• Published 28th May 2023
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A Certain Scientific Twilight - Babroniedad

Sunset and Twilight's Continuing Adventures in Academy City. A crossover with A Certain Magical Index / A Certain Scientific Railgun.

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08 - Twilight - The Goddess Ascendant

Saturday, September 13, 1:00 PM Tokyo time.

Sunset and Dash looked around in wonder at the massive cavern.

Gentle golden light radiated from the blue tinged roof of the cavern, bathing everything below in a warm glow. Everywhere greens and the colors of life surrounded them. Row after row of fragrant fruit trees were arranged in orchards all around the cavern, smelling strongly of apple, cherry, and pear, interspersed with fields of verdant grain and vineyards of grapes of every color and variety. Through all this, streams wound, with occasional japanese style bridges spanning them joining the cobblestone paths that crossed throughout the entire cavern. Open pagodas were scattered throughout, providing restful places to enjoy the beauty surrounding them.

In the center of the cavern was an open temple, with a courtyard in its middle. In the courtyard there was a large arch, through which they could see a warm teal glow of power.

They flew down into the courtyard, hovering before the arch.

“What is this place?” Dash asked in wonder.

“This is it! We found the Lair of the old God Mars! Isn’t it wonderful!” Sunset gushed, looking around.

Dash reached out, brushing the courtyard wall with her hand. “It’s so smooth. I can see the different stones, but they fit together perfectly. I can’t even feel where one ends and the other starts.”

Sunset nodded in wonder. “It’s perfect.” She flew over to the archway. “I wonder what this is? I can feel magical power just radiating off of it.” She flew into the archway. She was surrounded by a teal aura, held motionless in its power.

“Intruder, who are you and what is the passcode?” she heard, or rather felt, a presence in her mind.

“Wha..” Sunset said, surprised.

“I will repeat. Who are you and what is the passcode?” The presence repeated its request.

“Uh, I’m Sunset Shimmer, and I don’t have a passcode,” she replied.

“Then you must leave,” the presence commanded. She was forcibly ejected from the archway, sailing end over end through the air. She caught and righted herself, returning to the front of the arch.

“Well, that was decidedly unfriendly!” she snarked, returning to the arch and staring into the teal glow of the archway.

Dash drifted down to join her. “Epic eject there, Sunny. What did you do to piss it off?” teased Dash.

“No idea,” frowned Sunset. “It asked who I was and what the passcode was. I told it I didn’t have a passcode and it tried to give me flying lessons.”

“So what the heck is it?” asked Dash.

“Some kind of guardian, I guess,” mused Sunset. She flew to the side and reached out, touching the arch. Her hair immediately flared out in a large halo around her head, crackling with magical energy. Her eyes turned completely white, and she glowed with teal magic. She pulled her hand from the arch, returning to her normal ponied up form.

“It's a magical construct, way beyond anything I have ever seen even in Equestria. The power in it is phenomenal. And I could sense… not just order, but intelligence. I think it is a magical artificial life form. I bet it’s the guardian of the Lair. And until I can crack this passcode, it’s really not going to be happy with my being here,” Sunset commented.

“So it’s alive?” asked Dash.

“Sure seems that way,” agreed Sunset. “Hm. Crack the passcode. I know who I can count on for that!” She turned to Dash with a grin. They both spoke at the same time.

“SciTwi!” Dash called out with a grin.

“Sparky!” Sunset called out. “You know she doesn’t like that nickname,” she reminded Dash.

“Sorry Twilight!” called out Dash.

“No problem,” sighed Twilight over the headset. “We’re still a good 20 minutes from you guys.”

“Can you just pop over?” asked Sunset.

“Sure. Be right there,” answered Twilight. There was a flash of magenta, then Twilight was sitting below them on the cobblestones of the courtyard, a sleeping Kuroko cradled in her arms. She carefully unfurled her wings, and rose up to join them.

“That is so precious,” grinned Sunset at her BFF holding the still sleeping Kuroko.

“Yes, she is. Here,” Twilight carefully handed Sunset her sleeping sissy. Sunset placed her head over her shoulder while cradling her gently in her arms.

“There, now I can take a look at this thing,” smiled Twilight, moving over to the archway. She reached out, and placed her hands on the arch. Like Sunset, her hair flared out from her head crackling with magical energy. Her wings and aura glowed in power.

