• 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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Bonus Content - GAOA Book 1 Chapter 24: Culture Shock Therapy (Original Psychotavi Draft Version)

The following is the original incarnation of GAOA Book 1, Chapter 24 - initially written September 28, 2015 - before several changes were made to the plot - specifically how Tavi's psychological problems were being defined - and required several scene rewrites so she was not out of character, so to speak. Originally those changes influenced chapters 24 though 26, but for some reason I did not replace chapter 24 with the revised content at the same time I did for chapters 25 and 26. As Tavi is radically different in the original version of that chapter, I've decided to preserve it as-is to show a glimpse of what was going on behind the scenes when 7DSJ Books 3 and 4 were still being written, and Book 5 wasn't even in the cards for another few years, so any editing mistakes this older draft may still have will not be corrected.

The most important thing, above all else, is that the scope of Faust's changes were significantly less than they ended up being. The only SIRENs who were still alive when all was said and done were the triplets - Sunny Side and Evergreen weren't in the story and all the other SIREN members involved would have stayed dead. Additionally, Faust would have only reset people's memories into thinking that the triplets had always been the cousins of Twilight, Octavia, and eventually Sunset, but complete restructuring of their personal histories wouldn't have happened. Essentially, they all went to sleep after the events where Sunset rose from death as an alicorn, and when they all woke up, they were in a new house where Sunset's old one was, the triplets were now their cousins (and actually had been explicitly appointed by Faust to be Sunset's new guardians, taking their job seriously while also trying to be normal teenagers), and that was pretty much it. Obviously, in the final version, not much has changed regarding the triplets in terms of taking their job of protecting Sunset to extremes, much to everybody else's chagrin.

Another key detail is that 'Psychotavi' as we called the nature of Octavia's psychotic problems was not entirely treated as her having a completely different personality within herself - she simply had episodes where she turned into a massive, colossal bitch, due to exposure to Equestrian magic and prolonged proximity to whatever Divine Right was doing in his summoning ritual triggering her equestrian genetics, for she was originally always the fourth scion. We later made the decision to completely render her psychotic issues into a manifestation of her unborn twin; Melody, who was the true fourth scion with inherited genealogy to Sombra but was absorbed by Octavia in the womb, only awakened after Sunset purged The Vibe from Tavi with magic forced through her body.

If you would like to compare this original draft with the finalized version which became Book 1 Chapter 28, here's a link for your convenience:

Golden Age of Apocalypse

Chapter 24 - Culture Shock Therapy

The speed of light is calculated to be 671 million miles per hour. With that figure in mind, one can only begin to understand the absolute speed with which the sun rocketed above the horizon into the morning sky, giving Luna barely enough time to prevent the moon from being consumed by the burning nuclear space furnace.

CELESTIAAAAAAAA!” shouted Luna, immediately storming up to her sister’s room in a huff. “We agreed that during this time of year, you would give me at least six minutes for a buffer between the moon going down and you raising the sun!”

“Oh, did I not give that to you?” replied Celestia, flustered. “I thought I was running late, sorry.”

Luna just shook her head. “Celly, I know today’s a big day for you, for all of us, but for everypony’s sake try not to get us all incinerated - least of all Sunset’s family.”

“You mean her other family. We’re her family too, are we not?”

“I MEAN ALL OF US!” Luna gasped.

Celestia blushed. “Yes, that would be bad.”

Sitting on the couch in the living room, Sunset Shimmer, the newest alicorn and soon-to-be princess of Equestria, was pensive, her chin resting on her templed hands. The culmination of a lifetime’s worth of achievement – especially after she’d abandoned the dream of ever becoming one – now stared her right in the face. And as she looked outside to see the falling leaves of autumn as the sun began its swing towards the southern hemisphere, Sunset idly wondered if she could control the perpetual nuclear detonation 93 million miles away, just as her other mother – the closest thing she had to a biological mother – did back in her native dimension.

Fear. That’s it, isn’t it? she thought. I’m afraid. Afraid of how both my mothers will react once they finally meet. Afraid of how the others will take meeting their counterparts; in retrospect, I should not have held off telling them for so long. Afraid of how Twily’s going to react when she meets Twi – oh, that’s going to be complete and utter hell. She looked down to see her reflection in the glassy coffee table, and gave her mirror image a smile, as if the returned function would boost her spirits. It didn’t. Ironically, the last thing I’m afraid of is being coronated. After everything I’ve been through, it’ll be a snap.

“Sis?” Sunset looked up to see an all-too-familiar figure descend the stairs: her sister, Twilight Sparkle. The girl who had been her practical obverse since they day they met; from the very beginning, they’d been virtual siblings. And now, for roughly a month and a half, it had been outright, due to her adoption by Twilight’s family. She was a fountain of strength of Sunset, just as Twilight claimed vice versa, and Sunset couldn’t picture her life any other way now.

“Decided to dress the same as me?” Sunset laughed. Sure enough, Twilight was wearing an exact copy of what the humanized alicorn was wearing: white-and-black plaid long sleeve shirt, black varsity-style sweater, gray skirt, socks and black skater shoes.

“Both me and Tavi,” Twilight said with a sunny smile, though it was a strained one. Around the time of Sunset’s adoption, the girl who had also been a virtual sister to her, her now-cousin Octavia Melody, had inexplicably changed, becoming darker and moodier. Sunset had at first thought it was the delayed results of the Vibe, the drug that had affected Twilight earlier in the year, but that turned out not to be the case. Octavia had grown more distant and moody and their arguments were starting to turn into outright fights. Sunset couldn’t see the cousin she loved in the hateful violet eyes of the person she saw now and it worried her greatly.

“GODDAMMIT!” she heard the scream from above. “Goddamn stupid bag! Shoulda bought a new one, but nooooo….” Octavia, dressed the same as the other two, came trudging down the stairs, her face in the scowl that it seemed to be all-too-often in as of late. Sure enough, the side of her weekend travel bag was torn open, and while nothing was slipping out, it looked like it had seen better days.

“Do you want me to gen up another one for you?” Sunset offered.

“What I want is for you to get the fuck out of my life, you God-forsaken freak!” Octavia hissed with a ferocity enough to make Sunset flinch. A couple of days ago, Sunset had watched a Japanese movie about a curse or a ring or whatever – it was something that Rainbow wanted Fluttershy to translate and Fluttershy had fainted virtually every other scene – but the look of ferocity on the monster’s face – a yurei, Fluttershy had called it in Japanese, Sunset recalled – was the same as what was on Octavia’s face at the moment.

