The Return of Sunset Shimmer

by Never2muchpinkie

Chapter 12: Shattered heart

Ponies were whispering in hushed voices around the shield Sunset had created. The commotion had drawn their attention, curiosity drawing them to see what was going on.

“Who is that mare?”

“She can fight evenly with an alicorn?”

“She’s wearing that same thing Trixie was wearing a few years ago.”

“Spike is down! Is… is he dead?”

“I don’t know.”

“This is bad! Do you think Twilight can win?”

“Of course! Well… maybe. She did need Spike to shield her.”

“It never ends! Something is always attacking us.”

They didn’t think they could do anything to help, and getting in the way of such a high-level magic contest would only end in disaster. The best they could do was stay out of it and hope Twilight could win.

Twilight was at a loss. She felt light-headed. She kneeled down, cradling Spike’s body, quietly wailing, “Spiiiiike.” She knew Sunset was above her, able to strike her down, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. Her heart was so heavy that fighting was the last thing on her mind.

She had been naïve. When push came to shove she hadn’t been able to act like her mentor, to do what needed to be done. Had Spike not intervened it would be her that was dead, and Sunset would be free to do what she pleased.

“It’s my fault,” she croaked out, shaking slightly as she took a shuddering breath. “It’s all my fault. If I had only tried harder…” Her eyes clenched shut. “You wouldn’t have had to sacrifice yourself. I… I would have saved the day like I always did.

“OH, SPIKE!” Her voice cracked. “Don’t leave me!”

Sunset hovered in the air, her conscious mind in a haze. Her unconscious mind noticed the cries of the rest of Twilight’s friends, and made the barrier passable again. They all crowded around him, crying, encouraging him to wake.

She slowly sank down to the ground, barely conscious of doing so. When she landed her legs wouldn’t support her weight, and she sank to the ground. She felt sick, like she might puke. Her eyes were wide as saucers, her breathing heavy and ragged. “W-what have I done?” Her voice trembled. “I… I killed an innocent. I killed…”

“You played around too much, Sunset!” Stardust said sharply. “And now look what happened! This is your fault! If you had been serious from the beginning like you were supposed to Spike would still be alive!

“Twilight should have gone peacefully, with one quick shot. Now, however, you’ve caused her to suffer. Her heart has shattered.”

Sunset swallowed hard, a lump in her throat. “I… I… I…” She tried to speak, but the words wouldn’t come. Her own heart felt like it had shattered. Her head flopped down toward the ground, heavy with her crime. “I… I can’t. I’m done.”

She began reaching up toward the amulet, but he stopped her. “Just what do you think you’re doing, Sunset?”

“I’m done,” she said again, her feelings going numb. “I… I took the life of someone uninvolved with my struggle. I’m… I’m not worthy of this power.” Her vision blurred. “I don’t deserve to be your host. I’m just stupid worthless Sunset, as usual.”

Stardust mentally grinned, immensely satisfied by this turn of events. Sunset had still been resisting him a bit, but that was over now. She had lost all will to fight. The disconnect between her morals and her actions had set her heart aflame with guilt and terror. It would surely consume her if left unchecked. And that was where he came in. All she needed was an excuse, some way to justify her behavior.

His true power of corruption was simply to feed others ways not to take responsibility for their actions, thus growing selfish and hardening their hearts to endure. By disregarding all but their own will and objectives a pony could grow truly strong. As soon as they dropped that pesky conscience that held them back, that is.

“Sunset,” he said gently in his sympathetic voice, barely suppressing his glee. “If you stop now you’ll negate everything you’ve set out to do, and Spike will have died for nothing. All you will have accomplished is destroying Twilight inside.”

“B-but… I…”

“It’s maddening and unfortunate, but… sometimes… casualties will occur in the line of duty. It’s just a fact of life. It will hurt when it happens, but you must let it go, and move on.”

Sunset didn’t know how to reply to that. Stardust thought it was a good thing HE did.

Imitating her voice he whispered into her mind, once more masquerading as her own thoughts. ‘I have to… I have to keep going.’

Sunset was uncertain. Could she really keep going on, especially when she felt like this?

‘Why? Why did this have to happen? I was so close to bringing Twilight true peace.’

It would have been peaceful for her. Twilight would have been freed from all her pain and despair.

‘But Spike… he… that dragon got in the way!’

A brief anger flared up inside her, immediately followed by guilt. How could she be thinking such ill of the dead?

‘If only he hadn’t gotten in the way! Twilight would be safe, untouchable by Celestia. He… he’s probably under Celestia’s control as well. She must have programmed him to defend Twilight no matter what. Celestia’s monstrous antics rear their heads again!’

Her anger was stronger now, and she felt strength returning to her as she stood up.

