• Published 1st Feb 2019
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The League of Sweetie Belles - GMBlackjack



A team of multiversal explorers comprised of alternate Sweetie Belles explore fanfic worlds and beyond!

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New Destiny (Songs of the Spheres)

The Schoolhouse was burning down.

The worst of the flames had already passed – what had once been a roaring inferno had died down to scattered flickers within a charred building. One of the walls gave in, sending a cloud of embers and ash into the air in a swirling pattern that was equal parts beautiful and haunting.

A white unicorn filly stood on a nearby hill, the scene reflecting in her orange unblinking eyes. Her expression was unreadable as she stared deep into the damage. There were so many thoughts flying through her mind that she didn’t know what to make of them.

“…Think this means there’s no school tomorrow?” Scootaloo asked, flapping her wings.

“Probably,” Apple Bloom commented absentmindedly.

“Yes!” Scootaloo cheered, holding a hoof high. “No school tomorrow! No math test! Sweetie, you’re the best!”

Apple Bloom gawked. “She burned down the school, Scootaloo! That’s not something to be proud of!”

“What? Nobody got hurt and now we can do some serious Crusading tomorrow!”

Apple Bloom twitched. “Somepony’s gonna have to pay for a new school! Some of us had valuables in there! Cheerilee’s going to have to buy all new books!”

“…Okay, fine, maybe some ponies might be hurt…” Scootaloo scratched the back of her head. “Still. Sweetie did nothing wrong.”

“Ah know that,” Apple Bloom said, looking back at Sweetie. Concern crossed the earth pony’s face. “Hey, it was an accident, Sweetie. Everyone knows that.”

For a moment, it looked as though Sweetie might come out of her stupor. She shuffled her hooves a slight amount and slowly tore her gaze from the burning wreckage – meeting Apple Bloom’s eyes. She opened her mouth.

“HEY BLANK FLANK! ARE YOU PROUD OF YOURSELF!?”

Sweetie and her friends turned toward the voice of Diamond Tiara with panicked expressions. She was notably lacking her tiara – it had been lost in the fire.

“I bet you are… I bet you think this is an accomplishment! ‘I burnt down the school, hooray for Sweetie Belle’!”

“Cut it out,” Apple Bloom said, flatly.

Diamond Tiara ignored her, fixating her gaze entirely on Sweetie. “This isn’t anything. You’re not some… some raging fireball! All you did was start it! You’re a tiny little piece of blackened charcoal.” She pointed at Sweetie’s dirty coat as if in accusation. “Y-you’re just a cinder! A burning husk that can’t help but burn everything around t-them! A worthless little blank flank cinder!”

Tears welled up in Sweetie’s eyes. With a pained shout she ran – as far away from the fire as she could.

“Sweetie! Don’t listen to her!” Apple Bloom called out to no avail. She shot Diamond Tiara a glare. “Look what you d-“

Diamond Tiara’s confident, angry expression was gone – replaced with the face of an exhausted filly. She was breathing far heavier than she should have been and her eyes darted around the scene in near panic. Instead of running away, she sat on the ground and tried to calm herself, repeating “she isn’t anything, she’s just a cinder… just a cinder…” over and over, as if trying to convince herself of the fact.

“…Ah’m gonna go find Sweetie,” Apple Bloom said. “You watch… her.”

“...Why would I do that?” Scootaloo asked.

“’Cuz she’s scared,” Apple Bloom said, galloping away.

Smoke continued to rise into the sky of Equestria. But, eventually, only cinders would remain of the school.

~~~

Years later…

Three young mares – young enough to still be considered children by most – stood at the edge of Ponyville’s train platform, looking far into the distance, hoping to spot an incoming train.

“Ah think Ah see it!” Apple Bloom said, squinting her eyes. “A little light in the distance…”

“That’s just the sun catching a Pegasus chariot,” Sweetie corrected, rolling her eyes. “Trains don’t leave the ground.”

“Ah mean the flashy thing on the ground.”

“There isn’t a flashy thing on the ground!” Scootaloo retorted. “It’s just an illusion!”

“…Scootaloo’s probably right, actually,” Sweetie said with a smile. “It’s a hot summer day and the sun’s out in full force, it could cause a few mirages in the distance if you were looking too hard.”

“Yeah. That,” Scootaloo said, clearly having no idea if Sweetie was right or not.

Sweetie rolled her eyes. “Aaaanyway, you two might want to turn around.”

Scootaloo blinked, turning around. “Huh? Wh-“ Her jaw dropped.

Sweetie gestured at the train rolling into the station from the opposite direction. “Tah-dah!”

“Ah really should have paid more attention in geography,” Apple Bloom muttered.

Scootaloo blinked – and facehooved. “Great! I was looking at where I was going! Of course the train wouldn’t be coming that direction! Augh!”

“Hey, don’t worry!” Sweetie said with a smile. “All you have to do is get off at the right stop!”

Scootaloo smiled nervously. “Eheh… Yeah, I can totally do that. Totally won’t be asleep…”

“It’s not that long of a journey.”

“I may or may not have gotten any sleep last night,” Scootaloo admitted. “I mean, I was just so excited – who else do you even know who got to go to Tailspin’s Stunt Camp!?”

“Nobody,” Sweetie admitted.

“Ah didn’t even know it was a thing until you brought it up a week ago,” Apple Bloom said. “Lesse… ‘Girls! Girls! Rainbow Dash got me into a TSC’!”

“I do not sound like that,” Scootaloo huffed

Sweetie shrugged. “Eh, close enough.” She pointed at the train. “Looks like it’s time for you to get on.”

Scootaloo flapped her wings rapidly – still as unable to leave the ground. “Wish me luck! Keep the clubhouse warm for me!”

“You betcha!” Apple Bloom said.

“I’ll want to hear all about all the cutie mark problems you two solve while I’m gone!” Scootaloo called as she jumped onto the train.

“You’ll probably have more than us!” Sweetie called after her.

“We’ll see!” Scootaloo said, still waving even as the train doors closed and the locomotive sped out of the station.

It didn’t take long for Sweetie and Apple Bloom to realize how quiet it suddenly was.

“…Sooo…” Sweetie said, scratching a hoof on the ground. “What are we going to do now?”

Apple Bloom shrugged. “Ah dunno. Ponyville’s been kind of quiet lately.”

Sweetie nodded in silence. “…We should make some kind of plan for the summer. A project, just the two of us. We can surprise Scootaloo when she comes back!”

“Ah probably won’t have that much time,” Apple Bloom said with a sigh. “This is the year Applejack starts lettin’ me do the actually dangerous jobs. And teaches me how to manage the farm. And a whole long list of other stuff. Ah’m not sure if she just thinks this is ‘the year’ or if she thinks she’s not gonna get another chance to run me through everythin’.”

Sweetie raised an eyebrow. “So basically, I’m all alone for the summer. Greeeeeat.”

Apple Bloom smiled. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you can find somethin’ to keep you busy!”

