• Published 18th Dec 2014
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Double Trouble: The Flaws Within - Masterius



Two Twilight Sparkles are not better than one, especially when each are stranded in the wrong world! With the Crystal Mirror broken, is there any way for them to find the way back to their respective homes?

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Chapter 7

Chapter Seven

“Sunset Shimmer??

The young woman sternly gazing at them could not possibly be anyone else, her appearance absolutely identical to the classmate and friend they knew so well.

Knew so well now, anyway.

In fact, shivers rippled through Applejack and Pinkie Pie at the unhappily‑familiar, disdainful and dismissive sneer Sunset Shimmer was leveling upon Twilight Sparkle. Velvet Sky and Wiz Kid had not had as many personal interactions with the old Sunset Shimmer as had the others, but even they could remember her former persona with enough accuracy to feel uneasiness at the uncanny semblance.

As soon as all of them had simultaneously blurted out her name, Sunset Shimmer’s expression changed, Twilight’s stomach plummeting at that alteration. “How do you all know who—”

“Sunset Shimmer, so pleased to meet you!” Pinkie Pie gushed, stepping forward and pumping Sunset Shimmer’s hand in greeting. “Twilight’s told us all about her amazing RA, and it’s an honor to actually meet you.”

The rest remained frozen in place, Twilight’s expression looking rather ghastly as Pinkie Pie heroically forged onward.

“Um…ah…I see.” Trying to withdraw her hand from Pinkie Pie’s piston‑pumping handshake, her expression changed again, reverting to the scornful contempt she had started with. “Miss Sparkle,” she began. “Perhaps you can explain what you’re doing here with unauthorized visitors? You know the rules as well as I do,” she admonished, although by her tone she was clearly suggesting Twilight was totally clueless and completely inept. “All visitors need to be preauthorized. And then there’s that awful racket from that pet of yours. You know pets aren’t normally allowed in this building,” she berated, “and it’s only because Professor Harmony requested a deviance on your behalf that you’ve been allowed to keep him this long.” Sunset Shimmer smiled, a look that a shark would envy and one that contained all the warmth of a frozen star. “You also remember being told that if he disturbs the residents again, that that permission would be revoked?”

“Oh, Miss Shimmer,” Pinkie Pie looked at the sneering young woman who was absolutely delighting in triumph, “Please don’t be angry at Twilight. It’s really our fault. We’re, ummm, we’re only in town for today, and we’ve been wanting to check out Everfree University. Ah, for the kids,” she brightly smiled, patting Wiz Kid and Velvet Sky on their heads. “They’ve been really eager to visit, and especially for Twilight to show them her, ah, erm, her work.”

“Oh please!” the snide Resident Advisor rolled her eyes. “They’re just a little young to be considering—”

She completely missed the flash of fire in their eyes. But sweet as sweet they started talking right over her, the sugar in their voices thick and syrupy. “I’m really excited to see Miss Sparkle’s equations detailing the classical wave‑particle association, evanescent wave coupling, and the application of the non‑dispersive wave‑equation from acoustics applied to ‘waves on strings’,” Wiz Kid excitedly chirped.

“And how she’s applied Maxwell’s wave‑equation to light. And the way she’s utilized Schrödinger’s equation!” Velvet Sky gushed, in the tones young girls usually reserve for their favorite boy band.

They went back and forth a few more times, as their classmates’ eyes glazed and the RA’s burned with thwarted fire.

“Well, perhaps I was mistaken,” she gritted out. “You have such charming children,” she oozed.

“Thank you!” “Thankee kindly.”

Applejack facepalmed, looking as if she wanted to sink right into the floor…that she desperately wished would somehow happen. Sunset Shimmer looked back and forth between Pinkie Pie and Applejack. “Just whose children are they?”

“Hers.” “Hers.” Pinkie Pie and Applejack pointed at each other.

Before Sunset Shimmer’s suspicions could fully form, Velvet Sky looked at her and brightly smiled. “They’re both our mothers!”

