• Published 18th Aug 2015
  • 9,994 Views, 480 Comments

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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Brightness

Sunset Shimmer looked around the exterior of Canterlot High. It was strangely empty and eerily quiet. No traffic noises, no sound of people on phones. It felt like she was the only person in the world.

"So, this is how it ends?"

And yet, that hadn't been her voice. Not exactly. She looked up. Floating above the statue that housed the portal back home was the monster she'd become during the Fall Formal. It gave a fanged grin. "Scorched earth, huh? If we can't have this world, no one can. I like it."

Sunset glared at the demon. "I'm trying to stop that from happening."

The fiend looked over its claws as though assessing a manicure. "And who got the ball rolling in the first place? Really, this is just you trying to clean up after our mess." It shrugged. "Why bother? It's not like there's anything important about this pathetic, crippled universe. Let it go." It grinned again, spread its wings, and glided down to the ground before Sunset. "Just imagine the fireworks."

There was a crackling sound like someone walking on broken glass and a high-pitched whine that rose in volume. Cracks formed in the space around the girl and the demon, leaking glaring white light as they widened.

"It's a shame we won't be able to see it for ourselves," the demon shouted over the sound of the dying cosmos. "Still, at least we can escape. We may even bring those new minions of ours along with us. They've proven useful before."

A beat. The creature tilted its head. "Well? Nothing to say? Thinking it over? Really, I'd think the answer would be obvious."

Sunset took a deep breath. She spoke normally, but her words drowned out the death throes of the world. "Let me tell you why that is a heaping, steaming pile of horseapples."

With a wave of her hand, Sunset sealed the spacetime rifts. "First of all, we both know that that isn't how it's going to happen. The annihilation will occur at every point in the universe simultaneously. It'll be more like this." Everything faded to white, with a faint squeak like a gasping hummingbird. "Only over the course of a Pranck time. Really, if you're going to taunt with me with the worst-case scenario, at least do it properly."

The demon crossed its arms and huffed. "I'd forgotten what a pedantic foal we can be when we forget what true power is. The point is—"

"No!" Sunset's shout shook the firmament. "None of that."

The fiend blinked and put her hands on her hips. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me," said Sunset. "I am not putting up with this right now. Darkness yet lingers in my heart. Fine. Whatever. In case you didn't notice, I have much more important things to worry about at the moment."

"But—"

"No!" Sunset stomped her foot. The universe shook. "I am not so self-centered that I believe my personal issues outweigh the slow collapse of the universe! You are going to take a rutting number, and you are going to wait your moon-banished turn! I will deal with you when I'm finished saving the world. Again. Do I make myself clear!?"

The demon had shrunk at some point. Sunset now towered over it, her hair whipping in an unfelt breeze. "Well?"

It cringed. "Yes, ma'am."

"Good." Sunset crushed her inner demon under her boot, then looked up at the white void. "Okay. Whoever's in charge of dreams in this world, I'd like a new one. Now, please."

And she got one.


Sunset got out of her car, looking around the empty Canterlot High lot. "Kind of eerie, isn't it?"

Applejack shrugged as she leaned against her truck. "Eh. A little, Ah guess."

"It's a sign," groaned Rainbow Dash, still buckled in the truck's passenger seat. "It means we shouldn't be here."

Rarity staggered out of Sunset's car. "Not this early, at least."

Applejack crossed her arms. "C'mon now. It's almost ten in the mornin'! We're burnin' daylight here. We gonna save th' world t'day or not?"

Rarity glared at her. "Coffee first, or we'll have to save the world from me."

Fluttershy handed her a cup from a stack of a half-dozen, filled from the wine cooler-sized box they'd picked up at Donut Joe's. "Anyone else?"

Dash just stretched out a hand, opening and closing her fingers as she groaned. She kept this up until she got a cup.

Once the late risers were sufficiently caffeinated and all the instruments were unpacked, everyone gathered around Fluttershy. "Mr. Discord said that the NAHTI should be unlocked by the time we get there," she said. "Twilight has a key."

Applejack fidgeted. "This ain't gonna involve nothin' radioactive, is it?"

Fluttershy shook her head. "Principal Celestia has been very clear on what Mr. Discord can and cannot do with unstable nuclei on school grounds."

