Migration 17.8: The Sound of Rain

Source material: Worm, Migration 17.8

Blogged: March 30-31, 2020


Alright, back to Worm!

As I learned from Sharks last time, Arc 17 isn’t over yet, and it looks like this is not an Interlude either. Though to be fair, I suppose it’d be a little redundant for an Arc that already departs from the usual POV character to have an Interlude, defined by departing from the POV character.

So I guess this time we’re taking a closer look at that weird eye embedded in Noelle’s thigh, and how to deal with that? There might be some blame thrown at Krouse, beyond the accusatory stare from Noelle’s theye. Cody in particular is still a loaded gun and a loose end all in one, so maybe he sees this as the final straw?

One way to find out. Let’s do this thing!


“Fluttershy, you almost ready?”

Fluttershy groaned in response.

Flutterwho?

Sunset stood up from the couch where she’d been waiting and walked into the bedroom. Fluttershy was lying on the bed half dressed. Even though they were at risk of running late, Sunset climbed into bed with her. “Still not feeling well?”

“No…”

I mean, if I didn’t know all the Travelers’ future cape names (except Cody’s), I’d be thinking… actually, maybe these are their cape names, and they just ended up changing them later? I could see Noelle going by Fluttershy and Marissa by Sunset.

Sunset kicked her shoes off, then gently cuddled around Fluttershy. She slowly traced her fingers around her exposed stomach and addressed their daughter. “Come on, Sky, take it easy on your poor mama…”

…oh. They’re definitely not Noelle and Marissa. I guess spending all this time in Krouse’s perspective doesn’t mean the Arc has to be all from his perspective.

So I guess Sunset is Fluttershy’s boyfriend or husband– wait, her shoes. Huh.

As if in answer, Sunset felt a small movement. It made her spirits soar, but she kept that from showing since Fluttershy was feeling so miserable.

I’ve heard pregnancy can be a bitch.

I wouldn’t know first hand, and honestly? I’m glad.

“I just can’t wait for this to be over with…” Fluttershy grumbled. She placed her hand on Sunset’s and softened her tone to add, “For more than one reason.”

There are a few ways to expedite that, but they have a fairly big side effect.

“Yeah, me too.” Sunset took a deep breath, enjoying the content feeling of lying with Fluttershy for a few moments longer than she knew was wise. She had to get to work and Fluttershy had to get to school, but the sense of peace she felt was too good to disturb.

Of course, it would be better if Fluttershy was feeling better. It was nothing to worry about, just pregnancy hormones making her feel bad, but naturally that was only so much comfort when she was feeling sick.

Work for Sunset, school for Fluttershy. I guess they’re in what, their late teens, early twenties?

I wonder how this is all going to connect back to the rest of the Arc. Is the Simurgh going to fuck things up for them?

“Maybe you should stay home today,” Sunset suggested, aware that they were running out of time.

“No, I can go.” Fluttershy sat up, so Sunset did as well. “Can you pass me my clothes?”

Aw, Sunset wants it to last, even though they both have to go. That and she’s clearly concerned about her girlfriend. I think I like these two so far.

(How did the baby get there? I know there are options, just wondering which one they used.)

Sunset did as she was asked, handing clothes to Fluttershy then putting her shoes back on while Fluttershy got dressed. Although Fluttershy moved a little slower than usual, she still got herself ready to go quick enough.

“How do I look?” Fluttershy asked once she was dressed and off the bed.

Like a pregnant girl with an unusual name. It really seems like Sunset and Fluttershy are their civilian names. Leave it to Wildbow to pick uncommon names for his characters, I suppose.

Yet they feel strangely familiar. Hm.

Sunset grinned and stepped closer, pulling Fluttershy into a kiss. “Beautiful.”

Fluttershy managed a smile at the compliment. “I love you, Sunny. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Sunset shrugged. “Get your own clothes instead of having them handed to you? Doesn’t seem like that big of a loss to me.”

They’re cute together.

So do I know these characters under cape names from later on in their lives? I don’t recall any explicit lesbians I don’t already know the civilian identities of, but there are plenty of women who could be lesbians named Sunset or Fluttershy.

Fluttershy shook her head and hugged Sunset. “You wouldn’t say that if you were in my position. Some days, that’s a lot more than it sounds like.”

The good characters living, if not in poverty, then at least in the working class seems… on-brand.

“Yeah, I know.” Sunset kissed the top of Fluttershy’s head. “Sure you wanna go to school? I’m sure you can make it up if you miss it.”

“Sunny, it’s the final exam. I’ve got to go.”

That does seem rather important.

“Yeah, I suppose that’s true. Well, you ready to get heading out then?”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

They left the bedroom, but Sunset hesitated before heading out the front door. “Think you could get a little something to eat on the way?”

…I should probably take a little eating break too.

Sunset frowned. “Okay, but I’m grabbing you a granola bar. Maybe if you start feeling a bit better you can eat it later.”

Fluttershy waited by the door while Sunset grabbed the snack. “We’ll see. Thanks, Sunny.”

“No problem.”

Once Fluttershy had her granola bar tucked away in her purse, they left the house. As soon as they were in the car and she was buckled up, Fluttershy was leaning against the window looking miserable.

That granola bar is probably far healthier than most of the stuff I eat, in the long run.

Sunset considered trying to get her to stay home again, but she knew that Fluttershy had a point about final exams. It would be harder to make up, and she would only be further along in her pregnancy by the time she had the chance. Besides, once all her exams were out of the way, she wouldn’t have to worry about school again until after Sky was born.

That sounds like a nice long-term plan. This world doesn’t like nice long-term plans, only sinister long-term plans.

Since Fluttershy wasn’t much in the mood for talking, Sunset just let the radio play as she drove to her school. They were already running a bit late and she was wary of some dark clouds in the distance, but she was able to drive fast enough to make up the time and reach the school before it started raining.

Dark clouds in the distance. Now that’s ominous.

Rain, huh… maybe it’s Leviathan who’ll fuck things up here?

“Go kick ass in there, Shy!” Sunset said as she dropped her off.

Fluttershy leaned down as she was out, smiling at Sunset through the open door. “Language, Sunny.”

Sunset grinned. “What? It’s a special occasion! Ass kicking is appropriate today!”

Hah, it sure is!

Fluttershy laughed and shook her head. “Alright, I guess it’s okay this time. Now hurry to work before you’re late.”

“Wait, you’re forgetting something.”

Fluttershy cocked her head to the side. “I am?”

“Yeah, come here.”

Fluttershy half crawled back into the car, so Sunset leaned closer and kissed her. “There, now you’re really ready to kick ass!”

I love these dorks already.

Fluttershy giggled. “Okay okay. Now get going!”

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Fluttershy climbed out of the car and closed the door. She stepped away and waved, then walked into school. Sunset smiled until she saw Fluttershy pause and look unsteady on her feet, but then she was walking back towards the school again.

Li’l wobbly there.

She knew Fluttershy was fine, that it was just hormones and she’d be okay in a bit, but she still hated to see her girlfriend like that. Not that there was anything she could do now. And anyway, Fluttershy was capable of taking care of herself for the day, so Sunset shifted back into drive and exited the parking lot.

Well, that’s a big ol’ death/injury flag if we have an Endbringer incoming. Wildbow has been known to defy death flags before, though.

Along the way to her job, the rain started. Just a bit, nowhere near enough to make it hard to see. Maybe it would even be a good thing; if the rain kept up while she was at work, it would deter customers and make her day that much easier.

Last time we saw Leviathan, the rain started very shortly before he arrived, so it’s kind of interesting that it’s starting gradually in the middle of an action that easily takes at least a few minutes depending on the distance.

Even if it’s not Leviathan, though, gradually starting rain is usually a very bad omen in fiction. It speaks of an oncoming storm.

And maybe soon, she wouldn’t have to deal with customers so much at all. They were still short one manager, and Golden Lucre would be making his decision about Sunset’s promotion any day.

Golden Lucre… another interesting name. Kind of reminds me of the names of the talking horses from Interlude 11d. It was definitely mentioned that Sunset had fingers, thought, so I don’t think we’re in that dimension.

Then again, that dimension had a griffon and at least three types of talking horses, so who knows, maybe they have humans too. Out of all the names in this chapter, Sunset is the one that seems most like a real human name to me, aside from Sky. (I mean no offense to any Fluttershies or Goldens out there.)

…if that’s how this works I do kinda hope Fluttershy is a human too. *looks back* Oh thank cod, her hand was mentioned.

He had to, waiting much longer was only making scheduling more difficult, and then there was still training before Sunset could be expected to manage the store on her own. The sooner he promoted her, the sooner the store could get back to its standard operation.

I guess they’re short a manager in the meantime, then?

Sunset was optimistic about her chances. There was hardly anyone else going for the position, and she had more experience than any of them. Not to mention that for the past four months, ever since they’d found out Fluttershy was pregnant, Sunset had gone above and beyond giving her all at work.

Seems like a motivator!

Which meant arriving on time every day, and despite the setbacks, today was no exception. The clock reported that she had five minutes before her shift started when she arrived, giving her plenty of time to get inside and punch in.

I usually show up 7-15 minutes ahead of the official start of the shift, myself.

