Attempted automated wordcount. Please use LibreOffice/MSOffice for an accurate count: 96673
thanks, author! If you wish to have this removed from this list, email ra.llan.pcl+complaints @, making sure to provide proof that you are the author.

Editors & Proof-readers: Trevor, understatedHyperbole, Cardslafter, Fifth Alicorn


It was a gorgeous summer afternoon in Ponyville.

The sun shone in the clear sky, the birds sang and flew cheerfully, the leaves on the trees swayed in the gentle breeze, and ponies chatted, worked, baked, and played merrily in the streets.

I wish I was out there, thought the young filly as she gazed out of the library window, but no, I’m stuck here, studying. She turned to glare at the open tome in front of her.

“Sweetie Belle?” a voice called from the kitchen, snapping her out of her reverie, “Do you like sugar in your tea?”

Uh, yeah, Twilight! Just one cube!”

Okay, one cube it is!” came the cheerful reply.

The young unicorn grimaced, partly in guilt at her current thoughts and partly because she knew Twilight would turn drinking tea into practice.

“Here you go, the purple unicorn said with a smile as she set a cup next to the tome. She levitated her own cup a bit longer before she sat at the table, across from Sweetie Belle. “Did you finish the chapter?”

“Uh...” The filly looked down guiltily.

The purple unicorn gave her a gentle smile. “Don’t worry. Now, do you remember the spell we’ve been working on?”

The filly nodded. She had been right. Practice time. “Yes... Pres... pres - ti - digi - tation?”

Twilight chuckled. “It’s a long name, I know. Prestidigitation.” She looked to the younger unicorn expectantly.

“Presti-digitation,” the filly repeated, earning a slight nod that was Twilight’s way of wordlessly coaxing her on. “It’s... a very simple spell... I mean, an ele-men-tary spell... that has limited effects,” Sweetie repeated from what she could remember of Twilight’s rather exhaustive lecture. “It doesn’t do much, but it allows the unicorn casting it to create ghostly sounds, move small objects, paint things temporarily...” she trailed off, struggling to remember more.

“And,” the purple unicorn said, “it also allows for a bit of temperature manipulation.”

Sweetie Belle blinked. “Temporal what now?”

Temperature manipulation,” Twilight repeated, she looked at Sweeties slightly blank expression and sighed. “In other words, you can cool things down a bit with it, or warm them up.”

“Oooh... I get it!” Sweetie Belle grinned.

“Good, because you are going to use that to cool down your tea a bit so you can drink it.”

Sweetie Belle looked a bit dubious, but nevertheless turned her attention to the cup. Wisps of steam emanated from her tea, a silent statement of how hot it still was. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on the cup, feeling her magic circulate through her body until it concentrated on her horn.

However, her mind was clearly not on the task at hand as she noticed when she opened her eyes and found that her tea was now boiling hot. She watched the bubbles despondently until her mentor slowly cooled it down.

Twilight sighed and looked out the window. “It's okay, Sweetie,” she said after a moment, trying to maintain her cheery attitude, “I know you would rather be doing something else than sitting here with me reading these dusty old books.”

The younger unicorn almost flinched at the badly disguised undertone of sadness in Twilight's voice. “It's not that, Twilight, I promise!”

The purple unicorn glanced at her.

"It's just that... I mean, you're a great teacher and I enjoy learning with you... but... well, I miss Scootaloo and Apple Bloom."

Twilight nodded. “I know,” she said, sipping a bit of her tea, “But they're also taking lessons, Sweetie. Applejack took Apple Bloom to Appleloosa to learn about their apple farming techniques, and from there she's taking her all over, from Manehattan to Hoofington, to visit family. It's...” Twilight shrugged.  “A family tradition.”

The filly nodded. “I know... and Scootaloo is being coached by Rainbow Dash for the freestyle competition...” She sighed. “Last summer it was easier...”

Twilight smiled. “Well, it's a sign that you're growing up,” she said simply, “We all need to learn more to be able to be productive ponies of Equestria. I'm still studying under the Princess.”

Sweetie Belle nodded. “Yeah...”

And I sent her a message just this morning about taking you as an apprentice,” Twilight stated proudly.

“You told the Princess I’m your apprentice?!” The filly smiled broadly. “Yay! That means I’m officially your student!” She blinked, smile fading away. “But... we've been studying together for a week now. Why did you only just tell her today?”

Twilight blushed and looked away. “Honestly? I thought you would walk away after the second day,” she confessed after a short silence, “I thought that... that you would get tired of my lessons, or find them boring, or that I would talk too much and you would get annoyed and skip meeting me and go play...”

Sweetie Belle smiled carefully and decided not to confess she would have done any of those things instead of coming over were it not for her sister making her Pinkie Swear she would attend each class while she was off in Fillydelphia- or else.

Regardless of her silence, it must have shown in her face, because Twilight's proud smile slowly faded away until it was completely gone. The purple unicorn's shoulders sagged a bit and she looked at the softly steaming cup of tea held in her magic grasp for a few seconds. She stirred the tea morosely. “Oh.”

Sweetie Belle gulped. “I'm sorry, Twilight...” she said after a moment, “I really do want to go out and play...” She cringed when she saw the unicorn's shoulders sag a bit more. “But... I- I am enjoying studying with you,” she said a bit reluctantly. She knew it wasn’t fair to make Twilight feel bad. The studious unicorn was only trying to help her.

Twilight dared a small smile. “I sometimes forget that not everypony loves studying as much as I do.” She chuckled. “And Cheerilee keeps reminding me that taking a break is a good idea.” She smiled as she looked up at the surprised filly. “I'm glad you told me the truth... and that you like my classes, Sweetie. Why don't we close the tomes, finish our tea and I'll treat you to some ice cream?”

The younger unicorn's eyes lit up. “Really?”

Twilight smiled. “Why, yes! You've been very good, Sweetie, you've been studying for 5 hours straight!”

The filly blinked. Had it really been that long?

Maybe... maybe I’m enjoying this more than I thought...

It wasn't long before the two unicorns were ready to go.

“Spike! We're going out for a bit; could you watch the library for me, my number one assistant?”

“Sure thing, Twilight!” the dragon called back from the upper level, where he was shelving books.

“Good.” The purple unicorn smiled. “Ready, Sweetie?”



The sky was starting to darken by the time that Twilight and Sweetie Belle decided that they had taken enough of a break.


“Yes, Sweetie?”

The pair was laying down on the grass, listening to Lyra strum her lyre nearby in the dying light of the afternoon.

“I'm sorry I made you feel I didn't like your lessons.”

They had finished their ice cream, which had been a momentous occasion since Sweetie Belle had managed to hold it with her magic from beginning to end... something she had never done before.

The purple unicorn smiled and nuzzled the crusader. “It's okay, Sweetie. I could see that you were studying hard. And today you managed to levitate your Ice-cream from the moment we bought it until you finished it! I don't think yesterday you could’ve done it! That’s a huge leap!”

Sweetie Belle smiled, pleased with the praise she was receiving. The pair stood up and strolled through the park on their way to the Library.

“I think I know what to teach you tomorrow,” Twilight mused on the way.


“Yes. It's a bit more complicated but... I can start teaching you the basis for the spell.”

“What is it?”

Twilight smiled. “Well, given how you and the other crusaders get into so much trouble... how does a shield spell sound?”

The little filly's eyes widened. “You really think I can do it?!”

“Only one way to find out!”


As they approached the town proper and were just a few blocks away from the  Library, they heard several shouts. Turning to look at the source of the commotion, both unicorns stepped back as two very angry-looking wolves in chains and metal muzzles pulled a wagon into the plaza.

Sweetie Belle blinked in confusion, but Twilight immediately groaned. “Oh, Celestia, why her?”

“Who?” the filly asked, confused.

“Watch in awe!” a voice demanded as the wagon stopped in the middle of the plaza. Blue smoke rolled over the ground and into the air as fireworks lit up the sky, drawing everypony to gather around the wagon as it unfolded into a stage, but still keeping a healthy distance from the wolves. An explosion in the stage made them look up as a mare in a cape and magician’s hat reared on her hind legs and addressed the crowd. “As the Grrreat and Powerful Trixie performs the most amazing feats of magic and ingenuity!”

“Oooh!” Sweetie Belle clapped her hooves together excitedly. “A showpony! Let's go watch!”

Twilight shook her head and sighed as she followed the excited Sweetie Belle into the crowd.

In an instant, Trixie's eyes had found the purple unicorn. “I see,” she said with scorn, “Twilight Sparkle is here again, to challenge Trixie!”

Twilight groaned and glared at the showmare. “Trixie, I don't care about challenging you. You said you were here to perform; go ahead, I won’t interrupt you.

The blue unicorn laughed. “Trixie sees that you have learned your rightful place.” She looked down at the crowd. “Very well, if you are not here to interrupt, The Great and Powerful Trixie shall amaze you all!”

With a wave of her hoof, the two snarling wolves were levitated to stand on the stage on either side of her. “Since her departure from this town over a year ago, The Great and Powerful Trixie has undertaken a glorious quest. A quest of legendary proportions. She has toured the great marvels of not only Equestria, but of the world beyond its borders. And... recently, the most magnificent Trixie captured not one, but two of the most feared and infamous creatures in all Equestria!”

“Wow!” Sweetie said, “That’s amazing!”

“...” Twilight seemed to be about to say something, her eyes were fixed on the wolves, brow wrinkled in concentration. “Those wolves...”

“Behold!” Trixie shouted, pointing with one hoof at the wolf on her left, “Romulus!”

Twilight's eyes became pinpricks.

Trixie's other hoof slowly swept to point at the wolf on her right. “And Remus!”

“Amazing!” Sweetie Belle jumped up and down amongst the gasps of awe and amazement escaping the multitude of ponies around them.


Everypony stopped to look at Twilight.

The showmare growled. “What is it, Twilight Sparkle? The Great and Powerful Trixie has a show to perform, if you don’t recall.”

“Are you insane?! You caught Romulus and Remus and chained them in iron?!” Twilight's eye twitched.

Trixie snorted. “The Great and Powerful Trixie is not a moron! Nor is she an incompetent fool. She did not use simple iron.”

Twilight sighed and a trembling smile crept into her face. “Of- Of course, Trixie. I'm sorry, I forget you have traveled all over Equestria...”

Trixie smiled and nodded. “The Great and Powerful Trixie has!”

“... so you know a lot of the legends and myths of the world...”

Yes, yes Trixie knows many legends,” the showmare said.

“... so you would have of course used at least silver thread along magically engraved and enhanced iron shackles with the appropriate runes etched in silver or even platinum...”

“The Great... what?” Trixie had begun to nod again, but stopped as her mind worked out what Twilight was saying.

“And...” Celestia's apprentice sat down, relieved. “You would have accounted for the fact that tonight is a full moon, so you would have included a moon-energy absorption spell.”

“Trixie... wait...” The blue unicorn was starting to get nervous as the oblivious purple unicorn continued.

Sweetie Belle was starting to get a bad feeling as her mentor kept talking, Trixie kept stammering and ponies all around them started shuffling away from the stage. “Um... Twi?”

“I'm really sorry, Trixie, I don't know why I would have doubted that a professional showmare would know to take the appropriate precautions when dealing with legendary were-creatures.”

The crowd looked expectantly at Trixie, who took two steps back. “Were... creatures?” she managed to ask weakly.

“Why yes,” the purple unicorn, still oblivious to the growing panic, carried on, “Like, were-weasels, were-chickens, and other variations of the lycanthropic effect...” Sweetie Belle gulped when she saw Twilight Sparkle's expression change to one of horror as Trixie’s cringing finally dawned on her. “You... didn't know?!” the purple unicorn gaped.

A hush fell over the crowd as Twilight looked to the horizon in horror as the sun finally set and the moon began its ascension, the celestial orb casting its silvery light over the town of Ponyville.

The growling of the wolves stopped. Sweetie Belle turned to look at them, a chill running down her spine. They were... growing. The wolves had already been large -about the size of Big Mac- and while they had looked feral and dangerous, the chains and muzzles on them had given the citizens of Ponyville a sense of safety.

But now, as the wolves grew, their chains snapped one after another with an almost musical cadence and the illusion of safety was shattered. Their forelegs bulged along with their paws, which extended into clawed hands, the fur on their shoulders and back became darker and thicker. They stood on their hind legs which also became solid masses of muscle, easily keeping their bodies upright. Their lips curled back in a snarling smile, yellow fangs almost seeming  to glow in contrast with their black coats. The iron muzzles burst as their heads grew and now the werewolves were easily three times the size of Big Macintosh... and apparently hungry.

Sweetie Belle screamed, the sound snapping the paralyzed ponies into action as everypony ran for their lives. In front of them, the two werewolves turned their attention to Trixie with malevolent smiles on their faces.

The showmare took a look at them and immediately her horn blazed into life. Chains magically wrapped themselves around the two creatures as Trixie took a step back, her eyes narrowing in concentration.

For a moment, Sweetie held hope that it would be enough to stop them, but Trixie’s next actions burst that small bubble of hope.

“Catch!” the showmare shouted, her magic levitating both creatures into the air as they started breaking the chains with little effort and threw them into the crowd, straight towards Twilight and Sweetie Belle.

Twilight’s magic flared in response to the threat. For a moment, she caught both creatures in the air, but their continuous struggle made it really difficult for her to keep them in place.

Trixie immediately cast another illusion spell, creating blue mist around her and her wagon. When it dissipated, they were gone.

As the ponies around them ran about in a crazed frenzy, the younger unicorn pressed close to her mentor. “Twilight? What do we do?”

“Just stay close, Sweetie...” Twilight ordered through clenched teeth. unexpectedly, one of the panicking ponies crashed into the purple unicorn, and sent her sprawling to the ground, disrupting her concentration.

The were-creatures landed right in front of them. Sweetie screamed and jumped back as a clawed hand tore the ground where she had been seconds ago.

“Sweetie! Run!” Twilight shouted, jumping between her and the werewolves, horn glowing bright, but a backhanded swipe to the face knocked her to the ground. The young unicorn ran, her eyes wide in panic as she searched quickly for a place to hide. Behind her she heard the werewolves howl and the excited yips of a predator on the hunt drawing closer. She ran around the corner of a building, and dove behind several trash cans, hoping that the smell of rotting food would throw the wolf off her trail as she cowered in fear.

She couldn’t see it, but she could still hear the creature as it slowed down and growled. The pads on its feet silenced its steps, but the creature’s deep, rumbling breaths threatened to make her scream and reveal her location as it slowly approached her hiding place.

Sweetie Belle cringed as she searched her mind for any possible way out of this situation. There was no Twilight right next to her, or even Fluttershy to use her Stare and scare the monster away, her sister would have at least been able to use her magic to fight it off.

It was getting closer now. From between the trash cans, the filly could see other stacks of boxes and trash in the small alley. She was in between Sugar Cube Corner and Ponyville’s four-star restaurant, The Clover, so there was a lot of trash around. An idea began to form in her mind, as she remembered Twilight’s earlier lesson.

Hoping that the trashcans around her disguised her and her horn's light well enough from the werewolf, Sweetie concentrated on conjuring up the simplest spell she knew.

Something shifted in a trash pile further up the alley from where she was hiding, clattering to the ground. The sniffing stopped and the world was silent but for the distant shouts outside the alley. She could hear the creature’s breathing, it was calmer now. She could almost sense it looking intently at the pile on the other end of the alley.

Fighting to keep quiet and afraid to even breathe, she tried again. But this time, she varied the spell.

From the pile of trash a came a soft, whimpering noise. With a scratch of claws scraping the ground, the werewolf bounded forward to land, with a howl, on top of the pile. Its claws tore into the bags, ripping through wood and bags full of trash as they sought their prey.

Sweetie Belle carefully slid out from behind the trashcans, and, without taking her eyes of the werewolf, slowly backed out of the alley. Her heart was beating wildly inside her chest, and she feared that it would give her away to the wolf.

As she stepped back as slowly and silently as she possibly could, she backed into a trash can. The metal lid slid off, scraping its way to the edge of the trashcan before it clanged onto the ground beside her.

The werewolf whipped its head around, eyes ablaze with anger at having been tricked. Sweetie Belle turned and galloped away, desperately trying to find help or another place to hide. But despite her best efforts there was no-where to hide, and being in the middle of the plaza, she could only weave through discarded carts and spilled goods in trying to put off her seemingly inevitable fate.

A paw came down hard on her, knocking the filly off her hooves. The world spun crazily around her and she found herself on her back, gasping for breath as the wolf’s muzzle hovered over her face. There was a vicious gleam in his eyes and Sweetie Belle knew this was it.

“I...” she gasped and closed her eyes tightly. Goodbye sis...

There was a shout and suddenly the weight of the werewolf was gone. Sweetie Belle opened her eyes to see Big Macintosh standing protectively over her, glaring at the werewolf now sprawled out on its side. Slowly, the beast stood up, growling fiercely at the draft pony.

“Good job, Big Mac!” Twilight shouted as she slammed the growling werewolf with his packmate, sending both to the ground in a dazed heap. The purple unicorn galloped to their side and took a quick look at her apprentice. “Are you okay, Sweetie?!”

The filly was barely able to nod, her body was shaking so much.

Twilight trained a fierce look on the werewolves. “Nopony, no creature, no monster threatens my student!” she growled, as her magic enveloped her body.

A blast of magic shot into the air and storm clouds formed high above them, slowly obscuring the moon. The werewolves howled in anger as gleaming chains broke through the windows of a nearby forge, wrapping tightly around them, reinforced by magic. The ends of the chains then buried themselves into the floor of the plaza, pinning them to the ground.

Metal bars followed, slamming down one after the other around the were-creatures, until they were completely surrounded. A large piece of metal landed roughly atop the makeshift cage, sealing them inside.

“Big Mac! Did you get it?!” Twilight shouted, her magic pulsating as she struggled restrain the creatures, chains and all.

“Eeyup!” The stallion quickly moved to the side and brought a cart filled with silver: plates, cutlery and even a vase or two. “This enough, Twilight?”

The purple unicorn’s answer was to levitate the entirety of the carts contents and, in an amazing feat of magical strength, crunch them around the bars and metal top of the cage. It was crude, but soon the bars all had silver cutlery covering them. With another pulse of magic, two more long chains crossed on top of the metal slab that was keeping the wolves inside and buried themselves on the floor of the plaza.

Twilight then released her magic and collapsed, exhausted, right next to a now completely in awe Sweetie Belle.

The wolves broke the first set of chains now that there was no magic to reinforce them, but each time one of the creatures lept at the bars, they would howl in pain and growl. The cage was makeshift, but they would be contained.

"Twilight, that was incredible!" Sweetie gushed, grinning ear to ear at the collapsed unicorn.

"I'm just glad you're okay, Sweetie," Twilight whispered, chest heaving from exertion but smiling. She nuzzled the younger unicorn as other ponies began to venture back into the plaza.


“That Trixie should be arrested!” a pony shouted as a contingent of unicorns from Canterlot slowly transferred the wolves into a more secure cage the next day.

To say the citizens of Ponyville were not happy with the showmare would be a gross understatement. They were livid. Furious even. Although the Ursa Minor had ravaged the town, destroying many buildings, it was the fact that one so young had nearly died that enflamed the hearts of Ponyville's citizens.

Buildings they could replace. Sweetie Belle, nopony could.

“Find her and throw her into a dungeon!” Aloe added, the spa pony stomping a hoof, her eyes ablaze with righteous anger.

“Strip her of her magic!” a pegasus shouted, more than one unicorn wincing at the suggestion, although none of them looked inclined to disagree with the punishment.

Twilight and Sweetie Belle stood side by side, silently watching the proceedings as the crowds began to shout more an more for the showmare’s head... or at least her arrest. The Canterlot unicorns were hard pressed to keep a professional look as the town almost rioted right then and there.

“Twilight?” The young filly looked up at the purple unicorn.

“Yes, Sweetie?”

“I really want to learn magic,” the crusader said, looking at the snarling wolves. “I never want to be so scared again.”

Twilight smiled and nuzzled the younger unicorn. “I’ll do my best.”


“Morning, Sweetie,” Twilight said brightly as the filly made her way down the stairs of the library.

The white unicorn yawned and waved a hoof. “Morning, Twi. Morning, Spike.” It had been a week since the incident with the werewolves, and she was still having trouble sleeping.

“Hi, Sweetie!” Spike’s head poked out of the kitchen. “Guess what I made? Pancakes!”

The filly smiled as she made her way to the table, where she joined Twilight. “What’s the plan for today, Twi?

“I should be receiving a few things from Canterlot,” the purple unicorn said, “I requested some books and devices to help your training along with some items for my own studies.”

The little unicorn sighed as she looked at the gorgeous day outside. I know I asked her to teach me as much as she could but... we haven’t have a break in days!

Twilight caught the filly looking outside and smiled gently. “But don’t worry too much about it, Sweetie. Why don’t you take a break? I have to unpack a lot of sensitive equipment and it’s a lovely day outside! You could visit Pinkie Pie or Fluttershy while I do that.”

“Really!?” The white unicorn bounced up and down. “Yay!” she hugged Twilight. “You’re the best, Twilight!”

The purple unicorn chuckled and wondered if this was how Celestia felt when she became excited. “You deserve it Sweetie, but breakfast first, and you have to feed Opalescence before anything else, okay?”


It was late afternoon when Sweetie Belle came back. She had kept her promise and fed Opalescence, and had spent most of the morning walking around town or cleaning up the Cutie Mark Crusaders HQ.

“Twilight!” she called as she walked into the library. “I’m back!” There was no answer. “Twilight? Are you home?”

She walked towards the kitchen until she heard a noise. Walking towards it, she found the door to the basement slightly ajar. Inside, she could see a veritable kaleidoscope of shifting colors inside casting strange shadows on the wall.

“Are you down there, Twilight?” she called. There was no reply, but for a moment she thought she heard her mentor’s voice downstairs.

Opening the door and carefully making her way downstairs, she was able to hear more clearly.

“Okay, Spike, you have to do three turns only!

“Gotcha, Twi!” There was cranking sound. "Gosh, this thing is labor intensive!" Spike added, sounding somewhat grumpy.

“I know, but I want to finish this before Sweetie comes back.”

Sweetie stopped.

“Why?” Spike asked, unknowingly echoing the filly’s thoughts, “Do you think she’d get in the way or something?”

Is that how she thinks of me? Sweetie Belle thought, tearing up a bit, Even after all that effort...

“Don’t be silly, Spike,” Twilight replied, still out of sight, “Sweetie is a really smart filly; I’m sure if she were around to help we would be fine.”

“Then why...”

“It’s because I want to concentrate on her studies Spike,” Twilight confessed, “She has a lot to learn and magic like this might confuse her. She needs to learn the basics first and she is very curious, so I know she would try and understand this...” The purple unicorn sighed. “It’s like my old professor used to say: You have to build a solid foundation.”

“What is this, anyway?”

Sweetie Belle finally reached the end of the steps and looked into the lab. In the middle of the basement was a huge crystal orb floating over some sort of machine. Spike was patiently watching and switching some levers while every few moments Twilight would cast a spell into it."

“Well, Spike, this sphere allows me to cast spells that affect time and space itself; it is an ancient artifact that I am making the subject of my thesis,” Twilight explained, as she cast another spell into it, “Princess Celestia was very generous to let me use it.”

“You already have a thesis planned?” Spike asked, impressed, “That’s amazing Twilight!”

“Well... I... okay, I really just wanted to study it, I haven’t really thought much about the paper itself...”

Spike chuckled. “Well, you at least know what you’re trying to do right now?”

Twilight shot the dragon a dirty look. “Of course I know, Spike!”

“Right.” The dragon rolled his eyes, clearly not convinced as her glanced to the stairs and spotted the filly. “Hey, Sweetie Belle!”

Twilight stopped and looked over her shoulder with a small smile. “Hi, Sweetie! Don’t be shy, come in, I’m just about finished.”

The filly stepped carefully into the room, doing her best to avoid touching the machines or getting too close to the crystal orb.

“Um, hi Twilight,” she said once she was safely in one of the corners of the room, “So, is this what Princess Celestia sent you?”

“That’s right!” Twilight smiled. “But that’s not the only thing!” She pointed at a nearby table with a lot of other devices on it. “Those are for you to practice! Go on, take a look!”

“I think I’ll stay here until you finish, if you’re almost done,” Sweetie Belle said.

Twilight smiled at her and nodded.

The filly watched the purple unicorn for a moment, but other than concentrating magic while Spike adjusted knobs and wrote down numbers, Twilight didn’t seem to be doing much.

Sweetie Belle sighed. I should have just gone to the table. She glanced at it, trying to make out the different objects on top of it. There was a strange cube and several smaller ball-like items lying there, just outside her sight.

Sweetie Belle stole a glance at Twilight and then at Spike. Both seemed completely fixated on their project, Twilight had even closed her eyes in concentration. Biting her lower lip, she looked back at the table. I wish this thing didn’t take up most of the space in the basement! her eyes followed the contours of cables and machine. I think if I levitate them, they won’t touch the machine and they should just float past the orb... she smiled to herself. Okay... here we go, just like in practice...

Her horn started glowing with a soft white aura and slowly several objects started to float. Sweetie Belle’s eyes narrowed as she commanded her magic to bring them to her. Twilight will be so proud of me!

The young unicorn’s magic carried the objects past the table and over the machines. It was when they were passing the Crystal Orb that things went wrong.

Twilight’s eyes snapped open as she tried to cut her spell short, but she couldn’t! She looked in horror as the white magic aura around the magical items was suddenly sucked into the crystal. The magic items floated there as their magic was forcefully stripped from them.

“S-Spike!” Twilight shouted, “Go to the other room and cut the energy source!”

Spike turned around at her shout and his eyes widened in horror as he saw the items starting to shake and smoke started to pour out of them.

“I’m going!” he shouted as he hopped over the machines and ran into another room. There was a short pause and then... “I can’t! I turned it off an' on, but it won't stop!”

Sweetie Belle for her part couldn’t concentrate much on what was happening. She looked around as things seemed to slow down. She saw Twilight turn to look at her with a horror. The purple unicorn was shouting something, but she couldn’t hear her.

It was then that one of the small ball-like items exploded. To Sweetie’s eyes it seemed as if it broke into pieces with fire slowly making its way out, only for it to very slowly spiral into the crystal, which started to turn orange.

The next one followed the same fate, only slower if possible. She saw, with a horrifying slowness, how the magic exploded into Twilight Sparkle. The purple unicorn was completely engulfed in magical flames, but her worried eyes never wavered from Sweetie Belle.

There was a bright flash of light and when she could see again, she only saw a crystal figure of a unicorn where her mentor used to stand. Another item exploded, got syphoned into the crystal sphere and then it was her that was covered in magic.

As the world bent and shifted around her, she saw, in a dreadful moment of clarity, Twilight shatter into pieces that were caught in the magical maelstrom. They floated in the air and flashing out of sight before Sweetie could even lift a hoof in protest.

The world shook around her. The sphere cracked. Suddenly everything was moving much faster and there was an earsplitting cry as Sweetie Belle screamed.


“AAAAaaah!” She jerked violently violently, finding herself struggling against something warm and stifling before she rolled to the side and fell. “Oof!”

Sweetie Belle shook her head and groaned. “Uhh... wh-what?” She detangled herself from the comforter and looked around, blinking.

She was in her room. She shook her head. What am I doing here?

Her eyes snapped wide open.

The crystal orb.

The magical items.

The explosion.


In a panic, she slammed the door open with her magic and quickly ran down the stairs.

“Sweetie Belle!” A voice called just as she was about to open the door and run out.

“Huh?!” The filly unicorn did a double take. “Sis?! When did you get back- Wait... if you’re here... how long have I been out?”

Rarity looked at her younger sister with a bit of trepidation. “I... believe you went to sleep early last night, Sweetie.”

“I... I did?” Sweetie Belle sat down. “Wow. I must have been really tired... and that dream!”

“What dream?”

“I dreamt that Twilight had a horrible accident and... and...”

“It’s okay, Sweetie,” Rarity said, comforting the smaller unicorn, "Twilight is fine, I promise. I just saw her last night before-”

“Wait!” Sweetie Belle interrupted. “What time is it?!”

“About 8:30... why?”

“Oh no! I’m late!” Sweetie panicked.

“For what? It’s your vacation.”

“But I’ve been studying really hard with Twilight, I can’t miss a class! I’m getting really good!”

“You... you have?” Rarity blinked. “Good at what?”

Sweetie Belle’s horn glowed for a second as her saddle-bags floated up to her and settled on her back.

Rarity’s mouth fell open.

“Anyway, I can’t stay! Sorry, sis, I've got a shield spell to learn!" the filly shouted in excitement as she ran out the door and closed it behind her.

Rarity stared at the door for a second before clamping her mouth shut with an audible snap.


“I’m late, I’m late!” Sweetie Belle groaned as she galloped towards the library. She thought she heard somepony shouting her name, but she ignored them as she reached the Library.

Surprisingly the door was locked. Sweetie Belle frowned. “Oh, she must still be working with those items Princess Celestia sent her!” she said, brightening. “But as her apprentice, I know the spell to open it!”

A few seconds later, she had closed and locked the door behind her. The library was quiet as usual, save for the sound of somepony humming to herself from the bathroom.

Sweetie Belle walked towards the bathroom door, but stopped when she heard whoever was behind it approaching.

The door swung open, and Sweetie Belle smiled.

“Sorry about being late... Twi... ligh...” She blinked.

Staring down at her, toothbrush frozen mid-stroke, wrapped in Twilight’s favorite towel, bubbles of toothpaste all around her mouth and eyes wide in surprise, Trixie stood, gaping at the filly.

o.0.o End Prologue o.0.o

Editors & Proof-readers: Trevor & littlerobotbird GanonFLCL, Cardslafter, Fifth Alicorn


Applejack looked down at Apple Bloom as the young filly walked up to her, head down and frowning in disappointment only to sit down next to the apple cart. “What happened, sugarcube? Ah thought you’d seen Sweetie Belle?”

“Ah did!” the filly said, looking up at her sister, “But she didn’t hear me callin’! She ran straight into the library.”

The orange-maned mare nodded at a unicorn as he left a few bits and levitated an apple, trotting away happily. The apple farmer then turned to look at her younger sister. “Into the library?” she asked with a small frown, “She shouldn’t be able to. Should be closed at this time in the morning.”

“Ah, know! And when Ah got to the door, it was locked!”

“Now, that’s odd.” Applejack pushed her hat back, bewildered. “As far as Ah know, only two unicorns know the spell to open it without a key.”

The Library door suddenly slammed open and a towel-wrapped, still-wet-from-the-shower Trixie rolled out of the building, followed by her toothbrush.

Applejack and Apple Bloom stared as a piece of rope enveloped in a white magic aura floated out of the library and began to wrap itself around Trixie’s hooves.

“Stay still!” Sweetie Belle whined, her horn aglow, “I can’t tie you up if you keep squirming!”

“But I don’t want you to tie me up, Sweetie!” Trixie shouted, eyes wide in shock at the sudden attack.

“Hey! What in tarnation are you doin’?!” Applejack asked as she and Apple Bloom galloped up to the pair.

“I caught Trixie in Twilight’s Library!” Sweetie informed them as she concentrated, trying to loop the rope around the azure unicorn, while Trixie fended her off, slowly getting up..

“And?” the elder of the two sisters asked.

“Call the guards! I almost have her!”

Trixie had gotten up to her hooves and, once her heart had stopped pounding from the sudden attack from the formerly gentle and unable-to-perform-magic filly unicorn, began carefully batting away the rope with short, concentrated bursts of magic.

“Hey! Quit it!” Sweetie groaned.

The showmare leveled a look at her. “No.”

Sweetie Belle gritted her teeth. Her brow furrowed and her horn flashed.

Trixie kept a wary eye on the surprising filly. “What was that?”

“None of your business.”

“Now, look here, Sweetie...” Trixie said as she began taking a step towards the little unicorn, but just as she planted her hoof down, it slid on a suddenly very slippery surface sending the showmare to the ground, accompanied by a painful-sounding “Oof!”

“Ha! Never underestimate Twilight’s prized apprentice!”

Trixie growled and stood up, careful to avoid the slippery area around her. “Okay, Sweetie, you asked for it!” Her horn flashed and the rope was torn from the filly’s grip. Before she could blink, the unicorn filly was upside down and hogtied.

“Hey, lemme go!” Sweetie Belle shouted, struggling against her bonds. She thrashed from side to side, horn glowing as she tried to use her magic to break the rope, but it held.

“Sweetie Belle?” Apple Bloom asked, walking towards her friend carefully, “Why’re you attacking Trixie? And... when’d you learn magic?”

The young unicorn blinked. “Apple Bloom? You’re back!” She smiled in relief. “Quick! Untie me! Maybe we can get a Wanted Felon-Catcher Cutie Mark!”

Applejack and Trixie shared worried looks.

“Sweetie Belle?” Applejack ventured, stepping closer to the tied unicorn, “What you mean by Wanted Felon-Catcher Cutie Marks? There any dangerous sorts around?”

“Oh, I hope not!” Rarity broke in, having overheard Applejack as she approached the group, “The last thing Ponyville needs is ponies of dubious nature!” She stopped and looked down at her sister. “Sweetie, why are you tied up?”

“Trixie tied me up!”

Rarity followed Sweetie’s glare to the showmare who shrugged and released the spell holding the rope. “Well, I wouldn’t have if you hadn’t attacked me!” She glared at Sweetie Belle.

“What did you do with Twilight?!” the young unicorn asked angrily as she shook free of the rope.

“Yes, dear, whatever happened to Twilight?” Rarity asked, “Your challenge ended last night. I thought she would be around for the aftermath so we might avoid certain... unpleasantries.”

Trixie winced. “So anypony can challenge me today?” She sighed. “Twilight left to meet with Princess Celestia last night...”

“Ha! A likely story!” Sweetie Belle bellowed as she jumped to her feet.

Trixie ignored her. “And I haven’t heard from her since. She might write later today, I think. I checked on Spike and there were no messages next to his bed.”

“Ah’ve seen a few new unicorns around town today, sugarcube,” Applejack added, “Ah don’t think you have much time before the first challenger comes up and...”

Sweetie Belle had grown more and more frustrated as she was ignored by the older group. “Wait!” she shouted, drawing their attention.

“Sweetie! What have I told you about screaming like that?” Rarity scolded.

“Sorry!” Sweetie looked down. But her eyes went back to Trixie, a frown set on her face. “So, any pony can challenge you?”

Trixie smiled, glad that Sweetie Belle seemed to have calmed down. “Any unicorn capable of performing magic who feels his or her magic is strong enough to earn them the title of ‘Great and Powerful’, yes.”

The filly smiled. Then I challenge you! What’s it gonna be? Checkers? A race?”

The group of mares looked at her, wide-eyed. Then Trixie frowned and graced the filly with a calculating look. “That’s... possible...”

“What? No.” Rarity shook her head. “You can’t challenge Trixie, Sweetie. Not only are you too young, but you hardly know any magic!”

“I know lots of magic!” Sweetie argued, “I’m Twilight’s student!”

The group exchanged confused looks.

“Uh, Sweetie Belle,” Apple Bloom smiled, a bit unsure, “Don’t you mean Cheerilee’s student?”

“Nope! Twilight made me her apprentice!” Sweetie declared proudly, “You’d know, but you went...” She blinked. “Wait, when did you come back from Appleloosa?”

“Appleloosa?” The earth pony filly shot Sweetie a confused look. “I didn’t go nowhere! We played together yesterday and the day before! Remember? Scootaloo tried doing her double-spin ultra-deluxe upside down back-flip to impress Rainbow Dash.”

Sweetie Belle’s eyes were wide. “Did she do it?!”

“Not exactly...” Apple Bloom looked a bit worried. “She lost control on the second spin and ended up dragging the cage-full of weasels and chickens with her onto the catapult... you really don’t remember?”

Sweetie shook her head.

“... the cake?”

Another shake.

Hogtyin’ that manticore? Blowin’ up that haystack? ... Setting fire to the edge of the Everfree?”

Sweetie stared slack-jawed at Apple Bloom. “You did all that while I was studying? Aww... stupid theory of reverse flow.

“So...” Applejack’s voice was hard. “If Ah’m hearing this right, y’all responsible fer all that chaos yesterday?”

Apple Bloom looked panicked. “Ah... Ah, uh...”

“No,” the filly unicorn stated simply, seemingly oblivious of her friend's panic, “I was studying with Twilight.”

“No, you wasn’t!” Apple Bloom turned to look at her. “Y’all was there with me and Scootaloo!”

“I was studying!”

“Was not!”

“Was to!”

Was not!”

“Enough!” Rarity was also glaring down at the pair. They both stopped and looked at her. “Sweetie, you are in enough trouble as it is. Don’t lie to cover it up.”

The filly’s eyes were brimming with tears. “But sis! You know I’m Twilight’s student! I even Pinkie Swore to do study! If she was here she would tell you I was studying with her!”

“Sweetie...” Rarity almost growled. “I don’t know anything about Twilight taking you on as her apprentice. And you have never cared about magic enough to spend time studying rather than playing.”

Sweetie’s lip trembled. She looked at Apple Bloom, but the other filly wouldn’t even look at her for not admitting to have been playing with them.

“Now, hold on, everypony,” Trixie said, “Sweetie Belle seems to know quite a bit more magic than I would have expected, and she was rather skilled when she attacked me...”

Rarity glared at her sister.

“I thought she did something to Twilight!” Sweetie Belle replied.

“... anyway.” Trixie shot an odd look at the unicorn filly. “Her style certainly had some elements of Twilight’s influence...” She frowned, tapping a hoof thoughtfully on the ground before turning to the little unicorn. “Sweetie Belle, what are the three basic laws of elemental magic?”

“Correspondence, Control and Constitution,” the filly responded immediately.

Rarity blinked, her glare replaced by a look of awe.

Aleister’s correction to the statute of limitations proposed that the primordial approach for understanding transmutation was flawed because...”

“... Prestidigitation itself allowed for too many changes with a single spell formula,” Sweetie Belle replied from memory, “Whew, you have no idea how many times Twilight made me repeat that!”

“I can imagine.” Trixie smiled, then turned to look at the others. “I think Sweetie is telling the truth, somehow Twilight has been teaching her behind our backs, unless she somehow managed to sneak into Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.” She frowned. “I don’t understand why she would do that, but...”

“Wait... you sayin’ that Apple Bloom’s lyin’?” Applejack looked to her sister in confusion and hurt. Honesty was a very important part of their upbringing. Come what may, lying was something the Apple Family could never condone.

“S-Sweetie...” Apple Bloom pleaded, her great big eyes begging. “Please, Ah don’t know how you know so much about magic, but don’t make me inta a liar.”

“B-but...” The filly unicorn stepped back. “Apple Bloom... I was studying...

“No, you wasn’t!” Apple Bloom snapped, eyes tearing up as the betrayal sank in.

“Enough, Apple Bloom,” Applejack said after a moment, her eyes hard, “Ah don’t want to hear from y’all no more.Yer gonna go right back ta the acres an’ right to yer room, Ah clear?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Apple Bloom walked slowly and with her head down until she passed next to the unicorn filly. The earth pony glared at her friend. “Ah hate you,” she spat.

Sweetie looked like she had taken a hoof to the face. “I’m... but I was studying! Honest!” she called after her friend, who didn’t bother looking back. “It was all about ki- kinetic forces! I was learning a shield spell for when we go crusading!” she insisted miserably, scratching the floor with her hoof in frustration.

“Don’t worry, Sweetie.” Rarity nuzzled the depressed filly. “Things will go back to normal once we figure out why she lied.”

Now wait just an apple-pickin’ minute,” Applejack said, turning to look at Rarity, “Ah never said she were lyin’. She’s grounded for burnin’ down the edge of the Everfree Forest and causin’ such a ruckus that the weather patrol had to work right through the night. Ah swear, they could’ve ended up burnin’ down the town!”

“But, darling, you can’t possibly believe that Sweetie here is lying,” Rarity said, raising her eyebrow. “You heard her answer Trixie’s questions. I certainly didn’t teach her any of that!”

“Ah jus’ don’t think that Apple Bloom is lying, s’all.”

Rarity frowned. “So you’re saying that my sister is lying?”

“No... Ah’m not s--

“Excuse me.” A male unicorn stepped up to Trixie, interrupting the work pony. “Are you The Great and Powerful Trixie?”

Trixie blinked. She had completely forgotten about the challenges. “Uh, yes, it is I, Trixie.” she said quickly, turning to face him.

I am here to challenge you for the title!” the unicorn said, “My name is-”

“I shall accept your challenge on the hills just north of Ponyville, in...” Trixie interrupted, turning to look at Rarity, “Ffifteen minutes?”

The designer shrugged. “That is as good time as any, I suppose.”

The male unicorn grinned and trotted away.

The showmare turned to look at the others. “Well, I’d best prepare. This shall be a long month.” she sighed as she walked back towards the Library.

“We’ll talk later, Applejack,” Rarity said, ushering Sweetie Belle away towards her boutique.

“Yeah...” The apple farmer shook her head as she returned to her cart.


Why do you look so down, Sweetie?” Rarity asked, as the pair walked towards the hills.

“Apple Bloom hates me,” the filly answered, “I’m not lying, sis! I haven’t seen them since I started learning under Twilight!”

Rarity turned to look at the hills a small frown on her face. “I don’t know what to tell you, Sweetie,” the older unicorn said.

“What do you mean?”

“I saw you three playing together just a few of days ago and...” she stopped talking and walking when she noticed that she was alone.

Turning around, she looked back to her sister, several steps behind, staring in horror.

“Sweetie?” Rarity asked, taking a step towards the filly, but stopping when her sister took a matching step away from her.


She saw, with horrifying slowness, how the magic pierced through Twilight Sparkle, the purple unicorn was completely engulfed in magical flames, but her worried eyes never wavered away from Sweetie Belle.

“Are you okay?” Rarity tried again, seeing her sister’s horrified gaze.

As the world bent and shifted around her, she saw, in a dreadful moment of clarity, Twilight shatter into pieces that were caught in the magical maelstrom. 

Sweetie gasped, almost collapsing into the grass, eyes wide and breathing ragged. She could feel her heart going a hundred miles an hour.

“I...” She shook her head, looking around.

Everything’s okay. I’m in Ponyville. The Library is fine. Trixie said that Twilight left last night...

She frowned. “...but that... that doesn’t make any sense.”

“Sweetie? What doesn’t make sense?” Rarity asked, giving her sister a concerned look.

“Sis, I have been studying with Twilight every day for the past two weeks!” Sweetie exclaimed. “How could I have been playing with them when they weren’t even here?

“Sweetie, are you feeling okay?” Rarity asked, pressing her hoof to her sister’s forehead. “You don’t seem to have a fever,” she muttered, “And Scootaloo and Apple Bloom haven’t left Ponyville in months!”

This doesn’t make any sense!” Sweetie shook her head. She looked up at her sister. “And... why is everypony treating Trixie like she’s one of us?” the filly demanded. “She almost killed me just last week!”

Rarity stood straight. “What?!” Her eyes blazed in anger. “What did Trixie do?”

Sweetie cringed beneath her sister’s enraged glare. “She... threw two werewolves at me and Twilight...”

“What?” Rarity shook her head and her anger seemed to focus on her sister. “Sweetie. I’ve had enough of these lies. You are grounded, young lady.”


“No ‘buts.’ I can believe that you were not involved in Apple Bloom’s and Scootaloo’s chaos, but accusing Trixie of willingly putting you and Twilight in such danger is simply preposterous! I am disappointed that you'd think I would believe such a hollow lie.”

“But... sis... I...”

“Go home,” Rarity said coldly. “We shall have to have a talk after I witness Trixie’s duel. Just because Twilight taught you a couple of things yesterday doesn’t mean that you can use that same excuse to convince me of something so ridiculous! Trixie would never hurt Twilight, especially after everything that’s happened the last couple years.”

“What happened the last couple years?”

“I said go!” Rarity snapped. “And I had better not catch you outside your room!”

Sweetie Belle opened her mouth to object, but snapped it shut as she found herself facing the full force of her sister's angry glare. Lowering her head and turning around, Sweetie walked slowly towards Carousel Boutique. She could feel Rarity’s eyes on her as she trotted away down the street.

What’s going on? she thought, furious. How could everypony forget about the werewolves?

She shook her head as she passed the first few houses. Just... what’s happening here? She thought as she kept her eyes on the ground. Just yesterday I was with Twilight at the lab... how come she is fine and with the Princess if that spell exploded on her? Her eyes narrowed. And how come everypony thinks Trixie is our friend? Just like that? How come nopony remembers the werewolves?

She stopped and pawed at the ground with her hoof. “Come on, Sweetie, you know how to solve a problem; Twilight drilled it into your head!” she growled to herself.

Okay, let’s examine the facts... Sweetie’s thoughts went back to her earlier memories. I got blasted by that spell, Twilight was... She shuddered, pushing the thought to the back of her mind. Then I wake up, Applejack and Apple Bloom are suddenly back from Appleloosa, Rarity’s back from Fillydelphia and everypony thinks I’m just playing around... and even remember me doing exactly that... there can only be one conclusion!

Sweetie stomped her hoof on the ground. “I didn't kill Twilight, Trixie must have come into the library and done something!” Her eyes widened. “Trixie somehow brainwashed everypony with a spell!”

She blinked. “Wait... does that mean that... I murdered Twilight!?” she gulped as a sudden shiver ran up her spine. “No... nonono... I... no...”

A buzzing sound grabbed her attention and she looked up to see one of her best friends propelling herself towards her on top of her scooter.

“Scootaloo!” she smiled, gratefully pushing the horrible thoughts to the back of her mind as the copper-colored pegasus stopped abruptly in front of the unicorn.

“There you are!” she said angrily, jumping off of her scooter and stomping up to Sweetie Belle.

“Listen, there’s something going on-” Sweetie started to say, but she was interrupted by Scootaloo pressing her forehead and snout right up against hers.

“The hay is your problem, Sweetie?!” the pegasus asked, fuming. “I just saw Apple Bloom on her way to Sweet Apple Acres and she was crying! And guess what she told me when I asked her why! Go on, guess!

Sweetie fell back onto the floor, eyes wide and staring at her friend.

“She told me that you lied to cover your own sorry flank and let her take all the blame for our crusading!

“But I-”

“So what is it?” Scootaloo asked venomously, walking from side to side in front of the unicorn. “Did you just not want to get into trouble? I guess being a Crusader doesn’t mean you have to be loyal!”

Sweetie cringed. “Scootaloo, I swear I didn’t lie! I was studying with Twilight and-”

“But you were not studying!” Scootaloo shouted, drawing
the attention of several passers-by. “You were with us!”

Sweetie shrank back. “But Scootaloo... you have to believe me...”

“I don’t even know why I’m bothering to talk to you, traitor,” the pegasus said. “You lied, and you hurt Apple Bloom...” She looked away. “And me.”

Bu- but I didn’t...” Sweetie’s lower lip trembled. “Why doesn’t anypony believe me?!” She turned around and ran as fast as she could into town.

“Sweetie! Wait! We’re not done here!” Behind her, Scootaloo’s voice faded as the unicorn ran away. She went into alleys and side-streets. Ponyville wasn’t a big place, but she wanted to put as much distance between Scootaloo and herself as she could.

She slowed down and sighed, looking up to see where she was.

The Library stood proudly in front of her, the warm wooden interior and the smell of books something she found she needed now.

Funny that I would end up back here... she thought. Now I’m craving a book.

She entered the library, closing the door and locking it behind her.

“Trixie?” a voice called from the kitchen. “Is that you? Where is... oh, hey, Sweetie Belle!” Spike blinked as he walked into the main room. “What are you doing here?” He looked around suspiciously. “Are Apple Bloom and Scootaloo hiding somewhere? You aren’t trying to get a Dragon Slayer cutie mark again, are you? Spike cringed.

Sweetie Belle couldn’t help herself and started crying at the mention of her friends. She ran up to him and hugged the little dragon close as she bawled her eyes out.

“Uh...” Spike froze for a second, the little dragon flailed about with his arms at the sudden invasion of his personal space, but eventually he managed to return the hug and pat her back, even as he looked around in a panic. “Uh... there there, Sweetie,” he said once he realized he was on his own. “Please calm down?”

The filly cried for a bit longer, but she nodded against his shoulder and slowly stepped back.

“Why don’t I make you some tea? Chamomile okay?”

Sweetie sniffed. “Would it be okay to have some of your special spicy tea, Spike?” Spike tensed. “I... know it’s usually for special occasions but... I really like it.” She smiled a little, and sniffled.

That did it. The dragon couldn’t deny her. “Okay...” he acquiesced. “But just this once!”

Sweetie nodded, still sniffling and went to look at the books as the baby dragon walked into the kitchen. Her horn flared as a tome slid out and floated to a table. Her magic opened the large book on top of the table. She skimmed through the pages until she reached the page number where she had last read the book.

That’s weird...” she muttered, “I already read this page.” she flipped a couple of pages until she found the correct spot. “Must’ve forgotten where I was...”

She read in silence until Spike came out with her tea. Absentmindedly, she levitated the cup from the astonished dragon’s grasp and set it down carefully where it would not spill on the book. She took a pause from her reading to sip the tea, eyes closed blissfully. "Thank you, Spike... that was really nice," Sweetie said, giving the flustered dragon a quick peck on the cheek.

“Y-you’re welcome, Sweetie,” the baby dragon stammered.

She smiled and turned back to her reading, falling into the routine she had cultivated over the last two weeks, and the dragon, after raising an eyebrow at her choice of literature, let her be. He knew from experience not to interrupt an obvious bibliophile.


It was much later that the door to the library clicked open as the lock was released. Spike perked up as the door swung open to admit a pair of unicorn mares into the room.

“I’m really worried, Trixie!” Rarity said, her eyes reflecting her assertion. “Sweetie was not at home when I arrived! I’ve looked all over Ponyville for her! I went as far as Sweet Apple Acres and their club house but...”

“I think we’ve found her,” Trixie spoke softly, motioning with a hoof for silence. The designer blinked and followed Trixie’s gaze towards the center table of the library. Sweetie Belle was sleeping, her head resting on the pages of an enormous tome and snoring softly.

“She came here a while ago,” Spike said quietly. “She was crying... I didn’t really know what to do. I made her some tea... then she just sat there drinking it and reading that book.”

The two mares stared at the little filly as they made their way to the table. Despite how long it had been since she had arrived, Sweetie still sniffled a bit in her sleep.

Kinetic Fields: From the Simple to the Prismatic,” Trixie read aloud. “She’s certainly trying her best to learn that shield spell. Too bad Twilight is so insistent on theory; it might benefit her to have a bit of hooves-on experience.”

“Are you saying you believe her about Twilight teach-”

Just look at her,” Trixie interrupted. “She’s almost certainly Twilight’s apprentice. No other unicorn would force such an innocent filly to sit down and read that!”

Rarity looked at her sister, sorrow flooding into her eyes. “Oh, Sweetie...”

The younger unicorn shifted. “Just a bit more sleep, Twi... I promise I’ll do those equations later...” she mumbled as she cuddled up to the book.

Rarity blinked. “Sweetie... it’s time to go to bed.”

“Oooh... alright Twilight...” Sweetie Belle, yawning and bleary eyed, ignored the lot of them as she made her way upstairs towards the guest room.

“Sweetie, wait-” the white unicorn spoke up, raising a hoof to stop her sister, but an azure hoof on her own stopped her. She turned to look at the blue unicorn in surprise.

“Let her stay over,” Trixie said, looking at the filly as she walked into the room and shut the door behind her, “It seems that she’s rather familiar with the library.”

“A bit too familiar perhaps,” Rarity said, slightly perturbed, “She didn’t even have to open her eyes! She just knew where to go...”

“And which step to skip to avoid the creaking,” Trixie observed.

“Ju- Just how many times has she been here studying?” Rarity wondered.

Just once... meaning today.” Spike muttered, “As far as I know.”

“Yet another mystery...” Trixie smirked. “But we should all rest. It’s been a long day. I’ll take care of Sweetie.”

Rarity hesitated, remembering the filly’s words from earlier. “Trixie... do you think something could be wrong with Sweetie? She’s not acting like herself.”

“I don’t know... yet.” the blue unicorn said, stealing a glance at Spike, “You say she’s only been here studying today?”

Spike gave her a look. “Trixie, you know as well as I do that today’s the first day she’s willingly stepped into the library by herself and studied.” he looked thoughtful for a minute. “But... I had no idea she could do magic already. Like, she levitated the teacup out of my hands! And she knew about my special blend of-”

“Special blend?” Trixie raised an eyebrow.

“Uh...” the dragon sighed. “I have a special tea that Zecora made for me a while ago. Most ponies don’t like how spicy it is, but even less know about it. Until now, I thought that only Zecora, Twilight and I knew!”

“Zebrican tea? That’s an acquired flavor. At least for ponies.” Trixie smiled, recalling her travels. “Did you know that when hoof-gathering the leaves, they actually separate the leaves by freshness? They have two versions, you see-”

“Can we talk about tea later?” Rarity interrupted, “I hate to be so short with you, I’m sure it would be an enlightening conversation under better circumstances, but I am worried about my little sister.”

Trixie smiled weakly. “Apologies. In any case, I will talk to her when she wakes up. It does seem rather strange how she believes herself to have lived the past few week so differently-” she stopped, eyes widening.

“Trixie?” the fashionista looked at her worried. “What’s happening to Sweetie Belle?”

“I...” the showmare shook her head, briefly considering not telling Rarity anything. However, she knew the white unicorn was very good at picking up on little details and would know if Trixie was lying. The showmare sighed. “I think... I might know what’s happening; it’s unlikely but...”

“What is it? Is it dangerous? Is she losing her mind?” Rarity asked, starting to panic eyes widening with each imagined horror.

“No, no...” Trixie patted the fashionista’s shoulders with her hoof. “I am uncertain if it indeed is what I’m thinking; it’s not a bad thing or particularly dangerous, and as far as I know, it only happens to rhinos.” she raised her hoof to forestall further questions. “So, I may simply be jumping to conclusions, Rarity. Let me speak with her when she wakes up and I’ll find out for sure; it is nothing bad and it is very unlikely that it is, okay?”

“So why can’t you tell me?”

“Because you would worry unnecessarily and begin looking for facts to fit into the theory rather than seeing if the theory fits the facts.”

Rarity still looked dubious, but finally nodded her assent, casting a worried glance towards the guest room. “I see... I... I suppose I can see why you would say that... please, take care of her.”

Trixie smiled warmly. “Of course, The Great and Powerful Trixie can handle a single filly. You needn’t worry at all.”


It was still nighttime when Sweetie Belle awoke. She rubbed her blurry eyes and looked around. She was in her- in the guest room at Twilight’s Library.

She took in a deep breath her thoughts running through her recent experiences. “I guess it was all a dream.” she shivered. “Or a nightmare, more like!” She looked out of the window. The moon wasn’t that high in the sky, so it was still relatively early... for her mentor at least. She would either be stargazing or reading in her room.

Sweetie shivered again and looked at the room for a second time. There’s... something weird going on... but what? She slid out of bed and sighed as she walked towards the door. Maybe talking to Twilight would help.

As expected, the light seeping from underneath Twilight’s bedroom indicated that the mare was awake. She could hear the soft, rumbling snores of a baby dragon coming from within the room.

Sweetie took a deep breath and knocked twice on the door before entering. “Twilight, I’m sorry to be up so late but I had... the strangest... dream?”

Lying on Twilight’s bed, comfortably reading a book as if she owned the place, was Trixie. The unicorn looked up at Sweetie and raised an eyebrow.

“Wha- the hay?!” Sweetie stepped back, eyes wide as the showmare slowly stepped down from the bed.

“Are you feeling better, Sweetie?” she asked, tilting her head to the side as she examined the little filly.

“What are you doing here?!” Sweetie Belle began fearfully before the questions began to spill forth rapidly. “What’s happening here? What’d you do with Twilight? You erased everypony’s memories so they wouldn’t know you killed her, didn’t you?!”

The showmare’s eyes widened a bit but then she smiled and chuckled. “Well, I am not called The Great and Powerful Trixie for nothing... but I dare say brainwashing everypony is still a bit outside my current abilities. Not to mention that killing Twilight is the last thing I would ever want to do.”

“But- but what are you doing here?” Sweetie asked.

“Hush,” Trixie said, pointing at the snoring dragon, “Let’s go downstairs so we don’t wake Spike.”

Barely able to contain her questions, the filly followed the older unicorn down the stairs. She watched silently as Trixie levitated a teapot onto the stove and began to brew a mix of herbs she pulled from a container that she didn’t recall ever seeing in the library before.

“Wha- what is that?” the filly asked.

“My own special Zebrican tea blend.” Trixie smiled. “What, you thought Spike had the only secret stash?”

Once tea was ready, the showmare sat down, placing both cups on the table.

“Now, Sweetie, this might come as a shock to you, but I live here with Twilight. We’ve been living together in the Library for almost a year now.”

“What? But...” the filly shook her head. “That’s can’t be right! I’ve been staying with Twilight for the last two weeks and... and the last time I saw you you almost killed me! And Twilight certainly wasn’t happy to see you!”

A flash of hurt crossed Trixie’s eyes. “Those are words I’d rather never have to hear.”


“Exactly.” Trixie smiled as she slowly stirred her tea. “Tell me, Sweetie, how do you feel?”

Confused... really, really confused...” the filly confessed, staring morosely at the cup. The inviting scents emanating from the tea were making her mouth water, but she had to wait, lest she burn her tongue and lips before recalling Twilight’s spell and cooling down the tea a bit.

“That’s good. If you know you are confused, then you know something is not right.” The showmare looked at the library. “Think about how things were and how things are. Tell me... what’s different? Start with the small things.”

“Well...” the filly frowned as she thought. “My stuff wasn’t in my room upstairs,” she said, feeling a bit dumb for not realizing it earlier. “And... the book I was reading had fewer pages...”

“So, even if somepony had managed to brainwash all of us, do you think they would go into enough detail to change that?”

Sweetie looked down. “No...”

“What else is different?”

“Well, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo weren’t in town, and neither was Rarity the last two weeks.”

“I can tell you for certain that all three of them have been here all that time,” Trixie said, motioning for Sweetie to drink some of her tea.

Slowly, the filly levitated the cup just like Trixie was doing and took a sip. She looked at the tea in the cup in surprise. “This is really good!”

The showmare smirked. “I figured, since you liked the spicy tea, you would like this one too. I got it during my travels with the Zebras.”

Sweetie drank more tea before putting down her cup. “So... are you going to tell me you’re not a wanted felon?”

She had to dodge to the side to avoid being sprayed with tea as Trixie spit what she was drinking.

“I... What?!”

“You released two werewolves in the middle of Ponyville!” Sweetie said, glaring at her. “I almost got killed!”

“But... I would nev-” Trixie took a deep breath. “Okay, now I’m fairly certain I know what the problem is.”

Sweetie blinked.

“While I was travelling with the Rhinos-”

What’s a Rhino?” Sweetie interrupted.

Trixie arched an eyebrow. “Great lumbering beasts with poor eyesight, but with grand magical traditions that go back thousands of years. Almost as long as the Zebras’.”


“Anyway, they have a ritual which allowed them to see beyond this world and into others,” Trixie continued. “I never experienced it firsthoof, because only they seemed to be able, but it would allow them to find themselves in other dimensions, across time and space itself, and see and experience those other worlds through the actions of their counterparts.”

Sweetie Belle stared at her, silent.

“...” Trixie blinked. “Did... you understand any of that?”

“Nope!” Sweetie said. “But some of it sounded familiar. I think...” she closed her eyes and tried to remember. “I think the experiment where-” she choked.

“Go on, Sweetie, what experiment?”

“... the one where...” She couldn’t bring herself to say the words. An overwhelming feeling of guilt settled on her as she looked at Trixie’s worried gaze. “It was... last night... and Twilight... she...”

Sweetie closed her eyes. “I think I killed Twilight!” she confessed as she collapsed on the floor. “I didn’t know!”

Trixie dropped her cup, the sound of it shattering lost in Sweetie’s sobs.

“You what?!”

“I’m sorry!” she bawled. “I’m so sorry! I was just trying to get something while she worked!”

Trixie looked at the filly, mind racing. "I-it's okay, Sweetie. Just calm down and tell me what happened."

Slowly, between sobs and suddenly finding herself in the surprisingly comforting forelegs of Trixie, Sweetie Belle explained what she had done and what she had seen. “... an- and then she... bro-broke into pieces...” The filly sniffed. “I saw a flash and... and I woke up in my room... I thought it was all a bad dream...” She started shaking.

Trixie felt cold, having imagined that happening to her Twilight. “And you said that the thing she was experimenting on affected time and space?”

Sweetie nodded morosely, not even looking up at her.

The showmare slowly stroked the filly’s mane. “It was an accident, Sweetie... and... I don’t want to give you false hope, but when things like that happen, you cannot simply trust your eyes...”

“What do you mean?” Sweetie asked, her eyes red from crying and rubbing at them.

“There is a chance that Twilight, your Twilight, is still alive,” Trixie said carefully. “Your perceptions of what happened could have been affected by the magic... I believe that’s how you were sent to this dimension. Maybe the same happened to her.”

“So... this isn’t my real home?” the filly sniffled.

“I’m afraid not. That’s why everything you remember is so different.”

“But then... Apple Bloom wasn’t lying! And she got punished worse because of me!”

Trixie nodded. “There’s not much we can do about that right now, but we’ll sort it out tomorrow. For now we should sleep. I’ll ask Spike to send a letter to Twilight; she may know how to get you home.”

Sweetie yawned and nodded. “Thanks... Trixie.” She stood up and went upstairs, leaving Trixie alone.

With a sigh, the unicorn conjured up a blank scroll and a quill. Soon, the only noise in the Library was the scratching of quill on parchment.


The next morning, Trixie trotted down the stairs slowly to a pair of youthful voices.

“So, then you add the bananas now...” Spike’s voice drifted from the kitchen.

“Like this?” came Sweetie’s voice a second later.

Yep, nicely done! Now, press them down a little bit so that the batter goes all around it. Yeah, like that,” Spike instructed.

“What’s going on here?” Trixie asked, walking into the kitchen with a sleepy grin.

“Morning, Trixie!” Spike called, smiling at her.

Sweetie Belle smiled brightly and waved a hoof excitedly at the showmare. “Spike is teaching me how to make the princess’s favorite pancakes!”

“Ok! Concentrate!” Spike interrupted, shifting the little unicorn's attention back to the task before them. “You see how the batter is starting to bubble? That means that they’re almost ready to be turned over; lift up the side of the pancake a bit: once that looks a bit more solid, use your magic to flip them.”

Sweetie concentrated and three of the pancakes glowing as they flipped under her control, while Spike expertly flipped five others with a spatula. They waited a little bit before placing the pancakes onto a platter which went straight into a preheated oven.

“To keep them warm,” Spike explained, when Sweetie asked why.

Trixie watched in bemusement as the pair of youngsters produced batch after batch of pancakes. It wasn’t long before they had run out of room in the oven, and the group sat down to eat.

“I think I will take over your training for today, Sweetie,” Trixie declared after a pause in the meal, “Twilight is not due back until late afternoon, I would think. And honestly, that mare puts far too much emphasis on theory and not enough on execution, I think you need a bit more hooves-on practice to get that shield working.”

Sweetie looked at the older unicorn in surprise. “Really? You’ll help?”

Trixie nodded. “Why, of course. The Great and Powerful Trixie could not simply leave her beloved’s apprentice unattended to stagnate in her education! Twilight would have my hide for such an offense! So, get ready, we’ll stop by Carousel Boutique to tell Rarity you’ll be with me today.”