"And remember, everyone," said Sunset, "this Twilight isn't the one we know. Don't expect any similarities beyond the most fundamental aspects of her personality."

Rarity raised a finger. "Shouldn't Mr. Discord know about our Twilight?"

"I don't think they ever met," said Fluttershy. "He's always been much too busy for extracurricular activities and... Well, has Twilight ever actually attended classes here?"

There was an awkward pause until Pinkie said, "Who cares?" She bounced on her heels. "I get to learn all about Twilight all over again!"

Sunset smiled. "That's certainly a positive way of looking at it."

A car horn drew their attention to the white sedan pulling into a reserved spot. Principal Celestia unfolded herself out of the car and considered them for a moment. She smiled and said, "Hello, girls. What are you all doing here?" The smile widened. "I doubt you forgot it was Spring Break; this is late even by Rainbow Dash's standards."

Dash flushed. "Hey, I'm always on time!"

Celestia nodded. "Usually with only a few seconds to spare."

"Why are you here, ma'am?" asked Sunset, placing herself between Dash and the principal.

"I need some files from my office."

Sunset bit her lower lip. Now was as good a time as any. "Could I talk to you while you're there?"

The others looked at her. "Sunset?" said Fluttershy.

Sunset didn't look away from Celestia. "It's... important."

The stare went on until everyone found it uncomfortable. Finally, Celestia said, "Very well then. Come with me, Sunset. And the rest of you?"

"We're doing science!" Pinkie cried.

Celestia's eyes widened. "Is Mr. Discord involved?"

"Tangentially," said Sunset.

"Is it also significant-pause important?" Celestia got half a dozen nods, then sighed. "Very well. I'd prefer that you had some adult supervision, but I get the feeling that this is far out of my league."

"Mr. Discord is an adult," said Fluttershy.

Celestia gave her a flat look. "That's very nice of you to say, Fluttershy, but no. No, he is not. And be sure to tell me if anything radioactive gets involved."


The Not A Human Testing Installation wasn't nearly as bad as most of the Rainbooms had been expecting. There were no rusty surgical blades, operating tables with restraining straps, or sugar-free lollipops. It was mostly computers and less invasive testing equipment, including a few pieces that looked like they had been cookware until recently.

There was also a familiar girl their age plugging away at a console, though the hairstyle, glasses, and complete lack of recognition in her eyes underscored Sunset's reminder. She looked up. "Are you the Rainbooms?"

Dash grinned and put her hands on her hips. "That's right! I'm Rainbow Dash, and these are Rarity, Applejack, Fluttershy, and..." She trailed off once she noticed the spiral-bound notepad in the human Twilight's hands. "Are you taking notes?"

Pinkie giggled. "Silly Dashie! R. U. Takingnotes is my third cousin, once removed!"

Twilight pointed her pencil at Pinkie. "Then you would be?"

"Pinkie Pie!"

Twilight nodded and wrote it down. "Thank you."

"Is that really necessary?" asked Rarity.

Twilight sighed. "Speaking from experience, the only ways I'm going to remember your names are either writing them down or months of awkward, fumbling socialization. Personally, I prefer the former." She put both notepad and pencil in one hand and stuck out the other. "Mr. Discord probably already told you, but I'm Twilight Sparkle."

Dash gave a firm shake. "So, we heard you wanted to meet us."

"It's harder to get information out of this place than the NSA, but it's clear that you five have something to do with the energetic anomalies I've been detecting recently." Twilight's gaze panned across the group. "I don't suppose any of you have built cyclotrons in your backyards? Synthesized any antimatter recently? Figured out cold fusion?" When all she got was shaking heads, she sighed. "I didn't think it would be that simple. For the record, I don't recommend that first one. It tends to end messily."

Rarity raised a finger. "When you say anomalies, what sorts of things do you have in mind?"

"Let's see..." Twilight ticked them off on her fingers. "Pillars of light, helical rainbows, spontaneously appearing cloud cover, seismic readings with an epicenter located a few hundred feet above the ground, any of this ringing a bell?"

This got some uneasy looks, but Pinkie Pie plowed through the awkwardness. "We don't need any fancy science stuff for that! That's all us!"