~~~

“SOOOO BOREEEEED!” Sweetie wailed, flopping onto one of the many soft chairs in her sister’s boutique.

Rarity raised an eyebrow from behind her sewing glasses. “It can’t be that bad.”

“Apple Bloom hasn’t been able to do anything for days! Spike’s off on official business with Twilight! I’ve already knitted for five hours today! Counting the dots on my bedroom ceiling has lost its appeal!” She groaned.

Rarity pursed her lips. “I really figured you would have grown out of this by now.”

“Just following your example.”

Rarity smirked. “Touché.” She rummaged around some of her fabric stores. “…I could have sworn these were brighter when I saw them on the shelves... Aha!” She took out a large piece of glittering crimson cloth. “I believe I can satiate your boredom with… a dress!”

Sweetie blinked. “I mean, thanks, and it’ll probably be amazing… when it’s finished.”

“Oh, psh, you can make it with me!”

Sweetie raised an eyebrow and gestured at the crimes against nature and fashion she had been creating with her knitting.

“…I mean, that’s better than the rest of Ponyville.”

Sweetie chuckled. “I’ll probably help you with that dress another time. But knitting kinda took all the ‘messing with fabric for my own enjoyment’ quota for the day. And plus, you do have work you need to get done.”

“Psh, I can put some of it aside for my little sister.”

“Rarity, you were panicking about not being done this morning.”

“Ahahah…” Rarity smiled awkwardly. “Was I? I was exaggerating. That is a thing I do.”

Sweetie raised an eyebrow.

“Fine, fine, I suppose I am busy… But later.”

Sweetie flopped back into her chair. “But later doesn’t solve the boredom of now!”

Rarity furrowed her brow. “Hmm… Something you can do with singing?”

“Like what?” Sweetie asked. “Already practiced today.”

“You’re good enough to do something with it,” Rarity pointed out. “I’m sure there’s some event or party or something that could use some accompanying music.”

Sweetie thought about this for a moment. “Eh, not like I’m doing anything else.” She hopped out of the chair. “Guess I’ll go find Pinkie and see what’s happening around town.”

“Five bits says she’ll make a party for you to sing at if there isn’t one,” Rarity said with a chuckle.

“Nopony in their right mind would take that bet,” Sweetie commented, trotting out of the Boutique. “Thanks, by the way.”

“What are sisters for?”

The two of them shared a smile before Sweetie set out into the streets of Ponyville. This was it, yes – Scootaloo could have her stunts, Apple Bloom could have her farm, and she could have her singing! It was perfect, each of them would have something that went beyond their special talents – something that would give her a reason to look toward the future.

She arrived at Sugarcube Corner in a couple minutes and walked up to the counter. “Hey, Mrs. Cake, is Pinkie in?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, she just went out for deliveries! She’ll be out for… I have no idea, some days she’s back before I blink, other days she seems to just vanish.”

“…Any idea where I can find her?”

“Somewhere out and about delivering sweets. Your best bet is probably to search by smell.”

“Search by smell…” Sweetie scratched her chin. “Got it.” She trotted out of Sugarcube Corner and took a look around. No Pinkie. She closed her eyes and sniffed – getting a whiff of baked goods strong enough to get her excited.

Then she remembered she was standing right outside Sugarcube Corner. The entire building smelled like that.

“Off to a great start…”

She walked away until she was out of sight of the source of sweet, sugary smells. She stood in the middle of an open Ponyville road and closed her eyes. She took a sharp breath through her nose.

The smell of baked confectionaries did not reach her nostrils, but rather something that smelled slightly of fish. She was not given very much time to process this, seeing as a pony ran headfirst into her.

