• Published 21st Sep 2018
  • 1,047 Views, 97 Comments

meanwhile...: Tales of the Berylverse - Shinzakura



Part of the Berylverse. There are hundreds of stories out there. Not all of them are Sunset's.

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Tedere Bloemen

“Shimmy!” Night Lily rushed up to her, gasping from heavy running.

“Hey, you okay, Lil?” Shimmer asked her friend.

“No! Are you kidding? My world is ruined!” Tears were streaming down her friend’s face, ruining her mascara. “My life is over!”

Shimmer sighed; Lily was always melodramatic. “Want to tell me what’s going on?”

“Do you remember my date with Strongarm last night?”

“That hunky Scottish guy you keep pining over?”

Lily began bawling again. “He’s seeing another girl! And I have proof!”

“What, did you catch him when you met up with him?” Shimmer’s eyes narrowed in anger. At that moment, she wished her sister would visit soon so that Sunset could teach her how to use some sort of spell to mess with Strongarm, if that was the case.

Lily shuffled her feet. “Well, no, but….”

“But what?”

“When I got there, he was on the phone with some other girl – some German girl!” She balled up her hands in frustration. “I bet it was Raffinesse, that hussy! She’s had her eye on him all this time!” Lily started bawling again. “And then while he was in the bathroom, I grabbed his phone and looked at it.”


“Wow, that’s really classy, Lil.” Beachcomber, with Priceless following behind, joined them. “And no, you don’t have to bring me up to speed, Shimmy. I already heard the blow-by-blow from Price here.”

“Yeah,” Priceless sighed. “It gets real interesting.”

“Well, I copied the number down and as soon as I find Raffinesse, I’m going to give her a piece of my mind!” Lily stammered, wiping her eyes. “How could she ruin the heart of a maiden in love like me?”

“Maiden?” Beachcomber said skeptically, crossing her arms.

“Beachie, you really don’t want to go there,” Priceless warned her.

“I’ll have you know that Olhar Nobre and I did not go all the way,” Lily growled. “So yes, I am still pure.”

“Pure bullshit,” Beachcomber said with a grin.

“Beachie….” Shimmer warned, then turned to her other friends. “Price, would you do me a favor and take Lily to go get her makeup fixed before class starts? Last thing we need is for Raffinesse to see her in this state.”

“Yeah, of course. Sure thing,” Priceless agreed.

“Lily, give me that phone number, okay? I’ll do some looking into it and make sure that’s the case.”

“But…but….”

“Look, I see how Strongarm looks at you, okay?” the flame-haired girl said with a smile. “No guy like that’s going to cheat on you. There’s probably a reasonable explanation.”

“I hope so,” Lily sobbed. “I’ll text you the number.”

A few seconds later, Shimmer had it and as she waved her friends off, she sighed. Right now, she could use some of her twin sister’s particular skills, but she didn’t have those. Fortunately, she had some assets of her own to tap into.

She just hoped that it wouldn’t look too bad.

“You know, mujer, you owe me.” The speaker was a boy her age, with shoulder-length red hair near the same color as hers, but with beige eyes and a smoldering smile. At the moment, he was at a keyboard, typing away. “Perhaps over dinner sometime?”

“Cordoba, remember what I told you? I’m not ready for dating just yet. Especially after my recent issues with Vlamwacht,” Shimmer told the boy.

Cordoba Alcazar looked at the girl seated next to him. “And I have no idea what you were thinking when you found his fancy. I warned you, did I not? He only has eyes for royalty and nobility, because he’s trying to score points.”

Shimmer crossed her arms and gave the boy an even look. “And you aren’t?”

Cordoba laughed. “As if. Remember, I may be a member of the Spanish royal family, but I am illegitimate – a bastard,” he told her. “Though my mother and I are well taken care of, I will hold no title or rank within the family, and though my relatives are nice, I would hardly think my uncle the King would formally make me a prince. Even in the Court of the Bourbons, such a thing would be impossible.” He gave her a wolfish grin. “In some cases, it’s even worse than being American.”

“You’re not helping your case here, Cord.”

He shrugged. “Point made. In any case, I can confirm that whoever it is that you’re looking for, the number is not that of our young miss Raffinesse.”

“Are you sure? I know Lily and while she can be a bit high-strung, she’s also good at recognizing voices.”

“I’m quite sure,” Cordoba told her. “I know for a fact that she was elsewhere occupied.”

“Oh?”

He flicked the mouse over to a familiar website. “Is this enough evidence for you?” He turned to screen so he could show her. On the screen was a Facebook page, one Shimmer was intimately familiar with. And on it, was her one-time romantic interest, Vlamwacht, making out with Raffinesse over on the Seine. The picture looked as though he’d selfied the whole thing, and the date of the post matched.

