• Published 17th Mar 2017
  • 1,580 Views, 93 Comments

In the Absence of Twilight Sparkle - MyHobby



Twilight Sparkle isn't the only human learning magic, as Sunset discovers when she is invited overseas to visit a school run by Starlight Glimmer. She appears to have good intentions, but Sunset's doubts rise when a magic-powered murderer strikes

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Endless Possibilities

Evening came to Sweet Apple Acres, but the party did not abate. Classic games like bocce ball, the sack race, and the egg toss competed with each other for prominence. Blindman’s Bluff monopolized the pond. Piñatas were set up for the younger kids all over the farm; that was probably Pinkie Pie’s idea.

Cheese Sandwich snorted as he tried to hold his phone steady. A video displayed on the touch screen, showcasing a variety of wild animals dubbed over with various accents from the Highborn Isles. Two giraffes played the part of a couple in the midst of a lovers’ spat.

Big Macintosh watched from over Cheese’s shoulder, his mouth not quite betraying emotion, but his eyes lighting up all the same. Shining was in hysterics, the video having hit his funny bone juuust right.

Big Mac ran a towel over his head to dry it from his time in the pond. Sunny had challenged him to make a bigger splash than he did. He had obliged with a little help from the tire swing. Applejack had muttered something about knocking all the water out of the pond, but the kids loved the waves. After that, Twilight had challenged him to a race across the water, and had almost beat him. Combine that with a touch football game with Shining, Cheese, and the others, alongside helping set the party up, and Big Mac was just about ready to relax the rest of the day.

He looked across the pond and saw Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer sitting together. A couple of their other friends were close by, having not yet left for their homes.

A few of them would be back the next day, as their schedules allowed. Most of the out-of-town family would be staying on the farm, nestled into barns or campers or tents. After the most recent growing season, there was plenty of food to go around, and plenty of firewood to cook it over. For just this small moment, nobody had work to do, or places to be, or worries to ponder. Not unless they brought such things for themselves.

“We have fun,” Cheese said, putting his phone away and leaning back against the grass. He opened one eye to look Big Mac’s way. “You know, I woulda had that touchdown if you’d just thrown the ball to me.”

Shining took a breath long enough to finally speak around the titters. “Seriously? Cheese, there’s a reason we gave you the kicker position.”

“Blah blah, it’s touch football. The rules have changed.” Cheese cupped his hands behind his frizzled, curly hair. “I coulda caught it. Maybe.”

Big Mac sat cross-legged and pulled his shirt over his head. The sun set behind Twilight, framing her through the trees. Her beautiful smile outshone the celestial object by several orders of magnitude.

Cheese nudged his knee. “Somebody’s distracted.”

Big Mac chuckled. “It’s not a distraction if it’s the main focus.”

Shining Armor propped his chin up on a fist. He checked on Sunny, who sat a few yards way getting pampered by Granny Smith. Satisfied that his boy was occupied for the moment, he tossed the football Big Mac’s way. “So. You gonna pop the question or what?”

Mac caught the football one-handed. He shook out his hair in an attempt to get himself the least bit presentable. “What question?”

“You know the one.” Shining not-quite-surreptitiously touched the ring on his left hand. “I mean, you guys ’ve been dating for longer than Sunset and I’ve known each other.”

Cheese raised himself to rest on his elbows. “In Mac’s defense, you guys tied the knot in less time than it takes to buy a house.”

Shining Armor twisted in his lawn chair. He took a sip of juice. “When you know, you know, right?”

“I know you know I knew.” Cheese Sandwich tapped the side of his nose. “But there’s more to knowing than knowing who, you know?”

Big Mac gripped the football tight. He tossed it to himself gently, mulling over his response to his friend. “I know a few things. I know Twilight’s more’n I could imagine. More’n I deserve. I know she deserves more’n I can give right now.”

He threw the ball Shining’s way, who snatched it out of the air. “I also know,” Big Mac said, “that the time ain’t right yet.”

Cheese took in a long breath through his nose, quiet-like. He tapped his teeth before finally releasing his thoughts into the wild. “Pinkie and I got married too soon. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t take it back for all the sassafras in the world, but we were just kids. We hit a lot of roadblocks that we wouldn’t have had to face if we’d just waited a couple years after graduation.”

Shining attempted to spin the football on his finger, but mostly just succeeded in letting it flop to his lap. “You were both self-supporting, though.”

