• Published 15th Apr 2016
  • 18,419 Views, 4,842 Comments

Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls - thatguyvex

When dangerous supernatural creatures start to stalk the streets of Canterlot City, Sunset Shimmer and the gang become involved in events that will irrevocably change their lives. A crossover series with the Bleach anime/manga

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Episode 1: The Phoenix and the Soul Reaper

Episode 1: The Phoenix and the Soul Reaper

“Not that I’m complaining Pinkie, but is it really necessary for me to taste test every single one of these candies?” Sunset asked while contradicting her own question by taking another one of the small, chocolate covered jellies and popping it into her mouth. A burst of strawberry goodness intermixed with the smooth chocolate, reminding Sunset that at least there were a few things about the human world that were the same as the realm of Equestria. Candy remained awesome, no matter the world.

“Oh I know you probably have a lot of super important schoolwork to get to, man did Mr. Cranky ever dish out the essays this weekend, but I have to get these recipes tested out for the bake sale next week!” said Pinkie Pie, practically bouncing from one end of the kitchen to the other as she whipped up yet another batch of candy, some kind of caramel confection from what Sunset could tell.

“We don’t mind at all, darling,” said Rarity, perched by the door to the living room of Pinkie Pie’s quaint suburban home, “I do believe Sunset’s just realizing that it is getting rather late.”

Rarity had pretty much hit the nail on the head. Sunset’s eyes glanced at the nearby digital clock sitting atop the refrigerator, noting the time as well past six in the evening. While she had to admit helping Pinkie taste test candy wasn’t a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon, she did want to get to work on those essays Mr. Cranky had given out in foreign culture’s class. It wasn’t even because she wanted to get the work done fast so she could enjoy her weekend. The assignment genuinely interested her. Sunset Shimmer was used to a world where what humans would consider magical and mythological was very real, yet in the years she’d spent living in the human world she’d become interested in its own mythology. So much of it seemed to overlap with Equestria’s own real world creatures and cultures that it gave her several theories on how the human world might be tied with Equestria by more than just conveniently placed mirror portals.

As it happened Mr. Cranky had assigned an essay based on eastern afterlife belief systems and the corresponding myths surrounding them. Sunset was keen to get started on her research.

“Meh, its not that late, Rares,” said Rainbow Dash, who was lazing about in the living room, sprawled on the couch, one leg casually thrown up over the back of it while she flipped through channels on the television. “Ugh, Pinkie, when are you going to get your parents to grab a streaming service? New season of Daredevil is on, you know! All this thing seems to get is news, news, and more boring news!”

“Hey, I don’t control my parents. And there’s more channels than news. Maud watches Discovery all the time.” Pinkie Pie called from the kitchen, “Anyway Dashie, stop watching tv and help us with the candy! I got a batch of licorice covered caramel drops with your name on them!”

“Licorice covered caramel? Pinkie Pie, you come up with some weird stuff sometimes,” Rainbow Dash said, rolling off the couch and stretching, “Alright, I’ll give ‘em a whirl. News is depressing anyway.”

“Actually, do you mind keeping it on?” asked Twilight Sparkle, who just walked through the front door with Applejack and Fluttershy in tow.

It only took Sunset a second to notice that all three of her newly arrived friends were walking tensely and had nervous twinges in their expressions, and Twilight almost immediately went for the tv remote, flipping through the news channels with an oddly intent look in her eyes. Sunset had known Twilight Sparkle for the shortest amount of time among her relatively newly made friends in the human world, and wasn’t sure what might rattle her this way.

“Did something happen while you guys were at the store?” Sunset asked, stepping into the living room. Beside her Applejack took off her hat and dusted it off, from what looked like... rock dust? In fact now that she was looking all three of the girls that had gone out to shop for more candy ingredients for Pinkie were coated in a light layer of dirt and dust, and Sunset’s eyes widened as she saw that Fluttershy had scraped knees below her skirt.

“Was a' explosion outside the supermarket,” Applejack said, her emerald eyes narrowed in a deep frown, “Downright oddest thing I ever did see.”

“Whoa!” said Rainbow Dash, “Seriously!? Something explodes and I miss it!? Maaaaan!”

At Applejack's raised eyebrow Rainbow Dash had the presence of mind to blink and quickly add, “Y-you guys are okay, though, right?”

“We’re all okay,” said Fluttershy, calmly going to the kitchen and asking Pinkie Pie, “Is it okay if I use your bathroom to clean up and, um, maybe also use some band aids, if you don’t mind?”

“Totally! Totally! Don’t even need to ask! It’s not bad is it?” Pinkie Pie looked as if she was having the energy drained right out of her, seeing her friends shell shocked and one of them injured.

“Yes, darling, are you alright? You look a mess,” said Rarity, halfway to hugging Fluttershy before the other girl just raised a hand, palm out to forestall her.

“I’m okay. Its nothing, really. I just need to sit down for a bit,” was all Fluttershy said before drifting off to the bathroom. Sunset felt a cold feeling in her gut, looking to Twilight.

“What happened, exactly?”

Twilight Sparkle didn’t look away from the tv, which had now reached a news channel that was purely for local events. On the screen Sunset saw an aerial image of a large strip mall, the center piece being a vast supermarket. The white and black forms of police cars and the cherry red of fire engines scattered around the parking lot, along with the brick shape of several ambulances. The headline scrolling across the bottom of the screen read: “Mysterious explosion in downtown shopping area injures 7. Cause unknown, but officials report possibility of gas leak from underground pipes as potential cause.”

“We were just leaving the market when I heard a strange noise,” said Twilight.

“Noise?” Sunset walked up next to her, arms crossed, face turned deathly serious, “What kind of noise?”

Twilight’s eyes shifted over to meet Sunset’s, and she pushed her glasses up, expression a cross between unnerved and fascinated, “I’m not certain. I don’t have a frame of reference for proper description, except maybe... a howl.”

“For the record, neither me nor Fluttershy heard this,” spoke up Applejack, “Not to say yer lyin’ or nothin’ Twilight, just gotta get it out there that whatever ya heard, weren’t something the rest of us picked up on. The explosion, that I heard real good.”

Twilight gave the barest of nods, “Yes, the explosion, if that was what it was.”

“Uhhh, Twilight, how can an explosion be anything other than an explosion?” asked Rainbow, confusion painted across her face, “I mean, those tend to be pretty obvious. KABOOM! Ya know?”

“Ahem, well, yes, and there was a, er, ‘kaboom’, of sorts,” said Twilight, pointing at the tv screen, “You can see it there. About twenty meters into the middle of the parking lot. It was large, and threw dust and dirt across the entire parking lot.”

There was indeed a sizable crater in the middle of the shopping center’s parking lot, with half a dozen parked cars tossed aside or crushed like little plastic toys. Sunset was shocked that the report said only seven people were injured. The crater was large enough that had there been anyone in that area there was little to no chance they’d have survived. It made her shiver, thinking that her friends had come within minutes of death. Had they left the store a little earlier, or if Pinkie Pie had sent them there at a different time and they’d been just arriving when...

