It’s a Long Way to the Top
A roaring crowd filled the New Canterlot Amphitheater. They were packed as tightly in the venue as sardines in a can. Tickets for the event had sold out within the first few days, and security measures were doubled that night to prevent possible fights against the concert-goers, or tramplings of other fans upon rushing to the stage, both very likely with a concert of this magnitude. The weather was good for a concert, with only a few clouds and no sign of rain in that evening, but most of the fans were under the cover of the pavilion, anyway. The fans, both guys and girls, were crowded near the stage, sweaty and waiting in anticipation for the show to start.
Sonata Dusk peered out the door to the stage, getting a peek at the screaming, sweaty fans. She grinned and shut the door, then ran down a long hallway to her dressing room, her long ponytail of blue hair swinging back and forth as she did so. Two tall security guards stood on either side of the doorway, wearing darkened sunglasses. When they saw Sonata approaching, they opened the door to let her in.
“Thank you!” she sang out as she entered the small dressing room. It was a fairly large room, with mirrors, clothes-hangers, three couches, and a tables with several plates of food. A man, in his mid-twenties, was lying on the couch, reading a magazine. Aria Blaze was sitting on a stool, looking in the mirror and combing her short purple-and-aqua striped hair.
“Do you hear the crowd out there, Ari?” asked Sonata. “I got a peek outside, it’s huge!”
“Yeah, I hear alright.” Aria looked away from the mirror, then turned to Sonata and frowned. “Hey, we start soon! Why aren’t you dressed?”
“I’m not?” Sonata looked down at her own clothing, a simple black midriff-baring T-shirt and blue jeans with tennis shoes. “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”
“Maybe if you want to look like the most boring drummer ever,” Aria remarked. “Come on, this is our first headlining show. Put on something else, you can’t wear that on stage.”
“But T.B.’s wearing the same thing!” Sonata pointed at the man lying on the couch, who looked up and waved, smiling.
“Yeah, but he’s a bassist, so he doesn’t count,” Aria replied.
“Well, what should I wear then?”
“I don’t know, something like what I’m wearing?” Aria stood up, showing off her partially unzipped black leather jacket and matching pants.
“But if I wore what you’re wearing, what would you wear?”
Aria groaned. “Ugh! How did natural selection not wipe you out sooner?”
Sonata shrugged. “Because I’m too cute to die?”
“Stop arguing, girls!” a voice shouted from the bathroom. “We can’t get too exhausted before the big show! We need to look and sound our best out there.”
“Well, I’ve been trying to get it through this moron’s thick skull, but she won’t listen,” Aria shot back.
“Fine!” Sonata crossed her arms. “I’ll go change once Dagi’s done in there.”
As if on cue, the bathroom door swung open and Adagio Dazzle stepped from the bathroom. Her long orange-and-yellow hair curled over her bare shoulders and down her back. Sonata raised an eyebrow upon seeing that Adagio was wearing nothing but a purple corset and panties with lavender pantyhose and high heeled boots.
“Well?” she asked. “How do I look?”
“Slutty,” Aria remarked with a frown.
Adagio crossed her arms. “Well, sex sells,” she said.
“Ooh!” Sonata grinned. “I’ll wear something like her!”
“Please don’t,” Aria replied.
“Aw, now I don’t know what to wear again!” Sonata looked down, sadly.
Adagio glared at Aria, then turned to Sonata. “You can wear whatever you want, Sonata. The important thing is that we sound good.”
Sonata grinned. “Thanks!”
Before she could head to the bathroom, however, there was a knock on the door. Adagio turned her head towards the door and called. “Who is it?” she asked.
“Some concert-goers with backstage passes,” one of the security guards said. “They insist on seeing you now.”
Adagio smirked. “Well, it looks like our fans are too eager to wait until after the show.” She walked to the door and opened it. “Let them in.”
She was promptly greeted with a fist to the face. This knocked her back a few feet, but she was able to keep her balance. A woman in her early twenties ran in past the guards and punched Adagio again, this time in the gut. She keeled over onto her knees and looked up, immediately recognizing the face of her attacker. “You?”
Aria ran up to the woman, trying to keep her away from Adagio, but the woman slapped her in the face and sent her back onto the wall. Sonata ran up to Adagio, worried.
The attacker tried to go after Sonata, but the two guards grabbed her and held her arms. Adagio stood up, wiping off her face. “I’m okay, Sonata…”
Now she got a better look at the woman who had attacked her. She was wearing a pair of blue jean shorts and a red T-shirt. Her most defining feature, however, was her rainbow-colored hair, with streaks of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. She growled as she tried to struggled from the tight grasp of the two guards.
“Rainbow!” Another woman ran in, and Adagio also recognized her. She was around the same age as the rainbow-haired attacker, with red and yellow streaked hair, and wore a black leather jacket on top of a sky blue shirt and blue jeans. Immediately, one of the guards let go of the rainbow-haired attacker’s left arm and turned around to grab the other woman. The other guard held both of the rainbow-haired attacker’s arms.
“Rainbow Dash and Sunset Shimmer,” Adagio said. “Never thought I’d see you again. It’s too bad we had to meet under such circumstances.” She looked at Aria, leaning on the wall and wiping the blood from her nose, and sighed. She looked back at the security guards. “Let them go.”
