“Now, are you sure you’ll be all right here by yourself, Spike?”
Spike crossed his arms across his chest in response. “Twilight, this isn’t the first time I’ve been home alone, I’ll be fine!”
“I know, but I still worry sometimes. You are still a baby dragon after all.” Leaning down, Twilight lightly kissed him on his forehead, causing the young drake to stick his tongue out in disgust.
The alicorn giggled at Spike’s response, before turning her attention to the machine at the back of the room, the Crystal Mirror placed dead center within the machinery. Lighting her horn, she picked up a book marked with the image of a shimmering sun in her magic, gently maneuvering it onto a platform right next to the mirror. With another light of her horn, the entire thing sparked to life, the previously reflective surface of the mirror shifting to a kaleidoscope of colours.
“So, remind me again why you’re going off through the mirror?” Spike asked, “With Applejack and Rarity off following The Map, I would have thought you’d be buried in work, especially considering how busy this week’s been.”
“I would have, but Sunset Shimmer and the girls invited me to spend some time with them. From what they've told me, there’s some holiday coming up in their world that warrants a long weekend, and it just sounded too tempting to pass up! So I may have pushed a few things ahead to make sure my schedule was clear.”
Spike raised an eyebrow at that. “A ‘few’ things?”
“Okay, maybe more than a few! But regardless, it’s been too long since I’ve visited Sunset and the others. This seemed like as good a time as any.”
As she stood before the mirror portal, she looked over her shoulder back at her number-one assistant. “You’re sure you don’t want to come, Spike?”
“Yep. After the week we’ve had, I think I deserve a little bit of rest myself, and I’d much rather not spend it as a dog. This dragon’s got a pile of comic books with my name on it!”
Twilight couldn’t help but smile at his enthusiasm. If only he had that same enthusiasm when cleaning his room. “Ok, I should only be gone for a few days. Just make sure to go to bed on time. And try not to overdo it on the ice-cream while I’m gone. Remember the last time?”
Twilight just rolled her eyes at Spike’s comment, before looking back towards the Crystal Mirror. She had made this trip enough times before that the fact that she was traveling to another world entirely no longer fazed her. With a quick “See you when I get back!”, Twilight stepped through the magical portal.
“Bye! Have fun!” Spike replied back. Once she had disappeared from sight, Spike turned away from the mirror and towards the door, rubbing his claws together in excitement. “Alright! Power Ponies #23, here I—”
The crackling of electricity caused Spike to pause mid-step, turning around to face the still active portal. At first, nothing seemed amiss, until another bolt of energy arced across a portion on the left side of the machine.
“Oh, that’s not go—”
With a loud pop, a piece of the machine suddenly fractured, causing a bright flash of light to fill the room. Spike barely had enough time to cover his eyes before the smell of smoke reached his nostrils. Having lived with Twilight his entire life, Spike had learned long ago that smoking machinery was never a good sign.
Uncovering his eyes, Spike looked on in horror at the spot of ash on one section of the machine, the fragments of a no doubt important piece of machinery littering the floor below it. The Crystal Mirror sputtered as the apparatus keeping it open shut down, briefly flashing between shifting colors and its regular mirrored surface before finally shutting down completely.
“Oh no! Twilight!” Running over to the portal, Spike tried everything he could to get it to turn on again, pressing a few random buttons and pulling various levers while praying that he could get it to start up. When it ultimately didn’t, Spike began to pace back and forth in a panic as a slew of questions passed through his mind.
What had happened? Could he fix this? If not, how long until the mirror opened on its own? Among these questions was a far more pressing concern though: Had Twilight made it through okay?
Running back over to the ruined portion, Spike leapt up and grabbed the book off its platform. Despite what had happened, the book still appeared to be in perfect condition, which was a good sign despite the state of the portal. Grabbing a quill off a nearby table, Spike hurriedly scribbled a message onto the most recent page. Once he had finished, he glanced back at the inert mirror.
