• Published 25th Aug 2018
  • 2,048 Views, 191 Comments

A Magic Turn of Events - Comma Typer



The world of Canterlot High has changed drastically, everyone having turned into ponies or other magical Equestrian creatures. In the aftermath lie these not-so-chronological tales of new fates, of trying to live here again.

  • ...
6
 191
 2,048

Arrive on the Mise-En-Scené

“I know you must’ve been busy with your uncle-niece bonding time today,” Twilight said as she, Dash, and Juniper Montage trotted by the Canterlot roads at night, “but have you heard what they just did an hour ago?”

“About opening up the portals for public use?” Juniper asked, smiling at such a momentous occasion being done.

The city of Canterlot was awash in lights this evening, showing that many had slowly recovered from the magic disaster. In a way, lights did mean some sort of the usual city activity: office lights showed ponies hard at work at their cubicles and desks, store lights displayed winged creatures easily perusing the products on the top shelves, and park lights cast long shadows over changelings performing a stage play.

There was a pool of overly-competent actors available for hiring and signing, that’s for sure.

Under the whooshes of pegasi like her flying above the sky, Dash smiled, too. “Yeah. I’m not so used to the idea of portals being so normal like cars, but...eh, I’ve read enough Daring Do to get used to it anyway.”

Twilight chuckled at that. “You mean being able to fly, experiencing magic, going to Equestria, and becoming a pony didn’t help you get used to portals?”

The three mares shared a laugh at that, even Dash with her participating in a sip of self-depreciation.

Honk!

And their laughter turned to screaming at the car’s noise.

They turned to the source of the nuisance and saw a pink car. Inside was Pinkie at the driver’s seat, waving at them while she somehow operated the steering wheel with her hooves before accelerating out of sight at the next turn.

That left them silent for a while.

Then, they continued trotting through the city as if that didn’t happen, Dash shrugging off Pinkie’s inexplicable weirdness.

“So, are you planning any trips to Equestria?” Twilight asked the movie buff. “I mean, we’ve been there, but that’s a complicated thing to talk about, really, and—”

“Of course!” Juniper yelled, surprising the studious pony and almost causing her to drop her glasses.

Twilight saved them with a glow of her horn, though, and floated them back to her face.

Dash nudged Juniper on the back of her head. “Huh! It’s like you’ve been waiting for that to happen all along!.”

Juniper grinned in half embarrassment, half anxiety. “Not really, but...I’ve heard Equestria has lots of sprawling landscapes, all kinds of new people, um, creatures...who’re also people—and it’d be nice to do a short film there and hang out with everypony there!”

“Earth has sprawling landscapes,” Twilight countered, miffed about how Juniper was brushing off miles and miles of local landscapes just like that.

“Yeah,” Juniper conceded, but she leaned her head in closer and said, “though they’re not magical landscapes!”

“Ugh.”

They laughed at that, too, as they continued their little journey through Canterlot. It finally ended in a bookstore in which the owner had gotten clearance to sell books from Equestria.

So, they got the whole collection of Daring Do books from both A.K. Yearlings. It was a fun sleepover for the three rabid fans at Twilight’s.


Getting clearance to go through the portal wasn’t too easy, though. It might’ve not been as nerve-wracking as going through airport security with all its well-meaning hurdles and barriers, but Juniper still had to sign a waiver and be at the portal on time lest she forfeit her opportunity to cross dimensions.

By that time, the vortex in front of CHS had been contained and concentrated into a manageable framed portal the size of the old horse statue, housed inside a small but tall two-floor station. There’d been talks to relocate the portal elsewhere because it then looked like the school had a random huge building out of nowhere.

So, they did.

Now, the portal stood by the bridge entrance to Canterlot, decorating the landscape with its lavish presence and the sign by it that simply said, Portal to Equestria Right Here. Soothed by the rush of the river nearby, several pony guards were posted at the station, all wearing thick armor and armed with spears that had their tips constantly glowing with magic.

