• 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 Four: Passing in the Night Part 4

Chapter Four:
Passing in the Night
Daily Life Part 4

I scurried my way down to the go-kart course, finding the others already engaged in a race. Karts whizzed by me at incredible speeds, making me glad there was no dust or dirt to stir up. As it turned out, the few who weren’t racing were sitting spread out in the bleachers, so I wandered over to return Diamond Tiara’s key to her first. “There you are,” she groaned as she slipped it into her pocket. “What took you so long?”

“I was talking with her,” I shrugged. “Had some things to say.”

“Huh. Don’t know what else anyone would have to say to a murderous psychopath like her,” Tiara sneered, glaring at me. Then her sneer faded away. “But that’s your business.”

“She’s not a psychopath, Tiara,” I growled back. “She made a mistake. A horrible mistake. But she regrets it.”

“Oh I’m sure she does,” Tiara retorted with a snort. “I’d regret it too if I got locked up. Just forget about her. She betrayed your friendship. Not worth your time.”

“She’s still my friend,” I grumbled, but I decided this argument wasn’t worth it. So I stomped over to the equipment rental stand. Or, as it turned out, the purchase stand, because apparently the stuff was ours to keep. So I picked out a few pieces of equipment, including the knee pads, shoulder pads, and helmet that were required, and then filled in a block of time for the go-kart. It bleeped a message at me about waiting for the current race to be over, so I took my equipment and sat back down, taking the time to strap it on.

The current race soon ended, with Rainbow Dash blitzing past Flash Sentry in a photo finish, followed close behind by Adagio, with Scoolaoo bringing up the rear. I noticed with interest that as soon as they crossed the finish line the engines died out, and a guideline dipped down from the ceiling to attach to the upraised hook on each kart, safely guiding it to a parked position.

“Wooo! Awww yeah!” Rainbow Dash whooped as she emerged from her red kart. “That’s the second win in a row for me!”

“Dang it, last again!” Scootaloo groaned, doubling over in frustration from her seat in her yellow kart. “I keep running into the barrier on that one turn.”

“Eh, don’t worry about it, squirt,” Rainbow Dash said, slapping the younger woman on her back. “You’ll get it eventually.” She looked up and spotted me. “There you are, Sunset! What the heck took you so long?”

“Sorry, I apologized as I came onto the track, waiting patiently for the garage to dispense a kart for me. “I had a long talk with Trixie.”

Rainbow Dash snorted. “Dunno what for, but hey, I get it. She was your friend. I might feel the same way if I were in your shoes.”

Flash stepped out of his green kart and took a moment to clear his throat. The poor guy was still clad in his arctic coat, despite the obvious sheen of sweat on his brow. “H-hey,” he said, grinning at me, his voice still hoarse. “You gonna join us for the next race?”

“She’d better,” Adagio said as she emerged from her purple kart, sauntering up to me and slapping an arm around my shoulder. “I want to see if she’s all talk or if she’s as good at racing as she is… elsewhere.”

My face turned beet red as everyone burst into laughter at the implications of that. “Adagio…” I grumbled, rolling my eyes in exasperation. Funny how assertive she’s become with our relationship in public since we were outed. “Yeah, I’m going to race.”

Just in the nick of time, my kart rolled out of the garage, lining up with the others. A robotic voice called out overhead, “The race is about to begin. All racers, please enter your karts.”

"By the way," I said, reaching into my pocket and placing her knife in her hand. "Here's your knife back."

"And here I thought you'd let Trixie keep it," Adagio purred.

I separated from my siren lover and made my way to my kart, slipping inside easily. It was small, quite the tight fit, though there was enough room for me to set something under my legs if I needed to, like a water bottle or two. I made sure to buckle in the safety belt, strapped over both shoulders and locked in tight. I felt for the gas and brake pedals with my feet, finding them perfectly positioned. The electric motors thrummed under me, a pleasant vibration that brought forth familiar feelings from days spent zooming around on my bike.

It didn't have quite the same feel as my motorcycle. There was no scent of gasoline, no thin seat under my butt. My legs were laid out rather than hanging down. But it was close enough to provide a sense of freedom that had been sorely lacking as of late. Even if I was limited to a track. And could only race for so long. And was limited in how fast I could go by the electrical motor.

… damn it. It wasn’t freeing at all, was it?

Well hopefully it would still be fun. I gunned the engine, and while it didn’t make the roaring sound my motorcycle might, it still thrummed harder. A savage grin split my face as I gripped my steering wheel, raring to go.





With a controlled burst of speed I surged ahead of the group, passing by Flash and Rainbow on the initial curve. Thanks to the linear acceleration and lack of gear switching I was free to concentrate on my steering alone. It took me a moment to get a feel for the kart. To my delight it turned not just on the proverbial dime, but even tighter, bending around the corners in a way I could only wish my motorcycle would manage. A digital speedometer on the otherwise blank dashboard kept track of my speed, in miles per hour. Forty. Fifty. I managed to get it up to sixty even on the straightaway, though as I did so Rainbow Dash came surging from behind, laughing that raspy laugh of hers as she passed me by.

My savage grin only grew as I poured my effort into the next set of turns, dancing and wheeling around the others like a ballerina on the stage, all elegance and grace with not a hint of real danger. At one point I brushed by within barest inches of Adagio’s wheels, narrowly cutting between her and Scootaloo to catch back up with Rainbow Dash at the head. The smell of rubber and the rich sound of wheels on asphalt cut through the air, filling me with a thrilling sense of glee I hadn’t felt since we’d arrived on this cruise ship.

