• Published 1st Nov 2014
  • 15,421 Views, 1,499 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-IV

It wasn’t until lunch hour that I was able to finally take some time to myself to analyze the situation I had gotten myself into. The deal with Diamond Tiara seemed straight-forward enough—I help her and Gabby Gums turn me into a public spectacle for humiliation, and Fluttershy gets her flyer in tomorrow’s paper. To be honest, it appeared to be something of a bargain given that the stock price of my self-respect and dignity were at an all-time low. The next few weeks were going to be rough at school regardless of what I did, so why not profit from it? It took several minutes of quiet contemplation, but eventually I was able to convince myself that this would be for the best in the long run. Besides, maybe a little humiliation would help the other students at school realize that I wasn’t the evil tyrant I used to be.

The only problem facing me now, though, was that this was not a one-person job. I discovered rather early on that this task necessitated extra help, and I was hesitant to ask my new friends for it. It wasn’t so much a matter of pride, but I had my reasons for wanting to avoid them.

Sadly, what I wanted and what I needed had driven off in separate directions since the start of lunch, and by halfway through it, the idea of going it alone had driven itself off a cliff. I knew I needed help, and when I saw Applejack passing by in the hallway, I had no choice but to jump at the first opportunity.

“Applejack!” I called out, catching her by surprise.

“Sunset Shimmer?” she replied. She was understandably confused as she glanced about to try and see where I was, but the door between us made that difficult.

“Over here,” I said as I tapped on the door to get her attention.

I watched as she approached, the confusion on her face turning into a slow realization followed by even more confusion. “Sunset, are you...in a locker?”

I tried to nod, but with only a few narrow slits in the door allowing me to see outside, it was impossible for Applejack to see any visual confirmation. “I decided to see how the other side lived,” I explained from within my sheet-steel coffin. “There is surprisingly far more room in here than I expected; I was certain that it’d be impossible to close the door with me in here.”

“Why in blazes are you in there?” Applejack asked. It was a question that I knew would come, but I was still hesitant to answer.

“I figured the cafeteria would be too crowded, so I decided to spend my lunch in quiet seclusion,” I said in an attempt to deflect with a bout of sarcasm. At first, it seemed like it had worked.

Applejack didn’t say anything right away, and instead just tipped her hat back a touch before she idly scratched at her forehead. She then smirked and chuckled a little bit. “No offense, Sunset, but I never reckoned I’d see the day where you’d be the one in the locker. Say, do you remember back to sophomore year, just before the first Wondercolt game of the season?”

“Yes—I shoved you into a locker so that Rainbow Dash would think you missed the game,” I replied with a heavy groan. “The irony is not lost on me. I was, however, hoping that since we’re ‘friends’ now, you would put the past behind you, and get me out.”

“We are, and I will, but you forgot to say please,” Applejack replied with a grin wide enough to consume all the manure of Sweet Apple Acres.

Lucky for Applejack, the locker door spared her from having to bear witness to my most hate-filled glare. What I wouldn’t have given to possess my magic once more so I could set her hat on fire. She certainly was enjoying the moment, which I soon realized that she was entitled to. I never held any expectation that my transition from ‘hated figure’ to ‘new friend’ would be seamless. However, this could’ve just as easily been the sort of good-natured ribbing that occurred between friends. It wasn’t as though I had any reference points at the time.

I let out a sigh loud enough to let Applejack know that I acquiesced.

“Please, Applejack, could you let me out?”

“Now explain why you’re in there,” she answered as she folded her arms across her chest, still smug as ever. “And don’t tell me that you just got ambushed and shoved in. This is your locker, and there ain’t no way you’d just let somebody shove you in there without knocking a tooth out.”

“Oh, come on!” I shouted back, slamming both fists against the door. “I said please, now just let me out!” I threw in a few extra kicks against the door just in case Applejack didn’t get the hint. Judging by my friend’s expression, a strange sort of amused idling, she was about as close to changing her mind as the door was from spontaneously popping open. I had to admit, she played a good game.

