• Published 24th Oct 2020
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Danganronpa: In Harmony's Wake - Dewdrops on the Grass



Trapped on a cruise ship with fifteen others, all with lost memories, Sunset Shimmer struggles to survive a killing game orchestrated by a mysterious being only known as Monoponi. Post Season Nine FIM. Now complete!

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Chapter Two: What Lurks In The Depths Part 2

Chapter Two:

What Lurks in the Depths

Daily Life Part 2

The voices of Diamond Tiara and Adagio broke me out of my stupor. I quickly shoved the photograph into a pocket in my tracksuit, balled up the hat and cloak under my arm, and walked out of the dressing room. The two were just going into one of the other rooms, and spotted me as I left. “Hey, Sunset!” Tiara said in her usual whiny tone. “What’ve you got there, huh?”

“Nothing for you,” I said, speed walking and dodging the sudden swipe the other woman made for the cloak and hat.

“So you’re trying to hide something, is that it?!” she growled, her hands squarely on her hips.

Blowing an annoyed sigh out through my teeth, I stopped, turned, and showed off what I had. “It’s just a costume, Tiara. Like I said: nothing for you.”

Adagio stepped out from behind Tiara, and arched an eyebrow in my direction. “Let me see that,” she said in a tone that brokered no argument.

Rolling my eyes, I approached, and handed it over. Adagio took one look at it, grimaced in disgust, and threw it back in my face. “She’s right. Nothing worthwhile.”

Just because we’re keeping quiet about being together doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk, Adagio. “Thanks,” I muttered.

But before I could leave, Tiara rudely snatched them out of my grip just so she could run her hands all over them. Then, like Adagio, she threw them in my face. “Okay, whatever,” she grumbled.

“Can I go now?” I asked, feeling more than a little irritated at this point.

Tiara waved a hand as if dismissing a servant. “Yes, yes, go. Just meet up with the rest of us in the food court! We’re gonna discuss what we’ve found.”

I grunted in annoyance, but said not a word as I spun and left. I decided to make my way to the library first. Hopefully Trixie was still there. She’d probably love this.

And sure enough, there she was, sitting on a solitary chair in a corner on the library’s second floor, pouring over the book I’d seen her cradling earlier, eyes full of stars and wonder. I decided, as I approached, to carefully hide what I had for her behind my back, so she couldn’t see it.

Thankfully this time I avoided startling the poor magician, as she heard my footfalls and looked up, eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Sunset? Trixie thought she asked to be left alone. What is it?” Then she noticed I was hiding something, and sat up straighter, eyes briefly widening with just a touch of fear. “W-what do you want?”

A mischievous smirk spread across my faces, my eyes twinkling. “Oooooh nothing, really,” I said as I quickly unballed the cloak and hat, holding on in each hand behind myself.

Now Trixie’s eyes were darting all over the place, as if trying to find some way to escape. She scooted her chair back, and squeaked in surprise when it hit the wall. “A-a-a-re you p-planning to -h-hurt T-t-t-t-Trixie?!” she squealed.

Oh dear. I just wanted to joke with her, not scare her half to death. I dropped the mischievous act and slowly brought out the cloak and hat. “No, no, Trixie, it’s okay!” I said. “I just found this, and thought you’d like it back.”

“Like what baaaaaaaaaaAHHH!” Trixie screamed in shock as she dove forward, grabbing up the hat and cloak and squeezing them to her chest. “You found them! My hat! My cloak! You found them! I, I can’t believe it!” Then she paused, cleared her throat, and said more calmly, “Trixie means, Trixie cannot believe it. Where did you find them?”

“They were hiding in a dressing room, backstage in the theater,” I admitted, trying not to laugh at the poor embarrassed woman. Huh. Guess she knows how to speak in first person after all.

Trixie set the hat on her head, squealing in delight at the perfect fit, then drew the cloak over her shoulders and fastened the clasp. Then she adopted the same pose she struck so often during the trial, and this time, with the cloak, it made perfect sense. “Behold! The Great and Powerful Trixie is once again ready to perform dazzling displays of incredible illusions for your entertainment! Watch in awe!

I actually felt some excitement rise in my chest at this, and found myself clapping, if quietly. Girl knows how to work a crowd. “Woohoo!” I cheered. “Gooo Trixie!”

