• 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 3

Chapter Five
Whistle for the Wind
Daily Life Part 3

I awoke with a start from nightmares of Adagio chasing me with a knife down endless corridors lined by guitar shaped torch sconces. It wasn’t yet dawn, judging by the lack of light out the porthole window. My ribs ached like crazy, but at least my breathing wasn’t as painful as it had been last night. There was a pressure on my back and shoulders, and a warmth around my waist. In the darkness I couldn’t tell what it was, so I felt around my stomach and discovered a pair of hands wrapped around me. I tensed up, afraid for a moment I was under attack.

Then I remembered Rarity offered to stay the night and relaxed a tad. I reached down to gently detach her hands, ignoring the slight mumbling noise she made in her sleep, and stood up out of bed. I tried to stretch, but wow that was a mistake, because pain rippled up and down my whole torso like jets of flame. Still, I was able to walk, and made it into the bathroom to use the toilet and back out again.

I left the bathroom door open just a crack, enough to light my way so I could find my Monopad. Checking the time, I saw it was 5:22 AM. Way the hell early, but I’d had enough sleep for now.

It was only once I checked my closet for a fresh pair of clothes to wear after a shower that I remembered Adagio’s vandalism. I had nothing wearable save the outfit I was already wearing. Well, that, and the tracksuit I’d bought a while back for exercise. Not ideal, but at least it was clean.

I took it in with me to the bathroom and showered, enjoying the spray of hot water on my torso as it helped to soothe some of the aches. I desperately wished to swallow some more pain medicine, but I didn’t want to take it on an empty stomach. I needed food.

By the time I emerged from the shower, Rarity had sat up in bed, and was rubbing at her eyes. “Oh, good morning, Sunset!” she said, jerking in surprise when she saw me. She made a face at the sight of my tracksuit. “Oh dear. Was that all you had?”

“The only thing clean, yeah,” I said, a bit of irritation leaking into my voice. I don’t need you judging my choice of clothes right now.

She arched her eyebrows at my tone, then her face shifted to an apologetic smile. “Sorry, I didn’t mean any offense by that. If anything, I’m furious on your behalf. You shouldn’t be deprived of clothing.” She hummed to herself, giving me a once over, then nodded. “Alright. I’ll have to fix that for you. You’ll probably want something a bit more practical than the evening dress I made before.”

“No, it’s okay, you don’t have to do that,” I said. “There’s plenty of stuff I can buy from the sporting goods store. I can get a few t-shirts and sets of shorts. It’ll be fine.”

“Ah, well, darling, if that’s what you want,” Rarity replied with a pronounced cringe, “then I won’t stand in your way.”

Feeling a bit too annoyed from the combination of pain and hunger worming its way through my belly, I rolled my eyes at that and muttered a brief, “Thanks, I’ll try to remember that.”

Rarity nodded, though for a moment I saw hurt reflected in her sapphire blue eyes before she schooled it away. “Of course.” She pulled out her own Monopad and checked the time. “Hmm. Quite early, but I suppose we could still get some breakfast, if you’d like.”

“Yes, please,” I answered, stuffing my Monopad into my backpack and slipping it on. I brought out my keys, ready to lock the door on my way out. I did not want to forget to do that again.

I waited for Rarity to grab her sword off my desk, and then we departed for the promenade. “You know,” I said as I watched her awkwardly carry it around in her hand, “you might want to make a belt for that.”

“Oh I intend to, as soon as I get the opportunity.” Rarity didn’t look at me when she talked, keeping her eyes peeled on our surroundings. “I’d rather not wear out my arm carrying it all day.”

Once we reached the restaurants, Rarity asked me to sit down so she could fetch me my meal. “I don’t want to make you carry the tray around,” she said, insisting on it.

I can fend for myself, Rarity… but thanks. I conceded and allowed her to get my food. We sat down together at the standard meeting table. No one else was up yet, so we had it to ourselves. Despite my annoyance, once I took the first bite of food I found myself greedily scarfing down the rest. Every bite was like manna from the gods, utterly delicious. I washed it down with a piping hot cup of black coffee, savoring the bitter burn as it trickled down my throat.

