“Here we are.” Barb pointed up at the door towering over them. “Applejack’s been down here for a long time.”
“Usually it’s only ponies that Pinkie brings down here,” Sarge continued. “And she never brings them back.” Twilight and Sunset gulped. Suddenly, the handle of the door began to turn. Sarge gasped. “Assume the position!” He snapped to an immobile pose of an officer giving orders with his hand held out. Barb rent rigid in place as well. Unsure what to do, Twilight and Sunset held still.
The basement door swung open and Pinkie looked down. “Aw, look, Gummy!” She reached down and picked up Twilight and Sunset. “Your new friends are eager to see you!” She looked at Sarge and Bard and shook her finger. “Bad toys, you don’t get to come to Gummy’s party!” She slammed the basement door and skipped down the stairs.
Pop music blared from a speaker in the corner of a brightly lit room, colorful streamers and balloons everywhere. At a large table in the center of the room was an assortment of stuffed pony toys with party hats on, as well as a baby alligator in the center table surrounded by the remains of what may have been a cake.
“Gummy’s birthday party has been going for a record one thousand, six hundred and ninety-two days, and we’re not stopping yet!” Pinkie placed Sunset and Twilight on the table and produced two party hats from nowhere to slip over their heads. “We’re gonna keep this going all night long!” Pinkie began to dance across the room towards the boombox playing the music.
Twilight saw a familiar glow out of the corner of her eye and leaned over the table. Below she saw the portal device activate and a glowing blue portal opened. Twilight pulled her hat off and put a hoof over Sunset to get her attention. She nodded at the portal below. Sunset saw it, nodded, and pulled off her own hat.
Pinkie turned, saw the portal, and gasped. “Wait! You can’t do that, you need to be an trained Aperture Science Testing Associate to use those!”
The two ignored Pinkie’s ramblings and jumped into the portal.
The portal opened and the two popped out and flopped to the ground. Twilight groaned. “At least we can talk in this world.” She took a look at herself.
“And are ponies,” Sunset added. The two climbed to their hooves and looked about. Twilight soon recognized the familiar throne room of Canterlot around them. Her eyes tracked to the thrones in the room and she froze. “Uh, Sunset?” Twilight poked her friend. Sunset turned and shared in Twilight’s staring.
Staring back from the twin thrones of the room were two alicorns. One of them had a pale lavender coat with silver-blue regalia adorned with a six-pointed pink star, and her mane was a flowing stream of dark blue and purple with stars. The other was bright orange with golden regalia bearing a red and yellow sun, and her mane was a wave of shimmering fire.
Twilight realized with dawning awe the two alicorns looked far too familiar. She leaned over to Sunset to whisper. “Do you see—”
“Yeah.” Sunset leaned back. “Do you think these ones rule a kingdom of robots, too?”
The lavender alicorn tilted her head and leaned towards the orange alicorn. “Dear, these ponies seem suspiciously familiar, don’t they?”
The orange one pursed her lips and leaned forward. “I see a passing resemblance. But her mane does not shimmer like the night sky like yours, nor does yours have that purple streak. And the other has a less lustrous coat in a far less appealing shade of orange.”
“Hey!” Sunset climbed to her hooves and glared.
The purple alicorn chuckled and raised a hoof to her mouth. “Apologies, she was making jest.”
“No I wasn’t.”
“Allow me to introduce ourselves.” The purple alicorn bowed her head. “I am Princess Twilight. This is Princess Sunset. We are the rulers of Equestria.”
Twilight gulped and stepped forward. “I’m… Twilight Sparkle. And this is my friend, Sunset Shimmer.”
“I see.” Princess Twilight raised her eyebrows. “Those names cannot be coincidence. Quite curious.”
“It’s rather easy to explain actually.” Twilight looked sheepish.
Sunset cut in before Twilight could start. “Short version, we’re from an alternate universe.”
Princess Twilight nodded. “Very well. And why have you come to this one?”
“Random chance, mostly.” Twilight shrugged. “Though, I am curious about something. In my world, Equestria is ruled by the two sisters, Celestia and Luna. Does this mean you two are sisters in this world?”
The two princesses looked at each other and burst out laughing. Princess Sunset shook her head and grinned. “No, no, not at all. That would make all this rather uncomfortable, if that were so.”
“Uncomfortable?” Sunset stepped up beside Twilight. “What do… you…” She trailed off and the two stared as Princess Twilight leaned in to nuzzle Princess Sunset’s cheek.
“Sunset?” Twilight groaned. “Tell me they aren’t—”
“Probably not, they may just be good friends.” As Sunset spoke, Princess Sunset turned from the muzzle and pursed her lips against Princess Twilight’s cheek. “Nope, nevermind, they totally are.”
“Forgive my public display of affection.” Princess Sunset’s expression darkened. “I owe my life and my freedom to the love and courage of the alicorn at my side.”
