. You need to be careful and watch out for yourself. I know you can take care of yourself, but don't take any crazy chances.
It may take a while to research the change in thaumetric pressure and what it means. I'm closing the portal in the meantime, and I recommend you tell Principal Celestia what's going on. At the very least, it'll make it easier for her to understand the situation and cover for you at school.
I'm sorry, but you'll have to deal with this for now. Best of luck! I'll get back to you as soon as I possibly can.
Princess Twilight Sparkle
Sunset closed the journal and floated it over to her living room bookshelf.
"So...Twilight can't fix this?" Pinkie asked, worry in her eyes.
Sunset sighed. "I don't know if she can or not," she said. She sank low to the floor, her ears pinned back. "I don't...want to have to go back to Equestria and leave you girls," she said. "But if...if Twilight can't find a way to make me human again..."
"It doesn't matter," Rarity said. "Friendship conquers all, does it not? Whatever happens, we'll find a way to remain friends for life."
"You bet we will!" Rainbow agreed.
"Always," Fluttershy said with a smile.
Sunset sniffled. "Thanks..." She frowned. "Thaumetric pressure," she mused, rubbing her muzzle with a hoof. "Thaumetric pressure...leveling out..."
"What the heck is whatever that is?" Rainbow asked.
"Well, you know how the weather behaves according to atmospheric pressure?" Sunset asked. At Rainbow's confused headshake, she groaned. "The rest of you pay attention in science class, right?"
"When th' pressure's high, th' air is dry," Applejack said. "When th' pressure's low, she's gonna blow."
Sunset rolled her eyes. "Something like that." She stood up and began to pace. "Well, the flow of magic behaves a lot like the flow of air currents. In Equestria, all that means is that some places, like Canterlot, have a higher concentration of magic than other places, like the Buffalo tribe lands. Ponies shape the flow and pressure of magic in Equestria by using—or not using—their innate magic.
"But until I brought Twilight's crown through the portal, this world was a virtual magical dead zone. Magic couldn't exist here because the world itself suppressed it, and the only time magic of any kind ever really functioned was when the portal was open. The portal is an anomaly in this world's natural thaumetric pressure."
Sunset looked around at her friends. "But then you all became connected to the Elements of Harmony," she said. "You manifested Equestrian magic. Then the Sirens, whose magic had been suppressed by this world's thaumetric pressure, became more powerful when they entered a pocket of thaumic turbulence, namely CHS." She frowned. "Using the journal to force open the portal, then all the magic we unleashed at the Battle of the Bands..."
"Sounds t' me," Applejack said slowly, "like yer sayin' Equestria's a big pitcher full'a lemonade, an' our world's a big empty glass. An' all this pony magic stuff goin' on lately done poured us a big tall glass o' lemonade."
"That's...actually a pretty good analogy," Sunset said. "We've flooded this world with so much Equestrian magic that whatever force turns ponies into humans when they cross the portal...broke. Ponies and their magic can exist in their natural state in this world now." She frowned. "But if that's the case, then..."
"So is there any way we can, y'know, pour this magic lemonade back in the pitcher?" Rainbow asked.
Sunset shook her head. "I don't know, but...if there's a way to fix this, it has to happen on Princess Twilight's side." She gestured with a hoof. "I think, anyway. It's been a long time since I studied this kind of thing, but I'm pretty sure they'll have to find a way to suck all the Equestrian magic back through the portal."
"Oh! Like cleaning up an oil spill?" Fluttershy asked. "Or sucking the venom out of a snake bite?"
Everyone stared at her.
"...wow, Fluttershy," Sunset said after a moment. "For someone who likes the idea of talking magical ponies, you sure make us sound like a bad thing."
Fluttershy ducked her head. "Sorry," she said softly. "I just...I wanted to try making an analogy too..."
Sunset rolled her eyes. "Anyway...the biggest problem with that is that all the magic has to go. Which means..." She swallowed. "I'll have to be turned human again and drained of my natural magic, or...or go back to Equestria. And...the portal would have to be sealed. Forever."
The others gasped. "You mean...we'd never see you or Twilight ever again?" Pinkie said softly, her hair wilting.
"That's worst-case scenario!" Sunset said, making a placating gesture with her hooves and smiling reassuringly. "Don't worry, I-I'm sure Princess Twilight will come up with a better solution!"
In the tense, miserable silence that followed, Rarity cleared her throat. "Well then," she said. "Until we hear back from Twilight, we'll simply have to deal with this situation as best we can. You'll need to ask Principal Celestia to come over here so you can explain everything to her, of course. The rest of us will need to tend to your shopping and bringing you homework assignments and such." She paused. "And I'll need to take your measurements so I can create a wardrobe for you. Not to be indelicate, darling, but...you're quite naked at the moment."
Sunset frowned. "Well, yeah...I might have lived in Canterlot, but I was never one for dressing up like the elite snobs..."
Rarity's cheeks turned slightly pink. "Err...yes, well...my point is..."
"Yer twat's a-showin'," Applejack said.
Sunset planted her rump firmly on the ground, eyes wide and mouth flat. "Yeesh," she said. "Sorry, it's just...ponies don't really pay attention to that. Not like here." She ducked her head. "But...you're probably right. I guess I'll need something to wear until all this is settled." Her ears fell. "Even though I'm probably not leaving this apartment anytime soon..."
Fluttershy hugged Sunset tightly. "It'll be alright," she said soothingly. "We're all here with you, no matter what."
"Yeah!" Pinkie agreed, joining the hug. "Bestest friends forever!"
"Uh-huh!" Rainbow said, grinning confidently.
"You betcha!" Applejack chimed in.
"Absolutely, darling!" Rarity said.
"WONDERCOLTS FOREVER!" the six of them cheered, jumping into the air.
And then the five human girls spontaneously grew pony ears and tails, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy grew wings, and Rarity grew a horn out of her forehead.
They all paused and blinked at one another.
"Whuh-oh," Applejack said.