• Published 4th Nov 2020
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Another Side of Friendship: Pony Tails - The Great Twixie



The continued adventures of Twilight and her new friends.

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The Ticket Master

Twilight Sparkle trotted down the halls of the royal palace with Sunset Shimmer while Spike was casually sitting in her saddlebag, noisily eating his way through a bag of apples they took from the kitchens and nonchalantly tossing the cores on the floor. Twilight paid the baby dragon no mind as she was focused on the detailed schedule floating in front of her, making a few corrections here and there. It had been several days since she had been hired as Princess Luna’s aide and the lavender mare had been doing quite well for herself (she at least lasted longer than the other jobs.)

“Looks like you’ve been making yourself at home, Twilight,” said Sunset. “Princess Luna was just telling me yesterday that she’s never felt more at ease since you started managing her day-to-day schedule. I think she actually got three hours of sleep last night – a true princess holiday.”

“It’s no problem at all, Sunset Shimmer,” said Twilight, grinning proudly. “I love putting my organizational skills to good use, especially if it helps the princess. And according to her schedule, Princess Luna should be meeting the mayors of Baltimare and Fillyddelphia for the next three hours. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy getting those two in.”

“Well, I think the princess can handle herself for now,” said Sunset. “It should be about lunchtime. All that hard work is bound to make a pony hungry.”

“I know, right?” said Spike, casually tossing an apple core that bounced off Twilight’s head, earning a sharp glare from the mare.

“Oh, puh-lease, Spike,” said Twilight, rolling her eyes. “You’ve been lounging on my back all morning while I worked.”

“Exactly,” said Spike, nodding. “You were taking so long, I missed snack time.”

And at that same moment, Spike buried his claw into the bag and pulled out a big, shiny red apple that practically sparkled in the sunlight coming through the tall windows. Twilight stomach made a big gurgling noise, to which Sunset Shimmer stared with a raised brow; Twilight chuckled sheepishly. The lavender mare was about to ask politely if he could share one of his apples when the baby dragon ate the whole thing in one bite, spraying Twilight’s mane in juices. And to add insult to injury, Spike casually tossed the apple bag, which was apparently now empty.

Spike!” Twilight complained.

“What? Did you want one?” Spike asked innocently.

Sunset Shimmer turned her head and hid her laughter behind her hoof; Twilight grumbled.

A moment later, the mares and baby dragon perked their heads when they heard sound of flapping wings getting closer. They looked ahead to see a light-blue Pegasus dressed in regal attire flying toward them and landed. The Pegasus reached into his saddlebag, pulled out a little bugle, and played a little fanfare while Twilight and Sunset exchanged awkward glances. The Pegasus put away the bugle and pulled out a scroll next, clearing his throat before he began reading aloud:

“Hear ye, hear ye. Her Grand Royal Highness, Princess Luna of Equestria, is pleased to announce the Grand Galloping Gala to be held in the magnificent capital city of Canterlot, on the 21st day of – “

“Uh, could you move it along, Fanfare?” Sunset interrupted, grinning sheepishly. “We’re kinda in a hurry to get to lunch.”

Fanfare rolled his eyes, grumbling under his breath, and rushed ahead to the end of the lengthy scroll.

“Yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda,” Fanfare mumbled. “Oh, here we go: Princess Luna cordially extends an invitation to Sunset Shimmer plus one guest.”

“The Grand Galloping Gala!” Twilight gasped delightfully, stretching a smile from ear-to-ear with her hooves to her cheeks.

“Here’s two tickets,” said Fanfare, handing Sunset two slips of shiny golden paper. “You know, I’ve never been invited to the Grand Galloping Gala before.”

“Huh, too bad,” said Sunset uninterestingly.

Fanfare smiled at Sunset Shimmer, hoping that she would get the hint, but she only returned it was a bored look. Once realizing that he wasn’t going to be invited, Fanfare frowned and flew away dejectedly.

“Sunset, you’ve been invited to the Grand Galloping Gala!” Twilight breathed cheerfully.

“Yeah, I know,” said Sunset unenthusiastically. “I’ve been going for the past three years. It’s not as great as ponies make it out to be.”

Not that great?!” Twilight yelped, jumping so fast into Sunset’s personal space, the sunny mare fell onto her back. “Are you kidding me?! The Grand Galloping Gala is only the greatest social event of the year. Not only do the richest and most influential ponies get invited, but it’s also a meeting of the greatest minds in all of Equestria. Including…Rosetta Nebula!”

“Uh…who?”

“Some star scientist that Twilight has a crush on,” explained Spike.

“She’s an astrophysicist!” Twilight snapped, making Spike fall out of her bag with a yelp. “And I don’t have a crush on her. I have a healthy respect for her. Her paper on the wavelengths of astronomical bodies affecting the flow of magic in unicorns changed my life. She is one of the most brilliant ponies in the entire world. If I had a chance to meet her just once, we could talk about all sorts of things from the secrets of the universe to the origins of magic itself. Maybe we could even discuss the Elements of Harmony, like where they came from or who created them. Can you just imagine?”

