XCOM: Ranger

by Wanderer D


Chapter 92: FMP Pt. 2

Ranger

Chapter 92: FMP Pt. 2

By Wanderer D

Sunset woke up, but didn't open her eyes. She kept them closed as she took stock of the situation.

She was aware of her surroundings: she was sitting on a chair; her hands were secured behind her with handcuffs... her whole body ached as if she had ran a marathon and then followed up with a two-mile swim, followed by being slammed around by a Berserker. They had taken her down with a non-lethal electric device of some sort… she was mostly isolated… there wasn't much noise, other than air conditioning, and the two people talking quietly, although not quietly enough that she could not hear them.

They were clearly not very experienced if they thought that could hold her, but she would play along for now.

"Is this really necessary, Luna?" Celestia's unmistakable voice asked.

"You saw what she was doing… what she did, Celestia," Luna retorted, "Applejack's nose was broken, Gilda dislocated her arm... Flash Sentry and Rainbow Dash were not severely injured, but they're a bit sore and Rarity's physically fine, but she was just held hostage at knifepoint by her best friend."

"What could have caused this? Rainbow Dash said Sunset fell asleep during lunch, and when she woke up…"

Worrying. Convincing, on some level. How was this happening? How did… whatever had caused this done this? Who—or what—was behind this? Sunset blocked the discussion as she considered her actions.

She had almost killed an innocent student—if this was real. Rarity… why did that name ring—oh. Sweetie Belle's sister. Rainbow Dash's friend… and she was supposed to be Sunset's best friend?

Sunset took stock. She had so far, broken a student's nose, dislocated an arm, clothes-lined another, kicked yet one more in the ribs, and possibly traumatized one for life. Worse, if she wasn't imagining this whole thing, then she had also betrayed their trust in their friend… who happened to be her. Somehow.
This didn't make sense.

Her mind rebelled at both the thought of this whole thing being real, but also at the thought of it being a lie. There were too many reasons to doubt the possibility of this actually happening… but there were too many details for any known method (magical or psychic) to function convincingly enough to fool all of her senses. There was only one thing to do.

She slowly opened her eyes.

"Awake?" Luna asked.

"For the last five minutes," Sunset replied. She narrowed her eyes. "Where am I?"

Celestia looked at her worriedly. "Canterlot High School, Sunset… don't you remember?"

"Canterlot High School doesn't exist anymore," Sunset replied. "It was destroyed at the beginning of the war. How did you do this? Where am I, really?"

"Sunset…"

Luna slammed her hand on the table. "Stop the bs. Why the hell did you flip out like that, Sunset? I'm not fond of using tasers on students."

Sunset held her gaze. "What are your demands?"

"Are you listening to me?" Luna asked, growling.

"I demand to speak with whoever's in charge."

"We are in charge!"

Sunset raised an eyebrow. "You don't behave like you are. So, how about you tell me the truth? Canterlot High was destroyed. Applejack died early in the war… if this was truly a school, why am I being held by two teachers instead of being handed over to the police?"

"Sunset, if we called the police they would look into your past and figure out you're not from here… at best you'd be imprisoned for some time, at worst you'd start an interdimensional incident with Equestria and get all of us in trouble for not reporting this to the government in the first place," Celestia said. "Please… what war are you talking about?"

They were very convincing. And worse, if it was true… she didn't want to think about that.

"You look pale, Sunset," Luna said, "maybe you're catching on that this is not a joke?"

"Please…" Celestia said, "we don't understand. Your friends are scared. The rest of the school… they can understand magical mishaps, but this…"

Luna's eyes narrowed. "What year is it?"

"What?" Celestia asked.

"Come on," Sunset said, "You can't be s—"

"The year!"

Sunset bit her lip. "Twenty thirty-five."

Luna took something out of her pocket. One of those cell phones they used before the war. She put it on the table in front of Sunset and swiped the screen. "Read the date."

"This is stupid."

"Read the goddamned date!"

Sunset licked her lips, then forced herself to look down. "T-twenty… eighteen? But how?!" she shook her head. "This is a lie!

"Luna, you must be joking," Celestia said, incredulous, "Really? Time travel?"

"The school was destroyed in twenty fifteen!" Sunset growled. "What are you playing at?"

"Has the thought occurred to you, Sunset, if that's who you really are, that this might be another magical mishap, and that it somehow messed you up?"

Sunset licked her lips. What could she do? If this was real then she was alone in a situation where she could trust no one. There had to be a way. She thought hard, trying to remember anything that might be useful. Galahad's old lessons came back to her. It was worth a risk… there was only one person she trusted anywhere, anytime, after all.

A beat.

"Let me make a call."

"I'm not taking the handcuffs off of you."

"Then dial for me."

