• Published 1st Nov 2014
  • 20,636 Views, 1,634 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 IV-V

“Oh, wow! I can’t believe your birthday is only a few weeks away! I’m really going to have to pull out all the stops if I’m going to get something super fantastic planned in time.”

“Pinkie, it’s just one birthday party; how much time could you possibly need?”

“You can never have too much time,” my friend insisted despite my continued confusion. “Like my Grandma Pie used to say, ‘a minute of preparation is worth an hour of fun,’ and I’ve got thirty thousand minutes to prepare for this!”

How Pinkie could do that kind of mental math in a few moments and yet still struggle with her algebra was a mystery to me, but it did bring about a quiet chuckle as I guided my friend to the door.

“Just don’t forget to finish the rest of the assignment, okay? I need these grades a lot more than I need a party.”

“I won’t let you down, and that’s a Pinkie promise!”

To no surprise, ever since I caved and relinquished the closely-guarded secret of my birthday, Pinkie had not stopped talking about it. Granted, it had been only a few hours, but the evening was growing late and I needed to send Pinkie back home before her parents started calling, or worse, her sister Maud.

That girl frightened me in ways I had not thought possible.

“Hey, you think maybe we could throw the party at my place?” Pinkie suggested. “I mean, I know you’re still a little sensitive about the whole ‘living with the principal’ thing.”

“Your place sounds just fine, though I doubt the party will be anything more than just you and the other girls. It’s not like people are climbing over each other to be seen with me these days.”

“Don’t sell yourself too short, Sunset,” Rainbow Dash chimed as she passed me on the way out. “We’ve still got a few weeks to fix you up. I guarantee you, by the time your party hits, it’ll be the place to be.”

It’d take nothing short of a miracle, or perhaps saving the entire school, to change anyone’s opinion about me. However, I didn’t want to sound too pessimistic, so I just smiled and nodded along while I ushered them away.

Before my friends made their final departure, Pinkie Pie decided that she needed to throw one last wrench in my carefully balanced world. “Hey Luna,” she shouted out to the vice principle still lingering over my shoulder, “since you fixed our problem, maybe you can fix Sunset’s boy problem too!”

“I do not have a boy problem!” I shouted in a blind panic before slamming the door shut. For a brief moment, I prayed that I was fast enough to keep Luna from getting any ideas, but that lasted only as long as it took for me to turn around.

“Boy problem, huh?” she asked in a rhetorical fashion with an almost Cheshire-like grin.

“There is no boy problem,” I denied once more.

Much like my other friends, though, the more I denied the existence of something, the more curious Luna became. It was not in quite the same fashion, though, as she was smart enough to know this wasn’t just a case of ‘the lady doth protest too much.’ She followed me to the kitchen, grabbing a slice of leftover pizza in the process as well as a six-pack of cola from the fridge.

“So if it’s not a boy problem, what is it that you’re hiding from them?” she asked, her words muffled by cheese and pepperoni.

“I’m not hiding anything from them. Why do you always have to presume there’s some ulterior motive?” Yet again, my attempts at denial fell upon skeptical ears. I tried to retreat back to the living room, but, for once, Luna did not skulk back to the seclusion of her bedroom and instead continued her pursuit of me. I tried turning on the television in the hopes that something on it might distract Luna, but at this point I was grasping at straws.

“It’s been a working strategy for dealing with you thus far. It’s not my fault you’re a creature of habit,” Luna continued as she sat down on the opposite end of the couch. “Now, you don’t strike me as the type to be embarrassed about boy problems, so if you haven’t corrected your friends by stapling the answer to their forehead, then it’s probably because it’s more useful as a smokescreen.”

“How in blazes did I ever get away with anything?” I scoffed. It seemed like every day was another reminder that I was as transparent as the Emperor’s New Clothes to every adult around me.

Luna just had a good laugh at my frustration, but not in the malicious manner. “I had always been suspicious of you and your antics ever since you came to Canterlot High, but my sister was always telling me to give you space and dismiss any of my concerns. It was like even before you moved in, she was looking out for you.” The last part sounded like Luna had her own frustrations on the matter, which reminded me of the whole reason we’ve been having this conversation for the past few hours.

“Do you have any idea why?”

