Title: Sweet Valley Twins: Friendship is Magic
Summary: All the trouble started right after Lila saw the purple Unicorn in her backyard.
Dedication: For Raven and @buffywatcher23
Timeline: Factory reset, just like almost any book.
Notes: This won’t be as aggressively meta as my last NaNo, so if you were anticipating me leaning so hard on the fourth wall that it falls over, I’m sorry. This still will be a bit sassy, but honestly, I peaked with the Hunger Games crossover. Wait. No, I lied. I couldn’t get past the first page without doing my usual thing.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
22,262 / 50,000 words. 45% done!
“Let’s ride!” Megan cried, and hopped on Applejack’s back. Applejack instantly bucked Megan off. Megan landed face first on the sidewalk. Rita couldn’t help but feel a moment of satisfaction when that happened.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, ma’am, but I really wasn’t expecting that.” Applejack said. “I’m not used to critters on my back, except for my young sister.”
“Talk later,” Twilight said. “Run now!”
They all sprinted back the way they’d come, up a mild hill that led back to the school. Rita tried to remember everything she knew about the Smooze. It wasn’t a truly separate living being, but more of an ooze that was temporarily given life by the person who controlled it. Although it could defy gravity, unless it (or its controller) actively chose otherwise, gravity would govern its flow. So up hill was the right decision initially.
Even though it had been many years since Rita had helped her sister and mother unleash the Smooze on Ponyland, she could remember it clearly. It was very different being on the ground, running away from it, rather than riding the Smooze in a boat.
Megan stumbled and Rita automatically threw out of an arm to keep her upright. Megan opened her mouth to thank her, glared, and kept running.
They would never be friends, Rita thought. She had spent months being furious with some faceless anonymous woman named Megan, who had put Tammy through the ringer.
Tammy had been so withdrawn when Rita first met her. Rita didn’t know the specifics of her history—if she’d have known it was ponies, Rita would have been far more careful—but she did know that Tammy had been forced into adhering to a delusion of her mother’s. Everything she wanted had to follow the narrative of her mother’s childhood delusion.
Tammy’s birthday was looming, and every time Rita made a suggestion, Tammy got a haunted look in her eye. Every suggestion Rita made—swimming, roller-skating, a theme park, anything a girl turning thirteen might enjoy—provoked a look of distrust and calculation, as Tammy tried to figure out why Rita wanted her to do that particular thing.
But they’d made some great steps forward. Tammy always responded well when Rita asked about her homework—good or bad, Tammy seemed to be delighted to tell her and watch Rita’s reaction. She seemed to like sitting at the end of the kitchen counter and listening to Rita talk about her day. Even the mundane stories about running out of potatoes on beef and potato stew day seemed to interest her.
And now Rita knew that the Megan Williams that gave birth to Tammy was the same Megan who had loved Ponyland so much everything made so much sense. Rita, who had never loved Ponyland at the time, still wistfully remembered the place. Everything was very simple back there. You were good or evil. You did good or evil. Everything else just took care of itself. There was no stress of working, balancing your checkbook, having to do last-minute overtime because somebody had gotten sick, vacuuming the living room, unclogging drains—none of that in Ponyland. If you were good, everything was clean. If you were evil, everything was dark and dank and dreary.
For someone on the side of good, Ponyland was a perfect utopia. Especially since good easily thwarted evil. (Rita had a vague theory that Majesty’s presence kept that rule solidly in place. If Majesty could open up pathways between worlds, then she was far more powerful than just a regular unicorn born to be queen.)
Of course Megan couldn’t get over Ponyland. She had been a hero, she had been beloved, she had been surrounded by friends.
Then she’d lost it all.
And she’d taken it out on Tammy. Not out of cruelty, but out of a deep immovable sadness.
(Rita had done incredibly well on the empathy section of her courses.)
But it was just so infuriating that everything had converged to set Tammy back to square one. Rita could understand Megan, but she couldn’t help but be furious with her. She was damaged by the ponies thoughtlessly dragging her into their world, and even more so by Majesty severing the path. But that damage had spilled over on to Tammy, the most important person in Rita’s world.
Rita could well imagine how Tammy was feeling right now.
They reached the school and one of the twins took the lead, ushering them into the lunchroom, where people were trickling in anxiously.
