• Published 5th Feb 2021
  • 865 Views, 24 Comments

Hostile History - Jest



Sunset Shimmer's is happy for the first time in a long time. She's accepted, has wonderful friends, and a life many would envy. Or is it all an illusion forced upon her by the very people she trusted? Only time will tell.

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Chapter 22

“So why are we at the town library again?” Rainbow Dash asked, the girl flicking through a book without reading a word contained within.

“Were tryin to find out stuff about this mysterious Perfect fella,” Applejack remarked without looking up from her own book.

“And why can't we just nab one of his henchmen and make them talk the old fashioned way?” Rainbow Dash pressed.

“We can't just beat up some random person Dashy, that's mean,” Pinkie Pie pointed out, the girl sitting nearby and inspecting a newspaper.

“Oh come on. They are totally bad guys. Nobody that okay with killing a ton of people is good,” Rainbow Dash whined.

“They did save us without asking for anything in return. That doesn't seem very evil to me,” Rarity exclaimed, glancing briefly up from the magazine she was reading.

“They didn't ask anything of us. That's true, but what about Sunset huh?” Rainbow Dash retorted, jabbing a finger at the other girl.

“We don't know what he's after, which is why we are here,” Twilight began, the girl glancing away from the dozen tomes open before her. “If Perfect Tempo has been around for even a quarter of the amount of time that he claims to have, then he will have left a trail.”

“Which we can follow to the truth,” Applejack stated. “And sit your chair back down before you crack your head open.”

Rainbow Dash sighed, and stopped tipping her chair, causing it to audibly thump against the carpeted floor of the library. Few other patrons were around to hear such a sound, and none glanced in the small groups direction, too occupied by their own work. Much like the six girls who had grabbed more then two dozen books and occupied one of the long tables at the center of the library.

“What are we looking for anyway?” Rainbow Dash asked. “There are like two thousand pages in this thing.”

“We are looking for any reference to Perfect Tempo or his little group throughout history,” Twilight explained. “If they’ve managed to accrue this much power then they have had to have been involved in some historical events.”

“Look for pictures and try to find anyone who looks like our dear Perfect or any part of his little entourage,” Rarity added.

“I can read you know,” Rainbow Dash muttered.

The fashionista rolled her eyes. “I know you can darling but a painting of a historical event may be the only way we are going to see this mystery man.”

“He's probably changed his name dozens of times over the years,” Fluttershy added.

Rainbow Dash sighed, and began to flick through her book. “Fine, but I’m going on record to say that this is a dumb idea.”

“Your dissatisfaction is noted,” Twilight remarked. “Now would you please get back to work? The library closes in a few hours and I want to get a lead before we have to go back to school tomorrow.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m on it,” Rainbow Dash muttered.

The athlete began to flick through her book of civil war era history at a relatively quick pace, her gaze fixing primarily on the pictures. Beside her Applejack did the same, occasionally glancing over at Rainbow Dash in order to better study one of the images. Between the two of them they covered a fair number of tomes, though as the minutes slipped past the pair grew increasingly frustrated.

Next to them huddled Rarity and Fluttershy, the dou pouring through dozens of magazines, and newspapers both new as well as old. The era they covered was mostly recent, from about the time of the first true cameras and modern print media. Though they had much more pictures and bits of information to sift through, the pair didn't make it any further then the others.

Twilight by contrast sat alone, crushing multi thousand page books in minutes and going through a large stack of tomes. Her self assigned time period had very few images to reference, meaning she had to skim through hundreds of thousands of words. The expert studier didn't mind though, and quietly worked her way through decade after decade without complaint.

Pinkie Pie flitted from one group to another, helping whenever possible and ferrying books when a stack had been finished. With Twilight needing so little assistance, the bouncy girl was left to shift between the others, doing her best to keep things running smoothly. It was a surprisingly simple as well as effective system, and as time passed they made a considerable amount of headway.

Even as the return piles grew higher, no one seemed to find anything significant and without a lead their morale began to plummet. There was just so much history, so many events, and so many things to look over that it felt to the girls like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Then something curious happened.