Cyan eyes narrowed. “That bastard,” was all she said.

“I thought you weren’t interested in him any longer?”

“I’m not…but it still doesn’t mean he’s not a bastard.”

Cordoba laughed. “Perhaps, infanta, perhaps. So now that you know, would you be interested in finding out what I uncovered about that phone number?”

“What’s it going to cost me? Saturday date at Disneyland?”

To her surprise, he shook his head. “That would be gauche, bonita, and you know it. No, all I want to know is why.”

Shimmer sighed; she really needed to learn magic from Sunset so she could do a lot more of this on her own. “Lily is interested in Strongarm, but she thinks that he cheated on her with Raffinesse. She told me she went out with him and overheard him flirting with a German girl, and we only know one particular German girl that’s more interested in being a slut than some ice queen.”

“That’s a rather harsh statement, don’t you think?”

She grinned. “I blame the American in me.”

Cordoba laughed again. “Well, I suppose you’ve earned this.” He moused over to the next browser window. “This is the number that Strongarm probably called then. It’s popular amongst a lot of guys at school as of late.”

“A German sex phone line?”

He shrugged and admitted, “I’ve even called it once.”

“You’re a cad, Cord.”

“Honestly, it was just idle curiosity, because I came across the commercial on YouTube while I was watching something else.” His fingers danced over the keyboard, bringing up the site in question. He then went into his browser history, bringing up the specific commercial. “If nothing else, if the girl in the commercial is the actual girl on the phone – and I don’t see why she would be – well, no offense, bonita, but while you’re cute, she’s sexy. And sexy always gets a man’s attention.”

Ignoring his backhanded compliment, Shimmer instead focused on the screen and the commercial playing. She didn’t know much German, but she knew enough to figure out what EROTISCHER TELEFONSEX probably meant.

Worse, she knew the girl onscreen. But not as well as the one person whose help she was going to need.

Sunset’s phone immediately started ringing as the first rays of light began to climb over the horizon. Groaning, she absently tried swiping for it a couple of times before she gave up and opened her eyes.

I swear, can’t a goddess get some sleep? Admittedly, as an alicorn she no longer technically needed to sleep, eat, etc….but she liked sleeping, eating, etc. It kept her mother and aunt tethered to reality, it kept her cousin and her friend tethered to reality, and even as the lone Alicorn of Earth, it did the same for her, too.

Even if I could probably just completely metabolize everything and not have to use the restroom ever again, she thought to herself. A second later, she realized what she was thinking about and the ickiness completely woke her up.

Reaching for the phone, she immediately saw who was calling her. “Shimmy? It’s six in the morning here. What’s up?”

“Sis! I know this is crazy, but can you come to Paris? We need to talk.”

Sunset blinked. “Yeah, no pressure or anything. You are aware the farthest I’ve ever considered teleporting to before was to LA, and even then it was chain teleporting, not to mention the fact that I never actually tried it.”

“Look, it’s really important and I wouldn’t bother you right now if I didn’t think it was urgent.”

Sunset banished the remainder of her sleepiness away. “You know it’s a school day, right?”

“I know; that’s how I found out – at my school! It’s really important!”

Sunset sighed. If there was one person on this world aside from her family that she couldn’t disappoint…it was her “twin sister”. Shaking her head, she said, “Okay, Shimmy. Give me a place where I can meet you and then give me thirty minutes. I need to cover my tracks.”

“Sure, I’ll text you. I need to let my friends know I can’t hang out with them this afternoon. See you soon, sis.”

Despite everything, Sunset smiled. “Sure thing. See you in thirty.” She immediately cast two more spells, one to get refreshed for the day and a second to put on clothing. She then checked the weather in Paris to make sure what she was wearing was okay, then immediately made a phone call.

The voice on the other end sounded just as tired as her. “I take it there’s a reason you’re calling me at 6:10 in the morning, Ms. Shimmer?”

“Good morning, Ms. Celestia. I need a favor – I need someone to excuse me for school today. Wing and horns business.”

“Sunset…is this going to be a regular thing? I…I’m not the principal of CHS anymore. That would be Luna’s job.”

“I….” Sunset paused for thought. “I thought it would make more sense to ask you. And no, I don’t want this to be a regular thing. I want a normal life, not chasing down every little crisis on this world. It survived before I got involved….”

“But we didn’t know what was really out there.” Celestia paused on the other end. “Fine. I’ll pull some strings, tell them that I gave you a special educational assignment. As an assistant superintendent, I’m allowed to occasionally use some dispensations for students. But I can’t do this all the time.”

“I know. I’ll have to figure out something.”