The rain was just starting to pick up, so Sunset ran to the store. The air conditioning felt colder than usual due to being wet, but she ignored that as she made her way to the office.

The time clock was just outside the office in a small hallway. Sunset usually didn’t have any reason to go into the office, but she put on a friendly smile and popped her head into the open door anyway.

Might as well, right?

All she had wanted to do was greet Golden Lucre if he was there. It was good to remind him that she existed and present herself as the type of friendly person that would be perfect for store management. But then as she looked into the room, she completely froze in place.

Looks like we’ve hit the first turning point. What’s up, Sunset?

Golden Lucre was there, but he wasn’t alone. Standing beside him was a woman close to Sunset’s age, and she was wearing a manager’s uniform. She had pink skin and blue strands in her light yellow hair, and as soon as she turned to Sunset, both of them matched each other’s speechless expressions.

Hello. I like your hair.

Pink skin is pretty normal, to the point where explicitly mentioning it like that is… an interesting choice.

In his usual manner, Lucre seemed unaware or disinterested in the obvious awkwardness present in the room. “Ah, good morning, Sunset. Afraid we’ve decided to hire someone with a bit more managerial experience for the position. Don’t worry though, I’m sure your time is coming soon enough.”

Well, fuck.

Sunset wasn’t sure which of the two of them she wanted to yell at more. In the end, she barely held it together enough to give a half hearted reply. “Oh, alright then.”

Nice poker face.

Sugar Breeze composed herself before Sunset could and walked across the room. “We’ve actually met before.” She seemed to be studying Sunset closely as she held out her hand. “Hello, Sunset. It’s been a long time.”

‘It could stand to be much longer,’ Sunset thought bitterly, but she smiled as she shook Sugar’s hand. “Yeah, never would’ve thought I’d run into you again.”

Ooh, there’s history.

Whatever Sugar was looking for, she seemed to find it. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she gripped Sunset’s hand tightly, although with her back to Lucre, Sunset was sure he didn’t notice. “I have to say I feel the same.”

Oof. She read your thoughts.

Sunset knew she wasn’t just talking about the surprise appearance. Neither of them ever wanted to see the other again, that much was obvious. But since Sunset’s back wasn’t turned towards Lucre, all she could do was maintain a friendly smile.

“Well, I better get to work,” Sunset said as she stepped away from the two of them. For once she was looking forward to dealing with customers, if only because that would be better than dealing with Lucre and Sugar Fucking Breeze.

With all the strange names around here, Fucking could very easily be her real middle name.

If they said anything else to or about her on the way out, Sunset didn’t hear it. She barely heard or noticed anything as she walked back through the store. She didn’t even so much as look at the registers, where she was supposed to be going, walking right past them.

She hadn’t planned to go to the bathrooms, but that was where she wound up. She walked straight for one the stalls, slamming the door shut behind her, and she screamed.

MaxthonSnap20200330010635

[El Goonish Shive panel]

Diane: Seriously, what kind of girl doesn’t check the bathroom in this kind of situation?
Ellen: Um…
Diane: Here, take her already. I have my own cute and needy friend to attend to.
Rhoda: …I’m not needy…
Diane: Of course you’re not, pup.

After a moment, a voice came from another stall. “Uh… are you –”

“Fuck off!”

There was another moment’s pause, then someone flushed a toilet and left without bothering to wash their hands.

Sounds like someone whose support you wouldn’t want anyway, if they don’t prioritize their hand hygiene over fucking off.

You don’t want to be supported by unwashed hands.

Sunset wanted to scream again, but she gritted her teeth and held it inside. How dare he? After everything Sunset had done for this store, how dare he hire someone else instead of promoting her? He couldn’t even admit it was his decision when he literally owned the store – he had said ‘we decided’ as if there was some high council that had convened to determine Sunset’s fate.

Hypocritical and untrustworthy figures of authority everywhere. Yeah, that’s Worm.

Turns out the “we” is Cauldron.

Little by little, Sunset’s senses started returning to her. But instead of leaving the bathroom, she just leaned against the stall wall and pulled out her phone. She flipped through her text messages until she found Flash.

‘Just letting you know your uncle’s the world’s biggest dick’

She shoved her phone back into her pocket and folded her arms. She wasn’t even sure why she texted Flash, it wasn’t like he could do anything.

There’s value in venting.

Several minutes ticked by while Sunset did nothing. Objectively she was trying to calm down, but she knew that would be impossible. There was nothing calm about this situation, Lucre had betrayed her and he had, of all fucking people, used Sugar Breeze to do it. And sure, Sugar didn’t know she was getting in Sunset’s way when she took the job, but that look of hers had been confirmation – their past would keep them from ever being anything other than enemies.

I wonder if an elaboration on that past would help me figure out what these characters have to do with the rest of the story.

It was enough to make Sunset want to walk out of the store right there and then. To hell with it, let them figure out what to do without her. But… she had a family now, and as shitty as her cashier’s paycheck was, they needed it desperately.

So with nothing else to do, Sunset sucked it up and walked back into the store.

Motivation! Do it for Sky!

The day did not improve. Throughout Sunset’s shift, she watched as Sugar Breeze pranced around the store, learning how to do all kinds of shit Sunset had known about for years. Lucre had wanted someone with more experience? What, more experience being a suck up bitch? Because Sugar sure as fuck didn’t have much else on Sunset.

Yeah, it sure doesn’t sound like she has more experience.

“pranced”… cod dammit Krixwell, they’re not horses, “pranced” is a word used about humans too, get it together

Although the two of them didn’t speak again, Sunset definitely caught Sugar Breeze looking her way a few times. And judging from her expression, she did not have high opinions of what she saw.

All day long, Sunset exchanged glares with Sugar. No doubt her foul mood bled into everything else she did as well. Not that she really cared much; she may need her job, but after what Lucre had done, she would be damned if she was going to fight for it.

Probably not a healthy outlook at your source of necessary income, but very understandable.

The day passed painfully slowly. By the time it was over, Sunset felt like she might scream at the next person to speak with her. As such, she didn’t speak to anyone on her way out.

She frowned as she looked out the door. The rain was pouring down outside, and she’d need to cross the parking lot. She thought about buying an umbrella before she left, but that would mean talking to a coworker and giving Lucre more business.

There’s a certain pettiness to Sunset, but I like it. Lucre isn’t going to notice that she doesn’t buy an umbrella from him, but it matters to Sunset to not support him. This is pretty much how I feel about Apple.

She then thought about stealing an umbrella before she left, but decided it would be too big to get away with.

Still would be nice to have an umbrella though.

But the rain was better than the store, so she stepped out into it. She hunched her back to try and keep as much of herself dry as she could, and walked steadily to the car.

She tried to open the door, realized it was locked, then stood in the rain as she fumbled to get her keys out of her wet jeans. By the time she got into the car, she was soaked.

Of course the weather still aligns with the shittiness of the day.

I mean, it’s not the shittiest day we’ve seen in this Arc, but still.

Once the door was shut and she was safely in from the rain, Sunset let her head fall onto the steering wheel. Part of her wanted to scream some more, but a much larger part of her didn’t have the energy.

mood

She leaned back and slumped in the chair, aware that she should get going. Instead, she pulled her phone out of her pocket. The screen had water droplets on it, but her clothes were too wet to dry it off with, so she ignored that.

So the weather soaked her clothes enough on the trip across the parking lot that her phone got a wet screen in her pocket? Jeez, it’s really pouring. Where is this, Bergen?

Checking the time underlined the fact that she should go, since she still had an errand to run before picking Fluttershy up from school. That is, if there was still any reason to bother with the errand.

An errand? Hmm. Maybe that’s how this ties in. I doubt it’s one of Cauldron’s errands, though, since you kinda can’t just not bother with those if you know what’s best for you.

And also since Sunset has shown no signs of having a power at this point and she and Fluttershy are blatantly too poor to be Cauldron customers.

Instead, she returned the missed call she had. The phone rang a few times, then Flash’s voice answered. “Hey, Sunset. Bad day at work, I take it?”

“You don’t even know the fucking half of it.”

“Aren’t you trying not to swear so much with the baby –”

“Not now, Flash!”

When you’re in a good mood, something like minding your language for the sake of an unborn child can be cute enough that you go along with it just for that.

But Sunset is not in a good mood. Hell, if this had been Miraculous Ladybug, she’d have gone supervillain hours ago.

After a moment’s pause, Flash’s tone made it clear he knew this wasn’t a time for jokes. “Okay. So what happened?”

“I didn’t get the promotion.”

“Ouch. Did he say why?”

“He said he ‘wanted someone with more experience’.”

“Are you serious? You’ve been there for four years, how much experience does he want?”

I’ve been working in retail a couple years now, but I don’t think I should be expecting any promotions anytime soon. I’m not even sure there is anything to be promoted to at our little store short of assistant boss, and I’m definitely not getting that.

“Oh, it’s a fucking load of shit. The bitch he hired? I lived with her back in New Horizons. She’s a god damn year older than me! How much more experience could she possibly have!?”

I get an answer on their past and it only raises further questions. What’s New Horizons? Sounds like they lived together in a way that would have them learning each others’ ages, so… an orphanage maybe?

“Geez, that’s messed up. I’m sorry, Sunset, I wish there was something I could do.”