“I had my suspicions… but nothing concrete,” she answered with a resigned sigh. It was probably not the first time she’d contemplated the issue, though perhaps the first time she’d discussed it with anyone. “Want a cola?” she offered out of the blue.

It was curious to think that, just a few hours ago, we were almost at each other’s throats, and now she was offering me a drink like we were just two friends hanging out together. Maybe now that we’d done away with our old preconceptions of one another, we were now able to start anew and look at one another with a fresh perspective. I was no longer the unruly teen undeserving of my station in life, but just a girl trying to make things right again; and Luna wasn’t the vindictive warden I had labeled her as, but a woman struggling with her own demons and the shadow they cast. I still didn’t know what these demons were, as she had yet to uphold her side of our bargain, but I didn’t want to come across as pushy. The peace treaty had not yet been signed: too much aggression could put us right back into a state of war, and I wasn’t going to risk that after already opening myself up to her.

Having a mental fortress doesn’t do much good if you unlock the front gates.

Remembering what Flash Sentry taught me about trusting others, I accepted the peace offering without a second thought. I was content to enjoy what civility we had going, and turned my attention to the television.

“Anything good on?” Luna asked between sips from her own beverage.

“Beats me,” I answered with a shrug. “I was never much for watching TV.”

“Likewise.”

“I remember seeing a nice-looking television set in your room, though.”

I continued flipping through the channels, barely even paying attention to what was on them.

“That’s for my Gamestation,” Luna explained.

I glanced over to Luna, giving her a puzzled stare, and then back to the television set in front of us. Now, Celestia wasn’t much for high-tech gadgets or extreme luxuries, but even she saw the benefit of owning a fifty-five inch LED television set. It could almost be considered a sin to have a Gamestation in a household and not have it hooked up to the biggest screen available.

“Why’s it in your room and not down here?” I inquired.

“Because my sister dislikes all the noise it would make.”

“Okay, but Celestia isn’t here right now.”

At that moment, it was as though a light turned on inside Luna’s head; as if the thought had never even crossed her mind. Perhaps she had just been such a creature of habit that once she got set in her way, she didn’t bother changing it even when there was literally nobody to stop her. Within twenty minutes, she had moved her Gamestation into the living room and we were playing some shooter game involving heavily-armoured men with big guns and bigger chins. I’ve never had much interest in video games, but they were something that this world possessed a huge advantage over Equestria in. Back home, the best we had were these large arcade cabinets that were decades behind this world’s standard.

After all, how could one expect a pony to use a controller with hooves? It’d be like trying to send text messages with your elbows.

Eventually, between firefights against seemingly endless waves of ugly aliens, I probed Luna for more information. “So what’s your theory, anyways?”

“I don’t really need a theory; I’ve beaten this game before.”

“I meant about your sister.”

“Oh, right,” Luna murmured, sounding almost disheartened by the subject. “When Celestia first started teaching, she was the type of teacher to get involved and engaged with her students at every opportunity, no matter how small. If she had a problematic student, she found a way to make them love learning again; if one was struggling, she helped uplift them.”

For a brief second, I thought she was talking about Princess Celestia.

“But there was a brief period where Celestia and I were out of contact—”

“You mean when you were in juvie?”

Luna shot me an annoyed glare for a brief moment, which left me fearing that she was about to strangle me with a game controller cord. Thankfully, she seemed to let the comment slip by. “Yes, when I was incarcerated, I didn’t keep in touch with her. However, when I got out, that… enthusiasm in my sister had been diminished. She still loved to teach, but she always kept herself at more of a distance.”

“What do you suppose happened?”

“I’ve asked but she doesn’t talk about it, so it has to be something significant,” Luna said with an uncertain shrug. “A bad student who she couldn’t handle, or maybe a co-worker that gave her problems. My guess is she had a student that she failed in some way, and she’s blamed herself over it ever since.”

That also sounded much like the Princess I knew. Studying in Canterlot enabled me to read up on the legend and stories surrounding Nightmare Moon, and though I only spoke to her about it once, even a person as self-absorbed as I had been could see the guilt that laced her response. She told me the truth of it, albeit very briefly, and then brushed the issue aside, stating that it was ancient history. From what I had heard about the past few years in Equestria, I had wondered if Celestia would’ve sent me to Ponyville were I still her student during that 1000th summer.

