• Published 15th Apr 2016
  • 18,421 Views, 4,843 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 2: Questions and Decisions

Episode 2: Questions and Decisions

Despite all that had happened to the girls that night they were still taken aback and left staring at the sight before them. Twilight Sparkle self consciously rubbed her arms and said, “It’s not really as big as it looks. It’s rather plain on the inside.”

“Dude, you could park a jumbo jet in there and still have room for a few extra guest rooms,” said Rainbow Dash, and Sunset couldn’t entirely gainsay the point. The mansion in front of them was gigantic, and Sunset had seen her share of mansions while living in Canterlot.

The mansion was a sprawling affair, with its main building towering four stories tall. White washed wood framed massive windows on either side of the tall front doors, a large set of stone steps leading to them from the well paved front driveway. Looking to her left and right Sunset saw the mansion had side wings, two stories tall, that edged off to the north and south, like the spokes of a tuning fork sprouting from the main building. The architecture was strangely smooth and crisp, almost making the place have a sterile, hospital feel to it.

There were a few lights on, glowing out from the tall windows on the mansion’s front and Sunset glanced at Twilight questioningly, “Servants?”

“Oh, well, yes. We have some hired help to keep the place in order,” Twilight said, looking around the vast driveway with a jittery look in her eyes, “Most of them should be asleep this time of night, but probably safest to go in through one of the side entrances. This way.”

“Gotta admit, sugarcube, I weren’t expectin’ ya to have such, uh, fancy digs either,” said Applejack, one arm of the girl in black slung over her shoulder while Rainbow Dash was doing the same with her other arm. The strange girl hadn’t made so much as a peep the whole walk to the mansion, but Sunset could still see her breathing. She felt a flush of guilt for not actually taking the girl to a hospital, but given the oddity of her, the fact that her friends hadn’t been able to even see her at first, and that she had known what that monster was... a hospital might not be the best place to take her. Too many questions would be asked that Sunset had no answers for. The girl didn't even have an ID or wallet.

“My family has a lot of...” Twilight paused, chewing her lip, “Old money. Stocks and bonds, real estate, that kind of thing. Couldn’t even say for sure what my parents do, day to day, but they tend to go on a lot of business trips. Heheh.”

That nervous laugh caused Sunset to give Twilight an odd look. Was Twilight so nervous because this was the first time her friends had seen her home? Sunset put the thought from her mind as they walked the long way around to the south wing of the mansion. Here a small gravel pathway wound between elegantly kept topiary, leading to a door that was situated at the corner where the south wing met with the central building.

Twilight fished out a small brass key from one of her skirt pockets and fiddled with the door for a second before swinging it open, stepping aside, “Right this way. We’ll take her to my secondary lab. Nobody goes there very much except for me.”

“Secondary lab?” asked Sunset as they filed inside. The door led to a spacious hallway with soft gray carpeting and tall, arched ceilings, interspersed with hanging lights that were off, leaving the hallway shrouded in darkness.

Twilight was last in, flipping a switch that lit up the hallway with a pleasant yellow glow. Seeing more clearly Sunset took in the various paintings hung up along the wall, all made up of very scenic landscapes of some hilly and heavily forested countryside, sometimes depicting old towns and even a castle that made her feel a pang of nostalgia for Equestria.

“Oh, my main lab is on the third floor, but it’d be conspicuous to take her there because the head butler Mr. Robert cleans it rather regularly. My secondary lab is in the basement and a lot less likely to be disturbed,” Twilight said, leading them off down the hallway to the left.

Rainbow Dash and Applejack adjusted their grip on the unconscious girl, carrying her along carefully while the rest followed behind. Pinkie Pie bounced happily, making small comments here and there whenever she caught sight of something interesting like a weird painting or two. Rarity was unusually quiet, arms crossed as she walked and saying nothing. Fluttershy seemed still rattled from the night’s recently survived dangers, but offered Sunset a warm, comforting smile when the two’s eyes met. Sunset brought up the rear of the group, and just before she started after the others she paused, noticing something above the doorway they’d just entered.

She wasn’t sure why it caught her eye, other than she had no idea what is was. A symbol, carved out of a stone bas-relief, hanging above the door like a sentinel. It was a plain symbol, a five pointed cross, each end of the cross forming what would have been a perfect circle were they all joined. Almost like the five points of a star, actually. Sunset wasn’t sure why the symbol stood out to her. The human world was filled with odd symbols that had a myriad of meanings to various cultures and religions.

Shrugging away the slight feeling of unease the symbol gave her, Sunset hurried to join the others.

The hallway led to a four way crossing that Twilight swiftly took the right hallway, leading them along the south wall of the main building. From the tall windows that lined this hallway Sunset could see a small courtyard between the south wing and main building, filled with a lovely garden and long pool, the center of which sported a tall stone fountain. Doors, heavy oaken affairs, lined the left side of the hallway.

“Man, how many people live in this place, Twi?” asked Rainbow Dash, “Looks like you could barracks an army in here.”

“Just me, my brother and parents, along with maybe half a dozen cleaning and serving staff,” said Twilight, then added hastily, “We didn’t build the place or anything. We inherited it from my grandparents, who had a lot more hired help back then and had a few extended family members living here... though my grandparents died and the other family members moved out while I was still pretty little. I barely remember any of them.”