Sweetie could only nod dumbly as Trixie walked out of the kitchen. “Did she just call Twilight her ‘beloved’?” she squeaked, wide-eyed as she turned to look at Spike for confirmation.

“Yeah,” the little dragon nodded, munching happily a somewhat burnt pancake. “I thought everypony knew, what with the duel and the competition in Canterlot...”

“But... what about Big Mac?” Sweetie asked.

Spike blinked. “What about him?”

“I always thought he had a thing for Twilight! I even saw them--” Sweetie stammered out before stopping herself short.

Stupid, Sweetie! I forgot this isn’t my home...

“Even saw them what?” Spike asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Uh... nothing.” Sweetie smiled. “I should get my mane ready, you know...” she trailed off at his expression. “Because of my sister... Who dislikes... messy... manes. I go now! 

Spike watched as she ran out of the kitchen before shrugging. “Well, better get this cleaned up if I want to go with them to see... Rarity.Spike sighed as he absentmindedly began to wash the dishes.


The walk towards Carousel Boutique was quiet. There were a lot of things that Sweetie wanted to ask Trixie, specifically what to tell Rarity, but Spike’s presence made her feel uncomfortable talking about something that felt so personal.

She really wasn’t looking forward to this. 

What am I going to tell Sis? Is she really my sis? Should I talk to her at all? She grew more even nervous as the boutique came into view. What should I do? What should I do?! She looked, wild-eyed to Trixie, who looked back calmly.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure your sister will understand if you need a day to sort things out. And you’ll be with me, so she needn’t worry.”

Sweetie Belle exhaled and felt herself relax a bit at Trixie’s words. I guess if she’s my sister back home, she’s still my sister here... she smiled. I’m sure we’re as close here as we are there... like apple pie.

As soon as they reached the boutique, the door opened and Rarity was looking at Sweetie with a worried expression. “Good morning, Sweetie...” the fashionista trailed off, unsure of what to say next.

Sweetie looked down and scratched at the floor with a hoof. “Morning, sis.”

The two looked very uncomfortable, just standing there, avoiding one another’s gaze before Trixie finally cleared her throat. “Good morning, Rarity. I have talked to Sweetie and she wishes to practice magic with me today, and hopefully to clear her mind. We came here to see if that was okay.”

“We did?” Spike asked, cringing as he received glares from everypony present. “Uh... I guess we did.”

“I...” Rarity glanced over her shoulder at the tea set and muffins she had procured for a quiet talk with Sweetie. “I- if that is what you want, Sweetie,” she said, looking back to the pair of unicorns in front of her.

“I do, sis...” the filly said after a moment. “But I also wanted to talk to you... and Scootaloo and Apple Bloom... but I... I need some time.”

Rarity sighed. “It’s okay, Sweetie. I’m... I’m sorry I made you feel so bad and that I accused you of lying.” She was suddenly being crushed by a hug from the unicorn filly.

“I’m sorry I’m making you worry, sis!” Sweetie cried. “I just... have a lot to think about. I promise I’ll tell you everything.”

Rarity smiled, nuzzling the filly affectionately. “I can work with that,” she reassured her sister.

“Well, we should get going,” Trixie said, casting suspicious glances around. “I’d rather be out of here before I get challenged again.”

“Good luck then!” Rarity said as the trio turned around and started walking away.

Thanks, sis! See you soon!” Sweetie called over her shoulder.

Spike waved half-heartedly as he rode on Trixie’s back, watching his beloved Rarity walk into the boutique.

Trixie led them out of town and towards the edge of the Everfree Forest, stopping just shy of entering Everfree proper.

“I think we’re far enough...” She turned around to face Sweetie Belle. “Okay, now, we’ll start with you trying the spell while I throw something at you. If your spell works, the shield should stop it.”

Sweetie blinked. “Uh... Twilight always told me that I should understand everything about the spell before-”

Trixie waved a hoof dismissively. “Twilight worries too much. Trust me. I didn’t spend several months tied in a high-magic competition with her without knowing what I was doing.”


“It’s okay. I won’t throw anything too dangerous at you,” Trixie encouraged. “This is how the Zebras train their young warriors.”

“But I’m not a Zebra!”

“Well... you like the spicy tea so you could be,” Spike said after a moment. “I mean, you’d need stripes but...”

Trixie rolled her eyes and levitated a small dirt clod. “Ready?”


“Well, here it goes!”

“But I-” Sweetie’s eyes widened as they followed the patch of dirt. She jumped out of the way. “Hey! I said I wasn’t ready!”

“You cheated!” Trixie called back, grinning. “You’re not supposed to dodge! You’re supposed to cast the shield spell!”

Spike didn’t look amused. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” he asked the azure unicorn.

“Yes,” Trixie admitted, keeping her eyes and her grin trained on the little filly.

Sweetie kept a wary eye on the showmare. “I knew I shouldn’t trust her,” She muttered, only to watch in horrified fascination as Trixie levitated many, many pieces of dirt and positioned them right over the pair. When the sky was veritably blotted out by small balls of dirt, Sweetie decided that it was best to be someplace else...

… and promptly found that she couldn’t move.

Too late did she notice the faint blue aura surrounding her hooves. She looked up at Trixie in despair. The showmare smirked at her. The dirt balls above her shot down in Sweetie’s direction.

Spike, watching from a safe distance away, closed both his eyes for a split second, but soon enough opened one to take a peek.

With a huge SPLAT made out of smaller splats, Sweetie Belle was buried under hundreds of dirtballs.

“Why?!” Sweetie asked after a moment. “That’s not fair!” She shook off some of the dirt, but most of her coat was completely covered in it.

Trixie chuckled, looking proudly at the filly. “But Sweetie, you cast the spell!”

Sweetie blinked and looked at her coat. She had been almost completely covered in dirt. “No I didn’t!”

The showmare shook her head, smile still in place. “Look at your mane, you silly filly.”

Sweetie looked up as much as she could.

“One moment.” Trixie transmuted a small rock into a mirror before levitating it before the young unicorn. “Here.” 

Sweetie stared at her reflection. Just like the showmare had said, there was not a speck of dust or dirt on her mane.

“I did it?” she asked in wonder. “I did it! Yay!” out of habit she turned to look at her flank.

Was... was there something there? Even for just for a second?

“Are you ready for another try?” Trixie called as she watched the filly spin around trying to see if she had a cutie mark.



They spent most of the morning practicing. Once Sweetie had figured out how to make a shield big enough to cover her completely from falling dirt, Trixie had changed tactics, hurling clods from all directions. Some were stopped by the shield, but most of the time, Sweetie was unable to cast the spell quickly enough to avoid getting hit.

Trixie had then alternated between practicing the shield spell to practicing Prestidigitation, and finally having Sweetie levitate three balls which they would toss back and forth between them. As they did, the showmare began to describe the competition she had had with Twilight Sparkle, both of them throwing hundreds of balls at each other.

To say the little filly was impressed would be an understatement.

I’m pretty sure the Trixie from my world would never be able to do that! she had thought to herself on more than one occasion, but she was nevertheless thrilled that Twilight, or this world's version had proven herself so powerful and resourceful as well.

“I think that is enough for now,” Trixie said, looking down at the now brown-coated filly covered in darker patches of dirt panting in front of her. “Rarity is going to kill me. I know it.”

“I think most of it’ll come out in a bath.” Sweetie looked down at herself, taking several deep breaths before closing her eyes and shaking herself, sending cascades of dirt falling to the ground. She opened her eyes to find that, despite the ring of dirt around her, her normally white coat was still a light brown.

“Maybe.” Trixie smirked. “We should have something to eat.” The showmare gave Spike a meaningful look. The dragon, having watched the training with a great deal of amusement, rolled his eyes.

“Fine, fine,” Spike muttered half-heartedly. “I’ll make you some daisy sandwiches.” He sighed as he stood up and walked back towards town.

Thankful for the rest, Sweetie collapsed on the grass. She didn’t think about anything at all, content to watch the clouds pass overhead. However, a passing pegasus in the distance brought more painful memories.

“Scootaloo and Apple Bloom hate me.” she said finally. “Apple Bloom thinks I lied to avoid getting punished, and Scootaloo thinks that I don’t care about them at all.”

“They think that you’re their Sweetie Belle. To them, you were here a couple of days ago playing around,” Trixie said, sitting next to her. “We’ll have to clear it up before we send you on your way to find your Twilight, otherwise our Sweetie is going to find herself in a rather unexplainable situation.”

“Oh...” Sweetie murmured. “I just wish I hadn’t hurt them,” she added miserably.

Trixie sighed. “It’ll be okay, Sweetie. You had no intention of hurting them. You were simply confused. I am sure your friends will understand.”

The little filly nodded tiredly before she looked lazily towards Ponyville, blinking in confusion as she saw Spike running back to them. “Well, that was fast.”

Trixie looked towards the approaching dragon and frowned. “Too fast. He couldn’t have even gone halfway to the library yet.”

The pair watched as Spike jogged up to them, out of breath. “I... *gasp* I got this... *cough* from the Princess...” he said, shakily holding a scroll up in his claw as he bent over, wheezing, “Whew... I gotta lay off the agate.”

Blinking, Trixie levitated the scroll up and opened it. As her eyes scanned the page, she started looking ill.

“Trixie?” Spike asked. “Is something wrong?”

“It’s Twilight,” the showmare said worriedly. “She was supposed to have arrived last night!”

“But what happened? Wasn’t she with the Princess?” Sweetie asked.

“The Princess says that Twilight decided to go home on her own after stopping at a village to investigate a some legend,” the blue unicorn said, rereading the scroll. “She’s worried since  Twilight was only supposed to be there for a couple of hours before heading back here.”

Trixie smacked a hoof to her forehead before letting it slide down her face, a frustrated groan escaping her. “She’d better not be in trouble!”

“What town is it? Maybe we can go get her?”

Trixie looked down at the filly. “Marethage. But what do you mean by ‘we’?”

“I’m not staying here while my teacher is in danger!” Sweetie declared without hesitation. “Even if she wasn’t teaching me, Twilight’s still my friend

“Since when have you been so close to Twilight?” Spike asked Sweetie, but she ignored him, concentrating on the showmare instead.

Trixie sighed, wilting beneath the little filly’s stare. “Listen, Sweetie, you are indeed very talented in magic and you would make Twilight proud with how fast you are advancing. But, you are still very young. It would be completely irresponsible of me to take you with me.”

“But...” Sweetie looked down at the floor angrily.

Why is it always like this? Sis treats me like that all the time! The only ones that never do are Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Twilight! She blinked back tears.

“Listen Sweetie, you have to stay with your sister. It’s too dangerous. We don’t know what happened to Twilight.” The showmare said kindly.

“No.” Sweetie looked up at the other unicorn. “I can’t! Don’t you see? I can’t go back home... I don’t even know when I will! I have to learn to be stronger and I have to help Twilight! Please! Don’t... don’t leave me behind! I can’t let anything happen to her again... not again...

Trixie looked unsure. For a moment, she had forgotten who she was dealing with. This might be Sweetie Belle, but it wasn’t their Sweetie Belle. And it was true: there were no guarantees that Sweetie would return home once they figured out how to send her on her way. And if she got into trouble... would she be able to defend herself? A Shield spell was useful, but other than Levitation  and Prestidigitation, there was little else the filly had at her disposal danger in some other universe. Was it better to leave her behind, safe in Ponyville? Or would it be better to take her along and try to instill some of the world knowledge she had?

The showmare sighed. This was not what she imagined she was going to spend this month like. Dodging challengers? Yes. Suddenly finding out that the little sister of one of her friends was in reality a dimensional-hopping filly unicorn? No. Embarking on a sudden quest to find her lover? Well... perhaps, considering her lover and friend’s habitual attraction to adventure, but a sudden quest and a dimension-hopping filly at the same time? Certainly not.

And now here was Sweetie staring at her with those big, green, puppy dog eyes of hers. Trixie knew Twilight was probably just caught up in her studies, but still she had an uneasy feeling about the entire situation.

“I’ll be good!” Sweetie promised. “It’s just that... If anything happens to Twilight and I’m not there to help...” She looked down. “I don’t know what I would do. I... I have to make it up to her, Trixie... please let me make it up to her...

“Hold on!” Spike said, stepping between the two. “Since when does Sweetie Belle hang around Twilight enough to be her student and friend? And how come I never noticed? What is going on here?”

“I-” Sweetie started to reply, but was interrupted by Trixie.

“We will tell you and the others when we return,” the showmare promised.

“We?” the filly asked, looking up at the older unicorn in surprise, “Are you saying-”

“Yes.” Trixie nodded. “I will take you with me. You are not prepared enough for your situation. Be grateful that Twilight managed to teach you the value of study and diligence... it will probably save your life in the future.” The blue-coated mare turned to look at the baby dragon. “Spike, please trust me, I will go find Twilight; we should be back soon. We have to talk to Rarity first though...”

“That won’t be necessary,” a voice said, startling them and making them turn around. Rarity stepped nervously into view. “I... arrived here a few moments ago... I heard you talking.” Rarity walked towards them before stopping a few feet from her sister. “Sweetie...I know yesterday wasn’t exactly a perfect day, but I want you to know that I love you, and that I am ashamed of having doubted you. I don’t know how you know what you do, I don’t understand how Twilight had the time to even teach you while you played... there’s quite a lot I don’t understand about all this...” she sighed.

"How long were you listening, sis?"

"Only since Spike arrived... I had just been to the library to check on you, but you weren’t there... then I saw him running this way, so I followed him.”


“Sweetie... you are my sister and I trust you. Even when everything I thought I knew told me otherwise... I saw you fall asleep studying last night, I saw you use magic and I heard you when you answered Trixie’s questions. I know that there is something going on here... something you know that I do not... But... must you go with Trixie?”

“Sis...” Sweetie hugged Rarity tightly. “I... I’ll explain everything to you and Apple Bloom and Scootaloo and Spike... but, it has to wait; it’s a long story and Twilight needs us. Please let me do this, sis. I have to do it... for Twilight,” she begged, eyes pained.

Rarity’s eyes met Trixie’s. “You will take care of her? You will make sure she’s not in danger?” she asked, staring at the showmare.

"I promise," the showmare replied before shrinking back suddenly.

Despite knowing that she was more powerful than the white unicorn, Trixie still found herself intimidated by the sudden death glare from Rarity. “Trixie, if something does happen to my Sweetie Belle, I will kill you.”

Gulping, the showmare nodded. “I will protect her with my life.”

"Good." The fashionista's glare faded as she turned to nuzzle Sweetie Belle. "Take care of yourself, Sweetie Belle."

“I will!” the filly said, sniffing as she pulled away from her older sister to go stand next to Trixie.

“Let’s go, Sweetie,” the showmare said, turning around. “The sooner we find Twilight, the sooner we’ll be back.”

Spike went to stand next to Rarity as the pair watched the blue unicorn and the filly walk away. They stood on the hill until they had lost sight of the travelers, and then Rarity looked down at Spike. “Come now, Spike. I need to take my mind off things, and I could use some company while I find some new gems.”

Spike nodded happily and walked beside the unicorn. “Are you going to be making a new dress, Rarity?”

“No,” she said with a smile. “I just have an idea.


The journey began quietly. Both unicorns were deep in thought as they walked along the road to Marethage.

Finally, Sweetie spoke up. “Thank you for bringing me with you, Trixie.”

The showmare shook her head when she heard the filly. “It’s okay, Sweetie.” She looked towards the younger unicorn. “You really do feel guilty about what happened to your Twilight, don’t you?”

The little unicorn nodded miserably. “It was my fault. If I hadn’t messed up her experiment, none of this would’ve happened.”

Trixie was silent for a moment, thinking on how best to express her thoughts. “I think our worlds are similar enough that the um... incident... with the Ursa Minor happened in your Ponyville too, am I right?”

Sweetie Belle nodded. “I didn’t really know about it until after you, I mean, my Trixie threw the werewolves at me. Twilight told me about it afterwards.”

Trixie nodded. “Well, although I wasn’t the one that brought the Ursa Minor to Ponyville, I was still indirectly responsible for it getting there. If I had kept an eye on Snips and Snails, I would have noticed that they were too easily impressed with my feats, that they couldn’t really distinguish showbiz from reality.” She coughed. “Sometimes we do things without thinking about consequences, Sweetie. I inflated my achievements to the point of fantasy to inspire and amaze my audience, but I never thought that it might be too much for... impressionable minds.”

“But at least nothing happened,” Sweetie argued, her voice threatening to break. “I blew up the Library!”

“Just because the Ursa was contained doesn’t mean something much worse wouldn’t have happened,” Trixie pointed out. “I was lucky that Twilight was there to save my and Ponyville’s collective hide.” She looked sadly at the filly. “But you weren’t so lucky. It’s random chance sometimes, how our lack of foresight plays out. I’ve learned a great deal since then, Sweetie, but you’re just a filly, and what you’re dealing with is more than anypony should at this time in your life. Accept that it was an accident... but as you struggle to make up for it, also accept that certain things are beyond your control.”

Sweetie Belle said nothing, her mind replaying the incident over and over... the way the out of control magic had coursed through and enveloped Twilight... the way her mentor had turned to crystal and shattered...

There’s no way I can ever forgive myself, she thought bitterly. How can I ever make up for it? I killed Twilight. There’s no bringing her back.

The pair continued in silence a little longer before Trixie spoke up once more. “I don’t know where you will go next,” Trixie said, looking straight ahead. “But perhaps... would you like to learn some illusion spells?”

Sweetie looked at the mare in surprise. “Will you teach me?”

“Well, why not? I was helping train you with the Shield spell already,” Trixie said. “Besides, I can’t let my love’s apprentice go into the unknown without sharing my amazing magical repertoire.”

Sweetie smiled, pushing thoughts of her original world to the back of her mind.

You’ll have to deal with it sooner or later... a tiny voice in her mind said, but she told it to shut up. She didn’t want to think about it.

“Okay, we can practice a bit on the way,” the showmare said. “This is a little like the Prestidigitation spell, but it is more advanced, so don’t be too worried if you cannot do it yet, okay? Just keep practicing whenever you have the chance.”


The town of Marethage was slightly bigger than Ponyville, but not by much. It had a small library, a couple of restaurants, and other amenities just like their town.

However, unlike Ponyville, Marethage was surrounded by a tall wall made out of thick, sharpened logs plunged into the earth. The outside fields were even protected by a lower wall, but strangely there were no barns or dwellings of any sort outside of the town itself.

“Look at this,” Trixie said, stopping a moment to admire the plants. “I have never seen cornstalks this size! And look at those pumpkins! And those tomatoes! No wonder Canterlot has been buying almost exclusively from Marethage these last couple of years.”

Sweetie Belle looked at the plants for a moment. Thinking about harvests and farms just made her think about Apple Bloom and she didn’t want to do that.

Taking her silence in stride, Trixie guided her charge along the main road towards the town.

It was starting to get a little dark by the time they arrived. A pony up in an observation tower noticed them and waved with a lantern. “Who goes there?”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie and her assistant and apprentice, Sweetie Belle!” the showmare announced with practiced flourish.

“Apprentice?” Sweetie asked, looking at the older unicorn with an arched eyebrow.

“Well, yes!” Trixie said. “It isn’t as though Twilight has exclusive rights to you! Besides, I have been tutoring you for close to a day now.”

The gates swung open to admit them, Sweetie Belle smiling as she followed the blue-coated mare into the town. Inside the walls, the town looked to be pretty much the same size as Ponyville. At its center stood a decorative fountain from which a jagged rock rock in the shape of a crescent moon glittered in the light of the street lamps. The houses were less stylized than their hometown, having a more uniform look with its structures. All in all, however, it seemed to be a hospitable, if a bit too orderly, place.

“You were lucky to make it here before sundown!” the earth pony guard said, as he trotted up to meet them. He had a brown coat and an honest smile. His cutie mark was a lit candle. “Lantern Case, at your service, ma’ams,” he said with a curt bow of his forelegs. “Welcome to Marethage; no doubt you are on your way to Viscolt, correct?”

“Actually, this is where we were headed, good sir,” Trixie said. “We’ve come seeking a unicorn by the name of Twilight Sparkle.”

“Oh...” Lantern looked suddenly nervous. “I’m afraid that Miss Sparkle is not with us anymore...”

Trixie’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, by ‘not with us’?”

“Well, you see...”

“She didn’t listen when we told her she had to be in town by nightfall,” another guard, older looking and with a grey coat and a lock for a cutie mark, growled, as he trotted up to them. “She said she needed to be out there to find something. We warned her to be careful and to come back here. By the time we had locked the gates, she hadn’t come back.”

“What?!” Sweetie Belle squeaked out.

“And you didn’t organize a search party?!” Trixie demanded, her eyes hard.

“Miss, we can’t just organize a search for everypony foolish enough not to listen to those of us that know better. I’m afraid that, having been gone this long,” the guard said. “It’s unlikely she’s even still alive.”

A burst of energy nearly knocked both guards down as Trixie’s magic manifested in a visible blue aura around her. Her eyes almost glowed with power. “Do you foals even know who she is?!” she almost screamed, drawing the attention of other ponies in the area, who slowly walked up to the guards as they struggled to get up.

Just some uppity unicorn from Canterlot,” the gray one snorted.

“She is Princess Celestia’s PERSONAL STUDENT!” Trixie growled, anger emanating from every particle of her being, wisps of magical energy curling off from her aura. “She’s gone missing and you didn’t even attempt to find her!” Trixie gritted her teeth in anger as another wave of energy radiated from her. The main gate beginning to protest as her magic slowly pressed on it.

The guard’s eyes widened. “Stop! Stop! What are you doing, you crazy mare!? Do you want to get us all killed?”

“I’m going to do your job and go find her, you useless slob!” Trixie retorted.

“Miss! Please calm down!” an elder unicorn asked, stepping out from the terrified crowd. “There is a reason why we didn’t go after her! Please! Calm down and let me explain.”

Trixie was about to ignore him when she felt a tap on her leg. Looking down, eyes still glowing with power, she noticed Sweetie Belle looking up at her. “Please, Trixie, calm down. We can go find her, but Twilight wouldn’t like it if you destroyed the town.” The showmare took a deep breath and visibly restrained herself, the blue aura slowly dying away.

“Fine,” she spoke through gritted teeth. “You will tell us what happened. And there better be a good reason.”

The unicorn nodded, sighing in relief at the calmed mare. He turned an annoyed look towards the gray-coated guard. “Lip Lock, when are you going to learn some tact? There’s other ways of breaking the news to a pony.”

The guard looked away angrily. “Whatever.”

The elder unicorn shook his head sadly. “Please, come with me. I am the Scroll Shelf, Mayor of Marethage.”

“Shelf?” Sweetie asked with a soft giggle before she could stop herself. “Sorry.”

The Mayor chuckled. “I had cruel parents,” he said with a fond smile. “They were very good at name guessing though, since that is about 80 percent of my work.”

Mister Shelf, as much as I would like to chat, I want more to know what happened to my- to Twilight,” Trixie demanded.

If the elder unicorn caught her slip, he gave no indication of it. “We’re almost there,” he said, pointing to a small building with a sign that read ‘Council Hall.’

They entered the building and after finding a place to sit down, they did so. The mayor coughed before looking out the window. “Miss Sparkle was here, as you already know, conducting a bit of research,” he said. “She asked me if there were any ruins in the area and I said no.” He looked back at them. “I lied.”

“Why would you do that?” Trixie growled. “Knowing Twilight she headed straight for the nearest library and found out that there were.”

The mayor nodded. “That is indeed what happened. Miss Sparkle left the town by herself when she couldn’t get anypony to talk to her about the ruins...”

“But why wouldn’t you tell her anything?” Sweetie asked.

The Mayor sighed. “A few years ago, something happened,” he said. “Out of the ruins came two enormous wolves. The beasts would attack at night, and drag one of our own with them to the ruins. We tried fighting, but they were far too strong. And when the moon would be full, they would transform...” The mayor shuddered. “We searched the old records for mention of the ruins, and found that the two monsters had been trapped in there in ancient times. They had been turned to stone by some sort of magic. But now... it seems they have broken free.”

“But why did you not warn Twilight?” Trixie asked. “She could have-”

“Wait...” Sweetie Belle interrupted, looking up at the mayor with a frown. “These wolves... are they Romulus and Remus?”

The mayor blinked in surprise. “Well... yes but... how...”

“You know of them?” Trixie asked, surprised, then her eyes narrowed. “Were those...”

Sweetie nodded nervously. “Yeah... but...” she looked at the mayor. “How did they get out of the ruins? I studied their story and the legends. The only way they could leave is if somepony took them out of their cave, or if the spell keeping them inside is broken.”

Trixie looked at the mayor, who shuffled nervously. “We- we don’t know who did it, it just happened!”

“The legend also says that if they capture a mare near the Full Moon, they will try to turn her into one of them,” Sweetie Belle continued. “They were stopped a long ago when they were bent on creating a kingdom of wolves.”

“Who stopped them, Sweetie? And how?” Trixie asked as she tried to calculate when the next Full Moon was.

“I’m not sure, it could have been the Princesses,” the filly replied uncertainly. “But I’m sure we could find out if we researched it en-

“We don’t have time,” Trixie said, pacing around the room. “The Full Moon is tonight! Twilight will become one of them if we don’t act now.”

Sweetie frowned and looked outside, worry evident in her eyes. “They will try to do it soon after the moon is out... it’s a bit cloudy and they’ll want it to be as clear as possible.”

“Good, that works in our favor,” Trixie muttered, turning her glare towards the Mayor. “You will give us directions to the ruins.”

“I can’t let you go kill yourselves!” The Mayor cried out. “You have no idea-”

“We know exactly what we’re doing,” Trixie interrupted, “And I will have you know that the Princess already knows that Twilight was last seen here, and that we both came looking for her on the Princesses’ behalf. If you do not help us, I will personally make sure that she finds out!”

The old stallion cringed. “Fine. But be warned that if you go, you will almost certainly die.”

“We’ll see about that,” the showmare replied.


“So, Sweetie,” Trixie began as the trees rose above them, hiding the stars from view, “What do you know about these werewolves? How did you stop them last time?”

Sweetie Belle looked around at the darkened woods nervously. “Well, they’re immortal... the story says that one cannot die while the other lives.”

The showmare frowned. “That doesn’t make much sense... sounds like some sort of riddle.”

“I didn’t get it either,” Sweetie confessed. “I also know that silver burns them... that’s how Twilight caught them; she made a cage and wrapped silver all over it.”

Trixie groaned. “We don’t have any silver. Is there any other way to stop them? What about that spell that kept them in the ruins?”

Sweetie shrugged. “I just know that there was some sort of spell keeping them there so only somepony willing would be able to release them.”

Trixie hummed to herself, eyes narrowing. “Somepony must have moved it...” she thought for a moment. “You said that they wanted to create a kingdom of wolves? Why are they sticking to this small area then? If they moved away they would be able to catch more ponies than those in Marethage.”

Sweetie looked down. “I don’t know, Trixie... sorry.”

The blue unicorn chuckled. “I didn’t expect you to know, Sweetie, I was just thinking aloud, that’s all.” Her smile faded. “I think the Mayor knew more than he told us.”

Sweetie didn’t answer, she was more concerned with the forest around them and the possibility of a werewolf attack.

“But why... they haven’t even reported the werewolves were free to Canterlot!” Trixie growled. “Sweetie, tell me more about this legend.”

“Well... the book Twilight gave me said that Romulus and Remus were two brother wolves that wanted to make their kingdom, but because they were the only ones left, they couldn’t have any subjects, so they each went their own way to find a way to create more wolves.” Sweetie paused, trying to remember more of the story. “They eventually found a magic item to help them with that, it had something to do with... uh... fert.. ability?”

“Fertility,” Trixie corrected.

“Yeah! Fertability,” the filly repeated. “They were somehow tied forever to the item, but the problem was that it would only give its power to one of them.”

“I can see where that would be a problem.” the showmare quipped.

“So they fought over it until Romulus almost killed his brother...”

“But didn’t you say that they were immortal?” Trixie asked.

“Hey! I didn’t write the story! Some silly pony did like a thousand years ago!”

“Sorry, Sweetie. Please. Continue.”

“Well, the book didn’t say how, but a group of heroes sealed them in the ruins with the magic item... and they were supposed to stay there forever.”

Trixie nodded, deep in thought.

The pair walked in silence until the forest started to clear around them. Soon, they were standing outside a circle of stones, with a path at one end of the circle going deep underground.

“I guess this is it...” Trixie sighed.

“Do we know what we’ll do?” Sweetie asked.

The showmare grimaced. “I should have asked you about those wolves earlier, had we been in town I think I could have done something...”

Sweetie looked at the path nervously. “Trixie... what if-”

“Don’t think about it,” the showmare whispered. “We have to get her out. Now, come, The Great and Powerful Trixie has a plan.”

The two unicorns slowly made their way into the ruins. At first, the underground passage was little but rocks around them, but the tunnel eventually emerged into a large cavern, where they stopped and stared in awe at the remnants of an ancient city. From time to time a small tremor would shake the cavern and bits of rock and dirt would rain from the ceiling.

“It looks like this place is about ready to collapse,” Trixie muttered.

“Wait!” Sweetie hissed. “I think I heard something...”

It took a moment, but eventually they heard a faint voice in the distance. Looking at each other, they slowly began to move forward.

“... you don’t have to do this, I’m sure there’s plenty of other ways for you to, uh, procreate than turning me into a werewolf!”

“That’s Twilight!” Sweetie whispered excitedly. Trixie smiled and nodded, raising a hoof to indicate to the filly that she needed to be quiet.

The pair snuck into a half-collapsed house and carefully peeked through the cracks in the wall.

Twilight stood inside a small cage, fearfully pleading with her captors as they stood in before of a massive ancient column that reached all the way up to the apex of the cave and seemed to be the only thing keeping it up. Next to her, a familiar looking stone structure stood amongst the remains of buildings and several rocks that had landed around it. It was a bit of jagged rock that looked almost like a crescent moon... or that’s what Sweetie had thought when she had seen it in Marethage. Now, it reminded her more of a wickedly curved fang, albeit a bit duller looking than its counterpart.

“Why isn’t she using her magic?” Sweetie whispered.

Trixie looked down and shook her head, pointing towards her horn.

What about her horn? Sweetie wondered, looking at the showmare blankly. When it was obvious the filly wasn’t getting it, Trixie rolled her eyes and pointed at her own horn, then shook her head. Not her horn? Then the showmare pointed at Twilight, then at her own horn. Twilight’s horn? Sweetie looked back at her mentor and noticed the small object around her horn, some sort of metal clasp wrapped around the purple unicorn’s horn. Oooh... that must stop her magic!

Seeing the light of comprehension dawn on the filly’s face, Trixie sighed. Finally. She turned to look back at the wolves.

“Ready, little mare?” One of the wolves, slightly bigger than the other grinned wickedly as he reached a paw past the bars, gently tracing a claw down the side of Twilight’s face. “You’re cute right now; I think you will make an even lovelier wolf.”

“Um, thank you, but I’d much rather not... no offense, but I have friends and a very special pony waiting for me back home... Maybe there’s some other way I can help you. Maybe a--

“Don’t you ever get tired of begging?!” the other wolf barked, annoyed. “You’re going to be a wolf, not a dog!”

“I’m just offering a more mutually agreeable solution to-”

“No,” the bigger wolf growled with finality. “I don’t care who you are with right now, and neither will you in a few moments.”

The three looked up, the two unicorns in hiding also following their eyes. Where the ceiling had caved in, the group could make out the stars in the sky above. The weather had cleared and the Full Moon had risen.

“It is time,” the bigger stated as the pair of wolves approached the fang. The pair howled into the air, their lupine shapes blurring as they transformed into their larger, bipedal forms.

Both werewolves, now standing up on their hind legs placed their hands on the jagged rock, lowering their heads in what seemed like prayer.

“Moon!” the larger howled. “It is I, Romulus! He who hast proven beyond doubt to be the strongest!”

Sweetie and Trixie noticed Remus shooting his brother a spiteful glare before lowering his head again.

“Bestow unto me your blessing so that I might populate the world with our kin!” Romulus finished.

The rock pulsed with white light. Slowly intensifying until it began to illuminate the area around them.

Twilight stared, fears forgotten at the revelation of what had to be something a pony would only witness once in a life-time.

Sweetie, for her part, was staring at Trixie, the showmare’s horn shining softly with magic and eyes closed in concentration.

The moonlight slowly permeated the smaller of the werewolves, who glowed for a few seconds, smiling fiercely at the look his brother gave him.

“It seems the moon has chosen me after all, brother.” Remus laughed. “Don’t worry, I will make our kingdom strong.” He turned to grin at Twilight, who audibly meeped and backed into the opposite corner of her prison.

No, no, no! I don’t want to be a wolf!” she shouted, smacking her encased horn against the bars, trying to forcibly remove the clasp that prevented her from using her magic.

It is too late, pony,” Remus growled as he stepped closer, but It was then that Romulus’ clawed hand grasped his shoulder.

“This is not going to happen,” the larger werewolf said, a threatening growl emerging. “I am the Alpha here! I shall be the one turn her and we will begin the kingdom of the wolf anew.”

Remus stepped away, shrugging his brother’s paw off. “You were the Alpha,” he growled back. “The Moon Fang has spoken! I am to be the progenitor of-”

He never finished as, with a vicious snarl, the taller werewolf was on him, ripping and tearing at flesh with tooth and fang. Remus replied in kind and soon both werewolves were in an all out battle. Soon, Remus was sent rolling on the floor. Standing up in shaky feet, he lowered his head and tucked his tail as he took on a submissive posture.

B-brother... I... I yield to you... spare me...”

Romulus paused and was about to speak when the moonlight shone again on Remus, his fur glistening once more with the white light of the Moon Fang’s blessing. “No! The only way to create my kingdom is by killing you! You still have the blessing!”

Eyes widening in terror, Remus turned and bolted, followed closely by his brother, the sounds of their chase fading away slowly.

After a few moments of silence, Twilight started struggling, trying to remove the clasp again, keeping an eye out for the brother’s return.

“Need a hoof with that?”

Twilight jumped and hit her head on the top of her cage. Rubbing her head with a hoof, she turned around and stared as Trixie walked out from a ruined house with accompanied by none other than... Sweetie Belle? 

“T-Trixie!” Twilight choked out as tears of happiness flooded her eyes and flowed freely down her cheeks. Both mares pressed against each side of the cage’s gate, nuzzling each other. A lightly blushing Sweetie Belle looked away, her eyes falling on the Moon Fang as something caught her eye.

As Trixie magicked the clasp from Twilight’s horn and unlocked the door, Sweetie made her way to the statue. Something had caught the moonlight, she thought, or maybe she had seen a faint, purple glow from amongst the rocks piled around it.

“Sweetie, we need to go before the Remus or Romulus return,” Trixie said.

“Wait...” Sweetie shook her head. “I... there’s something here...” Her horn lit the rocks with a white aura, and she heard Twilight gasp in surprise as she slowly levitated a few of the stones out of the way to reveal a small crystal shard. “That’s-” her eyes teared up. She would recognize this anywhere... it was a piece of Twilight. Her Twilight. The crystal almost seemed to pulsate with the familiar feel of the purple unicorn’s magic.

Trixie and Twilight stepped up to her, admiring the purple crystal as it spun and pulsed with magic.

“What is that?” Twilight asked softly, sensing that the filly was about to break up crying.

Trixie studied the crystal, eyes widening as she looked from it to Twilight and back to the crystal. “It’s...” Her throat felt dry. “Is that... what I think it is, Sweetie?”

The filly nodded, letting it fall into her hoof before clutching it tight to her chest. “It’s my Twilight.”

Your Twilight?” the purple unicorn asked, confused. “What do you mean, Sweetie? And... what are the two of you doing here in the first place?”

“There’s no time for that,” Trixie said. “We’ll tell you once we’re safe. We need to get out of here before-”

“Too late for that, little ponies,” Romulus said, walking into their sight. He dropped the carcass of his dead brother and smiled, his muzzle dripping blood. “My brother is no more. I will capture the three of you and receive the blessing of the Moon Fang... I will turn you all and together we shall lead our new kingdom to glory.”

The werewolf pounced, but before he made it even halfway through his jump, he was frozen in place by a mix of blue and purple auras.

Horns flaring and anger shining in their eyes, Trixie and Twilight held the wolf aloft for a moment before hurling him across the cavern.

Twilight’s horn took on a brighter shade as the Moon Fang was levitated into the air and thrown on top of the wolf.

“Do you think you can teleport all of us out?” Trixie asked Twilight.

“I think so!”

“Good!” The showmare turned her attention to the distant cave entrance. With a blast of magic, she collapsed part of the cave wall there before levitating pieces of destroyed building and piling them on top of each other until the whole entrance was covered. “Quick! Before he comes back!”

Twilight nodded and, after placing her forelegs around Sweetie and Trixie, closed her eyes in concentration, horn flaring into life. Sweetie let out an audible gasp as Romulus emerged from the shadows, leaping at them with all his strength and speed, snarling and with bloodlust in his eyes. The massive werewolf smashed against the ancient center column, the force of the impact sending cracks splintering up and down its length.

The werewolf looked up in fear and confusion as the support column split in half and the whole cavern began to groan and shake.


Reappearing outside of the entrance to the ruins with a burst of purple magic, the three unicorns turned to watch in morbid fascination as the cavern collapsed in on itself, burying its contents under tons of rock and earth.

For a few seconds, the mares thought they could hear enraged howls coming from within, but, as the dust settled, all was silent.

Trixie and Twilight looked at each other for a moment before the purple unicorn grabbed her lover by the neck and shared a very passionate kiss with her. After almost a minute, she let go of the dazed blue unicorn, who had to sit down.

“Now,” Twilight said, “I believe you two have some explaining to do.”

“How about you tell us what you were looking for here?” Trixie said, levelling a look at Twilight. “You might want us to explain, but we are the ones that had to come over here to save you.”

Twilight blushed, looking anywhere but at Trixie. “I...” She coughed. “Well... what do you know of the Moon Fang?”

Trixie raised an eyebrow. “Sweetie here told me that it was a symbol of fert-” her eyes widened. “Are you suggesting that-”

“I came here to see if we could... maybe... use it... someday...” Twilight lowered her head as she spoke until she looked almost as small as Sweetie. “To, you know... have a foal?”

Trixie opened her mouth as if to say something, but found that she didn’t have the words to describe the sudden warmth within her.


“... and although they had used the Moon Fang to increase the growth of their produce, they did so fully knowing that removing the magical statue from the ruins would allow Remus and Romulus to escape and attack innocent ponies. The wall around Marethage is a clear sign of their premeditation. They knew full well what they were getting into.”

Twilight paused for a moment before continuing her dictation.

“However, since both werewolves perished, the statue has lost all its power and is nothing more than a decoration now. Thankfully nopony was hurt.

“The Mayor of Marethage needs to be made responsible for his decision to endanger so many innocent ponies.

“Your faithful student,

“Twilight Sparkle.”

Twilight took a long breath and released it. “Okay Spike, send it.”

The baby dragon rolled up the scroll, and, in a breath of green fire, it was gone. “Well, it sounds like that was some adventure you three had!”

Twilight nodded. “I agree. But I still need an explanation as to why Sweetie was there. And who taught her magic?” The purple unicorn groaned in frustration. “If Sweetie hadn’t been so adamant on getting to Ponyville first...”

Spike blinked. “But, Twilight... she’s your apprentice. You taught her magic.”

The purple unicorn’s eyes widened. “No I didn’t!” They both turned to look at the filly.

Sweetie Belle, standing next to Trixie, cringed. “I guess I need to explain a couple of things now, don’t I?”

“It’s just about time, Sweetie Belle.” The showmare nodded with an encouraging smile.

“Well...” the filly unicorn hesitated. “I- I’d like Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Rarity to be here too, if you don’t mind, Twilight?”

The unicorn blinked and nodded. “Spike?”

“On it, Twilight!” he said, running out of the library.

It wasn’t long before Rarity walked in followed by the remaining members of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, both of whom refused to look at Sweetie Belle.

Rarity sighed, but gave her sister an encouraging smile as the group sat down around the filly.

“I- I don’t know where to start...” Sweetie said, turning to look at the blue unicorn.

perhaps I should,” Trixie offered, looking at each pony in the room in turn before she began. “Last year, while I was travelling through the lands of the Rhinos...”

As Trixie began to tell her captivated audience about the dream-like state that allowed the Rhinos to visit other dimensions, Sweetie sighed and looked down at the purple crystal she held in her hooves. It glittered with so many memories... she felt suddenly nostalgic, and very alone, despite being with friends and family, or rather, versions of them.

The little filly unicorn became aware of a sudden silence and, glancing up, she noticed that Trixie was looking expectantly to her. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were now also looking her way, confused as to what Trixie’s story had to do with anything, while Twilight and Rarity had slightly distant looks in their eyes as they looked at her as they connected the dots.

The filly sighed. “I...” She took a deep breath and looked at each pony in the eye. “For the last few weeks I have been learning magic as Twilight’s apprentice-”

“But-” Apple Bloom started, only to be shushed by Twilight, who was looking at the small unicorn intently.

“At first I just wanted to play with Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, all summer, but then Scootaloo went with Dash to a competition and Apple Bloom went with Applejack to Appleloosa...”

The group became very quiet as Sweetie described to them what it had been like living with Twilight while Rarity was away on a business trip; about how she had slowly warmed up to the purple unicorn and started really learning magic. How she had levitated her first stone. How she had accidentally turned Twilight’s mane pink while learning Prestidigitation. She told them about Trixie dragging Romulus and Remus to Ponyville, how she’d almost been killed and of Twilight’s decision to teach her the Shield spell. In halting sentences, she talked about the day that the library had received the packages from Canterlot, how she had come to the library and...

“... I-if... she paused a moment to wipe away the tears. “If I hadn’t tried to levitate those past the experiment, none of this would have happened!” she sobbed. “I’m so sorry!”

She was suddenly held by somepony. She opened her eyes to see Rarity hugging her. She felt Scootaloo and Apple Bloom do so too, and soon enough Twilight had joined the group.

“Oh, Sweetie...” Rarity said. “You’ve gone through so much...”

“I’m sorry...” Sweetie Belle apologized, burying her face in her sister’s mane. “I didn’t want to make Apple Bloom a liar, or Scootaloo angry...

“It’s not your fault,” Scootaloo said. “I’m sorry I acted that way.”

Twilight stepped back after a moment. “So... that piece of crystal you found, is that...”

Sweetie nodded, levitating the crystal so they could all see it. “It is a piece of Twilight... my Twilight.”

“May I?” Twilight asked, voice little more than a whisper, staring at the crystal.

Sweetie nodded, and allowed Twilight to take hold of it with her magic. The purple unicorn closed her eyes and concentrated, feeling out the magic within the fragment. It seemed to shimmer for a second, before the purple unicorn suddenly gasped.

“I- I heard my own voice coming from it!”

“What? How?” Sweetie asked, a sudden excitement coursing through her.

“I- I don’t know... I just tried sensing the magic in it and... I heard my voice... I couldn’t make out what I said, though...”

Sweetie took the crystal and concentrated, just as Twilight had taught her. Soon everything around her faded and her only focus was the crystal.

“Sweetie...” Twilight’s voice echoed around her. “It’s okay, Sweetie, we can make it back home... Both of us. Draw my magic from the crystal; it will get you on your way... I hope to see you soon, my student.”

“Twilight! I’m so sorry!” Sweetie said, gasping as she opened her eyes and found herself surrounded by the others.

“What happened?” Apple Bloom asked, look of worry etched on the farm filly’s face.

“I think... I think I know how to go home,” Sweetie said after a moment.

“Oh...” Rarity sighed. “I had made this for you, Sweetie...” She pulled out a small notebook, decorated with gems in the silhouette of a unicorn mare in a regal pose. “As a gift for you to take notes in while you studied...” she explained, letting Sweetie take it. “I guess you won’t be able to take it with you after all... and I don’t know if my Sweetie here would ever use it.”

Sweetie’s eyes watered a bit. “Thank you, sis.”

“Wait,” Twilight said after a moment, her hoof to her chin as she thought. “I think there might be a way.”

Sweetie’s eyes were wide. “You really mean that?”

Twilight chuckled. “Of course. What kind of unicorn would I be if I didn’t make sure my transdimensional counterpart’s student had at least a notebook to write down her lessons?”

“But... you... er,” Sweetie looked at her mentor in confusion, “My Twilight always said that scrolls were better and-”

“That’s... not important,” the purple unicorn interrupted, glaring at the others they snickered. “What is important is that between Rarity, Trixie, and us, we can enchant the notebook to be part of your magic... a summons of sorts.”

Trixie smiled. “I see what you mean. If we both provide the power, Rarity the finesse to enchant the gems and Sweetie ties her magic with them she could theoretically pull it out wherever she is.”

“Well, let us get to work then!” Rarity declared excitedly.


It was a much more tired group of unicorn mares that sat around the library watching as Sweetie Belle concentrated her magic, making her notebook disappear and reappear again on command.

“Well, hopefully that should work,” Twilight said.

“Are you ready to go?” Trixie asked Sweetie Belle, who nodded before embracing the blue unicorn.

“Thank you for trusting me, teaching me and helping.”

“It was great, Sweetie. If you ever stop by again, don’t forget to visit,” Trixie said, returning the hug happily.

“Sis... thank you. And I’m sorry I made you worry.”

“Never mind that, Sweetie,” Rarity said with a dismissive wave of her hoof. “Water under the bridge. I love you, little sister, here and in any other world,” the white unicorn declared with a fond nuzzle.

“Thank you for saving me, Sweetie,” Twilight said with a smile. “I’m sorry I wasn’t around to teach you more about the Shield Spell.”

Sweetie chuckled. “It’s okay, Twilight,” the filly said, smiling. “Trixie helped me a lot, and I won’t disappoint my Twilight... I’ll keep studying!”

The little unicorn then turned to look at Spike, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, who had fallen asleep while the unicorns enchanted the notebook. “Tell them I’ll miss them, please...”

Turning her back on everypony so that she wouldn’t hesitate, the filly concentrated on the crystal, slowly drawing its magic into herself.

A bright, lavender light flooded her vision and then she was gone.


Rarity gasped and ran towards Sweetie Belle as the filly collapsed. “Sweetie? Sweetie, are you alright? I don’t think it worked...”

“Uhh...” the filly groaned, opening her eyes. “Sis?” She looked around. “Wha-what are we doing in the Library?”

The mares stepped back and stared.

Sweetie stared right back, face contorting in confusion. “Why are you all staring at me like that? Did my horn fall off or something?" She crossed her eyes as she tried to look up at her forehead. She gasped as a new possibility occurred to her. “Oh! Did my cutie mark appear?!” She snapped her head around to stare excitedly at her flank.

Still blank.



When Sweetie Belle opened her eyes and blinked, she sighed as she looked at the bookshelves in the library. “I guess that didn’t work.”


The filly blinked as she slowly turned around. The library was a mess. There were upturned couches, boardgames were strewn around, and Rainbow Dash was passed out on top of the table.

Sweetie could hear Pinkie Pie snoring noisily, but the filly could only see the pink earth pony’s flank sticking out of the kitchen door.

Fluttershy was giggling in her sleep, kicking out her legs sporadically as she dreamed, hooves barely missing the unknown white female pegasus sleeping beside her.

Applejack and Rarity were lying on the couch, also completely passed out. She could barely make out Spike’s body beneath the lamp cover he had on his head.

The strangest thing, however, was the swirling magical portal placed where one of the book-shelves was supposed to be.

The sound of hoofsteps coming from upstairs made the filly look up in time to see Twilight emerge from her room. The two unicorns, filly and mare, stared at each other.

“Twilight...” Sweetie stared. “Why are you wearing that belly dancer outfit?”

I...” The purple unicorn fell silent for a few seconds, blinking as if she were imagining things. “Uh... do I know you?”


“Twiiiliiight!” a sultry voice called out, making both unicorns look towards the magical portal.

Sweetie couldn't decide whether to scream or run away, the filly’s body freezing up as Nightmare Moon stepped halfway out of it. “You’re late for work, my assistant!”

“Sorry!” Twilight replied nervously, visibly daunted by the dark alicorn.

Sweetie settled on screaming.

o.0.o End Chapter 1 o.0.o

We would love to read your thoughts on the story, if you think it could be better don’t just give a low rating, let us know how we can do better. Comment!

Hello everypony, and welcome to the Sweetie Chronicles, an effort to crossover several stories we love and an experiment in storytelling. Trust me, that [Rollercoaster] tag will be relevant as I do my best to do justice to the amazing places Sweetie Belle will be visiting. There will be action, but there will also be drama and comedy, there will be sad parts, and random parts. I will visit many worlds that I have found inspiring in many ways, and I hope you all will go there with me.

As always, thanks to my editors and friends, Trevor and understatedHyperbole, who have been very helpful and incredibly supportive.

Also, many thanks to Cardslafter for pre-reading and support!

Another thanks goes to GanonFLCL for letting me play with his world... if you haven’t read Of Mares and Magic, follow the link at the beginning, and enjoy!

Next: Nightmares Don’t Last Forever

Thank you for reading, and please leave a comment!


The square root of rope is string. Ponies can survive underwater - but not for very long. Hope you enjoyed the madness that has and will ensue in this and the following chapters! ~ Magical Trevor, Minstrel of Equestria

Editors & Proof-Readers: Understated Hyperbole, Trevor, Cardslafter, Fifth Alicorn


“Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!” Sweetie Belle kept screaming in panic, unable to move as Nightmare Moon herself entered the library. Never before had she been so scared. Not even being almost eaten by a werewolf invoked the deep-rooted fear that the alicorn before her inspired. She was suddenly reminded of the manic laughter of the Nightmare as she had somehow taken Celestia away during the Summer Sun Celebration.

“Well, you do seem to know how to impress ponies,” Twilight stated as she came all the way down the stairs to stand in front of the Nightmare.


“Well, I do have quite the presence,” the alicorn chuckled. “You look good, Twilight. I thought you hated wearing that.”

“I do,” Twilight growled. “Hate it, I mean,” she added when she saw Nightmare Moon begin to smile. “I’m only wearing it because it’s your birthday and you begged me to wear it.”


The alicorn chuckled and punched the unicorn on the shoulder playfully. “Oh, Twilight, you say the kindest things.”

Twilight glared at the alicorn. “It’s not your birthday, is it?”

Nightmare Moon raised her eyebrows in fake surprise. “Whatever gave you that idea?”


Both ponies looked at Sweetie as she continued screaming.

“So, what’s her problem?” Nightmare Moon finally asked.

“Apparently she’s scared of you,” Twilight replied.

“But... really? That much screaming? Isn’t it... too much?”


The alicorn and purple unicorn blinked as a pony-sized cushion knocked the filly over, interrupting her scream.

“Sweetie Belle!” Rarity groaned as her horn stopped glowing. “What do you think you’re doing?! Haven’t I told you not to scream like that?”

“Ugh... mah head...” Applejack groaned, blinking heavily as she slowly raised her head from Rarity’s mane.

Fluttershy twitched, and slowly opened her eyes, wincing under the light. “Oh... oh my...” She blushed. “I think I drank too much... again.”

The white pegasus next to her blinked and opened her eyes, yawning cutely. “Sis!” She happily jumped to her hooves and trotted up to Nightmare Moon.

Pinkie groaned and dragged the rest of her body into the kitchen. Spike, for his part, kept snoring as Rainbow Dash turned over and fell off the table with a dull thump.

Sweetie pushed the cushion off of her and stared as the group groggily got up and proceeded to discuss the last night as if Nightmare Moon was not there... unless...

“Is this a Nightmare Night prank, Princess Luna?” she asked the alicorn, whose eyes widened.

“Sweetie Belle!” Rarity gasped then frowned, “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be at home?”

“Oh, so this is your sister!” Twilight said with a smile. “I was wondering who she was and why she was here,” she said, looking down at the filly. “Hi! My name is Twilight Sparkle!” she continued, then frowned. “Although you already seemed to know that.”

“Twilight...” Sweetie said without taking her eyes of the alicorn, who was watching her intently. “Why is Princess Lun-”


“Ahem,” the alicorn interrupted. “I’m afraid you have it wrong, my little pony. I am Nightmare Moon... ruler of Equestria!”

“Oh.” Sweetie considered her options. The pillow that Rarity had thrown at her slowly levitated off the floor and then smashed into Nightmare Moon’s face. “Quick, everypony! Run! I’ll protect you!” Sweetie shouted, horn glowing again as a couple more pillows were pulled into the air.

The pillow slid down from Nightmare Moon’s face as she gave an amused look at the filly. The look turned into a frown when another pillow smacked her in the face.

“What are you waiting for?” Sweetie called. “Sis, run! Twilight, if we cast the shield spell we can hold her back!”

“Shield spell?” Twilight blinked as she turned to look at the flabbergasted Rarity. “Your little sister knows how to cast the Shield spell? Why isn’t she in Canterlot studying magic?”

“Now, Sweetie, hold on just a second...” Nightmare Moon said before another pillow found its place embedded on her horn.

“I-” Rarity blinked. “I have no idea how she’s doing it!”

“Why are you still here?!” Sweetie asked, turning to look at the group as her control of the pillows faltered.

“If we’re done with that-” Nightmare Moon started to say, only to be interrupted by another pillow to the face. The alicorn turned to glare at Pinkie Pie, who gave her a wide smile from within a pillow fort she had somehow constructed while they were distracted. “Oh... It. Is. On!”

Rarity dodged the flying pillows as she made her way to her sister. “Sweetie, let’s get going.”

        “Sunny!” Nightmare Moon roared as several pillows around her floated threateningly. “How dare you join Pinkie Pie’s side! Once I win this fight you will be grounded and spend the next thousand years in your room at the castle, you hear me?”

“But...” Sweetie Belle’s horn glowed as she sent another pillow flying. “Nightmare Moon! We have to stop her!”

The older unicorn just sighed and ushered her sister out. “They’ll be fine.” Once they were outside, Rarity looked up with a frown. “I just hope they finish their pillow fight soon so that Nightmare Moon can raise the sun.”

Sweetie blinked. “Huh? Buh- but, come on, sis! This is serious!” She looked at her sister doubtfully. “Isn’t it?”

“Okay, that’s enough, Sweetie, you’re starting to sound like Twilight,” Rarity chided. Then, when she saw the small frown in the filly’s face, clarified, “The purple unicorn.”

“I know who Twilight is!”

Rarity sighed. “Of course dear, I just... I’m still tired. Now, let’s take you home.”

The two walked in silence for a few minutes until...

“Sweetie, I may be... a bit under the weather, but... did you just levitate and throw pillows around?”


As they walked away from the library, Sweetie’s eyes were glued to the ground.

So I didn’t make it home... back there Nightmare Moon was stopped by sis and the others... even in that strange world where Trixie and Twilight were together, Nightmare Moon was gone! What am I going to do? Why isn’t everypony more worried about this?

To Sweetie Belle’s surprise, the sun eventually made its way up into the sky. “I thought Nightmare Moon wanted eternal night?”


Rarity glanced tiredly at her. “No, I think the only thing she really wants is Twilight...” She sighed. “Ever since we tried to use the Elements of Harmony on Nightmare Moon and failed, everything has been such a rush... with Twilight suddenly becoming Nightmare Moon’s slave and Celestia being...” Rarity stopped, looking around, “... indisposed... everything is very confusing. It might be easier if Nightmare Moon had been a tyrant- but no, we get a prankster...”

That made the filly stop. “What?”

What does Nightmare Moon want with Twilight? It can’t be good! Oooh, I should find the piece of Twilight in this world, but can I just do it and not help her defeat Nightmare Moon? What would my Twilight want me to do?

The older unicorn yawned as she herded her sister into the boutique, and looked longingly at the stairs that led to her room. “I know you just met Twilight, Sweetie, so you don’t know... she’s Nightmare Moon’s personal slave...”


Rarity held her hoof against her head. “Could you please not yell? Listen, Sweetie, why don’t you go play around town; maybe find that pegasus friend of yours, just don’t get into trouble, okay?”


“Go on, Sweetie. Big sis needs some more sleep.”

As she was ushered out the door, Sweetie rolled her eyes. “Fine.”

The cool morning air welcomed her into its embrace once more as she pondered what to do.

Nightmare Moon has turned Twilight into her slave! She makes her dress like a belly dancer! Does that mean that she defeated Princess Celestia? What am I going to do? Should I tell them about... the accident? But, how will they treat me if I do? Will sis still think I am her sister? Or maybe she will be scared of me! I don’t have Trixie here to explain... I’m... alone... She sighed, but her thoughts were interrupted by a familiar filly walking past Carousel Boutique.

“Apple Bloom!” she called, running up to meet her friend. Well, maybe not completely alone.

The earth pony stopped and looked at her, confused. "Sweetie Belle, right? Rarity's sister?"

What? But... oh... right. I’m the other world thing. Sweetie face-hoofed, then looked at her would-be-friend. “Uh... right! And you’re Applejack’s sister, right?”

“That’s me!” Apple Bloom said with a proud nod. “Ah’m lookin’ for her right now; she’s s’posed ta be back on the farm buckin’ apples you see...”

A plan started to form in Sweetie’s mind. “Hey, I know where Applejack is right now... want to hang out after we get her?”

Apple Bloom blinked. “Uh, sure.”

“Great!” Sweetie grinned as she motioned for the earth pony to follow her. “I’ll introduce you to another friend, and then...”

“... and then?”

“We’ll rescue Twilight!”



“So, let me get this straight,” Scootaloo said, looking at Sweetie Belle as if the unicorn had grown another horn. “You want the three of us,” her hoof went around encompassing them, “To take on The Nightmare Moon in order to free this Twilight Sparkle, who you just met this morning.”

Sweetie nodded excitedly.

“Ah met her a couple of days ago!” Apple Bloom supplied.

“Right...” Scootaloo gave the earth pony an odd look. “So you really want to do this, even after Nightmare Moon defeated Princess Celestia,” the pegasus pressed.

“Eeyup!” Sweetie smiled, ignoring the odd look Apple Bloom gave her in turn.

“Sweetie, I hate to break it to you, but we can’t do this!” Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “This is nuts! Besides,” she glared at the unicorn, “Since when do you want to go on crazy adventures? You’re usually the one telling me to not do this sort of stuff!”

The unicorn’s smile faded. “But... but,” she stammered. “Think about our cutie-marks!”

Apple Bloom blinked and looked at her flank. “We don’t have cutie-marks.”

“Exactly!” Sweetie said, nodding sagely. “Maybe we can get them by defeating Nightmare Moon!”

“That’s completely-” Scootaloo paused, eyes narrowing as she scratched her chin with her hoof. “You think that might work?”

“That would be really cool,” Apple Bloom added, eyes wide.

“So, what do you say? Cutie Mark Crusader Nightmare Vanquishers!”

“Yay!” the other two fillies joined, jumping up in excitement for a second before Scootaloo and Apple Bloom stopped.

“Cutie Mark Crusaders?” the earth pony asked.

Sweetie coughed. “Uh... ye-yeah! We’re trying to get our cutie marks, right?”

“You know...” the pegasus said thoughtfully. “It’s weird to say this, but... it sounds natural.”

The three looked at each other for a moment before wide grins were shared. “Cutie Mark Crusader Nightmare Vanquishers! Yay!”

The three ran in circles cheering, until Scootaloo suddenly stopped, which ended in the other two piling on top of her.

“Ouch! Get off! Get off!” she shouted.

“Why’d you stop?” Sweetie asked, as she rolled off to the side, making Apple Bloom slide over.

“Well, I was thinking... we need to plan this out,” Scootaloo said. “And we need a base!”

Sweetie blinked. “Well...” Her eyes widened. “There’s this filly pegasus called Sunny who lives at the castle, I think. Maybe she can help us find a hiding place there?”

“But... how can we get to the castle?” Apple Bloom asked.

“I saw Nightmare Moon come out of a magic door,” Sweetie provided, looking from one pony to the next. “I bet we can also use it to get to the castle!”

The three exchanged glances.

“We can do it!” Sweetie Belle insisted.

Finally Apple Bloom and Scootaloo both nodded. “Let’s go!”


Spike groaned as he dragged himself to the library door as the persistent knocks continued. “Hold your horses, I’m coming!” When the door opened, he was greeted by three grinning fillies. “Uh... can I help you?”

“Spike!” Sweetie said with a bright smile. “We need to get to the castle! Can you help us?”

The baby dragon looked at her, confused. “Buh- what? Castle?”

“Yeah... uh...” Apple Bloom, pointed towards the distance in direction of Canterlot. “Ya know, where Nightmare Moon is?”

“But... why in the name of Celestia’s mane would you want to go there?” the dragon asked.

“W-well.... I...” Sweetie hated to lie to Spike, but if they were going to save Twilight... “Twilight told me that I should apply to Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns?”

Spike gave her an unamused look, arching an eyebrow. “She did, huh? Do you know any magic?”

“Y-yes!” Sweetie nodded. “I know Levitation and Prestidigitation and Shield, and I was learning some illusion magic and...”

“Fine! Fine!” Spike sighed. “I can tell a bookworm when I see one, especially after living with Twilight,” he muttered before peering around Sweetie at the other two fillies. “But what about you two?”

“Uh...” Scootaloo shifted nervously. “Moral... support?”

Apple Bloom nodded quickly.

Spike rolled his eyes as he stepped back, opening the door all the way. “Come on in.”

The three fillies made their way into the library. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo looked almost horrified at the sheer amount of books in there. “This reminds me of school...” she whispered.

“Spike? Could we also talk to Sunny?” Sweetie asked. “She knows the castle and where we have to go...”

Spike blinked, “Sure. I’ll go get her. You three stay here in the meantime, okay?”

The three fillies nodded as the dragon went up the stairs. Once he was out of sight they all released a deep breath.


“It... it worked!” Apple Bloom said in awe.

“I can’t believe you convinced him you knew magic!” Scootaloo added, turning to look at Sweetie with a huge grin. “That was awesome! Levitation and Presti-whatever! Ha! Classic!”

“But-” Sweetie raised a hoof.

“You mean you don’t really know magic?” Apple Bloom blinked. “Ah believed you when you said all them fancy words! You should be an actress, Sweetie.”

“But-” the unicorn filly tried again, only to be interrupted this time by Spike as he jumped down the stairs.

“Aha! I knew it!” the little dragon accused walking towards them, brows furrowed. “You almost got me, but there’s no way Twilight would tell you that without telling me about it! Besides, we arrived a few days ago and-”

“I do know magic!” Sweetie interrupted. “Look!” she levitated a couple of books off the shelf and then floated them up to the table. “See? I can do magic!”

“How the hay did you do that?!” Scootaloo asked, surprised. “I’ve never seen you do anything like that!”

Spike glanced at Sweetie with a raised eyebrow. “Moral support, huh?”

The unicorn filly cringed.

“Well?” Scootaloo pressed her face against the unicorn’s. “When did you learn to do that?”


“Spike, are they the ones looking for me?” A voice interrupted them. They all looked towards the upstairs room as a white pegasus with a sun cutie-mark and a gem on her forehead asked walked down the stairs, stifling a yawn.

“Prin- I mean, Sunny!” Spike smiled nervously. “Yes, that’s them.”

“Oh... hi!” Sweetie smiled nervously as she walked around Scootaloo, who frowned but held her tongue.

“I recognize you,” Sunny realized after looking at the unicorn filly for a few seconds. “You’re Rarity’s sister... Sweetie Belle, right?”

