• Published 6th Mar 2018
  • 3,476 Views, 207 Comments

I Don't Need Magic - Undome Tinwe

Fifteen years into the future, Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer reunite to stop a thief from bringing magic back into the world.

  • ...

Chapter 1: Fifteen Years Later

"...Once again, I want to thank all of you for your generous donations. With your contributions, we're going to be able to give lifesaving aid to thousands of children in need around the world.

"I also want to raise a toast to Rarity for donating these beautiful dresses for today's charity auction. Rarity, your generous heart is an inspiration to us all."

Sunset took a sip from her Champagne flute. The others in the room all did the same, and for a few seconds the room was silent save for the tinkling of crystal against crystal.

"Now then, I think I've taken up enough of your time for today. Please, enjoy your dinners and have a happy evening here at the Equinox Ball."

There was a round of polite applause as Sunset sat back down at her table.

"Bravo, Miss Shimmer. An excellent speech as always. Equinox Labs continues to serve as a shining example of all the good that can come from merging corporate success with a sincere dedication to helping others."

Sunset smiled at the man sitting beside her. "Thanks, Fancy Pants. Although, I can't take all the credit. This event was mostly Rarity's idea."

Across the table, the purple-haired woman blushed, a lovely shade of pink staining her white cheeks. "Oh Sunset, you flatter me. All I did was mention how lovely it would be to celebrate our new Luminosity collection with a charity auction. You are the one who brought this event to life."

"I must say, Miss Rarity, your new collection is unlike anything I've ever seen before," Upper Crust said as she leaned forward in her seat next to Rarity. "Wherever did you find the inspiration for such a daring concept?"

As Rarity turned to respond to Upper Crust's question, Fancy Pants spoke to Sunset. "So, Miss Shimmer, this Evershine fabric of yours appears to have been a rousing success, if the reactions to Miss Rarity's dresses are any indication." An easy smile played behind his thick moustache. "I assume you're looking to license out the product?"

"Actually, we've got an exclusivity contract with Carousel. They're the only ones who can make clothing with it." Sunset waited for the response she knew was going to come from Fancy.

"Ah, but there are many applications outside of the fashion industry that wouldn't fall under that contract, yes?"

Sunset smiled, and even a shrewd businessman like Fancy Pants couldn't tell it wasn't genuine. "I'm listening."

For the remainder of the dinner, Sunset found herself engaged in a battle of wits and will as she negotiated a licensing contract with Fancy Pants. It should have been a wonderful time, but despite the fact that Fancy was one of her favorite sparring partners in the boardroom, Sunset couldn't help but keep glancing at the clock on the wall behind him, watching the seconds tick by painfully slowly.

Finally, after spending far too long slogging through what should've been an exhilarating negotiation, the clock struck nine and the "Ball" portion of the Equinox Ball really began.

The tables were cleared away to reveal a dance floor, and couples began stepping onto the wooden surface at the center of the room to dance in time with the music. Or try to, at least.

Sunset abstained from the waltzing, flitting around the festivities instead to search for her prey. She found him taking full advantage of the open bar in one corner of the room. "Hey, Flim," she said, taking a seat beside one of the two founders of FlimFlamCorp. "How's it going?"

"Hello, Sunset." Flim's words were slightly slurred as he greeted Sunset. "What a wonderful, marvelous, stupendous Ball you've thrown."

"Thanks." Sunset ordered her own drink in order have an excuse to stay at the bar. "I hope you're enjoying yourself."

"I sure am," Flim replied. "Our patented Flim Flam Miracle Curative Tonic has attracted quite a lot of attention. We've got investors lining up for the chance to be a part of the next revolution in health care."

He leaned in towards Sunset until she could smell the alcohol on his breath. "The offer's still open if you want. We could double your investment in just a few months."

This was going to be even easier than she thought, Sunset mused as she reached into her pocket. "Well, Equinox is always looking for new business opportunities," she said, a fake smile plastered on her face as she mimicked his body language. "I've heard a lot about this miracle cure. People have been saying that it's almost magical how well it works."

Flim didn't react at all to Sunset's word choice, and Sunset's heart sank. "That it is, Sunset," he said, a flash of cunning still coming through his unfocused eyes. "You've read the testimonials, then?"

