Role Reversal

by SamRose

Chapter 5: Fresh Sparks

“HEY! Wake up!”

Sunset was suddenly jolted awake from a sudden rush of pain in her gut. She coughed and gagged as her body was violently returned to the waking world, shuddering from the weight of the pain. Her head was throbbing like crazy and she had no idea where she was. She tried to move her arms, but quickly found them bound together against a pipe behind her.

“There you are, thought I might’ve hit you too hard there for a moment.” Gilda’s voice broke through the pain and the haze, causing Sunset to look up with a grimace.

The taller girl was standing over Sunset, a baton being tapped against her shoulder intimidatingly. That certainly explained what had hit the back of her head, and why it was now throbbing with pain.

Sunset glanced around, trying to get a sense of where exactly they were right now, mostly able to pick up that they were in a dark room filled with a large metal structure that had pipes leading out of it in every conceivable direction. 

“Are we in the boiler room?” Sunset groaned, hearing the grogginess in her own voice.

“It was a nice, easy, out-of-the-way place I could drag you without anyone noticing.” Gilda growled, taking the baton and putting it under Sunset’s chin. Sunset winced as her head was forced to look up at Gilda, the girl doing her best intimidating glare back. “And now we can have a nice long chat without any stupid interruptions like last time.”

With her free hand, Gilda held up Sunset’s phone, now showing the password screen Sunset had placed on it after the whole incident to ensure that her phone wouldn’t get hijacked again.

“Tell me the password to your phone so I can delete that stupid website already!” Gilda barked her orders, baring her teeth for extra intimidation.

Sunset had to blink at that. She paused for a moment, then smirked. Gilda’s snarl fell as Sunset began to giggle, before bursting out into a full laugh.

“The hell is so funny!?” Gilda roared, letting go of the baton to grab hold of her Sunset's shirt. “You mocking me!? I will beat your face black and blue Shimmer!

“Dude! Have you even checked the website since you knocked me out!?” Sunset asked, shaking her head with a laugh, though wincing from the pain. “You’re a little too late to ask me to delete the page! It’s already gone!”

Gilda stared dumbfounded at Sunset, unable to process what she had just said.

“No. No way! I KNOW you’re lying to me Sunset! I know your tricks!” Gilda snarled, not wanting to lose the upper hand in this interrogation.

“I’m telling the truth! Seriously! Just go ahead and check it out on your own phone! I’m not lying about this!”

Gilda just glared at Sunset, not breaking eye contact for several seconds before cursing under her breath and letting Sunset go. She stepped away, turning her back to Sunset as she pulled out her own phone and began to check it, muttering obscenities under her breath the whole way.

Sunset for her part began to get a better feel for her restraints while Gilda had her back turned, wiggling her fingers to feel at the rope that had her tied down. She fiddled around a bunch, finding the knot that had been tied and hoping that if she was lucky, it’d be just loose enough for her to start digging into and untie herself.

“The hell?” Gilda spoke up, glaring at her phone. “It DOES say the account has been deleted! The hell did you do!?”

“What? You’re upset I did what you wanted before you even asked me to? Seems a little backwards don’t it?” Sunset chuckled. “But hey, you got what you wanted! The website is gone, so would you mind letting me go?”

“What the hell is your game Sunset?” Gilda growled at the redhead, glaring death down at her. “I know you’re up to something, so spill it!”

“I’m not up to anything Gilda, honest.” Sunset grunted, shifting her arms to try and both make herself more comfortable and better able to reach the knot. “The simple truth is that the site had served its purpose and wasn’t needed anymore. No one was sending in any secrets to Anon-a-Miss. No secrets, no webpage, so I deleted it. I didn’t need a dumb website to rule this school anyway.” Sunset shook her head. “All of your dark little secrets are safe with me, so why don’t we put all of this behind us, and we can both just walk away like nothing ever happened.”

“Like HELL!” Gilda roared, swinging her foot straight into Sunset’s stomach. Pain ripped through the girl again, her breakfast nearly tumbling out. Sunset coughed violently, her fingers slipping from the knot as her head hung forward. She was doing her absolute best not to wretch all over herself from the abuse.

