• Published 7th Oct 2014
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Sunset Shimmer: Element Bearer - ConningOfficer



A heroine instead of a villain, Sunset Shimmer becomes a leader to her friends at Canterlot High. She begins by helping Sonata Dusk after the Battle of the Bands...

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Chapter One

In the back row of her first period class, Sunset Shimmer’s green eyes widened in shock and her mouth fell open as she read the end of Twilight Sparkle’s brief note once more. Before her surprise was registered by any other students, Vice Principal Luna’s voice over the loudspeaker jolted her back to the world of Canterlot High School.

“Good morning, Wondercolts! Today is Monday, and we will observe a normal eight-period schedule today…”

Sunset tuned out the routine announcements, slowly closed the big Equestrian book and eased it into her book bag, safely out of sight. As Luna droned on, the literature teacher took a sip of her coffee and began to outline on the chalkboard a discussion of Animal Farm, a book that Sunset had read only enough of to realize it hit too close to home. Interrupting her thoughts, she heard Sonata softly sniffling behind her.

Almost on cue, Luna concluded by noting, “…I realize that the Battle of the Bands was an intense experience for all of you. If you believe you are ill, please visit Nurse Redheart.”

Brushing a lock of red-and-gold hair out of her face, Sunset saw her chance to find out what was wrong with the dim member of the Dazzlings, get out of literature class and get her mind around Twilight’s “theory.” Besides, she was more comfortable with action than abstract work.

Not asking permission, Sunset declared, “Miss Raven, I’m taking Sonata to the nurse’s office.” She stood, quickly gathered her belongings, grabbed the blue-haired girl by the wrist and the pair exited into the hallway, with every eye in the classroom following them to the door. She was suddenly worried about the total lack of resistance from the injured girl.

Her good mood dispelled, Sunset kept moving towards a part of the school that was more private and more familiar. Great, she’s turned into Fluttershy on a bad day, Sunset Shimmer thought, but I’ve got to find out what’s going on.

Aloud, she added, “Follow me, Sonata. We need to talk. Besides, I didn’t say when I was taking you to see Nurse Redheart.”

The reply was barely audible. “Okay.”

With a wry twist of her lips, Sunset looked at the still-flickering fluorescent light outside of the maintenance equipment storage room. The darkness in this corner of the school hadn’t felt right to her for several months, but a little discomfort was far better than having their conversation interrupted by Miss Cheerilee in the library or being dragged into either Celestia or Luna’s office.

Sunset pointed at a long, low wooden bench against a tile wall in the tiny, dimly lit room. Mops, brooms and other cleaning implements were their only company. Sonata sat down and balled up once again, her lilac eyes now wide with fear.

“Okay, it’s only us Equestrians now. Tell me what in Tartarus is going on! Why did you come back here?”

“I didn’t know what else to do,” the blue-skinned girl said mechanically, “I’ve never been alone like this.”

“Alone?” Despite her annoyance with Sonata, she remembered the first moons of her own exile to this world. “What about your, um, colleagues, friends, sisters or whatever? What did they do?”

“They threw me out!” The tears were coming more freely now that Sonata had realized she wasn’t in immediate danger. “More than a thousand years together, and they left me! They said they would be better off as a duet instead of a trio, and that I was weak for accepting my defeat.”

Sunset felt the pit of her stomach clench and suppressed an uncomfortable frown, because she could easily believe that before being blasted by Twilight’s rainbow, she would have offered the same insults as Aria and Adagio. She had certainly treated Snips and Snails like slaves for nearly a year.

”Adagio became furious when I told her that we needed to make the best of this, that we need help because we didn’t even know what we were with our pendants destroyed.” Sonata stopped crying and looked up. “I asked her if we were still Sirens, but without our powers. I know I’m not as smart as she is, but when I asked her if we had become humans, she snapped. She punched me in the face, threw me to the ground and hit and kicked me until Aria pulled her off.”

Sonata pulled up the sweatshirt from her waist a bit to show another ugly bruise across her ribs, this one worse than the one on her face. “They stomped off, leaving me in the alley. That was Saturday night. The school was locked, or I would have hidden here earlier.”

Sunset sat down on the bench. Like her cutie mark, her emotions were two sides of a single whole. One side of her wanted to exact revenge on this enemy that had nearly destroyed all that she held dear in this world. That side of her reveled in Sonata’s distress and the consequences of her evil actions. The other side remembered Twilight’s lavender hand reaching down into the crater and pulling her out, remembered the softness, long ago, of being embraced by white feathers.

“Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. You and I are going to go to Nurse Redheart and get you checked out. I’m not sure what she can do for you, but I know that I healed from minor injuries a lot faster than those who were born here. A little human medical skill could go a long way.”