Trixie bowed deeply, a massive grin etched on her face. “Thank you, thank you! Trixie will be here all week.” As she rose, I saw gratitude reflected in her eyes. “Thank you, Sunset. Trixie has dearly missed these ever since she awoke here. Just having them makes her feel… more confident. Safer.”

“Yeah, you got it,” I said. Then I snapped my fingers. “Oh, right, there’s something else I need to show--”

“What is going on here?!” Twilight burst out as she stomped down the stairs, glaring at us over her glasses so hard I thought she might burst into flames. “This is a library! Why are you being so loud?”

“Oh come on, Twilight,” I replied, waving a hand dismissively. “It’s not like there’s rules about it.”

“Well, that’s--I--that’s not the point!” Twilight blurted, shaking a finger at me. “It’s still a library! If you want to be loud, go somewhere else!”

Monoponi flashed into existence right above Twilight’s head. “Someone being loud in the library, you say?!” he shouted.

I didn’t even flinch. By this point I was expecting him to show up just about anywhere, anytime he felt like it. Twilight and Trixie weren’t so lucky. Trixie leapt behind the closest bookshelf and Twilight, I had to catch her to save her from cracking her head on the stairwell. “Why do you keep doing that?!” Twilight roared as soon as I set her on her feet again.

“Because it’s hilarious,” Monoponi replied cheerfully as he fluttered down and landed on all four hooves. “Now then, I believe Sunset was once again trying to dodge the rules! Well I won’t stand for that!”

I sighed, crossing my arms and shifting my weight onto one leg. “Really? You can’t seriously tell me you actually care about the volume in the library.”

Monoponi raised a hoof to his mouth. “Upupu, but I do care about you! Or rather, about making you suffer! So just because it’ll get right under that skin of yours…”

His horn flashed, and our Monopads all let out a shrill beep. Upon pulling it out of my backpack, I saw a new rule had been added:

Rule #19: Loud noise in the library is forbidden! You may not speak louder than a whisper while within its walls!

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” I muttered under my breath as I switched off my Monopad screen.

“Ah ah ah!” Monoponi tut tutted in a whisper of his own. I was a little surprised he was bothering to follow the rule himself. “Be careful now. It’d be a shame if I had to execute anyone just because they couldn’t use their indoor voice.” Then he vanished, and even the sound of his teleport was quiet.

“Nice going, Twilight!” Trixie whispered as loudly as she could from behind the shelf.

“Seriously,” I added.

A bizarre expression came over Twilight’s face, one I’d never seen her sport before. It was a very odd, demented smile, as if she’d just suddenly lost it. Many of the hairs tucked into her bun popped out at odd angles.

Then just as suddenly the expression was gone, making me wonder if I’d even seen it at all. “Sorry,” she said quietly as she trudged back up the stairs, where Flash was waiting. Even he looked a bit upset over this.

“Trixie, we should get out of here,” I said, and quietly led her upstairs and out into the promenade proper. “Okay,” I added once we were out. “I’m not going in there again unless I have to.”

The illusionist’s lips curled up into a strong pout. “Oh, Trixie left her book behind,” she groaned.

“You can get the book back later, don’t worry about it,” I replied, waving for her to follow. “C’mon, I still have something I need to show you.”

Trixie rolled her eyes, but silently complied. I caught her rubbing her arms along the inside of her cloak as we walked, as if she was stroking it lovingly. I chose not to comment.

Once we reached the food court, we found an out of the way table and sat down. Without any preamble, I withdrew the picture from my pocket, and handed it over. Trixie raised one eyebrow, then both as she looked over the picture, and then her mouth fell open in shock. “What… what is this?”

“I was kinda hoping you might be able to tell me,” I replied. Seeing the picture brought back that gnawing feeling of emptiness all over again. “It was in your cloak pocket.”

“But that doesn’t make sense.” Trixie stared at the photo, turning it around in her hands to look at it from several angles. “Trixie never knew either of you before coming here. Unless…” Her hand shot to her mouth. “Did… did Monoponi…”

I nodded sadly. “Probably.”

“Then… Trixie, and you, we’re, we were… friends?”

“Yeah, I’d say we were.”

Trixie looked away from me for several long moments, staring at the floor. She laid the photograph down on the table, and twiddled with her hands, obviously thinking a great deal. Then, ever so slowly, her head turned, her gaze falling upon me. “Trixie doesn’t remember having friends,” she said. Every word was hesitant, uncertain, as if just speaking them took a great deal of effort. “Trixie only remembers people making fun of her, or laughing at her. People like Adagio.”