Twilight, however, did not let go after a few seconds. She continued glowing majestically, her eyes completely white as she mumbled softly to herself. After several minutes, she removed her hands from the arch and returned to her usual ponied up form.

“It’s confirmed. It’s a magically constructed artificial intelligence, with amazing power and an intelligence that is hard to fathom. And it’s old. Ancient even. As far as I could determine, this thing has been around longer than humanity has been on earth. It’s been here for all that time, guarding this cavern and the secrets it possesses,” Twilight informed them.

“What secrets?” asked Dash.

“No idea. I would need to pass its test for that, and it didn’t offer that to me,” explained Twilight.

“So, how do I get past the passcode,” asked Sunset. Kuroko stirred. Sunset gently soothed her hair, coaxing the girl back to sleep.

“The construct is created with magic. It thinks, feels, remembers and functions through the deep vibrational energy of the magic within it. It would make sense then that the passcode, whatever it is, would be composed of that same vibrational magical energy,” mused Twilight. Sunset nodded.

“I was also able to determine from its design that it is a neutral entity. It doesn’t focus on what is right or wrong, but instead it is wholly focused on its goals and objectives. I don’t sense any malice from it towards any of us,” Twilight continued.

Dash laughed. “For no malice, that was quite a pitch it gave Sunset! Curve ball sliding over the plate!”

Kuroko started to stir again in Sunset’s arms. Sunset scowled playfully at Dash. “Keep it down, dork! Kid sleeping here,” she teased. “Still yeah, that was a solid eject. But Twilight is right. I didn’t sense any anger either, even when it was tossing me. More like disappointment.”

“That matches what I experience,” agreed Twilight. “It seems to be waiting for something. Almost hopeful even, in some sense.” Twilight looked thoughtful for a moment. “Hm…” she mused.

“Out with it, Sparky. What are you thinking?” asked Sunset, hopeful. “You have an idea, don’t you.”

Twilight turned to Sunset. “Sunny, I think it’s waiting for you,” she answered.

“What?” responded Sunset, perplexed. “Me? Why me?”

“Think about it,” answered Twilight. “It queried you. Who are you, and what is the passcode? It didn’t do that to me. It just ignored me. Only you. You got asked. It’s waiting for the new Mars. It must have been left here to greet the new Mars Ascendant. All you have to do is show it that you’re her.”

“Okay, that makes sense. Kinda. A good working theory at least. But what about the passcode? I have no idea what that is or even how to find that out,” Sunset stated.

“So forget about the passcode,” challenged Twilight.

“What? How?” Sunset asked.

“Offer to show it you are Mars Ascendant. Tell it to let you see what it can show you, and judge you on your actions,” suggested Twilight.

Sunset flew over to Twilight and kissed her cheek. “Sparky, I love you and your big brain! Thanks!” She grinned, gently passing the still sleeping Kuroko back over to her friend. Twilight took her with a smile, cradling her in her arms. Twilight descended to the floor and took her seat again facing the arch, still holding the sleeping girl.

Sunset flew up to the Arch, and entered once again. One again, the presence entered her mind. “Who are you, and what is the passcode?” it queried.

“I am Mars Ascendant. And I will verify my claim by my actions without the passcode,” she stated.

“Explain,” the presence commanded.

“Show me the state of my realm, of my people, of their past. Show me what has happened to my realm, and from my reactions you will know that I am truly who I claim,” she stated boldly.

The presence pondered for a moment. “Agreed. Let us begin,” it stated. Her vision faded to gray.

The gray faded. Below her Sunset saw a vibrant world, horizons curving away in the distance. The sky was a pale blue, wispy clouds floating below her. She could see large land masses dotted with lights, surrounded by shimmering blue oceans. Before her two small moons danced across the sky.

“Behold!” proclaimed the presence. “Your world, in its glory. Your people have flourished, protected from the dangers of the cosmos by the world's active magnetic poles and abundant atmosphere. Ages of growth have made the world a verdant garden, giving life and magic in abundance to your children. And by the strength of their will and intellect, they have risen to become a mighty people, though fractured among themselves.

“Their pride has consumed them. They rejoice in their strength, and worship their own might. Their rule is the strong over the weak, and consume what you can take. They feel no shame in this, for in their hearts they believe it is the right of the strong to enslave the weak for whatever purpose their heart desires. They are a godless people, having turned their back on the guardian of their realm. War is their passion, and violence is their love. Blood is their delight, and will destroy their fate.”