“Rarity is your sister?” Spike gasped as he grew dreamy-eyed. “No wonder you know magic... with a sister so perfect-”

“Yeah, well...” Apple Bloom looked at Sunny. “We was wonderin’ if you could give us a tour of the Castle?”

 “Huzzah! At last! New friends!” she exclaimed giddily. “Sis will be so proud!”

The three fillies looked at each other. “Um, sure!” Sweetie hastily reassured the pegasus. “We’d be happy to be your friends!

“Well! Let’s get going!” Sunny giggled, a spring in her step as she trotted towards the now-hidden portal. “I’m sure sis would love to meet you!”


“So, she lives in the Castle,” Scootaloo said in a sing-song voice that vaguely resembled Sweetie Belle’s. “She can help us get a place to hide and plan there! Why, she’s the best pony that we could ask for help! She looks really nice!” She hissed at Sweetie, who winced. “Oh, and she’s also freaking Nightmare Moon’s sister!”

The unicorn filly winced as she and Apple Bloom watched apprehensively as the white pegasus nuzzled the dark Queen of Equestria. Next to the queen, Twilight Sparkle stood, this time without her belly-dancer costume, looking at them with confusion and something akin to panic.

“Ah’m not sure comin’ here was a good idea...” Apple Bloom noted.

“Sis! I made new friends!” Sunny said excitedly. “This is Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle.”

“Welcome to Canterlot, my little-” Nightmare Moon’s eyes narrowed as she recognized Sweetie. “You.”

The unicorn filly gulped, but then took a deep breath, “Nightmare Moon!” she challenged, “I am here to save Twilight Sparkle!”

Twilight started coughing, looking at the filly in disbelief.

The Nightmare’s eyes widened as she suddenly grabbed the purple unicorn with a foreleg and cuddled up to her. “No! You cannot take her! She’s mine!”

“She is not!”

“Is too!”

“Is not!”

“Is too!”

“Is not!”

“Is not!”

“Is too!” Sweetie blinked when she saw Nightmare Moon smile. “Heeeey!”

The trio of fillies watched as the Nightmare nuzzled Twilight affectionately, a hoof tracing its way up and down the purple unicorn’s horn. “She’s mine, and she likes it...” She grinned at the flushing purple unicorn. “Don’t you, slave?”

“I... I-” Twilight trembled, her blush deepening as her embarrassment grew.

“Don’t surrender, Twilight!” Sweetie shouted. “I’ll save you!”

“Ni- Niiii- Nightmare Moon!” Twilight gasped as she pushed back the queen. “They’re just fillies! They shouldn’t be seeing this!”

The queen pouted. “But Twilight, you know you like it...”

“Sis, is it okay if they stay here for a little while?” Sunny asked, blissfully unaware of the teasing and embarrassment. “They really wanted to see the castle...”

Nightmare Moon stopped trying to catch Twilight and looked down at the three fillies. “So you would condemn your lives to the misery of living in these empty halls, alone, save for each other, my sister Sunny, and the occasional visit from your family?”

Apple Bloom opened her mouth to inform the black alicorn that she was, in fact, not interested in doing that at all... but found that she could not speak at all. She blinked, starting to panic.

The Nightmare smiled. “Excellent! You will then stay at the Castle!”

“But-” Apple Bloom blinked. “Hey, I can speak again!”

“Oh, and I heard Sweetie Belle say that she wanted to study at my school for gifted unicorns!” Sunny provided helpfully.

Both the alicorn and Twilight turned to look at Sweetie with raised eyebrows. “Reeeeeally?” Nightmare Moon grinned.

“Um... I...” Sweetie stammered, looking around worriedly.

“Why, yes!” The white pegasus beamed down at the unicorn, “She even said that Twilight suggested she try out!”

“I did?” Twilight blinked. “I must’ve been drunk...”

“Hey, I’m pretty good!” Sweetie complained.

“I remember you attacking me with a pillow this morning...” Nightmare Moon remarked. “That means that you do have some magical skills, but enough for the School for Gifted Unicorns?”

“I was trained by the best!” Sweetie stomped the floor with her hoof. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo suddenly grabbed her and shoved an apple into her mouth.

“If you'll excuse us fer jus' a moment, yer highness...” the apple farmer filly quickly said as the pair dragged Sweetie to a corner of the room.

“Are you crazy?!” Scootaloo asked, glaring at the unicorn. “What the hay are you thinking?!”

“You’re provo- pro- gettin’ into a fight with Nightmare Moon!” Apple Bloom said. “This ain’t part of the plan!”

Sweetie cringed. “But...”


“No ‘buts,’ Sweetie!” The pegasus said. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but you can’t just go to the castle and start a fight with Nightmare Moon!”

“You mean she’s not usually like this?” Nightmare Moon asked.

“No!” Scootaloo said, annoyed. “All of a sudden she wants to be the stallion in shining armor that wants to save... the captured... unicorn....” Her words slowly died as she looked to her right... and into the slitted eyes of Nightmare Moon herself.

“AAAAAAAaah!” The pegasus jumped onto Apple Bloom’s forehooves, who stumbled, screaming in fright, and jumped, still carrying Scootaloo, on top of Sweetie Belle.

As the trio collapsed, Nightmare Moon laughed. “Priceless! I almost didn’t do it; I mean, I could hear you all the way to the throne, but I thought ‘Will they notice me? Oh, of course they would,’ but then I came over here and you didn't!” She pounded her hoof on the floor, trying to quell her mirth. “The looks on your faces!”

“Why, you...” Scootaloo glared at the Nightmare. “Now it’s personal!”

“Good,” Nightmare Moon said. “Since you’ll be staying here, I expect you to provide enough entertainment-”

“Wait, wait!” Twilight interrupted. “We can’t simply keep them here!” She looked straight at Nightmare Moon. “As much... entertaining... as they might be, their families will miss them!”

“But Twilight,” Nightmare Moon whined. “I’m the Evil Queen of Equestria! Can I keep one of them? Pleeeease?”


“Pretty please? With me on top? And sugar? And honey? And anything else sweet that you might like?”

“No!” Twilight repeated firmly. “They cannot stay and that’s final.”

Nightmare Moon sighed and looked at Sunny. “Sorry, Sunny, I guess you won’t be able to have that sleep-over you wanted. Twilight doesn’t want you to have friends over.”

“What? But-”

“Twilight stopped, feeling cold sweat run down her side when she heard the whimper. Slowly, she turned to look at the white pegasus, who was slumped on the floor next to the throne, looking at her in misery, tears welling up in her innocent eyes... Twilight knew that it was her fault, that Sunny’s unhappiness was a direct result of her lack of compassion and-”

“Stop that,” Twilight growled, putting a hoof over Nightmare Moon’s mouth and ceasing the alicorn’s alarmingly accurate narration of her thoughts.

“Can they stay one night, Twilight? Please?” Sunny pleaded. “I promise we’ll be good!”

“Yeah,” Scootaloo said, glaring at the smirking Nightmare. “I wouldn’t mind staying a night at the castle.”

Apple Bloom shook her head as she also gave an evil look at the black alicorn. “Ah don’t mind stayin’ either, as long as mah sister is okay with it.”

They all looked at Twilight, who sighed, lowering her head in defeat. “Fine. I’ll go ask your sisters.”

“Yay!” Four voices echoed in the throne room, with a less enthusiastic Apple Bloom smiling uncomfortably.

When they settled down, Nightmare Moon turned to her sister. “Sunny, show your friends around the castle in the meantime. I have to arrange Sweetie’s test.”

“You’re really doing it?” Twilight gasped.

The alicorn just smiled.


“Twilight, Ah know that the- that Nightmare Moon and you have a... special... kind of relationship, but Ah can’t believe you’re askin’ me to let Apple Bloom stay the night over with her!”

“I have to agree, dear,” Rarity said with a grimace. “Sweetie was acting strange enough today, and I fear that-”

“That’s not all...” Twilight closed her eyes. “She... Sweetie Belle is...”

“What? What is it?” Rarity asked, walking closer to the purple unicorn, worry evident in her eyes.

“Um... Sweetie is taking the test for Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns... today,” Twilight said.

“Oh no! That’s horrible! I-” Rarity stopped. “Are you serious?”

“Do I look like I’m joking?”

Rarity stared at Twilight, whose eyes shone with an unspeakable stress. Her mane was disheveled with little hairs sticking out in random directions. The strands around her horn seemed to be matted down, as if she had been rubbing a pillow on them or...

The fashionista coughed into her hoof. “Uh, no dear, you look like you were having... fun... and it was interrupted.”


“Not that there’s anything wrong with that, Twilight, but I hope that my sister didn’t-”

“Nothing happened!” Twilight growled as her coat started smoldering and turning white.

“We believe you, sugarcube,” Applejack hastily interjected, giving Rarity a look. “Now, what was this about a test?”

Twilight took a deep, shuddering breath and let it out slowly. “Sweetie convinced Nightmare Moon that she was ready for to try out for Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns and-”

“But, darling... Sweetie cannot cast a single spell,” Rarity pointed out.

“Well, this morning she was levitating and flinging pillows like a pro,” Twilight said. “And she claims to know at least two other spells and some illusion magic.”

“But, I haven’t taught her anything, and the Ponyville school doesn’t teach magic to young unicorns!” Rarity insisted.

Twilight shrugged. “Well, that’s what’s happening. She’ll be taking her test in a couple of hours. We could go watch her if you want.”

“But of course!” Rarity said. “What kind of sister... wait, we would go to Canterlot!”

“Well, yes, the School is in-”

“Oh, Celestia! What am I doing here? Two hours you said? Well, I should get ready! And maybe make something for Sweetie! She needs to look good for her test, in front of all those noble ponies!” Her eyes glittered with a sudden memory. “Do you think that Prince Blueblood will be there?”

Twilight frowned thoughtfully. “Blueblood usually stays away from any form of education or source of knowledge. So, I sincerely doubt it.”

Rarity looked downcast for the barest of seconds. “Oh well, I still need to get ready. See you at the library then!” With that, she cantered away.

The purple unicorn sighed. “Well, time to find Scootaloo’s parents.”


“Do you understand what I am asking of you?” Nightmare Moon’s eyes glowed with inner power as she looked down upon the cowering forms of the board of trustees at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.

“Bu-but... your- your Highness...” a grey unicorn stammered. “What you’re asking for... it... it doesn’t exist!”

“Aaand?” Nightmare Moon leaned closer, her long mane waving like a malevolent aura all around them.

“Aaaaand... we’ll get it done!” the unicorn squeaked.

“Good!” the alicorn said, leaning back. “Have it ready in two hours.”

“T-t-t... two hours?” the unicorn coughed, unable to fully express his shock. The wide eyes of the others was enough to bring a smile to Nightmare Moon.

“If you don’t have it ready... there will be consequences.” With a megalomaniacal laugh, Nightmare Moon turned into mist and flew out of the window.

The unicorns looked at each other in shock.

“How are we going to do this?” an elder, yellow coated unicorn asked the others. “This is...”

“We have to,” a blue male unicorn said with a sigh, “We have no choice. If we fail... the school would have nopony to repair whatever damage that monster might attempt against our students.”

“I...” A cream coated mare coughed. “I might have an idea...”


Rarity and Applejack followed Twilight through the halls of Canterlot Castle and out into the gardens. Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns was right next to the castle, since Celestia herself would sometimes teach and monitor promising students, as well as mentor a select few unicorns besides her faithful student.

“Well, this place here sure is pretty,” Applejack commented, looking around the grounds. “Pretty empty, that is! Where is everypony?”

“Well, since Nightmare Moon came back, most of the nobles left the castle,” Twilight explained.

“How awful!” Rarity sighed.

“Well, to be fair, we have managed to do more work for the good of ponykind since they went away than ever before-” Twilight elaborated.

“There she is!” Rarity beamed as she spotted her sister walking with Sunny, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo. “Sweetie Belle!” She waved with a hoof to get her sister’s attention.

“Sis!” Apple Bloom called as she ran up to Applejack. “Sunny just showed us the kitchens! They’re huge! Granny Smith would love ‘em!”

“Yeah!” Scootaloo grinned, “The kitchen was great, and I can’t wait for dinner tonight!”

“You should have seen Scootaloo’s face, Twilight!” Sunny declared. “Her eyes went really big and she started running around and grabbing stuff and-”

The purple unicorn chuckled. “As long as nothing was broken, it’s fine. I’m glad you four are having such a good time.”

Rarity stepped forth to hug Sweetie. “I am so proud of you!” She gushed, “I can’t believe you’ve learned magic so early! You must tell me who taught you.”

Twilight caught the filly sneaking a glance at her for just a second. But Sweetie’s attention was back to her sister as a blue and white cape slowly draped around the filly’s form. “Sis... what-”

“You must look good for your test, Sweetie! Remember, It's the first impression that...”

“... will either open the door or close it.” Sweetie finished.

“Exactly!” Rarity smiled, stepping back to take a look at the filly and carefully arranging the cape until it was perfect. “So, you were saying, darlin’?”

“Um, her name was Trixie,” Sweetie said with a twinge of guilt. Well it’s not really lying... “She’s a showmare who has travelled all over Equestria.”

“Oh...” Rarity blinked. “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of her.”

“Don’t worry,” Sweetie said absently, looking at the school nervously. “You will.”

“Are you ready for your test, Sweetie?” Twilight asked.

“Um... no?”

“Well...” the unicorn coughed. "I can't guarantee that you'll pass, but if you remember to smile and look confident, I guarantee you'll make a good first impression,” the purple mare advised with a wise nod of her head.

“Will they make me hatch an egg?” Sweetie asked.

Twilight blinked. “How did you...” She looked at Sunny hopefully. “Did you tell her, Sunny?”

The pegasus looked surprised. “No... I didn’t know what the test was...”

“Oh...” Twilight sighed, but her mind was working furiously. How did she know?

“Well, it’s time!” Nightmare Moon said, inserting her head between Rarity and Twilight.

“Yes indeed-WahaHAha?!” Rarity jumped, her dress fluttering in the wind until she landed on top of Applejack who gave her a half-amused, half-annoyed glance, while everypony else worriedly stepped back from the queen’s sudden appearance.

“You keep landin’ on top of me Rarity, and Ah might think yer lookin’ for something else!”

“Th-that’s nonsense!” Rarity stammered as she turned to glare at the black alicorn. “Don’t do that!”

“I’m the Queen. I do what I like,” Nightmare Moon grinned. “Now, let’s go, Sweetie!”


The room was a dull gray with the biggest chalkboard Sweetie had ever seen on the wall behind her. She faced the rest of the study hall, idly wondering if Miss Cheerilee ever felt so nervous in front of classroom. Of course, Sweetie was only facing a class of four unicorns, but it didn't help matters that all four were older and staring at her rather intently.

She looked nervously towards Twilight and Rarity, both of whom smiled widely and pointed at their mouths.

The filly struggled to bring a small smile out, and was rewarded by the board immediately taking notes.

A brown stallion walked into the room dragging a cart, in the middle of which a large egg of the utmost black rested.

“Well, Miss Belle,” one of the unicorns spoke, although she couldn’t know which one it was, since her eyes were glued to the egg. “It says here that you are the student of... Trixie.” There was a pause. “Are we talking about the ‘Great and Powerful’ Trixie by any chance?”

Sweetie looked at them. “Uh, yes. That’s her.”

Fast scribbling.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie?” Twilight wondered aloud. “Never heard of her, but she sounds like an interesting unicorn based on the title alone...”

“Miss Belle, to be admitted into the school you need to hatch the egg in front of you using magic you know. Please, go ahead. Whenever you are ready.”

Sweetie gulped. I have no idea how to do this! What am I going to do?! She started hyperventilating. We never covered this in Twilight’s class! I don’t have a sonic rainboom to help me! A quick look at her mentor’s counterpart helped calm her down a bit. Well... if I don’t try, I won’t know...

How should I start? Maybe try to levitate half of it? Her horn blazed and the egg’s top part started glowing. Carefully pulling, she started the process of what would hopefully hatch the egg and-

“Why is the egg stretching like that?” Rarity whispered to Twilight, who was looking at the black egg in complete befuddlement.

“... I- that- why...” the purple unicorn stammered, her eyes widening as the lower half of the egg remained in place, but the upper part slowly stretched farther as if the egg was made of bubblegum.

Nightmare Moon turned her head away and shook silently, drawing Twilight’s attention to her. The purple unicorn raised an eyebrow, but chose to remain quiet.

Sweetie opened her eyes and gasped, releasing her control of the egg, which immediately reformed into its original shape. “Wha- what!?” She squeaked out before glancing at the board of instructors as they wrote more notes.

Calm down Sweetie! You can do it! She focused on the egg once more and slowly a visible aura formed around the egg as she concentrated even more.

The silence in the room stretched for a couple of minutes until a cough from one of the unicorns broke it.

“Miss Belle, while a continuous use of Prestidigitation as a warming spell would indeed hatch an egg eventually, we don’t have months to wait nor you the stamina to sustain it that long... however, I have to commend you, since you are the first unicorn ever to think of anything remotely similar to natural hatching... But I am afraid that still doesn’t mean you pass.”

“Oh...” Sweetie pouted.

Next to Twilight, Nightmare Moon could barely contain her laughter, drawing the attention of Celestia’s student.

“You... you had something to do with this!” She said, raising her voice and calling everypony’s attention to the Nightmare. “You’re-” Twilight’s eyes flashed in anger. “You’re cheating!”

Nightmare Moon smirked. “Now, dear Twilight, I just thought that such a smart filly would need a better challenge than a boring old dragon egg.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, I asked them to give her an ink-dragon egg,” Nightmare Moon smiled.

“You... what... I can’t... no...” Twilight started to smoke as her anger increased.

“Wow!” Sweetie Belle looked at the egg in awe. “An ink-dragon! I’ve never even heard of one of those before!”

“Now, Sweetie, that’s because-”

“Miss Sparkle,” one of the unicorns coughed. “If you’re quite done, Miss Belle has one more try, and we all have work to do.”

Think, Sweetie, think! The unicorn filly looked around for inspiration. Ink... ink...

“Ink!” she shouted suddenly, her eyes filling with hope.

That’s it! It’s just like that time that I dropped the ink bottle in Miss Cheerilee’s class! I had to use some paper towels! But... where can I get some paper towels... or even just some paper?

“Um...” Sweetie looked at the unicorns sheepishly. “Could I have some paper please?”

“I don’t know what you have in mind, Miss Belle, but the test can only be completed with skills and spells you possess and can do by yourself. The only paper in this room is in our notebooks and we are using them.”

Sweetie sighed, frowning as she pawed the ground, thinking. “Well, there goes that idea...”

What else can I do? She thought. Levitation doesn’t work, Prestidigitation takes months, Shield wouldn’t help, and that spell Trixie taught me won’t work unless I can talk it into hatching... She sighed. I should really review it, maybe take some notes later on that notebook Rarity gave me in the other world... I really hope the summoning spell works here.

The unicorn filly sat down and stared despondently at the egg. “I- I give-”

Everypony held their breaths.

“I- notebook!” Sweetie screeched, making the surrounding ponies jump in surprise.

“Yes, the notebooks are the only sources of paper here, so-”

“Not yours! Mine!” Sweetie said with a big smile as her horn shone with magic again. Slowly, to the surprised eyes of the gathered ponies, the space in the air just in front of Sweetie seemed to open, and an object slowly floated out.

“An Inter-Dimensional Pocket? A filly her age?! Impossible!” one of the unicorns shouted in surprise, dropping his own notebook and pen as the pocket closed up.

Ignoring everypony’s gaping stares, Sweetie opened her notebook and approached the egg. “Okay... all I have to do is get the top off the egg..."  she slowly started pressing the open notebook on top of the egg. Everypony watched in awe as the top was slowly absorbed into the paper.

“That’s-” Nightmare Moon’s eyes were wide. “That’s cheating!”

“So is having the board create an egg for a dragon that doesn’t exist!” Twilight growled.

Still concentrating, Sweetie slowly lowered the notebook until-


“Ah!” Sweetie jumped back in surprise, losing her concentration on the notebook. The gem-studded booklet fell straight down, splashing the ink in all directions, splattering her face and her cape.

“No!” Sweetie yelled, running up to the egg while the unicorns exchanged worried glances.

“Why did you do that?!” Twilight rounded up on Nightmare Moon.

The alicorn rubbed her nose with her hoof. “I’m sorry! I really didn’t mean to.”


“Uh... this exam is concluded,” one of the unicorns said shakily.

The group watched the unicorns get up and slowly walk out of the door, casting uneasy glances at the ink in the floor.

Sweetie sniffed. With a flash of magic her notebook was gone. “... I failed.”

“It’s okay, Sweetie,” Rarity said, carefully stepping around the ink. “I think I can still remove the ink from it...” She sighed, then gave her sister an encouraging smile.  “You did your best, and I have to say, I am very, very proud of you!”

The filly looked at her sister with big wet eyes. “Really?”

The fashionista nodded, “Really! I never thought you knew so much magic! I’m so proud!”

“It was impressive,” Twilight added. “And don’t worry, you really impressed them. I’m sure next time you take the test you’ll get in; you’re still very young... and although I never heard of anypony breaking the egg, it was nothing more than a fake egg .”

Sweetie slowly smiled, “Thanks, sis! Thanks, Twilight...”

She was suddenly hugged by two other fillies. “That was super awesome, Sweetie!” Scootaloo said. “You have to tell me when you learned all that!”

“Ah never seen anythin’ like it!” Apple Bloom nodded.

A loud growl made them all cringe. The group turned to look at Nightmare Moon, who had the decency to blush. “What? All of this made me hungry! We should eat!” she said, starting towards the door.

Sweetie nodded and followed the group, but not before looking back at the ink spots on the floor. “I’m sorry... even if you weren’t a real egg.”


“Oh, my!” Rarity gasped as they entered the large hall. It was tastefully decorated with banners depicting Nightmare Moon in various poses of unquestionable power. “This is amazing! Definitely what you would expect of Canterlot Castle!”

Nightmare Moon chuckled, “This is one of the smaller dining halls.”

Applejack’s eyes widened. “This is one of the smaller ones? Ah reckon you could fit half the entire Apple clan 'round that table!"

The wooden dining table had already been set by the time the group arrived. It could easily accommodate twice the amount of ponies, yet somehow all of it was covered with different dishes.

“Ah don’t rightly know if Ah can eat that much!”

“Don’t worry sis,” Apple Bloom patted her foreleg comfortingly. “Nopony expects you to; we’re supposed to only eat what we want.”

“Ah-” Applejack blushed as Rarity and Twilight chuckled. “Ah know that, Apple Bloom. Ah’m just sayin’ it’s a lot of food.”

“Oh, okay!” The filly smiled brightly. “Let’s eat!”

“Ah don’t see that many apples, though...” Applejack muttered, looking around the table.

“Applejack, darling,” Rarity shook her head. “There’s more to food than just apples!”

“Ah’m just sayin’, just sayin’...” the apple farmer shook her head, looking around the dainty decorations. The three different types of forks and spoons and knives and pincers and... she shuddered. It was like being back with the Oranges.

The four fillies, three mares and the incarnation-of-all-that-was-evil-in-ponydom sat down for dinner, with the black alicorn at the head of the table.

“Oh! Good! They made clover soup! That’s my favourite!” Nightmare Moon grinned.

“We were asked by Miss Scootaloo to prepare everypony’s favorite dish,” a pony in a chef’s coat and a toque said, walking towards the table. “For Miss Twilight, we have prepared a daisy salad with dried tart cherries and greens, with a hint of smoked almonds. I remember well the first time she ate it,” the chef chuckled as Twilight blushed. “For Miss Rarity, under Miss Belle’s advice, we have a wide selection of deli mushroom dishes, hoofpicked by myself and my assistant. Not too much of each, but all of them carefully prepared.” The fashionista blinked, shrinking into her seat as her stomach growled.

“Sounds like somepony’s really hungry!” Applejack smirked, patting Rarity. The unicorn just glared at her.

If anything, the chef looked pleased. He coughed, “For Miss Belle we have a daisy and clover sandwich with a side of fried potatoes.”

“Oh, I love daisy and clover sandwiches too!” Twilight exclaimed, smiling at the unicorn filly. “I have them all the time at the library!”

“Really?” Sweetie chuckled nervously, causing the purple unicorn to raise an eyebrow.

“Next, we have a hay milkshake and a carefully glazed portobello mushroom, with lettuce, dandelion and tomato sandwich with a single slice of bleu cheese made with multi-grain bread, toasted just to crispiness, along with a salad of greens, red-onion, chili, bleu crumbles, and nuts, tossed in the vinaigrette prepared personally by  Miss Scootaloo.”

Everypony at the table gaped at the furiously blushing pegasus.

“So that’s what you were doing when you disappeared on us!” Sunny gasped. “My! That sound delicious!”

“It is!” the chef nodded. “I wrote down the recipe, with Miss Scootaloo’s permission, of course.”

The pegasus seemed to shrink as everypony showered her in praise. “Just don’t tell Rainbow Dash! Cooking is not cool!”

“We have buttered spaghetti with fresh basil for Miss Sunny...” the chef continued, although he seemed amused by Scootaloo’s embarrassment of her cooking skills. “A plate of waffles with honey for Miss Bloom-”

“Apple Bloom!” Applejack turned to look at her sister. “What kind of lunch is that?”

The filly blushed. “But I love waffles!”

“... and finally, under Miss Bloom’s recommendation, we have an apple-pecan stuffed cabbage with a cold pasta & apple salad as a side, and an apple variation of the crepe suzette for dessert, also courtesy of Miss Scootaloo...”

The pegasus hid under the table, face flushing a darker fuschia than her mane.

Applejack stared at all the apple dishes in front of her she had somehow missed spotting when they entered the room. Her mouth started watering, but she remembered her manners.

Rarity nodded appreciatively at the food and turned to face the chef, opening her mouth to convey her delight, when somepony else spoke.

“Why, this looks simply delightful, chef! My compliments to you, your assistant and of course, our little darlin’, Miss Scootaloo,” Applejack complimented, her own eyes widening at the words pouring out of her mouth and her involuntary shift in diction.

The table became very quiet. Applejack looked around nervously. “What? Ah said it looked delicious!”

“Buh-” Rarity stammered, her jaw hanging in a very unladylike expression. “Buh- but... you said...”

“Ah said it looked DELICIOUS!” The farm pony repeated, her tone slightly hysterical.

The others slowly turned to look at their plates.

“Well? What are we waiting for?” Nightmare Moon demanded. “Let’s eat!”

The chef pony bowed as he backed out of the hall, leaving them to their meal.

“Yeah!” Scootaloo seconded, taking a bite of her food. Her grin widened as the alicorn dug into her soup with gusto. “Enjoy, everypony!”

Following the example of both the pegasus and the alicorn, the rest of the group started eating. It was a few minutes before conversation started again.

“So, Sweetie, your performance in the test was very impressive,” Twilight complimented. “Had it been a normal Dragon egg, you might have been able to hatch it!”

Sweetie looked down at her plate sheepishly. “Thanks, but I tried all my spells...”

“Well, it was a very nice try, regardless,” Rarity assured. “This Trixie pony who taught you should be very proud to have you as a student.”

Sweetie’s eyes sneaked another peek at Twilight, but when she saw the unicorn looking at her, she quickly returned her focus to the plate in front of her. “Ye- yeah...”

“To think, my little sister might be attending Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns!” Rarity gushed. “This is amazing! I really hope she passes! Imagine how impressive it will be and-” She caught herself, adding, “I mean, whatever happens Sweetie, you’ll always make me proud.”

“Ah’m very impressed too!” Applejack said after a few more bites of her salad. “Now, if I could get Apple Bloom to dedicate herself to school like you do...”

“Hey! Ah study all the time,” Apple Bloom complained.

“Sure you do, sugarcube,” Applejack smirked. “That’s why Ah had that long talk with Cheerilee ‘bout your homework.”

“That was just once! And she told you in a bar! It weren’t even official!”

The screeching of a chair being suddenly dragged on the floor drew everypony at the table’s attention to Nightmare Moon as the dark alicorn stood up, a rather uncomfortable grimace on her dark features.

“I have to go. Now,” the alicorn said, turning around and galloping out of the dining hall.

“How rude!” Rarity said, looking at the door as it slammed behind the dark queen.

“I wonder what happened?” Twilight pondered as she stood up slowly. “All of you, please go ahead, I’ll be back shortly.”

The group remained silent until the purple unicorn had left the room. Then Scootaloo burst out laughing. The others stared at the pegasus until understanding dawned on them.


Twilight winced when the sudden scream tore through the halls of the castle. She hurried after the sound, knowing that whatever it was that could upset Nightmare Moon herself that much could not be good... or should that be bad? She got so confused lately.

She followed the angry mutters until she arrived at the... Royal Restrooms. Twilight blinked. “Uh... Nightmare Moon?”

“I can’t believe this!” The alicorn shouted from within. “WHO put cling wrap in the toilet seat!? HEADS WILL ROLL!”

Twilight stood outside, paralyzed as she mouthed the words she had just heard. “... cling wrap...”

There was a blast of magic from within the restroom and the sound of scrambling hoofs. Twilight walked away slightly so she didn’t have to hear more. After a few minutes waiting, Nightmare Moon made her way out on shaky legs. She was sweating.

“Somepony is going to pay for this...”

Twilight noticed that the dark queen was dragging a long piece of toilet paper on her left hindhoof, but chose to remain silent. “Who could have done it?” Twilight wondered aloud. “I doubt the head chef would-” her eyes widened.

The alicorn’s eyes narrowed. “Oh, this means war...” she took a couple of angry steps towards the dining hall, but then her eyes widened and she grimaced. “Slave. Make sure those three fillies stay the night with Sunny,” she blurted out before running back into the restroom..


Everypony’s attention focused on Twilight as she walked into the dining room. “Now, Scootaloo, that was a very mean thing to do-”

Twilight was interrupted as the whole table burst into laughter. Even Rarity, as hard as she tried to cover her mouth and keep some semblance of composure, was giggling madly.

The purple unicorn shook her head at the shockingly juvenile humor of her friends but then, as she thought about it, she also started giggling.

It was then that the door opened again, admitting a young pegasus guard into the hall. “Um, I am here for a Miss Scootaloo?” He questioned, looking around the room.

“Uh...” the filly in question raised a hoof. “That’s me!”

The guard blinked. “Oh, okay. I was asked by somepony named Rainbow Dash to escort you to receive flight training, but I don’t know if that’s-”

“YES!” Scootaloo shouted, jumping to the floor and rushing up to him. “Yes! YES! I can do it! I want to! If Rainbow Dash thinks it will help, I’m sure it will!”

“Well...” the guard still looked uncertain. “I do have to take you there, but-”

“Let’s go!” the pegasus filly shouted in excitement. “I wanna do this!”

“Oookay...” the guard said as the filly bounced around to him. “This way, please.”

The other ponies in the room watched silently as the pair of pegasi left.

“Did Dash even know we were coming here?” Applejack asked, “Or that Scootaloo was in the Castle?”

Everypony looked down at the remains of their food.

“... what happened?” Sweetie asked.

“A lesson,” Nightmare Moon said, as her misty form slowly materialized in the room, eyes narrowed. “We’ll see how she likes it!”


“So, are you gonna teach me to fly?”

“Uh... no.”

“Oh.” Scootaloo blinked, “Well, then, who is?”

“We call him Sergeant Smoking Crater.”

“His name is so cool!” The filly stopped. “Wait, why do you call him that?”

“Yeah, about that... welp, here we are kid.” The guard looked around as he stopped in front of a door. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Hey, if Rainbow Dash thinks this will help, I wouldn’t miss it!”

“If you say so, kid...” The pegasus knocked on the door. “Sir! I’ve brought the trainee! I’m sending her in!”

The pegasus opened the door and pushed the filly inside.

Scootaloo looked around the room; it had old guard helmets, spears, armor, a chart with different flight formations, a large poster of Princess Celestia pointing her hoof at the viewer which read “Equestria needs YOU!” in big white letters... and in the middle of it all stood a pegasus stallion taller and more heavily muscled than anypony the filly pegasus had ever seen... even more muscled than Big Macintosh. His flanks were covered in scars, his mane was cut short and already turning white with only a few strands of red remaining. His coat was gray, and his cutie mark was a log being broken in two by some sort of giant hammer. His steel-blue eyes squinted at the filly as a look of utter contempt and disgust crossed his face.

“This is what they send me?!” He smashed his hoof into the stone floor, sending chips of granite flying. “A waste of my time!” He pointed his hoof at Scootaloo. “You. You are not FIT to be here. You are not WORTHY of being here. YOU ARE NOTHING! WHY ARE YOU HERE?!”

The pegasus guard quickly closed the door behind him, trying to ignore the shouts.


“Good luck, kid,” the guard sighed as he walked away, the whole area resonating with the potent voice of the Royal Pegasi Unit’s Drill Sergeant.


“... you’re going to need it.”



Twilight, Applejack, Sunny and Apple Bloom watched as Rarity and Sweetie finished their goodbyes.

“Be sure to brush your teeth at least three times a day, okay, Sweetie?” Rarity said as she gave her sister a hug.

“Su-sure, sis. You really don’t want to stay? You and Applejack could-” The fashionista’s hoof softly pressed against her muzzle.

“Sorry, Sweetie, but we both have to work.” The unicorn sighed. “I’m sure you’ll be fine; if you need anything, just talk to Twilight.”

“You too, Apple Bloom!” Applejack said, patting her sister in the head. “Ah don’t want to come by tomorrow and find out you’ve misbehaved; you do the Apple family proud and mind your manners, y’hear?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“We already talked to Scootaloo’s parents, so she’s good for the night too,” Twilight told the fillies.

“Yay! This’ll be my very first sleepover!” Sunny bounced around the group.

The group of mares watched in amusement as the fillies all got excited and jumped around, celebrating with Sunny.

Applejack noticed that Twilight’s smile was a bit sad. “What’s wrong, sugarcube?”

The purple unicorn blinked. “Oh... nothing, I just... well, I never had a sleepover before either.”

“Aw, don’t worry Twilight!” Sweetie said, stopping her bouncing to pat her mentor’s interdimensional counterpart on the foreleg. “I’m sure you, Applejack and Rarity will someday have one! And it’ll be raining, and you’ll use that book about sleepovers and try to follow it exactly, and sis and Applejack will get into a fight, but a tree branch will fall in and you’ll all be friends again!”

“That’s...” Applejack blinked.

“...rather specific.” Rarity finished.

Twilight just looked at the filly, confused. “Okay?”

The sound of a flushing toilet announced the imminent return of Nightmare Moon.

“Well, we should go. Ah’ll see you tomorrow, Apple Bloom. Don’t ya’ll go causin’ a ruckus now, y’hear?”

“Enjoy your stay at the castle, darling!”

“Bye, girls!” Twilight smiled as the group watched the pair cross the portal. “I’ll see you later.”

“Ugh,” Nightmare Moon walked up to them. “What’s going on, slave?”

Twilight sighed. “It’s time to work. I think I have the list of petitioners for today...”

Nightmare Moon grimaced. “Do we have to?”

Twilight glared at the Queen. “Yes.”

The alicorn sighed. “Fine.”

The two mares walked away, leaving the fillies behind.

“We have to save Twilight!” Sweetie said, turning to look at the other two fillies. “Nightmare Moon must be stopped!”

“Oooh! I love playing ‘rescue the princess!’” Sunny clapped her hoofs together happily. “How are we doing it?”

“I, uh... don’t know...” Sweetie said, slumping a bit.

“Ah have an idea...”

When both Sweetie and Sunny turned to look at her,  Apple Bloom smiled. “We set a trap!”

“Yay!” Sunny cried, jumping up and down. “I love setting up traps! I think...” she tapped her chin with her hoof. “Something about it sounds familiar...”

Apple Bloom smiled. “Well, Ah’ll need some paper and pencil to show you girls proper...”

“Follow me!” Sunny cried, leading the other two away from the portal. “I have a bunch of paper and lots of pens!”

“What about Scootaloo?” Sweetie asked as she and Belle followed Sunny.

“She’ll be okay!” Sunny said. “I’ll tell the guards to take her to my room once she’s finished learning!”


Having gone three times over the list of things she would have to cover when she held court, Nightmare Moon and Twilight Sparkle made their way to the throne room.

Everything was in perfect order. Two guards stood at attention at the base of the stairs that led to the throne, and they could hear the ponies waiting outside the main doors.

“Okay,” Nightmare Moon growled. “Let’s make this quick.” She motioned for the guards to allow the first pony in as she sat down on her throne.


The sound of the rather undignified flatulation echoed in the throne room just as a monocled, top-hatted stallion took his first step into the lengthy room.

Everypony stared at Nightmare Moon in horror.

The monocle clattered to the floor, breaking in half as the stallion’s jaw almost hit the floor. The guards visibly forced themselves to look away and forward, as was their duty. Twilight Sparkle simply looked horrified and embarrassed.

Three distorted voices echoed around the the room, coming from everywhere and nowhere, making the guards snap to attention and the now monocle-less stallion to shiver.

“This was just the beginning, Nightmare Moon, unless you release Twilight Sparkle! If you don’t, you will suffer the consequences! You cannot stop us. You cannot find us. We are the Crusaders. We are legion.”

The ponies in the throne room stared around in awe. Who would be brave enough to challenge-

Suddenly they could hear giggles as something rustled behind the curtains where one of the no-longer-secret entrances to the throne room was.

“Oh, darn’ it! Ah can still hear it!”

“The spell’s still on?”

“Turn it off, turn it off!”


With a flash of blue energy the throne room doors slammed shut behind the now thoroughly bewildered petitioner and Nightmare Moon rose, followed by a wet, slurping sound as something inside the throne struggled to suck back air.

From the throne, floating in a blue aura of magic, emerged an industrial sized whoopee cushion. Nightmare Moon glared at everypony in the room. “NOPONY will hear of this. Am I clear? If anypony disobeys this order, I will hunt them down and banish them into the Sun!”

She glared around. “Is that clear!?”

“Yes, your majesty!” everypony but Twilight shouted immediately.

“Good,” Nightmare’s eyes narrowed as she looked at the shaking stallion. “Now, your requests. And make it fast... I have business to attend to.”


The three fillies ran away from the court, laughing.

“Did y’all see her face? That was amazin’!”

“Yeah!” Sweetie agreed before looking over at Sunny. “How’d you know about that secret entrance?”

“Well, I’m not sure...” the pegasus said. “I just remembered it was there...”

Sweetie stared at the pegasus, her mind flashing back to much earlier that morning.  

“Sis!” The white pegasus happily jumped to her feet and trotted up to Nightmare Moon.

Sweetie looked at the sun cutie mark

“She’s also freaking Nightmare Moon’s sister!”

The unicorn filly blinked. Could it be...

“Sis! I made new friends!”

No... it couldn’t be... could it?



Sweetie shifted nervously. “I’m sorry to ask, but... uh...”

“It’s okay, I don’t mind you asking questions,” the pegasus said with a big smile.

“Um... did you know if you’re... adopted?” Sweetie asked with an encouraging smile.

Sunny blinked. “I- I don’t think I am...”

“But,” Apple Bloom interrupted, “You’re not an alicorn! You’re just a pegasus! Right?”

“Oh, I am... this gem just hides it.” Sunny said, but then frowned. “But don’t tell anypony; it’s supposed to be a secret!”

Then, like a hammer, the full force of Nightmare Moon’s words hit Sweetie.

“So you would condemn your lives to the misery of living in these empty halls, alone, save for each other, my sister Sunny, and the occasional visit from your family?”

If Nightmare Moon was Princess Luna... sister Sunny...

...and Princess Luna only had one sister.. sister Sunny...

“Oh, sweet Celestia!” Sweetie’s eyes widened in panic as she pointed at Sunny with a hoof. “You’re Celestia!”

Apple Bloom stared at Sunny then at Sweetie. “But... how do you know?”

“Princess Luna is Celestia’s sister!”

“Who’s Luna?” The earth pony asked.

“Nightmare Moon!” The unicorn filly explained. “Princess Luna was jealous of Princess Celestia a thousand years ago and transformed into Nightmare Moon because of it.”

“Ohhh,” the yellow coated filly said. “I get it!”

“I’m just Sunny now,” the pegasus said. She smiled uneasily when Apple Bloom bowed before her. “And don’t do that... I don’t really mind...”

The conversation trailed off as the three fillies heard a tingling melody fluttering through the castle halls.

“Is that..?” Sweetie started.

“The candy mare?” Apple Bloom finished.

The three followed the music to just outside the halls, where a small garden was niched. In the middle stood a small cart with all sorts of treats. An earth pony mare with two crossed candy bars as a cutie mark smiled at them.

“Hello! Would you three like some candy?”



Sweetie slowly opened her eyes, taking in the room around her. She blinked. There was something... off..

For starters, the sofa was on the ceiling.

Wait. What?

More awake now, she noticed that both Apple Bloom and Sunny were standing next to her, but they were still asleep.

When did I fall asleep? And why are they standing up if they are asleep?

She started noticing other things as well. Besides the sofa, Sunny’s bed was also on the ceiling. And her chairs, plush toys and papers...

It was when Scootaloo walked in on the ceiling and looked around before turning her head down to look at her that she understood. Wait! She’s not on the ceiling! I am!



The hall was quiet. A single, ephemeral blue tendril poked around the corner, probing around uncertainly before slowly pulling back. Nightmare Moon followed, smirking. A full hour without pranks! Victory is mine!

As Nightmare Moon walked, cackling, down the hall towards the archives, she still kept her eyes open. Those Crusaders could be anywhere, but for now it seemed that they had retreated, no doubt to lick their wounds.

Sweetie’s scream when she had found herself glued to the ceiling by the hooves... priceless!


She looked around once more as she approached her office. Everything was quiet. A little too quiet.

Clop. Her hoofsteps echoed in the unnaturally silent hall, and she could feel her pulse rise.


By the time she stood in front of her office, she was expecting the Crusaders to jump out of the shadows. She turned her eyes to the door. They were behind it. She knew it. They were probably hiding, ready to scare her.

She smiled deviously. Well, she would surprise them!

Taking a deep breath and rearing back, she kicked the door open and jumped in, roaring a challenge- which was cut short when her whole face was met with cellophane paper and glue. She sputtered and flailed, knocking down papers and a vase before she thought to use her magic to rip it off her face, leaving her fur matted in glue.

“Crusaders!” she shouted in anger as she threw the ball of cellophane to the floor. She stomped forward in anger, not noticing the tripwire until it was too late. She blinked as she saw the wire flash upwards by her side and looked up... just in time to see a bucket of chicken feathers come cascading down on top of her.


Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom watched as Scootaloo and Sunny ran after each other in an impromptu game of tag. So far the copper-colored pegasus hadn’t thought to go chase after them, so Sweetie took a break of sorts to think.

She sighed and put down the book she had been half-reading. She had found some interesting spells, but her understanding was too basic to learn them without help, even if she was doing a lot better compared to a few weeks ago. That, and they didn’t seem any closer to being able to free Twilight from Nightmare Moon’s grasp.

“You okay, Sweetie?” Apple Bloom asked, hearing the sigh.

“Not really,” the unicorn filly shook her head. “I feel like I haven’t been able to do much since I arrived.”

“Well, maybe if our next trap gets Nightmare Moon...”

Sweetie was about to respond when she felt something.

What was that? Magic? But why?

“Hey!” Scootaloo and Sunny came running towards them. “Come on, you have to play too!”

“CRUSADERS!” A voice boomed, and a black alicorn covered in white chicken feathers suddenly materialized before them in a burst of blue mist. “I will have my revenge!”

“Aaaaah!” four voices echoed in horror as the fillies turned around in a panic and ran away blindly... only to fall into a pit full of tar the moment they passed the flower beds .

They all gasped and struggled to get out, but a blue aura levitated them out of the tar until the whole dripping group was floating in front of a feather-covered Nightmare Moon, who smiled viciously as another levitation spell brought up a giant batch of chicken feathers.


“...and furthermore, no more glue or gooey pranks, from any of you, am I clear?!” Twilight growled at the feathered group in front of her. “Now, you’re all going to take a bath.”


“No buts, Sweetie!”


“I don’t want to hear anything from you either, Nightmare Moon.” Twilight sighed, looking at the alicorn. “You are all taking a bath now. I asked the hoofmaidens to prepare it, so in you all go.”

“What? Together?” Scootaloo asked, looking at the black alicorn in horror.

“Yes, together,” Twilight growled.

“Huzzah,” Nightmare Moon growled sarcastically as she stomped to the bath. “The fun has been doubled.”

Once inside, she reluctantly joined Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom and Sunny inside the enormous bathtub while Nightmare Moon slowly lowered herself into the water with them.

“Now, the hoofmaidens are going to-” Twilight began to say when she was suddenly enveloped in a blue aura of magic and dunked into the water, eliciting giggles from the fillies. The purple unicorn spluttered out of the water, eyes wide and turned to glare at the black alicorn. “What- why?”

Nightmare Moon grinned as she nuzzled the unicorn with a feathery snout. “Why, Twilight, you don’t think I would take a bath without you, do you? It’d take all the fun out of... personal... cleaning.”

As Twilight started blushing, one of the hoofmaidens coughed uncomfortably. “Lady Twilight, if this is a bad moment... perhaps we could take the fillies to another bath?”

“No!” Twilight shouted, slightly hysterical. “It’s fine! We’ll all take a normal, uninteresting bath together, where the only thing that is going to happen is that we’re getting clean!”

“But Twiiiligiiht...” Nightmare Moon whined.


“Fine. Do I get to cuddle you tonight if I behave in the bath?” The queen asked.

“Only if you behave! If you want cuddles from me you’ll have to earn-” Twilight stopped mid-sentence and facehoofed as Nightmare Moon happily nodded at the hoofmares to begin their work. “Why... why me?”

“Don’t worry Twilight...” Sweetie whispered to her, “I’ll save you.”

The purple unicorn looked down and sighed. “Somehow, that doesn’t make me feel much better.”

The bath started with a simple scrubbing. Nightmare Moon watched in glee as the fillies were scrubbed harder and harder, trying to get the tar out of their fur.

“This... this is not working at all.” One of the hoofmares panted after a particularly vicious attempt at cleaning Apple Bloom, who looked at them with dread in her eyes.

“I think... we might need to shave some areas...” another hoofmaid suggested.

“But... mah hair and coat!” Apple Bloom cried out in panic.

“It’s okay dear,” the hoofmare said. “It’s not much... and you won’t have to stay in the bath for two hours like Nightmare Moon, Sunny and Miss Scootaloo...”

“What?!” Both the alicorn and the pegasus gasped simultaneously before looking at each other in horror.

“Well, we cannot cut the feathers,” the hoofmaid explained, making Sunny, Nightmare Moon and Scootaloo all wince at the thought. “So you two have to soak in water for a while so that we can get all the glue and tar out...”

“This is your fault!” Nightmare Moon growled at Scootaloo, who cowered for a second before a frown replaced her fearful expression. Scootaloo splashed the black alicorn in the face.

“Is not! You started it!” The pegasus retorted.

“I am the Queen! I do what I want without fear of repercussions!”

“Well, I have plenty of cushions here for you!” Scootaloo replied, getting in the Nightmare’s face.

“Repercussions means consequences, brat!” Nightmare Moon snapped.

“What the hay are you, a dictionary?” Scootaloo asked, glaring back.

“And with that... I think we’ll go for now...” Twilight said, stepping out of the bath. “Come on Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle. Let’s give you a trim and go do something more productive.”

“Ah... Ah think I’ll soak a bit longer, if ya don’t mind, Twilight...” Apple Bloom said. “Ah really don’t want to have to cut mah mane...”

Sweetie Belle shrugged and stepped out, following Twilight out of the bathroom.


The pair of unicorns walked back into Nightmare Moon’s room, closing the door behind them. Twilight turned to look at Sweetie, her horn glowing. Slowly, the tar peeled away, taking a few strands of mane and pulling a bit hard on her coat, but it was soon completely off of her.

“Why didn’t you do that earlier?” Sweetie asked, looking herself over.

“Well, first of all, Nightmare Moon deserves it,” the purple unicorn replied. “And I want to talk to you without distractions.”

“Oh...” Sweetie nervously looked around. “What about?”

Twilight sat down and looked at the filly sternly. “The truth. You’ve been lying about a lot of things, Sweetie Belle... And I want to know why. Why do you immediately look at me when a question about magic comes up?” Twilight took a deep breath. “You treat me like you expect me to know all the answers; you trust me... but you barely even know me.” She shook her head. “You told Spike that I had recommended you take the entrance exam, but I didn’t even know you until early today. We had never talked before, so I couldn’t have done that.” Twilight’s eyes seemed to bore into Sweetie’s. “Did this mysterious Trixie really teach you magic? Why are you so desperate to save me?”

Sweetie cringed with every question.

How can I answer... should I lie? Will she know? What will she think?

The filly’s eyes began watering as her frustration grew.

“I-” She gulped and closed her eyes. “I’m not the Sweetie Belle from this world!” she said quickly, trying to say as much as she could before the purple unicorn could get angry at her. “I was really your student, and I really liked it! You were an awesome teacher; I just... it was an accident, I promise! I wanted to take a look at the stuff you got for me and-” She sniffled. “When you exploded and disappeared- I’m so sorry Twilight! I’m trying to find you; I’m trying to go home! I miss my friends! I miss my sister! I miss Princess Luna and her Nightmare Night pranks!” The filly looked up at the flabbergasted Twilight Sparkle for a second before shutting her eyes again quickly, not able to handle the guilt. “I went to this other world and Trixie helped me find you... she told me that I was jumping to different worlds... I have to find a piece of you in this one... the last one was where you, I mean the other Twilight, had gone to look for a magic item so she and Trixie could have foals and I thought it might be there in this world too... but... Nightmare Moon captured you and I couldn’t-” She paused, shivering and breathing hard. “I couldn’t let her do that to you...”

Twilight stood up and walked around the room, looking at Sweetie as if she were some sort of strange creature.

“So, let me get this straight. You’re from another world,” she repeated slowly,“ and you caused an accident that basically destroyed the ‘me’ from your universe and catapulted you into another world.”

The filly nodded nervously.

Twilight continued pacing. “This doesn’t make much sense, Sweetie. How does the magic that is sending you all over operate?” Twilight paused and sighed in frustration. “If you're here, then where is this universe's Sweetie?” Books floated out of the shelf and hovered in front of the unicorn as she quickly looked at one index after another. “This is not it. Not it.” She threw a couple of books out of the way. “And this ‘Trixie’ told you she had seen something similar?”

“Yes... she said that the Rhinos used a spell like it...”

“Rhinos?” Twilight blinked. “They’ve been extinct for over a hundred years.”

“Well, not in my world.”

“This is very hard to believe, Sweetie.” Twilight sighed.

The filly felt her eyes moisten as tears threatened to come out. “But...”

Twilight, who was not looking at her shook her head. “If it wasn’t because nopony even believed you could do magic, much less cast those spells, I would say you’re lying.”

“I’m not lying!” Sweetie protested as tears ran down her cheeks.

“And how does the spell know where to send you? What’s to say that there even is a fragment of this other ‘me’ in this world?” The purple unicorn continued frowning as she looked out the window, deep in thought.  “What happens if you’re sent to a world without a fragment? Will you stay there forever? What happens to the local Sweetie Belle then? And if you’re only sent to worlds that have a fragment, are there clues as to how to find them?”

Twilight sighed as her mind raced through Sweetie’s words. “If that’s the case... could it be related to me? She found the fragment where the other world’s ‘me’ was with this Trixie...” she hummed, trying not to imagine herself with another mare. “If the fragments... hmm. She found it next to Twilight in a moment that would create a big change... but, has anything like that happened here?” She tapped her hoof against her chin. “If Nightmare Moon was defeated in her world... That’s the main difference with this one... We didn’t beat her, the elements broke in the Sister’s Castle in the Everfree... could the fragment be there?” She stopped when she heard somepony sobbing.

Sweetie cried by herself as her mentor’s double pondered aloud. I shouldn’t be here. I’m not wanted. I should just go- her thoughts stopped when she felt a hoof on her shoulder. Then another hoof on the other... and she was pulled into a hug. I always cry. I’m useless. She buried her face in Twilight’s mane, unable to control her shaking body.

“It’s okay, don’t cry... I forgive you.” Twilight comforted, her hoof carefully stroking the crying filly’s hair. “You lied, and that’s not right... but I forgive you. You have to learn to tell the truth; it’ll save you a lot of trouble. I don’t know what exactly happened, but if your Twilight is anything like I am... she would forgive her student for a mistake, regardless of how bad it was.”

Even if I killed you?

“Thanks Twilight...” Sweetie said hoarsely, pushing her thoughts away into the back of her mind, along with the hurt and fear as she sniffed. “As soon as we stop Nightmare Moon, I’ll be on my way...”

Twilight smiled and shook her head. “You don’t need to save me, Sweetie.”

“What? But... she... you... slave-”

“I know what you’re thinking, but-” Twilight hesitated. “Nightmare Moon is not the monster you think she is... at least not here... at least I don’t think she is...” The unicorn sighed. “I haven’t quite figured her out yet, but I know she’s not all bad... and she needs me.”

But then... what have I been doing here all this time? Sweetie sighed. “So, I just... I’m useless here?”

“No,” Twilight said firmly, drawing the filly’s attention to her. “Everything we do is a learning experience. Maybe you could have gone away, but you would never have tested your current skills to see how well you would have done in a magic test of the level required to enter Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns.” The mare stood up. “It was impressive, Sweetie. Much better than I did at first...” She smiled fondly at the memory. “If I had been the Twilight teaching you, I would have been incredibly proud. And also, if you hadn’t stayed and tried to help me, you wouldn’t learn a new spell from me.”

Sweetie’s eyes widened. Does she mean... “Are you saying... you’ll teach me a new spell?”

Twilight smiled. “How do you feel about a spell to make everything dark? I think it would help you if you’re ever in real trouble.”

Sweetie grinned. “Let’s pull out the books!”

The purple unicorn chuckled as her horn’s magic levitated a tome from its place in the bookshelf. “You’re definitely my student.” She shook her head in amusement, but looked at Sweetie seriously. “I also want you to think about telling the truth to Scootaloo and Apple Bloom.”

Sweetie Belle winced.

“They are your best friends in your world, and would likely be the same for our Sweetie Belle.” Twilight pointed out. “It wouldn’t be right for them to think she had been lying, and more importantly, if you can’t trust your friends, who can you trust?”

Sweetie sighed, “I’ll think about it.”


When Nightmare Moon and the fillies marched out of the bathroom, they found Twilight and Sweetie going over several books, jotting down various passages in the younger unicorn’s notebook.

The black alicorn sashayed up to them and looked over their shoulders. “Globe of Darkness?” she asked aloud, looking at the diagrams and theories in the book. “Whatever could Sweetie Belle need that for?” Her eyes narrowed as she looked from unicorn to unicorn. “Are you helping her plan a prank, Twilight dear?”

“Not at all,” the purple unicorn replied amiably. “I’m just teaching her a new spell she wanted to learn.”

Nightmare Moon raised an eyebrow. “Why would anypony want to plunge everything into darkness?”

There was an awkward pause. Apple Bloom coughed and looked away.

Sunny looked at her sister and blinked.

“Besides you, you mean,” Scootaloo clarified helpfully after the silent moment had stretched too far for her liking.

“I... I just think it might be useful?” Sweetie smiled nervously.

Nightmare Moon’s eyes roamed from one unicorn to the other before settling on Twilight. “You do know that she won’t be able to see anything at all when she casts it, right?”

Twilight slowly returned her eyes to the books, opening her mouth a moment to speak before snapping it shut on further reflection.

The alicorn laughed, “I guess not.” Her horn shimmered with light and another book floated out of the bookcase. She let it drop in front of Sweetie. “Darkvision.”

Sweetie looked from the book to the alicorn in surprise. Finally, a question that had been nagging her from the beginning erupted. “Um, Nightmare Moon?”

The alicorn, who had been halfway to the door by then, stopped and looked over her shoulder. “Yes? I’m afraid I cannot tell you what Twilight tastes like; she wouldn’t approve.”

“Oh...” Sweetie looked at Twilight, who turned beet red. “Okay, that wasn’t my question...”

“What is it then?”

“Why did you help me?”

Nightmare Moon shrugged. “I like a challenge.”

That said, the alicorn simply walked out of the room, leaving a confused group of ponies behind.

“Well...” Twilight coughed. “Let’s copy that spell, Sweetie... as for the Globe of Darkness... I think you understand the theory; better get some practice...” She hesitated. “But see if you can get the Darkvision down first, okay?”

“Yes, Twilight!” Sweetie nodded, smiling brightly.

“Okay.” The purple unicorn got up. “It’s about time for dinner. I’ll see you fillies in the dining hall in half an hour, okay? Try to behave.”

After the unicorn was gone, Scootaloo turned to look at Sweetie Belle intently. “Alright, Sweetie, you’ve had fun, but mind telling me why you’re suddenly so good at magic?”

“I...” Should I tell them? No... she would think I betrayed them and lied to her and... I did... “I... have been studying at night, after my sister went to sleep. I uh... I met with Zecora and...”

“With who?” Apple Bloom asked. “I don’t know anypony named Zecora in Ponyville.”

Sweetie Belle looked from her to the frowning Scootaloo in a mild panic. “Uh... she- she’s a zebra, and she lives in the Everfree Forest...”


“Y’all don’t mean the witch?!” Apple Bloom asked in horror. “Ah’ve heard from mah sister that she curses ponies!”

“You met her? How?” Scootaloo asked, more impressed than dubious.

“Uh... we... I- she came to town and I talked to her... She’s really nice,” Sweetie gulped. “Um, she... she introduced me to Trixie and... well, Trixie taught me how to... study...”

“Wow! You’re very brave!” Sunny said, impressed.

“Yeah!” Apple Bloom agreed.

Sweetie sighed in relief, not noticing the slightly hurt look Scootaloo sent her way. The pegasus quickly moved to the books and started turning pages. A particular one caught her eye. “Hey, Sweetie... take a look at this spell think youcould do it?”

The filly looked over the page. “Well... maybe... it looks pretty easy...” Her eyes went wide as she turned to look at the pegasus. “You’re not thinking...”

“Yes. Yes I am.” Scootaloo’s crafty smile said it all.


The whole group sat together at the table in the dining hall in uncomfortable silence.

A fork enveloped in magic energy dug into the salad and carefully lifted greens and a tomato out. Twilight Sparkle took a bite and hummed appreciatively as she chewed. “This is good.”

Next to her, Sunny chugged noisily into her own salad, relishing in the flavors and crispiness of the fresh veggies.

The others, however, stared at their food nervously. Nightmare Moon’s fork poked a piece of tomato as the alicorn pondered if that morsel was the one that might’ve been ‘spiced up’ by the crusaders.

The fillies, for their part, looked at the food dreading a possible revenge from the queen.

Apple Bloom whimpered as she looked at the food, her head tentatively leaning forward to take a bite.

“No!” Scootaloo whispered harshly. “We don’t know what she might have done to it!”

“But...” an angry growled emanated from the filly’s stomach, followed shortly by one from Nightmare Moon’s. Scootaloo and Sweetie looked at each other painfully. They were so hungry!

“Come on everypony, don’t be silly.” Twilight looked at each pony in the eye. “You’re all just being paranoid. There’s nothing wrong with the food.”

There was a chorus of unsure laughter and slowly the ponies started eating, watching each other warily.

Twilight sighed and carried on eating, her thoughts and eyes straying to the only other unicorn at the table. She then noticed that Scootaloo kept shooting Sweetie Belle looks and shook her head slightly.

When Sweetie’s eyes crossed with hers, Twilight nodded slightly towards the pegasus. Sweetie sighed and looked at her plate.

It’s up to you, Sweetie. Twilight thought as she watched Sweetie Belle’s reactions.


Dinner ended on a slightly better note than the stress it had begun with. Nightmare Moon looked at Twilight as she stood up. “Well, Slave, it’s about time to lower the Sun.”

The fillies watched the pair walk out of the room in silence. “I gotta see their expressions when they walk into that room!” Scootaloo said, jumping to her hooves excitedly.

Sweetie hesitated. “Wait, Scoots...”

The pegasus stopped. “What is it, Sweetie?”

“I- I want to... talk with you.”

The pegasus lifted an eyebrow. “But... the room... don’t you want to see how Nightmare Moon-”

“I’m not your Sweetie Belle,” the unicorn filly interrupted, quickly looking down at the floor in shame.

The silence in the room lasted nearly a full minute.

“Explain,” Scootaloo demanded, as she, Sunny and Apple Bloom walked up to the unicorn.

Sweetie took a deep breath. No going back now. “I’m really from another world... I came here to find a piece of my Twilight-”

“Stop.” Scootaloo angrily stomped on the ground. “If you want to lie about how you learned all that magic, you don’t have to treat me like an idiot!”

The pegasus turned around and walked towards the door, but bumped against an invisible wall of some sort. “What-” she poked it with her hoof, feeling something stopping her. She turned and glared at Sweetie Belle, whose horn was glowing. “Sweetie, let me out.”

“Not until you believe me!” The unicorn replied, “I’m sorry I lied earlier but... I didn’t want you to hate me because I’m not the Sweetie you knew!”

“Does that mean yer not really our friend?” Apple Bloom asked, looking hurt.

“No!” Sweetie turned to look at the earth pony. “I mean, I am your friend! I didn’t want to hurt you... I got you into trouble once in another world...”

“Why did you come to me and Apple Bloom then?” the pegasus filly demanded.

“Because...” Sweetie looked at Scootaloo pleadingly. “Back home, you two are my best friends! I- I needed your help...”

“What did you do to the real Sweetie?” the pegasus snapped at her. “Did you hurt her?”

“N-no!” The unicorn filly said. “I’m just.. kind of borrowing her body... she’ll be back once I’m gone... I don’t think she’ll know how to do anything I know... and she will not really know Apple Bloom or Sunny... at least, that’s how Trixie explained it to me...”

“So Trixie does exist?” Apple Bloom asked confused. “Ah thought you made the whole thing up, just so you could take the test?”

“So, what you’re saying is that you took over my friend Sweetie Belle and man- manip- used us.” Scootaloo growled, “Some friend you are.”

“I-I’m sor-”

“Don’t bother,” Scootaloo turned away. “Just... just let us out.”

Sweetie‘s shoulders slumped as her horn stopped glowing. Scootaloo immediately ran out of the room, while Apple Bloom and Sunny slowly followed, giving Sweetie side-long glances. They closed the door behind them, leaving the unicorn alone in the dining hall.

The unicorn filly took a deep breath and turned around, walking in the opposite direction.


Nightmare Moon looked at Twilight askance as both of them walked towards her chambers. “What’s on your mind, slave?”

Twilight shot her an annoyed look. “Nothing.”

“Sure,” the alicorn snorted. “Should I be feeling jealous of Sweetie?” she teased, a smirk playing in her lips. “Am I going to be replaced? I feel so sad Twilight, that you would just leave me and...”

“Oh, stop!” Twilight growled, looking straight at the alicorn. “It’s nothing like that!”

“So I don’t need to feel jealous?”

“No, you don’t need to feel jealous,” Twilight deadpanned.

“So you won’t leave me?”

“I won’t leave you.”

“You’re mine to cuddle and play with?”

“Yes, I’m yours to cuddle and- what?” Twilight glared at the alicorn. “Hey!”

“If you were paying attention it wouldn’t have happened.” Nightmare Moon chuckled. “But, since you so kindly offer, I will take full advantage of your promise tonight.”