“I guess.”

“Next question. You look like you haven’t eaten or slept since the Battle of the Bands, am I right?” Sunset asked.

“Uh-huh.”

“Fine, go to sleep in the nurse’s office, and I’ll bring you some food from the cafeteria when it opens at lunch. I know she won’t wake you up and send you back to class, since you’re hurt this badly. I’ll track you down by the end of the school day and check in on you.”

Sonata mustered up a weak smile. “That sounds good.”

“Then let’s go.”

------

While Applejack would have been angry with her, a little stretching of the truth went a long way with Nurse Redheart. Fortunately, Sonata knew enough to keep her mouth shut while Sunset spun a tale about an unlikely accident. But, she achieved her goal, and the nurse, with her hat perfectly positioned on her head, admitted the patient and began her examination. Dismissed by the medical provider, Sunset exited the office and checked the large clock on the wall. It wasn’t quite time for lunch, but if she hurried, she’d be able to grab some hot food, take it back to Sonata and still have her entire lunch period with the other girls.

“Too bad for Sonata it’s not Taco Tuesday, but I don’t think she’ll complain,” mused Sunset to herself as Granny Smith gave her an extra-large helping and a conspiratorial wink. Grabbing a couple of apples for herself, she delivered lunch. Nurse Redheart placed a finger to her lips and pointed to a peacefully sleeping Sonata Dusk. She smiled, shrugged and returned to the cafeteria just in time for the bell to ring.

Taking her normal place at the lunch table, Sunset waited for her friends to arrive. She pulled the Equestrian book with the sunburst on the cover out of her bag and set it carefully on the table, while idly munching an apple with the other hand.

Pinkie Pie, her tray piled high with four desserts and with no discernible nutrition to be seen, bounded down to the end of the table, nearly creating a frosting avalanche in the process.

“Can you believe what Granny Smith gave me? No mystery food today! It’s the four Pinkie Pie Super Duper Looper Food Groups! Cupcakes, Pies, Candy and Donuts! Everything has extra frosting on it!” exclaimed the curly-headed dynamo. “Hey, I haven’t seen you all day. The last I heard…”

“…is that you skipped out of Ms. Raven’s class with that blue, two-legged excuse for a fruit bat,” declared Applejack disapprovingly in her country twang. “I’m warning you, that girl is more trouble than a tractor with a bum clutch.” She pushed her hat further back on her head, deep green eyes keenly appraising Sunset Shimmer.

“I think she did the right thing, Applejack!” stated an unusually firm Fluttershy, brushing a lock of hair from her face. “That girl was hurt, and no matter what she tried to do to us in the past, she needed help and Sunny gave it to her!”

“Please don’t call me that, Fluttershy,” groaned Sunset Shimmer.

A loud voice interrupted, “Yeah? From the sounds of it, she may need to balance her face, and I’m thinking I might be the one to do it if she even thinks about singing anywhere close to me!” Rainbow Dash turned her chair around and sat down, leaning forward against the back. “Come on! You got zapped with a magic blast from a hundred-foot-tall alicorn! Don’t come around here no more, Sonata, and take the rest of your terrible trio with you.”

“Rainbow Dash! Such rudeness,” lectured a perfectly-coiffed Rarity as she completed the group. “While I have little liking for the Dazzlings, magical powers or no, we have to support our friend’s judgment.” Rarity looked meaningfully at Sunset Shimmer. “And I think this is the part where you tell us what happened, darling.”

Rainbow Dash opened her mouth to continue arguing playfully, but stopped when she looked at Sunset and saw a combination of impatience and discomfort. She covered it with a quick, “Yeah, spill the beans!”

She told the story as completely as she could. The five girls went from skeptical, to interested, and finally to varying degrees of understanding.

“So, basically, you bought time for us to figure out what we should really do with Sonata,” summed up Applejack, with a much warmer tone in her voice than before.

“It was sort of impulse, AJ. What do you think we should do next?”

Rainbow Dash interjected, “We? I’m not so sure about that…”

“Quiet, you,” Applejack halted Rainbow Dash's tirade before it gained momentum. “I’m not having Sonata sleep on the streets or in the library or something after that. No offense to Twilight, but there’s no way I could do that for three nights in a row. There’s plenty of room at the farm, and we could put her up for a few days, but only if she behaves.”

“Applejack, do you mind if I come along and help keep an eye on her?” Sunset, with no parents or family of her own in this world, often rotated between her friends’ homes to avoid a tiny efficiency apartment that held too many reminders of bad choices in the past.

“Not at all, Sunset, but you know I’m going to put you to work. If nothing else, it keeps you from looking at my brother too closely,” laughed Applejack.

