Shadowed Bolts

by Shadowmane PX-41

First published

At first, things seemed to return to normal after the end of the Friendship Games. But for Indigo Zap, Sugarcoat, Sour Sweet, Lemon Zest, and Sunny Flare, there is no doubt in their minds that CPA had gotten much, much worse...

It’s been a month since Principal Cinch was fired from Crystal Prep Academy, and things are looking bleak. In her absence, the school has split into two factions: the Defectors, a bunch of thugs who will fight for Cinch’s return by any means necessary; and the Changelings, enforcers for the newly appointed Principal Chrysalis. As insults, threats, and even fists fly between the two groups, it seems like Crystal Prep is ready to become a battleground.

Only the Shadowbolts, who witnessed the magic of friendship first hand, are willing to stand up to either group. But with tensions growing and more and more students getting hurt, can the Shadowbolts save their school and transform it into the utopia they know it can be? Or is Crystal Prep doomed to fall back into hatred and cruelty?

(This was an idea that I was inspired to write after doing a Roleplay with someone on this site.)

Chapter 1: Divided

In the hallways of Crystal Prep, a student walking towards class was intercepted by another one wearing the old uniform. The student going to class was grabbed by the arm and thrown against the lockers.

"Brats like you should learn your place," the attacker said before stomping on the victim's face three times before pulling him back onto his feet, only to floor them with a single punch. "Cinch might be gone, but her influence – and her rules – are definitely here to stay!"

"Someone help me!" the bruised teen said before he was picked up and thrown once again, but over the other's shoulders. "I'm being attacked!"

"Face it, Black. No-one is coming to help you." The bully dealt another swift punch to Black's face. "This school belongs to the Defectors! We fight against the system so that we can impose the only rightful law at this academy!" He picked up the bloody boy and slammed his head against multiple lockers. "Principal Chrysalis is not fit to command us or any of the students here! We will fight to the bitter end until she finally packs her bags and leaves!"

"Hey!" Another boy called out. He was dressed in black padded clothing with a horned helmet on his head and a walkie-talkie attached to his belt. Taking a fighting stance, he taunted the bully. "Assault is against the rules! Stand down now or I will have to use force!"

"By all means, bring it on!" The Defector tossed Black to the ground and locked his gaze on the newcomer. "You putrid Changelings don't deserve to be here either!" He charged in and attempted to headbutt the enforcer, but was met with a number of jabs to the stomach and fell on his face.

The Changeling sighed. "Why don't you like the rule of Chrysalis, Hot Blooded?"

"It's just plain wrong!" Hot shouted. "We deserve order and discipline, not mercy and warnings! Cinch's way was better! Why did that stupid school board have to fire her for everything that happened?! AND WHY DO WE HAVE TO HAVE OUR SCHOOL'S REPUTATION SOILED BY THAT IRKSOME WITCH, CHRYSALIS?!" he tried to sweep the legs of the Changeling, but he leapt over it and had a knee hit him in the stomach.

"I offered you the easy way out, but you decided to force my hand." The Changeling picked up Hot's head and slammed it against the floor, knocking the uniformed student unconscious. After he had stopped moving entirey the student in black pulled out and turned on the walkie-talkie. "Queen Bee. We've got another unconscious Defector in the Eastern Hallway. Get a detention team down here on the double."

"Understood, Metamorphosis Seven. I'm just about to give the order," said Principal Chrysalis. "Stay where you are and make sure he doesn't get away."

"Over," the student said before putting the device back on his belt. He looked at the pacified student and scoffed. "Honestly, I wish there was a better way to stop these brutes from trying to rule our school..."

"Coming through!" Indigo Zap ran down the halls of CPA with sweat dripping down her forehead. She was now wearing a pair of aviator goggles on her head, sporting a yellow shirt and denim jeans. Ignoring the sneers of the uniformed students around her, she glanced down at the time on her phone before slipping the goggles down over her eyes. "What?! I thought I had more time than that!" She threw the phone back into her pocket. Academics had never really been Indigo's thing, but she wasn't about to let being tardy stop her from graduating.

With time playing against her, Indigo didn't even respond to the students who greeted her as she passed them by. She sprinted forward, heart pounding and fists clenching. Her chest heaved with every step. She needed to get to her next class in time, and there would be no distractions.

Unfortunately, Indigo's route took her down another corridor packed full of students. She weaved through the crowd, ducking under arms and sliding along lockers, until she crashed face-first into a shock of purple hair.

"Ow! Watch where you're—" Indigo stopped when she stood back up and realized who she had knocked over "—oh. Sorry about that, Sunny." She glanced at a textbook that had been dropped in the impact. "Hang on. Let me get that for you."

"Thank you, Indigo," said Sunny Flare as she dusted off her clothes. Her hair was no longer in its usual bowl cut, and was now draped down her shoulders with yellow bows tied around it. "but I've got this." She picked up the book and dusted off her her purple jacket and pink skirt. "Never let it be said that I cannot handle myself."

"Sorry about that. I'm just running a little late, and I seriously thought that it was fifteen minutes until my next class, not five."

"It's alright. Most people aren't very good at keeping time. In fact, recent surveys show that lovers often arrive to dates late due to their failure to properly estimate the amount of time needed to prepare."

Indigo raised a brow. "When did you get so knowledgeable?"

"Sugarcoat kinda rubbed off on me a little," Sunny said with a sheepish chuckle.

"Speaking of which, how's she handling all these bullies?" Indigo's face contorted into frown as she thought about her fellow classmate. "I'm a little worried that she could get hurt."

"She'll be fine. I know it," Sunny put her hand on Indigo's shoulder. "Crystal Prep students are tough, brave, and incredibly intelligent. And besides, we're Shadowbolts. We stick together through thick and thin, even if the odds are stacked against us."

Indigo's face brightened as Sunny gave her a pat on the back. "Thanks. And besides, you're right; the school might change, but whether or not the students change is really down to us. And even then, we've gotta choose whether we get even worse, or start to make things better."

"Looking back on it all, this school acted terribly under Cinch's rules what with all of us obeying her every command. But in light of recent events, I finally see that there's a way for us all to learn from our mistakes."

"Speaking of changing," Indigo said, glancing around, "what were your thoughts when Principal Chrysalis arrived?"

"Well, I was certainly surprised when they announced that Cinch had been fired. I can't say that I ever mourned our loss, but now that Chrysalis is in charge... things are getting worse around here. And all because of one group."

"The Defectors..." Indigo scowled as she set her eyes on one of the uniformed students, who stood near the wall, glaring at her and Sunny. "It’s been a month since Cinch left, and they're going around ranting about how Chrysalis 'isn't the rightful principal' and that things shouldn't have changed. They wanna go back to how things were before the Games. Those jerks are what's keeping this school from being perfect."

"I can't really blame them for acting that way." Sunny leaned against the nearest locker. "The Games had a massive impact on everyone, not just us."

"I can agree with you there. But at the same time, some of this is our fault. Our selfishness kept us from seeing what was really going on with Cinch and Twilight. If I'd known that the fate of the world was in our hands, I totally would have reconsidered playing for the Shadowbolts."

"Me too. But back to more important matters: why are you still talking to me when your class is about to start?"

"Well, I've been trying to get to class, but with all of these jerks with the crummy old uniforms on blocking most of the hallways, I've been forced to take the long road," Indigo clenched her fists. "I swear, if those stupid Defectors make me late again, then so help me..."

"And that's another thing I've been meaning to talk to you and the others about," Sunny said.

"What is it?"

"I've been thinking about those Defectors, and there’s something I can’t seem to figure out. Why is it that they would want to revive the ways of Principal Cinch in the first place? Don't they realize that bringing her back means ruining any chance we have of bringing friendship to Crystal Prep, let alone Canterlot High?"

"Yeah." Indigo nodded. "They just want to bring that old hag back so this school can go back to the way it was. A school where students are jerks for the sake of being jerks, just to keep up some fancy-schmancy reputation." She shook her head and took a deep breath. "But that's not really what's bugging me, Sunny. What really makes me mad is that those punks are claiming that we're the ones who ruined CPA. How? All we did was expose that witch as a power-crazed lunatic, and encouraged Twilight to transfer to a safer school. But those Defectors are treating us like little kids, pushing us around and stepping all over us!"

Indigo slammed one of her fists against the wall. "Have you ever been this angry in your life? Because I sure as heck haven't. Nuh-uh. Never!"

Sunny stayed stoic. "I wish we could just break through to them, let them see that there's another—a way that isn’t filled with hostility and hatred. But as long as they're all driven by the need to get Cinch back, there's absolutely no reasoning with them."

"They’re a bunch of thugs. Mindless thugs at that."

Indigo and Sunny turned to find Sugarcoat walking up to them. Her finely groomed uniform had been replaced by a simple white and yellow jumper Her red glasses had been replaced with yellow ones, and for what seemed to be the first time in years, she had let her hair down.

She stopped in front of them and adjusted her glasses. "Hello, you two. I assume you're having difficulty making it to class with these disruptions?"

"Hi, Sugarcoat!" Sunny Flare said, waving. "And yes. Because of these Defectors, Indigo's running the risk of being late again..."

"It's not my fault!" Indigo shot back, "Those jerks always seem to go after me when I'm right by the door!"

"A pity that they seem unwilling to play nice with rest of the school," Sugarcoat said. "If they would only wise up and learn that the past is in the past, then maybe we could bring Crystal Prep to become a safer place for everybody."

"How are Lemon Zest and Sour Sweet doing?" Sunny asked.

"Well, apart from crossing paths with the Defectors at least half a dozen times today, our friends have been left unscathed." Sugarcoat sighed. "Sour seems to hate the Defectors most of all. I'm surprised that she's stayed neutral throughout all this; although at this point, it seems she's one more outburst away from siding with the Changelings, just so she can – in her own words – 'teach those losers a lesson'."

"I wish it didn't have to be this way..." Sunny Flare hung her head, only looking up when Sugarcoat reached for her hand.

"Me too, Sunny. This constant fighting is making the school worse than before, and it saddnes me to see our former classmates attacking other students, or being attacked themselves."

"We all want this school to change, but how are we supposed to help when the Defectors hate our guts for something that's not even our fault?" asked Sunny.

"Well, technically, we did kinda force Twilight to go along with the whole magic deal." Indigo rubbed the back of her head. She blinked a few times, then stomped a foot. "Darn! Why didn't we see that before?!" She scowled and turned back to her friends. "I guess that's another reason why this silly fighting needs to stop."

The bell rang, and Indigo gasped. "Oh, crud! I've gotta get to class!" She scrambled to grab her stuff, then charged down the hallway without looking back. "I'll see you and the others at lunch!" she shouted before disappearing.

The hands of the clock hanging over the massive double doors of the cafeteria read 12:50. Nobody paid attention to it, though.

The cafeteria of Crystal Prep was quite expansive, with a group of tables on the ground and a flight of stairs that led up towards a mezzanine with more tables. Not a few of the tables were occupied by groups of students, most of which were friends with each other. The upper level, however, had been taken over by the Defectors. They took up all of the tables,glowering down on the other students like vultures, as they devoured their food.

Sour Sweet and Lemon Zest scanned the menu for the day. It held all the standards—salads, pizzas, soups, pastas—along with a few names that just made Lemon's head spin. Sour Sweet grabbed what she wanted, while Lemon Zest took a minute to just stare

"Mirepoix? Cavatappi? What?" she asked as she leered at each of the different foods. "What kind of names are those?"

"Mirepoix is a fancy term used for an assortment of rare mixed vegetables, and Cavatappi is a type of pasta," Sugarcoat stood next to Lemon Zest. "Just in case you're still confused by it."

"Hey, Sugarcoat." Lemon Zest waved before she picked up a plate of hot food, alongside a serving of salad. Moving to pour herself a drink, she asked, "Did those jerks give you a hard time again?"

"Not exactly." Sugarcoat filled a bowl with soup. "Most of them forget about you when they don’t understand a word you say." She turned to Lemon Zest, who was just about to pay for her food. "I encountered a few today, but after a simple explanation of the Theory of Happiness and asking on what made them happy, they got all downhearted and let me on my way."

"They'll come back, you know," Sour Sweet said as both Lemon and Sugarcoat paid. "Those brutes would've slugged me if it weren't for the Changelings being there." She scowled. "I'd just like to get my hands on those monsters and..." She reached forward to strangle an invisible Defector

"Violence isn’t the answer, Sour Sweet. At least, not always," Sugarcoat said. "Just look at all the people out in the world who are locked in jail for throwing so much as a single punch."

"Yeah. Not even those freaks could get away with something like that," Lemon Zest said before turning on one of her favourite songs. The sound blasted through her headphones, and she leapt into an intense headbanging session. "But still, those Defectors are facing expulsion if they keep on fighting the students..."

Sour and Sugar nodded. The trio hurried over to a nearby table, where Sunny Flare and Indigo Zap were waiting for them. Once the whole group had arrived, they all took their seats and put their trays down.

"You know, it's kind of sad, really." Sunny Flare glanced up at the Defectors for a brief moment, but turned back before she could be noticed. "On one hand, you can choose to side with the Defectors and spend your time pushing people around because they want some ‘greater future.’ But on the other hand, if you sign up with the Changelings, the time you would spend studying would be minimized on a large scale due to all of the duties Chrysalis would give you..."

"But at the same time, if you're with the Changelings, at least, you're trying to do something to overturn what happened in the past," Sour Sweet added through a mouthful of pizza. Her smile melted into a grimace. "And by that, I mean beating up some stupid little punks who don't know when they've lost."

"Don't antagonize them." Indigo pointed up at the Defectors. "Not here. You don't want to try and start a fight with the Defectors—especially not in a crowded room where anyone could get caught in the crossfire."

Sour Sweet sighed. "I'm sorry, Indigo. It's just that I've had enough of those bullies thinking that bringing back Cinch will make this school better. It's not just the bipolar syndrome talking here. It's the fact that I speak for everyone when I say that this has gone on long enough."

"It's been going on for longer than that, Sour." Sugarcoat ate a spoonful of soup. "If things aren't rectified quickly, then there's the possibility that Crystal Prep could soon become infamous—again. We could quickly degrade into one of the worst schools in the country if those villains are allowed to have their way here."

"But what can we do about it?!" Indigo shouted. "Ever since the Friendship Games, those jerks have been at our throats for what happened!" She slammed one of her fists down on the table. "And it doesn't matter what we try to say. They'll just brush us off, beat us up, or something else just as horrible if we try!"

The lunchroom went silent as everyone stared at Indigo Zap. High above, the Defectors watched with bemused faces before returning to their lunches. A few seconds passed before everyone went back to their lunches.

"Sorry about that," Indigo said, deflating. "But you do get what I mean, right?"

"Yeah, we understand," Sunny Flare said. "A lot has changed in the past month, but one thing’s for certain: the Defectors are the worst thing to ever happen to Crystal Prep."

A shout rang out from the mezzanine. At the top stood three Defectors: two boys, and one girl. The boys’ hands were clenched into fists, while the girl’s legs just trembled.

"You've got some nerve coming up here after what you posted last night." said the boy on the right. He whipped out his phone and shoved it in the girl’s face. "Why would you hang out with those Wonderdolts, Fleur?!"

"Hey! We may all be fighting change, but at least I have enough honour to have some fun every now and again!" Fleur shouted back. "We may want rebellion, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun as well!"

"There is no fun at Crystal Prep anymore, especially now that you’ve turned against us!" he said. "So by all means, hang out with those jerks at CHS!"

The argument between Fleur and the boy went on for quite a while, and it had already grabbed the attention of Sunny Flare, Indigo Zap, Sour Sweet, Lemon Zest, and Sugarcoat. The five of them watched with mixed emotions as the three Defectors fought.

"Why don't you all lighten up for once in your lives?!" Fleur spat, causing the whole room to fall silent.

"Alright. I think it's safe to say that your time's up, Fleur de Lis." Another male Defector with white hair approached. "You started off as one of us, but after what's happened here, I'd say that you're nothing more than a dirty double-crosser. This is a serious war we're facing here—something you don't seem to understand. You're going to pay for your betrayal, and everything else that you've done here at Crystal Prep!"

He threw out a foot and caught Fleur right in the stomach. Fleur yelped and flew backwards. Everyone gasped as Fleur tumbled down the staircase, arms and legs scraping against the metal steps. She hit the ground hard and her tray spilled all over her.

And through it all, the Defectors just laughed.

"Oh, man!" Indigo said, leaping from her seat. "So not cool... Come on!"

Within seconds, the Shadowbolts and a few other students surrounded Fleur. They glared up at the Defectors before looking down on the girl and helping her off the ground.

"Sweet mother of..." Lemon Zest tore off her headphones, and grabbed some napkins to wipe the blood from Fleur's legs.

A group of black-clad students burst through the door. They went to work checking her vitals, cleaning the food off of her face and body, and helping to stop the last of the blood from spilling.

"What happened here?" one of the Changelings asked.

"Justice happened! That's what!" The first male Defector shouted out, earning a cheer from the rest of his group. "She turned on our cause by partying up with those Wondercolt idiots at Canterlot High, so it's only fair that we kicked her from our society!"

Another Changeling, ignoring the taunting group merely pushed a button on a walkie-talkie. "This is Metamorphosis Three to Queen Bee. We've got a wounded student down at the cafeteria. She needs urgent medical attention. A few cut marks and blood coming out of the back of her head. Get a team down here now!"

"Copy that, Metamorphosis Three. I saw everything on the cameras," Principal Chrysalis's raspy voice floated from the walkie-talkie. "I've already sent Dean Cadence to get a medical team. They should arrive momentarily."

"Are you alright?" A third Changeling asked Fleur, who was starting to groan. "Can you walk?"

"Not really," Fleur stammered, looking down at her ruined uniform. "When I recover, I'm breaking off from that despicable hive mind of monsters."

"Good for you." another Changeling said before the medical team walked in, with Dean Cadence watching from afar. "But for now, I want you to just lay down again for a bit."

Fleur complied with the orders of the nurses, and within seconds a stretcher was slid underneath her body. The nurses lifted Fleur off the ground. Fleur let out a breath and closed her eyes—but as she left the cafeteria, the students watching heard a whimper, then a gasp, and then a full-bodied sob.

"Alright. Students of Crystal Prep!" the first Changeling said, taking off his helmet. "I advise that for your own safety that you take your lunches out of the hall and eat them elsewhere! This is a one-time thing that we are permitting only after seeing the brutality that the Defectors have caused!"

"It's not brutality! It's the right thing to do!" a female Defector yipped. "After what happened at the Friendship Games, Crystal Prep has gone from the top of the food chain to the laughing stock of the state!"

The Defectors and Changelings argued with each other for a while, spurring the other students to grab their lunches and leave. Sugarcoat and her friends were the last ones to leave.

Sugarcoat said, "This ends now. With those bullies in play, our school is turning into a hunting ground..."

"But you saw first hand what those meanies are capable of," Lemon Zest pointed out in a strained voice. "What can we do if we're ever going to turn this place around?"

"We might not be able to do anything..." Indigo Zap's eyes went wide. "But I think that I know some people who do."

"Who?" the others all asked simultaneously.

"Back at Canterlot High School, there were six students that Twilight Sparkle had really taken a liking to." Indigo started to explain. "Apparently, those girls are all about friendship, and unless my brain's turning to mush, they used their friendship magic to save the world at the last Friendship Games. Remember?"

Sunny raised a finger. "Yeah, but how are we going to convince them to come to Crystal Prep and sort this mess out? They must still bear some sort or resentment for us. I mean, considering how many times we’ve beaten them."

"They won't be able to ignore something like the Defectors," Indigo said, "especially not when the whole of CPA lies in their hands."

"But why can't we just ask the other students to all stand up and try and change the Defectors' minds together?" Sour Sweet asked. "Isn't that better than this pathetic fighting?"

"Look, even if we get the rest of the faculty together, there's no telling how hard it'll be to break through to those jerks." Indigo sighed. "I think our best bet for now is to rely on those Wondercolt girls to fix this."

"You're right." Sugarcoat looked back and saw the Defectors and the Changelings war. "And from the looks of things, we'd better do it fast. Both sides are fighting like animals."

As the other girls looked back and saw the fighting, they grimaced. They all knew that if they couldn't get the help of the girls at CHS to fix their problems, then the fighting would never end.

Author's Notes:

The designs for each of the Shadow Five in this chapter and most likely for the rest of the story comes from a DeviantArt artist known as xebck. She's known for making lots of Alternate Universe vectors for both Equestria Girls and Friendship is Magic. You should check her out when you get the time.

And if you liked this first chapter, be sure to give it a thumbs up and send it to your friends and followers. I'm sure that they'd appreciate it.

Chapter 2: Help

Author's Notes:

A lot of people don't know this, but out of all of the Shadow Five, only Sugarcoat and Sour Sweet have original voice actors. Sienna Bohn providing the voice of Sugarcoat, and Sour Sweet being voiced by Sharon Alexander.

Indigo Zap's voice actress is Kelly Sheridan, who does the voices of Starlight Glimmer, Sassy Saddles, and Misty Fly in Season 5 alone.

Lemon Zest's actress is Shannon Chan-Kent, famous for Pinkie Pie's songs, and for the voice of Silver Spoon.

And finally, Sunny Flare is voiced by Britt Irvin, who lended her voice to Lightning Dust for Wonderbolt Academy back in Season 3.

And now you know.:pinkiehappy:

Enjoy the new chapter!

Sunset Shimmer was sitting on the doorsteps of CHS, quietly studying calculus for her upcoming test. She smiled as she wrote down notes on simplifying each formula to the best of her abilities. She didn't even notice that Twilight was walking up to her, eager to see what she was learning.

Twilight opened up her backpack and let Spike climb out of it before she reached in to get the textbook that she needed to revise on. She already had the answers, but she still felt like she needed a refresher. When she opened the book, she caught a faint image of someone in her eye. Turning to see what it was, she looked at Sunset Shimmer; who was still deep in trying to study.

"Hi, Sunset!" Twilight said before she began, catching the red-haired girl off-guard for a second. "Oh. Sorry. Did I scare you?"

"No. It's fine, Twilight," Sunset closed the book and turned towards her. "In fact, I was just about to ask you something."

"What is it?"

"It's about before you came to Crystal Prep. Did you try making any friends in your school years before becoming a senior?"

"Not really." Twilight adjusted her glasses. "Most of the students at Crystal Prep were less than friendly at the time, and fended only for themselves. In fact, I even told Fluttershy that they didn't commend other people for doing something impressive."

"That sounds so selfish of them," Sunset sighed. "Only taking pride in their own accomplishments and not even turning a blind eye towards what other students did?"

"Sadly, yes. In fact, the only times that other CPA students were cheered on or were congratulated was for achieving victory in the Friendship Games. And most of the time, they were encouraging them to beat your school," Twilight face showed a solemn frown.

"And you didn't think about getting them to change their ways?"

"Crystal Prep students are usually quite self-contained. They don't take advice from others, nor do they care about the well-being of their fellow classmates. With them, it's every man and woman for themselves."

"It's almost similar to how Canterlot High was when I started," said Sunset. "Most of the students here had a few differences, and I took advantage of them and drove them apart one group after another."

"Why would you do such a thing?" Spike asked.

"It was before I met the Twilight from Equestria. I was selfish and cruel due to my lack of patience. I eventually gained a reputation of my own, but one that shattered the friendships between the students at CHS." Sunset dusted off her shirt and looked at the book that was used to contact Princess Twilight. "It was only due to your Equestria counterpart that I was finally defeated, and shown the true light of friendship."

"But how could a simple scientist like myself possibly defeat you? I mean, I rely on scientific studies, whilst you rely on magic to solve your problems. So if my doppelganger is similar to me, how could she have stopped you from being a bully? If anything, she could very well have been the stereotypical nerd-who-always-gets-picked-on kind of girl."

"The Twilight in Equestria is a lot different to you. She's still a scientist with a passionate love for books, but she's also an alicorn princess with exceptionally high grades in magic."

"Alicorn?" Twilight asked. "I'm afraid I don't follow."

"An alicorn is a pony who is essentially a combination of all three types of pony: Earth Pony, Pegasus, and Unicorn," Sunset pulled out a blank sheet of paper and laid it down on the book. "Only through a powerful feat can a pony become an alicorn, and there's been no record of such a thing being born willy-nilly," she wrote down a unicorn's horn, a pair of pegasus wings, and regular pony hooves. She then drew an arrow from all three of them until they met in the center. "So far, there's only been four alicorns on Equestria: Celestia, the princess of the sun; Luna, the princess of the moon; Cadence, the princess of love; and Twilight Sparkle, the Princess of Friendship."

"Hold on a second—you're saying that in this other world, your principals and my former dean are princesses? This gets stranger every day..."

"I guess when you say it like that, it does get pretty hectic," Sunset chuckled. "But that's enough about Equestria for today. Do you mind if I change the subject, Twilight?"

"Sure. What is it, Sunset?"

"Do you have any family that you can connect with?" Sunset stood up and knelt down in front of her.

"Well, Mom and Dad aside, the only other member of my family is my big brother, Shining Armour," Twilight said. "My mom's a writer, my dad's a retired cop, and Shining's currently part of the Canterlot PD."

"And how often do you get to spend time with them?"

"My parents are always there for me, and I used to spend a lot of time with Shining Armour before he went to CPA." Twilight seemed to tear up for a second. "But in recent years, Shining Armour has been spending countless nights working overtime with his squad, slowly but surely spending less and less time with me." She wiped a tear away and sniffled. "Sometimes, I feel like he's abandoning me..."

"Hey. He's your brother, Twilight." Spike leapt up onto her knees. "He's not going to give up on you just because work's taking up most of his time."

"And besides, he couldn't forget about you even if he wanted to." Sunset put one of her hands on Twilight's shoulders. "If you're the same as the Twilight from Equestria, then there's a good chance that Shining Armour will be there for you, even when you think he won't be."

"Are you sure?" Twilight was unsure.

"Trust me, Twilight." Sunset's smile grew wider. "Have I ever steered you wrong before?"

"No," Twilight admitted. "At least, not yet."

To that, both of them laughed before the school bell rang.

"That's my cue. I've gotta get going." Sunset put her books away, and walked up the stairs. "I'll see you and the others girls at lunch, okay?"

"Okay, Sunset." Twilight waved her off. Once she had left her sight, the purple girl closed up her own book and put it away before doing the same with Spike. When she had hid him away, she zipped up her backpack and followed Sunset inside.

The school bell rang, signalling the end of another day at CHS. Most students walked out and leisurely made their way to their houses, with Sunset Shimmer and her friends being the last to leave.

"Man, that was a long day." Rainbow Dash put her hands behind her head. "I swear. If I ever had to sit through another one of Ms. Harshwhinny's lectures on the use of Victorian age inventions, I'd have slammed my head through my desk!"

"But it's still quite amazing to learn about what happened way before our time," Twilight said. "Speaking of which, what's your favourite historical time period, Sunset?"

"Personally, I'm interested in the Egyptian period. Mainly because of how deep and unique it is," said Sunset as the group made it to the park. "I mean, there are three or four gods from that historical era that could have just as easily been integrated into Saddle Arabian history back in Equestria."

"You know, I've had so many questions about the world you came from since I transferred here." Twilight took a deep breath. "Do all dogs turn into dragons there? What's the other me like? What's the—" she suddenly had her mouth covered up by one of Applejack's hands.

"One at a time, sugarcube," Applejack removed her palm from Twilight's lips. "And besides, I don't really think that those are good questions to be asked in a public place like this one..."

"But still, I'm sure that I can answer all of those questions in time, Twilight." Sunset shot her a smile before she looked back at where she was going. "It's great that you're taking an interest in my world—even if you did try to destroy ours to see it for yourself back at the Games."

Twilight felt somewhat colder as she remembered back to that fateful day. She hung her head and said, "I'm sorry I tried to do that. It was just that I had no choice in the matter." She explained. "Principal Cinch blackmailed me into releasing it and risk the destruction of both our worlds. If I didn't, she would have denied my application into the Everton Indepenent Study Program."

"I've said it before and I'll say it again, Twilight." Spike popped out of Twilight's backpack. "Principal Cinch was, is, and probably will always be, an awful woman..."

"Now there's something we can all agree on," Pinkie Pie joked, resulting in laughter coming from the others.

The walk from there was relatively silent as the girls began taking in the beauty of the world. The trees were growing at a steady pace, the flowers were bright and grew in intricate patterns around them, and the sky was clear aside from one or two stray clouds. With all of these sights, they didn't see that there were five girls approaching them.

"Hey, Sunset!" one of the girls called out from the distance.

Sunset heard the girl's call and looked around to see the Shadowbolts approaching her. At first, she raised a brow, but then decided to hold her judgement until she knew what they wanted.

"Hey. Aren't you all from Crystal Prep?" Rainbow Dash asked when the five girls had finally closed the distance between them.

"Yes. Yes we are, dearie." Sunny Flare was the first to respond.

"Then why aren't you in uniform?" Twilight asked as she had taken notice of the five girls' clothes. They were nothing like what they had worn in the past. "Isn't there still a dress code back there?"

"Twilight." Sugarcoat put a hand on her shoulder, mercy cearly visible in her eyes. She took a deep breath and said, "A lot of changes were made since the end of the Friendship Games. These clothes we're all wearing is just one of them."

"Speaking of..." Sour Sweet curled her hair around one of her fingers before saying, "We need your help, girls. Something terrible has gone down at Crystal Prep since the Games."

"I don't know..." Rainbow Dash was the first one to think about it. "You did kind of come off as a negative crowd back then. Always talking about beating us to the ground in any kind of competition, trash talking us and saying that we would never win, and even forcing Twilight to let out all of the stolen Equestrian Magic to totally destroy both of our worlds."

"We couldn't help it," Indigo spoke up. "Cinch had played Twilight for a fool, and we were all just pawns in her little plan in trying to set that monster loose just to win the Games." She kicked the stones on the ground away before looking back at the CHS girls. "But anyway, for what she did to Twilight, she was fired a few weeks ago."

"WHAT?!" The Rainbooms all exclaimed.

"At least, that's what we were told," Sunny came back. "But her blackmail plot being exposed was just one nail in the coffin."

"She did try and convince the board to shut CHS down, but they merely called her discoveries a fairy tale." Sour Sweet added in. "She tried a lot of things before the board's president, Spoiled Rich, decided that it was time for her to permanently resign from her job." Her brows dropped. "And by resign, we mean she was kicked off of the board for good, and stripped of her title as Principal!"

"We thought that the school was looking up after we had been given the news." Lemon Zest spoke next, taking off her headphones. "But after a new principal named Chrysalis took over CPA, a group of students were outraged by the changes she made, so they formed a rebel group that would bully and torment others who wanted the school to recover."

"And why would you tell us all of this?" Sunset raised her right eyebrow.

"Because..." Sugarcoat stalled for a few seconds, but eventually recomposed herself. "We want to stop these students from fighting all of the time, but we have no clue how to do it."

"Why? Is it because you're struggling to think of what would be the best way to do it?" Sunset asked.

"No." Indigo brushed her hair with the palm of her left hand and crossed her arms. "It's because those jerks would just try and beat us up the second we tried something like that."

"Oh my..." Fluttershy brushed some hair out of her face. "That sounds terrible..."

"Tell me about it," Sour Sweet said.

"We should probably head to Sugarcube Corner to talk this out," Sunny Flare suggested. "You can lead the way, Sunset."

"Well, I know that the Shadowbolts of Crystal Prep have been known for their ability to show off, so naturally, I wouldn't stop to help them at first glance," Sunset saw the pleading faces of each of the five girls and said, "But you girls all sound desperate, so I think it's definitely worth a shot," she then turned towards the rest of her friends. "Come on, girls. Follow me."

The rest of the girls were hesitant at first to be helping their long-time rivals, and some of them scoffed mentally. However, when they saw that Sunset was being serious, they quickly joined her and made their way towards Sugarcube Corner.

The inside of the shop was fairly crowded with people; most of which didn't pay attention to the Rainbooms and the Shadowbolts walking into the establishment. They were too busy eating their pastries, looking through their newspapers, drinking their beverages, talking to each other, or using their electronics for leisurely purposes.

Each of the girls all placed their orders for milkshakes and waited patiently to be served. When each of them had their drinks, they finally walked over to three tables which could seat four people each.

"So, how bad is this fight with the Defectors?" Twilight asked after everyone sat down.

"It's pretty bad, Twilight," Indigo Zap said. "But I think you girls should hear it from the beginning before we tell you more."

"A few days after Principal Chrysalis took control of Crystal Prep Academy, she abolished most of Cinch's old rules along with the dress code," Sugarcoat started, stirring her drink as she told the story. "However, a group of students – led by someone named Blueblood – were furious with her for it. They called her out, saying that Crystal Prep was a proper school, not like most of the others in the country. They were unsure as of how to prove it at first, but they eventually thought of make their mark." She paused to take a quick sip. "Most of these Defectors use brute force and delinquent methods in an attempt to prove that Chrysalis would be unable to manage a school, in the hopes that she would be fired and replaced with Cinch; or at the very least, someone like her."

"The fighting got so bad that Chrysalis had to form a disciplinarian team to counter the Defectors' ruthless ways," Lemon Zest took over. "She calls them the Changelings, a group of black-clad defenders to keep the students safe, to keep the bullies' cruelty low, and to ensure that Crystal Prep was still the same as it was before, without all of the harsh rules," her smile then faded. "But after we saw how the Changelings went about doing their work, they're just as bad as the rebels, and are constantly dragging the other students into their power struggles."

"If it's gotten that bad, then why haven't most of your fellow classmates left yet?" Rarity said before taking a sip of her milkshake. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't your school be enforced by better protection? It just doesn't seem right to fight fire with fire..."

"As much as we begged Chrysalis to do something else to keep the school safe, she merely shrugged us off and said that she would do things her own way," Sour Sweet added her voice. "However, she wasn't cruel in dismissing us, saying that she had everything under control," she then took a big sigh herself. "But even we're starting to doubt her decisions..."

"How can you tell a Defector apart from a regular student there?" Sunset propped her elbows on the table and put her fingers together.

"The Defectors all wear the old uniforms as a sign of unity, much like the one Twilight's still wearing now." Sugarcoat pointed at Twilight to prove her point. "Everyone else now wears whatever they want, making them victims in these dark times."

"The worst part of it is that some students actually choose to be Defectors of their own free will, with another few joining the Changelings when they suffer enough abuse." Indigo looked down at her hands, which were now shaking. "It won't be long before the five of us have to pick a side..." She then shook her head violently and banged one of her fists on the table. "But I don't want any of us to choose! It'll just make things even worse!"

"You have to help us, girls!" Sour Sweet reached over and grabbed Sunset by her shirt, tears streaming from her eyes. "It's bad enough that we made you all feel uncomfortable before, but I don't want you to see us as Changelings, let alone Defectors!"

Sunset couldn't help but stop and think at Sour Sweet's pleas. She then had memories back to when she had a tight grip over the students of Canterlot High, where her words split everyone up into multiple different groups after she spread rumours and lies. After being reminded of it in great detail, she balled up one of her hands into a fist.

"Girls," she turned towards the rest of her friends. "We have to help them. They're all close to being forced to fight. We can't just abandon them at times like this."

"Sunset. Don't you remember all the times they thrashed and utterly humiliated Canterlot High in the past?" Rainbow Dash was less than amused at the idea. "All of the years we've lost to Crystal Prep, and you think we're gonna help them now? After all of the times we had to lose and see our school get pranked because of it?"

"Rainbow Dash!" Applejack grabbed onto the cerulean girl's shoulder. "They're about to be forced into a war they don't want to fight! We can't just sit back as they either get hurt by the Defectors, or lose their freedom as Changelings!" She pushed her aside, almost spilling her milkshake in the process. "Count me in, Sunset."

"Are you kidding me, Applejack?!" Rainbow Dash lashed back at Applejack after she pulled herself up from the ground. "They're the Shadowbolts of Crystal Prep! Hello?!"

"Rainbow Dash!" Fluttershy now raised her voice. "They've clearly changed by what they're saying and how they're saying it! There's no need to turn your back on someone who's desperate to avoid wanting to fight!"

"Yes. And as much as I am not one for this, we cannot deny them their wishes if they are on the verge of crying!" Rarity scolded as well. "Rainbow Dash. Whether you're helping or not, we will be doing our best to aid these girls through their moment of crisis."

"I'm in as well!" exclaimed Pinkie Pie, not paying any attention to the conflict between Rainbow Dash and her friends.

"I think we're all in, Sunset," Twilight said after she had taken another sip of her milkshake. "The five of them are desperate, and I myself want to see that the Magic of Friendship can be brought to Crystal Prep as well."

"Well, Rainbow Dash, we're all in this together." Sunset stood up along with the rest of her friends to confront the rainbow-haired girl. "Now then. We'll only ask you one more time. Are you going to help these Crystal Preppers, or not?"

Rainbow Dash looked at the eyes of all of her friends, most of which were looking straight back at her with a fire in them. The only ones who weren't were Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, who just seemed to stare off into space. With all of the eyes on her, she eventually hung her head and sighed. "Fine. I'll do it..."

"Good to hear it, Rainbow Dash." Sunset walked over and put one of her arms around Rainbow's shoulders. "We couldn't be able to do this without you."

"Yeah. I know I'm a little rough around the edges, but when you all put it like that, I think that we could spare some time in helping out..." She stopped when she looked at the five Shadowbolts. "Uhh... What are your names, anyway?"

"Name's Indigo Zap." She stood up and came over to Rainbow Dash. "But you can just call me Indigo. I'm one for competition, with or without the Games. Although, I do play a little dirty if I know I'm going to lose."

"Just like Dashie!" Pinkie Pie leapt up from her chair and pulled Rainbow next to her. "Rainbow Dash is super athletic and competitive as well! She's also a little sneaky, but knows when she's beaten when she loses."

"Pinkie..." Rainbow Dash whispered in her ear before the pink girl let out a little snort before sitting back down.

"You know, your Pinkie Pie is a lot like me." Lemon Zest stood up and draped her headphones around her neck. "My name's Lemon Zest. I'm a hyperactive girl myself, I'm no stranger to parties, and I never leave home without these babies." She pointed towards the headphones. "Background noise reduction, bass slider, and all of the latest hits. This is what really gets me moving."

"Cool!" Pinkie Pie immediately returned to her feet and looked at Lemon's headphones. "Mind if I try them on?"

"Sure! I'm always one for sharing my music with others!" Lemon put them on Pinkie's ears before she even had the chance to touch them. "Now it's quite loud, so I hope you like that sort of thing."

"How loud could it possi—" before Pinkie could finish, a rock song blasted out of both speakers directly into her ears "—bly be?" It took her a few seconds to get used to it, but once she adjusted to the volume, Pinkie Pie began dancing and shaking her head like there was no tomorrow.

"Anyway, while those two are getting along, I suppose I should introduce myself." Rarity stood up and looked at Sunny Flare. "My name is Rarity. Or Miss Rarity if you prefer. I'm one who dabbles in the world of fashion, and I am always willing to let my best friends try out all of my latest creations." She took her by the hand and helped her up. "If you'd like, darling, I could schedule you in to try some new ones out."

"That would be nice, dearie." Sunny stood up and did a formal bow. "My name is Sunny Flare, and I'm someone who people usually go to for good advice." She put the pigtails forward so that they were now hanging down from her shoulders. "Usually, I'm quite pacifistic. But there are times when I have to get a little bit feisty, as it were."

"Oh. I understand completely, darling," Rarity said. "A lady cannot always be expected to be pristine." She accidentally spilled some of her milkshake onto her clothes. She cringed for a second, but then said, "Normally, I would be a lot more bothered by this, but I have four other copies at home. We all have to get a little dirty sometimes."

"A pleasure to meet you. My name is Sugarcoat." She greeted Applejack with a simple handshake. "And as the name implies, I don't tend to sugarcoat things. I just say it as it is. After all, honesty is the best policy."

"I can relate to that." Applejack tipped her hat. "I'm Applejack. And I'm an honest gal myself." She leaned back in her chair and put her hands behind her head. "I was born and raised at Sweet Apple Acres, alongside my little sister, Applebloom; my big brother, Big Macintosh; and our elder, Granny Smith."

"Your family sounds really nice, Applejack." Sugarcoat brushed her dress briefly. "I do hope that our families can become friends eventually."

"Hello there. My name's Sour Sweet." She looked down at her feet for a few seconds before looking up to face Fluttershy again. "I've got this weird thing called Bipolar Syndrome, where I can swap between kindness and cruelty at the drop of a hat." She emphasized the point by frowning. "Something like this."

"Oh, it's no bother." Fluttershy gently rubbed her butterfly hairclip. "I'm Fluttershy. Shy by name, and shy by nature." She then pulled out her backpack and opened it up in front of Sour Sweet, revealing Angel Bunny, a cat, and a bird. "I'm quite good with animals, as you can see. But I'm also very kind to other people as well."

"And of course, you five most likely know about the two of us." Sunset stood up with Twilight close behind her. "Twilight Sparkle, and me, Sunset Shimmer."

"Sunset's been a really great friend to me," Twilight said. "She's always willing to forgive anyone who did something wrong, because she knows that everyone can be forgiven with a little encouragement." She sat back down again. "She's also from Equestria: the world I tried to open when I turned into that creature back at the Friendship Games."

"It's really nice to meet you all, girls," Sunset spoke to the five Shadowbolts. "Hopefully, we can all work together to stop the feud between the Changelings and the Defectors and make Crystal Prep a much brighter place."

"So, how do we get to stop those jerks, Sunset?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"Well, the first thing we've gotta know is exactly what we're up against here." Sunset put one of her hands to her chin. "Sunny. I don't suppose that we could perhaps see first-hand how these Defectors and Changelings work? See what makes them tick, and hopefully find a way to make them listen to reason without the need to fight?"

"But how would we do that, Sunset?" Sunny raised one of her brows. "Unless I'm mistaken, both Canterlot High School and Crystal Prep Academy run until fifteen past three, and both dismiss their students at the same time," she pointed out. "How would we be able to get seven girls from CHS into CPA for a few hours without you all catching a detention or some other form of punishment?"

"I think I have a plan..." Rainbow Dash's smile grew into a devious grin.

"This can't be good." Sugarcoat grimaced.

"I agree, Sugarcoat." Applejack nodded. "Tomorrow's gonna be a long day..."

Chapter 3: The Factions

"I still think that your little scheme is going to get us a week of detention, Rainbow Dash." Sunset said as she and her friends travelled through the corridors of Crystal Prep. "I mean, coming up with the lie that all of us came down with the common cold on the same day?"

"I know, right? It's the best way to get out of school!" Rainbow fist-pumped as she and Indigo led the way through the hallways.

"Technically speaking, the best way to avoid a day of school is if you actually contract a disease," Sugarcoat pointed out. "That way, you can avoid punishment and tell the truth at the same time."

"Aww, lighten up, Sugarcoat. You know that it's just a figure of speech," Indigo shrugged and put her hands behind her head. "I know that honesty is your thing, but you tend to take it a little too seriously sometimes."

"I can't help it, you know. My family does have some strict rules for me to follow." She adjusted her glasses once again.

"Anyway. Welcome to Crystal Prep, Rainbooms," Sunny Flare said. "One of the most prestigious schools in the whole country, if not the world," she smiled for a bit as she watched Sunset and her friends enjoy seeing what there was. "If you happen to be interested in any of our equipment, then we expected as such. Before she got fired, Cinch's reputation earned this school some of the finest stuff that the educational system had to offer."

"Whoa..." Rarity looked into one of the classrooms, where students were being taught about the periodic table of elements; however, she was more interested in what was projecting the table onto the board. "Is that a ZX Infinitum Spectra? Those things are almost impossible to find in schools these days."

"There are a lot of things that Crystal Prep has that most other schools don't," Sour Sweet put her hands to her hips. "I don't mean to brag, but it would take your schools a few years to even afford such amazing stuff like this."

"Focus, girls," said Sunset. "We came here to find out how bad the conflict is between the Defectors and the Changelings, not gawk at some high-tech stuff that belongs to Crystal Prep."

"I know. I know." Rarity pulled herself away from the window. "We do have a job to do here, after all."

"But what if those Defectors know who we are?" Fluttershy brushed some hair out of her face. "There had to have been some of them at the Friendship Games who never forget a face. If they find out, then..." She shivered and dived behind Applejack.

"Don't you worry, Fluttershy." She held her hand. "If those mean old bullies come running, we'll just high-tail it out of there."

"The fighting's been pretty gruesome lately." Sugarcoat pulled out a little piece of paper from her backpack and unfolded it. It eventually showed all of Crystal Prep, as well as the upper level. Most of the rooms had also been covered in purple pen ink, which she then pointed out. "All of these areas that I've marked are places that the Defectors have fought for and won. Everything else is still neutral territory, and can be freely used by the other students."

"But day by day, we're losing more ground to these thugs." Sour Sweet pointed at what used to be the art room on the map. "That place there? The Defectors just snatched it yesterday after that brawl in the cafeteria." She once again turned her smile into a frown. "I swear, if they get their grubby little hands on the archery field, I'm gonna..." she then stuttered and gritted her teeth.

"I think you should start with the Changelings first." Lemon Zest pointed towards one of the disciplinarians guarding the door to another classroom. "Those guys will be willing to listen to anyone—even if you're from Canterlot High."

"Alright then." Sunset walked up to the black-dressed Changeling. "Uh, hi there, sir." she said.

"Hey. Aren't you supposed to be in class?" The Changeling asked as he sternly looked Sunset in the eyes. "No students allowed outside of their classes without a hall pass, and no unauthorized ones trying to learn something that's not in their regime."

"Oh, it's no bother, sir. Me and my friends are just visiting for the day. My name's Sunset Shimmer, and I'm a student of Canterlot High. We're here to see just how bad the fighting is between the Changelings and the Defectors."

"You wouldn't want to hear it, girls." He brushed some dust off of his shoulders and looked back into the class he was guarding. "We have orders from Principal Chrysalis to maintain order in CPA, and eliminate any chance of a rebellion, outrage, riot, or other such insolence that would cause us to lose her and have her replaced with someone worse."

"But we do want to know, sir. You see, we want to try and stop this senseless fighting between you and the Defectors."

"So, you want to sign yourselves up to become Changelings as well?" The guard raised a brow. "We could always use more hands in this fight against those brutes."

"N-no! It's not like that!" Sunset shook her hands frantically.

The guard's brows lowered. "Well, you're either a Changeling or a Defector, Sunset. And my advice, I would advise that you choose us over those beasts, or we will make your lives a living nightmare every time you try and pull something funny..." He cracked his knuckles.

"We're not going to be Changelings or Defectors, sir." Applejack stood in front of Sunset with her friends standing beside her. "In fact, we're going to try and end the fight between ya'll by ourselves."

"You do realize that Defectors usually never listen to the other students here? In this school, they are the electricity to our water. And if you combine the two, the pain will channel and intensify more and more, hurting everyone who so much as gets involved with the combination."

"Basically, if we try and get everyone to come together, you're all just going to fight and the other students are going to get hurt either way?" Twilight stepped forward, but she was wearing some brand new clothes. She was now wearing a purple skirt and socks, with a black jacket and pink shoes. Her hair was now tied up in a ponytail, but she had still kept her glasses.

"Twilight? Is that you?" The guard almost fell to the ground as he noticed her.

"Yes. It's me," she nodded.

"I never thought you'd come back to Crystal Prep after what happened at the Friendship Games." The guard shook her hand. "I'm so sorry you had to see your former school turn into a battleground between bullies and disciplinarians."

"I do admit that it's a shock, but I'm willing to be here as much as I can to help the Shadowbolts and my friends try to fix the damage they caused."

"Anyway. If you're going to try and reason with the Defectors, you're gonna need to blend in with them," the Changeling said. "If you can infiltrate their ranks and learn some more about them, then maybe we can try to find another way to fulfil their demands and stop their hatred towards the other students." He pulled out a map from his right pocket and pointed towards a room at the very top of the building. "That is Principal Chrysalis's office, the cornerstone of our organization. If you can all get up there and tell her that you want to go undercover, then we'll do all that we can to make sure that you all look the part as well."

"I'm all for getting the low-down on those bullies, but why do we have to sneak in to their numbers to do it?" Applejack raised one of her fingers. "Surely, there must be a better way to do this."

"The Defectors have burnt bridges with every other Crystal Prep student not wearing a uniform. They won't even lift a finger towards a student unless it's to punch them in the face or gut, steal their stuff, or make them cry in pain. I know it's hard, but this is the best and only way you'll learn more about them."

"It just doesn't seem right," Sugarcoat sighed. "Not only would we have to don the clothes of our enemies, but we'd also have to lie them as well. And if this mission of ours fails, the Defectors could very well hospitalize you like they did with Twist a while back."

"You're saying that you won't do it, Sugarcoat?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"I'm saying that I can't do it, regardless of whether it'll help or not. Listen, I know it's complicated, but you'll have to trust me on this. I've never told a lie since my birth, and there's a very good reason why."

"Why's that, Sugarcoat?" Indigo asked.

Sugarcoat took another deep breath, then readjusted her glasses. "Ever since my father was cheated on by his first wife, he kicked her out of the house, shouting that liars were the worst people on the planet, and who deserve no sympathy or redemption."

"What happened to him?"

"He remarried. This time to a woman named Make Easy, my mother." she looked to the ceiling "The two of them swore on a golden rule that was never to be broken: A lie is a thousand times worse than the truth, and anyone who sugarcoated, beat around the bush, or fudged the numbers on anything would be severely punished. This applied to him, his wife, our youngest daughter, and me.

