• 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 Five: Whistle for the Wind Part 1

Chapter Five
Whistle for the Wind
Daily Life Part 1

Bzzt. Bzzt. Bzzt.

My eyelids slowly opened a crack. I cringed at the noise, slapping one hand to my ear. Still half asleep, I tried to reach for the alarm clock on my desk, to turn that infernal racket off.

Only to realize there was no desk right next to me. No alarm clock. Instead my hand met silvery white hair, smooth and fine to the touch, and I remembered where I was.

I shot up in bed, fumbling through the blankets for my Monopad, and finally turned off the alarm. “6:00 PM. Damn it. Trixie! Hey, Trixie, wake up!”

“Huh?” Trixie mumbled, blinking slowly as she looked up at me from the bed. Her eyes glazed over as she said something incoherent and then fell back onto the bed with a flump.

“Ugh, no, wake up, damn it,” I groaned, reaching down to shake her.

Trixie batted at my arms weakly, until she opened her eyes and grumbled, “I’m up, I’m up. What?”

“We need to get you back in your room,” I said, hopping out of bed. I scooped up a fresh pair of clothes from my closet, opting to skip a shower. “Before anyone else wakes up. Tiara’s expecting us at the meeting, and if anyone finds out you’re in here--”

Trixie meeped, and sat up as quickly as she was able. Slowly, painfully slowly, she edged her way to the edge of the bed, grabbed for her crutches, and managed to stand. “Trixie is ready.”

“Wait here,” I whispered as I carefully opened my door and checked down the corridor both ways. I cocked my head to hear better as well, in case I heard any doors unlocking. Nothing but silence. “C’mon, let’s go!”

Trixie’s room was only a couple of doors down from my own, but it might as well have been twenty miles for how slow she seemed to walk. Every time her crutches creaked as they rose and crunched as they pushed against the carpet, I feared it’d raise the alarm and summon everyone to us.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen. We reached her room, I unlocked it, and managed to get her back inside, promising to see her soon after the meeting. Before I left, however, Trixie proposed something to me. “I don’t know,” I murmured, glancing back and forth every few seconds in case we were caught. “I’ll think about it.”

“Please. Trixie would appreciate it forever if you did,” Trixie said, holding up her hands like she was praying to me.

With an exasperated roll of my eyes and a mumble of, “still haven’t forgiven you, you know,” I closed the door, locked it, and made my way back to my room, closing the door most of the way just before I heard someone else’s door open.

“Sunset?” I heard Rarity call. “Was that you, darling?”

I pushed the door back open. “H-hey, Rarity, how’re you doing?” I said, letting out a small nervous laugh as I leaned against the doorframe.

Rarity peered at me quizzically, then blinked and waved a hand in front of her mouth as she stretched out in a massive yawn. “Oh goodness, pardon me. I am thoroughly exhausted. I feel as though I barely slept.”

“Same,” I muttered, rubbing my hand down my face to try and wipe away some of the fatigue. “I’m tempted to just go right back to bed.”

“Mmm, as much as I would prefer that, I suspect Diamond Tiara would be upset,” Rarity hummed as she bent over to stretch her legs. “No, we’ll have to stay up, at least for a while. Get something to eat.” As she stood back up and worked on her arms, a scowl crossed her face. “That damnable Monoponi better not make us explore tonight.”

I scowled in turn. “You know he’s gonna. He’s been pushing us along faster and faster, never letting us recover.”

“Even so, we can hope, yes?”

Diamond Tiara’s door flung itself open, slamming against the wall. Tiara herself was in the process of lowering her foot. Dark circles under her eyes painted an ugly picture as she glared at us, her hair a complete mess. A hairbrush was stuck in it, like it’d been trapped in tangles. Her clothes were wrinkled and messy, and she looked at us like she was daring us to comment on her appearance. “Hi,” she muttered as she walked by towards the promenade.

“Good evening,” Rarity said with a trace of amusement coloring her otherwise smooth response. She glanced at me and I caught her repressing a smirk.

“Whatever,” Tiara said, waving a hand behind her back as she walked.

Another door lock clicked as it swung open, revealing Adagio standing there. Like Diamond Tiara, her clothes were a complete mess of wrinkled fabric, but at least her hair had been brushed properly. She took one look at me and hissed under her breath. “Sunset.”

“H-hey,” I greeted, my face unable to pick between a smile and a frown, twisting into an unnatural grimace instead. I jerked my thumb towards the promenade. “Did you want to get breakfast?”

She took a step back, her hands raising to waist level, curling up in her usual claw-like manner. She bit her lower lip as she looked at me, her gaze full of uncertainty, before she finally let go of her lip and nodded. “Sure.”

I flashed Rarity a pointed glance, who took the hint immediately. “Excuse me, excuse me,” she muttered as she swiftly made her way past us.

Adagio started walking, slowly, so I formed up next to her, giving her as much space as I could given the size of the corridor. “So, um, how’d you sleep?” I asked her.

“Like shit.”

“Yeah, me too,” I muttered. Considered reaching out a hand to take hers, but decided against it. “Listen, about Trixie--”

Adagio’s arm shot out to stop me in place, then she set a hand on my shoulder and forcibly turned me to face her. “Don’t. Please,” she asked me. I expected harsh fires of anger, but instead all I saw in her eyes was sorrow and frustration. “I can’t handle that right now. We’ll… we’ll talk about it when I’m ready. Okay?”

“Okay,” I nodded.

She gave me a small thankful smile, and then gestured for me to keep walking. We continued till we reached the promenade, and went to grab our respective meals.

By the time we returned to the meeting table, the others, minus Trixie, had already gathered. What few of us were left, that is. Only six sat at the table, and none of us looked well rested. Applejack was slumped over in her chair like a kid sleeping in math class, her hair occasionally falling forward only for her to grab it at the last minute. Scootaloo treated each forkful of her food like it was Monoponi himself, stabbing it with such abandon she risked breaking her plate.

Tiara, thankfully, had pulled the brush out of her hair and set it beside herself at the table, and as soon as we sat down, she looked at me and muttered, “You lead the meeting. I’m too fucking tired.”

LIke I’m any better, I mused. I reached out and patted her hand, then stood. “So, uh, I guess we’re all here.”

