• Published 25th Aug 2018
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Sunset Shimmer Hunts the Undead - Rune Soldier Dan

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Siren Song

“Hey Adagio. I know it’s been a while, but me and Sonata are in Canterlot this weekend. What say we grab coffee somewhere and catch up on old times?”

The room Adagio and Wallflower shared always stood a fair bit messier than their goody-goody neighbors’. Both had a fantastic tolerance for dirty laundry and dust-bunnies, and their two months together had brought them to an unspoken game of chicken for who would clean the place first.

Adagio was losing. Whereas Wallflower seemed totally indifferent to the overflowing trash and stacked pizza boxes, Adagio’s reluctance stemmed from a thousand years of being the comparative neat-freak of the sirens and a hard determination not to clean up after anyone again. She had spent enough time with her sisters’ Ramen bowls and candy wrappers, she wasn’t about to toss Wallflower’s leftover Chow Mein. Even if the girl had crammed it in her garbage can’s mountain three days ago…

Nothing perfume couldn’t fix. Adagio lounged alone on her bed between gossip magazines and a pile of clean underwear, staring at the text message.

Full pink lips curled into an angry sneer, and her voice took a high falsetto with the first words. “‘Catch up on old times!’ Screw you, Aria.”

“So why are you going?”

Wallflower’s stealth wasn’t even startling these days. “Nobody asked you, Invisible Girl. And who says I’m going?”

A glance up showed Wallflower sitting cross-legged on her bed, peering at Adagio over her laptop screen. “You spent the last two hours doing your hair and makeup, picking through clothes until you found the trendiest, and complaining about the other sirens. Where are you guys meeting?”

“Some Hipster Coffee Place.” Adagio raised her legs and swung them down, using the momentum to launch herself to a stand. “That’s the actual name. I guess it’s supposed to be ironic.”

“I have coupons you can use,” Wallflower said.

Adagio blew a stay hair from her face. “Oh, that would be rich. They’re millionaire pop stars, I’m a scrub student, and let’s drive that fact home by bringing coupons.”

“It’s just an offer,” Wallflower mumbled sulkily. “You really don’t seem like you want to go. Stay home, let’s play Smash Pillars.”

“Stay home, let’s play Smash Pillars,” Adagio repeated in poor imitation of Wallflower’s squeaky voice. “Forget your family, be a loser and sit around playing video games all day like me!”

She grinned cruelly at Wallflower’s flinch, wondering if this would bait their first argument. Adagio could use the release, and a wimp like Wallflower was easy prey.

But Wallflower didn’t rise to it, nor did she fall. Her expression recovered to a flat, even gaze before returning to the screen.

“You’re scared.”

“Whatever.” The temptation to saunter close enough to smack Wallflower with her curls was there, but Adagio didn’t dare risk them falling out of place.

She eyed a hand mirror on her way out the door, then down the elevator. Mascara, makeup, lipstick, all applied perfectly. Exiting the dorm proved the day unseasonably warm for November, and not at all windy. Good. She checked again on the sidewalk and bus – eye-shadow, teeth, and curls. Still perfect. She gave her whole outfit a once-over in front of Some Hipster Coffee Place, pulling out a few crumbs and stray hairs.

Eleven in the morning, on a Monday. As dead a time for a coffee shop as any, and that suited Adagio. No one inside but some teen behind the counter who honestly looked like he was on drugs.

...And a certain blue and purple duo. They sat by a round table in the center of the room and looked up as Adagio entered.

Synchronized, the pair grinned cruel, leering smiles. But that had always been their standard, and Adagio gave the same without a blink.

“Well, look what the cat dragged in,” Aria purred. She was always the least skilled of them at purring, but had definitely practiced since they parted ways.

Adagio took in the other’s garb, arching a perfectly-infuriating eyebrow. “Said the girl in ripped jeans and a sweater.”

“No makeup, either. Give us a break, it’s our time off.” Sonata stood and sashayed to the cashier, though threw an icy smile on her way. “Besides, we’re pop stars. Who do we need to impress?”

Two jabs in one sentence. Sonata had improved, too.

She went on, turning a sultry grin to the teen behind the counter. “What do you want? I’ll buy.”

“Not necessary,” Adagio said.

“My treat, I brought coupons.” Sonata waved her to a chair, eyes still on the cashier. “Give us a pumpkin spice for my beautiful leader.”