“Maybe I could try asking her about it,” I remarked.

“She’ll lie about it. Or deflect. Believe it or not, but I’m probably the more honest of the two of us.”

Hearing Luna say that with a straight face was like Discord genuinely describing himself as rational and level-headed compared to Princess Celestia. But perhaps there was some truth to what she said; Luna could be blunt and tactless, but at least you always knew where you stood with her. Then again, yaks were honest, too, but that didn’t lessen the property damage.

With the subject of Luna’s honesty having been brought up, I decided to test that and steer the conversation back towards the one thing I had been waiting for.

“So how did someone like you wind up in juvie?” I asked.

No doubt Luna expected me to broach this subject at some point given that she had promised me answers, but even still she must not have been fully prepared as she abruptly paused the game. She let out a discouraged sigh, most likely feeling the same sense of apprehension that had been riding alongside me when I told my story.

“Tia and I… we lost our parents to a car crash a long time ago,” she began, clearly not wasting time in getting to the heavy parts. “Since my sister was legally an adult at the time, she was given guardianship over me. She insisted on it since she didn’t want to risk having her only remaining family sent away, but…”

With just as much indication, Luna unpaused the game and I was forced to shift my attention back to the screen lest I wished for my video game avatar to catch a rocket to the face. I wasn’t sure why she wanted to continue playing during the conversation, but I had to keep pace with her unless I wanted her to become distracted by my ineptitude at this game.

“Between her university courses and handling the family finances, Celestia barely had enough time to deal with her own problems, let alone a brooding little teenager who felt completely alone in the world,” Luna continued. I couldn’t help but notice her becoming more tense as she continued, her motions becoming more aggressive and jerky in the game. “I was angry and trying to struggle with my grief, and the one person who could’ve helped me through that was too overwhelmed to notice anything else.”

“I’m sure she was doing the best she could given the circumstances,” I replied, though having trouble dividing my attention between the game and the conversation.

“I know that now, but try telling that to a fourteen-year-old snot-nosed brat who decided that the world and everything in it sucked.”

“So what did you do?”

“I did what most petulant teenagers do: dressed in dark clothes, spent hours in my room brooding, wrote garbage poetry thinking it was deep and meaningful—”

“Did you ever tell Celestia that it wasn’t ‘just a phase?’” My playful grin didn’t last very long as an explosion and a scream soon echoed from the television set; my little soldier had suddenly been reduced to a pile of bloody giblets. “Hey!” I shouted in protest. “I just finally upgraded my laser rifle.”

“My finger slipped,” Luna replied.

“With your rocket launcher just coincidentally pointed at me?”

“I’ve got seven more rockets if you want to keep this up.”

“Fine; I’ll be good,” I grumbled in defeat. Digital or not, it was never a good idea to annoy somebody with a bigger gun than you. “So what happened exactly to land you in juvie?”

“I felt alone and unwanted, so naturally I latched onto what sense of acceptance I could,” Luna continued on. “Fell in with some bad crowds—alcohol, smoking, general trouble-making things that young teens with too much time and money on their hands get into. I thought they were my friends, but they were just using me to get at my family’s money.”

Exploiting the insecurities of the outcast, that was something I knew all too well. Snips and Snails, for example, craved acceptance and attention from powerful figures. I’d almost go so far as to say they almost yearned to be subjugated. Either way, twisting them to my will was child’s play when I first met them. And from the other side of the fence, I was reminded of my dealings with Diamond Tiara, who took advantage of my insecurity with my friends, though she was far less subtle about it. With all the confusion and uncertainty that came with adolescence, I realized how important it was to have true friends that you could count on to help guide you and protect you.

Maybe if Snips or Snails had some other friends, they wouldn’t have turned to me.

“What did your sister think of your friends?” I inquired.

“As I said, Tia was so busy with everything on her plate that she hardly took notice of my friends. At least, not until the bank called and told her that I had managed to drain several thousand dollars from the savings accounts Mom and Dad left for us.”

“T-thousands?” I blurted out in disbelief. So great was my shock that I didn’t notice nor care that my little soldier was reduced to a smoldering crater in the absence of my guidance. “How in the world did you manage that?”