As we neared the final turn, I banked around the corner, taking it tighter than even Rainbow Dash dared. I scooted right by her and shoved my gas pedal to the metal, accelerating as fast as possible towards the finish line. I could see Rarity and Applejack cheering me on in the stands. Rainbow Dash came in close behind, but our karts had identical performance. There was nothing she could do to catch up, not now. I passed by the final line, the flag waving, the robotic voice declaring the “pink driver” the winner as my kart scooted to a stop.

“Holy shit, Sunset!” Rainbow Dash cried as she leapt out of her kart, running over with a mixed expression of awe and irritation crossing her face. She held up a hand for a high five. “You weren’t kidding, were you?”

I slapped my hand against hers, laughing as the afterglow of triumph washed through me. “Nope,” I said with a well deserved smug smirk. “I warned you.”

“You almost ran me off the track though,” Scootaloo said, shivering as she left her kart. She headed for the stands straight away, clutching herself. “That was too scary for me!”

“Sorry,” I said, smiling sheepishly. “Sounds like you need to take a break.”

Adagio, her mouth twisted into a deep frown, strode up to me from her cart and jammed her finger into my chest. “You, Sunset, are certifiably insane!” She threw her arms around me and squeezed me tight. “Don’t scare me like that!”

I held her back, repressing a desire to laugh. “Hey, you wanted to see if I was all talk. And I’m not.”

“Hmph. I guess not,” Adagio muttered, withdrawing from the hug. One corner of her mouth turned up in a brief half-smile. “Guess I’ll just have to race you again.”

“Count me in,” Flash said, grinning at me. “I underestimated you, Sunset.”

“No kidding,” Rainbow Dash said, waving her arms. “No way am I leaving it there. Let’s go again!”

We hopped back into our cars and got ready for a second race. Having proved my point with the initial race, I didn’t feel the need to take this one as seriously. I still breezed past Flash, who was taking it easy, and Rainbow Dash, who’d clipped a corner with her wheel juuust enough to slow herself down and let Adagio and I overtake her. It was the two of us neck and neck for the final stretch, but just like with the first race, I took the final corner on the inside, and Adagio didn’t have a prayer. I blew past the finish line with plenty of space between her and me, an easy victory.

“Jeez, Sunset, you don’t let up, do you?” Flash laughed.

“No, she doesn’t,” Adagio grumbled, though the grin on her face gave away her real feelings.

Rainbow Dash stumbled out of her kart, taking a few missteps here and there before shaking her head to clear it. “Woah. I gotta be more careful.”

“Are you okay, Dash?” I asked, stepping over and holding up three fingers. “How many fingers am I holding up?”

She snickered and brushed my hand aside. “Three. I’m fine. Just a bit dizzy. I didn’t hit my head. I’ve taken harder knocks than that being dumped on the mat at the dojo. Cmon, let’s go again!”

We went around the track a good four more times, but every time the result was the same. Sometimes it was Flash in second, sometimes Dash, but I was always in first. No one else seemed to want to take that last corner as tight as I did, and I didn’t blame them, It was an outright hairpin turn, almost a flat 180 degrees. You could easily hurt yourself badly if you clipped the wall too tight.

“Okay, okay, I give up!” Rainbow Dash declared, holding up her hands in surrender. “I can’t beat you. I don’t think any of us can.”

I brushed off my shoulders and struck the smuggest pose I could think of, with my hands on my hips and the biggest shit-eating grin I’ve ever had plastered on my face. “Was there ever any doubt?”

“Yes,” Adagio quipped dryly, glaring at me. “Yes, there was.”

“Alright, alright, why don’t we all take a break for lunch, and then we can go start up the hockey game in a few hours. Say around 5:00?” Rainbow Dash suggested, looking at her Monopad.

I glanced at my own to see the time. Wow. 2:00 PM already. No wonder I’m hungry. I’d better make sure to get Trixie her books soon too. I can pick those up on the way back.

“Well if you’re going to lunch,” Tiara said, stopping me as I left the track, “you can go feed Trixie. Since she’s still your friend and all.” She slapped the key in my hand with a grimace.

“Sure thing,” I said with a frown. “You okay, Tiara?”

“Oh, just fine, just fine,” Tiara muttered, waving me off. “Go, go. I want to be alone right now.”

“Uh, okay then,” I shrugged.

I parted ways with Adagio, telling her I’d meet up for lunch in a bit, then scurried to the library. I swiftly picked out a few different books I thought Trixie would like, some high fantasy and one science fantasy novel, making sure to sign the log with my name. Then I went and grabbed her some lunch, stopping by my cabin on the way back to grab her father’s book. “Hey Trixie,” I said, knocking on the door. “I’m here with lunch.”

I unlocked the door and went in, closing it behind me. Trixie was wearing a fresh set of clothes, her hair neatly brushed, and on the whole she looked far better than she had this morning. Her dirty clothes were crumpled up in a large plastic bag in one corner of the room. “Hello, Sunset,” she said with a small smile.

“Hey.” I set her tray down on the desk, then rummaged through my backpack. “I brought the books, like I said I would. Including this one.” I handed her Jackpot’s book.

She took it carefully, like it was a puppy or an infant, and cradled it in her arms. One corner of her mouth turned up in a half smile, her nose wrinkling from the frown on the other side. She stroked the cover, her eyes dancing across it with a flurry of emotions. “I wonder what he’d think of Trixie now.”