"And for years and years, it worked. We had been honest on everything. Our opinions on the news of the world, how we felt about people on television, the scores on our tests, what we ate, everything."

"I've heard of honesty before, but that just seems unfair." Applejack pulled her hat off of her head. "Everyone has to lie on something, even if they know the truth would hurt them more."

"But that's just the way we are, Applejack. Beat Bush, Make Easy, Fudge Numbers, and I have not uttered a single rumour, red herring, or lie in our lives; not even when we were three years old or younger. To us, honesty isn't just the best policy, it's the law..." Sugarcoat looked towards the ground. "But to tell you the truth, I'm sick and tired of having to live under my family's ways."

"What? Why's that?"

"I feel like no matter what I say, I'll constantly have to hurt others by telling them the truth. Whether I try to be kind or not, the one thing that'll destroy or prevent me from friendships is how brutally honest I have to be." She hung her head and cried a single tear. " Sometimes, I wish that I was born with a different set of parents..."

"Hey. Don't feel down about your upbringing, Sugarcoat." Sunset put her hands on the silver-haired girl's shoulder. "Your parents raised you that way because they care about you, not just because they want to give you some harsh rules."

"Are you sure?" she wiped her eyes.

"They're just doing what's right for you. Sure, liars are terrible people and that they've hurt lots of others with their actions and words, but you must understand that your mom and dad are making sure you grow up so that you never become one." Sunset put her arm around Sugarcoat's shoulders. "No matter what is said and done, at the end of the day, Beat Bush and Make Easy love you and your little sister with all of their heart, and that's all you can really ask from parents like that."

"Thanks, Sunset..." Sugarcoat sniffled and slowly began to smile. "Coming from you, that makes me feel better about myself."

"You're welcome. Anything to help out a friend in need," she patted Sugarcoat's back.

"We're friends?" Indigo asked.

"Why wouldn't we be?" Fluttershy asked. "I do agree there was some tension between our schools back at the Friendship Games, but your dream for a better tomorrow, and the fact that you came to us for help is a sign that not every Crystal Prep student is a jerk, and that's something that we can all appreciate."

"Thanks," said Sunny Flare. "I know that there was a lot of things we did in the past to give you a bad first impression of us, but beneath all of that, we're just like you in a way. Harmless teenage girls, brought together by a common cause and who all want everything to be peaceful and friendly."

"You know, I was a bit skeptical about you all at the start of this, but you girls really do seem like you want Crystal Prep to change," Rainbow Dash held out her hand. "I'm sorry if I ever doubted you, Shadowbolts."

"It's alright, Rainbow Dash. We accept your apology." Sour Sweet shook hands with her but then pulled her close. "But if you backstab us, I'll personally show you a world of pain..." she whispered.

As the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts shook hands with each other, the bell rang, and the students of Crystal Prep walked out of their classrooms and flooded the corridors.

"Anyway, you'd better get to Chrysalis's office if you want to learn about the Defectors." The Changeling stepped away from the door to let the students he was guarding out. "And watch yourselves on the way up, girls. They're in a really bad mood today after they lost the pool."

"You have a pool here?" Pinkie Pie leapt towards Lemon Zest.

"Yeah. We should show you around for real once we fix this," she smiled.

"Are you sure that we can't just go up to them and try talking to them?" Fluttershy asked as the group started to walk towards Chrysalis's office.

All of a sudden, they saw another student being cornered by Defectors before she was pulled away from the locker she was backed up against. They opened it up and threw her inside of it, locking it up tight so that she couldn't get out. As the student banged against the steel for help, the thugs laughed and walked away.

"Definitely not while they plan on brutalizing students like that." Rarity waited until the Defectors had all left before unlocking the locker and letting the student out. "It might be the worst way to do it, girls, but we need to speak with Chrysalis and go in as double agents if we want to learn about our enemies."

"This is going to go horribly wrong..." Sunset facepalmed as she and the girls walked towards the office.

"Well, here we are, girls." Twilight and the group arrived at the door to Chrysalis's office. It was tall, and had multiple chairs sitting by it, on the off chance that students were required to wait for their parents to finish talking with the principal, or if they needed to wait their turn in case she had multiple appointments. "I might have spent a month at Canterlot High, but I still know CPA like the back of my hand."

"Wouldn't there be some more Changelings here to defend her?" Sunset had noticed that there was not a single disciplinarian in sight. Not even one behind them at the bottom of the stairs. "If this is where she operates, wouldn't this be the most heavily-guarded room in all of Crystal Prep?"

"The Defectors might have lots of allies, but they're not stupid," Sour Sweet said. "The Changelings lock the door from the inside out, and you can only get in by knocking on the door and proving that you're not with those jerks." She rapped on the door for a second, then stood back. "Only time they're in here is if Chrysalis is giving them a stern punishment."

"Who's there?" A Changeling said from the other side. "Identify yourself."

"Sour Sweet, Sugarcoat, Lemon Zest, Indigo Zap, Sunny Flare, and friends," Sugarcoat said. "We want to talk with Chrysalis."

"Defectors follow you?"


"Are you an agent for them?"

"No! That's ridiculous."

"We'll see about that..." He unlocked the door then opened it to eye up the twelve girls. His hostility quickly evaporated when he saw that they weren't wearing uniforms. "Oh. You're not with those scum after all. My bad, come on—" he then noticed Twilight "—Twilight? Twilight Sparkle?! I thought that you'd transferred to CHS!"

"These five students approached us as we just came out of school yesterday," Twilight stepped forward. "They told us everything, except for why the Defectors are pursuing their goal for conquest of Crystal Prep."

"Well either way, it's good to have you back here, Twilight. Even if this may just be temporary." The Changeling stepped aside and allowed the girls to walk inside Chrysalis's office.

When the group all walked inside Chrysalis's office, the first thing they saw was the solid oak desk with pencil and pen holders on top. There was a single stool in front of the desk, which paled in comparison to the massive revolving chair that Chrysalis was sitting on on the other side. She had her back turned towards the twelve girls at the moment, though, as she was busy commanding Changelings all across the school with a series of computers at the back of the room.

"Principal Chrysalis." The Changeling who had unlocked the door stepped towards her and bowed. "You have guests. Five Crystal Prep students and seven friends of theirs."

"Supply them with additional chairs. Make sure that our talk is comfortable," Chrysalis said, her voice soft and seductive.

"Yes, ma'am." He nodded and then ran off out of the room to fulfill her request.

When Chrysalis heard him leave the room, she moved her chair towards the desk and span it around to face the students. She was now clearly visible in the single light hanging above her head. A black-skinned woman with dark green hair, black lips, and green eyes. She was dressed in a black dress with long green socks poking out of her leather shoes.

"It's been an awful long time since Crystal Prep brought over guests from Canterlot High School," Chrysalis's voice was as cold as the arctic north as she addressed the Shadowbolts and Rainbooms. "Despite what you may think of us, I want you to know that our school has changed for the better since I took over. The only thing that stands in the way of a truly harmonious school now are the Defectors."

"We know that," said Sunset. "In fact, we were hoping that we could help you in trying to turn Crystal Prep into a better school."

"Well, aside from supplying me with more helping hands in fighting these brutes, I don't really see how the twelve of you can make a difference." Chrysalis opened a drawer on her desk and wrote her signature on a form. "Pep rallies, parades, parties, none of it will work against these mindless thugs."

"Which is why we need to know exactly why they're fighting like this, so we can find out if there's a better way to stop this senseless fighting," Sunny Flare spoke up. "Now I know that you want us all to do our best, Principal Chrysalis, but I feel like with these Defectors, the students here are too afraid to live freely, and will have to pick a side in the conflict eventually."

"I've tried talking with their leader, Blueblood, but he and his followers aren't really in a mood where they want to discuss things, or even listen to what we have to say first. If we can't subjugate this brawling, then we'll simply have to take drastic measures."

Applejack shuddered as those words echoed in her head. "Well, let's hope that it doesn't come to that."

"But if you all came in together, students from both schools who have the same goal in mind, it can't just be a coincidence." Chrysalis put her hands together and lowered both of her eyebrows as she slipped the pen back into the holder. "Who are you seven? And what do you have in mind for defeating the Defectors?"

"Our names are Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and me, Sunset Shimmer," she said, pointing each of them out. "We want to know all about the Defectors, preferably in a way that doesn't get us hurt."

"Well, we can't tell you much aside from how it all began." Another Changeling stood beside Principal Chrysalis and took off his helmet, revealing himself to be a strong brown skinned male with black spiky hair and red eyes. "The thought of the Defectors started out in the assembly that happened the day after Abacus Cinch was fired. Blueblood was the first one to call her out, and other students who shared his visions blindly joined him."

"A few days after that, we received reports that students were wearing the old uniforms and attacking other students without pity or remorse," Chrysalis took over. "Of course, the Defectors received detention for their actions, but that only served as an invitation for more and more attacks, to the point where not even I could keep track of it all."

"They sent Chrysalis a few furious messages by graffitiing some of the walls of Crystal Prep, making their mark on the lockers they used, and even having the students they beat up call out their group name in agony. When we had identified the Defectors as a threat to the safety of the students at Crystal Prep, the Changelings were created to counteract any kind of brutish behaviour and restore order to CPA."

"Despite our efforts to maintain peace, however, the Defectors only keep pressing their advantage in trying to defeat us. All of the times we strike them, they hit us back even harder. It's only a matter of time before their influence encourages other students to join them out of fear, fear that they'll be hurt each and every day unless they defect themselves and add to Blueblood's cause."

"Then there's no time to lose, Chrysalis!" Rainbow Dash slammed her hand down on the desk. "We gotta get in, learn about what they're fighting for, then get out before they start asking too many questions about us."

"But in order to do that, we're going to need to pass ourselves off as Defectors," Sunset said, provoking a long five second silence from the entire room. She eventually broke it by saying, "We won't join them entirely—just until we know what they're up to. Then, we'll report back to you with the details."

"And by the time the Defectors know that they were lied to and had their goal exposed, the Rainbooms will be out of CPA faster than you can say checkmate." Indigo smirked as she crossed her arms.

"I appreciate the idea, but that is a dangerous mission, and that we've already put enough students of Crystal Prep through this nightmare," the other Changeling said. "I don't think we need to add to the pain by letting you suffer as well."

"I agree with Black. This will be dealt with in the matter that I see fit." Chrysalis revolved her chair back towards the computers. "But before I let you all go out, I want you to know that I'm denying you this mission for your own safety, girls. If you all got hurt outside of CHS boundaries, then not even Celestia or Luna would be able to help you out. I do hope that you all understand."

"No, wait!" Sunset reached out to try and break through to Chrysalis. "Please. Just hear us out for one minute."

"Listen, ladies. Principal Chrysalis is in no mood to talk now, especially since we've got Defectors moving in on the music room now," Black spoke sternly to the girls. "I know that you mean well, but this is too big of a risk for you to take."

"Black is right, girls." Another Changeling stood next to him. "The second those Defectors find out that you're from Canterlot High School, they'll be all over you like wolves, ripping and tearing away at you until you finally collapse and end up either dead, or near death."

"There's just no reasoning with them." Sunset brought her friends into a huddle. "They seem so stressed with how much fighting's been going on that they're not even considering letting others attempt to fix this."

"Well, whether we're getting through to Chrysalis and her team or not, we are going into Defector territory undercover, and we are getting that intel," Rainbow Dash was determined to proceed, despite being denied by the Changelings.

"Thank you for your time, Chrysalis." Sugarcoat broke out of the huddle first. "We'd better be going now."

"Yes. Good idea, you five." Chrysalis didn't look back, but she did wave them off. "Even within the midst of all of this chaos, you should still be allowed to graduate with heads full of knowledge."

The girls all waved back before they exited the room, hearing the door being locked behind them the second it was closed.

"So, what now?" Fluttershy asked. "We failed to get permission from Chrysalis. So how are we gonna get to talk to the Defectors now?"

"Principal's orders or not, we need to know how to stop this fighting," Sunny Flare had decided on a plan of action. "Sugarcoat, Lemon, Indigo, Sour, Twilight, do you have extra copies of your old CPA uniforms?"

"We have the ones we had before this little feud, but I'm not sure that they'd fit around the Rainbooms." Sour Sweet examined the girls from CHS very closely, mainly checking out their hips and stomachs.

"Either way, we need to get these six dressed up in Defector clothing so that they can infiltrate the ranks and learn what we need to know," said Sugarcoat. "Time's running out, and I'm worried that we could be facing a school-wide war between the Defectors and the Changelings if we can't stop this.

"Sunset Shimmer. I know that these times are hard, but you must understand that this is the only way that we can stop this dispute," her brows lowered. "You and your friends are going to have to put on your absolute best impersonation of Defectors if you want to keep yourselves undercover and learn why they're fighting." She could hear the grunts of a male, followed by the faint sound of a punch to the chest and a female cry of anguish. "If they so much as pick up on any qualms, questions, or disapprovals of what they're planning, then the whole mission will be a bust, and we'll have to get you out of there. It that doesn't work, we'll notify the Changelings," she then turned to face Fluttershy. "This especially applies to all of your friends. If you break character, that's it. Game over."

"I know the stakes, but we don't have a choice," Sunset sighed. "This whole thing is making me sick to my stomach already."

"It's even worse than anything that happened to CHS in the past." Rarity balled her hands into knuckles. "And I simply cannot stand to see such a pristine school like yours fall into the hands of these monstrous ruffians. If I have to act, then I shall, and with dignity and aplomb!"

"I'm less for the idea, but if I have to do it to stop the fights, then I'll do it," Fluttershy whispered as she hung her head.

"So it's settled?" asked Sugarcoat.

"Yes," Sunset nodded with her friends. "We need to end this now before it spirals out of control."

"Alright. Meet us at the boutique in an hour, girls." Indigo and the other Shadowbolts ran off. "We'll give you the whole plan as soon as you get changed!"

As the Rainbooms watched their five new friends vanish from sight, they walked down the stairs and towards the doors of Crystal Prep. Now that they knew the severity of their situation, as well as the risks that came with breaking character, they were thinking about whether or not they would be able to blend in with the bullies. They all walked out of the academy with the same thought. If they messed up, there would be no second chances.

Author's Notes:

Twilight's new clothes are seen in this picture, on the far left. Also, bonus Sunset vectors came with it.

Chapter 4: Looking the Part

"I'm all for dressing up in Defector clothing to look the part, but do we really have to have our hairs done as well?" Rarity asked as the Shadowbolts walked her and her friends towards the nearby barbershop. The Rainbooms were now dressed in the old CPA uniforms, which had been generously loaned to them by the Crystal Prep girls.

"The Defectors might be able to pass you off if you wear the clothes, but they could very well recognize your hair. Especially yours, Rarity." Sugarcoat examined the hairstyles of Sunset Shimmer and the rest of her friends as they all turned a corner. "If you're truly going to go undercover, then it's only logical that you also have a new hairstyle that goes with the new clothes."

"But it's not just the hair that's going to need to change if you're going to fool them," Sunny Flare added. "To truly become Defectors, you will need to cast aside your pity for the CPA students, become rough-and-tumble bruisers, and show your undying loyalty to whatever they have planned."

"What Sunny's trying to say is that you girls are gonna have to go through some acting as well." Indigo put her hands behind her head. "But don't worry about that now. First order of business is to make you our eyes and ears for those bullies."

Eventually, the girls had all arrived at a lone building that stood out with a single barber pole hanging out from the wall. The constant spiral of red and white colours was mildly hypnotizing to the group as they approached the establishment.

The interior of the shop was very well-kept. The black and white tile floors did have some hairs on them, but they were almost immediately swept up and disposed when the staff caught notice of it. All of the equipment was neatly lined up in front of the chairs, and both the hand and large mirrors were free of mist, grime, and streaks.

The staff, who were all wearing white shirts with black suspenders, were clipping the hairs of their current customers, making sure not to cut off large chunks or damage it. They neatly applied sprays of water, combed the hair up, held up the strands, and safely cut them away.

"I know that you girls are all fond of your current hairstyles, but you have to understand that this is one of the only ways we're gonna get you into the ranks of the Defectors." Twilight looked in the mirror at her new hairstyle. It took her a while to appreciate because of the many thoughts buzzing in her head, but she finally smiled as she saw how much different she looked.

"As soon as this is over, you can put your hair back the way you like it," Sunny Flare watched as the Rainbooms to sit down in the waiting area. "And don't worry if you feel like you can't act. We'll talk you all through it."

Another member of staff had noticed the twelve girls waiting and came over to greet them. "Well, hello there," he said. "My name is Skin Deep, and I would like to personally welcome you to our humble little barbershop." He pulled out a little notepad and pencil. "So, what can I put you girls down for?"

"Actually, what hairstyles will we need, girls?" Sunset asked Sugarcoat and the rest of the Crystal Preppers.

"I think we have a few ideas..." Sugarcoat smiled.

"Not to act like the sour grape in all of this, but I feel ridiculous." Applejack facepalmed as she examined her new look in the mirror. She was now devoid of her hat, and now had a green apple hairclip in place of it. Her hair was slightly more curled as it fell down her neck and shoulders.

"Do I really have to do this?" Fluttershy watched as a few strands of her hair were dyed black. Afterwards, they were brushed down and straightened. "I'm not a meanie like those Defectors are. They'll see straight through me. Oh. I'm just going to be a liability to the team, aren't I?"

"It'll be fine, Fluttershy." Indigo put a hand on the shivering girl's shoulder. "You're not gonna get busted. We'll make sure of that."

A loud scream resonated throughout the shop as Rarity was finally allowed to see herself. Her traditional curled hair had been straightened to the point where it would remain like that forever. "I look atrocious!"

"Chill out, Rarity." Rainbow Dash helped her off the chair. "I don't like it either, but do you really see me whining and complaining about it?"

"But I look like someone who's been out of style for years! How could I possibly feel better about—" it was then that she noticed Rainbow's new hairstyle. It was no longer her usual look, and was now curled up, like monstrous teeth trying to eat her "—oh. I stand corrected. Forgive me for my outburst, Rainbow Dash."

"How do we look, girls?" Applejack asked as she approached Sugarcoat and Sunny Flare.

"Wow. I think we even impressed ourselves with this plan," Sunny looked on with a smile at how much different the girls had become. If it weren't for their voices and faces, they almost could have been mistaken for entirely different people. "You've definitely got the look down, Applejack. Now you've just gotta play a convincing act to get those Defectors to answer you."

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again, girls. Acting's not my strong point." Fluttershy blew one of the drooping strands of her new hair out of her face. "All it takes is one slip up, then those meanies will be after us as well as you. And if that does happen, it'll be impossible to make Crystal Prep a better place."

"Alright, say we do get into the Defectors' ranks and we put up a good act. But then they start something that they need everyone's help on." Sunset was having the hair on her back tied up in a ponytail with her Cutie Mark on it. "What do we do then?"

"You'll have to convince them that there are more urgent matters than fighting the Changelings that you need to attend to." Sugarcoat was quick to provide an answer. "The easiest way to do that is to tell them that you have things with your families or religions that cannot be avoided. This is the only way the Defectors let their allies free, and will be your metaphorical panic button for if you want to duck out of a brawl between Chrysalis's disciplinarians."

"Anyway, we're still waiting on Pinkie Pie." Lemon Zest saw that the staff were working especially hard on the pink girl. Chunks of hair were snipped off, and to their surprise, a lot of the objects that had been stowed away in it fell out as well. "Geez. Does she always do that?"

"It's Pinkie Pie. Best not to question it," Sunset chuckled.

Pinkie finally came out of the chair looking entirely different. Her hair was no longer poofy and bouncy as it was before, and was now entirely straight and tidy and had a small hairclip with an even smaller balloon on it. Her expression was still positive, but the way she looked was the complete opposite. It looked like she was a depressed punk who was smiling for the first time.

"Uhh, girls? Am I the only one who thinks Pinkie Pie looks the most different out of all of us?" Applejack examined Pinkie thoroughly. With the shortened, straightened, and negative-looking haircut, she looked like someone who had replaced her for a thug.

"I know, right?" Pinkie still had her hyperactive personality. "At first, I thought there's no way that my hair would ever lose it's pinkalicious style, but I guess I was wrong, huh?"

"Focus, Pinkie Pie." Sugarcoat put her hand on the girl's chin to calm her down. "You're gonna be caught on the spot if you act that way around our enemies."

"Aww man! You mean I gotta act like this?" Pinkie's smile immediately faded, and she put on a gruff voice. "Well that takes the fun out of this completely! Just another reason why Chrysalis has to fall!" she put her smile back on. "How was that?"

"It's a good start, but some of the Defectors are a little sadistic, and often laugh in the faces of their victims," Sour Sweet said before changing to her cruel side. "But when we finally win this conflict, who'll be laughing then?!"

"Patience, Sour Sweet." Sugarcoat helped the rest of the Rainbooms dust off some of the dirt on the uniforms. "We have all the time we need," she furrowed her brows once the deed was done. "Now that we've got our actresses, all we need now is to teach them how to act."

The lights were turned on in an abandoned warehouse where the Rainbooms and the Shadowbolts had agreed to do their training. The room was expansive, allowing plenty of space for each of the seven girls to work without fear of being isolated. The ceiling was also thirty or so metres from the ground—the kind of height that would be expected from a tall roller-coaster. The sounds of the footsteps of the five Crystal Prep students echoed throughout as they circled Sunset and the girls from Canterlot High.

"If this seems kinda hostile, then we're sorry in advance," Indigo said. "But just consider this as the first step in handling Defectors who surround you. You're gonna need to keep a cool head when these guys surround you. One sign of weakness, and they all get the jump on you. Just. Like..." She waited until Fluttershy sneezed before pouncing towards her, causing the butter yellow girl to yelp. "THAT!"

"If you find yourself in this position, wait until they talk to you, but don't lose your composure," Sunny Flare instructed. "They don't usually attack unless you make them angry, or if you quiver in fear at their menacing movements."

"Now, Twilight, since you and the rest of us are at the top of the Defectors' hit list, you're exempt from the training, but you may still watch to see how the girls get on," Sugarcoat looked into the distance to see the purple girl staring at the group of eleven teens with mixed emotions.

"You have the costumes and hairstyles, but that won't be worth anything without proving to those brutes that you're one of them," Sour Sweet spoke next. "If you're gonna get into their territory, you will need to throw away everything you know about friendship and the magic it holds. Become rough, become mean, become a monster. That way, you'll easily fit in and learn everything you need to know about them." As she and the other Shadowbolts continued to circle the Rainbooms, she had her gaze fixated on one girl in particular. "Fluttershy, you'll be going first."

"Umm... Okay." Fluttershy stood up slowly, then looked Sour Sweet in the eyes as the other Shadowbolts stopped what they were doing and allowed the two of them to stand together.

There was a long silence as Fluttershy and Sour Sweet took their places. The two girls looked each other in the eye before Sour let out a deep breath.

"Threaten me, Fluttershy," she said.

Fluttershy's eyes darted around the room before she finally looked back at her. "Me, bully you?"

Sour Sweet let out a small groan, "Threaten me."

"I'm not sure that this is the way to—"

"THREATEN ME!" Sour screamed at the top of her voice.

"Alright!" Fluttershy took some more breaths before curling both of her hands into fists. She sweated for a little bit before she swallowed and stepped towards Sour Sweet. "Hey there, um, little baby. I'm gonna, um, punch you unless you—"

"Oh, come on, Fluttershy, you've gotta act tougher than that." Sour had pushed Fluttershy backwards a little. "I mean, you're playing a Defector, not a doormat." She bent her front knee and took up her own attack stance. "You're acting tough, tenacious, intimidating. You want to be pushed around?! You're gonna be the one doing the pushing!" Her fists tightened up. "Now, threaten me!"

"That's enough, Sour Sweet!" Applejack called out from the background. "You're scaring her!"

Sour looked at the whimpering girl, then calmed herself. "I'm sorry, Fluttershy. It's just that this could be our one and only chance for finally stopping this fighting," her voice was mellifluous as she explained why she had been hostile. "There has to be no margin for error, from you and the rest of your friends."

"Sour Sweet's right. This needs to work if we're ever gonna find a way to stop this madness," Sugarcoat said. "You all need to learn that not everyone in the world likes you, and despite the fact that it's immoral, there are some times where we have to fight."

"But at the same time, you don't have to fight just to try and outdo your enemies," Indigo said. "There are times where you have to defend yourselves from them."

"Sorry, girls," said Applejack. "I guess it's just cause we're not really used to having physical fights." She stood up and took her hat off. "Every problem we've had at Canterlot High, including what happened at the Fall Formal, the Battle of the Bands, and the Friendship Games, we resolved them with of magic, not violence."

"Having to inflict pain on others, be it physical, psychological, or both only makes things worse," Sunset Shimmer said. "Only when we can truly reach out and connect with them can we understand their suffering and help them get over it. If we leave it to fester for too long, then who knows what they could do?"

"As Indigo said earlier, you have to forgive us if we're acting hostile towards you." Sugarcoat looked over at Twilight, who was still just watching. "Unlike Twilight, we don't know a whole lot about Friendship. The Games only shone a little light after that battle between the forces of light and darkness, but other than that, we've never taken the pacifistic route. And with the Defectors continuing to hurt the other students, it seems like we may never get the chance to take that road."

"But maybe together, we can show them that the true way to defeat your enemies is by making friends with them," Sunset smiled. "By coming to an understanding and bonding with them, we can help them to get over the ideas of violence and harm."

After another lengthy silence, Sugarcoat stepped forward. "Sunset. You're a noble girl with a big heart, and it's both an honour and a privilidge to have you and your friends with us," she said. "Your noble ways might just save Crystal Prep and you've got your friends to thank for it," she walked behind each of the Rainbooms. "We hope that you and the girls can still be our friends even after the Defectors are defeated."

"Of course," Sunset said. "Now, let's get back to the training."

When everyone had quietened down, Sour Sweet stepped backwards and allowed Fluttershy some breathing room. "If it makes it any easier, think about something horrible, and that I've just committed it. Like the murder of some cute little animals. How would you respond to that?"

"You murdered animals?!" Fluttershy immediately had fire in her eyes as she tackled Sour Sweet. "I'm gonna kill you, you piece of—"

"Okay! Okay!" she practically had to struggle to avoid being punched by Fluttershy at this point. She waited until the butter yellow girl came to her senses before she gently pushed her off and stood back up. "It's a start, I'll give you that. But the Defectors are only that hostile when they need to be."

"I know, and I'm sorry for tackling you like that, Sour Sweet." Fluttershy checked to see if she had made any bruises. "It's just that you provoked me and I had no choice but to do it."

"But that's okay, because most Defectors will do that if something makes them steamed," Sour Sweet walked her over to another part of the warehouse. "Now, let's try and improve your acting a little."

"I suppose that means we're left with the rest of you." Sugarcoat crossed her arms. "Indigo, you'll be teaching Sunset and Rainbow Dash, since they're logically going to be the easiest to work with."

"Sure. Two for the price of one can't be much different now, can it?" Indigo helped both Sunset and Rainbow off of their chairs and took them over to another different part of the warehouse.

"Lemon will teach Pinkie, whilst Sunny Flare does the same with Rarity," Sugarcoat continued, getting the four girls to stand up. "I'm putting your training regimes together, as Lemon Zest and I assume Pinkie Pie often get distracted. I trust that's not an issue for any of you?"

"It's fine, Sugarcoat." Sunny Flare escorted the others to yet another part of the warehouse. "I promise that by the time we're done, these two will be perfect Defector material."

"So that just leaves you with me, Applejack." Sugarcoat walked over and held out her left hand. "I have the most knowledge on these ruffians, so you should have the quickest session if you can master your role."

"Fine by me." Applejack took Sugarcoat's hand and stood up.

"If the time comes when you do have to fight, then you'll need to learn nothing more than the best." Indigo Zap wore a white coat with a black belt as she eyed up both Sunset and Rainbow. "At Crystal Prep, we're taught a number of self-defence courses after-school. They include Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, and my personal favourite, Jiu-Jitsu."

"How does learning martial arts defend you against Defectors?" Sunset asked, before she was pulled forward and thrown over Indigo's shoulder onto a crash mat in the distance.

"Like that, Sunset."

"So, how do we beat those jerks to a pulp if the going gets really tough?" Rainbow Dash raised a brow.

"I'll only teach you the basics for now." Indigo helped Sunset back onto her feet before having her reunite with Rainbow Dash. "If the Defectors really start to give you grief, I'll teach you some more advanced stuff. And the best part, this is free of charge," she smiled. "Consider it Crystal Prep's first step towards redemption."

Pinkie Pie and Rarity were casually leaning against the cold walls whilst Sunny Flare and Lemon Zest pulled out a small chalkboard and began to write. As the two girls from Canterlot High watched the two Crystal Preppers, they couldn't help but notice that one of them was missing her headphones.

"Indy might be teaching self-defence, but it's gonna take a lot more than that to truly become a Defector," Sunny Flare said. "Now, take note of the sentences we've written on the board for you." She stepped aside to reveal the messages she and Lemon Zest had written. "Change is a lie. Victory lies in defection. The rules do not bind our unbroken wills. These are just a few lines that those monsters yell out as a sign of loyalty and strength, and they're what you're gonna have to learn and recite by heart with joy if you want to slip into their numbers."

"First, we're gonna tell you them, then you'll have to take everything you've learned and slip it into your new guises." Lemon Zest folded her arms. "It's kind of like having a language lesson, don't you think?"

"Kinda, but we'll be learning to talk Defector," Pinkie smiled. "It's like we're in some kind of spy school!"

"It might seem a bit garish, I admit," Rarity let out a sigh. "But if it's to infiltrate the ranks of those heathens, then I might as well dirty my tongue with their philosophies."

"Good to hear it." Sunny Flare rubbed away the old sentences and began to write some new ones on the board. "Now, those are mere slogans for when the group is rallying themselves." She put the chalk down once she had finished. "Remember: What you say can be what you want, just as long as it's not giving away our espionage, or talking about mending fences with the Changelings and the students of CPA."

"Wait? When did mending fences get involved?" Pinkie Pie shrugged.

"It's a figure of speech, Pinkie," Lemon said. "But seriously, you will need to talk like a perfect Defector if you're gonna stand any chance of making in and out of there unharmed."

"Tell me, Fluttershy," Sour Sweet said. "What makes you angry?"

"Anyone who hurts an animal of any description, people who threaten the environment, terrorists who kill for their own gains, and just average bullies." Fluttershy listed each one them by pulling her fingers outward with her right hand. "Why do you ask?"

"I know that it goes against your name and nature, Fluttershy, but you will need to think that everyone around you is committing crimes against animals, nature, and life." Sour Sweet crossed her arms. "The Defectors are all about contempt for the common student, and usually act in a brutal fashion towards anyone who's not on their side." She started to pace back and forth. "Even weak and shy kids have been turned into violent fighters when under their command. Knowing you, it won't be hard for them to convert you from a wimp into a scrapper as well."

"Oh my..." Fluttershy's pupils dilated.

"What I'm going to teach you will ensure that you learn how to become mean, but not to the point where you'll be doing it for fun." Sour examined each of Fluttershy's arms, picking them up to check her strength, then let go and watched them flop back down her sides. "You'll need to learn to punch, how to hate the people you bully, and how to deny peaceful resolution. Basically everything they would have taught you anyway, but not to the point where they make you a sadist who longs to see the anguish of others."

"So, you want me to start picking on you?" Fluttershy asked.

"Yes," Sour spoke softly. "But don't worry. I won't get mad," she immediately lowered her brows. "Unless you start screaming profanities about me and my family, then I'll get furious," she quickly put a smile back on. "Now, let's see if you can threaten me better this time."

"What do you know about the Defectors, Sugarcoat?" Applejack turned one of her ears towards her.

"They always pick on the weakest students in the school, leaving the already big and tough guys until later, when they have more numbers to break their wills." Sugarcoat adjusted her glasses once again. "They believe in strength in numbers, complete control of Crystal Prep Academy, and will stop at nothing under the guidance of their king and queen."

"King and queen?"

"They dubbed the two most tactical students in their group to be their leaders. Led by Blueblood, who was the first to start talk about rebellion; and Starlight Glimmer, who supplied the Defectors with the uniforms as a sign of loyalty. All their orders are final, and they will not be so easily persuaded, unlike the others. If they notice that something's off, they will call it out. That includes if you and your friends fail to keep up their guises."

"Blueblood and Starlight?" Twilight walked up towards Applejack and Sugarcoat. "I heard they were exceptional, and just second to my scores on tests, but I never knew that they would be the ones leading the charge in this rebellion..."

"They immediately saw the negative side of Chrysalis's new rule in CPA, and the rules that she had abolished from Cinch's old regime." Sugarcoat briefly brushed her hair. "They rallied some of the students to take up arms and denounce her of her power as principal, and it didn't take long before they had enlisted twenty-eight percent of the school's students to be in the Defectors."

"Twenty-eight percent?!" Twilight stumbled backwards a little before Applejack helped her recover.

"And today, thirty-eight percent of the students belong to them, with another thirty-eight percent as Changelings," Sugarcoat sighed as she looked up. "As for the other twenty-four percent? They keep getting themselves caught in the crossfire." She took off her glasses and clenched them tightly in her right hand. "This has to stop, before the law has to get involved to put an end to it permanently..." After her brief moment, she returned the glasses to her eyes before putting her fingers together. "I'll tell you girls all that I know about them, as well as how to keep them off of your tail."

"Thanks, Sugarcoat." Applejack tipped her hat. "You know, you five are real nice for Crystal Preppers."

"The Friendship Games helped us see the light, and now we're striving for a better CPA, just like you all long for a perfect CHS," Sugarcoat smiled. "Hopefully, our two schools can come together again someday, but as friends instead of enemies..."

Each of the Canterlot High students took on everything that the Shadowbolts had to teach them. Every time that they had mastered what they needed to learn, Sugarcoat announced that they would switch places, so that each of them would learn all that they needed to know to perfectly disguise themselves as Defectors.

With every switch that was made, the students from both schools were smiling. Despite the fact that they were preparing for their own stealth mission, they were still glad to see that their rivals in the Games had finally met without the rivalry keeping them apart, and were helping them overcome each and every obstacle that stood in their path.

Twilight merely watched from the sidelines, with multiple thoughts running through her head as she picked up her backpack and let Spike out of it. She petted him, then sat down and sighed.

"What's wrong, Twilight?" Spike asked.

"Sorry, Spike. It's just that I'm nervous about how this could play out," Twilight looked him in the eyes. "If this goes horribly wrong, my friends could end up getting hurt, or even worse, being put in hospital!"

"Twilight. I know you, and I know your new friends as well. They won't fail. Especially not with your old classmates teaching them almost everything about the Defectors."

"But that's what's bothering me the most. These Defectors are nothing like Cinch ever was. They're about a hundred times worse, and are all about fighting, breaking the rules, and causing grief for the students in any way possible! We went from a vile principal with cold ambitions, to an rebellious group of students who fight for the thrill of it, in the hopes that they'll bring her back to power!"

"We'll beat them, Spike." Sugarcoat walked over and petted him softly. "Our little proteges are working quite well." She then picked him up and brought him to her face. "Trust me." She then gave him back to Twilight and returned to the rest of the Rainbooms, who were now sitting down on regular chairs.

Sunset, Rainbow, Fluttershy, Pinkie, Rarity, and Applejack watched as the Shadowbolts stood in a line once again. An third silence – being the longest one of all – was had until Sugarcoat stepped forward and cleared her throat.

"Final question. The Defectors are planning to drop cherry bombs into the toilets designated for Chrysalis, Dean Cadence, and the prefects of Crystal Prep," She said. "What is your response, and how will you show your devotion to the Defectors?"

"We agree to their heinous scheme, and point out the best times to plant the cherry bombs," Sunset Shimmer spoke up first. "However, to prove that we're truly on their side, we take all of the bombs and plant them ourselves. When they all detonate and those thugs see the staff reacting in surprise, they will hail us for what we did, and truly accept us into their community."

"You're ready," Indigo smirked.

"Really?" Rainbow asked.

"Yes. You're shown to each of us that you can be really mean when you want to, and that you all make good Defectors," Sunny Flare watched each of the girls stood up. "If anything, it's like we're looking at a world where you had enrolled at Crystal Prep during Cinch's time, and we were at Canterlot High instead of you."

"So, what's our plan?" Rarity looked at the Shadowbolts.

"The Defectors usually have little groups at each of the parts of the school they've taken." Sugarcoat showed them the map again with the areas still covered up in purple pen ink. "Art Room, Music Room, Gym, even the AV Room." She pointed each one out. "Now, while these places are their hotspots, we're going to get you into the biggest Defector site in the school: the cafeteria's mezzanine."

"Every Defector in CPA goes there during lunch period, with Starlight and Blueblood sitting at a single table where no-one else is allowed to sit, unless they're given special praise personally," Sour Sweet added. "You don't have to sit with the two of them, you can choose to sit where you like, but if anything, you should sit within large groups, so that you can persuade more of them. Make a big splash, not a small one."

"But it won't be easy, and if they catch you, they could very well kick you down the stairs and leave you injured like they did with Fleur yesterday," Lemon Zest warned them. "You will have to put on your best act to fool them, and gain their trust."

"But what happens if things get out of control?" Fluttershy raised a finger.

"We'll be contacting you at all times through these small earpieces." Sunny Flare held out six little earbuds that were just big enough to fit in the ears of the girls, but were small enough to avoid detection from the naked eye. "Sugarcoat and Twilight will keep a close eye on you using the special GPS chips in those little things." She watched as each of the Rainbooms slipped the small speakers into their ears. "If they catch you, say the codeword 'Game Over' and we'll pull the fire alarm. It's been modified to volumes that no Defector – not even Starlight and Blueblood – can handle."

"So when they catch you, give us the signal, and we'll deafen those meanies!" Lemon Zest fist-pumped. "Then we can get you out of those eyesores and slip you back into your real clothes before they even get a chance to recover."

"When do we start?" Sunset asked.

"Tomorrow at 12:50PM," Sugarcoat said. "That's the earliest we can begin."

"Well, I guess we'd better get ready." Sunset shook hands with each of the Shadowbolts. "See you tomorrow."

"One more thing, girls," Sugarcoat saw they were just about to walk out of the door, but her words had made them stop in their tracks. "Just because you act like Defectors, that doesn't mean you're not yourselves anymore," she said. "Be true to yourself, and when it's all over, you never have to think about having that persona again."

Sunset gave Sugarcoat, Indigo, Lemon, Sunny, and Sour smiles before she took Twilight and the rest of the Rainbooms out of the warehouse and back to their homes. However, as she looked back at the girls for the last time that day, a small part of her wished that there was another way to stop the feud between the Defectors and the Changelings.

Chapter 5: The Defectors

As Sunset Shimmer and her friends walked down the hallways of Crystal Prep once more, they couldn't help but feel a certain sense of danger. Each and every locker looked and felt cold to the touch. The ceiling seemed to be higher up than usual. The ground reflected their grimaces as they continued to step forward, and the classrooms that they gazed at all had one or two Changelings guarding them.

All of those thoughts did not shake the girls, however, as they were more focused on what the Shadowbolts had told them before they arrived.

"The Defectors are tough, girls." Indigo crossed her arms. "Before he was a Changeling, Black was harassed relentlessly by those guys until he eventually tried to defend himself." She looked at a picture on her phone showing her smiling with the student. "It was a losing battle from the get-go, and he decided that the only way to bring them down would be to work as one of Chrysalis's disciplinarians."

"If they surround you, they will most likely make an example of you to scare the other Crystal Prep students into joining them." Sugarcoat adjusted her glasses again. "They're following the most brutal rules of propaganda. By capturing and/or torturing other famous figures, it automatically clicks something in a person's mind, and makes them join out of fear—fear that they might be next to reach popularity and be broken down mentally and physically."

"But how will they think we're famous?" Sunset asked.

"They've heard about what Canterlot High School had to fight." Sunny Flare pulled out three separate newspapers, showing off all three of the events that CHS had hosted and were disrupted by Equestrian Magic. "The Fall Formal incident, the Battle of the Bands with three sirens, and the most recent one, the Friendship Games." She pointed each one out. "Each of these stories link to you and your friends, Sunset Shimmer. If the Defectors do see through your disguises, then you may not be able to leave Crystal Prep without the police having to get involved."

"Shouldn't the police be involved right now?" Rainbow Dash threw her arms out. "I mean, if they're using torture, mental reprogramming, violent threats, and other stuff to change students into Defectors, then shouldn't they all be arrested on the spot?"

"It's not as easy as you think, Rainbow Dash." Lemon Zest took off her headphones and put them away. Any sign of her being the carefree girl she usually was was long gone with her solemn frown. "That's almost forty percent of Crystal Prep that would have to be thrown into prison. If Chrysalis loses that many students, then she'll most likely lose her place as Principal on the spot. And that means..."

"The Defectors would win." Sunset scowled and tightened her hands into fists.

"As easy as it sounds, it would only get the board to bring someone else who could be just as bad, or even worse than Cinch ever was." Sour Sweet kicked the ground with the tips of her shoes before she gritted her teeth. "And I am not going back to that stupid dress code rule, let me tell you."

"Don't worry if you feel like you're walking blind." Twilight pulled out a laptop and put it down on the table in front of the Rainbooms. "I excelled in computing at Crystal Prep, as well as a number of other subjects, so I'll be able to watch every step you make." She pulled out six more earbuds from the bag, put them in the ears of her friends and herself, and turned on a switch. She then typed in some commands on the laptop, showing a digital map of the school, with six blinking dots that represented the Rainbooms. "There. Now we should be able to know where you are at all times, as well as hear everything you say and learn. If the Defectors start to chase you, we'll guide you to the closest escape."

"I wish we didn't have to sneak around like this," Fluttershy sighed.

"To tell you the truth, we don't want to do this either." Sugarcoat looked at the laptop. "But as long as the Defectors have bones to pick with the five of us, there's really no other way. It's awful, I know, but it's the only way we'll be able to know why they're fighting so hard, so that we can hopefully come up with a suitable compromise to end this."

"I still don't get why you came to us especially." Sunset Shimmer leaned back against the wall of the van that they had rented with their combined savings. "Aren't there other students at Crystal Prep that you could have asked for help?"

"They don't want to get caught up in the Defectors' business, so they tend to just pray that they don't cross paths with them," Indigo sighed. "It's kinda sad, really. None of your friends willing to help you, especially when you're against the entire school. It must make time at a high school really suck."

"Believe me, I know."

"Yeah. But we should be able to end this stupid fighting with you girls by our side."

"There's only one chance at trying to solve this little dispute, so there really has to be no mistakes whatsoever," Sunny Flare added. "If we lose control of the situation, Crystal Prep could be shut down, replaced with someone worse, or at the most, completely demolished without warning."

Shut down, replaced with someone worse, or completely demolished without warning... Sunset replayed that message in her head repeatedly. After the hundredth time, she finally returned to reality. "If we can't stop this, then not only would we lose Crystal Prep, but we could also lose the chance to patch things up between the students."

"That's not gonna happen, Sunset!" Rainbow Dash cracked her knuckles as she approached the cafeteria. "We need to stop the Defectors, even if we need to fight them trying!"

"But if we just fight them, it'll add fuel to the fire, and then we may never get the chance to fix this!" Sunset threw her arms out before she put them to her temples and groaned. "This is gonna be the hardest friendship problem in the history of this world!"

Applejack gently clutched Sunset's chest and felt her rapidly beating heart. "Take a deep breath, Sunset. You're just getting exaggerated because stopping the Changelings and the Defectors is a tall order," she said. "And that's perfectly fine. Sometimes, the bar is set pretty high, but as long as you believe that you can do it, then there's nothing to worry about."

"But what if we can't do it?" Sunset looked down at her feet. "I mean, the things we had to deal with at Canterlot High were also pretty big. The Fall Formal, the Dazzlings, the Anon-a-Miss incident, and the Friendship Games. But now we're dealing with restoring order to Crystal Prep—a school where only twenty-percent of the students are neutral, with all the others being locked in an endless loop of battle, profanities, and dominance," She sighed, then looked at her friends. "This has to be perfect. If one thing goes wrong, then the whole plan to save this school goes up in flames. And the worst part? We'd be letting down our new friends...

"And then there's the problem if the school gets shut down and/or demolished," she continued. "Every student that attended will have to relocate, including the girls who came to us for help. Their parents are going to be furious, and they may have to move to different states just to get an education that was somewhere on the level of this one." She was beginning to sweat vigorously. "If we fail to fix this problem, then everyone involved suffers. The Defectors lose their chance at a school run with discipline and order, the Changelings lose Chrysalis as she is forced to find another school, and the students will all need to find somewhere else to graduate. And it would all be our faults..."

"Sunset. We can hear everything you're saying, and it's obvious that you're stressed." Sugacoat's voice was distinguishable, despite it sounding slightly different from the speaker of the earbud. "If you don't feel like you can do this, we can arrange to have you pulled out of this plan and just have your friends blend in with the Defectors on their own," her voice was sweeter than usual. "You don't have to do anything that you don't want to, and we're definitely not forcing it on you."

"No, Sugarcoat," Sunset responded. "This has to be done, and I'm one-hundred-percent going to blend in as one of them."

"Are you sure?" Lemon Zest's voice came through next. "You kinda sound like you're really uncomfortable..."

"It's fine, Lemon. I'll be fine."

"For all of our sakes, we hope so..."

The cafeteria of Crystal Prep was still lively, with students all lining up to pay for whatever food that tickled their fancies. The Defectors had been the first served, and were already sitting on their mezzanine floor, eyeing up each and every student who stood in line, picked up their food, paid, and sat down.

Sunset Shimmer and the Rainbooms all walked into the cafeteria and instantly felt the decrease in temperature.. Despite the large number of students eating casually, it felt like she and her friends had all walked into a throne room, waiting for the king or queen to punish them for their crimes against the kingdom.

Rainbow Dash looked at the Defectors for a few seconds before she turned back and paid for her food with the rest of her friends. She shared glances with each of them before they walked up the stairs towards the uniformed students.

As they looked around, some of the students were quivering in fear as their gazes met. They hid under tables, braced themselves for a fight, or just got straight up and ran underneath the mezzanine for shelter.

"We're walking up the stairs towards the Defectors tables," Rainbow Dash whispered.

"Okay, I've got you on the screen." Twilight tapped away at her laptop, revealing the six dots going up the stairs towards the tables. Sugarcoat was analyzing the fire alarms on the school's blueprints whilst Sunny Flare and Sour Sweet were looking for the quickest way out of the school if the Defectors uncovered them.

"If this mission goes wrong, Indigo Zap and Lemon Zest are already standing by at two fire alarms," Sugarcoat spoke through the microphone on Twilight's headphones. "Just say Game Over, and we'll have them set them off. The noise will cripple the Defectors, giving you just enough time to get out of there and make your way towards the closest emergency exit."

"Thanks, Sugarcoat," Applejack's voice came through now.

"Remember, aggressive behaviour, the need to destroy the Changelings, and contempt for the common student at CPA," Sour Sweet's voice came out of the earbuds as the girls made it to the top of the stairs and were met with two Defectors. "That'll win them over so you can make them spill the beans."

"Hey!" A Defector with black hair approached the girls with a casual smile on his face. "Nice to meet you! My name's Neon Lights, and I'm so glad that you decided to join our cause in the fight against the Changelings." He shook hands with each of the Rainbooms before standing aside. "Take a seat, mingle with some of the others, and just have a good time," his voice turned venomous. "You're gonna need it for when those soldiers try to fight us again!"

"Geez, and I thought Sour Sweet had issues..." Sunny Flare spoke.

Sunset Shimmer and her friends eventually found a round table with a lone Defector eating with chopsticks. They quickly sat down at his table and slowly put their trays down.

"Who are you?" the Defector asked in an asian accent, raising his eyes from his food.

"Sunset Shimmer, Rainbow Dash, Pinkamena Diane Pie, Applejack, Rarity, and Fluttershy." Sunset pointed out each and every one of her friends. "We're here to join the Defectors."

"So, you're in for a slice of the pie too?" He smiled as he took a quick drink. "Yeah. You made the right choice, girls. The Defectors have never been stronger." He put his hands behind his head. "AV team, jocks, wimps. All of them turned into pure warriors who hate the Changelings and Principal Chrysalis with a burning passion. No-one else would dare to even touch us."

"Now, I don't mean to ask this, but we're new to this school," Applejack had difficulty getting the words out, but she swallowed and continued. "Just transferred this morning, and we noticed that it's either bully or be bullied, right?"

"Yeah. That's pretty much the long and short of it." He curled some more noodles around one of his chopsticks before picking it all up with the other. "Ever since our previous Principal, Abacus Cinch, was fired from the board on unreasonable terms, Chrysalis came to this school and said that she couldn't do as good as her, but she would try." His brows dropped. "In CPA, there is no try, only do. We knew from the moment she said those words that she was doomed to fail miserably. So naturally, it's only fair that one of us would cry out in saying that she's not up for the task."

"But why would they ever do that?" Fluttershy did her best to keep her voice as gravelly as possible, but she was speaking like she was the same girl she was underneath.

"Because Crystal Prep has a reputation, and it needs to stay upper-class and all kept in line for that reputation to remain pure and unscathed," the Defector said. "Without order, there is chaos, and chaos leads to laziness, stupidity, and utter failure. We must. Remain. Strict. That is the only way that Crystal Prep should work. It was, partially is, but always will be a harsh school where rule-breaking of any kind will not be tolerated, or forgiven."