‘And even if he’s not being controlled by her can he really call her a friend, when he deliberately prolonged her suffering? I'm the hero here! I’m trying to rescue Twilight! How could he jump in the way, knowing what it would do to her?’

Sunset was glaring now, the jewel flaring up along with her eyes.

‘Look at them, all bawling over him. He’s no friend of hers as far as I’m concerned! I have to complete my objective before Celestia arrives. There’s no other way! It’s more crucial now than ever that I do so quickly, to spare Twilight any more pain.’

She stomped towards the group. “Get up, Twilight!” she said harshly. “Now! We have unfinished business!” Twilight seemed to ignore her, and that wouldn’t do for the future ruler of Equestria. The aura in her horn grew large. “If you want to play I’ll do what I have to do, even if your back is turned.”

Applejack and Rainbow Dash quickly jumped up, standing between Sunset and Twilight.

“Not on your life!” Rainbow said darkly.

“Hmph!” Sunset said dismissively. “If I have to go through you to get to her then I’m prepared to. Sometimes one has to make sacrifices in order to advance.”

Twilight shivered at Sunset’s words, teleporting in front of her friends and pushing them behind a shield. She would not lose any more of her friends, and she could no longer show Sunset any mercy. She didn’t intend to kill Sunset, as she still hoped to free her from the Amulet’s control, but she had to focus on the situation in front of her. Whatever came next, how Celestia would react to all this, was unimportant.

“Awww, does it hurt, Twilight?” Sunset laughed cruelly. “It really shouldn’t. That freak was no pal of yours.”

Twilight went stiff, an eye twitching. “Excuse me?”

Sunset shrugged. “He was a fool. A baby entering into a contest for powerful ponies? He even pathetically threw himself in the way of my attack. What a worthless sacrifice, as all will came to naught. If you ask me that pitiful loser of a dragon deserved what he got.” She began to laugh, the jewel flashing.

Twilight was feeling light-headed again. Any lingering sadness vanished, to be replaced by a seething rage. That Sunset was being controlled to say those sorts of things ceased to matter. She wasn’t going to sit by and just allow anyone to mock Spike, not when he had tried to so hard to help her. She was only alive because of his noble deed.

An eye closed, and her head sank down as her horn began to glow a bright red. Her power felt like it was surging out of control. She was panting like she had just run a marathon. “P-please,” she said to her friends. “Y-you have to get away from me.” Both eyes closed as she grimaced.

“B-but Twilight,” Applejack started, before letting out a yelp of surprise. The tie she used to hold her ponytail had turned into tree bark.

“I… I can’t… control it…” Her horn flashed continuously, changing things around her, much like her entrance exam to Celestia’s school so long ago. Trees turned into candy canes, patches of dirt began levitating.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash quickly backed up, before helping their other friends get to a safe distance behind Sunset’s shield spell.

“Twilight…” Fluttershy futilely reached out a hoof, wishing she could go comfort Twilight.

A large red ball of power surrounded Twilight. “Fo… cus,” she spat out through clenched teeth.

Celestia’s words rang in her head. Shortly after her ascension Celestia had warned her of the dangers of becoming an alicorn. “Your power is far greater now, Twilight, and with greater power comes even more risks.”

“Risks, Princess?”

“Do you remember your entrance exam? What happened after Rainbow Dash’s sonic rainboom?”

“Vaguely. It’s a bit of a blurry memory. When my magic surged out of control the next thing I really remember is you helping to calm me down. You did tell me about the effects. Spike grew giant, I levitated the examiners, and my parents turned into potted plants.”

“Exactly. Over the years you’ve tamed that power through study, but as an alicorn it is even more imperative that you keep your emotions in check. If your magic explodes out in anger, and surges outside of your control, then you can pose just as much a risk to your friends as your enemies.”

Twilight recoiled slightly.

“Keep in mind what you might destroy if you lose control.”

She lifted her head up sharply to the side, then to the other, trying to contain the rising tide threatening to engulf everything she knew.

Sunset watched with interest. She snickered. “What poor control of your magic. Your feelings are meant to aid you, but they’re ruling you.” Her grin expanded. This was a perfect chance to test her magic. She could kill Twilight anytime, but she wanted to crush the prissy princess. She wanted Twilight to feel her own helplessness. She should have been the one to have this power from the start.

“Hey!” she said loudly. “If you can’t control your magic the only way to bring things back into balance is to release it, right?” Twilight looked slightly over at her, still panting and her eyes half closed. “Well, here’s your target right here.” She lifted a hoof, making a circle around her chest.

Twilight jerked her head away, not wanting to listen. She was angry at Sunset, but she didn’t want to put her friends in danger.

