• Published 10th Nov 2019
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Equestria Girls: Love Is Magic - onekface



A new enemy threatens Sunset's new home. It craves magic and it craves all who has it. She and her friends must rise to face it. But they can't do it alone. Flash x Mane 7

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Dreary Dilema

Chapter 70: Dreary Dilemma

(Applejack’s House)

Ok… final check.

Stove? Check.

Ingredients? Check.

Pots and pans? Check check.

Fire extinguisher for emergencies? Triple check.

Right. Everything was ready for today’s little outdoor cook off. Granted, the view wasn’t exactly perfect but it was good enough for her date to appreciate.

Applejack went above and beyond to ensure that her time with Flash would go smoothly. If everything went well, they’ll bond closer than ever. And who knows? If she’s lucky, he might even ask her out.

That was the plan anyway. Though taking things slow for now didn’t really seem all that bad either. Rarity hasn’t really been picking the pace even though she promised to help her out.

Oh well. Guess she’ll have to improvise.

“Well paint me pink and call me candy. You actually went and done it.” Granny Smith whistled impressively, admiring the effort her granddaughter put to her little kitchen. It was nice to know that all of her hard work was being appreciated. “I gotta say, I’m impressed kiddo.”

“Really?” She wondered. “You don’t think it’s too much? I just brought out the old grill and portable stove. I didn’t want us cooking inside the house just yet, in the flip side of all the burning.”

“Seems more like you wanna impress that Flashy boy more like.” The old apple grinned earning a bashful look from the girl. “Looking to get him through his stomach eh?” she tapped her own belly teasingly.

“That’s the idea.” AJ nodded pulling out a basket of apples from the stash. “I thought about what you said, Granny. If I’m gonna get the fella, I got to fight for it. And if that’s how mom got dad, I figured it might work here too. I got everything set up just for today.”

“Oh sure sure. That whole thing is pretty. But I was talking about your outfit.” She scanned her granddaughter from head to toe noting that she put just a tad more focus in her appearance. She traded in her white shirt for a fancy red one that had all the glitters sparkling just right. Her jeans were crisp to perfection, and she wore her lucky boots to boot. One might even say this girl came out to the batting plate to hit a homerun. “Wooo wee. Looks like someone’s bringing out the big guns.”

“I am.” She replied shyly failing to realize what her Granny was really talking about. “I really want this to work out. I thought maybe I could pulls some of Rarity’s tricks to spice things up. Even if it doesn’t work, I still got a backup plan to seal the deal.” Her eyes gestured to the pot she got at the corner. “And thanks again for taking the others for a day out of the house.”

“Don’t sweat it kiddo. I got me a game with my gals at Goldie’s place. Apple Bloom’s got her playdate with her friends and Big Mac is uh… hanging out with… Cheerilee. Ugh…” The two of them shivered at the thought. They still couldn’t let the idea of Big Mac dating Cheerilee to sink in. How that guy managed to score a hottie like her was anyone’s guess. “We should be back right before dinner. Don’t you be doin’anything I would at your age.”

She turned a smug. “Granny.”

“What? Can’t an old lady have a moment? I mean a girl and boy hanging out alone, in an empty house, all day long without a care in the world? Folks are gonna talk. Heh… Goldie will be mighty jealous. A girl’s imagination can go wild in this weather.”

“Well keep your imagination on a tight lid. We’re just gonna cook. Not do… uh… any of that stuff.”

“Ehmmm hmm… sure.” The old apple grinned sheepishly, not believing a single word of that before giving a cool wink. “Well if you two are feeling a bit thirsty, I left some ‘Special’ cider in the fridge. A little leftover from the reunion.”

“Special cider?” Apple Bloom tilted her head, arriving just in time to see her sister’s face turn beat redder than before. “That sounds delicious! Can I have some?”

“No!” Applejack burst, waving frantically. “It’s uh… grown up drink, Sugar Cube. Don’t be listenin to Granny about this. I guarantee, you won’t like it.” The little red didn’t seem convinced. “And you stop muttering all that crazy now. You gotta set a good example for Apple Bloom!”

“Heehee! Aww. Look at my little girl, being all nervous because of some boy. If it were anybody else, I’d be mighty worried.” She laughed out loud only to cut it short when she noted a fancy looking car drive along the side of the road just in front of their house. “And speak of the apple. He’s here already.” She glanced over her watch, nodding with approval. “And early too. Heeheeee! That boy knows his manners.”

