A Chill in the Air

by Eyeswirl the Weirded

Chapter 1: Staying Warm

Snow was nice.

Cold, certainly, but nice! The frigid weather could even be fatal if one wasn't sufficiently prepared, but Sunset Shimmer was adequately bundled up for a walk in the park during a light flurry. Icicles hanging off the trees, white powder gently settling on just about everything else, it was all so pretty she wished she could remember how that one song about traversing snowy areas went.

Christmas had come and gone, Sunset, her friends, and quite a few family members having gathered that day at Sweet Apple Acres following the Anon-a-Miss incident. Her friends believing it was her that spread everyone's secrets around had been painful, but when everything was cleared up, any hurt feelings just kindof... faded. For her, at least. A memory that hadn't faded, however, was that of the three she spotted sitting on a park bench.

Having never even heard one of their names, she'd had to look them up in the school registration systems after hours (it doesn't count as being up to something if you're just curious, right?) to be sure, but it looked like Aria Blaze, Sonata Dusk, and their leader, Adagio Dazzle. Apparently, they spent the five and a half months between the Fall Formal and the day she gave them a tour getting paperwork together. Not having seen much of them since the Battle of the Bands, she'd wondered what they'd been up to.

"Uhh, hi!" The three of them were staring at the sky, their expressions nearly lifeless, none saying a word. Sunset was reasonably sure they hadn't frozen, as all of them were bundled up like she was. "Hello?"

"Arrow," Aria mumbled, none of them looking down from the sky.

Adagio seemed to scrutinize something. "More like a spear, maybe?"

"I don't get why we do this," Sonata huffed, "They all look like Dagi's hair!"

Aria snickered, Adagio smiled wryly. "Do you have any better idea-" Looking away from the clouds they'd been making out pictures in, all three jumped with a start when they saw Sunset, who glanced about awkwardly.

She tried again, hoping her smile didn't look as forced at it felt. "Hi! What're you guys doing here?"

They stared back at her, Aria and Sonata turning to look at Adagio, who returned her gaze to the sky. "I think that one's a tire."

Aria joined in. "Or a wheel?"

Sonata squinted at the cloud in question. "What's the difference?"

"Tires have a thick layer of synthetic blubber," Adagio clarified, "though I think bicycle wheels are-"

Sunset sighed. "Look, I get that you probably don't want to talk to me, but I wanted to see how you guys were holding up since-"

"We're fine," Adagio said tersely, crossing her arms.

"What are you doing out here?"

Aria joined in crossing her arms. "What are you doing out here?"

Exchanging information. Progress! "I was just out for a walk."

It was hard to tell if Sonata was genuinely feeling standoffish, or if she crossed her arms because her friends did. "We're just out walking too." As the three of them were seated, quiet stares were exchanged before she continued. "I mean, we walked to get here, and when we leave we'll be walking again, so-"

"Go back to sleep, Sonata."

"While your interest is appreciated, Sunset Shimmer," Adagio said, starting to smirk, "shouldn't you be more worried about yourself? It wasn't us that was recently thought to have sowed chaos via MyStable."

Sunset frowned. "You heard about that?"

She chuckled. "Word gets around, of course." The faint air of superiority slipped away as her expression became a scowl. "Not that I'm the least bit annoyed about all that negative energy going around when we can no longer absorb it."

"For realzies?" Sonata still hadn't learned how to decipher sarcasm. "Didn't you punch a hole right through-"

She was silenced by a dark expression from their leader, Sunset reminding herself that they were harmless now. Though she would have liked to know what it was that now had a hole punched through it.

"Although," Adagio went on, turning to face Sunset with an inquisitive look, "that little episode does raise a question, if you'd indulge us."

"Uh, sure! What is it?"

Sonata scooted aside, making room on the bench between her and Adagio. In response to the three vaguely expectant looks, Sunset took a seat.

"Stop me if I'm mistaken. Photographs and a few embarrassing secrets are spread around a social network. Those frequenting said network harass the subjects of the leaked images and information. Everyone descends into bickering and quarrels when they're the subject of scrutiny."