“Look, all I off—”

“I don’t care what you offered, unless it’s to go play in traffic!”

“Tavi, behave!” Twilight said, interjecting herself between the two other girls. “Sunny, please create another bag for her upstairs. Tavi, please head back up and switch bags, okay?”

“Fine. For you and that’s the only reason.” Just as angry as the fury had come, she trumped upstairs, headed back for her room.

Twilight sighed. “Sorry. I…I don’t know what’s gotten into her the past few weeks. I know Mom and Dad are talking to our aunt and uncle about having her get some counseling, but….” She sat down next to Sunset, the worry clear in her teary eyes. “If I was this bad back then? I don’t know how you did it.”

“I survived,” Sunset said simply.

There was a ding, and the elevator opened, with three heavily armed girls in camouflage uniforms departing from it. Given that the house was merely a two-story mansion, it seemed unusual that it would have an elevator, but the truth was that the lift arrived from below, not above. Sunset recalled that these weren’t the same uniforms she’d seen them in earlier, but an entirely different camouflage design. All three were dragging huge, sturdy cases designed to take a beating - “military regulation” was the term that immediately came to mind.

“That should do it,” Adagio Dazzle said, as she pulled the last of the cases from the lift, then looking to her sisters Aria Blaze and Sonata Dusk. “Okay, make sure our seabags are packed and meet back here in ten minutes for Pre-Op.”

“Roger that,” Sonata said with a grin. Aria merely nodded and both ladies ran upstairs, their boots tromping in time.

“Dagi, what’s that?” Sunset asked. “These the new uniforms you were asking about?”

Adagio stood at attention while speaking to her cousin and liegelady. “Rarity brought them over last night. Design is based on the US Army ACU, though the pattern is standard MultiCam – she had some trouble getting it for us, but it didn’t cost too much. Hopefully the REN can reimburse our OPBUD, and—”

“English, please,” Sunset said as she got up from her seat.

Adagio smiled. “Sorry, your grace, I forget that you probably haven’t memorized the terms manual I gave you last week an—”

“Dagi, not now, please?”

Adagio sighed. “Look, your grace—”

“I have a name, you know.”

“We’re on the clock right now and we agreed to this. I was stupid to let you override me last time we deployed, and look what it cost us. This time it’s different, and the stakes are higher – and my sisters and I will not let our family and friends be in danger. So we’re going to do things my way, and I don’t want arguments. If – and that’s for me to decide – if we’re safe enough amongst the Roman-era weapons and pre-historic armor, then I’ll dial it down. But right now? No. I’m more than just your cousin, your grace, I’m also a military professional – and the military professional in me is terrified shitless of the shit that could happen if some freak like the one we fought two weeks ago were to pop up within striking range of, say, Twily?”

Sunset’s eyes narrowed in anger. “That’s not going to happen.”

“You’re right it won’t – because the first thing that gets that close that I can’t identify gets an armor-piercing, anti-personnel brain implant.”

Twilight joined them. “What’s going on, Dagi?”

“Crown business, Twily,” Adagio replied. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Oh, her you call by name?” snarked Sunset.

“Have you given her, or any of your court, titles I should be aware of?”

“I don’t have a court,” Sunset sighed, feeling a headache coming on.

“Funny, her highness Princess Twilight said that her Elements of Harmony are her court.”

“Yes, but she doesn’t use their titles unless it’s in a formal situation and they don’t use hers unless it’s the same!” Sunset groaned. “Please, you’re giving me a headache, okay?”

Adagio looked at Sunset stonefaced for a minute or two. She then grinned and said, “Gotcha.”

“I’m soooooo going to kill you.”

“I’m the one with the submachine gun, Sunny.”

“I don’t need one,” she said as the two girls hugged.

“Pinks, you’re insane,” flatly said Applejack.

Come on, AJ!” said Pinkie in response. “It’s gonna be a giant, big welcoming party and Sunset deserves the best!! Therefore, we have to make the Marzipan Mascarpone Meringue Madness!”

AJ shook her head. “Pinkie, do you even remember the trouble that cake caused everypony?”

Pinkie rolled her eyes. “Yes, but that was because Sugarcube Corner is tiny compared to this place!” To emphasize, Pinkie reared and spread her arms wide, encompassing the entire breadth of the royal kitchens - the total area of its footprint being larger than that of Sugarcube Corner in its entirety.

“You girls are overthinking this!” chided Rainbow, who suddenly appeared with a tray filled with lightly fried pastries covered in powdered sugar. Offering up the confections, Pinkie and Applejack took one each and sampled them.

“MMMMM!” hummed Pinkie appreciatively.

“Yeah, these are really good,” agreed AJ, “what are these?”

“They’re called sopaipillas,” explained Rainbow with a hint of pride. “Admittedly I’m not as good a cook as either of you two, but these pastries are one of the few things I can reliably make well, so I figure I’d offer them up as an option for dessert for Sunny’s arrival dinner.”

Pinkie shrugged. “Sorry, Dashie, but I still think-”

“DON’T YOU DARE START UP AGAIN!” howled the desperate looking head chef of the royal kitchens: Sugar Cookie. “I’m sorry, but you two have been arguing over who should do what as part of the dinner we’re supposed to be making for over an hour and it’s driving all of us in the culinary staff crazy!”

“But-” tried to interject Rainbow, but a hoof from Sugar Cookie silenced her.

“Look, girls, if it will make you all just stop bothering us, we can make all these things. We are the royal cooking staff after all. But we need to get started right away and….”

“Now we’re just kinda gettin’ in the way, huh?” finished Applejack with an embarrassed grin. “Yeah, we probably should be headin’ to meet with everypony else, girls, we’ve made enough of a mess here.”

A few minutes later, a few cars pulled up in front of the house. The first one was Rainbow Dash’s SUV, something she was still getting used to after learning that it was formerly part of the SIRENs’ military equipment. Somehow Sunset’s freaky-deaky-pony grandmother had changed things so that she’d gotten it at a used car auction, but it was a relatively brand-new Nissan Rogue, not exactly something that you’d see at the Honest Smile’s Used Car Lot.

“You need help carrying anything, Flutters?” Rainbow asked, pulling her gym bag out of the back storage.

“No, I’ll be fine, Rainbow.” Fluttershy pulled a dainty Hello Kitty luggage bag out of the back, then clicked the side, lowering the wheels. “Thank you, though.”