"I have," Sunset replied. "Tell me, just what is the secret behind your miracle cure?"

Flim chuckled. "Now now, Sunset," he said, sounding like an adult speaking to a child. "I can't tell you that. Trade secret and all."

"Of course." Sunset picked up her drink and stood up. "Well, I'll be sure to have my people talk to yours." She wrapped an arm around the shoulder of the drunken entrepreneur before walking away. "We'll be in touch."

As her arm made contact with the exposed skin of his neck, Sunset drew a sliver of power from the pendant hidden in her dress. She felt a pang in her heart at the thought of another permanent decrease in her magic reserves as she was suddenly flooded with memories from her target.

After quickly sorting through the foreign thoughts, Sunset walked away from the bar. "Have a great night, Flim," she said, her voice never betraying the disgust she was currently feeling.

"Same to you, Sunset." Flim returned to his drinks as Sunset walked away, her heart heavy as she mentally crossed off the last lead on her list.

"Penny for your thoughts?"

Sunset nearly jumped in surprise. "Rarity! I didn't see you there."

Rarity smiled. "I gathered as much from your pensive look. You're generally much more cheerful at soirees like this one."

"Just have a lot on my mind," Sunset replied casually. "Thinking about all the stuff that still needs to be done."

"I know the feeling, darling. It's only two weeks until the Wonderbolts Exhibition and we've barely finalized anything. I love Pinkie Pie, really I do, but that girl needs to learn that not all of us are as comfortable with spontaneity as she is."

"She'll pull through in the end. She always does."

Rarity sighed. "I suppose you're right. And it will be nice to have Rainbow Dash back in Canterlot."

"I guess it'll be fun to have the six of us together again," Sunset replied.

Rarity's smile faltered. "You're thinking about her again, aren't you?"

"I – Yeah. Something came up that reminded me of her," Sunset didn't want to lie to Rarity, but she wasn't ready to reveal the whole truth yet.

"I see." Rarity's gaze turned annoyingly sympathetic. "I suppose working on the Evershine fabric is bringing back some old memories."

"Yeah, Twilight's the one who figured out most of the groundwork for replicating it before…" Sunset shook her head. "Enough about the past. It is what it is. How's your evening been?"

"Oh, it's been simply marvelous. I've already received enough orders to last the rest of the season." Rarity's tone did a complete one-eighty as she effortlessly switched topics. "Once again, I have to thank you for the exclusivity contract on the Evershine fabric. It truly is the perfect fabric; stretchy but not clingy, and shimmery but not showy, and with the main pieces of my winter line being made from it, this year is going to be very profitable for Carousel."

"Hey, you're the one who's paying Equinox a lot of money for that exclusivity. Besides, it was another version of you who invented the material in the first place, so I figure it's only fair you get first dibs on it."

Sunset pushed away the creeping memories before speaking again. "Anyways, about that exclusivity contract. Fancy Pants has some ideas about industrial uses of the fabric, and even though licensing it out to him for that kind of stuff wouldn't be a breach of our contract, I just wanted to make sure you were okay with it."

"Hmm, well, I'll have to get my lawyers to review our agreement, but as long it doesn't infringe on the fashion industry, there shouldn't be a problem..."

Forcing away thoughts about the past and the future, Sunset spent the rest of the evening engaged in pleasant conversation with Rarity. She even almost managed to forget about her troubles while she spoke to her closest friend.

It was well past midnight by the time the Ball drew to a close and Sunset could return home, but the ever-working president of her company was still online when she booted up her video chat program.

"Good morning, Starlight," Sunset said with a yawn as video stream appeared on screen.

"Morning, Sunset." Starlight Glimmer, President of Equinox Labs, replied cheerfully. Sunset swore the woman never slept. "How was the Ball? Did you find out anything useful?"

Sunset let out a snort. "FlimFlamCorps' 'Miracle Tonic' is just water, sugar, and food coloring, with just enough active ingredients to confuse people."

Starlight raised an eyebrow. "That's one hell of a con they're running, then."

Sunset shrugged. "They'll fail FDA approval in a week and do some legal loophole stuff to keep the investment money."

"Are we going to do anything about it?"

"We've got connections we could call to make sure an investigation get launched," Sunset replied. "Other than that, we can't really afford to spend more time on this."