Rarity tittered as she watched me eat. “Goodness. I haven’t seen someone wolf down food like that since… well, nevermind.” She took a sip of her own coffee and then savored a bite of her pancakes. “Feeling a little better now?”

“A little,” I admitted. I dug into my backpack and popped out my set of pills. I took one, swallowing it with the last of my coffee. The drugs kicked in swiftly, easing the pain of breathing from a trio of knives stabbing my lungs every second to something more like a slap in the face. Still hurt, but not as bad.

“Well, I’m glad to hear it. Do you have any plans for your day?” Rarity asked as she took another bite of food.

I sat back, thinking about my answer. “Um, well… it’s probably stupid, but I wanted to try to talk to Adagio.”

Rarity sat up straight, setting her fork down on her plate. “You’re right,” she replied. “That is stupid. Adagio clearly wants nothing to do with you anymore. Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“No. But I want to do it anyway,” I answered. “I’m hoping she’s calmed down enough so we can talk things out. I’m… really pissed she hit me, and even more that she messed up my room and destroyed my guitar, but…”

“But you still care about her,” Rarity finished for me, a note of sadness entering her voice.

“Well, yeah,” I said. A blush came to my cheeks. “We just told each other we love each other for the first time a couple of days ago. She’s not a bad person. She’s--”

“Not human,” Rarity interrupted, fixing me with a stern glare. “She’s a siren.”

My hackles rose on my neck as I glared right back at her. “I’m not human either, in case you forgot.”

Rarity closed her eyes, took a breath, then schooled her face into polite contrition. “Forgive me, I wasn’t intending to be racist.”

“No, I know what you meant,” I said, waving it off. “I get it. She’s not human. She’s not even a pony. She’s a siren. But I know she’s got the ability to be good. I’ve seen it in her. I’ve helped her change.”

Rarity nodded, though one side of her mouth turned down. Her voice quivered as she replied, “Of course, of course. She’s important to you.” She attempted a smile, though it was strained at best. “If you need support, or someone nearby to feel safe, I would be happy to accompany you.”

I turned away from her for a moment so she wouldn’t see my face. Rarity, I know what you’re doing. You’re scared. You’re feeling lonely. You’ve lost your sister, you’ve disowned your wife, and now you’re trying to cling to whatever comfort you can find. I’m happy to be your friend, and if things don’t work out with Adagio then… maybe. But I won’t take advantage of you, and if I gave in now that’s what I’d be doing.

I turned back to her and smiled. “Thanks, Rarity. I’d appreciate that.”

I waited for Rarity to finish her breakfast, and then we spent some time chatting. I did my best to keep the conversation light and away from any sensitive subjects. Sometime after 6:00 AM the others drifted in, apart from Trixie. I did briefly spot Adagio grabbing a meal from one of the restaurants before heading right back to her cabin, and I let her be. If I was going to confront her, I wanted it to be when she was prepared for it.

I pulled out my Monopad around 6:45 so I could draft a text to her. Adagio, I wrote, I want you to know I am truly sorry. I’d like to speak with you if I may, to clear the air. Wherever you’d like to meet up and when. I’m not picky.

I received a short reply moments later. Fine. I’ll hear you out. Fitness center, pool area, noon. Come alone. Tell no one or the deal’s off.

Tapping out a quick affirmation, I sent it off. Then, because I didn’t want everyone at the table knowing what was happening, I wrote out a new one to Rarity. Adagio’s meeting with me at the fitness center pool at noon. She says I should come alone.

I watched Rarity’s face twist into confusion as her pad bleeped. She pulled it out, looked at my text, then fixed me with a concerned glare. She opened her mouth to respond but I quickly shook my head and pointed back at the pad. Sighing, she looked down and soon I received her response. You’d better not go alone! This could be a trap!

Biting off the sarcastic “no shit” that came to mind, I replied instead, I know. I don’t intend to. I’ll go in the main way. You come from the locker room. Be ready.

Rarity made a quiet whimpering noise as she typed out, Maybe we should get backup. Say, Scootaloo?

No. I don’t want to scare her away. We show up with a posse, she’ll run, and I won’t get a second try. Just keep out of sight when you arrive. I can handle myself long enough to let you act if necessary.

