• 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 31: Here's Where the Story Ends

As was tradition for her and her friends, during the first day of school, Shimmer sat down to a lunchtime picnic on the park grounds across the street from her school. Seated underneath the shade of a sturdy tree, they ate sandwiches and chatted about their time while the radio one of them had brought along was set to Radio Nova. Playing over the speakers was “Dancing in Heaven (Orbital Be-Bop)”, the latest single from Midnight Moondust.

“And you were actually there to film the music video?” Priceless asked, stunned after Shimmer explained a bit about the song.

Shimmer nodded. “Yeah. My sister knows Midnight Moondust personally; apparently Midge is an old friend of hers or something. Anyway, since we were in LA, we went down and filmed the music video. You’ll see both me and Sunny in the background of the video if you’re careful.”

Night Lily shook her head and grinned. “Sounds like you had a far better time than you were expecting. I mean, you were originally going just to attend your grandmother’s funeral, right?”

Beachcomber took a bite of her sandwich and leaned back against a tree. “Yeah, she was broken up as hell about that, too. And then all of a sudden you find your literally long-lost twin sister. I mean, that’s just mind blowing, you know?”

“Well, technically we’re both the surviving triplets, but I guess you could call us twins for the sake of argument,” Shimmer said, thinking of Sunset, who, given the nine-hour time difference, was probably nestled asleep in her bed right now.

“So, you haven’t told us much about her yet. She’s got the same name as you, right?”

“Yeah, apparently that was just grand coincidence that her kidnapper had done that,” Shimmer explained. “But since she prefers to go by her first name, and I go by my second, it’s easy to tell us apart. Plus, she’s taller than me.” The teen brought out her phone and thumbed it over to a picture of both her and her twin, showing it to her friends.

“Wow, she’s like almost a foot taller than you, Shimmy!” Beachcomber exclaimed.

“Thanks for making me feel short, Beachie,” Shimmer grumbled.

“Well, she also looks more, uh, ‘developed’ than you? Like she’s reached her adult body faster?” Priceless commented. “If anything, she looks like you’ll look in a couple more years or so.”

Eh, she’s probably more developed because all the chemicals in the diet back home,” Night Lily added. “Unfortunately American companies put all kinds of shit in everything.”

“Yeah, probably,” Shimmer agreed. “Still, it doesn’t bother me. We figured out she’s the older of us, so I guess it sorta makes sense that she looks older.”

“So, what’s she like?”

Shimmer allowed fond memories of the girl she considered her sister. She’d see Sunset again someday; they were, after all, family. “In a word?” the flame-haired girl asked. When her friends nodded, Shimmer could only say one thing.

“To be honest, I guess the best way I can describe her is, well, magical.”

Sunset was the last to come down the stairs. Given that she didn’t have to take a shower in the mornings (yay for cleanliness spells and natural alicorn perfection!) it allowed her to sleep in while the other five girls her age slowly ran up the water bill. Finally, however, her phone chimed telling her it was time to get up, which she reluctantly did. She cast her spell, slipped on her clothing and went downstairs to begin her day.

As she did, she looked at everyone, already seated around the table. “Morning, sleepy!” Velvet said as her oldest daughter approached them.

“Heya, all,” Sunset chirped as she plopped into a chair and grabbed a scone; with the exception of her father, she was the only one not in a uniform or business attire. “I kinda feel out of place.”

“Well, you could switch over to Zacherle with us,” Twilight teased.

“Not on your life, sis.”

“Well, this should be fun: we’re juniors now! The experienced ones of the school!” Sonata squealed. “All the little freshmen are going to come up to us and ask for advice and I’m going to look down at them and say, ‘Survive’.” She narrowed her eyes as she said it, taking on a gruff, hardened look. She then relented and added, “And when they’re scared out of their wits, I’m going to sit back and I’m gonna laugh.”

“Soni….” Octavia sighed.


“Seriously, though, it is kinda sad that you can’t join us, sis,” Twilight told her.

“You make it sound as though I’m going to go away,” Sunset told her. “Trust me, I’ll be home tonight. Things should be okay.”

“Well, I won’t be here,” Night said. “We’re filming in upstate New York this week, followed by a few days in LA, so I won’t be home until next week.”

“At least you’re coming home,” Adagio told him. “We went through years of that not happening.”

“I know. I wish I could have prevented that,” Night told her, “but all I can promise is that I’ll come for all of you.”

Adagio rushed over, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek. “That’s all I’m hoping for.” When everyone looked at her oddly, she just gave a smirk and said, “So I’m a Daddy’s girl. Should’ve figured that one out by now, folks.”

“Whatevs,” Sunset commented as she munched on a bagel. She then looked at the time. “Well, I need to get going to Fluttershy’s old place; apparently Mr. Discord has something planned.”

Velvet rolled her eyes as she took a drink of coffee. “Why am I not surprised?” She then looked around and said, “But before you go, sweetie, I want to take a picture of all of you so that I can send it to your grandparents.” She pulled out her phone, then had them stand up and line up.

“Really, Mom?” Spike asked uncomfortably.

“Trust me, Spike: pictures of grandkids are like catnip to grandparents,” Sonata told him. “My grandmother has a ton of pictures of me and my sisters back in Vancouver and it seems like she never has enough.”

“I guess I’ll put that theory to the test in a decade once Shiny and Cady have their kids,” Velvet said with a smile as she gestured for the kids to all bunch together for a shot. “Then I can wait on you all.” Collective groans were uttered and Velvet chose that exact moment to take the picture.

“You’re not going to send the picture like that, are you?” Octavia asked. “My grandmother would have a fit!”

“Relax, Tavi – I don’t even have any way of contacting your maternal grandmother, so you’re safe for now.”

“I’m just as concerned as my other grandparents getting it as well,” Octavia countered. Spike, Twilight and Sunset, recalling Nachtlict and Calliope, shuddered at that.

“Oh, that’s right: she hasn’t met our paternal grandparents yet, has she?” Adagio asked. “Aunt Velvet, do you have plans for them to come visit soon?”

“Not sure, but that would be a wonderful idea!” Velvet insisted. “I’ll see if I can get my parents to come up for a weekend. But enough of that. You all have to get to school, and I need to get Spike to school and then drop off Night at the airport before I get to my own job.” She sighed. “Looks like life is back to normal.”

Night gave his wife a loving kiss on the cheek. “Thank God for that.”

It was kind of embarrassing, really.

Raspberry Beryl had been back from her “vacation” to Earth for a week now and she’d only been home for one day before she was called off to archmagus business. Today’s trip was to the Endless Vale, a tiny town near the Siren Shoals, where all-too-familiar obsidian crystals had been growing. Strangest thing was, she’d never been to this location before.

Accompanying her was a huge, bulking earth mare by the name of Embiggen, who, by the looks of things, could best be described as “the theoretical offspring of Bulk Biceps, Big Mac and Fluttershy all at the same time.” The massive mare was looked even more shy than the retiring pegasus, and Raspberry couldn’t even figure out how that was possible, much less for her to be a guard.

“Well, um, there’s really, um, only one career path for me given my size,” she said, while blushing. “I really don’t like it. I really don’t want to hurt anypony, but ponies…think I’m big and scary and I guess that counts?” She would have hid behind her mane if it wasn’t for the fact that guard grooming regulations required mares to have short manes, and her bobbed mane did not allow the luxury of hiding.

“Well, I’m sure this is a routine thing, so I wouldn’t really worry about it,” Raspberry said, glad that she’d convinced Heliodor to stay at home. The rocky, unending seaside around here was nearly devoid of any greenery or vegetation and likely would have bored him to death. For that matter, it really looked as though it would bore anypony to death, so it made her wonder why anypony would settle down here.

“We’re almost there,” the lead pegasus pulling the skychariot called back. Out here, there was no train service, so in order to get there in a timely fashion, she had to arrange for a chariot. Thankfully, there were plenty of guards available, several of whom had wanted to hear the story about the “dead mare who didn’t really die”; her extended trip to Earth had caused some pretty interesting talk around the guard garrison and she wanted to put those rumors to rest.

After circling a few times, the chariot finally came down on some dunes in front of a very small seaside village, the kind one usually saw in paintings or postcards. Not quite a fishing village, given the tell-tale signs of seaweed farming offshore, but enough to make her wonder why this place was called “Endless Vale”.

“Because there’s a valley just under the surface of the ocean where we grow all our seaweed,” a voice said. Raspberry saw an older pony standing there, probably about the same age as Granny Smith, if she had to guess. But where Granny was all frailty and age, this mare had a look of eternal youth and age at the same time, all the wrinkles but with a body in healthy enough condition still that she was nearly as fit as the guard.

“Hello, I’m Sargasso, the mayor of this little town. And you must be the Archmagus! An honor and pleasure to meet you, your highness.” They bumped hooves, and Sargasso signaled for a few of her people. “They’ll take care of your folks while we attend to business. And what a doozy it is!”

“Thanks,” Raspberry said as she followed Sargasso. “So what seems to be the problem?”

“Well, about a year ago, I had this lovely opal brooch my daughter got me from Canterlot…she works for the palace, one of the princess’ maids, so she got me this wonderful brooch from Rarity for You for my birthday. It was just lovely, you know? Unfortunately, I lost it a couple of days later.”

Rarity for You…isn’t that Rarity’s jewelry business? The one I made gems for? A pit began to sink into her stomach. “Let me guess…oversized black pillar of obsidian?”

The mayor gave an awkward grimace. “Not…quite,” Sargasso stated as she pointed at the area in front of them.

The first thing Raspberry wondered was how the hell she missed something as large as that from the air. That thing must be the size of Twilight’s nightmare castle! she thought.

A massive latticework of black obsidian, bigger and taller than the castle, tore out from the center of town, carrying at least three homes with it. The ground around it swelled with a deep red energy, and it looked evil. Raspberry could sense her own magic there, but…something had, for lack of a better word, “contaminated” it. She had never seen anything like it before.

As if to answer her questions, Sargasso mused, “Bebop Blister…she used to be a maid as well, before she retired and moved back here…thinks that it must involve the Hungerstones, somehow.”

“The Hungerstones?” Raspberry asked.

“You’re not familiar with them, your grace? I….” Sargasso immediately shut up, as if she was now withholding something she did not wish to talk about.

“Mrs. Sargasso, I am an Archmagus of Equestria. There is little I don’t know about the magical intricacies and intrigues of the Crown. If you’re hiding something from me….”

“No!” the older mare exclaimed. “No, I mean….” She paused. “Do you know about the Hooves?”

“I do,” Raspberry stated.

“Then you know that the majority of them come from this region, correct?” When the look on Raspberry’s face indicated she didn’t know that, Sargasso gave a terse smile and said, “Endless Vale is a kelp farming village. We’re composed of the candidates that weren’t fit to be part of the Hooves, or for various reasons have chosen not to be that. But between this town, and some of the others on the Sirenian Coast, we still have our myths and legends. Like that of the Frozen Tomb, or the Hungerstones.” She gestured forward, and the two continued walking.

