• Published 18th Aug 2015
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Oversaturation - FanOfMostEverything



Too much of a good thing is filling the human universe, and Sunset Shimmer is the only one who can solve the problem before it annihilates her new home.

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Tones

Sunset looked around the room. "Everyone, it has been a privilege to be your friend. Thank you for everything you've done for me. I just wish—" She was cut off by a very curious sensation.

Applejack brought her hat back into place. "You done?"

Sunset blinked as her mind confirmed what had just happened. "Did you just hit me with your hat?"

"Gentler'n mah first idea." Applejack crossed her arms and gave Sunset a half-lidded glare. "Now, you wanna tell us why yer talkin' like someone on 'er deathbed?"

"Yeah," said Dash, "magic's awesome. I'm not seeing a problem here. I mean, how many Equestrian jerks like the Dazzlings can there be on Earth?"

Sunset frowned. "Well, according to Clover the Clever's biography, Star Swirl the Bearded seemed to consider banishing things to another dimension as an acceptable solution to everything from garbage disposal on up." She shook her head. "But that's not the problem. For one, higher magic levels are why you have those marks on your hips."

Dash glowered at her. "How did you know about those?"

Rarity put a hand on Dash's shoulder. "We told her, darling."

Sunset's field of vision was suddenly filled by narrowed blue eyes. "So it wasn't a prank?" said Pinkie.

"N-no." Sunset backed away. Given that they were both behind the boutique's checkout counter, she didn't have far to go. "Personal space, please?"

Pinkie ducked down, then emerged on the other side of the counter, maintaining the squint. "Okay. You get a pass this time, Shimmer." She resumed her usual smile. "But when you are ready to prank people, you gotta tell me. I have so many plans for your first one." She leaned over the counter and hissed, "So many."

Sunset stayed pressed against the wall. "Duly noted."

Fluttershy cleared her throat. "So, um, why else is a lot of magic a bad thing?"

"Right! That." Sunset flipped through her journal until she reached a page covered in equations. "This is why. Star Swirl's Third Law of Polycosmic Interfacing."

"If it's your first polycosmic—"

"No, Pinkie." Sunset tapped the relevant formula with a finger. "Connecting two worlds erodes the barrier between them. Sufficient connection will cause them to fuse."

Rarity swallowed. "And... what precisely does fusing entail?"

Sunset frowned down at the book. "The equations allow for three different outcomes. Given the magical discrepancy between this world and Equestria..." Sunset shook her head. "Annihilation. Possibly of both universes."

Dash's eyes bugged out. "Okay, that's bad."

"Yeah. That's why Princess Twilight doesn't leave the portal open on a constant basis." Sunset slumped, her chin in her hands. "And without help and resources from Equestria, I have no idea where to even begin addressing the issue."

The others traded looks for a few moments. Rarity hummed to herself. "So, what would you do if you did have access to those resources?"

Sunset thought for a moment, then shook her head. "Even then, I'd need to convince people to go through the portal and undergo all kinds of tests."

Dash snorted. "You'd have to abduct people and probe them?"

"Well, I'd get their consent first." Sunset raised an eyebrow as Dash shook with barely restrained mirth. "I'm missing something, aren't I?"

"It isn't important." Rarity jabbed Dash with an elbow, not changing the other girl's behavior one bit. "Can you perform any of those tests here?"

Sunset shook her head. "Not unless you know where I could find a thaumic spectrometer, a grade-12 medical samoflange, an electroencephalogram—"

"I know where you can get an EEG."

All eyes turned to Fluttershy. She bit her lip, but stood firm. Sunset asked, "You do?"

Fluttershy nodded. "There's one in the NAHTI."

The others looked at one another and saw that they were all equally perplexed. "The naughty what?" asked Pinkie Pie.

Fluttershy shook her head. "No, I mean the Not A Human Testing Installation."

Sunset quirked an eyebrow. "Then what is it?"

"A human testing installation."

After a beat, Applejack said, "Run that by us again?"

"Mr. Discord wanted to invest some of the proceeds of his latest book in the school. Principal Celestia very specifically said that he could add anything, so long as it was not a human testing installation." Fluttershy giggled quietly. "You know how he is."

Everyone else nodded. The head of the science department was... eccentric. He certainly had enough money to qualify for the adjective.

"Am I to understand," said Rarity, "that there is now a facility all but explicitly designed for human experimentation in our high school?"

Fluttershy nodded, smiling softly. "Oh yes. Mr. Discord was so happy when he told me that he had finished hooking up the mainframe."

Pinkie beamed. "Is there a homicidal AI made by a company that originally made shower curtains?"

