• 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 V-I

To say that the Canterlot High Battle of the Bands was a turning point in my new life would be about as much of an understatement as saying that Discord’s reign in Equestria was just a mild inconvenience. While I had known that it’d take an act of monumental proportions to change the school’s mind about me, nobody was anticipating yet another Equestrian-born lunatic bent on enslaving the school populace.

And not just one lunatic, but three of them.

In retrospect, a part of me couldn’t help but feel some pity for Adagio and her co-conspirators; whatever kind of life they had here in the human world, it may not have been perfect, but they had a small amount of Equestrian magic to make things easier for them. The three of them could have lived a comfortable life here, but instead they let their ambitions get the better of them and now what little magic they had was gone forever. If I had possessed even a fraction of my magical abilities from Equestria, I would’ve fought to protect it with every ounce of my being and not risk it for anything. Their life from this point on would no doubt be a lot more arduous. With any luck, they’ll be able to use this as an opportunity to learn the lessons about humility and friendship that I had.

Except maybe the air-headed one. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she turned up at school the next day and acted as if nothing had happened.

Of course, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of the Bands, I was thinking none of these things. I was just relieved that I didn’t have to be the one on the receiving end of the giant, technicolour, magic friendship laser. It made for one heck of a lightshow, too. An older me might’ve worried about how the world might take to the sight of a giant magic unicorn firing rainbow lasers and magical-transforming rockers, but according to the internet video comments that Pinkie Pie showed me, everybody thought it was some ‘totally cheesy CGI effects.’

Also, about a third of the commenters thought we had turned into cats as some homage to an old rock band, while another third thought it was dogs. That wound up sparking an internet argument that went on for days afterwards.

Don’t ever change, internet.

But again, I was not thinking of these things. Hours after the show, I could still be found lounging on the stage, gazing up at the twinkling array of stars above. There was a peculiar sense of tranquility about them as they glistened tirelessly in the cosmos, a reminder of infinite depths of time and the universe that seems to serve as an anchor for my thoughts and feelings in the turbulent sea that was my life.

Almost everybody had long since left the show, but I stuck around for my own reasons, one of which being that my ride home was still indisposed at the time. I was in no rush, however, because as far as I was concerned, my life was perfect now—the sky could’ve opened up and dropped a whale on me and I still would’ve been smiling afterwards. And it wasn’t just because I helped defeat a trio of evil magical beings from Equestria that not even the great Starswirl the Bearded could best; it wasn’t even because I had gone from being the least popular girl at school to being hailed as its newest hero.

The only thing that mattered at the end of the night was the fact that I had my friends and the knowledge that our friendship was stronger than ever before. When Twilight Sparkle returned from Equestria to help us stop the Dazzlings, I have to admit that I had been a bit jealous of her. When the situation was dire, all of my friends turned to her, and when she arrived, they were elated beyonds words. It was enough to make even Pinkie Pie’s normal behaviour seem dour in comparison.

Now it wasn’t any of my friends’ fault that I had spent the past few days feeling as though I were being dragged along for the ride like a lost puppy while Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship, saved the day once more. Still, the whole ordeal came very close to shattering my spirit altogether, and then trampling all over it just for good measure. The Dazzlings, especially Adagio, was better than I had been at pinpointing the exact source of my insecurities and striking it with all the precision of a laser-guided missile. It didn’t help that I had made it easy for her with all my gloom and self-doubt. If she had handed me a sword, I probably would’ve thanked her before falling upon it.

But that was all in the past now. I knew with absolute certainty now that I wasn’t just some replacement to Twilight or some pity-case. Applejack, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity—they were my friends and I was theirs. Their friendship was worth more than all of the magic in Equestria, though I hadn’t fully realized that sentiment at the time.

After all, if I had learned all of my lessons during the Battle of the Bands, there wouldn’t be much point to the rest of my story.

“Hey Sunset, sorry I took so long.”

Twilight’s voice, announcing her arrival at the stage, snapped me out of my basking in the post-musical glow. She had changed out of the stage costume and was back to looking like her normal bookworm self, which reminded me far too much of the other Twilight, whom I wished I could’ve been celebrating this victory with. My friend took a seat on the edge of the stage beside me, though I was still laying on my back using my bunched-up coat as a pillow. After so many hours of standing, the opportunity to lay down and spare my feet the relentless burden of gravity for a few minutes was like a gift from heaven.

“No big deal,” I reassured her. “You were chatting it up with Flash, anyways, and none of us wanted to hurry you two along or anything.”