Wiz Kid solemnly added, “We have a very progressive family.”

Shaking her head as if having taken a jab to the chin, Sunset Shimmer stabbed a finger at Twilight. Sharply, she bit off each word as if iron nails. “Fine. Take them on a little tour of your room. But if that mutt of yours makes another peep…” she trailed off in a not‑at‑all idle threat.

“Yes, Miss Shimmer.” “Yes, Ma’am.” “Thankee, Ma’am.”

Giving Twilight one last daggered glare, she turned about, almost storming her way back down the hall to her own room.

Once they were sure she was out of earshot, the two kids disgustedly looked at Pinkie Pie and Applejack. “Honestly! We can’t take you anywhere!”

“Pinkie Pie,” Twilight sounded amazed. “That…that was pretty brilliant!” Wiz Kid and Velvet Sky nodded in agreement.

“How did you know what a RA was?” Velvet Sky asked, quite curious.

“And how did you know she was the RA?” Wiz Kid added.

“Easy Peasy!” Pinkie Pie grinned. “Maud went to school here for her Master’s Degree, before she went off to earn her Doctorate in Geology.” She then pointed up the hallway toward the front entrance. “And I’d looked at the directory when we came in; it listed S. Shimmer, RA.”

“Twalaight; you OK?”

“Huh? Oh.” Twilight shook her head. “I just was really surprised, is all. It never occurred to me that Sunset Shimmer must have an analogue the same way I do, and that you and Pinkie Pie do, too.” She gazed down at the two younger kids. “For all I know there is a Velvet Sky and a Wiz Kid somewhere in Equestria as well, and I just haven’t met them yet.”

Turning back to the threshold, she cupped her hands again, placing them against the door. “Hey, Spike,” she softly called. “It’s just me: Twilight. And some friends.” She paused a moment, reconsidering; reminding herself this wasn’t her Spike—an intelligent, baby dragon—but was the other Twilight’s Spike—a dog. A dog just like Winona: Applejack’s pet, companion, and work dog. So just how did Applejack speak to Winona? She wished she could remember. Ah well, she’d heard Fluttershy often enough dealing with Angel Bunny when he became obnoxious, so…

“That’s my good widdle girl…erm, boy,” she cooed. “Yes you are, yes you are!” From the other side of the door she could hear a soft whine. Taking the key from Velvet Sky, she unlocked the door as she kept speaking. “Twilight’s coming in now, and her friends are with her. Won’t that be fun?” Turning the knob, she carefully started pushing the door open, almost squeaking as a soft, glistening black nose peeked out, followed by a panting purple muzzle with a lolling, wet pink tongue.

“That’s it. That’s my good boy!” Twilight nudged the door a bit further open, and before she knew it, Spike had squirmed all the way outside and into the hallway, jumping up, paws against her legs, little stub tail wagging so fast it was a blur.

It was almost painful seeing this Spike, for he was so identical in size and coloration to her Spike her heart tightened. Crouching down before the ecstatic canine, Spike hopped onto the newly‑created lap, paws on her chest and licking her face. For an instant, Twilight recoiled in dismay—and almost revulsion—taking several moments to realize her visceral response was due to reacting as if this were her Spike.

This isn’t going to be easy, she thought to herself. He looks so much like him that it’s scary. I think what’s throwing me is that this Spike is just an animal. Makes me wonder, what would happen if he went to Equestria? Would he change into a baby Dragon like Spike, but with simply animal intellect? Or would he remain a dog there, too, like Winona?

Well, Twilight might be having adjustment issues, but Spike was not having any such trouble. As far as he was concerned, this was his Twilight, and he kept wriggling and squirming in delight atop her lap.

“Kinda odd, comparin’ this‘un t’ yer Spike,” Applejack said, unknowingly echoing Twilight’s very thoughts. “Cute as a button though, ain’t he?” she admired as she scratched the overjoyed dog behind his ears.