“Not just money troubles.” Cheese ran a hand through his curls. “Nooot just money. Experience more than anything else tells you how to deal with stress. We had next to none. Car troubles, house hunting, living with the Cakes for the first two years… Oh boy that got awkward.”

He lay full in the grass and leaned his head back. He pointed a thin finger towards the makeshift parking lot, where they could see Pinkie hugging Rainbow Dash and Rarity goodbye. “Toooootally worth it.”

Mac rested his elbows on his knees. “Big awkward thing right now: I’m a full-time farmer and she’s a full-time science-magician.”

“So?” Cheese slipped a morsel off of Shining Armor’s plate of goodies. “Move in with her and make her drive you to work every morning. Bright and early.”

Shining Armor moved the plate further away from his friend. “Every relationship has rough patches. You can either smooth them over, or you can stumble endlessly around them.”

Mac gave his friend a sidelong glance. He bobbed his head noncommittally. “We both want the same thing, Shining. We wanna see her happy.”

“Truer words,” Shining said.

***

“So it’s a recurring thing, now?”

Twilight Sparkle held her hand outward, across the water. Purple sparks gently drifted on the wind, dancing across the reflective surface. “It feels like every time I’m even a little bit relaxed or happy, my magic just… lights up. My fingers tingle, pencils start floating around, it’s weird.”

Sunset Shimmer took Twilight’s hand and examined it closely. A little hint of orange light met Twilight’s purple. Flickers of magic power traveled in and around the veins in Twilight’s arm as Sunset’s spell did its work. “We established long ago that magic is intrinsically tied to the mental state of the individual. It drives that intent, the force, the badda-bing badda boom.” Sunset shrugged and intertwined her fingers with Twilight’s. “I dunno. There’s nothing wrong with you. I think your body’s just understanding magic faster than your mind is.”

“Huh?”

“Like, you’re building up the muscle memory before you’ve learned to walk.” Sunset gave her a shallow grin. “That doesn’t explain much, does it?”

Twilight raised her eyebrows. “Does this look like the face of a woman who comprehends?”

“Fine, fine.” Sunset danced her toes in the pond, checking that yes, Sunny was still in the tender care of his adoptive granny. “It’s like your body discovered a new sense. One that has its own load of instincts tied to it. Like, you don’t think about smelling, you just know how to smell. You don’t think about how to see, you just see.”

Twilight wiggled her fingers. A flush of power unknown soared from her heart to her hand, creating an empty bubble of magic energy. “I don’t think about creating a lavender light show…”

“Right.” Sunset raised her hand to showcase a palm alight with flame. “But it takes time to differentiate one smell from another. Or to learn the difference between green and turquoise. It’s the same with magic. Some stuff comes automatically, but most of the finer details come with concentration and education.”

Twilight clenched her hand. A popsicle rose from a nearby cooler and landed deftly in her palm. “Q.E.D.”

“Of course, you’re lucky it only manifests when you’re happy.” Sunset snickered and doused the fire in the pond. “Take it from one who’s been there. If you were super-angry all the time, those sparks would probably more likely kill small birds than tickle my hand.”

Twilight slipped her hand away and rested in it her lap. She swallowed hard, nearly choking on the large piece of ice she’d bitten off. “Yeee… So… might be time to bring up my temper—”

“Just keep from casting spells when you’re angry.” Sunset brushed grass from her thigh as she stood up. She slipped a light coat over her shoulders as cool evening air overpowered the heat of the day. “Just do as best you can.”

“Easy for you to say.” Twilight lay down, spreading her arms out and allowing the magic to dissipate. “I suppose magical tantrums are just part of life in Equestria.”

“More or less,” Sunset said. “But kids generally have less destructive capability than you.”

Twilight sighed. She lay quietly, still and calm. Her heart slowed, and the tingle left her fingertips. “It’s a lot of responsibility.”

“Yeah.” Sunset hugged her stomach. She blew Shining a kiss from across the pond. “But it’s also a lot of fun.”

She grinned. “You know what’s really fun? Teleportation.”

That got Twilight’s attention. She sat up a little, her brow furrowed. “You’re kidding.”

“Nope.”

“You cannot be serious.”

“I’m totally serious.”

“How?” Twilight stood up and grabbed Sunset’s forearm. “You need to tell me. Need.”