Rarity’s lips thinned before forming a frustrated pout as she scowled at me. I refused to move, so after a moment she sighed again. Very well. But be careful! Please. I don’t want you to get hurt.

DING-DONG BING-BONG

“Uh, it’s a bit early for the morning announcement, isn’t it?” Diamond Tiara said, looking up from her breakfast.

“Betcha it’s Monoponi beggin’ us to come see him,” Applejack drawled.

Sure enough, Monoponi’s grinning face appeared on the screens. Like last night, his desk was full of cheap, unhealthy snacks taken right out of the bargain bin. Even his table and chair had been replaced with cheaper, lower quality goods, which unnerved me a little to see. “Gooood morning, my dear passengers. Looks like you’re all up and about, so why don’t you come on down to your Captain’s bridge deck. I’ve got a lovely new activity you’re sure to enjoy!”

Scootaloo collapsed face first into her bowl of oatmeal. “So sick of this.”

“We all are, darling,” Rarity said, pulling Scootaloo up out of her oatmeal and using a napkin to wipe off her face.

Scootaloo grumbled but acquiesced to the assisted cleanup, then stood from her chair, grabbing up the wooden baseball bat she must’ve purchased the previous evening. “Alright, let’s get this over with.”

“I’ll get Trixie,” Tiara said. She’d rigged her own sword in some kind of makeshift strap around her chest, balancing it on her back. It looked ridiculous and like it was prone to fall off at any minute.

“Ah’ll go with you. Make sure she don’t do nothin’,” Applejack said, carting her own bat on her shoulder.

Rarity snorted as she shot out of her chair. “That’s entirely unnecessary. Trixie is not going to ‘do’ anything!”

“Exactly,” Applejack said with a backwards wave of her hand as she walked off.

“Oooooh!” Rarity’s face turned beat red as she shook with sudden anger. “Applejack, you…”

“Come on, let’s get going,” I said, taking up her hand in mine and gently tugging it. “You can be mad at Applejack later.”

We all arrived at the bridge deck in fairly rapid succession, with Tiara, AJ, and Trixie not far behind. Adagio was the last to arrive, and she stayed as far away from the rest of us as she could. She hid her face by looking away, but before she did I saw the brief widening of her eyes as she spotted how many weapons were on display.

Monoponi stepped onto the balcony barely a moment later, stretching his wings to the sky. The morning sunlight streamed across the deck, bathing us all in a warm glow. Fluffy white clouds dotted the otherwise crystal clear blue sky. If it weren’t for the alicorn before us, I’d think it was a perfect day on the sea. “Ah, good! You were prompt. No tardiness. No people talking in the corridor for fifteen minutes before finally deining to show us their ugly little faces.” He leaned over the balcony railing and glanced between us. “Oh my! So many weapons! I sure hope you’re not planning a mutiny.” His lips spread into a nasty, sadistic grin. “You wouldn’t like the results.”

“No one’s planning anything,” Tiara answered, stepping forward and pointing her sword out at Monoponi like it was an extension of her finger. “What do you want this time?”

He hopped off the balcony and floated down to the deck, landing quietly before calmly walking up to look me over from several angles. I stiffened as he approached, despite the increased pain that caused my chest. “Oh dear. Sunset Shimmer, you seem to be injured! Isn’t that a shame? It’s almost as if your Captain warned you something like this would happen.” He fell back onto his rump and slapped both forehooves on his barrel. “Ahahaha! You deserve it too, for the way you treated me at the trial!”

“Hey!” Rarity cried. She took a few steps towards us, her sword held at her side, unsheathed. “Aren’t you going to heal Sunset? You were so keen to heal all of us the other day.”

“First of all,” Monoponi replied as he hopped up on all four hooves, “Don’t demand things from your Captain! It’s rude! Second of all…” He shot forward like a rocket till he was right in front of her, the sword ripped from her hand instantly by his magic and held up to point at her throat. “Don’t threaten me.”

Rarity gasped, her hands shooting up in surrender. She shook in place like a leaf, staring down at the point of the sword poking into her neck. “I-I-I-I wasn’t!” she squeaked. “I wouldn’t dream of it!”

