• Published 17th Jul 2017
  • 822 Views, 67 Comments

Apples & Eyeballs - forbloodysummer

Aria Blaze takes up farming. It's not nearly as wholesome as Applejack was hoping.

  • ...

Aria Again

Aria hung in the sky in much the same way that a brick might have done had it been lucky enough to be born a siren. Magical projections of her face, like vast video screens, adorned the sides of a dozen airships in the surrounding skies, including the two sideways-on zeppelins flanking her. The banners hanging beneath their hulls stretched almost to the ground, each bearing the stylised emblem of an eyeball and the letter A.

The same design was found on the hundred or so purple flags encircling the field before her, marking the boundaries of a seating space no stadium or amphitheatre could contain. Organisers had questioned the need for seating, as building the required chairs had meant felling acres of the Everfree Forest for materials, but Aria hadn’t wanted to feel that she was addressing some mere music festival crowd, and seating could be arranged to give the appearance of formations. How could a siren call herself a purveyor of better vision if her own product launch wasn’t good to look at?

700,000 ponies sat in legions on that plain, most hailing from far across Equestria but all awaiting her every word. It was almost enough to make her feel like Adagio.

Giving no outward sign, she took a calming breath and began.

“Good afternoon, fillies and gentlecolts, and thank you all for coming.” She didn’t need pony magic to amplify her voice at all, since her siren gem took care of all that. Each word she spoke made it glow, like breathing on dying embers.

“We are here today, five months after finalising arrangements with Sweet Apple Acres, to launch our first new product together.” And it could have been three months sooner if the wretched Apples hadn’t dragged their inbred, misshapen hooves at every opportunity, wittering on and on about tradition and the way things had always been done. As if the very idea of innovation were personally offensive to them. Can’t plough a field with ideas? Tell that to the pony who first had the idea of inventing the plough.

“It’s clear from so many of you being here today, in many cases having travelled in from far and wide, that the quality of our products speaks for itself.” Good luck finding cheaper, knockoff eyeballs anywhere. “Our brand has become quite the phenomenon all across Equestria, and we have you ponies to thank for spreading the word of mouth.” Like that’s actually what they’d been trying to do when talking about her farm, not just showing off their trendy new gimmick to their halfwit friends. Yeah, the customers deserved fuckloads of credit and gratitude for that.

“But there are of course a few individuals I’d like to thank in particular.” She always loved those bits in speeches. No one in the audience cared; not a single one of them. They’d all made an effort to be there, and, knowing that, the speaker chose to use his or her time in the spotlight to waste that of the audience, blathering on about the petty contributions of people the crowd could not give a fuck about. Self-importance at its very finest.

She took a moment to compose herself before her features had the chance to show any visible smugness. The lack of siren sweat glands gave her a natural advantage for hiding her nerves, but centuries of associating with Adagio had led to smirks leaping onto her face uninvited at the slightest provocation. For that to happen mid-speech would undo all her hard work practising her open and enthusiastic fake-as-fuck professional demeanour. Reassured by the sincerity on her face as displayed in real-time on a nearby blimp, she carried on with her prepared words.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank the Apple family for making this transition as smooth as possible” – Aria gesticulated towards them on the podium below with a welcoming hoof, wondering if the Element of Honesty and her family would pick up on how thoroughly she’d just lied through her teeth – “and for their ceaseless toil and dedication.” Dedication to doing everything they could to shaft her while she broke her metaphorical back struggling to drag them into the present, let alone the future. How could four ponies put up so much fight when a siren offered to turn things around for them and make their piss-stained business profitable again?

“Ponyville saw some local complaint when I moved to buy Sweet Apple Acres,” all whipped up by the Apple family themselves, of course, “and rightly so.” It just wasn’t worth the PR fallout from being seen as swooping in to take over a long-established business when down on its luck, even if luck didn’t really have anything to do with it and their failure was entirely due to their own bloody-mindlessness. That’s what she’d told herself again and again, at least, and Adagio had backed her up on her thinking. All the same, though, playing nice with those that should have been left to starve made her want to bite something.

“The generations of Apples that have poured their labour into Sweet Apple Acres over the decades to make it one of the most respected institutions in Equestria; their effort shouldn’t be allowed to go to waste,” as if the familial bodily fluids they’d also poured into the sodden place left any alternative but to burn it to the ground, “not when careful guiding can instead focus it in a new direction.” Aria swept her eyes over the crowd as she spoke, noting their nods of approval, and again she was thankful she’d had the strength to stick with her decision to integrate Sweet Apple Acres rather than bulldozing it and starting afresh. Although she did want to try bulldozing something, because she’d heard that the Equestrian method used real bulls, and that sounded too amusing to miss.

“So our relationship has been less of a takeover, more of a merging of mutual understanding and expertise.” And once their understanding of the situation had encompassed her being in charge, she’d been able to bring her expertise of human organ cloning and pinpoint ocular replacement surgery, and they’d brought their expertise of kicking trees.

Her vile sycophancy towards Apple tradition and family values over, Aria turned her attention to her own family, or at least the closest thing she had instead. Thankfully, she, Adagio and Sonata were about as far from ‘family values’ as a group could get, and her every interaction with the Apples had left her wanting them all to go on a joint family trip together. She’d thought the Apples might learn something from the experience, but more recently had become convinced they were allergic to learning.