Sunset sighed. “Yeah, I know.” Even though Flash had tried smoothing things over between them, it hadn’t mattered. Ever since Sunset broke up with his nephew, he’d had it out for her. Always doing just enough to keep her miserable, without ever doing quite enough to make it clear he was targetting her.

Oh, huh. History between Sunset, Flash and Lucre, too. Lots of history going around here.

She hadn’t called Flash to get him to do anything, though. “I just… I don’t know what to tell Fluttershy…”

“She knows how he is. She’ll know it’s not your fault.”

“Yeah, but…” Sunset leaned her head against the window and watched the rain come down. “I’ve kind of… misled her a little bit.”

Oh?

Flash’s voice was uncertain. “What do you mean?”

“I’ve let her believe that we’re doing okay with money, and we really aren’t. I mean, we’re doing okay now, but we’re one big expense away from being totally fucked!”

“One big expense like a baby.”

Oh. Not something to do with the overall plot, probably.

Then again, that could set up a trigger event for one or both of them, maybe. Depends how fucked they’d end up being.

“Exactly. I thought, you know, there’s nothing to worry about. I’d get the promotion, we’d have a few months before Sky’s born to save some money, everything would be good. But now…”

“Hey, Sunset, it’ll be okay. Didn’t your friends say they’d help if you needed money?”

Even more new characters? We’ve got an entire cast being introduced in this chapter, unless these friends are some we already know.

Sunset scowled. “They’ve done too much already. They bought us a fucking car, and Applejack’s still buying us groceries. I can’t ask them for more than that.”

Flash hesitated, and Sunset knew what was coming before he said it. “Maybe… you’re gonna have to. Sky’s what’s most important, you know?”

Oof. Yeah, sometimes you just have to — as we say in Norway — crawl to the cross.

“Yeah, you’re right.” Sunset hated that he was right. “I’m gonna try to figure something else out though, see if there’s some way I can do this without relying on them. Please don’t tell anyone until I have a chance to figure things out.”

“Don’t tell anyone?”

“Well, they’ll know I didn’t get the promotion. But don’t tell them about the money.”

Fair enough, I suppose. When that comes out it should probably be from Sunset.

“I guess…” Flash didn’t sound so sure. “Just don’t try to do too much on your own, you know? And remember that I’m around too if there’s anything I can do.”

“Yeah, I know. Thanks, Flash.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“I’m gonna get going. I have to pick up Fluttershy from school.”

“Alright, I’ll talk to you later then.”

“Later.”

I like Flash, he seems cool.

Sunset hung up and tossed the phone on the passenger seat. She lingered for a moment more as she watched the rain, then she started the car.

It wasn’t like Sunset felt better, exactly. But talking to Flash allowed her raw anger to shift form, becoming instead a more dull sense of apathy. Her life had never gone the way it should, why had she thought it would start now?

I think Taylor can relate.

It was hard to see on the way out of the parking lot, and even harder once she was on the road. The windshield wipers moved frantically, but the rain came down faster than they could displace it. Sunset was forced to drive slowly, and since she decided to fulfill her errand after all, she drove in the opposite direction of Fluttershy’s school.

Are we sure Leviathan isn’t behind this weather? Maybe he’s trying a new approach, where he doesn’t actually show himself, he just makes it rain a lot.

If it wasn’t for the fact that Rarity would ask about it, Sunset wouldn’t have bothered. The whole point had been that with the promotion, she and Fluttershy would finally be able to live a comfortable life together. Or at least live one out of poverty, if only barely. What was the point now?

Rarity… why does that name sound so familiar… *runs a blog search*

Interlude 11d. Pinkie Pie made fun of Rarity, whoever they are, by pretending an intestinal tube was a scarf.

Fuck. Is this in the same world as the horses, then??

Actually, I suppose that one ask about the WOG on Professor Haywire confirmed that dimensional counterparts are a thing. Maybe Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie and co. have human counterparts on Earth-Bet? ‘Course, if that’s the case, Pinkie’s counterpart is probably Bonesaw.

It wouldn’t explain the strange names, but it would explain why we have both humans and ponies who know a “Rarity”.

But still, Sunset drove slowly and carefully to the jewelry store that she and Rarity had visited the week before.

Jewelry? Oh fuck, is she planning to propose?

With the rain keeping any sane person away, Sunset had an easy time finding a good parking spot right in front of the store. At least she wouldn’t get too much wetter when she trudged through the rain again.

Sunset didn’t bother to run, only keeping her head down to keep the rain from her eyes as she entered the store. Looking up, she saw the only other person there was a sales clerk.

“Hello there, how can I help you today?” she asked, ignoring the fact that Sunset was dripping water all over the floor.

You get used to that kind of thing. It’s not something the customer can help anyway.

“I have a ring to pick up,” Sunset said as she approached the counter. “I was told it would be ready today.”

Yep, looks like we’ve got a proposal on our hands! That’s gonna go just great judging by the track record of this chapter so far. It’s still raining.

Maybe that will be Sunset’s trigger event.

“Alright. Name?”

“Sunset Shimmer.”

The sales clerk typed into a keyboard. “Ah yes, just one moment.” She disappeared into a back room, then returned with a small black box.

She opened it to show Sunset, who couldn’t even manage a smile. The band was silver with a green gemstone in the middle. Of course, diamonds were traditional for engagement rings, but Rarity had been certain Fluttershy would prefer emerald. “It’s perfect.”

Emeralds are way better than diamonds and silver way better than gold, change my mind.

The clerk set the ring down on the counter and typed into the keyboard again. “And it looks like you’re all paid up, so if you’ll just sign here, you’ll be good to go.”

The document before her seemed to be a release form of some sort, indicating that Sunset had picked up the ring. With how much she and Rarity had spent on it, it was no surprise they wanted legal documentation that the transaction had been completed. Sunset didn’t bother to read any of it, signing her name to whatever end.

“Sign here, here and here. Okay, great! I’ll set up an appointment next week for your organ harvesting, to be executed by doctor Pie. Any questions?”

“It really is a gorgeous ring,” the clerk said as Sunset handed back the paperwork.

“Yeah. Beautiful.”

“Here’s your proof of purchase, and…”

Sunset didn’t pay much attention as the sales clerk explained what each item she put in the bag was. Mostly different forms – warranties and all that, most likely. If she found a reason to do so, Sunset was sure she could figure it out later.

She’s here for an engagement ring, but her heart is really not in it at this point. That’s kind of sad in and of itself.

She waited until the clerk was finished, thanked her, and took the bag. She folded it up so that water couldn’t get into the opening, then held it close to her chest for added safety as she walked back into the rain.

At least she’d been smart enough to have her key out this time, so getting into the car was much easier. She still was too wet by the time she got in, but there was no sense worrying about that.

Learning from your mistakes is a good trait to have, even if you’re still left soaking.

Instead, she worried about the ring. She pulled it out of the bag, opening the little black box to look at the ring itself.

It was supposed to be perfect. Things were supposed to be better. Sunset would get the promotion, then she’d tell Fluttershy and they’d pick a date to go out and celebrate. They’d have a nice dinner out on the town with their friends, then maybe go for a walk in the evening together.

While they were both feeling good and looking forward to their future, that’s when Sunset would ask her. She hadn’t worked out all the details of where they’d be, or what she’d say. But she would ask Fluttershy to marry her, and Fluttershy would say yes, and they’d be happy.

What did I tell you about nice long-term plans?

Sunset looked down at the ring and didn’t feel very happy. What was she supposed to do? It wasn’t like she thought Fluttershy would say no just because Sunset didn’t get the promotion. But everything was different now. The ring was supposed to be a token of their new life together, a life that they could build into something worth having. It would herald in a new wave of happiness for the two of them, a way for them to fully commit to one another and to the family they were starting.

Ouch.

It was supposed to be, but it wasn’t. Now if she proposed, they would have a discount wedding where they spent no expense. They would return to their tiny little house that didn’t even have a separate room for their daughter. They would save what little money they could for the little time they were able to, then they’d lose it all within months of having a baby to provide for.

My parents pretty much just went to an office, with few people knowing, and then arrived to my dad’s birthday party later that day with the news that they were married. I don’t think it’s even that they couldn’t do something bigger, I’m pretty sure that’s just the kind of wedding they wanted.

Doesn’t seem like Sunset agrees.

Yes, they’d love each other. But love did not buy food, or diapers, or clothes. Their love would not build a life, not on its own.

Sunset stared down at the ring. It was supposed to be perfect. And now? Now it was just a ring in a box.

A lovely Slytherin ring, for whatever that’s worth at this point.

She snapped it shut and threw the box back into the bag. She haphazardly tossed it in the back seat, letting it come to rest on the floor, where Fluttershy wouldn’t notice it. Later, while Fluttershy was at work, Sunset would find a better place to hide it.

Which is not much, it seems.

With her errand over and no sign of the rain letting up, Sunset started the car and found her way back onto the road.

That damn rain. Don’t ever trust rain in fiction, you hear me?

The entire time she drove, flashes of the life that could have been danced through her mind, hypnotic as the sound of the rain against metal and glass and the constant motion of the windshield wipers.

A life flashing before your eyes is probably not a good thing to combine with driving in the rain.