“Eeyup,” Applejack mumbled as she splattered a spoonful of oatmeal onto her cheek. She clumsily reached up to wipe it off and stuffed it in her mouth.

“With respect, Sunset, I’m not sure there’s much we need to say,” Rarity said with a half smile. She glanced Applejack’s way, her face twisting in disgust before she shook it off. “We’re all still alive. Trixie’s in her room. So we’re fine.”

“For now,” Scootaloo muttered. She stabbed another forkful with an ear splitting clink! of her fork on the plate. “Till one of us kills again. Monoponi told us this’d keep going till there was only two of us, remember?”

“That’s what the rules say, true,” Rarity said, frowning. “But I would prefer to hope that we’ve learned our lessons by now.”

Scootaloo sighed as she stuffed another bit of food in her mouth. “I wish,” she said. “But I thought we did last time, and look where that got us.”

DING-DONG-BING-BONG

Monoponi’s face zapped into view on the screens, looming at us from his chair on the bridge. This time he held a single can of soda in his magic grip, and the food spread on his table was cheap snacks, like instant noodle cups and pizza. “Well, well, good evening, my lovely passengers! I hope you had a nice rest, sleeping away the day like the lazy little shits you are. But time waits for no one! Please report to the bridge deck.”

“God!” Scootaloo shouted the instant his image disappeared. She picked up her bowl and threw it halfway across the food court, scattering bits of mashed potatoes and chicken everywhere. “Every time. Every fucking time!” She stomped on her way towards the bridge deck, every step hitting the floor with an echoing thud.

The sudden display of anger sent my heart rate skyrocketing as I almost fell backwards out of my chair, catching myself just in time. “Jeez, Scootaloo,” I huffed, holding a hand to my shaking chest. “Don’t scare us like that.”

“Ah can’t say Ah blame her though,” Applejack said with a dry snort. She tried to punch her right fist into her left palm, but she was so lethargic she barely managed to make a sound. “Ah’m sick of that varmint myself.”

“Varmint,” Tiara muttered as she all but crawled out of her chair. “More like little shit weasel.”

“Eh, same thing.”

“Uh, Tiara, should I go get Trixie?” I called after her. “Or were you going to do it?”

“Oh.” Tiara snorted, dug into her pocket, and tossed the key in my direction. It sailed over my head and plopped into my bowl of soup. “You do it. Please.”

“Okay then,” I grunted. “Adagio, would you--”

Adagio let out a quiet growl under her breath. “I’ll see you there, Sunset.” She walked off without another word.

“I’ll join you,” Rarity said to me as I went over to the table to fish out the key. “I could use a bit more of a walk before having to listen to that boorish lout.”

After I got the key out and dried it off on my shirt, we ambled our way back to the cabins. “I’m worried about Scootaloo,” I said as we entered the cabin corridor.

“The poor dear is under a lot of stress,” Rarity said, her lower lip curling into an unhappy pout. “She cared so much for Rainbow Dash. And my sister. And Applejack’s sister. She’s lost a lot of friends. We’ve all lost…” Rarity trailed off as she broke into sudden, quiet tears, slumping against the wall.

“Hey, hey,” I said softly as I reached out to embrace her. I held her against my chest as I slowly stroked her back. She wrapped her arms around my waist like a lifeline. Not for the first time, I noticed just how smooth her skin was as I touched it, the silkiness of her hair as I ran my hand through it. Despite the sorrow ruining what little makeup she'd put on and the halfhearted attempt she'd made at brushing her hair, she was still drop-dead gorgeous. And seeing Rarity cry tore at my own heartstrings, threatening to make me cry right along with her. “Easy. Easy.”

Rarity pulled me in tighter, in the process smushing her face into my breasts. My face heated up with pink. She’s not doing it on purpose. I hope. “Oh Sunset, I’m sorry,” she wailed, “It’s just, Sweetie Belle meant so much to me, and I still can’t believe she’s gone. And, and Applejack isn’t there for me, because she’s such a, a bumbling buffoon, and I’m, I don’t know who to turn to anymore…”

I deliberately nudged Rarity up so she wasn’t squishing my boobs, though that resulted in her face coming dangerously close to mine. “You can always talk to me,” I said, my voice becoming strained. “I’m your friend, Rarity. I’ll listen.”

Rarity wailed harder, and fell back against me, squeezing so hard with her arms I had to gasp for air. “Thank you, Sunset,” she sobbed. “You’re so, so sweet, and nice, e-even if you’ve made a mistake from time to time, you always make up for it…” Thankfully she loosened her grip, and started to shake against me as she filled up with bitter laughter. “It’s too bad you’re taken. I wish I--oh!”

She immediately released me and backed away all the way over to the other wall, her whole body flushing a deep pink as she hid her face in her hands. “You didn’t hear that!” she shouted while stamping her feet on the ground like a toddler. “I didn’t say anything!”

God I’m glad Adagio wasn’t here to witness this. “Hear what?” I said, nonchalantly sticking my hands behind my head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Rarity dropped her hands and flashed me a strained smile. “T-thank you. Why don’t we get Trixie and move along before we get into trouble?”

I nodded, eager to move on, and trying to shove the little fantasies the horny side of my brain was throwing at me back into the pit they’d emerged from.

As soon as we released Trixie, who was now wearing her hat and cape, she gave me a dirty look. “Trixie was beginning to think she’d been forgotten,” she muttered as she slowly ambled her way towards the bridge deck.

“Not at all, I assure you,” Rarity said with a sheepish laugh. She glanced at me, then looked away, her face still pinker than a field of roses. I noticed she did stay closer to me when we walked than she would have normally, but I tried not to focus on that.

I didn’t have time to, anyway. The moment we emerged onto the bridge deck, Monoponi whisked his way off his balcony, fluttered in the air in front of us and poked each of us in turn in the chest with his forehoof. “What is wrong with you three?!” he shouted, bouncing about like an angry bumblebee, his tail lashing out like a bullwhip. “Such tardiness is intolerable! Unacceptable! I won’t put up with it!”

The three of us froze still. Terror rushed down my spine as I feared I’d feel the all too familiar touch of his magic around my throat, magnified by the memory of how daring I’d been the night before. He told me I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. Is this it? Is this when he...