“But Miss Dazzle,” one of them said, “this one attacked attacked you!”
“I know, but I’m the one who’s paying you. Now let them go.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said the guard, who let go of Rainbow Dash. The other guard reluctantly let go of Sunset Shimmer, who walked up to Adagio.
“I swear, I tried to stop her, but she didn’t listen,” said Sunset.
“I believe you,” Adagio replied. “Guards, leave us.”
“But they could be dangero--”
The guards nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” They turned around and walked at the door, shutting it behind them. Adagio now noticed that both Sunset and Rainbow Dash were wearing lanyards with matching identification cards that said ‘Backstage Pass.’
“So was there something you wanted to tell me?” asked Adagio. “I have a hard time believing you got backstage passes to our show just to beat the crap out of us.”
“Wait, so they’re not fans?” Sonata asked cluelessly. Aria facepalmed, and Adagio rolled her eyes.
“Go get dressed, Sonata,” Adagio ordered.
“Oh, right!” Sonata blushed and ran into the bathroom, shutting the door. It was now Sunset’s time to speak up.
“Adagio, we just wanted to ask a few questi--”
“Just so you know, I hate your guts,” Dash interrupted, glaring at Adagio. “All three of you.”
“Really?” Adagio smirked and raised an eyebrow. “Because judging by that enraged look on your face and the fact that you just punched me, I figured you were glad to see me.”
As it turned out, that was a poor choice of words, as Dash screamed and attacked Adagio, pushing her to the ground and pinning her arms down while squatting in her lap. Sunset ran to stop Dash, but Dash pushed her away.
“Rainbow, stop!” Sunset shouted.
Within seconds, the door was pushed open again and the guards rushed inside, ready to remove Dash. But Adagio had an idea.
“Oh, Dashie!” she suddenly moaned out in mock pleasure. “You always like to be the dominant one, don’t you?”
“Huh?” Dash exclaimed, her eyes flicking back and forth as she tried to understand what Adagio was talking about.
“I know you do, you always like being on top.” She grinned and winked at Dash. “Now why don’t you say we do this before the show?”
The combination of Adagio’s provocative clothing, her moans, and Dash’s suggestive position on top of her gave the guards the sense that something very different was happening. They looked at each other, looked at Adagio and Dash, and then shook their heads and left, shutting the door once again. It was then that Dash realized Adagio’s innuendo. She grimaced.
“Ewww! Nasty! You know I don’t swing that way!”
“I don’t either,” Adagio replied, “but if I didn’t do that, then you surely would have been kicked out of the Amphitheater and banned from ever coming back, regardless of whether you’re a superhero around here. Now next time you attack me, I won’t stop them from kicking you out.”
“Uh, should I be watching this?” T.B. spoke up, looking up from his magazine.
“Go back to reading, T.B.,” said Adagio. T.B. did so. Dash groaned as Sunset helped her up.
“Who’s that?” asked Sunset.
“That’s T.B. Player, our bassist,” said Adagio.
“Hi,” T.B. waved to Sunset and Dash.
Dash started to wave back before shaking herself out of it. “Okay, let’s get down to business already.”
“I agree,” Aria interjected. “Why did you attack us? I have a bloody nose and it needs accounting for.”
“To stop you guys from taking over the world!” Dash replied, crossing her arms.
“What makes you think we’re planning on taking over the world?” Adagio asked.
“We’re planning on taking over the world?” Sonata asked, emerging from the bathroom in a pink tutu with a blue mask and Mickey Mouse ears
“Ugh, no…” Adagio looked at Sonata. “…Sonata, what in Celestia’s name are you wearing?”
“Something that would make me look cool!” she replied. “How do I look?”
“Like you’re stoned off your ass,” Aria replied. “Change it.”
“Aww…” She went back into the bathroom and shut the door. Adagio looked back at Dash.
“As I was saying, what makes you think you think we want to take over the world?”
“Because you’re evil!” Dash replied. “You’re sirens, you live by feasting on other people’s emotions and hypnotizing them with your songs! Do you think I’d just forget the CHS Battle of the Bands?”
Adagio looked away, with an ashamed expression on her face, and sighed. “We’re… trying to move past that.”
“Move past that? Hah! If you’re trying to do that, why are you still making music?”
“Well, what else are we supposed to do?”
“I don’t know, go die or something?”
“Rainbow!” Sunset interjected. “Why would you want them to that?”
“I don’t know what sirens do when their amulets are broken,” Dash replied, “but I certainly didn’t think they’d keep making music! And how are they still able to do that, anyway?”
“Simple answer, Dash,” Adagio replied. “We’re still making music, we just aren’t using magical powers to make us sound better. And when have you ever had any problem with cheating by using the magic of another world, anyway?”
Dash’s face started reddening with fury. “You expect me to believe you can make music without your amulets?”
Adagio nodded. “But I must admit, it was very hard to recover after that, ahem, incident.”
“Well, you deserved it.”
