We Three: Hebi No Onna

by Eyeswirl the Weirded

First published

Adagio Dazzle has snake-arms. Also; weird things happen.

Sunset Shimmer might not mind losing her magic, but the Dazzlings definitely do.

Feeling robbed after the Battle of the Bands, the three of them retreat to the inner city part of Canterlot, where the risk of spontaneous magic cars and rainbow death-rays is hopefully a little smaller. Months later, they're still no closer to fixing the gems and getting back to business, so Aria opts to take matters into her own hands in the only way she knows how:


...It doesn't go as planned.

For another dose of snake-arm sirens, Equestria Girls, and some other stuff, check mayorlight's gallery!

Chapter 1: Spellbooks and Snake-arms!

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Things weren't going very well.

That was Aria's chief thought as she slammed the door to the group's new apartment again. She didn't care what Adagio said, doors were made for slamming, especially after another long, stupid, boring day at work. Somehow, she had picked up a job in retail, which SUCKED, but at least it brought in some money. That made her the only one of them to earn any consistent income after they fled to the inner city following the Battle of the Bands, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Probably.

Kicking her shoes off, peeling her usual hoodie away, and slinging it at the nearest wall, Aria walked into the living room clad only in jeans and a tight tank top. She found Sonata, similarly garbed, lying on the couch and watching TV. Again. "Thought you had an interview today."

"I did," she replied without looking up, "totally bombed it! And the one after it!"

Ordinarily, there'd have been snark for Sonata failing to make herself useful for umpteenth time, but now Aria was curious. "One after? You managed to get a whole two interviews in one day?" All things considered, maybe that was progress.

Giggling, Sonata sat up to make room for Aria on the couch, as per tradition of the last couple of... weeks? Months? She wasn't sure anymore. "Well, the first one went like usual; some jerk in a tie telling me I'm not fit to blah-blah-I'm-bitter-'cause-my-wife-only-married-me-for-what-little-financial-security-I-can-provide-blah-blah. But then on the way home, I met this guy in a coat and a big hat with a feather in it! He said he had just the job for me, so we went to his office through some dirty old back alley that smelled like pee."

Taking a seat, Aria raised a cautious eyebrow. "Uh-huh...?"

"A few minutes after we got there, we heard sirens, but not like the three of us, just the 'WEE-WOO, WEE-WOO' kind, and he told me to wait for a bit, but I was sitting there for like twenty minutes and he never even came back! Jerk. Then some cops showed up (Officer Booker says hi, by the way!) and asked me what I was doing there, so I told 'em the guy in the coat was gonna give me a job and they got all quiet, looked at each other for a sec, smiled, and told me to go home, so here I am!"

Not a word was said over the next few minutes, but the television got Sonata's attention before Aria needed to verbalize a reply. As usual. That was probably for the best, because that had to be the third time Sonata had told her about a 'job offer' like that, and Aria wasn't sure if it made her want to laugh or cry. New subject.

"So, what's Adagio up to?"

Pointing in the direction of the hall leading to their leader's room, Sonata sighed. "Same old, same old."

Aria sighed too. She'd been sure the gem fragments would be completely useless after the Rainbow Bullshit 9000 hit, but after a couple weeks of daily tinkering, Adagio had managed to restore their singing voices through some arcane mumbo-jumbo Aria still didn't understand. That was a great day and all, but all three of them agreed that they wanted everything back, including the magic they'd had all their lives.

Yea, yea, letting go and moving on were all well and good if there was nothing you could do, but just dropping a piece of your identity isn't that easy. Unfortunately, while all three of them could use those powers, Adagio was the only one who knew how they really worked, which was why she now spent every day in her room with what was left of the gems, just trying to get more out of them than little specks and sparks of negative energy.

Aria flicked Sonata's ear to get her attention. "You get the mail?"

"The what?"

"Uggh," groaned Aria as she stood up, thwapping the back of Sonata's head, "freakin' lazy dumbass."

She didn't bother listening for a whiny retort as she set off for the cluster of built-into-the-wall mailboxes herself, the one a whole fifteen steps from their front door. There was a time (about a month ago, actually) that Aria would have been madder about being the only one of the three to be doing anything useful, but she'd mellowed to the fact that Sonata was at least trying and that if Adagio pulled off what she was hoping to, none of them would ever need to work again.

Still, that didn't leave the situation completely in her yellow, increasingly-scratched-up (the gem fragments could be pretty sharp) hands, at least not as far as Aria was concerned. In her time surfing the internet when not at work, she'd come across some interesting sites, some that, despite what that big encyclopedia site she kept getting lost in would say, seemed to think they had magic in this world too.

Aria had ordered a book, and opening the mailbox, she recognized the shape of the package. It was here. Her mouth splitting in an Adagio-worthy grin, she tore the paper and stamps and whatever else right off, beholding her secret back-up plan in the light of day.

It was old, a little tattered, and judging by the art style, apparently made on the other side of the world, but mostly still legible. This book, Aria was almost sure, had some kind of magic to it, magic they'd probably be able to use even without their own! Best of all, it had been for sale almost dirt-cheap, so Adagio couldn't even complain that she'd wasted much money if this didn't work.

She practically sprinted back into the apartment with it, shouting with such delight that she forgot to even slam the door. "GUYS, C'MERE!!" It tickled something in the back of her mind that Sonata obeyed that order, though even she looked confused about it as she eyed the book.

"What? Story time?"

They heard Adagio shout from her room. "What is it, Aria?"

"OUTTA THE BAT-CAVE, DAGI, I GOT SOMETHING FOR YOU!!" She and Sonata both giggled. Inside joke.

It was funny because Adagio had spent so long in her room that it almost reminded them of some cave-dwelling monster and they were pretty sure that spending day after day on the gems was driving her 'batty,' so-

It didn't matter. Adagio shuffled into view, her hair down and her bloodshot eyes half open in a tired glare. "Alright," she muttered, "what is it?"

Woah, thought Aria, the scratches on her face are new... did she fall asleep on her desk again? Looks like she's not even getting band-aids for her hands anymore. Didn't matter, she had their attention now, and brought it to the tome in her hands.

"Found this online, they said it's magic." Before objections or doubts could be raised, she flipped it open, revealing the depiction of a black, hissing serpent. "Dark magic." She took it as a good sign that Adagio's expression was more curious than skeptical.

"And where did you find-"


"Fair enough, but it must have cost-"

"Thirteen bucks!"

Sonata scratched her head. "Hang on, if it's really magic, why would it be that cheap?"

"I thought about that; the people in this world don't think magic even exists, right? I remember Adagio rambling about how magical objects usually can't be triggered at all without the presence of some kind of magic in the first place to work like a jump-start, and since they've got so little power in this world, maybe it just hasn't been activated in forever?"

Adagio would have offered corrections about it not being 'rambling,' but she wanted to get this over with and go lie down. "Alright, but how do you know it's actual magic and not another manual?" She cast a tired glance over her shoulder to the small stack of books on a nearby shelf. "The game is interesting, of course, but not quite the kind of magic we're looking for." She did like being the DM, though, and not just for the ability to keep the others on their toes by making them roll various kinds of 'save.'

At this, Aria gave them a slightly sheepish smile. "Well, I kinda don't know it's the real deal, but-"

Sonata cut her off with a scoff. "You blew money on something that might be totally bogus? Wow, and you were the one telling me that gambling was stupid, stupid!"

Adagio watched as Aria, brows furrowed, took a challenging (if meaningless) step forward and the usual thing began. She didn't even care enough to hear the specifics of their argument this time. Aria usually won, for whatever that was worth, but part of her wondered why she'd ever bothered keeping score. While Aria and Sonata were lost in each other's (angry) eyes, Adagio tip-toed around, pinched the book out of Aria's hand, took a few steps back, and started leafing through it.

It was old, definitely, the text and embellishments resembling what she'd seen of this world's far-eastern cultures. Snakes and serpents were a running theme, several pages marked with little depictions of black snake heads like the one on the first page. She didn't know what that meant and the translated annotations weren't making a lot of sense. She was almost ready to call this one a bust when she came to a page with inscriptions that reminded her of the Leviathan-class incantation matrices she'd studied back in Coltlantis.

In hindsight, choosing to let her sisters remain ignorant of how their own magic worked in favor of being able to control them that much easier felt like a mistake. Her information monopoly had worked out great while they still had their power, but now it just left her to do all the technical work herself if they were ever going to get their birthright back. She might have tried teaching them, but even if both had the focus for it, broken gems weren't the best means of demonstration. The page she was on now had very little she could read, but a few words appeared more than once.

"Hebi No Onna," she whispered under her breath while tracing her fingers over the page, finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate over the sounds of bickering and hair-pulling. She looked up with a scowl. "Will you two just shut-" she slapped a hand onto the book, the sudden sting telling her she'd agitated one of her tiny, but numerous wounds again. She looked down at her hand with a wince, eyes widening both at the faint trickle of blood and the sight of an ethereal, red mist floating up from the page.

Instinctively, she looked at the others, both of whom were now frozen in place even as they held one another by the bangs, staring at her in surprise. Looking back to the book, she found it glowing a little brighter. She tried to pull her hand away, but found it stuck to the page, and trying to push it away with her other hand only got both of her hands trapped, like that time with Sonata and the fly paper.

She was starting to panic. "I, I-I can't-" Aria and Sonata were already on her, each tugging on a different arm as though hoping to pull her out of a hole together. This might have been appropriate, because her fingers began to sink into the book. As the red light grew brighter and brighter, tendrils of twisting, scarlet aurora drifted up from the hissing tome, wrapped around her, and quickly spread to the others.

They screamed.

Artist's depiction


When she awoke, Adagio found herself lying on the carpet by the front door. Sitting up and looking around, she didn't see Aria or Sonata... but she did see their clothes, lying in heaps nearby. Were they running around naked again?

I thought they already resolved that bet, what could-

"Uuugh," groaned Sonata from Adagio's immediate left, "whatever that was, I don't want any more."

Adagio's jaw dropped.

"Yea," concurred Aria from Adagio's immediate right, "gonna second that. Stupid oriental snake-magic."

Sonata's jaw dropped, as did Aria's when she caught sight of Sonata. The three of them slooowly looked over themselves, finding that Aria and Sonata had been morphed into large serpents that resembled their hippocampus forms, both of them fused to Adagio's shoulders in place of her arms.

This time, only Aria and Sonata screamed, Adagio remaining in a stunned, silent state until the freak-out phase had died down to just frantic questioning, the two of them reducing it to incoherent cacophony by talking over each other. Then she started to smile.

"W-what," Sonata almost pleaded, "do you know something about this? 'Cuz if you're gonna do your magical-brainiac thing, now'd be great!"

"You two," Adagio breathed, "you're, you're both..."

Aria glanced around to see the book not far away, making the mental note that picking it up was probably going to leave a bad taste in someone's mouth. "Yeeeaaaa...?"

Their eldest sister (not by much, but still), their leader, and now their host grinned brightly as she went starry-eyed. "You're beautiful!"

Sharing a quick look, Aria and Sonata could see that their new faces were still expressive enough to convey their mutual thought:


Chapter 2: Living with Snake-arms!

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"Ah, uhm, I-I don't-"

"Shh," purred Adagio, "just relax, Aria, I'll take good care of you..."

"Th-that's kind of what I'm worri-EEP! S-stop that!"

"You're so soft-"


"-so smooth-"


"-so adorable!"

"Aahm! Q-quit it!!"

"And so... hehe, shiny!"

Adagio had moved to the couch as she admired her new appendages, paying particular attention to the lovely, gleaming luster of their scales, the way the light reflected off the curves of their sharp, but soft fins, and those deep, piercing eyes! This wasn't even accounting for their flappy little ears or touchable little antennae, cute little details that just made her want to squeeze them! She couldn't, because they were her arms now, but she could nuzzle them with her face, and nuzzle she did! Judging by her squirming and the blush (even through her scales), Aria didn't like it very much, but she was always a little shy when it came to affection.

"Uh, h-hey," muttered Sonata as she watched the cuddly spectacle from Adagio's left, "could I get some of that too?"

Artist's depiction:

Turning around, Adagio would have complied even if Sonata's flappy little ears weren't down as part of a pitiful, puppy-dog stare. "Oh, of course, c'mere!"

Released from her torment, Aria hung back as she watched the disgustingly intimate spectacle of Adagio tenderly nuzzling a giggly, welcoming Sonata-serpent. There was a joke she wanted to make, but not while she was one of Adagio's arms too. Instead, she looked at the book, which had been set on the nearby coffee table. Sonata hadn't made any kind of face when she picked it up in her teeth, but Aria was still a little anxious about the prospect of having to actually work as an arm. That in mind, they probably needed to look through it to get a better idea of what they were now, so she hoped to cajole one of the others into moving the pages for her.

"So, Adagio, looks like your scratches healed up after we merged."

This won Adagio's attention from her new favorite teddy-snake. "Scratches? What?"

She didn't even notice?! "Ehh, nevermind." Her eyes darted to the book. "Shouldn't we, like, be reading that now?"

"Oh, right." Adagio leaned forward a little before remembering she had no hands. She blinked twice, glancing back and forth between Aria and Sonata. "Umm...?"

Sonata smiled. "I got it!" She craned her neck outward, flipping the book open with the tip of her snout. Adagio practically squee'd, but quickly regained control of herself to begin reading.

"Hebi No Onna... Demonic snake-woman... Powers of manipulation? Well, I'm sure we'll find some way to use such a thing." Her arms giggling with fiendish delight drew a little smile as she went on. "Hypnosis, lesser invulnerability spell, may be useful, chaos and confusion, paralysis, ray of -turn the page, please?" Sonata acquiesced, making Adagio smile again. "Thank you. -ray of enfeeblement, seems redundant... ooh, teleportation!"

"Sweet," Aria said with a grin full of pointy teeth, "let's test some of this out!"

Adagio's enthusiasm was more tempered. "Most of these spells are for use on other beings, and I'd rather keep it that way. Invulnerability would be fine, but I'm less than eager to test it."

Sonata tilted her big, scaly head. "Why?"

As usual, Aria answered first. "Because we'd just be getting hurt for nothing if it didn't work, stupid."

As usual, Sonata scowled at her. "You're stupid!"

As wasn't always the case, Adagio broke it up. "Quiet! Teleportation may be the least risky," provided that I don't get melded into anything, "so we'll try that first."

Adagio stood up, took a few steps to the center of the room, and focused on the area of empty air in front of her... just a foot or so off the ground. She didn't see anything about incantations needing to be said, so she just focused. Closing her eyes and taking a slow breath, she felt the impact of a short fall on her feet as Aria and Sonata gave sudden cries of alarm, nearly stumbling with the unfamiliar weight of her disoriented snake-arms as they wavered about. She opened her eyes and grinned.

"We did it! We can teleport!" And then she noticed the others were looking away from her. "...What?"

Sonata was the first to face her, smiling sheepishly as her scales tinted pink. "Uhh, Dagi? I don't think teleport works all that great."

"Oh?" She looked back at the spot she'd teleported from, half-expecting to see body parts left behind. Instead, she only saw her clothes lying in a heap, not unlike Aria and Sonata's had been. Glancing down at herself, she found that there were apparently limits on what was included with the spell. She shrugged. "Acceptable losses."

Aria looked at her more out of shock than anything else. "WHAT?!"

"I'm fine like this. It's not too cold out, so-"

"Ohh, Hell no," the purple serpent said with a defiant head-shake, "you are not running around naked while we're attached to you!"

Sonata was suspiciously silent.

Adagio rolled her eyes, but chose to comply. It was probably too early to go drawing attention to themselves as going native inevitably would. Plus, y'know, snake-arms. "Alright, but I'm going to need help getting dressed again."


"...Well," Adagio thought aloud as she stared at the shredded remains of the bra on the floor, "to be honest, I'd have been amazed if you could put it on me properly the first time."

Aria looked squarely at the ground in shame. "Sorry..."

"It's fine," Adagio said with a chuckle, "not like I need to wear the damn things, right?" Even on her petite chest, bras were uncomfortable anyway, but she made the mental note that she probably wouldn't be wearing any of her more exquisite outfits any time soon.

"Still," giggled Sonata, "I didn't think you'd get it stuck in your teeth like that, Aria!" That won her a glare.

"You were supposed to hold it still, dammit!!"


A little later, they had settled on leaving Adagio in just a pink bathrobe (tying the sash nearly got Aria and Sonata tangled, but they worked through it) with her hair down, neither sapient limb willing to challenge that wild mane of hers with just their mouths. Adagio frowned when she noticed that her sleeves partly covered the gleaming scales, but Sonata brought something almost as important to her attention.

"Hey Dagi, I think you might be hungry."


"Is that what that is?" Aria craned her head to follow her own neck down to Adagio's torso. "We share a stomach now. Freaky."

Their host couldn't help agreeing a little; the idea of someone knowing how she felt without her telling them was unsettling. Just the same, she headed to the kitchen, where she looked over their options for dining without fingers. Cereal was fine for the early evening, right? It was while going through the motions of grabbing the nearest cereal box and fishing through the drawer for a spoon that Adagio noticed the muffled sounds of surprise from her new arms. Looking back and forth at them, the box between Aria's teeth and a spoon between Sonata's, she found that both of them were looking back at her, eyes wide with alarm before both dropped their respective burdens.

Aria looked somewhere between scared and angry. "What the Hell, Adagio?!"

Not particularly bothered by the spoon or the small spread of cinnamon flakes on the kitchen floor right now, she blinked twice. "What?"

"Y-you, you made us move!"

"It wasn't on purpose."

"That does not make it better!" Aria wasn't exactly enjoying this to start, but having what little of her body was left hijacked like that? By Adagio? She wasn't sure those snake-lady powers were gonna be worth it.

