• Published 1st Nov 2014
  • 20,636 Views, 1,634 Comments

A New Sun Rises - CommissarAJ



Sunset Shimmer has never needed anyone or anything - she had her magic, she had her ambition, and she had intellect. Others just stood in her way or held her down. So what do you do when your plans for world domination fall through?

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Act VI-V

It was close to noon by the time I shambled out of bed, still half-asleep and in such a disheveled mess that even Discord would’ve insisted I tidy up. I would have slept in even longer, but I was drawn to the kitchen by the delectable aroma of fresh-made pancakes. The other girls were already awake and eating, each one wishing me a ‘good morning’ as I stumbled in.

“Hurry up, Sunset, before Pinkie eats them all,” Rainbow Dash said as she waved me over.

Pinkie tried to say something in her defense, but her mouth was so full of food that all she accomplished was spraying Dash with flecks of her breakfast.

I took a seat at the dining table next to Twilight, just in time for Celestia to drop off a fresh stack of pancakes for us. Before I could start eating, however, my attention was drawn to my fellow Equestrian who was reading a book while she ate. Not just any book, either, but one of the journals that Ms. Yearling gave me. She was so absorbed in her reading that she barely even acknowledged my arrival.

“Find anything interesting in there?” I asked, if only to garner her attention.

“Nothing that’ll help you understand magic in this world any better,” Twilight reported. “But it is fascinating that this world has much more documented history about the Alicorn Amulet than mine.”

“Considering how much of it involved talks of ‘dark rituals’ and ‘ancient gods’, I’m not entirely sure you can call it a documented history,” I remarked. In truth, I hadn’t finished reading all of the journals given to me: my interest in them had taken a dive when most of them turned up nothing useful. “Makes for good storytelling, but it doesn’t really do much for figuring out real magic.”

“If what Derring Do writes here is accurate, this world’s ancient past isn’t too dissimilar from Equestria’s,” Twilight said as she flipped to the next page. “Hm, this is interesting. ‘The document was rough to translate, but according to it, the sect once worshipped a god of shadows and nightmares, and possessed a ritual that they believed could imbue a devoted servant with a fragment of the god’s power. This would invariably drive the recipient insane, so they used the ritual on an amulet instead in the hopes of creating a reservoir of the god’s power that could be called upon when needed. This relic would become known as the Alicorn Amulet.’”

“Man, I remember ‘Daring Do and the Temple of the Silver Moon’,” Dash said with a wistful sigh. “That one was so awesome.”

“It’s curious we don’t have the same book in my world,” Twilight commented. “But I suppose there are enough discrepancies in the histories of our two worlds to result in different adventures.”

“Not to mention that we’ve got two Darings,” I added.

As food was short-lived when surrounded by seven teenagers, I quickly claimed a few pancakes for myself. As I ate, it was hard not to think about the other Twilight Sparkle, who I felt I had neglected these past few days. I still felt guilty about not being able to share my birthday party with her. She should’ve been there. It was one of the best days of my life, and I couldn’t share it with the one person I wanted to the most. Not that I didn’t appreciate everything that Pinkie and the others had done for me, but I was failing in my lessons on friendship by trying to cordon off parts of my life from each other. Twilight Sparkle deserved better than to be treated like a second-class friend; she deserved a whole lot better than me.

I vowed that the next chance I got, I would find a way to make amends.

“Hey Sunset, wat’cha thinking about?” Pinkie spoke up, snapping me from my train of thought. “You had that scrunched up look that you do whenever you’re thinking really hard.”

“Just… uh, thinking of what I’d do for today,” I answered, which wasn’t too far from the truth.

“I have just the idea,” Rarity proposed. Judging by how she was almost bouncing in her seat, she was more than just a little excited. “Who’s up for taking Twilight to the mall so we can get her something fabulous for her first date?”

“Hey, that’s a great idea!” I exclaimed.

“A-aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves,” a suddenly flustered Twilight spoke up. “We haven’t actually agreed to a date. I still have to see if I have time for one.”