As she closed the hatch and clicked the lock and alarm on the car, Rainbow said idly, “This is gonna be weird: we’re gonna be the first humans to travel to another world!”

“Oh, but I thought that the triplets went with Sunny to…Equus? a couple of weeks ago,” Fluttershy interjected.

“Yeah, maybe, but that was just the warm-up. Now the main show’s comin’, and the ponies are gonna have to get a load of the awesomeness that is yours truly!”

Rainbow briefly knocked on the door, which was answered by Sonata. “Hey guys!” she said with a smile. “C’mon in. Need help with the bag, Flutters?” The chiffon-haired girl shook her head and then both visitors came in.

“New BDUs?” Rainbow asked.

“BDUs are a type of battle dress,” Sonata said with authority, “but these are different. We don’t have a name for them yet, but we’re working on it.”

“Can I have a pair? Just ‘cause they look awesome on me, of course.”

“You’ll have to ask Dagi, to see if she’s willing to clear them for civilian use,” Sonata said as she motioned for them to set the bags down. “Then you’ll have to ask Sunny if she’ll authorize it – she is our boss, after all. Lastly, then you’ll have to have Rarity look at iss—”

“Okay, okay, forget I asked. Sheesh, didn’t think it was going to be that much of a headache.”

The two walked inside, where Aria was gathering up the needed supplies – or at least what the SIRENs felt they needed. Rainbow counted at least four crates with the words WEAPONS SYSTEMS emblazoned on it. “Seems like you’re packing some serious firepower.”

“Not enough,” Aria grunted, “but Sunny won’t let us prepare for the worst.”

“Do you really think there’s going to be danger?” Fluttershy yelped.

“I always prepare for the worst case scenario,” the middle triplet replied with a tone that put shivers down the spines of her friends and almost made Fluttershy pass out. Seeing that, she softened her tone and added, “It’s to protect my family and friends, the ones I care about. So if I have to be a haridelle to do so, I’ll be that.”

“Haridelle?” both Rainbow and Fluttershy said at the same time.

Aria grinned. “Slang in Equestria; means bitch or something like that – but it’s also old French for nag. I thought it was funny, so I kept it in mind.”

Meanwhile, Sonata thought for a second, then said, “I think I’d better go check on Spike and Tavi. They’re being awfully quiet, which means they’re probably at each other’s throats again.”

“Oh, my,” Fluttershy murmured. “Is Tavi still having problems?

Sonata somberly nodded and wordlessly headed upstairs.

“Do we want to even know?” Rainbow asked.

“Let’s just say that if it wasn’t for the fact that Tavi’s family?” Aria commented. “We would have dealt with it already – whether or not Sunny would have approved.”

“I don’t like this,” Sable Loam said as he threw his bags into the back of his car, making room for the other luggage. It was bad enough that he’d already been through a situation like no other – a battle that made his military days seem like a walk in the park – but now she was headed to support that strange girl – that strange alien girl – on her trip back to her homeworld. Granted, Sunset Shimmer seemed like a very normal person otherwise, and those other girls that were with her far more competent at soldering than many he’d served with before – and that itself was a horrific situation – but this whole thing bothered him on a scale he hadn’t comprehended before.

“You don’t have to like it,” Celestia said with an assuring smile as she placed her own suitcase in the back. “You just have to be there for me, okay?”

“Yes, because we’re going to a land of talking miniature horses and magic and for God’s sake I sound like I’m on drugs just mentioning that, hon,” he noted.

“How do you think I felt when I first found out?” she chuckled. “I spent the night at my sister’s place getting drunk off my ass, then had to spend the week after not only making sure that Sunset stayed out of trouble, but covering for the alien that disguised herself as Twilight, as well.” Celestia then explained in brief the situation that had arisen a year prior; Sable listened with interest that soon morphed into worry and then outright shock.

“And you still let her run around, as dangerous as she was?” Sable gasped.

“She was confused, in a lot of ways,” a new voice said. Both turned to look at Luna as she got out of her car; they’d been so engrossed in their conversation that they never heard her approach. “She needed a lot of structure at the time, but we didn’t find that out until after and when Velvet was willing to take a chance on her. I could say that we did it out of the goodness of our hearts, but the truth was, we did it because that alien princess asked us to.”

“No offense, ladies, but that doesn’t seem like a valid enough reason,” he said as Luna passed him her bag.

“You’re right, it’s not. But we took that chance anyway – and it was Velvet and her family that took the bigger chance and look what happened. Sunset died – literally died – to save the rest of us from a horrific fate, Sable,” Luna said, her eyes taking on a hard edge. “So excuse me if I’m just a bit protective about her – she is essentially family now.”

“Easy, easy, Luna – I’m only stating plain facts. Honestly, I’m just being analytical,” Sable said, hoping to defuse the woman’s ire. “Truth be told, I’d like to get to know those three girls. I want to find out where they were trained and by who. I have a funny feeling that knowing that might just come in handy.”

“Touche,” Luna admitted. “As it is, truthfully, you’re not the only one. I think that once we get there, Tia’s going to want some words with that alien princess that caused all this mess in the first place. I probably will as well.”

“Luna, I thought we agreed to drop it. Sunset asked us to; in fact, she said ‘Twilight’ - still not sure if that’s really her name, by the way – was only doing her job.”

“Are you sure about this, Dad?” Shining asked.

Night nodded reluctantly. “Sunny might say it’s safe, but the truth is, we just went through an experience that no human has ever gone through bef—”

“Night, so help me if you’re having second thoughts about our daughter,” Velvet started to growl.

Night put his arm around his wife in a pacifying intent. “Of course not. It’s just that we’re headed to another world, and we don’t know how safe it is.”

“Sunny’s from that world and she wouldn’t let us be hurt,” Cadance replied, though the concerned look on her face belied the confidence in her words. Ever the lawyer, she worried about Night’s ad hoc plan and would it could mean for them. The truth was, none of them were diplomats and even though Sunset’s presence would easily smooth over things, there was also the matter of humanity itself to consider – it would not look good for mankind’s first representatives to this world to look like warmongers.

Velvet sensed her future daughter-in-law’s concerns and added, “Besides, the triplets are better prepared for this, dear. Honestly, they’re rather terrifying if it wasn’t for the fact that they’re with us. Plus, they’ve already been over, so they know what to expect.”