Oh Twilight, please be okay!
“Ugh…” Twilight groaned as she slowly opened her eyes, wincing as the sun caused the pain in her head to only worsen. No matter how many times she had gone through the portal, it had never gotten any less unpleasant. She had even begun entertaining the idea that the portal itself enjoyed causing her misery in some way, as sufficiently magical objects had been known to develop a limited form of sentience after existing for long enough.
Once the sun had stopped assaulting her eyes, she could finally take in her surroundings. The sight of Canterlot High made it clear that her trip had been a successful one, if a bit rough. She had tried to time her arrival so that classes had already ended for the day and most of the students had already gone home, hoping to avoid the chance of anyone seeing her arriving, and the empty campus seemed to support that idea.
After a few moments, her headache had finally subsided enough that Twilight was able to push herself up and onto her feet, only for her to wobble for a few seconds before falling forward onto her hooves. That was weird, Twilight thought. She was sure she had mastered walking on her back legs and-
Glancing downward, Twilight was greeted to the sight of her front hooves. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a cause for concern. She was a pony after all, so she should have been more shocked if she didn’t have hooves, like the first time she had come to this world.
The fact that she wasn’t in Equestria and yet still had hooves was however a reason to worry.
Spinning around, Twilight turned to face the portal she had come from, only to find a towering monolith instead, forcing her to have to crane her neck back just to catch a glimpse of the horse statue built into the top of the monument. She distinctly remembered the portal being nowhere near this tall the last time she had been here.
Looking back down at the mirror portal, the reflection that stared back at her was not the one she had come to expect while in this world, but rather one she would see if she looked in her bathroom mirror back home. Fluffing her wings for a second, her reflection mimicked her actions perfectly, proving to that what she was seeing was real.
“This… this shouldn’t be possible.” Twilight muttered to herself. Every time an Equestrian had traveled through the portal into the human world, they had appeared transformed into something else on the other side. Had something gone wrong when she’d crossed over?
Twilight could feel a hint of panic begin to bubble up within her, but a quick use of the breathing technique Cadance had taught her made short work of that. Now wasn’t the time for panicking, now was the time for thinking clearly.
Alright, so…she was still a pony. A pony in an entirely different world, one where a purple coloured pony with wings and a horn would garner more than a bit of attention, most of it not the good kind either. Images of her being found, hauled off to some secret lab in the middle of nowhere and then having unspeakable experiments performed on her suddenly filled her mind.
Oh, how she so desperately wished she hadn’t let Rainbow Dash talk her into watching that hilariously bad science fiction movie at their last movie night!
There was that panic again. Breathe Twilight… breathe. Okay, so she was still a pony, but she would have a better time figuring out the “why” back home with all her proper researching equipment. Walking up to the mirror, she put her hoof against the reflective glass, expecting to sink into it like it was made of water and allowing her to return to Equestria and try again another day.
Yet all she felt was the cool surface beneath her hoof. She stood there a few more seconds, silently hoping that the portal would randomly open and let her step through back into her world, but to no avail.
“Oh no, oh no, oh no!” The panic Twilight had been working to keep buried resurfaced once more. This was bad, very bad! Why wasn’t the portal working? Without it, she might not be able to return home! She could be stuck here for the next twenty moons! Or maybe even more, she hadn’t been keeping track! Oh, she really should have been keeping track in case something like this happened!
Who would look after Spike then? He might have no idea she was even trapped here! How long would it take for him to realize that she wasn’t coming back? If only she had some way to send him a message…
Message… That’s it! The journal!