“You would think twice before saying that if you knew what we had to do,” Adagio said. “How hard it was for us. Before that, we had the world in our hands. After that, all we had was each other, and we almost didn’t even have that…”
Loud boos and jeers followed us as we ran from Canterlot High School as fast as we could, never looking back at the angry crowd who had chased us away. Smelly scraps of the cafeteria’s lunch that had been thrown at us were in our hair and stained our clothes. I almost couldn’t believe it myself. Our plan was foolproof, we had the entire school under our control, and our songs were better than anyone else’s, yet somehow we were beaten by seven damn high school girls. I clenched my fists in frustration as we ran. I wanted to scream. Maybe I did, I don’t remember.
We ran as far as we could before stopping somewhere in the city, out of breath. I looked back. I couldn’t see the school. I sighed. “We’re… we should be safe. None of them can hurt us now.”
Aria panted a few times before asking, “So… what should we do now?”
“Well, we…” I stopped mid-sentence. After being in control for all these years, for the first time in my life I was absolutely clueless on what to do. “I… I don’t know.”
Aria looked up at me. “You don’t know?”
“N-no… I don’t.”
“We could go somewhere else,” Sonata suggested. “We could try to take over a different school.”
“Awesome idea, Sonata!” Aria sarcastically replied. “All we need are our amulets--oh, right, they’re broken!” She rubbed her temples in a vain attempt to calm down.
“Well, we can go back to our apartment, and we can keep staying there and feed ourselves with human food,” I suggested.
“How are we going to pay for the food?” Aria interrupted. “How much money do we have? Do we have any way of hypnotizing people? We can’t even pay for our apartment.”
“Well, we could try putting the amulets back together…” Sonata weakly suggested.
Aria turned to Sonata and slapped her in the face. “Wake up, you moron! We can’t put the amulets back together, we can’t go to friends for help because we have no friends, we can’t do anything. We have nothing. Nothing, you hear me?”
Sonata began weakly crying, rubbing her slapped cheek. “A-aria…”
“Shut up!” Aria shouted. “Stop crying! I’m tired of this!” Aria then turned to me and grabbed me by the front of my dress. “This is all your fault, Adagio!”
“My fault?” I replied, glaring at her. “How was I supposed to know that they would have a giant freakin’ speaker built into a car? How did they even have that, anyway? What random teenager has a car that can transform into a huge sound system? If I’d known they’d had that, I would have destroyed it and we could have won! And how was I supposed to know that that Shimmer girl would help them?!”
Aria tried to push me to the ground, but I held her back and finally pushed her away. “Ugh, I hate you!” she screamed. “I’m tired of this! I’m done! I’m leaving!” She stormed away.
“Aria, wait!” I shouted to her. “Come back!” In response, she flipped me off and turned around the street corner. I had just about had enough by that point. “Well, fine! If you’re leaving, then I’m leaving too! The Dazzlings are over! Finished!” I turned around and starting walking away.
“Dagi!” Sonata called to me. “Wait up!”
“No, I’m sorry, Sonata,” I replied, “but you’re on your own. We don’t have any powers anymore, we’ll just weigh each other down if we stay together.”
“But Dagi!” I could hear her start to cry again.
“Sonata, crying won’t get you anywhere. Now go. Get out of here!” I could hear her footsteps following me. “Stop it! Stop following me!” But she kept doing it. I finally had enough and started running again for minutes until I was sure I had lost her. I turned around and saw that she was no longer there. I sighed and began walking to our apartment.
I walked inside the apartment building and went up the elevator until we got to the third floor. Sighing, I opened the door to our apartment and stepped inside. I nearly fell on the bed, I was so exhausted. I just wanted to fall asleep for days.
My stomach growled, and I groaned. “Ugh, I’m hungry. Well, this shouldn’t be too bad, I can just sing to some more people and feed on their… oh, right.”
And that was when it really hit me. I can’t feed on these people anymore. I can’t even sing to them. In a few days, I’d probably get evicted from the apartment, and I won’t be able to pay for it, much less pay to feed myself. It almost felt like I had lost a limb, or an essential part to my body.
For the first time in my life, I felt fearful.
“GRRAAAHHHH!” I yelled. “God dammit!”
I got up out of bed and picked up the table in our apartment, throwing it at the wall and letting its contents smash against it. Next, I pushed over the couch in frustration, and knocked some of the photographs off the wall. I yanked off the useless necklace that once bore my amulet and threw it in the trashcan. Finally, I started grabbing at the front of my own dress. “Stupid little piece of…”
After a lot of tugging, it tore open right down the middle. I tugged at the sleeve and tore it right off, then I followed with the next sleeve, and continued ripping it up until it was no longer recognizable as a dress, just as some dirty, destroyed rags.
I fell down on the apartment floor, crying silently. Destroying things wouldn’t help with my problem, nor would swearing. I was lost and alone, and the three only people who could help were all gone.
After a few minutes, I stood up and removed what was left of my dress, throwing it in the trashcan on top of the necklace. I then took off my boots and underwear and went into the bathroom to take a nice hot shower. After I dried myself off, I went back into the main room and looked at all our stuff. If we’d have to move out, we’d need to start packing.