She barely noticed the trip to Fluttershy’s school. The car stopped and started almost automatically, as Sunset herself drove it on autopilot. At some point, even the thoughts faded away, leaving nothing but bitterness and rain.

None of these things are good to combine with driving in the rain.

It didn’t even occur to her how late she was until she brought the car to a stop. Before she could pull out her phone, Fluttershy was walking through the rain towards her.

Fluttershy reached the car and tried to open the door before Sunset realized it was still locked. She scrambled to open it while Fluttershy stood with her arms crossed. Once Sunset got the door unlocked, Fluttershy got in the car without a word.

Pfft. Don’t lock your girlfriend out in the rain.

“Sorry I’m late,” Sunset said.

“It’s fine,” Fluttershy said in a tone that was not at all fine.

Whatever was going on, they could talk about it at home. No sense getting into a discussion in the middle of a parking lot when it was clear that neither of them was in a good mood.

Yeah, that seems fair enough.

Sunset did want to say something to Fluttershy, though. She just wasn’t sure what. More than anything, she just wanted to hear Fluttershy’s voice. To feel that sense of peace only Fluttershy could bring into her life. To feel like maybe this, too, could be okay.

Aaand you’ve jinxed it.

No words came. Sunset drove, turning from one street to the next, and there was nothing but silence and rain.

That only lasted so long, however. “Why were you late?” Fluttershy asked after a while.

“Oh, I was just picking up some Harry Potter merch.”

Sunset was sure she tried to keep it from her voice, but some of an accusatory tone had worked its way into Fluttershy’s question. She frowned as she answered. “Might not have noticed, but there’s some pretty bad weather right now.”

“You’re an hour late because the rain?”

“I got held up at work. Sorry.”

“It’s fine.”

I’m probably more sensitive to accusatory tones than I should be, so I can kind of relate to Sunset’s defensiveness here.

The same tone. Fluttershy was rarely this upset, especially at Sunset. She decided against waiting until they were home to figure out why. “So what’s up? You sound miserable.”

“It’s been a bad day.”

It’s been going around. Seems to be falling from the sky, even.

“Okay…” Sunset wasn’t really in the mood to pick things apart, but she wanted Fluttershy to air out whatever was bothering her so she could go back to her usual self. She needed at least that much to go right after the day she’d had, she needed Fluttershy’s support. “How was the final?”

Fluttershy bowed her head. “I knew the answers to most of the questions. I know I did. But then I couldn’t think. Like everything was there, but it was all fuzzy.”

Augh, that’s the worst.

Sunset nodded. “That sounds like what the doctor said to expect. Memory issues, trouble focusing. It’s the pregnancy hormones.”

“I already know that,” Fluttershy said curtly. “Knowing why isn’t going to pass the exam for me though.”

There’s value in knowing why your body and brain work the way they do, but it tends to help more with self-worth issues from the things that don’t work right than with the things themselves.

I’m speaking from experience, for once.

Sunset picked up a little speed. “Just trying to remind you not to be too hard on yourself.”

“I just don’t want to fail my class.”

Normally, Sunset would try to comfort Fluttershy in some way. It was what she did best, after all; talk her way out of problems. But no comforting words came to mind, so she said nothing.

I wonder if Sunset could be related to Lisa in some way. Like a cousin or something… I just like the idea of “good at talking their way out of problems” being a hereditary trait.

“Plus my feet hurt, and I’ve been bloated all day, and I’m just… I feel so miserable.”

“Yeah, that’s the –”

“I know it’s the hormones.”

I can’t relate to being good at talking one’s way out of problems, but I do have the thing where my attempts at comforting often focus on addressing the why and what and practical solutions to the problem. I’m… not particularly good at emotional support.

Sunset narrowed her eyes and bit her tongue.

Fluttershy turned to look at Sunset for a moment, then turned away. “And then I waited for an hour in the rain.”

Sunset glanced over to give her an incredulous look. “You were in the rain the whole time?”

Oof, that’s not a great idea.

Fluttershy folded her arms and glared at the floor. “No, not the whole time. Just part of it because I wanted to get away from the school.”

Sunset shook her head. “Why would you go out in the rain? Even if I wasn’t held up, that’s just dumb.”

“But the rain was better than the store, so she stepped out into it.”

Seems like Fluttershy had a similar moment.

“Hey, don’t pin that on me. I didn’t tell you to wait in the rain.”

“I didn’t say it was your fault.”

“No, you just made it sound like it was.”

Fluttershy was quiet for a moment, but Sunset could feel her glare. “You could’ve at least texted me that you’d be late.”

Fluttershy does have a point there, especially since the “errand” was planned.

Sunset gritted her teeth as she turned too quickly for the weather. “Look, I’m sorry that you had a bad day, but you don’t need to jump down my throat about it. My day’s also been pretty shitty, and I don’t need that right now.”

Fluttershy turned back to the window. “Sorry to be a bother.”

It was as if she was deliberately trying to get under Sunset’s skin. That was the one thing Sunset had been working nonstop to convince Fluttershy otherwise of since they started living together.

This is going to hell in a handbasket. I blame the rain.

Well, if that was how she was going to be, the rain would be all the answer she’d get. Sunset knew that some moodiness was expected as another side effect of the hormones, but she had spent all morning trying to take care of Fluttershy.

She’d gone to work where she had to smile through being insulted by Lucre and Sugar Breeze, she’d trudged through the rain, she’d been given a cruel reminder of a life that should have been, and now she was being attacked by the one person who had the potential to make things better.

Hm. Maybe this is why this comes immediately after 17.7. In 17.7, we’ve got Noelle, the only one whose opinion truly matters to Krouse, giving him an accusatory thigh glare, and then we cut to these two…

“You should slow down,” Fluttershy said, only half interested.

“I know what I’m doing,” Sunset insisted.

Do you?

Fluttershy huffed. “Why don’t you let me drive more?”

“What?” Sunset reared her head back and gave Fluttershy a bewildered look. “It’s fucking pouring down rain! You need more practice driving in the rain before you do something like this.”

Oh, huh, Fluttershy is in the process of learning to drive?

I’m kind of frozen at 92% through that process myself. Hoping to finish after spring finally arrives.

“I didn’t mean right now!” Fluttershy snapped, as if that was somehow supposed to be obvious. “But you never let me drive anymore. It’s been months since I’ve been able to drive.”

“It has not been months! And it’s not like I’m stopping you, Jesus, you make it sound like I’m forcing you into some bullshit rules I made up for the hell of it.”

Sounds like it’s an initiative thing, for both of them.

“Sunset, language!”

“God dammit, she’s not going to pick up swearing before she’s fucking born!”

I was once the type of kid who’d actively go out of my way to not swear, and also keep my parents from it.

I eventually found myself actively making an effort to grow the fuck out of that. I might have overcorrected. I also only really applied that online, which has the odd result that I swear way more in English than I do in my infamously sweary Norwegian dialect.

Sunset was aware Fluttershy was looking at her, but neither of them said a word. Sunset focused on the road ahead of them with its limited visibility, made all the more difficult by some asshole behind her with high beams on.

Oh great, another annoyance in a long list today.

She flipped the switch on the rearview mirror to dim the lights, and for a moment, there was silence. Just the car driving, the windshield wipers, and the rain.

Then another sound started. A sound that proved to Sunset that yes, she could be made to feel even worse. Fluttershy started crying.

Ah, fuck.

At first, Sunset just kept her attention on the road. But even if Fluttershy tried to muffle the sounds, each sniff drowned out Sunset’s fiery anger. Even the ashes dissipated in the rain, leaving her nothing but empty.

“Hey, I’m sorry…” Sunset said gently. She turned to try and smile at Fluttershy, but she couldn’t. It would be forced, and Fluttershy deserved better than that. “I didn’t mean to snap, I just… Well, it doesn’t matter. I’m really sorry I yelled at you.”

They still care so deeply about each other… I really like these two.

When Fluttershy looked up at her, Sunset found a little bit of an authentic smile after all. “It’s okay,” Fluttershy said, sounding more okay than she had the previous two times she’d said that. “I’m sorry too, I – Sunset look out!”

Oh fuck eyes on the road

Sunset turned back to the road to see a car had swerved into their lane. She slammed on both the horn and the brakes, but the car didn’t stop. She felt the wheels hydroplane, and immediately knew she’d been going much too fast.

fuck fuck fuck

No, Fluttershy, I will not mind my language, this is a “fuck fuck fuck” situation.

Several things happened at once, too many for one single moment. Sunset tried to scan the environment to get a better idea of her surroundings, the car started drifting on its own to the right, Fluttershy screamed, and a horn sounded from somewhere.

The front of the car hit something, Sunset wasn’t even sure what. They started spinning, with no control over what happened. Sunset looked towards Fluttershy, who was silhouetted by high beams.

BROCKTON BAY BLADES LET ‘EM RIP

A horrible sound of impact joined in with their screams, and the car kept moving. Sunset’s shoulder slammed into her door as everything turned the wrong way.

Still, the car kept moving. Sunset couldn’t see what was happening, only feel it as she was thrown around as much as her seatbelt would allow. The only thing she was aware of was the horrible roar, her body moving out of her control, and screams.