“I like it!” said Pinkie Pie, “I can really get a good echo going on in here. Ech-”

Applejack snaked out an arm to clamp a hand over Pinkie Pie’s mouth, “We’re tryin’ ta be sneaky like in here, Pinkie. Let’s keep the noise down ta secret surprise party levels, ya’hear?”

“Mmmhmm,” Pinkie mumbled through Applejack’s hand, and Twilight smiled.

“It’ll be okay once we’re to the lab. It’s soundproofed. I, uh, sometimes have experiments that can make a lot of noise.”

There were a few more twists and turns in their walk through the spacious hallways of the vast mansion, including passing through some kind of lounge that had a huge fireplace of marble occupying one wall and a single, blue curtained window looking out the back of the mansion’s east side to look upon an expansive back yard that led to a wall of dense woods. The edge of one of the Everfree’s many branches? Sunset tried to recall maps of the local area and realized that yes, that had to be one of the edges to the rolling Everfree Forest that enshrouded the town like a cloak.

Eventually they reached a innocuous door that when opened led to a large staircase leading down. The stairs creaked slightly as the girls descended under the light of pale electric lights made up to look like medieval lamps hanging from iron chains, making Sunset almost feel like she was back in Celestia’s palace in Canterlot, descending into the dungeons.

Yet another maze of hallways greeted the girls here, but Twilight didn’t lead them far before reaching another door that when opened led into a room that would have been considered large by most standards, but compared to the size of the mansion was actually rather cozy. Several tables were neatly arranged along the walls bearing various scientific equipment from beakers to microscopes and everything in between. A couch was pushed up in one corner, a blanket neatly stacked atop a pillow at one end, and this was where Twilight directed the girl in black to be set down.

While Applejack and Rainbow Dash did that Twilight went over to another desk sitting up against the far wall and dug into one of the drawers, pulling out a rather large red and white first aid kit. Without even needing to be asked Fluttershy took up the first aid kit and went to examine the girl while Twilight took out her scanner and turned it on.

“We don’t really know what she is,” Twilight explained, “So while normal medicine might work, we can’t be sure of anything. I think it might help if I watch carefully on this how she responds to normal treatment.”

“Makes sense to me,” said Sunset, standing about and feeling a tad useless. The sword she’d recovered from the crater was looped through her belt, and now that they were here and settling in she looked down at it, “Should I set this somewhere?”

“Oh, uh, how about over there next to the bio-metric oscillator?” said Twilight, more intent on the girl at the moment. Sunset glanced over at what she assumed was the device in question, a weird looking thing of vacuum tubes and cables, and went over to set the sword down. The katana’s edge seemed to glow under the plain light of the lab and Sunset felt an odd pang of regret just setting it down, but even though she’d used it, even though she’d somehow changed it into its present form, the sword wasn’t the most important thing to focus on right now.

One by one the other girls found spots around the lab to sit down or lean against walls, none of them besides Fluttershy really having any medical knowledge and so just trying to stay out of their friend’s way as she worked. Twilight hovered nearby, eyes on her scanner, but otherwise didn’t interfere with Fluttershy, whose eyes held determined focus as she began to check, clean, and bandage the girl’s wounds, starting with the gash along the forehead.

Sunset watched nervously, worried at the mount of blood that had covered the girl’s face. She seemed rather frail, now, laying there on the couch, her black robes soaked sticky with blood. Her dark green hair was plastered to her face, though Fluttershy was carefully cleaning that off with a soaked cloth of water, then disinfecting alcohol from the first aid kit. The girl was breathing, and steadily, which seemed encouraging. Fluttershy was as gentle and careful as a mother bear tending her cub, slowly removing the black robes bit by bit so she could check the girl’s limbs and chest for any broken bones. Despite the terrible hit the girl had taken when the Hollow had slammed her to the parking lot it looked as if nothing was broken. Sunset blushed slightly as she noticed the girl wasn’t wearing much underneath the black robes save for bandages wrapped around her breasts and a simple white cloth set of undergarments around her groin. Fluttershy didn’t seem to mind it at all or be embarrassed, all her focus on the art of healing.

“No broken bones, but so many bruises, the poor thing. She’ll need painkillers when she wakes otherwise it will be hard on her just to move around.”

“What about her head? That looks, I mean, it looks bad,” said Sunset.

“Head wounds always tend to bleed quite a bit,” said Fluttershy in an almost clinical tone, “They can be dangerous, but I don’t feel any fractures. She might have a slight concussion, which can be bad, but there’s little we can do except clean and dress the wound and try to help the swelling go down. We won’t know more until she wakes up.”

“I’m just surprised you can even touch her,” said Twilight, eyes glued to her scanner, which she’d used a USB cable to plug into a laptop on her desk, “According to my readings the girl’s physical presence is fluctuating. Its as if she’s existing in two different states simultaneously. It's fascinating! One moment it looks like your bandages are just hanging in midair, the next wrapped around her. And her sword! It's giving off readings just like the one Sunset picked up!”

Applejack had been the one to carry the girl’s sword with them and had laid the weapon down to lean against the end of the couch by the girl’s feet. Sunset took a closer look at it. It was a katana just like the one she had, its star shaped crossguard briefly reminding her of the symbol on the door to the mansion, though much more resembling an actual star than a cross.

“This is cool and all,” said Rainbow Dash, yawning slightly, “But I’m feeling pretty beat now that all the excitement is over. Don’t suppose there’s a bed around here? Or a tv? A game system? Tell me you got something, Twi?”