“You may not be posting secrets anymore, but that doesn’t absolve you of the secrets you ALREADY posted! You can’t take those back, Shimmer!” Gilda growled.

“Oh for the love of…” Sunset coughed, growling back as she looked up at Gilda. “So what!? Your stupid secret was that you bully people! Everyone knew that already Gilda! It wasn’t a secret to anyone, just now they had proof that you did it! So what, you’re going to beat me up for telling everyone something they already knew about you? And what exactly is that going to accomplish? A sense of self satisfaction? Literally no one cares about your ‘secret’ Gilda!”

Gilda was quiet as she glared down at Sunset, seeming to give Sunset the floor to speak.

“Just let this stupid grudge go, Gilda. Anon-a-Miss is gone, and by the time break is over no one’s even going to remember what was on the stupid website.” Sunset groaned, leaning back against the pipe. “Just… Go home, Gilda.”

Gilda continued to stare at Sunset, mulling her words over. Sunset wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, but a smirk appeared on Gilda’s face.

“You know what Shimmer? You’re right. I think I will go home.” Gilda chuckled darkly. Sunset blinked in confusion at that, before watching the burly girl turn around and walk out of the room. It wasn’t until the door closed behind Gilda that Sunset realized what was happening.

Gilda had left her alone.

In the boiler room.

With everyone about to leave on a week-long break.

Her heart started thumping in her chest with panic as she began to redouble her efforts to untie the ropes.

She had to escape now, she was not going to spend an entire week locked in a boiler room all alone!

Twilight Sparkle stood near the entrance of the gymnasium, looking around as all of the students were filling in slowly one after another. It had been at least a few hours since she’d last seen Sunset Shimmer, and just a couple of minutes ago Principal Celestia had made the announcement for everyone to meet up in the Gymnasium for a special presentation.

It was tradition every year that right before Christmas break the school would watch a movie together in the gymnasium, and the final step of Sunset’s plan was for them to meet up before the movie started.

“Has anyone seen Sunset Shimmer?” She asked, looking at the girls who were gathered around her.

“Ah know a couple of students saw her this morning, but ah haven’t seen her personally.” Applejack said with a shrug.

“Yeah, she’s been absent all day!” Pinkie said with a cheerful nod.

“Maybe she wised up and decided to not show up today.” Dash grunted. “Not like anything important was happening anyway. The least she could do is let us watch the movie in peace.”

“Maybe she has some courtesy left in her yet.” Rarity huffed as well, shaking her head.

Twilight bit her thumb anxiously at that. It wasn’t like Sunset to just vanish like this, especially if she was just supposed to go straight to the Crusaders and ask them if they were Anon-a-Miss. She could see the Crusaders gathering in the gym to watch the movie, but Sunset was nowhere to be seen.

The scene from the other day played out in her mind, remembering Gilda cornering Sunset at the bleachers. Had something similar happened to her while they were separated?

“Is something wrong Twilight?” Fluttershy asked, worried about her friend.

“What? Something wrong? No, no, of course not!” Twilight awkward laughed, waving her friend off. “But uh, I think I… I need to use the little fillies room! That’s right! I’ll be right back!” 

She gave the girls a big awkward smile, before spinning on her foot and rushing off.

The girls gave each other a very puzzled look, wondering what was going on with Twilight.

For her part, Twilight was doing her best not to panic. Sunset was currently disliked by everyone in the school, which meant that it was possible anything could’ve happened to her, and Twilight wouldn’t be able to forgive herself if something awful had happened.

She needed to find Sunset, and quick.

Twilight skidded to a halt in front of the library, quickly opening the doors and looking around inside. The place was deadly silent with no trace of anyone having been there all day. She bit her lip in anxiety, quickly moving deeper into the library and looking around. 

Maybe there was some clue she could pick up on? Some kind of trace of where Sunset had gone?

The sound of giggling broke her from her thoughts causing her to snap her head in the direction it was coming from. She could’ve sworn the library was empty, but clearly someone was there. She quickened her pace and turned a corner of the library, looking between shelves, and spotted two people she hadn’t expected to see in the library.

