• Published 10th Apr 2014
  • 8,144 Views, 560 Comments

Seven Days in Sunny June, Book I - Shinzakura



A tale in the Berylverse. Meanwhile, a reality away, Sunset Shimmer's life has changed since she met Princess Twilight...and it's about to change even more, whether she likes it or not.

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November 17: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)

Lazing on the steps of a decaying building in the Industrial District, a pair of young women sat. One was a dark-skinned girl with white hair in a short-but-feathered hairstyle; she wore a white sweatshirt, brown leather jacket and grayish-tan jeans that were frayed at the bottom, matching well-worn yellow sneakers. In contrast, the girl next to her was a blonde, wearing an aqua tracksuit that seemed to gleam in the light. Considering the contrasts, it was hard to believe that the two were friends. But they were, close friends and in fact, thick as thieves – with an emphasis on the thieves part.

Pulling the last cigarette from the pack, Gilda lit it and took a drag. As she did, her friend rolled her eyes. “You know, I’m not sure what’s going to get you faster: shoplifting those things or chain smoking them.”

“Oh, shut the hell up, Dust,” Gilda growled. “And aren’t you supposed to be at track practice today?”

Lightning Dust laughed. “Yeah, and what, they going to kick me off the team for blowing off practice again? Spitfire, Fleetfoot and the others – ain’t none of them faster than me and they know it! It’s why they’re all jealous that they can merely run, but I can fly. Just watch: tryouts for Olympic quals are next year and watch who’ll make the cut – I can promise you it ain’t gonna be Spitfire!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever, Lightning.” Gilda had heard more than enough of her friend’s bragging; when it came to ego, the only one who probably topped her was that sophomore, Rainbow Dash. “So, what’s the plan for the day?”

“Dunno, I got nothing. What about you?”

“Garble’s got Breakfast Club today, so gotta wait until he’s out before we can do anything. After that? Well, I can get creative.”

“Hope you’ve got a thin layer of latex covering that creativity,” Lightning jibed. Leaning back, she said, “And this is why I don’t date guys. All it takes is the wrong fun and Olympic fame is ruined because of a baby bump. No thank you – I’ll just stick to who I’m doing.”

“And speaking of which, how’d that work out? You were telling me about a pair of twins?”

“Oh, yeah!” Lightning’s face lit up with a wolfish grin. “Met them at the Regional Track Meet last month, all the way out in Ponyville. Flitter and Cloudchaser – fast, sleek, the way I like them. Well, my running got them all creamy in their panties and when they told me so, I bet them that if I set a new record for the 400 meter dash, I could have them both; if not, I’d have to entertain the guy of their choosing.”

“And?”

“Set a new record by a full second, of course. And when they were over my house last week?” Dust’s smile was wide. “They got Brazilians, just for me! And oh, Flitter? She moans like no tomorrow, and Cloudchaser’s technique? I don’t have to wonder where she picked that up.”

Gilda shook her head. “Guess it’s true what they say: everything’s better when sisters are together, huh?”

“Oh, you betcha. Got another date set up with them next weekend. Guess I’ll have to read up on the Kama Sut—” Dust suddenly trailed off as she watched a person get off the bus at the stop across the street. “Hey, Gilda, is that who I think it is?”

“Fuck, yeah, you’re right – what the fuck is that bitch doing here?” Gilda wondered, her eyes narrowing. “Either way, I owe that cunt for all the shit she gave me, plus the fact that she’s the reason Garble’s doing Breakfast Club.”

“Well, just you and me, and she’s stupid enough to come here, so…let’s introduce her to the wide, wide world of pain, shall we?” Lightning suggested.

“Heh, don’t have to tell me twice,” Gilda said, reaching for a rusted-off piece of pipe that was previously a stair handle.

I shouldn’t be here, Sunset thought to herself as she got off the bus. For one, the bus only ran through the Industrial District on the way to the freeway and the stops in the suburbs to the south; since it was a weekend, the line ran every two hours, so it was going to be a wait. Shining was on patrol today, so if worst came to, she could probably call him for a ride, but he’d probably want to know why she was here as well – and he’d probably tell Velvet and Night and she’d probably get grounded.

Part of her wasn’t even sure why she was here either, but…she had to come. There was really no other way to explain it. Walking the block towards the lot that held the rattletrap building she called home for the past four years…she knew there’d be nothing there; by now, all the possessions she’d had in that building were probably at the bottom of a trash pile at the County Landfill just outside the Everfree National Forest. But still, she had to come.