Twilight nodded in agreement. He was cute. And as long as she kept her eyes closed or focused elsewhere, she was OK. But every time she caught sight of this Spike it left an ache in her heart. She sorely missed her Spike and badly wished he were here with her. Never before had she realized, not with the intensity she was experiencing at this moment, what a comfort her “Number One Assistant” had always been!

Glancing back down the hallway, she softly considered, “I think we should go inside now. Before we bother anyone else.”

Setting Spike down, she opened the door wider before entering, pausing just inside due to the interior murkiness. The few windows had thick drapes that were fully closed, the only inside illumination a nightlight from another room. The other four followed her inside, crowding up beside her. Twilight squeaked when Pinkie Pie closed the door behind them, as once that had closed the room was plunged into Stygian tenebrosity.

A few seconds later and suddenly Twilight was blinking, eyes dazzled by bright lights. “There we go!” said a satisfied Applejack, who had just found the wall switch. “Whoa,” she softly murmured as she glanced around.

“Wow!” Pinkie Pie chirped. “It’s a mausomuseum!”

“A whut?” Applejack exasperatedly asked.

“You know! A mausomuseum!”

Oddly enough, Twilight knew exactly what Pinkie Pie meant. With Spike happily frisking about her feet as she walked about and explored, she realized her excitable friend had nailed the shoe right on the hoof.

The place was neat as a pin. Aseptically so. There were no pictures on the walls. Tabular arrays, charts, and formulae? Yes. Pictures or photos? None at all. There were no knickknacks, no bric‑à‑brac, no decorations anywhere. The interior had been stripped down of anything ornamental or nonessential, leaving behind only the purely functional.

The atmosphere was funereal, utterly cheerless and drab, feeling very much like a mausoleum.

Obviously, the others felt the same way as she did, because even the ever‑ebullient Pinkie Pie was quiet and subdued as they crept about as a group through the residence, Spike following them about, sniffing all five of them as he did.

It was substantially larger than your typical, single-occupancy dorm room; six times larger, in fact, closer in size to a studio apartment. Upon entering the apartment through the front door, one immediately stepped into the generous-sized living area. Situated on the right hand side of the studio, the open plan living area was approximately two-thirds of the apartment. Directly opposite the front door and stretched along the left-hand side of the rear wall was the kitchenette, which butted against the wall to its left, while to the right-hand side were sliding doors leading out to a small patio. To the immediate left of the entryway was a wall extending halfway towards the back, the doorway in its middle leading into the full bathroom, spacious enough to hold a shower tub along with a mirrored sink and commode. As one walked straight ahead towards the kitchenette, the partial wall to the left ended about halfway back, revealing the bedroom tucked away in the left rear corner of the apartment. Turning into the bedroom, to the left was another wall, this one with two doors. Behind those doors were a walk in closet and a small, apartment sized washer/drier combination stacked one atop the other.

The bedroom might have been of generous size, but it was jammed pack full of everything except a bed. Applejack softly whistled as she peered around Twilight’s shoulder. “Looks like some sorta mad scientist’s lab’ratory, don’t it?”

“Hmmm,” she murmured in reply before pacing over to one wall, intently staring at the corkboard there. “Well,” she stated, "if I had any lingering doubts about things, this,” she pointed at the board, “sure just put them to rest.”

Smack‑dab in the middle was a photograph of Canterlot High School, surrounded by pushpin‑secured charts, graphs, readouts, and tables. “She hadn’t just chosen Canterlot High at random,” Twilight declared. “And all of this,” she gestured to the information tacked to the board, pushpins joined by thick red yarn to the middle one holding up the photograph, “sure seems to indicate she had good reason for that deduction, too.”

Wiz Kid and Velvet Sky immediately approached the wall bookcase, which was crammed full of reference books, textbooks, monographs, and similar publications, drawn to that like bees to honey. Within a few steps, however, they caught themselves and, instead, headed over to the workstation area, where Wiz Kid began checking out the desk while Velvet Sky started sorting through various documents atop the bench.