“Well, we won’t find out if we stay here,” I said, pulling out her chair and gesturing at it. “You should sit and eat.” I set the other books I got her on the bed. “Hopefully these’ll keep you happy for a while.”

Trixie tucked into her food, chowing it down with the enthusiasm of a teenage boy, or in other words, slightly less ravenously than she had this morning. She still finished it pretty darn quick. While she ate, I gave her a quick rundown on what had happened with the group, especially last night and this morning, prior to the motive meeting. “So everyone’s getting along now. I think we have a decent shot of beating Monoponi’s motive this time.”

“Trixie hopes so.” Trixie stared down at her empty tray, her expression glum. “Though it sounds like none of them will ever trust Trixie again.”

“Maybe, maybe not,” I said, frowning. “It’s going to take a lot of time. If I can, I’ll try and get them to be okay with letting you out of here. But that might take a few days.”

“No, it’s okay, Trixie would rather stay in here.” Trixie wrapped her arms around herself and shivered. “Trixie is worried one of them might try to kill her, otherwise.”

Yeah, me too. Luckily I think the only ones who’d do that aren’t the ones with keys. “Okay. So long as you’re sure, then. I’d better get going. I promised Adagio I’d eat lunch with her.”

“Okay,” Trixie said, waving as I took her tray. “Bye.”

I left the room, making sure to lock it back up, and headed back to the food court, dropping off Trixie’s tray in the process. As I joined everyone at lunch, I noticed a few of them, Applejack, Rainbow, and Flash in particular, giving me some nasty glares. “Ah heard from Rainbow you’ve been hangin’ out with Trixie,” Applejack said without preamble.

“I’ve been talking with her, if that’s what you mean,” I said as I sat down next to Adagio. “She’s feeling a lot of remorse and regret for what she’s done. She wishes she hadn’t done it.”

“Well wishes aren’t going to bring back Twilight,” Flash grunted as he dipped his spoon into his soup. I noticed he’d been eating nothing but soup lately.

“Trixie’s still my friend,” I insisted, refusing to back down from their stares even as they intensified. “I haven’t forgiven her for what she’s done either, but I’m still going to look out for her.”

Rainbow Dash snorted, and casually flipped me off with her left hand while stuffing a sandwich in her mouth with the other. “Whatever, Sunset. She’ll never be my friend though. Don’t expect us to like her.” She glanced at her left hand, choked on her food then retracted her finger. She dashed a quick splash of water down her throat then said, “Whoops, sorry. That, uh, that was meant for Trixie. Not you.”

“I figured,” I grumbled, taking a bite of my own food. “I’m not asking for you to be her friend, or to like her. If I want to talk to her though, that’s my business.”

“Well, I for one think it’s a good thing you’re trying to repair your friendship,” Rarity said, smiling at me. She let out a quiet sigh and leaned against Applejack, snuggling into the farmer’s shoulder. “I suppose if you’re able to find it in your heart to try, perhaps I should do the same. I did quite like the dear before… well.”

Applejack frowned at Rarity and pulled away from her, leaving Rarity letting out a quiet whine. “Ah’d prefer if you didn’t do that Rarity. Because the way Ah see it, Trixie don’t deserve much mercy. Ah ain’t sayin’ I’d string her up or nothin’, but Ah wouldn’t be too sad if she went to jail forever. And Ah’m not sure she deserves regular visits neither.”

Rarity shot Applejack a dark glare, but said nothing, and quietly scooted over further away from the farmer.

“Seriously,” Tiara seconded, and I almost choked on my own food hearing her second something Applejack said, even if they were getting along now. “She murdered Pinkie in cold blood. Why are you wasting your time on her?”

“Because she only did that because of this killing game!” I shouted, slamming my fist down on the table, knocking over several open drinks in the process. “She never would have done that otherwise. For pete’s sake, you guys, you’re making her sound like some kind of serial killer!”

Flash groaned, stumbled over to one of the restaurant stands and got a pile of napkins, bringing them over to help cleanup what I’d just spilled. “Sunset, you need to calm down,” he grunted. “Yelling at us won’t help.”

“Especially not over Trixie,” Scootaloo seconded, glaring at me as she assisted him. “Haven’t we done enough fighting, already?”

Adagio set a hand on my shoulder, gripping it firmly, but not uncomfortably. “She’s right,” she whispered into my ear. “You should listen.”

I twitched at her touch, breathing heavily, trying to calm my now racing heart. “R-right,” I muttered after a moment or two. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have shouted.” I stood up and grabbed my own pile of napkins. “Here, let me help.”

We got the mess cleaned up in a hurry and everyone’s drinks replaced. Not for the first time I was grateful that we didn’t have to spend a dime on any of what we ate or drank. I’d be pissed at someone if I spent ten bucks on a drink only to have it be wasted. I shouldn’t say anything about it though. I don’t want to give Monoponi any awful ideas.

“So, we’re still up for hockey later, right?” Rainbow Dash asked once we’d all sat back down. “Flash, me, and the squirt versus you, Adagio, and Applejack.”

Applejack glanced at Rarity, eyes narrowed into slits when she saw the daggers fired her way. She sniffed and pointedly looked away. “Ah guess Ah can do that. I’m not sure Ah really know the rules though. Ah’ve never been a fan of hockey. Ah prefer football.”