To her surprise, work had been done fast; they either were truly concerned about squatters or wanted the distro center up quickly, because the main support stanchions had already been laid, giving the general shape of the facility – it took up both her old lot as well as that of three others. Despite the construction trucks and the building materials, there was a clean, antiseptic feel to the whole place, as if it had pushed away the rotting buildings and detritus of the past, determined to throw it all down the memory hole.

And if all that had come before here was now gone, what did it say about her own life here?

As she ignored the NO TRESPASSING sign and walked onto the grounds, she could almost picture how things had been just even scant weeks before: living on a diet of canned food, sleeping on a dingy mattress and taking cold showers on a regular basis; she’d been lucky that the magic within her must have prevented her from becoming sick or worse through all those years. But the magic hadn’t protected her from the loneliness, or the bitterness, or in the end, what she became.

“Is this what you really meant for me, Celestia?” Sunset spoke aloud, speaking to the sky – and to the alicorn somewhere in a realm beyond it. “Is this my real punishment? For me to start to find some little bit of happiness here before you yank me back to Equestria to do whatever you’re going to do? After I’ve really started to finally adjust being here? Is that my punishment?” Sunset wondered if her former mentor was truly that cruel – but then again, this was the ageless mentor who had beaten unspeakable monsters and countless threats to all of ponydom – Princess Celestia was more than capable of utter ruthlessness, regardless of her normally kind and caring demeanor.

When she went back to steal Twilight’s crown…had that really been what Sunset had thought as a chance, or a carefully-laid trap to ensure that the sun alicorn would know where she was? Were the younger alicorn princess’ words to her a suggestion to improve her life…or a warning that someday divine punishment would come on brutal ivory hooves?

That day would come, eventually, she knew. It could be any second now. Or tomorrow. Or maybe ten years from now, when she’d likely have so much more to lose – maybe a husband, children (assuming she could have any), a life. Ironically, she knew, stuff that had not even remotely been on her mind when she first arrived here.

Please, Princess, if there’s any mercy within you, just leave me here in the dungeon and throw away the key. There’s a human saying about it being better to rule in hell than serve in heaven? I don’t even want to rule anymore – I just want to live my life.

Of course, she didn’t expect an answer. Then again, she hadn’t expected to have a sudden, violent blow at the back of her head. The hit crumpled her to the floor, followed by a sharp kick to her barrel. By the time she’d mentally corrected herself to “ribs”, the pain had already started, she was being hit in a few more places and heard a female laugh. She tried to force herself to her feet, only to feel a fist slam across her face as an all-too familiar voice was laughing at her from behind and above: “How you liking this now, huh? Ain’t nobody here to save you now, Shimmer!”

Stumbling forward, she managed to scramble to her feet, only to take a punch to the stomach that knocked the wind out of her. As she gasped for air, she saw a black blur arc towards her, and while she moved instinctively to dodge it, she was too dazed to move accurately and the bar found its mark, tearing a jag of flesh and drawing a splash of blood from the side of her face. Her vision grayed out momentarily, but before she did, she thought she saw a—

STAB

“NO!”

The next part was a detonation of cyan-hued light and power as Sunset’s survival instincts, suddenly triggered by the serious injury, threw off a wave of magic. Her two assailants, not prepared for the assault, were thrown a ways from Sunset; Gilda crashed behind a stand of I-beams, while Lightning was thrown towards the grass by the sign. As for Gilda’s knife, it spun in a third direction, sinking into the rubble and detritus on a dump truck stationed on-site, ready to take industrial garbage to the county landfill.

As Sunset’s eyesight came to, she had just enough presence of mind to pull out her phone. Hands becoming even number by the second, she was able to dial 911 before passing out.

“Look, I don’t know who’s saying it, but I promise if I find out, I’ll put a stop to it…Yeah, of course! You betcha!...’Kay, Cloudy. Talk to you later. Bye!” As Rainbow disconnected the phone, she swore underneath her breath.

“Something wrong, sugarcube?” Applejack asked. The pair was at the Sweet Apple Supply Stop, Canterlot’s only farm market and organic food store, mainly because today Applejack’s family got in a new supply of the apple-flavored soda that Rainbow was virtually addicted to.

“Yeah. Just talking to some old friends that live out in Ponyville. Remember Cloudchaser and Flitter?”

“You introduced us to them when we went with you to the State Regional Championships back in March, why?”

“Well, apparently someone in school – our school, no less – has been spreading rumors that they’re not only sleeping with somebody, they’re having a three-way with that person…and each other. They found out because someone on the track team for Appaloosa High just propositioned them.”