As much as Twilight was intrigued with science and research, she knew, beyond any doubt, that this was way beyond her knowledge and understanding, so she left those two to their own devices and continued exploring the place.

They finally did find the bed...such as it was: a simple, narrow, padded cot, set inside the walk‑in closet adjacent the bedroom. The bathroom was even more austere, and Twilight could not help thinking how horrified Rarity would be at that spartan sterility. The living and dining areas were effectively devoid of furniture save for a small desk and chair; several worktables, yes, holding varying degrees of clutter in differing stages of completion, but absolutely no cozy, comfortable furnishings. There was no stereo, no television, no radio.

It was the kitchenette, though, that brought a lump to Twilight’s throat and tears to her eyes.

The refrigerator held nothing but bottled water; the freezer packaged TV dinners. The cabinets contained, for the most part, nothing but cup after cup of identically flavored, prepackaged instant noodles.

For the most part.

One upper cabinet held multiple rows of neatly‑stacked cans of dog food. And were they generic brands or identical flavors? No. Oh no, not at all. There were multiple varieties from different vendors, and quality brands instead of generic. The lower cabinet contained several tightly‑sealed plastic containers holding different flavors and styles of dried kibble, as well as treats—rawhide bones and chew toys; biscuits, dental chews and jerky; crunchy and chewy snacks. Tucked inside the under sink cabinet was a small plastic tub literally overflowing with dog toys.

The pullout drawers that normally held flatware instead stored canine medicines and vitamins in one, while the other held so many different combs, brushes, and other grooming supplies that Twilight felt as if she was looking at something her fashionista friend—in either world!—would have organized.

An exquisite, almost palatial, dog bed was positioned at the far end of the kitchenette. Nearby were two small bowls—both currently empty—with an automatic water fountain next to them, the stream of water tinkling as it cascaded down.

Something inside Twilight caught, then tightened, gripping her hard, the lump in her throat growing even thicker. “Twalaight?” Applejack asked, alarmed at the sudden change in her friend. “You OK?”

Twilight shook her head, her vision blurry as tears filled them; then nodded, not wanting to upset her. “I’m OK,” she replied, knowing even as she did her voice was going to tell Applejack she was not at all ‘OK’.

Because she really wasn’t.

If Princess Celestia hadn’t ordered me to Ponyville, Twilight thought, If I hadn’t met my friends there, this would have been me. Not could have been me…would have been me. This Twilight is as much trapped as I’d been, and she doesn’t even realize it. I sure hadn’t realized it. I was happy the way I was. I hadn’t just thought I was, I’d known it.

Gazing around the cheerless residence, her vision blurred as tears filled, then trickled, down her cheeks. Oh, please, Princess Celestia, please see how badly this Twilight Sparkle needs your help! she mentally begged.

“It is kinda dreary, ain’t it,” Applejack softly said, stepping up and squeezing her friend’s shoulder. “Looks like her only friend is Spike here.”

Hearing his name, Spike gave a soft ‘woof’ before gazing quite entreatingly at the treat cabinet, stubby tail wagging like mad. Applejack softly chuckled as she opened the cabinet. “Lil’ beggar,” she grinned, taking out a soft chew bone and handing it to the ecstatic dog.

She blinked, eyes widening, as Twilight abruptly grabbed her in a tight, almost strangulating, hug. “Whoa thar!” she exclaimed. “Whut in tarna—”

“Thank you,” Twilight said, her voice thick and indistinct, muffled from her face being buried in her friend’s shoulder. “Thank you for being my friend.” And for saving me from myself, she mentally added, knowing that Applejack would hear that whether spoken aloud or not.

Applejack felt as if her heart was melting. Hugging back, she softly murmured, her own voice suspiciously foggy, “Yer welcome, Twalaight. Ah’l always be there fer you. Always.”

Behind them, Pinkie Pie was looking into the refrigerator, then freezer, then the cabinets. “Bummer!” she pouted before pulling out her cell phone. “Anyone up for pizza? I’m starving!

Author's Note:

Revised 02/08/2020