• Published 5th May 2018
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Seven Days in Sunny June, Book V: The New Frontier - Shinzakura

The conclusion of the Seven Days in Sunny June saga! The world has changed, and those within it must cope with the aftermath of what has happened.

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August 25: A Day in the Life

Her phone rang at 3:45 in the morning. Strangely enough, Sunset immediately snapped to wakefulness. Reaching over and grabbing the phone, she looked and saw who it was. “Is it time?” was all she asked.

“We’re on the way to the hospital now!” Blossomforth grunted, her voice sounding like she was already starting to feel pain. “Will you be there?”

“Did you even really need to ask? Let me get dressed and I’ll get going!” Hanging up, Sunset immediately cast a light spell only she could see so that she could get dressed, but then the bedsheets next to her rustled.

“Go back to sleep, sis,” Sunset told Twilight.

“Easy for you to say,” Twilight replied. “The person I was cuddling with is out of bed.”

“One, that sounds so wrong,” Sunset said, casting a cleansing spell on herself that would serve in lieu of a shower. “Two, you could have stayed in your room, you know.”

“Yeah, well, I thought you might want some female company that’s not trying to get into your pants,” Twilight teased.

“I don’t remember you being this snarky in the time that wasn’t,” Sunset replied.

“I blame my older sister for that,” Twilight said, matter-of-factly. “She’s been a horrible influence on me.” Twilight then laughed when Sunset grinned. She then asked, “Is it time?”

“Would I wake up at four in the morning for any other reason?”

“Tell her I said hi,” Twilight yawned as she turned back over. “The rest of us can swing by later. I’m going back to bed now.”

A couple of hours later, Sunset held a tiny life in her arms. So small and beautiful, with a tiny shock of sapphire-blue and spring-green hair. She opened her eyes, revealing cornflower-hued eyes that looked up at Sunny with the wonder only a new life beheld.

You have your father’s eyes, Sunset thought. And I’m sorry you won’t ever know him. But you won’t ever know a day when you’re not loved, I promise. She then looked at the tired mother. “She’s beautiful, Blossom.”

Blossomforth tiredly looked over at Sunset. “Little Sunny is just as beautiful as her auntie.” When Sunset looked at her friend, Blossom gave a beatific smile. “I was serious about what I said earlier: if you were a guy, I would have tried very hard to make you my boyfriend. You’re everything Flash wasn’t, and it’s not hard to see why both Rose and Pinkie are in love with you. If I swung that way, I probably would be, too.”

Sunset looked at her friend. “You’re delirious, you know that?”

“No, I’m serious. There’s something…well, I guess you could say, ‘perfect’ about you. You’re the perfect girlfriend, and the perfect friend. I wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t for you.”

“Now I know you’re kidding. Did you forget that your parents have backed you up?”

“Yeah, I’m lucky that Dad was more interested in my condition than he was in being a fire-and-brimstone pastor. I guess me acting like a Preacher’s Daughter really brought it home for him. But again, I wouldn’t have the support I do if it wasn’t for you, Sunny. I really do owe you, which is why I named her Sunset Blossom and why I couldn’t ask anyone else to be her godmother.”

“I’m honored,” Sunset said, touched. “I really am.”

“It’s an honor just to have you be there for her. And me.” The bed-ridden girl yawned. “Now, given that I feel like I’ve run a marathon, I need some sleep. Would you mind staying a little longer until my parents get here?”

“No, go right ahead,” Sunset assured her. “I’ll watch the little bundle of joy until then.” Sunset was sure that Blossom hadn’t heard her, as she heard dozing the moment she finished her sentence. She turned, and sure enough, Blossomforth was out like a light.

Sunset then looked at her goddaughter. The term didn’t exist in Equestria, though the concept did; as a pony, Sunset would have been called a loveguard and the baby a loveward. Just as with humans, it was an important role of honor, and one the alicorn felt she couldn’t shirk. It was just too solemn a choice and one that she could respect Blossomforth’s wishes for.

Then, as she looked into the child’s blue eyes, she thought she saw something…and then Sunset Looked. Deep within Sunset Blossom’s soul, a tiny mote of spellfire burned within, showing the child’s capability for magic. The look of surprise on Sunset’s face was one she fought to keep off, lest someone misunderstand.

“I will protect you, little one,” Sunset told her softly. “If your powers are true, then I will nurture them. I hope they aren’t; I hope you have a normal life and grow up to be a normal girl. But if that is not in the cards, then I will make sure you will be as normal as you can be.” Sunset kissed the child on the forehead, and a flicker of the alicorn’s magic went into the child. “But until that time, just be a beautiful little bundle of joy for your mother. Be beautiful and better than your father. And I will be here for you, no matter what.”

The young woman held the child in her arms, humming the Celestial Lullaby to her until her grandparents arrived to take over. Sunset explained a few things, and with their thanks and gratitude to the teen, she left the newly-expanded family to get to know one another.

She stepped out of the room, yawning. She didn’t need sleep anymore, but she appreciated it as much as the next person. And another thing she appreciated as well, something she felt she needed – coffee. As she walked down the hall towards the elevators, she hoped the hospital’s cafeteria was open so she could grab a cup and maybe breakfast there before heading home; with her extended powers, she probably could have just summoned a cup, but where was the fun in that ? She had several last-minute things to do before she was going to spend the day with her “birth family”, and be told all the ins and outs of Shimmer’s biological family, something she figured she was going to need to know before the adoption.

The elevator took forever, and as Sunset got in, she wondered what else was going to happen today.


The teen looked over to see a familiar girl with tan skin, twin-tone green hair and brown eyes looking at her.

“Garden? What are you doing here?” Sunset asked. “And…why are you in hospital scrubs?”

Garden Variety sighed. “It’s a long story. You headed to the café?”

“Yeah, I need some coffee,” Sunset admitted.

“Same here. You probably have some questions why I’m dressed like this.”

“The thought did cross my mind,” the teen admitted.

Garden sighed. “Fine. Let’s go talk.”

“So what’s the plan today?” Twilight asked the others as she came down. The triplets, Shimmer and Octavia were already downstairs, while Raspberry was nowhere to be found.

“Well, Shim and Sham want me to come into work for the new orientation,” Adagio said. “I guess the pizza place is almost ready to open up now, so they want to make sure I’m trained up as an assistant manager before we take on new waitresses.”

“I’m teaching the archery class at the Y today,” Aria said. “I’m also sure that cute guy from County is probably going to be there today. Hope he doesn’t screw up like last time.”

“Last time?” Shimmer asked her. “I’m guessing there’s a story there.”

Aria laughed. “Yeah. He’s taking the archery course just to try to get my attention even though he has no idea what he’s doing. Last time he tried to act cool in front of me and nearly shot an arrow into his foot.”


“Yeah. Lucky for him he was wearing zoris and the arrows are blunt, so no harm done. Even still, it punched through the rubber, so I think he got the point. Uh, no pun intended.”

“What about you, Soni?”

“I don’t have anything going on, why?”

“Tavi and I were thinking about going over to Bonnie’s place today and see if they’ll have that ‘special project’ done in time for the adoption. She said that she and her sister were going to be working on it, since it’s so important to everyone, but she wanted me to swing by and see how it’s going and if I have any advice.”

“Yeah, sure, count me in,” the youngest triplet replied. “I’d love to go.”

“Sorry, but I’m going to have to cancel out, as much as I’d love to go,” Octavia replied. “For one, your mom asked me to watch over Spike. Secondly, Razz has been depressed for the past few days ever since she found out about that thing that she refuses to talk about.”

“The picture in LA?”

“Yeah, that one.”

“I guess I should stay as well,” Shimmer said. “She could probably use some friends right now.”

Adagio scoffed. “No, what she could use is an ass-kicki—”

“ENOUGH!” Aria slammed her hands on the table, glaring at her older sister. “What the hell is your problem, Dagi? Razz is stuck here, probably permanently! She’s had to give up everything, and she’s had to go through hell in the past couple of days!”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, do you actually believe—”

Sonata glared at her sister. “Yes, we do. In fact, we have one who is like a sister to us, remember? We are fucking related to an alien, okay? So yes, I believe it.”