"You're the source of the anomalies?" Twilight looked around the room. "Is this a prank? Am I on camera?" She stomped her foot. "I do not consent to my image being used this way!"

"No prank," said Dash. She jabbed a thumb at herself and grinned. "We're your girls."

"Impossible. Unless one of you is hiding a sizable particle accelerator under her skirt to go with her instrument, then you're..." Twilight trailed off, wide-eyed, as she watched Pinkie Pie sit and apparently try to fold herself in half. "What is she doing?"

"Looking... oof... for a... urgh... particle..." Pinkie grunted and straightened out, rubbing the small of her back. "Owie. Nope, no particle accelerator. Just muscle cramps."

Twilight nodded. "Okay, so you are all insane. Good to know. I'll continue my investigations elsewhere. Have a nice day." She made for the door.

"Hold on there, missy," said Applejack, barring her way.

Twilight crossed her arms. "What?"

Applejack matched the gesture. "Yer a scientist, right?"

"I like to think of myself as such, yes."

Applejack nodded. "Now, Ah ain't no prodigy, but one thing Ah've picked up from mah science classes is that scientists gotta trust their senses. Am Ah right?"

"Of course. If we couldn't trust observations, we'd be set back all the way to Brayto's cave of shadows." Twilight frowned. "What's your point?"

"Fluttershy?"

Fluttershy jumped a little. "Y-yes?"

Applejack smirked. "Play somethin' for us, sugarcube."

Fluttershy gulped. "Okay." She raised her tambourine and closed her eyes. After a few moments, her nerves gave way to the music. Soon, she was afloat on wings of song. And magic.

Twilight's jaw dropped. "That... I don't... What?"

Fluttershy drifted back to the floor as she finished her solo. Applejack chuckled. "Believe us now, Miss Sparkle?"

"This... I... It doesn't..." Twilight took a deep breath. "Okay. I'm okay. What I believe doesn't matter. What I observe does. And I observe that there is no way that that tank top can hide a wire harness." She nodded to herself, ignoring Fluttershy's blush. "As much as I want to say that that was impossible, it clearly happened. There's no point in denying it. Somehow, Miss Shutterfly—"

"Fluttershy," chorused the other girls.

"And now you all see the reason for the notebook. Miss Fluttershy violated the conservation of energy so hard that she probably shouldn't be allowed within five hundred feet of a physics textbook." Twilight looked at the group with wide eyes. "And you can all do this?"

Dash gave a chuckle. "Only me and Shy—"

"Shy and I," said Twilight.

"Only me and Shy grow wings. The others get the hair and ears, though."

"I see. This... This could be an incredible breakthrough." Twilight beamed. "The biggest thing since Gedankenexperiment, since Darwhinny! How did this happen?"

"We got magic powers from an alternate version of you who's a magical pony princess." Pinkie blushed as she noted her friends' glares. "Sorry! It just slipped out."

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "Can any of you confirm this?"

She was met with several nods. "Ah know it sounds crazy, but that is what happened," said Applejack.

Twilight shrugged. "Okay, then. Shall we get started?" She walked to one of the mainframes and busied herself at its base.

"Wait, you're okay with that?" said Rainbow Dash.

"Hey, you can all grow additional limbs. On cue. Compared to that, proving the Many Worlds interpretation is small potatoes." Twilight rose with a bundle of electrodes in each fist and a smile on her face. "Now, who's first?"


Principal Celestia sat at her desk. "Alright, Sunset. What is it you needed to tell me?"

"Before I begin," said Sunset, "how much do you know about the portal and the world on the other side?"

Celestia was silent for a few moments. Finally, she said, "Probably more than I should, but definitely less than I'd like."

Sunset sighed. "This is really important, ma'am. Even more important than the sirens. Could you please drop the enigmatic vagueness?"

Celestia grinned. "Well, if you want to take all the fun out of it."

"Don't tell Pinkie I said this, but this really isn't a time for fun."

Celestia nodded. "Understood. I know there is a magical gateway set in the Wondercolt statue in front of the school. I know that it leads to the world where you, Twilight Sparkle, and the sirens came from. I know the gate isn't always open, and that the world on the other side is very different from ours. For one, royalty there seems to have a great deal of actual power."

