• Published 24th Jan 2019
  • 6,148 Views, 76 Comments

Kindling - Lab Matt

While Anon-a-Miss tries to ruin her life, Sunset Shimmer meets Adagio Dazzle in a bar.

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Words Often Have More Than One Meaning

Leaning against the bridge rail, Sunset Shimmer’s gaze switched from the phone on her hand to the rushing water below and back at her phone without a steady pattern; sometimes she would stare at the dark water for a full minute and look up at her phone for a fraction of a second, other times she would stare at her lock screen with her finger over the unlock button for what felt like an eternity before looking down for a couple of seconds. She eventually stuffed the smartphone back in her jacket pocket. Using her arms as cushions, she rested her head on the rail and closed her eyes.

“I know seasonal depression is more common than most people care to admit, but you just look awful.”

The voice startled Sunset, causing her to quickly open her eyes, raise her head and look for its source; it was a familiar voice, one she hadn’t heard in a while and honestly didn’t expect to hear ever again after the Battle of the Bands incident. She located the girl standing a couple of feet to her left.


“The very same.” The orange-haired siren said, curtsying while holding the edges of the dark blue apron she was wearing – while she still kept the same hairstyle from when Sunset Shimmer last saw her, her wardrobe had received a drastic change; gone were the purples and pinks that gave her a “diva” vibe, which had been replaced by the aforementioned apron, a white shirt, a black pencil skirt, pantyhose, black kitten heel shoes and a red tie.

“What are you doing here?”

“I work here. Well, there, technically.” She pointed her thumb at a building behind her, a restaurant that, by the looks of it, wouldn’t even allow you past the front door if your attire wasn’t worth the monthly income of an entire middle-class family.

“That fancy place?”

“Hm?” Adagio turned around, her confused look turning into a smile. “Oh no, not that one, I mean that one!”

This time, instead of pointing at the general direction of her workplace, she was more specific with her directions and pointed at a side door in the alley next to the restaurant; there was a neon sign above it that read “Ace of Fours”.

“I stepped outside for a break and I saw you standing out here alone in the cold, looking like you were deciding on whether or not you were going to jump, so I came over.”

“Why, so you could push me?”

Adagio did an overly-exaggerated gasp as she placed her hand on her chest. “I know we had our differences in the past, but I would never commit something as horrid as second-degree murder! And frankly, I am insulted by the insinuation.”

“Then why are you here?”

“You look like someone who needs a drink.”

“I’m underage.”

“In here, maybe. How about in Equestria, though, how old were you there?”

Sunset Shimmer was taken aback by the question. “H-How did you--”

“On this day and age people are documenting every waking moment of their lives, their phone cameras a mere swipe away, and I came across some strange photos while I was digging up dirt on you on MyStable – all I had to do was connect the dots! Or did you think nobody took pictures or filmed you turning into a succubus? I know Equestrian magic when I see it.”

She visibly flinched at the mention of the accursed website.

“You still haven’t answered, by the way.” Adagio had noticed her flinching, but chose not to call attention it.


“See? Now you’re not underage anymore.” She hooked her arm around Sunset’s and dragged her along. “Come on in.”

“I-I don’t have any money.”

“Don’t worry, it’s on me! I wouldn’t dare make you pay for something you so desperately need.”

Adagio led Sunset inside the Ace of Fours, which turned out to be a dimly lit bar with a few patron keeping to themselves and a man in an uniform similar to Adagio’s washing glasses who nodded at them as they walked in. After guiding the unicorn to a surprisingly comfortable stool, the siren moved to the other side of the counter.

“You’re not going to ask what I want?”

“This isn’t about what you want, it’s about what you need!” She placed a glass in front of Sunset, which contained an orange-colored drink. “Besides, I’m paying; that means you’ll have what I say you’ll have.”

Sunset Shimmer picked up the drink, taking a sip after inspecting the glass for ten solid seconds. She immediately began to cough.

“Don’t be an idiot, this isn’t wine!” Adagio scolded. “You’re supposed to drink it all, not savor it. Now bottoms up!”

She tried again, this time drinking the whole thing without stopping.

“Ugh, that’s… Not that bad, actually.”

“I thought you would. Funnily enough, the name of that drink is ‘Sunrise’.” Adagio rested her elbows on the counter, looking at her companion. “So, care to explain why you’re spending the week before winter break risking frostbite on snow-covered bridges and not with those friends of yours?”

“Can I have another?”

Adagio huffed as she poured another drink. “This is the last one. If you want a third, you’ll have to pay for it yourself.”

This time she drank without even bothering to look for suspicious substances in the glass like she did the first one. As she caressed the rim of the glass with her index finger, she pulled her cellphone out of her pocket, unlocked the screen without looking at it and handed it to the bartender woman.

“Oh my…” Adagio muttered as she scrolled through the text messages, her playful demeanor morphing into genuine concern before she returned the phone to its owner. “That’s a rather… Colorful vocabulary they are using to describe you. What happened?”

Sunset took a deep breath as she pushed the empty glass to the side before also resting her elbows on the counter, mimicking Adagio’s pose. “Someone made this account on MyStable called ‘Anon-a-Miss’ and started posting secrets of everyone in CHS, and everyone is convinced that I’m the one behind it.”

“Well, is it you?”


“Chill out, bonfire head, I just wanted to hear you say it. I believe you!”

“Why are you doing this?!”

“Because you don’t strike me as the type--”

“No, why are you being nice to me?! After the--” She looked around, noticing that all the other patrons were looking in their direction. She sighed and lowered her voice. “After the Battle of the Bands, I thought you hated me and would make my life hell the moment we crossed paths again. Instead you just… You’re giving me free drinks, asking about my problems and acting like you care. What is going on here? What game are you playing?”

“I’m a bartender, listening to people’s problems is kind of what I do.”

“But why me? I ruined your life, took away your power, stopped your evil plans, but you haven’t raised your voice, called me names, slapped me or anything like that!” She looked down at the squeaky clean counter. “I-I’m sorry, I… After recent events, when people treat me nicely I already expect it to be a cover for something nasty they’re planning.”