It was then that I heard someone calling outside. “Dagi?” It was Sonata! She was looking for me! “Ari?” And looking for Aria too. I ran to the window and opened it.
She was wandering aimlessly in the streets, looking for us, when she looked up at me, hanging out the window. “Adagio! You’re naked!”
I wrapped an arm around my chest. “That’s not important. Look, I’m sorry I abandoned you. If we’re going to do anything, we have to stick together.”
Sonata sighed. “I know… but what about Aria? I have to go find her!”
“Sonata, I’m sure she’ll come around. She’ll just take a little longer to do so. Come inside, she knows where we live.”
“But what if she’s been kidnapped? Or got mugged? Or was mugged by the people who kidnapped her?”
Finally, I gave in. Even though Aria treated us badly earlier, I still cared about her and her well-being. “Fine, you know what? I’ll go look for her. It can’t hurt.”
Sonata smiled. “Thanks.”
Within a few minutes, I was dressed and met Sonata outside the front door of the apartment building. “Okay, where do you think she would be? We can’t search the entire town in one night.”
“Well, put yourself in her shoes. If you had just been thwarted by some dumb teenagers in your plan to take over the world, and lost the source of your magical powers as well as your ability to even sing; you have no food, no money, and no way of making it. Where would you go?”
I facepalmed. “Sonata, that does describe me. That describes all of us. We could all go anywhere”
“I know! But also imagine that you’re a big meanie like Aria. What would be the first thing you would do?”
Sonata and I thought about it for about three seconds before we both said, “Getting wasted.”
It took us a few hours scouting bars to look for our friend. We finally found her in the corner of the fourth bar we went to. She was passed out in the corner of the room, her dress frazzled, and with a bottle of straight vodka in her hand. We had to find the money to pay for it, then picked her up and carried her back to the apartment. This was going to be a long night.
“So you claim you had no money, but then you went to a bar and got drunk?” Dash’s arms were crossed. “Because that’s not a waste of money.”
“Hey,” Aria pointed at Dash. “If you were in my position, you’d do the same.”
“Blecch, no I wouldn’t.” Dash stuck her tongue out and pointed down her throat in the ‘gag me’ motion. “Can’t stand the taste of alcohol.”
“I didn’t at first, either. It’s an acquired taste. Took a few centuries, though.”
“…rrright.” Dash shook her head. “Well, I still don’t have any reason to trust you.”
“Well, we are sirens from another world,” Sonata interrupted as she ran in from the bathroom wearing a red jumpsuit with black lining. “How do I look?”
Aria looked up and down at her. “Certainly less slutty than Adagio.”
“Hey!” Adagio interjected.
“Eh, how will you get out of it?” Sunset asked. “What if you have to pee? That can’t be very convenient.”
Sonata frowned. “You’re right. Time to change again.” She ran back into the bathroom and closed the door. Adagio shook her head.
“For such a ditzy girl, Sonata is still quite a trooper. Always keeping an optimistic view on life even when things got bad. And they did get really bad for a while. We tried taking other jobs for a while, but it never paid enough to pay for food and the apartment. We tried selling some of our stuff, we only wore one set of clothing for days without washing them, we even got our hair cut and sold our locks, but nothing would pay for it. And all that time, Sonata stayed happy and clueless.”
Dash looked at Adagio and Aria. “Your hair must have grown back quickly.”
“Yes, but Aria chose to keep it short,” said Adagio. Aria nodded.
“But all this still doesn’t answer my question,” Dash said. “How did you get your magic back?”
“I already told you, we never got our magic back.”
“Then how did you lure everyone into liking you?”
“I don’t know. Maybe we just have good music and know how to play it well?”
“They do have centuries of experience in songwriting,” said Sunset.
“I didn’t ask you,” Dash snapped at Sunset. “Besides, if you don’t have your magic, how did you learn to sing?”
“I was getting to that,” Adagio said. “We were stuck on the streets, homeless and foodless, beggars without a place in this city. But it was just our luck that we would meet a woman who was willing to help us.”
“Who?” Dash asked. “Who was this woman? How am I supposed to know you didn’t use your powers to hypnotize her into helping you?”
“She has asked to be unnamed, so I’ll just call her… um… Dawn. Vivian Dawn.”
“Pfft, Vivian Dawn. That sounds like the fake name a B movie director would use.”
“As I said, she wishes to remain anonymous. But like I said, she was a big help. I doubt we would have made it without her. If she hadn’t shown up, the next thing we would have sold was our bodies…” She sighed. “When she found us starving on the streets, she let us stay with her, sleep in her room with her, eat her food… and it was at her place that we taught ourselves to play instruments…”
It was the second week of staying at Vivian’s apartment, and we were still recovering. We had gained back some of the weight we had lost during our homelessness, we had cleaned ourselves up, our hair was starting to grow back, and things were looking up for us. Still, we had the problem of not having many skills to support ourselves, and the loss of our magic had taken its toll on us. I felt like a bird in a cage, confined in what I could do, unable to break free and fly like I had in the past.
Vivian had told us that if we were going to stay with her, we would have to make some money to help her pay the rent. She had a low-paying job and some friends who would help her pay for food, but sometimes she would be running low. Currently, she was gone and we were at her apartment alone, discussing possibilities.