"How did the rebellion with the Defectors start?" Pinkie Pie huffed, as if she didn't care about the question. "It's obvious that someone's been a little pouty since Chrysalis took over."

"Funny thing you should mention that, Pinkamena, because I was going to tell you anyway." The male took another sip of his drink and wiped his mouth before continuing. "It started with Blueblood. He was one of the best students in CPA, alongside that of Twilight Sparkle who left after the Friendship Games. He was the one who first fought back against Chrysalis's rules by defacing the entire lobby," he smirked. "You should have seen it for yourself. There was graffiti all over the walls and lockers. It said stuff like Down with casuality! or Take back the Crystal Prep ruled by Cinch! Something like that.

"Anyway. Blueblood inspired us to rise up and fight for our school," he went on. "He is a hero to all of our faction, and he has been appointed the king of the Defectors." He then showed off his pristine Crystal Prep uniform. "These uniforms here were given to us by the student-body president, Starlight Glimmer. She too believes in Blueblood's morals, and we made her the queen for her gracious contribution to our cause." He let out a content sigh as he put his hands behind his head. "Yeah. With those two ruling us, we're gonna win this battle with the Changelings.

"Anyway, I'm sure you're interested to know who I am after all of this time we've spend talking." He put his chopsticks down and walked over to shake hands with each of the Rainbooms. "My name is Red Letter, I'm an asian exchange student, and I'm a Defector until the end, much like everyone else here. But that's not the point now. What I want to know is of what benefit will you girls be to our cause?"

Rainbow Dash took a drink and stood up. "We've been trained in a number of martial arts, we know how to fight, and we'll be handy for when those Changeling jerks get the drop on you."

"We're also very persuasive," Fluttershy added.

"Loyal," Rarity chimed in.

"Mean when we have to be," Pinkie's voie remained gruff.

"Appalled with Chrysalis's regime," Applejack spoke up.

"And we want to help you defeat her and bring order back to Crystal Prep," Sunset lied last.

"I don't care about your loyalty, girls. I care about your experience." Red Letter took a bite of the prawn cracker that he had dipped into his food. "You might not know this, but the Defectors are a highly-regarded team. We don't just take stragglers." He then looked over to the far wall and waved his hand to another male. "Hey! Jet Set! Bring our new friends another round!"

"Just keep talking to him," Twilight said. "They've revealed that they want order, but there's gotta be more to it than that."

"On that subject, why do you want to defeat the Changelings and Chrysalis?" Applejack raised an eyebrow. "I mean, aside from proving that this is a proper school?"

"Well, it's also being fought to spite our former champions, the Shadow Six." Red Letter pulled out a picture of Sour Sweet, Sugarcoat, Lemon Zest, Sunny Flare, Indigo Zap, and Twilight; who was barely visible in the background. "They abandoned us the second that Chrysalis came into power. They could have been leading the charge to end this menace, but they shot us down instead!" He raised his voice. "But I think that given the large numbers we've amassed, it's better to watch those children suffer than to have them join us by asking or force. They know nothing of order and discipline, and will leave Crystal Prep before this battle is over. Only then will the school weaken, and we will be victorious!"

"Why would they hold this grudge?" Sour Sweet's voice came through all of the earbuds. "Keep him talking, girls. We need to get to the bottom of this ASAP."

"Why are you fighting those ruffians, Red Letter?" Rarity was the next to ask.

"Those girls were our best bet to win the Friendship Games." Red Letter watched as Jet Set put the drinks out, but accidentally spilled some on Pinkie Pie's side of the table. This in turn caused him to jerk his head and deliver a left hook to the other Defector, knocking him to the floor. "You stupid fool! You would dare soil the uniform of another Defector?!"

"Easy, easy, Red. We're not looking for trouble," Rainbow tried to quell him. "We just want to know why you hate the Shadow Six."

"The Shadow Six don't mean nothing to us anymore!" Red Letter snapped back at the girls. "Where were they when the games were over, Cinch got the boot, and the school took a turn for the worse?! Huh?!" He banged his fist on the table. However, after seeing that his guests were now shaking, he raised his arms and calmed down. "I'm sorry. It's just that it's been tough on all of us because they ditched us. We all want to win this fight, but without those six girls strengthening us, there's just no guarantee that we can."

"What makes them such a valuable asset?" Sunset asked.

"Sugarcoat and Twilight Sparkle had the brains, Sour Sweet and Indigo Zap had the brawn, Sunny Flare was one to give morale to our people, and Lemon Zest? Well, she's the only one who brought fun to this place..." He sighed and took a seat once again, taking a slower drink this time. "But things have changed now. The past is in the past. And I know that when you can't get who or what you want, you have to get someone or something on a level equal to the ones you couldn't have." He opened up a fortune cookie and pulled out the paper. "How ironic. It's what my fortune is as well." He put the paper down and ate the cookie part. "Alright. Let's see what you girls can do as Defectors. Maybe we can work something out."

"That's all we ask." Sunset shook Red Letter's hand.

"Is it now?" A female voice spoke up, causing the entire room to fall silent.

Two students approached the table with Red Letter and the Rainbooms. One of them was a male who had combed down blonde hair and white skin. The other one was female, and had purple hair with green stripes that split apart at the centre of her forehead, with a bun at the back that extended out into a ponytail. Both of them were wearing Defector clothing, but they also had a queen and king's crown resting on their heads.

"Queen Starlight! King Blueblood!" Red Letter jumped from his chair. "This is, uh... unexpected," he said sheepishly. "We didn't think that you would interact with other Defectors today."

"And we did not think that the Canterlot High Rainbooms would make one either." Blueblood shot a glare at Sunset Shimmer and her friends.

"Whoa, man. Whatever you think we might be here for, you're wrong." Sunset stood up and held her hands out in a harmless gesture. "We're just here to talk with your people, that's all."

"Talk with us? After what you fools pulled at the Friendship Games?!" Blueblood shouted. "It's all your fault that magic had to get involved, and that the games took an entirely different path than what had been predetermined!" he scowled. "You used magic, you caused Twilight to unleash it, and it was ultimately your meddling that got Principal Cinch fired, and for Chrysalis to take over this place. THIS CANNOT BE FORGIVEN!" He screamed at the top of his lungs as he got right in Sunset's face.

"Why would you assume it was our fault?" Fluttershy reverted to her timid state, knowing full well that their cover had been blown.

"Your track record alone is a clear sign that you are freaks of nature, girls," Starlight Glimmer took over for Blueblood. "You and your pony wings, pony ears, and pony tails that come out of your backs. It's safe to say that you're no ordinary girls, and that you've ultimately used this power to stop what was supposed to be another win, and to shatter our perfect streak!

"And on that note, do you think that we don't know what you're doing here?" Starlight clicked her fingers, causing every Defector on the mezzanine to stand up and surround the Rainbooms. "It's obvious that someone on CPA hired you to become spies so that you could extract information and feed it to the Changelings."

"You've been made, girls. What's the call?" Sugarcoat's voice came out of the earbuds as the Rainbooms were surrounded on all sides and were slowly losing space.

Pinkie Pie tensed up for a bit before her hair suddenly popped back into its usual bubbly style, causing the little hairclip to shoot out and hit a Defector in the eye, causing them to groan and stagger backwards for a bit. Finally, she threw up her hands and screamed "GAME OVER!"

"Game Over confirmed," Twilight said. "Indigo! Lemon! You're up!"

"What is that? What did you do?!" Blueblood had heard the earbuds and grabbed Pinkie Pie by the neck. He was just about to punch her when the fire alarms went off. It was so loud that he cried out in pain and released the pink girl to hold his ears shut, along with all of the other Crystal Prep students in the cafeteria.

As the Defectors all sprawled to the floor, Sunset and her friends walked all over them and nearly fell over in trying to get to the stairs. The girls eventually made it to the stairs and ran down towards the exit as fast as they could.

Starlight stumbled to get back up and watched as the Rainbooms ran for their lives. She turned back and shouted, "GET THEM!" but her voice was muted over the deafening sounds of the fire alarm. Scoffing, she pursued the girls herself, sliding down the banisters and rushing out of the cafeteria after the Canterlot High girls.

"Turn right here, girls," Twilight's voice could still be heard even over the tremendous ringing. "There's an emergency exit on the other side of the pool. Make your way out through there."

The Rainbooms all ran through the corridors of Crystal Prep and narrowly missed coming into contact with a number of students who were also suffering from the fire alarms. They felt sorry for them, but knew that if they stayed behind to help them, they would get caught.

"GET BACK HERE!" Starlight yelled, trying to make herself louder than the noise that echoed throughout the hallways.

Sunset looked back and saw that Starlight was effortlessly keeping up with them. She gritted her teeth and sprinted towards the pool door with her friends following close behind.

"Now watch yourself when you get in, girls." Twilight said as the dots on her screen neared the pool. "Make your way through the bleachers."

"Bleachers. Got it." Sunset barrelled herself through the pool door and nearly fell into the pool with her velocity. She made a sharp turn to the left, moving towards the purple chairs that stood on the edge of the pool deck.

They had no time to stop and admire the scenery as Starlight burst through the doors just as the fire alarm stopped. She followed the Rainbooms for every move they made and charged towards and across the bleachers in an attempt to stop the girls from getting away.

"Come on!" Sunset called back as they approached the emergency exit at the end of the room. She rammed into the bar poking out, releasing the latch on the door and throwing herself onto the grassy floor, with the other girls spilling out just as quickly.

She saw Starlight approaching from behind and waited until she got close. When it was enough, Sunset slammed the door on the girl's face the second she was in range. She heard a thud coming from the other side, indicating that Starlight had been hit in the face with it and was now lying unconscious.

"That was a close one." Indigo Zap and Lemon Zest approached the girls and offered them their hands. "Are you girls alright? Did they hurt you?"

"No, surprisingly." Sunset looked back at the door as she and her friends all left the premises. She couldn't help but wonder the emotions running through the mind of the girl who had almost caught them. "But I get the feeling that Starlight is going to retaliate from this..."

"Whatever she and Blueblood do, we've got what we came for." Lemon Zest put her headphones back on and played another of her favourite songs. "Guess this is what they call mission accomplished, huh?"

"Yeah!" Pinkie Pie leapt up and threw confetti everywhere, shouting, "Party at my house!"

As the Rainbooms and the Shadowbolts smiled at the thought of one of Pinkie Pie's parties, they quickly climbed in the van and drove away, leaving behind no trace that they were ever there in the first place.

Meanwhile, Starlight Glimmer got back up and looked outside. The girls she had been chasing had escaped and were now off Crystal Prep. She cursed herself and punched the door she had been hit by. When her rage subsided, she took a deep breath and pulled out a walkie-talkie.

"Blueblood, this is Starlight," she said. "The Rainbooms have escaped. Have Defectors patrol the hallways during lunch."

"Understood," Blueblood spoke. "But how will that strengthen our plan?"

"We need to move into phase two of our plan. They will come back, and when they do, we will personally see to it that their world crumbles, and that we take back the Crystal Prep that this world deserves!"

"Copy that, Queen Starlight." Blueblood's voice came through the device a little garbled. "In the meantime, what are our plans for the rest of the day? Are our little jobs still going to be on?"

"Yes. We need all of the Defectors we can get if we're going to break those fiends down. You may lead them into capturing the Archery Field and the Religious Education rooms."


"We finish this now." Starlight put her walkie-talkie away and returned to Crystal Prep with her hands behind her back. Her footsteps echoed across the pool room as she exited back into the hallways.

Author's Notes:

I'm working on something big for this story. Just keep reading and wait until we get into later chapters and you'll hear something beautiful. Something that'll make Unleash the Magic seem like a thing of the past.

Chapter 6: Letting the Heat Die Down

"You know, Starlight seemed pretty mad back there..." Rainbow Dash rubbed the back of her head as the twelve girls walked down the street towards the local mall. It had only been a day since she and her friends had been ratted out and exposed as Canterlot High girls at Crystal Prep and chased out by Starlight Glimmer, but they had quickly dressed themselves back in their usual clothing, with their hairstyles only slightly shorter than usual.

"Defectors get especially angry when someone lies to them," Sugarcoat said. "Especially when others disobey their wills and do things that go against their ways."

"Just two days ago, Fleur De Lis was kicked down the stairs and out of the Defectors when pictures got onto the internet with her attending this crazy party at Canterlot High." Indigo balled her right hand into a fist as she remembered when Fleur was barred off, shouted at, then stripped of her rank and escorted away on a stretcher. "The poor girl's still suffering from a few broken bones and some internal bleeding, and all because she had fun with your school."

"That's heartless!" Fluttershy exclaimed. "Hurting your companions when they have a little fun for themselves? Those Defectors sound even worse than any kind of bully I've ever heard of!"

"And the worst part? They ended up laughing at her suffering and saying that how they treated her was justice!" Sunny Flare cursed. "Those monsters have plagued CPA for long enough, and the aftermath of the Friendship Games has gone to their heads! We need to stop them now, before they can overtake us!"

"From what it sounds like, they seem to crave authority, but use cruel and unjust methods to try and seize it, and find humour in shooting down and laughing at anyone who steps out of line, or just doesn't follow them in the first place." Twilight looked skyward for a few seconds. "If anything, I'd say that Cinch rubbed off on them a little..."

"There must be some way we can break through to them," Sunset spoke up. "Let them know that there a better way than this. Chrysalis is a great principal with a lot of influence over the students, but they're just not seeing it yet."

"We just deafened all of the Defectors and stepped on their king and queen," Sour Sweet pointed out. "These people will retaliate, and they'll do it in a brutal fashion."

"How so?" Applejack asked.

"They'll strike Canterlot High, but not in the ways like before." Sugarcoat looked around and saw a little fight break out in the corner of her eye between a little boy and girl. "Forget about defacing property or declaring their victory. They could go so far as to threaten, stalk, or in the worst case scenario, attack the students at your school as well—just to set an example that they will not stop until they win."

"Shouldn't any of the staff at Crystal Prep aside from Chrysalis try to stop them?" Pinkie Pie asked. "I mean, sometimes, it just feels like they're letting the students fight like meanies. But why?"

"Actually, that is a good question..." Lemon Zest turned off her headphones and scratched her chin. "Why are they just taking a backseat whilst the Defectors take more and more territory?"

"Not even Dean Cadence is trying to stop the fighting," Sour Sweet said. "Considering that she's supposed to be the head of students, it's a little weird that she's not even lifting a finger to help Chrysalis out."

"She probably would be able to end this, if the Defectors didn't kept hurting students on a daily basis." Sugarcoat's words made everyone – herself included – stop walking. "They just keep hurting, and not even she can keep up with how many of our school end up in the nurse's ward or the local hospital," silence gripped the group for a few seconds before she broke it again. "Yes, they do go that far."

"I'm still curious about something, girls." Sunset looked out into the distance and could faintly see Crystal Prep's flag just nestled inbetween the gaps in the buildings. "As Red Letter said back there, you could have been giving the Defectors an advantage in fighting Chrysalis. You could have been hailed as champions instead of Blueblood and Starlight," she said. "Why did you turn them down?"

"What can we say?" Indigo took a deep breath. "Some things happened after the Friendship Games that changed who we were."

"At first, no one really felt different when Crystal Prep opened its doors the day after the Games," Sunny Flare said. "Everything seemed to return to how it was before magic got involved. Students were kept in line, the grades were flawless, and the Defectors hadn't even been established yet." In her mind, she imagined each of the hallways crowded with students who all wore the uniforms again, but not in malicious ways. "But on that day, we had no idea that Cinch had been fired on the spot, or that Chrysalis would take her place."

"When the new principal came in and announced that she would take over, Blueblood and some others were outraged," Sour Sweet continued. "The whole cornerstone of our discipline came from Cinch, and without her, Crystal Prep seemed to feel a lot more different—almost like a bigger version Canterlot High in a way," she said. "Without the dress code, students came into CPA feeling much more friendly, as if they'd been freed from the chains of the past and could look forward to a brighter tomorrow. Individual students were finally commended for their good work, and the pride we'd established was no longer used to intimidate, demean, or make others jealous." As she spoke, a genuine smile grew on her face. "In a way, Chrysalis cared about all of us, and the changes she made benefited us all."

"And out of all of the students, we'd changed the most," Lemon Zest said. "Everything that we had been taught about Canterlot High had been a joke, and we felt guilty that our ways had made you feel a little uncomfortable at first." She gently took off her headphones and caressed them. "But then, something sparked inside of Indigo, Sugarcoat, and me. Together, we planned a little party to prove that we had become better people, and that we were willing to make friendships with the students of your school at the same time."

"That was a night that none of us could ever forget," Sugarcoat grinned. "Everyone was having fun, doing things together, and dancing until they got exhausted. And as we looked at our accomplishments, it became apparent that we ourselves could be the flag carriers for a better Crystal Prep; one that believes in friendship, harmony, and togetherness."

"But then things took a turn for the worse, didn't they?" Sunset reached out to the Shadowbolts, who all hung their heads.

"A few days after that, Blueblood's grudge outweighed his pride, and he had graffitied those horrible messages across the school, talking about how discipline and strictness should still be the cornerstone of CPA, even after everything had changed," Sunny Flare's tone was sombre. "Everything that we had made together was torn down in seconds as the Defectors were born; crafted from the ideals of a madman who wants authority to rule the school for as long as time will stand." She pulled out a picture of Blueblood and Starlight, who were having a good time with three other Crystal Prep students at the party that she and her friends had mentioned. "He went from a student who had accepted change, into one who had spat in the face of it, and convinced others to follow in his footsteps. And from his vile beliefs, the Defectors were created, and quickly became the new Principal Cinch of CPA. Cold-hearted, strict, and very brutal, the Defectors keep saying that they would finish what she could not."

"But how are they possibly gonna try and finish it?" Rainbow Dash shrugged. "I mean, the only reason that that witch got fired is because of us. So, how are they gonna try and solve their problems if their true hate lies with us instead of Crystal Prep?"

"I'm not sure, but I think I have a rough guess." Sour Sweet pulled out and opened another of CPA's maps. She then took out a purple pen and scribbled out more areas on it. "Just yesterday, the Archery Field was lost to the Defectors. They're probably getting a small army ready, and I don't really like the sound of where it's going."

"But I think I do." Twilight reached into her pocket and pulled out her old locket. It was turned off and had nothing inside. "As you all know, I was using this device to try and track the magic in your school, but I ended up absorbing it at the same time. It's been deactivated at the moment, but for all we know, the Defectors could eventually find out how to recreate this locket; complete with the ability to steal the Magic of Friendship."

"But how would they even get close to making just one?" Applejack raised a finger. "I mean, that's gonna be hard to make, considering the fancy-schmancy science stuff you put into it, Twilight. For all we know, they could be trying and failing to make it, and would probably try to capture and force you to make copies."

"Then there's only one thing we can do for the time being." Sugarcoat stepped forward and led the group down another street. "We need to hide and let the heat die down for a while, just until the Defectors realize that finding us will be harder than they expect."

"Wait, you're just gonna let us hide? After all of the horrible things those jerks are doing right now?!" Indigo slammed her foot forward.

"Indigo, I know it's not the best thing we can—"

"Yeah, right, it's not the best thing!" she raised her voice. "The Defectors are out there right now, tormenting and hurting other students, and you just want us to do nothing?!" She threw her arms all over the place.

"It's either hide, or be used as bargaining chips for Twilight, Indie!" Sour Sweet shouted. "And believe me, I do not look good after I get beaten up or tortured!"

"Girls! Calm down!" Sunset grabbed the shoulders of each of the Shadowbolts, silencing them in seconds. "You're all getting worked up over two outcomes that have negative consequences. Just calm down and think about which one has less of an impact."

Indigo knew from Sunset's tone of voice that there was no way that she would change the minds of her friends. Defeated, she punched the ground and immediately shook her head. "I'm sorry, girls. It's just that I've had to see nothing but fighting at Crystal Prep for weeks on end, and it's bugging me out."

"Hey." Sugarcoat put her right hand on Indigo's shoulder and gave her a warm smile. "We're all stressed about how bad things have been at CPA. But we need to keep calm and think rationally if we're going to end this senseless fighting and make the academy better."

"Sugarcoat's right." Sunny Flare joined them. "The odds aren't in our favour, I know, but infighting will only make the situation even worse."

"It's not something that I agree with either," said Sunset. "But we can't risk adding more fuel to the Defectors' fire. It's best to lay low and hope that they forget about us. And if that means hiding at someone's house for a while, then I don't have a problem with it."

"Now that they know Canterlot High students infiltrated their ranks, they'll hunt your territory if you don't return to Crystal Prep." Sugarcoat turned towards the Rainbooms. "It's better to stay with me and my family up on the outskirts of the city. It's the furthest place away from the Defectors and therefore, it's the safest."

"Well, I can't argue with that logic." Sunset smiled. She quickly looked back to her friends and said, "What about the rest of you? Are you in?"

Quiet murmurs came from the Rainbooms before they all nodded their heads and rejoined with Sunset and the Shadowbolts.

"Looks like we're all in, Sugarcoat," said Sunset. "Lead the way."

Without another word, the silver-haired girl walked towards her house with the rest of the girls in tow. She looked back at them occasionally and grinned each time they had a conversatoin. The more she listened in, the more she grew an affinity for Sunset Shimmer and the Rainbooms. Eventually, that small grin turned into a pleasant smile as she merely listened to them chat as they travelled through the city.

Sugarcoat and the group eventually arrived at a single three-storey house with white paint, clear windows, a blandly tiled roof, and windows that were devoid of grime and dust. A trail of stone slabs went from the end of the front yard right up to the polished oak door with a golden knocker welded onto it. The grass that ran alongside the path was well-tended; each and every blade being green, and covering every inch. The final touches were the flowerbeds that ran along the edges, gently brushing up against the white picket fence that surrounded the house.

"So, what does your family do in terms of jobs, Sugarcoat?" Applejack asked.

"My father is a retired politician," she said. "He stopped when he realized that his opponents were lying to their people and he just didn't think that it was much of a fair game for them. As for my mother, she recently took up a job in journalism and is still looking for news right now. She won't be back until tonight."

"You said you had a little sister as well." Pinkie Pie dashed forward and knocked on the door before turning back to her friends. "What's she like? Is she super-cute? Or is she a tough nut to crack like my sister, Limestone?"

"She's only five years old, so she can be quite childish at times. But that doesn't stop me from loving her."

"What was her name again? Fudgie Pants? Candycoat? Burn Books? I can't seem to remember, but all of those sound super-tasty! Well, except for burnt books. They sound yucky."

Sugarcoat let out a little chuckle. "Her name's Fudge Numbers, Pinkie. And you kind of remind me of her."

When the door opened, a small white girl with fuchsia hair in both pigtails and a ponytail stood on the other side. She was wearing a pink dress with poof around the waistline, had purple socks on her feet, and was tightly caressing a grey teddy bear in her right arm. She looked at the group with a lifted eyebrow for a few seconds before she found Sugarcoat. "Sugar!" She squealed before running over and giving her a big hug.

"Hi, Sis." Sugarcoat tussled Fudge's hair and gave her a small hug. "How was your day at kindergarten?"

"It was so much fun, Sugar! I met these really nice boys and pretty girls!" she spoke energetically. "They were all very friendly, happy to learn about counting, and even let me play with some of their toys!"

"Good to hear that, Sis." She let her skip back inside of the house before her eyes met with a man with a casual white shirt and black trousers. He had a blonde mullet and had shiny blue eyes, and he too acknowledged Sugarcoat's appearance. "Hi, Dad." She waved.

"Nice to have you back home, Sugarcoat." He watched as she wiped her feet on the rug before she pulled her shoes off and put them to the side of the door. "How was your day at Crystal Prep?"

"It wasn't easy, especially given how the Defectors have been behaving," she said. "My new friends barely escaped a fight with those thugs just over half an hour ago."

"And who are these friends of yours?" he asked, peering over her shoulders to see Sugarcoat's entourage.

"Sunset Shimmer, Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Fluttershy, and Rarity from Canterlot High." She pointed towards the Rainbooms first before beginning on her friends from CPA. "And Sunny Flare, Indigo Zap, Sour Sweet, and Lemon Zest from Crystal Prep."

"Friends from both schools, I see," he said. "Well, if you brought them around for a sleepover, I have no objections to that. We have been waiting for some people to come around and try our new guest rooms."

"Guess that explains why the house is so big..." Applejack whispered to Rainbow Dash, who let out an inaudible chortle.

"Just as long as they're honest to themselves and to us." Sugarcoat's Dad stood firmly. "I don't think I need to remind you that lies are the worst thing this world has ever known."

"Yeah! Anyone who lies is a big, fat, meanie-pants!" Fudge Numbers hugged her bear tighter and blew a little raspberry.

"Aww... She's so cute!" Fluttershy stepped forward and gave Fudge a hug herself before the rest of the girls stepped inside.

"Anyway, welcome to our humble little home, girls," said the father. "My name is Beat Bush. It's nice to meet you all." He graciously shook each of their hands before walking off upstairs.

"Once you're all settled in, me and my little sister would like to give you a tour of the house," Sugarcoat said as each of the Rainbooms and the Shadowbolts took off their shoes.

"Sure thing, Sugarcoat." Sunset hung up her jacket on the hook above her and waited for her friends to do the same.

"Follow me!" Fudge Numbers ran up the stairs giddily, getting Sugarcoat to giggle once again as she and the rest of her friends followed after her sister.

"You're right, Fluttershy. She is adorable!" Sour Sweet beamed, but then lowered her brows and pouted. "Wish my little sister was like that..."

"This is my personal favourite room: My room!" Fudge Numbers arrived at a door that had been covered in stickers, pink paint, paper flowers, and girly stickers. There was also a plastic sign that said "Fudge Numbers' Room."

As Sugarcoat and Fudge opened the door, each of the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts peaked in and saw that the room was painted pink on both the ceiling and the walls. There was a large amount of toys scattered around the room, a couple of low tables with just as short chairs, and a bed that seemed small to the teenagers, but huge to the toddler. The last thing to notice was a large pile of stuffed animals of all kinds and sizes. Each of them was dressed up in little outfits and had smiles stitched onto their faces.

"Do you like it?" Fudge asked with pleading eyes.

"It's really nice and all, but how did you get all of this stuff?" Sunset looked at each and every one of the toys and wondered how much that it cost to get the room set up.

"Mommy and Daddy say that we get rewarded for telling the truth, and punished for when we lie," Fudge did her best impression of her sister. "When I'm a good little girl, I get more toys to play with and get to stay up longer. But when I'm bad, my things get taken away for the evening."

"It's the same for me. I get given stuff when I act in goodwill towards Mom and Dad, but just like Fudgie, I lose my privileges for disobeying them." Sugarcoat stood next to Fudge and wrapped one of her arms around her. "It's our parents' way of saying that honesty is not just a policy, but a way of life."

"Well, I guess that's a good way of going about it." Applejack tugged her hat downwards and leaned against the wall. "My little sister Applebloom gets the same treatment. She's gotta act like a good little sis, or she ends up getting grounded."

"Maybe after you're done with the tour, you could maybe play with me?" Fudge clasped her hands together and held them in front of her.

"Why not? We could use something to keep us going after our recent run-in with the Defectors." Rainbow Dash looked down at Fudge and gave her hair a quick rustle. "Sure thing, kid."

"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" She immediately pulled Rainbow into a big hug. "I love playing with new friends!"

"She's pretty energetic, isn't she?" Indigo helped Rainbow Dash out of the hug.

"Yeah. Pinkie Pie and her are gonna get together like a house on fire." Rainbow shrugged.

"I'm not so sure if that's the right term for friendship, but I agree with Dashie." Pinkie bounced forward. "Fudge, you and I are gonna be the bestest of best friends ever!"

"Yay!" Fudge threw her hands in the air and gave a third hug. This time, it was for Pinkie, who immediately returned the favour.

"Anyway, my room's next door to Fudge's." Sugarcoat walked over to the door. "If you want to continue the tour, just follow me. I think that my sister's busy with Pinkie Pie right now."

"Don't worry about me, girls," said Pinkie as she got down onto her knees and placed her posterior gently on the heels of her feet. "Fudgie here would be glad to show me around by herself. Just go off with Sugarcoat for now."

Rarity put her hand to her mouth and chuckled. "Once Pinkie Pie starts, it's almost impossible to get her to stop." Rarity looked back to see the two of them playing Pattycake. "Not even we know how she's so energetic all the time."

"Tell me about it." Sunny Flare joked as the rest of the girls walked out of the room. "Lemon Zest usually takes a week or so to get over things, and right now, she's obsessed with this guy on the internet who makes videos of himself playing games. Yesterday morning, she was talking about how the Lemonators would eventually rule the world."

"Laminators?" Pinkie Pie blurted out before the whole group erupted with laughter.

Later on, Sunset was leaning against a single tree at the end of the back garden. Underneath the leaves and the apples that grew on the branches, she had time to reflect on what had happened throughout the time she had spent in the Human World. From when she had first stolen Twilight's crown and brought magic into the world, to the time when it was used to defeat the Dazzlings, and when it eventually spiralled out of control at the Friendship Games. As each memory ran through her mind, she couldn't help but feel like she was to blame for each and every accident. She had brought the magic into the world, and she was now completely responsible for any new threats that arose in it.

Eventually, a woman with a silver bowl cut and green high heels stepped out into the garden. She had yellow skin and a golden ring around a finger on her right hand. Wearing a purple dress and carrying a clipboard and pen, she noticed that Sunset had been silently sitting by the tree and was very deep in thought.

"Sunset? Are you okay?" she asked. "Your dinner's getting cold."

"I'll be fine, Make Easy." Sunset looked up at her for a brief second before tilting her gaze up towards the apple trees. She returned to her train of thought, and the concept of Starlight and Blueblood recreating the device that Twilight had taken with her to the Games. "I'm just thinking about something very important."

"I know what's going through your mind." Make stepped forward and put her free hand on Sunset's shoulder. "You're worried that the power you and your friends have will bring danger to this world, right?"

"H-how did you know?" Sunset stumbled backwards and almost fell over.

"Sugarcoat has never lied, remember? Both she and Fudge Numbers have told the truth, even if it hurts more. We know about your magic, and that you've been trying so hard to keep it a secret. But eventually, you and your friends will need to come out of the closet and explain to the world about how you got this power, and how it can be used to make the world better."

"But it's magic! It's something from another world!" Sunset's hands began to tremble. "If people find out about the Magic of Friendship, they could very well call the authorities to have us locked up and studied. Brief occurrences like the Fall Formal, Battle of the Bands, and Friendship Games are fine as long as no-one knows the truth, but if this gets out, then we might never be able to live normal lives ever again!"

"Then maybe it's time that this secret is shared." Make looked Sunset in the eyes and gently cuddled her. "Keeping all of the magic to yourself does make you special, but at the same time, don't you think that others get jealous that they can't use it themselves?"

"You might have a point. I mean, I did overhear a song at the games where the Shadowbolts were gonna try and use our power against us, but it ultimately backfired and caused that disaster. But are you sure that the people of this world would like magic to mix in with their regular lives?"

"Sunset. I'm going to tell you the utmost truth here." Make Easy sat down with Sunset on the grass. "When you pioneer something, it must be shared. Keeping it to yourself will spark jealousy in the hearts of others and provoke more and more people to try and use your magic for themselves," she said. "After all, the man who invented the television shared it with the world, the man who made computers shared them with the world, so why can't you share the magic you and your friends possess with other humans as well?"

"Because it's unorthodox. It would make us all abominations of what we once were."

"It's not strange in the slightest. It's evolution," Make still kept a smile, even with everything that Sunset had said. "Over many years, the human race has had to evolve and adapt to many changes in the world around them and to their current lifestyles. So if everyone on the planet gets wings, pony ears, longer hair, and tails, then who's gonna be jealous of that?"

"I think you're right, but—"

"I know I'm right, Sunset Shimmer." Make Easy looked up at the stars, watching as constellations were formed. "The more and more you and your friends keep the secret to yourselves, the harder it'll be to keep," she said sweetly. "So far, only the students at Canterlot High and Crystal Prep know about the magic you and your friends possess. So what's the difference if everyone else in the world knows about this power, and are all able to use it for themselves?"

"If the magic is decoded and used right, then everyone else would be able to Pony-Up when they show off their true talents. Singers and dancers will be able to use their magic to wow the crowd before it becomes common, as Rarity would put it. Builders would get their jobs done quicker, scientists would be able to implement magic into certain machines to make life easier, and most of all, kids would be able to feel a little happier." She curled up into a ball. Oh, who am I kidding? You make it sound like a utopian world, but I just don't really think that it's time yet."

"Yet, Sunset." Make stood back up and helped her get back on her feet as well. "It might not be the right time now, but eventually, it will. Secrets don't stay secret forever, and it's only a matter of time before everyone in the world inherits the magic of you and your friends," she crossed her arms. " And when that day comes, we just have to brace ourselves for what'll happen next."

"No matter what's happened, we've all been moving forward, desperately trying to keep our magic to ourselves," Sunset was now thinking about the future—to a world where everyone could Pony-Up. "But what good could come from a world where reality and fantasy interlock?"

"We just have to wait and see..." Make Easy had once last glance at the starry sky before she walked back to the house. "Now come on. You and your friends must be starving after all of the stuff you've had to go through today."

Sunset eventually took Make Easy's hand and walked back inside the house. But at the same time, the thoughts of a world where everyone used magic never left her head. As she dwelled on both the positives and negatives, she had trouble deciding whether or not it would be a good or bad thing.

Maybe it's wrong, maybe it's against everything these people stand for, but I think that what she said is right, Sunset thought as she walked back inside and sat down to her meal of roast chicken with the Rainbooms, Shadowbolts, and Sugarcoat's family. After all this time, maybe we should share our magic with everyone else. She shuddered for a second. But definitely not now. Not with the Defectors still running around and causing misery for everyone else at Crystal Prep...

As Sunset Shimmer looked at each of her friends, she began to think about all of the good that the Magic of Friendship had done for her school, her world, and for them all. A small smile began to creep back onto her face, but it was lost when she thought about the possibility of it being used by people for evil.

She then thought about what would happen if Starlight Glimmer and Blueblood used the magic that she and her friends had. Images flashed into her head of all of the Defectors getting Pony-Ups, overwhelming her friends and the Changelings, and ultimately succeeding in their rebellion for a new principal at CPA. Before it could overtake her mind, she returned to reality and ate her food, knowing that the future wasn't set in stone, and that it could be changed. The question that was now on her mind was how she and her friends would be able to do it.

Author's Notes:

If you liked this chapter, be sure to share the story with your friends and comment down below your thoughts about it. And if you want to stay up to date with any other stories or Blog Posts that I make, be sure to give me a follow. I sure would appreciate it.

And also, if you want to try and make Fudge Numbers for yourself, remember that she's got fuchsia hair in both pigtails and a ponytail. She wears a pink dress with lots of poof around the waist, wears purple socks, has a grey teddy bear, and is kindergarten sized. (Not sure how big that is in the Equestria Girls world yet, considering that all we see are teenagers and grown-ups in that world...)

Anyways, have a nice day, and I'll see you guys soon for another chapter!

Chapter 7: Order from Delinquency

The next day, Sugarcoat and Indigo Zap were strolling down the hallways of Crystal Prep. As much as they wanted to avoid the Defectors, they didn't want to risk playing hooky and breaking the rules. They both knew that if they broke any of the rules, then they were no better than them.

"So, all we've gotta do is walk right up to Chrysalis and tell her that she's gotta be more strict, right?" Indigo asked.

"If she does make the rules harsher, the Defectors will slowly but surely begin to feel like they were fighting against what they wanted," Sugarcoat said. "They want order and discipline. If she gives it to the students, then maybe we can finally put an end to this constant fighting."

"What about Starlight and Blueblood? Something tells me that they're gonna be pretty peeved if the Defectors finally agree with Chrysalis..."

"They've let their command go to their heads, and will most likely be the hardest to convince that Crystal Prep can still be as orderly as before—without the harshness of Cinch's old rule. But if we can make them see as well, then we'll have done our job, and we'll have Sunset and her friends to thank for it."

"And then there's still the final piece of the puzzle." Indigo stopped at her locker and pulled out a textbook. "They all hate us for the fact that we wanted change the most in this school. I can imagine it's gonna take an awful long time for those thugs to be our friends again."

"But still, why would they want to hunt down the Rainbooms as well? And why would they want to finish what Cinch couldn't?" Sugarcoat's eyes darted around as she struggled to think. "Something's not right..."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, what if the Defectors want more than just order? What if they targeted the Rainbooms for a specific reason other than to prove their point? What could they possibly have to gain out of them?"

"I don't really know, Sugarcoat. But there's one thing we can all agree on. This madness needs to be put to an end, before everyone involved suffers!"

"I agree with you, girls." Black approached the girls and took off his helmet, revealing his spiky black hair and red eyes again. "The Defectors have caused enough damage as it is, and for the way we all have to act against them, I feel like this is starting to turn into a war that neither side wants to fight, but has to because of the hate that we've forcibly had to accept."

"You're saying that students might have joined the Defectors by force?" Indigo's eyes widened.

"It's not much to go on, but for what it's worth, it could very well be the case." Black sighed and put his right hand on Indigo's shoulder. "Truth be told, I don't want to see you, your friends, or anyone else in this school get hurt. At least, not in ways of fighting or because of some petty squabble between the two factions."

"But as long as Starlight Glimmer and Blueblood have that vendetta against us, the Rainbooms, Chrysalis, and the Changelings, we're most likely never going to see peace return to this school," Sugarcoat spoke up. "Whatever the king and queen of the Defectors want, it's clear that they've got high standards for order, and that Chrysalis can only reach them if she uses all the rules Cinch used in the past."

"And that won't solve anything. It'll only revert CPA to the cold-hearted and lifeless sanctum of knowledge that it was before the Friendship Games." Black laid his other hand on Sugarcoat's shoulder. "Indy, Sugar, you're both very intelligent, strong-willed, kind, and helpful girls. Without you, Crystal Prep might be lost to the Defectors," he said. "So I'm hoping that you and your friends can finally stop this before it gets out of control."

"You can count on us, Black." Indigo smiled and gave him a small hug as Sugarcoat did the same.

"Now you'd better get to your next classes before the Changelings or Defectors see you late." He let them go off on their separate ways and waited until they were gone before putting his helmet back on. "It would break my heart to see you having to resort to fighting with or against us..."

Starlight Glimmer walked into the science lab of Crystal Prep alongside Blueblood and a dozen other Defectors. They turned on the lights to illuminate a row of tables with bunsen burners, test tubes, cupboards, as well as a number of posters and charts that littered the walls.

In her hands, she was holding a blueprint that had been neatly rolled up and secured with a red rubber band. She walked over to the farthest table, put it down, pulled off the rubber band, and opened it up once they were all gathered around it.

When the blueprint had been opened up, it revealed – in great detail – how to recreate the device that Twilight had used to absorb the magic from Sunset Shimmer and her friends. It showed how it all went together, as well as the necessary parts and process on how to do it.

"Why didn't we think of it before?" Starlight's grin turned malicious. "The solution to this silly little fight between the Defectors and the Changelings.

"Simply by recreating this device and using it to capture magic like before, and then using this power to cripple those meddlesome Rainbooms, we can study the magic from before, purify it, and ensure that everyone can use it for their own ideals!" She clapped her hands once before circling her group, momentarily laying her arms on each of them before she returned to her spot. "And just like that, everyone will be able to – as those brats at CHS call it – Pony-Up!"

"Starlight, need I remind you that the last time magic was involved in this world, it nearly ripped it apart as one of our own went power-hungry and wanted it all for themselves?" Blueblood spoke up. "Maybe we could take the magic, but only as a last resort for if we cannot win against these mindless oafs. Doesn't it seem a little excessive to use it out of sheer will alone?" his grin slowly faded away. "After all, what we don't know can kill us."

"Cinch's twisted desire to win was interlaced with Twilight's will to experiment and see what it could do," Starlight said. "It was a mixture of being blackmailed into unleashing the magic as well as wanting to know what power it had that unearthed that monstrosity and almost had it destroy everything we hold dear.

"I will not make the same mistake that they did. We will take the magic, safely store it away, learn about it to the best of our abilities, and then give every Defector in this school a little upgrade. Only by understanding it can we use it to better our world."

"Defecting against order to get it is one thing, but having to use an otherworldly power that no-one can control to try and enforce our will among the world?" Another Defector raised her finger. "I agree with King Blueblood, Queen Starlight. If this goes wrong, we could have another demon unleashed upon the world."

"Which is why this cannot go wrong under any circumstance." Starlight towered over them. "The experimentation might be hard at first, but soon, we'll have all of the knowledge we need for using this magic for our own wishes."

"What about the Rainbooms and the Shadowbolts themselves?" another Defector spoke. "If they do catch wind of our little schemes, they'll most certainly try and put a stop to it."

"Don't worry about those rambunctious teenagers, Night Glider." Starlight tipped her hand. "They will soon see that everything must be shared, and that we must all have magic for the world to be restored to its correct alignment. With that in mind, they will soon see that our ways can also incorporate friendship. After all, if everyone is orderly, then no-one is different. Friendships work better when everyone follows the rules."

"Speaking of rules, Dean Cadence is said to be having a slight leave of absence due to all of our efforts." Blueblood looked out and saw Cadence with a small briefcase in her hand.

"Perfect. Without her and her pitiful lovey-dovey ways to help students keep their morale up, they will soon break to the will of the Defectors, and we will rise and overwhelm the Changelings."

"She was the last thing standing between them and the two warring groups," Night Glider said. "And now that she's out of the picture, Crystal Prep will return to being a school of order and discipline, where fun can only be had when we break after it!"

"So, what happens now?" said a Defector with beads in her hair.

"Patience, Sugar Belle." Starlight put a hand on the girl's shoulder. "We have all of the time we need."

As Sunset Shimmer leaned against the walls of Canterlot High, she pulled out the book to Twilight and began to write something down.

Hey, Twilight, it said. I know you've got a lot of things going down in Equestria, but there's a bit of a problem brewing here in the other world. Now, I'm not saying that we need you just yet, but if things do get out of hand, then we might need to call you again. Her face had a smile, which changed to a slight grimace as she wrote. Before I continue, I want to ask you something. Do you know about two ponies in your world called Blueblood and Starlight Glimmer? She finished the note and closed the book before putting it back in her backpack and walking towards her next class.

Almost immediately before she opened the door, the book vibrated and glowed.

"What the?" Sunset pulled it back out and looked at the response.

Alright, Sunset.

Blueblood and Starlight Glimmer are both unicorns with a different amount of influence in Equestria. Blueblood is a prince and Celestia's supposed nephew. However, he let his poncy title go to his head, and he often makes cruel and unjust decisions because he's not getting what he wants.

As for Starlight Glimmer, she was the first unicorn in this world to ever outmatch me. For once, I felt like there was no way to beat her. With the ability to steal a pony's Cutie Mark, and the power to travel through time, as well as a variety of other spells she can use whilst levitating herself at the same time – sounds like a lot, huh? – she could have very well defeated me and stopped me and my friends from ever meeting each other and earning our Cutie Marks to save our world. She's reformed now in our world, but I don't see what that has to do with the situation you and your friends are facing in yours.

I would love to hear the details later.

–Princess Twilight Sparkle

With a small smile, Sunset closed the book and walked into her next class.

Later, Sunset and her friends found themselves in Principal Celestia's office with Vice Principal Luna standing beside her. Each of the girls stood in a row and waited for one of the two women to speak.

"Girls. From what I've heard, our friend at Crystal Prep, Dean Cadence, has recently had to take a small break from her duties for some unexplained reason." Celestia organized the papers on her desk before stacking them up and putting them into a ring-binder. "For her time away from CPA, she let us know that she would spend time here with us at CHS."

"While I am happy to see her taking up work here, I cannot help but think that you might know the reason why she's had to move from Crystal Prep," Luna furrowed her brows. "If you would be so kind as to tell us, we would be delighted to hear it."

"Should we tell them, though?" Fluttershy and the girls got into a group huddle. "I mean, it's bad enough that the Defectors are involved in it, but I'd be even more frightened to know that Celestia would have to call the cops for something that shouldn't be resolved through brutality."

"It's best that she knows now, and that we're going to set things right before she does, Fluttershy." Sunset tussled her hair before turning back towards Celestia and Luna. "Alright. I'll tell you everything you need to know.

"Ever since the Friendship Games, Prinicpal Cinch was fired on the spot for the whole board believing what she saw to be total nonsense, as you had predicted," she said. "But when Chrysalis took over as principal there, some of the students were outraged that she would make the school a better place, and decided to form a group of bullies known as the Defectors."

"The Defectors?" Celestia asked. "Go on, Sunset."

"They're led by two CPA students, Blueblood and Starlight Glimmer. Aside from the Twilight that transferred here, they were the best in their classes, and who were left out of the games due to unforeseen reasons, even though they were favourites to be in it. Blueblood graffitied messages of revolt and an uprising, whilst Starlight Glimmer gave the Defectors their uniforms back, as a sign of unity. For this, they were made king and queen."

"And how do you know about this?"

"We made some friends from Crystal Prep who told us the whole story." Twilight stood up and put her hand on her chest. "Namely, Sugarcoat, Lemon Zest, Sour Sweet, Sunny Flare, and Indigo Zap," she said. "You can't have forgotten them, as they were in the Tri-Cross Relay along with me and the Rainbooms."

"They also saved us from falling to our untimely demises when Twilight turned into that flying monstrosity at the end of the Games!" Pinkie spoke up in her usual bubbly attitude, but then stopped and looked at her spectacled friend. "No offense, right?"

"None taken, Pinkie Pie," said Twilight.

"Yes. I've heard about them." Vice Principal Luna looked at a picture on the wall showing Cadence, Chrysalis, and all of the students at CPA partying. "I've heard they're a pretty nice group of students once you make it through their rather crusty exteriors. Especially Sugarcoat."

"They're trying their best to make the school better, but I think that it's still an uphill battle for them," Sunset continued. "They called the seven of us because they believed that we were their last hope in making Crystal Prep a better place, and that we could hopefully make the two schools friendly towards each other."

"So that day when you claimed you had a cold, you went to Crystal Prep to assess the damage?" Luna cocked one of her brows.

"Yes. I'm sorry we had to lie to you, but they had absolutely no idea on how to make things better."

"While I would usually hand down a punishment for lying to miss a day of school, I will concede that it does sound like a problem that is only getting bigger and bigger with each passing day."

"Even more so now that Dean Cadence has had to move here to get away from it all," Celestia pointed out. "We'll let you off this time, but any further trips without permit will result in a detention. OK?"

"Yes. We understand, Principal Celestia," Applejack said.

"Good." Celestia picked up a dossier over on the nearby bookcase and brought it to the table. "Cadence was also kind enough to give us a copy of her documents for being a CPA staff member, as well as a contact sheet for if we needed to get in touch with her." She pushed it towards to the girls. "Now, I'm not saying that you should read this, but it would be nice to see everything she likes and doesn't like so that you can connect with her better whilst she's here, and even hope to make her feel a little better about this whole thing."

"By making friends with Dean Cadence, she can hopefully share her side of the story, as well as give you some advice on how to quell the rage of the Defectors and hope that with you and your friends, you can bring new life to Crystal Prep." Luna walked over to Sunset and put her right hand on her shoulder. "I trust that you girls will all make her feel welcome?"

"We will," said Sunset. "Anything else you wanted?"

"Not really, no." Celestia picked up a pencil and pulled out some sheets of paper from the small compartment to her side. "You may all leave now to go off to your next classes."

"Thank you, Principal Celestia." Twilight and her friends all walked out of the office and shut the door just as quickly.

As everyone left, Sunset sat down on one of the nearby chairs and pulled out the book that allowed her to communicate with the Twilight from Equestria.

"Are you alright, Sunset?" Rarity asked when she looked at the book.

"Yeah. I'm fine, Rarity," Sunset opened it and looked at the response materialize out of thin air. "I just had to have a little talk with the Twilight from my world for a while before we were all called to Celestia's office."

"About what, darling?"

"About the whole mess between the two fighting groups, as well as the Starlight and Blueblood from Equestria."

"Why would you get the details on the king and queen of the Defectors if they're probably not even the same as the ones in Equestria?" Rainbow Dash tilted her head.

"To see if they're a special case in Twilight's world as well. If they're adept in the magical arts, then maybe their human world counterparts might be able to tap into some deeper resources of magic that not even we can fathom. And if they accomplish it then..."

"Then what, Sunset?" Fluttershy brushed some hair out of her face.

"Then we could be facing a crisis far worse than anything we've ever faced before." Sunset hung her head as she envisioned Starlight and Blueblood using magic for evil purposes. "Forget my actions, forget those of The Dazzlings, even the ones of Abacus Cinch. We might be looking at someone fueled by revenge for something we did, using a power that we already know, but to a stronger extent than we thought possible."

"Now hold on a sec, Sunset," said Applejack. "For all we know, it's not yet been confirmed that Starlight and Blueblood are hunting for magic to make themselves all-powerful."

"But they already know that it exists, don't they? Someone at Crystal Prep must have told them all about it, or they could have been witnesses to Twilight's little outburst at the Games."

"Even so, that doesn't mean they're possibly looking for it—let alone trying to steal it."