Adagio patted the girl on the shoulder. “Well, if it makes you feel better, for the first few weeks after the Battle of the Bands, all I ever wanted was to pull your intestines out of your belly button and use them to hang you while you’re still alive.”

“It doesn’t, actually.”

“Every waking moment was spent planning on how to get back at you! It got to the point when I would dream about you every night. It became an obsession!”

The implication made Sunset blush. “Wh-What are you saying?”

“What I’m saying is, the more I thought about you, the more things made sense. We were just following our nature – provoking strong emotions to feed off of them is what sirens do, but at the same time you were following your own nature as well; you are a hero, Sunset Shimmer, and stopping the big bad is what a hero does.

“So I just let it go; no point in dwelling on the past, what’s done is done, there is no going back and all that jazz. So I just forgot about Canterlot High, forgot about the Battle of the Bands and forgot about you. Sure, life sucks without magic, but I have a place to live, got a job I don’t hate and now here I am. It’s not the most luxurious lifestyle, but I make do.”

“Oh, I… I see…” Something came to Sunset’s mind after looking around the bar. “You’re here by yourself, though. What about the other two? Do they work somewhere else?”

Now it was Adagio’s turn to visibly flinch. “H-How about another drink? You like this one, don’t you?”

“I told you, I don’t have any money.”

“Forget what I said earlier, third drink is on me as well!” Adagio hastily poured another Sunrise in the cup, almost spilling it all over the counter – Sunset was a little weirded out by the change in behavior, but she wasn’t about to turn down another free drink.

“I, um… I should go. It’s getting late and I don’t want you to spend your entire salary buying me drinks.”

“Sure! Please, come back again.” Adagio winked. “With your own money next time, though.”

“I’ll think about it.”

As she was about to walk out the door, Adagio called one last time:

“Hey, Sunset?”


“I mean it. If you need someone to talk to, or at least someone to listen to your problems, you know where to find me.”

Sunset smiled. “Sure thing.” She walked out the bar and closed the door behind her. With her hands in her pockets, the pony was crossing the bridge when she felt her phone vibrating. With a sigh of defeat, she pulled it out and stared at the new notification: yet another death threat featuring hurtful name-calling.

She was about to stuff the phone back in her pocket, but she paused for a moment; the quiet winter night made it easier for her to listen to the water rushing below, so she made a decision: Sunset Shimmer squeezed the phone in her hand, turned around and, with as much strength her average teen girl body could muster, she tossed the device away. After hearing a satisfying ‘splash’ she put her hands back in her now empty pocket and kept walking.

As the days passed, things only got worse; her locker had been vandalized and her things were stolen, highly offensive insults were scribbled on her desk and she got hit in the face with a soccer ball when walking past the field when the team was practicing. Nothing bothered her anymore because at that point, she had become a living robot: wake up, go to school, endure whatever undeserved punishment her classmates had prepared for her, go to work, go home, go to bed, repeat. Before she even realized, it was already Friday.

Sunset Shimmer lived in an extremely tiny house in the outskirts of town; it was nothing fancy, but the rent was cheap and having a roof over her head was better than not having a roof over her head. After that extremely stressful week, she didn’t even bother putting on pajamas, choosing to simply take off her jacket and jump in bed. That was the only moment of the day when she allowed herself to express emotion, because if she didn’t cry herself to sleep then she would end up staying up all night thinking about the things that were said and done to her, but that night the tears didn’t come; she simply stared at the moldy ceiling for what were most likely hours.

“Have I gotten used to it?” She thought to herself. “Is the bullying such an integral part of my daily life now that I just accept it without questioning it?”

Before she could think about the answer, the sound of a car engine got her attention; there were no other occupied houses nearby and she was a moderate distance away from the main road. She would have just ignored it, but her curiosity got the better of her when she heard arguing – she couldn’t hear what words were being said, but they were definitely not words of encouragement or idle chit-chat. She got up and saw three people standing next to a car, arguing amongst themselves.

“Probably teenagers doing a dare or something.” She concluded. “Not worth the trouble.”

Her conclusion changed immediately when one of them pointed at her house; the person wasn’t flailing their arms around while talking and just pointed in the general direction of her house, they were definitely pointing at the house itself.

She tried to look for distinguishable features, something that would give a hint as to who they were, but they were all wearing hoodies and covering their faces with bandanas.

“She’s in there.” One of them pointed at her once they noticed her spying from the window.

“Good!” Another one said while fiddling with something she couldn’t quite see what it was. He passed it to the third person, and she saw sparks; they were using a lighter to light something on fire.

“BURN IN HELL, SHE-DEMON!” The person shouted as they tossed the burning object towards the window.

Everything slowed down until time came to a halt. Everything began to fade away from her sight until the only things left in the empty void that was her vision were Sunset Shimmer herself and the glass bottle with a burning piece of cloth stuffed in its neck flying towards her.

Saturday morning, Sugarcube Corner. Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity and Fluttershy were all sitting at a single table in silence with Pinkie Pie standing next to them, wearing a waitress uniform. All of them were looking down at the cupcakes that had been ordered, but none of them feeling like eating anything. The silence was broken by the quietest of the five:

“A-Are we going to talk about--”

“No!” Rainbow Dash interrupted. “Just… No. Shut up and… Shut up and eat your cupcake.”

Fluttershy pushed the plate away. “I’m… Not hungry.”

Dash pushed the pastry away from her as well. “Ugh, neither am I.”

The bell above the entrance jingled as the front door opened and an angry-looking girl dressed in clothes that didn’t match the current weather marched in and holding a book that had definitely seen better days.

“Welcome to Sugarcube Corn--” Mrs. Cake, the owner of the establishment, began to speak but the girl walked past her without even acknowledging her. She slammed her open hand on the desk the girls were sitting at, startling all five of them.

“Twilight!” Rarity called.

“Where is she?” The newcomer asked between gritted teeth, doing her best not to shout indoors.

“What--” Applejack began, but was interrupted by the girl slamming the book on the desk; the cover looked rough, as if it had been salvaged from a collapsed building. Twilight opened the book, showing the few scorched pages that were left.