Rita found a seat and took a moment to catch her breath. The lunchroom was a hub of tween panic. Clusters of children were grouped together. A set of worried looking parents and teachers conferred in a corner. A woman who looked like an older version of the twins dozed in a corner. As Rita watched, she bolted upright, glanced around and when it seemed she’d ascertained that nobody was looking in her direction, she took a quick nip from a silver flask from her purse, before settling back to her doze.
Rita’s gaze moved on. The lunchroom was a fairly large room with two doors and large windows along one wall. Beyond them was a glass-walled walkway that led with doors off leading to halls and classrooms, and one exterior door. It didn’t fill Rita with much hope that all that stood between the kids and the Smooze was two layers of glass and some supports. The Smooze was starting to converge, splatting hard against the windows of the walkway and rising slowly. It was at ankle-height, but rising quickly.
A chubby girl with large glasses stood at the lunchroom door, gazing out at the soon-to-be-submerged walkway with a look of horror and determination of her face.
“The Smooze,” Twilight said. “It can be defeated by a song of love, right? Can anyone do that?”
Twilight looked as if she wasn’t having a good day. Rita had seen the look in her eye when she apologized. She had been misled. Ponies always did assume the best in people—except for Rita, and she couldn’t really blame them for that. Setting the Smooze on them had been devastating.
“It wasn’t a song,” Megan said. “It was the Flutter Ponies. They used Utter Flutter against the Smooze and dropped it back into the Volcano of Gloom.”
“What are the Flutter Ponies?” Twilight asked.
Megan straightened up, apparently glad to be of use again. “They are ponies with gossamer wings. When they fluttered their wings, it caused a magical wind that scooped up the Smooze. We need to fetch them!”
Twilight looked blank, and then looked over at Applejack. “Have you heard of anypony like that?”
Applejack shook her head. “Nearest I can think of is when you created wings for Rarity, would that do it?”
“No, you can’t make them, they’re a species.” Megan rubbed her forehead, then looked pleased. “We should go on a quest. We shall find the Flutter Ponies and save Sweet Valley! Who’s with me?”
“I’m with you!” Elizabeth cried. “I’ll do anything to save Sweet Valley, it’s the best town in the world!”
“The gunk is rising out there,” reported the girl by the door. The Smooze was at knee height now. “How much pressure can that glass take?”
Twilight moved through the door and opened the exterior door a crack. She fired a bolt of magic from her horn. The Smooze surged backwards to avoid the bolt, but bulged higher to the side in a surge that took it to shoulder height against the glass walkway. Twilight tried several more times, firing magic from her horn in different colors, all to the same end. The Smooze would not be hurt by her magic. She slammed the door shut again, and fired another bolt of magic at the lock, which Rita assumed was some kind of locking or strengthening spell.
“We don’t have time for a quest!” Twilight announced. She moved towards Rita. “Rita, you know about the Smooze, how do we stop it?”
Rita shrugged. “Megan’s right, last time the Flutter Ponies—”
“That’s not the question!” Megan snapped. “The question is where did it come from, and the answer is Draggle!”
“Who cares where it came from?” Jessica said. “I have tickets for a Johnny Buck concert next Saturday and I am not missing it because of all that slime. The question is most definitely how to get rid of it.”
“Erm,” Twilight said, with a hesitant look on her face. “It’s not a bad question. If we knew where it came from, maybe it will give us a way to fight it that doesn’t rely on mythic creatures.” She gave Rita a smile. “But we all know that it didn’t come from Rita, because she was with us the whole time.”
“Actually,” said Rita. “It was me.”
“I knew it!” Megan crowed triumphantly.
Twilight looked confused. “But you were with us?”
“I didn’t actually create the Smooze,” Rita explained. “But it was my spellbook. When I left Ponyland, I wanted to take something that reminded me of who I was—maybe even my family, I don’t know—and I took it with me. There’s no magic in this world, so it shouldn’t have worked—and there’s definitely no Flume in this world.”
“And so some random person broke into your house, stole your spellbook, and created the Smooze? A likely story!” Megan sniffed. Elizabeth nodded firmly and took a step closer to Megan.
Rita sighed. “Sure, let’s go with that.” Rita kept the spellbook on the far end of the top shelf of the bookshelf in the living room. The emergency fund was kept on the third shelf in the middle. Tammy must have found the book while looking for the money. In theory, anyone born in this world shouldn’t have been able to read it anyway, but clearly being Megan’s child made a difference to that rule. Majesty had known about the book, and was in fact grateful that it would be taken out of Ponyland and into a world where it couldn’t cause any damage. Even Majesty didn’t see something like this happening, Rita thought.
