Sunset Shimmer Hunts the Undead

by Rune Soldier Dan

Nothing like bowel-clenching terror to help people get along

Tied back-to-back in heavy chairs, Applejack awaited her doom in that damn, innocent-looking basement alongside Adagio. She glared to the side as one of her assailants – with mask back in place – set six places at a fancy dining table while repeating variations of, “So nice of you to join us for dinner.”

“This meal will be so good you’ll never be hungry again.”

“The main course is to die for.”

Adagio announced her return to sobriety with a frustrated shout. “WE GET IT, you’re going to eat us!”

“Just you, Ginger.” Ernest said as he laid an elaborate metal candlestick on the table. “Bad luck – a whole big damn party for us to sniff out, and you two are the only good-looking virgins. And that’s stretching it for Freckles. Let me tell you, the decline of good Christian values has made it really hard to be a ghoul these days.”

Applejack blinked. Bad as things looked… “Virgin?”

“Virgin blood is like magic crude-oil,” Adagio grumbled. “It’s good for everything and everyone wants it.”

“Sure, but… you? Like a thousand years on Earth, and–”

“It works different for sirens,” Adagio hissed, then addressed their captor. “Gonna knock me out first?”

Ernest gave a snorting, pig-like laugh. “Oh, no. The magic doesn’t work if they ain’t alive and wiggling for the whole thing. No magic, no extra ten years of life, Ernest starts starts acting his age. That is to say, two-hundred, so bye-bye Ernest. Glad we get to eat you instead of Freckles – I always get stuck with a leg, and she don’t look like a foot-care kind of girl.”

Applejack’s lips pressed to a thin line. “So why me?”

“Bribe for Mister D. He knows our secret and needs virgin blood for some deal. It breaks the magic if we give away from our own, so…” Ernest shrugged. “That’s, eh-heh, life for you. Lucky for us you were so worried about your friend.”

With the table set, the black-suit gave a last obnoxious laugh before making his way up the stairs. Applejack watched him climb, then smiled grimly as a clicking lock marked his departure.

A rough test of the bonds killed her smile – the ropes broadly wrapped her to Adagio, with their arms woven to their sides. No chance of forcing things.

“Want to start screaming?” She murmured.

Adagio shuffled behind her and groaned. “Please don’t, for the sake of my sanity. If it was that easy they would have gagged us.”

“Try and scooch over? Grab a knife from the table?”

Adagio’s voice took a snappish tone. “These chairs are bolted to the floor, dumb-ass.”

“Then help me think of something,” Applejack snarled right back. “I’d rather bust myself out than get eaten alive. Or, you know, rescued.”

Adagio gave a humorless laugh. “Who’ll rescue us?”

“Sunset,” Applejack said immediately, though followed it with a hard swallow. “If she knows we’re here.”

A drier, smaller chuckle came in response. “She’ll save you, cowgirl. You all wouldn’t care less if it was just me.”

Applejack turned to try and look at Adagio, though the great volume of orange curls forced her back. “That ain’t true and you know it. But if you want to be cynical, just think of it like your sisters will owe me one when I save us both.”

Her words had outpaced her brain, and Applejack followed them with another grunting effort against the ropes. Hopeless, but she was out of ideas. She kept struggling well past the peak of her strength, internally braced for a fresh round of caustic wit.

None came, but something else took its place. Applejack only heard when she paused for breath.

A sob.


Adagio’s voice came without hint of sadness. “Tell you a secret, before we die?”

Words of baseless reassurance died on her lips, and Applejack nodded before remembering Adagio couldn’t see. “Yeah.”

“Actually, never mind.” The siren spoke with an airy tone, through one brittle around the edge. “Tell whoever, it’s no secret. Aria got picked up as a backup dancer for that big singer, Sapphire Shores. A second opening appeared, and she brought in Sonata. I found this out over the course of one text message.”

An unsteady breath swayed their chairs, and Adagio went on. “They cleared out that day, sticking me for the rent. I haven’t heard from them since. So no, they won’t owe you shit.”

“Why didn’t you say something?” Applejack asked.