“Granny!” Applejack blushed deeply, giving the old lady a glare which she laughed it off back to the barn pushing Apple Bloom with her who kept pestering her about the ‘Special’ Cider.

Dang it. Why did she have to make this whole thing so weird? Why isn’t she doing the same thing to Big Mac? That guy was in a relationship way longer than she was and she didn’t even throw a tease.

The old coot probably would if she knew it would garner some kind of reaction from that one-liner brother of hers. Either that, or she just didn’t want to mess with Ms. Cheerilee’s date. God knows what kind of fight that’ll spark.

Ugh… either way, she had to mentally prepare herself. Applejack took a deep breath, and poured that awkward shyness out, replacing it with the confidence she built up over the morning. She glanced over a mirror she brought from the house and made herself prim and proper. The shirt Rarity gifted to her a year back really filled out in all the right places. She looked dang good in her reflection and felt even better knowing that Granny approved. She was, in a lack for a better term, ‘In the zone’ – in control. The girls adjusted her Stetson and pulled a pose, holding a casual smile.

“Alright Applejack. You got this. This is your time to shine.”

And not a moment too soon either, for she heard a pair of footsteps approaching. The heavy shoes were unmistakable. She took a peek at her phone. Granny was right, the boy was roughly twenty minutes early, which was kind of expected for a man of his pedigree. It was a nice gesture not to keep a girl waiting. With a huff, she braced herself, interested to see what his reaction would be. Would he be amazed? Impressed? Shocked beyond all reasoning? Would her sense of fashion stun him into silence? Heh… that would be a sight to see.

Hearing him stop, she turned around.

“Well howdy th-.”

And her mind died a second later.

“Hey Applejack.” Flash said, smiling down at her. “You look great.”

Applejack’s jaw dropped.

The boy… Flash… beat her to the punch in fashion. He traded his rocker outfit for a plain outfit. Gone were the yankee jacket, gone were the cargo pants. He threw them off in exchange for a blue short sleeved shirt and long jeans. While his choice of clothing were rather barebones, she had to admit that it really brought out the figure in him. Kind of like Big-Mac after his morning exercise. You can see his muscles and form. It showed off the distribution of his weight perfectly, most of it being towards his chest and shoulders. He might not be as chiseled as her brother but he certainly had the right combination.

It was a common outfit. Rarity would say that it was even plain in her standards. But to a Cowgirl like her, it was like seeing a gosh-darn supermodel strutting down the runway flashing a smile that would melt her heart out. And she had the VIP box seat with a clear view to it all. She wondered if he would spin around if she asked him to. Maybe do a pose or maybe flex his muscle for a selfie opportunity.

Sweet caramel apples dipped in honey. How was a boy like him so… so…… so…

“Sizzling…”

“What?”

“I uh… I mean… salutations!” The last brain cell inside of her just died out of humiliation.

Salutations? Who says hello like that!? A gosh darn robot?

This was way too much. Too much for her to process in just a few short moments. Blood rose to her face turning her into one of her apples and she tried to laugh it off, only for it to come out high-pitched and nervous.

“I mean… hi.” She said managed to squeak out.

“Hi back at ya.” Flash said, breaking the odd silence. He didn’t seem to fare any better. In fact, he looked just about as awkward as she was. His posture still looked way better than hers, but that was probably her fangirl-vision going off. “Am I late?”

“Not at all!” Yikes. That came out a little too high pitched. Control girl. Keep it under control. “I mean… you’re right on time. I was just um… ingredient the ready…… I mean readying the ingredients!”

“Real smooth, kiddo.” Shut up Granny! Who asked you!? What are you still doing here!?

“Oh and before I forget. Here.” Taking advantage of the momentum, Flash reached to his back, revealing a fancy looking box decked out with some expensive looking decorations. He opened the lid, showing the treat inside. Each piece could be seen within, all made into different yet familiar objects and animals. Seriously. This look like something that would be presented to your special someone on a special day. “For you.” He added that last bit with a charming, sweet and handsome smile.

Her heart skipped a beat.