Applejack’s eyes showed her sudden revulsion at her friend’s words. “T-that’s disgusting!”

“No shit, AJ. I’ve known them since I was a kid; they’re two of the coolest people I know, and they don’t deserve that shit. I swear, if I find out who it is, I’m going to beat the fuck out o—” She was interrupted by the sound of a bike crash outside. The store’s front door was thrown open and as both turned, they saw Fluttershy standing there, gasping for breath.

“Fluttershy! Fhut the wuck? What’s up?” Rainbow asked.

“AJ!” she gasped, struggling for breath. “Need…your help! Rainbow, you too! Gotta…pick….”

As customers in the store were starting to look her way, Applejack’s father simply took the distraught teen by the hand and led her towards the store’s back end while Macintosh went to go get Fluttershy’s bike. Both Applejack and Rainbow took the hint and followed. Finally, as they were in the stock room, Applejack asked, “Now, what’s gotcha all a-flutter, Flutters?”

“We gotta go get Rarity and Pinkie and then go to the hospital!” At that, both AJ and Rainbow knew something was up; Fluttershy’s mother Posey was a doctor at County General, and that usually meant something bad.

“Sure thing, Flutters!” Applejack replied. As she had to drive the store’s delivery van on occasion, she was one of only two in their group who had a driver’s license, Rarity being the other due to her job working for the bridal boutique down the street. “Is everything okay?”

Fluttershy’s next words stopped both Applejack and Rainbow’s hearts: “It’s Sunset – she’s been stabbed!”

“No, officer,” Sunset said as she lay on her hospital bed. “I didn’t really get to see who did it.”

“What were you doing there?” Shining asked, standing there both worried and angry. When the call came over the radio, he had an uneasy feeling, but when the other officer present had described the stabbing victim, he went into overdrive, having arrived at County General even before the ambulance and on-scene officer.

“Shining, I understand that you’re a member of her family,” the interviewing officer said, a testy look in his eyes, “but…let me handle this, okay?”

“Yeah, sorry Whiplash,” Shining said, scratching his head in embarrassment.

“Look, Shining, I know it was dumb of me, but…I had to go,” she said, shivering slightly as her body recovered from the wound. “I had to see if—”

“SUNSET!” Twilight and Octavia rushed into the room, followed in short order by Velvet.

“Easy, Twily, she’s not dead,” Shining said. “Doctor said that the knife missed her vitals, but they’re going to keep her here overnight for observation.”

“Are you okay?” the purple-haired girl asked, worry in her eyes.

She’s worried about me? But I…. Sunset looked and saw the same level of concern within Octavia’s and Velvet’s eyes as well. And obviously Shining had been concerned enough to head over here while he was still on duty.

“Spike and your father are on the way here from Spike’s Little League practice,” Velvet told her son, “so if you need to go, we’ll be here.”

“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem if I stay,” he answered. “Whiplash, do you—”

“No, not at all,” the other officer said. “In fact, since you’re family, she might just open up to you more than a stranger. Just give me a copy of the report so I can file it. Just don’t forget to keep it professional or the Sergeant’ll chew your ass out like he did with Cruiser last month.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Shining nodded as the other officer departed. With that, he then looked at Sunset. “You were saying?”

Sunset just couldn’t help but turn her head away from them. The looks of hurt and disappointment in their faces was more than she could bear. “The place was my home for four years, Shining,” she told him. “I appreciate everything you have all done for me, really, but when I first arrived...in town, I mean…that place was all I had. And…I had to go back. Haven’t you ever wanted to see where you came from?” she asked.

The look on Velvet’s face was sympathetic. “I know how you feel. After my mother passed away three years ago, we all spent in an extra week in San Diego, where I’m originally from, so I could show the kids the, ahem, ‘cheese tour.’ So I can understand – those years were probably the hardest you’ve ever faced, because you did it entirely alone.”

“But you’re not alone anymore,” Twilight said, giving Sunset a huge smile. Reaching over to take one of the injured girl’s hands in her own, she said, “You’re with us now, Sunny, and we’re always going to be here for you.”

A curious look came over Sunset’s face. “‘Sunny’?” she drolled.

Twilight smiled. “Yup!” she chirped happily. “Just gonna call you that from now on – it suits you better; ‘Sunset’ sounds too dour.”

Octavia nodded slightly. “Just roll with it, Sunny. You stay in this family long enough you get a vowel attached to the end of your name. It’s how it works,” she said with a grin.

“Girls, I know you’re worried about her, but I need to finish up the report,” Shining admonished them.