“Oh my gosh! I’m sorry, sorry!” The pony helped Sweetie up. “I’m just in such a hurry a-“

They locked eyes.

Sweetie was looking right at herself. There may have been a few superficial differences – the mare was wearing sunglasses, had four metallic hoof bracelets, and she didn’t have her cutie mark – but otherwise the similarities were uncanny. The curls in her mane, the off-white of her coat, and even the shape of her muzzle were all perfect for a somewhat younger version of Sweetie.

Sweetie blinked. Her first thought was time travel? But she’s younger than me…

“Oh, geez, this is a bad time for this…” The other Sweetie rubbed the back of her head. “Look, I’d love to talk and get to know you really, I would – but I have to get going or else I’m going to be late and the others don’t like that. I’ll be back though! I promise!” She saluted with an awkward smile and galloped away from Sweetie.

“WAIT!” Sweetie called. “WHO ARE YOU?”

The mysterious filly didn’t respond – she just ran.

Two can play at this game.

Sweetie charged after her younger self. “Hey!”

“Oh for the love of…” The filly glanced behind herself with an annoyed expression. “I said I’d be back!”

“I can’t be sure about that!” Sweetie called.

“…Well I don’t have an argument against that so…” She stopped in her tracks and gave Sweetie a very mischievous look. “Try this on for size.”

Sweetie watched the filly cast a spell – seemingly without lighting her horn. With a soft swirl of dull blue light, she was gone.

“Celestia…” Sweetie gasped, staring at the grass the filly had been in just moments before. That hadn’t looked like a teleport... But she didn’t even use her horn, so did that mean she had used an artifact or something? Had she even been real? The grass was flattened, so she had actually been standing there.

…The grass was actually a little too flat. Like something was sitting on it.

The grass twitched as the invisible filly jumped off of it. Sweetie felt a rush of air blow past her, telling her exactly which direction her invisible target had jumped. She lunged after her, flailing around.

She landed flat on her face, getting a mouthful of grass and dirt. With a disgusted ‘BLEH!’ she stood up, spitting the ground back to where it belonged.

She realized she was standing near the edge of Ponyville, pointing toward the Whitetail Wood. She saw absolutely no sign of the mysterious filly – no moving grass, no strange gusts of wind, no unusually rustling leaves.

Nothing.

“Oh come on!” Sweetie shouted at nobody in particular. Now she was going to have to wait for her to come back, and if she never came back Sweetie would spend the rest of her life wondering what all that had been about!

Sweetie narrowed her eyes. No, she wasn’t going to accept this. She had to know. She was going to turn the Wood upside-down if need be to find out what was going on. She would stop at nothing.

It may have been the case that she couldn’t see anything helpful… but she had another idea already. She closed her eyes and took a deep sniff.

The fishy smell. It was much stronger here. And yet, it somehow wasn’t disgusting, more… fresh. She didn’t have the best nose, but she could follow the general direction of a smell this distinct. She trotted into the woods. Within seconds, she found a source of the smell. At the base of one of the edge-most trees, there was a splatter of a bright white liquid.

Curious, Sweetie tapped it with her foot. It felt like paint – though a bit too oily. She immediately knew two things. First, whatever had left this had left it recently – it hadn’t dried out or washed away or even shown signs of being touched before Sweetie came along. Second, it was related to her in some way since it was the exact off-white color of her coat. She couldn’t even see the paint on her hoof without help from the sun’s glare.

Looking up, she took a quick survey of the surrounding area, quickly finding another speck of the paint deeper into the Wood. A trail.

She scampered through the underbrush, constantly on the lookout for more of the liquid. Now that she knew what she was looking for, it was laughably easy to spot the artificial white against the brown and green backdrop of her surroundings. With a chuckle, she started running through the forest – catching up with the paint dropper in less than a minute.

As Sweetie had suspected, the mysterious filly was at the end of the trail. What she hadn’t expected to see was the thing actually dropping the paint. She was a creature with two arms, two legs, and two white tentacles with suckers coming out of her head like hair. There was a leaky tank filled with the white substance on her back, and she held a gun clearly designed to shoot the stuff.

Sweetie was convinced this was also Sweetie, somehow, even though she wasn’t a pony. The colors matched too closely…

The filly and the squid-thing were standing in a small clearing, backs to Sweetie.

“Squiddy, I have a question,” the filly asked.

“I’ve got all the answers you could ever want,” Squiddy said with a voice akin to what Sweetie’s own would be if it were run through a bubble filter.

The filly let out an amused snort. “Why do we make such a big deal about being on time? Since when has anything ever gone according to the clock?”

“Because time is an illusion!” Squiddy gave her a finger-guns gesture.

“…Right, I forgot I was the only one who cared.”

“All these times we set? They’re nothing more than suggestions, Blink. Just an idea planted for us to address later…”

Blink blinked slowly. “Are you trying to be… poetic?”

“Maybe?”

“I’m not sure what to think of this.”

Squiddy smirked. “Don’t think anything. Just know.”

Blink rolled her eyes and turned away with a smirk on her face. Clearly, this had happened numerous times before. “…Anyway, I guess I owe someone an apology for being in a rush now.”

“Who?”