Adagio gave Aria and Sonata appraising looks with a hint of a smirk. "I can exert direct control over you two? That would have been useful when we had our own bodies."

Aria scowled. "Bite me."

"And risk leaving a mark on these scales?" She gave Aria an affectionate nuzzle, her voice equally gentle. "Never."

Blushing again, Aria glanced around for a distraction and quickly found one. "Uhh... Sonata? Are you eating off the floor?"

She was, but the kitchen floor looked pretty clean to her and it was a shame to let perfectly good cinnamon flakes go to waste, so much so that she didn't stop even as the other two stared at her in silence. If Adagio had any objections to raise, she kept them to herself in favor of watching with an almost adoring smile.

She's even using her little tongue! So cute!

It was at this point that Aria might ordinarily have facepalmed, but, well... Anyway, as long as Adagio didn't start making them eat out of bowls, she was alright with this. She got her turn to eat with her new mouth by stretching her neck out to the fridge, biting the door open, and seizing one of those juice-pouch things in her teeth. Gripping it delicately, she tilted her head backward and bit down just hard enough to puncture the skin of the pouch. Drinking the juice as it bled from the pouch appealed to something in the back of her head, something primal that made her think of a mighty beast draining the blood from a lesser animal it had caught. When the pouch was dry and her(their?) thirst quenched, Aria spat the remains at the trash can, smiling with satisfaction as it landed neatly inside. She looked back to the others to find Adagio giving her a wide, starry-eyed grin.

"That, was, magnificent!"

Even with a maw of sharp fangs, Aria found herself capable of proud smirks. "Hah, thanks." A thought struck her. "So, if we've got magic now, any chance you can fix the gems?"

Adagio chuckled. "Doubtful. Power or no power, none of what I saw in the book related to mending fractal, crystalized glyph-networks, and without fingers with which to do the delicate work, I may actually be in less of a position to repair them."

Sonata, looked up to comment, but had the cereal box she'd been eating from stuck on her head. "...Little help?"

Rolling her eyes as Adagio giggled merrily at the sight, Aria nabbed the now-empty box in her jaws and flung it off her idiot sister's head. She was slightly annoyed that that one only ricocheted off the rim of the trashcan. Regardless, Sonata smiled.

"Thanks. Anywho, it doesn't really matter now, right? 'Cuz we've pretty much got our old magic plus instant-sexytime-teleport?"

Again, Aria would have facepalmed.

"We may be able to work something out with what's left of the gems some day," answered Adagio, "but for now, let's focus on what we've got." She glanced at the nearby clock. "Starting tomorrow morning."

And with that, they headed to bed in Adagio's room. It was a big, round bed, so they had plenty of room for the three(?) of them.


Pressure. Deep, crushing pressure, the feeling of being flattened under an unbearable burden, of one's very soul being tightly compacted in pitch darkness. Soft, fuzzy darkness. This was what Aria felt until she shook her head to throw off the fluff that hung over her eyes while her new form lay in Adagio's bed. Looking around, she found the reason to be that she was pinned behind Adagio as she lay on her side, trapped under Adagio's hips, barely able to move more than a foot of her serpentine neck.

Did she roll over on me in her sleep? Her bed's still soft, but I think I'm losing circulation here.

"Adagio. Pssst! Adagio!"

She couldn't see if Adagio even stirred from this angle, nor could she move enough to get a better look. She squirmed and struggled for another minute before groaning with exasperation.

"Hey, Adagio! Sonata! Either of you awake?"

Neither responded and the pressure really was getting bad. Aria had woken up to be met with that needle-y, tingly feeling that came when you slept on a limb before, and didn't want to find out what that could do to her brain. Increasingly desperate, she got Adagio's attention in the only way she knew how at the time: Craning her neck around, baring her new set of sharp, pointy teeth, and introducing them to the nearest bulge.

Adagio was jolted awake by a prickly pain in her posterior. "OUCH!!" Sitting up and glancing about in a daze, she could barely make out her new arms looking back at her in the dark.

"Whuh," muttered Sonata, her eyes barely open "wuz happen...?"

Aria, however, looked very sheepish, hesitant to meet her eyes.

"Aria? Is something wrong?" Looking as though she were expecting to be punished, her answer came all at once.


Taking a second to decipher that, Adagio chuckled. "Aww," she said with a sympathetic smile, "poor thing. Was I too heavy?" She didn't get an answer, but she leaned over to kiss Aria's forehead anyway, which drew an adorably plaintive little noise. Even with what little light came in through the window, she was sure Aria was blushing again. "I'm sorry. I'll try sleeping on my stomach from now on, alright?"

A little later, Aria found herself lying next to Sonata in the big, super-soft, tangerine-scented heap of orange hair Adagio presented as she lie face-down. This didn't fully eliminate the chance of being crushed in her sleep, but there were, Aria conceded, possible advantages to sharing a bed with their excessively fluffy leader.

...But not like that! Ugh, why brain, why?

Not helping at all was when Aria noticed the fact that Adagio didn't complain about the method used to wake her...


When morning came, Aria felt a flash of panic, a number of thoughts hitting her in a quarter of a second.

Work!! I gotta be there by seven! I can't wear the uniform like this! Does Adagio know where to go?! What'll my supervisor say when he sees this?! He's such an uptight jerk I just wanna tear his throat out!!

Then she remembered that they had magic of some kind again, and probably wouldn't need the money that much. Her stress alleviated, she contentedly sank back down into Adagio's fluff until it started to stir. Aria moved herself upward to get out of rolling-over range when Adagio shifted, spastically shaking for a few seconds in what may have been a hypnic jerk, then quickly sitting up and looking around as though confused.

"Uh... You okay there, Dagi?"

Her head whipping in the direction of the voice, Adagio realized that getting out of bed was just slightly harder with snake-arms. "I'm... fine? Just..." She glanced at Sonata, who continued to doze limply on the bed. Adagio tried to exert enough control to shake her awake, but couldn't get more than an odd, heavy, numb sensation out of her. She snorted, which quickly shifted to quiet giggles.

"What," inquired Aria, "she gone more brain-dead?"

"No," chortled Adagio, "j-just, hehehe! My arm's asleep!"

Even if she smiled a little, Aria rolled her eyes. It was time to get this freakshow on the road, so she leaned over, positioned her mouth by Sonata's head, took a deep breath, and shouted. "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE UP!!"

She was rewarded with Sonata letting out a startled shriek and flailing upwards as though Adagio were uppercutting an invisible ninja, though it quickly devolved into erratic shaking as Sonata's brain warmed up.

"Man," muttered Sonata as she blinked the sleep from her eyes, "worst alarm clock ever."

Shortly after, the Dazzlings (Dazzling?) were up and heading to the living room to continue with the book, but Adagio suddenly stopped at the same time Aria and Sonata felt a weird little jolt.

"Uh, h-hey, Dagi? What-"

Not letting her finish the question, Adagio bolted to the living room, seizing control of her arms to quickly, but carefully flip through the book herself, despite the muffled protests as she scanned each page. Aria took her opportunity at the first pause.

"Hey, what gives?!" It was then that she noticed the panicked look on Adagio's face, in addition to the beads of sweat.

"Change back," she said without taking her eyes off the page, "I'm trying to find how to change back, help me look!!"

"Why? What's the big-" She and Sonata felt that little jolt again, Aria's eyes widening as she realized what it was.

Ohh, no.

Aria joined the reversion-spell search with fervor. "Index, ch-check the index!!"

"I tried, this book doesn't have one!!"

"What," Sonata asked with a head-tilt, "what's going on? And what's this funny gut-tingly mean?"

Not looking away as she turned the next page herself, Aria glared at the book like everything was its fault. "I don't see anything!" It wasn't a very thick book, and they were quickly running out of pages to frantically skim over.

While they were at it, Sonata angrily pouted. She did NOT like being ignored! She craned her neck around, rested the tip of her muzzle against the side of the book, and flipped it shut, which won her a noise of alarm from Adagio and a glare from Aria.

"What the Hell are you doing?!"

"What the Hell are you guys doing?! What's the big dea-ack!" They felt the jolt again, at slightly greater intensity than before. Sonata frowned at Adagio. "What's going on? What's wrong with us?"

Adagio shrunk down, attempting to hide behind her hair as she muttered under her breath.

"What?" Maneuvering her head to see around the fluff, she found their host flushed crimson.

"I, said, I-I have to pee!"

There was a short silence as Adagio sat with tightly crossed legs. Sonata blinked slowly. "So?"

Aria groaned. "Think about it, stupid!!" She got a scowl back.

"What, she just has to go to the bathr-" The last fish-horse-snake crossed the finish line. "Oh. Ohhhhh... Hoo, boy."

They looked through the book as best they could over the next fifteen minutes, but didn't see anything about how to undo the transormation. There was plenty on how they changed in the first place; a blood sacrifice from one of three high-born sisters (lucky them!) to merge their bodies and create the snake-woman, but nothing whatsoever on how to turn them back. Eventually, Adagio stood up, swore, and charged off to the restroom.


When they stepped out, it was in a tired, defeated trudge. Aria and Sonata's heads hung low to avoid looking their host in the eye, if only to give her what space they could. Mortified, Adagio stood in silence, just trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered dignity. It was while racking her brain over how she'd ever command the respect of her sisters again, and make it clear that she still respected them, that Aria spoke up.

"So," she said in surprisingly casual tones, "that was pretty awkward, huh guys?"

Sonata blinked, then let out a short laugh of surprise. "Yep! That might be pretty hard to get used to!"

The two of them giggling together over what was arguably the most embarrassing, most uncomfortable moment of her life, Adagio remained silent. Despite the luminous blush that accompanied her wounded pride, she started to smile. She'd have thought they'd at least be angry or indignant with her for a while after that, but if they could shake this off so easily, maybe she could too. Still...

"Uh... s-sorr-"

"Don't sweat it," Aria cut her off, not letting Adagio dwell for another second, "can we get back to the book? I think I saw something about servants in there."

"Oh? What page?" Her shame hadn't vanished entirely, but for now, she tried to focus on the benefits of their new status as they went back to the living room.

Chapter 3: Servants and Snake-arms!

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About an hour later, Aria had gotten a good groove going for turning pages with the tip of her snout, though she wasn't quite down with the It's Nuzzlin' Time face Adagio kept making when she did. The urge was restrained, but the threat was still very real. It had almost happened once already, but Adagio's stomach rumbling again led them to the kitchen. It turned out that making toast was easy enough for them, or at least, hunger gave Sonata some kind of boost to dexterity.

Aria kind of wanted to roll a thief in that game now, but she doubted any of them could even pick up a character sheet without tearing through it.

Anyway, they again sat in the living room, Aria turning pages and Sonata happily consuming a plate of dry toast. They were going to need more juice pouches soon.

"Servants," grumbled Adagio, more than a hint of a blush on her frustrated face, "we were supposed to go looking for servants right away to help with... things." She glanced at Aria and groaned. "I know, I know, it's my own fault for fawning over you two instead of getting straight to work with the book."

Frowning a little, Aria rolled the thought around in her head. "Well, don't beat yourself up. Even if we got some brain-slaves right away, I don't think it'd make much difference." When Adagio looked back at her in confusion, she flicked a back-fin upward, the equivalent of a shrug. "I mean, even if you had somebody else there, we'd still be attached to you when you needed to go."

Adagio sat wide-eyed for a moment, then slammed Aria's face against her own forehead.

"OW! Don't beat me up either!!"

"S-sorry," stammered Adagio, barely feeling the red mark on her own head, "I usually facepalm with my right hand! Here, I'll kiss it better!" Not waiting for a reply, she immediately kissed Aria's head several times, drawing another scaly blush.

"Gah, s-sto-q-, I'm fine, I'm fine, quit it!"

Apologetic though she was for the accidental headbutt, Adagio couldn't help a little smile at Aria's flustered expression. "You know, I can't decide whether you're cuter when you're angry or-" She was cut off by a loud belch from her own mouth, which left her and Aria in stunned, perplexed silence. They looked at Sonata, who licked her fangs over the crumb-covered plate. She looked back at them, the three of them looked down at their shared stomach, connected the dots, and giggled like schoolgirls.

"So," asked Sonata, "what're we doing with our new magic first?"

"Revenge, of course," answered Aria, "we hop a bus back to CHS and make every one of those cheating bitches lick the dirt we wa- err... well, lick the dirt Adagio walks on!"

"No," amended Adagio, "we-" She was cut off by Sonata blowing raspberries.

"That sounds boring! I'd rather be licking free snow-cones! All the free snow-cones!"

Aria rolled her eyes. "We can pig out when we've got the Rainbooms wallowing in mud naked for everyone to point and laugh at for our amusement, like pigs!!"

"Ooh, on second thought, I want bacon!"

Shaking her head, Adagio tried to maintain order. "The first thing we should do is-"

"Payback," shouted Aria, looking squarely at Sonata. Sonata responded in kind.

"Screw that! The whole reason we tried to get so much power was to do whatever we wanted, so let's just do that!"

"The Rainbooms'll just show up and stop us again if we do that, stupid!"

Adagio raised an eyebrow. "Girls?"

"We'll just get 'em when they show up, or move somewhere far away and be boss of our own city!"

"They'll follow us, they're too high on their Hero High-Horse not to!"


"Then we'll have the home-field advantage! Problem solved!"

"That doesn't even make any-"



Raspberries were blown and things continued in the usual fashion, but at amplified volume with the two heads much closer than usual to Adagio's ears. She tried exerting control and shaking them both, but they just kept at it.

I remember now; they were always harder to break up before they had each others' hair to pull, have a short-lived endurance contest, and call a truce until the next time. I miss my scales, but perhaps there were merits to being human after all?

Regardless, she stood up as the argument continued, looked around for a means of silencing her bickering appendages, and spied a pair of dirty socks that had been left out again. She exerted control, quickly thrust Aria and Sonata's heads toward the socks, and scooped both up in such a manner as to make muzzles out of them; one for each mouth. This granted her a second of peace before both heads registered the stench now covering their mouths and noses. Sonata tried to push her sock (it was indeed one of her socks) off with the tip of her tongue... with predictable results, by the enhanced look of anguish in her eyes. Their expressions and the pained, muffled complaints suggested that Adagio had found her new means of punishment.

"Now then," she said with a sweet smile, "whose body is this?" She had hoped to enforce the points she was about to make by dragging things out a bit, but both snake-arms turning to her at once with wide, watery eyes was like a sucker-punch to her heart.

Those puppy-dog stares, the ears folding back, the drooping antennae, I can practically see their pouting lips! Too cute! Too cute!!

"W-well," she quietly stammered, moving Aria and Sonata's necks to brush the socks off of each mouth, "I'm sure you've learned your lesson."

All but gagging, Aria shook her head, those lovely eyes now looking back at their host with pained betrayal. "That was just cruel, even for you."

"ShutthefuckupAria," Sonata loud-whispered through clenched teeth before looking at Adagio with a wide, panicked smile, "Yea, totally, lesson learned, haha! We'll be super good, promise!" The smile cracked. "Please don't do that again."

While aware that Sonata rarely remembered her promises, this was still a harsher lesson than Adagio had intended, something she would have to discreetly make up for later. For now, she maintained as authoritative a voice as she could manage. "Just as long as you two behave." She got two slightly nervous looks, but there were no objections, so she paced back to the tome on the table. "Now then, the primary method of acquiring servants is to employ that hypnosis power, which might actually be faster than singing. What say we go give that a try?"

"Right on," said Aria with a vicious grin, "can't wait to make people do what we say again!"

Adagio was halfway to the door when Sonata got her attention.

"Uhm... Are we really going out in just a bathrobe?"

Aria and Adagio glanced down, the latter raising an eyebrow. "Well, what can we do? I'm still mostly covered like this, so-"

"We could at least put on something a little baggier," Aria said noncommittally, "just something that covers me and Sonata up a bit more?"

Weighing her options for a moment, Adagio was forced to admit that going out with unconcealed snake-arms right away still wasn't in their best interest. She sighed. "Well, what do you propose?"

Aria's back fin flicked upward. "I've got a baggy hoodie with pretty long sleeves, that oughta cover us up pretty good."

They went to Aria's room, Adagio letting Aria's outstretched neck act as a beautiful, living dowsing rod to lead her to the garment in question. She slipped off the bathrobe, let the others slither into the hoodie, and help pull it over her head. The frumpy, grey hoodie wasn't the most flattering thing she'd ever worn, but it covered enough of her body to work as a full shirt and miniskirt. However, long though the sleeves were, they weren't long enough to cover Aria and Sonata from shoulder to snout, which left them back at square one.

"Ooh," Sonata said with a smile, "idea!" She moved over to whisper into Aria's ear, drawing little chuckles as Adagio raised an eyebrow.

"What? What do you have in mind?"

Giggling, they retracted into their respective sleeves, a portion of their necks coiling up in the torso of the hoodie, making Adagio shiver as their smooth scales brushed against her bare skin.

"H-hey! Watch what you're-ooh!" She felt herself blush, looking down to see two large, bulbous lumps over her chest. Aria's full-body mirror helped her put things in perspective; that her arms had pulled themselves into the hoodie and bundled up in just such a way as to make it look like she now had a pair of massive breasts. Hearing them giggle from within the sleeves, she had to clench her jaw to not join them. "Cute, you two. Very cute." They laughed a little louder, but she just smiled and shook her head. "If that's that, then-"

"Wait," demanded Aria, whose head poked out of her sleeve, "don't you need, y'know, pants?"

Adagio glanced down. "The 'indecent' bits are covered, what's the problem?"

"Ooh," chirped Sonata, momentarily popping out of her sleeve to grab a pair of Aria's carelessly discarded pants in her teeth, "puh theesh on!"

Their host paled. "Oh, absolutely not!!"

This made Aria a little defensive. "H-hey, what's wrong with my pants?"