Monoponi held the sword there for a moment longer, then dropped it at her feet. “Good,” he said as he took to the air and landed back on his balcony. “So, moving on to the reason I brought you all here. Ahem.” He ruffled a hoof into his mane, withdrew a piece of paper from… somewhere… and then lit up his horn to hold it in front of him. “Your Captain has done everything he could to ensure you’re all enjoying the facilities you’ve become accustomed to. To giving you the best food, the tastiest beverages, the most fun activities, the freest of goods for you to purchase at no charge to yourself. Until now, that is.”

His horn fired off a jet of light, and all our pads bleeped. I pulled mine out straight away to check it. I hadn’t been expecting a new motive. I figured he wouldn’t bother. What is he pulling this… time… what the crap?!

On our pads, a new app had appeared, with a symbol that looked suspiciously like an Equestrian bit. Pressing it brought up an interface like an app for a bank account, only this one featured Monoponi’s leering face and the words “Monocoin Currency” scrawled along the top like the name of a financial institution. It also listed my name, a list of charges up to the point from everything I’d scanned on the pad, and showed a remaining account balance of one hundred coins.

“What in tarnation is this?” Applejack demanded, holding up her pad.

“Upupu, what does it look like to you?” Monoponi replied.

Diamond Tiara’s face screwed up, utterly nonplussed. “It’s like a debit card or something.”

“Precisely,” Monoponi said gleefully. “That’s exactly what it is. Your Captain has decided you morons have had far too many goodies to enjoy. It’s made you soft! Spoiled! Disrespectful! Well, no more of that. Let’s see how you feel when you have to pay for every little thing you use on this ship.” He held up his hoof and tapped it to his horn. The hidden turrets popped out of their hiding holes and took aim at us, whirring every so often to show they were ready to fire. I heard similar noises coming from the promenade, and briefly glanced that way to see more guns appearing. As if he’d suddenly unveiled every gun on the ship.

“B-but, but, I’ve never had to worry about money before!” Tiara blurted in a sudden panic. “How do we know what things cost?”

Applejack looked at Tiara, her lips quivering with repressed mirth. “Ah guess you’ll just have to learn like the rest of us have,” she said, her voice shaking as she held in her laughter.

This is ridiculous, I thought to myself. Why is he giving us another motive? This would be the fifth case, if another murder happens. Those are motiveless. Why bother now? Why not just leave us to our own devices?

I considered what we’d seen so far, and remembered what he said about making the alternate Twilight watch. Maybe he’s running out of time. Maybe the other Twilight is almost here, and he has to hurry to kill off as many of us as he can before she saves us. I still don’t get why he’d bother showcasing the game to her though. I don’t understand. It’s like he’s daring her to rescue us. But why?

“So!” Monoponi called out, bringing my attention back to him. “I’m sure you’re all dying to know if this is your new motive. Well it’s not! This isn’t going to end after the next trial. You’re stuck with this till I say otherwise! Maybe if you shits learn some proper respect, I’ll take away the punishment. Oh, and just because I know you morons will do this if I don’t prevent it…” His horn lit up and our pads beeped again.

I checked, and my heart sank when I saw a rule had been amended.

Rule #16: The shops will only be available from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM. After that, they will be closed. The restaurants, however, are available at any time and are automated. All items must be paid for with your own money. No food or items may be removed from shops or restaurants without first being paid for via Monopad. Stealing will not be tolerated!

“Are we gonna get more money?” Scootaloo asked. “Or are we stuck with what we’ve got?”

Monoponi held a hoof to his lips. “I miiiiight give you a daily stipend, upupu, if you’re good. And there might be a reward if you survive another trial. But other than that… nope. You’ve gotta live with what you have.”

Adagio’s hand shot up in the air. “Question, Monoponi,” she said in a tone so obnoxiously sweet it made me nauseous. “What if someone dies. Can we use their Monocoins to buy something then, since it’s not stealing to take their Monopad?”

“Huh.” Monoponi blinked, and tapped a forehoof to his chin. “Good question! You know what? Sure. Go nuts. If it gets people dying faster, your Captain is all for it!” He set his forehoof back down on the ground. “Well, I think that wraps everything up that your Captain has to say. Enjoy your Monocoins. Better not spend it all in one place! Ahahaha!”

With that, he vanished in a flash of light.