“I- what? No,” Twilight shook her head as the door to Nightmare Moon’s chambers opened with a bit of magical help. “We have to lower the sun.”

“Oh, Twilight, you’re no fun-” the alicorn stopped in shock as she looked around her room. “Wha- buh- how...”

Her bed. It was pink.

Her books. Pink.

Her desk. Pink.

The purple unicorn looked around, impressed. “My, Nightmare Moon, I would have never guessed...”

“But...” the alicorn quickly stepped out to confirm that they hadn’t taken a wrong turn. “My- my room!” She looked at the unicorn with pleading, horrified eyes. “It’s all pink! This must be a nightmare!”

“Don’t know,” Twilight muttered, poking a pink piece of armor. “Feels pretty real to me!”

The black alicorn gritted her teeth. She started shaking. The bookcase, the curtains, the carpet... pink! “CRUSAAAAADEEEEEERS!”


The sun was wrenched out of the sky with far less effort than ever before, and a very tired Nightmare Moon stomped angrily around the castle in search of the crusaders.

“Of all the things those little...” the alicorn sputtered indignantly. “Pink! Pink! Can you believe it?! How did they even do that?! It’s... argh.”

Twilight was following the queen as fast as she could. “It was just a prank, Nightmare Moon; don’t do anything harsh!”

“I’ll show them a prank!” the alicorn vowed as she opened another door and saw Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Sunny walking towards her. “There you are!” She glared at the group, “You have crossed the line!”

“Yeah, whatever.” Scootaloo growled as she passed by. “I don’t care. You win.”

“And if you think you can get away with this and challenge me again, I-” the alicorn coughed and looked down. “Beg pardon?”

“I don’t care anymore,” Scootaloo repeated, not looking back at the two adults. “I just want to go home.”

“But...” The alicorn frowned. “Is this another prank? Because I’m pretty sure it’s my turn-”

“I said, ‘I don’t care’!” the pegasus filly snapped. “Just... just let me go.”

For a moment, Twilight worried that the alicorn was about to antagonize the obviously upset pegasus further, but Nightmare Moon kept quiet and nodded. She looked at Apple Bloom. “What about you?”

The earth pony filly scratched at the floor, obviously torn. She sighed. “Ah think Ah should go home too.”

“Very well.” Nightmare Moon walked past them. “Follow me.”


Spike was about to run out of the library when he heard the noise coming from the portal. He turned around and looked at the group of ponies that stepped out of it.

“Hey, everypony! You just missed Sweetie Belle; she came here and-”

“I don’t care,” Scootaloo snapped.

“Okay, hold on,” Twilight stepped in front of the pegasus. “I think I know what happened. Sweetie Belle told you the truth.”

The purple eyed pegasus nodded. “You knew?”

“I... just found out earlier. Sweetie...”

“She lied to us! And she said she was our friend!”

“Girls!” Spike waved his hands at them.

“Listen, Scootaloo, I know it’s strange, and she shouldn’t have lied, but you have to understand that-”

“Girls!” Spike shouted, then stopped as he felt something rumbling in his stomach. With a loud, flaming burp a scroll appeared in the air, which he caught in his claws. “Hey, I wonder where this came from?”

The fire had interrupted the argument, and Twilight had opened the scroll with a flash of magic. Nightmare Moon and Sunny looked over her shoulder, both of them curious.

“That’s...” the alicorn blinked in surprise. “I never expected that.”

“Wow...” Sunny smiled.

“What is it?” Despite herself, Scootaloo crowded the group as Spike and Apple Bloom shared a look and joined them.

“Well ah’ll be,” the earth pony smiled, while the dragon whistled.

Scootaloo said nothing, choosing to frown. “Yeah, whatever, let’s give it to her and be done with it.”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!” Spike said, drawing their attention. “Sweetie came through the portal earlier and she said something about having to go away. When I asked her what she meant, she said she was going to the Everfree.”

“What?” Nightmare Moon looked surprised. “That’s dangerous!”

“Why would she think of going there?” Apple Bloom asked. “She should know better!”

“Oh, my...” Twilight gasped. “She must have heard me when I was thinking out loud. I thought the fragment might be in the place where we fought Nightmare Moon with the Elements of Harmony!”

“Fragments?” Nightmare Moon asked, then frowned. “I think, Twilight dear, you should tell me what’s happening.”

“I will,” Twilight nodded. “But right now we have to catch up to her; it’s too dangerous for her to go alone.”

“Who cares if something happens to her?” Scootaloo snapped. “She’s not even really-”

“Scootaloo!” Twilight interrupted her, glaring in disbelief. “I know you’re hurt and angry, but do you really want something to happen to her?”

The pegasus looked away, shuffling nervously. “Well no, but...”

“You have to remember, where she comes from, there’s another Scootaloo and another Apple Bloom that are her best friends,” Twilight said. “She doesn’t know when she’ll see them again... you two are the closest she can get to them. And right now she’s in the Everfree forest alone because she thinks you hate her.”

Scootaloo looked down at her hoofs. “She shouldn’t have lied.”

“No, she shouldn’t have.” Twilight smiled, “But she’s our friend, right? And friends forgive.”

Apple Bloom put her hoof on Scootaloo’s shoulder. “Ah know we only really just met this mornin’, but ah feel we’ll always be good friends. Let’s go help this Sweetie... and then y’all can introduce me to the one you know.”

With a glance at the earth pony, Scootaloo nodded.


The Everfree Forest.

It was there where Zecora lived, the place that Apple Bloom had frequently visited to spend some time with her zebra friend.

It was there that they had been attacked by the Cockatrice and witnessed the awesome power of Fluttershy’s stare.

It was there that The Elements of Harmony had fought and defeated Nightmare Moon... or at least where they had in two other worlds. And it was here that the Castle of the Alicorn Sisters was located.

Sweetie didn’t know how to get to it, as her excursions into the forest had never gone too deep. However, she remembered hearing from her sister and the others as they talked about it... the way wasn’t that difficult to follow, but it was a long trip, and the forest was a dangerous place.

But she didn’t care.

Slowly making her way down the path, Sweetie paid no heed to the noises of the forest until she heard somepony moaning in pain.

She stopped and looked around. Where did that come from? And who could be so stupid as to come here at night?

There it was again. She turned to her left, where several thick bushes limited her view to a mere few feet in front of her. Taking a deep breath, Sweetie gathered her courage as she stepped into the bushes. The branches scratched at her hide, and her mane got tangled more than once, but she persevered. The noise was coming from just up ahead.

She finally broke through the growth and onto a small clear area of the forest, where she could hear the sounds. She carefully stepped around it until, behind a log, she found a pit, and lying at the bottom was...

“Zecora!” Sweetie gasped as she recognized the zebra. “Are you okay?”

“I’ve surely hit my head or ear, for is it my name that I hear?” the zebra asked weakly, looking up at the filly in confusion. Their eyes crossed and the zebra gasped. “Child, this world is not where you belong, your presence here feels rather wrong...

“You... you know? You can tell?” Sweetie gasped.

“Many things I have observed, but talk later we must if my life is to be preserved,” the zebra answered. “A hearty meal we would both become, if the wrong creature were to come. I must ask you with all due haste, to pull me out, for there’s no time to waste!”

Sweetie looked around. I’m not strong enough to levitate her... Her eyes settled on a loosely hanging vine. “I think that will work!”

Her horn aglow, she uncoiled, tore and lifted the vine from the tree branch it rested on and lowered it to the zebra. Then she tied the other end around a tree. “Try to come up now!”

With the aid of the vine and Sweetie Belle pulling, the zebra managed to scramble out of the pit.

“Thank you, I was afraid I would have to spend the night there! Certainly not a fate for which I’d much care.”

“It’s okay, Zecora, you would have done the same.”

The zebra looked amused. “You know my name and unless I forget, you have me at a disadvantage since we haven't met.

“Oh...” The unicorn filly smiled. “Sorry, my name is Sweetie Belle.”

“Well met, young Sweetie Belle, now maybe you can tell,” the zebra nodded. “What are you doing here, in this forest most ponies fear?”

“I... I’m trying to get to the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters. I was following the old road when I heard you.”

If it’s the castle you want to reach, a better way I must beseech,” the zebra advised. “Come with me, and you shall see.”

They walked in silence for the most part. Zecora seemed to be concentrating on the ground around her, no doubt wanting to avoid any other pitfalls. It was a few minutes before the filly remembered.

“Hey, Zecora, you said earlier this wasn’t my world.”

The zebra smiled as she continued leading the little filly. “Indeed I did, for the truth may be... that the soul I see is not that of the body before me.”

Sweetie sighed. “Yeah... I have to find pieces of a crystal to carry on, and I think the one for this world is in that castle.”

“A simple explanation for something, I sense, was much more convoluted was when it did commence,” Zecora said with a sidelong glance.

The filly shook her head. “It’s my fault this is happening. My teacher was doing an experiment and I messed it up.”

“Accidents happen as I know well, think of that hole into which I fell,” the striped equine replied, her deep voice carrying a trace of humor and understanding.

Sweetie looked at her guide. “Zecora, I think I killed Twilight... my teacher... she was turned into crystal and then broken into little pieces!”

The zebra stopped and looked back at Sweetie, a serious expression in her face. “Magic works in mysterious ways, to zebra and unicorn it turns into an obscuring haze. If it’s Twilight's fragments that you seek, perhaps to the magic itself you will speak. Whatever you do, even if you feel torn, mistakes and sorrow you must not scorn. As good or bad as things can get, misery and self-pity bring only regret.”

“Why should I be happy? I killed my teacher!”

“That you don't know I can tell, so give yourself a chance for a spell.”

“Easier said than done,” Sweetie muttered.

The zebra smiled back at the filly. "Indeed it is so, but the trick I have found, is for the best to expect, even if the worst is bound."  She winked at the unicorn as Sweetie groaned, but smirked.

“What kind of advice is that?”

“Advice,” the zebra noted, “is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.”

“Wow,” the unicorn shook her head as she mulled over the words. “That was kind of depressing.” She frowned. “And it didn’t even rhyme.”

The zebra laughed. “A far wiser pony than I once told that to me. To say it wrong, a disservice it would be.”

“I’ll try and remember that,” Sweetie said, smiling despite herself. Then she sighed, “Zecora? What should I do if I lied and hurt a friend?”

The zebra didn’t even look over her shoulder. “Ponies lie to protect their feelings, often ignoring the damage they cause in their dealings.

“But, I already hurt her... even if I don’t lie again...”

"Sweetie, I can see your regret, and your friend I'm sure will on that reflect. She might forgive you, or she might not, but lies should not be where you throw your lot."

They reached a river and Zecora slowly stepped through. The water felt cool but good to Sweetie’s hooves, and she sighed in relief as it seemed to wash away her worries.

She sighed bitterly. I wish everything could just be carried away by the current...

“We should hurry now, Sweetie Belle,” Zecora called from the far shore. “The castle’s there as you can tell.”

Sweetie blinked and nodded, following the zebra out of the river and once more into the forest.

They walked in silence most of the way. At one point Zecora made quieting motions with her hooves and moved to the side into the undergrowth.

They watched in silence as a large creature walked past them. The body of a lion with bat wings and a scorpion tail. That’s just like the manticore sis and the others faced! Sweetie thought in awe of the size and ferocious look of the creature.

Once it was gone Zecora waited a bit longer before guiding her back into the trail. “Some creatures with nasty tempers we should evade, lest their anger and hunger make our chances fade.”

Eventually they reached the old bridge. “Thank you, Zecora,” Sweetie said, giving the surprised zebra a hug. “You’re always so helpful!”

The striped horse chuckled. “I wish other ponies would see it that way; it’s hard to imagine their opinion will sway.”

Sweetie shook her head. “It will happen... when we see each other again, I might not remember you... but I would like to be your friend.”

The zebra blinked at this, but her smile was warm as she nodded. “Friendship is special and something to treasure; to have one with you, dear child, would be my pleasure.”

The filly nodded as she cantered over the bridge and onto the other side, where the castle walls had crumbled in most areas. All I need to do is find the fragment in there... She turned to wave at Zecora, but the zebra was gone.


The castle had been huge once upon a time, but now the battlements were nothing but a pile of rocks, the walls little more than a memory. The castle itself was mostly intact, or at least recognizable. Sweetie’s eyes roamed the area in search of a clue. She knew the elements had been broken apart in a tower, but which one?

“Why couldn’t sis’ story have been more specific?!” Sweetie Belle huffed. She trotted around the castle, trying to connect the buildings with the descriptions her sister had given her. Eventually she found her way to the courtroom, where she could see the stained glass windows her sister and the others had described.

And there before her was the broken throne and the place where, in her world at least, Twilight and her friends had defeated Nightmare Moon.

She looked carefully around, her eyes scanning cracks in the wall, torn curtains, even the broken stained glass window.

“So, you would just leave without even saying goodbye?”

Sweetie had been concentrating so much on her search she hadn’t heard the group that came into the room after her.

“Twi-” she sputtered, “Twilight!”

The purple unicorn looked at her sadly as Nightmare Moon, Sunny, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo stood next to her.

“I heard about your fight, Sweetie, but are you sure running away is the best thing to do?”

The unicorn filly looked away. “I just don’t want anypony to hate me... I don’t want to do all of this alone.”

“So you really are from another world,” Nightmare Moon said, walking up to her and looking at the unicorn in the eye. “That’s how you knew...” she trailed off, but Sweetie saw her eyes shift to her moon emblem.

“Yeah...” the filly sighed.

The alicorn smirked, but left it at that.

“Sweetie, regardless of the circumstances, you shouldn’t have come here alone,” Twilight said after a moment, “What would you have done if something happened to you? How do you think we would feel?”

“I don’t know,” Sweetie retorted, looking at the group angrily. “Who cares anyway? I’ll just find the fragment and get out of your mane. Maybe I’ll even get to return home!”

Twilight sighed and was about to reply when Scootaloo stepped forth.

“Sweetie... I’m sorry I got so angry with you... it just really hurt to find out you were lying to me.”

The unicorn filly stubbornly scratched the floor, tiny tears on the edge of her eyes betraying her emotions. She was about to reply when she was suddenly being hugged by Apple Bloom.

“Ah know you got to go, Sweetie, and I know we really just got to know each other today... or at least I did, but I’m gonna miss you anyhow,” Apple Bloom said.

Scootaloo was also suddenly hugging her. “Don’t be stubborn, Sweetie!” She begged, burying her face in the unicorn’s mane. “Let’s not... let’s not say goodbye like this... I don’t want you to go away with us being angry with each other!”

Sunny soon joined the hug. “That’s right! You’re all my friends now, and I don’t want to see you angry!”

“I’m sorry I lied,” came Sweetie’s muffled reply, and it seemed as if the whole group relaxed with just those words.

Nightmare Moon walked up to Twilight as both adults watched the group hug in mild amusement. Sweetie looked at them and smiled; it was then that she noticed it. A slight purple glow near the lower corner of the stained glass window.

Slowly she disentangled herself from the group and made her way there. Her magic levitated the crystal as everypony gathered around it.

“Is... is that a piece... of me?” Twilight asked, staring at the crystal as it spun slowly inside Sweetie’s levitation spell.

Sweetie nodded. “My Twilight.” She smiled warmly.

“So, this is really goodbye,” Scootaloo said, scratching the back of her head with her hoof. She looked down. “I’ll miss you.”

Sweetie shook her head. “You’ll still have your own Sweetie.”

“Yeah, but I will miss the one I got to know now.” The pegasus smirked, “You both are crazy, but she’s even more stubborn than you are.”

Sweetie laughed as she gave the pegasus a short hug. “She’s not, just give her time.”

Apple Bloom suddenly looked nervous. “Ah don’t want to lose a friend Ah just made.”

“We’ll always be friends,” Sweetie replied, hugging the earth pony for a few seconds. “We became best friends in my world, so I’m sure this will happen again.”

Sunny stepped up to the unicorn filly and gave her a quick hug. “It was really fun! If you visit again, we should start another prank war!”

Sweetie nodded as her eyes turned to the adults.

Twilight nodded at her, but then her eyes opened wide. “Oh, my, I completely forgot about this!”

She levitated the scroll that Spike had produced early and gave it to Sweetie. “It’s for you.”

The filly blinked and opened the scroll. She started reading, and as the words sank in, her eyes grew wider and wider. “I... I passed?!”

“That’s what it says!” Twilight nodded with a bright smile. “I’m sure they will be disappointed when you can’t make it but... be sure to show that to my other self when you see her again, okay?”

Sweetie nodded happily as she started jumping around Twilight. “I passed! I passed! Yes! Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes! I did it!”

Nightmare Moon chuckled and the filly stopped, looking around her, completely embarrassed. “Um, I think I should go.”

Sweetie’s horn lit up as her notebook materialized. She opened it and smoothed out the acceptance letter until it was flat, then fitted it between the pages. When she dismissed it, the scroll disappeared too. “I hope this works!” She said worriedly as she made the notebook reappear. The scroll was safely tucked between the pages.

Sweetie let out a sigh as she sent it away again.

“Well, this is it... Goodbye everypony...” She looked at the gathered group as her horn started glowing. When she was about to absorb the energy from the fragment she paused. “Nightmare Moon?”

The alicorn blinked. “What is it Sweetie?”

“What does Twilight taste like?”

The queen ignored the sputtering purple unicorn to her right as she smiled. “Like Blueberries. Very Tangy.”

“Oh. Good to know.”

“Wait, Sweetie!’ Twilight raised a hoof, but it was too late. The fragment shone with a bright purple light that enveloped the filly as it slowly faded away. The light remained for a few seconds and then it was gone.

Sweetie Belle slumped to the floor, confused and dazed. She shook her head. “What? Where am I?”

She looked up and noticed Nightmare Moon and a unicorn she didn’t know staring at her.


“I have one big concern over all of this,” the purple unicorn confessed to the group of ponies as she watched the unicorn filly scream.

“What?” Scootaloo asked.

“How am I going to explain all of this to Rarity?”



Inside a stage wagon in a small town in the middle of Equestria, a certain showmare stared at the scroll that had just popped out in front of her. She had a little dragon-fire contraption she used to keep in contact with a few ponies, but she hadn’t written anypony recently, and she had no idea why Nightmare Moon’s School for Gifted Unicorns would send her a letter.

Shrugging, she levitated the scroll and opened it, reading the contents aloud out of habit. “Dear Great and Powerful Trixie, as head supervisor of admissions, it is my pleasure to inform you that your apprentice, Sweetie Belle, has been accepted to study at our prestigious institution should she choose to do so. Although we are aware you are not in Ponyville anymore, and that your training of the young unicorn is over, we felt you would like to be one of the first to know of her success. Yours truly, ~Passing Grade”

Trixie stared at the scroll, re-reading it silently a couple of times. Finally, with a confused blink she let it rest on her desk. Only one thing crossed her mind.

What. The. Hay?


Somewhere, far beyond the worlds and universes, in the deep darkness, an eye opened, radiating with an inner light. It looked around the vastness around it until it seemed to spot something. Its will concentrated as a voice as old as a star rumbled.

“Desertus in me aeterno ardes et in obscuritas captatus est...”


Wherever it was she had arrived, it was dark.

Sweetie tried to make sense of where she was, and illuminated the area around her with her horn as her magic coursed through it. She finally recognized the place as her room in the Carousel Boutique. With a twist of magic, she lit up her lamp to see better, but things seemed odd... they appeared to have shrunken.

She looked around. Her bed was smaller, her desk... what were those posters doing there? And that tea set? It was all too small. She passed in front of her dresser, again, too small, giving it little thought and carried on to the door.

Then she stopped. She ran back to the dresser and looked in the mirror. Her eyes widened and her jaw fell slack.

The door to her room was suddenly kicked in as Rarity came in, wielding a poker in her magical grasp.

“How dare you break into my-” She blinked and dropped the poker, staring at Sweetie Belle. “Buh-” she sputtered. “Sweetie... you... but you’re dead!”

o.o.0.o.o End Chapter 2 o.o.0.o.o


Next Chapter: The Light Never Goes Out

Please remember to leave comments! Ideas, suggestions, criticism and corrections are all as valuable as (if not more valuable than) star ratings!


Trevor: I hate to have to type in rhyme, for it is annoying most of the time. I hope we managed to bring you some laughter, for that was the aim of this particular chapter. I’m loathe to have to bid you Adieu, but it’s time for me to leave chapter 2.

Editors & Proof-readers: understatedHyperbole, Magical Trevor & Fifth Alicorn, BrianBlessedPony & Cards Lafter


Sweetie’s eyes were stuck on the reflection in the mirror. Instead of her normal appearance, the mare that looked back at her was, well, taller. Her eyes were the same color, but her horn was longer and... her mane... and... she looked at her flank.

Aw. No Cutie Mark?!

“Who are you?!” Rarity’s voice was cracking with fury and pain as she glared at the mare in front of her, drawing Sweetie’s attention away from the mirror. “How dare you use her face? Do you not have any shame? No Respect? A sense of decency?!

Sweetie Belle stepped back, looking at Rarity in confusion. “S-sis? What’s wrong?”

“Don’t you dare call me that!” the elder unicorn shook her head, tears welling in her eyes and her voice breaking. Magic enveloped her horn, and soon the fire poker she had dropped earlier was being waved dangerously close to Sweetie’s face. “Why do you torture me? Who are you? Is Discord free again? Did he create you to punish me? Is this one of his sick little games?!

“I- I don’t know! Isn’t Discord a statue again?” Sweetie stumbled backwards as the tip of the poker hovered in front of her. “Sis... why are you acting like this?” she asked, shaking.

“Silence!” Rarity growled. “Don’t call me sister! My Sweetie is dead!” She glared at Sweetie Belle. “I never expected anypony would use her face to get to me...” Her eyes narrowed further. “Is this an attempt to kill the Elements?”

“Kill the Elements?” Sweetie blinked. “But... why would I kill my own sister?” She shook her head violently. “Or my teacher! If something happened to Twilight again...” She shuddered. “And do you know what Scootaloo and Apple Bloom would do to me if I did something to hurt Rainbow Dash or Applejack?

Rarity shook her head slowly. Her eyes took in the figure in front of her, the coat, the mane... “Y-you have no cutie mark... my Sweetie had her cutie mark.”

Sweetie looked back at her flank, the act reminding her that she was no longer a filly. She looked older, as old as Rarity herself. “This... is so strange...” she gulped. “Sis, this... I don’t know how to explain this. I am Sweetie Belle, just not...” she took a deep breath. “Just not the Sweetie Belle from your world. I’m looking for something, and once I find it, I’ll be gone. I promise...”

Rarity looked at the cowering mare doubtfully, but slowly lowered the poker. “Why should I believe you? We have made many powerful enemies throughout the years, some of them would be able to recreate my sister-” she paused. “If you say you are Sweetie Belle, why should I believe you?”

Sweetie was scared, and her eyes showed it. “Because...” she whispered. “Because I wouldn’t know what else to do... I don’t have anypony to help me...”

“You really don’t know...” The fashion designer shook her head, walking around her ‘sister.’ “I don’t know whether to believe you or not... your voice is the same, your eyes are so much more innocent...”

“Where I come from... I haven’t even earned my cutie mark yet,” Sweetie said with a small smile and a slight nod. “Apple Bloom and Scootaloo haven’t either.” She looked at her much bigger body. “It looks like growing up doesn’t get me one automatically...”

Rarity sat down, her energy drained. “You’re young... so young... but how- why, do you look older now?”

“I don’t know!” Sweetie exclaimed. “I’ve been traveling from world to world trying to find fragments of Twilight... I think one of them will take me home. I’ve only been to two more other  worlds before, but I have never been an adult before...”

Sweetie fell silent as Rarity slowly stretched a hoof to touch Sweetie’s face. The filly remained in the same position as her sister’s hoof brushed her mane and then slowly, hesitantly, drew her into a warm hug.

“Sweetie... I’ve missed you.”

“You- you’re not angry?” the younger unicorn asked, but her question went unanswered as Rarity started crying. “Sis?”

These weren’t the dramatic tears or the overdone whining... this was real. Rarity was a mess; her eyes puffy, her nose snotty, her mane in disarray. She sobbed and let the tears flow, soaking Sweetie’s neck and holding the younger unicorn tighter. She didn’t answer at all, she just couldn’t. She cried. And wept.  And sobbed. Sweetie held her tight, confused and a bit scared by the muffled “I’m sorry...” she could hear her sister whisper over and over. After a few moments, tears started to run down Sweetie’s eyes as well and she held her sister tighter. She didn’t know why, but she couldn’t stop herself.

They remained like that for a long time. When Rarity was able to pull back and run a hoof over her eyes, Sweetie sniffed as she looked at her sister. “Sis... what happened?”

Rarity coughed as she slowly stood up. “I...” she sighed. “Let us go downstairs... we can discuss things over tea.

Sweetie nodded and followed her sister out of her room and down the stairs. As they walked, Sweetie looked around, curiously. The building looked older; it was as well maintained as ever, but here and there the paint looked new. There was also no sign of Opalescence. Usually, the white cat would be purring around Rarity at the slightest excuse.

There were many little things that would draw her attention, but it wasn’t until she saw the windows that she noticed they were completely different from what she remembered. They still looked great with the design of the boutique, as Rarity wouldn’t have it otherwise, but they were different. The frames were thinner, for one.

“Sweetie,” Rarity called, startling the younger unicorn, who realized she had been standing at the bottom of the stairs and staring at the room. Sweetie Belle quickly trotted to the table and sat down.

“Sorry, sis, the place looks different...” she trailed off when she noticed that Rarity was levitating a small envelope before her with a sad look in her eyes.

“I-” Rarity closed her eyes as she floated the note towards her younger sister, depositing it on the table in front of the younger unicorn. “I want you to read this... and then I’ll explain.”

Sweetie stared at the envelope. It had been opened and it looked really old. It had only one word written on it. ‘Rarity’

For some reason, she felt a sense of dread coming from the single piece of paper. This is silly... it’s just a note... Sweetie looked up at Rarity, who was dressed in a light blue nightgown with matching cuffs around her fetlocks. She looks so fragile... and tired. Sweetie looked back to the envelope. The slightly yellowed piece of paper seemed to carry an ominous weight to it. Slowly, her horn lit up as she carefully levitated the envelope and opened it, sliding out the simple note inside.

Still fearing the words inside, she forced herself to unfold the note and read.


By the time you read this, It will have happened. Please, do not be sad, and do not do anything stupid. I love you, and I always have done, and always will do. Even through every argument we’ve had, I love you. Live your Generous life to its fullest, no matter how long it will be.

Your Loving Sister

Sweetie Belle’

Sweetie slowly lowered the note until it gently lay on top of the table. She stared at it, uncomprehendingly, trying to wrap her mind around the confusing feelings of fear and pity that the simple words had evoked in her.

“I found that a week after you-” Rarity whispered, her voice breaking through Sweetie’s scattered thoughts. The elder unicorn shook her head, unwilling to complete her earlier sentence. “I watched you grow, earn your cutie mark, discover what truly made you happy... I saw you be happy, and touch the hearts of so many...”

Sweetie’s eyes drifted downwards to Rarity’s cuffed hooves, which she self-consciously hid under the table.

“I am immortal, Sweetie,” Rarity said, locking eyes with Sweetie Belle. “We all are... the Elements, I mean.” She shook her head, turning away, not daring to look Sweetie in the eye any longer, lest she break into tears again. “It’s been two hundred years since we freed Princess Luna from Nightmare Moon,” the designer continued. “All six of us have lived our lives since then... we’ve lost so much...”

The pain in Rarity’s voice was so strong... Sweetie Belle had a dawning, horrifying feeling of where this was going, and she didn’t want to bring that much pain to her sister.

Rarity sighed. “But... when I lost you... Sweetie, I-”

“What was I like?” Sweetie Belle interrupted. “Did I have any foals? Who did I marry? What was my cutie mark?”

Rarity stopped and chuckled. “I won’t tell you your cutie mark, or who and if you married...” the elder unicorn said, laughing a bit at the pout her younger sister immediately developed. “But, you became a singer... you sang a great many beautiful songs, about love, about life...” She looked down. “About loss.”

Sweetie’s eyes were wide. “I became a singer? Was I famous?”

Rarity choked a bit, sniffling as she chuckled. “Yes, yes you were, Sweetie.”

The clock marked the time with a short cheerful melody, and both mares looked at it in surprise.

“Oh, my...” Rarity gasped. “Look at the time! We should head to bed... we can talk more in the morning.”

Sweetie Belle yawned, barely remembering to cover her mouth with her hoof. “Y-yeah, I haven’t slept since... I don’t even remember.”

The two mares slowly made their way upstairs. “Rarity?”

The elder mare stopped. “Yes, Sweetie?”

“Could you...” She blushed a bit. “Can I spend the night with you?” She looked down, embarrassed.

Rarity blinked and chuckled. “Aren’t you a bit old for that, Sweetie?”

The younger mare nodded, slowly turning towards her room. “I- I guess. I just... you...”

It’ll be okay,” Rarity said, running her hoof through her sister’s mane. “Thank you for worrying, Sweetie, I’ll still be here tomorrow.” She looked away for a second. “Always.”

Sweetie nodded and hugged her sister. “Good night, Rarity... I’ll see you in the morning.”

The two mares went into their rooms, but unlike any other night in their lives, they could not bring themselves to close the doors.

As Rarity lay down in bed, she sighed, looking at the other room. Slowly her horn started glowing as feather, ink and parchment floated to her.

Down the hall, Sweetie laid down in bed, silent. Her thoughts were a whirlwind. She had never thought something like this would happen. Her thoughts turned to Rarity, who had seemed so... lost.

At least she has her friends, right?

It was then that she realized that, if she had died of old age... then Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were gone too. The thought hit her like a ton of bricks. She could only stare at the ceiling as tears trickled down her cheeks.

Even if they were from another world, their absence was something that she could not fathom. What had their lives been like? Had they married? Had foals?

She sniffed as she closed her eyes.

Maybe tomorrow she would have a chance to ask Rarity... or maybe even Rainbow Dash or Applejack...



Her sister’s voice roused the apple farmer from where she was overseeing her workers sorting and putting the harvested apples away into neatly stacked boxes. “Apple Bloom? What’s goin’ on?”

“Applejack! Help me!” the younger mare shouted.

The elder earth pony was already running towards the orchard, where Apple Bloom’s screams were coming from. She arrived in time; her sister was being pushed towards a deep ravine by a dark green magical field of some sort. Apple Bloom was struggling to stay in place.

Thinking quickly, she tried to lasso her sister, but her rope felt short. She wasn’t going to make it!

“Sis! Help me! Ah’m gonna fall!” the younger earth pony shouted in horror as her rear hooves slipped on the edge of the ravine, sending bits of debris scattering into the darkness.

“Who’s doin’ this?” the apple farmer turned around, looking for the unicorn responsible. Then she saw her. The purple and soft pink mane, the white coat. “Sweetie Belle?” she gasped. “What’re you doin’? That there is Apple Bloom! She’s yer friend!

A pair of green, slitted eyes locked with Applejack’s own green eyes. “I don’t have friends, Applejack.” The unicorn’s horn flashed and the apple farmer turned in horror to see her sister shoved into the ravine.

“Applejack!” Apple Bloom shouted desperately.

“Apple Bloom!” Applejack shouted back as she ran up to the ravine and looked down. It was so dark, she couldn’t see anything. Her sister was completely gone.

“Why did you do this?” she shouted, tears of anger forming in her eyes as she turned around to confront Sweetie Belle. She took a startled step back when she found herself snout to snout with the white unicorn. Her hooves scrambled for support as she started sliding into the ravine.

“I needed her to die so I could live!” Sweetie Belle grinned, showing rows of fangs, leaning forward for a snake-like tongue to lick Applejack’s cheek.

Applejack stepped back and lost her balance, screaming as she fell into the darkness...

...and landed on the floor next to her bed.

“Oooh...” she moaned as she slowly stood up and blinked at her room. Shaking her head, she looked outside the window.

Celestia hadn’t risen the sun yet, but Luna’s moon wasn’t in sight either, the orchard simply stretched into the horizon in the fogy morning.

“Fifth time this week...” she sighed as she left her room to get ready for the day. She knew she would get no more sleep that night. Tired as she might be, there was work to be done.

As she left her room, her eyes strayed to the chest containing Apple Bloom’s ribbon. She caught her breath, remembering the dream, but the sturdy earth pony shook her head, put on her hat and stepped out.


The sunlight seeping through the window woke her up. Rarity groaned and looked around her room.

“A dream...” she sighed, closing her eyes. “Wonderful and horrible at the same time...” she sniffed. Then sniffed again. “What-”

The fire alarm started ringing.

“A fire?! But... how!?” she rolled out of bed, barely even able to put her hooves down in time, and scrambled down the stairs. “Did I leave the oven on again?” Her hoof slipped on the stair, but Rarity caught herself on the rail just in time. She looked up at the kitchen in horror just as the room-filling smoke began to waft out the now open window. She stared as the purple and pink-maned unicorn in the kitchen groaned in annoyance.

“I hate it when that happens!” Sweetie Belle sighed heavily, her attention focused on the smoldering skillet as she levitated it off the stove. “Just take your eyes off it for one second, and there it goes-”

“Sweetie!” Rarity gasped, the memory of the previous night crashing down on her like cold water. “You- you’re really here!”

Sweetie turned around, eyes wide. “I’m sorry sis! I took off my eyes off the last pancake for just a second and-”

Sweetie feel silent as Rarity’s hooves suddenly wrapped around her. “It’s okay, we can eat out...”

Returning the hug, Sweetie smiled. “It’s fine, sis, that was just the last of the batch. The others are fine.”

Rarity blinked and looked around the kitchen. “But... what others, darling?”

With a grin, Sweetie opened the oven and levitated a plateful of pancakes out. “Princess Celestia’s favorite pancakes!” she proudly announced. “Spike taught me how to make them!”

Rarity’s eyes filled with sadness even as a small smile played on her lips. “I see. Spike was always a fine chef.” She chuckled as she quickly turned around. “Come, let’s set up the table.”

The two worked in silence, enjoying each other’s company despite the feelings boiling within them.

Every time Rarity looked at Sweetie, the long buried memories would float to the surface.

“Sis! I got the part! I get to sing in Manehattan!”

Rarity carefully put a plate down on top of the light green tablecloth.

“I don’t know, does this dress make me look old?”

The forks and knives floated out of their drawer.

“He’s such a gentlecolt, and he invited me to have dinner at Le Bridle! I love fusion cuisine!”

Rarity carefully levitated a pair of glasses, aware that Sweetie was taking out the orange juice.

“Sis, this... I wrote this for Spike... do you think... would you listen to it?”

The silverware was now in place; she had done it mechanically, not even thinking about it.

“He left me... why did he leave me? He said he loved me!”

Rarity sighed. “How do you measure a lifetime?” she whispered quietly to herself.

“Did you say something, sis?” Sweetie asked.

“Oh, nothing important, dear.”

“Oh...” Sweetie smiled hesitantly as the pair sat down. “Rarity?”

“Yes dear?”

“Did you... did you ever marry? Have foals of your own?”

“No...” Rarity sighed. “There was never time with work, Sweetie, you know how I get caught with designing new clothes... and as for family and such... I watched you from afar, living that part vicariously through you...” she trailed off when she noticed her younger sister staring blankly at her. “It means I enjoyed watching you live your life...”

“Ooooh... I see.” Sweetie Belle said as she caught on.

Rarity chuckled as she tried one of the pancakes. Her eyes widened. It was indeed Spike’s recipe. “This... this is amazing, Sweetie! Oh, it brings back so many memories!”

The younger unicorn giggled. “What? Doesn’t Spike make them anymore?”

Rarity drew in a sharp breath. “Sweetie... Spike is... he’s no longer with us.”

“Oh...” Sweetie blinked. “Did he go join the other dragons? Poor Twilight! She must be so lonely without her number one assistant!

“N-no... Sweetie...” the elder unicorn stammered then collected herself. “Sweetie... Spike... he passed away some years ago.”

All the blood drained from Sweetie’s face. “W-what? But...” As the memories of the little dragon came to her she felt tears forming in her eyes. “But... Spike he... he helped me so much when I became Twilight’s apprentice! He taught me how to look through through the book code and the bookshelves to find what I needed, how to make tea and pancakes... He-” she cut herself off, head hanging low as she sniffled softly. “How did it happen?”

As Rarity slowly began to explain, Sweetie’s mind was busy thinking about her own Spike.

I haven’t thought of him in a while... could he have died when I destroyed the lab?

Sweetie’s thoughts seemed to reflect on her face as Rarity slowly stopped talking and observed her sister’s darkening expression.

I don’t remember how strong the explosion was... but- it seemed strong... could the library have survived it? Did Spike also get trapped in the spell? Could he also be lost in other worlds?

“Sweetie?” her sister’s voice interrupted her thoughts.

“Huh?” Sweetie shook her head. “I- I’m sorry sis. I...”

“Tell me about it,” Rarity said, and her look brooked no argument.

Sweetie sighed. “I’m afraid something might have happened to my Spike...” Slowly she sank down into her seat, pancakes forgotten. “When the lab exploded... Spike was in the other room, right next to it... he could be suffering through the same thing I am. What if he’s lost? What... what if he’s dead, and it’s because of me?” Her eyes slowly raised until they met Rarity’s. “Sis... what if I killed Spike?”

Rarity felt cold. What could she tell her sister? She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Sweetie... I  really don’t know what to tell you, but I doubt the explosion would have gotten to him... Twilight’s tree is very old, its roots are strong and thick... and Spike is also very resistant...” she trailed off, remembering the dragon’s mortality all too well. But it seemed to work, as the younger unicorn looked up, sniffing.

“I- I hope so... I think so too...” Sweetie Belle looked unsure. “I’m just afraid, sis... This is the longest I’ve ever been away from home by myself...”

“Oh, Sweetie...” Rarity sighed as she touched her sister’s hoof. “I know how you feel. But you are not alone, and you should know that... for every world you visit, you’ll always have me. Always.”

Sweetie Belle’s small smile played around the corners of her mouth.

Rarity nodded. “Now, let us eat these wonderful pancakes before they get too cold!”

“Oh! Right!”

Watching her sister start to eat, Rarity smiled.

After the pair finished eating and cleaning up, they stepped outside, admiring the clear skies and warm weather.

You were right, sis. This is too good a day to waste inside!”

As they trotted down the street, Sweetie took her first look of future Ponyville. The town itself looked pretty similar to what it was before. She could see the Sugarcube Corner, the City Hall, and a little behind it, looking taller than before, Twilight’s Library.

“Wow, this place hasn’t changed much in two hundred years!” Sweetie exclaimed, as she looked back at Carousel Boutique. “I expected flying machines and teleportation devices.”

“You think?” Rarity chuckled. “Look around and tell me what else looks familiar?”

Sweetie followed her sister’s advice. “Heeey... that pony over there looks familiar... and... and that one and... wait... those eyes...”

Rarity’s smile only grew as Sweetie’s eyes found more and more ponies that looked somehow familiar. “Want to guess who’s who?”

“But...” the younger unicorn turned around. “There’s so many... that one has Pinkie Pie’s hair... and that one looks just like she does, but the colors are wrong and... just... how many...”

Rarity leaned in close and whispered in Sweetie’s ear.


“It’s really fun!” Pinkie Pie said. “But it requires some preparation!”

Both Rarity and Sweetie immediately scrambled back from the suddenly appearing pink earth pony, holding their hooves to their chests.

“P-Pinkie!” Sweetie stammered. “Don’t do that!”

“Why? It’s fun!” the earth pony replied, bouncing up to her. “Hey... You look familiar!” she gasped, then looked towards Rarity, who was slowly approaching Sweetie. “Oh. My. Celestia! Rarity! You had a filly and you never told us?! Wow! I mean... how were you able to keep this a... I mean... WOW! I missed all her birthdays!”

“But Pinkie... she-”

“And she looks, what? Eighteen? So I have to organize a party to make up for eighteen years! Or maybe eighteen parties!” Pinkie Pie turned around to leave.

“No!” Rarity shouted, drawing the attention of several ponies passing by, but having the desired effect of getting Pinkie to freeze in place. “No...” the fashion designer repeated softly. “This is not my daughter, Pinkie Pie. It’s Sweetie Belle.”

The smile slowly faded from Pinkie’s face.

“Oh...” she looked at Sweetie, then back to Rarity. “Can I talk to Sweetie for a moment? In private?”

Before Rarity could reply, the pink pony had dragged the younger unicorn away and behind the Carousel Boutique.

“Okay, I want to know now what you are doing and why you are doing it!” Pinkie demanded with an unusually intense look in her eyes.

“Uh...” Sweetie shuffled back a bit. “I... really am Sweetie Belle, but I came from another dimension and appeared in a full adult body in the middle of the night inside the Boutique and Rarity is going to help me get back home.

During the explanation the pink pony’s eyes had narrowed, her form towering over Sweetie’s, who had slowly shrunk down under the intensity of Pinkie’s glare.

Then, just as suddenly, Pinkie Pie’s eyes shone happily.

“Okie dokie lokie!” Pinkie said, with a big smile. “I just had to double check! Welcome to Ponyville! Again!” The pink pony started bouncing around Sweetie. “You know what this calls for? A party!” She stopped suddenly with a surprised look of realization in her face. “Oh! Oh! But it should be a surprise for everypony!”

Sweetie smiled. “I love parties!”

“I remember!” Pinkie laughed. “Okie dokie! I’ll see you tonight!”

Sweetie watched the earth pony bounce away and sighed.

“Well, that went well,” Rarity said.

“Aaaaaah!” Sweetie shouted in alarm, jumping up into the air.

Rarity followed Sweetie up with her eyes, then followed her descent until she landed next to her.

“Why would you do that?!” Sweetie moaned. “First, Nightmare Moon, then Pinkie Pie, and now you!”

“Nightmare Moon?” Rarity blinked. “Just what sort of ponies have you been hanging around with, Sweetie?”

“You’d be completely horrified,” the younger unicorn sighed.

Rarity chuckled, her eyes softening as she looked at her sister. “Come, let’s show you around.”

Sweetie slowly followed her sister, barely taking in her surroundings. “Hey, sis?”

The fashion designer stopped. “Yes, Sweetie?”

“Back home... you didn’t use to want to hang out that much... how come now-”

Sweetie cut herself off as Rarity’s shoulders sagged and she motioned with her head towards a bench overlooking the park.

Once they’d sat down, Rarity began slowly. “Sweetie... have you ever heard the expression ‘we never know what we have until it’s gone’?”

“Yes,” Sweetie Belle replied as she thought back to her home... her real home.

If Spike had survived, would he have told everypony what happened? Would her sister hate her for killing her best friend?

Unbidden her mind conjured up a scene...

The land was gray, the wind cold and the sun setting... and there stood Rarity in front of three graves...

Tears slowly accumulated in her eyes. “Yes...” she repeated in a whisper. “I know the expression.”

Rarity’s smile was a bit pained as her hoof and foreleg went over Sweetie’s shoulders. “I know it too well... but back then, I didn’t... I let so many opportunities pass... I had work, or I had to meet somepony, or...” She looked down, ashamed. “I simply didn’t feel like it.”

Sweetie remained silent, head hung low.

“It wasn’t that I disliked you...” Rarity found herself a bit defensive. “I loved you more than anything... It’s just... I was being stubborn, and I just didn’t appreciate just how much fun we could have together...”

“Like at the Sisterhooves’ Social?” the younger unicorn ventured.

Rarity looked at Sweetie in confusion, then barked out a laugh. “Oh, yes, the Sisterhooves Social!” She chuckled. “That was enlightening... I never told you just how horrified I was that you would really hate me!”

“I was pretty mad,” Sweetie admitted, remembering. “I really thought you didn’t want me around... but, you really made up for it! I never expected you to take Applejack’s place!”

The pair shared a soft laugh.

“I still can't believe, after all that, I haven't earned my cutie mark yet.” Sweetie sighed.

Rarity chuckled. “Oh, my... Sweetie, don't you remember what we used to say to you and the other Crusaders?”

“That we have to be patient and that we’ll find out eventually.” Sweetie recited in a practised monotone. “But sis, I've done so much!”

“You just haven’t found it yet... you worry too much, Sweetie” Rarity said.

“I just wish I knew what my talent was.”

The older unicorn smiled. “Do you remember that ball I gave you, so long ago?”

Sweetie blinked. “I...”

“When I was about your age...” Rarity blinked and coughed. “Well, the age you really are I mean, I got one just like it. It was a gift from father while I was trying to figure out what to do after getting my cutie mark.”

“You didn't know?” Sweetie asked, raising an eyebrow. “I always thought that from the moment you got your mark you knew...”

Her elder sister laughed. “Oh, no, Sweetie, it wasn't that simple.” She leaned her head to the side as she remembered. “I did a lot of things and learned a lot of trades that ultimately made me who I am, but I didn't know what my talent was...”

“But you knew from the moment you found the gems that you had the talent to find them right?” Sweetie insisted. “I don't even know what I'm good at-”

Sweetie, you're missing the point,” Rarity interrupted. “There is much more to a Cutie Mark than just having it appear on your flank.”

“There is?”

“Well of course! A Cutie Mark reflects your talent, but what you do with that talent is a completely different matter.”

“Ooooh...” Sweetie blinked. “But what does that have to do with the ball you gave me? I thought you were just being nice.”

Rarity shook her head. “There's more to that ball than it being just a toy, Sweetie.” She smiled a bit sadly. “You never did understand it... shortly after I gave it to you, you took it to the Crusader's head quarters and it got lost.”

Sweetie touched her sister's shoulder with a hoof. “Mine isn't.” When Rarity looked up at her, the younger unicorn smiled. “I still have it. I never took it to the treehouse. Apple Bloom told me it might get ruined by one of Scootaloo's crazy ideas, so I kept it in my room.”

Rarity looked at her sister as if she had grown a second head. “Really?”

Sweetie nodded, looking up towards the sky. “Sometimes... I just hold that ball and lay on top of it... and I wonder... what will I be? Will I be a designer like you? Or a scholar like Twilight? Maybe one of Scootaloo's crazy stunts will backfire and I'll be a fire-fighter...”

Sweetie felt her sister's foreleg wrap around her as Rarity drew her into a hug. “Just keep that ball with you for a while, okay?” Rarity asked. “Even after you find your Cutie Mark.”

“I will, sis,” Sweetie assured her as they separated.

“I know you're really eager to get your mark, Sweetie, but I promise you that you won't be disappointed when you finally do. Just don't do anything too crazy.”

Sweetie giggled. “My friends are too crazy for me to keeping things easy.”

“Do you remember that time that you and Scootaloo and Apple Bloom stayed over for the first night at the Boutique...” Rarity chuckled, “And I couldn’t handle you three and make more gold silk, so I asked Fluttershy to take care of you?”

Sweetie smiled, “Yeah, I remember that night. Did Fluttershy ever tell you that we almost got turned to stone by a Cockatrice?”

“No!” Rarity’s eyes went wide. She shook her head. “You used to get into all sorts of trouble, dear.”

“Like Diamond Tiara’s cute-ceañera?”

“You did the right thing, I had never been more proud of you!”

“Thanks, sis!”

Rarity looked at the sky, her eyes becoming distant. “Or... do you remember that time in Canterlot, after your first singing lesson... you thought you were awful and ran right out of the hall!”


“You had us all worried, we didn’t know where you were and we didn’t really know where to look for you... when it turned out that you had met with Fleur and she had taken you to drink some tea and talk, I was so relieved...”

“Rarity, I...”

“And then, do you remember that time that you went out with Fancypants’ son?” Rarity laughed, caught in the moment. “That was priceless! You two looked so adorable! It’s a shame it didn’t work out in the end, but, just between the two of us, Fleur was already planning the wedding after the first date!” Rarity chuckled. “Oh, how I miss Fleur; she was always so involved...”

“Yes, but-” Sweetie Belle tried to interrupt, but her sister did not hear, Rarity’s eyes filled with both fondness and pain.

I haven’t seen her for three days... Sweetie thought. How would I feel after a hundred or more years?

“Oh, and your first night at the Canterlot Opera! Sweetie that was simply... sublime...” Rarity sighed, eyes shining with remembrance. “And your rendition of the aria in ‘Claro de Luna’...”

“I’m glad you liked it, sis...” Sweetie whispered, resting her head on Rarity’s shoulder as the older unicorn remembered a life the younger had yet to live. She watched the town hustle and bustle around them as she listened to her sister.

...and then there was that duet with...”

Rarity’s coat was warm and soft, and soon Sweetie was looking at the world through half lidded eyes.

The shampoo Rarity had used was not something she was familiar with... and yet... it held small tinges that reminded her of Aloe’s original creations.

The world began to blur.

Some buildings slowly faded away; others changed their colors to resemble their previous paint jobs. A couple of ponies shimmered in her view and turned into Lyra and Bon-Bon; a prancing colt became Snails and the little filly next to him became Twist.

Sweetie let out a soft sigh as Rarity...talked about something involving her and a violinist.

“I miss home, sis. I miss you.”


Sweetie stared in amazement at the Ponyville Train Station.

It was... different. Quite different from what she remembered.

The train station from the past had been a quaint little building with nothing more than a single platform: a true small-town station.

This... this was on a whole other scale.

She could see multiple lines fading into the distance in all directions, the station itself now comprised of eight platforms.

There was the main line for Canterlot, of course, and the seldom-used line to Appleloosa. But now tracks to Fillydelphia and Manehattan had been added as well, with several stops in towns Sweetie had never heard of.

Rarity smiled at her sister’s surprise. “Want to guess how many trains pass through this station on a daily basis?”

Sweetie slowly shook her head as she took in what had once been nothing more than a simple, but functional structure. Once, a simple entrance had been enough; ponies would cross over to either side via a simple bridge. Now... she could see at least three different entrances. The bridge had been replaced by a long, single-floor building that extended over the eight platforms, overlooking them while magical screens announced the inbound and outbound trains, their destinations and trip durations.

She followed Rarity in a daze to where the ticket booth waited; the pair falling in behind an elderly couple. Sweetie couldn’t tear her eyes away from the work that had been put into the place. It had the characteristic Ponyville architecture charm- eccentric designs for the pillars that held the building above them. There was even a whole wall that seemed to have been taken directly from the Sugarcube Corner...

“Pinkie donated quite a bit to the station,” Rarity explained, following her sister’s gaze. “And so did Applejack and I.”

Sweetie looked around more, noticing that there were themes to some of the platforms. One of them had apple-based designs, with the shelter looking almost like the barn in Sweet Apple Acres.

The Sugarcube Corner platform seemed to have been pulled right out of a fairy tale. Candy canes stood proudly on either side of the staircase leading to the station above, and there was a small pastry stand selling the bakery’s famous cupcakes. Even the platform itself seemed to be made out of gingerbread.

The next was a tribute to Fluttershy’s home and her woodland friends. A small garden had been grown in a line down the middle of the platform, with old tree trunks used for seating; small planted trees gave the whole platform a sense of serenity that contrasted sharply with the constant flow of ponies.

The white platform with purple and blue arches decorating it as well as tastefully selected ribbons clearly indicated Rarity’s influence.

Platform four had a Wonderbolt uniform-like quality to it, with a large depiction of Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark. It was streamlined and slightly aggressive looking. Sweetie’s eyes turned to look at the next platform.

“It used to be very functional and had no decorations at all,” Rarity whispered. “That is until... the night before Twilight left, the statue appeared... we all put something into it... but, it was going to be in the plaza... Twilight... she thought it would fit better here, where ponies came and went.”

Twilight’s platform was simple. It was made of wood resembling a tree, and there was only one decoration. A stone statue of a young dragon, reading a book while seated on a bunch of real gems. On one of his claws he held a half eaten apple, an owl had perched on top of his head gazing down at the book. Just looking at it and the small smile on the statue’s muzzle made Sweetie’s eyes water.

The booth pony coughed politely and both mares turned to look at her, not realizing that they were holding up the line.

“Sorry!” Rarity quickly spoke up, a trembling smile following soon. She looked at the booth pony for a second. “Oh, you’re one of Fluttershy’s grandchildren... Apple Breeze, wasn’t it?”

“Yes ma’am.” The pegasus smiled. “And it is always nice to see you, but we are holding up the line...”

“Oh, I do apologize. Two to Canterlot, please.”

Would you prefer a private-”

“No...” Rarity interrupted. “We’ll take regular seats.”

Apple Breeze nodded and after a few moments passed them their tickets. “Platform 5 in ten minutes.”

“Thank you!”

Rarity led the way, her eyes settling on several familiar sights as memories billowed to the surface.

Sweetie sighed. Sis... why are you so... alone?

Every stop Rarity made, either to greet a pony or just to contemplate, was laden with nostalgia.

“Sis?” Sweetie ventured. “What are you thinking about?”

Rarity blinked, shaking her head a little. “Oh, Sweetie... I- I was just remembering the time I sent you on your way to Canterlot... it was such a long time ago...”

“I must have been excited...” Sweetie Belle murmured, ignoring an odd look she got from a passerby.

Rarity laughed. “Oh, you were! I took you to the same platform we’re going to... you were very excited at first.” Rarity smiled as she looked down at the rails. “Then, when the train arrived, you didn’t want to get on.”

Sweetie blinked. “What?”

“Well, you just got so nervous!” the older unicorn said, laughing a bit. “It was a completely new experience for you! And so far away from home... and going to the most prestigious school for musicians!”

Sweetie chuckled. “It sounds like a difficult school to get into.”

Rarity nodded, pride shining in her eyes. “It is! The auditions are almost invitation-only, but you managed to get there by yourself. You even turned down Octavia and Fancypants when they offered their help!”

Rarity took a deep, proud breath as she guided the younger mare to their platform.

“It seems silly to get nervous after I managed to get in,” Sweetie said, raising an eyebrow.

“True.” Rarity nodded. “But you were going away from home for a significant amount of time for the very first time...” Her eyes settled on Sweetie, regarding her fondly. “You looked adorable. I’d made you a dress...” Slowly the blue eyes began to shine with tears. “It- it was simple, really. White and fluffy... it had adorable emeralds to bring out your eyes...” The fashionista shuddered, looking away.


“I’m alright...” Rarity sighed, still not looking back at Sweetie. “It’s just... so many memories,” she closed her eyes. “That was just the first time I sent you to Canterlot... but not the last.” Rarity walked up and down the platform. “Every time was different, but... I was always sad to see you go... always ecstatic when you came back.”

Sweetie nodded, her eyes following her sibling.

“I’ve never forgotten... when we found out that we would live for so long I... I felt that every time you left might really be the last time...” Her eyes went back to Sweetie. “And now you’re here... after so long, after-” she sighed. “After I did what I did... I-” she stopped, looking down at her cuffs.

Slowly Sweetie walked up to her sister and nuzzled her, letting Rarity rest her head on her shoulder.

The pair remained there, silently waiting for the train to arrive.


Sweetie watched the landscape speed past as she lay on the comfortable seat of the train. Her thoughts, however, were not on the scenery.

What should I do? she asked herself. Rarity really misses me, but I have to find Twilight’s crystal... She sighed. I don’t want to leave her alone, but... what about my Rarity? Is she feeling lonely? Does she even know what happened to me?

The motion of the train slowly calmed her nerves. Her eyelids grew heavy as the world beyond the window slid past.

Rarity stood, impassive, watching over three graves.

“Rarity, sugarcube...” Applejack walked up to her, slowing down to a stop at her side, looking at the tombstones. “The other’s are waitin’... you’ve been here all day. It ain’t good fer ya.”

Rarity said nothing. She simply continued looking down at the three mounds. Absently, her magic righted a small white flower that had been stirred by the wind from its position at the side of the others.

Applejack looked down, her eyes tearing up before she forced herself to look straight at Rarity’s face. “I-”

“She was all I had left, Applejack,” Rarity interrupted. She didn’t look away from the grave. “All the family I had left after mom and dad...” her eyes went to the other two graves before closing her eyes.

“Ah know, but-”

“You still have Big Macintosh, Apple Bloom and Granny Smith!” Rarity snapped, turning to look at the apple farmer in rage. “What do you know about being left alone?”

“Ah know what loss feels like, Rarity!” Applejack retorted after taking a surprised step back. “And ah can tell ya-”

“But you are not alone!” the fashion designer snapped, her angry eyes slowly turning to despair. “She wasn’t supposed to go before I did! She was my younger sister...” she coughed as her knees gave way and she fell down in front of the graves. “She was supposed to discover her special talent long before anything like this happened!” She started shaking. “She was supposed to do great things... she was su-supposed to...”

Applejack said nothing; she simply nuzzled her friend. “Come on. Please. Let’s go with the others... we all are mournin’, Rarity... and we are here for y’all if you let us.”

Rarity nodded as she slowly stood with the farmer’s help. Slowly, the pair turned around and started walking away from the graves. Rarity stopped and looked back over her shoulder and finally broke into gasping sobs.

“Sweetie...” a warm voice slowly penetrated the clouds in her mind. The graveyard faded away as a sudden lurch made the young unicorn’s eyes open.

She blinked, slowly looking around until her eyes settled on the mare to her side.

Rarity’s eyes were warm as she gazed at her, a soft smile in her lips. She carefully moved a stray strand of mane from Sweetie’s face. “We’re almost there.”

Sweetie nodded as she yawned, but her thoughts went back to the dream, now nothing more than a few snippets and half-remembered images.

Why do I suddenly feel so sad? she wondered.

“Okay sis...” she stretched and smiled back at the mare next to her.

I’m so glad I’m with Rarity... I hardly got to spend any time with her before...

Her thoughts were interrupted, however, when Canterlot came into view.

It had changed quite a bit. Although there was enough to remind Sweetie of her travels to Canterlot with her sister, the city had expanded. Before, the train would arrive at the edge of the city, but now there were buildings of all sorts around the train station.

        The train station itself hadn’t changed much, even if the city had. As they walked out of the train, Rarity motioned for Sweetie to follow her.


The walk to the castle was pretty much the same. Canterlot had existed for a long time and, if things kept going the way they were right now, then it would continue to do so for thousands more. Sweetie had once seen an old drawing of what Canterlot might have looked like several thousand years ago. She was surprised to see a town much smaller than Ponyville. There had been no castle there, but a large wooden structure that had served as a hall for leaders to meet with either Princess... through the years it had grown into the Canterlot she had known... and again, in a brief two hundred years, it had expanded. She shuddered to think how it would look in six hundred years or even a thousand... Her eyes returned to the mare walking next to her, who would, most likely, see that change.

I wonder what's bothering Rarity? Sweetie thought. She’s hardly said anything since we arrived, and it’s already been ten minutes! In all my life, she's only been this quiet when she's asleep!

She decided to probe the waters. “Sis? I've been meaning to ask you... how's Tom doing these days?”

“Hmm?” Rarity didn't look at her. “Oh, he's doing fine dear. I just had dinner with him the other day.”

“With Tom?”

Rarity blinked and stopped then looked down at her sister. “I'm sorry dear, I'm afraid I wasn't paying attention. What were we talking about?”

“Tom... and how you had dinner with him the other day.” Sweetie gave her sister a look.

“Oh...” Rarity grinned sheepishly.

“Sis, is something wrong?”

Rarity sighed. “I... I'll tell you when we get to Twilight, okay, Sweetie?”

Sweetie looked away dejectedly. “Fine.”

The pair made their way in silence once more towards their objective.

Canterlot Castle was huge. It remained the same as far as Sweetie could tell, with Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns and the Royal Library being part of the Castle, making the structure even larger.

The older unicorn led Sweetie to one of the entrances. A guard looked up, ready to stop them, but hesitated as he recognized Rarity. After a second, he moved aside, letting them pass. As soon as they had crossed the threshold, Sweetie knew Twilight was in the building. There was something... a feeling all around her... the purple unicorn’s magic seeming to permeate the air itself.

“So this is the Royal Library... you know, last time I was at Canterlot Castle we didn't really get... to... see...” The filly's voice faded as she stood there gaping at all the books. She felt a shudder run down her back.

So much knowledge! She eagerly trotted to one of the bookshelves.

“Oh, wow...” she levitated a thick tome out. “A first edition of 'Secrets of Transmutation Theory' by Phantom Image! Twilight was always complaining that the Library in Ponyville didn't have a copy!”

Rarity blinked in surprise. “Why Sweetie, I didn't remember you being so... studious.”

“Oh, I learned a lot from Twilight...,” Sweetie commented as she searched through the index. “When you left me to study with her, I slowly started to like reading and now...” She smiled at Rarity. “I've been learning so many spells! Oh! And take a look at this!”

As her horn glowed with magic, a small hole in the air appeared and a notebook with a gem-studded cover floated out.

Cautiously, Rarity approached the desk where Sweetie had laid open the notebook beside the old tome. The younger unicorn slid out a parchment with an official Canterlot seal on it.

“Look sis!” Sweetie smiled with obvious pride as she presented the paper to her older sister.

Rarity looked at the parchment in surprise. “Sweetie this is... you were accepted into Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns?”

“Eeyup!” the younger unicorn giggled. “I was surprised too, after the way my test went, although I think I could have done better if Nightmare Moon hadn’t sneezed at the last minute...”

The fashion designer blinked. “I am still rather shocked that you actually knew Nightmare Moon... moreover that you talk about her as though she were just another friend.”

Sweetie chuckled. “Oh, I was scared of her at the beginning, but once I realized she was just a prankster things got a lot easier.”

Rarity shook her head in bewildered amusement, her eyes dropping to the paper in front of her. “Well, congratulations Sweetie, this is certainly a pleasant surprise.”

“Thanks!” Sweetie smiled, then turned back to the tome. “Now, let me take a quick look at this before we go find Twilight, okay? I always wanted to see what she found so interesting about this and-”

“Don't worry, you can take a good, long look at it after we talk,” Twilight said, looking down at the book.


The pair of mares looked down at the collapsed younger unicorn with barely contained mirth. “Are you alright, Sweetie?” Rarity asked.

“Why, why, whyyy do you keep doing that to me?” Sweetie whimpered as she slowly stood up.

“Well, if you paid attention to your surroundings, we wouldn't surprise you so much, would we?” Twilight chuckled. “It's nice to see you again, Sweetie, although I really want to know how it is that you've come to be here.”

Rarity looked at Twilight, startled. “You mean-”

“That she's the real deal?” Twilight asked with a small smile. “Yes, she is.”

Sweetie's eyes narrowed. “Wait... what do you mean...” she looked from her mentor to her sister, who shifted guiltily. “Did you... ask Twilight to scan me?”

Rarity sighed, not meeting her sisters gaze. “I'm sorry Sweetie... but... I had to know,” she said, looking up at the younger unicorn. “You have to understand-”

“What, that you didn’t trust me?” Sweetie stepped back, a hurt look crossing her face.

“No!” Rarity quickly hugged her. “Sweetie... my sister died... do you understand? When I saw you again... I couldn't know, as much as I hoped, if you were real or... well...”

“A creation of Discord?” Sweetie whispered dejectedly into her sister's mane.

“Or any of our other enemies,” Twilight sighed. “Don't hold it against her, Sweetie. We’ve all suffered great losses in our lives. Husbands, sisters, children... friends...”

Sweetie remained silent for a moment longer, but finally nodded. “I think I understand a bit...”

Rarity released her from the hug and smiled warmly at her. “Now dear, why don't you tell Twilight and I what happened to you... from the beginning?”

Sweetie Belle took a deep breath. “It all started when my sister had to go on a trip...”


“That's... quite the adventure...” Rarity managed to say after having gaped at Sweetie for the majority of the telling.

Twilight seemed slightly perturbed as well, but, after a deep breath she summoned a quill, ink and paper. “Okay, we should go over some details...”