“No harm in making sure you’re prepared,” I reassured our jittery friend, though at the same time giving her a playful nudge with my elbow. “Plus, it’d be nice to spend a day hanging out without any huge parties or world-threatening disasters going on.”

Twilight pondered over her options, pursing her lips as she hummed and twirled loose hairs around her finger. “I suppose there’s no rush for me to get back to Equestria just yet,” she eventually decided, which was followed by a round of cheering from the rest of us.

********************

After everyone went home to shower and freshen up, we all met up again at the mall a few hours later. Spending a few hours with my friends at the mall was a welcomed change of pace. The birthday party had been a blast, but it was hard to have conversations when thirty other people had been packed into your living room, and Rainbow Dash had the music cranked up to eleven. On top of that, I was no longer in a state of perpetual anxiety over what might happen if certain people ran into one another.

Twilight had stuck with me while the other girls returned home, so when we arrived a bit ahead of schedule, we passed the time by hanging out at the food court. Despite the usual lunch-hour crowds, we had managed to find a table to ourselves just to talk, though I refrained from sitting and just leaned up against it.

“I really like your outfit,” Twilight commented in order to break the silence. “It looks great on you.”

I had taken the outing as an opportunity to also try out my new clothes in public. I paired the books and jacket with some jeans and a soft blue skirted shirt. It was hard not to feel invigorated when you first try on a new look; I felt like a whole new person. For a moment, I couldn’t help but wonder why it had taken me so long to ditch my old threads. Perhaps there had been some sense of security in it, like a child clinging to a blanket they had long since outgrown.

“Thanks. I do look way better in a jacket, don’t I?”

Twilight giggled, no doubt amused by my brief flare of unrepentant vanity. “It’s definitely more stylish than the hoodies.”

“I feel like I could take on the whole dang world in these.” I shot a playful grin over to my friend, which prompted her to roll her eyes while laughing.

“So Sunset, let’s just say hypothetically that I do go on a date with Flash Sentry,” Twilight began, and the cautious tone returned to her voice, “what exactly is the proper etiquette? I’ve never really been on a real date before.”

I tapped my fingertips upon the tabletop as I thought over my response. Despite my eagerness to help Twilight out in this new venture, I was uncertain of how much help I could actually be. While it was true that I had dated Flash, it was less of a relationship and more just manipulation. That involved a lot of laughing at his jokes, playing to his ego, and not shying away when hormones inevitably kicked in. None of that felt like the right kind of advice to give. Maybe it was just better to admit that than give my friend false hope.

“Honestly, Twilight, just keep doing what you’ve done so far,” I answered. “You’ve managed to keep his attention for this long, so you’re clearly doing something right.”

I could tell by Twilight’s expression that there were some hints of disappointment. If she were anything like the Twilight of this world, she was so methodical and studious that everything in life had to be able to be boiled down to a simple checklist—something that assured success by simply following one step after the other. Sadly, there was never going to be any ‘checklist to a perfect date.’

“You’ll be fine,” I reassured her, reaching over to pat my friend on the shoulder. “It might sound a little clichéd, but just be yourself. The basics of dating aren’t that different from friendship—just with a bit of kissing added to the mix.”

“Oh sweet Celestia, I hadn’t even thought about the kissing! Wh-what do I do if that happens? I’ve only had these lips for maybe a week in total. I can still barely write with these hands!”

“You could always ask Sunset to teach you,” Rainbow Dash’s voice intruded.

Both Twilight and I turned to see the rest of our friends arriving.

“D-don’t listen to her,” I stammered out whilst trying to keep my face from turning red. The last thing I needed was Twilight getting ideas because she was already near panic, and when you were in such a state, even crazy ideas seemed reasonable.

Thankfully, Rarity stepped in and saved me from any further embarrassment. “I hope we didn’t keep the two of you waiting too long,” she said before hooking an arm around Twilight’s. “Now come along, I saw this cute little ensemble on the way here and you’ve got to try it on.”