“Well, we’d better go see what kind of prices he’s charging,” Scootaloo declared, trudging towards the promenade with a defeated, hunched over stance. “Probably going to make us pay out the ass for anything from the restaurants…”

“Trixie agrees that’s likely,” Trixie said as she slowly ambled after her. “Trixie thinks we may have to eat ramen.”

“Ah sure hope not. Ah hate that stuff,” Applejack grunted as she followed close behind, keeping a careful eye on the illusionist.

I glanced towards Adagio, but she’d already disappeared. I guess she doesn’t care.

Diamond Tiara moved swiftly so she could walk right by side. “Sunset,” she said, her face contorted with anxiety, “you’ve got to help me. I’ve never had to worry about my spending money before.”

The image of Diamond Tiara of all people begging me for help almost caused me to break into laughter. The only thing stopping me was the harsh pain from my cracked ribs. “It’s not that hard. I’ll show you,” I replied;.

“Thanks,” she said sincerely, relief crossing her face. “I’m good with budgets and math, but that’s all with businesses spending millions, not my own spending. I uh… I get a lot of money from my daddy every month.”

“How much, exactly?”

Tiara’s cheeks flushed a violent pink as she looked away, staring at the floor. “...over fifteen thousand.”

“Over fifteen grand? A month? As an allowance?” Scootaloo gasped, looking back over her shoulder at us. “That’s insane!”

“Well it’s not an allowance!” Tiara spluttered, slapping her hands to her hips. “I-I-I do work for him! I help out. It’s not free!”

“Still!”

Rarity deliberately stepped between the two. “Now now, let’s not argue over this. We know Tiara comes from wealth. Let’s not pester the poor dear about it.”

Applejack let out a loud snort and muttered something about “high-falutin’ rich folk” under her breath. Rarity bristled at the comment, but didn’t say a word.

When we arrived at the restaurants, I decided to check the Qilinese place first, being one of the cheaper establishments. “Good grief!” I muttered when I saw some of the prices. Even the basic appetizers were twenty to thirty coins. A meal was closer to sixty. Then I checked the Prench restaurant and my eyes nearly popped out of my skull. “Three hundred!” I squeaked as I looked at one of the more expensive plates.

“They’re all so expensive,” Rarity said, cringing more at every new price she read.

Leaving the others to check the restaurants, I sped over to the convenience store, the only store that sold anything edible, if you don’t count the alcohol or marijuana snacks. Fortunately the prices in here were much easier on the eyes, like single coin sodas, or two coin bags of chips. Like Trixie said, the best price by far was the instant ramen, at three packages to a coin. And if all you eat is instant ramen, you’re going to feel like complete shit. Which means you’re more likely to make bad decisions. Like killing someone.

Great.

“Trixie sees our culinary choices are quite limited now,” commented Trixie as she ambled into the store. “She’s glad you fed her well when you had the chance.”

“Yeah me too,” I replied, scowling at the package of miso flavored ramen in my hand. I tossed it back on the shelf in disgust. “At least we have plenty of water. And we can use the restaurant kitchen equipment, even if we can’t touch the ingredients.”

“Trixie price checked some of them,” Trixie said, selecting a few packets of ramen and carrying them to the register. “A few of the vegetables are reasonable. We could still eat something green once a day.”

“That’s something, I suppose.” I glared back down at the ramen, then, with a groan, I scooped up a few of the less objectionable choices. “I used to eat this shit all the time, when I first came here from Equestria. I never wanted to do that again.”

Trixie gave a sanguine shrug. “We do what we need to do.”

After I took my purchases with me, I decided to check the sporting goods store, to search for a camping stove. Or a hotplate. I managed to find a good hotplate, surprisingly cheap too. I decided to buy two, one for myself and one for Trixie. The stoves came with complimentary pots, just big enough to boil a single block of noodles. It took up a good third of my remaining Monocoins, but it was worth it.

I immediately presented Trixie with the gift, before Applejack or Tiara could remember she was still running around free and lock her up again. Trixie took the hotplate in her hands, gave it a quick lookover, then her eyes watered up. “Sunset,” she breathed, before setting it down and moving to embrace me. “You’re so thoughtful, thank you.”