“Are we really supposed to believe that?” Elizabeth asked, looking at Megan for approval. They both smiled at each other.
Twilight moved to Rita’s side and placed a hoof on her forearm. “How could this have happened?”
Rita placed her head in her hands. “Only someone touched by Ponyland could even read the book, let alone create the Smooze.”
“So if you didn’t do it, are you saying I did?” Megan snapped. “Of all of the insulting things to say! I have always loved Ponyland.”
“You’ve always loved Ponyland more than your own daughter!” Rita suddenly leapt to her feet and crossed the space between them. “Everything you ever said to Tammy was about Ponyland, everything you wanted her to know was about Ponyland, she was drenched in Ponyland. That’s how she managed to read the book!”
Megan drew her hand back and delivered a stinging slap to Rita’s cheek.
Rita didn’t even flinch. “I’m going to find Tammy. She needs me.” She turned on her heel and strode towards the door.
“You can’t go out there!” said the kid by the door. Rita noticed that behind the oversize glasses, she had a pretty face and an intelligent look in her eyes. “You’ll get hurt.”
Rita didn’t care if she had to wade through knee-high Smooze to get to Tammy, she was going to do it. “It doesn’t hurt if it touches you, but it makes you sad and disagreeable, so don’t let anyone touch it. If they do get Smoozed, don’t let the Smooze touch anything else, and don’t take it to heart if they’re mean. They don’t mean it.”
The girl nodded. “I’m on it.”
“We’re coming with you,” Twilight announced, with Applejack at her side. “I think I can use a combinations of the spells I did before to push it back. We could have a small unsmoozed area to walk in until we find Tammy.” She sighed. “If only we had all of the Elements of Harmony together, I think we could make the area larger.”
“So why don’t we just call the rest of our friends here?” Applejack asked.
“The map may have meant well, but things are going wrong here,” Applejack interrupted. “Sometimes you have to ask for help, and I think now’s a good time.”
Twilight nodded. “I think you’re right. I’ll summon them.” She sent up a waft of purple magic, like smoke set with stars. It circled the ceiling of the room, looking for an exit. It squeezed through the crack between the door and the molding, into the walkway and repeated the process with the exterior door.
As it flew escaped outside, the Smooze morphed into a slimy purple hand, which made a grab for Twilight’s message. It closed around it but, the magic passed harmlessly through it. The Smooze gave an indignant groan.
“That’s that done, I’m glad the Smooze couldn’t touch the message. We should go now.”
“I think you should stay here,” Rita said. “You need to protect the kids.”
Twilight moved forward and spoke in a low tone. “If you think that Tammy may be involved in this, helping you is the best way to protect them.”
Elizabeth, Jessica and Megan joined them by the door. “We’ve decided,” Elizabeth announced in an imperious tone, “that we’re going to search for the Flutter Ponies. So we need to get to Lila’s backyard, which is where the ponies came through from Ponyland.”
“It’s Equestria now,” Twilight corrected, and Rita was pretty sure it was automatic. “It hasn’t been Ponyland for thousands of years. The name was changed to incorporate the fact the Earth Ponies, Pegasi and Unicorns lived in harmony. It was felt that the old name…” She shook her head. “Never mind.”
Megan chipped in. “I’m sure we can find them. They used to live in Flutter Valley, which was not far from Dream Valley, so we’ll start there.”
“Neither of those places exist,” Twilight said. “I’m sorry, but this just isn’t a feasible plan. We don’t know where those places were in Equestria as we know it—the records aren’t consistent, and there are no species of pony with gossamer wings on record. We just don’t have time to go off on an adventure to find something that hasn’t existed for thousands of years!”
Megan gulped. For the first time, she lost her strong decisive edge, and her voice lost the accusatory tone. “But they were my friends.”
Twilight softened. “I am sorry for your loss, but—”
“I’m going,” Rita said. She didn’t have time for Megan’s emotions or lectures on Ponyland’s change to Equestria.
“We’re with you.”
Rita felt a pony either side of her. Twilight fired a steady stream of pink magic into the Smooze. The magic bolt split and created a protective T shape, pushing back the Smooze enough for them to step out on to a Smooze-free ground.
Together, they stepped forward.