“Fine, you win,” I conceded once more. “There’s an unused locker behind you. My cell phone is on the top shelf. Just...just look and you’ll see.”

Though my instructions still left Applejack with far too many unanswered questions, she nonetheless complied and checked on the locker. Much to my relief, my cell phone was still where I had left it. Once I had been entombed inside my new prison, it had been hard to ensure it wasn’t plucked by someone’s sticky fingers.

After a few brief seconds, Applejack shot me a quizzical stare. “Is this a video of you getting stuffed into a locker by the math club?”

“Chess club, actually, but there’s a lot of overlap in their membership,” I explained. “I can see tomorrow’s headlines already—Checkmate for Sunset Shimmer.”

“And are you going to explain why you apparently recorded yourself getting turned into a human sardine?”

“It’d be easier to explain if I didn’t have my knee pinned against my chest,” I answered.

Understandably, Applejack was still hesitant since I had done little to explain myself. She possessed the pieces of the puzzle, but had yet to put them together in a way that made sense. After some consideration, she finally agreed to help get me out. Unlike me, though, Applejack didn’t know how to jimmy open a basic combination lock, so I had to give her the numbers to mine. After a few tries, whether on purpose or ineptitude, she eventually popped the door open, and I came tumbling out into a heap on the floor.

Applejack knelt down beside me and offered me back my phone, followed by, “So what’s this all about?”

“Short version, I’ve made a deal with the student editor of the newspaper,” I said as my friend helped me back up. “I give her embarrassing, awkward, or otherwise compromising photos of myself so that Gabby Gums can have a field day with me for the next week or so, and she’ll put Fluttershy’s flyer into the newspaper circulation.” I checked on my phone to make sure the video was still intact. The last thing I needed was to get stuffed into a locker for nothing. “I figured some nice pictures of me getting my comeuppance at the hands of the chess club would make for a good start.”

It proved easier than I thought to get myself made into a locker-mummy. At least half of the chess club had faced similar torment at my hands in the past, so the opportunity to exact revenge was taken faster than an exposed queen. I could only hope that the rest of the day would present as many easy opportunities to make a public fool of myself.

“Does Fluttershy know you’re doing this?” Applejack asked.

“Um...yes! Of course she does,” I insisted while attempting to muster a sincere, reassuring grin. “She’s totally cool with it. Just in case, though, could you not tell her or anyone else that I’m doing this?”

Unsurprisingly, Applejack was not convinced of this, and she didn’t hesitate to express her opinion on my little scheme. “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” she said, folding her arms across her chest, “and I once listened to Apple Bloom try jackalope calling.”

“It probably is, but I owe this to Fluttershy,” I snapped back. I don’t know why, but for some reason I decided that doubling down on my idiocy was the best call to make. I guess I was just being stubborn as usual. “After everything I’ve done to her, she deserves having something go right, and this—” I paused for a second to let out a quiet, disheartened sigh, “—this is the best I can do.”

I’m not sure if it was my stubbornness or just how pathetic I must have come off, but it seemed to do the trick with convincing Applejack of the nobility of my mission, however misguided it may be.

“Well, your heart’s in the right place, even if your head ain’t,” Applejack concluded. “Okay, I won’t tell Fluttershy or the others for now, but I still think you ought to.”

“Also, I was wondering if I could trouble you for a little bit of help,” I added with a hopeful grin. “I just need to provide convincing photos; it doesn’t matter if they’re staged or not. I was wondering if you could maybe help me out by taking the pictures.”

“And what exactly is your plan? You gonna try and get shoved into a locker by the A/V club next?”

While Applejack was skeptical at first, when I offered my cell phone back to her, she eventually accepted it. Gabby Gums was not going to be satisfied with selfies, and setting up my camera beforehand was too risky to be a long-term strategy. Having Applejack shadow me for most of the day and take pictures when something embarrassing happened would ensure that I had enough material to satisfy Diamond Tiara and her gossip columnist. I had some ideas for possible scenarios to stage, but before I could elaborate further, we were interrupted.