“Found this world’s Sweetie, a-“

Sweetie really wanted Blink to finish the sentence, but her answers would have to wait. Another Sweetie had appeared in the clearing – this one had two legs and two arms like Squiddy, but she was definitely not part squid. She had no tentacles, just normal pastel pink-purple hair and a simple pink dress on her off-white skin. Sweetie would have called her an ape of some kind were it not for the fact that she was two-dimensional.

She looked like a cardboard cutout at times – moving up and down as if she were a rigid object as she walked. Her arms, legs, and facial expression could change, but unlike any normal being this thing didn’t bother going through any of the in between steps. One moment she was hopping up and down with her arms on her hips, the next she had a hand on her chin with a thoughtful expression. There was no in-between step.

“I take it we didn’t find the colorvore?”

Sweetie gawked. She spoke like a robot! A male robot with a froglike voice! What even was she?

“Good guess,” Blink deadpanned.

Squiddy coughed. “Now hold on there Burgerbelle, I can explain…”

Oh, sure, her name’s Burgerbelle, that makes so much sense. All my questions have been answered, aha!

“No need,” Burgerbelle said. “We just have to wait for it to resurface. We can return to the ship until then.”

Blink sighed. “It’s going to hurt ponies again…”

“Not anything we can do about that right now. We have to let it think it’s won.” Burgerbelle was suddenly holding a fully three-dimensional bear trap in her flat hand. Somehow. It snapped shut loudly. “We’ll get him and his little dog too.”

“…Let’s just get back to the ship.”

Burgerbelle nodded - which looked more like a neck-snapping motion for her – and pulled a circular device out of her pocket. She pressed the central button once and took a step back.

Directly in front of her a white spark appeared. This spark transformed into a ring of white in less than a second, tearing a circular hole in the fabric of reality itself. Through the hole was a bright, metallic room mostly obstructed by Burgerbelle’s body.

The flat entity hopped through the portal first, followed quickly by her two companions.

Something inside Sweetie knew this was the last chance for her to do anything. If she stood here, observing quietly, she would never get the answers she wanted.

So she charged through the portal after them, landing on flat on her flank, smacking the metal painfully. The room itself was only about the size of a living room, with a single entrance. A large screen lined one of the walls, displaying eternally scrolling pinkish text Sweetie couldn’t read. Behind her was a large metallic ring the exact size of the portal in the Whitetail Wood.

A synthetic Sweetie-like voice came from seemingly all directions at once. “Aww, look at that, you found another one.”

Burgerbelle, Squiddy, and Blink turned around.

“…Oh. Hey, is this the girl you needed to apologize to, Blink?”

Blink stared at Sweetie in disbelief. “How did you follow me!?”

Sweetie decided now was the time to be honest. “Followed Squiddy’s white stuff.”

“You really need to fix that leak,” Burgerbelle commented.

Squiddy twitched. “I haven’t had time to let Seren look at it! We’ve been chasing this colorvore all around! I go down to engineering, start talking about the problem, and bam, it resurfaces!”

“I reiterate my statement.”

“Um, girls?” Blink waved a hoof. “What do we do with her?”

“Take her to Suzie?” Squiddy shrugged.

“Or Suzie can come to her,” Burgerbelle commented. The three bizarre Sweeties parted to opposite sides of the room, letting a new Sweetie walk in. She had two legs and arms as well, and overall looked like a taller version of Burgerbelle that was three-dimensional. Unlike the others, she was wearing a uniform. It was silvery and form fitting, the only identifying marks being a series of colored bands on the ends of the sleeves and an orange “u” symbol with an extended tail on the chest.

She was taller than everyone else in the room. Maybe even Celestia sized.

Sweetie suddenly felt nervous. “Uh… Hi.”

“Hello,” she said with a warm, soothing tone, crouching down so far that her eyes were level with Sweetie’s. “Is your name Sweetie Belle?”

“Yeah… I bet you get that a lot, huh?”

Suzie nodded slowly, her kind smile not fading. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you. I was Sweetie Belle once too, you know. But now I’m Suzie, captain of this ship, and expedition le-“

“I have a name you know,” the omnidirectional voice interrupted.

Suzie’s calm demeanor faltered ever so slightly. “…Right. This is Swip. Swip is our ship. She’s a Sweetie too, just like you and me. Like all of us.”

“Wow…” Sweetie said, looking at all of them. “You all look so… amazing. What… what are you?”

“We are an exploratory team created from the League of Sweetie Belles, an organization composed almost entirely of people like us from across the multiverse.”

Sweetie took a minute to process this. There was a multiverse. In this multiverse, there was a League formed entirely of Sweetie Belles. It was an organization tailor-made for her.

If this wasn’t destiny knocking, she didn’t know what was. She beamed. “…Can I join?”

“Of course. Any Sweetie can join at any time,” Suzie said with a wink.

“Oh, oh, oh, you’ll need a name!” Blink said, suddenly excited. “Let’s see… names are usually based on what makes you unique, your defining feature! I blink in and out of existence, Squiddy is part squid, and Burgerbelle… Well that’s just obvious.”

Sweetie stared at Blink dumbfounded. “…No it’s not.”

“She doesn’t want to explain it,” Burgerbelle offered.

“Shush,” Blink hushed, turning back to Sweetie. “Now you… you’re a pretty standard Sweetie, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. You have a dark streak in your mane here, so you could be Black Fox or Nocta or something… oh, wait, your eyes! Tangerine!”