Sunset shook herself, pushing aside the dire thoughts.

“Okay, so why do you doubt that it was an explosion, set off by some kind of gas leak like the news is saying?” asked Sunset, keenly curious. Twilight Sparkle, while not the same Twilight Sparkle from the magical realm of ponies that Sunset knew, was every bit as intelligent as her Equestrian counterpart. Sunset had come to respect the human world’s Twilight quite a bit in the short time she’d known her, especially her sharp mind. What was Twilight seeing her that Sunset wasn’t?

“Well, look at it,” said Twilight, gesturing at the crater, “Doesn’t anything about it seem strange to you?”

Sunset narrowed her eyes, taking an unconscious step closer to the television, bending over slightly as she looked closely at the crater. After a moment her eyes snapped wide. Twilight must have noticed her change in expression because she said, “You see it now?”

“Yeah,” Sunset said with quiet contemplation, the gears of her mind already spinning.

“...Well? Don’t leave us waiting in suspense guys, spit it out already!” said Rainbow Dash, tapping her foot impatiently.

“You see the way the concrete and dirt is impacted inward?” Sunset said, pointing to the screen, “And the sewer pipes that are exposed have been bent downward, not ruptured or torn upward?”

By now all of her friends, save for Fluttershy who was still in the bathroom, had gathered around the couch and were looking at the screen. Rarity, eyes keenly examining the scene, tapped her chin with one slim finger in thought, “Why yes, I do believe I see what the two of you are driving at. How odd.”

Applejack and Rainbow Dash exchanged looks, Dash giving a helpless shrug and mouthing ‘eggheads’, while Applejack sighed and said, “Mind cluein’ the rest o’ us in?”

“It means that, technically speaking, this wasn’t an explosion,” said Sunset, “This was an impact. Something hit the parking lot with incredible force, and made that crater. No gas leak, that’s for sure.”

“Sooooo, what? You’re talking like a meteor or something?” Dash asked, face still a prime example of confusion.

“Oh! Oh! I’m calling it as a super secret battle between invisible superheroes!” Pinkie Pie declared, “Or maybe the government is testing invisible weather balloons! Secretly.”

“I don’t think it’s any of those things, Pinkie,” said Twilight, pausing to look up in speculative thought, “At least I think we can consider the superhero angle to be unlikely. I’d also largely rule out a meteorite. While I did hear a howling noise, it wasn’t nearly loud enough to account for an object falling at the kind of velocity it would be moving at if it had passed through the atmosphere. Honestly I have no idea at all what could account for this. Its really puzzling.”

It certainly was. Sunset’s mind turned over the possibilities, coming up with little that would explain such a strange and sudden impact. Nothing she knew of in the human world could be responsible. Did that mean that the impact could have been caused by something not of the human world? Sunset smiled as she felt the fanning flames of interest rise inside her.

Not long ago she’d considered the possibility of returning to Equestria, to the land of magic and mystery that she’d sorely missed, but had stayed because she realized that not only did she have wonderful friends in this world, but there were mysteries of magic to solve here as well. Could this be one of them?

Her smile only deepened as she said, “Well whatever caused that crater, there’s only one way we’re going to find out more. We need to investigate it!”

“Oh my, won’t that be dangerous?” said the timid voice of Fluttershy as she returned to the living room, fresh band aids applied to her knees and her expression one of deep rooted worry.

“I don’t see how,” said Sunset, “Whatever caused the impact isn’t likely to do it again in the same spot. Besides, we’ll be careful. Or I’ll be careful, I guess none of you have to come with me, but I’m checking this out.”

Twilight looked concerned as well, once more pushing her slipping glasses up her nose, “Do you think this has some connection to... to magic?”

There was a slight undercurrent of fear in her voice, like a thin fog dampening Twilight's otherwise enthusiastic mood for discovery. Sunset more than understood. Twilight was filled with the same passion for learning and satisfying curiosity that Sunset was, but only a few months ago, when this world’s Twilight was still a stranger from Crystal Prep, her curiosity towards magic had nearly caused catastrophic damage to both herself and this world. It was only natural for her to still feel afraid of what magic could do. Truthfully Sunset wasn’t inclined to diffuse that fear either. It’d been a hard lesson for her too, learning that one needed a healthy fear and respect for what magic could do, especially when one got a hold of too much of it.

So it was with a reassuring but serious look that she put a hand on Twilight’s shoulder, saying, “It’s a definite possibility. This town seems to have a habit of attracting strange magic. If magic is somehow involved, we’ll have to be triple careful and watch each other’s backs, right?”

Twilight glanced at Sunset’s hand, then took a deep breath, managing a small smile, “Right. I guess as one of the few people in town who know about magic it’s our responsibility to check out any possible magical events. If it is dangerous, there isn’t anyone other than us who could do anything about it.”

“Sweet,” said Rainbow Dash, finally looking pumped up rather than confused by the proceedings, “We’ll have to wait ‘till it gets dark and sneak in, but I’m totally down for something exciting to happen around here.”

Applejack gave her a sidelong glance, “What, the giant plants tryin’ to eat you weren’t ‘nough excitement fer one year?”

“No way!” shot back Dash, grinning, “That was cool for that month, but I’m getting bored. Magical investigations admittedly don’t sound that exciting, but maybe it’ll lead to something cool happening.”

“Ahem, as much as this all sounds lovely,” said Rarity, “Crawling around in a big hole in the ground doesn’t sound like my particular cup of tea, so I hope you girls don’t object if I sit this spelunking adventure out?”

“To be fair I don’t really want to go back there, either,” said Fluttershy, shivering, rubbing her arms, “I don’t have a good feeling about all of this.”

“No worries,” said Sunset, “The fewer of us there are the easier it will be to get in and out without being spotted.”

Twilight frowned, “That’s true, the police will probably have the area blocked off.”

“Only with yellow tape. I doubt they’ll keep anyone posted out there all night,” said Sunset, “Lucky us it's a Friday, so we can afford to pull an all nighter if we got to. Shouldn’t take us too long to give the crater a good look for anything unusual.”

“Hmph, ain’t too fond o’ the idea of doin’ something that ain’t strictly legal,” said Applejack, adjusting her stetson with a small grimace, “But sits worse with me ta let y’all go without me. Guess I’m in.”

“Me too!” said Pinkie, almost bouncing off the walls, “We can do candy stuff later- ugh, did I just say that? Oh well, magic sleuthing away!”

As erratic as Pinkie Pie could be Sunset had zero objections to the chronic party girl coming along. Pinkie could sometimes notice things that the most analytical and intelligent of minds would miss, simply because she was, well, Pinkie.

“Seems like we’ve got a plan,” she said, the essays she’d been eager to work on for the moment forgotten with the promise of a new mystery possibly involving real magic in front of her, “We wait until night, and then we see what we can find.”