“Ooo! What’s this about the A/V club?” Pinkie Pie’s voice cut in like a hot knife. Jumping seemingly out of nowhere, the energetic party animal landed right next to me with curious wonder in her eyes. “Are you thinking of joining a club? Oh! That’s a great idea! Nothing helps show people you’re not crazy evil anymore like some school spirit!”

Applejack and I exchanged some nervous glances. She probably didn’t want to say anything out loud given that she had the worst poker face in the history of mankind.

“I...uh, was considering something like that,” I answered in a half-truth. While joining a school club did sound like a reasonable thing to do, I was hesitant to approach any of them. The thought that any club would want me as a member sounded as likely and fanciful as rainstorms of chocolate milk. “I don’t think the A/V club is right for me, though. I don’t exactly know much about either of those things.”

“Well how about the chess team?” Pinkie Pie suggested, pulling a random chess piece out of her hair. “Or maybe the math club? Oh! I know, the glee club! You got lots of that, right?”

Pinkie’s intensity always had a way of catching me off-guard. I didn’t want to encourage it, yet at the same time, not indulging her whims was just as likely to prompt further outbursts. “Me? Singing in front of a crowd? Not even if the fate of the world was at stake,” I scoffed at the notion.

The news disappointed Pinkie, but that lasted all of five seconds before Rainbow Dash arrived to the scene and threw her hat into the ring. “Hey, if Sunset’s going to join anything, it’s gotta be a sports team,” Rainbow insisted before throwing an arm over my shoulder. “Nobody’s going to notice if she joins a boring club like the chess team. If we get her onto something that people will actually watch, then she can go about showing everyone just how awesome she can be. Then it’s just instant popularity.”

“I don’t really play any sports though,” I replied, “and joining a sports team kind of requires a person to be, you know, good at it.”

“Don’t you worry about it,” Rainbow Dash tried to reassure me, accentuating her point with a few firm pats on my back. “I’m the captain of, like, every team worth joining. We just find a sport that you’re okay at, I put in a good word with the coach, and you’ll be on your way to being twenty percent cooler in no time.”

“But I’ve—” I tried to raise an objection, but they would have none of that.

“Woo! Let’s get Sunset Shimmer onto a team!” Pinkie cheered. “Best idea, ever!”

“I really don’t—”

“How about I round up some of the guys from the soccer team and we can meet up after class,” Rainbow continued on with no heed given to me. “Maybe if you play well enough, we can squeeze you into the line-up for our match on Friday against Crystal Heart Academy. It’s only a practice match, so it’s no biggie to put some of the rookies in for experience.”

“Couldn’t we—” Another interruption came, but this time from the bell. Neither Pinkie nor Rainbow Dash waited to hear what I said before they hurried on their way to class, leaving me to contemplate the whirlwind that just blew through my life. “This is just perfect,” I grumbled under my breath. After a few moments, though, I couldn’t help but grin.

“Any reason you’re smiling?” Applejack inquired.

“I am going to wind up making a gigantic fool of myself after class,” I explained. Perhaps for the first time in Canterlot High history, a student was looking forward to making a spectacle of themselves in front of others for something other than a drama production. “This is going to make me look awful, and you are going to take pictures of it all. This is just perfect.”

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

After classes had ended for the day, I met up with Applejack and we headed out to meet Rainbow Dash at her battlefield of choice—the soccer field. During the later half of the day, Applejack and I had managed to stage a few decent unflattering pictures of myself for Gabby Gums. There was only so much that could be done on short notice and during class, but a few pictures of me snoring at my desk, picking my nose, and getting my jacket pulled over my head by a disgruntled hockey player were bound to make the school’s gossip columnist happy. Still, if I wanted to ensure that Gabby Gums and Diamond Tiara upheld their end of the bargain, I needed something really juicy. Humiliating myself before members of the school soccer team would surely seal the deal.