“Oh… th… thank you.” She didn’t even realize she had the box in her hand until she brought it close enough to eat, staring at it like it was the Holy Grail itself. It wouldn’t be the first time she got a gift from a friend, especially chocolates. Pinkie delivers them by the truck-full, but none of them felt so charged before. And with him being dressed as he was, this scene could’ve played out a whole lot differently in such context. He would’ve looked like the older, mature gentleman while she portrayed the young, nervous teenager who was being asked out on a romantic evening. It felt more… serious than a casual get-together.

This was simply too much. Blood suffused her cheeks and she tried to laugh it off, only for it to come out all disoriented and weird.

Damn it. Maybe Granny was right. She should’ve prepared more. She was ready for a skirmish, but this boy came down for a battle.

So much for me being in control…

Was it too late to jump back to her room and grab another outfit?

“Whoa. Did you prepare all this?”

He was probably talking about the mini cooking station she built. She almost forgot about that.

“You bet your britches she did!” Granny Smith added, jumping to her rescue. “She put a lot of effort into this, so you’d best be grateful, ya hear?”

Ugh… please… go… away.

“Yes ma’am.” And don’t answer her! You’re just gonna inflate her authority.

“Right then. Me and the others are heading off for our little outing. See ya’ll tonight. And don’t you be doing anything I would~.” Oh for apple-flipping-sake!

Apple Bloom’s voice chimed over the truck calling over Granny who giddily skipped to them looking like a child who just won his first argument. Big Mac would drive off a second later leaving the two of them behind to…… cook.

“So… where do we start?” The boy asked, smiling sweetly as before. He looked dashing, handsome even. Her cheeks burned again as he got closer. She quickly tried to calm herself down, breathing a sigh to ease her heart but that only served to inhale the boy’s thick scented cologne.

It smelled good enough to make her feel lightheaded.

(CHS)

Ugh… seriously? Why in the world are they doing here on a Sunday?

“Twilight~~~~.” Sunset yawned. “What are we doing in school on a Sunday?”

“I told you. I needed to get some of my tools to make the device to store magic.” She knew that of course. It’s just that… why did they have to do that so early in the morning on a weekend?

“Couldn’t you just have made it at your place?”

“I wished.” The nerd gal scoffed as they arrived at her locker. The school looked strange while it was deserted like this. “Ever since mom and dad cut my lab off from the rest of the house, I had to transfer most of my equipment offsite. I stashed more than half of it in the new house.”

“Yeah… I noticed.” That girl practically made the study room her own personal laboratory. It was a bizarre mixture of science and sorcery. Test tubes, centrifuge, and microscopes laid on the floor while books and ancient grimoires dangled overhead. It was kind of impressive if she was being honest.

“The rest, I stashed them here, in school. I use my arts and craft time to make up for the parts I need. Professor Doodle likes to throw scraps away.”

“Yeah. That’s fun and all. But did you really have to do it so early in the morning?”

“Of course. The early bird gets the worm after all.”

“And the early worm gets eaten.” Sunset croaked. “What are you making anyway?”

“I’m recreating my Magic Trap.”

Sunset choked. “You mean… that thing that we used against Cinch?”

“The very same.” Twilight shrugged as if it was nothing. “We’re gonna need it if we’re going to trap all that magic from Flash’s place.”

“But isn’t it dangerous? I mean… the last one you made burned out a whole city block.”

“Half a city block. Or… maybe 3/4th of a city block.” She corrected, which didn’t exactly help her case. “And that wasn’t my fault. That whole explosion was the result of too much unstable magic being absorbed too quickly and then being unleashed all at the same time. Besides… I worked out the kinks.”

“That’s what you said last time.”

“That was for magic control, not traumatic physical rupture. Trust me. With the upgrades I have in mind, it’ll work perfectly.” Twilight added gleefully before she finished rummaging through her locker. “Alright. With this, I can make the device and visit Flash at his place later this evening.”

“You’re going to his place?”

“Well duh. How else am I going to install the magic trap?” She pointed out. “Besides, I’ve always wanted to see his place. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy said that it was amazing.”

“You’re just doing this so you can experiment on Flash again.”

Twilight’s cheeks turned a shade of red. “Well… a little bit. We did promise him that we’ll help out. And besides, it’s a new form of magic! It’s the first time magic has ever infected a living breathing person rather than an object! The applications alone are limitless.” Her eyes gleamed. “Think of research, the thesis, the hypothesis we can develop. It’ll be a career boost for the field of sorcery!”

