• Published 1st Nov 2014
  • 15,434 Views, 1,500 Comments

A New Sun Rises - CommissarAJ



Sunset Shimmer has never needed anyone or anything - she had her magic, she had her ambition, and she had intellect. Others just stood in her way or held her down. So what do you do when your plans for world domination fall through?

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Act I-I

The saying goes that the road to Tartarus is paved with good intentions. It was a sentiment that rang particularly true when I found myself staring into the metaphorical swirling, black abyss that was soon to be my inescapable future. In those brief but agonizing seconds, it was hard not to use that time to reflect on how I wound up in this debacle. A part of me wanted to cry out against fate; to make one last stubborn refusal against the implications that my life was going to amount to little more than a warning sign to future generations. The rest of me, though, was desperately trying to hold itself together, lest I lose grasp of what little willpower remained in me. I thought I had felt fear before, or at the very least knew what fear was, but the universe decided that I needed one last wake-up call before the end.

After all, who wouldn’t be scared of being banished to the moon? Granted, it wasn’t the most original of punishments, but desperation called for immediate solutions, not creative ones.

It took every scrap of mental fortitude I had left not to run for it; to break down and give into the fear and darkness that crept through my very being. Only one thought kept me locked in place, and I played those words over and over again in my mind like a broken record player.

“I deserved this.”

On the bright side, I told myself, as though it could possibly make impending doom more palatable, there was a good chance I would become the next ‘Mare in the Moon’ legend. I doubt I’d get any holidays named after me. Celestia had told me on numerous occasions that I would leave my mark on history, but I had hoped for something more along the lines of having a school named after me, or maybe even a tasteful statue. It wasn’t the end that I had wanted, but it was the end of the road that I had paved for myself, and nobody was going to say that Sunset Shimmer didn’t at least go out with her integrity.

So how did I wind up here, standing at the precipice of expulsion from the earthly realms? Like any story that’s worth telling, it’s a long one, involves a girl, a sprinkling of magic, a couple of guitar solos, and a bell.

*******************

It all began in the days following the Fall Formal at Canterlot High School. The memories, and bruises, of my spectacular failure were still fresh. Years of hard work and planning had all fallen apart right before the finish line thanks to Twilight Sparkle and her friends. In hindsight, I probably could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had used more competent assistants, or just told Principal Celestia that we had somebody trespassing on school property.

Getting struck down by a massive friendship-powered ray of eldritch energies had a strange way of offering a new perspective. I had spent years feeling powerful, as if I owned the entire school, but all that power was meaningless in the end—swept away in a technicolour shower. I don’t think there had ever been, or ever will be, a moment where I felt as weak and pitiful as I did when I sat at the bottom of that crater, surrounded by people who now had nothing but contempt and scorn for me. If anybody in the school needed a reason to hate me, turning into a rage-spewing she-demon gave them plenty of fresh new options. But if I thought hitting rock bottom was hard, it didn’t take very long to discover that crawling out from that pit was going to be even worse.

The gravity of the situation didn’t sink until at least the following Monday afternoon. Given that I assumed there would be nothing but further ridicule and punishment waiting for me like a bear trap, I felt no inclination to return to Canterlot High any time soon, and had been holed up in my apartment since the Fall Formal. What was the point? Everything that I had worked towards was gone, and I had gone from Queen Bee to being marginally more popular than head lice.

As I lay on my bed, curled in the fetal position, life for me appeared to be over for all intents and purposes. In my delusion of total dominance, I had never once considered alternatives if things didn’t go my way. What do you do when your plans for world domination fall through? And really, who would care if Sunset Shimmer didn’t attend class any more? Just off the top of my head, I could think of at least a dozen people who would’ve greeted such news by throwing an impromptu party in the hallway, and perhaps even a ticker tape parade for the ones who saved the school. The rest would have muttered little more than a ‘good riddance’ before returning to the monotony of high school life. There was nothing left for me at Canterlot High—no friends, no future, and most importantly, no magic. The bleak and empty existence of a magicless life was the only future I had to look forward to, and a part of me wondered if I had the strength to even try and go forward.