The streets of the city were lively even as night fell, the warmth of spring keeping the air pleasant well after the sun sank behind the mountains to the west. Street lights kept the area well lit, and on one such street light on the border between the suburbs and the downtown center a figure in black stood. The figure went unseen by those passing on the sidewalk underneath, its black robes fluttering slightly in the spring breeze.

The figure was that of a young woman, skin pale gray, hair a short cut dark green. The robes she wore were loose and held up with a white sash. Through that sash a curved blade was sheathed, which she kept one hand on as leafy green eyes scanned the surrounding suburbs.

After a moment she let out a sharp sigh, “Tch, still laying low. How long are you going to hide? I’m not letting you get away.”

Paying no mind at all to the people on the streets, as if they weren’t even there, the girl jumped from the street lamp. Rather than fall downwards, her feet, which were clad in distinctive socks and sandals of an eastern style, seemed to land upon the very air itself and push off of it, catapulting the girl a great height and distance across the suburbs.

Not once did anyone seem to take notice of this lone, dark figure crossing the sky. Even when the occasional person did look up, it was as if the girl passing overhead was entirely invisible.


With the sun fallen the parking lot was blemished by shadows of deep blue and shifting black. It was late enough that the stores of the strip mall had their doors closed, the lights off, and even the grocery story, open the latest, had just went dark for the night. The parking lot was almost entirely empty, save for one or two scattered cars of late night janitors or similar workers.

Sunset Shimmer saw the crater like a pool of black ink in the middle of the parking lot, its boundary surrounded by a series of tall orange cones that anchored bands of yellow police tape stretching around the crater’s perimeter. As she’d suspected there was no sign of police around. No need to guard a hole in the ground, just set up the barrier and assume most smart people won’t wander into it.

Hmm, what does that make us, then? she thought sardonically, cracking a wry smile.

“Okie dokie, looks like the coast is clear,” said Pinkie Pie, hands circled around her eyes like imaginary binoculars, “Hmm, you ever wonder what coast they’re talking about? We’re an inland city.”

“Not now Pinks,” said Rainbow Dash, who’d switched out her casual clothes for a set of dark jeans and long sleeved shirt, somehow having acquired face paint to put dark marks underneath her eyes. The black beanie really completed the ‘out to do nefarious things’ look. Sunset rolled her eyes.

“Let’s just get in there. Everyone ready?” she asked.

Applejack gave a thumbs up, and Twilight Sparkle just smiled sheepishly, nodding her head. Pinkie Pie’s head bobbed in a vigorous nod. Rainbow Dash just slid out of the bushes they’d been hiding in alongside the edge of the parking lot, saying, “Ready at conception.”

Sunset blanched at the involuntary mental image, “Ew.”

Rainbow Dash just snickered and the group swiftly exited the bushes and crossed the parking lot in a few quick strides. Ducking the police tape the girls reached the edge of the crater, looking down at its murky depths. Taking a final glance around to make sure no one was looking, Sunset pulled out a flashlight, “I’ll go first and make sure to find a safe way down.”

There was no argument from her friends and soon Sunset was gingerly making her way down the admittedly steep crater slope with a small pocket flashlight guiding the way. Chunks of broken concrete made for either solid stepping stones or precarious dangers to be avoided, depending on their stability, but Sunset managed to find her way to the bottom of the crater without much trouble. She turned around to light the path for her friends to follow her, and before long all four of them were standing amid the dirt and rubble strewn around the crater’s bottom.

“Alright, so we’re here,” said Applejack, slowly shifting her own flashlight around, “What’re we lookin’ for?”

Twilight Sparkle reached into a shoulder bag she’d brought along and brought out a device that Sunset noticed looked a lot like the one she’d seen the girl using when she’d first come to Canterlot High, investigating strange magical signatures that just happened to correspond to Sunset, her friends, and the portal that linked this world with Equestria.

“Is that what I think it is?” she asked, if only because she was curious if the device had any other functions besides scanning magic, and to be honest she was curious how it did that too. She hadn’t had much opportunity to really inquire with Twilight about her knowledge of various scientific devices, what with just finishing up the school year and focusing on getting Twilight situated after her transfer from Crystal Prep.

“Oh, um, yes?” Twilight blushed as she held the device up and adjusted a few knobs on it, causing the antenna on either side of the block shaped device to wiggle up and down, “This is calibrated to detect energy waves on a spectrum correlating to magical emanations. Of course I didn’t know the energy was magic when I first designed this to detect it. Since then I’ve adjusted it to be more accurate and pin point for locating magical signatures, and added a few extra wave frequencies to try and search for other unusual energy signatures. You wouldn’t believe how much trouble I went through to get the crystals I needed to-”

“Yeah, yeah, cool science thing finds magic stuff,” said Rainbow Dash, already halfway across the crater and digging at a pile of concrete rubble, “You got the tech end of things locked down. That PKE meter goes beep boop you just point us to where and we’ll get to poking.”

Twilight nodded, turning her full attention to the readings from her device. Meanwhile Applejack and Pinkie Pie went off one direction, leaving Sunset to wander towards another edge of the crater. She swung her flashlight from left to right, not really expecting to see anything immediately. If there was a strange magical event that had occurred here she imagined any clues to it would be small, residual, and difficult to spot.

Not at all like that sword sticking out of the ground right over there.


Sunset did a double take.

“Oh hey!” Twilight exclaimed happily, “I already have a reading!”

“Let me guess,” Sunset said, pointing, “Its coming from right over here?”

“Why, yes! Um, how did you know?” Twilight asked as she walked up, eyes shifting between her devices’ readout and the spot where Sunset was pointing her flashlight. Strangely, Twilight didn’t seem to notice the sword, even though it was right there in the open. It was a curved blade connected to a plain hilt wrapped in black cloth, and a simple round guard. Sunset blinked as Twilight's eyes swept right over the blade without reaction.

“You don’t see it?”

“See what?” Twilight asked, tilting her head.

“Y’all find something over there?” called Applejack.

“Yes... I think,” said Sunset, her confusion mounting as she approached the sword. It was stuck in a concrete slab, blade first, which struck Sunset as very unusual. In Equestria there might be enchanted blades that could pierce stone, but the mundane metals of the human world? Perhaps a few might be strong enough, but not common steel. Unless this wasn’t a common, mundane sword.

She gulped, resisting an urge to reach out and touch the hilt of the blade. She instead looked back at Twilight just as the rest of her friends congregated around her. She lifted her other hand and pointed at the sword, “Do none of you see this?”

“See what, sugarcube?” asked Applejack.

“Yeah, you’re just pointing at thin air,” said Dash.

“Is it a ghost? It's a ghost isn't it!?” Pinkie Pie looked more excited than scared.

“I am getting an energy reading from that location,” said Twilight, voice filled with fascination as she approached and ran her device around the area the sword was in, “But there’s no physical presence. What are you seeing?”

“It's a sword,” Sunset said, recalling her eastern cultures study, “A katana I think.”

“Whoa! Awesome!” said Rainbow Dash, “Try to pick it up!”

