• Published 8th Jan 2020
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Golden Age of Apocalypse - Book III: Legacies - BlueBastard

Everything is finally ready for Sunset Shimmer to be crowned a ruling princess of Equestria, but not all is as it seems as the Covenant make their move and the history of Equestria itself is called into question as GAOA reaches its explosive end!

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Chapter 3 - In Modo Di

Book 3 Chapter 3 – In Modo Di

Octavia Melody couldn’t help but stand as if time itself had stood still. There, sitting at the table, was a pony with raven hair, violet eyes, and an air about her that just radiated the poise and expertise of a musician. It had bothered Octavia that of her whole circle of friends and family, she was the only one whose equestrian counterpart hadn’t been encountered or otherwise explained away. Given the degree to which counterparts differed as reflections of each other, in the back of her mind Tavi had wondered where hers would fall. Now, it was clear that where her counterpart was not part of the local Twilight Sparkle’s family, she was engaged in the same general career.

“Um, hello?” she asked, venturing a small wave. How did one greet an individual who was effectively also them?

“Uh, hi?” The pony in turn looked at the human with a mixed expression of surprise and suspicion, clearly trying to put things together in her head. Finally, she smiled slightly and shook her head. “Suddenly, it all makes more sense.”

“What makes more sense?” asked Blueblood.

“Remember when I told you about encountering Sunset Shimmer back in Ponyville sometime last year? And how she knew a little too much about what was left over from my operation?”

“Is this something you really want to talk about in front of, er, her?” Now Blu looked positively embarrassed – because of the human who was unmistakably also Octavia Melody? The voice certainly had confirmed it, if it wasn’t for the mane style and eye color. Octy certainly was beginning to wonder how long Blu had been keeping this a secret. She’d get the answer out of him all in good time though.

“Not particularly, but it’s Sunset’s fault for mentioning that scar, or rather I should say her scar. Something about an ‘appendix’?”

Now it was human Octavia’s turn to be embarrassed. “I don’t even really know you or how you know Sunny, but she told you about that?!”

Pony Octavia laughed. “It was odd, given she seemed to think I was somepony I wasn’t, though in a sense maybe I am. Because you just confirmed that whatever she was on about at the time, she seemed to think I was you.”

“Why would she think that?”

“You tell me,” the mare drolled. “Other than her having some business with Raspberry Beryl at the time, the only other interaction I had with her was…well, it involved the discussion on whether or not humans existed with Equestria’s resident ‘humanologists’ Lyra Heartstrings and Sandalwood. Obviously, since you are standing here in front of me and Blu, they were correct in that regard.”

“She didn’t mention any of that,” said Tavi, grunting in annoyance. “Then again, it took the near end of the world and her own death before she finally confessed to being a creature from another dimension.”

“Here, Tavi, please sit,” said Blu, magically drawing out a chair. “It seems you and Octy have a lot to talk about.”

“Why didn’t you ever mention you knew my counterpart?” the human asked as she graciously took the offered chair.

“The chance never really came up,” lied Blu.

“I’m sure it’s that and not anything else,” said Octy in a lightly teasing tone. She then turned back to her counterpart. “Regardless, we’re here now and by whatever string of fate orchestrated this, I think we might have quite an interesting little lunch.”

Curled up on the bed and surrounded in sheets, Sunset Shimmer didn’t look like an alicorn at the moment, or a radiant goddess or even the drop-dead gorgeous teenage girl that she was usually. With her hair disheveled, her eyes still red from tears and covering herself with the blanket as if she was attempting to become a monastic just from fabric infusion, she looked broken in a way that Twilight Sparkle had never seen her sister appear before – not even when they had been fighting in the old timeline had Twilight ever seen her sister like this. Suffice to say, it had been a long day and it was only half over.

“Sis?” Seated just a slight distance away in order to give her space, Twilight now wondered if it was a good idea to have their cousins-slash-sister figures not be here in attendance. Twilight had thought it best not to crowd Sunset at such a critical time, but now she was second-guessing herself and for a girl that did that more often than she liked, it wasn’t going to be comfortable.