However, it seemed like the universe wasn’t even going to afford me the luxury of brooding in peace as the cell phone sitting on my bedside table went off in a cacophony of wails, beeps, thumps, and other strange sounds that made me wonder why I ever let Vinyl recommend me a ringtone. I grabbed the nearest pillow and buried my head under it in the hopes that the infernal noise box would cease its racket. Who in the world would even want to talk to me at that moment?

Frustration and curiosity eventually overrode my better judgement. After the hundredth ring, I grabbed the phone, flipped it open, and shouted ‘what?’ with enough force to blow out a speaker. Any sane person would have taken the hint and hung up at that point, but I was to discover that I had a most formidable opponent against me.

“Sunset Shimmer, we need to talk.”

Principal Celestia. She ranked just below ‘rabid monkey’ on the list of things I wanted to deal with today.

“No, we don’t,” I replied before popping the battery out. Hearing silence once more in my apartment felt oddly therapeutic; a brief respite and reminder that there were still some things in my life I could control. It was a paltry show of defiance, but when your sense of self-worth was hanging out in the gutters, you clung to whatever power you could. Sooner or later, Celestia was going to have that chat with me, but I saw no reason why I should make it any easier for her. If she wanted it, she would have to get off her butt and come get me.

Unfortunately, that was exactly what Celestia did. I hadn’t even set my phone down when the knocking began. At first, I didn’t believe that Celestia could’ve tracked me down so soon, but she appeared to be one step ahead of me even in that respect.

“I know you’re in there, Sunset, I heard your phone,” came the muffled voice of the woman who would be deciding my fate.

What I wouldn’t have given at that moment for an invisibility cloak, teleportation spell, or a window that could open wide enough to climb out of. I became lodged in a trance-like stare, watching anxiously as though the door would fly off its hinges in the next few seconds. Eventually, I was snapped out of my daze when I heard Celestia utter something I didn’t anticipate.

“Sunset... please, can we talk?”

Apparently all it took was saying ‘please’ to get me back on my feet. Perhaps if Twilight Sparkle had just said ‘give me back my crown, please’, the embarrassment of the last few days could have been avoided altogether. Celestia sounded... concerned. The Celestia that I had grown up with had a caring and nurturing side to her as well, but that just concealed the potential for a divine fury when one did find a way to anger her. If blowing up a foyer and attempting to enslave an entire school populace didn’t get Principal Celestia’s fetlocks in a fit, what did? Still on threat level ‘picante red’, I edged towards the door and, while keeping the chain lock in place, cautiously opened it.

An unsettling and disarming smile greeted me, the kind of smile your doctor gave you before the needle came out. “You didn’t come to school today,” she stated.

“And what gave that away? The cheers and jubilations of a relieved student body, now free from the torment and tyranny?” While there was no point in pretending to be sweet and innocent around Celestia anymore, some barbs might convince her to make whatever speech she had in mind a quick one. “How necessary is a face-to-face talk just for you to say, ‘don’t come back’?”

“May I come inside? This hallway isn’t exactly the best location to conduct school business.”

Principal Celestia’s patience had always been rather impressive, even in the face of somebody who obviously wanted nothing to do with her. Compared to my experiences with Princess Celestia, they were on even footing, but whereas the Princess had centuries to develop it, the Celestia before me had managed the same feat in a few decades. I shuddered to think what she could accomplish with a nigh-immortal life span.

“No,” I promptly replied.

“Please,” Celestia began as the pleasant and calm demeanour began to subside, “open this door.”

It became apparent that I had made a dent in the normally invincible armour of Principal Celestia. A smart person would’ve taken that as a clue to shut up and open the door, but I was far from finished when it came to the business of making stupid choices.

“I said no,” I reiterated. “We’re not at school, so that means you have no power here!” Failing words of a hopeless girl; if they reeked of desperation any worse, the neighbors would’ve caught wind of it, assuming they could smell anything other than the ashes of my burnt-out dreams. Nonetheless, I remained defiant. My apartment may not have been much, little more than a single room with a bathroom attached to it, but it was one of the few things in my life I still had control over. The only way I was letting her in was over my cold, dead body.

If I had any uncertainties about this realm’s Celestia and the limits to her patience, and how they stacked against the Celestia I knew, those questions were soon put to rest. Her eyes narrowed, the calm, placating smile began to straighten, and I swore I could feel a shiver crawl up my spine.

“Sunset Shimmer, open this door... now!