“Like what?” Sweetie asked.

Rarity smirked. “Like how Twilight and The Great and Powerful Trixie came to share a bed, of course!”

“Right.” Twilight blinked. “Wait! I mean no! What... no! Rarity! You know I'm not into mares!”

Sweetie and Rarity blinked. “You're not?” they asked at the same time.

“No! And I don't think there was ever any doubt!” Twilight snapped. “Now. Sweetie, I'll ask some questions, try to answer them as best as you can, okay?”

“Okay, but-”

“First question,” Twilight interrupted. “Do you remember the names of the items the Princess gave your Twilight?”

Sweetie thought for a second. “No... I just know what I told you; they had something to do with time and space.”

Twilight nodded, scribbling notes down. “Okay, based on your description, I can tell that that item is not part of our Canterlot's Magical Item list. I've pretty much seen them all.” She wrote some more, then looked up. “What happens when you absorb a crystal? Do you jump immediately?”

“No...” Sweetie frowned. “The first time, I talked to my Twilight through the crystal...”

“And this was in that universe where Trixie and I were a couple?”

Sweetie nodded.

“Okay, do you remember what the Twilight in the crystal told you?

“She said... she said that I should draw the magic from the crystal, and that it would take us both home.”

Twilight blinked and quickly wrote a couple of things. “Both of you? Are you sure?”

Sweetie nodded.

Twilight hummed to herself as she finished the notes she was taking. “And tell me, how long did it take you to learn to levitate objects?”

“About... two and a half weeks, I think.”

“And Illusion? Projecting your voice, painting Nightmare Moon's room pink?”

Uh...” Sweetie tapped her chin with her hoof. “Well, Trixie taught me in a different way, she was all about being hooves-on and practice, practice, practice,” the young mare answered. “But I would say... maybe three days? I could do it by the time we were in Nightmare Moon's Castle.”

“I see... and you learned a new spell there?”

“Yes!” Sweetie replied with a big smile. “You taught me Darkness and Nightmare Moon told me to learn Nightvision.”

Twilight arched an eyebrow. “Really, for a... filly your age, I can tell you that just about every spell you've learned is above the curve of average unicorns. Can you cast Darkness for me?”

“Um... I haven't tried it-”

I just want you to try, Sweetie,” Twilight smiled. “Go on.”

Sweetie stared ahead for a moment, her mind going back to the lessons she had gone over with another Twilight just a day ago. She closed her eyes and concentrated, mixing the flow of magic in the way the book had illustrated, and remembering every tip that her mentor’s interdimensional twin had given her.

She heard her sister gasp and opened her eyes...

Wait... didn’t I just open my eyes? She tried again, only to realize that her eyes were open and that she was surrounded by a thick inky-black darkness.

“I did it? I did it! On my first try!”

“Well done, Sweetie!” Twilight’s voice came from somewhere beside her. “Now, if you would be so kind as to dismiss it?”

With an invisible nod, Sweetie released the spell and suddenly light again flooded into the room.

“That was impressive, Sweetie!” Rarity smiled. “How many spells do you know now?”

“Seven, I think... if you count the Pocket Dimension spell for my notebook,” Sweetie said.

Twilight wrote down several notes, but looked up to Sweetie. “Well, you know how to summon it, but I wouldn’t count that one as a spell by itself, since the properties that control the hole in space-time are actually part of the notebook.”

“I see... so the spell matrix is in continuous flow inside the gems...”

“Which are tied by the summon spell to your call...” Twilight added.

“but since it is outside of time and space it can travel across the worlds with me -in a manner of speaking- and the spell will release the flow...” Sweetie fell silent when Rarity placed a hoof to her forehead.

“You don’t seem to have a fever...” the fashion designer muttered.


“You were rambling, dear.”

Twilight continued to scribble away while Sweetie looked down a sheepish smile in her face. “Sorry.”

“Okay, I have another question Sweetie; have you noticed an increase in the potency of your spells since you started traveling?”

The filly in a mare’s body blinked. “Well... I wasn’t able to levitate that much at first, but now I can levitate heavier things, and the area I painted in Nightmare Moon’s room was directly proportional to the amount of magic applied to it so-”

“That’s a yes,” Twilight finished for her. “Good. I think those are all my questions for now...”

“What are you thinking, Twilight?” Rarity asked, giving her friend a worried glance.

“I’m not sure... I need to study a bit and analyze some of this data... but I think I have a good idea of what’s going on...” she sighed. “Do you think I could borrow your notebook for a bit, Sweetie? I’d like to take a look at the matrix. I promise to take good care of it.”

Sweetie nodded. “Sure!”

Twilight smiled. “Thanks! I’ll need to talk to you both a bit later. I’m finishing up with my packing, and...”

“Ah’m tellin’ ya that Twilight is waiting for me!” a very distinct voice came from the door.

The three watched as Applejack shook off the guard, who after a quick glance at Twilight and a nod from the unicorn, left the earth pony in peace.

“Darn it, why couldn’t he just let me in? He knows who Ah am!” Applejack shook her head, looking towards them. “Heya, Twilight! I’ve come to help you pack! Oh and lookie here, Rarity! Fancy meeting you here, I didn’t know that you were comin’ over!” The farmer chuckled. “And who’s this fine, young-” she stopped cold. Her eyes slowly narrowed as she stared at Sweetie Belle. “What is goin' on here?”

Rarity coughed, uncomfortable with the anger showing in her friend's eyes. “I'm sure you're confused, Applejack, but-”

“Darn right I'm confused!” Applejack growled, stomping down with a hoof as she turned to glare at Rarity and Twilight. “What is she doin' here?” she asked, her head motioning towards Sweetie Belle.

Sweetie gulped. Applejack looked like she was about to jump on her and pummel her into a paste. “A-Applejack, I'm Swee-”

“Shaddup, you!” Applejack snapped, her head whipping to face Sweetie Belle. “Ah don't know what hell-hole ya'll crawled out, but Ah ain't gonna let ya get away with this!” she snorted, lowering her body and widening her stance.

Sweetie Belle took a step back, trembling.

She's going to kill me! she thought in horror. Applejack's eyes betrayed no compassion. When the orange mare took a step forward, Sweetie stepped back. Why are you so angry? What’d I do?

“Applejack, please calm down!” Twilight gasped. “We can explain-”

“This ain’t normal! And there’s no explanation that can justify her bein’ here!” Applejack countered, never taking her eyes from Sweetie as she took another menacing step towards her. “Whatever this thing is, she ain't Sweetie!”

“Applejack, step away from my sister!” Rarity growled.

“Rarity, your sister and my sister are both gone!” Applejack snapped. “Ah know you’ve had a lot of trouble dealin’ with it even now, but this pony... this thing... it ain’t her!”


“Cut the horseapples!” Applejack growled, pushing Sweetie back with a forceful shove. “Ah'll take care of ya right here and send ya on yer way!”

Oh, Celestia... she's really going to kill me! Sweetie fell on her haunches, cringing as Applejack reared on her hind legs.

Rarity slammed Applejack out of the way, sending her sprawling to the floor as she stood protectively over Sweetie Belle. “You will stay away from my sister!” she hissed.

“Ah ain’t backin’ up! She’s not your sister!”

“Girls!” Twilight shouted, drawing their attention. “Calm down! Look at what you’re doing to Sweetie!”

The younger unicorn had curled up next to the table and was looking at Applejack with a completely terrified expression.

Rarity turned to look back at Applejack with such venom in her eyes that the farmer took an involuntary step back.

“If you ever again threaten her like you did...” Rarity trailed off, the threat hanging in the air. After a second, she looked down to her cowering sister. “Let’s go, Sweetie,” Rarity said softly, slowly nudging the younger mare. “I have a lot of places to show you.”

Slowly, the older mare maneuvered Sweetie around the table, all the time keeping a cold glare on Applejack, just daring her to make a move or say something. “Twilight dear, we will talk later when you are in more... civilized company.”

Twilight could only nod as the pair left, before turning to face her earth pony friend. “What happened there, Applejack?”

Applejack shifted from hoof to hoof. “We have to talk about that filly, Twi... I’ve... I’ve been having dreams about her...”


“Are you okay, Sweetie?”

The younger unicorn didn’t answer; she just kept shivering as they walked.

Rarity sighed. Sweetie Belle had never really had a confrontation like that her whole life--a snarling werewolf was an instinctual enemy after all... however, having someone you loved and trusted about to attack you...

“Why is Applejack so angry at me?” Sweetie finally asked shakily.

Rarity sighed. “I don't know, Sweetie. Applejack has lost a lot of family over the years, and for a pony who comes from a big family... each one has been very hard. Especially Apple Bloom.”

“Just like I was for you...” the younger mare sighed in return.

“But even then, I have never seen Applejack react like this... maybe it's her old superstitious self kicking in... or she merely woke up in a bad mood.” The older unicorn shook her head. “Applejack has always been a firecracker, Sweetie. Let her be for now; Twilight will help calm her down.”

The younger mare seemed doubtful, but nodded. She looked around; they were in an older section of Canterlot, with several buildings in what she could only call a 'classic' style architecture since she knew just next to nothing about it. “Where are we?”

Rarity smiled as she slowed down to a stop in front of a huge building. “This, Sweetie, is the Canterlot Opera House!”

Sweetie Belle’s eyes widened as she looked at the building before her. This is where her counterpart had learned to sing... where she had become famous.

“Come with me,” Rarity said as she walked to the double doors. She spoke briefly with a clerk whom stared at Sweetie as if she were a ghost. The clerk quickly nodded and soon they were being ushered through the doors.

There were few ponies working in there at the time, but one and all stopped what they were doing to gape at the pair of unicorns, or, more specifically, at Sweetie, who returned their stares with a confused look. “Sis...” she whispered, “why is everypony looking at me like that?”

“Hm?” Rarity looked at the ponies. “You’ll see.”

They turned around another red-carpeted hall and Sweetie stopped. In front of her was a wall display with several pictures of her in amazing dresses performing for thousands of ponies. A plaque with a brief biography was next to a smiling picture.

“There is another, bigger set of pictures, notes and even dresses in the Hall of Great Equestrian Artists,” Rarity noted, smiling at her sister’s expression of awe. “The Opera keeps a few and sometimes rotates them, but yours have been here for quite a long time.”

“Who’s that?” Sweetie asked, pointing at a gray mare playing a cello next to her in one of the pictures. They seemed to have the stage for themselves, Sweetie sang, as the earth pony played.

“That is Octavia,” Rarity said. “You would have been too young in your world to have met her yet. “She played at quite a few Galas. You eventually went to one with me and I became good friends with her when she played background music for a song you sang for the Princesses.”

Sweetie gulped. She slowly traced a hoof on the glass of the picture. So many friends I have yet to meet, so many ponies that changed my life or will change it... Sweetie blinked.

“Wait, you had mentioned her before, along with Fancypants?”

Rarity nodded. “She was very helpful to you; she already had a great deal of influence here and, when you made it in, she wasted no time in making you her protege.”

Sweetie looked at the picture again, now noticing the proud glance the earth pony was directing at her singing counterpart. “Sis... I’d like to hear some of Octavia’s music... and mine.”

Rarity smiled. “This way, Sweetie.”


The hours passed quickly as the pair listened to Sweetie’s songs and Octavia’s cello. The younger unicorn was impressed with the ample variety of genres her counterpart had explored. She had started with classical music; she’d sing arias and play roles in operas... she had done a duet once with a famous singer, gone into pop and even country, which Rarity had sworn was due to hanging around Apple Bloom far too much.

Where are you now? You're so far away

From me, and yet, I can't help but pray

The experience had been overwhelming and humbling. She had listened to herself as she’d grown and succeeded in a very competitive field, and she’d done more than that: she’d become an icon. It was already more than a hundred years since her death, but ponies still listened to her songs.

That you will stand here with me by your side

One day, 'til then I shall try my best to bide

It’s like I suddenly have to live up to this, Sweetie thought, looking at the pensive Rarity as she listened to one of her songs, a piece she had named Heart’s Lament. Like I have to be as big as I became here... I have to be in the hearts of ponies for generations after my death... She sighed. And if I don’t... if I’m not... what will Rarity think of me? She looked at her sister’s hoofs, encased in their fancy cuffs as the older mare tapped along to the rhythm of the song. A slow feeling of dread overcame her as she looked at them. She remembered having read a horror book at the library once, and how one of the characters... she shook her head.

When I see all that you've done for me

I remember how your love set me free

Sweetie looked at Rarity, the older mare had closed her eyes and was swaying to the music. “Rarity?” When the older mare didn’t answer, Sweetie put a hoof on her sister’s shoulder.

Oh but now, when I'm so far from thee

Will the wind carry you my longing plea?

Rarity started, opening her eyes and looking around before they set on Sweetie. There was a flash of pain in those blue eyes that slowly faded as she looked at her younger sister. “I- I’m sorry, Sweetie I got lost there in your song and...” She was crying. “I’ve always liked this one. I remember when you composed it and-”

I will always wait here my love!

So that we can fly away,

Through the sky above,

Sweetie held her sister close.

Rarity melted into the hug, her words forgotten as she felt the living heartbeat of her sister. She closed her eyes and shuddered as she silently let the tears flow. Sweetie didn’t let her go, even as she covered her sister’s coat with salty tears. Slowly, she raised her forelegs to wrap them around her Sweetie.

And then we will be together for all of time.

Can't you hear and see me pine? You are mine,

For you, are my one true love...

The pair listened silently as the song finished and slowly faded. It was quiet for several minutes, save for the shuddering breaths of the older mare. “I’m sorry, Sweetie.”

The younger unicorn shook her head. “It’s okay... but sis... we need to talk.”

Rarity said nothing as her sister slowly pulled off the cuffs, exposing the scars where she had cut herself.

“Please, sis...” Sweetie said, looking up at her.

Rarity stared at the scars she had intentionally left behind to remember what she had done. She remembered finding Sweetie’s letter... her sister had known. She carefully looked up at Sweetie’s eyes. “I- I don’t know if I can, Sweetie...”

“Please, sis?”

The room was quiet for a few moments, but then...

“I had forced myself not to think about it for years,” Rarity whispered. Had it not been for the absolute silence in the room, Sweetie might have missed it; she remained quiet as her sister slowly spoke. “I tried to pretend it wasn’t going to happen... that I could deal with it when it finally did. So I pushed it to the back of my mind again and again.”

Rarity wasn't looking at her anymore. Her head had turned away and her eyes were fixed on a corner of the room.

“Even after you retired and needed my help to even get to the grocery store... it wasn't going to happen. You were strong in spirit...” She clenched her teeth. “It wasn't fair. You were my younger sister... but... but you were so much older! You knew it was going to happen... you even wrote me a note because you knew how hard I was trying to make it different!”

She started shaking and hugged herself, wrapping her hooves around her trembling body.

“When it finally happened... I- I found you... you looked so calm... happy even. I couldn't- I...” The older unicorn paused, looking for words. “It was... beyond me. I couldn’t understand how you could be gone. The brightest gem I’d ever had... I couldn't do anything to bring you back... you were the one pony keeping me together, Sweetie. And you were gone. Just like that.”

Sweetie shifted in her seat. Oh, sis... why did I have to ask?

“It was like a rock had crushed me. As if I couldn't breathe, but I was still here!” The unicorn closed her eyes in painful remembrance. “I was alone! I was all that was left of our family! I didn't want you gone... all my life I've been generous; I've done everything I can to share what I could to make other ponies happy... but the one time I truly wanted something for me... it was snatched away.”

She fell quiet again, breathing in deeply with her eyes closed. “I didn't want to stay...” Her voice was again a whisper. “I just couldn't. I- I don't know if I could ever justify it, or reason it out. It's not that simple to explain a- a void. Or a heartbreak. Or suddenly feeling like the world ripped away everything from inside of you and left you there to suffer.” Rarity sighed, voice trembling. “And so... when I saw you there... and I realized what had happened... I... I went to my work room and I found the scissors...”

Sweetie was crying as she shook her head in denial.

“I went straight for the artery, I cut as deeply as I could...” Rarity continued in an almost monotone voice. “Fluttershy found me...”

“Stop...” Sweetie hugged her sister.

“... I was late for our weekly spa treatment... she knew I wouldn't miss it unless something was wrong... I think she knew...”

“Stop. Please...” the younger unicorn sobbed. “I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! Please don't say anything else... I love you sis, please...”

Rarity slowly leaned into the hug. “You were gone. She woke me up... I was lying on my side... there was so much blood... I didn’t want to get up... and then... then I saw your note.”

“I'm sorry I asked, Rarity, please... just stop...”

The older unicorn took a deep breath and opened her blue eyes, looking down at her sister hugging her. For a moment, she felt dizzy, but then she smiled as she hugged Sweetie back.

“I have you back for now, Sweetie,” she whispered. “You're here with me for a bit longer. And this time, when you go... I will be able to say goodbye and farewell.”


The pair left the Opera House shortly after. As the building slowly disappeared behind them, Sweetie looked up at her sister. “Where are we going now, sis?”

“Back to the Library,” Rarity replied. “If Applejack is gone, maybe we can speak with Twilight further.”

“Oh... okay...” Sweetie looked away, unsure. “It’s just... Applejack doesn’t really seem to like me very much and-”

“Don’t worry, Sweetie,” Rarity interrupted. “Applejack won’t do anything to you, I’ll make sure. And I’m sure Twilight would also step in.”


The pair walked in a congenial silence until they reached the Library. Stepping ahead, Rarity faced one of the guards. “May we speak to Twilight Sparkle?”

The guard blinked. “I’m sorry, Lady Rarity, but Lady Twilight is occupied at the moment. She asked us to let you know that she would meet with you tonight at Lady Pinkamena’s party.”

Rarity nodded and stepped back. “It seems Twilight is busy; most likely experimenting with something to do with your travels...”

“So what do we do now?”

“I think home would be the best choice for now, Sweetie.” Rarity looked at the sun's position. “We have to get ourselves ready for the party, after all.”

Sweetie nodded as she followed her sister. “Rarity? Do you think Applejack will be there?”

The older mare sighed. “I would assume so. But don't worry, I'm sure Twilight put her doubts to rest. She’ll probably be back to her normal, workaholic self.”

The train ride back home was a quiet affair. Physically tired and emotionally spent, both mares made their way to the Boutique and barely had enough energy to slump onto their respective beds.

As she yawned and felt herself slipping away into dreamland, Sweetie's gaze slowly roamed her room.

There are so many things that are just the same... but, I never had that hat back home. Or those little jewelry boxes. Her eyes settled on a chest she had not noticed before. It was half-hidden under a dress that was hanging over it.

But what drew her attention to it was the symbol on the front. It seemed familiar, somehow. It was a musical note, a metal G-clef that appeared to be part of the clasp keeping the chest closed. Sweetie yawned, closing her eyes and wondering what could be inside it.


I hate her.”


How can you say that?!”

But... she was your friend...”

Silly, you don't mean that!”

Yes I do!” Rarity snapped at Pinkie Pie as she refused to move from her position. “I hate her! She took the only really precious thing from me!”

We don't know what happened, sugarcube...” Applejack said, placing a hoof on Rarity's shoulder.

The white unicorn pushed it away and stepped back. “Whatever happened, she was in charge! She took Sweetie away from me!”

I... um... I'm sure it was just an accident...”

She was responsible for her!” Rarity growled, closing her eyes tightly and lowering her head. “She was supposed to take care of Sweetie while I was gone!”

Sugar- Rarity...” Applejack coughed as she walked up to the unicorn. “Please, don't do this to yourself. You know that Twilight would have done anything to protect Sweetie. She would never let her near anything she knew was dangerous. You know that.”

But... what do I tell my parents? How can I stand in front of their graves and hold my head up high? I failed them, Applejack... the one task that they asked of me when it happened...”

She's with them, Rarity,” Fluttershy's soft voice whispered as she hugged her friend. “And they know everything that happened... they know it was no-pony's fault.”

Come on, Rarity,” Rainbow Dash's usually confident voice was subdued. “We all miss them... Let's say goodbye together one last time.”

Rarity looked past her friends to the grave that awaited them. A purple-marble slab framed in moon rock had been laid down on the grassy hill. It had a dedication to two very dear friends, from family and friends. It was positioned so that the first rays of the morning sun would shine on it. It looked deceptively simple for all the weight it carried in the hearts of those left behind. But it was still incomplete.

Slowly the group made their way up until Rarity stood at the front of all of them, staring at the slab. She looked back to her friends, who nodded their encouragement. Rarity turned to the slab, her horn lit up as the magic was absorbed into it and her words etched magically on its surface, taking place next to her friend's own thoughts and farewells.

Rarity spoke up as she wrote. “Twilight... I loved you like a sister, and I grew to respect you and eventually to entrust you with my most precious treasure. Whatever happened that day, it took three of the dearest souls I had ever had the fortune of meeting. You and my Sweetie are still together. Take care of her for me, until I can see you both again. And tell Spike that I... I’ll see him there too.


The unicorn collapsed.


Sweetie opened her eyes slowly, echoes of Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash calling Rarity's name floating at the edges of her consciousness.

She stared at the ceiling as she struggled to remember what she had just seen, but it would not come back to her, despite her knowing that it had been somehow important... very important.

Her eyes returned to the chest she had seen under the dress.

Slowly, Sweetie got out of bed and listened carefully. She could hear the rhythmic breathing coming from Rarity’s room down the hall. Her sister was still asleep.

Carefully moving the dress out of the way with her magic, she stared at the G-Clef in the front. She unlatched it and pushed up the top to reveal stacks of neatly ordered notebooks and papers, a few replacement strings for a musical instrument and an old bow, the same type she had seen Octavia use on her-

“Oh.” Sweetie sat down, staring at what she had in front of her. Levitating one of the notebooks, she opened it up, revealing what she had suspected. Musical notations covered each neat row on each page, lyrics were written under the musical notes with esoteric symbols of their own... she could figure out which called for a longer, sustained note, but there were so many that she couldn’t decipher.

She carefully read through the notebooks, piling them next to the chest. When she reached past them, she found a smaller box, tied shut with a blue ribbon. Undoing it, she discovered several opened envelopes inside, all of them for her, or for the Sweetie Belle of this dimension at least.

Since they didn’t seem to be in a particular order, she took out the first.

Dear Sweetie,

Country music? Really? When I told Vinyl that you had been singing country music with that voice of yours, she did not stop laughing for an hour straight. What were you thinking? I know it was Apple Bloom’s birthday but you don’t use a voice like yours for that kind of music!

I’m sorry, I’m being a bit unfair, it was your best friend’s birthday after all.

It just surprises me, that’s all. You should have seen what Rarity wrote in the letter she sent me! She was, well, shocked is one way of putting it. I myself had to imbibe quite a sum of whiskey to gather my thoughts. A single malt in one gulp... it was almost offensive!

However, I heard that Applejack couldn't stop singing your song after the party, so it seems you've made quite the impression on the genre. I simply hope that perhaps she may see the light and attend the Opera so that she might see you in your natural element. As keen as her ear is for... other genres, it is undoubtedly in our sanctuary of music that yours can raise the heavens themselves.

Well, I just wanted to share my thoughts and see how you were doing. I’ll let you know when we arrive back in Canterlot.


A decidedly less elegant penmareship followed.

Sweetie, this is Vinyl. Octy asked me to put this in the mail and not to read it. But I just have to say: well done, girl! I don’t listen to country myself, but you can’t get caught in that stuffy and uptight cell you and Octy call an ‘Opera House’ forever! If you ever want to try for Electronic, Bronybeat or Techno... you know who to call!


Sweetie blinked at the letter. Rarity had mentioned the country song... had it really been so good and so shocking that it had gotten Applejack singing and Rarity writing worried letters to Octy- Octavia? Sweetie chuckled, wondering where that song could be.

She dug deeper into the chest, finding a few pictures of herself and Octavia. Vinyl Scratch, a pony she only vaguely remembered from one of Pinkie Pie’s parties, was also present in several of them. Somehow, although she felt like she was looking and going through something sacred, to Sweetie it felt... right. As if she were supposed to see these.

She sighed as she started to carefully put away just about everything. As she took a look at the notebooks again, she left one behind along with a picture. Maybe she could copy some of the songs into her own notebook and try and learn them later... As for the picture... Octavia, Vinyl and Rarity stood behind Sweetie in a graduation gown. She looked exactly as she did now, still young and so happy. The other three mares in the picture looked extremely proud, and they smiled honestly and without a care.

Sweetie took a deep breath as she levitated both relics up to the bed with her. It was time to learn... and maybe the spirits of Octavia, Vinyl and her counterpart would inspire and help her find her own talent.

Slowly, she went through the notebook, looking for songs she could maybe learn.


The time for the party arrived almost too quickly.

Before Sweetie knew it, Pinkie Pie was knocking on the door to the Boutique, waking Rarity from her nap.

“Come on, girls!” the pink earth pony giggled as she bounced around them. “We’re gonna be late!”

“It’ll be fine, dear,” Rarity said. “After all, they can’t start without us, right?”

“Oh, but we still have to get there!” Pinkie pouted.

“Where are we going, exactly?” Sweetie asked. “Isn’t the party at Sugarcube Corner?”

“Don’t be silly!” the earth pony smiled. “The party is at Sweet Apple Acres! I convinced Applejack to lend me her barn earlier today!”

Rarity stopped combing her hair and looked at Pinkie with a frown. The party pony looked from her to Sweetie, who seemed to have lost all interest in partying.

“What’s wrong?”

“I- I don’t know if we should go...” Sweetie ventured.

“Why not? I’m sure everypony will be happy to see you!”

“I wouldn’t say that, darling.” Rarity sighed. “I’m afraid Applejack will not be happy to see us there.”

“What? Of course she will!” Pinkie exclaimed.

“Did you tell her for who this party was?” Sweetie asked.

“Well no, but-”

“We saw her earlier; trust us, she won’t want us there,” Rarity insisted.

It was then that Pinkie put her hooves on top of the fashion designer's shoulders. “You. Are. Coming. To. The. Party!!!” With each word, the earth pony towered more and more over the white unicorn until she was looking down on her. “Am I clear?”

“Y-yes...” Rarity meeped.

“Good,” Pinkie said. “Because I don’t want my friends to ruin a perfectly fine party over a fight!”

“But... she threatened me and-” Sweetie feebly attempted to say, but stopped the moment Pinkie glared at her. “... and I think I should make up with her becauseotherwisethepartywouldbewasted?

The earth pony smiled. “Exactly!” she bounced around the room happily. “Now we go to the party! Now we go to the party!” Pinkie sang over and over.

Sweetie and Rarity exchanged amused glances. As soon as their manes were ready, the pair followed the bouncing earth pony towards Sweet Apple Acres.


The inside of the barn had been decorated in festive colors. Balloons abounded and floated freely while confetti randomly fell on and around the guests from somewhere in the rafters.

Fluttershy flinched slightly at a balloon suddenly popping on top of her, which became a rain of colorful paper. “Um... does anypony know why Pinkie organized this party?”

“Well, I don’t know!” Rainbow Dash said with a big grin as she munched on a pickle. “But as long as there’s all this amazing food, who cares?” She proceeded to pick out another pickle from her ice-cream while her mate, Vespa, looked at the mix with a slightly disgusted look. When offered some, he vehemently shook his head.

I’ll uh... get some crackers...” he coughed as he turned around and made a bee-line for the food table.

Twilight smiled. It was great to see all of her friends in a more relaxed party so soon after she had decided to come back to Ponyville. They all seemed to be in a good mood... well, all except one.

Her eyes turned to Applejack, who stood separate from the group, drinking shots from some unidentified source.

“What’s got her in a bad mood anyways?” Dash asked, walking up to Twilight. Her belly was beginning to show and she was starting to waddle more than walk.

Twilight sighed. “I think it’s because of the reason behind the party...”

“So you do know why it is!” the Wonderbolt leaned closer to Twilight, a glint in her eye. “Well then, why don’t you tell-”

“Weeeeeeee’reeeee heeeeeereeee!” Pinkie sang as she slammed the door open, missing the sulking Applejack by mere inches.

The two pegasi watched in anticipation as Rarity made her way in, followed by somepony they had never expected to see again.

“Oh... my...” Fluttershy said, her eyes wide as she stared incredulously at the second unicorn to walk in.

“Buh-” Rainbow Dash’s mouth fell open. Slowly she made her way to Sweetie Belle and jabbed her with a hoof, eliciting a soft ‘ouch’. “You’re... you’re real...”

Sweetie Belle looked at the pegasus with no small amount of surprise. “Rainbow Dash? You’re... pregnant?!” She turned to face Rarity. “She’s pregnant!”

Rarity chuckled. “Why, yes, I suppose she is.”

“But, you knew!” the younger unicorn accused.

“You didn’t really expect that you would be the only surprise in the party, did you?” Pinkie Pie grinned.

“But, I-” Sweetie couldn’t think of what to say, and so she stared back at the staring pegasus.

“But... how can this be?” Fluttershy turned to ask Twilight. “Sweetie’s...” she stole a glance at Rarity. “Well... she’s...”

“She is Sweetie Belle,” Twilight said. “Just not our Sweetie, you see-”

“Darn right she ain’t!” Applejack interrupted, walking unsteadily towards the group and having only heard the last part of the conversation. “Our Sweetie is dead! Jus’ like, jus’ like Apple-” she growled. “An’ Scoot-all-loo, an’ mah brother an’-”

“Applejack...” Twilight interrupted, placing a hoof on her friend. “Calm down, I already explained to you that-”

“Shaddup!” The apple farmer snarled at her friend, who took a surprised step back. “Ah’ know what ya’ll said! An’ it still don’t make any sense! What kinda idiots do you take us for with all your blabberin’ fancy words an’ magical theo...” She frowned. “Things.” She shook her head.


“Them! Those. Ya’ll know what ah mean!” Applejack glared at something next to Sweetie, who pressed against Rarity, flinching under the bleary gaze of the apple farmer.

“Ya’ll come over here, an’... an’ I’ve known that ya’ll would, ‘cause, ah dreamed how ya’ll...”

“Applejack,” Fluttershy carefully put a hoof on her friend’s shoulder. “You’re drunk.”

“No, I ain’t!” Applejack said, shaking her friend’s hoof off her shoulder and marching up to the wall, where a pony sized picture of a pony rump without a tail which was lying close by for a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-pony was. “An’ ya’ll better face me when ah’m talking to ya! Ah know yer not the real Sweetie!” she poked the poster. “Ah’m talking to ya! Turn around!”

“Twilight,” Rainbow Dash said as she, Sweetie and Rarity joined the group. “I think you better explain how Sweetie Bell can be here.” She intentionally faced away from Applejack, who continued glaring and snapping at the poster.

As Twilight led the group way from the drunk farmer to explain what Sweetie had said, the unicorn in question slowly stepped from the group and turned to look at Applejack.

“...and it ain’t fair that yo-you came ‘ere and- and you didn’t bring mah sister with ya!” the earth pony half-sobbed, half-accused the poster. “Ah’ been havin’ dreams of mah Apple Bloom an’ ya’ll, sure as hay it was you in mah dream, havin’ no cutie mark or-” She hiccuped and fell on her rump. “Why? Why is it just... you?”

Sweetie sat beside the drunk mare. “I’m sorry I’m not the one you wanted to see...”

“Yer not sorry,” Applejack slurred angrily at the poster. “Yer just sayin’ that ta make me feel better, buh-t it ain’t gonna work! Ah’m onto ya!”

“Applejack...” Sweetie began. “When I arrived, I expected to see Apple Bloom and Scootaloo... I just saw them two days ago! I really just happened to land here where my best friends have been gone for so long and my sister... she-” Sweetie bit down on her lip, not wanting to say it.

Applejack was silent.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be her or that she wasn’t with me when I arrived.” Sweetie sniffed. “I see all of you, and I sort of know you but you don’t know me... not even Scootaloo or Apple Bloom.... they know the ‘me’ from their world... but they don’t know me.”

When Applejack didn’t say anything, Sweetie sighed, looking down at the floor. “I’m not making sense...” she said after a moment. “I wish you would believe me... when I heard that Apple Bloom was gone... I felt like I had been struck with a brick. She and Scootaloo have always been more than friends to me... they’re my sisters.”

Sweetie closed her eyes. “It’s not fair that I have to see their faces and wonder if they will believe me, or if they will be my friends still if I told them what had happened, or if they would think I was something else trying to possess their friend... I don’t know why this is happening.” She watched despondently as her tears wet the floor. “How many times will I go somewhere and find out they died? Will it always hurt? Do I want it to stop hurting?” she sobbed. “I just want to go home. I want to be with my Rarity. I want to keep studying with my Twilight. I want to see my Applejack organize another Sisterhooves Social! I wa-”

She stopped when a hoof was pressed against her mouth. Sweetie opened her eyes and followed the hoof and foreleg to their owner: Applejack.

“Ah don’t know why ah’m so angry at y’all... ah bet I was just overworked...” Applejack offered. “And ah know I can be right stubborn at times.” she stumbled as she moved a bit closer. “And that ah shouldn’t drink as much as ah did tonight. But ah do know something else... when ah met you, ah knew y’all weren’t a bad filly... Ah just didn’t want to believe that you could be here when mah sister ain’t. But that’s not your fault.” Applejack sighed. “Ah miss her like... ah have no idea how to even say. She ain’t coming back... ah thought I’d dealt with it... but ah was wrong. Deep inside me, ah still want her back... that ain’t gonna change neither.”

“I’m sorry,” Sweetie repeated. “I don’t know what to do.”

Applejack was silent for a few moments. “Come with me.”


“... and I think that’s the reason Sweetie is travelling all over different dimensions and yet seems to find herself close to us, or at least our interdimensional counterparts.” Twilight stated.

“Okay,” Rainbow Dash took a deep breath. “That gave me and my foal a headache. Is there an easier way to explain it?”

“I think I got it!” Pinkie Pie laughed. “It’s just like an onion! Everything has layers and they make you cry, but I heard that if you soak them after peeling the skin it helps, but it never did when I tried! But Sweetie is jumping between layers and because it’s the same onion, the universe just seems very similar!”

Twilight blinked. “That’s a very interesting theory, Pinkie, but it has absolutely nothing to do with what I was-”

“Wait...” Rarity stopped Twilight. “Did you hear that?”

Twilight quieted down and the whole group listened carefully.

I made it down the coast in seventeen hours

Pickin' me a bouquet of dogwood flowers

And I'm a hopin' for Ralneigh

I can see my baby tonight

“There it is again!” Rarity whispered urgently. “It sounds familiar!”

“Has anypony seen Sweetie and Applejack?” Fluttershy asked, looking around the barn, where only Vespa stood apart from them.

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel

Rock me mama anyway you feel

Hey mama rock me

Rock me mama like the wind and the rain

Rock me mama like a south-bound train

Hey mama rock me

“It’s coming from outside! Let’s go, everypony!” Pinkie shouted.

“I hope they’re both okay...” Rarity said worriedly over a few more words coming from outside.

The group made their way to the doors, where they stopped and looked outside. In the darkness, seating over several piles of hay, Applejack strummed a guitar as she and Sweetie sang to the sky, seemingly lost in the moment.

Oh, the North country winters keep a gettin' me now

Lost my money playin' poker so I had to up and leave

But I ain't a turnin' back

To livin' that old life no more

Twilight chuckled. “Well, it seems we were worrying over nothing, right?

“I wish she had chosen another song...” Rarity sighed. She looked up as Rainbow Dash brushed past her. “Rainbow? Where are you going?”

The pegasus snorted and looked back briefly at her. Dash’s eyes were a bit watery, but her grin didn’t leave her face. “Where do you think? I’m gonna sing too!”

“What?” the fashion designer blinked. “Why?”

Rainbow Dash faced the singing pair. “Scootaloo joined the chorus that time... remember?”

Rarity and the others exchanged glances.

“Mac played the banjo... I had never heard him play before...” Fluttershy reminisced.

“Spike nagged me all night to cast that spell so he could play the fiddle for a few hours...” Twilight sighed.

“It was the best birthday party ever!” Pinkie nodded.

Rarity smiled as the three mares joined the others on top of the hay before walking up to them herself. “Sweetie sang beautifully... even if it was country.”

Vespa looked at the group with a small grin on his face. “Ponyville mares are all crazy. Grandma Scootaloo was right.”

He watched in silence as the seven mares sang into the night, tears flowing freely as they all hugged each other. A traveller bringing memories that the six immortals held dear within themselves...

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel

Rock me mama anyway you feel

Hey mama rock me

Rock me mama like the wind and the rain

Rock me mama like a south-bound train

Hey mama rock me

They sang to the night, remembering, crying, hugging and hoping.


The next morning, Sweetie decided that she was never going to drink alcohol again in her life. She groaned as she rolled over on the floor to lie on her back, her stinging eyes taking in the inside of the barn.

“How can they drink that stuff over and over again if this happens the next day?” she groaned.

A snore drew her attention to the pile of hay where Rainbow Dash and Vespa were sleeping.

“Wait, Grandma Scootaloo did what?” Vespa asked, eyes wide. “She never told me that!”

“Well, what did you expect?” Rainbow Dash laughed. “You were just a foal back then.”

The pegasus, who bore a striking resemblance to Scootaloo, blushed. “But... I was the same age as she was when she got the weasels into the barrel of cider!”

“Eh, ponies were made of sterner stuff back then,” Rainbow Dash said, punching her partner on the shoulder playfully. “But I’m more intrigued by what happened in the last world you were in, Sweetie; you said that Scootaloo put cling-wrap on the toilet to prank Nightmare Moon?”

“I’m too drunk for this...” Vespa moaned.

Sweetie chuckled as she turned to her stomach. She saw Fluttershy lying next to Twilight. Both mares had gotten completely plastered and were snoring blissfully away.

“Big Mac?!” Twilight sat down with a painful sounding thud. Her magic levitated a cup, filling it up with cider before she downed it in a single gulp.

“Well, I never saw you two do anything but... well, he visited a lot and you blushed when he walked away and you stared at him and-” Sweetie started to explain, but was interrupted.

“Oh, my.” Fluttershy, also blushing, took a sip of her third cup. “I... well, Big Mac was such a gentlecolt... you could have done worse, Twilight.”

“But-” the purple unicorn cringed. “Fluttershy, I swear that I never-”

“His heart was so big...” Fluttershy hiccuped, clearly drunk. “I think he had enough love in him for more than one mare... I used to wonder if I was enough for him...”

Twilight put down another downed cup. “Ah’m telling you that- I’m telling- you see, I never did anything with him, you know?”

Fluttershy sniffed. “...and he would always tell me that I was jus’ bein’ silly, ‘cause he only had eyes for me and...”

“... I mean, it’s not that he wasn’t attractive but...” Twilight paused to drink another cup. “He’s mah best friend’s colt, and I would never... I mean... maybe- no! I would never-”

“But, I mean, Twilight might have been a good choice and, well, I really love her too and-” Fluttershy had finished her cup and was tapping her hoofs together.

Twilight sniffed, looking down miserably at the latest cup as it spilled what remained of its contents on the floor. “I never really got to know anypony like that and...” she suddenly hugged Fluttershy, who hugged her back. “I love you Fluttershy! I would never, ever steal your stallion!”

“I love you too, Twilight,” Fluttershy sniffed. “I think I might’ve even shared with you some-” whatever the pegasus was about to say would forever remain a mystery for Sweetie because at that moment Fluttershy passed out on top of Twilight. The purple unicorn was overwhelmed by the dead weight and fell back.

Uh... Twi? Twilight! You okay?” Sweetie asked. Her only response was a snore. She slowly backed away.

Next to her Applejack kicked in her sleep, barely missing the table, and Rarity cuddled closer when she felt her shifting.

“I fear she will have quite the headache tomorrow.” Rarity said, taking a drink from her cup as she levitated a sheet to cover the snoring Applejack.

“Will she be alright?” Sweetie asked as Rarity served herself another cup.

“She’ll be fine, darling.” The older unicorn smiled at Sweetie. “Immortal, remember?”

Sweetie laughed. “I guess that’s true... now I-” she stopped when a cup full of punch was shoved her way.

“Oh, no you don’t!” Rarity glared at Pinkie Pie, who simply blew a raspberry at her in response.

“Why not?” Pinkie asked, smiling at the pair. “She’s an adult right now! And we’re all having fun!”

“She might look like an adult, but she isn’t!”

“Oh, don’t be such a stick-in-the-mud!” the earth pony giggled. “Come on! We’ve seen enough in our lives to know she’ll be okay!”

“I don’t think- Sweetie!” Rarity gasped as her younger sister chugged down the punch.

“Ugh... what’s that stuff?” Sweetie asked.

“Rum!” Pinkie Pie supplied, pushing another glass at her until she took hold of it with her magic. “Now, let’s play a drinking game!”

Sweetie winced. “I’m never drinking again. Ever!”

“Aw, it wasn’t that bad, was it?” Pinkie asked. When Sweetie had recovered from her fright, the earth pony chuckled. “A bit tense? Here, have one of my special ‘Day-after Cupcakes!’”

“Thank you.”

Sweetie quietly observed the ball of energy that was Pinkie Pie as she moved around the barn, waking up the others and offering them their morning treat.

Huh, this really is helping... she thought as she munched on the cupcake.

In short order, the group was awake and as alert as they could be with only the cupcakes in their stomachs.

“Well, that was some party,” Applejack chuckled weakly.

“It was fun!” Pinkie agreed.

“It certainly was,” Twilight said with a smile. “I really missed all of you. I’m glad I’m back in Ponyville.”

The group shared a smile.

Sweetie sighed. “I guess I should start trying to figure out where the fragment is... as much as I love being with all of you, I have to get back home.”

Rarity winced, looking sadly at her younger sister.

Sweetie immediately noticed. “I’m sorry, sis, I don’t mean that I don’t want to stay with you but-”

Rarity stopped her, placing her hoof softly on Sweetie’s lips. “Don’t apologize, Sweetie,” she said. “I am glad I got to see you here and that we spent this time together. I’ll help you look for the fragment, don’t worry.”

“We’d love to stay, but we have to go back to Wonderbolt HQ...” Rainbow Dash said, smirking at the groggy Vespa. “Some of us have some training to do!”

“Ugh...” the male pegasus groaned.

“Don’t worry, Sweetie” Twilight said, stepping forth. “We can deal with this a little later. We should all go home and clean up first, then I’ll meet you all in the library.” She looked at Rainbow Dash and Vespa. “I think you can stay for a couple of hours longer, right?”

The pair exchanged a glance and nodded. “I think we can,” Rainbow Dash said, looking at the unicorn. “What do you have in mind?”

“Oh, you’ll see!” the unicorn said with a smile.


Sweetie Belle sat on her bed. The only sound in Carousel Boutique was that of Rarity taking a shower.

Lying on the sheets was the picture of Sweetie, Rarity, Octavia and Vinyl during ‘her’ graduation. It was in good condition, not having seen the light of day that much... but there was more to it.

This picture represented the culmination of something that Sweetie was still trying to understand: finding your true talent and becoming even better at it. It represented years of struggle, of study, of mentoring, of friends and family.

I’m not even out of school yet. Sweetie thought with a sigh.

She looked at the mirror, admiring the image of the young adult unicorn looking back at her. Suddenly, she felt very lonely in a body that seemed truly alien to her.

But... if I am jumping from body to body and getting a new one each time, what happened to my own-

“Sweetie!” Rarity called, interrupting the horrible thoughts that were beginning to course through Sweetie’s mind. “I’m ready! Do you want to go to the Library now?”

“Oh... yeah...” Sweetie called back half-heartedly, pushing her thoughts to the back of her mind along with so many other things she didn’t want to think about.

Rarity walked into the room, smiling. “Well then, let’s go!” As she looked down at the picture on the bed, her smile faltered for a second. “I- I haven’t seen that picture in such a long time.”

Sweetie looked at it. “You all look so proud...”

“And we were!” Rarity chuckled. “It was... it was such an amazing day...”

"I hope I get to make my Rarity as proud as she made you..." Sweetie sighed. "Someday...”

Rarity hugged her for a brief moment. “Sweetie... I am sure that you will do just fine once you find your talent,” she said. She sighed and pondered for a moment. “Why don’t you take that picture with you? Can you do that?”

Sweetie nodded, surprised. “Yeah, if I put it inside my notebook...”

Rarity smiled. “Well then, take it with you when you go, dear.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course!” Rarity chuckled. “I wouldn’t offer it otherwise!”

Sweetie looked at the picture for a moment, then smiled. “Thanks, sis!”

“Anytime... sis.”


Twilight looked around at the group gathered in her Library. Once everypony had had time to eat breakfast, take a shower and get ready, they all felt like new ponies.

“Thank you for coming... and waiting in your case, Rainbow Dash, Vespa.”

The pair of pegasi nodded, still waiting for Twilight to explain why they were all there.

“About two hundred years ago, shortly after Fluttershy and Big Macintosh had married, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna asked us to gather together, including your husbands, to talk about very serious matters...” Twilight’s voice cracked . “That day we found out we were immortal.”

The others were silent, remembering the emotionally charged moment when they had realized that all they loved would cease to be in their lifetimes.

“I asked Spike to take care of the Library and left to take a long walk. I remember I was thinking of my parents...” Twilight smiled sadly. “Back then, I already had my suspicions about myself, after all I’d had an anvil land on my head and break my neck... only to be completely fine the next minute... but I never thought until then that I might not be the only one, or that it had been a freak magical accident.

“And so, thinking about that, my hooves took me to that same spot where Derpy had accidentally dropped her cargo on me. I sat down and thought hard about what would happen now. I was sad, but I was also ecstatic.” She chuckled. “After all, I would have all the time in the world to study and all the time in the world to learn more about magic and be with the Princess and my friends...

“But then... then I thought again of my parents. I always knew I would lose them at some point. I hoped it would take a long time but... being immortal it would almost feel like days to me. I thought about my other, non-immortal friends, about Fluttershy and Applejack watching their loved ones fade away... and it was during that moment that I noticed something reflecting the light of the sun... the glint caught my eye and I felt... a compulsion to reach for it.”

Twilight’s horn glowed with energy and a small wooden box levitated towards them. “For the longest time I thought it was simply a strange crystal...” The hatch opened, revealing a purple, jagged crystal. Sweetie gasped.

“But, as I studied it, off and on during the years, I discovered that it was almost... aligned to me... I could perform even stronger feats of magic while in proximity to it... sometimes my thoughts were clearer. Sometimes it was as if I had discussed what I was thinking with somepony else and an epiphany had come.” She studied the crystal for a moment. “After I met Sweetie, and heard her story, I immediately realized what this was... and that it had been waiting for her.” She looked to the young unicorn, who was staring at the crystal. “Sweetie... the crystals that you are absorbing are increasing your magic and your ability to learn... I don’t know how many fragments there are, but I want you to be careful.”

“What do you mean, Twilight?” Sweetie asked, tearing her eyes away from the crystal to look at the purple unicorn.

“I don’t know how it is affecting you beyond knowledge and power,” Twilight explained. “It’s imperative that you don’t absorb too many... or you might be overwhelmed by it.”

Sweetie gulped. “But... it’s the only way I know to travel between worlds...”

Twilight winced. “I know. I wish I had more to tell you, or that I had realized what this was a long time ago so that I could have studied it more closely. However, during your travels, don’t hesitate to tell any other me you might meet about them... they might have better understanding than I did, or even ask the Princesses.”

Sweetie nodded.

“So...” Rarity spoke up. “This is goodbye then?”

Sweetie cringed. She looked back to her sister, who was looking at her with a sad smile. “I- I think so, sis...”

The other mares in the room exchanged glances.

“Ah’m sorry about doubting you and threatening ya’ll,” Applejack said, stepping up to Sweetie and giving her a hug. “Ah’m glad ah got to spend some time with ya’ll last night.”

“Me too...” Sweetie said, returning the hug. “I’ll always remember that song.”

“Make sure ya do!” Applejack smiled. “Ah’m sure all other Applejacks out there will like it.”

Fluttershy was next, gently nuzzling Sweetie Belle. “Take care... and... take care of Big Mac in whatever world you see him for me...”

Sweetie chuckled. “I will.”

Pinkie Pie’s hug was so strong she pushed out all the air out of Sweetie’s longs. “You should come back someday and have another party with us!” she laughed. “And remember, true friendship lasts forever!”

Sweetie Belle was still taking deep breaths when she felt Rainbow Dash’s hoof in her mane. The Wonderbolt smirked. “It was awesome to talk to you about Scoots and stuff that happened back in the day!” She laughed. “I had almost forgotten all about that Mare-do-Well fiasco. Take care, kiddo.”

Vespa smiled. “It was nice to finally meet you, Sweetie Belle. Granny Scoots used to tell me a lot about you.”

One by one the ponies walked out of the library after saying their goodbyes, leaving Sweetie Belle alone with Rarity and Twilight.

“Sweetie,” Twilight carefully laid the small wooden box on the table. “I also should return this.” Sweetie’s notebook floated up to them. “I added a couple of spells to it... it was very interesting to study! We have very different Spell Matrix designs in this universe, but it was easy enough to include what I wanted.”

Sweetie looked at her notebook. “So... what’s different now?”

“I included a spell that lets you ‘record’ your voice into the page, and another to allow you to have more pages included.” Twilight said with a proud smile. “That way you don’t have to worry about running out of space when taking notes!”

Sweetie smiled as she opened the book. Three pages were completely white except for a large G-clef on them. She looked at Twilight quizzically.

“That’s what happens when you record a song in there,” Twilight explained. “The page cannot be used again. All you have to do to play the music is press your horn against the note and it will play.”

Sweetie hugged Twilight. “Thank you... I don’t know how to tell you how much this means to me...”

“You already have, my student,” Twilight smiled into Sweetie’s mane. “Take care of yourself, and never stop learning.”

“I will...” Sweetie stepped back. “I promise.”

Twilight nodded and walked out of the library, leaving the sisters alone.

“I will miss you so much, Sweetie.” Rarity said, looking down. “But I won’t be the same as I was... I am stronger now, and it’s in no small measure thanks to you.”

“Me?” Sweetie blinked.

Rarity nodded. “Your stay here, although short, brought back a lot of memories... all of them good and dear to my heart. I realized a long time ago that what I did when you died was stupid... but even so, I’ve clung to my work and hidden behind my friend’s lives, living through Fluttershy, Applejack and Pinkie... thanks to you... I think I can finally close that chapter of my life and move forward.”

Sweetie smiled. “Are you going to go look for a coltfriend now?”

Rarity laughed as she warmly embraced her sister. “I just might,” she sniffed. “I just might.”

“Thank you for everything, sis,” Sweetie Belle murmured into her sister’s mane. “I love you.”

Rarity closed her eyes, letting a few tears slip out as she buried herself deeper into the embrace. “And I love you, Sweetie. Always.”

Sniffing, Sweetie stepped back, her horn alight with magic. First she slipped the picture she had found into her notebook, then let it pop out of existence. She then levitated the purple fragment up to her. She closed her eyes and let herself merge with it.

“Sweetie?” Twilight’s voice echoed in the darkness.

“I’m here, Twi... I’m trying to get you back together.”

“I’ve been here a long time, waiting for you...”

“I know,” Sweetie said. “Two hundred years... sorry I’m so late.”

“Oh no, I learned a lot from myself!” Twi’s voice chuckled. “Let’s go home.”

Rarity watched as her sister’s form slowly turned into motes of light that spiraled around each other. Her body trembled as tears formed in her eyes.

“I’m sorry I did what I did!” she suddenly said, a bit desperately at the fading unicorn. “I love you so much, Sweetie! I thought I couldn’t live without you! I’ll never make you sad again! I’ll never do something so stupid! I will always remember you and I know now that in many other places you live on, having adventures! I’ll never let myself be alone again! I promise!”

Startled, Sweetie opened her eyes as the motes of light almost completely dispersed. She smiled and mouthed two, simple words.

I know.


The first thing Sweetie noticed was the sound of a shower running. She opened her eyes and immediately recognized the shower in Carousel Boutique.

So, another world... she sighed. Well, it seems that the ‘me’ from here was about to take a shower... might as well finish doing it... I haven’t taken one since Nightmare Moon got my mane all sticky.

Sweetie walked up to the curtain and opened it. She stared at the mirror. That’s odd. We didn’t have a mirror inside the shower back home. This is... different.

She stared at her reflection. There was something odd about it. She seemed to have a slightly different build in this world. She blinked. My mirror self’s hair is wet... her eyes widened. Mirror images don’t get wet!

Sweetie took a step back, just as the colt in the shower did too, slipped and fell on his rump. They stared at each other.

“Oh Celestia...”

“Oh Solaris...”



A soft knock on the door made them turn away from each other and look towards the entrance. A soft male voice could be heard above the din of the shower.

“Sweepy? I heard you shout! Is everything okay?”

o.0.o End Chapter 3 o.0.o


A/N: You can read it here.

Wagon Wheel” By Old Crow Medicine Show

Heart’s Lament” Lyrics by Trevor

Next chapter: On A Cross and Arrow

Editors & Proof: Magical Trevor, littlerobotbird, Fifth Alicorn, Conner Cogwork (Consultant), Cardslafter, Dragryphon


“Silver? I heard you shout! Is everything okay?” Elusive called.

Sweetie and Silver looked at each other, eyes wide in confusion.

“I-” Sweetie stammered.

“We’re-” Silver sputtered. “I- What are you doing?”

“Me?!” Sweetie replied. “I just arrived! I’m not doing anything!”

There was another knock. Silver looked up and down Sweetie with wide eyes. “Quick! Hide!”

“Where?” Sweetie asked, starting to panic. “There’s nowhere to hide!”

“In the water! Quick!”

“No! I can’t hold my breath that long and-”

“Okay, I’m coming in!” the voice announced and the door knob started to turn.

Silver panicked and grabbed Sweetie, pushing her into the water and closing the curtain.

The door opened and Elusive walked in, eyebrow arched. “I thought I heard something, Silver,” he said, stopping and looking around the bathroom.

Silver smiled, poking his head through the curtains and grinning like an idiot while struggling to keep Sweetie behind the curtain. “Uh, you did? W-well, yeah... I- I dropped the soap!”

Elusive stared at him incredulously. “You... dropped the soap and screamed like a little filly?”

“Y-yeah! Uh, Scooteroll once told me what happens to pretty-faced stallions in prison when they drop the soap and-”

Elusive started coughing as he shook his head in disbelief. “He what?! How did he hear- no, wait...” He took a deep breath and glared at his younger brother. “Silver...”

The colt smiled innocently. “Yes, Elusive?”

“Why are you keeping the shower curtain so tight around you?”

“Um... because I’m naked and I want to keep a sense of decency?”

Elusive gave him a look. “Silver, we’re ponies. We’re naked most of the time. And that doesn’t explain why the curtain is moving so much.”

Silver looked to the side, where the curtain was being pushed outwards by Sweetie’s hooves as she tried desperately to get out of the water and the shower. “Uh... because... because of... the... uh, vapors?” he suggested lamely.

With a sigh, Elusive conjured up his magic and the curtain was pushed aside. “Are the other Crusaders in there with you? Now, I’ve told you before that you three can...” He stared. “Oh, my... Silver, is that a filly in the shower with you?”

Sweetie gasped for air and glared at Silver, using one of her hooves to push away the wet mane from her eyes. “The hay were you thinking?!”

“I don’t know!” Silver exclaimed, looking back at her. “What did you expect me to do?”

“Something other than throwing me into the water like that!” Sweetie snapped. “Aw... now my mane is completely soaked!”

“Well, you just appeared in here! What was I supposed to think?! Besides, I don’t even know you!” Silver retorted, shaking his head.

Elusive tried to hide a smile. “Well, she does look familiar. I wonder...” He took a couple of steps towards them, his magic flaring again to turn off the shower and levitate a pair of towels, which he wrapped around both youngsters.

Silver and Sweetie glared at each other from beneath the towels.

“Yeah... I think I do recognize you from somewhere...” Silver finally said. “Have you been to Ponyville before?”

“I live here!” Sweetie huffed.

“Well, I’ve never seen you before!”

“Well, I haven’t seen you either!”

“Now, now, Sweetie, Silver,” Elusive instructed calmly. “Just dry yourselves and we can talk a bit before bed time, okay?”

“Okay, Elusive...” Silver sighed as he started drying himself.

Sweetie, for her part, was staring at Elusive, towel forgotten. “Wait... how did you know my name?”

Elusive’s smile grew as his eyes twinkled in excitement. “Oh, I just knew it! This is the BEST POSSIBLE THING!”

She stared at the grinning stallion in front of her, staring as those familiar words echoed in her brain. Nopony else used those words except her sister. And this stallion... white, purple mane, blue eyes... was he actually...

“R... R-Rarity?”

Her eyes rolled back in her skull as everything faded to black.


Sweetie slowly became aware of two voices talking to each other right next to her. She groggily tried to shake her head, but the darkness seemed to cling to her. Eventually, as she became more aware of what was happening, she was able to slowly make out details.

“- but, she can’t be me!  She’s all... soft-looking...” one voice, sounding slightly perturbed, said.

“Well, she’s not you exactly. She’s Rarity’s sister, from the dimension where everypony’s the opposite gender,” another voice said. “Rarity told me about her; you two are really similar!”

“But... she’s... a filly...”

Sweetie’s eyes fluttered open and she squinted into the light. “Oww... my head...”

“Careful, dear, take it easy,” Elusive said soothingly. “You passed out... maybe it was the dimensional jump?”

“That’s silly,” Sweetie replied. “I’ve never passed out while jumping dimensions before; furthermore, since I usually end up in another body, my theory is that there is really no exertion, magical or otherwise, on my part for each jump.” She rubbed her head as she slowly started taking in her surroundings. “I guess, statistically speaking, I haven’t jumped enough times to have a serious point of reference, but...” she trailed off when she noticed that Silver and Elusive were staring blankly at her. “What?”

“Are you sure that she’s me in another universe?” Silver asked Elusive, who was staring at Sweetie, slack-jawed. “She sounds like an egg-head.”

“Hey!” Sweetie glared at Silver. “You don’t have to say it like that!

Elusive closed his mouth with an audible snap and cleared his throat before speaking. “Um, hi, Sweetie Belle. I’m Elusive and this is Silver; you might feel a bit confused at the moment, but that is normal. You see, how can I put this?” He sighed. “This is not your home universe; over here, we are the opposite gender than in your own world.”

Sweetie Belle giggled nervously. “I-it’s okay... I overheard you two just a bit when I was waking up.”

Elusive blinked. “Ah, I guess Rarity must have told you about us then... that’s good!” He smiled, but then blinked and yawned, covering his mouth with his hoof. “I’m so sorry, I’m afraid I’m rather tired. But first, have you eaten anything, Sweetie? Are you hungry?”

“I’m okay, I ate just before leaving...” Sweetie frowned. “Although I’m not quite sure how that works if I’m in another body in a different dimension.”

“I see,” Elusive nodded, eyes drooping. “Well, you can take Silver’s bed, he can sleep on the sofa-”

“Hey!” Silver interrupted. “Why do I have to give her my bed?”

Elusive could barely keep himself awake, but he still managed to frown at his brother. “Because you’re a gentlecolt, that’s why.” He yawned again. “We’ll all go see Dusk tomorrow then maybe we can show Sweetie around before sending her home...”

Upon hearing that, Sweetie’s heart beat harder. Can they really send me home? Do I want to go home? But... what about Twilight?

With one long, final yawn, Elusive tiredly made his way up the stairs into his room. It wasn’t long before they heard him shut the door.

Silver sighed. “Well, follow me...”

The pair started up the stairs in silence. Silver glanced behind him and noticed the far-away look on Sweetie. The more I look at her the more she looks like me! It’s weird! She’s... what I would look like as a filly! he realized, eyebrow twitching.

When they reached his room and went in, he motioned towards the bed. “There it is, enjoy...” he stated simply, his words in a resigned tone. He turned around to leave, but was stopped by Sweetie’s voice.

“Hey, Silver?”

“Yeah?” he asked, blinking tiredly as he turned to face her.

“I’m sorry I took your bed...” Sweetie said, jumping onto the bed. “Do you want to just sleep here? I think it’s big enough,” she offered.

The colt continued to stare a bit more, before he tentatively smiled. “Are... are you sure that’d be okay? I have to admit, I really hate sleeping on the sofa.”

Sweetie nodded. “Yeah, I remember... and don’t worry, I know I would hate it if somepony suddenly took over my bed!”

Silver grinned and jumped up on the bed, lying down. “Yeah, there’s enough space!” he yawned and watched lazily as Sweetie’s horn flashed with magic and the lights turned off while the door closed. “Sweetie?”


“Sorry I called you an egghead,” he muttered, already drifting into sleep.

“It’s okay,” Sweetie answered, snuggling into the pillow. “I actually took it as a compliment.”

There was a moment of silence.



“What are the other crusaders like? Is Scootaloo cute?”

“Cute?” Silver blinked. “Are you talking about Scooteroll? I don’t know about cute, he doesn’t seem to get along with fillies...”

“That doesn’t tell me much...”

“Well, what did you expect? I don’t think he’s cute, but you’ll probably meet him tomorrow, and then you can tell me, okay?”

Sweetie nodded, yawning. “Okay... goodnight, Silver.”

“Goodnight, Sweetie.”

Soon both of them were asleep.



Rarity stared at the porcelain cup containing the already cold tea. A freezing breeze entered through the open window, leaving her shivering, but she chose to stay put, her eyes lost in thought.

Opalescence, looking more grayish than white, purred and rubbed herself against Rarity's side to no avail. Eventually, the cat stopped and looked sadly at its master. With a soft meow, she walked away, leaving Rarity on her own.

The wind blew again, the curtains flapped around as Rarity shivered once more.

“Rarity?” a soft voice called as the creaking sound of the door opening echoed through the silent house. “Are you here? Today's Spa Tuesday and...” Fluttershy stopped at the entrance to the kitchen. “Rarity... you're freezing!” she quickly galloped to the window and shut it tight. She went out of the room to come back with a thick blanket, which she draped over Rarity's shoulders.

Rarity's teeth slowed in their chattering, but it continued and her shivering didn't lessen at all. Worried, Fluttershy heated some water and made more tea, which she placed in front of Rarity. “Drink this, it will help.”

Rarity, however just stared at the cup, until Fluttershy lifted her chin so that she could stare into her eyes. “Rarity! You will drink this tea now!”

Taken aback, the unicorn nodded and slowly sipped at the tea.

Fluttershy nodded as slowly a bit of rosiness returned to Rarity's cheeks. “What happened? How long have you had that window open?”

“Uh?” Rarity shook her head, looking tiredly at Fluttershy. “Oh... I... I don't know dear, since this morning? After we left Applejack's house and Applebloom was bringing the drawings out of their clubhouse...”

“Rarity...” Fluttershy whispered in horror. “That... that was yesterday morning! Have you just been sitting here since then?”

Rarity slowly dropped down, taking a shaking sip of her tea.

“Has the window been open since then?”

Rarity nodded.

“Rarity... it snowed last night.” Fluttershy went to stand next to her friend. “Come on, we need to get you in a warm bath... I'd better get Twi-” she stopped suddenly. “I- I mean... Nurse Redheart.”

Rarity however, didn't seem to notice; she was barely able to stand.

“Wait... wait here...” Fluttershy said, guiding Rarity to the couch and helping her settle in it. “I'll go get help... I'll cook you a meal and... just... I'll be right back...” she galloped out as fast as she could.

Rarity didn't say anything at first. She just shivered under the heavy blanket.

“Sweetie...” she whispered.

Silver drowsily opened his eyes, wondering what had woken him up. He looked to the side when he heard a whimper.