Adagio looked over the table at her family, who was all glaring at her. “Oh, so I’m the bad guy here?”

Twilight sighed. “Dagi…no one’s saying you have to be best buddies with her, okay? But be nice to her. Without her, we’d have been in a world of hell, if not straight-up dead. And I don’t have to remind you that she and Sunny might be the last of their kind. Sunny has us, so I don’t know how she’s reacted yet, but Razz….”

“I’m done.” She threw up her hands and got up from the table. “I have to go to work.”

“We’re not done talking about this,” Octavia said, clamping her hand down on her cousin’s.

“Remove it or you lose it,” she growled.

“So you’re going to treat me like Razz too, is that what you’re saying?” Octavia hissed. “I thought we were family!”

Adagio reacted as though she’d been slapped. Instead, a wounded look came over her face and she pulled away her hand from Octavia’s grasp. Murmuring a barely audible “Sorry” she headed towards the door, pausing only to grab her purse and keys. A few seconds later the rumble of a motorcycle could be heard as she took off.

Twilight sighed. “I’m…sorry you had to see that, Shimmer.”

“It’s okay. Trust me, I’ve seen much worse,” the teen replied.

“No, it’s not okay.” Aria looked at the door where her sister had been a few minutes ago. “We have to tell your parents, Twily. This has gone on long enough, and if we don’t do something, she’s going to come to blows with Razz. And then Aunt Velvet’s going to ground us all for not telling her sooner.”

“Okay, I will. Anyway, Shimmy, do you mind coming with us to Saigon Sweets? In the event that it might be tied to how Sunny looks, well….”

“Say no more,” Shimmer replied. “I don’t mind at all. Plus, that way I can pick up something special for my mom and Zephyr when they get here from Atlanta.”

“I’d completely forgotten about that,” Octavia replied. “You two still planning to go over the paperwork and whatnot with Sunset tomorrow?”

“We have to. She is my twin sister, after all,” Shimmer said with a slight grin. “In any case, the documents should be arriving at my uncle’s place tonight, which will give us time to read them.”

“Nothing bad, I hope.”

“No, I doubt it. My mother has already said she’s not going to contest the adoption, so if anything, the documents will say that she’s being written out of the formal family line of succession. They may give her a family stipend, especially given her ordeal, and she will be recognized as a princess of House Bonaparte, but she probably won’t have any say in how things are done familywise. If anything, the real problem is going to be hitting any minute now.”

“Any minute now?”

Shimmer nodded. “Yup. I got an email from several of my friends earlier this morning – the news is already all over the French media, and they’re asking repeatedly what my sister is like. And if they know I’m here in Canterlot, you can bet the press knows about it, too. Things might get a little hectic,” the teen said with a slight blush of embarrassment.

“How hectic?” Twilight asked.

“Oh, wow!” The shout came from Spike, who was by the front window. “Hey, check it out! There’s a bunch of news vans parked just outside the front gate!”

“What?” all the girls, save for Shimmer, said.

“Should’ve expected this,” she sighed. Taking a drink of her coffee, she explained. “Look, back at home, we’re not too big of a deal, any more than any wealthy person is here in San Palomino. But here, that princess part kicks in with extra importance – and I figure that the less scrupulous of the press in France will do anything for that exclusive, just like they would here.”

The two remaining SIRENs looked at each other, then back towards the hidden door to the SIREN lair beneath the home.

“No,” Twilight told them.


No. You know how my parents will get if you start shooting at journalists.”

The remaining triplets pouted. “We could use non-lethal rounds,” Aria suggested.

“Do you want my mom to ground you?”

“No,” she sighed.

“Then just drop it. We’ll call Shiny and see if he can get the ECSD to take care of it,” she said with finality.

“And here I thought my life as a princess was going to be the abnormal one,” Shimmer said with a laugh.

“I don’t….” Sunset looked at her with guilt. “I don’t know what to say, Garden.”

“I don’t need your pity,” she said in a tired voice. “I made that choice a long time ago, and I haven’t regretted it since. I love my son more than anything, and yes, I was stupid for getting pregnant when I was a teenager, and seeing Blossom going through the same thing just bothers me, especially since her parents were accepting. But I can’t take that back, and at this point, I don’t want to.”

“Yeah, but—”

“No, okay? I’ve finally gotten my life straightened out and I’m lucky that I was able to graduate high school while being an unwed mom. I’m also lucky that one of the teachers at school actually gave a fuck about me when I got kicked out of my parents’ place; Mrs. Wooden Desk has been a Godsend to put me up in one of her rooms at her place all these years and watch over Bramble when I’m working my second job.”

“Yeah, but—”

Garden sighed. “Sunset…look. I know what you’re going to say but let me remind you of something: you’re still a teenager. I’m an adult now, technically speaking. I’m nineteen, going to community college so that I can make a better life for me and my son and so I can pay back Mrs. Desk for the faith she had in me. Yes, it’s tough, and I’m glad I don’t live in Sunnytown or worse, ended up doing tricks or something. We all don’t have your luck.”

“My luck?”

“Don’t give me that shit, okay? I overheard the Cakes talking about you. For years, I thought you were lucky enough as is, some runaway that managed to snag themselves an adopted family in one of the richest suburbs in the country. You don’t have to work for shit, yet you do. Maybe it’s so you can impress your two girlfriends? Not judging or anything, but seriously, you should just sleep with them and get it over and done with, because they’re constantly using their eyes to peel your clothing off.”

Sunset sighed; she was never going to live down what she did with Pinkie in the heat of the moment, even if it wasn’t public knowledge. “Look, I’m straight and—”

“I don’t care if you are or you aren’t; that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about when we first met, I thought you were some runaway with a chip on your shoulder. In this past year, you’ve gone from that to being the girl the Cakes rely on, the girl that gets adopted by a TV celebrity scientist and his wife, the Cakes’ niece wants to fuck your brains out, the other girl in the café wants to do the same, and I suspect Blossom would as well if she were gay; and now that shit I heard the Cakes talking about the other day – that you’re a Goddamn French princess – a literal princess?” Garden sighed. “I swear, if this wasn’t real life, I’d think you were some contrived cartoon character refugee from a girl’s show, because there is no way this shit would be normal otherwise. Next thing I’m going to turn around and find out that you’re secretly a unicorn or something.”

Sunset nearly choked on her coffee at those words.

Garden groaned. “Look, I’m not jealous or anything – well, not much, but you get the point. The point is that we all don’t have whatever lucky dice you have and we all can’t have perfect lives. Even with the help of Mrs. Desk, I still have to work two jobs because it would be unfair of me to make her pay for everything for Bramble, even though she’s offered more than enough times. As it is I’m lucky as fuck that my parents merely threw me out of the house for getting knocked up. If they were any more Old Country, they’d probably have shoved my ass on the first plane back to Pakistan to marry some second cousin I never met and have to spend the rest of my life as his living blow-up doll. As it is, they want nothing to do with me and I’m fine with that. Hell, even if they do, they’re never going to find me.”

“Changed your name, I take it?”

“What, you think some girl born in Karachi has an English name like ‘Garden Variety’? No, I changed it when I was eighteen. I was originally born as Jotnay Wala, which technically would make my name translated as Cultivar. But when I got kicked out, I went with Garden Variety because it’s a play on words that also means ordinary. And when I became a legal adult, I made that my name. I also dye my hair so that I don’t look like I used to.”

It was then that Sunset noticed the burnt-pumpkin orange of Garden’s eyebrows…and thus original hair color. “Contacts, too?”

“Yeah. Purple contacts make my eyes look brown. Normally they’re citrine in color.” She took a look at her coffee cup and groaned. “Shit. Look, I gotta get home so I can study for a test so that way I can get to work at the Café in time.”

Sunset, however, wasn’t letting go easily. “Look, you’re in hospital scrubs right now which means that—”

“Yes, I’m a janitor on the overnight shift,” Garden finished. “And if you’re going to ask if I’ve slept, the answer is no, I haven’t. But it’s not like I drive or anything; can’t even afford a car even with two minimum wage jobs…well, technically one minimum wage and the fact that the Cakes pay decently, but even still. Thankfully, I’ve mastered sleeping on the bus.”