Plot twist: Everything here turns out okay, only because they’re wearing seatbelts. All of Worm up to this point has been elaborate build-up for a seatbelt PSA, just like Homestuck.

Incidentally, my reaction to my parents swearing when I was a kid was much the same as my reaction to any forgotten seatbelts.

Everything came to a stop, and Sunset realized the one screaming was her. She tried to look around, but everything was dark. She felt sick more than hurt, and it took her a moment to realize that they were upside down.

You’ve got to flip it turnways.

“Fluttershy?” she croaked, an automatic question that she hadn’t needed to think about asking. “Fluttershy, are you okay? Hey. Hey! Fluttershy! Fluttershy, answer me! Please, Shy, answer me!”

The only answer was the sound of rain.

Don’t. Ever. Trust. The. Rain.


We’ve got a section block, so that’s probably a good stopping point for the ni– *checks clock* –morning.


[Session 2]

Alright, let’s see if this mess results in any superpowers for Sunset!

What was happening? Everything felt wrong. Bright lights. Slivers of movement. And someone… someone was crying.

Hm. Sunset just went through an accident, but she seemed relatively clear-headed before the section block. Not like this. POV switch?

People were talking, voices rapid and loud. The words all jumbled together. Something about blood?

Someone was crying. Crying. Was it Sunset?

Okay yeah, POV switch. Fluttershy’s, I suppose.

Or Sky? Don’t cry. I’m here. Everything will be okay.

Interesting. This is not italicized as a directly quoted thought.

The paragraphs here are really short, which I think helps that feeling of disjointed confusion.

The crying stopped, but the light grew brighter. Silhouettes blurred in and out of perception.

Where was Sunset? She should be here. What was happening? What had happened?

The dark clouds in the distance happened.

The people were doing things to her. Fluttershy didn’t understand. What were they doing? Why was she here? Where was she?

You’d almost think she’d been abducted by Cauldron, but more likely they’re just medical professionals at a hospital. I don’t think they’d abduct someone from a random car accident, especially with the girlfriend as a witness.

Nothing made sense. Thoughts jumbled together so that they could all fade away as one, only to be replaced by more confusion.

Sky. Is Sky okay? Please, God, let her be okay. She needs to be okay.

Again with the direct thoughts not being marked as such. Assuming it’s intentional, that’s a nice touch. It contributes to the sense that the narration is barely coherent enough to form paragraphs, let alone format them properly.

Someone was talking, but it was different. Quieter. Softer. A voice that cut through the sounds of whatever was happening. It called to her.

The voice was familiar, but distant. Fluttershy knew who it was, but that didn’t make sense. It couldn’t be.

…Sunset?

“Fluttershy.”

She tried to look around, but she was unable to move. She had to go. She had to find the voice.

“Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy closed her eyes, and everything faded away. Even the sounds from the room around her ceased to exist. There was just her and the voice.

That’s probably not good.

“Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy woke up with a start, sitting upright on her bed. She looked around, but all she saw was her bedroom. The sun was just barely rising, and she knew she should get back to sleep, but all she could think about was that strange room with all those shadows looming over her.

Uhhh. Yeah, this doesn’t seem right.

This feels like Simurgh-esque mind shenanigans, but I think they would’ve noticed if the Simurgh was around before the crash, so it might just be regular ol’ mind shenanigans.

If she stayed in bed she might fall back asleep, and she didn’t want that. She rose, the wooden floor cold against her bare feet, and she crossed the room.

In need of a way to keep busy, Fluttershy grabbed a hairbrush. It was sitting atop a black dress, which she’d be wearing later for the funeral.

Whose funeral?

She hated even looking at it, it was just another reminder that she was gone, as if Fluttershy could ever forget that.

Hm. Maybe this is real and… oh cod, Sky?

She stared at her reflection in the mirror as she brushed her hair. She hated it. Why did she have to look so much like her? Why did her own image have to be another reminder? Just like the dress. Just like the dream.

Fuck. I guess it was a flashback dream…

When she closed her eyes, Fluttershy could still hear that voice calling her. She gripped the hairbrush tightly in an attempt to keep from crying, but she cried all the same.

“Mama…”

Wait… damn, okay. So this latter, more coherent part was the dream, and the funeral was for Fluttershy’s mother?

“Figured you’d be here.”

“I need to be.”

“I understand why ya feel that way, but ya also need to get some rest.”

“I’ll be fine.”

Hello. I guess the even-numbered lines are from Sunset, but who’s the other character, with the accent? One of their friends?

“Have you slept once since she… since everything happened?”

“Here and there. I’m fine. I need to be here when she wakes up.”

“Guess I can’t fault ya for that. Coulda answered your phone at least.”

When she wakes up…

“I… I didn’t know what to say. It’s not like there’s any change. She’s still… she’s…”

“I know, I know. Of course you’ll tell all of us the second she wakes up, I wouldn’t bother you about that. But I was callin’ about you, Sunset. Are ya at least eating?”

It really sounds like Fluttershy is in a coma.

Also it’s good to know someone’s looking out for Sunset too.

“Yeah.”

“Bullshit.”

“…yeah. I think I ate today. I don’t really remember.”

Mood.

“That’s what I figured. Brought ya something.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Come on, eat a little. For me, if not for yourself. I’m worried about you.”

“Fine.”

This chapter has a good streak going of introducing characters I can’t help but like.

“Ya know, the rest of us are here too. We could work something out, stay in shifts so that way someone’s here when she wakes up. I know ya want it to be you, but…”

“I’m staying, AJ. It’s my fault she’s here.”

Oof, that feeling must suck.

AJ, huh? Sunset mentioned a friend named Applejack earlier (isn’t that an alcoholic drink?) so I suppose AJ would be short for that.

“Hey now, none of that. This ain’t your fault.”

“It is.”

“It’s not.”

“If I’d paid more attention to my driving, I could’ve reacted better.”

“Ya couldn’t’ve controlled some idiot driving into your lane, Sunset. This isn’t your fault.”

Applejack has a point, but Sunset was distracted and speeding.

“But if I hadn’t been going so fast, I could’ve stopped. if I kept my eyes on the road better, I could’ve done something different. This is my fault, AJ. I know you don’t want to believe it is, but it is.”

“Jesus Christ, Sunset, are ya really that determined to be the villain every time you don’t save the day? Ya did all ya could, all anyone could ask of ya. No one blames you, Sunset. No one but you.”

…hey, can we get Taylor one of these? I think she could use an Applejack.

“I’ll believe that when Fluttershy and Sky are okay.”

“…Sunset…”

Yeah, uh, going through something like this while pregnant is probably not great for the baby. You know, typical advice for pregnant people. “Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, don’t smoke, don’t get into a car accident and end up in a coma.”

“Yeah, I know. I know okay. She’s dead. She’s gone and she’s not coming back. And it’s all… it’s all…”

Fuck.

“Shh, come here. Go on, let it out.”

“I just… I can’t do this, AJ! I can’t, I can’t…”

“I know. But you still will. I’m here for ya, and so are Pinkie and Rainbow and everyone else. And Fluttershy’s gonna be okay, I promise.”

…Pinkie and Rainbow. Well, that confirms the Rarity link, I suppose. I guess we’ve found the connection to the rest of the cast.

Now we just need to figure out if they’re horses or human counterparts. I thought Pinkie’s counterpart was Bonesaw, but maybe not. Of course there’s always the possibility of this being a third world (perhaps Earth-Aleph, tying in with the rest of the Arc) where the local Pinkie Pie never became a psychotic surgeon as a child.

And of course the two of them are mentioned together. Well played, Wildbow.

“If she doesn’t make it, I don’t… I don’t know what I’ll do…”

“She will. Listen to me, Fluttershy’s gonna be just fine, ya hear?”

“And Sky…”

“…”

I’m sorry, Sunset.

“Do you… do you believe in heaven?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“I don’t. I never have. Or anything else like that.”

“Sunset…”

“So… if there isn’t a heaven… Then what does that mean for Sky?”

I’m with Sunset here, but honestly? I think I prefer it that way.

“I don’t want to tell ya what to believe, but… Something as good as that little girl, well… I just don’t believe that she can just be gone, just like that. There’s gotta be a heaven, Sunset. There’s just gotta be.”

Just because I think it being just kind of… over, when you die, might be the better outcome, doesn’t mean I can’t see where this perspective comes from, though. It’s largely about hope, like so much about the fundamental beliefs in religions. A hope that there’s some higher power watching over us and taking care of us when it’s over. A lot of people find comfort in that, and I’m not going to fault them for that.

A belief in an afterlife is perhaps the most harmless and valuable aspect of religion in general, at least up until afterlife gatekeeping gets used to justify hatred and bigotry.

“I just… I wish I could be sure of that.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“AJ, could you… stay here with me tonight? I… I don’t want to be alone…”

That’s very understandable.

“Yeah, I’ll stay right here. Don’t you worry about that.”

“Does it… ever stop hurting?”

“…Mostly, yeah. It takes a long time, and sometimes it comes back and hits ya again. But someday, I promise you you’ll feel alright again.”

I guess AJ lost someone too?

“I want to believe that, but… I feel so hollow.”

“I understand. But you can trust me.”

“And… and you’re sure Fluttershy will wake up?”

“Of course I am. I promised, didn’t I?”

