• Published 5th Feb 2021
  • 1,662 Views, 79 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 33

Sunset Shimmer hummed a half remembered melody to herself as she hefted her signature leather jacket over her shoulders and eyed herself in the mirror. Studying her features closely, she noticed that her shoulders were slightly broader, and her muscles more well defined. The coat also felt tighter than usual, as did her pants, though she couldn't quite tell why at first.

“Am I taller?” she muttered to herself.

Glancing down at the inch of ankle revealed by her jeans seemed to reinforce this idea.

“Huh. Neat. Hopefully this doesn't continue. I don't want to have to get a whole new wardrobe,” Sunset remarked.

With a shrug, she walked out of the spacious closet and back into her bedroom. Checking up on her favorite little gecko didn't take long, and though adorable, she didn't remove him from his tank.

“I’ll be back to play with you soon,” she whispered, a finger caressing the top of his slightly slimy head.

The animal blinked slowly, leaning into the touch for as long as it lasted.

Now with a smile on her face, Sunset walked out and into the hall, where she heard the distant sound of gunfire. A sound which usually would have set her on edge, had she not known that it was coming from the T.V. Produced by some video game that she couldn't recall the name of, Sunset assumed that Applejack and Rainbow Dash were at it again.

The sound of excited shouting accompanied by a loud, annoyed groan seemed to confirm this.

Sunset laughed to herself as she walked down the hall, pausing when she neared one of the bathrooms and heard a familiar tune. Though Sunset Shimmer knew she had heard the song somewhere, she didn't know what it was called, only that it was the kind of pop Rarity and Fluttershy enjoyed. The former pony peeked around the corner to the bathroom and gazed in to find two of her friends were both staring at the mirror.

“And if we just add a little more lift to your eyelashes they would really make the entire look pop,” Rarity exclaimed, a tiny spoolie brush held in her right hand.

“If you think that would help,” Fluttershy muttered.

Sunset raised an eyebrow, her gaze traveling up and down the usually nervous young woman standing in front of the sink. More specificly Sunset looked at all of the makeup that had been applied to her face, including a decent amount of mascara. It didn't look clownish though, merely obvious in a way that gave Fluttershy an almost ethereal, otherworldly aura about her.

“Interesting combination. Not sure I would have gone with such large wings around the eyes though,” Sunset remarked.

Rarity yelped in shock and nearly poked Fluttershy in the eye. “Goodness me Sunset. You nearly scared me half to death.”

“Sorry Fluttershy, Rarity,” Sunset quickly apologized.

“It's okay,” Fluttershy replied, flashing the ex pony a wide smile. “And I think it looks lovely.”

“Thank you darling,” Rarity exclaimed, squeezing the other girl’s shoulders appreciatively.

“What's the occasion?” Sunset asked.

“Well I figured that since I wasn't going to be going off to fashion school that I would still require a model if I were to succeed,” Rarity began, flashing Fluttershy a wide smile. “Which is where this absolute angel came in.”

Fluttershy blushed and looked away. “Oh it's nothing. I’m so bad with makeup that I thought it would make for a good trade.”

“Oh you are too hard on yourself darling. I notice all those subtle touches you do around your eyes and mouth. Masterful work, I must say,” Rarity pressed.

“T-thanks,” Fluttershy muttered.

Sunset chuckled. “That's great you guys. I’m glad you could help each other out.”

“I had a feeling as though this would be mutually beneficial,” Rarity declared, sweeping her arm down Fluttershy’s body. “I get a beautiful woman to model my clothes, and Fluttershy gets to see just how enchanting she can truly be.”

Sunset bit her tongue, and just barely resisted telling the two to kiss.

“That's wonderful Rarity. You both seem to be having fun, though I was wondering if you’ve seen Twilight. We are supposed to be getting ready to visit Perfect Tempo and get some more information on Foxtrot as well as his mysterious benefactor,” Sunset explained.

“Oh um no. We haven't seen her in a while,” Fluttershy murmured.

“Not since just after lunch I’m afraid,” Rarity added, absentmindedly stroking Fluttershy’s hair. “A shame too. She looked rather upset.”