“Both of those sound ominous,” Raspberry admitted.

“Yes. The Frozen Tomb is supposedly the burial place of the queen that had enslaved my people, until her highness freed us,” Sargasso explained. “The Queen and her generals – or daughters; I’m not sure which one is correct to the myth – had mystic weapons called Hungerstones, precious gems filled with an arcane power that…well, you know of what Tirek did to ponies by stealing their magic, correct? The Hungerstones were said to be capable of doing that and so much more.

“Darkness calls to darkness, I believe. I think whatever was in that Rarity for You stone must have somehow resonated with the Hungerstones, or something magical in the area.”

“You believe the Hungerstones are real?”

“Your grace, I have lived a very long time, and even though I have not had the honor of serving as one of her highness’ Hooves, I know there are things that go bump in the night. Things that ponies shirk from and things that make our kind fear claws that scratch and teeth that gnash.” She looked at the massive monstrosity that had claimed a good portion of her town, then at the sea in the nearby distance. “It would not in the least surprise me if the Hungerstones – or the Frozen Tomb – are real.”

As Sunset pulled up to the house where Fluttershy used to live, she saw something she hadn’t expected: a large stretch limousine, its engine running and ready to depart at any moment. A few of the neighbors looked on in surprise, and in the center of the ad hoc circus of attention, with a gleeful look on his face, was Discord. He was dressed not as “Mr. Discord”, i.e. the man that Sunset knew to be Fluttershy’s father, but Discord, rock star extraordinaire.

As she got out of her car and approached, he walked over and grinned. “Hey, so how’s it hanging?”

“Not a guy, sorry, they don’t hang.”

“Oh, trust me, they will. Give it a few decades, but when you’re old and gray, they’ll hang and sag and you’ll want enough plastic surgery done that they’ll tighten them ‘till your nipples are somewhere around your back.” As he approached, he bent down and whispered in her ear, “There are two newsvans parked down the street, obviously for the sake of me and my daughter. I know what you’ve been going through and I can sympathize.”

“Really?” she asked.

He gave her a shit-eating grin but continued to whisper: “You’ve been through a lot these past two weeks, according to Fluttershy. I want to offer my sympathies on that. The world of celebrity is stifling and hateful, and I hope you can adjust to that quickly. I fear they’re not going to leave you be anytime soon.”

“Is that why you’re dressed in your, uh, work attire?”

He nodded. “You don’t think I’d wear skintight alligator leather pants for fun, do you? Honestly, they chafe.” He ushered her over to the limo, quick as could be. Looking at the camera, he mugged and said, “Sorry, just tossing the tyke in the playpen, you know?”

“Tyke?” Sunset blurted but didn’t have time to wait for an answer as she was literally pulled into the limousine. She didn’t have much time to react and landed gracelessly.

“Rainbow? Don’t do that again.”
“Oh, I don’t know, I don’t mind.”
“Yeah, figures you wouldn’t.” A pause. “Sorry about that, Sunny.”

Sunset, after a few seconds, realized where she was: namely, splayed out across the laps of three particular girls…and her head was buried in the lap of one particular pair of all-too-familiar stonewashed jeans. She immediately tried to push herself and roll off her friends at the same time, only to end up crashing on the floorboard of the limousine.

From above her now-floored position, she could hear Pinkie pout. “Awww….”

“Pinkie, that is inappropriate!” she heard Rarity admonish.

“Maybe for you. Some of us like—”

“Don’t you dare finish that statement, sugar,” warned Applejack as she reached down to help Sunset up. “Hey, care for a seat like normal people?”

“Yeah, thanks,” Sunset said, shifting to a seat. She then looked next to her and saw Fluttershy sitting there, giving her a sympathetic look.

“Sorry about this, Sunny,” she said. “Dad thought it would be a good way to take the heat off of you and me during our first day back at school.”

“How? Refuge in audacity?” Sunset asked.

“Something like that.”

Meanwhile, Rainbow was scratching her head and blushing slightly. “Um…sorry about that,” she apologized. “Pulled a little harder than I expected.”

“No problem,” Sunset replied, just glad to be in a seat. “You three okay?”

“I’ve been better,” Rarity blushed, “though I’m more concerned about you, Sunset, dear. You weren’t hurt, were you?”

“Naah, I’m fine, though being dragged into a limousine and onto someone’s lap is a rather new experience.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Pinkie said, as a lascivious grin came to her face, “I could think of a few ways we could liven it up….”

“Pinkie….” Sunset sighed.

Pinkie then realized what she was doing and then frowned. “I’m doing it again, aren’t I?” she said softly. “Sorry.”

“Hey, hey, no frowning! Turn that frown upside down or some clichéd comment,” Discord said as he climbed into the passenger seat next to the limo driver. He had on mirror shades and that plastic smile still. “Dunno, I’m still working on my PTA credentials or something.” A brief frown flitted across his face as he added, “Hey, you guys think I need to get a Trapper Keeper or something? Maybe a Pee Chee folder or two?” When his comments were met with blank stares, he said, “Please don’t tell me I’m an analog parent living in a digital world. I don’t think my nostalgia could take it.”

“Don’t worry about it, Dad,” Fluttershy assured him. “We get it.”

“Good. Because tomorrow I get to do this again with your brother and I’m sure that’s going to be even more awkward.” A flicker of awkward concerned parent washed over his face before he settled back into his goofy chaotic grin. After a few seconds, he said, “I’m going to close the blinders so that you’ll all have time to talk about…girl stuff—” He made a disgusted face, but it was clearly meant in jest, “—while we’re on the way to the school.”

Rarity looked at Fluttershy. “Will your father be okay? I mean, I understand he still prefers to keep his performer persona separate from his everyday bit….”

Fluttershy smiled in response and leaned back in the plush seats. “It’s okay. I think Dad knows now that it’s really too late to turn back the clock, especially now that the world knows Angel and I exist. I think mostly he’s trying to square what the world knows of him with the father he’s had to be from afar and the father he’s trying to be now that everything is out. Besides, he told me that he’s worked with the chauffeur before, so he’s trustworthy – we won’t end up with our info splattered all over the news or worse.”

It was then that Sunset noted that Fluttershy had something underneath her seat, something that caught her attention. “What’s that, Flutters?”

“Oh, you’ll see,” Fluttershy said with a simple grin that implied she was up to something.

“No, seriously, Flutters.”

“I’d just let it go, Sunny,” Rainbow advised. “She has a plan and she wants it to be a surprise. Personally, I’d like to know what it is myself, but I’m not going to push her for it.”

“Well, I for one am surprised,” Rarity admitted. “I would have never thought that our dear Fluttershy would be insistent about not discussing something. I suppose she’s changed over the course of the last year.”

“Ah suppose we all have,” Applejack said, though she didn’t comment further.

“I know I have – for good and for bad,” Pinkie admitted. “And I’m not talking about the way I feel regarding you, Sunny.” Her eyes drifted towards the sliding pane that the adults in the front controlled.

Sunset nodded and snapped her fingers; a small burst of cyan light came from them. “Okay, we have complete privacy,” she told them. “You can say whatever you want.”

“Okay. What I was saying was….” She held out her hand, and a sphere of bright blue appeared in her palm. “I told you I already had to use my powers once before. I’m sure Cov, Jolly and the others won’t say anything – they were just too happy that I ended Hope’s reign of terror. But it makes me wonder about what I can do now and stuff. I really haven’t thought about it much since I’ve been focused on other things, but….”


“You offered Shimmer training when she manifested magic…and I’ve had it for far longer without any training.” She gave Sunset a sober look. “I think I’m going to need to know how to control it, because I’m a lot stronger than I used to be, and that’s the only thing I know. There could be other things as well.”

“Well,” Sunset admitted, “that does make sense, given that your counterpart’s an earth pony—”

“A what?” Applejack asked.

“An earth pony. Earth as in ground, not the planet – my native homeworld’s name is Equus, though the other races call it something else in their languages. Anyway, I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but earth ponies are the ones most like regular horses here. That being said, they’re a lot stronger, both in terms of draw power and whatnot. Think of them as, well, like superheroes with superstrength and the like, and that’s the average earth pony. They’re also amazing at growing things. AJ, your counterpart is a farmer and nearly single-handedly – or rather, single-hoofedly – runs a farm that would take at least a dozen farmhands here, if not more.”

“Um…okay,” Applejack said, recalling her own time on the farm and the events of March. “So if she’s a farmer, Ah’m guessing she’s an earth pony as well? If that’s the case, Ah might want to get some training, too.”

“Did you manifest your powers as well, AJ?” Sunset asked.

A thoughtful look came across Rarity’s face and she shifted in her chair. “Keep in mind that Twilight – the princess, not your sister – channeled the power of magic through us to deal with your, ahem, possession. Likewise, you did the same for us when it came to Chernabog. It probably means the magic is deep within us now, and if we’ve had to use our powers twice….”

“Yeah! Superpowers! I wanna see exactly what I can do! Maybe I can fly and shit or shoot laser beams!” Rainbow crowed. “I’M A’ FIRIN’ MAH LAZER!”

“I know I’d be interested in seeing what else I can do,” Fluttershy admitted.

“Look, girls,” Sunset began.

“No. Don’t ‘look, girls’ us,” Rarity told her. “Sunset, you died literally saving the world. We were knocked unconscious because we could not handle the powers that were channeled through us. If we had been able to control them better, don’t you think that we would have wanted to protect you?” The look in the fashionista’s deep blue eyes was one of sorrow. “I don’t mean to be maudlin, but we are your friends, your allies—”

“Your significant other,” Pinkie added sotto voce, though Sunset heard it.

“—and I suspect, your court, if you are to be a princess,” Rarity continued without missing a beat. “We have abilities that few people on this world have, and if we are to be there for you – and mark my words, we do not wish to be left to the side like curios on display – we will require training. I don’t presume to speak for the others, but I do speak for myself, Sunset.”

“Look, we can talk about it later, okay?” Sunset told them. “Oh, which reminds me….” She reached into her backpack and handed them one scroll and one envelope. “These are for you all. The scrolls are your official invitation to my coronation back in Equestria, while the envelopes are something that I’ve held on for a while now, until the moment I thought the time was right. They’re letters from your counterparts to you.”

“To us?” Rarity asked as she accepted hers.

Sunset nodded. “Yes. Keep in mind that they’re older than you – about half a decade or so older; if I recall correctly, Fluttershy is the oldest at twenty-four – but their lives are so different that in some ways you’re more mature than they are. That’s not to say anything against them; they’re sweet mares and you’ll be glad to know them once you meet them.”

“Well, Ah would say that it’d be weird to meet…well, another me, but given that we know your sister and your counterpart, Ah guess it shouldn’t be too bad,” Applejack commented as she slid hers into her backpack. “But Ah think Ah’ll read mah letters later.”

“Good idea,” Pinkie said. “I think we all should.”