“Just as the Apples have been a family driven by a single purpose for all these years,” because anything more varied than that would be too complicated for such one-track minds to handle, “I really need to mention Adagio Dazzle.” Aria smiled, knowing it would be interpreted as fondness for her fellow siren, and wouldn’t be guessed to be secret delight at publicly comparing her to Applejack. But that was the kind of double-edged comparison she really liked, because fucking no one involved would take it as a compliment or leave happier than before.

“Looks, body, charm, voice, magic... most assume Adagio coasts through life on at least one of these, and that rarely sits well with honest pony folk.” Such were the drawbacks of how good she was at making everything seem effortless, far less worthy of the lazy reputation than Aria herself, whose mantra had always been ‘effort means eff-it.’

“You think you’ve seen hard work, seen ponies throwing themselves against a problem day in, day out, shaping their whole lives around getting a job done; but you’ve never seen her.” On the podium, she saw Applejack’s brows draw down even lower, as she, the most hardworking pony around, had her reputation upstaged. Definitely not deliberately. No. Not at all. “It’s nothing to do with her species, it’s no slight against ponies; that’s just who she is when something needs doing.”

Very occasionally, Aria allowed herself a moment of genuine sincerity towards something other than different levels of anger and disappointment. She had a feeling that her next few sentences would fill her sincerity quotas for decades to come. Without outwardly showing it, she ground her teeth together, hating more than anything else that it was both true and deserved.

“I’m only here in Equestria now because she spent centuries training in mountaintop monasteries across several continents, honing her focus until she could meditate and feel a world’s underlying magic field clearly enough to pick up a distortion around one particular city.” Most of the crowd looked lost after the first sentence. Like, knowing they should be impressed, but not really sure why.

All those blank, confused expressions. So many Sonatas.

“Then we moved there, and she devoted every waking moment to scouring that city with a sustained campaign of siren song echolocation.” Even if the ponies had grasped the concepts, which it looked like at least a few had, they wouldn’t be able to appreciate the difficulties of picking up the almost-imperceptible difference in audible reflections from a wall containing a secret portal to one without, nor the constant concentration required to do so. Sonata had lasted a day. Aria had helped out one day every other week, in exchange for the new eyeballs thing. But Adagio had left the house each morning, spent all day playing urban dolphin, and only returned after nightfall, with one day off every month or so.

“Until finally, one euphoric day, she found a single wall of a statue containing that world’s only portal leading back here.” The cruellest irony, naturally, was the statue being of a pony, which both rubbed their noses in their predicament, and meant that it should have been obvious where the portal was from when they first looked around Canterlot in that world. The universe had thrown banishment at them, and Adagio had thrown herself back at it.

“She brought us home.” Aria’s voice didn’t crack. She knew it didn’t, because she was a siren and had total mastery over her vocal cords, and if the hundreds of thousands of ponies arrayed before her heard it crack, waver or fluctuate with emotion in any way, they’d been mistaken.

Aria concentrated on taking a few steady breaths through her nose, though not too deep, as that would be obvious to those watching. It certainly wouldn’t hurt sales – she knew that the more heartfelt she appeared, the better everything would sell, but bollocks it still rankled. Why couldn’t ponies have found some better virtues to base their culture on? Why did they insist on having Elements of Kindness and Generosity and not things that might actually make interacting with others less of an arseache, like an Element of Indifference, or Not My Problem, or Using Humour to Avoid Discussing Feelings? Hell, maybe the Element of Laughter covered that last one, that’d be something at least.

But ponies were the chosen market, and changing their natures smelled too much like hard work, so Aria focused on the enormous piles of money she’d make from her enterprise, knowing that even if she did have to play to pony rules, she’d twist them to her advantage.

Right then. Eyes on the prize. ...And why hadn’t they remembered that expression a month previously, when they’d been trying to think of a marketing slogan for the new product? She hoped her internal facehoof didn’t show.

“I’d like to thank our very first customer, who was instrumental in spreading the word about what we were trying to do. A glowing review, and a testimonial to our ambition if ever there were one.” Even if she’d been hard to deal with at times because she was just so damn happy. Christ, Aria had thought living with Sonata for so long had prepared her for those with a needlessly-upbeat outlook on life, but, wow, had she been wrong... And when it came to spreading word-of-mouth amongst ponies, those bottomless wells of good humour were the best thing Aria could have wished for.

“I’m sure you’ll have seen her here and there around town acting as an informal ambassador for us; she’s a lovely grey pegasus with beautiful new golden eyes that both point in the same direction.” And her position as a mailmare had made her ideally suited to spreading the word, since she chatted with half of Ponyville each morning, and for two weeks solidly the only thing she’d talked about was how wonderful her new eyes were. Then she’d moved onto how much better she could fly with them. Shame she hadn’t otherwise really liked her postal job, only taking it as the best out of poor options at the time; she could have made a killing in direct marketing.

“And while I know we’ll all miss her around Ponyville, I wish her the greatest of success when she leaves next month for the Wonderbolt Academy.”