Despite whatever apprehensions she may have felt, Twilight nonetheless followed along as her friend dragged her towards the first of many clothing stores. Before I could fall into step alongside them, my phone buzzed with the alert of a new text message. As a precaution, I allowed all of my friends to get ahead of me before I checked.

Twilight: Do you have time for us to meet? There’s something I need to talk to you about.

It was puzzling to see the other Twilight Sparkle be so direct out of the blue. Her adherence to politeness alone usually demanded a ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’ at the start of all of her messages. It was almost as startling as the fact that Twilight ended a text with a preposition. Maybe somebody had stolen her phone and was trying to lure me out.

It might’ve been a crazy thought to even entertain, but life thus far had taught me to expect a lot of things that sounded crazy at first.

Sunset: Is everything okay? Can’t you tell me over texts?

Twilight: It’s too important: it needs to be face-to-face.

Her response only worried me further, but despite wanting to press further, I had to respect her wishes. Me criticizing somebody about withholding information was about as outlandish as Nightmare Moon complaining about somebody turning off all of the lights. But what could be so important that Twilight couldn’t tell me over a text or a phone call? Could it be something so anxiety-inducing that she could only feel comfortable in my presence?

Twilight: Are you available on Monday?

Sunset: I have a meeting with one of my teachers after school. I should be free after dinner.

Twilight: Could we meet for dinner? There’s this new place I think you might enjoy.

Now that was starting to sound more like the Twilight Sparkle that I knew. It looked as though she wanted to invite me out to dinner from the start, which I had no objection to. My worries began to melt away at the thought of a casual and relaxing meal with my friend.

Sunset: Dinner sounds great. I should be free for any time after five.

Twilight: Would you be able to bring the scanner with you?

It honestly took a few moments for me to recall what Twilight was referring to: the jury-rigged sensor device that she had asked me to carry around at school had sat in my locker almost the entire time. As much as I would’ve liked to help my friend in her pursuits, I could only pretend to help when it came to investigating the magic at Canterlot High. I couldn’t imagine there’d be much useful data since there’s been very little going on around the school involving magic. Maybe she had finally given up on this particular avenue of research.

Sunset: No problem.

Twilight: Good. I’ll double check the address and make a reservation, and then send you the details afterwards. Does this sound acceptable?

Sunset: Sounds fantastic. I can’t wait!

Twilight: Great. It’s a date!!

Not since King Ramsay the Flatulent, ruler of Yakyakistan, uttered his infamous ‘pull my hoof’ had three words left a person so utterly paralyzed in indecision. It’s a date? Did she just ask me out? Did I just agree to a date? I couldn’t have: she wasn’t the type to do something that bold. But she just said ‘it’s a date’. Why would Twilight end with that choice of wording? Her messages came off as anxious and nervous originally, but now she appeared jubilant. And two exclamation points? Launching intercontinental ballistic missiles would’ve set off fewer alarm bells than Ms. Grammar Queen electing for superfluous punctuation.

For a second, I pondered whether I had inadvertently stepped through another magic portal and was now in a realm where my friend had been replaced by an air-headed valley girl, and I was about to get bombarded under a mountain of emojis and acronyms. It wasn’t until Applejack noticed I had fallen behind, slack-jawed and gaping at my phone, that I was finally pulled back to reality.

“Hey Sunset, you okay back there?” Applejack said as she nudged my shoulder.

“Sorry! Just got distracted with something,” I hastily replied. I reminded myself that I was reading too much into my friend’s messages, and the only reason the concept of dating crossed my mind was because I had been so focused moments earlier by Princess Twilight’s situation. I pocketed my phone and hurried to catch up with the others.

********************

“Oh, I just found this most adorable little mini-skirt you just have to try on!” Rarity exclaimed with the same unmitigated zeal that’s been on display for the better part of an hour. I had to hand it to her, she had been bouncing off the walls of the mall almost as much as Pinkie Pie had been during my birthday party.