Sunset looked out the window of the limo. “Especially since we’re here now,” she told the others. “Game faces, ladies; I think this is going to be a day to remember.” She snapped her fingers, releasing the privacy spell, and just in time, the window to the front came down.

“Okay, next stop: the kiddie farm everyone will recall with a love-hate mixture years down the road,” Discord said with a grin.

“Oh, I take it you didn’t care for yours, sir?” Rarity asked him.

“Naah, growing up in Cardiff was interesting, though not for me,” he admitted. He gave a chuckle and added, “Maybe I should go back someday and see if the place is still standing. Given that Tirek and I left long ago, San Diego County must be breathing much easier now. Anyway, we’re here.”

As they walked onto the school grounds, a lot of girls stood and took notice of both Twilight and Octavia and their golden ties, the sign of their status as Divas. Behind them, the triplets walked, all three with easy strides, but their eyes tracking the whole of the campus, as if the trio expected something bad to occur. From the confident stride of the quintet, they projected an air of easy authority, one they hadn’t intended but nonetheless exuded.

Without looking at them, Twilight commented, “I’m sure we’ll be fine, really. I doubt anything’s going to happen.”

“Give the summer we’ve had, Twily,” Adagio commented, “I wouldn’t put anything past the pale right now.”

“No kidding,” Aria agreed. “Especially after that tussle with Suri and Blueblood. I wish I’d been there for that.”

“Well if they push on Tavi, I’m going to push right back,” Sonata said coolly.

“Thanks, Soni,” Octavia commented, and got a hug for the response.

“Well, well, well. If it isn’t the incest club.” The five girls stopped, facing a group of girls wearing the same school uniform and stone-gray ties, indicating them as the student government. And at the front of them was the school student government president herself, Suri Polomare.

“Heard you added a sixth member to your group, but she’s too dumb to go here,” Vanity Fair, Suri’s best friend and fellow bully, said. “Then again, I also heard some bullshit about her being a French princess, but I doubt that – a real princess wouldn’t have the time to spend with you cunt lickers.”

Twilight yawned in their faces. “Seriously, you had the whole summer to think these insults up, Vanity?” Twilight asked her, a wolfish smile on her face. “You couldn’t take the time to, you know, read?”

Octavia folded her arms. “Might be a little too complex for her,” she said in a breezy tone. “All those words with multiple syllables, no full-page pictures to illustrate things for her, and nowhere for her to color with her crayons.”

Next to them, Swift Wind, followed by two new girls, appeared. “Oh, she can color. Blood tends to be her favorite color – and mine.”

“No problem,” Adagio told her. “We’ll be happy to have you donate plenty of your own.”

“Sis, you shouldn’t pick on the weak and defenseless,” Sonata said, never taking her eyes off Swift Wind. “It’s not fair to take on people who aren’t at our skill level.” One of Swift’s friends twitched her eyebrow slightly, and Sonata grinned, knowing she’d struck true.

“Look, I don’t have time for this,” Suri argued. “Let’s make this clear: you don’t deserve to be divas and you barely deserve to be here. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll resign your positions as divas now, and hand it over to more capable people.”

“You mean more capable like you,” Octavia drawled.

“Well, I’m glad you came to your senses!” Suri commented. “So, all you have to do is hand over your ties and your—”

“Up yours.” Suri turned to see Twilight glaring at her, standing there, and unsurprisingly, her sisters noted that Twilight was not standing there on her own, as formidable as she had grown over the years, but instead had taken on the regal, challenging mantle of the one of their number that wasn’t there: Sunset.

“Excuse me?” the senior asked.

“There is no excuse for you – you are in no way, shape or form, worthy to be in the student government, much less a diva!” Twilight hissed. “For starters, you insulted my family. Both my cousins here and my sister who isn’t here to defend herself. Not that you prove any sort of challenge for her whatsoever. She would verbally, emotionally and physically tear you to shreds, Suri. You can’t hold a candle to her, and it is because I am being kind to you that I will not tell her. She doesn’t need me to fight her battles, but you’ll need me not to tell her so you can survive yours.”

The plum-haired scholar raised a hand and lowered a second finger. “Secondly, you abused your sister’s own best friend for your own sick, twisted ends. You’re lucky as hell that she has a very resilient mind and doesn’t remember what you did to her, or else your ass would be in jail, where it deserves to be. I have no idea why your sister forgave you – you don’t deserve her.” Twilight’s eyes shrank to pinpricks of hate, recalling all of what she’d done to her own sister and it disgusted her – but she hadn’t treated Sunset anywhere near as badly as Suri had Coco.

“You bitch,” Suri snarled. “How dare you tell me what to do regarding my own sister! I love Crackle, and I would never—”

“And yet commenting about my cousins, girls I have grown up with and are essentially my own sisters, are perfectly acceptable targets? Suri, hypocrite doesn’t even begin to describe you,” Twilight shot back. “And again, I won’t even comment about what you said about my actual sister.” She marched up to look Suri, face to face, Twilight’s indignant eyes of violet boring into Suri’s own beige ones. “Let’s be clear: I don’t want to be a diva. I never asked to be one. And under different circumstances, I would happily stand aside. But now I have a purpose in being a diva, and that purpose is, simply: protect the student body from you, Suri Polomare. You are a predator, a viper in the grass who thinks every girl in this school is prey. And do you know what I have to say to that?”

Suri looked at Twilight, her eyes imperceptibly changed. To a casual viewer, they wouldn’t have noticed the change, but to those around, it was clear: this was no longer Suri Polomare’s playground. She waited for Twilight to make her response.

And so Twilight did:

“At the hole where he went in,
Red-Eye called to Wrinkle-Skin
Hear what little Red-Eye saith:
‘Nag, come up and dance with death!’”

With that, Twilight moved on past Suri, who looked at the younger girl with impotent anger. She wanted to lash out and attack Twilight; or more accurately, order her lackies to do so. But such a directive made it clear: the young diva was watching, and any attempts by the senior to assert her authority would end up with it being slapped down or worse.

It wasn’t until Twilight rounded the corner that Suri screamed in pointless anger.

As the girls walked away from that, they instantly heard clapping. “Brava! I just witnessed that, and I must admit, it was a worthy performance of a diva in her duties. Ms. Sparkle, that only proves you worthier of the role than you know.”

Twilight blushed and turned to the speaker. “Thanks, Pheo…sorry, I mean, Ms. Temple.”

Phoenix Temple stood there, dressed in business attire befitting a junior teacher in training. She gave the girls and smile and adjusted her glasses. “It’s good to see you girls again,” the young woman told her. “I was wondering if you still will be able to meet my request?”

It was Octavia that answered. “Twily told me everything and while she said her piece, let me say mine: I agree with her. We divas are here to help our fellow students and if someone needs us, that’s why the job exists.”

“We’re with them,” Adagio said. “Whether we need to be muscle or just a shoulder to cry on, we’re with them.” Behind her, both Aria and Sonata nodded in agreement.

“I’m glad to hear that.” Phoenix then poked her head into a classroom. “You can come out now, Ribby.”

“Do I have to?” a familiar voice asked. “And you promised to stop calling me that!”

Phoenix mock-huffed. “Fine, RB.”

To the girls’ surprise, a girl came out of the classroom. She was dressed in the school uniform, wore a raspberry-colored beret, and was clearly a freshman, and used a cane to walk, her stiff gait measured by her lame left leg. But despite her timorous attitude as she tried to hide behind her own hair, it was clearly her – or rather, her human counterpart.

“Girls, this is my cousin, Raspberry Beryl,” Phoenix said, “or RB, as she prefers to be called.” Raspberry, to their surprise, all but hid behind Phoenix as she looked at the others. “Ribby, this is Twilight Sparkle, Octavia Melody, Adagio Dazzle, Aria Blaze and Sonata Dusk. They’re all cousins, but were raised together as sisters, so they understand your situation.”

Raspberry looked up at Phoenix with eyes that radiated worry and fear and on the verge of tears.

“Ribby, I’m a part-time teacher here and when not that, I’m attending classes of my own at college. I can’t be here all the time for you,” Phoenix gently admonished. “It’ll be good for you to find friends your own age, and I wouldn’t leave you in the care of Twily and her sisters if I didn’t trust them completely.”

“RB?” Raspberry looked at Twily, who was offering her hand. “I’ve heard a lot about you,” Twilight lied smoothly, “and I didn’t think Pheo’s cousin would be this adorable.”

“R-really?” Raspberry asked, her voice shaking.

“Stick with us; we’ll make sure you’re okay,” Octavia said in the confident older sister tone she’d picked up from her years in both timelines. “We’ll watch over her, Pheo. We promise.”

“Thanks, girls,” Phoenix said as the warning bell chimed, indicating that classes started in fifteen minutes. “Well, that’s the warning bell. I need to get to the teacher pre-brief. I’ll see you all at the opening assembly, okay?”

“So, RB, where’s your first class?” Twilight asked easily but was met with silence. “RB?” Twilight asked again.

“You don’t….” Twilight turned to look at the girl, and she was nearly in tears. “You don’t have to watch over me because Pheo asked,” she said, her voice sounding like someone barely in control. “I know I’m a bother and a problem and—”

Aria went over and hugged the shivering girl, taking her in a warm embrace. “You remind me of someone I know,” the middle triplet said softly. “She was always worried about everything as well. But my sisters and I told her it would be okay, because if you have friends, you have people who will stand with you through thick and thin.”

“You mean that?”

Sonata put a gentle hand on Raspberry’s shoulder. “She does. We look out for our friends. We’re not doing this because Pheo asked us to or even because it’s the right thing to do. We’re doing it because we want to, right, sis?” she asked, giving an even look at Adagio.

Adagio, despite her hatred of Raspberry’s counterpart, couldn’t hold it against this girl. She took a breath and said softly, “She’s right. You’re amongst friends, RB. And friends don’t steer you wrong.”

“Thank you,” the girl sobbed, starting to suddenly cry, the anxiety too much for her to bear. The five sisters stood and looked at other students who were wondering what was up, but the moment they saw the divas and the triplets, they either thought the problem was solved or not worth inquiring in further.

The moment the limousine pulled into the parking lot of Canterlot High, the student body and faculty knew something was up.

Celestia and Luna, standing at the front of the school as they did every year, watched and the words from the former’s mouth said it all: “Oh, shit.”

The front burst open and a man in alligator leather pants, cowboy boots and an open, shirtless vest burst out of the front passenger seat, his mirror shades reflecting the morning sun. “Good morning, Vietnam!” he called out, to the sudden assembly of students that realized that Discord, yes, Discord, was in their midst.

With their attention firmly on him, he sauntered on over to both educators, huge bouquets of daisies in hand. Passing them over to each lady, he waggled his eyebrows and pranced around them, singing, “Heya teach! Not late for school, for I’m no fool since that’s not cool. It makes me drool and that’s the rule!” He then held out a packet of oatmeal and added, “Care for some gruel? It gives me fuel towards music’s pool, ‘cause it’s my tool!”