“It’s not that hard,” Dash said, and proceeded to give a basic explanation. “There’s only going to be three of us, so one of us’ll have to be the goalkeeper, and the other two will be the defense and offense. We can ignore a few of the rules, like being offsides, because there’s so few of us. We might need a referee though. Hey, Rares, you--”

“Oh, no, darling, I don’t think so,” Rarity said, holding up a hand to stop her. “I think I’d rather spend the evening alone.” With one last glare at Applejack, Rarity rose out of her seat and strode off.

“Fine!” Applejack called after her. “Ah didn’t want your support anyway.”

A quiet sense of shame filled me. I picked at my food, not paying much attention as Rainbow Dash negotiated for Tiara to be the referee instead. Damn it. So much for them getting along.

We finished our lunches in a hurry and agreed to meet up at about 4:40 or so to get our equipment for the hockey game before starting it. Meanwhile, Adagio and I decided to wander down to the Pegasus experience wind tunnels to give them a try. “Am I the only one who’s worried?” Adagio asked me as we stopped by the shop to fetch the necessary equipment.

“No,” I answered glumly. “I’m worried too. It seemed like everyone was getting along. Was.”

“Exactly,” Adagio said, frowning so deeply her brow creased up like an old woman’s. “This is just like the pool party. Or the magic show. Something’s going to go wrong tonight. I can feel it.”

I looked up at her. “Are you afraid someone’s going to give in to Monoponi’s motive?”

“It’s a tempting one,” Adagio admitted, rubbing at her chin. “I can think of a lot someone could do with a political favor like he’s offering.”

“Me too, but I’m hoping no one will give in,” I argued as we carried our collected equipment into the changing room. “We’ve all got too much to lose. You and me are together, Rainbow and Flash are best buddies, Applejack and Rarity are…fighting, but I doubt it’d be enough for them to kill each other over… Scootaloo’s got a big crush on Rainbow Dash and she gets so mad when someone dies I can’t ever see her hurting someone else.”

“But Diamond Tiara. You didn’t mention Diamond Tiara,” Adagio pointed out as she donned her bodysuit. “Or Trixie.”

“Trixie’s locked up, Adagio. She can’t hurt anyone,” I growled, a bit of fiery anger coursing through my veins. I clenched my fists then let them relax, trying to work it out of my system. “And Diamond Tiara, she… I’m pretty sure she won’t kill anyone. Ever.”

Adagio’s eyebrows shot to the top of her head. “Why?”

I glanced around me, making sure no one was listening, before leaning in to whisper, “Because I’m pretty sure she’s the traitor.”

“What?” Adagio paused in the process donning the rest of her equipment to give me a look of disbelief. “What makes you think that? Her secret didn't say she was the traitor. If anyone's the traitor, it's Rainbow Dash. We didn't learn her secret, remember?"

"No, but..." I frowned, my brow creasing as I thought about this. "Something about the way Monoponi talked about the secrets makes me worried we misunderstood something about them. Like, there's a hidden meaning."

"Or," Adagio countered with a snort, "you're overthinking things. I don't like or trust Tiara, but she's not the one whose secret we didn't learn."

"I know that, Adagio. But I can't see Rainbow Dash being the traitor. She's too... loyal."

"Loyal." Adagio rolled her eyes. "Really? That's your excuse? She's too loyal?"

"Well she is!" I held up my Monopad and tabbed over to Fluttershy's profile, showed it to her, then pulled up Flash's and showed her that too. "Look, she was attached to the hip with Fluttershy, always supporting her, always had her back until Shy died. Now she's doing the same thing with Flash. And you saw how she reacted when she thought she killed Pinkie. I just can't see it."

Adagio shook her head and sighed. "That's the pony in you, Sunset. Always seeing the good parts of people, never wanting to see the bad."

"Is that so wrong?"

"No, it's not." Adagio finished putting on her equipment, then looked at me. "You know, if you are right about Tiara, it would explain a lot."

“It would,” I agreed. “It might also explain something she said once, a while back. I don’t think anyone else heard her at the time.”

“What’s that?”

I finished putting on my own equipment and we headed back out to request the time slot. “Remember how, during Apple Bloom’s trial, when I accused Sweetie Belle, everyone thought it would have been Diamond Tiara? And how she said she’d never kill anyone just because she didn’t like them?”

Adagio ran her Monopad on the scanner and dialed up a session in the right wind tunnel. “I remember. What about it?”

“Well, she said something right after that,” I said as I ran my own Monopad. “I was looking right at her, and I only noticed because I saw her lips move. She whispered, ‘I’d make someone else do it.’”

“And you think she was talking about being the traitor?”

“Well, yeah, I do,” I said, frowning as we approached our respective wind tunnels. “She wouldn’t shut up about me being the traitor, like she was trying to deflect blame. And then the very next day she completely flipped around and has since acted like she’s been my friend all along. She’s been provoking us, Adagio. She’s been keeping us tense, angry. Just watch. She’s going to do something as referee during the hockey game. I’m sure of it.”

Adagio said something in response, but I didn’t hear her, because the hooks came down to attach to us and the wind tunnels started up. I spread out my arms and legs as the sheer solid wave of gale force winds thrust me upwards, like I was floating in the sky. I surged up and up until I reached the top of the tunnel. I realized I could see out onto the deck of the ship from there. The tunnels poked up on the deck on the other side of the bridge tower. I could see the very bow of the ship, complete with an observation deck, and another outdoor lounge similar to the one we had access to.

I also became very aware I was floating dozens of feet in the air, with little holding me up save for fans and a safety hook. I squeezed my eyes shut and tensed my whole body, waiting for the panic to set in. The flashes of memory. The mistakes. The fear and pain, when I transformed into that demon.