“Oh, uh, there should be guest rooms down here somewhere. I know my brother owns pretty much every game system, er, ever. But I wouldn’t think it's a good idea to go into his room. Never been into games myself, but I have plenty of books. The library, one of them, is on the first floor and I bet you could find something fun to read there.”

“Daring Do?” Rainbow Dash asked hopefully.

“Full set,” Twilight said with a warm smile.

“Awesome!” Rainbow Dash went out the door in a flash... and returned almost as fast, smiling sheepishly as she poked her head back in, “So, uh, where’s the library?”

“I better go with you,” said Twilight, “Just in case you do run into any of the help I can explain you’re all here for a sleepover.” She looked forlornly at her scanner, and set it on the desk next to the laptop, “It’ll collect data on its own, I can look it over later.”

“S’pose I’ll go with y’all, since ain’t much I can be do here that’ll be useful,” said Applejack.

“Well, as for me, a bed would be most appreciated,” said Rarity, face paler than usual, “I rather feel a tad drained from all that’s happened.”

“I’ll show you to a guest room on the way to the library,” said Twilight, then glanced around the room, “Anybody else?”

“I’ll stay here,” said Sunset, and Pinkie Pie licked her lips as she tapped her chin.

“You got a kitchen?”

Twilight let out a light chuckle, “Several. I’ll show you to one of the smaller ones that are out of the way.”

That left Sunset alone with Fluttershy and the unconscious girl. Fluttershy didn’t leave the girl’s side, only pulling over a chair to sit by the couch as she watched the girl carefully, checking her brow every now and then. Sunset found a spot on the floor nearby to sit down, pulling her knees up and wrapping her arms around them as she looked worriedly at the girl on the couch.

“So, she’s going to be okay?” she asked, and Fluttershy gave her an encouraging smile.

“I think so. You’re really worried about her, aren’t you?”

Sunset let out a slightly stress filled laugh, “I’m worried about all of us. That wasn’t a walk in the park we just went through, even if it happened right next to a park. That... that thing was trying to kill us, Fluttershy. It nearly did, if I hadn’t...” her eyes turned towards the sword on the desk, “I don’t even know how I did what I did. Who is this girl? What was that thing!? She called it a Hollow but I’ve never heard of something like that before, here or in Equestria! I wish I had my journal with me so I could write Princess Twilight, maybe ask if she’s heard of anything like this. What if there are more of these monsters out there? What if they’re going after other innocent people right now? How did I change that sword into the shape it is now and know I could beat that thing? It could’ve killed me. How-”

Suddenly she was being hugged tight by soft, warm arms as Fluttershy knelt next to her and held her close. Sunset hadn’t even realized she’d been trembling, or how badly she’d been rambling, until Fluttershy just went “Shhhhh,” in a warm, caring tone, “It’s okay Sunset. We’re all okay. It’s going to be okay.”

Sunset felt the gates around her emotions break open and suddenly she found tears in her eyes, tear she hid by burying her face in her friend’s shoulder. Her voice managed to choke out, “I...I could’ve lost any of you tonight.”

“But you didn’t. We’re all here, perfectly fine. A little battered, but fine. And tomorrow morning this will all seem like a bad dream,” said Fluttershy, her voice filled with the calm motherliness of a woman much more mature than her teenage years. Sunset had at times heard students at school snicker about Fluttershy, saying she was a fraidy cat and a door mat. Perhaps at times that was true, but Sunset would knock the block off of anyone who said Fluttershy was a coward. She at times seemed to have inner strength to spare for herself and all her friends combined.

Sunset couldn’t help but hug her back, sniffing and wiping her face with the sleeve of her jacket, “Yeah, yeah you’re right. I just... this has been one heck of a night.”

After that the two of them settled into a comfortable silence, Fluttershy returning to her vigilant post watching the girl while Sunset took off her jacket and bunched it into a pillow so she could lay out on the floor and doze. She was fading in and out of consciousness, always just inches from full sleep, when Fluttershy’s sudden cry snapped her to full wakefulness.

Fluttershy had stood up swiftly, knocking her chair over in the process.

The girl was sitting up, eyes open and sharp. Slowly she looked around the room, alighting upon Sunset and Fluttershy in turn. She reached up and touched the bandages around her head, frowning slightly.

“Where am I?” she asked, voice hard.

“Um, miss, you really shouldn’t be up right now,” said Fluttershy carefully, holding her hands up as if to press the girl back down to the couch, “You were badly hurt and need to rest.”

“I won’t expire that easily,” said the girl, who blinked and added, “Though I suppose I’ll thank you for the help. But answer my question; where am I? More than that, how is it the two of you can see me?”

Sunset stood now, jacket in one hand as she slowly put it on. She and Fluttershy exchanged quick looks, and she could tell Fluttershy wanted Sunset to take the lead on this. Sunset didn’t have a problem with that, choosing her words, “We couldn’t just leave you there after that... creature was dealt with. We decided to take you to a friend’s home to try and treat your wounds. As for why we can see you, I don’t know. Are you not supposed to be seen?”

“I’ll ask the questions,” the girl said, grimacing as she swung her legs over the side of the couch, holding her head, “If I don’t report back they’ll send others to look for me. Blast it, how long have I been out?”

“A few hours, no more,” said Fluttershy, smiling helpfully.