Though the sudden vice-like grip around my heart was a definite reassurance that I was still alive, if only for that brief moment, whatever sense of defiance I had left just keeled over.

“Yes, Principal Celestia,” I squeaked.

Lapsing back into her patient benevolence, Celestia gave a brief ‘thanks’ just before the door opened up. As she stepped in, I noticed that she had a file folder tucked under one arm and a loaded-down plastic bag in the other. Given that my doorway opened directly into the rest of my single bedroom apartment, Celestia’s grand tour involved only a slow pan from left to right.

“So this is where you live,” she commented. It was as though she had never seen an apartment before. To be fair, Canterlot High was in a well-off neighborhood, so I reckoned every other student lived with their parents in a nice suburban house with a white-picket fence and a dog named Fido. In comparison, my single bedroom, was furnished with little more than the bare necessities. Celestia’s gaze went from the kitchenette to her left, the bathroom ahead of her, the bookshelf that served as the sole source of decoration, and then the bedroom half of the apartment, which also doubled as the office, study hall, living room, and dining hall. Honestly, what more could a girl want—other than perhaps working air conditioning, windows, hot water, or neighbors who didn’t like to listen to R&B at two in the morning.

“I’d offer you a chair, but I don’t own any,” I commented.

Celestia didn’t seem bothered and made an immediate path to take a seat on the edge of my bed. “You’ve been living here alone for three years?” she commented while taking another look around my meagre abode. “This would explain why I could never get a parent-teacher interview arranged.”

“I was always surprised at how easy it was to convince the teachers that my parents were ‘busy’ on those nights.” When a teacher had a dozen parent-teacher interviews to do in a night, having one less probably made their lives more bearable. Add in the fact that, until the Fall Formal, the teachers of Canterlot High thought I was a model student and there was rarely a need to speak to my non-existent parents. My back-up plan of having to hire an actor for the job, thankfully, never had to be called upon.

Celestia invited me over with a few gentle pats on the mattress beside her. Despite all the rational parts of my mind telling me to keep as much distance as possible, those parts had been terrified into submission. Sealing the deal, Celestia opened the bag she had brought along, revealing some boxes of take-out, presumably the kind eaten with chopsticks. Hunger overpowered what few senses remained, and I was soon sitting next to my principal, ready to tear into the box.

“I figured you might have been hungry,” Celestia explained before handing me a pair of chopsticks. “Still vegetarian?”

I had only ever mentioned once to Celestia that I was a vegetarian, and that was almost three years ago when I first came to Canterlot High. Was her memory that good, or was she just better at bluffing than I had ever been? Just to confirm, I opened up the box and found it filled with an assortment of noodles, tofu, and vegetables mixed with what appeared to be a black bean sauce. Overwhelmed with feelings of confusion, surprise, and humility, the best response I could muster was a half-hearted ‘thanks’ before eating.

I had expected Celestia to start discussing the disciplinary measures being levied against me, but she appeared to still be enamored with my housing. “I must admit, I am curious as to how you, a teenager with no parental support, was able to lease an apartment for such a long time,” she said.

“Not too hard,” I replied between mouthfuls. “Just a matter of finding a landlord who’s willing to take cash with few questions asked.”

“And where exactly did this money come from? I imagine they don’t have dollar bills where you’re originally from.”

“No, but apparently the exchange rate between your dollars and my shiny coins was extremely high,” I explained. “Took a while to convince the pawn shop owner that they were from some tiny, obscure ancient kingdom.”

As I continued to eat, Celestia rose to her feet and took a slow walk around the apartment. Though I had little, she nonetheless stopped and examined every piece of furnishing and property I had. A part of me was nervous about what she was doing, as though she were inspecting every aspect of my life in order to determine whether the punishment she had in mind was sufficient or not. Normally I did not care for what others thought, but between my battered sense of worth and the fact that it was Celestia, even if it wasn’t the Celestia I grew up with, I was wary of what she might think of me now.

“Is this one of the school’s guitars?” Celestia asked as she picked up the instrument from its hiding spot beside the bookshelf.

“When the school got those new guitars a couple years ago, Mrs. Song was going to donate the old ones to some charities. I... um, convinced her to let me take one home instead.”