Luckily, after a moment of angry glaring at us, that didn’t happen. “Bah. Don’t do it again! Seriously, you’d think you’d learn respect by now, little shits…” Still mumbling under his breath, Monoponi returned to his balcony. “Alright, my lovely passengers, I do hope you slept well, because you have quite the lovely night ahead of you!”

“Already?” Scootaloo moaned, running a hand through her hair and gripping at it in frustration. “It’s not even been a day yet.”

“And time waits for nopony!” Monoponi retorted. He glared down at us all with narrowed eyes and his lips curled back, revealing his teeth. “This whole process is becoming more and more tedious each time, I swear. Like I don’t have anything better to do than order you around.”

I decided to push past my fear. Nothing would ever change around here if we didn’t challenge him, no matter how much the little pony inside me wanted to piss her pants and hide in the bushes. “So you’re keeping to the formula, then!” I said. “We’re going to wander around and find yet another picture, then you’ll drag us back tomorrow for another motive. If it’s so tedious, why don’t you just let us all go?”

“Go? Let you go? Ahahaaha!” Monoponi’s expression flipped to one of glee as he raised a hoof to his mouth. “Upupu, that’s never going to happen for you! Unless you Rescue yourself, that is! I’m sure even you must be tempted by now, Sunset. You’ve learned so much in these trials, after all.”

“But what if there’s only two left?” Rarity said, taking a step forward. She held up her Monopad. “What will you do then?”

Monoponi seemed to ponder that, tapping his forehoof to his chin. “Hmm, hmm, hmm… nope! Not gonna tell you. Not like you’ll survive. Honestly, I’m shocked you didn’t die days ago!”

I rolled my eyes. “Or your plan messed--”

Instantly he was right back up in my face, his teleport so fast I didn’t even have time to hear the crack of displaced air before his big nose pressed against mine. “What was that?” he growled. “I hope you weren’t about to mention the subject I expressly forbid you from mentioning this morning. I’d hate to have to execute you before you even get to see what’s left on the ship to explore.”

I don’t know why, but something in me refused to back down, even now, even with him in my face. Maybe it was the same insanity that filtered through my mind yesterday, or it could’ve been the fact he hadn’t acted on his earlier threat. Or maybe I was just so tired I had no shits left to give. So instead of backing off, like I had every time before, I refused to blink, refused to move even an inch. “You won’t do it.”

“I won’t, you say?” Monoponi replied, his voice dropping even lower, more sinister, wrapped in ice and threatening to bludgeon me like a hail storm. “Are you sure about that, Sunset? Are you that certain? Your Captain thinks Fluttershy might have something to say about that.”

“Fluttershy’s death fit your precious count,” I replied. “Mine wouldn’t. You really want to risk ruining everything now?”

Monoponi’s crimson eyes stared into mine, unfeeling. Unmoving. Yet I still didn’t waver. I remained resolute, in total certainty I was right. “You know, Sunset,” Monoponi finally said, “you keep talking like that, people will think you’re working with me.”

“You, I, and everyone else knows I’m not.”

Monoponi laughed. Not an ‘upupu’ or ‘ahaha,’ but a single bark of a laugh so unlike the alicorn’s usual expression of mirth it scared me. Then he spoke, and what he said terrified me far more. “No. You’re not. Too bad. We’d make a great team.”

Then he backed off. He flew away, back up to his balcony, and left me untouched, uninjured. “What’re you morons standing around for, huh?” he shouted. His horn lit up in crimson and shot off a volley of lights through the exit to the promenade. “Go! You’ve got exploring to do!”

The gun turrets popped out of their respective cases in the bridge tower, whirring to life and aiming lasers at each one of our heads. Tiara squealed and sped out of there as fast as her little boots could carry her. The rest of us meandered a bit slower, but we left all the same.

Once we were on the promenade though, Applejack called for us to stop. She narrowed her eyes at me into the teenist of slits. “What in tarnation were you thinkin’, Sunset?”

“I was standing up to him,” I replied nonchalantly, despite the unbridled amount of fear surging throughout my entire body, sending every nerve tingling like it had fallen asleep. “Nothing’s ever going to change if we don’t.”

“Sunset’s right,” Rarity seconded, moving up to stand behind my shoulder. “If we don’t act, and soon, there won’t be enough of us left to do anything.”

“Trixie thinks it was quite brave,” Trixie said. She tried to gesture with her cape to send it fluttering, but almost lost her footing in the process.

Scootaloo, still seething with anger, her chest expanding and contracting heavily with each breath, looked up at me with a mixture of trust and awe. “That was incredible,” she stammered. “Sunset, you’re braver than I am.”

“But how’d you know he wouldn’t kill you?” Adagio growled. Like Scootaloo, she quivered with anger, but unlike the younger woman, it was all directed at me and my stupid decisions.

I gave her a smile which didn’t come within a thousand miles of reaching my eyes. “I didn’t.”

Adagio slapped both hands to her face, bent over backwards and roared at the ceiling. “Arrgh! Sunset, you are the biggest fool on the planet, I swear!”

My smile grew sheepish as heat flooded my cheeks. “I’m sorry, but I--hey, ow! Ow! That hurts, Adagio, stop!”

Adagio had snatched me up by the ear and was dragging me down towards the cabins, and refused to let go until we’d passed by the food court. As she released me, she thrust her palm into my back, pushing me forward. “I’m keeping an eye on you now,” she said. “If I don’t you’re going to do something even stupider.”

“Fine, fine,” I said, jerking away from her touch. “Stop pushing. I don’t like it.”

“Hmph.”

She and I reached the crew access stairwell, and it was only as I began to descend it that I asked, “Why’re we going this way, anyway?”

“I wanted to be alone with you,” Adagio admitted. The shadows cast by the stairwell left her expression looking far more sadistic and evil than she probably intended. Probably. I hoped. “I didn’t want Trixie monopolizing your time.”

I sighed, rubbing away at my growing headache. “She’s not--I don’t--Adagio, I’m sorry, I am, but--”

Right as I stepped off the bottom stairwell into the lower of the two corridors, Adagio grabbed for the back of my shirt, and roughly spun me around. I started to raise my arms defensively, expecting her to smack me or try dragging me again or something, but instead she wrapped her arms around me and held me tight. Her mass of bushy curls filled my vision like an endless field of tangerine and lemon colored grass.