Stardust was pleased with the evolution of Sunset’s hatred. At this point she was almost exactly like her old self. Now she was facing down Twilight once again, but this time there would be a different outcome. After all, Sunset had removed the Elements of Harmony from the Equation. He could just sit back and watch from here.

Sunset was impressed. Twilight looked under less pressure now. The things that had transformed were turning back to normal. She was already mastering her emotions. However, that just wouldn’t do. She wanted Twilight to go ballistic. It was the only way she’d fight for real, no holds barred. “Something wrong, Twilight? You don’t want to fight? Well, I guess it can’t be helped. I’ll just have to force you to. By the time I’m done your friends will be a smoldering pile just like that worthless lump of a dragon. Make sure you say your farewells quick.” Her horn began to glow as she turned toward Twilight’s friends, the shield around them vanishing.

Twilight’s head immediately snapped back to Sunset, rage burning inside her limbs and mind, drowning out the voice of reason inside her. Her eyes began to glow white with power.

Fluttershy looked around at the dissolving shield, and began to shiver. “W-we’re all gonna die!”

Rarity clutched Spike harder. She was sitting down on the grass, him on her lap. It was probably wishful thinking on her part, but she thought she could feel an ever so faint thump. She didn’t trust herself to believe it. With all that was going on she could easily be mistaken. It might even be the sound of her own heart. But if there was even the slightest chance, then that was enough for now. “It’s going to be all right, Spike. I believe in you. And I believe in Twilight too.” Tears formed in her eyes as she gave him a kiss. “I love you, Spike. You hear me? I love you! So please… please… if you’re still in there… then stay alive. Stay alive for all of us.”

Twilight couldn’t contain the power anymore. It was a raging inferno clawing and scratching to get out. If she didn’t release it in some way she felt like her own body would be destroyed. A gigantic glow came from her horn, and she launched it towards Sunset.

“Oh, wow!” Sunset said, feeling a sense of ecstasy. “Now that’s what I call power! Maybe she’s finally taking me seriously. But, ultimately,” she vanished, appearing on the opposite side of Twilight, “such a large attack is slow.”

The attack hit the shield around Ponyville that was still up. There was a cracking sound, but ultimately the shield held. “So naughty, Twilight! You’re lucky the absorption spell I tacked on that shield was designed to draw power from the rest of the shield in order to buffer the impact of such a powerful spell, otherwise you would have destroyed half of Ponyville.” She shrugged, grinning and chuckling as she shook her head. “And you think I’m the bad one here?”

Twilight barely heard her, her mind still swirling in her negative emotions of anger and grief.

Sunset took to the air. Her shield spell wouldn’t hold under such powerful spells fired repeatedly.

Twilight flew up a little bit, firing again and again.


Celestia let out a gentle laugh. She was having a morning tea and breakfast. Twilight had said she had a surprise waiting in Ponyville. She wondered what it was. Given how long she had lived and what she had seen she felt that, personally, very little could surprise her. Nevertheless, she would go and see what her student had cooked up. It was always a pleasure to get away from the castle for a little bit and be treated mostly like just another pony.

Four of her royal guards were patrolling around the room. “You boys work so hard for me,” she said serenely. “I think you should take a little break and have some tea as well.”

“Yes, ma’am!” they replied.

“It’s alright to drop the formal attitudes for now.”

“Yes, um, Celestia,” one replied. The four guards sat down, partaking of biscuits and tea.

After swallowing her latest bite of food she said, “Around noon or so I’ll be heading out to Ponyville for a while. Twilight has prepared something special for me. Given that I don’t know the exact nature of this surprise I can’t say when exactly I’ll be back. I’ll trust all of you to hold down the fort while I’m gone.”

The four of them nodded. “Yes, Princess!”

One of them asked, “May I have some more tea?”

“Of course.” She lifted the pot in her aura and tipped it over the cup. “It would be my ple-” Celestia stopped, turning her head left. She had a bad feeling as she looked out the window. She could see beams of light being fired into the sky repeatedly. It was coming from the direction of Ponyville. Given that it was several miles away she couldn’t make out what exactly was being fired at, or why.

Focusing her senses she could just feel it was Twilight. Such magnificent power could only come from her. And she would never do such a thing to show off.

The tea began to overflow, soaking the table. ‘Twilight… after all my warnings have you let your magic overtake you? What could have pushed you to that?’

“Princess? Princess? Are you alright?”

“Huh?” Celestia suddenly heard the voices of the guards. She turned back, seeing the tea dripping everywhere. She set the pot down. Bowing her head she said, “My apologies. A situation has arisen in Ponyville, so I must leave earlier than expected. Might I ask you to clean up for me?”

“Of course, Princess Celestia!” All four of them bowed.

She closed her eyes, focusing on the magic within her. A yellow aura surrounded her, and then with a flash she was gone.