Both Celestia and Luna laughed and grinned easily. “It’s been a long time, Dee,” Celestia told him with a note of fondness in her voice.

“Too long. Heard you snagged yourself a young, strapping lad,” he told her. “You should come over to the penthouse sometime. We’ll do dinner.” He kissed her on the cheek, then did the same for Luna. “And it’s been a long time since I saw you, too, Spooky. Grats on the engagement.”

“Yeah, thanks. How’d you hear about that?”

“News travels fast where I go,” he said breezily. “That and Velvet told me.”

“So what brings you here other than to harass my students?” Luna asked her.

Your students?”

Celestia nodded. “I got promoted to regional assistant superintendent, although technically I’m still principal for this last year here of transition. Luna’s taking over as CHS principal now and she’s already got her vice principal inside going over the daily stuff with the faculty.”

“I see someone’s moving up in the world.”

“About time, too – she’s earned it,” Celestia said, and Luna blushed slightly. “Anyway, you were saying?”

“Oh, yeah!” he chirped, then rushed back to the limo. “Ladies and gentlemen, especially those of you who have no idea what either of those words mean, which is clearly why you’re here at school!” he crowed. “It is my honor, my duty and my general ‘screw with the world’ nature to present to you, the ladies who so finely grace this location!” He then opened the door, calling in, “Okay, showtime!”

Out stepped the girls, feeling both on display and having the attention of the entire school. For them all, it was more than a bit overwhelming, admittedly, as they had never quite stepped into the school in a situation such as this. Applejack, the first to step out, was completely overwhelmed, trying not to look completely mortified as she exited the vehicle, walking towards the school, waving and hoping not many people were taking pictures.

Next was Pinkie Pie, who bounced around, shouting out, “You like me! You really, really like me! Thank you!” She blew kisses to the crowd, went and shook a few of her friends’ hands and also made her way into the school.

Next up was Rainbow Dash, who took it in stride. Sliding on her Ray-Bans, she waved at them all, basking in the unexpected adulation, waving at her teammates and making sure she had the attention of Soarin’, who was looking at her with sudden surprise. She lowered her shades, gave him the look, then smiled and blew him a kiss before making her way into the school as well.

Rarity was next, and she soaked in the adulation, just as Rainbow did. Practically voguing as she walked up the walkway towards the school entrance, she knew she had the attention of several other students, friends and fellow members of the fashion and other clubs. In the distance, she could see Debonair Lace laugh slightly; the two would no doubt have much to talk about after school during their club meeting today. But after a few seconds, she too vanished into the school’s innards, ready for the year.

Second to last was Fluttershy, and although she hesitated at first, she then felt the item on the back, her talisman, giving her confidence. She stepped out of the limousine, calm, collected and striking the posture she had when she was briefly modeling for Rarity during their freshman year. Students noted the absolute change in the chiffon-haired girl and watched with awe as she strode calmly towards the school, not hiding behind her hair, with a guitar on her back, feeling calm and collected. This was not the timid rabbit that had been there this time last year, but instead the daughter of a rock star, used to the attention and while not basking in it, acknowledging that her life as she knew it was no more.

Finally, the last girl stepped clear of the limousine, and where Fluttershy had radiated a calm that no one had expected from her, Sunset Shimmer, the girl that had been known as the go-to girl of Canterlot High, now assumed a new title on the spot: the Queen of Canterlot High. With a regal bearing borne of what had publicly been announced of her, the young royal moved towards the school, taller, more collected and vastly different than what many had remembered from the end of the school year.

Rumors and chatter were given in muted hushes as she walked past. Was she really a princess? Did the joke of her being a spoiled princess once still apply now that the information had come out about her parentage? How different was the girl that the school once hated, then had grown to respect and admire. Would they idolize her? And if Sunset’s growth spurt and change from a very beautiful girl to “practical porn-star perfection” caught the attention of practically every guy – and a few girls as well – present, what hope did those less-than-ideal girls have?

Sunset gave them all a dazzling smile and waved, pausing before the crowd while in the middle. “I’m still the Sunset you know,” she told everyone. “I know what you’ve heard about me, but I am not my title or my family or my wealth. I’m still going to be the girl you can reach out to if you need help.” With that, she continued to move on, making sure she walked past Flash.

The two connected eyes, the look in his a cocky one all but telling her that princess or not, he’d still gotten to know her inside and out – and quite inside. In response, she angled her head slightly and gave him an imperious look, reminding him that she was no normal girl anymore…and that now she was taller than he was, so she looked down at him as literally as she did metaphorically. Then the moment was over and she continued on, into the school.

Discord laughed. “That Sunset girl’s got the right kind of attitude, I tell ya.”

As they all met inside the main hallway, Rainbow laughed. “That’s the way to show up that bastard! Way to go, Sunny!”

Sunset gave her friend and easy smile. “Oh, I didn’t show him up, Rainbow. I just showed him how unimportant he is in the world. Yes, let him claim that he banged a princess. I can point out that I didn’t know what or who I was, and could have just as easily been the daughter of a criminal. So what if I’m a princess? At the end of the day, I’m still Sunset Shimmer, and that’s all that should really matter, right?”

“That’s all that matters to us,” Fluttershy said as she hugged her friend, soon joined by the others. The six friends soon joined in an embrace, feeling more in control of their lives than they had in a while.

“So you really did change.” Sunset turned to look at Cranky Doodle, standing there, looking at him.

“It’s been…an interesting summer, sir,” she told the teacher.

“Yeah, and I heard you told off that punk you used to canoodle with.” To her surprise, he gave her a gruff smile. “Always thought you could do better than that kid anyway.”

Sunset couldn’t help but return the grin. “Funny, I’m in complete agreement with you.”

“Well, you’d better get to classes. Princess or not, I’m not putting up with a student being tardy for class, got that?”

“Yes, sir,” Sunset said with a smile. The girls all looked at one another, then wandered off towards their individual lockers and the beginning of the school year. They could easily catch up during lunch.

Twilight sat down at their usual lunch table, a troubled look on her face. A second later, so did Octavia. “You read the note too, huh?”

“Kinda hard not to.” During break, Phoenix had notes delivered to the Five Sisters, detailing everything about Raspberry’s life and why she was the way she was.

“That just breaks my heart.” Both looked up to see a morose-looking Sonata approaching, carrying a tray of tacos, her comfort food. “To think that—”

“Who’s she with right now?” Octavia cut her off with a question, both out of concern for the young girl as well as not wanting to hear the issue dredged up again.

“Ari had the closest class to her, so likely her,” Sonata explained. “They should be here in a few moments.”

“And none too soon – look who I found!” Adagio approached, and behind her were Coco and Crackle, both girls happy as clams to be sitting with the most important juniors in the school. It was clear that the eldest triplet was putting up a brave show for the other two girls, but Twilight knew her cousin well enough to know that she’d been impacted by the note.

“Hi girls,” Twilight said to both. “How are you adjusting?”

“It’s great, thanks for asking,” Coco replied. “Can we really sit with you for lunch?”

“Well, normally you’ll want to sit with friends your age,” Adagio suggested, “but obviously we don’t mind too much. I’ll go get us lunch, on me. What do you two want?”

“Can I have a burger?” Coco asked.

“Pepperoni mini pizza for me,” Crackle added.

“Sure thing. Twily, care to give me a hand?” Adagio asked lightly.

“No problem.” The two walked over to the line, waving hello to several other fellow students. “Did you, ah, read that note?”

“I did,” Adagio said, keeping her face a mask of calm. “That poor kid. Look, I hate her counterpart, but even I know that this girl isn’t that bitch. She didn’t deserve the time of day, Twily. But this girl needs our help.”

“Dagi, Razz is gone, okay? Let it go. But yes, I agree otherwise,” Twilight told her as she grabbed a tuna sandwich and apple for herself and a burger for Coco. “We should look out for her. She’s going to need our help.”

“She’s going to need more than that. Fortunately, I think I might have a way to solve that.”


“Yeah. Just let me handle this, okay? If nothing else, I can help at least one Raspberry Beryl from becoming an ultra bitch.”

Twilight frowned. “You are not helping your situation, cuz.”

As the pair returned to the table, they noted the arrival of both Aria and Raspberry, the older girl having introduced their junior charges to one another while Adagio and Twilight had stepped away. To Twilight’s surprise, both Aria and Raspberry already had their lunches handy, which meant they had been ahead of them in line and hadn’t said anything. Aria had grabbed herself a chicken caesar salad, while Raspberry, to Twilight’s mild disgust, had grabbed a beef quesadilla.

“Oh, that’s not going to go over well,” Octavia said as she got up from her seat to go get her own food. “Twily hates quesadillas.”

Raspberry looked at the girl with horror. “I’m sorry!” she squealed. “I’ll go back and get something else!” The sound of absolute fear in her voice made the five older girls wince in sympathy.

“It’s okay,” Twilight assured her. “I just don’t like them. It’s not like I’m afraid of them or anything, really.”

“You know, I never found out why you don’t like them,” Aria commented.

“When I was five, Mom and Dad took the family to Mexico for spring break, so Mom could show us where Grandma was born,” Twilight told her. “We stopped at a small roadside restaurant in La Bahia de Navidad and got us lunch. I got a quesadilla, and they told my parents that the filling was chicken and mushrooms, and I liked it.” Twilight sighed. “Unfortunately, they didn’t know Mom could speak Spanish and were joking it up about feeding ‘the stupid gringos’ iguana and nopales – that’s prickly pear cactus, in case you didn’t know. Mom tore into them, but the damage was done and I spent a good portion of the rest of the vacation with a really bad case of diarrhea. Since then, I just can’t bring myself to eat them.”

Raspberry looked as though she’d utterly failed Twilight. “I’m sorry for being so thoughtless,” she blurted.

“You didn’t know,” Twilight told her. “It’s not your fault, so you shouldn’t have to apologize.”

“I guess that explains why we don’t have Mexican food at the house often, even though you’re Hispanic,” Adagio commented. “Weird.”

Wanting to change the subject, Sonata butted in: “Oh, Coco, Crackle, I didn’t get the chance to ask: how are you getting along with Rarity, Rainbow and AJ’s sisters?”

“Great!” Coco chirped. “I have to thank you both for introducing us to them. They’re great friends and now that we’re joining the Girl Scouts, we get to get badges right along with them!”

“The world may never be safe again,” Adagio said under her breath, earning a slight chuckle from Aria.

“In fact, we’re meeting them after school at Sugarcube Corner Café!” Crackle added. She then turned to Raspberry. “Hey, you wanna come?”

“I…I don’t want to be a bother,” Raspberry said meekly.

“No, you won’t! The other girls are great!” Coco chirped, turning and instinctively hugging Raspberry, who felt awkward about being hugged by a stranger, but then looked to the older girls for confirmation. When Twilight nodded, Raspberry allowed herself to relax into the embrace. Coco immediately pulled away and said, “You’ll come, right?”