Luna and Celestia exchanged glances, then Luna shrugged, picking up her phone. "Number?"

Sunset grimaced. "I don't know it. Call the Air Force personnel locator. Should be easy to find."

Luna frowned, but complied, searching on her phone as Celestia approached Sunset carefully. "The Air Force? Are you sure, Sunset? This could reveal your identity…"

"You want to clear this, right?"

"Yes but…"

"Operator is on the line," Luna interrupted, putting the phone down. "It's on speaker."

Sunset sighed. "This is Lieutenant Shimmer. I need to speak to an officer with Blue List access."

There was a pause. "Understood, Lieutenant, one moment."

Luna and Celestia exchanged surprised glances, but when Celestia was about to speak, Luna put her finger to her lips, shaking her head.

"Transferring call." the phone rang once, then was answered, although there was no greeting from the other side.

Sunset took a deep breath, hoping this worked. So far things were going just like Galahad described. "Vigilo Confido. I need Central."

"Is this line secure?" a man's voice asked. Sunset didn't recognize it.

"No."

The line went dead.

Celestia and Luna glanced from Sunset to the phone and back, wide-eyed.

"What…" Luna shook her head. "Who are you? Really?"

"I'm Sunset Shimmer."

"Sunset is not part of the military. She's not even h—" Celestia cut herself.

"Human?" Sunset completed for her. "I guess I'm not. But the bottom line is: I'm Sunset Shimmer."

"So now what?" Luna asked after a moment.

"Now we wait," Sunset said.

"For what?" Celestia asked. "Sunset… you must understand, we have no idea what this is all about. Just yesterday you were hanging out with Applejack and the girls. I saw you after class, having milkshakes at the Sugarcube Corner. This morning you didn't even know who she was and you broke her nose."

Sunset looked away. "If things are… as I think they are… I'll have to apologize. But… I need to clear some things first, alright?"

The two teachers looked at each other. The extent to which they were willing to go for her was very telling. They cared a lot for Sunset Shimmer.

"Okay, we wait," Luna said. "How long?"

"I don't know, but I'm not going anywhere."

Celestia sighed, and Luna gave her a tired look. "Sister, why don't you talk to the rest of staff, I'll wait with Sunset here."

The taller woman shook her head with a small smile. "And tell them what?"

"That the situation is under control for now, and that we'll have this sorted out soon."

"Wait…" Sunset said as soon as Celestia walked towards the door. "You said I broke Applejack's nose... has it been set?"

Celestia looked down at her. "Yes."

"I-if you let me see her, I can heal it."

"I'll let her know and leave it up to her."

Each letter was like a punch to the stomach.

Twilight knew something was wrong with her, but she had assumed that it hadn't really shown that much… to the extent that the others would notice. She didn't want to hurt anyone. But she didn't know how to handle… whatever was happening to her.

Could it be as Rainbow Dash said? That she was so lost in her grief and insecurities, that she was unable to even deal with it?

The truth was that she had refused to talk to anyone about it. Laetitia, Jane… she would blow off, and unless Chrysalis ordered her to talk, she would just pretend that things were okay.

Because, really, what could she tell them? "I feel nothing?" How would that even help? Whatever was causing this, it was not something even she could understand, much less burden others with it.

She wanted to write them back. Somehow… what she had to say wasn't enough. She understood why they wanted her to write and it hurt not being able to say much… but she needed time. She just.. didn't have the words to express this frustration and she didn't want to burden them with trying to understand it.

She wanted to apologize… but she wasn't even sure about what. Her silence? She needed space… it's not that she wanted to avoid them, she just wanted some time alone… some time to think in between missions and projects.

She had intended to write and… she really wanted to… but whenever she was going to, she realized she had nothing to say. And "I don't know why I'm doing this or why I feel like this" was not a good enough answer to them.

At least by her reckoning. She felt she needed to write them something of significant intrinsic value, not just… platitudes. But… "Don't worry, I just need time" seemed honest enough… but also again, not of enough substance.

She loved them. She missed them… and Spike's letter… she gulped, feeling herself ready to burst into tears again.

She couldn't do it… she had to think. She couldn't write back yet.

And… she had things to do.

Projects.

Lots of things… she wanted to tell them about, when they were done.

A hesitant knock on the door made her look up. She cleaned up her face a little. Was it someone from the science team? Jane and the others usually were less doubtful. Maybe staff or a new team member? "One sec!"

She cleaned up and stood, hiding the diary in a drawer and opening the door. "Sorry about that I just had some th—"

"Twilight! Thank Celestia you're here!" Sunset Shimmer stammered, eyes wide and a panicky look on her face. "You've got to get us out of here! There's a giant snake and everyone's carrying guns! Even the giant snake!"

Twilight blinked. "What the fuc—"

o.0.o End Chapter 92 o.0.o