Adagio sighed again, leaning her head back into Applejack’s. “You’re an ex who I used pretty awfully. Sunset and Rainbow were your self-appointed detectives who rooted me out. These aren’t exactly cry-on-the-shoulder relationships, even if you guys are the closest thing I have to...”

She didn’t finish. Didn’t need to. “Pretty lame, right?”

Applejack gave a hard sigh. Thought bitterly of the expensive gifts Adagio cajoled from her, then pushed it down.

“We got a lot behind us, sugar. I don’t know if we can be friends, but I’ll give it a college try if you will.”

“Out of pity,” Adagio said. “No thanks, I’m not that pathetic.”

“Heck, how do you think it was with Sunset?” Applejack tried the ropes more carefully as she talked. “Lying in a crater, crying her eyes out after trying to kill us. Think I had much in common with her then? Or our Twilight, futzing up archery at the Friendship Games? Heck, I only talked to pony Twilight to help out the weird girl who held pens in her teeth.”

“What an angel you are,” Adagio snarked.

It didn’t break Applejack’s momentum. “Friendship’s gotta start somewhere. Sometimes it’s being nice to a stranger. Sometimes, letting bygones pass.”

“We’re about to die,” Adagio noted. “Or at least, I am.”

“Got any ideas?”

A pause. Then, carefully, Adagio began feeling out her bonds. “Maybe.”

Applejack grunted as the movements constricted her own. It became painful enough that she opened her mouth to protest, then closed it as she realized Adagio had just endured the same.

A sharp pop broke the air – like a cracking joint, but somehow more poignant. Applejack shuffled in her chair to look, inadvertently pulling the rope and getting an irate, “Don’t.”

She obeyed, but turned her head in time to hear a second pop and watch Adagio’s foot spring free.

Applejack blinked and looked down to her own. While the same rope tied their chests and arms, each leg was lashed to the chair just above the ankle. A soft test was enough to show she had no chance getting it past the shin, let alone over the foot.


“Shh!” Another popping noise emerge, and the chairs trembled with Adagio’s slow, intense movements. Sweaty orange curls found their way down Applejack’s neck, and seconds later a gasp and jerk from the other side freed the second foot.

The curls scratched atrociously as Adagio began wiggling in her chair and kicking the legs out. Some found their way to Applejack’s nose, drawing a snort and shake.

“I said shut up,” Adagio whispered urgently.

“Sorry,” Applejack replied. “Your hair’s getting everywhere.”

“Deal with it.”

There was a time to argue, and a time to pass. “Roger. What can I do?”

The ropes tightened as Adagio found her limit. “This would be easier if I wore a bra today… hold your breath and suck in your gut.”

Applejack complied, and winced as she felt the ropes pull into the opened space. She almost gasped as they choked in even further, but held firm as Adagio started working her way downwards.

Adagio spoke in tight bursts, as her lung space allowed. “You Rainbutts stole our powers, but physically we’re still human-world sirens. Some, hm… speed of a fish, agility of an eel? Something like that? Not really super-human, but the fact remains we’re...”

The next words carried an extra purr. “Very flexible.”

Heat flared under Applejack's face, which she stoically attributed to the curls itching downwards. Kicking and pushing with her legs let Adagio slip inch-by-inch to the floor, bending her back in a way that would have broken Applejack’s.

With a final effort and her breasts pulled up to her head, Adagio exited the bottom of their bonds. The pressure on Applejack’s chest abruptly vanished and she set-to pulling herself free.

The top ropes came easily, with Adagio’s body no longer holding them in place. Applejack bent to examine the ankle ties while Adagio walked to the table, then returned.


Applejack looked up, and her expression turned panicked as the sight of a grinning, knife-brandishing Adagio triggered very primal instincts.

The grin closed, and Adagio began sawing at her ties. “Figured you still didn’t trust me.”

Applejack huffed and glared away. “Y’all grinned like that just to freak me out.”

A tight smile came as Applejack’s legs pulled free. “Maybe. Point made, though.”

“Adagio, y’all need to meet me halfway if we’re gonna be friends.” Applejack stood, feeling tingles across her body as circulation resumed. “Let’s see… no windows, way up is locked. Look around with me and see if there’s anything we can use.”