If she could get her hands…er, hooves on Sunset Shimmer’s journal, then she could send a message back through the portal. The whole reason she had even come to this world was to visit her friends on the other side, and she had distinctly told them when she had planned to come over. Once she didn’t arrive on time like she said, at least one of them would no doubt come looking for her. All she had to do was wait till then and—
“Eeeek!” Leaping behind the monument, Twilight pressed her back against it as her heart hammered away in her chest. Taking a peek out from behind her hiding spot, she just managed to catch the sight of a car speeding down the road. As she breathed a sigh of relief, Twilight wrapped her wings around her like a makeshift blanket as she looked towards the seemingly vacant school building.
I really hope someone comes soon…
“And… that’s the last of it!” Despite the protesting hinges, the doors to the gym’s equipment room slammed shut thanks to a forceful push from the school’s head coach, Bulk Biceps. Dusting off his hands, he turned to the fiery haired girl next to him, who was currently wiping her hands on the knees of her jeans.
“Finally…” Sunset swore she heard her arm crack as she began stretching out her sore limbs. A lot of that equipment had not been what she would have called “light”.
“I really appreciate the help. I know with the long weekend, you’d much rather be doing anything than helping me put all this away.”
“Oh no, it’s all right! I was happy to help!” Truthfully, Bulk Biceps was half right. She had been on her way to meet up with the others before Twilight arrived, but had run into the coach in the process of putting away all the gym equipment. In the past she might have just let him be and went on with her plans, but now she couldn’t exactly leave him to do all this by himself, now could she?
Despite her protesting joints and muscles though, she had been happy to help. Plus, even after the Battle of the Bands had improved her already shaking reputation with a surprising number of the students and teachers, anything to help show everyone that she really had changed was a welcome endeavour.
Coach Biceps gave a hearty laugh before slapping Sunset on the shoulder, very nearly bowling her over. “That’s the spirit! Now, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s about time both of us headed home. My wife promised to make something special for dinner and I can already taste it from here! YEAH!”
Sunset only slightly flinched at the Coach’s distinctive outburst. “I should probably get going too.” Saying a quick goodbye to the coach as he skipped (yes, skipped) out of the gym, Sunset walked over to the bleachers to retrieve her backpack.
As she reached the bleachers however, she could just make out a light humming noise coming from her bag. Reaching into one of the pockets, she pulled out her phone, but frowned when she saw she hadn’t gotten any new messages since she had sent Pinkie Pie a text telling her she might be a bit late, besides Pinkie’s rather cheerful sounding reply back. So if it wasn’t her phone, then that could only mean one other thing.
Unzipping the main section of her backpack, she pulled out a decently sized tome, emblazoned with her old Cutie Mark on the cover. Every few seconds the book would vibrate slightly, emitting a purple aura as it did so.
Sunset nearly slapped herself. She had forgotten she was supposed to pick up Twilight! Figuring that Twilight must be wondering where she was, she opened up the book and flipped to the newest page.
However, the message that she found waiting for her was not what she had been expecting at all. Frequent correspondences with Twilight had proven that the Princess of Friendship was very meticulous with her writing, and had very neat horn writing. What was scrawled on the page was neither of those things, and could be better defined as rough chicken-scratch that Sunset actually had to squint at for a moment or two to make legible.
Sunset Shimmer, this is Spike. A piece of the portal broke after Twilight went through it, and now I can’t get it to turn back on! I don’t even know if Twilight made it there safely or not! I need you to-
Sunset didn’t bother reading any further, slamming the book shut and tucking it under her arm before hastily grabbing her backpack and racing from the gym and through the school. She should have been worried about possibly running into a teacher and getting a lecture, but right now she had bigger things to worry about.
It may have been forever since the pony-turned-human had studied any kind of magical theory, but years of studying under Princess Celestia had drilled into her the dangers of a spell failing mid-casting. And Sunset was hard pressed to think of a spell more complex than one designed to travel between parallel words, so there was no telling what could have happened to Twilight.
Minutes later, Sunset Shimmer kicked open the front doors to the school and all but leapt down the front steps as she took off towards the school’s renowned monument. Skidding to a stop, Sunset would have taken a second to catch her breath, if the lack of a certain lavender-skinned girl wasn’t making her more concerned by the second.