“This is the book I used to keep in touch with Sunset Shimmer. It is an enchanted book, so whatever happens to one also happens to the other; if you write something on a page in this book, the same writing will appear on the other book. If a page is torn out, the same page will fall off the other. So imagine my surprise when I wake up in the morning, eager to see if Sunset Shimmer had contacted me again, only to find a smoldering husk where the book used to be.

“I’m going to ask one more time, and it better be a straight answer. I don’t want to be asked questions back, no whats, whens, whos or wheres, just tell me where she is.”

The five girls looked at each other until Applejack spoke up.

“We… To be honest, we don’t know.”

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T KNOW?!” Twilight couldn’t hold her rage in anymore and finally yelled at the human counterpart of her closest friends. “I LEFT HER UNDER YOUR CARE! SHE WAS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY! AND ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY IS ‘WE DON’T KNOW’?!”

“Do you even know what she was doing?!” Rainbow Dash shot back. “She was spreading our secrets for everyone to see! She fooled you and betrayed all of us!”

“No, she didn’t!”

“After everything she did? She made our lives a living hell since the day she arrived. She stole your crown and tried to kills us with its power!”

“Yes, she did. But she’s not the same pony anymore. She changed!”

“Says who? She was probably faking it!”

“Ponies don’t ‘fake’ a change of heart. If we say we’re going to do better, we mean it. That may be how you humans operate, but we’re not like you. We believe in each other, we trust each other, we have each other’s back.” She took a deep breath to calm herself down. “So you don’t know where she is. Okay then. Do you at least know where she lives? Maybe she left a note or--”

“That… That won’t be possible either, darling.” Rarity explained. “There was a… A fire last night. In Sunset’s house.” Princess Twilight’s eyes widened. “O-Oh, but they d-didn’t find a body or anything. I-It must have happened while she wasn’t home. She must have left the stove on or--”

“It wasn’t an accident.” Pinkie Pie finally spoke. “Her house had no power for several days because she didn’t pay the bill and they found what looked like the remains of a molotov. Someone burned her house down.”

“What are you talking about, darling? They didn’t mention any of that in the news.”

“I’m friends with the chief of police.” She explained. “I deliver him donuts every Saturday morning. I asked if he knew anything about Sunset, so he told me.”

“Y-You... You think she may have been… Kidnapped?” Fluttershy suggested, causing all others to become apprehensive.

“The chief says it’s possible that someone burned the house down to cover their tracks.” Pinkie pulled out her phone. “I tried calling her, but…”

After dialing Sunset’s number, all she got was an automated message saying the number wasn’t available; that was the final straw for Twilight, who turned around and marched back towards the exit.

“Where yer goin’, Twi?” Applejack asked.

“I’ll go look for her, obviously!”

“How? If someone snatched her, they must be keepin’ her indoors. Are ya gonna check ev’ry single buildin’ in town? Assumin’ she’s still around, whoever took ‘er could’ve skipped town hours ago. Maybe she’s already--”

“SHUT UP!” Twilight shouted. “I know what you’re about to say, and I forbid you from saying it. I will go look for her and I don’t need your permission or your approval. If you want to help me, you’re welcome to tag along. If not, then good day to all of you!”

Princess Twilight Sparkle left Sugarcube Corner, leaving behind the burned journal. The five girls looked at the only legible words in the scorched page:

will believe that I’m not Anon-a-Miss…

former friends I guess.

anybody can spread hatred and chaos

how do you stop it?

stay strong. Remember who you are. And

The memory was not something a person could forget after a night of restless sleep: Adagio could still clearly remember the way Sunset Shimmer stumbled into the Ace of Fours, covered in bruises, a bleeding nostril and smelling of smoke. She passed out as soon as they made eye contact and with the help of her boss they carried her into one of the backrooms; her boss was in no way a doctor, but she knew enough first-aid to fix what needed fixing. After confirming that her injuries were not severe enough that she would need to be taken to the hospital, Adagio begged her boss to let her spend the night there by Sunset’s side. The woman left the room and came back not long afterwards with a sleeping bag for her and a blanket for the unconscious girl – her house was a few blocks down the street, so getting those was a simple task.

The next morning, unsurprisingly, Adagio woke up first; since they were in the backroom of a bar she didn’t have anything that could pass off as breakfast to offer Sunset when she woke up, so she grabbed her wallet and made a quick trip to a bakery not too far from her workplace she usually passed by on her way to and from work – on her way there she passed by a purple girl who looked oddly familiar; since the girl didn’t seem to notice or recognize her she decided to not think about the girl, instead choosing to check her phone as she walked towards her destination.

“Welcome to Sugarcube Corn--” The pink girl behind the cash register started to greet her when she walked in, but interrupted herself by gasping. “It’s you!”

“Uh, yeah, it’s me.” Adagio replied. “I’d like to order half a dozen of blueberry muff--”

“You’re one of those meanies from the Battle of the Bands!” She continued, completely ignoring the order – that got the attention of four other girls sitting around a nearby table.

“I’m sorry, have we met?” The siren asked; the girl looked familiar, but she couldn’t quite tell from where. She had mentioned the Battle of the Bands, so she was definitely from CHS, but…

“You’re the leader of the Dazzlings, aren’t you?” One of the four girls, the one with multicolored hair, approached and asked her. “What are you doing here?”

“Ordering half a dozen blueberry muffins.” She replied, turning her attention back to the cashier. “Or at least I was, until I was rudely interrupted. Can we hurry this along, I don’t have all morning.”

“You don’t get off that easy!” The rainbow-haired one said, grabbing Adagio by the collar and forcing her to look at her once again. “And don’t act like you don’t know who we are!”

“What are you talking abou--” Something clicked inside Adagio’s head. “Ohhhhh, I see it now. You’re the Rainbloomers or whatever, right? Wow! Please don’t be offended, but I completely forgot what you all looked like.”

Rainbow Dash clenched her fist. “You still have to pay back for what you did!”