Sunset continued to sit there, silent and motionless.

“Sunny, speak to me, please,” Twilight told her. She had just finished telling Sunset that she had talked to Pinkie, and had formed a tentative truce with her, just as Sunset had asked. Twilight had expected the news to make her sister feel a little bit better, but instead Sunset had been quiet, staring listlessly into the abyss.

Sunset fixed her cyan eyes on her sister, and the look in them was of someone that was utterly shattered. “Twily...do you wish I’d never come into your life?”

Twilight walked over and sat down next to her sister. “What brought that on? I literally wouldn’t even be alive if you weren’t! Let alone be who I am today.” She went and hugged Sunset, feeling her stiffen beneath the embrace. “Sunny, we’re sisters. I’m always going to be here for you, just like you’ve always been there for me.”

At that point, there was a knock at the door. “I’m going to go see who it is right now. Do you think you’re up for visitors?” The words went unspoken: Except if it’s Pinkie?

Sunset shook her head and gave her sister a look of fear and it nearly brought Twilight to tears to see her much stronger sister brought this low.

I should hate you for this, Pinkie, Twilight thought to herself as she got up and headed towards the door, but I know it’s not your fault. Still…. She opened it, seeing their parents standing there.

“Twily, how is she?” Velvet asked.

“She probably could use both of you right now, Mom, Dad,” Twilight said, opening the door and letting them in. “I take it you two are the only ones here?” the teen asked, and it was instantly clear who she was referring to.

“She thought it would be best to talk to the other victim in this situation,” Night said, pointedly reminding his daughter about that. His nieces had told them about her reaction and while he was glad that she moved to protect her sister, the violence wasn’t needed.

Sunset saw them both and shrank in fear once more, that emotion turning into another round of tears as Velvet went over and comforted her older daughter.

Standing in the room, Princess Celestia dared to not move. She’d already been apprised of what had happened and while she reluctantly left the care of her daughter to Sunset’s adoptive parents, she felt it was more important to visit the one without parental assistance.

“Ah’m not sure this is a good idea, Princess,” Applejack said, the human girl looking at the princess with guarded eyes. Twilight – Celestia’s Twilight – had often commented that the earth mare Applejack could have either been Honesty or Loyalty due to her sincere and good nature, and it seemed that the human girl was much the same way, choosing to be here with her friend in her time of need.

“Miss Applejack, I am here because I know she did nothing wrong,” the solar alicorn assured her. “Cadance told me everything and even before that I got to know Miss Pie and I know she is not capable of anything sinister.”

Reluctantly, Applejack let the alicorn in. As she walked in, she saw Pinkie, lying on the bed, looking frazzled and also huddled in a blanket, her own eyes red from tears and hair straight as hell. She looked at the princess and her heart caught in her throat.

“I heard about what happened, Pinkie,” Celestia said carefully. “I want you to know I don’t blame you. I know you love my daughter and I know she understands that. You weren’t to blame, and if anypony has anything to say otherwise, I promise you they will answer to me.”

“I don’t care about that,” Pinkie said in a strangled voice. “I just want Sunny to know that.”

Carefully, Celestia reached over with her wings and enveloped the cotton candy-haired girl in their folds, feeling the silent sobs of the distraught teen as she bawled against the mare’s chest, desperate to be forgiven. Eventually, Pinkie exhausted herself, and Celestia gently put the teen to bed.

“Please, take care of her,” the monarch told Applejack. “I know you will, but….”

The blonde nodded. “Yeah, Ah know what you’re going to say, Princess. Ah would no matter what – we may just be crazy teens, but we’re crazy teens together.”

