• Published 19th Dec 2017
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Ashes to Inferno - Sun Aura

Sunset Shimmer has reached her lowest point. Thankfully, there are those that would be happy to help her up.

  • ...

Everfree Part II:Same Magic Time, Different Magic Channel

After another bout of nightmares and Magical outbursts, Sunset tried. She knew Twilight didn’t want to ‘ruin the trip’, but if she was going to be freaking out every time, that would be worse than Magic itself.

And while it was strange, her using Magic through a different channel, it was still Unicorn Magic. Sunset could teach her that much.

“Hey,” Sunset began. “I know you don’t want to, but I really think we need to figure out what’s going on with your Magic. If you could learn to control it-“

“But that’s just it!” Twilight snapped. “I’ll never be able to control it!”

Sunset opened her mouth to speak, to tell her it would be fine. Instead, it turned into a gasp of surprise as she watched a boat zip across the lake and crash into the dock. Everyone seemed fine, though wet and disoriented. Still, it sort of steals the spotlight.

“What happened?” Rainbow asked, running up behind them.

“I didn’t mean to!” Twilight apologized, heading directly into panic mode.

“We didn’t see anything,” Sunset reminded her, trying to calm her fear. “So we don’t know what happened.”

While she wanted to help calm her fears, Sunset had to choose. At the moment, people who just crashed into a dock were of a bigger priority, so she checked on them.

By the time she’d fixed that, Twilight had disappeared. It wasn’t difficult to guess what she was thinking. And okay, yes, the boat thing could have been her fault. It seemed unlikely, considering she hadn’t seen the magenta aura around the boat when it crashed, but possible.

Either way, if she wanted to stop the Magical outbursts, she needed to learn how. The problem was finding her. She hadn’t been around camp, but if she’d gone into the forest that would be a problem. Especially since people tended not to care which direction they wandered when upset.

Sunset debated about going into ‘Pony Up’ mode and casting a locate spell. But with the strange way Twilight’s Magic was acting up, she doubted she could track her through that. She’d have to go back to the tent to use an item of hers for the spell. Of course, that implies that her own Magic wouldn’t backfire like Twilight’s was.

Then again, what was the one thing better than a locate spell? A talking dog that could easily sniff out the girl he knows best.

Of course, by that time, it looked like Twilight had found something else to occupy her time. Or rather, someone.

“I guess we can help Twilight deal with the Magic stuff a little later,” Sunset said, sharing a smile with Spike.

“Something at camp must be making this happen,” Sunset said.

While Fluttershy was quick to blame ‘Gaia Everfree’, Sunset thought differently. And made a mental note to keep Fluttershy away from the rest of the ghost stories. Because even if, in hypothetical, ‘Gaia Everfree’ was real, she would have very little to do with the girls' Magic going haywire.

She really wanted to investigate this. Partly out of curiosity, but mostly because this could be a problem if they let it go unhandled. Twilight did have a point. Magical Outbursts could be dangerous, but with no one wanting to do it…. Well, it should be fine. Part of the Outbursts is that it’s unconscious, so as long as they’re thinking ‘don’t’, they should be fine.

“I think we should try to figure it out,” Sunset sighed. “But if letting it go for now is what the rest of you want….”

They agreed. Sunset still thought it was a bad idea, but she’d let them have it. She’d step in if she needed to, but for now, they could relax.

It was a noise that woke Sunset up that night. She thought it was just Twilight having another nightmare, but when she looked over the bed was empty. At first, she thought that perhaps the girl had just left to use the bathroom. Then she saw that it wasn’t just Twilight missing, but all of her stuff and Spike as well.

Looking out, she saw purple in the distance running to the trees. She left? Why would she leave? Without stopping to think, Sunset tugged on her boots and ran after her. It didn’t take long to catch up.

“Twilight!” Sunset called, as soon as she was close. “What are you doing out here?”

“We’re…” Twilight began, shrinking back a bit. “We’re meeting a cab to take us home.”

“She thought you’d talk her out of it,” Spike said, answering Sunset’s next question.

“Because I would,” Sunset said, putting her hand on Twilight’s arm. “Twilight, you can’t leave.”

Before she could ask her next question, Sunset felt a shock. Not static this time, but Magic jolting through her. It felt as if she was matching Pinkie’s sugar binge, as colors and sounds and even smells began to shift and change.

Next thing she knew, she was back at the docks, back when it had crashed. But she wasn’t ‘her’. She was watching as it happened around her.