"That actually brings me to what I wanted to tell you," said Sunset. "See, that world runs parallel to this one. A lot of people exist in both, and you're one of them. Your analogue isn't just a high school principal." Sunset paused for a moment. "Well, technically, she is the head of a school, but she delegates those duties to somepony else."

Celestia raised an eyebrow. "Some pony?"

"Smaller, more intelligent, and much more magical than the equinoids of this world. There's a reason my friends and I grow those ears."

"Huh. And here I thought they were cat ears."

Sunset blinked. "Why would you..." She shook her head. "We're getting off-topic. The point is that your analogue rules the most powerful nation on the planet."

Celestia chuckled. "Well, I certainly don't envy her. I've never liked politics."

"So she once told me," said Sunset. "But she's had millennia to get used to it."

Celestia's mouth opened and closed a few times. "Millennia?"

"Yes, ma'am. I know it sounds crazy, but your pony analogue is immortal and incredibly powerful. She literally makes the sun come up." Sunset held up a hand. "I'm serious. I've been there. I have firsthoof experience watching and magically sensing her raise the sun."

"I... see." Celestia's gaze drifted down. "This is a lot to take in." She looked back to Sunset. "Why are you telling me this?"

Sunset took a deep breath, screwed her eyes shut, and forced the words out. "Because this universe is filling up with magic that shouldn't be here. Everyone who was at the final performance of the Battle of the Bands may have been imbued with some degree of magical power, including you."

Silence. Finally, Sunset cracked open one eye, seeing Celestia's sympathetic look. "I can tell that took a lot of courage," said Celestia. "You see a great deal of her in me, don't you?"

"More than you know, ma'am."

Celestia sighed. "Well, I'm afraid I don't have the same resources as my counterpart likely does. I do have a little pull in the local area, but I've already called in a lot of favors to deflect awkward questions about this year's magical incidents. And to keep you out of juvenile hall."

Sunset dipped her head. "Thank you for that, ma'am."

"I could tell that you had truly changed that day." Celestia smiled. "Of course, I would have been very surprised if you hadn't."

"Yeah, no kidding." Sunset rubbed the back of her head. "Nothing says 'life-changing experience' like turning into a raging she-demon and taking a rainbow to the face."

"I bring this up because I won't be able to offer similar assistance this time. I've led an interesting life, Sunset, but these days I'm just a high school principal. My biggest concerns are staying under budget and making sure Mr. Discord doesn't assign any homework that involves U-235." Celestia grinned. "Though I can imagine the morning announcement: 'Attention all students, anyone who spontaneously grows longer hair and pony ears is to report to the nurse’s office.’"

Sunset laughed a little. "I understand, ma'am. Really, I only wanted to warn you so you knew what to expect if we can't take care of this quickly."

Celestia nodded. "So, what do I need to do to keep the solar system heliocentric?"

"For now, my best advice is to avoid doing any musical performances. Beyond that?" Sunset shrugged. "That's what my friends and I are trying to figure out here and now."

"I see. I'll have to tell Luna that karaoke night will be suspended for the foreseeable future." Celestia folded her hands. "Speaking of whom, what about Luna? I assume she's also at risk, but what kind of risk does she present?"

"I've never met her pony analogue, but I understand she's responsible for the moon and dreams."

Celestia nodded. "I'll make sure she doesn't do any solo acts, then. Is that everything?"

After a moment, Sunset returned the nod. "It should be."

Celestia rapped her fingers against her desk for a moment. "Let me give you my cell number, just in case something comes up that I might be able to help with. I trust I don't need to tell you that it should only be for emergencies."

"Of course, ma'am." Sunset passed over her phone.

Once Celestia finished entering the number, she returned the phone and smiled. "I won't detain you any longer. I'm sure your friends are waiting for you."

Sunset shrugged. "They're working with the Twilight Sparkle of this world. Knowing her, she's probably already answered every question I could think to ask."


Once Sunset opened the door to the NAHTI, she was greeted by the sight of a frizzled, frazzled, familiar girl. "Uh, hi. Twilight Sparkle?"

Twilight nodded and coughed out a cloud of smoke in the color and shape of a rainbow. "Yup," she said shakily. "That's me, alright."

"I'm Sunset Shimmer. I—"

"Hold on, lemme get my botenook." Twilight turned away and staggered.