In the small crowd before the station (but not too large to spill over to the road), Juniper gulped and tightened her grip on her saddle bag. There, inside that tiny building and across the portal, would be a whole other dimension where all the magic happened and had happened from time immemorial. It gave her the feeling of visiting ancestral lands: magic was everywhere here, but Equestria was where it came from, after all.

Other creatures waited around in the crowd, causing cacophonous stirring as excited talk and chatter filled the air.

It didn’t help that, on the side, a little tunnel labeled Arrival ushered, well, arrivals from the other side to this world. Most of them were through-and-through Equestrians, amazed at how utterly different and at how utterly similar Earth was to their home dimension. Curious eyes looked their way, with some yearning to ask what’d they think of the experience here.

Although the experience was not even ten seconds long, so no answer would be sufficient for that request just yet.

“Juniper Montage?” a deep and booming voice called out.

The pony in question stretched the limits of her face by smiling really big as she trotted right in front of the station. There, she met the guard standing in front of the door, the one who’d called her out.

He scrutinized the mare’s face, squinting his eyes to see if this Juniper was really who she claimed to be. The guard then silently gestured at his unicorn buddy in arms to levitate the mare’s saddle bags, rummaging through the items there to see if there was anything suspicious.

“We got your waiver,” said the first guard. “All we need to know is if you don’t have any dangerous objects in your possession.”

That made Juniper all the more nervous, making her bite her lips as she watched her bag being inspected and investigated by a serious-looking unicorn clad in no-nonsense armor. She didn’t read the list of forbidden items twice or thrice even though it wasn’t that long. No weapons, no explosives, no radioactive material, and that was it.

Then, a camera was lifted out, coupled with some microphones. The unicorn raised his brow at her. “Explain yourself, ma’am.”

“Ah!” and Juniper bit her lip again, stopping her teeth from nervously clattering. “I-I’m gonna record footage in Equestria! I film stuff, and I like to act, too, and—”

That second guard rolled her eyes, returning the camera to the bag and closing all zippers and pockets there. “OK, we get it. Just make sure you don’t record any sensitive information with that, especially if it’s imbued with magical properties. Who knows if it might unleash some monster trapped in a can for a thousand years?”

Juniper nodded, unfazed by the concern that her camera might deliver destruction to both worlds. It sounded like a funny thing to think of. Nothing could possibly go wrong with a camera and some microphones, right?

Could, but it wouldn’t.

The guards mellowed to a smile as they opened the door to the station. “Move fast so you won’t slow anyone behind you down...and have a wonderful time in Equestria, ma’am.”

This final obstacle struck down, Juniper gave them a good farewell and entered the portal station.

Door was closed shut behind her.

She didn’t notice that, though.

What she noticed, with her full attention given to it, was a big glowing portal. All the room’s light came from it, creating a bleak atmosphere of contrast in this place: the bright white light against the fleeing darkness. It certainly turned the portal into something much more mystical, mysterious, and magical than before.

The threshold to another world, to another dimension, lay before her hooves. Just twenty steps and she’d be in that other dimension, that other world, that other land full of that magic wonder that’d existed long before it spilled over to Earth. Having seven magical amulets and some sparks of stray magic drift around was nothing compared to this.

She felt her heart pumping.

No backing out now.

Juniper trotted through.


Kept trotting with her eyes closed and—

Yah!”

Fell to the ground with a resounding thud! Felt the rough patch of grass and dirt on her snout, and so she spat it out, hating the taste of dirt but still surprised at the savoriness of fresh and crisp grass.

“Oh, howdy there!”

Still didn’t see anything, but she heard that all-too-familiar twangy voice. “Wha—”

Felt something grasp her hoof, felt it trying to pull her up.

Argh! Come on, missy! Ya’ gotta get up, now.”

Heeding such a call, Juniper got on her four hooves, relying just as much on the other pony’s strength as she did on her own. Then, rubbing her eyes, vision clearing up though not fully: “Wha...who...A-Applejack?”

She’d turned to her right and had seen Applejack there, complete with her trusty hat along with her ponytailed mane and ponytailed pony tail.