But they didn’t come. I blinked, let my body relax, and floated. Nothing entered my mind, save an odd feeling of peace. Okay, yes, the fans were loud and blowing my hair constantly, leaving it fluttering like a tarp in a hurricane, and yet somehow it was just as relaxing as the spa, in its own way. Maybe I’ve got less on my mind weighing me down than I realized. Or maybe I’m just going insane, and the hot air of bullshit I’m spewing at myself is what’s keeping me from falling.

I’m barely hanging on, it feels like. The go-kart race, the hockey game, this wind tunnel, these are all just distractions. Pointless distractions. No one’s doing any better than I am. Just look at Rarity, for example. She’s clinging to Applejack because she’s chasing the shadow of a memory of a marriage she never knew she had. Applejack’s obviously not much better, judging by how easily she gets angry at her. If they don’t get their memories back, their relationship is going to crash and burn so bad it’ll make a train wreck look like two kids colliding in a shopping mall.

Flash and Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, are hanging onto each other for support so much I’m worried they’ll become codependent. And Flash must be sick with something. No idea what, but if he’s gotten sick, that’s deeply worrying. We might all get sick, Monoponi’s intended motive or not.

I can’t get a bead on Scootaloo. She follows after Rainbow Dash like a lovesick puppy, or a fangirl, but other than that, ever since Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle died she’s kept to herself. Like she can’t connect with the rest of us, since we’re all older than she is. She seems fine, but maybe I should spend some time with her, just to make sure she’ll be okay. We don’t need another drug addict.

God. If any of us get out of here alive we’ll be in therapy for the rest of our lives.

Before I knew it, the winds died down, letting us float safely to the ground. I unhooked myself from the safety and left the tube. “You know, I don’t think I need to do that again,” I said to Adagio. “Once was enough.”

“Agreed,” Adagio said, grimacing. “It wasn’t anything like what I remembered of flying.”

“I don’t remember much of flying in Equestria,” I admitted as we went back to the changing room. “Mostly riding around on pegasi-pulled chariots. ...aand the one time I turned into a demon.”

“A demon?” Adagio snorted, a smile spreading on her face. “What, more of a demon than usual?”

“Haha,” I said dryly. I held up a hand to stave off further questions. “Don’t ask the details. I don’t remember them and trying’ll knock me out again.”

Adagio and I continued to make small talk to pass the time while waiting for the hockey game. We met up with the others at the ice rink around 4:45, and we all lined up in turn to get our ice skates. Luckily finding a good pair that fit was easy for all of us, so it didn’t take long. Rainbow Dash made sure to get the hockey equipment for everyone, including masks, and I brought along my helmet and knee and shoulder pads from the go-kart track. Almost everyone was here, save for Rarity and Trixie.

Once we’d gathered our equipment together, and spent a couple minutes acclimating to our ice skates, Rainbow Dash dialed up a request for the hockey goals to drop. They descended from the ceiling and settled in place. Lights underneath the rink switched on, altering the lines on the rink to correspond with hockey’s marking requirements. “Okay, Flash, you should be goalie for our team. Scootaloo and I’ll handle offense and defense.”

“Ah guess Ah’ll be goalie for us, if you don’t mind, Sunset,” Applejack said.

“Okay, get in places, people,” Diamond Tiara ordered. “Don’t forget: we’re not counting the offsides rule.” She set down a hockey puck in the center, and pulled out a whistle she’d gotten from the sporting goods store. Skating out of our way, she placed the whistle in her mouth and blew it, hard. “Go!”

With a swift slap of my stick I reached out for the puck, trying to get it before Rainbow Dash had it. I just barely managed to pass it along to Adagio, who smoothly skated around Scootaloo and knocked the puck back my way. I skated forward to take the puck only to be body checked out of the way by Rainbow Dash, who cackled as she passed the puck over to Scootaloo. I fell to one knee, grateful for the protection of the pad as I used my hockey stick to stand back up.

Adagio chased after Scootaloo, who used her smaller stature to her advantage, speeding along like a drag racer as she made her way towards Applejack. Applejack, for her part, stood ready to intercept the puck. I sped after them as well only to be intercepted by Rainbow Dash, who kept blocking my way, keeping me from interfering.

Scootaloo slammed the puck with full force directly at Applejack, who intercepted it just in time with her hand, knocking it back down to the ice. Adagio gracefully took it right up and passed it my way, the distraction just enough for me to elbow Rainbow Dash so I could take the puck this time.

Together, Adagio and I made quick work getting to Flash, leaving Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash scurrying in our wake trying to catch up. I passed the puck over to Adagio with a quick slap of my stick, and she used it to set up a goal shot, firing it like a rocket. Flash, despite his name, had no chance of stopping it in time. With a loud fwheet! of her whistle, Diamond Tiara called out, “Goal! One zip!”

“Aww man!” Scootaloo and Flash groaned in unison.

“Nice one, Adagio!” I cheered as we went back to our starting positions.

“Don’t expect your lead to last long,” Rainbow Dash said with a confident smirk, though I caught her rubbing at her stomach where I’d hit her.

“We’ll see,” I replied, smirking in turn.

Tiara dropped off the puck, and away we went for the second round. Rainbow Dash quickly took hold of the puck this time, skating around me more aggressively and cutting me off with her hockey stick anytime I closed the distance before suddenly slapping the puck over to Scootaloo. Adagio attempted to intercept but it sailed right between her legs, and Scootaloo immediately took a shot at the goal. This time Applejack missed it, and Tiara blew on her whistle again. “One-one!” she declared.