“You know I love you, right?” she said, her voice muffled by the leather of my jacket. “I don’t know how you managed it, but you made a siren fall in love with you. That’s a feat more magical than anything I can imagine you ponies have done.”

Her words tugged at my heartstrings, despite the semi-racist comments. “I know, Adagio. You told me. And I love you too. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t.”

One of her hands slowly moved up to gently stroke the back of my head, making me gasp from the sudden intensity of the sensation. “Good. It’s… not easy dealing with these feelings. I’m not used to feeling loving, or jealous. You’d think I’d have a handle on it by now, but I don’t.”

Adagio moved her face up so she could press her lips to the bottom of my chin, kissing me gently. Her breath carried a hint of lime as her lips traced a path up along my cheek, at the tip of my nose, then finally meeting my own. Unlike her usual demeanor, she wasn’t rough or aggressive with it. It was so gentle, so meek, invested with feelings of considerate affection, a kindness that belied the harsh nature of her siren soul. In a way, she was like a completely different person, as if Fluttershy’s ghost had possessed her or something.

I liked it, but it was certainly confusing. I responded in kind, taking my hand and gently stroking her cheek, letting the feeling of my rougher callouses slide against her silky smooth skin. She kept her skin so healthy, so unblemished, unlike me. “You seem like you do to me,” I whispered.

A quiet little laugh snuck its way out of her throat, like a burst of hot chocolate flavor. “Maybe. I’m trying.” She pulled away just enough so she could look at me, her brilliant purple eyes sparkling even in the dim light of the access corridor. “I’m… sorry for the way I acted in the trial. It wasn’t right.”

“You were upset because of how Trixie treated you. That’s understandable,” I replied with a smile. “I forgive you for being angry with me. I won’t ask you to forgive Trixie, though. I wouldn’t dream of asking so much from you.”

“Good, because I won’t,” Adagio snorted. She rolled her eyes hard before meeting my gaze again. “But if you really, really still want to be Trixie’s friend, I… that’s your decision. I won’t interfere. I don’t want to be like Applejack.”

“Smart.” I leaned forward, gave her one last kiss, and then pulled away. “Alright, let’s get to exploring. There wasn’t a new stairwell, so maybe another door opened up down here.”

We wandered down the corridor, moving quickly through the emptiness. Everytime I walked this particular hall an uneasy tension seeped into my senses. The combination of poor lighting, narrow spaces, tons of unlit alcoves, and overwhelming silence was nerve wracking.

But we reached the doorway to the ice rink without incident, leaving it be. We checked a few doors here and there, and were just about to give up and exit through the rink when a far one opened. Sharing a quick look of apprehension, I threw it open and went in first.

I came out into a small office, set up with a desk, work chair, and a computer. A proper desktop computer, with LCD screen, tower sitting nearby, and even an inkjet printer, all looking a bit out of date, more circa 2013 or 2014 than 2020. A wire wastebasket sat next to the desk. The floor was all carpet with the usual metal deck plating underneath. The office itself was quite small, with a single window, with curtains pulled, and one other door leading out… somewhere. The walls and ceiling were plain white, and adorned with a number of posters, each one related to astronomy in some way. There was a chart of the Moon, a series of satellite images of the various planets and dwarf planets. A few star charts were scattered here and there, displaying various constellations of the southern hemisphere. Right above the desk on the ceiling was a single strip of fluorescent lighting, with a lightswitch near the other door.

Too excited by the thought of potential access to the outside world to wait, I sat down at the computer, cracked my knuckles, and switched it on. It booted up fairly quickly, loading right into an account labeled “Museum Director.” Frustratingly, however, there was no internet connection. The only wifi that came up was the same one our Monopads hooked into. Most of the applications appeared to be uninstalled and there were blocks on information all over the place. What was left was a lot of useless spreadsheets about various exhibits, ticket costs, etc, log entries, and various other information that might be interesting to some folk but had no use to us.

I did test the printer before getting up however. It had plenty of paper, and printed quite easily and quickly. “Well that’s useful, I guess,” I muttered, balling up the test paper and tossing it in the wastebasket. I switched off the computer and got up out of the chair. “Let’s go.”

We opened the other door, and emerged into a dead-ended corridor, with signs hanging everywhere reading “employee access only.” The door behind us had a golden sign reading “Museum Director” with the name scratched off. Like the office, there were posters everywhere, of the Moon, of stars, of AUSA astronauts and so on. The corridor went one way only, so we followed it out, stepping through a metal security door and into a much larger room.

This one was set up like a museum in miniature, with exhibits and displays everywhere. One whole side of the room was lined with thick glass cases, each one labeled with a sign reading such things as “Phoebus 14 moon rock sample” and “Corsair 2 Ares sample.” The cases were full of rocks, though whether these were real samples taken from space by AUSA or just replicas, I couldn’t be certain. Larger plaques hanging on the wall by each display detailed information about the mission involved, whether it was crewed or robotic, the year it took place, etc.

The wall on the other side held a number of rocket models, showcasing AUSA’s rocket building history, from the very first sounding rocket launched in the early 50s, to the Cronus V launch vehicle that carried astronauts to the moon, the space shuttles, and all the way to the newest launch systems for Ares exploration and beyond. Like the samples, each one had an informative plaque giving more detailed information.

“This place is like Twilight Sparkle’s wet dream,” Adagio muttered as she gazed about, staring up in awe at the ceiling. I looked up to see a few models of planes, jet planes as well as the Y rocket plane series, developed by AUSA for testing engines and the ability for people to survive in space.

“You’re not kidding,” I replied as I looked back down, focusing on the center displays lining the middle of the room. These focused on each of the eight major planets, and unlike the physical models or samples these were large holographic displays identical to the ones featured in Monoponi’s courtroom. Hermes, Aphrodite, Earth, Ares, Zeus, Cronus, Ouranous, and Poseidon were all represented in gorgeous, loving detail, though the outer planets had a bit less factual information and a bit more imagination to them. I glanced around, wondering if there was one for Hades, and it turned out I’d missed a few displays in one corner, smaller displays showing the major dwarf planets, like Discordia, Hades, and Demeter.