“Not the Applejack you know of!” the farmpony exclaimed as she picked up Juniper’s glasses.

She put her spectacles on her face, having gotten over using them with her hooves some time ago already. What she did next was beam at Applejack. “Wow! Th-thank you...I—”

And was distracted by the world around her.

She looked away from Applejack to take in the view.

Away from the scrambling haste of city life back in the Canterlot she knew, Juniper beheld the rolling rural hills adorned with lush green, the breathtaking clear skies expertly controlled by cloud-moving pegasi, the faraway mountain city of Canterlot looming in the distance, the railroad winding down to the quaint and dainty village of Ponyville with its old-style thatched cottages, the towering Castle of Friendship and the School of Friendship straddling by the town’s limits, that pristine river that flowed across town from the waterfall over there….

That was just her surroundings. She observed the ponies trotting around in town. Excepting those who’d stopped to glance at her—their new arrival in this dimension—they’d moved around at a peaceful, slower paced than did the inhabitants of the city. It could be pinned down to how everything felt dated here: the old-style cottages, the old-style roads, the old-style architecture and appearance in general; not an electric pole in sight nor a cell tower—not even a phone or a computer or an airplane, too.

To her, ponies here were just slower. Taking their time or just being sluggish with the times, though?

Juniper turned around to see the portal station on this side of things. Set somewhere close to the center of town, it was exactly the same as the one on Earth, with the sign saying Portal to Earth Right Here instead. Guards were posted there, too, as a little crowd of tourists looked at this Montage pony, wondering who this might be and what her purpose was in visiting their world.

She looked away from them to save herself from a dose of humiliation and beheld the view in front of her once again. Banishing the potentiality of stumbling her way to teasing in her first steps here, she found some solace, some peace and quiet in that view. All she could say was: “W-Wow! And...a-and—”

“Oh, you forgot this, too,” Applejack said before picking up her saddle bag by the mouth.

“Ah! Right. Sorry!” and Juniper took it with her mouth before slinging it around her torso, feeling the weight of her camera and other filming equipment inside.

“That’s just mighty fine!” Applejack blurted out, shaking her hoof. Then, cracking her own neck and then tipping her hat, “I was supposed to tell ya’ earlier that I’m your guide.”

Juniper shook her head. Now she was getting a freebie, too? “Wha…? But, I didn’t ask—”

“No need to ask,” Applejack interrupted, holding up a hoof and cutting her off. “Your Twilight told us how excited you were about comin’ here.” Let out a laugh that sounded a bit like a scoff to the side. “I mean, sure, it’s nice, but since both our worlds are magic ones with talkin’ horses an’ what not...I personally don’t get why some ponies visit us—” then, back-tracking with a snap back to a smile before she could shame Juniper for her actions, “—but, that’s OK, Miss Montage! I’ll be as hospitable as I could be...show you the sights an’ stuff!”

Juniper’s hooves rattled about on the ground, expressing pure joy that way. Although anything could happen to mess this trip up, she decided not to worry about it. In worry’s place was a breath of fresh air, and a hoof shooting across the air. “Alright! Let’s get to it!”

Applejack nodded, already trotting off on the path.

Juniper followed, giddy over with her camera there. Here was a picturesque world to explore, its beauty ripe for recording—then, a thought crossed her mind: Why not make a fantasy movie here? With the prevalence of magic, supposedly unusual creatures, and deep locations of lore, Equestria was the perfect setting for such a movie.

She then laughed at herself for that bit of absurdity. Why film a fantasy movie when both worlds were pretty much fantasy movies—no, beyond fantasy movies?

Baby steps. A short and reticent five-minute documentary first, she thought.


Did the film pony ever think lugging a camera and its equipment around Ponyville was a cumbersome ordeal? She probably didn’t since she wasn’t exhausted with angling her camera with a hoof or setting it down on a tripod. With the camera’s red light on, it recorded a variety of serene scenes: trees bending in the wind, open blue skies untouched by clouds, and butterflies flitting over bushes.

Since Applejack was her tour guide, the first stop made a lot of sense: Sweet Apple Acres.