“Haha, awesome!” Dash said, exchanging a quick high five with Scootaloo.

Scootaloo beamed under the praise as if she’d never been more proud of herself in her life. “All in the wrist,” she quipped.

We took our places again, and kept going back and forth like this. By the end of the first period, we were tied at four each. We settled down on the bleachers for a well-deserved break, setting our masks aside, though most of us kept the rest of our safety equipment on. I was panting and sweating buckets despite the cold air in the rink, and greedily slurped all the water I had as quickly as I could swallow it. We’d settled on only two periods for our game, so we’d have to play harder if we wanted to beat them. And I wanted to. The drive, the pride instilled in me by my pre-redemption self would settle for no less. I don’t lose.

To my surprise I saw Rarity enter the ice rink during our break. She stepped cautiously and carefully over to Diamond Tiara, deliberately ignoring Applejack who was sitting right next to her. “Pardon me, Diamond darling, but could I trouble you for the key to Trixie’s room? I wanted to speak with her.”

“What?” Applejack snorted. “Rarity, Ah told you that you shouldn’t be talkin’ to her. She’s a murderer.”

“Excuse you, Applejack,” Rarity snarled, her voice low and menacing in a way that sent shivers down my spine. “But I don’t recall needing to ask for your permission!”

Applejack stood up from her seat, towering over the seamstress. “Ah didn’t say you needed it,” she growled back, face red with outrage. “Ah’m just sayin’ Trixie ain’t worth your time.”

I sat forward, getting ready to intervene if I needed to, and kept my eyes squarely fixed on Tiara. If she starts something, it’d be now.

And sure enough, Tiara, with a small smile on her face, pulled out the key from her pocket and tossed it over to Rarity. “Here you go, Rarity. Knock yourself out.”

“Thank you,” Rarity said, bowing her head at Tiara as she slipped the key into her pocket. “I’m glad at least someone is willing to be a reasonable human being.”

Applejack stepped forward and latched onto Rarity’s arm before Rarity could step away. “Give me that key, Rarity,” she insisted. “Ah ain’t gonna let you go talk to Trixie.”

Rarity gasped in shock, and tried pulling away, unable to match the farmer’s strength despite her own considerable muscle power. “Unhand me this instant, you, you ruffian!” she cried out. “Or did your apology this morning mean nothing after all?”

Applejack released Rarity’s arm by hurling it away with her full strength, sending Rarity crashing into the bleachers. To her credit, Rarity managed to fall elegantly, preventing any real injury by catching herself with her hands, though she still let out a cry of shock. “Damn it, Rarity, Ah meant my apology then and Ah still do! But Trixie is--”

“Be quiet!” Rarity thundered as she stood up. A black look of pure rage crossed her features as she approached Applejack and belted her across the face with the palm of her hand, sending Applejack spinning to the ground from the sudden unexpected force. Applejack managed to catch herself on one knee at least. “You utter hypocrite! You claim to apologize to me and then you toss me around like a child throwing a tantrum. All I wanted to do was take some time to speak with someone who shows proper remorse for her misdeeds, unlike a certain farmer I could name!”

Applejack leapt up to her feet, a large pink handprint throbbing on her cheek. “Oh like you’re any better!” she roared, spittle flying out of her mouth. “You keep hittin’ me every time you’re even a little bit upset. Ah don’t know about you but last Ah checked, you weren’t supposed to hit your partner!”

“Unless they ask nicely,” Rainbow Dash quipped with a leer on her face.

“Sssh!” Adagio, I, and Scootaloo all hissed at her.

“Sorry, sorry.”

Rarity smoothed out wrinkles in her dress and stood her ground, adopting a defensive stance I recognized from her martial arts practice. “Oh I’m sooo sorry, Applejack,” she sneered, “if I might be a little bit upset or unhinged, what with the fact that I watched my sister be tortured to death in front of me less than a week ago!

“And mine died in mah arms!” Applejack snarled in turn, bringing up her fists. “Because your sister killed her!”

“I haven’t forgotten that fact!” Rarity fired back, her immaculately coiffed hair coming undone as she ranted. “And I apologized for it! Many times! Some more vigorous than others!” Her upper lip curled up in disgust. “Which I thoroughly regret now.”

“Ah never asked you to apologize, especially not like that!” Applejack screamed, pure outrage pouring off of her in waves like fire. “Ah never once blamed you! For pete’s sake, Rarity, Ah’m not the bad guy here!”

“Oh, so I am, is that it?” Rarity retorted, arms poised to strike if Applejack came even an inch closer.

“No! The only bad guy here is Trixie!” Applejack insisted. She took a step towards Rarity. “And all Ah’m sayin’ is--”

Rarity cold-cocked Applejack across the jaw. No slap this time, but a solid punch. It was only Applejack’s iron constitution that prevented her jaw from breaking under the blow. She stumbled back, so startled by it she landed on the floor, thankfully with her helmet cracking against the pavement instead of her skull.

“No,” Rarity said, glaring down at the farmer she’d laid out on the floor. “I’m tired of listening to you. You’ve repeatedly insulted me, you throw me around like I’m a possession, and you won’t respect my personal space and allow me to choose my own friends. I told you I was giving you one last chance, and you have squandered it! I don’t know what my pre-killing-game self saw in you Applejack, but whatever it was, it’s obviously not there anymore. We’re through!”