Sunset sighed. “Look, Garden….”

“Sunset.” The older girl looked at the younger. “Don’t. I know what you’re going to suggest, and no. I rely on Mrs. Desk too much as it is, even though she’s practically my kid’s de facto grandmother at this point. Making up with my parents is out of the question; they’re not jihad-happy Muslims, but they were enough to kick my ass out of the house. And the father of the child? He’s…gone. Just up and vanished on me, and I don’t care. My son is my son, not his. So unless you’re going to break out in some random song routine like life is some kind of Disney film – and that would be weird as fuck if you did – my life is as it is. Some of us don’t get the lucky rolls of the dice. Some of us have to make our own luck.”

“I think you should tell the Cakes.”

“And what, have them take pity on me? I’ll be honest: I know they’re going to give you the assistant manager slot at the San Palomino store. And I know that they’re going to want to keep me at the main store as the senior waitress. And I know while that’s going to be a bump in pay, it’s not enough to let me quit this second job. So yes, I am jealous as fuck that you, some girl two years younger than me, is getting that break, okay? But I don’t hate you for that, and I don’t want the Cakes to take pity on me because I fucked the wrong guy. It just means that I have to work harder to get what I want so that way I can make a better life for me and Bramble, and so I can pay back Mrs. Desk.”

Sunset looked at Garden, but unbeknownst to the older girl, Sunset wasn’t looking at her. No, Sunset was looking at herself…or rather, a version that she could have been if she hadn’t been as lucky. She had no one to turn to in this world when she’d arrived, and her sexual relationship with Flash could have gotten her in serious trouble, as it had Blossomforth. Would she have had the strength to do what Garden was doing? Or would she have ended up in a worse situation than Sweet Pea had, with no one to turn to and weighed down by a half-human child? The thoughts tore at her, but she had no answer and only endless questions.

“Look, I gotta get going, okay? Just…please don’t tell them. I don’t want anyone’s pity.”

“Well, then will you accept a ride?” Sunset offered. “Probably easier to sleep in my car than it is on a bus.”

“Yeah, and I don’t have to worry about waking up to find some old perv next to me feeling me up,” Garden admitted wearily. “That was not fun, let me tell you.”

Octavia carried breakfast up to the guest room. “Razz? You up?”

“Yeah, come in,” came the muffled response.

Octavia opened the door and walked in to find Raspberry, without clothing and looking over herself in a mirror. “Razz, I’m flattered, but I’m straight. Besides, I already had to turn down one girl earlier this year.” When Raspberry looked at her oddly, Octavia said, “Nevermind,” and put the tray on the table.

“Oh, you mean….”

“Yes. Do you mind putting some clothing on?”

“Sure. It’s just that….”

“Stop. I know what you’re going to say and all I’m going to say is that you live here now, for as long as you need to. Uncle Night and Aunt Velvet already said you belong. And if for some reason it stretches credibility to have yet another teenage girl living in this house, didn’t Ms. Luna offer you the spare bedroom at her place?”

“Yes, but….” She plopped on the bed, reclining in a way that was just a little bit provocative.

“Okay, now you’re doing that on purpose.”

“Doing what?”

“Lying like that. I don’t know what it means in pony terms, but in human terms that is a blatant female sexual come-on.”

Raspberry blushed. “Uh….”

Octavia passed her a pair of pajamas. “Please.”

Raspberry put them on without complaint. “I’m sorry. As you can guess, I’ve still got a lot of learning to do if I’m going to be here permanently.”

“Are you giving up?”

“I don’t want to. I want to go home, okay? I want to see my family and friends again! No offense, but I hate living here as a human being! I think about that woman – that poor pegasus mare – who was stuck living the rest of her days, forced to marry some guy she didn’t know, have kids with him and—”

Octavia sighed. “I have no idea why you and Dagi hate one another. You’re both stupid as fuck, you know that?”


“Razz, I get that you’re afraid of losing everything. But that doesn’t give you the right to project yourself onto others. Yes, if what that thing said is true, neither you nor Sunset were the first of your kind to be stuck here. And yes, she probably had no hope of getting back and had no choice but to settle in rural Mexico. But you know what? She had a child with him. Not a child forced on her by him, but a child with him. A child that she raised with love and was loved enough to have a child of his own, one that old woman loved and confided her greatest secret in, because he was family. And even if he didn’t believe it, he knew his grandmother loved him enough that she was proud to be his grandmother. I suspect if you could have spoken to her and told her what you were and offered her a chance to go home? She might not have. Home is where you make it.”

Raspberry sat up. “Why do you say that?”

“Because I have five sisters despite the fact that I’m technically an only child. Because one of my sisters is an alien and she’s the most human person I have ever met. Because even when I’m at my worst, my sisters won’t ever let me down. Because that’s what family is, and what family makes it. You told me you were adopted and that your adopted family loves you far more than your birth one ever did. So I ask you: if you know that, what gives you the right to not only forget that…but to blatantly assume that of others?”

Raspberry looked at her and buried her face in her hands. Octavia went over and hugged the other girl, the two of them sitting there for the longest time. Finally, Raspberry wiped her eyes and said, “Thanks. I needed that.”

“Hey, what are friends for, okay? Now, c’mon, I need to go buy some new strings for my instruments and I figure we can stop for chocolates over at Saigon Sweets and meet up with the others, okay?”

“Chocolate’s fine by me.”

“Also, if you do that again I’ll drop a line to Sunset’s ex-boyfriend and tell him you’re on the meat market, got that?”

“Look, I told you I’m going to try to stick it out as a vegetarian as long as I….” The deadpan stare from Octavia made her stop. “I take it ‘meat market’ means something different this time?”

Octavia laughed. “You’re hopeless, you know that?”

“Listen, sugarcube, Ah don’t mean t’ pry in Twi’s business or nothing,” Applejack said, “but it’s mighty funny that she’s got a colfriend out of nowhere.”

Divine Right facehoofed. “What?”

“Well, I for one think it’s lovely,” Rarity said. “I’ve personally always suspected that her highness has had, ahem, ‘plans’, as it were, for us, so I suspect it would make sense to pair the most eligible bachelorette in all of Equestria with a minor prince. But I would hope that the princess would find me a more suitable match after that debacle with that cur, Blueblood.”

“What?” Divine said again.

“And I would hope that she would find somepony to match Pinkie’s, er, ‘exuberant’ nature. Personally, I don’t think that Fluttershy or Rainbow will need paramours of their own, given that the latter has her eye on that dashing young Wonderbolt – Soarin’, I believe his name is? – and our dear lovely Fluttershy is already an item with Discord—”

“Rarity, Ah don’t know why you think Shy an’ Discord are an item,” the farmmare said.

“Oh, but it is elementary, my dear Applejack. And of course we mustn’t forget you! Some strong, strapping young stallion who can keep up with you and this farm. Of course,” she teased, “finding one that isn’t an Apple already is going to be a challenge, is it not?”

The stallion present looked at the two mares. “What in Equestria are you two talking about?”

“Oh, please, you don’t have to hide it from me, my good sir. It is obvious! Capt. Stormbreaker has to suddenly be recalled to Canterlot on extended business to be replaced by a handsome young lieutenant who is also a minor prince? And after our dearest Twilight is suffering the twin arrows of pain and frustration, both from the reconstruction of our town and the extended duties she must take care of because Princess Celestia is on, ahem, ‘extended convalescence’? It is clear that our dear Princess Luna feels that Twilight must step up her duties, as it were, and I suppose that means royal issue.”

His eyes widened. “What?”

She patted him on the shoulder. “Well, isn’t it obvious? There aren’t many stallions in Ponyville and the few that are, are for the most part either taken or too young to think of such things. Ergo, Luna would have to import a fine, strapping male as yourself.” Rarity gave him a dazzling smile. “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but if things do not work out between you and Twilight, I myself am available.”

“Rarity, did you just say you would try to steal Twi’s coltfriend?” Applejack asked her.

Rarity suddenly froze. “That, er, did come out wrong, didn’t it? I apologize, good sir. Twilight is like a sister to me and I assure you, I would never do such a heinous thing to her!”