“I’m imagining it, all right,” said Spike with an exaggerated yawn. “I’m imagining a good long nap.”

“Oh, hush, you,” Twilight bopped him on the head lightly. “I’d give my entire collection of magical grimoires to go to the gala. Even that Necronomicon I found in the bargain bin at the antique shop.”

“Oh, well in that case, would you like to – “ Sunset started.

Without warning, a gray blur flew down the hall and slammed into Twilight, tossing her to the floor in a daze. It took a moment for Sunset to realize that the projectile used to knock out her friend was Grubber. The pudgy hedgehog’s eyes swirled slowly as he muttered, “I’m…o…kay….” That’s when Tempest Shadow casually walked to Sunset, and nudged her in the flank in an out-of-character friendly manner.

“Hey there, Sunset,” Tempest greeted casually. “You wouldn’t happen to be talking about the Grand Galloping Gala, would you?”

“Tempest, what’re you doing here?” asked Sunset curiously. “I thought you and Grubber would be out stealing candy from foals or something.”

“Number one: we may be thieves, but we’re not monsters,” said Tempest, frowning disapprovingly. “And number two: Grubber and I were trying to break into the royal treasury.” She turned sideways, showing off a dozen arrows sticking out of her flank; Sunset did a doubletake. “It did not go well. Anyway, I couldn’t help but overhear that you had an extra ticket for the gala.”

“Yeah,” said Sunset cautiously. “But why would you be interested in the gala? You don’t strike me as the fancy party type.”

“Oh, I don’t want to party,” Tempest chuckled amusingly. “The Princess of Love, Princess Cadence, always gets invited to the Grand Galloping Gala every year. And rumor has it, that it’s the one time of the year where she wears the fabled Ruby Heart – the biggest ruby in all of Equestria. That one jewel is worth billions of bits. And if I got my hooves on it, Grubber and I could buy our own kingdom and retire to a life of luxury.”

“So you want me to invite you to the gala so that you can steal an expensive gemstone from a princess?” said Sunset with an unimpressive look.

“Exactly,” Tempest said proudly, raising a hoof. “Now I’ll just be taking that ticket and – “

Sunset jumped back as Tempest was plowed into the wall after having Grubber thrown into her at full force. The broken-horned mare shook the daze from her eyes and tossed Grubber aside uncaringly as she crossed glares with Twilight Sparkle, her horn flaring up with magic.

“Now hold one gosh darn minute there, Tempest Shadow!” Twilight snapped. “I asked for that ticket first!”

“And your point is?” Tempest challenged.

“That I should get to be the one to go to the Grand Galloping Gala!” said Twilight. “Unlike you, I’m not planning on causing an inter-kingdom incident by fleecing the princess!”

“No, you just want to waste Sunset’s precious time by talking to a stuffy old space nerd all night,” Tempest scoffed.

“She’s an astrophysicist!” Twilight howled.

“Uh, shouldn’t you stop them?” Spike asked Sunset as the mares argued back and forth.

“I kinda wanna see where this goes,” Sunset admitted.

“I’m the one that should be going to the Grand Galloping Gala,” Twilight declared firmly. “Not only did I ask her first, but I’m also Princess Luna’s royal aide and Sunset Shimmer’s first friend. That makes me more qualified to attend the gala than you.”

“You have a fair point,” Tempest admitted nonchalantly, taking Twilight aback. “Allow me to propose a counterargument.”

Tempest tilted her head down, pointing her broken stub of a horn at Twilight’s face, and blasted the lavender mare with a burst of electricity. Twilight was shot across the hall, smacked into the wall, and slid down into a slump, covered from hoof to horn in soot.

Sunset and Spike stared with dropped jaws; they didn’t think it would escalate that quickly.

Twilight wiped her face clean with her hoof and glared across the corridor. Tempest grinned and waved her hoof in a challenging gesture. The lavender mare growled, hopping to her hooves, and blasted an energy beam of violet-colored magic that knocked Tempest off the ground. The broken-horned unicorn was tossed across the floor like a ragdoll, plopping on her belly with her entire body smoking. Tempest grimaced as she raised her head and leered at Twilight, who returned Tempest’s earlier condescending smirk with one of her own.

Tempers (and horns) were flaring. Twilight and Tempest charged their magic, snorting and dragging their hooves across the floor like a pair of angry bulls. They rushed forward with matching battle cries. Sunset and Spike held each other tight as the pair met in the middle –

BOOM!

Sunset Shimmer and Spike were launched through the tall windows following the magical explosion that erupted in the middle of the hall and plowed into the courtyard below. Luckily, they were able to land in the nice, soft grass. Sunset spat out the few blades that got in her mouth and looked back at the castle. Bursts of magic were exploding everywhere, blasting off entire sections of the palace. A broken piece of wall flew out and crashed into the ground beside Spike; the baby dragon shrieked and clung to Sunset for security.

“…Maybe we should leave them alone for a while,” said Sunset.

“Good idea,” Spike nodded in agreement.

The pair walked away slowly, pretending not to see a section of the roof get blown off.