Canterlot Castle’s secondary ballroom was not nearly as opulent and grand as the main one, but considering the Allucinor infestation still festering there, this ballroom would have to do. The plan was for the secondary ballroom and the entire surrounding wing of the castle to serve as the area for the after-coronation reception party. The decision to expand the area in which the reception would be held came relatively at the last minute. Evidently, whoever was organizing the thing realized that the extra day before the coronation could be used to increase the amount of beings who would be able to attend the reception after. That was all well and good (wouldn’t want any of Equestria’s neighbors to feel left out), but for Raspberry Beryl, who was overseeing security in Shining Armor’s place, it was a logistical nightmare.

Currently, a number of different bars and catering companies that had been contracted to assist the castle staff in providing food and drink for the event were loading in as many additional supplies as they could. Razz did her best to ignore all of the frantic hustle and bustle to focus on her conversation with the member of the Hooves in front of her.

“We’ll have guards posted at every doorway, positioned to cover all angles of each room,” the Hoof said. “Additionally, the Castellan is placing a few Hooves among the wait staff.”

“Excellent, thank you Lentando,” Razz said, glancing around at the myriad of ponies pushing carts full of every kind of food and drink to their various destinations. Razz nodded to them and asked, “What about the contract ponies.”

“I’ve personally vetted every catering, serving and alcohol distribution company the crown has contracted, along with their employees,” Lentando Fury said with a reassuring smile.

“You’re a lifesaver. Thanks again, Lentando!” Razz earnestly exclaimed. “I think that will be all for now.”

“By your leave, Archmagus,” Lentando finished, bowing slightly before departing.

With that taken care of, it was possible that Razz would actually get a few minutes break before her meeting with….

“Archmagus Beryl!”

Ugh, what now? Razz thought, her face betraying none of her annoyance as she turned and greeted the approaching pony. It was Lemon Ricotta, one of her subordinates in the Guild and currently the Guild’s liaison to SIREN.

“Adm. Loam is unable to make your scheduled meeting,” Lemon explained, appearing somewhat frazzled. “Apparently, Adm. Tumblehome requested an impromptu meeting with all Naval brass, and it’s expected to go on for quite a while.”

“Dammit,” Razz cursed.

With how quickly the new SIREN initiative was growing in notoriety among all branches of Equestria’s armed forces, her associates in the Guild had wanted to get a piece of that pie. Despite her close familiarity with Sable and the triplets, this needed to be as official as possible. Unfortunately, there was no way she was going to be able to push back her meeting with Sable. Her schedule was full for the rest of the day well into the evening.

“Go find out if one of Adm. Loam’s subordinates can attend in his stead,” Razz ordered.

Lemon Ricotta nodded and immediately departed. When Ricotta was gone, Razz allowed herself to deflate a little, letting out a long sigh. If she understood SIREN’s chain of command correctly, that meant that the person who would be meeting her in Sable’s place was her. Razz didn’t understand why Adagio hated her so much, but she had been comfortable enough simply keeping her distance until now. Something would definitely have to be done about it if the Guild and SIREN were to continue working together.

A loud clatter startled Razz out of her thoughts. She turned to the source of the noise and saw a mortified looking young stallion standing over what appeared to be a violently murdered cardboard box. It belatedly occurred to Razz that the red liquid puddling around the box was not blood, but a vivid red wine. Clearly it had fallen from the very precariously stacked cart the stallion had been pushing.

“Ugh, I leave you alone for five minutes and you already screw up?!” A harsh male voice rasped. “That was fifty bits a bottle, you total moron. You make me want a lobotomy!”

A middle-aged stallion walked up and surveyed the scene. He was well-dressed in a white tuxedo, but it was offset a little by the five o’clock shadow, bad mustache and scars on his face. Razz had to remind herself that he was in all likelihood vetted by the Hooves, otherwise she would have for sure classified him as “shady”.

Of course, I know better than most that not all ponies who look completely evil actually are.

“I-I’m so sorry, sir!” the younger stallion said, his ears flat against his head.

“Don’t be sorry. Be less of a constant disappointment,” said the older stallion, grimacing at the mess on the floor as if he could see all of the wasted bits washing away with the wine and broken glass. “You know this is coming out of yer paycheck, right?”

“Um… you’re not paying me.”