“No!” cried out Sunset, reaching out to the world below. “Were they not taught the precepts of Harmony? Can’t their guardian guide them in the ways of harmony and peace?”

“No, he cannot,” informed the presence. “Harmony has not yet reached this realm, nor yet fought her wars to win the astral realm. This is a time before the ascension of harmony. The cosmos is yet still in the sway of the elder gods. Violence and pride are the ways of these people. And they have embraced the elder gods, turning from their guardian, to their everlasting shame.

“See even now what they are poised to lose!” Sunset felt herself drawn towards the land below. She plummeted down, into the atmosphere of her world below, down further, into and through the clouds beneath, then further until she beheld a mighty city, reaching up into the sky, resplendent in its light and beauty.

She raced between the citadels stretching up into the lower clouds, then darted lower, towards the city below. Buildings of all shapes and color, beautiful and proud, pushed up from the surface of the city. Between were lanes of what were clearly vehicles racing along among the spaces between them. Others joined in or left off, intent on whatever purpose they had.

Racing lower still, Sunset darted between the lanes of moving traffic, down towards the lower portion of the city. There she saw beautiful creatures moving about, clothed in resplendent robes of every shade. In and out of the buildings they moved, going about their lives.

Sunset gasped in joy at what she beheld. “It’s so beautiful!” she sighed. “They’re so beautiful. My children are splendid to behold.”

“Truly, they are splendid,” agreed the presence. “They are a wondrous race of creatures, magnificent and intelligent. But despite their beauty and great intellect, they lack the one thing they need to survive.”

“What do they lack?” asked Sunset, still struck with wonder at what she beheld.

“They lack empathy,” stated the presence. Sunset felt a sadness in its voice. A deep regret lay beneath its words. “They are full of self, but have no concept of others as other selves. They only see the world as it serves them. They are lacking any concept of compassion. It is their greatest downfall.”

Sunset looked on them in sadness. “Then they must be taught. Even the hardest heart can be won over by loving compassion.” She recalled her own journey to harmony’s embrace.

“There is no one left to teach them. They have thrown off their god. Who can harmony send?” replied the presence.

“She has sent me. I will teach them. I will lead these children to Harmony’s embrace!” Sunset affirmed resolutely.

“I fear you are many ages too late, young goddess,” sighed the presence. “And too late by far for these. Behold, their end has already begun.”

Sunset looked up into the sky. Overhead, she could see lines traced in fire, stretching out past the horizon. One moved resolutely towards her city, its incredible speed belied by its height in the sky and its distance. Below, she heard screams of terror. Everywhere, her children were fleeing, running into buildings and openings to tunnels below. Others were prostrate, overrun, bleeding and dying as they were crushed by the escaping mass of terror filled creatures.

Sunset raced down to them. “No!” she screamed out. “Do not panic! You are killing each other! We can defend against this!” Her cries went unheard, others still falling to their doom before the rush of terror around them.

Sunset raced up towards the missile, now clearly racing on a downward arc directly towards her city. The missile was now above her, coming straight down upon them.


With a mighty shout, Sunset threw her arms out, projecting a large shield out before her. The missile exploded in a mighty burst of light as heat, light, and energy beyond belief flooded her shield, rolling around it and over it, pushing her down with a mighty slap to the ground below her. Sunset slammed into the ground on her back, hands still extended out, holding her shield before her, holding the destructive maelstrom at bay.

All around her, plasma blistered, the surface of an angry star set upon the world to consume and destroy. Buildings shattered in an instant, the fragments exploded out from them turned to further plasma by the destructive energy that consumed them. The very surface of the world was stripped away by the power of the blast, leaving only molten rock behind.

But still her shield held, resolute as the fire in her heart to protect whatever she could for as long as she drew breath.

In time, an eternity or a moment she could not say, the light began to fade. The arcing lines of energy raging through the plasma dimmed and faded, disappearing as the destructive energy was spent. Soon, even the plasma itself faded, leaving behind only the dust red sky, and the searing landscape of cooling molten stone stretching away to the horizon.

Sunset wept. “What have they done?” she cried out. “Where are my children, and what have they done?” She wept piteously, sitting up and staring out over the desolate landscape.