“Do you know what happened?” Sunset pressed.

Rarity shrugged. “I’m afraid not, darling.”

“Damn, thanks anyway,” Sunset turned to leave, only to stop herself. “Oh yeah did you guys want to come to that, by the way?”

“I cannot speak for Fluttershy but I am perfectly content right here. Besides, you will surely relay the more important information, no?” Rarity half asked, half stated.

“I will,” Sunset stated.

“Then that is more than enough for me,” Fluttershy declared.

Sunset smiled. “Thanks for trusting me so much. Or are you just trusting Twilight?”

“Don't joke about that darling,” Rarity chastised. “We all still feel terrible about what we did.”

“Y-yeah,” Fluttershy muttered.

Sunset Shimmer rolled her eyes. “Oh come on you guys. I forgave you, forgive yourselves already.”

“I will… consider it,” Rarity muttered, fingers gently running through Fluttershy’s hair.

“Thank you for the invitation anyway Sunset, stay safe,” Fluttershy exclaimed.

“I’d tell you two to do the same but I’m pretty sure you’ll be fine here,” Sunset remarked as she walked away.

Taking the first right, Sunset passed by another pair of rooms and the spiral stairs going to the second floor of the apartment. Ignoring the now semi occupied spaces, and the dozens of half open bozes inside of them, Sunset continued towards the kitchen. Where Applejack and Rainbow Dash were locked in a tense struggle for dominance in some brown shooter set in the middle east.

“Whose winning?” Sunset asked, leaning on the back of the couch and glancing expectantly at Pinkie Pie.

Who despite it being nearly four in the evening, was still wearing her panda onesie. “Applejack is, but it's close,” she replied before biting into a slice of cold, leftover pizza.

Sunset stood quietly as Applejack and Rainbow Dash fought one another in what appeared to be an airport. Applejack was sitting at the back of a plane, a pair of pistols in her character’s hands and a claymore positioned next to her. Rainbow Dash meanwhile, was sitting in the aisle further up, just out of sight of Applejack, a rifle raised and ready.

“Why don't you come out and fight? Is it because you’re a chicken?” Rainbow Dash teased.

“Why don't you come back here and fight me yourself, or are you a coward?” Applejack countered.

“I’m not the one camping!” Rainbow Dash shouted.

“You’re sitting perfectly still in that aisle doing nothing. Sure looks like you’re camping,” Applejack responded.

“That's it. You’re going down!” Rainbow Dash declared.

Sunset watched as the athlete’s character was gunned down before it could even take aim on Applejack’s prone form. It wasn't even close either, with a spray of concentrated fire cutting the poor soldier down a second after he left cover.

“Damn you and your stupid hidey hole!” Rainbow Dash bellowed angrily.

“Just use a grenade, it's not hard,” Applejack replied.

“This game is about shooting people, not blowing them up. Besides, explosives are cheap,” Rainbow Dash declared.

“You’re just mad because I can kill you from across the map with the nade launcher,” Applejack retorted, a cocky grin crossing her face.

“That's a bullshit strategy and you know it!” Rainbow Dash shouted, jabbing a finger at the other girl.

“Something tells me they aren't interested in joining me and Twilight when we go to meet Perfect Tempo,” Sunset Shimmer remarked.

“That's a safe assumption,” Pinkie Pie agreed.

“What about you?” Sunset Shimmer offered.

“Nah. That sounds boring, and I’d rather hear the coles notes version from you or Twilight,” Pinkie Pie replied, taking another bite out of her pizza.

“Speaking of Twilight, have you seen her recently? Rarity mentioned she looked upset but I’ve been so busy practicing magic that I haven't had the chance to catch up with her,” Sunset explained.

Pinkie Pie shrugged. “Nah. Last I saw her she was talking on the phone with Timber in her room.”

Sunset winced. “Did it seem like a good conversation?”

Pinkie Pie raised an eyebrow. “What do you think?”

Sunset’s response was cut off by a shout of anger.

“Aww come on, I flash banged you and everything! How did you hit me?” Rainbow Dash yelled.