“If you want, I could get Big Mac and a rope and we could dangle you from a school tree by your ankles,” Applejack suggested while en route to the soccer field.

“I’d rather not risk getting my skirt up-ended,” I replied. “As much as I want photos to humiliate myself with, there’s at least one shred of dignity I’d prefer to keep.” I hadn’t reached that level of desperation, and with any luck, I never would. Besides, the gossip column was given a lot of lenience in what it published, but I suspected that such risque images would get shut-down by the administration before someone could shout ‘stop the presses.’

We soon spotted Rainbow Dash in the distance, and when she saw us, she began waving us over. Alongside her was another student that I recognized as from the soccer team: a kid by the name of Thunderlane, whose brilliant blue mohawk made him about as unforgettable as a three-headed monkey.

On the nearby bleachers were Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Fluttershy, along with other students who were using the structure for their own social gatherings. For a change, I didn’t mind the audience since more eyewitnesses would help sell the story tomorrow. When I saw Fluttershy, she waved at me, which caught me by surprise as she had always been the type to avoid drawing attention to herself. Before I could swing by the bleachers to say hello, though, I was dragged off to the centre of the field by Rainbow Dash, who was babbling on about something being awesome, probably herself.

“Okay Shimmer, you know Thunderlane, right?” Rainbow Dash asked as the three of us met in the center circle. I just nodded my response. She then turned to her teammate and said, “And you know Sunset Shimmer, right?”

Thunderlane nodded as well, glaring needle-like daggers at me. At least he was showing some restraint in his contempt for me.

“So the rules are going to be pretty simple,” Rainbow began. She rolled a soccer ball onto her foot and then lobbed it up so that she could start juggling it with her knees. Show-off. “We’ll do some one-on-one between you and me, and Thunderlane will play goalkeeper against both of us. Whoever scores the most goals in fifteen minutes will be the winner.”

“You realize that the only possible way I could even come close to beating you is if I broke your kneecaps?” I quipped.

“Wait, you’re not actually going to do that, are you?” Thunderlane interjected. I just shot him a glare that non-verbally implied how much of an idiot he would be if he were serious.

“You’ve got to play to win, Sunset; that’s how sports work,” Rainbow Dash assured me whilst continuing to showboat her juggling abilities. I was still skeptical about her claims, but I was not the one that was captain of almost every major sports team on campus. There was no point not giving it everything I had, though, since that would make my failure all the more captivating for others to read about tomorrow.

We set up the ball at the center of the field with Thunderlane taking his position at the far end. A quick glance back to the bleachers gave all the reminder I need as to why I was about to subject myself to a fifteen minute chasm of despair and humiliation. Rainbow Dash positioned herself between me and the goal, apparently offering me a ‘sporting chance’ of having the first go.

“You ready?” Rainbow asked.

For a moment, I wondered if saying no might get me some lenience. “I guess. By the way, how do you play this game?”

I suspect that my opponent stopped listening after the first two words because she didn’t even wait until I finished speaking before darting past me like a multi-coloured roadrunner. It took me a second to realize that the ball was gone too. When I spun around to try and play something resembling defense, Rainbow Dash whisked past me again, leaving me wondering if some pegasus magic may have been left behind in her. By the time I was able to orientate myself, it was just in time for me to watch her blast the ball past Thunderlane.

“Yes! One-nothing for Rainbow Dash!” the victorious striker cheered.

“Oh come on! I was trying to ask you a question,” I complained as she returned to center field with the ball. “Could you at least explain some of the rules to this game?”

“It’s soccer—you kick the ball with your feet into the net over there,” Rainbow explained with a restrained sense of confusion. “What’s there to not understand?”

“I gathered that much. What about the rest of my body?”

“You can use anything other than your arms,” she answered before kicking the ball over to me.