“Too long,” said the girl, trying to stand, but falling back to the couch, “Ugh, damn Hollow. Hit me harder than I thought. Should’ve gone Shikai right from the start instead of trying to play it cool. Stupid Clover, stupid. Now you’ve exposed yourself to the humans and the Captain is going to pitch a fit to end all fits. Oh, not to mention losing three recruits on a routine training exercise... dammit. Damn it.”

The girl’s tirade seemed entirely unaware and self directed, speaking as if Sunset and Fluttershy weren’t even in the room. Almost none of it made sense, but Sunset did pick up the girl’s name: Clover. On impulse she strode over and picked up the sword she’d transformed back at the parking lot, and held it out towards Clover so she could see it.

“This is what I used to defeat that monster. What is this sword? Why did it change into this shape when I used it?”

Clover blinked, hazy eyed as she looked at the sword. Fluttershy frowned, stepping between Clover and Sunset. “Hold on, Sunset, she’s still hurt and we shouldn't be interrogating her all of a sudden!”

“I understand Fluttershy, but I have to know what this was all about,” said Sunset, “If there’s a threat to this city, its my responsibility to do what I can to keep it safe, especially if the cause of the threat is magical in nature.”

Fluttershy looked like she was about to argue but Clover spoke first.

“It's not magic.”

Sunset and Fluttershy both blinked, looking back at Clover, who was slowly drawing her black robes back over her body. She looked at the sword in Sunset’s hand and then at Sunset herself, meeting the other girl’s eyes with a measuring gaze. Whatever Clover saw there must have been enough for Clover for she slowly nodded and go on speaking.

“What’s in your hand is called a Zanpaktou. The weapon of a Soul Reaper, like myself. The creature you fought was a Hollow, the soul of a dead human who has become corrupted. Soul Reapers purify Hollows with our Zanpaktou to send them on to the afterlife. No living human is meant to know these things, but I can’t see any way to keep it a secret save killing you and all the other girls who were with you... and I’m not doing that. Protecting the living is my duty.”

Slowly, with some difficulty, Clover stood, and retrieved her own sword, her Zanpaktou, and sheathed it through the white sash the belted her robes, “I don’t have the foggiest notion of how you managed to transform a Asauchi into a true Zanpaktou. It's sealed, at least, but a human, a living human, with a Zanpaktou... there is only one precedent...”

She shook her head, “I thank you for your help in treating my wounds, but I have to go. I have to report back to my Division and my Captain. I... don’t know what will happen after that. It will be out of my hands at that point. I’m sorry.”

“Hold on a second,” said Sunset, “That doesn’t explain anything!”

“What do you want me to do, draw a picture for you?” said Clover, a bit of sass entering her voice, “I can’t say what I’ve said any plainer, and honestly I shouldn't have said that much. These are things humans are not meant to know, but for some reason you’ve managed to bond with a Zanpaktou! I could confiscate the blade, but that wouldn’t change what you did, and that my Captain is going to need to know what happened. What’s best is that I stop talking and leave before I spill any more eons old secrets of the nature of reality!”

With that Clover began to stumble towards the door. She got about two paces before falling flat on her face, groaning. Fluttershy was by Clover’s side in an instant, checking her bandages.

“Oh my! Oh my, you shouldn’t be moving. I told you not to move around Miss Clover. Your head wound is still too fresh for being up and about. Come on, let's get you back on the couch.”

“Uuuuugh...I’m... I’m the th-third seat of...of the twelfth Division of...blaargh...” protested Clover weakly as Fluttershy picked her up and walked her back to the couch, Clover seemingly too dazed to resist much. Sunset just stood there, blinking as Fluttershy laid Clover back down and began to redress the bandages. Fluttershy murmured soft words of comfort as Clover continued to mumble and babble.

“Got to... get back... Hollows... more than normal. Need to... report...zzzZZZzzz...”

Fluttershy smiled in relief, “Oh good, maybe now she’ll get some rest.”

“Yeah,” said Sunset, shaking her head, “Let’s hope so.”


By the time morning crept across the horizon, lighting up the sky with periwinkle blue hues, most of the girls had managed to get their share of sleep, though they’d all traded places to keep watch over Clover. Sunset had taken last watch and was still stretching out the aches from her numerous bruises from last night as she kept a close eye on Clover’s sleeping form.

Worry gnawed at her. Very little of what Clover had said during that brief period of wakefulness made much sense to her. The afterlife? As in the literal afterlife? The realm beyond the veil of death? Not even Celestia herself had claimed any knowledge of that and she was the oldest living being Sunset knew! The human world was rife with various religions that claimed various knowledge of life after death, but not a single shred of actual proof of any of it.

Could this girl really be some kind of... what had she called herself? A Soul Reaper? Like those figures in mythology cloaked in black and carrying scythes? It seemed impossible. Perhaps Clover was just disturbed, touched in the head by whatever strange magics she might wield. She claimed these swords, these “Zanpaktou”, weren’t magical in nature, but Sunset didn’t believe that for an instant. Perhaps Clover had a different understanding of magic than Sunset did, but it was pretty obvious the swords were supernatural in nature. The sword had absorbed Sunset’s magic, after all.

There was more to worry about as well, given that it was clear Clover intended to leave as soon as she was conscious again, recovered or not. Sunset half wanted to find something to tie Clover up with to keep her still, so Sunset could figure out just what in blazes had happened last night and what this was all about concerning “Hollows” and “Soul Reapers” and “Zanpaktou”. However she doubted that even if they did tie her up with rope or something that Clover would stay put. She seemed like the stubborn type to Sunset.