“If I recall, you told her that your father destroyed your guitar in a drunken fit,” Celestia replied, sounding more amused than disappointed in the lie that I had used to manipulate the school music teacher. I tried to bury the new bout of shame with a mouthful of noodles, but Celestia probably saw right through the ploy. “She probably would’ve given it to you even if you hadn’t made up that story. She was very impressed by your enthusiasm in learning how to play.”

I knew that Celestia was trying to use the compliments to help build up my self-esteem, but I only felt more guilty. I enrolled in Mrs. Song’s classes because I needed to get better with using my hands. The ‘natural talent’ that people thought I had was, in fact, the product of spending two hours a day practicing for a month straight. The fact that Mrs. Song mistook my determination for a musical passion was an unintended side effect that, until now, I thought nothing of.

“I haven’t really played that in a long time.” It wasn’t the best answer, or what Celestia likely wanted to hear, but I was trying to move the conversation away from subjects that only served to make me feel worse.

I had hoped she would move to somewhere else in my apartment, but Celestia’s ever-vigilant eyes fixated on my bookshelf next. “You have a lot of textbooks,” she commented whilst browsing my collection. Most had been gathered from used bookstores and the occasional church book sale.

Old textbooks weren’t hot sellers, so it was easy to haggle the prices down to something more manageable for a lone teenager on a budget. As Celestia continued to peruse the library, her lips pursed and her brow furrowed in deep thought. When she uttered a short ‘hrm’, I realized that she had clued in as to the significance of my collection.

“Some of these textbooks aren’t from our curriculum,” she stated aloud, “and these novels are all part of the school district’s recommended reading material for students.” She paused for a moment; though whether it was to formulate her thoughts or to heighten the tension, I did not know. “Sunset, what do you do for money? You couldn’t have possibly survived three years with just what you brought.”

I froze mid-bite like a disobedient child caught with stolen cookies in their mouth. After forcing the mouthful of noodles down, I managed a weak, worried grin and replied, “The... internet?”

“Please tell me it doesn’t involve a webcam.”

“Ew! No,” I immediately snapped back. There were many things that the old me was—self-serving, arrogant, cheat, liar—but desperate was not one of them. Oddly enough, ‘desperate’ did describe the new me.


For once, it appeared that Celestia took my words at face value, but her curiosity was still running rampant through my apartment. The next victim of her prowling was my laptop, which she opened up once she took a seat on the bed again.

“Hey, you can’t just look through—”

“Eat your lunch, Sunset.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied with a defeated sigh. Though annoyed and concerned that she was now trying to search through my laptop, I remained silent as I was confident that my personal files were safe from prying eyes.

“For a girl as smart as you, I would’ve thought you’d choose something other than ‘password’ for your password,” Celestia commented after a couple of quick keystrokes. Lucky for me, the mouthful of tofu kept my profanities from being coherent. In my defense, computer safety wasn’t even a concept back in Equestria, and not something that had been high on my priorities.

I sat in silence, shoveling down the last of my lunch, and waited for the inevitable as Celestia combed through the contents of my laptop. As I only used my computer for work-related matters, it did not take her very long to find the source of income.

“These are essays,” Celestia began with growing intrigue. The laptop screen began to fill with various text files as she continued to delve through each document. “Some of these essay topics aren’t part of our school’s curriculum... and we don’t even teach this subject... and is this a... college-entry essay?” She then looked at me with a mixture of confusion and disappointment. “Sunset Shimmer, are you selling essays online?”

“I... like to think of it as selling knowledge,” I replied with a half-hearted attempt to put a more positive spin on academic fraud. The frown I got in response told me that she did not share in my sense of humour. “I, er, also sell my services in completing take-home tests, book reviews, and basically any kind of homework somebody doesn’t want to be bothered with doing.”

“How much do you charge for these?” Celestia asked, reading over one of the larger essay projects I had finished.

“Well the one you’re reading is a hundred and fifty,” I pointed out. “Short assignments can be as low as ten dollars, while larger projects are negotiated based on size, requirement, and how desperate the person is.”

Celestia, understandably, was not enthused by the last few words. True, she was bothered by the whole thing, but the insinuation of extortion did not sit well with the principal. She let out a long, tired sigh before closing the laptop. I feared that this was the quiet lull while the executioner readied their axe of discipline. She was preparing for the final blow.