A voice kept calling her name. “Sunset!” “Sunset!”

Sunset swung her head back and forth, looking in all directions before finding the source – Wallflower Blush, standing right in front of her.

Sunset put on a weak grin and raised her palms. “Wallflower, I am so sorry for not seeing you.”

“Don’t care.” Wallflower snatched both Sunset and Twilight’s collars, yanking their heads down to her height. “If I have your attention now, our dorm-mates are in trouble.”

Sunset groaned. “What did Adagio do?”

“Get drugged,” Wallflower squeaked, open fear pushing past her indignation. “Or drunk, I don’t know. A couple uniformed pretty-boys used her to lure Applejack into their frat house, then they tied them both up. They...”

The small girl shivered, and released Sunset to pass a sleeve over her eyes. “They’re not human. Your friend punched one in the face and knocked a mask off.”

“Police,” Twilight said tersely.

“It’ll get transferred to the campus cops, and they’re shit,” Sunset whispered. Her gaze locked on Wallflower’s teary eyes. “What did they look like?”

“Bald, big teeth.” Wallflower paused to blow her nose on her shirt. “Kind of grody, mottled skin, and flat nose like a pig. They said they were going to eat the girls when Roland found their last member.”

Twilight took a sharp inhale and gripped something inside her lab coat. “You’re the expert, Sunset. Know what it is? Or can you look it up?”

“Expert?” Wallflower cocked her head.

“Vampire hunter. Long story.” Sunset shook her head. “I can call Mom. Wallflower, watch the door and text Twilight if they come back.”

Wallflower nodded and vanished into the crowd, perhaps before leaving their side. The other two sped to the party’s edge, where Sunset leaned against a tree and produced her phone.

“C’mon, c’mon,” she muttered as the call took its sweet time connecting, though mercifully Celestia answered on the second ring.


“Hi, Mom!” Sunset gave a strangled cheer. “Big teeth, pig nose, gross skin, eats people, more than one. What am I looking at and does silver kill it?”


“It’s not funny!” Sunset screeched at Luna’s laughter in the background. “Mom, answer. They kidnapped Applejack and Adagio.”

“I’m at home. Where are you?” Rustling became audible as Celestia moved through the house. “Luna, where’s the flanged mace?”

Sunset held the phone in place with her shoulder, fumbling clips of silver bullets from her purse to a pocket. “At the university, and its rush hour. I can’t wait.”

“You absolutely will.”

“Mom, there’s no time.” Sunset spoke with stern authority, reversing their usual roles. “Tell me what I need or I’ll go in blind.”

An exhausted sigh came from the other end, though an explanation followed. “Sounds like ghouls. Silver should work, but if it doesn’t, you get the hell out of there. We’re on the way.”

“Cool-thanks-loveya.” Sunset crammed the words into two syllables and pocketed the phone. She looked to her lavender companion, then the Hailgrogar house. “Hailgrogar… ‘Hail Grogar’… Twilight, what’s a Grogar?”

“No idea.”

“Sweet.” Sunset touched the handle on her concealed carry, though her eyes moved to the crowd. “Think I can get in a back window?”

Twilight adjusted her glasses with a trembling hand. “You mean ‘we.’”


“AJ is my friend, too. And while I don’t know much about Adagio, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t deserve to get eaten. I have science, I’ll be fine.”

Sunset blinked at her, and a faint bulge in the labcoat. “Science?”

“If I don’t tell you, you don’t legally have to report me.” Twilight stopped fidgeting with her glasses, and gave a reassuring smile. “We should move.”

A bit of frantic reconnaissance revealed the Hailgrogar house rear-ended into the woods. Perfect for a discreet approach, though a gentle test revealed the back entrance and windows to be secured.

Sunset sucked down on her lip, eyeing the twist-key lock barring their way through the rear door. “Got a hairpin?”

“Yeah,” Twilight said, then sent her a quizzical glance.

No time to be embarrassed. “I spent three years as the worst kind of delinquent. Give it to me.”

Twilight did so, and pulled the loose bang into her ponytail while Sunset got to work. A few tense minutes slowly eased the lock open, and Sunset laid a hand on the knob while drawing her pistol. “Ready?”