Luna paused the game once again, if only to prevent my failures from dragging her progress down as well. “You’d be amazed how quickly you can go through money when you’re trying to impress older kids,” she answered. “Buy a few meals here, movie tickets there, gifts every couple of weeks, and don’t forget the beer money. One of my ‘friends’ had a fake ID, but I supplied the money because, well, everybody loved having me around for that. Made me feel like I was wanted; like I mattered.”

“And I take it Celestia did not take kindly to the missing money and how it was being spent.”

“More so when she found out that I was able to take the money because I cracked her passwords for the online banking,” she explained with a quiet sigh to herself. “We got into such a huge argument because of it. Well, she just wanted to scold me and have me promise not to do it again, but I saw it as an opportunity to finally vent all my grievances at a sister who I felt was largely absent from my life. Tempers boiled over, things were shouted, and I may have pitched a few vases and other things at her. In the end, we stormed off in separate directions to cool off. And then I decided to do something really stupid.”

“Couldn’t be any worse than trying to brainwash your classmates into a personal army.”

We both had a quick laugh after that. Normally I wouldn’t think of using the things I was most ashamed of as a tension breaker, but I think we needed a good laugh at that point. It was probably a good sign that I could look back at myself and make a joke of it.

“No, but I did get drunk and steal her car,” Luna explained once she settled down. “Managed to wrap it around a lamppost, too. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in an emergency room, handcuffed to the gurney.”

“Ouch,” I murmured, feeling all the humour pour out of the conversation faster than a jug of Applejack’s fizzy cider after a Wondercolt’s game. “You weren’t hurt too badly, were you?”

“Physically, no. Emotionally, I was still wrecked worse than the car. And of course I was now looking at criminal charges for fraud, underaged drinking, motor theft, and driving under the influence.”

“I know you said that Celestia tried her best, but you also mentioned during our, um, argument that Celestia didn’t ‘save’ you,” I commented in a careful probe for the last missing details. “What did you mean by that exactly?”

“Well, when the lawyers heard the whole sob story, they tried to make a deal,” Luna explained, her voice growing more dour. “They said what I needed was guidance and therapy, not confinement, so they were willing to give me a lighter sentence that avoided any jail time, but there was one major condition.”

“And that was?”

“Celestia had to agree to resume guardianship. They felt that in order to rehabilitate, I had to stay with family, otherwise I’d risk getting lost in the system going into foster care.” Luna’s gaze shifted away from me as she slumped forward in her seat. Her eyes went to the nearby window, gazing out to the stars and moon in the sky. “All she had to do was say yes and I could go home. But she didn’t. I know I shouldn’t blame her: she was overwhelmed with school and finances and everything. She had no idea how to take care of a normal teenager, let alone a troubled one. She was drowning in reality and a lifeline was thrown to her. Who wouldn’t take it?”

“But you’re her sister!”

“And I took complete advantage of that trust!” Luna snapped back in a surprise turn. It was almost as though she was torn between being angry for what was done and being angry at herself for creating the situation. “I was her sister and I took advantage of her just to get chummy with a bunch of low-lives. She had every reason to cut me loose.”

“And yet you still resent her for it,” I remarked.

“Yes! I mean, no. I mean… I don’t know what to think some days.” With a frustrated groan, the younger sibling fell back against the couch, sprawling across it and staring aimlessly at the ceiling. “Do you have any idea how long a thousand days in juvenile hall is?”

“But you came out of it better, didn’t you? You’re the one who kept insisting that juvenile hall would be good for me.”

She gave a silent nod, followed by a deep sigh. “Juvie gave me structure… order… discipline. I attended courses so I could still graduate with a high school equivalency, and there were even workshops on computer science that I got really involved with. By the end of my stay, I was practically running the computer lab there. Yet, despite all the good, I still spent the entire time being angry at my sister. At the time, it felt like the undeniable proof that my sister was abandoning me, and that she didn’t care for me at all.”

I could relate to those feelings as well. I remembered leaving Equestria for this world, thinking that Princess Celestia had abandoned me as well. A sense of betrayal was a great way to solidify one’s anger and focus it like sunlight through a magnifying glass, only with far more devastating results.

“I’m starting to think we should start a club or something,” I remarked as I joined Luna in sprawling across the couch. “Like a ‘Blame Celestia’ club.”