“We could wait tables,” Sonata suggested.
“We already did that once, Sonata,” I reminded her. “The pay was too low, remember?”
“Also, you screwed up and dropped all the food on an important customer, which got us all fired,” Aria snarked, her arms crossed as usual.
“Oh yeah, now I remember.” Sonata scratched her chin. “Gee, I hope they weren’t too mad at us.”
I sighed. “Well, maybe we could sell something else.”
“What?” asked Aria. “We’ve already sold a lot of our clothing, our car, and our beautiful hair.” She tugged at the short, sorry excuse for hair that was on her head. “Which, by the way, I’m still not forgiving you for.”
“It was necessary!” I replied.
“But we spent so long growing it!” Sonata whined. “Did it have to be so short? I look like a boy now!”
“Look, I hate it too,” I admitted, running my hands through my own hair, as my fingertips scraped the top of my head. “But our hair will grow back. There are more important things than that. We need to come up with a way of making money.”
We all went silent as we thought. I looked out the window at the cold, gunmetal gray sky. It looked like what I felt. The window was smudged, blurring my view. Just a bit of cleaning would clear it up, but I just did not care. I turned my gaze back into the room, the room we now lived in with Vivian. It was a complete mess, just like our lives. It could be worse, I thought. At least it’s not raining.
I saw Sonata looking off to the corner of the room, where I saw some musical instruments. Vivian was in a band, and sometimes they would practice here in the afternoons, during which we would leave and go to a fast food place, or hang out in the Canterlot Park, or just wander the city so not to disturb them. Sonata sighed.
“I wish we could still make music.”
Looking among Vivian’s drums, keyboards, guitars, and bass guitars, I had a thought. “Sonata,” I began, “the destruction of our amulets only stopped us from singing. But it never stopped us from making music altogether. We can still play instruments, the amulets never stopped us from doing that.”
“Oh, great, we can play instruments,” Aria sarcastically muttered. “One problem, Einstein: do any of us know how to play these instruments?”
Damn, she had a point. “Well, uh, we can teach ourselves, that can’t take to long. Besides, Aria, didn’t you learn how to play the piano at some point during our stay here?”
“Yes, but that was years ago, and does this look like a normal piano to you?” She pointed at a keytar that was leaning against the wall.
“Come on, Aria, it can’t be that hard to learn these.” I picked up Vivian’s guitar and held it in a guitar-playing position, with the neck gripped in my left hand and my right hand on the strings. “Look at people on TV, they play it without even breaking a sweat. It’s easy! Just hold it like this, press your fingers down on the neck, and strum!”
I did so, but it didn’t make a sound. Aria smirked. “Well, it doesn’t sound terrible, mainly because I don’t hear anything.”
“Har har.” I walked over to a guitar amp and grabbed an instrument cable from on top of it, plugging one end into the guitar and the other into the amp, which I proceeded to turn on. “Now, it should work! Piece of cake!” I attempted to strum the chord again, and it made a sound alright--a deafening feedback that nearly made me drop the guitar. I keeled over and screamed, pressing my hands to my ears. “Turn it off! Turn it off!”
Aria smiled and turned off the amp. “Piece of cake, huh?”
I glared at her. “Okay, here.” I handed her the guitar. “I dare you to do better.”
“Pfft, okay.” Aria grabbed the guitar and turned the amp on again, and I knew she wouldn’t be any better. Sure enough, with one strum a discordant noise blasted from the amp, as she struggled to play more chords. “Damn thing must be broken,” I heard her mutter. I laughed in response. Aria growled at me. “It’s not funny!”
“Sweet Celestia! What are you doing with my guitar?”
All three of us turned to the doorway to see Vivian, standing in her doorway with her eyes wide with surprise and her mouth open, the corner of her lips turned downward. At this point, I was sure this would be the end. It was basically a rule that we wouldn’t touch Vivian’s stuff, at the risk of being kicked out of her apartment. I started panicking when she shut the door behind her and started walking towards Aria.
“No, no, no!” she shouted, grabbing the guitar from Aria.
“I’m sorry--” I started to say.
“You’re doing it all wrong!” Vivian held the guitar in her hands. “Here, let me show you how it’s done.” After tuning up the strings, she played an amazing, nearly two-minute-long guitar solo without missing a beat or a note. My jaw dropped and my eyes grew wide; how could she possibly play such an awesome solo and make it look so easy? Aria crossed her arms and looked away, though the blush on her face told me that she was impressed. As Vivian finished, Sonata clapped her hands, grinning.
“That was really cool!” she said.
“Thanks.” Vivian shut off her amp. “Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to learn guitar?”
I shook myself out of it. “Well, I didn’t until just before you got back. We were talking about how we can still music without being able to sing. It… it looked so easy, I thought we could just teach ourselves in no time. Also, I figured since you have so much else, you wouldn’t have time to teach us.”
Vivian set her guitar down. “Are you sure you want to do this? Absolutely sure? I can tell you right now, it won’t be easy.”
I looked at Aria and Sonata, who both nodded. “Yes,” I replied to Vivian. “We realize the challenge and are willing to accept it. As a great song once said, ‘if you want to be a singer or play guitar, you gotta sweat or you won’t get far.’”