However…I want to know what this is about when you’re done with whatever it is, Sunset. I think your parents, Luna, Sable and I need to discuss this. As an educator…as your mother’s friend…I don’t want you doing this on a regular basis. You are still a growing woman, Sunset and you need to be a normal teenager, even if the truth is anything but.”

“I know. Thanks, Ms. Celestia. I’ll tell you as soon as I’m back from Paris.”

“Paris?”

“Long story. Really long story.” Sunset then hung up, then went to her computer and started doing calculations. She knew her family would be waking up soon and the moment the triplets smelled anything was wrong, they would demand to go with her. Likewise so would Twilight and Octavia – she couldn’t allow them to risk whatever was happening to Shimmer.

A second later, she finished her calculations. A second after that, she memorized them.

A second after that, a young girl vanished, replaced by a maize-colored alicorn, burning with power.

Sunset teleported herself outdoors…

…then shot off into the air, immediately reaching supersonic once she was high enough.


Several minutes later, five girls rushed into Sunset’s room. “Sunny!” Twilight called out. “Did you—”

“Wait – she’s not in bed,” Octavia noticed immediately. “Something’s up.”

“Yeah, something’s up alright.” Sonata immediately went to the keyboard. “We have ballistic calculations from here to Paris.”

“Paris? Shimmy?” Aria asked.

Adagio sighed. “Okay, whose turn is it to tell Aunt Velvet this wonderful news?” They all looked fruitlessly at one another, and then back to Adagio, who facepalmed. “Great. And I just got off being grounded, too. Thanks, girls.”

A mid-afternoon breeze fluttered across the sky, blowing onto all who were visiting the Eiffel Tower. For most of them, this legendary symbol of Paris was a treasure, a once-hated piece of architecture that the Parisians had thought to be a scar on the skyline, and yet now, over a century later, it was a beloved part of French culture.

But for Sunset Shimmer, right now it was the best place she could think to be on a school afternoon where her friends and fellow students wouldn’t interfere. Being a tourist trap, even a beloved tourist trap, it would be a place where they wouldn’t go on a regular basis. Denizens of Paris and its suburbs, after all, saw the thing every day.

So as she leaned against the railing on the top platform, she knew she would be alone for the moment. The champagne bar wasn’t currently open, and by a small stroke of luck, no one else seemed to have any interest in spending €15 to take the elevator to the top floor, giving her both a gorgeous view and complete solitude.

“Wow! This is impressive,” she heard from behind her and turned to see Sunset Shimmer standing there, in her alicorn form, looking through one of the telescopes. “This reminds me a lot of Canterlot…well, the one I was born in, I mean. The view from the palace is just as breathtaking.”

“Sunny!” Shimmer went over and glomped her doppelganger just as Sunset resumed her human form.

“Easy!” Sunset laughed. “It’s only been a day or two since we last saw each other, Shimmy.”

“You’re my sister! I’m supposed to miss you anyway!” Shimmer pouted before giving her twin a wide smile. “Seriously, though, it’s great seeing you again.”

“Yeah, but I can’t make a habit of it – this is going to cost me a school day,” Sunset reminded the younger girl. “So what’s up?”

“Let’s go get some coffee and I’ll tell you all about it.”


A few minutes later, the two were at the restaurant on the first floor. “And so that’s everything,” Shimmer finished. “I know that it seems strange, but when I saw it, I had to tell you in person. This isn’t exactly the sort of thing you can just do over email, you know?”

Sunset nodded; her twin had a point. “Yeah,” Sunset said, watching the offending video on her phone. “Thanks for letting me know about this, Shimmy. Really.”

“Hey, she’s my friend too, you know. Obviously, you’re closer than I am, but I got to know her as well and I don’t see why she would do this.”

“Well, have you given consideration to the fact that it might be—” When Shimmer merely gave Sunset an even glance, the latter chuckled. “Okay, I guess I kinda deserve that one.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you,” Shimmer said with a smile. “But what are you going to do?”

“Look into it. Best place to start is Germany, since this is all German.”

“Have you ever been there before?” Shimmer asked. When Sunset shook her head, Shimmer nodded. “Well, fortunately for you, I have. Let’s get going.”

“Are you sure that’s okay, sis?”

“I think Mom would understand,” Shimmer assured her. “Besides, safest place in the world is probably being right next to my sister, who’s a literal goddess, right?”

“Yeah, I guess. Okay. Let’s get going then.”

One heavy description, a teleport and a few minutes later, the two girls ended up in a small German border city by the name of Offenburg. As the two walked down Lindenplatz, Shimmer said, “Mom and I usually stop here whenever we drive through Germany. She loves the place and I suspect that if she’d been born German, she would want to live here.” She then looked at her sister side-eyed and asked, “So what’s the plan?”

“I need to get my hands on a phone system,” the alicorn replied. “You don’t happen to have all-European access on your phone, do you?”