Applejack introduced her to the Apple family, which all looked familiar to Juniper although she had to remind herself they weren’t the same family from Earth. That didn’t make the resemblances any less uncanny.

Aside from the Apple ponies themselves, the vast farmscapes caught Juniper’s attention. More serene scenes to record with swaying apple trees and livestock running around without paying much mind to this strange pony with her strange contraptions. Her tour guide tried to let her in on some farm history and more information—definitely not opinion—about how apples were the best fruit ever, but Juniper was too busy with her mini-movie.

After a trot by the technical borders of Ponyville, the two reached their next stop: the Castle of Friendship. Juniper took a couple snapshots of that glittery jagged structure, amazed by its image: a castle resting on the laurels of a crystal tree, topped with a banner and a spire that displayed the cutie mark of the Princess of Friendship herself.

The stark disparity between the Twilight Sparkle she knew and Equestria’s Twilight Sparkle came to mind once again. This royal of the land lived here in this splendid castle, doing whatever Princess of Friendship stuff she was doing in there. Juniper kept telling herself that she wasn’t that formal, but the pompous castle kept telling her otherwise; besides, she didn’t particularly like the idea of knocking those humongous doors just to strike up a chat with this Twilight.

To the right was the School of Friendship, boasting to the castle that, what it lacked in size, it made up for in style. “I teach there some o’ the time,” Applejack added with a nudge on Juniper’s shoulder, hoping to get this pony out of her camera funk.

Over there, hanging out by one of the school’s ponds, was a large group of twelve creatures that looked like clones of each other. Enjoying the sound of a rushing waterfall were the Student Six, as they’d become known around these parts, along with their other selves back on Earth. They were busy playing an expanded edition of the board game One Pony Business, and the excitement of having twelve players on this large board was getting to their heads. It didn’t matter if they had their counterparts right across the irregular circle or even beside themselves; there was no awkwardness to it today:

Earth’s Sandbar was learning about Griffonstone culture from Equestria’s Gallus, Earth’s Gallus was arguing with Equestria’s Ocellus about how unfair the game’s rules were, and Earth’s Ocellus was busy making a trade of properties with Equestria’s Yona who then asked Earth’s Smolder if’s actually a good move...and, to that, she deferred the question to the other Smolder who just shook her head and said, “Don’t know, don’t care.”

Silverstream did scream when she got those extravagant dark blue properties, but Juniper couldn’t tell which Silverstream was which.

An eyeroll from Applejack later, Juniper was guided back into Ponyville proper again.

The tour went on as expected, with Applejack talking up a blurb about each landmark while Juniper engaged herself in the art of cinema.

They visited town hall with the mayor too occupied to entertain their presence, going overtime with her stacks of papers for inter-world relations in Ponyville.

Sugarcube Corner had Pinkie Pie working up a batch of fragrant cakepies for a “special delivery for this special pony who’s especially coming here with an especial purpose!” Applejack couldn’t argue with that since Pinkie was Pinkie, so their time there was short-lived.

The marketplace was brimming with stalls and tons of ponies trotting by, carrying all sorts of bags to do their daily groceries. Juniper saw Rose—a different Rose, to be sure—hawking flowers with Lily Valley and Daisy, though they were a bit appalled at seeing Juniper herself, as if they just knew she wasn’t from this world. The latter did her best to ignore that thought, but it still lingered in her head.

So, they went on: Rich’s Barnyard Bargains, Carousel Boutique, Ponyville Day Spa, Ponyville Hospital, even the local party store.

There were times when Juniper wasn’t listening to Applejack ramble on about the history of Ponyville and how her family helped build it up, and it wasn’t because she believed the apple pony had too much braggadocio. In fact, Juniper was quite busy with recording this and that, even taking videos of seemingly random items like balloons and checkerboard floors.

So far, Applejack didn’t seem to mind, at least on the face of things. At the party store, she mumbled to herself, “If you’re enjoyin’ yourself here, I ain’t complainin’.”