Ugh… those all sound like work. Hard pass. Normally Sunset wouldn’t mind a bit of busy body. But right now she already had enough on her plate. No need to add more to that mess.

“Speaking of careers.” Sunset spoke, her eyes wandering to a door just around the corner. She saw the plaque and wondered. “That key that Vice-Principal Luna gave you. Does it open all the doors in school?”

“Just the emergency door, classrooms and non-essential rooms. Why?”

“Well… the Guidance Counselor’s office is right over there.” She pointed out which sparked an interest in their minds. “Do you think it’ll work?”

“I…… maybe.” Twilight nodded though hesitantly. “That office used to be an old storeroom before it was converted to an office. The key… might work. But… why?”

“Nothing.” She lied through her teeth. “But… I was kind of thinking we could use this opportunity to bug his room. You still have some of those listening devices we used during Hoity’s pageant show?”

“Uh… yeah. But… do you think that’ll work?”

“Can’t hurt to try. And if it does… we’ll be able to eavesdrop on him without him even knowing.”

“I wouldn’t recommend such actions.”

“GAHH!” The two girls jolted upward when the voice startled them from behind.

“P… Professor Neighsay!?” Twilight gulped, freezing solid as she made eye contact with the man. “Wh… what are you doing here?”

“I could ask you two the same question.” His presence felt overwhelming yet subtle at the same time. Like a tornado that could pass by without anyone noticing. “Never thought I’d catch intruders in school grounds on my first week.”

“W… we’re not intruders.” Sunset defended.

“Really? And yet you were saying something about infiltrating my office to bug it with your gizmo?”

Ugh… crap. There’s no defense on that.

“We were just grabbing some stuff for uh… our… research?” Not doing any better Twi.

But surprisingly the man simply sighed. “I know you have trust issues with me, ladies. But I would prefer if you be honest with it rather than skulking around like a bunch of thieves. Such actions would undoubtedly create… grave misunderstandings. And we don’t want that.”

Yeah… and you’re working with a guy who wanted to mind control everyone in the city. Sorry if we don’t take your word for it, old man.

“Nonetheless, this timing is actually fortuitous. I was hoping to call you tomorrow for a meeting but we can have a discussion right now.”

Sunset glanced over to her partner who had the same expression as her. “You… wanted to talk with us? For what?”

“A rather important discussion.” He answered vaguely. “Something that you both may be interested in.”

The man then walked towards his office, unlocking the door and gesturing them in with a low creak.

Yeah… that wasn’t ominous at all.

(Canterlot Mall)

Apple Bloom let out a long winded sigh as she poked the side of her burger with a plastic fork. The bun wiggled at the touch while the patty inside sizzled. Normally she’d be gorging on the little treat like a grizzly bear on a honey jar. She loved fast food and loved eating it constantly. Her friends knew her to have the appetite of the Apple Family. But right now it looks like her stomach is elsewhere.

Her mind wandered back to her big sister who was probably having the time of her life trying to…… in the immortal words of Granny Smith: Trying to seduce a boy through cooking. Which still sounds weird every time she thinks about it.

She couldn’t believe that both her big sis and big brother found themselves partners at nearly the same time. Big Mac in particular. You’d think a guy of few words wouldn’t have such luck in romance. The guy was a rock some times. Ever his own sister couldn’t get a read on his thoughts. But right now it was really Applejack she was more concerned with.

She heard about Flash Sentry. Pretty much everyone in CHS knew of him. The guy was pretty popular around most circles in school. All of her friends say that he was that rocker boy living next door. Or perhaps a charming fellow who had a ton of followers on the school website. But to be honest, she didn’t really know much about the guy. And that worried her.

Ok, so she might give him the benefit of the doubt. He was the one who fixed up their barn when it burned down last year. And he did help rebuild the whole reunion from scratch. But other than that and his love for music… the guy was a blank slate. She wasn’t sure if he was really a nice guy or a guy pretending to be nice. For all she knows, he might just be that big ol’meanie who’ll steal the farm from right under them.

“You ok Apple Bloom?” She looked up from her food noticing her two friends staring at her worryingly. “You’ve been playing with your food for over 10 minutes.”

Sweetie Belle nodded. “Yeah. Normally you’d be on your fourth burger by now… and complaining that the portion is still way too small.”