“Yes, but they can’t anticipate everything – no one can,” he countered. “And that’s why I’d rather have an ace in the hole. I don’t doubt that the triplets have trained for everything, or that Sunny has made sure that we’re protected. The fact is, for all I know we could be going to a place as safe as Britain...or as dangerous as Syria. We should be prepared.”

“Dad,” Shining reminded him, “if we use them, we could be in a lot of trouble.”

“I’d prefer that over someone I care about getting harmed...or worse.”

Shining then looked at his wife. “Thoughts?”

She sighed, then said, “Only if we carry them.” Looking to her in-laws, she said, “Sorry, but as far as I know you’re not qualified.”

“Fair enough,” Night grudgingly admitted, as Shining went into his bedroom to retrieve his and Cadance’s pistols.

“I don’t like this,” Velvet told her husband plainly.

“You can be mad all you want at me,” he told her, then looked to Cadance. “Both of you. But I’d rather all the anger in the world than to come back with a coffin because someone didn’t look out.”

“I still think you’re overreacting – someone as sweet as our daughter couldn’t have come from a world so wrong,” Velvet insisted.

“Then ask yourself this, Vel: as much as I love Sunny – why is our older daughter the most powerful thing on this world? And I mean that literally, not metaphorically. She can probably stop – or set off – a nuclear explosion just with her will. Hell, she killed a demon, then brought someone back to life...before dying herself and then coming back to life! These are Biblical situations we’re dealing with and I can’t even begin to wrap my head around them. All I can be is a father. And right now, my fatherly instincts tell me that I need to protect her. So that’s what I’m going to do, however I can.”

“I don’t recall having to be one of the first ponies to actually meet another entirely different sentient species as part of my job,” said Twilight Velvet.

“It’s not, Mom,” replied Twilight Sparkle, “for better or worse it originally was supposed to be just mine, but then…” The second-newest alicorn took a deep breath, steadying herself to explain matters yet again. She couldn’t help but facehoof anyway - having to explain to her entire gathered immediate family was super-awkward already. “Then Sunset Shimmer ended up getting put into foster care with the human world’s version of our family, then was formally adopted by them after the events of some evil bastard nearly destroyed the space-time continuum and almost released a demonic force by accident, so-”

“Wait, they just up and adopted her in a matter of days?” Asked Night Light.

“No, they’d begun the process well before things went to Tartarus in a hay basket, which occurred only a few days before Sunset was legally part of their family in full. However, because those events led to her ascending, she needs to have a coronation and be recognized as a princess of something, and because in the process she had to reveal to her adopted family the truth, they want to see Sunset’s homeland for themselves and since her family is the human version of everypony in this room, they’re gonna wonder who their pony counterparts are and really it’s just going to make things a lot easier if we’re all there when they all come through.” Twilight then followed up with a groan. “Unfortunately, through all of that, I’m almost certain I’m going to be bombarded with questions largely having to do with how and why I unintentionally impersonated the human Twilight Sparkle for a few days, since now I know Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna knew that Twilight all along and so were suspicious of my presence from the start.”

“Yeah,” piped up Spike, “because the fact you didn’t attend any classes there but hung around only the school wasn’t raising any eyebrows, somehow?”

“Says the former talking dog,” lightly ribbed Twilight, giggling at Spike’s responsive groan.

“Back on the subject at hoof,” interjected Shining Armor, “are we sure having so many humans in Canterlot for a week at the same time as their Equestrian versions - present company included - is a good idea?”

“I sort of have to agree with Shiny,” said Cadence, “even when it’s just you and your five best friends together, things tend to get a bit crazy as a result. Heck, even just Pinkie Pie by herself can be...disconcerting when left to her own devices and she gets an unorthodox idea in her head.

“I wouldn’t worry, Cady,” assured Twilight, “I mean, yeah, now that you bring it up, we’re essentially putting two Pinkie Pies in the same room, but maybe they’ll, I dunno, cancel each other out in the ‘energetic’ factor?”

“Pinkie, dear, do you even know what that means?” Rarity asked, trying very hard not to groan.

“Sugarcube, this is Pinkie we’re talking about – common sense went out the window a while ago,” Applejack replied, a bemused look on her face.

“What?” asked Pinkie, oblivious as always. “I mean, sure, the SIRENs had a minivan around and the triplets gave it to me so I could have a car and I wanted the van so I can help my aunt and uncle and my friends and the cheerleading squad and other girls an—”

“Yes,” interrupted Rarity, “but you painted a minivan flamingo pink.”

“Actually, that was Sunny who did it for me,” Pinkie said with a grin.

“So she also was the one who wrote FREE CANDY on the sides?” Applejack asked.

“Nope! That was me!” the cheerleader said with pride. “After all, Bon-Bon asked me to pass out free treats for her family’s store and I thought it’d be a great way to introduce Sugarcube Corner Café’s stuff too, so – advertising!” It was a good thing Pinkie had her eyes on the road, or else she would have been treated to both her friends facepalming at once.

“Oh good, we’re here,” Rarity said, not wanting to deal with any further of Pinkie’s standard-issue weirdness.

“Are we all ready?” Pinkie asked as she whipped her van around to powerslide right into one of the guest parking spaces at the mansion owned by Sunset’s parents.

“Yeah, if that means getting out of this deathtrap,” Applejack muttered under her breath. Rarity, meanwhile, hopped out of the van the moment it stopped and landed on the ground, whispering prayers of thanks for surviving the Pinkatastrophe of a drive.

“What de—”

“Pinkie, dear, that’s not important right now,” Rarity commented with a strained smile that would’ve done a flight attendant proud. “The important thing is that we join our friends and support Sunset. She’ll need all the help she can get.”

“Ah’m gonna need all th’ help Ah can get just survivin’ this trip,” Applejack muttered under her breath as the three made their way to the house.

Just a few days ago, Coco had been looking forward to meeting Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and Princess Cadence - exchange some pleasantries before the royals had their busy day to return to, preventing them from asking any in-depth questions about Coco that she truthfully didn’t have answers for. But that had been only when the most significance she should have had was merely being Miss Rarity’s assistant for the upcoming coronation’s need for dress making.

That’s when she’d learned the princesses had already been made aware of what Coco really was. Thankfully, the meeting had been relatively straightforward anyway, but ever since, Coco had been acting as if she was walking on nothing but pins and needles if the princesses decided to drop what could have been a pleasant facade and eliminate the first changeling of any kind to be back in the castle after Cadence’s wedding. So when three of the princess’s own maid staff appeared in the ballroom looking for her, it was Fluttershy who suddenly found her own hair being used for somepony else to hide behind for once.