Snips and Snails were sitting by themselves in the middle of an empty aisle, hand-held game consoles in each of their hands with a cable linked between them.

“There’s no way you’re beating me today Snails!” Snips declared proudly. “I’m taking down your Terrorsaur, and that’s final!”

“I’d like to see you try!” Snails drawled back with a grin. “You’re on a losing streak of 19 to 0!”

“And today’s the day that all changes!” Snips declared.

“Snips! Snails!” Twilight called out, causing the two boys to jump in surprise. They looked up in shock as Twilight rushed up to them, panic on her face. “Have either of you seen Sunset Shimmer?”

“Uuuuhhh…” Snips started to say, before suddenly standing up and looking very serious. “Who wants to know?”

“I do.” Twilight explained. “I just want to make sure she’s okay!”

“Why wouldn’t she be okay?” Snails asked confused.

“Look, she was supposed to meet me in the Gymnasium before everyone gathered for the movie, but she hasn’t shown up and no one’s seen her since this morning, but I KNOW she came to school, and you two used to work for her back when she was Queen of the school, right? So maybe you were still possibly working for her and might know where she is?” Twilight pleaded her case, putting on her best smile for the boys.

Snips and Snails looked at each other for a moment before shaking their heads.

“No, sorry, we haven’t seen her either.” Snips said scratching the back of her head.

“O-Oh…” Twilight deflated a little, feeling her lead slipping away. “Alright, well, thank you anyway but-”

“We could call her though.” Snails spoke up, holding up his phone. Twilight’s eyes widened and jumped at the chance.

“Yes! Yes please call her for me!” Twilight begged.

There was no way the boys could resist the request of a cute girl, so Snails quickly selected Sunset’s name out of his contacts and hit call, letting the phone ring for a moment. There was a tense silence for several seconds as they all waited for Sunset to pick up, before a voice spoke out from over the speaker.

“You’ve reached the phone of Sunset Shimmer. Looks like I couldn’t answer your call right now, but feel free to leave a message, and if it's important I’ll get back to you!”

“Huh, strange.” Snips said crossing his arms. “She usually answers.”

“Call her again okay!?” Twilight insisted.

“I-I don’t want to get her angry at me…” Snails said worriedly.

“Look, then, just give me your phone and I’ll keep calling her! I’ll apologize for you when I see her okay?” Twilight said, holding out her hand. Snips and Snails looked at each other for a moment, assessing whether they really should or not, before Snails handed his phone over to her. “Thank you, I really owe you for this!”

With that Twilight took off running, hitting the call button on the phone as she ran. Snips and Snails just shrugged before sitting back down to get back to their games, the sound of their battle going back and forth for a couple of seconds before a death jingle rattled out.

“Aw man!” Snips groaned.

“Make that 20 and 0!” Snails beamed happily.

Sunset groaned as she sat on the concrete floor, leaning her weight against the pipe she was tied to. She had no idea just how long she had been trapped in the boiler room for, though she had a feeling it had been several hours. She could’ve sworn she’d heard Principal Celestia announce for everyone to gather in the Gymnasium for the movie, though it had been muffled from the distance.

If that had been the announcement though, it meant at least four hours had passed since her meeting with the Crusaders, and that she had maybe two more hours of school left at best.

Her fingers were cramped and sore from digging at the ropes, and she was fairly certain she’d deeply chipped a nail, given the painful throb at the tip of her finger. The knot on the rope was far too tight and she didn’t have anything sharp to cut it with, and nearly an hour of rubbing the rope against the pipe hadn’t yielded any results other than tiring her out.

She was running out of options and was quickly starting to realize she might very well be stuck in the tiny room over Christmas break…

~Shake your tail cause we’re gonna have a party tonight~

Sunset’s head snapped up at the sound of her ringtone playing, looking around frantically for her phone. She spotted it lying on the floor near the door, the screen flickering as the song played. Gilda must’ve dropped it at some point without realizing.

Sunset grunted and stretched out her body, letting her arms go as far as they could, followed by her legs stretching out as far as they could. She stretched out for every last inch she could reach, dragging her foot out trying desperately to reach her phone.

She was still several feet short of her phone. Gilda had dropped it a good distance away from her, and even if she held something in her foot, it likely wouldn’t reach.