Her face twisted into a scowl. “Cruel, heartless people, who would say they liked Trixie to her face, then insult her behind her back.” The scowl loosened, then dropped entirely, in favor of sadness. “Trixie got into magic tricks because it was one of the only things that made Trixie happy. And it made other people happy too, so Trixie thought maybe they’d be her friends. But no. They didn’t care about Trixie. They didn’t care about… me.”

Tears dripped down her cheeks onto the table, leaving two small puddles. “I was so alone. So I started talking to myself in the third person, just to feel like someone else was talking to me. Like someone cared about me. It was part of my persona on the stage. In some ways, it was like a shield, protecting me.”

Without thinking I reached out and took her left hand, holding it tight to give her reassurance. “So that’s why you’ve been talking that way this whole time.”

“Yes,” Trixie nodded. She let me hold her hand as she started to sob. “I just… at first, it was just a reflex. I was meeting new people, people I didn’t know. But then Monoponi showed up, and told us about the killing game. I was so… I was so scared. We watched someone die, Sunset.” Her breathing hitched, her sobs becoming more and more expressive. “We watched someone die!

“He… he did kill someone else though,” I said, instantly regretting it.

“And that makes it right?!” Trixie’s whole face was like a tear-filled deluge. “I could die here, Sunset. We could all die here.” All of a sudden she threw herself upon me, and it was like Pinkie all over again, her tears soaking my shoulder. “I just want to go home…” she whispered.

That finally got me. The emptiness, the despair in my heart cracked open and I unleashed a torrent of my own tears, the two of us clinging to each other like we were each other’s lifelines. “Me too, Trixie,” I whispered back. “Me too.”

We spent a good few minutes like that, holding each other, letting the tears run until they finally ran dry. I was very glad we were alone in the food court, though. Adagio’s words to me about showing vulnerability or fear came to my mind, making me want to end this, fast.

Trixie withdrew from my embrace, wiping at her face with one hand while still holding mine with the other. For a while, she didn’t speak. “...Sunset, can we… Can we be friends again?”

“For the first time?” I quipped, a smile beginning to form on my lips.

Trixie gently rolled her eyes and smiled back. “Sure. Whatever.”

I nodded, and opened my arms for another hug. “You got it, Trixie.”

Trixie’s smile spread from ear to ear as she hugged me once more, letting out a little cute squee of happiness. “Thank you…”

I started to say thank you back, but the words stuck in my throat. The happiness I’d felt swiftly disappeared, replaced by heart-pounding anxiety.

Adagio was there, right there, across the food court, and she was furious. Not a demonstrative, shaking, quivering fury, oh no. That would’ve been too obvious, too revealing for her. Instead, she just stared over her sunglasses, the cold fury unleashed from her gaze as if the Windigos themselves had returned to cover us all in a blanket of eternal snow. It promised I’d experience a world of suffering and vengeance for this perceived crime.

She spun on her heel and walked away. No sashay in her hips this time.

I wanted to let go of Trixie, to stand up, to reach out an arm, say “This isn’t what it looks like!” or some other cliche tripe. But I didn’t bother. That’d just make Adagio even angrier, because I’d acknowledge what we had in public, exactly the thing she didn’t want. I’d have to speak to her later, and hope that she wasn’t already readying to gut me and rip out my entrails or something.

“Is something wrong, Sunset?” Trixie asked, pulling my attention back to her.

“N-no. Nothing,” I said immediately, shaking my head. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Hmm…” Trixie narrowed her eyes at me. “Okay,” she shrugged. Letting me go, her gaze dropped back to the photograph on the table. “What should we do with this?”

I picked it up and placed it in her hands. “You keep it. It’s yours anyway. Might as well.”

“Oh, Trixie was already planning to do that. That’s not what she means,” Trixie said, as she stuffed the photo into her cloak pocket.

And she’s back to third person. Probably more comfortable for her. I’ll let her have it. She needs all the comfort she can get. “What do you mean, then?”

“Trixie was wondering if we should show it to the others.” Trixie frowned, and scratched her chin. “Trixie thinks it could be an important clue about our situation. Maybe even help us all get along better.”