"I agree with Applejack on this one." Pinkie Pie folded her arms. "I've seen a few bullies and meanies in my time, and if they wanted to take our magic, then why haven't they done it already?"

"Probably wanting to make sure that there's no mistakes that could cause another world-destroying apocalypse like the last three times." Sunset looked at the response, then turned the book towards her friends. "Anyway, you might want to take a look at this."

Dear Sunset.

I understand the trouble you and your friends are having to face at this moment. I mean, fighting is the hardest kind of problem to fix to make friendships better. I know this first-hoof from a number of experiences that I've had here in Equestria. But I will say that you just need to keep your head up, try your best in solving the dispute between the Defectors and the Changelings, and hope that with your new friends at Crystal Prep, you can make the world a better place.

–Princess Twilight Sparkle.

P.S. If things do get too out of hand, don't be afraid to call me.

"Aww, it's nice to know that Twilight's still got our back, even when things are about to spiral out of control," Rarity finally broke the silence after they had all read the response. "Either way, we won't need to call her to stop those rough-and-tumble Defectors." the other girls all nodded with her.

"But on the off chance that we can't fix it, it's good that Twilight's still ready and waiting." Sunset put the book away.

"So, what did she say about the Starlight and Blueblood of Equestria?" Twilight asked

"That they're both unicorns capable of powerful feats, but Starlight is the more powerful one because she was able to outmatch Twilight at every turn." Sunset crossed her legs. "She thought that the two of them would be battling in an endless time travel loop forever if it stopped Starlight from making Equestria a ruinous place where Twilight and her friends never got their Cutie Marks due to something called the Sonic Rainboom being prevented."

"She sounds pretty powerful," Pinkie Pie said. "And magical at the same time. If anything, she sounds like another Twilight! Without the wings, of course."

To that, Sunset let out a long sigh. "What if they manage to do it? Get the Magic of Friendship, I mean?" she put one of her hands to her chin. "We've all seen that magic is unpredictable, and we can only tap into it because we're showing off the truest sides of ourselves," she said. "But when you harness it as raw power, then it becomes clay in your hands. If Starlight and Blueblood manage to unlock the inner machinations of magic, then things will go out of control, and Twilight will need to be called in to stop the mayhem those two will bring."

"All that we can do now is hope that we can use reasoning and understanding to stop this violence and tell them that Chrysalis can work well as a principal." Sunset collected her belongings and walked down to her next class. "And if not, then we'd better prepare ourselves for the upcoming fight that they'll bring to CHS..."

Starlight Glimmer and Blueblood watched as Defectors battled against the Changelings to take control of the auditorium. They sat on the catwalk above the stage as punches and kicks were thrown between the two fighting sides. They watched as the Changelings struggled to win their respective fights, until the fighting was eventually put to a stop by Red Letter dealing the finishing blow to another of the black-clad disciplinarians.

"Queen Starlight! King Blueblood!" he called from the stage. "The Changelings here are defeated! We have gained even more ground against them!"

"Fantastic work, Red Letter!" Starlight descended from a harness with Blueblood next to her. They were both uncoupled before they stepped forward and patted the asian student on his back. "Without the auditorium to practice their acting, we've just assimilated the drama nerds into our cause."

"Mark up another win for us then!" Night Glider threw up her hands in victory as she stood on the head of another downed Changeling. "Those jerks never stood a chance, not with their lame Chrysalis co-ordinating them like that."

"Chrysalis will win over you punks!" A felled Changeling struggled to get up, but was stomped down by another of the Defectors. "You may have won over us today, but it won't be long before you crumble, and that you finally start to listen to her orders!"

"I wouldn't count on that, Pitch Black." Starlight ripped off his helmet, revealing the Changeling with black spiked hair that had spoken with Indigo and Sugarcoat earlier. "You see, true authority comes from control. Sure, Chrysalis might be the Principal of Crystal Prep, but unless she embraces the strict side of being one, she will never have command over this school, or the students it teaches!"

"You're wrong, Starlight..." Black clenched one of his hands into a fist. "You shouldn't have to force the rules on someone just to make things great. It should be made strong by everyone following the rules and making sure that no trouble comes from the students," his voice was stifled as he rasped. "You and Blueblood fail to understand the meaning of discipline, and that is why you will never win this battle!"

"You will not be winning this war either, Changeling!" Red Letter walked up to him and spat in his eye with perfect precision, watching as he squinted before he dried it. "You and your people are forcing the rules on us as well, making you the dictators in this struggle, not us!"

"Whether or not we are, it matters not to us. Your kind will be defeated, and Crystal Prep shall become a much better place than you thugs make it out to be! Even if you knock us down time and time again, even if you commit assault against the principal herself, and even if you have to hospitalize every other student in this school, we will never stop until the rebellion is put to an end, and you finally accept Chrysalis as your new leader!"

"Then you'd better hope that me and Blueblood come down with a terminal disease, because we won't stop until we win either!" Starlight shouted in Black's face. "All that matters now is that you have lost this battle to us, and it's only a matter of time before the majority of the students at Crystal Prep become Defectors!"

"Don't you see now? You lost this battle the second you formed yourself as the Changelings." Blueblood looked around the room whilst he stomped on Black's back. "Everyone wearing the old CPA uniform is one of us, and soon, it will all be uniform or Changeling garbs. Eventually, there will be no more students in this school for you to protect," he mocked. "Instead, there will be nothing but fighters who are willing to battle over the school, even if it means that the law has to get mixed up in it and has all of us arrested for repeated assault, harassment, and a number of other crimes."

"And when we get locked up, Crystal Prep will be hailed as an infamous school, and will have to close down due to the reduced grades, unorganized students, and the constant fight between both sides," Starlight smirked. "So even if we lose and get locked away, we'll still have won!" He threw his hands out to the side. "Chrysalis will be gone, and even though we won't get who we wanted, we'll have still cleaned this school of a wretched blight." She walked over to Blueblood, who stood aside to allow her to pick Black up and hang him over her shoulder. "You never stood a chance against us, Changeling scum! And it's only fair that you don't get to see what happens next." She threw him towards the ground, hearing his cries as his back smashed against the polished wood floor.

Starlight and Blueblood watched as the other Changelings were given the chance to run away and report back to Chrysalis. They watched as they stumbled to get out as they ran up the stairs and shut the doors behind them. The king and queen of the Defectors then picked up the bleeding Black and carried him up towards the exit before they threw him out and watched as he sprawled across the floor.

"What a shame that they believe that cruelty to students is the way to stop this fighting." Starlight joked as she shut the door on the motionless Changeling. "A pity, really. This could all be resolved if they just let us get on with our work."

"But this is the way that it has to be." Night Glider turned away and walked backstage. "We must all live under the rules for a better world..." She slumped down and sat against the wall with her head buried into her legs.

Sugar Belle came round whilst Starlight and Blueblood were getting the Defectors to clean up the mess that they had made. She noticed Night Glider had fallen into a slump, so she slowly approached her.

"Night Glider?" She held out her arm. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, Sugar Belle. I'm fine," Night Glider lied. "Oh, who am I kidding?!" She threw up her arms before curling up into a ball. "I'm tired of having to fight to get what I want! Why can't we just have Chrysalis act tougher and stricter?!"

"Wh-what are you talking about?" Sugar Belle sat next to her, hoping to learn what was making Night Glider distressed. "I thought you liked being a Defector?"

"I know we're about to win, and all, but what if I don't want to win? What if there really is a better way than having to be a bully?"

"I'm not sure Starlight or Blueblood would like you if you said that to them in person..." Sugar Belle started to sweat as she watched them pass out some bandages for the Defectors who had suffered cuts and bruises during the battle in the auditorium. "They don't like people lying to them. You remember when the Rainbooms infiltrated our ranks just to talk to us, right?"

"Yeah. How could I forget that?" Night Glider sat back up. "They seemed to be harmless, but those two just wanted to straight up villify them on the spot." She peaked out from backstage and saw the leaders of their group from a different perspective. "What if Starlight and Blueblood are wrong after all, and that the Rainbooms, Changelings, and Shadow Six are right in this endeavour?"

"Defecting against the Defectors is a bad idea, I'll admit," Sugar Belle's voice started stoic, but it then dissipated into a frown. "But I believe in what you're saying, Night Glider. I do see how you'd think about that from what we've all done together. But if you're planning to rebel against them, then you might find yourself in a full body cast if they find out..."

"Hey! Night Glider! Sugar Belle!" Red Letter called from the stage. "We're done here, and are moving out to the cafeteria for a well-earned lunch break," he said. "You can come with us, or you can get left behind. It's your choice."

"Coming!" They both said together before they stood up and walked out of the auditorium with the rest of their team.

As the group of Defectors walked towards the cafeteria for lunch, Sugar Belle and Night Glider were the only ones who felt guilty for the pain and suffering that they had inflicted. After a while, they eventually realized that the ways of Starlight, Blueblood, and their followers was entirely immoral and unneccessary in trying to prove their point. They twiddled their fingers and twitched repeatedly as their footsteps echoed across the hallways of CPA.

They dared not speak, in case the others in their group called them out for showing the slightest bit of remorse—or concern for the people that they hurt. Instead, they kept quiet, entered the hall, collected, and paid for their lunch. They then went upstairs to join the rest of the Defectors. As they sat down at a table together with three other girls, multiple thoughts ran through their minds, making them feel even more uncomfortable.

Author's Notes:

In case you're wondering why I added Night Glider and Sugar Belle into this story, it's because I wanted to show that not every Defector is generic, and that they all have certain personalities and views on the events that are going down at CPA.

If you like this chapter, then by all means, leave me a comment. Tell me if I did anything wrong in terms of grammar, or just leave a comment about what you think of the chapter. Now, I think that comments are the best way to let the writer know that their work is appreciated. So if you could drop one on this story, that'd be delightful.

And also, feel free to advertise this story and share it with your friends. It would be a great way for this story to gain a better following among other FIMFiction writers. I mean, I'd share the stories I read with other readers if they deserve more comments and such...

Chapter 8: Untold Pasts

Sugarcoat, Applejack, Sunset, and Twilight were all laid on their backs in the garden whilst gazing up into the night sky. Each of them was comforted with the serenity of the scene in front of them, yet they were still on edge with the recent events that had transpired at Crystal Prep.

As Sunset looked over at Sugarcoat, she couldn't help but wonder about her. Throughout everything that had happened, she had co-ordinated the team like a true strategist would: making a plan, seeing it through to the very end, and telling the girls what to do when the odds were stacked against them.

"Hey, Sugarcoat?" she eventually sat up and looked over at her. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure. What is it, Sunset?" the silver-haired girl sat up in response and looked her in the face.

"You know, I have to commend you for leading us yesterday. You spoke like a true leader, even though Twilight was watching us the whole time. But I have to wonder, how are you such a smart girl?"

Sugarcoat was taken aback for a second, but she immediately regained her composure and laid back down. "Where should I begin?" she spoke as casually as she could.

"The beginning would be nice," Twilight chuckled.

Sugarcoat smiled as she began to think back. "I don't exactly remember being born, as most others remember, but I can remember my earliest memory: Learning to read and write at the age of two," she explained. "From there, I developed somewhat of a better understanding of the things around me, until I eventually reached an age of five, where I was able to get a form of education.

"Because of my above average IQ at that time, I received a special invitation to a private kindergarten in the city; therefore, I was able to get what you would call a fast-track on learning," a small smirk crept on to her face as she reminded herself of her past. "When I joined the class, I actually met Twilight and Starlight. We were best friends for a long time since then."

"I remember the day when Sugarcoat first mispronounced tutti-frutti when we were going out to get ice cream together," Twilight sighed in content as she put her hands behind her head. "It took us almost the whole day to teach her how to say it right."

"So, wait a sec. You two were once friends with Starlight Glimmer?" Sunset sat back up and cocked both of her eyebrows at the girls.

"I guess she was pretty sad when Twilight transferred to Canterlot High," Applejack pulled her hat off of her head as she turned to face both Twilight and Sugarcoat. "But I can also guess that she was pretty furious when you decided not to join the Defectors, Sugarcoat."

"You're right on both occasions, Applejack," Sugarcoat nodded. "I actually helped her overcome the slight sorrow she felt the day after the Friendship Games. But when she and Blueblood enforced the Defectors and I turned her down, she snapped at me and we almost had a physical fight," her smile then evaporated and was replaced with a frown. "To think that my closest and best friend would throw a tantrum at me like that, burn bridges between us, and then side with the enemy. It actually makes me sad, girls, and this isn't just me being blunt.

"But anyway, back to my childhood." She shook her head as she noticed that she was getting off-track in her story. "When I was seven years old, I was old enough for elementary school; however, there weren't any schools that accounted for my current level of intellect, so I was simply put into the regular curriculum."

"I'm not sure if it was luck or general coincidence, but me, Sugarcoat, and Starlight all went through all of our classes together," Twilight looked up at the stars and had images of all three of them playing together as children. "We were peas in a pod, inseparable, and scored high marks in almost each and every class," she grinned as she remembered more and more.

"I remember that the three of us would often try to outdo each other if we had to do projects separately," Sugarcoat added. "But enough about that. After we had finished elementary school, we were eligible for senior years at a high-school."

"And I know where this story's going," Sunset spoke lightly. "With you three and your large IQs, you were enrolled in Crystal Prep in a heartbeat, right?"

"Yes. But it wasn't an easy chore getting in, mind you. Crystal Prep is a school with exceptional standards, as per the high level of education it offers. Most of the stuff that's taught there are things that belongs in a university rather than a high-school. And in order to get in, you needed to pass an entrance exam, to prove that you were a cut above the rest."

"It's widely regarded for not only winning the Friendship Games year after year, but for churning out more successful students than any other school in the country," Twilight added. "Some people moved on to being scientists, others became architects, but overall, it allowed you to pursue your dream and ensure that you obtained it by any cost." She reached her hand to the sky then made a grabbing gesture before she pulled it back down. "I originally had plans to head off to Everton to maximise my studies, but after the Friendship Games, well, we all know what happened then, don't we?"

"Yeah," Sunset put her hands behind her head before looking Twilight in the eyes. "I'm glad you decided to stay with us then have the rest of your education alone, Twilight."

"Wait a sec, what about Sugarcoat's time at CPA?" Applejack raised a finger. "I'm interested to know what happened between her and Twilight before the games. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that she was less than friendly to Twilight."

"Because me and Twilight had higher IQs that most of the other students, we were somewhat chastised by them." Sugarcoat readjusted her glasses once more. "They told us that we had to earn their respect before we could become friends, but given our knowledge, they usually called us names like gifted or teacher's pet.

"Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into entire terms, but we still hadn't made any progress with the students at CPA," she looked down at her feet and brushed a small tear away from her eyes. "Eventually, I accepted that there was no way that the students would appreciate what we said and did. As they decided to ignore us for the rest of the term, I lashed out at them verbally, bluntly calling out their interests as being ridiculous, their handwriting as sloppy, and their lack of respect towards us an insult to friendship," her face grew a scowl that was quelled when she turned and saw Sunset, Twilight, and Applejack eyeing her up. "Sorry, but I was being as brutally honest as I could get at that moment.

"It was only after I had calmed down that the students looked at me with their mouths agape, and one of them showed a little respect for what I had said," she went on. "They knew that I was right on all accounts, and they decided that I was just like the rest of them. I didn't see it as much of a praise comment when I slipped into my new personality, but it eventually stuck, and the friendly Sugarcoat was long gone to them."

"Sugarcoat and I were still friends, even when she had adopted her new blunt side, but slowly and surely, we grew more and more distant as time went on," Twilight took over. "We still bonded over our love for learning, but she quickly downgraded from a friend to an acquaintance with how she thought of everything. And by the time the Friendship Games came around, she had almost forgotten about me entirely."

"I didn't mean to discard you like that, Twilight," Sugarcoat looked Twilight in the eyes with regret for what had happened. "It wasn't in my nature to make you feel uncomfortable, bluntness or intimidation to unleash the Magic of Friendship against the world. I was just primed on winning, like everyone else."

"You can blame Cinch for that," Twilight said. "But I can't blame you for it. You were unaware on what was about to happen, and it led you to becoming a merciless player who only cared for CPA's victory. Apology accepted, Sugarcoat."

"Thanks, Twilight," Sugarcoat smiled and wrapped one of her arms around her friend's shoulders. "It really means a lot to know that after all that's been said and done, you'll still be one of my best friends."

"That's what friends do. They forgive each other for their mistakes."

"You know, you and your friends are kind of like us, Sugarcoat," Sunset said as she stood up and walked over to them. "We know Honesty, Loyalty, Kindness, Generosity, and Laughter, but you and your friends are almost exactly like that, but on a more radical and outlandish level, if that's not offensive."

"Not at all, Sunset. And your words fit us to a T," Sugarcoat turned to face her.

"Anyway, I wonder what the stories of the other Shadowbolts are?" Sunset got onto her feet and looked up into a lit window in Sugarcoat's house. "You've had an interesting one, I'll admit, but I wish we knew more about you and your friends."

Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash and Indigo Zap were busy sitting on separate bean bag chairs whilst playing a fighting game on a console in Sugarcoat's room. Each of them was ferociously pounding buttons, making their characters act accordingly to each combination that was typed in at blinding speeds. As each attack was dealt, the health bars on each side of the screen began to whittle down, until they both got close to the edge.

"You're a good player, Rainbow Dash," Indigo said through breaths as sweat began to trickle down her forehead. "Never had anyone last this long against me, especially since I tend to run the Mane-iac a whole lot."

"Thanks, Indigo," Rainbow responded as she tapped a certain combination that involved both of the triggers on the back of her console as well as most of the buttons and arrow keys. On the screen, it zoomed into her character as it glowed a violent red aura whilst letting out a determined battle cry before zooming out and grasping her opponent. "But now it's time for my favourite of Zap's moves: the Hurricane Cannonball!"

Indigo could only watch as the fight became a scene where her fighter was hurled skywards before Rainbow's flew up and created a tornado that absorbed the helpless character. Twelve rapid punches were dealt within the tornado before it spat the Mane-iac back out and sent her tumbling towards the ground. It was then that Zapp dashed down to the ground and delivered a dropkick that lasted until they both hit the ground. A massive crater was made, and in it, both characters stood back up, only for the victim of the attack to fall to their chest whilst it said, "Zapp Wins!" on the screen.

"Yes!" Rainbow threw her arms up into the air before putting the controller down and shaking Indigo's hand. "Thanks. That was a close game."

"You too, Rainbow Dash." Indigo tossed her controller to the side as she stood back up. "I've been waiting for a challenge on Power Princesses: New Millennium ever since the tournament a few months ago."

"I'd heard about that. They had some of the best of the best at that tournament. And you were in it?"

"Yep. Made it all the way to the grand finals," Indigo put her hands behind her head as she laid herself down on Sugarcoat's bed. "It was a close game, but my opponent, Finishing Move, must've spent his whole life playing that game. I couldn't even drop his health down below fifty-percent with how accurately he timed his attacks."

"Well, I'm sorry to hear that you lost at the final match, but it's still very impressive that you made it that far," Rainbow Dash walked over to the bed and knelt down towards Indigo. "Were you upset when he creamed you?"

"Nah. If anything, he inspired me to push myself to the limits and better myself. Weeks and weeks after that, I'd been working harder on my studies, excelling in gym class, and mastering any kind of video game you could send my way."

"I take it you're very competitive, considering how close that fight was."

"You know it! I'm one of those people who likes a good contest. The Friendship Games was no different. Sure, at the time, we thought you were just easy pickings back then, but had I known that the events would have turned out like that, I would have been even more psyched!"

"How did you get the need to win?" Rainbow Dash raised one of her eyebrows. "Not everyone can be excited for a competition, battle, or just a general test to see who's better. Heck, even I didn't even start out as a sporty girl."

"It goes back to when I was a kid," Indigo saw the past being recreated in her mind. "When I was eight years old, I was invited onto my school's soccer team. They were a student down and just about to enter the last game to qualify for a junior tournament," she sighed. "That was my first ever game of soccer, and man, was it amazing. The opponents we fought were playing very well, but the scores were eventually two all at the end. And because it was to get into a tournament, we went into penalties.

"Five students from each team kicked that ball, and as I watched with anticipation on where it would land, I just felt really pumped," Indigo spread her arms out as she basked in her euphoria. "Both our sides got the ball in three times, and our opponents missed their final goal. And as I waited to hear who would be taking the last kick for our team, I was both surprised and nervous to hear my name being called to make the last shot.

"You should have been there, Rainbow. The tension was so thick, you could cut it with a butter knife. As I said, I was nervous back then. All eyes were on me, and it was down to me to decide whether or not we would make the cut. I took a deep breath, put on the aviator goggles my dad gave me, made knuckles out of my hands, and charged at that ball." She used her hands for each part of her sentence, moving them in different ways to illustrate her point. "When I got to the ball, my leg came up high, and I took one last breath as I shut my eyes and thrust it straight at the ball. And as the goalie lunged forward to defend it, she barely missed by the skin of her fingernails. It hit the net, and I just leapt up in glee with the fact that I'd won the team the victory they so desperately needed!" She threw herself off of the bed and imitated the cheering crowd. "Fans were delighted for me, arms were up, cheers resounded, and I had made a whole bunch of new friends and teammates."

"You won them the game. You deserved to get all those friends." Rainbow patted Indigo's back. "But I gotta ask. Did you show off after that?"

"Not really. I was more of a teammate encourager. I just pointed them in the right direction and we played really well against our opponents. Game after game, my words got the team going, and our opponents kept dropping like flies. And while I did make most of the goals in that season, I didn't really gloat a whole lot. I'm not like one of those people who ask for a lot of money or something. I'm just in it for the game, nothing else."

"When I made it into Canterlot High, I had to work my way up to being the captain of every sports team. I had to start out as a rookie on the soccer team, then I had to join the baseball, basketball, and football teams as well. And I've gotta say, each and every one of them took me almost a month each before I earned my captain status."


"Yeah. Some guys even tried to get me to read books, but I learn a game better when I'm actually playing it first-hand."

"You're real lucky then." Indigo pulled the goggles off of her head and put them aside. "When I was at Crystal Prep, I had to read books on the mechanics of each and every sport they taught there. Cinch would stop at nothing until we had all read the books, inside and out, to the point where we could recite it by heart." She hung her head and let out a long sigh before sitting back down on the bed. "It kinda took the fun out of it, if you know what I'm saying."

"Yeah. I know what you mean, Indy," Rainbow Dash had a smile that only got bigger. "Do you mind if I call you Indy for short?"

"Not really. I mean, Lemon calls me that, and I think Pinkie does as well, so sure. I don't mind if you call me that as well."

"Great!" Rainbow did a mini fist-pump.

"Anyway, after that one tournament, I just kept winning and winning," Indigo leaned back against the wall and slipped the goggles back onto her forehead. "I was somewhat of a mini-celebrity, making headlines as we just kept on going," She pulled out her phone and Rainbow the pictures. Each headline showed her holding up the trophy with the rest of her team. "Cinch must have taken notice of my winning streak, because I was invited to Crystal Prep after finishing in elementary school."

"How'd it go?"

"Well, aside from all of the lectures, I was actually really glad to be at a school where I was recognized for my talent. I entered all of the sports teams there and, just like you, I had to make a living off of starting at the bottom of the ladder and climbing up to the top. When the games came round again, I was one of the first to apply. As you know, they had a ranking system where only the top twelve would represent the school. They trained us both mentally and physically, filling our minds with knowledge, and pushing our muscles to the limit to ensure that we were ready to defeat the Wondercolts. The rankings eventually came in a few days before the events and – and I don't mean to brag here – I was at the top of the leaderboard with my friends taking up places two through five."

"Why was Twilight in your team, then?"

"She had the brains needed for the mental events, but she had no physical qualities whatsoever." Indigo stopped herself as she then noticed a contradiction to Twilight's place in the Friendship Games. "Actually. That brings up a good question: Why did she even participate for the games in the first place, let alone qualify?"

"Yeah. She's more of a nerd, and an athletic thing like the Friendship Games doesn't seem right for someone like her..." Rainbow was having trouble working it out. "So what particularly motivated her to join the team?"

"Ah well, it's a mystery for another day, Rainbow." Indigo shrugged and threw herself back on one of the beanbag chairs and picked up her controller. "What do you say we make it best two out of three?"

"Oh, it's on, Indy!" Rainbow smiled as she placed herself back down in her chair and picked up her controller as well.

Rarity, Fluttershy, Sunny Flare, and Lemon Zest were all relaxing in the living room, watching a documentary on rare and exotic creatures that lived in the tropical ocean. Shoeless, the girls were all huddled up together as if they were keeping warm from the chill of a winter's evening.

"You know, there is something I've been meaning to ask since we met each other, Sunny," Rarity pulled herself from her motionless comfort and looked her in the eyes. "How did you and your friends make it into Crystal Prep in the first place?"

"Well, Crystal Prep does have a very selective process when it comes to enrolling new students," Sunny began to explain. "For the high standards that the school has, it's quite hard to decide who will be a part of the new term."

"But if we're being totally frank, most of the students at CPA had to buy their way in." Lemon took off her headphones and put them down on the table before turning to face Rarity. "Whoever those guys and gals are, their parents must have been loaded if they could get into Crystal Prep."

"The only other way to get in the school is if you get recognized by your talent and pass the entrance exam," Sunny Flare took over. "Something that me, my friends, and a few other students did get in for."

"So, how did you get in, Sunny?" Fluttershy asked.

"Well, much like Twilight, I'm also a little sister of a CPA alumni," Sunny leaned back in the couch. "His name was Solar Power, and he had earned high marks and a degree in science whilst he was there. And by the time Cinch had molded him, he was given a doctorate within a few weeks.

"I made it into Crystal Prep because I shared connections with someone who had been there in the past," she went on. "They have a secret method of application where if you're the sibling of someone who goes there, or has graduated, then you can get in free of charge."

"Interesting," Rarity scratched at her chin. "And are you the only one who went through that process?"

"I don't know, but I think that there are others who did. I just haven't met them yet."

"What about you, Lemon Zest? How did you get into CPA?" Fluttershy looked over to her.

"My family got me in because they were loaded with cash," Lemon looked over at her headphones. "I'm the daughter of a famous DJ duo called Laser Lights and Dubstep Blast: the most famous DJs on public radio," she fiddled with her finger for a bit. "They worked for a bunch of stations until they earned enough money to start their own, and the success just kept going from there.

"As the years went by, they brought entertainment to people across the country with their many different radio games, songs, top ten lists, and more. They even found a way to make news exciting, even when it sounded boring in reality," Lemon kept going. "Then, Laser Lights announced that she was pregnant with me, so the show kinda went off the airwaves for a bit."

"When I was five years old, and able to understand the concept of music, they revived the show and made it just as successful and popular as it was back then, but with even more exciting things. In fact, it wasn't long before I had to start playing a part in their shows. I just wish I could have seen their reactions to how adorable I sounded as a kid."

"What was the name of your show?" Rarity's brows ascended with interest.

"It was called Music Megalomania, and it combined sound effects with famous songs, news articles, and more," Lemon replied.

"Oh! I've heard of that show!" Rarity finally put it all together and could remember how it sounded. "My parents would always put it on when they drove me to elementary school on a morning. I, or course, do remember a child being on there, but I could never have guessed or believed that it was you all along."

"Your family must've been pretty good with you if they earned that much money for their show." Fluttershy commended Lemon Zest whilst patting on her back.

"Yeah. With all the money we made, getting into CPA was a snap," Lemon sighed in content. "But because I had to go there, it meant I could only do the show with my parents on weekday evenings. And while I am still glad for doing the weekend shows all the way to the end, I just felt like it was better with me doing the show each and every day for as long as possible.

"My parents also knew that I was gonna be away from the show, so on my sixteenth birthday, I was given these babies." She picked her headphones back up and slipped them onto her ears. "Not only do they get me moving on a morning, but they're a constant reminder that I'm the daughter of a famous DJ couple, and that I shouldn't let some high-class school change who I really am."

"Was the school a little bit of a damper on that personality, though?" Rarity asked. "I mean, you were there at the time of Cinch, so there must have been some rules that meant you couldn't truly be yourself."

"Nah. It was fine, Rarity. The only thing that really changed me there was that dress code," Lemon leaned against the arm of the chair. "Despite the fact that she was stricter than any woman I've ever met, I was still allowed to wear the headphones at times where I wasn't part of lessons. Meaning that during the breaks between each period, and at lunch, I was able to truly cut loose and show the school who I really was."

"Well, it's good to hear that you had fun at Crystal Prep, even with the rules trying to drag you down."

"Thanks. I'm sure that you and your friends had fun at Canterlot High as well before all of this."

"Well, not really. Back before the other Twilight came to our world, Canterlot High was divided into multiple groups. This was the work of Sunset Shimmer before Twilight was able to break through to her and make her see the Magic of Friendship."

"Sunset was a jerk?" Sunny Flare looked at Rarity with wide eyes. "I would never believe that now..."

"Believe it or not, it was true, Sunny," Fluttershy timidly added. "She was awful back then, but she's been able to change her tune a whole lot since the Fall Formal incident."

"Yes. And since then, she's been all for reforming people who have done bad things in the past and want to change," Rarity agreed. "Her attitude went from selfish to selfless, and she's constantly been molding Canterlot High into a perfect vision of friendship."

"Well, that's good to know," Sour Sweet walked into the room and leaned against the wall. "I don't think I'd ever be as good as her," she showed her cruel side. "Mainly because I'd fail before I even begin!"

"Oh, hey, Sour!" Lemon came around and stood next to her by the wall. "How are things doing with Pinkie Pie?"

"Oh, it's fine, Lemon Zest. She and I were cooking dinner with Make Easy and Fudge Numbers," she explained. "That little girl sure is cute, but I wish she'd choose something other than mac and cheese. Ugh, so plain."

"Anyway, Sour Sweet. Me and your friends were just discussing on how they made it into Crystal Prep," Rarity walked over. "I was just beginning to wonder how you got in, considering your rather... undecidable behaviour."

Sour Sweet let out a long sigh as she sat down. "To tell you the truth, Rarity, Crystal Prep is the last chance I have of graduating. I've been expelled from every other school I've been a part of because of how angry I can get when provoked."

"Oh my." Fluttershy came over and gently rubbed Sour Sweet's back in an attempt to make her feel better. "Tell us about it."

"Most of the time, I had been a good little girl at my other schools. I always behaved how the teachers wanted me to, I always showed up on time, and I spoke up the most when they wanted to hear an answer to a question," Sour Sweet began to explain. "But when I was out on the playgrounds with some jerk named Drill Bit and his friends, he just pushed and pushed me to the breaking point until I finally lashed out and held him down in a wrestling posture.

"Everyone was shocked to see this, and I was called up to the principal's office for it," she continued. "It was a blemish on my record, and it just kept going and going the more that that punk kept rearing his ugly head towards me!" as she recalled her past, her rage kept growing. "That kid made my time out on the playground a living nightmare, and it ultimately got me expelled when I knocked him out cold one day!"

"That's dreadful!" Rarity exclaimed. "He had no reason to attack you!"

"And yet he had made me attack him straight back," Sour grunted as she resumed her story. "I had to move to another state to try a new school. And just like before, good grades, bully at the playgrounds," her rage endured as she went through each and every school after that. "I went through this cycle repeatedly until I was able to get into high school. And by that time, my parents were sick and tired of me having tantrums, so they put me in Crystal Prep in the hopes that it would educate me on not to hurt others."

"But believe me when I say that even then, she was still a little rough around the edges," Sunny Flare took over. "Since most of the students there were too focused on victory and other stuff, they were completely caught off-guard by Sour Sweet's threats, to the point where some of them were actually afraid of her at some points."

"Despite the fact that I still suffer from my condition, I have been able to control it a little better after Cinch taught me." Sour Sweet stood back up and made her hand into a fist. "With her methods, I found it easier to decide who I should be nice to, and who I should hate with a burning passion."

"What were her methods, exactly?" Rarity asked.

"She said that students who stepped out of line weren't to be trusted, whilst students who knew and obeyed the rules could be judged on how they acted towards the rest of the students," Sour explained. "With those ones, what they did determined whether they could be likeable or hateable. Twist, Sugar Belle, and Suri Polomare were the nice ones, giving some students a leg-up when they were beginning to fall behind on their studies. And then there's the jerks like Blueblood, Neon Lights, and Red Letter, who have contempt for the ones that begin to struggle. Huh. Doesn't surprise me that they would be Defectors now, considering how they acted in the past."

"So, you've been kept in line with her teachings, right?"

"Yeah. You could say that. But after she got fired, I'm beginning to see things in a whole other light. I know that I can control myself better now, and that I don't always have to be cruel, but I've still got some things to learn about being able to be one or the other without having to flip."

All of a sudden, Make Easy showed up and said, "Dinner's ready, you girls!"

"Coming!" Lemon Zest smiled. "Come on, girls! It's time to eat!"

With smiles on their faces, the girls all came into the dining room where Sugarcoat, Applejack, Twilight, and Sunset were already sitting down waiting. As Sour Sweet, Lemon Zest, Rarity, Sunny Flare, and Fluttershy sat down, Pinkie Pie came down with Indigo Zap and Rainbow Dash.

Make Easy, Fudge Numbers, Pinkie Pie, and Beat Bush all set the food on plates and gave the whole group their meals. As everyone sat down, they all tucked in, comfortable with the fact that they were starting to understand each other better now that their stories had been told.

Each of the Shadowbolts and Rainbooms looked at each other with smiles on their faces as they took bites of the macaroni and cheese. After hearing the tales that they had shared, they were beginning to feel more like friends instead of acquaintances. With their bonds beginning to grow, they felt like they could conquer any obstacle that came their way.

Author's Notes:

Hello, everyone. I hope that you all enjoyed this chapter and the characterization of the Shadowbolts. Much like all of the other ideas I have, this one came to me out of the blue after seeing how they acted during Friendship Games.

I think that my favourite character to write in this story is either Sugarcoat or Indigo Zap, since I have so much to work with when I'm typing up dialogue for the two of them. Sugar's bluntness made me think that she was intelligent, whereas Indigo's drive to win gave me her competitive headcanon.

The RainDigo scene was one of my favourites to write in this particular chapter because I could truly express how Indy felt simply by dialogue alone. I'm always one for trying out new things, and I think that there's no shame in letting the dialogue explain it for you if you really don't want to make a flashback scene in your stories.

Oh, and on the topic of RainDigo, I'm the founder of a new RainDigo group that's currently trending right now on the top twenty list over on Groups.

Check it out there, or use this link here: http://www.fimfiction.net/group/209661/raindigo-rainbowxindigo

Also, be sure to leave behind a comment, share this story with your friends, and maybe leave me a follow if you do enjoy this sort of story, and I'll see you soon for another chapter.

Chapter 9: Starlight's Plan

"Starlight? Might I ask what you're planning?" Blueblood asked as she and Starlight looked at Canterlot High with a bunch of other Defectors. His partner and the queen of his group had a wicked grin on her face as she put her hands togehter. "I know that we're trying to take over Crystal Prep with everything we have, but how does CHS fit into the equation?"

"Simple." Starlight pulled out the newspaper that showed Twilight as the monster she had become during the games. "She went on and on about magic, but was ultimately trumped by Sunset Shimmer and her friends. From that, we learned of five words that call this magic to the surface: Loyalty, Honesty, Kindness, Generosity, and Laughter."

"But none of us could possibly muster up those elements now!" Blueblood threw his arms out to the side. "We've been known for multiple horrible acts at CPA, that we'd never be able to use those principles in our plan for victory, let alone use them to better the school!"

"Hush, Blueblood!" Starlight put a hand over his mouth to prevent him and his group from being discovered. "We can't use them, you're right. But I know someone who can." She pointed at a window into a room where Sunset Shimmer and her friends were all having a lesson. "Why else do we have these lockets around our necks?" She pulled out one of her uniform's head hole. It had the exact same design as the one that Twilight had used, but it had Starlight's logo in the ring instead.

"Ahh. I see," he saw the other Defectors pull out lockets of their own, with their own emblems in the ring instead of Twilight's.

"Those meddlesome cretins have fouled up CPA with their precious Magic of Friendship for long enough now," Starlight scowled under her breath. "We need to put an end to this insidious insubordination before they infect the other students into believing their gobbledygook about unity and togetherness."

"Red Letter. You, Neon, Jet Set, and Svengallop are with me. The rest are with Starlight," Blueblood gave the orders to each of the Defectors, who quickly stood by him and his partner. "Move into CHS during their break, then follow Sunset and her pitiful friends," he said. "They need to stop hogging all the magic for themselves, and let others take control for once!"

And as the bell rang, the Defectors all ran into Canterlot High, tucked their lockets back into their uniforms, then leisurely moved through the bustling crowd with fake smiles plastered onto their faces.

This is the beginning of the end, Sunset Shimmer, Starlight thought as she moved through the crowd Once we're done stealing your precious magic, we'll uncover the truth behind it, and give all of our allies a powerful upgrade. And then, once we're done with CPA, we'll extend our philosophies and our control to Canterlot High, her grin contorted maliciously as she kept on walking. And besides, I think you all looked cute in our Defector clothing. But let's see if Canterlot High uniforms will make you just as sweet as you were back then...

As Sunset Shimmer walked into the library to study for her next lesson, she couldn't help but notice that Dean Cadence was slumped against the wall with her hand on her chin. the red-haired girl was intrigued to learn what the dean had on her mnd, but knew at the same time that she had to keep on studying.

"Are you okay, Dean Cadence?" Sunset walked over towards her, putting the book back in her backpack.

"Huh? Oh, yes. I'm fine, Sunset," she sighed. "I've just got a lot on my mind right now."

"About what?"

"The Defectors, and how Principal Chrysalis is trying to subdue them. I know she means well, but she's treating this like it's an actual civil war, and all of the other students are constantly being dragged into the power struggles between her and Blueblood."

"Starlight and Blueblood are fighting for order and discipline, just like CPA was before the Friendship Games. But the way they're going about is entirely immoral and against everything they stand for. They're just not seeing it yet."

"It's a pity, really." Cadence stood back up and picked up a book on resolving conflicts. "There's a much better way to end fighting between two sides, even if they're so engrossed in it that they can't stop for anyone or anything else other than themselves."

"But there's the thing, Cadence. They've been brawling for almost a month now, and I think that Starlight and Blueblood are gathering more and more followers with each passing day. They're not just fighting because they feel like it, they're fighting because they believe it's the way to a better future. when in reality, they'll just be turning CPA into a dictatorship."

"But what can we do that'll get them to stop other than Chrysalis become just as heartless as Cinch was?"

"We've got some friends from Crystal Prep helping us through these dark times: Sunny Flare, Sour Sweet, Indigo Zap, Sugarcoat, and Lemon Zest. I'm sure you've heard of them?"

"Yes. They were at the top of the leaderboard during the Friendship Games applications. But I'm not sure what they've got planned for the fight against the Defectors." Cadence cocked one of her eyebrows. "Unless it's to provide more aid for the Changelings, I don't see how five of our own can possibly change things between the two fighting sides."

"They're smarter, stronger, and much more helpful than you might think," Sunset pulled out a picture that showed her friends from both CHS and CPA all smiling. "The five of them have helped us learn what we need to know about those thugs, but now we're just wondering if Chrysalis will listen to this intel and make Crystal Prep a more disciplined but fair place, without going back to the ways of the past."

"But if things go back to the way of Abacus Cinch with Chrysalis at the head of it all, it will feel like everything's gone back to normal. And that won't benefit the students in any way, shape, or form," Cadence sighed and hung her head. "I'm not sure what you've all got planned, but at this point, anything's better than going back to the time before the games."

"Don't worry. You can count on us, Dean Cadence." Sunset stood up and pulled out the book to contact Princess Twilight. "No matter what comes our way, we'll face it together as friends. We'll brave the toughest of challenges and make Crystal Prep just as friendly as Canterlot High."

"That's good to know, Sunset," Cadence also got back onto her feet and put both of her hands on the tan girl's shoulders. "I'm counting on you and your friends to save our school from the tyranny of the Defectors."

Unbeknownst to her, Starlight, Sugar Belle, Night Glider, Upper Crust, and Suri Polomare were all standing directly above them, watching down from the banisters. Their lockets vibrated, and their grins grew wider as they pulled them out of their uniforms once again. As they watched Sunset open the book, they opened up their devices in response.

And as Sunset pulled out a pen and put it down on the blank papers of the next free sheet, she felt an excruciatingly painful electric shock run through her body as the magic inside of her was being pulled out of her once more. She groaned in anguish as the Defectors absorbed the energy that flowed out, until she sprawled onto the floor and dropped both the pen and the book. Only when she had fallen did the flow of red energy stop and the females from Crystal Prep vanished out the door to the roof, shutting their lockets as they did so.

"Sunset! What happened?!" Cadence ran over and picked the groaning girl up, only to feel a slight jolt of static energy touch her fingers and cause her to stumble backwards briefly, knocking over some of the books on the shelves behind her.

"I'm not sure, Dean Cadence," her voice was very light, as if she had just suffered a beating. "But I think that we've got a problem on our hands."

"What sort of problem?"

"Look!" Sunset pointed towards the roof door, which was suddenly shut and locked. "They knew this would happen, but we didn't know that they'd come this early."

"What came this early?"

"The Defectors," Sunset cursed under her breath. "Sugarcoat and the others warned that if we didn't return to Crystal Prep, they would come to Canterlot High looking for us instead. But I still don't get why they haven't made their move against us yet."

"What did you do to make them angry?"

"We needed to get into their numbers to find out what they were fighting for, but in order to do that, we needed to don Defector clothing and have our hairstyles completely redone. We fooled everyone else, but Blueblood and Starlight came along and immediately ratted us out because they knew who we were from the get-go. Twilight had been speaking to us via earpieces, and she contacted Indigo and Lemon who set off the fire alarm to deafen them. We escaped, but Starlight was very close in catching us."

"I remember that there was a fire alarm that day, but I never would have guessed that you and your friends were the cause of it."

"We did what we had to do, Cadence," Sunset apologized. "The Defectors would have hospitalized us if we hadn't done that. And it's better to run away from a fight rather than to face it and lose."

"But even so, escaping has only angered them even more, wouldn't you agree?" Cadence tipped her hand. "Who's to say that they won't drag you back there kicking and screaming until their justice is done?"

"And yet they haven't struck yet, even though they're here already. Something's not right..."

Blueblood and his team poked out of a nearby bush and onto the soccer field of CHS. They watched as Rainbow Dash met with Applejack for a game of soccer. As the two girls got together, the five male thugs from CPA pulled out their devices and rubbed them tenderly, licking their lips as they patiently waited for the magic of the two girls to be unearthed once again.

"Tell me, something, Rainbow," Applejack said. "Why do you always call me to the soccer field instead of the rest of your team?"

"It's just that the rest of my team aren't much of a challenge now that I can Pony-Up," Rainbow sighed as she put her hands behind her head. "I'm not saying that they're bad, they're still useful, but they just can't do what I can, in a way."

"Yeah. I know how you feel, Rainbow Dash. My family always has to climb up trees to pick the apples off, when I can just Pony-Up and kick them all down into buckets. I guess that we're all just a little too powerful for our own good with this magic inside of us. It's still a great thing to have, but I feel like we're relying on it a little too much nowadays."

"When we get those ears, tails, and those wings, I just feel like nothing's a challenge anymore. We can just blitz straight through it without even breaking a sweat. Now I'm not complaining about this either, but I just want a bit of a challenge. I'm sure you understand."

"I do, and I get the feeling that this whole trouble with the Defectors might just be the challenge we're talking about." Applejack climbed up the bleachers and looked out onto the city. "Given everything that's happened at Crystal Prep, and here at Canterlot High, I imagine that those bullies are nothing like sirens, demons, or anything else otherworldly that's plagued this world. If anything, they might be the toughest hate group I've ever met."

"And then there's Starlight and Blueblood." Rainbow Dash followed Applejack up to the top and stood beside her. "Those two have a pretty strong grip on those jerks. They're gonna be the hardest to reason with, and might even try to strike us down without even letting us talk to them and convince them that there's another way."

"I'll be honest with you, Rainbow. She's gonna be the hardest nut to crack, considering she was the only one who chased after us when we deafened the Defectors. I'm not even sure that even with us and the Shadowbolts, we'll get through her and and stop the fighting from escalating."

"But we'll get through this together, Applejack. I'll make sure that we stop the fighting and that Crystal Prep changes for the better! Together, the twelve of us can overcome anything, and I'm not gonna just sit down and watch as the Defectors mess everything up!" Applejack fist-pumped, and all of a sudden, she began to glow a bright shade of blue. From there, she gained her wings, ears, extended hair, and tail.

"Well, I reckon you're right, Rainbow. We'll power through this together. You, me, our friends, and the Shadowbolts. No matter what comes our way, we'll face it together as friends!" Applejack's words also gave her a Pony-Up. In seconds, she gained her ears and tail, as well as a hair extension.

"They've called it. Go!" Blueblood whispered to the Defectors who already pulled out their lockets, held them skyward, and opened them all up. He was the last one to do so, but as soon as he did, the uniformed males all watched as blue and orange magic was drawn from the two girls, spiralling downwards and stopping once they hit the techonological framing on the inside.

From the bleachers, Rainbow and Applejack fell to their knees and groaned as the Defectors siphoned their energy and cut their Pony-Ups short. Clutching their temples in agony, the two girls could do nothing as their energy flowed right out of them and into the hands of their enemies.

"Those jerks!" Rainbow exclaimed through her cries of anguish as she watched the energy pour down the back of the bleachers and into the bush nearby. "I'm gonna give them a real pounding for this!"

"Don't, Rainbow! That'll give them an excuse to say that we're no better than them!" Applejack reached out and grabbed her friend's leg as the flow finally stopped. "Attacking someone is one thing, but if we take it without retaliating, then we're the better people, not them."

"But they just stole our magic, Applejack! You saw it, right?!"

"Yeah. I did, but now we kow how to stop them from taking the rest of it from our friends."

"How?" Rainbow Dash raised a brow as she stood back up.

"We just have to tell our friends to stop showing off the truest parts of themselves for now," Applejack explained. "This magic only comes out when we do that, but if we don't do it..."

"Then the Defectors came to CHS for nothing!" Rainbow cracked a smile as she realized where her friend was going. "Great thinking, AJ!"

"But we'd better hurry." Applejack jumped off of the bleachers and felt a shock run through her legs as she landed on the grass. She watched Rainbow Dash do the exact same thing, but without the shakiness when she touched down. "If we're not fast enough, we'll already be too late..."

As Rarity looked through her backpack to find something, she heard and felt her cell phone buzzing. She stopped what she was doing and pulled out the phone from her pocket. Turning it on, she found a message from Sunset Shimmer, and then two more from Applejack and Rainbow Dash.

At first, she was happy to see the notifications, but when she actually saw the messages for herself, a grimace swept across her face. The messages all said, "The Defectors are here. Don't Pony-Up or you'll be helping Starlight and Blueblood advance their evil plans!"

"The Defectors? Those ruffians are ditching Crystal Prep just to come after us?" Rarity questioned the messages that were on her screen before typing up her response. As she typed, she said to herself, "But why? Why would they leave their school and possibly most of their ground to the Changelings?"

Once she had finished typing her responses, she went down towards the lunch hall to meet the rest of her friends. She slung the backpack over her shoulders whilst cautiously looking back every now and again to make sure that she wasn't being followed. Each and every time she turned back and saw nothing, she couldn't help but feel more and more vulnerable.

Starlight poked out of one of the rooms Rarity passed by and curiously gazed at the locket around her neck. As she pointed it at the purple-haired girl, it began to react in ways that the old one never did. The whole ring turned purple, and when Starlight opened the locket up, a powerful pulse shot out of the room and struck the fashionista.

"What the?!" exclaimed Rarity as the pulse forced her to Pony-Up. Without warning, she was given her ears, her tail, and her extended hair; however, it was short-lived when Starlight's locket pulled it straight out of her and into the devices for her and her fellow Defectors. "You cowards! Come out and face me like proper ladies and gentlemen!" the robbed girl scowled as she watched the stream fly right into the room where the thieves were hiding.

As Starlight closed the locket, she held out a black ball and waited until Rarity got to the door. As soon as it was opened, she threw the ball down, engulfing them all in a thick cloud of smoke which made the white girl cough and splutter as the blinding fumes went into her mouth and nostrils.

The Defectors all escaped past Rarity before darting down another hallway to find another of her friends. When they were sure they had escaped her, they blended back in with the crowd of students who were moving towards the lunch hall to eat, making sure to hide their devices away under their uniforms once again.

Interesting... Starlight looked back down at her clothes and felt the locket warmly vibrating on her chest. So these devices, when calibrated correctly, can also force those brats to show their magic? she grinned once more. So we don't really need to wait for them to show off their true selves. We just have to strike them all at once with these devices. I'm even impressing myself with this plan.

Sunset, Applejack, Rarity, Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie were all eating together in the lunch room, on the lookout for the Defectors. As they took each bite, they felt more and more unsettled as they started to eye up each of the students. For all they knew, their enemies could have disguised themselves as average students at CHS.

"I don't get it, though," Rarity spoke up after finishing another bite of her food. "Why would the Defectors abandon Crystal Prep just to come here and seek vengeance against us?"

"They're probably still angry about us being a part of their numbers, so now they're coming into our school and infiltrating our ranks, just to spite us for what happened back at CPA."