Rather than reassure her, however, my words had the opposite effect and left Twilight trying to hide her blushing cheeks behind a nervous grin and a half-hearted chuckle. “I-it wasn’t that long, was it?” she asked. I didn’t need to answer since the fact we were the only two people remaining made the answer clear. “Did… did everyone already leave?”

“Fluttershy’s dad is taking everyone out for victory pizza,” I answered. “I told them we would catch up with them. Again, so you and Flash wouldn’t feel rushed.”

Twilight and Flash had wandered off from the rest of us close to an hour ago. Nobody outright said anything, but we were all thinking the same thing about what may have been transpiring while we discussed plans for the victory party. Knowing Flash, it involved a lot of him making a complete but adorable fool of himself. He may have been a hopeless romantic, but a modern Trotspeare he was not.

“Well, Flash and I had a lot of catching up to do, you know?” Twilight insisted while discovering new shades of red that her face could mimic. “Oh my, i-is it getting warm here or is it just me?”

“Probably all the spotlights,” I suggested as a convenient cover.

Figuring all her ‘catching up’ with Flash might leave her feeling parched, I had kept a fresh bottle of water with me and offered it up to her. She took it with all the haste of a person dying of thirst, chugging down a mouthful the moment it was in her hands. Unfortunately for her, I still had a devious side to me and decided now would be the opportune moment to ask the main question on my mind.

“So have you two kissed yet?”

Twilight got a solid two-and-a-half, maybe even three, feet of spray with her spit-take, which left me in a laughing fit. Even the Princess’ meanest stink-eye couldn’t stop my enjoyment. Just because I was reformed didn’t mean I couldn’t partake in a harmless prank or two.

“It’s not like that,” she insisted between coughs, tugging at the collar of her shirt as though it were constricting around her. “We’re just—I mean, he’s—and I’m a—!”

As Twilight struggled to finish a complete sentence, I managed to calm down enough to throw her a lifeline. “Come on, Twi, you don’t have to act like this is some scandalous affair,” I reassured her. “Considering how much stress we’ve all been under the past couple of days, I think you’ve earned yourself a little R-and-R.”

Once she had managed to cough all the water out of her throat and calm down enough to form coherent thoughts, her expression took a more worried turn. “Before coming to Ponyville, I never even bothered with friends, much less something beyond that. I’d have only the slightest idea what to do under the best of circumstances, and these are far from it. I mean, we’re literally from two different worlds!”

“So? You think you’re the first person to try something long distance? You make it sound like you’ll be on other sides of the globe rather than just other sides of a magic portal.”

“I know that, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m a—” Twilight stopped herself for a moment to glance around, just to make sure nobody else was in earshot, “—I’m a pony. He’s a human. What if he freaks out about that?”

“Pinkie and the others didn’t,” I reminded her.

“None of them want to kiss me!”

“I’m sure Pinkie would if you asked her nicely enough.”

“I—what?” There was a brief flash of frustration but she soon realized I was just trying defuse the tension and sighed in appreciation. “You know what I meant, Sunset.”

Though Twilight’s position was an understandable one, she hadn’t spent the past weeks dealing with Flash’s repeated inquiries, nor understood the boy to the extent that I did. Seeing her fret over this pony-related issue seemed laughable to me, and while it was tempting to express that feeling openly, I kept all the laughter internalized.

“He’s already seen you sprout magical wings, on two separate occasions!” I emphasized this fact, in case it somehow went over her head, by waving a pair of raised fingers in her face. “Plus he’s witnessed you defeat evil demonic beings with a giant, rainbow laser beam, again on two separate occasions. I think it’s safe to say he got the hint that you’re not a normal girl.”

“But I’m not even that! I’m a pony, remember?” Twilight replied. “You’re the only one here who really knows what I am. If Flash and I were ever, you know… serious. He’d eventually have to see it. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself keeping that kind of information from him.”

“Twilight, you have to understand that Flash Sentry is a hopeless romantic,” I stressed to my friend, throwing my arms up into the air in exasperation. “You’re a princess from a magical, faraway kingdom, for crying out loud! You’ve practically stepped out of a fairy tale for him.”

“You really think he won’t mind?”

A simple yes might have sufficed but I wanted to hammer my point in so I sat up and collected my thoughts, if only to create a dramatic pause. “Twilight, what I’m about say I want you to commit to memory, for it is going to be a nigh-perfect recreation of how Flash Sentry is going to react to the news. And when the day comes and he creates this moment almost word for word, I will be there to shout ‘called it’ and immortalize the moment with a selfie.”

“This isn’t necessary, Sunset,” Twilight deadpanned.