“Hey does that look like Perfect to you?” whispered Rainbow Dash, who pointed to an image of a painting depicting a bunch of victorious confederate soldiers climbing a hill.

Applejack placed her book down and glanced over at the random background soldier Rainbow Dash was pointing to. “It kinda does,” she admitted. “He's the only one that doesn't look some variation of terrified or exuberant.”

“Exuberant, really?” Rainbow Dash deadpanned.

“What? I’ve been trying to broaden my vocabulary,” Applejack retorted.

“Whatever, hey Twilight. I think we found something,” Rainbow Dash called.

“Oh thank goodness. I think I was about to get a migraine from all this small print,” Rarity muttered, massaging her temples.

Fluttershy stood up and placed her hands on the other girl’s shoulders. “Would you like a neck rub?”

“Oh you don't have to do that,” Rarity exclaimed.

“I insist,” Fluttershy pressed.

Rarity hummed. “Well if you wouldn't mind.”

“Not at all,” Fluttershy replied.

Twilight extended a hand towards the athlete. “Can I see?”

Rainbow Dash pushed the book across the table. “He's on the left, really far back.”

Twilight nodded, and pulled open the tome to find that was indeed true. “Wow it really does look like him. They even got his eye color right.”

“Thats funny,” Pinkie Pie murmured, glancing over Twilight’s shoulder. “And not like funny ha ha either.”

“What are you talking about?” Twilight questioned.

Pinkie Pie pointed at the book. “I found that same one earlier but it didn't have the same picture in it.”

“I knew this one looked similar,” Rainbow Dash muttered, turning and glaring at Applejack. “And you said I was crazy.”

The farmer rolled her eyes. “I said y'all were getting stir crazy. Which I am still right about.”

Twilight cleared her throat. “Pinkie Pie could you get the other copy of this book?”

“Okie dokie!” declared the party girl before disappearing.

“Mm, that's the spot,” Rarity moaned.

Fluttershy smiled. “So Twilight. What do you think this means?”

Twilight hummed, while scratching her chin. “I’m not sure. It might be an error, but that doesn't seem very likely.”

“What if he saw his picture and then killed the guy who put it in there in order to cover his tracks,” Rainbow Dash offered.

“Now don't go jumpin to conclusions,” Applejack reprimanded. “We don't know what happened here.”

“This Perfect fellow might have made a few enemies along the way you know. They might have inserted him into such an image out of spite,” Rarity muttered.

“That's true, but- oh Pinkie Pie’s back,” Twilight muttered.

“Yup and I was right. He's totally not in this one, see?” Pinkie Pie declared, opening the book wide for everyone to see.

“Huh,” Twilight muttered, comparing the two images beside one another. “He's been edited out of this one.”

“Maybe he really was on the side of the confederates,” Fluttershy murmured, pausing her massage.

“Its possible he was fighting to maintain slavery, though with his powers he could have easily turned the tide,” Twilight murmured.

“Unless he feared what would happen if people found out about him. Or didn't have that much power at the time,” Applejack pointed out.

“Possible,” Twilight admitted, flicking to the last page of both books. “You were right again Pinkie Pie. The one with him in it is the first edition while the one without is the second.”

“The first is also really rare,” Rarity murmured, scrolling through her phone. “I can't find any online.”

“Plenty of first editions are rare, so what?” Rainbow Dash remarked.

“This is unusually rare for such a normal textbook,” Rarity pointed out. “It's like someone went around destroying or buying up old copies.”

“Old textbooks don't exactly have much resale value, though you are still right. This is exceptionally low,” Twilight agreed, the girl putting her own phone down.

“Well I still don't think we should be jumpin' to conclusions,” Applejack continued. “We don't have the whole story and something about this thing smells fishy to me.”

“Sorry, that might be me. I had a tuna salad sandwich for lunch,” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

Applejack blushed. “Yer fine sugarcube.”

“Regardless,” Twilight interrupted. “We have a lead.”

“Wait, where did Pinkie go?” Fluttershy whispered, looking around.

“She was just here a second ago,” Twilight muttered.

“Girls! I found something amaaazing!” Pinkie Pie called.