“Or maybe ‘Celestia-holics Anonymous.’”

“My name is Sunset Shimmer, and I’m a Celestia-holic.”

“The first step to recovery is admitting you have a Celestia problem. My name is Luna, and I am a Celestia-holic.”

After another uproar of laughter to pull us out of the sullen atmosphere, we were able to resume our game with a better understanding of one another. I never would’ve thought I’d have so much in common with Luna, but people are always so full of surprises. I’d consider myself fortunate if I could become half as successful in life as Luna has.

“So how did you smooth things out with your sister?” I asked during a particularly long loading screen. “I mean, you two get along perfectly well these days, at least from what I’ve seen.”

I was surprised when Luna just gave a half-hearted shrug in response. It didn’t give me much hope for a solution that I could apply to my own life.

“I grew up and eventually realized why Celestia made the choices she did,” Luna explained. “They might not have been the best choices, but neither were mine. We were kids, as much as we wanted to believe otherwise; my sister went from being a university student having the time of her life to being forced to take care of a whole household and a moody teenager in the span of a few days. How could you expect any teenager to go through what we had and be able to make calm and rational decisions?”

Luna then suddenly fell silent as she stared at me with a look of stunned realization on her face. I think a light bulb just click on in her brain because she soon looked like somebody who just realized they were trying to push on a ‘pull’ door.

“Kind of like you, I suppose,” she eventually continued. “But as I was saying, I eventually came to the conclusion that I had two options before me: I could keep hating my sister and let it ruin my relationship with the only family I had left; or I could accept that we all made mistakes in the frantic mess of life, and just move forward with our lives.”

“So you just… let go of everything that happened? Just pretend it doesn’t exist anymore?”

“On the contrary, I remind myself of what happened on a regular basis,” Luna insisted. “As the expression goes, we all makes choices, but it’s the choices that make us. We can choose to let our past chain us down, or we can choose to use it as a roadmap to become the person we want to be. The past is not today, if you choose it.”

“My past is not today,” I murmured quietly to myself. It was catchy; had a nice ring to it. It felt like the sort of thing you could put on a poster underneath a scenic picture to motivate people. Luna was right, though: I didn’t have to let myself continue to be defined by my mistakes. I didn’t have to be Sunset Shimmer, former student of Princess Celestia, anymore. I could be something, someone, new, but what?

That was something I would have to discover for myself.

.

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

Another thing I discovered about Luna that evening was that she was quite the movie buff. Much like her gaming habits, it was kept to the seclusion of her room where the noise wouldn’t bother her sister, and judging by Luna’s preference to movies with earth-shaking explosions and near-deafening amounts of gunfire, the arrangement was understandable.

“Do you think there’s really a spot on the human head that if you shoot it, it’ll explode?” I asked idly after a particularly violent scene.

“Guess that depends on how big a bullet you use,” Luna replied.

That had been the general extent of our conversations for the past few hours. We had said everything we needed to say to one another and had finally come to an understanding. Though there was no formal agreement, I got the feeling that my life wouldn’t be put under the same level of scrutiny as it had been before. So with nothing else to do, we relaxed on the couch and watched movies late into the night with a giant bowl of nachos and cheese. The only conversation between us was the occasional random question when nobody in the movie was talking. And I wasn’t the only person with inane questions.

“So in your world, is there also a Luna, by any chance?” she asked while trying her best to sound like she didn’t care about the answer. “I’m just asking cause, you know, I’m just sorta curious.”

Seeing as I was trying to be more honest and open with people, I figured there was no point in holding back at this stage. “Princess Luna used to rule Equestria alongside Celestia, but grew hateful of her sister’s popularity and success, and invoked a powerful dark entity. That entity corrupted and turned her into the being known as Nightmare Moon. She then attempted to overthrow Celestia and got subsequently banished to the moon for a thousand years.”

Luna’s response was a simple, “Hm.”

The silence that followed was accentuated by a faint crunch as she ate a few more chips.

“But on the bright side, from what I’ve heard, Princess Luna has been reformed and is back to ruling the kingdom with her sister,” I quickly added on, just so that Luna didn’t think everything was horrid in her counterpart’s life.