“Yer too predictable,” Applejack began. “You flash then walk out a second later so all I gotta do is wait a moment, and spray where you were just standing.”

Rainbow Dash ground her teeth together. “Whatever. I’ll get you next time.”

“You’ll try,” Applejack replied.

“Did Twilight and Timber break up?” Sunset Shimmer asked, the girl doing her best not to make it seem as though she was being a bit hopeful.

Pinkie Pie shrugged. “Dunno. Twi seemed embarrassed and sad, but they werent yelling or nothing.”

“That's… good,” Sunset murmured. “Well I better keep look-”

Pinkie Pie’s eyes snapped open as a flurry of strange twitches suddenly overcame her body. “She's downstairs. Talking to Timber right now.”

“What, how do you know that?” Sunset demanded.

“I just do, now go!” Pinkie Pie commanded, shoving Sunset towards the door.

“Would you stop pushing me? I’m not going to go down there and interrupt them. Clearly this is private,” Sunset retorted.

“I got a good feeling about this, just trust me and go see her,” Pinkie Pie pressed.

Sunset sighed as she was roughly deposited in front of the exit to her apartment. “Fine, but I’m just going to sit in the lounge while I wait for them to finish talking,” Sunset stated.

“Yeah sure whatever, now go!” Pinkie Pie declared, pushing Sunset out into the hall.

Sunset Shimmer sighed as the door closed on her face, and wondered if she should even go along with Pinkie Pie’s scheme. Regardless of the other girl’s intentions, Sunset Shimmer knew there was a chance that things wouldnt turn out well. If they broke up, Sunset Shimmer thought to herself, the former pony could swoop in and provide a shoulder for Twilight to cry on.

The girl quickly shook her head and dismissed that thought though, trying her best not to bring an ulterior motive into the mix. This was a difficult process, though one that she had time to ruminate on as she walked over to the elevator and rode it down.

The faint orchestral music that played while she waited helped calm Sunset’s nerves somewhat. She still wasn't quite certain of her resolve when she reached the main floor however, but she was determined to stay focused.

Remember, focus on just being a good friend. Sunset told herself.

The ding of the doors heralded the arrival of a mostly empty room occupied only by a handful of employees. Other residents were sparse, and the few who remained in the area kept their distance from the entrance. Why they did this became obvious when Sunset stepped out and glanced over towards the doors.

“-believe you cheated on me,” Timber muttered, his eyes red as if he had either been crying or was on the verge of tears. “After everything I’ve done to try and support you and help you.”

“I didn't cheat on you Timber, it was just a spur of the moment thing. A kiss, nothing more,” Twilight replied, hesitantly standing nearby, unsure of what she should be doing with her hands.

“That's cheating Twilight! Or do you think you can go around kissing whoever you want?” Timber shot back.

Twilight grit her teeth. “You don't understand what it's like. When you unlock your magic there is this… rush. I couldn't help it.”

“So rather than call me, and celebrate, you immediately thought to lock lips with your friend?” Timber angrily retorted.

“That's not… I did call you, remember?” Twilight exclaimed in a soft tone.

“After you kissed-” Timber’s eyes went wide the second they latched onto Sunset Shimmer. “You!”

Twilight sighed, and ran a hand down her face as Timber began to move. “Timber please don't do anything stupid,” Twilight muttered.

“I uh…” Sunset took a step back and tried to feel for the call elevator button.

“Put 'em up,” Timber declared, raising his fists.

“Err what?” Sunset replied.

“You heard me, let's fight. You kissed my girlfriend without her consent!” Timber declared, nostrils flaring.

Sunset Shimmer blinked in shock and glanced at Twilight. “Just what have you been telling him?” Sunset demanded.

“I didn't-” Twilight sighed and ran a hand down her face. “Timber, it wasn't unconsentual.”

“But you said she kissed you!” Timber exclaimed, turning back to Twilight.

“It's… more complicated than that,” Twilight muttered.

“Look man, it was a mistake. Relax,” Sunset Shimmer stressed.

“So now it was an accident? How does that even work, hmm?” Timber shouted.