“If it’s okay with you. I mean, I really don’t want to be a bother.”

Coco took Raspberry’s hands in her own. “Promise you’ll come, okay? We’re friends now, so you have to come!”

“We’re friends?”

“Life moves pretty fast,” Octavia told Raspberry as she reappeared, lunch tray in hand. “Blink and you’ll miss it – and I guarantee, you don’t want to do that. Make some friends and enjoy things as they come, okay?”

“I don’t know….” Raspberry said with uncertainty.

“Please?” Coco pled, flashing puppy dog eyes, looking at the other girl her age. Though she didn’t do the same, Crackle was clearly as adamant about it as Coco was.

Finally, Raspberry relented. “I’ll…have to ask Pheo, but…okay.”

“Then we’ll meet you there this afternoon, okay? Just to make sure everything’s going to be fine.” Twilight looked at her cousins, and even though they didn’t say a word, the collective look in their eyes signaled as much an agreement as anything that could have been vocalized.

“Wow, is this the first day of school, or Sunset’s Harem Tryouts Day?” Sunset asked as she sat down at the lunch table.

“Do we really want to know?” Applejack asked her.

The flame-haired girl ticked off her fingers. “So far today I’ve had twenty-two people ask me out, four of which were girls; seven marriage proposals, one of which was a girl; three who offered me just sex, again, one a girl; and several people who last year still hated my guts but now that I’m a princess want to be buddy-buddy with me.” A weary smirk came over Sunset’s face as she groaned. “You really learn who your true friends are in times like these.”

“I’m sorry, sweetie,” Pinkie told her, clearly restraining herself from showing public displays of affection. “Do you want me to get you your lunch?”

For once, Sunset wasn’t going to argue. “If you don’t mind, please. Chicken salad sandwich?”

“Okie doki loki!” Pinkie exclaimed, rushing off immediately to get hers and Sunset’s lunches.

“Well, what do you plan to do about it?” Rarity asked.

“Look, I really don’t want to do anything about it,” Sunset said. “I just want people to treat me as I am. I’m Sunset Shimmer, not Princess Sunset or the Alicorn of Earth or anything like that. I’m just a normal girl with perfectly normal problems, right?”

“I hate to burst your bubble, darling,” Rarity pointed out, “but you are most certainly not a normal girl, not anymore. And I don’t mean in terms of…well, you know. I mean in terms of your terrestrial life as you know it: you are now a princess and a socialite. You were quite attractive before, and now, you’re, well….”

“Fuckable like no tomorrow?” Rainbow commented.

“Figures the Living Gay Pride Flag would say that,” Applejack teased.

“Hey, look, I didn’t say I wanted to, okay? I’ve just been hearing the rumors as I’ve been walking down the hall.”

“The rumors?” Fluttershy asked.

Rainbow nodded. “Oh yeah.” Making finger quotes, Rainbow affected a voice not her own, imitating other students. “‘I dunno which one I want more, man,’” she said in a husky voice. “‘Sunset’s money or her creamy thighs!’ Or there’s this golden nugget: ‘Man, I oughta check to see if Sunset needs a trophy boyfriend, ‘cause I’ll be happy to take that job.’ And that’s just the guys’ comments. Some of the girls are just as bad.”

“Well, she’s taken,” Pinkie insisted as she came back with lunch, setting it down by Sunset, then sitting next to her – a little too closely. “Sorry, but Sunny’s buns are for this one,” she commented, proudly hooking a thumb at herself.

“Pinkie….” Sunset sighed.

“Dear, all I am saying is that you should stand up for yourself,” Rarity advised. “I can certainly understand why you do not wish to do so – you don’t want to cause a scene, given that the eyes of the world are watching, in a sense – but at the same time, we don’t want to see you hurt at all. And all of this is most definitely hurting you.”

“Well, maybe it’ll die down after today,” Sunset said. “Or maybe during the assembly, someone in charge will tell people to keep their hormones in check. I certainly hope they do.” A thought then crossed her mind. “So, Flutters, about that thing from this morning….”

Fluttershy gave a small, private smile. “It’ll be during the assembly. I’m sorry I’m not telling you much, girls, but I want to make it a pleasant surprise. Dad and I have been working on this for a while, and I really hope you’ll like it.”

“Yay, surprise!” Pinkie chirped. “Plus, it’s from Flutters, so we know it’ll be good!”

Fluttershy blushed. “Thanks, Pinkie. But seriously, I really hope you’ll enjoy it.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I think we will,” Rainbow assured her.

“Rainbow Dash will you please not talk with your mouth full of food!” Rarity scolded.

Sunset started laughing uproariously, much to the confusion of the other girls. Finally, after laughing so hard that her sides were aching, Applejack finally asked, “Something you want to share with us, hon?”

A wide, loving grin spreading on Sunset’s face, she admitted, “After everything I’ve been through, I can always count on you guys to be the same. Don’t ever change, any of you – I love you all too much.”

“We will always be here for you, Sunset, dear,” Rarity told her fondly. “No matter what, we will always be here for you.”

In a café in Sire’s Hollow, a mare leaned back against the seat, drinking coffee and looking at the local paper, the Hollow Herald, with a look akin to disgust. The news on the front page said it all: the whole of Equestria was rejoicing over the miraculous return of Archmagus Raspberry Beryl, who had come from a faraway land with even greater news: Sunset Shimmer, the daughter of Princess Celestia, had ascended and become an alicorn in her own right.

Hard eyes of bright red scanned each line in the hopes that it was an extended joke. A haze-gray hoof ran through a wavy mane of goldenrod-and-yellow, disbelieving each sentence that was printed on the paper. Finally, the pony set the paper down in disgust.

“Rough day, hon?” the waitress said, carrying a coffee carafe in her magic field.

Uh, yeah,” the mare lied, tapping the front page with her wing. “Can you believe this crap?”

The waitress shook her head. “Yeah, hard to believe that after the winter we’ve had, there are still ponies out there suffering because of Tirek’s depravity.”

The pegasus looked down at where she was tapping – an article with the headline TIREK’S FORCES STILL ON RAMPAGE; LARIAT HILLS ATTACKED. “Yeah,” she recovered. “You’d think they’d give up now, especially with the Princess recovered from her ordeal and our forces rebounding, but the baddies are baddies for a reason, I guess.”

“Well, think nothin’ of it, hon,” the waitress said, refilling the mare’s coffee cup. “That’s why we got ya Wonderbolts out there, savin’ the day, right?”

A lazy smile came over the pegasus’ face. “Yeah, that we do.”

“Hey, I really appreciate whatcha do for the realm,” the waitress replied, giving her a saucy wink. “Anyway, I’ll letcha get back to your readin’.” With that, the waitress walked off to take care of her other customers.

The Wonderbolt sighed, knowing she should’ve taken off her bomber jacket, but they were allowed to wear them when off-duty and right now, this was a rare off-duty day for her. But there had been no rest, not with this latest news about that haridelle Sunset Shimmer.

Bitch should’ve been killed a Celestiadamn long time ago, the mare hissed mentally, ignoring the irony of swearing an oath on the victim’s mother to bring harm to the victim. But then again, the mare in question knew quite a bit about how families were set topsy-turvy when it came to Sunset Shimmer.

Seated next to the school student government on stage while Mrs. Lemonade gave the welcoming address to the incoming freshmen, Twilight felt a certain pride from looking at the rows of other students in their seats before them. It had only been two years ago that she’d seen Phoenix, Light and Umi standing on this stage, looking down at Twilight in the crowd, their eyes scanning as to who would likely someday be standing in their place.

On the other side of the raised platform, out of the corner of her eye, she could see Phoenix, seated amongst the other teachers, looking placidly down at the students. Twilight wondered if she, too, was doing the same thing she did when she looked at Twilight and her cousins. Likewise, Mrs. Lemonade, once a diva herself, probably did the same thing as well.

“So, who do you think will replace us?” Octavia whispered to her. While Twilight didn’t give a response, she gave a thought about it. Coco had the makings of a future diva; she was kind and caring. Likewise, given Crackle’s background, she would back her friend up when needed; furthermore, given who her sister was, Crackle becoming a future diva would probably restore their family’s name. Then, strangely enough, was Raspberry. Despite the fact that she was very unlike her counterpart, there was an inkling of greatness in the timid, fragile girl, based on what little Phoenix had told her. Both Octavia and Twilight had all of this year and the next to decide, and it would be something they would both give great amount of consideration to.

But for now, Twilight would keep the mantle given to her and the trust placed in her by her forebears. The role of a diva was not that of a queen bee – it was to protect students from them. Twilight smiled; in a way, she was very much now like her sister: a protector, given unusual powers and authority and charged with using them for the benefit of those around her. However, just the thought process made Twilight laugh in the end; all things considered, she’d probably make for a crappy alicorn, truth be told.

Mrs. Lemonade took the stand again. “And now, to speak on behalf of both the student government and the divas, I present to you, Ms. Twilight Sparkle, the senior diva.” Polite applause sounded as Twilight left her chair. The student government had chosen her to speak for them, and Twilight knew why: with the announcement coming at the last possible moment, it was clear that they had intended her to fail and look bad; another one of Suri’s attempts to hound and harry her.

Unfortunately for them, however, Twilight was not only in her element, but she wasn’t the same girl she was a year – or a reality – ago. That Twilight Sparkle probably would have folded at the first suggestion, even if it was in her skillset. But now, Twilight had sisters that loved her, friends that supported her and even the things she had learned over these past few months. No, she was not the same Twilight Sparkle that she used to be.

Time to make that perfectly clear.

Stepping up to the lectern, she eyed the throng of students before them, giving them her most winning smile. “My fellow students, welcome to another year of your academic life. Whether you are on the first year here at Zacherle, or preparing to leave its vaunted halls, for the time being, we are all together in this storied institution. We are all Zacherle Princesses and we are all scholars in search of higher truths and greater understanding. Not just of the arts and sciences, but of ourselves and what it means to be a student here and a citizen, each of us growing into our own greater selves as we strive for adulthood.” Twilight paused to let her words sink in, then gestured to the teachers. “Our educators – do not think of them as stern taskmasters placing before us dry tomes and endless facts, but instead people who are tasked to challenge us and make us better. Delivering mysteries and secrets designed to open the universe to us.

“This past year, I have found out more about myself than I ever thought possible, and I owe much of it to being a student here at this school. Even in the time I am not in class or even on campus, being a Zacherle girl has instilled in me values and talents that have moved me forward in life, just as it will do for you. Ask any alumnus of this school and you will find they will answer the same way: we are given so much when we are here, because that is what the world demands of us. We are held to a higher standard, because we are Zacherle girls and we rise and exceed the challenges before us.

“The poet Songbird once said of us: ‘Zacherle Girls…we’re kinda magical’. I posit before you that we are more than that. We make our own magic. We make our own way, and together, we show the world why we are Zacherle! Thank you and best of luck to you all in your academic endeavors this year.”