“‘Because it’s never too late to work nine to five,’” Vivian finished the lyric, smiling. “Tell you what. If you’re really committed to this, then I won’t make you work jobs to pay the rent, and in return, you must show that you’re really dedicated to learning guitar and let me teach you everything I know. Okay?”
I nodded. “We’ll do it.”
Aria shrugged. “Sure, why not. Not like I have anything better to do.”
Sonata smiled. “Yay!”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Dash interrupted. “You just said that Vivian taught you all guitar, but what about Sonata? She isn’t a guitarist, she’s a drummer!”
“My hands are too small!” Sonata’s voice came from the bathroom.
“My hands are too small to reach the string thingies on the guitar, so after about two weeks of trying to learn I gave up and switched to the drums. Much easier!”
The bathroom door opened and Sonata came out wearing a pair of gray shorts… and nothing on top. Dash and Sunset’s faces both turned red upon seeing Sonata’s half-naked body. Aria just groaned.
“Sonata, where’s your shirt?”
“I’m going for the Taylor Hawkins shirtless look!” Sonata replied, smiling. “I think it fits me well, what do you think?”
“Ugh, it’s worse than Adagio!”
“I like it!” said T.B., looking up from his newspaper and grinning.
“Nobody cares about you, you’re the bassist!” Aria pushed Sonata back into the bathroom and shut the door. “We’ll never get another gig if you go out like that! Put on a shirt!”
“Aw, this is no fun,” Sonata’s voice whimpered from the bathroom. Adagio turned back to Dash.
“I assume you have no more questions?” she asked. “Because we need to be on stage very soon.”
Dash blocked the door. “You aren’t going anywhere. Not until I get all my questions answered.”
Sunset walked toward her. “Don’t you think this is a bit much, Rainbow?”
“Hey, would you rather them take over the world? I think they can afford to be late to the show to prevent that from happening.”
“I already told you, we’re not like that anymore!” Adagio replied.
“Yeah, right. You tried to take over the world once and you’ve been wanting revenge ever since.” Dash crossed her arms. “You’re still evil until I have proof otherwise.”
“Ugh, what more do you want to know?” Adagio asked.
“You never answered my earlier question about how you were able to sing without your magic. Care to explain? Or did you find a way to use magic without the amulets?”
“I was right about to get to that before you interrupted me earlier.” Adagio raised an eyebrow at Dash, who looked away, blushing ever so slightly.
“S-sorry. Go on.”
The three of us got better at our instruments as the weeks and months passed. As we improved, we started going to the park and playing quietly, and people would come and leave tips which we’d use to play our rent, but it wasn’t enough. Eventually, we would have to buy our own instruments, as Vivian’s band would need theirs again soon. So we started looking for local clubs where we could play some small-time shows, but most of them weren’t interested unless we could sing as well as playing instruments.
I had considered asking Vivian to sing for us for a while. Even though she was in her own band, I just needed her as a temporary member until we found an actual singer. So one day before she gave us her daily music lesson, I decided to approach her about it.
“Uh, Viv!” I grabbed some sheet music for a new song I had been working on and walked to the kitchen area. Vivian was making a fresh pot, which Sonata was staring at happily.
“Yeah, what’s up?” Vivian had gotten used to Sonata’s newfound love of coffee; for us, however, it took some getting used to, as she never was fond of it in the past and now couldn’t get enough of it.
“Uh, we feel we’re good enough that we’re ready to start playing in some local clubs,” I replied.
Vivian smiled. “I agree, you have gotten very good at your instruments, and playing at clubs would bring in a lot of money. But who’s your singer?”
“That’s the big problem, isn’t it?” I sighed. “A few people have said they want to jam with us, even a bassist who claims he’s pretty good, but none of them are singers, which is actually what I wanted to talk to you about.”
She picked up the coffee pot and poured it into some mugs that she had set on the counter. “Do you want me to be a singer?”
“That would be great. I’ve heard you sing before and you’re really good. We ju--”
“Fresh POTS!” Sonata shouted with glee as she slugged down her coffee. Vivian raised an eyebrow, then looked at us.
“Well, I don’t know how much help I could be. I’m also the lead singer of my own band, so that can get pretty demanding.”
“Don’t worry, we just need a temporary singer until we can find a full-time one. Please?” I hated to ask this favor of her after all she had already done for us, but to my relief, she nodded.
“Okay, I’ll give it a try. Do you have any songs I could try out?”
“I have a new one right here.” I handed the sheets of paper to her. “Do you think you can sing this?”
She looked over the pages and nodded. “I could give it a try.”
I smiled. “Great! Let’s go!”
I regrouped with Aria, who was playing a little riff on guitar. I grabbed my own and plugged it in as Sonata ran to the drums. Vivian walked up to the microphone, looking at the sheet music.
“Ready?” I asked, and Vivian nodded. Sonata started playing the beat on the drums, and Aria and I began strumming the main riff on guitar.
“Oh, it’s a little faster than I’m used to,” Vivian admitted. “And louder.”