Applejack did her best to not complain, too. It was hard not to complain, however, when her guest didn’t so much as even pretend to know she was there.

Thus went the rest of the tour.


Juniper had grander ambitions than Ponyville, though.

Once the tour had run its course and Juniper had gotten used to this new world, she told Applejack that she wanted to go to Canterlot and pay that a visit.

“Ya’ sure about that?” she asked, putting on an uneasy frown. “Canterlot’s full of sophisticated ponies. Sure, they’re accommodatin’ and they’ll be kind to you, but they ain’t used yet to...um,” gulped, “new ponies like you.”

“I’ll be OK,” Juniper replied, brushing her mane off with her hoof. “I can handle myself from here on out.”

With Applejack’s rather hesitant approval, they walked to the train station. There, the two ponies parted ways and exchanged farewells, Applejack saying that she would go and bake some apple pies for the weekend dinner.

As for Juniper: she observed her surroundings.

She had gone to a few countryside villages before in her life, but, from what she saw so far, Equestria was a world still wide open for exploration and numerous possibilities. It was true that there were wide open spaces and fields back on Earth, but one glance at a map of this world, and everything seemed a whole lot more enormous. They hadn’t even mapped the entire world yet! Juniper had been unsettled by enormous swathes of territory left undiscovered, but she brushed it off as the cost of having a magic world—maybe not enough research on satellites.

Her mind then strayed back to why she was here. She wanted to go to Canterlot, the capital of the pony nation. Filming there would be fun, and she’d heard there were plenty of luscious parks out in Canterlot, and who would decline the chance to video the breathtaking views of a city hanging on a mountain?

Then, she heard the whistle of an incoming train.

Looked to the left, and there it was: that approaching steam train with its puffs of smoke coming out of its chimney. She’d never seen one save for the fake ones they had on set for that one movie where a wizard boy went to a wizard school...or was it the one where four teenagers had gone through a cabinet to save a kingdom?

Anyway, here it came, slowing down to a halt, giving Juniper time to appreciate this vintage beauty of bygone transportation.

It stopped.

The doors opened, and various ponies and other creatures came out, exiting in droves.

Juniper trotted in, trying not to bump into anyone, trying to blend in with the environment, trying to act as normal as she could, trying not to give off the feeling that she’d only been a pony for a few months.

She failed since too many eyes were on her. She overheard whispers of “the other one”, all with mysterious or scared glances at her.

Juniper’s ears flayed as the doors closed, the pony herself rushing to a seat. Without looking, she sat beside a random pony and wiped the sweat off of her face.

“Next stop, Canterlot!” yelled the conductor.

The whistle blew, and the train slowly chugged its way back to speed, the jangling of rails diminishing into an imperceptible hum.

“Phew!” and Juniper wiped her face again. Then, in order so that she’d not come off as any more weird, she tried to be friendly by offering a hoofshake to the stranger on her left. In a cheery tone: “Um, hi! I’m Juniper Montage!”

The other pony, however, looked just like her. Had the same coat color, the same glasses, the same cutie mark of a juniper leaf, and when she turned to look at Juniper—

Aaaahhh!” screamed the both of them as they pointed at each other, proving that they also had the same voice.

With these unpleasant pleasantries done and said, the two ponies stared at each other in shock as, meanwhile, the scenery and the sky slowly turned orange, signaling the imminent sunset.

All Juniper could stammer out was, “I-I-I-I—”

“Um,” and the other pony, with a shaky hoof, said, “a-Are you...wh-who I think you are?”

Juniper nodded, dread forcing her to giggle nervously to let out the rising panic. “Y-Yes...the n-name’s J-Juniper Montage...a-at your service? Wait, no!” and smacked her forehead, berating herself that way. “Wh-What was I supposed to say to myself, and—” began hyperventilating, inhaling and exhaling at full tilt.

The other Juniper placed a hoof to her own chest, slightly less nervous than her and somewhat irked by her other self’s behavior. “Y-Yeah, I’m a-also terrified at yourself—ah, myself…?” Now offering her a hoofshake, “I-I’m also Juniper Montage.”