The applause was far more than they expected, and as she walked back to her seat, the looks of shock on the faces of her challengers made her smile all the more. It had been Shimmer that had said that Sunset had to be the best Sunset Shimmer she could be, and that made Shimmer have to be the best Sunset Shimmer she could be as well.

Twilight didn’t know if she had a counterpart, or if she did, what said doppelganger was like…but she was sure that she herself had to be the best Twilight Sparkle there was. And right now, she had just shown her detractors exactly what that meant.

As Sunset and the others sat in the auditorium, they wondered what exactly was going to happen in today’s welcome assembly. Fluttershy had been completely zip-lipped on what was about to happen and that made it somewhat interesting to say the least. And now, that the assembly was going on, with the faculty seated at the forefront and the students all in the bleachers, everyone wondered what, exactly was about to happen.

One thing was for sure: given that Discord was still here, it likely involved him, Sunset mused. He’d changed from his earlier “work clothing” to a more conservative black polo and jeans and had been apparently popping through various classes throughout the school, acting half in his “Discord” persona and the other half a genuinely involved father, asking about Fluttershy’s classes. He’d even gone so far as to sit in on her AP English class, a class that Sunset was taking with Fluttershy. It was interesting, because Ms. Cheerilee ceded the floor to Discord, who discussed several romantic poets and lyricists in an engaging hour that made the students genuinely wish he could continue as the class bell rang.

And now they were all here, listening to the announcement of Ms. Celestia’s eventual departure as principal of Canterlot High, even though she would still be around for this one last year. Ms. Luna was introduced as the new principal, and some man named Mr. Neighsay was now the vice principal. For some reason, Sunset got a generally bad feeling about him, but she had to give him a chance. After all, that’s what her life was about now.

“Has anyone seen Fluttershy?” Rarity whispered.

“No, not really,” Sunset replied, wondering if they were now about to find out what their friend had in mind. After all, Discord had still not moved a muscle, even though he had his guitar with him.

Finally, Luna finished up what she was stating as her first year as principal of Canterlot High and looked at all the students. “Now,” she told them, “normally I would dismiss you back to class. But this year, we’re going to do something a little different. We have a special performance for you, a little musical number.” She turned to look at Discord. “If you would?”

He walked up to the microphone. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ms. Luna. It’s an honor to be here, really. I know you’re all expecting me to be Discord—” he said, spreading his arms out to gesture at the magnanimity of his presence, “—but really, I’m here today as a parent. Many of you have had your parents come to the school to see how things are, and frankly, as a father, I haven’t had that much of a chance. So, I’m not here as a rock star, but as a concerned dad. And besides, I’m an old man now,” he said with a grin. “Rock n’ roll is a youngster’s game. So I’d best let the next generation take on, shouldn’t I?” And then he snapped his fingers.

The lights where he was dimmed on cue, while a second spotlight lit up on the stage…and there, seated on a stool, with an acoustic guitar in hand, looking at them all, was Fluttershy.

“What?” Rainbow Dash gasped, wondering why the shy girl they’d known was on the stage. Apparently, she wasn’t the only one wondering, because the sudden silence of possibly the timidest girl at school, being on stage before the entire student body, probably would’ve frightened her like a rabbit.

But she looked at them all, gave a sweet smile, and started to play, letting her voice carry.

“People I know, places I go
Make me feel tongue-tied
I can see how people look down –
They’re on the inside

“Here’s where the story ends

“People I see, weary of me
Showing my good side
I can see how, people look down –
I’m on the outside

“Here’s where the story ends
Oh, here’s where the story ends.”

The entire group present sat, mesmerized at the sound of her voice, as if she’d been a siren singing on the rocks to sailors of old. It was already known she had musical talent, but unlike her unexpected performance in San Francisco, here she was now, giving her first official performance on her own, signaling her future, a direction that had been all but unthinkable a year before.

“It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore
Oh I never should have said the books that you read
Were all I loved you for
It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes me wonder why
And it’s the memories of the shed, which make me turn red –
Surprise, surprise surprise….”

“Wow,” Pinkie said, a little starstruck. “She’s really good!”

“Yeah, we knew she could play, but…wow, Ah’m impressed,” Applejack admitted, a proud smile for her friend plastered on her face.

“Well, ladies, I do believe we have more than one celebrity in our midst,” Rarity said with a grin.

Meanwhile, unaware of her friend’s compliments and lost in her music, Fluttershy continued to play on.

“Crazy I know, places I go
Make me feel so tired
I can see how people look down –
I’m on the outside

“Here’s where the story ends
Oh, here’s where the story ends

“It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore
And whoever would’ve thought the books that you brought
Were all I loved you for
Oh, the devil in me said, ‘Go down to the shed
I know where I belong’
But the only thing I ever really wanted to say
Was wrong, was wrong, was wrong

“It’s that little souvenir of a colorful year
Which makes me smile inside
So I cynically, cynically say ‘The world is that way –
Surprise, surprise surprise….’

“Here’s where the story ends
Oh, here’s where the story ends.”

As she stopped playing, she stood up and bowed before the audience, which erupted in applause. Lyra, in particular, made a mental note to talk to Fluttershy about maybe playing together. Noteworthy made a mental note to see if Fluttershy needed better strings for her guitar, though given who her father was, that probably wasn’t necessary. Flash and his former bandmembers looked on with a mixture of surprise and envy, as the one girl that had shown zero proclivities for music just outclassed them completely and utterly.

She then looked at the audience, brushed the hair out of her eyes and said into the mic, “This next number is something that I think the folks in music class will appreciate.” She gave the crowd a soft smile as her father walked on stage briefly, taking his daughter’s acoustic guitar and swapping it with her own electric guitar, a soft-pink 60s Jazzmaster Lacquer. As he departed the stage she launched into a solo electric guitar rendition of “Boléro”, the famous classical song by Conservatoire…and a song never intended for the guitar. In the middle of the song she then segued into “Bourée”, another song difficult to play on electric guitar. She next moved onto "El Gato Montés" by Pasadoble, a song that, due to its particular pacing, was one of the hardest songs to play on a stringed instrument…yet Fluttershy let herself flow onto her guitar, the dulcet tones moving from the strings to the amplifier and onto the ears of the entranced assembly. Finally she moved onto the last part of the suite, “La Passionara,” a more modern Balearic-inflected, but no less technically difficult track to play on guitar.

“You know,” Applejack whispered to the others, “Ah remember Flutters admitting she could play guitar, but Ah had no idea she was this good.”

“Yeah, she’s been holding out on us!” Pinkie said with a grin, leaning up against Sunset and sighing contentedly. “Romantic music – my favorite.”

Sunset said nothing, not wanting to make a scene at the moment while one of her closest friends was on stage, giving her debut performance that was quite literally mesmerizing anyone who was watching it.

“She’s incredible,” Rarity said, a proud smile on her face.

“Yup!” was all that Rainbow could say.

Finally, as the song wound down and people clapped all the more, she waited until the audience quieted down, and Discord came back on stage, killed the mic, and whispered something in her ear. A barely audible “Are you sure?” escaped her lips, and he nodded. She reached over and gave him a kiss on the cheek and turned the mic on. “Um…there’s a song I’ve been working on that isn’t completely finished, but if you don’t mind…I’d like to play it.” She blushed. “Please bear with us; it’s the first time it’s being performed in public.”

Us? Sunset wondered.

A second later the answer came as the rest of Discord’s band appeared on stage, as cheers and shouts of joy rang out. The bandmembers, all of which were dressed surprisingly as conservative as he was now, carried with them simpler traveling gear: Screw Loose hefted a small set of electric drums, while Freebase carried an UltraLight PortaBass, an instrument that was practically only the neck, extended down to the body. Screwball hefted a Traveller LTD EC-1, and to everyone’s surprise, Discord brought out a laptop, set up for sampling performance.

Looking at the audience as if speaking to each individually, Fluttershy began to croon.

“You said I lay down easy
Trust in what you said
Lead you right into me
You know that I was ready
Begin at the beginning
Before you broke my heart
I can’t believe we finished
Something that we didn’t start

“I can’t believe it’s over –
See for yourself
I can’t believe it’s over –
There’s nothing there
(See for yourself)
See for yourself,
There’s nothing there
(See for yourself)
See for yourself

“Look at all the damage
That we didn’t heal
Love’s an empty language
If you’ll never feel
I tried to make it better
Every single turn –
Such a simple lesson…
I guess we’ll never learn”

When it was over, there was no other way to describe it other than as that the auditorium had become a stellar nursery, witness to a new star being born. The audience listened, rapt, as Discord and his band was actually overshadowed by the musical talents of his own daughter. As she ended and bowed, the room broke into standing ovation, and it took Luna coming out with a bullhorn to call for order.

“We’d like to take the time to thank Discord and his band for giving us a beginning to the school year that I don’t think anyone here will forget anytime soon,” Luna said to the others. “And given that the school day is ending, well, we’ll just leave it here and let you have your chance to talk to the band and ask questions. Until then, students, see you tomorrow!”

Sunset and the others remained in the bleachers, letting the others swarm over Discord’s band and Fluttershy, pressing for questions, autographs, and the like. No doubt by the end of the day Sunset wouldn’t be the only one in her circle with frequent requests for dates or similar. Either way, it was clear that Fluttershy’s star was ascendant, and that likely in the near future, Discord wouldn’t be the only member of his family on the Billboard charts.

“So, what did you think of your first day of school, girls?” Twilight asked as she and her cousins met outside by the courtyard fountain.

“That was amazing, Twily,” Adagio said, holding her backpack over her shoulder. “Those idiots in the student government thought they were going to pull one over on you, but you slammed it right back into their faces. I’m proud of you.”

“Amazing, nothing!” Aria added. “I don’t think even the greatest of orators could have done so well on the fly! I’m totally impressed that you pulled it off like it was nothing.”

Sonata shrugged. “I knew our Twily could do it, right, Tavi?”

“Better than I could have,” Octavia admitted, leaning on Sonata’s shoulder. “But then again, that’s to be expected from Twilight Sparkle, superlative student and diva extraordinaire, am I right?”

Twilight blushed. “Thanks, girls.” She pulled out her phone. “So, Coco, Crackle and Ribby are supposed to meet us here, right?”

Aria nodded, but commented, “Yes, but you two will have to pull Coco and Crackle aside when we get a chance. I’m not sure it’s wise to introduce Ribby to the other girls just yet. Ease her in a bit, especially given how gunshy she is, and between Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, they might overwhelm her.”

“Already taken care of,” Twilight pointed out. “Pheo and I explained everything to Coco as we caught her in the hall after the break. Yeah, I’m sure not having six potential CMCs together in the same place would be a good idea.” The plum-haired scholar giggled. “I guess we’ll just have to live with the spacetime continuum remaining intact for now.”

“Wow, is it weird that we actually have to think about things like that for realsies now?” Sonata groaned.