"He looked for one, but they were outside of his price range." Fluttershy dipped her head. "He was so disappointed."

Pinkie backed away a step. "I was joking."

"So was he." After a moment, Fluttershy added, "At least, I'm fairly certain he was."

Sunset took a deep breath. "Okay. Putting aside the worrisome spending habits of a man who may develop godlike chaos powers if the situation gets any worse—"

"Wait, what?" Dash boggled at this. She wasn't the only one.

"Putting that aside," said Sunset, "we have a convenient lab that will have at least some of what I need to determine just how doomed we are. Especially since it means I'll actually get readings from humans instead of humans turned into ponies. Thinking about it, that would throw things off by a lot." She gave a shaky smile. "So, yeah, good news if you squint. Thanks, Fluttershy."

"Woohoo!" Pinkie literally jumped for joy. "Now we just need to talk to Vinyl and Octavia and get their side of it!"

This was met with four nods and a facepalm. "Right. Firsthoof testimony."

"Hand," Fluttershy murmured.

"Well, that's how rattled I am. Not only do I miss an obvious source of data, I forget what's on the ends of my limbs." Sunset took another deep breath. They didn't seem to be helping much. "Okay. So. Where is she?"

"Ooh! Ooh!" Pinkie waved her hand in the air. "If it's Sunday and she's with Octavia, then they're jamming in her basement! I can take you there!"

"Pinkie, how do you..." Sunset shook her head. "Answered my own question. Okay, let's get this taken care of as soon as we can. Rainbow Dash, could you cover for me here?"

"Wait, what?"

"Thanks. Come on, Pinkie."

Dash scowled. "Hey, I never—"

Rarity put a hand on her shoulder. "Fate of the world, darling. Besides, you'll just be running the register with Applejack. And I'll buy you lunch first. We still have time for somewhere close."

Pinkie turned back, eyes sparkling. "Ooh!"

Sunset grabbed her hand and started dragging her towards the exit. "Come on, Pinkie. We shouldn't leave them waiting any longer than necessary."

Pinkie pouted. "But lunch!"

"I'll get us something when we're through."

Pinkie mulled this over for a moment before solemnly nodding. "This is acceptable."

Sunset smiled. "Glad to hear it."


Driving allowed Sunset a chance to relax. Sort of. At the very least, her concerns about the continued integrity of the universe had to take a backseat to the more immediate terror she felt whenever she operated her personal explosion-powered screaming metal death carriage, or "car," as humans had quaintly dubbed the things. And, of course, there was Pinkie Pie to contend with. It was very hard to focus on potential apocalypses when that girl was trying to give directions.

"Now go left."

"Ri— Got it." Sunset smirked as she hit the turn signal. She wasn't going to fall for that gag.

"No, my left."

"We have the same left!"

Still, by some miracle, they made it to Vinyl Scratch's home alive and intact, if not necessarily sane. It was about fifteen minutes away, in Canterlot's thin layer of suburbs. The house didn't stand out that much from those around it... provided one ignored the third floor that looked like it had been made by slipping a layer of shipping containers underneath the roof.

Sunset took in the edifice from the road for a time before asking, "Pinkie?"

"Yes, Sunset?"

"What exactly am I looking at?"

"Well, Vinyl's dad is the dean of robotics at Cybertron Polytechnical."

Sunset turned to Pinkie. "He is?"

Pinkie smirked. "Where did you think she got that car?"

Sunset's mouth worked silently for a moment. "In all fairness, I was a bit more worried about stopping the sirens at the time. Come on." She started down the cement path that led from the sidewalk up to the front door.

"Welcome."

"Ah!" Sunset jumped back from the voice even as she looked for the source. She soon found it. "Pinkie?"

"Uh huh?"

"Was that lawn gnome always looking at me?"

Pinkie giggled. "Aren't they fun?"

"Not how I'd describe them." Sunset shuddered. "Are they all going to do that?" There was a line of them on either side of the path.

Pinkie bounced on her toes. "Maaaaybe."

"Let's just get this over with." Sunset pressed on.

There was a faintly audible whir as the next gnome turned to face them. "Welcome."

"Welcome."

"Welcome."

"Whatever Twilight's dealing with," Sunset muttered, "at least it isn't this." A few welcomes later, she reached the front door and rang the bell.

Vinyl Scratch opened the door, then whipped off her glasses to give Sunset a full glare.

Sunset gave a nervous smile. "Um... Hi?"

Vinyl moved aside to let the girls in. The entry hall seemed fairly standard, though the knickknacks had a definite "gears and springs" theme to them.