Closed her eyes, fixed her glasses, not minding the train bumping a rocky bit along the way.

“Let me guess. Are you the—”

“—niece to famous movie director Canter Zoom?” yelled Juniper in sudden fascination with herself...or her?

Montage nodded, glad to cool down from that supremely awkward moment. “Well, my uncle is kind of a movie director, but he isn’t exactly famous. He operates way over West in Applewood.”

She scratched her head, bringing to Juniper’s attention that their manestyles were different. This one had her mane all curled and tied up in a bun against Juniper’s twin bunches.

“You know,” Montage went on, “movies aren’t exactly hot here in Equestria, at least not the high-definition ones I’m sure you’re used to. You only see them in the western metros and Manehattan on the opposite side of the kingdom.” Paused to organize her thoughts. “The average city in Equestria is stuck with reels and stocks, while I heard you have digital cameras...like, you can store those videos in tiny cards. ”

Juniper nodded, giving her Equestrian self first-hoof confirmation of the technology. Still, that got Juniper wondering: In a world where film was still a budding innovation, what exactly was Montage’s passion? How different was it from her own?

So, Juniper decided to break the ice on that front: “Um, about videos and cameras and movies...is your life story about all that?”, ending with a very big and very strained grin that tested her cheek muscles.

Montage giggled, raising a hoof to her face like a prim and proper mare. “I’ve never had me ask myself about my own background.” Her smile gave way to a frown of absolute confusion, looking down at the floor and the aisle. “Wow. That’s beyond weird.”

Juniper leaned closer to her, wearing a smug smile just to rub the weirdness in her face. “I know, right?”

The once-confused pony shrugged her off in jest, preferring to look out the window over baffling herself in two-universe contemplation.

Out there rested a sunset-tinted vista, with the hills and mountains and plains and rivers all under that light filter of orange. A pegasus or two could be espied in the sky, traveling to Canterlot and perhaps deeming the train too slow for their liking.

“Grew up in Applewood, actually,” Montage blabbed out of the blue, bringing the conversation back on the life story strack, and making Juniper look back at her. “Even before I got my cutie mark,” pointing at the juniper leaf cutie mark there, “I’ve always had the desire to make timeless movies and plays set in forests, jungles—as long as it was a green and tranquil place to be.” Pulled her head back, letting it recline on the seat’s soft headrest. “You know, because juniper’s an evergreen, right?”

Juniper chuckled at that thought, now thinking about her own name. “Yeah. Partially named after a tree.”

“You and I both,” Montage said, rubbing her hooves as the train got a tad colder. “And, since I like evergreen stuff, I’ve never liked dead trees, autumn plants, things like that. Actually,” rubbed her hooves again for some warmth, “I never liked winter...like, at all. We rarely got snow in hot Applewood anyway.” She then stuck out a tongue with a bleh! “Snow’s too cold for my taste!”

Juniper arched a brow, intrigued by yet another similarity across dimensions. “Me, too, really. I don’t like winter, too. When it does snow in Canterlot, I just stay indoors and turn the heater all the way up to eleven.”

The both of them shared some laughter on that one, imagining the ludicrous picture of Juniper holed up in her home, covered in a dozen sweaters by both the heater and the fireplace, surrounded by a myriad of green juniper trees indoors.

Then, Juniper and Montage looked out the window once again, settling their minds in reality and away from ridiculous hypothetical exaggerations like that.

Not much changed outside. The sun was a bit lower, a bit more orange or a bit more red. The lone pegasi were gone now. A few clouds had inched in while they werne’t looking, but that was all in this slow-moving view.

“What about you?” Montage then said, turning to face Juniper. “How did you grow up and, um, like movies?”

The pronouns were starting to stand out like a sore thumb—no, a sore hoof to Juniper. You, me, myself, yourself. She knew she and Montage were completely different personalities, completely individual individuals, but the fact that they were, in too many ways, the same pony was freaking her out internally.