“Eeeeexactly. Now, maybe you can reflect on why that is while you’re cleaning this up.”

The younger stallion nodded. “Yes sir. Right away sir!”

As the younger stallion fled searching for cleaning implements, his apparent employer turned towards Razz, and when he saw her staring at the little scene, he tried to give her a smile despite his clear frustration.

“Interns, am I right?” he asked. Razz didn’t know what else to do but smile and nod, and she was about to move on when the stallion’s expression suddenly changed to one of recognition. “Wait a minute… you’re Raspberry Beryl, aren’t you?”

Another smile, another nod, and to Razz’s surprise, the other pony’s face lit up like a Hearth’s Warming tree. “I knew it!” The stallion then skittered towards her with remarkable speed in a way that made Razz think of a spider more than a pony, and before she knew it her hoof was being shaken with gusto. “It is such an honor to finally meet you, Miss Beryl. I am a huge fan of your work!”

Once she had a moment to process what was happening, Razz gave the strange pony a much more genuine smile. “Oh, thank you! Y’know, that’s actually really refreshing to hear. Most of the time when I’m recognized in public, ponies say things like ‘Oh, aren’t you the descendant of that insane old usurper king?’”

The other pony frowned at that, and his eye twitched slightly. “Don’t heed their words, Miss Beryl. Faithless fools, the lot of ‘em!” Still holding her hoof, the stallion leaned closer, and Razz could smell the alcohol on him. “Not like me. I get you, Raspberry Beryl.”

“Please, call me Razz. Everyone does,” she said, pulling back to get reclaim some space from this zealous pony. “I have to say, it’s not often I get to meet a fan! Truth be told, I don’t exactly have very many.”

At that, the other pony smiled wide. “Oh but you do, Miss Beryl. There are ponies like me all over Equestria who are eagerly waiting to see you change our land for the better!”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Razz couldn’t help but give a humble laugh. “I’m not looking to change the world. Just looking to live the best I can in it!”

“Most ponies who change the world don’t set out to do it. It just happens because it’s their destiny,” the stallion said, beginning to return to his work. “C’mon, Razz! Have a little faith in your destiny!”

“Well, I suppose I wouldn’t want to disappoint my fans!” Razz said with another laugh, about to return to her own work before pausing to ask, “Hey, I didn’t get your name, Mr….”

The scarred, mustached stallion simply spread his forelegs and said, “I’m just a barkeep with faith in our destiny, Razz!”

Razz turned and headed towards her next task with an amused smile. It really does take all sorts….

“…so, we’re already running late for the rehearsal, and who shows up but Silver Chimes.” Octy rolled her eyes as her two dining companions stifled their chuckles. “And nobody in the orchestra has time to really give him the once over, except the moment the conductor gets to the woodwinds, what happens? This!” She proceeded to blow a raspberry. “We all look over and somepony – I think it was Brass Beauty – simply goes and says ‘Chimes, that’s not a flute, that’s a plunger you’re trying to blow into!”

Blu and Tavi burst into laughter. After the wary beginning, things had quickly gotten quite chummy between the three, much to the waitstaff’s confusion. Blu himself marveled at how much musical terminology the two Octavias could pass between one another, and while he himself understood less than half of it, he was content to just sit and listen.

“By the way, Blu,” said Octavia, taking a sip out of her champagne glass, “You never mentioned how you came to know Miss Melody here.”

“Oh, um, did I never tell you that story?” He replied, knowing full well he hadn’t. Namely because he hadn’t wanted Octy to be worried – he was just one stallion who had gone up against a whole flock of murderous griffin mercenaries who had already killed two guards and a siren. He’d taken some minor wounds – a simple healing spell fixed that – but Octy wouldn’t be like most ponies who would believe that he’d simply hidden in a thorny bush just to be in the area so ‘Auntie Celestia would give him another title’ as the “official” investigation said.

“Well,” said Tavi, not noticing Blu’s intentional hesitation, “he pretty much is the entire reason I’m even still here.”