So, what? We just let her go? As if nothing happened?

It seemed like the only real possibility, if Clover was determined to go without answering any questions, or at least answering them in a way that didn’t pop up twice as many new questions.

When the door opened and Twilight stepped in Sunset stood up from the chair she’d been leaning back in.

“So she’s still asleep,” Twilight said, statement rather than question as she went over to her desk with the laptop, yawning, “I’ve been through the library several times trying to find references to what she was talking about while awake. Nothing about Soul Reapers or Hollows, but after some work I discovered that the word ‘Zanpaktou’ is Japanese and could be roughly translated as ‘Soul Slayer’, or rather ‘Soul Cutting Sword’. Considering what it did to that Hollow it’s an appropriate name.”

Sunset tilted her head, joining Twilight by the desk, “Japanese? Seems strange. Why would she have a sword with a Japanese name?”

“It's not just her sword,” Twilight said, “Her outfit as well. It’s similar to several styles of dress from Japan, though I’ll admit I’m hardly knowledgeable about foreign fashion. I suppose this is just one of many mysteries about our guest. She, uh, seemed rather adamant about leaving when she was awake?”

A quick sigh escaped Sunset, “Doubt we could stop her from leaving, once she gets her strength back. I guess we don’t have any right to keep her... it's just I really wish we could get her to sit still and just give us some answers. All that talk about the afterlife...”

“It's definitely,” Twilight seemed to wave her hand in the air as she fished for the right word, “..concerning. Yes, concerning sounds about right.”

“The only thing I’m concerned about,” said a young male voice from the door, “Is when I get breakfast and a walk.”

Both girls turned to see a small purple dog with odd green ears and mane waddle into the room, sitting down just long enough to scratch his ears with a hind leg. He looked to Sunset with a grin, “Morning Sunset.”

“Good morning Spike,” Sunset said, smiling down at the dog, who not so long ago gained the power of speech through the rather unusual events that occurred around the Friendship Games.

“Hey Spike,” said Twilight, “I’m sorry I forgot to fill your bowl! I’ll do it just as soon as I start this data here a quick look-see!”

“And a walk,” added Spike, shuffling, “Seriously, Rob usually opens the door for me but haven’t seen the guy all morning.”

“Mr. Robert? Strange, he’s usually quite punctual about that,” said Twilight, then shrugged, “I suppose the data can wait. Can’t have you going on the carpet. Again.”

“One time!” said the dog in protest, “Just once! Not my fault you were so into that research paper that you weren’t hearing me barking at the door.”

“It was a really interesting paper, Spike, on the migratory patterns of Royal Red shrimp!”

Spike didn’t say anything, his expression said it all as one of his little eyebrows raised and the rest of his face went pure deadpan. Sunset managed to contain a snigger and said, “I’ll stay and keep an eye on Clover then. Just remind one of the girls I’m down here and maybe have them bring a bite to eat?”

“No problem, last I saw Pinkie Pie and Rarity were teaming up to whip up some breakfast,” said Twilight as she made for the door, but halted as she nearly tripped over Spike. “Huh? Spike, what’s wrong?”

He was sniffing at her legs, face suddenly scrunched in suspicious concern, “Twilight, why do I smell... wait, who’s that!? She’s new!”

He pointed with one furry paw at Clover’s prone form, and Sunset imagined the smell he’d picked up was either Clover herself, or the traces of blood from her and the rest of the girl's’ wounds. Either way the dog now knew there was a stranger in the room and was shooting a questioning look at his owner.

“Oh, her, right, umm... “ Twilight floundered for words, “How to explain?”

“It's best you don’t explain at all,” said Clover abruptly as her eyes flickered open and she let out a long, pained groan as she rubbed her head, “It’d be best if you all forgot I ever existed, really.”

“Whoa, she’s a morning person, ain’t she?” quipped Spike with a roll of his eyes, and Clover blinked. Then blinked again. She then pointed at Spike.

“That dog just talked.”

“‘That dog’ is also about to wet the carpet if he doesn’t get outside soon,” said Spike bluntly, to which Clover just rubbed her head some more.

“The trauma must be worse than I thought. Hallucinations are not a good sign, Clover. Might be best to visit the fourth Division before reporting in, get yourself properly checked on. Dogs aren’t supposed to talk. Unless an experiment got out of the Captain’s laboratory. But no, why would it be here then. That’s just be crazy, Clover. Haha. Talking dogs...”

Spike just looked at Sunset and Twilight with a paw raised in question, “What’s with her?”

“Just a minute Spike,” Twilight said, then turned her attention to Clover, “Look, Miss Clover, my dog does have the ability to talk, but that is neither here nor there compared to the many questions my friends and I have for you about what happened last night.”

Clover halted her personal rambling to look at Twilight with thoughtful apprehension, “Okay, the dog aside, I told you all last night that the less you all know, the better off you are. I may be in poor shape at the moment, but I can’t afford to waste any more time laying about.”

“We won’t try to force you to stay,” said Sunset, “But I have to know before you go; are there more of those Hollows out there in the city?”

That particular question had plagued Sunset the most for the entire night. Whatever they were, the monsters were clearly dangerous and if there were more there had to be a way to deal with them. Clover seemed to read Sunset’s thoughts.

“It's not the task of the living to fight Hollows. That’s what Soul Reapers like me exist for. Yes there are in all likelihood more Hollows wandering the city. There are always a few in any major city where people might die on any given day. However there were more out there last night than there should have been. Hollow activity has been rising all over the city the past few months, but last night was pretty bad. I...”