Adagio stood beside the table, but didn’t sit. “If you guys are just here to rub dirt on my face, I’m leaving.”

“Give her extra sugar, because this girl’s salty,” Aria said as the worker turned away. “Adagio, relax. Maybe you have nostalgia goggles or something but this is how we always talk. No need to get jealous.”

“I can’t really say I’m jealous.” Adagio smiled thinly, accepting the seat. “You’re supposed to be sirens, and you spend your time singing trashy pop music to teenage swine. No culture, no complex emotion, no creativity. I hope you’ve made millions, because you’ll need something to live on on next year when nobody cares.”

Aria pointed, her left lip curling upwards. “See? This is how we talk.”

“Not gonna lie, though. We are millionaires. It rules.” Sonata dropped off the drink with a flourish.

Adagio’s eyes snapped between the coffee and Sonata’s gleaming teeth. She didn’t see any cash or cards exchanged at the counter. Her gaze trailed to the dopey smile on the cashier…

Memories of green mist and hypnotic songs rose, and were punted aside. Sonata just flirted for the coffee, that was all. The little skank.

“Now it makes sense,” Adagio murmured, relishing the hints of confusion on her peers. “I wondered something: you two were backup dancers six months ago, and now suddenly you’re big-name stars? Give me the scoop, which industry executive are you going down on?”

Her smile fell as the pair responded with Cheshire grins. They traded a knowing glance before Sonata explained. “None of them. Come on, Adagio, we’ve always had a way with words. Gold, jewels, whatever we want.”

Adagio sipped at her drink. Pumpkin spice, extra sugar. “Yeah, and then our amulets got destroyed.”

Aria and Sonata shared another glance. Another smile.

A few other students had entered, filling the background with murmured conversation. Sonata began to hum, while Aria spoke. “But how are you doing? Tell us about these new friends you’ve made.”

“Cool, you’ve been stalking me,” Adagio said quickly, anxious to regain the initiative.

Another miss. Aria laughed. “No. Weird story, we walked by one of your professors talking on his phone, and he mentioned your name. We struck up a chat, gave him a little leg, and the old coot fell over himself telling us everything.”

Adagio gave her eyes an expert roll. “I’m pretty sure no professor has any idea what I get up to when–”


The word came right into her ear, close enough to feel Sonata’s breath.

“No shame, no shame,” Aria said as Sonata dodged a slap. “You want a new toy. We’ve all had plenty. And there’s a certain thrill in pursuing… you know, righteous folk, heroes, and all that.”

Adagio let loose her own careful smirk. “Painfully, we’re dorm-mates now. That’s all. You know how it is, two people can’t share a bench these days without someone thinking they’re lovers.”

Sonata resumed her hum. Adagio chuckled, even more carefully. “Although I do admit, I am curious which of my stupid teachers has these weird ideas.”

“D–” Aria gave a grinning cough, then went on. “Didn’t catch his name. We were a little distracted, you know? Our dog had just run away from home.”

Adagio shuffled in place, then fought down a shiver as it brushed her damp undershirt to her back. She’d been sweating. Too many coincidences, and one big question which had wormed to her mind ever since that eerie, familiar mist rose from the dead werewolf.

Her heart beat fast. Sweaty hands smudged her porcelain cup. Fear, tension…

And, murky and uncertain in her sisters’ leers… the tiniest glimpse of opportunity.

To business, then. “What’s going on?” Adagio asked. “For real.”

They didn’t bite – at least, not obviously. Aria gave a lackadaisical shrug. “Hm, we miss you. Kind of. You were always the scary-smart one, knowing who to trust and who to stab. We definitely miss that. But more to the point, we’ve grown up enough to realize how nasty it was to skip out and stick you with the rent.”

She fished in her purse, and produced a bound stack of bills. “So, here’s our end. Plus interest. Better late than never.”

Adagio took the money, maintaining stoic eye contact until she brought it close enough for a quick check. One hundred dollars, two hundred, three…

Tumultuous though her finances might be, Adagio was proud. A little guilt-money didn’t even begin to make up for the event that launched her long spiral into debt. Five minutes earlier and she would have thrown it back in Aria’s face, probably followed by the coffee.

Five minutes earlier, Adagio had no hope of ever reclaiming her powers. Now...

She flipped the stack, permitting herself only a surprised blink as silver caught the light. Several rectangular, sparkling tickets laid bound to the bottom.