She smirked. “What are you going to do? Assault me unprovoked in public? In a place of business with several eyewitnesses, no less? Then go right ahead, see who gets labeled as the villain when the police gets involved. And trust me, I’ll make sure they get involved! Hope you can afford a lawyer, Rainbloomers.”

“Let her go, Dash.” The country gal with the accent said, placing a hand on Rainbow Dash’s shoulder. “Ain’t worth it. She ain’t got powers no more, she’s already been punished.”

Rainbow Dash groaned in frustration and sighed as she let go of her shoulder. Adagio dusted the shoulder that had been grabbed. “Not punished enough, if you ask me.”

“If this is how clients get treated around here I’m surprised this place is still in business. Now, do I have to repeat my order yet again or should I take my money elsewhere?”

“Half a dozen blueberry blueberry muffins, coming right up.” Pinkie Pie repeated as the four girls.

“And add two cappuccinos to my order, if you please. All of it to go, eating here doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience.”

It didn’t take long for Pinkie to hand her a paper bag and two paper cups. After exchanging the goods for money, Adagio headed towards the front door before being approached by yet another member of the group.

“Um, excuse me, darling.”

Adagio sighed and turned around. “What? I said I don’t have all morning.”

“Y-Yes, I heard that.” The white-skinned girl said. “I just wanted to apologize for Rainbow Dash’s improper behavior. You see, things have been very stressful lately and we’re all on edge. I’m sure you haven’t been up to trouble lately, so her actions were uncalled for, we just crossed paths at a bad time. Please, don’t think less of her – or us, for that matter – because of this incident.”

Adagio raised an eyebrow. “What’s with the tone change? One moment it looks like I’m about to get literally kicked out of the place, now suddenly I’m being treated with actual respect.”

“People are at each other’s throats as it is, we don’t need yet another conflict to tear everyone apart, so I was hoping to diffuse the situation before it escalated.”

“I see, I see. There’s no need to apologize. Not to me, at least.”

“Whatever do you mean, darling?”

“Oh, you know what I mean! I did a little bit of research last night, found out about this whole Anon-a-mess.” Adagio stepped out of the bakery and slowly closed the front door. “The profile shared some more dirt this morning, did it not? All I can say is, Sunset Shimmer is in no condition to post anything online.”

She finally closed the door and walked away, leaving behind a dumbfounded Rarity. She looked back at her friends, who were all looking at each other with various degrees of shock.

“What in Sam Hill are y’all standin’ ‘round for?” Applejack asked as she stood up. “She knows where Sunset is, we just gonna let her go?”

The five girls immediately rushed out the front door, but it was already too late; Adagio was nowhere to be found, even with the group splitting up to cover more ground. With a sigh of defeat, they all sat back down around the same table as before.

“You think she was telling the truth?” Fluttershy asked. “You know, about Sunset not posting anything?”

“After what happened last night, if she kept goin’ then she’s either very stupid or so dedicated to the act that she plum done gone crazy over it.” Applejack spoke.

“So what, we’re just going to believe whatever that scumbag says?” Rainbow Dash asked. “In case you don’t remember, she’s no different than Sunset: both of them brainwashed the entire school after doing their worst to tear us all apart. They could be working together, for all we know!”

The conversation ended there; the group had no idea what to think anymore – all they believed to be fact was suddenly demoted to hypothesis in a matter of seconds.

By the time Adagio returned to the bar, Sunset was already wide awake and raiding the fridge behind the counter, but all she could find were beverages – she was seriously considering having beer for breakfast when the siren placed the paper bag on the counter, startling the unicorn.

“I think these are more appropriate.” She said, offering Sunset one of the paper cups.

“Where am I? How did I get here? Did you kidnap me? What are you going to do to me? Is this how you’ll have your revenge?”

Adagio rolled her eyes, placing both cups on the counter as well. “The Ace of Fours, same place you walked in of your own volition last night. That’s a weird way to thank the person who helped take care of you.”

“I… I’m, sorry, I… What happened last night?”

“I don’t know, you tell me. You suddenly burst in here bleeding, covered in bruises and smelling of smoke before passing out on the floor. Sure gave me a startle!”

“Smoke?” Sunset stroked her hair with her bandaged hand. Her eyes widened as her memories came back and she gasped. Grabbing Adagio by the shoulders she pulled her close.

“They want me dead, Adagio! They tried to kill me!”

With the memories rushing back, she began to sob uncontrollably. All Adagio could do was pat her on the back while she let it all out.

After Sunset had calmed down a bit, she told the bartender the events of the night prior: she managed to get out of the burning house before the fire spread and ran as fast as she could to make as much distance as possible between her and her three assailants – unfortunately for her they had a car and caught up to her in no time. With nowhere to run, the three of them proceeded to beat her up while insulting her with the nastiest profanities they could think of. They probably would have done much worse if she hadn’t managed to get as close to the road as possible, because the people beating her up got in their car and bolted as soon as they saw the headlights of another car approaching.

The driver either didn’t see her or didn’t care enough to stop and offer aid, so she reached out to the only person who could help her out in that situation: herself. Despite how much her body wanted to stop functioning right then and there because of the indescribable pain, she knew that fainting outside in the snow would only make things worse. With a mix of adrenaline, determination and sheer desperation giving her enough strength to keep moving, she walked to the only place where she hadn’t been mistreated in the last couple of days. After her eyes located Adagio, the rest of her body took that as the all-clear to cease all activity and everything went dark.

“Do you want me to call the police?”

“NO!” Sunset raised her voice and nearly screamed. “S-Sorry, I… I don’t have any documents. If the police gets involved they will ask questions, and who knows what will happen to me if they find out.”

“I know what you mean. When Starswirl tossed us in here documents were not things you get assigned to at birth, so we sort of had an easier time blending in.”

“That must have been a very long time ago.”

“One thousand and fifteen years.” Adagio shrugged. “But really, who’s counting?”

“You must have seen so many things, having lived here that long. Do you have any interesting stories of the places you’ve been to?”

“Oh, do I! Want to hear one?”

“Well, if it’s not too much bother… If anything, it’ll help me take my mind off last night’s events.”

“We have eight hours until opening time, swapping stories sounds like a fun way to kill time.”