Twilight pinched the bridge of her nose and exhaled slowly. “Can we please just talk about this later? You’re too worked up right now.”

“Well excuse me for being the only one in this situation who was hurt by my girlfriend cheating on me!” Timber Spruce bellowed.

“Woah don't yell at her, man,” Sunset Shimmer exclaimed.

Twilight stomped her foot. “That's enough. Sunset, I appreciate you standing up for me but I can handle this myself.”

Timber Spruce snorted. “Thank you-”

“And you,” Twilight interupted, spinning towards the male. “You have been a petulant child about this entire thing. I told you because I wanted to work things out, and be honest, but you’ve made me feel like I should have hid the whole thing.”

“But Twilight!” Timber Spruce began.

“But nothing. You can't handle this conversation right now. Go home. I’ll talk to you again tomorrow,” Twilight firmly stated.

“Fine. But this isn't over,” Timber Spruce declared, jabbing a finger at Sunset as he walked away.

I’d like to see you try. Sunset Shimmer thought to herself.

“And wipe that smirk off your face,” Twilight muttered. “I know what you’re thinking and no you cannot fight my… Timber.”

Sunset raised an eyebrow at the other girl’s choice of words, but chose not to comment on it.

“Sorry. You gotta admit though, he wouldn't have a hope in hell,” Sunset Shimmer replied.

Twilight grit her teeth as Timber Spruce slipped out onto the street. “No. No he would not,” she admitted.

“So…” Sunset cleared her throat. “Are you ready to go to Perfect Tempo’s and find out more about Foxtrot and whoever is helping him?”

“I shouldn't be, but I need something to focus on. Something that isn't… him,” Twilight muttered. “So, yes.”

“Well alright then, because the car should be waiting for us,” Sunset replied, gesturing towards the exit.

“Let's just… wait a second. I don't want to run into Timber again until we’ve both had a chance to cool down,” Twilight exclaimed.

“Fair enough. We’ve already made them wait already, what's a few minutes more?” Sunset Shimmer offered.

Twilight grunted. “Great, now I feel bad.”

“Oh don't worry about it. They get paid either way. I’m sure no one's going to complain about getting a break,” Sunset Shimmer asserted.

“I guess,” Twilight admitted. “Could you not comment on what yo usay though? I’ve got enough on my mind as it is and I’d really like to focus on our more pertinent issue.”

“I suppose the guy trying to kill us all would be a bit more pressing then your relationship troubles,” Sunset Shimmer murmured.

“Quite,” Twilight declared.

Together the two girls walked outside to where a black Lincoln town car waited for them. The windows of which were completely blacked out, though the front passenger side was open, revealing the amused face of a familiar woman. Wearing her usual mostly black semi formal wear was Sonata Dusk, the siren blowing and popping some bubble gum as she waited.

“You sure took your time. Don't tell me you were the ones that made that cute boy all sad,” Sonata Dusk remarked when the pair neared the car.

Sunset winced. “Let's… not talk about that okay?”

“Oh shit really? Sorry about that, hop on in. Perfect’s already texted me twice requesting an ETA so we better move,” Sonata replied, starting the car as Twilight and Sunset shuiffled into the back seat of the car. “Straight there, I presume?”

Sunset glanced through the divider and into Sonata’s reflection in the rear view mirror. “Yeah we better not make him wait any longer than necessary,” replied the former pony.

“Hey, would you mind sending Perfect a text and saying were on our way? I think hearing it from you would really set his mind at ease,” Sonata asked.

“Will do,” Sunset replied.

The car began to move a moment just after the two friends had put on their seat belts and had started to settle in. Unlike the limo, this car wasn't quite so opulent, though that didn't mean there were no luxuries to speak of. The seats were heated or cooled individually, there was a sunroof just for the back seat, and a cooler was built into the central hand rest.

Twilight seemingly didn't care about any of that, and merely leaned in close to Sunset. “Does Perfect have any other ex villains in his employ which I should know about?” Twilight inquired.

“That depends. Do you consider Aleister Crowley a villain?” Sunset replied.