“Yeah. Thanks, AJ.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“And when she wakes up, maybe… maybe that’ll mean you’re right about heaven, too.”

This is a lovely moment, regardless of religious beliefs or lack thereof.

There are a lot of these after the accident, huh. That’s another thing that helps with the disjointed feeling.

Everyone wanted to talk to her. To tell her that they were sorry for her loss, to ask her how she was holding up. And for each of them, Fluttershy would have to lie.

Hm. Skipping ahead?

She had to pretend like the world hadn’t fallen from her below her. She had to put on the brave face and show them that she could be strong, even without her Mama.

Oh. Back to the coma dream.

All Fluttershy wanted to do was run away. The entire service, all she could think of was being back in her bedroom, where she wouldn’t be surrounded by people she barely knew, and where she could at least have a wall separating her from him.

I’m reminded of my grandmother’s funeral. The time aside from the funeral itself, I mostly spent in the guest room I was staying in, tuning it all out.

…him?

She sat beside her father as someone spoke to the crowd about her Mama. He had never known her, but he was speaking about her life and the effect she’d had on others. Of course, it wasn’t like Fluttershy herself would be able to speak. All she could do was cry.

I don’t know if my grandmother knew the priest…

Her father sat stoically beside her, face unreadable. But Fluttershy had seen him crying the night before. For a moment, she had felt empathy for him during their shared grief. Then he hit her for having seen him cry, and all she could think was that if Mama was still here, he wouldn’t dare.

Oh. Him.

Yikes.

So Fluttershy just watched someone who never knew her mom talk about how she left behind a loving husband and daughter. Fluttershy thought differently. She’d died, and love had died with her.

Ouch.

After he was done, other people took to the podium. At least they had known her in some fashion, although none of them had been close to her for years. Her Mama’s declining health had prevented her from being close to anyone except her daughter and husband.

But at least they’d known her, which should have made it better. But instead, all Fluttershy could think was that none of them knew her like she did.

This part I can’t relate to. I was never really all that close with my grandmother, especially as we both grew older.

Even her father hadn’t known her like Fluttershy had. Day in and day out, Fluttershy had been the one by her side. She had been her Mama’s world, just as her Mama had been hers.

And now, she was gone.

😥

When everyone finished talking, they were supposed to each take a turn walking past the open casket to say their final goodbyes. Some people had tokens they would leave with her. Fluttershy had wanted to bring a sunflower because they were her Mama’s favorite. Her father had said that was stupid, so she had brought nothing.

Fuck off, dude, let the kid honor her mother how she wants.

He took the front of the line, with Fluttershy behind him. She watched his face as he looked into the casket, and saw it move from one unreadable expression to the next.

Fluttershy didn’t want to look. Her Mama was gone, and her body wouldn’t hear any last goodbyes. But she was expected to, and she dare not disappoint, so she stepped up after her father had left.

It took actually seeing my grandmother in the casket for the tears to come.

She looked into the casket and saw a young woman who looked very much like her Mama, but who wasn’t her. She was covered in blood, and her hands gripped her stomach protectively. As Fluttershy looked down at the scene, she swore she heard a baby crying.

Fuck, that’s good.

I love freaky mind shenanigans like this.

She was expected to move along, so she did, and she did not think of the woman who looked so much like herself again.

I suppose to little Fluttershy, the young adult in that casket wouldn’t register as actually her. Dream logic aside.

Snow and ice crunched underfoot as Sunset walked. Everything around her was frozen, a wasteland of white and blue.

Welcome to Norway, Sunset!

A flurry of snow danced around her as she walked, whipped wildly by the winds cutting up around her. The falling frost stuck to her skin and obscured her surroundings past the point of recognition.

The weather really doesn’t want people to see things in this chapter.

There was no telling how long she walked for, or even where she was walking to. It didn’t matter. Both time and distance were irrelevant to Sunset. She shivered in the cold, holding her arms close to her body in a fruitless attempt at keeping warm.

If you’re gonna take an impromptu Siberian vacation, you should probably dress for it.

As she walked, she became aware of something. A flash of darkness against the white, only visible for a moment before it was consumed by the relentless snow. Sunset picked up her pace as she approached the place where it had been.

Okay, obviously she’s not actually in Norway or Siberia. So what gives? Is this a dream? A Dandelion vision?

It was another person. Sunset was sure of that when she saw the figure again. But once again, the snow seized all color, defying Sunset’s attempts to close the distance.

“Hello?” Sunset called as she walked even faster still.

As it happens, the song I’ve currently got playing is titled “Faster” and has a chorus involving the line “and I go faster and faster and faster and faster for life”.

The only answer was the sound of wind.

Dammit, is all the weather against us today?

Hey, didn’t pony Rainbow have the power of weather control? Maybe whichever Rainbow is Sunset’s friend can help us chase away all this damn ominous weather, if Pinkie Pie doesn’t get to her first?

A memory flashed, but then it was gone. All that there was in its place was ice.

I can’t rule out that all of these memory mind shenanigans are somehow the Simurgh’s fault, even if she hasn’t shown up.

Hell, what if she set Sugar Breeze up so that Sunset wouldn’t get the promotion, messed with Fluttershy’s head to make her fail the exam, and placed the other driver on the road to swerve into Sunset’s lane at just the right moment to fuck Fluttershy up and kill Sky? Maybe Sky would’ve grown up to be a major threat to the Endbringers.

Undeterred, Sunset continued after the person. “Hello, is someone there?”

A figure formed before her, coming into focus with each step through the snow. Sunset recognized the small form of a child, shrouded in darkness as if silhouetted by a light that she couldn’t see.

…Sky?

“Hey, are you…” As Sunset approached, more and more details of the child before her became apparent. Whoever it was had their back to her. “Are you okay?”

The figure turned towards Sunset, who stopped in her tracks as she was struck by recognition. “It’s time,” Applejack said.

…huh.

Something was wrong with her voice, and she was only around eleven or twelve years old, but it was undeniable that Sunset was looking at Applejack. Sunset broke into a run, desperate to close the distance between them, but she stopped again as the horror of what she was looking at became apparent.

Her normally bright orange skin was pale blue, and neither her hair nor clothes moved in the wind. When Sunset didn’t walk closer, Applejack did it herself. Even her movement was wrong, as she seemed to practically drag herself.

wights

Winter is coming.

Sunset took a step back as Applejack approached, but she kept coming. “Applejack, what… what happened…?”

Applejack stopped a few feet from Sunset and held out her hand. “You did.”

Is this about Sunset blaming herself and being afraid of hurting everyone else too?

Up close, Sunset could see what hair Applejack still had was frozen to her skin, as were her clothes. Her body looked bloated, and patches of skin were black with frostbite. She knew exactly what she was looking at, but it was impossible.

“No.” Sunset shook her head. “No, you lived that day. This… this didn’t happen.”

…oh, so this is about something that actually happened?

Seems dramatic enough that it could have given Applejack powers.

“It’s time to go, Sunset.”

Sunset didn’t want to touch Applejack. She didn’t want to be near her, didn’t want to look at her. But she also couldn’t stop herself. As if she were being pulled by strings, Sunset reached out her hand and placed it in Applejack’s.

This chapter is wild.

It was like nothing she’d ever felt. Or like a memory of a feeling that she’d tried to forget. Applejack’s hand froze to Sunset’s, and it burned as it did. The small icy touch was enough to make Sunset feel like her whole being was on fire.

Ironic.

Applejack ignored Sunset’s pain. She pulled the older woman along with more strength than a child should possess, all without a word. Sunset could only follow. Her hand was fused to the young girl’s by ice that worked its way into Sunset’s veins, leaving them frozen together by more than just their skin.

The wind howled as Applejack pulled Sunset along, until the ground fell from below them.

Whoop, there they go.

Sirens approached as Sunset struggled with the seatbelt. She tried to get ———— to respond, but she was met with only the sound of rain.

We’ve got flashbacks wrapped in dreams wrapped in mysteries.

Everything burned, and whether by fire or ice, Sunset couldn’t tell. All that there was in the world was darkness and pain.

*queues up a song called Fire and Ice*

Then a voice cut through the darkness. A shrill cackle that had echoed through her head for years. Sunset’s voice, full of all the pain and malice she had once held so close.

“Did you really think things could be better for you?” Sunset’s voice asked. It came from within her and around her. “Did you really think you deserved better?”

Huhhh?

Is Sunset… like… a reformed supervillain who’s been abstaining from using her powers for a while?

“No! This is wrong!” Sunset fought against the darkness, trying desperately to separate herself from it. “I defeated you!”

Sunset’s voice laughed again. “Sorry, Princess, but not quite.”

Princess. Interesting cape name. Sounds like she’d have a Master power.

The world shot into focus. She was floating above the ruins of Canterlot High School, and everything was on fire. On its own, her body descended in front of the statue, and Sunset saw herself in the reflective surface.

She saw a demon.

She saw fire given solid form.

Pyrokinesis? Or maybe summoning things made out of solid fire, El Goonish Shive style?

“Defeated me?” Sunset watched as her mouth moved to speak words she hadn’t meant to say. “You areme, Princess. The weak part of me that’s stupid enough to think she could ever be happy.”