“Twilight! Twilight! Can you hear me?” When no response came, she tried calling out again, ignoring how ridiculous she looked if anyone was around to see her right now. “Twilight! Are you there? Please answer me!” Again, she was met with silence in return.
Just as she was about to call out a third time, a voice barely above a whisper reached her ears. “S…Sunset Shimmer?”
“Twilight?” Oh, thank Celestia! Looking around, Sunset tried to find the source of the voice. “Where are you?”
“I’m over here, behind the statue.”
Relieved, but also slightly confused, Sunset began walking around the monument. “You’re not hurt, are you?”
“No, I’m alright. It’s just that there’s a… slight problem.”
“What kind of prob-” As Sunset Shimmer stepped behind to where Twilight was hiding, she stopped in place, her jaw hanging open at the sight of the miniature purple pony looking up at her with big eyes, rather than the human she was expecting to see.
“…Twilight? Is that you?” A bit apprehensively, the pony nodded their head in response. Taking a tentative step towards her, Sunset crouched down until she was almost eye level with Twilight now.
The only time Sunset had ever seen Twilight’s Equestrian form had been back when she had stolen her crown, and that had been more brief glimpses as she had been more concerned with not getting caught stealing from a princess. Yet Sunset Shimmer could still see the noticeable resemblance between the Human Twilight and the Pony Twilight, in particular the two toned stripes running through her hair. Plus, Sunset had always wondered in the back of her mind what an Equestrian would look like untransformed in this world, and now it looked like she was getting her answer.
Physically, Twilight looked no different than any other pony she could remember seeing back in Equestria. Obviously she had both a unicorn horn and wings unlike most ponies, but considering Twilight was an alicorn that wasn’t that big a surprise to her. What was a surprise however was just how small Twilight was.
Yeah, Princess Celestia had always liked to refer to her subjects as her “little ponies”, but Sunset Shimmer had always assumed that that was just her way of politely addressing her subjects, especially when she was easily twice the height of even the tallest pony. Looking at Twilight now though, she began to rethink that, as the alicorn mare looked to be no bigger than a large house cat or a small dog.
“What happened?” Sunset asked. “Why… why are you still a pony?”
“I’m not sure. I remember stepping through the mirror like I usually do, but for some reason I didn’t transform before I arrived.” Taking a deep breath for her own sake, Twilight continued, “And the portal’s closed for some reason, so I can only imagine something must have happened while I was traveling between the two worlds.”
“Ah!” Remembering that she still had the journal tucked under her arm, Sunset pulled it out and flipped to the most recent page. “Spike sent me a frantic message saying something had happened, so I rushed over here.” Sunset Shimmer took a second to read the rest of the message before turning it over for Twilight to see. “From what I can gather, the portal back in Equestria blew a fuse or something.”
Twilight’s eyes quickly scanned the hastily written message, which only partially succeeded in alleviating some of her previous worries. “Well, that explains a few things at least. The portal must have cut out right before it could transform me into a human.”
“All things considered,” Sunset interjected, “I’m pretty sure you not turning into a human was the best case scenario here.“
Twilight had to admit that she was right. I guess there’s a silver lining after all. “But now that you’re here, I can get a message back to Spike! Then the sooner I can figure out what went wrong, the sooner—“
The sound of several cars blaring their horns in the distance once more caught Twilight by surprise, causing her to jump in fright…
… Right into Sunset Shimmer’s arms.
“Whoa!” Sunset just barely managed to not topple backwards as the startled princess clung to her chest, shaking in fright. “Easy, Twilight! It’s just a car horn!”
Opening her eyes, it took Twilight a second to realize what she was doing, which prompted a blush to spread across her face once she did. “S-sorry. I don’t know what came over me…”
Sunset sighed. “It’s fine, just give me a little warning next time you’re going to do that.” Looking around, Sunset checked to make sure someone wasn’t watching them. “We should really get you out of the open first though. ”
“Y-yeah. That might be a good idea.”