Sunset strolled through uptown Canterlot at a leisurely pace with Spike riding on her back, despite not giving him permission. Based on the lack of deafening booms coming from the castle, Sunset could assume that Twilight and Tempest have either settled the matter, or Princess Luna settled it for them.

“So, who’re you going to give the ticket to, Sunset?” Spike asked.

“I have no idea, Spike,” said Sunset with an exasperated sigh. “If I had a choice, I’d give them both the tickets. The Grand Galloping Gala isn’t that great. But Princess Luna invited me personally, so I’m expected to show up.”

“Yeah, tough break,” said Spike.

“Hey, Spike, aren’t you going to ask to go to the Grand Galloping Gala?” Sunset asked curiously.

“No way!” said Spike, making a gagging noise. “I don't want any of that girly frilly frou-frou nonsense.”

“Heh, that’s a relief,” Sunset chuckled lightly. “At least there’s one pony I don’t have to worry about tackling me for these dumb tickets – “

The pair had unknowingly been walking past Trixie’s wagon, which had been parked outside the Canterlot library today, when the wagon door blew open and they were blasted by a fizzy geyser. Sunset and Spike were thrown to the ground, dazed and sticky, when they realized something was lying on top on them. Trixie rose to her flank, mumbled incoherently, and shook her head free of the dizziness as she glanced back at her dripping wagon.

“So that’s why Potion Nova always said never to mix mint stones with carbonated beverages,” Trixie said like she had an epiphany. “Lesson learned. Oh, hey, Sunset Shimmer. Hey, Spike.” She added when she noticed the pair below her.

“Hey, Trixie,” Sunset groaned. “Mind getting off of us?”

The blue showmare hopped up and offered a courteous hoof to Sunset Shimmer. Unfortunately, that’s when Sunset’s tickets floated to the ground and Trixie was the first to notice them.

“You dropped something, Sun – “ Trixie breathed a long, overdramatic gasp as she pointed a shaky hoof at the tickets. “Are – are those tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala?”

“Oh no,” Sunset muttered quietly.

“The Grand Galloping Gala is the greatest stage in all of Equestria!” Trixie squealed with glee. “Every magician dreams of performing at the grand Galloping Gala! A place where the kingdom’s elite will be dazzled by Trixie’s spectacular magic routine! The audience will be so impressed by Trixie’s show, ponies from the six corners of the kingdom will flock to Trixie in droves, begging her to perform for them! From Whinnyapolis and San Franciscolt, to Bitsburgh and Horsolulu! Trixie will become the most famous stage magician in all the lands!”

“Uh, Trixie…,” Sunset tried to speak, but Trixie cut her off with a life-threatening hug.

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Sunset Shimmer, for this fabulous gift!” Trixie shouted joyfully. “I know Starlight Glimmer is the Element of Generosity, but it means so much that you would give these to Trixie!”

“Um, actually…,” Sunset stammered awkwardly.

While Sunset was trying to defuse the situation, Spike grabbed the tickets off the ground. Unfortunately, who so happened to be passing by and spy the tickets in Spike’s claws than Starlight Glimmer. The lilac mare gasped, and Spike cringed inwardly for failing to hide them in time.

“Are those what I think they are?” asked Starlight hopefully.

“Uh – “ Sunset.exe has stopped working.

“Yes, yes, yes!” Trixie squealed. “Sunset Shimmer is taking Trixie to the Grand Galloping Gala!”

“The gala?” Starlight gasped. “I’ve heard about the Grand Galloping Gala ever since I was a foal in Sire’s Hollow. Ponies of great respect and renown gathering together for a night of culture and glamour. I’ve always wanted to attend just once. And it could be that’s where I’ll finally see…him.”

“Yes, him!” Trixie cheered…then blinked in confusion. “Who’s him?”

“My foalhood friend, Sunburst,” said Starlight giddily. “As a great mage, he’s bound to have been invited to the Grand Galloping Gala to share his knowledge with his peers. Isn’t that right, Sunset?”

“Well, I never met him personally,” said Sunset, tapping her muzzle thoughtfully. “But if he’s as great as you say he is, then it might be true.”

“It is,” said Starlight with a whimsical smile. “He’s going to be at the gala, where we will finally be reunited. I can just picture it now: I would stroll through the gala, making polite conversation with everypony, when I notice that a large group of ponies are gathered together. I ask myself, “What could they find so fascinating?” And when I go to look, I find that the one holding everypony’s attention is none other than Sunburst. He looks around the crowd, and then – our eyes meet. Recognition follows. He'll wade through the crowd to reach me, and he would take by the hoof and spirit me away. We will spend the night talking, laughing and reminiscing about old times. Then, Sunburst would invite me to stay by his side, and the two of us would spend the rest of our days together….”

“Sounds like the making of a romance novel,” Sunset commented.

Whaaaat! Nooo,” Starlight scoffed, though her cheeks were tingled pink. “I haven’t seen Sunburst since I was a foal. There’s no – phht – romance or anything.”

“Uh-huh,” Sunset replied in a disbelieving tone.

“Well, it doesn’t matter, because Sunset Shimmer already invited Trixie to the gala,” said Trixie proudly.