“You’re wrong,” Sunset shot back. Her mouth in the reflection didn’t move as she spoke. “I’m stronger than you. And with my friends, I –”

I wonder if this whole split identity thing is exclusively psychological (we’re still in the dream world, as far as I can tell) or a side effect of the powers.

“Your friends?” Her mouth curved into a wicked grin, and Sunset realized she was only able to speak when the demon allowed her to. “Friends like this, perhaps?”

She spun around, and Sunset saw Twilight collapsed on the ground. Her skin was badly burned, and that was only where it hadn’t been melted away. Exposed bones were broken, leaving her limbs splayed in unnatural angles.

Yikes. Did this actually happen, or is her mind / evil splinter just that cruel?

Sunset just laughed again. “What’s the matter, Princess? Can’t handle the person you are?”

“This isn’t me! You did this, I didn’t…”

“Is that what you think? There is no me and you. There’s only you and your inability to accept the fact that you’re responsible for your own actions.”

That accusation doesn’t seem right. She seemed perfectly willing to take responsibility for the crash a few sections ago.

“But this didn’t happen! I was stopped, I didn’t… I wouldn’t… I’m not this person anymore.”

Sunset turned back to the statue. “Then let’s see what the new you is capable of.”

I wonder if she took a deal like Madcap.

She stepped forward, into the statue, and the world disappeared around her.

I’m sorry, into the statue?

…dreams, am I right…

(Why does this feel so familiar?)

There was so much blood. That was all Sunset could think as they loaded ———— into the ambulance. There was so much blood.

It’s interesting that Fluttershy’s name is bleeped in these flashbacks. Does dream Sunset not remember her?

There was no ice.

There was no fire.

There was nothing.

The world around her was nothing but ash. That was all that was left, everything else had been burned away. And deep down, Sunset knew that was all her doing.

Ooof.

Sunset had been here before, even if it sometimes felt like she’d only imagined it. She’d walked the path of ashes to face the things she’d done. She’d walked it to its end, and then she kept going.

The path of ashes… That seems like a good book title. Almost as good as A Path of Daggers.

“You may have faced your past, Sunset Shimmer, but you have not been held accountable for it.”

The voice struck her with more terror than any other could. It was the one voice Sunset could not bring herself to face again, and the one voice she always longed more than any other to hear.

Whomst?

Sunset did not want to face it now, but her body turned on its own. She turned, and then she was frozen where she stood. Unable to move under the weight of angry magenta eyes.

“It’s time you faced your judgement,” Princess Celestia said.

Did I miss a chapter where half the cast of this one was introduced?

So Sunset was Princess, but there’s also someone she refers to as Princess Celestia?

“I… I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to…”

Other figures rose from the ashes. Cadance, who had only wanted to be Sunset’s friend and was punished for it. Applejack, scarred from years of being Sunset’s favorite target and a past that they still never spoke of. Princess Twilight, who Sunset had tried to take everything from for no reason other than she had been able to succeed where Sunset had failed. The Twilight she has once gone to school with, forced apart from the only friends she’d ever had because Sunset hadn’t trusted her enough. Flash, manipulated and betrayed. Rose Petal, abandoned.

I am so lost.

Wait, are there two Twilights?

There were others. Rarity, Pinkie, and Rainbow had never been safe from her torment.

Trust me, it’s mutual. You’re not safe from Pinkie either, unless she’s a lot more stable in this world.

Snips and Snails had been the only ones who had stood by her for a time, until Sunset replaced them with better friends. Teachers, students, people, ponies, so many faces that Sunset could hardly recognize, could never hope to put names to.

It kind of sounds like Sunset’s brand of supervillainy was heavily localized to that one school. She should have a chat with Bakuda.

There were so many, and Sunset knew she had hurt all of them. There was nothing she could say for what she’d done.

“But that’s not me anymore,” Sunset said meekly. She turned away, unable to keep staring at the crowd. “I’m better than that now.”

Sunset is certainly an intriguing character. I could use more context, though.

“And you think it is for you to decide that you can erase your past?” Princess Celestia asked her. “Do you believe the past damage has ceased to exist because you’ve decided it has?”

“No, I just…”

Sunset couldn’t find any other words to say.

The problem with regret is it doesn’t actually resolve what caused it.

She would apologize. Although she’d said it before, she could never say it enough. She would face her victims and apologize for the things she’d done. A thousand times, of take what it took.

This is a good start, though.

As she lifted her head, she found there was only one person there.

“Sunset…”

“Fluttershy!”

Aw fuck, the dream’s about to do her really dirty, isn’t it.

Sunset ran towards Fluttershy. She was bleeding. There was so much blood, and it had been spilled by Sunset. By her anger and her carelessness. What good were her intentions when she could only cause pain?

Yeah. It is.

Fluttershy fell to the ground. Even as Sunset reached her hands out to grab her, she disappeared, leaving nothing but ash in the place of the one Sunset had hurt more than any other.

It seems to me there’s a natural last step here. Where’s Sky?

No. There was one more.

Sunset has that savviness too, it seems.

Sunset heard a quiet voice. She had never heard it before, but she knew immediately who it was.

“M-mom… why did you let me die?”

Aaagh and she talks

Wildbow’s really twisting the knife on this one in all the best ways.


[Session 3]

“Mama! Wake up!”

Back to Fluttershy… oh jeez, is this a memory of finding her mama dead?

Are we sure Fluttershy doesn’t secretly have powers already? She seems to have been through enough potential trigger events already. Then again, it’d make more narrative sense for it to be the loss of Sky that does it, I think.

What kind of power might someone even get from that? Baby-related powers? Car-related? The power to arrange things like Loss.jpg?

Even though her eyes didn’t want to open, a smile still found its way to Fluttershy’s mouth. It always did when she heard that sweet little voice.

Oh no. No no no…

“Mama! Come on, you gotta wake up!”

Fluttershy didn’t open her eyes, but she smiled wider. “Oh? I do?”

She’s having a coma dream about living with Sky I can’t

“Yes! It’s Mother’s Day, you can’t sleep in today!”

Fluttershy playfully turned away. “I don’t know, that seems like a good reason to sleep in if you ask me.”

…I mean she’s right, if there’s any day mothers should be allowed to do what they want it’s Mother’s Day.

Of fucking course it’s Mother’s Day.

She heard the sound of someone climbing on the bed, then felt two little hands shake her shoulder. “No! Me and Mom made you a surprise!”

“A surprise?” Fluttershy opened one eye and turned towards her daughter. “What kind of a surprise?”

So Fluttershy is Mama and Sunset is Mom. That’s cute.

All of this is cute and that’s exactly why it’s so painful.

Sky Shimmer looked towards the door. “I’m not supposed to say. You gotta see it.”

Taking Sunset’s surname, huh.

“Oh, well in that case…” Fluttershy grabbed her daughter in a hug and rolled over, holding her like a teddy bear. “I’ll have to see after I get a bit more sleep!”

Hah!

Fluttershy pretended to snore, which made Sky giggle more.

“What’s going on in here?” Sunset asked from across the room.

“Mama won’t get up, she’s pretending to sleep.”

“Pretending pretty poorly, too.” Although she kept her eyes closed, Fluttershy felt the bed move as Sunset sat on it. “I’m the only one who snores in this family.”

That doesn’t matter, Sunset. When you’re pretending to sleep, you snore. Them’s the rules.

“Mom! Help me get Mama up!” Sky struggled to get away from Fluttershy’s hug, but she couldn’t break free.

“Help you?” Sunset asked. “Oh, I think you’ve got the wrong idea.”

You’re in trouble now, Sky. You’ve got two fun moms.

Sunset flopped on top of both of them, and even Fluttershy couldn’t keep herself from laughing out loud.

“It’s Mother’s Day, which means us mommies have to team up against daughters like you!” Sunset used her position to start tickling Sky, who did her best to wriggle away.

I would be very much okay with this timeline being real.

“Make sure you get her behind the knees,” Fluttershy said without opening her eyes. “That’s her weak spot.”

“Mama! You’re supposed to help me!”

Sorry, Sky, they’ve teamed up.

Fluttershy finally opened both eyes to look at Sunset and Sky. Sunset let up in her attack at sight of Fluttershy waking up, giving Sky a chance to catch her breath. It gave Fluttershy a chance, too.

“Who said I’m not helping?” Fluttershy lunged at Sunset, tickling her behind the knee. That was more than just Sky’s weak point, after all.

BETRAYAL!

“Fluttershy!” Sunset managed through her laughter. She only barely got the one word out, and couldn’t manage any others.

Sky joined in, helping Fluttershy tickle Sunset. She was much bigger than either of them, and her attempts at squirming away proved much more successful. Still, she only managed to corner herself between the bed frame and the wall.

When I started reading this chapter, a three-way tickle fight with an undertone of tragic denial was not something I expected.

“Okay! Okay! I give up, you win!”

Fluttershy and Sky both grinned proudly at their victory.

T.O.!!! Team S*y wins the match!

(tickle-out)

“What am I going to do with you two?” Sunset asked.

“Hmm… You could get rid of us,” Fluttershy suggested.

“Nah, I don’t like that idea.”

“Oh. Well then, I guess you’ll have to love us unconditionally then.”

I think I do.

“I think I can manage that.” Sunset beamed at both of them, then took note of how dishevelled Sky had gotten. “Come here, you.”