“Sorry, Shiny,” both Twilight and Octavia said at once.

“Well, this is probably a little too overwhelming for you,” Velvet admitted, “so we’ll just wait outside until Shining is done. Let’s go, gi—”


“SUNNY!” Pinkie belted out as she strode into the already-crowded room, carrying a huge cake adorned with the words GET WELL SOON SUNSET OR ELSE WE’LL REALLY FEEL SAD IF YOU DON’T AND SINCE WE’RE YOUR FRIENDS AND YOU DON’T WANT US TO FEEL SAD OR CRY – ESPECIALLY FLUTTERSHY SINCE YOU KNOW HOW SENSITIVE SHE IS – THEN YOU’D BETTER GET WELL SOON SO WE CAN HAVE A BIG ‘SUNSET GOT WELL, WOO-HOO!’ PARTY AT THE CAFÉ! “We were rea—” Pinkie suddenly stopped.

“You know, I am never going to figure out how she does any of the stuff she does,” Rainbow said, shaking her head as she entered the room.

“It’s Pinkie, Rainbow,” Fluttershy said softly. “She just has a way with things.” Fluttershy would have said further to her friend, save that both of them stopped, enraptured at the same thing that caught her friend’s attention.

“Sunset, dear,” Rarity said as she strolled in, a package under her arm. “I know how simply horrible and drafty those hospital gowns can be, so I stopped by the hospital supply store and got you one of those colorful nurse’s smocks that they wear. I hope that you….” Rarity suddenly paused as she also caught what the others were looking at.

“Rares, you make a better window than a door, so do you mind….” Applejack was now caught by what her friends were staring at. Indeed, all five were completely enraptured by the image that was before them.

As the quintet stared at Twilight, she suddenly felt self-conscious. “Um…is there something on my face?” she asked, blushing.

“Toldja you should’ve skipped the extra barbecue sauce,” Octavia said from behind her.

Suddenly, Pinkie started vibrating as a wide smile came over her face. It would have been imperceptible to anyone else, but to those who knew her well enough, they knew exactly what was about to happen, and what needed to be stopped immediately. Sunset gave her friends a pleading Get her out of here now! look, and seeing her silent plea, the others snapped into action.

“C’mon, Pinks,” Applejack said, reaching out to grab the hyperactive teen while Rarity carefully stepped in to remove the sizable cake from Pinkie’s hands before she went supernova.

“Fluttershy, be a dear and help me with this beast of a cake,” Rarity asked. “I’ve no idea how Pinkie carried it and it’s rather – ugh – heavy.”

“Here, let me help you with that,” Rainbow offered as she stepped in to grab the other half of the two-foot-tall cake. As the two made their way out of the room, Fluttershy was there with the others and smiled meekly before murmuring, “Um, hi…we’ll…be outside.” Before they could even acknowledge her, Fluttershy rushed out of the room as fast as she could.

“Your friends?” Velvet asked, a somewhat amused smile breaking onto her face.

Sunset facepalmed. “I wonder if there’s a way I can stay here in the hospital for the rest of my life,” she moaned.

“It’s her!” Pinkie chirped, vibrating with excitement fast enough to practically break the speed of sound on her own. “It’s really, really, really, really her!”

Applejack shook her head. “No, sugarcube, it’s not. You know it’s not,” she said, patting Pinkie on the shoulder. “This is the one that belongs here. We don’t know her.”

“That, of course, doesn’t mean we can’t get to know her, however,” Rarity said as she and Rainbow hefted the huge cake out of the room while the various medical staff stared at them all. Eventually one of them got the hint and brought a gurney up so that the girls could put the sizable foodstuff on it. “Thank you sir,” the teen fashionista told the nurse. “Would you mind seeing if you have any cutlery and plates? We have more than enough cake for everyone.”

“Probably more than enough for the whole hospital,” Rainbow muttered.

“Girls? What are you doing here?” The rest turned to see Fluttershy’s mother, Posey, walking towards them. The woman looked much like her daughter, almost like an older sister than anything else and for a woman in her late forties, she held her age very well.

“Hi, Mom,” Fluttershy said as she stepped out of the hospital room. “They’re, um, with me.” Once again, Rarity eyed mother and daughter and was amazed about how nearly identical the two looked; save for Fluttershy’s slightly larger bust and Posey’s half-inch or so extra in height, they easily could have passed as siblings.

Posey shook her head. “Flutters, dear, I called you because I wanted you to know…but I wasn’t expecting you to bring your friends. Sunset will be out tomorrow; we’re only keeping her overnight for observation and further testing,” she said.