Divine facehoofed. “Why me?” he asked nopony in particular.

“Hey, Div!” The unicorn looked up to see a cobalt-blue batpony mare soar down to see him. “Good thing I ran into you!”

“Oh, hello, Stormbreaker!” Rarity said to the batpony. “How was Canterlot?”

Stormbreaker shrugged. “Eh, it is what it is. You know. ‘Sides, I prefer being back in Ponyville anyway. Smell of apples in the air is something you just don’t get out of your system.”

Applejack grinned. “You sure you’re not an Apple, Stormy?”

“Heya, Stormy,” Divine said to Stormbreaker. “You’re back earlier than expected. Thought you wouldn’t be back for at least another week.”

“Yeah, well, things change,” she told him. “You got a moment?”

“Sure, I’m just being interrogated by Twilight’s courtiers is all,” he drolled.

She laughed. “Rarity, Div here isn’t dating anypony, okay? He’s here on temporary assignment because I had to head back to Canterlot on personal business.”

“I thought you said they were going to send over Lt. Stonewall?”

“Apparently she got married last month, and she’s on her honeymoon right now. Fortunately, Div here was willing to cover for me.” She then turned to him. “And apparently you’re going to have to cover a little longer. Like permanently.”

“Permanently?” he asked.

“Yup. Look, my mom is really sick, but she doesn’t want to stay in the hospital up in Canterlot anymore. The doctor said that what she has isn’t going to kill her or anything, but she’s going to need some more time convalescing. So I spoke to the vice captain, and she cut me a deal. Because of all that shit that happened with the Tirek thing, the Guard’s got orders to expand its garrisons in places that the Army or Navy aren’t located, and one of those is a new garrison located just outside my mom’s hometown.”

“Which is?”

“Small little seaside town in the west known as Nightshade. Town’s known for its pecan farms, but the place makes Ponyville look like Manehattan in size. Anyway, I came back to clear out my room at the castle, give my new orders to the princess, and then to debrief you. Until they get a new commander for the guard division here, you’re it.”


“Y’ seem awfully fond of that word, Lieutenant,” Applejack noted. “He’s been sayin’ it all day,” she explained to Stormbreaker.

She patted him on the back with her wing. “You’ll be fine, Div. ‘Sides, didn’t you tell me once you had the hots for Twi? That she’s got a cute flank?”

“AHA!” Rarity said triumphantly. “I knew it!”

“When did I say that?” he asked, glaring at Stormbreaker.

In reply, the batpony grinned. “Hey, not my fault you talk too much when you’ve had too much cider to drink.” Stormbreaker looked at Rarity. “Why I remember this one time you were telling Stampede that you wanted to hook up with that researcher out in West Canterlot – what was her name? Moonprancer? Sundancer or something like that? – because she looked a lot like Twi and you really liked her plot—”

Divine covered Stormbreaker’s mouth. “I think we need to go over the classified documents so I can get you out of here in time. We really shouldn’t keep you waiting here. After all you have to get your mom out to Nightshade, right?” He looked at the two other mares with embarrassment. “Ladies, I’d love to keep talking, but the good captain and I have business to discuss, so I’ll see you both later!” With that, he dragged the mare off.

The two mares watched for the longest time as the two officers receded into the distance.

“So…you think Luna or Cadance is trying t’ fix them up?” Applejack asked.

“I would hope it’s Cadance,” Rarity said. “No offense meant to our dear friend Luna, but I would think that Cadance has a better idea of what we’re all looking for in stallions than Luna does.”

The minute Sunset pulled up to the Sugarcube Corner Café, she realized she knew she had no idea what she was going to tell the Cakes, but her mind was made up. Garden needed the job far more than she did. Even though she felt she would be disappointing the Cakes, she knew she had to do it. The guilt of her own fortune gnawed at her, and she wasn’t sure of what to say.

As she rounded the corner to head to the parking lot, she noted the presence of newsvans. A lot of newsvans. Wondering what was up, she opted to go around the block and park over by the print shop. She could walk over and hopefully the extra time would help her compose what to say—

She felt lips on hers. Backing up, she saw Pinkie standing there, a smile on her face. “Hi, babe,” she said.

“Uh, hi, Pinkie, I….”

Pinkie snuggled up closer to Sunset and giggled. “I’ve missed you, you know that? I haven’t seen you in a whole couple of days!”

“Pinkie, it’s been just two days, okay?”

“Yes! Federal law states somewhere that as my girlfriend, we’re supposed to spend a lot of time together giggling and cuddling and making out – especially that last part – until the initial passion wears off. Then we can be more like a normal couple!”

“Pinkie, I….” Aria’s words from the other day suddenly hit Sunset like a hammer: you have a girlfriend now, whether you want one or not. “Pinkie, we’re not—”

“I know, it’s going to be kind of awkward to tell my aunt and uncle, since they don’t even know I’m bi,” she sighed. “But look, aside from that, I’m glad I caught up with you. You really don’t want to be here right now. Those newsvans are looking for you, and I kinda think you’d want to avoid that right now.” She grinned. “Let’s go back to my place and make out! That should take some of the stress off you and me, right?” Pinkie went over to Sunset’s car. “Or maybe we could go somewhere for lunch. I hear the café at ECMAH has a great chicken panini.”

“Pinkie, listen to me, okay. Just because we kissed—”

“You kissed?” Sunset suddenly froze at those words, realizing she’d said them aloud. She turned to find Rose standing there, a shocked look on her face.

“Rose, it’s not like that,” Sunset began to explain, realizing she was already well over her head and sinking fast.

“Oh, yeah,” Pinkie said cattily, sliding her hand around Sunset’s waist. “Babe and I are a couple! Declared our love under moonlit skies in La-la-land and everything! Too bad, so sad for others, huh?”

“Sunny!” Rose said, a betrayed look coming over her face. “How could you?”

Sunset looked at her wondering what she was going to say to get out of this one and at what point did her life turn into a demented harem anime. “Rose, listen to me. There’s nothing going on—”

Rose didn’t let her explain, instead immediately locking lips with Sunset. “I bet she can’t make you feel like a woman like I can,” Rose said breathily.

Pinkie narrowed her eyes. “Rose, get your hands off my girl or I will put my hands on you and the next hands you feel after that are going to be a surgeon’s.”

Rose glared back. “I saw her first! I have known her since second grade, you hussy!”

“Oh, you really don’t want to piss me off, you bitch,” Pinkie snarled back.

“Girls!” Sunset pled. “In case both of you forgot, those newsvans are looking for me and your little argument might just get them to look around the corner!” At that, the two immediately stopped.

“Truce?” Pinkie quickly offered. “You might be a bitch, but I won’t risk my girl to the wolves.”

“She’s not your girl yet,” Rose insisted. “And I care about Sunny too much to let that happen.”

“Okay, in that case, let’s head back to my place and we can—” Pinkie’s phone immediately went off and Pinkie answered it. A quick phone call happened and she sighed. “Great, just great.” She looked at Sunset with sad eyes. “Look, sweetie, I hate to do this, but Auntie Cup needs me to head home to watch the twins while she heads back to the café to play damage control. And given how close our house is to here, it might not be a good idea to head to my place.”

Rose squeed. “So, I get to take you on a date!” she said, wrapping her hands around Sunset’s arm. “C’mon, let’s go!” She reached down to squeeze Sunset’s butt.

Pinkie blocked that. “Keep your hands to yourself. I trust my girl. I don’t trust you.” She looked at Sunset apologetically and then kissed her. “Sorry babe, but duty calls. But keep in mind I’m thinking of you, okay?”

“Um…okay?” Sunset stammered, not sure of what else to say. “C’mon, Rose, let’s head to the museum.”

“Oh, I love the museum! Especially ECoPop! Have you been there?” Rose asked.

“No, I haven’t—”

“Then let’s go!” she said. She then turned back to Pinkie and cattily called back, “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure her lips stay nice and warm!”

“Don’t make me regret letting you breathe, Rose,” Pinkie said in a dark tone that surprised Sunset.

What the hell have I gotten myself into? Sunset asked herself as she got back into her car.