Sweetie turned, her face contorted in a frown as she whimpered again and curled up.

Silver slowly placed his hoof on her shoulder and sighed in relief when she relaxed and smiled, going back to peaceful sleep.

Too tired to do much else, he yawned and lay down, closing his eyes.


Early the next morning, Elusive cheerfully knocked on Silver’s door. “Silver! Wake up!”

He heard a groan from inside. “Five more minutes!”

Rolling his eyes and shaking his head in amusement, Elusive chuckled. “Fine, but be sure to make it only five; your friends will be here shortly!” He then turned around and took a couple of steps down the hall before stopping completely, a realization coming to mind as a frown crossed his face. Wait... that didn’t sound like Silver...

He walked back up to the room and inside. He blinked as the memory of last night returned to him and the pieces fit together. “Oh, that’s right... Sweetie is here.” It didn’t take long for him to notice a second ivory foal,  passed out right next to her.  Chuckling to himself,  he left the room as he spoke. “Five minutes, you two! Remember that!”

The groans and mutters were answer enough for him as he went down to prepare breakfast.

It was barely a few minutes later when the stallion heard confused shouts coming from the room. They must have forgotten that they were sleeping together, he thought to himself, stifling a laugh.

Elusive levitated the last of the waffles and placed them upon a plate, levitating the whole pile towards the table while counting in his head. Right on cue, Sweetie and Silver ran down the stairs together, each of them sporting a similar expression of hunger. It was just... strange at times to think how similar and yet different things were between different worlds.

“Wow, waffles!” Silver salivated. “I love these! We should have them more often!”

“Waffles?” Sweetie asked, looking down at her plate. “I’ve never had waffles before.”

“What?” Silver’s eyes went wide. “You’ve never had waffles?! What do you have for breakfast then?”

“Pancakes?” Sweetie replied hesitantly as she levitated a fork and knife. “Spike even taught me Princess Celestia’s favorite pancake recipe!”

Elusive chuckled. “Well, Spines is rumored to know Prince Solaris’ favorite waffle recipe.”

“But... never eaten a waffle?” Silver insisted. “That’s just... wrong...”

Sweetie poured some syrup and took a bite of the waffle. She chewed on it for a few seconds, before her eyes lit in approval. “Hm, not bad...”

“I see that you are very proficient with your magic, dear,” Elusive commented after a moment of watching. “Did Rarity teach you?”

Sweetie blinked, noticing for the first time that Silver was eating without the use of magic, while both her horn and Elusive’s were shining as they used theirs to eat. “Oh... well, not exactly. Rarity asked Twilight to teach me, and that’s how I learned!”

Elusive gave Silver a considering glance. “Hm... that doesn’t sound like a bad idea; Dusk could probably spare some time to at least teach Silver some basic magic.”

Silver gave them a horrified look. “More studying? Yuck! I’d much rather find my cutie mark!”

Sweetie looked down to her own blank flank. “Yeah, I hear you there.”

Elusive smiled. “Well, I’m sure you two can try to find it later. First, I think we should talk to Dusk about when you can go home, Sweetie.”

I can go home! Sweetie thought excitedly, a wide smile crossing her face. I can finally see sis and my Scootaloo and Apple Bloom... I’ll be able to study with Twilight and... She stopped her thoughts as her smile disappeared. But... Twilight and Spike will still be gone... or at least I think so... what am I going to do? Don’t I need to rescue them before going home?

Elusive noticed her frown. “Are you okay, Sweetie?”

“Uh, yeah... I- I’m okay,” she stammered. “I was just thinking... do you think this ‘Dusk’ pony will be able to help me?”

Elusive raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t Rarity tell you? Dusk is Twilight’s counterpart.”

“Oh...” Sweetie smiled sheepishly. “My... Rarity never said anything about counterparts...”

A pained expression briefly flitted across Elusive’s face. “Oh...”

Sweetie blinked. “Was... was she supposed to? She went away recently, so...”

“N-no, it’s okay,” Elusive said, pushing away a strand of his mane. “I, I understand if- if she didn’t feel like telling you... we didn’t want to part ways so quickly and I-”

“Ooh Ooh! I just remembered something!” Silver exclaimed suddenly, jumping to his hooves. “I have to get ready, I’ll be right back!”

Sweetie looked angrily at Silver as her counterpart disappeared upstairs. “He wasn’t even paying attention!”

Elusive blinked and stood up as well, smiling a little. “He’s sometimes like that... I have to get ready as well; I’ll be back soon.”

Sweetie sighed as she was left alone. Her horn shimmered as the dirty plates levitated one-by-one into the sink. She looked around the room. The decorations between her Carousel Boutique and this one were very similar. The color scheme, the positioning of things all similar... and yet... it had a masculine touch to it, although she couldn’t put her hoof on exactly how. Were the curtains a bit darker? Was the furniture just a bit less rounded, and with slightly sharper edges? What was it?

Maybe the glasses? The plates... the table seemed a bit sturdier than the one she had back home. Could that be it?

The doorbell rang. Her musing interrupted, she leapt from the table and trotted into the main room, running on autopilot as she opened the door.

“Yes? Who is it-”

“Heya Silver!” came a pair of voices from the two colts seated in front of her.

She froze in place, eyes taking in the ponies standing right before her. A yellow earth pony, and an orange pegasus. Not usually an unfamiliar sight, if it weren’t for the fact that there was something else clashing against her mind’s eye... the fact that the yellow one was wearing a faded baseball cap and not a bow, and the obvious cue that these two were not simply Applebloom and Scootaloo... they were Applebloom and Scootaloo as colts.

“Hey, Silver!” Scooteroll said with a bright smile. “Ready to go crusading?”

"Oh, um, hey, Scoot... eroll," Sweetie said hesitantly.

Applebuck frowned as he looked at her. “Heeeey... Silver, did Elusive do something to your hair again? You look a bit different.”

Sweetie blinked, caught off-guard. “I do?”

Scooteroll looked at her closely. “Hey, yeah! You look... no offense Silver, but you look even more like a filly than usual.”

Sweetie straightened up a bit. “Is that a problem?”

“Hey,” Scooteroll backed up a bit. “I said ‘no offense’, right? Calm down, it’s not like I’m actually calling you a filly or anything!”

“But... what’s wrong with being a filly?” Sweetie asked, irritated. I can tell that they’re colts... can’t they tell I really AM a filly?

“Well... nothing,” Applebuck admitted after a second. “Ah mean, my big sis is real strong and all and Ah guess she’s cool... but, you know, fillies are... icky.”

A delicate eyebrow went up. “Icky?” Sweetie repeated.

“What’s gotten into you, Silver?” Scooteroll rolled his eyes in annoyance. “This isn’t the time to talk about fillies. We should be getting our cutie marks!”

Sweetie glared at him with such intensity that he took a step back. “Talking about fillies is not a bad thing!” She slammed the door shut and stomped into the kitchen, brushing past a confused Silver.

“Is something wrong?” he asked.

She sniffed dismissively, “Colts,” and went upstairs, presumably to get ready herself.

Silver blinked in confusion when he heard the doorbell. He trotted up to the door and opened it.

“Hey guys!”

Scooteroll and Applebuck both glared at him.

“What’d you do that for?!” Scooteroll asked, pushing Silver a bit with his hoof.

Silver brushed it away with a frown. “Do what?”

“Act like a prissy, little filly!” Scooteroll retorted, getting his face really close to Silver’s, who glared back just as intensely.

“I’m not acting like a filly!” Silver shot back.

“Are too!”

“Am not!”

“Are too!”

Slowly, Applebuck’s frown started to fade as a look of dawning comprehension seeped in, eyes widening in horror as he looked past Silver, seeing Elusive walking towards them in the company of... another Silver? No... his fears were confirmed as he glanced from one to the other and he remembered cousin ‘Jay Jay’.

“You’re whining like a filly! Stop it already!” Scooteroll snapped. He rolled his eyes and, raising his right hoof flaccidly, said, “Oh, fillies are the best, look at me! I am Silver and I look so much like a filly I act like one too!”

“Hey! I’ve never done anything like that!” Silver said angrily.

“Ah think maybe we should all calm down...” Applebuck ventured, trailing off as Scooteroll ignored him.

“Oh, I’m so delicate!” Scooteroll pranced from side to side in front of Silver, who was now fuming. “I like sweet things, the color pink, and to talk about jewelry! I am scared of spiders and am completely useless!”

When Applebuck saw Sweetie’s expression, he took a couple of steps away from the prancing pegasus, making sure he was not in the way of whatever was going to happen.

“Listen, Silver,” Scooteroll began, affecting his best Rainbow Blitz impression as he looked down at his unicorn friend. “You have to really stallion-up, y’know? Stuff like what just happened? So not cool.”

Silver looked up at Scooteroll, eyebrows raised in surprise. The blue-white aura around the young pegasus seemed familiar to him, although he couldn’t place it. “Scooteroll... you’re-”

“Fillies are not cool, okay? Just drop the whole being offended thing when we talk about them, and we can go on with our lives.”

“Scooteroll! You’re flying!” Silver finally shouted.

“I am?! I am!” Scooteroll tried flapping his wings. “Wait! Why am I not moving? Hey... I’m still flying without flapping? How does that work?”

Suddenly, he was pulled roughly into the Carousel Boutique and found himself upside down and staring into the angry eyes of Silver Belle. Wait a second... “You’re not Silver!”

“No,” Sweetie Belle growled. “I’m a filly! And I am going to show you exactly how useless I am!”

“Uh-oh...” Applebuck whispered, quickly stepping up. “Uh, miss... uh... Silver?”

“Sweetie,” the filly corrected, without taking her eyes off the terrified Scooteroll.

“Uh, Miss Sweetie, Scooteroll was only being... um...”

“Himself?” Sweetie offered, stealing a glance at Apple Buck before returning her glare to Scooteroll. “Well, let’s see how afraid he is of spiders...”

Her horn flashed and a nearby rock turned into a horribly furry, black tarantula with red eyes and really big fangs that dripped venom as it looked hungrily at the hovering pegasus. It slowly moved towards Scooteroll, who started struggling violently to get away.

“H-hey! Wait! Let’s talk about this! Come on!”

It was about then that the commotion at the door caught Elusive’s attention. He stared in surprise at Sweetie as the filly held Scooteroll upside down against his will, and at the same time managing to cast two more spells. When he saw the real fear in Scooteroll’s eyes, he knew he had to step in.

“Sweetie, that’s quite enough,” he said gently, putting his hoof between them.

Sweetie frowned. “No, he said only fillies would be scared of spiders. Let’s see how he likes it when one bites him!”

“Sweetie Belle!” Elusive’s voice was harsh. “I said that’s enough. Look at him! That’s enough!”

Sweetie blinked, glare softening as she looked at the terrified pegasus. Immediately she dispelled the illusion that had transfigured the rock into a spider. She carefully deposited the pegasus on the floor, where he scrambled away from the rock.

Elusive shook his head at Sweetie, who simply looked away, cheeks burning in shame, and turned to Scooteroll. “Are you okay, Scooteroll?”

The young pegasus took a couple of deep breaths before standing up, still a bit shaky. “Y-yeah...”

There was an awkward silence for all ponies present. Applebuck and Silver exchanged nervous glances while the elder stallion turned from Scooteroll towards his ‘sister’. “Sweetie... I realize that since you’re new here, something like this was bound to happen. Nonetheless, without your sister here to do so, I feel it’s my place to say... don’t you have something to say to the poor pony here?”

Sweetie sighed. “I’m sorry, Scooteroll. I shouldn’t have done that...”

Scooteroll looked a bit embarrassed. “It’s- It’s okay. I wasn’t really afraid...” he cringed when Elusive raised an eyebrow. “But... I guess I shouldn’t have said bad things about fillies either. I didn’t even KNOW you were... gosh, you look just like Silver.”

“That’s cause she IS Silver, ain’t she Mister ‘Lusive?” the Applebuck piped up, looking up at the suitmaker. “This is just like that thing a while ago wit’ Cousin JayJay, isn’t it?”

Elusive smiled and nodded in confirmation.

Sweetie smiled. “Well... I’ll forgive you, if you forgive me?”

Scooteroll nervously grinned back and bumped a shaking hoof with her. “Deal.”

Silver snapped his mouth shut. “How did you do all that?! I thought we were basically the same! I can’t even levitate a feather yet!”

Sweetie gave him a level look. “Study, study, study...”

The three colts recoiled as if a cow had licked their faces. “Ugh...” Silver shook his head. “Maybe I don’t want to know...”

“Maybe I should talk to Dusk,” Elusive said, a hint of a smile playing on his mouth. “I’m sure he’d be happy to take you on as an apprentice, and, if you can advance this much, well...”

Silver quickly shook his head. “Never mind!”

Elusive chuckled. “We still have to go, or at least Sweetie and I do. Would you three like to come as well?”

Applebuck looked at the others and then back to Elusive. “Do we have to study if we go?”

“No,” Elusive assured as he took the lead. “Knowing Dusk, he’ll be busy planning something for tonight. But we do have to talk about Sweetie now... if I remember correctly, the dimension-hopping spell took some work, so you three can take Sweetie with you while you go crusading.”

“But Sweetie’s a-” Scooteroll found his mouth covered by a hoof.

“A- a good choice to bring along! Yes!” Applebuck said with an exaggerated smile.

Sweetie giggled and rolled her eyes. “Colts.”


“Why did you need ‘Memoirs of a 12th Generation Seamstress’ again, Dusk?” Spines asked.

Dusk rolled his eyes. “I’ve told you before, this has to be exactly like the original! When other ponies recognize me, I don’t want them to say ‘Oh, it’s missing the hat!’ or ‘Hey, Dusk, they didn’t have Nylon six hundred years ago!’”

Spines blinked. “What is Nylon?”

“I don’t know!” Dusk snapped. “I just know they didn’t have it six hundred years ago, okay?!”

Spines cringed. “Touchy!” She left the book next to Dusk and was about to walk into the kitchen when she heard a knock at the door. A glance told her that Dusk was not going to even attempt to open it so, with a sigh, she walked up to it and opened it. “I’m sorry, but this is not the best time to go in there and- and-” Little hearts appeared in her eyes. “Aaaaaannnd Elusive! How nice of you to stop by! Please, come in, come in!”

“Good morning, Spines!” Elusive greeted with a wink that seemed to melt the dragoness where she stood. “Where is Dusk this fine morning?”

“He’s working on his project and-” She looked at the Crusaders and the filly. “And...” She frowned. “Does that filly look a lot like Silver? Or is it just me?” She gasped, looking at the suit maker in horror. “Elusive! You have a daughter?!”

The sound of a chair scraping on wooden floor followed by a scream of pain and a thud that echoed in the library as Dusk tried to jump out of the chair at the same time he pushed it back at the same time he levitated the newest book he was reading at the same time he inadvertently set three more down on top of his tail.

The group watched with morbid fascination as the studious unicorn collapsed in a heap of books, furniture and pony.

“Oh, my!” Elusive gasped, quickly using his magic to levitate the books and chair off his friend. “Are you okay, Dusk?”

The Crusaders had rushed to watch closely, and Sweetie couldn’t help but also stand to the side and watch as Dusk slowly stood and shook his head.

Her breath caught in her throat. His purple mane shook ever so slightly as he turned those wonderfully violet eyes in her direction.

Sweetie smiled shyly. Intellectually, she knew that this stallion was essentially her mentor, Twilight Sparkle. At the same time... she could feel her little heart pounding away like it never had before. She could see how intelligent this stallion was. He has to be! He lives in a library! She felt herself blush ever so slightly as he raised an eyebrow at her and smiled. Such a nice smile... I could look at it forever... and he’s talking to me! What should I say? What should I answer? Wait... what did he ask?

“I- I’m sorry, what was that?” Sweetie stammered.

“I asked what your name was,” Dusk repeated himself calmly. “You do resemble Silver a lot and...” His  eyes widened. “Wait... are you from another dimension?”

“Wow...” Sweetie gushed. “Dusk... you’re so smart! It usually takes me an hour or two of explaining!” She batted her eyes at him. “Please... say more...”

“Uh... right,” Dusk said uncomfortably as Elusive and Spines watched in amusement. “Elusive, how is this possible?”

Elusive smiled. “Well, Dusk my friend, this is why we’re here. Surely you of all ponies should have an idea as to why Sweetie Belle here would suddenly appear in my home.”

Dusk sighed. “If I know Twilight, she probably tried studying something about interdimensional travel again and-”

“Wow...” Sweetie interrupted, almost hovering in place as her smile grew and her eyelids lowered invitingly. “Dusk... you know so much... just one glance and you knew everything about me... I’d like to study with you for a little while and learn more...”

Dusk took a nervous step back. “Um... aha... lu-look at the time! I... ah... I- I have to...” He turned to Elusive. “Um... help?”

Elusive couldn’t help but laugh at his friend’s obvious panic. “I’m sorry, Dusk. I shouldn’t laugh but...” He covered his mouth for a moment. “This... this is just precious!”

Silver stared at Sweetie, completely horrified.

Applebuck chuckled and elbowed him. “Heh... Ah didn’t know you liked the stu- stoody... the smart types!”

“Studious?” Silver asked.

“What are you? A dictionary?” Scooteroll asked, raising an eyebrow.

“What’s your problem?” Silver glared at Scooteroll.

“No, what’s your problem?” Scooteroll retorted, getting in Silver’s face.

“Boys,” Dusk started, “I don’t think this is-”

“Don’t mind them...” Sweetie said, smiling at him. “They’re just colts... why don’t we talk about something more interesting? Like... Time Diffusion theory? Or maybe Spell Matrices? I have some experience with those...”

Despite himself, Dusk looked interested. “Really? I haven’t had much time to study the more complicated Matrices, just second tier and those are-”

“Dull and simple,” Sweetie completed for him. “I know, I happen to have an item with me that has no less than forty-two nodes for the Matrix to work with... thirty of which were added later, without destroying the functional sequence...”

Dusk gasped. “That’s- that’s possible?! But everything I’ve read indicates that you can only double the amount of nodes at the most... any more would completely overwhelm the spell matrix!”

The three Crusaders had stopped fighting and, along with Spines and Elusive, had were openly gawking at Dusk and Sweetie.

“But you’re not looking at it the right way; that’s only if you try to simply add more functions rather than redirect the spell fluctuation from say N1 to N7, therefore bypassing-”  Sweetie explained.

“A-anyway...” Elusive interrupted. “We were hoping that you could help Sweetie return home? I know you’re busy tonight, but I’m sure Rarity is worried and-”

Both Sweetie and Dusk glared at him in annoyance at having their discussion disrupted. But then Dusk sighed. “I am pretty busy with preparations for tonight...” He glanced at his research.

“Hey! Maybe I can help!” Sweetie grinned hopefully.

“Uh, no thank you,” Dusk said, smiling sheepishly. “This is a personal project and I want it to be a surprise for everypony.”

“Oh...” Sweetie looked a bit dejected.

“But don’t worry. I know the spell pretty well by now and we can cast it tomorrow!” Dusk assured with a smile. “And tonight, if you’re up for it, we can talk magical theory.”

Sweetie smiled. “I would like that.”

“That reminds me...” Elusive looked at Sweetie as he walked around her, eyeing her critically. “Yes, yes... that will definitely... I haven’t tried my hoof at one of those yet, but I think...”

“What is it?” Silver asked.

“I’m just thinking of what I can make for Sweetie to wear tonight, brother...” Elusive smiled.  "I-dee-aaa~!  I’ll get to work on it right away, since she’ll be spending the night. We wouldn’t want her to miss any of the festivities!”

Scooteroll looked at Applebuck and leaned in close to whisper, “I think we should all get out of here before Sweetie and Dusk smother us with theory.”

Applebuck nodded. “Well, we were going to go try the manticore thing... and Sweetie also needs her Cutie Mark... and she’s a Crusader... Plus she knows magic, maybe if she helps...”

A spark came to Scooteroll’s eyes. “Exactly. Let’s scram!”

“Well!” Applebuck interrupted Elusive as he was about to explain what exactly he was planning on making. “Ah think we should give Sweetie Belle a tour and maybe see if we can earn our... uh... d-daisy plantin’ Cutie Marks.”

“Daisy plan-” Silver found Scooteroll’s hoof covering his muzzle.

“Yeah! Cutie Mark Crusaders Daisy Planters! Wooo!” Scooteroll waved his free hoof in the air.

“Right!” Applebuck nodded. “And Sweetie should come with us, because she also is a Crusader and she probably would like to earn hers as well, right?”

Elusive and Dusk chuckled. “Well then, Sweetie, why don’t you go with Silver, Scooteroll and Applebuck? I’m sure you’ll have a good time!”

Sweetie looked at Dusk, then at the books. “But... but the books-”

“Will still be here tomorrow,” Elusive assured the student, herding the filly and the three colts out. “Don’t worry, you’ll have time to study with Dusk later on.”

“I’ll see you all later tonight!” Dusk called after them.

“See you later!” Sweetie yelled back as the door closed behind them.

They all stood outside the library for a moment before Elusive smiled. “Okay, I have work to do. You four enjoy yourselves and don’t get into trouble!”

“We won’t...” Silver groaned. “Not if we’re planting daisies.”

Elusive chuckled and walked away, leaving the four alone.

“That was very well done, Silver!” Scooteroll said.

“Yeah. Ah almost believed you!” Applebuck added, playfully punching Silver on the shoulder.

Silver blinked. “Wait, what?”

Scooteroll facehoofed. “You... you didn’t think we were really going to plant daisies, did you?”

Silver blinked again as he thought about it. Then his eyes lit up as a smile played on his lips. “Ooooh, I get it!”

Sweetie shook her head ashamedly. “Was I really like that?”

Applebuck gave her a straight, deadpan look that would have made Applejack proud. “Most likely? Yes.”


“So, what are we really doing then?” Sweetie asked as she walked behind the three crusaders, stopping from time to time to stare at familiar ponies that were, well... male instead of female.

"Well, Ah figured that, since you can use magic, we can change our plans and do something more interestin'!"

"Like what, exactly?" Sweetie pressed, raising an eyebrow.

"Cutie Mark Crusaders Manticore Catchers! Yay!" the three colts bellowed at the same time.

“Manticore Catchers?” Sweetie blinked.

The three colts stopped and looked at her.

“You don’t think it’s a good idea?” Silver asked.

“Well, she’s been acting more like Dusk so-” Scooteroll started to say.

“That’s awesome!” Sweetie gushed. “We wanted to do it last time, but Applejack caught us on the way to the forest and-”

“Wait...” Applebuck said. “Where ‘xactly did cousin Jay Jay see you?”

“Right as we crossed the bridge,” Sweetie began. “She heard us talking about-”

“Growing daisies,” Scooteroll interrupted.

“What?” Sweetie and Silver blinked.

“Y-yeah,” Applebuck added. “We can gain our... uh, farmer... or florist Cutie Marks that way...”

Silver frowned. “But why would we want-”

“Ah’m glad ta hear some common sense comin’ out of your mouths!” A male voice broke in.

Sweetie looked up to stare at the speaker. And up. And up.

He looked... well, like Applejack, as she had suspected, only... bigger and stronger... and he had a yoke around his neck. Just like Big Macintosh, she realized. Except... not quite as big? He’s really close though!

Applejack raised an eyebrow as the filly stared at him. “Now, Ah know Ah haven’t met you before, but Ah don’t think starin’ like that’s polite.”

Sweetie started and lowered her head, smiling sheepishly. “I’m sorry! You just reminded me so much of Applejack and--”

“Applejack?” Applejack asked. His eyes narrowed slightly, taking in the small unicorn filly... and the unicorn colt seated right next to her. “Hey, now that Ah think about it... you actually look a lot like Silver here.”

“That’s cause she’s Rarity’s sister!” Applebuck explained happily. “She’s somehow gone and ended up over here!”

Applejack’s eyebrows shot up. “Well, Ah’ll be. Did Twilight cast that spell again? Ah swear, she an’ Dusk have no common sense sometimes.”

“Um, well, no...” Sweetie chuckled slightly. “It wasn’t Twilight’s fault... but Dusk thinks he can send me home tomorrow. I’m staying with Elusive and Silver in the meantime.”

Applejack sighed and glared at his brother. “Applebuck, you best keep an eye on her, and you too, Scooteroll and Silver. You know how we feel about those mares and how we ought to be doin’ right by ‘em.” When the three colts nodded, he smiled. “Well, if Dusk knows and Elusive is putting you up for the night, Ah guess that’s okay. So, Ah heard you four were goin’ to be planting some daisies to earn your cutie marks?”

“Yes... that’s the plan,” Scooteroll said, smiling so honestly it was hard to believe him.

Applejack raised an eyebrow. "Well... that's a mite less... uh, drastic than your last few tries.” He coughed. “An’... well... Ah hope you find your callin’s... even if it is plantin’ daisies.”

“Where are you going, Applejack?” Scooteroll asked as the apple farmer started walking past them.

“Ah’m goin’ to meet with the Mayor. He’s havin’ some trouble with supplies for tonight, or so Ah hear.” He chuckled. “Ah’m sure there won’t be any problems, but the ol’ man needs to be told so. You four enjoy yourselves, y’hear?”

“Will do!” Silver saluted.

The group watched in silence as Applejack trotted away into the distance. As he departed, he could be heard muttering “If it ain’t one thing, it’s another. Next thing ah know, it’ll be Applebuck’s ‘cousin’ showin’ up...”

“Wow, that was close,” Applebuck sighed. “It’s a good thing ya’ll told us what happened in your world, Sweetie!”

“Oh, so that’s what it was all about!” Silver said.

“Well, duh~” Scooteroll rolled his eyes. “At least now we can get our real Cutie Marks!”

“Instead of fake ones?” Sweetie quipped.

Scooteroll glared at her. “You know what I mean. Who would want a Cutie Mark that meant your destiny was planting daisies?”

All four shuddered.

“I see your point,” Sweetie agreed.

Applebuck nodded. “That would be pathetic. Ah mean, of all the cool things you can have as a Cutie Mark, daisies is, well...”

“Sad? Deplorable? Heartbreaking? Inadequate? Lamentable? Pitiable? Worthless?” Silver offered.

“Wow, I do sound like a dictionary...” Sweetie mumbled.


The four looked up. A stallion with a magenta coat, green mane and two daisies on his Cutie Mark turned to glare at the group before sniffing dismissively and walking away, offended.

“Should we... apologize?” Sweetie asked.

“Nah, he must be used to the abuse by now,” Scooteroll said. “Let’s get going.”


The sun was slowly falling towards the horizon by the time Silver and Sweetie strolled back into the Carousel Boutique.

“And how was your day?” Elusive asked.

“It was great!” Silver replied.

“Oh?” Elusive looked at them with interest, making both cringe a bit and shuffle self-consciously. “Did you do anything special?”

“Um... we showed Sweetie around and took her to the club house...”

“Oh, yes, it was very interesting! It’s almost identical to the Ponyville I come from!” Sweetie added. “Although I wonder... is Sugarcube Corner the same?”

“Well, you could go check...” Silver offered after a moment. “I, uh, have some stuff to do for tonight...” He scratched at the floor with his hoof, looking down. “And, uh, you know the way, right?”

Sweetie nodded. “Sure! Okay, I’ll get going; should I bring anything back for you guys?”

“I think we’re fine, dear,” Elusive said, glancing at Silver. “Be sure to say hi to Berry Bubble for me!”

She faltered in her steps for a second, brain working to make the connection, before turning back.“Okay!” Sweetie smiled to the two, as she walked out of the door.

As soon as she was out of the door, Elusive turned to look at Silver inquisitively. “I can tell when you are trying to avoid somepony, Silver. What are you up to?”

Silver cringed. “Well... I- I have something... for Sweetie...”

Elusive’s eyebrow arched. “Really...?”


Sweetie hummed to herself as she trotted down Ponyville towards Sugarcube Corner. This is so weird, she thought as she passed a male version of Carrot Top. Everypony is different, and yet... the same! I never really thought how different my life would have been if I had been a colt... but I never would have guessed that I would be basically the same... She sighed. If I hadn’t been sent through different worlds... Silver is nice but he seems... She grimaced... foalish... now I feel old...

She suddenly hit something soft. Or rather, somepony. With a mutual cry of surprise, both fell back.

“Hey, watch where you’re going!” a female voice said.

“Sorry!” Sweetie shook her head as she stood up, extending a hoof to help the other filly up. “I was just distracted!”

“I guess it’s fine...” the filly said, gratefully accepting Sweetie’s hoof.

The filly she helped up had a grayish-blue coat and a burnt-orange mane. She was a bit on the heavier side and she reminded her of...

Her face took on a look of unabashed shock as she blurted out “Snips?!”

“Sugar... my name is Sugar,” the filly replied, giving Sweetie an odd look. “Do I remind you of somepony else?”

Sweetie nodded. “U-uhm, yeah. Somepony from... way back. Sorry about that.”

“Sugar, there you are!” another female voice called. They both looked up to see a taller, skinnier filly trotting happily up to them. “So, are we getting some muffins or cupcakes today?” She had a  turquoise mane and a yellowish coat.

“Spice!” Sugar smiled. “Yes, I hear that Berry Bubble has a new recipe! Can’t wait to see what he baked this time!” She looked at Sweetie. “Would you like to come with?”

“Um, sure. I was going there anyway.” Sweetie nodded, still a little baffled by what she was seeing. She shook her head, clearing the shock out of her system before facing them again. “My name is Sweetie Belle, nice too meet you!”

“Nice to meet you, Sweetie Belle!” Sugar and Spice chorused as they started walking towards Sugarcube Corner.

“So, I haven’t seen you around here before,” Sugar said after a moment. “Did you just move?”

“Hm... I don’t know...” Spice muttered, looking closely at Sweetie. “She does reminds me of somepony... that mane... that coat...”

I knew this would happen sooner or later. she thought to herself, sweating slightly under their curious gazes. Everypony I’ve met so far knew about this genderswap business, but these two... What was it that Applebuck said? He said that Applejack was his... ‘cousin’, right?

“I, um... I’m Silver’s cousin!” Sweetie interjected, smiling weakly. “I came to visit for a couple of days.”

It wasn’t the most creative cover, but it was enough to sate the fillies’ curiosity, their heads nodding in understanding. “Oooh, and you came in time for Nightmare Night!” Sugar bounced excitedly. “It’s the most amazing night, like, ever!”

Sweetie grinned. “Yes, I love Nightmare Night!”

Spice nodded knowingly. “And we have the best pranksters! Between Rainbow Blitz and Berry Bubble, there’s going to be a lot of fun scares!”

“I can imagine,” Sweetie giggled. “Silver and the others are all really excited about tonight!”

The two fillies exchanged glances, then looked at Sweetie. “You mean the Crusaders?”

Sweetie nodded. “Yeah, Silver, Scooteroll and Applebuck.”

“So... are you interested in any of them?” Sugar asked, eyes glinting.

Sweetie blinked and then blushed furiously. “What? No! I can’t date other crusaders!”

That stopped the other two. “Wait, you’re a crusader? I thought it was an only-colts club,” Spice said.

“We-well...” Sweetie stammered. “It’s really up to them, but I think it really has to do with finding your Cutie Mark... why would you crusade for it if you already have it?”

Both fillies nodded. “That makes sense,” Sugar ceded. “Most of the other colts and fillies already have theirs.”

“Well, Estella doesn’t,” Spice pointed out. “Maybe she could join the Crusaders.”

“But... why would you want to hang around a group of colts? No offense, Sweetie, but well, colts are... colts, you know? Rough and tumble, don’t play nice? Like, nasty stuff like snails?”

Sweetie chuckled. “Well, crusading is fun, but it might not be for everypony.”

The three shared a laugh as they finally reached Sugarcube Corner. Before any of them could enter however, the upper part of the door opened in a confetti-coated blast, revealing a pink stallion with puffy hair, blue eyes and a really bright smile looked out at the laughing fillies. “Heya everypony! Guess what?! My newest recipe, the Banana-PB-Blueberry muffin is complete! Would you fillies like a sample!?”

Sweetie’s eyes flashed, the memorable taste of those muffins almost tangible upon her tongue. “Oh, I love those!” she gushed, bouncing in place. “Can I have two?”

Berry Bubble looked at her, uncomprehending at first. “But, how would you know how they taste like...”

The pink stallion trailed off, her eyes slowly becoming wider, his pupils shrinking as he proceeded to speak in a very quiet voice. “You’re a new pony in Ponyville.”

“She’s Silver Belle’s cousin!” Sugar piped up, face in a smile. “She’s visiting for Nightmare Night tonight!”

The white filly froze in place, realizing that if Berry DID know who she was... was he going to blurt it out in front of these two fillies who had no idea? “W-well...” she began. “Y’see, I- I...”

“And since you’re a new pony in ponyville...” he continued, eyes still riveted on her, the two unicorns on either side of her giving each other confused glances. “Do you know what this calls for?”

She trembled a little, briefly forgetting what it was that Pinkie usually did on such an occasion. “A... a-a... a p-pa-”

"Aaaaa PARTY~!!" he finished exuberantly, leaping into the air, his earlier quiet and suspicious mood now nowhere to be seen. “Oh, this is just PERFECT, and right in time for Nightmare Night too! Nice to meet you, Silver Bell’s cousin Sweetie Belle! Oh, I can’t wait to get everything together now; I had already been planning this super-spectacular punch bowl, but since you’re visiting it’s going to have to be at least SIX times as super-spectacular! Oh, oh, and I can’t forget the pumpkin pies and pumpkin muffins and the pumpkin pops, and pin-the-tail-on-the-pumpkin! Wait, do pumpkins have tails?”

The rambling took her off-guard for a second, before she let out a sigh of relief. I guess he really doesn’t know after all. That’s good. I wouldn’t want to scare off these two new... friends, that I’ve made. She chanced a glance back towards the two, who were simply regarding the pink pony with looks of confusion.

Shaking her head, she turned back to the colt, and spoke again. “W-well, I think I’d be crazy to turn down a... Berry Bubble party, right?”

The named colt let out a giggle, a odd sound coming from a stallion like him. “You bet your lucky horseshoes! It’s going to be the biggest and best Nightmare Night party yet!”

“U-uhm,” Attention was turned towards Spice, who had her nose in the air, desperately catching the wafting scents coming from the bakery door. “If we’re done saying hi, uhm, can we try those Banana-Fojamma-whatchamacallit muffins now?”

“Well, sure thing, girls! Come on in!” Berry Bubble stepped back and opened the door, letting the three fillies into the store.

While Berry Bubble went to get the aforementioned pastries, they sat down on a table. “So, Sweetie Belle, what are your plans for tonight?” Sugar asked. “Spice, me and Estella are going as a group to get candy. You’re welcome to join us!”

“Well, I promised the other Crusaders to meet with them later on, but...” Sweetie looked at them. The two fillies were giving her imploring looks, and even though she could still see Snips and Snails sitting there...

I wonder what it’s like, hanging out with other ponies? I haven’t had much of a chance since we started the Crusaders. Before I finally became friends with Twilight, it seemed like my only friends were Scootaloo and Applebloom... it couldn’t hurt to befriend some new fillies.

Sweetie smiled. “You know... I think we can hang out for a while...”

The two fillies grinned happily. “Okay, so, uhm... how about we ask questions to get to know each other better?” Spice suggested.

“Sure!” Sweetie said, looking at the pair. “Who wants to start?”

“Oh, me! Me!” Berry Bubble exclaimed, jumping up and down right next to Sweetie.

Sweetie Belle shot out of her seat with a yelp and landed on the floor with an ‘oof’. She glared at Berry Bubble. “Why won’t you all stop doing that?!”

The pink pony smiled slowly. “Because it’s fun! My turn! Is it true that you have a crush on Dusk?!”

Sweetie’s eyes went wide as Sugar and Spice started giggling.

“Well?” Sugar asked.

“Why did I agree to this?” Sweetie sighed as she slumped back into her seat.

The minutes whiled away, as the fillies and the stallion played, laughter was heard resounding through Sugarcube corner. A peaceful, normal afternoon like any other in Ponyville. At least, up until the point when Berry asked:

“Did you bring Pinkie Pie with you?”


“I’m back!” Sweetie called, walking into the Carousel Boutique with a slightly disgruntled look. “And I’m never going to go back to the Sugarcube Corner without a back-up plan on how to get out!”

Elusive peeked out of the work room. “Sweetie! Good, come over here, I have something for you!”

Blinking confusedly, Sweetie walked into Elusive’s work room and stopped in surprise. Next to a grinning Elusive, displayed on a small ponyquin, was something she had not been expecting, in this or any of the other worlds she had visited previously. A small dress.

It was mostly white with some soft pink inlays. It wasn’t too frilly, but the gown was decorated with little gems and pearls. The saddle was designed to hug her figure, and had been integrated into the dress itself. It had two small fake pegasi wings attached to it, each feather treated with a hint of glitter so that they would shimmer if looked at from the right angle.

Sweetie walked around the dress, taking note of the golden thread that highlighted the careful folds and frills. The front of the dress had a clasp with a deep-purple gem encased in a gold frame. It stood alone, drawing attention to itself, but also, somehow, complementing a tiara studded with gems of purple, pink and white which rested on the top of the filly-sized ponyquin’s head.

“This... it’s...” Sweetie was at a loss for words. She slowly tore her eyes away from the gem and looked at the whole dress. “It’s beautiful!”

“Thank you!” Elusive grinned, eagerly levitating the finished product. “Let’s try it on and make sure it fits you just right!”

Sweetie closed her eyes and let Elusive slide the dress on her. As she would have expected from her sister, Elusive’s calculations were spot-on. It felt very comfortable, and was completely lightweight. Looking at herself in the mirror, Sweetie almost couldn’t tell if the wings were real or not.

“Elusive, this is amazing... I’ve never had anything like this!” She shook her head slowly. “This is more a dress for a Gala than a costume!”

Elusive blinked. “Really? I would have thought Rarity would have made something similar for you... oh well, you can at least use it for the next Gala if you go.”

Sweetie sighed. “Rarity fell ill last time. She had started something, but she wasn’t able to finish it. She promised to make it up to me for the next Nightmare Night.”

“Well, since she’s not around, take this as a gift from me,” Elusive said with a smile. “I’m sure she’ll love it when she gets to see it!”

“I think she will,” Sweetie replied, smiling back. She gave him a long, thankful look, before something formed in her expression. A sense of trepidation.

Slowly, she took a step towards the stallion, as she asked in a very small voice. “Elusive... I-I... would it be weird, if I wanted to call you... big brother?”

The dressmaker started, his own eyes a little widened in surprise. He bit his lip as he thought, taking in the gaze of the filly in front of him, before he had an answer.

“I... I- I don’t see why not, Sweetie. When you sister visited us, she told Silver that as far as she was concerned... he was also her own little brother as well. And if she can make that choice in her heart of hearts...” His expression softened, as he lowered his head level with his alternate sibling. “Then I don’t see why I cannot do the same.”

She gave him grateful smile, before quickly coming over and enveloping his hoof in a hug, her eyes shut tight. “Thank you... thank you, big brother. For everything.”

He simply returned her smile, only a slight sense of uneasiness upon him as he raised a hoof and lightly stroked the filly’s mane. “You’re very welcome, little sister... though I shouldn’t be the only one to-”


Sweetie and Elusive disentangled from each other, before turning to see Silver step into the room. His mane was combed back and he was dressed in a fine cut uniform. Like Sweetie’s costume, it was white with purple, and had golden buttons and cuffs. It gave him a very distinguished look, especially with the purple sash crossing his chest and the fake golden medal adorning the left side of his chest.

“Swe- Sweetie, you look... amazing,” Silver said, eyes wide.

Sweetie blushed. “Um, thanks, Silver, you look really nice too!”

Elusive smiled. “And to think that this dress wouldn’t have been complete without Silver’s help!”

Silver’s eyes widened as he turned to look at his brother. “Elusive! You said you wouldn’t tell!”

“What? How?” Sweetie asked, looking between the two with confusion.

“Well, Silver is the one that gave me that purple gem. He said he wanted you to have it.” Elusive explained.

Silver scratched the floor with his hoof self-consciously. “I... I found it at the HEDGE... after Rarity and the others went back home. I thought it could help me get my Cutie Mark somehow, so I saved it for later... when I heard what Elusive wanted to make for you...” He trailed off, not looking at her.

“Thank you, Silver...” Sweetie said, trotting up to him. For the briefest of moments, she considered what it was she was about to do, before diving in and giving him a light peck on the cheek.

Silver’s eyes went wide, then he smiled a bit before shaking his head and stepping back. “H-hey, no kisses! I- I just thought you should have it!”

Elusive chuckled. “Okay, you two, you’d better go if you want to get an early start. You don’t want to miss all the candy!”

Sweetie blinked. “Oh, that’s right! I promised to Sugar and Spice to collect candy for a while.”

Silver cringed. “Really? But what about-”

“Don’t worry!” Sweetie smiled. “I’ll make sure to meet you guys at the library in an hour, okay?”

“Aw but...” Silver sighed. “Okay, we’ll meet you there... I don’t know if Scooteroll and Applebuck are even ready yet...”

“A prince should always take care of the princess, Silver,” Elusive admonished after a moment. “Why don’t you escort Sweetie to where she is meeting Sugar and Spice?”

Silver and Sweetie exchanged glances. “Um, sure,” Silver said, fidgeting a little.

Sweetie smiled. “Thank you, Silver! Come on, let’s go!”

The pair slowly walked out, chatting away as Elusive shook his head in amusement. “Ah, to be young again...” He sighed longingly.


Silver glanced at Sweetie as they walked down the street in search of Sugar and Spice. She was looking around at the town decorations with a slightly nostalgic smile.

“Um... Sweetie? Are you enjoying yourself in this universe?” he asked. “I mean, what if Dusk can’t send you home? Would you like to stay with us?”

Sweetie sighed. “I don’t know... every world I visit I ask myself the same thing.”

“Wait,” Silver stopped. “Every world?”

Sweetie slowed down and looked back at him with a small smile. “Well, yes, Silver... I’ve been to a couple of other worlds after...” She looked away. “... after the incident.” Sweetie finished.

She does sound a bit too different from me, Silver thought. I always figured that if I met Sweetie, she’d be a lot like me... and she is, but she also seems almost... grown up.

“It’s not a nice story to begin with, but I have made new friends in each world..." Sweetie trailed off for a moment before glancing back at Silver, eyes shining with excitement. "I even made friends with Nightmare Moon once!”

“Nightmare-?” Silver blinked, before catching himself. “O-oh, you mean Anarchy Apollo, don’t you?”

“That’s right,” she replied. “I went to this universe where she was powerful enough to defeat Princess Celestia (that’s your Prince Solaris) but she was actually not that bad. Scootaloo actually declared a prank war on her.”

Silver stared. “Wow, that Scootaloo must be braver than Scooteroll. I don’t think he’d have it in him to start a prank war with Anarchy Apollo.”

Sweetie chuckled. “And there was this world where Twilight had fallen in love with The Great and Powerful Trixie... did you know the Trixie from my world almost got me killed? So when I saw this other Trixie, I attacked her!”

The Great and Powerful- she can’t mean... The Great and Powerful Presto?! Silver’s expression went blank.

“Silver?” Sweetie waved her hoof in front of his eyes. “Are you okay?”

“No...” he gulped. “No... I’m not... I just imagined Dusk with The Great and Powerful Presto... I- I need to sit down.” He unceremoniously dropped to his haunches.

Sweetie patted his shoulder. “I know, it’s weird to imagine, but you should have seen Twilight and Trixie together... they were so cute!”

Silver sighed and chuckled. “I guess I can imagine that... somehow... it’s just-”

“Crazy?” Sweetie finished for him. “Yeah... but it’s another world and everypony is either slightly or very different than in the other universe.”

Silver looked at her as if seeing her for the first time. “Sweetie... you and I are not very similar.”

“I... I’ve seen some things...” Sweetie whispered. “I wish I hadn’t...” Her eyes watered a bit. “Did Elusive ever give you a large white ball?”

“I think so... I think I still have it somewhere,” Sweepie replied, thinking back to where he kept his toys. “Why?”

“Take good care of it, okay?” Sweetie said. “It’s more important than you might think.”

Silver could only nod as he stood up. “Sweetie... I’m sorry.”

Sweetie smiled and hugged Silver. “It’s okay... thanks for caring.”

“Hey, it’s Sweetie!” a voice eagerly shouted.

Sweetie and Silver both looked in the direction of the call and saw Sugar, Spice and Estella approaching.

The fact that Estella had still chosen to dress up as a pirate almost made Sweetie laugh with amusement.

Silver, however, choked and started coughing when he saw that Sugar had dressed up as Dusk, dyeing her coat purple and drawing a fake cutie mark, while Spice had chosen to disguise herself as The Great and Powerful Presto, cape, hat and blue coat paint. “Why?” he coughed. “Why would you dress up as... as them?!”

“Aw, don’t you like it?” Sugar asked, hugging Spice close. “I think we look cute!”

“But... wha- ah...” He shook his head. “I must learn a magic spell to remove this memory...” He looked at Sweetie, who was giggling behind her hoof. “I blame you for this!”

Sweetie batted her eyes at him. “Surely Prince Charming isn’t going to stay angry with his princess, is he?”

Thoroughly unprepared for this sudden, flirtatious maneuver, Silver did the only thing any young colt in his position could do... he melted.


“Wow, this is amazing!” Sugar exclaimed, looking around at all the decorations. There were banners that proclaimed establishments had changed their name to something more sinister. Pumpkins had been carved into evil-looking faces and depictions of Anarchy Apollo’s profile.

“We know,” Silver said. “We’ve been walking around for almost an hour now, we’ve seen it and been impressed.”

Sugar and Spice giggled. “Colts!” they chorused.

Silver rolled his eyes.

“.... and I’ve always wanted to see how Nightmare Night was celebrated! My home town is so far away from Canterlot that it was only observed as a curiosity. Some ponies would carve a couple of pumpkins, but nothing to this scale!” Estella said, trotting next to Sweetie.

“Well, I’m sure you’ll see what the spirit of Nightmare Night is really about!” Sweetie said. “Many ponies here have some sort of story to share about Nigh- Anarchy Apollo.”

“Geez, you sound like Dusk sometimes, Sweetie,” Scooteroll teased, walking up to them in a wolf costume.

Sweetie raised an eyebrow.

“He’s right, y’know,” Applebuck chuckled. “No offense, Sweetie but y’all really do.”

Sweetie huffed. “Well, I’ll take it as a compliment.”

“Did you guys already get candy?” Spice asked.

“Yeah!” Scooteroll grinned, showing off a bagful of treats. “Gotta love how much candy everypony is willing to fork out for free!”

“Hm, I think we should head to the library now,” Sweetie suggested. “It’s about time...”

Sugar, Spice and Estella blinked and looked at each other. “Time for what?” Estella asked.

“Um, for Dusk to come out!” Sweetie said. “He’s been working on his costume all day!”

“Oh...” Sugar said. “Well, if you really want to go see your coltfriend...”

“Dusk is not my coltfriend!” Sweetie blushed. “He’s just a really handsome and smart pony whom I respect a lot.”

“Read: whom I really like.” Spice giggled.

“Are we all going to the library then?” asked a rather large white chicken that had somehow seamlessly integrated himself into the group.

“Yes, I think- aaaah!” Sweetie jumped on top of Silver, who stumbled, trying to keep upright while holding her. A quick glance at the avian’s pink face told her all she needed to know. “Berry Bubble! Don’t do that!”

“Do what?” the pink pony asked, before chuckling and trotting on ahead. “C’mon, everypony! Let’s get Dusk out of that dusty library!”

“The Library’s not dusty...” Sweetie muttered as she slid back down to the floor.

The group followed Berry Bubble through Ponyville until they were at the library door. “Dusk! Come on out! You’re gonna miss the whole party, you silly pony!”

The door to the library opened and out stepped Dusk in an intricately-designed cape and wizard’s hat. Somehow his mane had extended all the way to his tail and was tied into a long ponytail with intermingled golden rings.

“Hey, everypony!” he grinned. “Can you guess who I’m dressed as?”

The group exchanged glances.

“Um... Star Swirl?” Sweetie asked. Is that what the pony is called here? Oh please Celestia let me be righ-

“That’s right, Sweetie!” Dusk nodded at her, twisting so that his new pony tail draped over his shoulders. “Star Swirl the Long Maned. I even got the rings exactly where she had them!”

“He really went all-out,” Applebuck whispered to Scooteroll, who nodded.

“Too bad nopony else really knows what he’s talking about...” Scooteroll laughed.

“Wow,” Sweetie said, taking a close look at the rings and noticing the runes etched into them. “So, Star Swirl enchanted the golden rings in her mane to cast different protective spells and the silver ones would rotate a magic-feeding sequence that would keep them all ongoing at the same time? That’s brilliant!” Sweetie gushed to an equally excited Dusk.

“Then again, when eggheads get together...” Scooteroll deadpanned and elbowed Silver. “Right, Silver?”

But Silver did not reply as he glared at Dusk.

“Uh, Silver?” Applebuck shook his hoof in front of his friend’s eyes, snapping him out of his trance. “Y’alright?”

“Um... yeah, sure...” Silver muttered, his eyes going back to Sweetie and Dusk.

“Aww come on, don’t be so glum, brony,” said a purple dragoness, coming up next to the group. It took the young colt a couple of glances to realize that said dragoness was Spines, dressed up as... a dragon. “I think I know what’s goin’ on in that head of yours...”

He sighed. “Is it that obvious?” he asked, before looking back towards his other self, still chatting away with the elder stallion.

Dusk chuckled at something Sweetie had said and then turned to face the others. “Oh, I’m sorry, here...” his horn lit up and candy floated into the open bags of several colts and fillies.

“Enough chitchat!” Berry Bubble squawked like a chicken, getting into his role. “Let’s find candy!”

Dusk arched an eyebrow. “Berry Bubble, aren’t you a little old for that?”

“Too old for free candy?!” Berry Bubble clucked. “Never!” he declared.

It was then that a lightning bolt hit Berry Bubble in the flank. He gave a very convincing squawk and ran away screaming, followed by Sugar, Spice, Estella and several other fillies and colts.

Dusk and Spines glared at up at a nearby black cloud, whose sole occupant was laughing at the prank he’d just pulled, his costume obviously a rip-off of some dark aerobatic team’s uniform, though his multihued mane and tail did nothing to conceal his identity.

“Blitz,” the unicorn admonished.  “That wasn't very nice.”

“It's just a prank, Dusk, chill out,” Rainbow Blitz replied with a mischievous smile.

Dusk shook his head and rolled his eyes.

“Ooh! There's another group!” Blitz said, grinning wickedly as he sped away.

Dusk sighed, but brightened up when he saw a tall and straw-bound scarecrow walking towards them, signature hat upon his head. He ignored the distant sound of a lightning bolt scaring other ponies. “Happy Nightmare Night, Applejack!”

Applejack nodded, noticing the group. “Howdy, ya'll! Nice costumes!” He stopped to appreciate Dusk's hoofwork. “With that mane, I reckon you're some sorta country music singer.”

Dusk growled as the others started laughing.

“It's okay, Dusk, country music isn't that bad,” Sweetie consoled.

“Your costume an’ Silver's are amazing, Sweetie,” Applejack complimented. “The work of Lucy, Ah assume?”

“Eeeyup,” Silver smiled.

It was then that they heard cheering and applause break out around the square. The group looked over as the Mayor, dressed in a clown outfit, ascended a platform constructed in the middle of town. Sensing the speech to come, the lot of them quickly turned their full attention to the stage.

“Thank you, everypony, and welcome to the Nightmare Night festival!” he proclaimed in a deep profoundo basso. The cheering was instantaneous, giving him cause to hold a hoof out and wait with a smile for them to die down again.

“Now all the little ponies who have been out collecting sweets should follow our friend Zircon to hear...” his voice took on an even deeper and creepier pitch. “... the legend of Anarchy Apollooooo~!

Spines snorted. “Spooky voice might work better if he wasn't dressed like that.”

Dusk chuckled as the group followed all the colts and fillies out of town to gather around a tall zebra stallion, done up in a swamp doctor’s outfit complete with stovepipe hat, standing next to a statue of Anarchy Apollo.

“Follow me and very soon you'll hear the tale of Anarchy Apollo...” Zircon said, raising his voice as his haunting intonation captivated his young audience. “Listen close, my little dears, and I'll tell you where you got your fears: of Nightmare Night, so dark and scary. Of Anarchy Apollo, who makes you wary.” He blew into his hoof and a cloud of green powder transformed into an image of an evil-looking pony with serrated teeth.

“Every year, we put on a disguise, to save ourselves, from his searching eyes.” Zircon rhymed, another green cloud creating a full-bodied green alicorn who flew around the gathered ponies.

Sugar and Spice screamed in horror.

“But Anarchy Apollo wants just one thing: to gobble up ponies in one quick swing!” The green alicorn opened his mouth and crashed down on top of Berry Bubble and Estella, both of which screamed and held each other, trembling.

“Hungrily, he soars the sky.” The green alicorn flew over them again, seemingly in search of somepony. “If he sees nopony, he passes by. So if he comes and all is clear, Equestria is safe another year!” Zircon finished.

“Um, mister Zircon?” Estella asked. “If we wear costumes to hide from Anarchy Apollo so he won't gobble us up, how come we still need to give him some of our candy?”

Zircon smiled. “A perfect question, my little friend. For Anarchy Apollo you must not offend. Fill up his belly with a treat or two, so he won't return to come eat you!”

Berry Bubble screamed and ran over to the statue of Anarchy Apollo.  “Everypony! Just dump some candy and get out of here!” he cried out, emptying his bag.

It was then that lightning crisscrossed the sky thrice. Everypony paused and turned their heads skyward, watching the clouds broil and churn, before disgorging a chariot pulled by bat-winged ponies, carrying a cloaked figure within.

“It’s Anarchy Apollo!” Berry Bubble shouted in horror. “Everypony, run!”

Dusk, Spines and the Crusaders jumped out of the way of the literal stampede that ran away from the statue.

“Wait! It’s just Prince Artemis!” Dusk shouted, but was ignored in the chaos. He turned to look at the others. “Come on! Let’s find out what’s happening!”

They arrived to find that the chariot had landed in the middle of Ponyville, the locals fearfully watching the cloaked figure that stepped off. With a nod, the figure sent the chariot away and turned to look at the gathered ponies.

The cloak disintegrated into bats as a tall, dark-blue form stepped forth. With his silver raiment and helmeted crown atop his head, Dusk easily recognized him as none other than the prince of the night, Prince Artemis.

“GREETINGS, PONIES OF PONYVILLE!” he boomed, the air shaking with his voice. “We have come to celebrate with you this joyous night of festivities and frolicking!”

“He- he really needs help with his dialogue,” Scooteroll deadpanned.

“Hush now,” Dusk scolded as he left them behind to approach the Prince. “Prince Artemis, I am-”

“Star Swirl the Long Maned,” Artemis recognized. “‘Tis a very detailed costume.”

Dusk smiled. “Why, thank you! I’m glad that you recognized it! I thought only Sweetie would have-” He stopped when the Prince raised a hoof.

“Not to worry, my good Dusk. We have come to have a good time despite the dark warnings.”

“Dark... warnings?” Dusk blinked. “I’m... afraid I don’t know which warnings you’re talking about.”

Artemis looked at Dusk in surprise. “We thought a unicorn as well versed in legends as yourself would be informed of this important legend. It was said that on Nightmare Night, the evil spirit which brought forth Anarchy Apollo would return and possess me during the full moon.”

Dusk chuckled nervously.

“‘Tis a good thing that we remembered to raise a gibbous moon tonight to avoid such... confrontations.”

Dusk frowned. “But... I saw the moon earlier and...”

It was then that the clouds parted and the light of the full moon shone directly on Prince Artemis. Dusk jumped back as the Prince groaned and cried in pain, covering his head with his hooves as dark mist surrounded him.

“What’s happening?!” the Mayor asked, panicking.

“I don’t know!” Dusk replied as the wind picked up. “But Prince Artemis was saying-” He stopped, eyes widening. “Oh, no! Everypony, it’s-”

A blast of magic whipped Dusk’s mane around as a cruel laughter rose from where the Prince had knelt and a misty mane grew to encompass Artemis.

Only, it wasn’t the prince. With a coat as black as the night, mane waving like nebulae and wearing a dark blue set of spiked armor was a figure that Dusk had hoped never to see again.

“Hello, foals,” Anarchy Apollo laughed. “Did you miss me?”

“It’s Anarchy Apollo!” Berry Bubble shouted. “Everypony, run!”

“Not so fast!” the nightmarish alicorn shouted, his horn flaring. “You shall not run when I, your ruler, have just returned! You will worship me!”

“You won’t rule over us, Anarchy Apollo!” Applejack shouted. “We’ll get the Elements of Harmony and send you away again!”

Anarchy Apollo’s eyes flashed malevolently. “It won’t be that easy this time, little pony! For now, I will have new Lieutenants to fight for me!”

Dusk’s eyes widened as a bolt of dark purple energy shot out from Anarchy Apollo’s horn, flashing towards him.

“Dusk!” Rainbow Blitz was suddenly there, pushing Dusk out of the way. The pegasus cried out as the energy meant for the unicorn surrounded him. His mane turned a dull gray as his patched up Shadowbolt costume became a real uniform.

“I welcome you, Dark Blitz, to my army!” Anarchy Apollo chuckled darkly, waving a hoof at the newly-turned pony. Slowly, Blitz got to his hooves, before turning towards the rest of the group, his expression cold and unreadable.

“Spines!” Dusk shouted. “Quick, I’ll distract him, but you have to tell Prince Solaris what’s happening here!”

“Okay!” the little dragoness shouted as she sprinted away towards the library.

“But one is not enough... I need more!” Anarchy Apollo grinned as his magic shot out again.

Dusk was ready to dodge, but this time the magic went right by him. He followed it with his eyes and gasped in horror as the magic struck Sweetie Belle and the Crusaders.

A bright flash blinded all ponies present and when it faded they could only stare in fright and dismay at what had happened.

Scooteroll had been turned into an orange-tinged winged timber wolf, with a pegasus shaped medallion strapped on his chest. Its bramble-made wings made crackling noises as they twitched and stretched, making some pegasi cringe.


Applebuck truly looked like he had died and been stitched back together, his pupils and irises had disappeared altogether and his body was encased in a tough dark-grey hide.

Silver’s costume had been replaced by black, intricately adorned armor, similar to that of the Royal Guards; it shone in the moonlight, silver inlays reflecting the soft light as his now-red eyes scanned the multitude of ponies around them. The medallion he was wearing had turned silver and was embedded into the breastplate opposite an effigy of Anarchy Apollo on the other side.

Sweetie’s tiara had grown to encompass the sides of her face. It was a deep, dark purple with silver inlays that looked almost like bat wings. Her white dress had been changed into a metallic armor the same shade as her helm, with silver wings etched into the breastplate and leg guards. The fantasy wings on her back had turned black and flapped a couple of times... they seemed to be real now, and they were armored as well, from scapulars to alula with a thinner version of her armor.  Her irises had turned into an amber-yellow and her pupils seemed draconic, much like Anarchy Apollo’s.

With another flash, Blitz and the Crusaders were standing side by side with Anarchy Apollo.

“Applebuck!” Applejack shouted, looking at his brother in fright.

“This is horrible!” the Mayor shouted.

“Go, my Lieutenants!” Anarchy Apollo hollered. “Cause mayhem! Cause chaos and mischief!”

“Not so fast, Anarchy Apollo!” Dusk yelled, standing tall as Berry Bubble, Applejack, Elusive, and a trembling Butterscotch valiantly stood in front of the Nightmarish alicorn. “We won’t let you do that!”

“And how do you plan on stopping me when I have him on my side?” Anarchy Apollo asked mockingly, pointing with a hoof at Dark Blitz.

“Um...” Dusk gulped.

“Give me back mah brother!” Applejack shouted, galloping towards them, with the intent to buck Anarchy Apollo right in the face. He stopped when he realized he was floating in the air, courtesy of Sweetie’s magic.

“Tut-tut...” Sweetie said, her voice deeper and a nasty sneer decorating her face.

“Sweetie!” Dusk called. “You can’t be working for him!”

“Give it up, foal. Without the Elements you don’t stand a chance!” Anarchy Apollo laughed.

“We have the power of Friendship!” Dusk stated valiantly.

Evil Silver glared at Dusk when Evil Sweetie involuntarily swooned, but Anarchy Apollo just cackled. “And is your friendship enough to fight these five?” he asked, moving his hoof and encompassing the Crusaders and Blitz.

When Dusk bit his lip and didn’t answer, Anarchy Apollo laughed. “I thought as much.”

“Very well, then I shall-”

“Do nothing!” came a deep, authoritative voice as a flash of light materialized in the midst of the showdown. It faded away to reveal a tall white alicorn stallion, mane and tail possessing warm hues, the crown upon his head marking him easily as-

“Prince Solaris!” Dusk sighed in relief. “I’m so glad you’re here!”

Sweetie frowned and glared at Celestia’s counterpart.

“Ah, so you’ve finally arrived, brother!” Anarchy Apollo sneered.

“I am not your brother, Anarchy Apollo. Release Artemis or I will stop you and your thralls right now.” Solaris stated coldly.

“No!” Dusk said suddenly. “You can’t!”

Prince Solaris blinked. “Why not?”

“Because his ‘thralls’ are Rainbow Blitz, the Crusaders and Sweetie Belle!” informed Applejack worriedly.

“What?!” Prince Solaris turned to look in horror at Anarchy Apollo. “How could you do such a thing?! It isn’t possible!”

“I will do anything so that my demands are met!” Anarchy Apollo declared.

Prince Solaris gritted his teeth. “Well then, what are these demands?!”

Several ponies looked at each other worriedly. The stallion of the night glowered at his brother, before tossing his head back in a mighty shout.

“I demand... that the amount of chocolates given to me as sacrifice during Nightmare Night be increased by twenty percent!”

Never!!” Prince Solaris reared back. “You will never have eternal ni-” he choked as his brain registered what he had been told. “Wait... what?”

“I said that I want the amount of chocolates given as a sacrifice during Nightmare Night be increased by twenty percent! No returns.”

“But...” Solaris shook his head. “That’s-”

“Are you not going to abide by our terms?!” Anarchy Apollo asked furiously, eyes flashing. “Truly, you do not know who you are dealing with, Solaris!”

Solaris stepped back. “This is nonsense, Anarchy Apollo! There’s no reason for that! Is this a trick?”

Anarchy Apollo rolled his eyes and his horn lit with magic. With a ‘poof’ a scroll appeared floating between them. “If you’ll look at these statistics, you’ll see that the sacrifice has been declining steadily over the last 400 years,” he huffed. “As it is, I’m letting you off easy.”

Solaris frowned as he looked at the paper. Snatching it with his own magic, he examined it closely.

Dusk blinked, staring at the surreal showdown going on not twelve hoofsteps away. At length, he finally found the words he was looking for.  “Wait... are we really doing this?”

After reading twice, Solaris slowly lowered the parchment. “You‘ve kept tabs?”

“What did you expect me to do for a thousand years in the moon? Carve moon rocks to look like you and blow them up afterwards?” Anarchy Apollo asked with a derisive snort.

Solaris sighed. “Honestly, what do you have to say for yourself?”

Anarchy Apollo grinned. “Happy Nightmare Night, brother,” he laughed, hoofing Solaris in the shoulder.

Applejack frowned. “Now, wait just one apple-pickin’ minute... are y’all sayin’ what ah think you’re saying?” He looked down as his undead brother grinned at him.

“Happy Nightmare Night, bro!” Applebuck said, his smile widening.