Ugh… she must really be off if her friends can notice her slump. “Sorry guys. It’s just… I’ve been having a thinking session lately.”

“Are you still bummed out that Principal Celestia closed down our club?” Scootaloo mentioned. “I keep telling you, she had a good point. We were pretty much just using our club money to buy movie tickets for everyone.”

“No. It’s not that.” The little apple groaned. “Ok… maybe a little. But I’m actually worried about something else.”

“Well why don’t you tell us? We might not be an official club but we can still listen.”

“Is it a problem at home?” Sweetie asked, soothingly.

“Sorta.” She poked her fries next. “It’s kind of a secret. So no telling, ok?”

“Pinkie promise.” The two friends bumped fists. “Ain’t that right Pinkie?”

“Yup! Got it all written down, right here.” Wait… where did Pinkie come from…… and… she’s gone.

Apple Bloom decided not to question it. That was a rabbit hole no one wanted to delve into. “Well… it’s my sister. She’s been acting a little… different lately.”

“Different… how?” Sweetie took a sip off her drink. “Like liking oranges instead of apples different or wearing a new pair of pajamas kind of different?”

Those were strangely specific. “Uh… the second one… I guess. It’s just that there’s this guy she’s crushing on and it’s…”

“Pffft! What!?” They spat loudly which garnered the attention of everyone in the food court. “Applejack has a crush!?”

Apple Bloom gave them the stink eye in turn. “Very subtle, girls.”

Scoots chuckled apologetically. “Sorry Apple Bloom. It’s just that this is kind of a big deal. Unless of course it’s another teacher… like Big Mac and Ms. Cheerilee.”

“Ugh… don’t remind me.” They shivered at the thought. Even now those two are probably on some romantic date touring the city and calling each other their overly sweet nicknames. “It’s bad enough that she’s dating my brother but she also has to give me extra special attention too.” She even gave her bonus points in a pop quiz for no particular reason. That was so embarrassing. A cool perk to have but still embarrassing. Next thing people might think: She was a teacher’s pet.

“You know what this means, right?” Sweetie and Scoots nodded to one another.

Apple Bloom blinked. “What? What does it mean?”

“Well… you know what happens when people get together, don’t you?” The little apple stared back dumbly. “It means they’ll be moving on.”

“Breaking away from the branch.”

“Flying out of the nest.”

“Going south for the winter.”

“A chicken flying out of the coop.”

Apple Bloom groaned. “Are you two playing some kind of game I don’t know about?”

“It means they’ll be leaving!” Sweetie explained. “You know those stories about people getting together? Once they hitch, they’ll be moving out of the house next.”

“Moving out of the house?”

“Yup. It’s the way of life.” Scootaloo agreed chewing her burger. “Remember that couple from the Sweet Snacks Café? The moment they got married, they immediately moved out together after their honeymoon. It’s kind of like… tradition.”

“What?” Apple Bloom laughed at the thought. “That’s crazy.”

“She’s right.” The purple member of the club added. “Rarity told me that when two people get together, they need some ‘Privacy’ in their life. It’s absolutely normal. Why I wouldn’t be surprised if both your brother and sister leave the house to see the world.”

“You think they’ll take long vacation like the other couple?” Scoots beamed.

“Meh. Who knows? It depends on their preference. Rarity says that she’ll at least take a half-world tour when she gets married.”

No.

That can’t be right. Applejack and Big Mac were supposed to be with her to take care of the farm. They were supposed to be the inseparable Apple Family. Living under one roof, growing old together until the next generation kicks in. If they all leave, she’ll be the only one tending the farm. And that’ll never work!

“NOOO!” The girl screamed, garnering the attention of the whole mall. “That can’t be! I’m far too young to be left to my own devices! I don’t even know the full layout of the whole farm! I haven’t even tasted the Special Cider! What would I do without my family? Who will I turn to?” She hyperventilated, choking loudly. “Oh no. What if the farm goes under? What about taxes!?”

“Breathe!!!!!” Scoots shoved a paper bag up the panicking girl’s face. “Geez. You don’t have to freak out like that.”

“Yeah. We were only joking. Mostly.” The girl calmed down which prompted another row of stares. “Well? Don’t just sit there looking like an apple. Tell us who it is!”

“Yeah! Who’s the lucky guy that won her heart? Is it Soarin? Or maybe Thunderlane?”