“Wait!” snapped Twilight, unease in her voice, “We should take this slowly and carefully. Messing with unknown magic is... is dangerous.” Her eyes grew sad for a moment before switching back to determined focus as she held up her device. “Just give me a minute to analyze these readings before we do anything hasty.”

Rainbow Dash looked like she wanted to argue for a second, but at seeing Twilight’s look she just conceded with a small nod, “Okay, you eggheads do your thing. Still, this is pretty cool, right? What’s a weird invisible magic sword doing in this crater?”

“Maybe it's what fell out of the sky, all swisssssh, SLAM!” said Pinkie Pie.

“More wonderin’ why Sunset here is seein’ it but we ain’t,” said Applejack, scratching at her head.

Sunset was wondering the exact same thing, and was both unnerved and a bit excited by it. What was this sword? Where did it come from? And... why did she keep feeling a strange compulsion to reach out and grasp it? She suppressed the feeling, standing up from where she’d been kneeling to look more closely at the weapon, and dusted her knees off.

“Well, whatever it is, we’ll do what Twilight says and take this slow. The night is young, so Twilight can take some time to examine the sword, then we’ll decide what to do about it. No rush.”


“Now are you certain you’re going to be alright, darling?” asked Rarity with a serious air of concern. She and Fluttershy had just reached the intersection of streets where their respective home would be in opposite directions, and while the streets were well lit Rarity could not quite shake a feeling of distinct unease as she looked down the street at the darker patches of shadow that clutched between alleyways and back lawns. It rather felt like being watched.

“I’ll be just fine, Rarity, don’t worry,” said Fluttershy sweetly, offering her friend a comforting smile, “Thank you for walking me this far.”

“Of course, of course. I wouldn’t mind walking you all the way to your door if you wanted. My home isn’t too far, really, and one can never have enough aerobic exercise,” Rarity said, looking for any off handed excuse to stick close to Fluttershy, if for no other reason than because of that continuing sense that they were being watched by... by what?

Fluttershy must have picked up on her unease because the other girl’s face turned worried, “It's alright Rarity, really. Um, it is alright, isn’t it? Is something the matter?”

Rarity realized she’d been suspiciously looking around, casting fearful glances left and right at any given shadow. She rubbed her arms as if to ward off a chill. What was with this feeling? It was like having little icy needles pricking at the base of her neck, and it was only getting stronger! Rarity felt like every little nerve in her spine was screaming at her to grab Fluttershy and just run.

“I, I don’t know, darling. I just feel a scoach uneasy, is all. Perhaps I really should walk you the rest of the way...home?” she trailed off, eyes widening as she looked up and behind her. Fluttershy’s eyes went wide as well, her mouth opening agape in horror.


Behind the girls, directly behind Rarity, was... something. Rarity couldn’t fully make out its shape because it appeared as if it was little more than a bulky haze in the faintest shape of something humanoid and massive, easily twice the height of either girl. Rarity couldn’t make out a face, but she could see the most faint, blurry outline of a bulky body and long gorilla-like arms. It clearly wasn’t human. Another creature from Equestria? But there weren’t supposed to be any more random portals!

Whatever the thing was, it saw them, and stepped forward, and Rarity then heard a sound that sent an arctic chill down to her very soul. A horrific, hungry, murderous howl that made both girls clap hands over their ears. At the same moment Rarity felt a bizarre sense of pressure on her body, as if the air itself had just become thick and heavy, pressing down on her. She almost fell to her knees, but the sight of Fluttershy’s terrified face created a spark of defiance that forced Rarity to keep her footing, and with pure instinct guiding her she grabbed Fluttershy by the hand and immediately began to run.

“Wh-wh-what is that!?” Fluttershy gasped as they tore down the sidewalk at nearly a full sprint.

Rarity, not looking back, shook her head, “I don’t believe we want to know! Just run! Fast as you can, darling!”


The figure stood atop a house, her face shadowed by a frustrated frown.

“Where is it!? I can feel its spiritual pressure! Blast it all, is it going after living people too?”

The girl in black touched the blade sheathed at her side and drew it, her eyes scanning the suburbs with growing desperation, “Can’t let it get anyone else. Hurry it up, Clover, you can’t fail again!”

Once more the girl in black was off, leaping into the night, sword in hand.


It felt as if for every minute that passed that Sunset Shimmer’s nerves became more tense. The night air had gained a chill to it that made her close up her black leather jacket against the breeze and start pacing. Twilight Sparkle still knelt in front of the spot where the blade only Sunset could see was, having pulled out a small tablet device and hooked it to her magical scanner.

“Well Twi? Ya got anythin’ yet?” asked Applejack pensively, perhaps sensing the uneasy mood in the air.

Twilight adjusted her glasses, making a few taps on the tablet that she then held up for the other girls to see, “After testing out several different wavelengths for detecting metaphysical particles based on my admittedly limited understanding of the effects of magic on things such as thermal signatures, air density, electromagnetic fields, and...” she blinked at the blank stares of most gathered, save for Sunset who just looked anxious, “Well, in layman’s terms, I got the scanner to detect the sword.”

“So you can tell it’s there?” asked Sunset, stepping forward eagerly. Twilight flinched slightly at Sunset’s sudden closeness, but held up her tablet and pointed out the part of the screen that was displaying what appeared to be the crater, but everything was cloaked in blue save for several bright points of multi colored light. Four of those points were moving and shaped vaguely like people. Sunset recognized herself and her friends, their forms a collection of red, orange, and green hues of various shifting patterns.

“That’s us,” she said, “Are those our actual magical fields you’re detecting?”

“Yes, more or less. It's more accurate to say the device is detecting the changes to multiple more mundane aspects such as body heat, your bio-electric field, and the movement of air particles around you and translates that into relevant magical signatures based on what I’ve learned of how magic affects the body and the immediate atmosphere around the source of the magic but basically yes. And as you can see, the sword is there too.”

“Whoa! It really is a sword, sweet!” said Rainbow, crowding in to look at the screen. Sunset could make out the shape of the blade on the screen, though much like herself and her friends the form was indistinct and made up of bright hues of red and orange, rimmed with green.

“So, y’all thinkin’ this here pigsticker s’what caused the crater?” asked Applejack.

“It’s still too early to speculate,” said Twilight, rubbing her chin between a thumb and forefinger with an intent look of thought flashing through her eyes. Sunset wanted to ask what Twilight might be considering, but didn’t want to interrupt the other girl’s train of thought. Best to let Twilight’s mind do its thing.

After a few seconds Twilight said, “I think that I need to return to my lab. I don’t want to risk any of you trying to move the sword on your own. Give me a day and I can make something to possibly contain the sword for safe transport back to the school. Then I can take my time studying it in a controlled environment.”

Sunset felt a twinge of disappointment, as if some part of her just wanted to snatch up the sword then and there, but she shook off the strange feeling and gave Twilight a nod of agreement, “Sounds like a plan to me. Let’s get out of here then.”

Just as she finished speaking, however, Pinkie Pie nearly jumped three feet in the air, her whole body shaking like a miniature tremor, ending with her puffy pink hair twitching akin to a pile of Jell-O.

