As they stepped through the portal, one thing was clear: the training teleporter they'd acquired from Aeon and Stella wasn't acting as it should. Either it had been damaged during their dip into the Mirror Pool, or…
… Or something, Sunset thought. Let's not point fingers. Hooves. Whatever.
Instead of whisking them immediately to their destination, they'd entered a tunnel of light. After a moment's adjustment to the glare, she saw that they were traveling rapidly above a vista resplendent with pale blue lines connecting pulsing violet orbs. These hung in a rich indigo night.
She bit her lower lip, thinking. Weighing cause and effect, possible schemes, moments ahead, the impending battle with Tirek…
Stella said it was a suicide mission. If they can't manage this, what are two nerds gonna do, “constants” or not?
Without taking lessons from Sparkle back there, I don’t know that we can.
Give up ourselves to save everything. How very Celestian.
“Oh, my gosh! Sunset, look! Isn't it amazing?!”
Twilight was staring at their surroundings. The blues and purples glittered in her eyes like precious gems.
Sunset glanced up, and lingered longer than she’d meant to. “… Yeah. What are they?”
Twilight fidgeted with the theory cube Sparkle had given her as she leaned closer to them, thinking.
Sunset chewed her lower lip, and tried not to think about the ratio of skirt to leg Twilight’s human form favored. Instead, she focused on the upcoming battle, tallying up advantages and hindrances.
Zero sum, no matter how I look at it.
“I think…” Twilight started.
Sunset quickly looked away from her mental math, and back into the splendor shooting past them.
“… I think they’re other dimensions and the lines are conduits for other Voyagers. Stands to reason, given where we are. I wonder how many of them are us.”
The back of Sunset's neck suddenly itched. She rubbed it gently, looked away and laughed.
It sounded strained, even to herself.
“Where to begin?” Sunset said, staring out at the ocean of lights. “Sentenced to death for simple experimental rigor by hypocritical law enforcement, sent to find and stop a villain so powerful said hypocritical cops tell me it’s a suicide mission—”
She stopped, her rant cut short by a pair of lavender arms around her waist.
“We'll handle it, Sunny,” Twilight said, her voice muffled slightly by Sunset's hair. Her breath close against Sunset's neck. “He’s never really met you, and I don't know anypo— anybody I'd rather face him with. You're always so strong and confident, when you let yourself be.”
“You handled that roc, while I… While I wasn’t home. You rescued me from Sombra.” She squeezed Sunset's waist. “When you actually allow yourself to shine, you’re brilliant.”
Sunset’s cheeks burned so intensely that she was certain her face could be seen from one of the orbs below, had they the ability to see.
“Wh-what’s wrong with a little rationality, huh?” She fought to keep the butterflies in her belly calm. They suddenly wanted to try out for the Wonderbolts. “Just being real, Twilight. Princess.”
Twilight shrugged her title aside, and nestled closer to Sunset. “No, you're not. You're tensing up and preparing to come up short, just like at the Battle of the Bands.”
Sunset tried not to think about the warm pressure against her shoulder blades as she slid around to face Twilight. Twilight's hands rested on the small of her back. With a little trepidation, she folded her arms around Twilight's shoulders. Twilight pulled herself into Sunset's chest, and sighed contentedly as she rested her head on Sunset’s shoulder.
Sunset spoke gently, trying not to spook Twilight. Or herself. “We defeated the Dazzlings with a lot of help from our friends, Twi. I don't know if you noticed, it's just us.”
Twilight looked into her eyes. In the velvet light, Sunset realized Twi’s face as was as incandescent as her own.
“Right. It's just us.” Twilight glided closer, and leaned up towards Sunset, eyes lit by the blue of the tunnel. “Just us, in the quiet before the storm. If we are constants… well, if we are, I’m glad it’s with you. I might not be the best at saying it, but I’ve always wanted—”
Sunset cut her off, pulling her into a tight embrace and kissing her deeply. Their bodies moved together, channeling the electric passion as they drank in each other.
Sunset pulled away. “Twi, I’m sorry! What if this is just like back at that hotel—”
“Hush. That was then, and you knew to stop. This is now.” Twilight pulled her back into another. This one long, languid, and a release of everything they'd not said to each other. Instead, they expressed all those lost moments in this one kiss.
It was the culmination of a friendship. It was validation of restored empathy. It was a perfect balance. It was an affirmation.
It was a beginning.
It was magic.
It was a long time before either one of them recognized the pulsing lights hadn't come from either of them ponying up. After one that shone brighter and longer than the others, Twilight broke the kiss.
Sunset opened her eyes, her butterflies thrumming through her body. “Hoo…” she sighed. “We should've done that a lot sooner.”
Twilight didn’t respond. She was staring out at the multicolored lights sailing past them with a look of equal parts curiosity and horror.
Sunset’s butterflies petrified, landing with a heavy thud in her belly. “What is it?”
Another flare of light lit up Twilight’s face. She winced in pain as Sunset turned to see what was happening.
The orbs near them were winking out in flares of scarlet light, one by one.
“… They're dying. I can feel them, all that magic…” Twilight whispered.
As they watched, another violet orb expanded slightly, only to shrink violently into nothingness. The pale blue lines linking it with the others shattered in a silent detonation.
From the indigo void, a crimson beam shot ahead of them. This time, they felt their passage adjusting course slightly.
“That can't be—” Twilight sputtered.
“—Tirek. That's Tirek.” Sunset felt the burning sensation of magic rushing along her veins as she called on the strange contents of the vial Twilight had given her.
Whatever had been inside didn't behave like what Sparkle had done so long ago. Sunset wasn't sure what it was, but she was now ablaze with power. She pressed forward, flapping her powerful wings, and—
—Wings? Oh, don't tell me…
She glanced down at herself, unable to see her bat-like demon wings under all the cream-colored robes and…
… oh. Thank the Sun.
Daydream Shimmer channeled her substantial magic into her wings and felt her aura brush against the edges of the dimensional conduit. The blue of the tunnel darkened to purple, and she shot forward in a red-and-yellow streak.
A burst of rainbows flew past her as Twilight appeared in a shower of magic. Her hair now held streaks of yellow and gold. Her normal blue shirt and purple skirt had been replaced by a wide sapphire blue gown with glittering violet and rose streaks of chiffon, Her own wings soared. A brilliant golden energy spire stood proudly on her forehead.
Dancing within her horn, spinning in Twilight’s magic, was Sparkle’s theory cube.
Like an oncoming dawn, they sailed after the retreating form of Tirek.