“Wait, really? That crazy guy from the early thirties?” Twilight whispered back in shock.

Sunset chuckled. “I’m just messing with you. The guy was a crackpot and he's super dead.”

“You really had me going for a second there,” Twilight admitted.

“Nah, I wouldn't worry about it. Perfect tends to deal with truly dangerous characters in a more permanent manner,” Sunset grimly replied.

“Oh…” Twilight muttered.

“Try not to judge him too harshly. They werent some small-time criminals looking to cover up an illegal mining operation by dressing up like a ghost,” Sunset remarked.

“Well that's… good?” Twilight frowned and sunk into her chair.

Twilight and Sunset stared out the windows in silence, the soft classical music coming from the speakers all but ignored. As was Sonata’s muffled singing voice coming through the mostly closed divider separating them. Normally the strange lyrics added to music which didn't normally have any would intrigue the pair in equal measure. These were not normal circumstances, as they were more confused by their surroundings.

There were no opulent palaces, nor were there towering pillars of stone and glass that rose high above the ground. Only short, rather unpleasant looking bungalows and a narrow road covered completely on one side by cheap vehicles. Tipped over garbage cans, discarded children’s toys and trash littered the area, marking it as a block few would willingly live on.

“Hey uh Sonata, you aren't lost by chance, are you?” Sunset asked.

“Nope. Perfect’s place is just up ahead, next to that old transformer depot thingy,” Sonata called back.

Twilight leaned forward, and pressed the button lowering the divider, allowing the pair to peer out the front window. Where more low income housing was visible along with what looked like a very old bank, a boarded up strip mall and the aforementioned substation. The last of which was surrounded by ten foot high fences topped with razor wire and numerous warnings to stay away. Only the bank, done in an old, art deco style, seemed to be in decent condition, though its windows were also mostly covered with wood.

In no time at all the car rolled to a stop in front of the structure, Sonata shifting the vehicle into park.

“Whelp, this is your stop,” she cheerfully declared.

“You have got to be kidding,” Twilight deadpanned.

Sonata chuckled. “Nope. Just walk up to the door, knock twice and you’ll be let inside in no time.”

“You’re not playing a trick on us are you?” Sunset asked.

“Ha, no. If I did that I’d lose my cushy chauffeur job,” Sonata countered.

“Are you saying your boss lives… here, of all places?” Twilight inquired.

“This is only one of his houses, and yeah. You’ll understand once you’re inside,” Sonata declared.

“Well if you’re certain,” Sunset reluctantly exclaimed.

“I am. Heck I’ll stay right here and wait if it makes you feel any better,” Sonata offered.

“Let's just go. I’m fairly certain she's telling the truth,” Twilight urged.

“Of course I am. Now go on before I get another threatening text message,” Sonata demanded in a slightly irritated tone.

Both Twilight as well as Sunset hastily exited the vehicle and began to walk up to the old bank entrance. With each step the growing sense of unreality only became more and more apparent, with several details sticking out. Such as the fact that they had yet to see another human face, nor even a sign of anyone, like lights turning off or on.

Sunset took the lead and pounded her fist against the door twice before taking a step back.

They didn't have to wait long for there to be a response, though it wasn't one they were anticipating. A bright green light was suddenly emitted from the top of the double doors and washed over them in a quick wave. In an instant it was gone, and the entrance clicked audibly, their fears washed away the second it opened.

“Ahh there you are,” Perfect Tempo declared, the well dressed man appearing in the entrance. “My apologies for the rude reception. I had to be certain it was you.”

“Having a lot of trouble with spies are you?” Sunset asked.

Perfect Tempo snorted. “You would not believe how true that statement really is.”

The man dressed still in formal wear stepped to the side, and extended an arm inwards. “Please, come inside,” he offered.

Sunset walked in immediately, with Twilight following after her a moment later. They only made it a few feet before stopping and staring at the immaculately kept interior of the seemingly abandoned bank. The first thing they noticed were that most of the bones of the old building were still there, but they had been altered slightly to create a new and interesting space.