“Is that so?” asked Octavia, leaning in on her hooves, “I feel this is something I should have been told.”

Sighing, Blu conceded. “To make a long story short, a particularly bothersome Kitsune Prince named Fujitsu decided that he was going to take the lovely lady here for his own. So, he hired a bunch of griffin mercenaries to kidnap her after finding out her schedule and they ambushed her guard escort.”

“They also hit me with some kind of sedative,” added Tavi, shuddering at the memory. “Then I got shoved in a bag. I think that’s when Blu showed up and took them all out – I honestly don’t recall what happened between getting stuffed in the bag and then waking up to see Blu, though…” she sighed, hugging herself in the recollection that she was, indirectly, the reason three ponies died pointless deaths. “I’m just glad he was there – didn’t you say you were only even around because you were coming from the music hall?”

“Yes, coming from one of Octy’s rehearsals, actually,” he said, “She’s the one commissioned to write the backing music for Sunset’s coronation tomorrow.”

“Are you really?” Tavi asked with surprise, “That’s so amusing! I mean, I jokingly suggested to Sunset that I should write the music for her coronation but she said it would be best left to a professional. I guess in a way I wrote it regardless?”

Octy, who had been lost in something back when the topic of discussion was that griffin attack, suddenly snapped back to the present. “Huh? Oh, yes, quite.” It had been something in the way Tavi had talked about Blu saving her, something underneath that hinted…well, she could tease Blu about it later. Now she was presented with a curious, unique opportunity. “In fact, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, maybe you could come with me after lunch and take a look over the music? Everypony is saying I need somepony else to give me assistance and who better than myself?”

“That sounds like a grand idea,” said Blu, glancing up at the nearby clock and sighing. “Sadly, while I’ll gladly escort you both to the Music Hall, I have to go back to being the complete embarrassment of the royal family in public and can’t join you for the melodies you’ll likely make.”

“You’ve seen me perform often enough; I’m sure you’ve already gotten quite a concert experience from me,” said Tavi with a smile, “and obviously you’re close with my counterpart here, so while it does sound dreadful you have to go back to being, well, a jerk, the fact you’re willing to do it for the safety of every, uh, pony here really is magnificent.”

As the trio finished up their lunch and stood to head to the music hall, it was all laid out in concrete in Octy’s head that there was blatant chemistry between these two. Oh, Pavane, thought Octy sadly of her lost friend, you always did want me and Blu to be a couple. Maybe you might get your wish in a bit of a different way.

“Turn to, ladies, turn to!” shouted Adagio, in full Old Man mode to the motley crew of Equestrian SIRENs in front of her. “I want to see you all push yourselves to the limits!” At the moment she had command of the situation, making sure the ATG was working out, while Sonata was giving a lecture to the rest of the candidates on what they would be doing. Aria had chosen to stick around with her older sister, in the event something came up.

So far, however, the only thing that had come up was the groans and whimpers of the ATG members as they went through the cycle. While they were in their physical primes as ponies and that had translated over to their human forms, the movement of muscles was slightly different and that they had yet to get used to.

“I’m trying!” said Moonblazer, clearly not used to doing one-arm push ups. “But I got my medals in flight combat, not–”

“What’s that?” Adagio walked right up to where Moonblazer was and got to the ground, looking at the batpony-turned-human in the eyes, “You thought that pile of past medals exempts you from basic training? Well, congratulations – you just earned double duty!

The look of shock on the former flyer’s face was enough to make it clear Dagi’s order had hit home, and satisfied the SIREN field commander. As Adagio walked back to where she could see the other SIREN candidates, she noted that Aria was talking with a member of the Guild – in particular, their liaison, Magus Lemon Ricotta.

“Greetings, Learned One,” the senior SIREN commented, hoping she got the term of address right. “What’s the occasion?”

“Good morning, Captain,” Ricotta replied. “Your presence is requested by Archmagus Beryl.”