And swapping stories is just what they did for the next four hours, but Adagio definitely had longest and more interesting ones; Sunset Shimmer sat on the stool with a look of wonder, listening closely as the siren told her about the time she caused two empires to go to war because she was sleeping with both emperors, the time she started a cult that worshipped her as a goddess of harvest and fertility and made them built a temple out of solid gold for her, and the time she, alongside her two companions, accidently caused an entire city to sink into the ocean.

“Speaking of them, you never answered my question that other day.” The unicorn pointed out.

“What question?”

“About the other two. Where are they?”

Once again, Adagio flinched before once again looking at her phone. “Oh wow, it’s that late already? Time sure flies when you’re having fun! How about we go out and get something to eat? My treat!”

“Adagio, I--”

“Sunset, please.” The siren interrupted whatever she was going to say. “If… If you really want me to talk about them, then I’m not doing it on an empty stomach, okay?”

Adagio locked the front door before the two of them walked side by side to a nearby restaurant – not the fancy one next door, but an affordable one.

“And you just let them treat you like garbage?” The siren asked as she sat down, continuing a conversation that had started during their walk. “Why?”

“I felt like I deserved, you know?” Sunset explained, sitting on the chair opposite of her companion’s. “After everything I did in the last couple of years, I couldn’t blame them for wanting to get back at me. I thought that once all that pent up aggression had been burned out, they would eventually move on. Or so I hoped, anyway.”

“Well, I think that was incredibly stupid and you’re lucky no one tried to do worse things to you sooner.”

The two of them ate in silence after the waiter brought their orders to their table. After paying for the meal, Adagio left the building and sat on a bench across the street; after Sunset Shimmer joined her, she took a deep breath and began to speak:

“Remember when I said I stopped hating you because I just thought long and hard about it?” Sunset nodded. “Well, that wasn’t entirely true. After the Battle of the Bands, things weren’t very… Stable in our home. Sonata developed a severe paranoia and a phobia of everything, from the doorbell to her own shadow, barely leaving her room for anything other than food and bathroom, always mumbling about how you would come find us to ‘finish the job’.”

“Oh, I--”

Adagio raised her hand, gesturing for her to not be interrupted; the unicorn complied immediately.

“Aria didn’t change that much, except her random bursts of wrath went up to eleven. She dedicated every waking moment to complaining about everything and yelling at Sonata and I. Not that I paid much attention to her insults, I was too busy coming up with plans to have my revenge. That’s when the first wake-up call happened.

“One morning Aria woke me up by violently banging on my door, yelling about how we had been robbed. Sure enough, the safe hidden behind a painting where we kept our valuables was wide open and picked clean – our money, or jewels, the ruby necklace my third husband gave me, all gone.

“We then realized Sonata wasn’t there; we went looking for her downstairs, but all we found was a note on the dinner table that said ‘sorry’, written with her beloved blue glitter pen. Turns out she robbed us blind in the middle of the night and ran with all our money. We were shocked; neither of us suspected Sonata was capable of that. In hindsight, I should have seen that coming: with my neglect and Aria’s constant verbal abuse, she was bound to do run away from home sooner or later. She was always the most emotional of us.

“That’s when the gravity of our situation hit me like a ton of bricks. I was still dedicated to find you and destroy you, but suddenly it had become a secondary objective; survival was top priority, so I swallowed my pride and went out looking for a job. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts and many failed job interviews, we were running low on supplies. Then one day I came back home to find our car missing from the driveway.

“I went up to Aria’s room to check if she had left a note saying where she went and, to my surprise, I found nothing. While I was away looking for a job she packed her things, took the car and followed Sonata’s example. That was the second wake-up call; my obsession with getting back at you drove away the closest thing I had to a family. The time I wasted scheming and planning could have been used to help us get through the tough times. I could have helped Sonata calm down, I could have helped Aria relax, but instead I locked myself in my study and let things go from bad to worse.

“I lost everything because of my thirst for vengeance, so I had to make a decision: either I double down and obsess over you until I wind up dead or turn my life around before I run past the point of no return – it was an easy decision to make. After that I sold the house, moved to a small apartment and found the Ace of Fours. The plan was to drown my sorrows and hopefully not get mugged as I stumbled piss drunk back home, but luckily the owner was hiring. I firmly believe that we make our own destiny but, on that fateful night, it felt like some higher power had moved a few pieces on the board to make me end up in there. She gave me the job and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”

A few seconds passed before Sunset Shimmer realized Adagio had finished telling her story. “Wow, that’s… Just… Wow! And you haven’t seen either of them since?”

The siren shook her head. “I tried tracking them down, but I couldn’t find anything. I even considered hiring a private eye at some point, but came to the conclusion that, if they wanted to be found, I would have done it by now. Well, either that or they already left the city ages ago and I’m just chasing ghosts. I’d rather not think about that second option, but the possibility is still there.

“This falling out we had is the reason I didn’t hesitate to help you; you were sad, alone and lost in your own worries, the people you thought had your back left you and you had no one to turn to in a time of need – and I could relate. If I hadn’t met my boss, who helped me get back on my feet when no one else would, who knows what I would be doing right now. So when I saw you by that bridge, looking exactly like I did just a few weeks prior, I decided to do for you what had been done for me.”

“Well, I… I’m grateful, Adagio. Thank you for being there for me, even though I tried to push you away at first.”

Adagio smiled before their conversation was interrupted by a loud, high-pitched shriek as a purple-colored blur tackled Sunset Shimmer to the ground.

“Oh thank the elder gods, you’re ok!” Princess Twilight said as she squeezed the air out of Sunset’s lungs with a hug. “I was so, so, so, so worried about you after… After… Oh, Sunset, it’s so good to see you alive and well and un-foalnapped.” The princess finally let go of the girl and helped her up. “S-Sorry, I… This morning I woke up and the journal was… I was afraid something horrible had happened to you.”

“She survived an attempted homicide, losing her house and all of her possessions in the process.” Adagio, still sitting on the bench, explained. “If that’s not classified as ‘horrible’ then Equestria has changed a lot in the last millennium.”