“Coco, darling, they’re just maids,” chuckled Rarity, “they’re probably going to ask you something about how you want your sheets done.”

“They’re not maids!” firmly stated Coco, which immediately put the other two ponies in the room - Rarity and Fluttershy - on edge. “They’re...I don’t know, but you all know the reason why I should know they’re not what they seem!”

Adagio Dazzle blinked in confusion, as did her usual two companions, then laughed softly. “Oh! You don’t need to worry, Coco - the Princess already told us you’re hiding your own true form.”

Coco blanched. “She what?!”

Aria shrugged. “Hey, for what it’s worth, she trusts you, so we’re not going changeling hunting here. If anything, you’re sort of a kindred spirit in that respect, though granted at least you still resemble a pony without the disguise while we…” She coughed into her hoof with a slight blush, “Well, let’s just say we’re kind of like fish out of water and leave it at that.”

“Fish outta what now?” asked Applejack, who emerged from the door behind the three maids, along with a bouncing Pinkie Pie and a groggy looking Rainbow. “If yer talkin’ about how Ah don’t recall seein’ any one of ya around these parts, Ah guess that’s an accurate statement.”

Recognition flashed in Rainbow’s eyes, then confusion. “Hey, wait a minute, what are the SIRENs doing here?”

Sonata blinked in confusion. “Uh...because we work here?”

“Since when? Aren’t you three supposed to be Sunset’s overprotective cousin bodyguards or something?”

“Oh! You’re talking about our human counterparts - the all-caps ‘SIREN’ trio, right? Yeah, we’re not them. We’re just your everyday variety of siren.”

“What’s the difference?” asked Pinkie, a mischievous gleam in her eye. “Are you like, actually sirens from a fire wagon? Or you’re referring to the use of the word as the scientific genus of salamanders and you’re all actually lizards! Alternatively, you’re mutant Breezie butterflies and ‘siren’ is just the nickname of the Hestina brush-footed butterfly! Or maybe, you’re- WHOA!”

After a brief rolling of eyes, the maid garbed trio chose to go for the simple, visual answer and skipped the vocalizing in favor of jumping straight into their true, more aquatic forms.

Pinkie Pie gaped. “Uh...I guess that means you’re actual sirens, with the singing and the dancing and all that?” The ponies, not having known the truth of the castle’s suddenly monstrous recruiting habits, struggled to come to terms with what they were seeing. Against all odds, it was Fluttershy who broke the silence.

“...Oh! You said you were like fish out of water...and you’re fish-like ponies...not in water...I get it!”

“Yeah,” squeaked Coco, “fish ponies with really big teeth!

“LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!” Octavia screamed at the top of her lungs. “Why the fuck can’t any of you figure that out?”

Rarity just sighed and walked downstairs where the others were waiting for her return. “I tried,” was all the fashionista could say. “I certainly see where she’s a bit more...reserved than she used to be.”

Rainbow grunted, then looked at Sunset and Twilight. “Y’know, I remember when Tavi used to not be a bitch. I liked her then. Now? Not so much.”

“Rainbow, you should be more patient,” Fluttershy counseled. “I’m sure she’s just having a hard time going through everything that’s happened as of recent. I know I would be.”

“Flutters, we’ve all been through some shit lately, even us,” Aria pointed out. “All of us have to make adjustments, from Sunny to us to Spike. Hell, even Uncle Night and Aunt Velvet have to do so.”

“So weird that we’re literally related to them now,” Adagio murmured to herself. Due to the magic of Queen Faust’s spell and the timeline change, the triplets’ having been adopted by Velvet’s older brother when they were children was something they were still getting used to. Sunset had told them that remembering both timelines at once would be difficult, but that she believed they could do it. If for no other reason than the fact that Adagio could remember coming to live with her aunt and uncle while her father was overseas, and at the same time remembering everything that had just happened barely over a month ago, she was willing to bear it.

“Thoughts, Dagi?” Sunset asked.

“Can’t you just, I dunno, magic away her issues?” the eldest triplet asked. “I mean, the ponies used magic to heal us after the incident with that assassin freak—”

Assassin?” Rainbow, Applejack, and Pinkie all said at the same time. To Sunset’s horror, the look on Pinkie’s face was more akin to excitement than worry.

“Don’t worry, it wasn’t that bad,” Sonata assured them. “We got her, after all.”

“Yeah, though you were seriously hurt, Soni,” Aria reminded her.

“Not. Helping,” Sunset hissed, then turned to Adagio. “Dagi, it’s not that simple. While I can use magic, I’m not a doctor and not that much versed in the human mind. Sure, I can heal bones, bruises, cuts, maybe even cancer, but whatever’s going on with Tavi is mental – and to do that would be to potentially lobotomize her.”

“Might be an improvement,” Rainbow muttered, only to receive a withering glare from Twilight. “Kidding!” the athlete immediately apologized.

“Well, I for one think that’s a very prudent decision, Sunset,” Rarity answered. But before she could say anything further, to the group’s surprise, Spike came down, running with his bag.

“Okay, ready to go!” he chirped proudly, carrying his bag.

“And did you pack all your clothes, or are those just comics and games?” Twilight asked archly.

Spike gave his sister a lidded look. “C’mon, of course it’s my important things, or else I’ll get bored!”

“Spike, go back and pack normally,” the plum-haired scholar insisted.

“Who died and made you Mom?” Spike retorted, which was met with a huge burst of laughter from his older sister and three cousins. “Something up?”

“Long story,” Sunset replied.

“No kidding,” Adagio added.

The doorbell rang and Aria said, “I’ll get it. In the meanwhile, someone should get Pretty Pretty Princess Pain in the Ass.”

“But she’s right here!” Sonata teased, gesturing at Sunset. The flame-haired girl, in the meanwhile, merely flipped her off.

“I’ll go deal with her,” Twilight sighed, getting up from her seat. “At least she still listens to me.”

As Twilight went upstairs, Aria walked over to the front door and opened it. “Uh...good, you’re here!” Aria chirped to Sable, then grabbed him and started to pull.

“Uh, nice to see you too,” Luna said, nonplussed.

“He’s taken,” Celestia replied as she watched her boyfriend being dragged into the house.

“You’re awfully calm about this, Tia.”

“They’re young girls – what harm can they do?”

“Heavily-armed young women whose training includes, if I recall correctly, seduction techniques – and they are very taken with him.”