“Sunset, please tell me this isn’t true,” said Starlight, getting all up in Sunset’s face. What is it with mares invading her personal space today? “I can’t believe you would invite Trixie to the Grand Galloping Gala so she can – phht – do magic tricks. If anyone deserves to go, it’s me. Isn’t reuniting me with Sunburst a more worthwhile goal?”

“Hey! Do you know how hard Trixie has had to work to perfect her act?!” Trixie snapped, pointing a hoof at Starlight. “Not that I would expect you to know the meaning of hard work.”

Excuse me?” Starlight gasped.

“It must be sooo nice, Miss Magic Prodigy,” Trixie scoffed, turning away from Starlight with her hooves crossed. “Never actually having to put any effort into doing anything.”

“Hey, I work just as hard as any other pony!” Starlight snapped.

Sunset grimaced as she watched Trixie and Starlight exchange barbs like a dangerous game of tennis. Spike was so enraptured by the scene, he didn’t notice somepony sneaking up on him until they ripped the tickets out of his hands.

“Hey!” Spike yelped.

Moon Dancer levitated the tickets in front of her, readjusting her glasses for a better look. She gasped delightfully and said, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it.”

Meanwhile, Sunset had to physically separate Trixie and Starlight before a fight broke out.

“Listen, girls, I haven't decided who to give the extra ticket to,” Sunset explained.

“You haven’t?!” Trixie and Starlight cried; the former in dismay and the latter hopeful.

“A-hem, excuse me, Sunset,” Moon Dancer cleared her throat to get everypony’s attention. “If you haven’t decided who you were going to take to the gala, I was hoping that – “

You?” Trixie said suspiciously, pressing a hoof into Moon Dancer’s chest. “You want to go to the Grand Galloping Gala? Why?”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Moon Dancer replied with a whimsical smile. “I may not care much for fancy parties or the sophisticated atmosphere. But what I do care about is magic. As you ponies already know, I’m one of the rare few ponies with the natural affinity for Moon Magic and I want to learn everything I can about it. And there is one pony who always attends the Grand Galloping Gala that can teach me everything I need to know: Princess Luna. The princess is always so busy with her daily schedule that she never has time to talk to ponies like me. But if I go to the Gala, we could spend all night learning about Moon Magic together. It would be a dream come true.”

“Wow, Moon Dancer, I guess I never gave any thought about you wanting to learn Moon Magic since I’m a Sun Magic user myself.” Said Sunset thoughtfully. “I guess you could – “

“Whoa, whoa, wait just a minute!”

Everypony snapped their heads down the road to see Tempest and Grubber heading their way. Oddly enough, on top of her usual dark cloak, she was also wearing an orange hard hat and a toolbelt strapped around her flank; Grubber was wearing a matching set.

“Tempest?” said Sunset strangely. “What’s with the getup?”

“Princess Luna scolded Twilight and I and made us fix the castle,” Tempest explained shortly, quickly throwing off the hat and belt. “But never mind that. You can’t give any of them the ticket away to just anypony.”

As if on cue, Twilight Sparkle popped up beside Tempest in a flash of purple, also wearing a hard hat and toolbelt.

“Now wait just a minute!” she shouted, pointing an accusing hoof at Tempest.

“Twilight?!” Sunset gapped. “Have you two been following me this whole time?”

“No – I mean, yes – I mean, maybe,” Twilight sputtered. “It’s whatever. I’m just trying to make sure that Tempest doesn’t try to trick you into giving her my ticket.”

Your ticket?” said Starlight heatedly.

“Sunset Shimmer is taking Trixie!” Trixie declared loudly.

Sunset could only watch in horror as her friends started closing in from all sides, shouting at the top of their lungs as to why they deserved the ticket more. Spike had been smart enough to back away from the mares and ducked for cover behind a mailbox, but poor Sunset was caught in the middle. The sunny mare lowered herself onto the ground onto her belly, her hooves pressing down on her ears to block out the noise. But she could still hear their shouts rattling around in her brain. Anxiety gave way to irritation; Sunset’s entire form trembling with building frustration until she finally exploded.

EVERYPONY SHUT UP!!!

The wielders of the Elements jumped away in a fright, gazing wide-eyed at Sunset as she heaved roughly, her eyes bulging and her mane disheveled.

“Geez, Sunset Shimmer, you don’t have to be so rude,” Trixie commented.

Sunset took a deep breath through her nose, exhaled through her mouth, brushed down her mane, and said, “Listen, girls, there’s no point in arguing over it.”

“But Sunset – “ Starlight started to complain.

“Nyet!” Sunset snapped, flailing a hoof over Starlight’s mouth. “This is my decision, and I'm gonna make it on my own, and I certainly can't think straight with all this noise. So please, do me a favor, and leave me alone!

The mares were obviously displeased with this decision, but any further arguing would hurt their chance for the ticket. The carriers of the Elements walked away slowly, grumbling under their breaths while shooting stink eyes at their opposition.

Seeing that the situation had defused, Spike walked out from his hiding place and asked Sunset, “So what’re you going to do?”