“Thought you’d never ask.” Shimmer handed over her phone and Sunset started fiddling with it, taking the time to look up stuff. “Sunny, are you sure you know what you’re going to do?”

“Not in the least.” Sunset moved forward a bit before plopping down on a convenient park bench. “I mean, what can I say? What would you say?”

Shimmer sat down next to her. “Good to know that the goddess can be human at times,” she said with a smirk.

Sunset sighed. “Shimmy….”

“No, I meant that as a compliment, sis.” Shimmer leaned against Sunset. “We’re the same person, though different dimensional copies. And you are, as far as I’m concerned, my sister. And that means that we need to have a bond with each other. But how can you have a bond with anyone if you’re so far above them that what is just normal for you is completely fantastical and amazing for others? You already started with that sort of life, given what you really are. And each step just takes you further out past the demarcation line. So it’s good to know that at the end of the day you’re still human.”

“Funny that you would say that,” Sunset said with a smile, as she continued to search through Shimmer’s phone. “Okay, found it. Give me a second.” The phone, buoyed in a mist of cyan energy, wafted up from Sunset’s hand, the screen spitting out virtual images. Tiny holograms appeared around the two of them.

“Use your magic and snare what you saw earlier, okay?” Sunset asked her.

“How do I do that?” Shimmer asked in reply.

“Just focus and think as though you’re drawing a circle around the picture in question. You can even trace the circle in the air if you want, though eventually you should become strong enough to just do so with your mind.”

Doing as requested, Shimmer used her finger to trace around the image. As she did, a red trace of light enveloped it.

“Good, now hold it,” Sunset told her. “Just relax and keep focusing on it, okay?”

“Sure,” Shimmer told her, “but what are you up to?”

“Just follow my lead,” Sunset told her, and dispelled the other images, focusing on that particular one. A new spew of information jotted out from Shimmer’s phone and a tendril of Sunset’s magic traced a line across the various data coming out of the device, moving faster and through each bit until it stopped.

“Gotcha,” she said, and flicked her fingers.

A man suddenly appeared, the look on his one of studious analysis, which soon vanished as he suddenly realized he was no longer where he was originally.

“Was ist dis?” he spoke, looking around. “Wo bin ich?”

Sunset waved her hand. “We don’t have time for niceties,” she said sternly. “We have questions – you’re going to have answers.”

His eyes widened at the two twins standing there. “Vat are you?” he gasped, then blinked. “I’m…I’m not schpeaking German, am I?”

“Congratulations, and welcome to the world of English,” Shimmer said, getting what Sunset was doing and rolled with that. “We have questions, and like she said, you’re going to give us answers.”

“I don’t ansver to little girls,” the man said defensively, pulling his reedy body stark straight.

“In case you hadn’t noticed,” Sunset told him, “you’re not in your usual location, and we’re wielding incomprehensible power that should make you shit your pants. You are at a severe disadvantage, and unless you want to be turned into a frog, you will tell us what you know.”

“Vat?”

“You heard her,” Shimmer said, taking a chance and imagining a ball of fire in her hand. At once, her magic complied, creating a miniature ruby inferno in her palm. “We could also do worse.”

The man paled, finally realizing what he was in the midst off. “Fine! I’ll tell you vhatever you want! Chust…chust don’t hurt me!”

Sunset gestured to the picture. “According to our files, she works for you. Who is she?”

“Seltenheit? One of our pest – vy do you vant to know?”

“Let’s just say that we don’t trust you and we think she’s in danger,” Sunset ventured.

“Nonsense – sche’s one of our pest; vorked for me for years! I take care of all of mein girls,” he told her. He then looked at them both and ventured, “Berhaps you vould like to try vorking for me? I can tell you’re poth fine peaudies und I haffe zo few redheads.”

“Perhaps I can turn you into a redhead – that should solve your problem in short order,” Shimmer bluffed. He froze at those words and she gave a cold smirk. “Would you care to rephrase your statement?”

He tugged at his tie. “Yes, of courze.”

“So where is this Seltenheit?”

“Sche’s…sche’s Dutch, put sche liffes in Pruges,” the man explained. “Sche’s our most bobular girl und ve only uze her ven ve haffe top clientele that request her schervices.”

“And you’re going to give us her contact information, correct?” Sunset insisted. In response, he pulled out his cellphone and brought up the contact information, then showed her. Sunset took his phone, then looked at it.

“Well, that’s that,” Shimmer said. “We going to Bruges?”

“Sure.”

“Vat about me?” the man asked. How do I get pack to Berlin?” The response to that was the girls vanishing – and taking his cellphone with him.

He stood alone in a plaza, hundreds of miles southwest of where he normally was…with no easy way of getting back home.