She got a slight scowl. "Even if I weren't much wider than you," she said with a meaningful hip-sway, "I sincerely worry about your circulation sometimes."

"Pfft. They aren't that tight."

"On me, they would be!"

Sonata's stare was almost lecherous. "Yea they would." The two slightly perturbed stares snapped her out of it. "What? Picking outfits might be a little harder now, but at least we got to keep Dagi's great ass!"

Adagio raised an eyebrow. "You're part of my body now too, you know."

She smiled almost proudly. "Doesn't mean I can't appreciate it!"

Aria, for her part, averted her eyes and refused to comment. She knew they were siblings, she knew Sonata knew they were siblings, but what she knew best was that pointing it out just wasn't worth the headache. No amount of 'Shut up, Sonata!' was worth having to sit through twenty minutes of 'We can't actually make babies, so-' this or 'Sexy is still Sexy,' that, so she was grateful when Adagio shrugged dismissively and moved on.

"Maybe we could just wear a pair of my own pants. Are either of you feeling confident about working a belt?" Two head-shakes. "Well, I'm sure we'll find something."

Ten minutes later, Adagio found herself in the strange combination of a baggy, grey hoodie, a soft-pink, ankle-length skirt, and a pair of sandals. For the time being, it was the best they could do, so she got a little help drawing the hood up and getting the book into a pocket, then set off to find their first mind-slave. They wandered the streets for a while, getting a few odd looks even while Aria and Sonata remained in their sleeves. It may have been the way they were dressed, and it may have been the sizable bulges in Adagio's hoodie, lightly bobbing with every step, but they didn't stop to ask anyone. Instead, Adagio (the only one of the three whose eyes weren't covered) searched for someone by themselves, someone they could focus on alone without worry of interference.

"Y'know," whispered Aria, "it just hit me that we didn't take a shower this morning."

Adagio answered without stopping to look into Aria's sleeve. "I'm sorry, did you want to rub yourselves over every inch of my body with soap in your mouths?"

There was no further discussion on the matter.

Before long, she spotted a pinkish girl with wild, green hair, dressed in a dark, reddish-purple school uniform and a plaid skirt. She moved carelessly down the street, eyes closed and head bobbing along to the beat only she could hear through her pink headphones. The sight of her made Adagio grit her teeth, remembering the girl that had, out of nowhere, appeared precisely when she was needed with precisely what was needed to stop them at the Battle. This likeness would be a fitting first victim.

She followed the girl until she turned down a path away from the road, not quite an alley, but definitely an area with little chance of witnesses. No one else was around.

"Excuse me, Miss," she called out, not even surprised that the girl either didn't hear her or didn't care. Walking faster, she moved beside the girl and stuck out a leg to trip her.

"WOH-OAH," the Crystal Prep student cried out as she fell forward, but instead of face-planting on the pavement, she stopped herself with both hands flat on the floor, transitioning to an unbalanced hand-stand. She wobbled back and forth for a moment, blushed as her skirt fell, then landed flat on her back with a grunt. She stared up at the sky in a daze until a strange figure loomed over her. In the stranger's wicked smile, she saw long, snake-like fangs.

"Woah," she breathed, "metal. Where'd you get-"

Adagio wasted no time, focusing her will to dominate by boring into the girl's yellow eyes with her own. It was with a modicum of satisfaction that she noted that her headphones had been jostled off of one ear during her fall. "Look me in the eye," she commanded, feeling the energy well up in her chest (unrelated to the two lumps of snake-arm), "you will now serve me, you will obey my every whim, you are a tool for me to do with as I see fit."

The girl looked up at her, wide-eyed, but otherwise expressionless. "'Kay."

The snake-woman blinked twice, but Sonata popped out of her sleeve to say it for her. "What, seriously?"

At that, their first servant expressed shock, leaping up and unconsciously brushing her skirt back down as she beheld the creature coming out of the stranger's sleeve.

"Hold," the human head demanded, her tone harsh, "you will not run, you will not scream. Understand?"

She indeed did neither of those things, but she did raise an arm to point at Sonata. "You got a talkin' eel!" It was more like a fishy snake-thing, but still!

There was a moment of audible silence as Adagio processed the statement. "Y...Yes. Yes, I do. Two, actually."

Aria took her cue, popping out and lightly shaking her head. "Man, that's a crick in the neck."

Slave #1's jaw dropped as she raised the other hand to point at Aria. Adagio chuckled at this. "Magnificent, are they not? Count yourself in high fortune, for from this day onward, these beautiful creatures will be among those you call 'Master.'" Her malicious smile slowly slipped away as the girl continued to gawk, pointing at random heads with both arms. "...What?!"

"You got two talkin' eels! I haven't seen anything this freaky since the Friendship Games!"

Artist's depiction:

Three heads exchanged a look, Adagio raising an eyebrow. "You've seen something like this before?"

"Yea," nodded Green-Hair, "there was this girl with a fancy doo-dad that went all-" she pumped one fist in the air before miming a guitar solo, "-WICKED FLYING RAVEN-CHICK, Deedlenerneedlerneedlerneerooo!!"

There was another pause. Aria cocked her head a little. "I can't tell, is this one bewitched or just another nutcase?"

"Very good question," intoned Adagio, who was having second thoughts about her first choice in mind-slaves. "Servant, you have no qualms about fulfilling our every wish?"

The girl chuckled. "Nah, it's pretty much the same back home. 'Go here, Lemon, do this, Lemon, wear that, Lemon.' But, hey," she said with a shrug, "all the wealthy families are like that, right?" Her words came without resentment or bitterness, but carried an air of tired acceptance.

She is used to being servile, thought Adagio as she focused for another dose of hypnotic snake-woman magic, I can work with that.

"You will obey only me and my sis-... arms... until the day I decide you no longer needed. Do you understand?" This time, she saw a clear effect in Lemon's eyes; momentarily widening as they flickered with red. This would have been the point where Adagio started laughing maniacally, but Sonata (adorably) tapped her on the shoulder with her chin, instead drawing a little smile. "What is it, Sonata?"

"Can you order her to get us a mirror?"


Aria looked just slightly uncomfortable. "Yea. Seconding that. I thought you were scary before..."

"Why, what-" She noticed Lemon holding a pocket mirror very close to her face. Then she saw her own red-violet eyes, the pupils now morphed into sharpened slits resembling those of a snake. "Ooooh," she cooed, equally pleased to have fangs again, "that's a welcome change! Do you think I'll get my own scales back, too?"

Sonata flicked her back fin upward. "I'unno, I kinda like you better fuzzy." She was startled by Adagio's head immediately snapping in her direction.

"Only because you were blessed with the likeness of our old bodies," she hissed, "will I not slap you for that blasphemy." There was a pause as she took in the wide-eyed stares of her arms. "...And, y'know. No hands."

Aria bit the edge of Adagio's hood to pull it back and reveal her hair. "Is it really that bad?"

"YES," she groaned in exasperation, "the bangs are the only part I bother brushing, and even then it's strictly to keep them off my face!" Shoulders drooping, she let out a sigh. "I know, I know, it's soft and warm when it needs to be, not as heavy as you might think when it's wet, but, still...?"

"You miss having scales," came Sonata's guess, "not just because yours were super golden and shiny, but for that pretty-much-invincible thing we had going back home? That was half the reason the pony wizard guy couldn't touch us, right?"

Adagio didn't answer, instead staring listlessly up at the sky. "...Why don't you two ever miss our old bodies? Since we got here, I haven't heard either of you complain about it even once, no matter how much I rant and rave on the subject."

Despite feeling that something was out of place with that question while the two of them were snake-things welded to Adagio's shoulders, Aria did her best to answer. "I'unno. This world kinda sucks in a lot of ways, but once you get over the total lack of magic? Having hair and fingers ain't all that bad."

"Yea," added Sonata, "and like, hugging feels a lot better in these bodies, right? All soft and warm? We might'a been untouchable before, but sometimes touching is nice, y'know?"

Remembering recent nuzzles, their host chuckled. "I suppose." She looked away from the dozy clouds overhead to focus on her twin snake sisters with a little smile. "If you two can let that go, perhaps I can too."

Aria and Sonata smiled back, lightly wrapping around Adagio in some kind of bizarre, three-person self-hug. Then all three of them were startled by the voice of their servant.


Pretending not to have forgotten she was standing there, Adagio looked squarely at AlreadyForgotHerName to find her wearing a wide, cheerful smile. "Err... I don't think I've properly introduced us yet, my name is Adagio Dazzle," she held up Aria, "Aria Blaze," then Sonata, "and Sonata Dusk. I could come up with my own designation for you, bu-" A sudden gust of wind made Adagio shiver and squeak in surprise, earning her no small amount of embarrassment when her arms turned to her with confused stares. Their new servant giggled.

"Goin' commando, huh? I wouldn't do it in school, if I were you, but don't worry, you get used to the breeze eventually."

"N-noted," Adagio muttered through clenched teeth and a rosy blush. On the bright side, she remembered her first order. "You will accompany me to the nearest tailor to find something suitable for my sisters and I, starting now."

"Sure thing," she said while turning to lead, "just follow me. Name's Lemon Zest, by the way!"

Aria and Sonata pulled Adagio's hood back up and retreated back into their sleeves (thus returning Adagio's comical torso endowments) as they followed Lemon. On the way, Aria whispered from within her sleeve.

"So... If you're really getting over the scales thing... does that mean you'll quit with the face-rubbing?"

Adagio chuckled. "Ohh, Aria..." She quickly exerted control to lift Aria enough to be able to nuzzle her head through the sleeve. "Of course not~!"

Chapter 4: Stress and Snake-arms!

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There were certain drawbacks to spending so much time living like an obsessive recluse. Adagio had known that going in, but she had deemed the risks well worth the time it would take to fix their gems. Now, she found herself with no knowledge of the city's layout, barely having walked around the block after they relocated. She had no idea where to go, but that didn't mean she had to say it out loud. Luckily, Lemon Zest was already doing a remarkable job of proving her worth as a servant of the sirens by taking them straight to the mall.

"-and most of the fancier shops are on the second floor, but they haven't had any quality merch in months. So, what kinda style you guys goin' for?"

As much as she'd have liked to answer 'anything sleeveless,' Adagio knew that it was still too early. She may have (may have) eventually hypnotized one person, but couldn't say how effective it would be against multiple targets. "Find us somewhere away from prying eyes, we'll look for fashion tips in the book."

Lemon tilted her head a little. "Book?"

Aria lifted her head enough to peek out of her sleeve. "We came with a manual," she deadpanned, "just get us somewhere with nobody around."

Moments later, they found themselves in a bathroom in a far corner of the mall, where nearby stores weren't popular enough to earn it much traffic. Doing her best not to even look at the stalls, Adagio stood in front of a counter by the sinks, where Sonata fished the book from her hoodie pocket and set it down.

"Alright," their host began, "if this tome tells us half of what we should know, some kind of wardrobe should be included." She let Sonata turn the pages, keeping an eye on Lemon as much to make sure she didn't try anything if their spell wore off as to keep herself from getting distracted by the way pages were turned with adorable little snout-flips. Before long, they came upon a page depicting a snake-armed woman in a strange garment, though with more detail given on the constitution of the fabric and specific accessories to wear than the outfit itself. Aria was the first to voice their shared question.

"What... what is that thing? Looks kinda like a tight bathrobe."

"Kimono," answered Lemon, "you don't really see a lot of 'em around here, but they're still a regular item for certain traditional families."

Adagio raised an eyebrow. "Are we in such fortune that your own lineage is so inclined?"

Lemon blinked. "Lineage... that's the word granddad uses when he means-" then she smiled, "-wait, yea!"

Riveting as it might have been to hear Adagio and Lemon hash out details, Aria paid more attention Sonata's muzzle brushing against the base of her neck, the serpentine equivalent of being tapped on the shoulder. That, or Sonata was feeling frisky, but Aria firmly leaned toward the former. With a directive nod from Sonata, they moved to whisper behind Adagio's back.

"Aria? Why does Dagi talk all different sometimes?"

"Whaddya mean?"

"Like, right now, all fancy-lady-serious-like! She never talks to us that way!"

Aria rolled her eyes. "Between wanting to look and sound like the queen of the world when talking to her subjects, all that time she spent cooped up in her room thinking about making everyone bow to her again, that she usually narrated the bad guys for that game with the books when we could tear her away from the gems for a while, and that she's pretty much always just loved being a supervillain? Take your pick."

"Making up for lost time, huh?"


They rejoined the discussion to find Adagio looking skeptical.

"And, sleeves?"

"Might work out easier than you'd think."

"Hm..." She glanced at the image in the book again. "I'm not ecstatic about the design, but it definitely looks better than what we have now." Aria and Sonata were held where she could see both of them at once. "What do you think?"

"I'unno," Aria said with a fin-flick, "looks like it'd cover us up pretty good. It doesn't have to be all flowery like that one, though, right?"

Sonata beamed. "Let's get a pink one! With big, shiny ribbons!"

Aria scowled at her. "Ick. Could you at least try to remember that we're supposed to be bad guys?"

"So? Doesn't mean we can't look pretty!"

"Pretty's for princesses, let's get something with spikes!"

A single icecube formed in the depths of Hell. "Ooh, great idea! Let's get a pink, spiky kimomomm-... Wrappy-dress thing!"

"Black with spikes!"




Adagio shook them both. "Quiet!!" To her equal surprise and gratification, they both settled down immediately, even though there were no socks nearby to threaten them with. She turned to their patient servant. "Lemon Zest, where can we find these... kimono garments?"

Lemon smiled. "Third floor!"


"It's... Well, it fits, at least."

Adagio now stood before a full-length mirror in a changing room of the shop dealing in foreign clothing. Lemon Zest had proven surprisingly knowledgeable about far-eastern attire, her family apparently being of the culture themselves, but Adagio was not thrilled about the kimono she had helped them into. It wasn't the color that bothered her, even if Sonata seemed a little sour that the first one they tried on was a dark-purple thing with black trim. They'd eventually settled on having two kimonos and doing a coin-toss every morning to decide whether they'd wear the one they had on now, or a much brighter, pink one with white trims that day. Her sisters' competitive streak against each other was confusing at the best of times, but it was something Adagio indulged just to get some peace sooner.

Anyway, what bothered her was that the robe was tight in ways that restricted her movement, even after having Lemon double-check that it was donned correctly. She was sure that if she tried to run in the damn thing, the sash would come undone or she'd fall on her face! Ordinarily, she might have insisted on scrapping the book's suggestions altogether, but the sleeves, almost dragging on the ground, did a lot to conceal Aria and Sonata in a way that both found comfortable, Aria even likening it to being wrapped in a soft blanket. She did her best to hide her displeasure with the outfit by focusing on something else... The book!

The picture they first saw a kimono in depicted a fair-looking woman, though her serpents paled in comparison to the two now grafted to Adagio's shoulders. There were trinkets and charms and what might have been jewelry on her outfit, but they needed help with getting dressed at it was, and nothing they could find would be a match for the genuine article of arcane cryst-

"Uh... D-Dagi? You feeling okay?"

She snapped to attention to find both arms staring at her. "What?"

Aria tilted her head a little. "You looked sorta..." She glanced at the book, as if to glean clues from it, "bummed out, I guess. Something you wanna share?"

You idiot, she chided herself, you're worrying them over nothing. This is a good day, start acting like it!

Refreshing the thought that they had some measure of real magical power again, Adagio managed a sincere smile. "Nothing important. What matters now is what we do with our newfound power." It pleased her greatly that there were no stupid exclamations right away. "What I had in mind was building that power further, starting with amassing a workforce. In other words-"

"More slaves," Aria cut her off, grinning wickedly, "what are we waitin' for?"

"Patience," tittered Adagio, "we can't just go rewriting peoples' wills left and rig-"

"Do you girls need any help back here?"

Four heads whipped in the direction of a fifth; a pink girl with dark, curly, purple hair. Judging by her clothing, she worked here. Judging by the way her yellow eyes widened as she beheld the snake-woman, they had maybe five seconds before she screamed. Adagio wasted no time.

"Be still," she commanded with a tinge of seductive purr in her voice, "you now stand in the company of your new masters. Until you are released, you will fulfill our every whim without hesitation or complaint. Do you understand?"

The effect this time was much clearer as the girl's irises momentarily glowed red, her jaw slackening and her posture slipping to a sleepy slouch. Then she smiled. "Y-yes," she said almost dreamily, "I would love to serve you."

Grinning with fiendish delight, Adagio let out a haughty chuckle. "Excellent." She glanced over her shoulder at the other kimono Lemon had retrieved. "You are now a pack mule, Miss...?"

"Suri Pol-"

"Whatever," barked Sonata, "just get our bags!" Suri obeyed, which gave her a tingle of delight, like the first lick of a candy cane! Then she noticed Aria and Adagio giving her perplexed stares, which gave her a tingle of something she didn't like, like the first lick of a pickle. She frowned. "I don't wanna memorize tons of names." Adagio was giving her that I'mma-nuzzle-you smile again, which sent her back to Candy Cane status.

"Very well," she said with a giggle, "just leave the important details to me."

And then she noticed a silence. An odd silence. The feeling of the thing was there, but not the words. She turned to look at Aria, who seemed startled when she did.

"Uhh... Well, I was gonna say, like, 'thought you said we shouldn't just brainwash people left and right,' but she-" there was a nod in Suri's direction, "-kinda snuck up on us there. So, what now?"

"Well, as I was saying before, we can't just go hypnotizing everyone we meet, bu-"

"Miss Polomare, are you back here? You'd better not be chatting up customers agai-..."


"Cities have a lotta people in 'em, huh?"

"Astute observation, Sonata."