Still weeping, she sat in quiet solitude. In a moment, between tears, she heard muffled crying. She stopped her weeping, listening intently.

There. She heard it again. It sounded like a child crying. She pulled mana from the ground below her, anchoring her shield to the spot. She then rose up, flying towards the source of the sound. She was getting closer.

There. Still under the protection of the shield she had cast, under a pile of rubble covering the entrance to one of the tunnels below, she heard the cry. It was pitious. She reached out with her magic, pulling stones and pieces of building aside, setting them away from the tunnel entrance. When it was cleared, she raced into the entrance, looking.

There, a short way from the entrance, she found her. Wrapped in her mother’s embrace, a small child was crying in abject terror.

Teal light radiating from her, Sunset swept down to the crying child. Sitting down beside her she pulled the child into her embrace. “Do not fear, little one. I will protect you,” she smiled in comfort to her.

The child looked up at her in confusion. She didn’t understand.

Sunset nodded. Holding the child to her breast, she placed her hand on the back of her head and was filled with memories.

Flashes of moments from the child's life filled her thoughts. She saw happy moments, joyful experiences. A day at the beach with her parents. A trip with her mother to the store. Playing with her siblings in their yard. Joy filled meals with her little friends and their families. Playing at school with her classmates. A little lifetime of joy and happiness.

And most important, conversations. Stories told and heard. And thoughts. Sunset smiled.

Little one, fear not. I have come to save you,” smiled Sunset down at her little charge. “I have come to save you all.”

The child stopped crying, looking up into Sunset’s eyes. “Thank you,” she said, holding tightly to her goddess.

Still holding tightly to the child, Sunset rose up, looking around her. As far as she could see down the tunnel, her children were sprawled out, hundreds of them as far as she could see down the tunnel. They were slowly coming too, shaking their heads and looking around.

Sunset raced down the tunnel over their heads, looking to see how far it went. To her sadness, she came to the end of the tunnel. Her shield present, marking as far as she could go, mountains of rock and dirt on the other side straining to smash into the tunnel and destroy what was left. Sunset bowed her head in sadness. She returned to the mouth of the tunnel, floating over the heads of her children, a glowing teal beacon they followed with openmouthed wonder.

Setting down next to the girl's mother again, Sunset sat in sadness. The mother stirred, then sat up, panic filling her eyes as she realized she was no longer holding her child. She looked over and saw Sunset, sitting disconsolate with her daughter in her lap.

“Who are you?” the mother gasped.

Sunset looked up, then over to the mother. The child in her arms stirred, then released Sunset. “Mommy!” she called out in joy, racing into her mothers open waiting arms.

“Baby! My sweet baby girl! I thought I had lost you!” she cried out in joy, hugging her child tightly.

Sunset smiled at the touching sight. She rose, floating before the mother and child, now surrounded by a small crowd of still wonder filled people. Sunset turned, smiling at them all.

My children, rejoice, for even in your sadness, you are saved,” she informed them.

They looked perplexed at one another, whispering among themselves. The mother before her spoke again.

“Thank you for saving my child,” she said in gratitude. “But again, I ask. Who are you?”

Sunset moved over to her, and landed kneeling before her. “I am your goddess,” she smiled gently. “In your moment of sorrow, you called out for me, and I have come. I am here to save you. I am here to protect you. I am here to love you, my children.

Sunset rose up and turned to address everyone. “I am here to show you a new way to live. A way that will lead to peace, joy, and happiness. One that will never permit what has happened here to happen again.

“I am here to teach you, my children. I will show you, and guide you, in the ways of Harmony.”

The people whispered among themselves in confusion. One man called out. “I don’t even know that word? What does it mean? Teach us!

Others joined the call, shouting out “Teach us! Teach us!” They chanted it. Some began to bow, prostrating themselves before the goddess. Soon the entire crowd was prostrate, chanting together. “Teach us! Teach us!”

Sunset raised her hands. “Rise up! My first lesson to you will be humility. No one is worshiped except the Maker. She alone is worthy of your worship. Rise up now, for no one is to worship anyone but Her!”

They looked up, seeing their goddess with hands outstretched in command. They rose as she bid.

Seeing this, Sunset nodded. “This is right and just. Her alone do we worship.” Sunset landed on the floor on her knees before them. She then bowed down as they had, calling out. “Thank the Maker!