“Sohn einer Hündin!” he spat.

A second later, the two ended up by a canal. “Welcome to Bruges!” Shimmer said. “I’ve only been here once before, so sorry if my directions were slightly off.”

“Um…stupid question time….”

“Belgium.”

Sunset blushed. “Oh.”

“It’s okay,” Shimmer giggled. “Sometimes I forget I’m the more travelled sister…well, as far as this reality is concerned.” She then noticed the setting sun. “In any case, we need to get this done soon. Mom’s going to notice by now that I’m not home from school and I’m sure you’re going to want to get back before people notice you’re gone as well.”

“Too late for that already,” Sunset sighed. She hadn’t looked at her email, but she knew she was probably in trouble with her entire family at this point and being grounded was probably in the cards. Still, she had to see this through.

“Look, we already found out that it was just my overactive imagination, okay? I made a mistake, sis, and I don’t want you to get in trouble for it. Especially since I’m probably going to be in hot water myself once my mother finds out I went a bit beyond my normal boundaries. Still….”

“Still?”

“There was something about that guy that freaked me out. Plus, if this girl is a sex worker, then…well, let’s just say that from the last news article I read, the EU has a serious issue with runaway girls that become sex workers, because they don’t have anything else to turn to and they become virtual sex slaves.”

Sunset folded her arms. “Okay, so this is now less about quote-unquote ‘my’ issue and more about you wanting to be a heroine?”

Now it was Shimmer’s turn to blush. “Maybe my older sister is just rubbing off on me?” she offered.

Sunset chuckled and shook her head. “Well, I came all this way for you, so I guess I should see this through.”

Shimmer grinned and hugged Sunset’s arm and kissed her cheek in response. “I owe you, sis.”

The address pointed to a nondescript brown door on a brick apartment complex facing Kruisvest. From where the sisters stood, they could hear the babbling of the canal and people biking by. One person in particular gave them a hard glare, likely due to where they stood – an indicator that at least someone was familiar with what the occupant did for a living and did not quite approve.

“Well, I guess that’s a confirmation of sorts,” Shimmer murmured, watching as the person giving them the stink-eye walked on past. “Let’s just get this over with.”

Taking the hint, Sunset knocked on the door. On the other side, a muffled voice sang out, “Een ogenblik aub! Ik ben er zo!”

Sunset and Shimmer looked at one another. The voice was uncanny.

Suddenly the door cracked open and a young woman was revealed. She wore very little, and though she looked surprised at first, she assumed a sultry pose. “Zusters? Nou, ik heb dat nog nooit eerder gedaan, maar er is een eerste keer voor alles….”

Sunset blinked for a second, surprised at the other woman before realizing what she meant. “Uh…no,” she said in English. “We’re…um…not here for that.”

“Oh! Americans!” The woman excitedly clapped her hands together, cheerfully, speaking in Dutch-accented English. “I’m American as well! Or…well, that’s what my mother told me. I never really knew my father. My name is—”

“Seltenheit, we know. We were referred to you by your boss in Berlin,” Sunset began. “But we’re not here to talk about your business…um, either of them. We just wanted confirmation as to who you are.”

Seltenheit looked at the taller twin with a curious gaze. “Why? I mean, aside from what I do for a living – of which you just said that you’re not interested – I don’t know why you wanted to speak to me.”

Sunset wasn’t sure of what to answer.

Fortunately, she wasn’t by herself.

“Are you happy with the way you’re living? From how it sounds, you aren’t happy with your…ahem…boss.”

Seltenheit looked at the two, then opened her door more. “Please, come in.”


As they entered the flat, they noticed that it looked fairly tasteful, like someone their age lived here. Sensing that, Seltenheit looked at them both. “Ah. The, ahem, ‘work location’ is downstairs in the basement,” she explained. “It has a separate entrance, as some of my clients do not wish to be seen. Additionally, I like my home to remind me of what I hope to be someday.”

“And that is?”

Seltenheit ignored the question. “Would you care for some tea? Or beer? Presuming you two are old enough, of course—”

“Ms. Seltenheit,” Sunset interjected, “you’re dodging the question she asked.”

“First off, I don’t get many girls my age – twins, no less – come to my door. Second, you’re both American – and I don’t see many of those, or at least those I can identify. Third, you come asking about my boss and not my particular proclivities. So,” she said, “the question I have is…are you CIA or FBI?”

“We’re not….”

“Both of you, to be quite honest, are incredibly beautiful. And while I consider myself heterosexual, I have had female clientele, so I do know how to pleasure them,” she admitted. “But the way you two carry yourselves is not the way clientele or fellow, ahem, ‘professionals’ would. As I said, my father was supposedly American, but I have no hard proof of that. And given how America tends to run roughshod over everything, or at least that’s what the telly would have us believe, I have to wonder: am I in trouble?”