My mouth twisted into a half frown. “I’m not sure. I want to say you’d be right, but… look, why don’t we sit on it for now? Maybe find a way to introduce it better, rather than just throwing it out there. People might think it’s fake otherwise, or become suspicious of us.”

Trixie paled at that. “Trixie isn’t suspicious though! And neither is Sunset! Not anymore!”

“Yes, you know that, and I know that, but they don’t. And if I saw a picture of, say, Diamond Tiara, Scootaloo, and Timber?” I shook my head. “I’d start feeling pretty unsure about whether I could trust those two. At least, I would now, since they’re still alive, and he isn’t.”

“Oh. Trixie hadn’t thought of it like that.” Trixie’s face screwed up into a pout. “Trixie will have to think of a way to do this. She doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt, after all.”

Neither do I, but tensions are running pretty hot right now. And I was thinking back again to the other thing Adagio said, about me being number one on everyone’s lists. That was the main reason I was holding this picture back, even though part of me was screaming that if we were just open about everything, things would be fine. But that’s not how life works. Especially not in a killing game.

If only we’d found this picture before Wallflower and Timber died. It could’ve made a massive difference. We might’ve been able to band together as a group. We still could. The potential was there. But only if we didn’t screw this up. Blood had already been spilled once. It wouldn’t take much for someone else to make the same mistake, and then we’d be back at it again. And the more people died, the easier it would be for the remaining to justify killing, for the sake of their own survival. It was a vicious negative feedback loop, and we’d already circled that loop once.

“Well, if we can find some way to boost their trust in us,” I said, thinking aloud. “Then maybe they’ll be willing to accept it.”

Trixie held up one index finger and grinned. “Trixie has the perfect idea, then!”

I was about to ask what, but then heard the sound of many footsteps preceding the arrival of everyone else. Even Adagio had been swept up in the crowd, because Diamond Tiara was pushing and shoving, barking orders for everyone to get together. Everybody took individual seats at the food court tables, all muttering under their breath or glaring Tiara’s way. Adagio pointedly sat as far from me as possible, not looking my way at all.

“Everybody! Listen up!” Tiara shouted, silencing everyone except for Rainbow Dash, who was snickering until Tiara flashed her a personal glare. “Now that we’re done exploring, I’ve got something to say. And I’m going to be blunt. We need leadership in this group. A lack of leadership leads to us being disorganized. A lack of leadership keeps us from working together. A lack of leadership is what saw Timber and Wallflower killed! And as I am a natural leader,” she grinned maliciously, “of course it falls to me.”

“Ah beg your pardon?!” Applejack bursted out, flabbergasted. “Number one, this ain’t, like, a club or somethin’. We’re just stuck here together. And number two, if anyone ought to be a leader, it should be Sunset!”

“Me?” I whispered, holding a hand to my breast. This is the last thing I want to be doing right now, AJ…

Diamond Tiara ground her teeth, her eyes falling upon Applejack like two twenty-pound weights falling out a window and onto her head. “What?! Sunset? What has she done other than make stupid speeches that no one’s listened to?”

“Uh, she led us through the trial, for starters,” Flash said, holding up a hand so he could count on his fingers. “She’s done nothing wrong, she’s been nice to everybody, and if Timber and Wallflower had listened to what she was saying? They’d still be alive.”

I risked a quick glance at Adagio to see what she thought, but other than raking her nails on her table, she didn’t seem to react.

“Trixie agrees with Flash!” Trixie stated as she stood from her chair, thrusting out her arm to let her cloak billow behind her. “Sunset has proven she can be trusted.”

“Uh, Trixie,” I said, now deeply worried about where this was going.

Rarity raised a hand. “I’m sorry, darling, but I have to agree with them. I’m certain you have, ah, some leadership skills. Perhaps.” Rarity coughed politely. “But I would prefer Sunset.”

“Ah dunno, AJ’s got a point though,” Apple Bloom spoke up. “Do we even need a leader? Like, ain’t that just beggin’ for more trouble than it’s worth?”

“It’s true,” Adagio spoke up, her voice not so much dripping with acid as bathing in it. “Leaders have a tendency to be assassinated.

Ooooh she’s mad, I thought, wincing.

Apple Bloom arched an eyebrow at Adagio. “That ain’t really what Ah meant.”

Adagio scoffed, shrugging. “Whatever then. Whoever wants to try to lead, go ahead. Just don’t expect us to act like your lap dogs.”