She halted, shaking her head, then wincing as if she wished she hadn’t, “I’ve said too much already. This has nothing to do with you girls.”

Sunset frowned, pointed at the Zanpaktou she’d supposedly ‘bonded’ with last night, which now leaned against the wall, “I’d say at this point it has a lot to do with us.”

Clover eyed the sword, hands alternating between clenching and relaxing. At last she sighed and said, “You may be right about that. You, all of you from last night, saw the Hollow. Humans shouldn’t be able to see Soul Reapers or Hollows without unusually strong spirit energy. That means you may be targeted by more Hollows.”

“Wait, what? Targeting us? Why?” asked Twilight in alarm.

“Because Hollows are human souls that have become corrupted with negative emotions, and are driven by an unnatural hunger to consume other souls. Either the souls of the recently departed who have not yet crossed over, or the souls of the still living,” Clover said, and met Twilight’s frightened gaze directly, “They especially hone in on souls that have strong spiritual energy, like you and your friends displayed last night.”

Sunset felt as if she’d taken a punch to the gut, and swallowed despite a suddenly dry mouth, “That must be why it was chasing Rarity and Fluttershy.”

“Very likely, yes,” agreed Clover, who looked as if she was tasting something sour, “The more I think about it the more I realize how much danger you girls might still be in. Blast it all, this complicates things...”

Spike was remaining admirably quiet during all this but Sunset could tell the canine was practically bursting with questions. So was Sunset.

“Complicated in what way?” she asked, trying to keep focused on the flow of the conversation rather than derail it with other questions she wanted to ask.

“I need to return to the Soul Society, the realm of Soul Reapers, and report what happened. I also don’t want to leave you girls unprotected, since it's possible more Hollows might come after you...” Clover trailed off, face a mask of deep thought. “The only thing I can think of to do is go to an expert.”

“An... expert?” Sunset asked.

Clover nodded, and stood slowly, swaying a bit but steadying herself after a second, “Yes. Soul Society knows of someone in the city who will do favors for us if paid properly. I can go to him and arrange for you girls to be looked after while I go report to my superiors. After I make my report, well, we’ll just have to wait and see what the Captains decide to do.”

“We said we wouldn’t try to keep you prisoner here and meant it, “ said Twilight, “But what will your, uh, superiors decide? They won’t try to hurt us will they? We didn’t do anything wrong.”

Clover seemed a bit taken aback by Twilight’s worried look and said, “I can’t say for certain, but one of the Soul Society’s greatest duties is the protection of the living world. I don’t imagine they’d want to hurt any of you. Your friend there with the Zanpaktou is the snagging point, really.”

“Sunset. My name is Sunset Shimmer.”

“I see. Well, Sunset, I don’t know what I can tell you. What you did last night should have been impossible for any normal human, or even a few abnormal ones. At worst I suspect another Soul Reaper will be sent to confiscate the Zanpaktou for study. I, uh, don’t think they’ll want to abduct you for study as well. No, no probably not. Chances are this incident will be swept under the rug and in a month’s time you’ll all forget about it. Or be made to forget, I suppose. Regardless, it's out of my hands.”

A grimace made its way onto Sunset’s face as she crossed her arms, “I won’t be anyone’s dissection project, Clover.”

“I said its unlikely it’d come to that. Really the only guy I can think of who’d even want to try is... well, he may be my Captain but no one takes him too seriously,” Clover said with a flat look as if she was recalling some unpleasant memories, “Twelfth Division gets little enough respect as is. Ugh, anyway, I really have to be going.”

“You don’t want to stay for breakfast at least?” asked Twilight, “I could ask you so many questions over a bowl of cereal! Please, just a few? I want to know so much about where you’ve come from and what you do as a Soul Reaper!”

Clover backed up a step, raising an arm as if to ward off the overeager girl in glasses, “I said the less you know the better! Don’t you people know how to listen?”

Sunset put a hand on Twilight’s arm, looking at the other girl with a short shake of her head, “Let it go for now Twilight.”

Twilight looked for a moment as if she wanted to argue further, but then just slumped her shoulders, “Alright.”

“Well then,” said Clover, still looking tense like a rabbit ready to bolt as she slowly retrieved her own Zanpaktou from the foot of the couch, “I’ll just be on my way.”

She stepped around Sunset and Twilight, gave Spike one last strange look, then went out the door.

A few seconds later she returned, a demure look of embarrassment on her face. “Um, which way is the way out?”


“I can’t believe you just let her go like that!” exclaimed Rainbow Dash, “I mean, c’mon we went through all that trouble to get her here and then you let her up and leave!?”

The girls were gathered in one of several kitchens in the Twilight family mansion, surrounding a onyx black dinner table and wolfing down a set of pancakes that Pinkie Pie and Rarity had cooked up earlier. Spike, having been let out briefly for his ‘walk’ around the mansion’s backyard was now quietly napping beneath the table. Sunset stabbed at her pancakes a tad more forcefully than she needed do, feeling Rainbow Dash’s frustration.

“It wasn’t like we had any right to keep her chained to the wall, Dash.”

“Besides I thought we brought her here to help her heal, not to interrogate her,” pointed out Fluttershy, but she too looked worried, “I do hope she was well enough to go. If she’s collapsed out there all on her lonesome...”