“This is beautiful, Bonnie,” Twilight told Bon-Bon. “I am honestly impressed.”

“Yeah, my babe works wonders, doesn’t she?” Lyra said, looking wistfully at a tray of chocolate nonpareils that had yet to leave the kitchen and head for the storefront.

“You can have one,” Bon-Bon said without looking at Lyra.

“Did I mention she’s psychic, too?” Lyra said, gleefully taking more than one.

“You are so lucky my parents absolutely adore you,” Bon-Bon said with a laugh.

“I’ve always wondered how that works,” Sonata asked. “I mean, aren’t your older brother and sister already dating or something?”

“Oh, yeah, Harper and Burgundy got engaged back in November,” Lyra told them.

“And your parents are okay with you two dating as well?” A sudden silence came over the two, and Sonata looked at them oddly.

Shimmer picked up on it instantly. “They don’t know, do they?”

To their surprise, Lyra turned away. Bon-Bon answered. “My parents love her dearly – love us dearly, and they’re okay with us seeing each other. But Lyra’s parents…let’s just say they think we’re good friends and leave it at that, okay?”

“How bad?”

“Bad enough that my parents would likely put me in conversion therapy if they found out,” Lyra told them. “One time we stayed out late and I lied and told them I went out with a guy, and my mom was thrilled because she was ‘genuinely’ afraid I might be a sybarite. She then told me that if I got pregnant by my boyfriend, she would be disappointed in me, but at least that would be better than being a dyke!” Lyra’s fists clenched. “I swear, I hate her for that.”

“Sweetie,” Bon-Bon said, “I’ll stand with you all the way, as will my family. And you know Trixie and hers will too.”

“I know,” she sighed. “Just gotta hold out until we’re adults and then I can blow that popsicle stand for good.” The two held one another, and Twilight, looking at them, couldn’t help but feel anger for her friends.

“We could come back later if you need to sort something out,” Sonata offered.

“It’s okay. We deal,” Lyra insisted. “Besides, this is about Sunny’s big moment and I’m not going to let my problems with my parents ruin that.”

“But from what I showed you, it’ll be ready in time for the reception at your place. I am surprised that you didn’t have Sunset’s work prepare it.”

“Pinkie’s got some other surprises planned for Sunny, I’m sure,” Twilight told her.

“Ones that can be shared in public, hopefully?” Bon-Bon teased.

“I sure as hell hope so.”

The Equestria County Pop Art Museum, better known as ECoPop, was located in the Eastwick neighborhood of Canterlot. Nestled in part of the older section of that district, the modernist building stood out amongst the older brick facades like a sore thumb, with its neon-blue ribbon wrapping around the aluminum-clad building and practically screaming for attention. The outdoor displays did as well, including the life-size Robotech mecha replica that was built there as part of the planned Northern California Museum of Science and Technology. The whole thing was garish, bright and in-your-face like no tomorrow.

And there Sunset was, sitting at the café, munching on a kale salad, remembering that she hated kale, but this was one of these “neo-fusion” places where artistic creativity meant more than actual food.

“So, Sunny, please be honest with me,” Rose began. “Are you and Pinkie an item?”

Sunset sighed. “No, Rose, we’re not an item, and I’m not seeing anyone.”

“But you said you kissed her!”

“I did, but…it was a mistake. I got caught up in the heat of the moment. Haven’t you had any situations like that?”

Rose nodded. “I have, and it’s nothing I won’t repeat.” She gave a soft, girlish smile, then, and said, “Does that mean—”

“Rose, I’m straight. I’m serious when I said that I kissed Pinkie in the heat of the moment. I could have just as easily done it if I was with Flash or anyone else.” A thought then came over her mind. “Besides, I’m rather disappointed in you. Even if I’m not dating Pinkie, I’m surprised you’re going after me. What would Berry think?”

The look that Sunset got back from Rose was a shock. “Who?” she asked.

“Boysenberry? Your girlfriend?”

“Sunny…you’re the first girl I’ve ever felt anything for. And I have no idea who Boysenberry is. Does she go to our school, or County, or….”

Sunset’s eyes widened. “She goes to Central Junior High! Or well, she did; she’s supposed to be an incoming freshman this year.”

“Sunny, why on earth would I date an eighth grader? Sure, I pal around with Giftwrap from time to time, but I’ve babysat her for years, so she kinda looks up to me like a big sister, but dating?” Rose shook her head and took a bite of her tofu burger. “Besides, you know I was dating Ward before…well, before we broke up.”

“Forward Pass? Berry’s older brother?”

“Sunny, Ward’s an only child. Are you sure you’re not confusing me with someone else? Maybe Roseluck? Although as I recall, she has a boyfriend she’s going out with right now as well….”

The serious look on Rose’s face set off alarm bells in Sunset’s mind. “Rose, please tell me you’re joking.”

“Sunny, I’m dead serious. Look, it hasn’t been easy coming to terms with my feelings about you. And it especially didn’t help that it cost me my relationship with Ward. But we have known each other since second grade, and it feels weird wanting to, ahem, ‘play house’ with someone you used to do so, but in an entirely different way, but—”

“Rose, this is going to come as a shock to you, but we didn’t meet until eighth grade.”

“But we went to school together when we were kids! I remember you distinctly.”

“No. You remember my twin sister.” Sunset then went and explained “the truth”, though she felt horrible about lying to Rose. Still, Rose could not be told the real truth, but she at least deserved to know what happened to the sad little girl she’d once played with as a child. And when Sunset was done, Rose sat back, completely dazed by the taller girl’s tale.

“So you really aren’t the Sunset Shimmer I grew up with?”

“No. That would be Shimmy – we both have the same names, though I suspect that was because Ms. Faustus came up with it coincidentally – though if you want, I could arrange for you two to meet. She does remember you fondly.”

“I…I think I’d like that. And…wow. You’re really a French princess?”

“I don’t know if I’d go that far, since the Imperial family is in pretense, not ruling, but yes, for all intents and purposes, I’m a princess.”

“I’m in love with a princess,” Rose said with a tone of wonder, which in turn set off even more alarm bells for Sunset.


“Sunset…please go out with me?” Rose asked. “I’m laying it out on the table. I fell for you hard, and I want to get to know you. Not just the girl I’m friends with, but a girl I respect and admire and have…feelings…for.” She blushed furiously, and it was all Sunset could do to not panic.

“Rose, I—”

“Don’t worry; I’m not going to pressure you like Pinkie. I suspect that hussy forced you into going out with her just because your friendship would be at stake, and I refuse to do that to someone I care about.” She leaned over and gave Sunny a kiss on the cheek. “And just to show you that I mean what I say, I’m going to get going now. You think about what I said, Sunny, because I meant every word of it. And I still do want to meet your sister, if just to rekindle our friendship.” Rose giggled girlishly. “Who knows? Maybe someday she might be my sister-in-law,” she added, giving a flirtatious wink to top it off as she left.

Sunset watched as Rose walked off towards the subway. After that, she looked at her kale salad, the rest of her lunch now unappetizing.

Two girls. I have two girls competing for my affection and I don’t want either – hell, I don’t want any of them!

Still, that wasn’t the thing that nagged at her the most. Reaching for her phone, she made a quick call.

“Hey, Sunset! Wasn’t expecting a call from you.”

“Hey yourself. You got time to meet? I have some questions I need to ask you.”

“Yeah, sure – you had lunch yet or anything? I’m about to take my lunch break in thirty minutes and we can meet then, if it’s cool with you.”

Sunset pushed aside the half-eaten bowl of kale. “Yeah, sure. You still working at the same place?”

“Yeah, kinda.”

“Okay, see you in thirty, then.”

“Shimmy, are you okay?”

Shimmer looked at her phone and there was something distinct about the absent look on her face.

“Yes and no, I guess. That obvious?”

Twilight smiled. “I know my sister, and she has the same look on her face that you do when she’s like that.”

Shimmer gave her a smile. “I guess that’s normal then, given that we’re both the same person.”

“You want to talk about it?”