After Vinyl shut the door, she turned to face Sunset. "What. The. Actual. Fuck." With every word, she stalked a step closer, forcing Sunset back until she was pinned against the opposite wall.

In her panic, Sunset latched onto the first thing that came to mind. "You can talk?" Maybe it was the sheer surprise, but she could've sworn there was a bit of electronic reverb in the other girl's voice.

Vinyl rolled her eyes, put her glasses back on, and stalked away.

"And so you see why she generally doesn't," said Octavia, moving into the room with better disguised hostility. Her movements, at least, were calm, even if her glare gave Vinyl's a run for its money.

Pinkie scratched her head, or as close as her hair would allow. "That seems self-perpetuating."

Octavia allowed herself a ghost of a smile. "So I keep telling her." Her scowl reasserted itself. "I find myself echoing Vinyl's sentiments, if not quite as crudely. Some answers would be appreciated."

Sunset grimaced and looked away. "Honestly, we were hoping you could give us some."

Vinyl cleared her throat and pointed down.

Octavia nodded. "It probably would be best if we discussed this in the fallout shelter."

"The what?" asked Sunset with a blink.

"It's so heavily soundproofed, it might be able to withstand a nuclear blast." Octavia turned and beckoned them forward with a wave of her hand. "Come on."

The basement stairs led to an open room about the size of a CHS classroom, with a few pillars in the middle. One wall was covered in sophisticated audio equipment, with turntables that looked like something out of a science fiction movie. The other side of the room had a raised dais, on which rested a cello.

Once everyone was down, Octavia crossed her arms and tapped her fingers against the opposite forearm. "All right. What do you need to know, Shimmer?"

"Hey!" cried Pinkie. "What did Sunset ever—"

Sunset raised a hand. "Pinkie, I appreciate you coming to my defense, I really do, but can we please keep this conversation away from my 'Queen Bitch' period?"

"Yes, Your Highness." Pinkie curtsied.

Vinyl raised an eyebrow at Octavia, jerked a thumb at Sunset, then turned it into a thumbs up.

Octavia harrumphed. "Vinyl trusts you, but I still haven't ruled out the possibility of you being responsible for this..." She flushed a bit. "This embarrassment."

"I didn't think magic was even possible in this world until the Fall Formal," said Sunset.

Octavia raised an eyebrow. "I'm sorry, you do attend the same school as Pinkie Pie, yes?"

Sunset turned to Pinkie, who pulled a balloon off of her skirt, inflated it in a single breath, and held onto the string as she floated up to the ceiling. "Ta-da!"

Sunset's jaw dropped. "Were you always able to do that? Even before the Formal?"

"Only when it's funny." Pinkie squeezed the balloon through a controlled descent. "Though it should be a lot harder when someone's calling attention to it."

"That would've been good to know before." Sunset shook her head. When she opened her eyes again, the balloon was gone and Pinkie's skirt had returned to normal. "Going to put that aside for now. We need to focus on Octavia and Vinyl." She turned to the former. "Look, I don't know how or even if I can prove that I wasn't responsible for this, but I can at least do all I can to help you with it."

Octavia looked to Vinyl. They shared some silent communication for most of a minute before Octavia dipped her head down. "Very well. Where shall we begin?"

"Well, what happened?" Sunset pulled out her phone. "Vinyl's text message was a bit short on details."

"It started normally enough. The blending of genres, the fusion of classical and cutting edge into something greater than the sum of its parts..." Octavia smiled at the memory, only to scowl a moment later. "Then the mutations set in. Vinyl thought you'd know something about that."

Sunset crossed her arms and tapped a foot. "I assume you were at the Battle of the Bands final?"

Octavia nodded. "It's a bit fuzzy, but I definitely recall going."

"And I take it you two are close?"

Octavia and Vinyl shared a smile. "I wouldn't say we're Lyra-and-Bonbon-level, ahem, 'best friends,'" said Octavia, complete with air quotes, "but we're certainly close."

"Well, you certainly fit the same pattern as the Rainbooms. After being exposed to magic, a combination of friendship and music led to pony traits." Sunset sighed. "Really, if it weren't for Pinkie's sister, I'd call this conclusive."

"Most of Maud's friends are rocks," noted Pinkie, "and she did make that one out of the Dazzlings' necklaces. Maybe that's musical enough."

Sunset shrugged. "Possibly."

"That's all as may be," said Octavia, "but what am I going to tell the orchestra next week? I can't very well perform if I have horse ears springing out of my head four measures in."

Sunset's eyes widened. "How many members of the orchestra were at the Battle of the Bands final?"

"Er..." Octavia brought a finger to her lips as she thought. "I'm not quite sure, actually. As I said, it's all a bit muzzy."