Sunset swooped down and grabbed her before she hit the floor. "Are you okay?"

"Magic doesn't seem to like being analyzed," said Twilight.

Sunset looked up and saw the other Rainbooms gathered around. "What happened?"

"Each of us put on some contraptions, played a little music, and Twilight here came out worse for the wear," said Applejack.

Dash rubbed an arm. "After I, uh, rainbowed her in the face, we kinda figured it'd be better for everyone if we waited for you to show up."

"You're the big authority on magic, after all!" Pinkie cried.

Twilight stirred and struggled to her feet. "You are?"

Sunset gave a nervous chuckle. "Well, only by default. I'm from a higher magic world, so—"

"A primary source! I have so many questions for you. Maybe you help me make sense of these readings." Twilight took Sunset's hand and dragged her to a partitioned area behind a prismatically stained window. "As far as I can tell, all the data has been incomprehensible garbage." Twilight glared at the monitor as she pulled up files. "EEG readouts shouldn't take the form of concentric butterflies! That isn't a continuous function!"

Sunset pondered this for a moment. "Well, it might be in polar coordinates."

"They're not in polar coordinates!" Twilight took a deep breath. "Sorry. Really, aside from becoming the butt of a slapstick routine, this has been the greatest day of my life. I just wish more of it made sense."

"Don't worry. Between the two of us, we should be able to make this work like a charm." Sunset looked at the screen. She felt her jaw drop. Most of the values weren't numbers, or even letters. Moons, hearts, guitars, snowmen... "We, uh, may need to redo a few of the tests."


The better part of an hour later, an older man poked his head in the room, followed by the rest of him. His thinning hair was shock white, and his skin was dun. His suit may have been tweed once, but was now made mostly of variously colored patches. The arms of his glasses were different colors, and their lenses were different sizes, giving him a permanent skeptical look. "Sorry I'm so late," he said. "Unavoidable family issues. Now, shall we..." He trailed off as he took in the area, his bushy eyebrows rising. "Oh my."

While most of the girls were cleaning up or putting away equipment, Sunset and Twilight were sitting in a corner, leaning on one another and looking like they'd had a disagreement with a wind tunnel. A bit of rainbow lightning arced its way up the space between them. "Hello, Mr. Discord," Twilight moaned.

"Well," said Mr. Discord, "I can tell I've missed most of the fun." He knelt down next to the two of them as the others gathered around him. "Tell me, girls, what have you learned today?"

"Magic definitely doesn't like being analyzed," said Twilight.

Mr. Discord quirked an eyebrow. "I'm surprised. It's not like you to anthropomorphize, Twilight."

"I've never felt like I personally offended a fundamental force before." Twilight winced as another colorful spark discharged off of her.

"Fair enough. Ms. Shimmer?"

Sunset took a deep breath. "The biggest problem is that we can only get surges."

This got several confused murmurs. Mr. Discord simply nodded. "Go on."

"A general rule of... thumb is that a magic surge is at least an order of magnitude stronger than a person's baseline. If we could just get a consistent, steady output, then these sensors would probably be able to—" Sunset stopped, distracted by a sound that she felt rather than heard. There was a bone-shaking groan like gears the size of galaxies suddenly jamming, then a deep silence like the cosmos holding its breath on the verge of a sneeze. The motion of the spheres resumed with a shudder that threw every member of the Rainbooms to the ground.

Mr. Discord didn't seem to notice it. Not directly. "Well," he said, "isn't this an interesting development?"

"Fascinating," added a wide-eyed Twilight.

Sunset could feel her ears twitch on top of her head. She ran her fingers through her hair, confirming its added length. She waited for the better part of a minute; the add-ons didn't seem to be going anywhere.

Dash scowled, her wings flared open. "You just had to say something, didn't you?"

Author's Note:

The past is not today's top priority.

Just imagine human Celestia trying to leave a car. It's like a man emerging from a suitcase.

Gedankenexperiment was EG (and pony) Einstein. Pranck was Max Planck. I hope I don't have to tell you who Darwhinny was.

Good idea: Telling the principal that she should be careful or she might end up channeling the power of a sun god.
Bad idea: Telling the principal that you may have doomed the universe.

For an idea of what the experiments were like, see here.

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