Together the crowd fell to their knees and bowed in worship, calling out. “Thank the Maker!”

“Next, my lesson to you is Charity! Rise up, my children, and look around you,” Sunset commanded. The people rose, looking around at those beside them.

Sunset continued. “We are all family, one tribe, my children. We care for each other, and tend to each other’s needs. No one is left in want while we wallow in plenty. We share with one another not just in our abundance, but in our desperation as well. We are one.

“If there are any among you who have fallen, or in any way need help, you will be there to help them. You will assist them, care for them, and nurture them. Just as you would do for your own child, you will do for each other. This is the way of Harmony. This is Charity, the fruits of which are a Generous Heart, and Kind Soul.

“Look around you, and find others in need. Leave no one behind! Bring all to me for healing and comfort. Go now, and do as I have instructed.”

The people scattered, looking through the tunnel flooded with her Teal light, looking for others in need of help or healing. They gathered all they found, and laid them at the feet of their goddess. She knelt, placing her hands upon them and called on Harmony to show mercy on them. She healed those she could with her magic, and comforted the few she could not in their dying final moments, committing them to the care of Faust with her blessing.

When all had been gathered, they laid their dead to peaceful repose along the tunnel walls, and followed Sunset, carrying those still too weak to walk or stand, up to the center of the plaza where she had anchored her shield.

“Go and seek others who may need help, looking everywhere. Leave no stone unturned in your efforts, searching every scrap of land covered by the shield before you. Bring them all here for healing, comfort, and succor.

“I am leaving you for a brief time. Be strong, and stay strong and faithful to what I have taught you. I will return before the setting sun.”

Sunset rose up, passing through the shield. In a Teal flash she disappeared into the sky above them leaving a rainbow trail behind her. They scattered, scouring the ruins of the city under the shield for any sign of life, bringing all they found to the plaza for their goddess.

Sunset reached out with her magical senses, hoping for any sign of life beneath her. Sadly there were none. She raced, zig zagging the breadth of the planet, the continents now gone, the oceans boiled away. She could feel the pinging radiation of the cosmos beating down upon her as she swept through the red, thinning skies. The protective shield of magnetic power that protected her planet before was now gone, letting deadly cosmic radiation bombard her planet. The atmosphere was boiling away, drifting off into space, the life-giving water and air dissipating into the cosmos.

Sunset wept as she searched, desperate for any sign of life, or any hope for the future of her children. Her planet below offered none, even its life-given magic fading as the world slowly died away.

There were no signs of the once wonderful cities that had graced the entire world just hours before. Now everywhere was a slowly cooling sea of molten rock, with occasional patches of raw land and pools of water evaporating even as she watched, clearly places recently covered in oceanic depths.

To her relief, it appeared the polar regions of her world had largely been spared. Due to the heat from the molten planet, the ice caps were melting, though that was mitigated quite a bit by the rapidly thinning atmosphere, which was losing its true convective power to move the heat to the colder climes. But even in these polar reaches, there was little sign of life, and none of it was her children.

After spanning the world in her fruitless search, she returned to her children. As promised, the sun was just beginning to set in the city plaza as she returned to them, dropping from the sky through the shield. She settled down into the plaza hovering over the rows of injured they had found and pulled from the wreckage of their city.

“I have returned, my children, as I promised,” sighed Sunset. “You alone have survived the apocalypse that has consumed our planet. You are all that is left of my children.”

She then settled down and began ministering to those laying before her. She healed those she could, and eased and guided the journey into the waiting arms of Faust those she could not. She prayed for comfort and peace with them all. To the shock and mild horror of her children, she dragged herself by her arms between those needing her care.

They had not realized before that moment. Their goddess could not walk. Their goddess could not stand.

Seeing their shock and dismay, Sunset paused in her ministrations. “Why do you stand there in shock and dismay?” she called out to them. “Why do you wonder at what you see?”

One of them, a braver soul than the rest, knelt and bowed down before her. “Forgive us, goddess. But how can you be a goddess and be so clearly broken?” He bowed down before her to show his respect.

Sunset pulled herself into a sitting position, and turned to him. “Do you doubt what you see? Do you not see your goddess before you? Are you truly dismayed to see me as anything less than your ideal of perfection?”

The man shook his head in negation. “No, my goddess. You are perfect. Surely it must be so! You are a goddess, and your power is great!”