And of course, if a Wonderbolt happened to mention Aria’s farm to the press, business would go stratospheric; they’d never had a celebrity endorsement before. They might have had, because Starlight did have one very useful connection that she’d happily exploited to help Aria, but no, it seemed obvious looking back that Princess Twilight was always going to end up on the Apples’ side of the takeover disagreement. And her pony highness had been keeping fairly quiet ever since, probably seeing how things worked out before saying anything publicly.

But then there was also, uh, did he count as a celebrity? He did used to rule Equestria, even if no living pony remembered it. But then he couldn’t really make public statements about the business either, since he was too close to it officially.

“A big shout-out to Discord, everypony’s favourite lord of chaos and now optician, who runs Specslavers on Ponyville high street.” Insisting on that name had apparently been the ex-king Sombra’s one contribution as silent partner. Yeah, all the old villains were into running business startups now. Queen Chrysalis P.I. had really taken off, once she got some film noir tips from Rarity, though her otherwise-excellent undercover disguises were kind of offset by the musicians hired to follow her around playing smooth jazz. ‘Tirek’s Therapy for Warring Siblings,’ not so much.

The whole thing had started, or so the story went, when Discord had shown Princess Cadence his résumé as a suitable babysitter for Flurry Heart, and she’d responded that she couldn’t believe her eyes. Bizarrely, the references had been genuine, so Discord had set up an optician to prove it was her eyesight at fault. Sombra at that point had crawled out of the woodwork and declared himself all-too-willing to help.

...Cadence had sent them packing, of course, knowing that Discord never stuck with a gimmick for more than a few minutes, so he’d done exactly that just to spite her, and set up shop in Ponyville, where Fluttershy had persuaded the resident princess to be more embracing of the idea.

“His confidence in recommending us helped ponies know that our brand was reputable, and our products could be trusted.”

Sure, at first he might have been prescribing new eyeballs just to be a dick to ponies, knowing they’d never be able to get hold of any, but the spirit of chaos was all about the random and the unexpected, and so probably quite appreciated others being able to surprise him from time to time. And the first pony to happily chirp, ‘sure, I’ll swing by Aria’s farm on the way home’ in response to his diagnosis must have done exactly that, so after a couple of shocked seconds he’d presumably got over his disappointment and gone along with the idea.

On the subject of former villains, she grinned to herself.

“And finally, I would be remiss not to mention my number one assistant.” At that, she lost it for a moment, snickering to herself behind a hoof, glancing down to see Starlight glaring up at her from her Very Important Pony seat on the podium, to which Aria blushed in response. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist,” she waved it off to the audience, explaining, “she hates being called that.”

She delicately cleared her throat, flashing a guilty smile before starting again.

“I would, of course, be remiss not to mention my wonderful marefriend, whose unique gifts have not only proven crucial to getting the business up and running in the first place, they’ve also helped me feel a lot more at home here.” Aria let some of her affection show on her face as she gazed down at Starlight again, hoping the feelings-heavy crap would keep herself from thinking about the other stuff they – no, don’t think about that! Not here, not with everypony watching! Shit, quick, just say something nice or something!

“Starlight, you rock, girl!”

Thankfully Aria was saved by Starlight’s happy peal of laughter, and the ridiculous, mushy thought it prompted: I’m so glad I met you. They held each others’ gaze for a couple more tender seconds, before Aria looked up at the crowd again, finding most of them swooning over her and Starlight.

She genuinely blushed quite a bit at that. Stupid ponies.

Right, before she lost anymore of her self-respect: she had a product to launch, damn it!

“And now,” she leapt into the first cliché, “the moment you’ve all been waiting for...”

She allowed her voice to take on slightly more of a booming quality, reverberating across the field to the distant flags fluttering in the gentle breeze.

“A broken hoof can be fixed,” she declared, raising one foreleg in proclamation. “Cracked ribs, healed,” swapping it for the other. “Dislocated wings, reset.” A collective shudder ran through the pegasi in the crowd, and Aria wondered how many in that instant envied her siren ability to fly by magic while armoured in scales, rather than relying on sensitive wings with spindly hollow bones.

“But eyes,” she said in a more hushed tone, “they’re much harder to mend.” She swept her gaze across the crowd, as if imploring with them. “We rely on them for so much; not just for our primary sense, but also for self-expression. You look someone in the eyes when you’re being honest with them,” or staring them down, or even hypnotising them – so the point stood, but looked less wholesome than it had done, “as my new friends at Sweet Apple Acres know so well.” She gave a slight shake of her head, “And we trust all that to two little orbs in our face, so easily damaged. Shouldn’t we carry spares of something that important?”

Aria shifted her stance and altered her voice to sound more jaded. “‘Would if we could,’ we always said.” Then she steered her voice more towards concern. “But eyeballs quickly spoil when they’re not kept fresh, which needs expensive equipment, lots of space and continuous energy.” With a little more weariness, she added, “And we all know you can’t teleport with them either.” Everyone had tried that once, thinking they’d found a clever solution, and then quickly learned their lesson. “So storing eyes is impractical,” she summarised, “and growing and transporting them takes time.”

She paused just a tiny amount longer than necessary, drinking in the moment she’d been waiting for, and then spread her forelegs wide and raised her voice.