There was no better person to turn to if you wanted to look your best.

Twilight and I were at the back of one of the mall’s many clothing stores: my friend was in one of the changing rooms while I lingered outside serving as a sorting rack with the ‘reject’ pile in one arm, and the ‘maybe’ pile in the other. The rest of our friends were scouring the store and returned every couple of minutes with something else for Twilight to try on.

“I think it’ll go fantastic with that halter top that Pinkie Pie picked out,” Rarity continued on.

The changing room door opened just enough for Twilight to poke her head out. One could see the look of ‘out of my depths’ written across her face, but at least that hasn’t gone into a blind panic just yet.

“Thanks Rarity, I’ll try those on next,” Twilight replied as she took the offerings. “By the way, do you have any advice regarding Flash? What should I do to look, and be, my best?”

Rarity offered a sagely smirk, flicking her hair to the side as she strode back to her friend’s side. “Well, darling, you have to remember a date is all about putting your best foot forward,” she explained. “Naturally, appearances are paramount. If you look like a princess, he’ll be guaranteed to treat you like one. It’s also important to be bold and decisive: you can’t be afraid to make the first move.”

“I’d suggest not speaking in iambic pentameter,” I added.

Twilight flustered around her cheeks. “Oh, right. Of course! That would be quite silly.”

“You’re still doing it.”

“It’s a nervous tick!” With that, Twilight retreated back into her changing room.

“I remember my ‘first date’ jitters,” Rarity said with a playful laugh. “I spent hours trying to fix one little obstinate curl in my hair. I was so obsessed with trying to make it perfect that I almost called the whole night off. It took my mother and Sweetie Belle a while to talk me down.”

“I don’t remember ever hearing about this,” I remarked.

“It was during your… um, rebellious phase,” she answered. “It didn’t really pan out: my Prince Charming turned out to be quite the frog.”

Luckily, there wasn’t any chance of that happening with Flash. He could be a bit of a goofball and a die-hard romantic, but a heart-breaker he was not. If he had been, I would’ve smashed both of his kneecaps before letting him near Twilight again; not that she needed any kind of protection.

“What about you?” Rarity asked of me. “You must’ve had first date jitters before.”

“Not really: when I was dating Flash, I never thought of it as such,” I explained, no longer feeling the same degree of shame I once had when describing my past relationship. “Technically, I’ve never had a real first date to get jittery about.”

“A pity,” Rarity mused, arms folded with one finger tapping at her chin. “If only we could find you a date on short notice; then you could have a little double-date.”

The mere mentioning of me dating made my brain immediately jump back to my text messages from the other Twilight, triggering a panic reaction before the rest of me even realized what was happening “D-date? Me?” I exclaimed. “Oh, nononono! I am so not ready to make that leap.”

I was spared further mental strain when the changing room door opened up again and Twilight’s hand, holding a couple of brightly-coloured garments, poked out. “These two are a bit too big for me; if you can find them in a smaller size, we can put them in the ‘maybe’ pile. I definitely like the halter top.”

“I’ll get right on it,” Rarity said as she took the clothing.

She hurried off back to the showrooms in search of her new quarry, leaving just Twilight and I to marinade in our anxieties. Despite my best efforts, parts of me were still contemplating my last message from the other Twilight Sparkle. I wasn’t sure whether to be worried or terrified. What could she want from me that necessitated such cryptic messaging? I leaned against the wall next to the changing room, folding my arms as I pondered my situation.

“Hey, Sunset?” Twilight’s voice called out from behind the closed door.

“Yes?”

“If I go on this date—”

“You mean when, don’t you? I think we’re past the point of pretenses.”

“Okay, fine,” Twilight said with a resigned sigh. “When I go on this date, do you think you could, maybe, find a way to keep in touch? In case I need any advice or have a question.”