As the five girls signed in relief, Fluttershy gave her mother a very contrite look – of the Bambi kind. “Sorry, Mom.”

Posey smiled in response. “Sorry, puppy-eyes aren’t going to work on me. I already used them on your father, twice; that’s how I ended up with you and Angel.” At that point, Velvet, Octavia and Twilight walked out of the room as well and Posey offered a hand to the family matron. “Ms. Twilight Velvet, I presume? Hi, I’m Dr. Posey. I understand you’re the legal guardian of Sunset Shimmer?”

“That’s correct. Is she going to be okay?”

At this point the orderly returned with supplies and Pinkie immediately started cutting the cake, handing the servings out. As Posey took one, she said, “Okay, since you’re all here, I may as well tell you. The good news is that the stab wound didn’t do any serious damage; she’ll be fine and thanks to the minor surgery she will only have a tiny scar there. The bad news – if you can really call it that – is that we have to keep her here overnight because we have to do a second round of blood tests.”

“Why is that? I know she’s…had some issues in the past before she ended up with us, Doctor,” Velvet asked. Behind her, Octavia and Twilight shared worried looks; at the same time, the five friends did as well. While Velvet, Twilight and Octavia were worried about Sunset’s overall health, the five Canterlot High teens were worried about something of an entirely different nature when it came to the injured girl – quite literally an entirely different nature. “Is there something wrong with her overall health?”

“Well, she’s a bit malnourished, but as my daughter Fluttershy knows her,” Posey said, motioning to the chiffon-haired teen, “I was somewhat aware of her past. No, my concern is that she’s got a very rare antigen in her blood, and we couldn’t use any of the standard stocks we have on-site. Fortunately, we were lucky enough that she didn’t lose a lot of blood, and we’re an FDA Phase III test site for Hemopure synthetic blood, so we were able to administer some of that – but I will need you to sign some release forms, Ms. Velvet.”

“Very rare antigen?” Twilight asked, her interest piqued.

Posey nodded. “Yes. She’s got what’s technically known as A2B-negative blood, which is found in only two percent of the national population. The antigen in question is usually found in ungulates, primarily equines – horses, specifically – and very rarely in primates, much less people.”

“Y' don’t say,” Applejack drawled, though she said nothing further.

“But we’ll do some extra tests, and if we confirm her as A2B-negative, we can contact UCLA Medical Center down in Los Angeles. They’re the regional control point for the National Emergency Blood Supply, and as I understand it they carry stocks of A2B-negative.”

“But will she be okay?” Twilight asked once more, and the other girls looked at her. The teen looked worried, as though she was about to lose something important in her life.

“We have my colleague, Dr. Redheart, working on the tests now – she’s the best there is. Don’t worry, Sunset will be fine, I promise.” The resulting sighs in the hallway were enough to make passersby think the building was deflating. Finishing up the cake, she said to them all, “Now, I hate to run, all, but I’ve still got to make my rounds. Fluttershy, I’m going to be home late tonight, and since your brother’s staying at his friend’s place for the birthday party, you just need to take care of yourself, okay? I can just grab a salad in the cafeteria.”

“Okay, Mom. See you later,” Fluttershy said, giving her mother a peck on the cheek before Posey headed off on her rounds.


“Well, so, you’re all Sunset’s friends?” Twilight asked as she looked at the other girls present. They were all looking at her with a mixture of surprise and familiarity, as if they knew her for some reason. The only one that looked familiar to her was the girl with the deep purple wave hairstyle, but that was more from the times she’d just happened to see her at the mall more than anything else. The rest were completely foreign to her.

The blonde wearing the waist-length ponytail nodded. “Ah’m Applejack, and this is Rainbow Dash—”

“Heya.”

“—Rarity—”

“An absolute pleasure to make your acquaintances,” Rarity said, with a smile.

“—Fluttershy—”

“Um, hi,” Fluttershy squeaked, trying to hide behind her hair, the piece of cake she was still eating and Rarity while trying not to look impolite.

“—and the hyperactive girl over there is Pinkie.”

“Hi, Twilight!” Pinkie said, leaping at Twilight almost instantly and enveloping her in a hug. “Say, do you like Twilight or Twi? Because the last Twilight we knew kinda liked it, but we weren’t sure and we can’t exactly ask her now because she went back to her home dimension an—”

“Okay, Pinks, you’re overwhelming the girl,” Rainbow said, pulling the curly-haired teen off Twilight.

“Is she usually like this?” Twilight asked, half-confused, half-amused and wondering if she should be offended.