“Well, not anymore, everypony!” She rubbed her hooves together in excitement, letting it carry over into her smile and her voice. “Over the last few months we’ve been working together to refine the magic jars once used to store zap apple jam and adapt them for the modern age.” Granny Smith had explained the preservative methods behind the enchantment on each jar, Starlight had found a way to make it simpler, and therefore easier and more cost-effective to mass produce, and they’d even managed to source some toughened glass from the minotaur kingdom to make the jars considerably less fragile.

“Now, you can carry backup eyes with you wherever you go!” The volcanic dragon sand added to the glass mix had also given the jars a satin black finish, which style consultant Rarity had assured them was very chic. More importantly, it blocked sunlight from spoiling the eyeballs stored within. “Seal in the freshness so you can buy them now and fit them later. At last, you can keep as many spare pairs of eyes as you like in a place convenient for you, whether it’s in a bathroom cabinet or on a bedside table.”

Taking on an air of conversation, she added, “I keep mine in my underwear drawer.” And that’s all she’d wanted, all those years ago, when she’d been looking for a way to keep pre-prepared eyes of colours she’d chosen around for when she needed them. Mission accomplished. Job done. Practical limitations would never stand between her and the cacti of her dreams again. She and Starlight would be grabbing the first one off the production line and then taking a long holiday together, as soon as she’d finished the final two sentences of her speech. She put on her product launch voice for a final time that day.

“And it’s all thanks to our new product, launching today, developed right here in-house at Sweet Apple Acres, based on generations of Apple family tradition. Fillies and gentlecolts, I give you: the Apple eyePod!”

Author's Note:

I wanted to write a story around a pun so bad you'd regret reading the whole thing.

Writing this was a lot of fun. If you enjoyed it, check out the parent story, especially if you'd like more Sonata. And if you'd like to know more about the history of how this story came to be, you can see it for yourself in the comments there.

This is less of a sequel, more of a spin off from a couple of lines of dialogue.

Extra special bonus points (consisting entirely of pony emoticons) for those who can correctly guess which of us wrote which bits.

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Comments ( 61 )

far less worthy of the lazy reputation than Aria herself, whose mantra had always been ‘effort means eff-it.’

:rainbowlaugh: Didn’t notice that until just now!

That ending still makes me die a little, but the rest of this was a ton of fun! Always do love the way you write sirens :pinkiehappy:

8304359 I'm glad that was still funny, I wasn't sure if it worked in print as well as it did out loud. Though I suppose the site has text-to-speech now :trixieshiftright:

I only realised after we'd written quite a bit that I'd never written Aria POV before, but doing so felt pretty natural, so I think it's ok.

Hey, remember that time, like two weeks ago, when we said we could never write an Aria-centric story, because the existing examples were just too good?

I must say the fic wasn't good. It was quite bad. It was hard to read. Aria's speach and thinking didn't feel natural. It should have been comedy, but i didn't laugh even once. In other cases i would laugh at the last sentence, but the story took the laugh out of me. Maybe i got up this morning with wrong foot.

8305481 Sad to hear you didn't like it, but thanks for commenting - as you can see, you're the first person to leave feedback, and that's invaluable either way, so that's much appreciated.

The story structure is definitely weird (I mean really weird: two small 'normal' scenes sandwiched around nearly 2,000 words of Aria's dialogue-less history lesson, a second chapter of one tiny scene from a different perspective, and then 3,500 words of Aria monologue to finish), and Aria's character is pretty intense for something out of a kids' show, so I can see why it would be jarring.

But we did spend a long time yesterday editing it, so I was hoping it wouldn't be hard to read - would you mind sharing any thoughts you had on why reading it was difficult, please? Probably too late to change it now, but it'd be good to know for next time.

I...I'm not sure what to say about this. Have a like, I think it's deserved.

8309580 Thank you very, very much! :pinkiehappy:

There's really only one way to describe this story.

“I feel like you just violated my eye sockets with a cactus.”

That pun at the end, that hurt my soul :rainbowlaugh:

8323011 :rainbowlaugh: I completely agree. But for the first time we can now ask:

...In a good way? :raritywink:

Aside from the history section, pretty much everything in the story is there because of setting up that pun. The Starlight thing just sort of happened, and there are a couple of sweet moments in Aria's speech, but otherwise it's all there as set up.

A much better pun was accidentally discovered when writing it (Specslavers), which led to the bits about Discord setting up his opticians in response to Cadence, and the other villains all being involved in businesses. I almost felt bad for including a pun of a reasonably quality in the story.

Thanks very much for commenting! As you can see, it's a bit of a barren wasteland of comments here, and Naiad and I are a little stumped as to why... So today we added the description disclaimer about the sex and gore tags - do you mind if I ask if that had any bearing on your decision to read it?

Good way :rainbowlaugh: It was weird as hell, but it was also pretty funny. But I might also have Aria bias. And Starlight bias. The idea of other villains having their own startups was pretty hilarious too.

No, the disclaimer didn't really change anything for me, I didn't even realize you had added it to be honest. The reason it took me so long to get to this story was because I wanted to read Life and Times first, and I was waiting on that because I wanted to see if it would update so I could binge it. Glad I went ahead and read it, because otherwise I would have been waiting a long time I guess, based on Naiad's author notes.

I’m quite flattered to hear that the thought of binging my work is so enticing :twilightblush: But yes, it might be a little bit until it updates again; there are a handful of ideas flitting around in my head that’ll hopefully make it there sooner or later but there’s another story competing for my attention at the moment that I’m more interested in finishing.