Sweetie blinked - she hadn’t noticed it before, but all the other Sweeties had pale green eyes, not orange. She wasn't sure how to feel about that.

“There’s already a Tangerine,” Squiddy pointed out.

“…There is?”

“Yeah. One of the stallions. Born orange. Likes fruit. Tangerine.”

“Shame, it would have worked great…”

Suzie held up a hand. “Calm yourself, Blink, you’re overwhelming our guest.”

“Oh! Sorry…” Blink said, scratching the back of her head. “I just like the whole naming thing. It’s pretty sweet.”

Suzie turned to Sweetie. “You don’t have to choose a name to join. It just makes things easier.”

“I’m… sure I’ll think of one eventually!” Sweetie said.

“That’s the spirit!”

“I am curious what are you – well, we I guess – doing out here? What’s this colorvore thing and how do we stop it?”

“We?” Squiddy asked rolling her eyes. “You’re not even a fully fledged member, let alone an Agent. You can’t go hunting monsters like us.”

“Squiddy!” Blink chided. “Not cool!”

“What? I’m right!”

Sweetie turned to Suzie. “…I can’t help, can I?”

“I’m sorry,” Suzie said with a sad smile. “We wouldn’t want to put you in danger – we face a lot of horrible and nasty things out here.”

“Oh…”

“But there are still things the League has to offer besides dangerous adventures!” Suzie said. “And I can still tell you what we’re doing out here. All of us know how much we hate unsatisfied curiosity.” She walked up to the screen and tapped it with her finger, bringing up a display of three large circles with a smaller circle under them. “This is the multiverse. Our nation – Merodi Universalis – has already mapped out the overarching size and shape of it. However, there was always a minor problem when we explored new worlds.”

She tapped a few more times, zooming in on one of the spheres until the screen showed a single glowing dot. A new dot appeared near the edge of the screen, and a line was drawn between them. “We would discover new universes by random chance, lucky if we found a connection. But for every connection we made…” hundreds of dull dots appeared between the two glowing universes, all unconnected. “We would miss hundreds of nearby universes, skipping over many of our closest neighbors. We had no way to account for this… until now. Swip, care to tell everyone about your drive and why it’s special?”

Swip beeped. “Finally… I am equipped with an early-era Time Space Administration Bureau interdimensional drive donated to us by our allies. Instead of shooting darts in the dark, I am able to form connections to all nearby universes by forming my own pocket dimension separate from all other worlds! I automatically propagate my databanks with addresses we connect to, ensuring we find everything!”

Suzie nodded. “Thank you, Swip. Our goal as the LSB Homeland Expedition Unit is to explore and make contact with the universes within the Equis Cluster. While the actual Expeditions Division plunges further and further toward the Unrealities and Beyond, we find beauty in things a little more down to earth.”

Sweetie stared at Suzie, eyes wide. “…I have no idea what half the things you said just mean but it’s absolutely amazing anyway.”

Suzie smiled sadly. “…I am sorry you can’t join us. But there are plenty of already explored worlds the League can give you access too, even if you’re not an Agent. And assuming your world is a standard Equis…”

“It is, as far as I can tell,” Blink said.

“…Then your entire world should soon find itself part of a much larger network,” Suzie said with a smile.

“Don’t listen to her, ‘soon’ could mean a year or two,” Squiddy whispered.

Sweetie smiled. “Well…. I guess I just have to become an Agent so I can travel with you guys then! How do I do that?”

“You still have to be assigned to us,” Squiddy pointed out. “A lot of Sweeties would like this assignment.”

Suzie put her hand on Sweetie’s face. “Becoming an Agent isn’t difficult – just complete training with someone who’s already an Agent, and they’ll give you the honor. But getting here… it will be a long and h-“

“Why are you all just standing around?” a new Sweetie demanded.

Burgerbelle put her hands on her hips. “Nira, there are already five people in here, the room is too crowded!”

Nira grunted. She was a fully-grown unicorn mare with a solid black mane and a cloak that covered most of her body. There was something off about her that made Sweetie’s stomach churn. Sweetie had no idea what it was, and this made her even more uneasy. “We need to be hunting the colorvore. You’re all giving another one the ‘ooh’ ‘aah’ tour.”

“We have to wait for it to resurface,” Blink said. “Chill out, Nira.”

“You don’t have to wait, we’ve been waiting long enough.” Nira stamped her hoof on the ground. “Go out there and find faded colors. It has to be feeding.”

“It’s smart enough not to do it while we’re around…”

Sweetie’s pupils shrunk to pinpricks.

Rarity smirked. “Touché.” She rummaged around some of her fabric stores. “…I could have sworn these were brighter when I saw them on the shelves... Aha!”

“…Rarity’s fabrics weren’t as bright as they were supposed to be,” she said, voice hollow.

Everyone turned to stare at her, stunned.

Suzie recovered first. “The four of you, go to Carousel Boutique, take care of it.”

“Got it,” Burgerbelle said. She pulled out her disc device and pointed it at the ring in the back of the room. A portal opened not in the Whitetail Woods, but in Ponyville outside the Boutique.

“I’m coming too!” Sweetie said, charging for the portal.

Suzie grabbed her by the scruff of her neck. “No. Let them handle this.”