The look on Dagi’s face visibly darkened as her mouth became a hard line. “I was under the impression that Adm. Loam would be attending the follow up meeting with…the Archmagus…”

Aria, noting that the last words had been seemingly forced out of Dagi’s mouth, frowned. “Yeah, well, he had to meet with the brass regarding SIREN placements in the crowd to prevent potential issues. Since you’re next in command, that means it’s your job, sis.”

“Doesn’t mean I have to like it,” Adagio noted. “I don’t suppose I can delegate this to you, can I?”

“I have weapons training with the candidates in ten minutes, remember? Soni’s already with the other candidates. And unfortunately, we didn’t bring the Master Chief along with us for this jaunt, so that means you have to deal with Razz.”

“Great,” Adagio grumbled.

“Follow me, please,” Ricotta gestured, choosing not to get involved. If there was bad blood against the terrifying human leader of Princess Sunset’s SIREN guard and the Archmagus, the only pony who was legally allowed to wield the terrifying power of King Sombra, Ricotta diplomatically would have preferred not to be in the middle of such an argument.

“Have fun, Captain,” Aria teased. “Remember: we’re doing this for Her Highness’ sake.”

Dagi merely grunted in acknowledgement as she followed the other pony off to her meeting with the embodiment of living sin itself.

Soaring above the air and to the delight of the crowds below, the Wonderbolts performed their tricks for all to see. Given that the crowds were far too large to simply place in the Canterlot Coliseum, the flight team had simply decided to use the entirety of the Canterlot sky as their metaphorical canvas, performing tricks for the city to see.

Seated at a special booth reserved for nobility, both Raritys and the human Rainbow Dash watched. The human Rainbow cheered as much as the ponies did, excited to see her counterpart perform tricks and aerobatics that simply couldn’t be done by even the most advanced fighter jets.

On the other hand, however, the human Rarity watched with mild interest, as it was clear her mind was elsewhere.

“Bit for your thought, dear?” the older Rarity said to another, as the unicorn placed a comforting hoof on the teen’s hand.

“Is it that obvious my mind is elsewhere?”

“I can tell you’re concerned about the news we received this morning about Princess Sunset and your Pinkie,” the unicorn commented. “You could not in good conscience be a good friend if you weren’t worried.”

“I’m genuinely disquieted about what this will do to both of them,” Rarity admitted. “Granted, it was clear that this wasn’t Pinkie’s fault, but from what I was told, Sunset reacted...badly. And now with the stress of the coronation tomorrow already on her mind, I just….” She frowned. “I hate seeing them like this, I truly do.”

“I quite understand. But some things must be worked out for the betterment of themselves. If they are truly meant to be together, then they will get past this together. If not, then you will need to be there to pick up the pieces. It is hard, I know. But take it from a mare who has been around the block once or twice: Sometimes generosity is letting somepony make the choices for themselves, instead of making it for them.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I know.” The unicorn gave her younger counterpart her most dazzling smile. “But you will someday. That, my dear girl, is wisdom – and that’s one thing a Rarity, regardless of world, cannot do without.”

“…and that’s the last of the Mage Guild’s concerns regarding the new SIREN program,” concluded Razz. At the moment, the two were at Guild Headquarters, in Razz’ office there. Though she mainly operated in Ponyville, as the Archmagus of the Mage Guild, she still had an office here in Canterlot. “We’re very much interested in expanding the Guild’s capabilities, and while I don’t think we could benefit from a special warfare program like SIREN, having some of our best candidates try out for SIREN would be the best for both Equestria and the Special Initiative,” Razz stated. “Now, do you have any questions on my proposal, Captain?”

“Actually, I do,” Dagi commented, leaning over the desk. “How the hell did you manage to get this gig, given how useless you can be?”

Razz looked hard at Adagio. She’d taken enough of this girl’s shit. “Captain...no, Adagio,” began Razz, “are you really still pissed off at me for being completely out of my element when not one but both worlds we know were threatened by total assholes?”

“I don’t think it was threatened by total assholes…unless you’re including yourself among that count.”