“Maybe we should put it to a vote,” Twilight suggested, gesturing with her hand.

A good few people glowered at her in response. “Should we even be listening to you right now?” Sweetie groused. “You made Monoponi add a new rule!”

“Wait, that was her?” Rainbow Dash asked, crossing her arms over her chest. “What gives, Twilight?”

“I didn’t do it on purpose!” Twilight retorted, her hands moving right back to her hips, just like they had when she lectured Trixie and me. “Trixie and Sunset were being too loud!”

“Oh suuuuure, blame it on Sunset,” Rainbow Dash scoffed. “We’ve never heard anyone do that before.”

Weren’t you, like, against me every single time it came up before and during the trial? I wondered, but I chose not to say it. No need to provoke her.

“Wha--but--I--but it’s true!” Twilight insisted. “You’re supposed to be quiet in a library, anyway!”

“Whatever, egghead.”

Twilight fumed, her face turning a brilliant shade of pink. “Ooooh!”

Okay. I needed to intervene before this went any further. “Hey, uh, guys?” I said, standing to get their attention. “I appreciate the support and all, but I’m not trying to be your leader or anything. I’m just trying to help us get through this.”

“See?” Diamond Tiara pointed a finger at me. “She doesn’t even want the position! So since no one else wants it, it falls to me.” She brushed back her hair with a flourish. “As I said, the natural leader.” She pointed to my chair and made a sit-sit motion with her hand. “Thank you, Sunset,” she said in a simpering tone. “You can sit now.”

With a shrug, I did as I was told. Did I like being bossed around by Diamond Tiara? Hell no! If anything I was itching to stuff her in a trash can or give her a swirly, or something else I would’ve done back when I bullied people. But if I spoke up against her, all I’d do is make things worse. So I decided it was better to just let her hang herself out like bait. It’d be her own fault if anyone snapped her up. And judging by the sheer hatred I saw in Applejack’s eyes, that just might happen.

“So! Now that that’s decided, let’s move on,” Tiara stated. She pulled out a notebook, the same one she’d been using earlier when we were on our run. “Time to report in on what we found. You, Rainbow! You first.”

With a roll of her eyes, Rainbow Dash sat back and placed her hands behind her head, propping up her feet on a nearby empty chair. “So, there’s an arcade. It’s full of all kinds of games! Consoles, arcade cabinets, handhelds, you name it, they got it. Even skeeball and air hockey. You had to scan your Monopad to be able to play anything, but what else is new?”

Pinkie Pie, who’d been staying unusually quiet and forlorn through this whole conversation, took the opportunity to speak up in a sad voice. “But the prizes aren’t so fun. There’s a whole prize counter, but instead of fun things like toys and cards and candy, it’s a whole lotta stupid pointy weapons!”

“She’s right,” I added, noting a few who probably hadn’t set foot in there looked a bit doubtful. “Just about anything and everything, except guns or explosives.”

“Oooh, idea!” Rarity raised a hand, waving it frantically. “What if we took the time to all equip ourselves with a weapon? I’ve taken fencing courses. I can show people how to handle a foil. Then we could all rise up against Monoponi and free ourselves!”

“And get shot full of a million holes in the process?” Adagio sneered. “Thanks, but no thanks. That’d be mutiny. And mutiny’s against the rules.”

“He has magic anyway,” I pointed out, trying not to wince at the furious expression Adagio fired my way as I spoke. “He could just strip us all before we got anywhere near him. We wouldn’t have anything that could hurt him from a distance. He made sure of that.”

Twilight made a face at my statement, muttering under her breath, “But magic… real…” and whatever else she said was too muffled for me to make out.

“Nooo, of course not,” Scootaloo groaned, throwing out her arms in disgust. “Because why give us something we can use against him when he can give us stuff to hurt each other instead.”

“Alright then!” Tiara barked. “New rule: no one touches the weapons! Sunset, there’s a way to track that, right?” I nodded. “Good. Then we’ll know if anyone breaks that rule. Have as much fun in the arcade as you want, but don’t buy any prizes.”

“I think that’s a pretty good idea,” Flash said, nodding. He held a hand to his chin. “I mean, if there’s any good use for one of them, we should buy one, but only if we all do it together so we know who does it. That should keep us honest.”

“Good use?” Tiara arched a dainty eyebrow and held up a questioning hand. “What kind of good use?”