“Don’t get too excited. I haven’t been able to do it since I left Equestria.” Sunset waggled a finger. “But I’m figuring it out. I think that if we put our heads together…”

“Two minds working on the same problem!” Twilight Sparkle hopped once, using Sunset’s arm for balance. “Sunset, do you realize what this means?”

Sunset shifted her stance to support the both of them. “That we’d be able to teleport?”

“That we’d be able to teleport!” Twilight slapped her forehead. “Can you just imagine the practical applications? What we could learn about physics and the lack thereof? We are talking literal teleportation, right? The displacement of matter? Crossing distances in the blink of an eye?”

“That’s the only teleportation I know of.”

“This is amazing!” Twilight Sparkle staggered away from her friend, lightheaded and dizzy. The sun dipped towards the horizon, sealing the day and summoning the night. “I can’t… even imagine.”

She snapped her head around, holding out a hand. “You have to explain the theory. We need to get on this as soon as possible! How long have you…” Twilight blinked as reality set in. A crushing weight descended on her chest. “You’ve been trying to figure it out since high school, haven’t you?”

“With improvements every day.” Sunset clasped her hands and glanced away. “I mean, it wasn’t even until recently that I even started practicing magic again. I have you to thank for that.”

Twilight crossed her arms and pouted.

“Look, I can do light shows all day, but…” Sunset gave her an uneasy grin. “This is a high-level spell. It’s not something that gets uncovered in a single day.”

Twilight bobbed her head and hid a smile. “So when you say you’ve been working on it—”

“I’ve been working on the theory since early January.” Sunset tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “It’s been a few months, but, you know. I’ve had other things to worry about.”

Twilight sent her brother a knowing glance. He tossed a football to himself, staring into space, only half an ear on the conversation between Cheese and Mac. “That’s for sure.”

“But! Anyway!” Sunset moved behind Twilight and touched her shoulders. “Long story short, once we understand the theory, you are not to attempt to teleport yourself. The first step is always to teleport inanimate objects first.”

“Sounds like commons sense to me.” Twilight held up a hand, which flashed a pale lavender. She allowed a spell from Sunset to guide her hand, carving intricate motions through the air. “But I’m curious. What happens with a bad teleport?”

“Magical overload’s the most dangerous thing.” Sunset narrowed her eyes in concentration. “Ruptured fairy strings and or blood vessels. Heart failure. If the teleport is performed, but the destination’s wrong, you could end up appearing encased in solid rock. It took three days to dig Litterbug out of the foundations of Celestia’s School.”

“Um.” Twilight felt sweat trickle down her back. “Dead?”

“Nah. Just really, really traumatized.” Sunset snickered. “You’d be surprised how much of the preliminary casting is just a series of failsafes. Personal forcefields, safety areas, good old reality checks. It’s all interwoven so that if anything gets missed, the spell just plain won’t work.”

Twilight scrunched her nose. “That’s awful thoughtful of the spell’s designer.”

“Starswirl never missed a trick.”

“Who?”

“I’ll tell you later.” Sunset released Twilight and took a measured step back. “Right now… voila!”

The etchings in the air burned themselves in Twilight’s mind. She saw the equations, the order of operations, the sheer emotion to be poured into the spell. She understood most of it; the rest would come with practice.

She licked her lips. “This stuff could change the world.”

“Yeah, it could.” Sunset bumped shoulders with Twilight. “So be careful who knows this, alright?”

“Right.” The magic image dissipated with a wave of Twilight’s hand. “So…”

“Yeah.” Sunset grinned down at her friend. She pointed across the pond. “I think I need a s’more. You need a s’more?”

Twilight followed Sunset’s hand to see Mac, Shiny, and Cheese attempting to build a bonfire. Shiny of course was building it in a tent-shape, like his scouts training always told him. Cheese, on the other hand, was quick to provide lighter fluid. While they were arguing, Big Mac was laying the logs in and fanning the weak flame, happy in his own stoic, levelheaded way.

“Yeah. S’mores seem like just the thing to end the evening.”

***

Dr. Sombra’s braced leg clomped against the floor of Ursagryph University. His cane kept balance and time, step by laborious step. Most people said he should just bite the bullet and get a wheelchair, but he couldn’t bear the thought of it. So he walked painfully down the halls, his pride and his well-trained muscles keeping him aloft.

Save for the horrific mess that had once been his knee.