Their powers of hypnosis did indeed prove effective against multiple targets at once, because the sirens now stood in the front room of the store before eight hypnotized people, not counting Lemon. Well, probably not counting Lemon, because Adagio couldn't help but notice the difference in her behavior as compared to the rest of the smiling, dopey-faced minions. Maybe it was just that Lemon was conditioned already by her strict family? Or, did the way Adagio gave her orders prior to pulling off any actual mind-altering magic have something to do with it? Could it be that, with the way Suri, her manager, and the other six that spotted them when they moved out of the changing room for some breathing space were quickly dominated, they were just more affected? She thought of reinforcing the spell on Lemon, but didn't want to risk reducing her to a slobbering puppy.

"Aria? Sonata? You know I hate to sheathe your beauty from the world, but I'm going to have to ask you to stay in your sleeves for a while."

"G-got it," muttered Aria as she retreated into the folds of the eastern robe, as much for the order as to hide a blush. Those words just weren't right coming from her sister!

Sonata was a little more hesitant to go back to Adagio's side like a regular, if elongated arm, but at least the next person that wandered by wouldn't be added to the servant ranks before the sirens were prepared.

"Alright," Adagio thought aloud, "now what to do with all of you?" There wasn't really room for so many people in their apartment, so this was already getting out of control. "Lemon Zest, where can a party of ten congregate without arousing suspicion?"

Lemon tilting her head had less to do with her incomplete indoctrination, more to do with her incomplete vocabulary. "Huh?"

Aria answered without showing herself. "She means, where can we go without it looking weird? It'd be kinda cramped at our place."

"Oh. Food court's got some tables with plenty'a chairs, and the spa on the second floor is pretty spacious. Other that, it ain't too weird to see people just standing around talking out in the walkways."

"Ooh," chirped Sonata, "can we go to the spa? Hanging down like this is kinda making my neck stiff!"

Smiling again, Adagio looked to her right sleeve. "Aria?"

"Uhh... Yea, I'll second that. I mean, staying upright is kinda tiring too after a little while."

Adagio nodded. After these last few months, the three of them really could do with some pampering...


When they arrived at the spa, a slip-up from Sonata ended with five additional mind-slaves, which didn't quite set Adagio's mind at ease. She tried to stay calm as the new servants (with Lemon's guidance) helped her out of the kimono and into a bathrobe, but with a total of fourteen people to now look after, half a clue where they'd go after this, and the increasing threat of the Rainbooms catching wind of their growing entourage, the stress kept her pacing the floor for several minutes. Her thoughts were arrested by Aria talking from within her sleeve.

"Uh, l-look, Adagio? Can you like, just chill for while? Going back and forth while staring at the floor is giving me all kinds of vertigo!"

"We were only supposed to get one servant," she muttered without slowing down, "find what we needed to get by, then regroup at the apartment to work out our next move. Can't tell them to just go away for now, might reveal us, is it possible to make sleeper agents? Wouldn't know how to contact them when the time came, can hypnotic commands be sent via text message? We need a barracks or something, a base of operations, somewhere to-" She was startled by a delicate hand on her shoulder, turning to see Lemon's frown.

"Girl, we're at a spa, and you really need to kick back a little."

"I'll 'kick back'," Adagio all but snarled, "when I'm not at risk of having my legs swept out from under me agai-EEK?!"

Before she knew it, her servants had picked her up, five of them working together to support her weight with a chair of hands on her legs, underarms, and back. The touching wasn't rough or invasive, so she observed in silence as she was deposited in a soft chair that had a small bathtub for a footrest.

"Please, Master," said Suri with a peaceful smile, "let us tend to you. We couldn't bear the thought of you being unhappy."

The rest of their mind-slaves nodded in agreement, with Lemon giving her a friendly smile. Aria and Sonata raised their heads to offer their thoughts.

"We might be in kind of a mess," said Sonata, "but it'll work out!"

"At the very least," Aria added, "you're probably not gonna make tons of great decisions while you're all stress-tumor-waiting-to-happen, y'know? Right now, nobody outside this shop even knows about us, so we've got some time."

The smiling faces of the crowd that now lived to serve her gave Adagio a strange, but not unfamiliar sensation in her chest. Aria and Sonata dialing up their pleading stares eroded what remained of her resistance, drawing a mock-beleagured sigh and an amused grin as she addressed the waiting crowd.

"Alright, but close the shop, let no one else in while we're here, and the men are not to lay a finger on me."

None of the male portion of those she'd hypnotize objected, but Sonata raised an eyebrow. "Wait, what? Why wouldn't you want the guys to do anything?"

Adagio scowled. "Men are disgusting. I'll employ any amount of the filthy, sweaty, foul-smelling ape-creatures for menial labor-" she glanced up at them, "no offense."

They smiled and responded in unison. "None taken, Master!"

"Good," and back to her arms, "-but none of them are to touch me."

Aria rolled her eyes, but didn't comment on their leader's borderline androphobia. This time it was 'I AM NOT scared of them, I just don't want their stench on me!' this and 'There might be some who aren't drooling savages, but-' that, but no matter what Adagio said, Aria kind of liked that smell.

And then her mind drifted to the uncomfortable territory of what might happen when Adagio eventually decided she wanted company on a cold night. She was rescued from these wayward thoughts by Sonata's surprised voice.

"Gasp, really?!"

Adagio chuckled. "Yes, really. I'll see what I can work out regarding a palace, or at least somewhere we can be safe from prying eyes, but for now? You two can give the orders for a while."

Beaming, Sonata turned to the nearest labor monkey. "Bring me pancakes, a milkshake, and a big plate of ta-"

Aria nearly bit her ear off as she leaned over to whisper-snarl. "No. Mexican. Food."

The blue serpent couldn't decide if it was fear or the warm breath on her ear that made her comply. "Uh... m-maybe just a plate of cookies."


A while later, Adagio let out a sigh of contentment as she reclined on the spa chair, every limb being tended to by a small cloud of people. Her feet and legs were (chastely) massaged as Aria and Sonata were delicately cleaned following their own muscle-rubs. Adagio hadn't asked why the masseuses, who directed the rest, had taken to working on snake-arms so easily, but perhaps her spell guided them somehow?

Maybe it was Lemon, who had already demonstrated command of skills Adagio wouldn't have attributed to her, such as a knowledge of kimonos and a surprising affinity for overseeing a workforce. Currently displayed was hair-styling, Lemon and a small group combining efforts to tie up Adagio's hair while the rest of her was tended to. It was so kind of everyone to offer their services free of charge even without being ordered, asked, or even given the suggestion!

Proactive servants. Adagio would set ground rules for what could and couldn't be done without their permission, but for now, she was just feeling all cozy and warm, silently relishing the sight of Aria and Sonata both enjoying meals of their choosing brought from the food court. She'd been worried they would give conflicting orders and get into a quarrel that ended with the mall burning to the ground, but they'd taken to it just as well as in the old days.

Nostalgia coloring her thoughts as her mind wandered, Adagio let herself settle where she lay and drifted off to sleep.

Chapter 5: Connections and Snake-arms!

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Adagio woke with a quiet groan, blinking blearily as she sat up.

"Mornin', Dagi! Or like, afternoon!"

She almost rubbed her eyes before remembering her lack of fingers. "S'nata," she mumbled, "how long was I out?" When she'd managed to get her bearings, her eyes shot open. They were now lying on a bed in a building she didn't know, and from the general far-eastern aesthetic of the place, possibly on the other side of the world. She could only repeat her question. "How long was I out?!"

"Just a couple hours."

"We were sent to another country in a couple of hours?!" Another thought occurred. "They deported us?!"

"No," answered Aria, "they just built a traditional, Japanese-style house in the middle of the park with help from a construction crew employed by the rich family of one of our new brain-slaves." This earned her a hard stare, but she just flicked a fin. "Not being sarcastic, that's really what happened. Lemon was right, you need to relax more." Looked like the spa treatment didn't work all that well.

Considering that her heart-rate was only starting to return to normal levels, Adagio felt a little cornered. She had been a little stressed these last so many weeks, but staying alert was a good thing, dammit! Changing the subject would be admitting defeat, so she instead opted for a subtle compromise. "I'll relax when we're safely in control and Sunset Shimmer is locked in a cage!"

This won no objections, so she got up, finding herself to still be wearing the kimono and that her hair was now neatly tied up in a manner that made it look much, much smaller. She could still feel the same weight of it, however, bound tightly with a pair of chopsticks. She paced out of the little bedroom across a floor of tan rectangles, out to what she guessed to be a living room, and over to what she interpreted to be a door; a big, wooden-frame rectangle thing full of paper squares. Sonata nudged it open for her, allowing her to step out onto the... porch, thing, to see the lush grass of the city park... and most of her waiting army of servants, all of whom greeted her in unison.

"Good afternoon, Master!"

Looking over them, Adagio quickly spotted the one she wanted to talk to. "Lemon Zest!" Her tone must have been perfect, because Lemon immediately stepped forward with an "I'm in trouble, aren't I?" look on her face. Adagio nodded to the house behind her. "Explain."

"Well, me and Rick -third from the left- got to talking during your nap, how a lady like you really needed a snazzy palace. I told him it'd have to be Japan-flavored because'a the thing you've got goin' and one of our new pals has family that runs a construction company, so-

"Alright," sighed Adagio, having confirmed Aria's story, "then... I suppose we live here now? In the middle of the park? Is that legal?"

"Kinda. Royal Pin over there has family in-"

"Forget I asked. I suppose we should go get our-"

"Already sent a few to bring everything here," said Aria, "figured moving would be hard enough even if all three of us had our hands, so..."

After scanning the scene for a long, silent moment, Adagio sounded almost disbelieving. "...You two directed things while I was asleep, and now we have a new (if old-fashioned) house as opposed to our dingy apartment, from which some of our slaves are currently bringing our belongings? And nothing has gone wrong?" Raising Aria and Sonata to where she could look both in the eyes, Adagio started to smile with what might have been pride. "Not bad, not bad at all."

Grinning smugly, Aria opened her mouth to comment, but Sonata was faster. "Aww, it was mostly just Lemon!" Her smile was wiped away when Aria headbutted her. Hard. "Ow! What?!"

"You idiot," Aria snarl-whispered, "she'll never trust us to lead at this rate!"

"Ekhem," came the voice of their host, who could still hear everything they were saying. The two turned to her, Aria with consternation clear in her scaly face, but Adagio's amused grin helped to defuse her anxiety. "Whether it was all your doing or not, we didn't wake up trapped, lost, or in a cell again, and I would call that a job well-done." She bestowed forehead kisses accordingly, though Aria's adorable squirming told her she should probably start waiting until there were no witnesses before doing that in the future. Then, she turned to Lemon with a grin. "And let's not forget our dearest servant..."

Lemon blinked twice. "Huh?" Her heart nearly leapt to her throat as the snake-woman stepped closer, but rather than a kiss, she was rewarded with Aria and Sonata being wrapped around her in a hug. Even if her arms were pinned to her sides by massive serpents, it was a surprisingly soft, snuggly hug!

"Thank you," said Adagio, "for all your help."

They stayed that way for about a minute, Lemon glancing over her shoulder at the rest of the (slightly jealous-looking) minions, but that wasn't what made her blush. "Adagio?"

"Yes, Lemon Zest?"

"Uhm," she giggled, "one of your eels is touching my butt."

Aria and Sonata both immediately pulled back so quickly that Adagio nearly lost balance as they cried "NOT IT!!"

"I know it was you, Sonata," said Aria with a flushed face, "I don't even like girls!!"

"Oh, like you're not bicurious," Sonata barked back, "I've seen you eyeing us up after showers!"

"Because you two refuse to put towels on!!"

"Pfft, likely stor-"

"Alright, alright," giggled Adagio, "whoever did it, please don't fondle people during hugs. Might send the wrong message, you know?" Two blushing snake-arms were not arguments, so she moved things along. "Now, we have a new base of operations underway and a small workforce, but it may not be enough to stop our old enemies when they arrive."

Sonata glanced around nervously. "Th-they're coming already?!"

"Now? Doubtful, but it's only a matter of time until they learn of us one way or another. Until then, we should prepare." She looked at the crowd of servants while using Sonata to indicate a few. "You, go to the nearest applicable store and bring back tea. You two, procure tablewear and means with which to brew tea. You three, wait until they get back, then walk around the park inviting people back here for tea." She grinned in her usual wicked way. "I'll greet them personally..."

The six she'd ordered replied in unison. "At once, Master!"

As the group spread out (bar the three who were ordered to wait), Aria raised an eyebrow. "You're gonna get more servants? I thought that's what you were buggin' out about before?"

"I was not 'bugging out,'" she replied irritably, "I was considering our options, and now I have a plan f-" She stopped at a sudden twinge in her belly, which she knew the others felt too. That alone made her blush. "Uhh... Servants," she said while addressing the remaining mind-slaves, "I require a lone, female assistant."

Lemon raised a hand. "I could-"

"No," Adagio shot back immediately, "you just take a break for now!" It has to be someone I don't have to look in the eye after...

Lemon shrugged and put her headphones back on with a little grin. "'Kay!"

The others were even more receptive to their order, but much less understanding.

"I'll go with you, Master!"

"No, I'll go!"

"Let me help!"

"I live to serve you!"

Feeling another twinge, Adagio grimaced, but to her horror, Sonata spoke first.

"Master needs a potty break, so you-" she pointed at one of the girls with her snout, "-come with us!"

For a split second, time froze in Adagio's head. She had no words, no thoughtful analysis, or even annoyance at Sonata, just stood there in silent dread of the mockery and laughter she was about to be assailed with. To her surprise, however, the only spoken sentiment was one of glee by the girl exclaiming to have been chosen as the 'lavatory assistant' while the others looked at her in envy. Lemon wasn't saying anything or looking at her, but the headphones might have blocked her hearing entirely.

Noting that their new magic really must have had some effect on their victims' heads, Adagio took the girl Sonata volunteered and went in search of the rest room.


Fortunately, the traditional decor did not extend to the entire house. Just the same, Adagio shuffled out of the bathroom with her head down even as the other girl remained bright and peppy.

"So," pondered Aria aloud, "was that any better?" Adagio's solid crimson face said it wasn't, but might as well ask, right?

"The shame will never leave me," she muttered, "not for as long as I live."

Sonata frowned. "Is it really that bad for you?"

"Yes," seethed Adagio through clenched teeth as she looked up, "not being able to take care of all three of us anymore was humiliating enough, barely being able to take care of myself is unbearable!" She was in no mood to explain this, but the (adorably) confused looks she was getting said she had to. "Before the Battle, I could get us anything we needed virtually at the drop of a hat under my own power alone, and as the one in command, our collective well-being was my responsibility." She sighed, her irritated expression fading to a remorseful grimace. "Lately, I've practically been yours, and I can't call it anything but a miserable failure on my part."

There was a pause as Aria and Sonata shared a glance. The former let out an indignant scoff. "Like we ever needed you to take care of us?" Adagio blinked at her in surprise, but at least her blush was starting to fade. More circulation for the rest of them. "I mean, we were doing fine even without our old powers, you were the only one that stayed up all night, skipped meals, and got cuts all over your hands and face."

"I was trying to restore our-" Adagio growled back, but stopped short. Anger remained clear in her expression, but her question came in a weak whisper. "...When did I have cuts on my face?"

"Just yesterday," answered Sonata, "when you came out to see the book. Did you go to sleep at your desk again?"

"Collapse on her desk again," corrected Aria, an eyebrow raised.

Adagio shrunk back a little. "I was-"

Not caring that she was arguably in a worse position than ever to be making Adagio angry, Aria cut her off. "You were obsessing so hard that it was driving you nuts. I once walked in to find you just pushing the pieces of the gems around with a fingertip and giggling like a loon, and if you'd just took a break more than a cumulative few hours a day, you might have actually had your marbles together well enough to figure out what to do." Despite the almost tearful look on Adagio's face, it was hard to say from whom exactly the little tug in their chest came.

"I'm sorr-" Adagio was cut off again when Sonata licked her face, drawing a startled, surprised little yelp. She blinked twice while looking back at the smiling serpent.

"Don't worry about it, Dagi! 'Cuz like, even if we never figure out the gems, we'll always have each other, right?"

"Ugh," groaned Aria, "that's gotta be the cheesiest thing you've ever said."

Craning her neck closer to Aria, Sonata smirked. "But it's true, right?"

Aria looked away in the vain effort of hiding a blush, which drew a little giggle from Adagio as Sonata inched closer.


If Aria had arms, she'd have crossed them. "Anyway," she said while looking back at Adagio, "my point is, we don't really need you to do the leader thing. Just keep it together and we'll all do fine, y'know?" Sonata supported the statement with a nod and a hopeful smile.

The warm, friendly looks she was getting made Adagio want to nuzzle them again, but for the sake of the moment, she restrained herself to smiling back. "Alright. I, suppose I could stand to step back a little. Just long enough to see if the house burns down or something." The trio giggled together. "For now," she turned to the girl that had helped them in the bathroom, warming up her hypno-magic again, "you, forget everything you saw and heard in the last several minutes."

The girl's eyes flickered red before she nodded numbly, drawing a smirk of satisfaction from the snake-woman. Noticing the odd looks she was getting from her arms, she raised a defensive eyebrow.

"What? I have to preserve our dignity somehow." She might have been willing to let someone else tend to her needs if it were strictly necessary, but there was no reason they had to remember any of it. "Next," she said with a growing smirk while pacing back to Lemon and the remaining servants, "we need to build our forces as much as possible while maintaining a low profile, and I think I know just how to do it..."

Chapter 6: Snuggles and Snake-arms!

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Later that day, Adagio again stood on what she was just going to call the porch, smirking with satisfaction as she wrapped up her speech (and carefully-worded orders) to a new total of twenty-one mind-slaves. And Lemon Zest. "If there are no questions, you are dismissed." The majority dispersed, with the few that didn't need to be anywhere right then heading into the house to begin cooking, cleaning, and just generally being ready to serve. Despite this, she caught Aria's slightly distraught face out of the corner of her eye. "Something the matter?"