Exercising the patience of a saint, Razz merely took another deep sigh before following up. “Okay, I’d ask a rephrased question about if you hate me, which clearly you already do.”

“No shit.”

“So much for the military professionalism you’re supposed to display,” the unicorn admonished.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“Exactly what I said. Because if you ask me, I think you’ve taken yourself so seriously that you’ve lost sight of what you are.”

Adagio’s eyes narrowed. “You know damn well how me and my sisters were originally raised, practically since birth, to be illegal child soldiers in service to Canada. And even though thanks to Queen Faust our own personal histories have been completely rewritten, that doesn’t change the fact we are things that should not exist.”

“And yet here you are. Because at no point did you acknowledge the why of all of that. Why Queen Faust made it so you were never a part of that SIREN in the new timeline.”

“Oh, then please, all knowing bitch, please elucidate as to what I am, then.”

“Answer this first – why do you hate me?”

“Because you’re a pain in the ass?”

“That might be true, but that’s not a valid reason. Ari’s got just as much of an acerbic nature, and you clearly love your sister. I’m not asking you to treat me the same, but that still doesn’t answer the question: why do you hate me?”

The SIREN commander raised a finger to start listing off other reasons, except she found that they were not forthcoming. She hated Razz, but now upon being asked, she couldn’t justify it.

“I thought so. You forgot that even though in the human world I appear roughly the same age as you, I am still a mare in my mid-twenties. Which is what I’m getting at – for all your insane special combat training, you are still a teenager. You got all pissy at my very existence around you because I showed up powerless and you saw me as a pure liability. And even though by now you should be well aware that I had no say in getting thrown into your bra-ridden hell that is the human world, you still think of me as a useless burden you have to contend with.”

“So you’re a little more useful than usual. Big fucking whoop. You’re still a useless bitch to me.”

Razz’s eyes narrowed. “In case you forgot, Captain, as Archmagus, I am the head of one of Equestria’s service branches. Which means I hold the same rank equivalency as Adm. Tumblehome – and thus I outrank Adm. Loam. Which, of course, means I definitely outrank you. So unless you want to be the first human in history court-martialed by the Navy, I would hold your tongue if I were you.”

Razz got up from her seat and walked over to Adagio, who grew tense as the pony approached. “Let’s get something clear here, Capt. Dazzle. Even though I might revert to a teen in my human form, at the end of the day, I am an adult. You, on the other hoof, though you’re a very capable individual, are still just a teenager. I’m not the one who needs to grow up – I’ve done that already. You, on the other hoof….”

“Are you done, Archmagus?” Adagio hissed through clenched teeth.

Razz merely shook her head sadly; it was clear this wasn’t going as well as she hoped. “Yes, I’m done. I just hope you pay heed to my words, Captain. You’re dismissed.”

The military officer departed as quickly as she arrived, and Razz conjured herself some tea. That was not fun, she thought to herself. I just hope that Ari and Soni can straighten her out.

Octavia Melody stood upon the precipice, nodding her head in time with her conducting stick, as the orchestra bellowed the umpteenth-numbered revision of what could very well be her magnum opus. After all the screaming, the nagging, and the near-defenestration of certain instruments at one point, it was all finally coming together.

As the music reached its crescendo and ultimate climax, Octavia Melody stood off to the side and applauded. It had been a unique experience helping her own counterpart develop music on this level – Tavi had joked with Sunset about writing her coronation music, but it hadn’t been serious as for all her musical skills, actually writing music was something she didn’t have much experience with. But with the orchestra playing through parts and Tavi giving her input – change the pitch here, a rearrangement of notes there – and it had been far easier than she’d believed. As both she and Fluttershy were starting a band, it was an experience that might prove beneficial down the road. All in all, it had been an extremely nice day.

“Hey, what up, ponies?” suddenly came a disturbingly familiar voice. Tavi snapped her head toward the back stage door and in walked an off-white unicorn wearing a pair of fancy sunglasses and a two-tone blue mane with loud, pronounced electric blue streaks.

“Ah, yeah, DJ P0N3 in da house!”

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