Anything but my arms seemed like a simple enough premise. I went most of my life without arms, so soccer should, in theory, come very easy to me. As one can imagine, the game was more nuanced than that. My first attempt to move the ball forward resulted in the ball getting knocked in a completely different direction than I had intended. Who knew kicking a ball could be so complicated? No sooner had the ball left my control did Rainbow Dash swoop in to snatch it up. Before I could even say ‘where?’, she had done her loop around me, raced towards the net, and planted the ball into the back of the net like a flag.

“Wooooo! Two-nothing!”

“Could you at least give me a fighting chance?” I shouted at her as my opponent ran a victory lap. While I had no issue with being upstaged, this wasn’t making for the best pictures. I needed to produce some photos with more action in it, and I couldn’t do that if Rainbow Dash was finishing the game before I could move more than five steps.

“Okay, okay, but only because I’m your friend,” Rainbow said. By the lack of enthusiasm, you’d think I just asked her to part with a vital organ.

Nonetheless, she refrained from crushing me instantly the next time I touched the ball. I was actually able to get a feel for the sport as I was able to bounce the ball around the grass for a few uninterrupted seconds. Those seconds were enjoyable while they lasted. The moment I wound up to make a kick, Rainbow Dash swept on in and the only thing I kicked was the sky as I overextended the follow-through. One foot was soon followed by the other as I up-ended myself and landed with a thump and an expletive.

A few seconds later, I heard Rainbow Dash having another self-aggrandizing cheer, which meant the score was now three to zero. Granted, I cared little for what the score was since I had no hope of winning, but it would be nice to get at least one point for myself. Once I got back to my feet and wiped the grass off my butt, I vowed that I was going to get at least one point in this charade of a competition. I didn’t care if it did mean breaking somebody’s kneecaps, I was going to show Rainbow Dash that I did have a modicum of athletic ability.

Ten minutes and twelve points later, I was beginning to think that I had the athletic abilities of a three-toed sloth. I spent more time chasing after Rainbow Dash, who I swear was deliberately leading me around the soccer field, than I spent with the ball in my possession. To the pits with humiliation, the sheer amount of sweat and exhaustion was almost unbearable. Even getting strung up by my ankles from a tree sounded like a preferable alternative to playing this game that even Discord himself would find absurd.

“That’s enough. I give up!” I shouted in exhaustion, doubling and bracing myself against my knees. “You win, Rainbow Dash, you win.”

“Well you didn’t do too bad,” Rainbow remarked.

To which, I snapped in response, “Didn’t do too bad? The only way I could’ve done worse is if I gave Thunderlane a concussion!”

“Okay, yeah, it was pretty horrible.” It was refreshing to see that it took Dash all of three seconds to agree with my self-evaluation. At least she tried to be nice at the start. “Tell you what, I’ll let you have one free kick on the net with no interference from me whatsoever.”

“Gee, and I thought Rarity was the generous one,” I quipped, though the sarcasm flew straight over Rainbow’s head.

My dreams of soccer glory may have been dead, not that I had any to begin with, but at least I could end this miserable experience on a high note. With nothing but grass and Thunderlane standing between me and the net, I lined myself up for the kick. After taking a few breaths to steady my nerves, I braced myself for the sprint. It was not reluctance that kept me still, but rather I took the moment to absorb my surroundings as my senses heightened. A crisp autumn breeze blew in from my left; droplets of sweat coalesced atop my brow before funneling down the contours of my cheek and nose, each breath rasping against my arid throat. I was frustrated and winded, but I used these feelings for motivation to act rather than to relent.

I surged forward, channeling all of my frustrations onto that dichromatic sphere of torment. With absolutely no understanding of proper form or technique, I just swung my foot at the ball with all the reckless abandon of a drunken viking swinging an axe. The ball rocketed towards the net.

And straight into Thunderlane’s face.

His head snapped back like a Pez dispenser, and he remained motionless for a brief instant. A fervent silence blanketed the soccer field with everyone holding their breath in anticipation. Without even so much as a whimper, the goalkeeper then collapsed to the ground like a damp rag.