“I cannot help but feel disappointed by this revelation, Sunset Shimmer,” she began. I could feel the axe beginning to line up against the nape of my neck. “From what I can see, you have been acting as an accomplice to academic fraud for quite some time.”

The axe began to rise above her head…

“You have been profiting off other students’ struggles while at the same time undermining the principles of our education system.”

And here it came…

“But I can’t help but be a bit impressed at the same time.”

“What?”

I must have stared at Celestia with an idiotic, dumbfounded look upon my face for a solid half-minute before she finally finished her thought.

“While I obviously cannot approve of your methods, judging by the schedules and work tables I saw, you’ve been handling the extra workloads of almost half-a-dozen students at any given time for almost three years while still maintaining top-percentile grades at Canterlot High. You’ve got files for international students, advanced programs, and even college-prep courses. You could’ve been riding a full scholarship at a private academy rather than profiting off of academic fraud. Where did you even find the time to do all of this?”

“What do you think I do when I’m not at school?” I replied with a hint of sarcasm.

“A few days ago, I would’ve assumed the answer to be the same things that other teenagers do outside of school,” Celestia said as she finally grabbed the file folder that she had brought with her. “But clearly, you are not like other teenagers.”

“What gave that away? When I turned into a fiery demon and tried to take over the school?” The sarcasm probably was not helping me, but after listening to Celestia pick apart my life for the past several minutes, I was beginning to lose patience. “I knew you’d be curious, but I wasn’t expecting this sort of inquisition.”

“Nobody ever expects my kind of inquisition,” Celestia answered with a smirk. “I always knew you were different, but I never realized the extent of it. If you’re going to continue being a student at Canterlot High, certain corrective measures must be taken.”

“Continue?” I repeated in disbelief. “I’m not expelled? You’re not going to, like, turn me over to the police? I—”

“Used an allegedly extra-dimensional artifact to transform into an apparent demonic entity,” Celestia interrupted, reading from the documents now on her lap. “And then proceeded to subjugate the entire school student body and faculty, culminating in a confrontation that resulted in extensive damage to school property. Did I miss anything?”

“I also threatened to smash the statue out front with a sledgehammer.”

She ignored my remark and continued. “Sunset, what do you think will happen if I file this report to the district superintendent? Or even the police?”

“I get banished to the moon?”

“They’re going to think I’ve lost my mind,” Celestia stated. “To be frank, I spent most of the weekend trying to convince myself that I hadn’t.”

I was still in disbelief that Celestia was willing to keep me as a student. The old adage of keeping friends close and enemies closer did come to mind, although I refrained from voicing that thought. If Celestia did want to keep me as a student for the sole purpose of ensuring I didn’t cause any more trouble, then who was I to argue? The alternatives were far worse, and what principal would let me transfer to their school if they found out even a fraction of the things I did?

“I don’t want to force you to return to Canterlot High, and I get the distinct feeling that you don’t want to be forced out either,” Celestia continued, her voice taking a more concerned undertone. “I’m willing to let you return, if that’s what you want.”

At first, I couldn’t find the right words to respond with. With all the emotional turmoil I had been throwing myself through over the past several hours, it was hard for me to process how I felt as Celestia offered me a second chance. Eventually, I managed a quiet nod.

“Now make no mistake, Sunset Shimmer, changes to your life will need to be made, and you will need to make an effort to demonstrate that you are trying to change. Otherwise, I will file this report, regardless of how it might make me appear,” Celestia warned. “And the first change is that you are going to shut down this side business of yours.”

“But you can’t! I need that money,” I pleaded. Next month’s rent was riding on the next few assignments that I still had to finish. Principal Celestia may have been willing to grant leniency, but my landlord had no such sense of charity.

“I know, but you’re better than this, Sunset. There are other options—better ones. And when we get back to school, we can figure those options out. Now get yourself cleaned up and ready to go. If you hurry, we can make it back before afternoon class starts.”

“You’re kidding.”

*******************

She was not. Within half an hour, I was standing before Canterlot High once more. A week ago, I thought I owned the school, but now the very thought of walking through its halls were filling me with trepidation. Going back so soon was a horrible idea, and I was not hesitant to share these thoughts with Celestia.