Sunset gulped. “What do you mean?”
Princess Twilight turned and swept a hoof into the air. Twilight and Sunset looked to the stained glass windows in the throne room. One of them depicted an orange and purple alicorn circling each other in unity. “It was over a thousand years ago. My brother, Shining Armor the Bearded, devoted himself to magical studies after the death of my parents. We loved each other dearly, but I wished to meet another alicorn like myself.”
Princess Twilight beamed happily at Princess Sunset. “Do you remember that day?”
“Of course I do.” Princess Sunset’s eyes shimmered. “I was drinking from the river at midday, the sun glistening on the water. The animals around me looked up as they heard somepony approach…”
“Gag me,” Sunset muttered.
Princess Sunset ignored her. “And then you stepped from the bushes. I was in such shock. I thought I must have been hallucinating or dreaming, to not only find another alicorn at last, but one so stunningly beautiful…”
“My thoughts were much the same.”
Twilight scrunched her face.
Princess Twilight turned her attention back to the pair. “My brother had been studying the sun and moon now that the winter storms of the Windigos have been dispelled. He postulated that our cutie marks and stronger magic could mean we were attuned to those celestial bodies. With practice we soon mastered our control and could move the sun and moon. We built a castle in the woods, not far from where we met, and began to hold court as ponies flocked to see us, the alicorns that could control the heavens.”
“Okay.” Twilight raised a hoof to her mouth. “I’m following so far. But, how did you save Sunset’s—er, Princess Sunset’s—life?”
Princess Sunset hung her head and sighed. Princess Twilight leaned into her again and draped a wing over her. “I was born into a loving family and had a dear brother. Sunset here was an orphan whose parents perished in a timberwolf attack. She grew up fending for herself in the wilds of the forest. So when it came time for us to become rulers, she had…”
“I was asocial,” Princess Sunset cut in. “I had always shunned the company of other ponies; they had either feared my powers or hated me for being unique. Twilight basked in their attentions and cultivated loyalty. I spurned their worship and invoked indifference.” Her expression flared. “I grew jealous. We were equals in power and standing, yet they loved her so much more than me. Why? Did I not raise the sun that nourished their crops, lit their lands, warmed their coats?” She closed her eyes and breathed deep.
“In my weakness I allowed my jealousy to turn to hate and anger. I was consumed by my darkness, and transformed into a wicked mare of evil… Vesper Radiance.” With the final two words, Princess Sunset flung her hoof towards another window. The image of a dark red alicorn with black regalia and a flaming mane stretching into the air looked down from the image of a blazing sun. “As Vesper Radiance, I attacked Twilight, to overthrow her and take both her and Equestria for myself. She was forced to subdue me.”
“Using the Elements of Harmony!” Twilight declared.
Princess Sunset frowned. “Quite, yes. She cast me into the sun in a banishment of a millennium. Then I was freed only a few years ago and returned to Equestria.”
“And the Elements of Harmony cleansed you into your true form?”
Princess Sunset glared. “This story would be told much better if you stopped interrupting it.”
“Yeah,” Sunset chimed in.
“As I was saying, no. The Elements of Harmony were sealed, my darling’s student had been chosen for the task of wielding them but was too ignorant of friendship to be worthy.”
“Trixie always did have a problem with her ego,” Princess Twilight mused. Twilight's jaw dropped but her counterpart didn't seem to notice.
Princess Sunset turned and smiled warmly at Princess Twilight. “You stood up to me. Begged me to stand down, to repent. You shouted how much you missed me, how much you wanted me by your side again.” Princess Sunset sniffed, her eyes watering. “I’d never known you cared about me so much… if only I had the courage to approach you about how I felt all those years ago.”
“Shush, my love.” Princess Twilight leaned up to kiss Princess Sunset’s forehead. “The time for regrets is passed. We are together now, forever.”
“Indeed.” Princess Sunset returned the gesture. “None shall part us ever again and woe to they that may try.”
“Stop doing that!”
The two looked over at the ponies in the corner of the room, Twilight making a confused face. “Doing what?” Princess Twilight asked.
Twilight shuddered. “Kissing each other! It’s weird!”
“You hardly have authority to tell us how to express our love,” Princess Sunset snapped.
Princess Twilight giggled and nudged her. “Do you remember the night after your return?”
“No.” Princess Sunset giggled back. “It’s mostly a blur. I had no idea what wonderful uses for Aqua Eructo you’d come up with in a thousand years.”
“Okay, enough with this world.” Sunset repeatedly slapped her hoof on the portal device’s button. “Let’s get out of here before they tell us what they do with their horns.”
“Darling, we never thought of that!”
“Indeed, my mind is already—”
The two Princesses stopped as a portal consumed Twilight, Sunset, and their device.