“Shhhh, I’m getting into character.” It was a simple process that required me to empty my mind of all thoughts, save for every sappy romance movie and song I had endured whilst dating. I began by grasping my friend’s hands with my own, holding them up to our face as our gazes met. “Twilight Sparkle, ever since we first met, I have been entranced not only by your smile, but your compassion and selfless spirit,” I started off with a slow and deliberate pace. “True beauty comes from the heart, and yours shines brighter than any star in the sky. It doesn’t matter what form it takes, its beauty remains the same. And that is why I will always love you, Twilight Sparkle, no matter how many legs you walk upon.”

Now I might’ve been regurgitating words that were as empty as all the times I had told Flash Sentry that I adored him, but my acting skills must have been better than I thought because my friend was beet red across her entire face. Or at least, that’s what I thought at first.

“Am I interrupting you lovebirds?” Luna’s voice perked up from right behind me.

“It’s not what it looks like!” I blurted out. So startled was I that my heart almost jumped out of my chest and ran for the hills screaming like a child. “I can explain, I swear!”

“Hey, you don’t have to explain anything to me,” Luna said, holding up her hands as a gesture for me to stop. “We were all young, wild teenagers once upon a time. I’m just here to tell you that we’re ready to leave.”

Luna left without another word, leaving me now red across the face and my friend trying her best to restrain a chortle behind her hand. No doubt Luna was having her own giggle at my expense, but it was my fault for setting myself up for that.

“L-let’s just get going,” I hastily insisted as I hopped off the stage. “Before Pinkie and Rainbow Dash eat all the pizza.”

I made sure to drag my feet on the way back to the car in order to give my face time to return to its normal tones. However, what gains I made were dashed when I noticed Luna still smirking at me when Twilight and I got into the backseat. If there was any kind of merciful god out there, the car would be engulfed in flames when it started up and I would be spared from what was to come.

“Thanks for giving us a ride, Principal Celestia,” Twilight said in greeting to her mentor’s duplicate.

“It’s least I could do,” Celestia replied. “And there’s no need for such formalities, considering you’re not technically a student of mine.”

“Sorry. I guess it’s just a force of habit,” my friend replied with an apologetic grin. “It feels weird just saying your name without anything else attached to it. At least I’m not accidentally calling you Princess Celestia.”

“I’m sure my sister would secretly relish such a slip of the tongue,” Luna quipped.

Without missing a beat, Celestia met her sister’s piercing wit with her own swift rebuttal. “Aren’t you the one with the ‘Princess of the Night’ nickname when you play your games?”

“That’s different,” her sister huffed before letting the subject drop.

“As I was about to say,” Celestia continued, using the rear-view mirror to check on me and Twilight, “I want you two to know that I am incredibly grateful for everything that you’ve done for the school these past few days. And I’m especially proud of you, Sunset Shimmer. You’ve changed in so many ways since you started down this new road, and you’ve stuck with it even when it seemed like everyone was turning against you.” Her expression dampened for a moment, a remorseful glint in her eye for the briefest of moments. “I know you might think it unnecessary, but I do feel I need to apologize for my behaviour. You and your friends needed help and we turned you away.”

“You were kind of under mind-control at the time,” Twilight tried to reassure the sisters.

To no surprise, neither of them felt comforted by this fact. “I for one am a little frustrated at having my free will repeatedly torn away from me,” Luna grumbled in response. “The next time some denizen from your realm wants to cause trouble, could they try something new? Maybe time travel—at least that would be interesting to hear about afterwards.”

“We’ll be sure to bring that up at the next staff meeting,” I replied.

Not wanting to keep everyone else waiting, the car stirred to life and pulled out of the amphitheatre parking lot, poised and gentle much like its driver. I settled in for what I still hoped to be a peaceful car ride, but for that to happen, everyone had to stay content with the silence. Sadly, nobody told Twilight that.

“So do you think I should give it a try? Me and Flash, I mean,” Twilight asked, picking up the conversation where we had left off.

Despite being the last person in the car that should be giving advice on relationships, I nonetheless offered my encouragement. “I think you should seriously consider it. There’s definitely that spark of interest so you should explore it and see where it leads. What have you got to lose?”

“Considering we just had to stop a trio of sirens in a magical battle of the bands, I wouldn’t put anything outside the realm of possibility when it comes to potential hazards.”

While Twilight had a point, I doubted that Flash Sentry was hiding any secret pools of eldritch power. The guy wears his heart on his sleeve, after all; if he were any more transparent, he’d be invisible.

“Wait, Flash and Twilight?” Celestia chimed in from up front. “When did this start happening?”

“At the Fall Formal,” Luna explained. “Didn’t you see them dancing together?”