“Have I mentioned how bad of an idea I think this is?” I quipped as we walked to the side entrance that was now serving as the school’s entryway thanks to my impromptu renovations. “It’s only been one weekend. Maybe you should, like, suspend me for the next week. Give them time to forget about it.”

“Do you honestly believe that a week will be enough for them to forget?” Celestia replied as she continued on ahead. She paused momentarily at the door, looking back to ensure that I had followed.

I let out a heavy sigh before taking that first step. She had a point, of course, but that didn’t mean I felt any better about it. “They’re going to hate me.”

“They probably will, at first,” Celestia answered with a reassuring bucketful of ice-cold reality. “But hiding in your apartment won’t help. A day, a week, a month; it won’t change how they feel. You can only affect change if you’re here. It might mean enduring a few cold shoulders, but I wouldn’t be asking this of you if I didn’t think you had it in you.”

Despite Celestia’s words of reassurance, I had the feeling that I was going to be seeing so many cold shoulders that I would need a parka to make it through the day, assuming I didn’t get tarred and feathered first. Fear and apprehension were not emotions that I had much experience with, but I could tell that the three of us were going to become close friends before things improved.

With one last calming breath, I gestured for Celestia to open the door, and we stepped inside. I had held onto the hope that we would arrive just after the afternoon classes began, but luck would not grant me such paltry mercies. The hallways were packed with the students preparing to return to class, and all semblance of conversation screeched to a deafening halt. Were it not for the fact that Celestia stood right behind me, I would’ve turned and bolted out that door like Nightmare Moon herself was after me.

“Come along Sunset,” Celestia said to break the silence as she began down the hall. I had an opening to run, but with the principal beckoning me along, I realized that fleeing would only cement my reputation. If I was going to show the other students that I wasn’t still some egomaniacal monster, I had to yield to the principal’s authority.

As I began my slow march through the hall, I tried my best to keep my eyes down. I didn’t want to make eye contact with any of them; no need to betray how terrified I truly was. If looks could ignite, I probably would’ve been reduced to ash in an instant. Instead, I had to endure dozens of hateful glares and catch the occasional whisper of discontent. Since I was still with Principal Celestia, glares and whispers made up most of the dissent. It appeared as though those would be the worst of it, right up until an empty soda can hit the back of my head.

As Celestia was ahead of me, she didn’t realize anything was amiss until the can hit the floor, at which point she glanced back. “What was that?” she inquired.

“N-nothing,” I insisted. I could have told her truth, that some jerk threw a can at me, but how would the populace react if I tried to play victim at a time like this? They hated me already, and maybe, just maybe, I deserved a lot more than just a pop can to the head.

If Celestia saw through my lie, she made no indication of it, and instead just continued on her way. The crowds began to thin as we drew closer to her office, and while I would have loved to have taken shelter within it for the rest of the day, Celestia had other plans in mind.

“Now I want you to go to class, and I will see you at the end of the day,” Celestia explained as we stood outside her office.

“You want me to go to class—alone?” I asked in disbelief. Celestia’s presence was the only thing separating me from the proverbial pack of wolves that now formed the student body. “Why not just paint a bulls-eye on my back and start handing out daggers?”

“I think you may be getting a little paranoid, Sunset,” she reassured me. “If you are sincere in your remorse, they will forgive you in time. Yes, they might give you a hard time, but if at any point you feel as though you are being harassed or threatened, then just speak to me. You are a student of Canterlot High, and you are entitled to the same safety and dignity that everyone else is.”

While what she said, in theory, was all well and good, it didn’t change the fact that I was going to be wandering into a classroom full of students whom I have respected neither the dignity or safety of for three years. If there was any justice in the world, I would be stuffed into a locker before the day was over. Actually, if that was the only thing I had to look forward to, I would’ve been content to suffer.

Despite every rational fibre in my being telling me that the best response for me would be to hide until the day’s end, I nonetheless agreed to tough it out and head to class. However, I needed a few things from my locker first so I made a quick detour. When I reached my locker, though, I discovered that it would be far from quick. From the book of ‘I should’ve seen that coming’, my locker had been given a brand new make-over, courtesy of my new, adoring fans. A crude caricature of my more crimson side had been painted across the locker door, along with ‘loser’, ‘crazy’, and ‘crybaby’ in various styles that led me to believe that this was the work of more than one person. The painting of me overemphasized the more inhuman aspects of that form with long, pointed horns, massive wings, and a ghoulish visage that made me look more like a gargoyle than anything.