“You don’t think it was the spirit, do you?” Pinkie asked.

“No,” Twilight whispered. “It was me.”

Sunset could feel the guilt stab through her chest. Not her own, but Twilight’s. It was more than just being sorry for what might have happened, it was almost fear. As if she thought she was doing it on purpose, as if she were somehow dangerous.

The scene shifted again. This time, she saw the benches and lanterns from dusk. A conversation between Twilight and Spike.

“I think it’s Midnight Sparkle,” Twilight had whispered. “She’s still a part of me. I can feel it. And I think her Magic is infecting my friends.”

This was more than guilt she felt. Sunset knew because it she could feel it tear at her heart as if it were her own emotions. She was more than scared of Magic, she was downright terrified. Because of ‘Midnight Sparkle’, because she thought it was happening again, as impossible as that was.

The shifting came to a halt, dropping Sunset back into reality. Thoughts whirled through her mind, figuring out what she’d seen. Figuring out what to say.

“Twilight,” Sunset said, keeping the lingering emotion from shaking her. “There’s no ‘Midnight Sparkle’. There’s only you.”

“How did you know what I was thinking?” Twilight gasped, pulling away.

“I saw it,” she answered. “When I touched your arm. I could see flashes of memories, and I felt what you felt then. I… I guess I did get some Magical outburst too. Weird though. I'm not sure what the whole memories thing is, but it's kind of cool.”

“No, it’s not!” she exclaimed. “I’m infecting you now!”

“Twilight, you’ve got to stop looking at this as a bad thing,” she said.

“Easy for you to say!” she replied. “Magic turned you into something beautiful! The last time I tried to use it, it turned me into a monster. I… I’m just so afraid it’ll happen again.”

“Yes, last time I turned into something amazing,” she said. “But I’ve let Magic turn me into a monster too. So if anyone understands what you’re going through, it’s me. I can help you, Twilight. And the rest of our friends can be there for you, too. But not if you run away.”

“I’ll stay,” she sighed. “But I still don’t think it’s a good idea for me to be near the rest of our friends right now. Not until we know why this is happening.”

Sunset wanted to tell her that it would be fine, but she knew that wouldn’t work. Not without going into why it would be fine. But she realized exactly what the problem was, when she fell into Twilight’s Memories. And she wasn’t sure Twilight was ready to face that truth just yet, not with the guilt she already carried.

“Understood,” Sunset nodded.

Just as she was going to suggest going back to the tent, there was a rustling in the bushes. She moved to put Twilight behind her, only to see the glint on an ax in the moonlight. Instinct screamed ‘put up a shield’, but since her Magic didn’t react she was the one screaming instead.

She stopped when she realized the guy with the ax was screaming too. And that he was decently familiar. Perhaps she should ban herself from ghost story night when she banned Fluttershy.

“Wait, Twilight?” Timber asked, lowering the ax.

“Timber?” Twilight sighed. “I’m so glad it’s just you! Wait, what are you doing out here?”

“With an ax?” Sunset added, pointing at the offending weapon.

“I was chopping down firewood,” Timber defended, pulling a wagon of logs into view.

“In the middle of the night?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

“We needed more for tomorrow night’s campfire,” he explained. “And if I didn’t take care of it tonight, it would be one more thing Gloriosa would add to her list. ‘I’ve got this!’.”

Both girls snickered at the impression of his sister, understanding a younger sibling’s loving annoyance far too well.

“What about you two?” Timber asked. “Why are you hanging out in the woods in the middle of the night?”

Twilight froze, glancing to Sunset for an answer. As much as Sunset didn’t want to lie, she did think that covering for a friend in front of a guy she likes might get her a pass.

“I was sleepwalking,” Sunset shrugged, hoping he didn’t ask how sleepwalkers put on shoes. “Twilight found me and was bringing me back to camp.”

Twilight nodded.

“Come on,” Timber said, though she wasn’t sure if he believed them. “I’ll walk you guys back.I’ll protect you from ‘Gaia Everfree’.”

“Come on,” Sunset rolled her eyes at his antics. “That’s obviously a spooky story for the campfire.”

“On no, it’s legit,” he nodded. “How else would you explain what happened at the docks? And that weird thing where the earth shook? Come on, I know a shortcut back to the tents.”

He offered a hand to Twilight, which she gladly took. Sunset debated about saying anything about Magic that was definitely not part of his scary story. Of course, as the pair walked off, that’s when she noticed the glitter trail coming from Timber’s pocket.