“I was busy dealing with the giant hole in the front of the school.”

At the time, I hadn’t realized it, but that marked one of the first occasions where the disaster of the Fall Formal was mentioned and I didn’t feel an immediate barrage of guilt and shame. I was too busy bracing myself for something worse than shame.

“Personally, I am very surprised at this behaviour from Twilight,” Luna began, “considering that only a short while ago Sunset was confessing her undying love for her.”

“Wait, what?” Celestia exclaimed, slamming on the brakes and bringing the car to a neck-jerking halt. “When did—Just how much have I missed?”

Poor naive Twilight was blindsided by this sudden verbal assault by Luna and was left looking like somebody threw a wig onto a tomato. Despite knowing better, I was no less left fumbling over my own words as I tried to mount a defense.

“T-that’s not what I was doing!” I insisted. “We were talking about Flash Sentry!”

“So you were confessing about your love to Flash?” Celestia asked. Whether she was genuinely confused or jumping on the bandwagon was anybody’s guess, but the results were the same. “It might not be a good idea to carry a flame for ex-boyfriends, especially the ones that broke up with you.”

“Twilight likes Flash!”

“So it’s both of you?” Luna continued on with her feigned ignorance. “You shouldn’t let a boy come between the two of you. It could ruin your friendship and poison the relationship.” She then paused, if only to bask in the glow of my and Twilight’s burning faces. “Or is this some sort of three-way love triangle you have going on?”

My friend, still mortified, shot a nervous glance over to me. “Maybe we should try holding still. I hear her vision is based on movement,” I whispered to her.

“She can smell fear,” she replied.

“I can also still hear you.”

“Okay, that’s enough, sis,” Celestia finally intervened. “You keep that up and Twilight will never want to come back and visit.”

My friend and I were able to breathe a sigh of relief as Luna relented, albeit with an exaggerated roll of her eyes at the three of us, as though we were somehow depriving her of something more than just passing amusement. Either way, peace returned to our vessel for the remainder of the journey.

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

Despite the stubborn insistence of some of the people present, the fact that it was a school night meant our pizza-laden celebrations could not last forever into the night. Nor could they move to a new venue after the staff at the pizzeria told us we had to leave so they could close shop. Though there had been no shortages of offers, eventually Twilight decided that she would spend the night at Pinkie Pie’s place and that we would all meet at the statue tomorrow before school so we could bid her farewell.

As much as I would’ve enjoyed having Twilight crash at my place, I was so exhausted from all the day’s events that I just wanted some peace and quiet. Not to mention there would have been further discussions about a certain young boy and I didn’t want to think any further on that subject. At least not when Luna was still lurking about in the shadows.

Between all of the food and the fatigue, I opted to fall face-first into my bed at the earliest convenience, which would’ve made the night unworthy of note were it not for an unexpected intrusion.

It started with just the lightest of knocking, followed by Celestia poking her head in through the opening. “Sunset? Could we talk for a moment?” she inquired.

Though I was half-awake and still buried face-first into a pillow, I nonetheless made a waving gesture to beckon her in along with a muffled guttural reply that sounded more like a cat snoring. Whatever it was, it had to be important for Celestia to bother me so late at night.

Once I managed to roll over enough to see my caretaker sitting on the bed nearby, I murmured in a half-awake daze, “What is it, Celestia? Is something wrong?”

“No, no. Of course not,” Celestia insisted, though the worry lacing her words and expression gave me mixed signals. “I just… wanted to make sure everything was okay. It had been a rather exciting few days and—”

It didn’t take a clairvoyant to see that Celestia was trying to work her way to what she wanted to talk about, which was something important despite her words to the contrary, but the late hour and exhaustion left me with as much patience as a coffee addict first thing in the morning.

“Just tell me what’s wrong so I can go back to sleep.”

Normally being so snippy with Celestia would’ve earned me a reprimand, but instead it had the desired effect and forced my mentor to refocus her thoughts. “At the pizzeria, I overheard Twilight mention that she could travel freely between our worlds now,” she began. “That she didn’t need to wait thirty moons like we had been led to believe.”

“Yeah, she said she can use the magic in our linked journals to open the portals when she needs to,” I answered, gesturing my head to the aforementioned book that now sat on my bedside table. “So no need to worry as much about other evil magical beings from Equestria since Twilight can just open up the portal and hop on through now.”

“That is a small comfort, although one I hope we never have to rely on again,” Celestia said with a somber nod. “It’s just that tomorrow morning, you’re going to be seeing Twilight off as she returns home.”