“Yeah. I’ve…actually had a lot of fun here. A lot. And, if I’m honest…I’m a bit jealous. In this past week, I’ve gotten to know Sunny – really gotten to know her and…well, I wish we were sisters for real.”

“But you two are, aren’t you?”

“Yes, but it all goes away when I head back to France on Sunday.” Shimmer gave a wistful smile. “It’s been…nice. And although in this new timeline I’m going to be an older sibling to Zephyr’s kids, I haven’t actually met them yet, because they’ve been spending the summer with their mother.” She sighed. “Part of me wishes I could stay here, but I have my friends, my life, and yet….”

Sonata nodded. “I understand. I’d be personally lost without my sisters – and by that I mean both the ones I was born with and the ones I have now. I’m really not sure I would make it as an only child. So I totally get what you mean.” She looked at Sunset’s twin and said, “But here’s the thing you’re forgetting: Sunny’s, well, Sunny…if you ever need her, all you have to do is call and she will probably literally be there. Or if you ever need to come, she’d bring you by as well.”

Twilight nodded. “Yeah, it’s clear you adore her, and she cares about you as well. It doesn’t matter that you weren’t born sisters. You two are sisters, and trust me, Sunny takes sisterhood very seriously.”

Shimmer blushed. “Thanks, girls.” She then picked up the menu. “So, I guess I should just enjoy the time we have left then, right? So, lunch is on me, ladies. Any idea of what we want?”

“Twilight Sparkle? Sonata Dusk?” The two looked up to see an older girl approaching them, and as she did, they smiled.

“Pheo! It’s great to see you!” The two got up from their seats and hugged Phoenix Temple, the now-graduated senior from Zacherle, and currently a college student. The two quickly introduced Shimmer to Phoenix, and she was invited to join them at lunch, talking briefly about both sides and how they knew one another.

“So, she’s the twin sister of your adopted sister, Twily? Sounds like you’ve had a fun few years. Wish I could say the same.”

“Is everything okay, Pheo?” Sonata asked.

The older girl shook her head. “For me, yeah. That year of study I did overseas in Beijing was great, and I learned a lot about the Fujian green canary. Did you know that in Chinese mythology they were once believed to be baby phoenixes? Obviously that’s not true, but somehow the myth has persisted, and so the bird is considered a treasure of their nation.”

Twilight, Shimmer and Sonata all thought about Raspberry’s pet phoenix, and the fact that he looked like a green canary – somehow the world had made the odd connection, which was why Heliodor had become a canary instead of something else.

“Anyway, I came back and was ready to start working on my real passion: working on my teaching degree.” She grinned. “Did you know that as part of that, Mrs. Lemonade got me a part-time assistant teaching job at Zacherle?”

“Are we going to have to call you Ms. Temple now?” Sonata asked.

“Only during school hours. Anyway, I’m glad I ran into you. I heard you and Tavi were given Diva status. Light and I always knew you were going to get it. Well, Umi did as well, but she also wanted to sleep with Tavi, so let’s not get into that,” Phoenix said with a giggle. “Anyway, now that you’re Divas, I need a favor from you two.”

“Of course,” Twilight told her. “What can we do for you?”

“Well, to be honest, it’s not for me, but for my cousin. I don’t want to get into what happened, but her parents recently passed away and so she’s living with my grandparents right now – well, technically she’s living with me in the penthouse at our grandparents’ hotel, but you get the point. Anyway, they’ve decided to send her to Zacherle, so she’ll be incoming as a freshman, but obviously she’s new in town, so she doesn’t know anyone but me. And since I’ll be on faculty half the time and not there the rest, there’s only so much interaction I can have with her during school hours. If you can keep an eye on her for me and introduce her to some other students that might do her a world of good, I really would be appreciative.”

“I’ll see what we can do. When can we meet her?”

“I’ll introduce you the first day of school. Would that work?”

Twilight nodded. “Works for me, Pheo.”

“Thanks, Twily. You have no idea how much it would mean to me. Ribby really could use a friend right now.”

“As a Diva, I’m proud to be of service,” Twilight said solemnly.

“And even though I’m not one, you can bet my sisters and I will happily back Twily’s play,” Sonata said. “We owe you for sticking up for us in our freshman year, and we always pay our debts.”

“Welcome to Hinoiri Sushi!” a voice called out as Sunset walked into the place. As she walked in, she was hit with the various seafood scents of the sushi shop. Pleasant and clean, there was something about the place that made her feel at home for some reason. Likely, it was the name; Fluttershy had once pointed out that the name of the restaurant in English was Sunset Sushi. Either way, as much as she loved coming here, she was glad that she worked for Sugarcube Corner Café, because if she ever worked at a place like this, she’d probably get fat eating all the sushi.

As she sat down, a few seconds later, a green tea and a sushi boat was placed in front of her. She looked up to see Forward Pass, Canterlot High’s star quarterback, wearing the Hinoiri Sushi uniform and setting an identical boat and a Coke down across from her. “I hope you didn’t mind,” he said to her as he sat down. “I figured I’d make it easy. It’s on me, really.”

“Thanks, Ward,” Sunset told him.

“Well, I guess I should wonder how you have my phone number,” he began. “I mean. At first I thought you got it from Flash, given that he and I used to be friends, but then….” He shook his head. “Look, it’s not important. It’s just funny though, you know?”

“Why’s that?”

The look on his face was sad. “I love Rose. I mean, we’ve known each other for years, and we’d been dating since freshman year. And then when I found out that she was bi? I said…. Look, I said some stupid things, and it cost me my relationship with her. Yeah, sure, I’m the star of the football team and shit, and could probably get any girl I wanted, but I had the girl I wanted. And now here I am, talking to the girl that I lost her to.” He chuckled, but it didn’t sound like a happy one. “I guess that makes you a better man than me. Er, no offense.”

“None taken,” Sunset assured him. “What did you tell her?”

“I was angry and jealous and told her that maybe if she wanted you that much, that I could get my hands on the Vibe and get both of you so we could….” He saw the sudden look of rage in her eyes and he waved his hands in placation. “Look, Sunset, I never meant that! I broke off my friendship with Flash because I was disgusted by what he did to all those girls, okay? You know I knew him for years, but after I found out what he was really like, I dumped his ass to the curb!”

Sunset saw the genuine look on his face and relented. She felt the brief flash of an infodump hit her and then she suddenly recalled that in this timeline he and Flash had known one another for the longest time, although in the timeline she once remembered, they never actually crossed paths.

Sunset took a deep breath and said, “Okay, I believe you. It’s just….” Sunset then explained what Flash had done to Twilight, as well as what he’d done to Blossomforth. When she was done, the look on Forward’s face was one that convinced Sunset he was genuine in his attitude.

“Fuck…I wish I’d known that; I would have kicked his ass for that, Sunset. I’m sorry. ” He sighed and took a drink of his Coke, then continued. “Anyway, I was stupid, okay? I love Rose, and us being broken up all this time? I haven’t seen anyone else, because I don’t want anyone else. Yeah, like I said, I could probably bed some hot cheerleader like Turnabout or even your friend Pinkie, but…I love Rose for who she is. Gentle and sweet and I don’t care that she likes you. I want her back, but I guess you two are dating now?”

“No, I’m straight, so I can assure you I’m not dating her. Although, you should consider how you talk to her. She is a friend of mine regardless, Ward, and if you truly love her, then you need to talk to her directly.” Sunset diplomatically chose to leave out that she would be very appreciative if he did, if only to get one unwanted suitor off her back.

Forward looked relieved. “Really? That takes a load off my mind, Sunset. Thanks!”

“No problem, but Ward, I really didn’t come here to talk to you about Rose.” When he looked at her oddly, he said, “I came to ask you about your kid sister.”

The look on his face was one of confusion. “I…I don’t have a sister, Sunset. I’m an only child.”

“I thought you have a sister by the name of Boysenberry?”

“No, not at all. Admittedly, I have a cousin named Blackberry Compote, but she lives down in Texas and she’s way older than me. Why do you ask?”

Sunset suddenly had an idea, one that hadn’t come to her earlier. She reached into her purse and within, cast a spell, opening a slight portal to her bedroom. She then cast a second spell and withdrew a picture that she’d received a long time ago: one of Rose and Boysenberry, from the old timeline. Somehow, the picture had survived, and at the time, Sunset hadn’t thought much of it, other than some pride that she’d created a happy couple. But now….