Flash grinned sheepishly, scratching the back of his head. “I uh… I dunno.”

“Whatever. Okay, so that’s it for the arcade. Next!” Tiara scratched something down on her notebook, then pointed to Twilight. “Since you care sooo much about the library, you tell us about it.”

“Well, the library is situated in a multi-story room,” Twilight said, switching to full lecture mode. “The upper floor is stocked with every subject you can think of for non-fiction books, reference text, etc, as well as a study area. The middle floor also contains non-fiction, while the lower floor contains fiction as well as graphic novels and manga.”

“There’s also a door marked ‘archives,’” I added, “that was locked. Couldn’t get inside.”

“And don’t forget the other doors on the lower and middle levels,” Rarity said.

I looked at her, confused. “What other doors?”

“Oh, sorry, darling,” Rarity replied, smiling sheepishly. “I was so excited about the archives I forgot to show you the other doors. They look just like the one we come into the library through from the promenade, so perhaps they lead to other parts of the ship. They’re also locked.”

“That’s logical,” Twilight said with a nod. “It wouldn’t make sense for there to be only one entrance, and on the top floor at that.”

“Question,” Scootaloo said, raising a hand. “I didn’t go to the library. Is there a registry we have to scan our Monopads for or something to check out a book?”

Twilight and Rarity exchanged looks, then both shook their heads at once. “No, strangely,” Twilight answered. “It looks like it’s free for anyone to take any book they want, anytime.”

“Woah, that is weird,” I commented as I sat forward and placed my chin in one hand. “It’s the one place where you’d expect there would at least be a log or a library card or something.

“Who cares?!” Tiara interrupted, throwing up her hands and almost hurling her notebook up in the air in the process. She caught herself from tossing it just in time. “So people can check out books whenever they want. Whoop-de-doo.”

“Uh, no offense intended, ‘yer highness’ or whatever,” Apple Bloom said in a sarcastic tone and throwing out air quotes, prompting her sister to snort with laughter, “But given the situation we’re in, Ah’d feel a bit safer if we had a record of stuff. Know what Ah’m sayin’?”

“We could always make a log book of our own,” Rarity suggested. “We could get a large notebook from one of the stores, and then place it in the library for people to sign. It would be an honor system, I am aware, but it would help, yes?”

I nodded to Rarity. “I like that idea.” It’ll help us trust each other more. Maybe.

Diamond Tiara shot a furious glare in Apple Bloom’s direction, then slowly, calmly, actually swallowed down her rage and broke into a smile. “Yes. I agree. Rarity, would you be willing to take care of that?”

A smile of her own resting on her cheeks, Rarity replied, “Certainly. I’ll do so as soon as we’re finished with this meeting.”

Tiara wrote something else down in her notebook. “Thanks. Okay, so that just leaves the theater. Who all went in there besides me?” I slowly raised my hand, as did Adagio. “Adagio, if you could?”

Adagio shifted in her seat, her nails scratching against the table as she grit her teeth, then grumbled, “It’s a theater. It’s got seats. Stage. Dressing rooms. Workshop. What’s there to tell?”

“Workshop?” I asked without thinking. “What workshop?”

“Oh, you didn’t go into that side of the backstage?” Adagio snarled in a dangerously hostile tone, frigid with fury. “It’s on the other side from the dressing rooms. Maybe you should go back there. See what happens when you’re all alone.”

“Woah, woah there, Adagio,” Flash said, immediately hopping up from his chair and getting between the two of us. “I don’t know what’s got you so mad at Sunset, but cool it, okay? You don’t need to threaten her.”

Adagio rolled her eyes and sat back in her chair. “Who said anything about threats?”

Flash sat back down, but I noticed he kept his eyes squarely on Adagio the whole time. I appreciated that he was looking out for me, but he was painting a target on his back in the process. Dang it, Flash, why do you have to be such a good guy all the time?

“So!” Diamond Tiara said. “Sounds like that’s everything we need to cover for our exploration.” She scratched a few more things down onto her notepad. “As your leader, I’d like to request that we all start meeting up twice a day, at breakfast and at dinner. 8:30 AM and 6:30 PM. This way we don’t have any more… absences.” She looked my way, narrowing her eyes in annoyance. “And it keeps us apprised of everyone’s locations. It’s just safer. We should also avoid going out at night anymore. No more all-night-long parties.”

“Aww…” Pinkie moaned, flatting her face against her table.