"You sure about letting 'em go back to their normal lives like that? I mean, I know it's only to keep from raising suspicion if people just totally go missing for a while and that they'll be comin' back to us when they've got some free time, but still...?"

Adagio chuckled. "While I laud your sense of caution, this is our best bet. We can neither build up an army nor keep what we already had without either constructing a barracks to keep everyone in or setting up a lot of tents, either of which would definitely raise suspicion." She blinked. "Well, more than our apparently-sanctioned house here, at any rate. Anyway, if they return to their own homes when not working for us, they'll stay fed and rested on their own, so we won't have to worry about taking care of them instead of them taking care of us. With enough people under our spell, we're sure to have at least a few to tend to us at any given time, and for those that aren't, having them casually invite friends and loved ones to join them at the park for tea will ensure our numbers keep growing."

"Wait," asked Sonata, "why do we even need an army? We've totally got plenty of people to do stuff for us anyway, right?"

Restraining her reaction to an eyeroll, Adagio calmly reminded her of the plan. "If, for whatever reason, our magic doesn't work on certain people again, overwhelming them with sheer strength of numbers is the next best thing." She'd have probably tried that at the Battle, had they not been interrupted before their song was complete. "I'm torn between having all of our minions swarm their school at once to grab and disable the girls in question, or learning where each of them lives, sending squads to abduct them all at the same time in the middle of the night, and bringing them to us in chains, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Until then," she said while turning to walk back into the house, just a hint of a blush on her face, "I think we could finally use that shower."

Aria was smart enough not to stick her snout straight into the nearest armpit to test the assertion, but watching Sonata do it anyway still reminded her of those socks.


Following a refreshing scrub with the help of two girls, Adagio and her sapient arms sat in a bathrobe on a cozy chair, with one of the servants that had helped tie up Adagio's hair in the spa working with a few others to tie it up again. Lemon was the only one who understood how to put on a kimono, but her (apparently strict) family had most likely been wondering where she'd gone, so she'd left with the others. Adagio was glad to be free from the kimono for a while anyway.

She glanced to her left to see Sonata contentedly sipping on the straw of a milkshake held by another servant, who had knelt down on one knee to hold it up in both hands as though it were an offering to be placed on an altar. Adagio distantly wondered if speaking while either of her arms ate counted as talking with her mouth full. "Thank you, Upper Crust."

The girl smiled, though it was difficult to say if any part of it was due to her name being remembered. "Anything to please you, Master."

Adagio tittered at this, but made no further conversation as she looked to Aria. As was becoming increasingly common, she wore a worried look. "Aria? Is something bothering you?"

Aria returned only a passing glance as she looked back at those tending to them. "Kinda... Did you see the way they were looking at you while they scrubbed in the shower? They were eyeing you up. A lot."

Smirking, Adagio wished she had a hand to haughtily brush through her hair. She could have ordered a servant to do it, but it just wouldn't have the same effect. "And this differs from usual how?"

"No, I mean, like... they were even giving me and Sonata those stares."

"Of course they were," she replied evenly, "have you seen yourself? Your fins are majestic, your scales are lovely as ever," she quickly moved Aria's head into range for surprise nuzzles, "and who could resist these cute widdle faces?"

"Gah!" Aria sputtered, blushed, and grumbled to herself. "I, I was-! They were-! Urrgh, never mind!"

Adagio giggled merrily. Really, you'd think Aria would enjoy being adored again.


"You know, when you two told me they'd built us an old-fashioned, Japanese-styled house while I was asleep, I didn't think that included wiring."

Aria nodded sagely. "Rich people. What can we say?"

The sirens stared at the big, flatscreen TV now hanging from a fixture installed in the roof of their front room, Adagio doing so with a hint of apprehension.

"I don't remember ordering this." I never did set those ground rules, I'll have to get everyone here at once to do that.

"Well, uh," muttered Sonata, her maw of pointy teeth forming a nervous grin, "I might've said it would be cool to just kick back and watch a big ol' TV while you were all snoozy in the spa, just kinda offhandedly."

Staring straight at the hopefully-not-stolen piece of electronics helped to prevent distraction by scaly cuteness. "Apart from a delayed reaction, they'll adhere to the slightest suggestions? Interesting, but..."

"But what?" asked Aria with a fin-flick, "They're doing whatever we want, isn't that a good thing?"

"Do the words 'be careful what you wish for' mean anything to you? That may apply to us in full now, because if they respond to even passing comments, we-"

"We get every little thing we want without even having to ask for it all the way," Sonata said with an optimisitic grin, "totally a good thing!"

"It's not that sim-"


The sirens listened as the sudden sounds of many moving feet rapidly grew quieter. About two minutes passed in silence before they came stampeding back; five people with snowcones, offering the frozen sugar to all three heads as though they were poor, malnourished, overheated little girls. There was a pause as Adagio tried to appraise whether or not these were adoring looks or pitying ones until Aria spoke up.

"See? They're even quick about it. No downside. You weren't worried about them eye-humping you, right?"

"There's a difference between-"

She was cut off by a servant enthusiastically offering her a snowcone. "Take mine, Master!"

"No," said another, "take mine!"

"This one's cherry!"

The trio (mono?) returned their attention to the waiting treat-fetchers. Looking at their bright, smiling faces, their sparkling eyes filled only with will to please her, Adagio sighed and glanced at her arms. "Fine, fine, I guess this isn't a problem, but be careful what you say around them." She closed the conversation by licking one of the snowcones being held for her while Aria and Sonata did the same with two others. Three forked, serpentine tongues caressed frozen treats, which left two snowcone-holding servants to wait. Noticing that they were both girls, Sonata had an idea.

"You two," she said with a little smirk, "feed each other!"

Sharing a quick glance, they nodded, faced each other, held out their respective snowcones, and licked the one being offered to them by the other. It was with quiet glee that Sonata noted a growing blush on Adagio's face as she observed this, not commenting on it, but not looking away. Then Aria had to go and spoil the moment.

"You guys are perverts."

Snapping out of her daze, Adagio blushed a little brighter. "Wh-what?!"

Sonata wore an impish grin. "Nothin' wrong with knowing what you like, Aria."

Adagio shook her head. "No, we are not using our servants for... g-gratification!"

There was a heavy pause. Aria didn't want to be the one to ask, but Sonata's sudden, stone-faced look of shock and despair told her she'd have to. "Uh... If you mean like, never, then... are we going celibate from now on, or...?" It was rare to see their leader so flustered.

"Ye- no, I-I don't know! For one thing, we never touched anyone under our influence before, but doing anything... intimate... while we're fused together like this is just-"

Aria clenched her eyes shut. "Agh, gawd, stop, I totally get it!!"

"It wouldn't be all bad," muttered Sonata, "I mean, what if we share kinks now?" She stopped to think about it, then grinned. "Hey Dagi, how do you feel about-"

Their host exerted control to clamp Sonata's mouth shut, distantly relieved that not only were the five servants not laughing at them for this, but that their admiring gazes hadn't changed in the slightest. She was still glowing like a stoplight, but it was nice not to feel the sting of salt in her wounds. "We'll, rgh, w-we'll figure something out later," she said through gritted teeth, "but for now, let's just focus on preparing for the Rainbooms."

Come to think of it, those girls might actually make for fitting concubines, if they're still immune and therefore capable of giving in to our charms under their own free will, but that would hardly be fair to Aria. At the same time, I'm not sure I can stomach letting anyone with a Y chromosome put their hands on me. What do you do when you have different orientations in the same body?!

It was something to put on the back-burner of things to stress about later. For now; snowcones.


That night, Aria and Sonata lay nestled in Adagio's hair as she slept on her stomach. When she heard Adagio softly snore into her pillow, Sonata whispered to her fellow snake-sister.

Note to self: Never say that out loud.

"What do you think the sex would be like, anyway?"

Aria didn't even look at her. "Really uncomfortable and awkward as all Hell. Goodnight, Sonata."

"No, really! Like, would we even feel anything? And, what if she uses us for a handj-"

Aria's low hiss said discussion was over. "Good. Night. Sonata."


"So you're the one that picked out the chair for the living room!" Adagio stepped forward to wrap the helpful servant in the highest honor she could bestow upon those who pleased her; a cuddly snake-arm hug. "Thank you, it's easily the most comfortable I've ever been in."

"I live to please you, Master," she answered with a dopey smile.

"Hehehe! I know."

Behind the servant's back, Sonata whispered to Aria.

"You think she'll ever get comfy enough with us being attached to think about it?"

"No," Aria hissed, "and quit breathing down my neck!!"


"I'm just saying, sooner or later, she's gonna want-"

"Stop, or I'm gonna bite you!"




Smiling as amicably as one could with snake fangs, Adagio stood up from the little table in the center of the Tea Room.

"Thank you for joining us, Fancy Pants."

The moustachioed man smiled as the red light faded from his eyes. "It is my pleasure, Master."

Adagio moved toward the room with the TV and a big, cushy chair as Aria popped out of her sleeve of the kimono. It was the pink one, because Sonata had won the coin toss that morning.

"That's like twelve more today. How many do you think we'll need?"

"I'm not going for a specific number, but if the magic we have now still can't affect those girls? The more the merrier." She chuckled. "Don't worry, though, we shouldn't need five months this time. A few weeks at most and we'll be ready to storm their territory."

Sonata grinned. "Goin' with the total zerg-rush plan? Why didn't we just do that the first time?"

Snake-like eyes were rolled, but Adagio was still in too good a mood to stop smiling. "Because we needed the Rainbooms' magic, remember? Just pinning them down and telling them to argue wouldn't have gotten us nearly as much power. This time, however? There are no such limitations, and we're free to crush them as soon as we're ready."

Truth be told, a few dozen people might have been enough to overwhelm six girls anyway, but as it only might have been enough, it was prudent to keep building while they still had time. They saw Lemon sitting in the slightly smaller chair next to theirs in the front room. She waved at them, though it was very difficult to return the gesture.

"Heya! All done with the hypno-magic?"

"Indeed we are, Lemon Zest," confirmed Adagio as she sat in the chair with the extra soft armrests, "at least until tomorrow." Having anticipated being woken in the middle of the night to convert new servants brought to her by older ones, she had outlined the specific hours in which doing so would be acceptable.

Stretching out on her armrest, Sonata inclined her head toward Lemon and grinned brightly. "And thanks for helping us with the dress, nobody else we asked got it on us right!"

"Yea," she giggled, "no problem. I'd kinda hafta be good at it by now."

It was with a hint of amusement that Adagio watched Aria nestle into her armrest not unlike a cat sinking into a large pillow, but she kept her ear inclined anyway. "Why is that, pray tell?"

Lemon shrugged, her smile weakening almost imperceptibly. "Well... Y'know how I said my family was strict?" She got two nods, part of her wondering if Aria was asleep. "They are. Really up the butt about tradition, too, about making sure every little thing is done the way it was done hundreds of years ago because reasons. I mean, even Granddad still uses phones and junk, but you know it's only because he couldn't get away with sending messenger pigeons or something instead. Lucky for me, though, I've got a sister that fits the Perfect Princess gig a heck of a lot better than I do; walks straight, always super polite, covers her mouth at the right times (still don't know what that's about), all that crud, so all I had to learn was the fussy stuff for looking nice at boring parties where old people stand around trying to out-compliment each other."

It was here that Lemon noticed Sonata and Adagio giving her these odd, annoyed little frowns. The former answered before she could ask.

"A whole lotta 'do this, do that,' huh? Hours and hours of lessons, day in, day out?"

Lemon blinked in surprise. "Uh, y-yea... Are you guys old money too, or...?"

"Something like that," Adagio muttered noncommittally, "though at least we benefited from it in the long-term. What of your own conditioning?"

Only because her grandfather had referred to the sessions in which perfect behavior and how to play old-timey dress-up were drilled into her as 'her conditioning' did Lemon understand that question. "Well, I mean, it definitely wasn't all bad. I don't usually do much with my hair, but with all the time I had to spend getting my look just right, I actually kinda started to like playing with make-up." Indicating her eyeliner, she giggled. "Got a few friends at school that usually come to me for beauty tips, and Dean Cadence even asked me for help with getting dolled up for a date once!"

Intrigued, Adagio raised an eyebrow. "And that won you a place at Crystal Prep?"

Lemon's smile slipped away. "Err... N-no, not exactly. The lady in charge, Principal Cinch, makes a big song and dance about how the school's reputation is important, but she only cares so much because that's where most of our funding comes from, sorta. It's the money she cares about, so if a well-paying family wants their dimwit daughter to graduate from the most prestigious-" she pronounced the word as though tasting something foul, "-school around, Cinch isn't above looking the other way for a little extra cash." She had to look away to keep a lump out of her throat. "So, I know I'm not the only one, but I don't really belong at Crystal Prep."

There was a silence, then Sonata whirled around to look at Adagio.

"Can you tune out for a sec? I wanna talk to Lemon alone."

"What? Sonata, you know you can say anything in front of-"

Sonata dialed up the puppy-dog eyes. "Pleeeeease?"

Adagio's heart swelled up in conjunction with a painfully wide smile on her face. "Hhrnng...! Alright, alright, but what can I do? It's not as though I have fingers with which to cover my ears now."

"Umm..." She glanced at Aria, dozing on her armrest, and smiled. "Did you know Aria snores a little as a snake-arm? It's quiet, but she totally does it."

"Oh?" Adagio leaned over in the chair, carefully maneuvering her upper body so as not to disturb her sleeping sister, but getting close enough to hover her head next to hers. She soon heard the sounds of a tiny little snore, making her beam with delight. "Oh, that is precious!"

Watching Adagio distract herself by gently cuddling her sleeping arm's face with her own, Sonata turned back toward Lemon and whispered. "Sometimes, I feel like I don't belong with Aria and Dagi, either." She only got one of those wide-eyed 'What?!' looks for that, so she kept going. "When we were growing up, they were always way better than me in like, everything. I'm not all that smart, but I know when I'm not helping. Sometimes, I even made things worse, but they always picked up the slack for me because we're sisters, and-" She shook her head, realizing that this was going a little off-track. "I know that if I worked harder, I could do better, but I'm pretty sure I'm already doing my best! It's not a whole lot, but it's the best I can do, and y'know what? Even when I'm dragging them down, my family still cares about me!"

That weird, feeling-things brain-haze was starting to set in, so she tried to roll everything into a bite-sized feel-better sentence. "Don't worry if you aren't all that great, because to the people who matter, your best is good enough!" She blinked, realizing that she'd maybe failed the bite-sized part, because there was kinda more. "I mean, like, that doesn't mean you should never wanna be better at stuff, but like, if you're already doing all you can, then, uh-"

Lemon gave her an earnest little smile. "I think I get it, Nata, thanks."

They stared at each other in silence. Sonata smiled, taking a page from Adagio's book by stretching her neck out and nuzzling Lemon's face, which drew surprised giggles as Lemon hugged and cuddled her back.

Artist's depiction:

They were reminded that Aria and Adagio were still there when the former sputtered awake. "Gah, muh, wh-what are-? Da-Adagio, get offa me! Quit it!!"

Tittering as she released Aria from her snuggly torment, Adagio immediately turned to Sonata. "Your turn!"


There was another round of nuzzles for Sonata, leading to bubbly laughter as she drank in the cuddly love. To her surprise, she felt a fleeting rub against her cheek from something scaly, turning to see a bashful-looking Aria.

All eyes on her, there was no hiding the blush. "J-just, wanted to try it from this end. Adagio keeps going on about how great our scales are, and I can't really feel my own all that much, so-EEK!" She got a scaly nuzzle right back, Sonata smiling warmly at her when she pulled back.

"Aww, I love you too, Ria!"

"Sh-shut up!!"

There was another little quarrel between the two, though most of it was delivered far too affectionately to resemble the usual routine. Adagio just smiled, particularly at Aria.

Not long after, some food was brought in for the sirens and their only domination-free servant, some crime dramas were mocked, some cartoons were laughed at, and an old animated movie was vaguely sung along to before it was time to head to bed. Adagio needed a bit of help to do so without a fuss, because by the time she tried to get up, both of her arms were asleep! Lemon Zest did her best to keep quiet even with the tickles that came with carrying finned serpents under her arms to the bedroom.

Minding her eyes while helping Adagio change out of the kimono (Granddad would have butchered her if he ever heard she let someone sleep in one) and into her bathrobe was a little more challenging.

Chapter 7: Struggling with Snake-arms!

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Adagio and Sonata were awoken by the sounds of Aria screaming and thrashing, along with a voice.

"Good morning, Master!"

It was Suri, the first servant they'd found after Lemon. She was sitting on her knees by the bed, perfectly still as she smiled adoringly at her conjoined queens, even as one of them continued to shriek and stammer.

"-waited for us like a goddamn shark! St-staring, until we woke up, we hypno'd a serial killer! She's gonna-oof!" Aria's manic muttering was cut off when Sonata headbutted her. "...Thanks. Needed that."

"Any time!"

Still getting her bearings, Adagio addressed Suri herself. "Was there something you wanted?"

Suri smiled wider. "Only to fulfill your every whim, Master!"

"...How long have you been waiting there?"

"A little over two hours." She sighed dreamily. "Two wonderful hours..."

"She watched us sleep," whispered Aria through clenched teeth and a worried expression, "they watch us sleep now!!"

Adagio spared her a glance before looking back at Suri. "Go prepare us a meal."

Suri happily shot up, then stumbled and fell on her face as a result of two hours spent sitting on increasingly rubbery legs. She got up again and headed to the kitchen at a more controlled pace, leaving the sirens alone.