“So a thousand years imprisoned on the moon, but she gets to be the nigh-immortal co-ruler of a kingdom,” Luna mused between mouthfuls. “I’m not entirely sure which of us got the better deal in life.”

Before either of us could ponder on that question for long, we heard the front door unlock, followed a moment later by a familiar and most-welcomed voice.

“Luna! Sunset! I’m home!”

“You’re home early, sis,” Luna bellowed back. “How did the meeting with the supreme overlords go?”

“The members of the school board,” Celestia promptly corrected, “expressed their disappointment in my apparent mishandling of safety and maintenance that has resulted in so much of our budget being diverted to repair the damage caused by the gas line explosion.”

I instinctively sunk into the couch a few more inches, if only to avoid being seen as the conversation mentioned the damage that I had been responsible for. I was still half-expecting them to hand me the repair bill, or at least part of it.

Now, Luna and I were still in the den trying to hold a conversation with somebody in another part of the house down the hall, so it wasn’t until Celestia walked on over that she noticed what the two of us were up to. There was a brief glimmer of surprise on her face, but it was very restrained. Instead, she just smiled as she watched Luna and I be more fixated on the movie than the conversation.

“I see the two of you aren’t at each other’s throats, and the house hasn’t been damaged in any crossfire,” Celestia remarked with evident amusement.

“Give us a bit more credit, dear sister,” Luna replied. The feigned indignity in her voice was so thick you could’ve used it to bludgeon someone. “We’re both mature, rational, and reasonable individuals; there’s no reason to believe we couldn’t settle any differences of opinion in a calm and civil manner.”

It would’ve taken a lot of willpower for me to have kept a straight face while Luna spoke, so instead I preoccupied myself by stuffing a handful of chips into my mouth so any giggles and chortles were mired in a bog of melted cheese. It was at that moment that Celestia noticed something unusual, or so I deduced from the perplexed look she had on her face.

“Are you eating my kale chips?” she asked.

Now I had been the one that prepared the snacks for tonight’s movie, so I was quick to jump to my defense by stating, “They were the only thing even resembling chips we had left.”

Luna, meanwhile, was busy looking at the chip in her hand. Evidently, she had neglected to bother inspecting her food before eating any of it during the entire movie, as she was just as surprised as Celestia was. In her defense, the lights had been off the entire time and there was enough cheese smothered over them that you’d think kale naturally grew in zesty orange.

After staring at the kale chip in her hand, Luna eventually replied, “Huh, so I am.”

She then went right back to eating, much to her sister’s delight. No doubt green-coloured foods were not a common part of Luna’s diet, so Celestia was just glad that she was eating something healthy; though the melted cheese probably countered any benefit.

“You’ve always said you hated kale.”

“I know I did, but,” Luna paused for a second and looked to me with a smile on her face, “it wouldn’t be the first thing I’ve misjudged today.”

Despite her tired and disheveled appearance, no doubt from endless meetings and sleepless nights, Celestia smiled brighter than a midday sun. “I’m glad that things worked out,” she said before continuing on her way upstairs.

Personally, I was surprised by Celestia’s brevity. I had anticipated the usual barrage of questions about life and schoolwork, especially considering I went into the weekend with a major assignment to finish. And surely she would be curious as to why the two of us were getting along so well now. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one thinking things were strange.

“That was rather terse,” Luna commented. “You’d think she’d be happier.”

“Maybe she’s just tired,” I offered as a possible explanation.

“Maybe. It just… I dunno, it seemed like she wasn’t surprised at all; like she was expecting to come home to this.”

“Expected? That’s just silly,” I scoffed at the notion. “I mean, how could she have anticipated me breaking into your room.” In addition, the only reason I broke into Luna’s room was because Pinkie Pie tempted me into it, and how could anyone predict what that girl will do. “The only way Celestia could’ve had the slightest idea of what would happen is if she convinced Pinkie Pie to talk me into breaking into your room, which you left alone because there were no groceries because Celestia ‘forgot’ to do the shopping. And she wouldn’t do something like that, would she?”

“No! No, of course not. She’d never,” Luna insisted almost entirely by reflex. The look on her face, however, did not align with her words. She pondered in silence for a moment before getting up and heading to the stairs.

“TIIIIIAAAAAAAAA!”