“I DON’T KNOW!” Sunset cried, flailing to the ground with her hooves over her eyes.


Cinnamon Chai's Tea and Cake Shop was a refuge for Sunset Shimmer during her most stressful days as Princess Luna’s apprentice, and now it had become a safe haven from her friends. She was sitting at her usual reserved table outside across from Spike, who was more absorbed by the menu options rather than the mare slumped over the table.

“Ugh, what am I gonna do, Spike?” Sunset groaned. “I have four ponies who have really good reason for wanting to go to the gala – and Tempest, who's very scary when she’s mad. Do I take Twilight and help her meet her idol? Or let Trixie fulfill dream of performing? Or should I let Starlight reunite with her foalhood friend? But then there’s Moon Dancer, who really wants to learn from Princess Luna…. Oh, who should I go with?”

The shop’s waitstaff walked up to their table and asked politely, “Have you made your decision?”

I CAN’T DECIDE!” Sunset screamed outrageously, drawing the eye of every pony on the street.

“Uh, Sunset, he just wants to take your order,” Spike said calmly.

“Oh,” said Sunset in realization, smiling sheepishly. “I’ll have the usual black forest cherry set with jasmine.”

“Do you have anything with gems in it?” Spike asked, earning a quirked brow from the waiter. “No? All right, I’ll have the strawberry shortcake with extra strawberries.”

“So what do you think, Spike?” Sunset asked the baby dragon desperately as the waiter cantered back inside.

“I think we oughta try another place,” Spike complained. “I mean, I love cake as much as the next dragon, but would it hurt anypony to offer some gemstones.”

“Not that!” Sunset snapped, slamming her hoofs on the table in emphasis. “I’m talking about the gala and the ticket and who I should go with.”

“Oh, you’re still on about that?” Spike rolled his eyes with a bored hum.

“You know, the more time I spend with you, the less I like you,” said Sunset bluntly.

“That’s fair,” Spike shrugged nonchalantly.

“Can we be serious for a moment?” Sunset groaned. “Just for a minute, please? How am I supposed to choose between my best (and so far only) friends in the whole world? No matter who I choose, the other four are still going to be mad at me. I don’t want to disappoint Twilight, Starlight, or Moon Dancer, and I’m afraid Trixie will try to sneak in anyway, and I’m just plain afraid of Tempest. How do I – “

“Your food, Madame,” said the waiter, who sounded strikingly different than before.

“Oh, thank you so – wait, what?” Sunset blinked. Her usual order of jasmine tea had arrived just fine, but it was surrounded by not only her slice of black forest cherry cake, but also slices of carrot cake, poundcake, vanilla cake, coconut cake, and at least a dozen others. “Er…excuse me, but I didn’t order – Tempest?”

The sunny mare looked up and saw the familiar scar and broken horn of Tempest Shadow, who had slicked back her mane and put on the fancy uniform the waitstaff was wearing. If Sunset wasn’t still reeling from the strangeness of the scene, she would have thought, in her honest opinion, that Tempest looked quite dashing.

“Would the Madame care for anything else?” Tempest asked in a smooth accent that would make anypony swoon.

“Uh, Tempest, what’re you doing?” Sunset asked strangely, fighting back the pleasant shiver that rolled up her spine. Since when was Tempest so suave? “What happened to the other waiter?”

“Oh, he got a little…tied up,” said Tempest. “And I thought it would be wrong for the most beautiful, most elegant, and most generous pony to have to wait for so long to receive her sweets. So I decided to fill in for the moment, and I threw in a little something extra. You know, because I’m nice like that.”

“…the waiter’s tied up in the broom closet, isn’t he?” asked Sunset blandly.

“You can’t prove anything,” Tempest said quickly.

“Tempest,” Sunset spoke in a suspicious tone, “you wouldn’t happen to be acting uncharacteristically nice so you can get your hoof on the extra ticket, would you?”

“Whaaaat?” Tempest said, pretending to be shocked. “No, no, of course not. I’m just being nice is all.”

“Since when are you nice to anypony?” Sunset asked point-blank.

Tempest opened her mouth, paused, then muttered under her breath, “Yeah, okay, you have a point there.”

“I am not going to be bribed into giving you my extra ticket, Tempest,” Sunset declared with her chin held high. “So you can just forget it.”

In retrospect, Sunset wished she would have at least taken a bite of her cake before she said anything. Tempest was not at all pleased with her answer and bucked the table over, splattering the cakes and tea all over the street. Spike let out a disappointed whine while Tempest walked away with a huff, shouting inside the café, “Grubber, we’re leaving!” And the pudgy hedgehog waddled out of the café a moment later, dressed in a chef’s outfit for some reason.

Sunset buried her face in her hooves, groaning. Her private sanctuary – defiled. Her cake and tea – ruined. Her overall day – getting worse by the second. What could possibly make this day worse?

“Oh, Sunset, I didn’t know you would be here!”

Sunset dragged her hooves down her face with a grimace. She craned her head slowly, unsurprised to see Starlight Glimmer standing a few feet away, levitating a bunch of kites beside her.