“Please be quiet in the library,” exclaimed the voice of a passing librarian.

Pinkie Pie winced and slowly walked back to the table, a thin, but wide book tucked under her arm. “Sorry Mrs Crabtree,” she whispered.

The older woman snorted before disappearing back into the stacks.

“What did you find,” Twilight inquired.

“I was just thinking about broadening our horizons a little and started looking around the conspiracy theory section when I came across this!” Pinkie Pie proudly declared, holding out the book in question.

“A thousand and one bizarre paintings no one can explain,” Rainbow Dash read aloud. “Oh hey I think I read that one back in middle school. It's got the one with the picture of a dragon talking to Alexander whatshisname.”

“Is it really reading if it's ninety percent pictures?” Applejack remarked with a snicker.

Rainbow Dash pouted. “It does so count.”

“May I?” Twilight inquired, extending a hand.

Pinkie Pie nodded, and offered the book. “Go ahead.”

Twilight flipped open the first page and quickly read the disclaimer placed there, one which made mention that most of the images were likely the works of practical jokers. It tried to upsell the possibility that they were real while adding an air of mystery to the whole thing but to Twilight it fell rather flat. Her growing disillusionment with the book vanished the second she came across the image Rainbow Dash had mentioned.

“It looks exactly like the dragon Sunset Shimmer mentioned,” Twilight muttered, turning the book around.

“That's Alexander Hamilton alright, but are you sure that's the dragon she talked about? I thought they were smaller back in Equestria,” Applejack remarked.

“No this is definitely it,” Twilight pressed.

“He's quite scary, yet the man seems so relaxed around him,” Fluttershy pointed out.

It seemed like the pair were long time friends, with the human sitting at the forefront with a newspaper in his lap. While the dragon sat across the table, a grin on his face and a teacup held with a single massive finger. Between them sat a table covered by a red cloth, upon which lay a tea set as well as a loaf of bread.

“Could it all be a coincidence?” Rarity inquired, sighing contentedly as Fluttershy pulled back her hands and sat next to her. “Thank you darling.”

“No problem Rarity,” Fluttershy replied, a small blush crossing her face.

“I don't think so. The likeness is just too perfect,” Twilight murmured, flipping past it.

“Wait,” Rainbow Dash interrupted, sticking her finger into a page. “Isn't that the Yalta Conference?”

Twilight blinked. “It looks like it but what do you… oh wow.”

Applejack leaned closer. “Is that Perfect’s wife in the corner there?”

“It looks like it,” Twilight admitted, only to blink. “Wait, since when did you know about the Yalta conference?”

Rainbow Dash crossed her arms over her chest. “I like documentaries you know. Just not the boring ones about like how to make coffee or whatever.”

“So just the ones about war then?” Applejack teased.

“Okay mostly the ones about war but also ones about aliens!” Rainbow Dash declared.

“It doesn't look fake either,” Rarity remarked.

“How can you be sure?” Twilight pressed.

“I’ve got a keen eye for these types of things,” Rarity stated. “Why I’ve read so many fashion magazines that I could probably spot photoshop at a hundred yards.”

“So either someone went to great lengths to really paint that or it's a really really good alteration of an existing painting then,” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

“Precisely,” Rarity replied.

“Huh. I wonder if there are anymore in here,” Twilight murmured, flipping through more pages.

“Does that samurai have a cutie mark?” asked Applejack.

Twilight blinked, and looked a little closer to a rather small drawing in the corner of the page. Though not as bombastic as the rest of the images, the samurai was depicted in a traditional style reminiscent of a historical japanese illustrated book. It also had a familiar man posing dramatically with a flaming sword, a pair of harvest moons having been painted onto his armor.

“He does. I wonder if that was the Harvest Moon guy Sunset met,” Twilight murmured.

“Keep going, keep going!” Pinkie Pie encouraged.

“Right,” Twilight murmured.

“Oh look it's santa!” Pinkie Pie declared, pointing to a picture.

“That's not santa Pinkie, that's Karl Marx,” Fluttershy corrected.