The counting room was a sitting room, the waiting area was a mix of a ballroom complete with a bar, and even a few old arcade cabinets. Pool tables sat empty and unused, though the balls were already wracked and cues rested patiently nearby. From there a large kitchen was visible over what had once been the counter where tellers would have sat.

Beyond that were several rooms they couldn't see into, and the vault door which was the only thing that looked new in the entire building. Everything else was period accurate, as if they had been plucked out of time from nineteen ten. There was even a good number of memorabilia and posters specific to the time period littered around the main room.

“Welcome,” Perfect Tempo announced with a smile. “To one of my favorite abodes.”

“It sure is nice,” Sunset murmured.

“Wow this is a lot of vintage stuff,” Twilight added.

“Well, when you live as long as I have, you tend to pick up a few things. Now then, would you like a tour, or perhaps you’d rather get straight to the reason for your visit?” Perfect Tempo offered.

Sunset shook her head. “No time, I'm afraid. I’d rather get straight down to business if you don't mind.”

“Of course, follow me,” Perfect Tempo exclaimed.

The man walked confidently through the divider and into the back, with his two guests following close behind. Sunset Shimmer couldn't help but find the fact that Perfect still wore the same incredibly professional attire a little funny. She wouldn't laugh out loud mind you, but she was certainly tempted to do so.

Twilight didn't share in Sunset’s mirth however, and the girl stared intently at the enormous circular metal door before them.

There Perfect Tempo paused, and laid a hand on the center most section of it, causing the metal to glow faintly. After a moment of silence it opened soundlessly, and revealed several feet of hallway that ended abruptly at an open elevator. All surfaces within were white, polished, and had been cleaned to such an extent that Sunset Shimmer almost felt as though she was dirtying it with her presence.

“The answers we seek are below. In one of my vaults,” Perfect Tempo explained.

“This feels like a sci-fi movie,” Twilight muttered.

“Hopefully the film which comes to mind isn't that dreadful ‘A Trip Around The moon’ flick. What an absolute bore,” Perfect Tempo exclaimed.

The trio assembled into the elevator, and Perfect Tempo pressed the only button available.

“A trip around the moon? I’ve never heard of it before. Is it new?” Sunset asked.

“It's a French movie made about a hundred years ago,” Twilight explained.

“Yes and don't get me wrong, the anti imperiliest message is nice, but it's just so… plain,” Perfect Tempo expounded. “But let's not get into that at the moment. I’m sure you have questions. You always seem to.”

“Err yeah, I got one. What's with the whole block?” Sunset asked.

“It is rather strange,” Twilight added.

“Perception filter, on top of an illusion,” Perfect Tempo explained. “The houses are much larger than they appear, and are the residences of most of my staff.”

“Interesting,” Twilight muttered. “This elevator is really smooth. It feels like we haven't moved an inch.”

“Magic will do that,” Perfect Tempo replied simply.

“Do I sense a temporal displacement matrix?” Sunset inquired.

Perfect Tempo raised an eyebrow. “You have keen senses. Yes, we are being teleported in a manner of speaking. My headquarters is connected to several other locations, though we aren't going there today.”

“Then where are we going?” Sunset pressed.

“A very particular vault,” Perfect Tempo replied.

As if he had timed the entire thing, the elevator dinged loudly, and the doors parted into what seemed like a normal room. Directly opposite of the elevator stood a tall marble statue of a woman clad in flowing robes, and wielding a sword. All while she held aloft a pair of scales, one side of which was weighted with what looked like six stones.

The room was lit by several soft overhead lights partially hidden within the reflective ceiling. The floor was slick, polished and was separated from the red inner area and the black outer section. There was only a single piece of furniture, a white table which sat in the very middle, where four various sized rocks sat waiting for them.

Perfect Tempo strode immediately into the space, walking over to the table and tapping it expectantly.

“These are what you seek,” stated the man.

“I thought you were going to just tell us what you know,” Twilight demanded, hands on hips.

“The file we have on Foxtrot is already on your desktop, Sunset. We know much about the man who hunts you so feverishly, though it is his ally that we require more information on,” Perfect Tempo replied.

“Well. What do you know?” Sunset asked. “And what do these rocks have to do with anything?”