"I guess." Starlight frowned. "So that's our last lead, then?"

"Yeah, we've got nothing else to go on. I guess we'll have to go with Plan B." Sunset grimaced at the thought of the upcoming confrontation that said plan entailed. "I'll head out to Hayvard tomorrow. Has the news about my vacation gone out yet?"

Starlight nodded. "I've told everyone who needs to know that you'll still be available for consultation if they really need you." A pause. "You know, it's not too late to change your mind. We can figure this out without her."

"We need her expertise," Sunset said with a sigh. "Normal investigative work isn't getting us anywhere."

"If what you've told me about her is true, then she's a threat to everything we've built in the last fifteen years," Starlight argued.

"Fifteen years is a long time. Maybe she's changed."

Starlight looked sceptical. "You really think so?"

Sunset shrugged. "You never know. Besides, it doesn't matter. I'll make sure she just does what we need her to do and nothing else, okay? Just let me know if anything important comes up, especially if it has to do with the incident or anything else weird like that."

"Fine, but I really hope you know what you're doing." With those final, uncertain words, Starlight ended the call.

"I hope I know what I'm doing too," Sunset muttered before turning off her computer and heading to bed.

Tomorrow was going to be a long day.

"...And so we see that if we take any signal that obeys the Dire Change conditions and apply the Four Ear transform to it, the total energy of the signal is conserved. Next week, we'll look at how the Four Ear transform naturally implies the uncertainty principle. And remember, the problem set is due on Monday at the beginning of class."

As she spoke those last words, Professor Twilight Sparkle observed a mass exodus from the lecture hall more efficient and effective than any fire drill could ever hope to achieve.

She suppressed a sigh as she did her best to field questions from the stragglers, a little of her good cheer returning as she guided them towards their answers. Even if most of her students just needed the credits, it was still worth it for the few who truly wanted to learn. That's what she kept telling herself, at least.

When the last of the students had left, she packed up her notes left the lecture hall, heading towards the elevator.

"Hello, Twilight."

"Hey, Moondancer." Twilight turned to face her approaching colleague. "How's it going?"

"My paper on spectroscopic analysis of quantum tunnelling was accepted this morning."

"That's wonderful! Congratulations!"

"Thanks." The elevator doors opened and the two professors stepped in. "I'm thinking of extending the analysis to microscale objects, but I'd have to figure out the solid-state stuff first. Would you be interested in a collaboration? There's no one else in the world I can think of who would be better suited to this."

Twilight tensed. "Sorry, I've got a lot on my plate right now. Have you tried asking Minuette?" As the elevator reached its destination, Twilight stepped out, hoping that would be the end of it.

Unfortunately, Moondancer followed. "Not yet. I wanted to speak to you first. Are you sure you don't have the time? This could be really big for both of us."

"I know, but I'm really busy right now and I don't think I could take on another collaboration." Twilight hoped the weak excuse would be enough, since she couldn't tell her the truth. Somehow, she didn't think the other scientist would appreciate Twilight talking about how she had already solved the problem fifteen years ago with magic.

Oh, and that she had no desire to work on the problem again for fear of the memories it would bring back.

"Fine, I'll ask Minuette then," Moondancer said as they approached Twilight's lab. "Although, I have to wonder what's so much more important than a potentially Nobel Prize-winning paper."

Twilight was saved from having to answer by the appearance of one of her graduate students standing outside her lab. "Twilight!" she shouted as she saw her supervisor. "There's someone here to see you! You won't believe who it is!" The girl was practically bouncing on her toes, and the way she almost seemed to be vibrating brought to mind an old friend of Twilight's.

Twilight eyed her student warily. "Who is it, Dinky?" she asked. The preppy little fifth-year currently serving as Twilight's teaching assistant was always a little hyper, but this was a bit much, even for her.

"Sunset Shimmer! The founder of Equinox Labs herself!"

Twilight Sparkle felt her heart drop into her stomach. "Did you say Sunset Shimmer?" It had to be a mistake. Maybe she'd misheard Dinky. Or maybe Dinky had gotten the name wrong.