“Relax sugarcube, what’s done is done an’ there ain’t no sense in worryn’ ourselves gray over it,” said Applejack, chewing down a bite of pancake and frowning, “Though I figure we oughta git a’ game plan goin’ on what ta do ‘bout there bein’ more of them Hollow critters in town. An’ ya said that Clover gal said somethin’ round the size o’ them beasties wantin’ ta chew on our souls?”

Rarity shivered, “Dreadful thought. Just one of those horrible creatures was bad enough. Just how many might be stalking our streets every night?”

“We don’t know,” said Twilight, “And I don’t think Clover did either. The number of Hollows sounded like it was a surprise to her, too. For the moment I’m planning to spend today building a number of devices like my scanner that can detect the energy signatures of Hollows. I have enough data from last night to do that easy enough. I’ll also make sure each of us has a long range walkie talkie to get in touch faster than dialing on a cell phone. Right now Sunset is the only one with a weapon proven to hurt Hollows, so I’m thinking we have ourselves an extended weekend long sleepover here until I get those Hollow detectors built. Once the school week starts we just... keep in touch and if any of us are in danger, we get to Sunset.”

She looked over at Sunset with an apologetic look, “I’m sorry, its the best plan I can come up with. I don’t want you to be in any more danger, but for all we know that Zanpaktou of yours is the only defense we have.”

Sunset smiled reassuringly, patting the blade’s hilt that she’d laid against the table. She really needed to figure out a sheath or something for it. “Its okay Twilight. I was planning to find a way to deal with the Hollows anyway, and that detection device you plan to build will help me track them down in case they try going for any innocent people.”

“You better be planning to bring some of us on these ‘Hollow patrols’ then,” said Rainbow Dash, “That sweet sword of yours might be the best for busting Hollows, but I’m not standing by and shaking like a leaf in my house while you do all the dangerous stuff.”

“She’s right, darling,” Rarity said, sipping on some coffee and looking as if she was trying to not shake herself, “Those Hollows frighten me, I won’t lie, but we can hardly expect you to do all the work yourself. That’s not at all what our friendship is built on, is it?”

“If these Hollow critters are gonna be comin’ after us anyways then I figure we might as well return the favor,” said Applejack, face hardened in thought, “Only problem is workin’ out how ta put the boot ta ‘em. Ya got yer sword, but no offense Sunset, could’ve been a stroke o’ luck ya managed ta take that Hollow out. Ya sure ‘bout bein’ able to go toe-ta-toe wit another beastie? Or if there’s more n’ one at once?”

Sunset shuffled in her seat, the mouth of pancake she was chewing on suddenly tasting a lot less sweet. Swallowing she then said, “I’m not saying I’m some expert swordswoman but I did take a few classes, and... and it's not like I’ve got a lot of other options. If it's just one Hollow I think between all of us we can take it. I hope.”

She was trying to keep her confidence up but Sunset couldn’t deny a fair bit of fear underlying her projected aura of gusto. She and her friends had dealt with dangerous situations before, but the Hollow’s attack had felt very different. The sirens had wanted to dominate, not kill. The carnivorous plants that’d sneaked in through the portals during the Friendship Games had been dangerous, sure, but had lacked the horrifying, killer intent that had exuded from the Hollow. Even Twilight, empowered by a massive dose of magic and losing her mind while tearing holes in reality hadn’t radiated the kind of raw, murderous aura the Hollow had.

Hollow consumed souls. Hunted them like timberwolves. All it would take was one mistake. One slip up. One single moment of bad luck. That’s all that it’d take for Sunset of any one of her friends to get seriously hurt, even killed, if they were serious about hunting down Hollows.

Maybe we should just wait for Clover and her Soul Reaper superiors to deal with it... Sunset thought, then shook her head. No, there’s no telling how long it’ll take them to do anything and in that time a Hollow might hurt someone. If we have the ability to protect this town, we have to try, don’t we? No matter the risk?

She felt a warm hand on her own and glanced up, seeing that next to her Fluttershy had reached over and clasped her hand with a tight, comforting grip. The other girl just had to smile and Sunset felt her worries flit away, and she returned the squeezing grip gratefully.

“Well, I’m thinking we could try ponying up,” said Rainbow Dash, “I felt totally awesome when I did that during the Games. Kicked that over sized dandelion's butt and saved Sunset’s behind at the same time.”

Sunset smirked, remembering the event rather fondly for another incident where she nearly got killed. “I’d be inclined to agree, but while I now understand that magic comes out in this world when you're expressing your truest self, that’s not exactly something that’s easy to define or just do at will. I mean, I don’t think any of us have been able to ‘pony up’ whenever we want since the Friendship Games.”

“Well, that phenomenon also manifests itself when you play music,” said Twilight, starting to put away some of the now empty dishes, “I don’t suppose you girls could bring some more portable instruments along when you patrol?”

“Oh! I could throw on my twelve instrument harness and parade around town!” said Pinkie Pie happily, “I haven’t had a reason to use that thing in ages!”

“Sorry Pinkie,” said Sunset, “But I think that only happens when we’re using our signature instruments, and to be honest I’m not sure I’d be comfortable betting our lives on new instruments if we don’t know for sure it’ll work.”

“I also don’t imagine I could bring my sewing kit along and inspire myself with on the fly dressmaking to ‘pony up’, as it were,” said Rarity, “Hmm, not that I’m sure what I could do if I did. Rainbow Dash has those fetching wings when she transforms, the same as Fluttershy, but I’m afraid the rest of us don’t exactly get much of a power boost from it all.”

