Depression was a miserable thing. Not surprising, perhaps, but very frustrating in the dullest of ways, like something poking you in the back of the head with nothing you can do to stop it.
This was something the Dazzlings could all easily agree on following the loss of their magic, their voices, and the obscurity that had allowed them to use both to get by all this time. All three were lost in the Battle of the Bands, and they were quite down in the dumps about it. Part of it was the complete loss of their ability to sing in a way that wouldn't offend a rodent being stuffed through a pipe, along with their magic and everything else that made them sirens, more or less that which defined them back in their homeland, which they grew to accept they would never see again, and part of it was just a general funk. Whether or not this funk was related to that first reason, none cared enough to riddle out.
The only thing they could think to do now was lay around the house, the one paid for with ill-gotten wealth, nary a care in the world. That is to say, all three of them were strewn about the living room as though dropped like ragdolls, waiting for this mortality thing to kick in. They'd had a discussion on it the other day, how, if the gems were the source of all their magic, and agelessness was a form of magic, then shouldn't they have turned into dust that night on stage? They'd been alive... what, at least a century, prior to their banishment? The prospect of death didn't frighten them now, which might have been a silver lining to the situation if it didn't seem to be taking so long to get here. None of them even had wrinkles yet.
The only sound in the house would have been a ticking grandfather clock, but the trio had smashed that with a hammer, wrench, and crowbar when the noise had gotten too irritating. That had been fun.
Fun, fun, fun.
Garbed in their hoodie-and-jeans ensemble, they laid around nearly motionless. Aria Blaze was balanced on the back of the couch, Adagio Dazzle upside down in a recliner, her head on the footrest and feet in the air, and Sonata Dusk stretched out on the fluffy carpet in the middle of the room, as though sun-tanning with the ceiling light. She thought about getting sunglasses, but why bother?
At some point in the day, Sonata weakly called out to the ceiling. "Hey. Anyone feelin' all... dead?"
"Mmph," mmph'd Aria three minutes after the question was posed, not so much as turning her head.
Twenty minutes later, Sonata decided the matter was worth pursuing. "Didn't really answer the question, y'know."
Six minutes later, Adagio did an upside-down shrug. "How would she even know? None of us have been dead before."
"I mean, if one of you two have, share the story?"
Aria spoke up two minutes later. "That might be cool. Breakin' outta Hell or something. Find whoever didja in. Spook 'em good."
The three of them giggled immediately, which was a new record for-
Startled, all three of them jumped where they lay, Aria falling face-down into the actual seating part of the sofa. "Hrr," she muffled, not moving from where she'd landed, "smmbdy gt tht?"
Opting to do her duty as the leader, whether she felt even remotely suited to the title these days or not, Adagio got up. "'m onnit." Sluggishly, she shifted out of the recliner, landing with a light thud and staggering to her feet, immediately feeling a rush of vertigo as the excess blood in her head returned to its regular schedule.
"Ohh, holy, crap, can't...!"
If either of her fellow sirens cared enough to turn their heads, they'd have likely giggled as Adagio dizzily stumbled her way toward the front door, nearly smacking into it as she rested a hand on the wall by the doorknob and used it to support her own weight. She opened the door and was greeted by a familiar hate-figure.
"Sunshet shimmur. Whaddyou want?"
Sunset, wearing a new, blue outfit with a slightly smaller bad-girl jacket, smiled. "Hi! I wanted to talk to you three about-"
The door was slammed in her face.
Taking a quick breath, Sunset controlled her temper. She had expected this, and possibly worse, but as she wasn't being chased away by attack dogs or covered in bees yet, she figured she still had a chance, and knocked again.
Adagio opened the door again, looking just a little more composed this time. "Sunset Shimmer. What do you want?"
Sunset smiled. "I understand if you don't want to talk to me, but..." She waited, blinking once. Adagio was just staring back at her. The smile turned sheepish. "Uhm... S-sorry, I thought you were gonna slam the door on me right then."
Slamming it the first time had been more effort than it was worth if Sunset was still here. The staring continued. Maybe she could stare her off. Stare like a gorgon. Staaaaaare...