Leave it to Twilight to have backup plans in mind. “Sure. I’ll see about finding you a cell phone you can borrow so you can text any of us if something arises,” I suggested.

“I’ve seen you and the others doing that ‘texting’ thing,” Twilight commented. “I’m going to need a lot of practise if I’m going to do that with these hands.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as I recalled the first time I saw her attempt at handwriting. It looked as though somebody had a seizure while holding a pen. Before I could trot too far down memory lane, my phone buzzed again.

“Oh, hey! Flash Sentry just texted me,” I spoke up for my friend’s benefit.

“W-why’s he texting you?” Twilight asked as she opened the door and nervously peered out. “Is he asking about me?”

“Because as it stands, I’m the only means he has to communicate with you,” I explained. If only we could get cell reception in Equestria, I wouldn’t have to play as the go-between for the pair. Not that I begrudged them for it; if anything, I felt some obligation to make amends to Flash for my past transgressions. “He’s asking me for restaurant suggestions. I imagine you don’t really care as long as it doesn’t involve meat, right?”

“That isn’t going to be a problem for him, is it?”

“Nah, we’ve got loads of places that can cater to us veggie-lovers. Plus, he did used to date me, remember?” I reassured her while typing out a response. “I’ll tell Flash to pick out something with a good vegetarian menu.”

“Thanks. For all of this, I mean. I really appreciate the help,” Twilight said, offering a brief and sincere smile.

Just as I was about to answer, a flash of movement from the store floor caught my attention. At first I thought it was just one of my friends, which was true, but I soon realized that the amber mohawk belonged to Lightning Dust, and she was heading right towards me. Thinking fast, I did the only thing that came to mind: I jumped forward and shoulder checked the changing room door shut, which resulted in a thump and distressed yelp from Twilight as the door slammed into her face.

“Lightning Dust!” I called out not only to get my friend’s attention, but to warn Twilight what was happening. Hopefully, she’d understand why I just bruised her nose.

“Hey, Sunset! Fancy running into you here,” Lightning replied, grinning brightly. “Wow, when did you get those new threads?”

“My friends gave them to me at the end of the party,” I explained. I couldn’t help but show off a little bit. “Not bad, huh?”

“Not bad? You look amazing! I’ve never even seen a coat like that. Where did your friend get it?”

“You remember Rarity? She’s something of a miracle worker with a sewing machine,” I explained with no shortage of egotism. I was beginning to understand why Rarity enjoyed her fashion so much; looking fabulous did wonders for your self-esteem.

“Really? Rarity made that?” my incredulous friend remarked. “Do you think I could ask her to make something like that for me? All I’ve got is this ol’ team jacket.” To emphasize her point, she did a quick spin to show the aged leather of her own attire, the back of which sported a faded ‘Shadowbolts’ logo.

Not wanting to make promises I couldn’t keep, I had to give her an uncertain shrug. “You’d have to ask her. I can’t imagine something like this is quick or easy for her, but there’s no harm in trying.”

“I’ll keep that in mind next time I see her,” Lightning said, smiling optimistically. “Say, you doing anything later this week? Manechester United is taking on Trottingham Forest on Monday.”

I could only presume that she was talking about soccer again. Unfortunately, as amusing as it could be to watch her and Rainbow Dash bound around my living room like a pair of overgrown toddlers on a sugar rush, I already had plans. “Sorry—my Monday’s all booked up.”

“Even in the evening?”

“I’ve… got dinner plans.”

“Oo, is it a hot date?”

A blast of heat struck my face as I stammered back, “I-it’s not a date!”

Lightning Dust just burst into laughter, likely not believing a single word I said.

“W-well, how about Tuesday?” I asked in a desperate attempt to steer the conversation back to the original subject.

For her part, Lightning didn’t take long to calm down. “I’ve got soccer practices on Tuesday and Thursday,” she said. “Well, how about we do some clothes shopping together? We could make an afternoon out of it.”