“Does this look familiar?” she asked Forward as she handed him the photo.

He looked at the picture. “No, not at all. Unless….” He looked at her oddly. “Are you suggesting Rose cheated on me? I mean, this girl looks a bit young, and I know Rose. She wouldn’t cheat on me, Sunset! I know she wouldn’t.”

“No, she’s….” Sunset felt the rising panic sink its claws into her, but she kept calm. “No, I thought the girl was your sister. At least, that’s what Rose told me. And I know Rose wouldn’t cheat on you.” Especially since that’s her girlfriend! I know that, because I fixed them up together!

He handed the picture back to her. “No, like I said, I’m an only child. It’d be nice to have a sibling I guess, but I don’t know.”

Sunset suddenly felt as though she’d been slapped, although she kept the look off her face. Taking a drink of her tea with hands she forced to stop shaking, she gave Forward a smile and continued to talk to him about other things, some of which were about Rose, a girl who he’d hated for dating his sister…and now was in love with, given he’d dated her. The fact that he had been so dismissive of the picture meant that there were more questions than answers, but in the end, only one answer was clear.

Boysenberry, a sweet young girl, was dead.

Worse, she never existed.

And it was Sunset’s fault.

Sunset finished up her lunch with Forward, barely able to face the brother of the girl who had never existed, promising she would talk to Rose on his behalf, much to his clear relief. She also assured him he could call her if she needed further advice. Finally, he had to go back to work and saw her off. She managed to make it to her car before breaking down in tears, unable to take it.

So many girls that had died because of Divine Right, and none of that was her fault, she knew. But Boysenberry had been a friend, and now she was gone. And that blood was on Sunset’s hands. Because Sunset needed to be safe, an innocent girl had become a sacrifice.

Sunset chose to teleport both herself and her car home, unable to drive…and much to the shock of the guy getting into the car next to hers. He took a look at where the car had been a second ago, then at his car, then back to the empty parking space, then opted to get back out of his car and walk down the block towards the bar. He was going to need more than a few stiff drinks.

Twilight clicked on the smartphone she’d been given by Sunset as a gift. Right now the alicorn princess was in her human form as she stood before the portal. It let her be closer to her friends on the other side of the destroyed – no, temporarily separated – hole. Things in Equestria were reaching a crisis point. There had been another attack by Tirek fanatics, destroying several new buildings. It amazed her that there were so many…wrong-headed beings out there that would follow that mad centaur and his plans, but mixed in amongst the lifeless golems were other beings: kitsune, pandas, jaguars, goats, minotaurs…and even the occasional pony.

A discussion with Discord had her worried, because it had him concerned: he wasn’t sure how they came to be that way. He said it wasn’t chaos at work, that there was the feel of desperation behind it. And she understood that. With Celestia “in extended convalescence” and the world already into deepest winter when it should be late fall, it sometimes felt that the Princess of the Sun had abandoned the world. And to a degree, she had, though Twilight would never voice that personally.

She knew why, though. Celestia feared her daughter was dead.

Twilight refused to believe it, though. She’d already lost friends to this madness. She wouldn’t lose another.

And that was why she sat in front of the portal in human form, looking at Platinum’s Mirror, hoping for something, anything that would give her access to Earth once more. She wanted to see her friends. She wanted to meet her counterpart. She wanted something to feel like it was going right for once.

“Attempt 7635: will be attempting to send over a basket of Pinkie’s cupcakes, with a note for Sunny.” She looked at the basket, filled to the brim with cupcakes. “Personal note: I want to see my friends again. Sunny, I know you can’t hear this, but please be there. I don’t know how Celestia will fare if you’re truly dead. I don’t know how any of us will. But I know this much: you are one of my best friends. I miss you.”

Please, your majesty, she thought to Faust. If you’re merciful, we’re all suffering here. Your daughter is, most certainly. She needs her own daughter – your grandfoal. For the sake of the world, we need Sunny back.

Twilight went over and set the cupcakes in front of Platinum’s Mirror and cast the complex spell she’d been working on in order to get it to operate. Runes that both she and Luna had placed on the Mirror glowed in the colors of both Twilight and Luna’s own magic hues. Small magical circles began to flicker across its silvery surface, and something began to happen.

Twilight barely had time to dodge in her unfamiliar form before the jet of unrestrained, raw magic unleashed itself from the mirror, incinerating the cupcakes. And then the portal went still once more.

Twilight looked at the carbon-scored spot where the cupcakes had been…and where her failure, once again, was signed by ash. She screamed in frustration and broke down crying, unable to feel like she’d done anything of use anymore.

What good am I as a princess and an alicorn if I can’t save the ponies I love? If I can’t help my friends?

The human girl sat there, crying alone in a laboratory, with only her reflection in the mirror as a witness.

“Experiment 2206…failure,” Sunset said into her headset while her tablet recorded. “The flames have died down significantly, but the dragonfire candle is still pumping out raw interdimensional magic. I don’t know what happened to the letter I sent as a test.” She sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose, feeling a headache coming on.

“I can’t….” She ripped off the headset and threw it against the wall, screaming in frustration, then slumped in her chair.

“Sunny?” she looked up and saw Night knocking on the protective plexiglass, carrying a plate. Sunset waved her hand and a portal opened up, allowing him entry. “When you didn’t come up for dinner, I thought you might want some.”

Sunset looked at the clock on her tablet. “Sorry, Dad. Working on trying to send Razz back home still,” she sighed, “and nothing is working. I don’t want to give up, because I can’t.”

“No one is expecting you to,” he said as he set the plate down in front of his daughter. “But I don’t want you to wear yourself out. You’re only human, after all. Well, in a manner of speaking.”

“No, Dad, I’m more than that now.”

“No, you’re not. Look, I’m not going to get into theological arguments with you. I’m a scientist and Catholic and you could already say that my mind is split between those two realms without having to figure out the ramifications of an immensely powerful alien daughter. But that’s the rub, Sunny. You’re my daughter. I would hope that you’re always going to need your mother and I, no matter what.”

Despite her frustration, Sunset gave a wan smile. “Always, Dad,” she said, the love clear in her voice.

“So, can I convince you to at least eat if you’re going to be down here much longer?”

“Yeah, I probably should’ve gone up to eat with everyone else, but I needed the time alone to blow off some steam,” she sighed. “I guess I’ll go up and see what the girls are doing.”

“You don’t have to worry about that,” Night told her. “Luna came over earlier and took the girls out to pizza and the movies. Officially, I think she took them out so they wouldn’t have to deal with the newsvans.”

“Are they still there?”

Night nodded. “It’s already starting to hit the English-language news, sweetheart. You and Solaire will have to make some sort of statement tomorrow, I’m sure.”

“Not looking forward to that,” Sunset sighed.

“I know. But anyway, the other reason Luna was here, I suspect, is because she’s already thinking ahead of what will happen if you can’t get Razz back. You know that Luna offered her the chance to live with her, right?”

“Oh, that should be wild,” Sunset laughed. “From what you and Mom say, Ms. Luna is nothing like how she is at school.”

“As I’m sure you know, sometimes people are different in one location than they are in others, and the face we show one group might not be the same one we show others. She might be an old friend of the family, but because you are her student, she has to be different at school in order not to show favoritism.”

“I know.” She looked at the plate, and then at the office. “You know what, I need a break. Going to come upstairs and eat, then unwind.” She laughed. “I’m just a girl, after all. Can’t let my teenage years slip by, after all.” She blushed. “Well, a second time, anyway.” With that, she teleported her and her father upstairs to the house.

A second later, in the secure area, the statue that had once been in front of Canterlot High School flickered with various energies, and a second later, a basket of cupcakes popped out of a magical portal, which quickly disappeared. A second later, the dragonfire candle flared to life, and the flames licked the edge of Sunset’s tablet, vaporizing it in an instant and turning it into green sparks of nothingness.