Sunset nodded slowly, not sure where she was going with this.

"I see. All it took to wreak havoc on your school-wide circle of 'friendship' was a little openness? Trivial details of each others' lives spread for all to see?"

"W-well, it might sound that way, but-"

"But nothing," Aria interrupted, "the people in this realm are just as willing to fight as the ones in Equestria, even when we don't lift a finger."

"Sometimes, I guess, but-"

"Sometimes?" Sonata almost sounded angry. "They argue more than we do!"

"And that's a frightening thought," sighed Adagio, "so I suppose what I mean to ask is, if you know first-hand just how little it takes for everyone to hate each other, why would you stay close to those people? To the schizophrenic, self-hating hive-mind that is your little community?"

Sunset took a deep breath, not sure her answer would make sense to them. "Because they accepted me." Skeptical looks were exchanged before focus returned to her. "Well, no, not until after, uh, you guys showed up, but, um..." She smiled sheepishly, desperately hoping it didn't sound like she was rubbing in their loss. "Thanks for that, by the way?"

To her surprise, Adagio only shrugged. "Think nothing of it, makes no difference whether or not your people like us anymore."

Briefly looking over them, Sunset wondered just what the sirens had been dealing with since losing their magic. She remembered the crushing sense of loss when she came through the portal missing her horn, and figured they must have been through something similar around then. How have they been getting by all this time? They don't quite look homeless, but...

"My eyes are up here."

"W-what?!" Sunset flushed crimson, re-establishing eye-contact with the Dazzling leader. "No! I-I wasn't, I just-"

Sonata giggled. "Hey, maybe you should have been the model that one time, Dagi!"

Adagio smirked, brushing a puff of orange hair aside. "Stunning though I am, they were looking for someone with that 'punk' vibe at the time, remember?"

Aria huffed, crossed her arms, and looked away. "Never. Again."

The trio noticed Sunset looking at them, confused. Relishing the look of utter bewilderment for another moment, Adagio elaborated. "We've been in this world a while and tried a variety of methods to steal a spotlight and sing. One of them was teen modeling, but they never wanted Aria to so much as open her mouth. While a pleasant change of pace, it was detrimental to spreading our songs."

Aria seemed to ignore the barb, instead grinning triumphantly. "Still managed to get some of those stick-figures backstage at each others' throats, and it only got better when their agents and the director guy showed up."

Sonata smiled. "She came back with a whole bus-load of energy that night!"

"And a pink slip."

"Well," Adagio added, "at least you got one paycheck out of the ordeal."

Silently thankful for the apparently restrictive structure of the modeling industry, Sunset latched onto the clue. "So, you guys make a living...?"

Aria and Adagio looked away.

"I wouldn't call it-"

Sonata answered with a completely straight face. "Just the singing robots for now."

Now Sunset really was confused. "Um. What?"

Adagio sighed, her face tinting red as she covered it with a hand. "It's, uh..."

Aria looked just a little uncomfortable as well. "Ever heard of vocaloids?"

Sunset shook her head, the word didn't ring a bell.

"Basically, we went into a studio we got the attention of after ruining a city-wide talent show a few towns over."

"The train-ride was the worst."

Aria bit back a response. She was telling a story here. "Adagio gets on the phone with some guy who heard our singing, but didn't feel any weird effects. The next week, we're in some kinda glass box with microphones."

Adagio nodded. "We provided our voices, refraining from getting the local staff to bicker amongst themselves, they provided the programming know-how to make what amounts to fully-functional, computerized Dazzlings and their people did the rest. Before long, we had digital copies of ourselves, capable of making our voices heard across the planet."

"So," Sunset inquired as calmly as possible, "you guys were planning to use those programs to sing to the entire world?"

She chuckled darkly. "To take hold of the very realm we were banished to by it's throat? It would have been beautiful, but..."

Horrified, yet not living in a world in which was under magical control of the sirens, She had to ask. "What happened?"

Groaning, Adagio's head sunk into her hands. "Our magic didn't carry electronically!"