It was an old wound, but one that would affect him to his dying day. Earned during a terrible war. Bit of a redundancy, that, but still. But the holidays always helped. Relaxing in the country. Breathing in the fresh air. Riding the horses that reminded him so much of his younger years…

He had gotten himself a haircut to reflect his younger years as well. Trimmed short and smartly, akin to his days in the military. At the least, it was easier to take care of than the voluminous mane he normally sported. The side burns that led down to his cheeks always gave his students a laugh, but he tolerated the mild disrespect. Just barely.

There was another thing that eased the pain. Something wonderous and magical, yet something he was hesitant to share with the world at large. It was a tiny magic spark that lit deep in his breast and trailed down to the injured limb, soothing as it went.

Magic. Now there was a concept physics professors weren’t known to genuinely entertain thoughts of. Yet there he was, his mind brimming with possibilities and powers. All thanks to one woman.

One woman, and her little community in the countryside.

He doffed his hat and hung it on the rack as he stepped into his office. He gave his personal assistant a nod. “Litterbug, anything to report?”

“Yes, actually.” Litterbug handed him a stack of papers. Possibly the usual ungraded paperwork and various rubbish he received in the mail. “You received a message from overseas earlier this week, and you have an appointment with someone from the Prime Minister’s office.”

The visitor from the Prime Minister’s office was not unheard of, but Fancy Pants usually got in touch with him personally. Strange on its own, but the other matter seemed far more unique. “Overseas? What country, exactly?”

“It was from some province in Libertas.” Litterbug sucked on her lips. “I can’t keep all their territories straight. The information’s all recorded, so…”

Sombra took a seat behind the desk and let some weight off his leg. He supposed he couldn’t expect Litterbug to retain everything. “Very well. When is the appointment?”

“As soon as possible.” Litterbug rubbed her hands together. “He’s sitting in the lobby.”

Sombra clasped both hands on the head of his cane. Curiouser and curiouser. “Let’s not keep him waiting. Send him in.”

“Yes, sir.” She left with a click of her heels on the floor. She was unnerved, that was certain. Sombra suspected she was as curious as he was about the unexpected forced appointment. Unlike her, though, he knew the Prime Minister of the Highborn Isles as a personal friend. He had little to fear.

And yet…

The man who entered Sombra’s office was young. Mid-to-late twenties, at the most. His sharply trimmed beard exuded an aura of control, while his tight, mid-back length ponytail spoke of a freer spirit than Sombra would attribute to a government agent. A noble, perhaps? His snappy, expensive suit said as much, or that he had more money than he knew how to spend. A businessman? All of the above?

Sombra stood and offered his hand to the gentleman. “I am Dr. Sombra, Professor of Physics.”

The man took the hand with a firm shake. “Viscount Dulcimer. Pleasure to meet you.”

A viscount. A non-hereditary title, often granted to companions of high-ranking individuals. Was Dulcimer connected to Fancy Pants in some way other than politics? “Please, take a seat,” Sombra said. “Tell me what brings you to Ursagryph University.”

“I’m actually alumni.” Dulcimer took his chair and propped one leg on the other, smoothly and easily. A bit too familiar, in Sombra’s opinion. “It’s been a few years since I attended. It feels like coming home.”

Sombra raised an eyebrow. Was it hilariously off-subject, or was he leading into something? “What year did you graduate?”

“Two-thousand twelve.”

A number familiar to the school, and to Sombra himself. One of his most troubling students had graduated at that time; none other than Blueblood, Crowned Prince of the Highborn Isles. The teachers reasoned that the only way he could have graduated was help from a dear friend of his, named Hammer.

“Hammer Dulcimer,” Sombra said quietly, yet audibly. “You’re Prince Blueblood’s friend.”

“Practically a retainer, really.” Dulcimer leaned forward, propping his chin up with a hand. “In the classic sense.”

“Of course.”

Dulcimer smiled. “Now that we both know each other, you’re probably hoping I answer the question directly.”

Sombra said nothing, content to merely glare at the viscount.

“Prime Minister Pants and I have been working together a great deal recently.” Dulcimer gestured vaguely with his free hand. “What with King Bluemane’s failing health, Prince Blueblood’s taking on of his duties, the whole ordeal. We’re hoping to pave the road for a smooth transition. Practically, that means keeping tabs on the goings on in the Isles.”

Sombra’s mind flashed to a particular “goings on” that he had been careful to keep under wraps. Had word gotten out? What did Litterbug or his colleagues know? “These are difficult times.”