“No, usually she’s too out there to be this freaky,” Rainbow replied, giving Pinkie an irritated glare.

“Well, I’m Twilight Sparkle, and this is my cousin, Octavia Melody.”

“Well, girls, I’m not sure the hospital is the best place to do this,” Velvet said, noting that Night Light and Spike were coming out of the elevator, both looking concerned as well. “Let me update my husband on the situation quickly. In fact, while I’m doing that, why don’t you all go out for coffee?”

“I know where the hospital cafeteria is, if we all want to head there,” Fluttershy offered.

“Great idea, Flutters,” Pinkie suggested.

Twilight looked at Velvet. “Mom, maybe we’d all best meet in the lobby?” the teen recommended.

“That’s a great idea,” Velvet stated. “You all head there and we’ll join you as soon as we can.”

“So, how do you guys know Sunset?” Twilight asked, taking a drink from a double-chocolate raspberry mocha. From the looks on that of both Twilight and her cousin, Applejack noted, this seemed more like an interrogation than anything else – this Twilight definitely didn’t seem as friendly as the alien princess that they knew.

Applejack started. “Well, Ah met her when we moved here to Canterlot couple of years ago from Heavener, Oklahoma – mah family had a farm there, but things didn’t do too well so we moved here to take over mah grandpa’s old store. So Sunset and Ah met then, in junior high. And truthfully, let’s just say things’re better now than they were back then.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Rainbow continued. “As for me, I’ve probably known her the longest. Met her back in Seventh Grade when I moved here from Cloudsdale. She was a bitch back then and we’ve done a couple of mano a mano dances, but…I like her the way she is now.”

Rarity was next. “Well, Fluttershy and I met her last year during our freshman year. It…didn’t go well, and frankly if you’d asked me back then, I would have said I wouldn’t want to have a single thing to do with her. Thankfully, I’ve been proven wrong.”

“Pass,” Pinkie said. A second later, she said, “She used to pick on me a lot because I’m somewhat excitable, admittedly, but I never let it really get to me. But now that she’s my friend? It’s totally awesome!”

“Well, what about you two?” Rarity asked. “Forgive me for inquiring, but you seem very concerned about her well-being, considering that neither of you are related to her.”

Twilight took another sip from her coffee, then looked at Rarity. “She…I know this is going to sound funny, but I almost feel as though I have to be there for her. Yes, she’s living with us now, and Tavi and I could probably ignore her without an issue. But from everything I’ve known about her for the past month, she was someone who’s been hurt terribly, someone who’s been forced, in a sense, to live by herself all this time, and has nothing, really. From what it sounds like, she didn’t even really have you as friends until recently.”

The five girls looked at each other. “That’d be truthful, Ms. Twilight—”

“Please, just call me Twily,” the girl said. “If we’re going to be friends, then Twily’s fine.”

Applejack grinned. “Then it’s ‘AJ’ for me. Anyway, yeah – after the incident at Homecoming, we came into her lives the way we are now.”

“Yeah, definitely,” Rainbow said, popping herself into the conversation, much to Applejack’s relief. While she didn’t want to lie to Twilight and Octavia, she’d never been very good at falsehoods, as if being honest was an elemental part of her life. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on the situation), Rainbow’s thing was loyalty to friends and as such, she had no compunctions about lying. “Yeah. Earlier, she was a total sack of shit. But that night, after the building fell apart and she got dumped from being the Homecoming Queen, she came to the five of us. Maybe it was because she picked on us more than anyone in the school, or maybe it was because she felt we’d be able to give her a second chance, but she promised us that she’d change her ways, and in the past few weeks, she has been. And she knows that lots of other students at school won’t give her a second chance – hell, a few of them, are probably even carrying a grudge. But she’s really trying and for that, she’s got my friendship, no doubt.”

“Mine too,” Applejack agreed.

“I daresay that goes for all of us, ladies,” Rarity added, while Fluttershy nodded.

“Well, girls, if you’ll keep an eye out for her at school, we’ll do the same at home,” Octavia answered. “Oh, and by the way, you can just call me Tavi.”

“Sounds like we’ve got a plan then,” Rainbow said. “Now, the next thing: gotta find out who the fuck did this to her.” Turning to her fellow Canterlot High students, the athlete then said, “Based on who we know could have done this, my guess is…” Her face went crestfallen as she added, “…pretty much any student on campus except the five of us.”

“Really? Please tell me you’re kidding, Rainbow,” Octavia said, somewhat surprised at Sunset’s “accomplishment.”