Sunset looked at Shimmer.

Shimmer stepped forward and took Seltenheit’s hands in her own. “No. Quite the opposite. We’re here to help you.”

“Help me?”

Sunset asked, “How old are you, Ms. Seltenheit?” When the woman was about to speak, the alicorn added, “How old are you really?”

“Old enough?”

Shimmer went over and took a seat at Seltenheit’s table. “Wow, that sounded almost believable.” Her tone indicated that she didn’t buy a word of it.

Seltenheit murmured something sotto voce, and when Shimmer pressured her, she said, “Fifteen.”

“So not legal by any means. Does your mother know about this?”

Seltenheit shook her head. “Hangt af van wat je vanuit de hemel kunt zien,” was her response.

“Hemel? Heaven?” Taking a seat, Sunset didn’t know what that meant, but she knew her sister’s tone of voice and saw the look of concern in her eyes.

“I’ve…I’ve been on my own since I was eleven,” Seltenheit admitted. “My mother was in the same business as I am, but not as lucky as I’ve been. She passed away from AIDS. Her ‘employer’ promised her that he would help me find my father and live with him. Needless to say, he didn’t. Instead, he charged me for my mother’s medical and funeral costs and said I would have to work to pay him back. It goes without saying that he found a way for me to do it.”

Sunset looked at her. “But you’re underage!” The irony of an underage girl living on her own didn’t escape her, nor did the fact that she already knew someone who had the same issues as she did.

“Yes, and he took pains to cover his tracks. He has several police on his payroll, and several select politicians as his clientele. This…this actually isn’t my home. This place belongs to a Belgian parliamentarian who owes him quite a bit. Said politician pays for my private tutor and house, but….”

“Are you saying that you’re trapped here?” Shimmer asked.

Seltenheit looked at them for a bit, then nodded her head in shame.

“We’re going to fix this.” Shimmer pulled out her phone. “I’m going to ask you one question and one question only, and I want the absolute truth, am I clear?” The younger twin had assumed the voice of regality once more, and Sunset couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride for her younger sister at that. Sunset might not have been born a princess, but she knew what one was – and Shimmer definitely carried herself like one.

Shimmer’s cyan eyes met Seltenheit’s own. “What would you give to be a normal girl?”

The older girl looked hesitant to answer, as if it would lead to extra vulnerability.

“Seltenheit…I give you my word that this is not trickery. I didn’t come here to add to your burden,” Shimmer told her. “I came here to end it.”

The look on Seltenheit’s face was one of utter surprise. “You…you mean that?”

Sunset looked at her sister with a wry smile. “Trust me, she dragged me along for this one and I was in California this morning.”

“California?” Seltenheit looked at Shimmer. “You’re both from California?”

“No,” Shimmer explained. “I live in Paris. My sister lives in Canterlot. But long story short, yes, it’s true. But that’s not important. What is important is that now that I know you’re in trouble, Ms. Seltenheit, I’m offering you the chance to escape this, if you truly want out.” Shimmer offered her hand. “What will you do?”

“You,” Zephyr said angrily to Shimmer, “are in deep trouble.” He then wheeled on Sunset. “And is there any time when you don’t start a shitstorm?”

Shimmer looked at her mother’s boyfriend, who had come to Bruges after she’d contacted him for help. Now, she wasn’t sure if that had been a good idea. “Look, Zeph….”

Don’t ‘look, Zeph’ me, young lady,” he cut her off. “Besides, I’m not the one you’re going to have to explain this to. When we get home, your mother is going to have some words with you. Most of them will probably be French profanity and somewhere in there is ‘you’re grounded’.” When she looked away, he scratched his head and said in a softer tone, “But personally…I’ll talk to Soli. As much as you fucked up, kid, and shouldn’t have done this…well, you did a good thing. And I’m proud of you.”

Despite everything, Shimmer blushed. “Thanks.” She looked at the Belgian Federal Police car and the frightened girl sitting in the back seat. “What’s going to happen to her?”

“I’ll talk to your uncle,” Zephyr said. “Ask him to pull a few strings and get her under our care. It’s not going to be easy: keep in mind that she’s a minor living on her own and she has zero ties to France and only her word that she’s an American, so it’s going to be very difficult to do so.” He looked at Sunset. “I don’t suppose you’re going to meddle in this one, aren’t you?”

“Is there a way that she can be matched via DNA?” Sunset asked.

“Needle in a haystack, not to mention that we would have to have a reason to go looking,” Zephyr said. “Now, granted I have some friends who could pass this off as a Missing Kids case, given that she’s a minor by European and American standards, but even if we get a hit, there’s also medical confidentiality, if the father knows about her and wants her, etc.”