Twilight placed herself between the two, opening her arms in a protective manner to shield the unicorn; in a quick flash of light Twilight summoned her wings, her hair grew into a faux tail and her human ears were replaced by equine ones. “What is she doing here? Were the sirens the ones that foalnapped you?”

Sunset Shimmer placed a hand on her shoulder. “Relax, Twilight, no one foalnapped me. And no need for the hostility, Adagio and I are on friendly terms. In fact, she is the person who helped me after I was attacked last night.”

Grabbing the pony girl by the upper arms, the pony princess spun her around and forced her to sit on the bench once again while she remained standing, still in her “ponied up” form.

“Tell me everything. EVERYTHING!”

And so Sunset Shimmer proceeded to tell her tale; from the sleepover where she learned about Applejack’s nickname until the moment she dragged herself to the Ace of Fours after being assaulted by three hooded figures.

“It’s even worse than what I expected.” Twilight said as she got up. The princess grabbed the unicorn by the hand and pulled her to her feet. “Let’s go.”

“Go where?”

“Back to Equestria. Things have seriously gone out of hoof. You’ll be safe there while I try to fix this mess.”

Sunset Shimmer didn’t resist as Twilight Sparkle walked away, dragging her along, but she did turn her head to look at her newest friend, who didn’t move a single inch from where she was sitting. With a sad smile on her face, Adagio simply waved goodbye.

“Um… Twilight?” Sunset spoke. “I know this will sound weird, but… Can Adagio come with us?”

“WHAT?!” Twilight immediately stopped walking and turned to look at Sunset Shimmer. “Yes, you’re right, it does sound weird! Why would you even suggest that?”

“She was the only person who willingly helped me when no one else did. Heck, if it wasn’t for her I would probably be dead by now. She’s a creature from Equestria, just like us, don’t you think she deserves to go back home? It’s been over a thousand years, hasn’t she paid for her crimes already?”

“You have a point there. Except just a few months ago she was still doing the things Starswirl banished her for until we completely severed her connection to her Equestrian magic! A hundred, a thousand or even a billion years, if she hasn’t learned her lesson then there is no point in ending her banishment. Besides, what makes you so sure that this isn’t all an act? She might be trying to get on your good side so you can take her back to Equestria, where she’ll find a way to regain her powers and history will repeat itself!”

“But Twilight--”

“No buts. This discussion is over. The siren stays. Now let’s go!”

Twilight began to drag her again, but this time Sunset pulled her arm free from her grasp.

“She is not ‘the siren’, her name is Adagio. She had every reason to hate me, but instead she helped me when I needed. I owe her my life, Twilight, so why can’t I do something nice for her in return?”

“There’s a clear difference between ‘doing something nice’ and ‘undoing something the most powerful unicorn in the history of Equestria did’.”

Sunset Shimmer crossed her arms. “She is all alone now, and after all she did for me, I will not abandon her. If Adagio is not going, then neither am I!”

“I am trying to save your life!”

“A life that she saved so, as far as I’m concerned, it belongs to her until I can repay my debt.”

The princess facepalmed. “She is a dangerous creature, Sunset, we can’t just give her unsupervised freedom and hope for the best.”

The amber woman tapped her chin. “Hm… But what if it wasn’t unsupervised?”

“What are you saying?”

“I can act as her probation officer! I won’t let her out of my sight until you are convinced that she is no longer a threat to Equestria. If she steps out of line, I’ll report her immediately. How does that sound?”


“Please, Twilight! You gave me a second chance. Can’t you do the same for her as well?”

Twilight sighed in defeat. “You won’t change your mind, no matter what I say, right?”

Sunset Shimmer shook her head. “Nope!”

She took a deep breath before walking back to the bench where Adagio was still sitting on while checking her phone. “Excuse me, Adagio. I have a proposal.”

“So this is where it’s been all this time, huh?” Adagio commented as she touched the surface of the portal underneath the horse statue in front of Canterlot High. “Right under our noses.” She removed her hand from the portal and crossed both arms behind her head. “Makes you wonder, how come no human crossed it by accident?”

“About that, I’ve been studying the portal on my spare time.” Princess Twilight explained. “From what I gathered, only those who have been in contact with Equestrian magic are able to go through the portal, such as beings native from Equestria like us or humans who have been exposed to it; which means that, in theory, thanks to your actions during the Battle of the Bands, every student and employee from Canterlot High is able to go through.”

“How long are you going to keep acting passive-aggressive towards me?”

“Until you convince me that you have truly changed – it might take a while.”

Adagio simply shrugged.

“Um, can we go now?” Sunset Shimmer asked while frantically looking around. “I’m feeling… Exposed out here, someone might see me and--”


She pressed her forehead against the side of the pedestal. “Why do I say words?”

Rarity, who had just exited the main building, rushed down the stairs to join the trio.

“Oh thank goodness you’re alright, after the events of last night I feared--”

Adagio placed herself between the two; she was slightly shorter than Rarity, but that didn’t stop her from look menacing.

“Back. Off.” She ordered.

The fashionista instinctively took a step backwards, raising her arms in an attempt to show she meant no harm.

“Oh, hello, um… Aria, was it?”

Adagio growled. “She doesn’t want anything to do with any of you tramps, so would you kindly get out of our sights?”

“Isn’t a bit rude to say--”

“You know what’s rude? Using someone when it’s convenient and then discarding them once they outlived their usefulness.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I know all about the way she was treated before we came along; ‘raging she-demon’ this, ‘no offense’ that, you never actually forgave her, did you? You just accepted her into your ranks because Her Highness told you to – you can’t just say ‘no’ to a direct order from a princess, can you?

“When we took over you were too busy bickering amongst yourselves, it was only when Sunset stepped up that you managed to beat us. If it wasn’t for her then I would still have my necklace, I would be issuing orders from the principal’s office and you and your friends would be worshipping the ground I walk on.

“Once she proved her usefulness you people changed your tone immediately, but as soon as you suspected her of being Anon-a-Miss you immediately jumped to conclusions, not even bothering to hear her side of the story. You, the people who were supposed to be her best friends in the entire multiverse, just turned your backs to her and didn’t do anything once people started roughing her up.