"Well, either way, when we find them, they're not only going to be reported to Celestia and Luna, but they'll also have to hear from their parents, and from Chrysalis at Crystal Prep," Rainbow's brows lowered as she put her hands on her chin. "For their actions, they'll suffer either a really long detention, or a complete expulsion. And if that's not enough, their parents are gonna be so angered that they'll ground those punks for life."

"What?!" Sunset lurched back at Rainbow's beliefs. "That'll only make them angrier, to the point where they'll relentlessly attack us and both schools with a burning passion. There's no need to anger someone further, Rainbow Dash. It's bad enough that they hate us, CPA, and CHS, but if they get so mad that they become berzerkers, then we'll be the ones to blame.

"I don't want to be responsible for making our enemies any angrier, and neither should you," she pointed towards Rainbow. "This is something that we have to resolve without provoking them, or getting their families and the law involved. I know it's tougher and longer this way, but it's the only way we can fix this problem without making it even worse."

"But at the same time, who's to say that the Defectors won't get even worse now that we've interfered in their business?" Rarity raised her finger. "Not to put a damper on things, but I have the feeling that we've made things harder for ourselves for being involved in this little conflict."

"Maybe we should just duck out and hide out for just a little longer," Fluttershy suggested. "I've heard things of the Defectors being bullies, but I don't really want to go back to CPA just to get beaten up, even if our new friends need our help that badly."

"Fluttershy. I know how you're feeling." Sunset walked over and put a hand on the timid girl's shoulder. "We're all frightened about what the Defectors are capable of, but only as friends can we stop them from being thugs and bring a new golden age to CPA."

"The one major concern I have with the Defectors is the fact that they know about the magic you girls all have, and have begun to hunt it," Twilight spoke up. "I received messages from Rainbow Dash and Applejack, as well as Rarity that the Defectors came out of nowhere and used perfect copies of the device that I had used for the Friendship Games. If they've taken their power, then that immediately makes them a major threat not just to the Changelings and CPA, but to us, Canterlot High, and even the entire world!"

"And that's why we'll beat them together, as friends. Sure, the odds are against us, but we can pull through. We've been through some pretty tough things, and we've always come out on top."

"Are you sure that it'll be enough to win this time?"

"Trust me, Twilight. This is one battle that we can't and won't lose." Sunset put her arm on the spectacled-girl's shoulder. "And as long as you have us by your side, we can do anything..."

All of a sudden, the pulse appeared again, engulfling the whole lunch room and getting everyone to turn their heads in shock as the Rainbooms magic was forced onto the surface, then immediately pulled away from them and out of the door. As the whole ordeal went on, all that the girls could do was cry out in pain as their magic was pulled out of their bodies, and Starlight and Blueblood walked in.

"Well, well, well. Isn't this a cosy little scene?" Starlight stepped into the room with Blueblood and the rest of the Defectors, who had their lockets open to contain the energy that was spilling out of the Rainbooms.

"Starlight!" Sunset, despite being in pain, was still able to violently crane her neck sideways so she could glare at her "What are you doing?!"

The purple-haired girl let out a little cackle before the rest of the magic flew into the lockets and they simply snapped shut, despite the fact that they were now bulging with energy. "I'd tell you, but I don't want to ruin the surprise!" she responded as Sunset fell to her knees. "But I will say that your time with that magic is up, and that you need to share, even if we need to steal it from you!"

"Starlight! Stop this!" Twilight ran over and got onto her knees. "You don't know what you're getting yourself into! I've been down this exact same road, and it only led to destruction and ruin!" she poured her heart out, causing the queen of the Defectors to raise a brow briefly. "Please. Just stop this. There's a better way..."

"You're right, Twilight. There is," Starlight spoke mellifluously as she put one of her fingers on her former friend's chin and looked her in the eyes with a smile devoid of happiness. "What happened back at the games was a slight blemish on the formula. Because it wasn't studied, it went berzerk and enveloped you," she said. "We will not make the same mistake that she did. We are going to take this back to CPA, study it, and then unleash it upon you, your miserable friends, and those irksome Shadowbolts that have plagued us for so long!" She threw Twilight to the ground and ran out the door with the other Defectors.

"Stop!" Sunset got to her feet and ran after Starlight, Blueblood, and the Defectors, with her friends close behind. Bolting out of the door, she careened down the corridors to try and keep up with the uniformed bandits.

"You've been flaunting this magic thing for long enough now!" Starlight shouted back as she pointed at other students, prompting the Defectors to throw them at the ground to try and trip Sunset up. "It's time that we use your stuff for once!"

Sunset leaped over the felled students like hurdles, desperate to chase after the bullies who had stolen the magic from her and her friends. With each and every leap, she closed the gap on the Defectors, but they just threw more and more down in the hopes that they would catch her off-guard.

"Stop this! These students didn't do anything wrong!" Fluttershy charged in a fit of rage over the students in an attempt to catch up with the Crystal Prep thugs who had tossed her classmates to the ground. "You have no right to attack them!"

"And you had no right to strip Crystal Prep of its cornerstone!" Red Letter scorned back. "You had no right to eliminate Cinch, but you did anyway! We will never forgive you miserable maggots for the downfall of our society of order and discipline!"

"I'll never give in to your cold and heartless ways, or let you steal what rightfully belongs to us!" Rainbow Dash cried out for blood as she finally closed the gap just as the Defectors made it out to the portal. Lunging forward, she tackled Starlight Glimmer and Blueblood, before she was thrown straight into her friends by Red Letter, Svengallop, Neon Lights, Jet Set, and Upper Crust.

Starlight growled as she picked herself back up. "Why must you irksome children continue to be thorns in our side?!" she screamed at the Rainbooms, who were all ready for a fight with her. "What do you hate about order, discipline, and authority?!"

"See, that's the thing, Starlight." Twilight stepped forward. "True authority and control doesn't come from being a bully, or a power-crazed tyrant seeking revenge," she said. "It comes from hard work, devotion, and proof that someone can lead people with strict rules. Chrysalis might not be the same as Cinch, but she's trying her best to steer Crystal Prep towards a better tomorrow," her brows lowered and she balled her hands into fists. "So I think the question here is why are you fighting against the very order you want?"

"That witch who sits on the chair now knows nothing about how to truly maintain dominance over a school," Blueblood spoke up. "The strong and smart must thrive, leaving the stupid and meek to be swept away. That is the nature of order and authority. It is the only way Crystal Prep has ever known. And to see it become a school with common students, with common tastes, and differentiating clothing, is utter poppycock!"

"Crystal Prep must be led orderly, otherwise it loses repuation, and becomes just as commonplace as CHS or any other school," Red Letter went on. "Don't you infants see now? We are saving this school from crumbling, not letting it return to being cold-hearted and malicious like you might think!"

"And if stealing your magic and having to use it as a last resort is an option, then so be it." Starlight clicked her fingers, causing the Defectors to encircle the Rainbooms and cut off their chance to prevent her escape. "This parade of namby-pamby nonsense involving friendship and magic has to stop. We will beat those nonsense philosophies out of you, even if it means having to break each and every bone in your bodies to do it!"

She clicked her finger, and the Defectors uttered a battle cry before dogpiling on the Rainbooms. The uniformed students all began to punch, kick, and generally hurt the seven girls without hesitance, qualms, or remorse. In fact, wicked smiles and laughter rose up as they watched the girls all suffer and cry with each and every attack.

"Friendship is Magic? Please," Jet Set taunted as he punched a sobbing Rarity once again. "If it's so magical, then why is it letting you girls all get beaten up?"

"You don't hold a candle to us, you insufferable excuses for high-school students!" Svengallop dealt a dropkick to Rainbow Dash's stomach. "You hold no place in this world, and your magic belongs to us if you cannot use it to save yourselves!"

"The famous Sunset Shimmer, reduced to nothing more than a sobbing mass of flesh and bone." Red Letter used a number of martial arts attacks, striking the fiery-haired girl in all of her sensitive spots, causing her to tumble to the ground like a ragdoll. "Honestly, any Defector could easily kick your butt with how weakly you're resisting us."

The fighting got so bad that every student from CHS ran out just to see the spectacle. From the sidelines, they could only watch as the uniformed Crystal Preppers punched, kicked, and threw the girls around like punching bags. Some of them had their phones out, whilst the rest looked on with their mouths agape or with some of them hiding behind bigger ones.

"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Celestia's voice boomed from the front door as she, Luna, and Cadence all walked out to see the Defectors beat up the Rainbooms, whilst Starlight and Blueblood had already left the scene. With her hands balled up into fists, she approached the fighting students and immediately got them to stop by pulling them off. "What in the name of Tartarus is going on here?!"

"Your school is weak, weak and pathetic, just like the irksome Rainbooms that you have as the cornerstone!" Red Letter spat in Celestia's eye. "The Defectors will rise, and if you and your pathetic students ever mess in the affairs of Crystal Prep ever again, I will personally put you, your moronic sister, and our cowardly dean straight into the morgue!"

"I've heard enough, Red Letter." Cadence pulled out her phone and dialled in a number. "You have obviously let this silly little nonsense go directly to your head. I'm stopping this before it gets out of control!"

"No you—" before he cold even get close to her, Celestia and Luna looked down at the rest of the Defectors as fiercly as they could "—won't."

"9-1-1, what's the nature of your emergency?" the voice came from the other side of the phone.

"Students at Canterlot High have just been beaten up within an inch of their lives by students from Crystal Prep," Cadence spoke to the operator on the other end of the line. "Get in touch with Principal Chrysalis and put the whole area on lockdown, whilst adding to the disciplinarian team we already have there—"

"Give me that!" Svengallop ripped the phone out of Cadence's hands. "Your time is at an end, wretched scum! The Defectors will rule this miserable town, starting with the tarnished Crystal Prep that was supposed to be Cinch's from the beginning to end!"

"Sir. Please calm down," the voice said.

"Why don't you just take a hike, you pieces of trash?!" Jet Set added. "Your teams will never stop the fighting at Crystal Prep, not for as long as we live and breathe!"

"LONG LIVE THE DEFECTORS!" They all shouted before throwing the phone back to Cadence and running off into the distance, throwing their fists into the air as they followed Starlight and Blueblood.

"Miss, your situation has been verified, and we have now dispatched teams to Crystal Prep," the voice spoke to Cadence once the Defectors had all left. "If there is battling going on, rest assured that the police department will finally break up the conflict between the two sides."

"Thank you. Have a nice day," Cadence said.

"You too, miss," the voice hung up.

"Are you alright?" Flash helped Sunset get back onto her feet, whilst the rest of the students aided in getting the rest of the Rainbooms up. "Did they break anything?"

"Nothing physical, but I think they broke our wills to keep going," Sunset winced as she felt the pain running through her body once she stood back up.

"I'm guessing that those were the Defectors you've told us about?" Luna came over and helped Twilight stand back up, watching the spectacled girl wobble before propping herself against the wall. "You said they were bad, but I never expected that they were that bad."

"What's going on?" Rainbow Dash asked when everyone else was finally helped up and students begun tending to their wounds.

"Don't worry, Rainbow Dash. It's all been taken care of," Celestia pulled the girl into a little hug. "Those bullies are long gone, and they won't ever be coming back."

"In case it was a little hazy, we've ordered a state of emergency from CPA," Cadence helped Fluttershy with her concussion before giving her bandages where the Defectors had bruised and cut her. "Now, in addition to the Changelings, we've got the town's police department working full time. If any more activity rises from those brutes, then they'll be going straight to prison."

"What?! N-no!" Sunset stumbled towards the dean of CPA, but found it to be a hard chore with the pain in both of her legs. "You said that it was all in the hands of me and my friends to stop this!"

"Yes. I know I said that, but given the recent circumstances, it's safe to say that you and your friends from Crystal Prep are now in grave danger." Cadence aided Sunset over to the stairs and let her sit down. "By putting yourself into the crosshairs, you provoked then, and now we're having to double our security, maybe even triple it, in the hopes that this rebellion is finally put to an end."

"This is all our fault. We shouldn't have gotten involved in this. We should have just stayed at CHS and gotten on with our work than get tangled up in Crystal Prep affairs once again."

"It's not your fault that this happened, Sunset."

"Yes it is!" Sunset cried out as she threw her arms out. "We promised those Shadowbolts that this could be resolved without drastic measures. But now that the police have to get involved, things could very well be impossible to fix between the students there," she sighed and hung her head. "We've let them all down in the worst possible way, and now they're probably going to hate us once again for it."

"Well, there's only one thing you can do now, Sunset." Cadence helped her to dry away the tears whilst the other students took the rest of the Rainbooms towards the nurse's office. "You need to call up your friends and tell them that you tried, but failed. At the very least, they'll understand you for at least trying."

Sunset sniffled, but she knew that what Cadence was saying was right. Reluctantly, she pulled out the phone, went to her contacts, and chose Indigo Zap's number. She hit the call button, and the number was speed-dialed. A few rings came from the phone until a connection was finally established.

"What's up, Sunset?" Indigo's voice came from the other side.

"Indigo? Can you put your phone on speaker and get the rest of your friends?" Sunset asked.

"Oh no... I know that voice anywhere," Indigo's voice went sombre. "What happened?"

"The Defectors came, and they not only stole our magic in much more advanced ways, but they threw down the other students to try and trip us up," she explained perfectly. "We tried our best to stop them, but Starlight and Blueblood ordered her allies to beat us all within inches of our lives. It attracted the attention of the rest of the school, and Cadence decided that that was the last straw."

"So, what's gonna happen now, Sunset?" Sour Sweet's voice came through, sounding genuinely friendly.

"Prepare to see a lot of people from Canterlot PD in a moment, because Cadence called up 9-1-1, and the Defectors declared war on them," Sunset choked up before she finally let out some tears. "If you're all angry with me and my friends for this, then that's understandable..." she sniffled once more, until she finally put her head in her knees and began to cry. "I'm so sorry! We tried to make things better, but not they're just gonna get worse!"

"Hey, hey, hey... Don't feel sad, Sunset," Sunny Flare's voice came through next. "You tried your best, and that's all that matters."

"But our best wasn't good enough, and now things are gonna be settled in ways that no-one wants!" Sunset's tears had been reduced slightly, but not to the point where she felt better.

"We're not angry with you, Sunset," Sugarcoat's voice was next on the phone. "If anything, we knew this would happen sooner or later, and we're sorry that it happened to you today of all days."

"Y-you're not upset?" Sunset's tears were reduced considerably.

"No. If anything, it's much more interesting now that the stakes have been upped," Indigo's voice sounded smug. "Now we've just gotta stop this before the cops. A true contest, don't you agree?"

"Don't let a simple beatdown stop you from being who you truly are, Sunset Shimmer. The same goes for the rest of your friends," Sugarcoat's voice came back. "If anything, you should use this occurrence to bolster your morale and work harder and harder to save Crystal Prep."

"R-really?" Sunset was almost dry-eyed

"Yes," Indigo's voice came back. "We've all had moments where we lost, both at the games and away from it. But that just kept us going to become better and better than ever," she said. "So don't let those jerks in uniform push you around. Rather, you need to make sure that you stop them from hurting others after what's just happened."

"We're not cross, upset, or let down by you or your friends at all, Sunset," Sour's voice came back. "Don't ever let those brutes keep you or your friends down. Just strive to end this conflict, and do Crystal Prep justice."

"Th-thank you, girls," Sunset's voice was still quiverish, but she was glad that she hadn't been yelled at, or that her friendship between the Shadowbolts was over. She shook off the last of her depression and put on a small grin. "And you're right. We do need to stop this, and we need to stop this as soon as possible."

"But how?" Cadence asked

"I think I might have an idea..." Sunset stood back up and scratched her chin with two of her fingers.

"Well, whatever you come up with, we'll be ready to hear it," Sugarcoat took over once again. "We'd love to continue talking with you, but our next class is in a few minutes."

"Catch you later, Sunset!" Indigo and Lemon both spoke almost together.

"You too." Sunset finished before she hung up and put the phone away. As soon as she did, she groaned and face-palmed. "What are we getting ourselves into?"

Author's Notes:

Just to let you know, I've created another new group for Shadowbolt shipping. But this time, the group is called LemonZap, and is focused on the heavily popularized ship of Indigo Zap and Lemon Zest.

I'll add this story to that group, and leave you the link here if you're interested: http://www.fimfiction.net/group/209714/lemonzap

But still, if you liked this story, be sure to leave some comments down below, give this story a thumbs up, favourite, and track if you like it, and even follow me if you enjoy this sort of content.

I'll see you all soon for another new chapter. Have a nice day.

Chapter 10: Discoveries and Drastic Measures

"You idiots! What in the name of Cinch were you all trying to accomplish with that?!" In a darkened Science Lab, Starlight yelled at the Defectors that had aided her and Blueblood back at CHS. Her teeth were gritted and her hands were balled up into tight fists as she glared at each and every one of her accomplices.

"The destruction of the Rainbooms' wills to fight back against us!" Red Letter stomped his foot violently. "Those thumb-sucking toddlers have done us a great deal of trouble and inconvenience! It was only right that we punished them for interfering with our plans to rectify the damage that has befallen Crystal Prep!"

"Because of what you all did, the school is now under watch by the Canterlot PD, and they are already in league with the Changelings," Starlight looked out and saw the uniformed cops helping other students repel the Defectors. "I don't care if it was to exact revenge. This was not what we wanted, and has now made our job of bettering the school even harder!"

"I concur with Queen Starlight," Blueblood folded his arms. "This is a massive problem for not just CPA, but for all of the Defectors in this very academy. Our victory lies in the downfall of Chrysalis, and your actions have only served to boost her morale and give her a chance to bolster her defences!" he scolded. "The last thing we need is our enemy getting stronger and stronger with outside help! This is even more infuriating than magic being involved at the games, and it's all. Your. Faults!"

Red Letter stepped forward. "Starlight Glimmer, Blueblood. With all due respect, I would like to—"

"Forget it!" Starlight turned her back to the asian student. "You have disobeyed our wills, and for that, it's only fitting that proper punishments are due for your treasonous actions." She then looked at the lockets that they had all brought back, each one loaded with magic from Sunset Shimmer and her friends. "But since you did bring back the Magic of Friendship for analysis, I'm feeling a little... generous."

"For now, we will let you all off with warnings," Blueblood addressed each of his allies. "Break the rules again, and you will end up just like the students we hurt with our ways. Understand?"

"Yes, King Blueblood!" the team of teenagers all spoke as if they were being ordered by a drill sergeant.

"Anyway. Now that we've got what we need to secure our victory, we need some help in cracking the inner machinations of this so-called Magic of Friendship," Starlight said. "Red Letter, Night Glider, and Sugar Belle. You'll be with me and Blueblood on research duty," she watched the students she had called nodded. "The rest of you may leave."

As Red Letter, Sugar Belle, and Night Glider stepped forward, the rest of the Defectors immediately walked out the door.

"You know, it's kinda weird that we've got all these police watching the school now, but I'm on board with it if it stops the Defectors from trying to attack the students again." Indigo Zap said as she and Sunny Flare walked down a corridor with Canterlot PD officers guarding each and every corner.

"While it does take a lot of pressure off of the students, I can't help but feel that this could've been avoided." Sunny Flare gently scratched her chin. "From the way Sunset described it, they actually threatened Principal Celestia, Vice-Principal Luna, and Dean Cadence with their assault. If that's true then..."

"It'd paint a bad picture for Chrysalis, I agree, but if the Defectors own up to what they did, then it'd be them in the wrong, not her," Indigo said. "And knowing them and what Starlight drilled into their heads, they're gonna be spilling the beans faster than you can say expelled."

"I've even heard that some Defectors are breaking off and joining the Changelings." Sunny Flare looked at some of the uniformed students, who were drawing back for a punch, but stopped when they caught a glimpse of the officers in the hallway. "If this keeps up, the tables will be turned in Chrysalis's favour."

"You know they'll find a way around this, right?" Sugarcoat pulled out a book from her locker and shut it before turning to face Indigo and Sunny. "The Defectors are adaptable, and Starlight and Blueblood are probably already working out a way to avoid getting into trouble with the police and still have their allies bully the students."

"But why? What reason does Starlight have for declaring war against change?" Indigo raised an eyebrow.

"I'm still not sure, but we can safely assume that it has something to do with Twilight leaving Crystal Prep for Canterlot High," Sugarcoat said. "The three of us were inseparable until that day, and I feel that her sorrow has now whittled down into hate. Hate for everyone at CHS, and everyone who moved on when Cinch got fired."

"If she doesn't get over her grudge, then she's only hurting herself." Sunny Flare brushed her skirt with the backs of her hands. "Anger can cause you to do things that are almost impossible to take back. Cinch made her own concern into anger, and that drove her to cause that monster to attack both of our schools at the end of the Friendship Games. And now I'm concerned that Starlight is going to follow that exact same route, but lead her team to victory over us and the Rainbooms."

"But if she does, then what's the chance that she could actually defeat Sunset and her friends?" Indigo turned her head towards Sunny, almost bumping into one of the officers. "I'm no egghead, but I'm pretty sure that the magic only responds to good people, and makes monsters out of bad guys. Sunset used it, and she became an angel, so I know she's a good person deep down. But if Starlight uses it, then who knows what she could become?"

"Starlight's not stupid, Indigo." Sugarcoat opened a book and began to flip through the pages. "Principal Cinch unleashed the magic because she was running out of time at the Friendship Games and wanted victory by any means necessary. This is a civil war we're facing, and Starlight's probably biding her time to study how it really works. If anything, she's much smarter than Cinch was."

"Magic or no magic, she's still gonna lose." Indigo crossed her arms. "Sunset and her friends'll be able to handle her. They know how it really works already, and Starlight's probably just getting ready to dig. If we can find her, shut down her little operation, and see whether or not she's actually got it, then we'll have more time to try patch things up between the two factions."

"Let's just hope you're right, Indigo." Sunny swallowed and tugged at her collar. "For all we know, she could already have cracked the code..."

Starlight, Blueblood, Red Letter, Night Glider, and Sugar Belle were all wearing lab coats and safety visors as they worked in the lab alone. There was now a massive network of tubes, beakers, and other science equipment that now created a web around a stable ball of magic that had been safely extracted from the locket.

Every time the magic pulsated, light swirled across the infrastructure and touched the chemicals that had been laid out on one of the tables. Many different results came from every element that bathed in the pink light, but most of them evaporated instantaneously, with a few more becoming coated in yellow, blue, red, orange, purple, and pink auras.

Starlight and Blueblood were working mostly on a chalkboard, writing down the scientific algorithm for how the magic was functioning. With every new discovery that occured, the two Defectors smiled and extended the formula until the board was devoid of any more space to draw on.

"Interesting..." She said as she rewrote different parts of the equation. "The Magic of Friendship is nothing more than the distortion of electromagnetic particles in the air, giving the users the ability to rewrite the fabric of reality itself!" She put the chalk she was holding down and hopped over towards the ball at the centre of the web. "If these girls could tap into how it truly works, they'd have the building blocks of the universe in their hands! Time, space, matter— all controlled by Sunset Shimmer and her friends!"

"But how can something childish-sounding like the Magic of Friendship possibly have the power to re-shape the world?" Red Letter asked.

"Sunset Shimmer and her friends use it whenever there's a catastrophe. Ergo, the Fall Formal, Battle of the Bands, and Friendship Games that all happened at CHS over the past year." Starlight pulled out three newspapers that showed each of the events. "These were published in secret and were never released to the public for a number of reasons. Only a select few ever managed to make it out into the real world, and at auction they'd fetch a lot of money, but that's beside the point!"

"The point is that the Rainbooms are special teenage girls, capable of things that no Defector could ever pull off, even if they were the result of a flawed experiment to grow wings, bigger ears, and some extra hair." Blueblood stepped forward and cracked his knuckles. "Which makes it all the more fitting that we crush them with the very power that saved them and their weak and pathetic classmates!"

"Blueblood is right. This rebellion cannot succeed unless those Rainbooms are taken out of the equation permanently." Starlight pulled out a red marker and crossed out the faces of Sunset Shimmer and her friends. "As long as they continue to fight for the benefit of the Shadowbolts, then our perfect plan has a margin of error. And as such, our hard work at trying to save this school could very well have been for naught."

"When certain students build themselves up on principles that can ultimately fail or be turned against them, then they are not truly perfect." Red Letter stepped forward. "Only through following the natural order of life that is handed out to them can a person truly be flawless. Running after impossible dreams and not taking into account the reprocussions of each can cause your own self-destruction; something that Abacus Cinch learned the hard way back at the Games.

"But at the same time, there are some people who really can change the world for the better, and if the only way to achieve utopia is through violence – and in some cases, death – then it is something that we must accept, even though we fell a pang of regret afterwards." He looked down at his uniform and brushed some dust off. "These uniforms not only serve as a memoir of our former principal, but they showcase our hearts and souls all beating as a single unified force; one that when we all come together, cannot be defeated!"

"Together, we will overcome any and all adversity that threatens the peaceful nature of Crystal Prep, including the ones that come from other schools or other lines of work." Starlight held hands with Red Letter. "Our methods may make us seem like the villains, but deep down, we hurt others because we want to protect them; to save them from the harm that they, the Shadowbolts, and the Rainbooms are inflicting on themselves."

"Those meddlesome twelve girls are a cancer on the equality of students at Crystal Prep, and we Defectors are the vaccine." Blueblood also joined hands with his allies, tightening his grip as he spoke. "For everyone at Crystal Prep to remain happy, they must all be the same, and change must be destroyed in order for that unity and uniformity to stand proud!"

"Change took everything from me, and likewise, it will do the same to you unless we crush it with the Magic of Friendship!" Starlight shouted, her hair falling in front of her face. "Together, the Defectors will stand tall, and those children who soured this place's reputation shall feel the full weight of our hopes and dreams, crashing down on them like a tsunami washing a city off the map!"

"Glory to the Defectors!" Blueblood cried, throwing his hands in the air.

"Glory to the Defectors!" Everyone else in the room mimicked.

"Principal Chrysalis?" Indigo Zap walked into the office with her friends by her side. "We wanted to talk to you about something."

"Whatever it is, I'm afraid it will have to wait." Chrysalis shuffled some papers into an organized stack before she began to write her signature on the boxes in each. "Because of the Defectors' recent excursion to Canterlot High, I've had to sign extra paperwork to make sure that this school and all of the students are watched by the Canterlot PD."

"It's about that exactly." Sugarcoat readjusted her glasses once again and sighed. "Don't you think that it's overkill to rely on the police when the Changelings are already on the case?"

"The Defectors left Crystal Prep to attack students at Canterlot High, Sugarcoat." Shining Armour, dressed in his uniform laid a hand on her shoulder. "We're authorized to make sure that no-one leaves the school until it's out, and even then, each student is closely monitored until they get to their houses."

"It's a violation of their privacy, but after what Starlight and Blueblood pulled at CHS, we cannot tolerate any more of their rambunctious behaviour!" Chrysalis gnashed her teeth before shaking her head and recomposing herself. "I know that if this goes south, we'll lose most of our students, but the good men and women of Canterlot PD have promised me that if that happens, then we'll ensure that the Defectors take the full brunt of the consequences instead. And we'll simply have a mass recruitment drive if that happens to be the case."

"But they're not just causing pain out of the blue like they want to be made the villains!" Lemon Zest threw her arms out forward. "They're hurting students because they're changing. After Cinch left CPA, any student that wanted to do good deeds and be more friendly was attacked, and I have a feeling that the Defectors have a reason for doing it!"

"Really? And what is that reason, miss Zest?" Chrysalis crossed her arms and lowered her brows.

"Uhh..." Lemon's forehead began to sweat vigourously. "I don't know, but I do know it's got something to do with the fact that the students don't want to live in the past anymore."

"Wild speculation won't help in trying to settle this little dispute, girls." Chrysalis returned to her paperwork, putting the signed paper into a separate pile as she went onto a new sheet. "I do appreciate that you're trying to get to the bottom of the Defectors' hate yourselves, but you have no evidence to prove that they really are fighting because they want the school to remain how it was before the Friendship Games." She pulled out a small stack of post-it notes which she wrote down the Shadowbolts' story onto. "But, because you girls are the most well behaved, and highest scoring students in the school now, I'm saving your theory for future reference. Whether or not it's true remains to be seen."

"But it IS true!" Indigo Zap slammed her hands on the desk. "We'll even bring back a Defector who'll confess! That'll make you believe us!"

"As much as I appreciate your resolves, I must say that for your safety and that of the other students that you don't, and just get back to your classes." Chrysalis sharpened a pencil and placed it in a little aluminum pot with a few others. "Though everyone has their moment to be a hero, there is a time and a place after all. With the Defectors, you are nothing more than five girls standing against an entire army of students in uniform. You won't survive, even if you decide to keep fighting regardless."

"You don't know us, Chrysalis." Sour Sweet balled up her hands into fists. "If I didn't believe in a better way to stop the fighting, I'd pound each and every Defector I saw until they'd be the ones scared of me!"

"Even with your hatred for them, I agree with Chrysalis, Sour Sweet." Sugarcoat gently rubbed Sour's shoulders to quell her tension. "The most logical thing we can do now is rely on Sunset Shimmer and the Rainbooms to help us sort this mess out."

"Girls, allow me to tell you something." Chrysalis stood up and walked around the desk. "Sometimes, friends can't solve your problems. Sure, they can help you through the pain and discomfort, but they can't fix something that is beyond them," she said. "I once had a friend called Metamorphosis, and when we were little, we used to play together in the park every day. We would play hide-and-seek, tag, even ball games if we had the time.

"But one day, he left to work for some big company in Aneigheim, and I haven't seen him since." Chrysalis reached into one of the drawers on her desk and pulled out a picture of her with another black-skinned boy with dark blue hair. "Even though I've got a lot of problems at Crystal Prep with the Defectors, I can't just call him up and ask him to fix my problems for me. Instead, I soldier on with my Changelings and now the help of Shining Armour and his squad of officers."

"But that doesn't mean that you should give up hope either, girls," Shining Armour said. "Even if you think that the situation's hopeless, you'll always have yourselves, and your friends from Canterlot High to help you out."

"And if you think that there's even the slightest chance that you can stop the Defectors from fighting with us, then by all means, I say go for it." Black gave the Shadowbolts a thumbs-up.

"Thank you for your time, ladies and gentlemen. We'll be on our way now." Sunny Flare stood up from the chair and walked out of the room with the other Shadowbolts close behind.

"One more thing, girls," Chrysalis spoke up before they got out of the door. "There's no school tomorrow."

"Oh?" Sugarcoat's left eyebrow was raised. "Why not?"

"Yeah. Crystal Prep's never had to have a day off since it was opened." Indigo shrugged as her eyes darted to her friends and then back to Chrysalis. "What's up with that?"

"The school's gonna be in lockdown because there's been a number of cases involving these Defector punks in the past from what other students have told us." Shining Armour pulled out a baton and tightened his grip on it. "We'll have a forensic team on site to collect evidence and the Changelings are going to be giving us each and every report of previous violence in the school."

"That's an obvious lie." Sugarcoat's eyebrows lifted once again. "Your fingers were twitching until you pulled out that baton, and when you did, you began to tap your feet." She pulled out a book from her backpack and flipped through it to show him the proof. "See? Right here. Page fifty-eight of 'How to Find a Liar' by Shadow Spade herself. There's a number of signs, but you only showed two."

"Heh, there's no fooling you, is there?" Shining Armour chuckled. "But yeah, total honesty this time, the Defectors are all coming in tomorrow, but none of the other students will."

"What?!" The Shadowbolts all chorused.

"It's called Operation: Silence." Chrysalis pulled out a dossier showing all the details. "The boys from Canterlot PD were very generous to allow us to do this, as this is usually frowned upon by the law. But given what the Defectors have done in the past, they've classified the students in uniforms as rioters, and are allowing the use of force."

"The Defectors will meet with the Changelings and with the men and women of the police force, and when they attack us for being tricked, we'll be aided by a riot suppression team." Black stood up from his chair and threw a few punches that hit thin air. "Together, we'll silence the Defectors and demoralize them into even thinking of hurting another student!"

"It's a cruel way of doing things, but it is the law, and all rioters must be subdued and if needs be, hurt for their crimes." Shining hung his head. "We're not going to kill them by any means, but we are going to show them what happens when they mess with the school—and more importantly—the students."

"When one person does something bad, it's easy to handle. When two do something bad, it can be a challenge." Chrysalis stood next to Shining. "But when a whole group of people start to commit heinous acts, then it's clear that we must get the police to sort out the problem—even if it means having the majority of our students serve prison sentences for what they did and are about to do..."

"That's a bit drastic, isn't it?" Sunny Flare asked.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures, Sunny." Chrysalis walked over and gave Sunny a few pats on the back. "I know that you and your friends hate the idea, but it's the best we can do for the time being, and there's no better plans we can think of at the moment."

"Now you head off to your classes whilst we go through the final preparations for Operation: Silence." Shining Armour closed the door on the girls and locked it.

"We'd better tell the Rainbooms about this..." Sugarcoat walked down the stairs and pulled out her phone before punching in Sunset's phone numbers. If this doesn't get resolved quickly, then the Defectors might retaliate. And knowing them, they'll hit back harder than ever.

"I agree completely, Sugarcoat." Sunny Flare furrowed her pigtails as she clutched onto the rails for support as she followed the rest of the Shadowbolts down the stairs. "Things are going from bad to worse and unless we sort this out, our school could turn into an even worse mess..."

Author's Notes:

After a long hiatus, Shadowed Bolts is back, and I'm going to say up front that I'm not trying to get this story on Equestria Daily anymore. I mean, I got Good Sport on EQD, and I feel like getting this story on there would be a chore, so I'm just taking it easy.

Oh, and also, I'll be attending BUCK Con at Manechester, England, in a venue called EventCity. Now, a question about that place. How many bronies and brony stuff can we, the bronies in Great Britain, stuff into one giant box? We'll find out on the 9th and 10th of April, with a few pre-con events on friday the 8th.

If any of you are going to BUCK, be sure to drop a comment, and just drop a comment anyways.

Have a good day.

Chapter 11: The Evolution of Magic

In the darkness of the night, Defectors were entering Crystal Prep through an emergency exit that had been opened up from the inside by Red Letter. In a perfect line, the uniformed students all marched in, chatting among themselves as they walked through the pool room and into the hallways of the school.

Now that everyone else had gone home, the Defectors had a million ideas running through their minds. The school was their playground, and they could do whatever they wanted without fear of the Changelings or police breathing down their necks. They wanted to smash up the rooms, vandalize the lockers, and generally make Crystal Prep seem like a vandal school to get Chrysalis fired, but the knew that they had been called for a much better purpose.

After a while, the group of students all walked into the hall, which was just as bleak and lifeless as the rest of the school at dusk. The walls and floor felt cold to the touch and even the banners for the Crystal Prep Shadowbolts had been defaced and now bore a single logo of a black 'D' crushing little screaming heads, with a pair of menacing evil eyes poking out of the top of it.

"So glad that you could join us, my fellow Defectors!" Blueblood spoke as a spotlight was turned on, revealing him and Starlight standing by a large object that was concealed by a blanket. "Take a seat wherever you like. The demonstration will begin shortly."

The Defectors followed Blueblood's orders like it was the law and very quickly filled up all of the empty space on the bleachers, acting as if they were in an assembly. Once they were all comfortable with their choice of seating, their voices all withered away into total silence, so that their king and queen could start.

"Time is an irreversible thing, Defectors." Starlight puffed out her chest and threw her arms out to the side. "There is no undoing what those meddlesome Rainbooms have done to our school, but that doesn't mean that we're supposed to give up hope and accept their nonsense philosophies!"

"While we may have lost our almighty Abacus Cinch, you can all rest assured that her legacy is not dead, and it instead lives on through us!" Blueblood held his arms out and basked in the glory as the Defectors all cheered for him. "Together, we will ensure that this little blemish on Crystal Prep's reputation is wiped off!"

When the cheers died down, Starlight took over. "I'm sure that you're all aware that in the past few days, we have extracted the Rainbooms' Magic of Friendship for our own goals," she said. "What happened at the Friendship Games was a disaster, yes, but that was only because we were pressed for time, and had no idea what we were messing with. But now I can say upfront, that we have finally cracked the code, and that magic now plays for us!" She pulled the blanket off, revealing a ball of concentrated white magic gently floating inside a glass dome.

"After many hours of careful scientific experimentation, we have cracked the algebraic formula, and have managed to purify the Magic of Friendship to obey anyone, even if they are not one of the six so-called elements that calls it!" Blueblood pulled the dome off and placed it on the ground. He then reached towards the ball with his right hand, seeing that Starlight was doing the same "Allow us to demonstrate..."

Both Starlight and Blueblood touched the orb and immediately felt a small surge of pain running up their right arms and all through their bodies as the magic wrapped itself around them. They grunted and groaned, but they kept smiling all the while as they found themselves floating off of the floor and enveloped in a white light.

The light exploded, and all of a sudden, Starlight Glimmer and Blueblood grew pony ears as well as elongated hair streaking from their heads and butts. Finally, long horns sprouted from their foreheads. Pink for Starlight, and white for Blueblood. The two of them had performed a successful Pony-Up, and now the Magic of Friendship was imbued inside of them.

Suspended in the air by blue auras, Starlight and Blueblood listened to the room erupting into a cavalcade of more thunderous cheers from the Defectors. At long last, the power that Sunset and the Rainbooms had been using was now seeded deep into the two of them, and they couldn't help but smirk at all of the praise they were receiving.

"Thank you, thank you." Starlight bowed as she flew around the room, gently swooping over her followers. "But please, hold your applause until the end. Because now, you yourselves will be able to use this magic for yourselves, proving once and for all that Crystal Prep cannot be defeated, regardless of who the enemy is!" As she landed back by the orb, Starlight began to sing.

For all the trials and obstacles we've faced
This new power is our own
Against the clock, the Defectors have raced
And now's the time that our unity is shooooooown.

Blueblood now landed beside her and turned the song into a duet.

Abacus Cinch might be gone
But her followers live on
And now with our own army
Together, we have wooooooooon!

The Defectors themselves then began to stomp on the bleachers, clap, and harmonize to the beat of Starlight and Blueblood's vocals.

Back at the Games, a simple error was made
But now that we've fixed it, we're stronger than any blade
With this magic by our side, there's nothing we cannot do
And now's the time to share it all with yoooooooooou!

Blueblood used his horn to fly upward to the ceiling where he sang once more.

Together, those Changelings, the maggots that they are
To think that they can save this school is a wish that goes too far
Only through power and dominance can our fires truly gow
And everyone who gets in our way will knooooooooow!

All of the Defectors in the room began to chant in perfect unison with each other

It's evolving, it's evolving
The Magic of Friendship is ours
With our king and queen by our side
Those fools will turn into cowards

Allied by hate, united by rage
We all share the same common cause:
To eradicate Canterlot High School
And we'll do it all by force!

"They stole everything from us!" Starlight slammed down on the floors of the hall with her hand tightened into a fist. "Are you really going to just sit back and let those punks continue to joyride with that magic?!

"NO!" Roared the Defectors as they punched the air in perfect sync.

"Then stand up and fight for the honour of Crystal Prep!" Blueblood was so driven to lead the Defectors into war that his veins could be seen pulsating on his neck. "Take the Magic of Friendship and win over the Rainbooms!"

The Defectors fight for CPA's pride

Unbroken, undying, and unstoppable
Together, we'll watch our enemies fall!

The Defectors all stood up and approached the orb of magic, lining up to give themselves Pony-Ups.

It's evolving, it's evolving
The Magic of Friendship is ours
Using this energy, we'll stand tall and proud
Like ominous foreboding towers

Pegasi, Unicorns, Earth Ponies too
There's nothing that we cannot beat
We'll use this new power to stomp out those brats
And turn them all into crying dead meat!

The Defectors laid their hands on the orb one-by-one and went through the exact same process that Starlight and Blueblood had gone through. Sprouting wings, tails, ears, and horns.

And now that it's ours
We'll win for sure this time
Unleashed and in our hands
Losing would be a crime

Let's crush their hopes
Deny their dreams
And turn those cocky smiles
Into the long-lasting song of screams!

Starlight stepped forward once every Defector had transformed and used her horn to create robes for her and Blueblood, furthering their titles as the queen and king.

Bound by hatred
Joined by rage
It's time for the Defectors
To turn the page

Let Canterlot High School know
That we are supreme
And together, with this magic...

"It'll be just like a dream," Blueblood said as the song came to a close.

Both Blueblood and Starlight had a little chuckle which then escalated into an evil and maniacal laugh, with the rest of the Defectors soon doing the same. The corners of their eyes sparkled as the laughing drifted away, and vicious smiles now donned the faces of every uniformed student.

The next day, the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts walked through the park while twiddling their fingers in anticipation for the worst. Ever since the Magic of Friendship had been stolen, the whole of them had lost most of their composure and hope in trying to stop the Defectors and Changelings from fighting. They all knew that if the problem wasn't solved soon, then it would be similar to what happened at the Friendship Games but on a more dangerous scale.

"So, what do you think Starlight and Blueblood gonna do with that magic?" Sunset struggled to get her words out. "I mean, after the Defectors win?"

"For once, I'm not sure myself, Sunset." Sugarcoat stopped walking and looked back at her. "I mean, even with my high IQ and my uncanny talent to predict what'll come from people's choices if they go through with it, I'm not sure what plans Starlight and Blueblood have once they seize control of Crystal Prep."

"Apart from getting back on you guys, I don't know either." Indigo scratched her chin as she used her other hand to pull her phone out of her pocket. "Starlight and the Defectors mostly just want revenge on you and us, and after that, there's nothing left for them to do."

"Maybe they're after so much more than just victory in this civil war," said Sunny Flare. "Power corrupts, especially in the wrong hands. Once you get a taste of it, you want more, and more, and more, until you can't control yourself anymore." She brushed her dress. "Just like at the Friendship Games, we were driven by greed in the final event, and it almost led to everyone's destruction. Starlight might want more magic, until it becomes the only thing she cares about; magic and conquest."

"They could go for the police, then the mayor's office, and then even the military..." Sour Sweet grimaced and brought her hands to her teeth. "For once, I can't even bring myself to get angry at those monsters. Instead, I'm worried, and I usually never get worried about anything!"

"Not only can power change people, but the mere acceptance that someone has this power and is using it for evil can send chills down their spines." Sunset Shimmer stepped forward and flicked her wrists. "I myself know what it's like to have power and influence, and all that I did was use it to make others scared, and unable to defend or act for themselves. So it might just be the case that Starlight's doing exactly what I did before the Fall Formal, only she's used her words to amass a small army, ready to finish Chrysalis and the Changelings once and for all."

"But how are we gonna stop her when she's so into it?" Rainbow Dash asked. "I mean, yeah, you were a bit of a jerk back then, but Starlight's focusing her Defectors on this cause, and she's not gonna stop for anything—even if we try to butter her up with our super-awesome rainbow powers."

"Sneaking into Crystal Prep's not gonna happen, since the whole school will be locked inside out and guarded by the Canterlot PD once the Defectors arrive." Lemon Zest took her headphones off and turned off the rock song she had been listening to. "And even if we do get in, we'll just end up being caught in the middle of all those jerks, cops, and Changelings. It'll be a real mess."

"And there's also the issue involving the Magic of Friendship," Rarity added. "If those Defectors have cracked the code and can Pony-Up, then they might be an even bigger threat to our schools than we thought..."

"Defectors that can fly is bad enough, but I shudder to think what they can do if they can use the power of the Elements of Harmony magic against us, and that's not even taking into account the magic that comes out through playing instruments." Sunset looked over towards Canterlot High and gulped. "If they use all that magic, Starlight and Blueblood could very well come to our school again, but this time with a magic-wielding army in tow."

"Not to mention the portal to Equestria!" Pinkie Pie suddenly leapt up over the group. "If the Defectors find the portal and break it, then who knows what could happen? It might turn into a super-big vortex that'd suck us all in, or maybe it'd cut off the Magic of Friendship forever, or maybe even—"

"Shut up, Pinkie Pie!" Sour Sweet violently covered Pinkie's mouth with her right hand. "You're only making the image worse!"

"Sorry." Pinke pulled Sour's hand away from her mouth. "I'm as scared as you girls are right now, but I just want to get the worse-case scenarios out of the way so that I have a clear head on trying to stop those meanie-pants from flattening CHS."

"PINKIE!" The whole group shouted at her this time.

"Sorry..." She quietly scuttled backwards and put her own hands in front of her mouth.

"Let's just change the subject, alright?" Twilight raised both of her hands and shook her head, calming herself down quickly. "We've all got the day off, so what should we do?"

"First of all, we should check the news, then we could go to Sugarcube Corner and grab a drink while we think of a way to stop these Defectors from fighting." Applejack was quick to break the silence.

"Sounds like a good idea." Sunny Flare started to walk again. "And convenient, considering that Sugarcube Corner recently got a TV to keep the customers happy."

"So, what are we waiting for?" Pinkie's smile returned as she ran in front of her friends. "Follow me! I know a shortcut!"

"Does she always do this?" Sugarcoat asked once Pinkie Pie got a good distance away from them.

"She's Pinkie Pie. Best not to question it." Rainbow Dash crossed her arms with a smile of her own before she chased after her.

After a long run through town, along with a few cut corners, crashes into trash cans, and even the occasional stray dog encounter, the group finally arrived at Sugarcube Corner, ragged and out of breath except for Pinkie Pie and Lemon Zest, who were still as spry and eager as they had been since they started their journey.

"You run just as well as you can dance, Pinks." Lemon gave Pinkie Pie a few pats on the back before the two of them walked into the store, with the rest of their friends almost collapsing out of exhaustion as they slowly hobbled into the building.

As everyone walked into the building, it was just as busy as it had been on the day that they had met and became friends. But even then, the people were still doing the same thing that they had been doing back then. Eating their pastries, drinking their beverages, and flipping through newspapers or watching the small TV.

"Ahh, Sugarcube Corner." Rarity sniffed the scent of the pastries and drinks. "It almost seems like yesterday when we walked in here and became friends..."

"Yeah. We've come along way since then, huh?" Indigo sighed and put her hands behind her head as she regained her lost breath. Despite being the best athlete at Crystal Prep, she was still winded from the run through the town she had had with Pinkie and Lemon.

"Anyway, we should get something to eat while we're in here as well." Sugarcoat quickly fixed her hair which had been made messy from the jog. "It's respectable to the owners of this place, after all."

Before anyone else could ask, their stomachs all began to rumble in almost perfect harmony with one another. This was followed by a short giggle fit before they all nodded in agreement.

One break later and the girls were now watching the TV's news channel, looking out for any sign of the Defectors' activity at Crystal Prep, or to see whether or not they had been quelled by the Canterlot PD and Changelings. After a few gossip stories, weather reports, and the occasional scandal news, there was finally news on the Defectors.

"Breaking news. In what eyewitnesses would call the worst riot in history, officers from Canterlot PD were unsuccessful in defeating a group of students at Crystal Prep, who made up almost half of the school's total attendence." A newslady with a suave and sophisticated voice read the news as if it was no surprise to her at all. She brushed the paper she had been holding briefly before the picture showed a video feed—most likely taken from a camera—of cops retreating from Crystal Prep with beams of multi-coloured energy catching them, throwing them in the air, and tossing them into the distance.

"What the?!" Sunset was the first to see the image and recoiled violently, to the point where she fell off the chair entirely. She groaned for a few seconds before she took her friends' hands and carefully stood back up.

"Are you alright, Sunset?" Fluttershy asked once she checked to see whether or not the fall had left a bruise.

"Y-yeah. I'm fine..." Sunset almost choked on her words as she recovered from the shock. "What the heck was that? And how did the police of all people fail to surpress the Defectors?"

"I think you answered your own question, Sunset." Sugarcoat pushed her milkshake aside and readjusted her glasses once again. "The Defectors must have access to the Magic of Friendship, and can do what you and your friends call a Pony-Up. It's far-fetched, but given what's happened at the Games and now this, it's the most logical explanation we have."

"We now go live to a report with our new apprentice reporter, Pixel Pizazz," the woman on the news said as the image returned to a shot of her next to another picture of a girl with two pigtails and a black dress. "It's her first time reporting, so don't be surprised if she feels nervous."

"Wait, Pixel? What the heck is she doing there?!" Rainbow Dash was the next to freak out, but she didn't fall off like Sunset had.

"You know her?" Sunny Flare turned towards Rainbow.

"She's a student at Canterlot High, and she's one of Photo Finish's friends," Rainbow Dash said. "And she's sitting right on the doorstep of those monsters!"

"This won't end well..." Sour Sweet, as much as she wanted to get angry, could not help but huddle up next to Rainbow.

"Well, from what's going on here, it looks like things are going to heck in a handbasket," Pixel started her report. "At the time of 10:05 AM Eastern, 7:05 Pacific, a bunch of students referring to themselves as the 'Defectors' were called into Crystal Prep alone. The other students who go to this school were informed not to come in, and were told a lie for their own protection.

"The Defectors were formed recently after the events of the last Friendship Games, and have been constantly fighting against the school's newly appointed principal, Chrysalis," the screen changed to show more pictures. First of stuff that happened at the Games, then to a mugshot of the Defectors, and finally a portrait of Principal Chrysalis. "Led by two students known as Starlight Glimmer and Blueblood, the Defectors mercilessly attack and ostricize anyone who wants to change for the better.