“Woooooo! Wowzie zowie! That was a doozie,” Pinkie Pie said, pupils shrinking to pin pricks, and her voice suddenly turning strained, “A real scary doozie. Rarity and Fluttershy are in trouble!”

The other girls all blinked at Pinkie Pie, but only for a moment, for all of them were familiar with Pinkie Pies rather unusual “Pinkie Sense” that allowed her to at times predict things, if only seemingly at complete random. Even Twilight Sparkle, who had the least experience in dealing with Pinkie Pie, didn’t look too inclined to doubt. Sunset recalled a brief event not too long after Twilight transferred to Canterlot High where Twilight had tried to study Pinkie Sense and had been left confounded for the entire week. Sunset sympathized, wishing she understood just how Pinkie Sense worked, too. Her own theory was that it was some kind of latent magic unique to the human world, but had no real evidence to back it up other than that she’d never known a pony to have random future predicting seizures... actually now that Sunset thought about it she ought to ask the Twilight Sparkle of Equestria if the Pinkie Pie over there had the same ability.

“If they’re in trouble then what are we waiting for!? Let’s go find them!” Rainbow Dash said, already scrambling up out of the crater with her usual athletic ease. Applejack wasn’t far behind her as she dug out a cell phone.

“I’ll give Rares a ring an’ find out where she an’ Fluttershy are at!”

Pinkie Pie jumped after them while Twilight Sparkle quickly retrieved her scanner and put both it and her tablet away in the book bag she’d brought. She gave Sunset a worried look, to which Sunset nodded up the crater, “Go, I’ll be right behind you.”

Pulling out a flashlight to illuminate her way Twilight began to ascend as well, and Sunset took a step to follow, then paused. Almost without thinking she looked back towards the sword, sitting there gleaming in the moonlight. She knew Twilight was right, that it was safer to wait until there was a way to bring it back to the lab at Canterlot High. In that instant she felt an intense sense of foreboding, but it wasn’t fear of the sword, rather it was a sense that she would need the sword before the night was out.

That’s crazy. I’m not Pinkie Pie. I don’t get premonitions, she thought, trying to force some logic into the situation. Twilight was nearly to the top of the crater and she could hear Rainbow Dash calling for them to hurry up.

Well, she could apologize to Twilight later for going off plan. Without further hesitation Sunset Shimmer put her hand around the hilt of the sword and with remarkable ease pulled it free of the rubble. It felt solid as any normal physical object and had a comfortable grip that made the blade feel as if it belonged in her hand. Without even realizing it Sunset was grinning to herself as she turned and rapidly climbed up the crater to join her friends.

Rainbow Dash was already halfway out of the parking lot, with Applejack not far behind dialing into her cell phone. Twilight and Pinkie Pie had waited for Sunset and with an awkward wave with her free hand, realizing neither other girl could see the sword in her hand, they all took off running.


Rarity tore down another street turn, Fluttershy’s hand still gripped firmly in her own. Her lungs were ragged with heavy breathing and her legs burning worse than her most extensive aerobic workout. Sweat cooled in icy trails down her neck and back as she ran. Beside her she could hear Fluttershy panting between sobs.

“J-just keep running! We’ve probably lost it by now,” she said, but her words were punctuated by a spine freezing howl, one that caused her to involuntarily look back.

The air shimmered with the huge bulk of the partly invisible beast that hounded them, stalking around the street corner. Rarity saw one of its hazy limbs grip a wooden electrical post as it turned the corner and to her shock saw a massive set of claw marks tear into the wood as the creature burst after them in a looping run that put it on all fours.

Rarity gulped and redoubled her speed, or at least tried to. Her fear choked mind considered briefly banging on any number of the front doors of local homes they ran by, but all that would do is put other people needlessly in danger. Screaming for help was a consideration, but she barely had breath to talk...her cell phone!

Reaching for the device as she ran, fully intending to call the police, she was shocked to find the phone already ringing as she brought it up, a upbeat country song playing as the screen displayed a smiling picture of Applejack. Rarity answered without hesitation and didn’t let Applejack so much as get a word out before shouting, “Monster chasing us! Need help now! Currently on 7th Pine Avenue! Will meet at the park between here and the mall, the one with the old golf course! HURRY!”

She held on just long enough to hear Applejack say, “Ya got it hun, just hang in there! We’re a’ comin’!”

“W-we’re going to the park!?” Fluttershy breathed, “But it’s dark there, and there’s nowhere to hide!”

“It’ll be okay, darling! It’s the closest spot between us and where the girls are! We’ll meet them in the parking lot and...” she trailed off. There really wasn’t a plan beyond ‘keep running’ but perhaps one of the other girls would have a better plan. A magical friendship beam would not go remiss.

The creature howled behind them, sounding closer than ever, and Rarity’s whole body wanted to shiver as if bathing in a winter lake, but she forced herself to keep running, and didn’t dare let go of Fluttershy’s hand.


The howl carried over the rooftops of the quiet little suburb. People going about their evenings, eating dinner or watching television, didn’t hear a thing even though the howl echoed like a clarion bell to those that could hear such things.

The girl in black halted in mid air, her sandal clad feet skidding in thin air as she stood upon nothing, eyes sharply looking down towards a distant park.

“There you are!”

She all but vanished as she exploded into motion, rocketing towards the park and the howling of her prey.


The parking lot to Whitetail Park was completely empty, but exceedingly well lit, which Rarity was grateful for. The light pooled across the pavement like a welcome blanket. There was no gate to the park, just a plain stone, waist high wall split by an open hard packed dirt path that led into short rolling hills dotted by tall trees. On a bright sunny day Whitetail Park was a prime spot for families to picnic and friends to play catch, with the old golf course across the scattering of woods being where many people practiced their game for the larger courses on the other side of town.

Much as Fluttershy had said there wasn’t a lot of places to find cover or hide from their pursuer, but Rarity wasn’t interested in hiding. She had an instinctive feeling that this thing would be able to sniff her and Fluttershy out no matter where they hid. No, she’d chosen here because it was secluded, away from any homes where innocent bystanders might see or get caught up in what was happening. That and it was about the right spot to meet the other girls, if Rarity had timed it all right in her head.

She didn’t see them yet, but she had to believe they were almost here. Until then she and Fluttershy would have to keep running. There wasn’t any other choice, yet her and Fluttershy were flagging in their steps, the breakneck flight finally pushing the girls to their physical limits. Rarity could tell that despite her best efforts she wasn’t covering ground as fast as she had been just minutes before.

Gasping for air and pushing onward Rarity focused on the opposite side of the parking lot, unwilling to risk looking back, even as she heard the creature’s howl what felt like mere paces behind her.

Suddenly an incredible force struck her from behind, like being rammed by a car. Pain exploded across her back as the world spun and Rarity lost her breath as she hit the pavement hard, rolling several times before stopping in a moaning heap. Gritting her teeth, trying not to scream out from the dozen or so painful aches over her body, Rarity opened her wincing eyes to see that Fluttershy too had been thrown about, tossed so that the two girls were now separated by ten or so yards.