“Legit, huh?” she smirked at Spike, picking up a handful of glitter. “I think we just found our ‘Gaia Everfree’.”

“But why would he work so hard to make us think she was real?” Spike asked.

“You heard what he said about wishing his sister would sell the camp,” she said. “If nobody wants to come here because it’s home to some angry ancient nature spirit, it sure would help the cause.”

“We should tell Twilight,” he said.

“Not yet,” she said, keeping him from running off. “She’s obviously going through a lot right now. We should probably be one hundred percent sure before we tell her the guy she likes is trying to run everyone out of camp.”

“Uh-huh,” he agreed.

“Besides,” she said, standing and brushing the dirt and glitter off her hands. “Maybe it’s not as sinister as I think. It could be a secret camp activity. You know, get everyone to play Scooby Doo and find the Monster in the Mask. ”

“Well, we do have meddling kids and a talking dog,” he laughed.

“Exactly,” she said. “Maybe it’s just getting out of hand. If it gets too out of hand we’ll bring it up, but for now? Let’s wait and see.”

This was…. Agonizing to watch. Rainbow barely tip-toeing her way across the dock, Applejack lightly tapping nails, and the disaster of diving for cover and Rarity’s shields knocking the girls over when Pinkie forgot to think and chucked a box of nails.

“What?” Pinkie tilted her head. “Oh! Did you think the nails would explode like the sprinkles? Wow! Glad that didn’t happen, huh?”

“Sorry girls,” Rarity sighed, helping Rainbow and Fluttershy up. “I didn’t mean to. I don’t know how to control this.”

“It’s okay,” Rainbow said.

“None of us do,” Fluttershy agreed.

“Which is why we shouldn’t pretend this isn’t happening,” Sunset pointed out.

“Do you have them now too?” Rainbow asked.

“It started last night,” she nodded. “When I touch people, it’s like I can feel what they’re feeling, and sometimes I’ll see memories.”

“Oh! Fancy!” Pinkie exclaimed, popping up next to her. “Try me! Try me!”

Pinkie grabbed her hand and practically slapped it against her face. Sunset felt herself slipping into the whirl of colors and sounds.

This was less of a ‘Memory’ and more a ‘state of mind’. Some upbeat, catchy, pop song blared while Pinkie skipped around a world full of colors only bees and art students can see. Not to mention that even Mind!Pinkie was on a sugar binge.

“That explains so much,” Sunset mused as she came back to reality.

“Yep!” Pinkie chirped

“Girls,” she said, shaking off that weirdness. “We can’t just brush this off because it doesn’t seem like an ideal time.”

“I guess you’re right,” Applejack sighed.

“Life never likes being simple,” Rarity said. “As long as I don’t get behind schedule, I think this should be fine.”

“So what do we do?” Rainbow asked.

“First, we need to figure out some of the why,” she said. “You’re using Magic, but you’re not transforming to do it. So first things first is figure out why you’re doing that.”

“Any ideas?” Fluttershy wondered.

“On why or how to do it?” she said. “I’m not there on the first, but I have an idea on the second. If we can get one of you using your Magic, I could use my usual Magic to feel out where you’re channeling it. I think I can control that much.”

“Simple enough, if we can get the stuff on command,” Rainbow said.

“Let’s start with Applejack,” she said. “Think you could try and lift something decently heavy?”

Applejack nodded, looking around at the items around the dock while she let Sunset ‘Pony Up’. In the end, she walked to one of the posts that would be used for the sign. She took a deep breath before bending to pick it up.

For a moment, it seemed like just her normal strength, built up from years of farmwork, letting her lift it a bit. It was still heavy enough that usually another person would need to help.But then there was a shift, like a change in air pressure. Suddenly, she was lifting the post on her own.

Sunset took the opportunity, playing with Applejack’s Magic and poking around. Her Magic itself felt normal, like the way it always did. And that was exactly the problem, but not the cause.

“So, I figured out what’s going on a bit,” Sunset said. “It’s just your usual Magic.”

“Uh, Sunset?” Applejack raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think I’ve ever done this before.”

“Exactly,” she replied. “Have you tried to lift something while using Magic before?”

“Probably?” she said. “Though, now that I think about it, other than my bass I don’t think I have.”

“It’s your Magic,” she explained. “Your Counterpart is an Earth Pony, so you have the same abilities. Earth Ponies’ Magic is mostly passive. One of the things it does is add to the Pony’s physical ability. They’re stronger and have a lot more stamina, though they can get more muscle and such through thing like exercise or, well, farm work.”