Twilight raised her hand. “Are you suggesting a curfew?”

“Yes.” Tiara glared at everyone as many started groaning or making protests. “Not a strict one! Just try to sleep at night and don’t go out. Wallflower went out by herself, and that got her killed. That’s what I want to avoid.”

“Huh. That’s actually a good idea,” Applejack admitted, if grudgingly. “It’s not like you could enforce one anyway. We just gotta try and… trust each other a bit more.”

No one spoke for a while after she said that. We all just kept exchanging glances and looks. I don’t think any of us believed Applejack even meant what she just said. How could we trust each other anymore? One of us had already given in to one of Monoponi’s motives. We hadn’t received another one yet, but it was only a matter of time. And as much as I hated to admit it, someone would probably give in. Trying to deny it would be foolhardy at best, utterly naive at worst.

I wanted to stop more murders from happening, but I wasn’t going to do that by pretending no one would try. I’d have to stay more observant than ever. Keep a close eye on people. Maybe start monitoring my Monopad map. That could track everyone’s positions, and the rules meant people couldn’t just leave their Monopads in their room. Yeah. That was a good idea.

Tiara cleared her throat. “Well, if no one else has anything to say, meeting adj--”

Trixie shot up out of her chair. “Wait! Trixie has an idea she wishes to present!”

Scowling and rolling her eyes, Tiara sat back down and gestured for Trixie to continue. “Go ahead.”

Trixie let out a happy little sound of glee, then struck a pose. “If you all might recall, Trixie suggested putting on a magic show before, at the party. Trixie thinks it’s still a good idea. She could host it in the theater, after dinner one of these nights. Imagine! Dinner and a show!”

Sweetie nudged her sister and whispered quietly, “Hey, where did she get that outfit she’s wearing?”

“I don’t know,” Rarity replied, her nose scrunching up as she tried not to grimace at Trixie’s cloak.

“Hold up a second there, Trixie,” Rainbow Dash objected, throwing out a hand. “I dunno if that’s such a good idea. The last time we did something like that--”

“Yes, Trixie is well aware of what happened, thank you!” Trixie interrupted, glowering fierce daggers at the athlete. “Trixie’s plan is much safer. There will be no alcohol. It will be inside. Everyone will attend.”

“Are ya sayin’ no one’ll be allowed to leave? That’s kinda mean, ain’t it?” Apple Bloom inquired.

“No no, Trixie is not saying that at all,” Trixie replied, waving her hands dismissively. “Trixie is just suggesting that no one be left in their rooms this time. If we all go, then no one will be vulnerable.”

“Alright,” Apple Bloom admitted, nodding, though she still had doubt etched on her face, “but Ah’m still not sure. What kinda tricks are ya gonna put on?”

Trixie grinned eagerly. “Trixie was hoping you would ask that. She wants them to be a surprise, but she will need your help. And Sunset’s.”

Apple Bloom and I shared a look. “Why us?” I asked.

“Because Trixie understands you both know how to construct things, yes? Trixie doesn’t have all the equipment she needs, and she’ll need help making it. With your help, everything will be safe.” She looked directly at me, her expression shifting to a sad, pleading one. “Please.”

I still wasn’t sure about this. If she was needing to construct some kind of trick, that meant she had something dangerous in mind. And I saw the gleam in her eye when Pinkie described the weapons in the game store. I knew she wasn’t going to hurt anyone, but still. “I… sure,” I finally said with a half smile. “I’d be glad to help.” And I can make sure no one messes with it.

“Huh. Buildin’ somethin’, eh? Sure, Ah’d like to do some of that,” Apple Bloom agreed, smiling softly. “It’d be fun.”

“And if you need any help with costumes, I would be happy to sew something up for you,” Rarity offered, one eye twitching as she favored Trixie’s cape with a disdainful look.

“Yes! Trixie would be most happy to accept any offers of help!” Trixie cheered, thrusting out one fist as she leapt in the air.

“Okay, fine, you want to hold a magic show? Sure. You can hold a magic show,” Tiara said with a shrug. “Whatever. But I’ll be supervising! We don’t want a repeat of the party.” She scratched one final thing on her notepad, then smacked a fist on a table as if it were a gavel. “That’s it. Meeting adjourned!”

Everyone dispersed, most heading off in various directions. Adagio, I saw, sped immediately towards her cabin. I wanted to go after her, talk to her now, but I suspected if I did that I might end up regretting it.