“No, I’m not. And maybe there was a time where you could have theoretically added us to that list, too,” Rainbow told the other girl. “But it’s different now. Whatever she’s done in the past, Sunset’s my friend now and I’m not going to let whoever hurt her do it again.”

She found herself standing on the thinnest of planks, crossing a gigantic gorge that she could not see where she came from or where she was headed – if either direction actually existed. Below her, she saw nothing but a massive chasm, similar to either Ghastly Gorge back in Equestria or the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Above her, the sky was nothing more than a blank, bulbous collection of thunderheads, the kind that pegasi steer clear of at all costs, as they are out of control. In fact, she noted tiny rivulets of bluish-white plasma race through the clouds, darting here and there as the lightning precursor prepared to cut a sharp jag across the sky.

“You’ll never escape, Sunset,” a voice said behind her. Sunset turned to find Princess Twilight Sparkle standing there on the beam, her wings and horn prominent and her regalia shining like the first gleaming of the sun. “You will always run, because you aren’t willing to change.”

“But I am, Twilight!” Sunset shouted. “You asked me to and I’m doing so! It’s just…these things don’t happen instantly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know – or Canterlot, for that matter!”

“But you are running out of time, Sunset! And instead of learning, all you’re doing is just running away!”


“No, she’s not!” A second voice broke the din. Sunset turned towards the direction she was walking…to face Twily standing there, arms folded. She was wearing all black, and looked like something out of one of those ridiculous sci-fi films that Rainbow always raved about.

“And how would you know?” Twilight asked Twilight.

“Because I believe in her!” the human shouted to the alicorn, “And if you truly cared about her, so would you! She’s trying to turn over a new leaf! Her friends have stood by her and now her family will, too!”

“She has no family. She spurned the one she had when she attacked Celestia.”

“She has us! Me, Tavi, my brothers, my parents, and whoever else will come into her life! And we’ll help her to make that life!” Twily shouted.

“Then prove it,” Twilight Sparkle challenged Twilight Sparkle.

Twily responded to the challenge by reaching a hand out to Sunset, saying, “Let’s go home, Sunny.”

“But why? Why me?” Sunset asked.

“Because you aren’t who you were. Before, you were Sunset Shimmer, a power-obsessed unicorn. Now, you don’t know who you are. But you know who you want to be, and we’ll help you, Sunny.”

“We?” In response, the distance lit up with five flares of power: orange, red, blue, purple and green; after a few seconds, Sunset could see the silhouettes of Applejack, Rainbow, Pinkie, Rarity and Fluttershy within them. She then noticed that Twily was glowing magenta as well – the same color that the Element of Magic had been before it rejected her.

She heard a noise behind her and turning, Sunset was horrified to see the demon that she had been, standing there, laughing at her. “Run away, run as far as you can!” the creature laughed. “You’ll never be able to escape the worst monster you’ll ever know – yourself!” The demon would have laughed more had it not been suddenly slammed by a sudden blast of rainbow-hued magic. Sunset winced sympathetically; she understood what it was like to be on the receiving end of a “Greetings from the Death Star”-type magic blast before, and it was not pretty.

Suddenly the plank beneath her snapped, and she fell…

…only to be caught by the hand by Twily, standing there, pulling her up as effortlessly as a feather.

“Why?” Sunset found herself asking.

Twily only smiled and said, “Because.”


Sunset opened her eyes in the relative darkness of the hospital room, lit only by the blue glow of the health monitor’s LED screen and a desklamp on the other side of the room. She felt completely exhausted, but she expected that as she was still recovering. The rest of her convalescence would be in bed back at home, but far better that than having to stay another day in the dull and antiseptic environs of the hospital.

Seeing that the clock on the wall read a stately 11:06 in the evening, Sunset decided that it was for the best that she go back to sleep. She was about to close her eyes, when she felt her right hand brush against something. Looking down, she picked up a Smarty Pants ragdoll. She recalled hearing somewhere that the doll had once been a competitor to the better-known Raggedy Ann, but that the toymaker that produced it went out of business back in the 1980s. The character had thus fallen into the public domain, and was mostly forgotten by about all but senior citizens and collectors.

Holding up the rag doll with its button eyes, gray yarn hair and polka-dotted dress, Sunset then noticed there was a note pinned to it:

Sunset grinned. Ignoring the pain in her side, she reached over and grabbed the iPod, putting in headphones, then as she took Twily’s Smarty Pants doll under her arm, cued up the first track, and by the time Discord’s smoky baritone started belting out the lyrics to “Love’s Like an Insane Chimera” she had already dozed off, a smile on her face.