“I wish I understood this ‘Magic of Friendship’ that you all have,” Twilight said with a small sigh, and a small twitch of unease, “It feels like the more I try to understand the more questions I keep finding. Regardless, give me time. I might be able to devise something we can use to help fight off the Hollows besides the detectors.”

“Take it easy Twilight,” said Sunset, “Don’t overwork yourself.”

“I just don’t want to hold any of your girls back. You’ve all been so kind and understanding since the Friendship Games. I want to repay you all for accepting me after all that I did,” said Twilight.

“Sugarcube ya got nothin’ ta repay us for,” said Applejack firmly, “An’ yer bein’ a huge help already. We’d be clueless on what ta do without ya takin’ on making them detector thingamajigs, not ta mention ya let us use yer home like this.”

A quick, embarrassed but pleased smile flashed across Twilight’s face at that, and in short order the girls had finished their breakfast and cleaned up the dishes. Twilight assured them she could get the detectors made by nightfall. The general agreement among them was to meet up outside the high school once the sun went down, at which point they’d work out the plan for patrols. Twilight escorted them out the same side door they went in through, the girls exiting into a bright and sunny Saturday morning.

“Do you think Clover really did go to some kind of expert to have them watch us?” asked Twilight in a low whisper to Sunset, standing in the doorway as she saw the girls out.

Sunset shrugged, “I don’t know, and I don’t think we can afford to worry about it. Whatever Clovers doing, we have our own plans to enact, right?”

“I suppose you’re right,” said Twilight, looking unconvinced, “I just wish we knew more.”

“We’ll deal with it, whatever comes,” Sunset said.


The shop was a run down, dirty affair tucked between the back lots of two much larger buildings in the city’s downtown area. In order to even find the shop one had to go down several back alley turns, and even then Clover knew that there were defenses in place that would prevent any normal humans from wandering this way by accident. Of course she was no normal human and could sense the correct path through the wards and soon found herself looking at the shop’s dusty front doors with a frown on her gray features.

She didn’t really want to come here. While the proprietor of this store was, ostensibly, a neutral party, and one she was authorized to make use of if the mission parameters called for it, she did not trust the man who ran this place.

With a deep sigh she raised a hand and knocked, trying to ignore the pain that still throbbed in her head. It was a kind gesture of those human girls to tend to her, but what Clover really needed to recover wasn’t human medicine, yet another reason to come to this shop before trying to return to the Soul Society and deliver her report.

After a minute the door opened, jangling a rusty bell on the awning above. Standing in the doorway was a small, pink skinned girl whose hair was a puffy swirl of purple streaked with white. Her eyes, a similar purple to her eyes, seemed normal enough unless Clover looked at them at just the right angle, at which point those tiny eyes seemed to swirl like an infinite whirlpool. She wore a plain, simple dress and work apron, and atop her head was, of all things, a propeller beanie.

“Hello,” said Clover, “I’m here to see the owner of the shop.”

The girl smiled widely, too widely, almost wider than a human face was meant to smile, and she chirped in a voice that sounded like the ringing of broken bells, “Of course pretty miss Soul Reaper! I’ll go get the boss up right away!”

The girl skipped away into the shop, Clover following slowly, as if walking on eggshells. She felt oddly chill, standing in the front of the store. It was dark inside, the only light filtering in from the sunlight outside. Multiple shelves occupied the rather cramped front space, seemingly lined with candy and sweets of every variety. All a lie, Clover knew. A candy shop, but just a front for the truth deeper within.

The bouncy pink girl only got halfway to the back of the store before a sliding door back there opened up and a man walked out, yawning, “Aaaawwww, oh my, what a lovely night! Such terrifically terrible dreams I’ve been having, hearing the howls in the night. Ah, Screwball, good morning! Good morning indeed.”

The man was of an indeterminate age anywhere between thirty and eternity. Wild white hair made a messy waterfall around his gaunt, crooked face, and a short beard was stroked by fingers that looked ready to wiggle off his hand. His eyes were his most distinctive feature, red on yellow, always twitching, never blinking, and seeing everything. He wore a simple enough looking dark green shirt and trousers underneath a loose black robe he never seemed to belt. His feet were bare save for a pair of wooden sandal clogs. Upon his head was a floppy white and green striped hat that seemed to perpetually cloak the man’s face in shadows.

When the man caught sight of Clover he smiled, and it made Clover feel like there were bugs crawling along her spine.

“Well well well, what an unexpected pleasure to see you here, Miss Clover. So rare you ever drop by my humble little establishment,” said the man with a slick tone more slippery than an oiled eel. “Whatever can I do for you?”

Clover gulped, steeling herself, “Hello, Mr. Discord. I find myself in need of your services.”

Author's Note:

So, kind of a wind down episode. Lots of questions and partial explanations. My mind is still working overtime to plug in various MLP characters into where I feel they might fit best inside a Bleach based universe. Anyone remotely familiar with Bleach will know its got a huge roster of characters, but instead of using them my intention is to use various MLP characters for all those various roles, then plug in the gaps with either OCs or perhaps background ponies that strike my interest as needing some fleshing out.

I can't claim I'll come close to maintaining a fast rate of updates with this, as for now this is more a matter of striking while the iron is hot. Anyway thanks for reading and let me know what you think in the comments, positive or negative I welcome whatever you folks got to say.

'Till next time.

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