She let out one last huff, spun on her heel, and stomped her way out of the rink.

Applejack stumbled to her feet after a moment, holding a hand to her split lip. Pink pooled in her palm. “Damn it, Rarity,” she moaned. “Why you always gotta be so difficult?”

Scootaloo shook her head and wrapped an arm around Applejack’s shoulder, escorting her to the bathrooms. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up.”

Damn it, why didn’t I do anything? I rolled my eyes. Because you didn’t want to get hit by either of them, Sunset. I should go after her. Yeah. “I’m going after her,” I muttered to Adagio. “Sorry, Rainbow, but I won’t be playing the rest of the game.”

“That’s fine,” Rainbow shrugged. “Iiii kinda figured that’d be the case. Flash, you wanna go race some more on the go-kart track?”

“Sure, might as well,” he said with a shrug.

“You wanna join us, Tiara?” Dash asked.

“Nah,” Tiara said, shaking her head. She glanced in the direction of the bathrooms and I swear I saw another amused smirk briefly cross her face. “I’m going to the library, if no one else’s playing hockey.”

“Good luck,” Adagio said. “I’ll meet you at your cabin later tonight.”

I flashed her a thumbs up as I sped my way out through the access corridor door. I knew Rarity was heading for Trixie’s room, so I wanted to try and cut her off. I raced down the straightaway, taking the turn wide by swinging on a convenient pole, and then clambered up the stairs, huffing and puffing the whole way. A nasty stitch formed in my side as I managed to get up to the cabin level, but I’d made it. I fell to the floor, wheezing for breath right in front of Trixie’s cabin.

Soon after Rarity walked up, still seething. “Sunset Shimmer?” she gasped, kneeling down to look me over. “Are you alright, darling? How did you beat me here?”

“I’m fine,” I gasped, managing to catch my breath as I slowly climbed to my feet, using the door for stability. “Just ran. The whole way. From there.” I pointed towards the access corridor stairwell.

“Ah. Naturally. I should have figured.” Rarity said with a quiet little laugh and an amused roll of her eyes. “Can I help you?”

“I wanted to make sure you were okay, after… what just happened,” I said.

Rarity’s smile dimmed, one side of her mouth turning downward. “No. No, I’m not.” As tears brimmed in her eyes, I held out my arms, inviting her for a hug. She flung herself on me with her usual melodramatic flair. “Oh, Sunset, why do I do this to myself? Why do I make myself vulnerable time and again only for someone like Applejack to shatter my heart with their careless actions? Why can’t I just find a good, decent person?”

I rubbed my hands up and down her back in a soothing gesture, trying to calm her down. “Hey, hey, it’s okay, it’s okay,” I whispered. “I know it’s rough, but I’m here for you. I’m your friend, Rarity, and I won’t give up on you. Ever.”

“Oh thank you, thank you,” Rarity said, nuzzling into my shoulder. She let out a small hiccup, her breath hitching as she laughed. “Goodness, look at me. This killing game has been nothing but awful. At least I’ve gotten to make friends like you.” She glanced at the door. “And… Trixie. I said some pretty awful things to her at the trial. If she’s as remorseful as you claim, I hope she’ll find it in her heart to forgive me for them.”

I withdrew from the hug, patting her on the shoulder. “I’m sure she will. Would you like me to be there with you while you talk?”

“Please,” Rarity requested, tugging on my shirt sleeve.

“Okay. Just give me a minute to drop off this extra stuff I’m wearing,” I said. I rushed back to my cabin, quickly slipped off my helmet and knee and shoulder pads, dumped them on the floor next to the dresser, and then scurried back. “Alright, I’m ready.”

Rarity pulled out the key from her dress pocket and inserted it into the padlock. “Trixie,” I called, “I’m coming in, with a guest.”

We opened the door, finding Trixie propped up in bed, reading one of the books I’d gotten her. “Oh, hi Suns--Rarity?!” she gasped, the book falling to her lap. She curled up protectively. “W-what can Trixie do for you?” she asked.

Rarity closed the door behind us. “May I sit on the bed with you, Trixie?” she asked quietly.

“Uuuh, okay, go ahead,” Trixie said, gesturing as she scooted over to give the seamstress more room, not that she needed it with how big these beds were. I meanwhile took a seat at the desk.

“Trixie,” Rarity began once she’d sat down, “Sunset was telling me that you… regret what you did. Is that true?”

“Very much so,” Trixie replied, glancing between Rarity and myself, uncertainty etched all across her face. “Trixie never, ever, ever in a million years should’ve done what she did. She is truly sorry, and wishes she could take it back. But she knows she can’t.”

Rarity nodded.. “Perhaps not. I considered you a friend, Trixie, and I was hurt. Betrayed. If you’d succeeded, you would’ve seen us all die, just to save Sunset.”

“Trixie realizes that,” Trixie said, tears coming to her eyes. “She wasn’t thinking about that when she acted.”

“I see you’re back to using third person,” Rarity noted, looking Trixie over.

Trixie gestured to me. “Sunset said Trixie should. She said Trixie shouldn’t forget who she is, just because of how ashamed she is of herself.”

Rarity nodded again. “Of course. Well, Trixie, I know you can’t take back what you’ve done. But I can take back what I’ve done, or more specifically, said. I said some truly harsh things to you in the trial, things I’ve regretted ever since. I said them in anger, out of hurt, and I apologize.” She held out a hand and gave Trixie a watery smile. “Like Sunset, it will take me a long time to forgive you for your actions, but… I still want to have you as a friend, if that is alright.”