“So she’s just strong because of Magic?” Rainbow asked.

“Magic that works with her own strength,” she frowned. “The weird thing, is how you’re channeling it.”

“Channeling it?” Applejack parroted.

“How’s she channeling it?” Pinkie wondered. “Shouldn’t it just channel through her since it’s her own Magic? That’s what other-me does?”

“That’s the weird thing,” Sunset said, ignoring Pinkie's knowledge of the other world. “The reason we ‘Pony Up’ is because Human Bodies aren’t supposed to channel Magic, so it transforms us to do so. But right now you’re channeling through something else.”

“Like that thing you and Pinkie can do with gemstones?” Rarity said.

“Not exactly,” she frowned. “There are two ways I can channel through a Gem. The way with channeling emotions, and by using it the same way I would use my horn which is channeling a spell. I’m sort of doing both when I use the gem. Channeling magic through the gem is the ability I’m using, but my Human Form isn’t made for it, so I’m using the gem to get around it. It’s a Pony ability, but I’m not sure why Pinkie and I have it.”

“This is complicated,” Rainbow sighed. “So what about the rest of us?”

“Is it all just regular abilities?” Fluttershy asked.

“I think it’s the same,” Sunset said, thinking it over. “I know the other Fluttershy can talk to animals. Judging from the way your Magic feels, I’m pretty sure she’s about one eighth Siren, so it’s a form of Voice Magic becoming Universal Translation.”

“But Rarity’s shields?” she continued. “It seems like a usual spell. You wanted a barrier, and you created a barrier. Think you can pull one up?”

Hesitantly, Rarity raised her hand. Another blue gem-like structure appeared in front of her, hovering in the air. Sunset ran her hand along it, feeling out its Magic just to be sure.

“Yep,” Sunset nodded. “It’s not a real gem, just Magic solidified into a barrier. It just looks like a gem because of your aesthetic.”

“Too bad,” Rarity said. “It would be nice if I could conjure actual diamonds.”

“Wouldn’t we all love to,” she smiled. “But it’s one of many spells you can use. I can teach you a few more when we get home. Or at least once we figure out what’s going on with the channeling. Because like AJ, you’re channeling through something else as if it’s your own horn.”

“So, are Pegasai super fast or…” Rainbow began.

“You are though!” Pinkie said.

“Yes and no,” Sunset said. “One part of Pegasai Magic is passive, like Earth Pony Magic. It helps enhance their flight abilities to let them fly faster with better accuracy and vision. I think your Magic is just confused.”

“Confused?” Applejack asked, finally putting down the post.

“How does one fly without wings?” she replied. “Since Rainbow doesn’t have wings, that part of her Magic has to go somewhere. I think it’s ‘getting the wires crossed’ with the Pegasai’s cloudwalking ability, causing you to run fast instead of fly fast.”

“Okay, so how do I control it?” Rainbow asked. “Aj can relearn her strength, Rarity can just not, and Fluttershy’s not doing anything that could be dangerous.”

“Not quite sure yet?” she admitted. “Try to see if you have a ‘cruise mode’? At the very least you should have the reaction time as well. Sorry, I don’t have all the answers. I still don’t know why I can see memories, but considering it’s emotion-based it might be related to the crystal thing.”

“So what about Pinkie and explosions?” Rarity asked.

“Yeah, that’s totally not an Earth Pony thing!” Pinkie added.

“You’re right,” Sunset said, ignoring the headache of how much Pinkie knows. “It only happened with the sprinkles though, right?”

“Well, the nails didn’t work,” she listed while everyone sighed. “AndI was twirling a stick earlier that didn’t go off when I tossed it. And I tossed a ball back to Trixie earlier and it didn’t explode.”

“Have some more sprinkles?” she asked.

“Of course!” she grinned.

She pulled a small container out of her hair, something everyone was far too used to to question. Thankfully, she had the forethought to chuck a handful toward the lake instead of the dock. It was quick, but Sunset had enough time to explore what she was looking for.

“Yeah, that’s the crystal thing,” Sunset said. “Sugar crystals.”

There was a collective ‘oh’ from the group.

“That’s also even stranger,” she frowned. “Because explosions are frustration.”

“Does this look like the face of frustration?” Pinkie asked with an almost manic grin.

“Yes actually,” Rarity said, stepping back.

“You kinda look like that Gloriosa girl when you do that,” Applejack said. “I mean, both of you are pink and far too chipper.”

“Maybe her frustration is rubbing off on me,” Pinkie said.