Quite glad to hear you’ve enjoyed them both, though! :pinkiehappy: Even if I had no contribution to most of the best parts of this one beyond inadvertently inspiring the framework :twilightsheepish:

8323336 Aria and Starlight biases are no bad things, in my book :twilightsmile: I've come to appreciate Aria a bit more recently; I don't think I'd have considered writing a story with her as the lead before, when I could just write one about Adagio instead. I'm glad to now be able to see her as more of a leading lady in her own right, even if Adagio does still dominate the plot quite a bit of the time for a character with no dialogue.

And Starlight is a bit wonderful, and the queen of unconventional friendships of the kind we've only really seen previously amongst the Dazzlings themselves, so I think there'd be a good match there.

Ah cool, that makes sense :twilightsmile: I just suddenly realised a couple of days ago that the story might be guessed from the description to be AriaJack shipping, of which there is virtually none on the site, and thought that might be putting people off.

Also, maybe we now have a little more insight into why sirens think cacti make good housewarming presents...

Awesome, Resplendance Revoked got me hooked on your writing.

Its awesome that you two work together.

Haja, as Ive written Beighbors, Ive discovered that while Adagio is still my favorite siren, Aria is my favorute to write. Now I just gotta figure out Sonata...

Starlight is adorbs, and now is friends with all the best side characters except Coco. Add her and the marem is complete!

Cacti... housewarming presents... oh dear lord what have you done!? That joke was supposed to be innocent! Innocent I tell you!

8324264 I think there's probably more freedom with Aria; the way I write her she's more reactive and perhaps a bit less guarded with her emotions, so I find her much quicker to write dialogue for.

I find Sonata can be very problematic, whatever approach one takes. Either she dominates the story with her ditzy silliness, with the other two sulking in the background like Patty & Selma Bouvier, or she only pops up from time to time when there's something to add, almost a background pony the rest of the time (she's used as the butt of a joke a couple of times in this story, but that's really about it). Given how irrepressible she is in Rainbow Rocks, that can even make the other two seem a bit mean to be keeping her down that much. I tend to write Adagio and Aria having a lot of back and forth, especially in comedy, which can lead to Sonata getting left behind. Without meaning to namedrop another story, this one was very dialogue-heavy, so it's especially prominent, and Sonata gets about a quarter of Adagio's word count, and a third of Aria's. It's something I'd like to learn to address, but I'm not quite sure how.

I have to say I never got the Coco appeal thing :twilightsheepish: I don't think adding in Aria to that group would work on the show for logistics reasons, but I think she'd make a very interesting contribution, as the overlooked middle-villain.

Could be a subconscious association between cacti and happiness?

I definitely find Aria most relatable of the three.

Yeah Sonata tends to become a third wheel easily. Her biggest problem is, if one sticks to the movie canon, she is dangerously stupid. Theres not much you can do with that unless you tone it down, or ramp it up to 11.

Coco is adorable, thats all there is to it for me haha. Shes like the perfect marriage between Fluttershy and Rarity!

Hmm, well I do like desert aesthetics. If we play the siren/cactus thing right it can be the fandoms next big meme! We could rival Twicane and Taco Tuesday! WAHAHA

8324585 Yeah, I think with Sonata it can become problematic when you try to take it more realistically, and realise that there are two smart characters who continue to hang around with a very stupid one despite her nearly ruining their plans. They'd need to have a pretty good reason to keep hold of her.

I hadn't thought about Coco like that before, that's an interesting approach, and I see what you mean.

As you mention the fandom memes, I was seriously considering having Applejack mentioning growing penis-paste beans as a new business model when talking about the farm being left behind in the second chapter. Figured it would be the only thing people commented on though :twilightblush:

Yeah, that's one reason I like them as sisters, it's a good reason for them to stick around even when they don't always have the best rapport. Of course, there's also the idea that their powers only work together. Or maybe she's a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass haha.

Honestly I didn't realize why I liked her so much until I put it that way :twilightsheepish:

Oh no, is this the new beanis!? It's a cactis! ... no that doesn't work.

8325318 I agree; I think their bond best suits siblings too. I think this was the first story I've done in which they're not, though I'd have to check LATOS to confirm that. It just seemed like a good opportunity to do something different, since it wouldn't affect anything else. Sonata could have some hidden talents, true, but there's a fine line between that and the character not feeling true to who we see on-screen.

Definitely the new beanis :pinkiehappy:

Plot twist, there were originally only two sirens, and Sonata is actually Starswirl the Bearded in disguise, intentionally sabotaging their every move!

8325842 ...That is amazing, and you need to write it.

I guess after banishing 'three' sirens, he goes back in time, disguises himself, and inserts himself into their lives from the beginning, so he's always there as a ditzy sister to keep an eye on them? Or alternatively he magicked them at the point of banishment into believing there'd always been three of them.

From the start of chapter 3 I was waiting. I knew it was coming, the setup too perfect. This is how you set up a joke, everything contributing, not deviating into entirely disparate places.

Loved the Aria and Starlight angle, works great with her weird friendships, as well as Aria and Discord being old friends which makes perfect sense.