“But the color-thing is going to get Rarity!”

“They’ve done this before. They’ll get your sister back.”

Sweetie glared at Suzie. “Do they always succeed!?”

Suzie was shocked by Sweetie’s question. “…No.”

“Then let. Me. GO!”

The portal closed. Suzie let Sweetie go. The young unicorn charged to the portal and sat down in front of it, staring it down.

Suzie looked at her with a curious expression. “…What a-“ she began.

“I’m going through this portal the moment it opens. Not a moment later.”

Suzie examined Sweetie for a moment – and smirked. “You’re a good sister.” She left the room, leaving Sweetie alone with the portal device.

Sweetie allowed a smirk to crawl up her face. Gotcha. “Hey, Swip?”

“What?” the ship grunted.

“I need something to… keep me occupied so I don’t go bonkers.” Bad word choice… keep it together Sweetie, you can do this. “Got anything I can read?”

“I have a lot of books I can display on the screen. I’m not reading them to you.”

“That’s okay. …Anything about you? I’ve heard a lot about ships, but you’re not the sea kind of ship.”

“I am an all-terrain ship equipped with the finest armaments and the ability to survive space, lava, and alien physical natures.”

“…I don’t know what any of that means. Does one of your books tell me about how you work and what you can do?”

“Yes, it does!” Swip said, elated someone was interested in her. “Displaying the technology guide on screen… now. Navigate with your eyes, I can see where you’re looking.”

Creepy. Hope that doesn’t give anything away.

She found it very intuitive to look through the digital book. She looked through a few things about Swip’s overall shape – a mix between a dolphin and a whale – and crew size – eight – before digging deep. She found the section on the ‘Interdimensional Wormhole Tunneling Ring’ and jumped right to ‘operation’.

The manual buttons are rarely used since remotes are almost always available, but in the case that they are not, the IWTR is fully operable from its base. Just type in the coordinates and press the tunnel button. If no coordinates are input, the tunnel button will dial the last dialed location.

Sweetie jumped at the ring, pressed the button with her hoof, and tried to do a backflip through the ring. Instead, she tripped on the bottom of the device – but she still ended up on the other side.

“...Dammit,” Sweetie heard Swip mutter.

“Sorry!” Sweetie called before running to the Boutique.

She was clearly a little late. One of the Boutique’s walls has been destroyed and the disappointingly familiar sound of panicked Ponyville pony screams met her ears. The colorvore itself had poured out of the Boutique, a swirling tornado of monochromatic paper and rolls of fabric held together by a multicolored aura. It was half the size of the Boutique itself, and it took the overall shape of a giant face.

Sweetie thought it looked ridiculous.

However, since Squiddy was passed out on the ground and Burgerbelle was laying flat with swirls on her face instead of eyes, Sweetie suspected it was a lot more dangerous than it looked.

Blink and Nira were both still active. Blink was vanishing and reappearing all over the place, drawing the colorvore’s attacks with a cheeky smile. “Oh, look over here! Ohhhh, too slow! Ouch, did you really just punch the ground? I mean, I guess you at least hit something…”

Nira on the other hand was simply terrifying. She didn’t move – she stood perfectly still, surrounded by multiple layers of dark magic rings. Every time the colorvore came close to her, a dark claw would appear out of a tear in reality and turn whatever was attacking her to dust. Nira would occasionally counterattack with a beam of dark energy fired directly from her horn, every shot sending chills into Sweetie’s body.

If Sweetie didn’t know Nira was with Blink, she would have assumed Nira was the monster.

She shook her head – she needed to focus. How could she help… she didn’t have powerful magic like Nira, or a useful ability like Blink… She was just an average Sweetie with orange eyes. Nothing all that special, like the rest of them.

She furrowed her brow – she wouldn’t even be able to get close without getting blown away by the colorvore’s inner winds. At least not for long. She’d need to think of something else...

“GO FOR IT!” Blink shouted as she tore out a fabric rolls that served as one of the colorvore’s eyes . Sweetie thought she was talking to her for a second – but Nira’s reaction soon put an end to that theory. The dark unicorn roared, summoning a jagged red symbol into the air above her.

I dissolve thee!” Nira shouted with a reverberating, echoing voice that sounded somewhat like the Royal Canterlot Voice.

The colorvore felt the symbol tearing at its essence and it knew it had fallen into some kind of magic trap. So it pulled out its trump card – Rarity, held by the neck.

“Put me down right now,” Rarity ordered, indignant. Seeing that the colorvore wasn’t listening, she zapped it with a laser from her horn. This did nothing apart from disintegrate her favorite roll of fabric. “…I could use some assistance up here!”

“RARITY!” Sweetie shouted.

“SWEETIE!” Rarity gasped. “STAY BACK! Don’t you get near this th-“

The colorvore put one of Rarity’s giant pairs of fabric scissors to her neck, shutting her up.

Nira and Blink froze.

Sweetie panicked – looking around for something, anything she could do…

Nira raised a hoof and narrowed her eyes.

“Nira, don’t you dare,” Blink said.

“I can get it and not her.”

“Do you want a repeat of last time!?”

Nira ground her teeth. She lowered her hoof and de-summoned the red symbol, sagging her head in defeat.