To make matters worse, the soccer ball landed on the ground next to him, rolled towards the goal line, and stopped just a few inches shy of it. The universe wouldn’t even give me that minor victory. As I stared on, stricken silent by the sheer weight of my misfortune, the rest of my friends went rushing past me to see if Thunderlane was still alive. I was the last to arrive, due in part to dragging my feet out of trepidation.

“Is he...still conscious?” I asked.

“Don’t worry,” Rainbow replied with surprising optimism. “Thunderlane always likes to ham up his injuries. He probably thinks he can get out of practice on Thursday if he’s injured.” She rolled her eyes and then gently tapped the fallen soccer player with her foot. “Now get up, Thunderlane, nobody believes you!”

The skepticism only lingered for a few more seconds until it became obvious that Thunderlane wasn’t trying to milk any sympathy out of us. In fact, his only response were a few dazed groans, and something about a potato.

“I think I might’ve broken him,” I concluded. However, since I didn’t have any medical training whatsoever, the extent of my diagnosis was ‘he’s leaking red from his face.’ I made the safe assumption that pony and human physiology responded to trauma in similar fashions. Just to be sure, I gave him a nudge with my boot. “Maybe we should get him to the nurse,” I commented afterwards.

“Always gotta be lazy, eh Thunderlane? Now you’re making me haul your butt all the way to the nurse’s office,” Rainbow Dash grumbled as she and the others began carrying the still-stunned athlete away.

Only Applejack stayed behind, if only briefly as she met up with me.

“Please tell me you got all of that,” I said, followed by a tired sigh.

“Eeyup.” Applejack nodded before tossing my cell phone over. “That last bit might’ve been a bit overkill though. Couldn’t ya have just tripped on the ball or something?”

“You think I did that on purpose? I didn’t mean to knock him out,” I insisted, although my friend remained skeptical for a few more seconds. “What kind of goal keeper lets himself get nailed in the face, anyways?”

“Well for starters, he’s a midfielder,” Applejack replied. “Secondly, for someone who used to be a horse, you sure don’t kick very well.”

As tempting as it was to lecture Applejack on every inaccuracy and incorrect assumption her remarks made, I had better things to do with my time; I doubt she would’ve listened to an explanation, anyways. I reviewed my friend’s camera work, and was satisfied that she had managed to capture the worst possible side of every incident. I compiled all of the files together and readied to send them to Gabby Gums’ e-mail. I would’ve preferred to hand them over to Gabby in person, but apparently our school gossiper was shy about meeting people. Given the content of some of her articles, and what was about to come, I couldn’t blame her. If these pictures had surfaced a few weeks ago, I would’ve burned down the whole school just to find her.

Now, I was about to send them to her of my own free will.

“You okay, Sunset?” Applejack spoke up, followed by a nudge against my shoulder.

“Wh—? Oh, yes. Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” It was a stammered response, but I had been lost in thought when my friend decided to start being inquisitive again.

“You’ve been staring at your phone for a while now,” she explained.

“Feels like I’m holding the self-destruct button to my social life,” I commented, still staring at my thumb that hovered precariously over the ‘send’ button. I had convinced myself this would be easy to go through with because my standing at the school was already six feet under. However, the saying went that things could always get worse, so that possibility had not been forgotten, but what could possibly be worse than the animosity that I was already enduring?

“It doesn’t have to be like this,” Applejack reminded me. “Fluttershy certainly ain’t going to hold it against you for not being able to help more with the animal shelter.”

“Yes it does,” I replied with a quiet sigh. I had no reason to believe that Applejack was misleading me in any respect, but hers wasn’t the only disappointment I was faced with. I did not have to torpedo my reputation any further, but Fluttershy didn’t have to sit through another failure in life. “She might not hate me, but if I don’t do something, I will.”

With that, I tapped ‘send,’ and sealed my fate.

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