Between them stood the hazy shape of the monster that had been chasing them. Rarity blinked as she realized that she was seeing it more clearly now, its outline more distinct. Definitely bipedal, with long arms tipped in four huge claws, the creature had a head shaped oddly, like a half melted waxen mask. Despite its translucent form Rarity could almost make out a pair of yellow glowing eyes within the mask-like shape of its face as it turned to look between her and Fluttershy, as if it was trying to decide which girl was worth snacking on first.

Without needing to think about it Rarity clenched her teeth and ignoring the pain lancing her body she forced herself to her feet, shouting, “Over here you big brute! You want a tasty, beautiful damsel to join you for dinner, then here she is!”

As she waved her arms to get the creature’s attention she shot Fluttershy a look that she hoped conveyed the word ‘Run!’ quite thoroughly. Unfortunately Fluttershy looked near frozen in place, eyes wider than the moon itself as she stared at the beast. Rarity was ready to scream for Fluttershy to run for it, but had no time as her distraction worked all too well and the hazy shape of the monster leaped at her, arms outstretched.

Rarity was hardly an athletic girl, but she wasn’t without some grace. She’d taken a few courses in self defense martial arts, and while short of a black belt she knew how to move to protect herself. As such managed to throw herself to the side, narrowly avoiding invisible claws that dug furrows in the concrete where she’d just been standing. Her body protested the move with bouts of pain shooting up and down her limbs, but she managed to hop back to her feet just in time to begin running again, leading the monster away from Fluttershy.

Rarity only got a few steps, however, before the creature, with a piercing howl, jumped dozens of feet in an arc that landed it right in front of Rarity, forcing her to stumble and lose her footing. Rarity hit the ground hard on her rear, looking up at a pair of piercing yellow eyes that were filled with unnatural hunger. She thought she saw a mouth opening amid the indistinct haze of the creature’s form, a mouth wide enough to swallow her head whole, and Rarity knew in that moment there was nothing she could do to escape a messy fate. She only hoped Fluttershy could get away, or that her friends could find a way to deal with this beast... and that her body didn’t end up looking too dreadful.

Then there was a flicker of a dark shape across her vision and a flash of steel, followed by the beast howling, not in hunger, but pain as it reared away from Rarity, clutching at its face. Rarity blinked several times rapid fire, unsure of what had just happened, but she then saw that standing before her was a new hazy shape. It was much smaller than the beast, more akin to Rarity in size, and strangely as Rarity looked at it, for every second that passed, the haze seemed to lift and the form resolved into something clearer; a girl.

A girl wearing an exceedingly bland and unbecoming black robe that just screamed for some color. Rarity saw the girl’s light gray skin, wavy green shoulder length hair, and sharp green eyes, and instantly wanted to drag the girl home to whip up something for her to wear that wasn’t black. Just not her color. Oh, wait, horrible monster still trying to kill her, no time for dresses!

“W-who are you?” she asked, clambering to her feet. She noticed the girl in black was carrying a sword in her right hand, a long curved blade with a star-shaped crossguard and wrapped in dark green cloth.

The girl looked at Rarity for a moment in clear surprise, speaking in an airy voice, “Wait, you can see me? But nobody should be able to- ah, nevermind that, just get out of here!”

The creature, which Rarity was able to see more clearly now as well, was recovering from its wound, a gash across its face that dripped dark brackish blood. That face was covered by a white bone-like mask the reminded Rarity of a boar’s skull, and the creature’s body was now resolved into a thick, reddish brown mass of muscle. Most strangely of all was the hole in its chest, a perfectly shaped round hole that seemed to go straight through the creature, leaving only inky blackness between.

“Rarity! Fluttershy!”

Rarity turned her head to see that Rainbow Dash was springing ahead of Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Twilight, and Sunset as they all arrived at the parking lot. As relieved as she was to see them she didn’t have time to do more than wave before the creature with a ragged howl charged forward, causing Rarity to tense, ready to dodge. However the girl in black stood her ground and as the beast balled up a fist and smashed it towards her she intercepted the blow with her sword. It seemed unlikely such a slip of a girl could stand up to a brute over twice her size but to Rarity’s surprise the girl absorbed the blow, only skidding back a foot before digging her heels in, her sword cutting into the knuckles of the monster. The girl's’ body shook from the strain, however, and Rarity heard her gasp out, “Better run fast. I can only hold it off so long!”

Feeling wrong about leaving the girl behind but knowing that she couldn’t do anything to help without her friends, Rarity just said, “Be careful, miss!” before turning to rush towards Fluttershy and the others.


Sunset felt relief wash over her for just an instant as she saw that both Rarity and Fluttershy were safe, or at least not more harmed than she’d feared as they’d run across town after Applejack had finished her call, in which Rarity had made it clear that some kind of monster was chasing them.

And monster certainly fit the description. Sunset Shimmer had seen numerous fantastic creatures while living in Equestria, but nothing that compared to the bizarre being that had been chasing her friends. The mask, the strange hole in the chest, not to mention that horrifically unpleasant howl, Sunset couldn’t think of any beast from Equestria that was remotely similar. Just the sight of it filled her with a cold apprehension, and at the same time a spark of instinctive desire to bury the blade in her hand straight through the creature’s mask, causing her hand to clench around the hilt all the tighter.

She also saw a strange girl in black who was facing off with the masked creature, and Sunset’s keen eyes quickly noted the girl was carrying a sword not unlike the one Sunset had picked up. There was clearly a connection, but there was no time for asking questions as Rainbow Dash had rushed to Fluttershy’s side, helping the terrified girl to her feet while Rarity, who was battered and bruised, stumbled up to them.

“Glad you could make it, girls,” Rarity said breathlessly, “I don’t suppose any of you happen to have a spare tank on hand, do you?”

“Tanks at home,” said Rainbow Dash, looking Fluttershy over, “You okay Fluttershy?”

“I...I...” Fluttershy seemed barely able to get out any words, only managing a full sentence after taking a few deep breaths, “I’m not badly hurt.”

“Well where's the beastie that’s chasin’ ya’ll?” Applejack asked, looking around with her hands balled up into fists, ready for a brawl, but not looking at the actual creature or the girl fighting it, “I’m rarin' ta give it a smack upside the head!”

Both Sunset and Rarity looked at Applejack, nearly speaking at the same time.

“You can’t see it!?”

“Its right over there, darling!”

“Huh?” Applejack’s face twisted up in confusion as she looked to where Rarity was pointing, where the girl in black was finally forced back by several heavy handed haymaker swings from the masked beast. But Applejack didn't react as if she saw any of it. She just looked back at Sunset and Rarity with clear bewilderment, “I ain’t seein’ a darn thing.”

Rainbow Dash frowned, “I can’t see anything either!”

“Oh, there’s something there all right,” said Twilight, who’d taken out her scanner again and was staring at its readouts with a face paling to a lighter purple sheen, “And whatever it is, it’s big!”