As Sunset looked down at the pony in her arms, she racked her brain for a way to get Twilight out of here without being noticed. She could probably wrap her up in her jacket and carry her, but that had the potential to be just as conspicuous as carrying around a winged unicorn. If only she had something she could carry her in without being seen… aha!
Making sure to gently put Twilight back down, Sunset slung her backpack off her shoulder, turning it over and dumping everything out onto the grass. Luckily for her she hadn’t had time to make a trip to her locker after class had ended, so most of her textbooks were still back in the school.
Twilight raised an eyebrow at Sunset as she watched her empty her backpack of its contents. “What are you doing?”
Giving the bag one final shake to make sure there wasn’t anything stuck, she lowered the bag directly in front of Twilight, motioning with her hand towards the opening.
Twilight’s eyes widened as she picked up on Sunset’s meaning. “You can’t be serious.”
“It’s the best option I can think of right now. Unless you’ve got a better idea in mind?”
Twilight opened her mouth to respond, but then closed it when she couldn’t readily come up with an alternative solution. Reluctantly, she walked up to the open bag and climbed inside. After a few moments of moving around to find a more preferable position, Twilight felt the backpack being picked up off the ground.
“You okay in there?” Sunset Shimmer asked, peeking in through the bag’s opening at the unhappy looking pony inside.
“More or less…” Twilight grumbled.
Zipping the bag half-closed, making sure to leave a big enough opening for Twilight to look through, Sunset carefully placed the bag onto her back, gathered up what she had knocked out of the bag and set off towards the school’s parking lot.
The whole time, all Twilight could think about was now she knew how Spike had felt when they had first traveled to this world. Once this is all over, I’m getting him the biggest gems I can find.
Several minutes later, the two of them arrived at their destination, where Sunset’s motorbike was still locked up and waiting. A few of her friends, Rainbow Dash in-particular, had been surprised when they had learned she already had her license, especially considering even Rarity had yet to receive her full license. After years of memorizing complex magical circles, glyphs and runes, figuring out a few street signs had been relative child’s play.
Taking a second to unlock her bike, Sunset cracked open the under-seat compartment and retrieved her helmet, putting everything else in its place save for the journal and a pen. Hanging her helmet off her bike’s handlebars, she quickly went about replying to Spike’s previous message. After how much time had passed since he had sent it, the poor guy was probably beside himself with worry.
“Spike, I’ve found Twilight. She made it over here just fine, but the portal’s closed on this side as well. Me and the girls will look after her while she’s here, so don’t worry.”
Tapping her pen against her chin, she thought about what else to put down. “Hey, Twilight?”
“I’ve already let Spike know that you’re okay, but what else should I tell him? Should I let him know about your current… er, ‘condition’?”
Sunset’s backpack started to squirm slightly, which Sunset took as the pony shaking her head. “No, that might only make him worry more. Better to let him think nothing’s changed, though ask him if he could try and figure out what went wrong on his side, if he hasn’t already. All my notes on it should be with the others; just tell him to look for the ones marked ‘Crystal Mirror’. If he can’t figure it out on his own, then he might have to send a letter to the Princess asking for help.”
After making sure to jot down everything Twilight mentioned, Sunset closed the book before tossing it in with everything else, shutting the compartment and slipping on her helmet as she took her seat on the bike. Fishing her keys out of her pocket, she revved the engines, smiling as the bike purred to life.
As she backed out, she took a moment to glance over her shoulder towards her unwitting passenger. “You might want to hold onto something in there, Twi.” With a mischievous look on her face, she slid the face-shield on her helmet down, revving the engine once more for effect.
“Hold onto wh-iiieeeeeeeee!” Twilight’s screams were quickly drowned out as Sunset took off down the road.