• Published 10th Jul 2020
  • 1,087 Views, 147 Comments

Three-act Play - Dave Bryant

Wallflower Blush didn’t show up for graduation. Sunset Shimmer is worried—but luckily she knows just the person to consult about it. If Rose Brass can’t help, no one can. • A Twin Canterlots story

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Sunset Shimmer slouched on the battered old metal-and-plastic stacking chair and stared down at the amber-complected hands lying open on her lap. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it all the way through the ceremony. Everyone was there—we tried to keep track, and if I couldn’t look for somebody, one of the other girls did—except Wallflower.” Her hands turned over to rub along the fine fabric of dress slacks chosen to match an elegant blouse, formal enough for the morning’s pomp but simple enough not to interfere with the rented cap and gown she’d left in the care of her friends before her hasty departure.

The middle-aged woman on the other side of the ancient metal-and-laminate desk rocked back and forth slightly on her creaky swivel chair. “You said she’s shy. Do you think maybe she just didn’t want to face a big, intimidating crowd?” The question could have sounded skeptical; instead its gentle tone suggested a genuine probe, and maybe playing devil’s advocate. “She could have her diploma mailed to her, after all.”

Red-and-yellow hair bobbed with an emphatic shake of the head. “No. She was doing better, I’m sure of it, and we were trying to encourage her; she seemed thrilled when I gave her a yearbook with our signatures already in it. I was a little concerned because I hadn’t heard from her for a few days, but all of us—I mean, the whole graduating class, not just the Rainbooms—were busy with last-minute stuff, so I just figured she was too. Now, though . . .” Sunset glanced up, brows knotted, at her hostess. “I’m really worried, Rose.”

Captain Rose Brass returned her guest’s look with her single good eye, narrowed now in thought. Despite her trim, modest powder-blue business suit and white blouse, the tall, sinewy figure exuded an air of tough, raffish competence, from her platinum-blonde military buzz cut to the shiny-polished black closed-lace shoes currently hidden behind the desk’s modesty panel. Scars spilled across her brass-colored left cheek and forehead, visible all around the ostentatious black patch covering the eye on that side. A state-of-the-art prosthetic right hand drummed fingertips on the worn desk blotter for a long moment, then paused. “Okay. I’ll look into it.” She didn’t say I promise. She didn’t need to.

Sunset nodded, relief clear on her face. If there was anyone in the world who could find out what was going on with Wallflower Blush, the retired army officer turned youth social worker was that person.

Rose’s chair pivoted a few inches left and right as she gazed up at the water-stained ceiling tiles of her tiny bare-bones office. Sunset was long gone—no doubt to rejoin her circle for a well-deserved celebratory meal in some medium-fancy restaurant, surrounded by the warmth of a half-dozen families dragged together at the insistence of their daughters. The childless divorcée quirked a brief bittersweet grin and silently wished them well before returning to her train of thought.

The timing of Sunset’s early-afternoon visit was fortuitous. About a year ago Rose’s case load had been cleared almost completely, and somewhat mysteriously, to make way for a set of three clients named Adagio Dazzle, Aria Blaze, and Sonata Dusk. She had been the only social worker in town with the experience and, more importantly, the security clearance needed to deal with a trio of magical sea creatures punted out of their world, and apparently inadvertently into this one, as a consequence of their misdeeds. Further misdeeds—for they plainly had not learned their lesson—and the efforts to resist them had left the now-human troublemakers even more bereft than before, utterly lacking even the vestiges of magic they’d brought with them, homeless and alone.

Contact with Sunset Shimmer, and all the connections in both worlds she trailed behind her, of course had come along for the ride. Rose had taken the opportunity to provide a little discreet guidance to the young unicorn mare-turned-woman, and was gratified by Sunset’s efforts to reach out and to make amends for her own mistakes. By all accounts Ms. Shimmer was becoming a fine, upstanding individual in either incarnation, though it looked like she was determined to stay in the human world for the long term, even making plans for university.

At any rate, the months since a thick stack of briefing papers had turned Rose’s world upside-down had been a roller coaster, but by the spring just passed a lot of it had settled out. In fact, matters pertaining to the three ex-sirens had become routine enough she’d been on the verge of requesting more cases. She still might, depending on how the current inquiry fell out, but until she had an idea what the situation was for this Wallflower Blush, she didn’t want to commit to anything that might lead to a case overload. It had happened to her a couple of times, and the results were always unpleasant for everyone concerned.

She’d finished the preliminary work, starting with standing up a new case file. It was unusual for one to be established from the inside like this, but not unheard of. As a youth social worker she normally worked with minors, but there was provision to override that in special circumstances. Unique knowledge of a case, explicitly including classified information, was one of them; that box duly had been checked. Anyone looking at it would wonder why the blank was filled in with the same coded explanatory phrase as the Dazzlings’ file, but that was all they could do unless they were willing to break the rules. Also, the subject had turned eighteen within the last six months, so she was covered that way as well.

Next came building a dossier, using all the public records Rose could access from her office computer or telephone. Sunset already had provided as much information as she could about Ms. Blush—including a small clutch of recent photos downloaded from her smartphone—along with the bizarre artifact the other girl had discovered some months back, since shattered to pieces in yet another confrontation. The captain shook her head, wondering how many other such time bombs were scattered around the city, and why they hadn’t been destroyed rather than squirreled away. No doubt it had seemed a good idea at the time, but if she had a penny for every young butter-bar or NCO who’d told her that after some minor, or not so minor, disaster . . .

She sat up abruptly and reached for her keyboard. Now she needed to generate some decision trees and plans of action.

Author's Note:

You can blame this on Scampy. :rainbowkiss: She discovered Amphorae through another story’s “Similar” tab and reacted, shall we say, very enthusiastically. Moreover, she almost immediately started campaigning for a story featuring Rose and Wallflower, and it wasn’t long before we thrashed out a storyline in a marathon story conference—easily the best and most productive I ever have experienced!

The prologue of Virga, which takes place right on the heels of this story, has been edited slightly to allow for it. Originally, dialog between Rose and Sunset implied they’ve been out of touch for a while—but this story fills in that time pretty solidly, so that can’t be the case.