“Oh great… My best life-line dangled in front of me just out of reach.” Sunset grumbled to herself as she fell back to a sitting position. She blew the bangs out of her face in frustration, listening to her ringtone blare for a couple more seconds before going silent. 

She wondered for a moment who was even calling her, given that she had only given her phone number out to a select few people, and none of those people really had any reason to be calling her right now. Maybe it was a telemarketer?

The phone began to shake and ring again, much to her surprise.

“Okay, definitely not a telemarketer.” Sunset murmured to herself, staring at the phone.

If she couldn’t reach the phone from here, maybe there was a way for her to get closer?

She looked at the pipe she was attached to, following it along the side wall and deeper into the boiler room. It eventually looped its way around back towards the large central machine before hooking into it. About halfway the pipe stretched up towards the roof, and Sunset would be dangling herself from the pipe just to get closer, but it was possible for her to get several feet closer to her phone.

If she could just attach something heavy to one end of her scarf, then hold on to it with her foot, she might just be able to get the last few feet she needed to pull her phone up to herself.

With some effort she began the tedious process of first removing her shoes without her hands, followed by twisting her body around to loosen the scarf around her neck. With a bit of extra twisting and some help from rubbing against the pipe, she was able to loosen her scarf enough to get it to drop to the floor.

With her feet she carefully began the process of lacing one of her boots around the scarf in such a way that she’d be able to toss it while still holding on to it. She wasn’t exactly able to form tight knots with her toes, but with the help of her laces she was getting somewhere, and soon enough she had something she felt was good enough.

“Tying knots with your toes is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.” Sunset grumbled as she tightened the finishing ends. “Let’s hope they don’t come loose now.”

With her makeshift device created, she grabbed the end and gave it a practice toss, praying the boot didn’t come flying off. The boot landed a good few feet from her, then she was able to drag it back towards herself with ease.

“Okay, now I just have to bridge the final few feet and I’ll be able to grab my phone.” Sunset explained to herself, now filled with determination. She grunted as she began to shimmy her hands along the pipe, going deeper into the room and further from her phone for the moment.

The pipes were rough and jagged to move against, not quite the smooth experience she thought they would be. She swore she was brushing up against every nut and bolt that was keeping the pipes secure as she did, not helped by the constant jingle of her phone going off every time it fell silent.

Soon enough she reached the point where the pipe made its way up into the air, and she stood up, following the pipe with her hands. She wasn’t tall enough to quite reach all the way up on her own, so she bent her knees and gave a quick hop, hooking her ropes over the curve.

She hissed as she felt her body weight instantly starting to drag against the rope around her hands, realizing just how much this was going to hurt with her entire weight placed onto the rope. Her toes curled tightly around her scarf, and she started making short hops all the way down the pipe.

Her arms and muscles were already starting to cramp as she made her way along, the realization setting in that this was a lot harder to actually do than it had been in her head. She really was only going to get one chance at this before she ran out of energy completely. Energy she was going to need if she really did end up stuck here for an entire week alone.

With a final grunt she managed to stop next to the large machine, exactly where she wanted to be now. Her feet were dangling a few inches off the ground, but she had made it several feet across from where she had been tied up, and now the scarf should be more than long enough to reach her phone with a good toss.

She lifted her foot up and began to swing it back and forth, needing to aim this just right. If she aimed it correctly, she should have just enough length to reach the phone and start pulling it towards her. Then she can shimmy her way back to the ground, and hopefully make a call with her feet.

Listening to her phone continue to ring, she squeezed the scarf tightly with her toes, pulled her leg back, then flung the scarf forward, just as the door to the boiler room swung open.

“Sunset-!?” Twilight cried out, just in time for the laces of the shoe to come undone from the scarf, sending the shoe flying straight into Twilight’s face.

The lavender girl shrieked from being struck, falling over backwards and hitting the ground with a hard thud. Sunset grimaced, realizing she’d just accidentally clocked her savior with a shoe.

“Twilight! Are you alright!?” Sunset called out.