“But I made a promise to her!” Shimmer cried.

“Yes, and sometimes you can’t keep the promises you make, princess,” Zephyr told her matter-of-factly. “That doesn’t mean I won’t try. But it also means that it’s a harsh lesson you may have to learn. Lastly, you’ll have to hope Noblesse will stick his neck out for this one – he’s the one with the contacts in the Belgian government, not your mom.”

“Fortunately for me, I’m his favorite niece,” she told him.

“That and five euros will get you some coffee – but not a way out of this,” Zephyr reminded her.

“Look, she was just trying to do the right thing, Zephyr,” Sunset told him, defending Shimmer.

“Sunset, clearly you still have a lot more to learn about being human,” Zephyr shot back.

“Thankfully I have others to show me the way when I need it.” She put her arm around Shimmer’s shoulders. Shimmer blushed as a result, and Sunset smiled warmly.

Despite everything, Zephyr could only shake his head and chuckle. “Well, let me talk to the authorities here and see what little diplomatic immunity I have will buy me. Then we’re going home, Shimmy, so you’d better say your goodbyes for now.” Giving Sunset a final nod, Zephyr went off to talk to the police officer in charge, leaving the two teens alone, who walked off towards the canal and out of the view of the scene and the gathering crowd.

She then looked at the moon in the sky. “Well, time for me to go, Shimmy.”

Shimmer pouted. “I wish you didn’t have to.”

Sunset hugged her. “I’ll be back again someday in the near future, you know that. And my family is still planning to make the official visit in December, so everything’s going to be fine. Just…in the meanwhile, practice your magic whenever you can and obviously we’ll still keep in contact. Plus, you’re not exactly going to be alone; aren’t Zephyr’s kids supposed to be moving in soon?” When Shimmer nodded, Sunset patted her on the shoulder. “Then you can work on being a big sister and tell me all about it next time we see each other, okay?”

Shimmer hugged her back. “Will do, sis, will do.”

Sunset let her go and then waved before changing back into her alicorn form, then rocketed into the air, turning invisible as she flew westward.

Shimmer watched as her sister vanished, reminding herself why she was incredibly lucky to both know – and be – Sunset Shimmer.

Sunset appeared back in her room, feeling a bit tired from the jet lag. Even if she could dispel the exhaustion she felt at the moment, the fact was, she flew halfway around the world twice, and used quite a bit of magic, so she was completely tired. Plus, with her being gone for a good portion of the day, it was already eleven in the morning back here in Canterlot and—

“Ahem.”

Sunset turned to see her mother, sitting there in her room, her arms folded. Seated next to her were Celestia and Luna, also with arch looks on their faces.

“Have a nice trip to Paris, Sunset?” Velvet asked archly.

“Um….”

“Celestia told me – and that was after the girls told me,” Velvet explained. “By the way, the triplets are furious with you right now, so don’t think I’m the only one who is owed an apology, young lady.”

“Would you believe I had a good reason?”

“I’m sure you do, and you can explain yourself during lunch. And what I hear will determine exactly how long you’re going to be grounded.”

“I hope you brought gifts back from your trip,” Celestia told her.

“Because a bribe will help soften the blow?” Sunset weakly replied.

“Not in the slightest, young lady,” Luna told her, “but it would at least be the polite thing to do.”

The jingle sounded along pleasantly, the soft voice singing along in German:

“Null hundert achzing fünf
Vier sechs vier sechs
Nur vierzen Cent pro Minute”

On the screen, a scantily-clad Dutch girl, with elegantly-coiffed hair in shades of purple spoke on a phone, while her deep blue eyes were filled with desire. It was very clear what she was selling, and from the professionally-produced status of the video, it was clear that she had enough of a successful business in order to warrant such quality.

Watching via Sunset’s phone, Rarity’s jaw dropped. “But…but this…this isn’t…!” she stammered,

“I know. I met her yesterday while I was in Bruges.”

“Bruges?” it took Rarity a second for the connection to kick in. “Belgium? What on Earth were you doing in Europe!? And why didn’t you take me along?”

“Oh, trust me, be glad you didn’t go,” Sunset grumbled. “As it is, I’m grounded for that little stunt.”

“What, for skipping school?”

“That and going to Europe without permission,” Sunset said blandly as if it were the most normal thing in the world. “Mom says I can only go to school, work and Equestria for the next two weeks. Oh, and I’m forbidden from using magic of any type for the next month, unless it’s an emergency or when I go to Equestria.” Sunset sighed. “Plus, Dagi read me the riot act about going off on a dangerous adventure without bodyguards.”

Rarity, for a change, ignored most of that, instead looking at her doppelganger on the screen. It was clear what the girl did for a living and it made Rarity ill at ease. Handing Sunset’s phone back to her, she asked, “But why did you think…?”