There were several snickers at that. Rainbow even fell off the dock and into the lake. Sunset figured it was a combination of karma and the sign from the universe to ‘cool off’.

“Well someone’s frustrated,” Pinkie frowned. “I can’t pinpoint it, but I know someone’s upset. I think I’m putting that in the sprinkles though. Probably won’t make them taste good.”

“We’ll figure it out later,” Sunset sighed, reluctantly dropping the ‘Pony Up’ transformation. “Just try to… not be frustrated. For now, let’s see if we can manage to put a dock together.”

The dock looked great. And now with magic under control, hopefully there will be less damage. But what Sunset wanted to focus on was Twilight. Maybe seeing that it could be controlled, seeing that they can use it to make something great, could convince her to try for herself.

The trouble was finding her. She’d been avoiding the girls most of the day, but she had to be somewhere in the camp. As Sunset neared the boat house, she heard voices yelling.

“I just wish you didn’t tell them that ridiculous story!” Gloriosa’s voice shouted.

“This is all too much for you!” Timber’s voice shouted back. “You have to let it go!”

This was weird. Was… was he actually trying to get her to get rid of the camp? It couldn’t be part of an act, since no one was supposed to hear this. Trying to sell the camp was the only possibility.

The door slammed open, smacking Sunset in the face. Thankfully both siblings were too angry to notice her, each storming off. Once they were clear, Sunset made her way back and nearly ran over Flash in the process.

“Hey, I was just looking for you,” Flash said.

“For what?” Sunset wondered, trying to find either sibling in the crowd.

“To ask if I’m an idiot,” he said.

“You’re going to have to be more specific,” she said.

“About…About Thunder,” he sighed.

“Oh,” she said. “Then yes. Yes you are. What was it we said about ‘being oblivious while flirting with the mysterious new person’?”

“I get it,” he groaned. “I really get it. And it’s confusing, even with your advice. Because I did like him, and I’m only just now realizing why you kept encouraging me to ask him out Junior year. But both Twilights showed up.”

“Look on the bright side,” she smiled. “Thunder already knows you’re an idiot. But as frustrated as he can be with that, he still likes you.”

“And you knew about it,” he groaned. “You know, every time I said ‘no, he probably doesn’t like me’, you could’ve just smacked me and told me the truth.”

“I decided watching in frustration was a better option than revealing that,” she shrugged. “Besides, I was encouraging! So, now that he’s apparently told you, how does he feel on the Twilight situation?”

“Complicated,” he said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “He said he’s open to trying out the whole ‘me dating two people’ thing if Twilight were on board. But if she’s not on board then I have to choose one of them.”

“And if Twi rejects you then he’s ‘second choice’?” she guessed.

“He says he wouldn’t think of it like that,” he said. “But I would. Honestly, the whole ‘dating multiple people’ thing sounds weird to me, but it’s a good option if it works out.”

“Well, there’s your answer,” she said. “See if it works out. Get to know this Twilight a bit more, and if she does end up liking you then you all can figure it out from there. And if she does reject you, remember that whoever was there ‘first’, ‘second’ or not at all doesn’t matter. If it did matter, everyone would only be in love with their first crush. All that matters is you like them both.”

“That… helps a bit,” he said. “Thanks. And you know, if you ever need any help with romance….”

“No offense, but you’re not my ‘go to’ for romantic advice,” she deadpanned. “For several reasons. But you can be my wingman if you want.”

“You sure you’re not having romance problems?” he wondered. “Because you seem upset about something. And don’t try and say you’re not.”

“Well, nothing romantic on my end,” she said. “Just the whole Magic situation you probably noticed. And that something might be going on with someone one of my friends likes, so I’m trying to figure out what to do with that without hurting her in the long run.”

“Don’t know about that,” he said. “But hey, whatever’s going on, you can figure it out. They’ll understand that you’re trying to help.”

“Thanks, I…” she trailed off.

Over his shoulder, she noticed Timber again. Despite the campers running around, she watched him slip into the trees. Chopping firewood at night was one thing, but sneaking off while he’s working? Even if he wasn’t trying to get his sister to sell the camp, that was suspicious.

“I’ll talk to you later,” Sunset said. “I need to go do something.”

Before Flash could respond, she raced off toward the forest.

Author's Note:

Working with the Magic in this was difficult. Because back in LoaR I gave them all access to their normal Magic, so I had to figure out how to deal with this stuff.
Well, next is the Climax of the movie. Let's have fun.

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