Aria nodded. "The guy from the studio? He saw us on an internet video and liked what he heard, but the usual effects of our songs didn't go through. So when our voices were made into singing programs..."

Sonata shrugged in an 'oh, well' kind of way. "Our robots couldn't bewitch anybody."

Part of Sunset wanted to laugh at such a theoretically solid plan being turned on it's head, but something in that story struck a bitter chord with her. Maybe it was a twisted sort of professional sympathy? "There, there," she surprised herself by patting Adagio on the shoulder, "it was a brilliant idea."

"No it wasn't," she hissed in reply, not looking up, "I should have known right from the first phone-call (I never did find out how he got our numbers) that it wasn't going to work, because the man from the studio wasn't affected at all. And now, we, we're..."

"Robots." Sonata held her phone where the rest could see, a video on the screen.

Sunset watched, mystified, to see her former enemies made into singing, dancing, digital... things.

Aria's voice snapped her out of it. "They creep you out, too?"

"Huh?! N-no, not at all, I-"

"It's alright," Adagio sighed, finally sitting up straight again, "I know they look just a little... off. To say nothing of some of the dance animations. Still, the culmination of a few days of work has kept us living comfortably for some time now, with the help of our fans overseas."

"They really made the things, then?"


Aria nudged her gloomy boss. "Come on, we're still making a little money off the Dazzling vocaloids, thanks to the royalties from the merch that gets made of 'em."

"I suppose."

Aha! Sunset smiled. "Is that how you guys have been getting by all this time?"

"In recent years, yes, though fans 'under our spell' too far away to absorb energy from even if it had worked is something of a hollow victory."

"Really? I thought all you wanted was for people to adore you."

Adagio was silent for a long moment, her face unreadable before becoming a mask of mock-sweetness, matching her tone. "Oh, Sunset dear, did you know there are tens of thousands of people that don't hold anything you did against you, and would love nothing more than to be your friend?" She pointed in no particular direction. "They're right over there, on the other side of the world." Her expression settled into the unamused one she'd employ whenever her cohorts said something stupid, like-

"For realzies? You have pretty good eyesight!"

Ugh. Facepalming really didn't do justice sometimes, but she didn't want to injure herself.

Sunset sheepishly rubbed her arm. "Right, uh... guess I get your point."

"Besides, it's just not the same as actually being able to sing."

It occurred to her that there might have been some magical means by which to fix that, but was too soon to say whether or not she could even ask Twilight about it... Or if these three wouldn't immediately try to exploit anything they were given. Is this how Twilight's friends felt about me, back then...?

Aria scratched her head. "Weren't we talking about something else, a while ago?"

"Ah, yes," Adagio nodded, "the tendency of good, caring, friendly people to lose their senses and descend into anarchy. Those that 'accepted' you, only to reject you again later."

Sunset replied quietly. "I-it's not that they 'rejected' me, it's just..."

She might have been imagining it, but it was possible there was more than disdain in Aria's tone. "You said your 'friends' believed it was you that went spreading details, right? Didn't take much, did it?"

"It was a mistake, a misunderstanding! They even apologized when they knew I was innocent."

"And yet, for just a little while, they doubted you." Adagio raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "Let's say I'm genuinely curious, you're friends with such people, why?"

Her jaw clenched, Sunset closed her eyes. "I... I-I know they made a mistake that time, but they were only doing what anyone would have done with the evidence they had. And," she turned back and forth to look the three of them in the eyes, "even if they didn't, I forgive them. Not just because they forgave me, but because if you can be with friends, with family, with those who care about you, the rest, just... doesn't matter, you know?"

Aria huffed, crossing her arms. "'Those who care' up and ditching you? Yea, wouldn't matter at all."

"My friends aren't perfect, no-one is, but I can't hold that against them! Just look at all the mistakes I made. And even if I hadn't, even if something like this happens again, I forgive them! If I really did do something like what they thought I did, they would forgive me! I know they would because they forgave the real culprits."

Sonata frowned. "I... I don't get it, there's no way I could stick with someone that abandoned me."