“O-oh, um… well, you see…” On any other occasion, I would’ve jumped on the opportunity to spend more time with her, but with Twilight Sparkle trapped in the changing room, my hands were tied. I couldn’t even tell Lightning the truth, or even a half-truth since it would either reveal too much or come off as brushing her off. If we really were friends, there shouldn’t have been any excuse not to find a way to spend time together.

I was soon at the point where throwing the clothes I held at Lightning Dust and running for the nearest fire alarm became an idea worthy of consideration. By my estimate, if I hit her in the face with the whole pile, I’d have a good six or seven seconds to make my move, but would that be enough? I was going to need a miracle—a miracle or a very convenient distraction.

“Hey Lightning, I think I managed to find one in your size.”

In walked my miracle, who also happened to be my least favourite person in the city. It was Gilda, who entered the changing room area carrying a pair of low-cut t-shirts that would give most fathers a heart attack. Whatever she was about to say next, however, was postponed when she noticed me standing next to her friend.

“Hello Gilda,” I greeted in a cast iron deadpan.

“Shimmer,” she replied in kind.

Off to the side, Lightning Dust was already burying her face into her palm as if her uncle had just begun his annual drunken tirade at the family holiday dinner.

“Can’t be happy just ruining my academics, you gotta steal my friends away, too?” Gilda sneered.

“Lightning’s a big girl; she can make her own decisions.”

“I’m sure she’ll wake up soon enough and realize you’re just some lame, self-righteous dweeb that’ll turn on her the second she becomes inconvenient.”

“Okay, time for us to go!” Lightning interrupted before she began pushing Gilda towards the exit. “I saw enough of this kind of bickering when my parents divorced, I don’t need it here.”

“Fine. Anything’s gotta be better than hanging around that loser,” Gilda said with a roll of her eyes.

Just before the pair left, Lightning Dust looked back to me and mouthed a hasty ‘sorry’. I smiled and shrugged for a nonverbal ‘it happens’. Once the pair were out of sight, I was finally able to relax again and breathed a small sigh of relief. All of this sneaking around was doing a number on my blood pressure.

“Can I come out now?” Twilight’s voice whispered out. Glancing over, I could see the door open just ever so slightly and my friend’s eye peering through.

Of course, the moment one instance of panic ended, a new one began. “Oh my gosh! Are you okay? I am so, so sorry!” I exclaimed as I hurried to check on her. “I-I didn’t know what to do, and I just panicked and did the first thing that came to mind!”

“It’s okay. I’m fine, really,” Twilight insisted, though she still cradled her nose in one hand. “Just try to give me a little bit more warning next time, okay?”

At least I didn’t try to hide her under my skirt.

********************

Monday came about a lot faster than I had anticipated, which wouldn’t have caused me as much stress as it had except that I had no further communications from Twilight Sparkle—the native one—since her last message of ‘it’s a date’ save an email with directions to where we were to eat. As if that hadn’t been enough cause for concern, I arrived at the restaurant in a timely fashion, only to be stuck waiting well past the agreed meeting time.

With anybody else this wouldn’t have been an issue, but Twilight prided herself on her punctuality almost as much as Rainbow Dash and her ability to kick a ball. At least she had booked reservations, so I had been able to sit inside the relative warmth and comfort of our assigned booth while I stared out the establishment’s front window. The restaurant itself was of the far east fusion-style, so it meant lots of fancy calligraphy and stylized dragon and bird motifs adorning the walls, plus several gold-trimmed statues of cats.

I kept my hands warm with a cup of green tea while I tried my best to ignore the delectable aromas wafting through the air, and the large bowls of noodles that passed by my table every so often. I could hear the hiss and sizzles of vegetables being grilled on the far side of the building, tantalizing my ears as the fragrances continued their assault. If Twilight didn’t arrive soon, I was going to have to order an appetizer just to maintain my sanity.

On the bright side, the wait gave me time to browse the menu. I was impressed by the selection of vegetarian dishes available, which included an assortment of soups, noodles, and curries, each one looking more delicious than the last. It was almost a pity that I could only pick one.