Ignoring the hair standing up on the back of her neck, Sunset noted that Adagio must have at least been healthy enough to still have one of the scariest faces she'd ever seen. So that was nice. She got to the point. "I wanted to talk about a sort of partnership, between your group and CHS in the upcoming Friendship Games. It's a simple arrangement; we can most likely restore your voices if you'll agr-URK!!"
Sunset was seized by the throat, Adagio holding her half a foot off the ground in both hands and glaring at her with the burning hate of a thousand exploding suns. "You. Have. Some. Goddamn. Nerve."
"Wait," rasped Sunset, her hands tugging at the ones on her neck, "ih-hit's t-true!"
The grip loosened slightly, but Adagio didn't let go. Her eyes misted as they glanced toward the living room, unsure if the others heard that sentiment. False hope was a cruel mercy, but if there was even the faintest chance that it wasn't a trick...? She dropped Sunset, muttering the apology under her breath. "S... s-sorry."
Managing a shaky smile as she massaged her own neck, Sunset stayed the course. "D-don't worry about it." Offering their friendship couldn't have been easy for Sunset's friends when it was her turn, and she wasn't about to back out just because it wasn't going perfectly. Think I did something similar to Pinkie once or twice... "Can I come in? I'd like to hear all three of your thoughts on this."
Hesitantly, Adagio stepped aside, pointing Sunset to the living room. Walking in, they found Aria still face-down on the sofa and Sonata sitting on the floor and facing them, waiting for news.
"Hey. What's goin' on, Dagi?"
Aria got up, visibly alarmed when she saw Sunset. "Deal?"
Sunset wasn't sure whether or not stepping out of arms' reach of Adagio would signal a lack of trust before she said this, so she said a silent prayer and stayed still. "I think I might be able to restore you guys' singing voices." She braced herself, but only got two wide-eyed stares and one very annoyed one back. "I've been doing some research on how the magic in this world works, came up with a few theories, and if I can run a few tests, you guys might have your voices back within a day."
For a long, tense moment, the trio was silent.
"A-and," Sonata quietly ventured, "what's the catch? Do we have to give you our souls? Offer a sacrifice? Rip the fingernails out of one hand?"
Sunset blanched. "Ah, eh, wha, ew, no, what?"
Aria facepalmed. "Told you not to watch that show, Sonata." She was answered with half-hearted raspberries.
Adagio cleared her throat, urging Sunset to keep going.
"Um... Well, all we, CHS, that is, all we really want in exchange, if this works, is a little help in the games."
Raising an eyebrow, Aria hazarded a guess. "Sabotage?"
So did Sonata. "'Roids? Because you've already got that big guy and he's gotta know somebody that can hook you up wi-"
All present looked at Adagio for a guess, but she didn't offer more than a blank stare while waiting for the actual answer. The big, grumpy spoil-sport.
Actually feeling hopeful, Sunset smiled. "We might need all the help we can get to stand a chance against Crystal Prep, but I think just having someone around to consistently help with morale would be good for us. That in mind, how would you three like to be cheerleaders?"
Dead silence. The sirens traded glances, none of their faces indicating any possible feelings on the proposal, which only made Sunset more nervous.
"And," Adagio inquired at length, "if this doesn't work, or if it does and wears off later, what then?"
Turning to her, Sunset frowned. "Then you have my deepest, sincerest apologies, because I understand what it's like having something precious, something you were good at, torn from you with little or no hope of recovery."
At this, Adagio finally smiled a little. It was like her usual, sinister smile, but with a hint more amusement than malice. "Oh, that's right, you came from Equestria too, didn't you?"
Her voice echoed in Sunset's memory. "We know ALL about you, Sunset Shimmer..." She guessed they really meant it, somehow. "Does that mean you'll accept?"
Still smiling, Adagio looked at her partners in crime, both of whom looked as though they were eagerly waiting for permission for something. "Any objections?"
Aria and Sonata shared a quick look of shock at the question, then both smiled and answered in unison. "No, ma'am!"
Nodding once, Adagio gave Sunset a somewhat reluctant look. "Deal. Lead the way."