“What a funny coincidence running into you here,” said Starlight delightfully.

“Yeah, coincidence,” said Sunset with an unimpressed stare.

“I was just about to go fly some kites and I just happen to have some extra,” said Starlight, gesturing at the items. “Would you like to join me?”

“Hmm…,” Sunset hummed, thinking for a moment. “Well…that does actually sound kind of relaxing…. Sure, why not?”

“Great!” Starlight cheered. “I know the perfect spot!”


Sunset had to admit, this wasn’t so bad. Standing in the plains just outside Princess Luna’s palace, watching as their kites gently swayed in the breeze. Sunset had never taken the time to appreciate how calming such a simple hobby could be in between her lessons and the various royal duties she attended to on her mentor’s behalf. She was starting to understand why Starlight was so appreciative (read: obsessed) of the little things.

Sunset hummed a soft little tune under her breath as she gave her sun-themed (gee, what a coincidence, right?) kite a little tug to straighten it out. Starlight stood in place, moving her star-patterned kite around with the slightest touch like a practiced pro, making it dance merrily across the clouds. Spike’s kite, on the other hoof, never left the ground because the baby dragon got bored and decided to take a nap on his back.

“Thanks for inviting me out here, Starlight,” Sunset said gratefully. “I could use a de-stresser after the insane day I’ve been having.”

“Oh no, no need to thank me, Sunset,” said Starlight, flashing a wide (read: disturbing) pearly-white smile. “After all, we are the best of friends, right? I couldn’t think of anyone better to share this moment with, right, bestie?”

“Er, I guess?” Sunset answered uncertainly.

“And you know who else liked to fly kites?” said Starlight. She didn’t give Sunset a chance to respond before she answered, “Sunburst.”

“Is that right…?” Sunset muttered awkwardly.

“Oh, sure, we used to fly kites all the time when we were foals,” said Starlight. “Well, maybe not all the time, but that’s because there was so much we would always do together. Studying magic, playing our favorite board game, sneaking sweets from Mrs. Baker’s store. You know, silly foal things.”

“Uh-huh…”

“Yeah, you know, before Sunburst found his Cutie Mark and was shipped off to Princess Luna’s School for Gifted Unicorns, never to return. I mean, I wasn’t all bad, growing up all alone without my best friend around, becoming bitter and resentful towards Cutie Marks and ponies in general. But I turned out fine in the end – “

“I can see where this is going,” said Sunset, frowning.

“Still, it would be nice to see Sunburst again, at least once,” Starlight continued with a dramatic sigh. “I wonder if I’ll ever find him again. I mean, surely he’ll be at the Grand Galloping Gala, being the amazing mage that he is, but I have no way of attending myself. If only I had a kind, wonderful, generous friend who could help me find a way to reunite with my long lost foalhood friend.”

“Please, for the love of Luna, just stop,” Sunset groaned, rubbing her hoof between her eyes. “Trixie’s the theatrical one – your performance is just too painful to watch.”

“I have no idea what you could possibly mean,” said Starlight, acting dumb.

“Oh please, you’re as transparent as glass,” said Sunset. “You brought me out here so you could tell me stories about you and Sunburst to guilt trip me into giving you the extra ticket. Well, it’s not gonna happen, marefriend. You're going to have to wait for my decision just like everypony else.” She levitated the sleeping Spike onto her back and walked away grumpily. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I just want to get some peace and quiet!

“Oh my, Sunset, is that you?”

“Oh no, not another one,” Sunset moaned tiredly.

Quick as a whip, Sunset was pulled sharply to the side by the hoof, sending Spike flying off with a surprised yelp. The sunny mare flopped onto the grass when she looked up and saw herself surrounded by what could only be described as the Great Wall of Literature. Books of every size and color cornered her from all sides, though judging by the titles, they all had a common astrology theme. Didn’t take a genius to figure out who made this.

“Sunset Shimmer, I’m so glad you could come,” said Twilight, leaning in close with a wide smile.

“Not like you gave me a choice,” Sunset grumbled.

“Did you know that Rosetta Nebula was the first pony to identify and catalogue all the stars in the night sky?” said Twilight, flipping open a random book.

“Twilight – “

“And that she was personally hoofed-picked to lead the Equestrian Space Program by Princess Luna herself.”

“Twilight – “

“Just think: one day ponies could be soaring off to other planets, discovering new and exotic species like the fabled ‘hoo-mans’ from the distant planet of ‘Ear-arth’. Doesn’t that sound exciting, Sunset?”

TWILIGHT!” Sunset roared, creating a tremor so powerful it knocked over Twilight’s book wall. The Lavender blinked surprisingly. “I know what you’re trying to do, Twilight, and it isn’t going to work. I don't know who I'm giving the ticket to, and all this pressure isn’t making it any easier to decide. In fact, I'm less even sure now than I was this morning! Ugh!”

Sunset stomped away, seething. Spike looked between the frustrated Sunset and the bewildered Twilight before chasing after the sunny mare.

“So…that’s a maybe?!” Twilight called.