The colorvore seemed to laugh. It had won – they wouldn’t dare attack it now. It was home free. All it had to do was run a little ways…

“Burn,” Sweetie said, sparking her horn. She was currently standing as close to the colorvore as she could manage, allowing the spark to touch one of the lowest pieces of burlap and ignite. The high winds of the colorvore did not blow the flames out – merely spread them at an alarming rate.

As the colorvore began to panic, Sweetie grabbed the scissors around Rarity’s neck with her telekinesis – finding that the colorvore was unable to keep hold on them while it was also on fire. With a yelp of surprise Rarity fell to the ground. Blink appeared beneath her, cushioning her fall slightly at the expense of becoming a pancake. “Ow…”

The colorvore tried to put out the fire by swirling around rapidly, but that only made it worse. After a second of this it rammed itself into the ground, trying to snuff the flames out.

This left it very open to Nira’s attack. She didn’t even bother with the specialized magic rune, she just blasted the core of the monster away with a traditional blast of dark magic. All the remaining bits of flaming fabric fell to the ground, lifeless.

“WE DID IT!” Blink shouted, unceremoniously throwing Rarity off of her. “YOU did it Sweetie!”

Sweetie looked at the dotted flames of fabric – and smiled. “…Call me… Cinder.”

“Oh my gosh that’s an awesome name! And it fits so well with the FIRE!”

“Yeah…” Cinder said, looking out over the burning remnants of the colorvore. It looked beautiful, now. When it was used for good. “Yeah, it is.”

Nira clapped her hooves and sent out a ‘simple’ put-out-fire spell, stopping the flames before they could spread even further. “And now our hunt has ended.”

“How many worlds did we chase this beast across?” Blink asked.

“You? Seven. Me? One.” Nira tossed her mane back. “You should have been able to deal with it yourselves.”

“Ahem. Cinder saved us. Not you.”

“True,” Nira admitted. “I retract my statement.”

Blink paused. “…I’m so used to bantering with Squiddy…”

While Blink pondered her automatic banter response, Cinder ran to Rarity and pulled her into a hug. “You’re okay, right?”

Rarity examined a small cut on her neck. “Well, I’m injured, but nothing serious. What about you?” She glanced at the cinders of the colorvore. “...Are you okay?”

Cinder smiled. “I’m okay.” She looked at the smoldering heaps of fabric and paper. “I moved past that already.”

Rarity smiled and pulled Cinder into a hug. Then she paused, examining the blood on her hoof. “This is going to take forever to wash out…”

“I’m sure the League can help you with that! They’ve got all sorts of magic and spells and awesome stuff!”

“Yes, about that…” Rarity looked at Blink and Nira. “…Are they… you?”

“Yep! That’s Blink and that’s Nira and I only met them today! They’re part of the League of Sweetie Belles, an interdimensional task force that does… lots of stuff. They do exploring! They were exploring our world!”

“I… Well.” Rarity blinked. “…Sweetie, dear, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to process all this.” She shook her head. “Though I suppose it isn’t as bad as when Pinkie used the Mirror Pool…”

“You’d be surprised how many times we’ve had to deal with that ,” Suzie said, stepping out of a portal, a calm smile on her face.

Rarity stared at Suzie for a moment. “…A human?”

“…What’s a human?” Cinder asked.

“I am,” Suzie said with a smile. “Rarity, I take it this means your world has a Mirror Portal?”

“As a matter of fact it does,” Rarity said. “I take it this means there are a lot more than one?”

“In a way, yes,” Suzie admitted. “I’ll need to have a talk with your Twilight Sparkle later about our next steps, I’m sure you understand.”

Rarity smirked. “She’ll be absolutely elated! And probably won’t stop talking.”

“Trust me, I know, not my first Twilight Contact Rodeo…” Suzie chuckled. “But first…” She kneeled down and looked Cinder in the eyes. “…Are you still serious about joining us?”

Cinder nodded vigorously. “Did I prove myself?”

Suzie smiled. “No. You’ve shown enough mettle to be given Agent status, sure. But it wouldn’t be enough for you to be assigned to us.”

“Oh…”

However…” Suzie said, her smile growing. “There’s something about you I like. And as the captain, I can have whoever I want on my ship. I’ll just list you as a passenger, not crew.”

“REALLY!?”

“Well, there is one other thing we have to work past…” Suzie turned to Rarity. “Will you allow me to take your sister on as an apprentice to explore the endless cosmos?”

“I… Uh… Wha?” Rarity blinked.

“Your sister is old enough to make her own decisions – almost an adult – and would be far from the youngest member of my crew. She would be well looked after and given enough experience to last a lifetime. I won’t lie – there is a lot of danger involved. But if you’re anything like the Rarities I usually encounter, you understand that there is also great reward and maturity that comes with danger.”

“Please?” Cinder said, smiling. “I… I feel like it’s my destiny. This is why Scootaloo left and Apple Bloom is busy. So I can go do this.”

“You’re asking me to make a complex decision rather quickly,” Rarity commented.

“I can let you think about it,” Suzie said. “I still need to get her processed into the League, that could take some time.” She pulled a box out of her pocket that had a button on top. “Use this to contact me when you’ve made your decision – or if you want more information.”