“We know that at one point he was an earth pony. An earth speaker to be exact, and that his hate for Celestia was immense,” Perfect Tempo began, fingers drumming against the stone table. “His time with my organization was considerable but he was intensely private, and incredibly paranoid.”

“For good reason it seems,” Twilight remarked.

Perfect Tempo sighed, and ran a hand down his perfectly pressed suit. “Yes, it seems so. His loyalty was beyond reproach right up until you came along. I’m not sure what your presence triggered in him, but he requested to be rasigned to Foxtrot, and I saw no reason to deny him this.”

“Hindsight is twenty twenty,” Sunset added.

“His name was Stone Heart and he left behind these,” Perfect Tempo continued, patting one of the seemingly ordinary grey rocks.

“These are memory stones, right?” Sunset inquired.

“They are,” Perfect Tempo replied. “I’m surprised you’ve heard of them. The art necessary to create them was considered lost when last I was in Equestria.”

“I read a few of the books Celestia attempted to hide from me,” Sunset Shimmer replied with a smirk. “She tried to say there was nothing to learn from such old earth pony traditions but I found their talk of earth magic fascinating.”

“I am relieved to hear that,” Perfect Tempor admitted after a short pause. “It seems as though in my absence ponies have come to believe that only unicorns have magic.”

“How does their magic differ?” Twilight asked, her eyes lighting up. “Sunset has only just barely touched on how each tribe’s abilities function.”

“I will answer that question in a moment, in the meantime I was hoping Sunset here could crack these stones for us,” Perfect Tempo replied.

“Wait, why me? I just barely got my magic back and I wasn't an earth pony,” Sunset Shimmer exclaimed.

“That may be true, but we’ve been reviewing the report you gave about your experiences and we’ve discovered you may harbor a psychic imprint of Stone Heart,” Perfect Tempo continued.

“You mean when he attacked me with that giant monster?” Sunset replied.

“The visions you received!” Twilight snapped her fingers. “They must have carried over a part of his psyche.”

“Your partner is correct,” Perfect Tempor exclaimed.

“Oh we aren't dating,” Sunset was quick to reply.

“I meant your investigitave partner,” Perfect Tempo added.

“Oh uh. Right,” Sunset Shimmer awkwardly cleared her throat. “So what would happen if I did manage to crack them?”

“You’d experience the memory as if you were there. Though be warned. We aren't sure why he made these, or what importance they had to him. Furthermore anything you experience in the memory will feel real to you in the moment,” Perfect Tempo stated.

“Let me guess. This is the only way to get more info on him?” Sunset asked.

“Unfortunately yes,” Perfect Tempor answered in a shockingly sad tone of voice.

“Think this through Sunset. Those memories could be… I don't know, torture scenes or something,” Twilight pressed.

“But they may contain information that I could use to protect you, and the rest of our friends,” Sunset Shimmer retorted.

Twilight sighed. “No stone unturned, huh?”

Sunset smiled. “No stone unturned.”

“Well if you are ready. All you have to do is place your hand atop the stone and try to recall in as much detail the vision Stone Heart gave you. This should trick the memory into triggering,” Perfect Tempo explained, tapping the closest rock in emphasis.

Sunset Shimmer breathed in, then out in a slow, deliberate fashion. “I’m ready.”

“Wait,” Twilight interrupted. “Will she be stuck in the memory for hours, or days if it's long? Will any injuries be reflected on her?”

“It should last mere moments, or minutes at the longest. Objects like this can't contain memories longer than that,” Perfect Tempo explained.

Twilight breathed a sigh of relief. “Okay then.”

“Are we all good now?” Sunset Shimmer asked. “Great, then let's see what secrets you have locked away.”

The girl reached forward and wrapped her fingers around the closest stone, and recalled the earth pony’s words. She thought of the sights he had forced her to see, and the intrusive feeling of her consciousness being subdued. Then, just as she was considering asking for pointers from Perfect Tempo, the world suddenly spun upside down, and Sunset Shimmer was swept away to another world.

One very familiar yet completely alien at the same time.

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