“And you promised to take me to singing practice after school, right?” Sweetie Belle asked Rarity as the pair arrived on the grounds of the school.

“Yes, yes, yes, I promise,” Rarity said. Since she had to run a bunch of errands after school today, she was borrowing her mother’s car, and then when that happened, Sweetie made her agree to that as well. Rarity sighed; at least it wasn’t taking her to her weekly Girl Scouts meeting. Those usually involved her, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo in their latest madcap adventure to see what badge the trio could collect…and usually the results fared from a royal mess to the results likely needing to be classified as a Superfund cleanup site.

“Okay, you promised!” she said in that wavering mezzo-soprano tone of hers.

“Yes, I did, Sweetie,” Rarity groaned once again, rolling her eyes. “Now get going.”

“Okay! See you later!” With that, the girl ran down walkway towards the nearby separate building that housed Canterlot Junior High and all the trouble-making seventh- and eighth-graders within its middle school bounds. Sweetie, along with Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, would be graduating this year, then joining their older sisters within the buildings that housed Canterlot High. But, Rarity figured, she still had the whole year to figure out how she was going to survive being in the same school as her sister again.

“Hello, Rarity.” The fashionista paused and saw Fluttershy walking up, wearing a familiar butter-yellow sweatshirt that was entirely too snug for her own good and had a stenciled pair of wings on the back. She also wore too-tight jeans and matching yellow Converse sneakers. Rarity sighed; as always, Fluttershy somehow managed to look devastatingly good in whatever she wore…and furthermore, wasn’t aware of it.

“Hello, Fluttershy, dear. You look tired.”

“I am,” she admitted. “Apparently some of the kids at the birthday party were picking on Angel, so the birthday boy’s mother dropped him off before he got into another fight.” Rarity sympathized with her friend; Angel had been born hearing-and-speech impaired, and while he was patient with his sister and mother, that same patience rarely extended beyond them. From what she heard, Sunset’s younger foster brother Spike could be somewhat of a brat, but surely he couldn’t hold a candle to Angel’s temperament.

“Anyway, I had to order a pizza – he insisted on it – and then had to get him ready for bed, and that was before I realized I forgot to do my homework since we were all focused on Sunset. I was up – yawn – until about three in the morning,” she groaned. “I know we were planning to take Sunset her homework and then go to the movies afterwards, but if you don’t mind, I think I’ll skip out on that.”

“Oh, no, I’d quite insist, darling. A lady needs her beauty sleep and yours is such a delicate beauty that I wouldn’t want…you…to….” As they approached the front of the school, the pair noticed a bunch of students standing around in a sizable crowd. Usually that meant something “interesting” and that could go either way.

As one of the students passed by, she stopped him. “Excuse me, do you know what that’s about?”

“Yeah,” he laughed. “Bitch finally got her comeuppance! Glad to see that someone had the stones to knock Sunset Shimmer a peg or two down from her almighty throne!”

“Sunset? But she’s in the—” Rarity began before Fluttershy shook her head to hint to keep silent; that information likely wasn’t public yet. Rarity took the hint and together they went off to see what the crowd was doing.


As they arrived in the crowd’s immediate perimeter, Rainbow and Applejack were already standing there. As they arrived, Rainbow immediately took the chiffon-haired teen and said, “C’mon, Flutters, you don’t need to see this.”

“But I—”

Trust me – you don’t need to see this.” Her tone insistent, Fluttershy followed Rainbow as the pair walked towards the other side of the school and the entrance here.

“Dodged that bullet,” Applejack said to Rarity. “Ah’d say ‘Good Morning’, but honestly, it ain’t. Pinkie already went to go get a teacher.”

“Why?”

“Trust me, sugarcube, you don’t wanna know. Ah know you’re made of sterner stuff than Flutters, but even you don’t wanna see this.” The look in the blonde’s eyes indicated that she hadn’t necessarily wanted to see it, either.

“I insist.”

“Rares—”

“Some jerk said it was about Sunset. I think, as her friend, I should be quite concerned.”

“Yeah,” Applejack said in a soft voice, as she pointed towards the pile of students. “You should be.” As Rarity made her way towards the center of the pile, she noticed one of the other students in her geometry class – Bon-Bon – rush away towards the grass before she threw up her breakfast. Bon-Bon’s girlfriend, Lyra Heartstrings, was already there to help her, but the look in Lyra’s golden eyes was one of anger and disgust.

Finally, Rarity reached the center of the pile and looked to see what the whole thing was.

She had just enough time to get out of there before she threw up as well.