Sunset dragged her hooves exhaustedly through the halls of the royal palace, trudging in the direction of her bedroom. Spike walked alongside her, looking deeply concerned for her well-being.

“Are you gonna be all right?” Spike asked worried.

“I don’t even know at this point,” Sunset bemoaned. “I never had to deal with this kind of pressure before I had friends. I’m starting to think I should’ve just let Daybreaker burn everything. ‘Least then I wouldn’t have to deal with this gala business.”

Sunset’s door was at the end of the long corridor, marked with the shimmering sun like the one on her flank. Much too tired to use her hooves, Sunset grasped the handle with her horn and pushed it open.

Her living quarters were fairly modest giving her position as Princess Luna’s student. A four-poster bed with orange curtains with her Cutie Mark emblazed on the headboard, a polished writing desk where she kept her personal journal, and an entire wall filled with books on magic for her daily lessons. Though she added a few personal effects with strings of fairy lights hanging across the ceiling, a comfortable set of couches around a slightly chipped coffee table, and her personal favorite: her collection of electric guitars hanging on the wall. Yeah, Sunset was a hardcore rocker pony.

And you know what else was there?

“Moon Dancer?” said Sunset, aghast. “What’re you doing in my room?”

The bespectacled unicorn had been taken a feather duster to Sunset’s electric guitars when the sunny mare called her out. She turned and greeted Sunset with a friendly smile and wave.

“Oh, hello, Sunset,” said Moon Dancer courteously. “Welcome back. I hope you don’t mind, but I was doing a little spring cleaning for you.”

“It’s the middle of summer,” Sunset retorted with a blank stare.

“Oh,” said Moon Dancer, as if just realizing her error. “Er, well, better late than never, I always say.”

“You’re trying to butter me up so you can get the extra ticket, aren’t you?” Sunset asked grumpily.

“Oh no, of course not!” Moon Dancer denied, throwing a friendly hoof over Sunset’s shoulders. “I’m just doing this because you’re my very best friend, who also happens to be the personal student of Princess Luna, the only pony in all of Equestria who knows Moon Magic…. I probably should’ve stopped talking before I said that part, huh?”

“Not like it would’ve helped you,” Sunset admitted. “Well, this was all very nice of you, but doing me special favors isn’t going to convince me to give you the ticket,” she padded over to the door, opening it for Moon Dancer, “so I’m going to have to ask you to leave – “

BOOM!

Sunset jumped over a foot in the air as a loud smoke bomb exploded at the threshold. She fell into Spike’s arms, but the baby dragon could not support her weight and toppled over. Sunset groaned and rubbed her forehead as Trixie appeared through the door with a flourish of her cape.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie has arrived!” Trixie declared in her typical theatrical voice. “And Trixie has a spectacular proposal that you would be foolish to pass up, Sunset Shimmer!” She reached into her cape, pausing for dramatic effect, then whipped out…another cape and hat like hers, only colored red instead of purple. “Behold!”

“Um…what am I beholding?” Sunset asked awkwardly.

“Your matching costume, of course,” Trixie explained gleefully. “For when you perform on stage as Trixie’s Great and Powerful assistant!”

“Assistant?” Sunset parroted, dumbfounded. “Your idea to convince me into giving you the ticket is to make me your assistant?”

“Well, of course, Trixie’s going to be the star,” said Trixie like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “But you should be honored to be sharing the same stage as the Great and Powerful Trixie.”

“Ugh, unbelievable,” Sunset moaned, facehoofing. “At least the other ponies tried to be subtle about the ticket.”

“Trixie doesn’t do anything subtle,” Trixie scoffed.

“Well, neither do I!” Sunset growled.

Sunset’s horn ignited with magic as she forcefully levitated Trixie and Moon Dancer, unceremoniously tossing them out of her room. The echoing crash of metal told her that they had smashed into one of the suits of armor that decorated the corridors, but Sunset couldn’t bring herself to care. She slammed the door and jumped into her bed, screaming into her pillow while kicking her hooves. She stopped after a few seconds and went prone, but Spike could hear the muffled sound of sobbing.

“Sunset...you okay?” Spike asked, approaching the bed in concern.

“I don’t know what to do, Spike,” Sunset moaned as she flipped over, sniffling and wiping her eyes. “No matter who I choose, somepony is going to be mad at me. My first friends ever and I could end up losing them already.”

“Well, you know what I think?” Spike said with a determined look in his eye. “I think you should just choose – right here, right now. Forget about what they want and think about what you want.”

“But my friends – “

“If they’re really your friends, they’ll understand,” said Spike, seating himself on the edge of the bed. “Somepony’s going to get hurt – there’s no avoiding that. But if you keep putting it off, the only pony getting hurt is you. You need to rip the bandage off, for yourself and your friends.”

Sunset pondered on the baby dragon’s words for a moment, took a deep breath, and nodded to herself.

“You’re right, Spike, I’m done putting this off,” said Sunset, sitting up. She smiled at Spike appreciatively and patted him on the head. “You know, you’re a lot wiser than you let on.”

“I’m not just a pretty face,” said Spike jokingly, making Sunset chuckle.