Black Eyeday sounds much worse than I intended it to, there are implications there I hadn't thought through

I dunno, that sounds like a very Aria kind of holiday :pinkiehappy:

Black eyeday sounds like it would be a thing in this 'verse, honestly. And why do I see Dorito Orange and Mt. Dew green being two of the best sellers?

Well, if people aren't eating Apples, there's always this option:

Edit: Well, image link won't work and I look like a moron. F**k you Shrek.

8610758 It creates boatloads of negative energy, the competition fuels demand just as in reality, and any eyes that get damaged in the ensuing fist fights just mean more business for her. It's bordering on genius...!

However, I think it'd be very much at odds with pony culture. And that would, typically, be the moment when Princess Twilight would finally intervene. Aria thinks about how she can't be arsed to change ponies' natures, only exploit them. So maybe once she realises what a good business opportunity it could be, she decides to put more effort into that, and with enough time could push them in that direction?

So I think that might be more of an eventual end-goal, but Black Eyeday could only be introduced once she'd laid the groundwork and prepared Equestria for it.

Alternatively, if Aria is too lazy to change ponies to her liking; well, that's not a hangup I can see her big sister having. We don't know what she's been up to since their return to Equestria, just that she at one point confirmed that assimilating the Sweet Apple Acres brand was better than flattening it. So it may be that she's way, way ahead of us...

8610772 I think the bright, sometimes UV colours are the best selling false-colour contacts, and that might hold true with eyeballs too - the first thing you'd go for is something not naturally possible, as it's suddenly an option for the first time and you'd be the first with that look. It'd be impractical for daywear, but the range of pony mane colours suggests that's less of an issue for them than it would be in many earth-bound jobs. But even then, with the eyePod, you can always keep the exotic colours for your nights out, and switch back to plain old pastel colours come morning. So yeah, I think those particular oranges and greens would sell very fast.

Shrek yourself before you wreck yourself, I guess?

Do people actually do that, outside of cosplay? Cause I've seen a couple of color changing contacts, and they do not look pleasant. Marginally better than having your eyes gouged out by a cactus, I suppose, but still.

Pro tip, never launch multiple chapters together :rainbowlaugh:

8610852 As far as I know, they're no better or worse to wear than any other contacts. I bought some once - I woke up and thought 'right, today I'm going to do something Steampunk,' which morphed into me trudging down to the cybergoth shop, and then realising that white contacts were the only thing I might wear with anything else I owned. I tried once or twice, but I never managed to put them in, so they're still on a shelf somewhere, long past their use-by date.

They crop up a lot in most alternative dance scenes, whether it's metal or rave culture. Huge in visual FX for TV, stage and film, as well as cosplay as you mention.

Huh, yeah, I should have thought of plays and film, although that kind of counts as cosplay :rainbowlaugh: Still, the dance stuff is interesting. Club scenes are weird. Concerts too, I guess. This is why I use Spotify.

8610883 But dancing at home is just a bit awkward :twilightoops: I have to take some issue with this, though - you don't look at the first 30 seconds of this scene and think it looks the coolest place on earth to hang out? And concerts, well; the sound quality's always going to be better in the studio, but live has the atmosphere.

Dancing is a bit awkward wherever I do it :twilightblush:

I dunno, I've been to a few concerts at this point, and I'd just as soon not haha. They can be fun on occasion though.

8610915 :rainbowlaugh: Good answer!

Quite seriously, it might be worth having a dance lesson. There'll be plenty of times you can't really avoid dancing, and one hour with a professional teacher could save you many of public embarrassment, as that's all it takes to have a few moves you can relax into and groove through indefinitely.

If it's not your thing, fair enough. Depends on the genre as to how good the live experience is compared to the record, too. Out of interest, were you sitting or standing? My first couple I was sitting off to one side, a fair way back in a sizeable arena, and it could have been anyone on the stage all that distance away. Whereas standing a few rows from the front, it's a whole other experience. And, um, not all live shows are equal... there are live bands, and then there are live bands...

Hmm, might be worth it, I suppose, considering the number of weddings I end up getting dragged into.

Haha, well, I'll admit the ones I've been too were probably not the best. But I just don't enjoy being around that much noise and that many people :facehoof: I suppose if I were to go to a really good one with some groups I was really into with a decent group of friends I might have fun, but that hasn't lined up so far haha.

Man, these comment threads can get off on some real tangents :rainbowlaugh:

Honestly, when dealing with a populace where replacing one's eyeballs became an overnight fashion phenomenon, it's only natural that black eyes, being something not as easily replicated by surgery, would be the next big thing (The special colors wouldn't be so special if everypony has them, after all). Aria probably starts rockin the look one day after a particularly vigorous night with Starlight, and next thing you know, you've got ponies lining up to get clocked in the face.

Good point about Adagio, though! I'd kinda figured that, like, she'd made it her mission to sleep with every gay stallion in Equestria, but she could have all kinds of dastardly schemes brewing.

8611025 To go back to the original topic then, did you spot the OoT reference this time? :trollestia:

Come to think of it, shouldn't everyone be walking around with black or swollen eyes all the time? Pulling out and replacing your eyeballs is bound to lead to swelling.

You know, I feel somewhat ashamed that I did not :facehoof:

Wait, I got it! It's the teleport thing, right?