Celestia blinked. “Good point.” Chasing after the two, Celestia rushed into the house to see the triplets squeeing over Sable as if he was...well, as if they were three normal schoolgirls bouncing with giddiness over Discord.

“Say you’ll do it, pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?” Sonata asked, trying to give her best Bambi impression.

“We’d really appreciate it,” Adagio told him. “You’ve got the skills, we have a tradition, and, well, you’re an adult – it makes sense.”

Sable, meanwhile, scratched the back of his head. “I’d be lying if I said any of this made sense. I mean, you’re just kids—”

“Who’ve done a lot of time in the field and would have the medals for it if we weren’t….” Aria paused. “Hey, Sunny, did we get medals or not in this timeline?”

“You three have grown up as normal girls,” Sunset replied. “You tell me.”

Celestia picked that moment to intervene. “Sable, honey, what’s going on?”

The look he gave her would be one she’d always remember. “They, uh, want me...to be their commander.”

“What, like a colonel or something?” Luna, having heard, asked.

“No, more like an admiral,” Aria replied. “We are a naval unit, after all.”

“Getting afield here, Ari,” Adagio explained. “Look, the fact is that we need a wise adult that we trust to lead us and make the big decisions that need to be done at the higher levels. Basically, keep us safe from the other REN brass, because with what we have planned, we’re going to need someone with stars to let us get away with what we want.”

“Fine, I get that – but why me?” Sable asked. “I was just a simple staff sergeant. I don’t know the first thing about being an officer, much less a gener...I mean, admiral.”

“No, you’re more than that. You kept us alive and sane, even as the only family we ever knew was killed,” Sonata said.

“You kept us focused and on the job, even after we killed Cantata Blast,” Aria replied.

“And you can fight. That’s a lot more important than you realize,” Adagio told them. “Even though we’re field-ready, we don’t know everything. We don’t know what you can teach us, and the other SIRENs to come.”

Other SIRENs?”

The lead SIREN nodded. “Eventually we intend to have at least three full teams, each with its own CO, which thus would require an admiral to look after us.”

“This is just crazy,” he told them.

“No, this is to protect her,” Adagio said. “Here, she’s my cousin. Over there, she’s my princess, and I have to do what I have to do to protect her. I know this isn’t exactly a normal situation, but we’re going to need all the trained people we’re going to get. And that starts with experienced people like you, especially if we’re going to have other ponies-turned-human to fill our ranks.”

“Other ponies?” Luna asked.

“Long story,” Sonata said with a hopefully encouraging smile, just as the second car arrived with Night, Velvet and the others.

Sandalwood bucked at the study’s door as hard as she could, but it just wouldn’t budge.

“Celestiadamnit!” she swore, “what the buck is this door’s problem!”
“Maybe the last pony to use this room forgot to disable the magic lock spell?” suggested Lyra, who chose to make the best of the situation and kept looking into various books she’d brought about the mythical human species. “Besides, the entire reason you and I are here is because Sunset Shimmer’s coming back and bringing every other human who knows about her secret. That’s a whole lot of humans and Princess Twilight explicitly told us that - as the foremost experts on humans from the pony point of view - we should be here for when humans finally walk on Equus!”

“Your point?”

Lyra sighed. “They’re obviously not going to start without us, right? I’m sure somepony will come looking for us and let us out when things are going to start.”

Down the hall, Lockbox chuckled. “Sorry, you two, but can’t risk-”

“Risk what?” suddenly intoned the voice of Raspberry Beryl. Caught off guard, Lockbox let out an eep and quickly turned to face an unamused Beryl, with an equally unamused looking Heliodor perched on her horn.

“H-how did-” stammered Lockbox.

“I was looking for you so we could go meet with the official ‘welcoming party’ when Sunset’s contingent arrives - all I did was just sense out your magic and teleport here.” Razz’s brow then furrowed as she added “Only to find you locking in Lyra and Sandy because of some yet-to-be-explained ‘risk’ if I heard correctly?”

“Wait, you were able to track me down by feeling out my magic?” gaped Lockbox. “Since when could you do that?!”

Razz rolled her eyes. “Come on, Lockbox, you knew I was a dark magic user the second I stepped foot into Nightshade, before we’d even met face to face, and we both know I’m far more acquainted with dark magic between us. And yes, while the spell you used to lock them in that room was a normal spell, I still sensed a faint trace of dark magic in it, because as you should know, simply just using dark magic even in extreme moderation as you do still leaves its mark if even in the tiniest way. Now, if you’d be so kind, can you answer my question, please?”

Lock grunted. “Okay, fine. Look, I get why those two are here, but you’ve spent more time than me with them so you should know they’re going to be fillies in a candy shop when those ‘humans’ come through, and I saw the mirror - Sunset’s fellow humans are not coming through that thing faster than one-by-one and you know it. You really think having two human-obsessed mares around is a good idea, then, as they overwhelm each human as they come through?”

Razz raised an eyebrow. “I’ll admit you have something of a point there, but there’s better ways than locking them in a room with no way to get out.”

“You really think those two wouldn’t figure out how to slip past a royal guard detachment specifically appointed to keep them out of the room temporarily?” countered Lock. “No, it’s better to let all the humans get here first, then have Lyra and Sandalwood come barging in to see their conspiracy theory nirvana come true. That way, the humans aren’t nearly as overwhelmed by their antics and really the whole thing can move faster as well.” Lock then added “And the spell I put on the door expires in an hour anyway - they’ll be fine.”

“JUST GO THE FUCK AWAY!” the voice on the other side of the door shouted.

Twilight sighed. “Tavi...it’s me. Open the door, please?” An eternity’s worth of seconds went by before the door opened and Twilight went into her cousin’s room. As she entered, there was something severely off. She wasn’t sure what, but the normal, airy, sweet décor that usually went into Octavia’s room, for as long as Twilight had known her cousin, was wrong. The room was barren, empty, nothing on the walls, desk or dresser. In fact, save for the furniture itself, there was nothing in the room at all that indicated that anyone lived within, much less a teenager.

“Please, come in.” the teenaged musician said. Twilight complied and set down next to her.

“Tavi...what’s happened to you? Why are you so mean to my sister?” Twilight asked.

“She’s not your sister,” Octavia told Twilight. “Pets don’t become real family members.”

“She’s not a pet! It doesn’t matter if she’s an alien with a different form. We all love her...and until just recently, you did, too. You did just as much as she does you! Don’t you realize how much you’re hurting her?”