"The police force from Canterlot PD had a secret operation that had been authorized by the chief called Operation: Silence. Usually frowned on by law itself but allowed for this one time, since the Defectors' behaviour had been so bad and disrputive that it classified them as rioters," the images continued to change, even showing some CCTV footage. "Once the Defectors were all inside the walls of CPA, it would be locked down from the inside. Then the police, as well as the school's disciplinarian team, would attack the Defectors right back in the hopes that it would stop them from hurting other students.

"However, the plan ultimately ended in failure, and the Defectors overpowered the police for unknown reasons, but at this time, we have no idea on what caused them to win," the shot finally changed back to Pixel holding the microphone. "We will have more on this story as i—" Before she could finish, she was blasted away by a magical bolt, dropping her microphone into Starlight's hands.

"This world is blighted, ladies and gentlemen." Starlight took over as the cameraman was shot down by Blueblood, who took the camera and held it up for Starlight to broadcast her speech. "Abacus Cinch was the cornerstone of Crystal Prep Academy, and those irksome Rainbooms from Canterlot High are what caused this whole problem.

"With how quickly otherworldly forces get involved with events, it's easy to see that things are not always expected to be fair." She paced left and right, the camera always focusing on her. "Asteroids, natural disasters, magic—all of which factor into an event being unbalanced, and therefore invalid."

"But no more." Blueblood handed the camera to another Defector before walking next to Starlight and wrapping his arm around hers. "We Defectors are sick and tired of having our school treated like dirt, and if this so-called magic is to blame for Miss Cinch's dismissal, then I say we stand up and fight against those who have robbed us of a good woman, regardless of her methods of motivting students!"

"Which is why we have one request." Red Letter had a pair of wings, but when he landed, he glowed briefly before his wings turned into a horn that poked out of his forehead. "The Rainbooms of Canterlot High. Sunset Shimmer, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity. Bring all six of those girls to us dead or alive, and we will stop our little warpath and leave you all alone."

"Oh, and while you're at it, be sure to look out for six particular students from Crystal Prep who also deserve our justice." Starlight stepped forward and took over for Red Letter. "Indigo Zap, Sugarcoat, Lemon Zest, Sunny Flare, Sour Sweet, and Twilight Sparkle. Bring them all to us as well, and we won't hurt any CPA student ever again." She chuckled and secretly crossed her fingers behind her back. "I promise."

"Make no mistake, Rainbooms and Shadowbolts. We are here to solve the world's problems." Blueblood's horn started to glow vigourously. "And after the Friendship Games, and the imprisonment of our beloved Abacus Cinch, we've come to an agreement that the world's problems begin. With. YOU!" He roared, lowered his head, and fired his magic straight at the camera, causing the shot to go to a techincal difficulties screen before it went back to the woman in the newsroom.

"We'd better get out of here. And fast! Before anyone notices we're here!" Pinkie Pie started to run towards the door. "Hurry!"

"We might as well. If the Defectors know we're here, things might just end up being impossible to fix." Sugarcoat quickly stood up and walked towards the door almost as if she was jogging.

"Impossible doesn't even describe it, Sugarcoat!" Sour Sweet stumbled to get to her feet and charged out.

Sunset and the rest of the group followed Pinkie and Sugarcoat out of the building, running as fast as their legs could carry them. She didn't want to stay behind and find out whether or not the Defectors had influenced the people inside to try and capture them. She wasn't taking any chances, knowing full well that they had just declared war on public television, and that she and her friends were their prime target.

"We need to get somewhere safe, girls!" Sunset said rapidly as she and the group cut a corner and ran the exact same way that they had come to get to Sugarcube Corner in the first place. "If the Defectors swayed the people of the city, then we're in even deeper trouble than we could have ever imagined!"

"Starlight and Blueblood just hijacked a whole news feed just to get to us. It's safe to say that they can't be saved, even if they're just human." Twilight started to drift deep in thought, despite the fact that she was still keeping up with her friends. "What are they doing with that magic? And more importantly, are they truly safe from it? Will it turn them into demons just like I was? Only time will tell..."

Chapter 12: Cry of War

The Defectors all stomped down the road with their hands bunched up into fists, with the winged ones flying overhead. With the magic now welling up inside of them, they felt like using their new power more than ever. And their first target would be the school that robbed them of everything that made them what they were: Canterlot High.

Starlight and Blueblood pointed towards a bus that was driving down the road towards them, and the Defectors with horns fired bolts of magic that hit the bus head-on, causing it to flip right over the uniformed students and into the reach of the ones with wings, who swiftly kicked it all at once into a skyscraper, causing it to crash.

"Starlight, if I may speak?" Red Letter walked forward from the group.

"You may, Red Letter," she said.

"Do not forget that the Rainbooms are probably nestled up in Canterlot High along with those other maggots." Red Letter crossed his arms, but still kept a steady pace. "For a total victory, we must destroy them along with the school."

"Don't be stupid, Red Letter. You know full well what Sunset Shimmer and her friends are capable of," Blueblood replied before he pointed at a nearby market stall, causing the Defectors to open fire once again, sending the vendor and the customer flying as well. "If you try to invoke them to use the Magic of Friendship against us, then it will prove catastrophic to our revenge."

"So are we just going to let them keep Canterlot High safe?" Red raised his eyebrows.

"No, but at the same time, we're not going let them stay at that eyesore of a high school." Starlight scratched her chin for a few seconds before an idea struck her. She raised a finger with a gasp and said. "I've got it!"

"What is it, Starlight?" A female Defector asked from behind her.

"We will continue our assault on Canterlot High as planned, while Red Letter goes off and battles the Rainbooms by himself," said Starlight, grinning deviously. "Without those girls at that school, we can bulldoze it without any problems."

"But are you really sure that Red Letter can handle this?" A second female Defector said. "He is going up against six girls—twelve if you include the Shadowbolts."

"I have a black belt in every martial art on this earth. Karate, kung-fu, jiu-jitsu, judo—you name it, I've mastered it." Red Letter leapt in front of the group and watched as Starlight and Blueblood pointed at more objects. Instead of them being destroyed, however, they wre flung at Red, who swiftly punched and kicked them all against other buildings. "Facing six petulant teenage girls should be no problem. And even if they get the help of those traitors, I will still snuff them all out..."

"See that you do, Red." Starlight nodded as she sent him off.

Red Letter charged ahead towards the school so that he could prepare his ambush on the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts. He leapt into the air and with a quick burst of light, his horn turned into a pair of wings, which he started to use immediately.

"This attack marks a new beginning for the humans of this world!" Starlight decreed as her army continued their march towards CHS. "With the destruction of Canterlot High School, we Defectors will provide this world with a new way of life. With the magic we've accumulated, we'll make sure that every man, woman, and child will be able to Pony-Up!

"With all of us using magic, Sunset Shimmer and her friends won't be special anymore, and the world we all live in will change for the better!" Blueblood added his own voice to the speech. "A world where work times will be cut down phenomenally, where people will be able to fly without the need for aircraft, where people can become much stronger both literally and figuratively. That is the true goal of the Defectors! To destroy any rule that stands in our way, and to bring this world further and further into the future!"

"The Canterlot High Wondercolts will be sent to the glue factory, and we'll quash any and all hopes for a rebellion from those snot-nosed brats!" Starlight continued. "Are you with me?!"

"YES, QUEEN STARLIGHT!" The Defectors yelled in perfect unison with each other.

"Are we going to let the Rainbooms keep us from evolving?!"


"Then let's turn Canterlot High into rubble! Let's make sure nothing stands! Let's burn this blight out of the world and our minds forever!" Starlight raised her right arm into the air.

The Defectors cheered and clamoured, raising their arm fists in agreement as their march continued towards Canterlot High.

As the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts ran through the streets with their hearts pounding rapidly, they began to notice a bunch of objects being launched into the air. As every object flew up and smashed into the nearby skyscrapers, a muted crash echoed in their ears, and then another one when the objects landed back on the ground.

"Sweet mother of..." Lemon Zest took off her headphones as she watched the chaos unfurl.

"They're insane!" Rainbow Dash, Indigo Zap, and Sour Sweet all spoke at the same time before they took quick glances at each other.

Suddenly, Sunset began to feel a burning pain in her chest, and she abruptly stopped in the middle of the street at she clutched where she felt the pain. She let out a small groan as she knelt down onto the ground gritted her teeth, the sensation getting worse and worse by the second.

"Sunset! What's wrong?!" Fluttershy asked as she watched her friend begin to squirm.

"I feel... pain." Sunset slowly began to stand up, the burning still inside of her, but beginning to dissipate. "The Magic of Friendship is crying, and the Defectors are to blame."

"How are you the only one who feels this, Sunset?" Rarity raised her left eyebrow. "If we all have the Magic of Friendship, then shouldn't it make all of us writhe in agony?"

"I don't really know, Rarity. It just sort of happened out of nowhere..." Sunset wobbled, but finally managed to stand upright once again. "But I know the sensation felt all too real, like the magic isn't just some energy anymore. It's a sentient being, and the Defectors are abusing it for their own evil ways."

"But how can manage be a living thing?" Sugarcoat asked.

"I'm not sure, Sugarcoat. But I have noticed that every time a new threat has come up, the Magic of Friendship has been evolving bit by bit." Sunset brushed off her skirt as the pain finally vanished. "When the Fall Formal happened, it came out because Twilight and her friends were together, and their bond was all that was needed to do it. At the Battle of the Bands, the Magic of Friendship could be called by playing a musical instrument that reflected our tastes. And back at the Friendship Games, it could be called simply because we were showing the truest part of ourselves," she said. "But now that the Defectors have weaponized it, it's taking a new form, and I can already feel it pushing to the surface..."

All of a sudden, Sunset Shimmer began to glow radiantly. Under normal circumstances, she would have performed a usual Pony-Up, but this time, it was something entirely different. She was lifted off of the ground, and the amber light eventually turned white as snow, and multi-coloured beams emanated off of her, striking each of her friends and the Shadowbolts.

When the beams died down, all of the other girls began to shine and were lifted off of the ground. Their glows also changed to a bright white, and after a few seconds of airtime, a massive white blast of light consumed the twelve of them.

The Rainbooms all had their Pony-Ups as usual, however, each of them was accompanied by a rainbow streak of light which danced around them, changing their clothes entirely. They went from their casual attire, into suits of armour with plates lavished with their skin colours, their Cutie Marks on their backs, and the rest of their armour being the colours of their hairs. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy spawned pairs of wings, but for the first time, Rarity and Sunset Shimmer grew a horn out of their foreheads.

The Shadowbolts underwent the same transformations. Pony ears popped up out of their heads, their hairs grew longer, and vibrant tails appeared out of their backsides. They were also given suits of armour with their marks and colours. Twilight and Sugarcoat grew horns, while Indigo Zap and Lemon Zest earned pairs of wings, leaving Sunny Flare and Sour Sweet with just the ears and tails.

When the light died down, Sunset Shimmer opened her eyes and looked down at her new armour. She examined each and every piece before she smiled and looked at her friends, who were doing the same.

"Armour?" Rarity felt the white plating on her suit. "A bit unorthodox, but I cannot deny that this makes me look rather radiant."

"Yeah! You're a white knight, Rarity!" Pinkie Pie bounced up, hearing her new suit clanking as she did. "And I'm like a pink knight, making Dashie a blue knight, and Fluttershy a yellow knight, and Applejack an orange knight! Ooh! We should have a catchy new name for this thing, like maybe Friendship Armour, or Super-Duper Defence! Or maybe even—"

"We get the idea, Pinkie Pie." Applejack put her hand over Pinkie' mouth, silencing her instantaneously. "But I gotta agree with Rarity on this. This is weird."

"Tell me about it. I can fly!" Lemon slapped her headphones back on, cranked up the volume to maximum, and flew into the air to try dancing while flying. She pulled some unique movements that she could never do on land, and she eventually ended with a swift somersault before landing on the ground again.

"Alright, that's not something you see everyday..." Rainbow Dash looked at the Shadowbolts after their transformation. It was the first time ever that she'd someone who wasn't one of her friends Pony-Up.

"A horn?" Sugarcoat looked at her new appendage and gently rubbed it. "What use does this serve?"

"Back in Equestria, my home, unicorn horns were used for spellcasting," Sunset said.

"Like magic?" Twilight felt how sturdy her horn was compared to the rest of her body. She tapped the point of it briefly before she felt it light up and begin to cast a spell. "Whoa! How do I use this?" She stumbled backwards when she saw what was happening.

"Calm down, Twilight." Sunset walked over to her and laid her arm over the purple girl's shoulders. "Just think of something, and your horn will do the rest. From simple levitation, to teleportation, and even to firing lasers. Just relax, clear your mind, and focus on what you want your magic to do, and you'll do it."

"Umm... Alright." Twilight closed her eyes and pointed her horntowards a nearby piece of litter that someone was about to throw onto the ground. She envisioned the person tossing it away and her picking it up and landing it into the bin. The events unfolded exactly as she thought it would, and a magenta aura appeared around the litter. It was then guided into the slot and into the bin perfectly. She opened her eyes again and smiled, knowing that she had done a simple good deed with her new horn.

"You're a natural, Twilight." Sunset patted her on the back. "And you're only going to get better."

"Thanks, Sunset," Twilight smiled.

"Interesting..." Sugarcoat walked into the middle of Sunset Shimmer and Twilight and adjusted her glasses once again. "So this magic grants us levitation?"

"Not just that, Sugarcoat." Sunset pulled out her book to contact the Twilight Sparkle of Equestria. "Magic back home has a number of different uses, not just picking something up with your mind. It can make you fly, it can change things into other things, heck, it can even make a person older or younger if they really concentrated."

"So it's basically an all-purpose tool?" Sugarcoat raised her brows.

"You could say that..."

All of a sudden, Red Letter flew overhead before his wings turned back into a simple unicorn horn. He did four rolls as he fell before he landed on the ground fist-first, causing a small earthquake to hit the girls and make them collapse on top of each other. He stood back up, let the magic subside, cleaned away the dirt from his landing, and cracked his knuckles.

"Red Letter!" Sunset exclaimed as she stood up again and stood in a battle-ready position.

"So, you girls decided to don some armour for our battle?" Red looked at how each of the girls was dressed. "How fitting, since this battle would've left you broken beyond repair without it. Now that you have it, though, this should be much more interesting..."

"You kidding me?" Indigo Zap began to laugh. "It's twelve-on-one, Red. There's no way you'll beat us!"

"Have you not yet learned to hold your tongue, miss Zap?!" Red's horn glowed, firing a bolt at Indigo's face, sending her hurtling into the nearby wall. "Do not underestimate an asian exchange student—especially not one who goes to Crystal Prep Academy!"

"You alright, Indy?" Lemon Zest called back at Indigo as she fell off the wall and got back on her feet.

"Yeah, Lemon. This armour saved my hide." Indigo ran back over to the group and stood alongside the rest of the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts.

"You know, ladies, you are starting to become a thorn in Queen Starlight's side." Red Letter bent his legs and stood in a martial-arts stance before he made a kickflip that had him punch the ground again, but his horn was lit up once again. "And because of that, I will personally make sure that you are removed from the equation for good!"

Before anyone else could say anything, cracks began to appear in the air around the thirteen teenagers. They all intertwined with each other before reality shattered like glass, transporting Red Letter, the Rainbooms, and the Shadowbolts to another world.

When their trip ended, the group all found themselves in a mountainous landscape with nothing but mist below, and other mountains in the distance, with a few rope bridges connecting each of them which just hung over the mist by a tiny amount. A few cherry blossom petals fell from the sky before a massive swarm of them appeared on one of the adjacent mountains.

The pink petals where swiftly blown away, revealing Red Letter dressed in a purple robe with black belts on his arms, legs, head, and chest. The robe also had a simple purple 'S' with a wing on the back, and a golden outline—the emblem of the Crystal Prep Shadowbolts before the Friendship Games had ended.

Red Letter was entirely barefoot, and had his hands balled up into fists as he stood on one foot and took another stance. "With a legacy built by Principal Abacus Cinch, the students all followed all of the prospects of unity, uniformity, and equality." He leapt onto his other foot. "Until the Friendship Games happened, the students were happy with this way of life, including the Shadowbolts who now stand by your side."

"Times change, Red Letter! The sooner you accept that, the sooner you punks'll be gone!" Sour Sweet shouted.

"Do not deny the past, Sour Sweet. You used to laugh at all of the common people before the Games came around," he said. "Showing contempt for those with less talent, money, or other such traits beneath your own was the way Crystal Prep students have always been, as they know that there is no-one else in the country—maybe even the world, who could compare to them.

"But now you girls have this new power, the Magic of Friendship, that jeopardizes our reputation, as well as our place in the hierarchy." Red did some regular punches and kicks to warm himself up. "Because of it, Abacus Cinch was stripped away from us, and our school fell into tatters. We formed the Defectors shortly afterwards, and with the Shadowbolts by our side, we were to be unstoppable. But alas, it was not to be, was it, traitors?!"

"You Defectors act like you are the heroes, when all along, you speak madness. Madness led by a girl who lost her principal, then her friends, and is now consumed by rage!" Sunny Flare stepped forward, puffed out her chest, and threw her arms out, ready to fight.

"You have to admit, Sunny can wax poetic." Sugarcoat smirked at how pumped her friend was for their upcoming battle.

"Starlight Glimmer is busy forging a new world for us. A world where everyone can use the Magic of Friendship, where no-one is left out, where the world is better for all of us," Red said. "That is our ultimate goal. To make sure that everyone is given a chance at brandishing your power, so that no-one feels insignificant or useless. And we cannot have you all ruining it..."

"You don't understand, Red Letter." Sunset Shimmer stepped forward and perched herself on the very edge of the mountain she was standing on. "You're all fighting change, I know, but will your goal really bring you happiness?"

"What do you mean?" Red's voice lowered into a venomous tone.

"Will you truly be satisfied when Starlight Glimmer uses this magic to take over the world? To destroy everyone and anyone who's not as strong as she is? You're all believing what she says about a perfect world, when in reality, you're all nothing but her lapdogs, who'll be put down immediately after she's done making her perfect world."

"You lie. Wondercolts are known for bending the truth and making people believe there's another way. I will not be dissuaded."

"I've done it before. I've led my own army towards total conquest in the past, and all that brought me was a scar that's still here today. If I was successful back then, I would have thrown away my allies and claimed it all for myself, but it took Twilight and her friends to stop me. And now, that whole tragedy at the Fall Formal is playing out again, but Starlight Glimmer and Blueblood are leading the charge, and it'll be us who stop them!" Sunset held hands with the rest of the group, causing all of them to shine with the colours of the rainbow.

"Go ahead and try, miss Shimmer." Red Letter performed a number of gestures in rapid succession, causing asian symbols to appear around him for a split second before they all shone radiantly and disappeared, leaving him bathed in a golden glow. "You and your friends can do nothing to change fate, and that is how it's going to stay!"

Back in the human world, Starlight Glimmer and Blueblood had arrived at Canterlot High with the other Defectors behind them. The ones with horns were at the front, with the ones with wings flying high above the others.

"Defectors of Crystal Prep! Today marks the beginning of a new era!" Starlight announced as she turned back to face her followers. "With the destruction of Canterlot High School, not only will we crush Sunset Shimmer's feeble rebellion against us, but we will also take our first step into creating our glorious new world!"

"If there are any students that still walk these halls, I want you to make an example of them," Blueblood instructed. "I want you to hurt them, make them cry, diminish any hope of happiness left in their wretched souls. But most importantly, I want you to get rid of this school's principal and vice-principal, Celestia and Luna. After all, an eye for an eye. A principal for a principal."

"As for the rest of the school, I want you to use your magic, flight, and strength to tear it apart, brick by brick," Starlight continued. "Leave nothing standing. Destroy whatever you can find, even if it's the smallest banner with that eyesore of a horseshoe." She then turned her attention to the statue, which held the portal to Equestria. The damage had still not been fixed since the Friendship Games, and it was almost devoid of anything. "I'll start us off."

Starlight Glimmer charged her horn up and fired at the statue itself, causing it to crack and shudder as she poured all of her concentration into her magical outflow. As the beam intensified, the whole statue exploded into white dust and rubble, leaving the mirrors on all sides shattered beyond repair.

"Let this be known to all Wondercolts and their followers!" Starlight shouted towards the front doors of the school once the destruction had died down. "Our reputation was all that we had, and you monsters decided to take it all away from us! So now, we're going to take away everything you have, and prove that Crystal Prep was, is, and always will be the best in the country, and that nothing and no-one is going to change that!"

"For all of the things you meddlesome insects pulled at the last Friendship Games, we have decided that you are not only a liability to our hierarchy, but to the balance of this planet as well!" Blueblood spoke up. "This is the last day that you decide to make your own destinies, as your actions have landed you in the hottest water imaginable!"

"Defectors! Attack!" Starlight shouted, causing the horned students to open fire on the school, making lots and lots of cracks and holes in the walls and windows as they tore into the high school. "Bring this forsaken school to its' knees! Make these students pay for what they have done to us! End this blight, and make our world great again!"

As the horned students attacked from the front, the winged students flew in from the rooftop entryway, leaving the regular students with just ears to attack from the emergency exits behind the school. Within seconds, they had cut off all means of escape, were destroying everything in their sight, and were advancing on Celestia and Luna.

As the ground team infiltrated the school from behind, they came across a group of frenzied CHS students, who they all kicked and punched against the walls, ceiling, and ground. They continued to brutalize them until each of them started to bleed or cry visible tears. Then they moved on to the next rooms on their path.

The winged students were primarily attacking students and staff in the library by picking them up and throwing them against whatever they could find. As each and every teenager and member of staff fell to their knees and failed to get back up, they flashed a devious smirk, except for Night Glider, who showed a tiny bit of remorse as they flew off to the next room.

The ground and air teams both made it to Celestia and Luna's offices before they charged in, grabbed the women in question, and silenced them before they could even ask who they were, or call out for help. Once their targets had been subdued, they began to run out the way they had came in, so that the unicorn team could destroy the rest of CHS without harming their principals, as they knew Starlight and Blueblood would do something much more befitting for their punishments.

"Keep going! Destroy everything! It's the only way our world can be perfected!" Starlight barked orders at the horned students, who only started to cast their spells of destruction faster. She then noticed that Sugar Belle wasn't firing as fast, or was as enthralled as the others. "Sugar Belle! Why are you so down? This is what you wanted, right? To see the Wondercolts burn for what they did to us?"

"Y-Yeah. It's exactly what I want..." She stuttered as she continued to fire on the building.

"Then keep going! Work with the rest of the team, and get this place decimated within the hour!" Starlight yelled before she ran off to oversee the others.

Sugar Belle sighed and shed a single tear before she picked up the pace of her assault, firing on everything she could see. Truth be told, she didn't want to hurt anyone anymore, but as long as she was under Starlight's rules, she had to obey—or she get destroyed by the army of Defectors she now commanded.

Chapter 13: A Legacy Felled, Another Revived

Author's Notes:

I just want to say that there will be some swears near the end of this chapter, purely because of how Sunset is going to react to Canterlot High being completely and utterly destroyed. If you're not a fan of this, I advise that you don't read anymore. I won't judge you for it.

I was also listening to the Keyblade Graveyard when writing the scene at CHS's ruins, to give it much more depth than it needs.

I hope you enjoy the chapter.

Red Letter leapt from his platform and hurtled towards the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts with his fists ready to deliver a powerful strike. He yelled a battle cry as he shot across the gap and was quickly met with counterattacks from Indigo Zap and Rainbow Dash. However, he quickly grabbed both of their punches, pulled them towards him, and kicked the two of them aside before landing to face the others.

When he landed, he was quickly circled by the others. Indigo and Rainbow quickly stood up to attack him once again, but were quickly knockde down when he did a roundhouse kick that knocked Fluttershy into both of them. Red Letter then slid behind Sugarcoat as she tried to strike him with a chop, before he rammed her, slapped Sunset's face, leapt over Twilight, and kicked her into her friends.

It was at that moment when the rest of the girls tried to strike all at once. They charged in with their armoured shoulders and drew their other arms for some quick punches, but Red simply let himself get boxed in, then jumped high into the air, turned his horn into spread wings, and jabbed his arms out, knocking all of his aggressors away in a swift movement.

"Pathetic teenagers." Red calmly brushed some dirt off of his robe. "You might be twelve, but when compared against a multi-black belt like myself, you might as well be a hundred for all I care."

"We're only getting warmed up!" Rainbow flew into the air and tried to face him in aerial combat. She did a few quick kicks and punches, but she was quite literally hitting air as Red simply shuffled sideways to each attack.

"Blind fury does not suit you, Rainbow Dash." Red Letter grabbed her last attack and pulled her in close. He leaned into her ear and whispered, "Your parents would be so disappointed with your actions..."

Rainbow's eyes widened and she stumbled back, allowing Red Letter to deal a powerful kick to her armoured belly, sending her flying across the skies. She went through a number of clouds which vanished as she touched them, before she finally regained control and shot back over to him.

Twilight, Sunset, Sugarcoat, and Rarity all tried to shoot Red down with their horns, but he was already moving too fast for them to hit him. He simply did some twists and turns, showing off as he avoided every shot that came from the horned girls.

Twilight then got an idea and stopped firing. She closed her eyes and concentrated on something else. She thought about flying from Red's point of view, and then him crashing into a wall. When she opened her eyes, her vision came true, and he had crashed into a purple slab conjured from her horn.

Rainbow, Indigo, and Lemon Zest all charged in, dealing powerful kicks to Red's back while he was still stunned. He plummetted towards the ground, leaving Sunset and Sugarcoat to grab him mid-fall and throw him against another mountain top.

"So now you start to show what the Magic of Friendship can really do?" Red gasped for breath as he slowly stood up, his fingers wobbling as he got back onto his feet. "It's about time. With such a girly name like that, we knew that there had to be more, to prove that it's not all smoke and mirrors..."

"What are you talking about, Red?" Sunset stepped forward and almost fell off of her mountain. "We're not using it to destroy, like you and your Defectors are! We're using it to protect this world and the people who live on it from monsters like you!"

"And yet you go out of your way to leave me with wounds?" Red looked down at his feet and noticed a small red patch on the ground where his left foot was. "From what it looks like, this is no simple fairytale..." A few seconds after he finished, the patch disappeared, and where he would have been bleeding, he wasn't, as if it had never happened.

"H-How did that happen?" Sunset immediately went wide-eyes as she quickly noticed the blood before it vanished. "It never did that before!"

"Now the truth comes out, Rainbooms." Red flapped his wings slowly and flew into the air. "The Magic of Friendship is nothing more than a stage name for something much different. While it claims to be lovey-dovey and baby-ish, in truth, it's a weapon for conquest—one to inflict harm on those who dare to defy you, isn't it?"

"That's not true, Red Letter!" Fluttershy stepped forward and threw her arms out. "We're not bullies like you!"

"Yeah! And besides, if this was a weapon to hurt others, we wouldn't use it on innocent people. Only criminals and gangs who like to cause trouble!" Indigo added.

"There are many ways to distinguish someone fighting for justice, rather than someone who merely fights for the thrill of it," Red flew back and forth, almost as it he was pacing in mid-air. "We Defectors are not the villains, Sunset Shimmer and friends. We are fighting because our dear Abacus Cinch was stripped of her position, title, and reputation. You seem to want to fight us purely because you want us to suffer," he said. "We did not do anything to you Wondercolts, and yet you decide that we Crystal Preppers do not deserve anything after losing something as meaningless as the Friendship Games."

"You are completely in the wrong, Red," Sugarcoat spoke up. "We asked the Rainbooms for help because you were hurting other students for no rhyme or reason. You didn't want the school to get better at all. You just wanted to throw it into something similar to that of a civil war, thereby making the Changelings your enemies."

"And you, Sugarcoat are so blinded by your lack of philosophy to understand who the villains are in this whole thing. I assure you, if it were up to us, we would not dare to lay a finger on the other students at Crystal Prep or Canterlot High, but Starlight Glimmer and Blueblood are our king and queen, and anything they say is law. So if a few students have to have nosebleeds, bruises, cuts, and broken bones, we are not allowed to disagree, as the penalty is similar to what happened to poor Fleur De Lis a few days ago.

"But Starlight's only using you all for her own twisted goals," said Sunset Shimmer. "She only wants to hurt the other students because she's alone. Twilight and Sugarcoat both left her, and now she's taking her rage out on the other students at CHS and CPA. I'm sure that anyone else, even King Blueblood, has to have some sort of remorse for the things that she's made them do."

"Sure, they might, but they would have to conceal it, as Starlight does not like any signs of weakness from any of her Defectors, even me." Red Letter's wings shone brightly as he ascended towards the sky. All of a sudden, his horn grew back, but his wings didn't. "I accept the Magic of Friendship, and all of the power it brings..." He clapped his hands together as if he were meditating, causing him to get consumed by a ball of light identical to the one that turned Twilight into Midnight back at the Friendship Games.

When the ball detonated, Red Letter was utterly transformed. Chinese symbols adorned his now barren arms and legs, with a single red sash wrapped around his waist. His outer parts of his eyes had turned purple, and apart from the sash and a pair of underwear underneath it, he was completely naked. He had massive white wings and an elongated horn, and on his back was a marking of the Shadowbolts' logo.

"I am transcendent." Red Letter held out his arms, and two orbs of magic appeared in them. He clapped them together with the light that was now emanating from his new horn, causing a number of chinese dragons to appear and fly around him. "I am one with the Magic of Friendship, and I shall use it to make sure our new world is formed."

He swooped down, the dragons following him at rapid speeds as he came towards the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts like a rocket.

It was at that moment, that Sunset Shimmer started to shine herself. She swung her arms in a massive circle, causing a barrier to appear and protect the girls from Red's charge. It repelled all of the damage and shock, and sent Red flying back into two more mountains.

"The magic is responding to me too, Red Letter," Sunset flew up just like he did, with another orb appearing just above her. "And now, with the help of my friends, I will show you that the Magic of Friendship is not a weapon of destruction, but a weapon to save our world!"

When Sunset went through the new orb, it exploded as well, revealing Sunset as the angel form she had taken back at the Games. A pair of shining golden wings appeared by her side, and she was now garbed in angelic white clothing with her horn turned from a simple yellow one into a longer one that glowed as well.

"And so the fabled angel of Canterlot High finally shows herself..." Red Letter crossed his arms as the dragons swirled around him. "At long last, the fated duel shall begin, and I shall fall to her shimmering light. Such is the way of the angels. They are the destroyers of armies, and as such, I shall be felled," he said. "However, if I am to die, I shall die with honour, knowing that my part in the Defectors was not for nothing!"

Sunset and Red Letter charged at each other, crashing into one another and creating a massive burst of magic that rippled across the skies. The dragons kept clashing with the rapid spells that Sunset kept lobbing at their master, as if they were serving as a shield to protect him from harm.

When Red had blocked enough attacks, he dashed forward with the dragons by his side and did some more punches and kicks, with the beasts beside each attack to widen his range. A few dragons did hit Sunset, but she didn't feel an increase in pain as the teeth came down on her, as they simply vanished when they attacked.

Sunset and Red Letter spent the next few moments trading blow for blow, striking each other with magical bolts, and even putting themself in a power struggle in which they managed to cancel each other out with how intense each side was fighting. The battle could have gone either way, but they were both determined to make sure that it ended in their favour.

"I don't really care how this ends anymore," Red Letter said after he dodged another attack from Sunset. "Win or lose, I have served the Defectors well, and that this shall be my final act with them."

"Huh?" Sunset stopped attacking for a brief moment. "What do you mean?"

"In the end, I am nothing more than an exchange student. "Red folded his arms, watching as the dragons circled him. "Tomorrow, I am to head back to my hometown in China, and this town's Frosty Orange will return to Crystal Prep. Such is the way of the exchange program."

"It's a lose-lose for you, isn't it?" Twilight spoke from below. "Even if you beat us, you'll have to return home anyway, right?"

"Yes." He hung his head. "Despite it being temporary, I have served my purpose as a student at Crystal Prep. I have made sure that the school's reputation for making the best graduates in the country has gone untarnished, and I have followed every one of Cinch's rules flawlessly. That is the way of the chinese student. Perfection is an essential part of our curriculum, otherwise, we are to be punished and forever reminded of our failures..."

"Are you saying that you don't want to fight anymore?" Sunset reached her arm out to him.

"That's absurd." Red slapped it away and got back into his fighting stance. "I might be forced to return home, but at the very least, I shall leave by letting the Defectors know that I bought them time to carry out their plans! And if I fail in defeating you, at least I have guaranteed that Queen Starlight's plan has gone through perfectly!"

"What?" Sunset froze up for a few seconds before the realization hit her. She and the Rainbooms had been wasting her time with Red Letter, and she now knew that the Defectors were after the students of Canterlot High. "Tell me what she's doing now!" She prepared another magical attack.

"The only to find out is if you defeat me." Red pointed at Sunset, causing the dragons to charge at her once again. They bared their fangs ready to bite, but she quickly vaporized them with a powerful laser.

"Tell me right now!" Sunset gritted her teeth as she fired more and more shots at Red Letter, destroying the dragons. "Tell me what Starlight's doing to Canterlot High!"

"Let's just say, the Wondercolts banner looks better covered in ashes..." Red chuckled maliciously.

"TELL ME RIGHT NOW!" Sunset screamed at Red as she flew forward and grabbed him by the neck. "TELL ME! TELL ME! TELL ME! TELL ME WHAT THE HELL STARLIGHT'S DOING TO MY FRIENDS!"

"And just like that, the angel's wrath descends upon this world..." Red spoke whilst choking for air. "Sunset Shimmer will finally have committed murder, and even then, she won't be able to save Canterlot High in time... Everything will be ruined, and it will be all her fault..." he let out a patheticly tinny laugh while he felt the oxygen in his lungs decreasing.

Sunset, despite everything that she had said, and how she had acted towards Red couldn't bring herself to murder someone—even if they had only served to delay her from stopping a disaster. Her eyes widened when she came to her senses, and she quickly let go of Red's neck and hung her head. She watched him tumble onto one of the mountains, taking in massive breaths of air when he landed.

"Wh-what?" Red quivered as he looked up at Sunset Shimmer. "Why didn't you kill me? I have done some awful things, and yet you decide to let me live?"

"With what you've said and done, you don't deserve death, Red Letter." Sunset landed beside her friends as the world around them returned to a normal Canterlot street. "Just because I'm furious with you for everything that you've said and done, I'm not going to stoop as low as the Defectors. It's not in my nature to fight evil with evil."

"Spoken like a true patriot and Wondercolt..." Red Letter watched the magic around him disappear as well, leaving him as a regular human again. He was no longer wearing his clothes in the other realm, and was now back in his CPA uniform—albeit with a few more bruises and cuts. "It's no wonder you've saved Canterlot High multiple times in the past."

"Aren't you going to keep fighting us?" Fluttershy quietly asked as she and her friends turned back to normal as well. "I thought the Defectors didn't show any mercy."

"I mentioned it before, didn't I?" Red stood back up. "There are some Defectors in the ranks that show signs of weakness, but they don't let it show, because Starlight would punish them for it. I too have a soft spot, much like many of my comrades, and I am actually scared of what Starlight is doing to achieve her goals, yet I don the mask of fury because I do not want to seem disloyal to her cause.

"As a young boy in China, I spent many years of my school time in bully groups, often bringing pain to other students because my leader thought it was fun." He paced back and forth. "I myself wasn't very pleased with myself afterwards, but I didn't want to make the other bullies seem like I wasn't contributing. I felt bad for them, but at the same time, follow my leader's words without question.

"Time after time, we did some horrific things in our groups, but I still followed on because I was not only afraid of what I was doing, but also because of what my friends would do to me if they found out I didn't want any part of it. Much like the Defectors, I have come to terms that hurting other students—and now even the ones in Canterlot High—is completely wrong, but I do not want to dissapoint Starlight Glimmer or Blueblood because of the strong grip they have over the others."

"But you're going back to China soon, aren't you?" Sunny Flare asked. "You'll still feel bad about everything you've done, right?"

"Yes. I admit that I will feel bad, but I will feel even worse knowing that I was let off the hook without ever having the time to say sorry for everyone I hurt as a Defector." Red took his Crystal Prep uniform off, revealing a casual t-shirt with a red envelope on it underneath. "Attacking is one thing, but never being given a chance to say that you're sorry for it is even worse. I will spend the rest of my days knowing that I made a name for myself as someone at CPA who liked nothing more than to hurt others, purely because I was a pawn in Starlight's game."

"I think I know how you feel." Sunset walked up to him and pulled him into a small hug. "I myself made the lives of many CHS students a misery when I first joined, but I eventually said sorry to them all, made up for it, and helped them through some even tougher times. And I'm sure that I can help you out, if you ever come back to this city."

"I appreciate that, Sunset Shimmer." Red returned the hug. "We're both the same. We've hurt others, but we want to be forgiven by all that we've scarred with our actions. I am so sorry that our first encouter at CPA was an ugly one, and had I only found the time to talk to you more, maybe we could've become friends. Which only makes me feel even worse for what Starlight Glimmer's done to Canterlot High..."

"What did she do, out of curiosity?" Sugarcoat raised her brows.

"While the thirteen of us battled in that other world, Starlight led the Defectors to Canterlot High and did some truly terrible things." Red let go of Sunset and walked up to Sugarcoat. "The unicorn students fired beam after beam of magic, tearing the school apart, while the winged ones and regular students infiltrated the school through the roof and back doors. They've probably got Celestia and Luna held hostage right now in an undisclosed location that not even I know about."

"What?!" Sunset stumbled backwards and tripped on the pavement.

"Are you alright, Sunset?" Red held a hand out to pick her up.

"I'm fine, Red." Sunset got back onto her feet by herself. "But what are they going to do with Celestia and Luna? Where there other students in the school? Is everyone who was involved in the attack alright? What about the portal? Tell me that's still standing!"

"I do not know about the rest of what you just said, especially not about a portal at Canterlot High, but I do know that Starlight's first step to revenge is to eliminate Celestia and Luna by any means necessary," said Red. "She says that it was for what happened to Abacus Cinch. A principal for a princial she said."

"Oh no!" Fluttershy squeaked as she hid behind Sour Sweet and Rainbow Dash.

"As for the rest of the students, she probably doesn't care about what happened to them, nor whether or not they're still alive, but I do now." Red Letter walked up to them. "I know that this seems all of a sudden, but if you're willing to declare me reformed, I will personally help the other students at Canterlot High get back on their feet."

"You might as well, Sunset," said Sour Sweet. "He's already suffered enough."

Sunset paused for a few seconds before she nodded. "Yeah. We're gonna need all the help we can get after a massive attack from those monsters in uniform. Come on, girls!" And she ran off towards Canterlot High with the others in tow.

"I just hope it's not too bad..." Applejack swallowed as she ran

When the group of thirteen arrived at Canterlot High, they were met with a truly devastating sight. The once proud high school where three battles had been won was now reduced to a massive pile of rubble, with a few students and staff members climbing out of the wreckage, with a few ambulances and police vehicles on the scene. The skies were no longer clear and sunny, and were now littered with purple storm clouds which were ready to start a storm at any given moment.

"No..." Sunset ran across the road as fast as her legs could carry her. As if the sight of the school destroyed was bad enough, the portal to Equestria was also in shambles, with the glass strewn all around the base of the destroyed statue. "NO! NO! NO! THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING!" She fell to her knees and punched the ground with her fists, tears streaming from her eyes.

"It's even worse than I thought..." Rainbow Dash slowly walked towards the nearest bit of the school she could find, slumped down at the mess, and gently rubbed it with her left hand. "The Defectors have ruined everything. The school's demolished, the students are hurt real bad, and the portal to Equestria's completely wrecked!"

"Girls!" Dean Cadence struggled to get out of the collapsed school, as her back and left side had been buried beneath marble and stone. "Help me!"

"Oh gosh! Cadence!" Fluttershy ran over with Rainbow Dash, Indigo Zap, Sunny Flare, Lemon Zest, and Pinkie Pie. They all moved the debris off of Cadence and helped her stand back up. It was only then that they noticed a massive red stain in the middle of her clothes. "You're hurt really bad! We've gotta get you to a doctor right away!"

"This is what we had originally wanted, but now I can see that the Defectors are beyond redemption..." Red Letter took his CPA trousers off, with a simple pair of jeans hiding underneath it. He ran over to Cadence as well and helped her to stop the bleeding as he and the girls carried her over to the ambulance.

"Thank you all, but I'm more concerned about the others." Cadence looked back at the rubble once she was laid down on a stretcher. "The Defectors came en masse, and I'm not sure that everyone was able to evacuate in time. Some of them might have been crushed by the destruction, or even worse..."

"The Defectors did this..." Sunset's head was entirely hung. She didn't show her face, nor her eyes as she walked up to Cadence. "Those monsters destroyed everything we had!"

"They also left me this before they hurt me..." Cadence shakily pulled out a letter from her pocket and handed it to Sunset, who opened it up immediately and threw away the envelope.

To Sunset Shimmer and her pathetic friends.

This is finally the end of your resistance. With no more school to go back to, you will lose confidence, knowing that there are some students—your other friends—who have died in vain because you spurred the wrath of the students at Crystal Prep Academy. This is far beyond simply winning over Chrysalis now. We are also at war with you, and if you dare to fight back against us, we'll only cause you more and more pain, before finally your friends walk up to the execution block to have their heads chopped off.

This is your last warning. Stay out of our affairs and let us change the world, otherwise, we will kill you, eat your flesh, drink your blood, and crush your bones.

Queen Starlight Glimmer of the Defectors.

"Kill me?" Sunset crumpled the letter up and shook her arm violently. "I'll kill them FIRST!" she gnashed her teeth as she violently ripped the letter into shreds. "Thinking that they can attack our school, hurt our classmates, and destroy our way of life?! Those fuckers are gonna get what's coming to them!"

"Sunset! Watch the language!" Pinkie Pie's tearful expression had melted into a serious one as she confronted her.


"Sunset! Calm yourself down for god's sake!" Sugarcoat shouted and gave her a stern slap to the face. "You're letting yourself get angry! That's what they want you to do! It'll make them seem like the heroes if you keep up like this!"


"SUNSET!" The Rainbooms, Shadowbolts, and Red Letter all shouted at the same time, pushing Sunset back onto the ground.

"Alright. I see how this is." Sunset stood up and pulled out the book to contact Princess Twilight. "None of you want to help a raging she-demon. I get it now. So why don't you FIX THIS PROBLEM YOURSELVES!" She threw the book against Twilight hard, causing her to collapse immediately. "I DON'T EVEN CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY NOW! YOU CAN GO DROWN YOURSELVES FOR ALL I CARE! I'M DONE! I'M OUT OF HERE! I'LL KILL THE DEFECTORS MYSELF!" She ran off with tears in her eyes, but with her hands tightly bundled up into fists.

"Sunset! Wait! We didn't mean it like that!" Twilight got back onto her feet and reached out to her, but she was already running for home.

When Sunset left the vicinity, the remaining twelve teenagers all grimaced at each other. Everything had gone from worse to absolute chaos, and now Sunset Shimmer had abandoned them at the worst possible time. Now with one less in their group, they started to shudder at what the Defectors were going to do next.

"How beautiful." Starlight Glimmer smiled as she watched Sunset Shimmer run through the streets without her friends. "I had not expected her to throw a temper tantrum like that. Now she's out of our way for good."

"What is our next move, Queen Starlight?" Blueblood asked.

"With the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts without their leader, they'll waste precious time trying to get her to come back." Starlight put her fingers together and gained a malicious smirk. "But by the time they do re-establish their friendships, we'll have already given everyone on this world Pony-Ups."

"How beautiful." Blueblood walked back to Canterlot High with his group of Defectors. The others were already back at CPA, and they were the last ones out. "Come on, Starlight. Your army is waiting to celebrate back at the academy."

Starlight nodded as she held hands with Blueblood, the two of them walking back to the school together with their allies right beside them.

Chapter 14: Scarred

"And in other news, the situation involving the Defectors has spiralled out of control once again tonight, as another major attack was carried out." A newsreader banged her papers against the desk as she addressed the viewing audience. "After fending off a riot suppression force from Canterlot PD, the Defectors then went on to destroy Canterlot High School.

"These images show in depth, an artist's conception of the scene, show what we think to be the extent of the Defectors' as they stomped all over the innocent students at CHS," she said as the pictures flashed by on the screen. "We couldn't receive actual footage of the event, so this was the best we could do. We now go live to our reporter, Eagle Eye, on the scene."

"Hot Scoop, let me just say that this has to be one of the worst terror attacks I've ever seen come from a group of Crystal Prep students, if not the only one I've ever seen." Eagle Eye was a cream-skinned man with brown hair, a black suit, and a microphone. "The casualties are extroadinarily high, with over two hundred dead, and the rest critically injured. And to make things worse, the school's principals are nowhere to be seen to confirm this."

"Do you think they're dead?" Hot Scoop asked from the studio.

"I highly doubt that. If they were, we would've seen them crushed under the debris. But we did a full search and found no trace of Celestia or Luna anywhere on the school grounds," Eagle Eye said. "But at the same time, we don't know whether or not they made it to safety either."

"So, what's gonna happen for all of the students who did survive?"

"I'm not sure, Hot. But if I were them, I would move out of this state and find another one. With the Defectors around, it's not safe for them, or anyone for that matter."

"In an attempt to put an end to the Defectors' madness, the military has authorized a full manhunt across Canterlot, and anyone wearing a Defector outfit will be seen as hostile, and killed on the spot," the screen turned back to showing just Hot. "This is normally unauthorized, but given the death count, we're not taking anymore chances. One way or another, this ends now."

The Rainbooms and Shadowbolts all walked up to Sunset Shimmer's house and their jaws dropped. What was once a peaceful two-story house now had broken windows, a deformed front lawn, peeling paint, and graffiti tagged all across the walls and door. The tiles on the roof were beginning to slide off, and all of the lights were out.

"What the heck happened here?" Applejack walked up to the front door and knocked on it, only to see the door collapse into the house and crash onto the ground.

"Sunset's really been torn up by this thing, hasn't she?" Pinkie Pie looked at the graffiti on the walls and read it aloud. "'All hope is lost, the Magic of Friendship is dead, and it's better to be dead rather than live in this hellhole'? She'd never say stuff like that!"

"Yeah. Sunset's all about hope and friendship and thinking about another way to fix things," Fluttershy said meekly. "But the Defectors seem to have made her really upset."

"Yeah. Not even I get as angry as she did." Sour Sweet coiled some of her hair around one of her fingers. "And believe me, I've gotten pretty angry at times..."

"It's understandable that she's feeling this upset," Sugarcoat said. "Many people suffer emotional trauma when something near and dear to them has been taken away or destroyed. In severe cases, it wracks you with sorrow and eats away at you until you're not the same person anymore. It can turn happy-go-lucky people into joyless monsters, or even goth kids into shy ones. But in this case, it's turned Sunset Shimmer into someone who believes that all hope is lost."

"But we still need her to do this." Rainbow Dash walked into the house. "We can't stop the Defectors without her help. She's been a shining example to us all, and I'm not just gonna let her sit on the sidelines and mope while those punks are abusing the Magic of Friendship!"

"I agree with Rainbow on this." Indigo Zap stood besinde her and wrapped her left arm around Rainbow's shoulders. "The situation might seem pretty bad—"

"That's an understatement if ever I heard one," Sunny Flare deadpanned.

"Alright, let me rephrase that. It might seem like there's no way to stop the Defectors, but we can't just sit back and let them change the world for the worse, can we?" Indigo asked. "We're not going to accomplish anything by sitting around and whining like babies. We've gotta win and save our world—even if this fails and we have to fight without her."

"If we lose hope, the Defectors win. And that's exactly what we don't want to happen," said Rainbow. "Even if things are beginning to fall apart, we've just gotta stand together, hold strong, and fight back with all of our might. And with the Magic of Friendship playing for us too, I'd say we're on fairly even ground right about now."

"But one thing's for sure. We're not gonna let Sunset hide herself away from the rest of the world just because the Defectors dealt her a major blow." Indigo turned towards the stairs. "We're gonna convince her to get back on her feet, battle those bullies with us, and ultimately stop Starlight from causing a massive disaster with the magic. Now, c'mon!"

Rainbow and Indigo led the way into the house, with the rest of the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts following close behind. They didn't even take notice of the trashed living room or doorway into the kitchen that had been completely disorganized. Instead, they just quickly went up the stairs.

When they got to the top, they walked down the corridor and found a yellow door that had Sunset's Cutie Mark painted onto it, but a message in red paint beneath it. It read, "There is no way to win. Just give up like I did, and the Defectors will save our world." The girls shuddered upon seeing the message, but they slowly opened the door, hearing it creak as they pushed it into the blackened bedroom.

Sunset's room was just as bad as the rest of the house, with overturned furniture, shredded pictures, smashed objects, and a coverless bed with pillows thrown against the closet inside. Sunset herself sat quietly on the bed, but her face was blotted out by the darkness, and even when the girls turned on the light, she refused to show it, and hung it down even further.

"Whatever you're going to say, it won't work this time, girls," Sunset's strong voice had been whittled down into a hopeless grunt. "I've lost the will to go on."

"Sunset. This isn't like you at all." Pinkie Pie's voice remained deep and serious as she walked into the room and sat down next to her on the bed. "That's why we're here; to help you get over this funk and fight those bullies with us." She held out her hand.