“Had you guys going for a while, didn’t we?” Rainbow Blitz gloated, flying in small circles over Berry Bubble and Butterscotch before landing and bro-hoofing Scooteroll.

“Sorry I scared you girls,” Sweetie said, smiling sheepishly at Sugar and Spice. “But I had to keep up the act!”

“It’s... It’s okay, Sweetie...” Spice replied after a moment. “You looked pretty scary in that armor though...”

“It’s awesome, isn’t it?!” Sweetie squeaked.

“And that voice...” Sugar shivered. “Where did you get that from?”

Sweetie cringed. “Well... from Anarchy Apollo... sort of...”

“My, don’t you look like a handsome devil!” Elusive chuckled as he trotted up to his brother. “I can see that the Prince took my design into account! How delightful!”

Solaris shook his head. “I understand the appeal of the prank, brother, and I approve... but really? Transforming cloth into armor? And giving a filly the armor of Hades?”

“It’s just an imitation, brother,” Artemis laughed. “One I couldn’t resist.”

“So...” the Mayor walked carefully up to them. “Does this mean that we can carry on? Everypony’s safe?”

Solaris chuckled. “That’s right.”

“Citizens of Ponyville!” Artemis, still disguised as Anarchy Apollo, spoke up. “Happy Nightmare Night! Don’t forget to enjoy the festivities!”

The cheers were deafening.


The celebrations continued well into the night, until most ponies were completely exhausted. The tired group decided to rest a bit before everypony went home.

“But, what ah want to know is... how’d y’all plan this?” Applejack asked as the two Princes, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Sweetie Belle and the others walked into the library.

“Well... that’s a bit of a story...” Applebuck said after a moment.

Solaris smiled. “I think we all want to hear this one, Applebuck. Last I heard from Artemis this morning, he wanted to cancel Nightmare Night altogether!”

The crusaders looked at each other. “Well...” Silver sighed. “It went like this...”


The Everfree Forest seemed the same no matter what dimension Sweetie was in. Dark, foreboding... Leaves seemed to move where there was no breeze; just like any previous visit, she found out that if she stood in certain areas she could see her own breath while the cold would disappear altogether just a step away.

It was an unnatural place, as if it had been ripped out of some dark imagination and stuck in the middle of Equestria as a blight to all those who would unwittingly wander into it.

“Well, here we are...” Applebuck announced , looking towards the dark forest with trepidation. “Are we sure we want to do this?”

Scooteroll nodded. “Yeah! We’ll get our Cutie Marks for sure!”

“Besides, we have it all planned, remember?” Silver said. “We spent the whole last week drawing maps and planning how to capture it!”

“Well... I remember seeing one close to the Castle...” Sweetie recounted after a moment. “It looked pretty big... and mean.”

The three colts looked at her in awe.

“Y-you’ve been to the castle?” Scooteroll asked. “That’s amazing!”

“Why did you go there?” Silver asked.

“Well... I- I got Scootaloo really mad at me and... and I ran away into the forest.”

Scooteroll looked slightly perturbed. “Uh... Scootaloo? Is that... I mean... is she...?”

“You?” Sweetie smiled. “Yep! She was my first friend in Ponyville!”

“Hey, just like us, buddy!” Scooteroll grinned and hoofed Silver on the shoulder.


Applebuck rolled his eyes. “So, do you think you can find your way back?”

“Uh...” Sweetie looked at the three colts. “I- I guess... although, Twilight wasn’t very happy that I had gone into the Everfree by myself...”

Scooteroll rolled his eyes. “They never are, but they already have their cutie marks! Come on, you know the way, you know magic, and, if we’re anything like your friends in your world, you know we can take it!”

Sweetie nodded. “Well, I am a Crusader! And that means we all get our Cutie Marks! Or die trying!”

Applebuck blinked. “Well, Ah’m not sure Ah want to die for it but... Ah’ll risk a limb or two.”

“Good enough!” Scooteroll grinned. “Are we all ready then?”

The others looked at each other and nodded resolutely. “Let’s go!”

Sweetie nodded and started walking. Applebuck fell behind her while Scooteroll and Silver flanked them.

Remembering the path that Zecora had shown her, Sweetie carefully led them deeper and deeper into the Everfree Forest. Slowly the sunlight diminished until it was barely enough to allow them to see where they were going.

Applebuck jumped when the wind shook some dead leaves, making a rustling sound. “Ah... Ah’m okay...”

“I hope we don’t see any timber wolves.” Silver said after a moment. “They’re supposed to be dangerous...”

Scooteroll rolled his eyes. “Everything in here is supposed to be dangerous.”

“Which is why we’re sticking to the road... right?” Silver said after a moment.

“Hey... do you guys hear something?” Sweetie asked suddenly.

“Hey, don’t try to scare us!” Scooteroll said after a moment of silence. “That’s not cool.”

Sweetie raised an eyebrow, but then turned her head. “There it is again!”

The four Crusaders quieted down, and after a moment they could all hear something indeed. It sounded like somepony. Somepony muttering.

“Citizens of Ponyville! We have graced your tiny village with our presence, so that you- no, no, no... maybe something less formal?” The voice paused. “‘Hi, Ponyvillians!’ No! That doesn’t work. They are my subjects! I can’t talk to them like that... no, it has to be something more... imposing... perhaps I should use the Royal Canterlot Voice?”

The group exchanged puzzled glances before slowly walking up to where the voice was coming from.

They hid behind some bushes and carefully looked out. In front of them, an alicorn with midnight blue coat and wavy, star-speckled mane stood facing away from them as he paced around, speaking aloud to himself.

Silver stared at the others in awe. “It’s Prince Artemis!” he whispered excitedly. “I haven’t seen him since the Summer Sun Celebration!”

“I have to project strength,” the alicorn was saying, “but also understanding. I have to let them know that they can stop celebrating that awful holiday!”

Sweetie’s eyes widened in surprise. “Wait. Tonight’s Nightmare Night?!”

Her shout alerted Prince Artemis to their presence. He turned around and faced the group. “THOU SHALT REVEAL THINESELVES!”

“Geez, does he really have to shout like that?” Scooteroll winced as he led the others out of the bushes.

“The Royal Canterlot Voice was the appropriate method of addressing subjects about one thousand years ago,” Sweetie Belle explained. “When Lun- I mean, Prince Artemis, was sent to the Moon, he never lived through the changes that made the Royal Canterlot Voice obsolete. He wouldn’t speak with that voice to his... brother.”


“Sweetie Belle, your highness, and I regret to inform you, but the use of the Canterlot Royal Voice was discontinued 800 years ago when your sis- I mean, brother, changed his approach to the court.”


“Um, yeah.” Sweetie grimaced, shaking her head to clear away the ringing in her ears. “It is considered impolite to shout, even at your lessers, and it usually gives the impression that you are angry.”


“Yes, and what I’m trying to say is that-”


“IN THE NAME OF SOLARIS, STOP SHOUTING!” Applebuck hollered, interrupting the Prince.

“... we will try to keep our voice to a lower volume,” Artemis finished meekly.

“Why are you talking like that?” Scooteroll asked. “There’s only one of you.”

Artemis raised an eyebrow. “Are we to assume that the royal ‘we’ is no longer in practice as well?”

The crusaders exchanged glances. “Uh... no, not really. We’ve never heard Prince Solaris speak like that.”

Artemis frowned. “Dammit, Solaris, you told me that’s how we should talk!”

Sweetie giggled. “So, what are you doing here, your highness?”

Artemis sighed. “WE- ahem... I... came here to deal with this much maligned night once and for all, and put our subjects to rest from their fears of Anarchy Apollo and finally be done with the barbaric... tradition... that is ‘Nightmare Night’.”  

Sweetie’s eyes went wide. She facehoofed at her own forgetfulness. “I can’t believe I didn’t remember that Applejack stopped us from hunting Manticores on Nightmare Night!”

Applebuck gave her an odd look. “Are you tellin’ me you didn’t notice? They were settin’ up a banner and everythin’!”

“Hey, give her a break, she’s just arrived in this world!” Silver retorted, stepping up next to Sweetie.

“Calm down, Silver,” Scooteroll said. “We’re not trying to give her a hard time!” He looked at Sweetie nervously. “We wouldn’t want that...”

Prince Artemis frowned. “What do you mean she just arrived in this world?”

“I uh... I’m actually from another world, your highness,” Sweetie explained. “I arrived here last night and just today Dusk promised to help get me home.”

Scooteroll watched from the corner of his eye as Silver silently repeated the word ‘Dusk’, a look of slight disgust playing across his feature. He raised an eyebrow, but before he could ask, Prince Artemis spoke.

“Ah, then you have come from the other world where we are all gender inverted... I believe my counterpart is Princess Luna.”

“That’s right!” Sweetie exclaimed, awed. “It’s amazing how everypony here seems to know so much about inter-dimensional travel! Even Nightmare Moon was surprised when she found out! But all of you seem to be able to just guess things right!”

“Wait... Nightmare Moon?” Prince Artemis asked.

Sweetie gasped. “So you’re really trying to stop Nightmare Night from happening ever again?!”

All conversation ceased as the Crusaders turned to look at the Prince, who cleared his throat, uncomfortable under the scrutiny of the young ponies. “Um... yes, that would be correct.”

“But you can’t!” Silver exclaimed.

“That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard!” Scooteroll added.

“Yeah! It’s almost as bad as Scooteroll’s usual ideas!” Applebuck nodded, earning himself a prompt hoof to the shoulder.

“My plans are not bad!” Scooteroll snapped. “They are awesome!”

“They usually fail,” Silver shot back.

“I don’t see you coming up with any ideas!” Scooteroll growled, glaring at Silver.

"Hey! No idea is still better than a bad idea!" Silver retorted.

“Says you!” Scooteroll got just in front of Silver and pushed.

“Hey! Don’t push him!” Applebuck defended, pushing Scooteroll.

“Why, you!” Scooteroll snarled as he jumped on top of the other two. They soon became a whirlwind of limbs and dust as they fought with each other.

“I can’t believe I was ever like that...” Sweetie groaned, putting a hoof against the side of her head and massaging away a headache.

“You seem a lot calmer than they are,” Artemis commented, after a moment of watching the trio roll around.

Sweetie shook her head. “About this thing with Nightmare Night...”

"Yeah! You can’t cancel it! We won’t be able to prank the others!” Scooteroll exclaimed, jumping out of the struggle.

Sweetie blinked. “Prank who?”

“Anypony, duh!” Scooteroll rolled his eyes.

“But Nightmare Night is a barbaric and archaic practice!” Prince Artemis exclaimed, drawing the Crusader’s attention. “Ponies living in fear of Anarchy Apollo consuming their souls, sacrificing candy to mitigate the vengeful spirit... it’s baffling and pointless now that I am free!” Prince Artemis stomped his hoof on the soft ground of the forest. “Thus, I have devised a plan which will make the ponies of Ponyville realize that they should not fear me! I will-”

“Arrive in the middle of the celebration in a chariot pulled by the Night Guard, and announce your presence to all ponies using the Canterlot Royal Voice to assure them that you will not harm them after your cape turns into a cloud of bats?” Sweetie finished for him.

“I-” He blinked. “Well, yes, that is exactly what I was planning!”

Sweetie shook her head. “Prince, you have to trust us, that is not a good idea! Everypony loves Nightmare Night! And yes, it’s scary, but that’s because it’s supposed to be scary!”

“Yeah! We all love pulling spooky pranks!” Scooteroll agreed, “And everypony has a good laugh!”

“Ah once pretended to be a crate of bad apples that’d been possessed by Anarchy Apollo and chased Red Gala around the farm for a full ten minutes!” Applebuck offered.

“And I made a haunted house for Elusive with some of his fabrics! I’ve never heard him scream like that!”

Sweetie winced. “Yeah... I remember that...”

Prince Artemis was frowning. “Are you saying that ponies enjoy being scared?”

“Tonight,” Sweetie clarified, “yes.”

The Prince slumped. “Well, there goes the plan...”

“There, there,” Sweetie consoled, patting the Prince’s leg. “It’s okay, Luna had a lot of fun once she discovered that Nightmare Night was not about ponies being miserable.”

Artemis blinked. “She did? How?”

“Well, she started pranking everypony!” Sweetie replied.

“Pranking?” Scooteroll asked, smiling devilishly.

“Waaaiiit...” Applebuck said. “If Sweetie already knows what pranks Luna played... why don’t we plan a really big one?”

Silver raised an eyebrow. “That’s a good idea... but what?”

Artemis touched his hoof to his chin as he looked up thoughtfully. “You say that the scarier the better? Tell me... how would Ponyville react to the return of Anarchy Apollo?”

Scooteroll’s eyes went wide. “That... that would be so cool!”

“And we could be your evil minions!” Silver said excitedly. “Can we do that?!”

Artemis raised an eyebrow. “I believe so... but why would you want to pretend to be my evil minions?”

“Maybe we can get an evil minion Cutie Mark!” Silver exclaimed.

“Cutie Mark Crusaders, Minions of Evil! Yay!” four voices raised.

“Aha!” a voice shouted in response. “There you are! I thought I had seen you four march into Everfree!”

“Uh-oh...” Scooteroll flinched. “It’s Rainbow Blitz!”

“That’s right!” the cyan pegasus declared, landing in the middle of the group. “The one and only!”

“Greetings, Rainbow Blitz,” Prince Artemis smiled.

“Who? Oh!” Rainbow bowed. “Prince! Fancy meeting you here!”

Artemis chuckled. “Don’t worry, I was orchestrating a plan for tonight with the help of the ‘Crusaders,’ as they call themselves.”

Rainbow Blitz blinked. “What sort of plan?”

“A really awesome prank!” Scooteroll grinned.

Rainbow Blitz smiled. “Count me in!”


“And the rest is history,” Rainbow Blitz finished, waving his hoof lazily about as he reclined on a chair.

Dusk sighed and chuckled. “Well, you really had me going there, I admit that, but now that Nightmare Night’s over... we should think about sending you home, Sweetie.”

Silver cringed. “Does she have to go?”

Elusive nodded sadly. “Rarity must be missing her, you know that, Silver.”

“And I know exactly the frequency to send you back, Sweetie, don’t worry,” Dusk assured her.

Sweetie blinked. “You do? But how?”

“When Twilight and the others came here, we worked together to send them back,” Dusk explained.

“Oh...” Sweetie looked down. “Um... I don’t think that’ll work...”

“What do you mean, Sweetie?” Prince Solaris asked.

“I didn’t arrive here by a spell cast by Twilight... I don’t think you’ve ever met my Twilight,” she said after a moment. “I come from a completely different world... one where Twilight was lost.”

The others exchanged worried glances. “What happened?” Butterscotch asked.

“An accident...” Sweetie sighed. “We were both there... a device exploded and... it... it broke Twilight into pieces and sent me into another world.”

“Is that how you arrived here?” Elusive asked. “But, if it was your first interdimensional trip-”

“It wasn’t,” Sweetie interrupted. “This is the fourth world I’ve visited...”

“That’s... hard to believe,” Artemis said. “Even when you knew so much about Nightmare Night, we all know that the other world is displaced in time from ours and things happen there first.”

Sweetie shook her head and concentrated. Soon, a familiar tear in space opened up and her notebook floated out. She placed it down next to some notes that Dusk was working on on the table. “This is my notebook... it was made for me by Twilight and Trixie from the first world I visited. I started collecting little things I could carry with me.” She levitated out a picture and passed it to Elusive, then she took out the acceptance letter and gave it to Dusk, who showed it to Solaris and Artemis.

“Oh, my... is Rainbow Dash pregnant!?” Elusive asked in shock.

“What?!” Rainbow Blitz took the picture from his friend’s grasp. “But how!? Why?! And who’s the stallion? Did he do that to her?”

Sweetie giggled. “That’s Vespa. He’s Scootaloo’s great, great, great grandson, I think.”

The others stared at her in complete shock, unable to formulate a word. A few of those present turned their attention to a certain orange pegasus.

“He is?” Scooteroll asked trying to ignore all the gazes.

“You have a great-great-great grandson!” Applebuck said. “Or, your filly you does!” he held a hoof to his head. “Wait... that’s making my head hurt.”

“But... how can this be?” Elusive asked.

“Are you tellin’ me that Applejack is hundreds of years old in that picture?”

“Two hundred actually,” Sweetie corrected, looking fondly at the mares in the picture. “In that world, the Elements of Harmony made them immortal.”

“Amazing...” Elusive whispered. “To remain young and handsome forever... what a gift!”

Sweetie looked away sadly. Her hoof slowly traced Rarity’s face and Elusive felt a shiver run down his spine, his trained eyes quickly noticing an odd adornment on his female counterpart’s hooves, around the wrist.

“This is impressive, Sweetie,” Dusk complimented, levitating the letter back to her. “You got accepted! That’s quite the achievement!”

Sweetie smiled. “It was hard. I thought I had failed when Nightmare Moon sneezed while I was taking my test.”

“Nightmare Moon?” Solaris frowned. “That name sounds familiar. I do believe it was-”

“My world’s Anarchy Apollo.” Sweetie nodded. “Believe me... it was a crazy experience.”

“We’re losing track of what we need right now,” Artemis reminded them. “If you are not casting a spell to travel to different worlds, how are you doing it?” He shook his head. “While it is theoretically possible to locate your original world, every jump would have jumbled your chances. Even if all worlds are connected, you won’t have a strand connecting you back.”

“Twilight,” Sweetie replied. “I’ve been finding her pieces in each world I visit and each piece has sent me somewhere else. Twilight Sparkle, the two hundred year old one that is, thought that it would be the only way for me to go home.”

Solaris nodded gravely. “However, you have to consider that when you find the last piece... it might just keep you in that last world, unless it is tied to one left at your point of origin.”

Sweetie’s eyes widened with worry. “You mean... I could get stuck in a world even after finding all of Twilight?”

The Prince nodded. “We cannot be sure of course. But it is a possibility you should be ready for.”

Sweetie slumped. “But...”

“Don’t worry,” Elusive comforted, placing his hoof on Sweetie’s shoulder. “I’m sure that you will find your way back.”

Sweetie nodded, barely fighting back tears.

“This poses an interesting problem,” Solaris said. “Sweetie, you should rest. We will think about how to help you tonight, and hope to have a solution by tomorrow.”

“But can’t I stay with you guys and Dusk?” Sweetie asked. “Please? Twilight taught me how to do research!” She yawned, her creeping exhaustion belying her case. “I can be helpful!”

“Come now, Sweetie,” Elusive said, nudging her towards the door along with the other Crusaders. “You can all spend the night at the boutique. Dusk will still be here tomorrow.”

“But...” she was cut off by another yawn.

“Sweetie, please go sleep,” Butterscotch said softly. “You don’t want to be too tired tomorrow, do you?”

“N- no... I guess not...” Sweetie murmured.


“And we expect her to make a full recovery,” the doctor said to Fluttershy and Applejack, as they stood next to Rarity’s bed. “Although pneumonia can be dangerous, we caught it in time before it really affected her...” He looked back at Rarity, who was silently ignoring them as she stared out the window. “But that’s not what worries me... how long has she been like that?”

Fluttershy and Applejack looked at each other. “Ah don’t know...” Applejack said after a moment. “She seemed alright when she visited the farm two days ago... a bit distant but... ever since it happened...”

“I see,” the doctor sighed. “Well, she needs to stay here for observation, but it would really do her a world of good to see familiar faces.”

“Oh, she will,” Fluttershy assured. “We’ll visit her every day.”

Applejack nodded. “An’ Ah’ll let everypony else know to come visit too.”

The doctor nodded back. “That will be good; I’ll ask the nurses to keep an eye on her.”

When he had walked out, Applejack approached Rarity and took Rarity’s hoof in her own. “Rarity,” she started, staring at the silent unicorn. “Ah’m here for you, you hear me? You’re family to me, just like Fluttershy and Big Mac an’ Pinkie an’ Dashie... we’re all a big family. Don’t leave us, don’t shut us out.”

She let the hoof drop softly back down on the bed, and unable to contain tears, she turned around sharply. “Ah- Ah better get goin’. There’s lots to do at th’farm,” she mumbled. “Ah’ll see y’all tomorrow.”

Rarity didn’t respond. She took a deep breath and stared at the clouds.

Fluttershy quietly sat down on the empty chair next to the bed and started reading a book, stealing glances at Rarity from time to time. Just to make sure she was okay.


Sweetie opened her eyes and looked at the familiar ceiling. Around her, she could hear the snores from the other Crusaders.

Why do I feel like I’m forgetting something important? Did I dream something? she wondered with a sigh.

Slowly she stood up, keeping the warm blanket she had wrapped around herself in place with magic. Sweetie carefully made her way around the sleeping colts.

I wonder what it was... She sighed again. But I have this feeling... I have to go.

Sweetie walked into the kitchen and sat down, looking at the distant clouds as the morning started. “I should go to the Library...” she whispered to herself. With that resolve in place, she looked back at the sleeping group before slowly tip-hoofing to the front door.

She carefully opened it and walked out, taking a deep breath as the cool, morning breeze made her shiver slightly. “Better get going! I’m sure Dusk will have some tea to share!”

Sweetie trotted across Ponyville until she reached the library. As she approached the door, she heard voices from inside. Carefully, she opened the door and walked in, peeking around the corner of the kitchen to see both Elusive and Dusk sitting at the table and drinking tea.

“So there was nothing you could find?” Elusive asked Dusk, who shook his head tiredly.

“I’m afraid not...” Dusk sighed. “I learned a lot just from analyzing the notebook, and Prince Solaris and Prince Artemis also looked at it, but... the origin strands are not attached to anything we can detect. Then there’s that recurring burst in the matrix that keeps nagging at me... but that only complicates the matter a tiny bit and doesn’t change anything in the end at all.”

“What do you mean?” Elusive asked, frowning.

“We can’t trace Sweetie’s travels back to her home...” Dusk said after a moment. “I think the Twilight that enhanced the matrix knew that and tried to compensate by adding the memory charm to the notebook, as some sort of guideline... but her framework is so complex I have no idea what else she might have done.” Dusk shook his head, his expression betraying his amazement. “It boggles the mind... me... or another me, two hundred years older created a spell so complex that even the Princes had their doubts about its full capabilities.”

Elusive sighed. “Still, that doesn’t help Sweetie... Dusk, I know how I would feel if Silver was taken away from me in a freak accident... most likely not knowing what had happened to him, if he was even alive?” He shook his head. “It would kill me... I would be worried sick, night and day... and that’s only if I believed he was alive, but I wouldn’t be able to know, would I?”

Dusk nodded in silence. “There’s something about Sweetie Belle...” he said after a moment. “She’s smart... very smart. She reminds me of you, of course,” he nodded towards Elusive. “But she reminds me of myself too... it’s... kind of scary to see so much of me in her, especially when Silver is around. I just can’t help but notice how different she is from him, whereas you and I and Butterscotch and Applejack and Blitz and Berry Bubble... we all were pretty much identical to our counterparts.”

“There’s more to it, Dusk,” Elusive said. “She’s sad.” His horn lit up as a picture that was resting next to the notebook floated up. “What has she lived through? What is she living through right now?” He put the picture down. “It’s not surprising she acts different; she’s slightly older and more experienced. But what worries me is... Is she ready?”

Dusk looked down. “I- I don’t know... she’s strong, and smart... but she’s just a filly.” He paused. “Artemis’ gift will certainly help, but Elusive... I feel like I’m failing not only her with this lack of success, but also myself. Like I’m about to give up on Twilight.”

Elusive shook his head. “It’s okay, Dusk, Sweetie is not trapped here, all we need to do is help her find that gem she needed.”

Dusk sighed. “I just wish there was something else I could do. I wrote down my findings in her notebook, hopefully somepony else can use them...” He looked up at his friend. “Sweetie Belle is Twilight’s apprentice... in some ways that makes her my apprentice too... it’s just, one night is not enough...”

Elusive chuckled. “It’s nice to see you feel responsible, Dusk, but you’re not. We can only hope that Sweetie will be returning home soon. With our blessings, and prayers, isn’t that right, Sweetie?”

Sweetie jumped, startled. “How... how did you know I was here?”

Elusive rolled his eyes. “Your coat, dear, it clashes with the walls.”

“Oh,” Sweetie said, looking down at her coat. She smiled sheepishly. “I guess it does.”

Both stallions chuckled as Dusk’s magic levitated another cup of tea to the table. “Would you care to join us?”

Nodding happily, Sweetie sat down and levitated the tea to her lips. “Hey, this is Spike’s- I mean, Spine’s special blend! Does everypony know about it?”

Elusive laughed. “Well, I knew, of course, and after seeing how distraught dear Dusk was, I decided to share the location just this once.”

Dusk shook his head, but smiled. “Now we only need to find that fragment so you can continue your journey,” he said. “I’m sorry I couldn’t send you home, Sweetie.”

Sweetie smiled a bit sadly. “I... I don’t think I would want to go without finding Twilight first...” she confessed.

“Do you have any idea how to find the crystal you need?” Elusive asked. “I have a gem-locating spell, but I don’t know if that will be of much help...”

“It’s okay,” Sweetie said before taking a moment to take a sip of that familiar tea. “I already know where it is.”


“Are you really leaving?” Silver asked, looking at Sweetie with sad, puppy eyes.

Sweetie Belle cringed. Did I ever do that to Rarity?

“I have to, Silver... this morning... I don’t know why but... I- I know that I have to go.”

“It’s too bad, kid, I was starting to like you after last night’s prank!” Rainbow Blitz grinned.

“Aw... I thought you could help us with getting our Cutie Marks...” Scooteroll said, walking up to her. “With your magic, I’m sure we could have made some awesome plans!”

“Ah’ll miss you, Sweetie Belle,” Applebuck said, giving her a short hug. “It was mighty fun havin’ you around.”

“We see that we didn’t miss Sweetie’s departure,” Prince’s Artemis’ voice reached them as he walked into the library.

“You’re doing that thing with the ‘we’ again,” Scooteroll commented, frowning.

Artemis blinked and cleared his throat. “Ah, right. I have to watch it, you see... I have a tendency to slip back into the royal ‘we’.”

“That’s better,” Scooteroll chuckled.

“W- I have brought you this, for your travels,” he said to Sweetie, levitating a small black gem and a white gem, which attached themselves to the spine of her book.

Sweetie’s eyes went wide when, with a small flash from the gems, a small trail of energy appeared over all the small gems in the book. “That’s the spell matrix!”

Dusk leaned close. “It is; usually you need a spell designed to let you see it for you to work on it directly. Gems and lenses are usually enchanted with it, along with a permanency spell to allow magical artisans and certain experts to work on them.”

“Ooh!” Sweetie smiled at Dusk. “I remember Rarity had one of those! She said she used it to make the diamonds and gems in the dresses! I never knew she was enchanting the gems!”

Elusive chuckled. “It is indeed a very useful tool!”

“So that’s how she made the notebook in the first place!” Sweetie said. “She created a simple matrix and used it to decorate the notebook as she would a dress...” she started pacing. “... but by using really good quality gems, she allowed Twilight to also enchant the notebook with the pocket dimension spell tied to me.”

Dusk frowned, as if he had thought of something for a second, but he shook his head and nodded. “Yes, the quality of the gems has allowed every other Twilight to add to and modify your notebook a bit; however, the last Twilight added some very heavy spells to it, and the space left is very limited.”

Sweetie studied the matrix. “I see... there are nine gems on the cover. The ruby on the upper left corner seems to be the start of the spell matrix, and it’s glowing pretty strongly in contrast to the opal on the opposite corner. These three, starting from the upper right all the way down to the lower left seem to be for one spell alone, feeding off the ruby via the central sapphire, but creating a loop with the jade to its left, linking to the opal, and the opal’s spell is dedicated, so it has no facets... my guess is that the Pocket Dimension spell is housed there and it uses the same energy such a reaction creates to ‘feed’ back the loop.”

“It’s truly ingenious,” Prince Artemis said, nodding alongside Dusk. “But it has basically reached the end of its upgrade capability, as it is. There’s a couple of spells in there that take a huge amount of energy and space; what they are for... I can only wonder.”

“Ah... could y’all translate all that magic mumbo-jumbo for the rest of us please?” Applebuck asked.

“It has a lot of spells already and can’t take anymore,” Prince Artemis simply stated.

“Oooooh...” came a chorus of voices.

Sweetie sighed. “I guess there had to be a limit. The only thing it can take anymore is just plain written word...”

“Which,” Dusk interjected, his horn alight as he floated a scrap of paper over. “I happen to have something of the sort. You got something from the Prince. Now have something from me.”

Her eyes wide and curious, Sweetie took the paper into her own hold, and scanned its contents, an eyebrow raised. “A... A vessel of white, to hold the down...?” she asked, looking back at the stallion quizzically.

“Sweetie, I want you to understand this.” the librarian stated, stepping close. “If you ever feel in need of... shelter, from your travels... when you use that spell, it’ll take you straight back to this dimension. But don’t use it capriciously. This WILL drain you of all your magic when you activate it. Only use it when things are too dire for you. Understand?”

The filly nodded slowly to him as she slipped it in between the pages of her notebook. “I understand, Dusk,” she answered. With a brief flash of magic, she dismissed her notebook before turning towards Artemis with another question. “So, what do the two gems you added do?”

The prince chuckled. “I’ll let you find out. Use the white one if you ever need to go to a formal occasion and the black one if you really need extra protection.”

Sweetie nodded as she levitated the purple crystal Elusive had taken and replaced from her dress. She looked at it as it spun in front of her, then turned to look at the others. “It feels like I always say goodbye in this place,” she said, looking around at the bookshelves and the ponies around her. “It’s funny how I come here to find so much and yet... lose so much in the end.”

Elusive nuzzled her. “Sweetie, you are much too young to be talking like that.”

Sweetie smiled a bit. “I don’t feel that young.” She looked up at Elusive. “Elusive... brother, I... I wish I could stay a bit longer, but...”

Elusive nodded, his soft smile remaining as he took a step back. “You are always welcome back, sister. I always wondered how Rarity felt when she met Silver... and now I know. There’s love that goes far beyond the limits of our dimensions.”

Silver stepped forth and hugged Sweetie tightly. “I’ll miss you...”

“I’ll miss you too, Silver.” Sweetie Belle said.

The colt nodded to her, pausing for a moment before speaking up again. “Sweetie...” he started, voice tinged with shyness as he searched for the words. “I- I think you should know... I... I like you... really like you.”

Sweetie held him closer for a moment, before pushing him back so that she could see into his eyes as she held his shoulders. “Silver... you should know that... I love you. But like a brother, Silver. Just like I love Elusive. Can... can you live with that?

Silver sighed, before nodding, accepting the situation. “Y-yeah,” he replied, looking up at her with a bit more confidence than before. “You should come back to visit sometime... sis.”

Sweetie nodded. “I’ll try, bro... I’ll definitely try.

“Sweetie,” Dusk said, stepping up. “I can’t speak for all Twilights and Dusks in the multiverse... but I think that most of us, if not all, would be proud and happy to call you our apprentice.”

Sweetie nodded, trying her best to keep the blush off of her face as she replied. “T-Thank you Dusk... I hope to see you again.”

Sweetie Belle stepped away from them and then turned, so she was facing them for a second. She then closed her eyes as her magic made contact with the crystal.

Sweetie... she heard Twilight’s voice. You’re still here...

I’ll bring you back home, Twilight... I promise. Sweetie replied in her mind.

Dusk frowned again when he noticed the crystal start to pulsate. “Wait... wait! That’s it! Sweetie!”

Sweetie Belle opened her eyes, startled. Already most of her body had disintegrated into motes of light.

“Sweetie! The Spell Matrix! The elder Twilight left a message for all other Twilights! It’s in the matrix! The pulse...” He fell silent as the last of the lights faded.

Within seconds, the library was a scene of sadness, the departure of the filly having placed a damper on the mood. Especially the mood of one stallion, who had just now, realized what was at stake.

“I hope you heard enough...” he sighed. “Because you need to know... and soon.”


“What did you mean, Dusk?!” Sweetie asked as the world flashed around her. Her eyes widened when she saw a metallic pony-like thing turning to ‘look’ at her.

“INTRUDER DETECTED!” it hollered. “STOP RIGHT THERE, CRIMINAL SCUM!” it added, turning fully to face her. “SURRENDER NOW AND BE ANNIHILATED!”

“Wait!” she shouted as two tubes mounted on its sides shot something at her. Sweetie Belle dove to the side, watching in horror as the ground was scorched where she had just been standing before. She quickly raised a shield, which buckled under another attack.

Sweetie Belle was pushed back, unable to do anything but concentrate as hard as she could on the shield as several miniature objects slammed into it constantly as the metallic pony slowly advanced on her. “I’m... sorry! I didn’t know I was trespassing! I’ll go away!” she shouted over the rattling sounds of the things being shot at her.

The metal creature did not stop, however, until a rock hit it on its head.

Sweetie almost let the shield fall in surprise when a filly even younger than her and dressed up in some sort of yellow suit with a glass helmet ran straight onto the metallic pony and started smashing its face in with the rock.

“I hate bully-bots!” she shouted.

“IN- bzzt- SURReeeenDuuuur” SLAM! “ANNI-” SLAM! BAM! “LATED..” SLAM! SLAM! CRASH! A female voice clicked in from the remains of the metallic pony. “Your Solaris Inc. product seems to have malfunctioned. Please contact-” BAM! With a final smash, the thing, whatever it was, quieted down.

The little filly turned and looked up at Sweetie, who just then realized she was now in an adult body again, when she had to look down at her saviour.

“Hello, pretty pony!” The pink-eyed filly said with a smile. “I’m Puppysmiles! I'm looking for my mom! Have you seen her?”

o.0.o End Chapter 4 o.0.o

Next Chapter: Pink Eyes

A/N: Read it here Also, if you haven’t done so for some reason, make sure to go read the new chapter of “On a Whisper of Wind

The Sweety Chronicles: Fragments

Chapter 5: On a Cross And Arrow

(April Fools)

By Wanderer D

Based on the Original Story by Conner Cogwork


“Sweepy? I heard you shout! Is everything okay?” Elusive called again.

Both Sweetie and Sweepy looked at each other, eyes wide.

“I-” Sweetie stammered.

“We’re-” Sweepy sputtered. “I-”

“Okay, I’m coming in!” the voice said and the door knob started to turn.

Sweepy panicked and grabbed Sweetie, pulling her into the shower and behind the curtain as the door opened and Elusive walked in, eyebrow arched.

“I thought I heard something, Sweepy,” he said, stopping and looking around the bathroom.

Sweepy smiled, grinning like an idiot and struggling to keep Sweetie under the shower and behind the curtain. “Uh, you did? W-well, yeah... I- I dropped the soap!”

Elusive looked at him blankly. “You... dropped the soap and screamed like a little filly?”

“Y-yeah! Uh, Scooteroll once told me what happens to pretty-faced stallions in prison when they drop the soap and-”

Elusive started sputtering and coughing as he shook his head in disbelief. “He what?! How did he hear- no, wait...” he took a deep breath and glared at his younger brother. “Sweepy...”

The colt smiled. “Yes, Elusive?”

“Why is the shower-curtain moving like you’re hiding a pony behind it?”

Sweepy looked to the side, where the curtain was being pushed outwards by Sweetie’s hoofs as she tried desperately to get out of the water and the shower. “Uh... because... because of... the... uh, vapors?” he suggested lamely.

With a sigh, Elusive conjured up his magic and the curtain was pushed aside. “Now, I’ve told you before that you three can...” he stared. “Oh, my... Sweepy, is that a filly in the shower with you?”

Sweetie glared at Sweepy, using one of her hooves to push away the wet mane from her eyes. “The hay were you thinking?!”

“I don’t know!” Sweepy countered, looking back at her. “What did you expect me to do?”

“Something other than throwing me into the water just like that!” Sweetie snapped. “Aw... my mane is really wet now!”

“Well, you just appeared in here! What was I supposed to think! Besides, I don’t even know you!” Sweepy retorted, shaking his head.

Elusive tried to hide a smile. “Well, she does look familiar. I wonder...” he took a couple of steps towards them, his magic flaring again to turn off the shower and wrap a pair of towels around both youngsters.

Sweepy and Sweetie glared at each other from under the towels.

“Yeah... I think I do recognize you from somewhere...” Sweepy finally said. “Have you been to Ponyville before?”

“I live here!” Sweetie huffed.

“Well, I’ve never seen you before!”

Well, I haven’t seen you either!”

“Now, now, Sweetie, Sweepy, just dry yourselves and we can talk a bit before bed time, okay?” Elusive instructed calmly.

“Okay, Elusive...” Sweepy sighed as he started drying himself.

Sweetie, for her part, was staring at Elusive, towel forgotten. “Wait... how did you know my name?”

Elusive’s smile grew as his eyes twinkled in excitement. “Oh, I just knew it! This is the BEST POSSIBLE THING!”

She stared at the grinning stallion in front of her, staring as those familiar words echoed in her brain. Nopony else used those words except her sister. And this stallion... white, purple mane, blue eyes... was he actually...

“R... R-Rarity?”

Her eyes rolled back
and everything faded to black.


As her blurry eyes adjusted to the light around her, Sweetie could just make out voices, although she couldn’t understand what was being said. Her eyes tried to focus on a pony that looked familiar. Purple coat, dark blue for the mane, with dark pink and violet highlights.

“Twi- Twilight?” she groaned, closing her eyes. “What happened? I had the weirdest dream that Rarity was a stallion...” She tried to sit up. “Did I cast too many spells again? Why am I lying down?”

“It’s okay, Sweetie Belle, you just passed out,” a voice said soothingly.

Not recognizing the voice, Sweetie’s eyes snapped open as she looked around. She was in the library, everything was the same as normal except...

“Twilight! You- you’ve been turned into a colt! Did I mess up a spell!?”

Dusk chuckled, settling back. “No, Sweetie, it’s okay, my name is Dusk, and I am Twilight’s counterpart... you see, you are in a world that is just like your own, only everypony that is a filly in your world, is a colt here.”

Sweetie’s eyes widened. “You mean...” she looked around again, noticing Elusive looking at her. “That’s... Rarity? Only, a colt?”

Elusive nodded. “That’s right, Sweetie. Rarity told me about you, and that’s why I knew who you were.”

“Oh... so you’ve met Rarity?” Sweetie shook her head. “I thought I was the only pony travelling to different worlds!”

“Well, we managed to send her home, and I think I’ve almost got the spell ready to send you home too,” Dusk said.

Sweetie’s eyes were wide open now. “Really?! You can do that?! I thought I’d be stuck bouncing around dimensions for a while!”

Dusk chuckled. “It’s no problem. We have everything ready, but we wanted you to be awake so that you wouldn’t have any trouble getting home once we send you to your world.”

“So what do I do?” Sweetie asked.

“Just, stand right there...” Dusk pointed to a mostly empty area of the library, where a vase stood. “I’ll begin casting the spell now.”

“Okay!” Sweetie hurried to take her position as Dusk’s horn started glowing.

The vase next to Sweetie started glowing and energy extended from it, creating a magical field around Sweetie.

“Sweetie, say hello to Rarity for us!” Elusive cried.

“I will!” Sweetie Belle promised.

The field started shining brighter and brighter. “We’re almost done!” Dusk shouted.

At that moment, a pink flash of energy sent both colts flopping to the floor.

Dusk gasped as he struggled to stand up, he looked towards the vase to find it broken, with no sign of Sweetie.

“Sweetie?!” Elusive turned to look at Dusk worriedly. “What happened?!”

“I... I don’t know? Maybe she made it?” Dusk shook his head.

A feminine laugh, derisive and rather maniacal filled the library. “Oh, she made it alright!”

Dusk’s head whipped around in surprise, looking for the origin of the voice, which he couldn’t mistake anywhere. “Eris! Show yourself! What’d you do to Sweetie?”

“Oh, Dusk, always soooo serious! She’s fine! I just sent her to another world!” Eris said, her disembodied head floating out of the bookshelf, grinning like an idiot as it bounced through the air.

The rest of her body opened the door to the library, stepped in, closed it and walked up to them before Eris’ head floated down and reattached itself.

“Eris! This is serious! She’s just a filly; she can’t deal with your craziness! She’ll get killed!”

The draconequus laughed. “Oh, Elusive, you kill me! She’s scheduled to stop at the Wastelands next anyways; Don’t think that filly is as useless as you think she is!”

“She’s scheduled to go where?” Dusk shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but-”

He stopped when Eris’ finger gently pressed against his lips. His eyes widened as she batted her eyes at him. “It’s okay, honey, let’s see what she’s up to, okay?”

Elusive snorted. “And how are we going to do that exactly?”

Eris grinned and snapped her fingers. Suddenly, in a puff of pink smoke, the three of them were sitting in a pair of loveseats, Elusive comfortably settled on a smaller, normally shaped one, while the larger of the two, shaped like an enormous heart, had sloping sides that sent Eris sliding into Dusk’s lap.

The lights had dimmed and there was a bowl of popcorn in between Eris and Dusk. “Well, TV of course!” she laughed, pointing at a large screen that had suddenly appeared.



Sweetie landed painfully on a metallic surface of some sort.

“Ow, where am I?” she gasped.

“I have a better question for you,” a strange creature asked. “How did you get inside the TARDIS?”

“The whatnow?” Sweetie slowly stood up. “I don’t know. I think Dusk must have messed up the interdimensional travel spell.”

“Well, it’s highly unusual, let me tell you that,” the creature said, hurriedly running from one side of the room to another. “But, if some sort of teleportation went wrong, I shouldn’t be surprised; the TARDIS seems to be a beacon for strange occurrences.”

“So... I’m in a TARDIS... and who are you again?”

“I’m The Doctor.”

“Oh, I’m Sweetie Belle!”

The creature stopped. “Aren’t you going to ask me for the rest of my name?”

“No... should I?”

The Doctor chuckled. “Guess not. Well, Sweetie Belle, we’re about to arrive in the early 800s in England.”

“England? Where’s that? Is it near Equestria?”

The Doctor blinked. “Equestria? Never heard of it.”

Sweetie gasped. “But... how?”

“We’ll have time for that later,” the Doctor assured her. “Right now, I have to stop a catastrophe from happening, you see, there is this... thing, from another dimension, like you, I would say, although, not a unicorn, and it is going to disrupt time in such a way that it will completely destroy everything around it...” He frowned as he waved some sort of device over her. “You also have an intriguing amount of tachyons and and interdimensional stuff all around you.”

“Stuff?” Sweetie shook her head. “I’ve been travelling to other worlds, so that’s probably the reason.”

The Doctor shrugged as the whole place shuddered and then stopped. “Well, we’re here. Are you coming?”

Sweetie nodded, curiously looking at the small doors as they opened. When she stepped out, her eyes went over the whole green fields around them. “Wow, this reminds me of home! And you say this place is called Ingland?”

“England, yes,” the doctor said.

“Okay! So where do we go now?” Sweetie asked, just as a group of creatures like the Doctor, only covered in metallic armor and riding horses stampeded past them.

“I say we follow the knights!”

The pair followed the knights as they rushed to a great creature that tore the ground around with rays coming out of its bulbous eyes.

“Hm, just as I was afraid of,” The Doctor said, raising an eyebrow. “A Neutronian Reaver, nasty bit of technology, that one.”

“Wh- what does it do?” Sweetie asked as the monstrosity’s rays obliterated two knights. The group seemed to take note of the Doctor and Sweetie and galloped away from the mechanical monster, which turned around and proceeded to start excavating the earth, something that it had seemed to be doing before the knights attacked.

“I’ll tell you in a moment,” the Doctor said, keeping his eyes on the approaching knights.

“Greetings,” the lead knight, wearing a green armor said, raising his hand. “Judging from your clothes and the fact that you are conversing with a unicorn, I must assume you to be some sort of wizard.”

The Doctor looked perplexed, but after a moment of hesitation, nodded.

“As you can see, we are in dire need of help, wizard,” the knight continued. “In the name of the King, I bid you help us!”

“What king?” Sweety asked.

“Why, King Arthur of course!” The knight answered. “Allow me to introduce myself; I am Sir Galahad, and I have been entrusted by my king to deal with that creature, but by ourselves, there’s little that we can do.”

The Doctor nodded. “Well, the Neutronian Reavers are infamous for being almost unstoppable once they get started. Once they get in contact with the surface of a planet, they will dig a tunnel to the center of said planet and consume the energy residing in it, effectively destroying the world.”

Sweetie gulped. “But... is there a way to do it?”

“Well, there’s always a way... I just don’t know how we can get it off the ground long enough for it to lose its connection to earth, keep it distracted long enough for it to deplete its energy and finally attach a tachion-dislocation device on it so that it gets thrown into a place where it cannot damage the multiverse,” the Doctor listed.

Sweetie raised an eyebrow and looked at the machine. “Well... if I were as strong as Twilight I could levitate it but... my magic is not strong enough to keep it floating more than a few seconds.”

“Hm, we need a full minute at least and-” The Doctor shook his head. “Wait a moment, you said you can levitate it?”


“Then we might have a chance!” The Doctor smiled. “Sir Galahad, we will need the help of you and your knights to keep it distracted, but we can do this!”

“I will rally my knights, good wizard!” the Knight said.

“Okay, but first, here’s the plan...”

The Neutronian Reaver stopped its excavation when the knights attacked again. Raising to the challenge, it began to shoot its deadly rays at him, but this time the knights kept enough distance that they could dodge them. It never seemed to realize that it was no longer touching the ground.

Inside the TARDIS, strapped to several cables and wearing a strange contraption on her head, Sweetie concentrated hard on levitating the robot, as the Doctor had called it. Had she not been plugged in, as it were, she knew that she wouldn’t have been able to even pick it up a bit, much less high enough to keep it off the ground and this long! “Hurry Doctor!” she groaned. “I’m doing as much as I can, but I’m almost completely out of energy!”

She watched in the screen how, as the knights were distracted, the Doctor creeped up to the monster. Once he was within reach, he quickly attached the device he had onto the base of the mechanical creature.

The moment he did, all of the Neutronian Reaver’s devices pointed at him as it produced an ear-splitting screech. The weapons charged... and sputtered as the last of its earth-based energy left it. The device attached to it beeped...

And the world fizzled around Sweetie.


“That was really intense! I thought the Doctor wouldn’t make it!”

Dusk’s eyelids were halfway down as he stared forward with a decidedly annoyed look. “It was... but... please get off of me, Eris.”

The draconequus pretended to be hurt. “What? That’s very cold of you, Dusk dear...”

Elusive snickered. “She is right, Dusk ‘dear’, you shouldn’t leave a lady hanging like that in her time of need.”

Dusk closed his eyes and grit his teeth. “Where is Sweetie now, Eris?”

“Well, why don’t we find out?”


Sweetie shook her head. “Doctor?”

“Well, the unicorn speaks,” a voice said. “This is clearly a symptom of my delirium.”

“What are you talking about?” Sweetie said, rolling off of the dusty sofa she had landed on. “Where am I? Who are you?”

The human she was looking at was tall, although he was slouching on a couch, his left leg extended as he strummed a guitar. His hair was cut short, and he had a stubble... Rarity would have been appalled at how little he seemed to care for his appearance.

His head leaned back as he looked down at her with slightly watery eyes. He frowned. “That’s unusual: hallucinations usually know your name given that the stimuli comes directly from the brain. You seem rather benign for a drug-induced nightmare.”

“I’m not a Nightmare!” Sweetie said, shaking her head. “My name is Sweetie Belle, and I asked your name.”

The man looked out a window, momentarily seeming to ignore her. She took advantage to look around the room she was in.

There were clothes scattered around, what looked like vinyl LPs, and a lot of empty little bottles with tags on them.

Sweetie was about to remind him that it was rude not to answer when something on his belt beeped. The man slowly looked down and pulled a black little machine up. “Well, my unicorn friend, it seems I have to go; please feel free to use my humble abode.”

“Wait!” Sweetie said as the man stood and started limping towards the door. “You can’t just do that! Don’t leave me alone!”

He looked at her steadily for a minute before shrugging. “Well, I could never say no to a little girl. Come on, I’ll drive.”

“Thank you...” Sweetie sighed. “I don’t know much about the human world. I’m usually only with other ponies...”

The man chuckled. “And here I thought you would insist on driving. That’s what all the other hallucinations do.”

Sweetie shook her head as she walked out of the door politely held open by the man.

“So what was your name?” She asked again as he looked it.

Dr. Gregory House, but most just call me House.”


“Oooh! A medical drama!” Eris giggled, cuddling up to Dusk, who threw some popcorn into his mouth and refused to acknowledge her, the giggling Elusive, or the blush developing on his cheeks.


Doctors and nurses and patients and visitors all stopped and stared as House walked into the  Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital followed by a filly unicorn.

“Now, if I were an annoying pest, where would I be?” House mused as a nurse stopped dead in her tracks, releasing the wheelchair she had been pushing, letting it roll right out of the automatic doors and into the parking lot. “Aha, my office!” he declared triumphantly as he started limping towards the elevator. “Come on, Sweetie Belle, there’s wannabe doctors waiting!”

Sweetie smiled nervously at everyone as she followed House into the elevator. Turning around, she waved goodbye as the doors closed. She looked at the numbers on the wall as they lighted one by one, until, with a ‘ding’, the elevator doors opened once more and the pair walked down a corridor and into a large office with glass walls, where a group of three doctors waited.

“House, finally!” a female doctor with brown hair turned around at the sound of the door opening. “We’ve been wai-” She stopped immediately to stare at the little unicorn that walked in after her superior.

“Dr. Cameron. Dr. Chase. Dr. Foreman.” House nodded at each of the doctors. “If you can see her, my unicorn friend’s name is Sweetie Belle. And if you can’t see her, things are worse than I thought. Now, what seems to be the problem?”

“But- that’s a unicorn!” Dr. Cameron snapping out of it. “How... why is there a unicorn with you? Aren’t they supposed to only go to pure little girls?”

“Is that true?” House looked at Sweetie, who shrugged.

“Galahad said the same thing, but I never heard of any unicorn even meeting a human before me,” Sweetie  replied.

House smiled pleasantly at the three doctors, who, once more, were staring at the talking unicorn. “See? Myths and defamations.”

Dr. Cameron slowly placed her hands on her face. “Why... why am I even surprised? If there was anyone that could possibly bring a freaking live, honest-to-God talking unicorn to the hospital, it would have to be you.”

“So, you called and we are here,” House said. “What is the problem?”

“We have a patient... she... she’s delirious... she um...” Dr. Foreman hesitated.

“Yes?” House insisted.

“She... she thinks she’s a unicorn named Lyra Heartstrings...” Dr. Foreman said slowly. “We did some tests but couldn’t find anything in her blood and...”

“Lyra?!” Sweetie Belle jumped in front of them. “How? Is she okay?”

Chase looked at the filly. “You know a unicorn called Lyra?” He closed his eyes and massaged his temple. “Of course you do, why wouldn’t you?”

House smirked. “Well, let’s see what ‘Lyra’ has to say.”

The group followed House and Sweetie Belle down to the medical ward, where they could soon hear shouting.

“Let me go! Damn it! It’s not funny! Not even Mollari tried to keep me trapped like this! I demand a lawyer! Or at least a lyre! For the love of Celestia, humans! I’m one of you now!”

“Well, well, well, Miss... Lyra,” House said as he stepped into the room, drawing the attention of the young lady with gray hair and blue bangs. “To what do we owe your presence in our world?”

“You don’t believe me,” Lyra growled. “Nobody here does.”

“Well, you have to understand,” House smiled. “People lie. It’s a fact. Part of being human.”

“Well, I’ve only been human for an hour!”

“It just so happens that I believe you,” House said. “After all, unicorns haven’t lied to me yet.”

Lyra frowned. “What unicorns? There aren’t any other unico-” her eyes widened as she looked to the right of the human doctor. “Sw- Sweetie Belle?! How did you get here?”

“Lyra! It is you!” Sweetie jumped on the bed. “How did you get here?”

“I found a box that could transport me to different worlds... so I took Twilight, Octavia and Vinyl with me and at one point I was told that I could be turned into a human so I... um... I shoved Twi and the others out of the way and um... here I am...” she cringed. “Can you help me?”

“Um... I don’t know how?” Sweetie sighed. “Do you want me to turn you back into a unicorn? I could try...”

“No!” Lyra shouted. “I’m okay! I just need to get out of here!”

“But... you don’t know how to act like a human,” Sweetie argued. “Hold on, I think I might have a spell for this...”

“No... please, Sweetie...” Lyra begged. “I finally have my hands...”

Sweetie sighed again. “Fine,” she looked up at House. “She’s actually a good pony, and a very good musician... if you could teach her how to be a human I’m sure she’d be okay...”

“You can’t be suggesting what I think you are...” Chase spoke up. “She’s cute, she shouldn’t be left alone with House!”

“Pleeeeaase?” Sweetie begged, looking with big watery eyes at House, who rolled his eyes.

“Fine, she can stay with me, but she has to clean Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. And also get a job.”

Lyra nodded. “I will! Thank you!”

“I can’t believe this,” Chase groaned.

“What, you wanted her for yourself?” Dr. Cameron asked, elbowing him.

“What about you, Sweetie?” Lyra asked as Dr. Foreman reluctantly removed the restraints.

“I don’t know, I’ve been randomly-”

The world fizzled around her.

“-being transported...” she finished with a sigh.


“Seriously? You’re just going to change the channel?” Dusk asked, glaring down at Eris, who was resting her head on his lap.

“Well yes, Dusky, we all know how that ends... House and Lyra fall in love, they have crazy sex and then they end it over a fight because House is being House and he remains bitter, she finds a good job, gets together with another girl after discovering her true sexuality and they all live happily until House shows up again.”

Dusk sighed, shaking his head. “So, what’s next?”


“Ow!” Sweetie exclaimed as she landed on the hard asphalt of a dark, dimly lit street. “Ugh, great, where am I now?” she grumbled to herself, rising to her hooves as quickly as she could, wincing from the few cuts and bruises she gained from the hard fall. She had hardly gotten up before she was almost run over from behind.

“H-hey, watch where you’re going!” Sweetie exclaimed, barely leaping away in time, her jump far from graceful.


As Sweetie took a closer look, she saw yet another oddity, but tried to analyze it rather than be stunned by it. It was fairly large, over three times her height, and appeared to be constructed mostly of metal, though its head appeared to be made of glass, the contents of which were glowing somewhat, showing a fish. Sweetie was shocked as its mouth moved, and she heard, “I-I’m sorry, are you alright?”

“Y-yeah,” she replied absently, still staring at the large creature. After a moment of silence, she continued, “I’m Sweetie Belle. Who are you?”

“Minion,” it replied shortly, staring right back at her. “I... what are you?”

“I’m a unicorn,” she replied, only slightly indignant. “What are you?”

“What, you’ve never seen a talking fish before?”

“Well... No, I haven’t, but then again, I’ve seen a lot of things today that I’ve never seen before,” she admitted, rubbing the back of her head with her hoof. “So where are you off in such a rush to?”

“Away from here,” it replied, huffing slightly.

“Why, what happened? Is there a monster coming?” Sweetie asked, starting to prepare some magic, just in case.

“Code: I don’t want to talk about it,” he answered, looking away.

“Huh?” Sweetie tilted her head to the side, frowning. “Code... what?”

Minion blinked, before facepalming the glass sphere that contained his body, lamenting, “I forgot that you wouldn’t know the code, sorry.” Looking back up at her, he leaned down towards her, lowering his voice as he inquired, “If I teach you the code, do you promise not to tell anyone else?”

“Yeah, I promise!” Sweetie replied eagerly, excited at the chance to learn some more new information. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!”

Minion blinked as the unicorn made some odd motions with her hooves as she chanted her reply. “A-alright... Anyway, I’ll just keep saying things in ‘the code’ until you get it, alright? Now, code: I’ve never seen a unicorn before.”

Sweetie frowned in thought, trying to figure out what he could possibly be trying to say.

Code: it looks like it’s going to rain soon,” he continued, stressing the word ‘code’ a little bit. “Code: I hope you don’t hate wet hair,” he added, making quotation marks with his mechanical fingers.

Blinking in realization, she questioned haltingly, “Code: are you saying that the code is just adding the word ‘code’ in front of whatever you want to say?”

After a surprised, if a bit forced, gasp, Minion answered, “Code: I can’t believe you broke ‘the code’ so quickly!” Recovering, he added in a thoughtful voice, “Code: you’re more intelligent than I first thought...”

Taking a step backwards, Sweetie replied, slightly confused, “Code... umm, thanks?”

“Code: you’re welcome!” Minion smiled, holding out a mechanical hand. “Code: want to be my friend?”

“Code: sure!” Sweetie replied, holding out her hoof, allowing him to shake it warmly, if with a bit of a strong.

“Code: great! Want to get donuts?”

“Code: that’d be awesome!” Sweetie exclaimed, eyes brightening. “Code: I haven’t had anything to eat in hours!”

“Code: great! Hop on,” he finished, motioning to the contraption he was standing on.

“Code: thanks!” Sweetie jumped aboard, clutching tightly to Minion’s leg as it started down the street at a much higher speed than she thought possible.


As Sweetie downed another donut happily, she mumbled around the food, “Code: so where were you going? What happened?”

“Code: I was betrayed by this guy I knew who might have kinda, sorta been a bit of a jerk,” Minion replied darkly, the table bearing the full brunt of his sullen gaze.

Frowning as she took another bite, she pressed further, “Code: what did he do, and why did he do it?”

Looking away, Minion responded quickly, “Code: he totally refused to listen to what I had to say, and was being totally selfish, so I left to find some place where I’d be more appreciated.”

Swallowing, Sweetie levitated a napkin to wipe her mouth absently, before saying slowly, “Code: so you’re not even going to try to forgive him?”

“Code: no, why should I? He won’t listen to me!”

“Code: so? Just because-”

Sweetie was interrupted as she saw a tall, blue creature of similar size and shape, save for an overlarge cranium, to the humans she had run into earlier. She and Minion watched in silence as he stopped a woman nearby, talking to her for a little while, before the woman walked off in the rain, leaving the blue man standing there, alone.

Sweetie turned back to continue her conversation with Minion. She saw how distant he seemed as he watched the blue man slowly walk off, depressed and, after a moment of contemplative silence, she asked quietly, “That was your friend, wasn’t it? The jerk?”

“... Yeah,” Minion answered quietly. “I told him that the bad guy never gets the girl, and then he said that maybe he didn’t want to be the bad guy anymore then, and...”

“... You’re bad guys? Why?” Sweetie asked, surprised. He seemed rather nice. How could they possibly be evil?

“Well... because,” Minion answered, waving his hands helplessly. “It’s not like we were accepted for anything else, so since everybody expected it of us, we jus-”

“Wasn’t there a part of you that wanted to prove them wrong?”

“Well... Maybe a little, tiny piece,” Minion admitted.

“So why not try it? Your friend is willing to try, and it sounds like you’re willing to consider it, so why not give it a chance? He’s your friend and you should always be able to forgive your friends, even if he did do some stupid stuff.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right, but we have to find him first.”

“Well... what is he likely to do now?” Sweetie asked, gazing intently at Minion.

After thinking for a moment, he chuckled to himself, answering, “Probably turn himself in to the police to be arrested, if I had to guess, since he does stupid stuff like that when he’s depressed.”

“Well then, what say we break him out of jail then?” Sweetie asked, quirking an eyebrow as she grinned.

“Code: I would really appreciate your help,” Minion suggested back, grinning a little.

“Code: you don’t have to ask! Come on, let’s go free your friend! Code: do you have any ideas?”

Frowning in thought, Minion looked down at his hands, playing with the mechanics of them, when something on his wrist flashed, causing him to smile. “Code: I think I have a great plan, but I’ll need help getting past the guards.”

“Code: let’s go do this then!” Sweetie cheered, holding her hoof out, which Minion pounded gently.

“Code: yeah! Let’s get to it!”


The world fizzled and sizzled again in what felt like being in a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey....stuff and suddenly Sweetie was sitting on a couch, right next to Elusive, who waved a hoof at her.

Dusk and... Discord? No... it was female... and it was kissing Dusk.

“What’s going on here?” she finally asked.

Elusive smiled. “Well, Dusk and Eris finally confessed their love for each other and I managed to bring you back with the ‘return’ button on this control thing...”

Sweetie blinked. “I swear Twilight gets in the weirdest relationships...”

Elusive chuckled. “Well, you won’t be going anywhere while those two are making out; want to watch the rest of ‘Megamind’ and see how Minion did?”

Sweetie sighed. “Pass the Popcorn.”

o.o.o The End! o.o.o

Happy April Fools! XD

It took us about 4 hours of solid work (with one looong break) to finish this, hope you enjoyed it!

WD, Magical Trevor & Undestated Hyperbole

Like 'Choose Your Own Adventure" type of Stories? Try "Lyra's Quest" By Wanderer D!

Editors & Proof: littlerobotbird, Magical Trevor, Mimezinga, Fifth Alicorn, Cardslafter, Super Big Mac


Rarity lay on her stomach in her bed, staring morosely at the velvet pillows she had once loved so much. On the bottom floor, right below her room, she could hear Opalescence meowing and the rattle of food being poured into her bowl. Rarity sighed and put the feline out of her mind, her gaze travelling around her room, looking down when the breeze ruffled the discarded papers next to her bed: Fluttershy’s latest attempts at getting her back into designing dresses.

She simply didn’t have the energy to indulge in such a thing anymore. Her eyes strayed to the window, her horn flashing reluctantly to part the curtains and close it altogether. Then, she saw the bottle of pills on her nightstand.

She was supposed to take one every eight hours or so. Always with a meal.

Drink plenty of water.

Go out, get some fresh air and sunlight.

She could take two when going to sleep so that she wouldn’t dream at all... three... three was a no-no. Her horn glowed softly as the bottle cap twisted off and a couple of pills floated out.

Rarity stared at the bottle and pulled out three more. She put it down, then levitated it once again, pulling out more until a dozen pills  were hovering before her.

Better to make sure.


Rarity put them in her mouth and swallowed, dropping the bottle next to the bed as she took a gulp of water to help them down.


Then she lay back down, slowly closing her eyes, her breathing starting to get slower. She barely had the energy to keep her eyes open. But it was okay... she would soon be with her sister. She would soon be able to hold Sweetie Belle close and to hug Twilight and tell her she forgave her.

Rarity smiled, closed her eyes and stopped breathing.


“Sweetie!?” Rarity’s eyes snapped open as she sat up in her bed. Breathing hard, she quickly dove to the side of her bed, throwing up violently onto the floor. She took deep breaths and started calming down, eyeing the bile-covered pills on the floor through teary eyes and replaying the awful decision she had just made.

The sound of frantic hooves outside her door made her turn to face it just when Fluttershy stampeded in.

“Rarity! Are you okay? I heard you scream. Did you have a nightmare?”

“Fluttershy-” Rarity shook her head, spitting a little bile. “I need to speak with Zecora.”

The pegasus blinked, her eyes straying to the mess on the floor. “I... see, maybe we can go see her tomorrow and-”

“No,” Rarity interrupted, slowly standing up and swaying a bit as her faltering strength caught up with her. “It has to be now.”

Fluttershy stared at her friend for a few moments before nodding.


“Miss Silly Belle? Are you awake now? And now? And now?"  Puppysmiles poked the unicorn a little more, because real science by real ponies in lab coats had totally proven that poking somepony was going to gain her attention for sure: 10 out of 10 foals strongly advised the method. "And now? And now?”

Sweetie Belle groaned and stared at the earth pony filly in the yellow space-suit that was poking her in the ribs.

I thought those things only existed in Scoots’ comics!