"Yep! She said she wanted to talk to you! Isn't it exciting? The CEO of Equinox labs is in our lab right now!" Dinky's words crushed any hopes of a miscommunication. "I wonder what she wants? Oooh, maybe she wants to form a partnership with us? They've never done it before, but maybe they'll see how amazing our work is and reconsider and..."

Twilight barely heard anything she said. An icy chill seeped down her spine, paralyzing her as her mind raced, trying to figure out why Sunset was here.

A number of answers came to mind, each worse than the last.

"I guess I should talk to her then," Twilight said numbly, her own voice sounding like it came from a thousand miles away. She barely recalled walking past Dinky or Moondancer. Placing her hand on the door, she pushed it open, her heart pounding in her chest.

And there, standing in front of the door to her office, was Twilight's former best friend.

She was a lot like how Twilight remembered her, with that same bright red hair streaked with equally bright yellow highlights that flowed in waves down her back, cyan eyes that contrasted well with her amber-tinted skin, and a designer leather jacket that hugged her curves far too well. A nervous smile graced her features, and her slight fidgeting as she stood betrayed her discomfort.

Twilight still recognized her sharp features and slim figure, but the last fifteen years had allowed her attractive teenage looks to develop into those of a beautiful woman, with piercing, dazzling eyes that sparkled with cunning and a body that most women would die for. Twilight also noticed the familiar pendant around her neck with an image of a stylized sun on it.

"Hi Twilight," Sunset said, her familiar voice threatening to flood Twilight with memories.

Twilight forced herself to focus on the present to keep herself from drowning in the past. "Hello, Miss Shimmer, what brings you to Hayvard today?" Cool, polite, impassive – Twilight was the perfect picture of formality.

Sunset's smile faded. "Can we talk privately?"

"Of course." Twilight unlocked the door to her office and stepped in. "Please, come in."

Sunset did so, and Twilight locked the door behind her, leaving the two of them standing awkwardly in her office. "So, Miss Shimmer," Twilight said, "how can I be of assistance to Equinox Labs?" Her tone betrayed no emotion, every inch of her the detached consultant as she spoke.

Some part of her clung desperately to the hope that Sunset was here for purely business or technical reasons, and she could have her out of her life before dinnertime.

Sunset raised an eyebrow. "Can we just drop this formal bullshit, please? It's not like we're strangers or anything."

"Fine," Twilight said bitingly as her last hope was cut down, "what do you want, Sunset?"

Sunset winced. "I guess you haven't let go of the past yet, huh?"

Twilight glared at Sunset, feeling a familiar cold anger welling up inside of her. "Sorry, but having your best friend try to kill you takes a little time to get over."

Sunset returned Twilight's glare with her own. "It was an accident."

"The first time or the second?"

"I was desperate. You were trying to take everything I cared about from me."

"I was trying to protect this world from the greatest danger it had ever faced. And besides, you agreed to wait for us to decide together." Twilight realized that she had moved closer to Sunset during their fight, and could feel the heat radiating from the other woman as the fires of their anger blazed around the room.

Sunset held her gaze for a few seconds before she backed away with a sigh. "Look, I didn't come here to rehash this debate."

"Then why did you come?"

"I need to talk to you about something. Where were you two weeks ago?"

Twilight blinked at Sunset, confusion dousing some of her anger. "Two weeks ago? I was here in the lab, finishing up some experiments on superconducting metamaterials. Why? What does it matter to you?"

Instead of answering, Sunset suddenly grabbed Twilight's arm. Her eyes flashed with an ethereal white light that matched the cyan glow that now surrounded her pendant.

It was a sight that Twilight had seen many times before, and she quickly jerked her arm back, breaking all physical contact and severing the spell between her and Sunset.

"What the hell, Sunset?" Twilight shouted while trying to ignore the tingling in her arm where she had touched her. "Did you just use your powers on me?"

"Sorry, Twilight, I had to know." Sunset looked apologetic, but Twilight wasn't having any of it.

"Know what? What was so important that it made you drive across the state just to come into my office and violate my mind like that?"

"I had to know if you were telling the truth about what happened two weeks ago."

"What's so important about that, anyways? Why do you care so much about what I was doing?"

Sunset's next words sent pure ice coursing down her spine. "Because two weeks ago, someone used magic to break into my lab and steal the journal I use to communicate with Equestria."

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