“Hm, ‘rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup topped with tofu and stir-fried vegetables.’ That sounds promising,” I murmured under my breath before licking my lips in anticipation.

As I sipped my tea, I casually glanced to my backpack that sat beside me. Inside was the jury-rigged scanner that Twilight had asked for me to bring along, though I still had no idea why. Just having it next to me made me nervous, and not just because magic had been popping in and out of my life like a stubborn case of acne; it pinged every couple of minutes. And not a subtle ping either: it sounded like it was hunting for submarines in the restaurant’s fish tank. All it’d take was one paranoid waitress and I’d have the bomb squad on my case before I could even finish my appetizers.

After more than half-an-hour of waiting, I heard knocking from the window: it was Twilight Sparkle. She smiled and waved before she hurried off to the door. I was still a little worried about what this evening was intended to be. Just to be safe, I dressed in my new usual attire—nothing too fancy, but still looking presentable. As for Twilight, she wore a simple pink sweater vest with a matching bow tie and blue blouse, and a purple skirt to complete the look. I couldn’t deduce her intentions from her clothing since she had always favoured the prep-school look even in her casualwear.

Twilight had a backpack with her too, which looked to be loaded down with something heavy. I prayed I wasn’t about to exchange the small but bothersome pinging device for something even bigger and more conspicuous.

“Sorry I’m late,” Twilight apologized profusely as she arrived at the booth. “I got a little carried away with my latest research and completely lost track of the time… again.”

“Happens to the best of us,” I reassured her. “So how was your weekend.”

“It was great! I can never pass up an opportunity to spend time at the Royal Canterlot library. What about you? Do anything special?”

“Oh, no. Not really.” Two minutes in and I was already lying to her face.

“Did you bring my scanner?”

“That I did,” I said as I hefted the device onto the table. “I don’t know how good the data will be: I haven’t exactly been able to carry it around given it weighs more than a cinder block.”

Twilight opened my bag and pulled her device out, to which her eyes lit up like a child on a Hearth’s Warming day. “Actually, wherever you stored it, it was able to get some very good readings,” she explained.

“Wait, how can you tell that?”

“Because it sends me data,” Twilight answered as though the answer should’ve been obvious. “I set the device up to piggyback off your school’s wi-fi to email me a preliminary report every six hours.”

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised she went to such lengths: she rarely did anything in half-measures. After removing a small memory card from the scanner, she rummaged through her backpack and pulled out her laptop. It appeared that whatever she had wanted to talk to me about was less important than her scientific pursuits. Then again, she’s gotten so involved in her work at times that she’s forgotten to eat or sleep.

I waited patiently while watching Twilight go into her work mode; her fingertips blazed a trail across the keyboard like a concert pianist. Despite my curiosity, I refrained from saying or asking anything for the immediate moment.

“I’m… going to go to the bathroom,” I said as I got up from the table. All that green tea had run straight through me, so I made a quick retreat to the little filly’s room.

With any luck, my friend would be finished with her computer by the time I got back. At least Twilight was acting like her usual research-obsessed self, otherwise I might’ve been worried about the whole ‘it’s a date!!’ thing that had been racking my mind all day. I should’ve known better than to think Twilight would ask me out on a date. By the time I was washing up my hands, I had convinced myself a fool for having caused myself so much mental duress.

“Sunset, you silly girl,” I chuckled breathlessly to myself. “Your worrying is going to ruin a perfectly good evening.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bathroom door open, and in strolled the familiar face of my friend.

“Oh, hey Twilight,” I said, purely by instinct.

“Sunset? W-what are you doing here?” she exclaimed in response.

“I said I was going to the bathroom. Weren’t you listen—” My words came to an abrupt halt when I glanced up to what I thought had been my needlessly confused friend, only to see a Twilight Sparkle that was wearing jeans and a familiar halter top.

This was the wrong Twilight Sparkle.

“Oh no…”