Still, she acquiesced and satisfied Montage’s fancy after a cough: “So...I grew up in Knacker City, some no-name town so it doesn’t matter where it was. By then, Uncle was a rising star in the industry. Also,” taking care to raise her hoof in the air, “my mother did some acting on the side while my Dad did costume design for sci-fis back in the day. I...I guess it was destiny I’d be so into movies.”

She scratched her head, unsure if she’d done it before. She mentally blamed it on seeing her other self do it. Then, Juniper continued: “We decided to move to Canterlot when I was seven, so we could keep in touch with Uncle.” Smiling wide, “I did lots of things around in the sets—perks of being a gofer!” and closed her eyes in that smile, remembering the times she ran around to deliver snacks, coffee, papers, and other things actors and staff needed...and then, that’s when the memory of a peculiar incident involving a Daring Do film and missing props cropped up.

Montage cocked her head, seeing the growing glumness on her counterpart’s face. “What’s wrong? Was it something I said?”, despite having not said anything for the past forty seconds or so.

Resigning herself to relate that fateful day, Juniper slumped her shoulders. The undetectable jittering of the train, she could sense in that thick silence between her and herself.

Then, with one long sigh, she asked:

“Have you sabotaged a movie, framed a famous actress, gotten shown up by some guests, forced to work as a popcorn girl at the cinema, had your mirror get cursed by magic, and gotten crazy with so much magic power that you rampaged through the mall and thought everyone cheered you for the movie star you thought you were?”

Montage simply blinked, her face blank at first. “That’s...a lot to take in. And...n-no, I d-don’t think so.” Slowly nodding, “I do want to be a movie star someday, though...but, ow, what happened there?”

Juniper sighed, rubbing her seat as her lips trembled to retell the tale. “Well, that happened.” It was hard to continue, but she’d already broached the subject. “I grew so envious of that Chestnut Magnifico...and then Sunset and her friends saved the movie from me...and, during the premiere at the mall—th-that’s when I...I turned into a monster,” and looked at her hooves in self-contemplation. She didn’t want to give this thought a moment, but the deed had been done.

The train rolled on, now busy climbing up the steep slope to Canterlot. What’d come ahead was a few bridges, some tunnels, and the home stretch to that famed and fashionable city.

Painful silence rolled on, too. While Juniper tried to engross her mind with the good that had come after that terrible event at the mall, Montage rubbed her cheeks uncertainly.

She hadn’t particularly been a bad pony per se. She’d been a rebellious teenager with attitude, sure, but she’d never gone power mad and endangered the lives of dozen. That’s why it rubbed her the wrong way, this turning into a monster and all the business that came with such a predicament.

Montage, however, found it disturbing that Juniper wasn’t too bothered by it. What should’ve been a tearful grimace was instead a plaintive smile, one that was forged out of that past suffering and reparation.

Juniper made another sigh and cast her eyes upon the passing outside once more, seeing that they were getting higher, farther away from flat ground level down below.

“I wasn’t really mad at them all...OK, I was, but there was a why. The magic apparently corrupted my mind, so I went overboard some of the time...but,” closed and squeezed her eyes shut before speaking out, “I wanted to be a movie star, and I thought they just took the dream away from me!”

She loosened her forelegs and let her hooves truly rest on the seat. Laid her head back on the seat, gazing at the ceiling with the lights surely about to turn on. The day was nearing its end, and everything was gradually becoming darker. The sunset’s orange tint intensified, reaching into their carriage.

“And to think I trapped them in that mirror forever...all because they did what was right and exposed me.” Rested a hoof on her head, as calming plans to hang out with her ex-hostages vaguely formed in that resting head. “Maybe...maybe I’ll try that club Rainbow Dash has on Fridays.”

Montage smiled at the idea, but then wore a pensive look. A bead of sweat pouring down her forehead, “Well, I...um...uh—”

Juniper arched a brow. “What’s wrong? Was it something I said?”, though hearing the same words come from her own mouth made for an outlandish episode.

Scratching her neck, Montage gulped. “So...they forgave you, right?”

Juniper nodded, not sure where this was going. “Uh-huh.”