“What does it matter? She’s not human! She’s only pretending to be!”

“Maybe not, but she’s just as much a person as you or I, and she’s my sister – your cousin – and a member of our family, no matter what you may think. So please, make up with her, okay?”

“Twily, Twily, Twily….” Octavia’s tone was akin to one instructing a small child on the ways of the world. “I remember when I used to be your sister. And now I’m nothing but a stranger to you.”

“You’re not a stranger, Tavi. I’ve known you all my life, especially given two timelines.”

“Yes, two timelines that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the freak. You now have three more cousins that we’ve known for all our lives – and yet just met two months ago. Doesn’t that freak you out? That Sunset’s grandmother just changed timelines like they were bedsheets? That there are only a handful of us that remember the way things used to be – and that they never were? That your uncle, a lifelong bachelor who never wanted a family, suddenly adopted three Canadian triplets out of the blue when they were babies? And that they came to live with us around the freshman year of high school – conveniently that? Does any of this make any fucking sense whatsoever, Doctor Science?” Twilight said nothing, and Octavia pressed on. “What about your father? Uncle Night wanted nothing more than to be a physics teacher at Canterlot State...but now he’s always been a famous physicist, astronomer, author and television host? At least your mom’s still the same Aunt Velvet I’ve always known. But what about Shiny and Cady? Are they still the same? Or Spike? For fuck’s sake, Twily, we went from living in a simple two-floor house in San Palomino to a mansion that you’ve always lived in! And it’s all the fault of that bitc—”

The slap stopped Octavia’s words cold. Her hand went up to her stinging cheek, and she looked at the teary, angry look on Twilight’s face.

“She loves you – she’s worried about you,” Twilight said in a soft, angry voice, “and you’re going to call her a bitch? She’s my sister – your cousin – and all you can do is insult her? After she literally died to save the world – and that was after she risked everything to save you from the Vibe and me, not once, but twice!” The plum-haired scholar stood up and turned to walk away.

Octavia’s hand desperately wrapped itself around Twilight’s wrist. “Please, Twily...I’m sorry.”

Twilight pulled away without looking at her. “No, I don’t think you are.” Walking towards the door, she added, “Get ready to go – if for no other reason that Mom and Dad aren’t going to let you stay home, not when we have to put our best foot forward.”

“At least some of us were born with feet,” Octavia replied, and immediately realized it wasn’t the best thing to say as her cousin sadly shook her head and still not looking at her, left the room.

As Velvet and Night returned to the home that still didn’t quite feel like a home to them, they noticed to their relief that everyone else had arrived, safe and sound.

Seeing the look on his father’s face, Shining asked, “What, were you expecting half them to have disappeared or something? This isn’t a Castlerock novel.”

“Says the guy who kept complaining our hotel in Italy looked like the one in The Shining,” Velvet responded to her son, an amused smile coming onto her face.

However, the smile on her face was matched by the dour look on Celestia’s as she eyed her niece and soon-to-be nephew-in-law and sighed. “Not you two as well,” she groaned.

“As...well?” Cadance asked, not having a good feeling about that. In response, her aunt hooked a weary thumb to where three girls – now joined by an older man wearing the same kind of camouflage as they – were looking over a vast assortment of weapons and ammunitions, enough so that it made Shining’s eyes practically pop out of their sockets.

“I’m presuming you have a license for all of this,” he said to Adagio.

“You’ll have to ask him,” she told her cousin, then focusing back on a set of grenades she’d been doublechecking.

“Oh, so that’s how it is,” Sable snarked. “I’ll remember that, Captain Dazzle.”

“Um...just deferring to the flag officer present?”

“Not yet. But once I am….”

She sighed. “Too late to change our minds?”

The older soldier grinned. “Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to run laps with any new recruits. Just think of it as learning the responsibilities of leadership.”

“Seriously, you think we’re going to eat you?” asked Sonata, scratching her finned head. “Trust us - these chompers are a bitch to clean and that’s not including the fact I’m not the biggest fan of dentists, either. That’s why we’re purely vegetarians.”

“Very picky vegetarians, I might add,” chuckled Celestia, who had chosen that moment to enter with her own little party of ponies - Luna, Cadence, Twilight, Spike, Shining, Phoenix-wearing Razz, as well as Lockbox and - for some reason - Night Light and Twilight Velvet too. “It’s very difficult to import their traditional diet foodstuffs from half a world away economically.”

Noting that neither Twilight nor Razz seemed at all surprised at the floating sea monsters, whereas Lockbox was, Rainbow furrowed her brow. “Sorry, but I’m still caught on the part of how we’re the last ones to evidently know how fishy the maid staff has been this whole time.”

“Ah have to agree with Rainbow,” supported Applejack. “Are they some new kinda gimmick around here? Don’t recall ‘em bein’ in town when the changelin’s attacked a few years back.”

“Oh, we were here during that, alright,” groaned Adagio. “But hundreds of years ago, Princess Celestia defeated the sirens in some attempt to take over the world, as led by our former leader and resident warmonger, Queen Cantata Blast. After banishing her to be locked in ice at the bottom of the ocean, Celestia gave us all an ultimatum: either we could rot as locked-away wraiths for all eternity, or we agreed to be forced into pretending to be ponies and be the maid staff as the turnover rate with regular maids was too fast in those chaotic days.”

“Gradually, all the sirens came to like working for the princess more than we’d ever liked being bossed around by that bitch Cantata,” added Aria, “so over time it became less of a punishment and more of a beneficial way of life for us by being the princess’s maids - we didn’t need to compete for food, ponies didn’t think we were totally monsters even if we were just disguised, and best of all, we can sing much better out of the water as air doesn’t distort the music.”

“But if you were all on good terms when the changelings attacked,” said Rainbow, “then why didn’t all you sirens turn into giant sea horses to fight off the changelings?”

“Because as per the ultimatum from centuries before, we weren’t allowed to take to our real forms in public. Sure, we’d tried to make up the deficit by training ourselves to be proficient hoof-to-hoof fighters, but we were still easily overwhelmed all the same.”

“That’s why, as part of the changes in security around here following Cadence’s wedding,” added Celestia, “I’ve lifted many of the restrictions I’d placed on the sirens in order to give them the means of fully utilizing their powers but only when needed, and only then because most ponies aren’t acclimated to having sirens flying around - it’s really a public safety issue, not a trust one as I believe the sirens in my employ are as loyal as you, Rainbow.”