“Twily!” Coco went up and glomped Twilight, practically rubbing against her like a cat.

“Oh, look, your pet found you,” Adagio cracked.

“Hey, Coco, you three ready to go?”

Coco nodded. A few seconds later, Crackle approached. Behind her, trying not to look as though she was terrified out of her wits, was Raspberry.

“Okay, it’s going to be a tight squeeze in my van,” Octavia admitted, “but we can all fit in there.”

“It’s okay, you can leave me behind,” Raspberry said. “I’m not worth—”

“Ribby, you’re our friend,” Crackle told her. “We don’t leave friends behind.”

“Really?” Raspberry asked, as if it were the most amazing thing she’d ever heard.

“Do you think that Pheo would leave you behind?” Adagio asked her.

“No, but she’s family,” came the response. “She has to put up with me.”

“That’s not true, and you should know that,” Twilight told the girl gently. “She loves you. She says you’re like her little sister, and trust me: being a little sister myself, big sisters are always there for you.”

“Yeah!” Coco told her. “Her big sister is my cousin and Sunny is the greatest!” Coco looked up at Twilight. “Is Sunny going to be there today?”

“I think so. I don’t think she has to work today,” Twilight said as she got into the van. Sure enough, even for a minivan with plenty of seating, it was a tight squeeze for eight girls, and as they took off, Adagio made a few comments about how, seated on her lap, Coco was like the newest plushie in the eldest triplet’s collection. Coco blushed furiously, but overall took it in stride.

After all, the first day of school was over. Tomorrow would be just another day.

Fluttershy slumped in the seat of the limo, looking drained. “I don’t know about you all, but I’m exhausted,” she admitted. “I’ll be glad when we go back to somewhat of a normal schedule again.”

“I have a feeling this is the new normal for us, Flutters,” Sunset told her. “So, how many?”

“Lots,” the chiffon-haired beauty admitted. “Especially since my social profile has changed slightly. I just hope it dies down soon – I’m still not entirely comfortable with this much attention.”

“Well, I for one am proud of you,” Rarity told her. “You handled that much better than the time I had you modelling for me.”

“Well, I guess we go back to Flutters’ old place to get our cars and…hey, anyone want to meet up at the café afterwards? We can have a ‘yay, we survived the first day of school!’ ad hoc party!” Pinkie insisted. “Plus, I already texted Twily, Tavi and the others and they’ll be there, too!”

“Well, that’s good – don’t want to leave them out,” Applejack insisted.

“Yeah, well, too bad our little sisters had something already planned; given they’re friends with Coco and Crackle, you’d think they’d want to hang out with them and whatnot, right?” Rainbow asked.

“Apparently there’s a new girl that they all made friends with,” Rarity explained, “and she’s…well, apologies, Fluttershy, dear, but she apparently seems to be even more timid than you used to be.”

“No offense taken. I know I used to be pretty bad,” Fluttershy admitted. “But thanks to all of you, I’ve gotten a little bit better about it.”

“A lot better,” Rainbow scoffed. “Girl, you just played in front of the entire school without batting an eye! That’s more than ‘a little better’!”

After a few minutes, the limo pulled up in front of their old house, and Fluttershy got out, hugging her father and his bandmates, thanking them for the backup.

“Hey, trust me, kid,” Screwball told her. “In a few years, you’ll outclass us as stars. Just watch,” she said with a wink.

“I don’t think I’ll be anywhere near as good as you, Violet,” Fluttershy told her.

Screwball laughed. “Kid, you’re already better. You just don’t realize it yet. I know you didn’t grow up around your old man, but you clearly got his genes, that’s for sure.”

“Honestly, we’re proud of you,” Screw Loose told her. “You handled that way better than I did when I was your age, kiddo. Trust me, you’re going to be a star – bigger than us, even.”

Fluttershy blushed but didn’t know what to say.

“They’re right, you know.” Discord embraced his daughter. “I am beaucoup proud of you, sweetie – you’re going to be bigger and better than I ever was, and as a father, you don’t know how proud that makes me. Guess we’re going to have to make room in the house for your own platinum records, huh?”

Fluttershy hugged her father, her face completely red from embarrassment. “Thanks, Dad.”

“Okay, you go off and have fun with the girls,” Discord told her. “The rest of us have to discuss business not related to the music industry. You know, boring stuff like stock options and compounded interest.”

“What?” Rainbow asked.

“What, you thought that the band was just about playing music?” Freebase asked Rainbow. “Not even. Maybe in the beginning it is, but then reality sets in. When you set up a band, you’re not just making a band, you’re starting a business.”

“Many good bands have fallen by the wayside just because of business arrangements,” Screw Loose pointed out. “The Beach Boys, for example.”

Rainbow, however, looked completely crestfallen, the thought that her favorite rock artists were businesspeople overwhelming her mind. “I can’t…but…you…AAARRRRGH!”

“Rainbow, dear,” Rarity noted, “I have a feeling that athletics are much the same way.”

“What? No! It can’t be!”

“I’m afraid it is, kid,” Freebase told her. “Dated this chick who plays for the Seattle Reign – the soccer team up there – and when she’s not working on her kicks, she’s focusing on her marketing and real estate portfolio. Learned a lot about the business side of the house from her.”

Rainbow looked as though someone had shot her dog right in front of her. “My dreams are ruined! Why does uncool things have to slip into my life? Why am I cursed so?”

Rarity rolled her eyes. “And they say I have a flair for the dramatic,” she deadpanned.

On the other side of the world, the sun rose over the horizon, ready to signal the following day. But in the elegant Japanese city of Otaru, things were going on that defied explanation. In a store filled with artisanal glass, an old man looked at the sign on the door. Normally, he would have opened his shop for the day, expecting tourists to come in and purchase some of his wares, as Otaru was famous for its handcrafted glass. But not today.

And not ever again. The warning he’d received last night made it very clear that they knew. Those bastards in the Satsuma Rengo-kai knew, and they were coming for her. The warning that had cost his friend his life – and the police didn’t care. Oh, they said that it was an accident, that the old woman had been too elderly and infirm, and that the driver’s car had faulty brakes and that everyone was shocked and horrified…but he knew.

The police would do nothing to stop them; hell, some of them might even be on the payrolls of the Satsuma Rengo-kai. Even other yakuza groups, like the Aizuya-ikka Kodaka and the Kanto Komatsuya-ikka, feared the Satsuma and its considerable might, both its conventional…and its unconventional. And now they were coming after her and there was little he could do about it. Though he had some skill in onmyōdō, he was no Abe no Seimei, not even a truly-trained onmyoji; there was also the inevitability that the Satsuma Rengo-kai’s magic was far vaster and even if not that, the truth was that he was an old man and running on declining time. He could not protect her forever.

They had to leave. Tonight, they would depart, head to the place where they wouldn’t be suspected: Hakodate, home base of the Satsuma Rengo-kai. He’d made arrangements to let them think they were moving to Liberdade in Brazil, out of their immediate grasp. Of course they would send forces there; once the Rengo-kai wanted you under their thumb, you either acquiesced or died. At least, if they hid themselves in Hakodate, they could hide under the shadow of the beasts themselves, at least until he could contact the Chīkyū no Megami for aid.

He felt her power rising, even from here: she was real, he now knew it – no mere legend, but a true awesome power that even the Rengo-kai would have to bow down to. The Megami would protect her, he felt it in his bones. But the strange thing was, if his divination was correct, the Megami was American. He’d always expected the Megami to be Japanese, born in a place of legendary power; maybe, if worst came to, from a European nation, originating from a fount of mystic strength in one of those places. But he’d been to America when his son had been a boy, and he knew of no place there – or Canada or even Mexico – where magic power ruled over science. So it made no sense.

Or, he thought with a small smile, maybe that’s what was needed. Americans were loud, obnoxious and gun-crazy. Maybe the Megami, being American, used her magic with abandon like some sort of superhero, fighting until the enemy was down like a truly fearless paladin. Despite the pining of warrior legends in his own culture’s mythos, Japan had no such real spirit of budō any longer, and maybe it would take a cowboy – or rather a cowgirl – to succeed where there were no more samurai.

Maybe the Megami would be a fiery redhead or an intense violette or maybe even an otherworldly platinum-haired beauty. One thing was for sure: if she helped, she would be no pushover, that much he knew.

“Help.” At the moment Sunset was being triple-glomped, on one side by Coco, on the other by Rose, and a third, with Pinkie trying to pry the two of them off her love while trying not to look incredibly jealous at the same time, given that her aunt and uncle were watching with no small amount of amusement. The alicorn found herself at the middle of the strange tug-of-war, pleading to her friends to get her out of this.

Trying hard – and failing – to not laugh at her sister’s predicament, Twilight said, “You got yourself into this one, sis.”


“Being related to just about everyone in sight?” Octavia guffawed. “I mean at this rate we could play Six Degrees of Sunset and the entire first degree would be nothing but people who are related to you!”

“Well, I don’t know what’s going on,” Crackle admitted, “but I think Ribby needs to be in the middle of a huggle ball.”

Raspberry blushed furiously. “Crackle!” she gasped, then hid underneath the table, causing her friend to laugh all the harder.

Fluttershy went over and helped the girl out from under the table. She and her friends had been shocked by meeting Raspberry’s counterpart and how vastly different she was from the unicorn they knew, but they took it in stride. Aiding the timorous girl back to her seat, she said, “It’s okay to be afraid sometimes, you know.”


Fluttershy nodded as she put her arms around Raspberry. “I used to be afraid of a lot of things, but my friends helped me to be stronger. And I’m still nervous a lot of times, but I work through it.”

“But I’m worthless!” Raspberry moaned, starting to cry again.

Fluttershy hugged the girl close and hummed a soft lullaby, getting her to calm down. Strangely enough, Raspberry soon fell asleep in the girl’s arms.

“Looks like Sunny’s not going to be the only one with girlfriends at this rate,” Rainbow cracked.

“Kinda ironic, that coming from you,” Applejack snarked.

“Fuck you, AJ.”

Holding the girl still, Fluttershy said, “Raini, she’s been traumatized. Trust me, I know traumatized.”

“Raini?” several of the girls repeated.

Rainbow blushed furiously. “I told you not to call me that anymore, Flutters!” Rainbow stammered.

“Ah’m gonna file that one away for further use,” Applejack said with a massive grin.

“Sorry,” Fluttershy said with a brief hint of a smile on her face that indicated, no, she wasn’t sorry. But then the moment passed. “Seriously, she’s been hurt. Do you think your sister could…?” she asked Twilight without asking.

It was Octavia that answered. “Sunny would have done it for me, if it were possible,” she said softly. “But she can’t. It’s, er, not in her skillset, if you get what I mean.”

“Plus, really, it’s not my sister’s business to do so,” Twilight noted. “We shouldn’t encourage her to act beyond whatever it is she does already.”

“Yeah,” Fluttershy said. “It’s just…sad, that’s all.”