I wandered over to the Earth display, examining it closely. I noticed, amongst other information, that the display claimed to show a “live location indicator” for the cruise ship. But after searching all across the holographic globe, I didn’t see it. A shame. The display was still beautiful though. Human space exploration had utterly fascinated me ever since I crossed the mirror portal from Equestria. Nopony had ever been to our own moon, and I loved every bit of space knowledge I could get my hands on.

I felt along the display, feeling a slight tingle as a forcefield or something underneath it gave it a physical form. I traced my finger down along the North Amareican west coast, feeling the bumps of hills and a cool, icy touch as I briefly passed along the ocean. I located Canterlot right where I expected it to be, halfway down the Amareican Union part of the coast. “We should be there, damn it,” I whispered. “We should all be there, alive and happy, not trapped on this ship.”

Finding the display too depressing to look at now, I moved on, noticing two sets of doors apart from the employee one we’d come in through. One was a larger set of double doors identical in appearance to the ones used to give entrance to the theater or the ice skating rink, so those probably led to the promenade. The other set, while smaller, were no less prominent, and one was slightly ajar at that. I briefly left Adagio to go poke my head inside.

I discovered the room beyond was a small circular theater, like an IMAX in miniature, set around a central holographic display. A good sixty or seventy seats of blue fabric surrounded the display on all sides. Rarity and Trixie were seated right up front, eyes and face full of wonder as they watched a movie playing on the screens. Some deep-voiced man was droning on about the wonders of star formation while images showcased spinning nebulae and glowing stellar matter.

“Having fun?” I said, amused by their expressions.

Trixie spotted me and waved. “Hi Sunset! Trixie loves space! This is a lot of fun!”

“Indeed!” Rarity agreed, a slight flush coming to her cheeks when she saw me. “While I admit space is not the most fascinating subject, a museum is always a delight to attend. I’m surprised one would be aboard a cruise ship, however.”

“It is a bit excessive,” I agreed. I waved at them. “Well you two enjoy the movie.”

“Bye!”

I left the little theater and closed the doors behind me. Adagio was standing there, hands on her hips, eyebrows raised high. “What was in there?”

“Just a little IMAX theater, nothing fancy,” I said with a shrug. “And Rarity and Trixie.”

Her upper lip curled up into a sneer as she flinched away. “Uugh. Not going in there then.”

I gently patted her hand as I walked past her. “Come on, let’s leave the museum then.”

We exited onto the promenade. As I suspected, this was the final piece to be opened up, on the same level as the ice skating rink and the first floor of the library. The grand staircase as ever loomed on one side, but on the other side of the corridor, instead of ending in yet another blank wall, there was a simple pair of wooden double doors. A plaque atop the doors stated “Non-Denominational Temple” while other smaller signs asked for quiet and respect.

“Let’s check the library first,” Adagio said, glaring down at the end of the corridor. “I want to see if those archives are finally open.”

“Good idea.”

So leaving the temple behind for the moment, we entered the library, and swiftly made our way over to the archive door. I wasn’t expecting anything, of course. Knowing Monoponi, this whole archive door thing had been one giant troll from the beginning. It wasn’t like he’d introduce it and then unlock it three trials later, right?

Except when I tried the knob, it clicked, and the door swung open. Exchanging a brief confused glance with Adagio, we went inside. The room was larger than I expected, about twice the size of the office we’d found in the museum. All the walls were lined with large shelves full of logbooks in large red binders, marked by week, month and year. There were records going all the way back to 2010. The center of the room held a single table and chair for reading and/or writing. Briefly, I flipped through them, but instead of some useful knowledge, all I found was passenger manifests, supply logs, accounting sheets, and so on. Interesting from an esoteric perspective, especially if I wanted to answer Tiara’s long-standing question of how Monoponi afforded all of this, but nothing useful for our situation. At least, not from a quick search.

“Great,” Adagio muttered, throwing up her arms so they’d slap against her sides. “We wait all this time for it to open, and it’s useless.”

“We don’t know that just yet,” I said as I puttered around, seeing if anything else stood out. After a few moments, I did notice something taped to the underside of the table. “Hello,” I muttered as I pulled it out, revealing a key hanging on a small chain. “What’s this to?”

“The door maybe?” Adagio said flatly, jerking a thumb towards it.

A half sheepish grin formed on my face as I went to test it. “Oh, that’s interesting,” I said when I examined the door. “I didn’t realize this, but this has a double-cylinder deadbolt.”

“What does that mean?”

I pointed to the lock and then pulled the door in to show the other side. “See how there’s a keyhole on both sides? You need the key to unlock it whether you’re in or out. It’s more secure, but it can be dangerous too. Given these archives are in a public area, they probably didn’t want anyone unauthorized trying to access them.” I blinked, then glared at the room. “Wait, why is it in a public area?”

“Fake records,” Adagio answered, smirking confidently. “These are the public ones, the ones they show come tax-time. They probably have private records that are more accurate.”

My mouth formed an “o” of realization. “I guess that makes sense. Well, forget it then. I’ll hold onto the key and lock the place for now, so no one gets locked in by mistake. We can come do some more research later.”

You can do more research later,” Adagio sniffed. “I’d rather not waste the time pouring endlessly through logbooks.”

“Fair enough.”

Leaving the library, we made our way to the temple doors and pushed them open. We found ourselves in a large foyer, shaped roughly like a diamond with the points on the left and right of us. The floor, unlike every other surface on the ship save the backstage of the theater, was wooden planks, with elegant, beautiful rugs spaced here and there. A small desk lay in the center with a chair and a logbook. Various religious symbols from all sorts decorated the walls in the form of a tasteful wallpaper. The lighting was low, but pleasant, much like the spa, with a bit of smell of cinnamon scented incense wafting about the air. Most notably however was the silence. Like the access corridor, it was dead silent in this foyer, as if the rest of the ship were cut off from it through soundproofing. Which it probably was.

The foyer had three exits from it. Directly ahead were another set of double doors, presumably leading into the temple proper. To the right was a passageway leading to a set of restrooms. To the left, however, it split off into two separate doors. I decided to check the one on the left first.