“And you’re friends with them, right?”, pointing at her other self.

“Uh-huh...well, some more than others.” Counting them off on her hoof despite the lack of digits, “Twilight and Rainbow Dash are huge Daring Do fans, so I fan with them a lot, and Rarity has some surprising insight on what looks good for certain movie characters...but, Applejack’s—”

“Uh, I mean—” and she whimpered, glancing away to recollect what to say next. Turning back: “You wanna know why I brought that up? I mean, your friends?”

Juniper blinked, becoming apprehensive about where this conversational thread might end up. “Why?”

Montage’s teeth clattered, tempted to bite her hoofnails. With one more gulp: “I-I’m shy. Very shy with other ponies unless it’s another film buff like me.”

Juniper was merely surprised at this revelation. “Oh? You don’t sound shy to me. Then again, I’m not exactly an extrovert, either.”

“Yeah—” quietly laughing nervously “—but, that’s because you’re...me but not me.”

Although that was fun to know, this was getting too odd to not call out. “Alright, you don’t have to mince words with me...uh, me. What do you want to say?”

Montage’s smile wobbled. Here was her opportunity, and she took it to say: “I…I was wondering if we could...oh, wow, this will be weird….”

“What?”

Cleared her throat, coughed whatever imaginary obstructions were stuck in that throat. Finally, she said, “If...I-I was wondering if we could be...friends?”

If they could be friends.

Juniper’s eye twitched at the possibility.

As the train rolled on, having finished its climb.


Back on Earth, Dash’s Official Daring Do Fan Club, so it was called, usually held meetings in the namesake’s house.

No, not Daring Do’s house since she’s certainly, definitely, and undeniably not a real pony.

Situated near the border of the city of Canterlot was Dash’s house.

Her parents had been very supportive of her ever in this adventurous endeavor ever since she was introduced to the series by Twilight. Their support persisted through bad hair days, extreme enthusiasm expressed through screaming, and the fact that their daughter was now a magic pegasus—and that they, too, were magic pegasi.

This Friday, Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistle whipped up quite a feast for what was supposedly a hoofful of snacks: biscuits and crackers topped with mushroom lasagna and stuffed potatoes, all steaming hot with the tangy smell of tomato sauce wafting through the house.

Dash and Twilight waited at the dining table, giddy with not just books but also the DVDs of the Daring Do movie, the merch in the form of plushies and hats and shirts and flags, and notebooks—especially for Twilight. Where could she store all her ideas and outlines for her Daring Do fan fiction, after all?

“Any moment now,” Rainbow said, tapping the table with her hooves and making an impromptu beat with it. Using a wing to hold her fork, “But...how are we going to tell the difference between the two?”

“We call ours Juniper, and the other Montage,” Twilight replied in a perky voice, unable to hold her excess enthusiasm. “Got it?”

“Uh...what else again?” Dash said, giving up with a twirl of her hoof and a close of her wings. Almost dropped the fork, but picked it up with her mouth.

“The mane,” Twilight said, pointing at her own bunned mane and bringing to mind the other Twilight’s straight one. “It’s always the mane, Rainbow.”

Vbrt! Vbrt!, as the alarming door bell rang through the whole house.

“It’s open!” Dash yelled, barely holding her own excess enthusiasm, too, as her tapping hooves became a rapid drumroll so fierce, only Twilight’s magic kept the food from falling into pieces.

The door opened, and, over there against the night, were Juniper and Montage, grinning widely and carrying bags of Daring Do books and wearing the merch.

“We’re ready!” Juniper yelled, holding up her first edition copy of Daring Do and the Sapphire Stone.

“And is that mushroom I smell?” Montage remarked, sniffing the delicious permeating scent.

Twilight clasped her forehooves and hoped her look would convince them to come in immediately.

“OK!” Rainbow shouted, beckoning them in with her hoof. “The first native Equestrian in our club! Come on in!”

So, both visitors came inside.

Before the door even closed, all four fans couldn’t help but jump around at having such a full club for this session. They were surely going to have a great time geeking out over Daring Do together.