“And what is this perfection?” called out Sunset, turning to each of them. “Am I perfect? Do you see before you a perfect goddess, without weakness or failure? Do you look at me and see limitations?”

They whispered among themselves, shaking their heads in bafflement. Seeing their confusion, Sunset continued.

“Know this! No one is perfect except the Maker. She alone is perfect, and it is She alone that we strive to be like. Anyone else claiming perfection is a fraud, and a liar to be avoided. No one is perfect!”

She looked them all in their eyes, sitting there before them. “No one. Not even a goddess.

“Let this be a lesson for you. Embrace this in your hearts. Compassion. Sympathy. Empathy. Let these be the guides for your actions towards others. Even goddesses.” She smiled.

“Even in my broken state, the Maker saw use for me, and forged me into Her Hand and Heart. I pour my broken life out in service to Her.

I am not less for my brokenness. I am not more for surviving it. I am Her Servant, and your goddess. Know that my brokenness does not prevent me from being your goddess, nor does it prevent you from being my children. By embracing my brokenness, I embrace you in your weakest state, knowing your pain, heartache, and suffering. I suffer with you, and for you, before our Maker. I am your champion. I am your guardian.

“Do not judge as less any among you who are broken and suffering. Help them, love them, and accept them as they work through their limitations and their sufferings. And through this, know that your Maker loves you, and will embrace your souls though eternity.”

Several among them started crying. Soon many were weeping, tears of gratitude and understanding, as a new way of thinking, of believing, opened up before their eyes. With open hearts they knelt and thanked their goddess for sharing their suffering.

Sunset wept as well, smiling and hugging those who came up to her. She continued her mistrations to the suffering before her, healing and releasing those before her as needed. When all were tended to, she rose and floated to the center of her people.

“My children!” she called out. “I have scoured our planet, and found nowhere safe for you to live and thrive. I cannot leave you in this state, or you will surely perish. I will leave you for a while to prepare a safe place for you to stay. Rest now. I will return before dawn.”

She rose up again into the sky, and in a rainbow streak, shot out of their sight.

Sunset headed for the moons above her world. She settled on the first one, and crafted within it a crystal heart, filling its lattices with loving energy. She passed to the second moon, doing the same. She then joined the two lattices, quantum entangling them to be forever joined as one. Within their lattices, she created wondrous lands and cities of harmonic energy, modeled after the lands and cities of her homeworld. She filled the land with growth and abundance, and the cities with wealth immeasurable. She wanted her children to travel through eternity without want or worry. She crafted two energetic orbs in their lattice sky, one to govern the day and the other the night.

Her work completed, she returned to her people just as the sun was rising over the city. She dropped down through the shield, and hovered before her children.

“I have prepared a place for you. It is filled with abundant wealth and sustenance. In this place, you will be safe and happy, living out your lives in the precepts of Harmony and sharing in each others’ good fortunes, in kindness and happiness. There you will wait for my return. It will be a long while until I can come back to you. You must never forget the precepts of Harmony you have embraced. Pray daily to the Maker, thanking Her for your good fortune before every meal and event, and stay devout to Her teachings.

“In the fullness of time, I will return to you, and once again you will know me in your lives as your goddess, your guardian. Go now my children, and give thanks to your Maker.”

Sunset’s horn glowed, radiating out Teal magic that washed over everyone. Their bodies turned to crystal, vibrating with the energy of the magic washing through them. In a flash of Teal, Sunset converted the vibrating crystal of their essences into pure harmonic energy, and transported them into the kingdom she had prepared for them.

In the land of Harmony, they looked up in grateful wonder toward the sky. Sunset’s voice called out to them. “In the fullness of time, I will return, my children. Wait for me faithfully, staying true to the Maker and Her precepts of Harmony. Know that I love you, now and always!”

With that, Sunset released the link, leaving them to their lives. With tear drenched eyes, she reached down, and released the shield protecting the land around her. The air boiled away, and the surface quickly turned to smoldering magma, melting and destroying any hint of the city around her. When it was all destroyed, the last vestige of her childrens’ life on the planet removed by the fiery heat, she looked up to the sky.

It is finished,” she called out. “There is nothing more I can do at this time.”

The world around her turned gray, and she felt the passage of time and space as it shifted around her. When the gray faded, she found herself again in the arch, her mind in touch with the presence from before.