“No, it’s probably Silver Zoom. I heard he’s had a massive crush on Applejack since in our trip in Camp Everfree.”

They eyed the redhead, smiling expectantly for an answer. She sighed.

“Fine. I’ll spill the beans. But you must swear never to say a word.”

Scootlaloo gave her a wavy response. “Oh please. We’ve already taken the Pinkie Promise. What more could you possibly want? Now stop keeping us in suspense and spill it.”

And that afternoon, beans were spilled.

(CHS) (Neighsay’s office)

The office felt cold. Twilight can practically feel her skin chilling just sitting there. And there wasn’t even air-conditioning around this place. Was this guy using magic or was his cold attitude just doing that to them?

“So what did you want to talk about?” Sunset went straight to the main topic without as much as a simple exchange of pleasantries.

If Neighsay felt offended in any way, he certainly didn’t show it. In fact… you could hardly read his expression at all. He was like a wall made of ice.

“I’ll get straight to the point.” He began. “We need your help.”

Well… that certainly wasn’t something they were expecting.

“Help with… what exactly?” Twilight inquired, raising one brow over her glasses.

“No doubt you all know of the earthquake that happened recently around the city.” Of course they do. Everyone does. “Ever since that event, I’ve conducted my own personal investigation to find the origins of that quake.”

But they know where it came from. It occurred when the portal in Castle Hoofbeard tore apart. Wasn’t that… right?

Twilight passed a glance to her friend which she shook her head in response. “And… what did you find?”

“According to our investigation, our intelligence believe that the cause and effect occurred within the city itself.” Inside? That can’t be right. “To be more accurate: It came from within Everton Academy.”

“Everton?”

“Correct. We believe stray magic may have made its way there causing some sort of cascade. It wouldn’t be the first time something like this happen.” It’s not? Then what have they been doing for the last few years? “It’s usually an artifact that somehow wandered into the area with its magic going haywire. You won’t believe how many incidents we’ve had with those. I would like your ‘Club’, as you call it, to investigate.”

“And why are we supposed to help you?” Sunset challenged which strangely did not garner any reaction from the man. “You do know we’re not exactly best buds, right?”

“Normally we would handle something like this ourselves. But even an organization as big as ours has its limits.” He gracefully added that last part with some hint of bitterness. “For one… it is a school. And as much as it pains me to admit, our influence that particular area is quite… shallow at the moment. And seeing as it is the beginning to the semester, imbedding an agent in there would be quite… difficult. However with you, that will not be the case.”

“That sounds like your problem.”

“Incorrect. It is ‘Our’ problem.” He said wryly. “You can pretend that you don’t care, Ms. Shimmer. But you can cut the act. You can’t fool me. Besides, can you really afford to ignore rampant magic at this time? The way I see it, this little quake incident concerns us both. Or are you simply a heartless girl who cares nothing but herself?”

Twilight eyed her friend who squinted angrily. She got her there.

No matter how small the incident might be, they can’t ignore it. For all they know it could be another artifact going haywire. If they hadn’t discovered Vignette’s enchanted cellphone, Juniper’s mirror, or the Time Twirler? Things would’ve been way worse than before.

“He’s right, Sunset. We can’t ignore it. If something really is causing a ruckus we have to at least investigate.” Her partner didn’t seem to agree and grunted. “Besides, we have a truce with the Order now. It’d be nice to work together for once instead of fighting each other. And if Neighsay had any bad intentions, he wouldn’t be asking us like this.”

“I can see who that you are the brains in this group, Ms. Sparkle.” The cold man nodded.

“But Everton Academy is a big place. Can you narrow down where the magic might come from?”

“That… I can.” He slowly pull out a stack of photos from his desk which depicted a certain old Principal. “During our early operations here, Abacus Cinch was our one and only contact. Her task was to locate and collect magical items from the city itself. During her stay here, she frequently visited Everton Academy under the guise of procuring some… of said artifact. We know that she met we many of the faculty in the Art History and Archeological Department. Your best bet will be to start there. I’m sure if there are any magical items, you will certainly find it. You girls seem to have a habit of encountering the strangest things.”

Twilight took a glance over the photos. It certainly was her old Principal. Before her memories were erased. No doubt the Order’s doing as punishment for tricking them. Ever since she discovered magic, she’d been doing a lot of shady things. Using the Chalice of Wishes to increase her own powers, turning her shadow monster against her friends, rebuilding her Magic Trap. These achievements alone were quite impressive especially if she did it all by herself.