“We’ll be performing at Canterlot Theater and Bar in February,” Aria said. The new customers had started arguing in the background. “Only a few hundred seats. Would love to have you, and you’ll be the coolest kid in town to whoever you share those with. And that’s just a prelude for our big, big concert at that venue near Canterlot Mountain. I’d give tickets for that too, but your college sponsored it so all the students come free.”

“What’s the catch?” Adagio murmured.

“Listen to this girl!” Aria jerked a thumb, then checked her watch and frowned. “Nuts, we gotta scram. Sonata, let’s go. Adagio, we’ll catch up in a few months. Good talk.”

Adagio narrowed her eyes, but gave a nod. “See you later.”

Sonata hummed and waved, following Aria out the door. “Plane leaves in two hours for Tokyo! I’ll text you pics!”

“Don’t bother,” Adagio grumbled as they made their escape. She sighed and transplanted to a discreet corner, unwilling to let the expensive drink go to waste. Her ears prickled as the customers continued their fight, and the cashier began blinking and staring dumbly around.

Hunching to hide it from view, she counted the money again. Even more than she initially thought. Enough to almost pay down her credit card, or else go on one heck of a shopping bender.

“Dora, your explorations have brought you to the Sunshine Land, where the evil king has stolen the Summer Crystals and hidden them in four storybook realms. Take your shotgun and don’t stop killing until you have his head on a pike!”

Applejack sipped at a half-full beer bottle, watching Sunset and Twilight’s characters run across the screen. “I don’t know about this one. Not everything needs a gritty reboot.”

“Oooooh!” Wallflower waggled her finger. “The Dora the Destroyer fandom considers you the enemy!”

“Reckon I’m okay with that.”

“I’m *oof* home!” Adagio called, stumbling through the doorway. Boxes loaded down her arms, and hangers of wrapped clothes were hooked to her collar’s back.

“Whoa.” Applejack stood, catching the siren as she tilted too far to the right. “Need a hand? What happened?”

“I went on a shopping bender.” Adagio allowed Applejack to relieve her of some, then most of the weight. “Just put it on my bed, thanks. No peeking.”

Twilight glanced guiltily to Sunset, lowering her voice as the pair entered Adagio’s room. “Should she really be spending money like that?”

Sunset made a noise somewhere between a groan and sigh. “You know she’ll get huffy and sarcastic if we ask. I want to, but I still don’t know how to handle her. I feel like I drive her away when I bring up things she’s sensitive about, but when I let it slide I feel like a bad friend.

“No advice here,” Twilight said. “What do you think, Wallf...”

She trailed off as they glanced behind, for Wallflower had vanished from her seat.

Applejack rejoined the others in the living room. Adagio closed the door and got to work, alone until a voice squeaked from behind.

“How’d it go?”

Adagio studied the mattress a half-second before responding. “Awful. Thanks for asking.”

She closed the one box she had opened, leaving the goods still hidden from sight. “Go tell the others that sirens have very good hearing.”

“They’re worried about you.”

That deflated what little bite Adagio had left. She turned to see Wallflower scratching her elbow and looking away.

“Sorry it didn’t go well,” Wallflower said meekly.

“And I’m...” Adagio heaved a deep sigh, casting her eyes skywards before bringing them back down. “I’m sorry I was a bitch this morning. And always. I’m always a bitch, and double that when I see Aria and Sonata in a magazine or...”

She grabbed for a prop, realizing in a rush that her bed was clean save for the new packages. “Where are my magazines?”

Wallflower pointed. “In the nightstand. And I put your underwear in the lower drawer.”

Adagio looked – sure enough, it was as Wallflower said. The debris on the nightstand was gone, too, and the clothes in her dresser were folded. No more dust-bunnies under the bed or gum stuck to her trashcan… everything on her side had been cleaned and organized.

Her mystified gaze fell to Wallflower, who blushed and shuffled in place. “I figured it wouldn’t end well, so… yeah.”

Adagio took a deep, willful sniff. Citrus-scented cleaning products had definitely been used, though behind it came the smell of three-day old Chow Mein. She eyed the mountain still protruding from Wallflower’s garbage can and smiled faintly.

The scene blurred. Adagio ran a hand along her eyes.

Wallflower shrugged, giggled, and went in for a hug. Her musty odor mingled with the citrus and trash, and dust from her sweater scratched Adagio’s arms. The siren hugged back, pulling Wallflower into her shoulder.

...And stared outwards with a vague, twisting frown.

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