Vinyl coughed a few times, then spread her arms wide.

"Oh. Everyone who was physically able, it seems," Octavia translated.

Sunset winced. "Well, the good news is that you probably won't be dealing with quite as many awkward questions as you're expecting. The bad news is that most, if not all, of the orchestra will be showing the same signs."

"And there's no cure?"

Sunset shook her head. "It's not a disease. The only way to keep this from happening would be not performing the catalyzing behavior."

"Not play music, you mean." Octavia crossed her arms. "That isn't acceptable."

"Well, it's all I can think of." Sunset slumped, her eyes on the floor. "I just don't know enough. Not yet, anyway. My friends and I are planning to run some tests tomorrow." She looked up. "You could join in if you wanted."

The musicians traded a look. Vinyl hissed through her teeth. Octavia shook her head. "I think we'd both rather avoid that. I suppose we can ignore it for now. Vinyl?"

Vinyl shrugged, then nodded to Sunset.

"Thanks from me as well, I suppose." Octavia gave Sunset a flat look. "I still don't trust you any farther than I can throw you, but it appears you really are making an effort to change. I can appreciate that."

Vinyl cleared her throat and tapped her sternum.

Octavia rolled her eyes and smiled. "Yes, yes. And compared to being enthralled by a trio of dragon-seahorse things, looking ridiculous when I play is an acceptable alternative."

Sunset smirked. "Gee, thanks. I'll tell you if I learn anything more."

"Thank you."

"And spread the word with the rest of the music-y people at school!" said Pinkie. "We don't want everyone panicking the first time they pony up."

Octavia crossed her arms and looked away. "I did not panic. I was merely startled."

Outside of Octavia's field of view, Vinyl shook her head, pointed at the other girl, and pretended to scream.

Pinkie stifled a giggle and waved. "Have fun, you two!"

Octavia nodded, Vinyl dropping the silent scream before she saw it. "Best of luck."

Once Sunset and Pinkie were back in the car and buckled in, Pinkie spoke up. "That wasn't all you meant by 'avoid the catalyzing behavior,' was it?"

A chill went down Sunset's spine. "What do you mean?"

"Call it a hunch. You didn't just mean not playing music, did you?"

Sunset sighed. "No, I didn't. Your sister made it clear that this isn't isolated to music. Everyone in CHS would have to stay miserable at all times to minimize the risk of magical manifestations." She glanced at Pinkie's expression. It was just as displeased as she expected. "I don't like it either, but it makes sense. This is harmony magic we're dealing with. Disharmony will work as a countermeasure."

"Permanently?"

Sunset just stared at the road.

"Sunset?"

She was very glad she hadn't started the car yet. She might have been tempted to end the conversation in a much more direct manner. "No. It would be a stopgap measure at best." Sunset threw up her hands. "But I can't think of anything else! I just don't know enough about how magic works in this world, especially after your little display."

Pinkie gave her a rather awkward hug. "So we'll figure it out! You're super-duper smart, and I'm sure Twilight will be finished with whatever she's doing soon if you need help."

Sunset took a deep breath. "Yeah. Yeah, you're probably right."

"No probablies about it! We're sure to find a better idea. I mean, who'd want a school full of disharmony?"


"Fluttershy! Well, this is a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting you to call me over the break. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

Fluttershy shifted from foot to foot. "Well, a friend of mine needs to use the NAHTI."

"Ah," Mr. Discord said over the phone. "I see how it is. Only calling when you need something, just like my nieces."

Fluttershy cringed. "I'm sorry!"

"I'm only teasing, Fluttershy," the teacher said more gently. "And as it happens, this is a rather fortuitous request."

"It is?"

"Yes. You see, another brilliant young mind requested both the use of the NAHTI and the presence of a certain charming young lady and her friends."

"Who?" asked Fluttershy.

"An incredible young woman in her own right. She may be the brightest prodigy since..." Mr. Discord trailed off as he thought about it. "Well, since me. Youngest person ever published in Nature. I don't suppose you've ever heard of Twilight Sparkle?"

Author's Note:

Sunset's familiarity with human pop culture has some holes in it.

Mr. Discord has written such classics as Why We Can't Have Nice Things: The Science of Supernature's Nonexistence, Nice Things We Won't Have: More Fiction than Science, and You Keep Using That Word: What Popular Technical Terms Actually Mean. No one has any idea why he teaches high school physics, or where he finds the time to write his books.

Cybertron Polytechnical University is a premiere school of applied technology and engineering. I'm not saying that Vinyl's father is G1 Soundwave. I'm also not saying that he isn't G1 Soundwave.

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