“And about to get even more difficult.” Dulcimer lowered both feet to the floor, all illusions of comfort and familiarity slipping away. “The word is that you’ve been keeping company with a known subversive. A political activist. An anti-monarchist.”

Sombra tightened his grip on his cane. “Speaking one’s opinion is not illegal.”

“No, of course not.” Dulcimer smiled, tapping a knee. “But we both know that Miss Starlight Glimmer is capable of far more than mere words.” He leaned back, steepling his fingers. “What I don’t know is: Just what is she capable of?”

Dulcimer stood and eased the door shut. He looked at Sombra over his shoulder and held his hands out. “Relax. I’m just here to talk, and it’ll be better if nobody eavesdrops. I know there’s something different going on in the little village you holiday in.” He leaned on Sombra’s desk to bring himself eye-to-eye. “Prime Minister Pants wants to regulate it. Bring it into the fold. Make it taxable.”

Sombra maintained his seat and his gaze. He curled his lip just enough to allow Dulcimer to know that he tread on very dangerous ground. “She would never agree to such a thing.”

“I know.” Dulcimer shook his head lightly. “But also know that if she doesn’t comply, we can shut her down for running a school without a license. She has no credentials. No backing. Just a bunch of very loyal followers. In Fancy Pants’ eyes, it is a very dangerous thing that you’ve made yourself a part of.”

Ah, there was something. He kept maintaining that these were the opinions of Fancy Pants, whereas before, he had regarded their team as “we.” Perhaps he had differing thoughts. “And what do you think, viscount?”

For the first time since he’d arrived, Dulcimer gave him a smile that Sombra saw as genuine. “I want to find out just what this school of yours is teaching. Learn the ins and outs of it. Glean some idea of what you’re all about. Under the guise of studying it for the Prime Minister’s sake, yes, but… well…”

He took the chair once more, a faraway look shimmering behind his eyes. “I’ve always had some intertest in magic. Not the occult, of course, but something more real. Something, I think, you know quite a bit about.” He pointed at Sombra. “It scares Fancy Pants. As does everything he sees as potentially becoming more powerful than he is. And this Starlight Glimmer has real power. Dangerous power.”

Sombra lowered his head a touch. He was right, of course. Starlight Glimmer was not shy about expressing her opinions. She was not shy about her plans to enact change. Good intentions or no, if she was allowed to run unchecked, there could be catastrophe. “And how would you handle things?”

“I want to legitimize the school.” Dulcimer ran a hand over his beard. “Not regulate it, legitimize it. Bring it into the public consciousness as a real source of knowledge and strength.” The smirk resurfaced, chilling Sombra. “Of course, in order to present it the best I could, I would need to educate myself in the very things Miss Glimmer teaches.”

Sombra breathed softly through his nose. “And I am your best way of reaching her.”

“Bingo.” Dulcimer crossed his arms. “Can we make it happen?”

“I will need… time to contact her.”

Dulcimer stood and unlatched the door. Before he went through, he offered his hand. “Take as much time as you need, but no more. Remember, if Fancy Pants isn’t happy, then she’ll end up with a far more direct confrontation with Parliament than she’s ready for.”

Sombra stood and shook. “And you will be without access to magic.”

“Truer words.” Dulcimer waved as he left, leaving Sombra alone in his office.

“Strange times.” Sombra shuffled through his papers, prepping his mind for his conversation with Glimmer. The woman could be difficult, but she may very well see reason. At the least, he could spin it as free advertising.

Message. He still had the message to listen to. He brought his desk phone to his ear and pressed the corresponding key. His generic voicemail said its piece, then a real person began to speak.

It was a dearly cherished voice. Older, yet so very recognizable. A friend of friends. A noble companion.

And oh so very sad.

“Sombra, it’s Celestia.” He gripped the handle tighter, causing the plastic to creak. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for… not speaking for a long time. For stopping my messages. For… Everything, I guess. And I hate—”

There was a bit of quiet, which he refused to fill with his own speculation. Instead, he listened, and listened intently.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, and it was harder to speak now. “I have terrible news about Raven. She passed away, Sombra. She went missing a few weeks ago, and we found her and—and I need to talk with you about… about funeral arrangements.”

The cane clattered to the floor. Sombra leaned heavily on his desk, cupping his forehead in his free hand. He nearly lost the phone itself, but his sheer willpower kept his ear glued to the speaker.