Eyebrow raised, Adagio held her arms where she could look them in the eye. "Did either of you, at any point, suggest, hint, imply, or otherwise implant the idea that you wanted her to be there when we awoke?" Two head-shakes. "Then do you see what I was worrying about yesterday?"

"Yea, sure," said Aria, hoping to skip the I-Told-You-Idiots part this time, "so how do we get 'em to not do that anymore?"

"A simple order not to do it should suffice, but that won't prevent future surprises." Standing up, Adagio paced over to the table on which the enchanted book had been left. "I'll look through this until they bring us the day's first 'guest,' see if there's something we overlooked the first time." She stared at the tome in silence for a moment, glanced around, and sighed. "As soon as I find a servant that isn't making us breakfast..."


Reclining in the big, comfy chair again, Adagio nodded for the servant kneeling in front of her to turn to the next page while Aria and Sonata were fed by two others. When she finished up her cinnamon rolls, Sonata turned address to their host.

"Hey, Dagi? I've been thinking. You don't like it when boys touch you, which is why we've got Hernando over there-" she nodded to a tall, tan, muscular man gently fanning them with a giant leaf, procured from parts unknown, "...me likey. -keeping his distance, but you totally touched a buncha guys during our first song in CHS. Wuddup with that?"

"It was part of our routine," she answered with an irritable arch of an eyebrow, "the one that, frankly, I'm a little annoyed you two hardly bothered with. We were low on energy and needed every edge we could get, so needing to wash my hands after was a small price to pay if it bolstered our chances of bewitching the population. On that note, why is it that all I saw either of you two do was strum Flash Sentry's guitar once?" She couldn't stay angry when Aria made an adorable shame-face, but Sonata grinned.

"Well, I would'a strummed a little more, but we were kinda in public, so-"

"Gah," interrupted Aria as she flushed crimson, "T.M.I., Sonata!!"


As a servant set down her cup on the little table in the middle of the room, Adagio smiled. "Thank you both for joining us for tea."

The young couple; a pale man with blue hair and a pink woman with long hair of a few shades of pink, as well as odd, yellow stripes, both smiled back at her as they answered in unison.

"It is our pleasure, Master."

Though she was getting tired of repeating her very specific orders ("Don't watch us while we sleep" having been added that morning) to each and every new slave, the ring of 'Master' still tickled her. She remained seated even as the couple got up and left to covertly follow her commands, walking away hand in hand. Adagio looked at her own 'hands' to again find one giving the departing couple a particularly intense stare.

"Aria? I'm starting to worry about you."

"Wh-wha?! I, who, what?!"

Sonata looked a little worried too. "Dagi has the stare thing all figured out, you don't need to do it too."

"I wasn't!"

"Alright," Adagio asked with an inquisitive eyebrow, "then what were you doing?" No answer. She exerted control to keep her right arm from looking away, adding an edge to her voice. "Aria?" She tried to stay focused even as Aria sheepishly tried to turn her head, again lighting up with the most adorable blush.

"Th-they... they were, holding hands." Two deadpan stares. "It's weird! Nobody did it even in some of the nastier places back home, where the currents or something big and fast might snatch someone up in a flash, but here? There ain't even any wind strong enough to pick someone up, s-so why do it?! Stupid humans."

Adagio chuckled. "I suppose I see where you're coming from, but it's almost definitely one of those affectionate things they do here, like hugging. Not to worry, though, I have no intention of using either of you for handshakes." She giggled as Sonata smiled and clicked her jaws together to make the point.

"Uh, y-yea, good, glad to hear that."

Handshakes weren't what Aria was thinking about, but at least her sisters were placated.


A little later that day, Adagio again sat with a servant holding the book for her.

"These spells are made up with a similar structure to our own, nearly identical in the aural overlays, but relying on our own life-force in place of-"

Aria, not patient at the best of times, tried to speed things along while angrily staring down the six mind-slaves that alternated between enviously looking at the one holding the book, and looking at her with bright eyes and creepy smiles. "Why's it making them act like this?!"

On Adagio's opposite side, Sonata had taken the opposite approach; enabling the will of their thralls to do what she wanted as much as possible, but it was kind of backfiring on her. "Uhm, l-look guys," she said to the five holding various tasty foods for her while three more massaged her long neck, "I know we've got three heads, but we've only got one gut!"

"Take my offering, Master!"

"Please, take mine!"

"These chocolates are fresh, and still warm!"

Groaning with frustration as her concentration slipped away, Adagio scowled. "Enough! All of you, out, and Master will call you when you are needed!" To her relief, there were only a few, easily-quashed protests this time before the lot of them cleared out. When they were gone (that is, doubtlessly standing by the doors to the room, listening carefully for any sign that they were wanted), Adagio stood up to pace the floor.

"We didn't order this, did we? The way they keep actively looking for ways to please us? Not even back home did we have anyone so eager to be commanded."

Sonata smiled somewhat nervously. "Y-yea, it's almost like we're trying to please them now."

Adagio stopped, her sisters craning their necks to see her with that I-just-realized-something face. Aria deadpanned the question.

"Please, don't keep us in suspense. What is it?"

"It is like we're trying to please them now, isn't it? Like they're addicted to us now, and we're not giving all of them their fix... Do you think they'd calm down if we hugged them all?"

"Oh, Hell no!"


"Every time you make us hug someone, Sonata breathes down my neck!"

Sonata blushed as she glared at Aria. "I DO NOT!!"

"Do too!"

"Do not!"

"Do too!"

"Do n-"

Adagio exerted control to make them both look at her. "Girls, quiet! Don't make me get the socks again!"

Their ears folding back, they replied in unison. "We'll be good!"

Feeling just a smidge of guilt at the (very cute!) looks of fear in their little faces, she sighed. "Sorry. Look, maybe I just need to revise the orders, get everyone together and come up with something more specific. I know some of the ones here now have work today, so they may even be exploiting the loophole in my orders; making excuses in their normal lives to come see us, not unlike an addict finding extra time to indulge their craze. With more and more such people flocking to the same place, it's only a matter of time before we're discovered."

"We've got like, fifty people by now, right?" Aria flicked a fin. "That's gotta be enough to at least hold our ground if they come for us."

"Provided that all of them are here when the Rainbooms find out about our little operation?"


"Indeed. It's getting late, so we'll call everyone here tomorrow and go from there." It was still strange to her to not tell her sisters to do as they pleased until she could come up with their next move, as it would be rather senseless right now. Instead, she sat down in the especially comfortable chair again, letting them briefly bicker over what channel to watch. Sonata won because she proved more dexterous with the remote in her mouth, and Aria wasn't willing to risk more annoyance by calling for a servant's help.


Meanwhile, in the Canterlot suburbs, six girls had again gathered in Pinkie Pie's room for a sleepover. Fluttershy wore a self-conscious smile as Rarity delicately styled her hair, humming a cheerful tune that Fluttershy was tempted to sing along to. She looked over at Applejack and Rainbow Dash to see them playing one of those games together. By the look of Rainbow's petulant frown, she was losing again, but at least she accepted the loss with dignity by not shutting the game off this time. A glance at Sunset Shimmer was what got her to speak up.

"Sunset? Is something wrong?"

Shrugging, Sunset wore a worried face. "I hope not, but I don't really know. Twilight said she'd be here, but she's skipped out to focus on her studies a few times before." That she was still trying to study magic in private sometimes was something Sunset hoped to work through. "I guess it-"

Everyone in the room was startled when Pinkie kicked the door open, wearing an akubra and holding the human Twilight Sparkle in her arms in the standard princess-carrying pose. No one asked why she was using a ridiculous Australian accent. "Oi found moi quarry, oi did!"

Slightly frazzled, Twilight looked up at her captor. "Y-yes, you found me, congratulations, now can you please put me down?" She was gently deposited on the bed while Rarity remarked on the relation of akubras to hunting. "Sorry I'm late," she said to the others, "but my brother and Dean Cadence were acting... weird."

Rainbow tilted her head. "That's why you were gonna skip?"

Twilight's eyebrows furrowed. "No, I was on my way here when Pinkie grabbed me!"

Tilting her hat to cover one eye, Pinkie wore a triumphant smirk. "Found. Moi. Quarry."

"Weird how?" asked Sunset.

"Well, Shiny was talking about how amazing this woman he met was... and so was Cadence!" The short silence told her that she must not have talked about those two enough for it to be obvious that they had eyes only for each other. "And that's... weird! They looked a little out of it, too, like they were on some kind of medication. They even invited me to come see her."

"So they met a pretty lady," remarked Applejack, "it ain't that strange."

"True," Twilight replied while reaching for her phone, "but the others in Crystal Prep have texted me a few times about how a lot of people have been exhibiting unusual behavior, especially Lemon Zest."

When she'd first heard it, the knowledge that the Shadowbolts kept in touch with Twilight, sent her sweet, encouraging messages sometimes (even Sugarcoat!), had warmed Fluttershy's heart, but she never thought it could lead to anxiety and dread. "W-what do you mean?"

Frowning, Twilight looked over her messages in the vain hope of gleaning answers from them. "I don't know, all they've told me is that some of the other students, and a few random people around town, are acting 'weird.'" She looked up at her friends, worry clear in her face. "Do you think something is happening?"

Sunset wasn't sure how to set her at ease, so she didn't. "Maybe. Did your brother describe this woman at all?"

"That's another weird thing; I asked that too and neither of them would tell me her name, who she was, or what she looked like, just that I should join them at the park for tea."

Considering the circumstances, Sunset had three guesses for who might have been behind something like this. Or, one guess three times, if they were still all together. "Maybe we should give it a look, just to see what's going on. Everyone up for a trip to Canterlot City Park?" She smiled at the five little cheers from her friends, and at the relieved, grateful look they won out of Twilight.

"Ooh," said Pinkie, firing one of those little confetti cannons into the air, "we should totally-urk!"

She was seized by the collar by a very annoyed Rarity, who now had a lot of confetti in her slightly messy hair. Blue eyes narrowed as she spoke in an icy whisper. "Pinkie Pie? The way you and your sisters trade gifts with one another on your own holiday for sibling affection is very sweet. We understand that you enjoy the ballistic party supplies Maud has bestowed upon you, and we're all happy for you. However? I have been polite, I have been patient, but if you get shredded bits of glittered paper in my hair one, more, time, I will drop everything and punish you. Are we clear?"

Grinning nervously, Pinkie offered a shaky salute. "C-clear as a sparkly crystal, Rare!"

Rarity regained a much kinder smile as she let Pinkie go. "Splendid. Now, has anyone seen my brush?" Fluttershy pointed to her hand, the one with which she'd been using exactly that brush just minutes ago. Rarity blinked twice, then facepalmed as the rest of the room giggled.


When the sirens awoke the next morning, they were (mostly) pleased to find no one standing over their bed and making creepy faces. Then Aria nudged open the bedroom door and loosed a long, high-pitched shriek at the sight of three servants standing right there with big smiles and very focused stares.

"Good morning, Master," they said in unison, "do you need anything right now?"

A shiver ran up the length of Sonata's neck as she grimaced. "Okay, being ready for instant sexytimes before we've even asked? Great. Doing that ultra-creepy talking-at-the-same-time thing? Nightmare town."

"Y-yea," muttered Aria as she pulled herself together, "glad we're on the same page." The two of them looked at Adagio to find her with a thousand-yard stare. Still less creepy than the servants. "Uh... Adagio? You okay?"

"You now stand in the company of your new masters," she uttered, "Until you are released, you will fulfill our every whim without hesitation or complaint." Her eyes re-focusing on them, she frowned. "I used that wording on every new slave. The way they've been bothering us, all but begging for orders? It's my fault. With that word choice, they are to do as we command until they are released, so when we have no orders for them, they want more for as long as they're in our power, to the point that they actively come looking for it." She looked up to confirm that Suri and her boss from the clothing shop, two of the first people they ever really dominated, were among the eager slaves waiting on her even now. "I wasn't careful enough with the word choice, but worse than that? I looked over the spell matrices in the book to find that-"

"Woah, woah, woah," interrupted Aria, "before you get into the technobabble, can you keep it, uh... Sonata-friendly, please?"

Not picking up the insult, Sonata smiled. "Aww, thanks, Ria!"

Rolling her eyes, Adagio summed up. "Layman's terms? The book's magic mixed with our own, and as our songs were enthralling to begin with, the two magnified each other."

Aria looked at the waiting servants, which made them perk up like a dog that just heard 'walkies.' "Hypno-domination plus super seduction equals annoying and creepy brain-slaves?"

"That, combined with the order they were given, has left them not just forcefully obedient, but, as I said before, addicted to us. They're getting increasingly obsessed, and if we don't cut this off now, it's only going to get worse. I'm sure I can fix this, but we'll need to gather everyone together."


It was fortunate that most of the slaves were friends or acquaintances who already had each others' numbers, because contacting them for an emergency meeting at the house was made much simpler. Still, there were a few oddball outliers, so the sirens still had to have the majority wait out in front of the porch until all fifty-something servants had reported in. Luckily, most of them were eager to serve anyway, and everyone was present by around noon, with Lemon Zest having been delegated to keep everyone where they were.

Just inside the house, Adagio paced back and forth, her certainty having slipped away over the course of the morning.

"Uh, Adagio," asked Aria, who was again getting dizzy from their host's favorite habit, "they're all out there waiting, you can do the thing now."

"Have to do it right," she muttered back, "but I need to get the wording absolutely perfect this time, or the next unintended consequence may be the one that ruins us!" Truth be told, she'd come up with a dozen specific orders that sounded perfect to her, but so had the one that led to where they were right now. To Aria's dismay, she started pacing faster. "Could try to put them on the same level as Lemon, but that much free will would prove dangerous. Could tell them not to do anything at all unless specifically called on, but would that affect how they live while away from us? I could just give them a list 'Do and Don't' and- but, no, if they mixed up the order, it could still-"

With how frazzled their once-perfectly-confident leader was getting, Sonata didn't even bother to whisper as she frowned. "Hey, Aria? Being a snake-lady kind of sucks."

Aria might not have disagreed, but as the book was her idea in the first place, she still replied in a sub-zero growl through clenched teeth. "I see that."

Adagio's thoughts were interrupted by the door to the porch sliding open, but at this point, she considered that a relief. That relief was jeopardized when Lemon stepped in with a slightly worried look on her face.

"Hey, they're getting kinda antsy out there, think you're almost ready to talk to 'em?" She glanced over her shoulder and chuckled. "It's almost like they're waiting for a concert and you guys are the rockstars."

"Heh," Aria said with a half-hearted smile, "if only we could get the actual music going again. Working people over with songs was so much easier."

"Indeed," sighed Adagio, "but without the gems, without more than the essence of our old powers, we have nothing but vocals." The thought came back and hit her like a two-ton boomerang. "...This, this magic we have now... it's, not really the same as our own, is it?" Her eyes started to burn as she tried to keep an even voice. "We still don't have what we wanted, and like this, we probably never will."

There was a silence, which Sonata tried to fill with her best effort at a smile and her usual peppy tones. "Well, we still have something, right? I mean, even if we have to work 'em a bit, we still got people loving and adoring us, doing everything we want, and being treated like the idols we were always supposed to be. That's fun, right...?" No one else said anything. She sighed. "I kinda miss dancing, though."

Aria was looking squarely at the floor. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be," Adagio replied immediately, "you couldn't have known things would turn out like this any more than I could have predicted the outcome of the Battle. Things are what they are," she said resolutely, working a bit of authority into her voice, "and all we can do is press on. Lemon? We'll need your help straightening up the kimono; we have a crowd to address."

Feeling hopeful about things, Lemon smiled.


The sirens stepped out onto the porch to an immediate roar of applause, which they may have gotten even if Lemon, who walked behind them, hadn't gotten them looking all prim and proper. While they were a little iffy about the attention they'd been getting, the three-headed girl(s) smiled as they took in the adoration. Adagio cleared her throat.

"Good afternoon, everyone. I've called you here for an important issue regarding-"

That was as far as she got in her speech before she caught sight of a band of people approaching in the distance. Seven people, one of them a girl with purple, pink-striped hair, another bearing red and yellow locks Adagio would have recognized anywhere. Changing gears, she revised her speech mid-sentence.

"-some new guests, who have stopped by to visit. Make way for them, would you? I think they'd like an audience with us..."

Chapter 8: Stand-offs and Snake-arms!

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Ordinarily, Adagio might have been surprised that the Rainbooms would walk right past the crowd they must have known were under her spell if none of them were reacting to Aria and Sonata in all their scaly glory in full view, but it wasn't like they hadn't pulled the Heroic Overconfidence thing before. She'd intended to greet them formally before the banter and thinly-veiled threats started, but Sunset Shimmer cut her off the second she opened her mouth.

"Before you ask," she said while pointing at Twilight, "this is not Princess Twilight Sparkle. This world is parallel to Equestria, there are two of pretty much everyone, and while we haven't run into my duplicate, or any of yours, this is the Twilight Sparkle from this world. Okay?!"

All present gaped in silence before Lemon leaned over to whisper (loudly, so all three of them could hear) into the sirens' ears. "It's true, I know that Twilight."

"Oh," mumbled Adagio under her breath, "uh..." She scrutinized Twilight and got a sheepish smile and a little wave back, but no hint of recognition in her eyes. She nodded curtly. "Very well, but if it's not Princess Sparkle, why did you bring her here?"

"Because she's our friend," answered Rainbow Dash, clutching an electric guitar (for Rainbooming!) attached to a very, very, very, very long extension cord that she'd apparently trailed all the way out here with her, "but guess you wouldn't know much about that."

"Excuse-" demanded Aria as she rose up where she was easier to see, followed by "-us?!" Sonata, the latter looking particularly incensed. "We've stuck together no matter what happened, thank you very much! How long ago was it that your whole group was broken up over a few misunderstandings, or shouting at each other in a locked room?!"