“It wasn’t a nightmare,” she groaned, slowly standing up. “You really did destroy that thing with a rock.”

“Yay!” the filly cheered jumping around Sweetie. “You woke up! You woke up! Will you sing for me now? ‘Cause I really really really love your songs!”

Sweetie shook her head, still mildly disoriented from the dimension hop. “What? Sing?”

“Yush!” Puppysmiles smiled, batting her eyes at Sweetie. “Pleeeeeeaaaase? I love-love-love your singing. It’s super duper awesome and when I am a big pony, I will marry you!”

“Marry me?” Sweetie blinked. “Uh... listen, little... filly...”

“I’m Puppysmiles!”

“Right, look, I’m a bit tired. How about we find a place to rest and...”

“Nuh-uh! I gotta find mom!” Puppysmiles gasped. “Have you seen my mom? She is really pretty and super cool and all purple with orange mane and pretty and super very important! Like you!”

“I’m... important?” Sweetie shook her head and took a look around. They were still next to the remains of the metal thing that had attacked her. All she could see for miles around was desert flat that, for some reason, gave her a very strong sense of loss... even if she had never been there before. “I- Puppysmiles? Why don’t we stop someplace to rest and I’ll- I’ll sing you a song once we get there! And maybe I can help you find your mom.”

Puppysmile’s eyes widened. “Can you sing now?”


Sweetie lowered her eyelids. “That wasn’t the deal.”

Puppysmile’s eyes watered up up while she put on her best pout and begged Sweetie Belle to bend to Puppy’s will and sing. “Just a little song? Pweeeeze? Puppy pleease?”

Sweetie brought her hoof to her face. To think I was using that same technique a week ago.

“No, but I can sing on the way.”

“Yush!” Puppysmiles giggled, jumping around Sweetie.

“Do you know where we’re going?”

Puppysmiles stopped in mid jump. She landed and frowned. “Mr. Voice!”

Sweetie watched curiously as lights appeared around the rim of Puppysmiles’ helmet. She took a moment to take in the appearance of the filly. Pink coat, pink eyes, blonde mane and a cute little face were all the details she could make out, since her body was encased in a yellow suit that resembled a character’s ‘space-suit’ from that one book Twilight had about ponies flying to the moon. The helmet was round and made out of some kind of glass, allowing for Puppysmiles to be able to look around in all directions without her vision being impaired. The suit itself had some pockets and saddlebags attached to it. The faint vibration of magic emanated from it, both familiar and foreign to Sweetie’s senses.

Ignoring Sweetie’s stare, Puppysmiles concentrated on the arrows and pretty lights as Mr. Voice spoke up inside the helmet. “Scanning maps from available databases,” the artificial voice said. “Suitable S.T.A.B.L.E. facility found on map. Opening communication. No Signal detected. Checking for emergency channel. Emergency beacon detected in corresponding coordinates. Adding quest marker on the compass.” A small blinking pink arrow appeared on Puppy’s helmet. “Follow the pink arrow on the compass until destination is reached.”

“Thanks, Mr. Voice!” Puppysmiles cheered as she ran in circles around Sweetie, earning a curious glance from Sweetie. “Yay! Song time! Sing! Sing!”

Sweetie rolled her eyes, but started walking behind the filly in the space suit, resolving to ask her about this ‘Mr. Voice’ once they reached their destination. “Um... let’s see... What song should I sing?”

“I know! Sing um... ‘Do You Remember Love’!” Puppy exclaimed after a moment’s thought. “I love-love-love that song!”

I have no idea what song she’s talking about. Sweetie thought with a frown, searching her memory for another option. And what did she mean by me being important? What’s going on? Ugh... I need to figure this out!

“I have a better idea,” Sweetie ventured. “How about I sing a song that Pinkie Pie taught me?”


“Eh-que-stri-a Girls, we’re kinda magical~” Sweetie and Puppysmiles sang in chorus. However, while Puppysmiles seemed completely oblivious to everything and interested only in singing and reaching her next destination, Sweetie kept her eyes on the area around them.

What happened? Sweetie wondered as she surveyed the landscape. This... is this even Equestria? What year is this? How could it have ended up like this? No, she decided, this isn’t Equestria. I must have been sent somewhere else. And... where they know who I am, who Pinkie Pie is, and where little fillies want to grow up and marry me. She groaned and looked at the cloudy sky in desperation. I haven’t even seen a ray of sunlight!

“Miss Sweaty Belle, are you tired of singing?” Puppysmiles asked Sweetie, having dropped out of the song after the chorus.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Puppy. I just got distracted... this doesn’t look like the place I came from at all,” Sweetie replied. “It’s... well... horrible.”

“I was in Ponyville once, and it was awesome!” Puppysmiles said ignoring Sweetie’s remarks about the landscape. “There were a lot of fillies and colts playing and a carousel, but wasn’t a real carousel! It didn’t turn around and... they had a library in a tree...” She frowned. “You’re not going to cry now, are you?”

Sweetie blinked in confusion. “No, why would I cry?”

“Because when I tell other ponies about Ponyville, they always start crying,” Puppysmiles said sadly. “And they won’t tell me why!”

“Oh...” Sweetie sighed. “Well, that’s not very helpful.”

“Nope!” Puppysmiles agreed, stopping after a moment. “We’re here! Yay!”

Sweetie looked at the half-collapsed metal door that had sunk into the ground, creating a makeshift ramp. The right side of the rusty metal read: “S.T.A.B.L.E.” The left, collapsed side was so deteriorated that whatever had been written on it was utterly illegible.

“Are you sure this is the place, Puppy?” Sweetie asked dubiously.

“Yush!” Puppysmiles giggled. “Miss Sweeney Belt, are you scared?”

Sweetie raised an eyebrow. “Of course not, I’m a Cutie Mark Crusader!”

“Wow! A Cootie Match Cruspader! That’s like the awesomest thing ever!” Puppysmiles gasped. “Can Puppy be a Cootie Match Cruspader? Pleeease?”

“It’s ‘Cutie Mark Crusader’,” Sweetie corrected.

“Yeah, that thing too! Can I be one?”

“Sure,” Sweetie said, sighing. “Why not?”

“Yay! I’m a Cruspader!” Puppy shouted, jumping around Sweetie Belle, who couldn’t help but smile.

“Right, and the first thing we should do is get inside and find somewhere to rest!”

“Aw…” Puppysmiles pouted. “But the only things in ugly places like that are ugly ponies and bullybots!”

“Well, it can’t be worse than staying out here…” Sweetie said, glancing at the overcast sky. “Don’t the pegasi here ever cleanup? Look at that!”

“Nuh, uh…” Puppy said. “Peggysuseseses don’t hang around anymore…”

“Peg... okay,” Sweetie breathed in, trying to bolster her courage. “This is just one stop. I just need to find the crystal and see if I can help Puppysmiles find her mom. Easy.”

The pair carefully crept through the gap left by the collapsed side of the door and into the S.T.A.B.L.E.


“She comes! She comes to destroy us all! I have seen it!A voice rose hoarsely, echoing through the metal halls of the S.T.A.B.L.E.. “We must protect the Goddess! We are the chosen!”

Whispers became a buzz as dozens of voices whispered worriedly to each other.


Immediately all the voices quieted down. “THIS DESTROYER YOU SPEAK OF, PROPHET... WHEN SHE ARRIVES, BRING HER HERE.”

“But, your majesty!”


“As you wish…”


“Zecora, I need your help,” Rarity said, sitting across from her friend. “Ever since… the accident, I-… I haven’t been myself, but there have been times that… I’ve felt, that somehow, Sweetie was there, watching me.” She looked at Zecora in the eye. “I don’t know why, but… I think she’s alive.”


“The knowledge you seek to gain,” Zecora began after a moment of thought, “is not easy to obtain.” She stood up and walked to pick up several vials and containers.

“Um… h-how difficult is it?” Fluttershy asked. “Is she going to be in danger?”

“Her body shall be fine,” Zecora assured the pair, setting everything up in front of them. “What is feared is laying her soul on the line.”

“What do you mean?” Rarity asked. “Why would I have to fear for it?”

“I do not know what you’re likely to find; it could mend your heart or destroy your mind.” Zecora said, giving Rarity a look of grave seriousness.

“What do you mean, Zecora?” Fluttershy asked.

Rarity sighed. “You’re saying I could find out that Sweetie is dead…”

That is most minor of what I dread,” Zecora whispered.

“I- I’m not sure this is a good idea, Rarity,” Fluttershy said, looking decidedly uncomfortable with the way things were going. “M-maybe we could write a letter to the Princesses or-”

“No,” Rarity interrupted, her eyes begging. “Please, Fluttershy, Zecora… I need to do this. If Sweetie is truly gone, then I think it will help me find closure.”

“But if she’s not, you might not be able to do anything for her,” Zecora’s voice took a melancholy turn.

Rarity closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “For the last three months, I have felt that there was no reason to continue living. Life feels worthless without my dear Sweetie Belle…”  Rarity opened her eyes and looked at her friends, imploring them to understand. “When our parents died, I took it upon myself to take care of her. I fought hoof and tooth to make a decent income so that Sweetie would have an education and a certain quality of life.” Rarity sighed. “She and my career became everything to me. Until Twilight Sparkle came and I gained true friends, I could barely relax. I’m glad to have all of you.” She smiled hesitantly. “Even with you all still here, though, I feel… dead. But when I feel at my worst... when I am about to give up hope forever... I feel her. I feel Sweetie… and just earlier, I heard her call to me.”

Fluttershy looked down at the tabletop quietly, eyes slightly misty. Without further ado, Zecora started heating up some water while she measured powders and chanted incantations over strange-looking ingredients. The two ponies watched her work in silence, neither wanting to either distract her or bring back the taxing conversation.

The cauldron boiled. Powders were dumped and sprinkled and blown into it; bigger ingredients like a feather and a curiously large bone were used to mix the brew, while others were submerged carefully with a slotted spoon, which would come up empty each time.

Finally, Zecora produced a strange cup made of some bone-like material that curved into a tip at the bottom. Its top was rimmed with gold and a few gems. Rarity gasped, both at the simple, yet exquisite look of it, and at the magic she could sense emanating from it.

“The horn of a rhino is a rare gift indeed,” Zecora whispered, carefully filling it with the potion she had prepared. “It must be used only in the direst of need.”

She presented the hollowed horn to Rarity, who took it in her telekinetic grasp. “What will this do?”

“If the link you feel is indeed Sweetie Belle, you’ll find out just where she fell,” Zecora rhymed.

“And… um… if it’s not?” Fluttershy asked.

Zecora remained quiet.

“M-maybe you should wait, Rari-“ Fluttershy stopped as she realized that it was too late, seeing Rarity lower the emptied container. “What now?”

Zecora shook her head, walking up beside Rarity. “Now we can only hope for the best. Lay down your head, it’s time to rest.”

Rarity nodded, taking a couple of steps towards the bed, then stopping. Her eyes went wide for a second before she screamed, twitching violently and would have fallen back had Zecora not caught her.


“What’s happening?!” Fluttershy asked, panicked, hurrying to restrain the thrashing unicorn.


Rarity groaned and suddenly went limp.

Fluttershy looked at her face and whimpered, only able to take a breath after seeing her friend was still alive. “Will she be okay?”

“For that, dear Fluttershy, we can only pray.”


“Well, at least we’ll have some protection from the elements here...” Sweetie Belle mused, looking around. She could see very little, and the deeper they went, the less the meager light from the outside could reach. With a sigh, Sweetie silently cast a light spell, allowing the pair to see better.

They were in a pony-made cavern of some sort. Further down, Sweetie could see a couple more doors that were in better condition than the ones outside. As they approached, she couldn’t help but notice just how thick they were.

“Puppy, what happened?” Sweetie looked from the doors to the small filly beside her. “Why did we have to build things like... this?”

Puppy looked at the doors and tilted her head. “Mom said we built them against the sea... uh... sea... brass?”

“Sea brass?” Sweetie blinked. “What is that?”

Stripey ponies!” Puppy exclaimed with a big smile.

“Zebras...” Sweetie rolled her eyes in exasperation. “But, why? I may only know Zecora, but she’s a good friend!”

Puppy shrugged, blinking at her. “I dunno... because of- of... the Princecessessess?”

Sweetie shook her head. “Never mind. How deep do you think we should go?”


“All the cool stuff is always inside!” Puppysmiles said, pleased that somepony was finally asking her advice. “And Mr. Voice says to go towards the doors! Let’s go in! Mom is in there!”

Sweetie observed the doors warily. “Are you sure?”

“Mr. Voice says so!”

Sweetie Belle slowly approached them. The machines attached to the door were much more advanced than anything she had seen so far besides Puppy’s suit. The burnt edges at both ends of the doors and and the permeating feeling of death didn’t help at all to put her at ease. She shook her head, trying to shove her dark thoughts into the back of her mind.

“I’m a Cutie Mark Crusader,” she whispered, steeling herself. “I’ve gone into the Everfree by myself, at night, knowing less magic than I do now! What am I afraid of?” Nodding once, Sweetie stepped in behind Puppysmiles. “Okay, let’s go!”

“Yay!” the filly cheered, jumping into the old S.T.A.B.L.E.


Rarity stared in horror at the place where she suddenly found herself standing. It was some sort of cave; the floor was covered with the bones of dead ponies. She could tell by the way they lay on the floor that they had been close together before they perished, perhaps even holding each other, desperately trying to find comfort against their impending doom.

She started hyperventilating, taking in her ghastly surroundings, noticing the deplorable state of the walls, which now she recognized as excavated, and the half-demolished doors at the end of the entrance hall.

“Wh-where am I?” she whispered. “How did I- Zecora...” She grimaced. “Perhaps I should have thought about it a bit before downing the whole thing.”

Her musings were interrupted by the sound of voices. Looking around quickly, she jumped behind the remains of old containers that had been piled to the side. Rarity carefully peeked around them as two figures made their way into the cave.

Her heart lurched as the taller one lit her horn.

“Sweetie Belle...” Rarity whispered in astonishment, stepping out from behind the crates. The filly... no, the young mare could be nopony other than her sister. She would know her Sweetie Belle anywhere... her little sister had grown into such a beautiful unicorn. But... how long has she been away? Is this the future then? Regardless of her thoughts, she couldn’t contain herself. “Sweetie Belle!” Rarity cried, unable to stop the tears from trailing freely down her cheeks.

She galloped up to her sister, ready to throw her hooves around the now-grown filly, but suddenly, she was stumbling through her objective and barely managed to stay on her hooves. Rarity turned sharply, staring wide-eyed at Sweetie and the little filly by her side. She slowly approached her sister. “What... but...” a pained look crossed her face as she stammered. “It’s... it’s not fair...” she whimpered, extending a hoof only to see it pass through Sweetie. “It’s- it’s not fair... I finally found you and–”

Rarity closed her eyes, slumping down onto her haunches, listening quietly as her younger sister gathered up the courage to go past the destroyed gates.

“I’m a Cutie Mark Crusader,” Sweetie said, and Rarity opened her eyes just as her sister took the first step towards the doors. “I’ve gone into the Everfree by myself, at night, knowing less magic than I do now! What am I afraid of?” Sweetie spoke louder, drawing courage from her words. “Okay, let’s go!”

“Can you really not see me?” Rarity whispered, suddenly feeling very, very lonely and small. “Am I even here, Sweetie?”

But Sweetie did not turn and answer. She resolutely stepped into the darkness, followed by the filly in the drab suit with the helmet, leaving Rarity on her own.

Rarity sniffed. Then she put her hoof down hard, feeling a sudden rush of determination she had not felt since the accident. A burning, white-hot sensation that she thought had been all but lost in her pitiful self-loathing. She pushed herself up, and rolled her shoulders back as she looked up, unknowingly imitating Sweetie’s earlier pose.

“Well, I’m not staying here, moping while you face danger!” She trotted up to the gates and pushed a hoof through the metal, leaving no mark and feeling nothing. A grim smile formed in her lips. “I’ll go with you, Sweetie... and I’ll watch over you... even if you cannot see me... at least I know you’re alive.”

With a single nod, she set out after Sweetie Belle.


Once they had gotten past the entrance, the place itself wasn't so bad. The walls, though still damaged and requiring some serious maintenance, were not in such a bad condition after all, all things considered. The floors might’ve been missing a few panels, but, again, they were walkable.

“So... what is the purpose of this place, Puppy?” Sweetie asked.

Puppysmiles scrunched up her face in determination, trying to recall the answer she had once known. “Um... I think mommy called it Staples! She said they have everything at Staples! And I was going to be in one with mommy!”

“A... staple?” Sweetie blinked and shrugged. “Well, this is certainly different than all the other places I've been to...” She stopped and looked at one of the walls which had a big sign that read “S.T.A.B.L.E.,” whatever had been written after it having been lost due to a panel having been removed, revealing the cables behind it. “Staples... S.T.A.B.L.E.S... I get it...” She sighed. “I just wish I knew what happened to Equestria!”

“How can you not know?” a new voice, young and male, asked.

Sweetie Belle stopped short and lowered her head down a bit, her horn glowing brighter as the room lit up with the increased energy of her spell. Wherever there were shadows, she could barely see somepony. “Who are you?”

The ponies that walked into the light were all in various stages of decomposition. Half-melted flesh hung loosely, their faces scarred and cauterized into painful rictus of unholy suffering. And yet, their expressions moved and changed as a normal pony would, showing emotions even with those cloudy, dead eyes.

Sweetie's eyes went wide and she took a step back in horror, her spell flickering.

“Hello, ugly ponies!” Puppysmiles greeted them cheerfully, running up to them and waving a little hoof. “Is it okay if we stay a little while? Miss Sweaty Belts needs to sleep and she promised to sing me another song if we found a nice place! And Mr. Voice says mommy is here, and I really, really want to see and please please please don't be a bully!”

The ugly ponies looked at each other, then back at Puppysmiles before looking up at Sweetie Belle.

Sweetie forced a smile. These ponies reminded her of yet another of Scootaloo’s comics about Zombies.

“We... were sent to guide you into the Sanctuary...” the foremost undead pony said. Her coat remained largely in the form of cream-colored rags that stuck to areas of her body. “The Goddess and her prophet await.”

Puppysmiles beamed at Sweetie. “See! I told you I could find an nice place! Can I get songs now? Can I?”

Sweetie grimaced, then sighed in defeat. “Sure, why not? Tell me, do you all like country music? I know this song that Applejack taught me not too long ago...”

For her part, struggling with the fact that she was unable to communicate or interact in any way with Sweetie Belle, Rarity didn't know what to feel more mortified about... the fact that they were following a bunch of walking, dead and decomposing ponies, the fact that Sweetie was taking this in far too quickly, or the fact that her little sister was about to sing country.

Finally, she settled her mind as she fell into place next to Sweetie and Puppysmiles, doing her best to avoid touching the ghouls. “Applejack, I am going to kill you...”


The Goddess arched an eyebrow as all the ghouls around her turned toward the dark hall that was the entrance to the Sanctuary.

She could hear something she had never expected to hear again. Not like this. Not so... innocent... The Goddess felt a small tear form in the corner of her eye and quickly wiped it away, thankful that everypony's attention was focused on the hall.

So rock me mamma like a wagon wheel, rock me mamma anyway you feel... hey, mamma rock me...”

The fact that several voices were chorusing the song wasn't lost on her. She even recognized some of them. Who could get a bunch of fanatical, depressed ghouls to suddenly start singing country music? And why did that voice sound so familiar?

When the group came into view, the Goddess felt a pang deep in her chest that resonated through the shared minds of Unity, drawing Her attention. For a moment, there was not one of the myriad minds that were part of her who didn't stop and space out, even for just one second.

“Sweetie Belle...” The Goddess whispered into the sudden silence in the room.

Sweetie, for her part, stared at what was in front of her. “You're an... an alicorn?!”



Sweetie's eyes widened, and the ghostly Rarity next to her tilted her head. That voice sounded familiar.

“TRIXIE!” Sweetie shouted in excitement, galloping up and throwing her forelegs around the alicorn's neck. “Trixie! You're here!” She frowned. “And why are you using the Royal Canterlot Voice?”

“What? Since when are Trixie and Sweetie friends?” Rarity whispered, staring incredulously at the scene in front of her.

“Remove her from the Goddess!” the prophet shouted frantically, his hoarse voice driving the paralyzed ghouls from their stupor. They quickly pulled her away from the blue alicorn in front of her, pushing her back to stand a few feet away, surrounded by suddenly angry ghouls.

The Goddess trembled, her façade broken by the sudden outburst from Sweetie Belle. She was confused and even a little scared. Never had anypony been so... happy... to see her.

“Hello, flying-unicorn lady!” Puppysmiles exclaimed, making the Goddess’ eyes slowly move down to stare at the little filly in the radsuit. She blinked. She had heard stories but...

“YOU ARE... THE GHOST OF THE 52...” the Goddess said, frowning a bit. “THE GODDESS HAS HEARD OF YOU.” Her eyes strayed up to the young mare further down. “AND... SWEETIE BELLE?”

The Goddess suddenly remembered the ghouls and she quickly gathered herself and projected confidence once more. She needed the ghouls, for now. “THE GODDESS KNEW YOU WERE COMING!” she declared with utmost confidence.

“Wow!” Puppysmiles' eyes went wide. “Are you really a prinsuss? Because mommy always said that all flying unicorns were princesses! And if you're a flying unicorn, then you must be a princess! Can I has your auto- your... sig- your name on a piece of paper?” Puppysmiles gushed. “When I grow up, I want to be a princess! Paper!”

Sweetie stared as a piece of paper flew out of nowhere and hovered in front of Puppysmiles, who smiled sweetly at the Trixie-alicorn.

“TH–” Trixie stammered. “THE GODDESS WILL BLESS YOU WITH HER AUTOGRAPH!” she said at length. Her horn flashed and a stylized 'The Goddess Blesses your tiny, undead heart' message was burnt into the piece of paper.

“Yay!” Puppysmiles cheered, trotting up to Sweetie Belle to show her her latest treasure. “Look! I have the name of a princess! Now we can marry!”

“Sure- wait, what?” Sweetie looked down at Puppysmiles and groaned before patting the helmet softly. “We'll have to wait for that, Puppy,” she said, eliciting some chuckles from the gathered ghouls.

“THE GODDESS DEMANDS TO KNOW HOW YOU CAME TO BE HERE!” the alicorn demanded, drawing everypony’s attention back to her.

“We... we'd like a safe place to stay the night,” Sweetie requested after a moment's hesitation. “And... I'd like to talk to you in private,Trixie, if possible.”


The Goddess vacated the alicorn’s body, leaving a personality behind. “Follow me,” the alicorn ordered, eliciting a shocked look from Sweetie Belle and a big grin from Puppysmiles.


Puppysmiles frowned, looking around the S.T.A.B.L.E. They had passed several super-interesting-looking doors that could be hiding her mom!

She stole a glance at the pretty princess and Sweaty Belt. They were talking about adult stuff that was boring. Why couldn’t they sing?

Puppysmiles grinned. She remembered that one time mommy had taken her to the STAPLE to take a look inside and they had music all over the place! She had heard the same song in every room!

“Mr. Voice? How do I make it so we can hear music all over?”

“Processing. Speaker system is located inside Overmare’s office. Acquiring S.T.A.B.L.E. blueprint. Overmare office is located in sub-level 5.” A little flashing arrow appeared before her eyes and Puppysmiles nodded happily, turning left and letting the others go on ahead.


“You’re not Trixie, are you?”

The alicorn shook her head. “No, I am not. I am merely a part of the Goddess. You may call me Midnight Shimmer, for as long as I exist.”

“What is the Goddess?” Sweetie Belle asked after a moment. “One moment I’m talking to Trixie and the next I’m talking with you.”

Midnight Shimmer sighed and looked around before casting a small sphere of magic around them. “I am only telling you this because the Goddess was planning on addressing this question if it emerged. We are a gestalt being; there are thousands of us that are part of what the Goddess is. I am allowed a bit of independence because the Goddess is currently preoccupied with one, or should I say two, mares.”

Sweetie’s eyes were wide. “Wow, the magical energies required to do that... it’s... it’s almost unthinkable! How did you do it? Was it Trixie’s idea? I imagine you would need to somehow strip the essence of a pony while adding the innate magic of a unicorn, earth pony and pegasus to it...” She grimaced. “Come to think about... wouldn’t that erase the pony’s personality? Is that why you said you were only here temporarily? Why would you want to absorb everypony into one collective mind? Is it more efficient? But again, what happens to personality and choice? Can Trixie simply override you all?”

“From the Goddess’ memories of you, it is certainly strange to listen to you talk about magical theory like this,” Midnight Shimmer replied, “but yes. The Goddess can simply speak through us whenever she wants to.”

Sweetie nodded. “Midnight Shimmer... what happened to Equestria?”

The alicorn stopped and turned to stare at Sweetie Belle. “You- you don’t remember?”

Sweetie Belle looked away. “Is Trixie listening?”

Midnight Shimmer nodded. “She’s still busy with the Stabl- with another pony, but yes, she’s listening.”

“This is not my world,” Sweetie explained. “I just arrived, so I have no idea of what happened.The last few worlds have not been... this bad.”

Midnight Shimmer had stopped mid-stride. “Other... worlds? You mean there’s another Equestria out there that wasn’t destroyed by Megaspells?”

“Megaspells?” Sweetie asked. Just hearing the word brought chills of discomfort and trepidation through her body.

Midnight Shimmer nodded. “The Megaspells were constructs of powerful magic, capable of affecting huge areas for ill or good. The Zebras developed megaspells that could destroy an entire city with one blast.”

Sweetie’s eyes widened. “That- why would they do that?!”

“War,” Midnight Shimmer shrugged. “It is how ponies, zebras, griffons and dragons destroyed our world.”

Sweetie looked down. “I’ve... never even seen war. And I’ve been to several different worlds. I never thought... it could ever come to this.”

“You have been to more than one world then?” Shimmer asked.

Sweetie nodded. “Several... there’s the one where Trixie and Twilight are a couple, then the one where everypony’s gender is inverted, then there’s the one where Nightmare Moon won... one where all the Elements are immortal...”

“Wait... Trixie and Twilight Sparkle are a couple?” Midnight Shimmer interrupted. She could feel the reaction to that jumping from alicorn to alicorn. Some of them stopping mid-battle to laugh and one of them dying as a result when she snorted and her shield failed while trying to fend off a hellhound.

Trixie took control of Midnight Shimmer’s body again and glared at Sweetie. “THE GODDESS IS NOT PLEASED THAT YOU SHARED THAT.”

Sweetie Belle cringed. “Sorry, Trixie... say... you wouldn’t know what happened to Twilight Sparkle, would you?”

There was a moment of awkward silence.

“THE GODDESS... MIGHT ALSO BE TWILIGHT,” Trixie grudgingly confessed.

Sweetie Belle’s eyes grew large. “But... how? Why? Trixie... what happened to you?”

Midnight Shimmer felt the Goddess struggle. There was something about this Sweetie Belle that was creating too many conflicting feelings. Perhaps it was that she wasn’t even from this world. Or perhaps it was the collective memories of all the ponies that had memories of Sweetie Belle that still inhabited the collective conscience of the Goddess.

Maybe... maybe it was just the fact that this young mare cared, and she knew it was Trixie and apparently knew her pretty well in other worlds.

“THE GODDESS... NEEDS TO SIT DOWN,” the Goddess sighed, motioning with her head to the entrance to her private chambers.


In the silence of his sanctuary, the prophet mumbled as his hooves scraped against the wall, tracing words and fragments of sentences and nonsensical drawings.

Eruth... Eruth, you didn’t do anything... you should have stopped her then and there.

“She came in peace! She came in peace, I heard her. The purity of her song. It was music. It was beautiful. She came to us with beauty. She is what we don’t have. What we haven’t had in centuries!”

She’s here to destroy you. You cannot allow melancholy to stop you.

“Beauty should not destroy. Not destroy. No. She wouldn’t. She sings of happy times. Of love and happiness, and the innocence she carries with her.”

She wants to destroy all that you have worked for.

“She can’t! No, no, she can’t! She is wrong if she thinks she can! But she’s not here for long. No, not for long.”

She wants to take your Goddess away from you. She’s doing it right now, talking to her in secret.

“Speaking to the Goddess is a privilege. Yes, yes, but the Goddess granted it. She didn’t force her, no, no she did not do that. She cannot take the Goddess away! She can’t! No, it won’t happen because the Goddess is happy with us. Sweetie makes her happy.”

She’s evil. She needs to be stopped.

“She sings songs and happiness! She looks with the eyes of a child!”

You know it to be true. I have told you all along this would happen. That she would come.

Eruth shuffled in place, giving a jerky look over his shoulder. “You did, yes, yes you did.”

I foresaw what happened in this world, didn’t I? I saw the stars cry and the melody disrupted. I talked to you. I told you and you didn’t listen.

“Yes, the melody... you told me it was gone. That it would not come back. That it was twisted by ponies and evil and zebras... yes, you said so.”

You started believing after that... when I helped you calm and organize all those others who had lost their way.

“My brothers and sisters,” Eruth hesitated.

You never doubted me when I told you your brothers and sisters would be rewarded.

“No! There was truth in your words! The rewards came! They came! We survived while others fell! We will live forever! The rewards, yes... you promised and they were there.”

You have to stop her, Eruth. You have to take your Goddess away from her, before she brings doom to this world again.

“Doom. No doom. Not more doom. There is p-plenty of doom. No more...” Eruth shook his head. He shivered as he forced himself to stand on his two hind legs and let both his front hooves trace the cracks in the wall. “That isn’t my name. No, no it isn’t.”

Of course it is, Eruth. You are no longer who you used to be. You died in flames and were reborn in toxic sludge. You wandered this place like a prisoner in a maze, without knowledge, without memories, without hope... until I talked to you again. And you listened.

“I listened...” Eruth paused, his body shaking. “I listened and things changed. But I am me. And Eruth is Eruth.”

You are not the same as before, Eruth. How many times will you lie to yourself?

“If Sweetie Belle can sing, then I can be... I can be who I was. Who was I?”

Look at her, Eruth. She is alive. How can she be alive? She is not like you. She is not like the others. She is not like the Goddess. How can she be here?

“I don’t know, no, I don’t, she cannot be here. She shouldn’t!”

Weren’t she and her friends responsible for what happened to this world?

“Yes! The Ministry! They built these mazes! They stuck us in here and left us to die!” Eruth lowered himself to all fours. “But they were not to blame! The zebras started this, yes, they did! They kept attacking! They would not stop because they- because they–”

You know it’s not true, Eruth. They could have stopped it. Should have stopped it. But they didn’t. They let the world be torn to pieces, scarred beyond help. This wasteland rests on her shoulders and those of the Ministry Mares. But they are gone. And they took with them all that was precious to you.

“So much... so much... I can’t remember! But I can feel... so much lost...” His frame shuddered. “How do you know? How can you be right? How do I know I am your prophet and what you say is true?”

Because you believe me, Eruth. You know it’s true.

“Yes... I know... you speak to me and you say truth. Only truth.”

You have to get rid of them.

The ghoul raised his head slowly, still staring at the cracks in the wall, where the shade seemed so dark and so empty. Where he could imagine green eyes shining as their owner spoke. “Sweetie Belle and the ghost yes.... but... The Goddess?”

Yes... her too. She has been corrupted by this Sweetie Belle. She is no longer your Goddess. She hungers to be away from all of you. She hungers for the skies and other worlds.

“N-no! She’s our Goddess! Here to rule over us!”

But she’s not, Eruth. If she were your Goddess, she would not want to leave. She would stay.

“The Goddess wants to be with us! I know it! I will tell her, I will show her the true face of the enemy!”

So be it, Eruth. But mark my words. If the Goddess doesn’t allow you to bring justice to Sweetie Belle, what will you do?

“She won’t! She’s the Goddess! My Goddess!”

She will have betrayed you, Eruth. What will you do?

“The Goddess won’t leave. The Goddess will see–”

What will you do?

“I- I don’t know... I don’t know. No. No, I don’t know...”

When you see that I am right, call upon me.


Puppysmiles trotted down the dark hallway. Mr. Voice had been quiet for the last few minutes, but the blinking arrow indicated exactly where she had to go to reach the place where she could put the pretty music on and make everypony happy!

She gave the metal door at the end of the hallway a hard look. It remained impassive. Attached to the wall on the right was a panel, flickering with green light. Puppysmiles approached it.


“Pu~ppy~smiles!” Puppysmiles sing-sang, looking at the panel expectantly.


“Puppysmiles!” Puppysmiles repeated.








Puppysmiles frowned. “Stupid!” She bucked the door. “Open up!”


There was a puff of dust as the ancient door struggled to open, a little bit of smoke flowing from between the spaces as the right side slid open, slowly squeaking and grinding against the floor until it was halfway open, at which point something inside seemed to snap and the whole thing simply collapsed, leaving part of it jutting out of the wall.

Puppysmiles paid no attention to it, however, having already jumped into the room beyond. The office of Overmare Clueless was in pretty good shape, having escaped the ravages of time for the most part. One of the walls was covered in small notes on colored paper, ranging from red to green and blue, all with bold writing reminding the Overmare to do, or not do, something. One of the red ones read: “‘Open up’ is not a Celestia-damned password! Change it! ~O.W.”

A large metallic desk rested in the middle of the room, the stacks of yellowed paper resting on top of it held in place by a statuette of some sort. It looked a little bit like Sweaty Belle now that Puppysmiles thought about it, and so without further ado, she jumped onto the table and threw it into her bag.

“Bootleg Rarity Statuette” appeared briefly in her display before she looked around and noticed the desiccated body of an earth pony holding something against its chest.

“Hullo miss ugly sleepy pony! I can see what's that? 'kaythanks!” Puppysmiles picked up the small frame. She turned it around and stared at the scene. A mare with a light brown coat and bright green mane with alice-blue highlights was smiling a bit absentmindedly at the camera. She was holding a black and yellow book in her hooves, 'Writing for Cretins,” and standing next to an unamused stallion with a darker brown coat and violet and black mane. The book had their picture in roughly the same position under the title, but the author's name was too blurry to read.

Puppysmiles blinked, but threw the picture into her saddlebag as well. The rest of the office didn't contain anything interesting except for a big console with a holographic display of the S.T.A.B.L.E. Puppysmiles grinned and cantered up to the console, looking down at all the pretty buttons.

Now, which would start the music?


Golden Fig had been in charge of catering when the S.T.A.B.L.E. had originally been sealed. When radiation had seeped through and killed everypony he knew and loved, except for a few unlucky fellow ponies who had been transformed into ghouls, he had known despair like none other... but he had found solace by going back to gardening and growing foods that nopony would ever need to eat. Not that they would, or should, anyway, since every single apple or fig tree had been twisted and mutated by the same radiation that had granted him his unwanted immortality.

But the work had helped him endure through the years; the repetition of the task ensuring his mind focused on something other than despair. Eventually, he had grown a garden so beautiful and radioactive that the rest of the community of ghouls would go and spend hours, or even days enjoying it. It had brought considerable happiness to their otherwise drab and morbid unlives, because the only other thing they had were the ramblings of their prophet, and the living goddess amongst them.

Thus, today, now that they had visitors, Golden Fig had taken careful stock of the state of the garden and planned to give a tour of it to Miss Sweetie Belle, who was the best preserved ghoul he had ever seen. She was lucky... and apparently single!

Golden Fig grinned. His garden would win her heart, and she would choose to stay with them and sing them songs while they all worshiped the goddess!

A clanking sound made him frown. “What the–”

“DECONTAMINATION SEQUENCE INITIATED.” The disembodied voice of a computer announced.

Golden Fig's eyes went wide. “Wait... what?”


Several panels at the top of the considerably large agricultural section opened and blue-green rays swept over the whole of it. “WARNING: HIGH LEVELS OF RADIATION DETECTED. WARNING: PURGING WILL COMMENCE IN 10... 9... 8...”

“What?!” Golden Fig ran out of the area and into the agricultural office. He feverishly clicked at the console but nothing seemed to work: the order had come from a user of higher level.

The countdown reached zero.

From the farthest side of the agricultural chamber, a line of green descended from wall to wall, creating a light curtain that slowly started advancing towards his office. As the green light touched each of his trees, they would burst into flames, then into dust.

“No...” he whispered. “Noooooooooooo!” he then shouted in despair as two hundred years of effort and his dreams for a nice date went up in flames.

Golden Fig shook his head. Who could have done this?! Why?! His eyes, too dry and rotten to produce tears glanced at the screen. “Overmare Clueless?” he whispered. “But... you died.” He closed his eyes. And started laughing.


Puppysmiles shook her head in annoyance, lifting her hoof from the button she had pushed. “Which button plays the music?” she asked again, starting to slam the other buttons down, trying to figure it out.


Outside the S.T.A.B.L.E., a dark figure slowly approached. The manticore had caught the smell of the pony recently... and although there was another, unsettling smell with it, its hunger had demanded it should stalk its prey, follow the scent and hunt the pony down for food.

The manticore looked around, its eyes finally settling on the cave. A low growl rumbled out of its chest, half-pleased, half-annoyed. Annoyed because it would have to search a bit more. Pleased because its prey had nowhere else to go.

A small rumble shook the ground beneath it and the manticore paused, sniffing around, wary of any danger. It tensed as two holes opened to its left and right; strange metallic limbs sliding out and towering over it.

Perhaps it had not been a good idea to follow the pony.


“SURFACE SAMPLE COLLECTOR ACTIVATED,” the voice from the console announced, and a display fizzled into existence over it. A pair of holographic pincers appeared. A screen lit up, showing the exterior of the S.T.A.B.L.E., where a very confused Manticore shifted its eyes nervously from left to right, keeping an eye on the metallic claws that had appeared.

“Kitty!” Puppysmiles grinned. “I always wanted a kitty! I’ll cuddle it and feed it and cuddle it and help it sleep!”

The computer scanned the manticore and spoke up. “ORGANIC LIFE FORM DETECTED. DO YOU WISH TO ACQUIRE?” Two buttons started blinking. One, blinking green said: YES, the other, blinking red, said: NO.

“Mr. Voice? What does ackwire mean?”

“Acquire: to come into possession or ownership; to own.”

“I want to own the kitty!” Puppysmiles shouted in delight, slamming down her hoof on the 'YES' button repeatedly.

“ACQUIRING TARGET. ACQUIRING TARGET,” the computer said while Puppysmiles watched in fascination as the two holographic pincers moved, trying to corral the manticore.



The manticore jumped  the moment it heard the strange sound. It had heard Ponies produce sounds like that before; it usually meant a meal. But, somehow, this time it made it feel dread.

The two metal claws that had emerged from the ground suddenly shot towards it. With its innate agility, the manticore jumped to the side, tail lashing out and scratching the side of one of the claws, but they did not stop.

Recognizing that it was in danger of being killed by an obviously much larger predator, the manticore quickly made to escape. It opened its wings and leaned down to make a jump.


Just as it was about to make its flight for freedom, the side of the mountain shook as several panels opened, revealing miniature cannons, which immediately shot at the manticore.

The manticore was sent spinning as one of the sticky balls the cannons had fired hit it in the side. It struggled to get up, but more and more of the sticky balls smacked against it, not hurting it, but impeding its movements.

The last thing it heard before everything went dark was a disturbingly cheerful pony voice.

“Yay! I has the kitteh!”


Puppysmiles was all smiles as she watched the kitty being picked up by the metal claws and dropped down a shaft. She was about to see where it went when a screen suddenly came to life, displaying a frowning unicorn filly with a yellow coat, who blinked at Puppysmiles in obvious confusion. “Who the hell are you?!”

Puppy was about to introduce herself when the unicorn filly was shoved aside. There was a scuffle and the screen tilted. She couldn't see what was happening but there were bad words being shouted and suddenly the filly flew past the screen, enveloped in magic. Her place in front of the screen was replaced by a mare in armor.



Sweetie and Shimmer had walked for a few minutes more before they arrived at their destination.

Shimmer's room was very clean compared to the rest of the S.T.A.B.L.E. A large bed had been assembled together from old mattresses and was covered in several relatively intact sheets. Scented candles had been arranged about the room, most of them still unused. There were almost no actual decorations, save for a half-burnt canvas with a painting of a small, indistinct town bathed in sunlight.

Sweetie looked around the austere room before sitting down on a cushion that Shimmer had levitated off the bed and placed next to her guest.

“These are my chambers,” Shimmer said after a moment of staring at Sweetie Belle. “The Goddess is currently engaged in a discussion with... a certain pony. You will have to wait a little bit before talking to her.”

Sweetie nodded, gazing curiously at the alicorn sitting across from her. “So, how is it that sometimes Trixie speaks through you and sometimes it's you that speaks to me?”

Shimmer cocked her head. “The Goddess is all we are. I am but a vessel, granted a bit of autonomy for convenience. I have a personality for the same reason; if the Goddess gets tired of our followers, she needs some sort of... individual to deal with them while she is otherwise occupied. So she assigns a random personality to deal with them. Today it’s me.”

Sweetie Belle nodded, blinking a couple of times. “Um, I wanted to ask you... have you seen a purple crystal around here?”

Shimmer straightened up and frowned. “Why do you seek this crystal?”

“It’s a piece of my Twilight,” Sweetie Belle explained, looking straight at the floor, still ashamed about what had happened so many worlds ago. “I- I accidentally interfered with an important experiment and she was fragmented into several crystals and- I have to bring her back. She'll never be complete unless I do that.”

Shimmer was silent for a moment. “You say you're bringing her together? Has this gone on in different worlds?”

Sweetie nodded.

Shimmer blinked and spoke with Trixie's voice. “THE GODDESS WILL KNOW ABOUT OTHER WORLDS!”

Sweetie Belle started violently, clearly not expecting Trixie to suddenly take control. “Um, sure I just... wait...” She looked around, eyes wide. “Where's Puppysmiles?”


“Well,” Sweetie hesitated. “Which one do you want to know?” Her eyes lit up. “Hey, how about the one where you hooked up with Twilight?” Sweetie giggled. “It was weird at first but you made such a cute couple!”


“Aw...” Sweetie pouted. “Wait... if you and Twilight are together right now in there, does that mean that–”


There was a hard knock on the metal door of Shimmer's chambers and it opened before anypony could say anything. Outside, standing angrily, were a host of ghouls. The front one, a unicorn, was holding a grinning Puppysmiles upside down in his telekinetic grasp. “I think we found your friend,” he grumbled.

“Hullo, Miss Pretty Pony with no armor!” Puppysmiles said cheerfully. “I remember! Don't say anything about the notebook!” she announced.

“What?” Sweetie blinked. With an exasperated sigh, she grasped Puppysmiles in her own magic and turned around so that the little filly was in between her and Trixie.

“Fangmoon!” Puppy replied happily.

“Wait... Fangmoon? What–“ Sweetie's eyes widened. “Do you mean 'Moon Fang'?”


“Um...” Sweetie looked at Puppysmiles. “Uh, who told you about that?”

“The pretty pony with armor!” Puppysmiles replied.

“Uh, who's the pretty pony with armor?”

Puppy opened her mouth then tried to cover it with her hooves, which bumped on her helmet. She shook her head. “Nuh-uh! Not telling! Pretty Pony with Armor said that you wouldn't make the walls talk if I said anything!”

Sweetie Belle frowned. “Wait, make the walls talk?”

Puppysmiles nodded happily and Sweetie face-hoofed. “Puppy... I don't know how to tell you this but- I can't make the walls talk.”

Puppy showed Sweetie her tongue. “Not telling! The Pretty Pony with Armor told Puppy you would say that and said that if Puppy said anything you wouldn't turn off the lights!”

“Wait, what?” Sweetie shook her head. She needed to get a grasp on things before this fiasco of a conversation escalated any further. “Now, Puppy, you really need to tell me! It's important!”

“Nuh-huh!” Puppysmiles shook her head repeatedly. “Nuh-huh! If I say it then you won't make the bad pony dance!”

“I don't–”

“ENOUGH!” Trixie interrupted. “THE GODDESS IS NOT INTERESTED IN WHAT 'THE PRETTY PONY IN ARMOR' SAID! THE GODDESS DEMANDS TO KNOW EVERYTHING SO SHE CAN GO BACK TO NOT LISTENING CONSTANTLY TO THE ADORATION OF THE SMELLY GHOULS IN THI–” Trixie stopped her rant when Shimmer started sending warnings to her. Slowly, Trixie's eyes left Sweetie and Puppysmiles to center on the group of ghouls staring in shock at her, just outside her door. “OH, HORSEAPPLES.”

“So, what he said was true,” a pained voice said from within the group.

The ghouls parted to reveal the form of the prophet, who stood there, looking in sorrow at Shimmer. “You did plan on leaving us.”

His horn flashed and Shimmer was suddenly back in control of the body.

“I- um... I–”

“Silence!” the prophet ordered, his body shaking with anger. “I was warned about her!” he growled, pointing a hoof at Sweetie Belle, then his hoof swept to point at Shimmer. “I was warned about you! But I didn't listen! I chose to believe in you!” he roared. His horn lit up with a black aura. It grew and grew around him as the startled ghouls surrounding him gasped. “Dominus tenebris! Vagus silentium! Agnosco vestri quod smaragdus oculos, ego ero vobis anima ad offendum destruat nestros!” he shouted, raising his eyes upwards.

Shimmer's horn lit up, slamming the doors closed, while Sweetie Belle jumped back, taking hold of Puppysmiles as she cast a shield spell in front of all of them. The door disintegrated, along with part of the wall, revealing the prophet floating in a cloud of black energy. The ragged robes he had been wearing dissolved, his eyes shining with a disturbing green energy.

Around him, the whole area had been destroyed and all that remained of the ghouls that had been standing outside the room were ashes.

“I have been reborn,” the prophet whispered, glaring at Shimmer. “I am now... Eruth, in servitude of a far greater god than you!” His eyes went to a corner of the room. “This is not your world.”

Ghostly energy rushed from his horn, striking the seemingly empty corner. For a second a familiar silhouette was engulfed by it before fading, but Sweetie didn’t have time to react, having to jump out of the way of a small blast of energy from Eruth.

“Careful, Sweetie,” Shimmer advised. “This... Eruth... is far beyond your ability to handle.”

Several more ghouls approached the room, and Eruth turned to face them. “The goddess has betrayed us! She wishes to leave us to rot after promising us freedom and lives!” he announced. “Brothers! Sisters! We shall not bow to her anymore! I have seen the truth!” His hoof swept the room, indicating all within. “These three are our enemies! They will not let us ascend! We must destroy them!”

His words were emphasized by small flashes of dark power from his horn, which seemed to reflect in the eyes of the other ghouls.

“I don't like him,” Puppysmiles frowned suddenly, reminding Sweetie Belle that she had a filly to protect. Well, another filly besides herself. “He's a bad ugly pony! He hurt the other ugly ponies!”

“We have to escape,” Shimmer said. “We can't face them all at the same time.”

“What about Trixie?” Sweetie asked. “Doesn't she have any ideas?”

“I–” Shimmer whimpered. “I- I can't hear her!” She confessed, eyes wild. “I'm alone! It's like everything went dark! I don't know what to do!”

Sweetie grit her teeth. She pushed her anger into that deep corner of her soul where her doubts and hurt and guilt were trapped. “We need to get out!”

“If I knew how to turn invisible!” Shimmer whimpered. “Trixie knows the spell, but she didn't give it to me!”

“Invisible would be good,” Sweetie muttered, then her eyes widened. “Not invisible...” she stepped back as the ghouls roared in anger, their eyes glistening with green light, all semblance of consciousness and sanity having disappeared.

Not having time to explain, she grabbed Shimmer with one hoof, and Puppysmiles with another as her horn flashed with magic and the world became black.

“What?!” Eruth shouted. “Find them! Destroy them!”

Shimmer felt herself being led away in the darkness, the sounds of the ghouls destroying the S.T.A.B.L.E. and each other, as well as Eruth's growling orders, disorienting her. Eventually she was led from the dark, turning to stare at the inky-black they had left behind.

Puppysmiles giggled. “Yay! You turned off the lights!”


NO!” Rarity shouted, eyes wild as she struggled to get up, just barely noticing she had been tied down to the bed.

Something smashed against the wall opposite to her and several masks and vials crashed around it.

LET ME GO!” Rarity screamed, trying break her bindings by force alone.

Zecora was suddenly at her side, shushing her as she pushed Rarity back into the bed, gently but still with enough strength to keep the unicorn from pushing back.

The sight of her zebra friend seemed to snap Rarity back into reality. She slumped back into the soft bed; her body was shaking as she struggled to take a deep breath and let the adrenaline rush fade. “I- I'm back...” she whispered. “I'm sorry, Zecora, I just–”

No need to apologize,” Zecora soothed, raising a hoof. “I feared you would never rise.”

A clatter made the pair look at the pile of vials and masks, which started rolling aside as Fluttershy slowly stood up. “Oh, my,” she looked around. “I'm so sorry, Zecora, I just got startled and–”

She's alive...” Rarity interrupted, head resting on a pillow. “All grown up, adventuring and facing things we have never even imagined.”

The zebra and pegasus exchanged glances.

“You mean... Sweetie Belle?”

Rarity nodded, her face full of worry. “I found her in a desolate land. She went into some strange structure which was populated by ponies that–” She looked at her friends with a hint of fear. “They were dead. And yet they walked and talked and acted as if they were alive.”

Fluttershy covered her mouth with a hoof, eyes wide as she whimpered.

Zecora for her part frowned and shook her head slowly. “Most unpleasant must be this land, where the living dead still stand.”

It gets stranger still,” Rarity assured the pair. “Trixie was somehow turned into an alicorn and... there was talk of a great war...” she trailed off. “Sweetie and a little filly were talking to her when–” She turned fearfully to her friends. “One of them... one of the ghouls. It saw me! Nopony else could see me, but he did! He cast a spell and sent me back here.” She looked pleadingly at Zecora. “Please... let me go back.”

Zecora shook her head. “The brew is too potent I'm afraid; to drink again you must let the first one fade.”

Rarity's eyes watered. “But- but Sweetie, she's in danger!”

Fluttershy placed a comforting hoof on Rarity's shoulder. “She's alive. Please rest. She'll need you.”

Rarity sighed, staring at the roof. “How long?”

A fortnight at least,” Fluttershy replied for Zecora. “We- we talked about this... when you downed the whole potion... it was too much, Rarity. Y-you could have died.”

But I can't wait two whole weeks!” Rarity protested, feeling her eyelids become heavy. She yawned. “Please,” she begged weakly. “Please let me see her.”

Zecora shook her head. “What you must do now is rest. Let the potion go; it's for the best.”

Rarity yawned again. “N-no, I must... help...” she let out a long sigh and fell asleep.


Sweetie awoke with a start, confused for a moment, before she remembered that they had found their way deeper into the S.T.A.B.L.E..

I'm sorry,” Sweetie had gasped out, taking in deep gulps of air in an effort to regain her breath. “I can't- I- I need to rest, I haven't slept at all...”

It is dangerous...” Shimmer had muttered. “But I also must try to commune with the Goddess. We seem to have lost them for the time being. Let us hide away from them for a short reprieve.”

Shimmer was still meditating in a corner of the room they had hidden. Sweetie Belle watched in silence as Puppysmiles drew on a stack of papers with the crayons they had found amongst other toys; already the wall sported a small yellow sun, where a 'pretty prinsuss Celestia' and a 'pretty prinsuss Luna' and a 'pretty prinsuss Shimmer' flew over a small house, apparently constructed of red brick and blue tiles, where Sweetie and Puppy lived.

For a moment she was bitterly jealous of the little filly.

Here I am, she thought, universes away from home, with no way back and for all appearances never going back. I'm not even in my own body! She slammed her hoof down in frustration. I'm really just a little bit older than Puppysmiles! Well, a couple of years, but I'm still a filly, not an adult! I should be drawing pretty pictures and crusading! Not risking my life!

She could feel tears of frustration building up in her eyes.

What did I do to deserve this? She silently asked of the crayon-drawn Celestia, which was in the process of being made more pretty by the addition of brown crayon. She snorted and closed her eyes. I made a mistake! I didn't want to kill Twilight! I didn't want to be flung into other worlds! I didn't want to see my sister being immortal! Or Nightmare Moon on the throne! Or whatever the hay happened here! She felt her anger rising and gritted her teeth. Why do I have to put up with this? Why can't I just go home? Why– she felt a hoof gently touch her foreleg and she opened her eyes.

Puppysmiles looked up at her. “Are you okay, Sweaty Belt? Look! I made this for you!” the filly said proudly, presenting a paper to her where a bunch of brown smudges mixed with other colors made the vague shapes of ghoulish ponies. They all stood, presumably watching the white, blue and pink smudge that looked a bit like Sweetie Belle on a stage, where she seemed to be... exploding.

“Why am I exploding?” Sweetie sniffled.

“You're not exploding!” Puppysmiles pouted. “You're singing!”

“Ooooh! So that's what that is!” Sweetie chuckled.

“Do you likes it?” Puppy asked, her eyes big and hopeful. “I made it special for you! Because you are a pretty singer and I likes you! And look!” She pointed with a hoof at two other pony-like shapes. “That’s me! And mommy! We’re singing too!”

Sweetie smiled and hugged Puppysmiles. “Yes, I like it very much!”

“Yay!” Puppysmiles cheered. “Do I gets to see the bad pony dance?”

Sweetie laughed a bit, wiping away the remaining tears with the back of her hoof. “Maybe... I still have to figure out how to make the walls talk!”

“You don't have your cutie mark,” Shimmer interrupted, raising from her meditation and frowning. “We- I didn't notice. I wasn't paying attention to that.”

“Rub it in, why don't you?” Sweetie growled.

Shimmer frowned. “Why don't you have your cutie mark?” she asked. “At your age? Unless the world where you come from doesn't have cutie marks?”

“We do!” Sweetie huffed, then looked down. “It's... this is not my real body. I'm really just a filly.”

Shimmer's visage relaxed a bit. “I'm sorry... if- if it's any consolation, all alicorns know what it feels like to be in a body not their own.”

Sweetie was silent for a moment. “Were you able to talk to Trixie?”

Shimmer shook her head. “The moment Eruth became what he is now, my connection was interrupted.” She looked scared. “I don't know what to do!”

Sweetie took a deep breath. “We need to get out of the S.T.A.B.L.E.,” she said. “And we need to somehow stop Eruth. Do you have any spells we could use?”

Shimmer was silent. “I- I have one,” she looked away. “The Goddess... she was planning on using it if you refused to tell her about your world-jumping magic.”

Sweetie's eyes widened, and she felt something inside of her break, just a little. “Oh.” She looked away, her eyes showing the hurt. “I- I keep forgetting. Different worlds have different ponies... even if they look the same.”

“I'm sorry,” Shimmer whispered.

Sweetie nodded. “Why are you telling me?”

“Because,” Shimmer frowned. “It feels wrong. Even if I get punished, I don't want you to get hurt.”

Sweetie Belle smiled and placed a hoof on the alicorn's shoulder. “Thank you. It means alot that you want to help.” Her eyes glinted. “So, which spell is it?”

“Lightning bolt,” Shimmer said after a moment's hesitation. “If you had refused, she would have cast a low-powered one, hoped you survived and made you join us in Unity.”

Sweetie Belle shivered at the thought. “But- what makes you different? It doesn't make sense for you to feel guilty, you’ve only just met me!”

Shimmer nodded, not looking directly at Sweetie. “I don't know... but, you seem untouched by all that has happened. Innocent. You really are just a filly version of our Sweetie Belle. And...” She blushed a bit. “A lot of memories in the Goddess include you and your songs. You made a lot of ponies happy in this world before–” She caught herself. “I-in any case, let me teach you the spell.”

Sweetie Belle nodded, turning to look at Puppysmiles. “Sounds good, think you can hold... on... for... where's Puppysmiles?”


“Are we really going to, you know, attack the goddess, Sweetie Belle and that filly?” Pan asked his companion, pausing for a moment to push his ear back into place.

“Yes, the prophet said that they were evil, and he's been around since, like, ever. I trust him,” Cake replied, cracking his neck loudly. “Dammit! It never goes back in place.”

“Here,” Pan offered, putting down his revolver and forcing his friend's neck back into its proper position. “We told you to stop cracking your neck! One day you'll lose a disk or something. What’ll you do then?”

“Could be worse,” Cake replied. “Did you see what happened to Golden Fig's crops? He spent the last 200 years working on them and now they’re just gone!”

“I heard he's taken up a shotgun and has been shooting everypony he sees,” Pan said. “They say he hasn't stopped laughing since.”

Cake shook his head. “It's not that bad.” He sighed. "I woulda gone nuts if somepony had torched all my hard work too. I'd like to meet the pony or ghoul responsible and give them a piece of my mind.”

Puppysmiles cantered past the arguing ghouls, stopping to wave at them merrily. “Hullo ugly ponies!”

The ghouls stopped for a moment, then waved back at the surprisingly cheerful filly.

“How do I gets to the room with the big chair?”

One of them helpfully pointed to the doorway on the right, earning a big smile from Puppysmiles.

“Okaythanksbye!” she called cheerfully over her shoulder as she went in.

“What a nice little filly,” Cake noted.

“Yeah, but she didn't need to say we were ugly,” Pan muttered.

“Aw, don't take it personally, Pan,” Cake patted his friend's shoulder, producing a series of squelchy noises. “She's just a filly. She doesn't know any better.”

“I know.” Pan sighed. “Anyway, we should keep searching.”

“Right,” Cake nodded, picking up his gun with his mouth. The pair took a few steps onward, but both ghouls slowed down at the same time before stopping altogether, looking at each other with completely perplexed expressions.

The pair turned around and galloped towards where they had last seen the filly, but she was gone.

“Uh... how are we explaining this to the others?” Cake asked after a moment.

Pan cleared his throat. “Um, explain what? I didn't see anypony pass by.”

Cake blinked slowly. “Yeeeah. I didn't see a fil–”

“Anypony,” Pan corrected.

“...anypony,” Cake acknowledged. “I didn't see anypony pass us by. Nope. Not at all.”

“Exactly,” Pan nodded. “Now, let's go find those evil ponies.”

“Yes, let's.”


Sweetie Belle carefully peeked her head around the corner. “Looks empty.”

Shimmer shook her head. “I have no idea how that little filly just keeps walking away without us noticing.”

Sweetie winced at the notion. “Maybe... are we just boring?”

When Shimmer raised an eyebrow, Sweetie elaborated. “It's just that I’ve done the same thing back in my own world, when my sis and the others started talking about boring stuff.”

Shimmer shrugged as she cantered past Sweetie. “I think she just doesn't have a sense of self-preservation.”

Sweetie thought back to when she had first met Puppysmiles. “Yeah, that too.”

The pair slowly made their way down the halls. So far they had been able to avoid the roaming ghouls that were looking for them, but it was only a matter of time before they had to confront them.

“What did Eruth do to you?” Sweetie asked. “How could he have cut you off from Trixie?”

Shimmer shrugged. “I'm not completely cut off...” she said. “I can still feel the goddess in the back of my mind, but... she's just like a presence. I cannot hear Unity.” Shimmer shuddered. “I can't imagine what I would do if I wasn’t able to feel her at all... to be completely alone... what a horrible fate.”

“Are you the first one to have this happen?”

Shimmer grimaced. “No. But... Lacunae is a special case.” She stopped walking, looking worried. “What if... what if I cannot return to Unity?” she asked, her voice trembling. “What if I am cut off like this forever? Knowing Unity is there but unable to reach it?”

Really? She’s having a panic attack just now?!

“Listen, we don't know what will happen yet, right?” Sweetie ventured. “I'm sure that if it's Eruth doing this, then, once we stop him, you'll be back in Unity.”

Shimmer took a deep breath. “There’ll be plenty of time for this later!” she declared excitedly, voice tinged with more than a touch of hysteria.

It was then that two ghouls, one carrying a revolver, the other a vulcan minigun strapped to its back, walked out of a room and into the hall. The four ponies stared at each other for a second.

“Can we panic now?” Sweetie asked.

As if snapped out of their reverie by the statement, Shimmer quickly slammed both ghouls against the wall with telekinesis before they could even think of opening fire. “Sweetie! Take the guns!”

Sweetie blinked. Then used her magic to rip the contraptions away from the ghouls. She looked at them curiously as Shimmer threw both ghouls into a room and forced the door closed. “There, they're not bad ponies, I don't want to have to k- SWEETIE! POINT THAT THING THE OTHER WAY!” she shouted in a panic when she saw what Sweetie was doing, forcefully yanking away the gun from Sweetie’s grasp. “Don't ever, EVER, look down the barrel of a gun! Are you crazy!?”


“No 'buts', young lady!” Shimmer growled. “If you had accidentally pressed the trigger, you would have blown your brains out!”

Sweetie looked at the 'guns' in horror. “What the hay are these things doing here then!? Why would ponies be carrying things  around that can kill so easily?”

Shimmer sighed. “There was a war, Sweetie, remember?”

Sweetie frowned and looked down. “It's still stupid.”

“Yes,” Shimmer agreed, “it is, but it happened and there's no point in thinking about that right now. We need to find Puppysmiles.” She raised her hoof when she saw Sweetie was about to put the guns down. “No... keep them.”

“No! These things hurt ponies!”

“They do,” Shimmer nodded. “But ghouls are really difficult to hurt and they will be less likely to attack us if we have them,” she said. “Besides, I didn't get a chance to teach you the spell, so at least take them for effect.”

“So...” Sweetie took a deep breath. “It's just for scaring them, then?”

“Yes,” Shimmer nodded.

Sweetie sighed. “Fine. Let's go.”

“Okay, let me tell you how they work and how to hold them so that you don't kill us, or them, by accident...” Shimmer said as they started walking again.

“I don't like this world,” Sweetie muttered bitterly, feeling ill as she realized that these were not unique.

How many ponies have died in this stupid world ? She felt her eyes watering up, just the very thought of a dead pony chilling her to the bone. When I saw the outside... I never imagined it had really been done by us. What did we turn into here? How come the Princesses didn't stop this? Was... was I also a killer? She looked up at Shimmer, half listening to what the alicorn was saying. I hope not. I hope I tried to help without killing. I hope I was with my friends and family.

Sweetie sighed. I wonder how I died... Rarity, Sweetie thought. I miss you.


Puppysmiles skipped around the S.T.A.B.L.E., looking around as she tried to remember where the exit was. It had been fun, but Mom was waiting and she really needed to go find her. All the stuff that Sweetie and the pretty princess had talked about had made Puppy a bit sad.

She didn't like being sad.

And the best way to not be sad was to be with Mom! So even if it was fun, she needed to go.

“Puppy!” she heard somepony call her.

“Sweetie Belt! Pretty prinsuss!” Puppy called back, waving her hoof merrily. “I'm off to find mommy!”

“Your mommy?” Shimmer asked, slowing down. “But- wasn't your mom around before the war?”

“Yup!” Puppysmiles nodded, hopping around the pair merrily. “And she had to go! But I wanted to see the fireworks so I didn't got to the supersafe place and now my house is all broken and I'm looking for mom so I can tell her it wasn't my fault and everything will be alright!”

“Before... the war?” Sweetie repeated, blinking slowly. “But that was–”

“Yus! It's over so mommy should be waiting for me now!”

Midnight Shimmer shook her head. “But, Puppy, you have to know that that's–”

Puppy blinked when the pretty princess closed her mouth and looked around worriedly.

“What is it?” Sweetie asked.

“Don't you hear them?” Shimmer whispered, pushing both Sweetie and Puppysmiles against the wall. “There's a group of ghouls coming this way.”

Sweetie could hear them now. “What do we do?”