"Thanks, but no thanks." Sunset slapped it away and stood up. "Everything we've worked for, almost everyone we've made friends with; it's all been taken away from us by the Defectors. You're the last friends I have left, and they've made it pretty clear that when we have friends, they're going to end up getting hurt, so I'm afraid I'm gonna have to drop all of you as my friends."

"That's not true, Sunset." Applejack approached her this time and tried to get close to her, but Sunset merely pushed her away. "We've faced lots of other things that tried to hurt us before, and back then, we were very capable of handling ourselves. So what's making you say that this time we can't?"

"The fact that Canterlot High's been destroyed, Celestia and Luna have been kidnapped, the portal to Equestria's been permanently closed, and almost everyone we cared about is either in a six-foot grave, or is in the hospital," Sunset shot back, then immediately sighed and hung her head again. "Look, Rainbooms, Shadowbolts. You're all really nice girls, but I can't take any more risks. Starlight Glimmer and Blueblood don't just want to make this world better. They want to kick us all around for what happened at the Friendship Games, and if kicking me around means killing people that I love, then I can't be friends with any of you anymore." She pulled out her phone and browsed through the contacts, tapping each girl's name and then hitting a button to block each of them from calling her. "If we're not friends, the Defectors won't hurt any of you, and that way, I can fight them myself without any trouble of having to stress myself about you all."

"The break-up refuge move won't stop us from battling the Defectors, Sunset." Sugarcoat readjusted her glasses again. "They've hurt all of us, and we're all in this together. You might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but we're gonna help you, no matter how much you want to deny us."

"Then we could very well be talking until the end of time, Sugarcoat." Sunset flopped down on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. "I've tried fighting, and it's cost me everything. And looking back on it now, your mother was right. We all need to evolve, and even if Starlight's methods are beyond redemption, at the very least, she's being kind enough to let us all Pony-Up. It's what she's gonna do after she's won that'll decide whether or not I feel any better."

"Snap out of it, Sunset. Listen to yourself!" Sour Sweet slapped Sunset on the cheek. "You're just gonna sit back and let that bitch walk all over you when you're crying and sobbing?! The real Sunset Shimmer would never say anything like that!"

"WELL THE REAL SUNSET ISN'T HERE!" Sunset quickly sat up and threw a powerful punch to Sour Sweet's face, causing her to stumble back against a bookcase which spilled its' contents all over her. "Now all of you get out and don't come back! I'm not gonna put you all in harm's way because the Defectors think we're still friends! We aren't," she took a few deep breaths before shedding a single tear. "Not anymore..."

"Guess that's plan A out the window, huh?" Sour Sweet stood back up and walked out the door. "Guess we're doing this the hard way. Plan B. A full out assault on the Defectors with the help of the military!"

"But Sunset's crying, Sour." Fluttershy pointed towards her weeping friend. "We can't just let her—"

"Fluttershy, before you go on, I'm sorry about any of this, but again, it won't change my opinions on the matter," Sunset interrupted. "I'm not going to help you. I'm not going to acknowledge you exist. And I'm definitely not going to fight alongside you. This is something I'll do alone, without friends, so that this way, you don't end up in hospital or a grave."

"Well, we've tried." Rainbow walked out of the room as well. "But it looks like Sunset doesn't want to listen ot any of us, so I guess we really are going to do this without her."

"A shame. It would have been nice to have her by our backs for one last fight, but I guess she really has lost the will to face her fears..." Rarity muttered as she walked out of the room with the rest of the group.

Sunny Flare was about to walk out last, but she stopped at the doorway and looked back at Sunset one last time. "Whether or not you want to keep wallowing, you won't be able to win if you act this way, Sunset," she said. "The people of Canterlot need you now more than ever, and the more you want to deny it, the more it'll make it true." She pulled out a letter from her pocket and left it on the nightstand that hadn't been turned over. "This is the time for you to show how much of a hero you can be not just to the survivors from Canterlot High, or the students of Crystal Prep, but to the whole world. The quicker you cast away your pain, the quicker you'll get motivated to keep fighting for a better tomorrow. And in this case, I hope that you can win this battle with yourself, and become the hero once again—before it's too late..."

Sunny Flare walked out of the room and shut the door behind her, leaving Sunset to reflect on the speech she had given and the letter she had left.

In Crystal Prep's main hall, the Defectors were all gathered as Starlight and Blueblood sat down on two large thrones that had been hand-crafted by their followers. They all cheered and clamoured as their leaders sat down and were quickly silenced when Blueblood waved his hand.

"For everything we have done in our lives, we have never felt so proud as we have now," said Blueblood. "Even in absence of our glorious Abacus Cinch, we have accomplished so much in ways she could never have expected. We have carried on her will even beyond the Friendship Games. We have succeeded where she failed. We unleashed the magic's true properties, and crushed Canterlot High in the process."

"This truly feels like Crystal Prep's shining moment," Starlight took over. "Not only have those petulant brats been silenced, but we have finally gained our vengeance for being cheated out of another win, our beloved principal, and all of the honour we had established a long time ago!"

"Sunset Shimmer and her friends are still alive, but they have been demoralized out of fighting and will no longer hamper our efforts to better this world. And yet, I still see potential in them to try and stop everything we have done." Blueblood flexed his arm and looked at the hairs that had been growing on it. "I do not know why, exactly, but there is some certain radiance about those teenagers that strikes me as puzzled. I will not know until I face them myself, and see what it is about them that makes them special—to see why they would be a problem to our plan."

"There's no need to find out, Blueblood!" a male Defector called out from the back of the audience. "You totally beat their friends senseless! You shouldn't be worried in the slightest!"

"As much as I appreciate the confidence, Quickstep, I must say that as a king, I am entitled to having my own qualms, interests, and concerns." Blueblood pointed to him as he spoke, then pulled his finger back afterwards.

"I have to agree with him, King Blueblood." Starlight Glimmer reached out and held his hand. "You've done so much for the Defectors, and after we tore down Canterlot High with all of that power, there should be no reason to still be frightened of the Rainbooms or their prissy pony powers anymore."

"Even so, I must decide for myself whether or not that is true." He held Starlight's hand and stood up. "That's why I will personally face Sunset Shimmer in one-on-one combat, to see what lies underneath the red-haired girl and her spunky companions."

"But Blueblood, the whole town's gonna be on high alert after what we did," Starlight tried to persuade him into staying with her and the other Defectors. "Don't you think that that might be a little too reckless?"

"Nothing I have done has been reckless, Starlight. I have led the Defectors with dignity and honour, and my words will not be questioned by my second-in-command." He glared into her eyes. "Do you doubt my ways? Do you think that the Rainbooms are truly bested after such a hard attack? And do you really think that the Defectors prefer you over me?"

"No, no, and maybe no, but even so—"

"I started this rebellion, Starlight Glimmer; and the Defectors all see me as a beacon of hope. Isn't that right?" He turned to face the crowd, who all cheered and started to chant his name. This went on for a few seconds before he waved his hand again to make them be quiet. "You might be the queen, but you are only given that position because of how strongly you felt towards this whole thing. I am still the overall leader of this group, and despite the fact that our interests overlap, I still have the final word in all of our plans." He leaned in close to her face, to the point where his nose was touching hers. "Do I make myself clear?"

Starlight grunted to herself before she bowed. "Yes, King Blueblood."

"Good." He got out of her face and walked back to his throne. "I will face Sunset Shimmer on the hilly park outside of the suburban area. That is where no-one will expect to find us, and shall be the penultimate site for me to prove whether or not she has what it takes to stand up to us. But I shall not go alone. I shall take a small group of Defectors with me to escort me to this proving ground—and to keep the law and her friends from interfering with our duel." He jumped down onto the ground from the stand with the thrones and watched his audience step back to give him some room. "Now, who shall go with me?"

There was a long silence before a female Defector raised her arm. After that, a male Defector did the same. As they walked up to the front to join him, five more arms were high in the air, and the uniformed students who they belonged to joined him. Only after this, did all of the other arms go up.

"That is all that I need, but thank you very much for offering." Blueblood noticed the other volunteers just as the last seventh one walked up to him. "But if you all insist to coming, I have no worries with that, but just as Starlight said earlier, it would be too risky to take you all."

"We're not abandoning you, Blueblood!" Another Defector called out.

"One way or another, we're gonna fight with you 'til the bitter end!" Another one added.

"Hail King Blueblood!" Another one cried.

"ALL HAIL KING BLUEBLOOD!" The whole room erupted into a cheer that lasted longer than the ones before it.

"Now that is true devotion. Something that I'm proud to see that you all have." Blueblood cracked a smile as he shook hands with his allies. "Alright. You can all come with me. And I suppose that Starlight will join us as well?"

"I suppose." Starlight mumbled to herself before she got off of her throne and joined the crowd. "It would be cruel of me to let Bluey go out without his queen."

"Then it's settled. We shall all go out and find out what makes the Rainbooms special, and an asset to our possible defeat." Blueblood walked towards the exit. "Defectors! Follow me, to the ultimate fate of our kind!"

With more cheers, the uniformed students all walked behind Blueblood with their heads held high in the air. Whether or not they Sunset Shimmer and her friends were still a threat to her, they were all still glad to be loyal to Blueblood. He had provided so much to them in the time of their battle, and he made them all believe that they could acheive their goals of victory, and they would not forsake him for anything.

Starlight Glimmer was the last out of the hall. She had purposely doubled back to think about what her king was getting into.

"Even if Blueblood finds something special about those twerps, I'm not gonna let him risk his pride and our people just because some girls still want to fight and poison his mind with the Magic of Friendship," she said. "I know that he's gonna have a soft spot for them, and that Sunset's gonna eventually beat him, and if his words spread to the other Defectors, that'll ruin everything!

"I won't take that chance." Starlight put each of her fingers together and smirked deviously. "If he wins, then I don't need to do anything. But if he loses, The Defectors'll only have me to look up to. And with them all by my side, nothing will stop me from making this world perfect..."

Chapter 15: The King's Battle

The Rainbooms and Shadowbolts all arrived at the grassy hills on the outskirts of Canterlot to devise their plan for striking back against the Defectors. Without Sunset Shimmer, they had to redouble their efforts in thinking of a plan that would guarantee that they would stop the battle, before things got messy.

"So, does anyone have an idea?" Indigo Zap was the first to break the silence.

"For the first time in my life, I don't." Sugarcoat looked down at her hand and balled it up into a fist. "Those Defectors have pushed me too far that my mind is full of rage to think of something effective..."

"They've pushed us all too far, Sugarcoat." Sunny Flare walked up to her and wrapped her arm around the silver-haired girl's shoulders. "But if fighting is the last resort to stop this madness, then I'll gladly fight. I'll make sure that our efforts to save the Crystal Prep students don't go to waste!"

"But what we really need is Sunset to do this..." Fluttershy meekly whispered. "If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have convinced Red Letter to break off from the Defectors and help us out. Without her, we might as well be talking to terrorists who only know how to kill..."

"C'mon, girls! We can't give up now!" Rainbow Dash encouraged. "Those Defectors want us to belive that all hope is lost, that we can't fight for ourselves. Well we can! And Sunset Shimmer or not, we're gonna win against those thugs and save our world!"

"Yeah! Rainbow's helped me and many others see the light with her loyalty!" Indigo Zap added. "The Defectors might have the upper hand for now, but we've got ourselves, and together as friends, we can do anything!"

"That's a very nice sentiment, Rainbow and Indigo, but have you noticed that the Defectors are all using the Magic of Friendship now, and will most likely try to use that magic to stop us immediately?" Rarity asked.

"Yeah, I know about that, but the real Magic of Friendship only responds to us, right?"

"Well, yes. We technically embody all six of the elements, but I still don't see how—"

"And it's like Sunset said. 'True magic comes from loyalty, honesty, kindness, generousity, and laughter,' right?"

"Ah! I see what you mean now, Dashie!" Pinkie Pie lit up when the realization struck her. "Because we're all of those things, we can use the true Magic of Friendship against those phony ones! That means, that Starlight, Blueblood, and the other Defectors are only able to use a little bit, while we can use all of it!"

"That gives me some confidence, but it still won't be enough with just the eleven of us." Sugarcoat stepped forward and then turned to face the others. "From what I could gather from the times we saw the Magic of Friendship, Sunset was the primary catalyst for bringing the magic out, while the rest of us were just conduits to maximise its' power. There's no guarantee that we can stop the Defectors with just us. And if there is a sliver of a chance we can do it, it will be very miniscule..."

The girls all sighed and hung their heads when Sugarcoat had stopped talking. It was true that they had the true magic within them, but without Sunset, it was worthless, like a car without its' key.

"If only Sunset wasn't such a grumpy guts, then we could have stopped the Defectors easily..." Pinkie Pie's hair deflated as a single tear rolled down from her eye.


From the corners of their eyes, the girls could all see Sunset Shimmer running towards them from the distance with a letter in her hand.

"SUNSET!" They all cheered as she ran up the final hill to meet them all. Once she got to them, they all pulled her into a massive group hug.

"You changed your mind!" Lemon Zest bounced as she hugged her.

"Of course I did!" Sunset beamed as she returned the hug. "You think I'd really abandon you all after those heartwarming words from Sunny?"

"Well, you did kinda act like a big, stinky, meanie-pants back at your house, so we did start to lose hope..." Pinkie mumbled loudly despite putting her hand in front of her mouth.

"I'm sorry about that, it was just that I was taken by my anger and the loss of the other Canterlot High students that I lost the will to fight with the Magic of Friendship, and I became a much more different person inside. I turned into another she-demon. Not an actual one, mind you, but a verbal one. And once I understood what I'd been saying and doing, I got out of my bed, and read this really sweet letter from Red." She held up the letter and showed it to the girls.

Dear Sunset Shimmer.

By the time you read this, I will be back in China with my family and friends. I just wanted to give you my most heartfelt thanks for everything that you've said and done to me. I'll be honest, if you hadn't joined Canterlot High School, I would've become too enthralled in Starlight Glimmer's web of lies, and would've become another pawn in her plan to stomp out anything that gets in her way. If your friends hadn't stood by you and given the power and magic you needed to compel your message, things could've turned out much worse that having Canterlot High destroyed.

You must not give up now. You have lots and lots of friends. And despite the fact that they might be far apart, know that they will always be with you, and they will guide you through the darkness and bring you back to the light. Don't lose sight of your goal, and use the Magic of Friendship like it was truly intended: to bring harmony to our world and stop the Defectors. Even though the odds might seem impossible, if you believe that you can do it, you will. Nothing will stop you but yourself, and when you can throw away your fears and sorrows, you can do anything, no matter how big or small.

Your new friend from far away.
—Red Letter.

"It's nice to know that there are friends from far away who want to wish us well, even when they can't help us out," Rarity said as Sunset folded the paper back up and slipped it back in her pocket.

"Yeah. Usually when people move somewhere else, they tend to forget all about the friends that they've made before, and rather focus on making new ones." Twilight suddenly gasped when the realization struck her. "That means that... Starlight's not doing this because she hates Canterlot High, she's doing this because I left Crystal Prep!"

"Huh?" Everyone else in the group chorused.

"Think about it. Me and Starlight were besties back then, along with Sugarcoat. The three of us were inseperable, and Starlight was a much different person back then," Twilight explained. "But after the Friendship Games, I had to leave for Canterlot High, and Starlight must have been devastated when she heard the news."

"I'm also to blame for Starlight turning into the queen of the Defectors." Sugarcoat hung her head as she stepped forward. "Without Twilight, I was the only other friend Starlight had, and I turned her back on her when she signed up with those fiends. She had lost both of her friends in just one month, so she decided to replace that sadness with hatred—hatred that she directed at Canterlot High, Crystal Prep, and all of the students who go to those schools."

"However, her hatred was soon amplified by that of many other Crystal Prep students; the ones who wanted Abacus Cinch to come back into power, or at the very least, someone like her."

The girls all jolted backwards and got themselves ready for a fight. Just walking towards them was Blueblood, Starlight, and all of the other Defectors from Crystal Prep. Their eyebrows were all lowered and their hands were balled into fists, but they weren't seething at the sight of the Rainbooms or the Shadowbolts. Rather, they had unimpressed frowns on their faces as they approached the girls.

"Rainbooms. Shadowbolts," said Blueblood once the group had arrived. "A pleasure to see you all again, but from what I can gather, the feeling isn't mutual."

"You bet it isn't mutual!" Rainbow Dash threw a punch at Blueblood, who immediately caught it and held Rainbow Dash back. "Why the heck did you have to go and destroy Canterlot High?! Don't you people know when enough is enough?!"

"Canterlot High would've been ratted out as a school that had magical students one way or another." Blueblood threw Rainbow back to the group, who picked her up as she smashed onto the ground. "We were just doing you a favour by tearing it down."

"You killed the majority of our classmates and friends!" Rarity crossed her arms and scoffed at the Defectors.

"You've stolen Celestia and Luna from us!" Pinkie Pie added.

"And you've destroyed the portal to Equestria!" Sunset put her foot down hard on the ground. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't rip all of you limb from limb for the horrible things you've done to us!"

"The world is infested with magic now. Such trivial things like human life and a high school are no concern to us." Blueblood stepped forward and crossed his arms. "At first, we were all skeptical back at the Games, and we were just dumb and ignorant children, unaware of what was truly going on with the world when Abacus put forth that wicked plan of hers." He then grew a unicorn horn, pony ears, and tails coming out of his head and butt. "But now we see the truth.

"The magic that you six girls brandish is a powerful one at that. And when used properly, it can create anything, reshape countries, change the world for everyone." Blueblood rubbed the fingers on his right hand, creating a small stream of magic inbetween them. He then waved his arms out, causing the magic to expand and widen, until eventually, a sword materialized out of thin air right into his hands. "True magic is not friendship; it is not something that some prissy ponies carry around from Equestria. No. Instead, magic is the ultimate tool of creation. And with this tool, we can revolutionize the world, put ourselves thousands of years into the future, therefore making our world a true utopia."

"Don't try to make that word seem good in any feasible sense," Sugarcoat raised her voice, but only slightly. "You've murdered, destroyed, and caused so many people heartache that they'll never be able to recover from. If anything, utopia for you, is hell for everyone else."

"Sugarcoat's right. If you use this magic to reshape the world, you'll only use it to stack everyone into a pyramid, and then put yourselves on top!" Twilight put her foot down as well. "We'll never let that happen. It was bad enough that magic's been involved in this from the beginning, but from the way you put it, we've got all the more reason to put you down once and for all!"

"Truth be told, Rainbooms. I cannot imagine our world succeeding either." Blueblood shook his head and sighed. "All these battles, all these victories, all this pain we've inflicted on everyone, and I'm just fed up of it now. I just want this to end one way or another, but I cannot because of one major element." He pointed towards Sunset. "You. Sunset Shimmer."

"Me? But why am I so important?" She asked.

"There is something I've seen within you. Something strange, something new, something unlike anything I've ever seen before..." He started to pace back and forth across the grass. "I mean, the Defectors have all been pumped full of the magic you and your friends carry, and yet when I look at you, I can feel a force far greater than the one we have. It's been taxing my mind for an awful long time now, and I need to find answers before our little journey is at an end."

"It's because the magic you've been using is unpure. It's just the base level," Sunset began to explain. "Sure, creation is a powerful thing to have, but when you tap into the five elements that go with the magic, then not only do you have creation, but you have a power far beyond that of anything on this world, or Equestria. That's why it's called the Magic of Friendship."

"Friendship? What can friendship do against the power of creation?" Blueblood stopepd pacing and faced Sunset once more.

"It can save our world. It's done so three times already, and it won't hesitate to make it four times." Sunset glowed radiantly and was consumed in a heavenly light. She had a Pony-Up, but this time, she had a horn of her own to match Blueblood's. "If we are going to finish this, then we'll do it together. Hand in hand, friends 'til the end, united as one!"

"Hmm. It seems you also have a sense of loyalty and devotion to your followers, Sunset." Blueblood's horn shined bright, and all of a sudden, reality around them all shattered, just like it did when Sunset and her friends fought Red Letter. When the light died down, Sunset and Blueblood were in a massive coliseum, with the Rainbooms, Shadowbolts, and Defectors all sitting in the bleachers high above them. "I understand how it is. You don't want to upset your friends, so you try everything to make sure there's a solution that benefits everyone. How clever. But if it's all the same to you, I'd like to see how you reinforce that claim." He made a few practice swings of the sword before he raised it high in the air, firing a beam of magic that created a barrier above them, preventing anyone from helping them. "You and me, Sunset. One final clash between the King of the Defectors, and the frontrunner for the Magic of Friendship."

"Gladly." Sunset's horn generated a sword of her own. It had a golden hilt with her Cutie mark in the middle and the blade was adorned with golden markings all across it.

"Truly, this is the way the climax of this fight was meant to be." Blueblood started to walk forward. "Such an honour to face an opponent like you, Sunset."

"Likewise. This is how I first thought you'd be fighting me." Sunset stepped forward as well. "The king stakes his pride by facing all foes, regardless of size, shape, and age. What an honour to live by."

After both Sunset and Blueblood were within touching distance of each other, the two of them held their swords out and swung violently at each other, clashing every single time. Lots of blows were traded, and the sparks could be seen flying off the swords as they collided. Sunset fought on offense, while Blueblood resorted to mostly parrying. Both sides didn't flinch a single time throughout the whole ordeal, and it was a very even match.

But after a few more swings, Blueblood slashed under the next strike, causing Sunset to stumble backwards and ready herself for Blueblood's attack. She dodged most of the swings and reflected many others, and soon enough, they were back where they had started.

It was after that that Blueblood and Sunset's horns started to glow in unison, and before long, lasers were portruding out of them, locking with the other as they touched, while the swords were still being brandished. They charged at each other, causing the outflow of magic from both their horns to get too powerful, causing a small explosion that knocked both of them back.

With the power struggle between the beams broken, Sunset fired off a volley of spells at Blueblood, who leapt up and responded in kind with his own array of bolts and orbs. Both sides were now trying to shoot each other down while also fighting with their weapons. It was a hard task for both of them, and often at times, their opponent landed a few lucky shots on them, but it was still undecidable.

"What a battle this is turning out to be." Blueblood smiled as he leapt forward and did a somersault slash against Sunset, who sidestepped out of the way just in time. "Now this is what I wanted all along! A challenge!"

"We're only getting warmed up!" Sunset smirked as she held her hand against her sword before she ran fowards and performed a long and fast combo against Blueblood, who was moving so erratically that it was impossible to hurt him.

As the fight went on, Starlight began to sweat as she sat in the audience. She tugged on her collar and chattered her teeth as she watched Blueblood lock horns with Sunset. She knew that he was the symbol of hope and prosperity for the Defectors, and that if he fell, it would be ruinous to her plans. But at the same time, a small part of her was hoping that he lost, because if he was to be defeated, then she would assume complete control over his followers. With both thoughts buzzing in her mind, she sat back and continued to watch the show.

Eventually, Sunset and Blueblood charged at each other, magic enveloping them as they made one final clash, and two massive lasers collided just above them. A golden one from Sunset, and a silver one from Blueblood. Both sides pushed harder and harder against each other, but just like before, it was too close to call.

Finally, though, with one last yell, Sunset broke through Blueblood's offense, causing her laser to overpower his and strike him clean on. She also took the opportunity to make a number of other swings that cut straight through Blueblood, causing the light to consume the stadium afterwards.

The arena vanished, returning everyone to the grassy knolls. Sunset had only suffered minor cuts and bruises, while Blueblood looked like he had been beaten half to death, with massive gashes across his body, a black eye, and a lot of scars across his face. Both sides were gasping for breath heavily and dropped the swords, which vanished before they even hit the ground.

"And so this is how it ends..." Blueblood coughed as he struggled to breathe. "The king of the Defectors, vanquished by the fabled angel of Canterlot High. I knew this would come, but I thought it would be much worse than I had anticipated..." He watched Sunset step forward towards him. "Now we must close this book of war once and for all.

"Truth be told, I don't want to hurt anyone anymore. I don't want to lead the Defectors anymore. I don't want anyone to have to suffer for our actions anymore," Blueblood hung his head and fell to his knees as he looked up at Sunset. "I just want everything to go back to the way it was before. I just want the world to be peaceful again. Please, Sunset. This war against change has gone on long enough. You and your friends have the power to end this." He hung his head. "Take my life, spill my blood, and end these accursed Defectors once and for all."

After a long period of silence, Sunset looked at Blueblood's damaged body and simply said, "No."

"Wh-what?" Blueblood raised his eyebrows.

"What?!" Everyone else said together in harmony.

"Sunset! He's the leader of the Defectors! Kill the fuck and end this like he said!" Sour Sweet demanded.

"No! He doesn't deserve this!" Sunset shot back at her and the rest of the group.

"Doesn't deserve it?! He's killed off over two hundred students who used to go to Canterlot High, kidnapped Celestia and Luna, and destroyed the portal to Equestria, and you're just forgiving him?!" Rainbow Dash spluttered, flailing her arms out wildly.

"If we kill him, then we're no better than the rest of the Defectors." Sunset walked over to Rainbow Dash and held her arm to calm her down. She watched her sigh and submit before she walked back to Blueblood. "I know what you've all done was horrible and beyond redemption, but the truth is, I don't really think you all wanted to do any of this either." She looked towards the other uniformed students. "All of you didn't want to fight anyone in the first place, but you devoted yourself to Starlight and Blueblood so much that you didn't want to say no to any of their actions, because you knew that if you did, you'd get hurt either by the rest of your colleagues or your leaders."

"Yeah. That's pretty much the long and short of it." Night Glider stepped forward from the crowd. "None of us really wanted to make anyone feel bad, but we were just driven by what had happened to Principal Cinch and to Crystal Prep as a whole. And then when Starlight and Blueblood came in, it was like everyone had a zero tolerance policy that just got way too out of hand."

"If Blueblood can admit that what we did was wrong, then so can I." Sugar Belle walked up and held hands with Night Glider. "Our king has always been a beacon of hope to us, and we've always followed his orders without question, even if they were the worst things we've ever heard in our lives."

"We've all been bullies, and if those three can change, then so can I." A third Defector stepped forward and ripped off their Crystal Prep uniform, revealing bright casual clothing underneath it. "We've been fighting against change so much that we never once had the thought that it wasn't a war we should have fought until now. Well no more. From now on, it's bright clothes, fun times, and friendship all the way!"

To that sentence, every other Defector started to tear their own uniforms off and reveal their true clothes underneath, throwing their old clothes, the very symbol of being a Defector to the ground and stomped all over them. They all walked up to Sunset and the other girls and shook their hands, patted them on the back, apologized for what they had done, and started to act genuinely friendly towards each other.

As Blueblood watched everything happen, he smiled and stood up. "After everything I've done, I never thought that we would get a happy ending..." He slowly but surely stood to his feet, gritting his teeth and holding back his tears as he fought against the immense pain that was shooting up through his body.

"Sunset. I know that there's no way to fix what's been done to your classmates or to Equestria's portal, but we can help you out in moving on from what happened." Blueblood shook Sunset's hand. "We can help you rebuild Canterlot High, patch things up with Principal Chrysalis, cure the students we've put in hospital, and much more."

"That sounds wonderful, Blueblood." Sunset patted him on the back, watching him wince as she had been patting one of his gashes. "We'd love your help in repairing this mess..."

"Now I can see what truly resides in your heart, Sunset." Blueblood gave her a small hug. "You're a courageous heroine with a noble heart, and a lot of friends. And you truly deserve to have the Magic of Friendship deep within you..."

All of a sudden, Blueblood was impaled by a magical bolt, causing everyone to gasp as he stumbled backwards and fell to the ground. He grunted when it struck, as he tumbled to the earth, and when he crashed into the dirt. He vanished in a bright light, letting out a single scream as his body turned into little specks of light.

"NO!" Everyone cried as they watched Blueblood disappear into thin air.

When they calmed down, they saw Starlight Glimmer, still in her Crystal Prep uniform, holding her hand out. The magic was just starting to dissipate from her hand, and her horn stopped glowing. She had an evil smirk on her face which lingered as she dropped her arm back down to her sides.

"Idiots! Children! All of you!" She yelled at the Rainbooms, Shadowbolts, and the redeemed Defectors. She was taking deep breaths as she "Have you not forgotten the very ideals that I laid out for you?! The goal that we all shared?! The future we wanted to create?!"

"You killed our king..." Sugar Belle started to shed tears as she looked her queen in the eyes. "Why, Starlight? Why would you do this to us?!"

"That miserable little fool could never hope to rule the world like I could." Starlight crossed her arms and confronted the army of teenagers. "With me in charge of the Defectors, we shall go beyond the strength of gods, and make sure that we stand tall above everyone who dares to think that they're better than us! That is how Crystal Prep was, is, and always will be! We will always be the best, and we will always hate and defeat anyone who tries to defeat us!"

"That's not what Crystal Prep's supposed to be like at all!" Lemon Zest shouted, causing the Defectors to hold her up so that Starlight could see her. "We're supposed to be another high school, not a snobbish, stuck-up, and stupid mansion where people can be jerks for the sake of being jerks! You've clearly got everything about our school wrong, Starlight!"

"No. You've got everything about your way of life wrong, Lemon Zest!" Starlight roared. "All of you think that you're just some silly little adolescents born into rich families so that you can go to Crystal Prep and get an education? You couldn't be any more wrong! You're my own personal army, born from the ashes of Abacus Cinch's legacy, and together, we will fight against everyone who tries to stand in our way as we bring that repuation back!

"And YOU!" Starlight turned towards Sunset Shimmer and the Rainbooms. She used her magic to fly above the crowd and ready another volley of spells. "We lost the games, but everyone got it wrong. You're to blame, not Twilight, not us, not Cinch, not anyone else! It's all. Your. Faults! And one way or another, you will feel the hammer of my justice..." She lifted the six girls into the air and shackled them with magic, all while still flying above the audience. She brought up thousands of magical orbs that surrounded the girls and started to crash into them, causing them to feel unimaginable levels of agony. "Even if it means killing all six of you one million times over!"

The orbs all crashed into Sunset and her friends, and as they all screamed with each blow, Starlight was laughing like a maniac in doing so. Her pupils had dilated, and her evil smirk had gone into a full blown smile with how many times she was hurting them all.

The last spell was a giant orb that flew just above the heads of the Rainbooms, who were now all suffering third degree burns, broken bones, and had just as many cuts as Blueblood had before he died. The orb hung above them, then started to fall down. It crashed into them and exploded, causing a massive explosion of light.

When the light faded away, however, Sunset and her friends were still alive, holding onto each other's hands and shining with a magical rainbow-coloured aura around them, which then started to heal the damage they had taken. Their looks of dread had been turned into smiles of confidence as they held each other tighter.


"Your magic is powerful, Starlight." Sunset pointed at her. "But it will never be stronger than the magic deep within all of us. Together, we make up the true essence of magic. A power that isn't just derived from some ancient hocus-pocus fairytale. but one forged from five different elements.

"Honesty! Loyalty! Kindness! Laughter! Generousity! And Magic combined are what will always make us stronger than you, and will make sure that we win over you and your selfish dreams!" As Sunset spoke, she, her friends, and the Shadowbolts all had their own Pony-Ups before they all flew up with their own rainbow auras to hold hands with her and the others. "It's not just within me and my friends, either. The Shadowbolts from Crystal Prep fit the roles of the six elements too! And together! We'll make sure that we will never be defeated!"

"Nonsense! Nothing but silly nonsense!" Starlight fired a massive laser at the twelve girls, but it immediately disappeared when it collided with a massive mirror that came out of nowhere.

"It's not just Sunset who wants to fight for a better future!" A female Defector called out as the horned ones had their horns glowing brightly, which caused them to become enveloped in the aura as well. "Just like them and Blueblood, we all want this to end, but we certainly don't want you to be the one who finishes it!"

"Yeah!" A male Defector called out this time. "Together, all of us will stand alongside Sunset until the bitter end, as not just allies, but friends!"

All of the Defectors started to cheer Sunset and the girls on, causing all of them to gain the rainbow aura as well as they flew up into the air. Their words brightened the glow around Sunset and her friends, and the newfound brightness started to blind Starlight.

"No! NO!" She screamed as she shielded her eyes. "This can't be happening to me!

"You... YOU..." Suddenly, the realization struck her, and she reached into her clothes and pulled out a copy of Twilight's locket from the Friendship Games. Then her wicked smirk came back. "I can't believe how stupid you all are!" She pushed the button and the locket opened. And once it did, a massive torrent of rainbow-coloured magic shot out of the Rainbooms, the Shadowbolts, the Defectors, and Sunset, right into Starlight's hands. "ALL OF YOUR MAGIC IS MINE! WITH ALL OF YOUR POWERS COMBINED, I WILL GO BEYOND THE STRENGTH OF A GOD!" She shouted as she watched the boys and girls all struggle to keep hold of the magic. "I WILL RULE THIS WORLD AS TIME DEMANDS IT! I SHALL STAND TALL ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE IN EXISTENCE! AND I SHALL ERASE EVERYTHING THAT GETS IN MY WAY!

"MORE! MORE!" She chanted as the magic swirled around her and the locket. "I NEED ALL OF THE MAGIC TO REIGN SUPREME! MOOOOOOOORE!" Then, the locket started to fizzle with lightning, as the lights began to blink rapidly and the magic became too big for the device to handle. There was so much magic that it was beginning to overload the system, and only when Starlight looked down did she notice. "Wait, that's too mu—"

But before anyone else could say or do anything, a massive eruption of magic consumed everyone not just in the knolls, but across all of Canterlot, and the many other countries beyond. It hastily spread out to every corner of the planet before vanishing just as fast. And when it had all died down, Starlight, the Rainbooms, and the Shadowbolts were nowhere to be seen.

Author's Notes:

And so finally we're coming to the end of the story. Just as a head's up, there will be another chapter after this one, so don't think that this is the end and that Sunset Shimmer and her friends are dead. I have a much different plan for how the story will end, and how Starlight will be defeated once and for all. Let's just say that this final chapter is going to blow your minds...

Oh, and also, I don't really know what took me so long to get back to this story. One thing just led to another, what with the golfing lessons, the new Marks in Time expansion for MLP CCG, Far Cry 3, Overwatch, and many, many other things that happened recently. But anyway, I just wanted to let you know that the end of the story is in the next chapter.

And if you enjoyed this one, be sure to drop a comment in the comments section down below, as I always appreciate the feedback from you guys and gals.

Final Chapter: Unleash the TRUE Magic

When the explosion died down, Sunset Shimmer and her eleven friends found themselves back at Canterlot High. However, things were much more different from the last time she saw it.

Canterlot High itself had been fully restored and was standing tall and proud over all of them, as was the portal behind them. To their left, they saw the students of Canterlot High, and to their right, the ones from Crystal Prep. In between the two crowds were a massive orb of magic, which completely hid anything behind it. More important was that there were exact replicas of her and her friends standing closest to the orb.

"This is..." Sunset Shimmer had a hard time getting her words out as she witnessed the scene in front of her. "The Friendship Games."

"How is that even possible?" Sugarcoat's jaw just hung agape as she laid eyes on her past self. "Time travel hasn't been invented yet. At least, not to my knowledge..."

Before anyone could say anything else, the orb of magic began to shrink and fly into the background. Once it had shrunk enough, everyone could clearly see Starlight Glimmer hanging her head with her arm outstretched as she absorbed the magic completely. After consuming the final few fragments, she balled her hand into a fist.

"This body has been consumed by magic," Starlight's voice was completely emotionless and monotone as her head remained hung. "As it was foretold, those who hold magic shall be destroyed by it, and warped into something far beyond human understanding."

"Starlight...?" The Twilight from the past reached out to her, but nothing happened.

"Take a look at this pathetic world..." Starlight continued, her head still drooping down. "To the pupils of Canterlot High, this school is nothing more than a prison, forcefeeding them pointless and unhelpful knowledge. And so it was decided that a unicorn ran from Equestria and sought refuge here." She slowly but surely pointed towards Sunset. "She was followed by a second Twilight Sparkle, who gifted this world with the power of magic, and changed the fate of our world forever..."

Starlight's head looked up and her eyes opened, but instead of her irises and pupils, a bright rainbow light emanated from both of her eyesockets.

"What is this sorcery?" Abacus Cinch asked once Starlight had revealed her true face.

"The future is wracked with suffering and pain, cast forth by the very students who followed in your footsteps." Starlight turned her gaze towards Principal Cinch, who stumbled backwards once their eyes met. "After the Games, you threaten Canterlot High with termination due to my unimaginable power, and it leads to your destruction, and you being imprisoned for blackmailing Twilight Sparkle."

To that sentence, the other Crystal Prep students started to mumble about whether or not Cinch's teachings were truly honourable after all. After hearing that sentence from the future Starlight, their trust had begun to fade.

"From there on, these five would join forces with Sunset Shimmer and her friends to combat this great evil." Starlight waved her hand towards the Shadowbolts from the past before using her other to point towards Sunset and her friends from the future. "And while there were heavy losses from it, they still managed to break the will of the Defectors and make them believe in the Magic of Friendship.

"But only then did things start to fall out of control for them. Starlight, who remained defiant, stole all of the magic from everyone else, and shed her humanity to make one jump to the past at a random location, bringing whoever was at the epicentre of the blast along with her. She was who I am now, and the souls she pulled through time were Sunset, as well as the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts who had stopped the Defectors' warpath.

"The rest of the story is a mystery. I myself have no idea how the future will play out. But I do know one thing." Starlight began to glow a bright white aura, which only got brighter and brighter as she started to fly into the air above the school. "Whether you girls have the Magic of Friendship or not, this is the end of time itself!"

Another massive explosion burst out across the school, and in the wake of it all, Starlight's appearance had changed dramatically. She was now wearing white robes with rainbow stripes, bore a laurel crown, a pair of gigantic white angelic wings, and her skin was now translucent—as if she had become a pocket of outer space.

"What the heck is going on?!" Celestia called from the sidelines.

"That is not Starlight Glimmer. Something's changed her into this angel, and her mind's been sealed away!" Future Sugarcoat was fast to explain as Starlight descended just above the ground.

"You are correct. Starlight Glimmer is no more," the figure said. "Her mind, personality, and everything else that made her special has been devoured by the very magic that Crystal Prep wished to exploit. And in her place, I have risen to take vengeance on this blind and greedy human race." She spread her arms out, flapping her wings. "I am the magic. I am what remains of Starlight's body. I am..." She swirled her arms, and all of a sudden, massive rainbow letters appeared to spell out her name, which she then read aloud, "AURORA BOREALIS!"

"What you are is a freak of nature!" Both Sour Sweets called out in sync before they both looked at each other with widened eyes.

"Judge me not for what I am, but rather what I shall do." Aurora waved her arm, and all of a sudden, the mouths of both Sour Sweets had disappeared. "I shall make this moment in the timeline the last in humanity. I shall defeat the Spirits of Harmony, and take control of history. Then, I shall bring about the end of the world, and reset the timeline from the very beginning. No-one will have any memory of the events, and will live the exact same lives over and over again.

"Then, when the Friendship Games comes around, the world will end in exactly the same way." She returned the mouths by clapping her hands once. "Cinch will blackmail Twilight, setting the chain of events off once again. Only this time, instead of Midnight being created, Aurora Borealis will once more destroy and restart time. It shall be an endless circle where no-one's life changes at all. Only then, willl the world finally be at peace, and the darkened future that I and the twelve heroines came from will be erased."

"An endless circle of time..." Future Twilight immediately figured it out. "That was your plan all along, wasn't it, Starlight?!"

"I already told you, I am not—"

"You never wanted to rule Crystal Prep or the world! You never wanted to hurt anyone because Cinch was fired and everyone at CPA changed for the better!" Twilight interrupted, then softly said, "You just wanted me and Sugarcoat back after we abandoned you, isn't that right?"

"That was what Starlight Glimmer wanted. Not me," Aurora Borealis said. "Starlight and her wants are gone now, and all that remains are my thoughts on a world where time never progresses forward beyond the Friendship Games, therefore ensuring peace and harmony for all."

"Your vision of harmony is nothing more than a philosophy that undermines the human species as a whole!" Sunny Flare from the past spluttered. "If we are not allowed to make our own decisions, then we are nothing more than sheep, doomed to walk an existential and endless path that leads to nothing!"

"Wow... Was I always that philosophical?" Future Sunny asked. "Either way, she's right! You can't deny us the right to free will! It's a violation of our rights, and we will not stand for it!"

"Yeah!" The group of friends cheered before hearing that same cry emanate from the students of CHS and CPA.

"Your weak resistance will amount to nothing, humans." Aurora Borealis spread her arms out, causing reality to crack violently. Thousands of splits appeared in the air, and with one mighty downward swing of both of her arms, everyone had been warped to a cosmic rainbow-coloured dimension where gravity ceased to be, causing everyone to float seemlessly. "This is my story, and you barely feature."

"No. This isn't your world, and you have no right to be here!" Sunset spoke, causing her, the Rainbooms, and the Shadowbolts to glow a rainbow-colour themselves. "Our destinies are ours to decide, not yours! And together, we shall prevail, as friends!"

After that setence, the twelve girls were consumed by a third blast of light, and when that vanished, Sunset was in her angel form, but her friends had undergone a change none of them expected. Now, all of the Shadowbolts and Rainbooms were angelic, with glowing wings, horns poking out of all of their heads, and a radiant white light around each of them.

"This is the TRUE Magic of Friendship. The ultimate tool used to prevent evil, and save our world!" Sunset decreed as she and her friends spread their wings out for the final battle. "From Honesty, Loyalty, Generousity, Laughter, and Kindness combined with the core magic inside, this is how we shall win against you!

"Even when our friends are millions of miles away, they're all counting on us!" Angel Twilight added. "All of their hopes and dreams are resonating with their souls. From Red Letter back in China, to King Blueblood, and even to the Defectors who turned everything around and stood up against you. Together, they're wanting us to push on, and push on we will. Because after all..."

"Friendship is Magic!" The twelve girls all shouted together, causing a massive kaleidoscope of lights to rain down on them, and the humans from Canterlot High and Crystal Prep, who were now all smiling at the occurence.

"Very well, spirits..." Aurora Borealis flew far into the background and conjured a powerful stream of magic beneath her fingers. She swirled it around her body, causing the dimension to begin gradually and constantly changing colours. "Let us see what your magic can do against a god!"

The Rainbooms and Shadowbolts dashed towards Aurora Borealis with their hands covered by spheres of magic. When they were close enough to her, they all unleashed huge streams of energy at her.

Aurora merely reached her arm out at the magic, which was compressed down into a thin little line of magic that was quickly absorbed by her. She closed her hand up and threw both of her arms towards the group of twelve girls, firing the exact same magic straight back at them, but at a quicker speed.

Sunset and the girls split up to avoid the blast, the magic just barely scraping their shoes as they dispersed in all directions. They recovered and started to pelt their own individual beams right back at Aurora, who was effortlessly dodging, collecting, or reflecting every shot fired at her.

"I shall erase this world and bring forth a new eternity of peace!" Aurora ripped open a portal with her left arm and fired a laser through it.

Multiple different rifts opened up around, and the laser travelled from one to the other. Where it was going and when it was going to hit next was completely unclear, and each of the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts couldn't keep track of it, and even ended up being struck by it at times.

Sunset Shimmer weaved around Aurora's attack and got up close to her. She fired blasts from her hands and horn, but Aurora merely brought up a forcefield by raising her arms. The sphere took all of the attack before it shattered, allowing Aurora to fire her own deluge of shots at Sunset, who barely had any time to dodge.

"Let's see what this stuff can really do!" Indigo smirked as she rubbed her hands together, creating a massive electric surge of energy between her hands. She threw them forward with her finger tips out, and massive streams of lightning poured out, which all hit Aurora as she was trying to hit Sunset. "Got her!" She fist-pumped as she watched Aurora cry out and stumble backwards.

"Insufferable little twerp!" Aurora lurched towards Indigo and held out the palm of her hand before she opened it and closed it tight, like she was clutching on to something. She made ripples appear in the air around Indigo which then smashed against her, making it seem like she was being sandwiched. "I will see you perish first for your actions!"

"Don't worry, Indigo! I got this!" Sour Sweet flew open and pried the ripples apart with her hands, which were glowing brighter than ever. Letting out a feral cry, she destroyed the spell and let Indigo fly out.

"Why do you persist when you know your actions are pointless?" Aurora clicked her fingers, and a massive explosion erupted around Sour and Indigo just as they were dispersing, knocking them away. "You cannot defeat the very power you hold. It shall always be stronger than your will, your friendships, and anything else you may have to fight with."

"Stop spouting that utter nonsense!" Rarity violently jabbed her finger at Aurora, showering her with extroadinarily sharp jewels in the attempt to do her some massive damage. "The Magic of Friendship has always won in the past, and it shall win once more!"

"Your misguided hope amuses me." Aurora smiled and clapped her hands, stopping the shower and shattering the gems. She then sent all the shards towards Rarity, slashing all of her limbs and leaving her with sizeable cuts. "But I grow tired of this little stage play you are trying to perform."

Gasping at her friend's pain, Fluttershy raised her arm, surrounding Rarity with a bright green glow. In seconds, the cuts were all healed, and she was back to full health. She flew over and said, "Are you alright?"

"Nggh. For the moment, yes." Rarity slowly got up and stared down Aurora once again. "But we cannot rest just yet. Our world is in danger!"

"Aurora! I won't let you do this!" Sunset shot a colossal golden laser from her arms and horn.

"I shall say the same for you and your friends!" Aurora fired in turn, but her laser was rainbow-coloured, and was twice the size of Sunset's. Effortlessly, the magical being pushed Sunset's power back and sent the angel careening towards the humans from the past, who were still helplessly floating in the cosmos.

"What the heck is going on?!" Past Lemon Zest shouted.

"No time to explain! Just try and get everyone to safety while we fight this thing!" Future Sunset leapt back up and darted towards Aurora once again.

Back at the battle, Sugarcoat and Twilight held hands as they took turns in deluging Aurora with their arsenal of magical powers. They rained lasers, called on portals that they could freely move, and even tried to sandwich her with energy. But despite their efforts, Aurora felt no pain, and countered all of their attacks.

"Starlight! Stop this! This isn't how you're gonna win us back!" Twilight called as she started to dodge Aurora's next barrage of attacks.

"I have already told you humans. Starlight Glimmer is DEAD!" Aurora snarled, her teeth gnashed as she lowered her eyebrows. "I am Aurora Borealis! Not that miserable waste of flesh, bones, and hair!"

Aurora weaved multiple magical streams around her fingers, until she created what resembled a nuclear bomb. She kicked it towards the girls and crafted herself an RPG before she took aim at the flying warhead and opened fire. As the rocket left the barrel, she said, "Die, mortals!"

Twilight quickly opened another portal by the nuke as it flew. She made a second one appear behind Aurora, and brought the first one closer to the bomb to swallow it whole. Smiling, she watched as it appeared just behind Aurora before the missile went through as well, colliding with the nuke and unleashing the full destructive results on her.

Aurora screamed as the explosion hit her back and sent her towards the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts, who all started to fire all the spells they had at the crippled deity. As each one connected, she let out small moans and groans, before she was knocked away by both Twilight and Sunset.

"Using my own powers against me?" Aurora crossed her arms and chuckled. "Impressive, Shadowbolts. I expected nothing less from the beings that ultimately doomed the future with their allegiance to the catalyst of their destruction."

"Stow it, Aurora. This isn't your magic anymore. This is OUR magic!" Indigo held hands with Sunset and Rainbow Dash. "We all screwed up pretty big in the past, but together, we're going to clear our names, defeat you, and save the world!"

"What good is saving the world if Principal Cinch will only lead it to its' destruction once more?" said Aurora, as she clicked her fingers, causing all of the humans of the past to appear behind her. "It matters not which way this goes. Abacus and the Shadowbolts will end in ruin. Ruin that they spurred with their own selfishness and greed.

"The Midnight Sparkle that their impetus created led to nothing but mistakes. But I can succeed with the TRUE magic they wished to control, creating a timeline that never ends, where Starlight, Sugarcoat, and Twilight are best friends once more." Aurora Borealis drew a rectangle with her finger, and threw it into the air showing the humans everything that had happened at the Friendship Games before.

As the images flashed through their minds, all of the humans began to hang their heads. They had trouble getting any words out to try and counter what Aurora had shown them. Even Principal Cinch just stared at all that had happened in the screen. The way she spoke in the video, the way she acted, it left her speechless.

"What good is humanity if we can't move on from the Friendship Games?!" Sunny Flare demanded, balling her left hand into a fist.

"My sorrow for the fate of these humans runs deeper than that of any bond you and your girls may share." Aurora clapped her hands, causing the images of the future to vanish. "Do you not understand yet?"

"No, and I don't want to!" Indigo charged forward and charged her hands with lightning. She punched Aurora, but was flung back against her friends when the magic around Aurora's body converged on where Indigo had punched, and then burst out like a torrent of water.

"Your efforts are futile, Miss Zap. Not to mention entirely predictable," Aurora said sternly.

"Then try this!" Sour used her own magic to conjure up a spectral bow and translucent arrows. She loaded up a volley of a hundred of the arrows before launching them at Aurora.

Aurora merely pushed the arrows away with a magical pulse, sending them right back at Sour Sweet. She frowned as each of the bladed projectiles dug themselves deep into Sour's flesh.

"Now it's time to finish you." Aurora's glowing eyes shone brighter as a rainbow aura slowly started to rise behind her.

The rainbow light that towered behind her quickly shapeshifted into multiple different beings that split off into six branching paths. There were three hippocampus heads with glowing eyes, two demonic beings with twisted smiles, and what looked like an angel sprouting out of the top of the aura.