Her question went ignored as Applejack slapped a hand on top of her head, the other stretched out to point at the creatures hanging from Adagio's sides. "Landsakes, them's snakes!! They're, th-they're-"

"A-dorable," finished Fluttershy as she clasped her hands together, staring at the twin serpents with wide, starry eyes, "and just look at those scales!"

Chuckling, Adagio grinned haughtily as she too admired her appendages. "Nice to see at least one of your number can appreciate beauty, Sunset Shimmer."

"Yea, yea," deadpanned Sunset while resting a hand on Twilight's shoulder, "but you guys get that this is a different Twilight, right?"

"Sure, whatever," Aria replied with a disdainful eye-roll, "doesn't make a difference to us." She was a little annoyed when the hick pointed at her again.

"Talkin' snakes!!"

Sunset smiled as she looked at Twilight. "They get it, Twilight, they really listened this time."

Twilight smiled back. "Thanks, Sunset."

"Hey, guys," Pinkie cut in with loud whispers, looking squarely at Lemon Zest, "you notice how she isn't doing the big, brainwash-smile everyone else around here is doing? Try not to react to this, but I think she's going covert to take 'em down from the inside!"

Having heard all of that, much like the sirens that were now giving her quizzical looks, Lemon chuckled. "Nah, I'm with the bad guys this time." This won her looks of shock and horror from the Canterlot High kids, which granddad had always said was a good time to explain herself. "Well, y'see, I knew from the moment I saw her that Dagi here was way evil, no offense-"

She grinned. "None taken!"

"-so when she started the whole rope-me-into-her-plans bit, I just knew there'd be another big, crazy, magical showdown sooner or later, like at the Friendship Games! That was sorta why I stuck around at first." She glanced at the sirens again and smiled. "...But then, we kinda became friends, so..." Looking back at the gaping Rainbooms, she shrugged. "I mean, sucks that we're kinda enemies right now, but this gonna be totally wicked!!"

Rarity took hold of her own head in both hands. "How can you willingly take their side while knowing they're the villains here?!" She blinked, giving the sirens an apologetic smile. "It feels so strange to refer to living people in such storybook terms out loud. Lovely kimono, by the way!"

Sonata grinned. "Thanks!"

"Well," continued Lemon, "Twilight over there went all world-ending magical rampage once, didn't get punished in any way, shape, or form afterward, and now you're all pretty chummy, so what's the big deal?"

"That was completely different," said Sunset with a scowl, "Cinch forced her into it and she was whacked out on the magic at the time!"

"No, I wasn't."

Sunset slowly turned her head so fast she was in danger of pulling a muscle in her neck. "Huh?!"

Twilight answered very calmly. "I was aware, Sunset. I knew exactly what I was doing, and at the time, I just didn't care, like anyone on a power trip." She couldn't help a little smile at her scientific exploits. "I've been reviewing what happened in my spare time, studying the data acquired over and over again, and the only magic I took was out of the portal and you guys. Would you say either of those were likely to corrupt me?"

"Well, n-no, but-"

"Another thing," Lemon picked up, "it wasn't like Cinch alone pushed her, all of the Shadowbolts joined in and we didn't even get any dirty looks for it after." She offered Twilight a guilty smile. "Again, super sorry about that."

"It's okay, at least you guys tried to help after I'd turned." Twilight looked back at Sunset. "But she's right; I received no real penalty for nearly destroying the universe just so I could learn more about another one." No one noticed the sirens mouthing 'destroy the universe' in shock. "If I could get away with that-"

Smiling brightly, Lemon finished for her. "Then what's the matter with this?"

Sunset needed a second to get her jaw working properly. "Th-the matter, is that you're knowingly doing something evil!"

Lemon shrugged. "So did you, and everyone got over it. You guys'll probably still win like always," Adagio loosed a quiet 'Hmph!' at this, "-we'll sing a little song, and then we'll all be pals. No problem!"

"That's not what happened last time," said Rainbow while pointing an accusatory finger at the siren-hydra (sydra?), "because these three ran off!"

"We were driven off," hissed Aria, "or did you forget the part where people started chucking stuff at us? I've got an idea; let's see you stick around and take it!"

At that, the fifty-or-so-strong army encircled the Rainbooms, many of them brandishing food items that they may have been hoping to offer their three-headed lady. Sonata tilted her head.

"Wait, we're just gonna have 'em pelted with food and stuff? I thought you wanted to to kick the shit out of 'em, Aria!"

Aria rolled her eyes. "That part comes after, doofus."

Surrounded, the Rainbooms ducked down and banded together, with Rarity doing all she could to cover her hair as they collectively waited for the pelting to start. However, just as the crowd were readying the first volley, Sunset called out to the sirens.

"I'm sorry you were driven off!"

Silence. One Crystal Prep student was winding up an arm to throw when Adagio issued a loud, percussive command.

"Hold." Her minions, and Lemon, froze in place as she fixed Sunset with a snake-eyed stare, one eyebrow raised. "You're sorry we fled, or you're sorry we weren't drafted into your little 'friendship' cult?"

Sunset frowned, but her tone remained calm and collected. "You probably see us as being every bit as manipulative as you are, right? Peer pressure and the hope of continued togetherness being just another kind of mind-control, on a different level?" Adagio nodded. "Well, there might be a kernel of truth there; people do feel compelled to do things they wouldn't have otherwise when urged by those they care about, but there's a little more to it than that."

Only because she had brought up exactly this topic before did Sunset not worry about her friends' reactions to that statement. "The difference is that I can assure you; if friendship is manipulative, it's manipulation worth submitting to." All three sirens stared at her in surprise for this, so she kept going. "It's not like you're a slave to everyone you call your friend, and they're not yours. You do things for each other because you want to, even if only to make someone else happy, whether it's immediately returned or not. That's just scratching the surface. If that sounds bad to you," she pointed at Lemon, "then maybe you can explain to me why she isn't just another slave like the rest."

Adagio had half-expected an answer like that, nodding calmly. "It began with a lack of mastery of our new power, actually, and she remained this way because I didn't want to risk turning her brain to slush. Growing to appreciate her company was a complete accident." She shot Lemon an apologetic little grin. "Sorry."

"Ahh, don't worry 'bout it," Lemon giggled, "I buddied up with Sugarcoat in the same way."

"So, to answer your question," Sunset said with a smile, "I guess it's a bit of both; I'm sorry you three felt like you had to run away before we had a chance to talk. I'm sorry you never even got an offer to give our way a try, whether you'd have refused or not, but I'm offering it now. You said those gems meant an awful lot to you. If that was true, I'm sorry they were broken. It isn't fair that our circumstances were so different, but I hope that you'll stop this here before someone gets hurt."

A long silence followed until Aria slithered up to Adagio's ear to whisper. "I can't tell, is she just bluffing us?"

Sonata did the same. "Roll for Sense Motive!"

"Actually," Adagio whispered back, looking Sunset dead in the eye, "I think she's being sincere..."

Given what she'd just heard about Little Miss Destroyer of Universes standing beside them, Adagio was inclined to believe it. She didn't know what kind of power this new Twilight Sparkle had gotten her hands on to reach that level, if she still had it, or if the Rainbooms had come into something that could match it (which, really, they might have had already), but they must have had some power.

They broke up our magic once before. If I gave the order to subdue them, right now, would they be overwhelmed before they could focus their energies, or would I only be burning a bridge in doing so? If that happens, we'll be stuck this way forever. But, if they're lying, if this is all a feint and they're planning to finish us off this time, we could be-

Adagio's indecision was cut short when, to her horror, her idiots vocalized their choice for her.

"Pfft," scoffed Aria, "like we'd ever go along with you dorks."

"Yea," Sonata added with a smug smirk, "we've totally got it made right now!"

The Rainbooms visibly tensed, but the new Twilight Sparkle (unless that was all part of a trick too) stepped forward, her eyes earnest and her lips set in a little frown. "Is this really what you want? I may not know as much as I'd like about magic, but I know the kind you're using comes at a price." The way both serpents winced as they looked at each other told her she was onto something, which she answered with a smile. "I wouldn't have thought so either, but just living day-to-day life with your friends is... well, pretty invigorating! Virtually guaranteed happiness increase by at least twenty percent even at the worst of times!" She glanced at Rainbow for the last sentence, getting a chuckle back as Rainbow strummed her guitar and smiled at the sirens.

"Winning a contest is great and all, but it's a lot more fun when there's nothing serious on the line, y'know?

Fluttershy mumbled something at her shoes, possibly on account of the many, many people looking at her, but Rarity smiled in sympathy and placed a steadying hand on her back as she relayed the message to the sirens. "She said, 'I'm sure we could find all kinds of fun things to do together, even if it isn't competitive,' and I quite concur."

"Heck," said Applejack while angling her hat to cut Aria and Sonata out of her vision, "y'all could probably even come on back to CHS if ya wanted, not like we got tight rules fer all that."

"Wait, wait, wait," insisted Lemon, frowning as she glanced between her buddies from CHS and her new 'Master,' "does this mean there's not gonna be a big, magical showdown?"

Pinkie giggle-snorted. "Aww, don't worry about it, Ehl-Zee! Even if we don't do the wizzle-wazzle magic stuff, we can still totally have a blast-" she fired off a little confetti canon, "at a party!"

And then everything got quiet. Pinkie looked around to find out why, first noticing that all of her friends had paled for some reason. Except Rarity, but she was always sorta pale anyway. Actually, right now she was looking a little not-pale. Red in the face, actually! And she was scowling really hard for some reason as she stepped closer to Pinkie.

Carefully drawing a long, glittery piece of shiny paper from her now-messy, confetti-laden hair, Rarity spoke barely above a cold whisper. "Pinkiemena Diane Pie? I have been very, very patient with you..."

Still looking at the increasingly perplexed sirens with a very forced smile, Sunset spoke through gritted teeth. "Rarity? Not now please?"

"I asked so nicely, didn't I? And when that didn't work, I asked much less nicely, didn't I? Ohh, yes, I did..."

Glancing back and forth, Sunset noted Pinkie to be slowly backing away from Rarity while wearing an apologetic grin. "Forgiveness, Rarity, we were just talking about forgiveness!" In a roundabout kind of way, but still.

Pinkie was stopped by the wall of mind-controlled minions, who stretched their arms to keep her from escaping the circle even as Rarity drew closer. Rarity stopped, looked back at Sunset, and smiled warmly. "Oh, Sunset, of course I'm going to forgive her! But first," She turned back toward Pinkie with blazing eyes. "I'LL DESTROY HER!!"

At that, Pinkie squeaked with fright and ran around the inner perimeter of the circle to escape the wrathful Rarity, who charged after in hot pursuit. Sunset, worried that maybe this wasn't the best demonstration of friendship for the sirens, who watched with raised eyebrows, tried to control the situation by turning to her stationary friends. "Guys? We should really stop her now!"

Watching the spectacle, Applejack crossed her arms and sighed. "Normally, Ah might agree, but Pinkie's kinda had this one comin'."


"She made 'er bed, now she's gotta sleep in it."

Rainbow tilted her head. "What kinda countryism is that? What else do you do with a bed after making it, burn the house down?"

Applejack scowled at her. "It's an expression!"

"I'm just saying, only a total fruit loop makes their bed with no intention of ever sleeping in it agai-WOAH!" Pinkie and Rarity zipped past her so fast that she was sent spinning, with Applejack stepping forward to try to stop her. What neither realized was the way the extension cord Rainbow had been trailing was swept up in this motion, quickly ensnaring the two of them as they lost balance and fell to the grass, tied together like a bale of hay.

Looking herself and Rainbow over, Applejack's eyebrows furrowed. "Dagnabbit."

Sunset facepalmed, looking back at the three-headed Dazzling to see Aria and Sonata snickering at this, Adagio just wearing a smirk of amusement.

Fluttershy stepped closer to get started on untying Rainbow and Applejack, but Rainbow shooed her away.

"Wait, wait, I can get outta this myself! I was watching this thing on escape artists last week!" She wriggled in place for a moment. "Hang on... just gotta... get the... knots to... hrrng!"

"That ain't how ya do it," complained Applejack making motions of her own, "ya gotta roll over so the loose side is up!"

"I know that, and it's on this side!"

"No it ain't, Ah can feel where the cords are overlappin' right over- hrn! -here!"

The two continued to struggle, possibly against each other, as Fluttershy worriedly twiddled her fingers. "Um, I-I could just untie you both myse-EEK!!" Pinkie and Rarity zipping by didn't quite send her flying the way it did Rainbow, but it did startle her into falling backwards-


-onto a whoopie cushion that Pinkie had dropped. Fluttershy immediately burned crimson. "Oh, my."

All three of the sirens were laughing now, in addition to most of their servants as Sunset frantically looked around, wracking her brain for a way to stop this. Pinkie ran behind Twilight as if to use her for cover.

"Twily, help! She's gone bonkers!"

Luckily, furious though she was, Rarity retained enough sanity to not plow through their newest friend. "Twilight, stand aside."


"Stay back, Rarity," Pinkie reached into one of Twilight's pockets, drawing a small, faintly glowing object not unlike the spectrometer used in the Friendship Games, "we've got doohickeys!"

Looking at the device, Twilight's eyes widened. "DON'T TOUCH THAT, IT'S-"

As Pinkie was already unwittingly holding down a button, a bright, purple pulse emanated from the device in a short sphere, uncertain traces of magic spreading out over her, her friends, and the grass beneath them. Every blade of foliage twisted into curls while pointing upward, not unlike the hair on every Rainboom's head as they all suddenly found themselves with comically huge afros.

Twilight sighed. "...experimental."

Lemon, the sirens, and quite a few servants fell over, laughing, crying, and struggling for breath. This applied most of all to the sirens, who, while in possession of three laughing heads, had only two lungs. The pain quickly grew intense, tears streaming down their faces as they laughed and laughed and laughed. Adagio could feel herself going light-headed.

I can't breathe!! Damn you, Sunset Shimmer, was this your plan all along?!

Sunset, meanwhile, stood amidst her friends, hands on her head as she resisted the urge to scream and pull her afro out at just how badly the situation had deteriorated. Rarity was now chasing Pinkie and Twilight, who said she wasn't working on any more magical projects in secret, goddammit, Applejack and Rainbow were still rolling around on the ground, bickering while trying to untangle themselves from the extension cord (their afros were apparently making orientation difficult), and Fluttershy was just curled into a mortified ball under the sounds of laughter in all directions. Paralyzed with indecision as to who to help first, Sunset stood rooted in place.

This could not be going worse.

Gasping for breath that was immediately stolen from her through Aria and Sonata's continued laughter, Adagio exerted control to clamp their mouths shut and take several slow, deep breaths, thinking about dull, unfunny things, like fixing the gems and subway stations. In a little over a minute, she managed to shout a command.


She was still lying on her back and breathing in ragged gasps, but the next sounds she heard indicated that the laughter was dying down and a few more bodies had hit the grass. When she sat up, she was pleased to see all of the Rainbooms had been caught, arms held behind their backs as they were pinned down by two or three servants apiece. Lolling her head to one side as she continued to breathe hard, Adagio looked to her nearest servant(?) for help. "Lemon Zest... help me up...?"

Lemon was still rolling on the floor, clutching her sides in pain. "I th-think I wet myse-heh-helf, hahahahaha!"

Looking back at the group, Adagio instead ordered two that were specifically not holding any of the Rainbooms already to come lift her up, which they did by carefully gripping Aria and Sonata by the base of their necks; Adagio's underarms. She was annoyed that one of those touching her was male, but ignored it in favor of staring down at the positively miserable face of Sunset Shimmer.

"We'll be... with you... in a... m-moment..." She took another deep breath, then let Aria and Sonata open their mouths again. "Bring us inside," she told her carriers before looking at the rest, "and don't let any of those girls move."

Sunset watched in silence as the sirens were brought into their home(?) to decide the fate of her and her friends.

Chapter 9: Sayonara to Snake-arms!

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With Adagio's feet limply trailing over the ground, the sirens were carried inside, where only their hypnotized mind-slaves would hear them. "Aria? Sonata? How would you feel about taking their offer?" They stared at her in surprise, which she met with a solemn look. "I've read that damn book cover to cover and found nothing I could use to turn us back. Those girls can dispell dark magic. I know our human bodies are a step down from what we once were, but if we don't get their help now, we may never even have that much again." It plucked something in Adagio's chest that her cute, serpentine sisters looked at her with fear.

"So, what," Aria asked with a worried frown, "we're just gonna surrender? After all this?"

"No, of course not! We're going to negotiate." She got two uncertain looks for this. "Even if we could outright enslave them, it's questionable whether or not we could get them to work their magic on us harmlessly while they were thralls, and we'd have some explaining to do if the book's magic dissipated soon after. This isn't even accounting for another appearance by some hitherto unknown element that completely swings everything in their favor again."

Neither Aria nor Sonata said a word at this. Adagio might have been a little paranoid ever since learning about the blue-haired girl and her magic car, but as they hadn't seen her with the Rainbooms this time either, maybe it was worth worrying about.

"We need them to work with us willingly, and to get that, we'll have to compromise."

Sonata pouted. "Aww, I hate compromising!"

Aria raised an eyebrow. "Surprised you know what that word means." She got an angry pout back.

"I know it means giving up stuff!"

"Yes," Adagio curtly interrupted, "but that doesn't mean we have to give up everything. We'll still reclaim our birthright some day, we'll still find a way to fix our gems, but the book, unfortunately, wasn't it. In fact, I'm thinking we can use it as a bargaining chip if things get desperate."

"But we still have to give up the hypno-powers?"

"I don't see a way for us to keep that and still return to individual bodies, Sonata, and the Rainbooms would never let us have even one servant through magic."

Sonata made a hopeful, pleading grin. "Not even a secret one? We could dress 'em in leather and say they're our gimp!"