Raven. His sister. His friend.

“I’m so sorry it took this to finally…” A course correction. A thought suppressed. “Please call me back. My number is five, five, five—”

He wrote the number down quickly, replaying the message to make sure it was absolutely correct. He replayed the message once more to banish thoughts of being mistaken. There was no questioning it.

His sister was gone, and there was nothing he could do. His only family.

His only family save for Celestia.

“Litterbug,” he said, his voice hoarse. “I need to book a flight to Libertas.”

***

Moondancer muttered to herself as she placed a sample in its requisite petri dish. It was true enough—the clothes on the mummified corpse were the same ones she was wearing when she died. And, even though she was clearly dried to the core, all signs pointed to her dying only a day or so before she was found. It was impossible, incomprehensible, unsolvable.

It was right up Twilight Sparkle’s alley. Day in and day out, she had seen Sparkle’s incredible knack for investigating the unknowable and deciphering its idiosyncrasies. She’d seen it ever since their time together at Crystal Prep, learning under the stringent eye of Principal Abacus “The Witch” Cinch.

But, Twilight couldn’t weave her magic if Moondancer didn’t gather the pieces for her. So gather she did, and quickly. Data by the bucketload weaved its way through the computer systems. Samples were used to their fullest potential. Sweat was wiped away, and tools were sterilized.

Still, nothing seemed to fit.

She carefully carried the petri dish from one table to the next, bringing it towards her favorite microscope. The one that took the best pictures, the one that had the smoothest zoom, the one with the happiest “ding” noises. Twilight usually used it because, well, she had definitely earned the right, but she wasn’t here right now. Aside from the microscope, the table was overflowing with various devices and baubles Twilight used. Test tubes, a pocket calendar, electronics Moondancer couldn’t recognize…

As she passed the edge of the table, a crackling noise caught her attention. She glanced over, finding nothing out of the ordinary. Although, considering it was a forensic lab, anything making noise out of turn was just a little strange. She moved again, and the noise returned; something akin to white noise from a disconnected analog television. It rose and fell in pitch as she moved from one side to the other. The noise finally ceased when she took a step back, putting a meter between her and the table.

She set the petri dish down and gently leaned over the table. Finding no crackling, she brought the dish closer. Yep. Just as she thought. Something on the table was reacting to the dish. Or maybe its contents.

There. Right in the middle. A handheld device; some sort of meter with a needle display, like an old voltmeter. When she moved the dish closer, the crackling intensified.

She set the dish down, making sure it was secure, and grasped the meter. The needle bounced up and down, never quite settling on a value. No numbers were on the face, only notches. “Not a very efficient design, Sparkle. You didn’t even label—”

She looked back, adjusting her glasses with a bent wrist. The cadaver lay silently, as it would for the rest of its tenure in the morgue. If the sample had set the device off…

She took careful, measured steps towards the covered corpse. At first there was no reaction, but once she breeched the three-meter mark, the needle bounced. It rose unsteadily as she drew closer, shaking with the fluctuations of whatever it was sensing. When she came alongside the body, the meter reached its limit, its faint crackle having evolved into a high-pitched whine.

Whatever substance the device sensed, the body was utterly awash with it.

“You and your homemade devices, Sparkle.” Moondancer turned the meter end over end, examining screw holes, plastic seams, the rubber grip, and anything else she could get a glimpse of. “As if I didn’t already consider you a mad scientist.”

A mad genius as well. The more she thought, the more she recognized the device—or, at least, its origins. Twilight had made a similar device when the two of them were high schoolers, in that selfsame horror show of an academy. When stories of magical mishaps in a nearby school reached their ears, Twilight had set about trying to understand them. Study them. Record them for the sake of science.

She might have made ground, too, if not for the illness.

Moondancer took careful notes. Where the device started to react in relation to the body. What level the needle read at each interval. What sound it made—just in case it was relevant.

With that done, she returned to the petri dish and continued her earlier experiment. It seemed much less urgent after the encounter with the strange technology. Clearly, whatever Twilight was looking for all those years ago had resurfaced in some strange way. Some strange, dark, murderous way.

Twilight would figure it out. But first, Moondancer needed to gather the pieces. Perhaps, between the two of them, they’d find out what happened and put a stop to it.

With Twilight Sparkle, the impossible just seemed like a stepping stone toward the unimaginable.

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