I emerged into a large room with a large variety of musical instruments, and not just the standard ones like a piano, trumpet, trombone violin and guitar, but a whole host of instruments I only knew thanks to some special reading, such as shekeres, gongs, singing bowls, didgeridoos, pan pipes, all sorts of drums, and so much more. The room itself was set up with proper acoustics, music racks, chairs, and so on, allowing for single play or groups or whole choirs if need be. A large shelving unit on one side of the room carried a variety of sheet music for every instrument available.

“Wow. Lots of noisemakers,” Adagio quipped as she leaned down to pick up an electric bass guitar. She plugged it into a nearby amp, running her hand down the strings. Her hand began to dance, playing something in minor key that seemed familiar in a strange, eerie way. “This feels pretty familiar, doesn’t it?” She kept on playing, staring down at her hands as if they were moving by themselves. “Why do I feel like I should be singing along to this?”

I strode over to an acoustic guitar hanging on the wall and started tuning it. Or I would have, had it not been tuned to perfection already. I wanted to join her in her song, as if something was compelling me to try. But the longer she played, the more it felt… wrong. Like I’d heard it before. Like it was something I needed to stop.

So when my hands began to play, words emerged, words that felt so alien and yet so familiar at the same time I didn’t know where they came from.

“You’re never gonna bring me down!

You’re never gonna break this part of me!

My friends are here to bring me ‘round!

Not singing just for pop--”

Adagio snatched the guitar out of my hands and tossed it halfway across the room, sending it crashing into a hanging set of cymbals. As the crashing noise echoed so loud in the room it hurt my ears she tackled me to the ground, covering my mouth with one hand while the other gripped at my throat. One knee pressed down into my chest, cutting off my air supply while the other held my legs in place. Her eyes were solid red light as her face contorted with rage. “Don’t! Ever! Sing that again!” she howled, her voice briefly taking on an echoing underlay in a deeper pitch, like two people speaking at once. Then she sprung off me, falling over onto her rump, the glow fading from her eyes.

I sat up immediately, gasping for air, sucking down great lungfuls every few seconds. My eyes widened so large I feared they’d pop out of my head as I backed away from Adagio, every nerve in my body on fire from the storm of fear raging within. “What the hell Adagio?!” I squeaked, coughing as spit caught in my throat.

Adagio seemed just as frightened as I was, staring down at her own hands, at the guitar she’d tossed, at me with just as much terror in her expression. “I don’t know! I don’t know why I did that!” she shouted back. She got up to her feet and closed the distance between us.

I shrank back, curling into a ball while holding out one hand to block her. “Stay back! Please!” I shrieked, before pulling my arm in, hunched over, shivering. Tears ran down my face. Somehow that had scared me far more than anything else she’d ever done. She’d actually shown signs of remnant magic. But why? All I did was sing a song! A good song! I didn’t even know what song it was, but--

Adagio’s arms wrapped around me from behind. My body froze in place like I’d been petrified by a cockatrice. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t speak, couldn’t blink while she held me. She whispered something into my ear, something she must’ve thought was soothing, but I didn’t hear it. I didn’t want to hear it. “Please,” I managed to mutter after what felt like an eternity. “Let me go. Let me go.”

Eventually she did as I asked, and I fell forward, tears streaming down my face. I don’t understand. Why is this hitting me so hard? She’s held me at friggen knifepoint before! Why only now am I this scared?

I heard retreating footsteps and the close of a door. Still I did not move. I remained curled up, confused beyond belief. Was it the song? Her song felt a little bit evil, sure. I felt like I had to stop it for some reason. Where did that song come from, anyway?

Slowly, ever so slowly, I managed to uncurl my limbs. My left leg had fallen asleep, and as I tried to stand my left knee buckled, the leg so numb it felt like I was trying to rest my knee on a stool. But eventually the feeling came back, in fits and starts, sharp pains running down my leg, causing me to grunt and groan as I trudged over to where she’d discarded the guitar. I had to watch my step due to the cymbals and drumsticks littering the ground where it had landed, but eventually I managed to retrieve it from the pile.

The guitar was in pretty rough shape. A couple of the strings had snapped where they’d caught on the hooks the cymbals hung from. The wood was chipped in a few places, including around the soundhole. One of the tuning pegs had snapped off. For some reason, the sight instilled a fresh wave of sadness in me, and a sense of betrayal. Which made no sense whatsoever. This wasn’t my guitar, was it? I’d never seen it before in my life.

But something in me compelled me to turn it over, to examine the back of the neck. And lo and behold, etched in small letters was an address, a phone number, and my name. Sunset Shimmer.

It was my guitar. But why was it here? Why was it on this ship? Was I supposed to find it, like I did with Trixie’s clothes? Was this supposed to make me sad or distraught?

The damage to it sure wasn’t helping my mood. I picked up the broken pieces I could find, and carefully placed them into one of my plastic gloves I rigged up like a baggy. I then set that carefully inside the soundhole of the guitar and placed it in a corner, where it wouldn’t be touched. I could come back for it later, when I was done exploring.

I had no idea where Adagio went. But I’d be clamoring for an apology later. Holding me at knifepoint when we’d been dating for just a couple of days and she’d seen what looked like me cheating was one thing. But this? Choking me out on the floor and screaming in my face over a song? Using magic on me? No way. Not cool.

I left the music room and immediately made for the other room in the foyer. As soon as I stepped in I had flashbacks of similar places in Equestria, like magic kindergarten. In Equestria these places wouldn’t be religious, just places for kids to go and learn something while being taken care of for a while, but for a lot of human religions they used it for studying their religious texts. What was it called? Sunday school? Something like that.

It was a room full of little chairs, colorful and playful decorations on the walls of cartoonish versions of various figures from major religions, a blackboard on one wall with scribblings on it in chalk. Someone had drawn a picture of Monoponi’s face on it for some reason. There were also shelves with child-friendly versions of the religious texts, and so on. Nothing explicitly favoring one religion or another. A place where any group of kids could play and learn while their parents worshipped in the temple.

As I poked about the shelves, I heard the sounds of bootsteps. I looked up to see Applejack wandering in, peering about the place. “Well now, Ah’d say this feels pretty darn familiar,” she said. She tipped her hat to me. “Hey Sunset. You ever go to Sunday school in church as a kid?”