“You sure? I can’t see a dang-” Rainbow Dash began, but was cut short as the creature, pursuing the girl in black, smashed down with both its fists. The girl side stepped quickly, avoiding the blow, but the impact of the beast’s fits on the pavement created an impact that shook the ground and threw up a cluster of broken concrete and dirt.

“Whoa!” Rainbow Dash stared with wide eyes, “Okay! Totally something there!”

“There’s something else there too, but I can’t get a clear reading on it,” said Twilight, frowning.

“It must be the girl,” Rarity said, “There's a girl in a very boring and unbecoming black robe fighting the creature. We have to help her!”

“Ain’t arguin’ that, but how we gonna fight somethin’ we can’t even see?” asked Applejack, all but vibrating from pent up frustration.

“I can see it,” said Sunset grimly, “And so can Rarity. We’ll help the girl, the rest of you get to safety.”

“Oh no, not a chance Sunset!” said Rainbow Dash with firm resolve, “Even if I can’t see it I’m kicking this jerk's butt for hurting Fluttershy and Rarity!”

“Same here,” said Applejack, “Twi can point this critter out an’ we’ll smack it good, together, ya here?”

Sunset sighed, but nodded with a hapless smile, “Right, together then. Twilight?”

She looked to Twilight, who was now giving Sunset a strange look, pointing the scanner her way. Sunset felt her face flush as she realized Twilight must just be now noticing the sword that Sunset had taken. Twilight didn’t say anything however, just communicated a reserved worry as she turned the scanner back towards the monster. “It's about twenty three paces ahead at a thirty degree angle to the right, chasing the other energy signature. If you’re going to go after it, go now!”

“Wheee, ghostbusting time!” shouted Pinkie Pie, joining the line of girls about the charge forward, only leaving Fluttershy to stay by Twilight as the pair hung back.

The girls exchanged looks, all going on an unsaid signal to begin rushing towards the monstrous creature. Sunset and Rarity led the way, guiding the three who couldn’t see the beast clearly. As they closed Sunset gasped as she saw the girl in black take a heavy blow from a clubbing arm and was sent sprawling to the ground.

“Ugh! Blasted Hollow,” the girl grunted as she stood back up, brandishing her sword.

Hollow? Was that what the creature was called? Sunset mentally filed that bit of information away for later reference while she charged in. While not really experienced with weapons Sunset had taken a fencing class or two, both in Equestria when she’d been a magical unicorn pony, and here in the human world after gaining a bipedal form with hands and opposable thumbs. She knew enough not to hold the sword like it was a baseball bat and instead in a looser grip.

Before the girl in black could re engage the “Hollow” Sunset was slashing at its legs, followed by Rarity slipping in behind it and kicked at the back of the Hollow’s knee. At the same time Applejack and Rainbow Dash, using Sunset and Rarity’s actions as a means of guess the Hollow’s position, tried tackling its legs. Pinkie Pie had in the meantime somehow produced a set of water balloons between her hands and threw them with remarkable accuracy.

Sunset’s slash cut shallowly along the Hollow’s leg, feeling like trying to hew into stone rather than flesh. Rarity’s kick mostly bounced off, leaving the girl hopping about while holding her foot with a rueful look on her face. The water balloons from Pinkie Pie just splashed harmlessly on the Hollow’s face, though this seemed to distract it as Applejack and Rainbow Dash’s combined weight slamming into the leg Sunset had slashed threw it off balance for a moment.

The girl in black, mouth agape and eyes staring widely, shook her head and regained her senses enough to take advantage of the Hollow’s opening and rushed in, chopping at its face mask with a sweeping arc that reflected the street lights like a series of small sparks. However the Hollow raised an arm to block, taking the blade deeply into its flesh in a spurt of dark blood, and also keeping the sword stuck in there as it rose and turned its full attention on the girl in black.

“Uh-oh,” the girl said, tugging at her sword in a vain attempt to try and free it, but the Hollow reached out with its other arm, clamping down its hand around the girl’s waist and lifting her up above its head. Sunset could only watched in shock as the Hollow slammed the girl down, hard, straight into the parking lot pavement in a crushing impact that indented the girl into the ground.

Rarity gasped, eyes filled with horror at the injured girl, who was twitching but not rising as blood coated the ground around her.

“Look out!” came Twilight’s distant yell, a moment too late to help the distracted girls who’d been thrown off by seeing the girl in black get injured. The Hollow spun about, lashing out with its arms all around, and Sunset felt the impact as she and her friends were tossed aside like little plastic dolls.

Sunset ended up flat on her back, air knocked out of her, Pinkie Pie groaning on her side just a few feet away.

“Oooowww,” Pinkie Pie said, snapping up into a sitting position with her eyes swirling, “That was super meanie pants of Mr. Monster. Oh, feel like I’m gonna hurl. Just aim me at the big baddie and I’ll give him the Taco Tuesday Special!”

“It’s Friday, Pinkie!” Sunset said, getting to her feet, hand still clasped around her sword.

“Oh right! So Friday Chili Surprise, urp!” Pinkie Pie looked like she was turning green, and Sunset hoped she hadn’t hit her head too hard. Concussions were no laughing matter. It was then Sunset realized that this monster, this Hollow, was playing for keeps. It wasn’t going to take it easy on anyone, and any one of her friends might die if it wasn’t stopped.

The other girls were slowly getting to their feet as well, bruised from being tossed around, with Rainbow Dash sporting a cut on her brow that was sending a trickle of blood down her blue features. Meanwhile Twilight, eyes flicking rapidly between them and her scanner, shouted, “It's coming Sunset! It’s coming for you!”

“I can see that!” she shouted back, blinking blearily as the Hollow, focusing upon her, began to stomp in her direction.

What do I do? I can’t beat it, but if I run there’s no one to even slow this thing down as it butchers my friends! I have to do something! I have to-

Before she knew it she felt heat blossoming inside her, a feeling of warmth that seeped through her chest, into her arms that shakily held the sword in front of her, and then seemed to pour into the sword itself. To Sunset’s eyes it was as if a faint, flickering aura of fire was rolling along her arms and saturating the sword.

She felt her heartbeat steadying, her stance firming. She didn’t know what was happening, but she did know one thing; she could stop this monster from hurting her friends.

Confidently, Sunset took a step forward to meet the Hollow.


Feeling as if she was swimming through mud Clover felt herself regain consciousness, her head aching like it was caught in a red hot vice. Stifling a groan she reached out, feeling for her sword, her Zanpaktou, and felt its hilt in her hand. She ignored the blood coating her face from a nasty head wound after the Hollow had slammed her down and forced her body upright.

She saw the Hollow in front of her, its back to her as it stomped towards one of the human girls who had miraculously come out of nowhere to fight the Hollow. Clover didn’t know how any of them could see the Hollow, but those questions could wait, she had to... wait what?

Her eyes locked on one of the human girls, a bright orange youth with hair like fire that stood before the oncoming Hollow holding...