Sunset pulled Sky over to her and smoothed out her hair. It looked like it had been tied up somehow before, but that had come undone. Sky sat patiently as her mom worked out the now tangled mess of pale yellow and pink.

Yellow and pink… interesting color combination. I think I like it.

“I had it all braided before you decided to make a mess of her,” Sunset teased as she worked.

“Oh? Was I the one that started tickling?” Fluttershy countered.

Hehe. I suppose the mama bear hug could make a mess too, but the tickling certainly didn’t help.

“I don’t like it this long,” Sky said. She frowned, but she didn’t try to get away. She was far too well-behaved for that.

“No?” Fluttershy said as she brushed a strand behind Sky’s ear, revealing more of her golden eyes and the freckles that dotted her pretty baby blue face. “I guess we could always cut it all off.”

No kill like overkill, as I always say. Take Loreweaver’s Discord server, for example. I thought we were missing a couple channels, so I just created about forty. It’s much better organized now.

Wait. Blue face?

Rainbow Dash was blue, but that was the horse…

“No!” Sky said, pulling away just a little. “Not all of it!”

Fluttershy laughed. “How would you want it then?”

Sky thought for a minute, then pointed just a little above her shoulder. “This long.”

I think that would go well with the colors.

“That’s pretty short, Sky,” Sunset said as she finished untangling it. “You’re lucky to have nice long hair like your mama.”

Sky pouted. “I guess…”

“If you don’t like it long, we can try cutting it short,” Fluttershy said. “It’s only hair, it’ll always grow back.”

Yeah, that’s the nice thing about it. It doesn’t hurt to try, in the long run.

Sunset nodded. “Yeah, of course.”

That brought the smile back to Sky’s face. Even though they’d picked out the name before she was born, Sunset always said her smile was the reason they named her Sky Shimmer, since it shone like a sunrise.

Aww.

“Now then,” Fluttershy said. “What’s this I hear about a surprise?”

“Oh!” Sky shot up. “We made breakfast!”

“Aww, you two didn’t have to do that,” Fluttershy said.

“Sure, but we wanted to do something nice for you,” Sunset said.

“No I mean, you really shouldn’t have. You two are really bad at cooking. I’m surprised the kitchen isn’t on fire.”

“Oh, it is.”

“Wait, what?”

“What about you though?” Fluttershy asked. “You deserve to be treated on Mother’s Day, too.”

Sunset grinned. “Well, if you wanna keep that in mind around dinner time…”

Fluttershy laughed and threw a pillow at her.

Pfft.

Sky took hold of one of each of their hands and tried to pull them away. “Come on! Before it gets cold!”

Fluttershy giggled. “Okay, okay. Let’s go.”

“We’ll grab the fire extinguisher along the way.”

They both kept hold of Sky’s hands as they climbed off the bed, letting her lead them out into the living room.

“You know,” Sunset said quietly as they walked, her tone much darker than it had been. “This can’t last forever.”

I mean, yeah, you gotta finish breakfast sometime.

…she’s not talking about breakfast, is she.

Fluttershy frowned. “I don’t want to leave.”

How lucid is Fluttershy here? It seems she doesn’t want to wake up from the coma, but is the response… conscious? To whatever extent it can be conscious in a coma?

“Fluttershy, you need to wake –”

“I don’t want to.”

Oof.

They all stopped in place as Sunset frowned. She let go of Sky’s hand and slowly drifted away from them. “Shy… I need you… Please, please wake up…”

“Mama?”

Fluttershy pulled Sky closer, wrapping both arms around her.

Sky rested her head against Fluttershy’s stomach. “Mama, I’m scared…”

Even the part of Fluttershy’s subconscious that is controlling Sky knows this isn’t how things went.

“Shh, everything will be okay.” Fluttershy stroked her daughter’s hair. Sunset was still talking, she was pleading for Fluttershy to wake up. Didn’t she understand? Didn’t she see how much better things were this way?

Lotus eaters are such a sinister and often heartbreaking trope. I love it.

“Don’t leave me, Mama…”

“Never.”

Sunset’s words grew more and more distant. Fluttershy loved Sunset, she loved her with all her heart. But it was Sky who needed her more than anything, and Fluttershy was never going to let her go.

Welp.

“God… I… I’ve never done this before, but… But I don’t know what else to do. I know that there’s no reason for you to do anything for me. I know I’ve never believed in you, and… even now, I can’t really bring myself to believe this will work, but… I need to try.

I’m still alive but I’m barely breathing
Just prayin’ to a god that I don’t believe in
‘Cause I got time while she got freedom
‘Cause when a heart breaks no it don’t break even

“I wish I did believe. I wish I thought Sky was in heaven, and that we’d be together again someday. I wish I could think that maybe Rose had to go when she did so that someone was there to look after Sky until Fluttershy and I get there. I wish I could give life and death meaning like that. I really do.

It’d be nice, I’ll admit.

“I just can’t. I can’t. No matter how much better it would be, I can’t believe that. But… but Fluttershy does. She believes in heaven, and in you, and in all the stuff that’s just too good for me to wrap my head around.

“I think… that’s the part that really gets me about the whole thing. I think that it’s hard for me to believe anything as good as, well, as you could actually exist.

I have my thoughts on the allegation that the Christian god is good, but this is not the time or place for them.

I think for me… Fluttershy is the closest I can come to that. She’s so good, she’s the best thing someone like me could believe in.

“She… she doesn’t deserve this. She deserves to stay here with the people who love her. You know that. You have to know that. If you’re real, you have to know that Fluttershy doesn’t deserve to die.

If he’s real, he plainly doesn’t care who does or does not deserve it.

“And if someone does, if someone has to go, then please… let it be me. I’ve done so many bad things that I’ll never be able to take back.

Death doesn’t help.

I’ve tried to do a few good ones, but I know that doesn’t make up for it. But Shy… she’s perfect. Or as close to perfect as anyone ever could be. So please… let it be me instead of her.

I like that she acknowledges that Fluttershy’s not completely perfect.

“…There was something that happened. That night at the lake those years ago. Something that I never understood. When I was under the ice, I couldn’t see anything. And then… I saw the sun. I knew that was the way to go, and if I hadn’t, well… Applejack wouldn’t be here today.

So the best I can figure of this event is Applejack ended up under a frozen lake, and it was Sunset’s fault somehow, but Sunset managed to get her back out.

“But that’s impossible. The sun had set, and no light could get through the ice. I know that, but I saw it, and it led me to safety. I kind of always thought… maybe that was something. Maybe I didn’t just imagine that.

…huh. Dandelion shenanigans, maybe?

“And now I’m thinking… If you did that, if you helped me get Applejack to safety, then maybe you can help me now. Show me what to do. Give me, I don’t know, some sort of sign that I can use to figure out how to help Fluttershy.

“I don’t know what I’d do without her. And I know she’s too good for me, and that I could never deserve someone like her, hell, I don’t deserve to be happy at all.

The idea that one needs to “deserve” to be happy has caused so much grief for so many people.

So even if she hates me, even if she wants to blame me for everything that happened and never wants to see me again, just…

“Please let her wake up.”

Oof.


End of Migration 17.8

That was the end of the chapter? No trigger events or anything? Maybe there’ll be some followup on the cape-related consequences of this in the next chapter… I assume this whole thing is going to give Fluttershy powers, if not both of them.

This chapter was confusing with all the new characters, but very good. I love the way the narrative started breaking down as the characters’ lives and mental states did, and the juxtaposition of adorableness with the horror of what happened. Mind shenanigans are always fun too.

Somehow the horses are coming into play on Earth-Bet, though they seem to be human counterparts. But if Pinkie Pie isn’t Bonesaw’s Earth-Horse counterpart, why was she introduced alongside the Slaughterhouse Nine? That’s really odd.

In fact, quite a lot of things were really odd in this Worm chapter. You’d almost think it wasn’t a Worm chapter at all, but that kind of shenanigan only ever happens on

April Fool’s! 😉


Krixwell: I’mma take on the role of confused liveblogger Krixfool and pretend to think these chapters in the middle of a story that isn’t even the first in its series are part of a completely different story

Krixfool, when there’s lots of unexplained history between the characters:

surprised pikachu

So! What was this all about?

Well, I’ve previously done two badfics and a completely incomprehensible version of a real chapter, so this year I wanted to shake things up by reading something actually good.

So I asked my friend Krickis if I could give the April Fool’s blog treatment to chapters 16 and i-vi of her MLP:FiM fic Playing House from the series Who We Become. This sequence is, to me, a highlight of the series’ darker, more tonally Worm-esque side.

As usual for April Fool’s, this was not blind. I’m almost caught up on the entire series beyond what has even been published. Sometimes I look at my ability to pretend to be blind on things and wonder how I haven’t been accused of faking the entire blog, but then I remember how bad I am at real predictions and it all makes sense.

I considered also including the first section of chapter 17, where Fluttershy does wake up and get the death of Sky confirmed, because it would be a better stopping point, but this thing is honestly rather long for an April Fool’s chapter as it is.

In any case, I hope you’ve enjoyed this! Have a good April Fool’s Day, everyone. 🙂

One thought on “Migration 17.8: The Sound of Rain

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