The sunny mare hopped off her bed and walked to the center of the room. She lit up her horn, visibly straining from the amount of magic she was drawing, but successfully made five flashes of light explode around her. All five of her friends suddenly appeared in the room, visibly confused.

“Well, that was weird,” Tempest commented.

“All right, everypony, listen up!” Sunset shouted firmly. “I know you’ve all been wondering who I’m taking to the Grand Galloping Gala – QUIET!” She snapped when the others started to speak up, silencing them. “I’ve thought long and hard about this and I decided the one I’m taking with me to the gala is…Spike.”

SPIKE?!” The mares cried in unison.

“Really? Sweet!” Spike cheered, but caught himself and tried to act nonchalant. “I mean, whatever.”

“But Sunset – “

“No! No!” Sunset yelled angrily. “I choose Spike because he’s the only one who hasn’t been pressuring me all day! Do you know how hard this has been for me?! You five are the first friends I’ve ever had, and all I ever wanted to do was make you happy! But you’ve been pushing me over and over about giving you the ticket! I know the gala is important to all of you and I can’t stand to disappoint you, but I can’t keep doing this! I can’t! It’s too hard!”

Sunset sniffled and hiccupped uncontrollably as tears streamed down her face. The other mares looked guilty, as they rightful should.

“Sunset,” Twilight said softly, brushing Sunset's mane tenderly, “I didn’t mean to put so much pressure on you. And if it helps, I think you made the right decision by choosing Spike. He’s the best friend a pony could ask for,” she smiled at the baby dragon, making him blush.

“Me too,” said Moon Dancer, giving Sunset a side hug. “I feel terrible for making you feel like you’re obligated to make us happy. I’ll find another opportunity to talk to Princess Luna, so don’t worry about it.”

“The Regretful and Apologetic Trixie also agrees,” Trixie added. “Trixie will perform at the Grand Galloping Gala one day, but it will be because Trixie earned it.”

“And who knows if Sunburst is even at the gala?” Starlight commented. “It was a long shot anyway. I don’t need to go to. Spike deserves the ticket. He was the only real friend among us.”

“And I don’t need some priceless jewel anyway,” said Tempest, smirking. “Now that I think about it, running my own kingdom sounds like too much work. I think I’ll just stick to being a thief.”

“We all got so excited about going to the gala,” said Twilight repentantly, “that we couldn’t see how miserable we were making you.”

“We’re sorry, Sunset,” the mares apologized together, hanging their heads.

Sunset sniffled, but managed to put on a grateful smile as she wiped away the last tear.

“Thanks, girls,” said Sunset. “I just wish there was some way we could all go to the gala.”

And just like every other conveniently timed event today, a sharp knock came from Sunset’s door. The sunny mare blinked curiously and pulled the handle with her horn. Fanfare staggered into the bedchamber, looking haggard and out of breath that he couldn’t bring himself to play more than three notes on his bugle before giving up. The pegasus grumbled as he pulled out another scroll with his wings and started to read aloud:

“Hear ye, hear ye. Her Grand Royal Highness, Princess Luna of Equestria – blah, blah, blah. Yada, yada, yada – Ugh, look.” He dropped the scroll with a grumpy frown. “I’ve been flying around all day delivering these, so just take them.”

He reached into his saddlebag and uncaringly tossed several slips into the air. Twilight caught them with her magic and brought them down in front of everypony, making them gasp when they saw what they were.

“Tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala!” Moon Dancer cheered. “Now we can all go!”

“That was a conveniently timed plot device,” Trixie commented.

“Wait,” Twilight said strangely, pointing at Fanfare. “If I already had a ticket to the gala, why didn’t you just give it to me when I was with Sunset?”

“Hey, get off my flank already,” Fanfare replied rudely, slamming Sunset’s door behind him.

“Well, bad logic aside,” Sunset smiled. “Looks like we’re all going to the gala together.”

“Yes, indeed!” shouted Trixie theatrically. “And to celebrate-slash-apologize, everypony is invited to Trixie’s wagon for Trixie’s special fizzy fruit potions!”

Everypony cheered and skipped happily out the door, except for Sunset, who lagged behind everypony else to wait for Spike. The baby dragon nudged Sunset’s flank and said, “Looks like everything worked out in the end.”

“Guess so,” said Sunset. “Thanks for giving a push. I really needed it.”

“No problem,” said Spike proudly. “Now come on, before they take all the cherry potions.”

Sunset laughed as she cantered after the excited baby dragon.

Author's Note:

It does seem like a recap of the original show, and that's to be expected, but I wanted to emphasize the pressure that Sunset was feeling about having to choose between the first friends she's ever had in her life. Plus, Spike get's to have a shining moment for a change.

I had a particularly hard time thinking about a reason why Moon Dancer would want to go to the gala that didn't involve Twilight. Then I remembered I made her capable of rare Moon Magic and Luna was the only other pony who knows that type, and it all fell into place from there.

Next time: Princess Luna has a day off for the first time in a thousand years. But what is the ruler of Equestria to do...when she has nothing to do?