“Okay. That’s settled for now. But, that’s still not the most amazing thing that happened today. I have to show this to you all. I used the book, and it worked!” Sunset’s excitement caused the others to lean forward in anticipation. “But, I don’t know what to make of it quite yet. I didn’t expect Twilight to write back so quickly, and then, well, it’s been quiet.”

“Let’s have a look, then. Besides, she is the Princess of Friendship now. Just be glad she hasn’t delegated her writing to that cute little dog, Spike,” giggled Rarity.

All six pored over Twilight’s response. Sunset Shimmer wasn’t quite ready yet to show them the page containing her initial letter. She still wanted something private to share with Twilight, as a fellow Equestrian and skilled magic user.

Fluttershy was the first to break the silence. “Um, I don’t know much about magic other than when we play our music, but something felt stronger and a bit different when you sang with us and defeated the Dazzlings,” her voice dropped to a whisper. “Maybe Twilight is on to something.”

Pinkie went through impossible facial contortions offering her explanation. “Well you were bad. Then you were REALLLY bad! Then you were a demon and KERBLAMMO, you got zapped by the same magic you were wearing on your head, plus some from Equestria. Then you kinda, sorta had nothing for a while. Next thing you know you were good, you stopped us from fighting, and then you…”

“...were AWESOME by picking up the mike and raining down musical justice on those harpies,” interrupted Rainbow Dash.

“But, we still have more questions than answers, my dear,” added Rarity. “We can’t control the little magic we have without Twilight, and since this has only happened to you once, Sunset, we don’t know how this works for you.”

Sunset Shimmer shrugged her leather-clad shoulders. “Well, there’s only one way to find out. Band practice. Tomorrow. But, we need to get Sonata settled first.” A disturbing thought passed through her head. “And we need to learn if Adagio and Aria still pose a threat to her or to us. Their magic may seem to be gone, but there are plenty of awful things they can do without magic. Trust me on that.”

With that declaration, the big book in the center of the table buzzed, and the sunburst in the center of the cover flared briefly.

“Ooooooh!!! OPENITNOWANDREADIT!!!” screamed an uncontainable Pinkie Pie.

“Pinkie, that doesn’t help us keep this between us,” cautioned Sunset Shimmer.

Her eyes narrowed as she looked all around the room. Placing an arm around her shoulders, Pinkie stage whispered, “Okay. I understand. It’s a SEEEE-CRET!”

Rolling her eyes, she opened the book:

Dear Sunset Shimmer,

I’m very sorry for such a short reply earlier. We are rebuilding Ponyville, and there are so many ponies counting on me and my friends here right now that it’s overwhelming. To be honest, I’d much rather go to my new library and research what happened with you, adding to what I know as the Elements of Harmony. It’s complicated, but the Elements aren’t as mobile as they used to be. Anyway, Celestia warned me that I would have less time for research as others depended on me more, but I assure you I will set aside time for you.

First, please tell the girls from Canterlot High that I miss them already and will find a better time to visit. Their Equestrian counterparts are trying to figure out musical instruments because of the stories I’ve told them, but I don’t think that pony hooves are made for human basses, guitars or tambourines. Pinkie, of course, has found a way to play the drums. Nopony has slept in days.

Second, as you probably figured out, Equestria had a major problem a few moons ago and we’re still rebuilding and recovering. The other three Princesses were captured for a time and unspeakable damage was done to several cities. I have closed the portal to Equestria on my end, not just to prevent curious CHS students from wandering into this world and causing confusion, but also for their safety. If they got out of the castle, it’s likely they’d have more problems than adjusting to hooves, wings and horns.

Finally, I will spend as much time as I can to figure out your link to the six Elements of Harmony and why you were able to join with them – and us. Your decisions to turn from shadow to light are important, or the Tree of Harmony, which is where the Elements are now kept, wouldn’t have permitted your transformation. My hypothesis is that the Tree judged you redeemed and granted you power across worlds. This is potentially dangerous. Even with the portal shut, a great deal of Equestrian magic has now leaked from here into a previously no-magic world. I have an idea of what you and the Rainbooms can do with that power source, but since Starswirl the Bearded thought your world to be an ideal dumping ground for dangerous magical creatures, I worry what else might be masquerading as a human.

Please write again soon. More data and observations help us both.

Yours in friendship,
Twilight Sparkle

Author's Note:

Thank you all for the great reception to and support of this story! I hope that now that I'm starting to get into the meat of the plot that I can get things right and continually improve.

I have travel and other real life obligations over the next few days, so please forgive me if I have to let us all hang on the cliff a little longer.

Please offer your constructive criticism, feedback, and (if earned) your encouragement! Stand a taut watch out there, shipmates!

Original author comments remain from October 2014. Minor grammar and dialogue editing completed on 11/28/2014