Aurora pointed towards the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts, causing the aura's six forms to mercilessly attack the girls. She smiled in hearing them scream as the monsters hacked and slashed away at their bodies, while Aurora added her own volley of spells to the attack. With one final burst, all six forms fired massive rainbow beams at the girls, causing them to fly backwards through space. She then raised her arms, causing a massive concrete wall to appear out of nowhere behind the twelve angels.

The Rainbooms and Shadowbolts collided with the wall and fell to their chests onto the granite platform that Fluttershy managed to summon with her last breath. They all groaned lightly as the world around them blurred. They could barely make out Aurora Borealis and her aura forms ready to make another fatal attack.

"Time warriors! You've done enough!" Sunny Flare of the past called out from behind Aurora's aura.

As Sour Sweet got back onto her feet, her past self shouted, "What the hell are you doing?! You can't beat that thing!"

"No, girls! There's no point in trying to win this! It's over!" Indigo Zap's past self cried out as the other Rainbooms and Shadowbolts slowly but surely got up, wobbling as they re-opened their eyes.

"The Friendship Games... aren't over... until someone wins. Right?" Future Indigo Zap struggled to speak as she stood straight up.

Yelling, Indigo flew towards Aurora one last time to try and deal her a hit. She was simply swatted away with the back of the angel form's hand. She slid on the platform and stumbled to get up again.

"You fools! This no longer has anything to do with those silly little sports games!" Past Sugarcoat threw her arms to the sides as she addressed the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts.

"Just get out of there! Run! Or fly! Or whatever!" Lemon Zest screamed at the top of her lungs, desperation in her voice with tears flowing out of her eyes.

"It was never... about winning the Friendship Games for us..." Sunset Shimmer breathed heavily as she readied herself for the next round of attacks. "As long as we could spread the Magic of Friendship to Crystal Prep and its' students, that's all we wanted."

"Ready for this?" Future Twilight asked.

"Yeah. One last battle. Win or lose, I had a lot of fun being with you girls." Sunset looked back at the rest of her friends. "Without your kind words, selfless help, and undying trust and loyalty, I don't think we'd have ever come this far. And for that, I'm truly grateful to all of you." She smiled and gave a big group hug to her friends before they turned to face Aurora once again. "Now, let's finish this!"

"GIRLS!" The Rainbooms and Shadowbolts of the past screamed and reached out to try and stop them from going through with the fight.

Before anyone could say or do anything else, an extroadinarily radiant golden light emanated from the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts of the past and future. The magic was so powerful that pillars of rainbow appeared from both of the groups. They arched and crashed together to create a massive rainbow that illuminated the dimension with its' prismatic shine.

"The long lost sacred lights of friendship?! That's impossible!" Aurora called out as the rainbow formed. "They died out eons ago!"

All of a sudden, the rainbow pulled both of the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts from both time periods towards the centre. The twenty-four humans could only watch and be carried through the cosmos towards the heart, where they were consumed by the greatest light they had ever seen.

The past Rainbooms and Shadowbolts became the angels forms that there future bodies had before they all went under a massive change. Smaller rainbows danced around them, causing their Cutie Marks to appear all over their arms and legs. Their bodies had a brighter hue, their wings and horns all became physical, their hairs all gained an extra streak of colour, and their outfits had become magical veils that shone all of the colours in the spectrum.

The magic spiralled around them and flew into their bodies at a rapidly accelerating rate before the flow stopped, and the rainbow that they were inside detonated, revealing a massive ball of white light with a rainbow aura around it. All that could be seen through the whiteness was the outlines of all twenty-four of the humans with their eyes shining brightest of all.

"Whoa..." Past Twilight's jaw dropped at her new form.

"Twilight told me about this form," Sunset smiled at how she and her friends looked. "She said it was called 'Rainbow Power'!"

"Sweet! Now let's end this!" Rainbow cheered as the group charged towards Aurora, who was now flying out into the deepest corner of the dimension.

"The sacred lights were not what I had accounted for. And for that, I must commend you pitiful creatures." Aurora boasted as the girls all flew towards her. "However. This world cannot stand as long as Abacus's actions shall put it back into chaos immediately afterwards. That is why I must do what I must do. I am finished with you and your kind." Her aura swung its' heads and arms back, letting out a massive roar that echoed across the dimension.

"You might be right about what you're saying, but the Magic of Friendship won't be snuffed out that easily!" Future Twilight pointed towards Aurora. "It's the most powerful magic of all; far powerful than anything you can possibly throw at us!"

With that sentence, the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts charged towards Aurora and saw her charging up her next attack. With the shots signalled, the group all spiralled around the lasers and flipped over the magic missiles that were being flung at them. There were so many shots, but they were all able to move faster than any living being and avoid most of them. The ones that did hit, though, merely exploded upon colliding with the orb that they were flying in and dealt them no real damage.

After Aurora ceased fire for a moment, The group of heroines swooped in and threw their arms towards her. They deluged her with a massive meteor shower, with stars that shone each and every colour known to man. As they crashed down, Aurora tried to shield herself, but the attacks were so powerful that they burst through her forcefield and slammed into her vigorously.

"Yeah! Take that!" Pinkie Pie fist-pumped as Aurora recoiled from the impacts of all of the stars.

"Bah! Enough of this!" Aurora clapped her hands, and the three hippocampus heads let out a massive roar, sending red waves of energy through space towards the girls. The noise was louder than expected, and the girls had to cover their ears as their ears were blitzed with the highest amount of decibels thought possible. "Your pasts shall come back to haunt you!"

As the girls tried to fight against the deafening noise, they slowly pushed forward and opened their eyes wider, making their defensive bubble even bigger and cancelling out the sound waves entirely as they quickly clapped their hands. The rainbow waves they sent out were bigger than the ones generated from Aurora's aura, and they pushed her back once more.

"Why?! WHY DO YOU HAVE THIS POWER?!" Aurora roared and threw her own arm forward, causing the two demons to click their fingers.

Within seconds, the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts were blitzed with spells of both flame and darkness. Pillars of fire and meteors hounded them from above and below, while on all corners, they were being assaulted with dozens of balls of black and purple energy.

"Go left! No right! No, not your right! My right!" Pinkie Pie from the past said as they swooped and swerved around the flame attacks while simultaneously trying to shoot down the dark magic orbs.

"It's too much! There's no fucking way we can get through this!" Sour Sweet of the past called out as the magic came crashing down on them faster and faster.

"Don't give up! We can win this!" Future Sugarcoat pushed herself forward along with her past self. "It's like Twilight said: This is the most powerful magic of all. And if she's right, then I believe her!"

"I have to agree with my future self. Twilight is usually right when it comes to facts and figures," said the other Sugarcoat. "And considering that this is the weirdest thing we've ever seen, that's saying something."

"Talk later! Defeat Aurora now!" Rainbow Dash was just barely fending off the attacks that went faster and faster the closer they got to Aurora Borealis.

Before Aurora could make any more attacks, the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts rammed into her, pushing her back once again. All she could do was watch as the girls overwhelmed her with twenty-four beams of colour. They all slammed into her and curled around to make a spiral, making yet another massive laser which hit her aura too.

"Yes! Game over, Aurora!" Sunset Shimmer smiled as she saw their final attack connect with her.

As the blast died down, the group's eyes widened when they saw Aurora was still alive, and her aura was still there. However, she had taken heavy damage, and the light around her was fading.

"You think this is over, you arrogant little stains?" Aurora curled up her fingers to make her hands into claws. "Up until now, I've only been using a fraction of my true power! Now it's time to end this silly little charade once and for all!"

She swung her arm down, and her final part of her aura, the angel, punched a hole in the fabric or reality, causing a massive black hole to form. Absolutely nothing was able to escape from its' gravitational pull. The stars, the planets, the humans from the Friendship Games, and everything else around her was being consumed by the black void, and the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts were now desperately struggling to get away.

"Girls! Keep pushing!" Applejack shouted over the roar of the vortex as the group tried to put some distance between them and Aurora.

"It's a black hole, Applejack! There's nothing that can escape it!" Both Sugarcoats called out at the same time.

"Even so, we have to try! There's nothing we can't do!" Indigo Zap of the future called out as she strained to get away.

"Believe in the Magic of Friendship, and we'll get through this!" Sunset Shimmer cried out as she reached out for the rest of her friends, who all grabbed onto her.

After a few more moments of fighting gravity, the black hole suddenly consumed every part of the universe, leaving the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts stranded with Aurora in an endless void of darkness. There was no light, no stars, no planets, and no other forms of life.

"Even after that attack, you're still standing in my way?" Aurora raised an eyebrow at the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts. "I guess you girls really are something special after all."

"Seriously?" Sunny Flare and Rarity of the past deadpanned together.

"But you still won't be able to stop the world from being reformed. I shall still claim the timeline for my own, and reset everything you girls have worked so hard to accomplish." Aurora's shining body slowly but surely started to turn black as she spoke. "Now, witness my ULTIMATE power!"

All of a sudden, darkness consumed Aurora and her aura. Once she was completely taken by it, the darkness exploded, revealing her newest form. Her usual colourful skin was now radiating a foreboding and malicious shade of red and purple. Her eyes had returned to normal, but her teeth had become sharper and longer. Her hands became claws, and her wings had turned into two sets of demonic wings. The first one made of black raven feathers, and the other being made of red flesh and bone. Her aura was gone, and in place of it was a dark purple stream of energy, with slivers of rainbows inside of it.

"This is the end!" Aurora cackled maniacally in her new form as she stared down the girls. With a simple slashing motion of her left hand, all twenty-four of the humans lost their Rainbow Power and were back to being harmless teenage girls.

"Not the Rainbow Power!" Fluttershy gasped at how she had returned to normal.

"WHAT?! NO!" Sunset cried out as she looked at how her other friends reverted.

"Not quite so tough now, are you?" Aurora smirked maliciously and charged up an immensely powerful spell to rain havoc on the girls. Once her hands took in a massive influx of dark magic, she raised them both up and threw them out to her sides, causing black orbs to shower the girls at incredible speeds. "DIE, MAGGOTS!"

Sunset, Twilight, the Rainbooms, and the Shadowbolts ducked and weaved through most of the orbs, but there were so many of them that it was impossible to evade them all. When one struck them, they were blitzed by hundreds more, and they were thrown around in the shower like ragdolls until Aurora threw them against another wall she conjured.

"Aurora! Stop this! You're letting the magic go to your head!" Sunset cried out as Aurora closed the gap between them instantly.

"Why should I?! You never did!" Aurora kicked the wall, sending Sunset hurtling for the umpteenth time that battle.

"Starlight! If you're in there, don't let this monster control you!" Twilight reached out to her old friend. "This is exactly the same as the times before it. You've let magic rule your life, and you're giving up humanity to embrace it!"

"I already told you for the millionth time: STARLIGHT GLIMMER IS DEAD! NOTHING OF THAT MISERABLE QUEEN OF THE DEFECTORS REMAINS!" Aurora bellowed and grabbed Twilight, only to lob her at her other friends.

"Believe it all you want. Starlight Glimmer is still deep down inside of you, and we won't rest until she breaks free and realizes what she's done!" Sugarcoat from the future looked up at Aurora with fire in her eyes.

"Then you'd better pray that you share the same grave as she does, you blunt little bitch!" Aurora chained Sugarcoat up and slammed her against Sour Sweet and Indigo Zap.

"There's just no reasoning with her." Twilight from the past hung her head as she looked up at the colossal demon of her former friend. "We've tried everything to try and get through to her, and nothing's happened."

"And we can't even get the Magic of Friendship back because that monster stole it." Applejack sighed and looked down at the bottomless abyss.

"It seems like saving the world, our friends, and the future really is impossible now..." Past Sunset closed her eyes and hung her head as well.

"But maybe, with what we do have, we can save something else instead." Future Sunset raised a finger once her idea had been completed.

"What is it, Sunset?" Future Lemon Zest asked.

"Trust me on this, ok?" She gave a warm smile as she helped Lemon up.

All of a sudden, six orbs appeared around Aurora. Five behind her, and one in front of her. She was charging up an incredibly powerful magical attack, but she was meditating, trying to put all of her focus into the destructive power of her final attack. Each of the orbs that surrounded her had the Cutie Marks of each of the Shadowbolts and Rainbooms.

"Everyone! Fly into the magical orbs with your marks on it!" Sunset shouted as she took Twilight's hand and flew towards the centremost orb.

"What?!" The rest of the group chorused.

"It's the only way we can end this!" Sunset shouted back as she and Future Twilight dived into their orb.

Complying with Sunset's words, the other Rainbooms and Shadowbolts gradually gained momentum and catapulted each other into their own respective bubbles. As they entered, they were once more taken by the shimmering lights and vanished entirely.

"Wh-what?!" Aurora stopped what she was doing and noticed that her targets had vanished. "Where are you, you weak little ants?! Show yourselves!" She looked around the darkness but saw only a black nothingness.

When Applejack and Sugarcoat readjusted their eyes to the new lights, they saw golden and silver ghosts in front of them. They looked very much like silhouettes of themselves, only without any faces whatsoever.

"Ah'm afraid ah can't be friends with ya right now. Lotta work to be done on the farm," Ghost Applejack said.

"Friendship is nothing more than an illusion designed to keep children happy. It has no real impact on us when we grow up," Ghost Sugarcoat said.

"That's not true in the slightest. Friendship is a wonderful thing to experience." Applejack walked up to her ghostly doppelganger. "You just need to open your heart and embrace it. I did, and look how far it's taken me."

"Your facts might be true to you, but there are times when even the greatest of minds were wrong." Sugarcoat had a conversation with her double. "The sooner you take your head out of those books, learn to loosen up, and make some new friends, the sooner you'll be happy."

"Don't try to feed us your lies. There is no benefit to friendships," Ghost Sugarcoat shot back.

"Yes there is. You're just not seeing it because you're part of Crystal Prep. You jut let yourself become too engrossed in being honest that you've become less of a person than before," the real Sugarcoat said. "If anything—and I don't mean to joke here—you're just a shadow of your former self."

"Ah've really gotta get back to work. Nothing against you two. I've just got a lot of things to do." Ghost Applejack started to walk away.

"You can put it off, can't you?" Applejack grabbed the shoulder of her double as she turned around. "C'mon. Just give it a chance. You'll soon see just how much of a hoot friendship can be."

A quick flash of light shone through the dimension, and the ghosts suddenly glowed a brighter shade than before.

"Hmm. I suppose there's no arguing there," Sugarcoat's ghost said. "I'll give it a shot, but only for your amusement."

"Well. Those trees ain't goin' anywhere, and it's only the morning, so why not?" Ghost Applejack turned back to face her friend.

All of a sudden, the ghosts merged with the bodies of Sugarcoat and Applejack, giving them back their Rainbow Power forms. After this, the girls were yet again taken by the light.

In a similar plane of existence, Sour Sweet and Fluttershy met with the ghosts of their former selves. Fluttershy's was yellow, with Sour Sweet's being pink.

"Why are you still fighting? Is it because you WANT to lose, huh?!" Ghost Sour Sweet started out nice, but then balled her hands into fists.

"Oh my. I'm such a failure... I'm just gonna run away and hide for the rest of my life..." Ghost Fluttershy whispered and started to back away from her human copy.

"There, there... There's no need to feel so down in the dumps, me." Fluttershy walked up to her spectral double and pulled her into a small cuddle. "You're not a failure. You just need to have your talent recognized a bit more. That's all."

"B-but, what if everyone hates me?" the ghost asked.

"They won't. You've got some great ideas. Some wonderful animal friends, and you look really cute." Fluttershy's cuddle soon turned into a full-blown hug. "If anything, everyone would love you—not hate you."

"What a sappy moment. Such a shame that Aurora's still gonna crush you all!" Sour's ghost butted in.

"Hey! You stay away from them!" The real Sour Sweet got up close to her counterpart and raised her fists. "Don't hurt my friend, or I'll make your life a living hell, missy!"

"Yeah, right! How can a bipolar possibly be kind?" The ghost mocked.

"I know, it's an uphill battle, but I'll keep fighting if it means I can make other people happy!" Sour Sweet pushed her fake away. "I'll make sure that everyone's protected from nasty bullies like you! Now get out of my sight and don't you dare threaten me or my friends ever again!"

The same thing that happened in Applejack and Sugarcoat's world happened here, and the ghosts glowed just as bright.

"Whatever. I'm outta here." Ghost Sour Sweet started to fade away into the real Sour's body.

"Thank you so much. I feel much better about myself, and it's all thanks to you..." Ghost Fluttershy melted in her human body's warm embrace.

Sour Sweet and Fluttershy regained their Rainbow Power and disappeared just like the others.

Rainbow Dash and Indigo Zap met with their own ghostly doppelgangers in their dimension. They were both blue, but Indigo's fake was a shade darker than Rainbow's.

"I'm the most awesomest gal in Canterlot High, and everyone knows it!" Ghost Rainbow boasted.

"I'm not giving up until we win the Friendship Games! Just like every other year!" Ghost Indigo raised her fist into the air.

"Hey, kid. There's more to life than just winning some silly sports event." Indigo slowly walked up to the ghost and helped her bring her fist down. "You're getting too overhyped for it. Calm down."

"C'mon, me. Being awesome's cool and all, but there's no need to be boastful about it," said Rainbow to her counterpart. "If anything, saying how awesome you are is only gonna make you lose friends."

"What a loser. You need to take some classes in how to be like me." Ghost Rainbow pointed towards herself.

"You're just worried cause you think we'll lose. Time for a pep rally. Are. We. Gonna. Win?!" Ghost Indigo shouted in her real body's face.

"Geez. Was I always like that?" Indigo asked herself before she confronted the ghost. "No. Not with that attitude! Just calm down and make friends with your enemy. It's better to be buddies with someone than to beat them and rub it in their face. Doesn't that sound cool?"

Another flash happened, and the ghosts glowed like the others.

"Alright. I'm sorry." Rainbow Dash's ghost calmed down. "Can we still be friends?"

"Yeah. I'm sure we can work something out." Rainbow shook hands with her spirit form.

"I'm sorry too. I'm just too excited for the Friendship Games." Indigo's ghost backed away. "We can still be buds like those two, right?"

"Yeah, girl. We can be friends." Indigo also took the hand of her ghost and shook it.

Just like before, the ghosts vanished into Indigo and Rainbow's bodies, giving them back their Rainbow Power forms. They high-fived each other as the light took them away again.

Rarity and Sunny Flare looked at their own ghostly counterparts in their world. One was pure white, and the other was a shade of aqua.

"Hello there. Would you like to place an order for some dresses?" Rarity's ghost asked.

"I have no personality. I'm just another face out in the crowd." Sunny Flare's ghost sighed.

"You're not a nobody. You've just gotta figure out what you can do and commit yourself to it." Sunny Flare walked up to her spirit form and wrapped her arm around the aqua shoulders of the spirit.

"I would love to make an order, but I'm struggling to think of what I could offer you in return." Rarity scratched her chin. "What could I possibly give a ghost?"

"Oh no, darling. You don't have to give me anything. Just a satisfied smile is all I want from you."

"Well, when you put it that way, I suppose I could help your spirit get laid to rest by fulfulling your needs." Rarity walked up to the white form and smiled at her. "I hope you have a happy afterlife."

"What could I possibly do to make myself unique?" Ghost Sunny looked up at her human body.

"Just be yourself. Whatever you want to do, you do it. Nothing's gonna stop you from letting you discover who you want to be." Sunny Flare gently held onto the ghost's hand. "And who knows? Maybe one day, you'll become really famous for what you can do. Maybe you'll find something you never knew you were good at. But whatever happens, don't stop being yourself, dearie."

The flash occured again, and the ghosts shone.

"Thank you ever so much for your generousity, miss. I won't ever forget this." Ghost Rarity disappeared into Rarity;s body.

"And thank you for giving me the confidence to find myself, dearie." Sunny Flare's ghost did the same.

Once Rarity and Sunny Flare had their Rainbow Power back, they disappeared into another stream of light.

In a fifth dimension, Pinkie Pie and Lemon Zest were having dance-offs with their own ghostly counterparts. The moves from each side ranged from perfect splits, to rapid spins, and even an irish riverdance. But both sides were very evenly matched.

"Gotta say. You're pretty good at this." Ghost Lemon Zest panted after a few more minutes of dancing.

"Thanks. You too." Lemon grinned as she turned the music on her headphones up. "But now the real party's just getting started!"

"Then bring it on!" Ghost Pinkie bent her legs and got ready for the next round of dancing.

It was a long and arduous battle between both Pinkies and Lemon Zests. But in the end, Pinkie Pie and Lemon Zest's real bodies were able to out-dance their opponents with a well-composed series of movements that involved them picking each other up and spinning them, with both of them leaping up, doing a somersault, and landing with a kneeslide with their hands straight in the air.

"That was... pretty cool of you..." Ghost Pinkie was breathing heavily when the dancing ended. "You think we can party like that again someday?"

"Any time, me. You've got some real spirit." Pinkie swung her arm. "Get it?"

"Oh... I get it now!" Ghost Pinkie laughed and fell on her butt before she disappeared into Pinkie's body.

Lemon Zest's ghost then got the joke and mimicked what Ghost Pinkie had done before she vanished into Lemon's real body.

They both got their Rainbow Power back like the other Rainbooms and Shadowbolts, high-fived each other, and then disappeared in a fifth flash of light.

Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle saw what looked like their demonic forms, but as ghosts, just like the others. They were the closest things to being real, however, as their faces could be made out clearly.

"I shall conquer Equestria for myself!" Demon Sunset declared.

"This magic! I must understand it! There's so much knowledge for me to gain!" Midnight Sparkle rubbed the plams of her hands together.

"I won't let you rule my home!" Sunset stepped forward and crossed her arms when her gaze met with that of her old self. "You have no right to be here, and I'll make sure you never terrorize anyone ever again!"

"What makes you think you could possibly defeat me?! I have power, and you are a mere mortal!" She raised a claw at Sunset.

"Magic doesn't mean you're guaranteed to win every fight." Twilight spoke to both demons. "And if anything, you won't be able to learn everything from it. There'll always be more to learn with each new discovery you make. And trying to learn everything will just be a waste of time."

"How pitiful, coming from the same girl who WANTED to see what magic could really do!" Midnight got in Twilight's face and grinned maliciously. "Once Aurora wins, you and I shall see for ourselves the true power of magic, as the world ends and is reborn once more!"

"No you won't! If anything, you're just a fear we got over when we were defeated by the Magic of Friendship." Sunset turned her back to her demon self. "A nightmare isn't scary if you have the courage to face it head on, and I know now that I've changed since then. I can be a loyal, trustworthy, and kind-hearted friend to everyone I hurt with my wrongdoings. And I'm certainly not going to be fazed by your petty threats!"

"Sunset's right! I didn't know what I was thinking back then. I was a fool. A stupid, arrogant, and knowledge-hungry fool!" Twilight held Sunset's hand. "But I've forgiven everyone, and they've had the decency to forgive me in return. I'm not afraid of magic anymore. I'm still wondering what it can truly do, but at the same time, I'm not turning into some megalomaniac who's hell-bent on destroying the world to learn all about it!"

After the next flash happened, Demon Sunset and Midnight Sparkle let out cries of anguish and fell to their knees before they vanished in a puff of black smoke. Pure red and purple magic leaked out of their bodies and flew right back into Sunset and Twilight, returning their Rainbow Power last.

Everyone regrouped in the void of darkness with their magic fully restored as they faced down Aurora Borealis once again. She was still charging for her ultimate attack, but the orbs suddenly exploded, causing her to grunt and recoil at each blast.

"Everyone's got their magic back!" Rainbow Dash cheered. "Sunset. You're amazing!"

"Great thinking, Sunset! Not even I could have thought of that!" Sugarcoat shook Sunset's hand.

"Thank you, everyone. But we're not done yet." Sunset looked back at Aurora, who was still getting back into a fighting stance. "There's still one person we need to save."

"Who?" Fluttershy asked.

"I think I already know who..." Twilight smiled as the group slowly drifted forward.

They took a deep breath, and called out the name as loud as they could, "STARLIGHT GLIMMER!"

Aurora was about to attack, but her eyes widened as she felt something deep inside of her change. Her will to destroy was fading, and a conscious was beginning to form. The colour of her eyes suddenly changed into Starlight's eyes before she overdosed herself with the magic from the future.

As she looked down at Sugarcoat and Twilight, a number of images flashed by in her head. First of Twilight leaving Crystal Prep after the Friendship Games, then Sugarcoat turning down her offer to join the Defectors, and then her hanging her head and crying mildly.

"Starlight? Are you there?" Twilight slowly reached out to her friend.

"H-hey! Stay back, Twilight! I don't need anyone anymore!" Aurora's mind was being overridden by Starlight's. She remembered who Twilight was, and what she was trying to say. "The timeline's almost mine! Don't try to stop me!"

"You didn't want to hurt anyone. You just wanted to make sure that we stayed friends. Didn't you?" Sugarcoat reached out herself.

"St-stop it! You're making me feel guilty!" Starlight took full control of Aurora's body and prepared another attack. But instead of dark magic, she launched rainbow-coloured shots at the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts. They all vanished before they even hit their targets.

"You're only making it worse by trying to fight back." Twilight moved in closer. "Please. Just calm down, and we can talk about this like sophisticated Crystal Preppers."

"Twilight. Do you and Sugarcoat know the reason why I'm doing this?" Starlight sighed.

"Yes. You don't want to lose us again after everything that's happened." Sugarcoat nodded. "But wiping out the timeline and resetting everything won't help at all!"

"I know that after everything I've done, you girls won't forgive me for what I've done. So it's better to just put an end to you now and restart everything from the beginning!" Starlight shot another volley of rainbow orbs, but there were a lot less shots, and they all flew past the girls.

"Forgiveness is the only way to end this conflict." Sunset Shimmer held hands with Twilight and Sugarcoat. "If you can forgive yourself, apologize to the people you've hurt, and be forgiven in return, then the fighting can end, and we can work together to make a better future."

"But after me killing your friends, destroying Canterlot High, and ruining everything you've worked so hard to build, I don't deserve to be forgiven. There's no hope for a monster like me." A small tear formed in Starlight's eyes.

"Yes there is. Me and Twilight have both followed the same path as you have. We let magic get to our heads, and it made us do things we're both not proud of. But we've worked so hard to prove that we can get over it; that we can change for the better. And if we can change, then so can you."

As Sunset spoke, the other girls held each others' hands tightly, forming a massive heart that shone bright with Rainbow Power.

"Girls. I'm not ready for this to end. I'm not ready to lose Sugarcoat and Twilight after all that I've done to them and their friends." Starlight sniffled as the tears in her eyes grew bigger. "So PLEASE! Just stop doing this, and LET ME WIN!"

Starlight's hands were now massive balls of rainbow energy that she clapped together, shooting a titanic beam of magic at the girls that only grew bigger and bigger as she focused all of her energy into it.

"Stop it!" Starlight pleaded, the tears in her eyes now starting to stream out. as the laser got bigger and bigger. "STOP IT NOW!" She screamed as Sunset, Twilight, and their friends tried to withstand the force of the beam. "STOP IT RIGHT NOW!"

Eventually, the magic vanished, the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts were still intact, and Starlight Glimmer was crying her eyes out with her hands over her face as she fell to her knees. "Girls." She choked on her own words. "I'm... I'm... I'm..." Before Starlight could finish, a final burst of light consumed them all.

All of a sudden, everyone was back to normal and at Canterlot High. The humans from before the magical outburst were all present and accounted for, and even the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts of the past were alive and well. Starlight was back in her regular clothes, as were the future girls.

"I'm so sorry, everyone." Starlight cried and buried her eyes in her hands. "I've ruined everything, haven't I?"

"No. Starlight." Twilight slowly walked up to her and gently patted her on the shoulders. "I understand how bad you must've been when I left Crystal Prep for Canterlot High. But you should know that I would've never broken ties with you."

"What good is it now, though? I've almost destroyed everything and everyone. I don't deserve to be pitied..." Starlight resumed her crying.

"Starlight. We're friends. That's all that you need to know." Sugarcoat helped Starlight stand up by giving her a small cuddle. "If you felt lonely, you could've just talked to us. We might be miles apart, but that doesn't mean that we're not friends anymore."

"You could've just called us, and we would've been there for you in a heartbeat." Twilight gave Starlight a hug. "I'm sorry for everything that's happened as well. If I'd known you felt that strongly about my departure, I would've been sure to visit you every now and again."

"R-really?" Starlight's tears slowed down, but were still falling from her eyes.

"Yes. We've both made you feel miserable, Starlight. Some friends we are, huh?" Sugarcoat sighed wearily. "But no more. We're never going to leave your side again. No matter what happens, you'll never have to be lonely again. We'll be best friends forever."

"Do you promise?" Starlight whined gently.

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." Sugarcoat and Twilight both recited the Pinkie Promise perfectly with the hand gestures before Starlight returned the hug.

"Thank you. Thank you so much, girls." Starlight's crying finally stopped as she hugged Sugarcoat and Twilight as tight as she could. After so much heartache, pain, and suffering, she had finally reunited with her friends.

"You know. It's funny, really. Everything that I did, I always thought that Canterlot High were nothing more than easy pickings at the Friendship Games." Starlight pulled herself out of the hug and gave a speech to both of the schools. "But after everything that the thirteen of us have done in the future, I can see now that CHS aren't that bad. They're kind, considerate, loyal, generous, and happy with the life they've been given. So what if they're not priviledged like us? That doesn't give us the right to walk all over them like they're dirt.

"We Crystal Preppers have always been so stubborn with everything we've been given, that we never really found the time to appreciate just how marvellous a thing like friendship could be. We were always too engrossed in our studies, too focused into winning, and far too busy with other stuff in the past to even remotely consider the prospect. And now, we've done worse. We've threatened people with our talk of winning, and nearly destroyed ourselves because of it.

"The Magic of Friendship isn't something that six girls can just hog, yes. But at the same time, it shouldn't be used to destroy the world as we know it. Instead, it should be used to make our world a better place; one where everyone can get along, help each other out, and make each other happy with all of the new bonds we make." Starlight stepped forward and put her hand to her chest. "With all of the magic that I've acquired, I've been abusing my power for too long now, and I think it's time that I step down and give someone else a chance in the limelight. There's some real talent from both CHS and CPA, but there's no need to fight over who's better. That's not what the Friendship Games are about. They're about fidelity, good sportsmanship, and kindness to other people. That was how it started, but we just lost our way over time.

"But no more." She looked back at Sunset and the Rainbooms. "What do you think, girls? Should I share the magic with everyone?"

"At first, I would've said no, but after such a heartwarming speech, I'd love to see what the world looks like when everyone can Pony-Up now..." Sunset gave a light smile.

"I'm in as well." Rarity nodded.

"Me too," Applejack added.

"Me three!" Rainbow shouted.

"Me four!" said Pinkie.

"I suppose it would be nice..." Fluttershy whispered.

"Go for it, Starlight!" The Shadowbolts gave her their thumbs up.

"Well then. It's unanimous." Starlight stepped between both sides and shone a radiant shade of pink. "It's time to level the playing field. For real this time!" She floated into the air, still shining bright.

Starlight reached out with her arms and legs, and a series of rainbow pulses emanated from her. Each one coming faster than the last. As the magic streamed out of her body, a rainbow-coloured pillar of light emanated from her and the marks of everyone from Canterlot High and Crystal Prep could be seen as she went higher and higher.

With one final thrust of her arms, the magic expanded across the school, enveloping everyone in its' glow and giving them unicorn horns, pegasus wings, pony ears, tails, and hair extensions. It then went on to take the rest of the world in its' radiance before a blast of light made the magic disperse across all the corners of the planet.

Author's Notes:

There is still an epilogue to come after this, so stay tuned for that.

But first and foremost, I want to thank all of you who read this story to the very end. Your undying support and praise is all that I need to keep going with my fanfictions, to make myself a better writer.

Also, I'm sorry for all of the repetition used in this final chapter, but with actions scenes like this, you have a very limited vocabulary sometimes.

Either way, I hope you all enjoyed it, and I'll see you next time with another story.



When the light died down, Starlight Glimmer graciously landed on her feet and lowered her arms. She looked at how everyone had sprouted their wings, horns, tails, and ears before she turned back towards the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts of the future.

"There," she said. "Now that everyone has magic, there's no need to fight over it. We're all equal now."

"That's what we really wanted back then. To have the same advantage as Sunset and her friends." Sunny Flare smiled as she examined everyone feeling their new appendages. "Now that both teams are the same, the Games can proceed as normal, and there's no need for any more hostility."

"Yes. But what of the future where we came from?" Sugarcoat readjusted her glasses.

"Huh?" Everyone else asked.

"Think about it. Cinch was what caused the Defectors to rise up and hurt the students of CPA. If this battle sways her mind, then the future we came from no longer exists. And in that sense, we shouldn't even exist either."

"Are you saying that we'll die?" Fluttershy hid behind Applejack and hugged her tight.

"Not exactly." Twilight walked over and gently patted Fluttershy's shoulders. "We'll simply fade away forever. We won't die. We'll still live on, but not like this. Our past selves will carry on with our own lives instead.

"How long do you think it'll be before we have to go?" Sunset Shimmer asked.

"I'd say we have plenty of time to say our last goodbyes to everyone." Starlight Glimmer looked back at the two crowds. "Thirty minutes should be enough before we disappear forever. So, if you want to tell your past selves to change, Shadowbolts, now might be the time, before they forget that this ever happened." She turned towards Sunset and her friends. "Same goes for you, CHS girls. If you want to give yourselves some parting words, feel free."

When Starlight finished, the Rainbooms and Shadowbolts split up and walked off to their schools. Sunset led her group while Sugarcoat and Twilight handled theirs.

"Hey, everyone." Rainbow Dash stepped towards the CHS students. "Now, I know that this whole magic deal's been strange to deal with, but you've gotta remember to keep your chins up in the future. I've been an awesome girl for a long time now, but given everything that's happened for me and my friends, I think it's safe to say that my time in the spotlight's come to a close. Now's the time for some new talent to take the stage, even if it is just a past copy of myself." She stepped forward and laid a hand on Past Rainbow Dash's chest. "Hey, me? Make sure you never forget about your friends. You might be radical, but you should never put that attitude before them. Loyalty's been a pretty big thing for me, and I'm trusting you to make sure that you keep Sunset and her friends safe from danger, and that you keep on being a cool friend to them, kay?"

"Hey. I'm no scientist, but shouldn't this technically be a time paradox?" Past Rainbow raised an eyebrow.

"No. The future we come from is starting to disappear, as is everything past the Friendship Games," Sunset explained. "Almost nothing exists, and once the Games come to a close, the different outcome will retcon what's already been set in stone with a better future. A paradox doesn't work if the future copy is already going to disappear anyway."

"English, Sunset?" both Rainbow Dashes said together.

"It'll be fine. You can touch, talk to, and do whatever you want to each other. It won't affect either of you at all." Sunset chuckled.

"Oh. Well, thanks for the speech there, me." Past Rainbow gave Future Rainbow a pat on the back. "I won't let you down."

"For your sake, I hope you keep that promise." Future Rainbow gave her past self a handshake.

Sunset Shimmer came up to her past copy and looked her in the eyes. Giving her a smile, she said, "You've got some great friends, a great future, and a lot more to look forward to in your future. I'm not exactly sure what it'll be, since I'm disappearing, but as long as you believe in your friends, and they believe in you, you're gonna have a great life."

"Thanks, but if I may, can I ask you something?" Past Sunset tipped her hand. "If you're from the future, did you figure out how magic works yet?"

"Yes, I did. It's a weird thing really, but the magic in this world tends to evolve overtime when we're seeded by it. First it came out purely because Twilight was with us; then it was by playing musical instruments; and now it shows up whenever we show off the truest part of ourselves, like Applejack's honesty or Rarity's generousity," she said. "And now that everyone has this magic, I hope that the new world is full of new friends, new discoveries, and lots of new adventures."

"I hope so too." Past Sunset cracked a smile, then held out her arm for a handshake. "It was nice to meet you."

"You too." Sunset returned the gesture before she went back to see how the rest of the Rainbooms were doing talking to their past selves.

Over on the other side, Starlight Glimmer, Sugarcoat, Twilight, and the other Shadowbolts were giving their last words to their past selves and to the rest of their school.

"Past Twilight?" Future Twilight came up to her. "I want you to know that no matter what you decide; whether you choose to come to CHS, or stay at Crystal Prep, don't forget about Starlight. She's one of your BFFs, and I hope you don't end up breaking her heart." She then took the locket that had been draped around her neck and smashed it on the ground. "No need for that silly thing, either. You've got your own magic, and you can freely study what you can do with it. Heck, you could even learn from the other kids at your school, now that they'll be flying or using their own spells."

"Are you sure?" Past Twilight coiled some of her hair around her fingers. "I almost ended up doing something I could've regretted back there if Future Starlight hadn't come in and became that magical deity."

"Having magic is a great thing, but there's no need to rip apart everything that gets in your way in your pursuit of knowledge. Instead, you should write your findings out in a book of your own, and publish what you've learned so that hopefully, many other amazing people will follow in your footsteps." Future Twilight held her past self's hand. "And who knows? You might end up learning more than anything that this human world could ever teach you."

"Thank you, future me." Past Twilight almost teared up at that sentence. "I'll keep that in mind."

"So, about what you showed us back in that other dimension..." Cinch stepped up to Future Sugarcoat with her hands gently folded. "Is it true? Will I really lash out and be ruined for it?"

"Yes. But now you have a choice to make, Abacus." Sugarcoat held out her arms like a scale to emphasize the decision. "You can choose to remain defiant about everything, cause your downfall, get fired, and allow the future to proceed as normal; or you can choose to accept us as equals now that literally everyone has magic now. That way, you keep your job, your reputation, and maybe even your winning streak as we do the final event for real."

"I must admit that I've been a fool." Cinch hung her head and sighed. She barely noticed the horn that she had grown. "I became so obsessed with victory, that I became ruthless, and unjust. I did some things that I myself am not too proud of. I forced others to compete for my honour, when in reality, I should have taken Twilight's feelings into account. If I'd known my actions would cause me to get fired and to then serve a prison sentence, I would have stopped immediately and acted like a true samaritan." She raised her head. "Still, the field has been balanced, so there's no reason to accuse anyone anymore. It shouldn't be me who decides the winner of the Friendship Games. It should rather be the students themselves with how they push and devote themselves to the game. And if CHS have some underdog players this year, who am I to judge? If anything, it makes the game much more exciting, now that I think about it. So I shall allow everything to proceed as normal."

"That's good to hear!" Indigo Zap cheered. "It's much better to play fairly than to be mean to our rivals. And it'll be far better getting to know them all when the Games are over."

"Guess that sets the future of this world in stone now." Starlight brought the other Shadowbolts into a huddle. "You girls might want to say goodbye to everyone before the timeline re-adjusts itself and the world changes. I think your past selves would love to hear what you have to say to send them off."

"Yes. I have to agree," Sunny Flare said. "If the versions of us in the past don't change, then the future wouldn't be pleasant for any of us."

Once everyone else nodded, the Shadowbolts walked up to their past selves and stood in line so that they were each facing their own doubles.

"So, that whole friendship thing really works?" Past Indigo Zap asked.

"Yep. If it weren't for Sunset and her friends, we wouldn't be who we are today." Future Indigo Zap put her hands by her sides. "Sugarcoat would never have learned to open up and accept friends again; Sunny Flare would've remained another stranger in the crowds of CPA; Lemon Zest would still be considered an outcast with how much she loves to rave; Sour Sweet would've still had problems with her bipolar syndrome; and I would've still been a stuck-up, boasting idiot." She used each of her fingers on her right hand for each of her group. "The point is, friendship is a wonderful thing, and if you don't learn to open your hearts to new experiences and other people, then your life just ends up becoming boring, y'know? It's better to have lots of friends and for life to be radical, rather than it be the same thing each and every day."

"I must agree with the Future Indigo that won't exist anymore. Variety is the spice of life, and if we don't change ourselves, then what good are we?" Past Sugarcoat cracked a small smile. "If I can change my personality in the future, then I can change anything about myself once the Friendship Games conclude."

"Eloquently put as always. I expected nothing less from my past self." Sugarcoat said. "But no matter how much we change, as long as you remember who you truly are, and don't forget about yourself along the way, then you truly stand out as a person."

"So, do you still have trouble controlling your emotions? Or have you finally chosen to be a goody-two shoes?" Sour Sweet asked her future self.

"I do still have the occasional blip every now and again, but if it weren't for Fluttershy and the Rainbooms of Canterlot High, I would've remained a bipolar bully forever." Future Sour smiled, and it persisted when she pointed towards Fluttershy. "She's got a bright future ahead of her, and she's the most kind person I've ever seen. I've always judged people on what they do, and that girl over there's a true example that I should learn to control myself and my emotions better."

"Really? No kidding?" Past Sour's eyes widened.

"Trust me, me. When the Friendship Games finish this year, go up to Fluttershy and ask her to be your friend. If you still have issues with your split personality, just take a deep breath and tell her. She'll be glad to help you out." Future Sour gently put her hands on her past self's shoulders. "I've gone at least a few days without having my little fits because of her, and I've slowly but surely been getting better and better at controlling myself."

"I'll keep that in mind," Past Sour said. "You'd better not be lying to me, though..."

Sunny Flare approached her double and took her hand. "I know it must be quite hard having no-one at CPA who appreciates your will to make the school a happier place, but you shouldn't have fallen in line with the other students just because you weren't getting through to them."

"What good will that do now?" Past Sunny Flare asked "Everything will just be the same as it was before the Friendship Games, albeit with a lot more magic than before."

"Just be yourself. Do what you want to do. Don't be a sheep. Have your own ideals, get more engrossed in your gardening, just be Sunny Flare, not a Crystal Prep student." Future Sunny gave her a small hug. "I'm so sorry that you had to go through a whole term of being a nobody with no unique traits."

"Why are you pitying me? Aren't you technically my future self?" Past Sunny pulled herself out of the hug.

"Yes, but I'm the only version of you who knew that I was a fool for abandoning my true self just before the Friendship Games." Future Sunny hung her head. "If it hadn't been for Sunset Shimmer and the Rainbooms, I would've still been like the rest of the school. Boring, emotionless, and downright selfish.

"My time is up, but yours won't be for ages, past me. You've still got time to change, go back to being the Sunny Flare you've wanted to be, but couldn't show because you were too busy at Crystal Prep with the rest of the students." Future Sunny began to cry. "And please, just make sure that as time goes on, you learn to accept the CHS students as your friends—not your enemies."

"Well, given everything that's just happened, and with what Starlight did and said, I don't think there's anything I can say to counter that..." Past Sunny Flare mulled about for a bit before she too smiled. "I'll be sure to take your words with a grain of salt."

"Thank you. That's all I really wanted to say." Future Sunny was still crying, but she too cracked a smile.

"So, you're from the future?" Past Lemon Zest asked.

"Yep. Still got the same playlist as you, though. With the addition of some of the Rainbooms' songs." Future Lemon Zest handed her past self her headphones. "Here. You can take them. I won't be needing them anymore, since I'm gonna vanish in a few more minutes. But you still need to keep rocking on even when I'm long gone, OK?"

"Sure thing." Past Lemon Zest slipped the new pair of headphones on and hit the play button on the outside of one of the speakers. As the song blasted out into her ears, her smile grew wider and she threw herself into her future dopperganger, giving her a big hug. "Thank you so much, me! I'll be sure to take good care of them!"

"I hope so." Future Lemon Zest tousled the hair of her past self. She waited until the past copy took them off again and said, "and make sure you remember what the other future uses said. Change for the better, be unique, and make some friends with the CHS students. They deserve it."

Lemon gave her future self a thumbs up before the Shadowbolts went off with Starlight Glimmer to meet up with the Rainbooms again.

"So, everyone. Are you done with saying goodbye to everyone?" Starlight asked. "Once you say yes, I'll accelerate the timeline's recreation with what little bit of Aurora's power I have left, and your journey will really be over."

"I think we got the point across pretty well." Indigo Zap crossed her arms. "With any luck, everything will be just swell."

"No matter what happens, I'll be sure to contact you whenever you need me, Starlight." Twilight put a hand on Starlight's shoulders. "I've handed the message to past me, and she's taken it to heart." She looked back and saw Past Twilight already use her magic to levitate some nearby stones. "Along with a few other things..."

"Guess it's time then." Starlight stepped forward between the two schools again. "It's time to close this chapter of the book forever."

"Hopefully, now that everyone has magic, they'll make the world a better place." Sunset Shimmer joined Starlight, as did the other Rainbooms. "With the Magic of Friendship and everyone's hopes and dreams combined, everything will be perfectly fine."

"It's just a shame we won't be able to see it." Fluttershy sighed and hung her head.

"Oh we will, our past selves are us, and they won't be going away. They'll see the magic-filled world with their own eyes." Sugarcoat gave Fluttershy a warm smile. "I'm sure that we'll be seeing a lot of things soon."

"The Magic of Friendship will always be in our hearts, and in the hearts of everyone who believes." Sunset Shimmer took one last look around at the Canterlot High and Crystal Prep students as she and the others from the future were lifted into the air by a white glow. "As long as they keep their friends close, they'll never have to worry. They can surpass any obstacle, win any battle, and do anything they want."

"Thank you. Thank you, everyone. And good luck in the Friendship Games," Starlight said as she and her entourage were carried higher and higher into the air.

Suddenly, the magic around the future humans got brighter and brighter, almost to the point where it was blinding. With one more great flash of light, the thirteen girls were all consumed in a bright white pillar of light, ascending into the stratosphere.

Once they were past the clouds, they all started to fade away, holding each other's hands and bringing themselves into one last group hug as their legs vanished, then their bodies. One by one, the girls vanished away, with Sunset, Twilight, Sugarcoat, and Starlight being the last ones to disappear. They smiled at each other before the light took them entirely.

"Thank you, Sunset. Thank you for everything," said Twilight as they all disappeared.

Later, after the Games had drawn to a close, the Wondercolts and Shadowbolts of both schools were talking to each other about what had happened. However, unlike before, they were glad to be talking to each other, instead of having their old rivalry. More so, they were interested in showing off what they could do when they could fly or use their new horns.

Sunset Shimmer walked up to Twilight, who was standing by the front door of Canterlot High. "Hey. About what I said earlier? I'm sorry." She hung her head and sighed. "I was just stressed out about this whole magic thing that I didn't take your feelings into account."

"Oh, it's fine, Sunset. The Games are over now, and everyone's got this magic stuff now." Twilight turned to face her. "If anything, I'd say it's water under the bridge now."

"I agree, but now you've gotta make one of the biggest choices of your life." Sunset put a hand on Twilight's shoulder. "You can choose to stay at Crystal Prep, be there for Starlight and Sugarcoat, and graduate with maximum honours; or you could come to CHS, learn more about friendship, and have a real group of friends."

"It's a nice offer, Sunset." Twilight looked back at Sunset and took her hand off of her. "But I'm afraid I can't. Starlight Glimmer and Sugarcoat were my BFFs, and I can't just abandon them after the Games, especially not after what just happened back there with those future girls."

"I completely understand." Sunset gave her a small hug. "It's been nice knowing you, Twilight. I hope we can see each other again soon."

"Aww, me too, Sunset." Twilight returned the favour. "Your friends sound really nice too, and I hope that we can all be friends together some day."

"I'd like that too." Sunset leaned up to her ear and whispered. "Goodbye, Twilight."

"Bye, Sunset." Twilight whispered back before the two of them broke up and went back to their own respective groups of classmates.

"So you girls really like this Magic of Friendship stuff, huh?" Sunny Flare asked the Rainbooms.

"Yep!" Pinkie Pie smiled. "The magic we had made us all super-shiny when we used it before. And now it'll make you and your friends super-shiny too!"

"What do you mean by that?" Sugarcoat raised her left eyebrow.

"What Pinkie Pie's trying to say is that our magic has a special... property as it were," Rarity began to explain. "From honesty, loyalty, laughter, generousity, and kindness, we can use this rainbow-magic to defeat the forces of evil," she sighed. "Sorry. I just sound like an old woman, don't I?"

"Nah. If anything, I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do in your hands." Indigo patted Rarity's back.

"Ooh! We should be friends!" Lemon Zest blurted out. "We can share numbers, meet in the park, get ice cream together, it'll be fun! What do you say, girls?"

"At first, I would've said no, but after that crazy battle between Starlight and those future versions of us, I'd be happy to be friends with you." Rainbow Dash put her hand out in the middle of the group.

"A pleasure." Rarity put her hand on Rainbow's.

"I'd like that." Fluttershy did so as well.

"Me too!" Pinkie added.

"Might be nice to see some new faces on the farm." Applejack's hand was next.

The Rainbooms all waited for the Shadowbolts to put their hands on as well. After a few seconds of thinking, they saw the uniformed girls all sprout their own smiles as they put their hands on top of the Rainbooms' hands.

"I'm looking forward to making friends with all of you," Sugarcoat smiled.

"I agree. This whole friendship thing is going to be totally awesome. Especially with you girls." Indigo nodded.

All ten girls threw their arms up into the air and began to trade their phone numbers with each other so that they could stay in touch. After that was all done, they all began to talk to each other about what they liked to do together, and what they could now do together as friends. They all smiled and laughed the whole way through.

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