I gave it to her just in time too, because right afterwards, Applejack and Tiara scooped her up and dropped her off at her cabin. Afterwards, I met back up with Rarity, who offered again to make me some clothes, now that buying them was out of the question. “Though new fabric may be too expensive, I-I still have a lot of materials left over from other projects. A-and I might be able to afford more if needed? Perhaps?” She gave me a strained smile, which quickly faded into a grimace. "Or maybe not. But it's still worth doing!"

So I gave in, and agreed to let her make me a shirt or two, and a pair of pants. Enough to give me another outfit. Since I had little else to do other than spend time until my meeting with Adagio, I ended up accompanying her to the theater workshop, where she set up making clothes and chatting all the while. We talked about quite a few things: she shared moments from her childhood, I told her some things about Equestria. It was a pretty good time. Rarity was easy to talk to. Melodramatic, but pretty chill, once she relaxed. The longer we talked, the more animated she became, more cheerful. By the time noon rolled around, she’d even finished one of the shirts. It was a plain, simple affair, but it was a shirt.

But the time had come to meet up with Adagio, and I was not looking forward to it. I was more than a little worried Rarity might have to come rescue me. “Good luck,” she said as we split up at the entrance to the fitness center.

I walked through the rest of it, past the room where Rainbow Dash once faked Pinkie’s death, and tried not to notice how the place, like every other crime scene, had been rendered spotless by whatever Monoponi used to clean up the ship. There were turrets on the walls too, always aiming as I walked by. There were turrets everywhere now. He’d hidden what felt like hundreds of them all over, and they were now showing their face.

I passed by the squash court, hesitating in front of the door to the pool. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go in there. Not just because I hadn’t been in since investigating Pinkie’s body, but because I was afraid. Afraid if I opened this door I’d be attacked, or worse, killed. Afraid Adagio wouldn’t listen to reason. Afraid she’d already set a trap, and I’d die before I realized what was happening.

I took a deep breath, tried not to wince too bad from the resulting pain, and pushed open the door. As soon as I entered, my eyes darted about, seeking out any kind of potential trap. But there was nothing. All I saw was Adagio, sitting on one of the bleachers, at just the right angle to watch both entrances to the pool. She had her knife out, tossing it up in the air every so often and catching it by the hilt. “You’re late,” she said.

I quickly glanced at the sauna and locker room corridor, but I didn’t see Rarity. Not at first. Then I spotted the tiniest flash of purple, hiding just inside the hot tub room. “Sorry,” I answered, returning my gaze to Adagio so she didn’t see where I was looking. “It’s a bit hard for me to move around right now.” I deliberately exaggerated my wincing at every breath as I took a seat on the other side of the bleachers.

She eyed me, her eyes cold and dark, without a hint of the love I’d seen in them not a day earlier. Instead she considered me like she would a cockroach scuttling across the floor. “I broke your ribs, didn’t I?” she asked lightly, once again tossing her knife up in the air.

“Yes,” I hissed, irritation leaking into my tone despite my attempt to keep it steady. I saw her mouth quirk up in amusement, which just made me angrier. “It hurts. A lot.”

“Good,” Adagio replied. She tossed her knife up one more time, caught it, then slipped it into her pocket. “It should. Now you know a bit of how I feel after what we learned.”

“Adagio, look,” I replied, losing patience rapidly with this complete lack of remorse on her part. “I didn’t. Know. Okay? I had no idea. If I’d known, I would’ve told you the very first time you told me about how you lost your magic. I never would’ve kept it secret if I’d known.”

The siren arched both eyebrows before rolling her eyes. “You say that, but how do I know I can believe you?” She held a hand up to her neck, right where the gem necklace had hung in the photos. “Do you realize what you took from me? Magic is everything to a siren. Without it, my sisters and I were lost. Adrift. We tried to find a way to move on. Used some fancy human tech to make it sound like we could sing worth a damn.” She squeezed her eyes shut and bowed her head. “It was enough to sell a few songs. Even got us into a concert once with some pop duo called PostCrush. But it wasn’t magic. It wasn’t anything like what we had. It was meaningless.”