I didn’t. Shimmy did and she was worried about you, so instead of just sending you an email to confirm, she sent me a panicked phone call and dragged me into this whole thing.” Sunset grumbled. “She’s grounded for this whole mess as well,” the teen sighed.

“Sunset, dear, is this why you wanted to talk to me in private? I mean, it’s obviously not me and—”

“Rainbow would drag this joke into the mud, kicking and screaming long past the point of funny,” Sunset reminded her.

Rarity groaned. “You have a point, I must admit,” she stated.

“Well, I didn’t tell her, but if you need someone to talk to about this, you can always get a hold of Bonnie. She’s learned to live with the fact that her doppelganger is a Hong Kong porn star,” Sunset pointed out. “Although…I still feel bad about outing that info.”

“Well, at least I know you wouldn’t do that to me. Or now, at any rate,” Rarity stated.

“True. But there’s always the chance that someone knows about this,” Sunset told her. “But I promise I’ll do everything to make sure someone doesn’t, okay?”

At that pronouncement, Rarity looked unconvinced. “My life is ruined,” she mourned.

Later that night, Flash was kicking back in his bedroom, watching a movie. His cousin Blueblood was also in attendance, having managed to free himself momentarily from his fiancée’s clutches. “And why should I find this interesting?” Blueblood asked.

“Oh, trust me, Blue, you will,” Flash said. “One of my friends found this on the internet and thought it might be of use.”

Blueblood yawned. “This looks like that little soiree that you cooked up. The one that had been filmed and got us all in trouble?”

“Don’t remind me. At least our parents had good lawyers,” the blue-haired boy stated. “But no, this isn’t that. In fact, this one was taken a month ago in Vienna. Perfectly legal, all the girls are above the age of majority.”

Blueblood gave his cousin a bored look. “Flash, if I wanted to see sex, I could just have Suri do something. To my surprise, my dearest betrothed is quite the…how shall we say…freak? As long as she’s in control, she craves lording it over. And you’d be surprised how many girls there are who are willing to be in a ménage a trois with two wealthy and gorgeous people their age.”

“I’ll just stick to the one on ones if you don’t mind; I don’t need the emotional baggage.” Flash picked up the remote and sped up the image. “But that’s not why I wanted you to watch it.”

“Oh?” Blueblood then turned his attention to the screen, finding little interest in the high-class call girls entertaining their clients by “entertaining” each other.

And then he saw her.

“But it’s not her, right?”

“Of course not. But it doesn’t have to be. One thing I learned from my ex before she turned into a goody-two-shoes cunt is that sometimes the image is worse than the reality.” Flash then explained what Sunset had done to a girl named Bon-Bon by way of her doppelganger. “And the best part is, unlike Sweetie Drops and Bon-Bon, this link is even more tenuous.”

Blueblood watched as the on-screen Rarity lookalike writhed in pleasure as two other girls attended her, with a bunch of fat, cheering older men watching in the audience. The whole thing had a sordid air of obscene wealth about it, the kind that spoke of Eastern European affluence and not caring about one’s public image.

Light blue eyes turned to focus on familial eyes the same color as his. “Do tell.”

“Her name is Seltenheit,” Flash said, a nasty grin coming to his face.

Blueblood, who knew German, continued to watch the screen, a nasty look coming over his face. “German for rarity,” he said. Rubbing his nose, he swore he still felt the pain. “And I owe that strumpet some comeuppance, not to mention that Suri would like to have some words with her as well.”

“Anything that will hurt her will get back to Sunset,” Flash said, “and I’m okay with that. Let me know if you need any help.”

“Oh, you’ve been a big help, cousin,” Blueblood said, watching onscreen as Seltenheit switched from her female partners to a willing male one. “And if this gets back at our troublemakers, then they won’t know what hit them.”

Author's Note:

This chapter was unusual to write for me. Originally, it was intended to be a rather light-hearted poke at this video (which itself is a parody of this German commercial; note that the emoticon censoring was added to the video by the uploader, not me, and I suspect the girl is topless behind the emoticon.)

Well, I tried, but a lot of emotional pain takes you into the weird parts of one’s mind. The result was that I came across several articles regarding the heavy epidemic of underage sex workers that is problematic in Europe (was not aware this problem had existed) and from there, things ballooned.

Seltenheit is not meant to be a reinterpretation of Sweet Pea, in case people are wondering (my editors had that question as well). Pea has a normal life now and she turned to prostitution to get away from a bad life; now she has a normal one and is adjusting. Seltenheit is younger than Pea and had a fairly normal life until circumstances forced her into it. How this will play out remains to be seen, of course, but that’s down along the line.