She cleared her throat and started singing the lyrics as she read them on the pages. After a few seconds, however, I felt she wasn’t doing it right, and wasn’t all into it. “Okay, stop, stop,” I shouted over the noise, as Sonata and Aria came to a halt in playing.
“What is it?” Vivian asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “You’re not singing it how I intended it to be sung.”
“I’m singing it how you wrote it.” She pointed at the sheet.
“Yeah, well, try to sound a little more angry. Get into it more.”
Vivian sighed as we began again. She resumed singing the lyrics on the pages, and tried singing them more with a punk rock sound, but it still felt kind of off, like she wasn’t as confident singing them. As soon as we started the chorus, she wasn’t even on the right beat, so I felt I had to stop her.
“Stop!” I shouted over the music. The song fell apart and Aria glared at me.
“What now?” Vivian asked, confused.
“You’re singing the chorus wrong,” I explained. “It’s on the back beat. You’re singing it on the front beat.”
“I’m sorry! I don’t know how to sing this song!”
“Can you at least try to sing it correctly?!” I snapped at her. That might not have been a very good idea. She looked away, and I could tell she felt insulted. “Look, Vivian, I’m sorry for snapping at you, but we’re really desperate here.”
“Well, it’s your song, could you show me how you would want me to sing it?” she asked.
“Sure, if that would make it easier for you.”
I looked at Sonata, who started up the beat again, but less enthusiastically. I started strumming the chords on my guitar. Determined to show Vivian just how I wanted it to be sung, I walked up to the microphone and began singing it for her to demonstrate. I shut my eyes and belted out the lyrics with passion in my voice. As soon as I got to the chorus, I even began bobbing my head up and down, but it was around that time that I realized something: Aria and Sonata had stopped playing along with me.
I opened my eyes and turned to them. “What gives?” I asked. “Why did you stop?” They just stared back at me wide-eyed, open-mouthed. Confused as I was, I turned to Vivian, who was looking at me in the same way. “What’s going on?”
“Adagio,” she began quietly, “could you sing a line from that song for me?”
“Uh, sure.” I started singing the pre-chorus a capella, but stopped mid-line. What was happening? I was actually sounding good, and in tune! “I must be dreaming…” I pinched myself. Nope, definitely not dreaming. I sung another line. It came out sounding almost exactly like my voice when I had the amulets. “Aria, could you sing something?”
The usually bitter Aria, now shocked, simply nodded and cleared her throat. “Oh-whoa, oh-whoa, we didn’t know that you fell…” She stopped, eyes growing even wider. “It… it’s back!”
“Ooh, let me try!” Sonata grinned. “We’ve got the music, makes you move it, got the song that makes you lose it… oh my gosh! We… we can sing! We can sing!!”
I could feel my lips curling up into a smile. I turned to Vivian. “I’m sorry, Viv, I don’t think we’ll need a singer for our group anymore.”
Vivian smiled. “I totally understand. In fact, I’d better leave you alone for a few hours; you three girls have some practicing to do.”
“Hold on a second!” Dash shouted.
“Ugh, what now?” Adagio was clearly getting more and more angry with Dash as the time passed.
“You expect me to believe that, after relying for centuries on those Auto-Tune amulets to help you sing well, you just suddenly regain your singing voices like that?”
“Actually,” Adagio began, “I believe that we never lost our singing voices altogether. The amulets gave us confidence, the charisma that went along with our voices--and magic, of course--to help us lure the audience and captivate everyone. When they were destroyed, we lost that confidence and panicked, thus making us sound horrible. Now does that--”
“Well, I don’t buy it!” Dash interrupted. “Maybe there’s some residual magic left over from the Battle, which you’re using to take over the world!”
“I already told you, we’re not like that anymore!” Adagio growled.
“Really? Then prove it.”
“How? We’ve already told you everything!”
“How did you three go from playing in someone else’s apartment to… well, this?” She pointed in the direction of the crowd noises. “This is the New Canterlot Amphitheater, the biggest music venue in town! Not just any band plays here unless they had some way of hypnotizing the audience!”
“Simple: we played at small-time local clubs until a recording label noticed us, then we started opening for other bands, and built up our fanbase until--”
“But what about that guy?” Dash pointed at T.B., who looked up and waved. “How did you convince him to join you after what happened at Canterlot High?”
“Maybe he didn’t hear about what happened at first. The news never really escaped the school, and by the time we did tell him, he didn’t really care.”
“Didn’t really care?!” Dash’s face got red with anger. “You are evil sirens from another world! You tried to take over this world! You turned our friends against us! And you expect me to believe that he didn’t… really… care?!”
This made Aria furious. “Didn’t you hear what Adagio said?” Her fists clenched. “We… are not like that anymore!”
“Once a villain, always a villain!”
Dash swung at Adagio. Aria screamed and lunged at Dash, tackling her to the ground. “Get out!”
“Not until you prove to me that you aren’t evil!” Dash pushed Aria over and pinned her down. “Tell me, who is this Vivian Dawn?”
“Rainbow!” Sunset interjected.
“Where can I find her?” Dash shouted, ignoring Sunset. “How do I know you didn’t hypnotize her just like you did with Canterlot High?”