“Her things were vandalized and you just watched. She was being bullied and you just watched. Her goddamn house was burned down, everything she hand went up in flames, she has nowhere to stay, and you. Just. Watched.”

“I… We… They…” Rarity wanted to reply, but she was unable to form a single coherent sentence.

“So don’t come walking up to us, acting like you’re relieved to see her alive and well, when your inaction is what indirectly caused people to think it was ok to keep pushing the envelope. If you had listened to her, believed in her and stood up for her, like an ACTUAL friend would have done, then none of this would have happened. So allow me to repeat myself one more time: she doesn’t want anything to do with you, so would you kindly get out of our sights?”

A moment of silence followed, soon broken by the sound of an engine as a car approached and parked right in front of the statue; the driver, Rainbow Dash, was the first to exit the vehicle, immediately followed by Applejack, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie.

“What are they doing here?” The yellowed siren asked.

“I texted them when I saw Sunset outside.”

“Suns--” Pinkie Pie began to speak, but Sunset Shimmer quickly put an end to that by covering the party girl’s mouth with her hand.

“Whatever you’re about to say, I don’t want to hear it.” She spoke. “It hurts to admit it, it hurt so, so much, but everything Adagio just said was right; you people didn’t stop being my friends because we were never friends to being with. I was still hanging around because I kept on clinging to the hope that if I cleared my name then things would go back to normal, but now that my eyes are opened I see that this is the normal; people still hate me now as much as they hated me when I was the queen bee of CHS.

“So congratulations, Rainbooms, you won. You don’t want to see me ever again and, despite everything, I will respect your wishes. All I ask is that you don’t tell anyone that I’m gone; I don’t know if Anon-a-Miss will keep posting once she learns about what happened last night but, if she does, make sure to congratulate her; she wanted me out of the picture, and she’s getting exactly what she wanted.”

None of the five humans replied, they simply looked at Sunset Shimmer as she positioned herself in front of the portal.

“Before I go, I just want to ask one more thing.” She turned her head to face her ‘friends’. “Other than principal, the vice-principal and my landlord, you five were the only people who knew where I lived. None of you attacked me last night, so I just want to know: who told them?”

“What in tarnation are ya talkin’ ‘bout?” Applejack asked. “Ah know we haven’t been in the best of terms lately, but we know people don’t think right when they’re frustrated, and can be up to some nasty business. None of us would sell ya out like that, no matter how bad--”

“It was me.”

Applejack froze; she never thought any of her friends would be capable of betraying someone like that, much less her of all people, so when she spoke up, revealing that she was the one who sold Sunset Shimmer out, it felt like Applejack herself had been stabbed in the back.

Rainbow Dash took a step forward, rubbing her elbow and looking at the ground to avoid eye contact. “I told them where you lived. I don’t know what I was thinking, that was wrong and stupid and I had no idea they would take things so far. I should have known better and I… I apologize for putting your life at risk.”

“You think that’s enough?!” Adagio didn’t want to shout, but she couldn’t stop herself from raising her voice. “Those maniacs almost killed her last night, and you think saying ‘I’m sorry’ will make everything better?!”

“I--” Whatever sentence she was about to utter, she never finished; Fluttershy covered her mouth with both hands to muffle a scream when Applejack landed a punch square on Rainbow Dash’s face, sending her flying several feet backwards.

She was breathing heavily and her fist was clenched so tight that her nails had dug into her skin and were drawing blood but, despite all that, Applejack’s voice was calm and collected when she asked:

“Why’dya think that was a good idea? What made ya think that revealin’ the home address of CHS enemy number one was the right thing to do?” She turned to look at her other friends. “Y’all better hold me back now, because it’s takin’ all o’ my willpower to keep me from goin’ over there and keep on punchin’ her until Ah wear out all the skin on my fist.”

Despite the warning, not a single one of them moved an inch. Adagio clicked her tongue; she wanted to feel amused for being proven right, but all she could feel was pity.

“See what I mean? They just watch.”

Still a little disoriented, Rainbow Dash managed to get up on her knees, looking down at the red stain in the snow made with the blood dripping from her nose.

“It’s just like you said; I was feeling angry and frustrated, I wanted to do something to her for tricking us and ruining our lives again, so when they approached me and asked me her address I thought that was the opportunity to get back at her for messing with my friends. I thought they were going to spray paint the walls, egg her house, harmless stuff like that, I could never imagine they… They’d…”

Applejack grabbed Rainbow Dash by the back of her neck and forced the athlete to stand up; she was hurting her, but Dash didn’t make any noise.

“Pinkie, ya said yer friends with the chief of police, right?” The apprentice baker nodded. “Can ya get us into his office? Rainbow has some fingers she’d like to point.”

After the four girls entered the car, Applejack stood by the driver door, looking back at the three Equestrians standing by the statue, but mainly at Sunset Shimmer.

“Hey, Sunset? Ah just wanted to say that, on behalf of all of us, we’re truly sor--”

But Sunset Shimmer didn’t want to hear it; she covered her ears with her hands and disappeared into the portal. The young farmer didn’t want their friendship to end on such a sour note but, in the back of her mind, she knew that after that moment they would never see each other again.

“Don’t think this is over.” The Princess of Friendship, Twilight Sparkle, warned. “After I make sure she has settled in properly I’ll come back, and we will have a long talk. Not just you, but all of CHS.” That said, she walked through the portal.

Adagio was the only one left, but she had already said everything she wanted to say; after silently looking Applejack in the eye for a few moments, she disappeared into the base of the statue as well.

Ever since her banishment, Adagio felt uncomfortable inside her own body, like she was constantly wearing clothes a few numbers too small; it wasn’t painfully uncomfortable, but it was certainly an annoyance. After crossing the portal, for the first time in over a thousand years she felt physically comfortable again. All the parts that were missing had returned, and all the extra parts that she despised were taken away; the fins she loved were back, her legs and arms were replaced by her old tail and hooves, the shiny scales she was so proud of replaced her smooth skin, all that hair vanished and she could feel her razor sharp fangs inside her muzzle once again.