Aria chuckled. "For once, I agree with her. What do you see in those people?"

It felt just like the time she confronted these three in the hallway, only this time, there was no doubt in her mind. "Then, let me put it this way; why are you three still together?"

They spoke in unison. "What?"

Sunset nodded once, her expression calm and patient. "What do you see in each other?"

All three of them turned to stare at her, wide-eyed, before quickly looking away.


They quickly exchanged glances before taking interest in random pieces of the surrounding area again.

"W-we've got more power together, so-"
"It's easier to pool resources, and-"
"Aria makes good pancakes."

All present turned to look at Sonata, who smiled sheepishly as her face tinted pink. "I've never said anything, but the times when she's made flapjacks? They were always really tasty."

Aria turned away, scratching the back of her head.

"A-and," Sonata went on, "Dagi's really smart, if not for her ideas, I don't know what would have happened to us by now."

Adagio twirled a lock of puffy hair around a finger, looking at the floor.

"W-well, uh," Aria picked up, glancing in their direction, "you guys, um... Sonata being a smiley dope makes things kinda-maybe-a-little-less awful, and... Adagio's always gone out of her way when we needed something, like when she worked at the docks to get us all phones?"

"Technically," Dock Worker Adagio mumbled, "I only 'recruited' help moving crates for a few hours when their usual equipment broke down, but they paid me for wrangling them to get the job done. I only did it because it might've come back to haunt us if we stole or sung for them." Her head down, she glanced back and forth, a hint of a blush on her features. "You two, have, uh..." She gulped, nearly whispering. "You've been better partners than I could have asked for, following orders to the letter and staying with me no matter how dire our circumstances. I don't even remember a time you blamed me for our getting banished, or the gems being destroyed."

"Because those weren't your fault, Dagi!"

Adagio's voice started to crack. "Yes they-!"

Aria cut her off. "Those things sucked, but you had no way of knowing how they'd turn out. Even if it was your ideas that got us here, beating yourself up about it doesn't do us any good."

Their leader shook, looking back and forth at the two that were still with her despite all that had happened before burying her face in her hands again. Aria and Sonata moved to comfort her, each putting a hand on her back.

Aria spoke in a whisper. "Please don't cry."

"Yea," Sonata added quietly, "you'll get icicles stuck to your face."

After a short silence, the three of them found themselves giggling, Sunset's own quiet laughter not coming from the bench. Looking up, they found she was standing a meter or so away, having slipped from the bench some time before the group not-quite hug.

Sunset smiled. "Hey, I don't know if you three have plans, but there's a New Years party going on in a few days and I don't think anyone would mind a few more people there. What do you say?" She was proud of them for at least starting to understand the value of friendship, but didn't want to risk pushing them away by pointing it out. Instead, an invitation. "It might be a little more fun than staring at clouds," she added with a hint of a smirk.

Adagio chuckled. "Perhaps. Where does this gathering take place?"

"Sugarcube Corner, starting at about 8:00p.m. on the thirty-first." She checked her watch, it was about time to head home. "I gotta run, but hope to see you all there!" Dashing through the snow, Sunset felt like she'd made real progress with those three, but only time would tell.

Silence that lasted several minutes was eventually broken by Adagio. "How did she do that?"


"Do what, Dagi?"

"Have... Have we ever, talked like that before? And in front of what was once definitely an enemy?" Her friends shook their heads. "That's what I'm wondering, how did she get us to open up like that?" Staring after the spot where Sunset walked off, a devious grin the likes of which Aria and Sonata hadn't seen in months appeared on Adagio's face. "New plan, girls, we infiltrate the Rainbooms and learn their methods of manipulation, using them to back up our own. Without our pendants, we'll need every edge we can get. Understand?"

Adagio's companions replied in unison, "Got it!"

The three of them grinned. It was good to be back.

Author's Notes:

I am soooo tempted to make some kind of slice-of-life short story collection detailing the Dazzlings' lives, from banishment to the New Year party, and possibly beyond. However, other stories in progress, I think I'll wait to see what the canon has in store for our favorite divas. :twilightsmile:

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