“How many times do we have to tell you?” Adagio replied. “We don’t have our powers anymore!” She tried to push Dash off of Aria, but Dash, being more athletic, easily pushed her away.
“Rainbow, stop!” Sunset tried again.
“No!” Dash pressed her hands around Aria’s neck, squeezing tightly. Her intention was to kill. “You know these three are dangerous! Why do you want to stop me?”
“Because…” Sunset sighed. “Because I am Vivian Dawn!”
Dash didn’t say anything for a second. She turned to Sunset. “What?”
“You heard me.” Sunset frowned. “Now let go of Aria.”
Dash let go of Aria’s neck and stood up. Aria gasped for breath, falling back onto the floor.
“Sunset,” Dash was at a loss for words, “are… are you serious?”
At that moment, the bathroom door re-opened and Sonata walked out, wearing the T-shirt and jeans she had been wearing earlier. “Hey, guys, how abou--oh my gosh, Aria, are you alright?” She ran to Aria and bent down to help her.
Sunset sighed and reluctantly nodded. “Yes, I am. When I found them, they were on the street, dirty, starving, nearly bald… I had to help them, what else was I supposed to do? But I had to keep it a secret from the rest of you, because if I told you, well…”
Dash was stunned. “I-I don’t believe it!” she stuttered out. “Y-you’re lying! You’re trying to protect them!”
“Am I?” Sunset pulled out her cell phone from her pocket and pulled out a picture. “Then how do you explain this?” And showed Dash a picture of her taking a picture of themselves with none other than Aria, Adagio and Sonata. Sunset was grinning, Adagio was smirking, Aria was crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow, and Sonata was sticking her tongue out. But the most noticeable feature was that the three sirens’ hair was much shorter, in the process of growing back.
Dash’s eyes widened and she gasped. “That… that…” She started backing away, back to the door. “You… they… b-but why?”
“Hey, you offered me a second chance, didn’t you?” Sunset asked.
“B-but you were different!” Dash didn’t know how to feel about her friend anymore.
“Was I?” Sunset put her phone away. “At my best I was mean and manipulative. At my worst, I destroyed part of the school and hypnotized everyone with magical powers to turn into my mindless slaves. I gave you and your friends no reason to want to forgive me, but you did anyway, just out of the kindness of your hearts. These three didn’t do anything worse than what I did. They had intentions to take over the world, but they failed, and now they’re simply trying to live the rest of their lives by working hard at what they love. Just because they acted a certain way in the past doesn’t mean they will remain that way. If I got a second chance, shouldn’t they get one too?”
Dash looked at Sonata, who was helping Aria off the ground, and Adagio, who stood beside Sunset. She then looked at Sunset, who gave Dash a pleading look. Finally, Dash looked down, frowning. “I… I have to think about this.”
“Could you make it quick?” Adagio asked. “I’d hate to keep my fans waiting.”
Dash looked back up at Adagio, then smirked. “You know what? In a way, you remind me of myself.” She walked up to Adagio. “And to be honest, your music was catchier. I still occasionally catch myself singing it to myself.” She held out a hand for Adagio to shake. “I think I’m willing to forgive you.”
Adagio started to return the handshake, but Sonata pushed her out of the way and attacked Dash with a hug. “Oh my gosh, thank you! Thank you so much! I’m so happy I could kiss you!” And gave a nice big peck on Dash’s cheek.
Dash cringed at that. “Alright, get off already.” And pushed Sonata away from her.
“Okie-dokie!” Sonata then turned to Aria. “Uh, I couldn’t figure out what to wear, is this okay?”
For once, Aria smiled. “I think it looks great on you.”
This prompted Dash to blush and rub the back of her head. “Er, Aria, I’m sorry I pinned you down and tried to choke you.”
Aria shrugged. “Forget about it. I’ve felt worse, anyway.”
“Uh, girls?” Everyone looked at T.B., who was now holding his bass. “Shouldn’t we go on stage now? We’re already running ten minutes late.”
“I think that sounds like a good idea.” Adagio grabbed her own guitar and put on a headset microphone. “Sunset, Dash, I hate to break up this reunion, but we have a concert to get to.”
Dash opened the door for them. “Well, go on. I’m not stopping you.”
Adagio smiled. “Thanks.” She started to head out the door, but Sunset put a hand on her shoulder to stop her.
“Hey,” Sunset began, “break a leg out there.”
Adagio nodded. “I intend to.” She walked out the door. Aria and Sonata, who had grabbed their own instruments, followed them. T.B. headed out shortly afterwards. Dash and Sunset were now alone together.
“You know, I’m proud of you,” said Sunset. “It took a lot of guts to forgive them like you did.”
“Don’t be too proud,” Dash replied. “You took less time to forgive them that I did.”
“True, but I knew how they felt.”
“Fair enough.” Dash sighed. “So what do we do now?”
“Maybe we should watch the show? After all, we didn’t get backstage passes just to beat the crap out of them.”
They could hear Adagio’s voice shouting to the audience, “Hello, Canterlot!” and the subsequent roar of the audience. Dash smirked.
“That sounds like a good idea.”
And the two women headed out the door to watch the Dazzlings’ concert.