A glance backwards showed Twilight with her own weapon in hand – a laptop-sized contraption of ominous wires and needless tiny light bulbs, with a clear trigger and barrel.

Twilight shrugged at Sunset’s look. “Lightning gun.”

“Why did you bring that to a party?”

Twilight cringed. “What if someone hit on me?”

“Then that would be a cartoonish overreaction, but I’m happy you have it. Now...”

Sunset eased the door open with merciful silence. Nothing in the first room but a rumbling dryer. Good to mask their noise… and that of any ambusher, of course.

They stepped in, and Twilight pointed back to a strange padding on the exterior wall. “Acoustic paneling.”

“English, Twilight.”

“Soundproofing.” With both hands on her gun, Twilight used her knuckles to adjust her glasses. “This room is soundproofed to the outside, and I’ll bet the rest are too.”

“Nothing for it,” Sunset whispered.

The next room was a hallway, and Sunset cursed the loud tap of her fashionable boots on the linoleum. Sneaker-clad but clumsier, Twilight fared no better as they crept through, weapons forward.

A rustle came from the living room, and heavy steps approached quickly. Sunset gave a last wince of footwear regret and moved – a sharp-chinned black-suit rounded the corner just in time to meet her palm against his throat. She slammed him to the wall and pressed the pistol to his head.

And then paused.

Had to be certain. Her hand moved from his neck to the side of his face. Fingers felt the edge of a rubber layer, and she pulled.

The man moved in an instant, punching a fist like a brick into Sunset’s head. Stars danced in her vision as she fell, the pistol clattering from limp fingers.

The mask fell with her, along with the attached wig. The bald, flat-nosed creature snarled huge teeth and raised its hand to strike again. The look froze as a bolt of electricity shot past Sunset’s vision square into its chest. The ghoul seized and squealed, vibrating in place as secondary blue bolts arced between its limbs.

The bolts faded, and so did the motion. The ghoul looked angrily to Twilight, gave a single snort… and exploded to dust, leaving only a pair of smoking black shoes.

The girls stared for one second before Sunset rallied. “Damn, Twilight.”

“It was not supposed to do that.” Twilight looked irately to her contraption.

An alarmed, pig-like squeal sounded ahead of them, and was answered by one behind. A hallway door slammed open almost on top of Twilight.

Adrenaline fueled the recovery as Sunset snatched up her gun. “Twilight, drop!”

Twilight threw herself downwards, too slow. The emerging black-suit snatched her pigtail at waist height, roaring so wide the inch-long teeth tore open its own mask.

Sunset fired from the ground in the half-second before it could lift her friend into a human shield. The first shot went high, but the next two struck its face.

The ghoul did not release Twilight, or fall instantly. It trembled and gave a crumbling scream over the course of a long second before collapsing to dust.

Twilight fell, gasping, but Sunset shouted. “No time! Help me!”

Her position at the corner let her see the front door, and the three men who had just entered – Roland and two others with sharp-chinned masks. They all dove for cover as she emptied her gun to no effect.

She snapped in a new clip, eyes narrowing as Roland pulled a small revolver from his pocket and sent a careful shot her way. Sunset crouched at the corner and returned fire, but both sides’ bullets only found chairs and walls. Even a few shots of Twilight’s lightning gun failed to upend things, simply blasting out pillows and sofa-pads.

Sunset’s hand closed around her second reload. The last clip, and no end to the stalemate in sight.

Roland’s shout did not encourage her. “Ernest, go for the gun locker!”

The clip locked into place. Sunset looked around the corner just in time to see a fourth black-suit leap through her line of vision to an inside door. She aimed, but a bullet from Roland sent her diving back.

Twilight shivered behind the corner, and the light bulbs on her weapon glowed an ominous red. “I only have one shot left.”

“Go.” Sunset said. A door frame let her peek without exposing herself, giving view as the fourth black-suit unlocked his door.

Twilight’s shiver ended, and her lips drew tight. “No.”

The door swung open to reveal basement stairs, and a tall girl with a cowboy hat.

And shotgun.