Since my brain was still sound asleep, I had no hope in following Celestia’s concern, which did little for my patience. “So? What about it?” I murmured.

“That’s your home, too. Remember?”

It still took me a few seconds to realize what was at the root of Celestia’s concerns, but the realization eventually hit like a behind-schedule freight train. There was a way home for me now. No longer did I have to consider Equestria a sealed-off realm that I was exiled away from, forced to endure a thirty-moon-long penance for my sins. I could go through that portal tomorrow and be a unicorn again, have my magic again, and all I’d need to do is ask Twilight if it was okay. In fact, I wouldn’t even need her permission; I could just jump through the portal ahead of her and throw the consequences out the window. The one thing in life I still yearned for, my magic, was within arm’s reach now.

That led to the inevitable question as to why this was worrying Celestia. Surely she would welcome the chance to be free of the burden of having to continually pick up after my mistakes.

Unless that wasn’t what she wanted.

The realization shook my mind awake at that point. “Do you not want me to leave?” I asked.

“This isn’t about what I want,” Celestia replied with a disheartened sigh. “Or at least, it shouldn’t be. I took you in because I told myself that this was what was best for you to learn and grow as a person. It felt like the best option since you were going to be remaining here at the very least until the next time the portal opened.” She paused and sighed once more, casting her gaze out to the window where one could see the moon in the distance. “I can’t force you to stay here, however I might feel about it. I like having you here.”

“You… like having me here?” I repeated in disbelief.

Celestia gave me a quizzical look as though she couldn’t understand how this was somehow a shocking revelation to me. “Sunset, look around you—I’m single and I live with my sister who is also my only remaining family. I’m sure you’ve noticed that Luna has her own interests once school is finished, but for me it’s… quiet,” she explained.

For a moment, I wondered if Princess Celestia ever experienced similar sentiment. She might’ve ruled from a palace full of ponies, but there was always that separation of royalty and etiquette that kept Celestia above the others. She helped occasionally at her School for Gifted Unicorns, but it was more often just as oversight rather than something direct. Did Princess Celestia take on a personal pupil for these similar reasons? To have somebody close that wasn’t bound by the normal social etiquettes that was rife in Canterlot.

Maybe the Princess and the Principal had far more in common than I expected.

“I love my work at the school,” Celestia continued on. “It’s not quite the same as being a teacher, but I enjoy it nonetheless. Each day I get to watch my students grow and learn, shaping into the adults they’ll one day become.” She turned her gaze back to me and the sullen look upon her began to brighten once more. “Having you here these past few months has given me something to look forward to when the school day ends. I liked hearing about how your day went even when it’s just complaining about something Yearling assigned for you to do. I got to watch you grow into a better, more brilliant person each and every day and it’s… it’s everything I imagined it to be. But like I said, you being here has never been about what I want; it’s about what’s best for you.”

The problem with sticking to only what was best for me was the presumption that any of us knew what that really meant. How many people had experience reforming magical-unicorn-turned-teenaged-delinquent? We were all just trying to make the best of a bad situation with the lessons that life has taught us thus far. Would returning to Equestria, a realm where I would be reunited with magic and surrounded by the familiar, be a better option for me? I knew I would enjoy having my magic back, not to mention being able to walk on four hooves again, but would I learn anything? Was I ready to venture out on my own again? I didn’t know what my future held, either here or in Equestria, but the one thing I did know was how I felt about this world and the people here. And I let Celestia know this by reaching out and resting my hand atop of hers.

“I like being here, too,” I said. “I like having friends, and people who care about me for who I am rather than what I can do or who I happen to know. And while it might be a bit unorthodox, living with you and Luna, it… well, it feels like I’m part of a family again. I never realized how much I wanted that until now.”

Judging by the way the tension melted from Celestia’s posture, the weight of the world had just slipped off her back. She leaned over and wrapped her arms around me, sighing in relief as she embraced me like a daughter.

“Whatever happens, Sunset, wherever life takes you, know that you will always have a home here,” she whispered. With her concerns allayed, Celestia headed on her way to retire for the night. “Best you get some rest now, we’ve both got a big day ahead of us.”

“Big day? Is something happening?” I asked. With the Battle of the Bands over, I saw nothing monumental to look forward to tomorrow aside from perhaps a pop quiz.

“I get the feeling you’ll find life at school a bit different tomorrow,” Celestia explained, pausing in the doorway. “As for myself, I’ve got some big messes to clean after all of this.”

And with that, she closed the door behind her. Being too tired for even the simplest trains of thought, I collapsed back into bed and went to sleep. Perhaps if I had been more awake, I would’ve noticed the worry that had still lingered in her voice at the end.