“I know what it’s like to live without magic,” I said, my anger cooling a skosh. “I… I didn’t want to mention this to you before, because I was afraid it’d upset you, but when I lived in Equestria? I wasn’t just some random unicorn. I was the student of Princess Celestia herself. I was once on the fast track to becoming an alicorn. Once.” The memories flooded in now, coating my voice with the bitter tang of regret. “Then I made a stupid mistake, and wound up here. Until we found that guitar, and saw those photos? I thought I’d lived without magic ever since.”

“Except you didn’t!” Adagio shouted, jumping to her feet. Her eyes widened with ire as she advanced one me, one step at a time. “You didn’t just have some magic. You had tons of it! Enough to make an artifact out of a fucking guitar!” She stopped just a few feet away from me and jabbed a finger in my direction. “And if you were the student of Celestia? It’s no wonder. I cannot believe I ever let you touch me! You, you corrupted me! You tried to make me ‘nice’ and ‘good’ and ‘loving.’”

“I never did a fucking thing to ‘corrupt’ you, Adagio!” I screamed back, grunting at every breath now as my lungs burned like fire. “All I ever did was show you trust. I gave you my friendship. I loved you. I still do! I never wanted to hurt you, damn it! If I could take back what I did in the past, I would! I’d give you your magic back in a heartbeat.” I gripped a fist tight and held it to my chest, as much for the gesture as to help try and ease some of the rib pain. “I care about you. You matter to me. You’ve been one of the only things keeping me sane on this fucking ship!”

“You, you’re still saying that.” Adagio laughed, despite the tears streaming from her eyes now. The laugh was the deepest, most bitter I’d heard from her yet, not so much dark chocolate as outright raw cacao beans shoved down my throat. “You still expect me to believe that utter bullshit!For just a moment, her eyes glowed with red light. “I never even knew what love was until I spent time with you. I used to think it was just a weakness, a failing on the part of ponies and humans alike. And now? Now I see I was right!

She shoved her face right up in mine and grabbed the front of my tracksuit, yanking me forward despite the sharp yelp of pain I let out. “I don’t know why I bothered showing up, but let me make something very clear, Shimmer! I can see through everything you’ve done since we arrived. I put my faith in you, thinking I could trust a fellow Equestrian over a bunch of humans. Yet what did you do? You wormed your way into my heart. You filled it with these warm, ‘happy’ feelings of hope. Friendship. Love. Harmony. Everything you did tore away at my true soul, at the siren I was born to be. All you ever wanted was to mold me into yet another one of you worthless weaklings. Well I won’t let you.” She reached for her pocket and pulled out her knife.

“Sunset!” came a shriek from the sauna corridor. Adagio whirled, and let go of me long enough to see Rarity running in, sword held at the ready. “Let her go, siren! Now!”

Adagio gaped, and spun back to face me. “I told you to come alone!” she howled, pointing at Rarity. “And this is what you do? Was this just a trick?! You didn’t have any intentions of apologizing at all, did you? No, you were hoping I’d let my guard down so you could have Rarity kill me!”

Somewhere, deep in my heart, my last hope for a good resolution with Adagio shattered into a million pieces. “No, no, that’s not it at all, Adagio, I wasn’t--”

“Shut up!” She grabbed me by again, and with one great burst of strength hoisted me up to hold me several feet in the air. "I was hoping I was wrong. That I could trust you. But obviously, I can't. Which means I'm through with you, Shimmer! Stay out of my life!" With that, she hurled me into the deep end of the pool.

As I fell into the water, fear coursed through my body. I flailed like crazy, but trying to swim with two busted ribs was impossible. Agony seared across my chest like a shower of blades piercing my flesh.. I splashed all over as I desperately tried to keep my head above water.

And then I sank beneath, screaming on the inside as I struggled to hold my breath and try to get back above, get a taste of sweet, precious air. Every second that passed left me feeling weaker, less able to resist.

Then I heard someone dive into the water, and strong arms wrap around my torso. The pain of her muscles squeezing against my cracked ribs was excruciating. But as soon as my head broke the surface of the water, I took in great heaving gulps, despite the utter torture that breathing caused. Then Rarity brought me over to one of the pool walls. “That’s it, breathe, Sunset. Breathe! I’ve got you!” With one last strain of impressive muscular power she hefted me up and out of the pool.