A THOOM shook the room as Ernest flew backwards, crumbling to dust before he even hit the ground.

With a stressed, enraged kind of humor, Applejack shouted as she racked the shotgun. “Alright, boys, I want to fire off a couple questions!”

Adagio’s voice groaned behind her. “Don’t stoop to their level.”

They hadn’t seen one of the ghouls, cowering behind a chair from Sunset. He leaped as Applejack charged into the room, knocking the shotgun from her hands and throwing her to the ground.

While another shot from Roland pinned Sunset, the aggressor turned to Adagio, ripping off its mask and roaring in her face. The siren stumbled backwards, screeching her surrender, and with a hideous grin it loomed over Applejack.

The quick-thinking farmer had already got one hand on the shotgun, but it was too late. The ghoul lunged, leading with its too-long teeth.

Then stumbled and fell, with a butcher knife buried through its spine.

Standing tall, shielded by the doorframe from Roland’s gun, Adagio gave a cruel smile and tossed her curls. “Been a while since I’ve done that.”

The last ghoul besides Roland dove for the shotgun, and easily snatched it from Applejack’s distracted grip. But the move carried him from cover, and a half-clip volley from Sunset blasted him to dust.

Her grim smile ended as a shot-up easy chair flew across the room and bowled her over, knocking the gun clear and pinning her beneath. Not so heavy – she lifted and quickly freed her arms just in time to catch an end-table.

Roland followed the attack with a bestial, squealing roar. He had torn off the mask, shedding all pretense of humanity and human strength as he seized a massive bookshelf and raised it above his head. He glared to Sunset, rearing back for a throw guaranteed to pulp her brains. With her legs still trapped and the gun lost to sight, there was no defense.

Except Applejack. Leaping right from the ground she tackled Roland with all her might. An ‘oof’ and wince told she got the worst of the exchange, but Roland wobbled, unbalanced with the cumbersome load. He tried to slam it down on Applejack, but she saw it coming and rolled away.

A shadow crossed Sunset’s vision. She looked up from frantically pawing for her gun to see a bright glare from Twilight’s glasses. The lavender girl stepped boldly onto the debris, aiming her weapon from the hip.

Twilight fired, and Roland had hurled away his cover. Lightning impacted the chief ghoul, sending a violent spasm through his limbs. Different than the last hit, he seemed to shrink in, then bloat outwards in a moist, brackish color devoid of recognition.

Then… stillness. The disgusting, man-shaped form yet stood.

Twilight adjusted her glasses, her purple eyes taking in the scene with a thoughtful expression. “Interesting. This time they turned inside-out.”

A hissing noise interrupted, and Roland’s body blasted into all directions.

“Then exploded!” Twilight brought her knuckle to her lips, adopting a thoughtful expression. She tilted her head, again hiding the eyes behind a white glare. “This requires further research. Perhaps their rapid decomposition is affected strangely by electricity… hm, where’s my notebook?”

“Focus, girl!” Applejack called, taking the shotgun as she scrambled up from the floor. “There might be more coming!”

Adagio took a quick count on her finger, then sent a frowning look to Sunset. “Did you kill any on the way here?”

“Two,” Sunset said. Extracting herself brought a smile as she found the pistol.

Adagio relaxed visibly with the words. She offered Sunset what perhaps counted as a friendly smile. “That’s all, then. Ghouls only live in groups of six.”

The others gave curious stares as Adagio’s finger traced lines over her body: first across the throat, then where each limb met the torso. “They were humans, originally. Once every ten years, they can ritually consume a person to preserve their youth. The leader gets the heart, he gives the head to a favorite underling, and the rest each get an arm or leg. There can’t be any more.”

“Could there be twelve?” Twilight asked. “They kidnapped two of you.”

Adagio shook her head. “One of them said Applejack was a bribe for some ‘Mister D.’ I doubt they’d give out virgins if they didn’t have a spare.”

Sunset arched an eyebrow. “Virgins?”

“They said we were the only two.” Adagio shot a one-sided smirk at Twilight. “Actually, they said we were the only attractive virgins.”

Twilight smiled back levelly. “I’m not a virgin.”

“Really?” Adagio and Applejack said at once.