An Asauchi!? Where did she get one!?

It was nothing more than a training blade, carried by the squad of recruits Clover had been overseeing, and it was unlikely the Asauchi could do more than scratch the Hollow, unlike a full Zanpaktou. Despite that the girl with the fiery hair didn’t seem daunted at all, and as Clover watched she saw what looked like small flames flickering along the girl’s arms and into the Asauchi. This accompanied a feeling of pressure that was unmistakable.

This spiritual pressure isn’t coming from the Hollow! It’s the girl! But she’s just a human. How can she be pouring spirit energy like that into the Asauchi? Only trained graduates from the Academy should be able to.

Regardless of the impossibility of what she was seeing Clover still couldn’t let a innocent human battle a Hollow. Her duty as a Soul Reaper wouldn’t allow her to stay down! She hadn’t wanted to release her Zanpaktou if she could help it, as it might attract more Hollows, but she didn’t see any choice. She held her Zanpaktou before her, putting a hand on the flat end of the blade.

Before she could speak the release phrase, however, a wave of nausea overcame her. It seemed her head wound worse than she expected, the roiling pain in her head making the whole world spin. She fell to one knee, darkness creeping in around the edges of her vision, and she barely kept conscious as she leaned against her sword.

Blast it! I...I have to...help...

But it didn’t look like it was needed. To Clover what she saw next, knowing or unknowing, would change every life in that parking lot for that night and every night to come.


Sunset was filled with the heat until it felt like her bones were melting inside her, but she kept stepping forward. The Hollow howled in hunger and rage, leaning over her as it opened its mouth wide to try and bite her in two.

Sunset held her sword in both hands, widening her stance. She wasn’t looking at the sword, yet somehow know it was changing. Had changed. It was still a katana, but no longer bearing as plain or simple an appearance. Its cross guard had changed shape into a curved, sweeping affair akin to a crackling flame, and the hilt was now wrapped in alternating cloth of bright orange and deep yellow, just like her mane of hair.

Wonderment filled her for a second, but only for that split moment before instinct burned away conscious thought and she swung the blade at the onrushing Hollow, its bone white mask filling her vision along with its empty maw of darkness. She felt the blade crunch into that mask, the sharp steel filled with her inner fire cleaving through sinew and bone with arm jarring force.

Then abruptly the fire was gone and Sunset Shimmer felt nothing but pure exhaustion overwhelm her. She fell to her knees, the sword clattering to the ground beside her. She breathed hard as sweat dripped down her face and off her chin. Behind her Pinkie Pie stared with wide eyed wonder, and more distantly her friends did the same. Sunset even saw the girl in black was awake, leaning on her own sword, and looking at Sunset with reserved contemplation mixed with barely contained surprise.

As for the Hollow, its face, its entire head, was split down the middle. Blood dripped in an oozing waterfall to the pavement, and then the beast sagged like a dead puppet. Then its form wavered, turning dark and dissipating like ash being blown away in the wind.

All was silence for a moment before Pinkie Pie shouted, “Whoohoo! Ghost officially busted!”

As if the girl’s declaration was a signal that shook everyone out of their stupor all of Sunset’s friends rushed to her side, or in some cases staggered and stumbled due to injury.

“Wow Sunset, what did you do there!?” asked Rainbow Dash, “I was just starting to see stuff but I couldn’t tell what I was looking at, but you were all glowing like when we rock out with our ponytails out.”

“Are you alright, darling? You look ready to pass out for a month!” said Rarity, though she soon turned her eyes with equal concern towards the girl in black.

“I have no idea what just happened,” said Twilight, looking at her scanner with baffled shakes of her head, “The readings simply went bonkers for a moment there. Whatever that creature was you managed to make it vanish entirely from the readout.”

“Ain’t to distract folk from our near death experience,” said Applejack, “But y’all seein’ this sword now?” she asked, pointing a boot toe at where Sunset had dropped her sword.

All the girls blinked, and turned their heads to stare at it. Apparently they could all see it now. Before anyone could comment on that there was a dull thudding sound and all turned their heads to see the girl in black had fallen over again, quite unconscious.

Sunset stood up, picking up the sword in the process, “Whatever happened tonight, we need to get off the street and somewhere safe, not to mention look after her.”

“I suppose taking her to the hospital might be out of the question, given she’s clearly not... normal,” said Twilight with a contemplative look, “We can go to my place. It should be safe and my parents are out of town for the week, so I have it mostly to myself.”

“Don’t you also have a brother who might wonder why we all look like we just walked through a warzone?” asked Sunset. Twilight’s face turned a brilliant shade of red.

“He’s, uh... he spends his weekends with Dean Cadence, lately,” Twilight said in a soft, embarrassed voice.

“Seriously?” asked Rainbow Dash, “Your bro is nailing Crystal Prep’s dean?”

Twilight stiffened, “He’s not ‘nailing’ anything! He’s just, they’re just, they’re really close.”

“Close like a hot dog through a doughnut, eh?” said Dash, making a certain gesture with her fingers. Applejack smacked the other girl upside the head.

“Ease up girl. Twi’ if yer comfy with it we’ll be happy ta take ya up on the offer,” said the farm girl graciously, and there was no argument from anyone else in the group, least of all the unconscious girl in black.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash carried the unconscious girl between them while Twilight led the way. It’d be a bit of a long walk, but taking a bus was out of the question given the girls’ state, which would attract too many questions. Fortunately while far Twilight assured them her home wasn’t outside reasonable walking distance. Sunset was glad enough of that, because she felt like she was about ready to fall over at any second. Whatever she’d done to change the sword recovered from the crater into the form it now had, doing so had taken a lot out of her.

Questions swirled in her mind as Rarity got on her phone along with Pinkie Pie and started making calls to assure family members that the girls had just decided to go for a night on the town and then Twilight had suggested a sleepover. It was as good a cover for the night’s events as they were going to get, but luckily most of the girl’s families were very understanding folks, and Sunset had no family to worry about in this world. Her small one room apartment, paid for out of a every slowly dwindling stash of gems taken from Equestria that she pawned for cash, was not a good spot for all the girls to gather.

Foremost in Sunset Shimmer’s mind was what was coming next. She wasn’t foolish enough to think this was the end of it. These strange blades, the girl in black, that monster, all of it was tied together, and she felt certain with a worried twist in her gut that this was only the beginning.

Author's Note:

An idea that popped into my head and wouldn't leave. I've been a huge fan of the world and story of Bleach for a long time, and after seeing Friendship Games the idea kept bouncing around in my head to toy around with crossing those two worlds over with each other. To be honest I have no idea to what extent I'll be continuing this, given all the other stories I got clamoring for my attention, but I had to get this itch scratched before it drove me nuts, so here we are, the first of an unknown number of episodes. I will say for those of you out there familiar with Bleach that while the initial part of this story will take a lot from the anime's beginnings, I'm intending to take the story in its own direction in due time.

At any rate, let me know what you folks thought of this. I welcome all comments, questions, and critiques. 'Till next time.

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