A few minutes later, Phoenix came in and saw Fluttershy tending to her sleeping cousin. A quick explanation was given, after which the older girl profusely thanked the younger for helping out. Fluttershy, however, politely suggested that given her timidity, the chiffon-haired girl would be more than happy to assist, to which Phoenix thanked her. Finally, she offered to take the younger girls home, which given the size of Octavia’s minivan, was more than workable enough.

Finally, the evening crowd started to come in and much to both of their dismay, both Rose and Pinkie had to get back to work and instead settled for looking at Sunset from afar, occasionally glaring daggers at one another. The rest of them continued to work on homework and talked about their day, until Sunset noted the time and suggested she and her family get going back home. The rest of them then agreed to meet later on that evening on the net and bit by bit, they filed out of the Sugarcube Corner Café for the day.

Once they got home, Sonata immediately commandeered the kitchen, much to her aunt’s relief. Tonight the teen had opted to make a quick cottage pie for everyone. Afterwards, they talked about their day and how they thought things were going to go at school this year. Aria showed everyone the recording of Twilight’s speech, impressing everyone, while Sunset showed what she recorded of Fluttershy’s performance. Adagio teased that at this rate, Sunset was going to be left behind in terms of importance, to which Sunset said that was going to be more than enough for her.

After that, the girls went to their bedroom and chatted with their friends for a bit. Finally, Adagio called the triplets together to go running for an hour, followed by some weapons practice. As for the others, Octavia began to practice her instrument while Twilight watched and Sunset answered several emails, two of which were from Shimmer. Spike, as usual, gave his mother grief about not wanting to go to bed early, to which Sunset told him that he had to behave, since with their father on travel he had to be the “big strong guy”; that seemed to work and Spike went off to bed, much to Velvet’s chagrin. Finally, she had to turn in as well, stating she had an early meeting in the morning with her staff, and asked whether Sunset would mind dropping Spike off at school along the way. Sunset didn’t have a problem with it, so with that, the matron went to bed.

Finally, the clock burned close to midnight and the girls, one by one, turned in for the night, until there was just Twilight and Sunset left. The two looked at one another, smiles on their faces.

“Well, tomorrow’s another day, sis,” Twilight told her. She then went over and gave her a hug and a peck on the cheek, saying, “This last year has been amazing, and I’m glad I ended up with such a wonderful sister.”

Sunset smiled. “I’m lucky I have a family that means the world to me.”

“Well, I’m going to sleep,” Twilight said. “Talk to you in the morning, sis.”

“What, not joining me?”

Twilight smirked. “And what? Have Pinkie angry with me because I got to sleep with you first? No thanks.”

Sunset mock-pouted. “I’m going to get you for that, sis.”

“I’ll hold you to that promise,” Twilight insisted with a smile. “Night.”

Sunset found herself in a strange underground grotto, with clear, glowing waters and strange plants. Occasionally fossils could be seen, but as for an entrance, that was nowhere to be found.


Sunset reacted to the voice, following it down a deep but narrow rabbit hole and into a massive cavern, where titanic stones looked as though they’d been carved into geometric shapes. For a mere human, she could have been in trouble, but—


—for an alicorn such as herself, she merely shifted to her true form and flew forward, looking at the intricate stonework and wondering where she was. There were paths, which indicated that someone or something had walked through this way once, though the walkways were so worn that several of them had deteriorated, leaving a sort of jumping puzzle. In a place where there was no visible bottom and there was nothing but deep mist and an ethereal red light that seemed to radiate from everywhere and nowhere at once, there seemed to be a massive amount of magic, more than she had seen anywhere outside of Equestria and possibly enough to rival even some parts of her homeland.

She flew on until she found a strange hole behind a waterfall—


—and she changed back to her human form, entering the small tunnel and sliding down a chute, pushed by the water. There was a danger that she could have drowned but given that she was an alicorn complete with an alicorn’s toughness, she persisted and came to a stop on the ground. Soaking wet, she cast a spell to dry her clothing, then looked up to see something that amazed her.

Before her was an endless expanse of smooth, polished stone, as if laid atop one another. Despite being probably hundreds of miles down beneath the surface, a dim light seemed to permeate everywhere, as if a giant fluorescent lightbulb had been turned on. Thatches of grass grew, scattered throughout the whole of the place, and here and there an unidentifiable red flower grew, filling the room with an intoxicating, exotic scent. In the distance a massive stone wall sat, cracked and pitted, with the ruins of a perfect circle, bisected by the ruined wall.

And at the base of it all, half-covered in grass and flowers, looked to be a ruined temple of some kind. Shinto, if she recalled. It looked ancient and at the same time—


—had an otherworldly beauty. Sunset walked over to the doors, the faded goldleaf barely covering the rotting doors that still somehow remained intact despite however long this ancient ruin had lain here. With a tug, she pulled open the door—


Sunset woke up with a start. She wasted no time, teleporting out of her room as she heard several other people get out of bed at the same time.

Appearing before her bedroom door, she watched as the triplets appeared, all carrying pistols, with Adagio barking orders to check the house while she stayed to protect the family. Aria and Sonata wordlessly complied, with Aria moving through the upstairs rooms while Sonata moved through the lower.

“Sunny, what the hell just happened?” Sunset turned to look at Velvet, who looked terrified out of her wits. A second later, she saw the same look on Twilight and Octavia’s faces.

“Check on Spike,” she said. “He’s probably terrified right now.”

It was then a second later that Sunset’s phone started ringing. She summoned it to her hand and answered it.

“Sunset!” Rarity’s voice on the other end was frantic. “What was that?”

“I don’t know; I’m looking into it,” Sunset told her. At the same time, she heard a notification chime indicating that she had a voicemail. She quickly ended her call with Rarity only to find that her friends in the know were all calling, including Shimmer. She sent texts to everyone, assuring them that she was looking into it and that they would be safe.

Sunset immediately began casting spells and magical circles appeared in the air as Sunset set protective wards on the houses of everyone she knew. Whether or not they knew magic, she was going to take no chances.

Velvet came out of Spike’s room. “He’s freaked out, justifiably,” she explained. “I told him he could sleep with me tonight.”

“House is clear,” Adagio reported, “but we’ll be doing guard duty tonight, just in case. Ari, you take first watch; change into your gear and use frangible rounds. Wake Soni in two hours, and I’ll take the final shift.”

“Roger that,” Aria said in a businesslike tone as she ran over to her bedroom.

“Sunny?” Twilight said, worry creeping into her voice. “What the hell was that?”

“I don’t know,” Sunset admitted. “But whatever it was, it decided that it was going to knock on our metaphorical door in the worst way possible.” Sunset called her power to her hand and her eyes glowed. “And if it means harm, it’s going to find out that I knock right back.”

Author's Note:

The songs performed during Fluttershy's set:
"Here's Where the Story Ends" by the Sundays
"Bolero" by Maurice Ravel
"Bourrée in E minor" (more commonly known as simply "Bourrée") by J. S. Bach; the arrangement she's playing was made famous by Jethro Tull
"El Gato Montés" by Manuel Penella
"La Passionara" by the Blow Monkeys
"I Can't Believe It's Over" by Bent

Seven Days in Sunny June is at an end now. But the story continues on in

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Comments ( 25 )

Is it wrong that I wish Suri and all of her peons need to be completely humiliated? Personally I hope her lies on the stand come out and she gets to go to big girls prison and she gets made someone's female dog. Now I wonder how Sunny is going to answer the call?

Time will tell.

It looks like things are really starting to pick up. Although the next phases won't be as long as this one (although anything can happen), you obviously intend to have plenty for us going on.

Very much so. Things don't stop on one side of the portal just because the other calms down and vice versa.

Already failing to wait for GAoA!

It's only two weeks. You can last two weeks.


Yes I can, but if it can get here sooner that'd be even better.

“At the hole where he went in, Red-Eye called to Wrinkle-Skin Hear what little Red-Eye saith: ‘Nag, come up and dance with death!’”


Well done! Well done indeed!:pinkiehappy::twilightsmile::raritywink::yay::ajsmug::rainbowlaugh:

Pardon me if I missed it, but what exactly got all of them riled up? Did they all have personalized versions of the same dream?

Also, amazing shit all around for the girls in this chapter, and to close off this story. I totally ship Twiright (Divlight? Twivine?) and I concur with badninja that Suri and co. need some humiliation a bit more public. Preferably as a result of their own attempts to screw over Twi.

Everyone got personalized versions of the same dream. Including some, that you'll find out in time, that aren't supposed to have them.

The Twi shipping department is up to Blue.

Someday Suri and her friends will get what's coming to them.

When I saw the name Bouree, I was actually thinking of the Idan Rachel Project, lol

Well there's what fucks me, huh? Fine, I'll drop it. :twilightangry2:

I've been gone. And I'm quite behind. But since 7dsj is finished I'm going to go ahead and see about putting it all together and in order. It'll be fun. Unless the side stories aren't done? Whatever I want to see everything play out in order instead of skipping around and forgetting things. Not gonna lie. Making it all just one big book sounds amazing to me. And I'm excited to try.

The only sidestories not finished yet are SIO, BDIST, and CL and they're not central to the overall plot,so you're okay on missing those.

Enjoy the read: it was an adventure writing it!

Its gonna be great. I'm going to download every chapter individually and copy and paste them into a Google docs and download that as an epub. Then read it on my phone. I'll even give a link if you do not mind.

If you need any help figuring out the exact timeline, someone went and wrote it down here. Hope you enjoy putting it all together as much as we all did creating it!

Thank you that helps me out a lot.


There's no language rule here. If you don't want to swear, then just don't. Fully censoring it and then spoiler-tagging it is a bit excessive.

Ah, but it is more fun that way. :pinkiecrazy:

Also, please reply within the same chapter as the original post. The website doesn't give notifications to cross-chapter replies. Frustrating, I know, but that is how the site is coded.


Excuse the fuck out of you? Since when are YOU a mod?

Also, that issue may be on your end. I have never had this issue myself. For example, years old comments on mid-story chapters were replied to long after the story was completed and sequels were made. And I got notifications about them as well.

Well, that was an unexpected, disproportionately hyper-aggressive response. :twilightoops:

Turning my "for comidic effect" sensor off for a sec, what the God damned, mother fucking, cock sucking HELL did I say to piss you off that badly?!? I assume it was the second paragraph, but I went with a polite neutral tone in order to PREVENT accidentally pissing anyone off. :facehoof: I wasn't trying to self impose some vague rule, I was simply pointing out a bug that I really, REALLY want to pimp slap the dev team into getting fixed, but realize that coding is complicated and "fixing" something this minor would no doubt break three other far more important systems. :applejackconfused:

...and dispite fear of making things worse, your counter-point doesn't hold up, as the necro-reply you make reference to was probably from someone late in reading the story in question, and replied to your original post in the same chapter in which it was made. Which was the point I was trying to make in the first place. :pinkiesad2:


Was from the author, actually.

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