Trixie’s jaw fell open, and she made quiet little squeaking noises as she looked over at me. I gave her a quick, quiet thumbs up, so Trixie looked back at Rarity, hesitantly reaching out to take the proffered hand, as if afraid it would bite her or swat at her. When it didn’t, she took it, and the instant her skin pressed against Rarity’s, Trixie burst into tears. “Y-yes, Rarity, Trixie would… Trixie would like that very much,” she murmured.

Rarity pulled Trixie forward into an outright hug, giving the illusionist a fond embrace. “Good. I’m sorry, again, for what I said. I hope you can forgive me.”

Trixie nodded even as her tears stained Rarity’s shoulder. “Yes, Trixie does. Trixie deserved it anyway, so Trixie understands why you said it when you did.”

“Mmm, that’s debatable, darling, but I won’t argue with you,” Rarity said. “I’ve had enough of arguing for today. Why don’t Sunset and I go fetch some dinner, and we can all eat in here together? We can spend some good quality girl time together.”

“Sure, I’d be up for that,” I said, pulling out my Monopad. “Lemme text Adagio, let her know where I’ll be. What’re you in the mood for, Trixie?”

Trixie gave me her food order, and Rarity and I left just long enough to visit the promenade restaurants. On our way back, Rarity stopped by her cabin, promising she had something special to bring. Once we returned to Trixie, she revealed it as a bottle of champagne. “I found it in the duty-free store a few nights ago. I purchased it, hoping for a special occasion. I’d say this is as good as any other, wouldn’t you?”

We all agreed it certainly was, though I suggested Trixie keep her consumption down due to her recent brush with starving herself. We spent a good while chatting about this and that, talking about a variety of subjects. At one point, Rarity suggested bedazzling Trixie’s crutches, stating they were such a “plain, drab affair,” but Trixie politely refused. Overall, it was quite the pleasant time, and by the end I not only had a pleasant buzz coursing through my veins, I'd completely forgotten about my worries over Tiara.

“Well, I think that’s probably enough for now,” Rarity said, capping the three quarters empty champagne bottle. “A lady knows when to call it quits, after all. And it is quite late.” She checked her Monopad. “9:55 PM. Not supremely late, but enough for me. I’m quite tired.”

“You’re not the only one,” I said, stretching out my arms and yawning. “This was fun.”

“Mmmhmm,” Trixie said, smiling at both of us. “Trixie is very happy she has good friends like Rarity and Sunset. She hopes you’ll be able to visit again.”

“Well, that’s dependent on Diamond Tiara, but she was kind enough to loan me the key to begin with,” Rarity said, rubbing her chin while staring at the ceiling. “I should really make sure this gets back to her. In any event, Trixie, I bid you--”


My blood froze in my veins at that sound. That sound only ever meant one thing. “No,” I breathed. “No, no god damn it not now!”

Rarity and Trixie gaped as Monoponi appeared on screen, lounging in his bridge chair with, oddly, a velvet black sleeping cap perched on his head and bags under his eyes. “A body has been discovered!” he trilled, the delight in his voice belying his otherwise tired appearance. “Please gather at the go-kart track, at once!”

As his image winked off the screen, Rarity collapsed onto the bed, murmuring, “Oh not again! Not again! Why does this keep happening?!”

“I-it wasn’t Trixie’s fault!” Trixie said, panic rising in her eyes as her whole body quaked. “Trixie didn’t do it this time!”

“Hey, hey!” I called, snapping my fingers. “Snap out of it guys. We’ve got to hurry down there, come on!”

“But I don’t want to see who it is,” Rarity whined even as she stood up and slipped her shoes back on. “I never want to see another body for as long as I live.”

I patted her on the shoulder and gave her a quick half hug with one arm. “I know the feeling, trust me.”

Trixie managed to get her shoe on after a moment and we slowly made our way down. After a point I considered asking Trixie if I could just carry her, to make it faster, but I decided not to. A dull, detached part of my mind insisted she needed the exercise if she was going to survive this next trial.

Eventually, a couple of minutes after the nighttime announcement went off, we arrived at the go-kart track. Before we entered, we all took deep, shuddering breaths. “Here we go guys,” I said, placing my hand on the doorknob. “Brace yourselves.”

I opened up the door, entered, and my whole body froze once more with the icy grip of despair. “Fuck,” I whispered. “I wasn’t expecting this.”

Because there, suspended in an upside down go-kart near the finish line of the track, with a massive pool of blood laying under her, was the pale, dead body of Rainbow Dash.

Author's Note:

Wait, that's not Adagio or Tiara or Applejack! :pinkiegasp: I'm sorry, Superfun. :ajsleepy:

Rarity's willingness to remain Trixie's friend comes from two things. First, she was the closest person on the ship to Trixie other than Sunset herself. The two get along swimmingly. Second, Rarity's generosity makes her more willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. She's also so mad with Applejack she's doing the opposite of what Applejack tells her to do just to stick it to her. So if AJ says stay away from Trixie, she'll befriend Trixie instead.

Applejack and Rarity butt heads frequently. That's part of their charm as characters. Their opposing traits make for fantastic interactions. Their chemistry helps bring them together. But put them in a situation like this, especially with both their sisters dead, and they were bound to fall apart sooner or later. Rarity means what she says, by the way. They really are through.

Next time: the investigation.

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