Rarity grabbed it in her telekinesis. She watched closely as Suzie walked over to Squiddy and tended to her, treating the squid kid like a mother would a child. There was such loving care in those eyes of hers…

She turned to Cinder – or, as Rarity still thought of her, Sweetie. Rarity saw her sister, on the cusp of adulthood, finally enthusiastic about something regarding her future beyond simply getting her cutie mark. She saw a goal in the white unicorn’s eyes, something that had been absent for the last few years.

Suzie heard a buzzing in her ears that indicated Rarity had pushed the button. She turned around with an understanding smile. “That was even faster than I’d expected.”

“I have some conditions,” Rarity said. “I get to talk to her every day. You can use whatever this button thing does to do that, right?”

“I won’t guarantee every day, but almost every day can be arranged,” Suzie said.

“And second, she’s back when summer’s over. She needs to go back to school.”

Squiddy snickered. “Your education system is about to be turned on its head…”

Suzie let out a soft chuckle. “I expect you will change your mind about that second term after Relations starts talking to you in-depth, but I will agree to it. Burgerbelle! I need a two way video phone!”

Burgerbelle went from being on the ground to standing straight up with two smartphones in her hand. “Coming right up! Technology is served!”

Suzie took them and handed one to Cinder, one to Rarity. “They should be keyed to each other. So long as we are within service – which should be most of the time – you will be able to talk to each other.”

Cinder pulled Rarity into a hug. “Thank you! Thank you!”

Rarity smiled. “…You do need to find your place in the world. Far be it from me to get in the way.”

Cinder started bouncing up and down like she was a filly again. “I’ve got to go tell Apple Bloom everything!”

“Hold on one second…” Suzie took out a phone and took a picture of Cinder. “There. When you get back, I’ll have processed you into the League of Sweetie Belles. There’s not a complex indoctrination ceremony or anything, don’t worry, you’re just in.”

“You going to process her as an Agent?” Blink asked.

“Not yet. I have my suspicions of a ka fluke,” Suzie said, pressing a few buttons. “But if you keep it up, Cinder, I should be able to give you that as well.”

“Thanks! Thanks! Thank you everyone!” Cinder squealed – and then ran off to go tell Apple Bloom everything.

~~~

“Say hello to the rest of the crew, Cinder!” Blink said, taking Cinder into Swip’s main lounge. “Let’s get these last introductions squared and out of the way! That’s Seren – or Serendipity – our engineer! And unlike everyone else she is as young as she looks!”

Seren was a small child that was somewhere between human and pony. She wore a red dress and similarly colored witch’s hat that accented her red-pink swirling hair. Slung over her back was staff made of a brass-like metal topped with a crescent shape holding a white crystal. “Oh, your eyes look like oranges!”

“And you look like you’re on fire!” Cinder said, grinning.

“I do…? Oh! Yeah!” She giggled innocently.

Blink rolled her eyes. “And over here we have our resident politician, manager, and diplomat, Celia!”

Celia was a very tall pony that had a serene glow about her. Instead of a horn she had a diamond-shaped crystal in her forehead, split in two down the middle. She looked more like a Rarity than a Sweetie Belle, but the eyes and cutie mark were distinct. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Cinder. I look forward to getting to know you better.”

“Same! I can’t wait to get to know you all!”

“Never let her challenge you to a game of cards,” Blink warned Cinder. “She always wins.”

“A tactical mind has its advantages,” Celia admitted.

“Anyway, lastly is Sweetaloo Blume,” Blink said, gesturing at a yellow-coated alicorn with a bow and a mane that couldn’t decide if it was Sweetie Belle’s or Scootaloo’s. She appeared only slightly older than Cinder. “She’s our counselor.”

“The Ultimate Crusader!” Sweetaloo said with a smile. “I’m relatively new here. And I can tell you one thing – I love it here. There’s so much action, so much stuff to see, so much amazing technology and science and friendship and…” She laughed. “Look at me, getting ahead of myself again. Welcome to the family, Cinder.”

Cinder squeed.

As Cinder made her rounds through Swip talking to everyone and learning about everything, Suzie watched from behind, an unreadable expression on her face. Eventually, she left Cinder to her own journey – making her way to the captain’s quarters.

She sat down in a big chair and stared at her computer screen, hands folded in front of her mouth.

Why have I given her this opportunity?

Why did I let her fool Swip?

She’s just an ordinary Sweetie Belle, very little in the way of deviation… And yet… There’s something about her…

She closed her eyes and let out a sigh. She knew when she was asking questions she wouldn’t get answers to. She’d just have to do her best with what she knew: Cinder was one of them now. Suzie hadn’t made her a full Agent, hadn’t listed her as crew, and had made a deal to bring her back when summer was over on her home world. But deep down, Suzie knew… Cinder would become a part of them.

A smile came to Suzie’s face. In the end, who cared if she couldn’t answer her own questions? Most Sweeties would go mad… but Suzie could see the beauty in Cinder being here. A new face…

Suzie stood up and left her quarters, ready to join in the ‘new Sweetie’ festivities. There was probably going to be a Pinkie brought on board at some point, and she wasn’t going to miss that for the world.

Author's Note:

Songs of the Spheres is my fic, and it provides the background for the League of Sweetie Belles. Reading it is definitely not required, just like every other fic world the Sweeties will visit. That said, I do recommend reading every fic the Sweeties visit eventually - it's worth your time.

Want to suggest a fic for the Sweeties? Go here!

-GM, master of pies.

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