Sunset holstered her gun and clapped to get their attention. “Anyway! Adagio, how do you know all this?”

“Why would you think I don’t?” Adagio replied, turning her smirk to Sunset. “Maybe you have a distinction in your mind between rainbow music adventures and ghoul hunting. But the fact is I spent a thousand years as one of Earth’s mythical monsters. You get to know the neighbors. What they want, who to avoid, and how to kill them.”

“Sounds useful,” Sunset said, not hiding the self-interested appreciation in her voice.

“I suppose.” Adagio examined her nails, frowning at some imperfection. “Whatever makes you happy. Now let’s go.”

Applejack gave Sunset a shaky grin. “You tell us what the etiquette here is. Do we… like, call the police? Tell ‘em the truth? Just leave quietly?”

Three sets of eyes fell on Sunset, and the hot stress of combat turned to a cold chill. Her brain turned and came up empty, leaving her only with a red-faced chuckle.

“I’ll, uh… I’ll call Mom.”

They reconvened at the dorm, with unhealthy sugary beverages in hand. The first few minutes were spent demolishing the snack food once budgeted for the whole week, then Sunset settled back in a chair. “First: we all came through unharmed, but how are you all emotionally?”

Twilight smiled. “I spent two years apprenticing under Professor Whooves regarding the, hm, ‘Vampire World.’ I never planned on getting practical experience, but yes, I’m fine.”

“No worse than when the lich attacked.” Applejack took a slug from her cola. “Or that shindig with Crystal Prep, so this makes three times for me. Reckon I might ask soon where you get your silver bullets.”

Wallflower gave a tiny squeal, vibrating with glee. “I was useful. It’s a good feeling.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Sunset gave her a warm, knowing smile. “Although my own good feeling here is the lack of consequences. I guess the cops have a wink-and-nudge relationship with the business. When my mom said drunk Hailgrogars tore up the house with a shotgun, they winked, nudged, and moved on.”

A few seconds passed, and she sounded out their last. “Adagio, how are you?”

The siren didn’t look up from her phone. “Like you care.”

“I do,” Applejack said. She gave a warm pat on Adagio’s shoulder, earning a coy pink-eyed glance. Adagio leaned into the hand, then to Applejack’s chest with a playful grin.

Adagio’s voice emerged from deep in her throat. “You know, all this happened because we’re virgins.”

Applejack blushed and looked away. “I see where you’re going. No.”

“What say we...”


“Secure ourselves against future attack?”

A smile crept to Applejack’s face. “Good idea. I’ll teach you how to shoot.”

“Leave her alone!” Sunset snapped. “The answer was no.”

Adagio groaned and stood abruptly. She walked quickly to her and Wallflower’s room and closed the door.

A sigh came from Applejack’s chair, accompanied by the patient tone she used when disappointed. “Wasn’t no need to yell. She was just playing.”

Sunset gave Applejack an even glance. “Last night you wanted nothing to do with her.”

“Can’t deny that,” Applejack chuckled and scratched the back of her head. “Hard to explain, I guess… you got any regrets, Sunny?”

“Literally everything before the Fall Formal.” They shared a dry laugh, and not for the first time Sunset marveled at how free her friends were with forgiveness. “That’s a better question for you.”

“Kinda wish my folks were still around.” Applejack gave a little smile – the wound was old, and even its scab had faded. “But yeah, sorry, stupid question. What I mean is, Adagio’s got regrets. I think I’m on the list, ‘cause she treated wrong the one person who’d stand by her.”

Twilight tilted her head. “Last I checked, she had two.”

Applejack grimaced and shook her head. “She said this ain’t a secret, so I’ll tell: Sonata and Aria struck gold and ditched her, at least how she tells it. Now I’m sure Adagio weren’t no angel to them neither, but she’s a mite short on friends these days. Y’all don’t have to be one, but I’d call it a favor to me to give her the benefit of the doubt.”

“No problem.” Sunset smiled and tapped her pop can to Applejack’s in a wordless toast. “I’ll apologize to her later.”

Applejack nodded. “You do that. Then you can get back to me about those silver bullets, because I sure wasn’t joking.”