The room she was in was very simplistic: the walls were made of crystal and lined with shelves filled with books, a couple of desks were spread around and in a corner of the room was the mirror portal she had just emerged from, surrounded by a massive contraption – scorched pieces of paper gathered inside a zip bag were being used as the catalyst that fueled the machine keeping the portal open.

After taking a deep breath of that fresh Equestrian air she slowly lifted herself off the floor, flying in circles around the room; despite being unable to use most of her siren powers for over a millennium, she still remembered how to use them flawlessly. With a smirk on her face, Adagio filled her lungs with air, and proceeded to sing.

Ahhhh ahhhhhhhh~! Ahhh ahhhhhhhhhhh ahhhh ahhhhhhh~!

Alarm bells began ringing inside Twilight’s head, and she immediately charged a powerful magic beam and shot it at Adagio, who managed to dodge it at the last second with a yelp.

“I told you this was a bad idea!” Twilight accused, pointing her hoof at the floating siren. “Not even a full minute back here and she’s already trying to brainwash us!”

Adagio didn’t say anything; with an unamused look on her face, she simply tapped her hoof against her chest – the spot where a crimson red gem was supposed to be had nothing in it other than the same scales that covered the rest of her body.

“Even if I wanted to brainwash you, which I don’t, I don’t exactly have the power to do that anymore. You made sure of that, remember?”

“Oh!” twilight looked away, folding her ears. “Sorry…”

“I just wanted to test my vocal chords, see if they still work in this body. I am pleased with the results!” She landed on the crystal floor once again. “Singing is more than just a tool used to channel my powers, it’s part of who I am. Not being able to sing was an even worse punishment than losing my magic. I imagine you would feel the same way if you lost your horn.”

“Well, I am glad you have your singing voice back.” Sunset Shimmer said with a smile as she placed her hooves on her waist. “I didn’t want to admit it back during the Battle of the Bands because we were still enemies, but your voice is really lovely.”

“Why, thank you!” Adagio caressed the large fins on the back of her neck. “So, uh, how long do you plan on standing like that?”

“Hm? Like what?” Sunset Shimmer looked down at herself, blushing a little in embarrassment after realizing she was still standing on her hind legs like a human. “Right. Pony now. Hooves. Heh!” After dropping down on all fours, she charged a simple levitation spell, causing one of the books in the shelves to float towards her and open itself in front of her face. “Okay, I still got it. My biggest fear was that I had forgotten how to use magic, but I guess it’s like riding a bike.”

“Well, if you need help with anything, just ask Spike. He’s… Somewhere. To be honest with you, I still don’t know the layout of this castle very well.” Twilight turned around and trotted back towards the mirror. “I’ll go have a chat with our acquaintances, find a way to contact Principal Celestia, discuss arrangements for a speech in the auditorium, tear the CHS students a new one, find out who this Anon-a-Miss is and give her a proper punishment…” She sighed. “I’ll probably miss the Hearth’s Warming celebration, all because those humans can’t learn a lesson as simple as ‘be nice to each other’.”

“Why do you care?” Adagio asked, crossing her forelegs. “You don’t have an obligation towards them, you’re not their ruler.”

“You’re right, but… Well, I’m sure you’ll meet them soon enough so I may as well come clean now: Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, they are the human counterparts of my best friends from this world. They have the same names, the same voices, the same mannerisms… The only difference is that the ponies are a lot nicer, so when I see people who are supposed to be exactly like my friends making such terrible mistakes, I… I want to help them become better people.”

Adagio shrugged. “You’re the princess here, do what you must, I can’t tell you what to do.” The siren tapped her chin with a hoof. “Although… Since I’m technically the last living Siren in Equestria, does that make me Queen? Yeah, I think it does! I’ll definitely have to look into that later.”

Twilight jumped back into the portal, leaving Sunset Shimmer and Adagio Dazzle behind.

Adagio’s existence was kept a secret from the outside world, so she wasn’t allowed to leave the palace. The only people aware of her presence were Sunset herself, the bearers of the Elements of Harmony and Spike the Dragon. After having concluded her business with the human world, Twilight turned off the machine that forcibly kept the portal open and scrapped it so that the portal would only open naturally every 30 moons, the way it was supposed to do.

Eventually Princess Twilight arranged a meeting between Adagio Dazzle and Princess Celestia so they could discuss the terms of the termination of her banishment; the princess granted her a full pardon once it was confirmed that she no longer posed a threat to society, given that she no longer had the power to charm ponies with music after her gemstone had been destroyed. Sunset Shimmer, despite her fear and anxiety, also met with the princess that day – she apologized for her actions and, after a lengthy discussion, the two of them reconciled.

Sunset chose to stay in the castle so she could continue her studies of the magic of friendship under the tutelage of Princess Twilight. Adagio also chose to live in the castle because that’s where her only friend in all of Equestria also lived, but she didn’t spend much time there, instead she preferred to fly around all of Equestria, singing to all of those who would listen; not to spread joy in the hearts of ponies, despite what the people who listened to her singing claimed, but simply because she wanted an audience while she sang. Sometimes her friend would join her in her travels, and ponies from all over Equestria would tell stories of the amber unicorn flying atop a flying draconic sea creature with a marvelous singing voice.

But for a period of three days every thirty moons, Adagio would vanish from Equestria. Nopony other than Twilight and Sunset knew, but every time the portal opened Adagio would go back to the human world and look for Aria and Sonata. Despite their falling out, she still hoped to see them again one more time, so she could at least apologize and make amends. She would jokingly say that she couldn’t be the Queen of Sirens without subjects, but Sunset knew that seeing them and making sure that they were alive and well was all she truly wanted, and maybe bring them back to Equestria with her if she could. That task could take years, centuries or millennia, but she would never give up.

Author's Note:

Get it? Because "kindling" can allude to the beginning of the friendship between Adagio and Sunset, but it can also allude to Sunset's house burning down.

This was an attempt at writing drama, something I've always struggled with, so don't take it too seriously. Share your thoughts, the reason I write things is because I want to read comments.