“And how do you intend to get us in there? School’s already started. Won’t it look suspicious if students from other schools visit that place?”

“The Brain Blast Science Regional Tournament!” Twilight answered with an almost jubilant cry. “The first round of the tournament is going to be held in Everton. We can use that as our excuse to visit. They have special tours to view the outer grounds.”

“Correct.” Neighsay nodded showing some hint of admiration in his tone for once. “Tomorrow, Principal Celestia is hosting a fundraising event which should be… entertaining to say the least. School will be half-day. You can use that time to investigate. I might also suggest looking into some magical occurrences there. It may be a little difficult.”

“Oh not at all.” Twilight chimed flashing her phone. “I already got some hints.”

“We do?”

“Yup. Our club website. People post on it all the time when they see something weird or suspicious. Kind of like an occult gathering I simply cross reference words through the forums, match that with any known historical or important items in Everton Academy and we can work our way from there. It’ll narrow down our search pattern and we can keep a lookout for anything suspicious.”

“That is… quite… impressive, Ms. Sparkle.” The man’s brow rose a few inch which was probably the most expression they’d be able to get out of it. “I shouldn’t be surprised how you were able to defeat two of our agents. I take it you’ll accept this task?”

“We will.” She nodded. “But under a few conditions.” The gentleman remained silent hinting her to go on. “1) We will be leading this investigation. We will be doing this our way. No outside interference unless we ask for it.” That sounded fair. The first step to building trust was mutual cooperation – or so she would like to believe. “2) Any magical artifacts we acquire from this investigation will be our responsibility. And we’ll be the one to decide what to do with them. We are taking all the risks after all.”

Neighsay squinted, his brow sharpening just enough to show a hint of frustration. “I… suppose that’s fair. Though perhaps in the future, you’ll be willing to negotiate a trade.”

“And in exchange for all of this, we’ll provide you with a constant updates of our investigation. No secrets, no vague statements either. All honest truths.”

The Guidance counselor pushed his chin up in thought as he made his way to the only window of his office. He didn’t really have much to push with. And seeing he was the one making the request, he couldn’t really deny her conditions.

“Very well.” He said finally, much to their relief. “I accept your terms. For now. I expect a favorable report within the week.”

Yes!

“Thank you sir.” Twilight giddily nodded. “Oh, and do you mind if we take these photos with us? For reference of course.” The man shrugged and permitted them to be on their way.

xxxxxxxxxx

It was only after they made it out of school grounds did Sunset voice her protest. “Are you sure this is a good idea? Working with Neighsay? The Order? Don’t you think we should take this a little bit slowly?”

“It’s a magical incident. We can’t possibly wait. Besides, it’ll be a great way to prepare myself for my time in Everton.”

“True. But… shouldn’t we discuss this with the others first?”

“I don’t see what the problem is.” She shrugged back. “You were more than happy to make a deal with him without consulting with any of us.”

“That’s… also true.” Sunset groaned having put herself in a corner. “But what about this earthquake thing? Wasn’t that caused by the Portal underneath the castle going haywire?”

“That was our original hypothesis.” Twilight corrected. “We never really had any proof other than my scanners. We could be right or we could be wrong. Besides, this is still a good opportunity for us.”

“You mean a good opportunity for you.” She whined. “Ugh… fine. As much as I hate to admit it, we have to investigate. But how do we even start? Everton is a pretty big place. We need to find a way to narrow it down somehow.”

“I already have that covered.”

Sunset blinked. “You have? How?”

“With this.” She pulled one of the photos which clearly depicted Abacus Cinch talking with someone. “You see that woman talking to Cinch? I’ve seen her before. Back in the excavation camp in Freefall Island. She was talking with Professor Sombra and Shining Armor.”

“Your brother was there?”

“Yup. And I have a sneaking suspicion she has something to do with this magic mishap.”

“And you didn’t reveal this to Neighsay… why?”

“Duh. You’d think I’d trust a guy just because he asked? Pa-lease. I might be trusting, but not that trusting. Like people say: You got to give a little lie to look good.”

“You made that up just now, didn’t you?”

Twilight shrugged. “Eh… kinda. Now come on. Let’s get the others and we can plan our next step.”

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