Besides, Trixie had corralled Apple Bloom and myself back towards the theater, already running a commentary on her plans. “So Trixie was thinking, she should start with some basics, most of which she can prepare for herself. But she wants it all to lead up to a finale, which is where she will need your help.”

“This, uh, this isn’t leading up to an escape from a water tank that’s going to have piranhas dropped in it after sixty seconds, is it?” I asked hesitantly.

Trixie halted in her tracks, spun, and stared at me, both eyebrows raised. “Excuse Trixie? What kind of basic trick is that?”

“Uh, nothing, nevermind,” I said, letting out a sheepish laugh. “What’d you have in mind?”

Trixie kept her suspicious glare on me for another moment before she started walking again. “Trixie would like to use a much more elaborate trick, one that she has had opportunities to practice in the past. It has many names, but Trixie prefers the name origami.”

“Ah already don’t like where this is goin’,” Apple Bloom muttered, shaking her head.

Trixie’s eyes sparkled as she explained, “Origami is a deceptively simple trick, involving a box, twelve inches square, penetrated by three swords, and a mirror. Without spoiling the magic,” she added with a giggle, “Trixie has an assistant who, after the box is unfolded, gets inside the box. The box is folded back up to its original state. Trixie then thrusts the swords in, one by one, each from a different angle. She turns the box around for the audience to see all sides, then she takes out the swords and opens the box. Trixie’s assistant is unharmed!” Trixie held up a hand to her mouth and laughed. “Isn’t it delightful?”

“I dunno, that sounds really dangerous,” I replied. “Does it have to be real swords?”

“Of course!” Trixie glared at me, huffing. “Trixie wouldn’t demean herself by using fakes! Not that we could make convincing ones anyway.” Trixie, noticing the hesitation all over my face, added, “Trixie would buy the swords from the prize counter with you, Sunset, then store them in her cabin. No one would ever have access to them outside of the show, then they can be put back in Trixie’s cabin afterwards. Trixie has no intention of letting them hurt anyone.”

“Ah think Ah’d be alright with that, so long as Ah was present too,” Apple Bloom said. “We might have ta let Diamond Tiara know, since she’s put on that whole leader schtick and wants to supervise.”

Trixie shrugged. “Trixie is alright with this. Whatever is necessary to ensure no one other than Trixie can touch the swords.”

“Maybe we can make, like, a safety box for the swords,” Apple Bloom suggested. “Just so ya can carry ‘em around easier. Ah think Ah can do that without much trouble. Just need to know the dimensions of the swords.”

“Trixie likes that idea,” Trixie nodded. “Can it be locked?”

“Ah can try.”

As we entered the theater and walked down the steps towards the stage, I turned to Trixie and asked, “So what exactly are you going to need us to build for this trick?”

Trixie launched into an explanation of the specifics. It was simpler than I expected, but still reasonably complex. “Oh, so that’s how it works,” I said when she finished. “That’s pretty cool! I never would’ve thought of that.”

“Right? Trixie is very proud of the design,” Trixie replied, eyes twinkling like purple sapphires.

We spent some time speaking further about the design, and Apple Bloom and I got familiar with the layout of the workshop, or rather, prop shop, Trixie told me. We made plans to get started and gather materials. Most were already available, but we needed a few things from the stores. I told them I’d go and get them, but that I needed to do something else first.

Adagio… we need to talk.

Author's Note:

Romance is all well and good, but what's often better than that in stories? Friendshipping! Trixie and Sunset may very well become best friends through this experience.

Or not. I'll never tell. :trollestia:

Adagio, meanwhile, is falling prey to the typical misinterpretation cliche. Oh dear. :ajbemused: And speaking of stupidity, what the heck do you think you're doing making Monoponi create new rules, Twilight? Jeez.

The origami trick is a real magic trick, originally devised by Jim Steinmeyer for Doug Henning to perform. Many magicians would go on to make their own versions, with the most popular being David Copperfield's, where he adds some extra wrinkles, such as his assistant magically wearing a different outfit when she emerges from the box. I intended from the start to let Trixie put on a magic show, with something a bit more impressive than the easily solved water tank escape that the so-called Ultimate Magician performed in V3. (Seriously, she wasn't even tied up! I still love Himiko because she's adorable, but jeez.)

Next Time: Part III

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