8611038 Hmmm, you'd need a way to prove it's a genuine black eye, though, rather than just makeup, theatrical or otherwise. What about drilling new sockets, so ponies could wear multiple pairs of eyes simultaneously?

I'd kinda figured that, like, she'd made it her mission to sleep with every gay stallion in Equestria, but she could have all kinds of dastardly schemes brewing.


All at once, or...?

I like the implication that if this chapter is the kind of industrial chaos that Aria's involved in, then there's good reason we haven't heard what Adagio's up to. But equally, the thought came to me the other day that maybe she's done with her sisters, as they didn't help out much with finding the way home.

Also, though, if black eyes catches on as a fashion, somepony's got to do the punching. I wonder if we can take Adagio full-circle.

8611077 I'd think Discord could swap them out without side effects, and maybe switch your lungs around when you aren't looking.


What about drilling new sockets, so ponies could wear multiple pairs of eyes simultaneously?

Only for the most decadent of the upper class :raritywink: I imagine they'd branch out to different-shaped pupils first, though.

At once, or...?

Hmm... if there're any that're particular dashing, I don't think she'd be fond of sharing, but for most of the riff-raff, I wouldn't be surprised if she thought it was easier to just round 'em all up, throw a big orgy, and call it a day.

Are they even sisters in this one? :rainbowhuh: I have it in my head that they aren't, but maybe I'm just making that up :twilightblush: Considering how heartfelt Aria's speech got towards the end, that'd be an awfully tragic spin to put on it.

Also, though, if black eyes catches on as a fashion, somepony's got to do the punching. I wonder if we can take Adagio full-circle.

Perhaps with a nerd-exclusive side business of nose-kicking, for when the batshit crazy pony fashion trends encapsulate other facial deformities?

True, but they can't be going to Discord all the time! That's the point of making them portable, so they don't have to come to ponyville every time. Sure, Discord could go to them, but I get the distinct impression he doesn't like to be summoned.

Oh, did I mention how much I love the idea of him opening an office just out of spite?


I imagine they'd branch out to different-shaped pupils first, though.

That's true; sooner or later Chrysalis' detective agency would make it big and she'd be the next Sherlock, and suddenly everyone would want the changeling queen dual iris design. And then you'd get Thorax and his wretched brethren going, "Hey, we looked like changelings before it was cool!" And Rarity will have to lecture them on the time and place of fashion trends, and how if they try to go back to that look now they'll just be posers. And Thorax will say, "So our time to be cool is yet to come?" And she'll tell him, "No, darling, looking like you're covered in clown vomit will never, ever be cool."

Hmm... if there're any that're particular dashing, I don't think she'd be fond of sharing, but for most of the riff-raff, I wouldn't be surprised if she thought it was easier to just round 'em all up, throw a big orgy, and call it a day.

She is nothing if not efficient, and we know she at least managed it with one family previously. I imagine she'll be quite disappointed if it turns out Caramel is the only gay stallion in Equestria.

But you're right, though. The hottest ones would have to be kept separately. All I can see now is John Barrowman's smirking face :facehoof:

Are they even sisters in this one? :rainbowhuh: I have it in my head that they aren't, but maybe I'm just making that up :twilightblush:

No, now you mention it they aren't; it came up the last time the three of us were commenting on it. I don't think it makes much difference to this story, but of course it needs to tie in with LATOS.

I'd almost forgotten them being sisters would add some incest into it too. That doesn't seem a huge problem at this point.

Considering how heartfelt Aria's speech got towards the end, that'd be an awfully tragic spin to put on it.

I was thinking of complaints levelled against some siren stories that Adagio does all the work while the other two freeload, and while that would kind of be the case here, it doesn't necessarily say that she put up with it once they got home, just that she wanted to go and so might as well bring them too.

I prefer to think not, though.

Perhaps with a nerd-exclusive side business of nose-kicking, for when the batshit crazy pony fashion trends encapsulate other facial deformities?

:pinkiegasp: Of course!

8611119 Bugger, that's absolutely true. I really hadn't thought about that before. Ok, so once she's back from her "romantic" getaway, Aria needs to start work on an install-your-own eyeballs kit :rainbowdetermined2: With magic it's probably still not too bad?

All of that was just to get the Specslavers line in there. I could see him doing it, though, and the conversation between Twilight and Fluttershy, with the latter arguing how he's finding a place within the community and a new career to work towards, and Twilight just tugging her mane and repeating how Discord is making ponies look at a blurry chart of squiggles just so that he can pluck their eyes out with spoons. "They're not squiggles, Twilight! They're letters in an alphabet he made up himself. He's very creative like that, you know."

Imagine Twilight's reaction when Celestia announces her support for the company. Turns out, she and Aria have very similar tastes. Ponies flock (herd?) to get their own princess approved eyes, now in Celestia Pink and Luna Blue. Years later, seemingly by coincidence, crime in Canterlot and the surrounding area has dropped to zero. No one knows why, but ponies praise the efficiency of the royal guard. Only one pony, a well respected economist, notices the correlation between replacements and the drop in crime. He hires Chrysalis PI to investigate, and she uncovers the biggest scandal in Equestrian history: Eyeballgate. The princess cut a deal with Aria to add enchantments to the eyes to let the guard monitor and track any ponies with the replacements. The guard was watching through ponies eyes as they commited crimes, or walked to the supermarket, or made love to their special somepony. The backlash caused a riot, and the Diarchy was quickly deposed. In the power vacuum, a new leader rose to power: Adagio Dazzle, backed by the surprisingly powerful Gay Stallions voting block. Shockingly, Equestria moved into a golden agee of peace, love, and rock and roll.