Twilight groaned as she sat up, rubbing her head from the impact. She gave it a quick shake, before looking up and seeing Sunset dangling from the pipes in front of her. Her eyes widened in shock.

“Wha- Sunset!? What are you doing!?” Twilight quickly got up to her feet and ran over to Sunset, looking the girl over.

“It’s uh, it’s a long story?” Sunset weathered an awkward smile. “Here, help me get back to the ground and then you can untie my hands.” Sunset explained, giving her head a nod over to where the pipe fell back to the floor. 

Twilight nodded her head and grabbed hold of Sunset. With Twilight’s help it was a lot easier to maneuver around the pipe, and soon her feet were back on the floor. She turned around to give Twilight access to her ropes, who quickly began trying to untie her.

"How did you even find me?" Sunset asked a little confused on the matter.

“I borrowed Snail's phone and kept calling you while I was running around the school listening for your ringtone." Twilight explained simply, licking her lips as she struggled with the ropes. "But enough about that, are you going to tell me what happened here? You didn’t meet me at the appointed time and I started to panic…”

“Well, the easy place to start is that our hunch was correct. The Crusaders really were Anon-a-Miss.” Sunset simply explained. “I found the Crusaders in the library and they admitted to being Anon-a-Miss almost immediately. I had them delete the website, and I’m fairly certain they’ve learned their lesson to never do this sort of thing again.”

“Okay.” Twilight said slowly, furrowing her brow. “That doesn’t explain how you ended up here though.”

“Ah, yes, that… Well, as soon as the Crusaders left, I’m fairly certain Gilda ambushed me. Smacked me upside the head with a baton knocking me out.” Sunset chuckled. “I’m guessing she then dragged me here and tied me up, demanding I delete the site. Hilarious timing really, since the site was deleted moments before she hit me.”

“That isn’t funny Sunset!” Twilight chastised. “You could’ve really been hurt! In fact, if you were knocked out, you really should go to the hospital and get checked for a concussion! Those can be very serious you know!”

“Look, Twilight, I’m fine, honest!” Sunset shook her head. “Besides, no one would care if Anon-a-Miss got hurt anyway. She hurt the students so it only makes sense they’d need an outlet for it anyway. Gilda was only doing what came naturally to her and this was the entire reason I’d never personally messed with her in the past. Besides, I probably deserved it anyway, so it’s water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned.”

Twilight went silent at that, having just managed to loosen the ropes enough to set Sunset’s hands free. The redhead let out a sigh of relief at that, rubbing the red marks on her wrists where the rope had been digging into her flesh. She was thinking about what to do next, when her thoughts were interrupted by the weight of Twilight’s arms wrapped around her.

“I care.” Twilight said quietly, burying her face into Sunset’s shoulder. “I care a lot if you get hurt Sunset. It’s not right for you to be the only one who is hurt for all of this, especially when you did nothing wrong. I hate this whole martyr thing you’re doing right now, where just because you did wrong in your past that you have to make up for it in anyway you can now.” Twilight shook her head.

“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if anything had happened to you here…”

Sunset was stunned speechless at Twilight’s words. She hadn’t expected any of this, and though she had always known Twilight cared, the amount she cared was…

Sunset’s arms felt incredibly heavy at the moment, but she slowly lifted them up to grab hold onto Twilight’s arms. She took a deep breath and slowly turned herself around, wrapping her own arms around Twilight in return, closing her eyes as she simply embraced her best friend back.

“...I’m sorry Twilight…” Sunset spoke softly. “I never meant to scare you…”

“Well you did!” Twilight sniffed, squeezing Sunset into a tighter hug. “I just want this whole, stupid ordeal to be over already! I just want you to be happy Sunset!”

“Y-Yeah…” Sunset couldn’t help but sniff too, feeling her own tears starting to form in her eyes. “I’d like that too… But we still need to at least do the final part of my plan, to make it up to everyone for everything that’s happened. Are you still up for that?”

Twilight was silent, and for a moment Sunset thought she might’ve crossed a line.

“This is the last time you sacrifice yourself like this.” Twilight said firmly, pulling back from Sunset just enough to look her in the eyes. “Promise me that.”

“Okay.” Sunset said, a smile spreading across her face. “I promise.”