I fell flat onto the concrete, shivering and soaked to the bone. Water dribbled and dripped off me as I laid on my back, relishing the sensation of air passing in and out of my lungs. It hurt like fuck. And that pain helped remind me I was alive. For now.

I wasn’t sure how long it took me to recover, but eventually I was able to stand, with Rarity’s assistance. “T-thank you for saving me,” I stammered as I shook, still unsteady on my feet. I was forced to cling to Rarity to avoid falling back over.

“Well, of course I did. I wasn’t about to let her gut you with that hideous knife of hers,” Rarity replied. She tried to bat at her hair to playfully push it aside, but the waterlogged short ponytail failed to do more than produce a wet slapping noise when it smacked against her neck. “Obviously she was never going to listen to reason.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” I said. Using Rarity as a crutch, we made our way to the nearby benches and sat down. “I know she pulled out the knife, but… I don’t think she was going to hurt me with it.”

Rarity cocked her head, blinking at me quizzically. “What makes you think that?”

I sighed, feeling more than a little frustrated with myself and the way I handled things. “Adagio was feeling hurt and scared more than she was angry. I know her well enough to know that. She was lashing out. When she pulled out that knife? She was probably going to put it into my hand and tell me to carve out her heart with it or something like that. That’s why I didn’t say anything. I was waiting till she gave me the knife, then I was going to drop it. I was getting mad, yeah, but I wasn’t giving up. I could’ve gotten through to her… but now…” I shook my head. “It’s probably too late.”

Rarity bowed her head, her face twisting up in shame. “O-oh… I messed everything up, didn’t I? I’m sorry, Sunset! Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to--”

“No, no, it’s fine, Rarity,” I Interrupted, waving a hand for silence. I then wrapped that hand around her shoulder and gave her a gentle squeeze. “You were watching out for me. I can’t fault you for that.”

Rarity looked up at me, and gave me a watery smile. “You say that, but I’m going to blame myself anyway. Ooooh, if I’d just waited--”

“If I was wrong, Rarity, she would’ve killed me. You did the right thing.”

“Even so…” Rarity shook her head and sighed. She deflated like a balloon as she laid against me, pressing the back of her hand to her forehead. “Why do I ruin everything on this ship?! Oh why, why, why?!”

My eyes narrowed into slits as I glared at her. “Rarity, stop being melodramatic. Please. It’s not helpful.”

She shot up immediately, her whole face turning a brilliant pink. “Sorry,” she mumbled.

Patting her once on the shoulder, I got up to my feet. “We need to dry off. Let’s go get some towels from the locker room, then we can go back to our cabins and change.” Or in my case, put on my dirty clothes from yesterday. Sigh. At least she didn’t mess up my shoes.

As we left the pool, my mind churned. I still hadn’t processed yet what Adagio said, that she hated me. A part of me didn’t want to process it. The part of my heart that loved her had dove under the covers, hiding like a scared child in bed. The rest of me was frantically planning, like a whole board meeting taking place in my brain, trying to figure out what to do next. It’s probably too late to make amends. Adagio’s lost control of her senses. And I can’t blame her. This is exactly what Monoponi wanted, after all. I’m not going to be able to get through to her.

So what do I do? Do I give up on her? I don’t want to! I love her, damn it. That means something. That matters. I’m not going to give up on her.

But if she’s given up on me… what is she going to do?

Memories of the day I befriended Trixie flashed through my mind. Even then, Adagio had threatened my life. She intended to murder to escape if she didn’t get an answer she liked.

Would she do that now? The part of me that loved her said no, she wouldn’t, couldn’t be that stupid. Every time someone tried, they failed. They paid the price.

But she’s lost it. She’s heartbroken, she’s furious as all hell, her judgement is obviously compromised.

Oh my god. She’s probably going to kill me. She knows I’d figure it out if she killed anyone else.

I’ll have to be careful. If I leave my room, I have to be with someone else. I can’t leave myself alone unless my door is locked.

Fear filled my whole being as I contemplated what I’d have to do. God. I don’t want to think about this. I don’t want to be this afraid of her. I still love her. I still want to forgive her.

I just have to be careful for a few days. Give her a few days, let her cool off, and try again, this time without interference. It’s worth a shot.

I hope.

Author's Note:

That didn't go well.

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