That's true; sooner or later Chrysalis' detective agency would make it big and she'd be the next Sherlock, and suddenly everyone would want the changeling queen dual iris design.

Y'know, I don't think either of us ever brought Chrysalis up that time, like, a long time ago when we were talking about Sherlock crossovers, but now that you mention her...

"No, darling, looking like you're covered in clown vomit will never, ever be cool."

Yeah, I think that's something that even this Equestria will never be that into :pinkiesick:

I'd almost forgotten them being sisters would add some incest into it too. That doesn't seem a huge problem at this point.

No, I'm fairly sure that, on the sliding scale of sexual deviancy, screwing one's blood relative is quite a bit lower on the ranks than gouging your own eyes out with a cactus.

She is nothing if not efficient, and we know she at least managed it with one family previously. I imagine she'll be quite disappointed if it turns out Caramel is the only gay stallion in Equestria.

Hmm, good point. Maybe legalizing polygamy would be next on her checklist so she can wed Shining Armor and marry into the royal family?

8611627 :raritystarry: That would be pretty staggering :pinkiehappy:

It would mean Aria selling out her brand, though, but she might be able to wangle it so it's the Apple brand that takes the hit, scoring the added bonus of tarnishing their honest reputation when it all comes out.

I'm picturing Adagio being very reluctant to accept the call to power, feeling it'd just be wrong to obtain the throne by somepony else's scheming rather than her own. So then she takes up the helm as a hard-done-by, long-suffering ruler, going along with the whims of a popular support bloc who won't take no for an answer, looking the tortured hero as she's granted power over yet another expansion of her territory while reclining on a golden chaise longue in a Rarity-custom-designed monostrap grecian dress being handfed the finest red grapes by an oiled attendant while two others buff her hooves with pegasus feathers.

True! As long as Aria has her Glimmy, her cactus, and her eyeballs, I'm sure she'll be happy.

Haha, Adagio accidentally becomes good because she inherited power through corruption rather than scheming. Somehow, I love it! And I'm picturing her massive siren form wearing that dress... It's a fantastic image.

Of course, she can only play the put-upon, hardworking ruler for so long. It's only a matter of time before someone decides to give her some emergency powers and she declares herself The Senate.


Y'know, I don't think either of us ever brought Chrysalis up that time, like, a long time ago when we were talking about Sherlock crossovers, but now that you mention her...

She could disguise herself when working cases, or when she wanted a quiet day off, but the only reason a changeling private detective would become known and publicly recognised is if she wanted to be. And Chrysalis would.

Oddly enough it was what we were talking about regarding Sherlock that I was sort of thinking if Adagio was rather displeased with the other two for not helping her get home - in that situation, she'd be Mycroft, off relaxing in her leisure palace somewhere while Aria tries her hand at doing the work and being the centre of attention, being consulted only occasionally when Aria fears she's out of her depth.

Hmm, good point. Maybe legalizing polygamy would be next on her checklist so she can wed Shining Armor and marry into the royal family?

There's got to be a better way around that, though, one that doesn't involve acquiring (usually limited) power through marriage or, you know, Shining Armor. I guess she could always foist him off on Cadence, but that would mean, you know, Cadence too :twilightoops:

Maybe she could persuade the two of them that what they really want is to both marry her and then spend the rest of their time enjoying the pleasure of each others' company in the dungeons, letting her pick up their workload?

8612936 I think they'd be more likely to declare her their eternal empress themselves. But even then, what would she do with the ultimate power it would confer?

Sonata might come over to spend the afternoon trying to cheer her up, offering ideas on what they could do now Adagio's in charge of literally everything.

"We could invade the griffon kingdoms!"
"Have you seen them? They're shacks on a mountaintop."
"Dragon lands?"
"Ember's the only nearby ruler I can stand, and I need her to sit between myself and Thorax at dinners just so I can keep my food down."
"What about invading the changeling lands then?"
"We did. They hugged our troops, petitioned us to become a registered Equestrian colony, and have been sending a steady stream of baked goods our way to try to persuade us ever since."
"How about, like, state visit to Southern Equestria or something?"
"They already built me a pyramid. What use does an immortal have for a pyramid?! And now that Somnambula's back, the big cuddly sphinx won't come out from under the bed."
"Ooh, but that does give me an idea! Let's go harness the power of every earth pony, every changeling, every diamond dog, every creature in the domain that can possibly dig, and let's dig a hole. Let's dig the biggest hole you can imagine; miles across, leagues deep...

"And then let's bury Star Swirl in it."

I really like the idea of Adagio putting every resource at her disposal toward ending Starswirl, but not really going out of her way to do it. Like, she has this big altar set up to have him killed in front of the entire world, the worlds biggest grave dug out just to drive the point home that she wants him dead, wanted posters in every city... but no real effort to actually track him down or catch him, because if she ever did she would be really bored. Like her guards are ordered to look for him, and just stare at him menacingly, and follow him at just slightly faster than comfortable walking pace, just to remind him she doesn't like him.

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