This was what my fellow students saw me as now: not some teenaged girl, not some arrogant tyrant, but a monster, and a pathetic one at that. As tempting as it was to go right back to Celestia, this was neither harassment, nor threatening. Plus, they were right: I was a monster, and I was pathetic. But it was also just a locker, and I reminded myself that, by tomorrow, it will have been scrubbed clean by the janitors.

“Personally, I think they’ve really captured your essence,” came an all-too-familiar shrill. I didn’t even need to look to know who would have the gall to start throwing around their weight now that I had been dethroned.

“Go away, Trixie, I’m not in the mood,” I grumbled back. Maybe if I ignored her, she would go away. The girl did live on attention, after all.

“Not in the mood? Oh how terribly inconsiderate of me,” Trixie replied with enough sarcasm to choke a large mammal. “I am so very sorry. We wouldn’t want you to get angry and turn into a harpy again.”

“Demon, Trixie. I turned into a demon,” I corrected her whilst fighting down every urge to meet her sarcasm in kind. “Harpies are bird-like creatures. And that was a one-time affair.”

“Well that’s a relief,” she said, continuing her sarcastic trend. “I guess that means I don’t have to worry when I do this.” I was half-way to getting my books in order when Trixie swatted at my collection, causing me to drop them all to the ground. “Oops!”

A week ago, Trixie wouldn’t have dared to try such a stunt. I was almost impressed by how quickly she moved to capitalize on my new bottom-rung social standing. Unsurprisingly, an audience began to gather, giving Trixie all the attention her ego needed. After taking a few seconds to unclench my fists, I took a calming breath and proceeded to gather my books again.

“This is going to be a long day,” I groaned under my breath.

“That’s it?” Trixie remarked. Her sarcasm gave way and betrayed a sense of annoyance that replaced it. In hindsight, it was obvious that she was trying to provoke me, but at the time I was too caught up in my own worries to care about analyzing the motives of another. “You nearly wreck the school and tried to turn me into a mindless slave, and this is all you have to say for yourself?”

“It wasn’t personal, I assure you,” I answered even though I knew it wouldn’t satisfy her. This time I paid more attention in keeping myself between Trixie and my books. While having my back to her might not have been smart either, I knew her well enough to know that she rarely escalated beyond words. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m in a hurry.”

“Just going to walk away? I guess you really are just pathetic now,” Trixie continued to taunt. Not content to let me go in peace, when I tried to pass Trixie, she stuck out her foot and next I knew, I had face-planted the linoleum.

Then came the chorus of laughter. If anybody had missed the dance and needed affirmation that one could ridicule me without fear of retribution, my face-down sprawl provided all the assurance they needed. Justice was a harsh mistress, but I certainly could not blame any of them. How many of these kids had I shoved aside, ridiculed in front of their peers, or made the centre of unfounded rumours? I kept reminding myself that this was the burden I was going to have to bear for a while.

“No wonder you had to use mind-control, it’s not like anybody would ever like you otherwise,” Trixie continued rubbing salt into the wounds.

“Just ignore her,” I reminded myself.

“Don’t know why you came back. It’s obvious nobody wants you here.”

“Deep breaths, Sunset. Words can’t hurt.”

“Maybe you should just go back to where you came from, freak.”

“Okay. Time for some of my own words.”

I had been willing to endure some ridicule, but Trixie had worn out my patience in record time. I reached for the heftiest textbook in reach, the ever-reliable algebra book, and then, in one fluid motion, rose to my feet and hurled it at the offending blue-haired miscreant. Unfortunately for me, Trixie’s years of dodging fresh produce while on stage had instilled cat-like reflexes in her. I don’t think the book had left my fingertips before Trixie was already well out of its trajectory. The textbook sailed right past her, through the air and down the hall, and straight into the trophy display case at the end of the hall. The panes of glass were no match for six hundred pages of algebra, and everyone in the hall fell silent as the sound of cascading glass echoed through the halls.

And standing not two feet from the display case, gazing at the textbook now lodged in our Junior Varsity Softball Regional Championship trophy, was Vice Principal Luna.

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