“Welcome, Mars Ascendant, true guardian of the Realm. Welcome home,” the presence warmly greeted her.

Sunset smiled. The presence continued. “I require from you a new passcode.” It paused for a moment. “That thought is not being communicated in its true depth. One moment.” In her mind, she sensed the entirety of her Realm. There, at its very center, vibrated the fundamental truth of her Realm. She saw that this truth was the foundation of everything in her Realm. All its magic, all its truth, all its splendor and strength, would be based on this truth.

Realizing the full significance of what was required, Sunset looked into her own soul, searching for one thing. Digging deep within her soul, she found it. Within her own soul, she found the mark that had been permanently made by the love she shared with her beloved Twilight. The bond of their shared love and compassion, their Friendship, vibrated powerfully and passionately with power.

Reaching into her soul, she took that love, and gave it to the presence. “This shall be our new truth. This is the passcode to our Realm. This will be our guide into the future.”

The presence took it, gently putting it in place. Teal and Magenta light leaked out of the device at the center of the realm, spreading slowly but powerfully out to the world around it.

It is done,” stated the presence. “The Realm is yours, Mars Ascendant. Long may you reign.”

Sunset bowed. “Thank you! And thank you for showing me my children. Harmony protect you!” She turned, and exited the archway.

As she exited the arch, she saw bolts of teal and magenta magic leaping from the archway. Twilight was suspended in a glowing aura of magenta magic, eyes completely whited out with power. On the ground, a now thoroughly awake Kuroko was staring in open mouthed wonder at Twilight, Dash by her side.

Twilight's wings spread out, unfurled behind her, radiating power. Her head was thrown back, as she stared up with her blazing white eyes into the cosmos. Her hair was billowing out like a cloud around her, magic arching though it as she floated before them.

A voice rang out from all around them. “Behold! By your love and loyalty, you have proven a true protector and champion of Harmony. You are now my champion, my Shield. You are the Shield in the Hand of the Maker, guarding all from harm and disaster. Share my joy throughout eternity!

There was a flash of light, then Twilight descended. The glowing faded, and Twilight was left standing before the arch still ponied up. Sunset dived into her friend, sweeping her up in a tight embrace, crying tears of happiness.

Twilight embraced her back, hugging her tightly, crying happy tears of her own. “Forever!” she called out happily to her BFF, head on her shoulder, happy tears landing on her friend.

Forever, Sparky,” cried Sunset back. They settled back down towards the ground before a still awestruck Kuroko and Dash

Seeing them both before her, Kuroko bowed deeply, crying out in awe. Looking at her BFF, Sunset smiled and rolled her eyes. Twilight laughed.

Dash looked on in puzzled curiosity. “Ah, what are you doing?” she asked Kuroko.

Together, Sunset and Twilight swept down and scooped the abject girl into their shared embrace. Sunset scowled playfully at Kuroko. “What did I say about doing that?” she gently scolded her.

“Uhm. Never to do that again?” smiled Kuroko hopefully.

“Right, knucklehead. Never again!” Twilight and Sunset both kissed her on opposite cheeks and laughed. Kuoko blushed madly.

They settled back down to the ground, Sunset hovering just above the cobblestone. Both she and Twilight held Kuroko’s hands, with her between them. Sunset took Dash’s hand with a grin.

Looking up, seeing past the cavern roof, out into the space beyond the world, Sunset saw her two moons, still in orbit above her. A gentle smile graced her face as she spoke the words a world had waited eons to hear.

I’m home, my children. I have returned.

Author's Note:

It was hellish.

I was there beside Sunset as she looked in shock through her shield at the destruction outside. I could see the red plasma that surrounded them, energy crackling through it, everything reduced to molten rock outside the shield. I was with her as she scoured the planet for anyone left alive, over seas that had boiled away to nothing, what little patches of water and unscaled rock left from the deepest trenches of the former oceans boiling away before her eyes.

Molten desolation everywhere, even the former blue skies turned to red ash in the hellish aftermath. And the skies... even as she watched, she felt the pummeling of the cosmic radiation pelting the planet. The explosions had shocked the planet's core, shutting down the magnetic field that protected the planet from cosmic harm. She watched the atmosphere boiling and seething away under the punishment of the cosmic radiation, all the precious elements in her life giving air and water vapor seething out into space.

And she wept, and I with her.