Rainbow shrugged. “Yeah, alright, I can get behind that.” She then glanced over to the mirror. “Though I’m not sure it’s a good idea for you three to still look like that when Sunny’s contingent comes through.” The sirens nodded in agreement, promptly shrinking back down to their maid-garbed forms.

In the mean time, Twilight had trotted over to the mirror, which was beginning to show signs of activity. “Alright, everypony, it’s almost showtime!”

“Okay, now that we’re all here,” Sunset told them, “I have a few things to say.” She held up a wooden box containing what looked like bracelets. “It is important that you wear these at all times while in Equestria. These will serve as watches set to Canterlot time, boosters in case you need to use cell phones to call one another, but most importantly, they are shields protecting you from the natural balance magic that is in Equus.”

“The natural balance?” Velvet asked.

“Yes. Here, we’re humans. There, we’re ponies. Just the natural way of things.” She pulled out one of the bracelets. “This will keep you as you normally are.”

“Well, what if we lose or break it?” Rainbow asked.

“Then you’d better learn to live with being on four hooves until somepony can create a replacement,” Sunset told her. Looking back at the others, she said, “Each of them is personally set to your DNA, BEM field and, for those of you who have it, magic signature. Don’t try to switch; they won’t work for other people.”

With that, she passed out the bracelets, and to everyone’s surprise, the looked very much like something they would choose for themselves. The menfolk and the SIRENs all got sport watches. Most of the ladies got silver bracelets. Rainbow and Applejack got Fitbits, and Pinkie and Fluttershy had friendship bracelets.

“Pinkie, yours is triple ensorcelled just so you can’t take it off,” Sunset said with a grin. “I know you too well.”


“Anyway, the next thing, though this should be blatantly obvious, is: just be yourselves. Yes, you’ll be the first humans in my homeland, and yes, you’ll have to set a good example for humanity. But everypony knows that you’re not diplomats. Some of your counterparts are younger, some are older, but they’re not really that different from you. Remember that Shimmy, even with her different upbringing, wasn’t all that different from me, personality-wise. Just because, for example, pegasus Rainbow Dash is a weather manager and our Rainbow is a student-athlete doesn’t mean that they’re not both egotistical idiots.” Sunset grinned to take the sting out of her words.

Rainbow grunted. “Glad to know who my friends really are,” she mock-pouted, sticking her tongue back at Sunset.

Sunset ignored her friend and turned back to the assembly. “That means that you should get to know ponies, especially your counterparts. Lyra and Sandy—”

“Wait - Lyra has a counterpart?” the girls asked at once.

“Yes, she does, and no, I’m not going to tell Lyra. She’s a friend, but...remember what I said? Personalities are very similar.”

“Oh,” the teens said in unison.

“That being said, Lyra and Sandy - yes, that Sandalwood, though she’s another example of somepony whose life went in a different direction - will be available to help should you have questions. Which brings me to the third point.

“For most of you, the week before the coronation will be a vacation and a chance to look around. But for me, the triplets and Mr. Loam - excuse me, Admiral Loam - will be rebuilding the SIRENs and as for me, I’ll be doing a lot of paperwork. So we won’t be accessible often. You will have security to protect you, and in many cases, you’ll be with your counterparts, who are all famous celebrities, heroes or rulers. You will be safe and they will do anything to make sure you stay that way. So trust them, please.”

Sunset sighed. “Lastly...I want to thank you all for everything. This isn’t going to be easy for me. Once, this was the thing I wanted most out of life, and was willing to put everyone through hell to get it. Now, it’s not important to me at all...and it’s something I’ve earned. I couldn’t have done this without any of you. Thank you all - I love you all and I know this week I’ll need you all more than ever.”

Sunset never got to finish her words as she was wrapped up in a huge group hug of girls...with one lone exception. Octavia stood aloof, and though everyone noticed it, for Sunset’s sake, no one said a thing.

“Well, I guess it’s time to open the portal,” Sunset remarked. She walked over to the nearby wall, left blank intentionally, and tapped it. The wall glowed with a golden hue, before bursting outwards briefly, like the event horizon of a portal on a military sci-fi show from years back. The wall then turned into a rippling, pulsating thing.

“Okay, everyone slip your stuff into my backpack and I’ll carry it all,” Sunset told them, and the group gathered, marvelling as somehow their combined equipment seemed to shrink and somehow fit with ease into Sunset’s backpack.

Adagio opened one of the weapons crates and pulled out four P-90s and ammo, followed by web belts and pistols. Handing them to her sisters and Sable, she said, “I’ll take point.” She nodded to Sunset, who gave her an encouraging smile, and with that, Adagio Dazzle stepped into the portal.

The mirror’s surface rippled for a brief moment before a tall, sultry figure emerged, unlike what most of the present assembled ponies had ever seen. And for those ponies who knew what humans were, only Raspberry recognized that it was Adagio - partly because of her orange hair, but mostly because she was also clad in what appeared to be some kind of camouflage pattern from neck to toe...and in her hands she held a rather sizable gun.

Not even one of the humans who hasn’t been here before and she already walks in with a dangerous weapon unknown to ponykind, internally groaned Razz. We’re off to such a great start.

Almost as if completely oblivious to the miniature herd of horses, dragon, and phoenix silently observing her, Adagio quickly glanced around as if looking for any potential threats - despite having prior knowledge that the mirror was going to be inside one of the most secure places in this reality - then reached a hand up to her ear and spoke into an object hanging inches from her mouth.

“Alpha 2, Alpha 3, Alpha 1. Contact made and area secured. Send through first contingent, over.”

Pinkie, warily leaned over to whisper in Twilight’s ear. “I thought her name was Adagio?” Twilight merely shrugged, prompting Pinkie to pop over to where pony Adagio and her compatriot sirens were standing and ask them a slightly different question. “Are you three all named ‘Alpha’ with a number attached at the end? When did you guys change your name? And why didn't you tell me? I would've thrown a 'The Triplets Changed Their Names' party! Oh, and how do you spell it? Is it the word, the letter A or the Roaman character?"

“Is she usually like this?” asked Adagio - ignoring Pinkie’s motormouth for the moment - of Princess Twilight.

“Yeah, you get used to it. Plus, there’s only just the one, not sure if the world is ready for-”

Just then, before the mirror even had a chance to ripple, human Pinkie Pie inexplicably launched out of the magical portal. In that same instant, both pony and human Pinkie Pies made eye contact.

Elsewhere, reality huddled into a corner and wept.

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