“Ah, no,” I replied, feeling more than a little sheepish. “Pony, remember? We don’t have the same religious beliefs in Equestria.”

Applejack pursed her lips and nodded. “Right, right, sorry. Hey, you know what happened with Adagio? Ah saw her runnin’ out of here like somethin’ real bad upset her.”

My lips thinned into a tiny line. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

The farmer held up her hands. “Alright, Ah won’t pry. Ah’ve been gettin’ my fool head into enough trouble as it is.” She stuffed her hands in her jeans pockets, and took a few steps back. “If Ah might say, Ah am glad there’s a proper church on this boat. Ah’ve been missin’ the chance to go to church every Sunday.”

I schooled my expression back into something more polite. “Sounds like it matters a lot to you.”

“Well, Ah wouldn’t say a lot. Not in the sense of bein’ able to pray. Ah can do that anywhere.” She gave me a sad smile. “For me, church is a connection to my family. Did Ah ever tell you what happened to my parents?” I shook my head. “Well, Ah’m not gonna go into a lot of details, but long story short, they were a pair of star-crossed lovers if ever there were any. My Momma was a Pear, my Papa an Apple, and the Pears and Apples didn’t exactly get along. But they did go to church together. They respected each other there, even if they bickered everywhere else.”

Applejack faced away from me, found the largest chair she could, which was still a bit small for her, and sat down on it, carefully so she didn’t knock it over. “My parents died when I was pretty young. Big Mac, my older brother, he was barely old enough to start takin’ care of me, and Apple Bloom was hardly more’n a baby.” She sniffled, a few tears coming to her eyes. “Sometimes, Ah don’t remember ‘em too well nomore. That’s why Ah make sure to go to church every Sunday. Because that’s a connection Ah’ll never lose, you know? Even if, even if Ah’ve lost another one…”

I prepared for her to break down like Rarity had, but Applejack was a bit more of a tough nut. She’d obviously had enough of public breakdowns back when Apple Bloom first died, because she managed to pull herself together after just a few more tears. “Well, anyway, Ah’m glad it’s here. You should check out the church proper. Say a few words. You don’t gotta believe in an afterlife or God or anythin’ for it to mean somethin’ to you.” She looked right at me, fixing me with a pleading gaze. “Ah know my sister would want to hear from you, if no one else.”

I can think of a few people I want to say something to, sure. I gave her a polite nod and a wave, and left her to sit there. As I returned to the foyer, I briefly witnessed Diamond Tiara leaving towards the promenade while carrying something large in her hands, but I didn’t bother to follow her.

Instead I pushed open the double doors to the main temple area. As I stepped in, I was met with a large, two story room, laid out like many of the churches I’d visited for one reason or another. A central aisle leading up to a raised platform where a few different types of altars rested, a lectern at the center of them with a single text sitting open atop it. Two rows of pews to either side, with cushions for seating. A large open space off to the right was filled with prayer mats for those who worshiped through laying down.

Scootaloo was sitting on a cushion in one of the pews, quietly whispering to herself with clasped hands and her head bowed. I gave her plenty of space as I walked by on my way up to the altars.

There was a small space set aside for a singing choir or band to play, but otherwise, the front of the church was rather barren of the usual accoutrements. No massive religious symbol hanging overhead like I’d see in a lot of churches. Just different alters, for different faiths. One in particular caught my eye. It was just a small slab of white marble atop a carved pillar, but in decoration it looked so similar to ones I’d seen in old pegasi settlements in Equestria it called to me.

All of the altars had thoughtfully provided cushions, so I kneeled down carefully, and bowed my head onto the altar, letting the cool marble soothe my head. The religious symbols carved all over it mostly lacked meaning for me, save for a symbol that felt like an echo of Equestria, with a matched sun and moon standing together as twins below a set of spread wings and a raised point, like a symbol for alicorns. I doubted it had anything to do with Equestria at all, but it felt similar enough that it spoke to me.

“I, I don’t do this kind of thing very often,” I began quietly as I brought my hands together in the same gesture I saw Scootaloo adopt. “I don’t know who or what is listening. But if there’s any powers that be out there, I want to pass along a message to those who’ve died.”

“First, to the blackeneds. Timber, Sweetie Belle, Twilight, Flash… I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry I had to figure out your crimes. I know none of you would’ve ever acted if it weren’t for this damned killing game. Yes, even you, Timber. I didn’t like you much, but you weren’t a murderer. Not before this game. None of you deserved the fates you received. I feel responsible for each of you, as if I’d killed you myself. So I’m sorry. I hope you’re resting easily, and that if there’s any kind of judgement in the afterlife, that it’s treating you fairly, and with consideration for the circumstances.”

“Second, to the victims. Wallflower, we hardly spoke, and when we did, we weren’t that kind to each other. And I know now if you’d had your memories, you wouldn’t have treated me that way. I hope you got them back, when you passed, and that you didn’t suffer too much. Apple Bloom, you were my friend, and I miss you. I still feel like you shouldn’t have died in my place. Like I should’ve died then. I don’t want to die. I still don’t. But you died for me, and that’s never going to feel right. Ever.”

“Fluttershy, you were a kind soul cut down in such a cruel, unfair way… I only hope it was so quick you hardly felt it. If anyone deserved to still be walking around now, it’s you. Pinkie Pie, oh where to begin with you, Pinkie? We failed you. We all failed you. We weren’t there enough for you, and you turned to something you probably never would have otherwise because of it. Worse, I gave you bad advice. I practically sent you to your death myself. I know that’s not true, but it feels like it. I also want to let you know how much Trixie regrets what she did. I hope you can find some way to forgive her. I’m still working on it myself.”

“Rainbow Dash, in some ways you were treated least fairly of all. All you did was try to be a friend for someone who’d lost someone they cared about. And don’t get me started on what Monoponi did, defiling your body. I’m so unbelievably sorry that had to happen, and I hope that, if you are in an afterlife, you didn’t feel or see any of it.”

I raised my head off the altar for a few seconds, then set it back down again, and opened my eyes. “I miss you all. Rest in peace, okay?”

With that, I managed to climb to my feet, feeling a weight lifted off my shoulders. Most of the anxiety and fear from earlier had faded away, leaving me with a sense of relief. Like a lot of the tension I’d carried around these past two weeks had finally found a way to disappear. Maybe I should do this more often.