“Thanks for taking us to the movies,” Raspberry said to Luna as the two sat by the fountain, eating ice cream. Luna had asked that the other girls give them some space, as the two needed to talk. “Seeing basically oversized television is a new experience, that’s for sure.”

“Yes, Sunset said they didn’t have movies in Equestria,” Luna commented.

“Well, they do, but it’s a nascent form of entertainment. Nothing like what you guys have here, that’s for sure.”

“I see. Razz, I know we haven’t discussed it much, but….”

Raspberry was quiet for the longest time as she finished off her cone. “If I give up going home…I give up being me. Please don’t take offense when I say this, but I don’t like this world. I don’t fit in and I don’t think I ever will. I feel uncomfortable being human, and I can’t see why Sunny is so comfortable with it. Maybe it’s because that’s her destiny as the Alicorn of Earth, but it’s not mine. And I don’t like it.”

“I know, but if you can’t get home….”

“I just felt I had to tell you. You of all people would understand that, I suspect.”

Luna nodded, recalling her teenage years when she had that “Nightmare Moon” alter-ego that let her cope with being an outsider. “It’s why I offered to take you in. Because I do understand. And I know it’s not going to be easy for you.”

“I just want to go home.” Raspberry started crying, and Luna hugged the girl close. “I just want to go home.”

“I know, dear, I know. But I promise if you can’t…you’ll always have a home with me.”

Watching a distance away, even Adagio felt sorry for Raspberry. “I hate that bitch,” she admitted to her family, “but if I could send her home, I would. No one deserves that.”

Shimmer looked at Adagio with surprise. “I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said about her.”

“Yeah, well, I know as well as you what it’s like being a stranger in a strange land – I was born Canadian, after all. But at least this is my home and I have a choice, as ephemeral as it is. I have a feeling that as much as she hates being human…that cunt is going to have to deal with it until the end of her life. That’s absolute torture, and I wouldn’t wish torture on even my worst enemy.”

“Really, sis?” Sonata asked her.

Adagio watched as Luna stroked Raspberry’s hair and comforted the heartstruck girl. “Well, I’m watching what probably is my worst enemy now, and…no. I wouldn’t wish that on her.”

Sunset stood on an empty grassy field, the sky gray and overcast.

“Sunny? I don’t feel so good.” Sunset turned around and there was Boysenberry, the spunky girl that had captured Compass Rose’s heart. But she looked sad.

“Berry, are you okay?”

She shook her head. She opened her mouth to say something, but words never came out. Instead, she began to disintegrate before Sunset’s eyes, and she began to panic.

“BERRY, NO!” Sunset reached out to her, but her hand passed through where the girl had been standing just a second ago. The last thing she saw of Boysenberry was the girl’s terrified eyes, begging for Sunset to save her, pleading for the Alicorn of Earth to rescue her…

…but there was no rescue. And Sunset stood alone in an expansive, endless field.


She woke up with a start, soaked with sweat and her heart pounding. The last few seconds of her dream jolted into her mind and Sunset started crying.


Sunset looked up and saw Twilight at the door. “I…I was just passing by your door, and—”

Instinct took flight of Sunset’s mind at that moment and she leapt up and grabbed her sister, teleporting them in an instant.

“Right now, I should be afraid,” Twilight said to herself. “Very afraid.”

The teen looked at the endless clouds, knowing that she was at least 40,000 feet above the ground, way in the stratosphere where normally only airliners went. She also knew that she should be either freezing to death at the moment, given that she was still in her pajamas, and even this high up, the muggy summer nights couldn’t be felt. She also knew, instinctively that what she was doing – standing on a cloud as though it were solid ground – was impossible…scientifically impossible.

She also looked at the bawling alicorn and knew why it was possible. And she walked over and, wordlessly, hugged her sister, letting Sunset cry her heart out. Twilight held her as much as she could, uncomfortable with this position, given that she was used to embracing her sister as a human, but that didn’t stop Twilight from giving her sister succor. Sunset needed her and that was all that mattered.

“Twily…I’m a murderer,” Sunset said in an empty tone. Twilight patiently waited for Sunset’s explanation and a few seconds later, she got it.

“Sunny, you couldn’t have known. There are too many variables to life, too many reasons why X isn’t Y or why probability chooses one path instead of another. Give me time and I could probably calculate out as far as I could the chances and it would never still be enough.” Twilight kissed her sister on the forehead, her lips brushing maize-colored fur. “The chances are as astronomical as a closeted bookworm ending up with a magical alien creature for a beloved older sister.”

“But she’s dead, Twily! Worse, she never really died, because she never really lived! Rose, who absolutely loved her, doesn’t remember her. Ward, who actually hated Rose for dating Berry, now dated her himself – and is still in love with Rose!”

“Maybe this was the only way to have a happy ever after for some people,” Twilight reasoned. “Didn’t you say there are universes where we’re lovers instead of siblings? That also stands to reason that there are ones where we’re just friends, or enemies or maybe ones where we never even met. All those Twilights, living without a Sunset in their lives…that’s sad. But that’s not my problem,” the teen scholar said. “Because I live in the one where I have an older sister I love more than anything, five cousins who are also de facto my sisters, and I love them too. That’s the only world I know now, and even though I’ll cherish the memories of the timeline that we lived in, there are also memories there that I want to leave behind. Like betraying you and watching you die. I don’t ever want to see that again. And in this life, I didn’t, not to that degree.”

“But Berry—”

“Loved Rose. And maybe there’s a timeline out there…a story, I guess you could say in a sense, where they get their happily ever after. Maybe there’s a reality where Rose and Berry have their life together and grow old together and love each other forever. The multiverse is infinite, from what you said, and even before that I knew that already. Besides, from what little I knew of her, I think she would think it’s a fair trade. Her life for yours.”

Sunset looked at her sister with shock. “How can you say that?”

“Because it was you that stopped Chernabog and Divine Right. It was you that came back to save your family and friends and made the ultimate sacrifice to do so. Sunny, I know this seems kinda blasé to say, but it doesn’t make it any less true: you literally saved the Earth, and you died doing it. But you had to be here still in order to do what your grandmother expects you to do. Otherwise people you love die. And one of those people is your friend, Compass Rose – the girl Berry loved more than anything. I suspect if you asked her, she would have gladly given up her life to make sure that her love would see tomorrow.”


“Call me crazy, but I get the feeling that in the old timeline, Rose wasn’t supposed to survive. I don’t know why, but I get that feeling,” Twilight said to her sister. “Maybe, so that she could survive, Berry prayed that Rose would, and that was the key. Despite my scientific background, I do believe in God. It’s just that my mind can’t wrap the natural around the preternatural. But maybe Berry could, and maybe she prayed to keep Rose safe. I don’t know. I have no way to answer that. All I do know is that you’re safe…and that’s what I care about. Call me selfish, but I love my sister, and I don’t ever want to see her hurt again.”

Sunset’s large alicorn eyes gazed at her sister. After a few minutes, she gave Twilight a wan smile. “I’m lucky to have you, you know that?”

Twilight hugged her again. “That’s what I should say.”

Sunset laughed. “Climb on my back, wouldja?”

“Sure, why?”

“Well, it just dawned on me that I have yet to test my wings out,” she said, fluttering the appendages. “And I can’t think of a better way than to go on a moonlit flight with my sister. Let’s go make some memories, okay?”

Twilight moved to where she was and climbed onto Sunset’s back, wrapping her arms around the alicorn’s neck, hugging her close. “Let’s go, sis.”

The two lifted off into the night.

Author's Note:

This chapter resolves (painfully, too) one of the biggest issues we've had about Crazy Love: does it take place in the old timeline or in the new timeline? We'd resolved the canonical status of the other ones, but due to Former Unicorn's extended absence from writing, CL became a major cipher for us.

Ultimately, it was her idea that we went with: CL exists purely in the old timeline, and these were many of her suggestions to "correct the timeline". I'll be honest: the rest of the writing staff was pretty shocked; we didn't expect such a move. But ultimately, it was the right one to make and I'm impressed FU had the courage to do it.

Crazy Love will continue with its doomed/not-doomed relationship. It's both canon and not canon; a Schrodinger's story, if you will. Rose and Berry will have their happily ever after somewhere.

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