“They both want to give stuff away for free though right? So what's the difference?” Pinkie Pie replied.

Fluttershy groaned. “I don't even know where to begin with that sentence.”

“Who are those other guys?” Rainbow Dash inquired.

“It looks like Friedrich Engels, Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin and… Perfect Tempo?” Twilight murmured.

“What do you think they are sitting around that table and talking about?” Applejack inquired.

“Probably the merits of communism versus anarchism,” Rarity declared. “Though they may also be discussing their favorite drinks considering how many empty bottles are littering that table sitting between them.”

“That is… strange,” Twilight murmured.

“Does it say anything about why these people keep popping up?” Fluttershy inquired.

“Not that I- wait,” Twilight’s gaze narrowed. “It does actually.”

“Read it,” Pinkie Pie encouraged.

“I am. Just give me a second,” Twilight replied, clearing her throat. “This person has been pictured throughout history, including the roswell incident and though the popular consensus is that this man is merely an egotistical prankster editing himself into historical images, it is the opinion of this researcher that he is so much more. Perhaps he is one of the first time traveling tourists going back in history to visit famous events in person. Or perhaps he is part of a shadowy cabal of immortals that have ruled the world from the shadows for centuries if not millenia. Noone knows for sure.”

“Spooky,” Applejack muttered.

“Probably that last one,” Pinkie Pie stated confidently.

“Hmm either way we have some leads,” Twilight declared.

“The publisher is in Canterlot too,” Rarity declared, turning her phone around.

“Would you look at that,” Twilight murmured, scratching her chin.

“Hey you should check if the credits were changed from first to second edition,” Rainbow Dash offered. “Maybe we can find proof that he waxed the poor fool who put his picture in the textbook.”

“Now what did I say about jumpin to conclusions?” Applejack exclaimed, hands on her hips.

“William Tell,” Twilight remarked.

“William tell me who it was?” Applejack questioned.

“He was the editor on the first one but not the second,” Twilight explained.

“See? What did I tell ya. He's probably pushing up daisies in an unmarked grave somewhere,” Rainbow Dash stated confidently.

“He actually lives about an hour away,” Fluttershy whispered.

Rainbow Dash deflated. “What now?”

“Fluttershy is right. He recently posted an ad offering his services as an editor,” Rarity continued.

“Ha, I told ya it wouldn't be so simple,” Applejack stated.

“We should go see this guy,” Rainbow Dash declared. “And find out if he's an imposter.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Though I agree that we need to find him I don't think he's some sort of spy.”

“Why not? He could totally be one of those changey things!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

“Changelings?” Fluttershy offered.

“Yeah, one of those!” Rainbow Dash stated.

“Though not an impossibility. I think it's unlikely,” Twilight pressed.

“When would you like to meet him?” Rarity asked, tapping away at her phone. “I’ve already composed an email suggesting we meet sometime soon.”

“How about this saturday?” Twilight inquired, glancing around the table.

“Yupper doodle!”

“Sure,”

“I got nothing better to do,”

“So long as I get my chores done before we go,”

“Excellent,” Twilight declared. “Saturday it is then.”

“Annnd sent,” Rarity stated, putting down her phone. “Now then, what say we go get some ice cream?”

“Ooh that does sound nice,” Fluttershy whispered.

“Maybe a brain freeze will get rid of this headache I got from all that reading,” Rainbow Dash whined.

Applejack chuckled. “Just wait till you get some fresh air in ya then you’ll be right as rain.”

“I’ll drive,” Fluttershy offered.

“No!” Twilight shouted.

The librarian appeared out of nowhere. “Please be quiet. This is your last warning.”

Twilight winced. “Sorry Mrs Crabtree.”

“Why don't we take Applejack’s truck?” Rarity offered. “It is a little less fragrant then the van used by the animal shelter.”

“Oh, okay,” Fluttershy murmured.

“Great, lets go!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed, bounding away.

Twilight hesitated before joining the rest of her friends. “We aren't going to tell Fluttershy about her driving?”

“Don't bother, it ain't worth it,” Rainbow Dash whispered.

Twilight shrugged. “If you insist.”

Author's Note:

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