Predictably, Aria flushed neon pink. "Gah, g-gawd, no! We're gonna have our own arms again, Sonata, so we won't need these guys-" she nodded to the two still holding them up, "-anyway!"

Not sold, Sonata pouted. "I know, but having to get stuff ourselves again is gonna suck!"

Adagio raised an eyebrow. "As much as being an arm?" Said arms were very quiet. "I'm actually a little surprised you two haven't complained more about being fused to me."

"Well, y'know," said Aria while flicking a fin, "I think all three of us were itching to get our magic back these last couple'a months, and it was kinda nice being in our old skin-" she smiled apologetically at Adagio's annoyed, envious stare, "-sorry, Dagi!"

"Rrrgh... I'm. Completely. Over it. Really."

"Right, uh... Anyway, by now? I miss having my own body, whether we've got people to do everything for us or not." Privacy was nice too, but she wasn't about to give her vicious sisters that kind of ammo.

"Alright," Adagio said with some finality, "then we go back out there, don't antagonize them any more than we already have, and see if we can't strike a deal that doesn't leave us as their servants." Sonata in particular looked shocked at this last part.

"They can't make us slaves when we're not allowed to have any!"

Aria rolled her eyes. "I'unno, wouldn't put it past 'em."

"Regardless," said Adagio as she rested her feet firmly on the floor again, shrugging off the two that had carried her, "keep those kinds of thoughts to yourself until we're out of this."

Having recuperated from their near-death experience with fatal hilarity, the sirens walked back out to the porch under their own power. Lemon had pulled herself together as well and was doing card tricks for the still-pinned, afro-addled Rainbooms.

"...And I know this isn't your card, but here in my sock is the Queen of Hearts!"

Twilight sputtered. "Whuh, h-how, when did-"

Rarity rolled her eyes. "I hope you'll forgive us for not applauding in our current state, Lemon Zest."

"No worries!"

Adagio cleared her throat, again looking down at Sunset Shimmer. She held her tongue regarding any and all comments about relishing the sight or being loathe to work with her of all people. "We have... agreed to discuss your proposal."

Her face brightening immeasurably, one would think Sunset had forgotten that she was still being held down. "Really?! That's great!!"

She really wants this, Adagio thought to herself, use that! But first, a show of good faith. She nodded. "Servants? Let them stand."

The Rainbooms were released. Most of them held their breath as Rarity glared at a very, very contrite Pinkie, but the young fashionista had apparently cooled off enough to wait until later to seek retribution, sighing as she offered Pinkie a little smile. It was returned with gusto.

"Okay," began Sunset, "so, what did you have in mind?"

"We'll release all of our slaves and relinquish the magic we've used to ensnare them. In exchange, we want your help in getting our old bodies back and the freedom to continue to try to fix our gems."

Sunset needed a second to process the statement. "Okay, uh... first, when you say 'our old bodies'...?"

"Being returned to our full glory would be lovely, but we'd settle for the forms you first saw us in."

"Ah, okay. If it's as simple as breaking whatever spell you used to turn into... that, then I think we can do that."

To Adagio's mild surprise, Aria glared. "We aren't letting you rainbow-zap us again!"

Rainbow, whom the servants had politely untied with Applejack when given the order to let them stand, furrowed her eyebrows. "What?! How else are we gonna break the spell?!"

"We don't care," chimed Sonata, her face equally annoyed, "but we don't wanna get hit with that thing again!"

"Ohh, suck it up, it's just lights and stuff!"

"Deal," said Sunset, "no rainbow-zapping." The exclamations of shock from her friends had her turn toward them, Rainbow in particular, with a very cold stare. "Do any of you know just how much that actually hurts?" The unsure looks going around said they didn't, though Twilight may have had an idea.

"I didn't get quite the same thing, but I remember that ray you hit me with being... unpleasant. If we're not fighting them, there must be a way to administer the same effect more gently, right? Because willingly taking your hand didn't hurt at all."

Nodding, Sunset turned back toward the sirens with a smile. "It might take some time, but I think we can work something out there." Then she slowly slipped into a frown. "But, uh... that second part, about your gems...?"

Knowing where this was headed, Adagio rolled her eyes. "Relax. We learned the first time what happens in a head-on conflict, but those gems were part of our bodies from the day we were born." She frowned a little herself. "We just want our birthright back, even if we can't go wild with it anymore." Truth be told, the gems could work with a lot more than just negative energy, but nothing else was quite as powerful and plentiful. Still, the Rainbooms didn't need to know that, or they'd be confined to songs about skipping in the sunshine for life.

Ever since she had come to this world, Sunset missed her horn. It wasn't a constant feeling of loss, but it never really left her altogether, either. She smiled in sympathy. "As long you guys can promise to resist the urge to cause huge fights and suck up the energy to keep doing it, I think-"

"Actually," interrupted Twilight while punching numbers into her pocket calculator, "from what you've told me about the sirens, all we'd really need to do to prevent their return is not argue, our group in particular, because if there's only one portal to Equestria, the odds of them finding anyone else with anything near the same level of magic are so abysmal that it's nearly hopeless."

"Are you accounting for the fact that they clearly found completely separate magic on their own?"

Twilight blinked, glanced back and forth at the snake-woman and her calculator, and pouted. "But... but... n-numbers!"

Still offering a sympathetic smile, Sunset gently pat her back. "Numbers may not lie, but sometimes they don't have all the data."

"Yea, yea," Aria cut in, "we'll keep our pants on, we just want our legacy back, okay?"

Remembering that she was given the benefit of the doubt too, if only by her friends, Sunset smiled. "Okay. Now," she glanced around at the mind-slave army, "there's one more little thing we've gotta talk about..."

Sonata rolled her eyes. "What? We already said we'd let 'em all go, what more do you want?"

Lemon actually answered this one first. "We've gotta say 'sorry.' I think that's where things really went bad for you guys last time; you never did the important apology part."

"We didn't get much of a chance," hissed Aria through gritted teeth.

"Maybe not, but we've got one now, right? Like this." She faced the Rainbooms, stood straight, and bent over at a 90-degree angle with her arms at her sides in a traditional, Japanese bow. "Sorry for all the trouble we caused."

There was a pause before everyone turned to look at the sirens, who looked over themselves in confusion. Adagio in particular seemed flummoxed. "I... Given the current distribution of my body weight, I don't think I can manage that pose without tipping over."

"Yea," remarked Sonata, "your hair would be way too heavy!"

"Shut up!!"

There were giggles from everyone but Applejack, who still wasn't looking anywhere near the talking snakes. "It'd prob'ly be enough if ya just said the words, Sugarcube."

Moving up to Adagio's ear, Aria whispered her complaint. "Do we have to?"

"Grin and bear it," she answered through a clenched jaw, "because even if all goes well, we're going to be powerless again soon." She addressed the Rainbooms at normal volume. "We're... sorry for causing so much trouble." The pill was easier to swallow when Aria and Sonata said it too. Unfortunately, Sunset gave them a sheepish look.

"That, uh... wasn't quite what I meant." Three irritable cries of 'WHAT?!' told her to talk fast. "I mean, that's a great first step, but I was actually referring to making things right with the people you've enthralled. You've torn these people away from their lives to serve you, and while they may think they're happy with that now, it's only fair that you-"

"Uhh, actually?" Lemon gestured to the sirens. "Dagi here pretty much gave everyone free reign to live their lives normally, it's not like we've just had everyone stand around the house this whole time. It might not have been for the nicest reasons, exactly, but nobody here was 'torn from their lives' for long, and she specifically ordered everyone to stay taken care of. That you caught us all together like this is sort of a happy accident." Lemon might have been disappointed about the lack of magical laser shows, but the hilariously gobsmacked looks of shock on the Rainbooms' faces was a pretty good consolation prize.

"Nobody here has really lost anything, guys, because for the average Crystal Prep student, most of the expenditures over the last few days have been chump change, and even the house barely makes a dent in the family that built half the city."

Sunset wasn't sold. "That... that may be, but it's still essentially theft, and stealing from someone just because they have a lot of something doesn't make it right!"

"The house could easily be made into a tea shop," offered Adagio, somewhat uncertainly, "I don't know how much the necessary renovations would add to the cost, but with the set-up we have in a few rooms, you could easily make the place into a relaxing hub for food, drinks, and civil discourse. Give it time, and that may eventually cover the cost of the place."

Her face doubtful, Rainbow crossed her arms. "How many people would really visit a place just to sit around sipping tea?" She was startled by Fluttershy's immediate answer.

"You might be surprised."

"...Okay then?"

"If they did the whole Japanese thing," continued Lemon, "people might pay more for the atmosphere than the drinks themselves, and there's gotta be something we can do with that flatscreen hanging from the living room ceiling."

"Alright, alright," said Sunset while dismissively waving one arm, "so you've more or less got that part down, now-... Rarity? What are you doing?"

As Sunset had been looking behind the sirens when she asked that question, they turned and were startled to find the girl in question fussing over Adagio's hair, even while her own remained a huge, puffy afro. "Fixing this messy top-knot of hers, it got all disheveled while she was rolling around on the floor- which is terrible for a kimono! -and I simply can't stand it any longer!"

Not wanting to do anything outright hostile at this point, Adagio tried to step out of her reach, but was immediately followed. "It's fine, just leave it!"

"It most certainly is not! My hair might be a trainwreck right now, but yours is an easy fix, like a crooked portrait that just needs righting, and the kimono could use straightening up too!"

"Oh, here, lemme!" Lemon quickly joined in, tightening up what had come loose during the shenanigans.

Increasingly baffled, Adagio had no words at all when Aria craned her neck around to look at Rarity.

"Careful back there, if the wrong hairpin comes undone, the whole thing'll break loose and rip your face off."

"Duly noted, Miss... You know, I never caught your name."

"Aria Blaze."

"Rarity, nice to formally meet you! May I say that your scales have an almost silken shine to them?"

Adagio beamed. "Right?!"

There were more giggles and exchanging of names (both groups had spent the longest time mostly referring to the other as 'the Rainbooms' or 'the Dazzlings,' give or take the leaders in each) before an agreement was made for everyone (barring the soon-to-be-free mind-slaves) to meet up at CHS to see what could be done about reverting the sirens to their human forms. As the Rainbooms walked back to the bus, Applejack gave Sunset a curious look.

"Ya sure we can trust 'em not to go doin' what they did again somewhere down the road?"

"Pretty sure. They could have taken the entire city, maybe more, as they were, had all the power they could have wanted, and didn't use it. If they could look at that and decide they didn't want it, there's gotta be hope for them too, because if it were me? The old me? I'd have made all of you my slaves forever without a second thought." She felt all the familiar twinges of guilt and shame, but her friends only smiled at her in understanding, which helped make it go away faster. "They had that same choice and chose to start over rather than pursue a path they knew they didn't want, even if it wasn't for the best reasons." Giggling, she winked. "Plus, if the legacy they wanted back is just their gems, I'm not worried, because I know enough about geological spell matrices to know that they won't be able to fix those things without the right equipment any time soon. And in the meantime, maybe they can make some more friends at CHS?"

Pinkie frowned. "Wouldn't that take them away from Lemon? Their first real buddy besides each other?"

Twilight shook her head. "If no one minds a bus-ride and they all have phones, keeping in touch is pretty easy. I may not spend time with them on a daily basis, but the Shadowbolts still invite me to outings sometimes."

"More importantly," said Rainbow, "those three don't go to CHS, I'm pretty sure they live over here now."

Chuckling, Sunset smirked. "Just leave that part to me, I think I can convince them to come back..."


That night, Rarity helped fix everyone's comical afros, exacting her revenge on Pinkie Pie by making her hair very, very straight. Pinkie's sisters interpreting this as Pie solidarity led to much confusion.


One week later...

The Dazzlings sat around a table in their old apartment in their own, separate bodies again, quietly enjoying a dinner of leftover pizza. Aria, as was common for her, talked with her mouth full.

"Corn't buhleeve they hulped us move back 'ere."

"I can," deadpanned Adagio, "it was their idea. To keep an eye on us, no doubt, but they were right about getting away from the people we once enslaved. We don't know whether or not all the memories of us I ordered them to purge are truly gone, or just deeply buried and might resurface someday, but not seeing our fa-well, my face, reduces the chances of anyone remembering anything we don't want them to." That she happened to know her way around this part of Canterlot much better was a happy coincidence. Really.

Few of their early lessons had stuck with Sonata by this point in her life, but table manners was, mercifully, one of them as she swallowed her mouthful before speaking. "I can't believe you went around asking all the brain-slaves how much they spent on us! The Rainbooms weren't around when we were letting them go and we could'a totally gotten away with that one!"

"We could have, but if I hadn't tallied up our debt, it may have come back to bite us, and that's if the Rainbooms don't outright force us into hard labor to pay it off." Propping up her head on one arm, she sighed. "It was nice of Lemon to repay all of them herself, but I don't know how we're going to repay her now."

Aria just rolled her eyes. She knew Adagio was serious about appeasing the Rainbooms if she was determined to 'clean up their mess' even when Lemon waved it off, eventually agreeing to let the sirens pay her back just for Adagio's peace of mind. That didn't cover the cost of building the house, but... "Lemon still helping 'em set up the new 'tea shop' over there? It's lucky that her family is all about that traditional atmosphere crud, because I don't think it would have worked if you hadn't set up the guys who paid to build the place into thinking it was their idea."

Adagio just chuckled. Erasing memories was convenient, but implanting them was an artform. "She called earlier today. If all goes well, the, er, Hebi No Onna Herbal Beverages shop should be open for business some time next week." This won an amused snort out of Aria.

"D'you really burn the book like you told the Rainbooms?" The sinister look on Adagio's face was answer enough, but she and Sonata were still treated to a cryptic half-truth anyway. It was something they'd long ago learned to live with, made easier with how those kinds of theatrics livened up their Sewers and Sphinxes games. Adagio was nothing if not emphatic as a DM.

"Ohh, I'd never dream of using the book that way again, especially after the trouble those nice girls went to to turn us back." Reflecting on that day, her smirk slipped away. "It, really was nice of them to refrain from just blasting us and hoping for the best." According to Princess Twilight, such an act while they were morphed into a creature of dark magic may have broken more than just the spell. Or their voices. Apparently, they were extremely fortunate not to have been physically fused to their gems in this world after all...

Turning pink, Sonata shrunk down in her seat. "It was kinda embarrassing when they broke the spell and we popped up naked..." Judging by Aria's sudden imitation of a Stop sign, Sonata guessed she agreed. She smiled sheepishly at Adagio. "Thanks for taking off the kimono so we weren't the only ones."

Smiling haughtily, Adagio brushed her hair aside, secretly thrilled to be able to do that with her own two arms again. "Any time. Princess Twilight joining in was a surprise, but she evidently doesn't like this world's arbitrary clothing rules any more than I do." She was equally surprised when Sunset didn't follow suit, as it were, but her turning scarlet while averting her eyes didn't make her claims that she was from Equestria and thus not bothered by nudity either very convincing.

The focus on someone else's embarrassment, Aria snickered. "The other Twilight actually fainted when the first one started taking her clothes off, bet that's gonna be awkward for her friends later!"

Sonata tilted her head. "Haven't you seen us naked a whole bunch too?"

Slapping a hand over her eyes might have been answer enough, but Aria never missed a chance. "Sh-shut up, Sonata!!"

Adagio had flushed crimson as well, ducking her head down in memory of her own agonizingly awkward moments when they were a snake-woman, but to her quiet gratitude, Aria and Sonata had never mentioned them since. Still, couldn't hurt to change the subject. "We don't have any classes together, so I have to ask; how have you two been doing in school, since we returned? Not getting harassed too much, I hope?"

Crossing her arms, Aria shook her head just as much to throw off certain images. "Just the usual dirty looks and snide comments, nothin' outta the ordinary."

"Hm. Well, I'm not exactly expecting anyone to trust us, but maybe we can use that disdain the 'friendliest school in the world' is happy to throw our way. I can't begin to guess how long it might take, but we will repair our gems some day."

There was a pause. Aria frowned. "So, uh... When that happens, what exactly are we gonna do with our magic? Because if I'm bein' honest? Trying to make people our slaves hasn't ended well since before we were banished." Judging by Adagio's grimace, she hadn't forgotten either.

"We'll, um... We'll have to be careful how we use our birthright when it's returned to us, yes. The Rainbooms won't show any mercy the second time. Still, like I told them, I'd settle for just having it back, even if we have to restrain ourselves."

Sonata smiled hopefully. "But, we can still make people fetch us stuff, right?" Her sisters chuckled, which probably wasn't a 'no'!

"More importantly," said Aria while directing a severe expression at Adagio, "you're gonna take it easier with working on those things, right?"

"Of course not," she scoffed, "why would-ack!"

Aria and Sonata were both doing the one thing she thought they'd never be able to sway her with again after the loss of their scales, fins, and snake-like eyes; giving her a double-dose of puppy-dog stares. She felt her willpower crumbling apart like a dried sandcastle. It wasn't like they were asking her to stop altogether, right? They wanted their gems back too, but Aria had a point in that spending every waking moment trying to repair them hadn't done them many favors. In fact, what was the lesson their own servants had posed to them? That maybe obsession wasn't all intent focus and desirable results? She sighed.

"Alright, alright, I'll... I'll find a hobby or something. Maybe make a new campaign in that game we played a few times."

Sharing a quick look of contentment, Aria and Sonata smiled, the latter in particular. "Y'know, the Twilight with the glasses saw our books when we were moving, and said her friends play it too. She even invited us to join them the next time they got together for a session!"

"Really?" Aria grinned wickedly. "Sweet, I can roll a thief and rob 'em all blind!"

And the siren sisters laughed. They may not have known exactly what their future held, but as always, they would face it together.

...Just, less-so than they had as woman with snake-arms.