Before I left the church, though, I decided to putter around a bit more, checking out the other alters and the back in case there was another door. Good thing I did it too, because in the back of the church, behind the other altars, I found one final one. This one seemed a bit more… dark. Not evil. Not even bad. Just darker. Like the good kind of dark, that hides in the shadows protecting the innocent, watching over dreams. And to fit such a mood there was a small set of implements laying on the altar. Most were harmless little tools, like tweezers, a mortar and pestle, and so on, all made out of expensive materials like turtle shells. However, there was also a single blade laying there, with a black handle carved from ebony and lined with pieces of obsidian shaped like stars. I picked it up, but it felt wrong in my hand. Again, not an evil or harmful kind of wrong. Just like it wasn’t for me. Like I shouldn’t touch it.

Respectfully, I left the altar alone, and poked around the main area some more, but apart from more decorations and symbols and open space, I found nothing of real interest. So deciding I’d have enough of this place for now, I left the temple, headed back to the music room to grab my guitar, and carefully took it with me out to the promenade. I decided to return to my cabin in the open, where I could be easily seen. And heard.

Only when I reached my cabin and locked the door behind me did I feel a modicum of safety again. So naturally, it was only after I locked the door that I realized Adagio was waiting for me, just stepping out of the bathroom. I paused, and took a few steps away from her while gently placing my guitar down on the desk. “O-oh, h-hey Adagio! H-how're you doing?”

“Not good,” Adagio answered quietly. A dark, sadistic sneer briefly crossed her face as she glared at the guitar before she shook it off. “Look, I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me back there, in the temple.”

“You’re sorry?” I muttered, feeling the sudden rush of adrenaline flooding my veins. “Sorry? You tackled me, choked me, and used magic on me! What the fuck were you thinking?”

“I don’t know! I don’t!” Adagio raised her fists up like she wanted to punch something, and settled for slamming one into my bathroom door. “I didn’t even think I had any magic left!”

“Well you obviously had something judging by the red eyes and that freaky voice,” I retorted, taking another couple of steps back. At this point I was as far away as I could get. I wasn’t as scared as I’d been in the church, but I was still concerned.

“It was that song,” she said, her anger beginning to drain.“The one I was playing. I don’t know what it was, or why, but it felt… empowering.”

“Wrong,” I countered. “It felt… wrong.”

She cocked her head to the side and raised her eyebrows once in acknowledgement. “I guess it would, to a pony. It was a power ballad.” At my quizzical look, she groaned. “Not that kind of power ballad. I mean the siren kind. Sirens have many types of songs, for various situations. Power ballads are designed to help us focus our magic, increase our power. The power we draw from negative emotions.”

“Oh. That might explain the way I reacted afterwards,” I said, not expecting this answer. “I was so scared. Terrified. To the point I disassociated.”

Adagio turned away. “I’m afraid that’s my fault. When I… reacted to your song, I magnified every negative emotion in the room at once. That’s how siren magic works. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. That song you played? It was a countersong. The antithesis of what I was playing, in every way.”

I held up my hands and brought the tips together. “Like two waves meeting. They cancel each other out.”

“No,” Adagio disagreed with a shake of her head. “Worse. Yours was..stronger. I don’t know where from, or why, but yours had a power mine didn’t. I hadn’t felt the touch of magic in so long that when it was just as suddenly threatened, I reacted to preserve it.” She turned to face me again, her entire demeanor screaming contrition. “I am truly sorry for the way I acted.

I sighed, frowning, before waving her over. “Come here.”

She approached me hesitantly, but when I reached out to embrace her, she sank into it greedily. “I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you,” I replied, giving her a tight, but still comfortable, hug. “This time. But please don’t do that again. Or throw my guitar.”

“I won’t, I--wait, your guitar?” Adagio’s eyebrows shot to the top of her head as her lips shrank into a confused pout. “What?”

“Yeah, it’s mine,” I answered, reaching over to it. I turned it over and showed her the information on the neck. “See? My name, phone number, and address in case it was lost.”

“It’s yours,” Adagio repeated. She blinked once, twice, thrice, then whispered more quietly, “It’s your guitar.”

“Yeah. So?”

Adagio shook her head rapidly, her hair swishing like an orange blur. “Excuse me, Sunset, but I need to go… think about something. I’ll see you later.”

She was out the door and it closed before I could say a word.

Author's Note:

This chapter's title, like all the chapter titles, are based upon the sea in some fashion. In this case, it's a saying, which roughly means, "hope for the impossible." Of all my chapter titles, this one, I feel, is the most apt.

If Rarity's interest in Sunset seems too sudden, it's only because Rarity herself has only recently become aware of it. I ascribe to Rarity a lack of self-awareness that makes it difficult for her to process her own emotions. She's so busy being melodramatic and losing herself in romanticized ideals about life that she fails to pay much attention to her own emotional state.

Unfortunately this does nix the possibility of a Rarity/Trixie platonic relationship, something that I only became aware I was building up to as a result of comments(when in fact everything pointing to it was something I just did because it made sense at the time I wrote it, without any kind of overarching plan), and it makes me wish, in retrospect, I'd actually gone in that direction. So, sorry to the Rarity/Trixie shippers out there. One of these days I'll make up for this. :twilightblush:

The museum featured here was, at one point, going to debut in the third chapter, not the fifth, hence why it seems designed all around Twilight Sparkle despite her no longer being here. I found I needed other facilities before I needed it. A similar thing happened with the church, which was going to show up in the fourth chapter originally.

Why the name change for the planets? Well, because I'd already changed around names of things like continents and countries, I thought I should change the planets too. And since the MLPverse has a lot of Grecian influences, and the names of the planets in real life are all based upon Roman gods, I though I'd swap them for their Greek counterparts.

It was either that or go the route that Changeling Space Program did and name planets after mythological horses, but I didn't want to step on Kris Overstreet's toes. (By the way, if you haven't read that story or The Maretian yet? You should. They're both magnificent, especially if you love space travel.)

Why not Gaia instead of Earth? Because the English language is weird. (And we can pretend that, like a lot of languages do with Terra, a lot of languages on this world call it Gaia.)

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